Workers May Simply Be Giving Up

Zero Hedge notes that the number of Americans in the labor force has dropped to 1978 levels:

The civilian labor force … dropped from 155.3 million to 154.9 million, which means the labor participation rate just dropped to a fresh 35 year low, hitting levels not seen since 1978, at 62.8% down from 63.0%.

And the piece de resistance: Americans not in the labor force exploded higher by 535,000 to a new all time high 91.8 million.

What’s causing the crash in labor participation?

Initially, the number of women not in the labor force climbed to a new high.  This is significant because the labor force skyrocketed in the 1960s when feminism encouraged women to work outside of the home:

As the Washington post notes in a fantastic roundup on unemployment:

The Urban Institute notes [that] what’s happening is that workers aren’t entering the labor force at the same rates they used to. That’s especially true for women, who are much less likely to enter the labor force today than they were in 2002 and 2003. Many of them, the paper notes, appear to be enrolling in school instead or deciding to start families.

An aging U.S. demographic may also play some role in the decline.  As the Washington Post notes:

Americans over the age of 65 are much less likely to work than prime-age Americans. And since that subset of Americans is expanding its ranks, that drives the labor-force participation rate down.

***

Economists disagree, however, on exactly how much demographics are responsible for the current fall in the participation rate. The Chicago Fed estimated in 2012 that retirements accounted for one-fourth of the drop in labor force participation since the recession began. Other analysts, including Barclays, have suggested that aging Boomers could account for a bigger slice of the drop.

Meanwhile, a recent paper by Shigeru Fujita of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia staked out a more nuanced view: Demographics, he argued, didn’t play a huge role in the labor-force drop between 2007 and 2011. But since then, retirements are responsible for basically the entire fall of the participation rate. One possible reason is that many older Americans postponed retirement immediately after the financial crisis to rebuild their battered 401(k)s. By 2012 or so, they began retiring en masse.

However, Zero Hedge and Bloomberg show that there are countervailing trends:

 Most disturbingly, the Post notes that the main factor may be workers simply giving up:

The number of Americans working or actively seeking work has actually fallen faster than demographers had predicted:

epop graph-thumb-615x395-82792

And here’s another clue that this isn’t just a demographic story: The participation rate for workers between ages 25 and 54 fell sharply during the recession and still hasn’t recovered. Obviously, retirements can’t explain this:

Credit: Calculated Risk

So, what’s going on? One theory is that the weak job market is causing people to simply give up looking for work — they’re crumpling up their résumés and going home. An recent study from the Boston Fed suggested that these “non-inevitable dropouts” might even account for most of the decrease. Among other things, the authors noted that the labor-force decline has been far sharper for all age groups than simple demographics would predict.

***So, why does the size of the labor force matter? If people are leaving the labor force for economic reasons (and they’re not going back to school), it would mean that the economy is in much worse shape than the official unemployment rate suggests. The jobless rate is officially 6.7 percent, but that only counts people who are actively seeking work — not labor-force dropouts. [Remember, you have to include labor-force dropouts in order to arrive at a useful unemployment number.]

The size of the labor force also goes a long way to determining America’s growth prospects. If, say, baby boomers are retiring faster than expected, then long-run U.S. economic growth will be lower than projected.

***

It could also mean the U.S. economy will be significantly weaker in future. One recent paper from the Federal Reserve estimated that America’s economic potential is now 7 percent lower than it was before the financial crisis — in part because workers who lost their jobs during the downturn have become less-attached to the labor force. That’s a bad sign.

In other words, the crash in labor force participation rate is a very significant indication that all is not well with the economy.

Unfortunately – instead of helping to reduce unemployment – bad government policy has made it much worse. And see here and here.

The press conference held by Jordan’s Ambassador to the UN to introduce Jordan’s presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of January 2014 included a surprise proposal that distinguished it from the usual tradition of announcing the program of work for the Security Council for the month.(1)

The surprise was the announcement of an Open Debate planned for the Council meeting on January 29.

Though it is common to propose an Open Debate as part of a monthly Security Council program, this Open Debate, as proposed, is in the context of a profound issue — the UN’s role as an advocate for peace in the international community.

The description in the Security Council program for January includes the plan for this Open Debate on the topic of the,“Maintenance of International Peace and Security: War, its lessons, and the search for a permanent peace.”

In response to a question for more background on the planned meeting to discuss the broad issues of war and peace, Prince Zeid Ra-ad Zeid al Hussein (Zeid Ra’ad), Jordan’s UN Ambassador, explained that 10 years ago, on January 26, 2004 the Security Council held a discussion on, “National Reconciliation and the Role of the UN.”(2) He said that this had been, “a one of a kind debate, a very good debate. But in the last 10 years we haven’t taken the discussion forward,” he observed.

It is, he explained, “remarkable in one way how we haven’t dealt with it properly in the last almost 70 years of UN practice.”

Responding to a question about the relevance of the South African experience of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to what he was proposing, Prince Zeid remarked that it represented, “a foundational moment, a very important truth and reconciliation commission.”

He described that there have been about twenty-one national commissions, but that the support by the UN has been far fewer than that, that less than 10 were supported by the UN.”Yes it is a mechanism,” he observed, supporting the need for relevant UN expertise.

Speaking from his own personal experiences in the field, rather than that of his government or that of the Security Council, he proposed that peace efforts to settle a serious conflict must merge with a deeper reckoning of the historical narrative of the nation involved. In the two or three situations where he had been charged by the UN to look into needed mechanisms of conflict resolution, however, he found that there were no organized national archives, no memory of the state as such that exists and that is workable. This weakness made it difficult to carry out the processes needed to have a more long lasting means of resolving a conflict.

Prince Zeid noted that just as the UN sends peacekeepers, it also sends specialists to deal with the logistics, with the physical needs of a destroyed country. But as in his experience in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, he came across many people who needed help in other ways, with trauma and so forth. “And how you deal with that?”, he asked.

“More so,” he continued, “you come to realize that there’s a deeper issue at hand, that there are conflicting narratives. And there is the truth. After all there is the truth as well. And its not that you can make up or contrive a narrative. There is a truth that has to be identified, and how do we do that, it is intensely difficult,” Prince Zeid elaborated.

“Truth commissions…, can lead the way,” he noted, “the thing is you have to mainstream it more within the system,” he explained.

“And there needs to be more of a UN expertise in this,” he argued, “This is something we are hoping the Council will pick up and will understand better.”

At the end of the press conference, the Jordanian Mission made available a Concept Paper that it drafted for the January 29, 2014 Security Council debate. The concept paper, “War, its Lessons, and the Search for a Permanent Peace?” introduces the issues to be considered in the Open Debate.(3) “What the UN has not understood well enough,” the paper maintains, “is how it can help forge a deeper reconciliation among ex-combatants and their peoples, based on an agreed or shared narrative, a shared memory, of a troubled past.”

The concept paper recognizes that a component of a conflict is conflicting narratives among the warring sides. It seeks out examples of “meaningful reconciliation based on shared historical understanding helping to cement lasting peace.” But historical memory must be based on a determination of the truth, a truth that has been “properly determined, understood and agreed to by the former warring sides.”

To make this process possible, the Jordanian presidency of the Security Council is inviting delegations to reflect on positive examples and the lessons that can be learned from these examples. “How might these lessons be drawn upon to create models of best practice that can be applied in existing and future post-conflict situations?” the paper asks.

Also the concept paper proposes that the Security Council consider mandating, “a small UN historical advisory team” which would help to gather and recover relevant documents and assist in the “early work of setting up a ‘functional’ national archive, or even a historical commission” in post conflict situations.

These proposals raise a set of issues not often explored or considered at the UN. Will the Jordanian presidency of the Security Council find the means to gain support for its proposals? Will the concept paper and the Security Council debate discussing the paper give the issue of truth and reconciliation serious consideration? If so, it would be refreshing.

Notes

1)Press Conference , Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zedi Al-Hussein (Jordan), President of the Security Council on the programme of work for the month of January 2014 – Press Conference, 6 Jan 2014.

http://webtv.un.org/watch/prince-zeid-raad-zedi-al-hussein-jordan-president-of-the-security-council-on-the-programme-of-work-for-the-month-of-january-2014-press-conference/3019229612001/

2)Security Council Transcript pt.1, January 26, 2004, S/PV.4903, SC/7990
“Post Conflict National Reconciliation, Role of the UN.”

http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/PV.4903

Security Council Transcript pt.2, January 26, 2004, S/PV.4903(Resumption 1)+Corr. 1, SC/7990
“Post Conflict National Reconciliation, Role of the UN.”.

http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/PV.4903%28Resumption1%29

Summary of Meeting January 26, 2004, SC/4903 AM and PM Meeting, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, SECURITY COUNCIL REAFFIRMS ‘VITAL IMPORTANCE’ OF UNITED NATIONS’ ROLE IN POST-CONFLICT RECONCILIATION

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/sc7990.doc.htm

3) Jordanian Mission at the UN, “War, its Lessons, and the Search for a Permanent Peace?”, Concept Note for Thematic Debate 29 January 2014.

 

We are living through a chronically tense and, in wealthy parts of the world, a desperately self-indulgent era. Advertising teaches that fulfillment comes with compulsive consumption. News media trivialize history and turn current events into a competition of spectacles and personality cults. Addicted to fads and the quick fix, frightened of the future and cut adrift from the past, millions of people flee from imagination and look for meaning in pre-digested realities.

The very sense that we are part of real families and communities is threatened. Virtual images that dominate our days begin to look more real than we do. Experts meanwhile have a field day providing clever evaluations of the psychic assault on humanity and the breakdown of culture, while conveniently omitting that they are some of the culprits.

Societal narcissism has reached the epidemic level. Traditionally, a narcissist was described as some “beautiful person” who can relate only to his or her own image or problems. But the definition has expanded to include traits like exploitation of the warmth provided by others, combined with fear of dependence, a sense of inner emptiness, boundless repressed rage, and unsatisfied cravings. Narcissists can be pseudo-intellectuals or calculating seducers. Usually, they are afraid of old age and death, and fascinated with celebrities. These callous, superficial climbers seek out the famous, and yet are also compelled to destroy their fantasy figures.

If this merely described a few “sick” individuals we might find comfort. But patterns of narcissistic behavior afflict millions and are reinforced daily. And perhaps most disquieting, the narcissistic personality is ideally suited for positions of power, the type of leader who sells himself to win at any price.

Capitalism has turned self promotion into a growth industry, with success often resting on the ability to project a “winning personality” and often false image. Relentless self-promotion, whether by conservative demagogues or their liberal counterparts, meshes neatly with an idealization of powerful people who represent what the narcissist seeks.

