Global Research Articles on the Environment

December 22nd, 2014 by Global Research News

Global Research Editor’s Note

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

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

The interview tends to demystify the Osama bin Laden persona.

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

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

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

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

We have highlighted key sections of this interview.

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

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

Michel  Chossudovsky, September 9, 2014


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

Ummat (in Urdu)

translated from Urdu

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

Ummat’s introduction

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

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

Following is the interview in full detail:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright Ummat in Urdu, BBC translation in English, 2001

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

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

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America’s “War on Terrorism”

by Michel
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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.
Please Forward the GR I-Book far and wide. Post it on Facebook.



[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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The Lawless Manipulation of the Gold Bullion Market

December 22nd, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Note: In this article the times given are Eastern Standard Time. The software that generated the graph uses Mountain Standard Time. Therefore, read the x-axis two hours later than the axis indicates.

The Federal Reserve and its bullion bank agents are actively using uncovered futures contracts to illegally manipulate the prices of precious metals in order to keep interest rates below the market rate. The purpose of manipulation is to support the U.S. dollar’s reserve status at a time when the dollar should be in decline from the over-supply created by QE and from trade and budget deficits.

Historically, the role of gold and silver has been to function as a means of exchange and a store of wealth during periods of economic and political turmoil. Since the bullion bull market began in late 2000, It rose almost non-stop until March 2008, ahead of the Great Financial Crisis, which started with the collapse of Bear Stearns. When Bear Stearns collapsed, gold was taken down over the course of the next 7 months from $1035 to $680, or 34%; silver from $21 to $8, or 62%. The most violent takedown occurred as Lehman collapsed and Goldman Sachs was about to collapse. This takedown occurred during a period of time when gold should have been going parabolic in price. The price of gold finally took off in late October 2008 from $680 to $1900 while the Government and the Fed were busy printing money to bail out the banks. While the price of gold rose nearly 300% from late 2008 to September 2011, the U.S. dollar lost over 17% of its value, falling from 89 on the dollar index to 73.50.

The current takedown of gold from $1900 to $1200 has occurred during a period of time when financial and political fraud and corruption becomes worse and more blatant by the day. Along with this, the intensity and openness with which the metals are systematically beat down seems to grow by the day.

Comex futures trade 23 hours a day via a global computerized trading system known as Globex.  The heaviest period of trading occurs when the actual Comex floor operations are open, which is 8:20 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. EST.  All other times Comex futures trade electronically via Globex.  Gold and silver are smashed primarily  during the Globex-only trading periods, when volume is often  light to non-existent.

This graph of Comex futures trading on December 16th shows the sudden plunge in the price of silver.

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The second stage of the sharp price drop begins at 1:30 pm eastern time (11:30 mountain time), after the Comex floor trading operation was closed for the day. This is typically one of the lowest volume trading periods, during which orders to buy or sell can cause significant price disruption to the market. There were no news or events that would have triggered the sudden selling of bullion futures, and none of the other markets experienced unusual movements while gold and silver were quickly plunging in price.

To put in perspective the 9,767 silver contracts sold in 15 minutes, the total trading volume in Comex silver for the 23-hour global trading period for Comex contracts ending at 5:00 p.m. on December 15th was 149,964 contracts, or an average of 6,520 contracts per hour.  The only type of market participant that would dump almost 10,000 contracts in a 15-minute period is a seller who’s only motivation is to push the price of silver as low as possible.  One entity that can afford to use capital like this is the Federal Reserve, because the Fed can create its own capital for free using the printing press.

In the background, the financial markets are becoming increasingly pressured by declines in emerging market currencies, insolvent sovereign governments–including here in the US–and perhaps a renewed derivatives crisis triggered by the collapse in the price of oil.  The oil price decline could result in derivative problems larger than the subprime mortgage derivatives of the 2008 crisis.

The downward manipulation of the prices of precious metals prevents the “crisis warning transmission system” from properly functioning.  More important, the decline in the price of gold/silver vs. the U.S. dollar conveys the illusion that the dollar is strong at a time when, in fact, the dollar should be under pressure from the over-issuance of dollars and dollar-denominated debt.

What we have been experiencing since the 2008 crisis is not only the subordination of US economic policy to the needs of banks “too big to fail,” but also the subordination of law and the financial regulatory agencies to the interests of a few private banks. The manipulation of the bullion markets is illegal whether done by private parties or on public authority, and so we have the spectacle of the US government supporting a handful of banks via illegal means. Not only has economic accountability been set aside, but also legal accountability.

Just as Washington places itself above laws prohibiting torture and naked aggression in order to conduct its self-declared “war on terror” and above the Constitution in order to construct a domestic police state, Washington places itself above the laws prohibiting market manipulation.

Obviously, the government’s claim to represent the rule of law is as false as all its other claims. The foul stench of corruption and hypocrisy that emanates from Washington is the smell of a dying country.

Israel’s Moral Suicide

December 22nd, 2014 by Dr. Vacy Vlazna

Abu Dis, home to descendants of Salah ad-Din, lies 3.8 kms from the Old City of Al Quds* which can be seen over the obscenity of the Annexation Wall from homes on the village hilltops.

To its east, the imposing ranges of Al-Ghor ** change from luminous cream to deep caramel in rhythm with the day’s light: the magnificence is scabbed by the cancerous spread of Israel’s colonial melanomas of Ma’ali Adumim (industrial site of Sodastream and Teva), Kfar Adumin, Qedar and Jabal.

On November 17, 2014, the earth of Abu Dis awaited the final homecoming of its son Yousef al-Rammouni whose tortured body had been further desecrated with lies by the Israeli coroner. The sky over the village wept.

The previous evening, like many preceding evenings, Yousef, 32, bid goodnight to his wife, Shireen and his little boys, Mohammed 6 and Jihad 3, then crossed to West Jerusalem for his 9.20 pm shift at the Egged Bus depot at Har Hotzivim where he was a valued driver for five years.

The grieving father of the young man, Abu Yousef, a respected resident and tailor in Abu Dis told Dr Rima Najjar a neighbour and lecturer at the local Al Quds University, that,

Yousef, like his two brothers, was a good boy and grew up following his father’s footsteps of hard work and a family-centered existence. When he worked at the mechanics shop before applying for and getting a job at Egged as a bus driver, people so appreciated his work and helpful manners, they would call him from the road when they had a car breakdown.

At Egged, where his brother Yahya was also employed (Yahya resigned a few days ago afraid for his safety), he was known for his reliability and safe driving, so much so that when he was attacked by racist Jewish thugs for the second  time and decided to quit, the company begged him to return after a week off and gave him a different route at his request.

Both of the attacks that Yousef endured happened recently after the kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, on July 2nd (Mohammad was forced into a car on an East Jerusalem street and later brutally immolated).  On the first occasion, Yousef’s bus was stopped by thugs and the glass was smashed. But his Jewish passengers intervened and called the bus company, who came quickly to the scene.

Yousef was given another bus and reassurances for his safety. On the second occasion, large rocks blocked Yousef’s bus and he was forced to stop.  He tried to flee, abandoning the bus (which was empty) to the thugs,  but was chased  and beaten. A bystander called the police, which came and rescued him.  Yousef wrote about the incident on is Facebook wall.

At 10 pm, on Sunday 16th, Yousef was found lynched with a thin cord in his bus by a  fellow driver who was ”waiting for him with two cups of tea, but after he realised his friend hadn’t emerged from the bus he went in to check. “When I approached the bus, I knocked on the window assuming Al Ramouni was sleeping or that it was a joke, but I noticed that Al Ramouni was tied to his seat,” said the colleague… He said it was only then that he realised that Al Ramouni was hanged. “I started shouting hysterically and many drivers gathered at the scene and opened the bus to reach Al Ramouni,”

Typically, in matters of Palestinian criminal deaths, Israeli police released misinformation blaming the victim, in this case stating falsely that Yousef committed suicide.

Inevitably, an Israeli autopsy reaffirmed this falsehood however Dr. Saber al-Aloul, a Palestinian pathologist present at the same post-mortem at the request of the al-Rammouni’s family, later said that the autopsy did not suggest suicide but rather an “organized criminal murder.”

According to Dr al-Aloul – the autopsy showed postmortem lividity on the back, not on the lower extremities, indicating that Yousef was not dangling when he died. There was “no dislocation of the first vertebrae, which is usually found in cases of suicide by hanging,” he added. The family posted images of Yousef’s body

Mustasem Faqeeh, a Palestinian driver who worked with Yousef, said he saw Yousef’s body hanging from a bar above the steps over the back of the bus, in an area that would have been impossible for him to reach and hang himself alone.

Significantly, retired British surgeon, Dr David Halpin, in a letter to the BBC wrote: “The circle of the bruised/killed skin is low on the neck. I am NOT a forensic pathologist but say a. hanging is most unlikely b. garrotting is much more likely. The ‘ligature’ is closed from the back. Whatever – the greatest evil has been done to a native of Palestine. His suffering would have been terrible.”

Dr Halpin included a US army training video  to support his observation that garrotting is a skill acquired in elite forces. Israeli elite forces such as Sayaret Matkal, Shayetet 13, Duvdevan,  Palsars from Golani, Givati Nahal Paratroopers train in Krav Maga martial art skills that includes garrotting. Given that the vast majority of Israeli adults have served or are serving in the military, there is a vast pool of suspects to draw from with Yousef’s Jewish extremist co-workers at the top of the list.

So far CCTV footage from the bus depot, that might resolve the incident one way or the other, has not been released to Abu-Yousef’s lawyer. What’s more, the cover-up and waves of violent attacks prompted, on December 12, 100 Arab bus drivers quit their jobs at Egged because “it’s better to earn less money and not come home in a body bag.”

Ultimately, Yousef’s family are the truest authority on Yousef’s outlook on life: Dr Najjar writes,

“No, it wasn’t suicide. Yousef had everything to live for. His younger son’s birthday  (Mohammad, 4) was on the Friday following his murder. He and his wife, who live in al-Tour neighborhood in Jerusalem were planning a party for the occasion and he had already bought the food, meat and dried yogurt for the mansaf and a large pot.

He was also planning to sign his oldest son’s school certificate on that day.

Yousef’s oldest son Jihad is six years old, a first-grader at Dar al Awlad in Jerusalem. The school issues a report every two months that the parents must sign.

The two boys are still in denial about their father’s sudden absence. Mohammad keeps hiding things, insisting that no one should use them because they belong to his father. Jihad, his grandfather says, heated the boiler the other day and told his mother, his father will need to take a bath when he got back.

His dream was to educate his children – one a doctor and one a lawyer, and to make sure that they owned their homes, not rented as he had been forced to do. He and his brother Yahya planned to save enough to buy their own taxi to work, one taking the morning shift and one taking the night shift.”

This sickening murder of a young father who simply went to work to care for his family is not just a family affair, it is a Palestinian affair. The black hole of grief-shock-anger-fear-helplessness that sucked in every desolate mourner in Abu Dis, seeped into every Palestinian home and heart. 

According to Dr Najjar, Yousef’s father ‘brought up his three sons in a very difficult political situation to keep their heads down and follow the rules, however unjust they were”.

But deep down everyone knows that all of Palestine is Israel’s kill zone. No Palestinian is exempt. No one escapes the maze of dead-ends set up by Israel, the US, the UN, the EU, Australia, Canada, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority that blocks every hope of safety, freedom and justice.

Carte blanche impunity is Israel’s blindfold preventing each Zionist from looking in the mirror and seeing his /her colonist devolution from a human being to racist savage. As with Nazi colonialism, Israel’s flyblown myths of military might and Jewish supremacy that supposedly legitimise its fascist oppression actually spawn maggots of self-hate projected in hate-crimes and insane atrocities against the people of Palestine.

Yousef al-Rammouni did not commit suicide. He was murdered, and his father, like any father, wants, at the very least, the integrity of his son’s life respected through a non prejudicial criminal justice system.

Yousef al-Rammouni did not commit suicide – but the day Zionism launched its colonial occupation and oppression of Palestine, that is when the colonisers, past and present, committed moral suicide.

* Jerusalem   ** Jordan Valley

Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was convenor of  Australia East Timor Association and coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.

Ukraine Headed for Disaster

December 22nd, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Perfect storm conditions threaten Ukrainians. In Europe’s heartland. Fascist dictatorship. Mass impoverishment. Growing deprivation.

Civl war. Potential economic collapse. Troubled nuclear reactors. Facing possible meltdown. More on this below.

Ukraine’s economy is rife with problems. Potential bankruptcy looms. IMF aid caused more harm than good. Largely used to pay Western bankers. Wage war on Donbas.

Small amounts replenishing evaporating foreign exchange reserves. A portion for Russia gas supplies. Nothing for economic growth.

What Ukraine needs most of all. Other than ending its dirty war on Donbas. Rapprochement with Russia. Serving its people responsibly. Kiev governance is polar opposite.

Ruthless by any standard. Reckless. Out-of-control. Facing possible economic collapse. While US-led NATO supports its war machine. A dagger used against Russia.

Ukraine needs tens of billions of dollars in financial aid to avoid bankruptcy. Impossible if used largely to service debt. Wage war on Donbas. Do nothing to stimulate economic growth.

On December 9, the Financial Times (FT) headlined “IMF warns Ukraine bailout at risk of collapse,” saying:

“…(A) $15bn shortfall” was identified. Western governments need to fill the gap “within weeks to avoid financial collapse.”

IMF estimates “lay bare the perilous state of Ukraine’s economy and hint at the financial burden of propping up Kiev…”

At a time of ongoing civil war. Resources used to wage it. Irresponsible governance.

Senior Western officials expressed little support for pouring additional billions of dollars down a black hole. At a time their economies are shaky at best.

According to the FT:

“People briefed on the IMF warning said the fiscal gap has opened up because of a 7 per cent contraction in Ukraine’s gross domestic product and a collapse in exports to Russia, the country’s biggest trading partner, leading to massive capital outflows and a rundown in central bank reserves.”

Breakaway Donbas areas accounted for nearly 16% of Ukraine’s economy. Without billions of dollars in aid, Ukraine has two choices.

Massively cut spending. Default on debt service. Or both. IMF rules require recipient countries meet their financial obligations over the next 12 months.

Ukraine falls way short. Massive corruption worsens things. Economic collapse looms. Obama’s new friends are more liabilities than assets.

Challenging Russia may come back to bite him. Ukraine a black hole of trouble. Running out of money.

Exhausting its foreign exchange reserves. Economic crisis conditions worsening. At a time Fort Russ reports 15 Ukrainian nuclear reactors dangerously close to power loss. Disastrous if happens.

Ukraine can’t pay its bills. It’s running out of coal. Civil war continues. Economic collapse looms.

About half the country’s coal mines aren’t operating. Miners walked out. Left to protect their families and homes.

From “Kiev regime assaults.” Supply roads were destroyed. Stability keeps deteriorating.

If “reactors lose power, and generators don’t operate…uncontrollable temperature rises, explosions, meltdowns and meltthroughs” will follow, said Fort Russ.

Like Fukushima. Maybe worse. Given the number of troubled reactors. Erupting spent fuel pools spell disaster.

Anyone following Fukushima knows the catastrophic conditions caused. Possible similar trouble threatens Ukraine. Western media report nothing.

Fukushima nuclear radiation “threatens life on planet earth,” Michel Chossudovsky explains.

Dumping “highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean constitutes a potential trigger to a process of global radioactive contamination.”

Imagine if multiple Ukrainian reactors melt down like Fukushima. Eurasia would be affected. Maybe planet earth.

US-led NATO created potential catastrophe. Top priority is addressing it in time. So far it’s ignored. The worst of outcomes may follow.

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. 

Understanding the Aggressive US Stance towards Russia

December 22nd, 2014 by Robert Barsocchini

To understand why US extremists (not the US public) in control of the state are putting us all in serious potential danger by choosing to target nuclear Russia, we have to look back, and, of course, beyond the narrative peddled by the aggressors themselves.

In 1918, US oligarchs and religious extremist Woodrow Wilson sent about 13,000 young American men to join tens of thousands of others from a Western-dominated axis and illegally invade Russia with intent to commit premeditated mass murder.

“Two years and thousands of casualties [including ~400 US] later,” Blum notes, “the American troops left, having failed in their mission to ‘strangle at its birth’ the Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill put it.”  Churchill further admitted that the Western axis forces were “invaders” who shot Russians on sight, blockaded their ports, sank their ships, and armed their enemies.

The British in Russia in 1918 committed what at the time was considered the ultimate conceivable atrocity: they killed people with chemical weapons – poison gas – as Churchill suggested the British Empire should also do against Iraqi civilians, in the hope of spreading what he called “a lively terror”.

The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Chomsky, Gaddis (Professor of military and naval history, Yale), and other historians find, was the real beginning of the US “cold” war against Russia, which has continued essentially without break and is today being spiked by US strongman Barack Obama and his cadre.

Gaddis says the 1917 Western aggressive invasion of Russia was perpetrated to ensure the “survival of the capitalist order” in the face of what was called a “communist threat”.  Chomsky notes that by this logic, since the US threatens to – and does – globally enforce what is called “capitalism” (the “capitalist threat”), then anyone who wants to ensure the survival of a different order would likewise “be entirely justified in carrying out a defensive invasion of the US”, and using chemical weapons, or, “if they don’t have the power for that”, committing one-off attacks like “blowing up the World Trade Center” (Chomsky of course says this to expose the hypocritical aggressor’s logic).

By “capitalist order”, Gaddis refers to Western oligarchic top down dominance of society, the system that, while ~100 million deaths occurred worldwide under so-called “communism”, ~100 million deaths simultaneously occurred under so-called “capitalist” India alone.  As experts put it, while China was bringing some six hundred million people out of poverty (U.N. stat), an achievement unparalleled in history, “every eight years, India put as many skeletons in its closet” as China did during its years of famine.  When the number of people killed under what is called “capitalism” is extended beyond India to the rest of the world, Chomsky notes, “it would be colossal.”  In the West, he continues, only the “communist” death numbers can be mentioned.  As for the number of “capitalist” deaths, one “wouldn’t talk about them”.

The “colossal” death figures flowing from their system being of no concern and, perhaps, some satisfaction to oligarchs*, and their ever-increasing personal enrichment at the expense of others being of chief import, their “order” had to be preserved, their brutal march of expansion forced onward.  Hence, the insolent 1917 Russian notion of a modification to the oligarchic order in which Russians were on the bottom had to be, as Churchill noted, snuffed out immediately.  The threat of an internal change in Russia, Chomsky notes, referring to a 1955 US study, was that places like Russia and Eastern Europe generally, the components of the original “third world”, which had long been made to provide cheap labor and resources for the Western oligarchy, were reducing their “willingness” to “complement the industrial economies of the West, which is the job of the Third World.”  That, Chomsky says, agreeing with Gaddis and others, was the actual “threat of communism” that was immediately understood and acted on by Western oligarchs in 1917.

Indeed, as racial supremacist Woodrow Wilson, who spokes-headed the US in 1918 when it invaded Russia, secretly noted:

“Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.”

Wilson’s imagery of using armed men to batter in closed doors and physically force the “unwilling” to submit to the desires of “manufacturers” and “financiers” sheds light on the words of Indian writer Arundhati Roy, who said “Those of us who belong to former colonies think of imperialism as rape.”

But the unwilling people of the Soviet Union, despite being raped “in [the] cradle” by Western oligarchs, had “managed to survive to adulthood.”  Thus, they had to be raped again by the West, “by the Nazi war machine with the blessings of the Western powers” (Blum).  This time, as many as 40 million Russians, amounting to perhaps a third of the Russian population, were exterminated.

In 1991, even when the Soviet Union, sufficiently battered and now the Russian Federation, finally “reopened” to Western-style oligarchic plunder, the West was still unsatisfied.  While maintaining in Latin America and elsewhere the terror regimes that Chomsky points out are overwhelmingly documented in scholarship to have been worse than the satellites maintained by the Soviets, insatiable US controllers now began penetrating east through Europe with their “NATO” military installations, which they had dishonestly claimed only existed to counterbalance the Soviet Union.  When Russian leaders pointed out that NATO expansion was in violation of specific US promises not to move NATO “one inch east”, US reps essentially replied that if anyone is stupid enough to expect them to honor their word, that is their problem – a point impossible to contest.

Currently, US oligarchs are using siege tactics to intentionally target all 143 million Russian civilians in attempt to expand their “order” of top-down control, exploitation, and mass death over Russian resources and labor.  In addition to this aim, perhaps these US extremists will succeed in bringing capital punishment back to Russia, will be able to vastly expand the Russian prison system to mirror the highly profitable one of the US, revoke paid maternity leave, revoke Russia’s ratification of the UN declaration on the rights of children, and make other changes US oligarchic media outlets insist are attributes of “freedom” and other keywords.

At the beginning of the “cold” war, a complete “good vs. evil” idea prevailed in America: the Jim Crow USA, just off killing perhaps a million Filipinos in a war of conquest and installing a vicious proxy dictatorship, was pure good and light, merely an innocent, by-standing angel reacting to inexplicable aggression from a clinically insane, horned Soviet devil.  This primitive biologic-religious perspective has complex origins that date back as far as history.

In the 1960s, the view was slightly revised to include a small amount of nuance, with some historians perceiving a complex situation wherein both sides exhibited various strengths and dire faults.

Indeed, in even the fifteenth century, the idea of nuance had sometimes been expressed in relation to “others”, as in the writing of jurist Sir John Fortescue, who said, “not… from man down to the meanest worm is there any creature which is not in some respect superior to one creature and inferior to another.” In this analysis, says GR Evans in First Light, Fortescue means to “include political and social order[s]”.

However, people grasping for a level of thinking achieved in the fifteenth century sent US oligarchs into a blind rage.  They called a meeting with their collaborators of the “Trilateral Commission”, and concluded that what was happening was a “crisis of democracy”, meaning features of democracy were beginning to be exhibited and needed, like the Bolshevik Revolution, to be “strangled at . birth”.  The idea that the cold war was not “pure light versus pure darkness” was heresy, and thus efforts aimed at “indoctrination of the young” (through schools, churches, media outlets, etc.) needed to be redoubled.

The idea of the good US versus evil Russia (and anyone else) was so successfully driven into the minds of the US public that almost everyone exhibits it up to today, as Robert Parry pointed out this week in his article “The Crazy US ‘Group Think’ on Russia“.  It is why so many people, as noted above, can tell you about the many crimes or faults of the Russians or Soviets (or Chinese, etc.), but if you use the words “US” and “genocide” in a sentence, the same people have one of three reactions: 1) they have no idea what you’re talking about, 2) they kind of know what you’re talking about but deny/dismiss it, or 3) they know what you’re talking about and think it is a good thing (as in the case of people like Christopher Hitchens).  What they never do is call for their “own” crimes to be punished as harshly as the very often lesser crimes of others.  This is the same unexceptional thinking that is dominant in Britain, Russia, Japan, and other countries whose internal narratives consist of ignorance, denial, or praise of their own crimes and the strictest criticism of the crimes of “enemies”.

Of course, the goal should not merely be to strive for the fifteenth century standard of adding some nuance to these analyses, but to fully discover reality.  From a nuanced view, it may be the case but does not automatically follow that both sides are equally at fault or equally to blame.  To use a well-known example, no matter how many details and nuances are included, the Nazi regime was purely at fault for attacking the Jews.  The Jews were the victims, plain and simple.  Anything in history they had everdone (about every group in history is guilty of something) or were falsely said to have done was irrelevant – they were blameless victims of a larger and more powerful aggressor.  However, the Nazis, as aggressors always do, turned reality on its head and portrayed themselves as the victims and defenders of freedom.  Thus the false narratives of dominant aggressors limiting the accuracy of one’s understanding of reality must be guarded against; if a profession is false, as in the former case, it must be recognized as such.  To uncover reality itself, as Chomsky put it in a personal exchange with me, “we disregard stated intentions … which are always good … and we try to determine what the real intentions were by studying documents and historical events”.

World War III is not coming, it is on.  All out nuclear war between the current nuclear powers may never happen – we can hope – because of the mutual destruction deterrent, which is why Washington is focusing on other means, specifically listed here, which include targeting all Russian non-combatants.  However, as Parry notes, if the US attempts another of its thus-far 60 or so illegal “regime change” operations in Russia and massively destabilizes it, which is nearly always the result of these US war crimes, extremists will likely take over and use the weapons of the Russian state.  This is exactly what extremists have done and are currently doing in post-US-regime-change Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and elsewhere – they looted the weapons of the state and are using them towards their own ends, such as overthrowing Syria.  Russia’s state arsenal, in addition to everything else, includes thousands of nuclear bombs.

But with public safety, as always, being of no concern to US oligarchs, the war is on.  The 1918 US/Western war of aggression against Russia and the Russian people has never ended.  The US oligarchy still seeks to re-subvert “willful” (Parry) Russia, snatch its wealth, and absorb its counter-balancing power, which has an unwanted democratizing influence on the international system.  The self-proclaimed king does not abide attempts to balance out a lopsided, top-down order in which he is numero uno.

One can be certain that some among the US controllers exhibit the same thinking as some perpetrators of virtually every act of mass violence in history, down to American colonists and members of the Nazis and Imperial Japanese.  They are certain that they are, as the Japanese said of their Rape of Nanking, turning the world into an Earthy paradise.  Thus even if they commit crimes, “make mistakes”, etc., they are thereby justified and should go unpunished because, in the age-old religious thinking that reverses reality, we are defined not by what we do, but by what we say or think.  Thus, as Charles Davis points out, we can commit genocide and, as long as we are doing it for what we say or think is a good reason, still make it to Heaven.

Some predators are fully aware of and relish their predation.  These people only pretend to the public to have “pure hearts”, “noble ideals”, and so on, because it helps their predation (and they probably get a kick out of how gullible and submissive to “authority” people allow themselves to be).  Some predators believe their “noble ideal” line halfheartedly.  Some, thanks to a psychological concept called “confabulation”, believe it to the core, fully oblivious to what is actually driving them.  As Chomsky said, “even the worst monsters very likely convince themselves that their intentions are good.”

But thanks to all of these people combined, the world, in fact, is constantly at war.  All that varies is the number of people at any given moment whose lives are being wrecked.  The state of war could be largelyheld in check by supporting and achieving a global balance of power (exactly what the US is trying to prevent), but can it be ended?  Thankfully, scholars of that topic, like David Swanson, and others, convincingly say yes.

Robert Barsocchini focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog, and is published in Counter Currents, Global Research, State of Globe, Blacklisted News, LewRockwell.com, DanSanchez.me, Information Clearing House, Press TV, and other outlets.  Also see: Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Follow Robert and UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

Notes:

Non-linked references:

Paragraphs 4- 8, 15-16, 18, see Chomsky on Democracy and Education, p. 324-7

*For how mass death of exploited labor can be satisfying to oligarchs, see, for example, American Holocaust, by Professor David E. Stannard, Chapter 6

Does Pyongyang have such clout that a US-made film can actually be pulled from official release?  That is normally the province reserved for local censors, certainly not hackers given a political mission.  Those behind The Interview, including Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, must have found it all a touch bemusing.   But even more significantly, the tables were turned on a film that featured an assassination plot directed at a living leader, the very much in office Kim Jong-un, albeit dressed up in the form of a comedy.

The saga began when it became clear that Sony Pictures had been the object of an alleged cyber attack by the so-called Guardians of Peace.  A trove of emails was made available, featuring, as screenwriter and novelist Clancy Sigal explained, “a marvellous study in how pictures actually get made, with plenty of bile, frustration, cross purposes, doublecrosses, misunderstandings and second thoughts” (CounterPunch, Dec 22).  It was ego triumphant.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin was less enthusiastic, seeing such material as evidence of how media has given “material aid to criminals.”  Pity the small army of Sony employees caught in this crossfire.  “Wouldn’t it be a movie moment if the other studios invoked the NATO rule and denounced the attack on Sony as an attack on all of us, and our bedrock belief in free expression?”  Unlikely – Hollywood behaviour is not governed by provisions of collective self-defence, however much Sorkin wished it were so.

Then came the flurry of accusations.  On Friday, the US President decided that enough was enough.  The trail, Obama suggested, led to needling emissaries of the DPRK – or at least, that is what his security advisors were telling him.  North Korean authorities deemed the accusation that it has initiated the attacks as “groundless slander” and suggested, rather cheekily, that a joint investigation be made.  In the words of a North Korean spokesman, “We propose to conduct a joint investigation with the US in response to groundless slander being perpetrated by the US by mobilising public opinion.”

Sony’s own explanations for its conduct have been something to behold. They did not “cave in”, and in any case, even if they did, they did so tactically.  Chief Executive Michael Lynton has suggested alternative platforms for releasing the film.

What has tended to be under-emphasised in this unfolding off screen drama is the political feed that has gone into The Interview.  An exaggerated rage over the issue of free speech has also featured.  Take Amy Nicholson in the LA Weekly (Dec 17): “Let’s be clear: Cancelling the Christmas Day opening of The Interview is cowardly.”  Blame the theatre chains – AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Carmike and Cineplex – all of whom got cold feet at threats that the opening night would see a terror storm.  As a result, “we’ve hobbled our nation’s commitment to free speech in ways we may never see”.

Interferences with the internal affairs of a state can take on various forms, even if it is framed as a “free speech” matter that sees the head of a sitting leader explode.  (Advocates of this line point to a range of films, often in the Frederick Forsyth mould, which feature a string of assassination plots, ignoring the contemporaneous nature of the current subject.)

A closer look at the response to the DPRK’s attack suggests that Pyongyang may well have had good reason to be peeved.  After all, a film from the other side of the fence featuring the assassination of President Obama, however humorous, might have seen every good office in the US used to frustrate its release.

The political stake in the film was never in doubt.  Sony chief Michael Lynton went so far as to get a Rand Corporation senior analyst to cast his eyes over The Interview, a somewhat serious gesture despite the comedic thrust of the script.  Given Lynton’s presence on the Rand board of trusties, Bennett proved to be a convenient consultant.  So much, then, for the purity of the free speech matter.

Bennett was happy to speculate that the film would have had internal political consequences.  “I think it should be released.  Once [Kim Jong-un’s] elites see it, it’s going to have some effect and it’s not going to be good for him.  I think that’s what, in the end, they were really trying to stop by stopping the release of the film” (Deadline, Dec 19).

Bennett’s conclusion on seeing the film? “I told [Lynton] I thought it was coarse, that it was over the top in some areas, but that I thought the depiction of Kim Jong-un was a picture that needed to get into North Korea.”  Bennett skirts over the obvious point that such “information operations” have fared poorly in the hermit state.

While the accusations at this point remain mired in uncertain certainties countering other forms of certainty, the legal analysts have been heading for the books to see what form of provocation the attack could be deemed. The general sense: not quite one of war, though cyber attacks have assumed importance in military manuals as potentially destructive acts.

For all of that, it is the North Koreans who are racking up the points, despite Obama’s rather flailing attempt to identify a “proportional response”.  Pyongyang has shown that it can pack quite an asymmetric punch if its interests are impugned.  The United States, in contrast, has a greater spread of targets, a huge underbelly awaiting to be slit.  This has put something of a dampener on prospective retaliation against the comparatively cyber poor country.

As David Sanger, Nicole Perlroth and Eric Schmitt of the New York Times (Dec 20) note, there is “concern over the risk of escalation with North Korea since the United States has far more vulnerable targets, from its power grid to its financial markets than North Korea.”

There is also the Chinese dimension.  Beijing’s help is being sought, as much of the DPRK’s telecommunications runs through China.  Such help from Beijing will invariably be qualified, given Washington’s own concerns about previous Chinese attacks on its cyber infrastructure.  Five Chinese hackers working for the PLA were indicted by the US Justice Department in May on charges of industrial espionage.  Any formed pact is bound to be Mephistophelean in nature.  The empire has been ambushed, and the regime in Pyongyang may have some moment, if only briefly, to gloat.

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

Israeli Rabbis Plan to Build Temple on Al-Aqsa Ruins

December 22nd, 2014 by Middle East Monitor

In the clearest indication of the growing dangers threatening Al-Aqsa Mosque, in an opinion piece published on Saturday, Haaretz discussed a group of rabbis who met to discuss the scheme for the establishment of the Third Temple on the ruins of the mosque. The newspaper published a photograph of a number of rabbis and engineers studying a map of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In a piece written by Professor Ronnie Ellenblum entitled “Bells are ringing for the ultra-Orthodox and Secular” [hebrew], the paper discussed the future of Al-Aqsa Mosque which Jews refer to as the Temple Mount.

Although the paper did not identify the rabbis who appeared in the picture, one of them has been identified as Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, president of the Temple Institute, a religious authority that is considered the most enthusiastic about destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque and establishing a temple on its ruins.

The research also involved Rabbi Yehuda Etzion, who was responsible for implementing the Hebron University massacre which left 15 students dead or wounded, and was also responsible for implementing three assassination attempts against elected mayors in the West Bank, one of which injured the then Mayor of Nablus Bassam Shakaa, leaving him permanently disability.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pledged to the king of Jordan not to take any steps that would change the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Miri Regev, MK for the Likud party led by Netanyahu, announced that she will not allow the continuation of the status quo Al-Aqsa, stressing that the next Knesset will issue a number of laws that will promote Jewish sovereignty over it.

Israeli Channel 10 quoted Regev saying on Thursday that the consecration of Jewish sovereignty in Al-Aqsa Mosque is the most important embodiment of the political, religious and cultural sovereignty of “the Jewish people on their land”.

The channel noted that this view is supported by the ministers of economy and housing, Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee Ze’ev Elkin, the head of the coalition bloc in parliament, Danny Levin.

Late Friday, a federal judge dismissed a civil claim filed against George W. Bush and other high-ranking officials regarding their conduct in planning and waging the Iraq War, and immunized them from further proceedings.

“This is an early Christmas present to former Bush Administration officials from the federal court,” Inder Comar of Comar Law said. Comar brought the claim on behalf of an Iraqi refugee and single mother, Sundus Shaker Saleh. “This was a serious attempt to hold US leaders accountable under laws set down at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946. I am very disappointed at the outcome.”

The tribunal at Nuremberg, established in large part by the United States after World War II, declared international aggression the “supreme international crime” and convicted German leaders of waging illegal wars.

The case alleged that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz committed aggression in planning and waging the Iraq War. Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that high-ranking Bush officials used the fear of 9/11 to mislead the American public into supporting a war against Iraq, and that they issued knowingly false statements that Iraq was in league with Al-Qaeda and had weapons of mass destruction, when none of those things were true.

“The decision guts Nuremberg,” Comar said. “Nuremberg said that domestic immunity was no defense to a claim of international aggression. This Court has said the opposite.”

The court’s ruling comes in the wake of the Senate report regarding the use of torture by the CIA during the Bush Administration. The Senate report confirmed that a false confession obtained from the torture of Ibn Shaykh al-Libi was cited by the Administration in support of the war.

Comar, a corporate attorney based out of Impact Hub San Francisco, primarily works with startups and venture funds. He took the case pro bono after learning about the plight of Iraqi refugees displaced through the Iraq War. Comar connected with Saleh through mutual colleagues in San Francisco.

Comar filed the initial complaint on March 13, 2013. While Comar recognizes the year-and-a-half-long effort was a long-shot, he remains steadfast. “The plaintiff will consider all her options, including an appeal. Judicial inquiry into possible wrong-doing that led to the Iraq War is warranted.”

In August 2013, Obama’s Department of Justice requested that the lawsuit be dismissed pursuant to the Westfall Act, a federal law that immunizes any government official from a civil lawsuit if that official was acting “within the scope of his office or employment.” Judge Jon S. Tigar, an Obama appointee, ruled that the defendants were shielded by the Westfall Act regardless of the allegations made in the Complaint.

The case is Saleh v. Bush (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2013, No. C 13 1124 JST). The opinion can be found at http://witnessiraq.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/12-19-14-Order.pdf. The Second Amended Complaint subject to the dismissal can be found at http://witnessiraq.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SAC.pdf. Other court filings and updates can be found at http://witnessiraq.com.

Contact: Inder Comar 

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.comarlaw.com

Office: (415) 562-6790

For the first time in its history, China commemorated the Nanjing genocide on the 13th of December as a National Memorial Day.

The mass killings and systematic rapes perpetrated by some Japanese soldiers against civilians and disarmed combatants in Nanjing, then the capital of China, for a period of six weeks or so, starting on the 13th of December 1937, is undoubtedly one of the most brutal chapters in the history of 20th century Asia. This genocide occurred in the thick of the Japanese invasion of China. Though estimates differ, it is generally accepted that between 140,000 and 300,000 Chinese perished at the hands of the Japanese during those six weeks of incredible moral depravity and unspeakable human cruelty.

The Nanjing genocide is not just recorded in Chinese archives and etched in the collective memory of the Chinese people.  There are numerous well-documented accounts of what happened in Nanjing by Western doctors, missionaries, businessmen, journalists and diplomats who were living there at that time. Japanese writers and activists have also attempted to tell the truth and some have been campaigning for justice for the people of Nanjing and China for decades.

I had some exposure to some of these individuals when I was a guest lecturer on a Japanese Peace Boat — an NGO committed to the promotion of peace — in February 2005. The passengers, almost all of whom were Japanese, were deeply concerned about their country’s role in Nanjing.  Their concern, I gathered from the organizer of the peace voyage, was a reflection of how a lot of Japanese felt about a dark blot in their history.

It is important for Japanese who are aware of Nanjing to become more vocal and get more organized at this juncture in the nation’s politics. This is because right-wing nationalists are more emboldened now to push for their agenda since the prevailing political climate in Japan appears to favor them. A number of these elements continue to argue that the genocide never took place!

They have forgotten that two tribunals established after the Second World War, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal, had convicted some of the men responsible for the Nanjing genocide of war crimes and put them to death.  And, on the 15th of August 1995, on the 50th anniversary of Japan’s surrender at the end of WW 2, the then Prime Minister, Tomiichi Muruyama, apologized publicly for Japan’s aggression, including the atrocities committed in Nanjing, and for the “great suffering” his country had inflicted upon the people of Asia. He should have also provided a written apology.

Muruyama’s successors have failed to build upon his outstanding initiative. Instead, some of them have hardened their position on Japan’s past misdeeds. A couple of them have visited the Yasukuni Shrine where the remains of some ‘Class A’ war criminals including those implicated in the Nanjing genocide are preserved.

If Japanese leaders are sincere about removing one of the longstanding causes of friction between their country and their neighbors in Asia, they should cease making these visits immediately. It would assure Asian societies that were victims of Japanese aggression seven decades ago that Japan has finally repudiated its militaristic past. The present Japanese leadership should also make a much more earnest attempt to resolve its territorial dispute in the East China Sea over what it calls the Senkaku Islands and what the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands.

At this moment, in the wake of the APEC Summit in Beijing in November 2014, there is a slight thaw in the otherwise tense relations between the Japanese and Chinese governments. That thaw offers some hope for dialogue in view of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s mature approach to the commemoration of the Nanjing genocide. He made it very clear in his speech at the commemoration that one should not “bear hatred against an entire nation because of a small minority of militarists who had launched aggressive wars.”

Given this positive signal from President Xi, can ASEAN, which is geographically, politically and economically close to both Japan and China play a role in reducing the differences and narrowing the gap between these two Asian neighbors? Can ASEAN as a collective entity encourage the two countries to address the thorny issues that separate them through a carefully planned stage by stage dialogue? Shouldn’t Malaysia as the incoming ASEAN Chair for 2015 craft a mechanism for Sino-Japanese dialogue which could lead to a lasting peace between two nations whose diligence, discipline and dynamism (3Ds) when applied in unison could well change the world?

Peace between China and Japan is therefore vital for the future of Asia and indeed the world. We should do all we can to achieve this precious peace within a short span for an obvious reason. There are actors within and without the region who are already exploiting Sino-Japanese tensions in pursuit of their own agendas. We should not allow them to succeed through default.

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

Manufacturing War: A Primer

December 22nd, 2014 by Global Research News

This article first appeared on WhoWhatWhy by Martin Hellman.

Now that President Obama’s administration is giving itself the option to have “boots on the ground” in Iraq, there has never been a more important time to look at how we get sucked into unending wars. Professor Martin Hellman examines how it’s been done for the last 70 years.

***

Of course, the people don’t want war… But… it is always a simple matter to drag the people along… All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism… It works the same way in any country.

So said Hermann Göring, Hitler’s right-hand man, before he committed suicide while facing the death penalty for war crimes in 1946.

Unfortunately, what might be called The Göring Doctrine has proved as tempting to democratic leaders as to fascist dictators. Witness these examples drawn from recent American history.

Remember the Maine?

In March 1962, seven months before the Cuban missile crisis, the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously recommended to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Kennedy that the United States use Göring’s prescription for dragging the people into war with Cuba. They suggested a number of false flag operations including:

We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. … [Or] we could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. … [fostering] attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding [anti-Castro Cubans].

While McNamara and JFK rejected these proposals, Bobby Kennedy resurfaced the idea during the Cuban missile crisis:

We should also think of whether there is some other way we can get involved in this, through Guantánamo Bay or something. Or whether there’s some ship that … you know, sink the Maine again or something. [Tuesday, October 16, 1962, 6:30 PM meeting in the Cabinet Room, recorded on JFK’s secret taping mechanism].

While that suggestion was also rejected, the Göring Doctrine came into its own two years later, when the Tonkin Gulf incidents of August 2 and 4, 1964, provided the legal basis for the Vietnam War.

Remember the Gulf of Tonkin?

At the time, the Johnson Administration portrayed America’s full-scale, boots-on-the-ground entry into the civil war between North and South Vietnam as a response to unprovoked acts of communist aggression. But a now-declassified phone call that LBJ made to former Treasury Secretary Robert Anderson on August 3 reveals the truth: communist naval forces in the Tonkin Gulf were in fact responding to U.S. covert operations in North Vietnam.

1Unbeknownst to the American public, Johnson told Anderson, American forces were already

blowing up some bridges and things of that kind, roads, and so forth. So I imagine they wanted to put a stop to it. So they come out there and fire and we respond immediately with five-inch guns from the destroyer and with planes overhead.

In other words, contrary to what he later told Congress and the world, LBJ knew that prior American actions had provoked this North Vietnamese attack.

