THE GLOBALIZATION OF NATO

Author:  Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Clarity Press (2012)
Pages:  411 with complete index

Now Available: Order directly from Global Research

The world is enveloped in a blanket of perpetual conflict. Invasions, occupation, illicit sanctions, and regime change have become currencies and orders of the day. One organization – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – is repeatedly, and very controversially, involved in some form or another in many of these conflicts led by the US and its allies. NATO spawned from the Cold War. Its existence was justified by Washington and Western Bloc politicians as a guarantor against any Soviet and Eastern Bloc invasion of Western Europe, but all along the Alliance served to cement Washington’s influence in Europe and continue what was actually America’s post-World War II occupation of the European continent. In 1991 the raison d’être of the Soviet threat ended with the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless NATO remains and continues to alarmingly expand eastward, antagonizing Russia and its ex-Soviet allies. China and Iran are also increasingly monitoring NATO’s moves as it comes into more frequent contact with them.

Yugoslavia was a turning point for the Atlantic Alliance and its mandate. The organization moved from the guise of a defensive posture into an offensive pose under the pretexts of humanitarianism. Starting from Yugoslavia, NATO began its journey towards becoming a global military force. From its wars in the Balkans, it began to broaden its international area of operations outside of the Euro-Atlantic zone into the Caucasus, Central Asia, East Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian Ocean. It has virtually turned the Mediterranean Sea into a NATO lake with the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, while it seeks to do the same to the Black Sea and gain a strategic foothold in the Caspian Sea region. The Gulf Security Initiative between NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council seeks to also dominate the Persian Gulf and to hem in Iran. Israel has become a de facto member of the military organization. At the same time, NATO vessels sail the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. These warships are deployed off the coasts of Somalia, Djibouti, and Yemen as part of NATO’s objectives to create a naval cordon of the seas controlling important strategic waterways and maritime transit routes.

The Atlantic Alliance’s ultimate aim is to fix and fasten the American Empire. NATO has clearly played an important role in complementing the US strategy for dominating Eurasia. This includes the encirclement of Russia, China, Iran, and their allies with a military ring subservient to Washington. The global missile shield project, the militarization of Japan, the insurgencies in Libya and Syria, the threats against Iran, and the formation of a NATO-like military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region are components of this colossal geopolitical project. NATO’s globalization, however, is bringing together a new series of Eurasian counter-alliances with global linkages that stretch as far as Latin America. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have been formed by Russia, China, and their allies as shields against the US and NATO and as a means to challenge them. As the globalization of NATO unfolds the risks of nuclear war become more and more serious with the Atlantic Alliance headed towards a collision course with Russia, China, and Iran that could ignite World War III.


AVAILABLE TO ORDER FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

The Globalization of NATO

Author:  Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
ISBN:  978-0-9852710-2-2
Clarity Press

Year:  2012
Pages:  411 with complete index

Price: $22.95

Click to visit the Global Research ONLINE STORE


Global Research Editor’s Note

We bring to the attention of our readers this important and timely book by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, award winning author, geopolitical analyst and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

This book analyses in detail the historical evolution of NATO’s post-Cold War mandate and military interventions.

The author takes the reader across the Eurasian geopolitical chessboard, from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, to Central Asia and the Far East, through the “military corridors” of the Atlantic Alliance, the Pentagon and the Washington think tanks, where the new post-Cold War military doctrine of global warfare is decided upon.

And from the formulation of military doctrine,  Nazemroaya examines NATO’s mandate, its military campaigns, focusing on the geopolitical regions where Global NATO has extended its Worldwide grip.

The book from the outset examines the economic dimension of NATO’s military undertakings, how the latter support the imposition of deadly macroeconomic reforms on sovereign countries. War and globalization are intricately related.  Economic globalization under the helm of Wall Street and the IMF is endorsed by a global military agenda.

Nazemroaya explores how dominant economic interests are supported by the “internationalization” of NATO as a military entity, which has extended its areas of jurisdiction from the European-North Atlantic region into new frontiers. “The Globalization of NATO” endorses and sustains the Worldwide imposition of neoliberal economic doctrine.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a man of tremendous courage and conviction. Having lived through the extensive NATO bombing raids of Tripoli at the height of NATO’s humanitarian” war on Libya, the lives of others within his entourage were always more important than his own life.

It is within this frame of mind and commitment, having witnessed firsthand the horrors of NATO’s “Responsibility to Protect”, that upon returning from Libya in September 2011, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya started working relentlessly on his manuscript.

While the conclusions of Nazemroaya’s detailed analysis and investigation are by no means optimistic, this globally military agenda can be reversed when people around the world, in the true spirit of internationalism and national sovereignty, join hands in dismantling the NATO killing machine and its corporate sponsors.

That is why this book is an important landmark, a handbook for action.

Through commitment, courage and truth at all levels of society, across the land, nationally and internationally, this process of “global militarization” described by Nazemroaya, can be forcefully reversed.

At this critical juncture in our history, “the criminalization of  war” is the avenue which must be sought, as a means to instating World peace.

Can the objective of World peace be achieved? In the words of former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, read Nazemroaya’s book “before it is too late.”

Michel Chossudovsky, Montreal, October 8, 2012


REVIEWS

“The Globalization of NATO by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is simply magnificent, erudite and devoid of the ethnocentrism to which one has become so accustomed from Western authors. The book deals with what doubtless are the most important and relevant issues of the day for all those committed to saving life and protecting Mother Earth from rampant human irresponsibility and crime. There is no other book that, at this particular time, I would most heartily endorse. I think Africans, Near Eastern peoples, Iranians, Russians, Chinese, Asians and Europeans generally and all the progressive Latin American countries of today will find a much needed reinforcement and support for their peaceful ideals in this excellent must-read book.”
MIGUEL D’ESCOTO BROCKMANN, Foreign Minister of Nicaragua (1979-1990) and President of the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (2008-2009): Managua, Nicaragua.

“We are far away from the principles and objectives for which the United Nations was created and the decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal stipulating that some state actions can be considered crimes against peace. Nazemroaya’s book, in addition to reminding us that the role of the United Nations has been confiscated by NATO, elaborates the danger that the North Atlantic Treaty represents to world peace.”
JOSÉ L. GÓMEZ DEL PRADO, Chairman of the United Nations Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries (2005-2011): Ferney-Voltaire, France.

“Through carefully documented research, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya analyzes the historical and geopolitical evolution of NATO from the Cold War to the post 9/11 US- led “Global War on Terrorism.” This book is a must read for those committed to reversing the tide of war and imperial conquest by the world’s foremost military machine.”
MICHEL CHOSSUDOVSKY, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG): Montréal, Canada.

“A very timely book. Yes, US-led NATO is globalizing, like the US-led finance economy. No doubt also for it to protect the latter, the “free market.” It is a classical case of overstretch to help save the crumbling US Empire and Western influence in general, by countries most of whom are bankrupt by their own economic mismanagement. All their interventions share two characteristics. The conflicts could have been solved with a little patience and creativity, but NATO does not want solutions. It uses conflicts as raw material it can process into interventions to tell the world that it is the strongest in military terms. And, with the help of the mainstream media, it sees Hitler everywhere, in a Milosevic, a bin Laden, a Hussein, a Qaddafi, in Assad, insensitive to the enormous differences between all these cases. I hope this book will be read by very, very many who can turn this morbid fascination with violence into constructive conflict resolution.”
JOHAN GALTUNG, Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies and Sociology at the University of Oslo and Founder of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO), the Galtung- Institut, and the Transcend Network: Oslo, Norway.

“Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya’s prolific writings give us a comprehensive understanding of the character of the military thrust and it’s all out, no holds barred STRATEGIC plans and moves to invade, occupy and plunder the resources of nations, inflicting unprecedented barbaric acts on civilian populations. He is one of the prescient thinkers and writers of contemporary times who deserves to be read and acted upon by people with a conscience and concern for humanity’s future.”
VISHNU BHAGWAT, Admiral and Chief of the Naval Staff of India (1996-1998): Mumbai, India.

“This is a book really necessary to understanding the role of NATO within the frame of long-term US strategy. The Globalization of NATO by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya not only provides an articulate analysis on the Atlantic Alliance: it is the best modern text devoted to the hegemonic alliance. With this book Nazemroaya reconfirms his ability as a brilliant geopolitical analyst.”
-TIBERIO GRAZIANI, President of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Geopolitics and Auxiliary Sciences/L’Istituto di Alti Studi in Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliarie (IsAG): Rome, Italy.

“Nazemroaya is an unbelievable prolific writer. What has often amazed many is his almost nonstop writing on extremely important issues for the contemporary world and his analysis about the globalization of NATO. What amazes many of us in other parts of the world are his seemingly limitless depth, breadth and the thoroughness of his knowledge that has been repeatedly appearing in his work. We are deeply indebted to Nazemroaya’s humble, tireless and invaluable contributions through his fearless, insightful and powerful writings.”
KIYUL CHUNG, Editor-in-Chief of The 4th Media and Visiting Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University: Beijing, People’s Republic of China.

“The Journalists’ Press Club in Mexico is grateful and privileged to know a man who respects the written word and used it in an ethical way without another interest other than showing the reality about the other side of power in the world. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya gives voice to the “voiceless.” He can see the other side of the moon, the side without lights.”
CELESE SÁENZ DE MIERA, Mexican Broadcaster and Secretary-General of the Mexican Press Club: Federal District of Mexico City, Mexico.

“With his very well documented analysis, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya has conducted a remarkable decryption of the strategies implemented by NATO – in the interests of the United States, the European Union and Israel – to expand its military grip on the world, ensure its control over energy resources and transit routes, and encircling the countries likely to be a barrier or a threat to its goals, whether it be Iran, Russia or China. Nazemroaya’s work is essential reading for those that want to understand what is being played out right now on the map in all the world’s trouble spots; Libya and Africa; Syria and the Middle East; the Persian Gulf and Eurasia.”
SILVIA CATTORI, Swiss political analyst and journalist: Geneva, Switzerland.

AVAILABLE TO ORDER FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

The Globalization of NATO

Author:  Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
ISBN:  978-0-9852710-2-2
Clarity Press

Year:  2012
Pages:  411 with complete index

Price: $22.95

 

Click to visit the Global Research ONLINE STORE

Escalation Usa/Nato in Europa

April 21st, 2015 by Manlio Dinucci

Si chiama «Noble Jump» l’esercitazione Nato svoltasi il 7-9 aprile in Germania, Olanda, Repubblica Ceca e altri otto paesi europei, dove in 48 ore sono stati mobilitati migliaia di uomini della «Forza di punta» ad altissima prontezza operativa, parte della «Forza di risposta» di  30mila uomini. La seconda fase si svolgerà il 9-20 giugno in Polonia, dove saranno dispiegate truppe provenienti da Germania, Olanda, Repubblica Ceca, Norvegia e altri paesi. Si prepara così la «Trident Juncture 2015», l’esercitazione che, dal 28 settembre al 6 novembre, si svolgerà in Italia, Spagna e Portogallo con unità terrestri, aeree e navali e con forze speciali di tutti i paesi Nato. Con  25mila partecipanti, annuncia lo U.S. Army Europe, sarà «la più grande esercitazione Nato dalla caduta del Muro di Berlino», che testerà le capacità della «Forza di risposta», il cui ruolo – ha spiegato un portavoce Nato – è «rispondere a una crisi prima ancora che essa cominci», in altre parole quello della «guerra preventiva». Guiderà l’esercitazione il Jfc Naples, comando Nato (con quartier generale a Lago Patria, Napoli) agli ordini dell’ammiraglio Usa Ferguson, allo stesso tempo comandante delle Forze navali Usa in Europa e delle Forze navali del Comando Africa. Come dichiara il generale Usa Breedlove –  Comandante supremo alleato in Europa (il capo militare della Nato nominato sempre dal Presidente degli Stati uniti) – queste esercitazioni costituiscono «una chiara indicazione che la nostra Alleanza ha la capacità e volontà di rispondere alle emergenti sfide alla sicurezza sui nostri fianchi meridionale e orientale». Cioè ha la capacità e volontà, partendo dalle basi in Europa, di fare altre guerre in Nordafrica/Medioriente (dove si prepara un altro intervento militare in Libia) e nell’Europa orientale. Sul “fianco orientale” la Nato, dopo aver provocato l’esplosione della crisi ucraina, preme sempre più sulla Russia. Al largo della Scozia è in corso (11-24 aprile) la più grande esercitazione aeronavale Nato della serie «Joint Warrior», in funzione anti-Russia, con la partecipazione di oltre 50 navi da guerra e 70 cacciabombardieri di 14 paesi, compreso un gruppo navale sotto comando italiano. Nel Mar Nero, dove in marzo si è svolta una esercitazione Nato cui ha partecipato anche l’Italia, navi da guerra Usa incrociano ai limiti delle acque territoriali russe. Quando un cacciabombardiere russo, disarmato ma attrezzato per la guerra elettronica, ha sorvolato il cacciatorpediniere lanciamissili Donald Cook, il Pentagono ha protestato per «questa azione provocatoria russa che viola i protocolli internazionali». Sono invece legali, per Washington, i droni Usa Global Hawk che sorvolano il Mar Nero e l’Ucraina. Dove è arrivato da Vicenza un convoglio Usa della 173rd Airborne Brigade con armi ed equipaggiamenti per l’operazione «Fearless Guardian»: l’addestramento, per un periodo di sei mesi, di tre battaglioni (di chiara ispirazione nazista) della Guardia nazionale ucraina, effettuato da  circa 300 parà Usa. Cui si aggiungono centinaia di istruttori inviati da Gran Bretagna e Canada.  Ottawa fornisce a Kiev anche immagini ad alta definizione del suo satellite Radarsat-2 per uso militare. E la Germania? Mentre da un lato sembra differenziarsi da Washington trattando con Mosca, dall’altro partecipa alle esercitazioni Nato sotto comando Usa in funzione anti-Russia e, allo stesso scopo, arma la Lituania offrendole anche obici semoventi Panzerhaubitze 2000, che sparano 12 proiettili da 155 mm al minuto con gittata di 30-40 km. Gli stessi usati dalla Germania nella guerra Nato in Afghanistan.

Manlio Dinucci

Derechos Humanos en México: Caravana por los 43 de Ayotzinapa en Canadá

April 21st, 2015 by Mondialisation.ca à la Une

The swine flu vaccine caused severe brain damage in over 800 children across Europe, and the UK government has now agreed to pay $90 million in compensation to those victims as part of a vaccine injury settlement.

This is the same swine flu vaccine that the entire mainstream media ridiculously insists never causes any harm whatsoever. From the quack science section of the Washington Post to the big pharma sellout pages of the New York Times, every U.S. mainstream media outlet exists in a state of total vaccine injury denialism, pushing toxic vaccines that provably harm children.

“Across Europe, more than 800 children are so far known to have been made ill by the vaccine,” reports the International Business Times.

The vaccine caused narcolepsy and cataplexy in hundreds of children. Both are signs of neurological damage caused by vaccine additives which include mercury, aluminum, MSG, antibiotics and even formaldehyde.

As the IBTimes reports:

Narcolepsy affects a person’s sleeping cycle, leaving them unable to sleep for more than 90 minutes at a time, and causing them to fall unconscious during the day. The condition damages mental function and memory, and can lead to hallucinations and mental illness.

Cataplexy causes a person to lose consciousness when they are experiencing heightened emotion, including when they are laughing.

See the animated educational video here: If car companies operated like vaccine companies.

Children brain damaged in Norway, too

“Norway has seen more than 170 reported cases of children developing narcolepsy after receiving the Pandemrix vaccine,” reports the Global Post. “The government has so far paid $13 million to 86 victims, including 60 children…”

Just as in the USA and everywhere else, a contrived swine flu panic campaign was launched by the WHO and the CDC, creating widespread fear that would sell more vaccines. (Disneyland measles operation, anyone?)

As the Global Post write:

Back in 2009, the Norwegian health authorities urged everyone, not just at-risk groups, to receive vaccinations after the World Health Organization designated swine flu a pandemic.

More than 2 million Norwegians, or 45 percent of the country’s population, were given Pandemrix in an unprecedented drive. The vaccine is produced by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and was used to inoculate up to 30 million people in 47 other European countries.

Vaccine damage is Big Pharma’s route to selling more medications

Incredibly, even those children who are damaged by vaccines end up being big profit centers for the same pharmaceutical companies that damaged them in the first place.

In case after case being reported in the media, children who are damaged by defective vaccines are reported to be on multiple medications. For example, as the Global Post reports:

Tove Jensen, whose son developed severe narcolepsy after receiving the vaccine, also wants compensation from GSK.

“The situation is terrible,” she says. “He’s 100 percent disabled. We don’t know if it’s going to get better, he’s on so much medication. But we hope something will happen, that he will get his life back.”

Similarly, as the IB Times reports:

Peter Todd, a lawyer who represented many of the claimants, told the Sunday Times: “…The victims of this vaccine have an incurable and lifelong condition and will require extensive medication.”

In other words, children who are damaged by vaccines generate even more profits for Big Pharma by being damaged! It’s the perfect sinister revenue model for an industry run like a criminal mafia.

GlaxoSmithKline swine flu vaccine brain damaged medical staffers, too

“Among those affected are NHS medical staff, many of whom are now unable to do their jobs because of the symptoms brought on by the vaccine,” reports the IBTimes. “They will be suing the government for millions in lost earnings.”

The paper goes on to report:

Among [those damaged] is Josh Hadfield, 8, from Somerset, who is on anti-narcolepsy drugs costing [$20,000] a year to help him stay awake during the school day.

“If you make him laugh, he collapses. His memory is shot. There is no cure. He says he wishes he hadn’t been born. I feel incredibly guilty about letting him have the vaccine,” said his mother Caroline Hadfield, 43.

Despite a 2011 warning from the European Medicines Agency against using the vaccine on those under 20 and a study indicating a 13-fold heightened risk of narcolepsy in vaccinated children, GSK has refused to acknowledge a link.

Pharma-controlled U.S. media claims ZERO children were harmed in America

If 800 children were brain damaged by the swine flu vaccine in the UK and across Europe, how many children were damaged by the same vaccine — or other vaccines — in America?

According to the pharma-controlled lamestream media, that number is ZERO.

Vaccine Injury Denialism – a particularly dangerous form of delusional junk science — is the present-day mantra of the pharma-controlled press, which includes all the usual suspects such as the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN and so on. They simply pretend no children are ever harmed by vaccines… and they hope the U.S. public is stupid enough to believe the lie that “all vaccines are safe.”

Right now, there are 800 children in the UK whose lives have been destroyed by the swine flu vaccine and who will never lead a normal life again. Every year, tens of thousands more children are diagnosed with autism. The vaccine industry is destroying a generation of children — committing what Robert Kennedy Jr. correctly compared to a “holocaust” — while the sellout media covers it up.

How is this not a crime against children?

Shame on all of those sellout editors and professional liars in the mainstream media who cover up the truth about an industry that’s maiming and killing our children by the thousands. Do you have no sense of humanity?

Image Credits: neontommy, Flickr.

Recent Walmart store closings are not due to plumbing issues or even military exercises as some have speculated.

According to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the closure of five stores is a response to labor activism at a store in Los Angeles.

The union has filed a claim with the National Labor Relations Board and wants the government to force the corporation to rehire employees laid off during the closings.

“Walmart has targeted this store because the associates have been among the most active associates around the country to improve working conditions,” the union claim states, according to The New York Times.

Walmart, however, is sticking to the plumbing story. “We don’t believe there is a basis for an injunction that would interfere with our efforts to repair the serious plumbing issues at the five stores,” Lorenzo Lopez, a Walmart spokesman, said on Sunday

According to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2014, Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue. In 2012 five million Americans applied for 500,000 Walmart jobs. The company employees 2.2 million people worldwide and has faced numerous lawsuits and labor actions over the years.

During the 2014’s Black Friday, labor unions staged pickets and strikes at 1,600 stores in 49 states. Unions are calling for the company to pay employees $15 per hour.

The government has routinely sided with labor unions. In November 2013 the National Labor Relations Board said it had found that Walmart had pressured employees not to participate in strikes on Black Friday and had illegally disciplined workers who had engaged in strikes.

Despite the complaints of labor unions and liberal critics of Walmart’s labor practices, the store, as the largest private employer in the United States, has dramatically affected unemployment.

“Walmart is found to have substantially lowered the relative unemployment rates of blacks in those counties where it is present, but to have had only a limited impact on relative incomes after the influences of other socio-economic variables were taken into account,” an Oklahoma State University study found.

Are New Vaccine Mandates Designed to Target the Poor?

April 21st, 2015 by Joshua Krause

Ever since the measles outbreak in Disneyland, there has been a determined effort by legislators in California, to repeal the state’s current vaccine exemptions. If they succeed, the only way parents can skip their children’s vaccinations, is if there is an acceptable medical reason. As you can imagine, those who are deeply concerned over the safety and efficacy of vaccines have every reason to fear these developments.

Or do they?

Well, yes and no. No in the sense that I don’t think we are headed towards a future that forces everyone to take the jab, but the answer will likely be yes for folks who don’t have a lot of disposable income. For reasons that I will explain below, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will always be a way to avoid vaccinations for you and your family. However, it’s going to cost you.

For instance, take California’s proposed vaccine law. It doesn’t provide any harsh punishment for failing to vaccinate your children. All it says is that your child can’t attend school without the required vaccines. It doesn’t say anything about homeschooling. If you can afford to hire a personal tutor for your kids, or you make enough money to let your spouse stay home, then you can avoid this altogether.

I suspect this might become a new trend, and it won’t be restricted to the United States. In Australia, the government recently stated that if any family refuses to vaccinate their children, they will be denied medical benefits to the tune of $11,400. For a low-income family that’s a huge hit, but for the upper class that’s just a drop in the bucket.

Mind you, they didn’t say that their children will be taken by the state or their parents will be charged with child endangerment. It’s just going to cost them to keep their kids vaccine free. If these Western governments truly believed that vaccines save lives and avoiding them was dangerous, wouldn’t they be more willing imprison parents for putting their children’s lives in danger? Their half-hearted attempts to stifle vaccine free families, says it all.

Granted, in the future there will be some heavy-handed attempts to hurt families that don’t want to vaccinate. Earlier this year, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services threatened to take away a child because their parents didn’t want to give her a flu vaccine. However, does anyone believe that social services would take away a child from a rich family, with connections and easy access to legal help?

Do you see what I’m getting at here? They will always leave loopholes for the benefit of the elites, but those loopholes will filter out anyone who doesn’t have the cash. To some extent, this situation already exists in America. There are only two states that don’t allow any personal belief or religious exemptions: Mississippi and West Virginia, i.e. two of the poorest states in America. Somehow I doubt that the financial and political elite spend a whole lot of time in those states.

On that note, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the elites don’t vaccinate their children at the same rate as the middle class. Jon Rappoport pointed out last month that in New Mexico, the Los Alamos school district has the highest rate of vaccine exemptions in the state. In all likelihood, these are the children of parents who work for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

2.3% of kids in Los Alamos public schools don’t get vaccinated. Their parents have received exemptions.

That’s the highest rate of non-vaccination in the state.

We’re talking about parents who work at the US Los Alamos Labs.

People with advanced degrees in science.

People who work for the federal government.

You would think the vaccine rate in that environment would stand at 100%, no questions asked.

What do these people know? Why are they opting out of vaccinations for their kids?

Those are hard questions to answer. Very hard.

Hmm, let’s think. For example, have they done some actual research on their own, and have they decided that vaccines are unsafe and ineffective?

Let’s not forget that in California, private schools have significantly higher rates of vaccine non-compliance than their public school counterparts. There appears to be a large segment of America’s elite that doesn’t want to vaccinate their children. Do they know something the rest of us don’t? And given the power this class wields in our state, federal, and local governments, how much do you want to bet that before California passes this legislation, they will exempt private schools from the law?

By now, some of you might be asking yourselves why they would do this? Why would the poor be forced into this while the rich get a pass? As I mentioned before, this is a growing trend that is international in scope, and the truth of the matter may lie beyond our borders. If this story from Kenya is any indication, then these laws have a truly nefarious purpose behind them.

Independent laboratory testing has confirmed that a tetanus vaccine given to over 2.3 million young women in Kenya contained the HCG antigen.

HCG was developed by the WHO as a long-term contraceptive. It causes the body to attack a fetus through an antibody response, and can cause spontaneous abortions for 3 years after the woman is injected with the drug.

Dr. Muhame Ngare of Mercy Medical Centre in Nairobi said:

We sent six samples from around Kenya to laboratories in South Africa. They tested positive for the HCG antigen. They were all laced with HCG.

This proved right our worst fears; that this WHO campaign is not about eradicating neonatal tetanus but a well-coordinated forceful population control mass sterilization exercise using a proven fertility regulating vaccine. This evidence was presented to the Ministry of Health before the third round of immunization but was ignored. (source)

To me, it looks like these laws have all the trappings of a eugenics agenda. Do you honestly still believe these vaccines are safe?

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple

Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.

Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .

On Sunday evening, CBS’s “60 Minutes” presented what was pitched as a thorough examination of the infamous sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 21, 2013, with anchor Scott Pelley asserting that “none of what we found will be omitted here.” But the segment – while filled with emotional scenes of dead and dying Syrians – made little effort to determine who was responsible.

Pelley’s team stuck to the conventional wisdom from the rush-to-judgment “white paper” that the White House issued on Aug. 30, 2013, just nine days after the incident, blaming the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. But Pelley ignored contrary evidence that has emerged in the 20 months since the attack, including what I’ve been told are dissenting views among U.S. intelligence analysts.

The segment also played games with the chronology of the United Nations inspectors who had been invited to Damascus by Assad to investigate what he claimed were earlier chemical attacks carried out by Syrian rebels, a force dominated by Islamic extremists, including Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the even more brutal Islamic State.

Though Pelley starts the segment by interviewing a Syrian who claimed he witnessed a sarin attack in Moadamiya, a suburb south of Damascus, Pelley leaves out the fact that Moadimiya was the first area examined by the UN inspectors and that their field tests found no evidence of sarin. Nor does Pelley note that UN laboratories also found no sarin or other chemical agents on the one missile that the inspectors recovered from Moadamiya.

Scott Pelley, anchor of CBS Evening News

The two labs did have a dispute over whether trace elements of some chemicals found in Moadamiya might have been degraded sarin. But those disputed positives made no sense because when the UN inspectors went to the eastern suburb of Zamalka two and three days later, their field equipment immediately registered positive for sarin and the two labs confirmed the presence of actual sarin.

So, if the sarin had not degraded in Zamalka, why would it have degraded sooner in Moadamiya? The logical explanation is that there was no sarin associated with the Moadamiya rocket but the UN laboratories were under intense pressure from the United States to come up with something incriminating that would bolster the initial U.S. rush to judgment.

The absence of actual sarin from the rocket that struck Moadamiya also raises questions about the credibility of Pelley’s first witness. Or possibly a conventional rocket assault on the area ruptured some kind of chemical containers that led panicked victims to believe they too were under a chemical attack.

That seemed to be a working hypothesis among some U.S. intelligence analysts even as early as the Aug. 30, 2013 “white paper,” which was called a U.S. “Government Assessment,” an unusual document that seemed to ape the form of a “National Intelligence Estimate,” which would reflect the consensus view of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and include analytical dissents.

By going with this new creation – a “Government Assessment,” which was released by the White House press office, not the Office of Director of National Intelligence – the State Department, which was then itching for war with Syria, got to exclude any dissents to the hasty conclusions. But the intelligence analysts managed to embed one dissent as a cutline to a map which was included with the “white paper.”

The cutline read:

“Reports of chemical attacks originating from some locations may reflect the movement of patients exposed in one neighborhood  to field hospitals and medical facilities in the surrounding area. They may also reflect confusion and panic triggered by the ongoing artillery and rocket barrage, and reports of chemical use in other neighborhoods.”

In other words, some U.S. intelligence analysts were already questioning the assumption of a widespread chemical rocket assault on the Damascus suburbs – and the strongest argument for the State Department’s finger-pointing at Assad’s military was the supposedly large number of rockets carrying sarin.

Possible ‘False Flag’

However, if there had been only one sarin-laden rocket, i.e., the one that landed in Zamalka, then the suspicion could shift to a provocation – or “false-flag” attack – carried out by Islamic extremists with the goal of tricking the U.S. military into destroying Assad’s army and essentially opening the gates of Damascus to a victory by Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.

That was what investigative journalist Seymour Hersh concluded in ground-breaking articles describing the alleged role of Turkish intelligence in assisting these Islamic extremists in securing the necessary materials and expertise to produce a crude form of sarin.

In December 2013, Hersh reported that he found a deep schism within the U.S. intelligence community over how the case was sold to pin the blame on Assad. Hersh wrote that he encountered “intense concern, and on occasion anger” when he interviewed American intelligence and military experts “over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence.”

According to Hersh, “One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote.

“A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening.

“The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy.”

Despite Hersh’s legendary reputation dating back to the My Lai massacre story during the Vietnam War and revelations about CIA abuses in the 1970s, his first 5,500-word article — as well as a second article — appeared in the London Review of Books, a placement that suggests the American media’s “group think” blaming the Assad regime remained hostile to any serious dissent on this topic.

Much of the skepticism about the Obama administration’s case on the Syrian sarin attack has been confined to the Internet, including our own Consortiumnews.com. Indeed, Hersh’s article dovetailed with much of what we had reported in August and September of 2013 as we questioned the administration’s certainty that Assad’s regime was responsible.

Our skepticism flew in the face of a “group think” among prominent opinion leaders who joined in the stampede toward war with Syria much as they did in Iraq a decade earlier. War was averted only because President Barack Obama was informed about the intelligence doubts and because Russian President Vladimir Putin helped arrange a compromise in which Assad agreed to surrender his entire chemical weapons arsenal, while still denying any role in the sarin attack.

A Short-Range Rocket

Later, when rocket scientists — Theodore A. Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Richard M. Lloyd, an analyst at the military contractor Tesla Laboratories — analyzed the one home-made, sarin-laden rocket that landed in Zamalka, they concluded that it could have traveled only about two to three kilometers, meaning that it would have been fired from an area controlled by the rebels, not the government.

That finding destroyed a conclusion reached by Human Rights Watch and the New York Times, which vectored the suspected paths of the two rockets — one from Moadamiya and one from Zamalka — to where the two lines intersected at a Syrian military base about 9.5 kilometers from the points of impact. Not only did the vectoring make no sense because only the Zamalka rocket was found to contain sarin but the rocket experts concluded that it couldn’t even fly a third of the way from the military base to where it landed.

After touting its original Assad-did-it claim on the front page on Sept. 17, 2013, the Times snuck its retraction below the fold on page 8 in an article published on Dec. 29, 2013, between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

But none of these doubts were examined in any way in Pelley’s “60 Minutes” presentation. Instead, Pelley simply pointed the finger at the Syrian government, citing U.S. intelligence. Pelley said:

“The rockets were types used by the Syrian army and they were launched from land held by the dictatorship. U.S. intelligence believes the Syrian army used sarin in frustration after years of shelling and hunger failed to break the rebels.”

Pelley did note one anomaly to the conventional wisdom: Why would Assad have ordered a chemical attack outside Damascus after inviting in a team of UN inspectors to examine another site? Pelley then shrugs off that contradiction while offering no alternative scenario and leaving the clear impression that the attack was carried out by the Syrian government.

When I asked the Office of Director of National Intelligence about the “60 Minutes” segment, spokesperson Kathleen C. Butler responded with this e-mailed response:

“The intelligence community assess[es] with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. The intelligence community assesses that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely.”

In a subsequent e-mail, she added that there was “full consensus on the assessment.”  [For more details on the sarin incident, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

Clueless over Iraq

Pelley has built a highly successful CBS career by always parroting the official line of the U.S. government no matter how obviously false it is. For instance, in 2008, he conducted an interview with FBI interrogator George Piro who had questioned Iraq’s Saddam Hussein before his execution.

Pelley wondered why Hussein had kept pretending that he had weapons of mass destruction when a simple acknowledgement that they had been destroyed would have spared his country the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

“For a man who drew America into two wars and countless military engagements, we never knew what Saddam Hussein was thinking,” Pelley said in introducing the segment on the interrogation of Hussein about his WMD stockpiles. “Why did he choose war with the United States?”

The segment never mentioned the fact that Hussein’s government did disclose that it had eliminated its WMD, including a 12,000-page submission to the UN on Dec. 7, 2002, explaining how its WMD stockpiles had been destroyed. In fall 2002, Hussein’s government also allowed teams of UN inspectors into Iraq and gave them free rein to examine any site of their choosing.

Those inspections only ended in March 2003 when President George W. Bush decided to press ahead with war despite the UN Security Council’s refusal to authorize the invasion and its desire to give the UN inspectors time to finish their work.

But none of that reality was part of the faux history that Pelley delivered to the American public. He preferred the officially sanctioned U.S. account, as embraced by Bush in speech after speech, that Saddam Hussein “chose war” by defying the UN over the WMD issue and by misleading the world into believing that he still possessed these weapons.

In line with Bush’s made-up version of history, Pelley pressed Piro on the question of why Hussein was hiding the fact that Iraq no longer had WMD. Piro said Hussein explained to him that “most of the WMD had been destroyed by the UN inspectors in the ‘90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.”

“So,” Pelley asked, “why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk, why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?”

After Piro mentioned Hussein’s lingering fear of neighboring Iran, Pelley felt he was close to an answer to the mystery: “He believed that he couldn’t survive without the perception that he had weapons of mass destruction?”

But, still, Pelley puzzled over why Hussein’s continued in his miscalculation. Pelley asked:

“As the U.S. marched toward war and we began massing troops on his border, why didn’t he stop it then? And say, ‘Look, I have no weapons of mass destruction,’ I mean, how could he have wanted his country to be invaded?”

On Sunday, Pelley was reprising that role as the ingénue foreign correspondent trying to decipher the mysterious ways of the Orient.

Just as Pelley couldn’t figure why Hussein had “wanted his country to be invaded” — when no one at “60 Minutes” thought to mention that Hussein and his government had fully disclosed their lack of WMD to save their country from being invaded — Pelley couldn’t fully comprehend why the Assad regime would have launched a sarin gas attack with UN inspectors sitting in Damascus.

The possibility that the attack actually was a provocation by Al-Qaeda or Islamic State extremists — who have demonstrated their lack of compassion for innocents and who had a clear motive for getting the U.S. military to bomb Assad’s army — was something that Pelley couldn’t process. The calculation was too much for him even after last week’s disclosure that Syrian rebels had staged a 2013 kidnapping/rescue of NBC’s correspondent Richard Engel, whose abduction was falsely blamed on Assad’ allies.

Inviting a Massacre

Besides being an example of shallow reporting and shoddy journalism – using highly emotional scenes while failing to seriously investigate who was responsible – the “60 Minutes” episode could also be a prelude to a far worse human rights crime, which could follow the defeat of the Syrian army and a victory by Al-Qaeda or its spin-off, the Islamic State.

Right now, the only effective fighting force holding off that victory – and the very real possibility of a massacre of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities – is the Syrian army. Some of those Syrian Christians, now allied with Assad, are ethnic Armenians whose ancestors fled the Turkish genocide a century ago.

The recent high-profile comment by Pope Francis about the Armenian genocide can be understood in the context of the impending danger to the survivors’ descendants if the head-chopping Islamic State prevails in the Syrian civil war, the possibility that these Sunni extremists backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia might finish the job that the Ottoman Empire began a century ago.

Yet, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the American neocons are still set on the overthrow of the Assad government and continue to pretend that Obama could have averted the Syrian crisis if he had only bombed or invaded Syria several years ago.

The Washington Post’s neocon editorial page editor Fred Hiatt recited that theme in an op-ed on Monday that made a major point out of the Assad government’s alleged use of something called “barrel bombs” — as if some crude explosive device is somehow less humane than the more sophisticated weapons that were used to slaughter countless innocents by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel in Gaza and Lebanon and now Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

“Obama could have destroyed Assad’s helicopters or given the resistance the weapons to do so,” Hiatt said, arguing the neocon assertion that to have intervened earlier would have somehow prevented the rise of Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State. But that is another simplistic argument since there were terrorist elements in the Syrian civil war from the beginning and many of the so-called “moderates” who were trained and armed by the United States have since joined forces with the extremists. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Syrian Rebels Embrace Al-Qaeda.”]

The key question for Syria’s future is how can a realistic political settlement be reached between Assad’s government and whatever reasonable opposition remains. But such a complex and difficult solution is not advanced by irresponsible journalism at CBS and the Washington Post.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Dr. Tim Mousseau, USC biologist: “The declines have been really dramatic… now we see this really striking drop-off in numbers of birds as well as numbers of species of birds. So both the biodiversity and the abundance are showing dramatic impacts in these areas with higher radiation levels, even as the levels are declining.”University of South Carolina, Apr 15, 2015 (emphasis added): Dwindling bird populations in Fukushima… as several recent papers from University of South Carolina biologist Tim Mousseau and colleagues show, the avian situation there is just getting worse… They recently published a paper in the Journal of Ornithology showing results from the first three years…Many populations were found to have diminished in number as a result of the accident, with several species suffering dramatic declines… What might be most disheartening to the researchers involved, and bird-lovers in general, is how the situation is progressing in Fukushima. Despite the decline in background radiation in the area over these past four years, the deleterious effects of the accident on birds are actually increasing.

CBS News, Apr 16, 2015: Near site of Fukushima disaster, birds still in peril… birds are becoming a rarity around the damaged nuclear site… “There are dramatic reductions in the number of birds”… Mousseau told CBS News. “In terms of barn swallows in Fukushima, there had been hundreds if not thousands in many of these towns where we were working. Now we are seeing a few dozen of them left. It’s just an enormous decline.”… Around Fukushima, Mousseau predicts the worst may not be over… “So now we see this really striking drop-off in numbers of birds as well as numbers of species of birds. So both the biodiversity and the abundance are showing dramatic impacts in these areas with higher radiation levels, even as the levels are declining.” Mousseau said the reason comes down to the long-term impact of the radiation. “It takes multiple generations for the effects of mutations to be expressed…”

Journal of Ornithology, A. Møller, I. Nishiumi and T. Mousseau, March 2015: Cumulative effects of radioactivity from Fukushima on the abundance and biodiversity of birds… overall abundance and  diversity of species on average decreased with increasing levels of background radiation… the relationship became more strongly negative across years… Although there has been great public interest concerning the ecological, genetic and potential health consequences of the Fukushima radiological disaster, basic research to date has been surprisingly limited… Recent seminal studies of butterflies exposed to radioactive contaminants associated with the Fukushima disaster found strong evidence for increased mutation rates, developmental abnormalities and population effects as a direct consequence of exposure to radionuclides… Murase et al. (2015) made an equally compelling case for radiation having a negative impact on reproductive performance in the decline of Japanese goshawks.

Environmental Indicators (Journal), A. Møller and T. Mousseau, 2015: Many species occur both at Chernobyl and Fukushima, allowing a test of similarity in the effect of radiation on abundance….among the 14 species occurring at both sites [the] slope of the relationship between abundance and radiation for the 14 common species was… much stronger at Fukushima… [Since 2011] the effects of radiation on abundance became much more severe.

Watch the researchers bird counting in Fukushima at a “very hot and quiet site”

The annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank held in Washington over the weekend comprised the treasurers and central bankers, together with financial experts and analysts, from all the major capitalist economies. However not a single proposal was advanced from this high-level meeting to alleviate, let alone resolve, the mounting problems besetting global capitalism.

The reason is not hard to find. The meetings were dominated by the ongoing disintegration of the very structures of the post-war economic order of which the IMF and the World Bank have constituted two major pillars.

While it was not officially on the agenda, the announcement by China that it had secured the agreement of 57 countries to become founding members of its proposed Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was a hot topic of discussion in the backrooms and corridors, especially at the World Bank.

The IMF and World Bank have been the two most prominent institutions reflecting the economic primacy of the US in the post-war world. But the establishment of the AIIB, and the decision of major economic powers, including Britain, France and Germany, to sign up is an expression of major shifts in the world economy and the position of the US within it.

A New York Times article headlined “At Global Economic Gathering, US Primacy is Seen as Ebbing,” published on the eve of the meetings, captured some of the mood. In an interview with the NYT, Arvind Subramanian, the chief economic advisor to the Indian government, said the US was almost handing over legitimacy to the rising powers. “People can’t be too public about these things, but I would argue this is the single most important issue of these spring meetings.”

The article went on to cite comments made by former treasury secretary and a top adviser in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, Lawrence Summers, that the inability of Washington to prevent key allies from joining the AIIB signalled “the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system.”

US treasury secretary Jack Lew disputed the notion that there was any decline in the American position, saying there was a lot of “noise in Washington” and this occasion was no exception “but the United States’ voice is heard quite clearly in gatherings like this.”

It may well be, but talk is cheap. The fact remains that the US is unable to offer any economic measures to boost the global economy in the way that it once could. This is under conditions where, as the main document prepared for the meeting, the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO) drew out, lower growth, and even stagnation, is becoming the “new normal.” The WEO was accompanied by the IMF’s Global Financial Stability report, which showed that far from lessening, financial risks are on the increase.

Those risks are certain to be increased by another major issue that dominated unofficial discussion—the looming prospect that Greece may default on its loans, possibly as early as the middle of next month.

The official mantra within the euro zone is that the financial risks posed by a Greek exit are not as severe as they were in 2012. This is largely because the outcome of the austerity measures imposed under the so-called troika has been to take Greek debt off the hands of the private banks and transfer it to the European Central Bank and the IMF.

