Global Research Editor’s Note

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

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

The interview tends to demystify the Osama bin Laden persona.

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

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

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

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

We have highlighted key sections of this interview.

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

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

Michel  Chossudovsky, September 9, 2014


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

Ummat (in Urdu)

translated from Urdu

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

Ummat’s introduction

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

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

Following is the interview in full detail:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright Ummat in Urdu, BBC translation in English, 2001

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

September 11th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

 

Note to Readers: Remember to bookmark this page for future reference.
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[scroll down for I-BOOK Table of Contents]

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GLOBAL RESEARCH ONLINE

INTERACTIVE READER SERIES

GR I-BOOK No.  7 

THE 9/11 READER

The September 11, 2001 Terror Attacks

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

Michel Chossudovsky (Editor)

August 2012


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


 

INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to view video

VIDEO: AFTER 9/11: TEN YEARS OF WAR

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

***

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

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

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

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

Where was Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al Qaeda is a US Intelligence Asset

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

VIDEO (30 Sec.)

The Collapse of the World Trade Center Buildings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Collapse of WTC Building Seven

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

The Collapse of WTC Building Seven.

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

Coverup and Complicity

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

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

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

War Propaganda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Alleged Role of Iraq in the 9/11 Attacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran: Alleged State Sponsor of 9/11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al Qaeda: US-NATO Foot-soldiers

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents of the 9/11 Reader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PART  I

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

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

PART II

What Happened on the Planes

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

 

PART III

What Caused the Collapse of

The WTC Buildings and the Pentagon?

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

PART IV

Lies and Fabrications: The 9/11 Commission Report

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

PART  V

Foreknowledge of 9/11

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

PART VI

Insider Trading and the 9/11 Financial Bonanza

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

PART VII

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

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

 

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

PART VIII

The Alleged 9/11 Mastermind:

The Life and Death of  Osama bin Laden

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

PART  IX

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

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

PART X

“Deep Events” and State Violence

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

PART XI

Propaganda: Creating and Perpetuating the 9/11 Legend

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

PART XII

Post 9/11 “Justice”

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

PART XIII

9/11 Truth

Revealing the Lies,  Commemorating the 9/11 Tragedy

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

*   *  *

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

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

Order Directly from Global Research

America's War on Terrorism

Salafism and the CIA: Destabilizing the Russian Federation?

September 14th, 2012 by F. William Engdahl

Part I: Syria comes to the Russian Caucasus

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fundamentalism comes to Caucasus

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

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

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

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

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

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

*  *  *

WWIII Scenario

*  *  *

 

Part II: Salafism at war with Sufi tradition

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

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

Before and…After Salafist Taliban …

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

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

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

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

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

Salafism and the CIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part III: Morsi’s Reign of Salafi Terror

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

[4] Ibid.

[5] Mairbek Vatchagaev, op. cit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[14] Ibid.

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

[16] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

[21] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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.

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

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

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

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

….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PRESS RELEASE

A path breaking decision which will have far reaching impacts on civil and political rights in the Republic of Korea (ROK) is forthcoming.

A decision from the Constitutional Court in South Korea regarding the dissolution of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) is imminent.

On November 5, 2013, the South Korean government requested that the Korean Constitutional Court initiate dissolution proceedings against the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), the third largest political party in Korea, following the arrest of one if its members, the parliamentarian Lee Seok-Ki.

Representative Lee (image right) was accused (allegedly on trumped up charges) and later convicted of violating South Korea’s national security law and for planning a future incitement of violence. The incitement of violence charge was reversed by the ROK Court of Appeals. His case is now pending on appeal before South Korea’s Supreme Court.

A vote in favor of dissolution of the UPP by the Constitutional Court would carry significant implications for political expression and civil rights in South Korea. As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, South Korea is obligated under international law to protect freedom of assembly and expression. After a year of hearings into the matter, there is little or no evidence that the UPP is a “threat” to the South Korean constitutional or legal order, and there is a risk that dissolution would be little more than an attempt by the government to chill political speech with which it disagrees.

As part of its efforts to avoid dissolution, the UPP consulted with American lawyers and secured a legal opinion from the law office of Comar Law in San Francisco, which submitted legal opinions both to the Korean Constitutional Court as well as to the United Nations, asking that the judges side in favor of the rule of law and freedom of political expression.

For Media inquiries

Inder Comar, Esq., Comar Law, San Francisco, California, [email protected]

Michel Chossudovsky, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), [email protected]

Earlier this evening China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange’s (SAFE) Wang Yungui noted “the impact of the Russian Ruble depreciation was unclear yet, and, as Bloomberg reported, “SAFE is closely watching Ruble’s depreciation and encouraging companies to hedge Ruble risks.”

His comments also echoed the ongoing FX reform agenda aimed at increasing Yuan flexibility which The South China Morning Post then hinted in a story entitled “Russia may seek China help to deal with crisis,” which which noted that Russia could fall back on its 150 billion yuan ($24 billion) currency swap agreement with China if the ruble continues to plunge, that was signed in October. Furthermore, two bankers close to the PBOC reportedly said the swap-line was meant to reduce the role of the US dollar if China and Russia need to help each other overcome a liquidity squeeze.

As Bloomberg reported, earlier in the evening, China’s Wang Yungui noted

  • *CHINA IS CLOSELY WATCHING RUBLE’S DEPRECIATION: SAFE’S WANG
  • *CHINA ENCOURAGES COS. TO HEDGE RUBLE RISKS, SAFE’S WANG SAYS
  • *REAL IMPACT OF RUBLE DEPRECIATION UNCLEAR YET, SAFE’S WANG SAYS

Adding that China plans sweeping reforms to promote FX flexibility.

And then The South China Morning Post hints,

Russia could fall back on its 150 billion yuan (HK$189.8 billion) currency swap agreement with China if the rouble continues to plunge.

If the swap deal is activated for this purpose, it would mark the first time China is called upon to use its currency to bail out another currency in crisis. The deal was signed by the two central banks in October, when Premier Li Keqiang visited Russia.

“Russia badly needs liquidity support and the swap line could be an ideal tool,” said Bank of Communications chief economist Lian Ping.

The swap allows the central banks to directly buy yuan and rouble in the two currencies, rather than via the US dollar.

Two bankers close to the People’s Bank of China said it was meant to reduce the role of the US dollar if China and Russia need to help each other overcome a liquidity squeeze.

China has currency swap deals with more than 20 monetary authorities around the world. Swaps are generally used to settle trade.

“The yuan-rouble swap deal was not just a financial matter,” said Wang Feng, chairman of Shanghai-based private equity group Yinshu Capital. “It has political implications as it is a sign of mutual trust.”

The rouble has lost more than 50 per cent against the US dollar this year, pushing Russia to the brink of a currency crisis, though measures announced by the central bank helped it recover some ground yesterday.

Li Lifan, a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the swap would not be enough for Russia even if it is used in its entirety. ”The PBOC might agree to extend something like 15 billion yuan initially as a way of showing China’s commitment to Russia.”

As we discussed in October when the swap deal was signed,

…as if to assure all involved parties that there will be enough capital support on both sides, the PBOC released a surprising announcement that the central banks of China and Russia signed a 3-year, 150 billion yuan bilateral local-currency swap deal today, according to a statement posted on PBOC website. Deal can be expanded if both parties agree, statement says. Deal aims to make bilateral trade and direct investment more    convenient and promote economic development in 2 nations.

To be sure, some such as Bloomberg, are skeptical that the unprecedented pivot by Russia toward China as it shuns the west, will merely harm the Kremlin. Others, however, wonder: who will be left standing: Europe, with its chronic deficit of energy and reliance on Russia; or Russia, a country overflowing with natural resources, whose economy is currently undergoing a dramatic and painful shift, as it scrambles to dissolve all linkages to the Petrodollar and face the Gas-O-Yuan?

*  *  *

Is ‘isolated’ Russia about to be bailed out by the world’s largest economy China?

Perhaps, they already started…

 

But then again – with the BRICS currencies all turmoiling… (ZAR -22% not shown)

 

Perhaps it is not such a surprise as members take advantage of The BRICS Bank’s $100 Billion reserve…

The punchline, however, is that using bilateral swaps, the BRICS are effectively disintermediating themselves from a Fed and other “developed world” central-bank dominated world and will provide their own funding.

We are pleased to announce the signing of the Treaty for the establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) with an initial size of US$ 100 billion. This arrangement will have a positive precautionary effect, help countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures, promote further BRICS cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements…. The Agreement is a framework for the provision of liquidity through currency swaps in response to actual or potential short-term balance of payments pressures.

Incidentally, the role of the dollar in such a world is, well, nil.

For those who have forgotten who the BRICS are, aside from a droll acronym by a former Goldman banker, here is a reminder of the countries that make up 3 billion in population.

 

Chart: Bloomberg

It is being said today’s FOMC announcement is “the most important of Yellen’s tenure”, I could not disagree more.  In the past I have written pieces regarding the potential announcements by the FOMC and come to the conclusion “what can they possibly say?”.  This is more true now, Janet Yellen et al cannot “say” anything of substance because they cannot “do” anything of substance.  The Fed backed themselves into a corner of their own making several years ago, I believe it is only a matter of time before the markets “test” them.

What options does the Fed have?  Can they raise interest rates at all?  Can they tighten credit at all?  Can they really go the other way and institute truly negative interest rates?  The answers are all NO, they are “frozen” of their own making and have only one option (really two in tandem).  The Fed can only remain in place with interest rates nonexistent and must continually create (fund) debt and grow money supply while a Treasury arm, the PPT must guide, massage and dampen volatility of markets …ALL markets.  The only thing currently being discussed is “when” will the Fed tighten?  I would ask, when will QE 4 be instituted?  The answer of course is when the markets seriously begin to implode again which may not even be more than a calendar month or two away.

I am sure a part of their statement will include oil and energy prices.  This is a market they cannot heal with monetary policy.  The volatility has already occurred and the dead bodies already exist though we don’t yet know who they are.  The dilemma the Fed has is they have no tools left other than outright support once markets begin to collapse.  Their QE policies have already been seen as ineffective at supporting the real economy other than stabilizing decline.  My question is this, when QE 4 becomes a necessity, will the markets “buy it” or will the phrase “three strikes and your out” come into play?  What once worked to turn the real economy from contraction to recovery to an actual growth phase now has no power.  The Fed only has an accelerator so to speak, the brake pedal is off limits.  I have written many times on “velocity” and why it continues to decline.  This is the sticking point, the money they create is being hoarded by the banks and not reaching Main St..

With regards to velocity, it is worth pointing out what is happening in Russia to illustrate a fallacy of main stream thought.  As Jim Sinclair has tried to explain to anyone willing to listen, what comes our way in “dollar land” is a hyperinflation as a result of confidence breaking … a monetary event so to speak but one which results from human emotion.  Western economists have incorrectly brainwashed the public into believing a hyperinflation can only be caused by “over printing”.  This is ONLY one way, another way is when the currency itself loses confidence or credibility.  Or, in the case of the ruble, loses its perceived “funding” (via energy revenues).  Russia is in the midst of an early hyperinflation if the ruble continues to decline.  Watch as their economy “takes off” …briefly.  The Russian people see what is happening and are now in a rush to “exchange” (spend) their devaluing currency for “stuff”.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-2877124/Russian-ruble-way-down.html  THIS is another cause of hyperinflation, a currency going up in flames because of panicky velocity.

Tying this back to the U.S. and the Fed’s “FRN’s”, velocity is now at record lows …as are interest rates.  Neither can turn higher or the game is over.  We live in the most leveraged financial and fiscal system in all of history.  Interest rates cannot go up as they have in Russia.  Velocity on the other hand MUST turn higher but CANNOT, let me explain.  For any hope of the real economy moving higher, velocity must bottom and turn higher.  The problem is, once velocity turns higher, it cannot (I should say “won’t”) stop because this will mean the mindset or thought process has changed.

Look at it this way, the U.S. (the West) is facing the greatest potential margin call of all time.  The entire system is a margin call waiting to happen.  Less than 50% of the population supports a majority of the population.  Some people in the U.S. live paycheck to paycheck and have no savings whatsoever.  Real estate is completely levered, banks and brokers levered with all sorts of derivatives.  State and local government finances are in disarray while the federal government is in debt beyond 100% of GDP …with admitted debt, 10 times over with future obligations.  The Fed, for their part has become the biggest hedge fund in the world and have quintupled their balance sheet over 5 years …like I said, we await the biggest margin call of all time.  Never forget this, the dollar has value ONLY because the debt underlying has “value”, a margin call will erase this in a panicked heartbeat!

When this margin call does come (and it may already be happening as judged by the oil market), “velocity” will turn violently and overnight.  The turn in velocity will be a symptom/cause of our currency devaluing.  The rush out of dollars and into “stuff” as the Russians are now experiencing will in my opinion be far greater and much more rapid.  “Confidence” and “velocity” are inverse of each other.  We are currently at the height of confidence and the depths of velocity.  Confidence is truly the only piece of chewing gum holding the game together.

In the case of Russia, they have big brother China to stand by their side.  China has set up currency hubs all over the world, we will soon see why.  They also signed two major trade deals with Russia, the capital from these deals can and will be used to steady Russia.  Who will steady the U.S.?  Our markets have turned schizophrenic, up and down huge amounts on a daily basis.  Who will step up to support the U.S.?  In fact, if you look at the “direction” of the rest of the world, they seem to be trying to distance themselves from us.  By the time this is over, the world will be operating under a New World Order, just not the one American elites have envisioned.  In fact, I can see a world where power has shifted along with trading partners and alliances with the U.S. sitting in a self inflicted and isolated corner with a tin cup in hand …and a dunce cap on top!

Bill Holter, Miles Franklin associate writer.

Foto : Líderes caribeñs en la Havana (Cuba) en este mes para la cumbre de Caricom

Durante la Cumbre regional de la Comunidad del Caribe que tuvo lugar en La Habana en diciembre de 2014, los quince Estados miembros reclamaron unánimemente a Estados Unidos el fin de las sanciones contra Cuba. Mediante su presidente Gaston Browne, Primer Ministro de Antigua y Barbuda, la CARICOM exhortó a Washington a que abandonara la mentalidad de la Guerra Fría: “Llamo al presidente Obama a que levante inmediatamente este embargo absurdo”.[1]

Desde hace más de medio siglo, Estados Unidos impone sanciones económicas sumamente severas que afectan a todas las categorías de la población cubana y a todos los sectores de la sociedad. Dotadas de un carácter extraterritorial y retroactivo, constituyen una grave violación del Derecho Internacional y representan el principal obstáculo al desarrollo económico de la isla.

En octubre de 2014, por vigesimotercer año consecutivo, 188 países votaron a favor del levantamiento de las sanciones contra Cuba en la reunión anual de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas. Washington, otra vez, sufrió una estrepitosa derrota política y se encontró aislado en la escena internacional. Sólo Israel brindó su apoyo a Estados Unidos.

Wikicommons

La Cámara de Comercio de Estados Unidos, que representa al mundo de los negociaos y a casi tres millones de empresas, llamó a la Casa Blanca a que estableciera una nueva relación con La Habana. Thomas Donohue, su presidente, viajó a Cuba y lanzó un llamado a los responsables políticos estadounidenses: “Durante demasiados años, la relación entre nuestras naciones se definió por nuestras diferencias. Es tiempo de abrir un nuevo capítulo de las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Cuba, y ha llegado este momento […]. Es tiempo de eliminar las barreras políticas que se establecieron hace mucho tiempo y borrar nuestras diferencias. Eso está en el interés del pueblo americano y de las empresas americanas”. [4] A Donohue le encantó la belleza de la isla: “Cuba es un lugar maravilloso”. Llamó a Obama a que levantara las restricciones que pesan sobre los ciudadanos estadounidenses, a quienes se prohíbe viajar a Cuba, cuando puede ir a cualquier otro país del mundo. “Esperamos que los estadounidenses que no tengan familia en Cuba puedan viajar también”.[5]

Foto : Agencia Efe

Presidente de Cuba, Raúl Castro recebió jefes de gobierno y de Estado en la isla

En un largo editorial, el New York Times exhortó a Washington a que cambiara de política y estableciera una relación más apaciguada con La Habana:

“Por primera vez en más de medio siglo, cambios en la opinión pública estadounidense y una serie de reformas en Cuba, han hecho que sea políticamente viable reanudar relaciones diplomáticas y acabar con un embargo insensato […]. Obama debe aprovechar la oportunidad para dar fin a una larga era de enemistad y ayudar a un pueblo que ha sufrido enormemente […]. El Gobierno [cubano] afirma que reanudaría con gusto las relaciones diplomáticas con Estados Unidos sin condiciones previas. Como primer paso, la Casa Blanca debe retirar a Cuba de la lista que mantiene el Departamento de Estado para penalizar países que respaldan grupos terroristas […]. Actualmente, el gobierno estadounidense reconoce que La Habana está jugando un papel constructivo en el proceso de paz de Colombia, sirviendo de anfitrión a los diálogos entre el Gobierno colombiano y líderes de la guerrilla. Las sanciones por parte de Estados Unidos a la isla comenzaron en 1961 con el objetivo de expulsar a Fidel Castro del poder. A través de los años, varios líderes estadounidenses han concluido que el embargo ha sido un fracaso […]. Según una reciente encuesta, el 52% de los estadounidenses de origen cubano en Miami piensan que se debe terminar el embargo. Una amplia mayoría quiere que los países vuelvan a tener relaciones diplomáticas, una posición que comparte el electorado estadounidense en general”. [6]

Incluso la Iglesia Católica cubana criticó la política de Estados Unidos durante la Conferencia de los Obispos Católicos de Cuba (COCC). “La población sufre el aislamiento del que es objeto Cuba por parte de los Estados Unidos porque esta política contribuye a acrecentar las dificultades de los más débiles”.[7]

Al persistir en la aplicación de una política obsoleta que se remonta a la Guerra Fría, que afecta a los sectores más frágiles de la sociedad cubana, Washington se encuentra aislado en la comunidad internacional, que no comprende el ensañamiento de mantener un estado de sitio ineficaz y contraproducente. Ahora, el único país de América que no tiene relaciones diplomáticas y comerciales normales con Cuba es Estados Unidos. A dos años del final de su segundo mandato, sería juicioso que Barack Obama prestara oído a esta exhortación unánime y aceptara el ramo de olivo que ofrece La Habana.

*Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de La Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula The Economic War Against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2013, con un prólogo de Wayne S. Smith y un prefacio de Paul Estrade.

Salim Lamrani

http://monthlyreview.org/press/books/pb3409/

Contacto: [email protected] ; [email protected]

Página Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel



[1] Le Monde, «Les pays des Caraïbes appellent à lever l’embargo ‘absurde’ contre Cuba», 8 de diciembre de 2014.

[2] Matthew Lee, «Hillary Clinton pidió fin de embargo a Cuba», The Associated Press, 6 de junio de 2014.

[3] Agence France Presse, «Charlie Crist critica el embargo y desea viajar a Cuba», 17 de mayo de 2014.

[4] RTL, «La Chambre de commerce américaine souhaite une nouvelle relation USA-Cuba», 30 de mayo de 2014; AFP, «La relation USA-Cuba doit changer maintenant, selon le président de la Chambre de commerce américaine», 30 de mayo de 2014.

[5] Cubainformación, «Thomas J. Donohue: ‘Cuba es un lugar maravilloso. La Cámara de Comercio de EEUU defiende la libertad de viajar a Cuba’», 30 de mayo de 2014. http://www.cubainformacion.tv/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=56740&Itemid=200700

(sitio consultado el 8 de diciembre de 2014)

[6] The New York Times, «Obama Should End the U.S. Embargo on Cuba», 11 de octubre de  2014.

[7] Nora Gámez Torres, «Iglesia Católica cubana critica política de EEUU hacia la isla», El Nuevo Herald, 9 de septiembre de 2014.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sought to reassure Wall Street Wednesday that the US central bank would not raise interest rates in the near term. Yellen’s press conference followed a two-day meeting of the Fed’s policy-making Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which took place against the backdrop of plunging oil prices, a collapse of the Russian ruble, and currency turmoil in many emerging economies.

“The committee considers it unlikely to begin the normalization process for at least the next couple of meetings,” Yellen said, indicating that the Fed is not likely to take any action on interest rates until late April at the earliest.

US stocks rose sharply on the news, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up by 288 points, or 1.69 percent, to 17,356. The US dollar rose by nearly 2 percent over the Japanese yen in the day’s trading.

The euphoric response on financial markets reflected the nervousness with which Wall Street is eyeing the global economy, as well as the immense dependence of the world financial system on a continuous flow of cheap money from the Federal Reserve and other central banks.

The FOMC policy statement was crafted to emphasize that the Fed had not, as feared in some financial circles, decided to speed up its plans to gradually increase interest rates due to improved job creation and employment figures. It maintained the key phrase “for a considerable time” in discussing plans to hold the benchmark federal funds rate to its current 0-0.25 percent target, and added the sentence, “The committee judges that it can be patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy.”

As she opened her press conference, Yellen sought to drive the point home, saying, “This new language does not represent a change in the policy intentions.”

Several reporters asked about the impact of recent turbulence on financial markets, including the collapse of the ruble, on the Fed’s deliberations. Yellen replied that she saw the “spillover” from the Russian crisis as “pretty small,” but added that the central bank would be “watching that closely.”

The Fed statement also noted that “inflation has continued to run below the Committee’s longer-run objective,” adding that the low inflation levels reflect “declines in energy prices.” Oil prices have fallen by more than 20 percent over the past month, adding to deflationary pressures throughout the world economy.

The US Labor Department said Wednesday morning that consumer prices posted their sharpest decline in six years. The Consumer Price Index fell by 0.3 percent in November, the largest decline since late 2008. Over the past 12 months, consumer prices have grown by only 1.3 percent, significantly lower than the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent.

The projections by individual members of the FOMC showed a slower pace of interest rate increases than previously indicated. The median projected federal funds rate was 1.125 percent in late 2015, down from 1.375 percent in the previous estimate in September.

Such a projection would imply four quarter-point rate increases next year, rather than the five that would have been indicated by September’s projections. FOMC members also lowered their interest rate projections for 2016 from 3 percent to 2.75 percent.

Committee members said they expected the economy to grow at a rate of 2.6 percent to 3.0 percent in 2015, unchanged from the previous projection. They also said they expected the unemployment rate to fall from the current rate of 5.8 percent to between 5.2 and 5.3 percent by the end of next year. They lowered their projections for inflation to between 1.0 and 1.6 percent.

There were three dissenting votes on the FOMC statement, an unusually large number. Richard Fisher of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and Charles Plosser of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said they thought the Federal Reserve should move more quickly to raise rates, while Narayana Kocherlakota of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis said the Fed should do more to combat falling prices.

The Federal Reserve has kept the Federal Funds Rate at near zero for over six years and expanded the size of its balance sheet by some $3.5 trillion through a series of asset purchases known as Quantitative Easing. As a result of these policies, the value of financial assets, monopolized by the wealthy, has more than doubled. But with millions of people still unemployed and millions more working part-time or having dropped out of the labor force, the real economy remains depressed.

The Polish government has denied for years the existence of a secret CIA prison on its territory between 2001 and 2003 in the face of previous revelations.

The publication of the US Senate report on CIA torture, however, has not only proven the existence of the “black site” but also the close collaboration between the Polish and American governments in barbaric and illegal practices.

American president Barack Obama called Polish president Ewa Kopacz the night before the report’s release “in order to forewarn the US ally of the publication,” according to Polish sources.

The following day, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Poland’s president between 1995 and 2005, gave a joint press conference in the country’s parliament, the Sejm, with Leszek Miller, prime minister between 2001 and 2004. For the first time, the two social democrats from the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) admitted that the CIA had operated a secret prison in Poland.

The approval of the clandestine facility, which reportedly operated between 2001 and 2003, was part of strengthening Poland’s ties to the US as part of the so-called war on terror, Kwaśniewski said. He claimed the government asked the US to treat prisoners in accordance with Polish law. A memorandum drafted for this purpose was “informally” recognised by the US representatives but not signed due to time, he claimed.

The former president said the cooperation with the US accelerated after September 2001 as Poland responded under NATO rules to an attack on a fellow member nation.

Although Kwaśniewski said he was opposed to it, he admitted to having known about the torture, essentially acknowledging his complicity in these crimes. “Interrogations were unfortunately normally carried out secretly and on the verge of legality. But the goal of all of this was not torture for torture’s sake, but to obtain information we otherwise would not have got.”

The millions of dollars Poland received from the CIA was all legal, Kwaśniewski claimed. This had been paid not for making the secret location available, he asserted, but other purposes. “The financing took place in accordance with the regulations of the Polish intelligence agencies, the Agencja Wywiadu and Agencja Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego,” he said, adding, “The parliamentary committee for the secret services was informed about the financing.”

Prior to the long-delayed release of the 500-page summary of the US Senate report, some of its contents were revealed in the media. In January, after the 6,700-page full report had been ready for some time, the Washington Post reported the existence of a CIA prison in Poland. It seems likely that information from the Senate report was passed to the newspaper.

The Post revealed that in December 2002, two Palestinian-born prisoners, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were taken to a villa functioning as a prison in the village of Stare Kiejkuty, a restricted military area, and tortured. This was followed in March 2003 by the Pakistani Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The CIA left Poland in September 2003, the paper wrote, because “it was feared that using an institution for too long could lead to its exposure.”

Since 2008, there have been repeated reports that Sheikh Mohammed was tortured in a Polish CIA prison. The reports were based on witness statements from intelligence agents and Sheikh Mohammed himself. In that year, the Polish state prosecutor began investigations into the government of Leszek Miller for suspected abuse of office. The investigations are still ongoing.

The Post detailed the methods used by the CIA torturers, including beatings, sleep deprivation and waterboarding or near-drowning. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and Nashiri subjected to a mock execution, the newspaper noted.

The torture chamber at Stare Kielkuty, which was given the code-name “Quartz,” was seen as “one of the most important black sites established by the CIA after September 11, 2001,” the Post wrote. The CIA spent $300,000 alone on surveillance cameras attached to the building.

The building was made available to the CIA by Polish intelligence—Agencja Wywiadu—which had previously used it. According to the Post, the agency received $15 million in cash in return, which was transferred through the US embassy in Warsaw.

The reference to the detainees’ names and further details in the Post article made it possible to immediately identify the CIA’s Polish institution. The site appears in the report as “detention site Blue” beginning on page 67 of the torture report. Between pages 73 and 75, tensions with “land X” are reported, a blacked-out reference to Poland, in connection “with the CIA prison facility and the bringing of new detainees.”

The report further states, “The political leadership (of Poland) gave their consent to host a CIA institution” (page 73), and “The agreement to create a CIA institution in Poland led to numerous sustained difficulties between Poland and the CIA.” Polish representatives “suggested a ‘memorandum of understanding’ that would confirm each of the roles and responsibilities between Poland and the CIA, which was ultimately not signed by the CIA” (page 74).

Polish officials first opposed the transfer of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed but subsequently acquiesced after “the US ambassador intervened with the leadership [redacted] on behalf of the CIA,” the report said. “One month later, the CIA made [redacted] million dollars available, after which the [redacted] leadership indicated that they were flexible on the issue of the number of CIA detainees” (page 74).

Finally, the report noted the “great disappointment” of Polish representatives with the CIA’s inability to keep secrets. The fact that then-US president George W. Bush made the programme public in September 2006 without any warning also caused irritation, according to the report. The CIA interpreted the events as “a serious setback in bilateral relations” (page 75).

Kwaśniewski thus merely acknowledged at the press conference what could no longer be denied. In July of this year, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ordered that the Polish state pay compensation to Abu Zubaydah of €100,000 and a similar sum to al-Nashiri, because both had “not [been] protected from torture and inhumane treatment.”

Despite the publicly available facts, Kwaśniewski defended the Polish-sponsored torture chambers, criticising only that it had been uncovered.

“We have been betrayed,” said Kwaśniewski, referring to the publication of the report, which could yet have legal consequences for him and other members of the government. “In the long term, the Americans will lose the ability to be an alliance partner, because every country will ask themselves how much trust they can be given?,” he continued.

Kwaśniewski justified his government’s violation of the Polish constitution and international law by suggesting that greater collaboration with the US was necessary because the NATO-Russia conflict over Ukraine was leading to a Russian aggression against Poland.

“We helped the Americans in the war on terror. That’s why we can expect that faced with the threatening of Poland, that our requests for missiles, soldiers and reconnaissance planes will not be opposed.” Poland could “demand meaningful support for its security at this extremely challenging time.”

Current president Ewa Kopacz of the neoliberal Citizens Platform (PO) expressed the same message, saying, “Regardless of what is in the report, it will not burden our relations with the US.”

Foreign Bankers Rape Ukraine

December 18th, 2014 by ​​​​F. William Engdahl

If it were not for the fact that the lives of some 45 million people are at stake, Ukrainian national politics could be laughed off as a very sick joke. Any pretenses that the October national elections would bring a semblance of genuine democracy of the sort thousands of ordinary Ukrainians demonstrated for on Maidan Square just one year ago vanished with the announcement by Victoria Nuland’s darling Prime Minister, “Yat” Yatsenyuk, of his new cabinet.

The US-picked Ukraine President, billionaire oligarch Petro Poroshenko called “snap” elections at the end of August for October 26. He did so to make sure genuine opposition to his regime of murderers, gangsters and in some cases outright Nazis would be able to push an unprepared genuine opposition out of the Verkhovna Rada or Parliament. Because the parliament had significant opposition parties to the US-engineered February 22 coup d’etat, they had blocked many key pieces of legislation that the Western vultures were demanding, from changing key land ownership laws to privatization of precious state assets. By law, the old parliament would have sat until its five year term ended in October, 2017. That was clearly too long for State Department neo-con Ukraine puppet-mistress Victoria Nuland and her backers in Washington.

Now, with a new parliament that is controlled by the Petro Poroshenko bloc as largest party and the boyish-looking former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is also new Prime Minister as head of the second largest party, the way was clear to get on with the rape of Ukraine. What shocked some is the blatant foreign takeover that followed, like a Wall Street vulture fund raid on a distressed debtor country of the Third World.

The ridiculous charade

Yatsenyuk, former finance minister in a previous criminal regime, and a suspected senior member of the US-intelligence-friendly “Church of Scientology,” has named three complete foreigners as cabinet ministers in key economic posts. And in an extraordinary act, the three have been made instant Ukrainian citizens by Poroshenko in a ridiculous ceremony. Ukraine is looking more and more like the US-occupied Philippines after the Spanish-American War of 1898 when General Arthur MacArthur, father of the mentally-dis-ordered Douglas, was Washington’s dictator on the spot.

The new Ukrainian Finance Minister, the one who will control the money and decides where it goes, is one Natalia A. Jaresko. She speaks fluent Ukrainian. Only problem—she is an American citizen, a US State Department veteran who is also a US investment banker. Now, the Ukrainian Constitution, prudently enough, stipulates that government ministers be Ukrainian. How then does our sweet Natalia come in?

The President of Ukraine, another Victoria Nuland favorite, the “Chocolate King” corrupt oligarch billionaire, Petro Poroshenko, made her a Ukrainian citizen in a bizarre ceremony the same day just hours before the parliament declared her Finance Minister.

In justifying his astonishing move, Poroshenko declared, “There are absolutely extraordinary challenges facing Ukraine…All this requires innovative solutions in the government…These decisions mean searching for candidates for the new government not only in Ukraine but also abroad.”

Forget your earlier silly schoolbook notions about how a democracy and a nation function. This is the age of no nation state, of private capital taking over the world for sake of profit. Looting über alles is the motto. The nation of Ukraine is being put on the auction bloc to be privatized anyway, so it makes sense that the auctioneers at the US State Department head-hunt the ones to do the inside job of preparing that auction wherever they find the willing executioners. And because what the privatizers have planned, it is easier to believe a non-Ukrainian would let the country be raped easier than a native Ukrainian, even corrupt natives.

In her acceptance speech Jaresko declared, “The new team aims to change the country, to improve its transparency and to eliminate corruption. The members of the team are ready to deal with the challenges Ukraine faces today. This is a government of professionals and technocrats, and we intend to work. I’ve been living in Ukraine for 22 years and until this day I was the head of a large company that controlled three investment funds.,” she told Ukrainian television news service TSN.

What Jaresko did not say was that she had been sent to Ukraine 22 years before as a member of the US State Department.

Jaresko’s qualifications for the job fit the requirements of a vulture fund rapist banker. She was founder and CEO of Horizon Capital Associates, LLC. Her Horizon Capital is “a private equity and venture capital firm specializing in early stage, buyouts, growth capital, and expansion opportunities. It prefers to invest in financial services, fast moving consumer goods, retail, and industrial goods sectors. It typically invests in mid-cap companies based in Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova,” according to Business Week. They were founded in 1995 and have offices in Kiev. Jaresko is also at the same time CEO of a private equity fund WNISEF.

WNISEF or Western NIS Enterprise Fund is a $150 million private equity fund, active in Ukraine and Moldova investing in small and medium-sized companies. Since its inception, “WNISEF has invested approximately $168 million in 118 companies in the region in a range of industries with a concentration on fast moving consumer goods, construction materials, packaging, retail, and financial services. WNISEF is managed by Horizon Capital Associates, LLC. WNISEF was established by the US Congress and funded by the US government via US Agency for International Development (USAID).”

Before she founded Horizon and WNISEF, the Harvard-trained Jaresko worked for the US State Department in the IMF-steered looting of the country that began just after the US-inspired collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. From 1992-1995 she was Chief of the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Kiev. When US-backed Viktor Yushchenko was installed via Washington’s “Orange Revolution” as President in 2004, Jaresko served on his Foreign Investors Advisory Council.

US State Department deputy spokeswoman, former CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf has already denied Washington had any hand in her appointment.  Of course she would never lie.

Another foreign banker as Economy Minister

Apparently not satisfied that only one investment banker as Finance Minister would suffice, Nuland’s Washington friends have installed Aivaras Abromavicius, a Lithuanian investment banker, to be Economy Minister. According to the official US Government propaganda site, Radio Free Europe—the old CIA Cold War propaganda news service still exists, with its old name as kind of a sick joke—Abromavicius, born in Vilnius, Lithuania, has worked in Kyiv since 2008 as partner and fund manager at the East Capital asset management group. East Capital reportedly has invested almost $100 million in 2012 in Ukrainian projects. It would be interesting to know whose money. Abromavicius describes himself as a Ukrainian patriot (sic!), and has pledged “radical measures.”

East Capital is a Sweden-based “frontier markets” fund active in 25 emerging market countries. The founder of Abromavicius’ East Capital is Peter Elam Håkansson according to their website. Before that Håkansson held leading positions with the Swedish Wallenberg family’s Enskilda Securities.

And a Georgian Health Minister

Rounding out the bizarre new Cabinet of Yatsenyuk is Alexander Kvitashvili, a Georgian. Kvitashvili was health minister in Georgia between 2008 and 2010, under then-President Mikheil Saakashvili, like Yushchenko, another US-installed corrupt puppet President from the US-financed Rose Revolution of 2003. Kvitashvili studied and worked in the United States before becoming Georgia’s health minister.

According to Radio Free Europe, “Yatsenyuk has tasked Kvitashvili with introducing sweeping reforms to tackle rampant corruption among health authorities.” However, the designated corruption-fighter has one handicap: he does not speak the Ukrainian language. That doesn’t matter apparently, as he has stated that he has a “deep respect for Ukraine and its people.”  More than that, a corruption-fighting health minister in Ukraine these days apparently doesn’t need.

Rape of an entire country, just as rape of a small child, is murder. It is a form of murder of the soul and ultimately of the child. Forty five million Ukrainians do not deserve such treatment any more than an innocent four-year-old child does.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

US Court Ruled You Can Be “Too Smart” to Be a Cop

December 18th, 2014 by Melissa Melton

Can a person actually be “too smart” to be a cop in America?

federal court’s decision back in 2000 suggests that, yes, you actually can be.

Robert Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, scored a 33 on an intelligence test he took as part of the application process to become a police officer in the town of New London, Connecticut. The score meant Jordan had an IQ of 125.

The average score for police officers was a 21-22, or an IQ of 104. New London would only interview candidates who scored between 20 and 27.

Jordan sued the city alleging discrimination, but the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld that it wasn’t discrimination. “Why?” you might ask. Because New London Police Department applied the same standard to everyone who applied to be a cop there.

And the theory behind it?

“Those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training,” ABC News reported back then. While at least acknowledging the basic fact that such a policy might be “unwise,” the court deemed it had a “rational basis” because it was put in place to lower cop turnover.

The police department went on to continue automatically disqualifying anyone whose IQ was “too high.” Jordan went on to become a prison guard instead.

And there you have it.

Considering all the police brutality and officer-involved shootings in the news these days, here’s a rhetorical question for you: how well does this hiring practice bode for cops actually being able to follow the Constitution or use proper discretion while “protecting and serving” America?

Does this snapshot from the past at least partially help explain how we got to where we are as a nation today — a total police state? Wow, and the Pentagon has been giving these guys tanksstraight off the battlefields in the Middle East to drive down American streets, too.

Recent public opinion polls, just by the way, show trust in police is pretty abysmal; 65% feel that our police departments do a poor job of holding officers accountable for misconduct.

Well America’s local law enforcement agencies — of which there are 18,000-plus, more than any other country in the world — aren’t exactly encouraging geniuses to apply to be officers here; in fact, geniuses don’t stand a chance even if they wanted to (which, I guess if they are geniuses, they probably don’t).

Melissa Melton is a writer, researcher, and analyst for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared, and a co-creator of Truthstream Media with Aaron Dykes, a site that offers teleprompter-free, unscripted analysis of The Matrix we find ourselves living in. Melissa also co-founded Nutritional Anarchy with Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper, a site focused on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Wake the flock up!

Thaw in US-Cuba Relations?

December 18th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

On December 17, the Havana Times headlined “Obama Announces New US Approach on Cuba,” saying:

“In a surprise announcement today US President Obama has taken sweeping steps to re-launch US relations with Cuba.”

“Talks between Washington and Havana have actually been going on secretly in Canada for a year and a half with mediation assistance from Pope Francis.”

More on this below.

On December 17, Obama said in part:

“Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.”

“In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.”

“Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.”

“…I’ve instructed Secretary Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to reestablish diplomatic relations that have been severed since January of 1961.”

“Going forward, the United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba.”

“…I’ve instructed Secretary Kerry to review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. This review will be guided by the facts and the law.”

“Terrorism has changed in the last several decades. At a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction.”

“…(W)e we are taking steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba.”

“…I’m under no illusion about the continued barriers to freedom that remain for ordinary Cubans.”

“(G)iven Cuba’s history, I expect it will continue to pursue foreign policies that will at times be sharply at odds with American interests.”

Why Cuba? Why now? Why not earlier? What will change? What won’t? James Petras saying Washington “is totally alone in its boycott of Cuba.”

Why when it uses sanctions as a key weapon of choice. Against independent states. Targeted for regime change. Wanting pro-US vassal regimes replacing them.

Why when US/Venezuelan relations remain hostile? When Congress just passed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014.

Unanimously. By voice vote in both houses. Obama signing it into law. Imposing sanctions on targeted Venezuelan officials.

Irresponsibly. Hypocritically. The world’s leading human rights abuser targeting one of its staunchest defenders.

Why when Cold War 2.0 rages against Russia? More virulently than ever. Congress authorized more sanctions. US-instigated oil wars batter its economy and currency.

Hot war remains possible. Unthinkable between the world’s two most formidable nuclear powers.

Why when US/Iranian relations remain frosty? Punishing sanctions remain in place.

Tehran’s peaceful nuclear program a pretext for Washington’s real aim. Regime change. Ousting its independent government. Installing a pro-Western stooge one.

Why when Obama’s Asia/Pacific pivot targets China? Wanting it marginalized. Weakened. Isolated. Contained. Controlled. Eliminating one of America’s two main rivals.

Why when Obama’s war on Syria shows no signs of ending? Or Iraq war 3.0. Or global US interventions. Covert mischief.

Making the world safe for monied interests. Maintaining Washington’s permanent war policy. On humanity. At home and abroad.

With America increasingly militarized. Governed under a police state apparatus.

Federal, state and local authorities committing virtually every imaginable civil and human rights abuse. Unaccountably.

Why when US policy more than ever threatens world peace? Humanity’s survival. When advancing its imperium matters most. No matter the consequences.

Obama’s new Cuba policy comes after over half a century of blockade and isolation. Extreme hostility. Hundreds of failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Biowarfare. Including dengue fever. Killing hundreds. Sickening thousands.

Contaminating crops and livestock. Terror-bombing hotels. Industrial facilities. Various other sabotage. Sinking fishing boats. Blowing up Cubana Flight 465. Killing 78 people on board.

US military doctrine embraces anything goes. Including “massive casualty producing events.” Mindless of innocent civilian deaths and injuries.

State terrorism is official US policy. Cuba a prime target for decades. Since Eisenhower authorized CIA efforts to oust Castro. The failed April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion followed.

So did support for anti-Castro terrorist groups. Ongoing for decades. Including Alpha 66. Omega 7. Brothers to the Rescue. The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF). Openly admitting acts of murder. Intentions to keep killing.

CANF headed by fascist extremist Jorge Mas Canosa. Until his 1997 death. Embraced by various US presidents at the White House.

Historian Jorge Dominguez reviewed thousands of declassified anti-Castro documents. Involving US-sponsored terrorism. Showing no concern whatever for human life or welfare. According to Dominguez:

“Only once (in all documents he reviewed) did a US official raise something that resembled a faint moral objection to US-government sponsored terrorism.”

In his book titled “Voices from the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba,” Keith Bolender said:

“American aggression ran from the embargo, propaganda, isolation, and the Bay of Pigs military invasion.”

“As the rhetoric increased, terrorist acts were formulated and carried out…American officials estimated millions would be spent to develop internal security systems, and State Department officials expected the Cuban government to increase internal surveillance in an attempt to prevent further acts of terrorism.”

“These systems, which restricted civil rights, became easy targets for critics.”

Obama’s Wednesday announcement followed 18 months of secret negotiations. Exploratory talks. Beginning in June 2013.

Brokered by Canadian and Vatican officials. In Ottawa. Toronto. Vatican City.

Pope Francis the first Latin American pontiff. Raising possible Cuban rapprochement. In March last year. When Obama visited the Vatican.

Followed by sending Obama and Castro letters. Urging an end to decades of hostile relations.

John Kerry engaged his Cuban counterpart. Foreign Secretary Bruno Rodriguez. Focusing on Alan Gross’ release.

A USAID subcontractor operative. Acting against Cuban independence and territorial integrity. Convicted of activities involving spying. Destabilization. Subversion.

At the time, Cuban Parliamentary President said, Gross “violated Cuban laws and national sovereignty and has committed crimes which in the United States can carry heavy sentences.”

In June 2013, Obama’s deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes, and Latin American advisor. Ricardo Zuniga, initiated the first of nine meetings.

With their Cuban counterparts. In Canada. Culminating with a 45-minute Obama/Raul Castro conversation.

The first presidential dialogue between both countries since 1959. Embargo following in 1961.

On Wednesday, Gross was released. Along with three remaining Cuban Five prisoners.

Unjustly convicted of Espionage. Conspiracy to commit murder. Acting as foreign government agents.

In October 2011, Rene Gonzalez was released. Following 13 years in prison. Fernando Gonzales released in February 2014.

Gerardo Hernandez. Antonio Guerrero. Ramon Labanino now freed. All five regarded as Cuban national heroes.

In America monitoring Miami-based, US funded, anti-Castro right-wing terrorist groups. Helping to prevent future attacks.

Convicted in kangaroo court proceedings. At least 14 journalists covertly got US funding to vilify them.

In August 2005, a three-judge Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned their convictions.

Ordered a new trial. To no avail. In October 2005, the entire court halted the ruling.

Ordered an en banc (full court) hearing. In August 2006, overturning the 2005 decision (10 – 2). Affirming the district court ruling.

In December 2007, UK attorney Steve Cottingham called the Cuban Five’s trial “profoundly flawed.”

“(T)heir (prison) conditions…inhumane…” Calling them “fall guys in an attempt to cover up the US’s support for illegal activity to overthrow the (legitimate) government of the Republic of Cuba.”

A Miami trial venue assured conviction. Defense lawyers knew fair proceedings were impossible. Guilt by accusation followed.

On December 17, the UK-based Cuba Solidarity Campaign headlined “Volvieron (returned)!

CSC director Rob Miller calling the release of the three remaining Cuban Five members “the right thing to do.”

“It is truly wonderful news for the Five, their families, all those who have campaigned to see this day and above all for the Cuban people,” he said.

“We now hope that this will see the end of 50 years of the failed policy of aggression and blockade and the beginning of a new era of friendly relations between two countries and two peoples.”

On Wednesday, Obama promised “a new chapter” in US/Cuban relations. Reestablishing diplomatic ties. Severed since January 1961.

A promised review of Cuba’s designation as “a State Sponsor of Terrorism.” Guided by “facts and the law.”

Obama’s rhetoric remained hostile. Lying about “continued barriers to freedom that remain for ordinary Cubans.”

Expecting continued Havana policies at times “sharply at odds with American interests.”

Measures Obama announced include eventually easing travel and trade restrictions. Making it easier for Cubans to receive remittances from America.

Confirming Obama’s participation in the April 2015 Summit of the Americas. Cuba invited for the first time. Since meetings began in 1994.

Last June, Bolivia and Ecuador threatened to boycott the summit if Cuba wasn’t invited. Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman called his participation “difficult” without Cuba.

Brazil. Chile. Paraguay. Mexico. Uruguay called for Cuba’s involvement. It remains to see how so-called new US/Cuban relations unfold.

Decades-old blockade conditions aren’t lifted. Repressive Helms-Burton legislation remains in place. Passed in March 1996.

Hardening embargo conditions. It takes a giant leap of faith to expect Congress to lift them any time soon. Especially with Republicans in charge. Obama a lame duck.

Presidential aspirant Jeb Bush calling his shift a “dramatic overreach” of executive authority. Saying his action “rewards those dictators.”

Cuban President Raul Castro spoke on national television. Simultaneously with Obama’s announcement.

Saying “(w)e have been able to make headway in the solution of some topics of mutual interest for both nations.”

“President Obama’s decision deserves the respect and acknowledgment of our people. This in no way means that the heart of the matter has been resolved.”

“The economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes enormous human and economic damages to our country, must cease.”

“(T)he progress made in our exchanges proves that it is possible to find solutions to many problems.”

Largely rhetorical ones so far. Ending over half a century of US hostility won’t come easily or quickly.

Not as long as Washington’s criminal class remains bipartisan. Targeting all independent states for regime change. Longstanding policy not about to change.

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

The President’s news conference was broadcast live by Channel One, Rossiya-1 and Rossiya-24 TV channels, and by the Radio Rossii, Mayak and Vesti FM radio stations. 1259 Russian and foreign journalists have been accredited to cover the news conference.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues.

I am very happy to see you in high spirits. As we did last time, I will begin by briefing you on the work done during the year and then I will try to answer your questions.

First the most important thing: the economic performance. In the first 10 months of this year, the gross domestic product grew by 0.7 percent, and the final figure may be around 0.6 percent. My colleagues and I met yesterday to finalise the figures. The trade surplus grew by $13.3 billion to reach $148.4 billion.

Industrial production picked up some speed after last year’s lull. In the first 10 months of the year, it went up by 1.7 percent. Unemployment is also low: at times, it dropped to below 5 percent, and now it is around 5 percent, possibly 5.1 percent.

News conference of Vladimir Putin.

The agroindustrial complex is developing. I believe that by the end of the year growth there will amount to 3.3 percent. As you may know, this year we had a record crop of 104 million tonnes.

Despite the turbulent situation on the financial market, the federal budget this year will show a surplus. In other words, revenue will exceed expenses by 1.2 trillion rubles [over $20 billion], which is about 1.9 percent of the GDP. The Finance Ministry is still working on the final calculations, but the surplus is definite.

The main achievement of the year in the social sphere is of course the positive demographics.

Natural population growth in the first 10 months of the year was 37,100 people. The death rate is going down in this country, while the birth rate is increasing. This is a very good trend and we must make every effort to maintain it. As promised, we continued adjusting the maternity capital. In 2014 it amounted to 429,408.5 rubles.

We have met and exceeded the targets set for this year for salary rates for ten workforce categories. I am sure you know what I am talking about. First of all, these are teachers at schools and institutions providing supplementary education, counsellors, university faculty members, medical doctors, paramedics and nurses, and employees of cultural institutions. In 2014, we adjusted pensions to inflation twice: by 6.5 percent on February 1 and by an additional 1.7 percent on April 1.

We gave significant attention this year to enhancing the combat capability and efficiency of the Armed Forces. I will not go into detail here. I would only like to mention the social sphere. In 2014, 11,700 Defence Ministry servicemen received permanent housing and 15,300 received service housing. This is 100 percent of the year’s target figures.

These are the numbers I wanted to begin with. Now a few words regarding the current situation. I believe we all know that the main issue of concern to this country’s citizens is the state of the economy, the national currency and how all this could influence developments in the social sphere. I will try to briefly describe this situation and say how I expect it to develop. Basically, that is where we could end this news conference. (Laughter) However, if you have any further questions I will try to answer them.

The current situation was obviously provoked primarily by external factors. However, we proceed from the view that we have failed to achieve many of the things that were planned and that needed to be done to diversify the economy over the past 20 years. This was not easy, if at all possible, given the foreign economic situation, which was favourable in the sense that businesses were investing into areas that guaranteed maximum and fast profits. This mechanism is not easy to change.

Now, as you may know, the situation has changed under the influence of certain foreign economic factors, primarily the price of energy resources, of oil and consequently of gas as well. I believe the Government and the Central Bank are taking appropriate measures in this situation. We could question the timeliness or the quality of the measures taken by the Government and the Central Bank, but generally, they are acting adequately and moving in the right direction.

I [think] that yesterday’s and today’s drop in the foreign currency exchange rate and growth of our national currency, the ruble, will continue. Is this possible? It is. Could oil prices continue falling and would this influence our national currency and consequently all the other economic indexes, including inflation? Yes, this is possible.

What do we intend to do about this? We intend to use the measures we applied, and rather successfully, back in 2008. In this case, we will need to focus on assistance to those people who really need it and on retaining – this is something I would like to highlight – retaining all our social targets and plans. This primarily concerns pensions and public sector salaries, and so forth.

Clearly, we would have to adjust our plans in case of any unfavourable developments. We would certainly be forced to make some cuts. However, it is equally certain – and I would like to stress this – that there will be what experts call a positive rebound. Further growth and a resolution of this situation are inevitable for at least two reasons. One is that the global economy will continue to grow, the rates may be lower, but the positive trend is sure to continue. The economy will grow, and our economy will come out of this situation.

How long will this take? In a worst-case scenario, I believe it would take a couple of years. I repeat: after that, growth is inevitable, due to a changing foreign economic situation among other things. A growing world economy will require additional energy resources. However, by that time I have no doubt that we will be able to do a great deal to diversify our economy, because life itself will force us to do it. There is no other way we could function.

Therefore, overall, I repeat, we will undoubtedly comply with all our social commitments using the existing reserves. Fortunately, this year they have even grown.

I would like to remind you that Central Bank reserves amount to $419 billion. The Central Bank does not intend to ‘burn’ them all senselessly, which is right. The Government reserve, the National Wealth Fund, the Reserve Fund have grown this year by about 2.4-2.5 trillion rubles to a total 8.4 trillion rubles. With these reserves I am certain we can work calmly to resolve our main social issues and to diversify the economy; and I will repeat that inevitably the situation will return to normal.

I would like to end my introductory remarks here. As I have said, we could end the whole news conference here, but if you do have any questions, I am ready to answer them.

PRESIDENTIAL PRESS-SECRETARY DMITRY PESKOV: This year I would like to begin with those who have been working with the President throughout the year – the Kremlin press pool. First I would like to give the floor to the dean of the Kremlin press pool Vyacheslav Terekhov, who has been working with Mr Putin for many years and who travels to all the remote parts of the world and all the cities and towns of this country. Mr Terekhov, please.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: This is what they call nepotism.

VYACHESLAV TEREKHOV, INTERFAX: But I’ve got an interesting job.

There is something I would like to clarify, Mr President. Judging by the situation in the country, we are in the midst of a deep currency crisis, one that even Central Bank employees say they could not have foreseen in their worst nightmares.

Do you believe that things will get better in two years, as you mentioned, and we will recover from this financial and economic crisis? Criticism was piled on the Government and the Central Bank for the ruble’s Black Monday and Tuesday. Do you agree with this criticism?