Narcissists identify with winners out of a fear of being losers. Objects of hero worship give meaning to the frequently unfocused or direction-deprived lives of society’s many emotional casualties. Yet mixed with this idealization is an urge to degrade the object of one’s admiration, sparked when the “hero” ultimately disappoints. This desperate need, intensified by the machinery of mass promotion, can turn even assassination, political or physical, into a form of spectacle.

Among the influences that reinforce narcissism, mass media have the most pervasive impact. They tend to create both a sense of chronic tension and a cynical detachment from reality. But detachment does not have to express itself as cynicism. It can also lead to intelligent skepticism. This raises a political question, since media and other powerful institutions could help to reduce dependence and support individuals in solving their own problems. In recent years, however, being detached has mainly meant a crippling negativism about the entire political process, a nihilistic and escapist conclusion that no constructive change is possible.

The abdication of responsibility to various bureaucracies has meanwhile promoted character traits consistent with a corrupted culture, and this in turn has accelerated the excesses of corporate capitalism. The result is a kind of mass neurosis. Images of a “good” and a “bad” parent, objects of love and hatred, are formed early, internalized, and become part of the self-image of children. But rather than fusing into a super-ego that also contains social values and self-confidence, these early images often melt into a harsh, punishing super-ego. The emerging adult is torn between repressed rage and the desire for some all-powerful other. Sexual needs are also distorted, barriers are erected against strong emotions, and fear of death and old age becomes intense.

The decay of older traditions of self-help has eroded competence in one area after another, leaving the individual dependent on the state, corporations, and other bureaucratic structures. Narcissism is the psychological dimension of this dependence. Popular culture feeds on narcissistic fantasies, encouraging delusions of omnipotence while simultaneously reinforcing feelings of dependence and discouraging strong emotions.

Ultimately, the bland and empty facade of mass existence can become overwhelming. Yet within millions of people there remains enormous rage, resentment, and potential for which bureaucratic society provides few outlets. In truth, few people are actually satisfied with the facade. Some do nothing yet know the system doesn’t work, others actively look for ways to limit the damage. Some strike out violently, others tap cultural resources like cooperative work, art, and spirituality to counteract the effects.

With the belief in individual responsibility undermined in so many ways, moral impulses help to keep alive a sense that people are responsible for what they do. If such a view spread widely enough, it could change an entire society. Another remedy, in response to professional imperialism, is to reclaim responsibilities we have ceded to the experts. Call it a program of conscious self-rule, one that could also protect us from discriminatory or authoritarian tendencies.

Such changes carry risks. For example, reactionary impulses in families or churches may be exploited. But given the state of society – moral bankruptcy, political corruption, economic inequality, and ecological decay – a few risks are preferable to playing it safe. The goal is to restore humanity’s basic dignity through compassion, engagement, and mutual aid. Along with healthy skepticism and intelligently directed anger, these could be keys to a new, freer and more natural culture.

Greg Guma is a Vermont-based writer and author ofDons of Time.This essay is an excerpt from Prisoners of the Real. To read more, go to Prisoners of the Real: An Odyssey

 

 

 The idea that government can’t do anything right has been trumpeted by the right wing for decades, particularly by its recently deceased leader Milton Friedman, a former economist at the University of Chicago. He campaigned to reduce government functions to a minimum while letting private enterprise step in and take full responsibility for running all industries, health care, retirement pensions, and even education, which he viewed as socialist when run by the government. Private enterprise, he argued, employs the most efficient means while always producing superior outcomes.

Forms of Privatization in Public Education

These ideas were typically regarded as fringe, but have gradually moved to center stage, embraced by liberals and conservatives alike. George W. Bush succeeded in privatizing many of the operations associated with the functioning of the U.S. military overseas, including the supply of food, the necessary infrastructure for housing soldiers, the use of special security forces such as Blackwater in Iraq, etc. He would have privatized Social Security had he not encountered vehement resistance on the part of the American public.

Obama’s contribution to the privatization campaign has centered for the most part on education. But before we can evaluate its impact, it is necessary to consider the different forms privatization can take in relation to schools, since it can occupy different positions on a wide spectrum of possibilities.

 At one end of the spectrum lie completely privatized schools that provide their own financing and govern themselves. But many schools are more like hybrids, a mixture of private and public. Charter schools, whose numbers are growing rapidly, are funded with public money (that previously would have gone to public schools) but are privately operated. Often they are run by for-profit or non-profit national companies, as opposed to simply a group of teachers who want to break away from traditional schools and experiment with an alternative curriculum.

Similarly, essentially public universities or K-12 schools might make use of online courses produced by private, for-profit companies, and, of course, private companies produce textbooks.

Another hybrid example is where public universities have aggressively raised tuition fees at public universities so that funding shifts from the public coffers to the students themselves as private citizens. At the University of California at Berkeley students now contribute more for their education than the state does. In the 1960s the state paid for the vast majority of their expenses.

Still another example is where a publicly funded and operated school imports the corporate culture from the private sector. For example, many public universities are abandoning their former practice of promoting faculty into administrative positions, paying them only slightly more than before and, instead, are drawing on administrators from the private sector and paying them exorbitant salaries while paying part-time faculty less than a living wage. Some presidents of public universities now make over $1 million a year. Under such circumstances democratic institutions of shared governance are dismantled while power tends to be concentrated at the top, thereby destroying any spirit of collegiality.

Another cultural import from the private sector involves measuring “student learning outcomes” in order to evaluate teachers, as if one is counting gadgets churned out on a factory assembly line. Of course, the result of the evaluation will depend of the choice of measurement, and although highly controversial, standardized tests now represent the most prevalent alternative.

Still another cultural import is the hyper emphasis on competition. Not only are students required to compete against one another for grades, teachers must compete against one another in order to hold their jobs. There is a strong drive to fire teachers whose students have low test scores while retaining and rewarding those with high student test scores with “merit” pay. Thus far teacher unions have been vigorously resisting this practice.

But with Obama’s Race to the Top even schools are forced to compete against one another. By tying federal funding to the acceptance of charter schools, Obama is establishing a framework where traditional public schools must compete with the newer charter schools for students, especially for the students who will raise their school’s test scores.

Finally, partial privatization can occur simply by setting the goal of education as exclusively producing skilled workers primarily for the private sector rather than emphasizing the full development of the student or the training of a critically thinking individual who is prepared to assume the obligations of citizenship in a democratic society. City College of San Francisco, for example, in its fight for accreditation was forced to delete from its mission statement reference to teaching “life skills,” “cultural enrichment,” and “lifelong learning.” Pressure has mounted on all public institutions of higher learning to move students through quickly so that they can graduate with a degree and enter the labor market.

 Why Privatize?

There are basically two distinct motives. As mentioned before, many believe that competition, emblematic of the private sector, is the best guarantee for the best outcomes. Competition compels participants to adopt the most efficient means and maximizes motivation by threatening extinction if a company does not excel.

But on a more pragmatic and less ideological level, education offers a tremendous source of profits when private, for-profit companies are allowed to move in. For this reason for-profit educational institutions have mushroomed during the past several decades.

The privatization movement is now in full force as a consequence of the growing inequalities in wealth. With the decimation of those with middle income, wealth has become concentrated at the top. With wealth comes power. Corporate owners have therefore found it much easier to impose their will and values on the rest of society.

What Is At Stake?

Nothing short of genuine education itself is at stake. What particularly vitiates the learning process is the introduction of a corporate culture or “market” forces that insist on measuring “student learning outcomes” by “objective” standards such as standardized tests; that place an emphasis on competition so that there are inevitably “winners” and “losers;” that regard democratic structures that include teachers with disdain; that narrow the curriculum so that job skills alone are valued; and that think in terms of education as valuable only as a means to material rewards.

Students will not become genuine learners unless they are imbued with a love of learning, meaning they regard learning as an end in itself, an asset not easily measured. Every teacher is fully aware that in competitive environments students will concentrate their efforts on achieving a high grade, not on truly understanding the material. They will memorize for tests and then forget everything. They will take great pains to hide their ignorance, not raise critical questions, let alone questions about material they do not understand. We know that in moments of desperation the vast majority of high school students at one time or another will cheat, which is hardly one of the skills we want them to acquire.

We also know that when teachers are judged by their students’ standardized test scores, they will teach to the test, where the highest goal is to get the “right” answer, with or without understanding the material. Here students are drilled, so that for them school becomes painfully dull and boring. And who knows if those who create the tests have themselves identified the “right” answer or even asked an appropriate question. There is absolutely no opportunity to raise critical questions.

What is particularly vile about judging teachers by their students’ scores is that we have volumes of evidence that prove that the student’s performance in the classroom is far more a function of their family situation than what the teacher does.

Knowledge is best pursued as a cooperative venture where students work together to find solutions to problems and share their information. New teachers do best, for example, when partnered with a mentor who can share with them what they have found that does and does not work. This won’t happen when teachers and schools are competing against one another.

 When the search for the Higgs Boson particle, otherwise known as the “god particle,” got underway, two teams of scientists of 3000 each were created, not as a source of motivation through competition but to provide independent confirmation of the other team’s results. Those on each team worked in close cooperation with one another. Although external rewards existed, the participants were driven by their love of physics. As one veteran member told a newcomer: he will have “the time of his life.”

Because of its cooperative nature, the pursuit of knowledge cannot be disentangled from a sense of community where each participant acquires the ability to listen to different points of view, weigh their respective merits, and synthesize the best aspects of each view into a more sophisticated vision. Here everyone must enjoy an equal voice so that no one’s contribution can be routinely dismissed because of an individual’s status.

Consequently, institutions of learning that operate with a corporate top-down structure — where brute power continually preempts the force of the better argument — inevitably undermine the learning process within the classroom. If educators do not practice what they preach, then learning is transformed into a type of obedience and academic achievement becomes a form of deception.

Of course, the most valuable moments in education cannot be measured. When students get carried away with a discussion where each responds to the others and where each contributes to the other’s response, it is impossible to quantify the performance of each student, as if each contribution could be isolated from the others. And, of course, any attempt to quantify their performances would only serve to undermine the spiritual pleasure that students derive from collaborating with one another where each one plays an essential role in creating a richer outcome.

 Conclusion

The vast preponderance of evidence unambiguously supports the conclusion that the corporate culture in all its forms is antithetic to education. And this doesn’t even take into account the inevitable and prevalent corporate corruption that has infused education in the past several decades where the well-being of students is sacrificed for the pursuit of profits. But those who champion it, including the Obama administration, Bill Gates, and all the reactionary education foundations, display little regard for the conclusions of scientific studies. In their fanatical zeal they have demonstrated a willingness to impose a corporate culture despite the resistance of protesting parents and teachers. Lacking rational justifications, they shamelessly make recourse to force, closing community schools, for example, over the objections of the families they serve.