In the lead up to the meeting and during its sessions, the IMF and European financial authorities made clear there would be no accession to calls by the Greek government for some relief. In fact, the Financial Times has reported that in private and off-the-record discussions some European government representatives were in favour of pushing Greece out of the euro zone.

The hard line against Greece was laid down by IMF managing director Christine Lagarde. Adopting the tone of a school ma’am lecturing an errant student, she said: “We have been able to express and explain the policy of the IMF in terms of payments delays and give the precedents and history of that to Mr Vourafakis [the Greek finance minister].”

Speaking at a press conference during the Washington talks, ECB president Marion Draghi said the euro zone was much better equipped than it had been in the past to deal with a Greek crisis and sought to downplay the risks of financial contagion.

However, he added: “We are certainly entering into uncharted waters if the crisis were to precipitate, and it is very premature to make any speculation about it.”

Summing up the American position, Lew warned that a crisis in Greece would place a cloud of uncertainty over the European and global economies. “I do not think anyone can predict how markets will respond to dramatic changes in circumstances,” he said. “We have been clear in our conversation with all parties there is an urgent need to come together around a comprehensive approach.”

While the US views the prospect of a European crisis with alarm because of its impact on the American economy it is not able to significantly intervene. That is a measure of its economic decline. Gone are the days when a crisis would see the US convening an international economic summit to hammer out measures to overcome it.

In fact there was considerable discussion over whether US financial policy may contribute to financial instability, when the Federal Reserve begins to increase official interest rates. In 2013, indications that the Fed was moving to wind back its program of asset purchases—quantitative easing—brought a sharp movement of funds out of emerging markets in what was dubbed a “taper tantrum.”

In the lead up to last weekend’s meeting, the director of the IMF’s monetary and capital markets department, José Viñals, warned that there could be a “super taper tantrum” as the Fed moved closer to lifting official rates from their present near-zero level.

“This is going to take place in uncharted territory,” he said. “Markets could be increasingly susceptible to episodes in which liquidity suddenly vanishes and volatility spikes.”

However, despite the warnings of these dangers, nothing emerged from the IMF-World Bank meeting to suggest that financial authorities have any measures to meet them.

The horrific death toll of African and Middle Eastern refugees and migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe is a damning indictment of all the major imperialist powers, and most particularly the United States.

The American president, Barack Obama, and his former secretary of state, Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, have blood up to their elbows. They set the present catastrophe in motion through brutal wars for regime change waged under the hypocritical and discredited banner of “human rights.”

At least three more boats packed with refugees from North Africa and the Middle East were reported to be in distress in the Mediterranean on Monday, with a minimum of 23 more people said to have drowned.

This adds to the many hundreds of people, perhaps 1,400, who have lost their lives over the past week in a desperate bid to escape military violence by the US and its European allies, civil wars stoked by Washington and the European Union, and pervasive poverty exacerbated by the machinations of imperialism in the region.

On Monday, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said distress calls had been received from an inflatable life raft carrying 100 to 150 migrants and a second boat with some 300 people aboard. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said a caller reported that 20 people died when one of the vessels sank in international waters.

In a separate incident, at least three migrants, including a child, died when a boat, apparently coming from Turkey, ran aground off the Greek island of Rhodes. Video footage showed the wooden boat, with people crowded on the deck, heaving in the Aegean Sea just off the island. Eyewitnesses told the local radio station that there were many Syrians, but also people from Eritrea and Somalia.

The latest drownings follow the deaths of close to 950 people on Sunday in the sinking of a refugee boat off of Libya. According to the Italian Coast Guard, the completely overloaded boat capsized about 130 miles off the Libyan coast.

“We were 950 people on board, including 40 to 50 children and 200 women,” a survivor from Bangladesh told the Italian news agency ANSA. Many people were trapped in the hold of the ship and drowned under horrible circumstances. “The smugglers had closed the doors and stopped them leaving,” said the man.

Over 500 more people died the previous week in two separate sinkings of boats attempting to reach Europe across the Mediterranean.

Since the beginning of the year, at least 1,700 people attempting to immigrate to Europe have died in transit, 50 times the number for the same period last year. According to the IOM, the number of people dying in the attempt to reach the shores of Europe rose by more than 500 percent between 2011 and 2014.

Of course, 2011 was the year that the US and its NATO allies, principally France and Britain, launched their war for regime change in Libya, under the fabricated pretext that they were intervening to prevent a massacre by the government of Muammar Gaddafi in the eastern city of Benghazi.

This “humanitarian” mission initiated a six-month US-NATO bombing campaign that killed at least 10 times the number who died in the scattered fighting between government troops and armed rebels that had preceded it. This imperialist intervention, which utilized Islamist militias with ties to Al Qaeda as its proxy ground forces, left Libya descending rapidly into chaos and destruction.

Nearly two million Libyan refugees—more than a quarter of the population—have been forced to flee to Tunisia to escape an unending civil war between rival Islamist militias and two competing governments, one based in Tripoli and the other in the eastern city of Tobruk. According to the web site Libya Body Count, some 3,500 people have been killed just since the beginning of 2014—three years after the US-NATO intervention.

The escalating barbarism in Libya has included mass executions. The latest, made public in a video released Sunday by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was of some 30 Ethiopian migrants. This follows by less than two months the similar mass beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians at the hands of ISIS, which has seized Libya’s eastern port city of Derna as well as parts of the city of Sirte.

There were no such mass sectarian murders in Libya before the US-NATO war for regime change, nor for that matter did Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militias exist as any more than a marginal force. These elements were promoted, armed and backed by massive airpower after the major imperialist powers decided to topple and murder Gaddafi and carry out a new rape of Libya.

The disastrous consequences of this predatory neocolonial intervention are now undeniable. It is only one in a growing number of imperialist wars and interventions in the oil-rich Middle East and North Africa that have destroyed entire societies and turned millions into refugees. These include the wars in Iraq, Syria and now Yemen, as well as interventions by the imperialist powers or their regional proxies in Mali, Somalia and Sudan.

According to Amnesty International, the escalating conflicts in Africa and the Middle East have “led to the largest refugee disaster since the Second World War.” Amnesty estimates that 57 million people have been forced to flee worldwide in the last year, 6 million more than in 2012.

The American press, led by the New York Times, writes of refugees fleeing poverty and violence in the Middle East and North Africa without so much as mentioning the actions of the United States and its European allies that have caused the humanitarian catastrophe. What is unfolding in the Mediterranean is not a tragedy; it is an imperialist war crime.

A Palestinian woman waves a flag in front of Israeli occupation forces during a Land Day protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, 28 March. Land Day commemorates Israel’s violent suppression of protests by Palestinians against government land expropriations in the Galilee in 1976. (Shadi Hatem / APA images)

The inability — or unwillingness — of both the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-led administration in Gaza to provide a relatively acceptable example of good governance based on giving ordinary people a say in decisions that affect them means that serious soul-searching is required among those holding leadership positions in Palestine.

The alternative to the Fatah-Hamas rift is not, as both parties argue, new elections for the PA’s presidency and the Palestinian Legislative Council, within the framework of the disastrous Oslo accords.

Rather, it is a form of mass democracy, in which all Palestinian refugees (living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, inside present-day Israel and in the diaspora) can participate by taking common action for broader goals.

Israel must be clearly told that the single demand of Palestinians is for a true, multi-party democracy throughout historic Palestine based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Proposals made by the main Palestinian parties until now have not, unfortunately, been convincing to those living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — one third of the Palestinian people.

Racist solution

The crisis in Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, has exposed the PLO and other organizations that claim to speak on behalf of Palestinians as inefficient, incompetent and powerless and — most importantly — unable to come up with a unifying political vision around which the entire Palestinian people can rally.

Such a vision would not coexist with Oslo and its logic of the so-called “two-state solution.” That logic has led to a Jewish state on 78 percent of historic Palestine, Jewish-only settlements on more than 60 per cent of the West Bank and a concentration camp in the Gaza Strip.

This racist solution — camouflaged as the minimum that “both parties” could agree to, regardless of the rights of more than six million refugees living in the diaspora and 1.7 million Palestinians living as third class citizens in Israel — has posed a serious challenge to the so-called Palestinian national program.

This solution has created a bantustan in Palestine — one that the chiefs of the infamous South African “independent homelands” with their Pretoria-based white apartheid masters would have found “reasonable and fair” since it guarantees the ethnonational identities of the parties involved.

What has been totally overlooked is the nature of Israel as a settler-colonial entity that has, like apartheid South Africa, colonized the land and obliterated the basic rights of the indigenous population. But in addition to its institutionalized apartheid policies, Israel has gone on to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, with the complicity of hypocritical Western governments and the UN.

Have Palestinians been abandoned?

Have Palestinians lost hope? Has their leadership abandoned them since 1993, with the signing of the Oslo accords?

Do Yarmouk refugees still think that the PLO is their “sole, legitimate representative?”

Are Palestinians in Gaza, after three massive Israeli attacks in six years, and an ongoing medieval siege, being called on to succumb to Israel and kiss the hands of the so-called international community and its aid organizations which have failed to rebuild a single home of the thousands that were destroyed by Israel seven months ago?

Are Palestinians supposed to go on negotiating with the incoming fascist government of Israel headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, knowing very well that the next Israeli massacre is going to be far worse than the previous ones?

It is time for the Palestinian liberation struggle to adopt tactics that have been successful against racist, settler-colonial ideologies in the American South and South Africa. Without serious intervention from freedom-loving nations, civil society, conscientious people, and internal mass mobilization in South Africa, Nelson Mandela would have died in jail and South Africa would probably still be an apartheid state.

Making Israel helpless

Hence, the only route we, in Palestine, can see to end Zionist atrocities committed against unarmed civilians is in the growing movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Israel may have one of the world’s strongest armies and be the largest recipient of US military aid, yet it will find itself helpless against the will of ordinary people who have decided to boycott its products and its racist institutions.

No government can force its citizens to buy Israeli goods or its artists to perform in Tel Aviv, the Middle East’s equivalent to Sun City during South Africa’s apartheid era. The Palestinian-led BDS movement, launched in 2005, has continued to grow and has gained unstoppable momentum around the world.

Ordinary Palestinians have realized that a colonized mind cannot and will not liberate Palestine; a decolonization of the Palestinian mind must precede the decolonization of the land.

And that is precisely why the Oslo accords have failed Palestinians. They have kept Palestinian leaders in both the Fatah and Hamas camps trapped behind the façade of false “independence,” “dialogue,” and “coexistence” based on Palestinian subordination to the white, Ashkenazi master.

It is time for the current Fatah and Hamas leaderships to catch up with the people of Palestine who have roundly rejected the Oslo accords and remained steadfast in their determination to regain their lost land. Those who wish to lead Palestinians need to embody this determination and to represent it as the inspiring vision that it is.

It is not a vision of weakness or submission at the negotiating table, but rather an expression of the will of a people who will not rest until they get back what is rightfully theirs.

It is an expression of true democracy.

Haidar Eid is an independent political commentator from the Gaza Strip, Palestine.

Migrant workers in Qatar. Photo courtesy Sherpa

Sherpa, a French NGO, has asked courts to investigate Vinci, a French construction company, for violation of migrant workers rights in Qatar. QDVC, a Vinci subsidiary, has €2.2 billion ($2.3 billion) in infrastructure contracts for the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament including a new subway and an orbital highway.

QDVC is partially owned by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the government sovereign wealth fund, which in turn owns a block of Vinci’s shares. Some 9,000 workers are employed by the company in Qatar.

The complaint was filed with the public prosecutor of Nanterre, a Parisian suburb, against Vinci’s Construction Grand Projets division. Laetitia Liebert, managing director of Sherpa, says that the organization has obtained signed complaints from as many as 15 workers.

The organization says that the migrants were forced to work an average of 66 hours a week in stifling heat under dangerous conditions. Laborers were housed eight to a room and frequently had their passports taken away so that they could not escape.

It is modern slavery,” Sandra Cossart, a Sherpa lawyer, told the Associated Press. “Modern slavery does not consist of shackling and whipping workers. It is subtler: the penal code defines a vulnerable population, under the threat of an employer and extreme economical dependency, as having no choice but to accept the deplorable working conditions and therefore renew its contract,” the organization said in an official statement.

Such working conditions are relatively commonplace in the Middle East where migrants make up the majority of the working population – beginning from unskilled jobs like janitorial and food service to upper level management positions. Workers from south and south east Asia often work for a pittance in order to send money home to support their families. Qatar has some of the highest numbers – 94 percent of employees are migrants.

Qatar has recently come under the spotlight because of the frenetic pace of work on vast new construction projects that have been commissioned for the prestigious World Cup soccer tournament in seven years time. Investigations by the Guardian newspaper and Amnesty International have both documented abuses by workers.

The government has had a hard time denying these claims – a report by DLA Piper, an Anglo-American law firm, on behalf of the Qatari government, estimated that between two and three worker die every day on the job in Qatar because of the pace of the summer work at temperatures that soar above 50 Celsius (122 F).

Vinci categorically denies the allegations. “We have repeatedly welcomed unions, international NGOs and journalists onto our building sites,” the company said in a press statement. “They have ascertained that we do more than merely comply with local labour law and respect fundamental rights. All QDVC employees are free to retrieve their passports at any time, and we strictly observe working hours and rest time.”

But if Vinci is found guilty by French courts, Sherpa will have grounds for a lawsuit.

“Under European law, European firms can be sued for serious labor violations in their supply chain abroad,” Nicholas McGeehan of Human Rights Watch told the Associated Press. “Where Qatar and the other Gulf states are concerned, it’s probably more a question of when a European construction firm gets sued rather than if.”

Vinci has announced that it will counter-sue Sherpa for libel but the NGO is unbowed,

“We will not cave in easily to pressure,” Sherpa wrote in a press statement. “Since filing our complaint, many employees of Vinci’s subcontractors who complained about Vinci’s practices have reached out to us expressing their support. One of these employees reported that s/he was also threatened with a defamation suit.”

Meanwhile, almost 5,000 people have signed a petition to urge Christiane Taubira-Delannon, the French minister of justice, to open an investigation into Vinci.

Neocon Think Tank Proposes US Proxy Army to Control Syria

April 21st, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

The Atlantic Council is a hawkish right-wing think tank.  It was founded in 1961 to support NATO’s killing machine. It’s one of many similar groups in America threatening world peace and stability. Its solution for ending Obama’s war on Syria is escalated war. It proposes what it calls a Syrian National Stabilization Force (SNSF) - code language for US-controlled conquering and occupying army.

It believes the way for sustainable peace in Syria is through overwhelming military might – featuring “a robust, (US proxy) three-division stabilization force of 50,000 Syrians”, [a private mercenary force]  established to act on Washington’s behalf.

It wants a Syrian Advisory Task Force (SATF) composed of pro-Western nationals willing to serve US interests.

It says “there is no political solution to the Syrian conflict unless there is a military component” waging no-holds-barred war.

Its Syrian solution applies to all US direct and proxy war theaters.

Washington and Western allies must lead the way, it urges – so America can gain another subservient client state while eliminating an Israeli rival at the same time.

It advocates US-led “cooperation, engagement, and a clear coherent discourse between Western, regional, and Syrian military and political actors – and the message of commitment projected by putting the train-and-equip program on steroids – can create new dynamics on the ground, build popular appeal to the SNSF’s mission and goal, and set the stage for peace in Syria” by continuing to rape the country en route to plundering it and exploiting its people.

It wants President Bashar al-Assad overthrown. It wants Syrians having no say over who’ll lead them.

It wants Washington alone deciding. It wants US-controlled stooge governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.

Neocons think one way. They want unlimited wealth, power and privilege. They want unchallenged global dominance.

They want control over world resources and markets. They want populations exploited for profit.

They deplore peace. The support endless wars. They believe millions of corpses are a small price to pay for remaking the world in their own image.

They and likeminded lunatics in Washington risk the unthinkable – possible life-ending nuclear war.

A Final Comment

The New York Times says US arms sales fuel Middle East wars. Saudis and other regional belligerents use American weapons and munitions.

They “stockpiled American military hardware…” They’re now using it and want more.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia spent over $80 billion for weapons and munitions. It’s the world’s fourth largest defense market.

Other regional countries are spending billions of dollars for all sorts of advanced weapons.

The Middle East is awash with implements of death. The Times omits what’s most important to explain.

It says nothing about US/Israeli responsibility for all regional conflicts – using local allies to wage proxy wars along with takfiri-recruited death squads.

The road to Middle East peace and stability is eliminating America’s presence. It’s holding Israel accountable for endless high crimes against Palestinians.

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.

by Countercurrents.org

At least 3.4 million people have been physically or economically displaced by World Bank-backed projects between 2004 and 2013, estimates an investigative report. The true figure is likely higher, because the bank often fails to count or undercounts the number of people affected by its projects.

Nearly all of the 3.4 million displaced people live in Africa or one of three Asian countries: Vietnam, China and India, said the report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), The Huffington Post and more than 20 news organizations. The ICIJ analyzed World Bank records.

For more than three decades, the World Bank has maintained a set of “safeguard” policies that it claims have brought about a more humane and democratic system of economic development. It is claimed that governments that borrow money from the bank can’t force people from their homes without warning. Families evicted to make way for dams, power plants or other big projects must be resettled and their livelihoods restored.

However, the investigation found:

The World Bank-funded projects forced the displaced people from their homes, taking their land or damaging their livelihoods.

The World Bank has regularly failed to live up to its own policies for protecting people harmed by projects it finances.

The World Bank and its private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corp., have financed governments and companies accused of human rights violations such as rape, murder and torture. In some cases the lenders have continued to bankroll these borrowers after evidence of abuses emerged.

Ethiopian authorities diverted millions of dollars from a World Bank-supported project to fund a violent campaign of mass evictions.

From 2009 to 2013, World Bank Group lenders pumped $50 billion into projects graded the highest risk for “irreversible or unprecedented” social or environmental impacts — more than twice as much as the previous five-year span.

More than 50 journalists from 21 countries spent nearly a year documenting the bank’s failure to protect people moved aside in the name of progress. Thousands of World Bank records were analyzed, hundreds of people were interviewed and report were collected from the ground in Albania, Brazil, Ethiopia, Honduras, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Kosovo, Nigeria, Peru, Serbia, South Sudan and Uganda.

In these countries and others, the investigation found, the bank’s lapses have hurt slum dwellers, hardscrabble farmers, impoverished fisherfolk, forest dwellers and indigenous groups — leaving them to fight for their homes, their land and their ways of life, sometimes in the face of intimidation and violence.

The report said:

The bank’s commitment is to “do no harm” to people or the environment.

But the World Bank, the globe’s most prestigious development lender, has broken its promise.

Over the past decade, the bank has regularly failed to enforce its rules, with devastating consequences for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet.

The investigation found:

The World Bank and IFC have also been boosting support for mega-projects, such as oil pipelines and dams that the lenders acknowledge are most likely to cause “irreversible” social or environmental harm.

The report said:

The World Bank often neglects to properly review projects ahead of time to make sure communities are protected, and frequently has no idea what happens to people after they are removed. In many cases, it has continued to do business with governments that have abused their citizens, sending a signal that borrowers have little to fear if they violate the bank’s rules, according to current and former bank employees.

“There was often no intent on the part of the governments to comply — and there was often no intent on the part of the bank’s management to enforce,” said Navin Rai, a former World Bank official who oversaw the bank’s protections for indigenous peoples from 2000 to 2012. “That was how the game was played.”

In March, after ICIJ and HuffPost informed World Bank officials that the news outlets had found “systemic gaps” in the institution’s protections for displaced families, the bank acknowledged that its oversight has been poor, and promised reforms.

“We took a hard look at ourselves on resettlement and what we found caused me deep concern,” Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank’s president, said in a statement.

Between 2004 and 2013, the World Bank and its private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corp., committed to lend $455 billion to bankroll nearly 7,200 projects in developing countries.

Over the same span, people affected by World Bank and IFC investments lodged dozens of complaints with the lenders’ internal review panels, alleging the lenders and their borrowers failed to live up to World Bank and IFC safeguard rules.

Studies show that forced relocations can rip apart kinship networks and increase risks of illness and disease. Resettled populations are more likely to suffer unemployment and hunger, and mortality rates are higher. Cases involving evictions have drawn the most attention, but the most common hardships suffered by people living in the path of World Bank projects involve lost or diminished income.

Following are few cases:

Nigeria

In Lagos, Nigeria, the World Bank’s ombudsman, the Inspection Panel, said bank management “fell short of protecting the poor and vulnerable communities against forceful evictions.” Bank officials should have paid better attention to what was going on in Badia East, the panel said, given Lagos authorities’ long history of bulldozing slums and forcing people from their homes. One year after the evictions, the bank loaned Lagos authorities $200 million to support the state government’s budget.

The World Bank said it was “not a party to the demolition” and that it advised the Lagos government to negotiate with displaced people, leading to compensation for most of those who said they’d been harmed.

India

On India’s northwest coast, members of a historically oppressed Muslim community claim that heated water spewing from a coal-fueled power plant has depleted fish and lobster stocks in the once-fertile gulf where they make their living. The IFC loaned Tata Power, one of India’s largest companies, $450 million to help build the plant.

In India, the IFC’s internal ombudsman found that the lender had breached its policies by not doing enough to protect the large fishing community living in the shadow of the coal power plant it financed on the Gulf of Kutch. With Kim’s approval, IFC’s management rejected many of the ombudsman’s findings and defended the actions of its corporate client.

Albania

In 2007, residents of Jale, a tiny Albanian beach hamlet on the Ionian Sea, found themselves in the path of a coastal cleanup effort backed by a $17.5 million loan from the World Bank. More than a dozen poor families lived in Jale, many in homes with add-ons and extra floors they rented to vacationers.

Albanian authorities had other plans for the seaside. They saw Jale as an ideal spot for a high-end resort to lure tourists to the country. They decided to use the coastal restoration project — which was managed by the son-in-law of Sali Berisha, Albania’s prime minister at the time — as a vehicle for turning the plan into a reality.

Before dawn one April morning, dozens of police officers streamed into the beach community, heading for structures previously identified in photos taken during aerial surveys paid for by the World Bank. The police rousted residents from their beds and forced them from their homes. Demolition crews leveled entire houses or tore down additions that the government said had been put up without proper permits.

Sanie Halilaj cried as work crews pulled down half of the house she had shared with her husband for more than half a century.

“When you lose a loved one, someone consoles you,” the 74-year-old said in a recent interview. “But when you lose your home, there is no consolation.”

In Jale, most residents still haven’t received payment from the government for what they lost, even though the World Bank has covered their legal costs. At the bank, oversight remains weak.

Brazil

In a drought-haunted region of Brazil, farm families pushed aside by another World Bank-backed dam say that their lives haven’t been improved.

Thirty-five families live in a tiny, government-built relocation village called Gameleira, named after the dam and reservoir that forced them to leave their homes along the Mundaú River.

In their old homes, they could take water from wells and the river itself, but the relocation village has no fresh water source. A World Bank report acknowledged a delay in getting water access for the new village, but said the village’s water issues had been solved by late 2012.

The villagers say that’s not true. They are still waiting, four years after they were forced to relocate, for local authorities to keep their promise to build a small pipeline to draw water from the new reservoir to the relocation village. Meanwhile, water from the reservoir is being piped to urban areas.

A well in the village produces salty water and, even with desalination equipment, each family is limited to 36 liters of water a day. Families supplement their supply by buying from commercial vendors, sometimes spending as much as a third of their modest incomes.

These purchases provide them enough water to irrigate small gardens of yuca, beans and corn. If they want to plant cash crops — such as cashews — they have to wait for rain, which hardly ever comes.

“We feel that we are suffering so that people from the city can have water,” 39-year-old Francisco Venílson dos Santos, a farmer and father of four boys and two girls, said. “They abandoned us here.”

In a written statement, the World Bank said it is satisfied the village was provided an adequate supply of water “both in terms of quantity and quality.”

Ethiopia

The mass evictions of the devoutly Christian Anuak people from Ethiopia were enabled by money from the World Bank, former officials say.

In Ethiopia, the World Bank’s Inspection Panel found the bank had violated its own rules by failing to acknowledge an “operational link” between a bank-funded health and education initiative and a mass relocation campaign carried out by the Ethiopian government. In 2011, soldiers carrying out the evictions targeted some villagers for beatings and rapes, killing at least seven.

Peru

Victor Mendoza, the president of a farming co-op near the sprawling Yanacocha gold mine in northern Peru, with his 10-year-old son. The mine, built two decades ago with the financial backing of the International Finance Corp., the private-lending arm of the World Bank, is deeply unpopular in this region. Farmers like Mendoza claim it is polluting their water supply and threatening the health of their families and livestock. Ben Hallman / The Huffington Post

Promise to do “better”

“We must and will do better,” said David Theis, a World Bank spokesman, in response to the reporting team’s questions.

Yet even as it promised reforms to its procedures, the bank has proposed sweeping changes to the policies that underlie them. The bank is now in the middle of a rewrite of its safeguards policy that will set its course for decades to come.

Some current and former World Bank officials warn that the proposed revisions will further undermine the bank’s commitment to protecting the people it was created to serve. The latest draft of the new policy, released in July 2014, would give governments more room to sidestep the bank’s standards and make decisions about whether local populations need protecting, they say.

“I am saddened to see now that pioneering policy achievements of the bank are being dismantled and downgraded,” said Michael Cernea, a former high-ranking bank official who oversaw the bank resettlement protections for nearly two decades. “The poorest and most powerless will pay the price.”

Many bank managers, insiders say, define success by the number of deals they fund. They often push back against requirements that add complications and costs.

Daniel Gross, an anthropologist who worked for the bank for two decades as a consultant and staff member, said in-house safeguards watchdogs have “a place at the table” in debates over how much the bank is required to do to protect people. But amid the push to get projects done, they’re frequently ignored and pressed to “play ball and get along,” he said.

In an internal survey conducted last year by bank auditors, 77 percent of employees responsible for enforcing the institution’s safeguards said they think that management “does not value” their work. The bank released the survey in March, at the same time that it admitted to poor oversight of its resettlement policy.

“Safeguards are irrelevant for managers,” said one staffer who was surveyed for the report.

A 2014 internal World Bank review found that in 60 percent of sampled cases, bank staffers failed to document what happened to people after they were forced from their land or homes.

Seventy percent of the cases sampled in the 2014 report lacked required information about whether anyone had complained and whether complaints were resolved, indicating the bank’s mechanisms for dealing with grievances were “box-checking” exercises that “existed on paper but not in practice,” the in-house reviewers wrote.

These “sizeable gaps in information” indicate “significant potential failures in the bank’s system for dealing with resettlement,” the report said. “The inability to confirm that resettlement has been satisfactorily completed poses a reputational risk for the World Bank.”

Since 2004, World Bank estimates indicate that at least a dozen bank-supported projects physically or economically displaced more than 50,000 people each.

Kim in the system

In July 2012, an unconventional leader took over as the World Bank’s new president. Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American physician known for his work fighting AIDS in Africa, became the first World Bank president whose background wasn’t in finance or politics.

Two decades before, Kim had joined protests in Washington, D.C., calling for the World Bank to be shut down altogether for valuing indicators like economic growth over assistance to poor people.

Human rights advocates and bank staffers working on safeguards hoped that Kim’s appointment would signal a shift toward greater protections for people affected by World Bank projects.

In March, Kim said he was concerned about “major problems” in the bank’s oversight of its resettlement policies. He announced an action plan calling for greater independence for the bank’s safeguards watchdogs and a 15 percent funding boost for safeguards enforcement.

But while Kim and other bank officials have acknowledged general shortcomings, they have consistently denied that the bank shares blame for violent or wrongful evictions carried out by its borrowers.

Kim said that while “we could have done more” to help the evicted communities, the bank was ultimately not at fault.

United Nations human rights officials have written World Bank President Kim to say they’re concerned that the growing ability of borrowers to access other financing has spurred the bank to join a “race to the bottom” and push its standards for protecting people even lower.

In both Ethiopia and India, the World Bank Group declined to direct its clients to fully compensate the affected communities.

In response to complaints about the Badia East evictions in Nigeria, the World Bank embraced a shortcut that fell short of its promise that people affected by projects will be fully compensated for their losses.

Internal emails obtained by ICIJ indicate that by early 2014, the Inspection Panel’s chair, Eimi Watanabe, was already pushing to make sure that the panel would not investigate the World Bank’s role in the case.

“Pl[ease] issue notice soonest before it unravels,” Watanabe wrote on Feb. 6, 2014.

Watanabe’s directive didn’t immediately kill the investigation, but over the following months the panel made it clear that it didn’t want to dig deeper into the World Bank’s actions.

Watanabe did not respond to ICIJ’s questions about the Lagos case.

Copyright Countercurrents.org 2015

Fearing the Loss of Hegemony: The Concept of US Retreat

April 21st, 2015 by Binoy Kampmark

“A hegemon is supposed to solve international crises, not cause them.” – Christopher Layne, The American Conservative, May 1, 2010

Nothing upsets those drunk on imperialist virtue than the fact it might end.  Such romances with power do have a use-by-date, going off like old fruit. Eventually, the crippling contradictions will win through in the end. The days of the US empire are numbered – but then again, they always were.

The recent round of spring meetings at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank flutter with suggestions that American economic power is being shaded, be it by the republic’s own dysfunction, or the emergence of other powers like China.  “People can’t be too public about these things,” argues Arvind Subramanian, chief economic advisor to the Indian government, “but I would argue this is the single most important issue at these spring meetings.”[1]

This would come as a surprise for some.  The various theorists on international theory, many slumming at The Weekly Standard, form the praetorian guard of arm chair defenders of American virtue and power.  Max Boot, writing a piece for the magazine in October 2001, typified this by arguing that the attacks of the previous month were “a result of insufficient American involvement and ambition; the solution is to be more expansive in our goals and more assertive in their implementation.”[2]

The problem is Barack Obama.  They see the Obama administration as a regime in retreat, which is the theme of Bret Stephens near fictional work.  Indeed, America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming World Disorder already gives its readers two issues to stumble over: that there is an “isolationism” to speak of, and that disorder would be a genuine problem.

The first issue.  For Stephens, the Obama retreat is reflected by the choice made by the president when he “came to office determined to scale down America’s global commitments for the sake of what he likes to call ‘nation building at home’.”[3]  Stephens assiduously ignores the vast, expansive and dangerous robotic reach of American power, typified by remote drone strikes, the backing of proxy regimes and such negotiating endeavours as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  If only the isolationism argument was true.

President Warren Harding, in 1921, is said to have placed the US on the pathway to isolationism with his anti-League of Nations stance, and the winding down of the post-war military machine.  “Vast expenditure without proper consideration for results,” he warned, “is the inevitable fruit of war.”  Wars, rather than being the efficient earners for a state, were wasteful enterprises. Avoid those security alliances that become, more often than not, stifling and awkward embraces.

Therein was born the myth of American insularity, one of considered geopolitical withdrawal.  Such an assessment would ignore continued US involvement in the international financial system – as indeed, the biggest creditor economy – and its engagement in various international organisations, including, to a limited degree, the League itself.  This was Washington without the fangs.

But Stephens, like his colleagues of that most myopic brand of history – the idea of empire – can see no reason for America to retreat from anything.  Take, for instance, the adventurism in the Middle East.  “There was no strategic or even political requirement to get out of Iraq once we had succeeded in pacifying the country.”

The efforts of such pacification continue to linger in their destructive toll, though armchair militarists get goggle-eyed when it comes to the empirical world.  Conservative columnist George Will was left wondering what the missing factor was in the state building process and came to a simple, if impossible conclusion.  “Iraq is just three people away from democratic success.  Unfortunately, the three are George Washington, James Madison, and John Marshall.”

Then comes the issue of disorder, which takes the contractarian idea that, to achieve order in the international system, deals must be made with hegemons, whether you want to or not.   Stability is something gained by bedding the brute across the ocean, and smaller states need to cosy up to bigger ones with tarted up appeal.

This system of perceived order was deemed a matter of virtue rather than good, old fashioned avarice on the part of the great power.  “By dampening great-power competition and giving Washington the capacity to shape regional balances of power,” argues Stephen M. Walt, “primacy contributed to a more tranquil international environment.”[4]  Tranquillity, however, remains a matter of degree.

Empires do check into the old home, get on the non-solids and eventually die from natural causes.  Yet Stephens is cautious to suggest that, while America is in retreat, it “is not in decline.”  This is in stark contrast to others, like Christopher Lane of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, who sees the US as “increasingly unable to play the hegemon’s assigned role.”

In any case, a power dedicated to causing more mayhem than policing stability doesn’t deserve any titles in the hegemonic department.  The otherwise war loving David Frum had to concede after Obama pushed the US into another conflict in 2011 that, “Three wars is a lot, even for the United States.”  In Layne’s final summation, “The epoch of American dominance is drawing to a close, and international politics is entering a period of transition: no longer unipolar but not yet fully multipolar.”[5]

When the curtains will be finally drawn on the act that is American empire is not for anybody to say, though the clock ticks with its usual grinding music.  The nature of its power will continue to change, with other powers emerging from the chrysalis.  The question will be whether such a process takes place slowly, or whether the empire ages disgracefully.

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

Originally published at WhoWhatWhy

The 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s murder is one more reminder from the past of a distinctive feature of the American system. This is that some American presidents reach office by assassination, not by election. More importantly, when this happens, a lot of facts are usually going to be left at best unexplained, and often covered up.

Few Americans know, for example, that in 1991 the body of President Zachary Taylor, who died in 1850 after a year in office, was exhumed and found to contain suspicious amounts of arsenic. But the New York Times announced that further analysis showed the amounts of arsenic were no more than what is normally found in the body, confirming that Taylor died a natural death.

Same Junk Science used in JFK Assassination

Wikipedia claims that this is proven by Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, citing an article on the Lab website that is forbidden to the public. Wikipedia does not mention that NAA analysis on the same Isotope Reactor was used four decades ago to analyze the bullets killing John F. Kennedy. (The use of NAA analysis of lead in bullets, once used to bolster the “single bullet theory” of Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt, has since been decisively discredited by other U.S. Government experts at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. In September 2005 the FBI announced that it would no longer rely in criminal cases on the inaccurate evidence produced by comparative bullet lead analysis.)

Even more mysteries surround the assistance provided Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. In a recent article, the Washington Post described Booth as “embittered,” the term used by Psychology Today to “analyze” Lee Harvey Oswald. Other more scholarly studies have argued that Booth was originally plotting not the murder but the abduction of Lincoln, Vice-President Johnson, and Secretary of State Seward. This was part of a coherent strategy to throw the determination of the next president into the hands of the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Roger Taney had already shown in the Dred Scott case that he was pro-slavery and sympathetic to the South.

2Speculation of a cover-up about Booth has abounded since the time that four of his associates in the crime were swiftly hanged. A benign explanation for the cover-up would be the desire to avoid dealing with the possibility that Booth had been guided or at least assisted in his plotting by the Confederate Secret Service. This was suspected almost immediately when a Vigenère Cipher table (a code used by the South) was discovered among Booth’s effects. At that time a strong need to restore unity to a divided nation would have been an ample motive to present Booth, like Oswald a century later, as an embittered loner.

It is now pretty well established, by historian Thomas Goodrich and others, that Booth had traveled widely to Canada and elsewhere as a spy and courier for the Confederate Secret Service. Other historians have concluded, in the words of David Herbert Donald, that “at least at the lower levels of the Southern secret service, the abduction of the Union President was under consideration.”

Whether Booth was following orders in his activities or was acting on his own is less clear. But it is certain that Booth was able to elude capture for 12 days after the assassination by using safe houses in Virginia along an escape route which the Confederate Secret Service had previously organized.

The cover-up about Booth has long survived any original motive for it. Only in the last half century have we begun to see books like William Tidwell’s Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln. Yet from time to time we still continue to hear from authors like Jim Bishop and Bill O’Reilly, who write profitable best-sellers, one arguing that Booth, the other that Oswald, was essentially a loner.

An egregious attempt to present Booth as a loner was that of former CIA Director Allen Dulles, at an early executive session of the Warren Commission on January 16, 1964. Dulles explained that, according to a book he was handing out to members of the Commission, European assassinations were the work of conspiracies—but American assassins acted alone.

Given that two of Booth’s targets, Lincoln and Seward, were attacked almost simultaneously in different parts of the city (Seward was stabbed by Lewis Powell in his bed during the Lincoln assassination), John J. McCloy promptly objected, arguing that “the Lincoln assassination was a plot.” Undeterred, Dulles shot right back: “Yes, but one man was so dominant that it almost wasn’t a plot.” Dulles was using his authority to indicate what he thought the Commission should conclude. Seven months later the Warren Report amply fulfilled his wish and declared that the death of Kennedy was, too, the work of a loner.

Same Old Story—False, Ongoing, and Interconnected

Dulles’s intervention indicates to me that American cover-ups of what I call “deep events”—events about which we are denied the truth—are themselves an on-going and interconnected story. For example: in a special section of the Warren Report, written to discredit “Speculations and Rumors” of a possible conspiracy in JFK’s death, Commission staffer Alfred Goldberg began by noting that:

“Myths have traditionally surrounded the dramatic assassinations of history. The rumors and theories about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln that are still being publicized were for the most part first bruited within months of his death.”

Goldberg is also co-author of Pentagon 9/11 which is, possibly, another example of an ongoing coverup.

Goldberg was quite right in acknowledging the persistence of myths about assassinations. And we will never move beyond myths to a clearer understanding of what took place, who ultimately was responsible, what it meant, and how best to restore democracy to this country, until we fully grasp the role of Allen Dulles and others like  him in sustaining those myths.

This past Friday, Dave Kranzler of Investment Research Dynamics put out a very thoughtful article and chart regarding the spike in “reverse repurchase agreements”

RRP’s held at the Fed http://investmentresearchdynamics.com/tag/reverse-repo-agreement/

The chart in question shows three very distinctive spikes:

RRP

The first was Sept. of 2008, again in 2011 and the current spike. It is Dave’s contention that something behind the scenes has or is blowing up financially.

Let me explain what I believe is happening, I do not disagree with his theory but I think he may have stopped just one step short of the full story.   By adding one more chart in a moment, I’ll try to explain.  Please read the above article as it is a good explanation of “reverse repurchase agreements” and saves me the need for a long winded rehash.

For years I have described the current financial situation as a “giant margin call” waiting to happen.  The derivatives market is a zero sum game where someone wins and someone loses, the danger of course is someone losing so badly they become insolvent and cannot make payment to the “winner” …which would make all parties a loser in the game.  This is the fear, the derivatives chain breaks somewhere along the way and creates a domino effect both upstream and downstream causing the entire credit system to lock up.

Think about what has happened over just the last six months alone. We have seen unprecedented FOREX movements. The dollar has strengthened close to 30% over this timeframe while oil has dropped about 50%.  The cross between the euro and the Swiss franc saw an almost 30% move in less than 10 minutes oneMonday morning in January.  There have been some very big gains AND some very big losses which would explain the need for “more collateral” which is exactly what these reverse repo’s provide.

  Please look at the following chart:

I believe this is “the rest of the story” as I mentioned above.  You can clearly see the spikes in 2008, 2011 and again currently but “this time is different”.  It is different because of both size and the long lasting duration!  The first chart that Dave put out on Friday was of RRP’s with “Foreign Official and Institutional Accounts” whereas the chart you just looked at are “ALL” RRP’s.

It is my belief the first chart’s movements are a function primarily of international FOREX movements and represents “collateral demand” from the likes of Deutschebank, SocGen, Barclays etc. …AND from The Bank of England, the ECB and other central banks.  The second chart is of ALL players, not just foreign.  This chart in my opinion is “how” the Fed has aided and abetted the system as a whole in “hiding” the losses from derivatives!  The Fed places collateral into the system which gets lent out over and over (rehypothecated) many times and “pledged” as collateral by the loser in derivatives trades… thus the system continues “unbroken” because the collateral is put up to meet the margin calls.

Do you see?  For well over a year I have wondered and even written in disbelief and amazement that no one ever admits to any large losses when in fact there had to be losses well into the multiple $ trillions!  Think about it, there are almost $10 trillion worth of “dollar derivatives” outstanding, a 30% move means someone won and someone else lost about $3 trillion.  I don’t know of any firms that could lose even 5% of this and remain solvent, do you?  And this is just “dollars”, not oil, not interest rates, not equities, not iron ore, copper, gold or anything else!

If you see the buildup of RRP’s over the last year+, this I believe is how the margin calls have been met and the losses hidden …but is it even legal?  In a technical and practical sense, no it is not.  However, from a practical sense, if this is what is being done then we now know how no one has been declared a loser and no one has had to “book” their losses.  The margin calls have been met, the positions stay open and no one is the wiser right?  I do want to point out that under the rule of law, if the Fed “knows” this, it is without a doubt a criminal act.  If they are doing business with bankrupt institutions, one which they know or should have knowledge of as being bankrupt, the Fed is flat out fraudulently and blatantly breaking all banking laws on the planet.

Going just a step further, if this is the case, what does it say about the Fed’s own balance sheet?  If they are doing swaps or RRP’s with bankrupt institutions, will the Fed ever get their collateral back?  As Dave Kranzler so aptly tied together, this is why the “failures to deliver” have spiked.  The collateral which was originally lent out has been re lent 10 times more, or even 100 times more, who knows?