Thank you.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I said that given the most unfavourable foreign economic situation this could last (approximately, because no one can say for certain) for about two years. However, it may not last that long and the situation could take a turn for the better sooner. It could improve in the first or second quarter of next year, by the middle of next year, or by its end.

Nobody can tell. There are many uncertain factors. Therefore, you could call it a crisis or something else, you can decide which word to use. However, I believe I made it quite clear that the Central Bank and the Government are generally taking appropriate measures in this situation. I believe some things could have been done sooner, and this is actually what the expert community are criticising them for.

What does the job involve, in my view? And what are the Central Bank and the Government actually doing? First, as you may know, they raised the key interest rate. I hope the rate will remain for the duration of these complicated developments connected with the foreign economic situation, and the economy will adjust one way or another.

What is the basis for my optimism? The idea that the economy is bound to adjust to life and work in conditions of low prices on energy resources. This will become a fact of life.

How soon will the economy adapt if the prices remain at the current level or even go below 60 [USD/barrel], 40, or whatever? For us it could be any figure, the economy would simply have to get structured. How fast will this happen? This is hard to say. But it is inevitable. I would like to highlight this. This will be a fact of life.

What is the Central Bank doing? They have raised the key interest rate. What else do they need to do? And what are they already doing? To stabilise the national currency they need to somewhat limit ruble liquidity and give economic entities access to foreign currency liquidity. This is exactly what the Bank is doing. Their foreign currency interest rate is quite low – 0.5.

Overall, I think it is up to the Central Bank to decide whether to reduce the interest rate or not, they should see and react accordingly. They should not hand out our gold and foreign currency reserves or burn them on the market, but provide lending resources. And they are doing this as well.

The so-called repo is a well-known instrument here. They can be offered for a day, a week, 28 days, almost a month, or for a year. This is money that is returned, but it gives economic entities the opportunity to make use of the foreign currency. Everything is being done right.

They should probably move at least half a pace faster. Of course, I see the criticism levelled at the Central Bank and its Governor. Some of it is justified, some is not. The Government should also bear responsibility. They should work with exporters who have sufficiently high foreign currency revenues.

The Prime Minister met with heads of our major companies and we can see some results. Many of them have to return their loans and think of the condition their companies are in.

Every company, just like every individual, tries to save ‘for a rainy day’. Is such behaviour economically justified? In terms of economic logic, it is not. Nevertheless, companies do it, and we now see a certain result, the ‘rebound’ is happening.

The Government should be taking other measures as well. What do I mean? For instance, combatting inflation is of course the Central Bank’s job. However, there are things that we have mentioned already, things I spoke of in public during our meetings with the Government.

For instance, the prices of petrol and food are something they should work on. Moreover, the current situation, whatever anyone says, requires a ‘hands on’ approach. They have to meet with producers, those who are on the market, with retailers and with the oil companies that have significantly monopolised the market. The Federal Antimonopoly Service should function properly.

These actions have to be joint and reasonable, though without any violation of the individual competence of, say, the Central Bank or the Government. Nevertheless, they should coordinate their actions, and do so in a timely fashion.

Therefore, they can criticise Nabiullina [Central Bank Governor] all they like, but one should bear in mind that overall their policy is right. The Central Bank is not the only one responsible for the economic situation in the country.

DMITRY PESKOV: Another presidential press pool old-timer, Alexander Gamov of the Komsomolskaya Pravda. Is there anything you would like to ask?

ALEXANDER GAMOV, KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA NEWSPAPER: First, I have something to say. Mr President, I believe many people were looking forward to seeing you here at this news conference. Many were trying to predict your mood, because this would largely set the mood for the entire country. You are here, and you already smiled several times, so thank you for your optimism. We hope everything will happen just the way you said it would.

Over to my questions. Since 2008, we have been talking about the need to get rid of our oil addiction and restructure our economy to make it more efficient. However, the developments of the past few days have shown that we did not manage to achieve this.

We are still addicted, and nobody knows how long this will last. Could you say openly what you personally think: will we be able to use this crisis for to our advantage, lose our addiction and rebuild the economy? I realise that this would take time.

And my second point. In your Address to the Federal Assembly, you named, to the welcoming applause of the country and the business community, a whole list of concessions that have long been suggesting themselves. However, there is the danger in Russia, as you well know, that all important and useful resolutions, including presidential ones, get lost in the excessive red tape and general slack.

Are you confident that this time you statements, your resolutions will be implemented and your optimism will be supported with real action?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: As we all know, only an insurance policy can give you confidence. The main insurance for us here is the right macroeconomic policy and reserve funds for resolving social issues. This is the kind of insurance policy that would give us confidence.

As for excessive red tape, I can say this: there must be some people from the European Union here. If you ask them about red tape in Brussels, they will tell you all about it. Our bureaucracy is child’s play compared to theirs.

The problem does exist, however, and it is not about red tape. Do you know what it is? I said at the very start that I would say a few things and we might as well end the news conference. It looks like that was no joke.

This is not about decisions getting bogged down in red tape. It is about the foreign economic situation forcing economic entities to invest, say, in energy resources, the chemical industry or metals. So regardless of all the Government’s attempts to fine-tune the instruments of taxation and benefits for businesses that are not involved with raw materials, this is a very complicated process, because the budget does not usually have the required funds.

We have been using all these instruments for several years already. We are trying to create more favourable conditions for the development of production, but it is moving forward with difficulty. Especially when one can make large profits by investing in energy resources. As you may know, at least 80 percent of all applications to the Government (believe me, this is true) have to do with getting access to some field rather than investing in some high technology area. Why is this? Because the returns there are fast and big.

I am coming to your question. If the situation changes, then life itself will force us to invest in other industries. And this gives me optimism, strange as it might seem. True, in some ways it would be more difficult. True, we would have to resolve social issues at any cost and meet the targets set in the social section of the 2012 Presidential Executive Orders.

Can we do it? Yes, we can. However, at the same time we need to make use of the current situation to create additional conditions for developing production and economic diversification. I hope that the current state of affairs will make this possible.

ANDREI KOLESNIKOV, KOMMERSANT NEWSPAPER: Mr President, in early 2012 in one of your pre-election articles that were later documented as Executive Orders of May 2012, as we all know, while describing the situation at the time you quoted Alexander Gorchakov [19th century Russian diplomat]. You said, “Russia is concentrating.”

Can you say what is happening to the country now? What is it doing? Is it still concentrating, or maybe the time has come to de-concentrate, to finally relax?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We must work. Little has changed in this sense. Moreover, the current conditions are pushing us to move forward. I keep tackling it from different perspectives, and I see you and your colleagues keep raising the same issue. We must work, and the external conditions are forcing us to become more efficient and to shift to innovative development.

What does the future of our economy require? We have to create favourable conditions for business, to ensure freedom of entrepreneurship, we need to guarantee ownership rights, to stop using law enforcement agencies to chase those we do not like and use those instruments for competition. We need more benefits for production facilities; we need to develop those regions of the Russian Federation that require special attention, like the Far East.

Are we doing this? We are. However, in my Address I spoke of an entire programme of action. I am referring here to 4-year tax holidays, to 3-year inspection holidays for those companies that have no record of any serious violations, to benefits for small businesses. We must carry on with the concentration and support it with real efforts.

VLADIMIR KONDRATYEV, NTV TELEVISION COMPANY: Mr President, we recently marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. You witnessed the event when you were still working in the German Democratic Republic. A lot has been achieved, perhaps not exactly what we hoped for, and we had great hopes, but there have been certain achievements. It was thanks to your persistence that Russia was once close to a visa-free travel agreement with Europe.

In this anniversary year, a new wall appeared within a matter of weeks. It is not made of concrete, but it is no less obvious, a wall of alienation, suspicion, mutual mistrust and mutual reproaches. Where can this cooling lead us? Some go as far as speaking of the beginning of a new Cold War. Will we be living in a divided world or is there any possibility to resume dialogue and cooperation?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You just said the Berlin Wall fell, but some new walls are being put up now. I will respond, and I hope you will agree with me.

It is not now that this happened. You are an expert on Germany and on Europe. Didn’t they tell us after the fall of the Berlin Wall that NATO would not expand eastwards? However, the expansion started immediately. There were two waves of expansion. Is that not a wall? True, it is a virtual wall, but it was coming up. What about the anti-missile defence system next to our borders? Is that not a wall?

You see, nobody has ever stopped. This is the main issue of current international relations. Our partners never stopped. They decided they were the winners, they were an empire, while all the others were their vassals, and they needed to put the squeeze on them. I said the same in my Address [to the Federal Assembly]. This is the problem. They never stopped building walls, despite all our attempts at working together without any dividing lines in Europe and the world at large.

I believe that our tough stand on certain critical situations, including that in the Ukraine, should send a message to our partners that the best thing to do is to stop building walls and to start building a common humanitarian space of security and economic freedom.

Since I have mentioned Ukraine, I have to give the floor to our colleagues from Ukraine. Go ahead, please.

ROMAN TSYMBALYUK, UKRAINIAN NEWS AGENCY UNIAN: I have two short questions, if I may.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Go ahead, please.

ROMAN TSYMBALYUK: My first question concerns the punitive operation you have launched in eastern Ukraine, which is mostly spearheaded against Russian speakers. It’s an open secret that it is Russian servicemen and Russian militants who are fighting there. Question: How many Russian servicemen and units of equipment have you sent there, and how many of them have been killed in Ukraine? What would you as the Commander-in-Chief say to the families of the Russian servicemen and officers killed there?

And my second short question, if I may. We had a president called Viktor, who is now hiding in Russia. He had imprisoned the number one on the Batkivshchyna list, Yulia Tymoshenko. She has been released, but now the current number one on the party list is in prison, this time in Russia…

VLADIMIR PUTIN: What? Say it again please?

ROMAN TSYMBALYUK: The number one on the list of Yulia Tymoshenko’s party, Batkivshchyna, is currently in a Russian prison. I have a question: On what conditions will you release Ukrainian pilot Savchenko, Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and at least 30 Ukrainian prisoners of war whom you are keeping in various prisons in Russia? Thank you.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let’s begin with the second question, and then I will certainly answer your first question.

The question about Ukrainian citizen Savchenko and the conditions for her release. I have an open and, as far as I can see, a clear position on this issue. You can see in this audience the colleagues of our journalists – they are also your colleagues – who have died in the line of duty in southeast Ukraine. I want to stress that they did not take part in fighting for any of the sides, and they were unarmed. It is the duty of all state agencies, including the military ones, to protect their lives and health and to give them an opportunity to do their professional duty which is to provide objective and full information, at least as they see it. It is a fact that has been recognised in the civilised world. They have been killed. According to our law enforcement agencies, Ms Savchenko called in artillery fire via radio. If it is reliably established during the pretrial investigation and the subsequent trial that she was not involved and is not guilty, she will be released immediately. But if they prove that she was indeed involved in the journalists’ murder, a Russian court will issue a proper ruling, as I see it, and she will serve her sentence in accordance with the verdict. However, no one has the right to hold anyone guilty of a crime on account. I mean that Russian legislation includes the presumption of innocence. So we’ll see how the pretrial investigation proceeds, and what conclusions the Russian court will make.

As for the other servicemen you have mentioned, we don’t consider them prisoners of war. They are in detainment in Russia, and they are being investigated on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity. This is all I can say on your second question.

Now to the first question, about responsibility. In Russia, like in any other presidential republic, it is the president who is responsible for everything. And responsibility for military personnel rests with the Commander-in-Chief. Let me remind you that in Russia this is one and the same person.

All those who are following their heart and are fulfilling their duty by voluntarily taking part in hostilities, including in southeast Ukraine, are not mercenaries, since they are not paid for what they do.

Russian public opinion holds that what is now happening in southeast Ukraine is actually a punitive operation, but it is conducted by the Kiev authorities and not the other way around. The self-defence fighters of the southeast were not the ones who sent troops to Kiev. On the contrary, the Kiev authorities amassed their military forces in the southeast of Ukraine, and are using multiple rocket launchers, artillery and fighter jets.

What is the problem here and how it can be solved? I’ll try to answer this question as well. The problem is that after the government coup (and no matter how others call it and what is being said in this respect, a government coup was carried out in Kiev by military means) part of the country did not agree with these developments.

Instead of at least trying to engage in dialogue with them, Kiev started by sending law enforcers, the police force, but when that didn’t work out, they sent in the army, and since that didn’t work out either, they are now trying to settle the issue by using other forceful methods, the economic blockade.

I believe that this path has absolutely no future whatsoever and is detrimental to Ukraine’s statehood and its people. I hope that by engaging in dialogue – and we are ready to assume the role of intermediaries in this respect – we will succeed in establishing a direct, political dialogue, and by employing such methods and political instruments we will reach a settlement and restore a single political space.

ANTON VERNITSKY, CHANNEL ONE RUSSIA: Mr President, are the current economic developments the price we have to pay for Crimea? Maybe the time has come to acknowledge it?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. This is not the price we have to pay for Crimea… This is actually the price we have to pay for our natural aspiration to preserve ourselves as a nation, as a civilisation, as a state. And here is why.

As I’ve already mentioned when answering a question from your NTV colleague, and as I’ve said during my Address to the Federal Assembly, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia opened itself to our partners. What did we see? A direct and fully-fledges support of terrorism in North Caucasus. They directly supported terrorism, you understand? Is that what partners usually do? I won’t go into details on that, but this is an established fact. And everyone knows it.

On any issue, no matter what we do, we always run into challenges, objections and opposition. Let me remind you about the preparations for the 2014 Olympics, our inspiration and enthusiasm to organise a festive event not only for Russian sports fans, but for sports fans all over the world. However, and this is an evident truth, unprecedented and clearly orchestrated attempts were made to discredit our efforts to organise and host the Olympics. This is an undeniable fact! Who needs to do so and for what reason? And so on and so forth.

You know, at the Valdai [International Discussion] Club I gave an example of our most recognisable symbol. It is a bear protecting his taiga. You see, if we continue the analogy, sometimes I think that maybe it would be best if our bear just sat still. Maybe he should stop chasing pigs and boars around the taiga but start picking berries and eating honey. Maybe then he will be left alone. But no, he won’t be! Because someone will always try to chain him up. As soon as he’s chained they will tear out his teeth and claws. In this analogy, I am referring to the power of nuclear deterrence. As soon as – God forbid – it happens and they no longer need the bear, the taiga will be taken over.

We have heard it even from high-level officials that it is unfair that the whole of Siberia with its immense resources belongs to Russia in its entirety. Why exactly is it unfair? So it is fair to snatch Texas from Mexico but it is unfair that we are working on our own land – no, we have to share.

And then, when all the teeth and claws are torn out, the bear will be of no use at all. Perhaps they’ll stuff it and that’s all.

So, it is not about Crimea but about us protecting our independence, our sovereignty and our right to exist. That is what we should all realise.

If we believe that one of the current problems – including in the economy as a result of the sanctions – is crucial… And it is so because out of all the problems the sanctions take up about 25 to 30 percent. But we must decide whether we want to keep going and fight, change our economy – for the better, by the way, because we can use the current situation to our own advantage – and be more independent, go through all this or we want our skin to hang on the wall. This is the choice we need to make and it has nothing to do with Crimea at all.

YEVGENY ROZHKOV, VESTI ROSSIYA-1 CHANNEL: Good afternoon, Mr President.

First of all, the Crimea issue is more or less clear. The only question perhaps is how much we will have to eventually invest in its development after the difficult Ukrainian past. The most urgent question for me is about eastern Ukraine, which is now calling itself Novorossiya. How do you see the future of that part of Ukraine? Do you believe in the success of the Minsk agreements? Do you think they will help reconciliation? And how are we going to further help Donbass? Will it be humanitarian aid, as it is now, or something else?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think I answered a part of your question in my response to your Ukrainian colleague. We assume that the crisis will be resolved sooner or later. The sooner the better, of course. This is the first point.

Second, it should be addressed and settled by political means, and not through pressure, no matter what type of pressure, whether an economic blockade or the use of armed force. And, of course, we will help the people, as we are doing now (as you may know, a tenth humanitarian convoy has been sent). After all, we should proceed from the fundamental principles of international law and from people’s right to decide their fate on their own.

It was not by chance that I… It’s not just a casual phrase, when I said that peace should be restored and problems should be resolved by political means. We proceed from the assumption that a common political space will be restored. It’s hard to say at this point what it would look like, but I think we should strive for this. The problem is, however, that both sides need to strive for this. Both! And people living in Ukraine’s southeast should be respected. Economic ties should be restored.

It is a fact that much of Ukraine’s power industry burns Donbass coal, but up until now they aren’t buying this coal. We were asked to influence Ukraine’s southeast, Donbass, to make the miners agree to supply coal. We did that, but they are not buying it. Why? Because they’ve closed all the banks and are unable to make payments. Our colleagues told me yesterday: We are ready to pay and have transferred a prepayment. I’ve made inquiries and found that there is no prepayment. They allegedly wired the money to the miners’ bank cards, but the cards are not working! And this is how it is with each issue. Nevertheless, there is no other way but a peace settlement.

As far as the Minsk agreements are concerned, it’s a very important part of this, and we want them to be complied with because, first, the initiative for the Minsk meeting came from me and from Petro Poroshenko. I have no doubt that he is striving for this. But he is not the only one over there. We have been hearing statements from other officials, who advocate basically a war to the end. The implication is that all of this is likely to lead to a continental crisis. We hear many bellicose statements. I still think that President Poroshenko is oriented towards settlement. But concrete actions and steps are needed.

Should the Minsk agreements be implemented or shouldn’t they? Yes they should! Let me repeat: I was one of those who initiated them and we… I’ll say an important thing. Look, I’d like everyone to hear this. Our representatives in Minsk signed a memorandum in September and there were protocols to it that defined the disengagement line. The representatives of Donetsk didn’t sign those protocols. That’s the problem. They said at the very start: We can’t.

When we tried to insist – I’ll be frank with you about this, since the public needs to know these things ­– they told us that they can’t leave these villages (there were three or four disputed villages), because their families live there, and they can’t risk their children, wives and sisters being killed or raped. This is the most important thing. However, the Ukrainian officials did not withdraw their troops from the areas that they were supposed to leave, such as the Donetsk Airport, either. They’re staying there.

Are you aware of the latest developments? The self-defence forces allowed them to rotate their troops at the airport. They took them to a bathhouse and sent them some food. This may well put a smile on your faces, but, on the other hand, this is a positive development. Perhaps, in the end, people will be able to agree on things among themselves. Everyone is insisting on exchanging prisoners of war. I believe that they should all be exchanged unconditionally. But life is more complicated than that. When these lists became available, it turned out (in any case, that’s what the Donbass self-defence fighters told us), that the lists from Ukraine include people who have been detained not in connection with the hostilities in southeastern Ukraine, but somewhere in Kherson or Odessa. These lists must be checked. Nonetheless, we insist and I believe that we need to get these people back home to their families for the New Year or Christmas, regardless of all other circumstances.

Yesterday, they agreed to exchange 30 people. Representatives of the self-defence forces went to the exchange location, and a representative of the Kiev authorities said, “No, we are not going to proceed with the exchange until the next meeting in Minsk.” Well, you can do that, of course, but it would be nice if they could let go at least 30 people … But these are details. Anyway, it would be a positive move, including in terms of implementing the Minsk agreements, which is an important and necessary process.

An agreement was reached to hold a video conference today or tomorrow. First, there will be a dialogue during this videoconference, but the next step should be made at a meeting in Minsk. There’s another important thing. It’s essential for the Kiev authorities to keep their end of the bargain. There was an agreement on adopting an amnesty law. It is nowhere to be seen. They keep telling us that a law on special status was passed, but it couldn’t be implemented, this law, do you understand that? Because the law could come into force and actually become effective only after the other law had been adopted – about the disengagement line. It has not been adopted so far. This compilation has to stop. If Ukraine wants to restore peace, tranquillity and its territorial integrity, the people who live in certain regions of the country must be respected and a straight, open, and honest political dialogue must be maintained with them. It must be a political dialogue without any pressure. I hope that in the end everyone will go down that path.

VERONIKA ROMANENKOVA, TASS: Thank you. This year, it became clear that energy diplomacy has become a key factor in geopolitics. How justified is Russia’s turning to the East and the gas contracts it has signed with China and Turkey?

Have all the pitfalls of these projects been considered? Many still doubt that the Chinese contract will be profitable, while the potential Turkish Stream will leave Russia dependent on Turkey. Do you have anything to say here?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, I don’t. These things are so obvious that it would be impossible to argue. I often hear comments about Russia’s turn towards the East. Now, if you read American analysts, they also write about the United States’ turn towards the East. Is this true? Partly, yes. Why? Is this political? No. This stems from the global economic processes, because the East – that is, the Asia-Pacific Region – shows faster growth than the rest of the world. New opportunities open up. As for energy, the demand for resources is racing in leaps and bounds in China, India, as well as in Japan and South Korea. Everything is developing faster there than in other places. So should we turn down our chance? The projects we are working on were planned long ago, even before the most recent problems occurred in the global or Russian economy. We are simply implementing our long-time plans.

About the Chinese contract – it is not a loss-making project. It enjoys privileges on both sides – on both sides, I must stress. This is true. China offered some benefits as well. I will not go into details right now – these benefits aren’t extraordinary or anything; the Chinese government simply decided to provide some support to the project participants. We, in turn, agreed to do the same. So the project definitely became profitable. Definitely.

Moreover, we have agreed on a pricing formula, which is not much different – if at all – from the one applied to our European contracts, except for the specific regional market coefficients. This is regular practice. In addition, it will help Russia, which will receive and accumulate gigantic resources at the project’s initial stage, to begin connecting our Far Eastern regions to the gas distribution grids, not just to export gas through the pipeline. This will allow us to make the next  – a very important – step. We will be able to link together the western and eastern gas pipeline systems and promptly rechannel resources back and forth when needed, depending on the international market. This is very important. Without it, we would never be able to connect Eastern Siberia and the Far East to the gas distribution system. So this project holds many potential benefits. Not to mention that it is a huge construction site that will create jobs and generate tax income at every level, and revive Russia’s Far East and the entire region.

About Turkey. The Turkish economy is also growing and requires additional energy resources as much as the APR. We built the so-called Blue Stream pipeline many years ago, and now our Turkish partners are considering increasing the supplies to the Turkish market. Should we refuse?

We have reached all the key agreements with them, which cover the pricing formula, supply schedule and other aspects. We more or less understand their requirements, and we will certainly sell them what we have and what they need. Of course, we will do this.

Will a so-called European hub be built on the border of Turkey and Greece? This is not for us to decide. The decision largely depends on our European partners: Do they want stable, guaranteed and absolutely transparent energy supply from Russia, which they badly need, without any transit risks? Great! Then we’ll start working, and the pipeline would reach Macedonia via Greece, go on to Serbia and to Baumgarter in Austria. If they don’t want this, we won’t do it. The thing is that there is no cheaper and more reliable supplier than Russia, and there won’t be any in the near future.

GRIGORY DUBOVITSKY, RIA NOVOSTI: Mr President, I’d like to go back to the situation on the currency market, which changes from one day to another and is a great concern for millions of Russians. Many experts, including you, Mr President, have said the current situation could be blamed also on currency profiteers. Concrete companies and individuals have been named. Can you give us those names? Are they Russians or foreigners? And why can’t they be stopped? Are they too strong? Or are we too weak?

I have a second question on the same subject, if I may. Do the Central Bank and the Government plan to peg or devalue the ruble?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: This is what our Ukrainian partners did, quite unsuccessfully. Are you asking if we plan to force our companies, our main exporters, who receive revenues in foreign currency, to sell it? They would just buy it back the next day, as it happened in Kiev and as it happens in other countries.

The next step in this case should be to set a limit on the purchase of foreign currency on the domestic market. We won’t go this far, and so the Central Bank and the Government are not planning, quite correctly as far as I see it, to limit our exporters in this field.

This doesn’t mean, though, that the Government should not act through its representatives on company boards. After all, these are our largest energy companies. They are partly state-owned, which means that we can influence their policies, but without issuing any directives or restrictions. This we won’t do.

As for the so-called profiteers, it is not a crime to play on the currency market. These market players can be foreigners or various funds, which are present on the Russian market and have been operating quite actively there. Or they can be Russian companies. Overall, as I said at the beginning of this meeting, this is an accepted practice in a market economy. Profiteers always appear when there is a chance to make some money.

At least 124 food and outreach organizations, as well as 26 individual scientists, have signed onto a letter sent to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation protesting ongoing human trials of genetically modified (GM), beta-carotene-enriched bananas intended for Africa.

The GM bananas, which never underwent animal trials, are currently being administered to 12 students attending Iowa State University (ISU), presumably without full disclosure as to the many unknown risks involved.

According to the letter, the trials are taking place under the guidance of Dr. Wendy White, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition. Funding for the trials came from a grant issued by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“We, the undersigned, representing diverse constituencies from across Africa and the world, working towards food sovereignty, are strongly opposed to the human feeding trials taking place at the Iowa State University involving the so called genetically modified (GM) ‘super banana,’” reads the letter.

Gates Foundation funded creation of GM “Matooke” bananas in Australia

Prior to landing in Iowa, the transgenic bananas were spawned at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, also with funding from the Gates Foundation. The goal all along has been to eventually force these “frankenfruits” on Uganda and other countries in East Africa.

But there is still no evidence that the GM Matooke bananas are safe. Most independent research to date suggests that GMOs can induce allergies, trigger autoimmune disorders and even cause cancer, especially after many years of consumption.

“Numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996,” explains the Institute for Responsible Technology.

“The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise.”

GM bananas unnaturally produce added substances for human consumption

Another major concern with the Gates Foundation’s GM bananas is that they are a functional food designed for complete human consumption. They are substantially different from GM corn and soy, for instance, which contain modified traits and aren’t consumed directly.

“Unlike current GM crops in commercial production where agronomic traits have been altered, scientists have spliced genes into the GM banana to produce substances for humans to digest (extra beta carotene),” explains the letter.

“The GM banana is a whole different ballgame, raising serious concerns about the risks to African communities who would be expected to consume it. Production of vitamin A in the body is complex and not fully understood.”

GM bananas aren’t safe and weren’t created to help Africans

If addressing vitamin A deficiency is really Bill Gates’ concern in all this, then he would be actively encouraging Africans to consume a more diverse array of foods already native to their country that are rich in vitamin A, including sweet potatoes and other natural varieties of carotene-rich bananas.

Instead, he is pushing for an untested banana with altered vitamin A levels to be forced on rural Africans who already have access to all the naturally vitamin A-rich foods they could possibly want. The real goal may have to do with Gates’ other admitted agenda to greatly reduce the world’s population.

“Great strides have been made in the Philippines, another target country for vitamin enhanced GM crops, through government programs that supply supplements and improve access to vitamin A rich foods, to overcome Vitamin A deficiencies,” adds the letter.

“Ironically, the promotion of a GM food staple high in Vitamin A, risks perpetuating monolithic diets, the very causes of Vitamin A deficiency in the first place.”

The full letter is available here:
AFSAfrica.org.

Sources:

http://afsafrica.org

http://www.gmwatch.org

http://www.hs.iastate.edu

http://www.responsibletechnology.org

The engineered destruction of the Russian economy is beginning to work on its designated target — the Russian people.

CNN reports that while the tumble of the ruble will reduce government revenues, including a military expansion in response to NATO and the crisis in Ukraine, the real losers will be the Russian people:

Ordinary Russians are feeling the squeeze instead. Consumer price inflation is expected to hit 10% by the end of the year, in part due to the weakness of the ruble, but also due to a ban on imports of most food products from the West.

That was retaliation for U.S. and European sanctions imposed over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Even the price of bread is rising, prompting some Russians to begin hoarding staples.

Obama on Tuesday signaled he would further attack the Russian economy and degrade the ruble by signing a bill that will impose additional sanctions aimed at the Russian oil industry and the country’s defense sector.

Russians Prepared for Color Revolution Threat

Destroying the Russian economy and impoverishing millions of Russians will set the stage for a color revolution in the country.

“If protests erupt over the next few months or years in Russia, the source of the demonstrations and the nature of the NGOs working in the region will have to be closely investigated considering the history of organizations such as NED,” Steven MacMillan wrote in August.

NED, short for the National Endowment for Democracy, specializes in subverting nations unfavored by the global elite. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, admitted in 1991.

Russia is well aware of the threat posed by NED and other globalist NGOs. In May, the Moscow Conference on International Security, sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Defense, concentrated on the color revolution threat.

“We see the tragic consequences of the so-called color revolutions and ordeals survived by the peoples of the states that faced these irresponsible experiments of covert and sometimes even… overt interference into their lives,” Vladimir Putin said in a speech before a meeting of the Russian Security Council in November.

“This is a lesson and warning for us and we will do everything possible to prevent this from happening in Russia.”

In 2012, the Russian government began evicting foreign NGOs. The International Republican Institute and the US Agency for International Development closed down operations after Putin accused the organizations of meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

“The United States recently received the Russian Government’s decision to end USAID activities in the Russian Federation,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. She played an instrumental role in the color revolution that led to a coup in neighboring Ukraine.

USAID, like NED, is a CIA operation. “Many USAID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people” explains a former director of USAID, John Gilligan.

The International Republican Institute is a component of NED and is funded by the U.S. State Department. It played crucial roles coup attempts in Haiti, Venezuela, Egypt and elsewhere.

It was exactly 100 years ago this month when the Christmas Truce of 1914 occurred, when Christian soldiers on both sides of the infamous No Man’s Land of the Western Front, recognized their common humanity, dropped their guns and fraternized with the so-called enemies that they had been ordered to kill without mercy the day before. As mentioned in last week’s column, the truth of that remarkable event has since been effectively covered up by state and military authorities (and the embedded journalists at the time) because they were angered (and embarrassed) by the breakdown of military discipline.

In the annals of war, such “mutinies” are now unheard of. The generals and (as well as the saber-rattling, chest-thumping politicians and war profiteers back home) rapidly developed strategies to prevent such behavior from happening again.

Christmas Eve of 1914 was only 5 months into World War I, and the cold, weary, homesick soldiers found themselves not heroes, as expected, but rather miserable, frightened and disillusioned wretches living in rat- and louse-infested trenches. Most of them had dreamed heroic dreams when they had signed up to kill and die for King and Country a few months earlier, and hey had been fully expecting to be home for the holidays.

Lower echelon officers on both sides of No Man’s Land, who were suffering right along with the troops, allowed a lull in the war – just for Christmas Eve. Then they allowed the troops to sing Christmas hymns, and many of the not-yet hardened soldiers started to recognize the humanity of the demonized “other” that had been fingered as sub-humans deserving of death.

And so the merciful spirit of the season came upon them; and they disobeyed orders that forbade fraternizing with the enemy by laying down their weapons and mingling with them in the area between the trenches.

Unknown to the higher echelon commanding officers – who were enjoying good food and drink in their warm bunkers out of the range of the artillery barrages and machine gun bursts – the grunts on either side of the battle line suddenly sensed the stupidity of killing someone that was just like them and who had never done them any harm.

Many of the men that experienced the moment knew that something deeply profound had happened: a spiritual experience of mutual respect and love that epitomized their mutual Christian upbringing – and they refused to fight and kill when the war was ordered to re-start.

Some soldiers were punished for their disobedience and many of them had to be replaced with fresh troops that had been in the reserve trenches the day before (corporal Adolf Hitler was among the ones who did not experience the front line fraternization.)

The Christmas Truce of 1914 had come close to ending the futile and ultimately suicidal war that destroyed 4 empires and an entire generation of young men that had been bamboozled into joining up.

The truce had occurred at various places up and down the triple parallel lines of trenches that stretched through France for 600 miles from Belgium to Switzerland. The vast majority of the soldier that experienced the unauthorized truce did not survive the war. Many of them had just experienced a bloody battle that had killed tens of thousands of troops on either side, with essentially no territory being gained by either side, and they now knew that they were in for a long war of attrition. They would not be home for Christmas.

The Prelude to “The War to End All Wars”

World War I was referred to in the pre-WWII history books as “The Great War” or, naively and rather laughably, “The War to End all Wars”. In the centuries before, warfare as a means of settling disputes between nations was often regarded as a noble undertaking that only involved professional soldiers. Wars in those days were just larger examples of the common (and equally barbaric) practice of engaging in “honorable” duels (sometimes to the death) when a rival disrespected another with something as simple as an offhand insult.

European military officers came from the landed aristocracy. The careers of the officer class were so familial that they almost seemed hereditary. Part of the attraction of being a military officer in Europe was the unquestioning respect that military officers demanded, not to mention the impressive uniforms and the medals and ribbons that were worn on them.

Military veterans in Europe were universally honored as heroes, whether dead or alive, no matter if they had participated in war crimes or acts of torture, rape, murder or pillage. Military shrines, statues, cemeteries and holidays for “the fallen” are regarded as normal all over the continent. The military service of European veterans seems to have been regarded as worthy of praise – no questions asked – even if the veteran himself felt unworthy.

What most prospective enlistees or conscripts knew about war was what their fathers and the uber-patriotic war literature had selectively told them and what they had learned from the censored, palatable version of war that they read about in their school history books.

Most of the enlistees were looking forward to escaping the boredom of their day-to-day existence and experiencing up close the exhilaration of playing real war games. These unaware, wet behind the ears young men hadn’t been told about the dehumanizing verbal and physical abuse that was to be meted out by their drill sergeants in basic training or the beatings they would suffer later for disobedience or disrespect.

Unbeknownst to the naive grunts on the front line, the ruling elites had ulterior motives. (The kings, queens, emperors, princes, nobles, kibitzers, veterans, the bankers that financed the wars, the weapons makers and assorted other captains of industry all felt that they would somehow profit from the war.) These war profiteers, too old or influential to go to war themselves, knew how much money could be made in wars, and, in addition, they had the assurance that they would be far from the killing fields.

French and British schoolchildren had been indoctrinated for generations in the belief that the German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm, was evil incarnate and therefore, if war were to come, the German soldier who took orders from him was deserving of death. German schoolchildren were taught the same about the French and the English rulers and killing soldiers. And each of the leaders, sensing that their honor was at stake, seemed to be spoiling for a fight.

The Powder Keg: Alsace-Lorraine

Most of the civilians living in Europe had very few direct memories of war. The horrors of war had been erased from their memories but, to the professional warrior class, war was a game that could advance their careers and pay grade. Times were relatively good for many Europeans, but the military class was more than willing to get into a good war.

Peace in Europe had actually existed since Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo a century earlier, with the exception of the relatively short Franco-Prussian War of 1870. The 1871 Treaty of Frankfurt that ended that war (with France surrendering to the Germans) transferred the disputed territory of French-occupied Alsace-Lorraine back to Germany. Alsace-Lorraine was a rich industrial region located between France and Germany that had alternately been claimed over the centuries by either Germany or France – depending on which nation had lost the last war.

Before WWI erupted, Alsace-Lorraine was a powder keg ready to be ignited. The two historical enemies “knew” that Alsace-Lorraine was rightfully theirs, and they were willing to kill for it or die trying – not to mention earning the right to spell its largest city either Strassburg or Strasbourg.

Authoritarian, Militarized Europe

Most European governments were not democracies. They were authoritarian, paternalistic and anti-democratic, and there were enormous and often widening gaps between the haves (the 1%) and the have-nots of the lower 99%. Attempts at instituting socialism or representative democracy had been brutally put down by the conservative ruling elite’s obedient police and security forces.

Cruelty in child-rearing (and basic training) was the norm in Europe, which contributed heavily to the generational obedience to authority figures, whether parents, school teachers, clergypersons, drill sergeants, generals, corporations or political leaders. Most Europeans therefore accepted the rule of the hereditary kings, emperors, princes, nobles and military generals. And, as is also true of non-democratic institutions, everybody was expected to be obedient to those above them in the chain of command and to demand obedience from those below. Unconditional obedience to authority makes it easy to develop efficient killing soldiers for war departments and dictators.

The Divine Right of Kings

For centuries, most European leaders felt that it was their divine right to colonize other nations and enslave the inhabitants – by any means necessary – especially if those inhabitants were of another color or religion.. Any territory that had valuable natural resources to steal or workers to exploit, no matter where in the world it was, was considered a legitimate target especially if it was militarily weaker than the invader and as long as the citizens of their home nation were uninformed, self-satisfied, arrogant, uber-patriotic, distracted and/or apathetic.

The method of choice for the subjugation of a people targeted for colonization – a la Christopher Columbus – was always the use of overwhelming military force followed by years of brutal occupation and the afore-mentioned systematic looting of natural resources or labor. Killing, torturing, intimidating, imprisoning, silencing, exiling or otherwise “disappearing” the ethical opposition is the norm for empires. The intellectuals, altruists, prophets, poets, artists, singers, songwriters, investigative journalists and other truth-tellers or resistance movement activists had to be silenced.

In the century prior to 1914, all European empires had standing armies and military bases both at home and abroad. Nations often negotiate treaties with potential allies that promise that, if one nation was attacked by another treaty-signatory, each would come to the other’s aid. This reality resulted in a very complex web of treaties that was instrumental in starting World War I.

Living by the Sword/Dying by the Sword

The totally avoidable military madness of WWI resulted in the destruction of four empires and the deaths of upwards of 20 million people, most of whom were young naive patriotic men who had, in retrospect, stupidly welcomed the chance to prove their manhood by engaging in what they thought would be exciting war games. All sides had somehow trusted the ridiculous assertion that everybody would be home by Christmas – welcomed home as conquering heroes! That myth was propagated by the press and foolishly  believed by those of military age.

When Archduke Ferdinand, the heir-apparent to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, the century of relative European peace rapidly unraveled in a series of errors of judgment, bureaucratic snafus, failures of communication and refusals to risk dishonor by “turning the other cheek” or even negotiating in good faith. Within days of the assassination, the saber-rattling heads of European states began mobilizing for war.

Within a month the dominos fell, with each nation honorably living up to their treaty obligations by declaring war on one another. And on August 4, 1914, World War I began in earnest when Austria tipped over the first domino by shelling innocent civilian populations in little Serbia, an action that prompted the declarations of war by Russia, Germany, Britain and France.

The chest-pounding of the deluded, arrogant, out-of-touch leadership on all sides resulted in a war fever that had unstoppable momentum. Their indoctrinated testosterone-laden rookie soldiers soon found themselves, as always, to be the elite’s dutiful trigger-pullers; and an entire generation of young men was wasted in the trenches of the Western Front, either killed or wounded.

Most of those that survived bodily were rendered insane, criminally psychopathic or otherwise psychologically and/or spiritually disabled for the rest of their lives. No one, especially the glory- and power-seeking militarists at the top, had foreseen the coming holocaust or the intolerable stalemates in a new kind of warfare that relied on shovels, machine guns, artillery and poison gas. Heroic cavalry charges with swords drawn were suddenly obsolete. Everyone, especially the out-of-touch generals and the clergymen who were supposed to be in charge of the nation’s souls, had been blinded by the propaganda lie that war was something other than satanic.

As tantalizing as is the story of the Christmas Truce, it is also a reminder of what could have happened if there had been less obedience to authority and more organized opposition to senseless war in the families, schools and churches.

If the well-meaning Christian boys from England, France, Germany, Russia, Austria, et al (who wound up helplessly suffering in that demonic war) had been, in their childhoods, thoroughly exposed to the ethical teachings of their Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, they might have had the capacity to refuse the invitation to kill their co-religionists on the other side of the battle lines. In fact, if they had really absorbed the message of their all-merciful God, they wouldn’t have been able to slaughter anybody at all.

That futile and suicidal war could have ended before it really got up a head of steam if the righteous mutiny had been more widespread, better organized and well-supported by the chaplains at the front and the heavily propagandized, flag-waving civilians back home.

Tragically, the anti-Christic  propaganda machine prevailed, thanks in part to the censorship of the obedient press (that still persists today) by refusing to do good investigative journalism by sanitizing the horrors of war.

What turned out to be a mutual mass slaughter of a degree never before seen in the history of warfare could have ended 100 years ago this Christmas if every soldier had experienced the peace that was present in the trenches and courageously laid down their weapons forever.

One of the lessons of the Christmas Truce story is summarized in the concluding verse of John McCutcheon’s famous song about the event, “Christmas in the Trenches”:

“My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell.

Each Christmas come since World War I – I’ve learned its lessons well:
That the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we’re the same.”

Check out the video of McCutcheon singing his song at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJi41RWaTCs

and, for a good pictorial history of the reality of WWI’s  trench warfare, check out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTXhZ4uR6rs

The official trailer of “Joyeux Noel” is available at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXcseNVZGRM

Dr Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN. He has been actively involved in peace, justice and nonviolence issues for much of his adult life and, since his retirement, has written a weekly column for the Duluth Reader. His columns mostly deal with the dangers of American fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism and other movements that threaten American democracy.

Did Raul Castro Just Reverse The Entire Cuban Revolution?

December 18th, 2014 by Andrew Korybko

Raul Castro may have potentially made a fatal mistake that risks destroying everything the Cuban Revolution built over the past half century. By entering into a deal with the US, he’s letting the wily Color Revolution fox into the hen house, and he’s also betraying his multipolar Russian ally at the same time.

Havana and Washington entered into a surprise deal yesterday to historically restore their relations after engaging in a high-profile prisoner swap. Nobody was expecting such a major development to occur, making many wonder how such an impactful decision could be kept under wraps for so long. The reason being was likely that the US understood what a major hemispheric power play this was and wanted to do everything to safeguard its secret strategy. On the contrary, Cuba, Did Raul Just Reverse The Entire Cuban Revolution? whether its leadership realizes it or not, has everything to lose, and it’s clear from the details that Washington was ‘negotiating’ from a position of strength. While Raul may have thought he could outmaneuver the imminent Color Revolution attempt that will occur after Fidel’s death, he may have actually committed a Yanukovich-esque tactical mistake by trying to enter into agreement with the same forces obsessed with his ouster.

Modern Lessons

Before diving in to the nitty-gritty of Raul’s decision, it is necessary to quickly take an overview of two monumental lessons of the past few years that should not have been lost on any global leader:

The Gaddafi Gamble:

The Libyan leader thought that he could safeguard his state by getting rid of his weapons of mass destruction without a Great Power negotiating on his side (as Russia did for Syria), but in reality, he unwittingly sold his country out.

The Yanukovich “Yes!”:

By saying “Yes!” to working with the Color Revolutionary forces inside the country, Yanukovich guaranteed that his days would be numbered from then on out.

Lessons Lost

Raul somehow managed to not learn any of these lessons and risks the colossal mistake of abrogating both of them. Cuba is suspected of having some type of limited biological weapons program, although the true extent of it is unknown. Nonetheless, if Cuba does have some element of this (which the US has accused it of), then it’s all but assured that it was a bargaining chip in the

Through these companies US sponsors Color Revolutions.

Through these companies US sponsors Color Revolutions.

deal with the US. Although it is only speculative at the time, it could be that the US changed its regime change precondition for the restoration of ties to an ultimatum over getting rid of that Cuba’s bioweapons program. If this was the case, the Raul’s fate will be as good as Gaddafi’s.

But what is certain in this situation is that Raul is following in Yanukovich’s footsteps by trying to save his own skin through convoluted Machiavellian games. Fidel is a likely a lot closer to death than the Cuban government is letting on, and Raul knows that the moment his brother passes away, the Color Revolution will officially be initiated. He thought he could preempt large-scale disturbances among the portion of the population with legitimate grievances that could be manipulated by the US through a proactive deal with Washington. But just like Yanukovich committed a flagrant folly through his ‘reach out’ attempts to the ‘opposition’, so too is Raul doing the exact same thing by working with the US. The difference is, Yanukovich dealt with the proxies, but Raul is politicking with the puppet masters themselves, who are much more experienced at the art of manipulation than the throw-away ‘opposition’ is.

Who’s Really Calling The Shots

On the surface, it appears as though the deal was relatively fair and even, with both sides getting what they wanted plus the future prospect of limitless mutual benefit through the restoration of relations. Sure, Cuba regained its three heroes and this was a symbolic success for the government, but it’s the US that really called the shots in this ‘deal’. It dictated which of the 53 ‘political prisoners’ would be released (another condition for the restoration of ties), and not only that, but they’re free to walk about the island and go right back to their subversive activities.

Pro-Western democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar attempted to radically destabilize the Myanmar government before her famous imprisonment. Now, Cuba has 53 such people and they're free to do as they please without consequence to themselves.

Pro-Western democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar attempted to radically destabilize the Myanmar government before her famous imprisonment. Now, Cuba has 53 such people and they’re free to do as they please without consequence to themselves.

In essence, Raul just created 53 untouchable Aung San Suu Kyi’s that are all but guaranteed to form the core of the public Color Revolutionary elite. After all, so much global publicity has been expended on this deal, that there is close to no possibility that Raul’s government would take the risk of rough handling them in the future, regardless of their provocations, as the global information warfare potential against the government would be too great at that point. He walked right into a trap, and the imminent Color Revolution will now either sweep him from power, or he’ll be forced into conceding everything away and dismantling the country by his own hand as dictated from abroad via the internal (now permanent) proxies.

Reacting Against Russia

The US likely sweetened the deal with some behind-the-scenes economic incentives in order to facilitate its conclusion as soon as possible due to the Russia factor. Putin made a surprise visit to the island in July en route to the BRICS Summit in Brazil, and during his stay there, he announced that Russia was forgiving $32 billion of Cuba’s debt, which was 90% of the total. In exchange, it was rumored that Moscow would be reopening the Soviet-era signals intelligence base in Lourdes, which considering the tense climate of the New Cold War, would have been a massive strategic detriment for the US. With this in mind, the US immediately set off to seduce Cuba.

This means that the US-Cuba deal must absolutely be viewed in the prism of current geopolitical rivalry with Russia. With that in mind, Washington scored an even larger victory than it initially seems. Russia obviously had its own secret plans for Cuba when Putin made his unannounced visit to the country over the summer, but it seems like the US has nullified them before they could get off the ground, since there is no way the US would allow Cuba to retain such a facility as part of the deal. If this was the case, then Russia is out $32 billion for an investment that will never see the light of day (made even worse by the economic war being waged against it at the moment), while Raul’s government can cozy up comfortably with dollars in their pocket from newfound American investors. How’s that for betrayal after Moscow risked a nuclear war to protect that very same government from regime change over half a century ago?

The Bigger Picture

Cuba represents the symbol of the global anti-imperialist movement and its soft power is certainly disproportionate to its size (and rightfully so). Nonetheless, like many things in life, this massive advantage also has an equally negative disadvantage, in that if Cuba betrays its ideological foundation and allies with the US, then it would also be betraying its multipolar allies in the region, specifically Venezuela. In recent years, Caracas has succeeded Havana as the capital most actively resisting American dominance in the region, largely due to the astronomical economic benefits that come with its natural resources largesse, but the two states are still fraternal brothers in the cause, and Venezuela’s leaders are said to sometimes take their political cues from Cuba. But, if Cuba really did double deal against its allies and is now buddy-buddy with the US, then Venezuela would be the first country to be most directly affected by this political reorientation.

As the de-facto leader of the Resistant and Defiant (R&D) Latin American states, Venezuela would no longer have the symbolic ally that gave it this ‘legitimacy’. In fact, if it turns out that both states have divergent views vis-à-vis the US, this could create a Brzezinski-esque intra-R&D spat that could spill over into an all-out split, much like the Sino-Soviet one of decades past. That would be absolutely disastrous for the R&D Latin American movement as well as for overall multipolarity, and combined with u3_Latin-America-Map1falling oil revenues, new American sanctions, the potential for war with American-proxy Colombia, and the ever-present Color Revolution threat haunting Veneuzela, the prospects of a regime change operation succeed there significantly increases. If Venezuela should fall, the rest of the R&D states connected to its network (Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, and the smaller Caribbean states of ALBA) would react like dominos and follow in its path.

Concluding Thoughts

The grand strategic vision that the US wants to set out to achieve is to overthrow the most active R&D governments in Latin America and complete an effective encirclement of Brazil in order to strangle multipolarity’s future in the Western Hemisphere. This would in effect neutralize the entire North and South American landmasses and turn them into a de-facto pro-American reserve, much as they used to be over a century ago. This time, however, the US will have a strategic redoubt to retreat to should its Brzezinski-style chaos succeed in Eurasia, as ‘Fortress America(s)’ would not only provide it with all of the natural resources it needs to be economically self-sufficient, but pure geopolitics dictates that it would be insulated from the vast majority of the supercontinent’s meltdown. Thus, if the US succeeds in retaking the Caribbean via the Cuban card and can penetrate ALBA enough to the point of dividing its leadership and dissolving the alliance, then it will be more than able to ‘safely’ destroy Eurasia with the least amount of repercussions to its own supercontinental interests (North and South America).

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

This article is recommended to be read in combination with Mr. Korybko’s complementary piece at Spuntik.

[After a quarter-century, this is] my last article written as Editor of HazMat Managementmagazine [and] Solid Waste & Recyclingmagazine Guy Crittenden, editor of HazMat Management magazine and Solid Waste & Recyclingmagazine (Part of the EcoLog Environmental Resources Group, “Canada’s leading publisher of print and electronic environmental, occupational health and safety, workers’ compensation news, legislation and compliance solutions – Subscribers include environmental health and safety managers, engineers, executives and lawyers in all industry sectors and government”), Dec 11, 2014 (emphasis added):

  • Instead of a long article about what transpired in 2014 and what may be ahead, I’m going to offer readers three items… that have made a deep impression on me recently; these are “must watch” items for anyone interested in helping our species avoid peril from environmental degradation
  • The deteriorating status of things at the destroyed nuclear plant at Fukushima, Japan…you have an obligation, really, to be aware of conditions there
  • [There is a] very real and present threat from the… highly radioactive… destroyed cores of the reactors, as well as things like the storage of contaminated water in hastily-built, rusting containers
  • This is serious stuff… an actual meltdown of the reactors — real China Syndrome stuff — as had been assumed would never likely happen in a modern reactor
  • The situation is exponentially more dire than Chernobyl
  • [Workers must] remove the rods for safe containment without having them contact one another and trigger a fire, the consequences of which would be unimaginable — We’re talking mass extinction around the world, especially in the northern hemisphere
  • Most people have forgotten the situation and think of it only as a local Japanese problem
  • It’s only a matter of time before another earthquake or tidal wave triggers such an event

Kevin Kamps, nuclear waste watchdog for Beyond Nuclear, Nuclear Hotseat, Dec 9, 2014 (at 37:00 in):  “If the meltdown is bad enough, that’s going to burn its way right through the foundations of the containment — like we’ve seen at Fukushima Daiichi.”

The Cuban Puzzle: Normalisation and Conquest

December 18th, 2014 by Binoy Kampmark

Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US are being re-established.  This should not be deemed remarkable, though the infantile paranoia of Washington’s politicians, strung along by the strong Cuban-Florida lobby, has made it so.  Countries and regimes can always disagree, but the disagreement between Washington and Havana was so acute, it led to assassination attempts, espionage and embargoes against the island state, and, let us not forget, a serious flirt with possible nuclear war.

The occasion for these latest events centred around the release of Alan Gross, who had been in Cuban custody for five years and an intelligence asset, admitted by President Barack Obama as one of Washington’s most valuable deployments against Cuba.  He had been held for twenty years.  Three Cubans held on American soil were also released.

Importantly, it was also a case of timing – Obama is biding time in his last months of office before the next election campaign, and was keen to catch Congress, or at least a good deal of it, napping.

Both Rahul Castro and Barack Obama spoke in synchronised fashion as the events unfolded.  Castro even went to far as to suggest that Obama deserved “respect”.  Obama, in turn, suggested that “isolation has not worked” and took the option that other presidents had been waiting for: move towards some basis for normalising relations.

The nature of such normalisation is hardly going to be normal. Cuban products will continue to remain out of reach, and Cuban authorities will keep a wary eye on American business as it attempts to press the flesh of the Cuban market.  US travellers will still have to go through third parties.  Remittances will, however, be eased.

The vocal American-Cuban lobby was quick to pour scorn on the normalising gesture, and promise to constrict the funding line to any efforts to alter the balance.  Obama has effectively appeased a “state sponsor of terrorism”, claimed Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart on CNN (Dec 17) in tones of signature alarmism.  His elementary school book on international relations is entertaining at best, and he insists that anything to do with Cuba has to be jammed into an “American values” debate, irrespective of the fact that Cuba is, in fact, another country.  Díaz-Balart even wonders whether Washington should even be breaking bread, or eating rice for that matter, with officials in Beijing.

