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
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
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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”.
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 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. [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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
Timeline: What Happened on the Morning of September 11, 2001
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,  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. 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.
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.  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, 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. 
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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.
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.” 
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.” 
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. 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. 
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.
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. 
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.” 
“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.” 
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.
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, and are documented to be financing the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council against President Bashar al-Assad. 
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.
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.” 
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.
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.”  Under behind-the-scenes machinations the Libyan government is dominated by Jihadists and by followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, as in Tunisia and Egypt. 
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. 
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.
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,  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. 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 ofFull Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order
 Dan Peleschuk, Sheikh Murdered Over Religious Split Say Analysts, RIA Novosti, August 30, 2012, accessed in
 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).”
 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?”
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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.
“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.
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.
Virtually unrestricted NSA data mining tramples on Fourth Amendment rights brazenly. In December 2013, Federal District Court of the District of Columbia Judge Richard Leon ruled NSA spying unconstitutional, saying:
The threshold issue is whether plaintiffs have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated when the Government indiscriminately collects their telephone metadata along with the metadata of hundreds of millions of other citizens without any particularized suspicion of wrongdoing, retains all of that metadata for five years, and then queries, analyzes, and investigates that data without prior judicial approval of the investigative targets.
I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary’ invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.
Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.
On Friday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals overruled him. It’s perhaps America’s most extremist appeals court. People for the American Way (PFAW) explained its character and power as follows:
Despite progressive victories in 2012, the far right’s outsized influence on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit gives them the power to undermine progressive laws and thwart the agenda that Americans elected President Obama to pursue.
This court’s decisions affect the entire country, making it second only to the Supreme Court in national importance. (It’s) dominated by right-wing ideologues who are deeply hostile to the use of a robust federal government to tackle national problems and make our lives better.
It has exclusive judicial authority over federal agency decisions and regulations affecting everyone. Its rulings are “almost guaranteed to be the last (judicial) word,” said PFAW.
It remanded the case back to Judge Richard Leon. Klayman plaintiffs must prove the impossible – provide evidence that their phone records were collected. No ruling was rendered on metadata collection constitutionality. Friday’sdecision effectively endorsed it.
EFF explained recent government “releases…make clear that the plaintiffs’ records were in fact collected.” Documents obtained from a New York Times FOIA request revealed Verizon Wireless collects bulk telephone records of its subscribers without their knowledge – at least since 2010, likely earlier.
“The government should give up its shell game here and admit the time frame that it collected the Klayman plaintiffs records, along with all other Verizon Wireless customers,” said EFF.
Most important is unconstitutional mass NSA spying on virtually all Americans – for phony national security reasons. An earlier article explained the following:
In June 2013, the ACLU challenged “the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s mass collection of Americans’ phone records (ACLU v. Clapper).
It argued that doing so violates Fourth and First Amendment rights, saying:
Because the NSA’s aggregation of metadata constitutes an invasion of privacy and an unreasonable search, it is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.
The call-tracking program also violates the First Amendment, because it vacuums up sensitive information about associational and expressive activity.
NSA claims authorization under the Patriot Act’s Section 215 – the so-called “business records” provision.
It permits warrantless searches without probable cause. It violates fundamental First Amendment rights. It does so by mandating secrecy.
It prohibits targeted subjects from telling others what’s happening to them. It compromises free expression, assembly and association.
It authorizes the FBI to investigate anyone based on what they say, write, or do with regard to groups they belong to or associate with.
It violates Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections by not telling targeted subjects their privacy was compromised. It subverts fundamental freedoms for contrived, exaggerated, or nonexistent security reasons.
At the time of its suit, the ACLU said “(w)hatever Section 215′s ‘relevance’ requirement might allow, it does not permit the government to cast a seven-year dragnet sweeping up every phone call made or received by Americans.”
The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorized surveillance relating to “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers.”
It restricts spying on US citizens and residents to those engaged in espionage in America and territory under US control.
No longer. Today anything goes. America is a total surveillance society. Obama officials claim no authority can challenge them. Governing this way is called tyranny.
The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. It held Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act doesn’t permit bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously – overturning a lower court decision.
The Obama administration argued that the ACLU lacked “standing” to challenge NSA surveillance practices, and Congress “precluded” judicial review except by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court most often only hearing government arguments.
The appeals court rejected this reasoning, saying:
If the government is correct, it could use Section 215 to collect and store in bulk any other existing metadata available anywhere in the private sector, including metadata associated with financial records, medical records, and electronic communications (including e‐mail and social media information) relating to all Americans.
Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans.
The DC Circuit Appeals Court refused to strike down mass data-mining – violating the constitutional rights of millions of Americans – effectively supporting tyranny by not opposing it.
“Instead, it endorsed the government’s argument that no public, adversarial court can review its actions unless those seeking review can prove with some certainty that they were one of the millions whose records were collected,” said EFF.
Its ruling requires mass data mining challengers to “perform an almost impossible task – proving the still secret details of an admitted mass surveillance program in order to have a court determine whether it is constitutional.”
The ruling further erodes freedom in America, fast disappearing altogether. It’s a triumph for tyranny. EFF said it’ll “continue to fight to hold the NSA accountable for mass collection of Americans’ private information. Our phone and Internet networks should be protected from unfettered government spying.”
Enactment of the Orwellian USA Freedom Act (the renamed Patriot Act) changed little. NSA and other US spy agencies continue trampling on constitutional protections.
Big Brother is real. Unconstitutional mass surveillance is official US policy. It’s one of the most defining characteristics of unchecked police state power.
Edward Snowden said he “do(esn’t) want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”
Nor should anyone tolerate unconstitutional intrusiveness.
August 29 marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. A personal note: Its devastation and ugly aftermath inspired me at the time to begin writing about major world and national issues along with media work pro bono.
It bears repeating some what that first article said – calling Katrina less what nature wrought, more a conspiracy of federal, state and city government along with business interests against the area’s most vulnerable residents – mainly its poor Black population.
Over a million people were displaced. Over 1,000 died. Cashing in on disaster followed. Former Republican congressman/current lobbyist Richard Baker said at the time: “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it but God did.”
New Orleans developer Joseph Canizaro added: “I think we have a clean sheet to start again (and take advantage of) big opportunities.”
Their scheme: Erasing poor communities, replacing them with upscale development. Battered Gulf coast areas became a laboratory for disaster capitalism pioneered in Iraq.
Some of the same familiar names were involved – Halliburton, Bechtel and other profiteers aiming to cash in big. Plans were made in advance. Execution followed storm damage.
Davis-Bacon law guaranteeing prevailing wages on federally funded or assisted construction contracts was suspended – letting contractors employ undocumented workers at poverty wages and no benefits.
Blackwater USA and other paramilitaries were deployed straightaway – in full battle gear, patrolling streets in SUVs or unmarked cars with no license plates.
Army combat troops, National Guard forces, US Border Patrol operatives, and out-of-state police followed. Devastated New Orleans became a battleground.
In August 2013, Loyola University New Orleans Law Professor Bill Quigley wrote about conditions in New Orleans eight years post-Katrina.
Nearly 100,000 (largely Black) people “never got back,” he said. “(T)he city remains incredibly poor, jobs and income vary dramatically by race, rents are up, public transportation is down, traditional public housing is gone, life expectancy differs dramatically by race and place, and most public education has been converted into charter schools.”
Quigley explained city population declined from 455,000 pre-Katrina to about 369,000 in 2013. Nearly half of working-age Black men were unemployed.
Area African-American households earn half as much as white ones. Jobs continue shifting to urban areas. New Orleans public housing is gone. Poverty is double the national average.
Public transportation is woefully poor. Public education changed dramatically – to 80% quasi-public charter schools, an interim step toward likely privatization.
Imprisonment rates are four times higher that the national average. Quigley called New Orleans losing 948 square miles of coastal wetlands from 1932 to 2010 “the biggest crime of all.”
On August 27, he commented on New Orleans 10 years post-Katrina, saying tens of thousands of the city’s “sickest, oldest, poorest, youngest, people with disabilities and the like” were left behind.
Plans were to eliminate all unwanted residents. “Well, you can’t leave if you’re in a hospital. You can’t leave if you’re a nurse.”
You can’t leave if you are a patient. You can’t leave if you’re in a nursing home. You can’t leave if you don’t have a car. All these things.
They didn’t…plan for that. And so, we’re talking about somewhere in the neighborhood, I think, of 100,000 (unwanted) people probably (remaining) in the metropolitan New Orleans area.
When Katrina struck, lots of nursing home and hospital deaths occurred, Quigley explained. “The jail was full, 7,000 or so prisoners there without electricity, water, everything…(P)eople (were) stranded on house tops…”
Mandatory evacuation was ordered, but there were no buses, no trains. Anyone without transportation had no way out.
Tourist, business and other areas important to New Orleans largely recovered – “100,000 of our sisters and brothers in the African-American community never made it back, ever,” Quigley explained.
And returning poor people are worse off than ever. “Recovery has been a tale of two cities.” Privileged residents are well served. Blacks, the elderly, disabled and other disadvantaged ones were left out.
Bush and Obama administrations did nothing to help – serving rich and powerful interests exclusively, ignoring others most in need.
On August 27, Obama visited New Orleans for the first time as president, ignoring needs of its most disadvantaged throughout his tenure.
He lied claiming “(m)y administration is going to stand with you and fight alongside you until the job is done, until (the city) is all the way back. All the way.”
Promises made throughout his tenure were systematically broken. America’s most disadvantaged in New Orleans and nationwide are more on their own unaided by all levels of government since pre-Great Depression days. Nothing in prospect suggests change.
New Orleans remains a window on America’s future. Survival increasingly depends on the ability to pay. Those unable are neglected, abandoned, ignored and forgotten.
If you think our First Amendment rights are being trampled here in America left and right, check out what’s going on in Spain.
This woman posted the following picture of a police car parked in a handicapped spot on her Facebook page with the caption “Park where you bloody well please and you won’t even be fined.”
Now, because of Spain’s Orwellian “Citizens Security Law” which went into effect July 1st, they have fined her €800 or nearly $900 USD simply for sharing the picture on social media. Police were reportedly able to track her down within 48 hours.
That’s because the so-called “Citizens Security Law,” which the people in Spain lovingly refer to as the “gagging law,” has a clause that says, “the unauthorised use of images of police officers that might jeopardise their or their family’s safety or that of protected facilities or police operations”. The fines for this can go up to an astounding €30,000 (nearly $33,700 USD).
Apparently sharing the fact that your local officer can take up a parking spot designated for a handicapped person, an act you would be heavily fined for, is not “legal” in Spain because it “endangers” that cop’s “personal safety.”
When the police were asked how the photo had put them at risk under the definition of the law, spokesman Fernando Portillo said, “the officers felt the woman had impugned their honour by posting the picture,” according to The Guardian. Portillo said police can park wherever they want when they are in an emergency, and the officer in the photo parked in the handicapped spot because someone had vandalized a nearby park.
If you think about this logically, it obviously makes no sense. The only way a picture like that would endanger that cop’s safety is if someone saw the photo and got mad enough to commit violence against the cop because he parked in a handicapped spot… in which case, it would actually be the cop endangering his own safety and making himself look bad by parking in a handicapped spot to begin with.
Then again, there’s really no point in trying to argue with an Orwellian police state. It’s not there to make sense. It’s there to control everyone. Completely.
Not that it’s even necessary, but to further prove this is simply all about keeping Spain’s citizens from speaking out against their police in a public forum, the first guy who got slapped with a fine under the law was someone who merely called his local police “a pack of slackers” on Facebook.
The encroachment of self-help kiosks and grocery store scanners has led doomsayers to suggest automation threatens the workforce of the future. A new report argues it will create new business sectors and new jobs as well.
By studying large companies in various industries, from Delta Airlines Inc. to Whole Foods Market Inc., as well as many startups, analysts have forecast that automation will erase 22.7 million jobs by 2025, or 16 percent of today’s total.
The prediction comes in a report titled “The Future of Jobs, 2025: Working Side-By-Side with Robots,” published by Forrester Research this week. The study’s findings were drawn from government employment data, and interviews with businesses and academics.
Automation in daily life is already prevalent and expanding beyond the grocery store scanner. Robots are now delivering room service to guests in the Aloft hotel in San Francisco, and self-service kiosks filling orders at delis rather than humans.
Lowe’s hardware is testing Oshbot, a robotic sales assistant that can answer questions, and show customers a floorplan of the store or lead them directly to products they seek. It was recently featured in an RT segment.
However, the study argued that the decline in service jobs caused by increasing automation would be offset by the creation of new ones, reducing net jobs losses to only 9.1 million, or 7 percent.
“Physical robots require repair and maintenance professionals – one of several job categories that will grow up around a more automated world,” wrote J P Gownder, the lead author in Forbes.
“That’s a net loss of 7 percent: far fewer than most forecasts, though still a significant job loss number.”
Robots are defined in the study as physical robots that do manual labor on assembly lines or in warehouses. Included in the definition is sophisticated software capable of crunching large amounts of data to perform intellectual tasks such as giving medical diagnoses, analyzing the weather, or coming up with culinary recipes.
Automation will and is replacing the work of people, but the report argued for every 10 jobs automated, one new job will be created in software engineering, design, maintenance, and support or training.
Gownder’ team said by 2019, 25 percent of all job-based tasks will have been offloaded to software robots, physical robots, or customer self-service automation.
The most job losses will occur in sectors like office support, construction, and sales, with self-help services replacing cashiers, retail salespeople, and real estate brokers and agents.
The report also found smart household gadgets would threaten the livelihoods of repair workers, plumbers and electricians.
“These are not white-collar jobs,” J P Gownder told WIRED. “This is the evolution of the repair person. It’s harder to fix a robot than to fix a vending machine.”
The report found for most workers, robotic challenges would change the way people approached their daily jobs, requiring new methods of job training, management, and financial reporting systems.
Gownder’s report presents a less dire view to the one presented in the often-quoted Oxford University study of 2013 “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation” from academics Carl Frey and Michael Osborne. Their analysis predicted robots will displace jobs at an alarming rate, finding that 47 percent of total US jobs were “at risk” of being replaced by automation.
ORIENTAL REVIEW publishes exclusive English translation of the interview given by Andrew Korybko to the Macedonian TV presenter Slobodan Tomic, the host of “Гласот на Народот” (Vox Populi) show.
They speak about the current migrant crisis in Europe in the context of Mideast destabilization following the “Arab Spring” and why the Balkans and Greece are chosen as a gateway for the masses of miscellaneous refugees to the EU. Much attention is given to the threat of the radical ISIL-linked elements penetrating Europe and the back-stage role of the US in this process.
How do you evaluate the current situation of Mideast refugees transiting through Macedonia and Serbia en route to the EU?
The crisis is totally out of control, and it’s direct blowback from the US and its allies’ regime change operations in Libya and Syria. Europe gains nothing whatsoever from this and is anxiously trying to mitigate the fallout while giving off the impression of partial compliance with its heavily promoted ‘values’, but conversely, Europe’s pain is the US’ gain. Washington is seeing to it that the continent’s most prominent countries (France and Germany, in particular) are caught up in a demographic nightmare, a time bomb of sorts that can be strategically activated at will in the event that these states ever decide to pursue policies independent of the US’ dictates.
They already had their own preexisting issues before this, but now they’re being exacerbated and creating clear tension between identity groups and political parties, opening new avenues for the US to exercise its stereotypical divide-and-rule policies when needed. To put it frankly, the US purposely created the conditions that sparked the refugee crisis, and it’s weaponizing the individuals that are fleeing from these theaters to use them as unwitting tools in a larger power play against Europe. In the course of events, the refugees (identified by the US as ‘strategic weapons/assets’) plow through the Balkans and simultaneously achieve one of Washington’s other goals, which is to destabilize Serbia and Macedonia. Everything that’s going on is basically the application of chaos theory in a geopolitical context.
Why do they opt for taking this route? Is it coincidental or something consciously chosen?
The US exercises certain degrees of situational influence to ‘guide’ the refugees along this route, just as it’s capable of corralling ISIL in the direction of its shared strategic objectives in Syria, for example. To accomplish this task, its intelligence agencies exert influence on the covert network of human traffickers facilitating these migrant flows, getting them to believe that the Macedonia-Serbia-Hungary route is the fastest and safest one for their ‘clients’. From the viewpoint of the migrants and traffickers, this satisfies the criteria they’re looking for – speed and relative safety (as in not getting caught) – while for the US, it accomplishes the destabilization of these two geostrategic countries with little to no cost involved on its part. Everything is taken care of through proxy, and the US only has to create the conditions needed and give the guiding push in order for the chaotic processes it’s unleashed to autonomously upset the given order on their own.
Why is our southern neighbor Greece organizing buses and sending the refugees to our borders? Shouldn’t they be sending them back to where they came from?
At first, it appeared as though the Greek government was completely overwhelmed with the crisis and powerless to act in containing it (also purposely being deprived of help from its EU and NATO ‘allies’ as part of a ‘bargaining mechanism’ to pressure the Tsipras government into submitting to the debt deal), but now it’s clear that some of the Greeks are actively aiding and abetting this process. What really stands out as evidence of this is the Greek government’s plan to ship the refugees from Kos island to the northern Greek mainland, thereby putting them within easy reach of the Macedonian border. Why not send them closer to the Albanian or Bulgarian borders, why the Macedonian one? Could it be that certain figures in Greece have a deep-seated vendetta against Macedonia and her people and are seeking to use this crisis to punish the country? Could it also be that these very same government figures might have been given orders by the EU and NATO to do these functions as part of a shadow deal agreed to in exchange for EU bailout funds? No matter what the reason is, it’s become evident that some figures in the Greek government are complicit in the weaponization of Mideast refugees against Macedonia.
Why doesn’t NATO or anyone else help the refugees? It’s clear that these people see Europe as a dreamland, but why is that, anyhow? And why are they going through Orthodox countries on their way to the Schengen Zone, why not through Albania-Bosnia-Croatia-Slovenia? They’re part of Europe, after all, but could it be that NATO is looking after its interests in these countries and directing the migrants elsewhere?
Macedonia has been singled out for a couple reasons, but they all go back to the regime change that was plotted against the country and attempted by Zoran Zaev (who was acting on behalf of his American patrons). There is no intrinsic characteristic that makes Macedonia more ‘attractive’ to traversing migrants than Albania or Bulgaria, for example, and the same north-south transport routes that some analysts say are responsible for this are also present in both of those countries. What’s more, why don’t’ the migrants just use mainland Greece as a stepping stone for final boat ride to Italy? The reason the US and its intelligence agencies don’t promote these routes is because they specifically have certain strategic objectives that they fulfill by guiding the migrants through Macedonia and Serbia. They scare the traffickers into thinking that they’d be busted if they go through Albania, Bulgaria, or across the Ionian Sea, which is how they manipulate them into overwhelming choosing the Macedonia-Serbia route. The US is well aware of the destabilization that follows in the wake of tens of thousands of refugees flooding across the borders of these relatively small states, which is why it does everything it can to avoid having this happen to its Albania and Bulgarian allies, but intentionally guides these illegal migrant flows into Macedonia and Serbia.
Why don’t the migrants go to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and similar countries in the region? These states share the same religion as most of the migrants and are also among the richest in the world.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar only want migrants that can work menial jobs and be controlled, which is why they instead prefer South Asians from India and Pakistan. Destitute Syrians and Libyans would be a burden to their national budgets, which both absolute monarchies prefer to keep exclusively for the benefit of their actual citizens. Also, the migrants are fleeing sectarian warfare and terrorist groups, and those two countries are the largest state sponsors of terrorism in the world, with their ideologies being directly to blame for the wars in Libya and Syria. It’s for these reasons why those refugees don’t go to either state, and plus, they know that even in the unlikely event that they decided to do so, they’d be immediately kicked out, jailed, or possibly even killed by the security forces (which is even more likely if they are of a non-Sunni sect).
How can Macedonia possibly deal with this crisis, and who can help it?
Macedonia took a patriotic and pragmatic stand by declaring a state of emergency and temporarily restricting access through its southern border, but this proved unable to stem the overwhelming tide of refugees. When the crowds got violent and the military was forced to respond with tear gas and rubber bullets, Skopje was met with vague EU criticism about ‘human rights’ and the ‘restraint of force’, which proved that Brussels isn’t sincere in helping Macedonia solve this problem. Thus, the government is heavily pressured into the ‘lesser evil’ of reluctantly allowing the migrants to traverse its territory in as controlled of a manner as possible as opposed to stopping them at the Greek border. This choice was made because Macedonia is receiving no help whatsoever from its ‘partners’ in preventing them from crossing, and it doesn’t want to be in a position where any use of force against them is manipulated by the international (Western) media into setting off a new round of anti-government agitation.
In an ideal world, the EU and NATO wouldn’t have launched the Wars on Libya and Syria that preceded this crisis, but given that they’ve regretfully occurred and the situation is what it is at the present, if they were Macedonia’s true ‘partners’ and intent on helping it, they’d send more than paltry and insufficient funds. In fact, they’d take an active stance in solving the problem at its continental source, Greece, and properly assisting the government there. Instead none of this is happening, and the EU is only throwing money at the problem to make it look like it’s doing something. In reality, it would rather leave the refugees in the Balkans and wall itself off from the region if it ever came to that point. Macedonia, in effect, doesn’t have any friends in the EU, NATO, or the Greek government, and this crisis simply proves what many people had already suspected.
Where does Russia stand in all of this, and what role can it play in fighting against ISIL? The reason I ask is because there’s a particularly interesting analysis coming out of the country by academician and historian Jelena Guskova, who warns that a so-called “Green Transversal” project is almost finished and is waiting for its final phase to be launched at the end of the month. At that point, she says that armed terrorists will attack Macedonia, southern Serbia (the Presevo Valley), and Bosnia. Beforehand, she says that terrorists will try to make a diversion in Serbia to distract the attention of the Serbian population, in order to catch everyone off guard with the follow-up attack. What do you think about this?
This is a very broad question but I’ll attempt to address it as concisely as possible. Russia is of the belief that the US and NATO are to blame for the refugee crisis because they initiated the regime change conflicts in Libya and Syria. Appertaining to Russia’s role in fighting ISIL, I wrote a comprehensive piece for Sputnik about its recent diplomatic efforts in coordinating an inclusive anti-ISIL coalition that I suggest readers refer to if they’re interested. About Guskova, she makes an excellent point about American strategy in the Balkans, which is that it seeks to use Islamic extremism as its preferred ‘agent of change’ in the heart of the region (Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia), although I’m unsure of exactly when the US will formally redeploy this mechanism. Macedonia narrowly averted a larger terrorist war when its military raided the Kumanovo hideout and prevented the perpetrators from attacking Skopje and elsewhere, but the threat still remains. Likewise, that very same threat of Albanian-affiliated terrorism is also present in the Presevo Valley, but the point needs to be stressed that the vast majority of Albanians in both countries (especially those in Macedonia) want nothing to do with this scheme, but it’s being associated with them and their ethnic group out of American grand strategic motivations. Bosnia is in a similar situation when it comes to Islamic extremism, too, and I wrote about this for Sputnik in a different article.
Russian academician and historian Jelena Guskova warned that implementation of the “green transversal” has entered the final stage, and that armed attacks might occur in August in Serbia, BiH and Macedonia.
Should this be taken seriously, or is this a type of spin coming out of Russia that intends to damage the region’s relations with the US and EU?
Guskova’s assessment very closely resembles my own for the region, and both of our forecasts need to be taken with the utmost of seriousness because of the far-reaching consequences involved. Just because we’re both based in Russia doesn’t mean that we have any conspiratorial reason for our analyses, and they’re both based on enough documented facts and strategic reasoning as to withstand close criticism. The most that any naysayer could point to is that the US doesn’t have this sort of ‘intent’ that Guskova and I ascribe to it, but in response to that, I’d ask the reader to recall the US’ purposely destructive policies all across the world which refute that suggestion. For the US, the Balkans are a future Islamic terrorist ‘playground’, thought of as being a ‘reserve force’ for pressuring Europe when and if the time is right.
Part of the reason for this is geopolitical (the Balkans are the perfect’ backdoor’ to the EU) and the other relates to energy (destabilize the Russian-friendly governments of Macedonia and Serbia to sabotage Balkan Stream), but taken together, the US has very real strategic reasons for why it wants to destroy the Balkans if it can’t fully control them. Also, working with Islamic fundamentalists for grand strategic ends isn’t anything new for the US, since everyone is well aware of how the US founded Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and a Judicial Watch document released in May proves that the Defense Intelligence Agency predicted the rise of ISIL and actively encouraged such a scenario. It’s not just non-state Islamic extremist actors that the US deals with, but state-organized ones too, such as Saudi Arabia and even Morsi’s former Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. About the latter, the reader must be reminded that the Muslim Brotherhood is recognized as the terrorist organization that it truly is by the governments of Russia and Syria among others, so accusing the US of siding with terrorists isn’t just rhetoric, but a legal reality.
Another thing that she talks about is how terrorists will stage an attack which will claim the lives of many Albanian civilians, who will then be pressured into launching a struggle for “the salvation from tyranny” that they experience in Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia. She warns that the strongest possibility for this happening might be in Republica Srpska, and that under the pretext of “regulating the situation”, NATO could stage an intervention.
That’s a very realistic scenario, but I’d take it one step further by forecasting that this false flag event won’t just target Albanians, but Muslims in general (if it does in fact occur, that is). There were already attempts to politicize the anti-terrorist operation carried out in Kumanovo by trying to make it out as some war of “Slavs/Christians versus Albanians/Muslims”, but thankfully that woefully misguided perspective didn’t catch on and was exposed for the lie that it was. But still, it shows that there is a precedent to label all Albanians/Muslims as victims of Slavs/Christians no matter what the context, all with the intent of fomenting a religious ‘counter-struggle’, an actual jihad, against the majority inhabitants in the Balkans (Christian Slavs).
This isn’t to either side’s advantage, but is really yet another wily manipulation by the US to provoke a region-wide divide-and-conquer identity war. The US’ history of involvement in Bosnia and “Kosovo” indicates that it would take the side of Muslims in the short term should any forthcoming conflict arise and it chooses to directly intervene, but this group would just be functioning as the US’ ‘convenient fools’, and they’ll eventually be betrayed even quicker than the US turned on decades-long ally Mubarak should the US deem it strategically suitable. If they think that being Muslim automatically entitles them to preferential treatment by the US government, then they’re obviously not aware of American history in the Mideast, since sooner or later, they too will be betrayed at some point, whether they realize it now or not.
Guskova also studies the “Islamic State’s” influence in the Balkans, and according to her, terrorists are infiltrating the region under the cover of being Mideast refugees. What’s your take on this?
Once more, Ms. Guskova is absolutely right. As I told Marija Kotovska during an interview she did with me for Netpress at the end of July:
“Hungary stated that at least 90,000 people have illegally entered the country so far this year, and that they expect a total of 300,000 by year’s end. Most of them likely came from the southern route, meaning that they passed through Macedonia at some time or another. Taking into account an extremely conservative estimate that 1% of them could be terrorists, then that calculates to nearly 1,000 terrorists so far (and up to 3,000 by the end of the year) coming into Macedonia for an unspecified amount of time. To put it another way, that’s about 100x the number of terrorists that were killed during the Kumanovo attack.”
There is no doubt that the refugee crisis is being exploited by terrorist groups as cover for infiltrating the region, and this is being done in full compliance with American foreign policy precepts. The “Islamic State” is basically a ‘territorial Al Qaeda’ that can be deployed anywhere in Africa-Eurasia that is of strategic benefit to the US, and right now, it looks as though its newest theater will be the Balkans, using sympathetic Albanians (who are but a tiny fraction of their overall population, it needs to be underscored) as their local anchor. The objective is to radicalize the transnational Albanian community particularly in Macedonia and Serbia so as to provoke the larger Christian/Slav vs. Muslim/Albanian war that the US is hoping for. Hopefully both sides realize what the game is and how the US is desperately trying to manipulate them into this dire scenario.
Guskova says that the Americans want to subjugate the Slavic people in the Balkans that they haven’t ever subdued, despite the enormous pressure against them and the imposition of certain puppet regimes. She points to Republika Srpska strengthening its position, Macedonia defending its independence, and Serbia refusing to recognize Kosovo. Your thoughts?
It is certainly true that Macedonia, Serbia, and Republika Srpska have yet to be subjugated, despite certain periods of their history where they came close to having this happen, but the US wants to dominate all the peoples of the Balkans, including doing so for perpetuity with those it currently controls (Bosniaks, Croats, Albanians). Macedonia, Serbia, and Republika Srpska form a geostrategic network of states that I’ve termed the “Central Balkans”, in that they form not only the geographic center of this region, but that they also have in common their strong patriotism in resisting outside domination. Furthermore, all three of them practice pragmatic policies with Russia.
It’s telling that some of the smallest countries in Europe happen to be the only ones with the courage to refuse the US’ pressure in sanctioning Russia, as not only have they refused to do this, but they’ve even deepened their ties with Moscow during this time via their cooperation on the Balkan Stream gas project. Their symbolic actions signify a rejection of US unipolarity, and accordingly, the US has targeted them for immediate destabilization in response. This is why Macedonia had the earlier Color Revolution and Albanian-affiliated Unconventional War attempts unleashed against it, Serbia is being pulled by the EU and the US, and Republika Srpska has to endure thinly veiled terroristic threats by Sarajevo loyalists. It shouldn’t be seen as a coincidence then that all three, but especially Macedonia and Serbia, are now focal points of the refugee crisis.
There’s a noticeable increase in the activities of terrorist organizations and Islamists in the Balkans. One can find “Wahhabis” and the “Red Rose” in Serbia and Montenegro, “Tariq” in Macedonia, and Al Qaeda cells in Kosovo and northern Albania, according to Guskova. Can you comment on this?
The creation of terrorist nests such as the ones you mentioned is all part and parcel of the larger grand strategy of unleashing the US’ planned Slav/Christian versus Albanian/Muslim regional war. The Muslim population of the Balkans isn’t naturally receptive to this rhetoric, hence why the US must brainwash them through the import of radical Islamists under the cover of the refugee crisis. Also, some of the refugees themselves might be more fundamentalist than the secular Muslims historically native to the Balkans, so if they remain in the region (either out of choice or because they simply can’t get into the EU), some of them could work to change local attitudes on this topic.
The psychological operations being waged against the region therefore aren’t focused as much on Macedonia, Serbia, and Republika Srpska (although they’re definitely targeted, albeit for different [regime change] reasons), but on the Albanians and Bosniaks in a bid to get them to view all regional dynamics through the false and highly secularized prism of a “War on Islam”. If the US can brainwash at least 10% of each of these respective Muslim communities into falling for that propaganda (the so-called “tipping point theory”), then it can have a sizeable enough ‘domestic/grassroots’ force in each of the three prospective battlefields (Macedonia, Serbia, and Republika Srpska) to initiate this war and be confident that it has the ‘staying power’ to continue indefinitely and ‘autonomously’. It’s for this reason why counter-radicalization initiatives on behalf of each government and their local Muslim representatives are instrumental in preempting this dangerous development and need to be immediately implemented if they aren’t already.
In Bosnia just recently, Islamists came forward making demands that the country remain unitary under the implicit threat that any change in its status could lead to terrorist attacks and other destabilizing actions. Could it be that this is part of the “Green Transversal” project?
This is definitely related to the larger project that we’ve been discussing and the US’ geopolitical bullying of the Central Balkans. Republika Srpska has a constitutional right to reject the nationwide court system that Sarajevo is advocating, as there is nothing contained in the Dayton Accords about the necessity of such an entity. The reason it’s being pushed then is to weaken the Republic’s sovereignty in preparation of a wider power play against its entire autonomy, hence why President Dodik and his people firmly refuse it and are so impassioned in fighting against it. Now that they’ve taken their stand, however, the Sarajevo loyalists are initiating a preplanned information war accusing Republika Srpska of ‘separatism’ and ‘violating the Dayton Accords’.
This isn’t true in any shape or form, but they’re doing this to damage the Republic’s reputation and precondition the European and American masses for a coming wave of formal aggression against it. That’s actually what the whole point of the UK’s Srebrenica UNSC provocation was, which aimed to paint Republika Sprksa as a ‘genocide-created’ entity that has no right to exist. Russia vetoed the resolution for exactly this reason, but the teachable moment here is that the West showed its hand for what it plans to do in Bosnia. It’s waging an asymmetrical war against Republika Srpska that’s already in the information stage, with the ultimate goal of taking it to the economic and terrorist phases whenever the decision is made. Unleashing the scourge of Islamic extremism against it (as like what happened during the Zvornik ‘test run’) is intended to serve as one of the triggers for the wider regional war that the US is plotting.
Some analysts say that the Hungarian border wall will significantly increase the number of Mideast migrants who remain in Serbia and Macedonia and whose real identity can’t ever be ascertained. What do you think about this threat?
The wall is Europe’s response to the crisis, which as I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, is to seal itself off from the Balkans if the situation becomes uncontrollable. The fact that Hungary is moving forward with such speed in implementing this idea shows how serious its national government is in tackling this crisis (and how severe it expects it to get in the future), and since it’s being accepted by the EU without any significant push back, it can also be seen as representing Brussels’ own take on the matter. This is important because it vividly demonstrates how the EU is abandoning Serbia and Macedonia at a critical time when both countries need as much help as they can possibly get, thus revealing that Brussels never had any positive intentions towards either of their prospective memberships. These two countries have always been seen as future markets and nothing else, never having ever been thought of as equal partners, which is why the EU doesn’t mind that countless refugees and the terrorists that have infiltrated the region alongside them remain the sole responsibility of the Balkans. The social, economic, political, and security destabilizations associated with them are tremendously impactful in all regards and disturbingly very real, but the EU prefers not to deal with this, and would rather accept the possible collapse of the Central Balkan states than lend an effective and helping hand in assisting with their ordeals.
Most of the refugees are men between the ages of 27-35, 94% of whom are Muslim, and more than half of whom have no family with them and avoid all forms of media exposure. Who’s funding these people, or how do they support themselves?
Like I said previously, the vast majority of the refugees are not terrorists, but many of them do have suspicious profiles that rightfully raise red flags. The problem is that there is no way to verify their identity, and thus, no way for states to see if they’re on any terrorist watch lists. Even if they aren’t, nobody knows the intent of these individuals, and it does seem odd that so many of these men (who in traditional Muslim cultures should already be married with children by this stage of their lives) are flooding into the EU without any family members. Something’s not adding up, and it’s unlikely that most of them just happen to not conform to their demographic expectations or are violating the social code of their countries by leaving their wives and children behind. It’s not known how they received the money to fund their journey, but it could possibly have been through their families’ savings and/or selling off their possessions and property. Still, those that are affiliated with terrorism are likely funded by other terrorists, and given the richness of the “Islamic State”, it could theoretically be funding thousands of terrorists to infiltrate the EU and the Balkans under the cover of being refugees.
I’d like to thank all of our readers for their interest in my interview. The future I paint is a dark one, but it’s not inevitable and it’s possible to successfully resist it. The most important thing everyone can do is inform one another of the true nature of the US’ plot against the Balkans, and work together to unite in opposing it. All ethnicities and religions need to be aware of the US’ mechanisms in dividing them from one another, and once this realization is reached and unity of purpose is achieved, then it’s much easier to form a different future and build a better tomorrow for everyone.
We bring to the attention of Global Research readers an event which has not been covered by the mainstream media.
This article was first published by GR, two weeks after the Katrina disaster of August 29, 2005
The Federal Emergency Management Agency had contemplated the possibility of a Hurricane disaster. In fact, it had simulated in minute detail the underlying consequences in an exercise undertaken in 2004.
In an open letter to Homeland Security Department Secretary Chertoff, Rep. Henry Waxman and Chairman of the Government Reform Committee Tom Davis outline the background of the Hurricane Disaster Scenario.
An exercise know as “Hurricane Pam,” was conducted by FEMA and IEM in July 2004:
”bringing together emergency officials from 50 parish, state, federal, and volunteer organizations to simulate the conditions described above and plan an emergency response. As a result of the exercise, officials reportedly developed proposals for handling debris removal, sheltering, search and rescue, medical care, and schools.”
“The specific disaster scenario contemplated under the contract is strikingly similar to the actual disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina. The contract envisioned that “a catastrophic hurricane could result in significant numbers of deaths and injuries, trap hundreds of thousands of people in flooded areas, and leave up to one million people homeless.”The Scope of Work expressly directed the contractor to plan for the following specific conditions:
• “Over one million people would evacuate from New Orleans. Evacuees would crowd shelters throughout Louisiana and adjacent states.”
• “Hurricane surge would block highways and trap 300,000 to 350,000 persons in flooded areas. Storm surge of over 18 feet would overflow flood-protection levees on the Lake Pontchartrain side of New Orleans. Storm surge combined with heavy rain could leave much of New Orleans under 14 to 17 feet of water. More than 200 square miles of urban areas would be flooded.”
• “It could take weeks to ‘de-water’ (drain) New Orleans: Inundated pumping stations and damaged pump motors would be inoperable. Flood-protection levees would prevent drainage of floodwater. Breaching the levees would be a complicated and politically sensitive problem: The Corps of Engineers may have to use barges or helicopters to haul earthmoving equipment to open several hundred feet of levee.”
The text of the Letter is published below. The original letter is available in pdf and word formats:
[Text of Letter to Michael Chertoff without footnotes]
September 9, 2005
The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Secretary of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Chertoff:
The House Committee on Government Reform has obtained from the Department of Homeland Security a document describing the “Scope of Work” of a contract issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the development of a “Southeastern Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan.” We are writing to request any plans and other documents that were developed under this contract.
FEMA’s Scope of Work contemplated that a private contractor, Innovative Emergency Management, Inc. (IEM), would complete the work under the contract in three stages. “Stage One” called for a simulation exercise involving FEMA and the state of Louisiana that would “feature a catastrophic hurricane striking southeastern Louisiana.” “Stage Two” called for “development of the full catastrophic hurricane disaster plan.” And “Stage Three” involved unrelated earthquake planning.
A task order issued under the contract called for IEM to execute “Stage One” between May 19 and September 30, 2004, at a cost of $518,284. On June 3, 2004, IEM issued a press release announcing that it would “lead the development of a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for Southeast Louisiana and the City of New Orleans under a more than half a million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).” A second task order issued on September 23, 2004, required IEM to “complete the development of the SE Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane plan.” The cost of this task order was $199,969.
The “Background” section of the Scope of Work stated that “the emergency management community has long feared the occurrence of a catastrophic disaster,” which the document describes as “an event having unprecedented levels of damage, casualties, dislocation, and disruption that would have nationwide consequences and jeopardize national security.” According to the background discussion, the emergency management community was concerned that “existing plans, policies, procedures and resources” would not be adequate to address such a “mega-disaster.”
According to the Scope of Work, the contact “will assist FEMA, State, and local government to enhance response planning activities and operations by focusing on specific catastrophic disasters: those disasters that by definition will immediately overwhelm the existing disaster response capabilities of local, State, and Federal Governments.” With respect to southeastern Louisiana, the specific “catastrophic disaster” to be addressed was “a slow-moving Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane that … crosses New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.”The Scope of Work explained:
Various hurricane studies suggest that a slow-moving Category 3 or almost any Category 4 or 5 hurricane approaching Southeast Louisiana from the south could severely damage the heavily populated Southeast portion of the state creating a catastrophe with which the State would not be able to cope without massive help from neighboring states and the Federal Government.
The Scope of Work further stated: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness (LOEP) believe that the gravity of the situation calls for an extraordinary level of advance planning to improve government readiness to respond effectively to such an event.”
The specific disaster scenario contemplated under the contract is strikingly similar to the actual disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina. The contract envisioned that “a catastrophic hurricane could result in significant numbers of deaths and injuries, trap hundreds of thousands of people in flooded areas, and leave up to one million people homeless.”The Scope of Work expressly directed the contractor to plan for the following specific conditions:
• “Over one million people would evacuate from New Orleans. Evacuees would crowd shelters throughout Louisiana and adjacent states.”
• “Hurricane surge would block highways and trap 300,000 to 350,000 persons in flooded areas. Storm surge of over 18 feet would overflow flood-protection levees on the Lake Pontchartrain side of New Orleans. Storm surge combined with heavy rain could leave much of New Orleans under 14 to 17 feet of water. More than 200 square miles of urban areas would be flooded.”
• “It could take weeks to ‘de-water’ (drain) New Orleans: Inundated pumping stations and damaged pump motors would be inoperable. Flood-protection levees would prevent drainage of floodwater. Breaching the levees would be a complicated and politically sensitive problem: The Corps of Engineers may have to use barges or helicopters to haul earthmoving equipment to open several hundred feet of levee.”
• “Rescue operations would be difficult because much of the area would be reachable only by helicopters and boats.”
• “Hospitals would be overcrowded with special-needs patients. Backup generators would run out of fuel or fail before patients could be moved elsewhere.”
• “The New Orleans area would be without electric power, food, potable water, medicine, or transportation for an extended time period.”
• “Damaged chemical plants and industries could spill hazardous materials.”
• “Standing water and disease could threaten public health.”
• “There would be severe economic repercussions for the state and region.”
• “Outside responders and resources, including the Federal response personnel and materials, would have difficulty entering and working in the affected area.”
It appears that IEM completed the task order for “Stage One,” the hurricane simulation. An exercise know as “Hurricane Pam,” was conducted by FEMA and IEM in July 2004, bringing together emergency officials from 50 parish, state, federal, and volunteer organizations to simulate the conditions described above and plan an emergency response. As a result of the exercise, officials reportedly developed proposals for handling debris removal, sheltering, search and rescue, medical care, and schools.
It is not clear, however, what plans or draft plans, if any, IEM prepared to complete “Stage Two,” the development of the final catastrophic hurricane disaster plan. The task order for “Stage Two” provided that the “period of performance” was September 23, 2004, to September 30, 2005.
The basis for the award of the planning work to IEM is also not indicated in the documents we received. The task orders were issued to IEM by FEMA under an “Indefinite Delivery Vehicle” (IDV) contract between IEM and the General Services Administration. According to the Federal Procurement Data System, FEMA received only one bid (from IEM) for the task orders.
The documents from the Department raise multiple questions about the contract with IEM and the planning for a catastrophic hurricane in southeastern Louisiana. To help us understand these issues, we request that the Department provide the following documents and information:
(1) Any documents relating to the “Stage One” simulation exercise, including documents prepared for exercise planners and participants, transcripts or minutes of exercise proceedings, participant evaluations, and after action reports;
(2) Any final or draft plans for a catastrophic hurricane in southeastern Louisiana prepared under “Stage Two” of the contract, including any final or draft Catastrophic Hurricane Disaster Plan, Basic Plan Framework, Emergency Support Function Annex, or Support Annex; and
(3) An explanation of the procurement procedures used in selecting IEM for the contract and task orders, as well as a description of IEM’s qualifications and the justification for selecting IEM.
We recognize that Department officials are engaged in ongoing relief efforts, and we do not want to impair those efforts in any way. For this reason, we have tailored our request to the discrete set of documents and information set forth above. To expedite your response to this request, we have enclosed copies of the Scope of Work, task orders, and other documents cited in this letter.
Rep. Tom Davis Rep. Henry A. Waxman
Chairman Ranking Minority Member
Opening Statement of Chairman Tom Davis
Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for
and Response to Hurricane Katrina
October 19th, 2005
Good morning, and welcome to the Select Committee’s third hearing on the preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina.
On September 15, before this Select Committee was established by a bipartisan House vote, the Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the early lessons learned from Katrina. At that hearing, the Committee’s Ranking Member, Henry Waxman, said there were “two steps we should take right away.”
First, he said, we should request basic documents from the agencies. And second, he said – and I quote – “we need to hear from Michael Brown and Michael Chertoff. These are the two government officials most responsible for the inadequate response, and the Committee should call them to testify without delay.”
I’m happy to report that we haven’t delayed. We’ve met and exceeded these goals. We’re doing the oversight we’re charged with doing. While many who so urgently called on Congress to swiftly investigate have refused to participate and instead tilt at windmills, we’re investigating aggressively what went wrong and what went right.