There can be little wonder that these zealots display no interest in the indispensable role our public schools play in nurturing students into citizens who are prepared to participate in a democratic society. For them, democracy only serves as an annoying hindrance to producing compliant workers who will follow the example of the politicians and uncritically dedicate their lives to serving their corporate masters.

Note: Diane Ravitch’s new book, THE REIGN OF ERROR, provides an excellent analysis of many of the issues raised in this article and is a must-read for anyone serious about education

Ann Robertson is a Lecturer at San Francisco State University and a member of the California Faculty Association. Bill Leumer is a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 853 (ret.). Both are writers for Workers Action and may be reached at [email protected]

Refusing to Fight: Canadians Supporting US War Deserters

January 11th, 2014 by Michael Welch

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Canada: A Refuge from Militarism?

January 2014 marks the ten year anniversary since Jeremy Hinzman, US soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division, having deserted his battalion, crossed the border into Canada and sought refuge from a war he could not legally or morally participate in.

In so doing, he became the first modern day US War Resister to seek asylum in Canada.

Others followed.

Brandon Hughey, David Sanders, Joshua Key, Kim Rivera, and ultimately more than two dozen others followed suit. All publicly declared their conscientious opposition to the US war agenda, particularly the conflict in Iraq.

This is not including the more than one hundred who may have crossed over unacknowledged.

Given the unpopularity of the Iraq War, especially in Canada, one would think there would be significant support for these military personnel who sacrificed their careers, their families and their reputations for an unknown future in a foreign country.

However, the experience of today’s war resisters indicates otherwise.

The current Conservative government in Canada seems anything but accommodating of US military deserters, regardless of the questionable legality of the conflicts they were ordered to participate in.

To date, at least three of these former military personnel, including young mother Kimberley Rivera, have been sent back to the US to serve lengthy prison sentences.

Those still in Canada live with considerable uncertainty about when and if their number may be up.

Joshua Key is the author of The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq. He has had to deal with poor revenue from his book sales, a complete inability to raise money through paid work or social assistance, health concerns and recently, an unfair eviction from his home in Southern Saskatchewan. He brings his family’s ordeal to light in the first half hour.

This interview is followed by the perspective of Vietnam era draft evader Howard Davidson. He explains the critical similarities and differences between the GI Resister movement today and its Vietnam era counterpart.

Finally, Michelle Robidoux of the War Resisters Support Campaign explains how the modern War Resister movement in Canada got off the ground ten years ago, outlines critical victories and defeats in the campaign, and lays out concrete actions Canadians can take to show solidarity with these American men and women during Let Them Stay Week.

From the article “We the People Refuse to Fight”: Abandon the Battlefield!
By Michel Chossudovsky,

Disobey unlawful orders! Abandon the battlefield! …
Refuse to fight in a war which blatantly violates international law and the US Constitution!
But this is not a choice which enlisted men and women can make individually.
It is a collective and societal choice, which requires an organizational structure.
Across the land in the US, Britain, Canada and in all coalition countries, the anti-war movement must assist enlisted men and women to make that moral choice possible, to abandon the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Fridays at 1pm CDT. The programme is also broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

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

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

 

Global Terrorism and Saudi Arabia: Bandar’s Terror Network

January 11th, 2014 by Prof. James Petras

            Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela.  The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents.  Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over.  The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection.  The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family.  The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.

            Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides:  overseas, secular, nationalists and Shia ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers.  In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.

            The mastermind of the Saudi terror network is Bandar bin Sultan, who has longstanding and deep ties to high level US political, military and intelligence officials.  Bandar was trained and indoctrinated at Maxwell Air Force Base and Johns Hopkins University and served as Saudi Ambassador to the US for over two decades (1983 – 2005).  Between 2005 – 2011 he was Secretary of the National Security Council and in 2012 he was appointed as Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.  Early on Bandar became deeply immersed in clandestine terror operations working

in liaison with the CIA.  Among his numerous “dirty operations” with the CIA during the 1980s, Bandar channeled $32 million dollars to the Nicaragua Contra’s engaged in a terror campaign to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua.  During his tenure as ambassador he was actively engaged in protecting Saudi royalty with ties to the 9/11/01 bombing of the Triple Towers and the Pentagon.  Suspicion that Bandar and his allies in the Royal family had prior knowledge of the bombings by Saudi terrorists (11 of the 19), is suggested by the sudden flight of Saudi Royalty following the terrorist act.  US intelligence documents regarding the Saudi-Bandar connection are under Congressional review.

With a wealth of experience and training in running clandestine terrorist operations, derived from his two decades of collaboration with the US intelligence agencies, Bandar was in a position to organize his own global terror network in defense of the isolated retrograde and vulnerable Saudi despotic monarchy.

Bandar’s Terror Network

Bandar bin Sultan has transformed Saudi Arabia from an inward-looking, tribal based regime totally dependent on US military power for its survival, to a major regional center of a vast terror network, an active financial backer of rightwing military dictatorships (Egypt) and client regimes (Yemen) and military interventor in the Gulf region (Bahrain).  Bandar has financed and armed a vast array of clandestine terror operations, utilizing Islamic affiliates of Al Qaeda, the Saudi controlled Wahhabi sect as well as numerous other Sunni armed groups.  Bandar is a “pragmatic” terrorist operator:  repressing Al Qaeda adversaries in Saudi Arabia and financing Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.,  While Bandar was a long-term asset of the US intelligence services, he has, more recently, taken an ‘independent course’ where the regional interests of the despotic state diverge  from those of the US.  In the same vein, while Saudi Arabia has a longstanding enmity toward Israel, Bandar has developed a “covert understanding” and working relation with the Netanyahu regime, around their common enmity toward Iran and more specifically in opposition to the interim agreement between the Obama-Rohani regime.

Bandar has intervened directly or via proxies in reshaping political alignments, destabilizing adversaries and bolstering and expanding the political reach of the Saudi dictatorship from North Africa to South Asia, from the Russian Caucuses to the Horn of Africa, sometimes in concert with Western imperialism, other times projecting Saudi hegemonic aspirations.

North Africa:  Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt

            Bandar has poured billions of dollars to bolster the rightwing pro-Islamic regimes in Tunisia and Morocco, ensuring that the mass pro-democracy movements would be repressed, marginalized and demobilized.. Islamic extremists receiving Saudi financial support are encouraged to back the “moderate” Islamists in government by assassinating secular democratic leaders and socialist trade union leaders in opposition.  Bandar’s policies largely coincide with those of the US and France in Tunisia and Morocco; but not in Libya and Egypt.

            Saudi financial backing for Islamist terrorists and Al Qaeda affiliates against Libyan President Gadhafi were in-line with the NATO air war.  However divergences emerged in the aftermath:  the NATO backed client regime made up of neo-liberal ex-pat’s faced off against Saudi backed Al Qaeda and Islamist terror gangs and assorted tribal gunmen and marauders.  Bandar funded Islamic extremists in Libya were bankrolled  to extend their military operations to Syria, where the Saudi regime was organizing a vast military operation to overthrow the Assad regime.  The internecine conflict between NATO and Saudi armed groups in Libya, spilled over and led to the Islamist murder of the US Ambassador and CIA operatives in Benghazi.  Having overthrown Gadhafi, Bandar virtually abandoned interest in the ensuing blood bath and chaos provoked by his armed assets.  They in turn, became self-financing – robbing banks, pilfering oil and emptying local treasuries – relatively “independent” of Bandar’s control.

            In Egypt, Bandar developed, in coordination with Israel (but for different reasons), a strategy of undermining the relatively independent, democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi.  Bandar and the Saudi dictatorship financially backed the military coup and dictatorship of General Sisi.  The US strategy of a power-sharing agreement between the Moslem Brotherhood and the military regime, combining popular electoral legitimacy and the pro-Israel-pro NATO military was sabotaged.  With a $15 billion aid package and promises of more to come, Bandar provided the Egyptian military a financial lifeline and economic immunity from any international financial reprisals.  None were taken of any consequences.  The military crushed the Brotherhood, jailed and threatened to execute its elected leaders.  It outlawed sectors of the liberal-left opposition which it had used as cannon fodder to justify its seizure of power.  In backing the military coup, Bandar eliminated a rival, democratically elected Islamic regime which stood in contrast to the Saudi despotism.  He secured a like-minded dictatorial regime in a key Arab country, even though the military rulers are more secular, pro-Western, pro-Israel and less anti-Assad than the Brotherhood regime.  Bandar’s success in greasing the wheels for the Egyptian coup secured a political ally but faces an uncertain future.

The revival of a new anti-dictatorial mass movement would also target the Saudi connection.  Moreover Bandar undercut and weakened Gulf State unity:  Qatar had financed the Morsi regime and was out $5 billion dollars it had extended to the previous regime.

Bandar’s terror network is most evident in his long-term large scale financing, arming, training and transport of tens of thousands of Islamic terrorist “volunteers” from the US, Europe, the Middle East, the Caucuses, North Africa and elsewhere.. Al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia became “martyrs of Islam” in Syria.  Dozens of Islamic armed gangs in Syria competed for Saudi arms and funds.  Training bases with US and European instructors and Saudi financing were established in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey.  Bandar financed the major ‘rebel’ Islamic terrorist armed group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for cross border operations.

With Hezbollah supporting Assad, Bandar directed money and arms to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Lebanon to bomb South Beirut, the Iranian embassy and Tripoli.  Bandar directed $3 billion to the Lebanese military with the idea of fomenting a new civil war between it and Hezbollah.  In co-ordination with France and the US, but with far greater funding and greater latitude to recruit Islamic terrorist, Bandar assumed the leading role and became the principle director of a three front military and diplomatic offensive against Syria, Hezbollah and Iran.  For Bandar, an Islamic takeover in Syria would lead to an Islamic Syrian invasion in support of Al Qaeda in Lebanon to defeat Hezbollah in hopes of isolating Iran.  Teheran would then become the target of a Saudi-Israeli-US offensive.  Bandar’s strategy is more fantasy then reality.

Bandar Diverges from Washington:  the Offensive in Iraq and Iran

Saudi Arabia has been an extremely useful but sometimes out of control client of Washington.  This is especially the case since Bandar has taken over as Intelligence chief:  a long-time asset of the CIA he has also, at times, taken the liberty to extract “favors” for his services, especially when those “favors” enhance his upward advance within the Saudi power structure.  Hence, for example, his ability to secure AWACs despite AIPAC opposition earned him merit points.  As did Bandar’s ability to secure the departure of several hundred Saudi ‘royalty’ with ties to the 9/11 bombers, despite a high level national security lockdown in the aftermath of the bombing.