 A step back from the euphoria is needed.  Not that those who find themselves free, or those who will find their money more easily available for consumption be begrudged of what has happened.  The old story about transforming states in the image of Washington’s preferred policy remains.  The disagreement has been over means, not ends.  What has happened is that, for over five decades, every effort mounted by US business, aid and security to combat the Castro regime, has failed.  A country’s sovereignty has been permanently violated, either implicitly, or overtly.

 The latest efforts involved the activities of the USAID agency in April to create a social media program designed to foment unrest in Cuba and efforts to implement “ZunZuneo”, a text messaging network directed at Cuban youths.[1]

 Freedom of press, speech, and association, a full opening of the internet, are the usual mantras of US-driven policy that constitute these violations of sovereignty.  It is notable that Cuba’s achievements in the realms of social policy are never noted, the sort of green-with-envy facilities that entail universal healthcare and education.  While US citizens continue to perish before the medical bill, despite efforts to resolve the issue, Cubans, for all their local problems, do not have the same issues of access.  Literacy levels remain stable and high.

 Washington’s noisy jabber about a concept its own politicians sometimes struggle to follow, has found form in Senator Marco Rubio’s open indignation.[2]  With incandescent rage, he seems to read, in a manner that such legal philosophers as Jeremy Bentham found dangerous, those invisible “inalienable” rights that end up becoming weapons of anarchic worth rather than means of true governance.  In his press address, Rubio seemed to think that Cubans are somehow born under a starry US constitutional sky.

 Rubio does have an interesting angle, one different from his colleagues.  He is the insular pugilist, wishing that the United States become a true, sanctions imposing imperialist on all who disagree with its manifest destiny.  Do not retreat from that provincial premise: “We are a strong and powerful country,” he tells Wolf Blitzer on CNN.  He does not believe that money and goods necessarily produces the intangibles of freedom.  Tourists, he claims, do not produce democracy.

 Not that he is entirely wrong about this. Cuba’s own parlous political system under Batista prior to his deposition by Fidel Castro was a classic example of the problem.  American tourists did very little to bring the authoritarian regime of Batista into a blissful, democratic light.  Free wheeling spenders have very little to do with liberal ideas. But they do tend to keep the rigorous status quo in place.

 It has been the staple of American politics for generations that open markets entail opens societies. The authoritarian systems of South America create during the Cold War, the very states that made sure that the vine of democracy withered, demonstrated otherwise.

 Rubio’s colleagues, in contrast, have been salivating at the prospect that Cuba will return to its status as day time client and night time whore. Money is in the offing; business deals are there to be made.  And the classic error in that is the assumption that American businesses are somehow beacons of radiating freedom. This is certainly the view of such figures as Republican Senator Jeff Flake: commerce and more contact, will “open” the country. Sanctions “denied” Cubans access to means of “empowerment”. This lies at the forefront of the US Chamber of Commerce entrepreneurial strategy.[3]

 Others have more pragmatic views that superficially seem benign.  Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is keen that an embassy be opened in Havana to protect and represent US interests, and makes the relevant point that an embassy in one country does not imply consensus with that state’s government.

For all the rage directed at the recent Cuban-US thaw, the advocates on either side of the aisle follow a constant in US policy: the transformation of Cuba and a return to the sylvan idyll of a US presence.  Whether that transformation features the Castro regime, or the citizens, is mere sideshow garnish.

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

Notes

[3] http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/3d281c11a96b4ad082fe88aa0db04305/Article_2014-12-18-US–Congress-Cuba/id-009ef5c779544b6aba8eb0dd2b347620

With all the talk of Monsanto’s herbicide glyphosate, it is likely that you haven’t heard of dicamba. This is another weapon in the Big Ag giant’s chemical arsenal that is being called yet another indiscriminate chemical that “will take agriculture back to the dark days of heavy, hazardous pesticide use that will seriously endanger human health and the environment.”

Monsanto is sewing GMO cotton and soybean that were created specifically to resist the dicamba herbicide. This herbicide is the subject of great scrutiny following the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s final  Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released last week.

Should both the EPA and USDA allow the as-yet-to-be-approved dicamba herbicide, the Center for Food Safety says it will pursue every legal option to make sure it is not used on US crops.

Dicamba is essentially Monsanto’s ‘solution’ to the glyphosate resistant crops that have already taken over US farmlands. Instead of yielding more food, glyphosate has caused an epidemic of super weeds that are so invasive that farmers in the Midwest cornbelt are dumbfounded. More than 60 million acres of US crops are now completely choked by glyphosate-driven super weeds.

A Little About Dicamba

Dicamba was first introduced in 1967 to be used as a broadleaf herbicide. Even then it was linked to higher cancer rates in farmers who used it, as well as birth defects in their male offspring. The herbicide is especially notable for its ability to drift into neighboring farms, thereby damaging crops.

Additionally, dicamba poses a threat to flowering plants and their pollinators. If dicamba was added to the already devastated crops throughout the cornbelt, it could dramatically escalate both environmental damage while negatively impacting human health greatly.

Strangely, though up for review by the FDA, the USDA itself and many scientists suggest that the massively increased use of dicamba will rapidly generate the still more intractable weeds resistant to both dicamba and glyphosate – all this for some more GMO frankenfood.

Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety science policy analyst says:

“Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant crops are the latest fruits of a pesticide industry strategy to increase sales of their toxic herbicides. Genetic engineering is making American agriculture more chemical-dependent and less sustainable than ever before.”

The USDA also just approved GE 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans from Dow Chemical Company, and approvals of similar herbicide-resistant crops developed by other pesticide companies are to come.

They aren’t making food, dear friends, they are making a poisoned world.

EU Parliament Recognizes Palestinian Statehood

December 18th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

On Wednesday, European parliamentarians endorsed Palestinian statehood. Symbolically. In principle. A compromise motion. 

Carrying overwhelmingly – 498 to 88 with 111 abstentions. More on this below.

A previous article said the following:

An estimated 134 nations recognize Palestinian statehood. Sweden the latest to join ranks with others. The first EU country to do so.

Britain, France, Spain and Portugal extended unofficial/symbolic parliamentary recognition. So did Ireland.

Denmark surprised. It was expected to followed suit. Not now. Maybe later. Along with perhaps other European countries.

Has the train left the station? Is Israel’s tide going out? Is Palestine headed for official statehood recognition? Despite strong Israeli/US objections?

Washington opposes Palestine’s statehood. Within June 1067 borders. Wanting occupation ended in two years.

Expect it to use its Security Council veto if needed. One-sidedly supporting Israel. Like dozens of times before.

PLO officials submitted a joint Palestinian/French text. Removing recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stopped short of saying Washington would veto Palestine’s bid.

PLO Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said (French) draft text language “will be presented to the Security Council (Wednesday).”

“(A)s a blueprint. (T)o be put to a vote 24 hours after that.” Israel insists Palestine recognize it as a Jewish State. PLO officials refuse.

They began circulating text language end of September. Testing the waters. Diplomats said the original Arab League-backed text setting November 2017 as an end of occupation deadline had no chance of approval.

France got involved. With Britain and Germany. Discussing options. Including a timeframe for negotiations.

According to PLO official Mohammed Shtayyeh, France “accommodated” some Palestinian wishes. In draft text language. Not as many as wanted. Perhaps not enough to matter.

Psaki said Washington opposes resolutions “prejudg(ing) the outcome of negotiations.”

On Tuesday, Kerry met with chief Palestinian negotiator/longtime Israeli collaborator Saeb Erekat in London. Following discussions, he said:

“(N)o determinations (were made) about language, approaches, specific resolutions, any of that. What we’re trying to do is have a constructive conversation with everybody to find the best way to go forward. We want to find the most constructive way of doing something. (What won’t) have unintended consequences, but also can stem the violence.”

An unnamed Palestinian official called talks “difficult.” Kerry insisted on no two-year timetable. Calling for Israel’s withdrawal.

Washington consistently supports Israeli wishes. Kerry wants peace negotiations continued.

Palestinian statehood if and when Israel agrees. Code language for unconditional PLO surrender.

According to Fatah central committee member Mohammad Shtayyeh:

“The United States does not want a Palestinian state, and does not want to use the veto either. It is avoiding it by preventing us from collecting nine votes.”

Netanyahu met Kerry in Rome. Applied enormous pressure.

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister, Yuval Steinitz, said he “assume(s) an anti-Israeli proposal will draw a US veto.”

“That’s how it’s always been. That’s what we hope will happen” this time.

On Sunday, Netanyahu called the PLO resolution “dangerous.

(B)ring(ing) the radical Islamic elements to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem. We will not allow this. We will rebuff this forcefully and responsibly. Let there be no doubt, this will be rejected. In recent years we have rebuffed recurrent attempts to dictate conditions to us that would have harmed Israel’s security and which are incompatible with genuine peace. This time we will not accept attempts to dictate to us unilateral moves on a limited timetable. In the reality in which Islamic terrorism is reaching out to all corners of the globe, we will rebuff any attempt that would put this terrorism inside our home, inside the State of Israel. (I’ve made this) this unequivocally clear. We will stand firm in the face of any diktat.”

The European Parliament’s resolution said the following:

The body “supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced.”

Resolution language urged Fatah and Hamas “end internal divisions.” Highlighting “the importance of consolidating the authority of the Palestinian consensus government.”

Left of center parliamentarians urged recognition without pre-conditions. Israeli/Palestinian negotiations accomplish nothing.

One-way every time. Israel doesn’t negotiate. It demands.  Symbolic Palestinian statehood support matters only if it advances things closer to eventual official recognition.

According to European parliamentarian Richard Howitt:

“European recognition of Palestinian statehood is not an alternative to either a two-state solution or to peace talks to achieve it but gives a vital impetus to both.”

Voting came after the European Court of Justice ordered Hamas remove from the EU terrorist blacklist. On technical grounds.

Its ruling said:

“The General Court finds that the contested measures (maintaining Hamas on the European list of terrorist organizations) are based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet.”

The ruling came over four years after Hamas appealed its unjust EU designation. Citing a lack of due process. Its status as a “legitimately elected government.”

Labeling it a terrorist organization flies in the face of “the principle of non-intervention in the internal members of a State.”

An EU funding freeze remains in place. f\For another three months. Before lifting it entirely.

What never should have been imposed in the first place. Or Hamas designated a terrorist organization. Yielding to Israeli pressure.

Israel has two months to appeal. Hamas is Palestine’s legitimate government. Democratically elected overwhelmingly. In January 2006.

Labeling it a terrorist organization is false. Malicious. Uncalled for. Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq praised the ruling.

Righting an injustice, he said. Calling Hamas a “national freedom movement.” Not a terrorist organization.

Israel responded as expected. Likud MK/World Likud chairman Danny Danon lied, saying:

“The Europeans must believe that their blood is more sacred than the blood of the Jews which they see as unimportant. That is the only way to explain the EU court’s decision to remove Hamas from the terror blacklist. In Europe they must have forgotten that Hamas kidnapped three boys and fired thousands of rockets last summer at Israeli citizen.”

Hamas had nothing to do with the June kidnappings and murders. Or preemptively firing rockets at Israel. Acting only after numerous IDF provocations. In self-defense.

Netanyahu issued a statement saying:

“We expect (European parliamentarians) to immediately put Hamas back on the list.”

Outrageously calling Hamas “a murderous terrorist organization.” Repeating his usual Big Lie about it wanting to destroy Israel.

Claiming it long ago wore thin. Palestinian liberation remains distant. US support for Israel is firm.

Petitioning Security Council members for long denied justice is futile. As long as US veto power prevails.

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

A Ukrainian soldier who was part of the crew that operated the supposed missile-battery that the Ukrainian Government claims shot down the Malaysian MH17 airliner on July 17th has testified publicly for the first time, saying that the missile-battery was operated by the Ukrainian military, not by the rebels as asserted, and that he and his former crew-mates who operated it laughed when they heard their Government say that this missile-battery was operated by rebels and had shot the airliner down.

An English-translated transcript of the December 15th Russian-language interview with this soldier was posted at UkraineWar.Info on December 17th by Michael Collins, an investigative journalist with UkraineWar.Info who has been following very closely the multiple investigations that are proceeding into the cause of the downing.

This testimony confirms the accumulating prior, already overwhelming and even-more-convincing evidence, which is linked to in my latest article on the topic, here, all of which evidence indicates that either one or else two Ukrainian fighter-jets intentionally shot this airliner down — that it was not an error by rebels who had mis-identified this airliner as being a bomber from the Ukrainian Government, such as the Ukrainian Government and its sponsor the U.S. Government claim.

Regarding the reason why the Ukrainian Government did this, it, too, is clear: U.S. President Obama needed a startling incident in order to obtain from the EU and other U.S.-allied nations their participation in heavily increased economic sanctions to weaken Russia. As soon as this plane was downed, both the Ukrainian Government and the Obama Administration claimed that they possessed convincing proof that it had been downed by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine’s former southeast. All U.S. allies got on board with that and agreed to hiked sanctions against Russia.

This “false flag” event (as such government fakeries are called in the intelligence communities) succeeded, just as did Hitler’s burning down the Reichstag and blaming it on leftists, which was the event that enabled him to seize total power in Germany.

THIS JUST IN (3:21PM Eastern time in U.S.) from Michael Collins: “George [Eliason, a third member of our team at UkraineWar.Info, and a resident inside the conflict-zone] says that due to the pub from the article, the ukraine govt took down their ‘damning’ pic of BUK 312 today and that the reporter who did the interview is underground and fleeing the country.”

So, the reason why Ukrainians are reluctant to go public about their lying Government is obvious. And, all of the ‘news’ media there are owned by Ukrainian, or, in some cases, by American, oligarchs. (The American ones do it through ‘nonprofit’ foundations they create, which are co-funded by the American Government. The U.S. oligarch then gets tax-write-offs, plus co-funding by U.S. taxpayers, to save him still more money on his scheme.)

Palestinian officials are hoping that a U.N. resolution will receive the votes needed for a Palestinian state. But recent reports on how Washington is reacting to the proposals within the U.N. resolution seem that the dream for a Palestinian state is all but a dream. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that the Obama Administration is undecided on how they will vote on the proposals put forward by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Arab league within the U.N. resolution for a Palestinian state with the Security Council before Israel’s elections take place in March 2015. Press TV reported that Agence France-Presse (AFP) said that “US Secretary of State John Kerry will try to persuade Palestinians not to rush ahead with a draft UN resolution to end the Israeli occupation” it also said that “this comes as Palestinians are set to submit a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council Wednesday which calls for the recognition of the Palestinian state and sets a two-year deadline for Israel to end its occupation.” The report also mentioned a historical fact that “In 2002, the US announced its support for a Palestinian state, opening the way for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1397, supporting a two-state solution.”

This past Monday, Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome to discuss issues relating to the U.N. resolution. Netanyahu was adamant when he said “We will not accept attempts to impose unilateral measures upon us by a set date” according to the Press TV report. Reuters published a report titled ‘Washington undecided on U.N. resolution for Palestinian state’ describes Washington’s attitude towards the upcoming vote on Palestinian statehood when “a senior U.S. State Department official said Washington had not yet decided that a Security Council resolution was the right way to go” the report said. “These things are all very much in flux, it’s not as if we’re being asked to take a position on any particular Security Council resolution right now. It would be premature for us to discuss documents that are of uncertain status right now.” The U.S. State Department official is being disingenuous to the media.

First, Palestine’s fate has been sealed when Israel (a Zionist entity) was created in 1948 with European (particularly the U.K) and American support. The essential goal of Zionism was to change the nature of the Jewish people from a religious entity to a political movement that dominates Palestinian lands with Western support. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe wrote an article titled ‘The two state solution died over a decade ago’ which he declares Israel’s intentions following the Oslo Accords, a peace plan signed by both the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993. The Oslo Accords which was also known as the ‘Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements’ described what was in the framework of the two-state solution. It is interesting to note that the Oslo Agreement talks about living in peace and dignity between both sides of the conflict. It says that “it is time to put an end to decades of confrontation and conflict, recognize their mutual legitimate and political rights, and strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process.” But Pappe has a different perspective on the peace process when he wrote:

The Israeli interpretation was that the Oslo Accords were merely an international as well as a Palestinian endorsement of the strategy the Israelis had formulated back in 1967 vis-à-vis the occupied territories. After the 1967 war, all the successive Israeli governments were determined to keep the West Bank as part of Israel. It was, for them, both the heart of the ancient homeland and a strategic asset that would prevent the bisection of the state into two should another war break out.

At the same time, the Israeli political elite did not wish to grant citizenship to the people living there, nor did they seriously contemplate their expulsion. They wanted to keep the area, but not the people. The first Palestinian uprising, however, proved the cost of the occupation, leading the international community to demand from Israel a clarification of its plans for the future of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For Israel, Oslo was that clarification

Ilan Pappe also went on to say that the “Oslo Accords were not a peace plan for the Israelis; they were a solution to the paradox that had long troubled Israel, of wanting the physical space without the people on it” He also stated that the goal of Zionism, which was to find a solution on “how to have the land without its native people in a world that no longer accepted more colonialism and ethnic cleansing.” The Israeli government is only interested in occupying more land as they continue to build illegal “Jewish only” settlements and to control vital natural resources such as water. The Israeli government is also interested in what Mr. Pappe says “to Ghettoise” the Gaza Strip. He wrote:

The political elite that took over in this century, however, while employing the discourse on two states, has established, without declaring it publicly, a one Israeli state in which Palestinians in the West Bank will be in the same secondary status as those living elsewhere inside Israel. They also found a special solution for the Gaza Strip: to ghettoise it.

The wish to maintain the status quo as a permanent reality became a full-blown Israeli strategy with the rise of Ariel Sharon to power in the early part of this century. The only hesitation he had was about the future of the Gaza Strip; and once he found the formula of ghettoising it, instead of ruling it directly, he felt no need to change the reality on the ground elsewhere in any dramatic way

The Obama administration will most likely back Israel as they did in 2011 when The Telegraph based in London reported what Ben Rhodes, a White House National Security Spokesman had said “after Mr Obama met Mr Abbas in New York: “We would have to oppose any action at the UN Security Council including, if necessary, vetoing.” It went on to say that “Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli premier, said Mr Obama deserved a “badge of honour” for his defence of Israel.” Obama can just add his “badge of honour” along with the Nobel Peace prize when the vote on the U.N. resolution is presented to the Security Council because it is possible that the U.S. will use its Veto power against any recommendation for a Palestinian State. The U.S. has used its veto power to prevent the international community from condemnation of Israel’s policies that that has continued to violate international law. The U.S. says that a unilateral vote against Israel is misguided. If the Palestinian bid to become a state fails due to a US veto then the two-state solution will be less feasible. The only possibility left would only benefit Israel, and that is a one-state solution. If Israel were to become a single state, Palestinians would essentially become second class citizens because Israel wants it to be recognized by the international community as a “Jewish State.” Online Israeli news sitewww.ynetnews.com published a report titled ‘Palestinians to submit draft resolution to UN later this week’ on what is the Israeli government is expecting from the upcoming vote:

Jerusalem estimates that if the Palestinians demand a vote on the resolution by the end of December, they won’t have the necessary majority (nine out of the 15 member states) to pass the resolution, and in such a case the Americans won’t need to veto the decision. But if the vote is held after January 1, it’s likely the Palestinians can reach the necessary majority, putting the Americans in a dilemma on whether or not to use their veto power

However, the report quotes Yuval Steinitz, a Strategic Affairs Minister as saying “I assume an anti-Israeli proposal will draw a US veto. That’s how it’s always been, and that’s what we hope will happen.” And he is right. The U.S. has vetoed 42 resolutions that were directly against Israel’s atrocities since 1972. “But Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, speaking on Army Radio, said it appeared the United States “is not eager to use its veto” on the Palestinian statehood issue but was seeking “maximum coordination” with Netanyahu.” The report also mentioned that an unnamed US official was suggesting that Washington thinks that the Palestinian draft was unacceptable:

The Palestinian draft through the Jordanians contains a hard deadline for the withdrawal from the West Bank of two years, so that is not the way we would look at handling a very complicated security negotiation by simply mandating a flat deadline of two years,” the official said

Palestinian Statehood will not happen as long as the Zionist elements in Tel Aviv and in Washington D.C. including congress members who support Israel (several congress members have Israeli passports as dual citizens) and the political power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who still remains highly influential. Former Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon once said “Every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.” The U.S. will use its veto to protect Israel, it always has. What Israel wants it usually gets from Washington, no matter who is the President. If Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush were to become the next President whom both pledge allegiance to Israel, then you can expect the same results for any future U.N. resolution that would lay the groundwork for a Palestinian state.

The international community needs a binding vote that would allow a new Palestinian state which the majority of nations including members of the European community are in favor of. However, since the U.S. is still considered a major power on the Security Council, a Palestinian state will not happen. The only chance for the Palestinians to have their own state is when the U.S. Empire experiences a total collapse due to its reckless political, financial and military policies that has only made the world a dangerous place, and then the Palestinians can once again have a country of their own.

The Cuban Five Are Free!

December 18th, 2014 by Michael Welch

This morning, breaking news on all news agencies says that our three brothers, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, and Antonio Guerrero are free!!! According to the news, Alan Gross is flying back to the United States now, and President Obama will be speaking at about noon today, Eastern time, to announce that and further developments.

INCREDIBLE NEWS! This is a very short notice, just to let everyone know of this GREAT GREAT VICTORY!

Stay tuned for more details!

This victory is possible because of the years of struggle of the strength and determination of our brothers Gerardo, Antonio, Ramon, Fernando and Rene, and all the Cuban people, the struggle of people in the United States and around the world, of all the efforts to demand justice and freedom for the Cuban FIVE! The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five congratulates our brothers and the Cuban people in their victory! 16 Years of imprisonment could not break their spirit!

Freedom for the Remaining “Cuban Five”

December 18th, 2014 by Arnold August

On December 17, 2014, simultaneous public television announcements were made by Cuban President Raúl Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama. They both indicated that steps are being taken toward the normalization of relations between the two neighbours. In this context, the two presidents announced what is known commonly, if not diplomatically, as a “prisoner swap.” This includes the liberation of Alan Gross, held in a Cuban prisoner for illegal activities that violated Cuban laws and sovereignty, and one other prisoner held on the island. For the Cuban side, the governments announced the simultaneous release of the three Cuban Five who remained in prison: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio (Tony) Guerrero. All three prisoners were immediately repatriated to Cuba the same day.

This exchange of prisoners on humanitarian grounds is based on consensual agreements by two sovereign countries. This means that Gerardo Hernández – who had been serving two concurrent life sentences on the basis of false accusations that were never proven in court – will not die in prison. He is now free with his family and his wife, who was denied the right to visit him for the more than 16 years that he spent in U.S. jails and penitentiaries. This was the first thing that came to my mind when I heard the reports this morning. Gerardo will return to Cuba alive and not – had this swap not taken place – as a cadaver on a cold stretcher. While Ramón and Tony would eventually have been freed (on October 30, 2024 and September 18, 2017, respectively) – assuming they survived their lengthy sentences – Gerardo was in fact condemned to a tortuous and slow death within the walls of the savage jungle known as the U.S. penal system. He likely never would have seen his wife again, even under the coldest and most hostile of circumstances that constitute “visiting rights.”

The second emotion that swept over me was that Ramón and Tony are also now finally free and in the arms of their family members, who dreaded never seeing each other again. This was the case with Tony’s mother, who lived with and despaired at the thought that she would pass away without ever again freely holding her son in her arms. They are now together. Ramón’s wife will finally see the fruit of her long struggle over these many years in favour of the freedom of all members of the Cuban Five. Ramón’s daughters have finally been awarded a family atmosphere with their father back in Cuba, where he belongs.

The third thing that came to mind was the already freed Cuban Five members Fernando González and René Gonzalez. Whenever I have seen them on Cuban television, I have felt their emotions and appreciated their words: they would never feel free and in fact be free until the other three Cubans were back at home. It must have been gruelling for them to taste freedom, knowing that their brothers did not yet have it. Their cruel reality ended today.

And so, finally, the Cuban Five are free.

Special recognition must be given to the Cuban government, in addition to the millions around the world who have demanded that justice be done. The Cuban government and its foreign affairs ministry have been outstanding figures on the world scale since January 1, 1959. This tradition has been characterized, among other features, by the upholding of principles while being flexible on tactics. I have never seen the Cuban government give one inch on principle. However, they have also used flexible tactics to advance not only their cause, but also that of the peoples around the world. This prisoner swap, part of the wider context of normalization of relations between the two neighbours, will enter into the annals of Cuban foreign policy as another of its great triumphs.

However, let us make no mistake about this: the greatest heroes of this historical gain are the Cuban Five. This is so because they never gave in to U.S. pressures to have them surrender and denounce the Cuban Revolution for the sake of their own freedom. The Cuban Five thus won their personal freedom based on their own infinite courage and persistence as part of the Cuban Revolution.

Arnold August, a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections and, more recently, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion. Cuba’s neighbours under consideration are the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August.

“Cuban Five” at Heart of US-Cuba Deal

December 18th, 2014 by Marjorie Cohn

In the course of delivering his historic speech dramatically altering US Cuba policy, President Barack Obama briefly mentioned that the United States released three Cuban agents. These men are members of the “Cuban Five,” who were imprisoned for gathering information on US-based Cuban exile groups planning terrorist actions against Cuba. Without their release, Cuba would never have freed Alan Gross. And Obama could not have undertaken what ten presidents before him refused to do: normalize relations between the United States and Cuba.

Fighting Terrorism Against Cuba

On June 8, 2001, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez were convicted of criminal charges, including conspiracy to commit espionage, and conspiracy to commit murder, in a trial in US district court in Miami. They were sentenced to four life terms and 75 years collectively.

 In a 93-page decision, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit US Court of Appeals unanimously reversed their convictions in 2005, because the anti-Cuba atmosphere in Miami, extensive publicity, and prosecutorial misconduct denied them the right to a fair trial. The decision of the three-judge panel was later overturned by a decision of all the Eleventh Circuit Judges, sitting en banc, so the convictions stood.

But the Cuban Five have steadfastly maintained their innocence and there has been a worldwide campaign to free them. In Cuba, the five men are considered national heroes.

 Since the Cuban revolution in 1959, anti-Cuba terrorist organizations based in Miami have engaged in countless terrorist activities against Cuba and anyone who advocated normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba. Terrorist groups including Alpha 66, Commandos F4, Cuban American National Foundation, Independent and Democratic Cuba, and Brothers to the Rescue, have operated with impunity in the United States – with the knowledge and support of the FBI and CIA.

 One witness at the trial testified that Ruben Dario Lopez-Castro, who was associated with several anti-Castro organizations, and Orlando Bosch, who planted a bomb on a Cubana airliner in 1976, killing all 73 persons aboard, “planned to ship weapons into Cuba for an assassination attempt on [Fidel] Castro.”

The three-judge appellate panel noted, “Bosch has a long history of terrorist acts against Cuba, and prosecutions and convictions for terrorist-related activities in the United States and in other countries.” Luis Posada Carriles, the other man responsible for downing the Cuban airliner, has never been criminally prosecuted in the United States. Declassified FBI and CIA documents at the National Security Archive show that Posada Carriles was the mastermind of the airplane bombing.

Several terrorist acts in Havana were documented in the panel’s decision, including explosions at eight hotels and the Cuban airport. An Italian tourist was killed and people were injured. Posada Carriles has twice publicly admitted responsibility for these bombings.

In the face of this terrorism, the Cuban Five were gathering intelligence in Miami in order to prevent future terrorist acts against Cuba. The men peacefully infiltrated criminal exile groups. The Five turned over the results of their investigation to the FBI. But instead of working with Cuba to fight terrorism, the US government arrested the five men.

Former high-ranking US military and security officials testified that Cuba posed no military threat to the Unites States. Although none of the five men had any classified material in their possession or engaged in any acts to injure the United States, and there was no evidence linking any of them to Cuba’s shooting down of two small aircraft flown by Cuban exiles, the Cuban Five were nonetheless convicted of all charges.

A poll of Miami Cuban-Americans reflected “an attitude of a state of war . . . against Cuba” which had a “substantial impact on the rest of the Miami-Dade community” where the trial was held. Dr. Lisandro Perez, Director of the Cuban Research Institute, concluded, “the possibility of selecting twelve citizens of Miami-Dade County who can be impartial in a case involving acknowledged agents of the Cuban government is virtually zero.”

The appellate panel concluded: “Here, a new trial was mandated by the perfect storm created when the surge of pervasive community sentiment, and extensive publicity both before and during the trial, merged with the improper prosecutorial references.” Nevertheless, the five men never received a new trial.

Fernando Gonzales and Rene Gonzales were released and returned to Cuba after serving most of their 15-year sentences. Hernandez was serving two life sentences. Labanino and Guerrero had a few years left on their sentences. The latter three men were released as part of the historic deal.

The Door Is Now Open

In his speech, Obama mentioned the hypocrisy of the US refusal to recognize Cuba while we enjoy normalized relations with Communist China and North Korea. He announced several other new measures designed to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba.

 But Obama did not lift the US blockade of Cuba, which consists of economic sanctions against Cuba and restrictions on Cuban travel and commerce.

Every year for 23 consecutive years, the United Nations General Assembly has called on the United States to lift the blockade, which has cost Cuba in excess of $ 1 trillion.

 The US trade embargo of Cuba was initiated during the Cold War by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in response to a 1960 memo written by a senior State Department official. The memo proposed “a line of action that makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the [Castro] government.” As Obama stated, that strategy has been a failure.

During the Clinton administration, Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act, which tightened the blockade. Obama promised to try to work with Congress to repeal this legislation.

Because of the significance of the Cuban exile community in Miami, and the strategic importance of Florida in US elections, no US president has dared to normalize relations with Cuba. As Alice Walker wrote in The Sweet Abyss, “Many of our leaders seem to view Florida’s Cuban conservatives, including the assassins and terrorists among them, as People Who Vote.” Obama has taken a courageous step in shifting US policy toward Cuba.

In their simultaneous speeches today, both Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro thanked Pope Francis for his efforts in helping to engineer the historic deal.  CNN reported that bells were ringing in churches all over Havana. This is a wonderful day indeed.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and a former president of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). In 2000, she joined 250 members of the NLG in a million-person march in Havana against the US blockade of Cuba.

A previous article called Obama a war criminal. 

Ruthless by any standard. Governing extrajudicially. Presiding over a homeland police state apparatus. Hardening what Bush instituted.

Serving monied interests exclusively. At the expense of beneficial social change. Using America’s resources for war-making. Corporate handouts.

Running the world’s largest gulag. At home and abroad. Filled with thousands of political prisoners.

Spying on everyone. Torturing innocent victims. At home and abroad. Unreported. Out of sight and mind.

What Intelligence Committee senators didn’t explain. Or that torture remains official US policy. Overall ruthlessness persists.

Fundamental freedoms are disappearing in plain sight. Permanent war on humanity rages. Possible nuclear war on Russia. Madness if launched. By false flag or other means.

On Monday, Obama spoke at Fort Dix, NJ. Where this writer entered military service in summer 1956.

When it was mandatory. Thankfully after Korea. Before Vietnam heated up. Fortunately served only domestically.

No overseas deployments. Especially to conflict zones. US forces always involved worldwide. Directly or indirectly.

From its global empire of bases. Far more extensive now than earlier. Using them to deploy special forces. In over two-thirds of world nations.

Not as good will ambassadors. As covert and overt operatives. They’re trained killers. Obama didn’t explain.

Or about America in Afghanistan to stay. Permanent occupation planned. Obama claiming he’s ending the nation’s longest war is false.

His latest Big Lie. Including earlier saying “(t)he United States did not seek this fight. “We went into Afghanistan out of necessity, after our nation was attacked by al Qaeda on September 11th, 2001.”

“We went to war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies with the strong support of the American people and their representatives in Congress; with the international community and our NATO allies; and with the Afghan people, who welcomed the opportunity of a life free from the dark tyranny of extremism. (W)e have struck significant blows against al Qaeda’s leadership, we have eliminated Osama bin Laden, and we have prevented Afghanistan from being used to launch attacks against our homeland. We have also supported the Afghan people as they continue the hard work of building a democracy.”

It’s hard imagining more mumbo jumbo rubbish. Afghanistan is Bush’s war. Obama continues it.

Naked aggression. Premeditated. A war of choice. Planned months before 9/11. Showing no signs of ending.

Not about striking “”significant blows against al Qaeda’s leadership.” Or eliminating bin Laden.

In December 2001, he died of natural causes. Kidney disease and other ailments. BBC and other major media reported it at the time. The New York Times months later.

Obama didn’t kill Osama. His Afghan war has nothing to do with US security. Or defeating Al Qaeda. Or other nonexistent threats.

It’s like all US wars. Advancing America’s imperium. Colonizing strategic territories. Controlling them. Installing puppet regimes. Subservient to Washington.

A previous article called Afghanistan a geopolitical prize. Strategically located. In Eurasia’s heartland. Near its vast oil, gas and other resources.

Straddling the Middle East. South and Central Asia. Perhaps the world’s largest land-based aircraft carrier.

Part of Washington’s plan to encircle Russia and China with US bases. Exploit Afghanistan’s extensive gas and mineral resources. Worth an estimated $1 trillion.

Plus the world’s largest opium supply. Flooding global markets with heroin. Providing enormous profits for Wall Street. Giving CIA access to billions of dollars in illicit drug money.

US state-sponsored 9/11 was a convenient pretext. The mother of all Big Lies. Bush and Obama wars followed.

Naked aggression by any standard. Killing millions. From violence. Deprivation. Disease.

Afghans are long-suffering. Perhaps worse off now than ever. From adversity. Poverty. Unemployment. Malnutrition. Lack of basic services. Extreme deprivation.

Largely on their own. With one of the world’s lowest life expectancies. Around 44 years. One of its highest maternal mortality rates.

Extremely high infant mortality. Over 20% of children perish before age five.

No one’s sure from day to day who’ll live or die. US drone attacks kill mostly noncombatants. Claims otherwise are Big Lies.

Millions are vulnerable to preventable diseases. Epidemic levels of malnutrition persist.

Vital infrastructure is lacking. Severe poverty overwhelming. So is environmental contamination.

Mass unemployment goes unnoticed. Healthcare, housing, education, proper sanitation and other vital needs are sorely lacking.

Human misery is a growth industry. So is hunger. Thousands starve to death for lack of food.

Millions suffer chronic malnutrition. Tens of thousands of children have protruding bones. Distended stomachs.

Begging in streets for whatever help they can get. Most Afghans can’t afford minimally healthy diets. Conditions media scoundrels ignore. America’s deplorable legacy.

Afghanistan democracy is fantasy. None whatever exists. Washington tolerates none. Elections when held are farcical.

Fraud substitutes for a free and open process. Voters have no say. Like in America. Powerful interests control things.

What they say goes. Expect no change end of December. “(M)arking an important milestone,” according to Obama.

“(T)ransiion(ing) (to let) Afghans…take full responsibility for their security,” he claimed. Saying “after more than 13 years, our combat mission…will be over. America’s war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end. (D)ecimating…core Al Qaeda leadership. (D)elivering justice to Osama bin Laden. Push(ing) back the Taliban. (T)raining Afghan forces to take the lead. (M)aking a historic election (possible. Afghanistan’s) “first (ever) democratic transfer of power.”

Despicable Big Lies. One after another. Polar opposite hard truths. Afghanistan is a dystopian wasteland. America’s longest war. Continuing. Without end.

Despite Obama claiming otherwise. With thousands of US combat forces remaining. More deployed as needed.

Obama lied claiming “(t)he time of deploying large ground forces with big military footprints to engage in nation-building overseas, that’s coming to an end. Going forward, our military will be leaner,” he added. Revealing America’s real intentions at the same time. Saying he’ll “make sure we keep you ready for the range of missions that we ask of you. We are going to keep you the best trained, the best led, the best equipped military in the history of the world because the world will still be calling.”

Continuing war without end in Afghanistan. Perhaps another decade or longer. In Iraq. Syria. Ukraine. Somalia. Yemen. Other areas.

Permanent war is official US policy. Peace is a convenient illusion. When America has no threats. Except ones it invents.

Justifying its war machine. Using it irresponsibly. Lawlessly.

Against humanity. Obama’s so-called “turning point” signifies possible global war.

Perhaps with nuclear weapons. For the first time since WW II. Risking the unthinkable. Possible armageddon.

Unnoticed by media scoundrels. Supporting all US wars. Others planned. No matter how lawless. Destructive. In lockstep with might makes right.

America left Afghanistan in ruins. Killed millions of its people. Many more daily. Caused unspeakable human misery.

Washington’s deplorable legacy. Polar opposite claims of success. Obama saying otherwise one of his many Big Lies.

Responsible for genocidal high crimes against peace. Continuing global wars. Risking direct confrontation with Russia. Possibly with nuclear weapons.

Impeaching him remains a national imperative. Prosecuting him in an independent tribunal.

Holding him accountable for high crimes too grave to ignore. Making world peace possible.

Needed more now than ever. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance.

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

It was reported recently that Germany’s broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) investigated what turned out to be hundreds of trucks a day carrying billions of dollars in supplies,  flowing into Syria and directly into the hands of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS). 

Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has played a pivotal role in the destabilization and destruction of neighboring Syria. Since 2011, Turkey has allowed its territory to be used as a transit and staging point for sectarian terrorists flowing from around the world and into Syria in what could be described as a defacto NATO invasion by proxy.

In 2011, after the Libyan conflict drew to an end in favor of NATO, terrorists it had armed and provided air cover for in North Africa were promptly shipped to Turkey where they then slipped into Syria to engage the Syrian government and its military. Since then, an untold number of terrorists have used not only Turkey as a staging ground, but also Lebanon and Jordan.

In addition to literal terrorists being harbored in NATO territory, security agencies of NATO members including the US and UK, have been active along the Turkish-Syrian border arming, funding. and equipping what they call “moderate rebels.” These moderate rebels have recently been revealed as affiliates of or organized directly organized beneath both Al Qaeda and ISIS.

DW’s report does not implicate merely Turkey in aiding and abetting ISIS, but exposes the fact that ISIS’ supply lines lead from within NATO itself – in other words, ISIS is a creation, perpetuation, and agent of NATO.

Contrary to Western propaganda, Al Qaeda was intentionally organized and directed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to engage in a regional confrontation aimed at Iran and its powerful arc of influence. Exposed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 article,  “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” it was stated explicitly that (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda

Clearly, ISIS is the verbatim fulfillment of Hersh’s 2007 warning.

And while some may question what took place between 2007 and the current disposition of ISIS today, those documenting the ongoing conflict in Syria starting in 2011 have noted substantial and continued state sponsorship of militants fighting in the Syrian conflict, many of which are now confirmed to be operating under the banner of ISIS.

Headlines over the past 3-4 years including, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” “First Syria rebels armed and trained by CIA ‘on way to battlefield’,” “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” and “Official says CIA-funded weapons have begun to reach Syrian rebels; rebels deny receipt,” reveal ongoing Western support, bridging the gap between the conspiracy exposed by Hersh in 2007 and the current torrent of supplies flowing to ISIS via NATO territory.

It is clear that the ISIS threat was NATO all along, the culmination of a conspiracy spanning at least two US Presidential administrations, and resulting in a regional conflict marked by some of the most horrific barbarism documented in modern history.

With NATO feeding the ISIS threat directly, no serious attempt to destroy ISIS in either Syria or Iraq can be attempted without first cutting its supply lines leading from NATO territory. Clearly the United States, NATO, or regional partners like Israel, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia have any intention of doing so. As indicated by DW’s report, Kurds operating on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border are attempting to seal off the flow of supplies leading from NATO territory.

The Syrian Arab Army, the Iranian forces supporting anti-ISIS fighters in Syrian territory, and the allies of both countries must insist that strict resolutions are passed to secure the border and stem the flow of ISIS’ lifeline. A clearly worded resolution, if voted down by the likes of the US and its NATO accomplices, will expose further the true nature of ISIS and the misanthropic agenda of the West it is a manifestation of.

If the West capitulates and the resolution is passed, further steps toward arming and aiding the Syrian and Iranian governments and their various allies in the securing of the Turkish-Syrian border can be made. From there, the proxy war engineered and executed by the West which has engulfed the region for years, may finally be brought to an end.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Ukraine’s Two Big Gas Deals Are Now Both Dry

December 18th, 2014 by Eric Zuesse

In June, Shell Oil halted its newly dug shale-gas wells at the Yuzivska gas field in southeastern Ukraine, and gave as the reason the civil war there, though only after Ukrainian Government troops had ousted the local residents (who had opposed fracking) was Shell even enabled to dig the wells, so Shell’s departure was puzzling. Then, on 19 June 2014, Igor Alexeev at the oilprce blog presented the reasonable hypothesis of “The Real Reason Shell Halted Its Ukrainian Shale Operations”: “In reality, the truth may be closer to the fact that company is disappointed with the economic viability of what it once thought was a large shale deposit and is looking for a way out.”

The other big gas deal in Ukraine was with Chevron, and it was in the western part of the country, where there was and is no civil war. On Monday night 15 December 2014, Reuters headlined, “Ukraine says Chevron plans to pull out of $10 bln shale gas deal,” and reported that, “Chevron had told the government it was pulling out of the deal,” and that Chevron “declined to give further details.”

All of a sudden, the idea that Obama had taken over Ukraine in a bloody February coup in order to win Ukraine’s gas potential are beginning to sound a bit overblown, or else the White House, where Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and John Kerry’s friend and family-wealth-fund advisor Devon Archer were hired by a multibillionaire Ukrainian thug and gas-speculator Ihor Kolomoysky for the board of his Ukrainian gas-exploration company, must be very disappointed to have slaughtered so many people who live on the Yuzivska field, all those corpses for nothing.

Such are the risks of ‘entrepreneurship.’

Perhaps Obama and Kerry and other promoters of the coup and ethnic cleansing such as John McCain will now send a few flowers to funerals of at least a token number of the soldiers who are dying there so needlessly, and maybe even of some of the thousands of civilians in Ukraine’s southeast who have been killed by them — just to pay their respects, of course, not as any sort of commentary upon those U.S. officials’ sponsorship of the slaughters there. After all, Obama and Kerry and McCain aren’t Ukrainian officials. They’re just observers, and concerned American citizens regarding the misfortunes of America’s newest colony, which happens to be located right next-door to Russia and to have U.S.-selected rulers who crave for Russia to be nuked.

Jeb Bush Exploring White House Bid

December 18th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Another possible Bush presidency should rile freedom-lovers everywhere. He’s forming a leadership political action committee.

On Facebook, he said he’s doing so to “discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation.”

With “support leaders…” Exploring “ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.” More on his bid below.

The Bush family dynasty reflects a legacy of crime. Deceit. Serial lying. Public betrayal. Neocon extremism. Serving wealth, power and privilege exclusively. At the expense of social justice.

Disdain for human and civil rights. Mindless of rule of law principles. Imperial wars called liberating ones. Mass murder and destruction.

Anti-democratic color revolutions. Torture as official US policy. Operating the world’s largest gulag. At home and abroad. Waging war on humanity. For unchallenged world dominance.

Behind every Bush there’s a crime!

Ninety-year-old George Herbert Walker Bush was a former congressman. Ambassador. CIA chief. Vice president and president. Connected some believe to JFK’s assassination.

His September 11, 1990 joint session of Congress address became known as his “Toward a New World Order” speech.

Signifying a turning point in world affairs. After the Berlin Wall’s demolition. A year before Soviet Russia’s dissolution.

America embarking on a quest for unchallenged global dominance. Using overwhelming military might.

Especially in resource rich areas. Unconstrained by rule of law principles.

Bush I claimed since America won the Cold War, it was empowered to establish international order governing principles. Based on might makes right.

The 1991 National Security Strategy of the United States followed. So did the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance.

Claiming America entitled to bring “security and stability” to various world regions.

Its unilateral right to intervene in internal affairs of other nations. Despite internationald law prohibiting it. Except in self-defense if attacked.

In November 1991, a NATO summit convened in Rome. Washington proposed a so-called “New Strategic Concept.”

Involving US-led NATO taking a “more expansive and less defensive strategic military role.”

A self-declared right to conduct so-called “humanitarian interventions.” Supported by Britain. Code language for naked aggression.

Bush I’s 1989 war on Panama reflected this notion. Deposing Manuel Noreiga. Not convenient stooge enough. Replaced to maintain US control.

Gulf War aggression followed. In January 1991. Then 1990s Balkan wars. NATO’s rape of Yugoslavia. Bush II’s post-9/11 “war on terror.”

His preventive war doctrine. Ludicrously called just war. Justifying the unjustifiable. Advancing America’s imperium.

On the pretext of preventing regimes Washington opposes from acquiring WMDs. Combatting “terrorists.” Advancing nation-building notions.

In 1992, Defense Department officials Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby proposed new US strategy. Saying containment and deterrence were obsolete.

America must remain the world’s only superpower, they maintained. Unchallenged.

Advocating preemptive force. Unilaterally if necessary to confront alleged US security threats. Eliminate them.

Policies Bush II adopted. Implemented by neocons Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and others.

Waging so-called “war on terror.” On “militant Islam.” On invented enemies. Advancing America’s imperium.

Taking full advantage of 9/11. US state-sponsored terrorism. The mother of all Big Lies. Multiple wars of aggression continue. Direct and indirect.

Bush II’s National Security Strategy of the United States endorsed preventive wars. America’s so-called right to intervene anywhere.

Using military force. Against any nation. Alleged terrorist or national security threats. Regardless of international, constitutional or US statute law prohibitions.

American interests come first. Obama a Bush clone and then some. Claiming moral justification for preemptive force. “Just war(s).” “Preventive” ones.

Saying “instruments of war have a role to play in preserving the peace.” Benjamin Franklin said “(t)here was never a good war or a bad peace.”

John Ellis (Jeb) Bush’s presidency assures more of the same. Wars without end. Preemptive aggression. The supreme crime against peace.

Continuing against invented enemies. New ones. Permanent war. Official US policy.

Media reports followed his announcement. Omitting what readers most need to know.

The New York Times headlined “Jeb Bush Takes a Step Toward a Presidential Run.”

Saying he’ll “actively explore” it. “(T)ying up donors whom other candidates are courting and forcing contenders to accelerate their own considerations for 2016.”

According to lobbyist Brian Ballard:

“If he runs, Jeb assumes the mantle of the center-right, establishment candidate, which, along with his family network, means he will have an incredible finance operation.”

Lobbyist/bundler Dirk Van Dongen added:

“Now that he has entered the ring, you will see others doing so fairly rapidly because there will be a race for funders.”

His campaign lawyer, Charles Spies, said his political action committee lets him employ staff.

Raise legally permitted amounts of money. More if he establishes a full-blown campaign committee.

The Washington Post headlined “Jeb Bush’s decision to explore presidential bid scrambles the 2016 GOP field,” saying:

A Bush candidacy would “severely undercut the financial backing for other possible 2016 contenders – especially New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.).”

Plus Mitt Romney if he decides to run again. Rand Paul a possible candidate.

“The most immediate impact of (Bush’s) decision is on the money race,” said WaPo. It’s “remained largely static as party donors waited to see what Bush would do.”

“(Large) numbers of center-right financiers (are) rushing to Bush. (D)raining the pool of financial backers available for other candidates.”

An unnamed GOP fundraiser said “Bush is certainly going to have a formidable fundraising machine…”

He grew up in Houston. Attended the University of Texas. Earned a Latin American affairs degree.

After his father’s election as vice president, moved to Florida. Served as Dade County Republican Party chairman.

In 1986, Florida’s Secretary of Commerce. Resigning in 1988. To help his father’s successful 1988 presidential campaign.

In 1989, served as hardcore neocon Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s campaign manager. Congress’ first Cuban-American member.

Disgracing the office she holds. Along with lots more ideologues infesting Congress. Mocking legitimate governance.

In 1994, Jeb lost his first gubernatorial run. At the time, he was asked what he’d do for African-Americans if elected. He responded saying:

“It’s time to strive for a society where there’s equality of opportunity, not equality of results. So I’m going to answer your question by saying: probably nothing.”

The same year brother George became Texas governor. In 1998, Jeb easily defeated Democrat Buddy MacKay. Served two terms as Florida governor.

He’s hardcore Republican. Like Bush I an II. Involved in various finance, real estate and private equity dealings.

In 1990, he interceded with his father for Orlando Bosch. A Cuban exile. CIA operative. Lawless Castro opponent.

Convicted at the time of firing a rocket at a Polish ship. On route to Cuba.

Released from prison. Granted US residency. Along with Posada Carriles, responsible for downing Cubana Airlines flight 455. Killing 73 people on board.

Earlier, Bush advised Lehman Brothers and Barclays. Served on various corporate boards. Including Tenet Healthcare. InnoVida. Swisher Hygiene. Rayonier.

Tenet reportedly paid him over $2 million. In April 2013, he wrote a Newsmax magazine article. Lying about Social Security and Medicare. Nonsensically claiming they risked collapse without major changes.

His “One Florida” initiative ended affirmative action admissions at state universities.

As governor, he prioritized business interests. Cut taxes by $19 billion. Reduced state government size. Vetoed $2 billion in new spending.

As part of a near $450 million line-item veto of state funding, cut $5.8 million in public library grants.

Pilot projects for library homework help. Web-based high-school texts. Funding for a joint-use Tampa library.

He set aside over a million acres for private purchase. Presided over 21 state-sponsored executions. Commuted no one sentenced to death.

Signed into law caps on medical liability non-economic damages.

Massively transformed Florida’s Medicaid program.

Cut spending. Let private companies decide how Florida’s most disadvantaged get healthcare.

Was involved in the controversial Terri Schiavo case. Massively brain damaged. On life support for over 15 years.

Her husband, Michael Schiavo, was legal guardian. Had power of attorney for her healthcare.

Wanted her suffering ended. By removing life support. Opposed by Terri’s parents. In court.

Bush signed “Terri’s law.” Authorizing him as governor to maintain life support. Florida’s Supreme Court later ruled the law unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court declined to hear Florida’s appeal. Bush serves as Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy co-chair. Along with his sister. Doris Bush Koch.

Is affiliated with the James Madison Institute. A Tallahassee-based right-wing free market public policy think tank.

He supports commodifying public education. Making it another business profit center.

He’s like virtually all Republican and Democrat aspirants. More suitable for a police lineup. Than legitimate political candidacy.

Especially for the nation’s highest office. “Corporatist (and) soulless,” according to Ralph Nader.

Pro-war. Pro-imperial dominance. Pro-bloated military budgets. Pro-police state ruthlessness. Pro-business. Pro-neoliberal harshness.

Anti-populist. Anti-organized labor. Anti-social justice. Anti-peace. Anti-government serving everyone equally.

Monied interests run America. Both parties replicate each other. In lockstep on issues mattering most.

No mystery about who’ll win in November 2016. Business as usual like always!

Making America what its claims to be requires dismantling a corrupted system. Starting over. Top to bottom.

No scattered reforms. A clean sweep. Total makeover. Organized people beating organized money. Nothing in between works!

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

5 Reasons To Question The Official Story Of The Sydney Siege

December 17th, 2014 by Brandon Turbeville

n the aftermath of yet another highly publicized terror attack (or at least the potential for a high profile attack) in Australia by foreign-born jihadists, the Western public is once again experiencing a variety of emotional reactions that they have carefully been trained to experience whenever such events take place at home or abroad.

The xenophobic pro-war right is predictably using the attack as an example of how all Muslims are terrorists and how their total annihilation and implementation of police state tactics are the only solution. The pathetic left-wing is attempting to portray the gunman as a “lone nut” with no political motives as a justification for more “anti-terror” laws. The vast majority in the middle, however, believe the official mainstream version of events, quake in their boots, and move on to the next form of entertainment provided to them by the culture creators without a second thought.

Yet, as is almost always the case, there is much more to the story than is being reported by mainstream outlets. There exists a number of unanswered questions and unexplained inconsistencies with the story of “Man Haron Monis” and his hostage taking escapade in Sydney.

1.) Man Haron Monis (aka Manteghi Boroujerdi) is Shiia, not Sunni. 

While the mainstream reports may suggest that Monis is yet another ISIS-style terrorist that finally attempted to rise and meet his destiny by engaging in terrorist attacks in the West, there are a number of problems with the presentation in terms of details.

Western media reports that, among other ludicrous demands, Monis requested to be provided with an ISIS flag while holding up the café in the Sydney business district. The problem, however, is that Monis is Shiia, not Sunni. Sunni, of course, is the brand of Islam that ISIS espouses. While both sects see their share of fundamentalism, the twain do not mix.

Why then, would a Shiia cleric (fundamentalist or otherwise) request an IS flag at the scene of his crime for all the world to see?

2.) Is Monis A “Liberal Muslim” Or A “Fundamentalist Muslim?”