And we – those on my side of the aisle, and those Democrats who agree we need to ask tough questions, together — are doing it by the book, letting the chips fall where they may. I will continue to invite Democrats to join us. I will continue to give them full and equal opportunity to make statements and question witnesses and help guide the direction of our inquiry.
But regardless of who does and does not show up for our hearings, we have a job to do, and I’m intent on doing it right.
Our goal today is to understand the Department of Homeland Security’s role and responsibilities before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama on August 29, 2005.
I want to thank DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff for being here today so we can discuss the specific actions he took right before, during, and after the storm. His insight and perspective will be critical as we construct the narrative that will serve as the foundation of our final report.
Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Michael Brown have received the most attention from Members of Congress, state and local officials, and the news media in Katrina’s wake, DHS and Secretary Chertoff have primary responsibility for managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan.
Three weeks ago we heard from Michael Brown. Today we’ll hear from his boss, the man who ultimately fired him.
We need to find out if Michael Brown had it right when he testified before our committee. Has FEMA been under-funded and under-staffed? Has it become ‘emaciated’? Did Congress undermine FEMA’s effectiveness when we folded it into DHS?
Michael Brown testified that he asked the Department for funding to implement the lessons learned from the Hurricane Pam exercise and that those funds were denied. He also testified about brain drain, diminished financial resources, and “assessments” of $70 to $80 million by DHS for DHS-wide programs. He said he wrote memos to Secretary Ridge and Secretary Chertoff regarding the inadequacy of FEMA’s resources. We will ask the Secretary about these assertions.
And regardless of his response, we are left with the question of whether any of this affected the government’s preparation for and response to Katrina.
We also need to establish the Department’s role and responsibilities in a disaster. What resources can the Secretary bring to bear? What triggers the decision to deploy those resources? During Katrina, how personally involved was Secretary Chertoff in seeking, authorizing, or deploying specific resources?
Michael Brown testified that he had “no problem picking up the phone and getting hold of [Secretary] Chertoff…” How many times during these difficult days did he make those calls? What did he ask for? What did he get?
Michael Brown also testified that he wished he’d called in the military sooner. Did that require Secretary Chertoff’s involvement? Did Mr. Brown ask the Secretary to seek military support? If so, when?
Over the past several weeks, we’ve all boned up on the disaster declaration process outlined in the Stafford Act. We understand the goals, structure and mechanisms of the National Response Plan. We’ve learned the alphabet soup of “coordinating elements” established by the Plan: the HSOC (“H-Sock”) and RRCC; JFOs and PFOs; the IIMG.
Now it’s our job to find out how this soup was served.
At the end of the day, we’ll tell a story about the National Response Plan, and how its 15 Emergency Support Functions were implemented with Katrina. We’ll see how well the ESFs were followed. Where there were problems, we’ll ask why. Where even flawless execution led to unacceptable results, we’ll have to return to questioning the underlying Plan.
The American people don’t care about acronyms or organizational charts. They want to know who was supposed to do what, when, and whether the job got done. And if it didn’t get done, they want to know how we are going to make sure it does the next time.
Americans know by now that there was no shortage of plans, no shortage of exercises. They know just as well that there was a profound failure to be proactive, a deep inability to execute. They understand this was a big, big storm. But they also understand that too many people viewed preparation and response as “someone else’s problem.”
Under the National Response Plan, the DHS Secretary is the federal official charged with declaring an Incident of National Significance. Part of that declaration is naming a Principal Federal Official, or PFO, to manage the response.
We only received a handful of the e-mails we requested to and from Mike Brown in time to prepare for this hearing. We were disappointed, to say the least, that a congressionally mandated committee, with subpoena power, has had to wait this long on a seemingly simple request. The bulk of the documents we requested did not arrive until late last night. It’s this sort of inadequate responsiveness to requests for information that has long frustrated many of our Members, and perhaps sheds some light on the Department’s woeful response to Katrina.
But, from the handful of Mike Brown’s emails we did received in a timely manner, we know that he resented being named the PFO by the Secretary. What does the Secretary have to say about that? What does this say about the underlying Plan?
Finally, we hope today to ask Secretary Chertoff what we’re asking all officials as part of our investigation. Where were you in the days and hours right before, during, and after the hurricane? What were you doing? Who were you talking to? Establishing this timeline will be a key part of the story we end up telling in our report.
Based on the information we have gathered so far – and we have much, much more to gather – it seems that all too often, local, state, and federal leaders were planning in a crisis environment. A lot of decisions that seemingly should have been made days or months or years before were being made on the fly, or not made at all.
That’s just not good government.
NYU Professor Paul Light wrote recently that “Mr. Chertoff is just about the only official in Washington who can say ‘I told you so’ about FEMA,” based on some of the reforms he outlined last July in his Second Stage Review. I wonder if Secretary Chertoff believes FEMA’s response to Katrina would have been better if the reforms had been in place on August 29th.
Interviewed by CNN on September 21st, Secretary Chertoff said it is his “responsibility to fix the things that don’t work well. That’s what we are in the process of doing right now.” Today we hope to hear his thoughts on exactly what didn’t work well with Katrina, and how the Department’s process of self-examination is proceeding.
The last day was marked by moderate intensity military actions. Sporadic shellings and firefights were observed at the Donetsk Airport and Spartak.
Then clashes with usage of artillery and mortars started at the Stannica Luganskaya and Schastie. The settlement of Raevka was shelled by Ukrainian battle tanks. An electric power substation was damaged, there is no electricity in the settlement now.
At the evening Ukrainian military started to shell the settlement of Spartak and the DPR capital from the direction of Vodyanoe-Opitnoe.
Ukrainian forces at Granitnoe and Chermalik shelled shelled Telmanovo. An important fact, that pro-Kiev militants used MLRS Grad at Chermalik.
Gorlovka also came under Ukrainian fire. The activity of Kiev military was fixed at Dzerjinsk.
In the night, Lugansk was shelled by artillery based at the Kiev-controlled settlemment of Olhovka. The clash reportedly was going at the Lugansk suburbs.
Yesterday, Ukrainian military confirmed its loses at the fight at the Mariupol sector. According to the report, 19 militants were killed and 30 injured during their attempt to advacne to the DPR territory.
Following a series of disastrous failures in India, one of Coca-Cola’s most important markets, the company is desperate to rebuild its reputation by claiming ‘water neutrality’. But the idea is absurd, writes Amit Srivastava, and does nothing to benefit the communities that suffer from the depleted aquifers it pumps from.
The Coca-Cola company is planning to announce that it is close to replenishing all the water it uses“back to communities and nature” by the end of 2015, well ahead of schedule.
It will take more than PR puff to restore Coca-Cola’s reputation in India. Wall-painted sign in Bangalore, India. Photo: Syed Nabil Aljunid via Flickr (CC BY-NC).
As campaigners that have closely scrutinized Coca-Cola’s operations in India for over a decade, we find the company’s assertions on balancing water use to be misleading.
The company’s track record of managing water resources in and around its bottling operations is dismal, and the announcement is a public relations exercise designed to manufacture an image of a company that uses water sustainably – far removed from the reality on the ground.
The impetus for Coca-Cola to embark upon its ambitious water conservation programs globally stems from its experience in India, where the company has been the target of communities across the country holding it accountable for creating water shortages and pollution.
The company has faced crisis in India due to their mismanagement of water resources, including
the forced closure of their bottling plant by government authorities in Kerala in 2005,
the closure of its 15 year old plant in Varanasi last year,
the refusal by government authorities to allow a fully-built expansion plant to operate in Varanasi in August 2014,
a proposed plant in Uttarakhand cancelled in April 2014,
and the withdrawal of the land allocated for a new bottling plant by the government in Tamil Nadu due to large scale community protests in April 2015.
Coca-Cola’s operations in Jaipur in India are also now used as a case study in colleges and universities on the company’s profound impact on water resources.
The myth of ‘water neutrality’
The suggestion that the world’s largest beverage company can become “water neutral”, as Coca-Cola has suggested, is impossible and deceptive, as the India Resource Center has pointed out in the past. It is not possible for a company whose primary raw material is water, to have ‘neutral’ impact on water resources.
Such a disingenuous suggestion by the world’s largest beverage company is a disservice to the public, and without admission of the massive impact the company has on water resources, there can be no genuine discourse with Coca-Cola on water management.
The company’s claims of having ‘neutral’ impact on water resources are misleading for two principal reasons.
First, water issues are local in their impact unlike, for example, climate change. When Coca-Cola extracts water from a depleted aquifer in Varanasi or Jaipur, the impacts are borne by the local communities and farmers that depend upon it to meet their water needs.
Replenishing an aquifer hundreds of miles away from the point of extraction, as Coca-Cola has often done to ‘balance’ their water use, has no bearing on the health of the local aquifer which Coca-Cola depletes through its bottling operations, nor the privations suffered by those who depend upon it.
Second, the amount of water used to make Coca-Cola products, referred to as the ‘water footprint’, is much more than the water used in the bottling plants. Cane sugar is a major component of Coca-Cola products in India, and as one of the largest procurers of sugar in India, Coca-Cola is well shy of achieving any balance with the water used the production of its sugar sweetened beverages.
The Water Foot Print Network has estimated that it takes 442 liters of water to make one liter of Coca-Cola using cane sugar, and 618 liters of water to make one liter of Coca-Cola product using High Fructose Corn Syrup.
These astounding numbers are not factored into the water replenishment announcement, and Coca-Cola’s claims fall flat if they were to be included – as they ought to be. The numbers used for their announcement are about 200 times less than the actual water footprint of Coca-Cola products.
No more pumping of depleted aquifers!
One of the continuing challenges being faced by communities across India is that the Coca-Cola company has continued to operate its bottling plants in severely water-stressed areas, as well as propose new plants in water-stressed areas where the communities have very limited access to potable water – a fundamental human right.
Any company that wants to establish itself as a responsible user of water would begin by not operating in water stressed areas, a demand that has been made of Coca-Cola but which the company seems to ignore because it will deprive it of profits and access to markets.
Coca-Cola is in the habit of making tall claims and generating false opinions favorable to its own cause, whether it is on water use or public health, and this announcement on water replenishment is just that. Just last week, the company was exposed for setting up a front group, Global Energy Balance Network, to confuse the science around obesity.
Attempting to confuse and mislead regulators and scientific opinion is not new to Coca-Cola. In 2006, one of Coca-Cola’s lobbyists in India admitted that his job “was to ensure, among other things, that every government or private study accusing the company of environmental harm was challenged by another study.”
If Coca-Cola truly wishes to rebuild its reputation in India and mitigate the massive environmental damage caused by its operations, it must stop the greenwashing, stop exploiting depleted aquifers, and engage seriously with its critics and impacted communities.
The hysterical campaign launched against the Iran nuclear deal by the flag-waving militarist partisans in and around the US congress has terribly obfuscated the issues included in the deal. Not surprisingly, the campaign has created a number of misconceptions regarding both the actual contents of the deal and the main disagreements between the advocates and opponents of the deal.
One such misconception is that the deal is, or must be, more advantageous to Iran than the US and Israel; otherwise, the simple logic goes, there would not be so much opposition to it. Such impressions, created simply by all the hue and cry on the part of the opponents of the deal are patently false. Even a cursory reading of the nuclear agreement reveals that, as I pointed out in a recent article on the issue, it is highly skewed against Iran. Not only does the agreement downgrade and freeze Iran’s peaceful nuclear technology, it also limit the scope of the county’s scientific research and development, jeopardize its national security or defense capabilities and, perhaps most importantly, undermine its national sovereignty.
So, considering the fact the deal represents a big win for the US and its allies and, by the same token, a major loss for Iran, why all the uproar against it?
A number of reasons can be thought of for all the war party’s feverish hullabaloo. The main reason, however, seems to be that while the deal obviously represents a fantastic victory for the US and its allies, it nonetheless falls short of what the war party projected and fought for, that is, devastating regime change by military means, similar to what was done to Iraq and Libya.
The second misconception that the war party’s vehement opposition to the nuclear deal has created is that their ultimate goal vis-à-vis Iran is significantly different from that of the Obama administration and other proponents of the deal. In reality, however, the difference between the opponents and proponents of the deal is largely tactical; strategically, both factions pursue the same objective: regime change in Iran.
While the advocates of the deal have in recent years switched their tactics from direct military intervention and regime change from without to soft-power methods of regime change from within, the opponents of the deal continue to insist that overwhelming military force and escalating economic strangulation are the more effective means of regime change in Tehran, that is, regime change from outside.
This does not mean that the advocates of the nuclear deal have ruled out the military option altogether—by no means. As President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other administration officials have frequently pointed out, the military option is on the table when/if needed, that is, if Iran fails to carry out all the punishing obligations under the nuclear deal.
The tactical switch by the proponents of the deal from military to soft-power methods of regime change did not come about overnight, or by an epiphany. For over thirty years since the 1979 revolution in Iran, which significantly undermined the U.S. influence in that country and elsewhere in the region, these proponents, like their counterparts in the war party, pursued policies of regime change from outside. These included instigation of and support for Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, training and supporting destabilizing terrorist organizations to attack Iran from all corners of the country, constant war and military threats, efforts to sabotage the 2009 presidential election through the so-called “green revolution,” and systematic escalation of economic sanctions.
Not only did these evil schemes fell short of their nefarious goal of “regime change” in Iran, they in fact drove the country to become a major power in the region.
In the face of the brutal economic sanctions and constant military threats, Iran embarked on a relatively radical path of a public/state-guided economy that successfully provided both for the war mobilization to defend its territorial integrity and for respectable living conditions of its population. By taking control of the commanding heights of the national economy, and effectively utilizing the revolutionary energy and dedication of their people, Iranian policy makers at the time also succeeded in taking significant steps toward economic self-reliance, which further thwarted the geopolitical plans of the US and its allies to bring Iran to its knees, or to overthrow its government.
Having thus failed at its plots of “regime change” from without, a major faction of the US ruling class, headed by the Obama administration, now seems to have opted for regime change (or reform) from within; that is, through political and economic rapprochement with Iran—using the nuclear negotiations as a starting point, or transitional channel.
What has made this option more promising in recent years is the rise of well-organized, Western-oriented neoliberal capitalist class in Iran whose chief priority seems to be the ability to do business with their counterparts in the West.
Many of the once revolutionary leaders who successfully managed the 1980-88 war economy have now become business entrepreneurs and prosperous capitalists. Having effectively enriched themselves in the shadow of the public sector economy, these folks are now ready to do business American style, that is, follow the neoliberal/austerity model of economics.
It is thus understandable why major factions within Iran’s ruling circles, represented largely by the Rouhani administration, have no stomach for a regimented, war-like economy; and why they support the highly disgraceful compromises made by Iran’s nuclear negotiators to the United States and its allies. For the rich and powerful elites of these circles issues such as nuclear technology or national sovereignty are of secondary importance to self-enrichment, or profit motive.
It follows that the Obama administration and other US advocates of the nuclear deal opted for negotiation with Iran only after they came to the realization that (a) continuing on the path of regime change from outside tended to be ineffective, or even counterproductive, and (b) the rise of a pro-US, collaborationist capitalist class in Iran increasingly promised to be a more effective vehicle of spreading the US influence in Iran and, ultimately, of regime change from within.
Indeed, the Obama administration’s recent approach of relying primarily on business/market forces of regime change, or modification, without ruling out the military option is likely to be more effective in achieving its goal than the war party’s reckless insistence on escalating sanctions and military threats.
The effectiveness of this approach lies in the fact that, as pointed out earlier, the nuclear deal would significantly limit Iran’s military and defense capabilities. The deal would also avail the US extensive knowledge of Iran’s economic, technological, security, and military capabilities and, therefore, vulnerabilities. This means that if at any time in the future Iran defies or resists the heavy-handed imperialistic designs of the United States, the US can then employ its war machine more effectively as it would have the necessary information on strategic places or targets to be attacked or bombarded.
This is no speculation or conspiracy theory. It is, indeed, a scenario projected by the Obama administration officials and other advocates of the nuclear deal as they promote it ahead of the next month’s critical vote in Congress. “In meetings on Capitol Hill and with influential policy analysts, administration officials argue that inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities under the deal will reveal important details that can be used for better targeting should the U.S. decide to attack Iran” .
Commenting on this ominous depraved scheme, Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Told Michael Crowley of the Politico, “It’s certainly an argument I’ve heard made. . . . We’ll be better off with the agreement were we to need to use force” .
To see how this menacing projection is not simply an abstract or partisan argument, suffice it to remember the fact that this is exactly what was done to Iraq and Libya. In both cases, the United States and its allies used disingenuous negotiations with Saddam Hussein and Muammar al-Qaddafi as pretexts to collect information about their military/defense capabilities and, then, used the information thus acquired for targeted bombardment and effective invasion.
Appointed on 27 August by Greece’s President, Prokopis Pavlópulos, Ms. Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou, President of the Supreme Court and mother of three, was sworn in on Thursday 28, August, 2015 as interim Prime Minister. She also served as President of the Electoral Court which oversees and examines the validity of parliamentary elections and referenda – including the legitimacy and strength of the 5 July referendum against more imposed austerity.
Ms. Vassiliki Thanou will be in charge of forming a caretaker Government which she announced on Friday, 28 August. She is also responsible for preparing and overseeing the new elections, now scheduled for 20 September 2015.
As a fierce opponent of the troika imposed austerity, Ms. Thanou may be the new spark of hope for Greece’s future. She has openly opposed dictated wage cuts and an illegal property tax, introduced with the first bail-out package in 2012. The tax has already put many small entrepreneurs out of business and threatens more to follow, especially in Greece’s current economic downturn.
According to Reuters, Ms. Thanou wrote to the European Commission in July 2015,
“The wrong economic policy which was implemented in the past five years, in line with the bailouts that were imposed by the (lenders) and failed, have led to a deeper recession, unemployment and the impoverishment of most of the Greek people,”
In February this year she called on Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, to help the “Greek people regain their dignity”. To no avail, as we know. Ms. Thanou clearly portrays a personality that is not scared of facing the monster in Brussels. And this is precisely what Greece needs in these coming months and years – projected time for recovery of national sovereignty, social justice and economic prosperity.
The field is open for the next three weeks until elections. Options for new opportunities and coalitions abound. According to the latest polls, Mr. Tsipras, as head of the Syriza party, with 23% remains the frontrunner for the next PM. This may mean two things:
(1) The Greek people are still not aware of what the new and enhanced austerity plus the new debt will mean for their future, for the future of their children and children’s children;
> increasing total debt to over 430 billion euros (including the € 86 billion to be contracted under the new bailout package), growing rapidly with compounded interests, a debt ratio to GDP of more than 180% (GDP € 238billion / 2014);
> debt of which not one euro will flow into Greece to revamp her economy and reestablish the looted social system;
> austerity conditions that will be further devastating what’s left of the Greek social system, increasing unemployment (currently above 26%, and about 60% for young people);
> more privatization of public assets, like selling off Greece’ s most profitable airports to a German company that is prepared to pay fire-sale prices;
> selling off up to hundreds of Greece’s pristine islands; or
(2) The people of Greece prefer to remain hostage to Mr. Tsipras smile, pep-talk and charisma – and to Madame Merkel. – But be sure – Mr. Tsipras personality and attitude towards more debt and more austerity will not change, nor will that of Angela Merkel.
Why would Ms. Thanou not run for Prime Minister herself on 20 September, for example in affiliation with the new Unity Party, seeking a wider coalition with other leftwing parties? – And become the first ever elected female Prime Minister of Greece – a new face on the Greek horizon; a person reflecting integrity and who seems to understand the plight of the majority of the Greek people, a person not afraid of confronting Greece’s creditors.
Having been on top of the Greek judiciary, Ms. Thanou knows that Mr. Tsipras’ actions against a 62 % majority of NO votes was anti-constitutional and can be undone by the Supreme Court. Ms. Thanou also is conscious that contracts – in this case contracts for debt – concluded under duress, coercion and corruption are illegal and won’t hold up in any international court of law. All but about € 50 billion of Greeks current external debt were ‘acquired’ under such fraudulent conditions, plus blackmail – the pressure ‘you accept our conditions, or we will force you out of the Eurozone, and possible even out of the EU’. – This is illegal. Hence, virtually the entire Greek debt could be legally erased and declared null.
Although, information on the subject is contradictory, it appears that still a majority of Greek people would like to remain in the Eurozone. From recent travels through Greece, I understand it is mostly a matter of ‘prestige’ and ‘belonging to the West’. – What prestige? – What West? – The connection between fiat money, debt and becoming colonized by an internationally failing currency and it’s the predatory masters of the West in Brussels, Germany and Washington is not made.
Much like the US dollar, the Euro is being produced electronically as debt. In the US if the FED (Federal Reserve or Central Bank, never mind its full private ownership) needs fresh money, to finance, say, a new Washington invasion, a new war or conflict towards ‘regime change, it produces a federal debt, called QE (Quantitative Easing). This is unviable debt held as reserve currency by treasuries around the world, losing with every new dollar being produced some of its value. According to Alan Greenspan’s (former FED Chairman) own admission, “The United States can pay any debt it has, because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default;” – But there is a gradual devaluation of the dollar and the foreign countries dollar reserves.
This is not quite the case in Europe, where the European Central Bank is not really a central bank, but a watchdog loosely controlling Eurozone countries’ management of debt, but mostly working for TBTF (too-big-to-fail) banksters, Wall Street and their associates in Europe. In the US as in Europe, new cash is generated since the 1990’s Clinton era by fully deregulated private banks dishing out debt, including, for example, to countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal — you name it. In fact to any country which still has a social system that can be plundered. So – France may be one of the next candidates.
Western banks are all ‘globalized’. There is not much Germany left in ‘Deutsche Bank’. But they all benefit from borrowing practically unlimited sums from their respective central banks at zero or almost zero interest and onlend the funds to, say, Greece at between 5% and 7% – with the pretext that Greece is a high-risk case, well aware that risks are covered by risk insurers and eventually by ‘bail-ins’ or ‘haircuts’. The interest difference is sheer profit.
Effective since August this year the unelected EC has issued an edict that spares tax-payers from saving banks which over-stretched and over-speculated themselves into bankruptcy. Instead, the new system allows such banks to refinance themselves by virtually stealing the money from their depositors and shareholders, the so-called ‘bail-ins’. The masters of finance make sure this new rule – illegal by any traditional international standard – is hardly known to the public, lest a run on the banks might become imminent.
The Euro itself is since its inception a highly vulnerable currency. It is almost a miracle that it lasted for 15 years. The imposition of a common currency on a set of nations, most of which have hardly anything in common, other than the Washington imposed NATO, is an economic absurdity. Such a shared currency based on a relatively loose association of independent countries – the EU – with no common constitution, let alone a joint political agenda and which are consequently devoid of solidarity that would emanate naturally from an entity of federal states – was a misconception from the start. Here lies the huge difference between the US dollar and the Euro. Even though the over-indebted dollar is hardly worth the paper it’s printed on, it is still the common currency of the federal United States of America which has a common Constitution. The EU has no Constitution. There is only the neoliberal Maastricht Treaty which has no legal binding on any of the EU states. The euro is not sustainable, an analysis expressed by many international financial experts.
A future Greek Government may think twice whether it is a good idea to adhere to a failing and faltering currency, thereby remaining hostage to the predatory EU, led by Germany – instead of reclaiming her political sovereignty and economic autonomy. The new PM would also be well-advised, whatever decision she or he may take, to make sure it is backed by a Plan B.
There is much to be gained from a new start, with a newly restructured Greek central bank and a public banking system that works actually for the Greek people, the Greek economy, rather than for faraway shareholders and insane boni of anonymous CEOs of nontransparent Wall Street and European financial conglomerates. Ms. Vassiliki Thanou, with her legal and institutional know-how, her female approach to Brussels infamous male arrogance, might just be one of the best-suited candidates to lead Greece out of her quagmire.
In the lead-up to COP21, a hundred French and international personalities are signing an appeal on Mediapart, entitled :
”Let’s leave the fossil fuels in the ground. That’s how to put an end to climate crimes”.
And we, simple citizens, are invited to sign too. One would like to be able to sign, but alas, the text is not suitable : not because of what it says, which is generally true, but because of what it doesn’t say and which immediately casts great doubt on the rest. For to say half a truth and omit the other half is not truth-telling.
This appeal says rightly that we must take now the urgent measures that will – perhaps – put a stop to global warming and climate disruption in time to prevent the planet from becoming uninhabitable, and that failure will amount to « ecocide… doing violence to all living beings, ecosystems and societies, and threatening the rights of future generations ». But to continue the production and consumption of nuclear energy, what is that if not an « ecocide… doing violence to all living beings, ecosystems and societies, and threatening the rights of future generations » ? Failure to say a word about this is not at all insignificant. It amounts to tacit preference for one ecocide over another, denouncing the first and accepting the second. Even if that is not being done deliberately.
The appeal actually declares : « We know that multinationals and governments will not easily abandon the profits they draw from extracting reserves of coal, gas and oil or from globalised industrial agriculture greedy for fossil energy ». According to this appeal, there are therefore three sources of fossil fuel to be banned : coal, gas and oil. A more prudent appeal, that of the NGOs issued last June on Mediapart, expressed a wish to « ban all new projects involving polluting energies and thus guarantee that access to clean inexpensive and secure energy becomes a public good», without citing any particular energy source, but in fact excluding nuclear energy, which is not clean or inexpensive or secure. Why then, in this new personalities’ appeal, is not uranium extraction cited among the « reserves » from which certain multinationals (AREVA for example) and certain governments (such as France) seek – with greater or lesser success, admittedly – to « draw profits from» ?
Is that because they view uranium as a mineral and not a « fossil fuel » ? Is it just a semantic concern, a mere question of definition ?
Let’s look closer. What do we describe as « fossil » ? The Larousse online dictionary says : « things in the state of fossils ». Enlightening, eh ? But fossils ? There it says « debris or print of a plant or animal buried in rocky strata before the current geological period and conserved there». That definition is unchanged since the printed Larousse Encyclopedia (1962, vol. 5).
Coal, gas and oil do not bear the print of plants and animals, and they cannot be called « debris » either, even if they derive from plants. Obviously that’s not what makes people call them « fossil ». So in what other sense ?
Simply the first sense of the word « fossil », if we refer this time to the “Online Dictionary” (and also to “Reverso”) : « what is extracted or sourced from inside the earth ». This meaning matches the etymology indicated by Larousse : « from the latin fossilis, drawn out of the earth. »
So the « fossil fuels » are called « fossil » not because they result from the decomposition of plants, but because they are produced from materials extracted from the ground – where they exist in limited quantities« unlike renewable energies » as the online Larousse puts it. This is a definition that fits nuclear energy, so long as it depends on the extraction and treatment of uranium ore. The fact that the « natural uranium » in the ore is then enriched (into Uranium 235), whereas crude oil is refined, makes no difference. We must therefore say once and for all, to stop the cunning tricks of the nucleocrats : nuclear energy is not only fissile, it is also fossil. It forms part of the fossil energies, drawn out of the ground and exhaustible. It should be named every time anyone lists the « fossil energies».
Having solved this question of vocabulary, how can we explain the favorable treatment given to nuclear energy ? It is certainly a favor to omit it from listings of the « fossil energies » being pilloried for their nasty effects on climate.
Here too, we must point to the clever propaganda of the nucleocrats, who are even rash enough to claim that « nuclear energy is good for the climate». In reality, nuclear energy, viewed merely from the perspective of climate, shares all the defects of the other fossil fuels.
It is non-renewable, as we have just said. At the current rate of extraction and consumption, the known reserves of uranium will be exhausted roughly as soon as the reserves of crude oil, maybe before. And the collapse would occur even sooner if the number of nuclear power-plants grows through the proliferating actions of the nucleocrats.
The growing rarity of its fuel means that nuclear energy will merely compound the « oil wars » by creating « uranium wars », which have already started in Africa, notably in the form of terrorism.
Nuclear energy exploits the countries of extraction (for example AREVA in Niger). maintaining a neocolonial system and endangering the health of the local populations.
It pollutes even more seriously than the other fossil energies do. The inhabitants of Pripiat and Fukushima, the 600 000 liquidators of Chernobyl (or their survivors), the thousands of cancer victims, non-smoking and not exposed to pesticides, the victims of nuclear tests after those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to mention only the best-known victims – all those people can testify to that.
Finally and above all, nuclear energy contributes also to global warming :
directly, by heating the atmosphere through the plumes of steam that rise continuously from the « cooling towers » which are indeed « climate warming towers », and by putting into waterways or the ocean its cooling water which heats the climate ;
indirectly, by using other fossil energies that produce greenhouse gases, in all the activities involved in the building and fuelling the plants, all the way from the mine to the « treatment » plant.
These are common faults of fossil energies, to which nuclear energy adds at least three of its own :
Its effects are, like radioactivity, invisible, inaudible, odourless, tasteless, in short, undetectible except by special devices, and therefore much harder to avoid… and harder to inculpate after they have affected people’s health (as was learnt bitterly by the civilian and military victims of France’s nuclear tests) ;
Its deadly effects are almost eternal (half-life of plutonium : 240 000 years ; half-life of uranium 238 : 4,5 billion years), which means that the radioactive pollution adding to that of greenhouse gases is impossible to pin down in space and also in time ;
- last but not least, its fuel is usable and is indeed used to make weapons of mass destruction (16 000 currently in existence), which permanently threaten to explode the planet.
All the same, let’s recognise one advantage that nuclear has over the other fossil energies : although the particular ecocide it causes is more insidious than climate ecocide, the wholesale death that it threatens us with will be much more brutal than that of global warming.
Whether by multiplying Chernobyls and Fukushimas (in France most likely), nuclear energy will save us from having to combat climatic ecocide, since there will be very few people left to suffer from it.
But that should not stop us from thinking and saying out loud that no, no, no, to propagate nuclear cholera is not the way to treat the climate plague.
The signatories of the Appeal « Let’s leave the fossil fuels in the ground. That’s how to put an end to climate crimes» would be well advised to say so too. By publishing, why not, an extra codicil to their appeal.
President of ACDN (Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire)
Acteur (de base) d’Alternatiba
Today’s selected articles brought to you by Global Research focus on the impacts of state sponsored social and financial engineering: law enforcement, urban transformation, the control and manipulation of the news chain, the demise of pension funds, the abolition of cash.
Urban transformation…shapes mindset of locals, who as a result of non-participation in decision making related to transformations of their cities become disconnected from the city they live in. More construction projects aim to satisfy the demand of the businesses rather than the needs of the local population and overall aesthetic requirements. Such transformations make the local population a passive receiver of these changes, which eventually makes them inactive in other areas of local governance too.
Since the end of World War Two the Central Intelligence Agency has been a major force in US and foreign news media, exerting considerable influence over what the public sees, hears and reads on a regular basis. CIA publicists and journalists alike will assert they have few, if any, relationships, yet the seldom acknowledged history of their intimate collaboration indicates a far different story–indeed, one that media historians are reluctant to examine.
Corporations are taking the retirement savings of elderly public employees and using them to inflate their stock prices so wealthy CEOs and their shareholders can enrich themselves at the expense of their companies. And it’s all completely legal.
The Financial Times has published an anonymous article which calls for the abolition of cash in order to give central banks and governments more power.
Entitled The case for retiring another ‘barbarous relic’, the article laments the fact that people are stockpiling cash in anticipation of another economic collapse, a factor which is causing, “a lot of distortion to the economic system.”
“The existence of cash — a bearer instrument with a zero interest rate — limits central banks’ ability to stimulate a depressed economy. The worry is that people will change their deposits for cash if a central bank moves rates into negative territory,” states the article.
Complaining that cash cannot be tracked and traced, the writer argues that its abolition would, “make life easier for a government set on squeezing the informal economy out of existence.”
Abolishing cash would also give governments more power to lift taxes directly from people’s bank accounts, the author argues, noting how “Value added tax, for example, could be automatically levied — and reimbursed — in real time on transactions between liable bank accounts.”
The writer also calls for punishing people who use cash by making users “pay for the privilege of anonymity” so they will, “remain affected by monetary policy.” Dated bank notes would lose their value over time, while people would also be charged by banks for swapping electronic reserves for physical cash and vice versa.
The article echoes an argument made by Kenneth Rogoff, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who has called for high denomination banks notes such as the €100 and €500 notes to be phased out of existence.
As we previously reported, Rogoff attended a meeting in London earlier this year where he met representatives from the Federal Reserve, the ECB as well as participants from the Swiss and Danish central banks. The issue of banning cash was at the forefront of the agenda.
Last year, Rogoff also called for “abolishing physical currency” in order to stop “tax evasion and illegal activity” as well as preventing people from withdrawing money when interest rates are close to zero.
The agenda to ban cash was also discussed at this year’s secretive Bilderberg Group meeting, which wasattended by the Financial Times’ chief economics commentator Martin Wolf.
Former Bank of England economist Jim Leaviss penned an article for the London Telegraph earlier this year in which he said a cashless society would only be achieved by “forcing everyone to spend only by electronic means from an account held at a government-run bank,” which would be, “monitored, or even directly controlled by the government.”
In the UK, banks are treating the withdrawal of cash in amounts as low as £5,000 as a suspicious activity, while in France, citizens will be banned from making cash payments over €1,000 euros from Tuesday onwards. The withdrawal and deposit of cash over the amount of €1,000 euros will also be subject to ID verification.
“There is no more egregious anti-liberty economic policy imaginable than banning cash,” writes Michael Krieger.
“Of course, if cash were involuntarily “ended,” there would be a surge in demand for physical gold and silver, which would then necessitate a ban on those items. Then the cycle of economic and financial tyranny would be complete, and crawling our way out of it, nearly impossible.”
The US repeatedly asked Norway to detain and deport whistleblower Edward Snowden if he tried to enter its territory in the aftermath of his leaks on mass US global surveillance, Norwegian media revealed citing formal requests.
Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the first letter from Washington shortly after the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor’s revelations went public when he was stranded in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
“We request that should US citizen Edward J. Snowden attempt to enter Norway through any means, the Government of Norway notify the Embassy immediately and effectuate the return of Mr. Snowden to the United States by way of denial of entry, deportation, expulsion or other lawful means.”
On the same day, the FBI’s Scandinavia office followed up with another letter addressed to justice authorities in Norway, Sweden and Finland. It described Snowden as a criminal fugitive and urged them to notify American personnel if the whistleblower booked a flight to one of their countries from Moscow.
These correspondences were followed up with a separate message to Norway’s Department of Foreign Affairs on July 4, 2013, requesting that Snowden be arrested and extradited if he were to attempt to enter Norwegian territory. “The United States urges that Snowden be kept in custody, if arrested,” the note said.
The language in documents revealed by NRK reflects how desperately the US wanted to contain the information Snowden had in his possession.
“The Embassy requests the seizure of all articles acquired as a result of the offenses (..) This includes, but is not limited to, all computer devices, electronic storage devices and other sorts of electronic media.”
The most problematic aspect of the US making such bullish requests is that Snowden would have been denied his international right to apply for asylum before being arrested had the countries complied, Snowden’s lawyer Ben Wizner told NRK.
“What is troubling to me is the suggestion that if Mr. Snowden showed up in one of these countries, he should be promptly extradited – before he would have a chance to raise his humanitarian rights under international law,” he said.
“The only correct response from political leaders in Norway or any other free society should be to tell the US that this is a question of law and not a question of politics. And that, under international law, someone who is charged with a political offense has a right to raise a claim for asylum before the question of extradition even comes up.”
Norway: Hey Snowden here’s a prize, now could you head to the court so we can decide if we wanna extradite you kthx: http://t.co/c32K8wKX3G
Snowden has been invited to Norway to receive the prestigious Bjørnson Prize by the Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson Academy for freedom of expression. The award is being presented to Snowden “for work protecting privacy and for shining a critical light on US surveillance of its citizens and others.”
However, it is still unclear whether Norway would arrest Snowden if he attempted to enter the country.
Norway’s Justice and Foreign Affairs departments said that the US’ requests had not been answered because, under Norwegian law, no country can make an extradition request until the alleged criminal is actually on Norwegian territory.
Jøran Kallemyr, State Secretary in Norway’s Department of Justice, confirmed this view: “What Norway has done is to inform the American authorities how the Norwegian system works,” he said. “If they request an extradition, the prosecuting authorities will decide if the case should be brought before the courts. And the court will decide if the terms for extradition are fulfilled.”
Norway is not the only country reportedly bullied to hand over Snowden. Washington threatened to stop sharing intelligence with Berlin should Germany offer asylum to Snowden or even try to arrange any kind of travel to Germany, according to a report by journalist Glenn Greenwald.
“They told us they would stop notifying us of plots and other intelligence matters,” German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said earlier this week, as cited by Greenwald in the Intercept.
Snowden sought political asylum in Russia in 2013 after facing arrest and extradition to the US, where he has been charged under the country’s Espionage Act.
On August 1, 2013, Russia granted him asylum for one year, saying it had no other legal choice. A year later, Snowden received a Russian residence permit valid for three years, valid from August 1, 2014. In March, he publicly asked Switzerland to grant him political asylum.
Snowden has been condemned as a criminal in the US for leaking a vast trove of classified material to journalists who published the documents, revealing the espionage antics of the NSA’s global spying operations.
The documents leaked by Snowden informed the public that the US government, together with European allies, is gathering and storing millions of pieces of metadata on citizens. Other disclosures revealed that the NSA bugged the personal communications of high-ranking businessmen and world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
Protegidos pelo blecaute político-midiático, estão descendo na Europa enxames de paraquedistas em pé de guerra. Trata-se da “Swift Response” (Resposta Rápida), “o maior exercício militar da Otan de forças aerotransportadas, cerca de cinco mil homens, desde o fim da guerra fria”.
Realiza-se de 17 de agosto a 13 de setembro na Itália, Alemanha, Bulgária e Romênia, com a participação também de tropas estadunidenses, britânicas, francesas, gregas, holandesas, polonesas, espanholas e portuguesas. Naturalmente, confirma um comunicado oficial, sob a “direção do exército dos Estados Unidos”.
Para a “Resposta Rápida”, o exército dos Estados Unidos” emprega, pela primeira vez na Europa depois da guerra contra a Iugoslávia em 1999, a 82ª Divisão aerotransportada, incluindo a 173ª Brigada baseada em Vicenza (Itália). A mesma que treina desde abril, na Ucrânia, os batalhões da guarda nacional de clara composição neonazista, subordinada ao Ministério do Interior e que agora, depois de um exercício com fogo realizado na Ucrânia em seis de agosto, começa a treinar também as forças armadas “regulares” de Kíev”.
A “Swift Response” foi precedida em agosto pelo exercício militar bilateral EUA-Lituânia “Uhlan Fury”, acompanhado por um semelhante na Polônia e pela denominada “Allied Spirit”, realizado na Alemanha, sempre sob o comando estadunidense, com a participação de tropas italianas, georgianas e até mesmo sérvias. E, pouco depois da “Swift Response”, se desenvolverá de três de outubro a seis de novembro uma das maiores manobras militares da Otan, a “Trident Juncture 2015”, que mobilizará sobretudo na Itália, Espanha e em Portugal forças armadas de mais de 30 países aliados e parceiros, com 36 mil homens, mais de 60 navios e 10 aviões.
Quem explica o escopo dessas manobras militares da Otan sob o comando dos Estados Unidos, que se desenvolvem doravante sem interrupção na Europa, é o novo chefe do estado maior do exército dos Estados Unidos, o general Mark Milley. Depois de ter definido a Rússia como uma “ameaça existencial porque é o único país do mundo com uma capacidade nuclear no nível de destruir os Estados Unidos” (audiência no Senado em 21 de julho), no seu discurso de posse (14 de agosto) declarou: “A guerra, o ato político com o qual uma parte tenta impor a sua vontade a outra, se decide sobre um terreno em que as pessoas vivem. E é sobre esse terreno que o exército dos Estados Unidos, o mais bem armado e treinado do mundo, não deve jamais fracassar”. O “terreno” de onde são lançadas as operações dos Estados Unidos e da Otan para o Leste e o Sul, mais uma vez, é o europeu. No sentido não apenas militar, mas também político.
É emblemático o fato de que a UniãoEuropeia como tal participa da “Trident Juncture 2015” (com um silêncio político geral). Não é de espantar, uma vez que 22 dos 28 países da União Europeia são membros da Otan e o artigo 42 do Tratado sobre a União Europeia reconhece o seu direito de realizar “a defesa comum por meio da Organização do Tratado do Atlântico Norte”, que (sublinha o protocolo número 10) “continua sendo o fundamento da defesa coletiva da União Europeia”.
A Otan – cujo comandante supremo aliado na Europa é sempre nomeado pelo presidente dos Estados Unidos e cujas demais posições de mando estão nas mãos dos Estados Unidos – serve para manter a União Europeia na esfera de influência estadunidense. As oligarquias europeias tiram vantagem disto, pois em troca da “fidelidade atlântica” de seus países participam na divisão dos lucros e áreas de influência com as estadunidenses. Enquanto isso, os povos europeus são arrastados a uma perigosa e custosa nova guerra fria contra a Rússia e a situações críticas, como a do dramático êxodo de fugitivos provocado pelas guerras dos Estados Unidos e da Otan na Líbia e na Síria.
Coperti dal blackout politico/mediatico, stanno scendendo in Europa nugoli di paracadutisti in pieno assetto di guerra. È la «Swift Response» (Risposta rapida), «la più grande esercitazione Nato di forze aviotrasportate, circa 5mila uomini, dalla fine della guerra fredda». Si svolge dal 17 agosto al 13 settembre in Italia, Germania, Bulgaria e Romania, con la partecipazione anche di truppe statunitensi, britanniche, francesi, greche, olandesi, polacche, spagnole e portoghesi. Naturalmente, conferma un comunicato ufficiale, sotto «la direzione dello U.S. Army».
Per la «Risposta rapida» lo U.S. Army impiega, per la prima volta in Europa dopo la guerra contro la Jugoslavia nel 1999, la 82a Divisione aviotrasportata, compresa la 173a Brigata di stanza a Vicenza. Quella che addestra da aprile, in Ucraina, i battaglioni della Guardia nazionale di chiara composizione neonazista, dipendenti dal Ministero degli interni, e che ora, dopo una esercitazone a fuoco effettuata sempre in Ucraina il 6 agosto, inizia ad addestrare anche le forze armate «regolari» di Kiev.
La «Swift Response» è stata preceduta in agosto dall’esercitazione bilaterale Usa/Lituania «Uhlan Fury», accompagnata da una analoga in Polonia, e dalla «Allied Spirit» svoltasi in Germania, sempre sotto comando Usa, con la partecipazione di truppe italiane, georgiane e perfino serbe. E, poco dopo la «Swift Response», si svolgerà dal 3 ottobre al 6 novembre una delle più grandi esercitazioni Nato, la «Trident Juncture 2015», che vedrà impegnate soprattutto in Italia, Spagna e Portogallo forze armate di oltre 30 paesi alleati e partner, con 36 mila uomini, oltre 60 navi e 140 aerei.
Quale sia lo scopo di queste esercitazioni Nato sotto comando Usa, che si svolgono ormai senza interruzione in Europa, lo spiega il nuovo capo di stato maggiore dello U.S. Army, il generale Mark Milley. Dopo aver definito la Russia «una minaccia esistenziale poiché è l’unico paese al mondo con una capacità nucleare in grado di distruggere gli Stati uniti» (audizione al Senato, 21 luglio), nel suo discorso di insediamento (14 agosto) dichiara: «La guerra, l’atto di politica con cui una parte tenta di imporre la sua volontà all’altra, si decide sul terreno dove vive la gente. Ed è sul terreno che l’esercito degli Stati uniti, il meglio armato e addestrato del mondo, non deve mai fallire». Il «terreno» da cui vengono lanciate le operazioni Usa/Nato verso Est e verso Sud, ancora una volta, è quello europeo. In senso non solo militare, ma politico.
Emblematico il fatto che alla «Trident Juncture 2015» partecipa (nel silenzio politico generale) l’Unione europea in quanto tale. Non c’è da stupirsene, dato che 22 dei 28 paesi della Ue sono membri della Nato e l’art. 42 del Trattato sull’Unione europea riconosce il loro diritto a realizzare «la difesa comune tramite l’Organizzazione del Trattato del Nord Atlantico», che (sottolinea il protocollo n. 10) «resta il fondamento della difesa collettiva della Ue».