Please walk away from reading this piece with one understanding, the chart above is telling you something very big has changed and been changing for over a year.  I believe it shows the system is in and has been fraudulently meeting a systemic margin call.  Maybe I am wrong but I wouldn’t bet on it.  The chart does however give you proof beyond any doubt that “stress” of some sort has been and is building up “somewhere”.  The stress is now multiples of what we saw in late 2008 …when we were only hours from the system seizing up in a giant meltdown.

I bounced this theory off of Jim Sinclair over the weekend and received a short but very enlightening reply.  He said “The concept is correct.  We have another OTC derivative explosion at hand but no practical way to expand liquidity.  Bad derivatives never die, they just get larger”.   Think about what Jim is saying here, we again have an Autumn of 2008 event triggering …only bigger!  And no way to actually meet the margin calls.  Each episode of QE was used to meet the margin calls and hide the losses.  Each one expanded the risk while pulling more and more collateral out of the system until we reached a tipping point, NOW!

Let me finish with this one point, when this era is looked at in hindsight, “it will all be about counterparty risk”.  Do you know of anything without counterparty risk?  Can you say G O L D?

Using the recent spree of high profile police murders as the latest catalyst, calls to outfit all cops with some sort of body camera are once again reverberating nationally.  But given the staggering amounts of personal data on the American people police agencies are already collecting, the proposals to lend the police one more surveillance device raises significant privacy concerns.

Speaking on the repercussions of the police murder of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, a former opponent of body cams, recently remarked, “I think it is a game-changer. What you’ll see is a movement now by many more police departments to go to cameras.”

Indeed, the city of North Charleston has already announced plans to equip its entire police force with body cameras.  This comes on the heels of President Obama announcement last December that the federal government would purchase 50,000 body cams for state and local police agencies in response to the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

For their proponents, body cameras promise to provide much needed accountability to the nation’s police agencies and their officers, who continue to gun down Americans at an alarming rate, while still mostly managing to allude prosecution.  And as advocates note, limited study of such police cameras have already yielded seemingly promising results.  In Rialto, California, for instance, a controlled study found a 60% decline in use of force by officers equipped with body cameras. Cops, to no surprise of anyone who has ever sought to film an on-duty officer, are all too cognizant of the power of recorded video (especially, we might add, when such video is in the hands of citizens).

But the anecdotal evidence championed by body camera backers aside, such police cams offer at best a flawed check on police abuse and brutality, and at worst portend a further bolstering of the already dystopian surveillance capabilities of law enforcement agencies.

The Limits of Police Body Cams

To begin with, as should be readily evident, police body cameras only work when officers turn them on. So in the case of the slaying of Walter Scott in South Carolina, even if Officer Michael Slager had been equipped with a body cam, there is no guarantee it would have captured his shooting of Scott; Slager could have simply turned it off.  Indeed, a trial use of body cameras by Denver, Colorado police from June to December of 2014 saw less than half of all encounters involving the use of force actually recorded by camera equipped officers.

(And yet even when police brutality is captured on video and viewed publicly, accountability for officers is hardly guaranteed.  The death of Eric Garner at the hands of New York City cops was, after all, captured on film, but no officers were charged in his death.)

For those police body cams that actually are recording, however, all data collected is often held and stored by the police themselves; that is, the very people the cameras are meant to hold to account.  As the Washington Post reported, “Officials in more than a dozen states—as well as the District [of Columbia]—have proposed restricting access or completely withholding the [body cam] footage from the public.”  D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, as the Post explains, has sought to keep the public from viewing police body cam videos by exempting all such videos from the Freedom of Information Act.

Simply put then, police not only control what body cameras record, but also increasingly what is done with the captured video.

It is also worth considering the fact that devises touted as a way to hold police accountable for their actions are configured not to watch and record the police, but rather to watch us from the perspective of the police.  And as anyone who has come face-to-face with armored clad riot cops during a political protest will no doubt attest, the routine use of cameras trained on protesters by police brings no measure of accountability to the cops.  Police cameras do nothing to stop warrior cops from unleashing their truncheons on peaceful protesters, nor do they do anything to hold them to account afterwards.  In fact, the police deploy such cameras at rallies largely to aid the future prosecution of those they will arrest for the great criminal offense that is political dissent.

Snooping Cops

The far more troubling issue with championing police body cameras as some sort of progressive police reform, though, is that their deployment is part of a larger proliferation of mass surveillance capabilities now allowing domestic law enforcement agencies to sweep up a breathtaking amount of data on American citizens.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, the 560 body cameras currently employed by officers of the Oakland, California police department “results in about five to six terabytes of data every month—equivalent to about 1,250 to 1,500 high-definition movie downloads.”  The data, the Journal continues, “is stored on a department server for two years at a minimum.”

Using the FBI’s Lockheed Martin designed Next Generation Identification system, cops everywhere equipped with body cameras will soon be able to tap into an FBI database containing over 50 million photos in order to utilize facial recognition technology when making routine traffic stops.  It’s difficult to see how the use of body cameras to conduct such fishing expeditions would serve in any way to further police accountability.

The threat to personal privacy posed by police body cams is heightened further when considering the intimate places cops routinely go (e.g. inside one’s apartment or home) and the often compromised state of those visited by police.  As the Los Angeles Times notes, “Video from dashboard cameras in police cars, a more widely used technology, has long been exploited for entertainment purposes. Internet users have posted dash-cam videos of arrests of naked women to YouTube, and TMZ sometimes obtains police videos of athletes and celebrities during minor or embarrassing traffic stops, turning officers into unwitting paparazzi.”

It doesn’t take much imagination to picture huckster entrepreneurs of the near future using any and all police body cam video released to the public (which will undoubtedly be skewed toward those videos portraying officers in a positive light) to piggyback on the already booming online mug shot industry currently dabbling in the lucrative trade of public humiliation and shame.

Body cameras or not, though, police agencies the nation over are already fixing to amass vast swaths of data on no less than our daily movements via the widespread deployment of things like automatic license plate readers (ALPRs), which snap pictures of car license plates in conjunction with date, time, and location.

According to a separate Journal report, the Justice Department is currently using ALPRs strategically placed on major highways, in combination with those routinely used by state and local law enforcement agencies, to maintain a national database to “track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S.”  Many of the devices used to feed the database, the paper notes, “also record visual images of drivers and passengers, which are sometimes clear enough for investigators to confirm identities.”

Consider, also, the ability local police agencies already possess to scoop up our electronic communications via devices like “dirtboxes” and “stingrays” (which mimic cellular towers in order to trick all adjacent cell phones into sending their identifying information back to the devices for collection).  This is to say nothing of the “haystack” of personal data the National Security Agency is actively compiling in its search for needles.

Such a rush by law enforcement to deploy all the latest surveillance technologies on the American people quite predictably leaves the collecting agencies awash in more data than could ever possibly be of use.  In fact, such mass surveillance is quite lousy at its purported purpose of predicting and preventing crime or “terrorism.”  As Julia Angwin writes in her book Dragnet Nation, “the flood of data can be overwhelming and confounding to those who are charged with sorting through it to find terrorists.”  ”But,” Angwin goes on to add, “ubiquitous, covert surveillance does appear to be very good at repression.”

Police Surveillance as Repression

What the “war on drugs” was for mass incarceration, the “war on terror” has clearly been to domestic surveillance.  So not only are militarized police now sent parading through the streets in their repurposed military vehicles and equipment, they are also increasingly turning to military-styled mass surveillance methods to achieve the very same ends sought by occupying American forces abroad; that is, collective pacification.

As Darwin Bond-Graham and Ali Winston write in a 2014 LA Weekly article on the Los Angeles Police Department’s use of data-intensive “predictive policing”: the “LAPD’s mild-sounding ‘predictive policing’ technique, introduced by former Chief William Bratton [now chief of the NYPD] to anticipate where future crime would hit, is actually a sophisticated system developed not by cops but by the U.S. military, based on ‘insurgent’ activity in Iraq and civilian casualty patterns in Afghanistan.”

Bond-Graham and Winston add: “Records obtained by L.A. Weekly from the U.S. Army Research Office show that UCLA professors Jeff Brantingham and Andrea Bertozzi (anthropology and applied mathematics, respectively) in 2009 told the Army that their predictive techniques ‘will provide the Army with a plethora of new data-intensive predictive algorithms for dealing with insurgents and terrorists abroad.’ In a later update to the Army, after they had begun working with LAPD, they wrote, ‘Terrorist and insurgent activities have a distinct parallel to urban crime.’”

The world, lest we ever forget, is now a battlefield.  But if the American dragnet abroad is, as Alfred McCoy writes, a means of cheaply “projecting power and keeping subordinate allies in line,” the domestic dragnet imposed by militarized cops is likewise as much about keeping domestic threats (activists, dissidents, the working class, and poor) in line as imperial rot takes hold within the “homeland” in the form of widening economic inequality and deepening social crisis.

And utilizing mass surveillance as a tool of repression indeed appears the intent of snooping police departments.

Pouring over documents released on the city of Boston’s now suspended ALPR program, ACLU attorney Catherine Crump found that ”The Boston Police Department was targeting mostly low income, working class, and Black neighborhoods with their license plate reader program.”  In one case, Crump discovered that “one motorcycle that was recorded stolen in the police department’s system had driven past one fixed plate reader 60 times.”

“This signals to me that our greatest fear is true,” Crump adds.  ”While police say, ‘We need this technology because it helps us find stolen cars and criminals,’ we have found they’re also using these tools to collect data about people who they have no reason to believe were involved in any criminal activity.  In Boston, we found that police aren’t using these cameras to respond to hits, they’re sucking up all this data to use potentially down the road for intelligence.”

Are we to believe, then, that the mountains of data to be captured by police body cameras and stored for possibly years by police departments is to be used to hold cops to account? Or is such footage more likely to be kept in secret to further police control over potentially rebellious poor, minority, and working class citizens?

Who gains by entrusting killer cops with policing our privacy?

According to a new leaked European Commission proposal in the ongoing EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, EU member state legislative initiatives will have to be vetted for potential impacts on private business interests.

The proposal forms part of a wider plan for so-called “regulatory cooperation”. Civil society groups have already denounced earlier iterations of this plan as being a tool to stop or roll back regulation intended to protect the public interest. The new elements in the leaked proposal expand the problem.

Civil society groups have condemned the “regulatory exchange” plan as an affront to parliamentary democracy. “This is an insult to citizens, elected politicians and democracy itself”, says Max Bank of Lobby Control.

The “regulatory exchange” proposal will force laws drafted by democratically-elected politicians through an extensive screening process. This process will occur throughout the 78 States, not just in Brussels and Washington DC. Laws will be evaluated on whether or not they are compatible with the economic interests of major companies. Responsibility for this screening will lie with the ‘Regulatory cooperation body, a permanent, undemocratic, and unaccountable conclave of European and American technocrats.

“Both the Commission and US authorities will be able to exert undue pressure on governments and politicians under this measure as these powerful players are parachuted into national legislative procedures. The two are also very likely to share the same agenda: upholding the interests of multinationals,” says Kenneth Haar of Corporate Europe Observatory.

“The Commission proposal introduces a system that puts every new environmental, health, labour, and standard at European and member state level at risk. It creates a labyrinth of red tape for regulators, to be paid by the tax payer, that undermines their appetite to adopt legislation in the public interest,” says Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe.

Screening under the regulatory exchange plan could take place from before a proposal is formally tabled until it is adopted, and on existing regulations, providing continuous opportunities to weaken and delay regulatory acts. Articles 9 and 11 (texts below) detail how it would work.

“What’s perhaps most scary about this proposal is its potential application to existing regulation – not just paralyzing future legislation but sending us backward,” says David Azoulay at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). “Not only will it extend an outrageously burdensome process on future legislation, but any current legislation in the public interest that doesn’t sit well with trade interests on either side of the Atlantic could be subjected to the same process to make it conform to corporate interests.”

Contacts and further information:

Lora Verheecke 00 32 4 86 31 00 34 (FR/EN/ES) [email protected]

Copyright Corporateeurope.org 2015

By John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International

The killing of journalist Oles Buzyna on a Kyiv street this week was shocking enough in and of itself.

According to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, the 45-year-old journalist – who was widely known for his pro-Russian views – was gunned down by masked assailants in a drive-by shooting.

But what makes his murder especially chilling is the fact that it is just the latest among a string of suspicious deaths of former allies of Ukraine’s deposed former President Viktor Yanukovych. It came only a day after a member of Ukraine’s political opposition, Oleg Kalashnikov, was also found shot dead in the capital.

This week’s deaths are not alone. Since the end of January, several allies of Ukraine’s deposed former President Viktor Yanukovych have been found dead – many of them in suspicious circumstances.

Oleksandr Peklushenko, a former regional governor, and ex-MP Stanislav Melnyk were also shot. Mykhaylo Chechetov, former deputy chairman of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, allegedly jumped from a window in his 17th-floor flat. Serhiy Valter, a mayor in the south-eastern city of Melitopol, was found hanged, as was Oleksiy Kolesnyk, ex-head of Kharkiv’s regional government. The body of Oleksandr Bordyuh, a former police deputy chief in Melitopol, was found at his home.

This string of deaths has put the Ukrainian authorities in the hot seat.

Police were initially quick to classify many of them as suicides.

It is certainly plausible that some of the deaths were suicides or accidents. However, in the absence of credible investigations, and given the rapid succession of the deaths within the wider context of Ukraine’s political climate at the moment, nobody can rule out that some of them were politically-motivated killings. But by whom? No-one will know without independent, impartial and thorough investigations.

Most of the deaths took place amid mysterious circumstances. Maybe as a recognition of this, the authorities have opened probes into some of the cases. But Amnesty International has yet to see evidence of a credible outcome of any of these.

They must be followed up by prompt, impartial and effective investigations. All such investigations must be credible if Ukraine is to begin to tackle its pervasive lack of accountability for serious human rights violations. A recent Amnesty International report revealed, for example, how virtually nobody has been brought to account for more than 100 killings, and an even greater number of police beatings and ill-treatment, of protesters during the February 2014 EuroMaydan demonstrations.

Beyond the lingering lack of justice for the EuroMaydan deaths, and the more recent spate of deaths of opposition members this year, the organization has also documented a worrying rise in other forms of persecution.

Opposition politicians are facing mob violence, often carried out by groups or individuals affiliated with the right-wing.

Meanwhile, members of the media are suffering harassment at the hands of the authorities. Among them is the journalist and prominent blogger Ruslan Kotsaba – recently named as Amnesty International’s first Ukrainian prisoner of conscience in five years. He could face more than a decade in prison on the charge of “high treason” and for his views on the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Ruslan Kotsaba was arrested on 7 February in Ivano-Frankivsk, 130 km south-east of Lviv, after he posted a video describing the conflict as “the Donbas fratricidal civil war”. He also expressed opposition to military conscription of Ukrainians to take part in the conflict.

After being formally charged on 31 March with “high treason”, he faces up to 15 years in prison, as well as up to an eight-year sentence on a further charge of “hindering the legitimate activities of the armed forces”. Amnesty International has called for his immediate and unconditional release, and we see his treatment as a brazen restriction on the right to freedom of expression.

The freedom to peacefully exercise that right was one of the fundamental rallying cries of the EuroMaydan protesters.

To now deny Yanukovych’s allies or other opposition members that same right – through imprisonment or death, or through lack of an effective investigation – would be the height of hypocrisy. It is also a betrayal of human rights, which must be protected for everyone, regardless of their political stripes.

by GM Watch.org 2015

Findings of new study need confirmation in animal tests

Roundup is an endocrine disruptor and is toxic to human cells in vitro (tested in culture dishes in the laboratory) at levels permitted in drinking water in Australia, a new study has found.

This is the first study to examine the effects of glyphosate and Roundup on progesterone production by human female cells in an in vitro system that models key aspects of reproduction in women.

Glyphosate alone was less toxic to human cells than glyphosate in a Roundup formulation; both glyphosate and Roundup caused cell death which resulted in decreased progesterone levels – a form of hormone/endocrine disruption. Endocrine disruption did not precede the toxicity to cells but occurred after it. The decreases in progesterone concentrations were caused by reduced numbers of viable cells.

A 24h exposure to a concentration of glyphosate (in Roundup) similar to that recommended as an acceptable level for Australian drinking water caused significant toxicity to the cells in vitro, which supports a call for long-term in vivo (in live animals) studies to characterise the toxicity of Roundup.

The possibility that Roundup has endocrine disrupting activity independent of its ability to kill or disable cells needs further study.

Endocrine disruption and cytotoxicity of glyphosate and roundup in human JAr cells in vitro

Fiona Young, Dao Ho, Danielle Glynn and Vicki Edwards
Department of Medical Biotechnology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia
Integr Pharm Toxicol Genotoxicol, 2015 Volume 1(1): 12-19
doi: 10.15761/IPTG.1000104

Abstract

The toxicity of the active molecule in herbicides has been used to determine safe concentrations, because other components are considered inert. Roundup, which contains the active molecule Glyphosate, was described as an endocrine disrupter because non-cytotoxic concentrations inhibited progesterone synthesis in vitro.

GM Watch.org 2015Human chorioplacental JAr cells synthesise progesterone, and increase synthesis when stimulated by chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), or the transduction molecule cAMP.

JAr cells were exposed to two Roundup formulations, and compared with the same concentrations of glyphosate ± cAMP, or ± hCG for 1, 4, 24, 48 or 72h. The surviving viable cells were quantified using an MTT assay, and progesterone was measured in an ELISA. hCG and cAMP stimulated progesterone synthesis by cells in vitro as expected. In contrast to previous reports, JAr cell death preceded decreased progesterone synthesis, and steroidogenesis was unaffected by low, non-cytotoxic concentrations of Roundup or glyphosate. Roundup was more cytotoxic than glyphosate alone; the 24h EC50 was 16mM for glyphosate, but 0.008mM when glyphosate was in a 7.2g/L Roundup formulation. Significant cytotoxicity was caused by glyphosate in Roundup (p<0.01) after 24h, and cytotoxicity was observed in vitro after exposure to a range of concentrations comparable to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Endocrine disruption effects were secondary to cytotoxicity. Roundup was more cytotoxic than the same concentration of glyphosate alone, indicating that the other constituents of the herbicide are not inert. There is a compelling need to conduct in vivo studies to characterise the toxicity of glyphosate in a Roundup formulation, to facilitate re-evaluation of existing public health guidelines.

Copyright Fiona Young, Dao Ho, Danielle Glynn and Vicki Edwards, Department of Medical Biotechnology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia 2015, GM Watch.org 2015

An F/A-18C Hornet attached to the Golden Warriors of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. (Photo: US Navy)

Conflicts and war across the region, says one analyst, ‘have been an economic boon to those who wipe away crocodile tears with one hand and sign weapons contracts with the other.’

With ongoing wars and armed conflicts currently underway across the Middle East, South Asia, and large portions of Africa, the role that U.S. weapons makers play across the region was highlighted in weekend reporting by the New York Times, which showed how the drive for corporate profits has unleashed an arms race with perilous human consequences and no end in sight for people living in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere.

“As the Middle East descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and wanting more,” the Times reports. “The result is a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets — but also the prospect of a dangerous new arms race in a region where the map of alliances has been sharply redrawn.”

With a loosening of arms sales to many of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations—including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt—the Timesshows how an influx of advanced weaponry, such as missiles, fighter jets, and drones, is having a direct impact on both the simmering and broiling conflicts that have engulfed the region in recent years.

According to the Times:

Saudi Arabia spent more than $80 billion on weaponry last year — the most ever, and more than either France or Britain — and has become the world’s fourth-largest defense market, according to figures released last week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks global military spending. The Emirates spent nearly $23 billion last year, more than three times what they spent in 2006.

Qatar, another gulf country with bulging coffers and a desire to assert its influence around the Middle East, is on a shopping spree. Last year, Qatar signed an $11 billion deal with the Pentagon to purchase Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defense systems. Now the tiny nation is hoping to make a large purchase of Boeing F-15 fighters to replace its aging fleet of French Mirage jets. Qatari officials are expected to present the Obama administration with a wish list of advanced weapons before they come to Washington next month for meetings with other gulf nations.

American defense firms are following the money. Boeing opened an office in Doha, Qatar, in 2011, and Lockheed Martin set up an office there this year. Lockheed created a division in 2013 devoted solely to foreign military sales, and the company’s chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, has said that Lockheed needs to increase foreign business — with a goal of global arms sales’ becoming 25 percent to 30 percent of its revenue — in part to offset the shrinking of the Pentagon budget after the post-Sept. 11 boom.

American intelligence agencies believe that the proxy wars in the Middle East could last for years, which will make countries in the region even more eager for the F-35 fighter jet, considered to be the jewel of America’s future arsenal of weapons. The plane, the world’s most expensive weapons project, has stealth capabilities and has been marketed heavily to European and Asian allies. It has not yet been peddled to Arab allies because of concerns about preserving Israel’s military edge.

For critics of the weapons industry and the support they receive from the U.S. government—which sanctions and paves the way for such sales—the trend is a deeply troubling one.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told the Times he views the increase in arms sales to the region “with a great deal of trepidation, as it is leading to an escalation in the type and number and sophistication in the weaponry in these countries.”

Sharif Nashashibi, an award-winning journalist and expert on the Middle East region, noted in a Sunday column in the Middle East Eye that though war-profiteering is anything but new, the current scale of the problem is worrying. “Weapons exports provide massive economic benefits,” notes Nashashibi, “which translate to political benefits, domestically and in terms of influence with clients. The Middle East and North Africa has long been a theatre of combat—often on numerous fronts—and hence among the most lucrative markets on the planet. However, weapons purchases have skyrocketed in recent years as unrest, tension and war between and within states have increased markedly.”

He continued:

Arms suppliers derive maximum benefit from just the right amount of destabilisation: enough to make clients bulk-buy, but not enough to existentially threaten them or disrupt energy supplies. That is why, for example, the US profited so immensely from the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s – it armed both sides, resulting in a war of attrition that lasted almost a decade.

Similarly, the Arab Spring, Arab-Iranian tensions and the rise of the Islamic State, among other current crises, have been an economic boon to those who wipe away crocodile tears with one hand and sign weapons contracts with the other. Operation Decisive Storm over Yemen will no doubt add to the buying frenzy.

Also responding to the Times‘ latest reporting was journalist and analyst Richard Silverstein. Writing in Sunday’s Eurasia Review, he questioned the overall strategy of U.S. military intervention and weapons proliferation throughout the Middle East, which he argues has been not only counter-productive, but “almost universally deadly.”

With specific attention to the legacy of President Obama, Silverstein added:

We’ve been responsible for the deaths of millions in the past decade.  Why do we continue with policies which have failed so miserably?  Do you remember Obama’s “famed” Cairo speech of 2008?  We were going to bring a new form of engagement to the Arab world.  One not based on military might or dictating our political views or values.  We were going to treat the Arab states as partners.

Whatever happened to that Obama?  How did he turn into the president whose sole policy seems to be sending drones to kill Islamists and many unarmed civilians?  Now, he wants to become the president who presided over a U.S. weapons fire sale there.  The leader who confirmed that America’s become “War Inc.”

And as William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, wrote in piece that appeared on Common Dreams in October, “If there’s one thing we should have learned over the past 13 years of war, it’s that war is good business for those in the business of war.”

As Nashashibi concludes, it should be no surprise that when it comes to the U.S. government, “the talk these days is of cooperation with the region’s autocrats—they are the ones buying the most weapons. A democratic, peaceful Middle East and North Africa is far less profitable. Arms exporters will never say so, but peace does not pay the bills.”

A live radio debate over whether or not vaccines should be mandated was scheduled to air on The Fairness Doctrine with Jennifer Sullivan of WMNF Radio in Tampa, Florida, on April 8, 2015. Both parties — Pediatrician and Mt. Sinai Assistant Professor of Global Health Professor Dr. Annie Sparrow, and U.S. Vaccine Rights Attorney Alan Phillips (this article’s author) — confirmed weeks in advance, but late in the day before the debate, Dr. Sparrow cancelled. The debate took place anyway, with Ms. Sullivan taking Dr. Sparrow’s place by reading pro-vaccine articles from Dr. Sparrow and Hastings Law School Professor Dorit Reiss. You can hear an online archive of the debate, here: (Sound.WMNF.org – the debate show starts about 3 1/2 minutes in). You decide for yourself, but I heard only vague, unsupported assertions from the pro-vaccine side that were soundly refuted by my clear, referenced facts…

Meanwhile, Dr. Sparrow’s cancellation email stated, in reference to her debate opponent:

He is not a doctor, is not a responsible participant in this incredibly important issue, and I prefer not to elevate him by giving him credence or legitimacy on air. This is unfair to the audience. I cannot participate in such a debate.

First, we must identify Dr. Sparrow’s cancellation for what it truly was: a classic information-control technique based on this principle commonly used by those who do not have the facts on their side:

Disparage your opponent to avoid the facts.

This is not an original comment on Dr. Sparrow’s part, it’s the classic reason that vaccine proponents always give for not debating vaccines, regardless of who the opponent is — they don’t want to “dignify” the opposing side. Dr. Sparrow apparently missed the memo prohibiting doctors from openly debating vaccines, and so she initially agreed to debate. In doing so, Dr. Sparrow committed the ultimate pro-vaccine faux pas — she naively agreed to a vaccine debate, and then had to come up with a reason to withdraw when, apparently, one of her peers informed her that they are not allowed to debate vaccines. It doesn’t matter what the opponent’s credentials are, pro-vaccine doctors will never engage in a fair and open debate, for two simple reasons: 1) They can’t win, and 2) medical science has yet to come up with an effective treatment for the more severe cases of kicked-butt-itis. The pro-vaccine position is not about truth; it’s about maintaining a false pretense of public health to further covert agendas that have nothing to do with public health, and you don’t further those agendas by debating vaccines.

Let’s move on to Dr. Sparrow’s specific accusations: Actually, I am a doctor. OK, I’m a juris doctor (lawyer), but my independent vaccine research has been used in medical schools in three countries (Italy, UK and U.S.), was translated and published in several European countries as well as in Russia and China and was published in two homeopathic journals in India. But more importantly, the debate topic (“Should Vaccines Be Mandated?”) is primarily a legal question. Legislators decide who has to get a vaccine and when, and who gets to refuse and how; and a complete understanding of the interpretation and application of laws falls squarely within the scope of legal expertise, not medical. The real question, then, is whether or not Dr. Sparrow, who has no training or expertise in law whatsoever, was qualified to participate in this debate.

The fundamental vaccine questions are, of course, ultimately medical: “Are vaccines safe? Are they effective? Are they necessary?” But the vaccine controversy has a substantial legal component. For example, the Federal Court of Claims lists 140 attorneys in the U.S. who handle vaccine injury and death cases. Medical doctors may testify as expert witnesses in these cases, but the cases are managed by attorneys and adjudicated by Special Masters (judges). Next, vaccines are required by law in all 50 states and U.S. territories, and by the federal government for military members, immigrants and some federal employees; exemptions and waivers are available in all 50 states and U.S. territories, in federal statutes, and in federal EEOC, DOD, and USCIS regulations for employees, military members and immigrants, respectively. A complete understanding of the proper interpretation and application of these laws requires formal legal training and expertise. What is the correct exemption procedure in each instance? Which laws are unconstitutional and why? Who does or doesn’t qualify for any given exemption and why? These are all purely legal questions that require formal legal training and expertise to address fully. So, if either debate participant was not competent to engage in the discussion, it was Dr. Sparrow.

More important than Dr. Sparrow’s lack of legal training, however, is the practical reality that the fundamental issue of the vaccine controversy is political, the underlying corruption of our political system by the pharmaceutical industry. While some aspects of the corruption involve medical and legal details, an understanding of the basics requires neither legal nor medical expertise. Many well-informed lay people with no medical or legal credentials could debate Dr. Sparrow into the ground with one hand tied behind their backs. Indeed, the very fact that Dr. Sparrow initially agreed to debate the matter on the pro-vaccine side reveals that she has no understanding of this most fundamental aspect of the issue. (Or perhaps her cancellation reveals that she understands it all too well?)

Dr. Sparrow hoped, of course, that her cancellation would prevent the debate from happening, to avoid personal embarrassment followed by reprimand from her peers, and to prevent vaccine truths from being spotlighted. But in this instance, the technique backfired. The debate went forward anyway, not only “elevating” me personally, but also exposing the dark side of vaccines. The truth is, pro-vaccine advocates will NEVER participate in a fair and open debate, because that would risk exposing the truth about vaccines to a wider, mainstream audience, and that is not what the ruling pharmaceutical elites want.

When the facts are not on your side, you can’t control public perception in an open debate. You control public perception by ensuring that your communications are always one-sided, and by presenting them in forums that do not allow for rebuttal. And whenever your unsupported propaganda is challenged, you discredit the other side to avoid having to address the facts. We should not respond to these emotional attacks defensively, though, as that may actually reinforce the attacker’s position. Instead, we should respond by calmly pointing out the technique being used: Emotional attack to cover up the lack of any real information. We can defeat emotional attacks by calling the pro-vaccine trolls out on what their attacks truly are:

Shameless attempts to substitute a psychological control technique for real information.

This is what Dr. Sparrow’s cancellation statement was, pure and simple, and it speaks volumes about who she really is. Engaging in an honest, open vaccine debate would risk weakening the pharmaceutical industry’s control of public perception, exposing the false vaccine paradigm. Perhaps it was unprofessional of me to agree to debate Dr. Sparrow, since she is arguably not qualified to debate the issue of vaccine mandates. But truth is more important. And in this instance, the truth prevailed.

Thank you, Jennifer Sullivan and WMNF, for The Fairness Doctrine radio series of open debates, shows of which are consistent with the fundamental American tradition of “free speech,” a tradition that pro-vaccine advocates fear and unethically avoid.
———————-
Attorney Phillips’ primary debate argument with referenced citations:

VaccineRights.com.[PDF]

Archive of The Fairness Doctrine, April 8, 2015, “Should Vaccines Be Mandated?” debate:

Sound.WMNF.org (the debate show starts about 3 1/2 minutes in).

Alan Phillips, J.D., is the nation’s leading Vaccine Rights Attorney. He advises clients, attorneys, legislators and legislative committees throughout the U.S. concerning vaccines required for newborns, students, employees, military members, immigrants, parents in custody disputes, etc. For more information, see www.vaccinerights.com.

About the author:
Alan Phillips, Vaccine Rights Attorney
[email protected], 1-828-575-2622
Vaccine Rights (www.vaccinerights.com)

How Ukraine Commemorates the Holocaust

April 20th, 2015 by Robert Parry

The U.S.-backed Ukrainian government came up with a curious way to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust being brought to an end. The parliament in Kiev voted to extend official recognition to Ukrainian fascists who collaborated with the Nazis in killing Jews.

Though Official Washington and the mainstream U.S. media continue to dutifully ignore the key role played by neo-Nazis in Ukraine’s February 2014 coup and in the post-coup regime’s subsequent military offensives against ethnic Russians in the east, Ukrainian politicians can’t stop their arms from snapping into Heil Hitler salutes like the fictional character Dr. Strangelove. They can’t hold back this reflex even as the world stopped this week to recall the Nazi barbarity that claimed the lives of some six million Jews as well as other minorities.

On April 9, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill making the ultra-nationalist Ukrainian Insurgent Army eligible for official government recognition, a demand that has been pushed by Ukraine’s current neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist movements, the same forces that spearheaded the overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 and then the slaughter of thousands of ethnic Russians who resisted the new order.

Ukraine’s honor-the-Nazi-collaborators vote came amid increased repression of opposition politicians and journalists who dare to criticize the U.S.-backed regime as it moves to repudiate the political settlement envisioned by February’s Minsk-2 agreement and instead prepares for a resumption of the war to crush the resistance in eastern Ukraine once and for all. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine’s ‘Poison Pill’ for Peace Talks.”]

Emergence of ‘Death Squads’

Over the past several months, there have been about ten mysterious deaths of opposition figures – some that the government claimed to be suicides while others were clearly murders. It now appears that pro-government “death squads” are operating with impunity in Kiev.

On Wednesday, Oleg Kalashnikov, a political leader of the opposition Party of Regions, was shot to death in his home. Kalashnikov had been campaigning for the right of Ukrainians to celebrate the Allied victory in World War II, a gesture that infuriated some western Ukrainian neo-Nazis who identify with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich and who now feel they have the current government in their corner.

On Thursday, unidentified gunmen murdered Ukrainian journalist Oles Buzina, a regime critic who had protested censorship being imposed on news outlets that didn’t toe the government’s propaganda line. Buzina had been denounced by a pro-regime “journalistic” outfit which operated under the Orwellian name “Stop Censorship” and demanded that Buzina be banned from making media appearances because he was “an agent of the Kremlin.”

This week, another dissident journalist Serhiy Sukhobok was reportedly killed in Kiev, amid sketchy accounts that his assailants may have been caught although the Ukrainian government has withheld details.

These deaths are mostly ignored by the mainstream U.S. news media – or are mentioned only in briefs with the victims dismissed as “pro-Russian.” After all, these “death squad” activities, which have also been occurring in government-controlled sections of eastern Ukraine, conflict with the preferred State Department narrative of the Kiev regime busy implementing “democratic reforms.”

But many of those “democratic reforms” amount to slashing old-age pensions, removing worker protections, and hiking the price of heating fuel – as demanded by the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a $17.5 billion bailout for Ukraine’s collapsing financial structure.

Similarly, the decision by the Ukrainian parliament to bend to the demands of neo-Nazi and other ultra-right groups to honor Ukraine’s World War II fascists is also downplayed or ignored by the major U.S. media.

The Holocaust in Ukraine

During World War II, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, an offshoot of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, collaborated with the Nazis in their orgy of mass murder against Jews, Poles and other minority groups. The UIA also joined with the Nazis in fighting against the Soviet Union’s Red Army, although some UIA elements did ultimately turn against the Germans over their occupation of Ukraine.

Ukraine was the site of several major Holocaust atrocities including the infamous massacre at Babi Yar in Kiev, where local Ukrainian fascists worked alongside the Nazi SS in funneling tens of thousands of Jews to a ravine where they were slaughtered and buried.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned Ukraine’s recognition of the UIA as well as a second bill that equated Communist and Nazi crimes.

“The passage of a ban on Nazism and Communism equates the most genocidal regime in human history with the regime which liberated Auschwitz and helped end the reign of terror of the Third Reich,” said Wiesenthal Center director for Eastern European Affairs Dr. Efraim Zuroff, adding:

“In the same spirit the decision to honor local Nazi collaborators and grant them special benefits turns Hitler’s henchmen into heroes despite their active and zealous participation in the mass murder of innocent Jews. These attempts to rewrite history, which are prevalent throughout post-Communist Eastern Europe, can never erase the crimes committed by Nazi collaborators in these countries, and only proves that they clearly lack the Western values which they claim to have embraced upon their transition to democracy.”

Not Seeing Nazis

Despite propaganda efforts by the Obama administration and the major U.S. news media to play down western Ukraine’s legacy of Nazi collaboration, one of the heroes honored during the Maidan protests, which led to the Feb. 22, 2014 coup, was Stepan Bandera, an OUN leader who worked with the Nazis before falling out with them over issues of Ukrainian independence.

After spearheading the 2014 coup, the neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist militias from western Ukraine were enlisted as the shock troops to attack ethnic Russian cities in eastern Ukraine, which had been the political base for ousted President Yanukovych. Even though some of those militias sported Swastikas and SS symbols, the mainstream U.S. news media either ignored those inconvenient realities or acknowledged them in the final paragraphs of long stories. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine.”]

The recognition of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was demanded last October by Ukraine’s right-wing and neo-Nazi groups, including the Svoboda party and the Right Sektor, which surrounded the parliament in Kiev with 8,000 protesters.

At that time, with U.S. officials sensitive to the image of the Ukrainian government caving in to rioters carrying neo-Nazi banners, the legislation was defeated. However, in recent weeks with the Kiev leadership leaning more heavily on the neo-Nazis and other ultra-nationalists to carry out the war against ethnic Russians in the east, more concessions are being made to the extremists.

Lurches to the Right

These lurches to the right have again been largely ignored by the mainstream U.S. media, which continues to blame the ethnic Russians for not submitting to the post-coup regime in Kiev and to demonize Russian President Vladimir Putin as the supposed instigator of all the trouble.

But the Jerusalem Post noted, “While Jewish worries over anti-Semitism have been on the back burner due to the war [in Ukraine], several recent developments have shown that antipathy toward Jews, or at least indifference toward such attitudes when held by important military or political figures, still exists in Ukraine.

“Last November Jewish organizations expressed their displeasure when it was disclosed that the newly appointed police chief for the Ukrainian province in which Kiev is located came under fire after it was alleged that he had past ties with a neo-Nazi organization.”

The Jerusalem Post also took note of the Kiev regime’s recent appointment of right-wing extremist Dimitri Jarosch, who organized many of the fighters behind the February 2014 putsch, to be an official adviser to the army leadership.

The larger historical context is that Nazism has been deeply rooted in western Ukraine since World War II, especially in cities like Lviv, where a cemetery to the veterans of the Galician SS, a Ukrainian affiliate of the Nazi SS, is maintained. These old passions were brought to the surface again in the battle to oust Yanukovych and sever historic ties to Russia.

The muscle behind the U.S.-backed Maidan protests against Yanukovych came from neo-Nazi militias trained in western Ukraine, organized into 100-man brigades and bused to Kiev. After the coup, neo-Nazi leader Andriy Parubiy, who was commander of the Maidan “self-defense forces,” was elevated to national security chief and soon announced that the Maidan militia forces would be incorporated into the National Guard and sent to eastern Ukraine to fight ethnic Russians resisting the coup.

As the U.S. government and media cheered on this “anti-terrorist operation,” the neo-Nazis and other right-wing battalions engaged in brutal street fighting against Russian ethnic rebels. Only occasionally did this nasty reality slip into the major U.S. news media. For instance, an Aug. 10, 2014 article in the New York Times mentioned the neo-Nazi paramilitaries at the end of a lengthy story on another topic.

“The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat,”

the Times reported.

“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Discovers Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis at War.”]

Meeting the Nazis

The conservative London Telegraph offered more details about the Azov battalion in an article by correspondent Tom Parfitt, who wrote:

“Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’… should send a shiver down Europe’s spine.

“Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”

Based on interviews with militia members, the Telegraph reported that some of the fighters doubted the reality of the Holocaust, expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and acknowledged that they are indeed Nazis.

Andriy Biletsky, the Azov commander, “is also head of an extremist Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly,” according to the Telegraph article which quoted a commentary by Biletsky as declaring: “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

In other words, for the first time since World War II, a government had dispatched Nazi storm troopers to attack a European population – and officials in Kiev knew what they were doing. The Telegraph questioned Ukrainian authorities in Kiev who acknowledged that they were aware of the extremist ideologies of some militias but insisted that the higher priority was having troops who were strongly motivated to fight. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ignoring Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers.”]

Since the coup, the New York Times and other mainstream U.S. news outlets have decried any recognition of the significant neo-Nazi presence in Ukraine as “Russian propaganda.” So, Ukraine’s new initiative to honor Nazi collaborators – in legislation coinciding with the commemoration of the end of the Holocaust – also must be ignored.

The pro-coup propaganda in the U.S. media has been so pervasive that a powerful “group think” took hold with the Kiev regime revered as white-hatted “good guys,” certainly not brown-shirted neo-Nazis. Or as the New York Times’ dimwitted foreign policy pundit Thomas L. Friedman declared in a column earlier this year, the new leaders of Ukraine “share our values.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

“The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests…..We must, however, be mindful that…Russia will remain the strongest military power in Eurasia and the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States.”

-The Wolfowitz Doctrine, the original version of the Defense Planning Guidance, authored by Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, leaked to the New York Times on March 7, 1992

“For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia…and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”

-THE GRAND CHESSBOARD – American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, page 30, Basic Books, 1997

The Lausanne negotiations between Iran and the so called P5+1 group (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany) have nothing to do with nuclear proliferation. They are, in fact, another attempt to weaken and isolate Russia by easing sanctions, thus allowing Iranian gas to replace Russian gas in Europe. Lausanne shows that Washington still thinks that the greatest threat to its dominance is the further economic integration of Russia and Europe, a massive two-continent free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok that would eventually dwarf dwindling US GDP while decisively shifting the balance of global power to Asia. To counter that threat, the Obama administration toppled the elected government of Ukraine in a violent coup, launched a speculative attack on the ruble, forced down global oil prices, and is presently arming and training neo-Nazi extremists in the Ukrainian army. Washington has done everything in its power to undermine relations between the EU and Russia risking even nuclear war in its effort to separate the natural trading partners and to strategically situate itself in a location where it can control the flow of vital resources from East to West.

Lausanne was about strategic priorities not nukes. The Obama administration realizes that if it can’t find an alternate source of gas for Europe, then its blockade of Russia will fail and the EU-Russia alliance will grow stronger. And if the EU-Russia alliance grows stronger, then US attempts to extend its tentacles into Asia and become a major player in the world’s most prosperous region will also fail leaving Washington to face a dismal future in which the steady erosion of its power and prestige is a near certainty. This is from an article titled “Removing sanctions against Iran to have unfavorable influence on Turkey and Azerbaijan”:

“If Washington removes energy sanctions on Iran…then a new geopolitical configuration will emerge in the region. Connecting with Nabucco will be enough for Iran to fully supply Europe with gas…

Iran takes the floor with inexhaustible oil and gas reserves and as a key transit country. Iran disposes of the 10% of the reported global oil reserves and is the second country in the world after Russia with its natural gas reserves (15%). The official representatives of Iran do not hide that they strive to enter the European market of oil and gas, as in the olden days. Let’s remember that the deputy Minister of Oil in Iran, Ali Majedi, offered to revive project of Nabucco pipeline during his European tour and said that his country is ready to supply gas to Europe through it…

“Some months earlier the same Ali Majedi reported sensational news: ‘two invited European delegations’ discussed the potential routes of Iranian gas supply to Europe,” the article reads.” … It is also noted that the West quite materially reacted to the possibility of the Iranian gas to join Nabucco.” (Removing sanctions against Iran to have unfavorable influence on Turkey and Azerbaijan, Panorama)

So, is this the plan, to provide “energy security” to Europe by replacing Russian gas with Iranian gas?