While there were episodic transgressions in the past, Bandar moved on to more serious divergences from US policy.  He went ahead, building his own terror network, directed toward maximizing Saudi hegemony – even where it conflicted with US proxies, clients and clandestine operatives.

While the US is committed to backing the rightwing Malicki regime in Iraq, Bandar is providing political, military and financial backing to the Sunni terrorist “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. When the US negotiated the “interim agreement” with Iran Bandar voiced his opposition and “bought” support.  Saudi signed off on a billion dollar arms agreement during French President Hollande’s visit, in exchange for greater sanctions on Iran.  Bandar also expressed support for Israel’s use of the Zionist power configuration to influence the Congress, to sabotage US negotiations with Iran.

Bandar has moved beyond his original submission to US intelligence handlers.  His close ties with past and present US and EU presidents and political influentials have encouraged him to engage in “Big Power adventures”.  He met with Russian President Putin to convince him to drop his support for Syria, offering a carrot or a stick: a multi-billion dollar arms sale for compliance and a threat to unleash Chechnyian terrorists to undermine the Sochi Olympics.  He has turned Erdogan from a NATO ally supporting ‘moderate’ armed opponents to Bashar Assad, into embracing the Saudi backed ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, a terrorist Al Qaeda affiliate.  Bandar has “overlooked” Erdogan’s “opportunist” efforts to sign off oil deals with Iran and Iraq, his continuing military arrangements with NATO and his past backing of the defunct Morsi regime in Egypt, in order to secure Erdogan’s support for the easy transit of large numbers of Saudi trained terrorists to Syria and probably Lebanon.

Bandar has strengthened ties with the armed Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, arming and financing their armed resistance against the US, as well as offering the US a site for a ‘negotiated departure’.

Bandar is probably supporting and arming Uighur Muslim terrorists in western China, and Chechens and Caucasian Islamic terrorists in Russia, even as the Saudi’s expand their oil agreements with China and cooperate with Russia’s Gazprom.

The only region where the Saudi’s have exercised direct military intervention is in the Gulf min-state of Bahrain, where Saudi troops crushed the pro-democracy movement challenging the local despot.

Bandar:  Global Terror on Dubious Domestic Foundations

Bandar has embarked on an extraordinary transformation of Saudi foreign policy and enhanced its global influence.  All to the worst.  Like Israel, when a reactionary ruler comes to power and overturns the democratic order, Saudi arrives on the scene with bags of dollars to buttress the regime.  Whenever an Islamic terror network emerges to subvert a nationalist, secular or Shia regime, it can count on Saudi funds and arms.  What some Western scribes euphemistically describe as “tenuous effort to liberalize and modernize” the retrograde Saudi regime, is really a military upgrade of its overseas terrorist activity.  Bandar uses modern techniques of terror to impose the Saudi model of reactionary rule on neighboring and distant regimes with Muslim populations.

            The problem is that Bandar’s “adventurous” large scale overseas operations conflict with some of the ruling Royal family’s “introspective” style of rulership.  They want to be left alone to accrue hundreds of billions collecting petrol rents, to invest in high-end properties around the world, and to quietly patronize high end call girls in Washington, London and Beirut –while posing as pious guardians of Medina, Mecca and the Holy sites.  So far Bandar has not been challenged, because he has been careful to pay his respects to the ruling monarch and his inner circle.  He has bought and brought Western and Eastern prime ministers, presidents and other respectable notable to Riyadh to sign deals and pay compliments to the delight of the reigning despot.  Yet his solicitous behavior to overseas Al Qaeda operations, his encouraging Saudi extremists to go overseas and engage in terrorist wars, disturbs monarchical circles.   They worry that Saudis trained, armed and knowledgeable terrorists – dubbed as “holy warriors” – may return from Syria, Russia and Iraq and bomb the Kings palaces.  Moreover, oversea regimes targeted by Bandar’s terror network may retaliate:  Russia or Iran, Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Iraqis may just sponsor their own instruments of retaliation.  Despite the hundreds of billions spent on arms purchases, the Saudi regime is very vulnerable on all levels.  Apart from tribal legions, the billionaire elite have little popular support and even less legitimacy.  It depends on overseas migrant labor, foreign “experts” and US military forces.  The Saudi elite is also despised by the most religious of the Wahhabi clergy for allowing “infidels” on sacred terrain.  While Bandar extends Saudi power abroad, the domestic foundations of rule are narrowing.  While he defies US policymakers in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, the regime depends on the US Air Force and Seventh Fleet to protect it from a growing array of adversarial regimes.

            Bandar, with his inflated ego, may believe that he is a “Saladin” building a new Islamic empire, but in reality, by waving one finger his patron monarch can lead to his rapid dismissal.  One too many provocative civilian bombings by his Islamic terrorist beneficiaries can lead to an international crises leading to Saudi Arabia becoming the target of world opprobrium.

            In reality, Bandar bin Sultan is the protégé and successor of Bin Laden; he has deepened and systematized global terrorism.  Bandar’s terror network has murdered far more innocent victims than Bin Laden.  That, of course, is to be expected; after all he has billions of dollars from the Saudi treasury, training from the CIA and the handshake of Netanyahu!

Will the Mandela Movie Even Win an Oscar Nomination?

January 11th, 2014 by Danny Schechter

 The whole world recognized and paid tribute to South African icon Nelson Mandela when he died at age 95. 91 Heads of State attended his funeral. The UN General Assembly organized a special tribute. His legacy is secure in official circles, but will there be recognition in the place that seems to matter to the media even more: Hollywood?

The Oscar nominations are due any day, and early on, it seemed, as if the epic movie about the world’s most revered icon was a sure thing for Oscar consideration. Most of the main big newspaper reviewers loved it and, and its distributor Harvey Weinstein has specialized in influencing Academy decisions.

But of late, it lost its buzz, and is buried by the hype machine, almost being treated as an also ran. The entertainment media no long seems to take it seriously. All the focus is on other films and the big US stars.

The producers of the movie, made in South Africa, albeit with a British director, Judson Chadwick,  and Oscar celebrated screenwriter William Nicholson, were earlier hopeful that they had a good chance of winning at least one of the statuettes that quickly translate into a place in cinema history and more bang at the box-office.

For them,  making this film was always far more than  a commercial endeavor. In my book, <strong>MadibaAtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela</strong>, producer Anant Singh shares his passion for the subject and explains that it took 16 years and as many as 50 versions of script to put together the money and the cast. He was making it not only to honor Mandela but also tell the story of his country’s liberation. They worked as independents with no major studio behind them.

They were also very commercial in their calculations, doing what they they had to do to get it made and get it out, also  conscious of deferring to Hollywood formula, by focusing on the love story between Nelson and Winnie and, in effect, depoliticizing the story of a very political figure once known for saying, “The Struggle Is My Life.”

 On the left, there was disappointment as the review in Britain’s Couunterfire expressed this way: “This absence of ideological perspective is probably to be expected but the concluding effect of the film is to produce a sanitized and depoliticized Mandela that does not help us comprehend his massive impact. The apolitical Mandela in the film is the one neoliberal warmongerers like Blair, Bush and Obama are happy to eulogize.”

I am sure if the filmmakers had tried to please ideologues on all sides, the movie probably wouldn’t have even been made, much less released, with the small fortune in marketing monies required to be considered competitive.

That said, it did make news with lots of star-studded attention grabbing premieres and some media attention, especially, after Mandela died, while a Royal screening was underway in England.

The movie itself got less attention that its stars and connection with a well known leader.

And, yes, there was also sympathy in Tinsel Town, where commerce, grosses and celebrities, not  newsy issues, are always topic #1.

Years ago, one of my Mandela documentaries was passed over for Oscar consideration, but the Academy, out of interest I am sure, hosted a screening in LA under their auspices. I was pleased to be there and got lots of positive comments from the audience. That was the closest I got to an oscar.

Movies about the great and the good have an uphill battle in challenging Hollywood product that, this year again, seems more mesmerized by big time crime dramas like American Hustle and the Wolf of Wall Street that make con men appear cool and groovy. Their only morality is amorality.

Those movies feature better-known stars and more made in the USA storylines, aided and abetted by even  bigger and more recent advertising budgets. Mandela Long Walk To Freedom didn’t have the deep pockets to compete when the film went into “wide release” on Christmas Day. By then, it was already being considered old.

The Golden Globes did give Mandela three nominations—one to Idris Elba, the male lead, and two for music—one to the Irish hand U2 for the hardly political up-beat end song. Getting the band to the awards ceremony will enhance its appeal, but everyone knows the Globes reflect the picks of many self-styled foreign correspondents, not died in the wool movie industry Americanos.

The NAACP image awards also honored Elba as one of their own. In Britain, their academy nominated Mandela for the best <strong>British </strong>film of the year, even though it was primarily made by Videovision, a South African company.

Curiously, the nationalism and racial identity embedded in those awards were the very values that the real Mandela rejected.

“12 Years a Slave’ is the “black” movie expected to win, if any does. In that drama, a white man played by superstar Brad Pitt freed the slave, not a people’s revolt. Its appeal may have had more to due with the lack of attention finally paid to slavery in the land of slavery–but by a British director–and the guilt the movie plays to, as well as its pervasive violence,  which, as black activist H Rap Brown once observed, is “as American as Cherry Pie.”

Mandela features violence too—but oppressive state violence, more than individual bad guys that you can hate.  Apartheid may be a more recent crime than slavery but the latter is part of a U.S history that some Americans—not all, for sure—are ashamed of.

Slavery as a subject is also presented only as American while Mandela dramatizes a freedom struggle in Africa that has not been front and center much lately in a news system that routinely treats Africa as a continent of of wars, massacres and coups.

Mandela was one of the few African leaders even reported here and the fact that his death occasioned considerable coverage may have reinforced the idea that his story has been over exposed. Why see a movie versions when the real man was on TV. ‘

That’s  not true, but that’s a perception that certainly cut into the film’s ticket sales.

If Mandela Long Walk To Freedom is not on the Oscar list, it will be gone from theaters quickly, probably to return on TV movie channels and video. See it while you still can. You will be glad you did!

Danny Schechter made documentaries about the making and meaning of the movie Mandela Long Walk to Freedom. He also wrote the book, MadibaAtoZ: the Many Faces of Nelson Mandela (Madibabook.com) Comments to [email protected]

by Josh Hart, Director StopSmartMeters.Org.