Equally startling is the fact that the second (August 4) Tonkin Gulf attack never happened at all—a conclusion reached by several sources. A formerly top secret NSA history states unequivocally: “no attack happened that night.”

Adm. James Stockdale, who was overhead in a jet fighter sent to provide air cover for the American destroyers corroborates that this second attack never occurred:

I had the best seat in the house from which to detect boats – if there were any … but no wakes or dark shapes other than those of the destroyers were ever visible to me.

There something wrong out here. Those destroyers are talking about hits, but where are the metal to metal sparks? And the boat wakes – where are they? And boat gun flashes? The day before yesterday [August 2, 1964, the date of the first incident], I saw all those signs of small-boat combat in broad daylight! Any of those telltale indicators would stand out like beacons in this black hole we’re operating in.

During his over seven years as a POW in North Vietnam, Stockdale’s greatest concern was that his captors would realize he was flying air cover during the second “incident” and torture him into making statements which would hurt the war effort by proving that we had gone to war on false pretenses. Stockdale thought that war was inevitable, but was deeply disturbed that President Johnson had lied to win public support for it.

In spite of the first incident being provoked by our covert operations and the second never even occurring, when LBJ went on television on August 4 to beat the drums for war, he portrayed the U.S. as the innocent victim of aggression in Vietnam:

… renewed hostile actions against United States ships on the high seas in the Gulf of Tonkin have today required me to order the military forces of the United States to take action in reply.

… it is my considered conviction, shared throughout your Government, that firmness in the right is indispensable today for peace; that firmness will always be measured. Its mission is peace. [August 4 television address]

Remember 9/11 and the Weapons of Mass Destruction?

The Göring Doctrine came into play again after 9/11, when the Bush Administration rallied public support for an attack on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. This was done by continually linking Saddam to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Several years later, when a reporter asked, “What did Iraq have to do with … the attack on the World Trade Center?” President Bush replied, “Nothing. … nobody has suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack.”

Colin Powell’s famous speech about WMD at the UN

Colin Powell’s famous speech about WMD at the UN

While Bush was technically correct, he was employing sophistry. A week before the invasion of Iraq, theChristian Science Monitor noted:

In his prime-time press conference last week… President Bush mentioned Sept. 11 eight times. He referred to Saddam Hussein many more times than that, often in the same breath with Sept. 11.

[T]he overall effect was to reinforce an impression…that the Iraqi dictator did play a direct role in the attacks. A New York Times/CBS poll this week shows that 45 percent of Americans believe Mr. Hussein was “personally involved” in Sept. 11…

In a Knight Ridder poll, 44 percent of Americans reported that either “most” or “some” of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens. The answer is zero.

And then there was the second of the shifting justifications for going to war. Speaking to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell spelled out the case for attacking Iraq because it was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. The media at the time hailed this speech. But it was based on blatant fabrications.

Powell’s Chief of Staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who worked on the speech, later lamented his part in crafting that speech:

I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community and the United Nations Security Council.

Ironically, al Qaeda-linked groups, which were virtually non-existent in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, today control large swaths of Iraqi territory and are threatening Syria as well.

Back to the Future?

Unfortunately, the West risks repeating the mistakes of Cuba, Vietnam and Iraq in the current Ukraine crisis.

A bipartisan chorus of opinion inside and outside Washington has pinned all of the blame for the conflict on Putin. A New York Times editorial summed it up this way: “There is one man who can stop it—President Vladimir Putin of Russia.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a front-runner for her party’s presidential nomination in 2016, has compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler–-implying that if the West doesn’t intervene in Ukraine, Americans may well be fighting Russian aggression on their own shores in the future.

It has, paradoxically, been left to advisers to former Republican presidents to raise serious doubts about this rush to judgment.

For example, Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to Moscow, Jack Matlock, wrote:

I believe it has been a very big strategic mistake – by Russia, by the EU and most of all by the U.S.– to convert Ukrainian political and economic reform into an East-West struggle. (emphasis added)

Dmitri Simes, who advised President Nixon on Soviet matters, stated in an interview:

I think it [the Obama administration’s approach to the Ukraine] has contributed to the crisis. … there is no question in my mind that the United States has a responsibility to act. But what Obama is doing is exactly the opposite from what should be done in my view.

Henry Kissinger wrote:

The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrates that the root of the problem lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant parts of the country, first by one faction, then by the other. …

A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.

Some may wonder if these criticisms are motivated by a partisan instinct to criticize foreign policy while Democrats hold the White House (although I do not). But a voice from overseas also challenges the emerging anti-Putin consensus from another perspective.

Tony Brenton, British Ambassador to Moscow from 2004 to 2008, has warned against basing a foreign policy on the “narrative” that Putin is an insatiable expansionist:

Western policy has been built on two false premises.  … As this narrative runs: yesterday Russia took Crimea; today Eastern Ukraine; tomorrow – who knows – Estonia, Poland? This precisely mirrors the Russian nightmare of predatory NATO expansion; yesterday Poland and Estonia, today Georgia, tomorrow – who knows – parts of Russia itself? The mutual suspicions of 1914 spring worryingly to mind.

Brenton goes on to warn that “the Russians are ready to go to the brink to achieve their political objectives in Ukraine.” The Russian bear has lost many of its teeth, leaving nuclear threats—and therefore, potentially, nuclear use – as its only ace in the hole.

Which makes the mutual saber-rattling over Ukraine that much more dangerous. After 70 years, it is high time to learn from the mistakes of the past, and stop following Göring’s script from dragging us into needless wars.

###

NOTE: Other historical examples of the malign influence of The Göring Doctrine on U.S. foreign policy can be found in Prof. Hellman’s 10-part series on Avoiding Needless Wars 

China – Ghost Cities

December 22nd, 2014 by Global Research News

“Vast new cities are being built across China at a rate of ten a year, but they remain almost completely uninhabited ghost towns.

Racing to stay ahead of the world economy, is the superpower about to implode?

There are around 64 million empty apartments in China”, claims analyst Gillem Tulloch. It’s all part of the Chinese government’s efforts to keep its economy booming and there are plenty of people who would love to move in but the properties are priced out of the market.”

GR Editor’s Note

What these figures signify is that there are enough empty apartments to house close to 15 percent of China’s population, assuming an occupancy rate of 3-4 persons per apartment unit. Bear in mind, the urban population for China as a whole is of the order of 800 million and these empty apartments could potentially house approximately one quarter of the urban population. Corporate capitalism prevails in the PRC, which claims to be a Communist country: Under a real socialist or democratic government, these empty apartments would be nationalized and made available to those in need of housing

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, December 22,2014

There are around 64 million empty apartments in China”, claims analyst Gillem Tulloch. It’s all part of the Chinese government’s efforts to keep its economy booming and there are plenty of people who would love to move in but the properties are priced out of the market.

It’s after 2pm and in the new city of Dongguan shop owner Tian Yu Gao is yet to serve a single customer.It’s a bit boring”, he sighs. His open shop is a rare sight in the Great Mall: once heralded by the New York Times as proof of China’s astonishing consumer culture. Today it is an eerie vista of emptiness. “It can’t stay this way”, insists Tulloch”. When the bubble bursts, it will impoverish vast numbers of people”.

The Modus Operandi of Imperialist Propaganda

December 22nd, 2014 by Patrick Martin

Coming soon to a theater near you, a US imperialist propaganda blockbuster, the latest production from CIA Pictures, made in participation with Pentagon Entertainment, and with the collaboration of American Media Partners: Cyberwar North Korea.

Such an announcement would have been useful last week, to alert American public opinion to the impending avalanche of entirely unsubstantiated assertions by US government officials, rebroadcast uncritically by the major newspapers and television networks. The target of the blitz was North Korea, blamed for the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, which led the studio to cancel the premiere of The Interview and withdraw the film from circulation.

Zero facts and evidence have been made public to support the claims of North Korean hacking. The isolated Stalinist regime was certainly hostile to the film, a comedy based on the premise that the CIA contracts two American journalists (played by James Franco and Seth Rogen), to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after he agrees to be interviewed by them.

But Pyongyang has vociferously denied any role in the hacking attack on Sony, and proposed Saturday to join the US government in an investigation of the attack’s origins, declaring, “Whoever is going to frame our country for a crime should present concrete evidence.” This offer was quickly dismissed by Washington, which has presented no evidence whatsoever.

The FBI issued a statement Friday declaring that it had enough information to conclude that North Korea was responsible for the hacking attack, but it gave no details. President Obama pinned the blame on North Korea at his press conference later that day, but cited only the FBI statement.

Since then, the US media, with very few exceptions, has routinely described the event as “the first major, state-sponsored destructive computer-network attacks on American soil” (New York Times) and “North Korea’s cyberattack on Sony Pictures” (Wall Street Journal). North Korean responsibility for the Sony attack is reported by the television networks as unquestioned fact.

It has been left to the Christian Science Monitor to cite cautionary statements from security experts in Silicon Valley, to the effect that the presence of Korean-language code in the malware and the use of servers in China and Taiwan are not unusual for hackers, who grab bits of code from multiple sources, in many languages, and use vulnerable servers wherever they can be found.

“The speed at which US officials identified North Korean involvement in the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack surprised many experts familiar with the enormous challenges of pinpointing the origins of cyberattacks,” the online newspaper reported.

Pyongyang denounced the Sony film as a provocation commissioned by Washington for the purpose of destabilizing the North Korean government, a claim that, as the WSWS noted Saturday, is substantially true.

In a remarkable interview with the New York Times, given just before the film’s withdrawal from circulation, co-director Seth Rogen confirmed that he made the film in collaboration with the military-intelligence apparatus. “Throughout this process, we made relationships with certain people who work in the government as consultants, who I’m convinced are in the CIA,” Rogen said.

The North Korea-Sony affair is just the latest example of the type of provocation regularly employed by American imperialism to manipulate public opinion, either in support of US military and foreign policy, or, as appears likely in the current case, when the military-intelligence apparatus wishes to distract public attention from the exposure of its own crimes (last week’s report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on CIA torture).

Five months ago, the US government and the US media declared with one voice that the Russian government, or separatists armed by them, shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people. The claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin was the moral author of mass murder became the basis for a full-blast propaganda campaign. But the official investigation into the MH-17 disaster, conducted by the Netherlands, home of most of the victims, could produce no evidence of Russian involvement in shooting down the plane.

A year earlier, the US government and the US media waged a similar campaign against Syria, charging the government of President Bashar al-Assad with responsibility for an alleged nerve gas attack on US-backed “rebel” forces outside Damascus. The Obama administration declared that Assad had crossed a “red line” and ordered air strikes against Syria, only to pull back because of divisions among its allies, most notably in Britain, where parliament voted not to back such an attack. Months later, the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh uncovered evidence that the gas attack was staged by the “rebels” themselves to provide a pretext for US intervention.

These methods go on from administration to administration: Clinton used alleged atrocities in Kosovo as the pretext for bombing Serbia in 1999; Bush used bogus claims of “weapons of mass destruction” and ties to Al Qaeda as the pretext for the invasion of Iraq in 2003; Obama cited impending massacres in Benghazi as the pretext for the US-NATO bombing of Libya in 2011 and a CIA-backed Islamist uprising that culminated in the murder of Muammar Gaddafi.

There is a definite modus operandi at work. In each of these campaigns, the American government counts on the American media as a willing and entirely uncritical partner, pumping out propaganda to delude the American population. The technique is to demonize the leaders of the target countries, with Kim Jong-un only the latest in a long line, from Slobodan Milosevic to Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Assad and Putin.

Certain conclusions can be drawn. No one should believe anything that comes out of Washington, a cesspool of official lying and provocation and the principal organizer of military violence all over the world. And no one should believe anything simply because the entire American media repeats it, as there is no media so shamelessly uncritical of official lies as in the United States.

The fatal shooting of two New York City police officers on Saturday has been followed by a series of extraordinary statements from the police union and its political allies. Charging that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has “blood on his hands,” the police are demanding a crackdown on protests and the criminalization of all opposition to police killings.

Officers Raphael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were sitting in their vehicle in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn when, shortly before 3 pm on Saturday, the apparent shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, approached the car and killed both.

Brinsley, 28, had driven from a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland to Brooklyn after shooting and wounding his former girlfriend. The young man, who was clearly mentally unbalanced and evidently suicidal, seems to have been motivated in part by the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City.

After he shot Ramos and Liu, Brinsley was pursued by police into a nearby subway station, where he killed himself.

The response of the police has bordered on mutiny. As Mayor de Blasio walked to a press conference on Saturday, dozens of police officers demonstratively turned their backs on him.

Police have issued a series of denunciations of de Blasio for having indicated some sympathy for demonstrations against police violence held in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to charge NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Garner.

The Sergeants Benevolent Association tweeted on Saturday, “The blood of 2 executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio.”

Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), the police union, echoed these remarks while seeking to link the anti-police violence protests to the killings by a mentally unbalanced individual. “Those that incited violence on the street, under the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. We tried to warn—‘it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated,’” he said on Saturday.

This is nothing less than a call to attack and ban any public criticism of police abuse as an illegitimate incitement to violence.

“That blood on the hands, starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor,” Lynch declared.

A twitter post by a managing editor at AOL News reproduced a memo, attributed to the PBA, declaring: “The mayor’s hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words, actions, and policies. We have, for the first time in many years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.”

A PBA spokesman has denied that the memo came officially came from the organization.

However, these remarks were immediately endorsed by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who declared on Fox News on Sunday:

“We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police. The protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged. The protests, even the ones that don’t lead to violence, a lot of them lead to violence, all of them lead to a conclusion. The police are bad, the police are racist. That is completely wrong.”

In response to these fascistic statements, which reek of a police-state mentality, de Blasio released a tepid statement criticizing the “irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that angers and divides people,” while reiterating his support for the police and “the entire NYPD community.”

The pledge of a “wartime” response from the police should be taken as an ominous warning. It is yet another manifestation of the enormous power that has been built up in these state institutions and the deep decay of democratic rights in the United States, fueled by endless war abroad and immense social inequality within the country.

The police forces act more and more as independent sources of authority. They have been given the power to kill with impunity—in the case of Brown, Garner and countless others. In response to popular outrage over these killings, the ruling class has deployed its highly militarized police against demonstrations.

The police themselves work in close coordination with the military and the intelligence agencies. In response to protests in Ferguson, Democratic Party Governor Jay Nixon activated the National Guard, a branch of the Armed Forces, and declared a preemptive state of emergency.

On Saturday, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin activated the National Guard in preparation for further protests over the police killing of Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed schizophrenic black man who was shot 14 times by a Milwaukee police officer in April.

De Blasio’s own position is untenable. As the New York Times noted on Saturday, he has been “engaged in a high-wire act of sorts,” seeking to balance between the anger of broad masses of New Yorkers over the Garner case and defense of the police. De Blasio’s supposed sympathy for the victims of police violence can only be hypocritical and two-faced, because he fully supports the state apparatus and the interests of the corporate and financial aristocracy.

Obama too has professed a degree of sympathy for protests against police violence, even as he promotes a further militarization of the police. Earlier this month, in the aftermath of the decision not to indict Garner, the Obama White House gave its full endorsement to the network of programs that have transferred billions of dollars in military equipment to police departments throughout the country, including assault rifles, armored vehicles and even combat aircraft.

Since Saturday, the media has been busy churning out the initial barrage of propaganda aimed at criminalizing opposition to police abuse and killings. In the coming days and weeks, the killing of Liu and Ramos will be used to justify a crackdown on protests in New York and elsewhere and an escalation of police violence.

US Attempted Color Revolution in Russia?

December 22nd, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

America seeks unipolar/New World Order dominance. All nations bowing to its will. Russia is in the eye of the storm. 

Longstanding US policy calls for regime change. Eliminating its sovereign independence.

Replacing it with pro-Western stooge governance. Puppet rule Washington controls. Color revolutions are a US specialty.

Tactics developed earlier. Through years of trial and error. Largely perfected. Successful most often.

Twice ousting sitting Ukrainian governments. Ordinary people lost out both times. Much more so now than earlier. In 2004.

US-installed neo-Nazi fascists run things today. Destroying fundamental freedoms. Waging dirty war on their own people.

Impoverishing an entire nation. Bankrupting it. Goading Russia irresponsibly. Risking open conflict. With full US support and encouragement.

Color revolutions mask dark intentions. Ordinary people are manipulated like pawns. The usual suspects are involved.

Including CIA elements. The National Endowment of Democracy (NED). International Republican Institute (IRI). National Democratic Institute (NDI).

USAID. Freedom House. Soros Foundation. Anti-democracy NGOs. Right-wing think tanks. Various corporate groups. More below on how color revolutions work.

Russia is mindful of America’s intentions. Putin blamed illegal sanctions and manipulated oil prices for Russia’s economic woes.

“They will always try to chain the bear,” he said. “And once it’s chained, they’ll rip out its teeth and claws.”

“They’ll stuff it. And start to put their hands on its Taiga (Siberian forest belt). We’ve heard statements from Western officials that Russia owning Siberia (isn’t) fair.”

Today’s problem is that US-led Western nations “refuse to stop. They think they have won.”

They want Russia co-opted. Contained. Isolated. Weakened. Decapitated. Controlled. Balkanized. Plundered.

“Do we want relations on an equal basis,” asked Putin? “Yes, we do, but on the condition that our national interests are respected, in the sphere of security and in the sphere of economy.”

Peace requires building common humanitarian space. Not walls, he stressed. “Russia pays the cost of remaining a nation, a civilization and a state.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on 2014 events. Saying relations with Western countries “reached the point (where) goodwill gestures (don’t) produce required results.”

Russia is irresponsibly blamed for Ukrainian crisis conditions, said Lavrov. Illegal sanctions are imposed.

“We have repeatedly stressed that attempts to speak to Russia using the language of ultimatums is totally unacceptable and will yield no results,” Lavrov stressed.

“(I)n cases when governments of some countries try to isolate Moscow, Russia will actively foster cooperation, strengthen business, humanitarian, scientific, educational and cultural ties.”

“Our country is pursuing a multi-vector foreign policy…” Approved by Putin in 2013.

“We are ready to develop mutual and equal relations with all those who show an oncoming willingness to do that.”

“Putin has repeatedly stated that interaction with the Asia-Pacific region is a strategic priority for us throughout the 21 century, and that Russia, as an Asia-Pacific power, will take full advantage of the enormous potential of the region’s rapid development, including the development of the Far East and Eastern Siberia.”

“…(E)very nation has the inalienable right to self-determination and the sovereign right to choose its own path of development.” Russia respects this choice.

Containment wasn’t “invented yesterday. (E)very time someone thinks that Russia becomes too strong,” policies to contain it are implemented.

“Problems in our relations with the US had started to accrue before the Ukrainian crisis, what is more – not through our fault.”

“The White House has set a course for confrontation, blaming Russia for all sins in connection with the Ukrainian crisis that they had provoked to a significant extent.”

“Washington wound down bilateral dialogue” on numerous issues. “(A)ttempts to isolate some (world) leaders impose one’s own unilateral recipes from a position of ‘exceptionalism.’ which the US has taken, is futile.”

“(T)alking with Russia from a position of strength is futile.” Russophobia rages today.

US-led NATO “continues its course toward containing Russia. Steps are taken to strengthen (its) military capacity at Russia’s borders.”

Hostile actions stoke tensions. Undermine stability. Risk conflict. Obama irresponsibly includes Russia on his list of global threats.

US policies include NATO’s increased Eastern European presence. Provocative military exercises close to Russia’s borders.

Thousands of missions near its airspace. American ships in Black Sea waters.

US-manipulated oil wars. Targeting Russia’s economy. Weakening it. Making it scream. Hammering the ruble.

On December 19, Obama embargoed Russia’s Republic of Crimea. Illegally.

By executive order “prohibit(ing) the export of goods, technology, or services to Crimea and prohibits the import of goods, technology, or services from Crimea, as well as new investments in Crimea.”

(A)uthoriz(ing) the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on individuals and entities operating in Crimea.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry called his action “politicized discrimination.” Against Russia and its people.

On December 20, Zero Hedge reported federal Judge Arthur Schwab ruling Obama’s executive orders “unconstitutional.” In a  deportation case. Schwab saying:

“President Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause, and therefore, is unconstitutional.”

A previous article said rule by executive order diktats raises questions. No constitutional authority permits them.

Other than stating “executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America (Article 2, Section 1).”

Abused by bypassing Congress. “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives (Article 1, Section 1.).”

Constitutional checks and balances prevent empowering one governmental branch over another.

Diktat power reflects tyranny. Not how democracy is supposed to work. In America, it’s pure fantasy. None whatever exists.

Washington’s anti-Russian “Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 (UFSA) authorizes lethal aid for Ukraine. Including heavy weapons.

More sanctions on Russia. Intensified US propaganda. Through Voice of America. Radio Free Europe. Radio Liberty.

Washington’s global propaganda bullhorn. Suppressing hard truths. Featuring Big Lies. Turning reality on its head.

Obama may be headed for direct confrontation with Russia. Aimed at toppling its government. By war, color revolution, or combination of both.

A previous article explained how color revolutions work. In 1997, RAND Corporation researchers John Arquilla and David Ronfeld developed the concept of “Swarming & the Future of Conflict.”

Based on communication patterns and movements of bees and other insects. Applied to military conflicts and street protests.

War by other means. Exploiting the information revolution. Taking full advantage of “network-based organizations linked via email and mobile phones to enhance the potential of swarming.”

In 1993, Arquilla and Ronfeldt prepared an earlier document. Titled “Cyberwar Is Coming!

Saying “warfare is no longer primarily a function of who puts the most capital, labor and technology on the battlefield, but of who has the best information” and uses it advantageously.

State-of-the art IT techniques use “advanced computerized information and communications technologies and related innovations in organization and management theory,” they explained.

Information technologies “communicate, consult, coordinate, and operate together across greater distances.”

Cyberwar today is what blitzkrieg was to 20th century warfare. In 1993, Arquilla and Ronfeldt focused on military conflicts.

In 1996, studying net and cyberwar. Examining “irregular modes of conflict, including terror, crime, and militant social activism.”

In 1997, developing the concept of swarming. Suggesting it might “emerge as a definitive doctrine that will encompass and enliven both cyberwar and net war.”

Envisioning “how to prepare for information-age conflict.” Calling swarming a way to strike from all directions.

Effectiveness depends on various elements able to interconnect. Using revolutionary communication technology.

What works on battlefields proved effective on city streets. US-instigated color revolutions achieved regime change in Serbia (2000/2001).

Georgia (2003). Ukraine (2004). Kyrgyzstan (2005). Ukraine (2014). Other efforts fell short.

Color revolutions reflect America’s modern day New World Order strategy. Following Soviet Russia’s dissolution. Direct and proxy hot wars rage at the same time.

US strategy is multi-faceted. Including subversion. Destabilization. Mass surveillance. Blitzkrieg propaganda.  Successful swarming tactics accomplish coup d’etats by other means.

Washington openly backs Russian hard right extremists. Figures like Boris Nemtsov. Garry Kasparov. Alexei Navalny. A convicted embezzler.

Masquerading as an anti-corruption activist. A relentless Putin basher. Accusing him of aggression.

In March, New York Times editors featured his op-ed headlined ”How to Punish Putin.” Irresponsibly accusing him of empty promises.

Lying about invading Ukraine. Wanting to rule for life. With “powers on par with the czars.”

Russian democracy shames America’s sham version. Navalny didn’t explain. Or New York Times editors featuring his rubbish.

It bears repeating. Russia is in the eye of the storm. Regime change is longstanding US policy. Obama is going all-out to topple its government.

Putin is a master chess player. A world-class geopolitical leader. On the right side of history. Besting his Western counterparts.

Making Obama look amateurish by comparison. Buffoon-like. Don’t bet against him coming out on top in the end.

Our best chance for world peace and stability. By beating America’s dirty game.

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 European Powers and CIA Torture

December 21st, 2014 by Chris Marsden

Innumerable redactions in the 525-page US Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its report into torture by the CIA cannot conceal the complicity of the major European powers in the horrific crimes perpetrated by US imperialism.

Last week it was revealed that Britain had requested that its role be excised from the document, itself only a summary of a 6,700-page still-classified report. Indeed, all references to the participation of other governments in acts of unspeakable brutality were omitted at the insistence of the CIA and the Obama administration.

The CIA requested that the names of countries hosting detention sites “or with which the CIA negotiated the hosting of sites, as well as information directly or indirectly identifying such countries, be redacted from the classified version provided to [Senate Intelligence] Committee members.”

However, the amount of black ink throughout the document indicates how extensively other countries are implicated—with Europe playing a lead role.

The eleven countries operating what were effectively proxy CIA facilities included Syria and Libya—both of which subsequently fell foul of US regime-change operations. But the smaller list of six countries with secret prisons (black sites) directly controlled by the CIA included Poland, Lithuania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania.

This latter list says a great deal about the “democratic” credentials of the regimes that emerged from the Western-backed “democratic revolutions” that toppled the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe, and the US- and German-stoked civil war and dismemberment of Yugoslavia.

The CIA sites in foreign countries are identified only by a colour code, such as Detention Site Black, Blue, etc. Poland, one of the most important, was Blue.

Getting people to these sites to be tortured via the “extraordinary rendition” programme directly involved 54 governments (a quarter of the world’s states, with over 20 in Europe) in a vast criminal enterprise.

As part of ensuring this collusion, involving at least 1,000 CIA flights, millions of dollars were distributed as blood money. “CIA headquarters encouraged CIA stations to construct ‘wish lists’ of proposed financial assistance to redacted [entities of foreign governments], and to ‘think big’ in terms of assistance,” the report states. Washington paid Lithuania $1 million for establishing the Violet detention centre.

A central role was played by the UK, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Spain, including rendition of their citizens and, in the case of the UK, direct collusion in torture.

The Social Democratic government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was implicated in the rendition of Khalid El-Masri, a German-Lebanese citizen wrongly held by the CIA.

Italy participated in the abduction of cleric Abu Omar from Milan in 2003, to be tortured in his native Egypt. Twenty three US personnel (but no Italians) were later found guilty and given sentences of seven to nine years in a trial lasting three-and-a-half years. But none were ever remanded in custody, let alone imprisoned.

The UK was involved in rendition flights and interrogated suspects it knew had been tortured. Binyam Mohamed, a British citizen, was tortured and then sent to Guantanamo Bay. In 2010, the British Court of Appeal released an earlier ruling that MI5 had colluded in Mohamed’s torture.

Sami-al-Saadi and Abdel Hakim Belhaj were abducted from Hong Kong in 2004 in a joint UK/US operation and sent to be tortured by former Libyan secret police. Saadi’s children, aged 6, 9 and 11, and his expectant wife were abducted in Bangkok and rendered by the CIA. Belhaj says he was interrogated by MI6 officers in Tripoli.

Demands for an investigation of these crimes were blocked in the European Parliament in 2007 and stonewalled wherever they emerged elsewhere.

The European powers have issued only pro-forma and self-serving statements on the Senate report’s findings. European Union spokeswoman Catherine Ray said that while the report “raises important questions about the violation of human rights by the US authorities and persons at the service of the agencies,” EU states “recognize President Obama’s commitment to use his authority to ensure that these methods are never used again.”

These are naked lies. They are made by Europe’s political elite in the knowledge that Obama did everything in his power to stop the report ever seeing the light of day. They are issued amid a counter-offensive in the US involving the CIA and leading Bush-era officials insisting that torture was justified, and with US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia proclaiming it to be in accordance with the US Constitution.

Experience testifies that the European powers, Canada, Australia and the rest will continue to collude with the US in perpetrating whatever crimes it sees fit to carry out, and they will commit their own share whenever necessary. Revealed by the report on CIA torture are not merely the crimes of a former US administration, or even of the CIA as an institution. The document points to a descent into criminality by all the world’s major powers.

The real concerns of European state leaders regarding the report’s findings are two-fold.

First, there is the personal fate of individuals, such as Britain’s Tony Blair. Manfred Nowak, a former UN special rapporteur who helped draft the 1984 UN Convention against Torture, told Bloomberg News that the report could lead to “a flood of litigation.”

Second, the political elite is worried that even the limited exposure of the crimes perpetrated will arouse resistance domestically and internationally to future predatory actions by the major powers.

“Those of us who want to see a safer, more secure world, who want to see this extremism defeated, we won’t succeed if we lose our moral authority,” UK Prime Minister David Cameron pontificated.

“The upholding of legal and democratic values must be the foundation of our joint fight against terrorism,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said. “Only in this way can we gain credibility for our actions in this fight.”

This hollow and hypocritical rhetoric will not wash. Those who have long hid behind the façade of “humanitarian intervention” and condemned every state targeted for regime-change for flouting the norms of “civilisation” and “democracy” stand exposed.

Their resort to torture is not an aberration, any more than the gutting of democratic freedoms carried out in every country in the name of the “war on terror.” It flows inexorably from the drive of the imperialist powers to subjugate the world and divide its resources and markets between them. Their system must be overthrown and the entire criminal gang placed on trial for war crimes.

US Escalates Campaign against North Korea

December 21st, 2014 by Patrick Martin

The Obama administration ratcheted up the pressure Friday on the isolated Stalinist regime in North Korea, with the FBI formally accusing North Korea of responsibility for the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and Obama declaring that the US government would carry out an unspecified “proportionate response” against Pyongyang at “a time and place of our own choosing.”

Obama made no mention of the cyberattack or North Korea’s alleged responsibility in his opening statement at his end-of-the-year White House press conference, waiting until a suitable question was posed by the media to raise the issue.

The FBI offered no proof of a North Korean link to the hacking attack on Sony, which led to the studio’s cancellation of the planned December 25 release of the Seth Rogen film The Interview, a comedy whose premise is that two American journalists are contracted by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The FBI statement claimed several similarities between computer code used in the malware deployed against Sony and that used in previous attacks linked to North Korea, but these claims are unsubstantiated and computer security experts interviewed in the press have cast doubt on whether any definitive links can be established.

The American public is asked to take on faith the FBI’s declaration that it “now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions.” The statement continued: “North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a US business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves.”

Such language is ironic coming from a federal agency that plays a central role in the build-up of a police state apparatus in America. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal, citing figures from the National Center for State Courts, found that the FBI has accumulated criminal record files on 80 million Americans—more than one-third of the adult population.

Obama likewise provided no evidence of North Korean involvement, merely citing the FBI statement as authoritative. He criticized Sony Pictures for withdrawing The Interview from circulation in response to threats from the hackers, who called themselves “Guardians of Peace.”

“We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” Obama said, “because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they’ll do when they see a documentary that they don’t like, or news reports that they don’t like.”

He continued, “That’s not what America’s about. Again, I’m sympathetic that Sony as a private company was worried about liabilities and this and that and the other. I wish they’d spoken to me first. I would have told them, do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.”

This pretense of alarm over the threat to the civil liberties of Americans is just as hypocritical coming from Obama as from the FBI. His administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers for leaking information about government crimes to the press than any other in American history. Obama has presided over dragnet surveillance of the telecommunications and email of every American by the National Security Agency, trampling on the Bill of Rights. And he has asserted the unprecedented “right” of the president to order the drone missile assassination of anyone in the world, including American citizens.

As for censorship, this is a government that doesn’t hesitate to demand that major newspapers and television networks withhold information from the public, including information on massive violations of the Constitution by the government itself, in the name of “national security.” The media routinely complies, allowing the government to vet and/or censor articles and news reports before they are aired.

The latest charges against North Korea have provided yet another example of the American press corps’ readiness to function as a de facto sounding board for state propaganda. There has been no pretense of critical independence in the vast bulk of reporting on the hacking attack on Sony and the alleged responsibility of the North Korean regime, which has denied any involvement. The government’s claims are simply reported as facts, whether by the television networks and cable channels or newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post.

The government’s record of lying, whether on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, NSA spying, or, more recently, CIA torture, is simply ignored.

The daily newspapers and television networks have largely dropped any reporting on last week’s Senate Intelligence Committee report documenting systematic torture by the CIA of prisoners held in secret prisons overseas. Not a single question was raised about the torture report at Obama’s hour-long press conference.

Obama made it clear that the US government would retaliate against North Korea for the alleged hacking attack on Sony. “They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond,” he said. “We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

While the tone was matter-of-fact, Obama refused to rule out military action in response to a follow-up question by a reporter, saying only that he would not expand on his previous statement about an indeterminate future response.

White House, Pentagon and intelligence officials were holding daily meetings on North Korea, an Obama spokesman said. Before the FBI issued its finding, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was “very concerned” about the US potentially concluding that a nation-state was behind the attack. “When and if that call is made, it will be a moment to confront that reality” of a state-supported cyberattack on a US corporation, Dempsey said.

The US military buildup in the Asia-Pacific region continues apace. Obama has just signed the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which provides for expanded efforts to establish a joint missile defense system in northeast Asia, involving South Korea and Japan. This would be directed against North Korea in the first instance, but ultimately against China, the main US target in the region.

On Thursday, Obama approved the sale of four US frigates to Taiwan, under the Naval Vessel Transfer Act, over the vociferous opposition of Beijing. The sale of the guided-missile frigates “blatantly interferes in China’s domestic affairs and undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests,” a Chinese defense ministry spokesman said.

While Obama said the FBI had not linked the Sony attack to any nation other than North Korea, other US officials pointed out that North Korea’s only connection to the World Wide Web is through China, an indication that further escalation of the Sony affair could involve charging China with at least a supporting role.

Meanwhile, evidence continues to surface that the entire Sony Pictures affair, going back to the original decision by the studio to make a film depicting the murder of Kim Jong-un, was a provocation inspired by the US military-intelligence apparatus.

Email communications obtained by the online publication Daily Beast and cited in many columns and commentaries Friday strongly suggest this. Sony Pictures co-chairman Michael Lynton is on the board of trustees of the Rand Corporation, a leading private consulting firm for the CIA and Pentagon, and it was Rand’s North Korea specialist, Bruce Bennett, who pushed hard for the Sony film to focus on the assassination of North Korea’s ruler.

According to one of these emails, Seth Rogen, the film’s co-director, had initially intended the film to target an unnamed leader of an unnamed country, and it was Lynton himself “that told them to not use a fictitious name, but to go with Kim Jong-un.” The same message, written by Marisa Liston, a Sony senior vice president, said that Rogen and co-director Evan Goldberg “mention that a former CIA agent and someone who used to work for Hillary Clinton looked at the script.”

An email from Bennett, the Rand analyst, to Lynton suggested that the film could actually help unseat the North Korean regime. “I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government,” Bennett wrote. “I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will).”

Lynton responded, “Bruce—Spoke to someone very senior in State (confidentially). He agreed with everything you have been saying. Everything. I will fill you in when we speak.”

Other emails name two State Department officials—Assistant Secretary Daniel Russel and Ambassador Robert King, US special envoy for North Korea human-rights issues—as providing input to the film.

A former British citizen detained in Djibouti in 2012 alleges he was threatened with physical and sexual abuse and “strongly encouraged” to cooperate with American interrogators before being rendered to New York, court documents reveal.

Mahdi Hashi, who is awaiting trial in the US on terror-related charges, was stripped of his British citizenship in June 2012, just a few months before he was detained in the tiny east African state.

Documents filed in relation to his case by his US attorney, Mark Demarco, state that Hashi was detained “in a secret Djiboutian facility under extremely harsh conditions” and was subjected to “illegal interrogation” by US intelligence officials.

The revelation comes just days after the Senate Intelligence Committee published a damning report about the CIA’s use of torture on detainees held in secret prisons between 2002 and 2007. The CIA’s program of “enhanced interrogation techniques” was banned years before Hashi was detained.

Screenshot of court documents in the Hashi case pertaining to classified information

Somali-born Hashi arrived in the UK with his family as a five-year-old after they fled the civil war in their native Somalia and claimed asylum. At the age of 14, he became a British citizen.

After living in Egypt to study Arabic when he was 16, Hashi claimed he was “harassed” by British intelligence agencies and he and several others went public, telling the Independent they were being pressured into spying for MI5. Shortly after this he travelled to Somalia to care for an unwell grandmother.

By June 2012 Hashi was still living in Somalia, now married and with a son, when his parents called to tell him that a letter had arrived containing a deprivation order from the home secretary. The letter stated that his British citizenship was being removed on grounds he was “involved in Islamist extremism”. Under the law he had 28 days to appeal the decision.

Hashi claims he then left Somalia as there was no British embassy there from which he could launch an appeal. He travelled to Djibouti.

In legal filings the US government says that Hashi, and two others, were then “captured” by foreign authorities on suspicion of being terrorists. Hashi’s claims are laid out in hundreds of pages of court documents filed with the district court in the eastern district of New York. Many of the documents are not publicly accessible as they cover national security and have been sealed by the court.

According to publicly available court documents seen by the Bureau, interrogation of Hashi was conducted first by Djiboutian law enforcement agents. During this time he witnessed his co-defendant Ali Yasin Ahmed being hung “upside down from his ankles. He was gagged, blindfolded and beaten”. Hashi was blindfolded when taken from his cell and interrogated in his underwear, and threatened during those sessions with physical and sexual abuse. He was also told his co-defendants were being “raped and beaten”, he claims.

Following this was a two week interrogation by the Djiboutians along with ‘Americans’ – who Hashi believed to be either CIA or Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He claims they repeatedly threatened him with physical abuse and “subjected [him] to psychologically abusive treatment with an aim of obtaining compliance and extracting additional information.”

Hashi claims that Djiboutian officers warned him that Americans “tortured uncooperative prisoners who refused to answer questions” and “strongly encouraged” him to cooperate.

The ‘Americans’ interrogated him more than ten times in eleven days. Hashi was not advised of his rights, namely his right to remain silent or his right to speak to a lawyer, which according to his attorneys was a violation and an “illegal interrogation”.

The US government argues that Hashi was not advised of his rights because the purpose of the interviews was to collect intelligence relating to potential, possibly imminent, threats to the United States and its allies.

The US government will not use statements made in these interrogations in their direct case. However, the government is seeking to use statements made by Hashi to FBI agents. The FBI began interrogating Hashi several days after the ealier interrogations, according to the US government.

Over the course of a month Hashi was interrogated seven times. Though he was informed of his rights prior to the FBI interrogations, he claims that each session was also attended by at least one of the Djiboutian officers who Hashi had observed torturing Ahmed or who had previously threatened Hashi with physical torture and sexual abuse.

“I feared that my refusal to cooperate would result in physical torture and sexual abuse”, Hashi has stated in an affidavit document filed with the US district court in New York.

Hashi provided the Americans with information about himself and others, including information about his alleged membership of al Shabaab.

He is charged with conspiring to provide material support to al Shabaab, a designated terrorist organisation, and with using firearms during and in relation to violent crimes.

The US government says that Hashi voluntarily provided “extensive statements” to the FBI on his involvement with al Shabaab. But Demarco argues that these statements were “tainted” by the previous threats made to Hashi and the fact that there had been no change in the conditions he was kept in between the initial interrogations and the subsequent interrogations by the FBI.

In November 2012 Hashi and his co-defendants were transported to New York, where they were held in secret for five weeks before the charges against them were made public in late December. Hashi has been in solitary confinement ever since.

In this case it appears as though a “deliberate, two-step strategy was used by law enforcement to obtain the post-warning confession”, Demarco argues.

Government attorney Loretta Lynch, recently nominated by Obama to be the new attorney general, argued in previous court documents that Hashi’s statements were voluntarily made and therefore admissible. The government has applied to the court for permission to call witnesses from abroad to give evidence on the interrogation of Hashi by the FBI.

Calling witnesses from abroad has caused a delay, and the government was recently given longer by the court to respond to the defendants motion to suppress. They must now respond fully by December 23.

A version of this story also appeared on VICE News.

Follow Victoria Parsons on Twitter. Read the Citizenship Revoked investigation here and sign up for email updates on deprivation of citizenship here.

Chemtrails: The Secret War

December 21st, 2014 by Global Research News

“ This documentary is dedicated to everyone who wants to fight for truth and life on planet Earth.

Let’s stand up and defend our rights ! ” Antonio and Rosario Marciano (tanker-enemy.eu)

Antonio and Rosario Marciano, of the Italian website Tanker Enemy have produced an outstanding documentary entitled: “ Chemtrails: the secret war ”. This film analyses  and provides scientific evidence pertaining to the chemtrails phenomenon. 

Weather manipulation is only one (collateral) aspect of this phenomenon. What is at stake is a covert military agenda. 

This HD documentary film is the first Italian professional film on illegal geo-engineering aka chemtrails. It has been realized thanks to many friends and collaborators. For years this issue has been denied and mocked but the chemical spraying of our sky is still going on !

In September 2014, Jacques Daidié, a French activist, went to Italy and met Antonio and Rosario Marciano, well-known Italian activists against geo-engineering. The French translation is born from this meeting and has been realized by several members of the French association “Ciel voilé”, (www.cielvoile.fr).

We thank him warmly and all those who have contributed to the translation: Jacques, Dominique from Avignon, Mary from Monteux, Sebastien from St Firmin in Valgaudemard and Danielle from Gap.

All our gratitude to “Sky Watch Geneva”, on Facebook, for the English translation.

www.cielvoile.fr

Will the Real David Cameron Please Stand Up?

December 21st, 2014 by Ibrahim Hewitt

In March this year, EU leaders met to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. In a media statement, British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned Russia and said that the “territorial integrity of an independent nation has been violated” by Moscow’s action. “The aspirations of the Ukrainian people… are being crushed,” he thundered. “And Russia has acted in flagrant breach of international law.” Why was this important for the people of Britain? “Because we depend on a world where countries obey the rules,” insisted Cameron.

In July and August, during Operation Protective Edge, the prime minister refused to condemn Israel’s flagrant breaches of international law. When pushed to add his voice to that of the UN Secretary General in condemning the Israeli attack on a UN school, which killed 10 Palestinian children, Cameron told the BBC: “I’m not an international lawyer. It’s up to international lawyers.” He wasn’t so reluctant to voice his opinion about international law when it came to Russia in the Ukraine.