It sure looks like it. But that suggests that the sanctions really had nothing to do with Iran’s fictitious nuclear weapons program but were merely used to humiliate Iran while keeping as much of its oil and gas offline until western-backed multinationals could get their greasy mitts on it.

Indeed, that’s exactly how the sanctions were used even though the nuclear issue was a transparent fake from the get go. Get a load of this from the New York Times:

“Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.” (U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb, James Risen, New York Times, February 24, 2012)

See? The entire US intelligence establishment has been saying the same thing from the onset: No Iranian nukes. Nor has Iran ever been caught diverting nuclear fuel to other purposes. Never. Also, as nuclear weapons physicist, Gordon Prather stated many times before his death, “After almost three years of go-anywhere see-anything interview-anyone inspections, IAEA inspectors have yet to find any indication that Iran has — or ever had — a nuclear weapons program.”

The inspectors were on the ground for three freaking years. They interviewed everyone and went wherever they wanted. They searched every cave and hideaway, every nook and cranny, and they found nothing.

Get it? No nukes, not now, not ever. Period.

The case against Iran is built on propaganda, brainwashing and bullshit, in that order. But, still, that doesn’t tell us why the US is suddenly changing course. For that, we turn to an article from The Brookings Institute titled “Why the details of the Iran deal don’t matter” which sums it up quite well. Here’s a clip:

“At heart, this is a fight over what to do about Iran’s challenge to U.S. leadership in the Middle East and the threat that Iranian geopolitical ambitions pose to U.S. allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia. Proponents of the deal believe that the best way for the United States to deal with the Iranian regional challenge is to seek to integrate Iran into the regional order, even while remaining wary of its ambitions. A nuclear deal is an important first step in that regard, but its details matter little because the ultimate goal is to change Iranian intentions rather destroy Iranian capability.” (Why the details of the Iran deal don’t matter, Brookings)

Notice how carefully the author avoids mentioning Israel by name although he alludes to “the threat that Iranian geopolitical ambitions pose to U.S. allies”. Does he think he’s talking to idiots?

But his point is well taken; the real issue is not “Iranian capability”, but “Iran’s challenge to U.S. leadership in the Middle East”. In other words, the nuclear issue is baloney. What Washington doesn’t like is that Iran has an independent foreign policy that conflicts with the US goal of controlling the Middle East. That’s what’s really going on. Washington wants a compliant Iran that clicks its heals and does what its told.

The problem is, the strategy hasn’t worked and now the US is embroiled in a confrontation with Moscow that is a higher priority than the Middle East project. (The split between US elites on this matter has been interesting to watch, with the Obama-Brzezinski crowd on one side and the McCain-neocon crowd on the other.) This is why the author thinks that easing sanctions and integrating Iran into the predominantly US system would be the preferable remedy for at least the short term.

Repeat: “The best way for the United States to deal with the Iranian regional challenge is to integrate Iran into the regional order.” In other words, if you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em. Iran is going to be given enough freedom to fulfill its role within the imperial order, that is, to provide gas to Europe in order to inflict more economic pain on Russia. Isn’t that what’s going on?

But what effect will that have on Iran-Russia relations? Will it poison the well and turn one ally against the other?

Probably not, mainly because the ties between Iran and Russia are growing stronger by the day. Check this out from the Unz Review by Philip Giraldi:

“Moscow and Tehran are moving towards a de-facto strategic partnership, which can be easily seen by the two groundbreaking announcements from earlier this week. It’s now been confirmed by the Russian government that the rumored oil-for-goods program between Russia and Iran is actually a real policy that’s already been implemented, showing that Moscow has wasted no time in trying to court the Iranian market after the proto-deal was agreed to a week earlier. Providing goods in exchange for resources is a strategic decision that creates valuable return customers in Iran, who will then be in need of maintenance and spare parts for their products. It’s also a sign of deep friendship between the two Caspian neighbors and sets the groundwork for the tentative North-South economic corridor between Russia and India via Iran.” (A Shifting Narrative on Iran, Unz Review)

But here’s the glitch: Iran can’t just turn on the spigot and start pumping gas to Europe. It doesn’t work that way. It’s going to take massive pipeline and infrastructure upgrades that could take years to develop. That means there will be plenty of hefty contracts awarded to friends of Tehran –mostly Russian and Chinese–who will perform their tasks without interfering in domestic politics. Check this out from Pepe Escobar:

“Russia and China are deeply committed to integrating Iran into their Eurasian vision. Iran may finally be admitted as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the upcoming summer summit in Russia. That implies a full-fledged security/commercial/political partnership involving Russia, China, Iran and most Central Asian ’stans’.

Iran is already a founding member of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); that means financing for an array of New Silk Road-related projects bound to benefit the Iranian economy. AIIB funding will certainly merge with loans and other assistance for infrastructure development related to the Chinese-established Silk Road Fund…” (Russia, China, Iran: In sync, Pepe Escobar, Russia Today)

Get the picture? Eurasian integration is already done-deal and there’s nothing the US can do to stop it.

Washington needs to rethink its approach. Stop the meddling and antagonism, rebuild relations through trade and mutual trust, and accept the inevitability of imperial decline.

Asia’s star is rising just as America’s is setting. Deal with it.

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].

The Scourge of Nazism in Ukraine

April 20th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

What millions died for to defeat during WW II is now resurgent in Europe’s heartland.

Fascist lunatics in Washington installed overt Nazis to run their newest client state. They’re taking full advantage.

They’re waging naked aggression on Donbass – at present low-level ahead of renewing it full-blown.

Hundreds of US combat troops (trained killers) are working directly with Kiev’s Nazi-infested National Guard and other extremist groups – teaching them the fine art of murder.

Kiev Nazis want all opposition elements eliminated – either killed, imprisoned, disappeared or deported.

They want unchallenged control. The Saker reports they created a database of “separatists (and) militants, etc.”

It’s called “(i)information for law enforcement authorities and special services about pro-Russian terrorists, separatists, mercenaries, war criminals, and murderers.”

Anyone opposing fascist rule risks being eliminated one way or another.

Nazis under Hitler were notorious for radicalized torchlight parades – complete with chilling slogans and symbols.

In January, thousands of Ukrainian ultranationalists paraded in Kiev. They celebrated Nazi collabortor/mass murderer Stepan Bandera’s 106th birthday.

At the time, Czech President Milos Zeman was horrified. “There is something wrong with Ukraine,” he said.

“Yesterday evening I was browsing the Internet and discovered a video showing the demonstration on Kiev’s Maidan on January 1.”

“These demonstrators carried portraits of Stepan Bandera, which reminded me of Reinhard Heydrich” – Gestapo head and key holocaust architect.

“The parade itself was organized similar to Nazi torchlight parades, where participants shouted the slogan: ‘Death to the Poles, Jews and communists without mercy,’ ” Zeman explained.

Ukrainian fascists consider Bandera a national hero. He was a vicious mass murderer.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov calls reemergent Nazism in Ukraine a European threat.

“Torchlit marches in Ukraine demonstrate that it is continuing to move along the path of the Nazis,” he stressed – with full US support and encouragement.

They were at it again in Odessa. They marched to commemorate Maxim Chaika’s death – ultranationalist Blood and Honor group leader. He died during a 2009 street fight.

Around 200 overt Nazis were involved – marching while shouting racist/anti-communist/anti-Russian/ultranationalist slogans.

“The White man is for the Great Ukraine,” they chanted. “One race, one nation, one homeland.”

“Glory to Ukraine – the glory of heroes!” “Hang the commies.” Odessan police accompanied marchers to protect them.

Participants evoked memories of May 2, 2014 when Right Sector Nazi thugs murdered hundreds of Odessans in cold blood.

They remain unaccountable for appalling high crimes. So-called investigation into what happened whitewashed them.

State-sponsored mass murder in Ukraine is considered OK. Anyone wanting democratic freedoms is vulnerable.

Truth-telling journalists risk imprisonment or death. Nazi-infested fascist regimes tolerate no opposition.

Last week, Normandy Four foreign ministers called for ending fighting in Donbass.

Washington bears full responsibility. Its Ukrainian proxies share it. Germany and France have done nothing to halt it.

Russia alone continues going all-out to end it – impossible given Obama’s rage for war.

Last Thursday, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said “(t)he United States and its allies have crossed all possible lines in their drive to bring Kiev into their orbit.”

“That could not have failed to trigger our reaction. Aiming at complete dominance, Washington stopped taking into account the interests of other countries and respect for international law.”

On April 16, addressing Moscow’s fourth International Security Conference, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it’s “impossible to resolve the conflict in Ukraine by military force.”

“(T)here is no reasonable alternative to peacefully settling the domestic Ukrainian crisis (than) on the basis of full and unconditional compliance with” February 12 agreed on ceasefire terms.

He hopes Western officials will “force authorities in Kiev to scrap destructive policies aimed at glorifying the Nazis and persecuting those who saved Europe from” its scourge.

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.

Greece seeks to reach an agreement with its international creditors but refuses to go back on its election pledges to end austerity measures, Greek Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis told Sunday newspaper To Vima. 

“Our objective is a viable solution inside the euro,” Yannis Dragasakis told the paper. “We will not back off from the red lines we have set.”

Since being elected earlier this year, Greece’s left-wing Syriza-led government has vowed to roll back austerity measures, while still meeting financial obligations to international creditors.

Influential Nobel-laureate economist Paul Krugman echoed similar sentiments on Saturday in which he urged the government to stick to its guns over austerity measures.  During a lecture at the Athens Concert Hall, the economist encouraged the Greek government to accept an “honorable compromise”.

Negotiations between Athens and its European creditors are at a standstill, as its lenders are reviewing a list of economic reforms proposed by Greece in a bid to unlock up frozen bailout aid.  Greece was told Saturday to urgently deliver a detailed fiscal and debt plan to official lenders ahead of the April 24 gathering of the Eurogroup finance ministers in Riga, Latvia.

Since 2010, under a different government, Greece has taken close to US$256 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union, in exchange for promising impose harsh austerity measures.

 

Brazilian authorities recently approved new types of GM corn and soy meant to be used with 2,4-D chemicals, as well as a genetically modified eucalyptus trees. But it seems the country is divided. Brazil’s National Cancer Institute just echoed the World Health Organization’s concern that glyphosate, one of the most often used biotech chemicals in the world, is cancerous. What’s more, it condemns GM crops for placing the country in the top ranking globally for pesticide consumption.

So which is it – support biotech or kick them out of your country, Brazil?

If you ask Brazil’s National Cancer Institute (NCI), glyphosate use and GM crops are putting the country in the top ten for pesticide consumption – and this doesn’t bode well for keeping cancer at bay. As one of the largest agrochemical users in the world, Brazil’s cancer institute seems to be at odds with its regulatory agencies which haveallowed three new GM crops into the country just last week – new strains of GM corn and soy meant to be used with 2,4-D and GM eucalyptus trees which consume more water than non-GM trees.

In a (translated) report administered by the NCI, a part of the country’s ministry of health, GM crops are painted as devilish:

“Importantly, the release of transgenic seeds in Brazil was one of the factors responsible for putting the country in first place in the ranking of agrochemical consumption – since the cultivation of these modified seeds requires the use of large quantities of these products.

The cropping pattern with the intensive use of pesticides generates major harms, including environmental pollution and poisoning of workers and the population in general. Acute pesticide poisoning is the best known effect and affects especially those exposed in the workplace (occupational exposure). This is characterized by effects such as irritation of the skin and eyes, itching, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, spasms, breathing difficulties, seizures and death.”

As a writer from the US, I’m not one to talk; my own country’s policies toward GM crops are abominable, but the division in Brazil’s Ministry of Health and the biotech-supporting Agricultural Ministry of Brazil are at least indicative of some truth telling. Both our Departments of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control, along with other Federal agencies, are complicit in ignoring the true damage that GM farming causes.

The NCI’s report also explains:

“The most recent results of the Analytical Program on Pesticide Residues of Brazil’s health agency ANVISA revealed samples with pesticide residues above the maximum permissible limit.”

Many of the pesticides present in Brazil’s food had never been registered in Brazil nor allowed by government agencies.

Considering that new GM corn and soy strains will be used with heavy doses of 2,4-D, it looks like Brazil, like the US, has a long way to go to rid the country of biotech influence. The NCI’s report is at least a start.

Additional Sources:

Image from: SustainablePulse

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By Johannes Stern and Denis Krassnin:

The German federal government is moving towards re-introducing a controversial system of mass domestic data retention. The plan was announced by justice minister Heiko Maas (Social Democratic Party, SPD) and interior minister Thomas de Maizière (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) last week.

The Supreme Court annulled the then legal foundation of data retention in 2010 on the grounds that data protection, data security, transparency and access rights were not clearly enough regulated. Last year, the European Court overturned an EU directive on data retention, ruling that it infringed the fundamental right to privacy and the protection of personal data.

At a press conference in Berlin, Maas presented the new guidelines for mass data retention. The guidelines state that “traffic data generated in telecommunications,” will be retained by the telecommunications companies for up to ten weeks, and can be passed upon request to “law enforcement” agencies.

What would be retained is,

“in particular, the numbers of the telephone connections involved, the time and duration of the call; for mobile calls, the location data, as well as IP addresses, including the date and duration of the assignment of an IP address.”

Zeit Online stated that such data retention is “a step towards total surveillance” of the population. The publication commented,

“Data retention means that the information about who, where, when someone talked or emailed or texts is stored. Whether someone is a suspect or not, it should be possible for months to trace who has spoken with whom and how often.”

This has far-reaching consequences. Using the retained data, the police and the intelligence agencies can establish retroactively, who has communicated with whom, when, where and for how long, and which web sites each person visited. The state would thus be in a position to make a complete profile of any citizen’s movements and to monitor their social and political activities.

De Maizière, who has systematically sought to increase the state’s powers at home and has long pushed aggressively for the reintroduction of data retention, described the guidelines as a “good and wise compromise.” Maas, who until recently posed as a critic of data retention, said that it was only about “better solving serious crimes in the future.” He pledged that profiles of people’s movements would not be made and that “civil rights and liberties” would be safeguarded.

This is complete hogwash. Maas’ guidelines merely regulate the retention, but not access to the data. This is regulated by other laws, such as the Protection of the Constitution Act. The guidelines explicitly allow individual federal states to define their own access rules.

In the opinion of experts, other than the shorter retention time, nothing has changed concerning the illegality of data retention. The law is not about fighting terrorism and crime, but the “total surveillance” of the population.

In an interview with broadcaster Deutschland Funk, former federal data protection commissioner Peter Schaar said that the new law also gives rise to the accusation of “general suspicion.” As before, it concerns “a widespread, not event-driven retention.”

The reintroduction of mass data retention in Germany is only one element of a massive increase in domestic state powers. At the end of March, the government adopted legislation that hugely expands the powers of the security agencies and provides the basis for a centralized police and intelligence apparatus.

An interior ministry press release elaborated the “core objectives” of the law. To ensure “better cooperation within the various domestic intelligence agencies,” the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV, as the secret service is called) would have its “central office function strengthened.” The BfV supports “the state secret service agencies, coordinates cooperation and in certain cases, if need be, can even be involved in surveillance.”

In addition, it concerns “improving the flow of information” and the “development of analytical skills.” “All relevant information must be exchanged between the intelligence authorities,” where “the joint network system NADIS (Intelligence Information System) should be used,” the press release states.

NADIS is a non-public automated data network system in which the various secret service agencies are linked at federal and state level. According to Wikipedia, in 2013, it contained the “personal records” of about 1.6 million so-called “targets.” By merging “the relevant information in NADIS,” “cross-state relationships and structures [should be] more visible” and “information islands” avoided.

As stated in the bill: “The federal organization of the unified overall secret service task must not be accompanied by a fragmentation of the information base and archaic work tools.” Even in the

“area of non-violence-oriented surveillance … a comprehensive structured storage of existing knowledge about events and people [must] form the basis for merging information in the network capable of analysis.”

“Blind spots in cross-state links” would be overcome “with the network solution.”

The various intelligence agencies would be better linked. For example, the “automated retrieval of files stored by the BfV” should be made possible for the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD). At the same time, “the automated retrieval of data” from the MAD “central reference file” would be possible for the secret services.

This legal phraseology is deployed to hide the creation of a centralized police and intelligence apparatus, which aspires to comprehensively spy upon the population and permit the exchange of data between security agencies.

The full text of the more than 70-page draft bill is an attack on basic constitutional principles. The constitutionally enshrined principle of the separation of police and secret services, which was increasingly weakened in the past, will more or less be abolished.

The separation of police and secret services was written into the constitution after the experiences of the Nazi dictatorship, to prevent a highly centralised and all-powerful state apparatus of repression from developing again. The Nazis’ Secret State Police (Gestapo) gradually combined all the powers of the police and intelligence agencies to terrorize the population.

Such traditions live on in today’s security authorities in Germany. In recent months, more and more facts have come to light demonstrating the close involvement of the intelligence agencies and the police in the right-wing terrorist group the “National Socialist Underground” (NSU). It is now known that at least 25 undercover secret service agents were active in the immediate environment of the NSU, and that right-wing organizations such as the Thuringia Homeland Security and the Baden Württemberg branch of the Ku Klux Klan were built and financed by the secret service.

According to the legislation, such controversial undercover agents may now officially commit crimes in the future. De Maizière declared in parliament that “serious offences” by undercover agents were “justified,” in his view, if they could prevent an “attack.” His principle was, “The more serious the offence, the more weight the conceivable information needs.” This is nothing more than a call for state-sanctioned crimes.

Seventy years after the end of World War II, the German elites are removing all the restrictions of the post-war period in domestic politics too. They are preparing to suppress growing resistance to their austerity measures and unpopular polices of militarism and war by force if necessary.

The Interior Ministry’s plan to establish a heavily armed paramilitary “anti-terrorist unit“ of the Federal Police must be seen in this context. At the same time, the Interior Ministry budget will rise by 6.7 percent to €6.6 billion as early as next year. Hundreds of millions of additional euros will flow directly into upgrading the surveillance and repressive apparatus of the police and intelligence agencies.

First we learned that Operation Jade Helm 15 is coming this summer from mid-July through mid-September to a Southwest neighborhood near you stretching from Texas to California. Per government sources and their mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post, it’s nothing more than a benign massive military drill designed to test how effectively US Special Operations forces can covertly and as seamlessly as possible embed themselves into the civilian populace as a mere security training exercise to keep us all safe in the future. The Washington Post March 31st headline - “Why Operation Jade Helm 15 is Freaking out the Internet and Why it Shouldn’t Be” - then goes on to list several alternative news sites like InfoWars making the claim that martial law in America is coming soon.

According to last August’s CNN poll, an all-time high of 87% of Americans simply do not trust their own government nor mainstream media as truthful or credible. More and more Americans are turning to alternative news sources in an attempt to find out what’s really going on in their world.

But the rash of “sky is falling” headlines from the internet news sources have created a media firestorm. Millions of Americans could hardly be consoled by the Washington Post article encouraging them not to worry that our government once again is up to no good. Instead those distrusting MSM believe Jade Helm 15 is a training exercise that will pave the way for US martial law similar to how the Boston Marathon false flag was a litmus test for martial law imposed on a major US metropolitan city. Except this time Jade Helm’s unprecedented size and scope covers a large expansive area taking up the southwestern quadrant of the United States.

The US military has designated certain states like Texas, Utah and part of Southern California during this operation as “hostile,” adding that “New Mexico isn’t much friendlier.” That the one time reputable DC newspaper that broke Watergate in the 70’s describes the Jade Helm operation in terms as if it were some kind of board game like Risk or Monopoly doesn’t help its already dubious credibility. Millions of Americans have realized their own oligarchic government has betrayed them and their interests and simply can no longer be trusted. So in the eyes of the feds, that would automatically make them “hostile.” The Post article also list several past covert military operations where states have been labeled as hostile territory for purposes of the training exercises. And of course that they went by unnoticed should give us solace the Jade’s outcome will be no different.

Now that the fascist totalitarian oligarchy posing as our federal government has been busily expanding its military wars from the Middle East to American soil against its own law abiding citizens, the Post tells us we shouldn’t worry. George W Bush once infamously proclaimed “you’re either with us or against us.”

The fact that police in America armed with the same heavy weaponry look identical to US combat troops fighting foreign wars are now murdering unarmed US citizens at an unprecedented rate, we shouldn’t worry? The number of Americans civilians since 9/11 killed by militant police is closing in on the number of American soldiers killed in action fighting in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (as of a year ago 6802). Though no actual records are conveniently kept of police killing Americans, a year and a half ago it was reported that estimates of over 5000 Americans were killed by police since 9/11. Tack on the mounting numbers of police killings that have increased exponentially in the last year and a half and it could well exceed the KIA’s from foreign wars by now. That tells us the same counterinsurgency wars the US has been brutally waging on foreign soil is now being fought against us in the streets of America. As such, we stand to lose our life 55 times greater from our own police than any actual terrorists. And if you happen to be an African American male, that likelihood skyrockets.

As of the 2012 NDAA, military forces can enter our homes without warrants or charges and lock us up indefinitely without trial or legal representation. And according to that Washington Post article, apparently we should have no concerns about Special Forces showing up at our doorstep or roaming through our neighborhoods for several months over the summer. Our friendly state propagandist Washington Post says that when the elite wing of Big Brother’s killing machine invades our local communities, we should actually feel safer. Military spokesman Army Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria’s e-mail stated, “Training exercise Jade Helm is going to assist our Special Operations Soldiers and leadership in refining the skills needed against an ever changing foreign threat.” And we should all believe this because the military has such a great track record of always telling us the truth.

From the Boston Marathon bombings to Sandy Hook, the government has been executing false flags for purposes of imposing absolute NWO control over its citizens. Ever since the neocons’ inside 9/11 job the feds have used their “national security” card ad nauseam as their flimsy excuse to willfully betray our Constitution that they all swore oaths to uphold. And in its place treasonous governments in the West have systematically enacted draconian Orwellian laws of tyranny and oppression to conveniently vilify citizens bold enough to demand their civil liberties and privacy rights back. We dissidents who do not approve of our government’s obliteration of our constitutional rights have become the feds’ targeted enemy and deemed potential homegrown terrorists. Even homecoming veterans from US foreign wars are perceived as threats.

The international criminal cabal beholding to the Western oligarchs has infiltrated and hijacked the governments of Israel and the United States as well as Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan. We have a crime syndicate that has protected the international banksters who’ve been laundering drug money for multiple decades in its international drug trade. There’s nothing new here as the Bush crime family has been running drugs from South and Central America since the 1970’s. For years the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the State Department, the CIA, the FBI, the US military and their paramilitary private contractors have been flooding America and especially its inner cities with drugs – crack cocaine from Latin America and heroin from Afghanistan. High levels of the US government have partnered with drug cartels from Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Central America, and Dominican Republic to maintain their criminal activities. At the same time, ever since the late 1970’s high levels within these same US rogue crime agencies have also been partnering with al Qaeda/ISIS to create their invented “war on terror.”

And now if you believe many of the independent media sources, as of this summer all these sinister elements appear to be converging to soon cause catastrophic upheaval in the US Southwest, likely to change America forever. According to Judicial Watch earlier this week, the independent federal watchdog organization revealed that the US government is complicit with both the Mexican government and the Sinaloa drug cartel to be involved in joint training camp operations with ISIS a few miles from El Paso, Texas across the border in Mexico. Judicial Watch claims a Mexican military field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector are among its sources. The camp is said to be located just eight miles from the US border. Despite the US intelligence community being well aware of this claim that terrorists might be currently training a few miles from our border and apparently planning an alleged invasion of the United States, President Obama as commander-in-chief apparently is laying low with only the already announced plans of Jade Helm operations that neither include a false flag war involving ISIS nor World War III as much of the internet media is all abuzz.

Between the US State Department’s Fast and Furious gun smuggling operation that was caught “inadvertently” arming drug cartels several years ago, and the feds’ funding and secret backing of ISIS as their proxy mercenary allies, several independent media sites maintain that a covert operation involving ISIS’ hybrid terrorists have been “slipping” across the border into the United States as provocateur forces designed to kill American citizens. Jade Helm and this latest ISIS piece converging on the states bordering Mexico are said to be the Obama excuse he’s been planning to implement martial law, illegally arresting American dissidents after a false flag event where Americans are murdered by the feds’ terrorist stooges.

Even more alarming is The Common Sense Show’s  Dave Hodges most recent post including photos of surface to air missiles at a US Air Force base that literally appeared overnight near Lubbock, Texas. In the designated hostile state of Texas, Hodges believes more than just martial law will be initiated but an actual US invasion and World War III is planned.

These days it is becoming increasingly more difficult to ferret out the truth, be it mainstream or independent media sources. A major strategy the federal government commonly uses to discredit alternative media is planting disinformation within its ranks. Government moles have infiltrated the so called independent online media, intentionally muddying the waters so murky as to obscure the facts. When alternative sites cry out that the sky is falling and then it doesn’t, it conditions consumers of independent media to no longer believe them either, thus rendering all independent news outlets “whacked out conspiracy theorists.” Through various PSYOPS the US intelligence community has targeted both social media as well as alternative news media as viably effective outlets to spread further disinformation and propaganda lies. Of course this malicious agenda of the US government purposely keeping Americans uninformed in the dark, too dumbed down and confused, not knowing who or what to believe or trust as the actual truth, is exactly where the feds want us.

After checking with their inside sources, Veterans Today editors Gordon Duff and Jim W. Dean have drawn the conclusion that the neocon feds have purposely used Jade Helm 15 to deceive and discredit independent news sources that are running with the ISIS invasion story.

This writer is uncertain of the coming events this summer. I’m unwilling to completely rule out the dire forecast of “an ISIS invasion” while simultaneously I’m unwilling to trust what the feds, the military or the Washington Post claim Jade Helm will bring as well. It bears in mind today to be skeptical in a healthy way toward any and all news outlets. Unfortunately it requires some vigilance and a willingness to do homework cross-checking sources to arrive at a more informed and accurate assessment of what may actually be transpiring in the world. By design the sub-standard educational system fails miserably in teaching discriminative, critical thinking amongst our population. Many people of course don’t have the luxury of time to invest in seeking out multiple sources to arrive at the truth in their fast paced, muddled, upside down world. Too many hidden agendas from both the right and the left carry misinformation and deception, whether intended or not. Ultimately the rule of thumb should minimally be to check the sources of whatever news information you utilize in order to draw your own conclusions.

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

Political Murders in Kiev, US Troops to Ukraine

April 20th, 2015 by Rep. Ron Paul

Last week two prominent Ukrainian opposition figures were gunned down in broad daylight. They join as many as ten others who have been killed or committed suicide under suspicious circumstances just this year. These individuals have one important thing in common: they were either part of or friendly with the Yanukovych government, which a US-backed coup overthrew last year. They include members of the Ukrainian parliament and former chief editors of major opposition newspapers.

While some journalists here in the US have started to notice the strange series of opposition killings in Ukraine, the US government has yet to say a word.

Compare this to the US reaction when a single opposition figure was killed in Russia earlier this year. Boris Nemtsov was a member of a minor political party that was not even represented in the Russian parliament. Nevertheless the US government immediately demanded that Russia conduct a thorough investigation of his murder, suggesting the killers had a political motive.

As news of the Russian killing broke, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA) did not wait for evidence to blame the killing on Russian president Vladimir Putin. On the very day of Nemtsov’s murder, Royce told the US media that, “this shocking murder is the latest assault on those who dare to oppose the Putin regime.”

Neither Royce, nor Secretary of State John Kerry, nor President Obama, nor any US government figure has said a word about the series of apparently political murders in Ukraine.

On the contrary, instead of questioning the state of democracy in what looks like a lawless Ukraine, the Administration is sending in the US military to help train Ukrainian troops!

Last week, just as the two political murders were taking place, the US 173rd Airborne Brigade landed in Ukraine to begin training Ukrainian national guard forces – and to leave behind some useful military equipment. Though the civil unrest continues in Ukraine, the US military is assisting one side in the conflict – even as the US slaps sanctions on Russia over accusations it is helping out the other side!

As the ceasefire continues to hold, though shakily, what kind of message does it send to the US-backed government in Kiev to have US troops arrive with training and equipment and an authorization to gift Kiev with some $350 million in weapons? Might they not take this as a green light to begin new hostilities against the breakaway regions in the east?

The Obama administration is so inconsistent in its foreign policy. In some places, particularly Cuba and Iran, the administration is pursuing a policy that looks to diplomacy and compromise to help improve decades of bad relations. In these two cases the administration realizes that the path of confrontation has led nowhere. When the president announced his desire to see the end of Cuba sanctions, he stated very correctly that, “…we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new.”

So while Obama is correctly talking about sanctions relief for Iran and Cuba, he is adding more sanctions on Russia, backing Saudi Arabia’s brutal attack on Yemen, and pushing ever harder for regime change in Syria. Does he really believe the rest of the world does not see these double standards? A wise consistency of non-interventionism in all foreign affairs would be the correct course for this and future US administrations. Let us hope they will eventually follow Obama’s observation that, “it’s time to try something new.”

If broken indoors, compact fluorescent (CF) light bulbs release 20 times the maximum acceptable mercury concentration into the air, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Fraunhofer Wilhelm Klauditz Institute for German’s Federal Environment Agency.

CF bulbs use only 20 percent as much energy as traditional incandescent bulbs and have become highly popular among consumers seeking to reduce both their energy bills and their climate footprints. The European Union has already begun to implement a phase out of incandescent bulbs.

Unlike incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs or LED bulbs, however, CF bulbs are made with mercury, a potent neurotoxin that is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women. For the new study, the researchers tested a worst case scenario for two different CF bulbs that lacked a protective casing. Both bulbs were broken indoors when hot. One bulb contained 2 milligrams of mercury, while the other contained 5 milligrams.

When broken, the bulbs released roughly 7 micrograms of mercury into the air, 20 times the British government’s recommended maximum exposure of 0.35 micrograms. Mercury levels remained elevated at floor levels for up to five hours after breakage.

There is no safe level of exposure to mercury.

“The presence of mercury is the downside to energy-saving lamps,” said Federal Environment Agency president Jochen Flasbarth. “We need a lamp technology that can prevent mercury pollution soon. ‘The positive and necessary energy savings of up to 80 per cent as compared with light bulbs must go hand in hand with a safe product that poses no risks to health.”

If a CF bulb breaks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you shut off all central air or heating and then ventilate and evacuate the room for 10 minutes. The bulb should then be cleaned up, such as with a damp cloth, and placed into a sealable container. The debris should be placed outside until it can be taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility.

All CF bulbs should be disposed of as hazardous waste, never in household trash.

Sources for this story include: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-13….

The US Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that over a more than two-decade period before 2000, nearly every FBI examiner gave flawed forensic hair testimony in almost all trials of criminal defendants reviewed so far, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The cases examined include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death, 14 of whom have been either executed or died in prison. The scandal raises the very real probability that innocent people have been sent to their deaths, and that many more wrongfully convicted are languishing on death rows across the US due to FBI analysts’ fraudulent testimony.

Testimony involving pattern-based forensic techniques—such as hair, bite-mark, and tire track comparisons—has contributed to wrongful convictions in more than a quarter of the 329 defendants’ cases that have been exonerated in the US since 1989. In their pursuit of convictions prosecutors across the country have often relied on FBI analysts’ overstated testimony on hair samples, incorrectly citing them as definitive proof of a defendant’s guilt.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project are assisting the government in the nation’s largest post-conviction review of the FBI’s questioned forensic evidence. The groups determined that 26 of 28 examiners in the elite FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far.

The nation’s courts have allowed the bogus testimony, masquerading as definitive scientific evidence of defendants’ guilt, to railroad innocent people and consign them to decades in prison, life in prison, or death row and the execution chamber.

Federal authorities launched an investigation in 2012 after a Post examination found that flawed forensic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people nationwide since at least the 1970s. Defendants in these cases were typically charged with murder, rape and other violent crimes.

The scandal involves about 2,500 cases in which FBI examiners gave testimony involving hair matches. Hair examination is a pattern-based forensic technique. It involves subjective examination of characteristics such as color, thickness and length and compares them to a known source.

There is no accepted scientific research on how often hair from different people may appear the same, and any hair “matches” must be confirmed by DNA analysis. However, the Post ’s 2012 review found that FBI experts systematically testified to the near-certainty of matches of hair found at crime scenes to the hair samples of defendants. The FBI gave flawed forensic testimony in 257 of the 268 trials examined so far.

In 2002, a decade before the Post review, the FBI reported that its own DNA testing revealed that examiners reported false hair matches more than 11 percent of the time.

In Washington, DC, the only jurisdiction where defenders and prosecutors have carried out an investigation into all convictions based on FBI hair testimony, five of seven defendants whose trials included flawed hair evidence have been exonerated since 2009 based on either DNA testing or court appeals. All of them served 20 to 30 years in prison for rape or murder.

In an interview with the Post, University of Virginia law professor Brandon L. Garrett said the results of the DC investigation reveal a “mass disaster” inside the criminal justice system. “The tools don’t exist to handle systematic errors in our criminal justice system,” he said.

Those exonerated since 2009 in DC include:

* Donald Eugene Gates was incarcerated for 28 years for the rape and murder of a Georgetown University student. He was ordered released in December 2009 by a DC Superior Court Judge after DNA evidence revealed that another man committed the crime. The prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of an FBI analyst, who falsely linked two hairs from an African-American mail to Gates.

* Kirk L. Odom was wrongfully imprisoned for more than 22 years for a 1981 rape and murder. He completed his prison term in 2003, but it was not until July 2012 that DNA evidence exonerated him of the crimes. A DC Superior Court order freed him from remaining on parole until 2047 and registering as a sex offender.

* Santae A. Tribble was convicted in the 1978 killing of a DC taxi driver. An FBI examiner testifying at Tribble’s trial said he had microscopically matched the defendant’s hair to one found in a stocking near the crime scene. In 2012, DNA tests on the same hair excluded him as the perpetrator, clearing the way for his exoneration.

Federal authorities are offering new DNA testing in those cases where FBI analysts gave flawed forensic testimony. However, in some 700 of the 2,500 cases identified by the FBI for review, police or prosecutors have not responded to requests for trial transcripts or other information. Biological evidence is also not always available, having been lost or destroyed in the years since trial.

Although defense attorneys argue that scientifically invalid testimony should be considered a violation of due process, only the states of California and Texas specifically allow appeals when experts recant their testimony or scientific advances undermine forensic evidence given at trial.

In a statement responding to the new scandal’s eruption, the FBI and Justice Department vowed that they are “committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance” and that they are “also committed to ensuring the accuracy of future hair analysis, as well as the application of all disciplines of forensic science.”

The scandal over fraudulent testimony, however, only reveals the corrupt and anti-democratic character of the US prison system as a whole. The United States locks behind bars a greater proportion of its population than any other country, topped off by the barbaric death penalty that is supported by the entire political establishment.

Whatever the hypocritical posturing of the Obama White House, it cannot bring back the years spent in prison by the wrongfully convicted or the lives of those likely executed for crimes they did not commit.

On Saturday, April 18th, the Commander of  the U.S. Army in Europe, Ben Hodges, told Britain’s Telegraph  that “There is a Russian threat,” and that “The best insurance we have against a showdown is that NATO stands together.”

Ever since the Soviet Union’s military alliance, the Warsaw Pact, dissolved in 1991, NATO has expanded eastward to Russia’s borders, and now it is preparing to admit yet another nation on Russia’s border: Ukraine. This eastward expansion broke (and breaks, since it’s continuing) a verbal agreement which had produced the termination of the Warsaw Pact (the Soviet Union’s equivalent of America’s NATO alliance).

In February 1990, U.S. President George H.W. Bush sent his Secretary of State, James Baker, to Moscow to negotiate with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev an end to the Cold War. According to Jack Matlock, the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union then, Baker offered Gorbachev the following deal:

“Assuming there is no expansion of NATO jurisdiction to the East, not one inch, what would you prefer, a Germany embedded in NATO, or one that can go independently in any direction it chooses.”

Baker knew that Russia, after Hitler’s invasion of Russia in June 1941 (“Operation Barbarossa”), feared, more than anything, the possibility that an independent Germany would build a nuclear-weapons force and use it against Russia. According to Ray McGovern’s account of the meeting, Gorbachev “wasted little time agreeing to the deal.”

McGovern, a retired high official of the CIA, blames U.S. President Bill Clinton for breaking that verbal agreement. Gorbachev had gotten nothing in writing from Baker on it, but acted on Baker’s verbal promise. No one has explained why, but the presumption has always been that Baker made clear to Gorbachev that congressional Republicans would have blocked approval of any deal to limit future NATO expansion. Hardly anyone, at that time, would have expected a Democratic Party initiative to expand NATO after its supposed reason-for-existence had ended; but, this is what happened, when the conservative, pro-Wall-Street, Democrat, Bill Clinton, won the White House. (Bill Clinton ended Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Glass-Steagall Act regulation of Wall Street, and then, aided by Wall Street, became enormously wealthy himself with his Foundation. He used liberal rhetoric to hide his conservative objectives, so as to be able to win votes in the Democratic Party.)

McGovern writes,

“Clinton bragged about proposing NATO enlargement at his first NATO summit in 1994, saying it ‘should enlarge steadily, deliberately, openly.’ He never explained why.”

This move on Clinton’s part assured Clinton, in retirement, the support of his Foundation not only by Wall Street but also now by the ‘defense’ industry, for which NATO serves as the international marketing arm. Expanding NATO means expanding the sales of U.S.-made tanks, bombers, etc.

So: this is the reason why the U.S. lied to Gorbachev, and why U.S. President Barack Obama in February 2014, continued further along Clinton’s path, by overthrowing the neutralist Ukrainian government and replacing it with a racist-fascist, or ideologically nazi, rabidly anti-Russian government, bent on Russia’s destruction, which has subsequently been bombing the region of Ukraine, Donbass, that had voted 90% for the man whom Obama overthrew, and that would, if the residents there survive within Ukraine, strongly oppose the construction of nuclear-weapons sites aimed against next-door Russia.

McGovern says:

“Clinton’s tough-guy-ism toward Russia was, in part, a response to even more aggressive NATO plans from Clinton’s Republican opponent Bob Dole, who had been calling for incorporating Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary as full members of NATO and had accused Clinton of “dragging his feet” on this. Clinton was not about to be out-toughed. Those three countries joined NATO in 1999, starting a trend. By April 2009, nine more countries became members, bringing the post-Cold War additions to 12 – equal to the number of the original 12 NATO states.” Ukraine would make that 13.

Here is the percentage-breakdown of the nations that are selling the most weapons:

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 3.11.05 PM

The S&P Aerospace and Defense Index stood at 2,451.18 on 20 January 2009 when Obama was inaugurated, and is at 8,692.26 as of 17 April 2015. That’s 3.55 times what it was at the start. The S&P 500 Index on 20 January 2009 was at 805.22, and on 17 April 2015 was 2,081.18; that’s 2.58 times what it was at the start. So: during Obama’s Presidency thus far, ‘defense’ stocks have gained 38% more than the total market has.

So, now we understand what Ben Hodges is selling when he sells the ‘Russian threat.’ The competition to be hired by ‘defense’ firms is intense, and he does what he must to win in his chosen field.

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

South Africa’s Apartheid regime is remembered as one of the worst crimes against humanity of the 20th century. The White monopoly capitalist system that underpinned Apartheid remains alive and well today. White monopoly capitalism is the post-Apartheid economic system, whereby Whites continue to exert disproportional and undemocratic control over the nation’s economy, land, media and judicial system.

The American investment bank, Citigroup, recently ranked South Africa as the world’s richest country, in terms of its mineral reserves, worth an estimated $2.5 trillion. South African Whites and Western foreigners own a staggering 80 percent of this wealth.

South Africa is unquestionably, the world’s most racially unequal society.

Whites comprise only 12 percent of the population. Thanks to the past 350 years of racist exploitation, Whites owned 87 percent of agricultural land by Independence Day, 1994. During these twenty-one post-colonial years, precious little has changed. One exception is that Black people in rural areas have lost 600,000 jobs since Independence. This has created a great wave of migration into urban townships.

South African townships have served as both the location of recent xenophobic violence, as well as the catalytic cause of the violence. During the Apartheid Era, White monopoly capitalists created the township. The process included evicting Black people from properties that were in areas designated as “White only”, and relocating them into urban townships. Blacks were forced to move into squalid, overcrowded and segregated townships, designed to mould the Black labour force into an orderly, submissive underclass.

Streets of grim “matchbox houses” were arranged in strict grids and surrounded by a fence with only one or two points of entry, allowing the White regime’s police to seal off entire neighbourhoods with minimal effort. In such a setting, violence was both naturalised and easily-instigated for political purposes. To this day, Blacks in townships still have to contend with non-existent sanitation and electricity services, as well as rampant crime.