La Nato — in cui il Comandante supremo alleato in Europa è sempre nominato dal presidente degli Stati uniti e sono in mano agli Usa gli altri comandi chiave — serve a mantenere la Ue nella sfera d’influenza statunitense. Se ne avvantaggiano le oligarchie europee, che in cambio della «fedeltà atlantica» dei loro paesi partecipano alla spartizione di profitti e aree di influenza con quelle statunitensi. Mentre i popoli europei sono trascinati in una pericolosa e costosa nuova guerra fredda contro la Russia e in situazioni critiche, come quella del drammatico esodo di profughi provocato dalle guerre Usa/Nato in Libia e Siria.
Corporations are taking the retirement savings of elderly public employees and using them to inflate their stock prices so wealthy CEOs and their shareholders can enrich themselves at the expense of their companies. And it’s all completely legal. Under current financial regulations, corporate bosses are free to repurchase their own company’s shares, push stock prices into the stratosphere, skim off a generous bonuses for themselves in the form of executive compensation, and leave their companies drowning in red ink.
Even worse, a sizable portion of the money devoted to stock buybacks is coming from “massively underfunded public pension” funds that retired workers depend on for their survival. According to Brian Reynolds, Chief Market Strategist at New Albion Partners, “Pension funds have to make 7.5%,” so they are putting their money “in these levered credit funds that mimic Long-Term Capital Management in the 1990s.” Those funds, in turn, “buy enormous amounts of corporate bonds from companies which put cash onto company balance sheets…and they use it to jack their stock price up, either through buybacks or mergers and acquisitions…It’s just a daisy chain of financial engineering and it’s probably going to intensify in coming years.” (“How a Public Pension Crisis Is Driving an Epic Credit Boom“, Financial Sense)
So, once again, ordinary working people are caught in the crosshairs of a corporate scam that could blow up in their faces and leave them without sufficient resources to muddle through their retirement years.
The amount money that’s being funneled into buybacks is simply staggering. According to Dave Dayen at the Intercept:
“Last year, companies spent $553 billion to repurchase outstanding shares, just short of the record $589.1 billion in 2007. Large companies like Apple, General Motors, McDonald’s, Pfizer, Microsoft and more have engaged in buybacks in recent years.
Returning profits to shareholders through buybacks and dividends accounted for 95 percent of all earnings in 2014. As a result, each additional dollar of corporate earnings now translates to under 10 cents of reinvestment, according to a study by J.W. Mason of the Roosevelt Institute.”
This explains why business investment (Capex) is at record lows. It’s because the bulk of earnings is being recycled into buybacks, over $2.3 trillion dollars since 2009 to be precise. And it’s all connected to the Fed’s zero rate policy. Zero rates have created an environment in which corporations no longer look for ways to grow their businesses, expand operations, hire more employees or improve productivity. Instead, they look for the quick fix, that is, load up on debt, buy more shares, goose the stock price, and walk away with a bundle.
It’s all about incentives. The Fed has created incentives that encourage financial engineering and stock manipulation as opposed to growth and productivity. And keep in mind that repurchasing shares is a form of margin buying, the same type of margin buying that triggered Stock Market Crash of 1929.
According to Dayen: “Prior to the Reagan era, executives avoided buybacks due to fears that they would be prosecuted for market manipulation. But under SEC Rule 10b-18, adopted in 1982, companies receive a “safe harbor” from market manipulation liability on stock buybacks if they adhere to four limitations.”
We won’t go over the regulations now because, as you can see, they obviously don’t work or these corporations wouldn’t be $2 trillion in the hole. But it is interesting to note that, at one time, policymakers saw how destructive buybacks were and were prepared to prosecute offenders for manipulation. I doubt that any of our regulators today would even dream of bringing a case against these corporate behemoths, after all, they pretty much own the whole show lock, stock and barrel.
The real danger of this buyback phenom, is that the corporations have piled on so much debt that any sharp decline in the market could push one or two of these giants into default. That, in turn, could quickly take down other counterparties touching off another financial crisis. So, the question regulators should be asking themselves, is how much red ink are these corporations hiding on their balance sheets and what are the risks to the public if they’re unable to repay their debts. According to Henry Blodget at Business Insider:
“As corporations have borrowed more and more money, the level of corporate debt relative to the size of the economy has continued to increase. As the chart below shows, this ratio is now at its highest level ever — even higher than it was in 2007, before the last debt-fueled economic implosion. Importantly, corporate net debt — the amount of debt that corporations are carrying minus the cash they have on hand (green line below) — is also at its highest level ever as a percent of the economy.”
3. “The level of corporate debt relative to the size of the economy… is now at its highest level ever.”
What can we deduce from these three observations?
First, that stock prices are a bubble and, second, that a significant stock market shakeout could leave some of the nation’s biggest corporations teetering towards insolvency.
Of course, none of this is going to stop corporations from engaging in the same risky behavior. Heck, no. In fact, CEOs are actually looking for ways to speed up the buyback process. I’m not kidding. Check clip from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
“Companies are increasingly turning to accelerated share repurchase agreements…to return cash to shareholders and secure an immediate boost to per-share profits…..But these turbo-charged stock buybacks can backfire, especially when a steep market plunge—such as the 5.3% drop in the markets over the past two trading days. That’s because a steep plunge in stock prices can force the companies to potentially pay more to buy the shares through an ASR than what they would pay if they purchased the shares over time on the open market. “Things can go wrong,” said Robert Leonard, head of specialty equity transactions at Citigroup Inc…. (“Accelerated Buybacks Less Favorable During Market Swoons“, Wall Street Journal)
You’re darn right, they can go wrong, but who gives a rip? Not America’s insatiable CEOs, that’s for sure. They’re just looking for faster ways to cash in, that’s all that matters to them. These guys aren’t even thinking about the health of their companies, let alone their customers. ‘Making widgets for the masses, is for suckers’, right? Corporate honchos have bigger fish to fry, like leveraging up their whole operation to its eyeballs, skimming the cream off the top, stuffing the moolah in an unmarked Caymans account, and slipping out the backdoor before the whole rickety structure comes crashing to earth. That’s modern-day capitalism in a nutshell. Slash and burn, Baby, just like big boys at the Pentagon.
One last thing: Just to show the extent to which these corporate mandarins will go to enrich themselves at their company’s expense, check out this blurb from this 2014 article at Bloomberg:
“International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) is reducing stock buybacks after an $8.2 billion first-quarter splurge… IBM said last week it won’t sustain its rate of share repurchases in the first quarter, when buybacks more than tripled from a year earlier to the most since 2007. The company plans to spend less than $5.8 billion total in the final nine months of this year…. . IBM’s sales have fallen from a year earlier for eight straight quarters…Declining sales and rising buybacks have squeezed IBM’s free cash flow…The repurchases, meanwhile, have taken a toll on IBM’s balance sheet. Total debt climbed to $44 billion in the first quarter, up from $33.4 billion a year ago…. During the first quarter, IBM issued $4.5 billion of new bonds, clearly used to fund buybacks, Black said…. “The company tapped the bond market five different times last year, then you have a pretty sizable February issuance,” Black said in the interview. “I feel like there is investor fatigue on the name.” (“IBM End to Buyback Splurge Pressures CEO to Boost Revenue“, Bloomberg)
Okay, let’s translate this into English: IBM spent $8.2 billion in first-quarter on stock buybacks, even though “sales have dipped “from a year earlier for eight straight quarters”; even though “declining sales and rising buybacks have squeezed IBM’s free cash flow”; even though buybacks “have taken a toll on IBM’s balance sheet”; and even though “Total debt climbed to $44 billion in the first quarter, up from $33.4 billion a year ago.”
Unbelievable, right? And that’s not even the best part. The best part is the fact that “The company tapped the bond market five different times last year.” In other words, they went to the bond market with ‘cup in hand’ and appealed to gullible investors to lend them more money to pay their lavish executive bonuses, to shower more dough on their worthless, do-nothing shareholders, and to keep this whole ridiculous farce going on a bit longer.
Talk about balls!
Tell me this, dear reader, when can we stop referring to this activity as “buybacks” and call it by its real name; looting?
A team of archeologists from the University of Tel Aviv have uncovered a collection of ancient scrolls in the West Bank region, near the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were originally uncovered in 1947, and which promise to shed a new light on the life and physical appearance of Jesus Christ.
The newly found documents which are believed to have been written by a small Jewish sectarian group, called the Essenes, retraces different elements of the Old Testament and New Testament similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls, but scholars have turned their attention to a peculiar fragment which describes the birth of the Christ figure in a new light.
The manuscripts that have been dated between 408 BCE to 318 CE describe the son of Mary as of a “darker color” of skin than her parents, a revealing information admits professor Hans Schummer.
The manuscripts that have been dated between 408 BCE to 318 CE shed a new light on the physical appearance of Jesus Christ, admits professor Hans Schummer of the University of Tel Aviv
“It is quite revealing that the unknown author of the document notes with a certain sense of surprise that the infant’s skin tone is darker in color than his mother and father.
“The infant was the color of the night” reads a part of the fragment of the scripture, “In the dark of the night, nothing could be seen of the infant except the white of his eyes” reads another excerpt.
Hamshet, half-brother of Joseph
There is also the mention of a peculiar character named Hamshet, which is described as the half-brother of Joseph. Hamshet is described as “untrustworthy” and “ill-fated”, denoted as suspicious and reviled by his brother Joseph who “despises his wicked manners” and “lack of morals”, but most interestingly, accordingly to archeologist Natanya Jeborah of the University of Tel Aviv, Hamshet and the infant are described by a shepherd as sharing “the same color of skin”, a remark Joseph does not take lightly.
“In this account of the nativity of Christ, this is the first known description of Hamshet, the alleged half-brother of Joseph, with whom Joseph seems to have much contempt for some unexplained reason” she explains. “Is it possible Hamshet was in fact the true father of Jesus? Although some elements may lead us to think so, without further proof we are left only with a plausible conjecture” she adds.
The infant Jesus was “black as the night” reveal the new scrolls, leading experts to believe Jesus was in fact of a “darker skin tone” and allegedly of African descent
Why is Hamshet, half-brother of Joseph, dark skinned?
Some apocryphal texts insist the father of Joseph had two wives, but also a servant of African origin named Melcha. Although the names of Joseph’s siblings are not mentioned, he allegedly had 4 sisters and 5 brothers. It is also said that a child was born of the union of Jacob and his servant after his second wife had died. “This could explain why Hamshet is described as of a darker tone of skin than his half-brother Joseph” believes Hebrew scholar Moshe Zuckenschtein. “The use of the Hebrew adjective “כושי” Cushite or Cushi, translated to Latin as Aethiops, to describe Hamshet also confirms that he is of darker skin than the average Israelite of the time” he acknowledges. “That his skin tone is said to be the same as that of the infant Jesus is very intriguing” he concedes.
Further research of the caves led by the University of Tel Aviv in the vicinity of the ancient settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the West Bank could reveal new promising discoveries believe scholars, although the two-year excavation of the caves, which are located about 2 kilometers inland from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, are under constant threat by armed conflicts in the region.
Since the end of World War Two the Central Intelligence Agency has been a major force in US and foreign news media, exerting considerable influence over what the public sees, hears and reads on a regular basis. CIA publicists and journalists alike will assert they have few, if any, relationships, yet the seldom acknowledged history of their intimate collaboration indicates a far different story–indeed, one that media historians are reluctant to examine.
When seriously practiced, the journalistic profession involves gathering information concerning individuals, locales, events, and issues. In theory such information informs people about their world, thereby strengthening “democracy.” This is exactly the reason why news organizations and individual journalists are tapped as assets by intelligence agencies and, as the experiences of German journalist Udo Ulfkotte (entry 47 below) suggest, this practice is at least as widespread today as it was at the height of the Cold War.
Consider the coverups of election fraud in 2000 and 2004, the events of September 11, 2001, the invasions Afghanistan and Iraq, the destabilization of Syria, and the creation of “ISIS.” These are among the most significant events in recent world history, and yet they are also those much of the American public is wholly ignorant of. In an era where information and communication technologies are ubiquitous, prompting many to harbor the illusion of being well-informed, one must ask why this condition persists.
Further, why do prominent US journalists routinely fail to question other deep events that shape America’s tragic history over the past half century, such as the political assassinations of the 1960s, or the central role played by the CIA major role in international drug trafficking?
Popular and academic commentators have suggested various reasons for the almost universal failure of mainstream journalism in these areas, including newsroom sociology, advertising pressure, monopoly ownership, news organizations’ heavy reliance on “official” sources, and journalists’ simple quest for career advancement. There is also, no doubt, the influence of professional public relations maneuvers. Yet such a broad conspiracy of silence suggests another province of deception examined far too infrequently—specifically the CIA and similar intelligence agencies’ continued involvement in the news media to mold thought and opinion in ways scarcely imagined by the lay public.
The following historical and contemporary facts–by no means exhaustive–provides a glimpse of how the power such entities possess to influence if not determine popular memory and what respectable institutions deem to be the historical record.
The CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD is a long-recognised keystone among researchers pointing to the Agency’s clear interest in and relationship to major US news media. MOCKINGBIRD grew out of the CIA’s forerunner, the Office for Strategic Services (OSS, 1942-47), which during World War Two had established a network of journalists and psychological warfare experts operating primarily in the European theatre.
Many of the relationships forged under OSS auspices were carried over into the postwar era through a State Department-run organization called the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) overseen by OSS staffer Frank Wisner.
The OPC “became the fastest-growing unit within the nascent CIA,” historian Lisa Pease observes, “rising in personnel from 302 in 1949 to 2,812 in 1952, along with 3,142 overseas contract personnel. In the same period, the budget rose from $4.7 million to $82 million.” Lisa Pease, “The Media and the Assassination,” in James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK and Malcolm X, Port Townsend, WA, 2003, 300.
Like many career CIA officers, eventual CIA Director/Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Richard Helms was recruited out of the press corps by his own supervisor at the United Press International’s Berlin Bureau to join in the OSS’s fledgling “black propaganda” program. “‘[Y]ou’re a natural,” Helms’ boss remarked. Richard Helms, A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency, New York: Random House, 2003, 30-31.
Wisner tapped Marshall Plan funds to pay for his division’s early exploits, money his branch referred to as “candy.” “We couldn’t spend it all,” CIA agent Gilbert Greenway recalls. “I remember once meeting with Wisner and the comptroller. My God, I said, how can we spend that? There were no limits, and nobody had to account for it. It was amazing.” Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, New York: The New Press, 2000, 105.
When the OPC was merged with the Office of Special Operations in 1948 to create the CIA, OPC’s media assets were likewise absorbed.
Wisner maintained the top secret “Propaganda Assets Inventory,” better known as “Wisner’s Wurlitzer”—a virtual rolodex of over 800 news and information entities prepared to play whatever tune Wisner chose. “The network included journalists, columnists, book publishers, editors, entire organizations such as Radio Free Europe, and stringers across multiple news organizations.” Pease, “The Media and the Assassination,” 300.
A few years after Wisner’s operation was up-and-running he “’owned’ respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS, and other communication vehicles, plus stringers, four to six hundred in all, according to a CIA analyst. Each one was a separate ‘operation,’” investigative journalist Deborah Davis notes, “requiring a code name, a field supervisor, and a field office, at an annual cost of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars—there has never been an accurate accounting.” Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post, Second Edition, Bethesda MD: National Press Inc, 1987, 139.
Psychological operations in the form of journalism were perceived as necessary to influence and direct mass opinion, as well as elite perspectives. “[T]he President of the United States, the Secretary of State, Congressmen and even the Director of the CIA himself will read, believe, and be impressed by a report from Cy Sulzberger, Arnaud de Borchgrave, or Stewart Alsop when they don’t even bother to read a CIA report on the same subject,” noted CIA agent Miles Copeland. Cited in Pease, “The Media and the Assassination,” 301.
By the mid-to-late 1950s, Darrell Garwood points out, the Agency sought to limit criticism directed against covert activity and bypass congressional oversight or potential judicial interference by “infiltrat[ing] the groves of academia, the missionary corps, the editorial boards of influential journal and book publishers, and any other quarters where public attitudes could be effectively influenced.” Darrell Garwood, Under Cover: Thirty-Five Years of CIA Deception, New York: Grove Press, 1985, 250.
The CIA frequently intercedes in editorial decision-making. For example, when the Agency proceeded to wage an overthrow of the Arbenz regime in Guatemala in 1954, Allen and John Foster Dulles, President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State and CIA Director respectively, called upon New York Times publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger to reassign reporter Sydney Gruson from Guatemala to Mexico City. Sulzberger thus placed Gruson in Mexico City with the rationale that some repercussions from the revolution might be felt in Mexico. Pease, “The Media and the Assassination,” 302.
Since the early 1950s the CIA “has secretly bankrolled numerous foreign press services, periodicals and newspapers—both English and foreign language—which provided excellent cover for CIA operatives,” Carl Bernstein reported in 1977. “One such publication was the Rome Daily American, forty percent of which was owned by the CIA until the 1970s.” Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977.
The CIA exercised informal liaisons with news media executives, in contrast to its relationships with salaried reporters and stringers, “who were much more subject to direction from the Agency” according to Bernstein. “A few executives—Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times among them—signed secrecy agreements. But such formal understandings were rare: relationships between Agency officials and media executives were usually social—’The P and Q Street axis in Georgetown,’ said one source. ‘You don’t tell William Paley to sign a piece of paper saying he won’t fink.’” Director of CBS William Paley’s personal “friendship with CIA Director Dulles is now known to have been one of the most influential and significant in the communications industry,” author Debora Davis explains. “He provided cover for CIA agents, supplied out-takes of news film, permitted the debriefing of reporters, and in many ways set the standard for the cooperation between the CIA and major broadcast companies which lasted until the mid-1970s.” Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post, Second Edition, Bethesda MD: National Press Inc, 1987, 175.
“The Agency’s relationship with the Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials,” Bernstein points out in his key 1977 article. “From 1950 to 1966, about ten CIA employees were provided Times cover under arrangements approved by the newspaper’s late publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger. The cover arrangements were part of a general Times policy—set by Sulzberger—to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.” In addition, Sulzberger was a close friend of CIA Director Allen Dulles. “’At that level of contact it was the mighty talking to the mighty,’ said a high‑level CIA official who was present at some of the discussions. ‘There was an agreement in principle that, yes indeed, we would help each other. The question of cover came up on several occasions. It was agreed that the actual arrangements would be handled by subordinates…. The mighty didn’t want to know the specifics; they wanted plausible deniability.’” Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
CBS’s Paley worked reciprocally with the CIA, allowing the Agency to utilize network resources and personnel. “It was a form of assistance that a number of wealthy persons are now generally known to have rendered the CIA through their private interests,” veteran broadcast journalist Daniel Schorr wrote in 1977. “It suggested to me, however, that a relationship of confidence and trust had existed between him and the agency.” Schorr points to “clues indicating that CBS had been infiltrated.” For example, “A news editor remembered the CIA officer who used to come to the radio control room in New York in the early morning, and, with the permission of persons unknown, listened to CBS correspondents around the world recording their ‘spots’ for the ‘World News Roundup’ and discussing events with the editor on duty. Sam Jaffe claimed that when he applied in 1955 for a job with CBS, a CIA officer told him that he would be hired–which he subsequently was. He was told that he would be sent to Moscow–which he subsequently was; he was assigned in 1960 to cover the trial of U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. [Richard] Salant told me,” Schorr continues, “that when he first became president of CBS News in 1961, a CIA case officer called saying he wanted to continue the ‘long standing relationship known to Paley and [CBS president Frank] Stanton, but Salant was told by Stanton there was no obligation that he knew of” (276). Schorr, Daniel. Clearing the Air, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977, 277, 276.
National Enquirer publisher Gene Pope Jr. worked briefly on the CIA’s Italy desk in the early 1950s and maintained close ties with the Agency thereafter. Pope refrained from publishing dozens of stories with “details of CIA kidnappings and murders, enough stuff for a year’s worth of headlines” in order to “collect chits, IOUs,” Pope’s son writes. “He figured he’d never know when he might need them, and those IOUs would come in handy when he got to 20 million circulation. When that happened, he’d have the voice to be almost his own branch of government and would need the cover.” Paul David Pope, The Deeds of My Fathers: How My Grandfather and Father Built New York and Created the Tabloid World of Today, New York: Phillip Turner/Rowman & Littlefield, 2010, 309, 310.
One explosive story Pope’s National Enquirer‘s refrained from publishing in the late 1970s centered on excerpts from a long-sought after diary of President Kennedy’s lover, Mary Pinchot Meyer, who was murdered on October 12, 1964. “The reporters who wrote the story were even able to place James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s head of counterintelligence operations, at the scene.” Another potential story drew on “documents proving that [Howard] Hughes and the CIA had been connected for years and that the CIA was giving Hughes money to secretly fund, with campaign donations, twenty-seven congressmen and senators who sat on sub-committees critical to the agency. There are also fifty-three international companies named and sourced as CIA fronts .. and even a list of reporters for mainstream media organizations who were playing ball with the agency.” Pope, The Deeds of My Fathers, 309.
Angleton, who oversaw the Agency counterintelligence branch for 25 years, “ran a completely independent group entirely separate cadre of journalist‑operatives who performed sensitive and frequently dangerous assignments; little is known about this group for the simple reason that Angleton deliberately kept only the vaguest of files.” Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
The CIA conducted a “formal training program” during the 1950s for the sole purpose of instructing its agents to function as newsmen. “Intelligence officers were ‘taught to make noises like reporters,’ explained a high CIA official, and were then placed in major news organizations with help from management. These were the guys who went through the ranks and were told ‘You’re going to he a journalist,’” the CIA official said.” The Agency’s preference, however, was to engage journalists who were already established in the industry. Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
Newspaper columnists and broadcast journalists with household names have been known to maintain close ties with the Agency. “There are perhaps a dozen well known columnists and broadcast commentators whose relationships with the CIA go far beyond those normally maintained between reporters and their sources,” Bernstein maintains. “They are referred to at the Agency as ‘known assets’ and can be counted on to perform a variety of undercover tasks; they are considered receptive to the Agency’s point of view on various subjects.” Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
Frank Wisner, Allen Dulles, and Washington Post publisher Phillip Graham were close associates, and the Post developed into one of the most influential news organs in the United States due to its ties with the CIA. The Post managers’ “individual relations with intelligence had in fact been the reason the Post Company had grown as fast as it did after the war,” Davis (172) observes. “[T]heir secrets were its corporate secrets, beginning with MOCKINGBIRD. Phillip Graham’s commitment to intelligence had given his friends Frank Wisner an interest in helping to make the Washington Post the dominant news vehicle in Washington, which they had done by assisting with its two most crucial acquisitions, the Times-Herald and WTOP radio and television stations.” Davis, Katharine the Great: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post, 172.
In the wake of World War One the Woodrow Wilson administration placed journalist and author Walter Lippmann in charge of recruiting agents for the Inquiry, a first-of-its-kind ultra-secret civilian intelligence organization whose role involved ascertaining information to prepare Wilson for the peace negotiations, as well as identify foreign natural resources for Wall Street speculators and oil companies. The activities of this organization served as a prototype for the function eventually performed by the CIA, namely “planning, collecting, digesting, and editing the raw data,” notes historian Servando Gonzalez. “This roughly corresponds to the CIA’s intelligence cycle: planning and direction, collection, processing, production and analysis, and dissemination.” Most Inquiry members would later become members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Lippmann would go on to become the Washington Post’s best known columnists. Servando Gonzalez, Psychological Warfare and the New World Order: The Secret War Against the American People, Oakland, CA: Spooks Books, 2010, 50.
The two most prominent US newsweeklies, Time and Newsweek, kept close ties with the CIA. “Agency files contain written agreements with former foreign correspondents and stringers for both the weekly newsmagazines,” according to Carl Bernstein. “Allen Dulles often interceded with his good friend, the late Henry Luce, founder of Time and Life magazines, who readily allowed certain members of his staff to work for the Agency and agreed to provide jobs and credentials for other CIA operatives who lacked journalistic experience.” Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
In his autobiography former CIA officer E. Howard Hunt quotes Bernstein’s “The CIA and the Media” article at length. “I know nothing to contradict this report,” Hunt declares, suggesting the investigative journalist of Watergate fame didn’t go far enough. “Bernstein further identified some of the country’s top media executives as being valuable assets to the agency … But the list of organizations that cooperated with the agency was a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of the media industry, including ABC, NBC, the Associated Press, UPI, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, and others.” E. Howard Hunt, American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate, and Beyond, Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2007, 150.
When the first major exposé of the CIA emerged in 1964 with the publication of The Invisible Government by journalists David Wise and Thomas B. Ross, the CIA considered purchasing the entire printing to keep the book from the public, yet in the end judged against it. “To an extent that is only beginning to be perceived, this shadow government is shaping the lives of 190,000,000 Americans” authors Wise and Ross write in the book’s preamble. “Major decisions involving peace and war are taking place out of public view. An informed citizen might come to suspect that the foreign policy of the United States often works publicly in one direction and secretly through the Invisible Government in just the opposite direction.”Lisa Pease, “When the CIA’s Empire Struck Back,” Consortiumnews.com, February 6, 2014.
Agency infiltration of the news media shaped public perception of deep events and undergirded the official explanations of such events. For example, the Warren Commission’s report on President John F. Kennedy’s assassination was met with almost unanimous approval by US media outlets. “I have never seen an official report greeted with such universal praise as that accorded the Warren Commission’s findings when they were made public on September 24, 1964,” recalls investigative reporter Fred Cook. “All the major television networks devoted special programs and analyses to the report; the next day the newspapers ran long columns detailing its findings, accompanied by special news analyses and editorials. The verdict was unanimous. The report answered all questions, left no room for doubt. Lee Harvey Oswald, alone and unaided, had assassinated the president of the United States.” Fred J. Cook, Maverick: Fifty Years of Investigative Reporting, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1984, 276.
In late 1966 the New York Times began an inquiry on the numerous questions surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination that were not satisfactorily dealt with by the Warren Commission. “It was never completed,” author Jerry Policoff observes, “nor would the New York Times ever again question the findings of the Warren Commission.” When the story was being developed the lead reporter at the Times‘ Houston bureau “said that he and others came up with ‘a lot of unanswered questions’ that the Times didn’t bother to pursue. ‘I’d be off on a good lead and then somebody’d call me off and send me out to California on another story or something. We never really detached anyone for this. We weren’t really serious.’” Jerry Policoff, “The Media and the Murder of John Kennedy,” in Peter Dale Scott, Paul L. Hoch and Russell Stetler, eds., The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond, New York: Vintage, 1976, 265.
When New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison embarked on an investigation of the JFK assassination in 1966 centering on Lee Harvey Oswald’s presence in New Orleans in the months leading up to November, 22, 1963, “he was cross-whipped with two hurricane blasts, one from Washington and one from New York,” historian James DiEugenio explains. The first, of course, was from the government, specifically the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI, and to a lesser extent, the White House. The blast from New York was from the major mainstream media e.g. Time-Life and NBC. Those two communication giants were instrumental in making Garrison into a lightening rod for ridicule and criticism. This orchestrated campaign … was successful in diverting attention from what Garrison was uncovering by creating controversy about the DA himself.” DiEugenio, Preface, in William Davy, Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation, Reston VA: Jordan Publishing, 1999.
The CIA and other US intelligence agencies used the news media to sabotage Garrison’s 1966-69 independent investigation of the Kennedy assassination. Garrison presided over the only law enforcement agency with subpoena power to seriously delve into the intricate details surrounding JFK’s murder. One of Garrison’s key witnesses, Gordon Novel, fled New Orleans to avoid testifying before the Grand Jury assembled by Garrison. According to DiEugenio, CIA Director Allen “Dulles and the Agency would begin to connect the fugitive from New Orleans with over a dozen CIA friendly journalists who—in a blatant attempt to destroy Garrison’s reputation—would proceed to write up the most outrageous stories imaginable about the DA.” James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and The Garrison Case, Second Edition, New York: SkyHorse Publishing, 2012, 235.
CIA officer Victor Marchetti recounted to author William Davy that in 1967 while attending staff meetings as an assistant to then-CIA Director Richard Helms, “Helms expressed great concerns over [former OSS officer, CIA operative and primary suspect in Jim Garrison's investigation Clay] Shaw’s predicament, asking his staff, ‘Are we giving them all the help we can down there?’” William Davy, Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation, Reston VA: Jordan Publishing, 1999.
The pejorative dimensions of the term “conspiracy theory” were introduced into the Western lexicon by CIA “media assets,” as evidenced in the design laid out by Document 1035-960 Concerning Criticism of the Warren Report, an Agency communiqué issued in early 1967 to Agency bureaus throughout the world at a time when attorney Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgment was atop bestseller lists and New Orleans DA Garrison’s investigation of the Kennedy assassination began to gain traction.
Time had close relations with the CIA stemming from the friendship of the magazine’s publisher Henry Luce and Eisenhower CIA chief Allen Dulles. When former newsman Richard Helms was appointed DCI in 1966 he “began to cultivate the press,” prompting journalists toward conclusions that placed the Agency in a positive light. As Time Washington correspondent Hugh Sidney recollects, “‘[w]ith [John] McCone and [Richard] Helms, we had a set-up when the magazine was doing something on the CIA, we went to them and put it before them … We were never misled.’ Similarly, when Newsweek decided in the fall of 1971 to do a cover story on Richard Helms and ‘The New Espionage,’ the magazine, according to a Newsweek staffer, went directly to the agency for much of the information. And the article … generally reflected the line that Helms was trying so hard to sell: that since the latter 1960s … the focus of attention and prestige within CIA’ had switched from the Clandestine Services to the analysis of intelligence, and that ‘the vast majority of recruits are bound for’ the Intelligence Directorate.” Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, 362-363.
In 1970 Jim Garrison wrote and published the semi-autobiographical A Heritage of Stone, a work that examines how the New Orleans DA “discovered that the CIA operated within the borders of the United States, and how it took the CIA six months to reply to the Warren Commission’s question of whether Oswald and [Jack] Ruby had been with the Agency,” Garrison biographer and Temple University humanities professor Joan Mellen observes. “In response to A Heritage of Stone, the CIA rounded up its media assets” and the book was panned by reviewers writing for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Sun Times, and Life magazine. “John Leonard’s New York Times review went through a metamorphosis,” Mellen explains. “The original last paragraph challenged the Warren Report: ‘Something stinks about this whole affair,’ Leonard wrote. ‘Why were Kennedy’s neck organs not examined at Bethesda for evidence of a frontal shot? Why was his body whisked away to Washington before the legally required Texas inquest? Why?’ This paragraph evaporated in later editions of the Times. A third of a column gone, the review then ended: ‘Frankly I prefer to believe that the Warren Commission did a poor job, rather than a dishonest one. I like to think that Garrison invents monsters to explain incompetence.’” Joan Mellen, A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History, Washington DC: Potomac Books, 2005, 323, 324.
CIA Deputy Director for Plans Cord Meyer Jr. appealed to Harper & Row president emeritus Cass Canfield Sr. over the book publisher’s pending release of Alfred McCoy’s The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, based on the author’s fieldwork and Yale PhD dissertation wherein he examined the CIA’s explicit role in the opium trade. “Claiming my book was a threat to national security,” McCoy recalls, “the CIA official had asked Harper & Row to suppress it. To his credit, Mr. Canfield had refused. But he had agreed to review the manuscript prior to publication.” Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Chicago Review Press, 2003, xx.
Publication of The Secret Team, a book by US Air Force Colonel and Pentagon-CIA liaison L. Fletcher Prouty recounting the author’s firsthand knowledge of CIA black operations and espionage, was met with a wide scale censorship campaign in 1972. “The campaign to kill the book was nationwide and world-wide,” Prouty notes. “It was removed from the Library of Congress and from college libraries as letters I received attested all too frequently … I was a writer whose book had been cancelled by a major publisher [Prentice Hall] and a major paperback publisher [Ballantine Books] under the persuasive hand of the CIA.” L. Fletcher Prouty, The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World, New York: SkyHorse Publishing, 2008, xii, xv.
During the Pike Committee hearings in 1975 Congressman Otis Pike asked DCI William Colby, “Do you have any people paid by the CIA who are working for television networks?” Colby responded, “This, I think, gets into the kind of details, Mr. Chairman, that I’d like to get into in executive session.” Once the chamber was cleared Colby admitted that in 1975 specifically “the CIA was using ‘media cover’ for eleven agents, many fewer than in the heyday of the cloak-and-pencil operations, but no amount of questioning would persuade him to talk about the publishers and network chieftains who had cooperated at the top.” Schorr, Clearing the Air, 275.
“There is quite an incredible spread of relationships,” former CIA intelligence officer William Bader informed a US Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the CIA’s infiltration of the nation’s journalistic outlets. “You don’t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are Agency people at the management level.” Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.”
In 1985 film historian and professor Joseph McBride came across a November 29, 1963 memorandum from J. Edgar Hoover, titled, “Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” wherein the FBI director stated that his agency provided two individuals with briefings, one of whom was “Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency.” ” When McBride queried the CIA with the memo a “PR man was tersely formal and opaque: ‘I can neither confirm nor deny.’ It was the standard response the agency gave when it dealt with its sources and methods,” journalist Russ Baker notes. When McBride published a story in The Nation, “The Man Who Wasn’t There, ‘George Bush,’ C.I.A. Operative,” the CIA came forward with a statement that the George Bush referenced in the FBI record “apparently” referenced a George William Bush, who filled a perfunctory night shift position at CIA headquarters that “would have been the appropriate place to receive such a report.” McBride tracked down George William Bush to confirm he was only employed briefly as a “probationary civil servant” who had “never received interagency briefings.” Shortly thereafter The Nation ran a second story by McBride wherein “the author provided evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency had foisted a lie on the American people … As with McBride’s previous story, this disclosure was greeted with the equivalent of a collective media yawn.” Since the episode researchers have found documents linking George H. W. Bush to the CIA as early as 1953. Russ Baker, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years, New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2009, 7-12.
Operation Gladio, the well-documented collaboration between Western spy agencies, including the CIA, and NATO involving coordinated terrorist shootings and bombings of civilian targets throughout Europe from the late 1960s through the 1980s, has been effectively expunged from major mainstream news outlets. A LexisNexis Academic search conducted in 2012 for “Operation Gladio” retrieved 31 articles in English language news media—most appearing in British newspapers. Only four articles discussing Gladio ever appeared in US publications—three in the New York Times and one brief mention in the Tampa Bay Times. With the exception of a 2009 BBC documentary, no network or cable news broadcast has ever referenced the state-sponsored terror operation. Almost all of the articles referencing Gladio appeared in 1990 when Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti publicly admitted Italy’s participation in the process. The New York Times downplayed any US involvement, misleadingly designating Gladio “an Italian creation” in a story buried on page A16. In reality, former CIA director William Colby revealed in his memoirs that covert paramilitaries were a significant agency undertaking set up after World War II, including “the smallest possible coterie of the most reliable people, in Washington [and] NATO.” James F. Tracy, “False Flag Terror and Conspiracies of Silence,” Global Research, August 10, 2012.
Days before the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City DCI William Colby confided to his friend, Nebraska State Senator John DeCamp his personal concerns over the Militia and Patriot movement within the United States, then surging in popularity due to the use of the alternative media of that era–books, periodicals, cassette tapes, and radio broadcasts. “I watched as the Anti-War movement rendered it impossible for this country to conduct or win the Vietnam War,” Colby remarked. “I tell you, dear friend, that the Militia and Patriot movement in which, as an attorney, you have become one of the centerpieces, is far more significant and far more dangerous for American than the Anti-War movement ever was, if it is not intelligently dealt with. And I really mean this.” David Hoffman, The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror, Venice CA: Feral House, 1998, 367.
Shortly after the appearance of journalist Gary Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series in the San Jose Mercury News chronicling the Agency’s involvement in drug trafficking, the CIA’s public affairs division embarked on a campaign to counter what it termed “a genuine public relations crisis for the Agency.” Webb was merely reporting to a large audience what had already been well documented by scholars such as Alfred McCoy and Peter Dale Scott, and the 1989 Kerry Committee Report on Iran-Contra—that the CIA had long been involved in the illegal transnational drug trade. Such findings were upheld in 1999 in a study by the CIA inspector general. Nevertheless, beginning shortly after Webb’s series ran, “CIA media spokesmen would remind reporters seeking comment that this series represented no real news,” a CIA internal organ noted, “in that similar charges were made in the 1980s and were investigated by the Congress and were found to be without substance. Reporters were encouraged to read the “Dark Alliance’ series closely and with a critical eye to what allegations could actually be backed with evidence.” http://www.foia.cia.gov/sites/default/files/DOC_0001372115.pdf
On December 10, 2004 investigative journalist Gary Webb died of two .38 caliber gunshot wounds to the head. The coroner ruled the death a suicide. “Gary Webb was MURDERED,” concluded FBI senior special agent Ted Gunderson in 2005. “He (Webb) resisted the first shot [to the head that exited via jaw] so he was shot again with the second shot going into the head [brain].” Gunderson regards the theory that Webb could have managed to shoot himself twice as “impossible!” Charlene Fassa, “Gary Webb: More Pieces in the Suicided Puzzle,” Rense.com, December 11, 2005.
The most revered journalists who receive “exclusive” information and access to the corridors of power are typically the most subservient to officialdom and often have intelligence ties. Those granted such access understand that they must likewise uphold government-sanctioned narratives. For example, the New York Times’ Tom Wicker reported on November 22, 1963 that President John F. Kennedy “was hit by a bullet in the throat, just below the Adam’s apple.” Yet his account went to press before the official story of a single assassin shooting from the rear became established. Wicker was chastised through “lost access, complaints to editors and publishers, social penalties, leaks to competitors, a variety of responses no one wants.” Barrie Zwicker, Towers of Deception: The Media Coverup of 9/11, Gabrioloa Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2006, 169-170.
The CIA actively promotes a desirable public image of its history and function by advising the production of Hollywood vehicles, such as Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. The Agency retains “entertainment industry liaison officers” on its staff that “plant positive images about itself (in other words, propaganda) through our most popular forms of entertainment,” Tom Hayden explains in the LA Review of Books. “So natural has the CIA–entertainment connection become that few question its legal or moral ramifications. This is a government agency like no other; the truth of its operations is not subject to public examination. When the CIA’s hidden persuaders influence a Hollywood movie, it is using a popular medium to spin as favorable an image of itself as possible, or at least, prevent an unfavorable one from taking hold.” Tom Hayden, “Review of The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television by Tricia Jenkins,” LA Review of Books, February 24, 2013,
Former CIA case officer Robert David Steele states that CIA manipulation of news media is “worse” in the 2010s than in the late 1970s when Bernstein wrote “The CIA and the Media.” “The sad thing is that the CIA is very able to manipulate [the media] and it has financial arrangements with media, with Congress, with all others. But the other half of that coin is that the media is lazy.” James Tracy interview with Robert David Steele, August 2, 2014,
A well-known fact is that broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper interned for the CIA while attending Yale as an undergraduate in the late 1980s. According to Wikipedia Cooper’s great uncle, William Henry Vanderbilt III, was an Executive Officer of the Special Operations Branch of the OSS under the spy organization’s founder William “Wild Bill” Donovan. While Wikipedia is an often dubious source, Vanderbilt’s OSS involvement would be in keeping with the OSS/CIA reputation of taking on highly affluent personnel for overseas derring-do. William Henry Vanderbilt III, Wikipedia.
Veteran German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, author of the 2014 book Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) revealed how under the threat of job termination he was routinely compelled to publish articles written by intelligence agents using his byline. “I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the German secret service,” Ulfkotte explained in a recent interview with Russia Today. “German Journo: European Media Writing Pro-US Stories Under CIA Pressure,” RT, October 18, 2014.
In 1999 the CIA established In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm seeking to “identify and invest in companies developing cutting-edge information technologies that serve United States national security interests.” The firm has exercised financial relationships with internet platforms Americans use on a routine basis, including Google and Facebook. “If you want to keep up with Silicon Valley, you need to become part of Silicon Valley,” says Jim Rickards, an adviser to the U.S. intelligence community familiar with In-Q-Tel’s activities. “The best way to do that is have a budget because when you have a checkbook, everyone comes to you.” At one point IQT “catered largely to the needs of the CIA.” Today, however, “the firm supports many of the 17 agencies within the U.S. intelligence community, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.” Matt Egan, “In-Q-Tel: A Glimpse Inside the CIA’s Venture Capital Arm,” FoxBusiness.com, June 14, 2013.
At a 2012 conference held by In-Q-Tel CIA Director David Patraeus declared that the rapidly-developing “internet of things” and “smart home” will provide the CIA with the ability to spy on any US citizen should they become a “person of interest’ to the spy community,” Wired magazine reports. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,’ Patraeus enthused, ‘particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft’ … ‘Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Patraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.” Spencer Ackerman, “CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher,” Wired, March 15, 2012.
In the summer of 2014 a $600 million computing cloud developed by Amazon Web Services for the CIA began servicing all 17 federal agencies comprising the intelligence community. “If the technology plays out as officials envision,” The Atlantic reports, “it will usher in a new era of cooperation and coordination, allowing agencies to share information and services much more easily and avoid the kind of intelligence gaps that preceded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” “The Details About the CIA’s Deal With Amazon,” The Atlantic, July 17, 2014.
We followed all of this up this week by noting that thanks to the new FX regime (which, in theory anyway, should have required less intervention), China has likely sold somewhere on the order of $100 billion in US Treasurys in the past two weeks alone in open FX ops to steady the yuan. Put simply, as part of China’s devaluation and subsequent attempts to contain said devaluation, China has been purging an epic amount of Treasurys.
But even as the cat was out of the bag for Zero Hedge readers and even as, to mix colorful escape metaphors, the genie has been out of the bottle since mid-August for China which, thanks to a steadfast refusal to just float the yuan and be done with it, will have to continue selling USTs by the hundreds of billions, the world at large was slow to wake up to what China’s FX interventions actually implied until Wednesday when two things happened: i) Bloomberg, citing fixed income desks in New York, noted “substantial selling pressure” in long-term USTs emanating from somebody in the “Far East”, and ii) Bill Gross asked, in a tweet, if China was selling Treasurys.
Sure enough, on Thursday we got confirmation of what we’ve been detailing exhaustively for months. Here’s Bloomberg:
China has cut its holdings of U.S. Treasuries this month to raise dollars needed to support the yuan in the wake of a shock devaluation two weeks ago, according to people familiar with the matter.
Channels for such transactions include China selling directly, as well as through agents in Belgium and Switzerland, said one of the people, who declined to be identified as the information isn’t public. China has communicated with U.S. authorities about the sales, said another person. They didn’t reveal the size of the disposals.
The latest available Treasury data and estimates by strategists suggest that China controls $1.48 trillion of U.S. government debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That includes about $200 billion held through Belgium, which Nomura Holdings Inc. says is home to Chinese custodial accounts.
The PBOC has sold at least $106 billion of reserve assets in the last two weeks, including Treasuries, according to an estimate from Societe Generale SA. The figure was based on the bank’s calculation of how much liquidity will be added to China’s financial system through Tuesday’s reduction of interest rates and lenders’ reserve-requirement ratios. The assumption is that the central bank aims to replenish the funds it drained when it bought yuan to stabilize the currency.
Now that what has been glaringly obvious for at least six months has been given the official mainstream stamp of fact-based approval, the all-clear has been given for rampant speculation on what exactly this means for US monetary policy. Here’s Bloomberg again:
China selling Treasuries is “not a surprise, but possibly something which people haven’t fully priced in,” said Owen Callan, a Dublin-based fixed-income strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald LP. “It would change the outlook on Treasuries quite a bit if you started to price in a fairly large liquidation of their reserves over the next six months or so as they manage the yuan to whatever level they have in mind.”
“By selling Treasuries to defend the renminbi, they’re preventing Treasury yields from going lower despite the fact that we’ve seen a sharp drop in the stock market,” David Woo, head of global rates and currencies research at Bank of America Corp., said on Bloomberg Television on Wednesday. “China has a direct impact on global markets through U.S. rates.”