Indeed, even though he insisted in the summer that “international law is very, very clear: the use of force always has to be proportionate, that civilians should not be targeted”, he still pledged his “staunch support” for Israel’s “right of self-defence”. Of course, he isn’t an international lawyer, so perhaps he didn’t know that such a right does not exist for a state, like Israel, which is engaged in the military occupation of someone else’s land. His advisers would have known, though, but party interests have to come before legal niceties.

It was no surprise, therefore, to see that the leader of the Conservative Party has “reasserted his support for Israel” and told a pro-Israel lobby group this week that his party “would always stand behind ‘the homeland of the Jewish people’.” According to a report in the Jewish Chronicle, “The Prime Minister described Israel as an ‘oasis of freedom’ and the ‘symbol of success’ as he addressed more than 700 people at a Westminster lunch.” I wonder what Israel’s 1.5 million Arab citizens would say about that, given that Cameron’s Israeli counterpart plans to exclude them from national rights in the state.

Substitute Israel for Russia; Palestinians for Ukrainians; Tel Aviv for Moscow in his March speech and you will see what I mean about the prime minister’s hypocrisy. There has to be an election looming. Only such blatant electioneering could explain the difference between Cameron’s response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and those of Israel against the Palestinians.

It is thus pertinent for us to ask if the prime minister supports international law or not. Does he mean it when he says that “we depend on a world where countries obey the rules”? If he does, then how can he give such unqualified backing to Israel and its government while knowing full well that it has not only broken international laws and conventions on numerous occasions but has also ignored more than 80 UN resolutions? On a domestic level, how can his government insist that children in British schools be taught about respect for “the rule of law” as a fundamental aspect of “British values” when he is so keen to endorse a rogue state like Israel?

He apparently “told supporters of Conservative Friends of Israel that the Jewish community shared Tory values on education and opportunity for all and urged British Jews to back him at next year’s general election.” No doubt the prime minister will play the double-standards card as long as it is politically expedient for him to do so, but we know, and he knows that we know, that Britain’s Jews are more influential than Britain’s Ukrainian community and this is all about votes and election funding, not love of Israel and its people. His staunch support will vanish as and when it suits him and his party to look for votes and money elsewhere.

All of us, Jews and Ukrainians included, should ask if we can really trust a man who is so openly two-faced to run our country. We should then ask the real David Cameron to stand up. Both of them.

An Antidote to Disinformation about North Korea

December 21st, 2014 by Al Olson

This Review was published nine years ago on GR. 

Bruce Cumings, a history professor at the University of Chicago and a former Peace Corps volunteer in South Korea, has given us a badly needed antidote to the lies and disinformation about the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) being spread by the media and the Bush administration. The author has observed “the deafening absence of any contrary argument” and cuts through this smokescreen of ignorance in his well-researched historical study of North Korea.

Cumings directs his book to “the reader who wishes to learn about our eternal Korean enemy.” He believes that North Korea is a nation that cannot be understood apart from its historical past, including the “terrible fratricidal war (Korean War) that has never ended”; the 1930s guerrilla struggle against the Japanese and North Korea’s eventual emergence as a state in 1945; its relations with the South; its reaction to the end of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union; and “its interminable daily struggle” with the United States.

The author claims to have no sympathy for the North Korean government, but instead he admits to empathy for the underdog, “which is something I can’t help.” Cumings charges the U.S. with a significant responsibility “for the garrison state that emerged on the ashes of our truly terrible destruction of the North a half a century ago.”

Yes, the “history” spoon fed to Americans completely omits the holocaust from the air carried out by U.S. bombers and fighter planes against North Korean cities during the Korean War.

American planes dropped tens of thousands of bombs and many hundreds of tons of napalm on cities in North Korea. Even Winston Churchill criticized the savagery of the American attack when he commented, “When napalm was invented in the latter stages of World War II, no one contemplated that it would be ‘splashed’ over a civilian population.” Three million North Koreans died during this conflict, and 18 out of its 22 largest cities were 50 percent to 100 percent obliterated.

Cumings notes that by 1952, most of the survivors living in central and North Korea lived in caves. North Korea continued to burrow underground, and today it has over 15,000 underground facilities, many made of hardened concrete to survive nuclear attacks and American bombs. These include factories, plane hangars, and many other kinds of installations. The author again emphasizes that North Korea is a garrison state “because of the holocaust the North experienced during the Korean War.”

The 50th anniversary of the armistice ending the Korean War came and went on July 27, 2003, and 40,000 American troops remain in South Korea, where they have been since occupying the country in September 1945.

Cumings bitterly criticizes U.S. policy towards North Korea. On human rights issues, he points out how the U.S. has been fast to criticize the Communists “while ignoring the reprehensible behavior of our allies, that is, U. S. support for dictators who make Kim Jung Il look enlightened (the Saudis, for example).”

In addition, Cumings blames American confusion on an “irresponsible media” which lacks good investigative reporters, and is often “egged on by government officials.” He also blames South Korean security forces who “have succeeded for decades in getting Americans to stare blankly at one side of the Korean civil conflict, like a pigeon with nystagmus such that its head turns only to the left.”

The author stridently criticizes and blames the Bush administration for the ongoing crisis with North Korea. He accuses Bush of walking away from groundwork laid by Clinton for the resolution of the crisis. Cumings compares the foreign policy of the Bush administration to “amateur night at a halfway house,” and fears a real danger from “a mix of situations in which Bush’s preemptive strike doctrine could trigger war.”

He also castigates the radical right for their predictions of North Korea’s imminent collapse; they are “wrong-wrong-wrong,” he says, and cites a 1999 speech by CNN International President Joe Eason, a frequent visitor to the North, who stated “these guys (North Koreans) will tough it out for centuries, just the way they are.”

Part of the book is devoted to North Korean society and its development under socialism. Modern Korea had emerged from a class-divided, highly stratified society in which a long-standing system of chattel slavery had only been abolished in 1894.

North Korea experienced what Cumings terms a “smooth” transition to socialism following World War II. He partially attributes the transitional change to a long-time Korean tradition of “sharing and mutual aid of all kinds.”

Agricultural land was collectivized while farmers were able to keep their own homes and small garden plots. He credits the gardens as greatly helping farmers during the famine of the 1990s. North Korean farmland was worked communally, and farmers received a share of the harvest based on the number of hours of work they had done.

Formally low- and middle-class families now occupied favored social positions, and formally wealthy families who remained in the North could work and earn their way back up the social ladder. Only the very bottom rung was permanently reserved for Japanese collaborators.

Cumings pays careful attention to the weather and crop disasters of the 1990s. North Korea experienced record-breaking floods (1995 and 1996) followed by an equally severe drought and famine (1997). The author believes that the food shortage problem “has provided little evidence of a collapse of state power, except for breakdowns at the local level.” And Cumings adds, even at its worst, “the famine only began to approach India’s year-in, year-out toll (in proportionate terms) of infant mortality and deaths from malnutrition or starvation which I only mention because the media’s recent habit of depicting Kim Jung Il’s frolicking among a heap of starved cadavers.”

Finally, Cumings describes a declassified CIA report on North Korea, and a part of that report which describes the achievements of that society. The report says “North Korea provides compassionate care for war orphans in particular and children in general; ‘radical change’ in the position of women (there are more college-educated women than college-educated men); genuinely free-housing; preventive medicine on a national scale accomplished to a comparatively high standard; infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable to the most advanced countries until the recent famine; ‘no organized prostitution’ and ‘the police are difficult if not impossible to bribe.’”

Cumings book provides a valuable service with its informative and truthful portrayal of North Korea. This book is valuable for combating the inevitable lies of the Bush administration in its imperial quest for global domination. North Korea faces the very real danger of war and more suffering at the hands of a bellicose Bush administration — a very good reason for this work to be widely read and passed on to other interested persons.

America’s Deadly Embrace

December 21st, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Forget about Greeks. Beware US normalization schemes. So-called rapprochement. Targeting unwary nations.  

Sucking them into its web. Like spiders overwhelming prey. Allegedly ending hostile relations. Imperialism 101 suggests otherwise.

US policies aren’t benign. America is a global predator. History’s worst ever. Wanting all sovereign independent states eliminated.

Replaced by stooge regimes. Ones it controls. Subservient to US interests. Their countries looted for profit. Their people exploited as serfs.

American/Russian post-Cold War rapprochement is instructive. US-instituted shock therapy wrecked the country. Irresponsibly. Willfully.  For profit. At the expense of vital people needs.

About 80% of Russian farmers went bankrupt. Around 70,000 state factories closed. An epidemic of unemployment followed.

Over half of all Russians became impoverished. A permanent underclass followed. Crime. Suicides. Mortality. Alcoholism. Drug abuse. HIV/AIDS. All soared to intolerable levels.

GDP plunged 50%. Life expectancy fell. An oligarch class accumulated enormous wealth. At the expense of millions grievously harmed.

Corruption flourished. Scandals repeated with disturbing regularity. Money-laundering became sport.

Multi-billions were stolen. Hidden in Western banks or offshore tax havens. Russia became a hollowed-out dystopian wasteland.

Post-apartheid South Africa was similar. A horrific toll accompanied a new era. Impoverishment doubled. Forcing millions to live on less than one dollar a day.

Unemployment soared to nearly 50%. Millions lost homes. Near one million lost farms. Shack dwelling grew by 50%.

HIV/AIDS infections increased dramatically. Average life expectancy fell below apartheid era levels.

Around 40% of schools have no electricity. Most with it can’t afford the cost. About 60% of South Africans have poor sanitation. Around 40% lack telephones.

Post-apartheid came at a high price. Millions of South Africans suffer horrifically. Out of sight and mind. Predatory capitalism works this way.

Obama’s Cuba gambit threatens its 11 million people. Hopefully Havana’s leadership remains wary.

Decades of revolutionary changes are on the line. Transformational differences too important to lose.

Changing Cuba from fascist dictatorship to model populism. A previous article said longstanding US policy calls for regime change.

Wanting Cuba returned to its bad old days. Social justice eliminated entirely. Corporate rapaciousness replacing it.

Colonizing the island state for profit. Destroying decades of beneficial social change. Including high-quality education and healthcare. Free to all Cubans.

Its Constitution was adopted in 1976. By national referendum. Overwhelmingly approved. Stating in Article 1:

“Cuba is an independent and sovereign socialist state of workers, organized with all and for the good of all as a united and democratic republic, for the enjoyment of political freedom, social justice, individual and collective well-being and human solidarity.”

Article 3 saying “sovereignty lies in the people, from whom originates all the power of the state. (Exercised) through assemblies of People’s Power and other state bodies…”

Article 9 guarantees “liberty (and) full dignity…(A)ssures educational, scientific, technical and cultural progress.

Guarantees everyone able to work the opportunity to do so. Assures no disabled person “left without adequate means of subsistence.”

“(N)o sick person…without medical care. (N)o child…without schooling, food and clothing. (N)o young person…without the opportunity to study.”

“(N)o one…without access to studies, culture an sports. (N)o family…without a comfortable place to live.” The Constitution contains 137 articles.

Revised in 1992. Again in 2002. According to historian Jorge Dominguez, it establishes a sovereign unicameral National Assembly. With no presidential veto.

Empowered to “instantly remove the president, all justices of the Supreme Court, and all top officials of the Office of the Public Prosecutor.”

Subordinates Cuba’s military to civilian authorities. “It creates no authoritarian enclaves or reserve domains to protect the military, privileged economic sectors, or the Castro brothers,” said Dominguez.

It facilitates political transition. National Assembly members act by simple majority. Except for constitutional amendments. Requiring a two-thirds majority.

It can “revoke all laws, decree-laws, decrees, and other regulations issued by any other public authority, including subnational assemblies,” Dominguez explained.

It’s an effective governing instrument. Cuba has no central bank. Or other independent entity authorized for economic or social decision-making.

In 2002, National Assembly members amended constitutional provisions. Guaranteeing permanent irrevocable “quality of the socialist system,” said Dominguez.

Changes sought to constrain future National Assemblies from  ”mak(ing) fundamental constitutional changes.”

Article 52 mandated the Ministry of Education’s budget to be larger than any other ministry. The 1992 Constitution doesn’t mention Fidel Castro by name.

Or afford him special rights and protections. Or grant blanket amnesties or pardons to officials guilty of crimes. Or halt prosecutions.

Cuba has no independent Supreme Court. National Assembly members elect justices. Without tenure. Those abusing their authority can be removed.

“All individual rights are subordinate to the interests of” state, said Dominguez. So are provincial and municipal governments. No “whiff” of federalism exists.

Cubans get essential social benefits. Constitutionally guaranteed. Including high-quality education and healthcare. The state commits full support.

Including for arts and sciences. Other forms of culture. Sports. Vacation opportunities. Day care centers. Full employment.

Unemployment compensation between jobs. Pensions and disability benefits.. Elder care. Organically grown non-GMO foods.

Subsidized food, housing an utilities. Market economy practices operate in tourist, international and export sectors. Separate from Cuba’s socialist economy. Substantially sustains it.

According to Dominguez, political transition in Cuba isn’t likely unless new governance continues providing constitutionally enshrined social rights.

In 2014, Cuba granted state-owned enterprises more autonomy. Freeing their managements. Vice President Marino Murillo saying:

“If we don’t transform the socialist state companies positively, we won’t be able to bring up to date the Cuban economic model.”

One change lifted limits on wages paid. State-owned companies can now use half their after-tax profit. For recapitalization and/or new investment.

Despite Cuba’s increasing private sector, state-owned enterprises remain the backbone of Cuba’s economic model.

In his 2008 inaugural address, Raul Castro said Cuba would “advance in an articulate, sound and well-thought out manner.”

Raising Cuba’s overall standard of living. Increasingly tying individual prosperity to initiative and work performance.

Farmers now work small portions of land on their own. Limited numbers of traders operate privately. Used cars are sold this way.

Access to consumer goods was expanded. Including computers. Cell phones. Home appliances. Greater private use of state land was authorized.

In 2010, new self-employment rules were established. Around 75,000 licenses were issued. Over 50% more than in 2009.

In 2011, purchase and sale of private property was authorized. Credit mechanisms for small businesses and cooperatives were established.

Instituted changes are measured. Limited. Short of Western rapaciousness. Key is keeping them this way.

Not easy with America’s dirty hands involved. Operating out of their Havana embassy. Targeting Cuba for regime change.

Perhaps by color revolution. A US speciality. Fascists replacing democrats.

Months earlier, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said Washington spent around $5 billion sabotaging Ukrainian democracy over the past 20 years.

Calling it “democracy promotion.” Establishing a fascist dictatorship. Run by neo-Nazis.

How many billions has Washington spent over the past half century trying to transform Cuba the same way?

What’s ongoing now covertly? With diplomatic relations established, Cuba will be swarming with CIA and FBI operatives. US-funded anti-democracy agencies.

Right-wing think tanks will be involved. Corporate predators intend getting their dirty hands on Cuba’s economy. Raping it for profit.

Will Raul Castro’s government stop them? Will decisive action to taken to maintain Cuba’s core economic model?

Will its officials stay true to their roots? Will they prevent Cuba from becoming a hemispheric Ukraine?

Once America’s dirty hands get involved, will they be able to stop them? Cuba did for over half a century.

Will it stay resolute ahead? Social justice depends on it. Freedom from corporate rapaciousness.

Cuba’s existence as a free sovereign state is up for grabs. What’s too precious to lose.

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.

Cuba Blasts a Hole in the Blockade

December 21st, 2014 by Prof. Tim Anderson

The dramatic shift in Cuban-US relations has caused joy both in Cuba and amongst those of us who backed the independent island for decades, but confusion elsewhere.

I have seen writers, apparently sympathetic to the Cuban Revolution, claiming that Raul Castro has ‘betrayed’ the Revolution, or that an avalanche of US capital is about to arrive and take over the island. Such statements are alarmist and misleading. Let us take a more sober and better informed look at what is happening and why it is happening.

The US economic blockade of Cuba, in place since the early 1960s, was part of a US strategy to isolate Revolutionary Cuba, incite desperation and bring the country to its knees. While that plan failed, it also caused tremendous damage to the Cuban economy, especially since the tightening under two US laws of the 1990s, which impose sanctions on third parties. Just this month it emerged that the German Commerzbank faces US fines of one billion dollars for carrying out transactions with Cuba, Iran and some other countries subject to US unilateral sanctions. All this has hurt Cuba. The blockade is said to have caused Cuba more than one trillion dollars in damages.

The Cuban Revolution never broke diplomatic and commercial relations with the USA, rather the reverse. After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, and after Cuba nationalised all US companies, the Cuban proposal for compensation was long-term payment in revenue from sugar sales to the US. The US rejected this and ordered an economic blockade (Washington calls this an ‘embargo’), thus closing all US-linked refineries and forcing Cuba into its ‘sugar for oil’ deal with the Soviet Union.

Thirty years later, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba was forced to revise its economy, opening to tourism, building a medical services industry and providing much needed support to infrastructure and industry through a foreign investment law (1995), which mainly provides for joint ventures. There have been some revisions to that foreign investment law, under recent economic reforms, but nothing of this sort is linked to relations with the US.

People concerned about Cuba should understand this point: in the re-opening of relations with Washington, Cuba has made precisely no concessions in terms of its own social and economic policy. The only quid pro quo so far has been the exchange of two US spies (Alan Gross and another unnamed person) for Cuba’s five national heroes, who were jailed in 1998 for attempting to stop Miami based terrorist attacks on the island. Cubans are overjoyed that the Five are home.

The recent breakthrough in relations is yet go through a longer process in the US, as there will be much political heat and noise, because important parts of the sanctions on and freeze in relations with Cuba is embedded in law. Obama has announced he has amendments ready for Congress. But the US media will be a very poor source of information on why the changes are taking place. They will say, as they did during a similar ‘Cuban spring’ in the 1970s, that the ‘embargo’ has failed but we will change Cuba with our commerce, our democracy and our freedom. Anyone who believes this should go back to Politics 101.

Why then did the US agree to the Cuban demand for normalisation, without conditions, especially as Washington is currently engaged in aggressive measures against Venezuela, Syria and Russia? The answer lies in the powerful unification processes underway in Latin America and the Caribbean. The late Hugo Chavez, with his ‘political father’ Fidel Castro, knew that the Latin American nations had to unite to be able to stand up to a big power. That is why Chavez initiated the ALBA, UNASUR and the CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), the latter representing all the peoples of the Americas (600 million) except the USA and Canada (330 million).

Last year Cuba had the Presidency of the CELAC, causing alarm in Washington. Where it had isolated Cuba in the 1960s, now the USA was isolated. The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is long dead, even if neoliberal projects remain. US-backed conflicts in Latin America were being resolved by UNASUR. Meantime, CELAC was dealing directly with the Europeans. The Washington-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) was and is sidelined.

Powerful US lobbies have been addressing this problem for the last few years, mainly because of fear of isolation in the Americas and of being frozen out of new markets and fields of investment (see: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-29/cuba-embargo-under-pressure-as-obama-urged-to-ease-it.html). The New York Times, clearly with investor group backing, ran a series of articles over October-December, urging an end to the ‘embargo’ (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/opinion/sunday/end-the-us-embargo-on-cuba.html?_r=0 ). Perhaps most telling was the May letter from a group of Washington establishment figures, including John Negroponte, former death squad organiser. They couched their argument in the usual rhetoric of ‘freedom and civil society’, and opportunities for the US to change Cuba, but importantly added their fear: ‘the U.S. is finding itself increasingly isolated internationally in its Cuba policy’ (http://media.bloomberg.com/bb/avfile/rqfvUFFN8vl8).

The key driver of change has been Cuban resistance, combined with Latin American unity. The US economic blockade was opposed successfully by Cuban motions at the United Nations for more than 20 years, every year. In recent years the US has only counted on the support of Israel and one or two tiny, dependent pacific islands. Abstention since the 1990s has almost disappeared, giving Cuba the support of 188 to 189 countries each year. I say this to demonstrate that Cuba has consistently wanted to ‘normalise’ its relations with a power it considers a huge imperial threat, but nevertheless a neighbour with which it has to coexist.

Fidel Castro and Raul Castro have made the same point for decades: Cuba wants relations with the US, but on conditions of formal equality, with respect for independence and without any pressure or blackmail. It has always been the US that has attempted to impose conditions, for example, demanding that Cuba get out of Africa in the 1980s, or that Cuba changes its political and economic system, or that Fidel resigns, or that Cuba releases imprisoned US agents. In the end the US surrendered its failed policy, without conditions.

Making use of US news sources, some commentators have claimed that Cuba mainly depends on remittances from the US, or that there is no foreign investment in Cuba. Both statements are quite false. While remittances are important for many families, Cuba’s two biggest foreign income earners for the past two decades have been medical services and tourism. Since the mid-1990s there have been several large foreign investors in Cuba: Venezuela, China, Brazil and Spain. If people want to understand anything about Cuba they will have to wean themselves off US news sources. Try reading Cubadebate or watching Telesur.

After the breakthrough the NYT sums it up pretty well: ‘Castro Thanks U.S. in Speech But Reaffirms Communism’. Perhaps a little more respect is due for the resistance and modest achievements of little peoples, rather than imagining that the logic of the empire always prevails. The history of Cuba should have given us cause to reflect on that.

This week the members of the United Nations Security Council have been carefully studying two draft resolutions on Palestine: we will call them “Draft I” and “Draft II” (see complete version of both documents at the end of this note). 

United States top officials have declared that they will not support the first draft presented, while France, United Kingdom and others are working and consulting on a second version (see JerusalemPost note).  Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs has called the resolution a “gimmick” (see Newsweek note) while another top official in Israel as an “act of war” (see note from Timesofisrael). 

Last December 17, European Parliament adopted a resolution referring to “its strong support for the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security on the basis of the right of self-determination and full respect of international law” (see official press release).

The very same day of December 17, the European Union Tribunal annulled, on procedural grounds, the European Council measures maintaining Hamas on the “European list of terrorist organisations” (see official press release): the inclusion of Hamas on this list was done in December 2001 as part of a set of measure taken after September 11. The same 17 December 2014 in Geneva, the State Parties to IV Geneva Convention on International Humanitarian Law adopted a declaration on its application in Palestine, with the absence of Australia, Canada, Israel and Rwanda delegations. Israel ambassador in Geneva considered that Switzerland initiative was (in French) “politique et amorale” (see press note of TDG). The Direction Fédérale des Affaires Etrangères (DFAE) of Switzerland, in charge of the organization of this meeting, refers the group of Australia, Canada,Israel, United States and Rwanda in the following words: “ Un petit nombre de Hautes parties contractantes ont exprimé leur opposition et n’ont pas participé à la conférence.” (see official press release): it has to be recalled that Israel made pressures on Switzerland not only with United States in order to boycott this meeting (see note of Timesofisrael ).

In addition to general rules of international law applicable to inter State relations and in addition to obligations of humanitarian law during armed conflict, another set of basic international regulations violated by Israel interested recently international community: a few days before December 17, a secret CIA report made available by US Senate (see full text of this report) referred to Israel court decisions used as a “precedent” to justify torture by US officials during G.W. Bush Administration (see Jerusalem Post note). In recent declarations US Ambassador at the United Nations declared, in relation with International Criminal Court (ICC) and Palestine that: “The ICC is of course something that we have been absolutely adamant about. Secretary Kerry has made it very, very clear to the Palestinians, as has the President. I mean, this is something that really poses a profound threat to Israel” (sic) (see note with interview of S. Power).

Taken into considerations these few elements from international law legal perspective, the reader can better understand Israel fears concerning both drafts of this resolution.

Draft Resolution I 

Palestinian blue draft resolution in the Security Council at 7:07 PM Draft Resolution (17 December 2014) 

Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967); 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009) and the Madrid Principles, 

Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, 

Reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, 

Recalling General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947, 

Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and recalling its resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979) and 465 (1980), determining, inter alia, that the policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, Affirming the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and relevant resolutions, including resolution 194 (III), as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative,

Underlining that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, and calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip, including the sustained and regular opening of its border crossings for normal flow of persons and goods, in accordance with international humanitarian law,

Welcoming the important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts recognised by the World Bank and the IMF in 2012 and reiterating its call to all States and international organizations to contribute to the Palestinian institution building programme in preparation for independence, 

Reaffirming that a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-State solution, building on previous agreements and obligations and stressing that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties, and fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties, 

Condemning all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, and reminding all States of their obligations under resolution 1373 (2001), 

Recalling the obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection in situations of armed conflict, 

Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders, 

Noting with appreciation the efforts of the United States in 2013/14 to facilitate and advance negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement, 

Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a long-term solution to the conflict, 

1. Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfills the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized borders; 

2. Decides that the negotiated solution will be based on the following parameters: 

borders based on 4 June 1967 lines with mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps ; security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine, including through a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces which will end the occupation that began in 1967 over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed the end of 2017, and that ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine through effective border security and by preventing the resurgence of terrorism and effectively addressing security threats, including emerging and vital threats in the region. A just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugee question on the basis of Arab Peace Initiative, international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194 (III); Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two States which fulfils the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship; an agreed settlement of other outstanding issues, including water;

3. Recognizes that the final status agreement shall put an end to the occupation and an end to all claims and lead to immediate mutual recognition; 

4. Affirms that the definition of a plan and schedule for implementing the security arrangements shall be placed at the center of the negotiations within the framework established by this resolution; 

5. Looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full Member State of the United Nations within the timeframe defined in the present resolution; 

6. Urges both parties to engage seriously in the work of building trust and to act together in the pursuit of peace by negotiating in good faith and refraining from all acts of incitement and provocative acts or statements, and also calls upon all States and international organizations to support the parties in confidence-building measures and to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations; 

7. Calls upon all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949; 

8. Encourages concurrent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region, which would unlock the full potential of neighborly relations in the Middle East and reaffirms in this regard the importance of the full implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative; 

9. Calls for a renewed negotiation framework that ensures the close involvement, alongside the parties, of major stakeholders to help the parties reach an agreement within the established timeframe and implement all aspects of the final status, including through the provision of political support as well as tangible support for post-conflict and peace-building arrangements, and welcomes the proposition to hold an international conference that would launch the negotiations; 

10. Calls upon both parties to abstain from any unilateral and illegal actions, including settlement activities, that could undermine the viability of a two-State solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution;

11. Calls for immediate efforts to redress the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip, including through the provision of expanded humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations agencies and through serious efforts to address the underlying issues of the crisis, including consolidation of the ceasefire between the parties; 

12. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution every three months; 

13. Decides to remain seized of the matter. 

Draft resolution II 

The Security Council , 

PP1. Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967), 338(1973) 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009) and the Madrid Principles, 

PP2. Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israe and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders, 

PP3. Reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, 

PP4. Recalling General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 and its recommendation on the question of Palestine and the establishment of the independence of the Arab and Jewish States, 

PP5. Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and recalling its resolutions, 446 (1979), 452 (1979) and 465 (1980), determining, inter alia, that the policies and practices of Israel establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, 

PP6. Underlining that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will part of the Palestinian state and calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip, 

PP7. Welcoming the important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts recognized by the

world bank and the IMF in 2012 and reiterating its call to all states and international organizations to contribute to the Palestinian institution building programme in preparation for statehood, 

PP8. Reaffirming that a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be bases on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-state solution, building on previous agreements and obligations and stressing that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties and fulfills the aspirations of both parties. 

PP9. Condemning all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, and reminding all States of their obligations under resolution 1373 (2001), 

PP10. Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and recognized borders, 

PP11. Noting with appreciation the efforts of the United States in 2013-14 to take forward negotiations aimed at final settlement, 

PP12. Aware of the responsibilities to help secure a long term solution to the conflict, 

OP1. Affirms the urgent need to attain, no latter than 24 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that fulfills the vision of two independent democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized border; 

OP2. Decides that the negotiated solution will be based on the following parameters:

- borders based on 4 June 1967 with mutually agreed limited equivalent land swaps;

- security agreements that respect the sovereignty of a non-militarized state of Palestine, including through a full phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces which will end the occupation that began in 1967 over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe, and that ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine through effectively with security threats including with new and vital threats in the region;

- an agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee question, including a viable mechanism to provide for reparation, resettlement, compensation and other agreed measures for a conclusive resolution;

- Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two States which fulfills the aspirations of both parties and protects freedom and worship;

- an agreed settlement of other outstanding issues, including water;

OP3. Recognizes that the final status agreement shall put an end to all claims to the occupation and lead to immediate mutual recognition;

OP4. Affirms that the definition of a plan and schedule for implementing the security arrangements shall be placed a the heart of the negotiations within the framework established by this resolution;

OP5. Looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full member of the United Nations;

OP6. Urges both parties to engage seriously in the work of building trust and to act together in the pursuit of peace by negotiating in good faith and eschewing provocative acts or statements and also calls upon all states and international organizations to contribute to an atmosphere conductive to negotiations;

OP7. Encourages concurrent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region, which would unlock the full potential of neighborly relations in the Middle East and reaffirms in this regard, the importance of the full implementation of the Arab Peace initiative;

OP8. Calls for a renewed negotiation framework that the close involvement, alongside the parties, of major stakeholders, to provide political support as well as concrete support for post-conflict arrangements, to help the parties reach an agreement within the established timeframe and implement all aspects of the final status;

OP9. Calls upon both parties to abstain from any new actions, including settlement activities, that could undermine the viability of a two state solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution;

OP10. Requests the Secretary General to report on the implementation of this resolution every three months.

Nicolas Boeglin is a Professor of Public International Law, Law Faculty, Universidad de Costa Rica.

In a December 19th interview in the Russian magazine Kommersant, George Friedman, who is the Founder and CEO of Stratfor, the ‘Shadow CIA’ firm, says of the overthrow of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych that occurred on February 22nd of 2014:

“It really was the most blatant coup in history.”

Perhaps he is saying this because of the videos that were uploaded to the Web which showed it to be so, but this statement by him contradicts the description that is asserted by the U.S. White House and the European Union, and the Western press, which description is that Yanukovych’s overthrow was instead just the result of the U.S. Government’s $5+ billion expense since 1991 to establish ‘democracy’ in Ukraine.

Friedman further says that “The Russian authorities can not tolerate a situation in which western armed forces will be [in Ukraine] a hundred kilometers from Kursk or Voronezh [in Russia]”, and that the goal of the U.S. is to “maintain the balance of power in Europe, helping the weaker party,” which he says is Europe. He furthermore says,

“The United States considers the most dangerous potential alliance to be between Russia and Germany. This would be an alliance of German technology and capital with Russian natural and human resources.”

So: the U.S. is trying to antagonize Germans against Russia. This will weaken both of them. However, that would be not a “balance of power” but an increasing imbalance of power in favor of the United States. The Russian interviewer failed to catch his inconsistency on that.

Friedman was consistent with the U.S. Government’s line that Russia is a threat to the U.S.; he said: “No American president can afford to sit idly by if Russia becomes more and more influential.” He said that this is especially the case in the Middle East, and regarding Syria. But he then clarified himself, “I’m not saying that Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict was the cause of the Ukrainian crisis, it would be a stretch.” Regarding Ukraine, he said:

“The bottom line is that the strategic interests of the United States are to prevent Russia from becoming a hegemon. And the strategic interests of Russia are not to allow the US close to its borders.”

He avoided even to mention the United States as possibly being a “hegemon” itself, one which is trying, along with its NATO allies, to crush Russia for its resisting America’s hegemony — that is, global dominance by America’s aristocracy.

President Obama had something to say about this very question when speaking at West Point on May 28th and asserting (with loaded anti-Russian assumptions and false outright allegations):

“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. … The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed [sp.: past [[somebody at the White House didn’t even know the difference between ‘past’ and ‘passed’ and still don’t, six months afterward]] and it will be true for the century to come.”

So: The U.S. President was telling West Point’s graduating cadets that the U.S. is the only hegemon and will stay that way for at least a hundred years. This was their marching-order, from the U.S President himself, their own Commander-in-Chief, representing America’s aristocracy (in this alleged ‘democracy’), for whom they will fight and kill, and, some of them, perhaps even die, or else become crippled for life.

Friedman closed by saying,

“Russia will not make concessions in the Crimea, this is obvious. But I believe that it could face serious problems with supplies to the peninsula. Yet Moscow can not retreat from some of its requirements with regard to Ukraine. It cannot be allowed that Western military appear in Ukraine. This is a nightmare in Moscow. … This is already happening, slowly but occurs. And it will be something that Russia does not accept … The US is not aiming that you need to have control over Ukraine, but that it is important that it is not controlled by Russia.”

Here he was repeating his idea that America isn’t seeking to achieve advantage over Russia — that the U.S. has no hegemonic intentions, just “balance of power,” notwithstanding the Commander-in-Chief’s charge, months earlier, to his troops, for them to extend America’s hegemony another century.

He said that this overthrow in Ukraine was a coup aimed against Russia, but then he closed with this statement that Russia is hegemonic but that the U.S. is not, which contradicts it.

Apparently, Mr. Friedman was nervous about losing U.S. Government business by being too honest, but he had already been too honest about the coup, and his self-contradictions didn’t help him at all. Perhaps he believed that the vast majority of people can be fooled, as Americans were about “Saddam’s WMD” and still are about “torture aimed at finding truth,” none of which ever was true, but all of which the aristocracy wanted people to believe to be true.

Their rule seems to be: Fools never learn, it’s what they are and will continue to be, no matter how often they’ve been fooled in the past. Perhaps George Friedman was relying on this rule. But why then did he say things that are true but that his paymasters say are not? Might this ‘intelligence expert’ not be intelligent after all? If so, he has fooled the U.S. Government into thinking that he is: he’s succeeded.

Here is an attempt to address the same issues that Friedman did, but without internal contradictions.

Michigan political prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney is now being held in Jackson state prison. He remains in good spirits despite the racist injustice that has landed him in detention over manufactured claims that he changed the dates on five signature entries on a recall petition designed to remove Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. 

During the course of the trial there was no material or circumstantial evidence presented that would implicate Pinkney in the purported five felonies. Many believe that the Berrien County activist and leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO) is being punished by the local authorities for opposing the corporate program of Whirlpool Corp. which is headquarters in Benton Harbor.

In 2012, Pinkney and BANCO led an “Occupy the PGA” demonstration against the world-renown golf tournament that was held at the newly-created Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on Lake Michigan. The course was carved out of Jean Klock Park which had been donated to the City of Benton Harbor decades ago.

Berrien County officials were determined to defeat a recall campaign against Mayor Hightower of Benton Harbor who opposed a program to tax local corporations in an effort to create jobs and improve conditions in the majority African American municipality. Benton Harbor, like other Michigan cities, has been devastated by widespread poverty and unemployment.

Statements of Support Pour In

This is not the first time that Pinkney has been imprisoned for his political activities. In 2007 he was convicted in a second trial, with the first ending in a hung jury, for “mishandling” absentee ballots during a recall election involving two Benton Harbor City Commissioners. The results of the elections removing the officials were overturned after criminal charges were filed against the BANCO leader.

Pinkney was sentenced to one year under house arrest and four more years of probation. Later in 2007, he was charged with violating his terms of the sentence for allegedly threatening a judge in Berrien County.

The threat charge stemmed from an article he wrote in the People’s Tribune newspaper based in Chicago where he quoted scriptures from the Old Testament. He was ordered imprisoned for three to ten years.

The charges were overturned in late 2008 by the Michigan Appeals Court after the activist received widespread support from the civil liberties, ecumenical and academic communities across the country. He was released at the end of 2008 and successfully completed his probation returning to full-time activism in Berrien County.

Pinkney in 2008 from his prison cell ran for United States Congress on the Green Party ticket in Michigan. He received 3,500 votes in a challenge to Fred Upton, a Republican congressman and heir to the Whirpool corporate dynasty.

In a statement issued by Green Party Watch it says that “The overt targeting of an African-American activist for a politically-motivated prosecution is reminiscent of recent episodes involving Chuck Turner and Elston McCowan, both Greens who challenged the power structures in their communities. In a system where police officers regularly kill unarmed African-American men without facing trial, it is especially galling that the same system sentences an African-American activist to up to 10 years imprisonment on trumped-up, politically-motivated charges.” (Dec. 17)

Black Agenda Report, a well-known media outlet opposing the corporate influence over African American politics in the U.S., wrote in an editorial that

“This may seem like an Old Jim Crow story, about a preacher from a small, mostly Black town who wanted only to help his people through the voting process, but is set upon by backward whites determined to maintain their monopoly on political power. And, it is true; Old Man Jim Crow is alive and well on the banks of Lake Michigan.” (Dec. 17)

This same editorial goes saying “But it is the New Jim Crow, the Mass Black Incarceration State, that has snatched 66 year-old Rev. Pinkney away to what could become life in prison. The judge and prosecutor said that Pinkney’s 12 past and present felony convictions make him a career criminal, even though each count stems from an elections process. The Old Jim Crow would have unapologetically sent Pinkney to the chain gang for being an uppity Black man, but the New Jim Crow simply piled on a bunch of felonies to put him away as a serial criminal, allowing the system to claim that race had nothing to do with it.”

A national conference call was held on Thurs. Dec. 18 designed to build a defense campaign. Former Vermont State Senator Ben-Zion Ptashnik initiated the call through the People Demanding Action (PDA) organization.

The conference call included activist members of the clergy, electoral reform organizers, former Green Party candidates, progressive Democrats, the People’s Tribune newspaper, Moratorium NOW! Coalition, and others. The call provided an update on the case, plans to publicize the plight of Rev. Pinkney and the people of Berrien County, recruiting a legal team and a fundraising drive to proceed with an appeal.

Ptashnik and Victorial Collier wrote in Truth-out.org on Dec. 16 that “Concerned activists and clergy associated with People Demanding Action, a national social justice organization, are circulating a petition to ministers and various organizations. The petition is to be forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder, asking for an investigation into the circumstances of Pinkney’s trial and sentencing.

To sign the petition in support of Rev. Edward Pinkney log on to:

http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6405/c/10113/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10735

Contributions for the defense of Rev. Pinkney can be sent to BANCO at 1940 Union Street, Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022.

The coordinated manipulation of global energy prices, a NATO build-up in Eastern Europe, and the rekindling of terrorism in Russia’s southern Caucasus region all appear to be ever-increasing crescendos toward a much larger event – a “Russian Maidan.”

The necessary components of a successful Western bid to overthrow the Russian political order include a political front protesting in Russia’s major cities, as well as a full-spectrum economic war to put pressure on Russia’s population, increasing dissent as well as swelling the ranks of staged protests Wall Street and Washington put in Russian streets. Another necessary component includes armed components to act under cover of “peaceful protesters” to escalate street demonstrations, prevent security forces from restoring order, and to carry out the actual physical overthrow of these security forces.

These elements could all be seen in neighboring Ukraine – a nation in which America and NATO’s incessant meddling is a matter of long-standing public record. The Guardian would admit in its 2004 article, “US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev,” that (emphasis added):

…while the gains of the orange-bedecked “chestnut revolution” are Ukraine’s, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.

Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box. 

Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze. 

Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko. 

That one failed. “There will be no Kostunica in Belarus,” the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.

But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev. 

The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections.

Not only has Ukraine suffered because of  this admitted US-backed political destabilization over the years, but as revealed by the Guardian and other sources, all of Eastern Europe has fallen prey to this brand of foreign-backed subversion, manipulation, and regime change. Considering this documented fact, the prospect of Wall Street and Washington trying likewise in Russia itself is not only possible, it has already been tried before, with likely attempts in the future only inevitable.

The Blockade…

Already at work is a coordinated manipulation of world oil prices. Revealed among plunging oil prices is that the entire industry is centrally manipulated not by market forces but by political agendas involving the US and its partners in the Middle East, most notably the enduring dictatorship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. While any nation possesses the ability to weather such economic measures in the long-term as Iran and Cuba have proven, in the short-term, economic instability is one of the harbingers of political subversion where ranks of street demonstrations can be swelled by those who perceive such economic instability as the fault of the current government, rather than an economic attack from abroad.

The Political Front and Muscle

177465_900The political front that will take to Russia’s streets has already long been identified. It includes the same brand of extreme “nationalists” and ultra-right groups seen overrunning Ukraine’s political order. This includes literal Neo-Nazis. One of the prevailing figures among Russia’s ultra-right is US-backed Alexey Navalny – billed by the West as an “anti-corruption activist,” who is in all reality a neo-fascist operating openly in the service of Wall Street.

Alexey Navalny was a Yale World Fellow, and in his profile it states:

Navalny spearheads legal challenges on behalf of minority shareholders in large Russian companies, including Gazprom, Bank VTB, Sberbank, Rosneft, Transneft, and Surgutneftegaz, through the Union of Minority Shareholders. He has successfully forced companies to disclose more information to their shareholders and has sued individual managers at several major corporations for allegedly corrupt practices. Navalny is also co-founder of the Democratic Alternative movement and was vice-chairman of the Moscow branch of the political party YABLOKO. In 2010, he launched RosPil, a public project funded by unprecedented fundraising in Russia. In 2011, Navalny started RosYama, which combats fraud in the road construction sector.

The Democratic Alternative, also written DA!, is a US State Department National Endowment for Democracy (NED) fund recipient, implicating Alexey Navalny as an agent of US-funded sedition. The US State Department itself reveals this as they list DA! among many of the “youth movements” they support operating in Russia:

DA!: Mariya Gaydar, daughter of former Prime Minister Yegor Gaydar, leads DA! (Democratic Alternative). She is ardent in her promotion of democracy, but realistic about the obstacles she faces. Gaydar said that DA! is focused on non-partisan activities designed to raise political awareness. She has received funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, a fact she does not publicize for fear of appearing compromised by an American connection.

That this funding is nowhere on NED’s official website indicates that full disclosures are not being made and that NED is engaged in clandestine funding.

Navalny was involved directly in founding a movement funded by the US government and to this day has the very people who funded DA! defending him throughout Western media. The mention of co-founder Mariya Gaydar is also revealing, as she has long collaborated, and occasionally has been arrested with, Ilya Yashin, yet another leader of a NED-funded Russian “activist” opposition group.