Far from being a Rainbow Nation, ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa’s townships exposes the nation’s further entrenchment into two separate and unequal societies: one, predominantly Black and poor, located in the townships; the other, largely White and affluent, located in the suburbs.

What White monopoly capitalists have never quite understood, but what the Black South African can never forget, is the degree to which White capital is deeply implicated in the township. White institutions created it; White institutions maintain it; and White society condones it.

Edgar Pietrise of the University of Cape Town explains how Cape Town for instance, “was conceived with a White-only centre, surrounded by contained settlements for the Black and coloured labour forces to the east, each deliberately hemmed in by highways and rail lines, rivers and valleys, and separated from the affluent White suburbs by protective buffer zones of scrubland.”

When Nelson Mandela was released from 27 years in prison in 1990, the Black townships exploded in endless celebration. Today, after twenty one years of the ANC government, which has been more concerned with appeasing White monopoly capital than redistributing land and resources to poor Blacks, townships have exploded into violence.

The xenophobic Black-on-Black violence spreading across South Africa is a direct result of centuries of White-on-Black violence and oppression.

Franz Fanon, who was an expert on the psychology of colonial violence noted that the historical and current system of White-on-Black violence sends messages of Black inferiority that are so powerful that many Black people succumb to them, ultimately becoming defined by them.

Internalised racism, a term first coined by Black scholar W.E.B. DuBois in 1903, involves accepting a White supremacist social order that places Black people at the bottom, and adopting society’s negative stereotypes about Blacks concerning their lack of abilities, inherent violence and low intrinsic worth.

Internalised racism is a major legacy of Apartheid. South African society historically judges violence inflicted on Blacks less harshly than violence against Whites; consequently, Black people begin to believe that their own life and the lives of other Black African people are worth very little. Thereby creating the preconditions for the ongoing Afrophobic violence.

Filtered through the racist lens of the predominantly White-owned South African media, xenophobia is portrayed as merely further examples of “Black-on-Black” violence by an inherently unruly and violent underbelly of society. The four major media houses are still largely White and male-owned; collectively, they control over 80 percent of what South Africans watch and read. The White media focuses on the symptom rather than the disease by steering the national discourse away from broader issues of income inequality and economic democratisation, towards narrow issues of vandalism, looting and general criminality.

Xenophobia can be defined as a “hatred, dislike or fear of foreigners”; combining the Greek xenos (“foreign”) with phobos (“fear”). Internalized racism demonstrates itself as the absence of attacks against White immigrants because Black African immigrants are pejoratively portrayed by the media as “foreigners”; whereas, Whites are considered “tourists” or “expats”.

Whilst Black immigrants are being brutalized in townships, White immigrants are allowed to visit townships and take advantage of cute spaces carved out for tourists among the shacks and wastelands.

Thanks, in part, to the 2010 Fifa World Cup, major cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg offer so-called “safe streets” where tourists can enjoy the sights and sounds of ordinary township life. In Soweto, for instance, a pleasant stroll down Vilakazi Street takes in the old house of Nelson Mandela and the current homes of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Desmond Tutu, along with cafes offering cold beer and traditional African cuisine.

All that is required is that you turn a blind eye to the appalling standard of living endured by the slum’s Black inhabitants.

A few kilometers away at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, The Economist newspaper notes that among the 295 companies on the Exchange, only 4 percent of the CEOs are Black. Despite twenty years of South African democracy, five White-owned companies still control 75 percent of South Africa’s stock market. It’s the largest concentration of wealth and power on earth.

Corporate powers, which financially underwrote Apartheid in South Africa, are reminiscent of the great German companies that ran the Third Reich’s economy. The only difference between the Third Reich and Apartheid is that “reconciliation” in Germany did not leave pro-Nazi financiers in business; whereas in South Africa, those financiers are still firmly in control. These White-owned companies benefit immensely from cheap Black labour, tourist revenue and retail profits that stream out of townships everyday.

Neo-Apartheid companies in South Africa made record profits for Western shareholders since democracy in 1994; all the while, they shed hundreds of thousands of jobs. At independence, unemployment stood at 15 percent; today, that figure has skyrocketed to 25 percent. Instead of employing South Africans, major White-owned companies have sought to increase shareholder profits by outsourcing jobs abroad and hiring exploitable, African foreigners at home.

The nation’s largest labour union, Cosatu, has just said that, “White monopoly capital in the hospitality and retail industry” had deliberately chosen to employ foreigners over their South African counterparts in order to exploit foreigners. The United Nations’ Office for Refugees confirmed that the recent wave of xenophobic, “attacks began in late March following an apparent labour dispute involving South African and foreign workers”.

The tragic irony of ongoing xenophobic attacks is that at least six Africans have lost their lives, and yet those Africans all came from nations that harbored South African freedom fighters during the War of Liberation against the White Apartheid regime.

All the while, during Apartheid, Britain was the single biggest investor in South Africa, followed by the United States, both yielding the highest return on capital in the world. The United States and the other Western capitalist governments not only supported, but directly benefited from the racist Apartheid regime. To this day, a large portion of South Africa’s budget pays Apartheid-era debt to Western nations. This means that Black people pay for their oppression twice over.

The power of White monopoly capital to dispossess, oppress and exploit Black people cannot be overstated. The willing and conscious ally, in the form of an African government, routinely places the interests of White capital over Black labour.

Apartheid, literally meaning “apartness”, transformed Black Africans into foreigners on their own land. For as long as Black South Africans continue to be foreigners to their own economy, living outside the borders of affluent neighbourhoods, violence will continue to tear at the very fabric of the so-called “Rainbow Nation”.

Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on [email protected]

According to the World Bank in the nineties, it was expected (and hoped) that some 400 million people in Indian agriculture would be moving out of the sector by 2015. To help them on their way, farming had to be made financially non-viable and policies formulated to facilitate the process.

Food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma describes the situation:

“India is on fast track to bring agriculture under corporate control… Amending the existing laws on land acquisition, water resources, seed, fertilizer, pesticides and food processing, the government is in overdrive to usher in contract farming and encourage organized retail. This is exactly as per the advice of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as well as the international financial institutes.”

He notes that in its 2008 World Development Report, the World Bank wanted India to hasten the process by accelerating land acquisitions and launching a network of training institutes to train younger people in rural areas so as to make them eligible for industrial work. This is now happening, especially the highly contentious push to facilitate private corporations‘ access to land, which has been sparking mass protests across the country.

Sharma describes how US subsidies and global trade policies work to benefit hugely wealthy agribusiness corporations, while serving to cripple the agricultural sectors of poorer countries. The massive subsidies doled out by the US to its giant agribusiness companies lower global produce prices and buck markets in favour of Washington. The US has also included non-trade barriers (such as various health standards and regulations) to keep agricultural imports out. At the same time, India has opened its markets and support for its own farmers is being cut. Farmers are thus being left to the vagaries of a global market slanted in favour of US interests.

As India’s farmers face increasing financial distress and foreign private players try to move in to secure land and the seed, food processing and food retail sectors, what is happening courtesy of compliant politicians is tantamount to cannibalizing the country at the behest of foreign interests.

Western agribusiness has already gained an influential foothold in India and many of the country’s national public bodies. Along with US food processing giants Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, agribusiness aims to recast the rural economy (and thus Indian society, given that hundreds of millions depend on it for a living) according to its own needs. This would mean eventually moving over 600 million (never mind the previously mentioned figure of 400 million) who depend on agriculture and local food processing activities into urban areas.

Monsanto already dominates the cotton industry in the country and is increasingly shaping agri-policy and the knowledge paradigm by funding agricultural research in public universities and institutes (see here). Moreover, public regulatory bodies are now severely compromised and riddled with conflicts of interest where decision-making over GMOs are concerned.

But this is the nature of the ‘globalization’ agenda: the goal is to ‘capture’ and ‘exploit’ foreign markets and their policy/regulatory bodies. The culture of neoliberalism is exemplified by APCO Worldwide, a major ‘global communications, stakeholder engagement and business strategy’ company that Narendra Modi has been associated with in the past. In APCO’s India Brochure, there is the claim that India’s resilience in weathering the global downturn and financial crisis has made governments, policy-makers, economists, corporate houses and fund managers believe that India can play a significant role in the recovery of the global economy in the months and years ahead. APCO describes India as a trillion dollar market.

No mention of ordinary people or poor farmers. The focus is on profit, funds and money because for the readers of such documents all of this constitutes ‘growth’ – a positive sounding notion sold to the masses that in reality means corporate profit. It forms part of an ideology that attempts to disguise the nature of a system that has produced austerity, disempowerment and increasing hardship for the bulk of the population and the concentration of ever more wealth and power in the hands of the few who now dictate policies to nation states.

Take a brief look at what happened in Britain when the neoliberal globalization strategy took hold there. As with Modi, Margaret Thatcher was a handmaiden to rich interests.

During the eighties, the Thatcher government set the wheels in motion to shut down the coal mining industry. The outcome destroyed communities across the country, and they have never recovered. Crime-ridden, drug-ridden and shells of their former selves, these towns and villages and the people in them were thrown onto the scrapheap. The industry was killed because it was deemed ‘uneconomical’. And yet it now costs more to keep a person on the dole than it would to employ them at the minimum wage, the country imports coal at a higher cost than it would to have kept the pits open and Britain has to engage in costly illegal wars to secure its oil and gas energy needs, which coal could largely provide (Britain has over 1,000 years of coal supply in the ground). In fact, before 1970, Britain got all its gas from its own coal.

The economics just do not add up. Former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill fought to save the mining industry and now asks where is the sense in all of this (see thisthis and this).

The same happened across the manufacturing sector, from steel to engineering to shipbuilding. And a similar process occurred in the fishery and agriculture sectors. In 2010, there were over eight million unemployed (over 21 percent of the workforce), despite what the official figures said.

Britain decided to financialize its economy and move people out of manufacturing to integrate with a neoliberal globalized world order. Ordinary people’s livelihoods were sacrificed and sold to the lowest bidder abroad and the real economy was hollowed out for the benefit of giant corporations who now have near-monopolies in their respective sectors and record massive profits. People were promised a new service-based economy. Not enough jobs materialized or when they did many soon moved to cheap labour economies or they were automated.

Although it’s a vastly different country, if we look at agriculture in India, a similar trend is seen. Almost 300,000 farmers have taken their lives in India since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to cash crops and economic ‘liberalization’.

In a recent TV interview, Devinder Sharma highlighted the plight of agriculture:

“Agriculture has been systematically killed over the last few decades… the World Bank and big business have given the message that this is the only way to grow economically… Sixty percent of the population lives in the villages or in the rural areas and is involved in agriculture, and less than two percent of the annual budget goes to agriculture… When you are not investing in agriculture, you think it is… not performing. You are not wanting it to perform… Leave it to the vagaries or the tyranny of the markets… agriculture has disappeared from the economic radar screen of the country… 70 percent of the population is being completely ignored…”

As policy makers glorify ‘business entrepreneurship’ and ‘wealth creation’ and acquiesce to hugely wealthy individuals and their corporations, it largely goes unrecognized that farmers have always been imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship and have been creating food wealth for centuries. They have been innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridization experts. But they are now fodder to be sacrificed on the altar of US petro-chemical agribusiness interests.

In his interview, Devinder Sharma went on to state that despite the tax breaks and the raft of policies that favour industry over agriculture, industry has failed to deliver; but despite the gross under-investment in agriculture, it still manages to deliver bumper harvests year after year:

“In the last 10 years, we had 36 lakh crore going to the corporates by way of tax exemptions… They just created 1.5 crore jobs in the last ten years. Where are the exports? … The only sector that has performed very well in this country is agriculture… Why do you want to move the population… Why can’t India have its own thinking? Why do we have to go with Harvard or Oxford economists who tell us this?” (36 lakh crore is 36 trillion; 1.5 crore is 15 million)

It all begs the question: where are the jobs going to come from to cater for hundreds of millions of former agricultural workers or those whose livelihoods will be destroyed as transnational corporations move in and seek to capitalize industries that currently employ tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions)?

The genuine wealth creators, the farmers, are being sold out to corporate interests whose only concern is to how best loot the economy. As they do so, they churn out in unison with their politician puppets the mantra of it all being in the ‘national interest’ and constituting some kind of ‘economic miracle’. And those who protest are attacked and marginalised. In Britain during the eighties, it was a similar situation. Workers’ representatives portrayed as the ‘enemy within’.

Through various policies, underinvestment and general neglect, farmers are being set up to financially fail. However, it is corporate-industrial India which has failed to deliver in terms of boosting exports or creating jobs, despite the massive hand outs and tax exemptions given to it (see this and this). The number of jobs created in India between 2005 and 2010 was 2.7 million (the years of high GDP growth). According to International Business Times, 15 million enter the workforce every year (see here).

Again, this too is a global phenomenon.

Corporate-industrial India is the beneficiary of a huge global con-trick: subsidies to the public sector or to the poor are portrayed as a drain on the economy, while the genuinely massive drain of taxpayer-funded corporate dole, tax breaks, bail outs and tax avoidance/evasion are afforded scant attention. Through slick doublespeak, all of this becomes redefined necessary for creating jobs or fueling ‘growth’. The only growth is in massive profits and inequalities, coupled with unemployment, low pay, the erosion of welfare and a further race to the bottom as a result of secretive trade agreements like the TTIP.

India is still a nation of farmers. Around two thirds of the population in some way rely on agriculture for a living. Despite the sector’s woeful neglect in favour of a heavily subsidized and government-supported but poorly performing industrial sector, agriculture remains the backbone of Indian society.

Notwithstanding the threat to food security, livelihoods and well-being that the type of unsustainable corporate-controlled globalized industrial agriculture being pushed through in India leads to bad food, bad soil, bad or no waterbad health, stagnant or falling yields and ultimately an agrarian crisis. It involves the liberal use of cancer-causing pesticides and the possible introduction of health-damaging but highly profitable GMOs.

There was a famous phrase used in the eighties in Britain by the former Prime Minister Harold McMillan. He accused the Thatcher administration of ‘selling the family silver’ with its privatization policies and the auction of public assets that ordinary people had strived to build over many decades of dedicated labour.

As Modi presses through with his strident neoliberal agenda and seeks to further privatize India’s agricultural heritage, it begs the question: is it not tantamount to turning in on yourself and destroying the home in which you live?

These are truly insane times.

Aside from the odd grumblings about being a “Christian nation,” here in Britain we are mostly divorced from strong religious themes in our politics. Not so in the US, and I’m not talking about Prayer in Schools here either.

Something big is brewing in America, and it’s not all good. It’s not just the usual war hawk talk from the rank and file Rambo crowd like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and new baby hawks like Senator Tom Cotton. We understand them and their desire to act on behalf of the military industrial complex to sell more Apaches, planes, bombs, boats and missiles. Men such as these can be found everywhere throughout history. They love and want war, and always will.

That’s not it though. There is something else. There exists a rather ugly anti-Arab, or more specifically – anti-Islam wave which is being pushed along, gradually building up into a Zeitgeist in US right-wing political and ‘Christian’ discourse. Presently, this is threatening to go mainstream in America. This is partly due to 15 years of the West’s war against Arabs, and a classically conditioned Pavlovian western anxiety surrounding Muslims. This is not just traditional bigotry, or even racism. It is both disturbing – and frightening, not unlike similar Nazi rhetoric which ushered in Germany’s modern dark age. The same patterns are now being mirrored in certain side-shows within the US political circus.

1-Crusades-Iran-IsraelIMAGE: ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS!

This is exactly how Hitler gathered steam in the early days of the Third Reich – by employing an overtly jingoistic, and even genocidal, racist party line – in order to invigorate his hard core supporters whom he knew would form the phalanx of his foot soldiers later on. In this kind of jagged political environment, facts do not matter at all, but FEAR is everything. If a politician or a street agitator can instil fear into the crowd, then he, or she, knows that power is well within their grasp.

To super charge the political narrative, and rally the remaining foot soldiers who don’t necessarily understand politics too well but are still eager to follow, a leader must evoke fundamentalist religious, mythological, or occult-based belief systems. To make this ideological jump, nogoosestep is required. Here, fellow travelers Adolph Hitler, Rudolf Hess and Heinrich Himmler were able to quietly coordinate a masterful mix, establishing a popular and potent cocktail of reactionary politics and derivative occult and mythological lore and corresponding symbology.

The soil for this kind of convergence has never been more fertile in the US as it is today. Since the early 1980’s, when the Republican Party discovered how important the Evangelical and Christian Zionist right-wing movements were in providing a strong political base, ‘End of Times’ mythology has steadily propagated throughout the United States. With that, a collection of bizarre, yet well-organized movements and sub-movements have evolved, and in each instance, these have provided universal backing to US wars and interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere, seeing these as ‘Holy Wars’ – in a Clash of Civilisations – rather than geopolitical maneuvers. As writerDaniel Spaulding explains,

“The United States has long been the home of a wide assortment of bizarre and eccentric sects and cults, most being harmless, or at least lacking the ability to do any serious harm outside of their immediate proximity without large-scale followings nor serious political access. But there are always exceptions, and one of the more prominent and influential ones is the highly politicised and well-funded Dispensationalist movement, a vocal and well-represented faction among fundamentalist Protestants. Not only do Dispensationalists have a large scale following, but they also manage to wield considerable influence in Washington, especially on US foreign policy.”

Within this contrived ‘End Times’ meets the Crusader, or Samuel P. Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilisations’ dialectic, Arabs and Muslims are almost universally characterized as terrorists and generalised as a universal threat which “must be dealt with”. Given enough time, these same preachers will be eventually craft a similar ‘End Times’ narrative around Russia, or China (some already have).

Throughout the usual paranoid rhetoric (from the usual suspects) on this subject, no specific mention is made as to how exactly the millions of  Arabs and ‘potential’ radical Islamic terrorists – should be “dealt with”. So say the hawks and the zealots. The only thing missing from this 21st century remix of Nuremberg’s Greatest Hits is talk of a “final solution” – even though this is what is clearly being inferred by certain politicians and American talk radio hosts who relentlessly pander to their highly lucrative, but helplessly terrified audiences. Some right-wing American pundits have even come out openly advocating a nuclear final solution to this ‘problem’.

To a lesser degree, and only on paper (so far anyway), Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann represents a mixture of these. Ever since her exit from politics last year, Tea Party favorite Bachmann has since been flirting with media regarding a possible 2016 Presidential run, although many believe she is already a spent force. Now she is urging more pastors around the country to speak from their pulpits about the coming “end of times”, which Bachmann insists is just around the corner. She believes that America’s ‘Christian believers’ are now in competition with Muslims, who themselves are already speedily preparing their own ‘end times’ pathway, in what she describes as, “the coming of their twelfth imam.”

Daniel Spaulding adds,  “Indeed, the late American intellectual Gore Vidal whimsically observed that the practical result of this Dispensationalist theology was a “military buildup that can never, ever cease until we have done battle for the Lord”.

Not by coincidence, the Dispensationalist theological narrative also happens to feed directly into the State of Israel’s own geopolitical and territorial expansion goals and objectives. As a mantra for geographical and cultural expansion, modern Zionism is not so different from the “Glory of Rome”, 19th century America’s ‘Manifest Destiny’, Britain’s Empire on which “the sun never sets”, or Nazi Germany’s Lebensraum” (living space). Israel desires and is actively pursuing its own Lebensraum too, which is called the Greater Israel Project (see their map here).

This is where the American Christian and evangelical right-wing, along with the Israeli Zionist lobby crossover with America’s Republican and Tea Party wings, and the glue which keeps it all together is money - lots and lots of money – for anyone willing to get up in public and sell this bizarre, albeit antiquated, pre-Medieval doctrine of the ‘Tribe of Israel’, the ‘Israelites‘ or ‘God’s chosen people’. According to this new doctrine, any threat to go off script, in other words, any threat to the Jewish State of Israel – is a threat to ‘destiny’ as prescribed by the End Times religious movement. You could go even further into depth and dig into the Anti-Christ and Jesus returning etc, but we’ll hit pause there. Some Islamic branches are also pushing a similar End Times narrative (including ISIS). Notice also how this plugs directly into the current fictional narrative (invented by the very same parties) that “Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map”. And there you have it – a potent religious justification for a preemptive military strike against Iran, as the centre piece for World War III.

Preachers and snake oil salesmen are one thing, but heads of state are another. When God speaks to political leaders these days, it seems that all God wants to talk about is war. On this count, both the US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed that, ‘God told me to bomb and occupy Iraq.’ We should all understand the dangers of mixing religion with geopolitics by now.

Even though US President Barack Obama is on the way out with only a year and half to go in office before he retires to a predictable life of opening libraries, foundations, speeches and travel around the globe brokering peace deals – Bachmann and her fellow ‘Christian Soldiers’ (onward!) are convinced that Obama is reciting the Koran in the Oval Office and secretly organising ISIS training seminars over the border in Mexico. The big question is: what will they do when Obama finally leaves office? Will they blame him for all of America and the world’s ills for the next 8 years (exactly as the Democrats have done for the last 6 years, same show, different channel)?

Her recent remarks only reinforce what we already suspectedthat Obama is the least of worries….  In an article in the Christian Post, entitled Michele Bachmann Says Jesus’ Second Coming is ‘Imminent;’ Obama’s Nuclear Negotiations With Iran Are ‘Pro Islamic Jihad’, author  Samual Smith acknowledges that:

1-Michelle-Bachmann

Former congresswoman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has accused President Barack Obama of being “pro the goals of Islamic jihad,” which she explains includes welcoming the “hidden imam” to bring on the apocalypse.

In appearing on the “Understanding the End Times” radio program with Jan Markell last weekend, the 59-year-old Minnesotan bashed the president’s foreign policy goals as being aligned with the goals of Islamic extremists, who she argues have the ultimate goal of bringing about the end of the world and paving the way for the Islamic Messiah.

“Our president, who is as consistent in his foreign policy world view, which is to be anti-Israel and pro, and I’ll say it in my own words, pro the goals of Islamic jihad, because that is what we are seeing,” Bachmann asserted. “These are the goals of Islamic jihad.”

She explained that in February, Obama tried to justify the potential nuclear agreement with Iran by saying that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said it was against Islam to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Bachmann decried that “myth” and stated that Obama is either “ignorant of Islamic scripture” or he is trying to perpetuate a lie to the American public.

“Not only is there any such fatwa, he said that the supreme leader issued a fatwa, issuing a religious opinion, that it said that it was against Islam to obtain a nuclear weapon. Only there has ever been this fatwa found, nobody has ever seen it or heard it. It has never been published,” Bachmann said. “But, it reveals that our president is as ignorant of Islamic scripture as he is at Islamic history. Or, he is trying to intentionally lie to the American people. We don’t know which it is.”

Bachmann also called out the fact that Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani labeled Iran’s diplomacy with the United States as an “active jihad” in early March.

“Our negotiations with the world powers are a source of national pride,” Rouhani said in March. “Yesterday. your brave generals stood against the enemy on the battlefield and defended their country. Today, your diplomatic generals are defending [our nation] in the field of diplomacy — this, too, is jihad.”

Bachmann goes on to further explain Iran’s Shia Muslim goals by stating that they foresee and eventual world were only Islam reigns.

Islam is a flame because they see to that their scripture is being fulfilled. If you are a Shia, you believe that we are going to see the hidden imam soon come back and we will have an apocalypse and we will have an all-out war and then peace will come with only Islam reigning,” she said. “If you are Sunni Islam, you also believe that it is the end of the age. As Christians, we know that the word of God is true. Let’s preach the true living word of God from every pulpit so that believers can know what God’s time clock is.”… Christian Post 

Saudi Blood Money for Bloodletting in Yemen

April 20th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

UN officials appealed for an immediate $274 million in desperately needed emergency humanitarian aid for Yemenis. 

Saudi mass murderer/King Salman offered to contribute the entire amount – while he continues daily terror-bombing, targeting civilians and exacerbating a horrific humanitarian crisis.

Billions of dollars in aid are needed to address it. A small fraction of it barely scratches the surface.

Saudi oil wealth won’t restore lost lives. It won’t replace lost limbs. It won’t soothe traumatized children.

Yemen is being raped in plain sight. It’s being systematically ravaged and destroyed.

Perhaps 3,000 or more died so far in 25 days of fighting – over 85 alone in the past 24 hours in one Yemeni province alone.

Thousands have been seriously injured – many maimed for life, their limbs blown off by Saudi terror-bombing.

Many Yemenis have no access to healthcare. Untreated serious wounds may lead to death. Human suffering is extreme.

An entire country is under siege. On orders from Washington, land, sea and air blockade was imposed. US warships are involved enforcing it.

Nothing can get in or out without US or Saudi permission. On Saturday, fighting raged in most Yemeni governorates.

Saudi-led terror-bombing targeted Sanaa, Aden, Taiz, Marib, Saada, Shabwa, Lahj and other areas.

Yemen’s illegitimate government in exile rejected Iran’s four-point peace proposal on orders from Washington. It called for:

  • warring parties agreeing to halt fighting;
  • providing desperately needed humanitarian aid;
  • initiating intra-Yemeni dialogue; and
  • establishing unity governance with all parties participating.

It’s a sensible way to end conflict – to resolve differences between both sides diplomatically.

Obama wants war continued. He categorically rejects peace.

Tehran rejects accusations it’s aiding Houthis militarily. It very much wants to provide humanitarian aid. Blockade prevents it.

Yemeni tweets best explain ongoing nightmarish conditions.

“My life in Yemen, no electricity, no water, no food, no security, no work. We’re dying every day,” said one.

“They’ve forgotten all about us,” said another.

“Children are extremely terrified,” a victim explained.

“After all of this is done. The Saudis better pay for PTSD treatment of 26 million Yemenis.”

“24 nights straight of heavy bombing. More than any human can take.”

“12:40AM & can hear neighborhood kids/women scream with each earth shaking bomb jets drop…never this intense since onset 3 W ago…”

“My little girl crying silently. Her tears & shaking body while I hug her tell alot.”

Saudis intend to continue daily terror-bombing without letup. Scores of ongoing sorties terrify Yemini civilians.

Saudi military spokesman General Ahmed al-Assiri said “(w)e are not in a hurry…We have the time, and we have the capabilities.”

Tehran University Professor Mohammad Marandi said “(a)s long as the Saudis are carrying out this shock-and-awe campaign against ordinary Yemenis, there’s really no hope for any sort of peace plan to work.”

“So the Iranians are waiting for the Saudis to run out of steam and to recognize the enormous mistake that they have made.”

Iran’s Security Council head Ali Shamkhani calls Saudi-led aggression a “historic mistake.” He warned of dire consequences for Riyadh, saying:

“The Saudi aggression against Yemen is against the UN Charter, against the principles of peaceful coexistence and against the legal tenets ruling the UN and aims to deviate the path of the Muslim world and wear off the internal power and capacities of the world of Islam.”

“Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia has made a big historical mistake, and this heresy will definitely have no end but loss and damage for them.”

Iranian General Ahme Reza Pourdastan believes Saudi aggression “will certainly fail.”

“The Saudi army is a hired (mercenary) army, and now that no bullets have been fired at it, we see the symptoms of defeat in them already…”

Washington is directly involved in ongoing fighting. It’s choosing targets to strike – including civilian ones.

On Saturday, reports indicated one or more US warships fired cruise missiles on Yemeni sites.

They’ve done it several times before. Perhaps much more to come. Western media remain silent. They support what demands denunciation.

Millions of suffering Yemenis don’t matter. Imperial aims alone count. Yemen’s nightmare continues.

Obama’s latest atrocity threatens an entire nation with mass slaughter, destruction, overwhelming deprivation and unspeakable human suffering.

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. 

We are extremely pleased to feature Nomi Prins again this month in a podcast interview from Lars Schall.

In the wake of this month’s release of a Paperback version of her highly recommended bestseller “All The Presidents’ Bankers”, featuring 2014/2015 updates, she talks about the latest developments in finance and geopolitics, such as: the strength of the US dollar; the Chinese-lead Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; the relationship between Wall Street and the City of London; and the planned free-trade zones in Asia and Europe with the United States.

For the paperback update of Nomi Prins’ book, “All the Presidents’ Bankers” that was first published in April 2014 by Nation Books, CLICK HERE.

Trailer of “All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power” exposes a century of tight relationships and interdependence between America’s past 19 presidents (from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama) and key bankers (from J.P. Morgan to Jamie Dimon.)

Nomi Prins, who grew up in the US state of New York, worked after her studies in mathematics and statistics for Chase Manhattan, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns in London and as a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street. After she left the financial industry in 2001/02, she became an outstanding financial journalist who has written by now five books including: “It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailout, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street,” that was published in September 2009 by Wiley. Furthermore, she is a Senior Fellow at “Demos” in New York City, gave numerous interviews to international outlets such as BBC World, BBC, Russia Today, CNN, CNBC, CSPAN and Fox, and her articles appear in The New York Times, Fortune, The Nation, The American Prospect and The Guardian in Britain.

Conservative Friends of Israel, abbreviated to CFI, is a British parliamentary group affiliated to the Conservative Party, which is dedicated to strengthening business, cultural and political ties between the United Kingdom and Israel. CFI is an unincorporated association.

According to the Channel 4 documentary Dispatches – Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, around 80% of Conservative MPs are members of the CFI. In 1995 Conservative politician Robert Rhodes James called it “the largest organisation in Western Europe dedicated to the cause of the people of Israel”.

In 2007 the Political Director stated it had over 2000 members and registered supporters. In 2009, at least half of the shadow cabinet were members of the group according to a Dispatches documentary. Its membership includes:

David Cameron, Iain Duncan-Smith, Liam Fox, William Hague and Malcolm Rifkind.

David Cameron, then newly elected leader of the Conservative Party, addressed the CFI annual business lunch on 30 January 2006, whose audience included half of the Conservative Parliamentary Party. As part of his speech, he stated “I am proud not just to be a Conservative, but a Conservative friend of Israel ..”

The Dispatches documentary claimed members of the group and their companies have donated over £10 million to the Conservative party between 2001 and 2009. Dispatches described the CFI as “beyond doubt the most well-connected and probably the best funded of all Westminster lobbying groups”. 

‘In 2010 the Conservative Foreign Secretary, William Hague, changed the law of ‘universal jurisdiction’ under pressure from the Israeli government to allow the war crimes arrest law to be amended specifically to facilitate the free entry to Britain of Israeli politicians and military personnel.’ 

‘In 2011 Defence Secretary Liam Fox resigned after a week of pressure over his working relationship with friend and self-styled adviser Adam Werritty. Mr Fox was being investigated amid claims he broke the ministerial code.In a letter to David Cameron, Mr Fox said he had “mistakenly allowed” personal and professional responsibilities to be “blurred”. Mr Cameron said he was very sorry to see him go. The defence secretary has been under pressure since it emerged that Mr Werritty, a lobbyist, had met him on 18 foreign trips despite having no official role. Mr Werritty, a former flatmate of Mr Fox and the best man at his wedding, handed out business cards suggesting he was his adviser and was present at meetings Mr Fox had with military figures, diplomats and defence contractors.’

‘In February 2015 former Secretary for Defence, Malcolm Rifkind claimed to have no salary and to be self-employed when discussing with what he thought were representatives of a Chinese company that wanted to buy influence in the UK parliament. Rifkind offered to get them access to British ambassadors for £5,000 to £8,000 per half day’s work. The people turned out to be journalists for The Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 News who recorded the conversations. As a result Rifkind was suspended from the party while the matter was investigated. 

On 24 February 2015 Rifkind resigned his position as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Shortly afterwards he announced that he would not run as a candidate for his constituency of Kensington at the 2015 General Election. Rifkind admitted he “may have made errors of judgement” but insisted he had done nothing wrong in the cash-for access controversy. The former foreign secretary said it was “quite obvious” that allegations made following an undercover sting had “become an issue”. Rifkind said he had stepped aside as chair of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee because he did not want the work of the committee to be “distracted”. 

‘Government Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith is said to regard governing with George Osborne and David Cameron as being like finding television presenters Ant and Dec running the country .. ‘

***Note: all the above quotations are unedited excerpts from published public domain information

Russia’s Missile Wall in Iran

April 19th, 2015 by Tony Cartalucci

The popular narrative surrounding the conflict between the West and Iran has always been one of a dangerous rogue state bent on obtaining nuclear weapons before triggering a nuclear-fueled Armageddon aimed at Israel. Underneath this elementary propaganda, lies a more complex truth underpinning a proxy conflict between East and West.

Just as had been the case during World War I and II, the strategic position, resources, and population of Iran constitute a necessary prerequisite to first overcome before containing and eventually overrunning the political order in Moscow. This time around, in addition to Moscow, the Western axis also seeks to eventually encircle and overrun Beijing as well.

Unlike during the World Wars, vast wars of attrition and mechanized invasions are not a possibility today. Instead, a concerted campaign of proxy wars, covert political subversion, sanctions, and other non-military instruments of power are being employed in what is for all intents and purposes a global conflict.

Increasingly defining the fronts of this conflict, in addition to political and economic alliances, is the presence of “missile walls,” or national missile defense programs being erected by both East and West.

Where these missile walls end, is generally where the West’s overt military aggression begins. In Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, where such missiles systems are absent, the West has or is bombing these nations with absolute impunity. The United Nations, in theory, should have prevented armed aggression against Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, but has categorically failed to do so. In nations possessing formidable missile defenses, direct Western aggression has become more or less unthinkable, leaving less efficient proxy wars and political subversion to do the job.

The presence of missile defense systems capable of checking Western military aggression may be what is needed to establish both a balance of power globally, and the global stability the UN has promised but has so far failed to deliver.

Iran, the Last Watchtower 

In places like Iran where proxy wars cannot easily be waged, and foreign-backed political subversion has been checked, the West has for years planned military options to achieve regime change in Tehran. Encapsulated in the Brookings Institution’s “Which Path to Persia?” report, these options include the use of diplomatic negotiations, particularly in regards to Iran’s civil nuclear program, as a means to justify military strikes on Iran’s nuclear research facilities. The strikes will surely not lead to regime change in and of themselves, but Western policymakers hope the attacks will provoke an Iranian retaliation the West could then use to expand military operations to include regime change.

F121119ZEL15Written in 2009, “Which Path to Persia?” includes multiple scenarios that have now demonstrably been tried, and have failed. Remaining is the use of positive nuclear talks initiated by the United States in what is meant to appear as an act of good faith toward Iran. Israel is tasked with unilaterally attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, claiming America’s “betrayal” left them with no other choice. Again, in hopes that Iran retaliates, or in the wake of a false flag attack meant to appear as an Iranian retaliation, the US would step in to assist Israel.

In other words, the nuclear deal is a canard, with the West not only having no intention of honoring it, but planning to use them as justification first for an attack on their nuclear facilities, followed by a joint coalition aimed at removing the Iranian government by force.

What “Which Path to Persia?” may not have counted on, was, however, Russia’s growing influence in the ongoing conflict and its ability to exploit the window of opportunity opened briefly by the West’s disingenuous “good will” it has shown Tehran with its alleged “rapprochement.”

The West claiming that it is satisfied with Iran’s terms and commitment to the nuclear deal, has pushed it forward for formal signing in upcoming months. Predictably, while this satisfaction should in theory lead to the lifting of sanctions, the West has made no gesture of good will to do so yet.

Russia for its part has begun lifting sanctions. This includes an oil-for-goods deal it has established with Iran, as well as delivery of several S300 anti-air missile systems. The missiles in particular, left undelivered for 5 years, may significantly complicate any attempts by the West to betray Iran in the signing and honoring of the current nuclear deal. With the procurement and effective deployment of S300 missile systems, Iran will find itself behind a “missile wall” that will drastically raise the stakes for an already potentially risky act of military aggression against Tehran by either Israel, the US, or both – or Saudi Arabia who has recently begun unilaterally bombing its neighbor Yemen.

The Hand-Wringing Begins

In the wake of Russia’s decision to deliver the S300 systems, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pleaded that the sanctions be lifted “as cohesively as possible.” In other words, at the same time, and only when the West says so.

One must wonder, if the West was truly committed to rapprochement with Iran, then why  hasn’t it, as an act of good faith, lifted at least some sanctions to relieve the socioeconomic punishment it has been inflicting on the Iranian people for years? One must also wonder why the West has reacted negatively to Russia’s own lifting of sanctions, as well as the delivery of a purely defensive weapon system.

The West, one might suspect, would only berate Russia for delivering a defensive system to Iran, if the West planned treachery all along. Just as the US did with Iraq, Syria, and Libya, with various phases of rapprochement with each respective nation achieved before the US either annihilated them or attempted to do so, these is every reason to believe it will likewise betray Iran.

The negative response by the West regarding the delivery of the S300 missile systems also rings particularly hypocritical, since the West is well on its way to erecting its own “missile wall” around both Russia and China. Assurances by the West that neither Russia nor China have anything to fear by these purely “defensive” missile systems is now being reciprocated by Moscow in regards to Iran’s now augmented missile defense capabilities.

How Strong is the Wall? 

1277188126_9The S300 is, according to various sources including the US-based International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC), one of the most formidable missile defense systems being fielded. According to one IASC report titled, “Almaz S-300 – China’s “Offensive” Air Defense,” it states:

The S-300 SAM systems remain one of the most lethal, if not the most lethal, all altitude area defence SAM systems in service, with a range of more capable derivatives entering service in Russia, or in development.

The report points out that the missile systems not only defend a nation’s airspace, but could deny neighboring air forces the ability to defend their own airspace. This might explain why NATO, led by the US, has been erecting missile networks around Russia and China for years.

However, there are no known instances of an S300 being fired in actual combat. The deterrence the S300 poses is only as good as the forces employing the system and the actual capabilities of the missiles themselves. It is known that NATO has already conducted exercises in Europe focusing specifically on circumventing Russian-made air defense systems. One such exercise conducted in 2005 called “Trial Hammer” involved what is called ‘Suppression of Enemy Air Defense’ (SEAD). Such exercises may already be working on ways to circumvent or neutralize systems like the S300.

However, the risk is, should Israel or the US launch an attack on Iran once the S300s are in place and significant numbers of aircraft are lost, not only will the operation fail and an expensive and humiliating blow be dealt to the forces involved, but the veil of invincibility of Western military might, especially its airpower, will be lost forever triggering a cascade of rebellion across the “international order” the West has created primarily under the threat of military force.

Additionally, should Iran down a significant number of aircraft involved in any unilateral act of military aggression against its territory, it will have fulfilled a proportional “retaliation,” negating the need to respond further, and making a false flag attempted in Iran’s name appear all the more obvious. The West would have a failed operationally, strategically, and geopolitically.

Because of this, perhaps, regardless of the true capabilities of the S300, the risk will be too great to attempt this last gamble left to Western policymakers attempting to stop Iran’s establishment as a permanent regional power, for all intents and purposes immune to Western military aggression.

As suggested by other analysts, this may not remove altogether the threat of US designs against Russia via Iran. If forced to accept normal relations with Iran, and by actually removing sanctions, Iranian hydrocarbons would begin flooding the market and dropping prices Russia has long benefited from and depended on. Whether that option appeals to Western policymakers more than potentially dashing a half century of perceived military invincibility against Iran’s missile defense systems remains to be seen.

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

Obama’s time as leader of the US is coming to an end – his term concludes next year. Wannabe presidents have already joined the race to the White House. And as President Obama goes through the final year of his rule, Washington suddenly changes its tone – now Iran is an appropriate nation to talk to, and it’s okay to meet with Cuban and Venezuelan leaders. But what is in that change?

Has Washington finally dropped its previous policies? What does Obama want to achieve? And will the new, as yet unknown, leader of America make any difference? We pose these questions to prominent historian, author of bestsellers on US foreign policies, William Blum, who is on Sophie&Co today.

Transcript

William Blum: I don’t think US foreign policy will change at all, regardless of who is in the White House, Bush or Clinton, or who else is running. Our policy does not change… I can add Obama to that. It wouldn’t even matter which party it is, Republican or Democrat, they have the same foreign policy.

SS: Why do you think it’s the same policy for both parties? Why do you think they are not different from each other?

WB: Because America, for two centuries has had one basic, overriding goal, and that is world domination, at least from 1890s if not earlier, one can say that. World domination is something which appeals to both Republicans and Democrats or Liberals or Conservatives. The idea that we’re the exceptional nation and have something very important to impart to the rest of the world, our marvelous values, American exceptionalism… Each party believes in that very strongly. They don’t argue about that at all, except through their campaign debate, they’ll take certain opposing views just to appear different. But, in power, they have the exact same policy – world domination.

SS: Now back in 2009 President Obama made it clear that the missile shield in Europe would no longer be necessary if the threat from Iran was eliminated – and nuclear deal with Iran was struck. Now, historic deal is close, but NATO is saying there will be no change in missile shield plans – why not?

WB: Because NATO shares America’s desire to dominate the world. NATO is just an arm of the U.S. foreign policy, there’s no point actually in making a distinction between US foreign policy and NATO policy – they are the same. If US were not in NATO, NATO would not exist. US founded NATO, US is its main supporter and financial source, there’s no distinction between US and NATO, and they share the same view of American world domination. So, it doesn’t matter whether Iran is doing this or that – they know that Iran is not a lover of an Empire, and anyone who’s not a lover of the Empire has a short life span. Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, whatever. That is the test, do you love Empire or not.

SS: But, can we be a little bit more precise about this “domination” theory – NATO has been strengthening its eastern borders with military building up on Russia’s doorsteps, and a rapid reaction force to include 30,000 personnel – why this deployment? Who is it aimed against?