As we discussed on Wednesday evening, we do, thanks to a review of the extant academic literature undertaken by Citi, have an idea of what foreign FX reserve liquidation means for USTs. “Suppose EM and developing countries, which hold $5491 bn in reserves, reduce holdings by 10% over one year – this amounts to 3.07% of US GDP and means 10yr Treasury yields rates rise by a mammoth 108bp ,” Citi said, in a note dated earlier this week.
In other words, for every $500 billion in liquidated Chinese FX reserves, there’s an attendant 108bps worth of upward pressure on the 10Y. Bear in mind here that thanks to the threat of a looming Fed rate hike and a litany of other factors including plunging commodity prices and idiosyncratic political risks, EM currencies are in free fall which means that it’s not just China that’s in the process of liquidating USD assets.
The clear takeaway is that there’s a substantial amount of upward pressure building for UST yields and that is a decisively undesirable situation for the Fed to find itself in going into September. On Wednesday we summed the situation up as follows: “one of the catalysts for the EM outflows is the looming Fed hike which, when taken together with the above, means that if the FOMC raises rates, they will almost surely accelerate the pressure on EM, triggering further FX reserve drawdowns (i.e. UST dumping), resulting in substantial upward pressure on yields and prompting an immediate policy reversal and perhaps even QE4.”
Well now that China’s UST liquidation frenzy has reached a pace where it could no longer be swept under the rug and/or played down as inconsequential, and now that Bill Dudley has officially opened the door for “additional quantitative easing”, it would appear that the only way to prevent China and EM UST liquidation from, as Citi puts it, “choking off the US housing market,” and exerting a kind of forced tightening via the UST transmission channel, will be for the FOMC to usher in QE4.
Approximately 4,500 people, many civilians, have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led coalition began bombing 150 days ago, according to the UN. 23,000 more have been wounded. [GR Editor's note, the UN figures presented in this article tend to underestimate the number of civilian casualties]
An average of 30 people have been killed in Yemen every single day since the beginning of the war on March 26, which pits a US-backed coalition of Middle Eastern nations and forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi against Iran-backed Houthi rebels and fighters loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
UNICEF estimates nearly 400 children have been killed and over 600 injured in the past four months in the country, the poorest in the Middle East.
13 Yemeni teaching staff and four children were killed by a Saudi air strike on August 20. Two days before, coalition bombing in the Amran province took the lives of 17 civilians, injuring 20 more. UNICEF condemned what it called the “senseless bloodshed.”
A Red Cross spokeswoman said the violence in Ta’iz, in southern Yemen, in just one day on August 21 left 80 people dead.
The Houthis and al-Qaeda are sworn enemies. Al-Qaeda seeks to capitalize on the chaos in which the country is embroiled. In the midst of the bedlam, however, ISIS has also attempted to extend its influence influence in the region. Further adding to the messy entanglement of alliances, ISIS has fought not just the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition, but also al-Qaeda.
Almost half a year into the conflict, violence appears to be escalating, not diminishing.
In July, I reported that, according to UN figures, 3,000 people had been killed in Yemen in the first 100 days of Saudi-led bombing, half of whom were civilians.
Just 20 days later, that figure had risen to at least 3,600 dead, with over 17,300 wounded.
I detailed the accusations of war crimes and the enormous hardship which millions of Yemenis must endure in July:
Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. Before the war broke out, over half of the population lived on less than $2 USD a day and had no access to clean water, according to the World Food Program. 41% of the population was food-insecure, and child malnutrition rates were among the highest in the world. Unemployment rates exceeded 40%, over 60% among the youth.
90% of Yemen’s food is imported, yet Saudi Arabia’s stringent air, water, and land blockade, in the name of preventing weapons from entering the war-torn country, has prevented not just food, but also fuel, medicine, and urgently needed aid from getting to the millions in need.
Even journalists have been denied entry by Saudi forces. The Nation foreign correspondent Matthieu Aikins explained he had to smuggle his crew in by boat from neighboring Djibouti.
In the meantime, extremist groups, namely al-Qaeda, have flourished in these dire conditions.
The coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, consists of monarchies Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, and Morocco, along with Egypt and Sudan.
The US and other Western nations have provided Saudi Arabia with weapons, in spite of knowledge that the arms are being used to commit what human rights organizations and the UN have classified as potential war crimes.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said the Saudi-led coalition has engaged in unlawful targeting of civilian areas. Coalition air strikes have rained down on hospitals, schools, neighborhoods, and more.
Amnesty International has accused the coalition of knowingly violating international humanitarian law in its bombing campaign. And there “is no indication that the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition has done anything to prevent and redress such violations,” remarked Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor Donatella Rovera.
The US is complicit in these potential war crimes, HRW maintains. The UN and human rights organizations have called on Western nations to cease their support for the military assault, which has pushed Yemen to the edge of catastrophe.
August 28th, 2015 by The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq
Today, Iraq stands at a turning point in its contemporary history. It has been experiencing a grave situation which demands now the full awareness on current affairs, their consequences and implications and their critical impact on the present, near and distant future of Iraq and Iraqis.
Upon its legitimate responsibilities, its influence in the national effort exerted in the past few years of Iraq’s time under occupation, the significant confidence it enjoys by many Iraqis and in response to appeals received occasionally, AMSI has during the last three months communicated with the diverse powers that stand against the current political situation in Iraq and the foreign dominance. This communication meant to discuss the circumstances of the current stage and its requirements and comes within the serious and active pursuit to firmly establish the basis for concordance, for the purpose of making change in Iraq. This is in order to end the misery of its people, save the country from its tragic situation and put it back on its normal course.
AMSI has tried in the past years until 2009 to culminate its efforts by holding a conference with the aim to come out with a large-scale front. Such was a perception under which all the keen Iraqi groups could join to form the launching stage of this significant scheme. AMSI has made several requests to a number of Arab states to host this conference, and has approached the Arab League more than once for persuasion, but all its attempts were to no avail.
Although we realise how difficult it has been to establish a wide-scale national Iraqi front under those hard and gloomy circumstances experienced in Iraq in the past years and under our current circumstances – with this being the result of several thematic factors that lie beyond our control and of the realities that obstruct such an establishment; and as every act of such nature entails several requisites in order to succeed, with the foremost being the availability of suitable international and regional circumstances, it is within the belief of the AMSI that there is an opportunity today that may bring this effort back, one way or another. It also sees a potential to benefit from the current situation in the Arab and international arenas and a chance to avail itself of the opportunity of hopelessness facing the Iraqi people – combined with the current political regime’s catastrophic failure in achieving the minimum level of security, stability and welfare and in securing the necessary needs for living.
One: Having suffered for long the predominance of successive governments and their oppressive apparatus that confiscated the people’s right to demand their rights and their right to protest against the corrupt and unjust policies, the Iraqi people had to peacefully revolt against their government on 25/2/2011 in 16 out of 18 Iraqi governorates, condemning the policy of killing, arrest and corruption that infiltrated throughout the state’s entire institutions.
That was a revolution made by the Iraqi people with all their components, who were subject to grave oppression for almost a decade, under well-known types of suppression that included: excessive acts of killing, arrests, torture and rape; cleansing, exclusion, marginalisation; financial and administrative corruption; systematic and predetermined humiliation; theft of public money and the absence of services, with known and horrific statistics and figures being the tip of the iceberg.
A second round of national protests surged through demonstrations and strikes starting on 23/12/2012, also suppressed with fire and arms. Hundreds of peaceful protesters fell in strike squares including those injured and dead, forcing people to seek self-defence in an armed confrontation that shifted the protests from their course and circumvented their ends.
Today, we are witnessing the signs of a third round of national revolt which started in our southern governorates moving up to the capital city, Baghdad. This comes after a state of bankruptcy that emerged, of which the concerned parties have earlier warned, as the result of rampant corruption. It had its consequences affecting what is left of the exhausted country that has been inflicted with thefts and money laundering and where people’s fate and future was controlled by war lords. This can only show that our great nation has become bored with these situations and is no longer capable of taking that burden, looking today for salvation.
Two: The Iraqi people have been forced into a war with which they have nothing to do. Their children have shed dear blood. Their strength is waning in its flames day after day. Nobody knows why this war ever broke out or who is benefiting from it or where it is ending. [Nobody knows] why do Iraqi people send their children to die in a proxy conflict stirred by foreign international parties who wish Iraq and its people no good. [Nobody knows] for whose interest are millions of people being displaced from their homes and towns, dispersed throughout the country between the deserts, or seeking shelter in other places that can only intensify their sufferance and that of their hosts. Following all this it was necessary for the wise men to do something to stop the bloodshed, eliminate division and separation factors, restore national unity of a nation that has never divided along its history and bring home every Iraq to live safe and secure in their homes.
Three: It is unquestionable that the current political regime in Baghdad does not represent all the Iraqi people. It is designed to serve the interests of certain parties and groups far from people’s interests and far from the constitution – a constitution which has led into this political system. It stands as the cornerstone behind the grave and successive failures of this regime and its political process. This cannot but manifest the fact that changing the foundation of this current political regime in Iraq – in any satisfying format capable of guaranteeing the sustenance of Iraq’s primary constituents and preserving its unity and free sovereignty – may all but lend a true opportunity to rebuild a new Iraq that is capable of closing the circles of conflict on its soil, provide a secure living for its people and prevent its use as a passageway to inflict harm on countries of the region and the world.
US soldiers in Iraq
Four: This is an experience that has lasted for over 13 years, during which all various aspects of the political process have failed. It has failed in its principles, figures and applications; in running the affairs of Iraq, in binging security and in preserving its powers. It has earned itself with merit the title given to it by the concerned international organisations as ‘the failed state’. Following this bitter experience it is impossible to persuade the world that those faces will achieve success this time should they be granted more international support. To retest the already tested is a futile attempt. Any patchwork solution that reinstates the rules of the current political game, as is, whilst keeping the same politicians who have committed such sins and errors in their posts will prove ineffective at all. As such, this would only push Iraq and the region into a deeper abyss while, instead, a search for a proper exit should begin to put things back on their normal course, set things right and root out corruption and [acts of] destruction.
Five: The outbreak of conflict between the components of Iraq’s political process itself, as a natural result of what was committed against Iraq and Iraqis, warns yet of further grave consequences with foreseen future for the people of Iraq that can only open for them more gates of hell. We have, time and again, alerted and warned about the consequences and risks of what has come now in the open for everyone to see, proving wrong all those who argued. This calls for [a swift action] to rectify the situation before it reaches a point of no return, and before we enter another dark tunnel that can succumb what is left of the country and the constituents of its people.
Six: All international attempts to alleviate the damage, mend the faults and reach conciliations have failed, including efforts made by the UN through its delegated SG special envoys, making no achievement that is worth-mentioning. This reached an extent where the international community was so greatly bewildered by the way to deal with the Iraqi question and its ongoing consequences. We appreciate that among the main reasons for this situation is that the competent Iraqi powers have been absent from the scene, while the country has been run by those incompetent.
Subject of Initiative:
Based on the aforementioned, it is within the perception held by the AMSI that the current stage is in dire need for a (certain) format of a joint Iraqi action based on clarity which allows for combining between joint views, orientations and thoughts for the purpose of finding effective and decisive solutions to the extent possible. Thereby, AMSI through this meeting, announces the launch of its initiative, for the purpose mentioned, under the title: “The Inclusive Iraq Scheme – The Proper Solution for Saving Iraq and the Region.”
The initiative consists of the following:
a. A call to hold extensive consultative meetings between the Iraqi powers that stand against the current political situation in Iraq, for the purpose of agreeing on and coordinating the principles and basics of the Inclusive Iraq Scheme and its activation.
b. A call to convene a series of extensive seminars between the competent members and elites of the civil society, its active groups, its opinion leaders and social fronts, to bring closer the different points of views and reach perceptions that are as convergent as possible.
c. A call on significant society groups, entities and titles to hold meetings, within their anticipated participation in any forthcoming collective Iraqi effort, and in support of and expansion of an Iraqi public opinion transforming into an active mass movement.
d. A call to hold a public conference on the establishment of an inclusive Iraqi framework, under one title that regulates the ideas and thoughts of the aforementioned Iraqi powers. This is to be reached through a joint action charter based on the foundations of unity, independence of the Iraqi decision, rejection of near and distant foreign dependency and the enhancement of civil peace. This should stop any attempts to singly influence some powers dragging them towards individual concessions or into traps set here and there. This comes in preparation for a proper solution that can prevent Iraq from falling prey to deadly vacuum.
Following the foregoing, it must be stated herein that the ultimate goal of all Iraqis is not only limited to stopping those corrupt, but goes also beyond that to build a genuine Iraqi scheme that sets a comprehensive vision for the future. This should guarantee the initiation of the free will of the Iraqi people to transform them from their current situation to another, where free and independent political activity can be exercised through free elections, under terms that guarantee their integrity and participation of all Iraqis. This is with aim to produce their real representatives in order to draft a constitution that can achieve the expectations of all the Iraqi people and to meet their aspirations. It is also to guarantee them a peaceful transfer of power away from favouritism, selfishness and exclusion, so that they can come out of the dark tunnel in which they live and reverse their unknown future.
As we adopt the aforementioned and rely on the strategy of rescue and change towards an Inclusive Iraq, we are aware that this is not such an easy task. We are also fully aware that Iraq’s current situation suffers from Iranian intervention, a growing influence and an undeclared occupation that is badly detrimental to its interests, which has confused the region and raised the concerns of its countries. This may also anticipate that any process to be worked out in order to reach a format of understanding among Iraqis and to establish a stable Iraqi state will be met with obstructions.
It is worth reminding the international community, and foremost the United States, that it is all but useless to insist on labelling the conflict in the Iraqi scene as being between the current two fighting parties, while ignoring that the real causes have emerged from the political process in Iraq, its miserable based-on constitution, the reliance on corrupt figures in running the country and the exclusion of national powers with all possible means. This has been a way that was tried for one full decade and has shown its failures with an increased bill of human and physical losses – a true reality that is beyond reason. This is a way that will lead into no result but rather keep the region in turmoil.
Countries of the world, especially regional ones, have a historic opportunity before them to become a fair and effective party, by persuading the international community and the sponsors of the political process to rectify the wrong course in Iraq – instead of insisting on it. [They have the chance to] adopt a new policy that makes its priority not to stand in the way of Iraqi powers that were previously ignored deliberately and excluded – which suggested to the world that they did not exist at a time when they were capable of saving their country, building it in the right way and achieving effective and lasting treatment after the situation had fallen deep into the abyss and hit the very bottom. In addition, the agreeing Iraqi, Arab, regional and international wills to find realistic and comprehensive solution beliefs are capable of ending Iraq’s serious problems. This can be done by putting our trust in God alone, by the sincere intentions and by making the serious action.
The emergence of such powers clearly visible within an Inclusive Iraqi framework can certainly make them a legitimate party that represents the Iraqi powers which had been forced into absence in any international effort towards resolving the Iraqi crisis.
The Inclusive Iraq Scheme that we call for is capable of terminating the conflict and its justifications in Iraq. It is capable of keeping at bay all powers and groups that do not wish for the situation in the region to calm down. This is possible by means of introducing real programs that provide equal opportunities for everyone, eliminate the chaos and enforce security. Laying the foundations for this promising scheme can achieve the following points:
1- Remove the concerns that some groups and diversities in the Iraqi society may have with regard to possible change consequences.
2- Expand the public participation in resisting foreign interference and influence detrimental to Iraq and its citizens, and to persuade them that an alternative to this is possible.
3- Attract opinion leaders, active and influential figures in the Iraqi society to take part in the real change.
4- Unite the efforts of Iraqi powers and expand the circle of participating powers in the change project, under an inclusive umbrella that bears responsibility for setting the course and distributing the tasks.
Initiative Specifics and its General Framework:
Finally, it is worth stressing that the aforementioned initiative details come within the framework of the following specifics and firm beliefs:
1. Full adherence to the independence of Iraq and its territorial integrity and the preservation of its identity. Its policies on development shall be based on the common interests of its citizens. The building of the modern state shall be in accordance with the necessary foundations, constitutionally, legally, economically, militarily, socially and culturally.
2. Commitment to the pluralistic approach and freedom of opinion, based on mechanisms that are consistent with and respect our values and traditions.
3. Exclusion of political revenge mechanisms and allowing for justice. This should be based on a consensual agreement between Iraqis in order for it to take its course in preserving the rights, the lives and dignities and to prevent the events that took place and currently taking place from happening again.
4. Being aware that our tragedy in Iraq is not a tragedy of a certain group, race, region, governorate or any particular place. It is the tragedy of the homeland and the nation. Giving instant attention to partial problems that arise here or there should not affect seeing the whole picture of this tragedy.
5. Rights are not given, but acquired by uninterrupted effective acts, arduous efforts and great sacrifices. Identity is the product of pride in position, mission and mandate. It is not a favour given by anyone nor the result of effect of an action event, effect and reaction, however this may be painful, harsh and long.
6. Inspiring the spirit of resistance, uprisings, protests and popular revolts is crucial and necessary in determining our path towards change and deliverance.
Finally, AMSI declares:
AMSI declares that its doors are open to all the Iraqi people of all components and groups for communicating. It provides all its efforts in order to achieve the objectives of this initiative, to guarantee that all effective work is put right on track again. This comes in taking its responsibilities, pledging to be an active part in any effort made and in being a productive, aiding, advising and mentoring element. Our main concern is to facilitate the ways and to give access to the wheel of action to run on its track by collective cooperation upon mutual cooperation format. We firmly believe that point of strength in the Inclusive Iraq Scheme comes from the united word of its parties, their cooperation and concord.
The dawn of a new era in US/Iranian relations didn’t arrive on July 14 in Vienna – with consummation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOC). Far from it. Washington’s deal-making history is deplorable – consistently breaching agreements.
On Friday, Obama’s Treasury sanctions czar, Adam Szubin, arrived in Israel – to reassure its regime of continued US hardline anti-Iranian policy, ready to impose new “severe financial penalties for its (nonexistent) sponsorship of terrorism and support of military proxies,” according to The New York Times.
He’ll reassure Israeli officials about Washington’s “continued efforts to target Iran’s (nonexistent) malign activities” – intending “intensif(ied) sanctions (to) ensur(e) they bite even deeper,” he explained.
Washington agreeing in Vienna to remove Iranian sanctions was a Big Fat Lie. In return for ending some (on Iran’s nuclear program), new ones apparently will be imposed offsetting them, the usual US dirty game, pledging one thing, doing another with disturbing regularity.
The Times quoted Szubin saying “(w)e plan to enforce (sanctions) with all the toughness that people have come to expect from the US Treasury.”
On Friday, Obama will address the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (the nation’s leading Zionist groups, AIPAC its best known member) by webcast.
He’ll sell the benefits of the nuclear deal he already plans to breach – to please Israel and its Zionist Lobby.
On September 3, Vice President Biden will meet with US Jewish leaders (including major Democrat party fundraisers) in Florida – selling the nuclear deal. He’ll host a Labor Day Washington Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year) event.
On Wednesday, nearly 200 retired US generals and admirals wrote Congress – urging lawmakers reject the Iran nuclear deal, on the phony claim of threatening national security.
The letter is the latest AIPAC effort to undermine a chance for preventing greater Middle East war. It’s similar to one sent last week by three dozen other retired senior US military officers – repeating the long ago discredited claim about facilitating Tehran’s path to the bomb, along with other familiar canards.
Obama appears to have enough support to prevent a two-thirds majority overriding his veto when Congress is expected to reject the Iran nuclear deal in September.
With Treasury’s Szubin explaining tough anti-Iranian sanctions remain official US policy, the JCPOC may not be worth the paper it’s written on – unless other P5+1 countries go their own way, breaking with US policy, not likely except for Russia and China.
The U.S.-backed Ukrainian Armed Forces, on Wednesday August 26th, resumed their all-out war against the breakaway Donbass region, according to an announcement on August 27th by the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Deputy Commander, Eduard Basurin. Donetsk is the largest city in Donbass — the region that broke away from Ukraine after the February 2014 U.S. coup in Kiev, which threw out the democratically elected Ukrainian President, for whom the residents of Donbass had voted over 90%. If this apparent re-invasion of Donbass by U.S.-backed forces is true, it would flagrantly violate the Minsk II Agreementthat Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Francois Hollande had achieved, and that the warring parties had signed, six months ago, on February 11th.
The situation in the DPR has drastically deteriorated. … From 5 P.M. [August 26th], punitive forces [that’s to say, forces aiming to ‘punish’ Donbass for rejecting Obama’s coup in Ukraine] began massively shelling positions of the DPR army and the civilian areas of Belaya Kamenka, Novolaspa, Staroslava, and Staroignatovka.
The fascists have used heavy artillery prohibited by the Minsk Agreements against the civilian areas of Aleksandrovka and Marinka. The outskirts of Donetsk have been struck.
The shelling has been carried out from the positions of the 72nd mechanized brigade under the command of the criminal Grishchenko, as well as the 19th infantry battalion. The enemy is using ACS howitzers of 152 and 122 mm, mortars of 120 and 80 mm, and tanks.
Basurin said that “According to our estimate, the enemy is trying to provoke a response by our troops and with such activity convince the army command of the DPR to prepare for an offensive in this direction of the UAF,” so that DPR’s strategy of — as much as possible — not initiating fire, but only responding to it, will be broken. That would then provide the U.S. side the opportunity to charge the DPR side with violating Minsk II.
Basurin went on to say:
the criminal fascist regime is purposefully trying to disrupt the Minsk Agreement. The bloodthirsty Kiev puppets are out to disrupt the establishment of peaceful life in the Republic, thereby showing the whole world their inability to conduct civilized negotiations. The paranoiacs in power are leading Ukraine into the abyss!
The President of Ukraine seeks to resume hostilities and lead a new escalation of tensions in Eastern Europe, and therefore, we appeal to the people and officers of Ukraine: sabotage the criminal orders of the UAF command, show acts of defiance, and demonstrate an absence of support for the aggressive plans of Poroshenko.
Basurin is urging the U.S.-backed forces to violate their instructions, which would be an extremely dangerous thing for those troops to do. However, a significant number of Ukrainian soldiers have, in fact, defected to the ‘rebels.’
As I reported earlier, a conflict within the Obama Administration broke out on May 15th, when Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State whom Obama had placed in charge of policy on Ukraine (and who had masterminded the coup and selected the post-coup government), contradicted her nominal superior, Secretary of State John Kerry, and said that, despite Kerry’s warning to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko not to violate Minsk II, Poroshenko would have America’s full backing if he were to follow through on his repeated threats to re-invade Donbass, regardless of what had been agreed to, and signed, at Minsk.
From that time to this, the Obama Administration has been ambiguous about its intentions on the matter, but Mr. Kerry has never reiterated his warning to Poroshenko; while Ms. Nuland has continued to maintain that the U.S. will support the Ukrainian side no matter what; and so, Donbass has been on constant alert, expecting Poroshenko to resume the invasion at any time.
Perhaps the decision has finally now been made in the White House to resume the war at full force. The next few days could make clear whether that is the case, or whether, instead, this is just yet another of the many relatively minor violations of Minsk, which both sides have engaged in during the past six months.
Sharks have inhabited this planet for more than 400 million years, and have survived five mass extinctions. Earth is now entering its sixth – this time caused by humans – and sharks are at the pointy end, with 90% of the species already considered threatened.
It is not just an issue on NSW’s surf breaks. Humanity’s growing demand for protein has put substantial pressure on oceanic systems, and industrial fishing techniques have have reduced predatory fish populations to less than 10% of their historic numbers. Sharks are especially vulnerable because of their low reproductive rates, slow growth and delayed rates of maturity.
What’s more, sharks play a pivotal role within the ecosystems they inhabit. As apex predators, they maintain community structure and biodiversity by regulating predator and prey abundance. Even light fishing pressure such as species-target line fisheries can cause dramatic declines in populations of large coastal sharks. Meanwhile, indirect fishing via shark meshing programs can catch a range of targeted and non-targeted species of sharks.
What would a cull do to sharks and ecosystems?
Shark culling is best thought of as an indiscriminate method of removing sharks from our coastal ecosystems. The WA and Queensland culls have led to the capture and death of many non-targeted sharks. We also know that many shark species do not cope with capture well – a recent Australian study found that 100% of hammerheads caught by line fishing will die of stress within an hour of capture.
Similarly, spinner and dusky sharks have very low survival rates within the first few hours of being hooked, and sharks that are hooked and subsequently released do not necessarily survive.
Hooking in the gut is very common. New South Wales’ flagship threatened aquatic species, the greynurse shark, will most probably die over time if hooked in the gut and then released. Stainless steel hooks do not rust out but become encapsulated in the tissue over time, causing starvation, wasting of the body (known as cachexia), and eventual death.
If we remove sharks as top predators from the ecosystem, the effects will filter down to animals lower down the food chain and cause unexpected changes to ecosystems. We are already seeing such changes in areas where sharks are overfished.
Declines in the number of blacktip sharks in North Carolina in the late 1970s and 1980s caused an increase in the relative abundance of cownose rays and a corresponding decrease in scallops over the ensuing decades. Healthy aquatic ecosystems are typified by a complexity of players in the food chain, and removing such macropredators will result in decreasing ecosystem resilience.
What can we do instead of culling?
Indiscriminately culling sharks is dangerous to marine ecosystems, not to mention expensive and futile. We would be far better off allocating resources to achieving a greater understanding of the ecology and behaviour of these large predators. We can increase knowledge of why and where sharks are likely to attack humans by tagging sharks and following their movements over time, or through genetic studies that can assess effective population sizes.
Current aerial surveys are unlikely to be a successful strategy, however. Scientific analysis has already discredited aerial programs in NSW. Aerial surveys have only a 12.5% success rate in spotting a coastal shark from a fixed-wing aircraft, and a 17.1% success rate in helicopters. As surveys are only done for a few hours per week, and pass over a particular beach in minutes, these patrols can give the public a false sense of security.
Other non-invasive methods of mitigation are currently being developed, including the use of erratic walls of bubbles to deter sharks, and the development of wetsuits and surfboards that sharks are less likely to mistake as prey.
But ultimately, we also need to take personal responsibility, and reduce the likelihood of an attack by not swimming at dawn and dusk, not entering the water at the mouth of estuaries with poor visibility, or in areas of baitfish. After all, even sharks can make mistakes.
America is deemed the repository dreams, but it is also the supreme engine of nightmares. Fantasies of perfection just as often become realisations of bloody awareness.
Where grievances are resolved by bullets and briefs, the appearance of the former is bound to cause an avalanche of comment. Witness the killing of two individuals on WDBJ-TV on “live” television near Moneta: reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. The interviewee, executive director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce Vicki Gardner, was injured.
The gunman was Vester Flanagan II, a former employee who had been fired by the network. When working for the station, he would use the on-air name of Bryce Williams. His 23 page fax to the ABC outlined a range of disagreements, citing racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
“It is effectively an execution,” says the stunned CNN anchor. Live executions certainly have their power. The followers of ISIS understand it, and attempt to disseminate raw images in their totality. Editing is eschewed. Beheadings are released on the net like cruel bolts of realisation. The response then, is to limit circulation, cut the images and maybe bar them altogether. The war of images is not only to show them, but how not to show them.
In the US, the debate on broadcasting executions – albeit those inflicted by the state, rather than private citizens- is not new. In 2011, Zachary B. Shemtob and David Lat suggested in the New York Times that executions should be televised. Democracy demands transparency and accountability. “As long as executions remain behind closed doors, these are impossible.”
The dreadful irony of this was missed when discussion shifted to whether the late gun man would also, should he survive, face the death penalty. The news community noted that Virginia is in the “top five” in the executioner’s league. The debate proved to be academic in the end: Williams would die of his self-inflicted wounds.
This brings us to another feature of the news community. What these shootings demonstrated was a paternalistic censorship. People cannot see what actually happened. Reality is too grotesque, the great unpardonable, to be allowed in US media. Demons and targets of moral opprobrium are – the gunman was given a due serving on “live” television, and there was even a sense of remorse that he might survive his own self-inflicted wounds to make a trial.
The Hollywood cleansing is needed, a cloth that does the cleaning rounds on the wickedness that is reality. Only those in the media channels can view it – repeatedly, there is this homely southern decency that some things ought not to be done.
Bryce Williams was one of the few to witness his handiwork. He was witnessing the live shot, both the bullets that were being fired, and the actual interview. He was killing, literally, live. In its purest vulgarity, it was a statement of anti-editing, a direct lethal statement.
In a perverse sense, he was moving beyond the fanciful hypocrisies of the news establishment, the self-censorship mechanism that governs the release of news to the general public. The very notion of doing things “live” in news is often far from the truth. Much is contrived. Much is delayed. Subjects are interviewed in offices that are not theirs, doing work that is staged for the camera shot. There is, in other words, very little live about a medium that tends to simulate a form of death. The life, in short, has left the screen. It is delayed, even suspended.
Central to the deception is the idea that exactitude and accuracy count, and that these are supposedly conveyed to the public. “We will read the tweets out to you. Exactly as they were said.” This is the CNN anchor line in the wake of the shootings, and of course, such accuracy should immediately get one thinking: reality is only tolerable through the sorting medium of the televised medium.
Not even Facebook continued to air the video. Links were deleted. The most live of feeds had gone into the mode of censure and suspension. Viral videos showing koalas scurrying after vehicles in Australia are permissible; the spectacle of a former colleague shooting those he has a beef with is not.
Naturally, the sentimental complex immediately took hold. There were toothy grins, and depictions of happy humans, the best pictures, the most enthusiastic vignettes of Parker and Ward. Ad hoc memorials were being organised.
Then, as with every murder event that makes the US news circuit, the shrink commentariat had to make a show. What was the mental furniture looking like for the shooter? The assailant had “anger management issues”; there were issues of disturbance. From without, the ventriloquists were taking over. The medication route was suggested by such individuals as psychiatrist as Janet Taylor.
The news providers had become the news. This was a supreme indication about the anchors becoming the centre of the world. The bullets gave them a bloody centre stage. We are unlikely to hear the last of this, not because it was a tragedy (yes it was) but because it typified the assumptions of the media establishment. Williams, if he appreciated nothing else, understood the power of death on “live” television.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
For someone trained to interpret the law logically and based on principles of reason, it is puzzling that the conservative majority of the Supreme Court reached the decision in 2008 that “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia,”
And we are compelled to agree with the dissenting opinion of Justice John Paul Stevens that the majority opinion constituted “a strained and unpersuasive reading” of the Second Amendment.
The two parts of the Second Amendment are not independent assertions brought together by accident in the same sentence. The prefatory part of the Second Amendment __ “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,__” clearly forms the context and theframeworkwithin which the secondpart is to be understood.
A well-regulated militia at the time of the enactment of the Second Amendment obviously meant a citizen-based defense force to protect the newly-independent United States from the threat of invasion by the British colonial forces.
In the context of nearly two-and a half centuries of change and since the United States “no longer useshorses and bayonets” to defend its national sovereignty (to borrow a famous phrase), it also does not use the “arms” kept by civilians to defend itself.
So to read the Second Amendment in its modern context, only the U.S. military and the National Guard and those whose duties expose them to danger, such as police officers and border guards, must have the right to bear arms, when on duty. Some provisions, however, can be made for bona fide farmers and ranchers enabling them to own registered, medium-caliber shotguns.
Handing in the Weapons held by US citizens
Of course with some 300 million guns purportedly in the hands of U.S. citizens, there is no suggestion here of removing these arms without fair and equitable compensation. Clearly the vast majority of citizens possessing the arms have purchased them lawfully. They could be required to hand them in to appropriate authorities within a reasonable time (for example, six to twelve months) and receive from a central assessing authority a certificate of value based on the full current market value of the arms thus handed in. In order not to create a complicated bureaucracy, these “certificates of value” can then be filed along with income tax returns, and the full value of each certificate deducted from the certificate holder’s taxes. Given the enormous cost of such compensation, these tax deductions can be spread over a three- or five-year period. For those whose low income does not require them to pay any taxes, a cheque for the full value of the arms handed in could be mailed to the owners.
The NRA’s argument that weapons in the hands of “good guys” assure security is both disingenuous and misinformed. Human personality is not carved in stone and the “good guys” do not always remain “good.” Some perfectly law-abiding citizens do break down under pressures of life and do commit desperate acts. Much of the “crimes of passion” committed during domestic disputes are usually committed by “good guys” who have faltered under stress.
Clearly it is the easy availability of guns that is the cause of the firearms-related tragedies we have been observing throughout the United States__ the horrific mass murder of a whole cohort of the very young children in Newtown, Connecticut and the latest murder of two young journalists in Virginia, though surpassing all previous tragedies, are only the continuation of the same pattern of violence.
Alan Danesh is a political scientist trained in law. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
The World’s attention has been drawn to the very North for several years now, as the Arctic reveals its potential filled with energy and mineral resources. A rush for the new Klondike has begun since the second half of the twentieth century, mainly in the vast northern Russia; but also in Yukon and Alaska. Oil fields are popping up at an astounding rate as new assessments of potential reserves of oil and gas flow pushed by the promess of large profits with the barrel valued at more than $ 100.00,
Another factor favoring this craze towards the Arctic is the ice cap melting faster than expected which creates a free marine passage between Europe and Asia.
If companies are about to hit a great deal, we must fear the impact of Arctic natural resources exploitation on wildlife habitats, which are already undermined by the effect of climatic changes. In this context, our attention turns toward the polar bear, the emblem of the Arctic, because it will have to adapt to major changes in its habitat. Recall that the Arctic name comes from the ancient Greek ἄρκτος (Arktos) meaning bear in reference to the constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, both located near the north celestial pole.
We propose here to give an overview of polar bears actual situation (Ursus maritimus) throughout the circumpolar world. We will present the phenomenon of melting ice which is considered as the main threat to bear’s habitat and we will outline the main elements of the the species management plan, coordinated and implemented as a cooperative effort between the Arctic states of Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States and Denmark.
I. The Arctic
An immense territory, cold and arid (Figure 1)
The Arctic is a vast area covering about 18 million square kilometers, representing an even greater surface than the russian territory of 17,098,242 square kilometers. Caracterized by long, cold winters contrasting with short, cool summers; this area receive few solar radiation due to its inclination toward the tropics (where the sun is directly overhead). During the theoretically six month lasting winter, the sun is completely absent. The temperatures are usually below – 10 ° C, but they approach 0 ° C at the North Pole in July and August.
“The cold winter temperatures (monthly averages below – 10 ° C to – 20 ° C) greatly influence the biodiversity within the Arctic. The region is caracterized by the presence of a persistent frozen ground (permafrost) to a great depth, even under the seabed. The long lasting snow cover duration and the prevalence of ice (marsh, lake, river and coastal) prevent the circulation of surface water for a period of almost 200 days a year. The ice sheets persistence (Greenland) and the island caps (Spitzberg, Baffin Island, etc.) whose emissaries give birth to small icebergs. ”
“Because the Arctic heart is the seat of an anticyclone, the region displays a certain aridity featuring frosty deserts. The region’s precipitation average is of 250 mm annually, mostly in the form of snow. However, Atlantic disturbances affect the climat all year long bringing winds, fog and snow. The presence of the Greenland ice sheet and the large volume of sea ice help maintaining cool temperatures throughout the year, although the coastal fringes are somehow warmer during the short summers. ”
“Minimum temperatures up to – 70 ° C were recorded in Greenland and Verkhoyansk, Siberia. Although the arctic winds are less common and weaker than the ones found in South Pole, Arctic coastal areas can still be severely swept by storms. ”
“The polar night lasts about five months, after which arises a one month period of days and nights alternance. At first, the days are very short, and then they gradually lengthen to last 24 hours reaching what we call the polar day, which lasts about five months ” (http://www.larousse.fr/encyclopedie/autre -region / Arctic / 106015).
The name “Arctic” also refers to the Inuit people, whose are present from Greenland to Eastern Siberia, through northern Canada and Alaska, including the Yupik nation of Alaska and Siberia and the Sami nation of northern Scandinavia and northwest of Russia. There are about 20 others nations living in the Arctic Siberian Russia. Among them, we find the Yakuts one hand, and the so-called “Small Northern peoples” on the other Aleuts, the Dolgans the Evens, the Evenks, the Ket people, the Khanty, the Koryak, the Mansi, the Nenets, the Nganasans the Selkup people, the Chukchi, the Youkaghirs etc …)
“The Arctic is occupied by man since a very long time, for instance the Inuit nation from Mongolian is one famous civilization that first colonized the territory. They envaded the Arctic from Asia about 10 000 years ago most likely to ensure their subsistence based on fishing and big mammals hunting such as seals, walruses, whales and caribou. Nowadays, farming, hunting and fishing have undergone profound changes but traditional practices still carry on in few remote areas. ”
“The Lapps, people of Finno-Ugric origin, are present in the north of Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as in north-west Russia (these territories constituting the Lapland). Mainly land reindeer hunters and fishermen along the coast, the Lapps have developed in recent years sedentary activities, such as reindeer husbandry. “
Arctic nations are grouped around six organizations for the defence of their rights and their political and economic interests. We have the Saami Council – SC, the Aleut International Association – AIA, the Arctic Athabaskan Council – AAC, the Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Gwich’in Council International – GCI (http://www.underthepole.com/milieu-polaire/les-peuples-de-larctique/).
Figure 3. Political Organizations of Arctic peoples
The Arctic biodiversity is very rich. It reaches its greatest development in polynyas (Figure 4). These areas play an important role in the ecology of the Arctic Ocean. They offer open water to marine mammals, such as penguins and polar bears that do not migrate during winter. Plankton wealth – that can develop when the Sun appears – brought by polynyas, initiates the Arctic food chain, allowing wildlife to thrive
These marine ecosystems are among the most productive in the world. Many species of invertebrates, fish, birds and marine mammals are found in these sites considered the most important biological hotspots in the Arctic. For example, the entire world population of spectacled eider, a large sea duck, overwinters in the sea ice south of St. Lawrence Island in the eastern Bering Sea. Large recurring polynyas provide the conditions for a wide range of birds during winter as well as for ice species such as seals and whales
The polar bear, also called the Lord, is the emblem of the Arctic. It is the largest urside of the planet and most likely the deadliest Arctic predator. Powerful symbol of strength and resistance, this tireless hunter sees its survival threatened by global warming. Its critical habitat depends upon the presence of delicate sea ice on which the very foundation of the entire Arctic ecosystem is balanced. This sea ice is now literally melting between the polar bears’ legs. Its scientific name Ursus maritimus means “sea-bear” a great fitting name for an animal who spent most of its lifetime in the freezing water (http: //www.wwf.ca/fr/conservation/arctique/faune_arctique/ours_polaire/).
Figure 5. On the Hudson Bay during a hunting trip north of Sanikiluaq (ᓴᓂᑭᓗᐊᖅ) on the north shore of Flaherty Island Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay in the Qikiqtaaluk region of Nunavut Canada. It is the southernmost community of the territory. Photo taken in February 2015.
Source: Piita Kattuk, member of the Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board.
Figure 6. Akpatok Island, Ungava Bay. Nunavut. Hunting polar bear destination for Nunavik Inuit
The population of the polar bear and its spatial distribution
According to data harvested in the circumpolar Management Plan – Draft – 2014 the population of polar bears has been estimated at 20 000 to 25 000 individuals. Canada displays the largest coastline inhabited by polar bears, followed by Russia, Greenland, the United States and Norway (see Figure 7 and Table 1). This large area of over 22 million square kilometers is mainly composed of Canadian Arctic archipelago, recognized for its large biological productivity, which most certainly justifiies the preference of polar bears for the region. Their number in the area is estimated at 16,413 individuals, where more than the two third of the total population is found in 13 of the 19 Arctic subpopulations (Management Plan – Draft – 2014).
Polar bears’ most active denning area is found on Akimiski Island in James Bay, Canada. Despite a confirmed presence in High Arctic around Ellesmere Island and northern Greenland, polar bears are more active in southern areas. This geographic repartition could be explained by better ice conditions in southern areas and the lack of food in deep waters.”(Draft Management Plan -. 2014).
Figure 7. Limits Range in polar bear populations since June 2014
Source : Circumpolar Action Plan Draft Volume I – Conservation Strategy for the Polar Bear – August 2014
Table 1: Data of PBSG on subpopulations of polar bears throughout the Arctic – 2014
Arctic Basin (AB): Unknown Population; area of the management unit: 4,233,530 km2 Territory: Circumpolar Region.
Baffin Bay (BB): Estimated enrollment of 1,546 individuals in 2004 on an area of 1,078,840 km2 – Territories: Canada (Nunavut) and Greenland.
Barents Sea (BS): Estimated enrollment of 2,644 individuals in 2004 on an area of 1,691,458 km2 – Territories: Norway and Russia.
Sea Tchoukthes (CS): Estimated enrollment of 2,000 individuals in 1993 on an area covering an area of 1,836,922 km2 – Territories: Russia and the United States.
Davis Strait (DS): Estimated enrollment of 2,158 individuals in 2007 on a space with an area of 2,620,106 km2 – Territories: Canada (Nunavut, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador) and Greenland.
East Greenland (EG): unknown Employees – Area: 2,054,115 km2 – Territory: Greenland
Foxe Basin (FB): 2,580 people in 2010 over an area of 1,181,019 km2 – Territory: Canada (Nunavut, Quebec)
Gulf of Boothia (GB): Estimated population of 1,592 individuals in 2000 on an area of 171,136 km2 – Territory: Canada (Nunavut)
Kane Basin (KB): Estimated enrollment of 164 individuals in 1997 on an area of 166,514 km2 – Territories: Canada (Nunavut) and Greenland.
Kara Sea (KS): Unknown Numbers – area of 1,763,680 km2 – Territory: Russia.
Lancaster Sound (LS): Estimated enrollment of 2,541 individuals in 1998 on an area of 487,532 km2 – Territory: Canada (Nunavut).
Laptev Sea (LP): From 800 to 1200 individuals in 1993 over an area of 2,459,282 km2 – Territory: Russia.
M’Clintock Channel (TM): Estimated population of 284 individuals in 2000 on an area of 495,256 km2 – Territory: Canada (Nunavut)
Northern Beaufort Sea (NB): Estimated enrollment of 2,191 individuals in 2014 over an area of 944,667 km2 – Territory: Canada (Nunavut, Northwest Territories)
Norwegian Bay (NW): Estimated enrollment of 203 individuals in 1997 on an area of 147,262 km2 – Territory: Canada (Nunavut)
Southern Beaufort Sea (SB): Estimated population of 1,215 individuals in 2014 over an area of 715,030 km2 – Territories: Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories) and the United States.
Southern Hudson Bay (SH): Estimated enrollment of 951 individuals in 2012 over an area of 1,135,249 km2 – Territory: Canada (Nunavut, Quebec, Ontario)
Detroit Viscount Melville (VM): Estimated population of 161 individuals in 1992 on an area of 209,962 km2 – Territory: Canada (Nunavut)
Western Hudson Bay (WH): Estimated population of 1,030 individuals in 2011 on an area of 502,379 km2 – Territory: Canada (Manitoba, Nunavut)
Source: Action Plan – Conservation Strategy of the polar bear (draft). August 2014
Subpopulations trends (Figure 8)
The establishment of the situation on the 19 subpopulations trends shows that over the last twelve years, researchers based on the Detroit M’Clintock saw one subpopulation size increases, three others decrease and six remained stable. The remianing subpopulations size remain unknown (http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/status-table.html). We just learned that the Norwegians and the Russians will cooperate for counting subpopulations of their territory which have not been done over the last 11 years (barentsobserver.com).
The polar bear is considered a marine mammal. Its average weight is between 400 and 600 kg (male) and between 150 and 250 kg (female). Its life expectancy is about 25 years. Its preferred habitat is located on the glaciated areas near open water portions. He uses ice as a platform to feed on its favorite food, ringed seals, one of the species of common seals in the Arctic. They also eat bearded seals, harp seals, and harbor seals. The polar bear uses its sense of smell to detect the breathing of seals that can be up to a kilometer away. It may hunt walrus, beluga and narwhal. Because of its difficulties to feed, the polar bear has the ability to slow down its metabolism in order to conserve energy without feeding up to ten days
The polar bear is an excellent swimmer. His thick layer of fat allows him to keep warm and helps flotting. His large feet serve as oars. It can swim up to a speed of 10 kilometers per hour and cover a distance of 90 kilometers without stopping. He can hold his breath under water for one minute (http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/kids/animal-facts/polar_bear.asp) (Figure 9).