Tom Wheeler, chair of the Federal Communications Commission, and former head of the industry Wireless Association for 12 years, got an earful from protesters on Thursday during his visit to the Bay Area.   Organized by Stop Smart Meters! and the California Brain Tumor Association,  protesters gathered and expressed their anger at the industry/ government collusion that is failing to warn people about- or even acknowledge- the hazards of wireless technology.

From the morning as he arrived in Mountain View to the end of the Oakland event that evening, Wheeler was peppered with questions and dealt with disruptions about how he buried the science showing health harm.

As Wheeler stepped out of his limo in Mountain View, he was confronted about wireless health harm and the ill-advised plan to place wireless in all classrooms in the US- a plan called “ConnectEd” spearheaded by Obama.  A teacher from the LA Unified School District who has witnessed firsthand the effects of wireless on schoolchildren repeatedly pressed Wheeler on the point that wireless radiation is already causing harm to our kids- and that wired computers (not a Class 2B carcinogen) can adequately prepare children for a future working with technology.

 

Ellie Marks (above and left) is Director of the California Brain Tumor Association.  Her husband has a brain tumor from the cell phone he spent hours on as a real estate agent.  As you might imagine, she is hopping mad at a system that is knowingly causing the same fate to countless others.

The FCC under Wheeler is salivating to extinguish our reliable, safe landline connections.

Picture 2

Wheeler had uttered no more than a sentence at the Commonwealth Club event before Stop Smart Meters! Director Josh Hart stood up and said in a loud voice, “Hey Tom, how many people have to die of brain tumors before the Federal Government will warn people of the hazards?   How many young women have to get breast cancer from keeping their phones in their bras before warning labels are introduced?  How many must be made electro-hyper-sensitive from a ‘smart’ grid that is harming our communities?  Are we just collateral damage in the industry quest for profits?  Are you happy with your purchase of the Chairmanship for $1 million from Obama?”  Hart was quickly led out of the room.

That wasn’t the only disruption.  Four others interrupted Wheeler’s speech, demanding answers about why Federal regulations on RF guidelines fail to protect the public from harm.  Ellie Marks ‘thanked’ Wheeler for her husband’s brain tumor.  Kevin Mottus from Los Angeles accused Wheeler and the industry he represents of “carrying out a quiet holocaust.”  One by one, the protesters were led out of the room.  But the message was clear- California is growing more aware of the dark side of wireless and we’re not going to tolerate it quietly.

Picture 1

After leaving Mountain View, activists drove to San Francisco’s Market St. Verizon store and placed  (relatively mild) warning labels on all the wireless devices:

WARNING: This device emits microwave radiation that the World Health Organization states may cause cancer.  Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.

In 2011, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance requiring similar warnings be placed at the point of sale, but the wireless industry sued, claiming they have a “first amendment right” to not disclose health hazards to consumers.  Activists carried out their 1st amendment right to warn people of the dangers.  Many discussions were had with customers, an announcement was made out loud in the store, and the safety labelers refused to leave when asked to do so.  The action carried on for about 20 minutes, as staff went around and quietly removed the stickers from the phones as activists replaced them.  No police were involved and the activists left the store without incident.

 

At the evening event, Voices for Internet Freedom, Wheeler was greeted by death standing solemnly at the entrance.  At one point, he wandered the wrong way after being followed and questioned by an activist, and found himself surrounded by protesters shouting, “Wheeler buried the truth now we bury the dead.” He quickly scurried away, knowing that the truth was out there.   He looked like a frightened animal and you could see the pain in his eyes.  It can’t be easy to sacrifice people’s lives for profit.

 

 

Lloyd Morgan- who had a brain tumor caused by electromagnetic fields- being interviewed by KQED at the Oakland protest

Ellie Marks keeps smiling despite the grim circumstances

A coffin was brought to the scene and ‘dead birds’ were scattered around the coffin to represent the insidious impact of wireless radiation on nature and wildlife.

Activists were more restrained inside the evening event, given that it was sponsored by grassroots community organizations.  SSM! Director Josh Hart was given 90 seconds to speak and said that “it is important to listen to the truth particularly when it is inconvenient or uncomfortable.  The truth is that wireless is hurting us, and as with most toxins, the ones who are marginalized and poor bear the worst impacts.”

Stop Smart Meters! thanks everyone who worked so hard to make these protests happen, and encourages those in other parts of the country to also give Wheeler a similar “warm” welcome when he comes to visit you.

Video of this day of action will be forthcoming.

Alleged Economic Recovery: No Jobs For Americans

January 11th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The alleged recovery took a direct hit from Friday’s payroll jobs report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy created 74,000 net new jobs in December.

Wholesale and retail trade accounted for 70,700 of these jobs or 95.5%.  It is likely that the December wholesale and retail hires were temporary for the Christmas shopping season, which doesn’t seem to have been very exuberant, especially in light of Macy’s decision to close five stores and lay off 2,500 employees.  It is a good bet that these December hires have already been laid off. 

A job gain of 74,000, even if it is real, is about half of what is needed to keep the unemployment rate even with population growth. Yet the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate fell from 7.0% to 6.7%.  Clearly, this decline in unemployment was not caused by the reported 74,000 jobs gain.  The unemployment rate fell, because Americans unable to find jobs ceased looking for employment and, thereby, ceased to be counted as unemployed.  

In America the unemployment rate is a deception just like everything else.  The rate of American unemployment fell, because people can’t find jobs.  The fewer the jobs, the lower the unemployment rate.

I noticed today that the financial media presstitutes were a bit hesitant to hype the drop in the rate of unemployment when there was no jobs growth to account for it. The Wall Street and bank economists did their best to disbelieve the jobs report as did some of the bought-and-paid-for university professors. Too many interests have a stake in the non-existent recovery declared 4.5 years ago to be able to admit that it is not really there.

I have been examining the monthly jobs reports for a decade or longer.  I must say that I was struck by the December report. Normally, a mainstay of jobs gain is the category “education and health services,” with “ambulatory health care services” adding thousands of jobs.  In December the net contribution of “education and health services” was zero, with “ambulatory health care services” losing 4,100 jobs and health care losing 6,000 jobs. If memory serves, this is a first.  Perhaps it reflects adverse impacts of the ripoff known as Obamacare, possibly the worst piece of domestic legislation passed in decades

I was also struck by the report that the gain in employment of waitresses and bartenders, normally a large percentage of the job gain, was down to 9,400 jobs, which were offset by declines elsewhere, such as the layoff of local school teachers.  

Aren’t Washington’s priorities wonderful?  $1,000 billion per year in Quantitative Easing, essentially subsidies  for 6 banks “too big to fail,” and nothing for school teachers.  It should warm every Republican’s heart.

A tiny bright spot in the payroll jobs report is 9,000 new manufacturing jobs. The US manufacturing workforce has declined so dramatically since jobs offshoring became the policy of American corporations that 9,000 jobs doesn’t register on the scale. Fabricated metal products, which I think is roofing metal, accounted for 56% of the manufacturing jobs. Roofing metal is not an export.  Employment in the production of products that could be exported, such as “computer and electronic equipment,” and “electronic instruments” declined by 2,400 and 3,500 respectively.

Clearly, this is not a payroll jobs report that provides cover for the looting of the prospects of ordinary Americans by the financial and offshoring elites. One can wonder how the BLS civil servants who produced it can avoid retribution. It will be interesting to see what occurs in the January payroll jobs report.

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The terms “transparency” and “accountability” are used with greater frequency at United Nations briefings than in practically any other venue. Yet, information on the impact of sanctions on the people of the DPRK and third states affected by the sanction is confidential to the Sanctions Committee. Only the Sanctions Committee secretariat in the Department of Political Affairs is permitted access to this information. Whose political agenda is served by this secrecy, this total failure of transparency and accountability?

The United Nations Security Council has imposed multiple sets of sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including Resolution 1718 (October 14, 2006), Resolution 1874 (June 12, 2009), Resolution 2087 (January 22, 2013, and Resolution 2094 (March 7, 2013). It is striking that in all four resolutions imposed on the DPRK, the sanction language used to prohibit items from entering or leaving the DPRK is sufficiently broad and vague that practically any item essential for the normal, healthy functioning of society is vulnerable to proscription and exclusion of use by the DPRK: the use of the word “could” so excessively prevails throughout (as indicating possibility) as does the use of the vague phrase “reasonable grounds to believe,” which does not require a high standard of proof, or any actual demonstrable evidence, whatsoever, but relies on subjective “belief” which may be based upon or distorted by political bias.

According to Susan Hannah Allen and David J Lektzian in the Journal of Peace Research, (2013)

“The increased use of sanctions and the resultant humanitarian crisis with which they became associated led policy makers and academics to re-evaluate their potential negative externalities. Unlike military conflict, sanctions are not intended to kill citizens of the target country (Drezner, 1998) so they are considered to be a more humane coercive policy. However, following the experience with sanctions in the 1990’s critics began to challenge this logic, arguing that sanctions are a potentially immoral foreign policy tool that indiscriminately and unjustly targets poor and innocent elements of society. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan referred to sanctions as a “blunt instrument which hurts large numbers of people who are not their primary target.”

“One explanation for the coercive mechanism at work when economic sanctions are employed is that they will hurt (or at least inconvenience) the general public sufficiently that the leaders are compelled to alter their behavior and policies as a result of pressure from the population. This traditional thinking suggests that sanctions are imposed to reduce the available resources in the targeted state, which reduces national wealth and creates a sense of deprivation in the targeted population. If the people suffer enough, they will pressure their government to alter its behavior in order to have the sanctions lifted. Other coercive mechanisms for sanctions besides civilian punishment have been explored, but given the fact that modern sanctions have their root in the deprivation-based concept of the medieval siege, their impact on the health of the targeted population should be considered. Because the civilian population is expected to be affected
when economic sanctions are implemented, sanctions have come under fire with many suggesting that they violate Just War Principles.

The Just War Doctrine requires aggressors to clearly differentiate between combatants and non-combatants. Critics of sanctions suggest that sanctions directly target civilians, often inflicting the greatest harm against the weakest elements of society, thus blatantly violating these principles. Garfield and Mueller & Mueller (1999) go so far as to suggest that populations at war may be better off than those under sanctions because the Geneva Conventions govern behavior in war but do not deal with sanctions. Because sanctions do not clearly discriminate between civilians and those that perpetrated the acts that led to international censure, sanctions are seen as unfairly punishing targeted publics….Even when provisions for humanitarian exemptions are included in sanctions policies, the general public may still suffer – especially the urban poor. Food aid programs are likely to be politically manipulated. Rationing programs increase dependence on the state. Without unfettered access to nutritious food and clean water, the average level of health of the civilian population will decrease. These shortages result from the broader economic impact that sanctions can have on a sanctioned society.”