WB: It is aimed against Russia. The US cannot stand anyone who might stay in the way of the Empire’s expansion – and Russia and China are the only nations which can do that. Other nations, like Cuba or Iran or Venezuela are regarded as enemy just as well, because they have the polity influence: Cuba has influence over all of the Western hemisphere. That makes them a great enemy. But the basic criteria of Empire’s expansion is whether you support Empire or not, and that excludes all the countries I’ve named – from Cuba to Russia.

SS: Do you think U.S. would go as far as using force against its enemies?

WB: Well, the US has used force against its enemies on a regular basis for two centuries. Of course they would use force! They’ve used force against Cuba, they invaded Cuba and they’ve supported Cuban exiles in all kinds of violent activities for 60 years. Violence is never far removed from the U.S. policy. Let me summarize something for the benefit of listeners: since 1946 the US has attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments. In the same time period it has attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders. It has bombed the people of 30 countries, it has suppressed revolutionary parties in at least 20 nations – and I forgot other factors on my list. This is a record unparalleled in all of human history, and there’s no reason to think it is changing of will change, except if some superior force comes on a scene, that can actually defeat U.S.

SS: But, you know, French intelligence – and France seems to be an ally of the U.S. – the French intelligence chief has recently said that they found no evidence of Russia planning to invade Ukraine. So why has NATO been pressing these claims of an imminent invasion so hard and for so long?

WB: Because Russia has two characteristics of an enemy, which Washington cannot tolerate: one, it has very powerful military capabilities, and two, it is not a kind of Washington’s policy, it is not a great admirer of the Empire. The same applies to China. That’s all it takes: you don’t admire us and have military force – that’s all it takes to be an enemy of Washington.

SS: The problem is, there’s a ceasefire that seems in place, right? But US paratroopers have arrived in Ukraine to train forces in the country, and it’s not the first such deployment we’ve seen. So, with ceasefire agreement and peace deal on the way, why is Washington sending troops now?

WB: They know very well that Ukraine is not…or those who live in Ukraine and support Russia, Washington knows very well that these people are not on their side, and will not be on their side, and there’s no way to make them on our side, so, US is expecting to wipe them out militarily at some point in the near future. As soon as they can get all the politics in place, there’s no backtracking from these policies. I must repeat myself again: Washington wants to dominate the world and anyone, including people in the south-eastern part of Ukraine, who don’t share that view, they are enemies, and at some point they may be met with military force.

SS: So are you saying that America doesn’t want peace in Ukraine, because US is sending military personnel to Ukraine – like I’ve said – while Europeans are negotiating peace without America’s involvement?

WB: Washington is not looking for peace or war. It is looking for domination, and if they can achieve domination peacefully – that’s fine. If they can’t, they’ll use war. It’s that simple.

SS: So, like you’ve said, America is one of the main financiers of NATO; there’s also Estonia and they meet NATO’s funding goals. Why are the rest of its members lagging behind? Isn’t the alliance important to them as well?

WB: They have their own home politics that they deal with, they each have their own financial needs to deal with, they each have their own relation with Washington to deal with, it varies. It is not exactly the same in these countries, but overall, no member of NATO is going to fight against Washington. No member of NATO was going to support the insurgence in Ukraine – not one. So there’s no need to go upon who is not paying and who is paying – none of them will ever go against Washington’s policies in Ukraine or elsewhere.

SS: Now, on the other hand, Europe, U.S. and Russia – they share similar security threats, issues like Syria, Islamic State, there’s Afghanistan, and they are not going anywhere. Can these states work together if it is absolutely necessary, for example?

WB: They don’t have the same security threats. Washington just announces that people of various countries are enemies of the U.S. – that doesn’t make them a threat. Syria, for example, is no threat to the U.S. Neither was Iraq, neither was Libya. U.S. invades one country after another, totally independent of whether they are threat or not. As long as they don’t believe in the Empire, as long as they are helping enemies of the Empire. I mean, what threat was Libya to Washington? NATO invaded them without mercy, bombed them out of existence, they are a failed state now. What was their threat? There’s no threat. If Russia doesn’t announce Libya as a threat, it’s not because Russia has a different foreign policy – it’s because Russia is not so paranoid as the U.S., and Russia is not looking for world domination.

SS: Russia has been criticized many times for its decision to supply air defense missile systems to Iran. Now, why is America so worried about anti-air missile defense Iran may get from Russia? It’s not like Washington got plans to bomb Iran, right?

WB: Of course they do, and so does Israel. You can’t put aside those fears. Washington, as I mentioned before, has bombed more than 30 countries. Why would they stop now? Iran is a definite target of the U.S. and Israel, and it’s very understandable that Iran would want to have advanced missile defense systems.

SS: But look: US is staying out of Yemen now, it’s not willing to commit ground troops to Iraq or get involved in Syria. It sometimes looks like Washington is growing weary of foreign interventions, lately.

WB: They are still supporting the enemies of Syria, and they are making sure that Assad will not come back to power. They are bombing places all over Syria, which can be useful militarily to Syria. They have not forgotten about Syria at all. Iraq is ally at the moment, but tomorrow or yesterday it is something different. You can’t just look at today and say “they’re not fighting here and there” and think “Oh, Washington has finally found peace”. No. Their basic goal is unchanged – today, tomorrow, or next year. I must say, again, for the tenth time, it is world domination.

SS: Now, you’ve written in one of your books, the “Rogue State” that if you were President, you’d end all US foreign interventions at once. Can the US do that? Is it that simple? I mean, US left Iraq and look what happened.

WB: If I were a President, yes, that’s what I would do. And then I add, to the portion you’ve quoted, I add at the end of paragraph, on my fifth day in the office I would be assassinated. So, that’s what happens to people who want to challenge the Empire’s policies. But I would have great time for the first few days.

SS: But can the US realistically do that? End all of their foreign interventions at once? Because, we see an example of Iraq, once they left, ISIS spread.

WB: The US has created ISIS. Let me point this out – a short while ago, there were four major states in the Middle East and South Asia, which were secular. The US invaded Iraq, then invaded Libya and overthrew that secular government. Then it’s been in the process now, for some years, attempting to overthrow the secular government in Syria. There’s no wonder that Middle East and South Asia have been taken over by religious fanatics: all the possible enemies and barriers to that had been wiped out by Washington. Why will they stop now?

SS: I see your point. While Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be exactly described as victories for American troops, I mean, the invasions have also resulted, for instance, in girls being able to go to school in Afghanistan, or Kurds finally having a state in Iraq, for instance.

WB: I must tell you something and all your listeners. At one time, in 1980s, Afghanistan had a progressive government, where women had full rights; they even wore mini-skirts. And you know what happened to that government? The US overthrew it. So please, don’t tell me about US policy helping the girls or the women of Afghanistan. We are the great enemy of females of Afghanistan.

SS: You’ve also said that an end to US interventions would mean an end to terror attacks. What makes you think Islamic State and Al-Qaeda and other terror groups would cease to exist – and I’m talking about right now, I am not talking about “if America hadn’t invaded them back then”. Right now, if American interventions cease, what makes think that these terrorist groups would cease to exist as well?

WB: It may be too late now. When I wrote that, it was correct. It may be too late now. After what we’ve done to all secular governments in the Middle East and in South Asia, after all that, I am not sure I would say the same thing again. We’ve unleashed ISIS, and they’re not going to be stopped by any kind words or nice changes of policy by Washington. They have to be wiped out militarily. They are an amazing force of horror, and the U.S. is responsible for them, but the barn door may be closed, it may be too late now to simply change our policy.

SS: So do you think US should use military force to eradicate these terrorist groups?

WB: Well, I could say “yes”, except that the US will cheat. They will use the same force to attack other people, like in Syria, they will use the same force to help overthrow Assad, and they will use the same force to suppress any segment of Iraq or what have you, which are anti-America. They cannot be trusted, that’s the problem. When they start to use force, there’s no holding them back, and they don’t care about the civilians. The civilian death toll with any bombing of Syria and Iraq is unlimited. So, for those reasons, I cannot support US bombing of Iraq or Syria or anywhere else. The US bombing should cease everywhere in the world.

SS: When I listen to you, it sounds like America overthrows all these governments and bombs all these countries, and makes revolutions – from people’s point of view, revolutions and overthrows are really impossible if they are not conducive to people’s moods on the ground. So you’re saying the foreign policy has greatly contributed to the rise of radical Islam in the Middle East, but I wonder – don’t locals have control over their own direction at all?

WB: The locals had no say whatsoever on whether the US would bomb or not, they had no say whatsoever on whether the US would overthrow governments chosen by the people, often – they have no say in these things. Now, they may hate ISIS, or some of them might hate ISIS, but it’s too late. They can’t do anything about it. The world is in terrible position. The world had a chance, 30-40 years ago, to stop the US from all of these interventions. If NATO had been closed, the way the Warsaw Pact was closed, the Soviet Union closed the Warsaw Pact with the expectation that NATO will also go out of business – but the US did not do that, and it’s too late now. I don’t know what to say, what will save the world now.

SS: You’ve mentioned Cuba and Venezuela in the beginning of the programme. Now, we witnessed several historic meetings recently, between President Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro, also Obama’s meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro – why is Obama now talking with states the US has long considered arch-enemies?

WB: You must keep in mind, first of all, that nothing whatsoever has changed, as of this moment nothing has changed. We have to wait and see what happens, and I’m very sceptical. For example, with Cuba, the main issue is the US sanctions which have played havoc with Cuban economy and society. That has not changed, and I don’t think it is going to change even in my lifetime. So, you can’t apply some kind of changes taking place. Why Obama is saying these things he’s saying now may have to do with his so-called “legacy”. He knows his time is very limited, and he knows he has many enemies amongst progressives in the US and elsewhere. He may want to cater to them for some reason. I don’t know, neither do you know, no one knows exactly why he’s saying these things – but they don’t mean anything yet. Nothing has changed whatsoever.

SS: So you’re saying there’s really no substance in those meetings… Now, looking back, what would you call Obama’s biggest achievements of his two terms – I mean, people say there’s been a reconciliation with Cuba, with Iran, there’s an earnest attempt to end US deployment in Iraq and in Afghanistan, he didn’t move troops into Syria. Would you disagree with all of that?

WB: Yes, all of that. There’s no accomplishment whatsoever. He didn’t move troops into Syria because of Russia, and not because of him making any change. He was embarrassed in that. John Kerry made a remark about “it would be nice if Syria would get rid of its chemical weapons – but that’s not going to happen” he said, and then foreign minister Lavrov of Russia jumped in and said “Oh really? We’ll arrange that” – and they arranged Syria to get rid of chemical weapons. That was, yes, a slip of the tongue by John Kerry, and he was embarrassed to challenge Lavrov. We can say the same thing about any of the things you’ve mentioned. There’s no substance involved in any of these policies. The US has not relented at all over Syria. As I’ve mentioned before, they are bombing Syria’s military assets, they are killing civilians every day. Syria is still a prime target of Washington, and they will never escape.

SS: Thank you very much for this interesting insight, we were talking to William Blum, historian and author of bestsellers “Rogue State” and “America’s Deadliest Export” discussing matters of the US foreign policy and what would happen if the US decides to end all of its foreign interventions at once. That’s it for this edition of Sophie&Co, I will see you next time.


 

Eurasia As We (And the U.S.) Knew It is Dead

April 19th, 2015 by Pepe Escobar

Move over, Cold War 2.0. The real story, now and for the foreseeable future, in its myriad declinations, and of course, ruling out too many bumps in the road, is a new, integrated Eurasia forging ahead.

China’s immensely ambitious New Silk Road project will keep intersecting with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EEC). And that will be the day when the EU wakes up and finds a booming trade/commerce axis stretching from St. Petersburg to Shanghai. It’s always pertinent to remember that Vladimir Putin sold a similar, and even more encompassing, vision in Germany a few years ago – stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

It will take time – and troubled times. But Eurasia’s radical face lift is inexorable. This implies an exceptionalist dream – the U.S. as Eurasia hegemon, something that still looked feasible at the turn of the millennium – fast dissolving right before anyone’s eyes.

Russia pivots East, China pivots West

A few sound minds in the U.S. remain essential as they fully deconstruct the negatives, pointing to the dangers of Cold War 2.0. The Carnegie Moscow Center’s Dmitri Trenin, meanwhile, is more concerned with the positives, proposing a road map for Eurasian convergence.

The Russia-China strategic partnership – from energy trade to defense and infrastructure development – will only solidify, as Russia pivots East and China pivots West. Geopolitically, this does not mean a Moscow subordinated to Beijing, but a rising symbiotic relationship, painstakingly developed in multiple stages.

The BRICs – that dirty word in Washington – already have way more global appeal, and as much influence as the outdated G-7. The BRIC New Development Bank, ready to start before the end of 2015, is a key alternative to G7-controlled mechanisms and the IMF.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is bound to include India and Pakistan at their upcoming summer summit in Russia, and Iran’s inclusion, post-sanctions as an official member, would be virtually a done deal by 2016. The SCO is finally blossoming as the key development, political/economic cooperation and security forum across Asia.

Putin’s “greater Europe” from Lisbon to Vladivostok – which would mean the EU + EEC – may be on hold while China turbo-charges the its New Silk Road in both its overland and maritime routes. Meanwhile, the Kremlin will concentrate on a parallel strategy – to use East Asian capital and technology to develop Siberia and the Russian Far East. The yuan is bound to become a reserve currency across Eurasia in the very near future, as the ruble and the yuan are about to rule for good in bilateral trade.

The German factor

“Greater Europe” from Lisbon to Vladivostok inevitably depends on a solution to the German puzzle. German industrialists clearly see the marvels of Russia providing Germany – much more than the EU as a whole – with a privileged geopolitical and strategic channel to Asia-Pacific. However, the same does not apply as yet to German politicos. Chancellor Angela Merkel, whatever her rhetoric, keeps toeing the Washington line.

The Russian Pipelineistan strategy was already in place – via Nord Stream and South Stream – when interminable EU U-turns led Moscow to cancel South Stream and launch Turk Stream (which will, in the end, increase energy costs for the EU). The EU, in exchange, would have virtually free access to Russia’s wealth of resources, and internal market. The Ukraine disaster means the end of all these elaborate plans.

Germany is already the defacto EU conductor for this economic express train. As an export powerhouse, its only way to go is not West or South, but East. Thus, the portentous spectacle of an orchestra of salivating industrialists when Xi Jinping went to Germany in the spring of 2104. Xi proposed no less than a high-speed rail line linking the New Silk Road from Shanghai to Duisburg and Berlin.

A key point which shouldn’t be lost on Germans: a vital branch of the New Silk Road is the Trans-Siberian high-speed rail remix. So one of the yellow BRIC roads to Beijing and Shanghai boasts Moscow as a strategic pit stop.

That Empire of Chaos …

Beijing’s Go West strategy overland is blissfully free of hyperpower meddling – from the Trans-Siberian remix to the rail/road routes across the Central Asian “stans” all the way to Iran and Turkey. Moreover, Russia sees it as a symbiosis, considering a win-win as Central Asian stans jump simultaneously aboard the EEU and what Beijing dubs the Silk Road Economic Belt.

On other fronts, meanwhile, Beijing is very careful to not antagonize the U.S., the reigning hyperpower. See for instance this quite frank but also quite diplomatic interview to the Financial Times by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

One key aspect of the Russia-China strategic partnership is that both identify Washington’s massively incoherent foreign policy as a prime breeder of chaos – exactly as I argue in my book Empire of Chaos.

In what applies specifically to China and Russia, it’s essentially chaos as in divide and rule. Beijing sees Washington trying to destabilize China’s periphery (Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang), and actively interfering in the South China Sea disputes. Moscow sees Washington obsessed with the infinite expansion of NATO and taking no prisoners in preventing Russia’s efforts at Eurasian integration.

Thus, the certified death of Russia’s previous geopolitical strategy. No more trying to feel included in an elite Western club such as the G-8. No more strategic partnership with NATO.

Always expert at planning well in advance, Beijing also sees how Washington’s relentless demonization of not only Putin, but Russia as a whole (as in submit or else), constitute a trial run on what might be applied against China in the near future.

Meet the imponderables

All bets are off on how the fateful U.S.-China-Russia triangle will evolve. Arguably, it may take the following pattern: The Americans talk loud and carry an array of sticks; the Russians are not shy to talk back while silently preparing strategically for a long, difficult haul; the Chinese follow a modified “Little Helmsman” Deng Xiaoping doctrine – talk very diplomatically while no longer keeping a low profile.

Beijing’s already savvy to what Moscow has been whispering: Exceptionalist Washington – in decline or not – will never treat Beijing as an equal or respect Chinese national interests.

In the great Imponderables chapter, bets are still accepted on whether Moscow will use this serious, triple threat crisis – sanctions, oil price war, ruble devaluation – to radically apply structural game changers and launch a new strategy of economic development. Putin’s recent Q&A, although crammed with intriguing answers, still isn’t clear on this.

Other great imponderable is whether Xi, armed with soft power, charisma and lots of cash, will be able to steer, simultaneously, the tweaking of the economic model and a Go West avalanche that does not end up alienating China’s multiple potential partners in building the New Silk roads.

A final, super-imponderable is whether (or when, if ever) Brussels will decide to undertake a mutually agreed symbiosis with Russia. This, vs. its current posture of total antagonism that extends beyond geopolitical issues. Germany, under Merkel, seems to have made the choice to remain submitted to NATO, and thus, a strategic midget.

So what we have here is the makings of a Greater Asia from Shanghai to St. Petersburg – including, crucially, Tehran – instead of a Total Eurasia that extends from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Total Eurasia may be broken, at least for now. But Greater Asia is a go. There will be a tsunami of efforts by the usual suspects, to also break it up.

All this will be fascinating to watch. How will Moscow and Beijing stare down the West – politically, commercially and ideologically – without risking a war? How will they cope with so much pressure? How will they sell their strategy to great swathes of the Global South, across multiple Asian latitudes?

One battle, though, is already won. Bye, bye Zbigniew Brzezinski. Your grand chessboard hegemonic dream is over.

by Beyond Nuclear

Prefecture court in Japan has ruled that the only real protection from a catastrophic nuclear accident is to keep the nation’s atomic reactors shut down.  Hideaki Higuchi, a local judge for Fukui, ordered that the Takahama nuclear power plant remain closed as there is not adequate proof that another disaster caused by an earthquake can be reliably averted if the atomic reactors are operating.  Judge Higuchi had previously ordered that the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui also remain closed for the same reason. Judge Higuchi’s Takahama order overruled Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority’s decision to restart under revised regulatory standards.    In spite of the Abe government’s push to restart atomic power, Japan remains “Zero Nuclear” by popular demand and legal authority.

The court order occurs as TEPCO officials admit that environmental cleanup of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster is centuries away.  Naohiro Masuda and Akira Ono , two top-level TEPCO senior managers charged with “decommissioning” the three melted Fukushima reactors say that a myriad of extremely complex and unproven technologies for removing, cleaning up and managing the melted reactor cores does not currently exist and “cannot say it is possible.”

Dale Klein, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair and now TEPCO’s chief apologist for the bankrupt corporation’s reactor restart committee, also admitted that a cleanup technology is non-existent. He and TEPCO however continue to hold out hope that robotic technology can eventually be developed to cleanup the radioactive site which accumulates hundreds of tons of radioactive water each day.

Meanwhile, the latest in state-of-the-art robotic technology commissioned to locate one of melted cores had to be abandoned by TEPCO after it failed three hours on its journey into the wreckage.  The globally touted snake-like robot technology shut down before it could gather any information on the still missing and uncontained core material somewhere under Unit 1.

Copyright Beyond Nuclear 2015

“It is the triumph of filthy rich campaign contributors.”

Hillary Clinton just announced that she’s running for president. However, this commentary is not really about her. It’s about a nation of more than 300 million people in which politics has become the sole property and domain of the rich. The rich decided some time ago that Hillary Clinton would be the virtually unchallenged presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. The 48 percent of Americans that express an affinity with the Democratic Party have not yet chosen Clinton. There has been no primary election in any state. But, that does not matter because the selection process that counts occurs in the boardrooms and mansions and private clubs and getaways of the rich. Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill, have spent virtually their entire adult lives on the millionaires’ campaign circuit, the rich man’s primary. In the process of pleasing the rich, they have become rich, themselves.

Hillary hopes to spend two and a half billion dollars of – mostly – rich people’s money in the 2016 campaign. Wealthy people will be just as generous with the Republican candidate. The outcome on Election Day is absolutely certain: the rich man’s candidate will definitely win, and the people will lose – because they have no candidate in the major parties.

The people are not even in the game; the contest is over before the Democratic Party’s formal selection process even begins. And, when primary season does arrive, it will only be a formality. The menu has already been printed, and Hillary will be the main course for Democrats next year.

Democratic voters can say “Yes” to Hillary, but they can’t say “No,” because the party machinery and the rich men who pay for that machinery will crucify and expel any Democrat who seriously challenges her from the Left.

The Party has always been a scam.

The Democratic Party’s apologists like to call it a big tent with room for Blacks and browns and gays and labor and peace-loving people. But it’s actually a huge trap designed to contain and politically neutralize the folks who might otherwise turn against the rich. The Party has always been a scam, but at least in the old days it put on a populist show to fool the rank and file into believing that they could actually influence the party’s direction. However, Wall Street is determined that there will be no serious Democratic deviation from the corporate agenda set by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton would represent the third Clinton presidency – which, for Wall Street, is just as good as the two George Bush presidencies. Maybe better, because labor and Blacks and that fuzzy cohort called liberals will all think they won the election, when nothing could be farther from the truth. Rank and file Democrats will see the fait accompli of Hillary’s nomination as a sign of unity among Democrats, when in fact it is the triumph of filthy rich campaign contributors. The rich have shown great solidarity in uniting behind a Democratic presidential candidate. Later on, they will unite around a Republican candidate, too. After that, it won’t matter who wins.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

During the days of the Soviet Union, and in all dictatorial countries, the ‘news’ media were and are actually propaganda-media, which filter out information that the aristocracy (the people holding the real power, which in the Soviet Union were the Communist Party bosses) don’t want the public to know. Is the United States like that now?

I first came to the conclusion that the U.S. is a dictatorship in 2002, when I found proof that George W. Bush was lying to claim that he possessed proof that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding his WMD (weapons of mass destruction) stockpiles, and when the U.S. and UK ’news’ media hid this crucial fact that their heads-of-state were lying. Bush and British Prime Minster Tony Blair were arguing in 2002 against sending IAEA inspectors back into Iraq in order to verify whether or not Saddam was rebuilding his WMD stockpiles; they alleged that they (Bush-Blair) already possessed proof that he was accumulating WMD.

Here is how I found out that they were lying about that: On Saturday 7 September 2002, the White House issued “Remarks by the President and Prime Minister Tony Blair in Photo Opportunity Camp David” (still googlable at here), with the following exchange between a journalist and Bush-Blair:

THE PRESIDENT: AP lady.

Q Mr. President, can you tell us what conclusive evidence of any nuclear – new evidence you have of nuclear weapons capabilities of Saddam Hussein?

THE PRESIDENT: We just heard the Prime Minister talk about the new report. I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied – finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic – the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Absolutely right.

Then, as soon as the weekend was over, on Monday 9 September 2002, was issued by the IAEA the following:

Related Coverage: Director General’s statement on Iraq to the IAEA Board of Governors on 9 September 2002 [this being a republication of their notice three days earlier, on 6 Sep.].

Vienna, 06 September, 2002 - With reference to an article published today in the New York Times [which, as usual, stenographcally reported the Administration’s false allegations, which the IAEA was trying to correct in a way that would minimally offend the NYT and the U.S. President], the International Atomic Energy Agency would like to state that it has no new information on Iraq’s nuclear programme since December 1998 when its inspectors left Iraq [and verified that no WMD remained there at that time]. Only through a resumption of inspections in accordance with Security Council Resolution 687 and other relevant resolutions can the Agency draw any conclusion with regard to Iraq’s compliance with its obligations under the above resolutions relating to its nuclear activities.

Contact: Mark Gwozdecky, Tel: (+43 1) 2600-21270, e-mail: [email protected].

It even linked to the following statement from the IAEA Director General amplifying it:

Since December 1998 when our inspectors left Iraq, we have no additional information that can be directly linked without inspection to Iraq’s nuclear activities. I should emphasize that it is only through resumption of inspections that the Agency can draw any conclusion or provide any assurance regarding Iraq’s compliance with its obligations under these resolutions.

So, this was proof of the falsehood of Bush’s and Blair’s reference to the IAEA, in which Bush-Blair were saying that, upon the authority of the IAEA itself, there was “the new report … a report came out of the Atomic — the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.”

Bush invented “the new report”; it didn’t even exist, at all. And Blair, probably stunned that Bush possessed the gall to concoct things out of thin air that didn’t exist — and Blair also being Bush’s lapdog — confirmed Bush’s brazen lie, which Bush further brazenly alleged came originally from Blair. Bush’s entire brazenness likely shocked Blair. After all: Bush necessarily knew that his attributing his information “about the new report” from the IAEA, to Blair, as if Blair had read such an IAEA report (which was non-existent), was, itself, known by Blair to be false — he’s not so dumb. But Blair didn’t object to that, at all. He didn’t correct Bush; he didn’t even say (which would have been a tactful way to put it) “Well, perhaps I was misunderstood there by the President, but The New York Times does contain a rather alarming article about Iraq, which the President is referring to.”

Unfortunately, the American and British press simply ignored the IAEA’s contradiction of the U.S. President and of the British Prime Minister. (I deal in more detail on that in my 2004 IRAQ WAR: The Truth, pages 39-44.)

So: I knew, from this incident, that the U.S. and UK are dictatorships, and that the American and British publics were being lied into invading Iraq — into slaughtering and being slaughtered on the basis of dictators’ lies and aristocrats’ secret agendas. Though ultimately the inspectors did go back into Iraq, and they weren’t finding anything to indicate that Saddam had any new stockpiles, Bush-Blair alleged themselves to know better, and launched the 20 March 2003 invasion though the inspectors found no evidence to support the two leaders’ accusations.

Here are further documentations that the U.S. (and its lap-dog Britain) is a dictatorship, and that its (their) press is systematically controlled to block the public from knowing things that the aristocracy place their highest priority on keeping the public ignorant of:

“CNN Journalist ‘Governments Pay Us To Fake Stories’, Shocking Exposé”

“CNN News Stories Spoon Fed by the Gov’t”

“US Backs Honduras Death Squads”

“Leading German Journalist Admits CIA ‘Bribed’ Him and Other Leaders of the Western ‘Press’”

“The CIA and Other Government Agencies Have Long Used Propaganda Against the American People”

“How Reliable Is Reuters?”

“Western Media Blackout on the Reality in Ukraine”

“The Propaganda War About Ukraine”

“The Most-Censored News Story of 2014 Was ____(What?)_____.”

“Our ‘Enemies’ in Ukraine Speak”

“Even America’s ‘Media Watchdogs’ Hide U.S.’s Ukrainian Nazification & Ethnic Cleansing”

“NYT, Chrystia Freeland, on Ukraine: ‘This is not a civil war.’”

“Massive News-Suppression That’s Become History-Suppression”

And, finally, here is an article that I did for Huffington Post, and which they ‘published’ but buried so that virtually nobody saw it; and the reason why they ‘published’ it but hid it from the public is obvious, when you understand how this country’s dictatorship works:

“Hillary Clinton’s Two Foreign-Policy Catastrophes”

Now that story became ‘old news,’ even though it never had really been reported to the public as being news — and, so, it still actually is news, though it’s about events that occurred in 2009-2012, and so it’s history that is also, tragically, still news (because it’s still hidden).

In conclusion, regarding the title-question here: any purported national-news medium in the United States makes a choice between honestly reporting the news and being and staying small and not getting the major financial backing from the American aristocracy that would enable them to grow large; or else to sell out to the aristocracy.

The present news-article, like all I do, is being submitted free-of-charge to virtually all U.S. & UK national news media, including to CNN, NYT, HuffPo and the others I’ve mentioned here, so that they will be able to indicate now a desire to open up to the public as is done in an authentic democracy, just by their giving the present article prominent position, and so documenting that though the U.S., at present, is not a democracy, they really do want it to become  a democracy.

The American and UK ’news’ media were not held accountable for their having assisted their respective heads-of-state to deceive their public into supporting an invasion that would be based on lies, about Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Here, now, will be an opportunity for these media to turn the corner and choose to cease being ‘news’ (actually propaganda) media for a fascism, and for them to become instead news media for a democracy.

Because there really is a choice to make between fake ‘choices’ between Democratic and Republican politicians (or Labor and Tory politicians), versus real choices between democratic and fascist politicians; but there won’t be any democrat who can even possibly come to lead this country unless the aristocracy’s grip on the ‘news’ media becomes replaced by something else: control by the public. Because a government that’s answerable to the owners  of the ‘news’ media, instead of to the public, might as well itself own all the ‘news’ media (especially in our post Citizens United world, where the Government is controlled by the aristocracy). It’s not an authentic democracy, at all. And neither control by the aristocracy who control the government, nor control by the government itself, will allow a democracy to exist. The third option — direct control of the news-media by  the public, non-profit in a way that depends neither upon the aristocracy nor upon the government that the aristocrats control — is fundamental to the existence of any authentic democracy. How this can best be done is, of course, subject to debate. But that it must be done is a given for anyone who supports authentic democracy, because it’s essential to democracy, especially in a post-Citizens-United world.

And here is the bottom line on the current reality, to show that the United States, in particular, is, indeed, a dictatorship: “US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study.” So, if anyone tells you that the U.S. is a democracy, then just ask him or her to explain those findings. Because, now, you can  explain them. Those findings have been explained, right here. All of the explanation is empirical; none of it is imaginary, at all. Everything does  make sense. But it’s not necessarily the sense that has been publicized. On some matters, only the nonsense is being publicized. Because that’s far more profitable, to the people who hold the real power, in a dictatorship.

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

The Anthrax Coverup Exposed

April 19th, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Graeme MacQueen’s 2014 book, The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy, has been vindicated by the head of the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation.

Four and one-half months ago I posted a review of MacQueen’s book.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/12/02/2001-anthrax-deception-case-domestic-conspiracy/

The hired government apologists, the despicable presstitute media, and the usual gullible patriots greeted the book with screams of “conspiracy theory.” In fact, MacQueen’s book was a carefully researched project that established that there indeed was a conspiracy–a conspiracy inside the government.

MacQueen’s conclusion stands vindicated by Richard Lambert, the agent in charge of the FBI anthrax investigation who has turned whistleblower.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/04/head-fbis-anthrax-investigation-calls-b-s.html

It was obvious to any person familiar with the techniques that governments use to erode liberty by destroying the protection given to citizens by law that the purpose of the anthrax letters, especially the letters to senators Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle, was to raise the fear level in order to guarantee the passage of the tyrannical PATRIOT Act.

The PATRIOT Act was a decisive blow against American liberty. The act has served to negate the US Constitution in the 21st century and to endow the federal government with unaccountable and tyrannical powers.

In a court filing, Richard Lambert says that as the agent in charge of the investigation he was obstructed and impeded in his investigation for four years by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, by apathy and error from the FBI Laboratory, by erroneous legal decisions, and by politically motivated communication embargoes from FBI Headquarters.

As Lambert has filed a case in US District Court, it will be difficult for Washington to have him assassinated. However, Washington can still use its presstitutes against him.

Lambert says that there was far more exculpatory evidence in Bruce Ivins behalf than there was orchestrated circumstantial evidence against him. Ivins was Washington’s scapegoat after the orchestrated case against Steven Hatfill fell apart and Washington had to pay Hatfill $4.6 million for defamation. Lambert says the evidence was not sufficient for a court conviction of Ivins, who conveniently died or was murdered, and thus could be blamed without conviction.

Scientists have conclusively proven that the anthrax in the letters was advanced bio-weapons technology to which Ivins had no access.

Lambert’s accusations filed in federal court have the capability of exposing the entire 9/11 deception. It will be interesting to see if Washington can again prevail over law and truth and whether the American public will remain insouciant and content in their Matrix existence.

Asahi Shimbun, Apr 11, 2015 (emphasis added):

  • Google Translate: Ibaraki Prefecture… for a large amount of dolphin which was launched on the shore… the National Science Museum… investigated… researchers rushed from national museums and university laboratory, about 30 people were the anatomy of the 17 animals in the field. [According to Yuko Tajima] who led the investigation… “the lungs of most of the 17… was pure white ischemic state, visceral signs of overall clean and disease and infections were observed”… Lungs white state, that has never seen before.
  • Systran: The National Science Museum… investigated circumstance and cause etc concerning the mass dolphin which is launched to the seashore of Ibaraki prefecture… the researchers ran from the museum and the university laboratory… approximately 30 people dissected 17… [Yuko Tajima] of the National Science Museum which directed investigation research worker [said] “the most lung 17 was state with true white, but as for the internal organs being clean”… The lung true white as for state, says… have not seen.

Fukushima Diary, Apr 12, 2015: According to National Science Museum, most of the inspected 17 dolphins had their lungs in ischaemia state… The chief of the researching team stated “Most of the lungs looked entirely white”… internal organs were generally clean without any symptoms of disease or infection, but most of the lungs were in ischaemia state. She said “I have never seen such a state”.

Wikipedia: Ischemia is a vascular disease involving an interruption in the arterial blood supply to a tissue, organ, or extremity that, if untreated, can lead to tissue death.

Many reports have been published on the links between ischemia and radiation exposure:

  • “It has been shown that the ionizing radiation in small doses under certain conditions can be considered as one of starting mechanisms of… IHD [ischemic heart disease].” -Source
  • “Radiation risks on non-cancer effects has been revealed in the [Chernobyl] liquidators… Recently, the statistically significant dose risk of ischemic heart disease… was published.” -Source
  • “Incidence of and mortality from ischemic heart disease (IHD) have been studied in a cohort of 12210 workers [at] Mayak nuclear facility… there was statistically significant increasing trend in IHD incidence with total external gamma dose.” -Source
  • “Numerous studies have been published concerning non cancer diseases in liquidators… Risk of ischemic heart disease… seems increased.” -Source
  • “In 1990 the International Chernobyl Project has been carried out under the aegis of the IAEA… It is known that the international experts who had taken part in the International Chernobyl Project were aware of the report by the Minster of the Ministry of Health Care of Belarus delivered at an informal meeting arranged by the IAEA… The Belorussian Minister reported about… the worsening of the general health state of the affected population… “Among adults in 1988 there was a two- to fourfold increase, in comparison with preceding years, in the number of persons suffering from… ischemic heart diseases” -Source
  • “In a study on a Russian cohort of 61,000 Chernobyl emergency workers… a statistically significant risk of ischemic heart disease was observed.” -Source

Eager to cut, savage and wind back constructive projects in the realm of medicine, science and education, Australia’s government has made its latest head-shaking announcement on budgetary issues. The veteran climate change sceptic Bjørn Lomborg is going to become the recipient of $4 million in Australian tax payers’ money.  According to a spokesman for education minister, Christopher Pyne, the government was going to be providing the money over four years to “bring the Copenhagen Consensus methodology to Australia” houses at newly established centre at the University of Western Australia.

While Pyne and company have given the impression that university staff were briefed on the move, many have demurred from that account.  The university’s vice-chancellor, among a few others, seemed to be the only ones kept in the loop about the move.  Instead of seeing how well used such money would be, Prof Paul Johnson could only reduce it to general terms, claiming that “it is difficult to get federal dollars to flow across the Nullabor.”  Anything will do.

The baffling nature of this funding move is to be contrasted by the diminished standing Lomborg has in his native Denmark, whose government defunded the centre in 2012.  This ended eight years of regular supply.  Showing how antiquated and disregarded centres have their populist purpose, the climate denialists in the Abbott government have decided to give the finger to science in favour of the Lomborg “consensus”, which is its own form of contrarian dogma.

To date, Lomborg’s donors have preferred to be anonymous and private.  He has admitted to receiving moneys from the Kaufman Foundation, New Ventures Foundation, the Rush Foundation and the Randolph Foundation.[1] His outfit involves seven full time employees dedicated to commissioning “all the smart economists from around the world to write the papers that actually estimate what are the costs and benefits [of climate change policies].”  Science remains the unfortunate orphan in this project, while economics is the privileged child of the endeavour.

This is not to say that Lomborg is an absolutist on denying climate change.   He eschews hysteria about an ending world, disappearing cities, the calamitous results of environmental upheaval.  Having read an interview with economist Julian Simon in Wired Magazine in 1997, one claiming that the naysayers and doomsdayer types were wrong in presuming that things were getting worse,  Lomborg commenced his work on The Sceptical Environmentalist.  “Yes, global warming is real, it is a challenge, but the typical way we solve it turns out to be a pretty poor investment of resources.”

In 2001, when the book came out, it produced a range of positive reviews from The Economist,Washington Post and The New York Times.  But while being critical about the apocalyptic alarmism of various climate change lobbies, including rates of deforestation and species extinction, he provided a recipe for splendid policy inertia. Climate change denialists flocked to him and feted the academic from Aarhus.  They did not have to wait too long for Lomborg’s follow up work, Cool It.

The critics found examples of statistical distortion, misuse of data and traditional cherry picking.  While his targets are supposedly the alarmists, he, in turn, is the master of environmental understatement, adding colours of optimism to a world otherwise doomed.  He remains, at heart, an efficiency maximiser in the economic tradition, not a sound environmental don.

Since then, he continues to pour water – he has ample amounts of it – over arguments about catastrophic upheaval.  He cites studies showing “a decrease in the world’s surface that has been afflicted by droughts since 1982.”[2]  The costs of some natural disasters has increased because of population growth and proximity of humans to the danger zones.  Are people in poor states at greater risk to climate change results or basic indigence?  According to Lomborg, “if we want to help the poor people who are most threatened by natural disasters, we have to recognise that it is less about cutting carbon emissions than it is about pulling them out of poverty” (Wall Street Journal, Feb 1).

In March, Lomborg found himself helping the Australian government to launch the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s development innovation hub.  To show how he has become a weapon in the climate change wars, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop would claim that he was “a leading economist and a creative thinker and will add to the international input for our exciting new innovation initiative for the delivery of aid.”  But the opening of the hub seemed somewhat absurd in the context of foreign aid as a policy – after all, its levels have been, in the words of foreign affairs spokeswoman for Labor, Tanya Plibersek, the “weakest” and “most-depleted… in Australian history”.[3]

For all his focus on cost-effective expenditure, his centre has become part of an even poorer investment of resources, allied as they are to government subsidies in non-renewable, and polluting sources.  Where Lomborg and Abbott government see eye to eye is the veneration they afford fossil fuels, notably cheap fossil fuels.  Dirty coal, for Abbott, is mighty and sovereign; for Lomborg, making such fuels accessible to the developing world is fundamental.  This constitutes a polluter’s charter.

According to opposition environment spokesperson Mark Butler, a cash-strapped Abbott government was proving all too willing to part with the goods when it came to Lomborg. “Tony Abbott has found millions of taxpayers’ dollars to fund his attack on renewable energy while at the same time gutting Australia’s science and university funding… [he] has deputised one of the world’s most well-known renewable energy sceptics to continue his climate change denial and attacks on renewable energy” (The Australian, Apr. 17).

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

Notes:

In this public response to the smear campaign and personal attacks on Richard Horton, The Lancet Editor-in-Chief, Lancet Complaint to Reed Elsevier, we assert:-

1. Richard Horton is highly regarded as an exceptional leader in global health and as a campaigning Editor of The Lancet in the best traditions of the Journal.

2. Politics is intrinsic to many health issues and a legitimate subject for health commentary and debate, especially in the world’s leading global health journal. Controversy is an inevitable and healthy aspect of public discourse on political issues.

3. The “Open letter to the people of Gaza” addressed an important topical issue, the main points of which have been substantiated by subsequent, independent, reports of what happened in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, of which it is possible that some of the complainants are unaware.

4. To describe the Open letter as ”stereotypical extremist hate propaganda” is inaccurate and unhelpful hyperbole.

5. The Lancet provided equal coverage of views for and against the letter in subsequent published correspondence, reflecting the ratio of letters received by the Journal and allowing a healthy debate to take place.

6. The Lancet Ombudsman’s review of the issue was balanced and fair, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the letter and how the controversy was handled, for all to see. She was not persuaded that the letter should be retracted.

7. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is best placed to judge whether its Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines have been breached. A previous Chair of COPE has written that the Open letter should not be retracted.

8. The heavy-handed attempt to force The Lancet to withdraw the Open letter is the latest in a series of attempts to stifle media coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue and should be resisted.

9. In the light of reports by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and others, the “unfinished business” of Operation Protective Edge is to determine whether and by whom, from either side of the conflict, violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed.

15 April 2015

Scroll down to read the full response.

WRITING GROUP:

Professor Graham Watt MD FRCGP FRSE FMedSci, Professor of General Practice, University of Glasgow, UK

Sir Iain Chalmers DSc FFPH FRCP Edin FRCP FMedSci, Coordinator, James Lind Initiative, Oxford, UK

Professor Rita Giacaman, PharmD, MPhil, Professor of Public Health, Birzeit University, occupied Palestinian territory

Professor Mads Gilbert MD PhD, Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Tromsø, Norway

Professor John S Yudkin MD FRCP, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University College London, UK

If you wish to communicate with the Writing Group please email [email protected]

SUPPORTING SIGNATORIES:

Professor Emeritus Jarle Aarbakke MD PhD Former President (Rector) UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway

Professor Adel Afifi, MD, MS Professor Emeritus, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, US.