Ilya Yashin leads the Moscow branch of the People’s Freedom Party and is a leading member of the “Strategy 31″ campaign whose ranks are filled with activists trained and coordinated by US NED-funded NGOs. Deleted from the official NED.org website was Strategy 31’s US funding:

Moscow Group of Assistance in the Implementation of the Helsinki Accords $50,000

To draw greater attention to the issue of freedom of assembly in Russia and to the “Strategy 31” movement, which seeks to protect this fundamental right. The organization will train a network of regional activists and coordinate their activities through mini-seminars and field visits, and conduct an information cam­paign through press conferences, posters, and educational handouts pertaining to freedom of assembly, to be distributed to the general public by regional partners.

Also deleted was a NED “Democracy Digest” article titled “Strategy 31: A sign of civil society’s resilience.” In it, the “Moscow Helsinki Group” is explicitly stated as leading Strategy 31 marches and that the group is a “long-time grantee of the National Endowment of Democracy.”

The multiple deletions across NED’s networks of Russian “activists” it is heavily funding and directing is yet another sign of imminent subversion, in hopes that links cannot be provided fast enough as the unrest unfolds to undermine the legitimacy of the otherwise US-engineered subversion.

Yashin’s People’s Freedom Party is lined not only with NED-funded “youth,” but also lined with career politicians and businessmen collaborating with foreign-interests. Among them is Vladimir Ryzhkov  a member of the NED-funded, Washington-based World Movement for Democracy (whose profile has also been recently deleted). There is also Boris Nemtsov whose adviser, Vladimir Kara-Murza (of Solidarnost) took part in a September 14, 2011 NED-sponsored event titled, “Elections in Russia: Polling and Perspectives.”

Revealed is a political front entirely created by the US State Department to pose as the aspirations of the Russian people while in reality a creation and perpetuation of the aspirations of Wall Street and Washington.  Under the unrest this front creates may be a heavily armed front consisting of ultra-right Neo-Nazis as observed in Ukraine, heavily armed sectarian terrorists backed by Saudi Arabia, or both.

A Look At America’s “Sedition” Handbook 

43826The use of armed elements to assist in US-engineered political subversion is not speculation. Rather, it is a documented policy included in plans laid for the undermining and overthrowing of other governments around the world. In one particular 2009 US policy paper titled, “Which Path to Persia?” by the Brookings Institution regarding the overthrow of Iran, it is stated specifically that:

One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.

Here, US policymakers are openly conspiring to covertly provoke a nation through political subversion. The resulting “act of aggression” would be portrayed as “unprovoked,” just as has been done regarding Russia’s involvement in neighboring Ukraine and all moves since Moscow has undertaken as the US and NATO continue to move toward war.

The policy paper also openly talks about the particulars of fomenting political unrest. Under a section called literally, “Finding the Right Proxies” it states:

One of the hardest tasks in fomenting a revolution, or even just unrest, is finding the right local partners.

After openly admitting the goal of “fomenting a revolution” or “unrest,” it then details what support to provide these proxies:

 …students and other groups need covert backing for their demonstrations.  They need fax machines. They need internet access, funds to duplicate materials, and funds to keep vigilantes from beating them up.  Beyond this, U.S.-backed media  outlets  could  highlight  regime  shortcomings and make otherwise obscure critics more prominent. The United States already supports Persian-language satellite television (Voice of america Persian) and radio (radio Farda) that bring unfiltered news to Iranians (in recent years, these have taken the lion’s share of overt U.S. funding for promoting democracy in Iran). U.S. economic pressure (and perhaps military pressure as well) can discredit the regime, making the population hungry for a rival leadership.  

The report finally mentions armed groups supporting US-engineered sedition:

 Some who favor fomenting regime change in Iran argue that it is utopian to hold out hope for a velvet revolution; instead, they contend that the United States should  turn  to  Iranian  opposition  groups  that already exist, that already have demonstrated a desire to fight the regime, and who appear willing  to  accept  U.S.  assistance.  The  hope  behind this course of action is that these various opposition  groups  could  transform  themselves  into more  potent  movements  that  might  be  able  to overturn the regime.

What is troubling about this 2009 report is that each and every conspiracy contained within is not only confirmed by the authors to already be well underway against Iran, it is now clear that similar tactics have been used against Syria, China, and Russia itself.  The “Arab Spring” was little more than these tactics used on a regional scale, and what was done in Syria and even Ukraine are almost verbatim pages torn from this playbook.

For a campaign aimed at Moscow itself, it is likely the same playbook will once again be employed. Exposing the insidious, malicious criminality of US policymakers who openly conspire to provoke other nations into conflict and manipulate public perception to maintain moral primacy is the first step to undoing attempts to destabilize and undermine Russia, and all other nations caught in the crosshairs of Wall Street and Washington.

While the West continues to portray Russia as the “aggressor,” throughout America’s own policy papers it can be seen that such accusations are just one part of an immensely insidious and deceitful plan. Portraying Russia as the “aggressors” helps justify further measures to set the board for widespread political subversion within Russia itself. It seeks to justify not only direct ties to opposition groups when they are finally revealed, but also increasingly aggressive interventions both by armed proxies and NATO forces themselves to continue propping up these opposition groups.

The spectacular nature of “invasions” as we imagine them, such as the Nazi blitzkrieg into Western Europe are behind us. Invasions within fourth generation warfare utilize faux opposition groups, covert military support, and full-spectrum economic, political, and information warfare. Russia has built defenses against this form of warfare, confounding the West , but ultimately the moral high ground and all of its advantages is a position only one can hold. Either by truth through exposing the West’s means and agenda will Russia climb to the top, or through the West’s continued successful deception, will Russia be pelted below.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

As the first batches of seawater samples collected by citizen scientists along the B.C. coast are being analyzed in Victoria, the results of radiation testing on 19 sockeye salmon and steelhead samples have come back negative for Fukushima-related contamination. And tests conducted so far this year on water samples from Prince Rupert to Victoria have also found B.C.’s inshore waters to be Fukushima-free.

The salmon and steelhead samples, provided by Nisga’a First Nation, were taken at the end of August when the fish were returning to the Nass River in northern B.C. The tests were part of the Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) Network, which was launched early this year and involves academics, federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and citizen scientists.

“We weren’t able to detect cesium-134 which is the signature of Fukushima (due to its two-year half-life), but when we added all the signals together we did see some cesium-137, which is left over from nuclear weapons testing,” project leader Jay Cullen, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Victoria, said in an interview last week.

The residual amount of cesium-137 present in B.C. fish from weapons testing fallout in the 20th century is not considered a health risk to consumers, according to Health Canada.

Cullen said the first month of seawater sampling from InFORM Network citizen scientists had arrived at his lab and was being processed.

“For example, in Powell River, the Kelly Creek Community School took their first sample on Nov. 12. It’s here now and we’re just counting the samples,” he said.

On the Sunshine Coast, Cullen said, he has recruited volunteers in Sechelt, Gibsons, Halfmoon Bay, Lund and Powell River.

“We did Powell River first. We may contact some in Sechelt to do the next turn,” he said. “There are lots of volunteers from the Sunshine Coast, not surprisingly the Lower Mainland, and southern Vancouver Island.”

Although the samples are still being analyzed, results of other tests carried out this year showed no detectable levels of cesium-134 along the outer B.C. coast or the Salish Sea, despite the presence of extremely low concentrations offshore since June 2013.

Test sites included Bamfield on Vancouver Island in February, Quadra Island in March, Haida Gwaii in April, Prince Rupert in August, Vancouver’s Jericho Beach in late September and Victoria on Oct. 15. Except for Victoria, which was the first InFORM Network citizen scientist test site, all the other tests were part of the U.S. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s crowd-funded research program called Our Radioactive Oceans.

“At Ogden Point in Victoria, we see the background weapons testing cesium-137 (1.3 becquerels per cubic metre of water), and we don’t see anything from Fukushima,” Cullen said, pointing also to results from Kelp Watch, a California-based research project that extends from Baja-Mexico to Alaska. “So far cesium-134 has not been detected.”

By contrast, 1,500 kilometres offshore, the level of “Fukushima-specific cesium-137” increased between February and August from about two to five becquerels per cubic metre.

While scientists “don’t really know why we’re not seeing it along the coast yet,”

Cullen said there are two physical factors that could be keeping away the contaminated plume that has moved eastward from Japan on the North Pacific Current and is expected to intensify during the next one-and-a-half to two years.

One factor is the “upwelling of waters, which normally is strongest in the spring, coming from depths that have less Fukushima-related signals,” he said.

“The other is that there’s so much fresh water coming from the coastal rivers, the Fraser River especially. The Salish Sea is like a big estuary. So that really large volume of fresh water may be insulating the coast of Vancouver Island from Fukushima-related water.”

The negative test results don’t convince everyone, however.

“I get emails from people saying that all of the organisms are gone from our Pacific waters, and it’s from Fukushima-related activity.”

Cullen said he understands people’s fears about radioactivity, and acknowledged it’s “clear that there are changes happening in our ocean ecosystem.” But the “insults to our environment” that appear to be stressing marine organisms, he said, are factors such as overfishing, ocean acidification, industrial pollutants and invasive species.

“As a scientist, I look for evidence, and we don’t see radionuclides from Fukushima in the evidence. I get accused of saying everything’s fine, and that’s not what I’m saying at all. The oceans are not in tip-top shape.”

The problem with “individuals who for whatever reasons are convinced that Fukushima is killing our oceans,” he said, is that it distracts from actions that can be taken to address provable harms to B.C.’s marine environment.

“There are very specific things that we can do, or could do, that would lead to improvement of health to the ocean — PCBs in the past, fire retardants (PBDEs) in the present. If we don’t use the chemicals, they won’t get in the environment.”

For updates on test results, see fukushimainform.wordpress.com and www.ourradioactiveocean.org.

Confronting the Climate Catastrophe

December 21st, 2014 by Michael Welch

  “The Arctic is rapidly heading for meltdown.  As snow and sea ice retreat, exposing land and sea with lower albedo (i.e. less reflectiveness), more solar energy is absorbed, thus leading to further melting and retreat in a vicious cycle.  This cycle has been self-sustaining for many years – we are well past the tipping point.  There is no sign of any natural process to break the cycle.” -Statement from the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, December 4, 2014 [1]

“There’s well documented reports out on where 350.org gets its funding and, you know, Bill McKibbon and his ties with the mainstream Democratic Party, and you can look at Naomi Klein and who she writes for and who they’re funded by, and I’m talking about The Nation magazine….their perspective is always tempered… They’re always afraid to go too far out and put out really radical information…because they’re essentially by and large another arm of the Democratic Party and have deep ties to ‘em.” -Dahr Jamail

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Last Sunday December 14, the UN CLIMATE Conference  concluded with a climate plan that for the first time commits all countries to cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

About 11,000 world leaders, civil society organizations, NGOs, and industry representatives from around the globe convened in Peru’s capital over a two week period.

Among the achievements of this conference: dozens of countries pledged over $10 billion to the Green Climate Fund to help countries prepare for climate impacts and make the transition to a low-carbon economy. [2]

But as we heard on last week’s program these and other initiatives may be too little too late to rescue the planet from the catastrophic impacts of greenhouse warming.

Media coverage of the COP20 conference (such as it was) largely ignored a critical press conference by the ARCTIC Methane Emergency Group (AMEG).

Presenters at that Press conference concluded the following:

The meltdown is accelerating and could become unstoppable as early as Sept 2015

• Immediate action must be taken to refreeze the Arctic to halt runaway melting
• Greenhouse gas emissions reduction, however drastic, cannot solve this problem
• Calculations show that powerful interventions are needed to cool the Arctic
• Any delay escalates the risk of failure
• Arctic meltdown is a catastrophic threat for civilization. [3]

One of those presenters was Paul Beckwith. He is A Climatologist & part-time professor at the University of Ottawa. He recently spoke to the Global Research News Hour about the extent of the climate predicament we face and whether there is hope that these or other initiatives hold any prospect of rescuing our world from an unprecedented crisis.

 Dahr Jamail follows Beckwith. Having established indymedia street creds a decade ago for his unembedded reporting on the US occupation of Iraq, Jamail addresses the inability of mainstream voices, including environmental groups, to fully cope with what the science is saying about the Climate threat. In this interview, Jamail also puts forward his impressions of the hazards of geo-engineering, and his top of mind concerns as the human race enters a new year.

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

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

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

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

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

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

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border.

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.

CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario. Tune in Wednesdays from 12am to 1am.

 

Notes:

  1. http://ameg.me/
  2. http://newsroom.unfccc.int/lima/lima-call-for-climate-action-puts-world-on-track-to-paris-2015/
  3. http://ameg.me/

 

World War I: The 1914 Christmas Truce

December 21st, 2014 by Jacques R. Pauwels

An excerpt from Jacques Pauwels’ forthcoming book The Great Class War, 1914-1918

The situation in the fall 1914, after the “war of movement” has given way to the infamous stationary “trench warfare”:

The ordinary soldiers developed more and more antipathy and even hatred toward their own officers. Simultaneously, they started to empathize and even sympathize for the men facing them on the far side of the no man’s land. The official enemy – the Germans, Russians, French, whatever – were demonized by the authorities but the soldiers had little or nothing against them. In many cases, they hardly knew the people they were supposed to hate and kill. Furthermore, they soon found out that they had much in common with “the enemy,” first and above all a lower-class social background, and second, the same exposure to danger and misery.

The men learned in many ways that the official enemy was in fact not the real enemy, that the soldiers on the other side were human beings just like themselves. This lesson could be learned, for example, by reading letters and looking at pictures found on taken from prisoners. The contempt for the “other,” deliberately fabricated by the military and political superiors, thus soon gave way for mutual respect and the feeling “that we are all the same,” for a “reciprocal respect and even sympathy.” In January 1915, a French poilu commented as follows on letters he had found on a prisoner:

“The same as on our side. The misery, the desperation, the longing for peace, the monstrous stupidity of this whole thing. The Germans are just as unhappy as we are. They are just as miserable as us.”

This kind of lesson was also learned by physical meetings with the enemy. What is meant is obviously not hand-to-hand combat, which was actually far less frequent than we have tended to believe, but encounters with prisoners of war. About German captives a British officer reported that “they were pleasant chaps, who generally behaved like gentlemen.” And in 1916 a Scottish soldier, Joseph Lee, expressed his pity and sympathy for German prisoners as follows:

When first I saw you in the curious street,

Like some platoon of soldier ghosts in grey,

My mad impulse was all to smite and slay,

To spit upon you – tread you ’neath my feet.

But when I saw how each sad soul did greet

My gaze with no sign of defiant frown,

(…)

I knew that we had suffered each as other,

And could have grasped your hand and cried, ‘My brother!’

Sympathy for German prisoners was also reflected in the poem “Liedholz,” written by the British officer Herbert Read. He may have been an officer but he happened to be a convinced anarchist. Read captured a German named Liedholz, and already before they reach the British trenches, “werden de versperringen van formele vijandschap weggenomen,” to use the words of a literary commentator:

Before we reached our wire

He told me he had a wife and three children.

In the dug-out we gave him a whiskey.

(…)

In broken French we discussed

Beethoven, Nietzsche and the International.

In “Memoirs of an Infantry Officer,” published in 1930, Siegfried Sassoon was to write that, during the war, the Germans were generally hated by British citizens, but not, or certainly far less, by British soldiers. He himself, he added, “had nothing against them.” Countless French soldiers likewise failed to develop feelings of hatred with respect to their German “neighbours on the other side.” “We don’t hate the Germans,” wrote a poilu in a letter that was intercepted by the censors.

The French soldier Barthas soon felt sympathy for the German prisoners he escorted on a train travelling from the front to a camp somewhere in southern France, and who were verbally abused by civilians in railway stations. He and his comrades shared the wine and the grapes those same civilians had offered them with their prisoners in a gesture of camaraderie. “Those who has seen the dreadful realities of war,” observes Max Hastings, “recoiled from displays of chauvinism.” The soldiers loathed the civilians, journalists, and politicians who could or would not understand their miserable fate. Conversely, they found it impossible to hate a so-called enemy who shared their misery. “The soldiers of the rival armies felt a far stronger sense of community with each other than with their peoples at home,” writes Hastings.

The “no man’s land” that separated the armies revealed itself to be less wide than the gap that separated the soldiers from the officers of these armies. During the late summer and fall of 1914, two different wars had thus actually started to ravage Europe. First, a highly visible “vertical” war, a conflict between groups of countries, in which all uniformed men of the one side were enemies of all uniformed men on the other side. Second, below the surface, so to speak: a “horizontal” war, an explosion of class conflict, a conflict in which the officers of each army were the enemies of their own subordinates, while a high degree of solidarity united the ordinary soldiers of both sides. In the first war, a geographic (or topographic) frontline separated friend and foe. In the second war, a social gap separated the antagonists.

In the autumn of 1914, when on the western front the “war of movement” petered out and gave way to a “stationary war,” the soldiers discovered that their enemies were human beings just like themselves, with whom they happened to have a lot in common. They were overwhelmingly of a lower-class origin and they all experienced an urgent need to curb the mutual massacre as much as possible. Practices emerged that have been described as “live-and-let-live.” For example, the soldiers often deliberately refrained from firing their weapons, especially during mealtimes, hoping that the enemy would do the same, as usually turned out to be the case. When, during such a pause, a mortar did suddenly get fired, a German voice loudly offered excuses to the British “Tommies,” which prevented an escalation of the firing. When specific orders arrived from “above” to open fire, the men deliberately aimed too high, and the enemy did the same. The artillerists also often opened fire at the same time of the day, aiming at the same target, this in order to give the enemy a chance to withdraw to a safe area.

Quiet sectors thus originated along the front, areas where the casualty rate was noticeably lower than elsewhere. In the vicinity of Ypres the British and Germans thus agreed to let the men on both sides sit on the parapet of their muddy and frequently flooded trenches, in full view of each other, in order to stay dry. Yet another form of “live-and-let-live” consisted in the conclusion of inofficial ceasefires, unauthorized by the superiors, after heavy fighting, which allowed both sides to recuperate the wounded and bury the dead. Those opportunities were often used to start a conversation with the enemy and to exchange small presents such as tobacco and insignia, in other words, to “fraternize.” Occasionally this even involved visits to the trenches on the other side of no man’s land! A German soldier later remembered such a pause in the fighting in France toward the end of November 1914: “French and German soldiers walked around, fully visible in the bright daylight. Nobody fired their weapons. It was said that some brave men even visited the enemy trenches.” The same soldier related how even later, for example in February 1915, “it was silently agreed to leave each other in peace as much as possible.” And a French poilu, Gervais Morillon, described in a letter how on December 12, 1914.

Frenchmen and Germans shook hands after unarmed Germans came out of their trenches, waving a white flag…We reciprocated, and we visited each other’s trenches and exchanged cigars and cigarets, while a few hundred metres further they were shooting at each other.

In some sectors such fraternizations developed into an almost daily routine. In the area of the town of Pont-à-Mousson French as well as German soldiers started in November 1914 to fetch water daily at the Fountain of Father Hilarion (Fontaine du Père Hilarion), a spring situated in a ravine in the middle of no man’s land. Normally, they took turns to go there, and no shots were fired while water was being collected. But it frequently came to meetings and conversations. According to a report that appears to refer to that site, Frenchmen and Germans exchanged “bread, cheese, and wine,” ate together, showed each other pictures of wife and children, amused themselves together, sang songs, played the accordion. That sociability abruptly ended when, on December 7, heavy fighting erupted in the area.

The soldiers were supposed to hate each other, but something very different actually happened: on both sides many men, though admittedly not all, developed a considerable measure of empathy for, and solidarity with, their counterparts on the other side of the no man`s land. The outbreak of war had produced an explosion of nationalism and had dealt a heavy blow to the ideal of internationalist solidarity among proletarians, exactly as the elite had hoped. But it now appeared that the vagaries of war caused the uniformed proletarians to rediscover and re-appreciate internationalist solidarity. The military elite did not approve. Of the war it was indeed expected that it would bury internationalism once and for all instead of resurrecting it. According to Adam Hochschild, such an “outburst of spontaneous solidarity among ordinary, working-class soldiers…outraged higher-ups and militarists on both sides.”

` `The ordinary soldiers were keenly aware that their superiors had their reasons for execrating all forms of “live-and-let-live,” even though it sometimes proved possible to persuade or even force them to participate, as we will see later. It is therefore understandable that these activities often occurred when the officers were not present, which was often the case in the dangerous first lines. The fraternizations were immediately aborted whenever it was signaled that officers were on their way. Barthas describes such an occurrence that took place in rhe Champagne region in the summer of 1916. The French had to inform the German soldiers with whom they were socializing that their officers had become suspicious, so that they had to suspend the meetings. “The Germans were deeply moved and thanked us cordially. Before they disappeared behind their sandbags, oone of them lifted his hand and called out: ‘Frenchmen, Germans, soldiers, we are all comrades!’ Then he made a fist: ‘But the officers, NO.’ “ Barthas commented as follows:

God! That German was right. One should not generalize, but the majority of the officers were morally farther removed from us than those poor devils of German soldiers who are being dragged against their will to the same slaugherhouse.

The officers did indeed abominate any arrangements reflecting solidarity between their own subordinates and the “enemy.” Charles De Gaulle, for example, the progeny of a Catholic bourgeois family in Lille, a young officer during the First World War, condemned each form of “live-and-let-live” as “lamentable.” But there were also many ordinary soldiers who did not approve of such gatherings, since they had internalized the elite’s nationalist and militarist ethos and thus genuinely hated the enemy. Hitler was one of them.

The authorities condemned and prohibited all forms of fraternization and “live-and-let-live” in general. The officers sometimes put snipers to work when they suspected that fraternizations “threatened” to take place. However, the spontaneous truces and fraternizations also reflected the need of all warriors to maintain and display a semblance of humanity even in the middle of an unprecedently bestial war. This explains why officers too sometimes chose to participate. The French soldier Gervais Morillon described how an officier walked at the head of a group of Germans who came out of their trenches. Sometimes superiors with a rank as high as that of colonel participated.

The fact that fraternizations were officially strictly prohibited, apparently made them even more fascinating and appealing to soldiers. It is probably thus that we can interpret a myth that enjoyed an inordinate amount of success among soldiers of both sides throughout the war. Countless soldiers were convinced that, somewhere in the no man’s land, in abandoned trenches and preferably deep under the ground, and thus beyond the reach of projectiles and of officers, beastlike deserters of all armies dwelled together in a kind of permanent state of fraternization. By night they would rob the dead and wounded, seek food, etc. They became such a threat to the troops that eventually the army brass ordered them to be exterminated with gas. This myth was a cocktail of many ingredients. It amounted to a modern version of the Medieval theme of the simultaneously feared and admired “wild man.” But is was also a commentary of the soldiers on their own beastly existence in the trenches and a fantasy about disobedience. Last but not least, it vaguely reflected the soldiers’ solidarity with the men on the other side of the no man’s land, combined with the ardent desire to wave adieu to their own superiors and the miserable war. “An anti-establishment smell was attched to this myth,” writes Tim Cook, it was “a form of disobedience.” Indeed, the generals could prohibit fraternizations in the real world, but they proved powerless in the face of such mythical fraternization – this clearly to the satisfaction of the soldiers who wished to believe in this myth.

In any event, the authorities were also unable to prevent the wave of fraternizations that took place on Christmas Day, 1914. In the vicinity of Ypres, the sector of the western front that was held from September-October of that year by the British and became known to them as “Flanders’ Fields,” it already started on Christmas eve. The Germans decorated trees near their trenches with burning candles and started to sing Christmas songs such as Stille Nacht, “Silent Night.” The British reacted by lighting bonfires and singing English Christmas carols. Then the soldiers on both sides started to loudly call out Christmas wishes. The Germans arranged to deliver a chocolate tart to the British, accompanied by an invitation to conclude a truce. Shortly thereafter soldiers crawled out of their trenches in order to fraternize in no man’s land and in each other’s trenches. That sort of thing continued on Christmas Dayitself, and in some sectors even on Boxing Day. Presents such as tobacco, whiskey, and cigars were exchanged, and the two sides helped each other to bury the dead. In the no man’s land a soccer game was also played, which the British claimed to have won. An English soldier wrote in a letter that this was “the most remarkable Christmas” he had ever experienced, and that he “had had the pleasure to shake hands with numerous Germans,…to smoke together and to enjoy a friendly chat.” A favourite conversation topic was the madness of ta war of which both sides had had more than enough.

Between the British and the Germans the unofficial Christmas truce affected virtually the entire front of approximately forty kilometers along which they faced each other. In some sectors of that front the truce dragged on until New Year’s Day. Some historians claim that the Anglo-German fraternizations of the end of December 1914 were nothing less than “massive.” But on Christmas Day similar truces and fraternizations also occurred between the Germans and the French. Barthas confided to his diary that, in their sector, the morning of Christmas witnessed “singing and shouting and the firing of flares” and that no shots were fired. And it is known that poilus met boches to sing and exchange tobacco, cognac, postcards, newspapers, and other presents in the vicinity of Soissons and in villages of Picardy such as Cappy and Foucaucourt. A poilu later remembered that

The boches signalled us and indicated that they wanted to talk to us. I approached to three or four meters from their trench in order to talk to three of them who had surfaced…They asked that we would refrain all day and night from shooting and said that they themselves would not fire one single shot. They had enough of the war, they said, they were married and had nothing against the French, only against the English. They gave me a box of cigars and a package of sigarets, and I gave them a copy of [the magazine] Le Petit Parisien in exchange for a German newspaper. Then I withdrew to the French trench, where many men were keen to try my German tobacco. Our neighbours on the other side kept their word, even better than we did. Not even one single rifle shot was fired.

There were many other sites along the front where groups of French soldiers visited the German trenches in order to enjoy a drink, or where Germans came to offer cigars to the Franzosen. Christmas carols were performed in both languages, for example Minuit chrétien and O Tannenbaum. Belgians and Germans, who faced each other in the lowlands of the Yser River estuary, allegedly also fraternized on Christmas 1914. The Germans agreed to mail letters from Belgian soldiers to family members in occupied Belgium. At the eastern front it also came to fraternizations. The Russians met their Austrian-Hungarian enemies in the no man’s land in Galicia and exchanged the usual tobacco, but also schnapps, bread, and meat.

The superiors were far from enchanged with the Christmas truces, but could not prevent them. On the British side an officer rushed to the scene with this intention, apparantly from the safety of the rear, but he arrived too late. His men had already started to socialize with Germans in the no man’s land. He could only resign himself to the fait accompli. He himself and a handful of other officers ended up joining their subordinates and went to greet the German officiers. One of the latter ordered beer to be fetched for everyone, and the officers courteously drank to each other’s health. A British officer reciprocated by treating those present with pieces of a traditional English plum pudding. It was finally agreed that the inofficial truce would last until midnight, so that everyoone would have to be back in their own trenches by midnight. The “damage” done by the fraternizations, at least from the viewpoint of the superiors, was thus limited somewhat, at least in that sector.

The higher the rank of the superiors, the less they liked this strange Christmas idyll. The British commander in chief, Generaal French, who on Christmas Day enjoyed a gourmet dinner, featuring turtle soup, with as digestif a brandy from 1820 offered by the Rotschilds, issued a specific order to nip in the bud any future attempts to fraternize. One year later, the artillery would be made to fire into no man’s land all day, starting on Christmas Eve, in order to prevent any meetings there. However, it proved impossible to prevent fraternizations to occur here and there and from time to time.

In the 1980s, the strange events of Christmas 1914 inspired the song Christmas in the Trenches, 1914, written and put to music by the American folksinger John McCutcheon. It features the following lines:

’T was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung,

The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung,

Our families back in England were toasting us that day,

Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

(…)

There’s someone coming towards us!’ the front line sentry cried

All sights were fixed on one lone figure coming from their side

His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright

As he bravely strode unarmed into the night.

Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man’s land

With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand

We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well

And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave ’em hell.

We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home

These sons and fathers far away from families of their own

Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin

This curious and unlikely band of men.

(…)

’T was Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung

The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung

For the walls they’d kept between us to exact the work of war

Had been crumbled and were gone for evermore.

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.

Washington continues waging political and economic war on Russia. Ukraine’s junta was installed to serve US interests. 

Institutionalize fascist rule in Europe’s heartland. Eliminate fundamental freedoms. Threaten regional security.

Serve as a US proxy against Russia. Perhaps instigate hot war. Stop NATO reports continuing Alliance help in its dirty war on Donbas.

Training its military for “Russian aggression.” Washington’s Ukraine ambassador, Geoffrey Pyatt saying:

“As Ukraine continues to defend itself against Russian aggression, the United States will continue to send advisory teams to help improve Ukrainian combat medical care and save the lives of Ukrainian soldiers, in addition to the over $118 million in security assistance we have committed.”

Pyatt left unsaid Washington and other NATO countries supplying lethal aid. Heavy weapons and munitions.

War on Donbas continues. Dangerously close to Russia’s border. Stooge president Petro Poroshenko’s days of silence pronouncement was fake. One of his many Big Lies.

On December 18, Voice of Sevastopol reported “Ukrainian (military) violat(ions) in the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).”

“(H)owitzer artillery was conducted from the village Kondrashovka (Stanitsa-Luganskaya district) on the outskirts of the village Vesyolenkoye.”

Mortar fire targeted militia held areas. Ukraine’s military continues attacking Donbas despite Poroshenko’s “day(s) of silence.”

On December 19, Fort Russ reported LPR forces attacked “on many fronts. Fired on positions (include) Veselaya Gora, Prishib, Slavyanoserbsk, Valuysk, Kolesnikovo, Nizhneteploye, Olkhovoe.

Militia forces responded in self-defense. Kiev’s dirty war continues. Greater escalation looms. On orders from Washington.

On December 18, Obama signed anti-Russian legislation. The so-called “Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 (UFSA)” aims to assist “in restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Deter Russia “from further destabilizing and invading Ukraine and other independent countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.”

Authorizes new sanctions. Targeting Russia’s defense and energy sectors. Plus businesses selling products or services to sanctioned Russian companies.

On December 18, Obama said:

“My administration will continue to work closely with allies and partners in Europe and internationally to respond to developments in Ukraine and will continue to review and calibrate our sanctions to respond to Russia’s actions.”

“At this time, the Administration does not intend to impose sanctions under this law, but the Act gives the Administration additional authorities that could be utilized, if circumstances warranted.”

Another Big Lie. On December 19, Obama targeted Russia’s Republic of Crimea.

By executive order “prohibit(ing) the export of goods, technology, or services to Crimea and prohibits the import of goods, technology, or services from Crimea, as well as new investments in Crimea.”

(A)uthoriz(ing) the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on individuals and entities operating in Crimea.”

(I)ntend(ing) to provide clarity to US corporations doing business in the region and reaffirm that the United States will not accept Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea.”

Obama “again call(ed) on Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, cease its support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, and fulfill its commitments under the Minsk agreements.”

“My Administration will continue to work closely with allies and partners in Europe and internationally to respond to events in Ukraine and to support Ukraine”s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well its democratic development and reform efforts.”

“We will continue to review and calibrate our sanctions, in close coordination with our international partners, to respond to Russia’s actions.”

Fact: Crimeans joined Russia.

Fact: By near unanimous free, fair and open referendum vote.

Fact: Correcting a historic mistake.

Fact: Returning where they belong.

Fact: Russia remains neutral in Ukraine’s civil war.

Fact: No evidence suggests otherwise.

Fact: Going all-out for peaceful conflict resolution.

Fact: Polar opposite Washington.

Fact: Stoking conflict.

Fact: Funding, arming, training and directing its proxy Ukrainian military.

Fact: Russia didn’t invade Ukraine.

Fact: Has no involvement in ongoing conflict.

Fact: Isn’t providing Donbas self-defense forces with weapons, munitions or other help.

Fact: Other than vitally needed humanitarian aid for Donbas residents.

Fact: The only nation doing so.

Fact: Despite Kiev’s efforts to block it.

Fact: So ordinary people will starve.

Fact: Obama calling Ukraine democratic flies in the face of hard facts.

Fact: Ukraine is a fascist dictatorship.

Fact: Illegitimately installed by Washington.

Fact: Serving US interests in Europe’s heartland.

Fact: Targeting Russia for regime change.

Fact: Wanting its sovereign independence eliminated.

Fact: By color revolution or war.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded harshly. Calling actions against Crimea “politicized discrimination” against Russia and its people.

“We would like remind (Western nations) about our lawful right to adequately respond to its so-called restrictive measures against all Russian individuals and legal entities without exception,” a Ministry statement said.

Crimea is sovereign Russian territory. Russia’s Ministry warned of an adequate response.

Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich on Obama’s UFSA signing, saying:

“The American side is fully to blame for the consequences. We do not leave hostile actions on the part of Washington without response.”

“We will be making decisions on possible response measures depending on how the United States will use the new law in practice.”

“The Russian side is ready for dialogue and cooperation, but only on principles of equality, real account for our interests. Attempts to pressure us are anyway doomed to fail.”

On December 19, Sputnik News reported Lavrov telling John Kerry UFSA derails US/Moscow cooperation. “(U)ndermined (it) for a long time.”

During his annual marathon Q & A press conference tour de force, Putin said “Russia pays the cost of remaining a nation, a civilization and a state.”

Weeks earlier he explained “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…”

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

Putin knows Washington’s dirty game. Considers him public enemy No. 1. Targets Russia for regime change.

Wants its sovereign independence destroyed. A major rival eliminated. Replaced by vassal state subservience.

Its territory balkanized. Resources stolen. People exploited. Serving Western interests exclusively. Under horrific conditions of poverty, deprivation and despair.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded to Ukrainian stooge president Poroshenko’s hostile statements.

Including ending Ukraine’s nonaligned status. Joining NATO. Wanting Russia expelled from Security Council participation. Other “party of war” rhetoric.

Saying “()t is regretful because such a party exists and exactly from ranks of that ‘party of war’ calls are made to repeat in Ukraine’s south-east an operation which was carried out in Serbian Krajina, when the issue was settled by force.”

“All this was not only accepted, our Western partners welcomed this.”

In a wide-ranging interview, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned of US-led NATO encroachment on Russia’s borders.

Washington “is trying hard to get there…Eisenhower (warned) of the military-industrial complex.,” said Gorbachev.

NATO seeks to interfere with everything and everywhere. It wants to expand beyond its designated territory.”

“…America cannot live without its military-industrial complex growing, weapons sales increasing and war costs soaring…”

Its “society is sick. It needs help.” It threatens world peace.

Gorbachev quoted Jack Kennedy once saying “(i)f you think that future peace should be Pax Americana you’re mistaken. It’s either peace for all people, or no peace.”

America declared Cold War victory. Saying “we won. We won the Cold War. We did. Us,” according to Gorbachev.

“(T)he world is at our feet. Our policy is right…America want(s) to rule the world.”

“The Americans lost their way. Any attempt to create a one-sided, mono-polar world is just complete and utter nonsense.”

Washington “need(s) an enemy.” Its leadership “can’t live without it. (They’re) enslaved by their old policy.”

“That’s why America has to be stopped.” Diplomatically. In partnership with other nations. Leadership today is only possible this way, Gorbachev stressed.

“Whenever tensions are high, whenever there’s instability in a certain country or throughout the region, it’s an opportunity for them to intervene.”

It’s “the American way.” This must stop, Gorbachev stressed. Peacefully. War assures no winners.

Washington declared Russia an enemy. European countries were pressured to go along. Against their own self-interest.

No one ever brought Russia to its knees, said Gorbachev. Not Napoleon. Not Hitler. No one. “(N)obody will.” Gorbachev hopes Cold War won’t turn hot.

Given America’s rage for war, preventing it won’t be easy. Maybe impossible.

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 media that express criticism of Ukrainian President Poroshenko will be automatically equated to “enemies of Ukraine” or “FSB agents,” with all ensuing consequences.

Speaking on December 9 at the Verkhovna Rada, the head of the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko faction, Yuriy Lutsenko, said that intelligence agencies of Ukraine should deal with those mass media outlets that criticize the sitting Ukrainian authorities.

“Neo-imperialists take efforts to internally disorganize the Ukrainian state. We have recently seen that the deadly germs of separatism that have brought a third of the Ukrainian Donbass to a state of catastrophe start growing in other areas,” said Lutsenko.

He demanded the security forces of Ukraine should confront “anti-state elements and spies, as well as the fifth column of the Kremlin.”

“We also demand the Bacchanalia of anti-Ukrainian separatism should be stopped in certain media outlets that are fed from abroad and are freely distributed in Ukraine in millions of copies,” said the MP.

Noteworthy, Ukraine works to set up the “Ministry of Truth” that will deal with dissent of citizens. The new department is said to be headed by Poroshenko’s relative, Yuri Stets.

American Exceptionalism and American Torture

December 20th, 2014 by William Blum

In 1964, the Brazilian military, in a US-designed coup, overthrew a liberal (not more to the left than that) government and proceeded to rule with an iron fist for the next 21 years. In 1979 the military regime passed an amnesty law blocking the prosecution of its members for torture and other crimes. The amnesty still holds. 

That’s how they handle such matters in what used to be called The Third World. In the First World, however, they have no need for such legal niceties. In the United States, military torturers and their political godfathers are granted amnesty automatically, simply for being American, solely for belonging to the “Good Guys Club”.

So now, with the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, we have further depressing revelations about US foreign policy. But do Americans and the world need yet another reminder that the United States is a leading practitioner of torture? Yes. The message can not be broadcast too often because the indoctrination of the American people and Americophiles all around the world is so deeply embedded that it takes repeated shocks to the system to dislodge it. No one does brainwashing like the good ol’ Yankee inventors of advertising and public relations. And there is always a new generation just coming of age with stars (and stripes) in their eyes.

The public also has to be reminded yet again that – contrary to what most of the media and Mr. Obama would have us all believe – the president has never actually banned torture per se, despite saying recently that he had “unequivocally banned torture” after taking office.

Shortly after Obama’s first inauguration, both he and Leon Panetta, the new Director of the CIA, explicitly stated that “rendition” was not being ended. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time: “Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.”

The English translation of “cooperate” is “torture”. Rendition is simply outsourcing torture. There was no other reason to take prisoners to Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, or the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, amongst other torture centers employed by the United States. Kosovo and Diego Garcia – both of which house large and very secretive American military bases – if not some of the other locations, may well still be open for torture business, as is the Guantánamo Base in Cuba.

Moreover, the key Executive Order referred to, number 13491, issued January 22, 2009, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”, leaves a major loophole. It states repeatedly that humane treatment, including the absence of torture, is applicable only to prisoners detained in an “armed conflict”. Thus, torture by Americans outside an environment of “armed conflict” is not explicitly prohibited. But what about torture within an environment of “counter-terrorism”?

The Executive Order required the CIA to use only the interrogation methods outlined in a revised Army Field Manual. However, using the Army Field Manual as a guide to prisoner treatment and interrogation still allows solitary confinement, perceptual or sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, the induction of fear and hopelessness, mind-altering drugs, environmental manipulation such as temperature and noise, and stress positions, amongst other charming examples of American Exceptionalism.

After Panetta was questioned by a Senate panel, the New York Times wrote that he had

“left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules … Mr. Panetta also said the agency would continue the Bush administration practice of ‘rendition’ … But he said the agency would refuse to deliver a suspect into the hands of a country known for torture or other actions ‘that violate our human values’.”

The last sentence is of course childishly absurd. The countries chosen to receive rendition prisoners were chosen precisely and solely because they were willing and able to torture them.

Four months after Obama and Panetta took office, the New York Times could report that renditions had reached new heights.

The present news reports indicate that Washington’s obsession with torture stems from 9/11, to prevent a repetition. The president speaks of “the fearful excesses of the post-9/11 era”. There’s something to that idea, but not a great deal. Torture in America is actually as old as the country. What government has been intimately involved with that horror more than the United States? Teaching it, supplying the manuals, supplying the equipment, creation of international torture centers, kidnaping people to these places, solitary confinement, forced feeding, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Chicago … Lord forgive us!

In 2011, Brazil instituted a National Truth Commission to officially investigate the crimes of the military government, which came to an end in 1985. But Mr. Obama has in fact rejected calls for a truth commission concerning CIA torture.  On June 17 of this year, however, when Vice President Joseph Biden was in Brazil, he gave the Truth Commission 43 State Department cables and reports concerning the Brazilian military regime, including one entitled “Widespread Arrests and Psychophysical Interrogation of Suspected Subversives.”

Thus it is that once again the United States of America will not be subjected to any accountability for having broken US laws, international laws, and the fundamental laws of human decency. Obama can expect the same kindness from his successor as he has extended to George W.

“One of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.” – Barack Obama, written statement issued moments after the Senate report was made public.

And if that pile of hypocrisy is not big enough or smelly enough, try adding to it Bidens’ remark re his visit to Brazil: “I hope that in taking steps to come to grips with our past we can find a way to focus on the immense promise of the future.”

If the torturers of the Bush and Obama administrations are not held accountable in the United States they must be pursued internationally under the principles of universal jurisdiction.

In 1984, an historic step was taken by the United Nations with the drafting of the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” (came into force in 1987, ratified by the United States in 1994). Article 2, section 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Such marvelously clear, unequivocal, and principled language, to set a single standard for a world that makes it increasingly difficult for one to feel proud of humanity. We cannot slide back. If today it’s deemed acceptable to torture the person who supposedly has the vital “ticking-bomb” information needed to save lives, tomorrow it will be acceptable to torture him to learn the identities of his alleged co-conspirators. Would we allow slavery to resume for just a short while to serve some “national emergency” or some other “higher purpose”?

If you open the window of torture, even just a crack, the cold air of the Dark Ages will fill the whole room.

Cuba … at long, long last … maybe …

Hopefully, it’s what it appears to be. Cuba will now be treated by the United States as a country worthy of at least as much respect as Washington offers to its highly oppressive, murdering, torturing allies in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Honduras, Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

It’s a tough decision to normalize relations with a country whose police force murders its own innocent civilians on almost a daily basis, and even more abroad, but Cuba needs to do it. Maybe the Cubans can civilize the Americans a bit.

Let’s hope that America’s terrible economic embargo against the island will go the way of the dinosaurs, and Cuba will be able to demonstrate more than ever what a rational, democratic, socialist society can create. But they must not open the economy for the Yankee blood-suckers to play with as they have all over the world.