While the absurd request for an IS flag during the course of an act of violence being committed by a Shitte Muslim is enough to convince the average spectator that Monis was a member of ISIS, there is a distinct lack of consistency in the way in which Monis has been portrayed in the Western media. Nearly ten years ago, Monis was presented as a “liberal Muslim” preaching a brand of tolerant and mainstream Islam. Since 2013, however, Monis has been presented as both a murderer and now a terrorist. While the latter may certainly be true, the presentations are nonetheless contradictory.

Indeed, as Tony Cartalucci of Land Destroyer reports in his article “Who Created Cartoon Character’Man Haron Monis’ Behind ‘Sydney Siege’ Crisis,” Monis has spoken glowingly of the West in the past; Canada, the United States, and Australia in particular. In an interview with The Religion Report of the Australian ABC, he stated,

…we can say Australia, Canada, England, USA, so many western countries, they are religious societies. They don’t say ‘We are religious’, but in fact the spirit of religion, we can see the spirit of religion in these societies. And some other countries in the Middle East, in Asia, they say ‘We are Islamic’ they have a name of Islamic, but in fact they are not religious societies and religious governments. Whenever I walk in the street, whenever I go out in Australia, I feel I am in a real religious society. I don’t want to say it is perfect, we don’t have a perfect society on the earth, but when we compare, if we compare Australia with Iran and other countries in the Middle East, we can say it is heaven.

These are hardly the words of an Islamic terrorist filled with hatred for the West. Yet that is exactly what Monis is portrayed as being in later years. Indeed, there is little evidence to the contrary that the assailant was, in fact, Monis. The question then, is why the contradictory behavior and media portrayal of Monis.

3.) Monis Served US/NATO/West’s Interests As Propaganda Tool Against Iran

Before Monis became the star of Sunday evening/Monday morning news, he served as a convenient agent of propaganda against the government of Iran, itself a major target of NATO and the West.

As Tony Cartalucci writes,

But before Monis/Boroujerdi’s recent run-ins with the law and his role as chief “Muslim boogeyman” in Australia, he was “Manteghi Boroujerdi,” a “victim” of the “Iranian regime” who was in love with Western society.

Australia’s ABC in its “Religion Report” dated January 31, 2001, introduced Monis/Boroujerdi as follows:

…while in Sydney we talk to Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi, an Iranian cleric espousing a liberal brand of Islam – dangerously liberal, as his views have led to his wife and two daughters being held hostage in Iran.

The interview itself is used as yet another vehicle to carry along Western propaganda long-aimed at Iran. It claims Monis/Boroujerdi’s family is in grave danger and that Monis/Boroujerdi himself would be executed should he ever return to Iran. It quotes Monis/Boroujerdi several times including claims he was formally associated with Iranian intelligence:

In Iran, mostly I have been involved with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

And was in contact with the UN regarding security issues in Iran:

…more than four years I have not seen my family, and the Iranian regime doesn’t let them come out. In fact I can say they are hostage; as a hostage the Iranian regime wants to make me silent, because I have some secret information about government, and about their terrorist operations in the war. I sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and somebody on behalf of Mr Kofi Anan sent the answer, and they want to do something. I have hope and always I pray and ask God to solve my problem.

4.) Did Monis Love His Wife And Fear For Her Safety Or Did He Kill Her?

Notice in the statement above that one of Monis’ gripes with the Iranian government was that not only was he in personal danger as a result of his “liberal” teachings, but his family was in danger as well. Ironically, he stated that his family was being held hostage by the Iranian regime. However, fast forward to 2013, and Monis is facing charges on “accessory before and after the fact to the murder of [his ex-wife] Noleen Hayson Pal, 30, who was stabbed 18 times and set alight outside a western Sydney unit in April.”

While Monis would certainly not be the first man to kill his ex-wife, his concern for her safety at the hands of the Iranian government does not match up with the concern he allegedly showed her in Australia. If Monis was truly the “Hate Sheik” as he was presented in the articles regarding his ex-wife’s murder, then why was he first portrayed as such a loving liberal by the very same media?

It should also be noted that Monis recently made a reputation for himself by sending hate mail to the families of dead Australian soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. Monis’ letter writing campaign was used to stir up tension between the pro and anti-war factions in Australian society and cause quite the controversy publicly.

5.) Shiite Clerics In Australia Did Not Trust Monis

By 2008, Shiite religious leaders in Australia had asked Australian Federal security agents to investigate Monis and his activities. As an article in the Australian reported,

FEDERAL agents have been urged by the nation’s senior Shia leader, Kamal Mousselmani, to investigate an Iranian man purporting to be a prominent Islamic cleric.

Sheik Mousselmani told The Australian yesterday the mystery cleric – who has been identified as Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi on his website after appearing under the name Sheik Haron – was not a genuine Shia spiritual leader.

He said there were no ayatollahs – supreme Shia scholars – in Australia and none of his fellow spiritual leaders knew who Ayatollah Boroujerdi or Sheik Haron was.

“We don’t know him and we have got nothing to do with him,” Sheik Mousselmani said. “The federal police should investigate who he is. It should be their responsibility.”

Yet, as Cartalucci adds in his own article,

But it was the Australian media itself who introduced him publicly as an “Ayatollah” and the Australian government that vetted him and allegedly granted him political asylum. He was allegedly in contact with the UN and was used to stir up anti-Iranian sentiment in Australia. It is then highly suspicious that now both the Australian media and the Australian government appear to have no knowledge of who he is or where he came from.

Conclusion

Whatever the true nature of Monis may be – legitimate mental patient, patsy, or tool of Western intelligence agencies – there is clearly much more to the story than what the mainstream press is printing and promoting.

Regardless, the only thing that we can know with absolute certainty is that the Sydney Siege will be used as propaganda to the utmost effect by all Western and NATO governments in the push for further war abroad and an even greater police state at home.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 300 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

A danger from the “war on terror” was always that it would encourage the spread of an authoritarian U.S. state, ignoring international law abroad and constitutional rights at home, a process that is now growing more apparent with impunity for both torturers and police who kill minorities.

‘As human rights advocates and civil libertarians have warned since the early days of the “war on terror,” human rights violations of terror suspects will eventually set the United States on a slippery slope in which authorities deem it optional whether to respect the human rights of anyone.’ (Photo: donkeyhotey/flickr/cc)

The international fallout from last week’s long-delayed release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 500-page executive summary of its still-classified 6,000 report on CIA torture could hardly be more intense, with calls coming from the United Nations, foreign governments and the human rights community for prosecutions of those who carried out or authorized the torture techniques described in the report, including senior officials from the Bush administration.

But judging from the self-assured comments of CIA and former administration officials, there is no real concern over the possibility of any criminal liability, a lack of accountability which has led to a palpable arrogance among those who would be behind bars if laws were actually enforced on an equal basis in the United States.

President George W. Bush signing Military Commissions Act of 2006.

The above-the-law sense of entitlement was perhaps most clearly on display in former Vice President Dick Cheney’s appearance this Sunday on “Meet the Press,” stating that when it comes to using torture, “I’d do it again in a minute.”

When presented with gruesome details from the Senate report on torture – for example the newly revealed “enhanced interrogation technique” of “rectal feeding,” i.e., anal rape – and asked for his definition of what might constitute “torture” in a legal sense, Cheney retorted that torture is “an American citizen on his cellphone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York on 9/11.”

Short of this rather high bar, nothing, by definition, that the United States does to its detainees could conceivably be considered torture.

Similarly, when asked about the large number of innocent people (26 out of 119 CIA detainees, according to the report) who had tragically been detained and tortured in error, for example Gul Rahman – a victim of mistaken identity who was chained to the wall of his cell, doused with water and froze to death in CIA custody – Cheney stated indifferently that these individuals essentially don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The only problem that Cheney had was “with the folks that we did release that end up back on the battlefield.”

“I’m more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent,” he said. Taken to its logical conclusion, Cheney’s reasoning would seem to hold that it is preferable to indefinitely detain and torture a million innocent people than to allow one “bad guy” to slip through the cracks. The implications of this logic are, needless to say, chilling (not to mention completely at odds with the legal principle of presumed innocence).

A Courtroom Defense

At times, watching Cheney make these cold rationalizations on “Meet the Press,” it may have occurred to viewers that the more appropriate venue for this interview would have been on the witness stand of a courtroom. After all, what Cheney was defending was not just controversial policy choices, but clearly defined crimes of torture and murder.

Although he was sure to emphasize that “All of the techniques that were authorized by the President were, in effect, blessed by the Justice Department,” the fact remains that providing the cover of law to a crime makes it no less of a crime.

This is a point that UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism Ben Emmerson specifically made last week following the release of the report. In a statement, Emmerson said, “The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”

Emphasizing that all individuals responsible for “the criminal conspiracy” described in the Senate report “must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” Emmerson noted that “international law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture.”

Judging from Cheney’s arrogant display on “Meet the Press,” however, there appears to be very little appreciation for the niceties of international law such as its expressed prohibition on official immunity when it comes to the crime of torture. He seems to be quite confident, indeed, that official immunity is unnecessary when there is an implied unofficial immunity that is granted to public officials in the United States, this being the case whether it pertains to CIA torture or police brutality.

Police Shootings

The same arrogance that Cheney is so casually displaying can also be seen in the closely paralleled story of the recent spate of police shootings and killings of innocent or unarmed African-Americans, and the remarkable wave of demonstrations that has taken hold across the United States in response.

With large-scale protests happening in most major American cities over the past month – particularly since grand juries decided not to indict the police officers who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City – one might think that cops would be extra careful these days not to come across overly arrogant or obdurate. This, however, would not be the case.

In response to the NFL’s Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Andrew Hawkins taking the field on Sunday wearing a T-shirt protesting recent police shootings in Ohio – reading “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford” on the front and “The Real Battle for Ohio” on the back – Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland police union, claimed the shirt was disrespectful and he disparaged the very idea of athletes holding opinions about anything other than sports.

“It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law,” Follmer said in a statement. “They should stick to what they know best on the field.” In other words, keep your opinions to yourself, boy, and just play football. Follmer also demanded an apology from the Clevelend Browns organization, which to their credit, the Browns did not extend.

Instead, the Browns fired back with a statement saying the organization endorses the rights of players “to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner.”

Hawkins also weighed in with comments to the media that revealed, in fact, a deep knowledge and understanding of what law and justice mean (or should mean), contrary to Follmer’s condescending remarks. “Justice,” he said, “is a right that every American should have. Justice means that the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment.”

His six-minute locker-room monologue to reporters ended with him choking up while drawing a parallel between his own young son and the tragic death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot by police in Cleveland on Nov. 22 while holding a toy gun.

“My number one reason for wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin. And that scares the living hell out of me,” he said.

Protests and Fears

This genuine, personal fear of police violence is one that has been widely expressed over the last several weeks of protests taking hold across the country. As Democracy Now’s Aaron Maté reported from New York’s “Millions March” on Saturday, one of the dominant themes being expressed on the streets was “a sense of not feeling safe, not feeling safe themselves and not feeling safe for their loved ones, people of color in heavily policed communities.”

Interviewing protester Darrell Greene, Maté asked him to explain his sign, which read “Me, my father, my son. Who’s next?”

Greene responded, “At this point, I know I’m a productive citizen, and I don’t feel safe in my own community. I’ve never been in trouble with law enforcement. And from what I’m seeing on the news and what’s been going on, I really wonder: Am I next? I’m wondering if the people in my community are next. We’re all productive citizens, and we’re in fear for our life. We feel like it’s open season on all minorities, and we want to know if we’re really safe.”

Protester Nilan Johnson echoed these sentiments. “I’m here because Americans, period, are being preyed on, right now,” he said. “African-Americans are once again fighting for the right to be human, and I think that’s horrible.”

Asked whether he feels, as a person of color, whether he is unsafe in his community, Johnson replied, “That’s – I feel that daily, so I feel that’s a preconditioned nature now. I feel threatened and marked and cornered. And everybody here feels the same way. And we’re trying to keep our humanity.”

If not a direct byproduct of the war on terror’s excesses and the impunity that law-breakers at the highest levels of government enjoy, this feeling of powerlessness, insecurity and injustice is certainly closely related. Indeed, as far back as 2007, civil rights leaders were drawing these connections, in particular in a report prepared for the United Nations entitled “In The Shadows Of The War On Terror: Persistent Police Brutality and Abuse of People of Color in the United States.”

Since 9/11, the report explained, “there have been dramatic increases in law enforcement powers in the name of waging the ‘war on terror,’” while simultaneously, counter-terrorism policies have “created a generalized climate of impunity for law enforcement officers, and contributed to the erosion of what few accountability mechanisms exist for civilian control over law enforcement agencies.”

This has led to an erosion of public discussion and accountability with respect to the use of excessive force against people of color, while at the same time, “systemic abuse of people of color by law enforcement officers has not only continued since 2001 but has worsened in both practice and severity,” according to the report. As a representative of the NAACP put it, “the degree to which police brutality occurs … is the worst I’ve seen in 50 years.”

Troubling Trend

Even establishment publications such as the Wall Street Journal have noticed the troubling trend of rising police violence and its connections with the war on terror. As a feature article in WSJ put it in August 2013, “the war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop – armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”

This threat to liberties is compounded when the justice system fails to hold accountable those who break the law and violate people’s rights. Whether it is Eric Garner in New York or Gul Rahman in Afghanistan, the victims of injustice must have redress, and “those who do wrong should get their due punishment,” in the words of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.

As human rights advocates and civil libertarians have warned since the early days of the “war on terror,” human rights violations of terror suspects will eventually set the United States on a slippery slope in which authorities deem it optional whether to respect the human rights of anyone, including U.S. citizens. At that point, anyone is fair game, and all of us, including law-abiding Americans, may find ourselves at the mercy of an unsympathetic authoritarian state.

Nat Parry is the co-author of Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush. Follow him on Twitter: @natparry

The Fukushima Endgame: The Radioactive Contamination of the Pacific Ocean

December 17th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Nuclear radiation resulting from the March 2011 Fukushima disaster –which threatens life on planet earth– is not front page news in comparison to the most insignificant issues of public concern, including the local level crime scene or the tabloid gossip reports on Hollywood celebrities.

The shaky political consensus both in Japan, the U.S. and Western Europe is that the crisis at Fukushima has been contained. 

The truth is otherwise. Known and documented, the ongoing dumping of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean constitutes a potential trigger to a process of global radioactive contamination. 

This water contains plutonium 239 and its release into the Ocean has both local as well as global repercussions.  A microgram of plutonium if inhaled, according to Dr. Helen Caldicott, can cause death:

Certain isotopes of radioactive plutonium are known as some of the deadliest poisons on the face of the earth. A mere microgram (a speck of darkness on a pinhead) of Plutonium-239, if inhaled, can cause death, and if ingested, radioactive Plutonium can be harmful, causing leukemia and other bone cancers.

“In the days following the 2011 earthquake and nuclear plant explosions, seawater meant to cool the nuclear power plants instead carried radioactive elements back to the Pacific ocean. Radioactive Plutonium was one of the elements streamed back to sea.” (decodescience.com).

It would appear that the radioactive water has already penetrated parts of the Japanese coastline:

Environmental testing of shoreline around the nuclear plant (as well fish, especially Tuna) showed negligible amounts of Plutonium in the seawater. The Plutonium, from what little is reported, sank into the sediments off the Japanese coast.”  (Ibid)

A recent report suggests that the Japanese government is intent upon releasing the remaining radioactive water into the Ocean. The proposed “solution” becomes the cause of radioactive contamination of both the Japanese coastline as well as the Pacific Ocean, extending to the coastline of North America.

While the chairman of the Nuclear Radiation Authority recognizes that the water in the tanks is heavily “tainted”, a decision has nonetheless been taken to empty the tanks and dump the water into the Ocean:

The head of Japan’s nuclear watchdog said contaminated water stored at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant should be released into the ocean to ensure safe decommissioning of the reactors.

Shunichi Tanaka, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, made the comment Dec. 12 after visiting the facility to observe progress in dismantling the six reactors. The site was severely damaged in the tsunami generated by the 2011 earthquake.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of tanks (holding water tainted with radioactive substances),” Tanaka told reporters, indicating they pose a danger to decommissioning work. “We have to dispose of the water.”

With regard to expected protests by local fishermen over the discharge, Tanaka said, “We also have to obtain the consent of local residents in carrying out the work, so we can somehow mitigate (the increase in tainted water).”

Tanaka has said previously that to proceed with decommissioning, tainted water stored on the site would need to be released into the sea so long as it had been decontaminated to accepted safety standards.

“While (the idea) may upset people, we must do our utmost to satisfy residents of Fukushima,” Tanaka said, adding that the NRA would provide information to local residents based on continuing studies of radioactive elements in local waters.

The inspection tour was Tanaka’s second since he became NRA chief in September 2012. He last visited in April 2013.

During his visit, Tanaka observed work at a trench on the ocean side of the No. 2 reactor building, where highly contaminated water is being pumped out. He also inspected barriers set up around the storage tanks to prevent leaks of tainted water.

Tanaka praised the completion in November of work to remove all spent nuclear fuel from the No. 4 reactor building, as well as changes to work procedures that he said allows for the completion of the work at the No. 2 reactor trench.  Hiromi Kumai , NRA Head Signals Massive Release of Tainted Water to Help Decommission Fukushima Site Asahi Shimbun December 13, 2014

The contradictory statements of  the NRA chief  avoid addressing the broader implications, by giving the impression that the issue is local and that local fishermen off the Fukushima coast will be consulted.

Additional articles and videos on Fukushima and Nuclear Radiation are available at Global Research’s Dossier on The Environment


TEXT BOX

 Nuclear Radiation: Categorization

At Fukushima, reports confirm that alpha, beta, gamma particles and neutrons have been released:

“While non-ionizing radiation and x-rays are a result of electron transitions in atoms or molecules, there are three forms of ionizing radiation that are a result of activity within the nucleus of an atom.  These forms of nuclear radiation are alpha particles (α-particles), beta particles (β-particles) and gamma rays (γ-rays).

Alpha particles are heavy positively charged particles made up of two protons and two neutrons.  They are essentially a helium nucleus and are thus represented in a nuclear equation by either α or .  See the Alpha Decay page for more information on alpha particles.

Beta particles come in two forms:  and  particles are just electrons that have been ejected from the nucleus.  This is a result of sub-nuclear reactions that result in a neutron decaying to a proton.  The electron is needed to conserve charge and comes from the nucleus.  It is not an orbital electron.  particles are positrons ejected from the nucleus when a proton decays to a neutron.  A positron is an anti-particle that is similar in nearly all respects to an electron, but has a positive charge.  See the Beta Decay page for more information on beta particles.

Gamma rays are photons of high energy electromagnetic radiation (light).  Gamma rays generally have the highest frequency and shortest wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.  There is some overlap in the frequencies of gamma rays and x-rays; however, x-rays are formed from electron transitions while gamma rays are formed from nuclear transitions. See the Gamma Rays  for more” (SOURCE: Canadian Nuclear Association)

A neutron is a particle that is found in the nucleus, or center, of atoms. It has a mass very close to protons, which also reside in the nucleus of atoms. Together, they make up almost all of the mass of individual atoms. Each has a mass of about 1 amu, which is roughly 1.6×10-27kg. Protons have a positive charge and neutrons have no charge, which is why they were more difficult to discover.” (SOURCE: Neutron Radiation)

“Many different radioactive isotopes are used in or are produced by nuclear reactors. The most important of these are described below:

1. Uranium 235 (U-235) is the active component of most nuclear reactor fuel.

2. Plutonium (Pu-239) is a key nuclear material used in modern nuclear weapons and is also present as a by-product in certain reprocessed fuels used in some nuclear reactors. Pu-239 is also produced in uranium reactors as a byproduct of fission of U-235.

3. Cesium (Cs-137 ) is a fission product of U-235. It emits beta and gamma radiation and can cause radiation sickness and death if exposures are high enough. …

4. Iodine 131 (I-131), also a fission product of U-235, emits beta and gamma radiation. After inhalation or ingestion, it is absorbed by and concentrated in the thyroid gland, where its beta radiation damages nearby thyroid tissue  (SOURCE: Amesh A. Adalja, MD, Eric S. Toner, MD, Anita Cicero, JD, Joseph Fitzgerald, MS, MPH, and Thomas V. Inglesby MD, Radiation at Fukushima: Basic Issues and Concepts, March 31, 2011)

 

Fascism and War: Elite Tools to Crush and Kill Dissent

December 17th, 2014 by Julie Lévesque

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1937 with Adolf Hitler.

Dr. Jacques Pauwels is not the kind of historian you often hear about in the mainstream media. He’s obviously not the kind of “expert” they refer to for historical facts. Actually, one crucial propaganda method consists in excluding current events from their historical context.

Listening to Pauwels makes one realize the scope of the lies we’ve been fed about the Second World War, fascism and democracy, and how myths related to previous wars need to be upheld in the mainstream discourse to satisfy never ending war propaganda needs.

In a speech held December 15 in Montreal, he explained that World Wars I and II were all about crushing mass revolutionary movements.

The myth of the Good War

Every time Westerners’ approval for war is required, the myth of the good war surfaces: the Second World War was a good war, a necessity to quench Hitler’s blood thirst. Pauwels tears this myth apart, uncovering the vicious nature of the western elite.

The reasons for the US involvement in World War II lie in the social-economic conditions of the time, not in an outpouring of compassion destined to save humanity from fascism. The US elite was actually in favor of fascism, a very convenient tool to crush the mass revolutionary movement embodied by the Russian Revolution and the USSR.

WWII was in fact a continuity of WWI. “We are always told that WWI started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but it’s not true”, Pauwels says. It is indeed a well established myth carried on by various sources, whether history is written by “thousands of eminent experts, scholars, and leaders” like in Encyclopedia Britannica, or by just about anybody, like in Wikipedia:

The outbreak of war

With Serbia already much aggrandized by the two Balkan Wars (1912–13, 1913), Serbian nationalists turned their attention back to the idea of “liberating” the South Slavs of Austria-Hungary. Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević, head of Serbia’s military intelligence, was also, under the alias “Apis,” head of the secret society Union or Death, pledged to the pursuit of this pan-Serbian ambition. Believing that the Serbs’ cause would be served by the death of the Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austrian emperor Francis Joseph, and learning that the Archduke was about to visit Bosnia on a tour of military inspection, Apis plotted his assassination. (World War I, Encyclopedia Britannica)

The immediate trigger for war was the 28 June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia,[10][11] and international alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked. Within weeks, the major powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world. (World War I, Wikipedia)

Both WWI and WWII had two dimensions: the vertical dimension, namely the rivalry between empires, and the horizontal one, class warfare, Pauwels explains.

These wars were actually the best way for the western elite to cope with the ever growing revolutionary and democratic movements fueled by dire economic conditions and which threatened the established order.

In Nietzsche’s view for example, Pauwels says “war was the solution against revolution, since in a war, there are no discussions, like there is in a democracy. In a war, the minority, the elite, decides and the majority, the proletarians, obey.”

For members of the elite like Malthus, “the system could not be the cause of poverty since they were profiting from it. The cause of poverty was the poor: there were too many of them. Therefore the solution to poverty and threatening revolutionary movements was simply to eliminate poor people and what better solution than war to kill poor people?”

After WWI though, “revolution was no longer a simple idea but rather something concrete: the Soviet Union.” That’s when fascism came to the rescue. “Fascism was the instrument used by the elite to further the objectives of 1914, namely put an end to revolutions and communism.”

Communism and socialism were gaining worldwide momentum after WWI. “The German industrial and financial elite wished to crush the revolutionary movement and destroy the Soviet Union. Adolf Hitler was their instrument.”

According to popular belief Western leaders were defending democracy, engaged in a war against Germany to save humanity from fascism and the US involvement in the war led to the downfall of Hitler’s war machine. Nothing is further from the truth. “Hitler was supported by other European countries and the US because they wanted him to destroy the USSR, the cradle of the revolution.” The exact opposite occurred: it was the USSR that defeated Nazi Germany, losing over 20 million souls in the battle.

The US even recruited the best Nazi scientists, technicians and engineers to work for them after the war. That piece of history called Operation Paperclip (picture below) has yet to find its way in Encyclopedia Britannica.

WWII was the victory of American Imperialism, a term which is rarely used today even if it best describes the reality the world has been living in ever since.

But even more surprising is the surviving myth that we are going to war to save the world from evil dictators or terrorists and that the western world fights for freedom and democracy. Thanks to the “stenographers of power”, the tactic is still reliable and used several decades later.

Visit Jacques Pauwels web site at http://www.jacquespauwels.net/about/. His articles and books are available in several languages. See also Jacques Pauwels’ articles on Global Research.

previous article discussed Russian economist/political analyst Mikhail Delyagin expecting a possible anti-Russian nuclear false flag.

Fort Russ now cites intelligence “about impending terrorist attacks on Ukrainian strategic objects, which will justify an attack on Donbass.”

Foreign nationals and relatives of senior Ukrainian officials were evacuated from border areas, it says.

Armored vehicles with Russian and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) symbols and flags were seen in Donbas territory controlled by Ukraine’s military.

Suggesting a planned provocation. Other intelligence “confirmed the arrival of large numbers of mercenaries, equipment and machinery from NATO countries.”

Ukraine’s general staff press service head, Vladislav Seleznev, announced possible resumed hostilities in so-called ATO (anti-terrorist operations) areas.

As well as “possible terrorist attacks by the militia on the objects of strategic importance.” Because socio/political/humanitarian conditions remain tense, he said. In ATO and bordering areas.

“There is also the risk of a resumption of active hostilities,” Seleznev added. “However, we do not eliminate the risk of terrorist and sabotage acts in these areas, at government and military facilities, as well as mass protests and civil disobedience.”

Earlier, illegitimate oligarch president Petro Poroshenko vowed to return Crimea to Ukraine. “Crimea will be back together with us,” he said.

US-installed NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg discussed Ukraine-supportive Alliance efforts with Kiev’s illegitimate putschist prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. On Monday. In Brussels.

Pledging “NATO stands with you.” Praising “Ukraine’s commitment to its partnership with NATO despite challenging circumstances, and pledged ongoing political and practical support.”

“Your visit just underlines the strong partnership between NATO and Ukraine. We also very much appreciate that we are able to develop our partnership. And especially because the people of Ukraine have chosen the path of democracy and closer cooperation with Europe. And we welcome that. We underline that the decision by the people of Ukraine has to be respected.”

Some cold hard facts. US-installed fascist putschists run Ukraine. With no legitimacy whatever.

Governing lawlessly. Enforcing hardline rule. Committing egregious civil and human rights violations. Waging naked aggression on its own people.

So-called Poroshenko’s silence regime reflects head-fake deception. According to the Voice of Sevastopol (accessed earlier, not now except in Ukrainian):

On Monday, artillery fire was heard. In Donetsk’s western outskirts. Ukrainian drones overflew the area.

During December 14 and 15 evening hours, “Ukrainian law enforcers attacked the airport of Donetsk…” DPR freedom fighters didn’t respond in kind.

Ukrainian forces attacked their Yasnoye positions. Northwest of Dokuchayevsk. In Beryozovoye municipality.

Artillery fire was heard in Lugansk. Fighting reported at Schastye. Self-defense force Prishib village positions were attacked.

Artillery fire was reported coming from Ukrainian army controlled Chernukhino, Gorodische and Zorinsk.

An Odessa explosion was reported. In the vicinity of its refinery. At the same time, Russian humanitarian aid keeps coming. A 10th convey is imminent. With vital supplies an Christmas gifts.

US-supported Kiev fascists threaten regional security. Perhaps world peace. The respected Colonel Cassad site quoted what it called Georgi Diimitrov’s “classic definition of fascism.”

Calling it “an open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic, the most imperialistic elements of the financial capital…”

“Fascism is neither the government beyond classes nor the government of the petty bourgeois or the lumpen-proletariat over the financial capital.”

“Fascism is the government of the financial capital itself. It is an organized massacre of the working class and the revolutionary slice of peasantry and intelligentsia.”

“Fascism in its foreign policy is the most brutal kind of chauvinism, which cultivates zoological hatred against other peoples.”

Kiev terrorizes opponents. Wants them eliminated altogether.

Tactics include “physical extermination, intimidation, hostage-taking, warrantless arrests, abductions, torture, and other elements of terror.”

Kiev putschists represent “the most radical forms of the Ukrainian integral nationalism and fascism…”

Monied interests run things. Billionaires contest with millionaires for power.

Monied interests and “fascist squads (are) its instruments for building the fascist system of government, which is built on a terrorist dictatorship.”

Russophobia is Kiev’s ideological cornerstone. “(O)penly advocat(ing) oppressing and exterminating people based on their ethnicity, culture, and language.”

Colonel Cassad site saying Ukrainian conditions are “a 100% match for Dimitrov’s classical definition. (F)ascism in its most classical and pure form.”

Threatening regional peace, stability and security. Pentagon sources confirmed military buildup along Russia’s borders.

To ensure regional “peace and stability.” NATO’s “collective security commitment.” In light of Russian “interference” in Ukraine.

Moscow accused NATO of significant air activity and intelligence flights over border areas. Unjustifiable provocations. As well as NATO’s nearby land and sea presence.

In Poland and Baltic countries. Black Sea naval exercises. The equivalent of Russia conducting its own in Mexican Gulf waters. Or off America’s east or west coasts.

Imagine Washington’s response. Screaming scoundrel media headlines.

Lt. General Mikhail Mizintsev heads Russia’s Defense Ministry joint military command.

He expressed concerns “over the significant increase of NATO military activity near the Russian borders.”

Including doubled flight activity. To about 3,000 missions this year. Flying in “dangerous proximity” to long-range Russian military aircraft.

At least 55 times in 2013 and 2014. At a distance of less than 100 meters. Lack of “any mutual exchange of information” ruined chances for trust.

“All achievements in the field of trust-building and voluntary transparency that NATO and Russia have formed over the years have ceased,” said Mizintsev.

All Russian missions were “in strict compliance with international rules.”

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained how NATO policy affects Russia.

Saying its military doctrine “says…the security risks for Russia, among other things, are NATO expansion to the East and the movement of military infrastructure of NATO closer to the Russian borders…”

“(N)ot NATO itself, but its militarized movement to the East is considered by the Russian military doctrine as a security risk and threat for Russia.”

Lavrov cited “serious reasons to believe” sanctions and other Western policies aim for regime change in Russia.

Including US-instigated oil wars. Taking advantage of weakening economic conditions. Hammering Russia’s ruble. Making its economy scream.

Wanting Putin supporters turned against him. Perhaps color revolution turbulence underway. A US specialty. Wanting Russia looking like Ukraine.

Risking open confrontation to achieve aims. Anything ahead is possible. Lavrov remains firm saying:

“I can assure you that Russia will not only survive, but will come out stronger out of this.”

“We have been in much worse situations in our history, and every time we were getting out of these fixes much stronger.”

America represents its most serious challenge. Much greater than during Cold War years. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) reasoning seems forgotten.

Lunatics making policy in Washington risk the unthinkable. Cooler heads so far unable to contain them.

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

December 17, 2014 marks one hundred years since the United States invaded Haiti, stayed for 19 years, virtually re-enslaved Haiti with its white supremacist ideology, physical tyranny and at the point of guns carried out Haiti’s gold reserves. One hundred years later, Haiti continues the resistance. (See, 100 Years of Occupation – 100 Years of Resistance : Regional networks and organizations manifest solidarity with Haiti http://bit.ly/1A9cHLa )

Haiti continues its protest against foreign occupation and their puppet government. Calls for real elections are taking down the fake Martelly-Lamothe regime. But, Haiti freedom fighters are also keeping in mind that US-style electoral politics is false hope for the masses everywhere, including the United States.

This post is centered on the unseen powers in Haiti. The Mundele (Category One - the stranger/colonist/white nations/Mundele) that the Martelly-Lamothe regime (Category Zero/Bafyòti) serve as well as the deep politics Haiti citizens must confront regarding the global profit-over-people system.

The Bill Clinton/ NGOs, USAID and the UN are tools of empire (Ndòki) that will nullify the gains of the Haiti protestors after Martelly-Lamothe are gone. If there is to be a lasting change in Haiti, and in the living standards of the masses, Haiti must make plans beyond electoral politics.

To do this means facing not only Category Zero, the Black collaborators (Bafyòti) represented by the surface power of Martelly-Lamothe. But the deeper, economic power of an even bigger group of collaborators, the multibillionare Haiti oligarchs (Bafyòti) as well as the Ndòki- meaning the institutional forces of empire as represented by the NGOs, the (pèpè) educational system, the media, foreign religions, neoliberal economics, unfair trade, destruction of Haiti local economy, the world money changers/Banksters and plutocrats, et al…

See the video clip: The Beautiful Butchers of Haiti: Mrs. Clinton, Susan Rice, Cheryl Mills & The Arabs – http://on.fb.me/1wE3M3e .

In this clip, human rights attorney, Ezili Dantò discuss two slides from “The Quiet Genocide in Haiti” presentation.

Slide one: Is on the Clinton-nites in Haiti – Mundele Hillary Clinton, Bafyòti Susan Rice and Bafyòti Cheryl Mills – http://on.fb.me/1wE3M3e

Slide two: Is about the subcontracted Haitians who are middlemen for empire. They’re Haiti’s mercenary families.

The Haiti oligarchs – .05% own 98% of Haiti wealth through monopolies orchestrated and supported by foreign interests in Haiti http://on.fb.me/1wE3M3e

Haiti oligarchs are the wealthiest billionaires in the Caribbean. Make their living exploiting the poor in Haiti – their land, labor, resources, institutional underdevelopment. These Christian or Jewish “Arabs” (i.e. the families of Acra, Apaid, Bigio, Boulos, Baussan, Brandt, Mevs) are the middlemen for empire and require as much scrutiny and protests as the Laurent-Lamothe regime who serve them and Western imperialism. This – clip http://on.fb.me/1wE3M3e – was taken by cell phone by an audience member at a recent Ezili Dantò, university presentation, on Haiti.

One Hundred Years of Resistance

One hundred years ago on December 17, 1914 Citigroup (Citibank) stole Haiti’s gold reserves.

The US sent the Marines to Haiti to take Haiti’s gold reserves and transport it to the Wall Street vaults of what is now known as Citigroup.

On December 17, 2014 Haitians mark this theft of Haiti monies by the wealthy United States, demanding the US make reparations for that crime as well as the continued crimes of occupation and taking of Haiti assets under Bill Clinton
and his Wall Street cronies.

I post this video of US Senator Elizabeth Warren statements on Citigroup not as an approval of her bid for the US presidency in 2016 or an endorsement of the US politicos’ simplistic villain/hero pathology – their hypocritical Democrat/Republican duopoly, but simply to help explain how powerful Citigroup/Citibank is today…and how it continues its traditional colonial thievery. The US public still do not realize they’re the colonized subjects of
the US corporatocracy and their feudal lord lobbyists. (See video: Remarks by Senator Warren on Citigroup and its bailout provision. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJpTxONxvoo)

Unfettered capitalism doesn’t work, it must constantly steal. The new term for theft and Wall Street parasitic behavior is “bailout.”

The info shared in the Warren video reveal how the City bank boys operate worldwide, including being a good part of the reason why Haiti and the global South are kept contained in poverty.

These thieves and “money changers” are the same ilks digging up Haiti’s mountains to extract what’s left of its gold, copper, uranium, iridium. Strategically positioning to take its oil, coastal lands, deep water ports, offshore islands.

Warren speaks to the current situation with Citigroup. Its massive power, lobby and influence within the US government. It fleeces not Haiti gold now but gets half a trillion dollars in taxpayer bailout as 80% of the American people grind away beneath endless debts to these powerful banksters and the plutocrats with never a Main Street bailout.

Haiti’s central bank is currently OWNED by these banksters. Our border customs, port receipts are privatized into these same hands. The NGOs are spread out over the total Haiti landscape with concentrated power in every Haitian ministry. These are some of the issues Haiti must face after the fall of Martelly-Lamothe. Electoral politics can only do so much. Those who control Haiti’s economy must let go of Haiti as their cash cow. Desalin cannot be assassinated, once again. The Haiti revolution is not fulfilled until the assets of the country shall be equitably divided.

Two thousand years ago, a Hebrew named Jesus spoke of the “money changers” and how they must be thrown out of the temple. Well it’s not only the temple they must be thrown out of, but everywhere if humanity is to start fresh from greed
or placing profit over people.

Identifying the real obstacle, naming the enemy is a first step to winning any war.
(See the History of the “Money Changers” - http://www.iamthewitness.com/books/Andrew.Carrington.Hitchcock/The.History.of.the.Money.Changers.htm)

Haiti is today the recipient of the banksters’ altruism through the NGOs. The Robber Barons of the 20th century are the “philanthropists” of the 21st century.

Bill Clinton landed on Haiti’s back to “built Haiti back better!” Better for whom, the Haiti peasant ask? Why is Haiti the republic of NGOs. Why?

It’s not as if thinking Haitians do not know that Haiti soil is used as the epicenter for the CIA/UN/USAID drug trade that funds America’s eternal wars, the State Department’s weapon trafficking, and the banksters and plutocrats’ wealth these days.

The US Congress funds “port projects” in Haiti for drug transshipment, infrastructure and US/UN military planes are the means for flying in and out these contraband.

As Sibel Edmonds says (at 1:03:40 of this video): The number one place the United States puts its spies, its intelligence gathering officers and informants is through the NGOs.

The NGOs are the best operation base for the CIA. “US entices terror, US funds terror through the NGOs.” (45:06 – ) — Sibel Edmonds (Sibel Edmonds on Gladio B – Part 4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOCYMU3zYH0)

There’s no need to dissolve Haiti parliament. Bill and Hillary Clinton simply put Martelly-Lamothe as their subcontractors in charge through the false hope of electoral politics. They use their federal power and UN proxy military cover to nullify the protesting parliamentary members, while having the corporate media sing the altruism of the NGOs and Dr. Paul Farmer to fool the gullible US-Euro public.

The world can see what’s happening. Saw it in Bosnia. See the role of the NGOs since the fall of the Berlin Wall. But no one sees. The colonial narrative on Haiti comforts the stranger (Mundele) and his collaborators. The quiet genocide in Haiti unfurls in plain site (http://on.fb.me/1ul19BX) just as does for Black America, for Africa.

Haitians scream. Africa screams. The poor of all the constructed races scream in terror and abuse. In Haiti, our insides are burning from Clorox hunger, from years of psych ops warfare, from inhaling expired tear gas and 2002
expired chemical agents thrown at us for years and years and years by the UN/PMSC mercenaries and US militarized Haiti police.

On this one hundred year anniversary of the European colonist’s attempt to re-take Haiti by taking away our gold reserves, Haitians fight on. Die from the fight back, from the material deprivations, the psychic injuries. Or UN cholera or the basic denial of human rights. (See our the Ezili archives at https://www.ezilidanto.com and December 16, 2014 – Clashes in Haiti as anti-government protest turns violent. Video – operation Burkina Faso

http://youtu.be/kcwv6gLTiBI.)

From the womb to the tomb, our lives is about this David vs. Goliath struggle. But there is a life beyond Black oppression that Africans connected to the womb live that’s so rich in soul, our oppressors want to take climb into it too but without letting go of white supremacy! The Ancestors’ legacy: Liberty or death, keeps us sane and free. The Ancestors left us the template for beating white supremacy. It’s the Bwa Kayiman call that began the Haiti revolution centuries ago. It’s “Kanga Mundele, Kanga Bafyòti, Kanga Ndòki, Kango yo”. We must stop the white nations/settlers, the Black collaborators/opportunists and all their evil forces (Ndòki). We must tie up, stop, excise, marginalize all three to win lasting change for ourselves, for humanity.

No. We’ve not forgotten the Citibank boys theft one hundred years ago, carried out at the point of US Marine guns (Ndòki). Neither shall we forget the blood of the last Haiti demonstrator staining Desalin’s land to opposed despots, tyrants, enslavers – US occupation behind UN guns.

When we’re dust, the next Haiti generation will carry forth and avenge the injustices for the Starlights we’ll be and that same sacred Earthlight our generation gives voice to.

Moonlight’s great sun heralds Desalin worldwide. Pierre Sully lives on in every Haiti protestor facing Napoleon’s newest reincarnated colonial army, abroad and at home. Kapwa Lamò does not have the luxury to grieve what’s been lost. Think of the dignity his glory shines upon the awaken heart. Charlemagne Peralte, Haiti reMEMBERs itself in you.

Alaso Ayisyen, sa ki mouri nap vanje yo.

Ezili Dantò, HLLN

Can the murder of 3 million people go unnoticed by the entire world? Yes it can and unfortunately it has before. More than likely you have never even heard about it. By the end of 1941 the German and Ukrainian nazis killed over 1 million Jews. This was the beginning of the Holocaust. We all know this.

By the end of 1941 the German and Ukrainian nazis killed 3 million Slavic and Soviet prisoners by using the method Ukrainian nationalists describe as Holomodor or starvation death.

The Nazi Plan to Kill Slavic Peoples

The Nazi Plan for the East was first tried out on the Slavic and Soviet prisoners. This was their plan to destroy Slavic peoples which included central and southeast Ukraine. Prisoners suffered in the cold and famine conditions so harsh they wrote petitions for the nazis to be merciful and just kill them.

According to Professor Timothy Snyder- In the German POW camps in occupied Soviet Belarus, Soviet Ukraine and Poland, prisoners were not even registered by name. As the German quartermaster general of the German army indicated, prisoners who could not work “were to be starved”.

In Ukraine and Belarus Bandera’s Ukrainian SS nationalists ran the camps and starved millions of Ukrainians, Russians, and Belorussians to death. The world never even blinked. 

It was wrong for the Ukrainian nationalists in the diaspora to develop the myth of the 1932-33 Holomodor famine their own families never suffered to become the centerpiece of Ukraine’s nation-building program under Yushchenko after using it so effectively in 1941 against Ukrainians and starving 3 million prisoners to death.

This makes even the idea that Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev would conceive using this weapon again on the families of the same population criminal. It has been proven clearly that the nationalists were not in the Soviet Union in 1931-32. It has been clearly proven that the Ukrainian nationalists in service to the 3rd Reich used starvation as part of their genocide program in Ukraine and Belarus in 1941.

The population that suffered under both famines were the families in central Ukraine and Donbass today.

Ukraine- Is the 3rd Time the Charm?

In Pervomaisk today conditions are so bad that people are given ¼ of a loaf of bread per day to live on. Many areas are not even getting this. Starvation deaths in different cities now number 20 or 30 weekly. Within 20 days deaths from starvation and exposure/ freezing in Donbass is going to jump exponentially. The most vulnerable which includes the children and chronically ill will be hit the hardest.

Within 40 days without decisive humanitarian action the winter weather will take its toll on people in the hardest hit areas by ultra-nationalist shelling and rockets. Many live in the ruins or root cellars at what used to be their homes. Disease will follow. The nationalists are counting on them dying or relocating.

Will the world stand by while the Ukrainian nationalists use the slow method of genocide they perfected in WW2? Will the world allow the US and Europe continue to try to push Donbass to its knees, calling the victim a criminal?

The war criminal Olexandr Turchynov formerly post coup- acting president stated bluntly in an interview on December 17th that even he does not think the world will sit by and watch the total blockade finish its work. He doesn’t say he is against it. He just states there will be objections to it.

Contrary to the lie Ukrainian nationalists tell about fighting for a free and independent Ukraine today or fighting Nazis and Communists after 1941; both then and now they rely on the fact that you won’t believe human beings will do these things to other people. They don’t think you will believe they are doing these things to people.

Bank runs and benefits cut in August

The blockade announced in mid November is a lie. The reality in Donbas is this blockade has been in place for almost 6 months now. The bank runs happened in the late spring through the mid summer. I was there as thousands of people stood in line literally for days in front of bank ATMs.

During this time a surcharge was added to every deposit in Donbass banks and the funds went to buy the bullets used to kill people here. When Kiev lost ground in the east mid summer they closed the banks altogether. The banks closed without warning all deposits were stolen and used to buy more bullets.

How is it possible to have a bank run in November when banks haven’t been open for 4 months?

The vulnerable, the dying, and the dead

Pensions and benefits to the elderly and disabled were also cut off in mid summer. State and oligarch owned businesses functioning and reaping profits stopped paying salaries. By early July retirees across the countryside were surviving on leftovers from the last harvest, unripened fruit, and help from their neighbors.

In August I started hearing about the starvation among the most vulnerable people which were the shut-ins. People that were bed ridden or because of disabilities could no longer leave their apartments died of starvation and thirst. Where were their neighbors?

In early summer the Ukrainian army started targeting apartment buildings and homes. Throughout the summer this never let up. At first Kiev denied it but later it didn’t matter anymore in the news. Kiev suspended the human rights of people in Southeast early in the spring.

The shelling of civilian homes had the effect Kiev was hoping for. It created a flood of terrified refugees that simply ran and almost overwhelmed the capacity to take care of them in Belarus and Russia.

I have watched people come to this decision. They don’t talk about it out of fear. They quietly slip away. The neighbors of the shut-ins thought someone else was staying and would look after them. In a lot of cases no one could. No one talked to anyone else, they ran.

Ukrainian nationalists popped up everywhere. In the cities groups like Pravy Sektor did random shootings. Paranoia ran wild. It didn’t help that until recently most people never understood what was really happening. How do you comprehend the country where your family has always lived in and you are a part of deciding you are less than human? How do you come to grips with your country wanting to kill you?

The shock that your own neighbor might want you dead for some incomprehensible reason caused this. That fear became justifiable when people turned their neighbors in to the punishers to be tortured and killed. I know one too many stories about a town drunk spinning tales for another bottle. Ukraine is a place where being a 2nd cousin to the militia back in June was enough for a death sentence for your entire family including your children even if you never spoke with them.

Every town has people from across the political spectrum just like yours does. People confused patriots with nationalists and vice versa.

The social net that Poroshenko cynically cut off in November has not existed since late spring. Kiev destroyed it with shells not democracy.

Medications

Medications for chronic life threatening illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and basic antibiotics became in short supply in late spring. Early on medication was transported by clearly marked vehicles with red cross insignia or ambulances. These became the favored targets of mercenaries and para military forces like Donbass battalion. In every major city hospitals have been prime targets the entire time.

Until then most medications were distributed through warehouses in Kiev. As early as June publications such as the Telegraph reported on the humanitarian efforts which was caused by Kiev’s humanitarian blockade.

The reality since summer is people dying because the medications they needed were kept out of their reach. No matter how how much effort is put into the humanitarian effort the population of over 7 million people are in a war zone that is constantly bombarded with rockets and shells.

Creating Famine Conditions

Beginning in the late spring the Ukrainian army set landmines across the grain fields needed to support the area for human and livestock consumption. The landmines set in grain fields aren’t in contested areas. They are not marked and the locals weren’t told to stay away by the Ukrainian army.

These are the fields where farmers make their living and produce the grain needed for bread. One of my neighbors hit a mine trying to harvest his wheat. It destroyed his tractor and he was lucky to be thrown clear. He woke to see his tractor burning. In early summer another neighbor on his tractor was used for sniper practice.

The Ukrainian army burnt grain and corn fields that were under their control. This continued throughout most of the summer as noted across many articles.

The scorched earth policy was geared at creating the current situation which will soon be mass starvation and the sicknesses associated with it. Tens of thousands of acres could not be harvested.

To make the point a few short weeks ago Kiev’s appointed Governor in the occupied Lugansk region stated bluntly that Kiev’s humanitarian blockade of Lugansk and Donetsk was geared to reproduce the effects of the Soviet Union’s 1932-33 famine in which millions across central and southeast Ukraine perished from starvation and sickness.

Camps

When the refugee problem started getting international attention in mid-summer president Poroshenko made a big deal about how Donbass refugees would be welcomed by the Ukrainians and how much money was set aside for them. It is Kiev of course and the money was stolen of like the donations for the families of Kiev’s heavenly hundred.

The refugees were set up in summer camps without utilities and for the most part no humanitarian aid. What humanitarian aid isn’t stolen goes to the soldiers. The men that ran from the war found themselves conscripted and sent back. The families sent to the summer camps still sit there in December with no heat. Many will perish from exposure.

Refugees that thought they were fortunate enough to make it to Kiev or other nationalist cities are denied jobs and benefits because they are from Donbass. They ran from the referendum, thought they were good Ukrainians, and yet are still Moskal. Kiev’s new laws take the children from their mothers so they can be raised in orphanages and become good Ukrainian nationalists.

Genocide by Conscription

When Kiev’s ATO started they were sure that the nationalists from Maidan and what became the core punisher groups would quickly pacify Donbass based on just enthusiasm. It took a while for them to realize the skills they learned at Maidan and the Odessa Trade Union Building wasn’t combat.

The nazi’s only succeeded in developing a taste for murder. In both well published cases as well as the rampant murder in smaller cities the victims were not combatants. They could not and did not fight back. At Maidan, the Berkut were unarmed and ordered to stand and take the punishment. The footage after the initial and controversial beginning says it all.

After this Kiev’s deployment policy to the ATO regions changed dramatically. Conscripts were questioned on their nationalist leanings and deployed according to their answers. People from cities like Odessa which suffered under mass murder in the spring and stood against nationalism were threatened, jailed, and sent into the ATO.

People that expressed Ukrainian nationalist leanings were sent in behind them or to areas where the there was no conflict.

This tactic was developed in the 1930′s by Stepan Bandera to make both his enemies and people that may eventually rise against Ukrainian nationalism fight and kill each other. This is happening today to the refugee conscripts from Donbass. It is the case today when the conscript is from the wrong city or gives the wrong answer when they enlist or get drafted.

The tactic is the same one used in WW2. The Ukrainian nationalists stood behind conscripts during WW2 and killed them when they refused to fight. The same then as is the case today, families were threatened so conscripts won’t refuse to fight.

The battle is truly brother to brother, cousin to cousin; with few ways out for the conscripts. The nationalist groups themselves get medals and positions for combat they never participate in.Kiev, Ukraine rewards are for the torture, murder, and sodomy they committed against civilians and conscripts.

What the World won’t Allow

The filtration or concentration camps at this point sit idle and more are under construction. The reason is Kiev forces don’t control enough of Donbass to make using them worthwhile. While the world sits by and cheers and jeers Kiev’s inept and thwarted attempts at mass genocide; having large scale bloody executions of normal people in anything called “a camp” broadcast worldwide would quickly dampen the enthusiasm in Europe and the US.

History has taught the nationalists what the world hasn’t learned. They know the world won’t stand by and allow the bloody or mass execution of millions without eventually demanding a price from someone. While the civilized nations will allow it to happen, the cost will be like the Nuremberg trials when the outrage that could have stopped it is belatedly expressed and acceptable.

Enough of the Double Talk Already

If the government in Kiev had any notion of reintegrating Donbass they would not have bombed, shelled, and murdered entire villages. They would not have allowed mass torture of civilians, or the rape and murder of women and children. These are not things a legitimate government allows for, never mind bestows medals on monsters that do these things to its own people.

If they were not nationalists, they would have stopped the ultras from the murders and calls for destroying every life in Donbass. Instead they rewarded it. Commanders guilty of mass murder and torture sit in the Ukrainian Senate and meet with the US Congress and the executive branch. Mass starvation in Donbass is a tactic to make people run, die slowly, or submit to the government that murders them.

The argument that the separatist rebels are getting what they deserve is intellectually retarded. Donbass wasn’t trying to separate, Kiev forced it through atrocity. The Ukrainian government made it impossible for Donbass and other areas to remain under their control.

The argument that there are no nazis in Kiev is a leap into the bizzarre. The people in Kiev’s government were educated in ultra-nationalist/nazi universities. Many had David Duke as a professor of history.

Ukrainian nazi ideology is so rigid it was easy to predict the brutality of the cleansing battalions before Maidan was over and the Coup leaders actually took government. It is so rigid it was easy to predict the turn it would take in Donbass which entails a regional cleansing of people. It was easy to predict how the conscription would be used to get rid of “others” that even remotely may be Moskal also.

It was easy to predict winter starvation would be used as a tactical weapon in June when I first wrote it would happen. Read Bandera’s ideological material. They follow it zealously and religiously. Ukrainian nazi’s are nothing if not predictable. They are also intractable liars. That’s part of the ideology too.

The nonstop shelling during the peace has done its work. Too many people’s homes are destroyed that were never involved in any fighting. Too many people cannot afford to purchase bread even it were available to them. The cold and snow of winter has set in.

The humanitarian effort needed is now monumental to stop mass death across the region. It will never come in fast enough or be enough. This time, which is the third time in less than 100 years the people of Donbass have suffered through forced starvation through callousness and as weapon of war- please consider helping.