Professor Rima Afifi, PhD Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Dr. Neil Arya, MD, CCFP, FCFP D Litt Assistant Clinical Professor Family Medicine, McMaster University, Adjunct Professor Family Medicine Western University, Adjunct Professor Environment and Resources Studies University of Waterloo, Canada.

Dr. Rajaie Batniji, MD, DPhil Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Stanford University, US

Professor Robert Beaglehole DSc FRS(NZ) ONZM Professor Emeritus, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Professor Espen Bjertness, PhD Head, Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

Professor Rolf Busund, MD PhD Professor of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Professor Simon Capewell DSc MD Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Liverpool, UK.

Professor Phil Cotton MD Professor of Learning and Teaching, University of Glasgow, UK.

Professor George Davey Smith MD DSc FMedSci Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Bristol, UK.

Professor John A Davies Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge, UK.4

Dr. James Deutsch, MD, PhD, FRCPC Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada.

Judith Deutsch, M.S.W. Faculty, Toronto Psychoanalytic Institute, Canada. Former President Science for Peace (2008-2012)

Professor Abbas Elzein, PhD Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Sydney, Australia.

Sir Terence English KBE FRCS FRCP. Former President of the Royal College of Surgeons, President of the British Medical Association and Master of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, UK.

Professor Gene Feder MD FRCGP Professor of Primary Health Care, University of Bristol, UK.

Professor Olav Helge Foerde, MD PhD Department of Community Medicine, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Professor Per Fugelli, MD Professor of Social Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

Dr. Miriam Garfinkle, MD Retired Community Physician, Independent Jewish Voices, Canada.

Emilio Gianicolo, Researcher of the Italian National Research Council, Italy. Since September 2013, guest researcher at the University of Mainz, Institute of Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics in Mainz, Germany.

Professor Gordon Guyatt, PhD Distinguished Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Medicine, McMaster University, Canada.

Professor Rima Habib, PhD, MPH, MOHS Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Professor Gudmund Hernes Norwegian Business School, Oslo; Former Norwegian Minister of Education and Research (1990-95), and of Health (1995-97)

Professor Dennis Hogan,PhD Robert E. Turner Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Population Studies and Sociology, Brown University, US.

Professor Gerd Holmboe-Ottesen, PhD Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

Professor Anne Husebekk MD PhD Rector of UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Professor Tor Ingebrigtsen MD PhD Hospital Chief Executive/CEO, The University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Dr. Lars Jerden, MD, PhD Center for Clinical Research Dalarna, Sweden.

Professor Jak Jervell, PhD Professor Emeritus, Honorary President, International Diabetes Federation, Norway.

Professor Ann Louise Kinmonth CBE FMedSci Emeritus Professor of General Practice, University of Cambridge, UK.

Professor Rebecca Kay PhD Professor of Russian Gender Studies; Co-convenor Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network GRAMNET, University of Glasgow, UK

Professor Debbie Lawlor FMedSci Professor of Epidemiology, University of Bristol, UK.

Professor Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH FXB Professor of Practice of Health and Human Rights, Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, US.

Professor Emeritus Georges Midrè, PhD Department of Sociology, Political Science and Community Planning, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Professor Alan Myers, MD, MPH, FAAP Professor of Paediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, US.

Professor Kaare Norum, MS, PhD Former president (Rector) University of Oslo, Former Dean of Medical Faculty, University of Oslo, Norway.

Professor Iman Nuwayhid, PhD Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Professor Kate O’Donnell PhD Professor of Primary Care Research and Development, University of Glasgow, UK.

Professor Ole Petter Ottersen, MD, PhD Rector of the University of Oslo, Norway.

Professor Alison Phipps, OBE, PHD, FRSE Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, University of Glasgow, UK. Co-Convener: Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network, UK.

Professor Raija-Leena Punamaki, PhD School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Finland.

Reem A. Qadir MSW RSW A social worker with extensive work experience in Individual and Family Therapy, Canada.

Dr. Sara Roy, PhD Senior Research Scholar Associate, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, US.

Professor Harry Shannon, PhD Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Canada

Professor Debbie Sharp PhD FRCGP Professor of Primary Health Care, University of Bristol, UK.

Dr. Angelo Stefanini, MD, MPH Scientific Director, Centre for International Health. Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy.

Professor Johanne Sundby, PhD/MD Department of Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

Dr. George Tawil, MD Clinical Associate Professor, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington DC. Past president of the Medical Staff, Inova Alexandria Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia. Past Chair, Medical Affairs Council, Inova Health Systems, Fairfax, Virginia, US.

Professor Paul Wallace FRCGP FFPHM Emeritus David Cohen Professor of Primary Care, University College London, UK.

Professor Steinar Westin MD PhD Department of Public Health and General Practice, The Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway.

Professor Salim Yusuf, DPhil, FRCPC, FRSC, O.C. Professor of Medicine, McMaster University, Canada

Professor Huda Zurayk, PhD Professor and previous Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Introduction

On 31 March 2015, 396 professors and doctors, led by Professor Sir Mark Pepys, submitted a complaint to the Senior Management and Board of Reed Elsevier concerning “egregious editorial misconduct at The Lancet that is unacceptable in general and also gravely violates your own published Editorial Policies”.

The signatories include 5 Nobel laureates, 4 knights and a Lord. 193 (49%) of the signatories are from the US, 95 (24%) from Israel, 33 (8%) from the UK, 26 from France, 19 from Canada, 12 from Australia with smaller numbers from Belgium (3), Brazil (3), Italy (2), Denmark (2), Mexico (1), Panama (1), South Africa (1), Sweden (1) and Switzerland (1).

The complaint makes brief mention of The Lancet’s publication of the paper by Wakefield, linking MMR vaccine to autism, which was shown subsequently to be fraudulent, but is chiefly concerned with The Lancet Editor-in-Chief, Richard Horton, and his alleged “persistent and inappropriate misuse of The Lancet to mount a sustained political vendetta concerning the Israel-Palestinian conflict, to promote his own well known personal political agenda”.

The centre of the complaint concerns “An open letter for the people of Gaza” by Manduca and 23 others, which was published online by The Lancet on 22nd July and in hard copy on 2nd August 2014, 14 days into “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s 50 day attack on Gaza.

The complainants consider that this letter, and The Lancet’s handling of the controversy it aroused, breached both the Journal’s own policies and the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors issues by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

The complaint ends by requiring “Reed Elsevier to behave ethically by retracting the Manduca letter, apologizing for its publication and ensuring that any further editorial malpractice at The Lancet is prevented”.

Chronology of events

8 July 2014

Israel began a major military assault on the Gaza Strip, the fourth in eight years. It lasted 50 days and was more devastating than previous offensives. 2,220 Gaza residents were killed, of whom at least 70% were civilians, including over 500 children. More than 17,000 residents were wounded and over 100,000 made homeless (UN OCHAopt, 2014). According to Israeli official accounts, 73 Israelis were killed: 67 soldiers and 6 civilians, including one child and one migrant worker. 469 Israeli soldiers and 255 civilians were wounded (Bachmann et al. 2014).

15-22 July 2014

A report cited by the Sunday Telegraph newspaper records that 125 children were killed during the week 15-22 July 2014, including 59 on 20th July.

22 July 2014

On the 14th day of Israel’s 50-day assault ‘An open letter for the people in Gaza’, co-authored by 24 signatories from Italy, the UK and Norway, was published by the medical journal The Lancet, initially online and subsequently in print (Manduca et al. 2014a). One of the signatories provided eyewitness accounts of the medical consequences for the civilian population, while working clinically at the largest trauma centre in Gaza during the first weeks of the assault. The letter was endorsed online by more than 20,000 signatories.

9 and 16 August 2014

The Lancet published 20 letters in hard copy editions, divided equally between authors criticising and supporting the Open Letter. Some correspondents declared that medicine “should not take sides” and that those who speak out against the consequences of war for civilians incited hate or introduced politics “where there is no place for it” (see, for example, Konikoff et al. 2014). Others described the letter as “anti-Jewish bigotry, pure and simple” (Marmor et al. 2014), although at least one of the authors of the ‘Open Letter’ was Jewish, and the word “Jewish” did not appear in the letter. Similar charges were made in the lay press, both within Israel and elsewhere (see Simons 2014, for example).

One of the letters published in response to the ‘Open Letter’ was co-authored by seven Jewish health professionals in South Africa (London et al. 2014). They suggested that “remaining neutral in the face of injustice is the hallmark of a lack of ethical engagement typical of docile populations under fascism”. They had witnessed and exposed some of the worst excesses of state brutality under apartheid, and had been harassed, victimised or detained for being anti-apartheid activists. They pointed out that they did not have the opportunity to air their views in their national medical journal, which suppressed public statements made by concerned health professionals and labelled such appeals for justice and human rights as ‘political’.

They expressed support for The Lancet’s decision to permit a discussion of the professional, ethical, and human rights implications of the conflict in Gaza, emphasizing that it is appropriate for health professionals to speak out on matters that are core to their professional values.

30 August 2014

After 20 responses to the ‘Open Letter’ had been published, its authors accepted The Lancet’s invitation to reply (Manduca et al. 2014b). They denied any financial conflicts of interests, as had been alleged, and listed the variety of experiences and affiliations that had led to their support for Palestinian society.

They noted that the allegations by the Ministry of Health in Gaza that gas had been used by the Israeli military would need to be tested by an independent Commission of Inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council. They ended by recalling the context in which they had written their letter: during the preceding two days one Palestinian child was being killed, on average, every two hours, and the UN had made clear how serious the situation had become:

The huge loss of civilian life, alongside credible reports about civilians or civilian objects (including homes) which have been directly hit by Israeli shelling, in circumstances where there was no rocket fire or armed group activity in the close vicinity, raise concerns about the principles of distinction and proportionality under international law.” (OCHA oPt 2014)

22 September 2014

Some were dissatisfied with The Lancet’s handling of the Open Letter. Two medical academics at University College London registered complaints with The Lancet Ombudsman (Simons 2014). One of them, Professor Sir Mark Pepys, was quoted in The Telegraph as having written that “The failure of the Manduca et al. authors to disclose their extraordinary conflicts of interest… are the most serious, unprofessional and unethical errors…The transparent effort to conceal this vicious and substantially mendacious partisan political diatribe as an innocent humanitarian appeal has no place in any serious publication, let alone a professional medical journal, and would disgrace even the lowest of the gutter press.”

Pepys suggested that the behaviour of Dr Horton, editor of The Lancet, was “consistent with his longstanding and wholly inappropriate use of The Lancet as a vehicle for his own extreme political views, which had greatly detracted from the former high standing of the journal.” (quoted in Simons 2014).

The article in The Telegraph also alleged that two of the authors of the Open letter – one of them Chinese – have sympathies with the views of “an American white supremacist” (Simons, 2014), following the mistaken forwarding of emails, for which both individuals subsequently apologised.

When one of the authors of the ‘Open Letter’, the Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who has worked clinically in Gaza during every Israeli assault on the Strip since 2006, was voted “Norwegian Name of the Year” in a national poll in December 2014, Pepys and eight other doctors wrote to the largest Norwegian newspaper, VG, to complain about his silence on the ‘loathsome hatred and racism’ of his co-authors. They asked for his national award to be reconsidered (Cohn et al. 2015).

17 October 2014

The Lancet Ombudsman published her report online on 17 October (Wedzicha, 2014). She said that she had received many emails and letters, some supporting and others opposing the position expressed in the ‘Open Letter’, and that some of them had been inappropriate in tone and of a personal nature. She stated that it was “entirely proper that medical journals and other media should seek to guide and reflect debate on matters relevant to health, including conflicts”.

She was not persuaded by calls for retraction of the ‘Open Letter’, “I do not believe that sufficient grounds for retraction have been established, and this would make other letters referring to the publication in question difficult to interpret”.

The Ombudsman went on to address allegations of bias among the authors of the ‘Open Letter’. “Given the shocking images and statistics reported from Gaza at the time, the use by Manduca and colleagues of emotive language, in description of the ‘massacre in Gaza’ for example, can be understood. Where the letter is less successful is in its portrayal of the armed element of the conflict on the Palestinian side. Given the authors’ close association with the region they will have been aware that several thousand potentially lethal rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza into Israel during the conflict, leading to loss of life.”

The authors were criticised for not having disclosed at the time of submission “any financial or other relationships that could be perceived to affect their work”, and she indicated that she would be asking the journal’s editors to put a policy in place as soon as possible to rectify this. The Ombudsman criticised the authors for not referencing in their original letter the source for their statement about the possible use of gas in Gaza.

The Ombudsman’s most serious criticism of the letter was the “regrettable statement” that, because only 5% of Israeli academics had supported an appeal to the Israeli government to stop the military operation in Gaza (Gur-Arieh 2014), the authors had been “tempted to conclude that…the rest of the Israeli academics [had been] complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza”.

“In summary”, the Ombudsman concluded, “the letter by Manduca and co-authors was published at a time of great tension, violence and loss of life. Given these circumstances the letter’s shortcomings can be understood, as a measure of balance has been achieved by the publication of further letters from both sides of the debate.”

3 November 2014

The Ombudsman’s decision to reject calls for the letter to be withdrawn from the public record was supported by Dr Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, former chair of COPE and author of COPE’s Code of Conduct for Editors (Smith 2014): The Lancet letter was “passionate, overstated in parts, inflammatory to some, and one sided; and the authors failed to declare competing interests and two of them had acted in an objectionable but not illegal way. But none of these are grounds for retraction.”

He ended his commentary on an historical note:

The Lancet was made the great journal it is by Thomas Wakley, the founder and first editor, publishing articles that were so inflammatory that his critics burnt his house down. That radical tradition has not always shone brightly in the nearly 200 years since, but Horton has restored it strongly, establishing the Lancet as a world leader in global health, speaking truth to power and giving a voice to those who are not heard (like the children of Gaza). It’s against that radical tradition and leadership that the Gaza open letter must be viewed. It should and has been disputed, but it shouldn’t be retracted.”

Contrasting views of journal editors

Editors have disagreed on whether political issues should be addressed in scientific journals.

For example, the American Diabetes Association issued a statement, signed by several editors of leading diabetes and endocrine journals, indicating that they “will refrain from publishing articles addressing political issues that are outside of either research funding or health care delivery” (American Diabetes Association 2014).

In response, a commentary signed by the current and two previous editors-in-chief of theEuropean Journal of Public Health, one of whom has longstanding and very extensive collaborations with Israeli colleagues (McKee et al. 2015), voiced strong support for The Lancet, arguing that medical journals cannot ignore the political determinants of health, including those arising from conflicts. They noted, “It seems strange that it was the diabetes community that feels it necessary to take this decision,” noting how the global epidemic of diabetes, fuelled by forcing markets open to energy-dense food, reflects a policy identified primarily with Republicans rather than Democrats in the United States.

Following the Ombudsman’s Report

Soon after Israel’s 2014 assault, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) assembled a medical fact-finding mission (FFM) of 8 international medical experts, unaffiliated with Israeli or Palestinian parties. Four had expertise in the fields of forensic medicine and pathology; four others were experts in emergency medicine, public health, paediatrics and paediatric intensive care, and health and human rights. The FFM made three visits to Gaza between 18 August and November, 2014.

The principal conclusion in the report of the FFM (Bachmann et al. 2014) is as follows: The attacks were characterised by heavy and unpredictable bombardments of civilian neighbourhoods in a manner that failed to discriminate between legitimate targets and protected populations and caused widespread destruction of homes and civilian property. Such indiscriminate attacks, by aircraft, drones, artillery, tanks and gunships, were unlikely to have been the result of decisions made by individual soldiers or commanders; they must have entailed approval from top-level decision-makers in the Israeli military and/or government.

The FFM (pp 98-99) listed many examples “suggestive of several serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law”, including disproportionality, attacks on medical teams and facilities, and denial of means of escape. They also reported (pp 53-55) evidence which suggested the use of anti-personnel weapons and gas during the conflict.

These accusations have also been made in reports by Amnesty International (Amnesty, 2014), Human Rights Watch (Human Rights Watch, 2014), B’Tselem (B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, 2015) and the United Nations (OCHA, 2014, 2015).

The FFM called on the UN, the EU, the US and other international actors to take steps to ensure that the governments of Israel and Egypt permit and facilitate the entry of investigative teams into Gaza, including experts in international human rights law and arms experts, and noted (in January 2015) that this had still not been done, months after the offensive. Specifically, the UN Commission of Inquiry has been denied entry to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza (See: United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict).

The FFM recommended further urgent and rigorous investigation into the impact of this war, as well as the previous armed conflicts, on public health, mental health and the broader social determinants of health in Gaza, adding that, in its assessment, the implacable effects of the on-going occupation itself would have to be taken into account.

There have been subsequent accusations by Amnesty International of war crimes committed by both sides of the conflict (BBC 2014; Linfield 2015).

Further calls for retraction of the Open Letter

Dissatisfied with the Ombudsman’s report, critics of the Open letter continued to call for it to be withdrawn and for The Lancet editor to apologise for publishing it. In a new development, the authors of the Open letter, and the journal, are being accused of being anti-Semitic. The current complaint to Reed Elsevier now refers to the Open Letter as “stereotypical extremist hate propaganda, under the selective and hypocritical disguise of medical concern”. On 24 February 2015, its lead author Professor Sir Mark Pepys wrote to 58 Israeli academics (Pepys, 2015):

The Lancet under the editorship of Richard Horton has published, for more than the past 10 years, many disgracefully dishonest and unacceptable articles about Israel. Horton has made no secret of the fact that these pieces express his own very strongly held personal views which he has published elsewhere in detail.

Last July, at the height of the Gaza war, The Lancet published a piece by Manduca and others which was at an unprecedentedly low level. It combines outright lies and slanted propaganda viciously attacking Israel with blood libels echoing those used for a thousand years to create anti-Semitic pogroms. It completely omitted the Hamas war crimes which initiated and sustained the conflict. There was no historical or political background. Crucially there was no mention of any conflict of interest among the authors despite the fact that Manduca and all the co-authors have long participated enthusiastically in not just anti-Israel but frankly Jew hating activities. All these individuals are close colleagues and collaborators of Horton.

Many of us have been trying as hard as we can since the Manduca publication to get it retracted, to get an apology for it and to convince Elsevier, the owners of The Lancet to both sanction Horton and to prevent any repetition of such shameful and unacceptable behaviour. So far there has been no satisfactory response. Indeed Horton continues to stand by the Manduca piece and refuses to accept that it is not factual and correct.

The goal of the attached protest to Elsevier document is to get the [‘Open letter’] retracted. I hope that all of you will sign it. Meanwhile colleagues at the Rambam Hospital have, as you know, invited Horton to Israel and shown him the reality of Israeli medicine, as opposed to the vicious anti-Semitic fantasy he has promoted. They have engaged in long discussions with him. Despite his refusal to either retract or apologise for his publications some colleagues are apparently convinced that Horton has reformed. Others, including Professor Peretz Lavie, the President of the Technion, who met with him for one and a half hours, were unconvinced by Horton’s presumed change of heart.

My view is that the Manduca piece was written by dedicated Jew haters, though some choose to mask this by being overtly passionate only about hating Israel. But they all agree that a Zionist/Jewish lobby or power group controls the world and its destiny and must be brought down. The Manduca piece would have made Goebbels proud and Streicher would have published it in Der Stürmer as happily as Horton published it in The Lancet…… anybody who was not a committed anti-Semite would firstly not have published (the Open letter), and secondly would have retracted instantly when the first author’s long track record of blatant anti-Semitism were exposed. In Horton’s case he already knew and liked her and her co-authors well, fully aware of all their vicious anti-Israel and frank, overtly anti-Semitic backgrounds.

Pepys’ text was distributed widely beyond the Israelis to whom the initial text had been sent, including, on 30 March, to over 150 academics with the subject line amended to:

DO NOT CITE The Lancet in your work – Their content includes fraudulent data’ (Lewis 2015).

As a result of this correspondence, 396 people have co-signed the complaint, including the statement “The collaboration of the academic community with Reed Elsevier and its journals is based on trust in their maintaining high ethical and scientific standards. None of us is under any obligation to submit and review material for publication in their journals or to serve on their editorial or advisory boards”.

The long history of pro-Israel suppression of medical freedom of expression

The heavy-handed escalation of the dispute and the use of ad personam charges of anti-Semitism to suppress freedom of expression in medical journals are not new.

In 1981, a short article in World Medicine informed medical readers who were considering attending the ‘medical olympics’ in Israel that the event was going to be held on the site of a massacre ordered by the then prime minister of Israel (Sabbagh 1981). The pro-Israel protest led eventually to the demise of the journal (O’Donnell 2009).

In 2001, pro-Israel objections to the historical background in an article on ‘The origins of Palestinians and their genetic relatedness with other Mediterranean populations’ published in Human Immunology (Arnaiz-Villena et al. 2001) led Elsevier to remove it from the public record.

In 2004, an article entitled ‘Poverty, stress and unmet needs: life with diabetes in the Gaza Strip’ (Tsapogas 2004) published in Diabetes Voice was expunged from the public record and the editor resigned, again because of charges of political bias.

In 2004, there was an outcry from pro-Israel doctors when the British Medical Journalpublished a personal view entitled ‘Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes’ (Summerfield 2004). The editor received nearly a thousand emails, many of them personally abusive and alleging anti-Semitism (Sabbagh 2009).

In 2009, commenting on several British Medical Journal papers exposing and discussing these issues, a senior British Medical Journal editor concluded that authors, editors, publishers, advertisers, and shareholders should ignore orchestrated email campaigns (Delamothe 2009). Citing another editor he suggested that the best way to blunt the effectiveness of this type of bullying is to expose it to public scrutiny.

Conclusion

The “Open letter to the People of Gaza” was written in deep concern and outrage during a military assault on the Gaza Strip, killing large numbers of civilians, including women and children, on a daily basis. The world was shocked and appalled. The content and tone of the letter were controversial, as shown by subsequent correspondence in The Lancet, for and against.

The Lancet Ombudsman criticised aspects of the letter but neither she nor a former Chair of COPE considered that it should be withdrawn.

The involvement of 396 senior researchers in a mass effort to force Reed Elsevier to withdraw the letter is the latest in a series of heavy-handed interventions to stifle media coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue and should be resisted.

Richard Horton should be supported as an exceptional editor of The Lancet, in the best traditions of the Journal.

The “unfinished business” of Operation Protective Edge is not whether the “Open Letter to the People of Gaza” should be retracted, but in the light of reports by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and others, to determine whether and by whom, from either side of the conflict, violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed.

Will the 396 signatories of the complaint to Reed Elsevier give their support to that objective?

Writing group

Professor Graham Watt MD FRCGP FRSE FMedSci

Graham Watt has long term academic links with the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University; has post-doctoral colleagues working at Birzeit University and the University of Hebron; chairs the steering committee of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance* and is a Trustee of the UK charity Medical Aid for Palestinians. He did not sign the Open Letter for the People of Gaza.

Sir Iain Chalmers DSc FFPH FRCP Edin FRCP FMedSci

Iain Chalmers was employed by UNRWA in Gaza in 1969 and 1970, and has returned there (self-funded) at intervals since, most recently to help support the development of Evidence-Based Medicine. He was a member of the steering committee for The Lancet series on Health and Health Services in the occupied Palestinian territory, and serves on the steering committee of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance*. He has supported the Gaza Oxford Brookes University Scholarship scheme financially, and makes regular financial contributions to Physicians for Human Rights–Israel, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Peace, together with other charities supporting human rights. He is a co-author of the Open Letter for the people of Gaza.

Professor Rita Giacaman, PharmD, MPhil

Rita Giacaman is a Palestinian faculty member at the Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University and a member of the steering committee of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance*.

Professor Mads Gilbert MD PhD

Mads Gilbert is a member of the Norwegian Palestine Committee and co-founder of Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC); has received funding from the Norwegian Government for medical work in Lebanon occupied Palestine; and has travelled to occupied Palestine, including Gaza, on various medical missions with paid or unpaid leave from the University Hospital of North-Norway for WHO, UNRWA, NORWAC, and the Norwegian Palestine Committee. He has worked as a clinician in Al-Shifa Hospital during recent Israeli incursions (2006, 2009, 2012 and 2014). He is a peer reviewer for conferences and publications of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance*. He delivered testimonies for the Report of the International Commission to enquire into reported violations of international law by Israel during its invasion of Lebanon, to the “Goldstone Commission” and to the current UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict. He is a co-author of the Open letter for the people of Gaza.

Professor John S Yudkin

John Yudkin is a peer reviewer for conferences and publications of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance* and a member of its steering committee.

*The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA) is a loose network of Palestinian, regional and international researchers who are committed to the highest scientific standards in describing, analysing and evaluating the health and health care of Palestinians, to contributing to the international scientific literature and to developing local evidence-based policy and practice. The principal activity of the LPHA is an annual scientific conference, selected abstracts from which have been published by The Lancet.

References

American Diabetes Association (2014). ADA/AACE/EASD/TES Statement in response to a recently published letter to the editor in The Lancet and an editorial addressing the Israeli-Palestinian fighting in Gaza. http://www.diabetes.org/newsroom/press-releases/2014/adaaaceeasdtes-statement.html

Amnesty International, 2014.https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/MDE15/032/2014/en/https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/report-israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/

Arnaiz-Villena A, Elaiwa N, Silvera C, Rostom A, Moscoso J, Gómez-Casado, Allende L, Varela P, Martínez-Laso J (2001). The origins of Palestinians and their genetic relatedness with other Mediterranean populations. Human Immunology 62:889-900.

Bachmann J, Baldwin-Ragaven L, Hougen HP, Leaning J, Kelly K, Özkalipci O, Reynolds L, Vacas L (2014). Gaza, 2014. Findings of an independent medical fact-finding mission. Physicians for Human Rights Israel.https://gazahealthattack.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/gazareport_eng.pdf

BBC (2014). Amnesty: Israeli strikes on Gaza buildings ‘war crimes’. 9 December.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-30393540

B’Tselem (2015). Black Flag: The legal and moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, summer 2014. Jan. 2015.http://www.btselem.org/publications/summaries/201501_black_flag

Cohn JR, Katz D, Zimmet P, Pepys M, Fink RH, Sprague SM, Greenland P, Stone D, Cohen S (2015). Norwegian newspaper VG, 27 January. http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/translation_of_norwegian_letter_on_mads_gilbert_from_international_doctors

Delamothe T (2009). What to do about orchestrated email campaigns. BMJ 338:491-92. 22

Gur-Arieh N (2014). More than 70 Israeli academics signed a petition condemning the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza. Jewish Journal, 29 July.http://www.jewishjournal.com/israelife/item/more_than_70_israeli_academics_signed_a_petition_condemning_the_israel_defe

Human Rights Watch, 2014 http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/11/israel-depth-look-gaza-school-attacks

Konikoff T, Konikoff FM, Shoenfeld Y (2014). Israel-Gaza conflict. Lancet 384:491.

Lewis BS (2015). ‘DO NOT CITE The Lancet in your work – Their content includes fraudulent data’. Email sent to 101 recipients, 30 March.

Linfield B (2015). Amnesty’s other verdict on Gaza war: Hamas committed war crimes as well. The Independent, 26 March. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/amnestys-other-verdict-on-gaza-war-hamas-committed-war-crimes-as-well-10134099.html

London L, Sanders D, Klugman B, Usdin S, Baldwin-Ragavan L, Fonn S, Goldstein S (2014). Israel–Gaza conflict. Lancet 384:e34.

Manduca P, Chalmers I, Summerfield D, Gilbert M, Ang S, Hay A, Rose S, Rose H, Stefanini A, Balduzzi A, Cigliano B, Pecoraro C, Di Maria E, Camandona F, Veronese G, Ramenghi L, Rui M, DelCarlo P, D’agostino S, Russo S, Luisi V, Papa S, Agnoletto V, Agnoletto M (2014a). An open letter for the people in Gaza. Lancet 384:397-8. http://www.thelancet.com/gaza-letter-2014

Manduca P, Chalmers I, Summerfield D, Gilbert M, Ang S, Hay A, Rose S, Rose H, Stefanini A, Balduzzi A, Cigliano B, Pecoraro C, Di Maria E, Camandona F, Veronese G, Ramenghi L, Rui M, DelCarlo P, D’agostino S, Russo S, Luisi V, Papa S, Agnoletto V, Agnoletto M (2014b). Israel-Gaza conflict. Authors Reply. Lancet 384:746.

Marmore BM, Spirt BA (2014). Israel-Gaza conflict. Lancet 384:491. 23

McKee M, Mackenbach JP, Allebeck P (2015). Should a medical journal ever publish a political paper? European Journal of Public Health 25:1-2.

OCHA oPt (2014). Occupied Palestinian Territory: Gaza emergency. Situation report (as of July, 22, 2014, 1500 hrs).http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_sitrep_23_07_2014.pdf

O’Donnell M (2009). Stand up for free speech. BMJ 338:512-13.

Pepys M (2015). Complaint to Reed Elsevier. Email sent to 58 Israeli recipients. 24 February. A copy of the full text of Pepys’ email (with recipients’ names and email addresses removed) is available to view here.

Sabbagh K (1981). Mere words: the blood on Begin’s hands. World Medicine 17:93.

Sabbagh K (2009). Perils of criticizing Israel. BMJ 338:509-11.

Simons JW (2014). Lancet ‘highjacked in anti-Israel campaign’. The Telegraph, 22 September.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11112930/Lancet-hijacked-in-anti-Israel-campaign.html

Smith R (2014). No case for retracting Lancet’s Gaza letter. BMJ Blog, 3 November.http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2014/11/03/richard-smith-no-case-for-retracting-lancets-gaza-letter/

Summerfield D (2004). Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes. BMJ 329:924.

Tsapogas P (2004). Poverty, stress and unmet needs: life with diabetes in the Gaza Strip. Diabetes Voice 49:12-15. Now removed from website. Article of complaint and apology from International Diabetes Federation http://www.idf.org/sites/default/files/attachments/article_290_en.pdf

United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflicthttp://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15456&LangID=E

UN OCHAopt, 2014. http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_sitrep_23_07_2014.pdf

UN OCHAopt, 2014. “Fragmented lives. Humanitarian overview 2014. March 2015. http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/annual_humanitarian_overview_2014_english_final.pdf

Wedzicha W (2014). Ombudsman’s report on the letter by Manduca and others. Lancet http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2961897-3/fulltext?rss=yes

Forty years ago on April 30, 1975, the Vietnamese people, led by their Communist Party, were finally victorious in the long just struggle for national independence and unification against the United States and its puppet regime in Saigon. 

America experienced an earthshaking lesson in Vietnam — “Stop your unjust wars of aggression!” —but Washington learned nothing from its humiliating defeat except to shift its battlefields of choice from Southeast Asia to Southwest Asia (i.e., the Middle East).

The U.S. went on to fight in Iraq three times and impose long sanctions in 25 continuous years; in Afghanistan the Pentagon has been fighting for 14 years and has achieved nothing; in Libya the U.S. bombed for less than a year but managed to spark a civil war and open the door to the Islamic State in the process. Many smaller incursions have taken place since losing the Vietnam war. For instance, the Obama Administration for years took actions to overthrow Syrian President Assad, and all the White House has to has to show for it is a jihadi war led by the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front (the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda).

Most Americans, except for families of the dead, veterans and war opponents, never think about the Vietnam War — one of history’s most unequal and vicious. Young Americans in general have received only a bowdlerized trace of information at school. At the same time, the lives of many Americans who protested this shameful war — civilians plus antiwar GIs and draft resisters — were largely radicalized and changed forever. Now in their sixties through eighties and older, they continue to this day to protest war and injustice. For some, myself included, details of this war remain indelibly etched in memory.

The day after the U.S. debacle the name of Saigon, the South Vietnamese capital where the American command was situated until being unceremoniously, was changed to Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the great leader of the Indochinese people who died in 1969. Hanoi, to the north, remained the capital of reunified Vietnam.

Droves of Americans, including a substantial number of former soldiers, now visit both cities and other parts of the Vietnam every year. Many tour the war museums, the old battlefields and tunnels used by peasants and fighters to escape from or to attack American forces. The Vietnamese treat such visitors courteously, without a sign of enmity, which is quite remarkable considering the horrors perpetrated upon a country that survived more explosive tonnage than the U.S. deployed during World War II in Europe and Asia-Pacific — 15,500,000 tons of air and ground munitions during the Vietnam War; 6,000,000 tons in WW II.

Vietnam at the time had a population of about 52 million situated on both sides of the 17th parallel, temporarily dividing North and South Vietnam. Over four million were killed in Washington’s aggressive war upon a very poor largely peasant society beginning in the mid-1950s when the U.S. took over from the defeated French colonialist armies. France had occupied and oppressed Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (Indochina) for over 100 years, then it became America’s turn. U.S. bombings killed at least a million more people in Laos and Cambodia.

For an American society fearfully fixated on a few domestic terrorist incidents such as the Boston Marathon killings or the so-called “underwear” bomber, the immensity of the deaths caused by their own government in Iraq, Vietnam and so many other countries, is evidently incomprehensible and thus unimportant.

U.S. combat deaths from 1955-1975 were 47,424, nearly all in the latter part of the war. Officially, Afghanistan is Washington’s longest war at 14 years, but unofficially Vietnam is six years longer. In time, Afghanistan may live up to its dubious designation since the U.S. government continues to delay full withdrawal of combat forces.

It may be of interest to learn that the total number of American combat deaths in 76 wars from 1775 to 2015 (including all the dead on both sides during the Civil War) amounts to 846,163. That’s less than the UN-verified total of a million Iraqis, half of whom were young children, who died from 1991 to 2003 due to killer sanctions. This was followed by another million dead Iraqis from the 2003-2011 war.

Compare the U.S. total of combat deaths in World War II (291,557) to the number of Russian combat and civilian deaths (27 million). There were no civilian deaths in the U.S, which has not suffered war damage from foreign invasions since the British War of 1812-15. Most of Russia was flattened east of the Ural Mountains in WWII. In Washington’s 1950-1953 war against North Korea, every city and most towns were destroyed by U.S. carpet bombings. Several millions were killed. The U.S. suffered 33,686 combat deaths.

Militarism, a principal element in U.S. society, thrives on unequal wars where the weapons, technology and communications of the “enemy” are far inferior and where it is impossible for an inch of U.S. territory to experience the footprint of a foreign soldier. Since the Civil War the American people, landscape and infrastructure has been untouched by war.

This is not as good as some think. America is the world’s principal mass killer since the end of WWII but its people are so accustomed to wars that cause them no pain and suffering that they easily support, or are indifferent to, unjust aggression in the name of protecting America. Ironically, there’s hardly any need to protect America, enclosed between two oceans in an impenetrable fortress. But government fear mongering about the nation’s vulnerability is a most useful lie intended to perpetuate Washington’s insistence upon functioning as global overlord and military superpower.

The overwhelming majority of Americans knew absolutely nothing about their own country’s involvement in Vietnam until around 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson began to vastly increase the U.S. troop component, which reached 549,500 mostly conscript personnel in 1968. By then, a vibrant antiwar movement was shaking the White House to the extent that Johnson announced he would not run for re-election. He retired in disgrace for what became a very unpopular war, despite authoring several important domestic achievements.

Richard Nixon, Johnson’s elected replacement, caused many more Vietnamese (and Cambodian) deaths in the name of seeking peace. But by 1973 the antiwar movement, the American people and rebellious U.S. soldiers in the field forced the White House to withdraw all American combat troops from Vietnam. Thousands of U.S. military advisers, CIA agents, and those Washington delegated to basically control the Saigon government and military, remained in the country for two more years. They were obliged to flee in extreme haste as liberation forces closed in and quickly declared victory.

The 1960s and early ’70s were great years of domestic uprisings in the United States against various ills and injustices, from the segregation of African Americans, to the subjugation of women, repressive cultural backwardness, the Vietnam War, the hatred and shunning of LGBT people and other causes.

As the war continued, the majority of the American people began demanding peace. The antiwar movement became extremely large and militant, ultimately contributing strongly to the withdrawal of U.S. troops. By the early 1970s the Hanoi government recognized there were three fronts in the war — the battlefield, the Paris peace talks, and the American people’s antiwar movement. I always bring this up when I’m told that peace demonstrations do no good. When antiwar movements become large, rambunctious, militant and long-lived they can stop a war or at least educate millions of people to oppose the next war.

A number of activists I knew or worked with during this exciting period of the uprising against a devastating imperialist war are still in opposition today. I’m 80 now and never served in the war (except for 1962-63 in prison for opposing the war machine) but the passionate hatred for colonialism and imperialism emanating from that ruthless conflict remains even stronger with me 40 years later, as I’m sure it does for many other opponents of that war who are still active.

As a quite young journalist for a major wire service in New York I was aware of many details of the Vietnam conflict beginning in the 1950s, mainly after the historic French defeat in the battle of Diên Biên Phu in 1954. My years as writer and then the editor of the (U.S.) Guardian radical newsweekly (1963 to 1984) made me feel very much a part of the antiwar struggle because few if any other U.S. independent publications labored as long and hard against the war and for the victory of the Vietnamese people.

Our long-time foreign correspondent Wilfred Burchett wrote weekly articles from the battlefields and liberated areas of Vietnam with coverage that far excelled that of the reporters for major American newspapers, stationed in Saigon or with fighting U.S. units, often pegging their stories on official lies and fictitious body counts and on press conference propaganda from the government. It still happens today, of course, but Vietnam opened millions of eyes to Washington’s imperial perfidy, and the Internet has become a major source of antiwar news and radical analysis if you know where to look.

To the leftist Guardian, along with many on the U.S. left from progressives to communists, the Vietnam War was imperialist in nature. The Guardian wanted the war to end with the defeat of the American aggressor. Other sections of the broad and diverse peace movement objected strenuously to the term “imperialist” and were fearful of publicly supporting the defeat of their own country despite its having launched one of history’s most hideous wars of aggression.

Having been involved in opposing every U.S. war since Korea I have seen the “imperialist” question crop up repeatedly as though it is too radical or leftist instead of what it really is — the truth.

The issue of the Guardian reporting on the April 30 defeat of U.S.-South Vietnamese forces proclaimed in huge type on the front page: “VICTORY IN VIETNAM!” The lead article began: “Vietnam is completely liberated. After 35 years of continuous heroic struggle against Japanese, French and American imperialism, the Vietnamese people from north to south are free and independent.”

I was in Vietnam a few months before victory and was told by a government official of Hanoi’s “deep appreciation for the Guardian’s steadfast opposition to French colonialism and American imperialism, and for its years of efforts on behalf of peace, national liberation and the unification of Vietnam.” This was essentially repeated to me in different words by another official on the 30th anniversary celebration in Ho Chi Minh City.

What remained of the mass U.S. antiwar movement went home when the war ended in 1975. Likewise, most of what was left of the extraordinary period of radical and revolutionary upsurges known as the Sixties ended around

that time as well. This was unfortunate because what largely replaced this people-driven epoch of advances in freedom and progressive militancy has been decades of conservatism and reactionary backlash against the people’s victories of the Sixties.

Today, far right pro-war Republican forces have taken over Congress and the Supreme Court, and they are swiftly gaining control of state governments and using their powers to wreck the union movement, take back the gains of the women’s movement and destroy programs that help the poor. Meanwhile, since there are only two “official” political parties, the only viable alternative within the ruling class-controlled electoral system is now the center-right pro-war Democratic Party, which has proven itself incapable of blocking the reactionary juggernaut, and all too often its conservative sector joins with the opposition, as many House and Senate Democrats are doing today in opposition to the U.S.-Iran talks. They’d rather follow screaming Warlord Bibi than their own president.

Once and all to briefly center left, today’s Democratic Party may be better than the right wing know-nothings, but it is definitely part of the problem, not the solution, and simply cannot be counted upon to function as a buffer against the Tea Party far right, the buffoons in Congress and the war-mongering neoconservatives of both parties who are making a comeback.

Economic and social gains — or any gains for working families — are hardly likely under present circumstances. There has to be a major change away from our imperialist capitalist system that presides over oligarch control of elections, rampant built-in inequality, wage stagnation, police violence, climate change, historic concentrations of wealth in the vaults of fewer than 1% of the people, continuing racism in America and endless imperialist wars. There are better systems, such as socialism, but after 100 years of anti-socialist and anti-communist propaganda the American people have a way to go before that becomes viable.

At this stage, it seems to me, America needs a new Sixties on steroids — a 21st century uprising of mass movements in the streets, meeting halls and cultural events making specific demands on the power structure using whatever tactics are appropriate, including mass civil disobedience, strikes and calculated disruption. And it is about time we realize the absolute need for collective, disciplined leadership. I know there is considerable anti-leadership sentiment in some oppositional movements, such as Occupy when it flourished too briefly, but this has to change before system change ever becomes a reality.

There are those who think significant social change in America is impossible or that the vehicle for change emanates from the ballot box alone. Is it impossible?

In the politically, socially and culturally repressive 1950s — when teachers were fired and writers, actors, unionists and others were blacklisted for harboring progressive ideas, when African Americans suffered under official and unofficial segregation, and when women were still kept “in their place,” who would believe that a “Sixties” was about to emerge?

Who would credit the idea that downtrodden blacks would stand up and risk their lives to confront racist Jim Crow in a couple of years? Who conceived of the possibility that women would stand up and demand their full rights? Who believed that millions of Americans would stand up for years to stop a criminal war? Was there anyone so naïve as to predict LGBT people would stand up, come out proudly, and demand respect? What parents or educators anticipated that many millions of students would stand up against repressive campus and outdated behavioral rules, and then bring the antiwar and radical struggle to the college green and even in some cases blockade their school president’s office. Judging by the 1950s crackdown on left to communist movements, it was not thought reasonable to proclaim that the left would soon stand up and experience a virtual renaissance, gaining members and playing an important role in the fight for peace and justice?”