And I’ll be able to go to Cuba not as a thief in the night covering my tracks and risking a huge fine.

But with the Republicans taking over Congress next month, all of this may be just a pipe dream.

Barack Obama could have done this six years ago when he took office; or five years ago when American Alan Gross was first arrested and imprisoned in Cuba. It would have been even easier back then, with Obama’s popularity at its height and Congress not as captured by the Know-Nothings as now.

So, Cuba outlasted all the punishment, all the lies, all the insults, all the deprivations, all the murderous sabotage, all the assassination attempts against Fidel, all the policies to isolate the country. But for many years now, it’s the United States that has been isolated in the Western Hemisphere.

Reason Number 13,336 why capitalism will be the death of us.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria – the “superbugs” – if left unchecked, could result in 10 million deaths a year by 2050. New drugs to fight the superbugs are desperately needed. But a panel advising President Obama warned in September that “there isn’t a sufficiently robust pipeline of new drugs to replace the ones rendered ineffective by antibiotic resistance.”

The problem, it appears, is that “Antibiotics generally provide low returns on investment, so they are not a highly attractive area for research and development.”

Aha! “Low returns on investment”! What could be simpler to understand? Is it not a concept worth killing and dying for? Just as millions of Americans died in the 20th century so corporations could optimize profits by not protecting the public from tobacco, lead, and asbestos.

Corporations are programmed to optimize profits without regard for the society in which they operate, in much the same way that cancer cells are programmed to proliferate without regard for the health of their host.

Happy New Year. Here’s what you have to look forward to in 2015.

  • January 25: 467 people reported missing from a university in Mexico. US State Department blames Russia.
  • February 1: Military junta overthrows President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. Washington decries the loss of democracy.
  • February 2: US recognizes the new Venezuelan military junta, offers it 50 jet fighters and tanks.
  • February 3: Revolution breaks out in Venezuela endangering the military junta; 40,000 American marines land in Caracas to quell the uprising.
  • February 16: White police officer in Chicago fatally shoots a 6-year old black boy holding a toy gun.
  • March 6: Congress passes a new law which states that to become president of the United States a person must have the surname Bush or Clinton.
  • April 30: The Department of Homeland Security announces plan to record the DNA at birth of every child born in the United States.
  • May 19: The Supreme Court rules that police may search anyone if they have reasonable grounds for believing that the person has pockets.
  • May 27: The Transportation Security Administration declares that all airline passengers must strip completely nude at check-in and remain thus until arriving at their destination.
  • June 6: White police officer in Oklahoma City tasers a 7-month-old black child, claiming the child was holding a gun; the gun turns out to be a rattle.
  • July 19: Two subway trains collide in Manhattan. The United States demands that Moscow explain why there was a Russian citizen in each of the trains.
  • September 5: The Democratic Party changes its name to the Republican Lite Party, and announces the opening of a joint bank account with the Republican Party so that corporate lobbyists need make out only one check.
  • September 12: White police officer in Alabama shoots black newborn, confusing the umbilical cord for a noose.
  • November 16: President Obama announces that Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, North Korea, Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba all possess weapons of mass destruction; have close ties to the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and the Taliban; are aiding pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine; were involved in 9-11; played a role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the attack on Pearl Harbor; are an imminent threat to the United States and all that is decent and holy; and are all “really bad guys”, who even (choke, gasp) use torture!
  • November 21: The United States invades Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, North Korea, Sudan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba.
  • December 10: Barack Obama is awarded his second Nobel Peace Prize
  • December 11: To celebrate his new peace prize, Obama sends out drones to assassinate wrong-thinking individuals in Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen.
  • December 13: Members of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi parties, which hold several high positions in the US-supported government, goose-step through the center of Kiev in full German Storm Trooper uniforms, carrying giant swastika flags, shouting “Heil Hitler”, and singing the Horst Wessel song. Not a word of this appears in any American mainstream media.
  • December 15: US Secretary of State warns Russia to stop meddling in Ukraine, accusing Moscow of wanting to re-create the Soviet Union.
  • December 16: White police officer shoots a black 98-year-old man sitting in a wheel chair, claiming the man pointed a rifle at him. The rifle turns out to be a cane.
  • December 28: The Washington Redskins football team finish their season in last place. The White House blames Vladimir Putin.

.

Notes

  1. Associated Press, December 11, 2014
  2. New York Times, December 11, 2014
  3. Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2009
  4. New York Times, February 6, 2009
  5. New York Times, May 24, 2009
  6. Washington Post, December 11, 2014
  7. National Security Archive’s Brazil Documentation Project
  8. Washington Post, December 10, 2014
  9. See note 7
  10. Washington Post, December 13, 2014

Israel Bombs Gaza

December 20th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Israeli warplanes attacked on December 20. Lawlessly. Committed war crimes. More on this below. 

Operation Protective Edge (OPE) was cold, calculated, long-planned, premeditated Israeli naked aggression.

Murdering or injuring thousands of Gazans. Around 80% civilians. Willfully targeted. In residential areas.

Turning large parts of Gaza to rubble. Genocidal high crimes by any standard. War raged from July 8 to August 26.

Ceasefire terms were agreed on. Hamas scrupulously observes them. Including halting all hostilities. Israel violated them straightaway.

As always, blaming Palestinians for its crimes. On December 20, Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza. Southern areas near Khan Younis.

An IDF spokesperson confirmed the attack. Saying Israeli forces “targeted a Hamas terror infrastructure site.”

No casualties were reported, according to Gaza’s health ministry. The attack followed a rocket fired from southern Gaza. Causing no injuries or damage.

Hamas claimed no responsibility. Or other resistance groups. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner lied. Wrongfully calling Hamas a “terrorist organization.”

Blaming it irresponsibly for “rocket fire.” Viewing it “with severity.” Suggesting perhaps more Israeli aggression to come. Repeating with disturbing regularity. Never with just cause.

According to Maan News:

“Hamas has almost entirely prevented any other factions from firing rockets since the ceasefire, despite repeated Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians at sea and near the border.”

“On Friday alone, Israeli forces shot and injured six Palestinians as they participated in a (peaceful)  protest march near the border.”

“Political analyst Hani Basous told Ma’an that the Israeli airstrikes are a mere reaction to the rocket and an attempt to send a warning message to all Palestinians.”

“Israel wanted to deliver a message to the Palestinian factions and Hamas that any actions on the border will be confronted with a harsh response.”

Aggression is part of Netanyahu’s reelection strategy. Citing nonexistent threats. Responding harshly. Showing he’s tough.

His extremism wore thin long ago. Why Israelis put up with him, they’ll have to explain.

He did more than any previous leader to transform Israel into a pariah state. Lawless. Ruthless. Fascist. Belligerent. Inventing reasons for conflict.

Holding 1.8 million Gazans hostage. In the world’s largest open-air prison. Suffocating them. Collectively punishing them.

Attacking cross-border. Bombing them for any reason or none at all. Committing slow-motion genocide.

Israel and America partner in each other’s high crimes. Have the world’s most deplorable civil and human rights records.

Operate extrajudicially. Wage war on defenseless civilians. Murder them in cold blood. Blame adversaries for their own crimes.

Bear full responsibility for virtually every indignity, degradation and crime. Ones too grave to ignore.

Vicious and then some. Getting away with mass murder. Over and over again. Unaccountably.

Core international laws don’t matter. Occupation harshness persists. The late Law Professor Michael Mandel said earlier:

“Israel’s West Bank and Gaza settlements are war crimes in Canada.”

“Under the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act 2000, c. 24, Israel’s settlements in territories taken in the June 1967 war constitute war crimes punishable in Canada.”

Section 8, paragraph 2, item viii of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) prohibits

“(t)he transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.”

“Although Israel denies it, there is no question (it’s) an Occupying Power for the purposes of the Geneva Convention, the Rome Statute, and the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act,” Mandel explained.

Law Professor Francis Boyle earlier accused Israel of “heinous war crimes inflicted (virtually) every day…against the Palestinian people.”

“(W)illful killing” with impunity. Fourth Geneva breaches occur multiple times daily. Against Gazans. Throughout the West Bank. In East Jerusalem.

According to Boyle, including “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.”

Israel treats Arabs the way Hitler treated Jews. Crimes against humanity “are the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention,” said Boyle.

Israel gets away with mass murder and then some. High crimes too grave to ignore.

Human Rights Watch accused Israel of Operation Protective Edge war crimes. So did Amnesty International.

Defined as grave Geneva breaches. Other serious violations of laws and customs. Ones applicable to armed conflict.

As defined by Rome Statute principles. When committed as part of a plan or policy. Or on a large scale.

Prohibited acts include murder. Mutilation. Torture and cruel treatment. Hostage taking. Intentionally attacking civilian or non-military related targets.

Including buildings related to commerce, religion, education, art, science,  charitable purposes, historical monuments or hospitals.

Other prohibited acts include pillage. Rape. Sexual slavery. Forced pregnancy. Other sexual assaults.

Conscripting or enlisting children under age 15 years. Using them as combatants.

A previous article discussed Washington’s intention to veto Palestine’s statehood bid. Partnering with Israel irresponsibly.

On December 19, General Assembly members overwhelmingly endorsed Palestinian self-determination. Voting 165 to six in favor.

Opposition nations included America. Israel. Canada. Three small Pacific Island states Washington controls.

Nine countries abstained. Including Australia, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Honduras, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tonga, Vanuatu.

Resolution language demanded Israel cease exploiting, damaging, depleting and endangering Palestinian and Golan resources.

Called for immediate safe removal of all Gazan unexploded ordnance. The measure was the General Assembly’s 43rd of its kind. Each year endorsed overwhelmingly.

A second resolution related to Palestinian rights. Supported without voting. Calling for Member States. UN financial institutions.

NGOs. Intergovernmental, regional and interregional organizations. To provide economic and social aid. Through official Palestinian institutions.

To reconstruct Gaza. Promote economic recovery and rebuilding in a timely and sustainable manner.

A third resolution passed overwhelmingly. (170 – 6). Demanding Israel pay $850 million. For “environmental disaster” it caused.

Incurred during its July 2006 naked aggression on Lebanon. Polluting its entire coastline. Part of Syria’s.

Israel responded as expected. An official statement calling the GA resolution “part of many other decisions we are used to from the UN.”

It “never bothered to check what the war cost Israel in damages and did not mention that the war broke out in response to the operation by the terror group Hezbollah.”

Israel is the region’s leading terror state. Hezbollah is part of Lebanon’s democratically elected government.

It bears repeating. Washington and Israel partner in each other’s crimes. On Friday, Obama signed the “United States-Israel Strategic Partnership of 2014 (S. 2673).”

Congressionally passed unanimously. By voice vote. Not a single profile of courage in either house. 100% in lockstep with US/Israeli lawlessness.

A White House press release called the measure an expression of “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and its future.”

Reflecting “the importance of (Obama’s) Administration on strengthening and deepening US-Israel bilateral cooperation and ties.”

Reinforcing “critical defense and security programs. (L)ay(ing) the groundwork for increased trae and cooperation across a range of cutting-edge fields.”

Including “energy, water, agriculture and technology.” Directs “the Secretary of State to undertake certain diplomatic initiatives.”

Obama intends implementing the measure’s provisions. Consistent with what he calls “longstanding constitutional practice.”

A document long ago abandoned. Dead and buried. Along with relevant international and US statute laws.

Washington usurping the right to operate extrajudicially. Taking full advantage. Partnering with Israel. One fascist regime supports another. Waging war on humanity.

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. 

Imperialism and the Ruble Crisis. “Economic Warfare”

December 20th, 2014 by Alex Lantier

The plunge of the Russian currency this week is the drastic outcome of policies implemented by the major imperialist powers to force Russia to submit to American and European imperialism’s neo-colonial restructuring of Eurasia. Punishing the Putin regime’s interference with their plans for regime change in countries such as Ukraine and Syria, the NATO powers are financially strangling Russia.

The sanctions imposed by the United States in response to Russian opposition to last February’s coup in Kiev have amounted to economic warfare. Over the past four months, the value of the Russian ruble has plunged by more than 50 percent. On Tuesday, as the ruble fell 10 percent against the dollar in one day, US President Barack Obama indicated he would sign a bill imposing even harsher sanctions on Russia and allowing Washington to directly arm the far-right, pro-NATO regime in Ukraine.

When Lieutenant-General Mikhail Mizintsev voiced the Russian Defense Ministry’s “concerns over the significant increase of NATO military activity near Russian borders,” Pentagon officials replied that NATO would keep building up its “air, land and sea presence” around Russia.

Yesterday, editorials appeared in several major newspapers warning that Russia’s currency crisis would not abate until Moscow bowed to the Kiev regime and abandoned support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. “The depth of the currency’s slide,” wrote London’s Financial Times, “reflects the growing belief in financial markets that Mr. Putin no longer runs Russia in its economic interests and is instead bent on pursuing illusory geopolitical goals.” NATO, it added, “should leave him in no doubt that de-escalation in Ukraine will reduce international pressure on the Russian economy. The hope must be that, even now, Mr. Putin is in a mood to change course.”

The New York Times wrote:

“The sensible thing for Mr. Putin to do would be to withdraw from Ukraine. This would bring immediate relief from sanctions, and that would ease the current crisis and give officials room to start fixing the country’s economic problems. The question is whether this reckless leader has been sufficiently chastened to change course.”

Were Russia to accept the US-NATO diktat, its surrender would simply set the stage for further demands, whose ultimate outcome would be the actual breakup of the country.

The catastrophic consequences of the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 and the restoration of capitalism are all too clear. Russia, the size of its military and its oil reserves notwithstanding, is being forced to accept a position as a semi-colonial appendage of finance capital, to be crushed if it crosses its imperialist masters.

The banks are tightening the financial noose around Russia’s neck. Anders Aslund of the Petersen Institute for International Economics wrote that, since Washington imposed sanctions on Russia in July, “Russia has received no significant international financing—not even from Chinese state banks—because everybody is afraid of US financial regulators.”

Cut off from international credit, Russia is being strangled by the financial parasites on Wall Street and their European counterparts. By Aslund’s calculations, Russia—with liquid currency reserves of roughly $200 billion, a net capital outflow this year of $125 billion, and total foreign debts of $600 billion—could be brought to its knees in as little as two years.

While there are a host of global economic factors underlying the fall in oil prices, it is unquestionable that a major role in the commodity’s staggering plunge is Washington’s collaboration with OPEC and the Saudi monarchs in Riyadh to boost production and increase the glut on world oil markets.

As Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia after the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis last March, the Guardian wrote, “Angered by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the Saudis turned on the oil taps, driving down the global price of crude until it reached $20 a barrel (in today’s prices) in the mid-1980s… [Today] the Saudis might be up for such a move—which would also boost global growth—in order to punish Putin over his support for the Assad regime in Syria. Has Washington floated this idea with Riyadh? It would be a surprise if it hasn’t.”

Since then, with OPEC declining to cut production despite an accelerating fall in prices, oil has dropped to under $60 a barrel.

These developments expose the absurdity of claims, advanced by innumerable middle-class pseudo left organizations, that Russia is an imperialist power. Such arguments simply ignore the historical context within which imperialism emerged and which persists in the existing structure of world finance and international geopolitics. The dissolution of the USSR represented a capitulation to imperialism, not the entry of the “new” Russia into the ranks of ruling imperialist powers.

As Trotsky explained in 1929:

“The struggle for world domination has assumed titanic proportions. The phases of this struggle are played out upon the bones of the weak and backward nations. A capitalist Russia could not now occupy even the third-rate position to which czarist Russia was predestined by the course of the world war. Russian capitalism today would be a dependent, semi-colonial capitalism without any prospects. Russia Number 2 would occupy a position somewhere between Russia Number 1 and India. The Soviet system, with its nationalized industry and monopoly of foreign trade, in spite of all its contradictions and difficulties, is a protective system for the economic and cultural independence of the country.”

In the final stages of the dissolution of the USSR, the Soviet bureaucracy and the academic intelligentsia haughtily dismissed the Marxist analysis of imperialism as they embraced Gorbachev’s “New Thinking.” In the event, the ensuing social retrogression and subordination to imperialism have substantiated Trotsky’s warnings. Ex-Soviet republics dissolved into ethnic civil war, from the Russian war in Chechnya to the current war in Ukraine. Industrial life collapsed and economic production fell by approximately 40 percent over the next decade, as state factories were bought up and looted by criminal business oligarchs and foreign banks at fire-sale prices.

While the economic collapse halted in the 2000s and Russian capitalism rebuilt itself around oil and gas exports, dominated by a clique of business oligarchs around President Vladimir Putin, the bankruptcy of Russian society was admitted to even by its rulers.

In his 2009 “Go Russia” speech, then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev confessed: “Twenty years of tumultuous change has not spared our country from its humiliating dependence on raw materials. Our current economy still reflects the major flaw in the Soviet system: it largely ignores individual needs. With a few exceptions, domestic business does not invent nor create the necessary things and technology that people need. We sell things we have not produced, raw materials or imported goods. Finished products produced in Russia are largely plagued by their extremely low competitiveness.”

The ruble’s collapse and the aggressive policy of imperialism today are again bringing to the fore the bankruptcy of Russian capitalism. Prices in rubles for food and consumer goods are expected to skyrocket, impoverishing masses of people, since Russia still depends on imported manufactured goods and agricultural inputs for domestic food production.

As for Russia’s ruling clique, it is in a hopeless quandary. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that US sanctions aim to achieve regime change in Russia. Based on the experience of other oil-rich countries targeted for regime change by Washington, from Iraq to Libya, this means the Kremlin believes that NATO seeks the destruction of the Russian government, the murder of its top officials, and the plundering of Russian oil by Western corporations.

Even in this desperate situation, however, the Kremlin slavishly limits itself to policies that are acceptable to the Russian plutocracy, whose wealth is based on the plundering of state assets. It even seek to avoid such essential defensive measures as imposing currency controls or freezing payments to foreign banks.

Putin’s stoking up of Russian nationalism—as in his praise for czarist General Aleksei Brusilov’s “legendary” offensive at the beginning of World War I and his recent denunciation of the Bolsheviks as traitors to Imperial Russia—is utterly reactionary. If the Kremlin relies on its military strength and opts for confrontation with NATO, what looms is the risk of a nuclear war that would destroy the planet.

There is no national solution to the Russian crisis. The capitalist oligarchy itself is the greatest obstacle to the defense of the Russian working class against imperialism. The central task facing the working class in Russia is re-establishing its links with the traditions of the October Revolution and Trotsky’s struggle against Stalinism.

There is no means to halt the plunder of Russia and the drive towards war except through the politically conscious intervention of the international working class, which is hostile to both imperialist militarism and the maneuvers of the Kremlin. This is why the International Committee of the Fourth International insists upon the necessity of building an international anti-war, anti-imperialist movement of the working class, fighting for world socialist revolution.

The United States plotted the coup which took place in Ukraine in February 2014 in response to Russia’s policy in Syria, says George Friedman, the founder and CEO of Stratfor, known as “Shadow CIA”.

The United States is behind the February coup in Kiev, which came in response to Russia’s stance on Syria, said George Friedman, the founder and CEO of Stratfor, a global intelligence company.

Russia has repeatedly said that the coup in Kiev was organized by the US, Friedman told Kommersant newspaper. Indeed, it was the most overt coup in history, the political analyst stressed.

The United States decided to act following Russia’s successes in the Middle East, a key region for the US. Americans saw that Russians could influence what was happening in the Middle East, Friedman said. Russians are one of the many challenges in the region that the US faces, he stated. The US thought Russia’s activities were an attempt to harm Washington, the political analyst told the newspaper, adding that events in Ukraine should be viewed in this context.

Russians seem to have underestimated how seriously the US would react to Moscow’s activities in the region and that they would easily respond, Friedman said. The US understood that the thing Russia wants the least is instability in Ukraine, he added.

Meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Mauritanian counterpart Ahmed Ould Teguedi

The head of Stratfor, also known as “The Shadow CIA,” insisted that Russia’s involvement in Syria was not the only reason for the Ukrainian crisis. However, many in Washington started to perceive Russia as a problem, the expert told the newspaper, adding that at that time the US decided to divert Russia’s attention away from the Middle East.

Syria has been in a civil war since March 2011. Over 100,000 people have died as a result of the armed conflict. Russia repeatedly stated that the election of Syria’s president Bashar Assad was legitimate, and that the people of Syria should control their future. From the beginning of the war the US supported the opposition and stated that the conflict would not be over with Assad in power.

Haiti: Time for Clinton and Co to Pack and Go

December 20th, 2014 by Dady Chery

Once more, we have tasted salt. We have mourned our dead from the earthquake and the cholera epidemic. The collective depression, the temporary zombification has lifted. It is time to evict the occupier and pursue the traitors and enemies of our independence. No exception.

This is not the first time the United States has occupied Haiti and been evicted from it. The first occupation began during the administration of the questionable Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Woodrow Wilson in 1915. It was countered by an armed insurrection that grew to include over 40,000 Haitian fighters who regularly engaged the US marines. Although this insurrection was ultimately crushed, it was followed by numerous popular strikes in Haiti as well as calls in the US by women’s groups and Black Americans to end the occupation. The return to sovereignty was relatively simple: a committee was assembled to organize legislative and presidential elections. The occupation formally ended in 1934, near the start of the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who personally came for a flag-raising ceremony in Haiti to recognize its independence.

Back in 1915, the Monroe Doctrine needed no cover of legitimacy or humanitarianism. The cowardly Sudre Dartiguenave was picked as Haiti’s President while US marines waited with bayonets at the ready for the correct choice to be made by the legislature. Two years later, the legislature was dissolved outright by Major General Smedley Butler when the Haitian parliament refused to ratify a US-drafted constitution.

A treaty was forced on Haiti that created the post of US High Commissioner, to run the country alongside its hand-picked “Haitian” president. General John H. Russell was appointed to that post. The US flag was raised in Haiti. Control of the country’s finances, public works, and public health services were transferred to southern US Democrats who had supported Wilson’s campaign, in much the same way that these are transferred today to USAID and non-governmental organizations (NGO). The idea then was the same as now: all Haiti’s economy should serve the US, and nearly all US dollars paid as wages in Haiti should return to the US. For more than three decades, the occupier also collected taxes from Haitians that amounted to 40 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Clinton saw in the earthquake of 2010 his opportunity to become the new US High Commissioner of Haiti. Hardly anything in his approach was novel, except for his recruitment of Latin Americans to support his project. Argentina, Brazil and Chile were offered the chance to get prestige on the world scene and assemble a repressive force away from the prying eyes of their nationals by training and modernizing their armies on Haitians as their unsuspecting victims. Thus these countries became the “ABC” core of the United Nations (de)Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH): the only UN “peacekeeping” force in a country that is not at war. MINUSTAH began its career by killing thousands of Lavalas partisans so as to suppress the popular rebellion against the coup that removed Haiti’s elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide. Currently Bolivia, Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, the United States and Uruguay also participate in an expanded MINUSTAH.

Once Clinton’s repressive army was in place, he set out to wrest economic control of Haiti. Within four months of the earthquake, he formed the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH): a strictly pay-to-play group of officials/rich businessmen from the MINUSTAH countries and others who agreed to contribute armed personnel from their countries or money (at least $100 million in a two-year period, or erasure of over $200 million in debt) in return for a piece of the action in Haiti. After some arm twisting and bribery, the Haitian parliament was forced to declare a state of emergency for 18 months during which Clinton and his CIRH gang could do as they pleased with regard to reconstruction, without risk of liability. One year and a half came and went, and when the Haitian Senate observed that nothing much had been accomplished, the state of emergency was not renewed, and the CIRH was alleged to be fraudulent.

By then, Clinton and his cronies had began to search for another way to continue their economic stranglehold on the country, and this would include a suitable Haitian President: specifically, one who would be popular with the young but lack patriotism. They found their man in the vulgar musician Michel Martelly. His election became a mere formality after an electoral commission excluded from participation the Fanmi Lavalas party, which commanded 80 percent of the electorate. Observers from Caricom and the Organization of American States (OAS) legitimized the results despite countless irregularities and ballots from only about 20 percent of the electorate. Such are the conditions under which Michel Martelly was (s)elected President of Haiti.

Simultaneously with the assembly of the new parliament in Spring 2011, Clinton tried to push on Haiti a series of constitutional amendments, nearly all of which aimed to centralize the government so that the country would be more easily controlled via its executive branch. In particular, the Haitian Supreme Court, normally appointed with the input of communal assemblies, would be replaced by a Constitutional Council of Martelly appointees. All local judges, mayors, and departmental governors would also be replaced by Martelly appointees. Finally, the president would be allowed to serve consecutive terms instead of being limited to non-consecutive ones of five years. After the parliament refused to ratify those changes, it was not dissolved. Such things are no longer done in this era of humanitarian imperialism. The constitutional amendments were simply imposed on the country by presidential decree, and the parliament was allowed to atrophy from a neglect to hold legislative elections.

Clinton picked Laurent Lamothe as Haiti’s Prime Minister. He did not have to look far: Lamothe was a rich businessman and CIRH member. Haiti is not exceptional in having men like Martelly or Lamothe who would eagerly serve as the Vichy administration to an occupier. It is hardly surprising that the first allegiance of such individuals is to money. Soon after the installment of the Martelly-Lamothe regime, the electrical grid and running water services began to be dismantled in Haiti’s major cities. This had the effect of depressing land prices in areas coveted by government officials as well as creating a reason to solicit aid funds. Worse, Martelly appointees – some with criminal records – began to ransack and even destroy Haiti’s city halls and local courts. Peaceful protests against these insults met with violent attacks, initially from MINUSTAH and later, from a rapidly growing and increasingly militarized Haitian police force.

Yet more egregious recent actions by the Martelly-Lamothe regime have included: the appropriation of Haiti’s offshore islands by the tourism ministry by decree, followed by the imprisonment and suspicious death of activists who had opposed the land grabs; an agreement to grant the collection of Haiti’s customs taxes to a private Swiss company for 10 years, without discussion with the parliament; the acceptance of reparation funds from Uruguay by the executive branch, also without consultation with the parliament; the suspicious death of a judge who had been investigating a case of usurpation and money laundering brought against the president’s wife and son. There was never an inquest; the plaintiffs in the case, Enold and Josue Florestal, have been incarcerated since August 2013 in what are generally regarded as being politically motivated imprisonments.

Protests throughout Haiti have reached fever pitch. Some municipalities, like Petit Goave and Port-au-Prince have held over 20 days of actions to express their disgust with the incompetent and corrupt occupation regime.  Despite public support from Bill Clinton, his protégé Laurent Lamothe was forced to resign his post as Prime Minister on December 13, 2014. Michel Martelly, who is also supported by Bill and Hillary Clinton, will probably go the same way. The international community, which had been content to parasitize Haiti in its worst moment, recently began to cry that the country is entering a crisis, because the failure to hold elections will cause the dissolution of the parliament on the second Monday of January 2015. Coincidentally, Monday, January 12, 2015 will also be the fifth anniversary of the earthquake: a day for stocktaking, for sure. Clinton’s paltry achievements in reconstruction will not fare well.

Haiti is not entering a crisis, it is emerging from one. If the international community wishes to conduct legitimate business with Haiti, then Clinton’s damages must first be mended. Elections must be held at the earliest possible date for all local officials (mayors, judges), the legislature, and a new president. A prime minister must be appointed, and a supreme court must be seated. With regard to Haiti, the expressions “constitutional crisis” and “political chaos” from the international community have usually been threats to declare a failed state and propose governance by the UN or receivership by the US. Such threats are hardly worth anyone’s notice. It is quite unwise for the UN and US to presume that they would fare better than Napoleon in an attempt to take Haiti by force.

There is no other choice for the Clintons but to leave Haiti, together with their international cohort of parasites, including MINUSTAH, the NGOs and USAID. If Bill Clinton has peddled to his rich friends parts of Haiti that never belonged to him, then let this be his personal quandary. A series of legal actions relating to embezzlement, corruption and money laundering are already being taken against Martelly’s family and Lamothe; Clinton might well get caught in the same net. Contracts entered into during the period of runaway larceny by the Clinton-appointed Martelly-Lamothe regime deserve no more respect than the purchase of one’s stolen watch on a street corner. Haiti is not for sale: not in bulk, not in retail.

 Editor’s Notes: Photographs one, nine, ten, twelve, thirteen and fourteen from UN Photo archive; photographs two, four, six, eight and eleven from the archive of Ansel; photograph seven from the archive of UN Development Program.

In this column, Mairead Maguire, peace activist from Northern Ireland and Nobel Peace Laureate 1976, argues that in a world that has moved far from the Christic life of non-violence, a clear message and unambiguous proclamation is needed from spiritual or religious leaders that armaments, nuclear weapons, militarism and war must be abolished.

I recently visited Assisi, the home of St. Francis and St. Clare, two great spirits whose lives have inspired us and millions of people around the world.

St. Francis, a man of peace, and St. Clare, a woman of prayer, whose message of love, compassion, care  for humans, animals and  the environment comes down through history to speak to us in a very relevant and inspirational way.

Today, in the 2lst century, as we the human family face increasing violence, we are challenged to admit that we are on the wrong path, and that we need to find new ways of thinking and doing things from a global perspective.Peace is a beautiful gift to have in life, and it is particularly treasured by those who have known violent conflict, war, famine, disease and poverty.  I believe that Peace is a basic human right for every individual and all people.

Love for others and respect for their rights and their human dignity, irrespective of who or what they are, no matter what religion – or none – that they choose to follow, will bring about real change and set in motion proper relationships.  With such relationships built on equality and trust, we can work together on so many of the threats to our common humanity.

“For the first three hundred years after Christ, the early Christian communities lived in total commitment to Jesus’s non-violence. Sadly, for the next 1700 years, Christian mainline churches have not believed, taught or lived Jesus’s simple message: love your enemies, do not kill”

Poverty is one such threat and Pope Francis challenges us to take care of the poor, and has declared his desire that the Catholic Church be a church of the poor and for the poor. To meet this challenge, we can each ask ourselves ‘how will what I do today help the poor’?.

Pope Francis also has spoken about the need to build fraternity amongst the nations. This is important because building trust amongst people and countries will help bring peace to our interdependent, inter-connected world.

Violence begets violence as we witness every day on our television screens, so the choice between violence and non-violence, is up to each one of us.  However, if we do not teach non-violence in our education systems and in our religious institutions, how can we make that choice?

I believe that all faith traditions and secular societies need to work together and teach the way of non-violence as a way of living, also as a political science and means for bringing about social and political change wherever we live.

A grave responsibility lies with the different religious traditions to give spiritual guidance and a clear message, particularly on the questions of economic injustice, ‘armed resistance‘, arms, militarism and war.

As a Christian living in a violent ethnic political conflict in Northern Ireland, and caught between the violence of the British army and the Irish Republican Army, I was forced to confront myself with the questions, ‘do you ever kill?’ and ‘is there such a thing as a just war?’.

During my spiritual journey I reached the absolute conviction that killing is wrong and that the just war theory is, in the words of the late Fr. John L. McKenzie, “a phony piece of morality”.

I became a pacifist because I believe every human life is sacred and we have no right to kill each other. When we deepen our love and compassion for all our brothers and sisters, it is not possible to torture or kill anyone, no matter who they are or what they do.

I also believe that Jesus was a pacifist and I agree with McKenzie when he writes: “if we cannot know from the New Testament that Jesus rejected violence absolutely, then we can know nothing of Jesus’ person or message. It is the clearest of themes.”

For the first three hundred years after Christ, the early Christian communities lived in total commitment to Jesus’s non-violence. Sadly, for the next 1700 years, Christian mainline churches have not believed, taught or lived Jesus’s simple message: love your enemies, do not kill.

During the last 1700 years, Christians have moved so far away from the Christic life of non-violence that we find ourselves in the terrible dilemma of condemning one kind of homicide and violence while paying for, actively participating in or supporting homicidal violence and war on a magnitude far greater than that which we condemn in others.

There is indeed a longstanding defeat in our theology. To help us out of this dilemma, we need to hear the full gospel message from our Christian leaders.

We need to reject the ‘just war’ theology and develop a theology in keeping with Jesus’ non-violence.

Some Christians believe that the ‘just war’ theory can be applied and that they can use violence – that is, ‘armed struggle/armed resistance’ – or can be adopted by governments to justify ongoing war.

It is precisely because of this ‘bad’ theology that we need, from our spiritual or religious leaders, a clear message and an unambiguous proclamation that violence is not the way of Jesus, violence is not the way of Christianity, and that armaments, nuclear weapons, militarism and war must be abolished and replaced with a more human and moral way of solving our problems without killing each other.

Ruble Takedown Exposes Cracks in Putin’s Defense

December 20th, 2014 by Mike Whitney

“The plunge of the Russian currency this week is the drastic outcome of policies implemented by the major imperialist powers to force Russia to submit to American and European imperialism’s neo-colonial restructuring of Eurasia. Punishing the Putin regime’s interference with their plans for regime change in countries such as Ukraine and Syria, the NATO powers are financially strangling Russia.” – Alex Lantier, Imperialism and the ruble crisis, World Socialist Web Site

“The struggle for world domination has assumed titanic proportions. The phases of this struggle are played out upon the bones of the weak and backward nations.” – Leon Trotsky, 1929

Russian President Vladimir Putin suffered a stunning defeat on Tuesday when a US-backed plan to push down oil prices sent the ruble into freefall. Russia’s currency plunged 10 percent on Monday followed by an 11 percent drop on Tuesday reducing the ruble’s value by more than half in less than a year. The jarring slide was assisted by western sympathizers at Russia’s Central Bank who, earlier in the day, boosted interest rates from 10.5 percent to 17 percent to slow the decline. But the higher rates only intensified the outflow of capital which put the ruble into a tailspin forcing international banks to remove pricing and liquidity from the currency leading to the suspension of trade. According to Russia Today:

“Russian Federation Council Chair Valentina Matviyenko has ordered a vote on a parliamentary investigation into the recent activities of the Central Bank and its alleged role in the worst-ever plunge of the ruble rate…

“I suggest to start a parliamentary investigation into activities of the Central Bank that has allowed violations of the citizens’ Constitutional rights, including the right for property,” the RIA Novosti quoted Tarlo as saying on Wednesday.

The senator added that according to the law, protecting financial stability in the country is the main task of the Central Bank and its senior management. However, the bank’s actions, in particular the recent raising of the key interest rate to 17 percent, have so far yielded the opposite results.” (Upper House plans probe into Central Bank role in ruble crash, RT)

The prospect that there may be collaborators and fifth columnists at Russia’s Central Bank should surprise no one. The RCB is an independent organization that serves the interests of global capital and regional oligarchs the same as central banks everywhere. This is a group that believes that humanity’s greatest achievement is the free flow of privately-owned capital to markets around the world where it can extract maximum value off the sweat of working people. Why would Russia be any different in that regard?

It isn’t. The actions of the Central Bank have cost the Russian people dearly, and yet, even now the main concern of RCB elites is their own survival and the preservation of the banking system. An article that appeared at Zero Hedge on Wednesday illustrates this point. After ruble trading was suspended, the RCB released a document with “7 new measures” all of which were aimed at protecting the banking system via moratoria on securities losses, breaks on interest rates, additional liquidity provisioning, easier credit and accounting standards, and this gem at the end:

“In order to maintain the stability of the banking sector in the face of increased interest rate and credit risks of a slowdown of the Russian economy the Bank of Russia and the Government of the Russian Federation prepare measures to recapitalize credit institutions in 2015.” (Russian Central Bank Releases 7 Measures It Will Take To Stabilize The Financial Sector, Zero Hedge)

Sound familiar? It should. You see, the Russian Central Bank works a lot like the Fed. At the first sign of trouble they build a nice, big rowboat for themselves and their dodgy bank buddies and leave everyone else to drown. That’s what these bullet points are all about. Save the banks, and to hell the people who suffer from their exploitative policies.

Here’s more from RT:

“Earlier this week a group of State Duma MPs from the Communist Party sent an official address to Putin asking him to sack (Central Bank head, Elvira) Nabiullina, and all senior managers of the Central Bank as their current policies are causing the rapid devaluation of ruble and impoverishment of the majority of the Russian population.

In their letter, the Communists also recalled Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly in which he said that control over inflation must not be in the way of the steady economic growth.

“They listen to your orders and then do the opposite,” the lawmakers complained.” (RT)

In other words, the RCB enforces its own “austerity” policy in Russia just as central bankers do everywhere. There’s nothing conspiratorial about this. CBs are owned and controlled by the big money guys which is why their policies invariably serve the interests of the rich. They might not call it “trickle down” or “structural adjustment” (as they do in the US), but it amounts to the same thing, the inexorable shifting of wealth from working class people to the parasitic plutocrats who control the system and its political agents. Same old, same old.

Even so, the media has pinned the blame for Tuesday’s ruble fiasco on Putin who, of course, has nothing to do with monetary policy. That said, the ruble rout helps to draw attention to the fact that Moscow is clearly losing its war with the US and needs to radically adjust its approach if it hopes to succeed. First of all, Putin might be a great chess player, but he’s got a lot to learn about finance. He also needs a crash-course in asymmetrical warfare if he wants to defend the country from more of Washington’s stealth attacks.

In the last 10 months, the United States has executed a near-perfect takedown of the Russian economy. Following a sloppy State Department-backed coup in Kiev, Washington has consolidated its power in the Capital, removed dissident elements in the government, deployed the CIA to oversee operations, launched a number of attacks on rebel forces in the east, transferred ownership of Ukraine’s vital pipeline system to US puppets and foreign corporations, created a tollbooth separating Moscow from the lucrative EU market, foiled a Russian plan to build an alternate pipeline to southern Europe (South Stream), built up its military assets in the Balkans and Black Sea and, finally–the cherry on the cake–initiated a daring sneak attack on Russia’s currency by employing its Saudi-proxy to flood the market with oil, push prices off a cliff, and trigger a run on the ruble which slashed its value by more than half forcing retail currency platforms to stop trading the battered ruble until prices stabilized.

Like we said, Putin might be a great chess player, but in his battle with the US, he’s getting his clock cleaned. So far, he’s been no match for the maniacal focus and relentless savagery of the Washington powerbrokers. Yes, he’s formed critical alliances across Asia and the world. He’s also created competing institutions (like the BRICS bank) that could break the imperial grip on global finance. And, he’s also expounded a vision of a new world in which “one center of power” does not dictate the rules to everyone else. That’s all great, but he’s losing the war, and that’s what counts. Washington doesn’t care about peoples’ dreams or aspirations. What they care about is ruling the world with an iron fist, which is precisely what they intend to do for the next century or so unless someone stops them. Putin’s actions, however admirable, have not yet changed that basic dynamic. In fact, this latest debacle (authored by the RCB) is a severe setback for the country and could impact Russia’s ability to defend itself against US-NATO aggression.

So what does Putin need to do to reverse the current trend?

The first order of business should be a fundamental change in approach followed by a quick switch from defense to offense. There should be no doubt by now, that Washington is going for the jugular. The attack on the ruble provides clear evidence that the US will not be satisfied until Russia has been decimated and reduced to “a permanent state of colonial dependency.” (Chomsky) The United States has launched a full-blown economic war on Russia and yet the Kremlin is still acting like Washington’s punching bag. You can’t win a war like that. You have to take the initiative; take chances, be bold, think outside the box. That’s what Washington is doing. The rout of the ruble is perhaps the most astonishingly-successful asymmetrical attack in recent memory. It involved tremendous risks and costs on the part of the perpetrators. For example, the lower oil prices have ravaged important domestic industries, created widespread financial instability, and sent markets across the planet into a nosedive. Even so, Washington persevered with its audacious strategy, undeterred by the vast collateral damage, never losing sight of its ultimate objective; to deprive Moscow of crucial oil revenues, to crash the ruble, and to open up Central Asia for imperial expansion and US military bases. (The pivot to Asia)

This is how the US plays the game, by keeping its “eyes on the prize” at all times, and by rolling roughshod over anyone or anything that gets in its way. That is why the US is the world’s only superpower, because the voracious oligarchs who run the country will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Does Putin have the grit to match that kind of venomous determination? Has he even adjusted to the fact that WW3 will be unlike any conflict in the past, that jihadi-proxies and Neo Nazi-proxies will be employed as shock troops for the empire clearing the way for US special forces and foot soldiers who will hold ground and establish the new order? Does he even realize that Barbarossa 2 is already underway, but that the Panzer divisions and 2 million German regulars have been replaced with high-powered computers, covert ops, color-coded revolutions, currency crises, capital flight, cyber attacks and relentless propaganda. That’s 4th Generation (4-G) warfare in a nutshell. And, guess what? The US attack on the ruble has shown that it is the undisputed master of this new kind of warfare. More important, Washington has just prevailed in a battle that could prove to be a critical turning point if Putin doesn’t get his act together and retaliate.

Retaliate?!?

You mean nukes?

Heck no. But, by the same token, you can’t expect to win a confrontation with the US by rerouting gas pipelines to Turkey or by forming stronger coalitions with other BRICS countries or by ditching the dollar. Because none of that stuff makes a damn bit of difference when your currency is in the toilet and the US is making every effort to grind your face into the pavement.

Capisce?

There’s an expression is football that goes something like this: The best defense is a good offense. You can’t win by sitting on the sidelines and hoping your team doesn’t lose. You must engage your adversary at every opportunity never giving ground without a fight. And when an opening appears where you can take the advantage, you must act promptly and decisively never looking back and never checking your motives. That’s how you win.

Washington only thinks in terms winning. It expects to win, and will do whatever is necessary to win. In fact, the whole system has been re-geared for one, sole purpose; to beat the holy hell out of anyone who gets out of line. That’s what we do, and we’ve gotten pretty good at it. So, if you want to compete at that level, you’ve got to have “game”. You’re going to have to step up and prove that you can run with the big kids.

And that’s what makes Putin’s next move so important, crucial really. Because whatever he does will send a message to Washington that he’s either up to the challenge or he’s not. Which is why he needs to come out swinging and do something completely unexpected. The element of surprise, that’s the ticket. And we’re not talking about military action either. That just plays to Uncle Sam’s strong hand. Putin doesn’t need another Vietnam. He needs a coherent gameplan. He needs a winning strategy. He needs to takes risks, put it all on the line and roll the freaking dice. You can’t lock horns with the US and play it safe. That’s a losing strategy. This is smash-mouth, steelcage smackdown, a scorched-earth event where winner takes all. You have to be ready to rumble.