Israel will Lose all American Jews but the Crazies

December 17th, 2014 by Philip Weiss

Image: Netanyahu at Hanukkah candle-lighting

This morning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted pictures of his candle-lighting ceremony with an Israeli army unit on the first night of Hanukkah. His language at the event was bellicose and aimed at the murderous Palestinian Authority and in “defense of the most moral army in the world.” I was struck in particular by the dogs photo (as was Max Blumenthal, who passed it along). Hanukkah is the festival of lights, a time of joy. The prime minister of Israel tweets a photo of himself that looks like a jackbooted tyrant from the last century.

Israel will lose all American Jews but the crazies. That is the clear message of that photo, indeed of several recent events.

Israel didn’t look like this when I was growing up. Not to American Jews anyway. The synagogue gave me a Zionist archaeology book about Masada for my bar mitzvah (maybe that’s what turned me into a Jewish zealot?) while it gave my brother a record of Abba Eban’s speech after the ’67 War to the UN. I didn’t understand a word about what Eban was talking about, but we were proud of Israel. Eban spoke English better than the English, it was said, and Israel was a brand that almost all Jews wanted to be associated with. My father bought the novels of Agnon, David Grossman, and Amos Oz. Yes, Begin was a terrorist but he had a dignity to him. Shamir was from Bialystok and lost his family in the Holocaust. The peace martyr Rabin was an out-and-out hero in American Jewish life and his wife was a class act (no one talked about his orders to break children’s bones in the First Intifada). Even Sharon had his charms. Ehud Olmert got published in The New York Review of Books. Tzipi Livni could talk at J Street and AIPAC. Michael Oren went to Princeton. He wrote impressive books that got fancy reviews.

I’m talking about imagery and emotion, how things look, how they feel, and how they are passed on to the Jewish multitudes. Israel’s latest exports are drab or clueless and savage. The Finance Minister Naftali Bennett comes to Washington and dismisses world opinion as “a little thing called the rest of the world” and insults Martin Indyk, the courtliest man in the world, to the point that he talks about kicking Bennett’s ass, and Haim Saban, the leading Democratic fundraiser, is obviously angered by him. Caroline Glick shows up in the pages of the New Yorker as slightly unhinged, an impression she seeks to extend in a diatribe accusing European diplomats to their faces of anti-semitism for talking about the occupation.

The distinguished Oren has been replaced in the public mind by the two Rons, Prosor and Dermer. Ambassador Dermer has no tone. His father was the Miami beach mayor, and he’s a rightwinger who got his job because he had the trust and friendship of Netanyahu; and he’s only further alienated the Obama administration. Prosor gives a speech accusing Europe of anti-semitism for talking about the occupation. You failed us in the 1940s, you are failing us again, he says. How long can Israeli propagandists abuse the Holocaust without turning Americans’ stomachs? Not much longer, I don’t think. Ari Shavit was supposed to be the second coming of the literary greats. But there’s something off, he’s left a rightwing aftertaste.

The sense of Israel being represented by second-raters is advanced when you read the sassy tweets from Avi Mayer, or the Islamophobic propaganda of Matti Friedman. And meanwhile the kinds of Jewish minds we used to be so proud of in the American Jewish community, worldly thoughtful men like Shlomo Sand and Avraham Burg and Marcel Ophuls, are all publicly washing their hands of the Jewish state.

It’s not just imagery. Right now Israel has two giant substantive problems, the occupation and Gaza. It has done nothing to ameliorate the world’s bad opinion of these matters, it has just doubled down angrily against any criticism. The government looks to be moving further and further to the right and just who does Netanyahu think he is appealing to with this Hanukkah tweet?

The Obama administration can’t come out against Netanyahu, but the American Jewish community can. There has to be a crisis inside the offices of the Israel lobby. The 92d Street Y can’t sell this new Israel in that big hall with Jefferson and Maimonides and Moses incised in gilt at the top of the wall. The JCC’s don’t want pictures of muzzled attack dogs and commandos in balaclavas on Hanukkah; that’s a real nightmare, it can’t come here. Haim Saban can’t stand for the limitless contempt for European business, Bennett doesn’t understand how many people he alienated.

Israel will keep its lobby, but increasingly it will be the crazies, the hardcases, the fools. I predict an open uprising in the American Jewish community in the next few weeks before the election.

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net

The world is more nervous about the drift toward nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia than at any time since 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis. When French President Francois Hollande urgently side-tracked his return-flight from a diplomatic mission recently, in order to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, at a private room that had been scoured ahead of time to eliminate any possible bugging devices, there was speculation as to what had caused Hollande’s sudden detour, and there were even rumors of a possible cause being an American “false-flag” event in the works to be blamed on Russia as a pretext for going to war against Russia, just as Russia had been falsely blamed for the Ukrainian military’s downing of Malaysia’s airliner MH17 onJuly 17th. All that was publicly released about the two-hour meeting were platitudes, hardly anything that would have justified side-tracking Hollande’s flight so as to surprise intelligence agencies and be able to meet the Russian leader in an untapped room.

The level of fear is certainly rising on both sides. On the U.S. side, the CBS News Poll in summer 2007 found 6% of Americans calling Russia an “enemy”; seven years later, that same figure was 22%. However, what is not rumor nor fear, but proven fact, by Obama’s own actions as will be documented here, is that he wants a war against Russia and is trying hard to get Europe (including Hollande) onboard with this goal in order to win it; and that America’s Republican Party want this at least as much as he does, though the American public do not.

The Democratic Party (in the House and Senate) are staying as quiet as possible about a ‘Democratic’ President pushing them toward World War III, which is a goal that Republicans have always been far more eager for than Democrats. (Republicans are famous for “Speak softly but carry a big stick,” and for swinging it as hard as they can, especially against Russians.) In fact, one of the reasons why Obama won the Presidency is that he criticized his 2012 Republican opponent Mitt Romney for saying of Russia, “This is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

That dissent by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Obama appealed to the U.S. public at the time, but not to America’s aristocracy, who are a mix of people some of whom hate Russians and others of whom don’t care about Russians, but none of whom are passionate opponents of nuclear war (a diverse group that they lump contemptuously with “peaceniks”).

For example, one major mouthpiece of Democratic Party aristocrats has always been The New Republic, and on 17 September 2014 they headlined “Obama Can’t Admit That Romney Was Right: Russia Is Our ‘Top Geopolitical Threat’.” Another one is the National Journal, the aristocracy’s version of its companion propaganda-operation (owned by the same aristocrat as) The Atlantic. On 7 May 2014 (just five days after Obama’s people hadmassacred pro-Russians in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa and thereby started the extermination-campaign against them, or “civil war” that’s still raging), the National Journal headlined “Mitt Romney Was Right: Russia Is Our Biggest Geopolitical Foe.

Conservative ‘Democrats’ are just Republicans spelled with a “D”; but, when it’s an aristocrat, they know how to spell, and are just trying to deceive the ones who don’t. This is why ‘liberal’ magazines are prized possessions of the aristocracy — to deceive the ones who don’t know the difference and who think that it’s fine in a democracy for politics to be merely a choice between two conservative parties, one of which is called by a meaningless adjective ‘liberal.’

The people who fund both political Parties are virtually united in that fascist belief: they don’t even mind backing racist facists or “nazis”; many of them are precisely that themselves.

Obama is with them (and with Wall Street, and with Big Ag, and Big Oil, and Big Military), against the public. But he’s smart enough a politician to pretend otherwise, and his aristocratic funders respect this. (There were no hard feelings for his exploiting Romney’s politically stupid public assertion; they knew that it was an Obama pose: he’s a ‘Democrat,’ after all.)

For America’s elite, the Cold War never ended, because it was never really about communism versus capitalism — not for them. They are fascists, and they want global dominance. Capitalism, shmapitalism; all they really care about is dominating the world, destroying enemies, which means anyone who refuses to be controlled by them.

Aristocracy hasn’t changed since, well, long before the Bible began. Domination is the big thing, for the aristocracy. Russia threatens the vaunted global control by America’s aristocracy, their dominance over all other aristocracies, because Russia is the second-most-powerful military nation. Russia is the only nation that can say no to U.S. aristocrats and (maybe) get away with it. That’s what this conflict is all about. It’s why they ratcheted up the “enemy” figure for Russia from 6% to 22% in just the past seven years.

As President Obama’s speech at West Point, on 28 May 2014, propagandized for (i.e., rationalized) this conquer-Russia view on the part of America’s aristocracy: “Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.” So, Obama made clear to the graduating West Point cadets that the BRIC countries are the enemy (Russia and its leading supporters of international independence, the enemies against a mono-polar or “hegemonic” world), from the standpoint of America’s aristocracy, whom the U.S. military now serves to the exclusion of any public interest. Ours want to crush the aristocrats in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Though it’s alright for those other countries to produce more, that’s true only if American aristocrats control the local ones there, like in any other international empire — not  if the local nation’s aristocrats control the country. That’s not the way aristocrats in banana republics are supposed to behave. They’re not supposed to be independent countries. Not really.

The President who had invaded Libya and Syria, and re-invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and who perpetrated a violent overthrow and installed racist fascists (nazis) in control of Ukraine, is lecturing the world against “Russia’s aggression,” for its having accepted back into Russia’s traditional fold little Crimea, which craved to return to Russia.

He’s got some gall to do that, but in order to be a cadet at West Point (and thus be there hearing his speech) one needed to be either a sucker or else a cravenous tool of the aristocracy, as the military has traditionally served; so, Obama played them for being both, and they evidently liked it.

Obama knows how to speak down to an audience and fool them into thinking he respects them. But, to aristocrats, his respect is no mere act at all; he not only respects them, he lies for them, and he protects them, because he self-identifies with them, and not with the public (who just provide his voters, the people that are forced to choose between him versus Romney, or else to go for a mere token protest-vote or non-vote, such as American ‘democracy’ has degenerated into being).

Obama was enemy-izing (turning into enemies) nations that don’t want to serve as America’s banana republics. Similarly, for example, the British Empire didn’t wish for local aristocrats in India to be in control, but only for those client aristocrats to be of use. That’s what it means to be a client nation (or, in the American case, a banana republic).

Obama, in his speech, added, placing a clear hyper-nationalistic coloration on his promotion of America’s empire: “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” (Hitler thought the same thing of Germany.) He promised to keep it that way: “That has been true for the century passed [sp.: past [[somebody at the White House didn’t know the difference between ‘past’ and ‘passed’]] and it will be true for the century to come.” (At least he wasn’t predicting there a Thousand-Year Reich.)

So: that’s historical background to Obama’s plan for using Ukraine as a stepping-stone toward conquering Russia — one of the few favors he hasn’t yet achieved for his sponsors, after having protected them from what he contemptuously calls (in private) the “pitchforks”; a.k.a., the public. (And he really did call us “pitchforks” there, in private. To him, the public were like the KKK; and the mega-bank CEOs whom he was confiding to were like the people KKKers lynched. That’s the type of ‘Black’ he actually is. Blacks should loathe him, but most people, black and white, can’t see beyond his skin-color and liberal platitudes. They’ve got their categories wrong, and the aristocracy-controlled media like that just fine. Stereotypes help aristocrats control political outcomes. It’s button-pushing for them.)

On December 11th, the U.S. Senate voted 100% (unanimously) to donate U.S. weapons to the Ukrainian Government in its war against Russia. On December 4th, 98% of the U.S. House had done likewise. Both bills also accuse Russia of having invaded Ukraine, and this accusation of an aggressive Russia provides a pretext for the U.S. to attack Russia, now that the Ukrainian Government has flipped from neutral (according to some estimations) or pro-Russian (according to others) to being clearly and publicly anti-Russian, by means of their U.S.-engineered coup that occurred in February of this year, when masked gunmen, who were actually hired mercenaries, dressed themselves as if they were instead Ukrainian security forces, and fired into a crowd of “Maidan” anti-corruption protesters and police, and the U.S. Government immediately blamed Ukraine’s then-President for doing that, and Ukraine’s parliament or “Rada,” who weren’t in on the scheme and didn’t know about it, promptly elected “Yats” Yatsenyuk, who had secretly been appointed 18 days prior to lead the country, by Victoria Nuland of the U.S. State Department. “Yats” immediately installed a far-right Government, filled with people who had already committed themselves to a Ukrainian war against Russia. They then promptly set about terminating Russia’s 42-year Crimean lease for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is key to Russia’s security. Crimeans, who had always overwhelmingly considered themselves to be Russians and not Ukrainians, demonstrated against that Ukrainian move against them and against Russia, and Russian troops came into Crimea, to local applause, but to the condemnation from Washington and its allies.

Russia’s taking back Crimea was not aggression at all, though America’s noise-media say it was; it was instead protection of Crimeans against the CIA’s American invasion of Ukraine. When the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev donated Crimea from Russia to Ukraine in 1954, it was much to the consternation of Crimeans at the time, and ever since. Yet, one of the explicit alleged ‘justifications’ for war against Russia, that are listed in the Republican House’s bill (“Whereas the Russian Federation’s forcible occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea. …”) is a blatant lie, because Crimeans overwhelmingly wanted Russia’s protection against the new, Obama-imposed, Ukrainian regime, which Obama’s State Department and CIA had just installed when overthrowing the President for whom nearly 80% of Crimeans had voted. In fact, a poll that was issued by Gallup in June 2014 showed then that 71.3% of Crimeans viewed as “Mostly positive” the role of Russia there, and 4.0% viewed it as “Mostly negative”; by contrast, only 2.8% viewed the role of the United States there as “Mostly positive,” and a whopping 76.2% viewed it as “Mostly negative.” This wasn’t much changed from a year-earlier Gallup poll. The Republican Party (and thus the Republican-controlled House) is willing to lie blatantly (about this and other crucial matters) in order to justify invading Russia, as it did in invading Iraq in 2003 (and even in 1991); and Barack Obama is willing to lie blatantly too for the same reasons — such as about the source of the sarin gas attack in Libya, etc. — but there were enough Democrats in the U.S. Senate to block Obama’s getting such blatant lies into the Senate’s bill on Ukraine, so it’s much milder, even though it does give the Ukrainian Government $450 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money. However, when Republicans take over the Senate in January, their bill will match the House’s in its warmongering lies, and Obama will get all he wants for his planned war against Russia (not just the $450 million that the Democratic-controlled Senate bill has provided).

So, now, both the Senate and the House, plus the U.S. President (via his State Department, CIA, FBI, and entire Administration), are actually at war, a hot war not a cold war, against Russia, through their proxy, their made-in-Washingtonracist-fascist or nazi, Government of Ukraine, which currently is doing the fighting and the killing and the dying, but which couldn’t do it but for that Western backing.

This should be analogized to Fidel Castro’s takeover of Cuba and his and Soviet leader Khrushchev’s attempt to base near the U.S., Soviet nuclear missiles aimed against America. At that time, in 1962, U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy said that we’d go to war against the USSR if necessary to prevent this; and today Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has implied, but not yet said, that his country will likewise go to war against the United States if necessary to stop its attempt to do against Russia what Khrushchev had been stopped from doing against the U.S. in 1962.

However, the U.S. is now already farther along the warpath than the USSR had been in 1962. Already, many thousands of deaths have resulted from Ukraine’s war against Russia and against its supporters inside what had previously been parts of Ukraine. In 1962, Cuba was at peace, except for a few bands of U.S.-backed Cubans, who were trying to overthrow Fidel Castro. Ukraine is today’s Cuba, but even more of a danger. And, this time, the United States Government is trying to impose nuclear supremacy; the Soviet Union and its communism no longer even exist, and Russia is up against the mortal threat that is being wrongfully perpetrated by the U.S. against them.

Clearly, U.S. President Obama was serious when he tossed out Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych; and clearly he has the full backing of the U.S. Congress (though with some hesitation on the part of Democrats) to go to war against Russia and finish the job that he has begun.

If it weren’t for the ongoing donations — officially loans, but ‘loans’ to an already-bankrupt Government are donations — by both U.S. taxpayers and EU taxpayers, that are channeled mainly through the U.S. and EU and IMF, Ukraine would simply stop its hot war against Russia and against its own ethnic Russians; and the Ukrainian Government that we installed in February would just collapse. The IMF and EU seem likely now to have ended their donations, but U.S. taxpayers certainly haven’t ended ours. We’ve barely even started, though, ever since 1991, U.S. taxpayers have already invested “over five billion dollars” in this scheme to bring ‘democracy’ to Ukraine, even before Obama’s successful February coup provided the capstone to that entire Orwellian effort: America’s aristocracy and its hired hands call this ‘democracy.’

The investigative journalist Wayne Madsen has published his analysis of the American aristocrats, ranging from the Kochs on the right to the Soroses on the left, who are lobbying for this campaign to get taxpayers to fund the American aristocracy’s military take-over of other nations’ aristocracies and resources. Madsen sees as being the few politicians in Washington who are resisting that, both Ron Paul (and definitely not his son Rand Paul) libertarians, and Dennis Kucinich progressives.

Madsen doesn’t note, however, that both of those men are now retired; so, they can afford to speak the truth without losing their jobs, since they’ve already lost them. Among the U.S. aristocracy that finances politicians into federal offices, there is no visible support whatsoever for such dissidents challenging the aristocracy: when one of them somehow manages to get into the political system, they’re removed from it, in one way or another, before they can do any damage to the U.S. aristocracy.

This is how it came to be that 98% of the House and 100% of the Senate voted for war against Russia, even though at least 67% of the American public who expressed an opinion about that in a Pew poll were opposed (and this 67% figure might have been far higher if the question had been more directly asked, such as: “Should the U.S. go to war against Russia in order to enable Ukraine to get back Crimea and conquer the rebelling regions in Ukraine’s own former southeast?”).

This America is supposed to be a ‘democracy,’ in which 99% of Congress and the President want taxpayers to be required to donate to the Ukrainian military, but less than one-third of the American public want to make those donations. Is it instead actually taxation without representation — a modern fascist form of the very oligarchy that America’s Founders went to war against and defeated in order to create America? How much more of a demonstration needs to be made that today’s America is a dictatorship, not a representative democracy or republic? Only media pretend it’s not a dictatorship, because they’re part of it, owned by the same people who heisted our Government and who trade favors with one-another against us. Clearly, this is an us-versus-them situation in which oligarchs are the aggressors, who destroyed American democracy, and from which a democracy now must again be seized, because it has been stolen from us and will not be retaken without a fight.

Madsen also has an interesting explanation as to why Israel is so passionately supportive of the racist-fascist, or nazi, Ukrainian political parties that the Obama Administration has placed in control of Ukraine.

Regardless of such speculations and evidence, however, there is nothing speculative about the American Government’s drive to nuclear war.

It’s part and parcel of the same deal that just passed in the U.S. Congress and was signed by the President, that in the event of any future U.S. financial crash, FDIC-insured bank accounts won’t be paid until and unless the mega-banks that hold derivatives contracts get full payment on all of those gambling policies they had bought — i.e, never. Granny’s savings account will get emptied out to pay Wall Street’s gambling-debts. (Not that the U.S. ‘news’ media ever made such things clear to the public. But how do you think we had managed to obtain a Congress and a President like these are? The public had to be fooled by the aristocrats’ propaganda, and the ‘news’ media had to help aristocrats fool them about it, because the ‘news’ media receive their funding from aristocrats, both as their owners and as their advertisers. The public are just pawns on their chessboard. This is what became of democracy: it’s merely the residual verbal shell — ‘democracy’ — an Orwellian opposite of the original meaning.)

As Obama told the mega-bank chiefs on 27 March 2009 in private, “I’m protecting you … My Administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

He’s going to teach those granny-bank-account “pitchforks,” and such, a thing or two about “the one indispensable nation.” Namely: those people in it, the public, are dispensable, even if not quite as much so as are the people his forces are slaughtering (ethnically cleansing) in southeast Ukraine and other such places, where the ‘real riffraff’ live. The people in those areas are punished and killed for the crime of living where “the right people” want them simply to be gone (preferably dead, but otherwise refugees in Russia, until the ICBMs kill them).

“Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.” But it’s long since gone, and is now aiming to clear out land elsewhere, especially southeast Ukraine, to place nuclear missiles there.

America’s ‘entrepreneurs’ have work to do, across the globe; and all the charred remains of the nuclear ‘victory’ will be passed on to their proud heirs.

It’s the new American way, the way of ‘entrepreneurs’ — a.k.a. “the aristocracy” — but actually only the ‘entrepreneurs’ who have been able to grab the most, who are billionaires. Only insiders can apply for admission. Outsiders can apply for a job, nothing more.

Obama had it all figured out. Everything else from him was just an act. He is the personification of cynicism, and oflies.

If you don’t think so, then how do you explain this, and this, and this, and this? Are those just innocent tragedies; and, if not, then who was the most indispensable person toward causing them to happen — causing them to be imposed by the Ukrainian Government that Obama’s coup imposed upon Ukraine? Obama’s decisions were essential in order to empower the people who are perpetrating this extermination-campaign, which is the bait intended to draw Vladimir Putin into a Ukrainian conflict so as to provide a pretext for an American nuclear attack against Russia — as if Russia doesn’t have even more of a legitimate national-security interest in its Ukrainian neighbor than the U.S. had in its Cuban neighbor in 1962, when we rightly threatened nuclear war over that type of provocation.

If the next U.S. President protects Obama from criminal prosecution for Ukraine like Obama protected Bush from criminal prosecution for Iraq, then the U.S. is hopelessly a lawless nation, no democracy at all.

Unfortunately, the nuclear bombs in the war that Obama and the other stooges of America’s aristocracy are building up to, will not be targeted against themselves and their psychopathic (often billionaire) sponsors. Those people will instead have their bomb-shelters, and their corporate jets.

Oligarchs are foreign to a democracy. Consequently, their servants in government, especially America’s current and former President, are foreign to the U.S. Constitution, and to their Oath of Office, and thus to this country, irrespective of their technical citizenship as ‘American.’ They should both be brought up on charges of treason against the United States of America; for, if they are not, then truly democracy is ended in this country, with no hope of restoration, and America’s Presidents are not subject to American Law, but instead stand above it, beyond it, and immune from it. That makes them dictators, but for whom, and against whom? The record speaks for itself.

Reader-comments to this commentary on the Global Research facebook page, pro-and-con, are invited regarding this conclusion, especially because a public forum to discuss this severe matter is needed now — a turning-point in American, and (sad to say), perhaps also (if a nuclear attack occurs) a turning-point in global history. That’s the case regardless of which side of this debate one is on. The fundamental character of this country is at stake now. The public should have a say in it (if that’s still even possible, given that 99% of the media are in the hands of oligarchs — the very same aristocrats who benefit from the status-quo).

Nuclear war is a serious matter, and the American Government must immediately halt their plan to provoke it. The time to force a halt to that is now, or else it will be never. Every step we get closer to nuclear war makes reversing the direction, which is toward war, even more difficult, and less likely, and makes nuclear war even likelier than it was before.

If the public is to take charge (assuming that doing so is still possible), it will happen sooner rather than later.

The public discussion will begin now, if it begins at all.

We’re close to the precipice. Will the public remain quiet?

The Act of Killing: The 1965 Indonesian Massacre

December 17th, 2014 by Prof Peter Dale Scott

The last century has been, unfortunately, a century of holocausts. The documentary “The Act of Killing” revives the memory — for both Indonesians and Americans — of one of the greatest: the Indonesian mass slaughter of 1965, whose memory, for a half century, has been perhaps the most effectively suppressed. It is, in fact, virtually impossible to consider the film, or the massacre itself, without also considering, as did my poem Coming to Jakarta, the social functions of first suppressing the most excruciating victim memories, and then painfully beginning to recover them.

T.S. Eliot wrote, “human kind/ Cannot bear very much reality,”2 and I myself have called civilization “a great conspiracy/ of organized denial.”3 There is in truth so much violence and injustice in the world that to stay sane most of us have to ignore or suppress a good deal of it. But if we want to address the problems of violence and injustice, we have to seek out and deal with those crucial events of global significance, above all those in which we are involved – both directly and indirectly – and from which we can learn. If we are willing to face the truth.

“The Act of Killing” is about one of those crucial events, a half century ago and its reverberations down to the present. The film’s director, Josh Oppenheimer, has depicted not just the horror of the 1965 pogrom, but the weird craziness of today’s violent contemporary world. Chris Hedges has captured this craziness in his film review:

Oppenheimer, in the film’s strangest but most psychologically astute device, persuades the killers to re-enact some of the mass murders they carried out. They don costumes—they fancy themselves to be the stars of their own life movies—and what comes out in the costumed scenes of torture and killing is the vast disconnect between the image they have of themselves, much of it inspired by Hollywood gangster films, and the tawdry, savage and appalling crimes they committed.… The killers stage a scene at the end of the film in which actors playing their murdered victims hang a medal around the neck of [Anwar] Congo [the film’s protagonist] —who is dressed in a long, black robe and standing in front of a waterfall—and thank him for saving the country and “killing me and sending me to heaven.” This bizarre fantasy’s background music, specified by Congo, is the theme from the movie “Born Free.”4

There is a natural tendency for western viewers to blame this appetite for violence carried to bizarre extremes on the Indonesians. Indonesians themselves have done this. I quote in my poetic trilogy from the great Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who had earlier been imprisoned by the Dutch from 1947-49. He was not killed in the great slaughter of 1965, however, he was imprisoned for fourteen years in its aftermath. One of the conditions of his imprisonment was that he write a confession of his culpability, and here is part of what he wrote:

        I myself am Javanese

I was educated to Javanese ideals
        guided by the Mahabharata
     at whose climax they bathe

in the blood of their own brothers
        while other peoples who
     have managed to slip their shackles

are the nations that rule the world
        Even in the belly of Dutch power
     Java still glorified

its narrow world culture
        they bathed in the blood of their brothers
     right up through 1966

And because Java was no longer
        in the belly of European power
     the slaughter reached an unlimited scale

without colonization my country
        would have ceaselessly spilled
     the blood of its sons and daughters

cultural integrity     a bogey
        for the countries stuffed with capital
     by which free peoples are enslaved

the unemployed become murderers
        with uniforms and badges of rank

     vast forests are torn apart 

It is necessary that I emphasize
        the problem of power
     that tends to turn people into bandits

above all if they have held it for decades
        and without ever knowing Verlichting
     Aufklaerung    remain in thrall
 

everything that has happened
        will live on for centuries
     Once more — my apologies. 
5

Pramoedya’s analysis has great merit: the Javanese culture in its dances and shadow plays indeed draws on a cultural tradition honoring bloodshed, warriors, and their instruments. He faults this tradition for never having experienced an 18th Century Enlightenment (Verlichting in Dutch, Aufklaerung in German) to temper its traditions with reason.

But it can be said that if Indonesia represented traditional culture without modern Enlightenment, Washington represented ruthless modern Enlightenment without culture. Washington assisted and paid for the violence because it acted in a spirit of amoral Staatsraison, or untrammeled calculation for state purposes, without any cultural restraints. The record is now clear that American officials welcomed the violence, and provided needed assistance to help carry it out and legitimate it. Historian Bradley Simpson, in his important book Economists with Guns, supplies much conclusive evidence for what he calls this “disgraceful performance.”6

The film itself has been faulted for not exploring Washington’s role in the killings. I am glad it did not: it is urgent that North Americans know what happened on the ground in Indonesia in 1965, and the truth, if it is to reach this audience, can only be revealed a little at a time. But for Americans in particular, it is important to come to terms with the American role in coup and killings.

In an excellent on-line essay by Errol Morris, one of the film’s producers and himself an astute film-maker, Professor Simpson is quoted as saying:

It was an extraordinarily rapid genocide and the Johnson administration knew about the events as they unfolded, and they made a very deliberate decision to intervene on the side of the génocidaires. The documentary record is clear-cut. And Kai Bird in his biography of the Bundy brothers has McGeorge Bundy saying, basically, “I have a clear conscience. We knew what we were doing. We did what we were doing because we thought it was the right thing to do, and I sleep easy at night knowing that we played the role that we did.”7

The Bundys were not alone. In June 1966, after the slaughter was over, the New York Times commented on it with the headline, “A Gleam of Light in Asia.” TheTimes’ leading political journalist, James Reston, compared the discouraging news from Vietnam with “the more hopeful developments in Asia,” chiefly what he called “the savage transformation of Indonesia from a pro-Chinese policy under Sukarno to a defiantly anti-Communist policy under General Suharto.” He added that

Washington is being careful not to claim any credit for this change in the sixth most populous and one of the richest nations in the world, but this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it. There was a great deal more contact between the anti-Communist forces in that country and at least one very high official in Washington before and during the Indonesian massacre than is generally realized.8

What were the Bundys and Reston celebrating? As Jonathan Weiner points out, it was a process whereby

paramilitary groups and assorted thugs deputized by the country’s soon-to-be dictator, General Suharto, executed at least half a million people [probably in fact more than a million]. Starving prisoners were dumped into rivers alongside corpses; women were molested and raped; victims were shot, beheaded with swords, and dismembered while still alive; thousands more, spared death, were forced [like Pramoedya] into concentration camps and prisons.9

I ask you to consider seriously, however, the fact that the irrationality and madness behind what was depicted in the film “The Act of Killing” were not confined to Indonesia.

To understand Reston’s remarks, we have to remember that this was the era not only of the Cold War but also of the Sino-Soviet split. All three of the world’s greatest powers feared each other; and, perhaps rightly, all three regarded Indonesia, whose Communist Party (the PKI) was the largest outside the Communist bloc, as a country whose allegiance would be an important factor in determining the Cold War’s outcome.

Indonesia, with its oil and other raw materials, was also a factor in America’s decision to launch a major war in Vietnam. And when the Indonesian Army moved to destroy the PKI, the US presence in Vietnam provided a shield against possible Chinese retaliation.10 American planning for Indonesia and Vietnam was synchronous and interrelated. As Bradley Simpson told Errol Morris,

[The U.S. Government’s] covert operations accelerated in the summer of 1964 in ways that connect with the expansion of the war in Vietnam. Johnson’s decision to sign off on expanded covert operations in Indonesia takes place right around the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. [In Washington] They were looking at all this as a piece.11

American policies for both countries were reviewed at an important conference of March 1965 in Baguio, the Philippines.

In the 1970s Washington used the techniques that overthrew Sukarno to assist a similar army coup against President Allende. In this coup a CIA-backed psychological warfare group explicitly used the ominous words Djakarta se acerca — Jakarta is coming – to terrorize, destabilize, and polarize Chile, which once had been South America’s most stable and progressive democracy. Washington’s support for the Indonesian regime was made clear again in 1975, when “Suharto managed to gain Washington’s backing” for his invasion of East Timor, resulting in a “decades-long blood-bath.”12

How Academic Modernization Theory Paved the Way for the Killings

I have written elsewhere about the role of the U.S. in encouraging the massacre and supplying facilitating equipment; like Simpson himself, I shall not repeat those arguments here. The point of this essay is not to look at CIA or Pentagon involvement in the Indonesian murders, but the role of American and Canadian universities, especially in preparing a neoliberal economic development model that would provide a rationale for the ensuing Suharto regime.13

Simpson has I think one accurate explanation of why Washington’s “best and the brightest” accepted what he calls the “deeply flawed authoritarian development model” (p. 3) urged on Indonesia by United States advisers and social scientists, and eagerly adopted by the military in Indonesia and elsewhere. This derived from a fundamental deficiency in U.S. social scientific thought:

By the early 1960s modernization theory dominated social science thinking about political and economic development in both the academic and political realms. Modernization theorists drew in expected ways on deeply embedded discourses that emphasized both the uniqueness and the appropriateness of America’s developmental model for the rest of the world and the cultural superiority of the West in general and the Anglo-Saxon tradition in particular.14

He adds, correctly in my view, that

Although modernization theory as a social science paradigm may have originated in the United States in the postwar period, it was part of a larger, widely dispersed fabric of thinking about the process of becoming modern, the origins of which stretch back to the Enlightenment.15

Ironically America, the Soviet Union, and China all contemplated aid programs designed to promote modernization in Indonesia. The chief difference was that Moscow and Beijing emphasized industrialization whereas the US regarded Indonesia above all as a source of needed raw materials, chiefly oil. Thus,

U.S. officials and modernization theorists performed impressive acts of intellectual gymnastics trying to criticize the legacy of European colonialism while advocating development plans that continued colonial trade structures.16

The modernization promoted by all three countries (above all Maoist China, which was about to be convulsed in 1966 by its Cultural Revolution) emphasized material development in ways that were destructive of traditional culture. But it was the U.S. whose influence was dominant in the wake of the coup.

The U.S. was destructive of traditional culture in its energetic distribution of popular American films. In 1953 alone, as part of the United States Information Agency (USIA’s) cultural diplomacy program, “U.S. embassy officials estimated that 10 million Indonesians saw American films screened from the back of USIA trucks traveling around the country.”17 One of the results of this cultural “modernization” is seen in the film “The Act of Killing,” when the film’s protagonist Anwar Congo celebrates the macho values of Hollywood, which taught him how to strangle his victims with a piece of piano wire.18

There is, as I said earlier, an instructive irony here. Pramoedya lamented the failure of Enlightenment rationalism (perhaps represented in his mind by the Marxist PKI) to rethink a traditional Javanese culture, with its emphasis on the ksatriya or warrior. For his part, Simpson sees the same Enlightenment as a source for an amoral social science paradigm that contributed to the massacre. (By the 20th Century the Enlightenment, like the church centuries earlier, had evolved from being a corrective of the status quo into a reinforcement of it.) So I believe one can say that a corrupted Indonesian culture without Enlightenment was being reinforced in the massacre by a debased Enlightenment lacking traditional culture.

During the Cold War, the paradigm of mindless and amoral modernization by violence was not uniquely American, but global. But of course American military and CIA plans and assistance were far more important than their counterparts from the Soviet Union and China to what happened in Indonesia in 1965. (Soviet aid was largely military; a projected steel mill was never constructed. Aid from China might have ensued after Subandrio’s return from Beijing in July 1965 with sixty Chinese economic advisers; but whatever projects they might have initiated were swiftly brought to an end after Gestapu in September.)19

For a decade and a half the same had been true of North American social scientists, who guided the thinking of their Indonesian counterparts. So much so, that when

Western-trained Indonesian technocrats and economists [who] readily accepted Soviet technical assistance, adopted a Soviet-style five-year development plan in 1957 [the plan was] written with the help of Canadian development economist Ben Higgins.20

At the time Prof. Higgins had moved from McGill University (where he was one of my professors and my father’s friend) to the Center for International Studies (CENIS) at MIT, a CIA-funded think tank. From this vantage point he became what Cornell Professor Benedict Anderson called “the doyen of the Indonesian economists.”21

We have to understand that, just as North American modernization specialists were a shaping force In Indonesia, so also Indonesia was a principal concern, or target, of North American development economists. It is not too much to say that the two – Indonesia and post-war development economics – helped shape each other.

I remember myself from my days at McGill in the 1950s accepting the claim that development economics was a science; but in retrospect I think we should see it also as a tool in the Cold War. And in many ways North American universities – not just those like McGill or MIT or Berkeley with close links to the CIA – were contributing to a mindset that was also part of the Cold War.

I was in the Canadian Foreign Service from 1957 to 1961. I recall that it was standard for my decent and honorable superiors to refer to most of the world as “backward” or “underdeveloped.” Those terms are more likely to be avoided now, but I would suggest that substitute terms, like “developing countries,” the “third world,” or even the “Global South,” perpetuate the same underlying thinking. For us North Americans to have called ourselves the “first world” – as if we were some kind of avant garde for the rest of the world to follow — seems to me now to be blatantly, even comically ethnocentric, or would be if its consequences were not sometimes tragic.

I say this after having lived parts of three years in Thailand, an experience that changed me profoundly. I came away thinking that though we have developed in many ways that can contribute to the well-being of Thailand, the reverse is also true: Thailand has a well-developed Buddhist culture from which the West can and perhaps must learn.22 And now, unfortunately, the conflict between culture and Enlightenment that convulsed Indonesia is afflicting Thailand as well in the wake of the 2014 military coup, though so far less violently.

Let us look anecdotally at how development economics flourished and was applied in Indonesia. The important Indonesian economist Subroto was selected to study in North America by Sumitro Djojohadikusoemo, a Dean at the University of Indonesia who was one of the CIA’s top assets in Jakarta. Subroto obtained his M.A. at McGill in 1956, then studied at MIT with Ben Higgins, then, with a Ford foundation Fellowship, studied at Harvard.23 It is relevant that at this time

Ford Foundation consultant Richard Bissell (who would later became special assistant to CIA Director Allen Dulles) and Chairman John McCloy conducted a series of financial transactions which enabled Ford Foundation money to be funneled into CIA organized fronts and vice versa.24

Returning to Indonesia, Subroto became one of five economists – all trained by the Ford Foundation – at the Indonesian Army Staff and Command School in Bandung , which served before the 1965 coup as a training-ground for the takeover of political power by the army. Civilians were also trained at SESKOAD, and U.S. officials have confirmed that the civilians, who themselves were in a training program funded by the Ford Foundation, became involved in what the (then) U.S. military attaché called “contingency planning” to prevent a PKI takeover.25

SESKOAD in this period had become a focal point of attention from the Pentagon, the CIA, RAND, as well as the Ford Foundation. And an important part of this program was “lectures in economics and business management” given by the five economists.26 After the coup, Suharto used the same five (by then known in the new government as the “Berkeley Mafia,” because four of them had trained at UC Berkeley under Prof. Guy Pauker) to implement IMF-style economic reforms; in this they were “working alongside Ford-sponsored American economists – this time from Harvard’s Development Advisory Service.”27

These efforts were of little benefit to Indonesians:

A Ford report in 1978 declared that despite “massive foreign investment” based on “concessions,” very few new jobs had been created. In addition, the armed forces “remain massively involved in illegal tax collection, smuggling and commercial activities.”28

One of the chief smugglers was Suharto himself, assisted by his civilian commercial partner Bob Hasan. Even before the coup,

Hasan worked with Suharto to develop a wide range of side businesses, controlled by the military, that provided much of the funding for the Division as well as extra income for its officers. After Suharto took the presidency in 1966, he initiated a massive expansion of Indonesian commercial logging, especially in the islands outside of Java. In the 1970s Hasan served as the required Indonesian “partner” for foreign companies wanting to harvest timber in Indonesia, working most notably with the United States corporation Georgia Pacific.29

Georgia-Pacific is a corporation notorious for clear-cutting, whose practices in Indonesia and elsewhere have been condemned by environmentalists:

Indonesia has over 60 percent of Asia’s tropical forests and harbors the largest number of endangered bird and mammal species in the world. … U.S.-based Georgia Pacific has dammed rivers, destroyed ancestral grave sites of the Dayak peoples, and stripped their forest habitats. Threats and intimidation have forced many of these people to protest with very little success. “In a haunting climate of fear, the Bentian are now trying to survive the forced seizure and clear-cutting of their forested land, the demolition of their gardens, and burning and bull-dozing of community grave sites.”30

What right have we to give the name “development” to these fruits of university and Ford Foundation efforts? Now that it is clear that the clear-cutting of forests has contributed to global warming, and that the fantasy of reshaping the world to the model of North American petroleum-based culture, is it not imperative that universities do more than they have been doing to change our notions of what constitutes development with an eye to protecting the environment and ultimately animal and human life?

University professors did not just offer a skewed notion of economic development; some of them also advocated military takeovers in order to achieve it. Before the 1955 Indonesian election, most US Indonesianists, above all those who were faculty at Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley, had naively assumed that U.S. advice and aid would enable Indonesia to evolve into a more and more western-oriented nation willing to engage in western-style economic development.31 The same naïve hope may have initially inspired those professors at the University of Chicago training the economists who implemented Pinochet’s privatization programs after the overthrow of Allende in 1973.32 (The program linking South Vietnam to Michigan State was however plagued with controversies from its outset, with one visiting economist subsequently suggesting that “a military coup may be the only means” of saving Vietnam.)33

By 1958, however, the PKI (the Indonesian Communist Party) had emerged as the largest mass movement in the country, and everyone expected that they might come to power in the next election. At this point Pauker and other American social scientists in the U.S. Air Force and CIA-subsidized “think-tanks” began to argue in favor of military-led economic development, and to urge this new notion, successfully, on their military contacts in Indonesia and Brazil.

Specifically, they

began pressuring their contacts in the Indonesian military publicly, often through U.S. scholarly journals and presses, to seize power and liquidate the PKI opposition.40 The most prominent example is Guy Pauker, who in 1958 both taught at the University of California at Berkeley and served as a consultant at the RAND Corporation. In the latter capacity he maintained frequent contact with what he himself called “a very small group” of [Indonesian university] intellectuals and their friends in the army.34

A key event was an August 1959 conference organized by RAND on “The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries,” which produced a book with the same title published by Princeton. In this book,

Pauker urged his contacts in the Indonesian military to assume “full responsibility” for their nation’s leadership, “fulfill a mission,” and hence “to strike, sweep their house clean.” Although Pauker may not have intended anything like the scale of bloodbath which eventually ensued, there is no escaping the fact that “mission” and “sweep clean” were buzz-words for counterinsurgency and massacre, and as such were used frequently before and during the coup. The first murder order, by military officers to Muslim students in early October, was the word sikat, meaning “sweep,” “clean out,” “wipe out,” or “massacre.”35

Eleven months before the coup, Pauker signaled even more blatantly in a RAND publication to his Indonesian army friends, expressing disappointment for their not “carrying out
 a control function,” and for lacking “the ruthlessness
that made it possible for the Nazis to suppress the Communist Party, a few weeks after the elections in which the Communist Party
won five million votes.”36

Such rhetoric in retrospect seems deplorable, even if not actionable under international law. The important point, however, is that I do not see that universities in general have yet emerged from old habits of Cold War thinking. In saying this I am not thinking of particular academics like the late Fouad Ajami, an advocate and defender of the Iraq War, or John Yoo, author of the so-called “Torture memos.” I am thinking primarily of institutions like Harvard’s Harvard Institute for International Development, which continue to devise ways of projecting American economic influence abroad. (A signal example of this was a privatization program in Russia under Yeltsin, which soon became corrupted and led to Justice Department charges, which Harvard and one of its professors settled for $26 million.)37

I raise this issue tentatively, as something for readers to ponder. Universities are part of an invaluable mixture of tradition and scientific inquiry. But because the role of the university is so very important, so also any problems or defects in university culture are also very important.

Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His latest book is The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy, published by Rowman & Littlefield. He is also the author of Drugs Oil and WarThe Road to 9/11The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War, and American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here.

Related articles

• Benedict Anderson, Impunity and Reenactment: Reflections on the 1965 Massacre in Indonesia and its Legacy

• Geoffrey Gunn, Suharto Beyond the Grave: Indonesia and the World Appraise the Legacy

Notes

1 An earlier version of this essay was a talk delivered March 27, 2014, as the F.R. Scott Memorial Lecture at Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Quebec.

2 T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton,” in T.S. Eliot, Collected Poems, 1909-1962 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991), 176.

3 Peter Dale Scott, Minding the Darknessa poem for the year 2000 (New York: New Directions, 2000), 137.

4 Chris Hedges, “The Act of Killing.”

5 Peter Dale Scott, Minding the Darkness: a poem for the year 2000 (New York: New Directions, 2000), 212-14; excerpting from Pramoedya Ananta Toer, “My Apologies, in the Name of Experience,” Indonesia, Volume 61 (April 1996), 1-14. I think that the translator merits credit.

6 Bradley R. Simpson, Economists with guns: authoritarian development and U.S.-Indonesian relations, 1960-1968 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008), 189. He quotes Howard Federspiel, the US State Department’s intelligence staffer for Indonesia, as saying, “No one cared, as long as they were Communists, that they were being butchered” (Ibid., citing Federspiel quote in Kathy Kadane, “Ex-Agents Say CIA Compiled Death Lists for Indonesians,” States News Service, May 19, 1990.

7 Bradley Simpson, in Errol Morris, “The Forgotten Mass Killings That Should Have Stopped the Vietnam War.”

8 New York Times, June 19, 1966.

9 Jonah Weiner, “The Weird Genius of ‘The Act of Killing’,” New Yorker Culture Desk, July 16, 2013.

10 Cf. General Bruce Palmer, Jr., The 25-Year War: America’s military role in Vietnam (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1984), 173: “The fact that the United States had committed its power in Vietnam was undoubtedly a major factor in the success of the countercoup.”

11 Errol Morris, “The Murders of Gonzago.”

12 Jussi Hanhimäki, The flawed architect: Henry Kissinger and American foreign policy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 401.

13 For the coup, see e.g. Peter Dale Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967,” Pacific Affairs (Vancouver, B.C.) 58.2 (Summer 1985); Benedict R. O’G. Anderson, editor, Violence and the state in Suharto’s Indonesia (Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program Publications, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 2001); Peter Dale Scott, “Atrocity and its Discontents: U.S. Double-Mindedness About Massacre,” in Adam Jones, ed., Genocide, War Crimes and the West: Ending the Culture of Impunity (London: Zed Press, 2004). Simpson is quite dismissive of myself and other authors who have studied U.S. involvement in the coup itself (as opposed to its consequences), with this passing comment: “American historians in particular have spilled much ink on the question of Washington’s involvement in these events” (Simpson, Economists with Guns, 173; cf. 311n2).

14 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 6.

15 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 8.

16 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 26.

17 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 29.

18 Benedict Anderson, Impunity and Reenactment: Reflections on the 1965 Massacre in Indonesia and its Legacy, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 15, No. 4, April 15, 2013

19 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 149.

20 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 28.

21 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 85.

22 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: wealth, empire, and the future of America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), xii-xiv.

23 David Webster, Fire and the Full Moon: Canada and Indonesia in a decolonizing world (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009), 91. Subroto attended McGill on a fellowship from the CIA-funded World University Service (John Simons, the Executive Director of the WUS, was “a full-fledged CIA agent” (Karen M. Paget, “From Cooperation to Covert Action: The United States Government and Students, 1940-1952,” in Helen Laville and Hugh Wilford, eds. The US Government, Citizen Groups and the Cold War: the state-private network [London and New York: Routledge, 2006], 77). The WUS cannot be simply dismissed as no more than a CIA asset: In the 1970s, for example, it helped relocate in other countries numbers of Chilean academics who had fled from the Pinochet regime.

24 Naomi Verbong Roland, “Funding Transatlantic Exchange between the Arts and Politics“, Transatlanitc Perspectives, 12 September 2012 (updated 4 October 2012). Cf. Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (London: Granta Books, 1999), 134-43; Jason Epstein, “The CIA and the Intellectuals“, New York Review of Books, 20 April 1967.

25 Peter Dale Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967”; citing former U.S. Military Attaché Willis G. Ethel.

26 Damien Kingsbury, Power Politics and the Indonesian Military (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003), 199.

27 Inderjeet Parmar, Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012). A parallel “McGill Mafia” of religious scholars worked to channel traditional Muslim energy into economic development. McGill graduate Abdul Mukti Ali, who became Suharto’s Minister of Religion, “called on local religious leaders (ulamas) to transform themselves into ‘heavenly technocrats’…. Technocrats trained at the planning bureau and American universities underpinned one part of the New Order’s structure of power; religious scholars trained at McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies underpinned another” (Webster, Fire and the Full Moon, 160).

28 Parmar, Foundations of the American Century.

29 Wikipedia, “Bob Hasan.”

30 Dhirendra K. Vajpeyi, ed., Deforestation, environment, and sustainable development: a comparative analysis (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001), 10; citing Schwartzman and Kingston, 1997, 27-28.

31 In contrast most of the Indonesianists at Cornell, such as George Kahin, Ben Anderson, and Ruth McVey, adopted a more critical view. As a result these academics became in time increasingly alienated from both Jakarta and Washington.

32 See Juan Gabriel Valdés, Pinochet’s Economists : the Chicago School of Economics in Chile (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

33 Frank C. Child, “Vietnam—The Eleventh Hour,” The New Republic (December 4, 1961), 14–16. After ensuing protests from Diem the MSU program was shut down in 1962.

34 Peter Dale Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967.”

35 Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967;” citing Guy J. Pauker, “The Role of the Military in Indonesia,” in John H. Johnson, ed., The role of the military in underdeveloped countries (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1962), 221-23.

36 Guy J. Pauker, Communist Prospects in Indonesia (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, November 1964, RM-5753-PR).

37 Janine Wedel, Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe 1989-1998 (New York : Palgrave, 2001) ..

A Suitable Donor: Harvesting Kidneys in the Philippines

December 17th, 2014 by Rey Ventura

1. Along the coast of Manila Bay in the Philippines, behind the grand Manila Hotel, there is a slum district called Baseco. Hidden by towering container yards and cargo ships, this shantytown had been virtually unknown until a few years ago when a television report broadcast nationwide put a red pin on the map of Manila.

Describing it as “a place where the people of damned souls (mga halang ang kaluluwa) sell their kidneys to survive,” Baseco brought to public attention the scandal of what is essentially a human organ farm.

This vote-rich village—where local and national politicians occasionally paid visits (and often made fantastic promises)—has been quietly providing fresh and healthy organs for moneyed foreign and local patients. Recipients have come from the Middle East, North America, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and most recently, Israel.

Originally the name of a shipping company where most of the men had worked as part-time stevedores, repairmen, and laborers, Baseco is a community of some twenty thousand people living literally on the margins of the sea and society.

2. There is no sign that leads to Baseco. Why should there be? Why would the Manila government waste its resources in drawing attention to a spot better hidden than seen? Nor is there any jeepney or bus on an officially sanctioned route to this place. Indeed, there is no single means of transport that says: “to Baseco” or “Baseco Express.” Baseco, it seems, simply does not exist. For the twenty years I have lived in Manila, I had not heard of Baseco. When I searched for it in December 2000, it took me two days to find it. It was only a thirty-minute drive from my parents’ residence!

3. He is walking on the narrow breakwater under the midday sun. Fire had just ravaged and reduced to coal and ashes a large part of the slums. Periodic fire often broke out here and many believe they had been deliberate and aimed at clearing the area of slum dwellers. Fire, occasionally, has been an absolute tool that the authorities employ when reason and force became inutile. The ruins are still smoldering and many residents are trying to salvage any piece of junk they could use to assemble a mosaic-like dwelling.

Leo is walking on the breakwater half-naked, wearing only a pair of loose basketball short pants. He has wrapped his head with a white towel. At a distance, he looks like just another skinny and undernourished young man living in the slums. But on closer look, after my guide had pointed it out, he bears the trademark of an operado—the foot-long, centipede-like scar on his left side. He had “donated” a healthy kidney! He wears his cut like a badge of honor or a brand of manhood. He was never ashamed of it nor even tried to make it less conspicuous. In fact, he is proud of it. He looks tough and confident.

4. He had “donated” his kidney on 8 June 1996. He was eighteen years old. His recipient was a Japanese man in his mid-twenties. His name, as far as he could remember, was Kusunori. And in gratitude for Leo’s heart of gold, Kusunori had handed him directly peso bills amounting to a hundred thousand pesos. The transplant operation had taken place at the world-class and elite St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City.

Leo’s education went as far as elementary school. He had no knowledge at all about organ transplant, organ donation, and much less about organ harvest. But of course, now that he has only one kidney, he knows a little better. Experience, after all, is the best teacher.

5. In addition, experience has taught him that if ever God would bless him with one more kidney, he would never ever part with it again. Not for any religious or ethical reasons, but for the simple and naked fact that to function as a normal human being, we need two kidneys. Now, he is only thirty-three but he already looks forty-three years old! He is toothless and his left eye is always red. He is skinny and every morning at dawn, especially when it is cold, he feels a stabbing pain in his abdomen. He is supposed to be in the prime of his life, but now he tires easily, just like an old castrated water buffalo. He used to work in the docks. Now, he can only do light errands for a sari-sari store.

6. Leo has lived in Baseco for over twenty years. His family came here when he was eleven. He is the eldest of three children. His father, from the province of Pampanga in central Luzon, was a junk collector and an itinerant vegetable and fruit vendor; his mother, Teresita, from Imelda Marcos’s city of Tacloban in the Visayas, was a laundrywoman. During their early years as squatters, Leo helped his mother do the laundry. His father eventually left them to live with another family. His two brothers sold newspapers and cigarettes in the streets of Divisoria in Manila.

Baseco was still an emerging squatter colony when Leo’s family decided to try their fate in this hidden edge of the city. He and his mother had struggled hard to erect the posts of a hut. Most of the materials were fashioned from bric-a-brac dregs from the city. They roamed the city and sifted garbage to collect materials. His two brothers were left in the streets of Tondo, selling tabloids and Marlboro. His father had the habit of appearing and disappearing like an urban guerilla. At a young age, Leo was already acting as the father to his younger brothers and partner to his mother. He never had a chance to give his affection to a girl; he was forced to take family responsibility at a young age.