Figure 9. On the Hudson Bay during a hunting trip near Sanikiluaq (ᓴᓂᑭᓗᐊᖅ) located on the north shore of Flaherty Island Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay in the Qikiqtaaluk region of Nunavut in Canada. It is the southernmost community of the territory.
Source: Piita Kattuk, member of the Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board.
Life on the ice
“The future of the polar bear is inseparable from the fate of its habitat, the sea ice. Less ice, fewer bears. But global warming results in the reduction of the ice cover in summer and thicker layers in winter, which ultimately threatens the bear survival. The ice pack is the foundation of Arctic marine life; the ecosystem on which all aspects of the bear’s life is based. In fact, the ice is more than a hunting space, its also a nursery ”
The females give birth every three years. They usually give birth to one or two offspring, it can be up to four cubs per litter.
The main threats to its habitat
According to the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG), the main threats to the polar bear habitat is melting sea ice due to climate change, diseases, deaths caused by man, and oil activities gas, mining, contaminants, navigation and tourism. Given the crucial importance of the presence of sea ice for the polar bear we provide an overview of the process of melting and thinning observed for the last thirty years, and then an idea of the risks surrounding the oil and gas.
The relentless melting of the Arctic ice (figure 9)
According to Michel Alberganti, using data from the Goddard Space Flight Center, “the surface of the Arctic Ocean covered by ice has reached 5.83 million square kilometersin 2013, against the minimum of 4.34 million square kilometersregistered in August 2012, and even 3.41 million square kilometersSeptember 16: “In 2012, the coverage rate did not exceed half the average recorded between 1979 and 2010″ (http: //www.slate.com / life / 77458 / Kick-cold Arctic) (figure 10). Indeed, in 2012, according to analysis and preliminary observations from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) (University of Colorado at Boulder), the Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level in over 30 years! An alarming trend according to scientists.
“For the first time, Arctic sea ice reached its lowest since satellite observations (1979), beating the 2007 record. The extent of sea ice was only 4.10 million square kilometersin August 26 2012. This is 70,000 square kilometers less than the previous record registered on 18 September 2007. This corresponds to a loss equivalent to the size of Ireland. On 5 September 2012, the ice was still melting with an area of less than 4 million kilometers square, about ten days after the end of the Arctic melt season “.
Figure 10. Extension monthly average of sea ice in the Arctic (December 1978-2013)
“Walt Meier, a scientist at NSIDC said,” By itself, it is only a number and sometimes new records were established. But in the context of what has happened in recent years and over satellite observations, it is an indication that the Arctic sea ice is changing fundamentally ”
Under the Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis’ the extent of sea ice in December 2014 (Figure 12) showed an average of 12.52 million kilometers square, or 540,000 square kilometers below the average observed between 1981 and 2010 of 13,060,000 square kilometers and 500,000 square kilometers above the record for the month observed in 2010 “.
“The extent of sea ice in December 2014 ranked ninth of the lowest satellite data. For 2014, the rate of decline for December exceeds «Walt Meier, scientist at NSIDC said, “By itself, it is only a number and sometimes new records were established. But in the context of what has happened in recent years and via satellite observations, it is an indication that the Arctic sea ice is changing fundamentally “
As of March 20, 2015, the maximum ice extent of the Arctic Ocean appears to be the lowest ever measured. The maximum extent of Arctic ice was the lowest measured in winter this year since the beginning of satellite observations in 1979, said the American Center of snow and ice (National Snow and Ice Data Center / NSIDC). The surface of the sea ice has reached more than 14.54 million square kilometers on 25 February, which should be the maximum for the year, according to a preliminary estimate, representing 1.10 million square kilometers below the average of 15.64 million square kilometers measured from 1981 to 2010 and 130,000 square kilometers below the previous minimum in 2011.
This year, the maximum was reached two weeks earlier than the average between 1981 and 2010 according to the NSIDC. The date of the maximum extent of Arctic sea ice varies considerably from year to year from 24 February 1996 at the earliest to 2 April at the latest in 2010, specify these scientists (levif.be).
During the 2014-2015 winter, the ice in the Arctic Ocean rose by 9.91 million square kilometers, a much lower increase compared to 2013-2014, which saw a record increase. The low ice formation during this last winter was partial in February characterized by an unusual combination of the jet stream, which resulted in an Arctic warming of Pacific Ocean causing a small extent ice in the Bering Sea and Okhotsk. During the first two weeks of March, temperatures across the Arctic was about several degrees above average up ten degrees in the Barents Sea northern Norway, said the NSIDC.
For WWF “this should be a wake-up call.”
“Climate change will not stop at the Arctic Circle and without a drastic reduction greenhouse emissions, we will have a completely different climate, unpredictable and destructive to ecosystems and humans,” said in a statement Samantha Smith, head of the Climate and Energy Initiative of the organization. She recalled that 2014 was the warmest year on the globe since the beginning of temperature readings in 1881
Les lignes magenta indiquent les moyennes d’extension sur la période 1981-2010. Arctic Report Card 2014
The thinning of sea ice (Figure 14)
Using modern measurement techniques (since 2000 the records were replaced by a host of airborne measurements and satellites, as well as other data collection methods directly on or under the ice) and historical data, Washington University researchers were able to observe the way in which the thickness of Arctic sea ice has changed over the past decades. The study, published in The Cryophere, shows that the ice in the central Arctic Ocean has thinned by 65% between 1975 and 2012 from 3.59 m to 1.25 m.
The thinning is even more marked in September when the sea ice is at its thinnest after the summer melt. During this 37-year period of observation, the thickness of the ice in September has thinned by 85%, from 3.01 to 0.44 m: “The ice has thinned considerably said the Lead researcher Ron Lindsay, a climatologist from Applied Physics Laboratory of the University. We knew the ice was thinner, but we now have further confirmation on the speed with which the phenomenon occurs and we can see that it does not slow down ” (http://barentsobserver.com/en/nature/2015/03/arctic-sea-ice-thinning-dramatically-study-finds-06-03).
The scenarios presented by the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) shows a significant increase in temperatures in the Arctic, greatere than in many other parts of the world, which can have impacts such as tundra areas decrease in continuous permafrost, moving towards the north of the tree line and a reduced Arctic sea ice. The synthesis is based on several models and different sets. The map shows that the situation is likely to occur at the end of the XXI century (http://www.grida.no/graphicslib/detail/shift-in-climatic-zones -arctic-scenario_1154) (Figure 15).
The risks associated with oil and gas development (Figure 16)
Several oil and gas exploitation are currently active in the Arctic:
“The Prudhoe Bay site, one of the oldest in the Arctic, provides (2007) 700 Mbbl / d of oil, for the remaining reserves of 3 Gbbl; the maximum production was 2 Mbbl / d in 1988. It justified the establishment of the Alaska pipeline. In Russia, we have the Hammerfest LNG site, linked to Snøhvit. In addition, the Prirazlomnoe oilfield, discovered in 1989 in the south-east of the Barents Sea, the Gulf between the estuary of the Pechora and Novaya Zemlya, began to be exploited 24 years after Gazprom discharged in early May 2014 a first load of 70,000 tons of oil ARCO (brand new oil of the Russian Arctic shelf)of inferior quality compared to the Urals. The license for the deposit belongs to Gazprom Neft Shelf and the operator is Gazprom Neft; investments in the mining project on the Arctic shelf reach about 1.8 billion euros; Prirazlomnoe the platform was installed in August 2011 and started operation in late 2013; available reserves are estimated at 72 million tonnes; for 2014, the planned production of 300 000 tonnes ”
According to the PBSG, “oil spill in the polar bear habitat are particularly worrying. The exploration and oil and gas development in the Arctic increasing, coupled with increased transport associated with the longest season of open water, increase the potential for oil spills in the marine environment. ” (Action Plan – Conservation Strategy of the polar bear (draft) in August 2014.)
“In Russia, in general, the Pollution of the Russian Arctic Oil does not exceed the established maximum thresholds, except in some regions, particularly in the Barents Sea … In Alaska, since 2014, no major spill occurred. However, small chronic leaks from underwater pipelines could cause undetected release of large amounts of oil off … In Canada, since 2014, the only gas production within the range of Polar bear in the Canadian Arctic occurs in the deposit Ikhil in the Mackenzie Delta. The gas is produced from two wells, and is routed through a 50 km pipeline to Inuvik where it is used for power generation and heating … In Norway, atpresent, the only depositsof oil / gas subject to industrial development are those of Snøhvit and Goliat “(Action Plan – Conservation Strategy of the polar bear (draft) in August 2014).
IV. The Management Plan. A Circumpolar Cooperation (Figures 17, 18 and 19)
The state of the polar bear’s varies in function of the conservation efforts. The purpose of this Plan is:
- Ensure a long-term persistence of polar bear genetic bagage in the wilderness;
- Preserve a great range of polar bears ecological diversity and its habitat throughout the short and medium term Arctic.
“To protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be an excuse for postponing the adoption of effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. ” (Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992) .
Recognize that the polar bear is an important resource that plays a vital role in the social and cultural well-being of local communities in the Arctic. As well as recognize the subsistence needs of indigenous peoples in the Arctic, so that conservation is best achieved in partnership with communities traditionally dependent on polar bears and their participation in management decision making (Action Plan – Conservation Strategy of the polar bear (draft), August 2014).
Figure 17. Distribution of protected areas in the circumpolar region is wholly or partly within the potential range of polar bears
Source : Circumpolar Action Plan Draft Volume I – Conservation Strategy for the Polar Bear – August 2014.
The total marine area occupied by the sub-populations in the circumpolar region is estimated at 15,523,600 square kilometers, of which about 548 600 square kilometers (4%) are protected. The marine protected area is about two-thirds of the protected land area (circumpolar action plan Volume I. Conservation Strategy of the polar bear, August, 2014) (Figure 14).
Management of subpopulations habitats (Table 2)
Subpopulations habitat management systems are in place in all states based on national strategies and implementation plans that cover all areas frequented by the species. Numerous actions taken show a real will to reduce the vulnerability of ecosystems that support it. A beautiful illustration of this political will is found in Norway where we created free areas of oil exploitation in the Barents Sea (Figure 19).
Table 2. Plan of the Bear conservation systems throughout the circumpolar region
In Norway, with a total area of 1.4 million square kilometers, the Barents Sea is protected under the provisions of the Svalbard Act of 2002. In this region, more than 65% of the territory and 87% of marine areas are protected. A national action plan has been in force since 2013 and its revision is planned for 2018.
Canada Arctic Islands are the favorite area of the polar bear which is under the authority of multiple laws. Therefore, there are five national wildlife areas, three marine protected areas, 11 national parks and 58 provincial parks land. It conducts an annual evaluation of the 13 sub-populations in the territory according to the National Conservation Strategy which was last revised in 2011.
The territory covered by conservation measures covers an area of 1,763,680 square kilometers. This is primarily the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea where applied the Federal Law on wildlife. There are four State Natural Reserves (zapovedniks) covering an area of 49,537 square kilometers, the National Russian Arctic Park with an area of 14 260 square kilometers , three national wildlife reserves, national parks and national marine reserve, five natural resource reserves of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). The Action Plan of the Russian Federation established in 2010 is in force until 2020.
The total area covered by the conservation measures is 2,054,115 square kilometers according to the provisions of the “Greenland Home Rule Act No. 12 of October 29, 1999, Hunting and Game” and the “Executive Order on the Protection and Hunting of Polar Bear “in 2006. Protected areas in the Melville Bay covers an area of 10 500 square kilometers and the Greenland National Park with 972,000 square kilometers. An assessment of sub-populations present in the area is coming.
The territories under conservation measures are the Chukchi Sea or Alaska Tchoukotk region and Southern Beaufort Sea with a total area of 715,030 square kilometers. On 7 December 2010, the Service has identified about 484,734 square kilometers as critical habitat for polar bears following three categories: sea ice, barrier islands as habitat resting and denning habitat
Chukchi Sea. The management of polar bears hunting is governed by the Agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation on the Conservation and Management of the Alaska-Chukotka Polar Bear Population. This agreement was enacted in the US in 2006. The Management was concluded in collaboration with Alaska Nanuuq Commission, the principal co-management partner established in 1994
Beaufort Sea. Subsistence hunting is regulated voluntarily through an agreement made in 1988 between the Inuvialuit of Canada and the Inupiat of Alaska (Inupiat-Inuvialuit Agreement for the Management of Polar Bears of the Southern Beaufort Sea), which promotes management based on a level of sustainable catches. The department conducts in collaboration with the North Slope Borough research activities and hunting management.
Source: Circumpolar Action Plan Draft Volume I – Conservation Strategy for the Polar Bear – August 2014.
Figure 19. Mer de Norvège et Mer de Barents. Zones exemptes de l’exploitation pétrolière
Most analyzes on the situation of the polar bear exhibit concerns about its survival after the ice will be gone. The terms used to describe the fate of the case are related to drama or disaster: The polar bear is endangered. A different view is found in Government of Nunavut that exposes a reassuring perspective: “Polar bears are very smart and quickly adapt to changing circumstances. As they have survived many climate change cycles in the past, they are likely to be able to adapt to changes that may occur in the future. However, it is quite possible that there are changes in their range and their composition. Some areas could see a fall in the polar bear population or disappearance in these regions during the hottest periods. Other regions could see an increase in the number of polar bears to measure that climate change will make the most favorable habitats for bears, driving the reduction in multi-year ice. In still other areas, the number and the reproductive rate of polar bears could remain relatively constant “(http://env.gov.nu.ca/sites/default/files/3154-315_climate_french_sm.pdf).
We believe that the efforts made by members of the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) in implementing the Plan of management of polar bear habitat have given and will give good results. The objectives are ensured by law conservation of resources upon which depends the species and the decrease of subpopulation vulnerability through careful management of polar bears habitats (circumpolar action plan Volume I. Conservation Strategy of the polar bear, August 2014).
2013 Declaration of Ministers of the countries of the circumpolar area on climate change and the extent and sea ice composition
According to the PBSG, “Environmental change is the most serious threat in the long term for the polar bear and its habitat. The projected warming in much of its range, the associated reductions in the extent and thickness of multi-year sea ice and the length and thickness of the annual sea ice will affect direct and indirect on the species. Habitat loss is one of the direct effects (ie extent of and composition of the sea ice). Indirect effects include changes throughout the ecosystem affecting the availability of prey such as seals, isolation dens areas and land shelters, the release and transfer of contaminants, and the expansion of human activities resulting in an increase in the likelihood of interactions between humans and bears. The earlier melting of sea ice in summer and the later formation of ice in the fall will ensure that the bears depend more of the terrestrial areas. ”
“We recognize that the fight against climate change is important to the long-term conservation of polar bears. Recognize the need to manage habitat of the polar bear to reduce the vulnerability of polar bear populations and to take into account the long-term expected changes in the conditions of sea ice in the Arctic, as well as impact of these changes on polar bears and their prey “(circumpolar action plan Volume I. Polar Bear Conservation Strategy, August 2014).
Statement by the Minister of the Environment of Nunavut
“The Inuit have always had the ability to adapt to change, and change happens very quickly. If we adapt this is done partly at the expense of our health, our families and our culture. We are committed – to oppose the elements that cause harm to the population – and to make positive, achievable changes that will allow us to be better prepared to face the future. “Tamapta: Our Future Together”.
Note : My thanks are addressed to :
- Piita Kattuk, member of the Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board, Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, Canada.
- Sophie Fillion, Wildlife Liaison Officer, Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board.
GATTOLIN, André. 2014. Arctique : Préoccupations européennes pour un enjeu global. Rapport d’information n° 684 (2013-2014) fait au nom de la commission des affaires européennes, déposé le 2 juillet 2014. Sénat: http://www.senat.fr/rap/r13-684/r13-684_mono.html
NUNAVIK MARINE REGION BOARD. 2014. Public Hearing. Establishment of a Total Allowable Take for the Southern Hudson Bay Polar Bear Subpopulation. February 12th – 14th, 2014. Inukjuak, QC.
OBBARD, Martyn E., Kevin R. Middel, Seth Stapleton, Isabelle Thibault, Vincent Brodeur, and Charles Jutras. 2013. Wildlife Research Series 2013-01. Estimating abundance of the Southern Hudson Bay polar bear subpopulation using aerial surveys, 2011 and 2012. 33 pages.
Jules Dufour, Ph.D., C.Q.. is Emeritus Professor of Geography , University of Quebec, Research Associate, Centre for Research on Globalization.
Member Knight of the National Order of Quebec, Member of the World Commission on Protected Areas of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Gland, Switzerland, Member of the Universal Circle of Ambassadors for Peace, Paris, Member of COFEX-North. Great Whale Hydroelectric project assessment (1992-1994)Member of the Nunavik Commission (1999-2001) Member of the Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board (James Bay and Hudson Bay), Waskaganish, Eeyou Istchee (2013-)
On 27 August, Polish Radio announced that two people have presented evidence that they have discovered Nazi Germany’s legendary “Gold Train,” containing art and that’s especially “laden with precious metals,” and that the pair are demanding a 10% cut of its value, for finding this nearly 200-yard-long train, in a hidden mountain tunnel in the Polish town of Walzbrych, formerly the German town of Waldenburg. Nazis had constructed the tunnel in 1943, to hide valuables from Soviet forces, in the event that Germany might lose the war.
Soviets conquered Nazi forces at Waldenburg on 8 May 1945; and, until now, this heavily armored train had not been found. On August 27th, the town announced that agreement was reached with the German citizen and the Polish citizen, who jointly claim to have made the find, agreeing to pay them their demanded 10%. The report says, “As outlined in their claim to Wałbrzych authorities, ‘the train contains valuable objects, costly industrial materials and precious metal ores’.” So, the town is now seeking assistance from the Polish government, to provide mine-detection and other help, so that the site can safely be entered by the town’s officials, in order that the train’s cargo can be itemized and estimated. According to a report in Britain’s Telegraph, Poland’s military are “cordoning off” the area.
The initial Polish report noted that, “As Germans fled the advancing Red Army at the end of the war, innumerable valuables were evacuated. Thousands of these, including artworks such as Raphael’s ‘Portrait of a Young Man’, which had been looted from Poland’s Czartoryski Museum during the war, have not been traced until this day.”
“Damien Simonart, France Info’s Warsaw correspondent, said: ‘If there is Nazi gold in this train, we are not talking about Indiana Jones here but gold pulled from the teeth of Jews in death camps.’ He added that if the two unidentified treasure hunters really have struck gold, they will have to question their consciences over its origin if they do seal a deal to take home 10 per cent of its value.”
However, with the announcement now, that Walzbrych has agreed to that payment, there will also be complex legal decisions by the Polish Government, and perhaps also some broader questions of international law, regarding whether and how assets that were extracted from people who were exterminated can belong legally to any government, and to any finders; and, if so, then at what percentages.
“The Walbrzych region is home to dozens of kilometers of underground galleries. The Nazis had dug them during the war to secretly produce strategic weapons, but it may very well hide a train full of gold.”
North Dakota has become the first state to approve government use of drones equipped with “less than lethal weapons”, including “rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers”.
The bill passsed largely due to the inherent corruption of the US political system, as the wording was modified to allow for weaponized drones and approved “thanks to a last-minute push by a … lobbyist representing law enforcement—tight with a booming drone industry”.
The Republican who originally proposed the bill had written it to ban all weaponization of drones, and he was dismayed that it ultaimately passed in a form that allows non-lethal weaponization.
Police claim the drones will only be used in “non-criminal” situations, such as surveilance, but did not mention that they have already been used in at least one criminal situation, or that the claim is dubious at best given the ultra-militarized and brutal state of policing in the US, which many, particularly those in ethnic minority groups, liken to military occupation.
A police deputy, explaining why he opposed requiring search warrants for use of drones, told Daily Beast that “you don’t want things that would potentially have a chilling effect on [drone] manufacturers”.
“It’s really all about the commercial development,” said Republican rep. Gary Paur.
As Daily Beast puts it, “In other words, limit civil liberties so Big Drone can spread its wings.”
Of course, there is a bit more to it than that, as numerous US crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters, including mass arrests of civilians and journalists, demonstrate.
Europe and Iran demand Nuclear Free Middle East as AIPAC-funded Congress creates nuclear-armed Israel a global weapons supplier
A Congressional Research Service study, on June 10, concluded that American military aid has ’helped Israel build a domestic defence industry, which ranks as one of the top 10 suppliers of arms worldwide,’ ** (read ‘attack’ for ‘defence’).
Under pressure from AIPAC, the Zionist Lobby in Washington, the White House is reported to be intending to increase its military aid to Israel to unprecedented levels i.e. to $3.5 billion a year for each of the next ten years. The U.S. also announced a $1.88 billion gift to Israel of bombs and precision guided weapons including BLU-113, 5000-pound penetrating bombs for use on buried targets – such as Iran’s atomic energy research sites. However, unlike Israel, Iran has no nuclear weapons and subscribes to the entire Middle East being designated a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) as wanted by the EU.
Israel will also apparently be offered the new F-35, fifth generation American strike fighter aircraft in order to maintain Qualitative Military Edge, or QME – an incredible policy enacted into law by a heavily AIPAC-influenced U.S. congress, in 2008, that requires all US presidents to ensure that Israel possesses a ‘qualitative military edge’.
These unprecedented policies that maintain the only undeclared nuclear state in the world are implemented at a huge cost to the American tax payer, who receives nothing in return other than the threat of a future nuclear war in the Middle East that would almost certainly lead to the deployment of American troops and their inevitable sustainment of heavy losses in a foreign theatre of war.
Rarely if ever mentioned, however, is the apparently secret, federal gag order in force in the U.S. that prohibits informed debate regarding Israel’s nuclear program and that it is apparently an offence for any federal employee to mention the Israeli arsenal of nuclear warheads, in the Iran deal debate. Doing so could end in being summarily fired and possibly imprisoned! (*see link below). It is a matter of conjecture as to the precise reasons for such an unprecedented, clandestine, draconian gagging order and as to which country specifically benefits from it, given that it has no bearing on U S national security.
Tragically, President Obama has little alternative but to comply with laws enacted under the previous Bush administration under pressure from the Israel lobby – although he clearly disapproves of a policy that disturbs the balance of global power in favour of a small, strategically insignificant, Mediterranean state – the prime minister of which heads up a right-wing Likud coalition government whose aim is to ethnically cleanse the whole of former Palestine.
Beirut is burning; it is hurt, angry and uncertain about its own future.
Ambulances are howling. Hundreds are injured. Rubber bullets are flying and so is live ammunition.
A Revolution? A rebellion?
Who are those men, stripped from their waist up, muscular, throwing stones at the security forces in the center of Beirut? Are they genuine revolutionaries? Are they there in order to reclaim so badly discredited “Arab Spring”?
Or did they come here in a show of force, because the West is paying them? If the Lebanese state collapses, ISIL could move in, and occupy at least a substantial part of Lebanon. That would suit the West’s interests, and those of Turkey, as well as the Gulf States.
Or Israel could take advantage of the vacuum, and invade Lebanon, once again. Or both ISIL and Israel.
Two weeks ago, a friend of mine said jokingly: “I met a kid in Beirut. He told me that he is going to get a job at some European NGO. His duty would be to help to destabilize Lebanon”.
She named the country funding the NGO, but I’d rather not mention it here, in order not to add more oil to fire. We had a good laugh then, but it does not appear too funny, anymore.
Yesterday she told me: “Security forces fired at him.”
He was there. He was not bragging. It was not a joke.
Nothing appears to be a joke in Lebanon, anymore!
Or could there be two “types” of protesters at the same place and at the same time? Those who are fighting for a better Lebanon, and those who are paid to fight for sectarianism and for the foreign interests (which in this country is almost the same thing)?
Just one day before the street battles erupted, I drove from Beirut, crossing the mountains and then progressing north, through Bekaa Valley.
Night descended on the ancient city of Baalbek. Mayada El-Hennawy, the great Syrian pan-Arab classical musician, began singing, her pronounced voice amplified, then carried towards the mountains that form the border between two sisters: Lebanon and Syria,
What a sight! What madness! Behind Mayada’s back, sits the enormous structure of the Temple of Bacchus, above her, helicopter drones. Tanks and hundreds of soldiers were stationed all over Baalbek, protecting the site and the venue. Just a few kilometers away, Hezbollah is engaged in its epic battle with ISIL.
But thousands of people arrived, in striking defiance, refusing to succumb to fear. They drove here from Beirut and other cities of a battered, now almost dysfunctional Lebanon.
They came to celebrate life and the Arabic culture; they came to listen to their beloved songs and to pay tribute to this celebrated Syrian diva. Some, clearly, came to pay tribute to Syria itself – to Syria and to life.
As Mayada El-Hennawy began singing, people roared.
24 hours after the concert, a crowd clashed with the Lebanese security forces in the center of Beirut, near the government palace.
Dozens were injured and on 24 August, it was reported that one person died in the hospital.
The “You stink” movement first organized the protests. Thousands of people hit the streets in response to an ongoing garbage crisis, which, according to many, has made the already difficult life in Beirut almost unbearable.
“You Stink”! For 18 years, the government was unable (or unwilling) to build a permanent garbage-recycling site. For 18 years, poor villagers near the “provisory” garbage dumping grounds were suffering, getting poisoned, dying from unusually high level of cancer and from respiratory diseases. Then, finally, they said “Halas! Enough.” They blocked the site. And after they did, the garbage began accumulating on the streets of Beirut. Instead of finding a permanent solution, the government dispersed white toxic rat poison over the piles of rotting trash. People in the capital began getting sick.
But it is not only the garbage that is making life in the capital, and in fact all over the country, almost intolerable.
One thing has to be understood: Lebanon is not Iraq, Libya or Syria. All these countries had strong leadership, and they had robust socialist and social programs (despised by the West): from the medical care to education, public housing and pensions.
In total contrast, Lebanon’s government is dysfunctional, corrupt and divided. The country has been surviving over a year without a President, despite the Cabinet meeting more than 20 times in an attempt to elect one.
Garbage was just a tip of the iceberg. The infrastructure of Lebanon is collapsing: there are water shortages and constant electricity blackouts. There is hardly any public transportation to speak of, almost no green public areas. There are land grabs all over the country. Health and education are at disastrous levels. It is an extremely brutal place for many.
Lebanon is perhaps one of the most capitalist countries on earth. There is almost nothing public, nothing socialist left here, anymore. And the savage capitalism (always prescribed by the Western “partners” for its client states) in Lebanon, as everywhere in the world, simply does not work.
The country hardly produces anything. There are more Lebanese people living abroad than in Lebanon itself, and it is remittances that are keeping the state somehow afloat. There is also substantial income pouring in from the shady businesses in West Africa, in Iraq, but also income from the banking industry (mainly servicing the Middle East and the Gulf States) and from the narcotics grown in Bekaa Valley.
There is plenty of cash in individual’s pockets and in their bank accounts, but almost no money for basic public services. Lamborghinis and Ferraris are racing at night along Cornish, and the Zaitunay Bay Marina puts its counterpart in Abu Dhabi to shame. But most of the city is polluted, crumbling, and desperate.
In between those contrasting facades, desperate Syrian refugees are begging.
Nothing seems to be enough. Money comes in, and mysterious, big chunks of it simply evaporate.
Now the country is totally broke. Government sources claim that the Lebanon’s public debt currently stands at about 143 percent of gross domestic product.
Lebanon is divided along sectarian lines: 18 religious groups. The main ones are Christians, Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and a small Druze minority. Because of sectarianism, there is hardly any national unity, or a “national project”.
Several protesters I spoke to claim that they are fed up with sectarianism and divisions. They want one, strong, united Lebanon. Or that’s what they say.
Ahmed, one of the demonstrators, a middle age professional from Beirut, explained:
“I don’t want Lebanon of Christians and Muslims. I want one Lebanon, one country, united!”
But there seems to be no ideology truly uniting these protesters. There are only grievances that they have in common.
Demands appear to be legitimate.
But in Lebanon, one cannot be certain of what lies below the surface. There are rumors that each religious group is now sending its fighters to the barricades.
For years and decades, competing political interests are pulling this tiny country in different directions.
“I spotted a guy who was protesting and who was obviously a British”, a diplomat based in Beirut who did not want to be identified, told me. “He was not a reporter, he was actually one of the protesters! And he spoke no Arabic. There are many bizarre characters at the protests.”
Who is who and who is with whom, is often extremely difficult to define.
Allegiances of the Christians are mostly with the West. Sunni Muslims are closely allied with the Gulf States, and indirectly, with the West. Shia Muslims, including Hezbollah, are leaning towards Iran.
Almost everyone here agrees that Hezbollah is the only sound social force in the country. It is also aiming at uniting Lebanon, by reaching out to non-Shia groups.
Presently, Hezbollah is locked in an epic fight against the ISIL, a brutal terrorist army that was originally supported and trained by the West, Turkey, generally by NATO. Hezbollah is opposed to terrible acts of destruction that are being spread by the West and by Israel all over the region. For that reason Hezbollah’s name is firmly engraved in the selective US terrorist list.
Lebanon is squeezed from all sides. Civil war in Syria fueled by the West has already forced at least 2 million Syrian people to cross the border and to seek asylum in this tiny country. The ISIL is continuously trying to grab the territory in the Northern part of Lebanon. While Hezbollah is doing most of the fighting against ISIL, the Lebanese army and security forces are trained in the West. Saudi Arabia recently paid for the French supply of arms to Lebanon. Israel is constantly threatening to invade. To add to the list of distresses, there has been renewed fighting in the Palestinian refugee camps in the South of Lebanon, with several dead and many injured.
“What we want is to get rid of sectarianism”, explained Ahmed, standing in front of the concrete wall erected to prevent protesters from marching on the government building. “No more Christians and Muslims; Just Lebanese! And if we win, then there will be definitely much more socialism here, more social reforms, better health, education, infrastructure.”
But can this group really win against a tremendous capitalist and religious inertia?
“It is still so difficult to imagine how we could win”, admits Ahmed. “We need at least one million people to change this country.”
But the number of angry and determined people is constantly growing.
“We’ve had enough. Enough!” Shouts a man who is carrying a plastic bag filled with garbage as a symbol.
Few minutes later I am told by a group of demonstrators: “There are plenty of foreign interests here… French, the United States, Saudi… We need real independence.”
All the demonstrators that I talk to are fed up, but very few of them can see a way out of the crisis. In Lebanon, there is no ideology, and no serious talk about socialism. Latin America has not been mentioned even once.
The original group of the protesters is horrified. Many of them went to protest with their little children on their backs and with their grandparents in tow. They thought they are going to engage in discussion with the government. Instead they were welcomed by water cannons, rubber bullets and teargas.
Clashes, and terrible injuries followed. Then a wall was erected, outside the Grand Serail, just to be dismantled next day. Barbed wire is still all over the center of the city. The pavement is dotted with rocks, shop windows broken, cars burned. Tires are scorching, blocking main arteries of the city.
Security forces are omnipresent, on foot, on board their Humvees and on top of the tanks. And so are the medics and paramedics, ready for further escalations.
“Is this a continuation of the Arab Spring?” I asked.
“Yes”, I was told.
Who is behind this uprising?
Everyone at the protest site claims that the rebellion is absolutely spontaneous, that there is no foreign influence.
“Revolution!” protesters are shouting, repeatedly.
“This is not like those color revolutions,” I am told. A protester is referring to the West-backed movements paid to perform the “regime-changes” all over the world. “Here, we are on our own. We want a united, free and better Lebanon!”
There is no doubt that many protesters who are now fighting in the center of the capital are “genuine” and outraged citizens. But others are clearly not. The situation used to be the same in almost all other “Arab Spring countries”: initial desire for reforms and for social policies. Then the infiltration from several political (mainly pro-Western and pro-Saudi) groups followed soon. Time after time, genuine agendas were kidnapped.
Are all rebellions in the Arab world doomed from the start? Are they all going to end in the US and EU orchestrated coups, in bloody massacres and finally, in horrific collapses of the nations? Is the Libyan scenario really inevitable?
One of the leading professors at the American University in Beirut, told me recently: “This university is where most of the leaders from the Gulf States get educated. And those who are not, are actually dreaming that they would be.”
Then one of the “international experts” based in the region, reminds me: “I am sure you already know that the workshops that were held for activists to ‘spark’ The Arab Spring were held in Lebanon”.
I know. And it says a lot. For many years and decades, Beirut was attracting those who wanted to taste “Western the world” without leaving the Middle East. This is where the indoctrination was disseminated, and where so many shady deals between the West and the local rulers and movers were sealed.
Few thousands of protesters in the center of Beirut are closely watched. It goes without saying that each and every move they make is being analyzed, and that the West is going to try to turn the events to its advantage.
This does not mean that one should not try to improve the world, or to fight for a much better country. But it means that those few authentic protesters will be always outnumbered, and they will always have to face the leaders of the savage Lebanese capitalist establishment, backed by the West, and the Gulf States. They will also have to face those other “protesters” who already managed to infiltrate this small rebellion, and who are handled by the various political interests, local and foreign.
If what is happening has origins abroad, then why is there suddenly such a rush to bring Lebanon down? Is it because increasingly successful Russian diplomatic initiatives to stop all conflicts in the Middle East? Or is there a plan to almost fully encircle Syria? Could Hezbollah be now on the hit list of the West?
Rumors are plentiful, while information scarce. One thing is certain: if Lebanon collapses, the entire region will once again become a colony.
The Pentagon’s new Law of War Manual – a 1,200-plus page document issued in June by the Defense Department’s Office of the General Counsel – is barbaric.
The Manual is so bad that one of the leading experts on the law of war (Dr. Francis Boyle) – who wrote the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the American implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International, and teaches international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign – says :
This Law of War Manual reduces us to the level of Nazis. There’s no other word for it.
Boyle also says the Manual:
Reads like it was written by Hitler’s Ministry of War.
Why is the Manual so bad?
Manual Authorizes Slaughter of Innocent Civilians
Because – according to Boyle – the Manual allows massacres of civilian populations. The most comprehensive previous such document – the 1956 Pentagon field manual – assumed that any deliberate targeting of civilians was illegal and a war crime.
Boyle also says the Manual authorizes the following barbarous war crimes:
(1) Warfare with nuclear weapons. Specifically, the manual states:
There is no general prohibition in treaty or customary international law on the use of nuclear weapons.
This flies in the face of the United Nations Charter, which – as noted by the World Court in its Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons – makes even threatening to use nuclear weapons a war crime.
This is also particularly worrisome because – as documented in Towards a World War III Scenario, by Michel Chossudovsky – the U.S. is so enamored with nuclear weapons that it has authorized low-level field commanders to use them in the heat of battle in their sole discretion … without any approval from civilian leaders.
5. Napalm, which is banned under Protocol III of the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
6. Expanding hollow-point bullets, banned under the 1868 St. Petersburg declaration.
7. Herbicides, like Agent Orange in Vietnam.
The Good News
The good news – according to Dr. Boyle – is that both Congress and the president have power to revoke the Manual.
So – if we stand up and raise holy hell – we might be able to walk back from the fascist path we’re heading down. And we can prove that we’re not the rogue nation that the rest of the world thinks we are.
A revealing light was shed on the Abbott government’s constant resort to terrorist scare campaigns when the federal director of public prosecutions (DPP) this week dropped the sole “terrorism” charge against a Melbourne teenager accused in April of plotting an attack on Anzac Day war ceremonies. According to the DPP’s statement, there was “insufficient evidence” to continue the prosecution.
Harun Causevic, 18, from Hampton Park, a working class suburb in outer-southeastern Melbourne, was finally released on bail. Despite protests by his family, he was kept in a maximum-security prison for more than four months, held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
Causevic and four other teenagers were arrested in a series of violent pre-dawn police raids on April 18, supposedly for planning to behead a police officer, take his gun and go on a shooting rampage on the 100th anniversary of Australia’s involvement in the World War I, British-led invasion of Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula.
Planned by successive governments for years, the official Anzac Day centenary events were intended to be the highpoint of a four-year multi-million dollar campaign to “celebrate” World War I and condition public opinion for a new period of war.
The alleged “Anzac Day plot” was the subject of lurid headlines throughout the corporate media, fed by police claims that the “plot” was “ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria]-inspired.” Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Labor Party leader Bill Shorten and Daniel Andrews, the Labor premier of the state of Victoria, seized upon the arrests to whip up support for the nationalist and militarist displays on Anzac Day and to justify a heavy police mobilisation for the events.
“This was a potential attack at an advanced stage of planning,” Abbott declared immediately. He urged people to defiantly “turn up in very large numbers at Anzac events … to support our values, our interests, our armed forces.” Shorten called on people to demonstrate that “we will not be deterred by a fear of terrorism.” Andrews demonised the five teenagers as “simply evil, plain and simple.”
Typifying the media hysteria, the Melbourne Age reported that the alleged attack would have been “shockingly similar” to the 2013 murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in London. “The alleged plotters had discussed opening fire at one or more Anzac Day events in southeast Melbourne suburbs,” the Fairfax Media newspaper reported, citing police sources.
Now, it seems, there is “insufficient evidence” to even prosecute one of the key accused “plotters.”
Causevic was facing possible life imprisonment under Australia’s draconian post-2001 “counter-terrorism” laws, on one vague charge of “conspiring to do an act in preparation or planning for a terrorist act.”
Before being charged, he was detained without trial under a Preventative Detention Order. He became the first person in the state of Victoria to be imprisoned under such an order, for which the police only need to assert a “reasonable suspicion” that a person could commit an “imminent” terrorist act.
Causevic has been granted bail after agreeing to plead guilty to relatively minor weapons charges—the possession of two knives and some knuckle dusters. The maximum penalty is two years’ jail, but his lawyers told a Melbourne magistrate that he should be given a good behaviour bond.
Of the five Melbourne teenagers arrested, only one, Sevdet Besim, 18, remains accused of participating in the “conspiracy” to prepare a terrorist act. The basis for this charge appears to be police allegations that Besim had social media communications with a British boy, now aged 15.
The British boy last month pleaded guilty in England to “incitement” of terrorism, after supposedly encouraging Besim, via the Internet, to “get your first taste of beheading.” Besim’s trial will not commence for many months. Last week, he appeared in court via a prison video link and was told that he would remain behind bars until a two-day committal hearing in December.
Two of the five arrested Melbourne teenagers were quickly released without charge. Another, Mehran Azami, 19, was never charged with a terrorist offence, but later pleaded guilty to importing weapons, such as knives and knuckle-dusters, and is in prison awaiting a sentencing hearing.
Despite the collapse of the case against Causevic, both Premier Andrews and the Victoria Police this week stridently defended the April raids, in which about 200 para-military police smashed their way into homes, battered down doors, broke windows and physically attacked and injured the teenagers and some family members.
“When police have a reasonable belief that they need to take steps to keep the community safe, then that’s exactly what they do,” Andrews declared. The police stated: “The AFP [Australian Federal Police] and Victoria Police have repeatedly said that the current counter-terrorism environment dictates that police will always act in the interest of ensuring community safety.”
These statements can be taken as a warning that similar methods will be unleashed again. Over the past 12 months an intensifying pattern has emerged of major police raids and operations that appear to be politically timed, in order to justify the Abbott government’s barrage of draconian new “counter-terrorism” laws and the dispatch of more Australian forces to join the predatory US-led war in Iraq and Syria.
These operations also serve as a distraction from the worsening economic conditions, including rising unemployment, and the government’s mounting political crisis, produced by its failure to impose the deep cuts to social spending and working conditions demanded by the corporate elite.
April’s raids ramped-up an atmosphere of fear-mongering fuelled by huge police raids in Sydney and Melbourne last September, followed days later by the police killing of Abdul Haider, another 18-year-old from southeast Melbourne. Above all, last December’s Sydney café siege, which involved a sole deranged hostage-taker, Man Haron Monis, was turned into a national “terrorist” incident by the federal and state governments.
Now, a year on from last September’s raids, the Abbott government is anxious to again foment terrorism scares, just as it prepares to announce that it will extend the Australian air force bombing operations from Iraq to Syria, thus joining the illegal US-led operation to oust the Assad regime. Under the guise of combatting terrorism, the government is also trying to push legislation through parliament to allow the immigration minister, by arbitrary decree, to strip Australian citizenship from targeted individuals.
Facing a sharp economic downturn and the emergence of opposition in the working class to the ongoing assault on jobs and conditions, the Abbott government is preparing to ramp up its militarist agenda. Australian Financial Review political editor Laura Tingle reported two weeks ago that the cabinet National Security committee “recently asked for a list of national-security-related things that could be announced weekly” in the lead-up to next year’s scheduled federal election.
This program of war abroad, accompanied by police-state measures at home, has the unconditional support of the Labor Party. It is just as committed as the Liberal-National government to backing US militarism and seeking to divert the rising domestic class tensions.
Amid continuing global share market volatility, the financial elites around the world have been intently focussed on the movement of Chinese stock markets and more broadly on the state of the Chinese economy. Yesterday’s rise of the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, after falls in six successive trading sessions, produced an almost audible sigh of relief as share prices responded by rising on major markets internationally.
The deluge of media commentary on the Chinese economy reflects the degree to which the world economy as a whole is dependent on continued growth in China. Speaking on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Lateline” program last night, Ken Courtis, chairman of Starfort Holdings, pointed out that “this year we’re expecting 35 to 40 percent of all the world’s growth to come from China.” If that did not happen, “then we have a real problem.”
Concerns in ruling circles that China’s economic slowdown will lead to political instability were evident in an article published in the Financial Times (FT) on Tuesday entitled, “Questions over Li Keqiang’s future amid China market turmoil.” Analysts and party insiders who spoke to the FT suggested that the Chinese premier was “fighting for his political future” after the Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 8.5 percent on Monday—its largest decline since early 2007.
Analyst Willy Lam from the Chinese University of Hong Kong told the newspaper:
“Premier Li’s position has certainly become more precarious as a result of the current crisis. If the situation worsens and if there comes a point where [President Xi Jinping] really needs a scapegoat, then Li fits the bill.”
Li and Vice Premier Ma Kai were closely associated with efforts in early July to stem the falling share markets, including a ban on short selling and new stock offerings and share sales by large investors. According to the FT, state-owned institutions pumped an estimated $200 billion into the share market, only to see it plummet over the past week.
The Chinese leadership is more broadly under fire. A lengthy article in the New York Times last weekend reported that Xi had been told by powerful party elders to focus more on restoring economic growth and less on his anti-corruption drive.
Xi, however, has exploited high-profile anti-corruption cases to consolidate his grip on power, jail potential rivals or challengers, and intimidate factions critical of his government’s accelerating pro-market reform and further opening up to investment. A shrinking economy will only fuel tensions within the isolated and sclerotic Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime and open up the prospect of renewed factional infighting.
Having all but abandoned its socialistic posturing, the CCP leadership has depended for its legitimacy on continued high levels of economic growth. The fear in Beijing and major financial centres around the globe is that rising unemployment and deepening social inequality will lead to social unrest, particularly in the working class, which is now estimated to number 400 million.
The official growth figures have fallen this year to 7 percent—well below the 8 percent level that the CCP long regarded as the minimum required for social stability. Many analysts, however, regard even 7 percent as significantly overstating actual growth. A recent Bloomberg survey of 11 economists put the median estimate of Chinese growth at 6.3 percent.
Others put the figure far lower. Analyst Gordon Chang told the Diplomatwebsite that “influential people in Beijing” were “privately saying that the Chinese economy was growing at a 2.2 percent rate.” He pointed to other indicators of declining economic activity: rail freight (down 10.1 percent in the first two quarters of 2015), trade volume (down 6.9 percent), construction starts by area (down 15.8 percent) and electricity usage (up by just 1.3 percent).