Putin needs to think asymmetrically. What would Obama do if he was in Putin’s shoes?

You know what he’d do: He’d send military support to Assad. He’d arm rebel factions in Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Nigeria and elsewhere. He’d strengthen ties with Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador providing them with military, intelligence and logistical support. He’d deploy his NGOs and Think Tank cronies to foment revolution wherever leaders refused to follow Moscow’s directives. He would work tirelessly to build the economic, political, media, and military institutions he needed to impose his own self-serving version of snatch-and-grab capitalism on every nation on every continent in the world. That’s what Obama would do, because that’s what his puppetmasters would demand of him.

But Putin must be more discreet, because his resources are more limited. But he still has options, like the markets, for example. Let’s say Putin announces that creditors in the EU (particularly banks) won’t be paid until the ruble recovers. How does that sound?

Putin: “We’re really sorry about the inconvenience, but we won’t be able to make those onerous principle payments for a while. Please accept our humble apologies.” End of statement.

Moments later: Global stocks plunge 350 points on the prospect of a Russian default and its impact on the woefully-undercapitalized EU banking system.

Get the picture? That’s what you call an asymmetrical attack. The idea was even hinted at in a piece on Bloomberg News. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Sergei Markov, a pro-Putin academic, wrote in a column on Vzglyad.ru. “Since the reasons for the ruble’s fall are political, the response should be political, too. For example, a law that would ban Russian companies from repaying debts to Western counterparties if the ruble has dropped more than 50 percent in the last year. That will immediately lower the pressure on the ruble, many countries have done this, Malaysia is one example. It’s in great economic shape now.” (Is Russia ready to impose capital controls? Chicago Tribune)

Here’s more background from RT:

“Major banks across Europe, as well as the UK, US, and Japan, are at major risk should the Russian economy default, according to a new study by Capital Economics. The ING Group in the Netherlands, Raiffeisen Bank in Austria, Societe General in France, UniCredit in Italy, and Commerzbank in Germany, have all faced significant losses in the wake of the ruble crisis…

Overall Societe General, known as Rosbank in the Russian market, has the most exposure at US$31 billion, or €25 billion, according to Citigroup Inc. analysts. This is equivalent to 62 percent of the Paris-based bank’s tangible equity, Bloomberg News reported.

Following the drop, Raiffeisen, which has €15 billion at risk in Russia, saw its stocks plummeted more than 10 percent. Raiffeisen also has significant exposure in Ukraine, which is facing a similar currency sell-off as Russia.” (Russia crisis leaves banks around the world exposed by the billions, RT)

So Putin defaults which nudges the EU banking system down the stairwell. So what? What does that prove?

It proves that Russia has the tools to defend itself. It proves that Putin can disrupt the status quo and spread the pain a bit more equitably. “Spreading the pain” is a tool the US uses quite frequently in its dealings with other countries. Maybe Putin should take a bite of that same apple, eh?

Another option would be to implement capital controls to avoid ruble-dollar conversion and further capital flight. The beauty of capital controls is that they take power away from the big money guys who run the world and hand it back to elected officials. Leaders like Putin are then in a position to say, “Hey, we’re going to take a little break from the dollar system for while until we get caught up. I hope you’ll understand our situation.”

Capital controls are an extremely effective of avoiding capital flight and minimizing the impact of a currency crisis. Here’s a short summary of how these measures helped Malaysia muddle through in 1998:

“When the Asian financial crisis hit, Malaysia’s position looked a lot like Russia’s today: It had big foreign reserves and a low short-term debt level, but relatively high general indebtedness if households and corporations were factored in. At first, to bolster the ringgit, Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim pushed through a market-based policy with a flexible exchange rate, rising interest rates and cuts in government spending. It didn’t work: Consumption and investment went down, and pessimism prevailed, exerting downward pressure on the exchange rate.

So, in June 1998, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad… appointed a different economic point man, Daim Zainuddin. In September, on Daim’s urging, Malaysia introduced capital controls. It banned offshore operations in ringgit and forbade foreign investors to repatriate profits for a year. Analysts at the time were sharply critical of the measures, and Malaysia’s reputation in the global financial markets inevitably suffered.

According to Kaplan and Rodrik, however, the capital controls were ultimately effective. The government was able to lower interest rates, the economy recovered, the controls were relaxed ahead of time, and by May 1999 Malaysia was back on the international capital markets with a $1 billion bond issue.” (Is Russia ready to impose capital controls, Chicago Tribune)

Sure they were effective, but they piss off the slacker class of oligarchs who think the whole system should be centered on their “inalienable right” to move capital from one spot to another so they can rake-off hefty profits at everyone else’s expense. Capital controls push those creeps to the back of the line so the state can do what it needs to do to preserve the failing economy from the attack of speculators. Here’s a clip from a speech Joseph Stiglitz gave in 2014 at the Atlanta Fed’s 2014 Financial Markets Conference. He said:

“When countries do not impose capital controls and allow exchange rates to vary freely, this can give rise to high levels of exchange rate volatility. The consequence can be high levels of economic volatility, imposing great costs on workers and firms throughout the economy. Even if they can lay off some of the risk, there is a cost to doing so. The very existence of this volatility affects the structure of the economy and overall economic performance.”

That sums it up pretty well. Without capital controls, the deep-pocket Wall Street banks and speculators can simply vacuum the money out of an economy leaving the country broken and penniless. This nihilistic decimation of emerging markets via capital flight is what the kleptocracy breezily refers to as “free markets”, the unwavering plundering of civilization to fatten the coffers of the swinish few at the top of the foodchain. That’s got to stop.

Putin needs to put his foot down now; stop the outflow of cash, stop the conversion of rubles to dollars, force investors to recycle their money into the domestic economy, indict the central bank governors and trundle them off to the hoosegow, and reassert the power of the people over the markets. If he doesn’t, then the speculators will continue to peck away until Russia’s reserves are drained-dry and the country is pushed back into another long-term slump. Who wants that?

And don’t think that Putin’s only problem is Washington either, because it isn’t. He’s got an even bigger headache in his own country with the morons who still buy the hogwash that “the market knows best.” These are the fantasists, the corporate toadies, and the fifth columnists, some of whom hold very high office. Here’s a clip I picked up at the Vineyard of the Saker under the heading “Medvedev declares: more of the same”:

(Russian Prime Minister) “Medvedev has just called a government meeting with most of the directors of top Russian corporations and the director of the Russian Central Bank. He immediately announced that he will not introduce any harsh regulatory measures and that he will let the market forces correct the situation. As for the former Minister of Finance, the one so much beloved in the West, Alexei Kudrin, he expressed his full support for the latest increase in interest rates.”

This is lunacy. The US has just turned Russia’s currency into worthless fishwrap, and bonehead Medvedev wants to play nice and return to “business as usual”??

No thanks. Maybe Medvedev wants to be a slave to the market, but I’ll bet Putin is smarter than that.

Putin’s not going to roll over and play dead for these vipers. He’s got to much on the ball for that. He’s going to beat them at their own game, fair and square. He’s going to implement capital controls, restructure the economy away from the west, and aggressively look for ways to deter Washington from spreading its heinous resource war to Central Asia and beyond.

He’s not going to give an inch. You’ll see.

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].

Even facing what under any circumstances is a perfect storm; President Putin delivered an extremely measured performance at his annual press conference and Q&A marathon.

The perfect storm evolves in two fronts; an overt economic war – as in siege by sanctions – and a concerted, covert, shadow attack to the heart of the Russian economy. Washington’s endgame is clear: impoverish and defang the adversary and force him to meekly bow to the Empire of Chaos’s’ whims. And bragging about it all the way to “victory.”

The problem is Moscow happens to have impeccably deciphered the game – even before Putin, at the Valdai Club in October, pinned down the Obama doctrine as “our Western partners” working as practitioners of the “theory of controlled chaos.”

So Putin neatly understood this week’s monster controlled chaos attack. The Empire has massive money power; a great deal of influence over the world’s GDP at $85 trillion, and the banking power behind that. So nothing easier than using that power through the private banking systems that actually controls central banks to create a run on the ruble. Think about the ‘Empire of Chaos’ dreaming of driving the ruble down by 99% or so – thus wrecking the Russian economy. What better way to impose imperial discipline on Russia?

The “Nuclear” Option

Russia sells oil in US dollars to the West. Lukoil, for instance, would have a deposit in US dollars in an American bank for the oil they sell. If Lukoil has to pay wages in rubles in Russia, then they will have to sell the US dollar deposits and buy in Russia a ruble deposit for their bank account. This in effect supports the ruble. The question is whether Lukoil, Rosneft and Gazprom are hoarding US dollars overseas – and holding back. The answer is no. And the same applies to other Russian businesses.

Russia is not “losing their savings”, as Western corporate media gloats. Russia can always require foreign companies to relocate to Russia. Apple, for instance, may open a manufacturing plant in Russia. The recent Russia-China deals include the Chinese building factories in Russia. With a depreciated ruble, Russia is able to force manufacturing that might have been located in the EU to be located in Russia; otherwise these companies lose the market. Putin somewhat admitted that Russia should have been demanding this much earlier. The – positive – process is now inevitable.

And then there’s a “nuclear” option – which Putin didn’t even have to mention. If Russia decides to impose capital controls and/or imposes a “holiday” on repayment of larger debt tranches coming due in early 2015, the European financial system will be bombed – Shock and Awe-style; after all, much of the Russian bank and corporate funding was underwritten in Europe.

Exposure to Russia per se is not the issue; what matters is the linkage to European banks. As an American investment banker told me, Lehman Brothers, for instance, brought down Europe just as much as New York City – based on inter-linkages. And yet Lehman was based in New York. It’s the domino effect that counts.

Were Russia to deploy this “nuclear” financial option, the Western financial system would not be able to absorb a shock of default. And that would demonstrate – once and for all – that Wall Street speculators have built a ‘House of Cards’ so fragile and corrupt that the first real storm turns it to dust.

It’s Just a Shot Away

And what if Russia defaults – creating a holy mess out of the country’s $600 billion debt? This scenario reads as the Masters of the Universe telling Janet Yellen and Mario Draghi to create credits in the banking systems to prevent “undue damage” - as in 2008.

But then Russia decides to cut off natural gas and oil from the West (while keeping the flow to the East). Russian intel may wreak non-stop havoc in pumping stations from the Maghreb to the Middle East. Russia may block all the oil and natural gas pumped in the Central Asian ‘stans’. The result: the greatest financial collapse in history. And the end of the ‘Empire of Chaos’s’ exceptionalist panacea.

Of course this is a doomsday scenario. But don’t provoke the bear, because the bear could pull that off in a flash.

Putin was so cool, calm, collected – and eager to delve into details – at his press conference because he knows Moscow is able to move in total autonomy. This is – of course – an asymmetrical war – against a crumbling, dangerous empire. What those intellectual midgets swarming the lame duck Obama administration are thinking? That they can sell American – and world – public opinion the notion Washington (European poodles, actually) will brave nuclear war, in the European theater, in the name of failed state Ukraine?

This is a chess game. The raid on the ruble was supposed to be a checkmate. It’s not. Not when deployed by amateur scrabble players. And don’t forget the Russia-China strategic partnership. The storm may be abating, but the match continues.

 

This article was first published by WhoWhatWhy

Ebola slipped from interrupting regular programming status almost as fast as it surfaced in a frenzy of hysterical reporting about Americans who might die from it.

Yet the largest outbreak in history isn’t off the radar in its West African epicenter, where it has killed nearly 7,000 people. Sierra Leone’s government canceled Christmas, elections are steaming ahead in Liberia despite the disease and the World Bank is predicting that the economic cost could rise to as much as $32.6 billion.

But just like those stories about missing or downed Malaysian jets, the American media has moved on.

So now that all of the American patients are cured, it’s worth finding out if any lessons were learned from what’s still a major global health crisis, and whether the U.S. response has left the country vulnerable.

Perhaps we can call this next phase Ebola 2.0, or how the world puts itself at greater risk by learning to live with a disease that kills 70 percent of those it afflicts.

Lesson 1:  Ebola Was All But Ignored Until It Directly Threatened U.S. Interests

Why has it taken so long to find a cure or vaccine for ebola, since it’s been around for 40 years? “Because Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations,” World Health Organization Director Margaret Chan said on Sept. 16.

That’s certainly the case with the three worst-affected countries: Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, which don’t amount to much economically in the context of wider Africa.

It was only after ebola surfaced in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt, the oil hub of Africa’s biggest hydrocarbon producer, in late August that the United States began to take real notice. “If that (Port Harcourt) outbreak flares up again, it could dampen the economic outlook worldwide,” Chan said. Why? To start with, the U.S. buys $11.7 billion of petroleum a year from Nigeria, and ExxonMobil, Chevron and others operate wells there.

On Sept. 16, the White House announced that the U.S. response was now a “top national security priority.” Although the U.S. was involved on a smaller scale, President Obama upped the ante by ordering 3,000 soldiers deployed to West Africa.

Here’s where the chronology gets interesting: the public hysteria over ebola in the U.S. came at the end of September. That’s when Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan became the first patient in the U.S. diagnosed with ebola in this outbreak.

Lesson 2. Little Will Change Until Big Money Gets Behind an Ebola Push, Like It Did With AIDS.

If that infection in Nigerian oil country is what helped spur a wider U.S. response, then history shows us that ebola still has a way to go before it merits a full-scale solution.

In 2000, the global threat from HIV/AIDS was sufficient to prompt the National Intelligence Council to declare it a danger to regions where the U.S. had “significant interests.”

Mining companies in Africa were among the first to understand that without a solution, their business could face major disruption from the disease and its sociopolitical effects, according to Dr. Glenn Fennelly. Now the chair of the pediatrics department at Rutgers University, Fennelly worked in Ethiopia and Vietnam as part of President George W. Bush’s President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief.

PEPFAR, as the program is known, was considered a successful initiative, in spite of some substantial criticism. It drew controversy for its use of “faith-based organizations,” a requirement that a third of funding go toward promoting sexual abstinence and the naming of a former CEO of drugmaker Eli Lilly as its first global coordinator.

In fact, big money got behind PEPFAR in a series of public-private partnerships. Giant corporations like General Mills, Anglo American Mining and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin and others sponsored it. The program is “a good model for how we can deal with the current Ebola crisis,” Fennelly said.

So far, corporate America has had little to do with ebola. ExxonMobil, which has begun operations in Liberia, donated $150,000 to ease the crisis.

Lesson 3: Lessons of the Past Were Ignored

Ebola, of course, isn’t the first deadly disease outbreak the United States has tackled. It appears, though, that earlier experiences haven’t informed the latest effort.

The underwhelming response “seems to reflect an unwillingness to grapple with the future repercussions for the United States,” said Dr. Meryl Nass, an internist who did groundbreaking research on the use of anthrax as a biological weapon during Zimbabwe’s civil war.

Yet $60 billion has been spent to protect against infectious diseases outbreaks since the 2001 anthrax scare. The government’s preparedness for such a threat appears to be no better organized now. The U.S. is in “the very early stages of figuring out how to care for (ebola). We do not even have reliable disinfection guidelines yet,” she said.

Paradoxically, money played an enormous role in stopping the latest U.S. outbreak. President Obama got $5.2 billion from Congress to that end, part of which is for setting up a network of hospitals that can handle ebola. That’s no easy feat, Nass said. One patient takes up an entire intensive care unit, a single lab must be dedicated to ebola and the daily cost per patient runs as high as $50,000. That’s “not sustainable if you get beyond just a few cases,” she says.

So the United States, more than 13 years after its last big infectious disease panic, appears to be no closer to a comprehensive solution. Ignoring ebola now that it’s out of the headlines just won’t work, Fennelly with Rutgers said. “If a virus like ebola exists anywhere, we are at risk everywhere.”

Fidel Castro’s Legacy

December 20th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

At age 88, he’s Cuba’s elder statesman. A legend in his own time and then some. Defying critics. Outwitting them. Outliving them. 

This article a snapshot of some of his achievements. Impressive by any standard.

On the 50th anniversary of his July 26, 1953 Fort Moncada attack, media scoundrels pronounced his revolution dead.

Expected collapse. Predicted free market capitalism’s return. The bad old days called good. More on Cuba under Castro below.

A previous article discussed America’s master plan for world dominance. Key is eliminating all sovereign independent governments.

By political, economic or military means. Installing puppet regimes. Convenient stooges. Subservient to Washington.

Few nations challenge US policies successfully. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz bested 10 US administrations. From Eisenhower through George Bush.

From January 1, 1959. When his guerrilla force ousted US-backed Fulgencio Batista. To his February 2008 retirement announcement as Cuba’s president.

Remaining Communist Party Central Committee First Secretary until April 2011. In the interim, transforming Cuba from a repressive brothel to a populist state. Defying US imperialism successfully.

America ruled Cuba as a virtual colony. From President McKinley’s so-called “liberat(ion)” from Spain. To Castro’s successful 1959 revolution. A transformational event.

Other than America’s Guantanamo footprint. Ceded through Platt Amendment chicanery. Granting Washington “complete jurisdiction and control.” At the same time recognizing Cuban sovereignty.

For nearly half a century, Castro’s achievements were remarkable. In spite of America’s embargo. In place since October 1960.

For all products except food and medicines. In February 1962, extended to include nearly all imports. Currently enforced by six statutes:

(1) The 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act

(2) 1961 Foreign Assistance Act

(3) 1963 Cuba Assets Control Regulations

(4) 1992 Cuban Democracy Act (encouraging pro-opposition groups)

(5) 1996 Helms-Burton Act (hardening earlier legislation)

(6) 2000 Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (authorizing sale of humanitarian products)

Despite longstanding embargo, blockade conditions weren’t imposed. Except in 1962. Under short-term missile crisis conditions. Preventing missiles from arriving.

Early-on, Castro made a clean break with predatory capitalism. Nationalizing US-controlled industries. Instituted land reform.

Shuttered Mafia-owned casinos and brothels. Ended longstanding systemic corruption. Built a socialist state. Ended Cuban control by monied interests.

Essential social services remain one of his most important achievements. Article 50 of Cuba’s Constitution mandates “the right to health protection and care” for everyone.

By “providing free medical and hospital care by means of the installations of the rural medical service network, polyclinics, hospitals, preventative and specialized treatment centers.

(F)ree dental care. Promoting the health publicity campaigns, health education, regular medical examinations, general vaccination and other measures to prevent the outbreak of disease.

All the population cooperates in these activities and plans through the social and mass organizations.”

Article 51 guarantees free universal education. At all levels. To children, youths and adults. Constitutional language states:

“Everybody has a right to education. This right is guaranteed by the extensive and free system of schools, part-time boarding schools, boarding schools and scholarships in all types and at all levels of education, by the free provision of school materials to every child and young person regardless of the economic situation of the family, and by the provision of courses suited to the student’s aptitude, the requirements of society and the needs of economic and social development.”

Castro virtually eliminated illiteracy. Students learn math, reading, the sciences, arts, humanities, social responsibility, civics and participatory citizenship.

Giving them skills to become more productive citizens. Able to contribute to national development.

Despite embargo conditions, Cubans get nutritious food at affordable prices. Cuba’s Law Number 49 mandated government provided social services.

Including special help for Cuba’s elderly, disabled, others unable to work and single mothers.

Cuba’s Public Health Law mandates protecting the health of all citizens. Including those rehabilitating from physical or mental disabilities.

Its healthcare is among the world’s best. Including an extensive system of family doctors. Sophisticated tertiary care facilities.

Emphasis on nutrition and preventive care. Cuba’s low infant mortality rate bests America’s. Matches its life expectancy.

Has double the number of physicians per 1,000. An overall lower mortality rate. No one lacks care because of affordability. Polar opposite America’s “pay or die system,” according to Ralph Nader.

Maintains the developing world’s most extensive infant immunization coverage. Emphasizes chemical-free, non-GMO, organically grown fresh produce.

Delivers top quality healthcare at minimum cost. Compared to America’s exorbitant system. Double the cost of other developed countries.

Leaving millions uninsured. Despite claims otherwise. Millions more underinsured. One major illness for many away from bankruptcy.

Impossible in Cuba. With top quality universal care for all. No one denied what’s needed.

Key are hundreds of community-based polyclinics. Serving tens of thousands of Cubans. Organizational hubs. For neighborhood-based family doctor/nurse offices.

Accredited research and teaching centers. For medical, nursing, and allied health sciences students.

Backbone of Cuba’s health system. Shaming America’s for millions of its most disadvantaged.

Most Cuban doctors practice general medicine. Mandated for most medical graduates. Later able to specialize.

Polyclinic care largely replicates what’s available in hospitals.

Services include x-rays, ultrasound, optometry, ophthalmology, endoscopy, thrombolysis, emergency services, traumatology, clinical lab services, family planning, emergency dentistry, pre and postnatal child care, immunization, diabetic and elderly care, as well as rehab.

Other specialties include dermatology, psychiatry, psychology, cardiology, family and internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, and gynecology, mouth disease, acupuncture, message therapy, electromagnetic therapy, mud therapy, reflex therapy, heat therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and more.

Quality care is stressed at all times. So is patient satisfaction. Cuba considers healthcare a human right.

America provides it on the ability to pay. Commodified for profit. Insurers, drug giants, and large hospital chains make policy.

Cuba has state responsibility for healthcare. Assuring availability for all. Regardless of financial well-being. How all systems should be run.

Its physicians complete a nine-year program. Including five years of basic education. One-year hospital internship.

Three rural practice years. Family medicine stressed. So is preventive care. Doctors wanting to specialize must complete three more years of training.

Abide by Cuba’s model health code in treating patients. Exclude private practice. Follow government policies.

Emphasize prevention and human welfare. Work for national wellness.

Profit is America’s only goal. Other objectives are secondary. Cuba spends a minute fraction per capita annually. Compared to what healthcare costs in America.

It sends thousands of doctors to dozens of countries needing them. Offers free medical education to thousands of students.

From scores of countries. In return for providing their people Cuban-style care. Largely in under-served communities.

Its model shames America’s. It works because it’s fair. A testimony to Fidel’s legacy.

Along with high-quality free education. Other vital social services. Ones Americans can’t even imagine.

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. 

Regime Change In Cuba

December 20th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Normalization of relations with Cuba is not the result of a diplomatic breakthrough or a change of heart on the part of Washington.  Normalization is a result of US corporations  seeking profit opportunities in Cuba, such as developing broadband Internet markets in Cuba.

Before the American left and the Cuban government find happiness in the normalization, they should consider that with normalization comes American money and a US Embassy.  The American money will take over the Cuban economy.  The embassy will be a home for CIA operatives to subvert the Cuban government.  The embassy will provide a base from which the US can establish NGOs whose gullible members can be called to street protest at the right time, as in Kiev, and the embassy will make it possible for Washington to groom a new set of political leaders.

In short, normalization of relations means regime change in Cuba. Soon Cuba will be another of Washington’s vassal states.

Conservatives and Republicans such as Peggy Noonan and Senator Marco Rubio, have made it clear that Castro is “a bad man who turned an almost-paradise into a floating prison” and that normalizing relations with Cuba will not “grant the Castro regime legitimacy.”

Noonan forgets about Guantanamo, Washington’s offshore torture prison in Cuba where hundreds of innocent people have been held and tortured for a large part of their lives by the exceptional Americans.  The Cuban Revolution intended to free Cubans from foreign domination and from exploitation by foreign capitalists.  Whatever the likelihood of success, a half century of Washington’s hostility has as much to do with Cuba’s economic problems as communist ideology.

The self-righteousness of Americans is extreme. Noonan is happy.  American money is now going to defeat Castro’s life work. And if the money doesn’t do it, the CIA will.  The agency has long been waiting to avenge the Bay of Pigs, and normalization of relations brings the opportunity.

The sudden dramatic collapse in the price of oil appears to be an act of geopolitical warfare against Russia. The result could be trillions of dollars in oil derivative losses; and the FDIC could be liable, following repeal of key portions of the Dodd-Frank Act last weekend.

Senator Elizabeth Warren charged Citigroup last week with “holding government funding hostage to ram through its government bailout provision.” At issue was a section in the omnibus budget bill repealing the Lincoln Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act, which protected depositor funds by requiring the largest banks to push out a portion of their derivatives business into non-FDIC-insured subsidiaries.

Warren and Representative Maxine Waters came close to killing the spending bill because of this provision. But the tide turned, according to Waters, when not only Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, but President Obama himself lobbied lawmakers to vote for the bill.

It was not only a notable about-face for the president but represented an apparent shift in position for the banks. Before Jamie Dimon intervened, it had been reported that the bailout provision was not a big deal for the banks and that they were not lobbying heavily for it, because it covered only a small portion of their derivatives. As explained in Time:

The best argument for not freaking out about the repeal of the Lincoln Amendment is that it wasn’t nearly as strong as its drafters intended it to be. . . . [W]hile the Lincoln Amendment was intended to lasso all risky instruments, by the time all was said and done, it really only applied to about 5% of the derivatives activity of banks like Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, according to a 2012 Fitch report.

Quibbling over a mere 5% of the derivatives business sounds like much ado about nothing, but Jamie Dimon and the president evidently didn’t think so. Why?

A Closer Look at the Lincoln Amendment

The preamble to the Dodd-Frank Act claims “to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts.” But it does this through “bail-in”: authorizing “systemically important” too-big-to-fail banks to expropriate the assets of their creditors, including depositors. Under the Lincoln Amendment, however, FDIC-insured banks were not allowed to put depositor funds at risk for their bets on derivatives, with certain broad exceptions.

In an article posted on December 10th titled “Banks Get To Use Taxpayer Money For Derivative Speculation,” Chriss W. Street explained the amendment like this:

Starting in 2013, federally insured banks would be prohibited from directly engaging in derivative transactions not specifically hedging (1) lending risks, (2) interest rate volatility, and (3) cushion against credit defaults. The “push-out rule” sought to force banks to move their speculative trading into non-federally insured subsidiaries.

The Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in 2013 allowed a two-year delay on the condition that banks take steps to move swaps to subsidiaries that don’t benefit from federal deposit insurance or borrowing directly from the Fed.

The rule would have impacted the $280 trillion in derivatives primarily held by the “too-big-to-fail (TBTF) banks that include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. Although 95% of TBTF derivative holdings are exempt as legitimate lending hedges, leveraging cheap money from the U.S. Federal Reserve into $10 trillion of derivative speculation is one of the TBTF banks’ most profitable business activities.

What was and was not included in the exemption was explained by Steve Shaefer in a June 2012 article in Forbes. According to Fitch Ratings, interest rate, currency, gold/silver, credit derivatives referencing investment-grade securities, and hedges were permissible activities within an insured depositary institution. Those not permitted included “equity, some credit and most commodity derivatives.” Schaefer wrote:

For Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the rule is almost a non-event, as they already conduct derivatives activity outside of their bank subsidiaries. (Which makes sense, since neither actually had commercial banking operations of any significant substance until converting into bank holding companies during the 2008 crisis).

The impact on Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and to a lesser extent, Wells Fargo, would be greater, but still rather middling, as the size and scope of the restricted activities is but a fraction of these firms’ overall derivative operations.

A fraction, but a critical fraction, as it included the banks’ bets on commodities. Five percent of $280 trillion is $14 trillion in derivatives exposure – close to the size of the existing federal debt. And as financial blogger Michael Snyder points out, $3.9 trillion of this speculation is on the price of commodities.

Among the banks’ most important commodities bets are oil derivatives. An oil derivative typically involves an oil producer who wants to lock in the price at a future date, and a counterparty – typically a bank – willing to pay that price in exchange for the opportunity to earn additional profits if the price goes above the contract rate. The downside is that the bank has to make up the loss if the price drops.

As Snyder observes, the recent drop in the price of oil by over $50 a barrel – a drop of nearly 50% since June – was completely unanticipated and outside the predictions covered by the banks’ computer models. The drop could cost the big banks trillions of dollars in losses. And with the repeal of the Lincoln Amendment, taxpayers could be picking up the bill.

When Markets Cannot Be Manipulated

Interest rate swaps compose 82% of the derivatives market. Interest rates are predictable and can be controlled, since the Federal Reserve sets the prime rate. The Fed’s mandate includes maintaining the stability of the banking system, which means protecting the interests of the largest banks. The Fed obliged after the 2008 credit crisis by dropping the prime rate nearly to zero, a major windfall for the derivatives banks – and a major loss for their counterparties, including state and local governments.

Manipulating markets anywhere is illegal – unless you are a central bank or a federal government, in which case you can apparently do it with impunity.

In this case, the shocking $50 drop in the price of oil was not due merely to the forces of supply and demand, which are predictable and can be hedged against. According to an article by Larry Elliott in the UK Guardian titled “Stakes Are High as US Plays the Oil Card Against Iran and Russia,” the unanticipated drop was an act of geopolitical warfare administered by the Saudis. History, he says, is repeating itself:

The fourfold increase in oil prices triggered by the embargo on exports organised by Saudi Arabia in response to the Yom Kippur war in 1973 showed how crude could be used as a diplomatic and economic weapon.

Now, says Elliott, the oil card is being played to force prices lower:

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.

. . . [A]ccording to Middle East specialists, the Saudis want to put pressure on Iran and to force Moscow to weaken its support for the Assad regime in Syria.

War on the Ruble

If the plan was to break the ruble, it worked. The ruble has dropped by more than 60%against the dollar since January.

On December 16th, the Russian central bank counterattacked by raising interest rates to 17% in order to stem “capital flight” – the dumping of rubles on the currency markets. Deposits are less likely to be withdrawn and exchanged for dollars if they are earning a high rate of return.

The move was also a short squeeze on the short sellers attempting to crash the ruble. Short sellers sell currency they don’t have, forcing down the price; then cover by buying at the lower price, pocketing the difference. But the short squeeze worked only briefly, as trading in the ruble was quickly suspended, allowing short sellers to cover their bets. Who has the power to shut down a currency exchange? One suspects that more than mere speculation was at work.

Protecting Our Money from Wall Street Gambling

The short sellers were saved, but the derivatives banks will still get killed if oil prices don’t go back up soon. At least they would have been killed before the bailout ban was lifted. Now, it seems, that burden could fall on depositors and taxpayers. Did the Obama administration make a deal with the big derivatives banks to save them from Kerry’s clandestine economic warfare at taxpayer expense?

Whatever happened behind closed doors, we the people could again be stuck with the tab. We will continue to be at the mercy of the biggest banks until depository banking is separated from speculative investment banking. Reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act is supported not only by Elizabeth Warren and others on the left but by prominent voices such as David Stockman’s on the right.

Another alternative for protecting our funds from Wall Street gambling can be done at the local level. Our state and local governments can establish publicly-owned banks; and our monies, public and private, can be moved into them.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 200+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

Israel, Netanyahu and Misuse of Holocaust

December 20th, 2014 by Binoy Kampmark

The iron hand crush’d the tyrant’s head,
And became a tyrant in his stead.
— William Blake, The Grey Monk

The use of historical suffering is standard fare for the descendants. The descendants of history’s victims tend to be the modern day avengers. History’s record is not so much to be righted as washed, cleansed and made anew.

When the political reserves are empty, forms of credit have to be found. In the historical context, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has often had an enormous reserve to draw upon: the terrifying, seemingly bottomless legacy of the Holocaust, the negative gearing of history’s financiers he can resort to when he finds himself in a tight spot.

The latest example of this came on Wednesday, when his office quoted the prime minister’s reaction to the removal of Hamas from the terrorist list by the General Court of the European Union.

“In Luxembourg, the European Court removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organisations, Hamas that has committed countless war crimes and countless terror acts” (Ynet News, Dec 17). From that, he could draw a rather long bow in reasoning that, “It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil six million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing.”

The Court itself would have been surprised by Netanyahu. After all, its judgment had nothing to do with reviewing the merits of Hamas being classified as a terrorist group or otherwise. “The Court stresses that those annulments, on fundamental procedural grounds, do not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group.” Furthermore, asset freezes will still be kept in place for three months pending further EU actions.

The use of the Holocaust has been extensively covered in writings that remind one how easy commemoration can slide into endless pieties and historical manipulation. The creation of “memorial days”, for instance, tends to be rooted in political calculation and chance – Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain, for instance, proved to be one striking example (The Independent, Jan 25, 2005). What mattered was selecting the most supreme atrocity for commemorative reflection.

It seems somewhat distasteful to keep badgering and hectoring your allies with such necrophilic reminders, but Netanyahu knows no other way. He knows that history is getting away from him, that the Israeli machinery keen on promoting the facts of a tolerant Israeli state is coming apart at the seams. Adding to that the canter at which nations are recognising a Palestinian state, and he is clearly proving to be at wits end. His political opponents know it.

When he has the chance to use the Holocaust, he will. He will use the all too neat wrapping of appeasement to suggest that European states and institutions have, within them, a soft, wobbly centre susceptible to placating. He cites, in this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony address at Yad Vashem, a resolution by the Oxford University student organisation proclaiming that, under no circumstances would they “fight for their King and country.”

Rather than extolling the virtues of a resolution encouraging a lack of bloodiness and fitful war mongering, Netanyahu sees it as the ultimate, delusionary betrayal. “This example illustrates the West’s feeble attitude vis-à-vis the rise of Nazism.”

No where does the Israeli prime minister see fit to explain the haunting memories of millions of European dead from the 1914-1918 war, the extinct generation, the fears of going on another round of self-annihilation and industrial immolation. Appeasement was the logical consequence of preventing war, a Falstaffian cowardice born of a desire to avoid the forfeiture of life. After all, “To die is to be a counterfeit”. That it was waged by the Axis powers with genocidal purpose was a brutal reality that came later. The rest is tarot reading gibberish.

A refusal to understand the effects of World War I on Europe in the 1930s is almost as significant as a refusal by the Israeli government to understand the implications of various historical decisions to dispossess, control and monitor the Palestinian population. Historical blindness, however, is a tonic, and a useful one when in a bind. It is a love note one severs, rewords and readjusts to explain a past relationship. “I thought I knew you…”

Netanyahu follows the most disturbing of lines when it comes to using Holocaust reminders. He speaks in the manner of a lecturer who thinks his history students have flunked. “In retrospect,” claimed Netanyahu at Yad Vashem for his Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony address this year, “there is a direct line connecting the racial laws and the gas chambers” (The Times of Israel, April 27). That Israeli politics continues to flirt, and indeed discuss laws on racial identity openly, is the cruellest of ironies. But irony and blackmail often clink glasses and openly celebrate in festive spirit.

Not only has Israel received over the decades assistance from numerous European countries, it has capitalised on donations, funding and armaments from a range of allies keen to see its position shored up in the Middle East. The political landscape is changing, but Netanyahu insists on using historical blackmail to generate immediate political gains. He has his enemies and his dislikes, but he is happily sordid in making use of the past to manipulate the present. Such is the manner of those who crush a foe in order to become one.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. He was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

New York, New York: It’s been nearly 40 years since what the American media called “The Fall of Saigon” and the Vietnamese referred to as the Liberation. I saw it then as the Fall of Washington. 

The ghosts of Vietnam are back, thanks to two filmmakers with very different takes. The first is Rory Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy’s youngest daughter. Her one-sided account has already been nominated for an Oscar. The second is Tiana, an American of South Vietnamese origin, who made the film, From Hollywood To Hanoi, years ago to promote reconciliation between our two countries.

Tiana is finishing a movie called The General and Me, on her unlikely conversations (for someone from a virulently anti-communist family) with North Vietnam’s legendary and late General Vo Nguyen Giap, a.k.a the “Red Napoleon,“ a.k.a the man whose military doctrines defeated the French Army and later the Pentagon’s brutal Vietnamization strategy.

Giap created the Vietnamese resistance Army at Ho Chi Minh’s request in l944, and without training, became a military genius. Tiana has two other self-promoted US “geniuses” in her movie too: pathetic walk-ons by former US General William Westmoreland, and an arrogant ex-Defense Secretary, Robert MacNamara, who could not conceal his contempt for her.

Rory’s highly-hyped and well-funded movie depicts footage we have seen before of the hurried evacuation of US soldiers and some of their Vietnamese conscripts in a long and bloody war that was lost almost from its earliest days.

Rather than look at the reasons for that loss, Rory has, with support from HBO and PBS’s American Experience series, tried to present a heroic picture of Americans in their last days in Saigon, coping with a Mad Ambassador and in some cases rebelling against US policy.

(I have loved some of Rory’s work before, but this had ideological agenda written all over it.)

These two films, all these years later, mirror the cultural and political divides of the times with one film, in effect, rationalizing the war, and portraying the American military as compassionate, and the other, for one of the first times, offering views from the other side that Americans never heard.

Even if her Uncle JFK did escalate the war, despite his back and forth doubts, a member of the Kennedy Family is still treated as a cultural icon in a culture that can’t remember details of what happened yesterday, much less forty year ago. Rory’s work has been acclaimed; Tiana’s has not yet been seen. She labels the forgetting deliberate, what she calls, “Nam-Nesia.”

Gerald Perry writes in Arts Fuse: “The mushy reviews of Last Days in Vietnam (a 94% Rotten Tomatoes approval rating) are extraordinarily similar. They praise filmmaker Rory Kennedy for documenting a forgotten moment of American history, the chaotic days in 1975 when the US raced to leave Saigon and South Vietnam steps ahead of the advancing North Vietnamese Army. And the critics are pumped up with pride at the stories Kennedy has uncovered of brave and noble American soldiers and a few anti-establishment American diplomats who helped evacuate many South Vietnamese–by boat, plane, and helicopter–who presumably would be enslaved or murdered by the Communist North Vietnamese.

What hardly anyone observed is that Kennedy, daughter of peacenik Robert Kennedy, is offering a flag-waving whitewash of the war in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese are characterized, with no exceptions, as Isis-like warriors murdering all their opposition on the way from Hanoi to Saigon. And, after entering Saigon, annihilating those who oppose them, or sending their enemies to re-education camps. The South Vietnamese? This amazed me: there is not any mention of the much-documented corruption of the various puppet governments, and of the South Vietnamese army as a coercive instrument of torture and killings. Each South Vietnamese ex-soldier who is interviewed is allowed to tell his shiny story, including a high-ranking officer. There’s no blood attached to any of them.”

This did not surprise me. In 1976, the anniversary of the American Revolution, I published a small book featuring the views of Vietnam’s top military strategists including General Vo Nguyen Giap called “How We Won The War.” It was based on articles I wrote in the aftermath of the defeat of the US –backed Saigon military in 1975. Predictably, it got no pickup. There were many post-mortems about what we did wrong but, few if any, about what they did right.

Surely, that story is historically more significant than how we cut tail and ran.

I wrote then:

“The American press was never much help in our efforts to find out more about those remarkable Vietnamese people who have now managed to out-organize, out fight, and defeat a succession of U.S. backed regimes. When the US media did recognize the other side’s existence, they did so with disdain, distortion and denigration…the U.S. never came to terms the fact it was defending a government which had no support and attempting to crush one that did.”

A group of LA-based film critics later wrote to PBS:

“Rory Kennedy’s egregiously unbalanced, out-of-context, dubiously propagandistic Last Days in Vietnam is currently in theatrical release, a production of the PBS series, An American Experience. We are appalled by the extraordinarily one-sided nature of Kennedy’s rewrite of history that only shows the U.S. government’s and the Republic of Vietnam’s side of the story, and never offers the points of view of the millions of Americans who opposed the war and of those who fought on the side of the National Liberation Front and North Vietnam.”

So much for “balance!”

The protest was all for naught. Public Television retreated into its archive of knee-jerk form letters and responded to criticisms of one program with a defense that cited all the programs they ran, most decades old, while announcing that a new multi-million dollar series on Vietnam by their always well-funded doc superstar, Ken Burns, is in the works. Typical!

They avoided details like these:

  • Rory focused on the story of efforts to save allied officers and their families in a Saigon (“Arvin”) Army known for its corruption and brutality.
  • It citied atrocities allegedly committed by the Communists like the “Hue Massacre,” an event thoroughly investigated and exposed as false by US Vietnam Scholar Gareth Porter.
  • It cited violations of the Paris Peace agreement by the North without mentioning the many more egregious and concealed violations by the US-backed South Vietnamese forces.
  • It showed the madness and mania of US Ambassador Graham Martin as if he was an exception to a history of earlier US officials who escalated the war with massive casualties. It offered no historical context or background
  • It implied that all the people of Saigon would be butchered or imprisoned; that was not the case.
  • It referenced escaping ships racing to ConSon Island without mentioning that that Island off the coast of Saigon hosted, like Guantanamo does today, brutal prison camps filled with “tiger cages” where Vietnamese opponents of the military regime were kept, killed and tortured.

Perry asks: “Where in this documentary are the anti-war voices of those who were American soldiers in Vietnam and became disillusioned by the terrible things we did there? Who in this film speaks of our random bombing of North Vietnam? Of the massacre at My Lai? And for the CIA, where is mention of the heinous tortures of South Vietnamese under CIA director William Colby? As for Kissinger, it’s madly frustrating to see his self-serving rhetoric go completely unchallenged. Where are you, Errol Morris, when needed? Instead, the world’s number one war criminal at large (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Chile, etc.) is a welcome and honored guest to this documentary commissioned by PBS’s American Experience.”

And, on and on!

It’s been 40 years. What have we learned? The Obama Administration, aided by our Secretary of State, a Vietnamese speaker no less, named John Kerry, once the leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, had turned into an apologist for the American role in the war, and an arms salesman to Vietnam which fears the Chinese today more than the Americans.

Whose voice should we listen to? Rory Kennedy with her slick and costly archive-footage based mockumentary of history, or Tiana who is struggling to bring Vietnamese voices and a deliberately buried history to life?

Why are these Vietnam films always—“AAU—all About Us?”