Among the strangling sanctions inflicted on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, S/RES/1718 (2006),

8. “Decides that:

(a) All member states shall prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the DPRK, through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in their territories of:

(ii) All items, materials, equipment, goods and technology as set out in the list of documents S/2006?814 and S/2006/815, unless within 14 days of adoption of this resolution this Committee has amended or completed their provisions also taking into account the list in document S/2006/816, as well as other items, materials, equipment, goods and technology, determined by the Security Council or the Committee, which COULD contribute to DPRK’s nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related or other weapons of mass destruction – related programmes.”

(iii) Luxury goods”

Many of the basic chemical, biological, electrical, medical etc. substances which are essential for normal daily living “could” also be included in the category defined as potentially “contributing” to the DPRK’s nuclear –related activities, etc., but denying these crucial substances to the civilian population of the DPRK because they “could” have other uses is an act of violent aggression, which leads to drastic deterioration in their health and general standard of living. Under the description of possible “dual use,” anything and everything necessary for life can be denied to the civilian population of that country.

Resolution S/RES/2094 (2013) contains this extremely dangerous passage:

23. Reaffirms the measures imposed in paragraph 8 (a)(iii) of resolution 1718 (2006) regarding luxury goods and clarifies that the term ‘luxury goods’ includes, but is not limited to the items specified in annex IV of this resolution’”

This last (23) intentionally vague and non-descript passage is surreptitiously making possible the designation of any item necessary for the normal, healthy, effective living and functioning of society to be labeled “luxury goods,” and thereby proscribed, since to a starving person food is a luxury, and to a freezing person, the fuel necessary to heat his home or school is also a luxury. To many, clean water is a luxury, and is sold in bottles in stores all over the world to those who can afford to pay for it. To the destitute, necessities for living are luxuries.

The hyperbaric chamber, which provides a cure for a gangrenous arm or leg, preventing the necessity for amputation, is complex equipment, involving chemical, biological, and electrical components, all of which are prohibited and denied to the DPRK by these sanctions, because the components necessary for the construction and maintenance of a hyperbaric chamber “could” be used for other purposes. (Dual use, again). And further, the hyperbaric chamber could also be designated a “luxury good,” different in kind and substance from jewelry or a yacht, but a luxury, nevertheless.

In a superb essay by Joy Gordon, entitled “Cool War: Economic Sanctions as a Weapon of Mass Destruction” (published in Harper’s, 2002) Ms. Gordon states:

“News of Iraqi fatalities has been well documented (by the United Nations, among others), though underreported by the media. What has remained invisible, however, is any documentation of how and by whom such a death toll has been justified for so long. How was the danger of goods entering Iraq assessed, and how was it weighed, if at all, against the mounting collateral damage? …It was easy to discover that for the last ten years a vast number of lengthy holds had been placed on billions of dollars worth of what seemed unobjectionable – and very much needed – imports to Iraq. But I soon learned that all U.N. records that could answer my questions were kept from public scrutiny. This is not to say that the UN is lacking in public documents related to the Iraq program. What is unavailable are the documents that show how the U.S. policy agenda has determined the outcome of humanitarian and security judgments….The operation of Iraq sanctions involves numerous agencies within the United Nations…These agencies have been careful not to publicly discuss their ongoing frustration with the manner in which the program is operated….Over the last three years, through research and interviews with diplomats I have acquired many of the key confidential UN documents concerning the administration of Iraq sanctions. I obtained these documents on the condition that my sources remain anonymous. What they show is that the United States has fought aggressively throughout the last decade to purposefully minimize the humanitarian goods that enter the country. And it has done so in the face of enormous human suffering, including massive increases in child mortality and widespread epidemics…What is less well known is that the government of
Saddam Hussein had invested heavily in health, education, and social programs for two decades prior to the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Before the Persian Gulf war Iraq was a rapidly developing country with free education, ample electricity, modernized agriculture and a robust middle class. According to the World Health Organization 93 percent of the population had access to health care. The devastation of the Gulf War destroyed all that.”

On October 21, 2011 Valerie Amos, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs addressed the press in Beijing, China, on conditions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and she gave a similar press briefing at the United Nations headquarters, which I attended. Ms. Amos stated:

“The background for my visit was the increasingly worrying information coming from the DPRK Government and in-country aid agencies, indicating that over 6 million people are in need of food assistance this year…The average annual food gap is around 1 million tonnes per year, out of a total food requirement of 5.3 million tonnes…Recent figures for children under five years of age show chronic malnutrition levels (i.e. stunting) at 33 percent nationwide and 45 percent in the north of the country. One nurse that I met at the pediatric hospital in HamHung told me the number of malnourished children coming to her hospital had increased 1.5 times (i.e. 50%) only since last year.”

Ms. Amos then stated: “People in the DPRK suffer from a complex set of challenges including chronic poverty and under-development – structural causes with humanitarian implications.”

One must question whether Ms. Amos, in mentioning “structural causes” for this tragic, situation is attempting to blame the Socialist government of North Korea, because at no point in her presentation does Ms. Amos mention the devastating impact of the UN Security Council sanctions inflicted upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 2005, five year prior to the dramatic deterioration in living conditions for “ordinary people” in the DPRK. I asked Ms. Amos about the destructive impact of sanctions upon the lives of citizens of the DPRK, and she did not deny this factor, but she did not discuss this, stating that it is not “within her mandate.”.

On June 12, 2009 at the 6141 meeting, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1874 which contains a particularly ironic passage, and potentially opens an incriminating Pandora’s Box implicating the West in war crimes against North Korea.

“Point 14. Decides to authorize all Member States to, and that all Member States shall, seize and dispose of items the supply, sale, transfer or export of which is prohibited by paragraph 8(a), 8(b) or 8(c) or resolution 1718 or by paragraph 9 or 10 of the resolution that are identified in inspections pursuant to paragraph 11, 12 or 13 in a manner that is not inconsistent with their obligations under applicable Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1540 (2004) as well as any obligations of parties to the NPT, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction of 29 April 1997, and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction of 10 April 1972, and decides further that all States shall cooperate in such efforts.

Therein, to quote Shakespeare, “lies the rub,” or in modern terms, the scandal, the crime. The use of biological weapons was prohibited by the Geneva protocol of 1925.

In the UK Telegraph, 10 June, 2010 was reported the following:

“Did the U.S. Wage Germ Warfare in Korea?” According to Julian Ryall, “In the winter of 1952 Yun Chang Bin recalls, the American bombers flying overhead had become a fact of life…But then, one afternoon in early March, Yun was walking home from school when he saw Chinese troops on their hands and knees in the fields…There were about 30 or 40 of the Chinese volunteer troops spread out across the field…’ Yun, now 72 says. ‘They were wearing masks and gloves and some of them had brooms. They were sweeping up something from the ground and others were picking it up and putting it on a fire. Yun was told: ‘They are catching flies. They came out of the bombs dropped by the American bastards.’ The bombs had opened after hitting the ground and released thousands of insects.

The insects had been spread over a large area of farmland and many escaped the mopping up operation. Disease broke out in the village. ‘I remember the adults calling it enbyo, or heat disease. It was terrible. People developed very high fevers, became delirious….they groaned with the pain and drifted in and out of consciousness. They couldn’t eat anything and just kept asking for cold water…there was little anyone could do for those who had been infected, particularly as no one knew what the illness was. Yun says he was later told it was typhoid. ‘It killed my father. He lost his appetite, then lost all movement in the lower half of his body, so he was not able to move. He died 5 days after first complaining of feeling unwell, aged 52. In his neighborhood more than 30 people from 50 families died.’”

During the Korean War, North Korea and China lost almost a million troops. General MacArthur and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff authorized the use of atomic bomb against the People’s Republic of China. President Truman denied permission. “Historians argue that a nuclear detonation, impossible to conceal from the eyes of the world, would have further inflamed tensions between east and west, but a more insidious form of warfare would have been relatively easy to carry out, and much simpler to dismiss as enemy disinformation.” There are plenty of men and women who support Yun’s claim that North Korean civilians were attacked with American biological weapons that contained flies, beetles, spiders, crickets and other insects carrying various life-threatening pathogens, from plague bacillus to cholera, anthrax, encephalitis and yellow fever.”

“Masataka Mori, Professor of History at Shizuoka University in Japan, who has studied Japan’s World War II biological warfare program, called Unit 731 for many years, “believed that Japan’s biological warfare program was not investigated because ‘Unit 731’s scientists were granted immunity in return for sharing the fruits of their research with the Americans.”

“In Pyongyang “The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum contains exhibitions of civilian victims of the Korean war, children hideously scarred by chemical weapons – in 1951 the US military was using 70,000 gallons of napalm every day. The exhibition also contains an original of the report issued in Peking in 1952 by the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China, set up by the Helsinki-based World Peace Council. Begun after Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai sent a telegram on March 8, 1952 to the Secretariat of the United Nations detailing claims of 448 germ warfare sorties over China by the US Air Force, the Commission’s report was compiled by experts from Sweden, France, Italy, Brazil and Russia, as well as Dr. Joseph Needham, a distinguished British authority on Chinese science.”

Among the report’s specific case studies, one describes more than 700 voles infected with plague found in the Kan-Nan district of China in April 1952, including on rooftops and haystacks, soon after a US aircraft had been seen passing overhead. In another, the following month a young woman is said to have found a straw package containing clams on a hillside close to Dai-Dong, North Korea. She took the shells home and cooked them; by the end of the following day, both the woman and her husband were dead from cholera. A search of the hillside, close to a reservoir turned up several more packages of the infected clams. The Commission stated its belief that the aircraft that had been heard circling before the packages were found had been attempting to drop the clams into the reservoir to infect it. Some of the species of insects found during the conflict had never been seen in this part of Asia before – the illnesses they brought with them were equally unheard of.

‘In light of these and similar facts, the report concluded, the Commission has no option but to conclude that the American Air Force was employing in Korea methods very similar to, if not identical with, those employed to spread plague by the Japanese during the Second World War.”

The use of germ warfare is a violation of the Geneva conventions. Just as The People’s Republic of China, in 1950, desperately needed peace to rebuild the country after the ravages of the Japanese invasion and the decades-long savage crimes committed by the fascist regime of the US supported Chiang Kai-chek, the Korean War began. In the United States, the psychotically anti-communist tyranny of Senator Joseph McCarthy was destroying freedom of thought in America, and destroying millions of lives of U.S. citizens during the Anti-Communist scourge that shamed and devastated America’s so-called democracy. It was obvious and inevitable that the Chinese thought the Americans were using Korea as a base to invade the People’s Republic of China, and return America’s murderous anti-communist puppet, Chiang Kai-chek, to power in China.