7. One day in 1982, a tall, slim Japanese man in his forties known only as Fushimi came to Baseco with his teenage Filipino girlfriend. Fushimi’s young lover, who is from the Visayas like Teresita, had several relatives in Baseco. She introduced her cousins to Fushimi, who then asked her cousins if they would like to volunteer for blood tests. He promised three hundred pesos a day plus transportation expense for each volunteer. Several men instantly agreed. Three hundred pesos, after all, is not a bad idea for generally unemployed men. The blood tests remained blood tests. They did not lead to any further medical procedures.

In 1984, Fushimi came to Baseco again. This time, he was known as Dr. Fushimi, the Japanese doctor. He came with his girlfriend again. This time, a new person joined them. His nickname was Bakla, meaning “homosexual.” He was from the neighboring slum of Balut, Tondo. Fushimi gave Bakla the job of recruiting potential “kidney donors.” Bakla started to recruit in Baseco. Immediately, he found ten able-bodied men. One of them was James.

According to James who is forty-nine years old, Bakla brought the ten of them (now known locally as the Magic Ten) to a hospital in Pasay City. There, they met Fushimi and his girlfriend. The Magic Ten were subjected to thorough medical examinations: blood, urine, stool tests, ECG, CAT, and others. For a week, James and his fellow “hopefuls” were taken to different hospitals in Metro Manila for more tests. Each day, each of them was given a hundred pesos, exclusive of meals and transport expenses. Fushimi had paid all the medical fees.

“Nobody among us knew,” James said, “what the real objects of the tests were until the final day. Those who had passed all the tests satisfactorily were offered one hundred fifty thousand pesos (about US$7,000) for a kidney!”

James, who said he passed all the tests “with flying colors,” backed out at the last moment. A former soldier with a good build at 1.78 meters tall, he could have been an ideal specimen.

“I wanted the one hundred fifty thousand pesos,” he said, “but my mother refused it. ‘We are poor,’ my mother told me, ‘but I don’t want you to exchange for money what God has given you.’” James’s Christian belief prevented him from selling his kidney. At forty-nine, James, a carpenter, is still strong and fit and youthful. In fact, he looks a lot younger than many of the operados.


Kidney donors display their scars

8. James introduced me to Dalmacio, now fifty years old, another member of The Magic Ten. Dalmacio, who once lived in Baseco, is now living in another slum district in Quezon City. James and Dalmacio used to be neighbors until a furious typhoon devastated their dwellings along the breakwater. Dalmacio now lives with his children, stepchildren, and grandchildren.

Dalmacio has had several mild strokes, now stammers, and speaks in a childlike manner. Unlike James, Dalmacio did not pass the medical examinations. Though he wanted very much to sell his kidney, he was not considered a suitable donor. Despite this failure as a “volunteer donor,” he had discovered a scheme to make money. Like Bakla, be became a recruiter, eventually becoming Fushimi’s right-hand man in Baseco. From 1989 to 1999, Dalmacio confessed, he had recruited more than a hundred kidney donors for Fushimi. Most of the recipients of these kidneys, Dalmacio told me, were Japanese, Arabians, Koreans, and rich Filipino-Chinese.

Dalmacio’s first recruits were members of his immediate family. He started with his sons-in-law. Next, his stepsons (children of his wife by her two earlier husbands). Later he expanded to his relatives, neighbors, and friends. It was a double-edged nepotism—immediate family members were the first to benefit and the first to suffer.

The first recipient, he remembered well, was a Japanese patient named Mr. Kubota. The organ came from his son-in-law. The operation in 1989 was conducted at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Hospital. With his first client, Dalmacio had received twelve thousand pesos from Fushimi. “It was the biggest amount I had ever received in a single day,” he said.

And how did he spend his first “commission”?

“I love good clothes,” he said. “When I got the money, immediately I bought some clothes.”

Wearing his new clothes, Dalmacio and his family went to UST Hospital to monitor the progress of the transplantation. The operation was a success.

A day after Mr. Kubota received the new kidney; he raised his hands and said: “I’m already strong, I’m already strong.”

“We were all very happy,” Dalmacio said. “Mr. Kubota was like a member of our family.” They cheered him, told him stories, and cracked jokes with him.

But on the third day after the operation, Mr. Kubota suddenly became weak. And toward evening, he became unconscious. The following day, Mr. Kubota no longer opened his eyes, nor was he able to speak—he died. On the fifth day, Dalmacio and his family kept vigil at Mr. Kubota’s wake. They waited for his family to arrive from Japan.

The recipient of Dalmacio’s first recruit did not survive but his enthusiasm to find more “donors” did not die. For a decade, he scoured every small corner of Baseco and delivered more than a hundred “kidney donors” to Fushimi.

“Almost every month,” he said, “I have a donor. And after every transplant operation, we would have a good time. Fushimi loves young girls. I like brandy and Scotch. Now, I’m broke. No more good times.”

Penniless and partly paralyzed by strokes, he cannot work, nor does he have any savings. He depends on the mercy of his children and stepchildren.

“He is cursed,” James told me. “God had punished him for selling the organs of his fellow men.”

In 2007, he was laid to his final resting place in Bataan where he had moved with his own daughter.

9. Leo’s shanty stands by the sea. It is within spitting distance from the hut of Dalmacio who is better known as “Agent Baboy.” Baboy is always dressed like a politician, his hair heavily pomaded, and a Marlboro perpetually between his thumb and index finger. Every day he could be seen walking between the tiny gaps of houses in search of a potential “donor.” Moreover, there was never a dire shortage of more-than-willing and able-bodied young men wanting “to help” moneyed patients near death or with end-stage renal problems.

Baboy is a sweet talker. He wears his money on his sleeve; his look is money; he smells of money—and he displays it with outrageous flagrancy. He is always wearing brand-new shirts, double gold chains around his neck, and leather shoes. In the quicksand of squalor, shit, and filthy poverty in Baseco, Baboy stands out like a mushroom on cow dung.

Baboy promised Leo an amount if he agreed to “donate” his kidney. It is a figure that to Leo sounded like winning the lottery jackpot. Leo did not think twice. After all, he was not a newbie in selling parts of his body. He “donates” (i.e., sells) his blood.

During this time, Leo’s mother, Teresita, had been going in and out of the Philippine General Hospital—the biggest public hospital in Manila, if not in the country. Her face was bloated and her entire body was swollen. Her neighbors believed she was a victim of witchcraft and there was no use taking her to a hospital. But Leo loved his mother dearly. With the little cash he was earning as a dockworker, he was giving almost everything to her. But each visit to the hospital was a financial struggle. Although the basic consultation fee was free, Teresita could not afford the foreign-brand medicine prescribed. Each treatment was at most consultative in nature. She could not afford a continuous or comprehensive treatment. On her last confinement, her doctor advised her to be admitted lest it would be too late. Leo made the biggest decision in his life—to “donate” his kidney for his mother’s sake.

Nobody in the family knew about his decision. Not his brothers, not his mother. He did not want to aggravate his mother’s suffering. Only he and Baboy knew about the plan.

10. Leo had already “donated” blood several times before, more than a gallon in all. At a blood bank in Santa Cruz, Manila, he and his fellow stevedores had periodically made trips for “blood donation.” Every time he and his friends were out of cash, they would take a trip to a blood bank somewhere in the city. They were like occasional prostitutes; they would do this once every three months just for kicks. So when Baboy asked what his blood type was, he confidently replied: “O.” An “honorarium” of five hundred pesos (five hundred yen) would be given to him for every five hundred cubic centimeters (cc) of blood extracted from him. He had “donated” his blood ten times. After each session, he would always feel weak and dizzy. He would always eat lots of vegetable tops and balut (salted duck’s embryo) to expedite his recovery.

He was not a newbie to making a “blood donation” but he was shocked to know that a kidney too could be “donated.”

11. He wore his treasured pair of imitation Levi’s that he had custom-tailored in an underground shop in Quiapo, Manila. He topped it with an equally brand-new white T-shirt. He had his hair cut like a skinhead. He looked like a skinny high school kid just starting military training.

Instead of going to school, Baboy took him to St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City, Metro Manila to begin his medical philanthropy and missionary work. Agent Baboy delivered an O “donor” to the exclusive hospital. Leo was shocked at the grandness of the facility.

“Napakalaki!” he exclaimed, amazed at the size. “Ang ganda. Aircon lahat ng kuwarto.” He was all praises for the hospital’s air-conditioned rooms and impressive looks.

“Are you sure you really want to ‘donate’ your kidney?” Baboy confirmed one more time as they entered the hospital compound. “There’s no turning back, okay?”

“Lalaki akong kausap mo,” Leo invoked his masculinity as a guarantee of trust. “You are talking to a man.”

They entered through the main entrance of the hospital. Leo was a little a nervous. He had never been in a hospital of the rich and powerful before. Baboy led him to the basement and knocked at a door with a sign that read: Renal Unit. A tall, sensual lady in miniskirt opened it. She was Lady M, the transplant doctor’s secretary. Dr. R, the surgeon—described Leo—was a short, dark, elderly lady with short, black hair; she had a round face and she wore glasses. Upon seeing Leo with Baboy, she fired:“Ano’ng type ka?” She asked Leo’s blood type. “Are you O?”

She did not bother to greet or ask her “donor’s” name. Of course, she was more interested in blood type and kidney. Leo’s name was only incidental. A name, it seemed, was only something you used to distinguish a thing or person from another, a tool to aid the memory or a tool against forgetting.

Even before Leo could respond to the honorable doctor’s interrogation, she had fired another question: “You sometimes sell your blood, don’t you?”

“Opo,” was all he could meekly say to confirm the allegation.

He was surprised to hear the doctor use the word “sell” instead of “donate.” He had wanted to believe, despite the cash he was promised, that what he was doing was an act of altruism and a real help to someone very ill. But the old lady surgeon extinguished that illusion of philanthropy with one swish of her bladed tongue.

“How often do you sell?”

“Every three months, Doctor,” he said honestly.

Baboy must have filled her in about Leo’s visits to blood banks.

On the other hand, as a veteran doctor, she could tell a person’s state of health at a glance.

At the reception, about a dozen patients were waiting. Most of them, Leo thought, were Chinese-Filipinos. Most of them were very pale, their faces deprived of cheerfulness, and there was a lack of luster in their eyes.

Lady M took a sample of Leo’s blood. She extracted 5 cc. The sight of the syringe did not scare him at all. “It felt just like an ant’s bite,” he said. After the first test, Leo and Baboy had lunch at the cafeteria. Leo had a soup dish of vegetables and Baboy had pork adobo. Before they left, Lady M pulled Baboy to one side.

“Find me a Type B,” she whispered. “This is urgent.” Baboy nodded several times. Lady M pulled an envelope from her drawer and counted eight hundred pesos on Baboy’s palms. Baboy then gave Leo three hundred pesos.

12. Three days later, Baboy and Leo returned to St. Luke’s Hospital. Leo was subjected to more blood tests. He was examined for Hepatitis A and B. He had chest X-rays, ECGs (electrocardiography), and MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). After the check-up, Baboy gave him a share of three hundred pesos; again, he pocketed the five hundred pesos. Though his share was a pittance, Leo was content. It was much easier than going to Santa Cruz and “donating” blood. For every test he was subjected to, he would always ask himself: “Can I pass? Can I pass?” He was worried that if he did not pass, his mother would not be able to get medical treatment.

That night, after a battery of tests was administered to him, he wanted to test his strength. He wanted to prove he was healthy and strong. Therefore, he joined a gang of nightshift stevedores. From sunset to sunrise, they unloaded steel bars on the docks. He earned a thousand pesos. At noon, Leo and his fellow stevedores started drinking gin. Baboy joined in the “early celebration.” They drank to their last penny and to the last drop of their glasses until the last seconds of the day. They drank to their hearts’ content.

“If you pass all the tests,” Baboy reminded his recruit, “never forget my ten thousand pesos.”

Leo was promised one hundred thousand pesos. For him it was a fortune. He then promised to give the “first fruit” of his kidney to Baboy.

13. On his third visit to the hospital, Leo went through another series of intensive examinations. His lungs, heart, and kidneys were thoroughly checked.

The fourth time, he was tissue-typed. How compatible his tissues would be with his yet-unknown recipient was examined minutely. All this time, Baboy was always with him and they always went back home together. But after this check-up, he suddenly bade him goodbye.

“I have to go and find more money,” he said, grinning like a politician confident of winning the elections. “This one is already done.” He gave Leo a thumbs-up sign. Leo did not know what the gesture meant at that time. He followed Baboy to another room.

A young man in his mid-twenties was seated in a chair. He was short, fair-skinned, skinny, with his long hair swept back. He was wearing a white short-sleeved shirt. He looked so pale, and very yellow, Leo said. Standing beside him was a tall elderly man who looked just like him. He was the father. But he looked sad and deeply worried. Not far from the father was Lady M, smiling seductively and quite triumphantly.

Baboy gave the father and son a thumbs-up sign and another one to Lady M. Leo was bewildered. What were they thumbs-upping for, he thought. What were they agreeing about? Why couldn’t they say them in words? Why were they talking in gestures?

Lady M spoke in English.

“Kusunori-san, this is Leo, your donor.”

The young man stood up, shook hands with Leo, and gave Leo a friendly thumbs-up. His hand was so smooth and soft, Leo felt. Leo returned his thumbs-up gesture. Only then did he realize he had passed all the tests. He felt a surge of joy and fear. He took comfort in the thought that hundreds of Baseco men had already done the same and they had survived.

He thought he would be giving his kidney to a Filipino patient. Baboy never told him a single word about his would-be recipient. It never occurred to him he would be “donating” his young kidney to an equally young foreign man, to a Japanese.

It was already seven in the evening and Leo wanted to go home.

“Dito ka na lang,” Lady M said asking him to stay in the hospital and not to go home anymore.“Huwag ka nang umuwi.”

Lady M wanted to be absolutely certain Leo would not chicken out at the last minute. Leo could not resist the bewitching seduction of Lady M. He was admitted, to be precise, seduced to be admitted. In the past, some prospective “donors” had escaped at the last minute before the transplantation. But Leo was dead-set. His mother was the raison d’etre of everything and Leo was ready to give away his kidney.

14. Leo was given a room. It had a TV set with access to SkyCable, a refrigerator, a phone, a stereo set, and air conditioning. It had everything— the dream of a Filipino family. It was a dream room. However, it was a room with its walls painted in blinding white and did not have a single window for you to even get a glimpse of the gray sky. It felt like a prison, Leo said, a fancy prison. It was the first time ever in his life to stay in such a different and so alien a world and to taste such luxury.

He watched pro-wrestling all night on cable television. The stereo was also at full volume. There was so much food: fried chicken, fried fish, vegetables, bananas, sweets, and bread. Room service was also available.

On the third day, his younger brother and a cousin came to see him. Baboy had asked them to keep him company while he was being confined. These two men were also recruits of Baboy but Leo dissuaded both of them. “One among us is enough,” he said. Leo asked his younger brother especially not to proceed with his plans. At night, they would sneak out of the hospital and buy a few bottles of beer. “It was like staying in a hotel,” he said. “And everything was free. I was like a congressman!” But this sweet life lasted only four days.

Because on the fifth day, at six in the morning, a male doctor came to his room and ordered him to take a white tablet. He took it without asking whether it was poison or a miracle drug. He immediately felt sleepy. He got scared. He felt dizzy and his vision became hazy. He was laid on an operating table and his hands and feet were restrained as though he was going to be electrocuted. “I couldn’t move. I couldn’t shout. I couldn’t protest,” he said.

“Swallow your saliva,” the doctor ordered him and he made him turn on one side.

Leo saw a three-inch long syringe—the longest needle he had ever seen. The shot felt as though he was being nailed to the cross, he said. After the injection, complete darkness descended on him. He lost his entire consciousness.

“I died at that moment,” he said. He went under the knives, scalpels, forceps, scissors, and needles. A foot-long cut was carved on his right side. A huge window was surgically opened and his young bean-shaped organ was plucked or “harvested,” as transplant surgeons would say.

When they wheeled him to the operating room, Leo was already unconscious. He could not know if Kusunori, his recipient, was in the same “operating theater” as he was or if he was in a separate room. The operation took six hours.

Leo regained consciousness at noon the next day. Lights, blinding as the naked sun, surrounded him. He opened his eyes. He felt a distinct and excruciating pain in his back. He touched it—it was wrapped in bandage. He felt as though his body had been halved. He was surrounded by men and women in green robes wearing masks and caps.

“Akala mo pinaligiran ako ng mga aliens. Nakatingin sila lahat sa akin,” he said. It was a surreal scene, he said. It felt as though aliens had surrounded him and were staring at him in wonder.

“Para akong binangungot,” he said. It seemed he woke up from a nightmare.

Writhing in pain and minus a kidney, he was wheeled back to his room like a losing rooster in a cockfight. He was not applauded or congratulated for successfully “donating” an organ. Nobody said anything to him. Nobody said “thank you.” His value was already used up.

In his room, he started to contemplate what had become of his body. He could not turn his back to one side for the sheer agony of it.

“Wala na ang isang bato ko.” He rued his absent kidney. “Ano kaya ang mangyayari sa akin?” What might happen to me, he wondered.

He was very sleepy the whole day. He was amazed at the potency of the liquid injected in him.“Hayop sa tapang,” he said.

The following day, Lady M brought a new lady into his room. The equally voluptuous woman introduced herself as Joy and said she was a friend of Kusunori. She was tall, “very white,” adorned with rings, a watch, a gold bracelet, a thick gold chain around her neck, and she was wearing very, very tight-fit Levis jeans.

“Salamat,” she thanked him. “Binigyan mo ng buhay ang kaibigan ko.” She expressed gratitude for “giving life to her friend.”

From her shiny black bag, she took out a manila envelope. Before Leo’s unbelieving eyes, she took out its contents: two bundles of five hundred-peso notes. She handed them to him as though she was a First Lady distributing dole outs to her indigent constituents. Leo received them with joy.

“Gagaling na Nanay ko,” he whispered to himself. With this money, he thought, his mother would get well soon. He asked his brother to keep the brown envelope.

Joy came to see Leo not only once but almost every day during his post-surgical confinement. She was grateful and her gratitude was a little touching.

“Lagi siyang nagpapasalamat. Pasalamat nang pasalamat. Ako na nga ang nahihiya,” he said. She was always saying thank you. It was making him feel embarrassed.

A day after the transplant, Baboy came to visit. Entering the room he went straight to the refrigerator. He ransacked all the leftover food: oranges, apples, chicken, bread, ice cream, and beer.

“So,” Baboy finally asked him after satisfying his hunger, “how are you?”

“I am now one kidney less,” Leo replied. “Why are you here?”

“I just brought a Type B,” he replied matter-of-factly. “Give me my ten now.”

Over his still heavily sedated body, Leo’s brother counted twenty yellow Ninoy Aquino notes. Baboy collected them as though he was collecting takings from a poker game at a wake in Baseco. He then left abruptly.

Leo stayed seven days in the hospital after the operation. Each day, nurses and doctors took turns coming to check his condition. And each day seemed as long as a year. He was dying to escape from his air-conditioned room so he could immediately take his mother to the Philippine General Hospital for treatment.

On the third day after the operation, he asked his older brother and cousin to go out and buy some gin. Of course, he was forbidden to drink while his wound was still raw and fresh. But as with life in Baseco, everyday was an exercise of ingenuity and wit. Every day created by God was a struggle to outwit and outsmart the powerful and the privileged. So, each time his brother and cousin went out and came back to the hospital, the guard would always query and check what they were bringing in. And they would always show two bottles of clear mineral water. Two bottles of gin in bottles of eau de mineral—the poor shotgun-armed guard would never have imagined that touch of genius, not in his wildest dream.

Years later, each time Leo and his fellow “donors” would gather for a drink, this particular episode would be a great source of laughter, and endless variations would be created by each operado on the same theme. To live despite oppression, exploitation, and agony and still come out with a good story, it seemed, made life more bearable for many of the operados in Baseco.

Leo was a man of very few words. Unless spoken to, he would not initiate a conversation or approach and talk to you. Every time his group would gather and have a drink, he would always act as the tanggero—the toaster, the giver of drinks. He would offer each person seated in the circle a swig and would quietly keep the flow of gin and lime going on smoothly. He was also the youngest.

15. Three days after the transplantation, he was dying of thirst for gin. He, his brother, and a cousin decided to have an early celebration. They filled their glasses to the brim. They toasted the very “cooperative” security guard.

Although still very weak and in pain, he had pretended to his doctors that he was already well. Wearing only an undershirt and a pair of short pants and looking thin as a tingting (mid-ribs of coconut leaves), he requested a discharge. Though reluctant, the attending physicians granted his request. Together with his brother and a cousin, they took a taxi—a very rare thing for him. The cab driver was a little suspicious—they did not look like they could afford treatment at the most expensive hospital in the archipelago. Moreover, when they mentioned “Baseco” as their destination, the driver got scared. He said he could not take them there because he was headed the opposite way, bound for the garage. Leo’s brother then offered a bribe: five hundred pesos—four times the average fare. The once-terrified taxi driver became more courageous at the thought of becoming a few hundred pesos richer, so he stepped on the accelerator. He drove his “suspicious-looking” passengers to the shores of Manila Bay, just beside the derelict and stinking shipyard. From there, the three hired an outrigger ingeniously powered by a septuagenarian generator that had been salvaged from a junk shop.

16. They reached the end of the breakwater. Leo walked slowly on the narrow path like a survivor of a shipwreck. He appeared like a newly circumcised schoolboy treading carefully, avoiding contact with his own clothes and passersby lest they hit his fresh wound.

He arrived at their precarious hut. His mother was lying in bed. Her body was still swollen all over. Her face, arms, and legs were bloated and pale. His mother asked him where he had been. He said: “St. Luke’s.” The name was sufficient for her to know where her son had been and what had happened to him. In Baseco, the name is synonymous with “kidney donation.”

“You shouldn’t have done it,” she said with a tone of anger and sadness. “I won’t be here long.”

Putting on a brave face to avoid showing any hint of sadness, Leo asked an aunt to take his mother to PGH the next day. Teresita, for the first time after her long lingering illness, was given a thorough medical check-up. She was also able to buy all the medicine prescribed to her. She spent about two thousand pesos. But a week later, her situation did not improve. She went back to the government hospital again, was examined again, and some drug was prescribed again. She spent another two thousand pesos. She went for the third and fourth time. Nevertheless, her condition was fast deteriorating. The fifth time, Teresita refused to seek any further medical help. She refused to get up from bed. “My time is coming,” she said.

On a stormy roaring night, Teresita bade goodbye to Baseco and to her children. She was only thirty-eight years old. For her funeral, Leo spent twenty-five thousand pesos. The rest of his money he had used up to buy a television set, a karaoke set, battery for power generation, six pairs of Levi’s style tailor-made jeans, and four T-shirts. He had also bought materials for house repair. With the remaining twenty thousand pesos, he started a business—buying and selling fish. Stevedore that he was and not a vendor or fisherman, his maiden business venture ended up like driftwood on the shore after a typhoon. Furious winds blew away the newly roofed and walled hut. Raging fire the following summer finished off the remnants of it.

17. The slum village of Baseco faces west. On a clear day, the sunset in Manila Bay is one of the finest in the world. It seems the setting sun here is twice the size in diameter—its glow the most passionate on earth, its hue the most intense—the sky burning, the city of Manila the luckiest, and Baseco the most beautiful place on earth.


Baseco children at play

I’m having a drink with a group of operados. We are right along Baseco Beach—a long stretch of rubbish-strewn, industrial dregs-contaminated, dog and human waste-scattered along the shore. I’m watching Leo mix the last tall and fat pair of gin and lime that I had bought as a present for them. After taking the lids off, he let the Gilbey’s stand on a flat surface and secured it. In a fraction of a second, he fastens the lip of the lime to the lip of the Gilbey’s. The two bottles are welded together in a tight and amorous kiss. After several minutes, gin and lime—like natural lovers—blend and dissolve into one harmonious and potent drink. Leo hands me the first shot in a glass of Nescafe. It’s an honor to have the first swig. Careful not to disappoint them, I drink it bottoms up.

Fifteen years after he had “donated” his young kidney to a Japanese young man named Kusunori, Leo is still alive despite having only one kidney. But he now has long hair, eyes that are always red, a missing set of dentures, and a tattoo of a rose on his left arm (with black leaves and stalks and red petals). His ubiquitous trademark—a foot-long incision on his left side—is a lifetime reminder of that excruciating but memorable day. He remains single and always passes the night on a wooden bench in front of a sari-sari store.

“Kumusta na kaya ang bato ko?” he says as he hands me another shot when my turn comes. He wonders what became of the “stone” he had “donated.” Is it still functioning? And how is Kusunori? Is he still alive?

I have read, I say, that five years is the longest lifespan of a transplanted organ.

“So probably,” he says, “my kidney’s twin is gone.”

“Maybe. Maybe not.”

The sky is smoldering in orange and red. The Manila Bay sunset from Baseco beach is at its best. We all stand up as if it is a countdown.

Leo is standing beside me. His naked torso has become golden. Emboldened by the spirit of gin and lime, he waxes lyrical: “This is my life—always waiting for the sunset here every day. I pass the time watching the ships, fishermen, and stevedores. As for my living, I can’t be a dockworker anymore. I get tired easily. I must take care of my one remaining kidney. The setting sun is always pretty but it makes me lonely. My life is sunrise and sunset. It’s the same every day.”

Brave man, you are, I say. Good man.

This article is adapted from Rey Ventura, Cherry Blossoms in the Time of Earthquakes and Tsunami, published earlier this year by Ateneo de Manila Press.

Writer, filmmaker Rey Ventura is the author of Underground in Japan (1992) and a sequel, Into the Country of Standing Men (2007). His film “Dekasegi” (Migrant Workers, 1989) debuted at the Yamagata International Film Festival. His work has profiled life at the margins in the Philippines and Japan.

Plummeting Oil Prices

December 17th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

As this is written, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude down to below $56 a barrel. Brent at $61. From a high of $115 in January.

Heading for $40 or lower, some analysts believe. Shaking market stability. Reflecting global economic weakness.

Market manipulation. Saudi overproduction a big contributor. Protecting its market share. Targeting US shale oil production.

Hitting Russia hard. Per secret agreement between John Kerry and Saudi King Abdullah.

Washington wanting Moscow’s economy to scream. Urging other nations cut economic ties.

Abdullah likely angry about Putin declining a major 2013 arms purchase. Worth around $15 billion. Other generous investments.

Plus a pledge not to challenge Russian gas sales. In return for scaling back support for Assad. At the time, an unnamed Arab diplomat said Putin listened politely.

Expressed no interest. Said Moscow geopolitics remain unchanged. More on Russia below.

America now the world’s largest oil and liquid natural gas producer. Around 11 million barrels daily. Overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Low oil prices hit shale producers hard. According to Zero Hedge, at current prices, only four of 18 shale regions remain economically viable. Maybe none if prices keep falling. As many expect.

Compounded by reduced shale oil well output. Forcing producers to drill deeper. At higher cost. For diminishing returns.

Unless more wells are tapped to maintain output. Affecting an industry producing over half of US oil.

Struggling to keep production up. Increasingly tough with less or unavailable financing. Because of falling prices.

Junk bonds financed America’s shale boom. Producing a $550 billion mania, according to Zero Hedge.

Expecting this one to end badly. All bubbles pop. “Anything that becomes a mania ends badly,” warned a bond manager.

Bloomberg warned about the danger of stimulus-induced bubbles. Playing out in energy company debt. High-yield spreads near 1,000bps.

An investment boom created by artificially sustained rock-bottom interest rates. Plunging oil prices may cause massive high-yield defaults.

CreditSights predicts around 8% in 2015. Double this year’s rate. Moody’s Investors Service found corporate debt investor protections at an all-time low.

With average junk bond yields lower than investment-grade bonds before credit crisis conditions hit. Since mid-year, energy companies’ borrowing costs skyrocketed.

Compared to the past five years. Companies rated B or lower are “virtually shut out of the market,” according to CreditSights oil and gas analyst Brian Gibbons.

They’re forced to “rely on a combination of asset sales” to raise cash. Moody’s Analytics economist Chris Lafakis called multiple Fed bond buying rounds “a gift to small companies in the capital-intensive energy industry that needed cheap borrowing costs to thrive.”

Quantitative easing “has been one of the keys to the fast, breakneck pace of the growth in US oil production which requires abundant capital.”

Blowback is here. Distortions affect multiple markets. Center for Financial Stability president Lawrence Goodman says conditions are “like a Whac-A-Mole game.”

“You don’t know where (trouble will) pop up next.”

Magnum Hunter Resources CEO Gary Evans says “(o)il companies that have high funding costs in the Eagle Ford and the Bakken shale plays are the ones that are most exposed right now due to lower crude prices.”

He expects other at-risk energy borrowers to be squeezed next March or April.

“(W)hen banks re-calculate how much they may borrow under their credit lines based on the value of their oil reserves.”

Deutsche Bank analysts estimate around a third of companies rated B or CCC may be unable to meet their debt obligations.

If oil prices drop to $55 or lower. In other words, bottom line reality is much uglier than deceptive claims about economically beneficial low oil prices.

WTI below $60 a barrel sustained long enough risks pushing the entire high-yield sector into trouble.

A possible widespread default rate, according to Deutsche Bank analysts. A shock this great could trigger broader high-yield defaults.

High-yield JP Morgan Chase analyst Tarek Hamid thinks up to 40% of energy junk bonds will default at $65 a barrel oil sustained for around three years.

Energy companies currently comprise the fastest-growing high-yield bond market segment.

In recent years, around 18%. Double their 2009 market share. Even if at-risk companies cut costs. Sell assets to raise cash. Up to 25% of HY energy bonds could default. A scenario Hamid calls “very dire.”

The Financial Times reported investors fleeing US junk bond debt. “(A) sell-off that started in low-rated energy bonds last month has now spread to the broad corporate debt market amid fears of a spike in default rates.”

Plunging oil prices hit Russia hard. On December 16,  RT International reported record low ruble prices. Falling 20% in a day.

Facing intense selling pressure. Tuesday afternoon trading at 72 per dollar. Modestly better than 78.5 per dollar hours earlier. About 100 per euro.

The ruble down over 60% from January valuations. Tuesday’s slide came despite Russia’s central bank hiking rates from 10.5 – 17%.

An astonishing same-day increase. Trying to aid ruble valuations positively. By higher returns. Compared to virtually nothing holding dollars.

Russia’s stock market “went haywire,” said RT. Down 15% at 2:30PM Moscow time. Down 11% Monday.

Russia’s central bank chairwoman Elvira Nabiullin said:

“We must learn to live in a new reality, to focus more on our own resources to finance projects and give import substitution a chance.”

Citing weak oil prices. Less access to Western capital markets. Because of sanctions.

Nabiullina said Russia’s central bank has special tools. Able to aid internal development.

Finance investment projects. Including small and medium-sized business and commodity exporters.

Her worst case scenario: Negative 4.5% Q I growth. Recession.

According to Sberbank CIB analyst Vladimir Pantyushin:

“If anything there will be support, not stimulus for banks. It is a priority of the Central Bank to maintain and stabilize this sector.”

He doesn’t see Russia defaulting. Like 2008. Its robust budget can withstand hard times.

Russia’s currency reserves stand at $415 billion. Compared to $15 billion in 1998.

In 2014, Moscow spent $80 billion defending the ruble. Before announcing it would float freely.

Oil drives things. A combination of oversupply. Market manipulation. Global economic weakness. Especially commodity prices. Key industrial activity indicators.

According to RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Sluymer:

“Oil is a hugely traded financial asset. It links through the financial system and as it breaks down it becomes a huge tipping point.”

It’s hard knowing for sure what’s next. Doing so isn’t simple. Hindsight the best foresight.

Proving only Cassandra was good at calling market tops and bottoms. Mere mortals often try and fail.

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

In the wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report, released last week, 51% of respondents said that they think the CIA was justified using the methods in question, which included water boarding, rectal feeding, and sleep deprivation.

Only 29% of Americans said that torture was not justified. Another 20% said they did not have an opinion. The survey of 1,001 adult Americans was conducted December 11-14.

Despite the Senate report, which said torture provided no actionable intelligence that couldn’t be found elsewhere, poll respondents disagreed; 56% of them said that torture did provide intelligence that prevented terrorist attacks. Only 28% concurred with the intelligence committee report that torture didn’t provide this type of intelligence.

Respondents were almost evenly split on whether the Senate Intelligence Committee should have released the report. Forty-three percent said that the decision was not justified, while 42% said it was the right thing to do.Republicans were much more likely to approve of the CIA’s use of torture, with more than two thirds saying that it was justified. Democrats could not agree on this issue, while 46% said that the CIA’s methods were wrong, 37% said that they were justifiable.

Most white Americans (57%) found the CIA’s methods justified, while blacks and Hispanics were more divided.  Younger respondents  (under 30) were less likely to say the CIA’s methods were justified than those over 50 years of age. Men were more supportive of torture than were women.

However, the public didn’t seem to pay much interest in the matter. While it was one of the most reported news stories of the week, just 23% of respondents said that they followed news about the torture report closely. By contrast, 35% said that they were paying close attention to the demonstrations around the country in the wake of two grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men.

Most Americans are fine with the CIA’s torture methods used in the wake of 9/11, according to a new poll conducted by Pew Research.

Cliff Weathers is a senior editor at AlterNet, covering environmental and consumer issues. He is a former deputy editor at Consumer Reports. His work has also appeared in Salon, Car and Driver, Playboy, Raw Story and Detroit Monthly among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @cliffweathers and on Facebook

The latest anti-Russian bill to come out of Washington does a lot more than simply arm Ukraine, although that’s destabilizing enough as it is. Contained within the Act are powerful provisions that expand NATO’s influence in Russia’s backyard and continue the War on Syria.

The Ukrainian Freedom Support Act (UFSA) is essentially the actionable successor to the recently passed House Resolution 758, which itself has been referred to as the declaration of the New Cold War. It’s exceptionally noteworthy for fulfilling John McCain’s threat to arm Ukraine, but it’s the other decrees within it that have gone unnoticed by the mainstream media, although they’re just as troubling, if not more so. And unsurprisingly, Congress somehow found a way to group its War on Syria into the UFSA, showing that it truly exploits any opportunity to push through its agenda of regime change there even if it has absolutely nothing to do with the bill at hand.

The Three Amigos

The UFSA is just as much about Moldova and Georgia as it is about Ukraine, as all three countries are collectively grouped together except for when it comes to assisting with internally displaced persons. For example, when it comes to ‘the three amigos’, UFSA says that sanctions will be imposed if:

  • Russia (or any actor affiliated with it) sends “defense articles” to those countries without the consent of its government’
  • And Russia “withholds significant natural gas supplies from countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova” and NATO members.

And that the three are to be ‘rewarded’ with:

  • Major non-NATO ally status (which allows them to purchase weapons only reserved for NATO allies);
  • And a prioritized information campaign run by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, where these countries are given a greater focus than the other former Soviet states.

Putting it all together, it is clear that the US has strategically incorporated Moldova and Georgia into its legislation about Ukraine, providing proof that it is Washington and not Moscow which is ‘widening the battlefield’ of the New Cold War. This isn’t the first time either, as all the amigos were first lumped together in May when the so-called Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 was unveiled, which served as the predecessor of House Resolution 758.

The reasoning for this is rather simple, actually. The US wants to coordinate its push against the former Soviet periphery and is pulling out all the stops along the way. The primary objective is NATO expansion all the way to the Russian border, as well as the destabilization of Russian interests in or near these countries. Russia has a military base in the de-facto independent Transnistrian region of Moldova, while the historic reunification of Crimea and Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s independence from Georgia are well known. It is these precise interests and territories that the US wants to threaten with the Act.

The Big Tent

Another observation that’s lost on the mainstream media is that the Act creates a ‘big tent’ of American interests in Eurasia. When addressing the non-consented transfer of Russian defense articles to “specified countries”, other than the three amigos, it describes these as being “any other country of significant concern for purposes of this Act, such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and the Central Asia republics.” It’s obvious that the US would place its NATO allies under this designation, but to spread the umbrella over the Central Asian republics is a strategy that has more to it than originally meets the eye.

Russia in no way supports separatism in Central Asia, and aside from neutral Turkmenistan, it actually has constructive military and anti-terror relations with all of the regional states as a result of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). This group has explicitly stated its opposition to terrorism, separatism, and extremism, and all of its members are now watching the violent situation in Afghanistan with the trepidation that it may move northward next year.

Within this context, the US is sending smoke signals to those governments that it is open for cooperating with them, but with the implicit understanding that they have to abandon their alliance with Russia and accuse it of the fantasy-driven treachery of arming separatist groups. The purpose here is to expand the reach of NATO’s 12,000 or so troops that will stay behind in Afghanistan and use them to push Russian influence (no matter how beneficial to anti-terrorist operations and regional stability) out of Central Asia.

Slick Talking About Syria

Congress understood that the current anti-Russian climate meant that the UFSA was surely bound to pass, so it added a completely irrelevant clause relating to Syria in order to strengthen the war effort against it. Specifically, the Act mandates that sanctions be imposed against any Russian company or related individual that sells defense articles to Syria. This is the complete opposite standard that it is applying to the ‘big tent’ countries. Congress says that Russia can’t

As we've already become accustomed to, the rebels have been armed by the US.

As we’ve already become accustomed to, the rebels have been armed by the US.

transfer such units to the ‘big tent’ without the consent of their governments, but such transfers are prohibited to Syria when its government consents to it.

So what’s going on here?

The US and its allies don’t recognize the legitimacy of the Syrian government, despite President Assad having been democratically re-elected with 88.7% of the vote back in June, and the fact that they support regime change within the country. They’d rather give weapons to the insurgents fighting to overthrow the government (even if such arms sometimes end up in the hands of terrorists) than approve of Russia’s continued support for the government’s anti-terrorist war. The Syrian Arab Army is once more on the upswing (backed by Russian support), so it’s not coincidental that such a provision was made at this time. Nonetheless, such bullying by the US will never result in Russia abandoning its support for Syria, especially at this critical time, and should be seen as nothing more than the naked intimidation tactic that it is.

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

There is an ever-increasing dichotomy between the Zionist military leaders of the Likud government in Israel and the brilliant talent of Jewish American and British television and film professionals; world-acclaimed stars, directors, composers, musicians and producers. On the one hand, there are those who consistently create versus those who tragically destroy.

The wealth of talent in the entertainment field – such as Mike Nichols, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lisa Kudrow, Paul Simon, Daniel Day-Lewis, Art Garfunkel, Helena Bonham Carter, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Baddiel, Harrison Ford, Daniel Barenboim, Mila Kunis, Steven Spielberg, Billy Crystal, Simon Cowell and so many others in the West, set against the violent policies of power-hungry politicians like Binyamin Netanyahu – is without parallel in the modern world within a group of people born to the same faith but who are as different as water is to wine.

Here we have those who ‘build-up’ against those who ‘tear-down’: those who show respect for human and civil rights and those who deny those rights. It is a dichotomy that itself is denied by one side but confirmed by the other – an ideology that now poses a very specific threat to global peace.

Likud Zionism is a secular political movement that flies in the face of Judaism and human and civil rights. It should be condemned by all who value justice and freedom.

The following text is the forward to Ernst Wolff’s book entitled : Pillaging the World. The History and Politics of the IMF, © Tectum Verlag Marburg, 2014, ISBN 978-3-8288-3438-5, www.tectum-verlag.de. The book is available in English and German

No other financial organization has affected the lives of the majority of the world’s population more profoundly over the past fifty years than the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Since its inception after World War II, it has expanded its sphere of influence to the remotest corners of the earth. Its membership currently includes 188 countries on five continents.

For decades, the IMF has been active mainly in Africa, Asia and South America. There is hardly a country on these continents where its policies have not been carried out in close cooperation with the respective national governments. When the global financial crisis broke out in 2007, the IMF turned its attention to northern Europe. Since the onset of the Euro crisis in 2009, its primary focus has shifted to southern Europe.

Officially, the IMF’s main task consists in stabilizing the global financial system and helping out troubled countries in times of crisis. In reality, its operations are more reminiscent of warring armies. Wherever it intervenes, it undermines the sovereignty of states by forcing them to implement measures that are rejected by the majority of the population, thus leaving behind a broad trail of economic and social devastation. 

Ernst Wolff

Weltmacht IWFIn pursuing its objectives, the IMF never resorts to the use of weapons or soldiers. It simply applies the mechanisms of capitalism, specifically those of credit. Its strategy is as simple as it is effective: When a country runs into financial difficulties, the IMF steps in and provides support in the form of loans. In return, it demands the enforcement of measures that serve to ensure the country’s solvency in order to enable it to repay these loans.

Because of its global status as “lender of last resort” governments usually have no choice but to accept the IMF’s offer and submit to its terms – thus getting caught in a web of debt, which they, as a result of interest, compound interest and principal, get deeper and deeper entangled in. The resulting strain on the state budget and the domestic economy inevitably leads to a deterioration of their financial situation, which the IMF in turn uses as a pretext for demanding ever new concessions in the form of “austerity programs”.

The consequences are disastrous for the ordinary people of the countries affected (which are mostly low-income) because their governments all follow the same pattern, passing the effects of austerity on to wage earners and the poor.

In this manner, IMF programs have cost millions of people their jobs, denied them access to adequate health care, functioning educational systems and decent housing. They have rendered their food unaffordable, increased homelessness, robbed old people of the fruits of life-long work, favored the spread of diseases, reduced life expectancy and increased infant mortality.

At the other end of the social scale, however, the policies of the IMF have helped a tiny layer of ultra-rich increase their vast fortunes even in times of crisis. Its measures have contributed decisively to the fact that global inequality has assumed historically unprecedented levels. The income difference between a sun king and a beggar at the end of the Middle Ages pales compared to the difference between a hedge fund manager and a social welfare recipient of today.

Although these facts are universally known and hundreds of thousands have protested the effects of its measures in past decades, often risking their lives, the IMF tenaciously clings on to its strategy. Despite all criticism and despite the strikingly detrimental consequences of its actions, it still enjoys the unconditional support of the governments of all leading industrial nations.

Why? How can it be that an organization that causes such immense human suffering around the globe continues to act with impunity and with the backing of the most powerful forces of our time? In whose interest does the IMF work? Who benefits from its actions?

It is the purpose of this book to answer these questions.

The Bretton Woods Conference:

Starting out with Blackmail

While the Second World War was still raging in Europe, in July 1944, the United States invited delegations from 44 countries to the small ski resort of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The official aim of the conference, held for three weeks in the luxurious “Mount Washington” hotel, was to define the basic features of an economic order for the post-war period and to provide the cornerstones of a system that would stabilize the world economy and prevent a return to the situation that had existed between the two world wars. The 1930s in particular were distinguished by high inflation, trade barriers, strongly fluctuating exchange rates, gold shortages and a decline in economic activity by more than 60 %. Furthermore, social tensions had constantly threatened to break down the established order.

The conference had been preceded by several years of secret negotiations between the White House and Downing Street which had already been working on plans for a new world monetary order since 1940. A recorded comment from the head of the British delegation, the economist Lord Keynes, sheds light on the former elite’s attitude towards the interests and concerns of smaller countries: “Twenty-one countries have been invited which clearly have nothing to contribute and will merely encumber the ground… The most monstrous monkey-house assembled for years.”

It did not take long before their contemptuous attitude rebounded on Lord Keynes and his compatriots. During the course of the conference, it became increasingly clear how much the global balance of power had shifted to the disadvantage of Great Britain. Excessive war spending had turned the country, already severely weakened by the First World War, into the world’s biggest debtor and pushed it to the brink of insolvency. Great Britain’s economy was on its knees and the rise of the liberation movements around the world already heralded the final breakup of its once global colonial empire.

The undisputed victor of the Second World War, however, was the United States. Having become the largest international creditor, it held nearly two-thirds of the world’s gold reserves and commanded half of all global industrial production. In contrast to most European countries its infrastructure was intact and while its delegation engaged in negotiations at Bretton Woods, the US army’s general staff planned a nuclear assault on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to emphasize America’s claim to global dominion.

As a result of this new balance of power, Lord Keynes’ plan for a new economic order was flatly rejected. Representing a country with substantial balance of payments problems, he had proposed an “international payments union” that would have given countries suffering from a negative balance of payments easier access to loans and introduced an international accounting unit called “Bancor” which would have served as a reserve currency.

The US, however, was unwilling to take on the role of a major creditor that Keynes’ plan had foreseen for it. The leader of their delegation, economist Harry Dexter White, in turn presented his own plan that was finally adopted by the conference. This “White Plan” conceptualized a world currency system never before seen in the history of money. The US dollar was to constitute its sole center and was to be pegged to all other currencies at a fixed exchange rate while its exchange relation to gold was to be set at $ 35 per ounce of fine gold. The plan was supplemented by US demands for the establishment of several international organizations designed to monitor the new system and stabilize it by granting loans to countries facing balance of payments problems.

After all, Washington, due to its size and rapid economic growth, had to move ahead in order to obtain access to raw materials and create global sales opportunities for its overproduction. This required replacing the hitherto most widely used currency, the British pound, by the dollar. Also, time seemed ripe for replacing the City of London by Wall Street, thus establishing the US in its new position as the focal point of international trade and global finance.

The gold-dollar peg and the establishment of fixed exchange rates partially reintroduced the gold standard, which had existed between 1870 and the outbreak of World War I – albeit under very different circumstances. By fixing all exchange rates to the US dollar, Washington deprived all other participating countries of the right to control their own monetary policy for the protection of their domestic industries – a first step towards curtailing the sovereignty of the rest of the world by the now dominant United States.

The distribution of voting rights suggested by the US for the proposed organizations was also far from democratic. Member countries were not to be treated equally or assigned voting rights according to the size of their population, but rather corresponding to the contributions they paid – which meant that Washington, by means of its financial superiority, secured itself absolute control over all decisions. The fact that South Africa’s racist apartheid dictatorship was invited to become a founding member of the IMF sheds a revealing light on the role that humanitarian considerations played in the process.

The US government sensed that it would not be easy to win over public opinion for a project so obviously in contradiction with the spirit of the US constitution and many Americans’ understanding of democracy. The true goals of the IMF were therefore obfuscated with great effort and glossed over by empty rhetoric about “free trade” and the “abolition of protectionism”. The New York Herald-Tribune spoke of the “most high-powered propaganda campaign in the history of the country.”

The IMF’s first task was to scrutinize all member states in order to determine their respective contribution rates. After all, the Fund was to exert a long-term “monitoring” function for the system’s protection. The US thus claimed for itself the right to be permanently informed about the financial and economic conditions of all countries involved.

When half a year after the conference the British insisted on an improvement in their favor to the contracts, they were unambiguously made aware of who was in charge of the IMF. Without further ado Washington tied a loan of $ 3.75 billion, urgently needed by the U.K. to repay its war debts, to the condition that Great Britain submit to the terms of the agreement without any ifs, ands, or buts. Less than two weeks later Downing Street gave in to Washington’s blackmail and consented.

On December 27, 1945, 29 governments signed the final agreement. In January 1946, representatives of 34 nations came together for an introductory meeting of the Board of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank in Savannah, Georgia. On this occasion, Lord Keynes and his compatriots were once again left empty-handed: Contrary to their proposal to establish the headquarters of the IMF, which had in the meantime been declared a specialized agency of the United Nations, in New York City, the US government insisted on its right to determine the location solely by itself. On March 1, 1947, the IMF finally took up its operations in downtown Washington.

The rules for membership in the IMF were simple: Applicant countries had to open their books and were rigorously screened and assessed. After that they had to deposit a certain amount of gold and pay their financial contribution to the organization according to their economic power. In return, they were assured that in the case of balance of payments problems they were entitled to a credit up to the extent of their contribution – in exchange for interest rates determined by the IMF and the contractually secured obligation of settling their debts to the IMF before all others.

The IMF finally received a starting capital of $ 8.8 billion from shares of its member states who paid 25 % of their contributions in gold and 75 % in their own currency. The United States secured itself the highest rate by depositing $ 2.9 billion. The amount was twice as high as Great Britain’s and guaranteed the United States not only double voting rights, but also a blocking minority and veto rights.

The IMF was run by a Board of Governors, to whom twelve executive directors were subordinated. Seven were elected by the members of the IMF, the other five were appointed by the largest countries, led by the US. The offices of the IMF as well as those of its sister organization, the World Bank, were set up on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington within walking distance from the White House.

The original statutes of the IMF state that the organization’s objectives were, among others,

  • To promote international cooperation in the field of monetary policy,
  • To facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade,
  • To promote exchange rate stability and assist in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments,
  • To provide member countries facing balance of payments difficulties with temporary access to the Fund’s general resources and under adequate safeguards,
  • To shorten the duration and lessen the degree of disequilibrium in the international balances of payments of member countries.

These official terms make it seem as if the IMF is an impartial institution, placed above nations and independent of political influences, its main objective consisting in running the global economy in as orderly a manner as possible, swiftly correcting malfunctions. This is no coincidence. This impression was intended by the authors and has in fact achieved its desired effect: It is exactly this notion that has been conveyed to the global public for more than six decades by politicians, scientists and the international media.

In actual fact, the IMF has, from the very beginning, been an institution launched by, controlled by, and tailored to the interests of the United States, designed to secure the new military superpower economic world domination. To conceal these intentions even more effectively, the founding fathers of the IMF in 1947 started a tradition which the organization has held to this day – appointing a non-American to the post of managing director.

The first foreigner, selected in 1946, was Camille Gutt from Belgium. As finance minister of his country during World War II, the trained economist had helped the British cover their war expenses by lending them Belgian gold. He had aided the war effort by supplying his government’s allies with cobalt and copper from the Belgian colony of Congo and supporting the US government with secret deliveries of Congolese uranium for its nuclear program. In 1944 he had carried out a drastic currency reform (later known as the “Gutt operation”) that had cost the working population of Belgium large amounts of their savings.

Gutt headed the IMF from 1946 to 1951. During his time in office he largely focused on the implementation and monitoring of fixed exchange rates, thus ushering in a new era of hitherto unknown stability for US and international corporations when exporting goods and purchasing raw materials. He also paved the way for major US banks seeking to deal in credits on an international scale and opened up markets all over the world for international finance capital searching for investment opportunities.

The world’s major political changes after World War II caused considerable headaches for the IMF, because they limited the scope of the organization. Above all, the Soviet Union took advantage of the post-war situation, characterized by the division of the world among the major powers and the drawing of new borders in Europe. Still relying on the socialization of the means of production by the Russian Revolution of 1917, Stalin’s officials sealed off the so-called “Eastern bloc” from the West in order to introduce central economic planning in these countries. The Soviet bureaucracy’s primary objective, however, was not to enforce the interests of working people, but to assure the subordination of the Eastern Bloc under its own interests for the purpose of pillaging these countries. In any case, the fragmentation of Eastern Europe meant that Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and several other markets became blank areas for international financial capital.

The seizure of power by Mao Zedong in 1949 and the introduction of a planned economy in China by the Communist Party deprived Western investors of another huge market and eventually led to the Korean War. Implementing their policy of “containment” of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence, the US tacitly accepted the loss of four million lives only to deliver a clear message to the rest of the world: that the largest economic power on earth would no longer remain passive if denied access to any more global markets.

The Post-War Boom: The IMF Casts its Net

The post-war years were characterized by the rapid economic growth of all leading industrial nations, referred to as the “Wirtschaftswunder” (“economic miracle”) in Germany. Although IMF lending played only a minor role during this time, the organization’s leadership did not remain inactive. On the contrary: the second IMF chief Ivar Rooth, a former Governor of the Swedish Central Bank and ex-Director of the Basel Bank for International Settlements, set out on a course that was to acquire major significance in the later history of the organization – introducing conditionality, i.e. establishing obligatory requirements for granting loans.

Harry Dexter White had already made a proposal along these lines at the Bretton Woods Conference, but encountered fierce resistance from the British. Meanwhile, however, Britain’s position had continued to deteriorate. Former colonies, mainly in Africa, were fighting for their independence, and in the Middle East the Suez crisis was looming – providing the US with an opportunity to advance its own interests in the IMF more forcefully.

By establishing so-called “stand-by arrangements”, Ivar Rooth added the principle of “conditionality” to the IMF’s toolbox. The granting of loans was now subjected to conditions that went far beyond the specification of loan deadlines and the level of interest rates.