Danny Schechter reported in North and South Vietnam in 1974, and returned in 1997. He has written widely on the issues of the war. He edits Mediachannel.org and blogs at Newsdissector.net. Comments to [email protected]

Más de medio siglo tras la ruptura de las relaciones diplomáticas entre Cuba y Estados Unidos el 3 de enero de 1961, los dos gobiernos anunciaron el inicio de un proceso de normalización de los contactos bilaterales. La Habana y Washington respondieron de modo favorable a una petición del papa Francisco que los había exhortado a dejar de lado los diferendos de otro tiempo y a restablecer los lazos entre los pueblos estadounidense y cubano. El Vaticano y Canadá facilitaron los contactos entre las dos partes ofreciendo a las delegaciones la discreción necesaria a lo largo de un proceso de diálogo que duró cerca de 18 meses.

Intercambio de presos

Tras varios meses de negociaciones secretas, Cuba y Estados Unidos lograron un acuerdo histórico de un intercambio de presos que abre el camino a la plena normalización de las relaciones entre ambas naciones. La Habana decidió liberar a Alan Gross, agente estadounidense encarcelado desde diciembre de 2009 y condenado a 15 años de prisión por haber proporcionado una ayuda material a diferentes sectores de la oposición cubana en el marco de un programa del Departamento de Estado destinado a conseguir un “cambio de régimen” en la isla. Del mismo modo, Cuba procedió a la liberación de otro agente estadounidense llamado Rolando Sarraff Trujillo que estaba encarcelado desde hace cerca de 20 años, así como una cincuentena de detenidos[1].

Por su parte, Washington liberó a tres agentes cubanos, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino y Gerardo Hernández, que cumplían desde 1998 penas de hasta cadena perpetua por infiltrarse en los grupúsculos del exilio cubano implicados en los atentados terroristas contra Cuba. Los detalles de este intercambio finalizaron tras una comunicación telefónica histórica de 45 minutos –el primer contacto oficial directo entre los presidentes cubano y estadounidense desde 1959– el 16 de diciembre de 2014. Mediante esos respectivos gestos, Raúl Castro y Barack Obama levantaron el principal obstáculo al establecimiento de relaciones cordiales entre ambos países.[2]

El fin de una política obsoleta y contraproducente

El 17 de diciembre de 2014, en una alocución televisiva, Obama informó a la opinión pública estadounidense y mundial de su decisión de restablecer las relaciones diplomáticas con La Habana: “Hoy, Estados Unidos cambia su relación con el pueblo de Cuba y se trata del cambio más significativo de nuestra política en más de 50 años”.[3]

El Presidente estadounidense hizo una constatación lúcida respecto a la política exterior de Washington. Al persistir en aplicar medidas –que se remontan a la Guerra Fría– anacrónicas y crueles, pues afectan a los sectores más frágiles de la población cubana, y contraproducentes -ya que el objetivo de derrocar al Gobierno cubano no se ha logrado –, Washington ha suscitado la condena unánime de la comunidad internacional. “Vamos a poner fin a un enfoque obsoleto que ha fracasado durante décadas en promover nuestros intereses. Vamos a empezar a normalizar las relaciones entre nuestros dos países”, expresó Barack Obama.

Fotos: Agéncia Efe

La hostilidad hacia Cuba ha aislado completamente a Estados Unidos en la escena internacional. Durante la reunión anual de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas en octubre de 2014, por vigesimotercero año consecutivo, 188 países votaron contra las sanciones impuestas a la población cubana. Del mismo modo, Estados Unidos es el único país del continente americano que no tiene relaciones diplomáticas y comerciales normales con Cuba. América Latina, muy sensible a la cuestión cubana, también expresó su voluntad de integrar a la isla en la próxima Cumbre de las Américas en abril de 2015 en Panamá, amenazando el encuentro con un boicot en caso de nueva exclusión de La Habana.

Obama recordó esta realidad: “Ninguna nación nos ha seguido en la imposición de esas sanciones [y] ni el pueblo estadounidense ni el pueblo cubano sacan provecho de una política rígida que está arraigada en acontecimientos que ocurrieron cuando la mayoría de nosotros no habíamos nacido todavía. […] He decidido entonces ubicar los intereses de nuestros dos pueblos en el centro de nuestra política. […] Después de todo, esos últimos cincuenta años han demostrado que el aislamiento  no ha funcionado. Es tiempo de adoptar un nuevo enfoque”.

Según la Casa Blanca, “la política estadounidense hacia Cuba ha aislado a Estados Unidos de sus socios regionales e internacionales, ha limitado [la] capacidad de influencia en el continente americano y ha impedido el uso de toda una serie de instrumentos disponibles para Estados Unidos con el fin de promover un cambio positivo en Cuba”.[4] John Kerry, secretario de Estado, compartió este punto de vista recordando que “no sólo esta política ha fracasado […], sino que también ha aislado a Estados Unidos en vez de aislar a Cuba”.[5]

Restablecimiento del diálogo y flexibilización de las sanciones económicas

Washington decidió entonces restablecer las relaciones diplomáticas que rompió de forma unilateral en 1961. Roberta Jacobson, subsecretaria de Estado para los Asuntos Hemisféricos, viajará a Cuba en enero de 2015 para formalizar la apertura de una embajada en la capital cubana. Ambas naciones han expresado su voluntad de colaborar en temas como la salud, inmigración, lucha contra el terrorismo y el narcotráfico, así como la elaboración de una respuesta común frente a las catástrofes naturales.[6]“Estoy impaciente por ser el primer Secretario de Estado desde 60 años en realizar una visita a Cuba”, enfatizó John Kerry en un comunicado.[7]

Washington también decidió revisar su lista de los países que considera patrocinadores del terrorismo internacional, de la cual Cuba forma parte desde 1982. Obama responde así a un reclamo de la comunidad internacional y de varios congresistas estadounidenses que califican esta inclusión de arbitraria, mientras que el mundo entero alaba la mediación de La Habana en el proceso de paz de Colombia.

La Casa Blanca también decidió flexibilizar las restricciones a los viajes de los ciudadanos estadounidenses. Si las estancias turísticas ordinarias todavía se mantienen prohibidas, los viajes culturales, religiosos, académicos, científicos, deportivos, sanitarios, humanitarios y profesionales serán favorecidos y los visitantes estadounidenses podrán en adelante usar sus tarjetas de crédito en Cuba.

Por otra parte, las trasferencias de dinero por parte de los ciudadanos estadounidenses hacia Cuba pasarán de 500 dólares por trimestre a 2.000 dólares. Del mismo modo, los ciudadanos estadounidenses podrán importar bienes de Cuba por un importe de 400 dólares. A nivel comercial, la gama de productos exportables –limitados hasta hoy a las materias primas alimenticias – se ampliará a otros sectores como el material de construcción, los equipamientos agrícolas y las telecomunicaciones. Washington accede así a una petición del mundo de los negocios estadounidense que desea invertir un mercado natural que se encuentra apenas a 150 kilómetros.

Se facilitarán las transacciones financieras en dólares y las instituciones estadounidenses podrán establecer relaciones con Cuba. Las entidades estadounidenses instaladas en el exterior podrán establecer lazos comerciales con la isla y realizar transacciones en dólares. Del mismo modo, se anulará el artículo de la ley Helms-Burton de 1996 que sanciona con una prohibición la entrada en las aguas territoriales estadounidenses de seis meses a todo barco extranjero que viaje a Cuba, si el comercio realizado con la isla es de orden humanitario.

El Presidente Obama también lanzó un llamado a los legisladores estadounidenses para que adopten las medidas necesarias para el levantamiento de las sanciones económicas. En efecto, desde 1996, sólo el Congreso está habilitado para poner un término definitivo al estado de sitio impuesto a Cuba.

Reacción de La Habana y de la comunidad internacional

El Presidente cubano Raúl Castro se alegró del restablecimiento de las relaciones bilaterales con Estados Unidos, recordando que Cuba siempre había afirmado su voluntad de resolver pacíficamente los diferendos. “Desde mi elección como Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros, he reiterado en múltiples ocasiones, nuestra disposición a sostener con el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos un diálogo respetuoso, basado en la igualdad soberana, para tratar los más diversos temas de forma recíproca sin menoscabo a la independencia nacional y la autodeterminación de nuestro pueblo”, declaró. Aprovechó la ocasión para saludar la decisión del Presidente Obama que “merece el respeto y reconocimiento”. No obstante, recordó que debían levantarse las sanciones económicas, que provocan “enormes daños humanos”. “Debemos aprender el arte de convivir, de forma civilizada, con nuestras diferencias”, concluyó.[8]

La comunidad internacional saludó este acercamiento histórico entre Cuba y Estados Unidos que pone término a más de medio siglo de relaciones conflictivas. El Vaticano expresó su gran satisfacción”. Ban Ki-Moon, secretario general de Naciones Unidas, felicitó a los dos mandatarios y declaró su disposición “a ayudar a esos dos países a desarrollar sus relaciones como buenos vecinos”.[9]

América Latina saludó de modo unánime este momento histórico. El Mercosur, mediante la presidenta de Brasil Dilma Roussef, felicitó a Washington y La Habana por esta noticia “fantástica”.[10] José Mujica, Presidente de Uruguay, expresó su emoción: “Es algo que a la escala latinoamericana es parecido pero del otro lado al muro de Berlín: cayó el bloqueo. Los bloqueos comerciales para lo único que han servido en la historia de la humanidad es para hacer pasar mal a los pueblos, pero nunca resolvieron nada”.[11] Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, presidenta de Argentina, rindió homenaje al “pueblo cubano y a su Gobierno por iniciar un proceso de normalización de las relaciones con Estados Unidos con absoluta dignidad y en pie de igualdad”. En cuanto a Nicolás Maduro, el presidente venezolano, enfatizó la “valentía” de Barack Obama.[12]

La Organización de Estados Americanos también expresó su satisfacción a Washington y La Habana por “por haber dado estos históricos pasos, tan necesarios como valientes, para restablecer unas relaciones diplomáticas rotas en 1961”. José Miguel Insulza, su secretario general, declaró que “las medidas anunciadas hoy abren una vía de normalización que ya no tiene vuelta atrás”. Exhortó al Congreso estadounidense a que adoptara las medidas legislativas necesarias para levantar definitivamente las sanciones económicas.[13]

Al responder al llamado de la comunidad internacional y a la opinión pública de su propio país, Barack Obama tomó la decisión más emblemática de sus dos mandatos presidenciales y puso fin a una anomalía de otro tiempo restableciendo las relaciones con Cuba. La historia recordará al presidente Obama, no sólo por ser el primer hombre negro que accedió al cargo supremo, sino sobre todo como el que aceptó el ramo de olivo ofrecido por Cuba y que abrió el camino a la instauración de relaciones bilaterales constructivas. Es tiempo ahora para Estados Unidos de poner un término definitivo a un estado de sitio económico impuesto desde 1960, permitir que los turistas estadounidenses descubran la isla y aceptar la realidad de una Cuba diferente –con sus virtudes y defectos– pero independiente y libre para elegir su propio modelo de sociedad.

*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.

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

Contacto: [email protected] ; [email protected]

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



[1] El Nuevo Herald, “Espía liberado por Cuba a cambio de tres agentes condenados trabajó para la CIA”, 18 décembre 2014.

[2]The White House, «Barack Obama’s Speech: Charting a New Course of Era», 17 de diciembre de 2014. http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/cuba (sitio consultado el 17 de diciembre de 2014)

[3]The White House, «Barack Obama’s Speech: Charting a New Course of Era», 17 de diciembre de 2014. http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/cuba (sitio consultado el 17 de diciembre de 2014)

[4]Ibid.

[5] John Kerry, “Statement by Secretary Kerry: Announcement of Cuba Policy Changes”, U.S. Department of State, 17 de diciembre de 2014. http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2014/12/20141217312131.html#axzz3MC4Z8Upx (sitio consultado el 17 de diciembre de 2014)

[6]The White House, «Fact Sheet: Charting a New Course on Cuba”, 17 de diciembre de 2014. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/17/fact-sheet-charting-new-course-cuba (sitio consultado el 17 de diciembre de 2014)

[7] John Kerry, “Statement by Secretary Kerry: Announcement of Cuba Policy Changes”, op. cit.

[8] Raúl Castro, « Alocución del Presidente cubano : Los Cinco ya están en Cuba », Cubadebate, 17 de diciembre de 2014

[9]Le Monde, « Une ‘rectification historique’ qui ne contente pas tout le monde », 17 de diciembre de 2014.

[10]Opera Mundi, « Dilma dizachar ‘fantástica’ reaproximaçao de Cuba e EUA e lembra de porto de Mariel”, Opera Mundi, 17 de diciembre de 2014.

[11]Cubadebate,

[12]Telam, 17 de diciembre de2014.

[13] Organización de Estados Americanos, « Secretario General de la OEA celebra ‘anuncio histórico’ de reanudación de relaciones diplomáticas entre Estados Unidos y Cuba”, 17 de diciembre de 2014. http://www.oas.org/es/centro_noticias/comunicado_prensa.asp?sCodigo=C-557/14 (sitio consultado el 17 de diciembre de 2014).

Is There a Peace Partner in Israel?

December 20th, 2014 by Fadi Elhusseini

The path Abbas opted to take was not an easy one, especially given that it came in the aftermath of the Second Intifada with its many casualties and damage to Palestinian infrastructure, society and lives. [File photo of a clash between Palestinian protestors and security forces in the occupied West Bank]

The peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis is at a complete standstill and each party blames the other for the failure to make any progress. Israeli officials repeat continuously that there is no Palestinian peace partner and accuse Abbas and his Palestinian Authority of flexing their diplomatic muscles in an attempt to isolate Israel internationally and take unilateral steps to achieve statehood. However, it would be outlandish to imagine that the Palestinians could succeed in such an approach (if it is true) without a minimum international understanding of the Palestinian narrative. In order to fully comprehend this state of affairs, it is crucial to make an assessment of the positions and announcements of both sides.

Since he took office as PA president in 2005, Mahmoud Abbas has renounced violence and announced repeatedly his vision: a peaceful resolution of the conflict that would eventually lead to an independent Palestinian state. His vision complies perfectly with the widely-accepted and supported two-state solution based on relevant international and UN resolutions.

The path Abbas opted to take was not an easy one, especially given that it came in the aftermath of the Second Intifada with its many casualties and damage to Palestinian infrastructure, society and lives. Notwithstanding the fact that domestic Palestinian conditions were not ready for such an approach, Abbas stated it clearly and irked many of his companions and political rivals.

“We don’t want to use force,” the PA president insisted. “We don’t want to use weapons. We want to use diplomacy. We want to use politics. We want to use negotiations. We want to use peaceful resistance. That’s it.”1 Furthermore, Abbas dared to criticise home-made rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. His criticism was neither to please Israel nor to satisfy the Americans, but rather it came out of his conscience and deep belief in a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

As part of his commitment to peace, and despite the criticism, Abbas disarmed Palestinian groups in the West Bank and united the Palestinian Security Forces (a mainly policing service and not a regular army) under his direct command. Ever since, not one single violation was recorded as being committed by those forces. Indeed, while many Jewish settlers carried out attacks on Palestinian citizens and their property, the Palestinian forces handed those caught to the Israeli authorities unharmed; this led to criticism of Abbas and his forces by his political rivals.

Arafat, Abbas and the Palestinian leadership have all at one time or another announced their acceptance of the two-state solution and the recognition of the State of Israel. Abbas’s last announcement came on 24 November calling on the international community to compel Israel to comply with its legal obligations regarding international resolutions, saying that he is ready to set up a Palestinian state on only 22 per cent of historic Palestine. That said, half of the Palestinian population who live within historic Palestinian actually live in what is now Israel occupying 78 per cent of the land; the other half would be in the State of Palestine on 22 per cent of the territory.

Peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis have been ongoing since 1991, during which period Israeli settlement activities have quadrupled within the occupied Palestinian territories. This being the case, the Palestinians have asked for a time frame for negotiations, which can’t last forever while Israel runs about changing facts on the ground. It is as a result of Israel’s refusal to accept the time frame and halt its settlement activities that weary Palestinians are seeking justice through international forums and agencies, primarily the UN.

Although Israel is supposed to have accepted the two-state solution, and signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, none of the subsequent Israeli governments has, thus far, recognised the State of Palestine. Israel recognised the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian people but still refuses to recognise the state.

In fact, many Israeli officials have openly expressed their rejection of a Palestinian state. Most of the parties taking part in the Israeli General Election campaign have done likewise. The incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has never missed an opportunity to voice what he believes is Israel’s inherent right to the whole of the Biblical land of Israel, undermining any prospects of the establishment of a Palestinian state, at least in the minds of his target audience amongst the settlers.

Activists and politicians can express their opinions openly, but once they are part of a government that is involved in peace talks, it is fair to say that such opinions will reflect government policies. Just a few days ago, Netanyahu’s economic minister, Naftali Bennett, was asked by CNN if he “does not want a Palestinian State ever”. His answer was very clear: “That’s correct; the notion of injecting a state, dividing Jerusalem, dividing up the country and splitting and slicing it, is not sustainable.”2

Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor spent 25 November attacking the European parliaments who were voting on the recognition of Palestine. He rejected the very idea of handing the Palestinians their independence. “Imagine the type of state [Palestinian] society would produce,” he said. “Does the Middle East really need another terror-ocracy? Some members of the international community are aiding and abetting its creation.”3

There are plenty of similar examples, the starkest of which is perhaps that of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He exposed the real essence of the peace process when he said that it is based on the false assumption that the conflict is territorial and not ideological, and that the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders will end it.4 To add insult to injury, Lieberman is not shy about expressing his intentions to “transfer” Arab-Israeli citizens, Christians and Muslims, out of the country in order to make it a purely Jewish state.5

At the time when Abbas has been standing firm in the face of strong domestic criticism, Israel’s leadership has failed to give peace a glimmer of hope. The Israeli government continues to give the go-ahead to plans for new settlement units and expand existing ones despite US and international criticism. When Israel halted settlement activities for nine months, it added a precondition to any peace settlement: the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Intriguingly, the inclusion of this condition as a prerequisite to peace was first brought up in 2010 in Washington, but it puzzles many observers. In his article “Did Netanyahu invent the demand that Israel be recognised as a Jewish State?” Yair Rosenberg finds that Netanyahu was insisting on such recognition in the full knowledge that no Palestinian leader will accept it, thus dooming negotiations to failure.6

On the whole, Netanyahu’s government has lost credibility. The international community has started to realise this and the overdue “moral” recognition of the “occupied” State of Palestine by European parliaments represents a clear shift away from America’s position. With the latter’s “hands-off” approach, Netanyahu has arguably been able to crack the whip over the US administration, which limited its role in the peace process to calls, ideas and proposals; it has failed to put pressure on Israel to freeze its internationally-criticised, illegal settlement activities, and maintains its “pro-Israel” bias.

It is neither illogical nor bizarre to see any country which accepts the two-state solution also recognising the nascent State of Palestine, because this equation clearly suggests that two states have to exist, even if one is under occupation. On this basis alone, recognition by the US or Israel would provide solid evidence of a sincere commitment to the peace process.

In short, it is clear that there is no partner for peace within Israel. The actions of the current Israeli government serve only to spread doubt about the whole process. In fact, serious political will is lacking in Israel and its government has failed the basic tests to determine any commitment towards peace and the end of the occupation of the land of Palestine. A corollary of the Netanyahu government’s attitude posits that it would be hard to staunch the flow of international interaction and recognition. This may develop further so that governments which recognise the State of Palestine also boycott Israel, just as many boycotted Apartheid South Africa.

1  http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/01/palestinians-israel-abbas-refugees-idUSL5E8M1GO120121101

2 http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2014/12/14/israeli-econ-minister-i-will-not-give-up-land-to-arabs-anymore/

3 http://972mag.com/israels-ambassador-to-the-un-puts-another-nail-in-the-two-state-coffin/99201/

4  http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3338320,00.html

5 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/25/transfer-arab-israeli-citizens-palestinian-state

6 http://tabletmag.com/scroll/160131/did-netanyahu-invent-the-demand-that-israel-be-recognized-as-a-jewish-state

US to Veto Palestinian Statehood Bid

December 20th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Even a tepid one. Falling far short of what Palestinians deserve. it’s official. What Israel wants it gets. 

Asked about PLO Security Council draft text language, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said “(i)t is not something we would support.”

“We wouldn’t support any action that would prejudge the outcome of the negotiations and that would set a specific deadline for the withdrawal of forces.”

An imminent vote is unlikely, she added. Palestinians want one before Christmas.

Netanyahu’s bluster wore thin long ago. Categorically rejecting Palestinian statehood. Now or ever.

Intends permanent occupation. Yesterday accused Abbas of “threaten(ing) us with unilateral steps.”

“He does not understand that they will result in a Hamas takeover in Judea and Samaria, just as occurred in Gaza,” said Netanyahu.

“We won’t let that happen. We will never agree to unilateral diktats.” Except numerous Israeli ones. With full US support.

Israel will “always safeguard our security. This is our lesson both from the days of the Maccabees and in our day,” said Netanyahu.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called Palestine’s initiative a “gimmick.” Strategic Affairs minister Yuval Steinity called it “an act of war.”

Threatened to dismantle PA puppet governance in response. Joint PLO/Jordanian text language calls for resuming peace talks,

With a 12-month deadline. Ending Israel’s occupation by December 2017.

Palestinian statehood within June 1967 borders. With “mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps.”

Accepting a “third party presence” in the West Bank. Following “full an phased withdrawal” of Israeli forces.

“(O)ver an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe.” Ending no later than December 2017.

“We will continue with consultations in the UN to gather support for this project,” said Abbas.

The PLO/Jordanian draft Security Council text (dated December 17, 2014) is as follows:

“Reaffirming its previous resolutions, in particular resolutions 242 (1967); 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), 1544 (2004), 1850 (2008), 1860 (2009) and the Madrid Principles,

Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,

Reaffirming the right of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947,

Reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and recalling its resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979) and 465 (1980), determining, inter alia, that the policies and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,

Affirming the imperative of resolving the problem of the Palestine refugees on the basis of international law and relevant resolutions, including resolution 194 (III), as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative,

Underlining that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, and calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip, including the sustained and regular opening of its border crossings for normal flow of persons and goods, in accordance with international humanitarian law,

Welcoming the important progress in Palestinian state-building efforts recognised by the World Bank and the IMF in 2012 and reiterating its call to all States and international organizations to contribute to the Palestinian institution building programme in preparation for independence,

Reaffirming that a just, lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement and terror, and the two-State solution, building on previous agreements and obligations and stressing that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues as previously defined by the parties, and fulfills the legitimate aspirations of both parties,

Condemning all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism, and reminding all States of their obligations under resolution 1373 (2001),

Recalling the obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and ensure their protection in situations of armed conflict,

Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

Noting with appreciation the efforts of the United States in 2013/14 to facilitate and advance negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement,

Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a long-term solution to the conflict,

1. Affirms the urgent need to attain, no later than 12 months after the adoption of this resolution, a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution that brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967 and fulfills the vision of two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security within mutually and internationally recognized borders;

2. Decides that the negotiated solution will be based on the following parameters:

  • borders based on 4 June 1967 lines with mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps;
  • security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine, including through a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces which will end the occupation that began in 1967 over an agreed transition period in a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed the end of 2017, and that ensure the security of both Israel and Palestine through effective border security and by preventing the resurgence of terrorism and effectively addressing security threats, including emerging and vital threats in the region.
  • a just and agreed solution to the Palestine refugee question on the basis of Arab Peace Initiative, international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 194 (III);
  • Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two States which fulfills the legitimate aspirations of both parties and protects freedom of worship;
  • an agreed settlement of other outstanding issues, including water;

3. Recognizes that the final status agreement shall put an end to the occupation and an end to all claims and lead to immediate mutual recognition;

4. Affirms that the definition of a plan and schedule for implementing the security arrangements shall be placed at the center of the negotiations within the framework established by this resolution;

5. Looks forward to welcoming Palestine as a full Member State of the United Nations within the timeframe defined in the present resolution;

6. Urges both parties to engage seriously in the work of building trust and to act together in the pursuit of peace by negotiating in good faith and refraining from all acts of incitement and provocative acts or statements, and also calls upon all States and international organizations to support the parties in confidence-building measures and to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations;

7. Calls upon all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949;

8. Encourages concurrent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region, which would unlock the full potential of neighborly relations in the Middle East and reaffirms in this regard the importance of the full implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative;

9. Calls for a renewed negotiation framework that ensures the close involvement, alongside the parties, of major stakeholders to help the parties reach an agreement within the established timeframe and implement all aspects of the final status, including through the provision of political support as well as tangible support for post-conflict and peace-building arrangements, and welcomes the proposition to hold an international conference that would launch the negotiations;

10. Calls upon both parties to abstain from any unilateral and illegal actions, including settlement activities, that could undermine the viability of a two-State solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution;

11. Calls for immediate efforts to redress the unsustainable situation in the Gaza Strip, including through the provision of expanded humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other United Nations agencies and through serious efforts to address the underlying issues of the crisis, including consolidation of the ceasefire between the parties;

12. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution every three months;

13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

According to an unnamed Western diplomat: “There is not the basis for consensus on the (above) text as drafted, and that is why we need to do some work.”

In other words, whatever Israel agrees to is fine. Not otherwise. Its regime has final say. Expressed through assured US vetoes.

Longstanding policy hasn’t changed. Two-state solution notions don’t wash. Israel controls over 60% of West Bank land. Its most valued parts. Most of East Jerusalem.

Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History Joseph Massad says “no Palestinian state (exists) to recognize…”

“(W)ithin 1967 or any other borders. (T)hese political moves are engineered to undo the death of the two-state solution, the illusion of which had guaranteed Israel’s survival as a Jewish racist state for decades.”

“These parliamentary resolutions in fact aim to impose a de facto arrangement that prevents Israel’s collapse and replacement with a state that grants equal rights to all its citizens and is not based on colonial and racial privileges.”

Dead-on-arrival peace talks “worked very well for the last two decades with hardly a peep from the Palestinian Authority.”

An Israeli creation. Stooge governance. Designed to serve its interests. At the expense of peace, equity and justice.

Self-determination. What matters most to millions of Palestinians is strictly verboten.

Extremist Netanyahu policies threaten Israel’s survival as a racist Jewish state, says Massad.

It’s why “European parliaments are rushing to rescue Israel’s liberals by guaranteeing for them (its) survival in its racist form through recognizing a nonexistent Palestinian state ‘within the 1967 borders.’ ”

Two states once were possible. No longer. Except in rump form for Palestine too inconsequential to matter. A state in name only. With worthless scrubland for territory.

Assuring Israel’s survival as a racist Jewish state. Justifying its worst policies. High crimes. Polar opposite justice. Denying it.

PLO/Jordanian text language falls way short and then some. Loopholes give Israel enough wiggle room to drive tanks through. Guns blazing.

Calling Israel a “democratic state” is nonsense. It never was from inception. For sure not now. With ruthless fascists in power. Racists. Operating with impunity.

“Calling for a sustainable solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip” ignores years of illegal blockade.

Collective punishment. Wars at Israel’s discretion. Repeated cross-border land and air incursions. For contrived reasons. With no accountability whatever.

Claiming America “facilitate(s) and advance(s) negotiations between the parties aimed at achieving a final peace settlement” is nonsense.

Both countries partner in each other’s crimes. Peace is strictly verboten. Conflict without end persists.

Western leaders able to intervene responsibly support Israel’s worst crimes. Ones they commit as NATO members. Genocidal ones.

Policies mattering most belie deceptive rhetoric. Occasional initiatives accomplish nothing.

Long-suffering Palestinians remain on their own. Alone. Isolated. Unaided. Brutalized by their own PA government. Disgracefully serving as Israel’s enforcer.

Palestinian statehood within June 1957 borders based on “mutually agreed, limited, equivalent land swaps” assures continued injustice.

Israel able to keep all valued parts of Palestine it controls. Security through third-party presence assures continued occupation.

Israeli state terrorism alone exists. So-called security threats are ones it invents.

Two nations sharing Jerusalem as their capital assures virtual total Israeli control. So does settlement of other outstanding issues.

Looking forward to Palestine as a full UN member ignores its longstanding statehood. Declaration of independence. Since November 1988.

Its support from over two-thirds of world nations. Its legal ability to have now what it hopes for years ahead. A continuing unfulfilled dream. Ongoing for decades. With no resolution in sight.

Urging both parties build trust toward peace through good faith negotiations proposes what never was. Never will be. Not with Israel involved. Or America. Partners in crime.

Resolution text language calls for lots of things. With no authorized enforcement mechanism. Accountability for violators.

It bears repeating. Giving Israel enough wiggle room to drive tanks though. Guns blazing. With impunity. Like many times before.

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.

Is US-NATO Preparing to Wage War on Russia?

December 20th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Is US-NATO Preparing to Wage War on Russia? The Wales NATO  Summit in September has set the stage.

Several military initiatives directed against the Russian Federation have been launched in the last few months including the conduct of war games in Eastern Europe, military training and the deployment of special forces in Ukraine. 

These military initiatives are led in coordination with media propaganda and a program of “economic terrorism” consisting of disruptive economic sanctions, the freeze of monetary and trade transactions,  the fraudulent manipulation of the oil and currency markets, etc.  The media campaign consists in presenting war as a humanitarian undertaking. 

The endgame is to weaken the Russian Federation, undermine its institutions, impoverish its population.

Meanwhile, the US Congress has passed enabling legislation which provides a de facto green light to president Obama to declare war on Russia.

Reports have also confirmed that Washington is contemplating “regime change” in the Russian Federation with a view to installing a more compliant government in the Kremlin. According to President Vladimir Putin: 

“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…

This is a lesson and warning for us and we will do everything possible to prevent this from happening in Russia.” (quoted in Sputnik, November 20 2014)

Military threat combined with “economic warfare” are intended to create social and economic instability in the Russian Federation. Cyber warfare is also an instrument of intervention directed against an enemy’s communications systems.

The US-NATO military exercises conducted in recent months in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States were explicitly directed against Russia. According to Moscow, they consisted in “increasing operation readiness” as well the transfer of NATO “military infrastructure to the Russian borders”.

In mid-December, General James Stavridis, former commander of Nato in Europe called upon the Atlantic Alliance to”send arms and military advisers to Ukraine to help it fight Moscow-backed separatists.”

 “I think we should provide significant military assistance to the Ukrainian military. I don’t think we should limit ourselves to, non-lethal aid. I think we should provide ammunition, fuel, logistics. I think cyber-assistance would be very significant and helpful, as well as advice and potentially advisers.

“I don’t think there needs to be huge numbers of Nato troops on the ground. The Ukrainian military can resist what’s happening, but they need some assistance in order to do that.” (quoted in the Guardian, December 14, 2014)

And on December 18th, President Barack Obama signed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act which allocates up to $350 million in military aid to Ukraine in support of its military campaign in Donbass.

In addition to the granting of military aid, the US military is directly involved in the process of military planning in close coordination with Ukraine’s Ministry Defense.

Its Called “Defense Cooperation”

While US involvement is officially limited to training, the sending in of special forces and support to Ukraine’s National Guard, mercenaries and private security operatives on contract the Pentagon and NATO have also been deployed within the ranks of the Ukraine military and National Guard in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

US Military Advisers at Work

In late November, the US State Department confirmed that it “will continue to send special teams to Ukraine to provide security assistance”, namely advising and military training.

As part of this program of security assistance, Brig. Gen. John Hort, chief of operations, U.S. Army Europe was dispatched to Kiev together with “his staff and members of the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation, located at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv”, Ukraine,

participated in a Global Security Contingency Fund — Ukraine planning requirements meeting with Ukrainian National Guard officials, here, Dec. 8-9, 2014.

The purpose of the requirements meeting was to identify Ukraine’s National Guard Unit organization, training readiness and unit end state conditions after training completion.  U.S. Army Europe, Ukraine defense officials share lessons learned

Brig. Gen. John Hort (at easel), with his staff and members of the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation, Training Session at US embassy with representatives of the Ukraine Military and National Guard. Source US Army 

The Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC): Subsidiary of the Pentagon at the US Embassy in Kiev

The Office of Defense Cooperation which operates out of the US Embassy in Kiev “works with the Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense to provide military equipment and training to support the modernization of Ukraine’s military.” http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/odc.html

US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, in liaison with Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland,  plays a key role in coordinating the activities of ODC-Ukraine. Defense officials at the US Embassy are in turn in liaison with the Pentagon.  The activities of the ODC broadly defined consist in:

  1. The deployment of US military personnel inside Ukraine;
  2. Military training and advisory functions;
  3. The sale and procurement of US weapons systems;
  4. Support to Ukraine’s National Guard through a protocal agreement with California’s National Guard

1. The deployment of US military personnel in Ukraine is implemented under the so-called Joint Contact Team Program-Ukraine (JCTP)

The mission of the JCTP is “to deploy US military teams to Ukraine to acquaint the Ukrainian military with various aspects of western militaries.”

2. The military training program is implemented under the auspices of the International Military Education and Training (IMET). Under this program, Ukraine military personnel are sent to the US for training.

3. The sale and procurement of weapons is under the auspices of  Foreign Military Sales/Foreign Military Financing (FMF)

The FMF program assists the Ukrainian military in conducting defense reform by providing funds for Ukraine to purchase US military equipment and services.  (http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/odc.html)

4. Support to Ukraine’s National Guard is implemented through the California–Ukraine State Partnership Program (SPP). While the SPP mandate is to “promote democracy, free market economies and military reform, in practice the SPP is used to channel support as well as special forces and military advisers to Ukraine’s (neo-Nazi) National Guard battalions in Donbass.

The National Guard Azov Battalion in East Ukraine integrated by neo-Nazi recruits.

Of significance, the SPP Mission is coordinated jointly by the US Ambassador to Ukraine and the Commander of U.S. European Command (EUROCOM) General Philip Breedlove based in Stuttgart, Germany.

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS A THREAT TO GLOBAL SECURITY 

SAY NO TO THE US LED WAR ON RUSSIA WHICH COULD POTENTIALLY LEAD THE WORLD INTO A WORLD WAR III SCENARIO. 

Forward this article. The political consensus in favor of war must be broken. 

 

Mark Costanzo (Claremont McKenna professor of psychology) and Ellen Gerrity (Duke University professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) note in a study published in the journal Social Issues and Policy Review:

As early as the third century A.D., the great Roman Jurist Ulpian noted that information obtained through torture was not to be trusted because some people are “so susceptible to pain that they will tell any lie rather than suffer it” (Peters, 1996).  This warning about the unreliability of information extracted through the use of torture has echoed across the centuries.

Lawrence Davidson – history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania – points out today:

In 1764 Cesare Beccaria [an Italian criminologist, jurist, philosopher, and politician who had a profound effect on America’s Founding Fathers] published his groundbreaking work, On Crimes and Punishments. Beccaria had examined all the evidence available at that time and concluded that individuals under torture will tell their interrogators anything they want to hear, true or not, just to get the pain to stop.

The successful and ruthless general Napolean Bonaparte wrote in 1798:

The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know.

This ancient wisdom has been verified by the top American interrogation experts over the last 100 years.

The US military and its NATO allies have increased military operations near the borders of Russia in order to keep “peace and stability” in the region, a Pentagon official says.

The unnamed official told RIA Novosti on Tuesday that the United States was “transparent” in its military operations.

“Current US European Command efforts through Operation Atlantic Resolve are a demonstration of our continued commitment to the collective security of NATO, the long-term peace and stability in the region,” the official said.

“The United States took several immediate steps to demonstrate solidarity with our NATO allies, such as augmenting the air, ground and naval presence in the region, and enhancing previously scheduled exercises.”

The head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s joint military command center, Lieutenant-General Mikhail Mizintsev, said that NATO has increased military activity near the Russian borders.

He added that the alliance’s flights have doubled to about 3,000 in 2014.

Relations between Moscow and the West have been strained over the crisis in Ukraine.

The United States accuses Russia of sending troops into eastern Ukraine in support of the pro-Russian forces, an allegation denied by the Kremlin.

Last week, the Pentagon threatened Russia with redeploying nuclear cruise missiles to Europe, accusing Moscow of violating two arms control treaties.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama would sign anti-Russia sanctions into law.

“The president does intend to sign the bill,” Earnest said.

The announcement followed a unanimous approval of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act.

The bill aims to put more pressure on Moscow by authorizing more sanctions on weapons companies and investors in its high-tech oil projects and to provide the Kiev government with extra military aid.

In a major victory for people who have been working to stop hydraulic fracturing for gas, known as fracking, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced a ban on fracking in New York State.

This would not have occurred had it not been for the consistent and ongoing educating, organizing and mobilizing by groups like New Yorkers Against Fracking and We Are Seneca Lake, among others. This has been a six year campaign of creative protests, civil resistance, direct action and local communities voting to ban fracking, a power upheld by New York’s highest court.  One opponent of fracking, Walter Hang, an environmental mapping consultant wrote:

This stupendous victory was won by an unrelenting grassroots citizen campaign powered by amazing press coverage that systematically highlighted the public health and environmental concerns of shale fracking. That effort has won a victory unparalleled in the annals of the American environmental movement.

Tom Wilber who writes Shale Gas Review which covers gas development in Marcellus and Utica shales, noted the power of the anti-fracking movement and how it related to the science on fracking:

Science is part of the calculus. But despite what Cuomo would like us to believe, scientists don’t make these kinds of decisions. The full equation is Science + politics = policy. Cuomo finally got tired of being hounded on the issue by his political base. The movement in New York against shale gas was relentless and it was focused on him.

People rising up and saying ‘no’ to fracking made it impossible for the government to ignore the health, safety and environmental problems caused by fracking. See this December 2014 compendium of the research. This victory is one that will spur the anti-fracking movement throughout the country and puts in question the fracking infrastructure being built, e.g. pipelines, compressor stations and export terminals, currently being pushed throughout the country by Big Energy.

Inside Climate News reports that Sandra Steingraber, an environmental health expert and fracking activist in New York, told them from the parking lot of a sheriff’s office where she was bailing out 28 musicians arrested in an ongoing protest against a fracked gas storage facility in the Seneca Lakes region of New York that when she told the activists the news, they picked up their instruments and there was “singing and dancing in the streets.” She added “Fracking is able to roll over so many communities because people are told it is inevitable. This decision emboldens us all. It shows this fight is winnable.”

At a meeting in Calvert County last night where Dominion Resources is building a fracked gas export terminal, Tracey Eno of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, a member ofWe Are Cove Point, mentioned the Cuomo decision to inspire people to realize that we can defeat big energy.

Yesterday morning we received an email message urging people in New York to prepare to protest as Governor Cuomo was expected to announce three pilot fracking projects in New York, instead the governor decided to continue the moratorium on fracking. This reminds us that we often do not realize how close we are to victory, indeed people often feel like they are failing or cannot win, when in fact victory is within reach and much closer than they realize.

Cuomo spoke briefly at a press conference after his cabinet meeting announcing the fracking ban and saying he was following the advice of experts. He then turned the press conference over to them to explain the decision.

The New York Times reports that the state health commissioner expressed concerns about the health impacts of fracking:

In a presentation at the cabinet meeting, the acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, said the examination had found “significant public health risks” associated with fracking.

Holding up copies of scientific studies to animate his arguments, Dr. Zucker listed concerns about water contamination and air pollution, and said there was insufficient scientific evidence to affirm the safety of fracking.

Dr. Zucker said his review boiled down to a simple question: Would he want his family to live in a community where fracking was taking place?

Zucker said that in other states where fracking is already happening, he found that state health commissioners “weren’t even at the table.”

At the same time, Joe Martens, the environmental commissioner described the economic stimulus from fracking was not as great telling a press conference that the prospects for fracking in New York are “uncertain at best” and describing economic benefits as “far lower than originally forecasted.”  As The Times reported:

Martens noted the low price of natural gas, the high local cost of industry oversight and the large areas that would be off-limits to shale gas development because of setback requirements, water supply protections, and local prohibitions. He said those factors combine to make fracking less economically beneficial than had been anticipated.

 Chip Northrup, a former oil and gas investor who writes the No Fracking Way blog that opposes drilling in New York, wrote about the views of commissioners Zucker and Martens:

Both of them cited the greatly reduced area where fracking would actually take place in New York – since most upstate towns ban it.

And the only towns that might allow it are in an small area by the Pennsylvania border that is not currently economic.  So, frankly, simply not worth fracking fooling with.

Which makes perfect sense from all standpoints: environmentally, economically and politically.

At the press conference Cuomo said  “I think it’s our responsibility to develop an alternative … for safe, clean economic development.”

We urge advocates and the governor to now put in place a strategy to make New York the first state to put in place a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy by 2025. This is not an impossible fantasy but an achievable goal. Here is one example of how New York could achieve a clean energy economy.  Putting in place a clean energy policy is the kind of leadership that could revive Cuomo, who had a very difficult re-election, as a viable presidential candidate in 2020.

Kevin Zeese is co-director of Popular Resistance which is a member of We Are Cove Point which seeks to stop the development of a fracked gas expert terminal at Cove Point in Maryland.

Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support.

That figure, more than the $4.3 trillion the federal government paid the nation’s 50 million Social Security recipients over the same period, is the result of an unprecedented effort to quantify the less-examined side of the campaign finance equation: Do political donors get something in return for what they give?

Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court suggested the answer to that question was no. Corporate spending to influence federal elections would not “give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,” the majority wrote in the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

Sunlight decided to test that premise by examining influence and its potential results on federal decision makers over six years, three before the 2010 Citizens United decision and three after.

We focused on the records of 200 for-profit corporations, all of which had active political action committees and lobbyists in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 election cycles — and were among the top donors to campaign committees registered with the Federal Election Commission. Their investment in politics was enormous. There were 20,500 paying lobbying clients over the six years we examined; the 200 companies we tracked accounted for a whopping 26 percent of the total spent. On average, their PACs, employees and their family members made campaign contributions to 144 sitting members of Congress each cycle.

On average, 144 sitting members of Congress received money from the Fixed Fortune 200 each cycle. Graphic credit: The Sunlight Foundation

After examining 14 million records, including data on campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, federal budget allocations and spending, we found that, on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government. The $4.4 trillion total represents two-thirds of the $6.5 trillion that individual taxpayers paid into the federal treasury.