The noble widow of China’s first President, Sun Yat-sen, the gifted and idealistic Soong Ching-ling, denounced US intervention in Korea, and exposed America’s use of germ warfare in Korea and North-East China. As a delegate to the Congress of Peoples for Peace in Vienna, alongside Berthold Brecht, Jean Paul Sartre, Ilya Ehrenburg and other illustrious delegates convened from throughout the world, Madame Sun Yat-sen accused the United States of using Korea as a springboard in America’s attempt to destroy the communist government of the People’s Republic of China, in order to restore the hated Chiang Kai-chek to power.

Madame Sun Yat-sen was a paragon of moral and intellectual integrity, and her denunciation of the US use of germ warfare against Korea and China is the most courageous, damning and incriminating testimony exposing the genocidal intent toward North Korea, and toward the People’s Republic of China. Had the US been able to “roll back” communism in China, it would have required a genocide of the largest population in Asia. As they say, it is not over until it is over, and the UN sanctions against tiny North Korea are perpetrating the genocide of the Korean people, one of the few remaining socialist countries in the world. What will be next?

Where is United Nations transparency and accountability? The impact of UN sanctions on the people of the DPRK, currently marked “confidential” and only available to the sanctions committee secretariat in the Department of Political Affairs, should be immediately made public. Failing that, the possibility cannot be excluded that the UN is complicit in genocide.

Valerie Amos’ presentation showed photos of what appeared to be North Korean infants. She informed us that these were not newly born infants, but in fact were at least two years old each, and as a result of malnutrition were unable to develop beyond the stage of infancy. UN sanctions against North Korea are abetting the extermination of the North Korean people. That country has chosen a different way of life, and a different economic system. The west is determined to engineer the failure of their economic system. Where is the famous democracy – freedom of thought, freedom of choice in all of this? In view of its tragic history, as the victimized springboard for the US attempt to attack and destroy the communist government in China, North Korea’s desperate determination to defend itself with nuclear weapons is understandable. After all, in the 1950’s the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and General MacArthur took a remarkably promiscuous, and,
indeed, psychopathic attitude toward the use of atomic bombs as aggressive weapons against Korea and the People’s Republic of China, countries which had never attacked the United States, and clearly had no intention to do so..

It is deplorable that the “international community” refuses to acknowledge all this. It is likely that if the UN made public those “confidential” files, which may conceal multiple scandals and possibly crimes, the “international community” and their collaborative media would be forced to confront the truth about deceptive talk of “democracy” and “human rights.”

The attempt to identify and equate democracy with capitalism and predatory neo-liberalism is an Orwellian prevarication that has been used to manipulate too many people to their own detriment, and for too long..

  “The bomb will not start a chain reaction in the water, converting it all to gas and letting all the ships on all the oceans drop down to the bottom. It will not blow out the bottom of the sea and let all the water run down the hole. It will not destroy gravity. I am not an atomic playboy.”

– Vice Admiral William P. Blandy, Bikini bomb test commander, July 25, 1946 

 When the military scientists of an advanced technological nation deliberately explode their largest nuclear bomb (and 66 others) over Pacific islands and use the opportunities to study the effects of radiation on nearby native people, which group is best described as “savage”?  And what should you call the people who prevent a documentary about these American post-war crimes from reaching a wide audience in the United States?  

 “Nuclear Savage” is a recent documentary film that explores American nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands, 1946-1958, and particularly the secret Project 4.1: an American experiment in exposing Pacific Islanders to overdoses of radiation – deliberate human radiation poisoning – just to get better data on this method of maiming and killing people. The public broadcasting establishment has spent more that two years keeping this story off the air.

The preview reel of “Nuclear Savage” includes a clip with a stentorian newsreel announcer reporting on the American treatment of Marshall Islanders in April 1957, and explaining to his predominantly American audience: 

 “The Marshallese caught by fallout got 175 roentgens of radiation. These are fishing people, savages by our standards, so a cross-section was brought to Chicago for testing. The first was John, the mayor of Rongelap Atoll…. John, as we said, is a savage, but a happy, amenable savage.”

So how serious is 175 roentgens (assuming the measurement is accurate)? In 1950, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommended that human radiation contact should not exceed 0.3 roentgen per week for whole-body exposure [“roentgen” as a measure of radiation dose has since been replaced by “rem” (for “roentgen equivalent man”)]. It’s not clear how long the Marshallese were exposed to radiation levels of 175 roentgens – or on how many occasions – but that amount was more than 580 times what was then considered a safe weekly exposure.  

 Public broadcasting paid for this film – and is now suppressing it 

In 2005, director Adam Horowitz started work on “Nuclear Savage,” his second documentary about the American military use and abuse of the Marshall Islands. Horowitz has a contract with Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), which describes itself as “a national non-profit media arts organization” whose mission “is to support, advance and develop programming that enhances public recognition of and appreciation for Pacific Islander history, culture, and society. In keeping with the mission, PIC provides funding for new programs primarily for public television. We work with independent producers to create and distribute programs about Pacific Islanders that bring new audiences to public television, advance issues and represent diverse voices and points of view not usually seen on public or commercial television.”

Among its efforts to carry out this mission, PIC supported the production of “Nuclear Savage” with $100,000 passed through to Horowitz from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Horowitz delivered a completed, 87-minute version of “Nuclear Savage” in October 2011 – the same month it was nominated for Best Environmental Film at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival. That was also the same month various public broadcasting officials started putting up roadblocks to keep the movie off the air, a delaying tactic that continues into 2014. FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) reported the story in detail as “Nuclear Stalemate” in Extra!

One of the first requests, from Leanne Ferrer at PIC, was for a shorter version at 60 minutes. Rather than have Horowitz cut his film by 27 minutes, PIC hired its own editor and controlled the editing process. Part of Ferrer’s concern reportedly was a sort of politically correct reverse racism, her objection that there was too much of Horowitz in the film and he’s not a Pacific Islander. The shorter version has less of Horowitz. And the PIC web site pitches “Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1” as a “portrait of Pacific Islanders struggling for dignity and survival after decades of intentional radiation poisoning by the U.S. government.”

PIC summarizes the film this way: “Some use the term ‘savage’ to refer to people from primitive cultures, but nuclear experimentation pushed savagery to new levels. In the 1950s, the U.S. conducted 67 atomic and hydrogen bomb tests in the Marshall Islands, vaporizing islands and exposing entire populations to fallout. The islanders on Rongelap received near fatal doses of radiation from one test, and were then moved onto a highly contaminated island to serve as human guinea pigs for 30 years. Filmmaker Adam Jonas Horowitz spent 25 years collecting material – including original footage, archival clips, and unpublished secret documents – to create this unforgettable and ironic portrait of American cynicism, arrogance, and racism. Winner of festival awards in Paris, Chicago and Mexico City.”

PBS canceled scheduled broadcasts without public explanation  

In 2013, PBS World Channel scheduled “Nuclear Savage” for four showings on May 28 and 29 – and PBS executive Tom Davison emailed Horowitz in advance, saying “Congratulations on this airing.” When the airing failed to take place, without explanation from PBS, Horowitz was unable to get a straight answer from Davison, Ferrer, or anyone else in the public broadcasting food chain, although PIC executive Amber McClure wrote with Orwellian deceit: “Your program has not been declined by PBS.”

Outright rejection by PBS is required by Horowitz’s contract in order for him to regain independent control of his film. In December 2013, in his original letter to the editor of the Santa Fe Reporter, Horowitz summed up his experience to date this way:

“PBS ‘World Channel’ executives accepted, scheduled and advertised the show nationally, only to reverse their decision and cancel the show at the last minute. The show was originally accepted and then later rejected by two different branches of PBS, on three different occasions. PBS executives promised to deliver to me, a list of the precise points in the film that they felt represented ‘bias,’ or questions of ‘fact,’ and I promised to work with them to fix any problems. But PBS has still never delivered any specifics whatsoever of their complaints about the film, a film by the way that they have already completely reworked with their own editors.”    

 The project has also had support from private foundations, including the Kindle Project, where: “We support whistleblowers and rabble-rousers. We give grants to peacemakers and seed savers. We make awards to artists and activists. We support people and projects working towards solutions and alternatives to systems in transition. We seek out the strange, the bizarre, the unpolished, the less likely to receive funding. We fund individuals and initiatives that may seem risky or radical to mainstream funding sources….”

Public information is not always well known by the public 

The unsigned “Notes on Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1” on the Kindle Project web site from April 2012 talks about the ways the film was succeeding, despite unofficial quasi-government censorship and beyond “the glamorous festival circuit”:

“Heartbreaking is the most poignant word that could be used to describe this film, and in my conversations with Adam this word has been uttered more than once. I’ve often wondered how he has the stamina for this subject matter; the stamina to expose himself to the worst kinds of atrocities that humans inflict on one another. The people of the Marshall Islands have faced similar catastrophic fates as the victims who underwent Nazi medical tests during WWII. Adam was there to tell the world about it. These days, his perseverance comes from the success of the film – not just from the attention it’s getting from the international circuit, but from what’s happening in the Islands themselves.”  

What was happening in the islands was that “Nuclear Savage” was being shown again and again on local and national television channels. It was shown at the Pacific Island conference of Presidents. People were copying and bootlegging the film across the region, with bootleg copies sometimes turning up on television. And Marshallese activists were using the film to resist U.S. government efforts to re-re-settle some populations back to their home islands that were still dangerously radioactive. 

 “As of now, no one has moved back,” Horowitz told an audience after showing “Nuclear Savage” at the International Uranium Film Festival in Window Rock, Arizona, last December. Despite the American effort to re-re-settle the forced Marshallese refugees on their former home islands, Horowitz said the effort had amounted to “just a bunch of empty houses.” 

Horowitz has been angry about American treatment of the Marshall Islands for a long time. In late 2013 he told a reporter the U.S. “destroyed an entire country that we were not at war with, that we were at peace with. Not only did they blow up all these islands, but they purposely contaminated all these people as human experiments. It’s a very unknown story here.”

The story was classified top secret until the 1990s, when the Clinton administration declassified documents related to nuclear testing that including previously unknown information on the Project 4.1 program to use Pacific Islanders as human guinea pigs for assessing the impact of ionizing radiation. Even the official historian of U.C. nuclear testing, Barton Hacker, who tries to minimize the criminality of Project 4.1, ended up writing in 1994 that an “unfortunate choice of terminology may help explain later charges that the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission] had deliberately exposed the Marshallese to observe the effects. Like the American radium dial painters of the 1920s and the Japanese of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the Marshallese of 1954 inadvertently were to provide otherwise unobtainable data on the human consequences of high radiation exposures.” 