In implementing these measures, which were tightened after Britain’s defeat in Suez led to a rise of tensions in Anglo-American relations, the IMF’s strategists developed a strategy that helped them to cleverly deceive the public. Starting in 1958, they obliged the governments of debtor countries to draw up “letters of intent” in which they had to express their willingness to undertake “reasonable efforts” to master their balance of payments problems. This made it seem as though a country had itself proposed the measures that were actually required by the IMF.

But even that did not go far enough for the IMF. As a next step, loans to be disbursed were sliced into tranches (“phasing”) and thus made conditional upon the respective debtor country’s submissiveness. In addition, the IMF insisted (and still insists) that agreements between the IMF and its debtors should not be considered international treaties and therefore should not be subject to parliamentary approval. Finally, the IMF decreed that any agreements with it were not intended for the public eye and had to be treated as classified information – a scheme that applies to this day.

Conditions were to be continually tightened in the course of the IMF’s history and would prove to be a crucial mechanism for increasing foreign domination of developing countries. They also contributed to the growing power of the IMF, because the World Bank, most governments and the vast majority of international commercial banks from now on only granted loans to those countries which, on the basis of the fulfillment of the IMF’s criteria, had received its “seal of approval”.

In 1956 a meeting was held in Paris that was to win landmark importance for the later development of the IMF. Struggling to repay a loan, Argentina had to sit down with its creditor countries and representatives of the IMF in order to have new conditions dictated to it. The meeting took place in the offices of French Finance Minister Pierre Pflimlin, who also chaired it. It did not remain the only one of its kind. In subsequent years, meetings between IMF representatives, creditors and debtors were held frequently in the same place, gradually developing into fixed monthly conferences that were to become known as the “Paris Club”. A scope of extremely important decisions were taken within this framework – without parliamentary consent and hidden from the eyes of the public. Commercial banks around the world soon recognized the importance of these conferences, and therefore started their own “London Club”, whose meetings usually took (and still take) place simultaneously with those of the Paris Club.

Barely noticed by the global community, the IMF subsequently turned to a field of activity that was to boost its power massively in a relatively short time. The wave of declarations of independence by African states at the beginning of the 1960s marked the beginning of a new era. Countries that had been plundered for decades by colonialism and lay in tatters economically, now had to find their proper place in the world and especially in the world economy under rapidly changing conditions. Their governments therefore needed money. Since most of these countries offered commercial banks too little security due to social tensions, political unrest and barely existing infrastructure, the IMF took advantage of the situation and offered its services as a creditor.

Although most African countries were so poor that they were only granted relatively modest sums, even these had consequences. The maturity dates of interest and principal payments relentlessly ensured that states that had just escaped from colonial dependence were seamlessly caught in a new network of financial dependence on the IMF.

As credit lending required the debtor’s membership in the IMF, the organization, whose founding members had only included three African countries – Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Africa – was joined by more than 40 additional African states between 1957 and 1969. In 1969, 44 out of 115 members were African. Although they made up more than one third of the overall organization, their voting rights that same year amounted to less than 5 %.

Chile 1973:

Embarking upon the Path of Neoliberalism

The beginning of the 1970s marked the end of the post-war boom, a twenty-five year period of economic expansion in which workers in the leading industrial nations had been granted great social concessions and experienced a hitherto unknown improvement of their living standards. It was the internal disintegration of the Bretton Woods system that brought about the end of that period. As a result of rising US investment abroad and escalating military spending – particularly for the Vietnam War – the amount of dollars globally in circulation had continually increased. All attempts by the US government to bring this proliferation under control had failed because US capital had blended with foreign capital and no nation on earth was capable of reining in this massive concentration of financial power.

In 1971, the United States, for the first time in its history, ran a balance of payments deficit. At the same time the imbalance between the global dollar supply and US gold reserves stored in Fort Knox assumed such dimensions that even raising the gold price to $ 38.00 and then to $ 42.20 could no longer guarantee its exchange against an ounce of gold. On August 15, 1971, US President Nixon pulled the brakes and severed the link between gold and the dollar, displaying the typical arrogance of a superpower by not consulting a single ally.

In December 1971, a conference of the G10 group, founded in 1962 by the world’s top ten industrialized nations, decided on an alignment of exchange rates, which brought about a readjustment of the dollar’s value against other currencies. This led to a devaluation of the dollar, ranging from 7.5 % against the weak Italian lira to 16.9 % against the strong Japanese yen. In February 1973, the dollar was devalued again, but it soon became clear that the system of fixed exchange rates could no longer be upheld. In March 1973, the G10 and several other industrialized countries introduced the system of flexible exchange rates to be established by the central banks – without consulting a single country outside the G 10 and despite the fact that the new regime blatantly contradicted article 6 of the founding document of the IMF on fixed exchange rates and monetary stability.

The abolition of fixed exchange rates historically terminated the core tasks of the IMF. The only role left for it was that of a lender in charge of the allocation of funds and their conditionality, entitled to inspect the accounts of applicants and thus exercise direct influence on their policies. However, it was exactly this function for which extremely favorable conditions would soon arise.

In 1973, the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which had been founded in 1960, used the Yom Kippur War between Egypt and Israel to curb the amount of oil supplied to the West (“oil embargo”) and drastically raise oil prices. This led to a huge increase in the profits of oil companies and oil-producing countries. These gains ended up in commercial banks, which in turn tried to use them for profitable investments. As the global economy slipped into a recession in 1974 / 75 and investment opportunities in industrialized countries dwindled, the lion’s share of the money took on the form of loans to third world countries in Asia, Africa and South America, which – due to their increased expenditures after the rise in oil prices – urgently needed money. The IMF itself responded to the increased credit needs of developing countries by introducing the “Extended Fund Facility” in 1974, from which member countries could draw loans of up to 140 % of their quota with terms of four and a half to ten years.

Although the facility had been specifically set up to finance much-needed oil imports, the IMF – as well as the banks – cared little about what the money was actually spent on. Whether it went straight into the pockets of dictators such as Mobutu in Zaire, Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Suharto in Indonesia – who either squandered it, transferred it to secret foreign accounts or used it for military purposes, in each case driving up the national debt – did not matter to the IMF and the banks as long as they received their interest payments regularly.

However, the situation changed abruptly when Paul Volcker, the new chairman of the US Federal Reserve, raised its prime rate (the interest rate at which commercial banks can obtain money from central banks) by 300 % in order to reduce inflation in 1979. The United States slipped into another recession, which meant that fewer raw materials were needed due to lower economic activity.

For many developing countries the combination of receding demand, falling raw material prices and skyrocketing interest rates meant that they could not meet their payment obligations to international banks. A massive financial crisis loomed. The debt burden of developing countries at the beginning of 1980 amounted to a total of $ 567 billion. A payment default of this magnitude would have led to the collapse of many Western banks and therefore had to be prevented at all costs.

It was at this point that the IMF was given its first great chance to enter the stage as a lender of last resort. While its public relations department spread the news that the organization was working on bail-outs in order to “help” over-indebted countries, the Fund took advantage of its incontestable monopoly position and tied the granting of loans to harsh conditions. In doing so, it was able to draw on two different experiences gained in the preceding years.

Firstly, a CIA-supported military coup in Chile in September 1973 had ended socialist president Salvador Allende’s rule and brought fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. Pinochet had immediately reversed Allende’s nationalizations, but found no remedy against galloping inflation. In an attempt to regain control of the situation, he had turned to a group of 30 Chilean economists (known as the “Chicago Boys” because they had studied at the Chicago School of Economics under Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman) and proposed to them a clearly defined division of labor: He would provide for the suppression of any kind of political and trade union opposition and crush all labor disputes, while they were to carry out a radical austerity program on the basis of neoliberal ideas.

Within a few weeks an extensive catalog of measures was developed. It called for a drastic limitation of money supply, cuts in government spending, layoffs in the public sector, privatization in health care and education, wage cuts and tax increases for working people, while at the same time lowering tariffs and corporate taxes. The program was openly referred to as a “shock therapy” by either side.

Both Pinochet and his partners, who were presented to the public as a “government of technocrats”, fulfilled their side of the agreement to the hilt. While the dictator violently smashed any opposition to the government’s drastic measures and ensured that many political dissidents disappeared forever, the “Chicago Boys” launched a frontal assault on the working population. They drove up unemployment, which had stood at 3 % in 1973, to 18.7 % by the end of 1975, simultaneously pushing inflation to 341 % and plunging the poorest segments of the population into even deeper poverty. The impacts of the program actually aggravated the problem of social inequality for decades to come: In 1980, the richest 10 % of the Chilean population amassed 36.5 % of the national income, expanding their share to 46.8 % in 1989, while at the same time that of the poorest 50 % fell from 20.4 % to 16.8 %.

During his bloody coup, Pinochet had fully relied on the active support of the CIA and the US Department of State under Henry Kis­singer. When implementing the toughest austerity program ever carried out in a Latin American country, the “Chicago Boys” received the full backing of the IMF. Regardless of all human rights violations, IMF loans to Chile doubled in the year after Pinochet’s coup, only to quadruple and quintuple in the following two years.

The IMF’s other experience concerned the UK. Great Britain’s inexorable economic decline over two and a half decades had made the country the IMF’s largest borrower. From 1947 to 1971, the government in London had drawn loans totaling $ 7.25 billion. After the recession of 1974 / 75 and speculative attacks on the pound, it had come under even greater pressure. When in 1976, the British government once again turned to the IMF for help, the United States seized the opportunity to demonstrate their power. Allying themselves with the resurgent Germans, they forced the Labour government under Prime Minister Harold Wilson to limit public spending, impose massive cuts in social programs, pursue a restrictive fiscal policy, and refrain from import controls of any kind. This drastic intervention represented a hitherto unknown encroachment on the sovereignty of a European borrower country, resulting in the fact that no leading Western industrialized country ever again applied for an IMF loan.

Overtly, the Israeli superpower of the Middle East has been keen to posture as having no role whatsoever in the four-year old devastating conflict in Syria, where all major regional and international powers are politically and militarily deeply involved and settling scores by Syrian blood.

In his geopolitical weekly analysis, entitled “The Islamic State Reshapes the Middle East ,” on November 25 Stratfor’s George Friedman raised eyebrows when he reviewed the effects which the terrorist group had on all regional powers, but seemed unaware of the existence of the Israeli regional superpower.

It was an instructive omission that says a lot about the no more discreet role Israel is playing to maintain what the Israeli commentator Amos Harel described as the “stable instability” in Syria and the region, from the Israeli perspective of course.

Friedman in fact was reflecting a similar official omission by the US administration. When President Barak Obama appealed for a “broad international coalition” to fight the Islamic State (IS), Israel — the strongest military power in the region and the well – positioned logistically to fight it — was not asked to join. The Obama administration explained later that Israel ’s contribution would reflect negatively on the Arab partners in the coalition.

“Highlighting Israel’s contributions could be problematic in terms of complicating efforts to enlist Muslim allies” in the coalition, said Michael Eisenstadt, a senior fellow at AIPAC’s arm, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Covertly however Israel is a key player in prolonging the depleting war on Syria and the major beneficiary of neutralizing the military of the only immediate Arab neighbor that has so far eluded yielding to the terms dictated by the U.S. – backed Israeli regional force majeure for making peace with the Hebrew state.

Several recent developments however have brought the Israeli role into the open.

First the latest bombing of Syrian targets near the Damascus international civilian airport on December 7 was the seventh major unprovoked air strike of its kind since 2011 and the fifth in the past 18 months on Syrian defenses. Syrian Scientific research centers, missile depots, air defense sites, radar and electronic monitoring stations and the Republican Guards were targeted by Israel .

Facilitating the Israeli mission and complementing it, the terrorist organizations operating in the country tried several times to hit the same targets. They succeeded in killing several military pilots and experts whom Israeli intelligence services would have paid dearly to hunt down.

Foreign Policy on last June 14 quoted a report by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki – moon as saying that the “battle – hardened Syrian rebels … once in Israel, they receive medical treatment in a field clinic before being sent back to Syria,” describing the arrangement as a “gentleman’s agreement.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in February this year visited this “military field hospital” and shook hands with some of the more than 1000 rebels treated in Israeli hospitals, according to Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

Foreign Policy quoted also Ehud Yaari, an Israeli fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as saying that Israel was supplying the rebel – controlled Syrian villages with medicines, heaters, and other humanitarian supplies. The assistance, he said, has benefited civilians and “insurgents.” Yaari ignored the reports about the Israeli intelligence services to those “insurgents.”

Israel facilitates war on UNDOF

Second, the latest quarterly report by the UN Disengagement Force (UNDOF) to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on December 1 confirmed what eight previous similar reports had stated about the “interaction … across the (Syrian – Israeli) ceasefire line” between the IOF and the “armed members of the (Syrian) opposition,” in the words of Ki-moon’s report to the Council on December 4.

Third, Ki-moon in his report confirmed that the UNDOF “was forced to relocate its troops” to the Israeli side of the ceasefire line, leaving the Syrian side a safe haven zone for the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, which the UNSC had designated a “terrorist group.”

UNDOF’s commander Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha told the UNSC on October 9 that his troops were “under fire, been abducted, hijacked, had weapons snatched and offices vandalized.” Australia was the latest among the troop contributing countries to pull out its forces from UNDOF.

UNDOF and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) operate in the buffer zone of about 80 km long and between 0.5 to 10 km wide, forming an area of 235 km². The zone borders the Lebanon Blue Line to the north and forms a border of less than 1 km with Jordan to the south. It straddles the Purple Line which separates the Israeli – occupied Golan Heights from Syria . The west Israeli side of this line is known as “Alpha”, and the east Syrian side as “Bravo.”

Speaking at the U.S. military base Fort Dix on Monday, President Obama warned those who “threaten America ” that they “will have no safe haven,” but that is exactly what Israel is providing them.

Israeli “interaction” has practically helped the UNDOF “to relocate” from Bravo to Alpha and to hand Bravo as a safe haven over to an al-Nusra Front – led coalition of terrorist groups.

Al-Nusra Front is officially the al – Qaeda affiliate in Syria . U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Committee on Foreign relations on this December 9 that his administration considers the IS to be a branch of al – Qaeda operating under a different name. Both terrorist groups were one under the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and only recently separated. Whoever accommodates either one is in fact courting the other.

“The 1,200-strong UN force is now mostly huddled inside Camp Ziouani , a drab base just inside the Israeli – controlled side of the Golan Heights . Its patrols along the de facto border have all but ceased,” the Associated Press (AP) reported on last September 18.

Israeli air force and artillery intervened several times to protect the al-Nusra Front’s “safe haven” against fire power from Syria, which is still committed to its ceasefire agreement of 1974 with Israel. Last September for example, Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that was bombing the Front’s positions, only three weeks after shooting down a Syrian drone over the area.

Israel is not violating the Syrian sovereignty only, but violating also the UN – sponsored ceasefire agreement and the UNSC anti-terror resolutions. More important, Israel is in fact undermining the UNDOF mandate on the Israeli – occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

This situation could only be interpreted as an Israeli premeditated war by proxy on the UN presence on the Golan Heights .

“Israel is the most interested in having (UN) peacekeepers evacuated from the occupied Golan so as to be left without international monitoring,” Syria ’s permanent envoy to the UN, Bashar al- Jaafari, told reporters on September 17.

The UNSC seems helpless or uninterested in defending the UNDOF mandate on the Golan against Israeli violations, which risk the collapse of the 1974 ceasefire arrangements.

Syrian Foreign Ministry was on record to condemn these violations as a “declaration of war,” asserting that Syria reserves its right to retaliate “at the right moment and the right place.” Obviously a regional outbreak is at stake here without the UN presence as a buffer.

Upgrading unanimously Israel ’s status from a “major non – NATO ally” to a “major strategic partner” of the United States by the U.S. Congress on December 3 could explain the UNSC inaction.

The undeclared understanding between the Syrian government and the U.S. – led coalition against the self – declared “Islamic State” (IS) not to target the latter’s forces seems to have left this mission to Israel who could not join the coalition publicly for subjective as well as objective reasons.

The AP on September 18 did not hesitate to announce that the “collapse of UN peacekeeping mission on Golan Heights marks new era on Israel – Syria front.” Aron Heller, the writer of the AP report, quoted the former Israeli military liaison officer with UNDOF, Stephane Cohen, as saying: “Their mandate is just not relevant anymore.” Heller concluded that this situation “endangers” the “status quo,” which indeed has become a status quo ante.

Israeli strategic gains

The emerging fait accompli seems very convenient to Israel , creating positive strategic benefits for the Hebrew state and arming it with a pretext not to withdraw the IOF from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and Palestinian territories.

In an analysis paper published by The Saban Center at Brookings in November 2012, Itamar Rabinovich wrote that, “Clearly, the uncertainty in Syria has put the question of the Golan Heights on hold indefinitely. It may be a long time until Israel can readdress the prospect of giving the Golan back to Damascus .”

Moreover, according to Rabinovich, “the Syrian conflict has the potential to bring the damaged Israeli – Turkish relationship closer to normalcy … they can find common ground in seeking to foster a stable post – Assad government in Syria.”

The hostile Turkish insistence on toppling the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, the concentration of the IS and other rebel forces in the north of the country and in central, eastern and southern Syria are diverting the potential and focus of the Syrian Arab Army northward and inward, away from the western front with the Israeli occupying power on the Golan Heights.

The protracted war on the Syrian government is depleting its army in manpower and materially. Rebuilding the Syrian army and the devastated Syrian infrastructure will preoccupy the country for a long time to come and defuse any military threat to Israel for an extended time span.

On the Palestinian front, the rise of the IS has made fighting it the top U.S. priority in the Middle East, which led Aaron David Miller, a former adviser to several U.S. administrations on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, to warn in Foreign Policy early in September that the rise of the IS would pose “a serious setback to Palestinian hopes of statehood.”

The expected fallback internally of the post – war Syria would “hopefully” relieve Israel of the Syrian historical support for the Palestinian anti – Israeli occupation movements, at least temporarily.

Netanyahu on Sunday opened a cabinet meeting by explicitly using the IS as a pretext to evade the prerequisites of making peace. Israel “stands … as a solitary island against the waves of Islamic extremism washing over the entire Middle East,” he said, adding: “To force upon us” a timeframe for a withdrawal from the Israeli – occupied Palestinian territories, as proposed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the UN Security Council, “will bring the radical Islamic elements to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem. We will not allow this.”

Israel is also capitalising on the war on the IS to misleadingly portray it as identical with the Palestinian “Islamic” resistance movements because of their Islamic credentials. “When it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas,” Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on September 29.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories ([email protected]).

British Troops Returning to Iraq

December 17th, 2014 by Mark Blackwood

Britain’s armed forces are returning to the Middle East, reversing an earlier withdrawal from Iraq after more than a decade of war.

In September, there was a huge cross-party parliamentary vote to join the US-led war in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIL or ISIS). Since then, the Royal Air Force (RAF) has been carrying out air strikes and British troops, based in Iraqi Kurdistan, have been training the Peshmerga militia.

On Sunday, the Conservative/Liberal-Democrat government announced more troops will be sent back to Iraq. This followed the briefing earlier this month that a new British naval base will be constructed in Bahrain.

This military build-up should be viewed in the context of intensifying imperialist rivalries, as the world’s major powers seek to assert their interests in the Middle East and throughout the Eurasia region. Iraq is once again becoming the epicentre in this scramble for domination.

In November, as part of a rapid escalation of the war in Iraq and Syria, President Obama announced that the US would send another 1,500 troops to Iraq, effectively doubling the size of the US deployment. Just days prior to Britain’s Iraq troops disclosure, the German tabloid Bild reported that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere are putting forward draft legislation allowing for a significant expansion of the Bundeswehr (German army) deployment in Iraq. The report noted that the legislation provides for the posting of more than 100 armed German soldiers in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

How many British troops will be sent back to Iraq to support Washington’s Operation Inherent Resolve and where they will be based are to be decided by the UK National Security Council, comprising cabinet ministers, military chiefs and heads of intelligence. Reports suggest that up to 200 trainers, “force protection” paratroopers and Royal Armoured Corps personnel will be based in four camps to help rebuild and train the Iraqi National Army, which collapsed this year in the face of ISIS attacks.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the force could also include a unit of combat-ready soldiers. Speaking to the Telegraph , Fallon boasted that RAF aircraft had flown a “huge number” of missions “second only to the United States, five times as many as France.”

He told reporters: “Our role now, apart from air strikes, is increasingly going to be on training. In particular, it will mean dealing with car and truck bombs and roadside devices, as well as basic infantry skills.”

He added, “We are now looking to help them with that equipment and to run training with them in the four main training centres that the Americans are establishing.”

The UK also expects to be involved in training the Free Syrian Army, which has virtually collapsed, “taking them away from the front lines to Jordan or Saudi. We’re scoping that at the moment,” Fallon said.

The return to Iraq comes amid news that the International Criminal Court is to consider hundreds of new cases accusing British soldiers of abuse and torture of Iraqi men, women and children and the publication this Wednesday of an official report into mistreatment and deaths of Iraqi prisoners captured by the British Army in 2004.

The British Foreign Office unveiled plans for a new £15 million military base at Bahrain’s Mina Salman Port in the Persian Gulf. The move will massively expand the current capabilities of the port by 2016 and enable the UK government to secure permanent command of a forward operating base (FOB) for the Royal Navy.

The news was greeted by protests from the Shia majority in Bahrain, who view the new base as a reward for Britain turning a blind eye to human-rights abuses. Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, who is currently on bail for posting “offensive tweets,” said, “We have been struggling for many years and the British government has always taken the side of the oppressive regime and all the dictators in the Gulf region.”

Although the expansion of the port base will be funded by the Bahraini authorities, it will create the first permanent British military base in the Middle East since the UK formally withdrew from the region in 1971. This was the long-term outcome of the Suez crisis of 1956, in which Britain was forced into a humiliating retreat in the face of US pressure.

The phrase “East of Suez” is an expression in British political and military conversation that refers to imperial interests beyond the European theatre. As such, a permanent return to the region signifies a revival of the imperialistic ambitions of the British bourgeoisie. Fallon described the 1971 withdrawal as “short-termist” and proclaimed, “This is an extremely important region for us. We have commercial interests here but also political interests.”

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declared that Britain would have to play a greater role in helping Middle East states remain “stable” because of the US “pivot” towards the Asia-Pacific region. Prime Minister David Cameron referred to the Royal Navy as keeping “the arteries of trade of the global economy from hardening”

The new facilities will strengthen British military operations in the Persian Gulf, via the deployment of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers, frigates and aircraft carriers, including the two new flagship carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. Both are currently under construction and have been described as “the biggest and most powerful warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy.”

It also “means you can have bigger air support to bring into the battlefield,” according to Riad Kahwaji, founder and chief executive of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai. The “bigger air support” Kahwaji describes will come from the Lockheed Martin F35 short take-off and vertical landing stealth jetfighter. The British government has placed 40 of these killing machines, described as “the world’s most advanced stealth fighter bomber,” on order.

General Sir Nicholas Houghton, the head of the British armed forces, said, “It’s the strategic importance of this. Rather than just being seen as a temporary deployment to an area for a specific operational purpose, this is more symbolic of the fact that Britain does enjoy interests in the stability of this region.”

A 2013 report published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) military think tank outlined the future trajectory of Britain’s imperial ambitions. Titled, “A Return to East of Suez? UK Military Deployment to the Gulf,” the report discusses the Royal Navy’s “active interest in Bahrain.”

It goes on to explain that the RAF was set to use the Al-Minhad air base in Dubai as “a hub not only for the 2014 draw-down in Afghanistan, but as an overseas base of some standing in the future.”

The air base would go some way to meeting concerns that withdrawal from Afghanistan has badly affected the ability of British troops to maintain their readiness for “hot and dry conditions warfare.”

The RUSI document outlined the potential of Britain’s return to the Gulf by arguing that it “could be seen as a new geopolitical expression of the US-UK special relationship–perhaps designed to emphasise to Washington the value of an enduring, if changed, special relationship with the UK.”

It predicted that the return to the Gulf will be a prelude to further British military expansion, declaring that it “will likely create opportunities for further engagement in the region incorporating the Indian Ocean and the sub-continent.”

Late on Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to introduce sanctions against Venezuela.

The bill was also passed by the Senate on Monday, and White House officials have indicated that President Barack Obama will sign the bill into law, although it was not specified when.

The Venezuelan Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act seeks to sanction high ranking Venezuelan officials accused of being responsible for human rights abuses during the opposition unrest movement earlier this year. Primarily, it will sanction such officials with a visa ban and a freeze on any U.S. assets they possess.

Democrat senator Robert Menendez, the Act’s main sponsor, said of the bill’s passage that, “The absence of justice and the denial of human rights in Venezuela must end, and the U.S. Congress is playing a powerful part in righting this wrong”.

The Act also calls for a U.S. government strategy to increase funding for and availability of anti-government media in Venezuela, including utilizing the Voice of America for this end. The bill states that U.S. foreign policy should aim to “continue to support the development of democratic political processes and independent civil society in Venezuela”.

Investigative journalist Eva Golinger has documented how over the last twelve years U.S. government agencies have provided well over $100 million to opposition groups in Venezuela for their activities.

The Venezuelan government rejects the Act’s narrative of the opposition’s unrest movement from February to May this year, which led to 43 deaths, including members of security forces and supporters of both sides. It states that the opposition was responsible for violence against civilians and public infrastructure, and that the unrest was aimed at provoking a state coup.

Officials also argue that members of security forces accused of abuses against opposition activists were investigated and detained.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro slammed the proposed sanctions yesterday, stating, “If the crazy path of sanctions is imposed, President Obama, I think you’re going to come out looking very bad…Who is the U.S. Senate to sanction the homeland of (independence leader Simon) Bolivar?”

The U.S. bill comes on top of other sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Venezuela this year, namely a tightened restriction on “military end use” exports to the South American country in November, and the application of a visa ban on a group of unnamed Venezuelan officials by presidential order in July.

The sanctions policy stands at odds with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, which have either backed Nicolas Maduro’s administration or have supported efforts to establish fresh dialogue between the government and opposition.

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which counts Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua among its members, issued a statement on Thursday opposing the proposed U.S. sanctions.

“The countries of the ALBA wish to emphasise that they won’t allow the utilisation of old practices already applied in the region which are directed at fomenting a change in political regime. In this sense, we express our deepest support and solidarity with the people and government of Venezuela,” read the strongly worded statement.

The Venezuelan officials who would be sanctioned by the bill have not been named, however Republican senator Marco Rubio recently issued a list of 27 names he suggested should be included.

One of those on Rubio’s list is Jose Vielma Mora, the socialist party governor of Tachira state, which was one of the epicenters of the opposition’s militant street barricades during the unrest earlier this year.

“In some ways I’m happy to be on that list, because it means that I will become a Venezuelan patriot that defended peace and true democracy,” he said to local media in response to the news of the proposed sanctions.

The diplomatic pressure by the U.S. comes at a difficult economic moment for Venezuela, as a 38% fall in oil prices squeezes the country’s finances and compounds problems of product shortages and high inflation.

According to Bloomberg, Venezuelan bond prices have fallen to levels not seen in 16 years, while Wall Street estimates the probability of default at 93%.

In response to the high interest rates on borrowing this entails for Venezuela, Maduro said on Monday, “There is a financial blockade against Venezuela meant to impede our access to the financing we need to overcome the decrease in petroleum revenue”. He also denounced the “psychological and political” manipulation of Venezuela’s position in the global market.

The shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 came into greater focus with theDecember 15 YouTube video featuring a former crew member of BUK self-propelled fire installation, number 312 (BUK 312). Ukraine’s government and others maintained that the BUK 312 unit shot down MH17 while manned by a resistance crew.   The Obama administration championed that narrative holding both the resistance and Russia responsible for the 298 deaths on July 17. The interview was conducted by investigative journalist Anatoly Sharij and translated by Marina Stewart (see full test in English at end of this article).   (Image: BUK 312 in Kiev junta territory – Anatoly Sharij)

The 23-year-old former BUK 312 crew member revealed that the missile unit was in fact manned by the Ukraine military. He outlines the missile system’s location and how it operated.   The former sergeant also offered analysis and research indicating the very low probability that the 312 crew shot down MH17.

Claims that the eastern Ukraine resistance shot down MH 17 with a BUK system rely on a Ukraine government audiotape in which resistance commanders allegedly admit to the shoot down. The tape lost credibility when it was discovered that a key part of the recording was made hours before the crash. In addition, the tape was patched together, not a continuous conversation.

The Ukraine secret service (SBU) claimed to produce photographs of a Russian BUK 312 missile system fully capable of knocking MH17 out of the skies. When that evidence failed to pass muster, an “open source” investigation by Eliot Higgins (also known as Brown Moses) allegedly produced evidence that the BUK 312 system was in the town of Snizhne in the Donetsk region controlled by the resistance.

If the BUK 312 was in Snizhne, as claimed, with a capable resistance crew, both doubtful assumptions, we would need to believe that the crew did nothing to protect Snizhne on July 15 (just two days before the MH17 shoot down) when Ukraine’s air force leveled major sections of the city (BBC, July 15).

The real story of who, how, and why MH 17 was destroyed is emerging over time. The interview adds evidence that deserves serious consideration. The former soldier, known as “A,” described his role in the Ukraine military and how the BUK 312 unit was staffed:

“I am 23, and I have been in contract service with the Ukrainian army. Last summer the contract term came to an end, but I was not dismissed from service for reasons well known to you. My duty station was the exact BUK self-propelled fire installation (Russian abbreviation transliterated as SOU – translator) number 312…”

A says that BUK 312 unit had a four member crew. He was the “deputy commander.” The unit started out in “Lugansk and [was] relocated to Kramatorsk. Donetsk.”   The former deputy commander explains the origin of the 312 label:

This is how you decipher 312:

3 stands for the third (Lugansk) division,
1 stands for the battery number, ours was no. 1,
2 stands for one of the 2. service units in each battery, ours was no. 2.

Interviewer Sharij asks: “This BUK 312 was said to be a Russian missile launcher.”

A responds: “No. This BUK is 100% Ukrainian one. … It made us all laugh, the way SBU presented this as BUK of the rebels or Russian BUK.”

AS: What do you think about this BUK downing the Malaysian Boeing?

A: No clue. By the time it happened I was transferred to Avdeevka division. I only heard SBU [Ukraine secret police] say this particular missile launcher with board number 312 downed the Boeing. All I know it couldn’t have done this. I spoke with my ex-comrades in arms and they said they didn’t do it.

In the days after the shoot down, Robert Parry reported government sources saying that their evidence indicated that a Ukrainian missile crew shot down MH 17. Reporting by Eric Zeusse followed up indicating credibility to the claim that a Ukraine fighter jet shot down the civilian airliner.

The speculation over the BUK 312 system may have just been a smokescreen to divert attention away from the real culprit, whomever that may be.   A review of the full interview shows the value of direct testimony by involved parties.

Creative Commons

FULL TRANSCRIPT – Anatoly Sharij interview with former BUK 312 crew member Posted Dec 17, 2014, YouTube Translation Marina Stewart

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri_D2Iz7EVw

Anatoly Sharij: You may still remember the BUK which photo was published by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) as a Russian one. You may also remember me dwelling on it. I received a lot of feedback saying I was lying etc. Here’s an interview with Ukrainian contract sergeant crossing “t’s” and dotting “i’s”.

Anatoly Sharij (AS): Good afternoon.

A: Good afternoon. Good to be talking to you. I have been watching your videos for quite some time now, and I have to say you do uncover the truth.

I am 23, and I have been in contract service with the Ukrainian army. Last summer the contract term came to an end, but I was not dismissed from service for reasons well known to you. My duty station was the exact BUK self-propelled fire installation (Russian abbreviation transliterated as SOU – translator) number 312 you made your video about, I happened to recently come across it on the Internet.

The SOU has 4 crew members: service commander, me as deputy commander, driver and operator. This SOU 312 you made your video about was dislocated in Lugansk and your video shows it being relocated to Kramatorsk. Donetsk has a surface-to-air missile regiment having these BUK M1 on the inventory. The regiment consists of three divisions:

(1) in Avdeevka
(2) in Mariupol
(3) in Lugansk

This is how you decipher 312:

3 stands for the third (Lugansk) division,
1 stands for the battery number, ours was no. 1,
2 stands for one of the 2. service units in each battery, ours was no. 2.

BUK is a complex of 4 specialized military vehicles: command post, mobile target detection and assignment station, loading and starting station, self-propelled fire installation.

At the time the Boeing was downed I was out of army already, so I can’t say anything about it, but when it all began in the Crimea, this capture of military units, we’ve been ordered to leave our permanent disposition in Lugansk.

AS: This BUK 312 was said to be a Russian missile launcher.

A: No. This BUK is 100% Ukrainian one. The photo I sent you, the one with Yubileynaya mines on the background, has been made in Lugansk. (3’49”)

Our military unit was dislocated in Metallist settlement, on the upland near Lugansk, and this is the view from there. It made us all laugh, the way SBU presented this as BUK of the rebels or Russian BUK.

AS: What do you think about this BUK downing the Malaysian Boeing?

A: No clue. By the time it happened I was transferred to Avdeevka division. I only heard SBU [Ukraine secret police] say this particular missile launcher with board number 312 downed the Boeing. All I know it couldn’t have done this. I spoke with my ex-comrades in arms and they said they didn’t do it.

The first relocation of our Lugansk division was to Kramatorsk military airdrome. We’ve been allocated barracks there. In a month we’ ve been moved into the fields in Dnepropetrovskaya Oblast, Novaya Grigorievka village.

The photo you showed in one of your videos, the bad quality one (5’50”) was taken when our SOU commander decided to drive it, but the electric wiring inside the SOU ignited. The missiles nearly exploded, but luckily firefighters came on time to put the fire down. That’s why it was moved on the low-base semi-trailer as seen in the picture.

Let me tell you some about the Ukrainian army. While in the fields, the officers were boozing heavily, while soldiers and sergeants were not allowed to go to the nearby shop. I was actually planning to quit after my first contract term, but they wouldn’t let me. Being a straight shooter, I was outraged at this, so they started to pressure me, pitted other soldiers against me. The situation in general was very depressing, people kept deserting, many went over to the rebels, I, too, went to the hospital in Kharkov and just didn’t come back. The border is close there.

AS: What do you think was the purpose of using BUK at all in the combat area?

A: I don’t know. Initially this withdrawal may have been done to avoid BUK capture. Then, I suppose, this may have been due to shortage of manpower on the front…

AS: Strange….

A: But this is

A: But this is my guess only, for even officers didn’t know it, so it seemed, may be only commanding officer and chief of staff knew the reason. I am still unaware why would they want to do this, for BUK air missile launchers are deployed against airborne targets, the rebels have no aviation, so we are useless for ATO [“anti terrorist operation[ purposes. They did move some people from our division to ATO, a major general came to talk to those who were unwilling to take part in this campaign, I said I don’t want to go as I see no sense in it, besides, I already served my term, so I was transferred 80 kilometres away, to Vasilkovka village, to where 1st Avdeevka BUK division was.

When we left Lugansk, only three unusable complexes remained there, and those which did leave Lugansk, also broke down right after leaving the city, some were repaired en route, others were transported on low-base semi-trailers. Those which were left in Lugansk, lacked whole equipment units.

AS: but one must be able to use these…

A: So far as I could gather they do have professionals there. My friends in Lugansk when passing the military unit saw through the fence rebels trying to repair the complexes.

AS: What’s your opinion as a professional, who may have downed the Boeing?

A: Judging by firing zone, Ukrainian army did it.

AS: And the purpose?

A: No idea. I only know the kind of professionals they are, it could have happened unintentionally.

AS: What do you mean, unintentionally? They should have been given coordinates, the height, the speed of the target etc., it isn’t just a matter of pressing a button, is it?

A: Exactly. There’s a friend or foe comms exchange between the complex units, so you are right, it couldn’t have happened accidentally.

AS: Why firing at all then? They couldn’t have thought it was the rebels jet fighter, right?

A: I agree.

In general Ukrainian army lacks qualified manpower badly, many people just left the army, my friends are in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Rostov, elsewhere…

(Laughing)

One can’t get dismissed from service no matter what he does. If you abstain from entry on duty or, say, curse everyone, you won’t be dismissed. Many people just desert the army.

AS: And how are they accounted for? As missing?

A: It’s a mystery to me. But we had 15 sergeants and now only three are left, all of them are in ATO zone. They used to send some people to ATO from all our divisions before, now one of the divisions in full is there. I can’t make out why would they want BUK divisions there, rebels still don’t have jet fighters. It must really be shortage of soldiers, you have a video on rioting conscripts having exceeded their term of service by 8 months.

AS: Yeah, they have all been labeled Kremlin spies when they raised this issue with their commanders. A real Ukrainian should be willing to serve in the army for 2, 3, 5 years…

A: …for 154 hrivnyas a month…

I am not scared of anything and I have nothing to conceal.

Wish you new uncovering videos!

END of transcript

 - Michael Collins is a Washington DC area writer, researcher, and citizen journalist.  Today, Collins is focused on the propaganda and massive deception by the Obama administration and its NATO partners regarding the coup in Ukraine and attack by the U.S. supported government against its own people. Collins is a featured contributor to OpEdNews, one of top 100 political web sites on the internet. His home page ishttp://opednews.com/michaelcollins

A terrorist attack Tuesday by the Tehreek-e-Taliban or Pakistan Taliban on a military-supported public school in Peshawar in north-west Pakistan left more than 150 people dead—the vast majority of them children.

The attack was clearly designed to inflict the maximum loss of civilian life. It reportedly involved seven men, several or all of them wearing suicide bombs. Around 10 a.m. local time, the assailants hopped a wall to gain access to the school, then stormed inside. On entering a first-floor assembly area filled with students, they opened fire. Explosions followed.

The school became the scene of a firefight, as Pakistan’s military forces, which have facilities nearby, intervened and set about capturing the school.

Exchanges of gunfire continued for hours. Only at the end of the afternoon did Pakistani authorities announce they had secured the school.

How the attack ensued or even how the attackers were ultimately killed remains almost completely unknown. A Reuters report noted: “It was not clear whether some or all of the children were killed by gunmen, suicide bombs or in the ensuing battle with Pakistani security forces trying to gain control of the (school) building.”

The dead include at least 132 children—most reportedly 13, 14 and 15 years-olds; nine teachers and school staff; one Pakistani military commando; and the seven attackers. The attack also left more than 120 wounded, many seriously.

The Army Public School and College receives financial support from the military and is attended by sons and daughters of military personnel stationed in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. However, it is a public school open to the general population and most of its more than 1,000 students hail from civilian families.

In claiming responsibility for the horrific attack, a Pakistan Taliban spokesman said it was in retaliation for the Pakistani military’s offensive in North Waziristan and more recently Khyber, two districts of Pakistan’s Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). “We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” declared Muhammad Umar Khorasani. “We want them to feel the pain.”

The military’s brutal assault in North Waziristan, at the behest of Washington and in close partnership with the Pentagon and CIA, is the unreported war. The Western media did report its launch last June, but since then have not deemed it worthy of coverage.

Yet this war has the hands of the US all over it. It is being waged with the aim of militarily squeezing the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, another Islamist militia opposed to the US occupation of Afghanistan and the US client regime in Kabul.

For a decade, the US has demanded that Pakistan subjugate the traditionally autonomous FATA, so as to deny the Afghan Taliban a “safe haven.” The first military offensive, ordered by the US-back dictator General Musharraf in 2004, gave rise to the Pakistan Taliban—a FATA-based, Pashtun anti-Pakistan government Islamist insurgency that is in alliance with, but distinct, from the Afghan Taliban.

Last June, without any warning to the civilian population, Pakistan’s military launched aerial and artillery bombardments of alleged terrorist hideouts in North Waziristan, many in densely populated areas. Three days later, the military ordered a pause, but only to order the district’s entire population to evacuate the area within little more than 48 hours. Those who did not flee, announced the military with the government’s full support, would be considered terrorists—in other words targeted for death.

Once its evacuation deadline passed, the military, which is notorious for its human rights abuses, including “disappearances” and collective punishments of FATA residents, resorted to its standard practice of indiscriminate attacks, flattening schools and whole villages. Later, the offensive was extended to parts of Khyber, resulting in a new flood of internal refugees.

Six months on, most of North Waziristan’s almost one million residents remain displaced. While some have found shelter with family or friends in neighbouring districts of Pakistan or even Afghanistan, at least 700,000 people are living in squalid refugee camps. Due to a combination of callous indifference and incompetence, the refugees have little government support and remain housed in tents, despite the onset of winter.

Washington’s close involvement in the military offensive is underscored by the fact that just days before its launch, the US conducted its first drone strikes in Pakistan in six months, with multiple attacks in North Waziristan.

US drones have continued to rain down death ever since, slaughtering women, children and other non-combatants, and terrorizing the population, as has been documented in numerous studies, including from the UN.

Pakistan’s political and military leaders were quick to seize on yesterday’s atrocity as the pretext for intensifying the offensive. “The fight will continue,” vowed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “No one should have any doubt about it. We will take account of each and every drop of our children’s blood.”

In the evening, a Pakistan military spokesman tweeted that the military had carried out raids and ten air strikes in Khyber.

Western leaders also sought to exploit yesterday’s tragic events to justify aggression, including the US’s new war in the Mideast. US President Barack Obama, who has presided over drone strikes that have killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Pakistanis and who has ordered the US national-security apparatus to arm Islamists to spearhead regime change in Libya and Syria, producing a vortex of sectarian conflict and chaos, feigned outrage. “By targeting students and teachers in this heinous act, terrorists,” Obama said, “have once again shown their depravity.”

Obama pledged to strengthen the reactionary alliance between Washington and Islamabad that has seen the US back one Pakistani military dictator after another and use Pakistan as a satrap in its predatory foreign policy for the past six decades.

The Washington-Islamabad axis has proved ruinous for the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Taliban, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan, are among its products.

During the 1980s, the US, in league with Pakistani intelligence and the Saudi monarchy, organized, financed and armed the Afghan mujahedeen, from which the Taliban ultimately emerged, to fight the pro-Soviet government in Kabul, as part of Washington’s renewed offensive against the Soviet Union.

This policy also entailed full-throated US support for the Pakistani dictator Zia-ul-Huq, who conducted a massive Islamization campaign so as to build up a reactionary counter-weight against the Pakistani working class.

Then in 2001, the Bush administration seized on the 9/11 attacks to implement a predetermined policy of imperialist aggression, aimed at shoring up US global hegemony amid a huge decline in its economic strength. Under threat of US attack, Pakistan broke its ties to the Taliban and became the military-logistical beachhead for Washington’s invasion of Afghanistan.

The ensuring 13 years have only seen crime piled upon crime. The US and its allies have waged a dirty colonial-style war to sustain a corrupt puppet regime in Kabul, while prevailing on Pakistan’s government to turn much of the country’s north-west into killing fields so as to bolster the Afghan occupation.

Workers’ outrage at yesterday’s attack should be directed first and foremost at those responsible, through decades of imperialist oppression, violence and geo-political machinations, for Islamist terrorism, beginning with the US elite, their Western co-conspirators and the venal communalist Pakistani bourgeoisie.

Taliban militants stormed an army public school in the northern city of Peshawar, killing over 100, including many young students. It is believed up to 10 militants took part in the attack, dressed as soldiers to first infiltrate the school’s grounds before beginning the attack.

While the details of the attack are forthcoming, the background of the Taliban and the persistent threat it represents is well established, though often spun across the Western media.

Who Put the Taliban into Power? Who is Funding them Now? 

In the 1980′s the United States, Saudi Arabia, and elements within the then Pakistani government funneled millions of dollars, weapons, equipment, and even foreign fighters into Afghanistan in a bid to oust Soviet occupiers. Representatives of this armed proxy front would even visit the White House, meeting President Ronald Reagan personally. (see image below)

The “Mujaheddin” would successfully expel the Soviet Union and among the many armed groups propped up by the West and its allies, the Taliban would establish primacy over Kabul. While Western media would have the general public believe the US rejected the Taliban, never intending them to come to power, it should be noted that the Afghans who visited Reagan in the 1980′s would not be the last to visit the US and cut deals with powerful American corporate-financier interests.

In 1997, Taliban representatives would find themselves in Texas, discussing a possible oil pipeline with energy company Unocal (now merged with Chevron). The BBC would report in a 1997 article titled, “Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline,” that:

A senior delegation from the Taleban movement in Afghanistan is in the United States for talks with an international energy company that wants to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan.

A spokesman for the company, Unocal, said the Taleban were expected to spend several days at the company’s headquarters in Sugarland, Texas.

Image: Unocal, now merged with Chevron, had attempted to build a pipeline across Afghanistan in cooperation with the Taliban and with the expressed backing of the US government – then operating under the Clinton administration. 

However, it was already claimed by the US that the Taliban had been “harboring” Osama Bin Laden since 1996, and had branded the Taliban’s human rights record as “despicable.” The Telegraph in an artile titled, “Oil barons court Taliban in Texas,” would report (emphasis added):

The Unocal group has one significant attraction for the Taliban – it has American government backing. At the end of their stay last week, the Afghan visitors were invited to Washington to meet government officials. The US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban’s policies against women and children “despicable”, appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract. The Taliban is likely to have been impressed by the American government’s interest as it is anxious to win international recognition. So far, it has been recognised only by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

It is clear that to the West, as they were during the proxy war against the Soviets, and during attempts to forge an oil pipeline across Afghan territory, the Taliban remain a tool, not an ally – to be used and abused whenever and however necessary to advance Wall Street and Washington’s agenda – a self-serving Machiavellian agenda clearly devoid of principles.

This can be seen in play, even now as the Taliban serve as a proxy force to torment the West’s political enemies in Pakistan with and serve as a perpetual justification for military intervention in neighboring Afghanistan.

The Global Post would reveal in a 2009 investigative report that the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan was mostly funded via redirected US aid. The report titled, “Who is funding the Afghan Taliban? You don’t want to know,” would state:

It is the open secret no one wants to talk about, the unwelcome truth that most prefer to hide. In Afghanistan, one of the richest sources of Taliban funding is the foreign assistance coming into the country.

The report would also reveal that Taliban members were in the capital city of Kabul, directly involved in redirecting the funds, apparently under the nose of occupying NATO forces:

A shadowy office in Kabul houses the Taliban contracts officer, who examines proposals and negotiates with organizational hierarchies for a percentage. He will not speak to, or even meet with, a journalist, but sources who have spoken with him and who have seen documents say that the process is quite professional. 

The manager of an Afghan firm with lucrative construction contracts with the U.S. government builds in a minimum of 20 percent for the Taliban in his cost estimates. The manager, who will not speak openly, has told friends privately that he makes in the neighborhood of $1 million per month. Out of this, $200,000 is siphoned off for the insurgents.

But the narrative of the “accidental” funding of Taliban militants in Afghanistan is betrayed when examining their counterparts in Pakistan and their source of funding. While the US funds roughly a billion USD a year to the Taliban in Afghanistan “accidentally,” their allies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia are confirmed to be funding the Taliban in Pakistan.

In the Guardian’s article, “WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists,” the US State Department even acknowledges that Saudi Arabia is indeed funding terrorism in Pakistan:

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.

“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” she said.

Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Pakistani terror organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – which maintains ties to the Taliban – has also been financially linked to the Persian Gulf monarchies. Stanford University’s “Mapping Militant Organizations: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,” states under “External Influences:”

LeJ has received money from several Persian Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates[25] These countries funded LeJ and other Sunni militant groups primarily to counter the rising influence of Iran’s revolutionary Shiism.  

Astonishingly, despite these admission, the US still works politically, financially, economically, and even militarily in tandem with these very same state-sponsors of rampant, global terrorism. In fact, Wall Street and Washington are among the chief architects and beneficiaries of this global terrorism.

Just as in Libya and Syria where the US and its Persian Gulf allies funded terrorist fronts in bids to overthrow each nation’s respective governments, this unholy alliance is working in Pakistan to create a militant front with which to menace political groups in Islamabad and reorder the country to reflect and serve their collective interests. And just as in Syria now, where the US feigns to be locked in battle with terrorists of their own creation, the fact that the US is funding their own enemy billions of dollars while allegedly fighting them in Afghanistan creates a perpetual conflict justifying their continued intervention in the region – overtly and covertly.

When a terrorist attack is carried out in Pakistan by the “Taliban,” it must then be looked at through this lens of global geopolitical reality. Attempts by the Western media to reduce this recent attack to mere “extremism,” preying on global audiences emotionally, provides impunity for the state-sponsors of the Taliban – those funding, arming, and directing their operations across the region, and then benefiting from their horrific consequences.

It appears, just as in Libya, Syria, and Iraq, the West and its allies are waging a proxy war in Pakistan as well. Attempts to exploit the tragedy in Peshawar compound this insidious agenda. Those across Pakistan’s political landscape must understand that their is no line these foreign interests are unwilling to cross in achieving their agenda – be it a line crossed at a perceived ally’s expense, or a perceived enemy’s expense.

Citigroup is the Wall Street mega bank that forced the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999; blew itself up as a result of the repeal in 2008; was propped back up with the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world even though it was insolvent and didn’t qualify for a bailout; has now written its own legislation to de-regulate itself; got the President of the United States to lobby for its passage; and received an up vote from both houses of Congress in less than a week.

And there is one more thing you should know at the outset about Citigroup: it didn’t just have a hand in bringing the country to its knees in 2008; it was a key participant in the 1929 collapse under the moniker National City Bank. Both the U.S. Senate’s investigation of the collapse of the financial system in 1929 and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) that investigated the 2008 collapse cited this bank as a key culprit.

The FCIC wrote:

“…we do not accept the view that regulators lacked the power to protect the financial system. They had ample power in many arenas and they chose not to use it. To give just three examples: the Securities and Exchange Commission could have required more capital and halted risky practices at the big investment banks. It did not. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and other regulators could have clamped down on Citigroup’s excesses in the run-up to the crisis. They did not. Policy makers and regulators could have stopped the runaway mortgage securitization train. They did not…Too often, they lacked the political will – in a political and ideological environment that constrained it – as well as the fortitude to critically challenge the institutions and the entire system they were entrusted to oversee.”

The words above from the FCIC also perfectly describe what just happened in Congress and the Oval Office. Citigroup snuck its deregulation legislation into the $1.1 trillion Cromnibus spending bill that will keep the government running through next September. (It’s called Cromnibus because it’s part Continuing Resolution or CR and part omnibus spending bill.) Just as the FCIC wrote about the reasons for the financial collapse, Citigroup was able to pass this outrageous deregulation legislation because the majority of Congress and the President “lacked the political will” and the “fortitude to critically challenge the institutions and the entire system they were entrusted to oversee.”

What Citigroup has now done with the willing participation of Congress and the President is to set the country up for the next financial collapse in which it appears destined to play another starring role, seeing that the Fed gave it a failing grade on its stress test this year. The legislation that was just passed by Congress allows Citigroup and other Wall Street banks to keep their riskiest assets – interest rate swaps and other derivatives – in the banking unit that is backstopped with FDIC deposit insurance, which is, in turn, backstopped by the U.S. taxpayer, thus ensuring another bailout of Citigroup if it blows itself up once again from soured derivative bets.

According to Bloomberg data, over the past five years – when Dodd-Frank financial reform was supposed to be making these mega banks safer – Citigroup has increased the notional amount of derivatives on its books by 69 percent. As of this past June, according to Bloomberg, “Citigroup had $62 trillion of open contracts, up from $37 trillion in June 2009.” That’s trillion with a “t.”

How much might Citigroup need from the taxpayer if it blows up again? According to the General Accountability Office, Citigroup received more bailout assistance than any other bank in the last collapse. On October 28, 2008, Citigroup received $25 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. Less than a month later it was back with hat in hand and received another $20 billion. But its finances were so shaky that it simultaneously needed another $306 billion in government asset guarantees. And on top of all that, the New York Fed was secretly funneling it over $2 trillion in emergency loans at interest rates frequently below 1 percent.

Read more…

Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with the President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sergei Katyrin to discuss the organisation of international business forums, particularly within the framework of the SCO and BRICS, and prospects for the development of the exhibition industry in Russia.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Katyrin, you are heading the business councils of two international organisations – theShanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS – that bring together business community representatives of the organisations’ member states. How are things going there? Do you need any support from presidential agencies or the Government?

PRESIDENT OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION SERGEI KATYRIN: Thank you, Mr President.

You are right. We have a unique opportunity this year both on the political level and on the Business Councils in connection with our presidency of the two organisations. We would like to make use of this primarily in the interests of Russian business. Therefore, our proposals are somewhat unusual.

We have an extensive programme both for the SCO Business Council and BRICS, though we would like to divide the main events into two parts.

First, we would like to hold the SCO and BRICS business forums simultaneously and invite businessmen to the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Before the Forum will begin its work, we suggest holding a meeting of the business circles on the forum’s sidelines on its first day.