While the Beijing leadership is under pressure to boost the economy, the slowdown in China is bound up with the broader global crisis of capitalism. The restoration of capitalism in China over the past three decades has transformed the country into a vast cheap labour manufacturing platform that is heavily reliant on exports to the major economies.
In highlighting China’s contribution to world growth, Ken Courtis noted on “Lateline” yesterday that “Japan is contracting or in great difficulty still, the US is growing at 2, 2.5 percent, [and] Europe is slugging around at 1.5, 1 percent.” These economies, however, are precisely the markets on which China depends. The latest figures for July showed that exports slumped by 8.3 percent year-on-year, with exports to Europe and Japan down 4 percent, partially compensated by a rise of 7 percent to the US.
Following the 2008 global financial crisis, the CCP leadership only maintained economic growth through a massive stimulus package and the expansion of credit. However, with exports and industrial production stagnating, the money flowed into infrastructure spending, property speculation and, more recently, stock market speculation. Notwithstanding occasional rallies in response to government measures to ease credit, falling property prices over the past year, and now plunging share prices, underscore the fact that these speculative bubbles are unsustainable.
The Chinese regime is under international pressure to accelerate its pro-market reform agenda, including privatisation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the further liberalisation of the financial sector to open up new profit opportunities for foreign investors. Such measures, however, will only heighten the social gulf between rich and poor and provoke wider social unrest. The last round of privatisations in China resulted in the destruction of tens of millions of jobs.
The Beijing regime, which represents the interests of the tiny layer of Chinese millionaires and billionaires, is deeply fearful of the emergence of a movement of the working class. The fact that questions are being raised about the future of Prime Minister Li Keqiang is an indicator of the existing sharp tensions that will only intensify as financial and economic turmoil worsens and impacts on the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
At least since the 1980s – when Ronald Reagan made war seem like fun again and the modern mainstream media took shape – the Democratic Party has lacked a coherent foreign policy, highlighted today by the fact that its top 2016 presidential candidates have largely evaded the topic in favor – almost exclusively – of domestic issues.
Part of the problem is that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has a record of pandering to the neoconservatives during her time as a U.S. senator from New York and as Secretary of State. She voted for the Iraq War in 2002 and, while President Barack Obama’s top diplomat, supported what some call “liberal interventionism,” which is barely distinguishable from neoconservatism.
Indeed, arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the infamous Project for the New American Century, said – in his praise of Clinton’s aggressive foreign policy – that he was ready to jettison the term “neoconservative” in favor of the phrase “liberal interventionist.”
Kagan, who was made an adviser to Clinton’s State Department, said in 2014: “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue … it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.” [For more, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon-Lite?”]
So, it’s understandable why Hillary Clinton’s campaign has downplayed the details of how she would conduct foreign policy. Many Democrats, who opposed the Iraq War and are uncomfortable with the hawkishness that Clinton displayed as Secretary of State, would recoil at the prospect of her being a Trojan Horse for Kagan and the neocons to sneak inside another Democratic administration to continue their bloody strategies.
Though Sen. Bernie Sanders, her principal challenger, also has chosen to downplay foreign policy issues in favor of economic ones, the Vermont “democratic socialist” can at least point to his prescient opposition to the Iraq War in 2002.
In a Senate floor speech, Sanders cited five reasons for voting against President George W. Bush’s war resolution: the death and destruction that would result, the dangerous precedent of “a unilateral invasion,” the damage to the war on terror, the “extremely expensive” price tag of “a war and a long-term American occupation,” and the “unintended consequences.”
On the last point, Sanders asked: “Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed and what role will the U.S. play in [an] ensuing civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the region who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists? Will the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority be exacerbated? And these are just a few of the questions that remain unanswered.”
Though right about Iraq, Sanders is unwilling to put forward a comprehensive strategy for dealing with today’s Mideast chaos and other international tensions, including the Ukraine crisis which was partly fomented by Kagan’s neocon wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who rose to prominence under the protective wing of Secretary of State Clinton.
When Sanders has spoken about the Mideast, he has framed his comments in ways that make them acceptable to Official Washington but that ultimately make little sense. For instance, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Sanders suggested that Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich sheikdoms replace the United States as the region’s policeman in the fight against Sunni terrorists in the Islamic State (also called ISIS).
“Saudi Arabia is the third largest military budget in the world,” Sanders said. “They’re going to have to get their hands dirty in this fight. We should be supporting, but at the end of the day this is fight over what Islam is about, the soul of Islam, we should support those countries taking on ISIS.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Sanders’s Screwy Mideast Strategy.”]
Frankly, it’s hard to believe that Sanders is that naïve. A core reality of the Mideast crisis is that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Sunni Gulf states have been the principal funders and ideological supporters of the Sunni extremists who have organized into violent jihadist movements, including Al Qaeda, its Syrian affiliate Al Nusra Front, and a hyper-violent spinoff, the Islamic State.
Vice President Joe Biden blurted out this reality at Harvard’s Kennedy School last October, when he said: “Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria … the Saudis, the emirates, etc., what were they doing? They were so determined to take down [President Bashar al-] Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” [Quote at 53:20 of clip.]
Biden had confirmed something that was well-known in the region and inside the U.S. intelligence community, that many of these terrorist groups were supported, directly and indirectly, by elements of Saudi Arabia’s royal family and by oil-rich sheiks around the Persian Gulf who see themselves fighting a sectarian war against Iran and the Shiites. The Vice President later apologized for speaking the truth, but the cat was out of the bag. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Why Islamic State Is Winning.”]
Saudi Arabia’s Dirty Hands
The Saudi role in this regional chaos dates back to its financing of fundamentalist Wahabbi teachings and its encouragement of Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980. Later that decade, the Saudis co-sponsored – with the CIA – the Afghan mujahedeen who fought a Soviet-backed secular government in Kabul. The Afghan conflict poured billions of dollars in weapons into the hands of Islamic extremists, including a Saudi named Osama bin Laden, and created the basis for an international jihadist terror movement called Al Qaeda.
Even after Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials shielded the Saudis from the wrath of the American people. After consulting with Saudi Ambassador Bandar bin-Sultan, Bush agreed to let bin Laden’s family members in the United States board the first planes let back into the air, with only perfunctory FBI questioning. Later, Bush suppressed a 28-page section of the congressional 9/11 report about Saudi support for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were identified as Saudi nationals. (Obama has continued to withhold those 28 pages.)
But the Saudis were not always happy with Bush’s actions. In 2003, when Bush’s invasion of Iraq had the unintended consequence of replacing a Sunni autocrat, Saddam Hussein, with Shiite autocrats, the Saudis saw the regional balance of power tilt toward Shiite-ruled Iran, which suddenly had allies in power in Baghdad.
In response, the Saudis stepped up their support of Sunni militant movements in Iraq and then Syria with the goal of frustrating Iraq’s government and removing Syria’s Assad, an Alawite (a Shiite spinoff sect), and replacing him with a Sunni.
As Saudi Arabia intervened more aggressively in this regional fight against Iran, the Saudi royals reached out to Israel, which shared Riyadh’s hostility toward Iran. Israel also favored “regime change” in Syria and saw the war there as a way also to undermine Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, a Shiite force on Israel’s northern border. This de facto Saudi-Israeli alliance guaranteed strong support within the U.S. government and media for the effort to remove Assad from power. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Did Money Seal Israeli-Saudi Alliance?”]
The Gulf states also recognized that the most effective fighters against Assad were the Sunni jihadists, especially Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State. Thus, much of the Gulf money and weapons flowed in those directions, as Biden revealed.
So, in regards to Sanders’s lament about the need for the super-rich Saudis to “get their hands dirty,” the truth is that the Saudis have long been getting their hands not only dirty but bloody.
A Looming Genocide
The Sunni terror groups operating in Iraq and Syria have served essentially as Saudi Arabia’s irregular forces fighting a sectarian war against the Shiites. In Syria, these Sunni extremists also have targeted the Christians, Alawites and other minorities for possible extermination if Assad’s military collapses.
Besides these proxy forces, the Saudis have intervened directly in Yemen with an indiscriminate bombing campaign against Houthi rebels who follow a version of Shiite Islam. The Saudi attacks have not only killed thousands of civilians but created a humanitarian crisis in the poverty-stricken country on Saudi Arabia’s southern border.
Thus, Sanders’s idea that – just because the Saudis are rich – they should expand their military operations throughout the region is as dangerous as it is ludicrous. It would guarantee a major escalation of the bloodletting and the chaos. The proposal only serves to underscore how bereft the Democrats are when it comes to expressing a coherent alternative foreign policy as a challenge to the dominance of the neocons and their liberal-interventionist cohorts.
So, what could be an alternative that would allow Democratic candidates to make sense and avoid being dismissed as unrealistic pacifists or foolhardy isolationists? And no progressive should underestimate the political risk that goes with any deviation from the “tough-guy/gal-ism” of Official Washington. The easiest attack line against anyone advocating restraint and negotiations is a reference to Neville Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of Adolf Hitler at Munich before World War II.
But there are politically savvy ways to counter the power of the neocons and the liberal hawks:
–Stand for transparency in foreign policy. Instead of letting neocons and liberal hawks shape the narratives of foreign crises by demonizing foes and hiding inconvenient truths, demand as much disclosure as possible especially regarding pivotal events. Over the past several decades, the neocons and liberal hawks have monopolized the information flows, allowing them to exaggerate threats beyond what the actual intelligence supports. We have seen this pattern in every crisis, from Iraq’s bogus WMD threat in 2003 to the mystery of who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014. American voters would not punish a candidate for insisting that more information be shared with the people.
–On a related point, repudiate the notion that information should be shaped into a strategic weapon of propaganda warfare. It is now a trendy concept inside the State Department and Washington think tanks that clever propaganda can be used as a “soft power” weapon to weaken an adversary. Some liberal interventionists think this “soft power” manipulation of facts is preferable to “hard power” military action, but that misses the point, since deceiving the public, which must include the American people as well as a foreign target audience, is an assault on democracy. Also, as we have seen, propaganda can be a gateway drug to full-scale war.
No Entangling Alliances
–Remind voters about the wisdom of the early U.S. presidents who warned repeatedly against foreign entangling alliances. Endless warfare against exaggerated bogeymen around the world may sound tough during a debate or a talking-head moment on TV but such belligerence inevitably destroys the Republic. A more recent example of how foolhardy hasty interventionism can be is the Iraq War, which was embraced by not only neocons but many liberals who fancied themselves as doves until they realized that their careers might suffer so they reinvented themselves as hawks. As an opponent of the Iraq War, Sanders, in particular, is in a very strong position to hammer away the “geniuses” who gave us the disastrous Iraq War.
–This is harder but be prepared to stand in the way of the next propaganda-driven stampede against some demonized foreign “enemy.” To do so requires some political courage. You will surely be called a “(fill-in-the-blank) apologist,” but respond by noting the much greater danger of another “group think.” Remind people how other Orwellian “five minutes hate” sessions against various foreign leaders led the United States into terrible mistakes and bloody misjudgments.
–Sometimes, non-governmental organizations with labels asserting their commitment to “human rights” or “democracy promotion” can be very successful in focusing attention on some particularly offensive act in a target country (while ignoring similar or worse offenses in “friendly” countries). Remember, this is how propaganda works – by using selective outrage. Not all NGOs are fair-minded observers. Some are fronts for governments and special interests.
–Stress the value of “realism” in foreign policy, i.e., the concept of weighing the cons as well as the pros of some intervention. Just because taking action at some passion-filled moment may feel good, it doesn’t necessarily do good.
–Reflect on how America does best, both economically and geopolitically, when countries are at relative peace and have achieved some prosperity. America’s greatest “soft power” is its ability to sell its products to the world and to benefit from the symbiosis that comes when people around the world appreciate U.S. inventiveness and innovation. By destabilizing entire regions and promiscuously imposing economic sanctions, the U.S. government disrupts these positive relationships. Perhaps a new slogan could be: “Make money, not war.”
Just as police domestically should work on conflict resolution rather than pulling out their tasers and guns, U.S. diplomats should concentrate on deescalating crises rather than swaggering in with harsh rhetoric, sanction threats and “regime change” strategies.
–Though this point is risky, suggest that America might benefit from rearranging its alliances in the Middle East, confronting Saudi Arabia over its covert support of terrorism and demanding that Israel finally resolve its disruptive conflict with the Palestinians. As part of this shift, the United States could encourage Iran to play a stabilizing role in Iraq and Syria and push both governments to share power more equitably with Sunnis, thus undercutting jihadist violence. Russia, with its influence in Iran and Syria, could be helpful, too.
But can an alternative foreign policy really be built around truth-telling, resistance to “perception management” and respectful diplomacy even toward adversarial governments? Obviously, a big problem is the U.S. news media which tends to hype whatever propaganda is being spread about some designated villain and then berates anyone who dares suggest that there might be two sides to the story.
Building a more independent and fair-minded media will be a long-term project. Right now, challenges to the latest “group think” are confined mostly to some Internet sites and small-audience radio shows. And there’s the additional confusion because some hip Internet sites are simply the latest fad in propaganda, essentially fronts for the same misinformation that gets spread by the mainstream media except operating behind the façade of “civic journalism” or some innocent-sounding goals like “fighting corruption” and “protecting human rights.”
Yet, despite all the difficulties that a politician would confront if he or she chose to strike out in a more peaceful and more truthful direction, there is urgency to undertake this mission.
For one, continued U.S. confusion over the civil war in Syria – whether it be Hillary Clinton’s fanciful notions about arming the non-existent “moderate” rebels or Bernie Sanders’s silly idea about demanding that Saudi Arabia subdue the Mideast by force – could lead to a genuine catastrophe if the black flag of Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State is raised over Damascus.
Between Al Qaeda plotting new terror attacks on the West and the Islamic State chopping off the heads of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other “heretics,” there might be little choice for the U.S. president – whoever he or she is – to intervene on a massive scale, launching a new hopeless war that could well be the final death blow to the American Republic.
Even more dangerous is the showdown with nuclear-armed Russia over Ukraine. Since February 2014 when Assistant Secretary of State Nuland plotted “regime change” in Kiev, the American public has been fed a steady diet of anti-Russian propaganda with the special demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Though a resolution to the Ukrainian civil war should have been relatively simple – autonomy for ethnic Russians in the east and respect for Crimea’s secession referendum from Ukraine – the extreme rhetoric about “Russian aggression” and the West’s imposition of economically disruptive sanctions have ratcheted up tensions and raised the possibility of a nuclear war.
Though all might hope that cooler heads will prevail before the nuclear codes come out, the West’s “tough-guy/gal-ism” over Ukraine has contributed to less existential though still serious problems, including the risk of another global financial meltdown because the sanctions have helped stall Europe’s already sluggish recovery from the Wall Street crash of 2008.
At this moment when the world’s economy needs more commerce and more consumer buying power, the Ukraine crisis has contributed to less business and less spending, dragging down the economies of China and the United States as well as Europe.
Meanwhile, the neocon-liberal-hawk-driven chaos of the Middle East has added to Europe’s budgetary and political pressures by flooding the Continent with refugees and migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Africa. Not only is this humanitarian crisis deepening Europe’s economic woes, it is threatening to splinter the Continent’s fragile unity with many countries refusing to open their borders to these waves of humanity.
Given these cascading dangers, it is well past time for American politicians of both parties to get serious about practical ways to ease geopolitical tensions, not exacerbate them. Instead, pretty much all we’re getting from Republicans and Democrats is more unrealistic tough talk.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book,America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon andbarnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
I was in my teenage years when people around me spoke about globalization and whether we should stand up against it or support it. It was something yet to come, or at least our perception was that it is not yet here, but it is coming, so we should react somehow.
In many ways globalization was an abstract thing. We were often explained that globalization will diminish the role of our culture locally and globally. We were told that globalization will bring new values that are not dear to us. We were even scared by losing our language, as everyone might start speaking one universal language.
Whether we were too young to be exposed to such an analysis, or whether people who spoke about threats of globalization didn’t analyse it themselves, one aspect of globalization was omitted from these discussions, i.e. economic globalization and its effect on urban transformation.
I believe humans are not able to foresee everything through analysis. Some people may have good analytical skills, but even they may be amazed at the lack of reaction of masses towards one injustice (e.g. war), yet over-reaction to another injustice which seemed to be doomed to remain unnoticed (e.g. tree cutting in parks). Yet, it is easier to analyze when a situation is happening in one part of the globe, since by following its developments and by adapting it to a particular location, one can foresee its effect on another area of the globe.
Today it is clear that the main goal of globalization has been economic, i.e. opening the markets of new countries for successful brands which have covered the local markets and need to expand to other markets for growth and more profits. The first phase of this process is now being transformed into a new phase as the successful brands not only want to enter new markets, but also make sure, that nothing in the new location hinders their business, whether it is the different local culture or local legal practices. For this purpose, global brands have forced governments to negotiate and eventually empower these brands with rights, which will protect them from local governments’ deliberate actions.
But what we and the big brands understand under “deliberate actions” is not always the same. It can mean state’s deliberate overtaxing of a brand to hinder its activities, but it can also mean state enforcing regulations over the brand that demand respect for labour rights of its employees. As long as the purpose of the businesses has been profit increase, the quantity of its monetary loss as a result of such “deliberate actions”, rather than the quality of the reasons behind such actions, has been central.
The good news is that fierce competition aiming at solely profit increase is nowadays becoming less acceptable by wider public. Parallel to the development of socially responsible businesses, in many West-European countries people have now stood up against trade agreements which threaten local governments with loss of control over their people, territories and local laws, in one word – their sovereignty. However, in other parts of the world, for example in Turkey, people still have to come to realization of such a threat.
A more visible and yet less analyzed impact of economic globalization has been urban transformation. Travelling in towns and cities of e.g. the UK may no longer be interesting, unless each town has something unique to offer. Almost every city/town centre offers the same shops, foods, brands, attractions. It has its positive side, since it makes it less stressful to move from one town to another for example due to the job, as you will always find your favourite brands nearby. But its negative side is that towns and cities lose their face.
For tourists who want to find something original, it becomes a treasure hunt game to search and find some café or store that is ultimately local. I remember a man complaining of Costas and Neros (UK equivalent of Starbucks) invading their small town and pushing his cafe out of the town. On the one hand his cafe offered a bit more expensive variety, but then one could have coffee with a home-made cookie, probably not found elsewhere, as well as an interior specific to that area. But of course this may not be the most interesting detail of the journey, if you are heading to some place like Stonehenge. But how many towns and cities can boast having Stonehenge nearby?
The other day as I was walking downtown Yerevan (Armenia), more specifically through its relatively newly constructed area known as Northern Avenue, I was having déjà vu, as if I was walking on Istiklal avenue of Istanbul. Both are filled with various brands and stores, people, who come here to earn money either by playing music, painting or selling some stuff. Other people come here for cafes. Green areas are close to non-existence. At nights the only lights come from the street lights. Even construction-or rather say gentrification- is still an ongoing process, threatening complete erasure of history both on Istiklal and Northern Avenue. In 2013 Emek Theater on Istiklal was lost to a shopping mall project, following the fate of Deveaux Apartment that was transformed into yet another mall on Istiklal. A 78-year-old underwear shop, the last one on Istiklal owned by a non-Muslim, is also at risk of closure. In Yerevan, fashionable and non-affordable buildings on Northern Avenue came to replace shabby houses. As if the whole compensation hustle that continues until today was not enough, plans to deconstruct another old building on the same avenue is currently circulating.
With slight differences and some local adaptations, the old atmosphere in the cities of this region is also shifting towards profit driven western types of cities, probably having the goal to one day come closer to the New-York city style. More skyscrapers can already be spotted in Istanbul nowadays and more efforts are acquired to preserve green areas of Yerevan.
Urban transformation, however, also shapes mindset of locals, who as a result of non-participation in decision making related to transformations of their cities become disconnected from the city they live in. More construction projects aim to satisfy the demand of the businesses rather than the needs of the local population and overall aesthetic requirements. Such transformations make the local population a passive receiver of these changes, which eventually makes them inactive in other areas of local governance too.
So far, resistance to primarily this type of decision making has sparked local protests in the region. However, there is certainly need for transparent public decision-making on the one hand, but also support for the local economy on the other hand. Boosting local products, be it textile, food or other goods is not just positive for local economies, but it also has the potential to develop creativity of the local minds in terms of producing goods and styles, including architectural styles, thus shifting the locals from passive receivers of world trends into active local creators of own designs, why not in fusion with some traditional features specific to that area.
The British political and media elite have been agreed on one thing this summer: the need to character-assassinate Jeremy Corbyn, the only half-decent politician (make that, human being) running for the Labour leadership.
If Corbyn wins, it would be the first time in living memory that the UK has had a Labour leader who is actually of the left. It is a prospect terrifying our supposedly liberal media, including the BBC and most of the Guardian’s senior staff, from Polly Toynbee to Jonathan Freedland.
Because all indications are that Corbyn will win in a fair fight, the caretaker Labour leadership is trying to stitch up the election to ensure he loses. Corbyn’s entry into the race has led to a tripling of Labour’s membership, as those who had grown disillusioned with Labour politics or joined the Greens consider returning to the Labour fold. You would think the Labour party would be cock-a-hoop. Think again.
The problem is that, if Labour admits Corbyn is actually harnessing massive support from the real left, it would also have to concede that long ago it departed from its roots, becoming just another wing of the neoliberal elite. And more significantly, it would also have to be prepared to contemplate changing course, opening itself up to the possibility that someone with social democratic convictions might again lead the party.
Neither is about to happen, so Labour is finding the flimsiest of excuses to purge itself of any voters it can identify as likely to back Corbyn in the leadership vote. Farcically, among those is Mark Serwotka, the leader of one of the UK’s biggest trade unions, after he said he would consider affiliating his PCS civil servants union with Labour if Corbyn wins.
Below is a great article from Kerry-anne Mendoza, another of those purged. She’s not a Tory mischief-maker or a Militant entryist. She’s an old-fashioned Labour supporter. Her mistake was to tweet her local Labour MP before the last election to say she would be voting Green after becoming fed up with the neoliberal takeover of Labour. That was the pretext to bar her from the coming leadership vote.
As she points out, she’s exactly the kind of voter the Labour party needs if it ever wants to form a government again. Instead she’s been cast out.
Notice also how the self-righteous New Labour elites characterise her – a long-standing Labour supporter who became disillusioned with the party – as an “infiltrator”. They were so sure of themselves they even included her in a list of people they had barred from the vote that they then issued to the media. The list ended up being published uncritically by the Guardian.
If despite all this, Corbyn does win, there can be no doubt it will be far from the end of the story. The Labour party establishment will make the job of leading the party impossible, and Corbyn will face an even more intense campaign to discredit him from all parts of the media.
If there is any consolation to be drawn from these events, it is this: the pervasive myth that Britain still enjoys pluralism in its politics and media may finally be unmasked.
Documents related to discussions between US, British and European officials and multinational tobacco corporations concerning the regulation of tobacco under a new trade agreement were censored by the European Commission.
This censorship has stoked fears that Big Tobacco is planning an end run around existing laws concerning the use of tobacco with the assistance of public officials working on the trade deal.
According to Paul Gallagher, writing today in The Independent, activists with Corporate Europe Observatory revealed the meetings through a Freedom of Information request, but the documents were heavily edited:
Almost all the content, including the names of officials and tobacco lobbyists involved, the issues discussed and even the dates some meetings took place, had been redacted.
TTIP is an agreement that parallels the corporate power grab knows as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but is limited to the United States and Europe. Like TPP, TTIP is written by and for transnational business interests looking to loosen regulations.
Among the objectives of TTIP is further deregulating Wall Street/finance capital, lowering food safety and environmental standards, and weakening trade unions. In other words, the same agenda Big Business has always had but with new legal, regulatory, and political tools to see their agenda achieved.
The new order brought in under TTIP and TPP creates opportunities for Big Tobacco. The further empowerment of the corporate sector under the trade deals means businesses can sue governments to weaken regulations. It’s something Big Tobacco has already started doing using existing international agreements.
In 2011, Australia enacted a “plain packaging” law for cigarettes that required cigarette boxes to be in simple colors with an image showing the dangers of smoking. Philip Morris International sued the government of Australia and lost. But previous to the law being enacted and the lawsuit being filed, Philip Morris had moved the trademark related to the Australian market to Philip Morris Asia in Hong Kong.
Will TTIP contain provisions making it easier for Big Tobacco to sue the US and countries in Europe for harming their investments by passing anti-smoking laws? Might that be what government officials and the tobacco companies wanted censored?
Today, Global Research brings to the attention of its readers a list of articles focussing on the war in Yemen, the immigration crisis in the Mediterranean, the social, political and economic impact of global environmental decay.
With almost a whimper, the Western media reported that the US-backed regimes of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and their auxiliary fighters drawn from Al Qaeda have begun carrying out what is the ground invasion of Yemen. Along with an ongoing naval blockade and months of bombing raids, the ground invasion adds a lethal new dimension to the conflict – for both side
How did the US propel itself so far ahead, to the point that it could, alone, comprise about half of global military spending? Professor of history at Cornell University: “The idea that the commodification and suffering and forced labor of African-Americans is what made the United States powerful and rich is not an idea that people necessarily are happy to hear. Yet it is the truth.”
Around 50 refugees and asylum seekers were found dead in the hold of a boat off the coast of Libya Wednesday morning. While rescuers were able to save 439 other people on board, the latest reports indicated that 51 people had died.
Humankind has a choice to make, a stark and very clear choice: toxic pesticides which kill the bees, or the bees themselves which pollinate our plants, bring life to our fields and food on our tables. No bees, no plants, no food. The bees disappear, we follow. However, certain powerful lobbies, and governments, could not care less.
This week marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on the US Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. The world looked on in horror as events unfolded a decade ago… Tens of thousands of residents, unable to escape the storm’s path, were trapped in their homes, in many cases clinging to rooftops, without food or drinking water. Thousands remained stranded for days in horrific conditions at the New Orleans Superdome. Hundreds of patients were trapped in hospitals that had lost electrical power.
Proving yet again the ubiquitous ties between government and private interests, four-star General Ray Odierno — who retired as the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff on August 14 — made a rather abrupt leap in career choice to senior adviser for JPMorgan Chase less than a week later.
Not that the commander of the 4th Infantry Division — whose notorious reputation during the Iraq “War” included a penchant for indiscriminate, mass detention and extrajudicial killings of civilians — was otherwise considering humanitarian work when the megabank advising position happened to open up. It would seem the new role is perfect for Odierno, as he will be advising CEO Jamie Dimon, the Board of Directors, and the Operating Committee with “international planning and country risk analysis, technology, operations, and the rapidly evolving issues of physical and cyber security,” according to a company statement.
JPMorgan’s statement mentions the ex-general’s role with “physical security” in his upcoming duties, but even a cursory glance at the practices by those under his command in Iraq makes those goals seem, well, questionable.
A military intelligence specialist at the time, Sgt. Kayla Williams, said they passed by Odierno’s 4th Infantry Division, whose soldiers appeared “mean and ugly. They stood on top of their trucks, their weapons pointed directly at civilians . . . What could these locals possibly have done? Why was this intimidation necessary? No one explained anything, but it looked weird and felt wrong.”
Though troops under Odierno’s command were credited with capturing Saddam Hussein, their philosophy — which can be summarized as “round[ing] up all the military-aged males” because they didn’t know (or bother to find out) “who’s good or bad” — was dubious for transforming erstwhile neutral civilians into willing combatants.
In fact, a member of the psychological operations unit attached to Odierno’s artillery brigade found it necessary to file a formal complaint concerning those troops’ treatment of Iraqi civilians.
After returning from Iraq, Odierno achieved the rank of Chief of Staff in 2011 — while still maintaining his support of the Bush administration’s decision to invade the country in the first place. According to The Intercept, he explained earlier this year that Saddam “was moving toward terrorism and I believe that if he continued to have problems, we don’t know what he would have done in terms of being part of the problem with terrorism.”
Though Odierno’s abrupt transplant from top military commander to high-powered, international banking adviser might have you shaking your head, such a convenient arrangement is far from atypical. As reported in the Boston Globe in 2010, 80% of generals with at least three stars found placement as executives or consultants in the private sector — largely within the defense industry — nearly immediately upon retirement.
“Ray has dedicated his life to serving our country, rising to the top of the Army with proven leadership that delivers results,” stated Dimon in the announcement of Odierno’s new position. “His experience, vision and impressive track record of success when confronting overwhelming challenges will provide significant value to our leadership team, the firm and our clients across a wide range of issues.”
Success, it would seem, is in the eye of the beholder.
She joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include social justice, police brutality, exposing the truth behind propaganda, and general government accountability. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Ohio. Learn more about Bernish here!
The U.S. policy in the Middle East has proved unsustainable once again. The Pentagon’s first attempt to train Syrian opposition to fight ISIS ended in “an abject failure”, CBS News reported in early August. The contingent of 54 fighters was trained by the U.S. military at a base in Turkey and sent across the border into Northern Syria. But instead of facing ISIS, they unexpectedly came under attack by Al-Nusra Front. As a result, the American-trained rebels scattered. Some were captured, some fled to Turkey, others were simply missing or likely turned the side and joined the Islamic State.
It was clear from the very beginning that the costly program to train “good” rebels to fight “bad” ones was doomed to failure. The Pentagon planned to spend half a billion dollars on the program. The U.S. has already faced misfortunes like that in its history. As we know, Washington took part in the creation of Al-Qaeda, the largest terrorist organization in the world until now. But as soon as the fighters got stronger they turned their weapons against the Americans.
The same situation is developing around the so called New Syrian Force. Returning to Syria the Pentagon-trained rebels joined the organization they were supposed to struggle against.
It is hard to escape a conclusion that the U.S. doesn’t learn from its own mistakes. But the situation may be much more complex. Given the Pentagon’s great experience in covert operations it may appear that the U.S. special services planned the rebels would turn the side beforehand. To cover this fact the U.S. defense and state departments usually very sophisticated in concealing or justifying their failures were easy to accept their mistake this time.
The Islamic State that was supposedly also created by Washington has been in great need of qualified personnel of late to operate the U.S. weapons and equipment lost or intentionally left by the Iraqi forces retreating from Mosul in June 2014.
Haider al-Abadi, the new Iraqi prime minister, announced in the early June 2015 that terrorists had captured a great number of U.S.-made weaponry including 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles, at least 40 M1A1 main battle tanks, 74,000 machine guns, and as many as 52 M198 howitzer mobile gun systems, plus small arms and ammunition. The U.S. mass media wrote that “the U.S.has armed ISIS”.
Several dozen people that joined the ISIS would hardly change the situation in Syria but they evidently were not supposed to. They may become instructors and train Islamic State fighters to use American weapons.
However, the U.S. is playing very dangerous games with terrorists. Washington’s model of controlled chaos in the Middle East may go out of order at any moment and hit the Americans back. In that case thousands people would pay with their lives for all those covert operations.
Raising the US flag in Havana, John Kerry admits that US policy toward Cuba has failed. But he restates US determination that Cuba be democratic. Democracy, by definition, is rule by the people. What this means is not obvious. Simón Bolívar, visiting Europe in 1805, wrote that “the great problem of human freedom [was] … inconceivable [to Europeans], a mystery that would only be made clear in the New World”. It has been made clear in the New World, or at least clearer, if we care to notice.
Bolívar was a liberal, a man of the Enlightenment, admirer of Hobbes and Locke, Montesquieu and Rousseau. But Bolívar considered European philosophers naïve about political freedom. They were ignorant about colonies, not knowing what it meant to be “even lower than servitude . . . lost, or worse, absent from the universe”. Bolívar famously commented that Latin Americans had been sent misery in the name of liberty.
José Martí warned “slaves of Liberty” about the same naïve conception that bothered Bolívar. Leader of Cuba’s last independence war against Spain, Martí predicted political freedoms would not endure without a deeper kind of freedom, rooted in self-knowledge. He went so far as to proclaim, in his influential “Our America”, that the biggest hurdle was not, after all, US aggression; rather, it was that Latin America “show herself as she is … rapidly overcoming the crushing weight of her past”.
He raised a question that would not occur to European philosophers: If one is lost or absent from the universe, how is one known? How does one know others? If one rules the world, one doesn’t ask how the world’s peoples are known. One assumes they are known or one doesn’t care, or need to.
Martí, as revolutionary, articulated for his region an ancient philosophical imperative: Know thyself. Unlike Europeans, enthralled by what Che Guevara called “the myth of the self-made man”, Bolívar, Martí and Guevara knew the dehumanizing “logic” of imperialism.They wanted human liberation and they did not take the “human” part of that concept for granted.
Knowing dehumanization, one wonders how the invisible and the voiceless, and their real needs, become identifiable, including to themselves. This motivated Bolívar in his drive to transform institutions, and in his insistence on strong central government to do so. It motivated Martí, who abandoned liberalism in his youth, and whose independence program, as a result, was a “revolution in thinking” .
Statue of José Martí in Havana.
Even before Martí, radical Cuban liberation activists condemned a popular presupposition of European philosophy: We act on “our own” when we follow our dreams just because they are ours. Some call it “the bourgeois myth of self-origination”, the idea that we ourselves cause our desires. In contrast, Guevara referred to a cage: One attempts to escape alienation by doing one’s own thing but the remedy “bears the germs of the same sickness”, not permitting “escape from the invisible cage”.
The cage is not just power structures. It is also accepted beliefs. Martí mistrusted “the Yankee and European book”, at least for democracy, because “imported forms and ideas … have in their lack of local reality” prevented real self-government. Some of those ideas were about freedom itself. Martí praised the poet José María de Heredia who dared “to be free in a time of pretentious slaves”, suggesting that “pretentious slaves” are “so accustomed . . . to servitude that [they become] … slaves of Liberty!”
He noted the prevalent idea that “there could be no theme better, more stimulating or conducive to depth and grandeur than the study of oneself”. That idea remains prevalent. It undermines knowledge and understanding. Martí noticed that someone who looks inside themselves for the grounds of personal freedom risks delusion. Such a person, believing the “myth of the self-made man”, is like “an oyster in its shell, seeing only the prison that traps him and believing, in the darkness, that it is the world”.
Martí and Máximo Gomez knew the stakes. Thus, the Montecristi Manifesto (1895) of the Cuban Revolutionary Party “declares [the Party’s] faith [that it can know] . . . the reality of the ideas that produce or extinguish deeds and the reality of the deeds that are born from ideas”. Not often do revolutionary leaders, heading into war, express concern for the foundations of knowledge. For Martí, though, the struggle for independence was not “between civilization or barbarity” (i.e. “developed” or ‘developing”). Rather, it targeted the “false erudition” persuading Latin Americans they know what these are.
The question occurred to Eugène Ionesco, concerned about fascism. His 1959 play Rhinoceros is about a small town where people turn into rhinoceroses. At first, everyone is horrified by the rhinoceroses but as more people become rhinos, the change is seductive. Even the town’s logician becomes a rhinoceros, wanting to “move with the times”. Finally, one man, Berenger, remains. Now he is the monster.
Ionesco said his play is about totalitarianism, but not political. Indeed, George Orwell wrote in the original preface to Animal Farm, lost for 25 years, that the greatest threat to freedom of thought and expression is not authoritarian government after all. Rather, it is a prevailing orthodoxy of beliefs: “Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark,” not by official bans but because of “an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right- thinking people will accept without question”.
This includes ways of identifying oneself and one’s aspirations. Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci commented that everyone is a philosopher, meaning that everyone, whatever their society or social role, deliberating daily about their lives, employs ideas about what it means to be human, usually without noticing. At each such moment, we bolster an existing conception or, by thinking differently, work toward a better one.
In the end, Berenger reminds himself that “[a] man’s not ugly to look at, not ugly at all!”’. However, a few sentences later he says “I should have gone with them while there was still time. . . . Now I am a monster, just a monster”. Berenger’s conviction about his humanity waivers. He might, after all, go with the rhinos without regret, suggesting that rhinoceritis is not as serious a problem as identifying it as a problem, once everyone is a monster.
Many acknowledge that after three hundred years, capitalism has shown itself to be incapable of promoting human flourishing. But few refer to this problem as one about what human flourishing means or, better, what “human” means. Speaking in Venezuela in 1999, Fidel Castro suggested that people are confused by “nicely sweetened but rotten ideas … that man is an animal moved only by a carrot or when beaten by a whip”. They are confused about what it means to be human.
Even fewer see the problem as being about how to know what it means to be human. One reason is the popular belief that there is nothing to know. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor says we live in an “age of authenticity” in which what matters is personal choice, the more the better. One does not have to look far, he suggests, to see that human meaningfulness is whatever one believes it to be.
In the Ebola crisis of 2014, TheWall Street Journal reported: “Few have heeded the call, but one country has responded in strength: Cuba.” Cuba sent more than 450 doctors and nurses, chosen from over 15,000 volunteers, by far the largest medical mission of any country.
It is worth asking why. Cubans, more than 15,000 of them, saw the fate of West Africans as their own, and volunteered immediately. The “nicely sweetened but rotten ideas” that human beings are best motivated by material incentives don’t explain how this is possible. But it can be explained – by ideas predating the Cuban revolution, and even Marx.
They are philosophical ideas expressing the relationship between human beings and nature, implying that one person’s life (causally) affects others’. It is a view common to various (non-European) cultures, including indigenous peoples. It is scientific, based in cause and effect, acknowledging, as was clear to Martí, that “through the wonderful compensation of Nature whoever gives of himself, grows”. On such a view we need to engage with and change the world in order to know it, and its peoples, including ourselves.
Cuba has quietly challenged European ideas for 200 years, especially the cherished liberal idea that we live best when we live “from the inside”, satisfying desires, following personal dreams. One reason the idea fails is that knowing one’s desires is not automatic. If rhinoceritis threatens, and it does, Martí’s “revolution in thinking” is worth noting, in the North. We won’t realize democracy if, aiming for freedom, we are unwittingly seeing an oyster’s shell and believing in the darkness that it is the world.
Differences between the US and Cuba are not, most interestingly, about the Cold War. Kerry’s goal, probably, involves counting the political parties running in Cuban elections. The idea of a single party was favoured by Martí, who was not a Leninist or even, strictly speaking, a Marxist. He knew the need to build more appropriate institutions, resources for more adequate “forms and ideas”, and he knew appropriate direction was required to do that. We might learn from such traditions. Or, at least, we could learn from the questions that explain them. The issue of Cuba’s democracy, and ours, would be more interesting.
 Bolívar, Simón. The Jamaica letter. In David Bushnell (Ed.), Simón Bolívar, el libertador. (Frederick H. Fornoff, Trans., pp. 12– 30). New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003. (Originally published 1815) pp. 19– 20.
 E.g. Rodríguez, Pedro Paulo. Pensar, prever, server: El ideario de José Martí Havana, Cuba: Ediciones Unión, 2012, p. 13
 Rodríguez, op. cit., p. 10
 Guevara, Che. Man and socialism in Cuba. In David Deutschman (Ed.), The Che Guevara reader. New York, NY: Ocean Press, 1997, p. 207.
As outlandish as Donald Trump is as a presidential candidate, it’s pretty obvious why he’s topping the polls of Republican voters: he’s tipping over the carts of “politics as usual” that Americans understandably hate. In a much more responsible way, Bernie Sanders is doing the same with Democratic voters though he’s still trailing Hillary Clinton in most polls.
One of the strongest arguments for Trump and Sanders is that they have refused to prostitute themselves in the scramble for million-dollar donations, a core corruption of the U.S. political process. Trump, a real estate mogul and reality-TV star, boasts about how he rejects big-money donors because he can finance his own campaign.
Sanders relies heavily on small donations and turned down an offer to create a “super PAC” that could have raised millions of dollars from wealthy supporters. Sanders’s campaign says its average donation is $31.30 as Sanders has tapped broad support among progressives in raising $15.2 million as of July, an impressive sum but still “far behind Mrs. Clinton’s fund-raising juggernaut,” the New York Times reported.
Neither Trump nor Sanders has competed in what many political analysts consider the key initial test for any “serious” candidate – the “silent primary” of lining up super-rich Americans who pour millions of dollars into campaign war chests so candidates can hire high-priced consultants and finance negative TV ads to tear down opponents. That process has made candidates from both parties dependent on special interests.
Ironically, for a nation that denounces Iran, Cuba and other countries for having special panels of religious elders or party leaders who approve rosters of acceptable candidates, the United States now has a political system that requires most candidates to parade themselves before billionaires who then select the finalists much like the judges do at one of Trump’s beauty pageants.
Trump is not wrong when he bluntly describes how this process works, noting that the wealthy donors are sure to show up after the election with their hands out for favors if their hand-picked candidate wins. The presidency and pretty much every elected office in the United States are up for sale.
Americans across the political spectrum are rightly disgusted by this corrupt system and thus Trump stands out as someone whose personal wealth and almost comedic self-confidence make him harder to buy than, say, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker or almost any of the other Republican candidates. For different reasons, democratic socialist Bernie Sanders does too.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is part of a political dynasty that has made an art form out of vacuuming up money from Wall Street, Hollywood and everywhere in between as well as faraway lands. Bill and Hillary Clinton have sucked up million-dollar bundles of campaign cash, six-figure speaking fees from mega-corporations, and massive donations from foreign potentates to the Clinton Foundation.
With the Clintons, it seems like everything is for sale, leaving much of the public dubious about where their true allegiances lie. They appear to move through the political landscape triangulating as they go, calculating what is most advantageous to say at each moment and then immediately recalculating for the next moment.
As a U.S. Senator and as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton either showed extraordinarily bad judgment or simply substituted this family process of endless triangulation for what passes as judgment. For instance, she voted for the Iraq War in 2002 not apparently out of any firm conviction that it was the right thing to do for U.S. national security but rather what looked best then for her political career.
At nearly every juncture, Hillary Clinton has opted for what seemed like the safe play at the time. Indeed, it is hard to think of any case in which she showed anything approaching genuine political courage or statesmanlike wisdom. Here is just a short list of her misjudgments after the Iraq War:
–In summer 2006, as a New York senator, Clinton supported Israel’s air war against southern Lebanon which killed more than 1,000 Lebanese. At a pro-Israel rally in New York on July 17, 2006, Clinton shared a stage with Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman, a renowned Muslim basher who proudly defended Israel’s massive violence against targets in Lebanon.
“Let us finish the job,” Gillerman told the crowd. “We will excise the cancer in Lebanon” and “cut off the fingers” of Hezbollah. Responding to international concerns that Israel was using “disproportionate” force in bombing Lebanon and killing hundreds of civilians, Gillerman said, “You’re damn right we are.” [NYT, July 18, 2006] Clinton did not protest Gillerman’s remarks.
–In late 2006, Clinton fell for the false conventional wisdom that President George W. Bush’s nomination of Robert Gates to be Secretary of Defense was an indication that Bush was preparing to wind down the Iraq War when it actually signaled the opposite, the so-called “surge.” Later, to avoid further offending the Democratic base as she ran for president, she opposed the “surge,” though she later acknowledged that she did so for political reasons, according to Gates’s memoir Duty.
In the early months of the Obama administration, with Gates still Defense Secretary and Clinton the new Secretary of State, Gates reported what he regarded as a stunning admission by Clinton, writing:
“Hillary told the president that her opposition to the surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary [in 2008]. She went on to say, ‘The Iraq surge worked.’”
–In 2009, Clinton joined with Gates and General David Petraeus to pressure President Barack Obama into a similar “surge” in Afghanistan which – like the earlier “surge” in Iraq – did little more than get another 1,000 U.S. soldiers killed along with many more Iraqis and Afghans while extending the bloody chaos in both countries.
–Also, in 2009, Clinton supported a right-wing coup in Honduras, overthrowing left-of-center President Manuel Zelaya.
–In 2011, Clinton helped spearhead the U.S.-backed “regime change” in Libya, which led to the torture/murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as Clinton chuckled, “we came, we saw, he died.” Like the “regime change” in Iraq, the Libyan “regime change” left the once-prosperous nation in bloody anarchy with major gains by Islamic extremists, including the Islamic State.
–Also, in 2011, Clinton pressed for a similar “regime change” in Syria adopting the popular though false notion that a “moderate opposition” would neatly fill the void after the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. The reality was that Al Qaeda and its spin-off, the Islamic State, stood to be the real beneficiaries of the U.S.-supported destabilization of Syria. These Islamic terrorist groups now have major footholds in all three Arab countries where Clinton supported “regime change” – Iraq, Syria and Libya.