If a Sixties can emerge from a backward Fifties, why can’t a Twenties emerge from a backward Tens? And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the Thirties and Forties. The key is to work hard now and persistently to bring it about, and to be patient if it takes a long time.

Obviously, social change does not drop from the sky, nor is it a gift from the bourgeoisie. It may not have been noticed by history but very many people and organizations were working hard for peace and social justice in the repressive 1950s. This helped bring about the social uprisings in the next decade. First, the oppressed blacks rebelled magnificently as the 1960s began, paving the way for other groups to rise up and express various pent-up demands for social change, compounded by an unjust criminal war that was draining the blood from America and its conscripted youth, not to mention the victim nation.

The U.S. government may not ever learn the lessons of the Vietnam War, compelled as it is by a socio-economic political system to create a better world first and foremost for the 1%, and empty rhetoric and wars for the rest of us. But I hope the lessons learned from the 1960-1975 era of uprisings for social change are not entirely forgotten but revived, improved and in time put into practice at a much higher and decisive level.

Thanks for listening, to speak. The anniversary of Vietnam’s victory brought all this out.

— The Guardian radical newsweekly attained a paid circulation of 26,000 readers and a pass along readership of at least 100,000 by the 1970s. The entire audience, aside from FBI readers seeking to know what’s happening on the left, opposed the Vietnam War. Several years after I left the paper it suddenly and inexplicably folded in 1992, but the Guardian was there when it was needed most — to tell the truth about the war, to identify it as imperialist, to unequivocally support Vietnam against the aggressor, and to report on and help build the peace movement.

— A 13-page article titled “The Guardian the Goes to War,” is collected in the 2011 book “Insiders Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, part 1,” (Michigan State Univ. Press)

— If you haven’t done so, read “Vo Nguyen Giap: Death of a Giant” in the 10-26-13 Newsletter: http://activistnewsletter.blogspot.com/2013/10/0-0-1-1-11-hudson-valley-activist.html

Jack A. Smith is editor of the Activist Newsletter and is former editor of the (U.S.) Guardian Newsweekly. He may be reached at [email protected]  or http://activistnewsletter.blogspot.com.

International Aid Agencies Call for Sanctions on Israel

April 19th, 2015 by Global Research News

Dozens of aid agencies have called for international sanctions on Israel over its continued illegal blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip and the fact that six months after its deadly and devastating assault, there has been virtually no reconstruction in the territory.

The report, “Charting a New Course: Overcoming the stalemate in Gaza,” signed by 46 international nongovernmental organizations working in Palestine, says that Israel must lift the blockade and allow free movement between the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip or face punitive consequences.

The report’s signatories, including Oxfam, Save the Children, KinderUSA, Medical Aid for Palestinians, The Carter Center, Norwegian People’s Aid and Médecins du Monde Switzerland, also call for a suspension of arms transfers to Israel and revocation of arms export licenses.

The report advocates that “Israel’s illegal policies need to be challenged with practical measures.”

Among the measures the aid agencies propose:

  • Making EU and other international relations with Israel conditional on it meetings its legal obligations, including using the EU-Israel Association Agreement as a form of pressure.
  • Ensuring that companies that violate international law in the occupied West Bank and Gaza do not financially benefit from the reconstruction of Gaza. States should “issue clear guidance to national companies, including state-owned companies and pension and investment funds, to ensure they not only respect international law in their own activities but do not invest in companies involved in violations of international law.”
  • “Where arms and ammunition could be used to commit or facilitate violations of [international humanitarian law], the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which all contributors at the Cairo donor conference have at least signed (if not ratified), obliges state parties to suspend transfers and consider revoking licenses to the parties concerned.”

Read the full report here

More at Electronic Intifada 

Copyright Electronic Intifada, 2015

Monsanto Knew of Glyphosate / Cancer Link 35 Years Ago

April 19th, 2015 by Global Research News

by GM-Free Cymru

According to evidence unearthed from the archives of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the United States, it has been established that Monsanto was fully aware of the potential of glyphosate to cause cancer in mammals as long ago as 1981.

Recently the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a statement in which glyphosate (the main component of Roundup herbicide) was classified as “probably carcinogenic” to humans and as “sufficiently demonstrated” for genotoxicity in animals (1). This announcement of a change to toxicity class 2A was given vast coverage in the global media, causing Monsanto to move immediately into damage limitation mode. The corporation demanded the retraction of the report, although it has not yet been published! Predictably, there was more fury from the industry-led Glyphosate Task Force (2). This Task Force also sponsored a “rebuttal” review article (3) from a team of writers with strong links with the biotechnology industry; but because of the clear bias demonstrated in this paper (which suggests that glyphosate has no carcinogenic potential in humans) it is best ignored until it has been carefully scrutinized by independent researchers (4).

With Monsanto continuing to protest that glyphosate and Roundup are effectively harmless (5) if used according to instructions, in spite of accumulating evidence to the contrary, we undertook a search through Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) records with a view to finding out what was known about glyphosate at the time of its initial registration. This followed up earlier investigations by Sustainable Pulse which highlighted a sudden change in the EPA view on toxicity in 1991. What was discovered was very revealing. There were many animal experiments (using rats, mice and dogs) designed to test the acute and chronic toxicity of glyphosate in the period 1978-1986, conducted by laboratories such as Bio/dynamics Inc for Monsanto and submitted for EPA consideration. Two of these reports relate to a three-generation reproduction study in rats (6) (7), and another is called “A Lifetime Feeding Study Of Glyphosate In Rats” (8); but like all the other older studies they were and still are treated as Trade Secrets and cannot be freely accessed for independent scrutiny. That in itself is suggestive that the studies contain data which Monsanto still does not wish to be examined by experts in the toxicology field. It is also deeply worrying that EPA acceded to the routine Monsanto requests for secrecy on the flimsiest of pretexts.

However, archived and accessible EPA Memos from the early 1980′s do give some indications as to what the rat studies contain (9). Although the studies predate the adoption of international test guidelines and GLP standards they suggest that there was significant damage to the kidneys of the rats in the 3-generational study — the incidence of tubular dilation in the kidney was higher in every treated group of rats when compared to controls. Tubular dilation and nephrosis was also accompanied by interstitial fibrosis in all test groups and in some of the lumens the researchers found amorphous material and cellular debris. Less than a third of the control rats showed signs of tubular dilation. In the rat study results, the changes in the bladder mucosa are significant because metabolites, concentrated by the kidneys, have led to hyperplasia that could be considered as a very early and necessary step in tumour initiation.

EPA was worried in 1981 that these indications were sinister, and at first declined to issue a NOEL (no observed adverse effect level) — it asked for further information and additional research. In its 1982 Addendum, Monsanto presented evidence that minimised the effects and confused the data — and on that basis EPA accepted that glyphosate was unlikely to be dangerous.

But Monsanto knew that scrutiny of the data in the studies would potentially threaten its commercial ambitions, and so it asked for the research documents concerned to be withheld and treated as Trade Secrets. So there was no effective independent scrutiny. Monsanto and EPA connived in keeping these documents away from unbiased expert assessment, in spite of the evidence of harm. (It is clear that EPA was thinking about carcinogenic effects — it knew in 1981 that glyphosate caused tumorigenic growth and kidney disease but dismissed the finding as “a mystery” in order to set the NOEL for the chemical and bring it to market.)

In the rat studies, the glyphosate doses fed to the test groups were 1/100 of those used in a later mouse study (9). It is unclear why these very small doses were decided upon by Monsanto and accepted by EPA, since there must be a suspicion that the studies were manipulated or designed to avoid signs of organ damage. In its 1986 Memo, EPA remarked on the very low doses, and said that no dose tested was anywhere near the “maximally tolerated dose.” Then the Oncogenicity Peer Review Committee said: “At doses close to an MTD, tumours might have been induced.” A repeat rat study was asked for. However, BioDynamics (which conducted the research for Monsanto) used data from three unrelated studies, which they conducted in house, as historical controls to create “experimental noise” and to diminish the importance of the results obtained by experiment.

In a 1983 mouse study conducted by Bio/dynamics Inc for Monsanto (10), there was a slight increase in the incidence of renal tubular adenomas (benign tumours) in males at the highest dose tested. Malignant tumours were found in the higher dose group. However, “it was the judgment of two reviewing pathologists that the renal tumors were not treatment-related”. Other effects included centrilobular hypertrophy and necrosis of hepatocytes, chronic interstitial nephritis, and proximal tubule epithelial cell basophilia and hypertrophy in females. The EPA committee determined there was a “weak oncogenic response” — so evidence was suggestive of early malignancy. The EPA Science Advisory Panel was asked for advice, and they said the data were equivocal and called for further studies in mice and rats. A further report was delivered in 1985. Part of the reason for this dithering was the prevalent but false EPA belief that all physiological effects had to be dose-related: namely, the higher the dose, the greater the effect.

Even though pre-cancerous conditions were imperfectly understood 35 years ago, and cortical adenomas in kidney were not thought dangerous at the time, the evidence from the Memos is that Monsanto, BioDynamics Inc and the EPA Committees involved were fully aware, probably before 1981, of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate when fed to mammals. In the Memos there are references to many more “secret” animal experiments and data reviews, which simply served to confuse the regulators with additional conflicting data. Thus EPA publicly accepted the safety assurances of the Monsanto Chief of Product Safety, Robert W. Street, and the status of the product was confirmed for use in the field (11). But behind the scenes, according to a later EPA memo (in 1991), its own experts knew before 1985 that glyphosate causes pancreatic, thyroid and kidney tumors.

On the EPA website (last updated 31.10.2014) reference is made to five Monsanto studies of 1980 – 1985, and it is noteworthy that these studies have not been made public in the light of current knowledge about malignant tumours and pre-cancerous conditions (12). Neither have they been revisited or reinterpreted by Monsanto and EPA, although one 1981 rat study and one 1983 mouse study are mentioned in the recent review by Greim et al (2015) (3). Following the conclusion that glyphosate was “not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity” nothing in the EPA advice about this chemical has changed since 1990. Given the recent assessment by the WHO Panel, and given the flood of scientific papers relating to health damage associated with glyphosate (13) the EPA attitude smacks of complacency and even incompetence.

Speaking for GM-Free Cymru, Dr Brian John says:

“The evidence shows that by 1981 both Monsanto and the EPA were aware of malignant tumours and pre-cancerous conditions in the test animals which were fed small doses of glyphosate in the secret feeding experiments. Although concerns were expressed at the time by EPA committees, these concerns were later suppressed under the weight of conflicting evidence brought forward by Monsanto, some of it involving the inappropriate use of historical control data of dubious quality. None of these studies is available for independent examination (14). That is a scandal in itself. There has been a protracted and cynical cover-up in this matter (15). Glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”, as now confirmed by the WHO Working Group, and no matter what protestations may now come from Monsanto and the EPA, they have been fully aware of its potential to cause cancer for at least 35 years. If they had acted in a precautionary fashion back then, instead of turning a blind eye to scientific malpractice (16), glyphosate would never have been licensed, and thousands of lives might have been saved.”

Retired Academic Pathologist Dr Stanley Ewen says:

“Glyphosate has been implicated in human carcinogenesis by IARC and it is remarkable that, as early as 1981, glyphosate was noted to be associated with pre neoplastic changes in experimental mice. This finding was never revealed by the regulatory process and one might therefore expect to see human malignancy increasing on the record in the ensuing years. John Little (personal communication) has demonstrated an unexpected and alarming 56% upsurge in malignancy in England in those under 65 in the past 10 years. Presumably British urinary excretion of glyphosate is similar to the documented urine levels in Germany, and therefore everyone is at risk. The effect of glyphosate on endocrine tissue such as breast and prostate, or even placenta, is disruptive at least and an increased incidence of endocrine neoplasia is likely to be seen in National Statistics. The Glyphosate Task Force denies the involvement of glyphosate in human malignancy despite their knowledge of many reports of lymphomas and pituitary adenomas in experimental animals dosed with glyphosate. On the other hand, Prof. Don Huber at a recent meeting in the Palace of Westminster, has warned of severe consequences if rampant glyphosate consumption is not reined in. I feel sure that the suppression of the experimental results of 1981 has enhanced the global risk of malignancy.”

Toxico-pathologist Professor Vyvyan Howard says:

“The drive towards transparency in the testing of pharmaceuticals is gathering pace with legislation in the EU, USA and Canada being developed. All trials for licensed drugs will likely have to become available in the public domain. In my opinion the case with agrochemicals should be no different. At least with pharmaceuticals exposure is voluntary and under informed consent. There are several biomonitoring studies which demonstrate that there is widespread exposure of human populations to glyphosate, presumably without informed consent. Given the clear level of mistrust over the licensing of this herbicide and the emerging epidemiological evidence of its negative effects there can, in my opinion, be no case whatsoever for keeping the toxicological studies, used to justify licencing, a secret. They should be put in the public domain.”

Research scientist Dr Anthony Samsel says:

“Monsanto’s Trade Secret studies of glyphosate show significant incidence of cell tumors of the testes and tumorigenic growth in multiple organs and tissues. They also show significant interstitial fibrosis of the kidney including effects in particular to the Pituitary gland, mammary glands, liver, and skin. Glyphosate has significant effects to the lungs indicative of chronic respiratory disease. Glyphosate has an inverse dose response relationship, and it appears that its effects are highly pH dependent. Both Monsanto and the EPA knew of the deleterious effects of this chemical in 1980 at the conclusion of their multiple long-term assessments, but the EPA hid the results of their findings as “trade secrets.” Monsanto has been lying and covering up the truth about glyphosate’s harmful effects on public health and the environment for decades. The increases in multiple chronic diseases, seen since its introduction into the food supply, continue to rise in step with its use. Monsanto’s Roundup glyphosate based herbicides have a ubiquitous presence as residues in the food supply directly associated with its crop use. Nations must stand together against Monsanto and other chemical companies who continue to destroy the biosphere. We are all part of that biosphere and we are all connected. What affects one affects us all.”

Notes:

(1)  Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate (2015)
Kathryn Z Guyton, Dana Loomis, Yann Grosse, Fatiha El Ghissassi, Lamia Benbrahim-Tallaa, Neela Guha, Chiara Scoccianti, Heidi Mattock, Kurt Straif,  on behalf of the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group, IARC, Lyon, France
Lancet Oncol 2015.  Published Online March 20, 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S1470-2045(15)70134-8
International Agency for Research on Cancer 16 Volume 112: Some organophosphate insecticides and herbicides: tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon and glyphosate. IARC Working Group. Lyon; 3–10 March 2015. IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risk Chem Hum (in press).

(2)  Monsanto seeks retraction for report linking herbicide to cancer
By Carey Gillam, Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/24/us-monsanto-herbicide-idUSKBN0MK2GF20150324
The response by the pesticide industry association, the Glyphosate Task Force, is here:
http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/28574811/statement-of-the-gtf-on-the-recent-iarc-decision-concerning-glyphosate

(3)  Helmut Greim, David Saltmiras, Volker Mostert, and Christian Strupp (2015)  REVIEW ARTICLE:  Evaluation of carcinogenic potential of the herbicide glyphosate, drawing on tumor incidence data from fourteen chronic/carcinogenicity rodent studies. Crit Rev Toxicol, 2015; Early Online: 1–24  DOI: 10.3109/10408444.2014.1003423

(4)  Not only is this paper written by authors who have strong industry links, but the 14 carcinogenicity studies assessed are carefully selected industry studies which have not been peer-reviewed and published in mainstream scientific journals.  All of the studies were conducted for clients (like Monsanto) who would have experienced gigantic commercial repercussions if anything “inconvenient” had been reported upon, with glyphosate already in use across the world.  Therefore the possibility of fraud and data manipulation cannot be ruled out.  The 14 studies are all secret, and cannot be examined by independent toxicology experts.  The fact that the review article in question reproduces (as online supplementary material) a series of tables and data sets is immaterial, since the data are useless in the absence of clear explanations of the laboratory protocols and practices of the research teams involved.

(5)  http://www.monsanto.com/glyphosate/pages/is-glyphosate-safe.aspx

(6)  “A Three-Generation Reproduction Study in Rats with Glyphosate” (Final Report; Bio/dynamics Project No. 77-2063; March 31, 1981)  — submitted by Monsanto to EPA

(7)  “Addendum to Pathology Report for a Three-Generation Reproduction Study in Rats with Glyphosate.  R.D. #374; Special Report MSL-1724; July 6, 1982″ EPA Registration No 524-308, Action Code 401. Accession No 247793.  CASWELL#661A” — submitted by Monsanto to EPA

(8)  “A Lifetime Feeding Study Of Glyphosate In Rats”  (Report by GR Lankas and GK Hogan from Bio/dynamics for Monsanto.  Project #77-2062, 1981:  MRID 00093879) — submitted by Monsanto to EPA
and Addendum Report  #77-2063

(9)  Archived EPA memos from 1982 and 1986:
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/chemicalsearch/chemical/foia/cleared-reviews/reviews/103601/103601-135.pdf
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/chemicalsearch/chemical/foia/cleared-reviews/reviews/103601/103601-210.pdf
The 1991 EPA Memo is accessible via:
http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/03/26/who-glyphosate-report-ends-thirty-year-cancer-cover-up/#.VSVPZ2Z3bJk

(10)  Knezevich, AL and Hogan, GK (1983) “A Chronic Feeding study of Glyphosate (Roundup Technical) in Mice”.  Project No 77-2061. Bio/dynamics Inc for Monsanto.  Accession No #251007-251014  — document not available but cited in EPA 1986 Memo.
Follow-up study:  McConnel, R. “A chronic feeding study of glyphosate (Roundup technical) in mice: pathology report on additional kidney sections”. Unpublished project no. 77-2061A, 1985, submitted to EPA by BioDynamics, Inc.

(11)  Glyphosate was first registered for use by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) in 1974, and after various reviews reregistration was completed in 1993.
Glyphosate (CASRN 1071-83-6)
Classification — D (not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity)
Basis — Inadequate evidence for oncogenicity in animals. Glyphosate was originally classified as C, possible human carcinogen, on the basis of increased incidence of renal tumors in mice. Following independent review of the slides the classification was changed to D on the basis of a lack of statistical significance and uncertainty as to a treatment-related effect.
http://www.epa.gov/iris/subst/0057.htm
http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/03/26/who-glyphosate-report-ends-thirty-year-cancer-cover-up/
npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphotech.pdf

(12)  Monsanto Company. 1981a. MRID No. 0081674, 00105995. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1981b. MRID No. 00093879. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1985. MRID No. 00153374. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1980a. MRID No. 00046362. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1980b. MRID No. 00046363. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.

(13)  http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Scandal_of_Glyphosate_Reassessment_in_Europe.php
http://permaculturenews.org/2012/11/01/why-glyphosate-should-be-banned-a-review-of-its-hazards-to-health-and-the-environment/
Key studies showing toxic effects of glyphosate and Roundup.  Ch 4 in GMO Myths and Truths
http://earthopensource.org/earth-open-source-reports/gmo-myths-and-truths-2nd-edition/
Antoniou, M. et al. Teratogenic Effects of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides: Divergence of Regulatory Decisions from Scientific Evidence J Environ Anal Toxicol 2012, S:4
http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2161-0525.S4-006
http://www.earthopensource.org/files/pdfs/Roundup-and-birth-defects/RoundupandBirthDefectsv5.pdf

(14)  That having been said, Monsanto has allowed access to selected later reports to selected researchers (Greim et al, 2015).  It is still uncertain whether these selected reports are available in full, for detailed independent scrutiny — even though there can now be no possible justification for “trade secret” designation, following the lapse of the US glyphosate patent in 2000.

(15)  http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/03/26/who-glyphosate-report-ends-thirty-year-cancer-cover-up/
In 1985 the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate was first considered by an EPA panel, called the Toxicology Branch Ad Hoc Committee. The Committee then classified glyphosate as a Class C Carcinogen on the basis of its carcinogenic potential.  This classification was changed by the EPA in 1991 to a Class E category on the basis of “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans”.  Mysteriously this change in glyphosate’s classification occurred during the same period that Monsanto was developing its first Roundup-Ready (glyphosate-resistant) GM Crops.  Not for the first time, commercial considerations were allowed to trump public health concerns.
The EPA scale of cancer-forming potential of substances:
Group A: Carcinogenic to humans
Group B: Likely to be carcinogenic to humans
Group C: Suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential
Group D: Inadequate information to assess carcinogenic potential
Group E: Not likely to be carcinogenic to humans

(16)  Wikipedia 2012:  Internal EPA Memos Document Fraud 1983 EPA Scientist on EPA’s public stance: “Our viewpoint is one of protecting the public health when we see suspicious data.” Unfortunately, EPA has not taken that conservative viewpoint in its assessment of glyphosate’s cancer causing potential.”
“There are no studies available to NCAP evaluating the carcinogenicity of Roundup or other glyphosate-containing products.  Without such tests, the carcinogenicity of glyphosate-containing products is unknown.”
“Tests done on glyphosate to meet registration requirements have been associated with fraudulent practices.”
“Countless deaths of rats & mice are not reported.”
“Data tables have been fabricated”
“There is a routine falsification of data”

Copyright GM-Free Cymru 2015

“I call now the most perilous time in world history for good reason. I was never scared during the Cold War. For the first time in my life I am now. -Stephen Lendman

WELCOME NEW AFFILIATE CFUV 101.9 FM in Victoria!

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Clear and Present Danger

Multiple crises are breaking out around the globe.

Former President George W Bush earned a reputation as a war-monger following his administration’s ruthless prosecution of the so-called “War on Terrorism.” Campaigns centred principally around Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands including thousands of US military service personnel.

Since Barrack Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency however, we have seen the outbreak of a civil war in Syria, the violent overthrow of long-time Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, drone attacks in Pakistan, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and the Ukraine crisis, all of which have been fostered by the United States, as is documented throughout this website.

Political and media messaging in the West has been riddled with double-standards. For example, the US government has condemned the Venezuelan government’s crackdowns on demonstrators in Venezuela while assisting the undemocratic government of Bahrain in its far more violent and widespread crackdowns against protests there. [1] [2]

Significantly, over the last year we have witnessed the demonization of Russia and its President Vladmir Putin crescendo to levels unheard of since the stand-offs of the Cold War era.

Most disturbingly, the Obama administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) gives clearance to the US government to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against Russia, Iran and other nuclear-armed powers that they deem in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. [3] [4] Further, as reported by the New York Times last September, the Obama Administration announced plans to spend more than $1 trillion over the next three decades significantly upgrading its nuclear weapons capability. [5]

This week on the Global Research News Hour, we discuss these and other alarming developments with a seasoned observer of political developments on the national and international stage.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He is a Harvard Graduate and received an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Following a devoted career as a market research analyst for his family owned business, he started writing on major national and international issues in 2005 and soon started hosting the first incarnation of the Global Research News Hour in 2007.

He now hosts The Progressive Radio News Hour, which airs three times a week on the Progressive Radio Network. He is the author of the SteveLendmanBlog, and has produced several books including a new compilation of articles dedicated to the Ukraine crisis which he edited. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient. 

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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:

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Notes:

1) http://www.globalresearch.ca/bahrain-how-the-us-mainstream-media-turn-a-blind-eye-to-washington-s-despotic-arab-ally/30176

2)Preethi Nallu (Sept. 13, 2014), Al Jazeera, “Q&A: Bahrain rights defender Maryam Khawaja”; http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/09/bahrain-rights-activist-maryam-khawaja-201491292320423259.html

3)  Michel Chussodovsky (2012), p. 30, Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War

4) https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/09/23/nucl-s23.html

5) ibid

US Combat Troops Prepare Ukraine for Escalated Aggression

April 18th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Obama wants Donbass democracy crushed. He’s preparing his fascist allies (overt Nazis) for escalated naked aggression.

He’s arming them with heavy weapons. He deployed US combat troops to prepare them for battle.

He’s doing it while Kiev systematically breaches Minsk ceasefire terms. Low-level conflict continues daily – heading toward resumed full-scale war at Obama’s discretion.

About 300 US paratroopers arrived in Ukraine on top of hundreds of other US special forces and combat troops already there.

They’ll train and perhaps directly participate with Ukrainian forces in battle – covertly or openly. Maybe aided by US-led NATO air power. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented, saying:

“The participation of instructors and specialists from third countries in Ukraine, where an unregulated internal Ukrainian conflict remains, where there is a situation with the southeast, where there are problems in fulfilling the points from the action plan of the Minsk agreements, and finally, the existence of instructors, specialists or military personnel from third countries by far will not help in the settlement of the conflict or by far won’t help create an atmosphere for the successful fulfillment of the (Minsk) agreements, but just the opposite, is capable of seriously destabilizing the situation.”

At least 900 US combat troops (trained killers) will work directly with Ukrainian National Guard units infested with overt Nazis.

Last month, Britain sent scores of its own special forces to do the same thing. Canada intends sending at least 200 of its own. Australia may do so. Perhaps other countries.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry criticized Ukrainian foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin’s comments. He said Kiev won’t dialogue responsibly with Donbass officials.

It will only deal with representatives elected according to fascist Ukrainian law – granting no democratic rights whatever.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry called his remarks “further evidence of Ukraine’s unconstructive stance, which contradicts the provisions of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements…”

They stipulate that “questions related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk region.”

Klimkin said Kiev won’t “comply with the provisions on amnesty, which are clearly” established by agreed on Minsk terms.

“Ukraine is again attempting to condition the implementation of the Minsk Agreements on a peacekeeping operation, which is not even mentioned in the Agreements.”

“Kiev’s stubborn attempts to drag out the settlement by burdening it with ever new elements and conditions can only indicate its unwillingness to honour its commitments.”

They reject a “lasting solution to the Ukrainian crisis…(It’s) impossible without a direct dialogue between Kiev and Donetsk and Lugansk representatives and without a responsible attitude towards the commitments.”

Klimkin irresponsibly claims Kiev has “the right to control the activity of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, because (it) suspects its observers of probable delivering intelligence data about the deployment sites of the Ukrainian armed forces to Donetsk and Lugansk representatives.”

“By making these statements, the Ukrainian authorities are not only trying to undermine the SMM’s credibility, but are also creating a direct threat to the lives of observers in the conflict area.”

“Kiev’s defiant attitude towards the representatives of a key agency that is fully authorised to monitor the situation in southeast Ukraine, is side-tracking the settlement process.”

It’s clear. Kiev wants war, not peace. It’s just a matter of time before it resumes full-scale.

During his annual marathon Q & A session, Vladimir Putin commented on Ukraine and related issues.

He called Russian war with Ukraine “impossible.” He expressed concern about Kiev’s responsibility for numerous political assassinations.

“In Ukraine, which aspires to be a democratic country and seeks membership in a democratic Europe (no thorough investigations of these crimes) happen(ed),” he said.

“Where are the killers of all those people? There appear to be none.”

“No killers, no people who hired them. And in Europe and North America they prefer not to notice that.”

Despite vicious/irresponsible Western propaganda, Putin stressed Russia has no revanchist aims.

“We do not intend to rebuild an empire, despite what they are accusing us of,” he said.

“We have no imperial ambition. But providing a decent living to people, including Russians living abroad in countries close to us, that we can do by developing cooperation with them…”

“We don’t really care if a Russian is living in this or that territory behind the border, as long as he can visit his relatives freely, his living standards improve, he feels himself a person of full value, his rights are not violated, and no one forbids him to speak his language.”

He called pressuring Russia with sanctions and other measures “useless and senseless.”

“I think our partners will soon realize this and will at least try to seek compromise instead of trying to fit us into the stereotypes they consider right.”

He criticized Washington saying “(b)ig superpowers pretend to be exceptional and consider themselves the only center of power in the world do not need allies.”

“They need vassals. I’m talking about the United States. Russia cannot exist in such a system of relation,” he stressed.

America wants “to impose (its will) on virtually the entire world,” he explained. It’ll fail like all other imperial powers earlier, he said.

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.

How a $15 Minimum an Hour Wage Helps All Workers

April 18th, 2015 by Shamus Cooke

Giant corporations and the wealthy are naturally united in their hatred of the $15 minimum wage. Surprising, however, is the strong opposition sometimes encountered by workers who make barely above $15 an hour.

The anti-$15 logic of these workers varies. Some simply repeat the misinformation they hear on the media, that a higher minimum wage would cause mass inflation and unemployment, regardless of the fact that, according to the U.S. Department of Labor there is no evidence to support these claims.

Some workers against $15 say such an increase isn’t fair, since they haven’t had a raise in years and have worked hard to get what little they have. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly untrue that people “get ahead” when they work hard. The economy has fundamentally shifted in the last 30 years to the point where the average fast food worker is now 29 years old.

Opportunities to earn a living wage have shrunk exponentially.  According to a recent study 43 percent of the U.S. workforce earns under $15 an hour. There are simply not enough high wage jobs to leap into; the leaping is now going in the opposite direction.

Regardless of their reasoning, the anti-$15 workers are arguing against their own best interest, since a $15 minimum wage would benefit the overwhelming majority of people who make over $15 an hour. This is because a $15 minimum wage would transform the labor market in favor of all working people.

Economists have even given a term for this phenomenon, called “compression,” which describes the effects of how rising lower wages puts pressure on employers to raise wages for higher paid workers, marking a shift in the labor market.

Even if an employer doesn’t give into the pressure of the labor market and raise wages immediately, a $15 minimum wage would give workers making over $15 enormous leverage to demand such a raise, since they could easily prove by market comparisons that they’re being underpaid. Feeling empowered to make demands is the first step towards achieving them.

The labor market works a lot like other commodity markets, and is affected by supply and demand (for example unemployment) as well as regulation (like the minimum wage). Of course, the labor market is different in that humans can demand higher prices for themselves, where widgets can’t.

A higher minimum wage drives all wages higher in the same way a low minimum wage drives wages lower. For example, when one company lowers wages, other companies often follow suit. If a couple of large companies lower wages at once, the market begins to shift, since workers have less opportunities to find higher wages elsewhere.

The workers either fight to maintain their wages usually by forming a union or succumb to their new, lower wages, which quickly form a new equilibrium for the labor market in that industry, affecting other industries indirectly. No workers’ wages are safe if they are surrounded by low wage workers; islands of high wage workers are always targeted in such an environment. It’s only a matter of time.

In the same way that corporations are constantly striving to lower wages, it’s the job of unions to raise them. It was not the good grace of the corporations after World War II that created a U.S. working class able to purchase cars and homes, but a strong union movement that raised the price of wages to such an extent that the market was altered in favor of all working people, union and non-union alike, since employers had to raise their wages to compete for workers who would otherwise have gone to work for the unionized company.

But the post-World War II wages were smashed by the Reagan administration that sought to re-align the labor market in favor of the employers. Reagan knew that by attacking unions he would be able to lower the wages of all workers, and this attack on unions has continued ever since, creating massive income inequality in the process, regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans are governing.

The wealthy often argue that a $15 minimum wage would cause harm to workers by ruining small businesses and causing layoffs. Again, there has been much study and little evidence that raising the minimum wage causes unemployment. This isn’t to say that all businesses would flourish under a $15 minimum wage. It’s true that some small businesses would fail, but it’s also true that others would flourish with new customers, expanding and hiring in the process.

Some entrepreneurs will capitalize on a $15 minimum wage, in the same way that some businesses thrived, like Google and other companies, when regulations were placed on Microsoft to curb its monopoly power.

When the economy is stagnant due to monopoly control or because consumers are too broke to afford to consume new regulations, like breaking up monopolies or a $15 minimum wage, can reinvigorate the economy.

The U.S. economy is constituted by 70 percent consumer spending. Raising the national minimum wage would inject as much as $450 billion in the U.S. economy each year, money that entrepreneurs would have the opportunity to chase after.

A $15 minimum wage would also save taxpayers an estimated $153 billion a year, according to a study by the University of California, Berkeley. This is because companies that pay low wages force workers to get food stamps and other benefits to help offset their low wages

Corporations always scream economic Armageddon every time they are threatened with a new tax or regulation. But taxes on the wealthy were 90 percent under several presidents and were only substantially lowered once Reagan came into office. The corporations are screaming because their profits are affected, not because the economy as a whole is in danger.

The economic arguments in favor of a $15 minimum wage pale in comparison to the human arguments. No one deserves to live in poverty. The last 30 years have drastically skewed labor relations in favor of the employer, lowering workers wages, health care, pensions, and job protections in the process, creating massive poverty and economic uncertainty. This dynamic is now considered “normal,” where 30 years ago it was considered a radical anti-worker ideology.

A $15 minimum wage is the quickest, most direct route to empower working people, and directly intervene into the labor market on the side of the workers. We cannot allow people to say that $15 is too much, when the focus should be on how ridiculous the current minimum wage is.

Unions and community groups have the power to achieve a $15 minimum wage if they prioritize their resources and work collectively. Half of the states have voter initiative measures, a process that could begin immediately.

If unions want to prove themselves relevant to non-union workers, they have no better opportunity than the “Fight for $15.” By winning $15 for everyone, unions will be less vulnerable to the rhetoric of the “overpaid” union worker, since lower wage workers will see a boost in their pay due to the work of a union-led campaign. There’s no reason to settle for less than $15.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at [email protected]

In 2011, Hilary Clinton announced the US was at war. She wasn’t referring to the US’s ongoing invasions, wars and occupations but an ideological war for hearts and minds. Clinton lamented the fact that, since the end of the cold war, US global ideological influence had weakened, especially with the advent of the Internet and TV channels like RT.

Of course, Hollywood still manages to propagate the ‘great American myth’ globally every day: the US as the beacon of freedom, as the flagship of democratic ideals, based on the great ‘American Lie’ of the great ‘American Dream’ whereby the individual can somehow miraculously overcome adversity and make it in life, just as long as s/he keeps his or her nose to the grind. US mass culture exported across the globe. The ‘anyone can make it’ syndrome sugar coated with a sprinkling of ‘freedom and democracy’ then rammed down the collective throat by Hollywood, which magics away into thin air the reality of capitalism and its deeply embedded structural power relations. As the commentator and comedian George Carlin once stated: “The American Dream, you have to be asleep to believe it.”

And let’s not forget Hollywood’s retelling of history with Uncle Sam the movie star, the liberator of the oppressed, the protector of universal good, the sweeper of its mass terror and atrocities away from the screen and conveniently under the carpet.

The internet, Press TV, RT and the ‘alternative media’ in all its forms have however eaten into Washington’s Hollywoodesque version of reality and propaganda. Despite the ownership of the corporate media becoming ever more concentrated in the hands of massive conglomerates and it promoting a common news agenda, the US has had to face up to the harsh truth that it cannot dominate the debate to the extent it once did when it comes to shaping the analysis and reporting of news through its compliant media outlets.

Around the time Clinton was voicing her concerns, Edward Snowden was revealing what many of us had already strongly suspected – people across the world and foreign governments were being monitored by the US government. Before Snowden became public enemy number one, Julian Assange carried that mantle. The US state-corporate machine did almost everything in its power to destroy Assange and WikiLeaks. Most debilitating of all was the shutting down of WikiLeaks’ access to finance, notably via PayPal, MasterCard, the Swiss bank PostFinance, Moneybookers, Bank of America and Visa Inc.

Bank of America was accused of being especially strident in attempting to discredit and destroy WikiLeaks with various dirty tricks, including backing a smear campaign that involved the use of false documents, disinformation, and sabotage. These actions along with demands that Snowden be ‘handed over’ by the countries the US has been caught red handed of spying on, came as little surprise. The US deems it fit to break international laws with impunity, yet bleats about legalities where Snowden or Assange is concerned.

But things are not always so straightforward. Not everyone can be banished to a foreign country or incarcerated in an embassy in London. As a result, former CIA boss General Petraeus is on record as saying US strategy is to conduct a war of perceptions continuously through the news media. We don’t have to imagine much that the prevailing view of world conveyed through the mainstream media and swallowed by many people is based on ‘a pack of lies’ carefully crafted by men like Petraeus and the State Department’s PR machine. British MP George Galloway’s powerful performance in front of a US Senate committee in 2005 highlighted it as such in the case of the invasion of Iraq.

These days, despite state-corporate control and manipulation of the mainstream media, many see through the charade of ‘liberal democracy’. The more the US lacks control over ‘the message’, the more it has to resort restrictions on freedoms. The more paranoid it becomes, the more penetrating and widespread the surveillance and ‘information gathering’ is.

So it was quite revealing to see this week the US House of Foreign Affairs Committee discussing Russia’s ‘weaponisation’ of information. Chairperson Ed Royce claimed that RT is part of a Russian disinformation campaign and asserted that if certain things are repeated over and over again, a conspiratorial theory begins to take on a life of its own.

The hypocrisy was palpable.

The US should know about such things. given its demonisation of Russia and the construction of a narrative of ‘Russian aggression’ in Ukraine that has been on continuous loop and churned out by the corporate media for quite some time now. This story of course has no basis in reality and is intended to mask a wider imperialist agenda to destabilise Russia.

Royce said that RT provides a platform for fringe and radical views worldwide and most broadcasters would not entertain people with such views. While it is correct to say that RT has a pro-Kremlin agenda, virtually all Western corporate media outlets adhere to a broadly defined economic and military ‘Washington consensus’. Where Western outlets see little wrong with wheeling out pro-big business commentators and representatives from powerful thinks for their opinions, little opportunity is provided for trade unionists, the non-mainstream left or any other voices that offer radical critiques of the status to offer their views.

RT has a range of commentators and analysts, including Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Pepe Escobar, Max Keiser, Paul Craig Roberts, William F Engdahl and Manuel Ochsenreiter, who tend to rarely appear on Western corporate mainstream media outlets. While some may not agree with their views or analyses, such people are academically well-qualified and recognised by many as being specialists in their fields. It is too convenient for them to be brushed aside with the ‘deranged conspiracy theorist’ accusation.

These commentators are highly critical of US-Western foreign policies but that does not mean they necessarily support Putin or Russia, as former RT presenter Liz Whal seemed to imply during the committee hearing. If certain commentators are regarded as “fringe” figures or “extremists” as Whal suggested, they are only regarded as such because their views challenge the pro-Washington narrative conveyed by the Western corporate media and thus tend to be side-lined. She argued these ‘alternative’ voices now have platforms to voice their “deranged views” and whip up anti-US sentiment.

Royce claimed Russia’s propaganda machine is currently in overdrive and that part of the focus is to undermine “democratic stability” and foment violence. He went on to state that these tactics have helped stoke the situation in Ukraine and are laying the groundwork for a Russian invasion and asserted that this propaganda has the potential to destabilise NATO members.

Another contributor to the proceedings argued that “our” global order is a “reality based order” and that the likes of RT and the internet makes “reality based politics” impossible.

Washington wishes it had the monopoly on truth but it doesn’t. And the reality is that the US regards views that criticise it as intolerable. But while the internet can at times be a vehicle for churning out some ludicrous views (and in this respect Whal is correct), what could be more sinister than what the mainstream media churns out on a daily basis with its acceptance of and justifications for austerity, gross inequalities, the massive concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, secretive corporate-constructed trade deals, wars of aggression, a bogus war on terror and the rest of the stories designed to beat working people and opponents of Washington’s hegemony into submission?

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to appreciate that the terms “reality based global order” and “democratic stability” are cynical euphemisms designed to conceal a completely different reality of imposed chaos and disorder around the world. Supporters of this reality are committed to misinforming the public, creating regional destabilisations and bending nations to Washington’s will.

https://twitter.com/colin_todhunter

US combat troops are working with Ukrainian forces. NATO planes arrive regularly carrying heavy weapons, munitions and other war supplies. Sputnik News explained the toll so far after one year of conflict.

UN figures claim 6,072 killed – another 15,345 wounded. Independent sources report much higher figures – multiples more than conservative estimates.

Perhaps 100,000 or more have been killed or wounded – many maimed for life.

The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) estimates 1.5 million internally or externally displaced refugees.

OSCE officials report seven journalists killed, another 170 injured. These are conservative figures. More accurate ones are likely higher.

Donbass is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists. Kiev forces openly target them. Other times, they’re arrested, detained and tortured. Some die in captivity.

In Donetsk, an estimated 9,464 facilities and other structures were destroyed – including:

  • 5,302 residential buildings;
  • 53 hospitals and other medical facilities;
  • 250 schools and pre-schools;
  • 13 colleges and universities;
  • 17 sports venues;
  • 32 cultural institutions;
  • 88 commercial enterprises;
  • 56 industrial facilities;
  • 605 power lines and distribution facilities;
  • 148 heat supply facilities;
  • 30 water supply facilities;
  • 2,669 gas supply facilities;
  • 53 road and transport infrastructure elements;
  • Donetsk airport – turned to rubble; and
  • the Saur-Monila memorial complex – entirely destroyed.

In Lugansk, an estimated 8,500 facilities and other structures were destroyed – including:

  • 7,899 residential buildings;
  • 65 hospitals, clinics and laboratories;
  • 3 gas distribution stations;
  • 33 heat supply facilities;
  • 43 water supply facilities;
  • 37 government buildings;
  • 97 schools and pre-schools;
  • 68 cultural institutions; and
  • 77 churches.

Billions of dollars are needed to restore what’s lost.  All the above devastation was non-military related. Even in legitimate wars, international law strictly forbids targeting civilians and non-military related sites. Doing so constitutes war crimes. Waging naked aggression is the supreme high crime against peace.

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.