The second thing we would like to do is also not quite usual, though it may become a tradition. In addition to the traditional working groups functioning within BRICS and the SCO, we would like to invite representatives of the member states’ main exhibition sites.

We have set several targets here. First, we would like to establish an information exchange on who is holding exhibitions and when. Then, based on this information exchange, we could synchronise our activities, adjust our schedules so as not to stand in each other’s way at major international exhibitions and congresses, especially when these are held in neighbouring countries. Thirdly, we would like this meeting of the exhibition community to consider any joint exhibitions that could be arranged for SCO and BRICS states, or possibly both, by joining our efforts in areas that are of interest to the business community. The countries could take turns hosting some of the exhibitions. This could apply to the existing schedules of the main exhibitions venues and sites in our countries.

And fourthly, we would like to discuss the possibility of establishing a council that would coordinate exhibitions, congresses and fairs both within BRICS and the SCO.

We are currently working on these programmes and discussing them with our colleagues. I believe we will succeed, but apart from that, we will offer our colleagues attending this meeting the opportunity to take part in the SPIEF’s key events that will begin on the following day.

Naturally, we would like to invite not only businessmen from the BRICS and SCO states and members of the business councils, but also our partners from the SCO observer nations. We could invite them to this meeting via our partners’ chambers of commerce and industry or via the main unions and associations we cooperate with. This would offer great opportunities for Russian businesses and new contacts for the visiting entrepreneurs. I hope they would like to meet both Russian business representatives and those who come to attend the SPIEF.

We suggest holding the second part of this event in Ufa – that it the BRICS and SCO Business Council meeting itself. And here we have a request for you. There is a tradition, as you may know, for the BRICS leaders to meet with the BRICS Business Council. We want to ask you to include a meeting with BRICS business representatives on the Ufa event’s agenda. They made this request as well. We support it and we would like you to schedule this meeting.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Do you mean a meeting of the heads of BRICS member states’ delegations?

SERGEI KATYRIN: Yes. I am sure our colleagues on the business councils would like to have this meeting as much as we do.

As you may remember, at our previous meeting in Fortaleza this year we presented all the leaders with the annual report. The next report will also be prepared. In February, we are meeting with our partners in Brazil. Their presidency is not over yet, they will pass it on to us in February and among other things, we will discuss the annual report that we intend to present to state leaders in Ufa.

We also maintain remote contact with our BRICS colleagues – they are rather far away and it is not so easy to communicate with them. As was suggested by the Russian delegation last year, when we were working with the South Africans on a number of issues, we agreed to communicate using the Internet and telecommunications.

We get together at meetings; we remotely draft documents, including the annual report and its sections, within working groups. Then we meet to discuss them. At the meeting in Brazil in February, we will have such a discussion of everything we will have developed by that time and what we will later present to the heads of state.

In other words, we are working on these two blocks in addition to the existing programmes (for various working groups and so forth). We have coordinated our actions with the Foreign Ministry and had discussions with the Presidential Executive Office. We have reached full mutual understanding and support on these issues, and our only request is to schedule a meeting with the business community. They would like this very much.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Fine.

SERGEI KATYRIN: I would also like to discuss a few issues pertaining to exhibitions, if I may.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, of course.

SERGEI KATYRIN: As you may know, Mr President, in Soviet times the development of exhibition sites and venues in the regions (not only in the Soviet Union, but in Russia as well) was not very active. All the exhibition sites were located mainly in two cities: Moscow and St Petersburg. In Moscow, this was the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy, the Expocentre and the Sokolniki, and in St Petersburg we had Lenexpo.

Today we have started developing exhibition sites on the territory of the Russian Federation practically from scratch after Soviet times. Our opportunities here are limited so far, firstly because these things take time to build, and secondly because we intend to do it strictly on a public-private partnership basis.

When you took part in the Board meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, you instructed the Industry and Trade Ministry jointly with the CCI to develop a concept for developing exhibition and fair activities in the Russian Federation. Together with the Ministry, we have prepared the concept and the Government of the Russian Federation approved it.

However, we are currently having certain problems implementing it. Today, property tax (the tax on land and assets) is based on cadastral value. This value nowadays is such that the burden on certain facilities has grown significantly, thus the tax burden on the Expocentre has gone up 2.4 times this year, and it will grow another 2.75 times next year and so on. For taxation purposes, exhibition sites are equal in terms of their cadastral value to commercial, office or residential space. Obviously, the profitability of those spaces and of exhibitions is different.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Have you discussed this with the Government?

SERGEI KATYRIN: Yes, we have, and not only with the Government. We had a discussion with the Russian Popular Front (ONF) prior to their forum, though we did not have a chance to raise it with you during the meeting.

Cadastral value is a concern for many, for small businesses and others. However, we are raising it in regard to exhibitions…

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I see, the profit rate is different.

SERGEI KATYRIN: Yes, the rate of return is different.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Have you documented it in any way?

SERGEI KATYRIN: Yes, we have prepared our proposals.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let us see them.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned at almost midnight on Sat., Dec. 13, culminating a tumultuous week of demonstrations, diplomatic theater, and backroom political maneuvering.

But the move, which some opposition leaders had known was coming for about two weeks, was too little, too late. Another giant march of thousands surged through Port-au-Prince on Dec. 16, the 24th anniversary of the 1990 landslide victory of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, demanding President Michel Martelly’s resignation and the immediate withdrawal of the remaining 6,600 United Nations military occupation troops deployed in Haiti since June 2004 as the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH).

“Lamothe was just the smallest part of a trinity holding Haiti down,” said Oxygène David of the Dessalines Coordination (KOD), a party formed in February. “The other two elements are Martelly and MINUSTAH. They also must go for Haiti to have democracy and sovereignty.”

Jordanian MINUSTAH soldiers fired leveled weapons at a huge anti-Martelly demonstration on Dec. 12 in Port-au-Prince, killing one man, Jean Mario, and wounding several others, including Monvil Gétro, Vladimir Castry, and Jeanel Pierre. Several videos,which have already had tens of thousands of views, show UN soldiers pointing and shooting directly at protestors, who respond with jeering, chanting, and rock-throwing.

The demonstrations of Operation Burkina Faso, as the uprising is called, continued in the capital on Dec. 13 but were dispersed by police gunfire and teargas at the Champ de Mars in downtown Port-au-Prince. A video by Le Nouvelliste shows the body of a demonstrator who had been clearly shot through the chest. According to the Miami Herald, police spokesman Gary Desrosiers said “no one died” and “there were no great incidents,” claiming that police were investigating the death. He told the Herald it looked like people “put the body there.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry cancelled his planned Dec. 12 visit to Haiti due to the unrest and the failure of two State Department officials, Thomas Shannon and Thomas Adams, to broker a deal during their visit last week trying to keep the Martelly regime from crumbling.

Praise for Lamothe from U.S. Ambassador Pamela White and former President Bill Clinton also helped fan the flames of rebellion. “This is the most consistent and decisive government I’ve ever worked with across a broad range of issues,” Clinton told the Herald, enraging many Haitians.

There were also demonstrations on Dec. 12 and 13 in Cap Haïtien, Gonaïves, Ouanaminthe, and Petit Goâve, where daily demonstrations block National Road #2 to the south. Martelly partisans such as former Sen. Youri Latortue in Gonaïves, deputy Kenston Jean-Baptiste in Cap Haïtien, and deputy Luckner Noël in Ouanaminthe tried to disperse demonstrators by firing weapons from official vehicles, wounding several people. But the uprising is in full swing, and such repression, like that of the Tonton Macoutes trying to save the Duvalier dictatorship in early 1986, is just gasoline on the fire.

In his resignation speech, which was broadcast just after 1:30 in the morning, Lamothe made no mention of the demonstrations rocking the country but just listed the supposed accomplishments of his 31 months in office, during which he burned through $5.5 billion in international aid to Haiti while the population fell deeper into poverty and hunger. It sounded more like a campaign speech for the presidential run many expect he will mount in late 2015.

In a Dec. 15 interview with Bloomberg News, Lamothe said that “the opposition, of course, is never going to want the government to succeed” and blamed the political crisis on six senators who “have been sitting on the electoral law for the past nine months… so Haiti cannot have elections.” He also struck a martyr-like pose, saying he had made the “ultimate sacrifice” to “clear the way forward for elections” and had no plans “right now” for any presidential bid.

“As I always said, I would never be part of the problem, and I would always be part of the solution to Haiti’s problems,” Lamothe said. “Being Prime Minister for 31 months, actually the longest serving Prime Minister, it was never about, you know, myself, it was always about Haiti and about the country moving forward.”

(One of the gems of the interview came from the Bloomberg interviewer herself who asked: “The fact that the opposition party, just as you said, will never want to see the government succeed, why don’t we focus on that? Shouldn’t that be a reason to nullify this opposition party? Because you need a strong government…”)

“Lamothe was in fact one of the links in the chain of catastrophes which have battered the country since May 14, 2011,” when Martelly was inaugurated, wrote Berthony Dupont in Haïti Liberté’s editorial this week. “But nothing has really been accomplished as long as Martelly remains in power.”

A Full-Blown Economic Crisis Has Erupted in Russia

December 17th, 2014 by Michael Snyder

The 8th largest economy on the entire planet is in a state of turmoil right now.  The shocking collapse of the price of oil has hit a lot of countries really hard, but very few nations are as dependent on energy production as Russia is.  Sales of oil and natural gas account for approximately two-thirds of all Russian exports and approximately 50 percent of all government revenue.

So it should be no surprise that the fact that the price of oil has declined by almost 50 percent since June is absolutely catastrophic for the Russian economy.  And when you throw in international sanctions, wild money printing by the Central Bank of Russia and unprecedented capital flight, you get the ingredients for an almost perfect storm.  But those of us living in the western world should not be too smug about what is happening in Russia, because the nightmare that is unfolding over there is just a preview of the economic chaos that will soon envelop the whole world.

So far this year, the Russian ruble has fallen nearly 50 percent against the U.S. dollar.  That is a monumental shift.  And as the collapse of the ruble has accelerated in recent days, we are seeing scenes in Russia that are reminiscent of the Weimar Republic.  For example, just consider the following excerpt from an article that just appeared in the New York Times

Scenes that Russians hoped had receded into the past reappeared on the streets: Currency exchange signs blinked ever-changing digits, and Russians rushed to appliance stores to buy washing machines or televisions to unload rubles.

“We are seeing an economic crisis,” Natalia V. Akindinova, a professor at the Higher School of Economics, said in a telephone interview. “We are seeing a sharp devaluation of the ruble at a time when the central bank doesn’t have the reserves to influence the market, as it did in the past crises.”

In a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding, the Central Bank of Russia made an astounding move.  Last night it raised its key interest rate from 10.5 percent all the way up to 17 percent.

It was hoped that this desperate move would keep the ruble from plummeting any further.

And it did work for a few minutes, but then the collapse of the ruble resumed.  This is how Zero Hedge described the carnage…

For those wondering if the CBR’s intervention in the Russian FX market with its shocking emergency rate hike to 17% overnight calmed things, the answer is yes… for about two minutes. The USDRUB indeed tumbled nearly 10% to 59 and then promptly blew right back out, the Ruble crashing in panic selling and seemingly without any CBR market interventions, and at last check was freefalling through 72 74, and sending the Russian stock market plummeting by over 15%.

So why is this happening now?

Well, the biggest reason for the freefall of the ruble is the fact that the Central Bank of Russia just printed up about 625 billion rubles and gave it to their friends at Rosneft.

Rosneft is an absolutely massive oil company that is controlled by the Russian government.  For months, Rosneft has been asking for a bailout (sound familiar?) to refinance loans that can no longer be rolled over with western banks because of economic sanctions.

And on Friday they got one.

In an attempt to quietly slip this massive injection of new money past everyone, Rosneft issued 625 billion rubles worth of new bonds just before the weekend and the Central Bank of Russia gobbled most of those new bonds up with freshly created money.  Unfortunately for Rosneft and the Central Bank of Russia, the rest of the world took notice

With the oil giant in a bind, the central bank ruled that it would accept Rosneft bonds held by commercial banks as collateral for loans.

Rosneft issued 625 billion rubles, about $10.9 billion at the exchange rate at the time, in new bonds on Friday. The identities of the buyers were not publicly disclosed, but analysts say that large state banks bought the issue.

When these banks deposit the bonds with the central bank in exchange for loans, Rosneft will have been financed, in effect, with an emission of rubles from the central bank.

So that is what led to the panic selling that we witnessed on Monday.

Meanwhile, money is being pulled out of Russia at an absolutely staggering pace.  As confidence in the ruble and in the Russian financial system disappears, wealthy people are feverishly trying to protect their wealth by moving it somewhere else.  The following is an excerpt from an editorial that Mohamed A. El-Erian recently penned for Business Insider…

Rather than bring in buyers at these substantially cheaper levels, Russian currency weakness is inducing more selling, including by a growing number of worried bank depositors who, instead of holding their savings in ruble, are opting for safer dollars. The larger the extent of this “currency substitution,” the bigger the scope for capital flight out of Russia. This puts even greater pressure on the currency, aggravating the output contraction, imported inflation, and the general sense economic and financial instability.

It has been estimated that total capital outflows for 2015 will reach an astounding $128 billion.

And this could just be the beginning of the economic troubles for Russia.

If the price of oil stays this low or goes even lower, the Russian economy will shrink.  The only question is how much it will contract

The Bank of Russia said Monday that the country could sink into a deep recession next year if oil prices remain at $60 a barrel. GDP could contract by as much as 4.7% in 2015, and then by a further 1.1% in 2016 unless oil prices pick up.

Sadly, it isn’t just oil producing nations such as Russia that are going to be devastated by the coming crisis.

Eventually, the entire globe is going to feel the pain.

Last week was the worst week for global financial markets in three years, and so many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008 are happening once again.  We have been living in a false bubble of relative stability for the past couple of years, but now time is running out.  The next great financial crisis is rapidly approaching, and 2015 promises to be the most “interesting” year that we have seen in ages.

To say that events are now taking place at the speed of light is an understatement.  It was just last Monday, I wrote a missive entitled “The Mother of all Bank Runs”.  In it I wrote about the German and Dutch repatriations of gold which was then followed by the Belgians beginning discussions on the same topic.  As a final speculation, I mentioned that “logically the Austrians would be next”.  There was no way you could have told me it would be less than one week until the same news would actually come out of Austria!  Unlike the Germans, Dutch and Belgians who have gold held in N.Y., Paris, and London, Austria holds 80% of their 280 tons of gold concentrated in London.  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-12/breaking-austria-considers-repatriating-its-physical-gold This is truly big news for several reasons which we will explore and it certainly brings up a few more questions. 

These four countries represent the core of the European Union.  The EU is located in Brussels and the ECB is located in Frankfurt so the “power centers” (or financial centers) if you will are located within this “block” of countries, let’s call them the “Nordic bloc”.  These four are the strength of the euro, they are the highest rated credits and for the most part they alone dictate policy.  …And now, ALL of them will be asking for their gold to be returned to them.  The same questions I asked last week still apply, even more so now because of the addition of Austria.  Why do they want their gold returned and why now?  There are other questions which we can look at shortly. 

First, “why”?  Why is there all of a sudden this rush by Holland, Belgium and Austria to follow Germany’s lead in asking for their gold back.  The obvious answer is trust, or better said, lack of trust.  For years there have been questions as to whether or not “official gold” has been leased into the markets.  These questions have arisen because of the simple math of supply and demand.  If China, India and Russia have been gobbling up 100% of current mine supply… then where is the supply coming from to meet the demand from the rest of the world?  If there was no trust issue whatsoever, these central banks would not “bother” with where this gold is being held because it brings up questions central banks would prefer you not think about.  These questions would obviously include “why” move the gold if it is already “safe”?  It also brings up the question of why bother if gold is really not important in today’s financial world …as many central banks will have you believe?

You see, for central banks to ask for their gold must mean it has some importance to them, right?  For that matter, why have these countries not asked for dollars, pounds or euro’s (from France) for the values of the gold held?  Why are these central banks asking for the actual metal?  The answer of course is because they know gold is real money and there is no substitute… in other words, there is nothing “as good as gold” when it comes to money.  I cannot stress enough how big these actions are because these are central banks bringing publicity to gold in a manner showing just how important the gold really is to them!  Let’s move on to other questions rather than rehash last weeks missive.  Why and why now are the main questions but I believe these two are wrapped up by “why these four countries”?  What this obviously leads us to is the very real potential that the Eurozone which is an imperfect union, will now be “splittable”!  These four countries are the center of the “have’s” with the rest of Europe being “have nots” for the most part.  These four country’s gold reserves amount to roughly 4,000 tons.  Officially they would be number two in the world behind the U.S., assuming the U.S. has not already divested their gold (I believe we have), “unofficially” this 4,000 tons would make them number two behind China if you believe they 8,000 tons of gold or more (which I do).   These four countries with reserves of 4,000 tons will have the ability to set up a northern or “Nordic euro” …especially if China revalues gold and re sets the world’s financial system which looks very probable in my eyes.

Repatriating their gold also does something else which few have thought of so far.  Actually having their gold in hand may just allow them to purchase energy from Russia.  Remember, Russia is testing their own clearing system to bypass the West’s SWIFT system.  Would Russia possibly refuse Western currencies for their energy exports if they had a system up and running which could clear rubles and yuan?  You bet they would, especially during a time of financial war.  Is gold a western currency?  Is it an eastern currency?  No, gold is the ULTIMATE currency, even Alan Greenspan concedes this!   This theory of a possible European breakup into northern and southern euros has more legs if Russia were to accept the new Nordic” for trade but refuse the “southern euro”.  Would Russia have more “confidence” and thus be more likely to accept the northern euro …if it is supported by gold?  Gold that is actually accounted for and held within these countries own vaults as opposed to vaults controlled by N.Y. and London?

The answer of course is “yes” but it also brings up another question which has a very humorous answer!  For a little background before I ask the question, do you remember why all of this gold was moved to London and New York all those years ago?   That’s right, there was a fear Stalin or one of his successors would roll tanks across Europe and take the gold …so the further away from Russia this gold was …the better!  Fast forward to present day, isn’t Mr. Putin and Russia the “scary and aggressive” potential invaders of Europe?  Why would these countries want their gold within their borders at this EXACT point in time if they have any worries of an aggressive neighbor called Russia?  Does this make any sense at all?  It does, and the humor is that these four countries apparently trust Mr. Putin and Moscow more than they do the U.S., Britain and the West!

Let me wrap this up and speculate a little as to what I believe is happening because it is clear something IS happening.  It can be no coincidence these four core European countries want to repatriate their gold.  It is also clear this action signals a change of some sort in their “relations”.  For this “block” of countries (which is exactly what I believe they will be seen to be) to remove gold from the West and placing it within marching distance from Moscow tells me they trust “us” less than they fear Russia.  I also believe they know where this whole game is headed and who is leading it.  I believe China will back their currency with a “re marked” price of gold with Russia as their right hand energy man.  The game is going toward gold, not away, this Nordic group is simply positioning themselves for when the starting gun is fired.

While the West has tried to “isolate” Russia, we will have succeeded only in isolating ourselves and creating the “cause” for a run on our own banking system.  I am not talking about the paper Ponzi scheme banking system as this will also fall, I am talking about an old fashioned and REAL run on the bank!  This “run” started slowly and ran for years as China accumulated what we foolishly “gave away”.  Now, it looks like the “run” is accelerating and the “core four” are taking the attitude “he who panics first panics best”!  None of this had to happen but it has and is, simply because the West has done dirty business and ruined credibility.  There is absolutely no rationale whatsoever for these banks to ask for their gold back if it is truly safe and they have full and complete faith in the U.S. as custodian and enforcer of the rule of law.

Please understand, the “core four” IS Europe.  Other than Britain, Europe is supposed to be America’s number one ally.  It is obvious allegiances all over the world are changing.  It is also obvious what is considered as “important” as far as money and currencies are concerned is also changing, otherwise these countries would accept dollars in lieu of their gold..  The West has bled gold, trust and thus credibility while the East (and new northern Europe partners?) has accumulated gold, trust and thus also credibility.  “Power” has always followed gold wherever it went.

If gold is leaving London and New York, it is for a very good reason.  I believe we may very well see a “Nordic euro” that trades primarily with Russia and China as opposed to the U.S. and Japan.   No one has ever run their bank “just for fun”, there has to be a reason.  I can see no reason for these four countries to act in unison on this issue unless trust is being questioned and/or a break away from the other deadbeat EU nations is planned …we will see shortly.

Bill Holter, Miles Franklin associate writer.

Tolerating Another Bush? Jeb, the GOP and the Presidency

December 17th, 2014 by Binoy Kampmark

Can the United States, and the world, for that matter, tolerate another Bush in the White House?  Jeb Bush is placing his toes in the contesting waters, and suggesting that he just might be in it.  As David Freedlander declared in the Daily Beast (Dec 16), the two-time governor of Florida was “considered a White House hopeful since back in the days when his brother was still thought of as an alcoholic oil man destined to play out his Freudian fights with his father in a Kennebunkport backyard.”[1]

The candidacy for the Presidential office is already taking a populist, and absurd shape, and while many contenders are bound to fall on their ill-directed swords in due course, a few have already deserved their short entries in the political who’s who.  Vermin Supreme, a seemingly permanent campaigner, deserves his spot as lunatic supreme, or eccentricity divine, with his suggestion that every American receive a pony – gratis.

Showing that a good deal of mirth can be found amidst the serious undermining of the American political process, Supreme has suggested an amendment that will involve, “A well regulated Pony Militia, being necessary to the security of a free Pony State”.  Whether doing so will enable “this country to bite back”, as he suggested in an address filled with dental metaphors, is quite another thing.[2]  Better that, perhaps, than the insatiable, and heavily fanged military industrial complex.

Then came tentative Jeb Bush, not so much roaring from the fold as moving underneath it by means of a Facebook post, suggesting that he would “actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States” after Thanksgiving chatter with friends and family.  A leadership PAC is being proposed, one that “will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans”.

While the language of Jeb shows a few contortionist hallmarks of his brother (“thinking about” running for office and “actively exploring” running for office comes close), it has had its stirring effect.  At most, it will have the potential to unhinge others in the GOP running pack, who have heard nothing so much as a squeak from the Bush dynasts over candidature prospects.

The public relations specialists have had to say otherwise, but establishment conservatives such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the failed previous candidate Mitt Romney will be looking over shoulders and backs.  The populists will also have to take note.  Everyone’s knives are going to be sharpened even as they count their donor dollars.

Several matters on the Jeb platform are deemed troubling for any chances. Common core curricula will be a grand saddling weight, a policy platform endorsed by his troubled non-profit, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and by such moves as joining the group Conservatives for Higher Standards.

Conservative activists, such as the enduring octogenarian Phyllis Schlafly of the religious right, have warned against adopting the Common Core, seen as having the centralist evils of the standard mongers.  Senators Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have openly declared their position against it, asking for an immediate cessation of federal funding.  They might just as well as smirked at the idea that anything involving Jeb Bush and appropriate standards of excellence was misguided.

The continuing narrative of the local being the good continues.  The usual sovereignty-clipping measures are put forth by the antagonists.  Common Core will see the internationalist, UN-backed agenda infiltrate US schools with standards, not to mention such conventions as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Agenda 21, and the UN Law of the Sea Treaty (Mother Jones, Apr 18).

Suspicions of elitism also prevail – the Common Core scheme was cooked up by two Rhodes scholars, the classicist David Coleman and physicist Jason Zimba, suggesting an Oxford taint and a rude pointer against philistinism.[3] Then come the funding incentives from the US Department of Education, with a sweetener of $4.35 billion in cash from the Race to the Top program, and money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Whether the Common Core factor actually cuts into a Jeb Bush electoral performance is something else.  He has little to worry about, suggests the latest number crunching of Nate Silver, given that most Republican voters are either ignorant about it, nor find it so reprehensible.  Besides, Bush’s own Foundation for Excellent in Education has been found wanting by the IRS for disguising travel payments as “scholarships”, while appointed officials have been caught improving upon test scores and inflating grades.  Standard curriculums can easily fall into standard practices of corruption.

Bush’s opponents will also find much to have a good hack at. They are the old foibles as a prep schooler at Andover, featuring pot and a brief membership of the socialist club.[4]  There is the heavily wearing family legacy – George W’s own is stifling and the sons dysfunctional.

Then come those, and these are but a sampling, shady dealings with Camilo Padreda, a former counterintelligence officer of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista regarding financing of buildings with money from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development-backed loans (Mother Jones, Sep 9); and the successful lobbying of father Bush in 1989 to release Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch, alleged to be behind the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people.[5]

On others, Bush is entirely in step with the frightened core of the GOP shell.  Women’s liberation has yet to enter his argot.  The 1994 campaign saw the contender argue that women on welfare “should be able to get their life together and find a husband.”

Climate change will receive its usual dismissive sneers.  Giving the impression of being a Socratic explorer of the fine questions of the age, Jeb B has declared himself to be sceptic.  In 2009, he told Esquire that he thought “science has been politicised. I would be very wary of hollowing out our industrial base even further.”[6]

As for the rest, the un-anointed, and the near irrelevant voting constituency who have become spectral in the political contest behind the Presidency, Jeb will be another hollow man meditating over God, the threatened country and wars of sanctimonious deliverance.  The pony state protected by constitutional amendment looks deludingly comforting.

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

Here are two intriguing, related articles in the Guardian on the Scottish independence referendum that achieve two seemingly contradictory goals.

First, they reveal that under pressure from the British PM, David Cameron, the Queen intervened in the referendum back in September by staging a “spontaneous moment” in which she suggested publicly to a well-wisher she had great foreboding about a yes vote for independence.

Second, the articles, while clearly alerting us to the news of this violation of Britain’s supposed constitutional and democratic principles, at the same time present this act by the Queen as “no biggy”.

It’s this kind of reporting that illustrates how the Guardian creates an aura of “leftishness” that wins it plaudits and online clicks precisely while it plays down the true implications of the news it has discovered. To get a sense of how successful a formula it is one only needs to read the talkback section below the news article, where the gravity of what has just been revealed to readers appears to go over most of their heads .

That is because the three authors subtly suggest (against the evidence) both that this was a one-off political intervention by the Queen and that the stakes were so grave that any right-thinking person would have approved of the move.

The mood of the pieces is created through the repeated claim that the Queen is “scrupulously impartial”. Here, early in the news story, for example, we find the line:

The Queen, who has been scrupulous during her 62-year reign in observing the impartiality expected of a constitutional monarch, intervened publicly on 14 September.

I shouldn’t need to point out that that sentence does not qualify as “objective” news reporting by any of the usual definitions accepted in professional journalism.

It could easily have been rephrased in a way that would have maintained the necessary critical distance: e.g.

The Queen, who is supposed according to her constitutional role as monarch to remain impartial at all times, intervened publicly on 14 September.

See how differently that second formulation reads: the language is far more neutral, but it is also far more damning because it juxtaposes the Queen’s supposed role with the fact of her intervention.

Notice also this next par:

She spoke out after senior Whitehall figures, who were apprised of David Cameron’s concerns that the yes camp was developing an ominous momentum in the final period of the campaign, suggested to the palace that an intervention by the Queen would be helpful.

Remove that one word “ominous” and absolutely nothing is lost of what needs to be conveyed. Add it and the reader is left with the subtle impression that the Guardian agrees with Cameron and the Queen that the yes campaign’s late “momentum” was ominous.

This becomes a nervous tic throughout the two pieces, with the writers adopting the perspective of the Queen and Cameron. With a poll showing a surge of support for the yes campaign,

The news was even worse that Sunday morning as the prime minister and his wife came down to breakfast with the Queen.

Worse, for whom? The Scottish people?

Look at this par too:

It turned out that it was not just the prime minister who had his work cut out that week, as No 10 went into “meltdown” – in the words of one senior Downing Street source – as the full (peaceful) force of the British state was mustered to save the union. Senior figures in Whitehall were so worried by the prospect of a collapse of the union that it was suggested to the palace that it would be immensely helpful if the Queen could say something publicly.

Look at how respectful the language used here is: “work cut out”, “mustering peaceful force”, “saving the union”, “immensely helpful”, “say something publicly”. All of this Guardian curtseying conceals the reality of the situation: over the marmalade, Cameron and the Queen were plotting to subvert a democratic referendum.

I am not suggesting that the Guardian writers and editors are involved in some sort of linguistic conspiracy here. But I am suggesting that we need to examine examples like this of their unthinking use of language (and there are dozens of examples every day in the paper’s news reports) to understand the deeper values of the paper.

The Guardian is billed as the most “leftwing” newspaper in Britain and yet the concerns I raised above occurred to none of its most senior staff – those who wrote this piece, edited it, lawyered it and approved it (including Alan Rusbridger himself). How is that possible in a truly leftwing newspaper?

It isn’t. And that is because the senior staff of the Guardian are part of the outer fringes of the establishment. They may be critical of particular instances of misdeeds by British institutions and individual office holders, but such criticism invariably occurs within a wider respect, often verging on reverence, for the system itself.

www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/dec/16/scottish-independence-queen-intervene-yes-vote-fears

www.theguardian.com/news/2014/dec/16/-sp-real-story-scottish-referendum-final-days-fight-for-independence 

No doubt in a sop to their corporate masters, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reached a deal just days ago to allow, for the first time, pension benefits of current retirees to be severely cut.

As reported by The Washington Post and MSN, the deal was necessary, say its backers, in order to save some of the most distressed pension plans. But what it will really do is pull the economic rug out from underneath millions of aged retirees when the economy remains sluggish and they are at their most vulnerable.

2014 Spending Bill last-minute attachment saves pension plans, not pensioners

The Post reported:

The rule would alter 40 years of federal law and could affect millions of workers, many of them part of a shrinking corps of middle-income employees in businesses such as trucking, construction and supermarkets.

The amendment was attached – without prior publication or announcement, of course – to the $1.01 trillion spending bill just passed by the House and Senate.

The rule change will “apply to multi-employer pensions, where a group of businesses in the same industry join forces with unions to provide pension coverage for employees. The plans cover some 10 million U.S. workers,” said the Post.

Millions will lose benefits when they can least afford to

The paper reported that, overall, there are about 1,400 multi-employer pension plans in existence, and many still remain in good fiscal condition. Those would not be affected by the deal. But several dozen plans have failed while several more larger plans are facing insolvency.

Over the next 20 years, as many as 200 multi-employer plans that cover 1.5 million workers are in danger of running out of funds. And half are believed to be in such bad shape that they are likely to ask for permission to reduce pension payments to recipients in the very near future.

“We have to do something to allow these plans to make the corrections and adjustments they need to keep these plans viable,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who, with Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., led efforts to hammer out a deal. Naturally no congressional pension plans are in danger of running out of funds – not as long as taxpayers continue to fund them.

As you might have guessed, the provision has angered retirement security advocates. They say that giving pension plans permission to cut benefits and payments will only lead to additional cuts later.

“After a lifetime of hard work to earn their pensions, retirees don’t deserve to receive a bad deal, in which they have had no say, cut behind closed doors and excluding the very people who would be impacted the most,” Joyce Rogers, a senior vice president for AARP, the lobbying giant lobbying group for older Americans, said in a statement, as reported by the Post.

Worse, there are some unions and retirement fund managers – those who supposedly stand up “for working Americans” – supporting this deal (the Post said they are “reluctantly” supporting it, but it is support nonetheless). They have said they see the deal as necessary to prevent the plans from running out of money (which, as our editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, says will happen anyway – more on that in a moment).

“This bipartisan agreement gives pension trustees the tools they need to maintain plan solvency, preserves benefits for the long haul, and protects the 10.5 million multiemployer participants,” Randy G. DeFrehne, executive director of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans said in a statement, according to the Post. “With time running out on the retirement security of millions of Americans, moving this bipartisan proposal forward now is not only timely, but necessary.”

Predictable results

A year-and-a-half ago, in a piece for Natural News, Adams predicted the decline and fall of pensions – private, for sure, but also public pensions. With the declaration of bankruptcy by the city of Detroit in the headlines, Adams wrote:

Yes, Detroit owes former government employees – teachers, firefighters, cops and more – a whopping $3.5 billion in current and future payments. Except Detroit doesn’t have $3.5 billion to pay the pensions. The city is in a state of economic collapse. Remember, the U.S. government used billions in taxpayer money to help General Motors move its manufacturing offshore to countries like China. As a result of economically-insane actions and criminal mismanagement, a city that used to be the hub of industrial output in America has become a ghost town of abandoned buildings, crumbling infrastructure and financial destitution.

But even as all this was becoming apparent, the government workers there continued to collect fat paychecks and pensions, all based on the promise that endless population growth would outpace the rise in pension obligations. Many pensioners are owed over $100,000 a year from the government, and this is true across California, Illinois and many other states as well.

Chicago, for example, owes $19 billion in pension payments that it doesn’t have, and the city of Los Angeles is more than $30 billion in the hole. The story is much the same in every major U.S. city.

Read the Health Ranger’s full report here.

Sources:

http://www.msn.com

http://www.washingtonpost.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

Torture Report Confirms Team Bush War Crimes

December 17th, 2014 by Marjorie Cohn

Reading the 499-page torture report just released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was a disgusting experience. Even after many years of writing books and articles about the Bush torture policy, I was unprepared for the atrocious pattern of crimes our government committed against other human beings in our name.

One of the most hideous techniques the CIA plied on detainees was called “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding” without medical necessity – a sanitized description of rape by a foreign object. A concoction of pureed “hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins” was forced into the rectum of one detainee. Another was subjected to “rectal rehydration” to establish the interrogator’s “total control over the detainee.” This constitutes illegal, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a humiliating outrage upon personal dignity.

Several detainees were waterboarded, a technique whereby water is poured into the nose and mouth to cause the victim to think he’s drowning. One detainee in CIA custody was tortured on the waterboard 183 times; another was waterboarded 83 times. Waterboarding has long been considered torture, which is a war crime. Indeed, the United States hung Japanese military leaders for the war crime of torture after World War II.

One of the most hideous techniques the CIA plied on detainees was called “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding” without medical necessity – a sanitized description of rape by a foreign object.

Other “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EIT) included being slammed into walls, hung from the ceiling, kept in total darkness, deprived of sleep – sometimes with forced standing – for up to seven and one-half days, forced to stand on broken limbs for hours on end, threatened with mock execution, confined in a coffin-like box for 11 days, bathed in ice water, dressed in diapers. One detainee “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”

The executive summary of the torture report was made public, but the 6,700-page report remains classified. The summary depicts the CIA at best, as keystone cops, at worst, as pathological, lying, sadistic war criminals. The CIA lied repeatedly about the effectiveness of the torture and cruel treatment. Interrogations of detainees were much more brutal than the CIA represented to government officials and the American public.

Bush’s CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden should be charged with crimes, along with their minions who carried out the torture.

Obama Violates Constitutional Duty

In light of the gruesome revelations in the torture report, it is high time President Barack Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty to enforce the law. The US Constitution states the president ”shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed.” Yet Obama refuses to sanction prosecutions of those responsible for the torture.

When the United States ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Geneva Conventions, we promised to prosecute or extradite those who commit or are complicit in the commission of torture.

The report documents torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, all of which violate US and international law. The War Crimes Act punishes torture as a war crime. The Torture Statute (Statute) provides that whoever “outside the United States” commits or attempts to commit torture shall be imprisoned for not more than 20 years “and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”

The statute defines torture as an “act intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within his custody or physical control.”

When the United States ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Geneva Conventions, we promised to prosecute or extradite those who commit or are complicit in the commission of torture. A ratified treaty is part of US law under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Yet the Obama administration persists in its refusal to bring the culprits to justice.

On January 11, 2009, nine days before Obama was sworn into office, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News confronted the newly elected president with the “most popular question on your own website, change.gov”- whether Obama would investigate torture by members of the Bush administration. Obama responded:

“I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward, as opposed to looking backward . . . At the CIA, you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders, lawyering up . . . “

Now we know that many of those people at the CIA were using their extraordinary talents to devise new and more horrific ways to torture, humiliate, degrade and mistreat the people under their control.

To his credit, shortly after he was inaugurated, Obama signed an executive order banning torture. But hunger strikers at Guantánamo are still force-fed, a practice that violates the Torture Convention, according to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT).

In 2009, US Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an investigation headed by veteran prosecutor Assistant US Attorney John Durham. But, two years later, Holder announced that his office would investigate only the deaths of Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi, who died while in CIA custody. Holder said that the US Department of Justice had “determined that an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted.” With that decision, Holder made clear that no one would be held accountable for the torture and abuse except possibly for the deaths of Rahman and al-Jamadi.

Torture is who President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are.

Ultimately, the Obama administration gave a free pass to those responsible for the two deaths. Rahman froze to death in 2002, after being stripped and shackled to a cold cement floor in the secret Afghan prison known as the Salt Pit. Al-Jamadi died after he was suspended from the ceiling by his wrists, which were bound behind his back. Military police officer Tony Diaz, who was present during al-Jamadi’s torture, said that blood gushed from his mouth like “a faucet had turned on” when he was lowered to the ground. A military autopsy determined that al-Jamadi’s death was a homicide.

Nevertheless, Holder said that “based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths, the department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Torture is Who They Are

After the report was made public, the White House issued a statement calling the CIA interrogation program “harsh” and the treatment “troubling” – a study in understatement. Obama said that torture “is contrary to who we are.”

But torture is who President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are. Under the well-established doctrine of command responsibility, commanders are liable for war crimes if they knew, or should have known, their subordinates would commit them and they did nothing to stop or prevent it.

In 2008, ABC News reported that the National Security Council Principals Committee consisting of Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Tenet and Ashcroft met in the White House and micromanaged the torture of terrorism suspects by approving specific torture techniques such as waterboarding. Bush admitted in his 2010 memoir that he authorized waterboarding. Cheney, Rice and Yoo have made similar admissions.

Indeed, Cheney recently admitted on Fox News that Bush “was in fact an integral part of the interrogation program, and he had to approve it.” Cheney added, “We did discuss the techniques. There was no effort on our part to keep him from that.” Karl Rove told Fox News that Bush was “intimately involved in the decision” to use the EIT. Rove said Bush “was presented, I believe, 12 techniques, he authorized the use of 10 of them, including waterboarding.”

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice should be should be prosecuted for their crimes.

The Senate report contains example after example of why “the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.” It says: “Multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence . . . on critical intelligence issues including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.” Yet the CIA continually lied that the EIT “saved lives.”

The Legal Mercenaries Should Be Prosecuted

The report says the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) relied on the CIA’s numerous misrepresentations when crafting OLC memos authorizing the techniques.

Yoo, Bybee and company knew very well that the techniques the CIA sought to employ were illegal.

But the report gives OLC lawyers, including Deputy Assistant US Attorney General John Yoo (now a law professor at Berkeley) and Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee (now a federal appellate court judge), free passes by failing to connect the dots leading to their criminal responsibility as war criminals.

The OLC’s infamous “torture memos” contain twisted legal reasoning that purported to define torture more narrowly than US law allows. The memos advised high Bush officials how to avoid criminal liability under the War Crimes Act.

Yoo, Bybee and company knew very well that the techniques the CIA sought to employ were illegal. Their August 1, 2002, memo advised that attention grasp, walling, facial hold, facial slap (insult slap), cramped confinement box and the waterboard passed legal muster under the act. They knew these techniques constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in violation of the Torture Statute, and the Torture Convention.

The report also fails to connect the dots to the Pentagon.

The Torture Convention is unequivocal: ”No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.” In light of that clear prohibition, the OLC lawyers knew that “necessity” and “self-defense” are not defenses to torture. Whether the CIA was being forthright about the necessity for, or effectiveness of, the techniques was irrelevant to the faulty legal analysis in the torture memos.

Moreover, after the report was released, Cheney told The New York Times: “The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.”

Bush’s attorneys general, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey, who oversaw the DOJ, should be criminally charged, together with the OLC’s legal mercenaries.

“The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in [the Senate] report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.”

The report also fails to connect the dots to the Pentagon. In December 2002, Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques that included the use of dogs, hooding, stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, 20-hour interrogations, deprivation of light and sound, using scenarios to convince the detainee that death or severely painful consequences are imminent for him and/or his family, and using a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation.

And the report gives short shrift to the extraordinary rendition program, where detainees were illegally sent to other countries to be tortured. The report refers to “renditions,” which are conducted with judicial process. But detainees were rendered to black sites in Syria, Libya and Egypt in order to avoid legal accountability.

No Impunity

“The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in [the Senate] report must be brought to justice and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” according to Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights. And the UN’s CAT said the Obama administration has failed to investigate the commission of torture and punish those responsible, including “persons in positions of command and those who provided legal cover to torture.”

A special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate those from the CIA, the DOJ, and the high officials of the Bush administration who violated, or aided and abetted the violation of, our laws banning torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The full 6,700-page Senate report should be declassified.

“Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction. The perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country they may travel to.”

But Obama said, “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong – in the past.” Yes, these crimes were committed in the past. Crimes are always prosecuted after they are committed. Obama should be reminded of his constitutional duty to enforce the law.

If we don’t bring the offenders to justice, they could eventually get their due when other countries prosecute them under “universal jurisdiction.” Some crimes are so atrocious that countries can punish foreign nationals, the way Israel tried, convicted and executed Adolph Eichmann for his crimes during the Holocaust, even though they had no direct connection to Israel. Emmerson also said, “Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction. The perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country they may travel to.”

The only way to prevent others from using torture and cruel treatment in the future is to bring those responsible to justice.

The following grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions constitute war crimes punishable under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), when committed as part of a plan or policy: torture, willful killing, inhuman treatment, and willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health. The Senate report documented instances of willful killing (death); great suffering (hysterical, asking to die, attempts at self harm); and serious injuries (placed on life support, hallucinations) caused by the EIT. Yoo admitted in his 2006 book that the denial of Geneva protections and coercive interrogation “policies were part of a common, unifying approach to the war on terrorism.”

Although the United States is not a party to the ICC, other countries could prosecute US nationals under universal jurisdiction for the core crimes in the Rome Statute.

Obama declared, “Hopefully, we don’t do it again.” But Obama’s hopeful sentiments won’t do the trick. The only way to prevent others from using torture and cruel treatment in the future is to bring those responsible to justice. We must send a message to would-be torturers that they will not enjoy impunity for their crimes. Torture has no statute of limitations.

In light of the torture report, the responsibility for the US targeted killing program – by drones and manned bombers – should be removed from the CIA, which cannot be trusted with such awesome responsibility.

Indeed, the entire targeted killing program should be the subject of the next congressional report. Anticipating the imminent release of the torture report, Obama stated, “We did a whole lot of things that were right,” after September 11, “but we tortured some folks.”

The Bush administration did torture some folks. But we are still doing other things that are not right. The Obama administration has avoided adding detainees to the Guantánamo roster by illegally assassinating them without judicial process. For this, members of Team Obama should also find themselves as criminal defendants someday.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, a former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general for scientific work of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse; Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law; and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. She testified twice before Congress about the Bush administration torture policy.

Syria denounced yesterday’s statement made by EU foreign ministers on the situation in Syria as stressing the deep European involvement in the plot targeting Syria.

The EU statement, an official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said, also affirms the European complicity in shedding the Syrians’ blood.

In a statement to SANA, the Foreign Ministry source dismissed what came in the EU statement as “allegations and lies,” saying they assert that the European Union is apparently going forward with its policy of “systematic misinformation” despite the fact that the entire world now realizes the reality of the aggression against Syria being carried out by armed terrorist groups.

The source highlighted that those groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, are receiving “unlimited support” by some regional countries and international major powers.

Being “back with former stances” will lead nowhere as far as reaching a solution to the crisis in Syria is concerned, the source stated.

While the EU “is shedding crocodile tears” on the humanitarian suffering of the Syrians, the source said, it overlooks that it is the EU’s policy of backing terrorism in Syria, the economic sanctions imposed on it and the repeated attempts to abort the efforts seeking a way out are the causes behind having Syria’s crisis still dragging on.

Those very causes, the source stressed, are what led to the growth of the terrorist activities that have come to pose a serious threat to the regional and international peace and security, activities which involve thousands of terrorists who came from European states undeterred and under the nose of those states’ intelligence services.

The source went on saying that the stance of the European Union proves that it is “unworthy of having a decent status in the international arena having accepted to be subordinate to the others’ policies and a payer of their bills and a model of hypocrisy with it renouncing the very values it advocates.”

The Foreign Ministry source stressed that the EU’s statement and other similar statements will only make the Syrian people and army more confident and determined to achieve victory while they are “proudly” confronting the forces of the obscurantist takfiri terrorism.

The Oil Coup

December 17th, 2014 by Mike Whitney

“John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.” (Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia, Larry Eliot, Guardian)

U.S. powerbrokers have put the country at risk of another financial crisis to intensify their economic war on Moscow and to move ahead with their plan to “pivot to Asia”.

Here’s what’s happening: Washington has persuaded the Saudis to flood the market with oil to push down prices, decimate Russia’s economy, and reduce Moscow’s resistance to further NATO encirclement and the spreading of US military bases across Central Asia. The US-Saudi scheme has slashed oil prices by nearly a half since they hit their peak in June. The sharp decline in prices has burst the bubble in high-yield debt which has increased the turbulence in the credit markets while pushing global equities into a tailspin. Even so, the roiled markets and spreading contagion have not deterred Washington from pursuing its reckless plan, a plan which uses Riyadh’s stooge-regime to prosecute Washington’s global resource war. Here’s a brief summary from an article by F. William Engdahl titled “The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria”:

“The details are emerging of a new secret and quite stupid Saudi-US deal on Syria and the so-called IS. It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. Details were concluded in the September meeting by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Saudi King…

..the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been flooding the market with deep discounted oil, triggering a price war within OPEC… The Saudis are targeting sales to Asia for the discounts and in particular, its major Asian customer, China where it is reportedly offering its crude for a mere $50 to $60 a barrel rather than the earlier price of around $100. That Saudi financial discounting operation in turn is by all appearance being coordinated with a US Treasury financial warfare operation, via its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in cooperation with a handful of inside players on Wall Street who control oil derivatives trading. The result is a market panic that is gaining momentum daily. China is quite happy to buy the cheap oil, but her close allies, Russia and Iran, are being hit severely…

According to Rashid Abanmy, President of the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center, the dramatic price collapse is being deliberately caused by the Saudis, OPEC’s largest producer. The public reason claimed is to gain new markets in a global market of weakening oil demand. The real reason, according to Abanmy, is to put pressure on Iran on her nuclear program, and on Russia to end her support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria….More than 50% of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas. The US-Saudi oil price manipulation is aimed at destabilizing several strong opponents of US globalist policies. Targets include Iran and Syria, both allies of Russia in opposing a US sole Superpower. The principal target, however, is Putin’s Russia, the single greatest threat today to that Superpower hegemony. (The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria, F. William Engdahl, BFP)

The US must achieve its objectives in Central Asia or forfeit its top-spot as the world’s only superpower. This is why US policymakers have embarked on such a risky venture. There’s simply no other way to sustain the status quo which allows the US to impose its own coercive dollar system on the world, a system in which the US exchanges paper currency produced-at-will by the Central Bank for valuable raw materials, manufactured products and hard labor. Washington is prepared to defend this extortionist petrodollar recycling system to the end, even if it means nuclear war.

How Flooding the Market Adds to Instability

The destructive and destabilizing knock-on effects of this lunatic plan are visible everywhere. Plummeting oil prices are making it harder for energy companies to get the funding they need to roll over their debt or maintain current operations. Companies borrow based on the size of their reserves, but when prices tumble by nearly 50 percent–as they have in the last six months– the value of those reserves falls sharply which cuts off access to the market leaving CEO’s with the dismal prospect of either selling assets at firesale prices or facing default. If the problem could be contained within the sector, there’d be no reason for concern. But what worries Wall Street is that a surge in energy company failures could ripple through the financial system and wallop the banks. Despite six years of zero rates and monetary easing, the nation’s biggest banks are still perilously undercapitalized, which means that a wave of unexpected bankruptcies could be all it takes to collapse the weaker institutions and tip the system back into crisis. Here’s an excerpt from a post at Automatic Earth titled “Will Oil Kill the Zombies?”:

“If prices fall any further, it would seem that most of the entire shale edifice must of necessity crumble to the ground. And that will cause an absolute earthquake in the financial world, because someone supplied the loans the whole thing leans on. An enormous amount of investors have been chasing high yield, including many institutional investors, and they’re about to get burned something bad….. if oil keeps going the way it has lately, the Fed may instead have to think about bailing out the big Wall Street banks once again.” (Will Oil Kill the Zombies?, Raúl Ilargi Meijer, Automatic Earth)

The problem with falling oil prices is not just mounting deflation or droopy profits; it’s the fact that every part of the industry–exploration, development and production — is propped atop a mountain of red ink (junk bonds). When that debt can no longer be serviced or increased, then the primary lenders (counterparties and financial institutions) sustain heavy losses which domino through the entire system. Take a look at this from Marketwatch:

“There’s ‘no question’ that for energy companies with a riskier debt profile the high-yield debt market “is essentially shut down at this stage,” and there are signs that further pain could hit the sector, ” senior fixed-income strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, Dan Heckman told Marketwatch. “We are getting to the point that it is becoming very concerning.” (Marketwatch)

When energy companies lose access to the market and are unable to borrow at low rates, it’s only a matter of time before they trundle off to extinction.

On Friday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) renewed pressure on prices by lowering its estimate for global demand for oil in 2015. The announcement immediately sent stocks into a nosedive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 315 points by the end of the day, while, according to Bloomberg, more than “$1 trillion was erased from the value of global equities in the week”.

The world is awash in cheap petroleum which is wreaking havoc on domestic shale producers that need prices of roughly $70 per barrel to break-even. With West Texas Intermediate (WTI) presently headed south of 60 bucks–and no bottom in sight–these smaller producers are sure to get clobbered. Pension funds, private equity, banks, and other investors who gambled on these dodgy energy-related junk bonds are going to get their heads handed to them in the months ahead.

The troubles in the oil patch are mainly attributable to the Fed’s easy money policies. By dropping rates to zero and flooding the markets with liquidity, the Fed made it possible for every Tom, Dick and Harry to borrow in the bond market regardless of the quality of the debt. No one figured that the bottom would drop out leaving an entire sector high and dry. Everyone thought the all-powerful Fed could print its way out of any mess. After last week’s bloodbath, however, they’re not nearly as confident. Here’s how Bloomberg sums it up:

“The danger of stimulus-induced bubbles is starting to play out in the market for energy-company debt….Since early 2010, energy producers have raised $550 billion of new bonds and loans as the Federal Reserve held borrowing costs near zero, according to Deutsche Bank AG. With oil prices plunging, investors are questioning the ability of some issuers to meet their debt obligations…

The Fed’s decision to keep benchmark interest rates at record lows for six years has encouraged investors to funnel cash into speculative-grade securities to generate returns, raising concern that risks were being overlooked. A report from Moody’s Investors Service this week found that investor protections in corporate debt are at an all-time low, while average yields on junk bonds were recently lower than what investment-grade companies were paying before the credit crisis.” (Fed Bubble Bursts in $550 Billion of Energy Debt: Credit Markets, Bloomberg)

The Fed’s role in this debacle couldn’t be clearer. Investors piled into these dodgy debt-instruments because they thought Bernanke had their back and would intervene at the first sign of trouble. Now that the bubble has burst and the losses are piling up, the Fed is nowhere to be seen.

In the last week, falling oil prices have started to impact the credit markets where investors are ditching debt on anything that looks at all shaky. The signs of contagion are already apparent and likely to get worse. Investors fear that if they don’t hit the “sell” button now, they won’t be able to find a buyer later. In other words, liquidity is drying up fast which is accelerating the rate of decline. Naturally, this has affected US Treasuries which are still seen as “risk free”. As investors increasingly load up on USTs, long-term yields have been pounded into the ground like a tentpeg. As of Friday, the benchmark 10-year Treasury checked in at a miniscule 2.08 percent, the kind of reading one would expect in the middle of a Depression.

The Saudi-led insurgency has reversed the direction of the market, put global stocks into a nosedive and triggered a panic in the credit markets. And while the financial system edges closer to a full-blown crisis every day, policymakers in Washington have remained resolutely silent on the issue, never uttering as much as a peep of protest for a Saudi policy that can only be described as a deliberate act of financial terrorism.

Why is that? Why have Obama and Co. kept their mouths shut while oil prices have plunged, domestic industries have been demolished, and stocks have gone off a cliff? Could it be that they’re actually in cahoots with the Saudis and that it’s all a big game designed to annihilate enemies of the glorious New World Order?

It certainly looks that way.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].