Throughout her time as Senator and Secretary of State, Clinton supported the aggressive foreign policy prescriptions of the neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist allies. In each of these cases, the neocons and liberal hawks were dominating Official Washington’s debate and it would have taken some political courage to stand in their way. Hillary Clinton never did.
The enduring mystery with Hillary Clinton is whether she is a true neocon or whether she simply judges that embracing neocon positions is the “safest” course for her career – that by parroting the neocon “group think” she can win praise from the national-security elite and that big donors who favor a hard-line strategy for the Middle East will reward her with campaign contributions.
Whatever the case, Clinton has carefully curried favor with key neocons, including consulting with Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the neocon Project for the New American Century, and promoting his wife, Victoria Nuland, making her the State Department spokesperson and putting her on track to become Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs. In that post, Nuland orchestrated “regime change” in Ukraine, which like other neocon targets has descended into bloody chaos, but this adventure also has precipitated a dangerous showdown with nuclear-armed Russia.
Kagan has become a big Clinton booster. According to a New York Times article on June 16, 2014, Kagan said his neocon views – which he has redubbed “liberal interventionist” – will have a strong standing in a possible Hillary Clinton administration. The Times reported that Clinton “remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes.”
Kagan was quoted as saying:
“I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy. … If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue … it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.” [For more, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon-Lite?”]
Clinton has won praise from another leading neocon, Max Boot, who wrote in a review of Gates’s book that
“it is clear that in [Obama] administration councils she was a principled voice for a strong stand on controversial issues, whether supporting the Afghan surge or the intervention in Libya.”
In other words, Democrats will have to decide if they wish to nominate a “closet neocon” to be the next president, someone who will triangulate her way into appointing the likes of Kagan and/or Nuland as key advisers or possibly to senior State Department posts. So far the Democratic campaign has focused overwhelmingly on domestic issues, giving Clinton and even Sanders a pass on their foreign policy positions.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the more traditional candidates all have embraced hawkish positions on international issues with the limited exception of Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has shown less enthusiasm for foreign interventions while still trying to avoid the “isolationist” label that was stuck on his father, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
But the rest of the traditional field has criticized President Obama for alleged weakness and some have attacked Trump for supposedly lacking foreign policy expertise. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who has been one of the most consistent neocons, lectured Trump about his supposed ignorance of the Middle East, a region that Graham and his fellow travelers have thoroughly messed up.
Given all that, is it so surprising that many conservative Republicans – as disgusted with Official Washington as many progressives are – would prefer a renegade like Trump to the bland cast of grubbing politicians who are regarded by the mainstream press as the “serious candidates”? The bigger question is whether progressive Democrats are ready to make a similar break from the pack and make Sanders that sort of alternative, too.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon andbarnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includesAmerica’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
An official has admitted Iranian aviation companies’ interest in Russia’s Superjet passenger planes amid Tehran’s quest for new aircraft to build up the country’s aging fleet, the Fars news agency says.
Vice President for science and technology Sorena Sattari also spoke highly of Superjet International, describing it an “extraordinary aircraft”, during a 2.5-hour tour of Russia’s largest air show near Moscow along with President Vladimir Putin.
“Superjet is built in cooperation with Airbus and Boeing and Iranian aviation companies are interested in having it since it is a very low-cost aircraft while there is no Airbus in the 100-seat size,” he said.
According to Fars, Iran’s Kish Air, Zagros Airlines and Caspian Airlines have held negotiations with the Russians.
The 100-seat Superjet is the symbol of Russia’s bid to assert its share in the jet manufacturing business. The country has delivered over 50 aircraft since operating the first SSJ100 commercial flight in 2011.
Sattari said Superjet is built by an intentional consortium, with 80% of the aircraft parts being made by Western and non-Russian companies.
“Given Superjet 100’s similarities to Airbus, we will have no problem for repair and maintenance of the aircraft,” he said.
In July, Russia’s Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said his country was in talks to sell passenger planes to Iran. Russian media, citing aviation officials, have reported on possible delivery of three Superjets to Iran, beginning in 2016.
Officials say Iran will need about 400 civilian aircraft worth at least $20 billion in the next decade to renovate its aviation fleet which has suffered under years of US and European sanctions.
Representatives of Boeing Co will soon visit Iran to discuss rebuilding the country’s ageing aviation fleet, Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi said this month.
Akhoundi also visited Paris in June and “demanded a plan for reconstruction of our aviation fleet” in a meeting with Airbus executives.
How did the US propel itself so far ahead, to the point that it could, alone, comprise about half of global military spending?
Professor of history at Cornell University: “The idea that the commodification and suffering and forced labor of African-Americans is what made the United States powerful and rich is not an idea that people necessarily are happy to hear. Yet it is the truth.”
Even divided in half, the two halves of the US would still be tied for the lead in global military spending, 89 billion dollars each ahead of the number two spender, China.
Also notice how North Korea’s spending is represented by a pin-prick dot above South Korea, and that Iran’s budget is not high enough even to be given a number on the chart (it was under 10 billion in 2009).
It would take 16 billion dollars to clean up the un-exploded bombs the US left in Laos, which continue to kill thousands of people, mostly children. But the US won’t pay it.
This week marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on the US Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005.
The world looked on in horror as events unfolded a decade ago. The storm surge that accompanied Hurricane Katrina breached New Orleans’ hopelessly inadequate levee systems, flooding four-fifths of the city. Tens of thousands of residents, unable to escape the storm’s path, were trapped in their homes, in many cases clinging to rooftops, without food or drinking water. Thousands remained stranded for days in horrific conditions at the New Orleans Superdome. Hundreds of patients were trapped in hospitals that had lost electrical power.
At least 1,800 people were killed across five states by the hurricane and the catastrophe that followed. One million people were displaced from their homes and forced to move to cities throughout the region.
Amidst the plethora of media commentary already produced for the anniversary, there is little that speaks to the real significance of these events. The tragedy that struck the city of New Orleans, along with coastal areas from Florida to Texas, was not simply a natural disaster, but a social and political crime.
The devastation wrought by the storm exposed the reality of American capitalism—the Third World levels of poverty, the pervasive inequality, the disastrous consequences of decades of neglect of social infrastructure, the stunning incompetence of the political establishment, the indifference with which the ruling class treated one of the most important economic and cultural centers of the country, not to mention its working-class inhabitants.
That a serious hurricane could produce such a disaster was neither unforeseeable nor unforeseen. Scientists had warned that New Orleans’ levee system was inadequate to protect the city from a direct hit. Yet nothing was done.
It was known that a breach of the levees would lead to mass flooding. Yet no evacuation plan was put in place.
As the storm approached, residents were urged to leave on their own, but thousands lacked the means or resources to do so. There was no mechanism in place to provide public transportation, medical assistance or emergency aid to alleviate the human suffering caused by the floods.
The response of the Bush administration to Hurricane Katrina came to epitomize its particular combination of stupidity and ruthlessness. While the government ensured unlimited resources for waging war abroad and, in the name of “homeland security,” building the framework of a police state at home, it washed its hands of responsibility for the disaster. Rejecting federal initiatives to aid victims of the hurricane, Bush urged the American people to make contributions to charitable organizations.
Foreshadowing the government’s response to the Boston Marathon bombing and protests against police violence, the main response of the state was to send in the armed forces, including the National Guard and federal troops. Curfews were imposed and a media campaign organized around sensationalized and exaggerated claims of “looters” roaming the streets. In one incident, police shot and killed fleeing residents attempting to cross the Danziger Bridge. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, declared at the time, “They have M16s and are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will.”
Both Democrats and Republicans have blood on their hands for what happened a decade ago. For 25 years, administrations of both parties had diverted social resources from infrastructure and social programs and funneled them into the coffers of the corporate and financial aristocracy.
Subsequent efforts to cast the government’s response to Katrina primarily in terms of “racist Republicans” conveniently ignored the role of Mayor Ray Nagin, a former executive for Cox Communications. He personifies the layer of African-American politicians in the Democratic Party who have long promoted right-wing, pro-business policies. It was Nagin (who was later sentenced to ten years in prison for corruption) who oversaw the policies of the city in the years following Katrina.
The destruction of New Orleans was seen by the ruling class as an opportunity to restructure class relations in the city and make it a model for the entire country. In the decade since the hurricane, virtually the entire public school system has been dismantled or handed over to for-profit companies. Major public housing projects have been razed. Charity Hospital, founded in 1736 to provide for the poor and indigent, was shut down in 2005 despite minimal flood damage, depriving thousands of uninsured residents of a crucial source of health care.
Entire sections of New Orleans were depopulated. Tens of thousands who fled have been unable to return. The official population of the city collapsed from 455,000 to 208,000. Today, it is 379,000, according to the latest figures from the US Census.
However, in some neighborhoods (including the Lower 9th Ward, which was among the hardest hit by the flooding) the population is still barely a third of what it was a decade ago. Other sections of the city, such as the Tremé neighborhood—a historic center of jazz and working-class culture—have been gentrified.
The ruling class used Katrina to accelerate a social counterrevolution that was already underway. The assault on public education and social services and privatization of public assets carried out under the cover of “rebuilding” New Orleans has since been extended to Detroit, under the auspices of a dictatorial “emergency manager” and the federal bankruptcy courts.
The financial equivalent of Katrina, the 2008 Wall Street crash, has been used under President Obama to carry out an unprecedented transfer of wealth from the working class to the rich and the super-rich.
It is for this reason that the official commemorations of Hurricane Katrina contain an element of celebration. The ruling class is cheering its “success.”
The New York Times summed up the general sentiment in official circles in its main article on the anniversary, writing:
“In a city long marinated in fatalism, optimists are now in ascendance. They promise that an influx of bright newcomers, a burst of entrepreneurial verve and a new spirit of civic engagement have primed the city for an era of greatness, or, at least, reversed a long-running civic-disaster narrative.”
At the time of social catastrophe triggered by Katrina, the World Socialist Web Site wrote:
Hurricane Katrina has laid bare the awful truths of contemporary America—a country torn by the most intense class divisions, ruled by a corrupt plutocracy that possesses no sense either of social reality or public responsibility, in which millions of its citizens are deemed expendable and cannot depend on any social safety net or public assistance if disaster, in whatever form, strikes… The central lesson of New Orleans is that the elementary requirements of mass society are incompatible with a system that subordinates everything to the enrichment of a financial oligarchy.
These basic truths resonate all the more clearly ten years later.
Around 50 refugees and asylum seekers were found dead in the hold of a boat off the coast of Libya Wednesday morning. While rescuers were able to save 439 other people on board, the latest reports indicated that 51 people had died.
According to the Italian coast guard, the Swedish ship Poseidon, working as part of the European Union’s border control agency Frontex, discovered the bodies after it went to a stricken wooden boat that was in difficulty.
The latest number of fatalities is similar to the 49 migrants who perished on August 15 in the hold of another boat. That vessel was also found off the Libyan coast, south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Those deaths are thought to have been caused by the migrants being asphyxiated after inhaling fumes from fuels as the boat’s hold took on water.
The nationality of those who died Wednesday has not yet been reported, but they are almost certainly from the war zones of Syria, Afghanistan, Libya or other African countries. Hundreds of thousands of the many millions who have been made refugees are seeking to reach Europe from throughout the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. They are fleeing as the result of more than a decade of wars and carnage, carried out by the imperialist powers and their proxies. An estimated 10 million people have been made homeless in Syria alone.
The vast scale of the crimes of imperialism is evident by the enormous numbers attempting to cross the Mediterranean every day. At least 2,300 have died trying to make the crossing this year, in what has been designated the most dangerous journey for any refugee on the globe.
Streams of refugees have attempted to seek shelter in Europe, mainly via the continent’s southern states, Italy and Greece. According to the International Organization for Migration, 293,000 refugees and migrants have reached Europe by sea so far this year. This is already one-third more than the total that arrived in 2014.
Also Wednesday, Italian rescue services received 10 calls for help from various boats in difficulty. The calls were from vessels located in an area around 30 miles from the Libyan coast, according to the Italian coastguard. It said at least 2,000 migrants, and “probably more” were in danger. These included an Irish coast guard ship attempting to rescue up to 500 people from a boat. That day:
* An Italian coast guard vessel saved 113 people from a partially-deflated rubber boat. One passenger, already fighting to survive, died soon after.
* Poseidon, the same rescue vessel that found the dead bodies in the hold, earlier saved 130 people from a rubber boat.
* A merchant ship reportedly picked up 225 people.
The local .it web site reported yesterday that according to Italian sources,
“another boat with some 700 people aboard was in trouble in the same area. Moas, a Malta-based private organisation, said in a tweet that its boat, the Phoenix, was taking part in a complex rescue operation.”
Moas tweeted, “Phoenix are working with Italian and Swedish vessels to assist thousands.”
This year Greece overtook Italy as the country receiving the most migrants. So far, more than 160,000 have entered the country, whose population is impoverished due to years of savage austerity. As well as the Mediterranean crossing from Africa, thousands are making the shorter but still dangerous trip to Greece’s eastern Aegean islands, via the Turkish coast.
In the 24 hours until Wednesday morning, the Greek coastguard rescued 578 people in 15 separate incidents at sea near the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos. These figures did not include those now arriving daily, often in unsafe inflatable dinghies, from the Turkish coast.
Just days earlier, on August 22, Italian coastguard teams rescued 4,400 people, a record number, in 22 operations over a single 24-hour period. This followed the rescue of 5,300 migrants off the Libyan coast the previous week.
The 22 rescue operations were carried out in seas near Libya. According to AP, Italian coast guard, navy and border police boats as well as Norwegian and Irish naval vessels co-ordinated the rescues. Those rescued were travelling on unseaworthy boats and motorized rubber dinghies, all overcrowded with desperate men, women and children.
The rescues took place in a relatively small area around 30 miles (50 km) from the Libyan coast. That so many had to be rescued in such a tiny area of sea in the eastern Mediterranean, which covers a total area of 637,000 square miles (1.65 million square kilometres), highlights the scope of this vast movement of refugees, which is without parallel since World War II.
Some 110,000 migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast and taken to southern Italian ports.
Those who manage to enter Europe are being treated as an invading army to be repelled by brute force. As news was emerging of the latest tragic deaths, Hungarian riot police reported to have attacked around 200 migrants in the town of Roszke, near the border with Serbia. According to the AFP, police were sent in “after migrants tried to leave the main processing centre without being fingerprinted…”
The agency added, “Tensions escalated after more than 2,500 people, the highest ever daily total, arrived in Hungary on Tuesday from non EU-member Serbia.”
As with those refugees reaching Greece and Italy, most of the 100,000 migrants arriving in Hungary, via various routes in the Balkans, are fleeing their devastated homes in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
To stop refugees and migrants entering, Hungary’s right-wing government is constructing a massive, 109-mile fence on its border with Serbia. On Wednesday, it announced that 2,100 police officers would be sent to guard the fence.
This is just the initial stage of repression. Hungary’s ruling party said Wednesday it would ask parliament to back sending the army to help seal its southern border. Szilard Nemeth, deputy head of the National Security parliamentary committee, said the ruling Fidesz party wants to “make possible the use of the army for tasks related to border defence and migration.”
Every day features new reports of the latest harrowing tragedy engulfing refugees in the Mediterranean.
In June, the EU held a summit to discuss the escalating crisis. This was prompted by a wave of public revulsion at the indifference of the European powers, in the face of a series of mass drownings of refugees in which hundreds of lives were lost. The assembled heads of state failed to agree on a policy, clashing over whether to set quotas for how many immigrants each country should take.
On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande met in Berlin to discuss the refugee crisis. They threatened to put the entire Balkan region on the list of “safe countries” from which no immigrants would be accepted. This would increase pressure on governments in the Balkans to step up their already savage repression of refugees.
Humankind has a choice to make, a stark and very clear choice: toxic pesticides which kill the bees, or the bees themselves which pollinate our plants, bring life to our fields and food on our tables. No bees, no plants, no food. The bees disappear, we follow. However, certain powerful lobbies, and governments, could not care less.
Neonicotinoids are powerful pesticides which have been linked to the collapse of the honey bee, an important insect responsible for the pollination of our plants across the globe. A series of studies have linked neonicotinoids to honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) due to the neuro-active chemical actions which also have an adverse effect on species of birds which feed on the insects these pesticides combat.
Millions of dead bees
Introduced in the 1990s, by the end of the decade, neonicotinoids were being blamed for the loss of large numbers of honey bees and birds, so much so that the European Union and several other countries banned the use of certain neonicotinoids in 2013. Certain but not all. Seven remain in use: Imidacloprid (Bayer CropScience), Thiamethoxam (Syngenta), Clothianidin (Sumitomo Chemical/Bayer CropScience), Acetamiprid (Nippon Soda), Thiacloprid (Bayer CropScience), Dinotefuran (Mitsui Chemicals), Nitenpyram (Sumitomo Chemical)
Neonicotinoids alter the social behavior of bees and indeed, neither the honey bee nor the bumble bee seem able to avoid the plants sprayed with neonicotinoids, and forage elsewhere, according to tests made with the three most commonly used neonicotinoids, imidacloprid (IMD), thiamethoxam (TMX), and clothianidin (CLO). Worse, IMD and TMX appear to actively attract bees – they have been shown to eat more sucrose solution laced with these drugs than pure sucrose.
These substances have been directly linked to the deaths of millions of bees. So why are they still on the market, and why are some governments trying to skirt round the bans? The answer is crystal clear: registered in over 120 countries, neonicotinoids represent a global turnover of one point five billion Euro, making up around 25 per cent of the global pesticide market.
So once again we see that many Governments are not representing the people who elected them to implement policies the people voted for in a democratic process. Rather, they are pandering to the whims and answering the calls of the corporate lobbies which either placed their members in office or else closed ranks around them once they were elected.
Welcome to the corporatist model, a sham and a farce and everything but democratic. It is a cynical manipulation of the system and the people the system is supposed to represent. Today, the bees. Tomorrow, Humankind. Do the corporatist lobbies and their pawns care?
No, so long as they make their billions, they couldn’t care less, until it is too late.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, editor, of printed and online news, TV stations and media groups. He is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights.
After the devaluation of the yuan, the international financial markets started trembling. Washington accused Beijing of taking advantage of the market. As China wants to incorporate the yuan into the Special Drawing Rights, it is inconvenient to prolong the devaluation. Furthermore, if a currency war broke out, China would risk increasing the economic and geopolitical tensions between countries in the Asian-Pacific region. That way, the United States would have more possibilities to disrupt regional co-operation initiatives and thereby undermine China’s rise as a world power.
The three devaluations of the yuan, between 10 and 12 August, have key implications for the world economy and the geopolitical balance in the Asia-Pacific. The “relatively big” trade surplus keeps the effective exchange rate “relatively high” and therefore, it is not “entirely consistent with the expectations of the market”, specifies the People’s Bank of China in a statement. The investors’ panic will not last long. The exchange rate ends up at 6,3306 yuan per dollar and the devaluation will not increase more than 5%.
Every time China shows interest in incorporating the yuan into the Special Drawing Rights (SDR), the currency basket the International Monetary Fund (IMF) established in 1969, it is clear that the worth of its currency must remain stable, as it is one of the requirements that world currencies have to meet (the dollar does not meet this requirement and as a result, it decreased 70 to 60% as an international reserve of central banks between 1999 and 2014).
The media campaign against the yuan
However, most of the Western press did not have any problem with sustaining that the devaluation of the “currency of the people” (‘renminbi’) is a way to support the export capacity of the economy deviously. Donald Trump, the favourite pre-candidate for presidency on behalf of the Republican Party, was dead set against the measure taken by the central bank: the Chinese try to “destroy” US industries.
The media campaign against China is not new. For years Washington has accused China of manipulating the exchange rate. However, the truth is that the yuan has not depreciated “artificially”, but rather appreciated itself in comparison to the US currency. Since 2005 (when the currency system became more flexible) until now, the Chinese currency has appreciated approximately 30% in comparison to the dollar, which makes it clear that claiming the devaluation of the yuan with 4,6% during the second week of August is the main reason for the US economy’s collapse is extremely exaggerated.
It is true that cheap goods produced in China are sold to US citizens like never before. However, every time well-paid jobs are sorely lacking for decades, families and companies are more worried about solving debt problems than about questioning the origins of their cheap everyday products from self-service stores.
Nevertheless, the US government insists on smearing the People’s Bank of China’s policy. That is not strange at all: central banks are not known for reaching agreement. History shows that, in times of crisis and worldwide turbulence, institutions responsible for monetary policy apply unilateral measures in order to move their economies forward.
The US Federal Reserve System is by far the most illustrative case. Without consulting any other central bank in advance and without being subjected to Congress, its former president, Ben S. Bernanke, announced in December 2013 that the Quantitative Easing programme would be cut down. As a consequence, both the stock market and the exchange rate of emergent economies plummeted.
A year later, the new president of the Federal Reserve System, Janet Yellen, announced she decided to increase the federal funds rate over the course of 2015. Even though Yellen has not yet contracted the credit (‘tightening’), currencies in the rest of world have accelerated the disaster over the last months.
This situation led the European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan to launching liquidity-providing programs similar to those of the Federal Reserve System to limit the increase of the dollar in respect to their own currencies. On the other hand, the People’s Bank of China has not taken any special measures, but the yuan remained stable. Why?
In practice, the Chinese currency has a good relationship with the market rates of the dollar. This way, while half-way of 2014 and in the beginning of 2015, the dollar was appreciated between 15 and 20% in respect to the currencies used most in trade (such as the euro, pound sterling, yen et cetera), but only 0,6% in respect to the yuan.
Chinese juggling with various balls
However, the Asian juggernaut has to overcome many obstacles. Since a couple of years, the Chinese government has implemented a series of ‘structural reforms’ so that the economy will change from an accumulation pattern that sustains on massive investment into a pattern that favours expansion of the domestic market.
The big challenge of the Communist Party of China is to increase the consumption of inhabitants by increasing their buying power through salary and to decrease the centrality of savings. This turn is more necessary than ever in the light of shrinking company investments and the downfall of external demand.
Last month the Chinese exportations reached 8,3% in annual terms, while its importations fell by 8,1%. That backlash is in synchrony with the extreme weakness of world trade: its expansion is at its lowest since the last 20 years.
“Despite the fact that rates are still high, the growth of the Chinese GDP has also slowed down: the devaluation, however low, could reverse this tendency”, sentenced Paulo Nogueira Batista, the vice-president of the BRICS (acronym of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Development Bank, in an interview with Sputnik Mundo.
Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that Chinese co-operations export almost 60% of their goods to industrialised countries, according to Jonathan Anderson, member of the Emerging Advisors Group. Given the fact that the G-7 countries (Germany, Canada, United Stated, France, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom) are still immersed in stagnation and close to deflation (downfall of prices), invigoration of the Chinese economy through international trade will be complicated.
On the other hand, the real estate sector starts to feel the effects of overinvestment. Promotion agencies of houses and apartments cannot find enough clients on the Chinese market anymore. The fall of sales does not permit increasing investments. As a consequence, companies that produce building equipment (steel, cement, wood, glass etc.) have been seriously damaged as they have a close tie to the real estate sector.
The bank’s actions to handle the economic slowdown are very varied and not only limited to devaluating the currency. During last year, the People’s Bank of China reduced the repo rate and capital requirements of the bank system to stimulate credit granting to productive activity. Furthermore, China launched a fiscal stimulus programme, the costs of which are estimated on 12% of the GDP.
The Chinese government developed a game of juggling with various balls. The Chinese try to change from an economy centred on mass investment into an economy stimulated by consumption without sacrificing its growth: they seek to stop speculation in the real estate sector (stock exchange, commodities, etc.) without cutting off the sector’s credit, they aspire to lead without coping with the financial volatility that the world market imposes. Will it be possible for the Chinese government to accomplish that?
The danger of world-wide deflation
It is a big challenge. The authorities in Peking seem to worry more and more about the global panorama. The world market hastens deflation. It is not just about the instable prices of commodities and the economic stagnation with deflation that countries such as Japan have suffered since the 1990s.
The deflationary crisis has consolidated in Greece and threatens to spread over most of the European economies. According to data published by Elstat, inflation in Greece fell by 2,2% in annual terms during last month, which means that deflation has been going on for 29 consecutive months now.
After the Troika (established by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission) imposed a new bail-out plan on Athens, which stimulates austerity, it is clear that deflation will eventually be stimulated and, by that, will become a death threat to Germany, China’s fourth biggest trade partner.
All in all, Peking does not spare any effort to scare away from recessive tendencies that are coming to their economy gradually and that, incidentally, come as a surprise to more and more countries: from Germany, France and the United Kingdom to Canada, Mexico and South America (Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, etc.).
Washington aims its missiles at Beijing
The regional economic context is not free from deflation either. The weakened position of the yuan is not well-received by China’s neighbouring countries. The currencies of South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand fell to minimum levels after the devaluation of the ‘renminbi’, while simultaneously the stock exchange closed with a decrease between 0,5% and 1,5%.
If central banks in Asia-Pacific give in to the temptation of starting a devaluation tendency by means of a beggar-thy-neighbour policy, successful convocations led by China in order to move the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road fund and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific forward will be seriously threatened.
In opposition, US companies do not miss out on the opportunity to seek for the support of several Asian leaders to widen the scope of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Pentagon wants to use the ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy again, this time with the military support of Japan.
Without a doubt, it is a tricky plan from the United States to suffocate China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific. In light of the American imperial offensive, the Chinese government has to remain alert and in particular take note of general Sun Tzu’s (author of ‘The art of war’) lessons: defeat the enemy without entering in combat.
The devaluation of the yuan has made clear that the coming months will be crucial for the consolidation of China’s rise as a world power. Only time will tell whether or not it is possible to resolve economic inconsistencies in domestic policy without risking the regional cohesion. The Chinese currency is in the air…
Ariel Noyola Rodríguez, economist graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
One of the side effects of the Iran Deal debate is that Israel’s nukes are also being discussed.
There are signs of pressure on Israeli nukes inside the US media and government. In this article, Phil Weiss will summarize the recent news, and Grant Smith, the lead investigator of the Institute for Research Middle East Policy, follows with a report on a gag order affecting disclosure of US federal information about the Israeli nuclear program. Weiss first.
Last week the State Department released historical documents that detail Nixon-era attempts to get Israel to join the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.
The State Department’s publication of documents on Tuesday detailing US-Israel discussions on the Jewish state’s nuclear program comes amid public disagreement between the allies over the Iran nuclear deal….
The publication of the documents comes as part of a routine release of historical information by the State Department. However, the timing of the revelations against the background of the disagreement between Israel and the US over the nuclear deal with Iran, lends them extra meaning.
There are those who would claim that the timing of the release is not a coincidence, and is in fact intended to embarrass Israel, which staunchly opposes the deal with Iran, and embarrass Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who continues his efforts to challenge the Obama administration and influence Congress to reject the deal.
According to the documents, which cover events from 1969 to 1972, Israel was asked to provide a written obligation neither to arm its [ten newly produced] missiles with nuclear warheads nor to deploy them.
The documents show that Israel was trying to skirt American demands re its nuclear program, and the U.S. was going in on the hypocrisy. It was leaving Israeli actions up to the Israelis’ “conscience,” according to this report to President Nixon from national security adviser Henry Kissinger in 1969:
The Israelis had promised in signing the Phantom contract “not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.” [Ambassador to the U.S. Yitzhak] Rabin had informally defined “introduce” to mean“not test and not publicize.” [Under Secretary of State] Elliot Richardson (image right) on July 29 asked him to accept our definition of “not introduce” as “not possess.” … [Richardson] defined “possess” for our own internal purposes as “Israeli activity short of as- sembly of a completed nuclear explosive device.” In short, we tried to put ourselves in a position where we could act as if we assumed the Israelis do not have completed weapons while leaving to the Israelis’ conscience the stage short of completion where they would stop… Instead of accepting our words “not possess,” Rabin simply says they “prefer” to say they will “not become a nuclear power. When I asked how a state could become a “nuclear power” without “possessing” nuclear weapons, he simply said they “prefer” their formulation.
Last week, too, Lobelog published “The Next Middle East Nuclear Challenge: Israel,” an eloquent piece by Peter Jenkins, a career British diplomat, saying that the P5+1 should now start working to get Israel to give up its nukes.
[T]he five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the EU High Representative, fresh from their diplomatic achievement of consolidating Iran’s commitment to the NPT, embark on a similar process of engagement with Israel.
The goal of the process would be to define an action plan that would enable Israel to feel confident that acceding to the NPT would not entail any compromise to Israeli security.
The Israeli government may well say that it does not wish to engage the P5 and EU on such an issue. If so, the P5+1 would be wrong to take “no” for an answer. They pride themselves on having “brought Iran to the negotiating table.” They should look for ways of bringing Israel to the table. It would be surprising if they needed to resort to measures as drastic as those employed in Iran’s case.
Middle East states deserve the security that NWFZs [nuclear weapon free zones] have brought to Latin America, Africa, South East Asia, the Pacific, and Central Asia.
Two weeks back Grant Smith’s Institute for Research Middle East Policy continued its effort to undermine the official hypocrisy, picking up a radio interview in which Colorado Congressman Jared Polis said, “everybody knows [Israel] they have nuclear capabilities, not declared for some technical reason.” Polis is undeclared on the Iran Deal.
And last March, William Greider echoed Smith’s exasperation over the hypocrisy in the Nation:
While the Washington press corps obsessed over Hillary Clinton’s emails at the State Department, reporters were missing a far more important story about government secrets. After five decades of pretending otherwise, the Pentagon has reluctantly confirmed that Israel does indeed possess nuclear bombs, as well as awesome weapons technology similar to America’s.
Early last month the Department of Defense released a secret report done in 1987 by the Pentagon funded Institute for Defense Analysis that essentially confirms the existence of Israel’s nukes. DOD was responding to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Grant Smith, an investigative reporter and author who heads the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy. Smith said he thinks this is the first time the US government has ever provided official recognition of the longstanding reality.
Now here is Grant Smith’s report on his experience: “The secret federal gag order that prohibits informed debate about Israel’s nukes”
On August 20, 2015 the Department of Energy released under the Freedom of Information Act its “Guidance on Release of Information Relating to the Potential for an Israeli Nuclear Capability.” (PDF) The Orwellian title of the year 2012 document, designated WNP-136, seems to suggest that Israel might not yet even have nuclear weapons. This is in stark contrast to the public opinion of 63.9 percent of Americans polled who believe it does. Interestingly, it covers only Israel and not the other non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty such as India, North Korea and South Sudan.
The official reason for promulgating the gag order, its history and development, bureaucratic champions and most of its redacted contents remain unclear. What is clear is that it is one of the reasons federal employees and government contractors, and sometimes even the President, equivocate and run for the exits whenever they are asked to make substantive remarks. The Israel nuclear gag order answers the question posed last week by McClatchy, “Why is Israel’s nuclear arsenal not mentioned in Iran deal debate?” Because any federal employee who does can be summarily fired and possibly go to prison.
Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear analyst James Doyle wrote candidly about Israel’s nuclear weapons for a magazine in 2013. After a congressional staffer read the article, which had passed a classification review, it was referred to classification officials for a second review. Doyle’s pay was then cut, his home computer searched, and he was fired.
Aside from prohibiting any informed input in the run-up to the September congressional vote on the Iran nuclear deal, the secret gag order has a far more costly function—it makes enforcement of the Symington and Glenn Amendments to the 1961 Foreign Aid Act impossible.
Time has cracked the edifice of silence. State Department documents (PDF) released this week add color to previous accounts about the maneuvering of Henry Kissinger in the early 1970s, functioning as Israel’s lawyer, to secretly exempt the arsenal from safeguards demands the US and international community imposed on others—as well as Nixon’s intense fear of an Israel-lobby backlash.
In February this year the Pentagon released its chartered study from 1987 about how Israel’s nuclear weapons development facilities already paralleled American national laboratories even as the country raced for hydrogen bomb capabilities. However the gag order outlaws any current releases about the true nuclear balance of power in the Middle East when it would matter most. This buttresses Israel and its lobby’s attempts to keep a focus on Iran, but harms Americans positioned outside of the Israel affinity ecosystem.
The Symington and Glenn laws prohibit US foreign aid to any country found trafficking in nuclear weapons technology outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. An estimated (considering inflation and assumed value of US intelligence support) $234 billion in taxpayer-funded aid has been delivered to Israel since their passage. But absent unencumbered, informed and authoritative public information from the federal government on the state of Israel’s nuclear weapons infrastructure, the law is impossible to enforce.
Whether such subversion of taxpayer rights and foreign aid laws is the gag order’s core intent remains to be seen in the upcoming FOIA appeal and public interest legal actions.
Grant Smith is now undertaking that FOIA appeal process.
The expansion of Israel’s ‘separation barrier’ is targeting Christian-Palestinian communities in the West Bank, reports Noreen Sadik.
On 17 August, Issa al-Shatleh, of Beit Jala, Palestine, started his day with news that Israeli soldiers were on the land that had belonged to his family for hundreds of years. When he arrived, he found ‘they were destroying the land, and cutting my ancient olive trees, some hundreds of years old’. ‘They came without a warning,’ he said.
And it is not just al-Shatleh’s land that is being confiscated. Close to 3 hectares of private land were razed that morning and 45 trees, some of them over 100 years old, were uprooted. As landowners tried to stop the destruction, violent clashes broke out, sending al-Shatleh’s brother to the hospital.
Beit Jala is located in the Cremisan Valley, near the Bethlehem area in Palestine. It lies between the illegal Israeli settlements of Gilo in East Jerusalem and the illegal West Bank settlement Har Gilo. Approximately 16,000 people live there, the majority of whom are Christian. Christians number about 2% of the population of the West Bank.
The Cremisan Valley is home to the Salesian Sisters’ Convent and school, and to the 19th-century Salesian Monastery and Cellars.
The green, fertile land is a source of livelihood for many local families, and is dotted with pine, apricot and olive trees, as well as other agricultural delicacies, including grapevines, used by the Cremisan winery. Not only is it a place of spirituality, it also serves as the last piece of agricultural and recreational land available to residents of Bethlehem.
For years, it has also been a source of contention and legal battles between Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the residents of Beit Jala, including the Salesian Monastery and the Salesian Convent.
Extending the wall
In 2006, the Israeli military declared its plan to extend the already-existing Separation Barrier, which had gaps in it, thereby dividing the land of Beit Jala.
The army’s original plan would have led to the confiscation of privately and church-owned land, and would separate 58 Palestinian families from their agricultural lands, affecting their livelihoods.
It would also have left the monastery and orchards on the Israeli side of the barrier, and the convent and school on the Palestinian side. Access between the two sides would have had to be given via an agricultural gate. With the convent and school surrounded by the barrier, and a military road nearby, hundreds of schoolchildren would essentially be living in a military zone.
On 24 April 2013, the Special Appeals Committee of the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court approved the land confiscation for the Separation Barrier along a route that would have annexed 75% of the convent’s property and enclosed it on three sides.
Two years later, this past April, after years of fighting to keep their lands, the residents of Beit Jala enjoyed the sweet taste of victory when the Israeli Supreme Court ruled against the Ministry of Defense’s proposal. The Court ordered the Ministry to find a route which would be less disruptive to the Palestinians.
The Cremisan Valley is home to the Salesian Sisters’ Convent and school, and to the 19th-century Salesian Monastery and Cellars. Labour Palestine
On 6 July 2015 however, Beit Jala residents were shocked when the Court reversed its April decision, thereby permitting the Ministry of Defense to begin building the extension following an alternative route. The Ministry was instructed to leave monastery and convent lands untouched.
According to NGO Stop the Wall, ‘The Supreme Court ruling applies the need to re-route the Wall only as far as the lands surrounding the Salesian Sisters’ Convents and the Salesian Monastery and its agricultural lands. The court ruled that the Israeli authorities can initiate building the Wall on privately owned lands in Beit Jala.’
Construction of the Separation Barrier between Israel and the West Bank, also known as the Wall, began in 2002. Israel claims that it is a security measure designed to prevent attacks by Palestinians in the West Bank. In 2004, the International Court of Justice declared that the ‘construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated regime are contrary to international law’.
Hundreds of hectares were confiscated from Beit Jala to build the 3 settlements of Gilo, Har Gilo and Giv’at Hamatos, as well as the part of the wall currently standing. The new extension to the wall is going to destroy another 350 hectares.
Residents of Beit Jala consider it to be a land grab, a means of linking Gilo and Har Gilo, and therefore annexing further Palestinian land to Israel.
According to Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, 85% of the barrier’s planned route of 709 kilometres runs through Palestinian land, rather than on the Green Line (representing the 1948-established borders). Upon completion, 46% of Palestinian land will have been annexed, and the barrier will be almost twice as long as the border, as it zigzags around Palestinian communities.
‘What can we do if the world doesn’t stand with us? The land of Jesus is calling you. Stop the aggression against us. We are human and we have rights. We just want to live in peace’
Meanwhile, Catholic leaders have been holding vigils every Friday in the Cremisan Valley since 2011, drawing international, diplomatic and media attention. Over the years, appeals for help have been made to several world leaders, including Pope Francis, who visited the area last year.
On 30 July 2015, the Society of St Yves Center for Human Rights, representatives of the Convent, submitted a new petition to the Supreme Court. It requested that ‘the Ministry of Defense reveal and present its whole planned route of the Separation Wall in Cremisan before it proceeds with building it in the privately owned lands’.
St. Yves also requested the High Court issue an order ‘to prevent the army from building the Wall before such a route plan is presented, and after allowing all parties and petitioners to submit their objections, especially for the landowners, who will incur severe damages from the construction of the Separation Wall’.
But in spite of that, while the landowners and residents of the community were waiting for yet another decision from the Israeli Supreme Court, the bulldozers rolled in, beginning the construction of the extension of the barrier.
A solidarity tent has been set up on the land, and public events and protests have been organized.
‘We are calling on the European Union and the international community, including the Vatican, to go beyond their statements of concern and condemnations, and to put real pressure on Israel to stop the construction of the Apartheid Wall, dismantle the Wall and the settlements and to respect international law and human rights,’ Stop the Wall declared.
In Beit Jala, frustrated and angry, al-Shatleh says: ‘What can we do if the world doesn’t stand with us? The land of Jesus is calling you. Stop the aggression against us. We are human and we have rights. We just want to live in peace.’
Sharmini Peries: The Dow Jones trading took a deep drive this week, dropping over 1,000 points in the first 20 minutes of trading. It is now slowly reversing itself, but it was the greatest loss in trading since the 2010 crash. Here to discuss all of this, we’re joined by Michael Hudson. Michael Hudson is a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His latest book, which we promise to unpack in detail very soon, is Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy Global Economy. You can get a digital download of it at CounterPunch. Michael, thank you so much for joining us.
Michael Hudson: Good to be here. And the hard print will be out in another two weeks from Amazon.
Peries: Look forward to it, Michael. So Michael, some mainstream news outlets are saying that this is the China contagion. They need someone to blame. What’s causing all of this?
Hudson: Not China. China’s simply back to the level that it was earlier in the year. One of the problems with the Chinese market that is quite different from the American and European market is that a lot of the big Chinese banks have lent to small lenders, sort of small wholesale lenders, that in turn have lent to retail people. And a lot of Chinese are trying to get ahead by borrowing money to buy real estate or to buy stocks. So there are these intermediaries, these non-bank intermediaries, sort of like real estate brokers, who borrowed big money from banks and lent it out to a lot of little people. And once the small people got in it’s like odd lot traders in the United States, small traders, you know that the boom is over.
What you’re having now is a lot of small speculators have lost their money. And that’s put the squeeze on the non-bank speculators. But that’s something almost unique in China. Most Americans and most European families don’t borrow to go into the market. Most of the market is indeed funded by debt, but it’s funded by bank lending and huge, huge leverage borrowings for all of this.
This is what most of the commentators don’t get. All this market run-up we’ve seen in the last year or two has been by the Federal Reserve making credit available to banks at about one-tenth of 1 percent. The banks have lent to big institutional traders and speculators thinking, well gee, if we can borrow at 1 percent and buy stocks that yield maybe 5 or 6 percent, then we can make the arbitrage. So they’ve made a 5 percent arbitrage by buying, but they’ve also now lost 10 percent, maybe 20 percent on the capital.
What we’re seeing is that short-term thinking really hasn’t taken into account the long run. And that’s why this is very much like the Long-Term Capital Management crash in 1997, when the two Nobel prize winners who calculated how the economy works and lives in the short term found out that all of a sudden the short term has to come back to the long term.
Now, it’s amazing how today’s press doesn’t get it. For instance, in theNew York Times Paul Krugman, who you can almost always depend to be wrong where money and credit are involved, said that the problem is a savings glut. People have too many savings. Well, we know that they don’t in America have too many savings. We’re in a debt deflation now. The 99
percent of the people are so busy paying off their debt that what is counted as savings here is just paying down the debt. That’s why they don’t have enough money to buy goods and services, and so sales are falling. That means that profits are falling. And people finally realized that wait a minute, with companies not making more profits they’re not going to be able to pay the dividends.
Well, companies themselves have been causing this crisis as much as speculators, because companies like Amazon, like Google, or Apple especially, have been borrowing money to buy their own stock. Corporate activists, stockholder activists, have told these companies, we want you to put us on the board because we want you to borrow at 1 percent to buy your stock yielding 5 percent. You’ll get rich in no time. So these stock buybacks by Apple and by other companies at high prices can push up their stock price in the short term. But when prices crash, their net worth is all of a sudden plunging. And so we’re in a classic debt deflation.
Peries: Michael, explain how buybacks are actually causing this. I don’t think ordinary people quite understand that.
Hudson: Well, what they cause is the runup–companies are under pressure. The managers are paid according to how well they can make a stock price go up. And they think, why should we invest in long-term research and development or long-term developments when we can use the earnings we have just to buy our own stock, and that’ll push them up even without investing, without hiring, without producing more. We can make the stock go up by financial engineering. By using our earnings to buy [their own] stock.
So what you have is empty earnings. You’ve had stock prices going up without corporate earnings really going up. If you buy back your stock and you retire the shares, then earnings per shares go up. But all of a sudden the whole world realizes that this is all financial engineering, doing it with mirrors, and it’s not real. There’s been no real gain in industrial profitability. There’s just been a diversion of corporate income into the financial markets instead of tangible new investment in hiring.
Peries: Michael, Lawrence Summers is tweeting, he writes, as in August 1997, 1998, 2007 and 2008, we could be in the early stages of a very serious situation, which I think we can attribute some of the blame to him. What do you make of that comment, and is that so? Is this the beginnings of a bigger problem?
Hudson: I wish he would have said what he means by ‘situation’. What people don’t realize usually, and especially what Lawrence Summers doesn’t realize, is that there are two economies. When he means a bad situation, that means for his constituency. The 1 percent. The 1 percent think oh, we’re going to be losing in the asset markets. But the 1 percent has been making money by getting the 99 percent into debt. By squeezing more work out of them. By keeping wages low and by starving the market so that there’s nobody to buy the goods that they produce.
So the problem is in the real economy, not the financial economy. But Lawrence Summers and the Federal Reserve all of a sudden say look, we don’t care about the real economy. We care about the stock market. And what you’ve seen in the last few years, two years I’d say, of the stock runup, is something unique. For the first time the central banks of America, even Switzerland and Europe, are talking about the role of the central bank is to inflate asset prices. Well, the traditional reason for central banks that they gave is to stop inflation. And yet now they’re trying to inflate the stock market. The Federal Reserve has been trying to push up the stock market purely by financial engineering, by making this low interest rate and quantitative easing.
The Wall Street Journal gets it wrong, too, on its editorial page. You have an op-ed by Gerald O’Driscoll, who used to be on the board of the Dallas Federal Reserve, saying gee, the problem with low interest rates is it encourages long-term investment because people can take their time. Well, that’s crazy Austrian theory. The real problem is that low interest rates provide money to short-term speculators. All this credit has been used not for the long term, not for investment at all, but just speculation. And when you have speculation, a little bit of a drop in the market can wipe out all of the capital that’s invested.