Welcome to the world of “Fixed Fortunes,” a seemingly closed universe where the most persistent and savvy political players not so mysteriously have the ability to attract federal dollars regardless of who is running Washington.

Political change, permanent interests

During the six years we studied, newly elected Democratic majorities took control in the House and Senate. Two years later, the White House shifted from Republican to Democratic control, and two years after that the GOP came back to take the House. The collapse of the housing bubble in 2007 led to massive bailout efforts by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board, two massive stimulus bills and the loss of more than eight million jobs. Congress passed laws that overhauled health care insurance and financial industry regulation. Troops surged in Afghanistan and withdrew from Iraq. There were 16 separate “continuing resolutions” to fund the government, a debt ceiling standoff that caused a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating and a “super committee” to wrestle with the federal budget. As middle class Americans lost ground, the Fixed Fortune 200 got what they needed.

What they needed included loans that helped automakers and banks survive the recent recession while many homeowners went under. It included full funding and expansion of federal programs started in the 1930s that, year after year, decade after decade, help prop up prices for agribusinesses and secure trade deals for our biggest manufacturers. It included budget busting emergency measures that funneled extra dollars to everything from defense contractors to public utility companies to financial industry giants. The record suggests that the money corporations spend on political campaigns and Washington lobbying firms is not an unwise investment.

The Fixed Fortune 200 come from a wide range of industries. There are a host of familiar names among them, like Ford Motor Company, McDonald’s and Bank of America, as well as some less famous, like MacAndrews & Forbes, the Carlyle Group and Cerberus Capital Management. (For the complete list, including what they gave and what they got, click here.) There are retailers and investment banks, construction and telecommunications firms, health insurers and gun makers, entertainment conglomerates, banks and pharmaceutical manufacturers, among others.

Out of 20,500 paying lobbying clients, the Fixed Fortune 200 accounted for a whopping 26 percent of the total spent. Graphic credit: The Sunlight Foundation

Overall, the Fixed Fortune 200’s PACs, employees and their family members gave $597 million to political committees and disclosed spending $5.2 billion on lobbying. They make this enormous investment in politics in large part because their businesses are inextricably entwined with government decisions — including spending decisions.

Government as business partner

For example, the federal government issued contracts to purchase goods and services that totaled a little more that $3 trillion during the period; companies among the top 200 corporate political givers won $1 trillion of that, a third of the total. The Treasury Department managed $410 billion in loans and other assistance issued under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, created by Congress to cope with the 2008 financial crisis; of that amount, $298 million, about 73 percent, went to 16 firms among the Fixed Fortune 200. When the Federal Reserve took extraordinary measures in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, it funneled nearly $2.8 trillion through 29 Fixed Fortune firms. The companies that participated the most in politics got huge returns.

Of the 200 corporations we examined, we could sum the financial rewards for 179. Of those, 138 received more from the federal government than they spent on politics, 102 of them received more than 10 times what they spent on politics, and 29 received 1,000 times or more from the federal government than they invested in lobbyists or contributed to political committees via their employees, their family members and their PACs.

As for the other 21 companies on our list, while we could not quantify the financial benefits that some received, we were able to identify them. Some examples:

  • Arch Coal lists the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the government corporation that’s the largest public electricity producer, as one of its three biggest customers. TVA does not release data on its coal purchases.
  • Forest City Enterprises does not appear as a landlord in the Government Services Agency’s database of federal rental agreements, though its annual report notes that the U.S. government is the third-biggest customer for its pricey New York City office space.
  • Occidental Petroleum has leases on federal land to extract natural gas, but the government does not release information on how much that gas is withdrawn or how much it is worth.
  • And while the government has so far refused to release information on what retailers get the most purchases via food stamps, Wal-Mart went so far as to acknowledge in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that reductions in the now $78 billion-a-year Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or food stamps — could have a significant impact on the company’s earnings, which totaled $476 billion in its most recent fiscal year.

Of the 200 companies analyzed for Fixed Fortunes, 28 are in what the money in politics research organization the Center for Responsive Politics classifies as the communications and electronics sector, 21 in healthcare, 13 in defense and aerospace, 13 agribusinesses, 11 in energy and natural resources, and 7 in transportation. The biggest sector, accounting for 48 of the 200, was finance, insurance and real estate, which is consistently the largest source of campaign funds for politicians cycle after cycle. Congress and the executive branch have paid particular attention to the industry, approving hundreds of billions in aid to help it weather the financial crisis. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve advanced trillions in credit, which the nation’s central bank hoped would trickle down through the rest of the economy.

See the full list of corporations — including how much each gave and what they got in return — on our Influence Explorer page.

Companies with the biggest returns on their political investments include three foreign financial service and banking firms, UBS and Credit Suisse Group from Switzerland, and Deutsche Bank of Germany, all of which benefited from the Treasury Department’s taxpayer-financed rescue of American International Group. Investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as well as commercial banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America also received far more from government than they put into politics: They benefited from the bailouts of the financial industry undertaken by Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Weapons manufacturers like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, both of which disclosed spending more than $10 million each year on lobbying, also made the list. So did McKesson, a pharmaceutical wholesaler that is the biggest vendor for Veterans Affairs, and the Carlyle Group, a wealth management firm started by former government insiders who invest in firms that have significant involvement with government, such as defense, telecommunications and health care.

A range of returns

To catalogue the money flowing to and from the Fixed Fortune 200, we examined data on campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures. We compiled and queried a host of government spending records, including spending approved through the normal budgeting process. We also looked at additional spending measures — extra-budgetary spending on the Global War on Terror, renamed Overseas Contingency Operations in 2009, and emergency or one-time measures like the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. And because the Federal Reserve made use of its power to advance credit to private firms in extraordinary circumstances, we also examined its interventions in the economy.

For every dollar spent influencing politics, the Fixed Fortune 200 received $760 from the government. Graphic credit: The Sunlight Foundation

See our methodology for a complete explanation of how we arrived at these numbers and more.

Some of the gets are harder to quantify. While corporate interests disclose lobbying on federal spending — the budget and appropriations process — more than any other issue, they also seek to influence trade agreements, labor rules, environmental regulation and the Internal Revenue Code.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield has its own provision in the tax code, section 833, that saves its companies an estimated $1 billion a year. Life insurance companies like New York Life and Pacific Mutual, and their customers, are eligible for tax breaks that save the industry $30 billion a year, with about $3 billion going to the companies and the balance going to their policyholders. The corporate tax code is full of loopholes and subsidies that companies lobby for to help their bottom lines; Citizens for Tax Justice researched the Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures filed by publicly traded corporations in an effort to determine their effective tax rates; its analysis included 89 members of the group Sunlight examined. The average effective tax rate of those companies was 17.7 percent between 2008 and 2012. Federal law, meanwhile, sets the corporate tax rate at 35 percent.

As far as we can tell, one thing the Fixed Fortune 200 did not do, for the most part, was take advantage of the new opportunities to spend on politics that the Citizens United decision afforded them. The 200 corporate donors gave just $3 million to super PACs, with the bulk of that amount a single $2.5 million donation from Chevron to the Congressional Leadership PAC, a super PAC that’s been linked to House Speaker John Boehner. It’s important to note, however, that contributions by these companies to politically active nonprofits (a category that includes the Chamber of Commerce) are impossible to track because of tax laws that allow those entities to shield donors.

Though beyond the scope of our study, which focused on the federal government, it is worth noting that 174 of the 200 corporations won subsidies from state and local governments, according to Good Jobs First, an organization that tracks economic development programs. The Citizens United decision also applies to state election laws, giving corporations the right to speak at the state and local levels as well.

Nonetheless, opinion polls show that majorities of Americans generally trust governments in their city halls, township boards and state capitals. That doesn’t compare well to the mere 19 percent of Americans who trust their federal government. Frustration with Washington runs high for any number of reasons, but consider:

  • Two-thirds of Americans believe corporations pay too little in taxes and that they should pay more, but tax reform stalls in Congress year after year;
  • Prominent politicians from both parties have criticized corporate welfare programs that benefit big business for more than two decades, but not one of those programs has been repealed;
  • The president and Congress ended a reduction in payroll taxes that benefited wage earners in January 2013 but extended business tax breaks for insurers, energy companies and other corporations;
  • Federal bailouts returned financial industry firms that started the crisis to profitability, while middle class income and net worth of the middle class fell.

More than seven years after Washington passed the first measures to stimulate the economy as the housing bubble started to burst, more and more Americans are living on less and less, without as much savings and other assets to fall back on in hard times. Washington policies that have restored corporate profits and made the stock market boom have left much of the country behind. Perhaps that’s why a whole host of polls, from networks and news organizations and nonprofit groups, show large majorities of Americans, year after year, saying that the country is on the wrong track.

In its Citizens United decision, the court took for granted that “favoritism and influence” are inherent in electoral democracy and that “democracy is premised on responsiveness” of politicians to those who support them. We found ample evidence of that.

“The appearance of influence or access,” the court said, “will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”

It appears that the electorate — who stayed away from the polls this year in droves — might not agree.

Communities seeking redress for their lands, grabbed for pulpwood plantations in Sumatra, are let down by resolution process, reveals new report.

A new report reveals unresolved social conflicts over the pulpwood plantation of a major Indonesian company promising ‘No Deforestation’. The report, from Forest Peoples Programme and Indonesian NGO partners, details a flawed conflict resolution process for community lands grabbed for pulpwood plantations by the massive pulp and paper company Asia Pulp and Paper, in Sumatra. APP is owned by the enormous Sinar Mas conglomerate which is incorporated in Jakarta.

Patrick Anderson, Policy Advisor of Forest Peoples Programme, led the survey in Jambi Province, Sumatra:

“Our field investigation shows how weak APP’s pilot conflict resolution effort in Jambi has been to date. The deal imposed on Senyerang Village (Kelurahan) is a tough one, and is not in line with APP’s policy commitment. The community only gets use rights to plant rubber on one eighth (12.5%) of their customary lands (7,224 hectares), while receiving small payments for the company-grown Acacia on another three eighths (37.5%) of their lands.  The community is expected to forfeit rights to the other half of their customary lands.”

The report documents in detail the way Senyerang Village, whose lands were recognised as far back as Dutch colonial times, lost lands to APP’s subsidiary PT Wira Karya Sakti. Community protests at the land grab were initially met with violence by the company and State security forces. When APP adopted its new Forest Conservation Policy in 2013, it sought to address past land conflicts in line with industry best practice. Senyerang Village was chosen as a pilot case by APP and its advisers, The Forest Trust, which has now been working to resolve the land dispute there since January 2013.

Rudiansyah of the Indonesian NGO, WALHI, noted:

“There are more than a hundred communities in Jambi whose lands and forests have been unfairly taken over for Acacia plantations by APP. The conflict resolution process in Senyerang was meant to pilot how to resolve these conflicts. The weak result of this pilot casts doubt on APP’s sincerity to address the legacy of past abuses.”

Harry Oktavian, from the Indonesian NGO, Scale Up, concludes

“While we welcomed the adoption of APP’s ‘Forest Conservation Policy’ last year, we judge the company by what we observe on the ground, not by what it says on paper. Our field investigation revealed serious social problems and violations of policy commitments by APP’s subsidiary, WKS. These companies need to do much more to rectify past malpractices before we can say they are ‘sustainable’.”

Syahrul Khairi, a young leader from Senyerang Village commented:

“We are happy that this report has been written, as we want other communities that have lost lands to WKS and APP to be able to learn from our experiences in search of justice. We hope they will be able to obtain recognition of their rights to their customary lands, and fair compensation for use of their lands by others.”

Most politically active Americans are aware of the massive amounts of money spent on political campaigns. And most are also aware that corporate dollars, which fund so-called superPACs (political action committees), give hundreds of millions every election cycle.

In fact, according to a new study by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for more transparent, open government, American corporations spent around $5.8 billion on elections between 2007 and 2012.

If that sounds like a big number – and it is – wait until you see what American corporations got in return.

Corporate investment in political campaigns pays big dividends

According to the foundation, corporations reaped nearly $4.4 trillion in returns for their investments.

The foundation looked at “influence and its potential results on federal decision makers” for six years – three before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and three years after the ruling. The study focused on the records of 200 for-profit corporations and companies that had active PACs and lobbyists.

“Their investment was enormous,” the report, titled, “Fixed Fortunes: Biggest corporate political interests spend billions, get trillions,” said.

No, money doesn’t influence our system – just ask the Supreme Court

“There were 20,500 paying lobbying clients over the six years we examined; the 200 companies we tracked accounted for a whopping 26 percent of the total spent. On average, their PACs, employees and family members made campaign contributions to 144 sitting members of Congress each [election] cycle,” the report noted.

An examination of 14 million records pertaining to campaign contributions, federal budget allocations, lobbying expenditures and other spending found that, on average, “for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 [$4.4 trillion total] from the federal government,” a figure accounting for “two-thirds of the $6.5 trillion that individual taxpayers paid into the federal treasury.”

What’s more, as the American middle class shrank dramatically during the same six-year study period, the 200 companies continued getting insane returns on their political investments. They included loans to bail out the automobile industry, the bank bailouts that were “too big to fail,” federal program expansions that worked to “help prop up prices for agribusinesses and secure trade deals for our biggest manufacturers,” as well as budget measures “that funneled extra dollars to everything from defense contractors to public utility companies to financial industry giants.”

In addition, researchers found that of some $410 billion in loans issued under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, which was created in 2008, nearly 73 percent – or about $298 – went to 16 of the 200 corporations on the list.

‘Unprecedented amounts of spending’

“Of the 200 corporations we examined, we could sum the financial rewards for 179,” said the foundation’s report. “Of those, 138 received more from the federal government than they spent on politics, 102 of them received more than 10 times what they spent on politics, and 29 received 1,000 times or more from the federal government than they invested lobbyists or contributed to political committees …”

The foundation also pointed out that the high court, in its Citizens United ruling – in which a majority of justices ruled that corporations and unions could essentially donate unlimited amounts of money to super PACs – made this determination: “The appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.” But a quick survey of Americans finds this statement to be absurd on its face; most Americans, the foundation said, were fed up with the way the government currently operates.

And, as the campaign finance-tracking website Open Secrets - operated by the Center for Responsive Politics – noted, following the Citizens United ruling, “unprecedented amounts of outside spending in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles” occurred.

“Giving corporations unlimited power to influence the government corrupted democracy more than any other single act of legislation, and things won’t get any better until Citizens United is reversed,” said an assessment of the study from Ring of Fire Radio. “And since corporations have basically bought and paid for most politicians, it’s highly unlikely that will happen any time soon.”

Sources:

http://ringoffireradio.com

http://sunlightfoundation.com

http://influenceexplorer.com

http://www.opensecrets.org

Longstanding US Cuba Policy: Regime Change

December 19th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Obama is right. Sanctions don’t work. Not against Cuba. Russia. Iran or other countries. Provided they stay firm.  

Defending their sovereign rights. Cuba did admirably. For over half a century. Against US imperialism.

Its leadership a testimony to successful sovereign resilience. Prevailing against long odds.

Longstanding US Cuban policy failed. Washington’s objective remains unchanged. Regime change! Installing pro-Western stooge governance. Returning Cuba to its bad old days.

Castro gained power on January 1, 1959. Transforming a repressive brothel into a populist state. Ousting Washington’s man in Havana. Fulgencio Batista. A despot by any standard.

Franklin Roosevelt once called former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza “a son of a bitch. (B)ut he’s our son of a bitch,” he explained.

America supports many like him. Batista’s fascist regime earlier. Current repressive Central America/Caribbean governments. In Honduras. Guatemala. Haiti.

Saudi Arabia. Other Gulf states. Ukraine in central Europe. Fascists running Israel. Numerous other repressive regimes.

Obama’s new Cuba gambit reflects imperial policy by other means. Hold the cheers. More on this below.

Until illness in 2006 forced him to step down, Fidel was the world’s longest serving political leader. Now aged 88, its preeminent elder statesman.

Still expressing important views. “Reflections of Fidel.” In September saying “just ideas or disaster will triumph.”

“Global society has known no peace in recent years.” Because of US/European policies. Threatening world peace. With “weapons which could mean the end of human existence.”

He called Western regimes “unscrupulous actors.” Especially America. “(I)nterven(ing) militarily in Cuba…” Earlier owning most of the country. Raping it for profit.

Preventing Cubans from “produc(ing) enough grain to feed the population…Cynicism is something which has become symbolic of imperial policy.”

Rapaciousness defines it. “(O)ur interests,” said Obama. Castro knows them well. Duplicity writ large. Plotting control over Cuba again.

Intending to colonize it for profit. Plunder its resources. Including offshore oil. Exploit its people. Obama is a serial liar.

Claiming US policy is “rooted in the best of intentions…” Brazen dishonesty. Willful deception. Longstanding US policies speak for themselves.

Serving monied interests exclusively. At the expense of beneficial social change. Mindless of democratic rights. Rule of law principles.

Including prohibitions against interfering in the internal affairs of other nations. Sovereign independence is inviolable.

Not according to Washington rules. Imposing them lawlessly. With full scoundrel media support. The New York Times outrageously calls Cuba “a repressive police state.”

Ignoring decades of ruthless US anti-Castro policy. Hailing a “historic move.” “Transformational.”

Claiming Washington is right in demanding “greater personal freedoms and democratic change.”

Instead of exposing it as the world’s most egregious civil and human rights abuser. None match America’s abusive record. Longstanding. Horrific by any standard.

The Times was right calling US Cuban policy “one of the most misguided chapters in American foreign policy.” Mindless of Obama’s intent.

Opening Cuba to America’s monied interests spells trouble. Like it always does. US policies aren’t benign.

Cuba already infested with US anti-government operatives. USAID. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

International Republican Institute (IRI). Freedom House. Center for a Free Cuba. Institute for Democracy in Cuba. Cuba Dissidence Task Group.

Various other groups and initiatives. Raul Castro warned earlier about “attempts to subtly introduce platforms for neoliberal thought and for the restoration of neocolonial capitalism.”

Saying he “reiterated on many occasions our willingness to hold a respectful dialogue with the United States on the basis of sovereign equality in order to deal reciprocally with a wide variety of topics without detriment to the national Independence and self-determination of our people.”

“We propose to the Government of the United States the adoption of mutual steps to improve the bilateral atmosphere and advance towards normalization of relations between our two countries, based on the principles of International Law and the United Nations Charter.”

“We don’t demand that the US change its political or social system and we don’t accept negotiations over ours.”

It bears repeating. Longstanding US policy call for regime change. Obama’s pronouncement shows tactics alone changing.

By establishing diplomatic relations. Opening a Havana embassy. Regime change headquarters. Infested with CIA operatives for sure. Plotting destabilization tactics.

Obama loosening embargo conditions. As much as possible by executive order. Without congressional approval. Unlikely with Republicans in charge next year.

Or Democrats like current Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez (D. NJ). Blasting Obama.

Turning truth on its head saying his “actions have vindicate the brutal behavior of the Cuban government. (S)et(ting) an extremely dangerous precedent.”

“(I)nvit(ing) dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips. I fear that today’s actions will put at risk the thousands of Americans that work overseas to support civil society, advocate for access to information, provide humanitarian services, and promote democratic reforms.”

The New York Times cited unnamed administration officials. Saying Treasury will issue easing Cuban trade regulations. On US agricultural exports. Banking relations.

Commerce Department will permit exports of construction materials. Telecommunications equipment. Scientific, athletic and cultural products. Various other goods.

Efforts will move quickly to replace old rules with new ones. Facilitating travel. Financial dealings. Exports. According to US officials.

“The Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department will scrap a measure that requires people who are already eligible for travel to Cuba to receive special permission from the government for trips such as those involving family visits, professional, religious or cultural programs and humanitarian projects,” said The Times.

“New rules will also make it easier to get there, by allowing the direct purchase of airline tickets to Cuba rather than requiring travelers to go through a travel agent and charter a flight.”

Treasury is increasing how much money Americans may send Cubans. Fourfold. From $500 to $2,000.

The State Department may end Cuba’s unjust state sponsor of terrorism designation. Longstanding US Cuban policy reflects it writ large. Don’t expect The Times to explain.

According to US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson:

“We would anticipate that we will have an embassy before” nominating an ambassador.

“That process is relatively straightforward, frankly, from a legal perspective. We can do that via an exchange of letters or of notes. It doesn’t require a formal sort of legal treaty or agreement.”

White House officials said they spent months determining how far to go unilaterally. Without violating the letter of embargo conditions. Or “eviscerat(ing)” them.

Washington’s Havana Interests Section will serve as its embassy. A future nest of destabilizing spies.

Political analyst Andrew Korybko asked if Raul Castro “reverse(d) the entire Cuban revolution.” Did he make “a fatal mistake?”

By getting in bed with the devil. It remains to be seen how much. Will color revolution follow? At age 88, Fidel’s time is passing. Whether soon or later who knows.

Korybko believes he’s closer to death than Havana admits. An era will pass with his loss. Inevitable sooner or later. Key is what follows.

Raul is 83. Reportedly in good health. Last year saying he’ll step down in 2018. “This is my last term,” he said. Shortly after National Assembly members reelected him for another five years.

At the same time naming Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez First Vice President. Next in line to Raul.

Cuba’s current government appears its last under Fidel and Raul. Possible succession figures include Diaz-Canel. Four other vice presidents.

Including Jose Machado Ventura. Aged 82. Ceding his first vice presidential position to Diaz-Canel.

Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdes. Aged 80. Comptroller General Gladys Bejerano. Aged 66. Both vice presidents.

Others include First Secretary of the Communist Party Mercedes Lopexz Acea. Aged 48. Labor federation head Salvador Valdes Mesa. Aged 64.

In 2013, 68-year-old former vice president Estaban Lazo was named National Assembly president. Replacing longtime leader Ricardo Alarcon.

Earlier he commented on who would succeed Fidel, saying:

“All those who have been trying to fool the world and put out the idea that something terrible would happen in Cuba, that people would take to the streets, that there would be great instability, the door slammed on them and they must have very swollen hands now.”

Cuban policy going forward remains to be seen. New leaders will replace old ones. Hopefully revolutionary spirit won’t change.

Remaining vibrant. Resilient. Redoubtable. Too precious to lose.

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 world is still hell-bent for hydrocarbon-based energy. Russia is one of the world’s largest producer of energy. Russia has recently announced that in the future she will no longer trade energy in US dollars, but in rubles and currencies of the trading partners. In fact, this rule will apply to all trading. Russia and China are detaching their economies from that of the western financial system. To confirm this decision, in July 2014  Russia’s Gazprom concluded a 400 billion gas deal with China, and in November this year they signed an additional slightly smaller contract – all to be denominated in rubles and renminbi.

The remaining BRICS – Brazil, India and South Africa – plus the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kirgizstan, Uzbekistan and considered for membership since September 2014 are also India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Mongolia, with Turkey also waiting in the wings – will also trade in their local currencies, detached from the dollar-based western casino scheme. A host of other nations increasingly weary of the decay of the western financial system which they are locked into are just waiting for a new monetary scheme to emerge. So far their governments may have been afraid of the emperor’s wrath – but gradually they are seeing the light. They are sensing the sham and weakness behind Obama’s boisterous noise. They don’t want to be sucked into the black hole, when the casino goes down the drain.

To punish Russia for Ukraine, Obama is about to sign into law major new sanctions against Russia, following Congress’s unanimous passing of a recent motion to this effect. – That is what the MSM would like you to believe. It is amazing that ten months after the Washington instigated Maidan slaughter and coup where a Washington selected Nazi Government was put in place, the MSM still lies high about the origins of this government and the massacres it is committing in the eastern Ukraine Donbass area.

Congress’s unanimity – what Congress and what unanimity? – Out of 425 lawmakers, only 3 were present for the vote http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40489.htm. The others may have already taken off for their year-end recess, or simply were ‘ashamed’ or rather afraid to object to the bill. As a matter of fact, of the three who were present to vote, two at first objected. Only after a bit of arm-twisting and what not, they were willing to say yes. This is how the ‘unanimous’ vote came to be, as trumpeted by the MSM – unanimous by three votes! The public at large is duped again into believing what is not.

What new sanctions does this repeatedly propagated bill entail? – It addresses mostly Russian energy companies and the defense industry with regard to sales to Syria, as well more anti-Russia propaganda and ‘democratization’ programs in Ukraine – and Russia; all countries with the objective for regime change.

How do these sanctions affect Russia, especially since all Russian energy sales are no longer dollar denominated? – Sheer propaganda. The naked emperor once more is calling an unsubstantiated bluff. To show his western stooges who is in power. It’s an ever weaker showoff.

Now – as a consequence of declining oil prices and of western ‘sanctions’ – of course, what else? – Russia’s economy is suffering and the ruble is in free fall. Since the beginning of the year it lost about 60%; last week alone 20%. As a result and after serious consideration, says MSM, the Russian Central Bank decided a few days ago to increase the interest of reference from 10.5% to 17% to make the ruble more attractive for foreign investors. It worked only for a few hours. Raising the interbank interest was Putin’s reply to Obama’s bluff – feeding at the same time western illusion about Russia’s decline.

The propaganda drums tell you Russia is helpless because the world has lost the last bit of confidence in President Putin – of course. Regime change is on the agenda. Mr. Putin must be blamed as the culprit, hoping to discredit him with his people. He is leading Russia into a deep recession; the worst since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The mainstream media show you interviews with average mainstreet Russians saying they have lost all their savings, their salaries and pensions are worth nothing anymore and they don’t know how to survive this coming calamity.

In reality, at least 80% of the Russian population stands solidly behind Vladimir Putin. He has brought them universal education, health care and fixed infrastructure that was decaying after the fall of the Soviet Union. President Putin is literally revered as a hero by the vast majority of Russians – including the country’s oligarchy.

In fact, nobody in the western economic system these days is dealing in rubles. In short-sighted connivance with Washington, the treasuries of the western vassals are releasing their ruble reserves – which Russia does not buy, thereby flooding the market. Russia not only has large dollar reserves, plus the ruble is backed by gold, a fact consistently omitted in the MSM. For now, Russia prefers to let the ruble plummet.

Under another ‘arrangement’ by bully Obama, Middle Eastern oil producing puppets like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are overproducing and flooding the market with petrol and gas, thereby driving the price down to the ostensible detriment of Russia and Venezuela, both countries where Washington  vies for regime change. A double whammy thinks Washington, buying kudos with the stooges. The sheiks that control their energy output apparently have been promised enough goodies from Washington to bite the bullet and take their own losses.

Russia needs rubles. That’s her currency. That is the currency Russia needs for future trading – detached from the western monetary system.

When Russia deems that her currency has reached rock-bottom, she will buy back cheap rubles in the market with massive amounts of dollars. Russia may then flood the western market – with dollars, euros and other western-allied currencies – and gold.  Let’s not forget, the ruble is backed by gold. By now we know what flooding a market with currencies may do to these currencies – and simultaneously buy back rubles from the West.  A brilliant move to reestablish Russia’s currency in a new emerging monetary system – which Europe would be welcome to join, but willingly, not by Washington style arm-twisting.

Surely, Russia is not interested to cause the sudden destruction of the dollar-linked financial world. She is not interested in a sudden death of the many countries that are potential new trading partners in a new monetary system. Instead, the fall of the western economy of deceit may be planned as a gradual slide, so that countries have time to switch – switch their reserves to rubles, yuans and other BRICS and SCO currencies. This move is on its way. Only ten years ago, dollar denominated securities constituted 90% of reserves worldwide. Today the rate is 60% and declining.

After all, perhaps as Plan B, there is also a pact of monetary alliance between Russia and China. China holds currently about 1.5 trillion dollars and in total more than 3 trillion dollar equivalent in western currencies – and undefined but huge gold reserves. Chinese, BRICS and SCO solidarity with Russia is a solid security for the ruble. Imagine – the first major action of the new BRICS Development Bank with a current capital base of 100 billion dollars would launch a massive ruble rescue operation. No worries, Russia’s economy is on firm course.

The question begs – is this gigantic ‘engineered’ ruble devaluation scheme another precursor to war? A nuclear confrontation or Cold War II? – Precursor to another western, Washington-driven false flag attempting Moscow to fall into a lethal trap? – Not necessarily. Russia is playing a clever chess game, diplomacy at its best. Instead of sabre rattling – Russia is coin rattling. It might lead to a western financial fiasco early in 2015 for the dollar and euro denominated economies. And the winner is…?

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, the Voice of Russia, now Ria Novosti, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.

Global Systemic Financial Crisis 2015: Geopolitics, Oil and Currency Markets

December 19th, 2014 by Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin (GEAB)

For almost two years, by combining various points of view (speculative, geopolitical, technological, economic, strategic and monetary…), we have continued to anticipate a major crisis in the entire oil sector.

Today, no one doubts the fact that we are actually at that point, and the GEAB must therefore anticipate the consequences of this veritable atomic bomb, which has begun to blow up all the old system’s pillars: everything which we have known, international currencies, financial markets, the US, the Western alliance, world governance, democracy, etc.

Global systemic crisis: the end of the West we have known since 1945

Here, we would like to look back on a historic GEAB anticipation, that of Franck Biancheri in February 2006, which announced the beginning of the global systemic crisis under the title “the end of the West we have known since 1945” (1). It will have taken nine years for this Western world to collapse (or seven years, if we begin the process with the 2008 subprime crisis, as one should really do)… During these nine years, the GEAB has worked to educate on the crisis, with the avowed aim of raising all the existing solutions to exit it as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Apparently, outside the work carried out by the BRICS which, also anticipated by the GEAB, got through a huge task to lay down the foundations of tomorrow’s world, the Western world, meanwhile, has made some positive efforts here and there, signs of which we detect in some places. But at the end of 2014, and after the huge destabilization caused by the crash of Euro-Russian relations in the Ukrainian crisis, our team is struggling to put forward a positive scenario for the coming year.

2015 will show the complete collapse of the Western world we have known since 1945. It will be a gigantic hurricane, which will blow and rock the whole planet, but the breach points are to be found in the “Western Port”, which hasn’t been a port for a long time but, as will be clearly shown in 2015, has been in the eye of the storm in fact, as we have repeatedly said since 2006. Whilst some boats will try to head offshore, the Ukrainian crisis has had the effect of bringing some of them back to port and firmly re-mooring them there. Unfortunately, it’s the port itself which is rocking the boats and it’s those with the strongest moorings which will break up first. Of course, we are thinking of Europe first and foremost, but more so Israel, the financial markets and world governance.

Of course peace is at stake, a peace which is no more than a vain word, moreover. Ask China, India, Brazil, Iran, etc., if the West still conveys any image of peace. As for democratic values, what we show serves more as a foil than a model… to the extent that the universal principle of democracy is relegated to the value of culturally relativized concepts and finishes by serving antidemocratic agendas of all ilks, in Europe and elsewhere. Yet it’s not the democratic principle that is the problem (quite the opposite is needed to reinvent ways to apply it, in partnership with the new emerging powers), but really the West’s inability to have known how to adapt its implementation to society’s new characteristics (the emergence of supranational political entities, the Internet which is transforming the social structure..)

The oil crisis is systemic because it is linked to the end of the all-oil era

Let’s return for a moment to the principal characteristics of this systemic oil crisis which we have analyzed. To quickly summarize and to highlight the systemic nature of this crisis, to better position our anticipations which follow, it’s the oil market’s world governance system OPEC, which has been undermined. The US, which was its master until around 2005 (2), has seen the arrival of the emerging nations whose levels of consumption has inevitably made them joint masters.

GEAB 90 est disponible ! Crise systémique globale 2015 – pétrole, monnaies, finance, sociétés, Moyen-Orient : Très Grande Tempête dans le  Port de l’Occident !

Oil consumption: in red, by the US, Western Europe and Japan; in blue, by the rest of the world. Source : Yardeni / Oil market intelligence.Of course, it would have been necessary to acknowledge this change by a reform of the old system of governance to put everybody in the same boat. Instead, frightened by the idea of a rise in oil prices to which the US economy ( totally dependent on oil, unlike Europe, and lacking any significant and coordinated investment in renewable energy) was unable to resist, the US decided to break any rationale of global coordination by creating a competing market, the shale market, intended to reduce prices. Unfortunately, we know what competition in terms of access to energy resources leads to… at least Europe is supposed to know (3).

GEAB N°90 is available ! Global systemic crisis 2015 –  Oil, currencies, finance, societies, the Middle East : Massive storm in the Western port!

 

US shale oil production – Source : HPDI, LLCAnother strong trend is combining with this major trend break, currently little mentioned in the media, that of the end of oil as the world economy’s primary energy source. And it is this second factor that now makes the situation totally uncontrollable. Prices are falling apart because the oil era is coming to an end and nobody can do anything about it. We anticipated this many months ago (4) : China is creating an all electric car fleet (5), and, in so doing, will turn the global car fleet into an all-electric one: once the technology has been mastered and mass production becomes inevitable, all the world will go electric. We anticipated that this transformation would be in place in less than 10 years and that, in five years, the turning point as regards consumption would be reached. But a year at least has passed since this anticipation. Speculators of all stripes are starting to see a horizon four years out (6).

In reality, « peak oil » is what LEAP calls a “successful anticipation”: putting it into perspective, has allowed the problem to be “avoided”. Fear of a shortage and a price explosion, good and bad avoidance strategies (renewable and shale), all combined with a huge economic downturn and, as a grand finale, and an ecological agenda whose resumption we will see from this year (7), and the world is “ready” to close the oil era… except that, to this, the players existentially related to this commodity will make themselves heard loud and long before disappearing.

Here again, so that our readers don’t misunderstand: for a long time oil will continue to be used to fuel the world’s engines and factories (it even has many years ahead of it again since the risk of shortage has been postponed for several decades), but the “era” of sovereign oil is ending and, of course, that constitutes a systemic change.

In the Telescope section we further examine the consequences of this systemic oil crisis, particularly on the financial markets. These financial markets, which have well “resisted” six long years of crisis, suffocating the real economy in their vice and proving the extent to which they were the crux of the problem, will not be able to survive the shock that they are about to get, from the oil industry on the one hand (a central player), and the dollar on the other (financial world’s main tool). But, as if it weren’t enough, other bombs are ready to explode…

Notes
(1) Source : LEAP/Europe2020, 15 February 2006

(2) In fact, the beginning of the rise in oil prices dates from 2003, and began to explode in 2006. But 2005 is a recurring date as soon as we analyze price increases in terms of the emerging nations’ consumption instead of the vagaries of Middle Eastern geopolitics, and generally as soon as one sees the emerging nations’ rise in power.

(3) The two world wars at the beginning of the 20th century were intrinsically linked to competition for access to energy resources (source: Cambridge Journals, 09/1968), which is why, at the end of the Second World War, the European Communities gave birth to the pooling of resources, the ECSC (source :Wikipedia ), a project which should have remained one of the lightning conductors of European construction, whilst today the Ukrainian crisis reveals the gaping hole in Europe as regards a common energy policy. And to say that some find that we suffer from too much Europe!! Actually, European construction came to a halt in 1989… busy regulating the size of cucumbers and freeing the rest: “the European cucumber”…

(4) In our recommendations last January (GEAB N°81) under the heading « China goes electric ». Source :LEAP/E2020, 15/01/2014

(5) Source : Bloomberg, 09/02/2014

(6) For those who doubt the reality of this development there is the recent and incredible decision by Germany (incredible because it’s completely counter intuitive to the current decline in oil prices) to bet everything on renewable energy and package everything which is nuclear-gas-oil-coal to get rid of it Source :Deutsche Welle, 01/12/2014

(7) Last month we noted the very tangible results achieved in promises to reduce CO2 emissions, including from the US, under Chinese leadership. And although the Lima Summit hasn’t seemed to produce much in the way of results meanwhile, it’s particularly because the poor countries are pretending to continue to believe that Western dollars are going to finance their energy transition. But in substance, the environmental agenda is very dynamic currently, essentially because it coincides with the strategic objectives for the first time of the world’s first (or second) power, China.

The Problem with Obama’s Cuba Speech

December 19th, 2014 by Matt Peppe

Six years into his Presidency, Barack Obama has finally taken steps he campaigned on in 2008 to normalize relations with Cuba. The new policy towards Cuba will include important changes including establishing formal diplomatic relations, removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and expanding trade relations. However, Obama is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. His rationale for finally abandoning the hard-line Cold War stance demonstrates his belief that the morality and legality of United States actions are beyond reproach.

“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,” Obama said in a live televised speech from the White House.

The problem with the policy is that it “failed to advance our interests,” according to Obama. When he speaks of “our interests”, he is of course referring to corporate business interests, not the public interest. Deciding an economy should belong to the population rather than unaccountable private interests is an affront to businesses that believe they have a right to operate in foreign markets and control local resources.

The socioeconomic system Cuba adopted after its successful revolution in 1959 was therefore a threat to American multinational companies. The threat was not only Cuba removing itself from the U.S. economic orbit, but serving as an example to other countries to do so themselves. Cuba had to be punished in order to stop the spread of independent decision making.

Obama’s imperialist mindset is that the United States is benevolent. He believes in American exceptionalism with “every fiber” of his being. When the country does something wrong, it is never because its decisions and actions are immoral or illegal. They are merely mistakes. This was explicit in his explanation of why the U.S. isolation of Cuba began.

“Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions,” Obama claimed.

This is brazenly dishonest historical revisionism. American officials have long claimed the embargo and the freezing of diplomatic relations were implemented to promote democracy and human rights. This discourse is transparent propaganda, meant solely for public consumption.

The only way to determine the government’s intent is to look at the internal deliberations that took place when the policy was formed. Fortunately, the documentary record exists and has been declassified. It makes clear the Cuba policy was based on anything but good intentions.

“The majority of the Cuban people support Castro. There is no effective political opposition,” wrote Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Lester D. Mallory in 1960. “The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection and hardship… every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba… a line of action which… makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

Clearly, it is morally reprehensible to attempt to induce “hunger” and “desperation” among people for exercising their right to self-determination. It is also illegal.

In 1970, the U.N. General Assembly passed Resolution 2625 which declared: “No state may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measure to coerce another State in order to obtain the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights and to secure advantages of any kind… Every state has an inalienable right to choose its political, economic, social and cultural systems, without interference in any form by another State.”

To his credit, Obama did embrace the necessity of engagement: “Now, where we disagree, we will raise those differences directly.” The principle of sovereign equality among nations is the basic foundation of international relations according to the UN Charter. However, Obama then states the reason to effect this change is a matter of pragmatism: “After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked.”

The problem with U.S. policy is not that it hasn’t worked, it is that it is fundamentally wrong. This idea is outside the range of mainstream debate. After the release last week of the Senate Torture Report, much of the discourse among politicians and in the press has been about the effectiveness of torture.

Whether or not it worked is completely irrelevant. As the Convention against Torture makes indisputably clear: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Despite this, public debate has failed to reckon with the horrific nature of the crimes authorized by American officials and carried out by agents of the state. Imagine the reaction if the crimes were instead committed by Russia or China and their press treated the issue the same way. Those media outlets would rightfully be vilified for propagandizing and serving as enablers of those crimes.

The U.S. corporate press predictably adopts the U.S. government’s ideological framework on Cuba, behaving as expected by the Chomsky-Herman propaganda model.

New York Times editorial claims that Cuba “remains a repressive police state.” In the week after the release of the Torture Report, while the U.S. is consumed with mass popular protests in major cities from coast to coast against rampant, unpunished police brutality and murder of unarmed African Americans, with the vast scope of unconstitutional NSA surveillance still being uncovered, the Times‘ accusations are laughable.

The Times goes on to claim that “the United States has been right to press for greater personal freedoms and democratic change,” despite the fact that the United States has pressed for neither. The United States has pressed for an end to socialism, Cuba’s acceptance of the Washington consensus, and an end to Cuba’s independent foreign policy. The Times is guilty of the same historical revisionism as Obama. They substitute facts with projections of American benevolence.

Meanwhile, Raul Castro has demonstrated Cuba’s continued willingness to engage without animosity the country who has carried out an invasion, decades of terrorism, and a half-century-long, unprovoked economic war.

“I have reiterated in many occasions our willingness to hold a respectful dialogue with the United States on the basis of sovereign equality,” Castro said, “in order to deal reciprocally with a wide variety of topics without detriment to the national Independence and self-determination of our people.”

“We propose to the Government of the United States the adoption of mutual steps to improve the bilateral atmosphere and advance towards normalization of relations between our two countries, based on the principles of International Law and the United Nations Charter.”

Castro rightfully declares adherence to international law and the UN Charter as the basis for how relations between the two countries should be conducted. Last year Castro said: “We don’t demand that the U.S. change its political or social system and we don’t accept negotiations over ours.” This sentiment has not been reciprocated.

Obama’s correct decision to abandon the Cold War policy towards Cuba needs to be accompanied by a recognition that the policy itself has been immoral, criminal and wrong. Period. As long as the economic blockade is not overturned by Congress, it continues to be so. The U.S. public was sold a bill of goods in the decades-long anti-Communist crusade. It’s time to stop denying this and rewriting history to justify the pursuit of Empire.

Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy, and Latin America. You can follow him on twitterRead other articles by Matt, or visit Matt’s website.

A Japanese government official has reported, “I was overwhelmed by the amount of contaminated water coming from the reactors, we must dump it in the ocean.” This isn’t such great news for the US since President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently gave their approval for “dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs.”

The Nuclear Industry calls this their “new normal,” according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The EPA has issued radiation guides called Protective Action Guides or PAGs which allows more radiation than any American has ever been exposed to. Within the guides, are instructions for evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.”

Wouldn’t the massive break down of reactor number one at Fukushima be considered a ‘radiological emergency?”

Shunichi Tanaka, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, made the comment Dec. 12 about dumping radioactive waste into the ocean.

The US governments PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period. Many experts are expecting elevated cancer rates due to these “allowable” levels of radiation exposure.

Read: Anonymous US Gov’t Expert Admits Astronomical Radiation Levels from Fukushima

The PAGs are the work of Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator for air and radiation whose nomination to serve as EPA Administrator was only approved by the Senate a few months ago.

It is suggested that these PAGs have been in the works for over two years and are just recently available for public view.

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said:

“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then [the] EPA is in for a long, dirty slog.”

 “No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”