So what you had this morning in the stock market was a huge wipeout of borrowed money on which people thought the market would go up, and the Federal Reserve would be able to inflate prices. The job of the Federal Reserve is to increase the price of wealth and stocks and real estate relative to labor. The Federal Reserve is sort of waging class war. It wants to increase the assets of the 1 percent relative to the earnings of the 99 percent, and we’re seeing the fact that this, the effect of this class war is so successful it’s plunged the economy into debt, slowed the economy, and led to the crisis we have today.
Peries: Michael, just one last question. Most ordinary people are sitting back saying well, it’s a stock market crash. I don’t have anything in the market. And so I don’t have to really worry about it. What do you say to them, and how are they going to feel the impact of this?
Hudson: It’s not going to affect them all that much. The fact is that so much of the money in the market was speculative capital that it really isn’t going to affect them much. And it certainly isn’t going to affect China all that much. China is trying to develop an internal market. It has other problems, and the market is not going to affect either China’s economy or this. But when the 1 percent lose money, they scream like anything, and they say it’s the job of the 99 percent to bail them out.
Peries: What about your retirement savings, and so on?
Hudson: Well, if the savings are invested in the stock market in speculative hedge funds they’d lose, but very few savings are. The savings have already gone way, way up from the market. And the market is only down to what it was earlier this year. So the people have not really suffered very much at all. They’ve only not made as big of gains as they would have hoped for, but they’re not affected.
With almost a whimper, the Western media reported that the US-backed regimes of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and their auxiliary fighters drawn from Al Qaeda have begun carrying out what is the ground invasion of Yemen. Along with an ongoing naval blockade and months of bombing raids, the ground invasion adds a lethal new dimension to the conflict – for both sides.
Landing at the port city of Aden on Yemen’s southern tip, it is reported that an “armor brigade” consisting of between 1,000 – 3,000 troops primarily from the UAE are now moving north, their ultimate destination Sana’a, the capital of Yemen.
Columns of the UAE’s French-built Leclerc main battle tanks were seen moving out of the port city though their numbers are difficult to establish. Reports claiming that the UAE unit is brigade-sized might indicate as many as 100 tanks involved – a third of the UAE’s total armored force.
The bold move comes after months of frustrating failures for the two Arabian regimes. Their Yemeni proxies – loyalists of the ousted president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi – have proven all but useless in fighting Houthi fighters across most of Yemen despite air superiority provided to them by their Arabian allies. And while it appears the well-equipped Arab forces are able to concentrate firepower, overwhelming Houthi fighters in pitched battles, the ability for Saudi, UAE, and Al Qaeda forces to actually hold territory they move through is questionable at best.
The Roman Empire throughout much of its reign was feared as invincible. After suffering several major defeats, the veneer of invincibility began to peel and along with it crumbled inevitably their empire. Likewise, Western hegemony has been propped up by the illusion of military superiority on the battlefield. By carefully picking its battles and avoiding critical defeats, the West, and the US in particular, has maintained this illusion of military invincibility
As the US moves against nations with larger, better equipped and trained armies, it has elected to use proxies to fight on its behalf. Thus, any humiliating defeat could be compartmentalized.
However, by most accounts the war in Yemen is not only a proxy war between Iran and the Persian Gulf monarchies, it is one of several such conflicts raging regionally that constitutes a wider proxy war between the US and its regional allies on one side, and Iran, Syria, Russia, and even China on the other.
With the presence of Western main battle tanks in Yemen attempting to move north, the opportunity now presents itself to punch holes through this illusion of Western invincibility. Yemen as the graveyard for an alleged brigade of French-built Leclerc main battle tanks would be one such hole. It would also set the UAE’s extraterritorial military ambitions back, if not overturn them entirely, and finally, would leave whatever fighting was left in Yemen to the Saudis who have thus far proven incompetent.
Perhaps this is one of the many reasons the Western media has decided not to cover the events unfolding in Yemen.
Yemen Vs. Ukraine
One might ask how – in the context of international law – it is possible for unelected absolute autocracies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to intervene militarily in Yemen with naval blockades, aerial bombardments, and now an overt ground invasion including armor columns to restore an ousted regime. This is done with seemingly little concern from the United Nations and with the enthusiastic support both politically and militarily of the United States.
The answer to this question becomes more confounding still when considering Western condemnation of Russia for any attempt to support or defend the ousted government of Ukraine, a nation now overrun by NATO-backed Neo-Nazi militias who in turn are backing a criminal regime in Kiev which includes foreigners assigned to cabinet positions and even as governors. Saudi and UAE military aggression in Yemen makes it increasingly difficult for the West to maintain the illusion of moral superiority regarding Ukraine.
Russia’s relative restraint when compared to US-backed aggression on the Arabian Peninsula exposes once again the pervasive hypocrisy consuming Western legitimacy.
This may be yet another reason the Western media refuses to cover the events unfolding in Yemen.
Responsibility to Protect…?
After NATO’s attempt to invoke the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) as justification for the destruction of Libya, it became clear that NATO was merely hiding behind the principles of humanitarian concern, not upholding them. And while it may be difficult to believe, there are still those across the Western media and policy think-tanks attempting to use R2P to justify further military aggression against nations like Syria.
However, R2P is conveniently absent amid what little talk of Yemen that does take place in the Western media. US-backed blockades and months of aerial bombardments have tipped Yemen toward a humanitarian catastrophe. Not only does both the UN and the West fail to demand an end to the bombings and blockades, the West has continued to underwrite Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s military adventure in Yemen.
The carnage and injustice visited upon Yemen serves as yet another stark example of how the West and its institutions, including the United Nations, are the greatest dangers to global peace and stability, using the pretext of defending such ideals as a means to instead undo them.
Considering this, we discover yet another potential reason the Western media’s coverage of Yemen is muted.
It remains to be seen how the Houthi fighters react to the ground invasion of Yemen by Emirati troops. Dealing severe losses to the UAE’s armor while continuing to weather aerial bombardment may see the stalling or even the withdrawal of this latest incursion. Not unlike the 2006 Lebanon War where Hezbollah fighters expertly used terrain to negate Israeli advantages in airpower and armor, forcing an early end to the fighting, the Houthis may yet answer this latest move by US-backed proxies operating in Yemen.
Perhaps this possibility above all, is why the Western media would rather the general public knew little of what was going on in Yemen. It would represent yet another conventional Western-equipped proxy army defeated by irregular forces in yet another failed campaign fought in the interests of Wall Street and Washington. While the Western media refuses to cover the events unfolding in Yemen with the attention and honesty they deserve, the conflict is nonetheless pivotal, and may determine the outcome of other proxy wars raging across the Middle East and North Africa, and even beyond.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”.
In The Matrix in which Americans live, nothing is ever their fault. For example, the current decline in the US stock market is not because years of excessive liquidity supplied by the Federal Reserve have created a bubble so overblown that a mere six stocks, some of which have no earnings commiserate with their price, accounted for more than all of the gain in market capitalization in the S&P 500 prior to the current disruption.
In our Matrix existence, the stock market decline is not due to corporations using their profits, and even taking out loans, to repurchase their shares, thus creating an artificial demand for their equity shares.
The decline is not due to the latest monthly reporting of durable goods orders falling on a year-to-year basis for the sixth consecutive month.
The stock market decline is not due to a week economy in which after a decade of alleged economy recovery, new and existing home sales are still down by 63% and 23% from the peak in July 2005.
The stock market decline is not due to the collapse in real median family income and, thereby, consumer demand, resulting from two decades of offshoring middle class jobs and partially replacing them with minimum wage part-time Walmart jobs without benefits that do not provide sufficient income to form a household.
No, none of these facts can be blamed. The decline in the US stock market is the fault of China.
What did China do? China is accused of devaluing by a small amount its currency.
Why would a slight adjustment in the yuan’s exchange value to the dollar cause the US and European stock markets to decline?
It wouldn’t. But facts don’t matter to the presstitute media. They lie for a living.
Moreover, it was not a devaluation.
When China began the transition from communism to capitalism, China pegged its currency to the US dollar in order to demonstrate that its currency was as good as the world’s reserve currency. Over time China has allowed its currency to appreciate relative to the dollar. For example, in 2006 one US dollar was worth 8.1 Chinese yuan. Recently, prior to the alleged “devaluation” one US dollar was worth 6.1 or 6.2 yuan. After China’s adjustment to its floating peg, one US dollar is worth 6.4 yuan. Clearly, a change in the value of the yuan from 6.1 or 6.2 to the dollar to 6.4 to the dollar did not collapse the US and European stock markets.
Furthermore, the change in the range of the floating peg to the US dollar did not devalue China’s currency with regard to its non-US trading partners. What had happened, and what China corrected, is that as a result of the QE money printing policies currently underway by the Japanese and European central banks, the dollar appreciated against other currencies. As China’s yuan is pegged to the dollar, China’s currency appreciated with regard to its Asian and European trading partners. The appreciation of China’s currency (due to its peg to the US dollar) is not a good thing for Chinese exports during a time of struggling economies. China merely altered its peg to the dollar in order to eliminate the appreciation of its currency against its other trading partners.
Why did not the financial press tell us this? Is the Western financial press so incompetent that they do not know this? Yes.
Or is it simply that America itself cannot possibly be responsible for anything that goes wrong. That’s it. Who, us?! We are innocent! It was those damn Chinese!
Look, for example, at the hordes of refugees from America’s invasions and bombings of seven countries who are currently overrunning Europe. The huge inflows of peoples from America’s massive slaughter of populations in seven countries, enabled by the Europeans themselves, is causing political consternation in Europe and the revival of far-right political parties. Today, for example, neo-nazis shouted down German Chancellor Merkel, who tried to make a speech asking for compassion for refugees.
But, of course, Merkel herself is responsible for the refugee problem that is destabilizing Europe. Without Germany as Washington’s two-bit punk puppet state, a non-entity devoid of sovereignty, a non-country, a mere vassal, an outpost of the Empire, ruled from Washington, America could not be conducting the illegal wars that are producing the hordes of refugees that are over-taxing Europe’s ability to accept refugees and encouraging neo-nazi parties.
The corrupt European and American press present the refugee problem as if it has nothing whatsoever to do with America’s war crimes against seven countries. I mean, really, why should peoples flee countries when America is bringing them “freedom and democracy?”
Nowhere in the Western media other than a few alternative media websites is there an ounce of integrity. The Western media is a Ministry of Truth that operates full-time in support of the artificial existence that Westerners live inside The Matrix where Westerners exist without thought. Considering their inaptitude and inaction, Western peoples might as well not exist.
More is going to collapse on the brainwashed Western fools than mere stock values.
Former Defense Intelligence Agency head Gen. Michael Flynn is not backing down from his claims that elements of the US government were aware of and supported the rise of jihadists in Syria as a means by which to overthrow its president, Bashar Assad.
As the US moves ever closer to a full-out invasion of Syria the lack of media interest in Flynn’s story is reminiscent of the one-sided (pro-war) coverage of the run up to the 2003 Iraq War.
More on the disturbing new revelations in a special edition of the Ron Paul Liberty Report:
Today, Global Research brings to the attention of its readers a selection of analytical articles relating to the global economy.
Around the world, billions of dollars of wealth are seamlessly being moved from one hand to another, from one country to the next.
The global economy is run by powerful economic networks which undermine national sovereignty. These networks are controlled by non-representative neo-conservative “intellectuals” and corporate banking elites.
Below, you will see how such an agenda can lead to sketchy bailouts, rigged financial markets and covert transactions by central bankers.
The financial press and the mass media concocted an image of Syriza as “far left” or “hard left”. In fact, Syriza did everything possible to destroy the hopes of the majority of downwardly mobile Greeks desperate for a reversal of the shock austerity policies imposed by the EU.
Financial markets are rigged by the megabanks. Powerful financial institutions including JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, et al and their affiliated hedge funds have the ability of “pushing up” the stock market and then “pulling it down”.
The current market mayhem was perfectly predictable (and predicted by analysts), and the central banks not only stayed the course but actually doubled down with more and more QE injections. This crisis was engineered by the central banks. The banksters did it. And unless we derail their agenda, they’re going to do it again.
Crashing global stock markets are a reminder about the interdependence of today’s world economy and a wake-up call to those who think that the neocon-driven ideology of endless chaos doesn’t carry a prohibitively high price.
If central banks cannot properly conduct monetary policy, how can they conduct an equity policy? Some astute observers believe that the Swiss National Bank is acting as an agent for the Federal Reserve and purchases large blocs of US equities at critical times to arrest stock market declines that would puncture the propagandized belief that all is fine here in the US economy.
President Bashar al-Assad asserted that terrorists are the true tool of the Israeli aggression on Syria and that the terrorists’ acts are more dangerous than Israel’s, therefore confronting Israel requires confronting its tools first.
In an interview given to al-Manar TV, President al-Assad said the essence of the crisis in Syria is foreign interference, and once this interference ceases in all its forms, then it would be possible to say that the crisis is in its final stages, because then confronting terrorism would be easier.
His Excellency said that so far, there is no suitable environment or essential elements for the political track to succeed in reaching a solution for the crisis, noting that the states that support terrorism are imposing figures in any dialogue that represent these states and not the Syrian state.
President al-Assad said that the United States doesn’t want terrorism to triumph, and at the same time doesn’t want to become weak to the point that stability is achieved in the region; rather the United States wants matters to continue moving towards chaos and wakening all states, adding that the crisis proved that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a mere puppet with dreams, the last of these dreams being the buffer zone, but he can’t move in this direction without the approval of his U.S. master.
He stressed that defending the homeland isn’t just by bearing arms; rather defending the homeland is done by all things that make it stronger and more resilient in the face of attacks, adding that the Syrians’ hope for victory is the incentive for confronting terrorists and the plot devised for Syria.
President al-Assad said that if any international envoy were completely impartial, then the west wouldn’t have approved them, and so the biased statements of envoys are part of their role. He also reiterated that any initiative must respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and leave the decision to the Syrian people while prioritizing counterterrorism.
Following is the full interview:
Syrians’ hope for victory is the incentive for confronting terrorists and the plot
In response to a question on Syria’s confidence in emerging victorious from the terrorist war waged on it and what this confidence is based on, President al-Assad said that if there hadn’t been hope of victory among the citizens, then Syria wouldn’t have persevered for four and a half year.
“This hope is the incentive for confronting terrorists and confronting the plot devised for Syria and applied in it like it was applied in a number of other Arab countries,” he said.
“We rely firstly on people, of course after relying on God, but if you don’t have public support then you cannot withstand. If you don’t have public support then there is no value for any political or national direction you adopt as a president or official or state. First, you rely on the people, and second on friends who stand firm alongside Syria and support in the region and in the world,” His Excellency said.
On the opinions that imply that the crisis in Syria is currently in its last quarter, President al-Assad said “I can’t say that we have reached the last quarter until the cessation of the basis of the problem in Syria which seems complicated and has many details and intertwined elements. But the essence of this problem is foreign interference, the paying of funds, and sending weapons and terrorists to Syria.
When we reach the stage where the countries involved in conspiring on Syria and in shedding Syrian blood stop supporting terrorism, then we can say that we are in the last quarter, because other details that are called a political solution or a political track or anything similar become simple details and of little value, and when we say ‘of little value’ this means that they aren’t essential in resolving the crisis, and they become details on which an agreement can be reached.
His Excellency asserted that once foreign support stops, combating terrorists becomes much easier, and until now that point hasn’t been reached, adding “the general atmosphere may show a shift, true, that shift exists, but a shift is one thing and reaching the end of the crisis is something else. It might be close; I’m not making things out to be melancholic or showing pessimism, but sometimes before reaching the last quarter, you witness a massive escalation. The escalation may be an indicator of reaching the last quarter, but we’re not there yet.”
On how everyone should interpret President al-Assad’s talk of a political solution, President al-Assad said that he doesn’t use the term “political solution” but rather the term “political track,” as the solution is the solution of a problem, and a solution consists of various sides including combating terrorism and a political side based on what was proposed during the beginning of the problem.
“It was proposed that the crisis had political causes. This is incorrect. As I said before, the cause is foreign interference, but we went along with all that was proposed. They said the problem is about the constitution, so we amended the constitution. They said the problem is about the laws, so we changed the laws. They said the problem is about the economic track of the state’s economic policies, so we changed many of those policies at that time. We may be wrong, and they may be right, but at the same time we wanted to prove to others that those proposals were untrue,” President al-Assad explained.
For political track to have an effect, it must be between Syrian independent political forces
Now, they propose that there must be dialogue with political forces to reach a solution for the crisis, and we say there’s no reason not to do so; let those forces that present themselves as representatives of the Syrian people come and prove that they represent them or have influence, and we would hold dialogue with them without hesitation. This is what is called the political track.
“But in fact, for this political track to have an effect, it must be between Syrian independent political forces that belong to the Syrian people and have their roots in Syria and Syria alone, unlike what we see now in several of the forces we hold dialogue with that are bound financially and politically to foreign sides,” His Excellency said.
President al-Assad said that the political dialogue and track are essential not just to resolve the crisis, but also to develop Syria. However, the elements or environment necessary to have this dialogue reach final results haven’t coalesced yet, and this is accompanied by the continuing support for terrorism, which constitutes a huge obstacle hindering any actual and productive political effort on the ground.
Oman has important role in dealing with various points of tension in region and cooling them down
On the recent involvement of Oman and the visit paid to it by Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem and how that may be one of the keys for solution, President al-Assad said that Oman has an important role in dealing with various points of tension in the region and cooling them down, leading to a solution, and it’s self-evident that the Foreign Minister’s visit is in the context of resolving the crisis, and it’s also self-evident that the Omani role is to help resolve the crisis.
His Excellency said that these meetings aimed to inform the Omani side about the Syrian vision of how to reach a solution, and at the same time they are assessing the regional and international conditions through their relations to achieve a specific thing, adding that it’s still too early to talk about the role Oman could play, as we should wait for this dialogue to proceed to see where things are going.
Regarding the repeated Israeli aggressions on Syrian territories that took place recently and how to deal with them, and if the Zionist enemy could create a different status quo in Syria or in the occupied Syrian Golan, President al-Assad said “if we look at Lebanon’s experience during the past few decades, what emboldened Israel against the Lebanese? It was the fact that some of the Lebanese were connected to foreign sides. Some of them were connected to Israel. Some called and begged for foreign interference in its various forms,” stressing that that gave an image and weakness, and thus the Israeli enemy was emboldened against Lebanon.
He said that the same thing applies to Syria, as when there are Syrian groups that accept to deal with enemies, whether Israel or other enemies, and call them to interfere in Syria, then this would embolden others against Syria.
If we want to confront Israel, we have to face its tools, the terrorists, within Syria
“Today, the main Israeli tool that is more important than that aggression are the terrorists in Syria, meaning that what they do is much more dangerous than what Israel does from time to time to support them. They are the basis of the problem. So, if we want to confront Israel, first we have to face its tools within Syria. You cannot confront an external enemy when you have an internal enemy. This matter must be resolved within Syria, and then things will be back to the way they were, and no-one would dare act against Syria; not Israel nor anyone else,” President al-Assad asserted.
On whether Israel’s awareness that Syria’s priority is fighting Takfiri terrorists made it rush into committing those aggression, President al-Assad said this could be a contributing factor, but the main factor is that there are those who are ready to cooperate with the Israeli enemy, who are prepared to receive treatment in its hospitals, and who are audacious enough to praise Israel for attacking their homeland on social media.
The President stressed that the strength of a country is primarily based on the unity of the people before relying on its army or political system, and the greater part of the people are unified, but when there are elements of treason, extremism, and terrorism, then these points constitute weak points that cannot be ignored, and must be dealt with when other elements become secondary.
Regarding the change in the rules of engagement with the Israeli enemy, something which Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, had mentioned, President al-Assad said “Of course, taking into account the difference between Syria and Lebanon; the geographic difference and demographic difference in terms of borders. On the borders between the resistance and Israel, there is the Lebanese resistance on the Lebanese side, but on the borders between us and Israel, there are agents of Israel, ones that are similar to the Lahad army and Saad Haddad army in the past, therefore this issue must be dealt with before the geographic or political issues that follow.”
On the confusion regarding the interpretations of some of the things said by President al-Assad in his latest speech, specifically regarding the army and its influence and regarding “giving the country to Iran and Hezbollah,” His Excellency said “regarding the first point, I was clear and candid. There is no doubt that times of war lead to more army desertion cases. I said that clearly in the speech; I didn’t deny it and I speak transparently with the Syrian citizen. We don’t care what the malicious media says. This has a negative impact in any battle and in any army, and this happened even to the United States during the Vietnam War and to all armies. However, when this war is of a special type and you’re finding an enemy with limitless resources – particularly in terms of manpower – then its effect becomes stronger.”
On the issue of retreating from some areas, President al-Assad reiterated that retreating and advances have occurred in the same areas in less than a month, which is natural in wars, and he focused on that point in his speech to motivate youths to join the armed forces.
Defending homeland isn’t just by bearing arms, but also by making it more resilient
Regarding the second point, which was raised when he said that “the homeland is for those who defend it,” President al-Assad said that this is correct, but defending the homeland isn’t done just by bearing arms, explaining “for example, adversaries and enemies want Syria to fall, or, in one of the stages if that isn’t possible, they want it to be paralyzed in all aspects of life to prepare for its fall. Everyone who stands against this paralysis is defending the homeland, everyone who is doing their daily work. Employees, businessmen, doctors treating patients, those who help the poor, those who try to spread patriotic values and high morals; all of those are defending the homeland.”
President al-Assad noted that there are those who are living abroad but defend Syria in whatever way they can based on their positions and resources, and all those are patriotic people, while at the same time there are people living in Syria who are wishing for NATO airstrikes or maybe foreign forces to enter on land, adding “I don’t mean presence in the literal meaning, nor defense in the literal meaning of carrying a gun; I mean everyone who is defending the homeland by making it more resilient and strengthening the elements that keep it standing in the face of attacks, and here I’m only talking about Syrians.”
Was de Mistura impartial, the US and the West wouldn’t have brought him
On the evaluation of the work done by UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura, who continues to make accusations against the Syrian state in his statements, President al-Assad said “we’re used to this. It’s difficult for some to come with the approval of the United States and the West for the reason that they’re impartial. If that person was impartial, they wouldn’t have brought that person.
Now we see those biased statements. He talks about deaths among terrorists. Of coruse, for them, everyone who is killed is an innocent civilian as if there are no terrorists and as if they aren’t bearing arms. And at the same time, when there are civilian martyrs due to terrorists’ shelling of Damascus or Aleppo or any other area in Syria with rockets, we hear no statements from them. This is the role they’re required to play, and if they don’t, they will have no place, and someone else will come instead. This is the truth.
On whether de Mistura has a chance of steering the crisis towards a solution or if he’s just performing a role, President al-Assad said that when the envoy proposed the issue of reconciliation in Aleppo, the Syrian government supported it directly without hesitation, adding that in practice, issues in international relations aren’t based on trust because things change all the time; rather relations are based on mechanisms, and it isn’t an issue of personal relations, because relations among states or with organizations or figures representing states or organizations or the UN, then the relation is based on mechanisms.
We won’t support any proposal by UN mediators if it doesn’t suit our national interests
“In order to say that we can proceed with de Mistura in his initiative, we have to wait to see which initiative is logical and what the suitable mechanisms to implement this initiative are. The Aleppo initiative was good, but there were no mechanisms and he wasn’t allowed to implement or propose mechanisms, therefore we weren’t able to support him because the initiative was stillborn,” President al-Assad explained, adding that this has been a recurring theme with mediators, adding “if they don’t propose something that suits us and suits our national interests, we won’t support them and we won’t proceed with them.”
President al-Assad addressed a question regarding the manipulations of statements in the media, particularly regarding the Russian position, where while Moscow asserts the strength of its relations with Syria and that it hasn’t abandoned it, U.S. President Obama comes up and claims that Russia and Iran believe that the situation isn’t in President al-Assad’s favor, with His Excellency saying that to figure out which is the more correct statement, one must look at the political course or performance of a state. Regarding Russia, the President said that evaluating it requires looking at its behavior for decades, how it treats states, peoples, friends, and opponents, and contrasting that behavior to the behavior of the U.S., at which point one would see where the truth lies.
US has backstabbing policy, Russia’s policy is based on principles
“The United States, throughout its history, has been elusive with its statements, and of course as time went on, this quality for the United States became the basis of policy. This means that what one official says, another official will contradict within days, and what one official says in the morning in a speech or a statement, they will say the opposite on the next day. This is one of the qualities of U.S. policies; abandoning allies, abandoning friends, backstabbing,” he said.
His Excellency said that on the other hand, Russia’s policy was never like that, not during the days of the Soviet Union and not now, asserting that Russia’s policy is based on principles and growing more so, and therefore when the Russian Foreign Minister makes several statements and other officials make statements in the same context, it becomes obvious that Russia’s policy is concrete.
The President asserted that Russia doesn’t support individuals or a specific president, saying that this would be unacceptable and would constitute interference in internal affairs; rather Russia supports specific principles which are the sovereignty of state and people.
We have great trust in the Russians, they aim at pushing for dialogue to cut off calls for war
On Russian efforts now that Geneva 3 is looming, President al-Assad said “We have great trust in the Russians, and they have proved throughout this crisis for four years now that they are honest and transparent with us in relations and that they are principled. These are important points. So, when they meet various sides, we don’t feel concern that these sides might distort the true image for the Russians. The Russians have close relations with Syria and are capable of finding out about all that is happening accurately. We believe the goal of the Russians is to bring political sides towards dialogue to cut off calls for war.
This is the goal, but in the end there won’t be an agreement over anything unless we the Syrians sit with each other and hold dialogue with each other. It won’t be the Russians who impose any solution, so we encourage them to meet all forces and we are relieved when a Russian official meets any figure, without exception.
His Excellency went on to say that these meetings seek to pave the way towards either Geneva 3 or Moscow 3, and this naturally depends on the international climate and not just Russia, as there are various forces involved with the United States at their forefront.
On whether these forces would go towards Geneva or Moscow, the President said that the difference is that Moscow 3 would work towards finding common denominators and therefore would make Geneva 3 easier and less likely to fail, which would avoid repeating the Geneva 1 and Geneva 2 scenarios that failed to achieve anything.
Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, decision of its people and combating terrorism are the principles when dealing with any initiative
On the principles that set Syria’s position regarding any initiative, President al-Assad said that first among those is Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the decision of the Syrian people, which means that there can be no dictations from any side and that any decision must be purely Syrian.
“Practically, there must be basis of any initiative, one that begins at and is based on combating terrorism. Any initiative that doesn’t contain an article on fighting terrorism as a priority has no value,” he asserted.
Regarding some proposals that suggest things like revising the constitution or holding elections under international supervision, His Excellency said that things like revising the constitution aren’t a problem as long as they result from a Syrian decision and from national dialogue and accord, but elections under international supervision are unacceptable as they constitute interference in sovereignty, wondering “which international side is authorized to give us a certificate of good behavior? We don’t accept that.”
He noted that in the last presidential elections, a number of states sent observers in the context of cooperation, not in the context of supervision, and in this context there can be cooperation with friends to assert that what is happening in Syria is a proper and democratic political process.
“However, bringing in international organizations… international organizations need certificates of good behavior showing that they are impartial, and they are in no position to give us certificates,” the President added.
On the relation between the crisis in Syria and the nuclear Iranian deal, and whether Syria could be a victim in this regard or was an offering that provided gains, President al-Assad asserted that Syria is certainly not a victim, simply because it wasn’t a part of the nuclear negotiations, despite the fact that western forces tried to coerce Iran to involve the Syrian issue as a part of the nuclear issue in order to get concessions from Iran regarding its support for Syria, but Iran was adamant and refused this completely, which was a correct, objective, and smart decision.
“Was Syria presented as an offering? Certainly not, but we could say that Syria made offerings,” the President elaborated, saying that when one’s allies are strong, that makes you strong, and when they are weakened, you are weakened as well, but saying that Syria’s steadfastness led to the nuclear deal is an oversimplification as the deal is the result of a long process that was started by the Iranian people a long time ago, with Iran withstanding pressure for 12 years and holding fast to its principles throughout the negotiations during the past two years.
“In this context, the steadfastness and unity of the Iranian people regarding the nuclear issue are the two most important factors that led to this achievement. As for the Syrian factor, perhaps I can’t be certain; the Iranians are best suited to specify this point, but it could have been one of the contributing factors,” he added.
In answer to a question on whether the world is heading toward a new form of coalition, with Syria possibly being closer to a coalition with Iran than with anyone else, President al-Assad said that the alliance between Syria and Iran is 35 years old, and so being allied to Iran and vice versa is nothing new, noting that when Iran was subjected to an unjust war, Syria stood by its side, and now that Syria is subjected to an unjust war, Iran is standing by its side.
Iran’s strength will strengthen Syria, and Syria’s victory will be a victory for Iran
Regarding the political scene after Syria emerges victorious and Iran’s potential role in it, President al-Assad said that what would change is probably the influence of the Syrian-Iranian alliance on the international arena, because Iran now has more prospects to play a bigger role in it, and Iran’s strength will strengthen Syria, and in the same way Syria’s victory will be a victory for Iran.
His Excellency said that Syria and Iran share viewpoints and have mutual principles, and they form the axis of resistance, and so the principles will not change; only some tactics may change, or maybe some results on the ground.
In response to a question on the disillusionment of Syrians over the state of the Arab nation and whether he excuses that feeling, President al-Assad said “Excusing it doesn’t mean that we all pursue that direction. We excuse them because conditions promoted citizens to turn against Arabism, and this is a fact for most citizens. This promoted them to make no distinction between true, genuine Arabism and those who hide behind Arabism while in fact their hearts, minds, sentiments, and interests lie elsewhere that is completely outside the region.
This is similar to what has happened in the past, maybe in several areas, but less than before; confusing those who exploit Islam like the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist and terrorist organizations with true Islam. There was confusion; they believed that all those who use the word Islam or Muslim are true Muslim. This confusion happens constantly.
I would like to say to everyone who doubts or confuses the two issues that Arabism is an identity we cannot abandon. You belong to a family, and maybe one person or more from that family would treat you wrong, but even if you change your surname, you will continue to belong to that family in your upbringing, identity, nature, and everything about you. You cannot emerge from the identity. The Arab identity isn’t a choice; to belong to a religion and a nationality is your identity, and when you would reach this point, this is what the enemies want: for us to disavow ourselves of our identity. The essence of the cause now and the wars that are happening isn’t about toppling regimes; rather this is a stage and a tool, nor is it about undermining states and economy. All those are tools. The final goal is undermining the identity, and when we would reach that point preemptively, we will be giving the enemies a free present that precludes their need later for military intervention or for using terrorists.
Iraqis are aware the enemy is one, unifying the battle gives better results
On the effect of the political activity in Iraq on the coordination between Syria and Iraq, the President asserted that coordination with Iraq hasn’t been affected negatively, as Iraqis are aware that they are embroiled in the same battle against a mutual enemy, and that what happens in Syria will reflect on Iraq and vice versa, so by unifying the battle, like what is happening between Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, there are better results in less time and at a lower cost.
Regarding what the difference is between the presence of Hezbollah fighters in Syria and the other side having foreign fighters, the President said that the difference lies in legitimacy, stressing that Hezbollah entered Syria through agreement with the Syrian state which is the legitimate, elected representative of the Syrian people and is supported by their majority, so the state has the right to invite forces to defend the Syrian people, while the other forces are terrorists who came to murder Syrians and against the will of the people and the state.
The relationship with Nasrallah is one of a resistant state and a true resistant figure
On the President’s relation with Nasrallah, His Excellency said that this relation is strong and dates back to more than 20 years ago, and any observer can see that this is a relation characterized by honesty and transparency, as Nasrallah is absolutely honest, transparent, principled, and loyal to his principles and his associates and friends to the extreme.
“The relationship is one of a resistant state and a true resistant figure who gave his son in defense of Lebanon,” President al-Assad said, adding that evaluating a relationship requires a third person to observe it and talk about it.
When asked about how the Syrian Armed Forces commit to ceasefire orders when they receive them, and who has the decision to uphold a ceasefire on the other side, President al-Assad said that this very issue was discussed with envoys who talked about ceasefire, noting that he rejects this term because ceasefire is between states and armies, not between a state and terrorist groups, so terms like “ceasing operations” or “appeasement” are preferred.
“However, we asked envoys the same thing; if you want a ceasefire, then which is the group and who is the leader? Who will commit to you? What are their numbers? They used to say that they estimate the presence of hundreds, or more than a thousand, some said 1,200, groups. Maybe after mergers now they’re in the hundreds. But you make a good point; there is no-one who can vouch for all those groups, although we know that they are subservient to other forces. So, we can’t say that these forces can hold those groups to a decision, because those groups are also involved in acts of robbery, theft, corruption, and immorality, and only commit to decisions when it suits them. Therefore, no group or state or side can make those sides comply with any appeasement or cessation of combat activity, even for a brief time,” the President said.
Any alliance or act or dialogue that leads to stopping bloodshed is a priority
On how Syria can be a part of a coalition to fight terrorism alongside those it accuses of supporting terrorism, President al-Assad said that politics is about achieving goals, and goals must be in the interest of the Syrian people, so any alliance or act or step or dialogue that leads to stopping the shedding of Syrian blood must be a priority and must be pursued without hesitation.
“What concerns us is the result on the ground. Logically, as you said, it’s impossible for states that supported terrorism to fight terrorism, but there remains a slight chance that those states want to atone or they realized that they were moving in the wrong direction, or maybe they have purely self-serving reasons and are worried over terrorism spreading to their countries, so they decided to fight terrorism. So, there is no objection. What matters is to manage to form an alliance that fights terrorism. The Syrian Foreign Minister said this would be a miracle… but what if it happened? Would we reject it? Of course we wouldn’t reject it, we would pursue it,” His Excellency said.
On the escalation by Saudi Arabia against Syria, specifically the statements of the Saudi Foreign Minister following reports of Syrian-Saudi meetings, President al-Assad said that media escalation is of no concern, as what matters is actual practices of states, so when a state supports terrorism, then what value does media escalation or media appeasement have?
The Saudi state supports terrorists in Syria, this is a fact everyone knows
“This is what concerns us, and in the end the result is the same, meaning that with and without escalation, the Saudi state supports terrorists in Syria, this is a fact that everyone knows, so escalation here is meaningless,” he said, adding that in terms of the verbal escalation, then Syria could respond in a similar manner and ask what one would expect from a group that hasn’t entered human civilization?
“Would one expect them discourse that is moral, objective, has a political dimension, or is wise? We shouldn’t expect any of those. If we do expect that, then the problem lies with us, not with them,” he said.
On the President’s statements in his last speech on opposition and how some observers said the opposition is treated as an incidental situation and not a deep-rooted situation capable of influencing public opinion, His Excellency reiterated that if dialogue is to produce results, it must be among patriotic Syrians whose roots are in Syria.
“But in dealing with reality, the most important question is who has influence? Meaning that if we hold an in-depth dialogue with patriotic figures that have no influence, and we reached results and said let’s apply these results and they say we have no influence on the ground, then what good is that dialogue? We would be wasting time,” he said.
President al-Assad stressed that dialogue must be with patriotic and influential figures, and while some have various levels of influence, the major problem is that most of those with whom dialogue is held aren’t patriotic, and this is something imposed by the states that support terrorism and interfere in dialogue, as those states want figures to represent them, not the Syrian people. Therefore, both patriotism and influence on the ground are the essential criteria, especially since terrorists have openly refused to deal with the so-called foreign opposition.
If Washington’s training for Syrian opposition figures was embarrassing or confusing to the Syrian accounts or not, President al-Assad said this is an episode in a long series, so if we were to worry, we have to worry about the series… This series is a continued conspiring one against Syria that will not stop at this crisis… this episode, in itself, would not change anything in the context of terrorism in Syria because if it wouldn’t train those, there are other countries that train others and there are other countries which support, send weapons and money… the track of events in Syria wouldn’t stop at this group… there is another thing which is bigger and more dangerous that we would worry about, it is the West’s disregard, on top the US, of the danger of terrorism in the whole region.
On the US stance and if it inclines into more strictness or into imposing recognition of fait accompli that wouldn’t come in the interest of the US administration, the President said “strictness or leniency is a feature of the US stance which doesn’t embody the reality of the US policy… strictness or leniency sometimes aims at a psychological war, sometimes sending messages to the lobbies inside the US, so reading those stances wouldn’t give the real image of the US stance.
As for the truth about equation being raised that “Syria is in return for Yemen,” President al-Assad said that this is proposed in media, but in reality, we didn’t hear it from any friendly country, like Russia or Iran, and maybe Iran would be more concerned in this issue as it is located in the Gulf, but this issue was not proposed to us.
Erdogan is a puppet with big dreams, the latest is “the buffer zone”
Answering a question about to any extent the Turkish talk on the “buffer zone” and the possibility of implementing that is taken seriously, the President said “Erdogan has dreams… big dreams to be a leader, to be a Muslim brotherhood sultan… he wants to combine between the experiment of Sultanate and that of the new Muslim brotherhood on which he has built great aspirations… those dreams have collapsed now… what remains is his aspirations that his masters respond to him as Erdogan and Davutoglu have proven in this crisis that they are mere puppets that have a big dream in Syria; which is the dream of ‘buffer zone’, and it is the last dream after all their previous dreams in Syria were doomed.”
On Jordan’s talk about a “buffer zone” and the presence of a joint military and security operations room, President al-Assad said “Is Jordan talking about a Jordanian decision or an American decision? this is the question. When a country or an official says something, we have to ask to what extent this official or that country is independent to give their opinion.”
Answering a question on what the Jordanian king seeks through his involvement in the crisis in Syria, the President said “We go back to the same question, ‘Is Jordan independent in its polices so that to ask for its vision or the vision of its officials…When it proves it is independent, then we can discuss. Until now, the majority of the Arab countries are directed by the US’s steering wheel and have no role.”
We want Egypt to play the brotherly country and not act as launching pad against other Arab countries
On the Syrian-Egyptian relations and the responsibility of Egypt for the delay of their return, President al-Assad said “We definitely care for the relationship with Egypt…Communication between Syria and Egypt did not break even under Morsi…There are a number of institutions in Egypt that rejected to sever the relations and continued to communicate with Syria, and we listened to national and pan-Arab discourse from them.
“What we want, at the first stage, is that Egypt not act as a launching pad against Syria or against any other Arab country, but at the next stage, we want Egypt to play the role of the important country…the brotherly important influential country that helps the other Arab countries.”
On the possibility of Egypt making use of the Syrian experience in combating terrorism that is spreading in its land, the President said “What I said about communication, we said it through direct communication between us and them on the level of important officials, mainly security officials from Syria and Egypt in the past few weeks…they have a vision on how to benefit from Syria and we now have a vision on how to benefit from Egypt. We will definitely reach that point through this communication… the important thing is that we have now deep experience in this issue gained through the past four years and few months and before that through our struggle with the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1970s and early 1980s.”
The President said the relations between “Syria and Egypt are the ones that achieve balance in the Arab arena… Syria believes that it stands in the same trench with the Egyptian army and with the Egyptian people against terrorists” who continuously change their names; taking once the name of Muslim Brotherhood and the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in other times.
Asked about any possible additional measures to ease the Syrian citizens’ living conditions, President al-Assad referred to the reconstruction project that has kicked off and is moving forward with steady steps, referring also to the relaunching of several production projects.
“In spite of all conditions, we still have the ability to get the economy to take off gain” no matter how slowly or not much effectively at this stage, said the President, referring also to continued efforts towards administrative reform, combating corruption and providing more financial and tax-related facilitations.
The British Labour Party no longer represents the working class. Under UK prime minister Tony Blair, the Labour Party became a vassal of the One Percent. The result has been a rebellion in the ranks and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, a principled Labourite intent on representing the people, a no-no in Western “democracies.”
Corbyn is too real for the Labour Party Blairites, who hope to be rewarded with similar nest eggs as Blair for representing the capitalist One Percent. So what is the corrupted Labour Party doing to prevent Corbyn’s election?
The answer is that it is denying the vote to Corbyn supporters. You can read the story here:
The illegal Egyptian military dictatorship that overthrew on Washington’s orders the first democratically elected government in Egyptian history has issued an edict prohibiting journalists from contradicting the military dictatorship. In brief, the dictatorship installed by Washington has outlawed facts.
Washington rejected the government that the Egyptian people elected, because it appeared that the democratically elected government would have a foreign policy that was at least partially independent of Washington’s. Remember, according to the neocons who, together with Israel, control US foreign policy, countries with independent foreign policies, such as Iran, Russia, and China, are America’s “greatest threats.”
The Egyptian military thugs, following Washington’s orders, have more or less eliminated all of the leadership of the political party that was democratically elected. The party was called the Muslim Brotherhood. In the presstitute Western media, the political party was described more or less as al Qaeda, and how are the ignorant, brainwashed, and propagandized Americans to know any difference? Certainly neither “their” government nor the presstitute media will ever tell them.
With the military dictatorship’s edict, independent news reporting no longer exists in Egypt. Washington is pleased and rewards the dictatorship with bags full of money paid by the hapless and helpless American taxpayers.
Americans should keep in mind that most of the dollars that they pay in income tax are spent either spying upon themselves and the world or killing people in many countries. Without resources taken from American taxpayers millions of women, children, and village elders would still be alive in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Ukraine, South Ossetia, and other countries. America is the greatest exporter of violence the world has ever known. So wear your patriotism on your sleeve and be proud. You are a depraved citizen of the world’s worst killer nation. Compared to the USA, Rome was a piker.
In the name of the “war on terror,” the French state is dramatically accelerating its use of clandestine operations to extra-judicially murder targeted individuals. French President François Hollande reportedly possesses a “kill list” of potential targets and constantly reviews the assassination program with high-ranking military and intelligence officers.
This program of state murder, violating basic constitutional rights in a country where the death penalty is illegal, underscores the profound decay of French bourgeois democracy. Amid escalating imperialist wars in France’s former colonial empire and deepening political crisis at home, the state is moving towards levels of criminality associated with the war against Algerian independence and the Vichy regime of Occupied France.
Where do you suppose the socialist president of France got his idea of an illegal and unconstitutional “kill list”? If you answer from “America’s First Black President,” you are correct.
The French people should be outraged that “their” president is nothing more than a murderer and an agent of Washington. But they aren’t. False flag operations have made them fearful. The French like other Western peoples, have ceased to think.
Every western democracy is gone with the wind. Washed up, Finished. Every value that defined Western civilization and made it great has been flushed by power and greed and arrogance.
Proconsuls have replaced democracy.
I certainly do not believe that Western civilization was ever pure as snow and devoid of sins and crimes against humanity. But it is a fact that in Western civilization, despite the numerous injustices, reforms were possible that improved life for the lower classes. Reforms were possible that restricted the rapaciousness of the rich and powerful. In the US reforms made the impossible come true: ladders of upward mobility made it possible for members of the lowest economic class to become multimillionaires. And this actually happened.
The governments in Washington committed many crimes, but on occasion Washington prevented crimes. Remember President Eisenhower’s ultimatum to Washington’s British, French, and Israeli allies to remove themselves from the Suez Canal in Egypt or else.
Today Washington pushes its allies to commit crimes against humanity. That is what NATO and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are for.
In my lifetime Americans have always had a good opinion of themselves. But in the 21st century this good opinion has hyper-jumped into hubris and arrogance. If you haven’t been around very long in terms of a human life, you don’t see this. But older people do.
Just as the Roman Empire ended in the destruction of the Roman people, the American Empire will end in the destruction of the American people. Judging from histories, Roman citizens were superior to American citizens; yet, Rome failed.
Americans shouldn’t expect any other outcome. The price to be paid for insouciance, self-satisfaction, and complicity is high.
The “Chinese dragon” of the last two decades may be faltering but it is still hailed by many as an economic miracle.
Far from a great advance for Chinese workers, however, it is the direct result of a consolidation of power in the hands of a small clique of powerful families, families that have actively collaborated with Western financial oligarchs.
This is the GRTV Backgrounder on Global Research TV, with James Corbett and Michel Chossudovsky.