 The U.S. was an occupying power, and effectively still is 

Europeans “discovered” these Pacific Islands in the 1520s (they were named the Marshall Islands after the British explorer John Marshall). In 1874 they became part of the Spanish East Indies. In 1884 Germany bought them as part of German New Guinea. During World War I, the Japanese occupied the islands and later ruled them under a League of Nations mandate. During World War II, the United States took the islands from the Japanese and has effectively occupied them ever since.

In 1946, the U.S. evacuated the entire population of Bikini Atoll (167 people) and logged the first of 23 atomic weapons explosions that have made what’s left of the atoll (part of it was vaporized) a largely uninhabitable radioactive tourist destination [one report says 4-6 “caretakers” live there]. Most of the 167 original residents have died, but their descendants number more than 4,000. A 1975 federal lawsuit (seeking roughly $750 million in compensation promised but not paid by the U.S.) was denied review by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2010, but the effort to make the U.S. provide just compensation continues.

Later in 2010, UNESCO named Bikini a “world heritage site” as a symbol of the “dawn of the nuclear age.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said that Bikini is close to the “safe” radiation level of 15 millirems – but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the “safe” level is really 100 millirems, and the contradiction remains unreconciled.

 In 1947, the United Nations included the Marshall Islands in a Trust Territory controlled by the U.S., whose obligations included the duty to “protect the inhabitants against the loss of their lands and resources.” Later in the year the U.S. evacuated the entire population of Enewetak Atoll, where it would explode another 44 atomic weapons, the last series in 1958.

On March 1, 1954, the U.S. exploded its first deliverable hydrogen bomb that, at 15 megatons, was more than 1,000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb of 1945. The official story, which the U.S. government still defends, is that it was an “accident” that the bomb dumped so much radiation on downwind populations, and that Project 4.1 was initiated after the blast in order to help the victims as well as study them.

The record includes one reference to Project 4.1 prior to March 1 [the government says someone put it there after the fact]. More troubling is the undisputed evidence that the U.S. was aware that the weather had changed, that the wind was blowing toward populated areas, but they went ahead with the test anyway. After the radiation came down like “snow” on Rongelap and other islands, the Navy evacuated American personnel quickly, but left the “happy, amenable savages” to absorb more radiation for another two days.

As early as 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission had characterized the Marshall Islands as “by far the most contaminated place in the world.”

For the victor, justice is only optional, not enforceable  

In 1979, the U.S. allowed the Marshall Islands to become “self-governing,” while the U.S. reserved the sole control of military use and defense of the territory. In 1986 the U.S. granted the Republic of the Marshall Islands “sovereignty” under the Orwellian-named Compact of Free Association, which left the U.S. in military control and free to use Kwajalein Atoll as a missile testing range. Four years later the U.N. ended the “nation’s” Trusteeship status. The CIA estimates that the Marshall Islands’ GDP is $182 million, of which the U.S. provides $70 million in aid payments, according to the State Department. Both the CIA and State Department omit unpaid compensation from their public summaries of the Marshall Islands.

“Nuclear Savage” includes U.S. Ambassador Greta Morris making a wooden public statement of “deep regrets” for the “hardships” the Marshallese have suffered “as a result of the testing program, as well as the accidental downwind injuries caused by one test, Bravo” – which is the official version of the 1954 H-bomb Castle Bravo. Later Greta Morris is asked at a public event to discuss U.S. “government policy” – the ambassador refuses to talk on camera. 

 In March 2012, at an event commemorating the anniversary of the H-bomb test, Marshall Islands foreign minister Phillip Muller called on the U.S. to pay more than $2 billion in awards already made by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, which was created and underwritten by the U.S. The U.S. moral and financial obligation continues to grow, as the Marshall Islands are reportedly seeing a continually rising cancer rate more than half a century later. An the same event, according to Overseas Territories Review:

“U.S. Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Martha Campbell told the event in Majuro Thursday evening that ‘the United States has provided nearly $600 million in compensation and assistance to the Republic of the Marshall Islands to help the affected communities overcome the effects of nuclear testing,’ and noted that the U.S. and Marshall Islands governments had agreed to ‘a full and final settlement of all nuclear-related claims’ in 1983” [an apparent reference to the Compact of Free Association and its side agreements]. 

In 1998, staff from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a comparison study to compare the amount of radioactive Iodine-131 at four different radiation-polluted sites, measured in curies (1,000 curies of Cesium-137, as found in a radiation therapy machine, could produce serious health effects in a direct exposure of just a few minutes). The CDC team reported its finding that the atmospheric release of curies of Iodine-137 at the Hanford nuclear processing plant was 739,000 curies; at Chernobyl the release was 40 million curies; at the Nevada bomb test site, 150 million curies; and in the Marshall Islands, 6.3 billion curies (more that 30 times as much radiation as the other three sites combined).  

 The Republic of the Marshall Islands is ranked #5 in the world among countries with the highest health costs as a percentage of GDP – behind Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tuvalu, and the United States.

The history of the treatment of the radiation victims of the Marshall Islands is essentially a paradigm for the treatment of radiation victims everywhere. The perpetrators of radiation-exposure lose patience with the seemingly endless  effects of their acts and so they tend to abandon all responsibility for them.  So far at least, the Marshall Islands history appears to be foreshadowing Fukushima’s future.

Given the unpalatibility this story might have for an American television audience, it’s little wonder that public broadcasting executives are content to spend public money to keep the public under-informed.

 After-notes:  

“The term “savage” is used to refer to people from primitive cultures, but this documentary shows how savagery reaches new levels with the advent of advanced technology. In the 1950s, the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands, vaporizing islands and exposing entire populations to fallout. The people of Rongelap received near fatal doses of radiation from one of these tests, and were then moved to a highly contaminated island to serve as guinea pigs to test the affects of radiation on humans for almost 30 years, where they suffered from recurring cancers and birth defects that have affected multiple generations. This cynical act by the U.S. government was conducted with such arrogant racism that without incredible archival footage and shocking secret documents, the story would seem unbelievable.”

Film Society Lincoln Center, New York City, description of “Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1”

  “The Republic of the Marshall Islands covers nearly a million square miles of picturesque islands, thriving coral atolls, and crystal clear blue waters …. undoubtedly one of the most interesting places in the world to visit.”  

– Marshall Islands government promotion for tourism in 2014

Capitalism has made good use of the world’s two most prominent Black men. Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela served as the faces that defused Black opposition to the neoliberal agenda. “What mattered in South Africa in the 90s as it does in the U.S. today is a relatively stable environment in which state power is used to realize the interests of national and international capital.”

It was a fitting historical coincidence that during the same week President Obama was in South Africa to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, whose Presidency ushered in the South African turn to neoliberalism, a budget deal was brokered by the Republicans and Democrats that reflected the continued bipartisan commitment to neoliberal policies in the U.S.

Hammered out behind closed doors and presented as a done deal to the House of Representatives, the agreement reflected the agenda and demands of the corporate and financial oligarchy that Congressional representatives do what they were sent to Washington to do – ensure that economic and social policies conform to their interests and priorities.

Voted on and passed by the House without debate, questions from the public or opportunity for adjustments, the Senate dutifully followed, quickly passing the agreement that was then signed into law by President Obama from his holiday vacation retreat.

When the details of the deal began to emerge, it became obvious that the agreement was yet another frontal assault on the working class and the poor that has characterized state policies over the last three decades. For the millions of people knocked to their knees by the economic crisis created by the robber barons of finance capital, the neoliberal fiscal priorities of the budget obliterated any hope that they would get relief from the insecurities and fears of living in an economy that seems aligned against them.

Not only was there no plan to use the power of the state to create or stimulate jobs, but the Christmas gift to the 1.3 million long-term unemployed left out of the deal was the elimination of their unemployment benefits on December 28.

The deal does not raise real revenue by closing tax loopholes for wealthy. It does not restore food stamps cuts for the 47 million receiving this assistance or cuts to Medicare and other vital public services like special education programs, Head Start and nearly $2 billion slashed from housing aid.

And because the deal lacks mechanisms for raising revenues, it places the burden for funding the deal squarely on the backs of working people by requiring federal workers to take another hit on their wages and benefits. This hit to federal workers is in addition to the increase in taxes that all workers experienced in January 2013 when the payroll tax cut was rescinded while the $4 trillion in Bush tax cuts for the wealthy were allowed to continue for another decade.

Furthermore, while poll after poll demonstrated that the public was no longer in favor of costly military adventures around the world and wanted to see a reduction in military expenditures, Congressional representatives still increased military spending by $20 billion.

This is neoliberal democracy at its best – no discussion, no debate, vote and leave town after setting policies that continue the deliberate and massive transfer of wealth from America’s working people to the financial and corporate oligarchy.

Obama, the quintessential neoliberal technocrat, calls these kinds of agreements “compromises.” But Obama’s calls for compromise have always really been a call for class surrender and abrogating the right to resist. His demagoguery masterfully obscures the class interests of the bipartisan elite agenda that underpin legislative agreements and the fact that the interests of working people and the poor are the interests usually compromised in those agreements.

His success as the “commander-in-chief” of demobilization has meant that a broad-based movement to oppose the neoliberal agenda never developed beyond the attempt by the Occupy Wall Street movement. And even though the Occupy movement was repressed by the coordinated efforts of Obama’ Department of Homeland Security, Obama escaped direct criticism. Tragically however, Obama’s success at defusing political opposition has come at a particularly high price for African Americans whose plight as a result of the capitalist implosion of 2008 normally would have generated intense political opposition.

African Americans have experienced Depression-level deprivations with astronomical youth unemployment ranging from 40-60 percent in some urban areas and a real adult unemployment rate of more than 25 percent. Single African American women with children who have lost eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) make up the fastest growing population of the homeless. The older, largely African American urban centers like Newark, New Jersey, the South Side of Chicago and Cleveland are in crisis as a result of the disappearance of jobs, state and local level austerity plans and gentrification policies that are displacing the poor from urban cores across the country.

In Detroit, the majority African American government and public sector workforce was taken over by a white Republican governor who imposed state control over the city and forced it into bankruptcy with the likely loss of pensions and health care for the population of largely African American retirees. But despite these economic and social realities, the Obama effect – the reluctance to demand anything from the Obama administration – has meant that African Americans have not mobilized to secure through progressive social legislation any relief from the unending assaults on their ability to live a dignified life free from fear and social insecurity.

The deteriorating situation for poor and working-class people in the U.S. parallels that in South Africa, which in turn demonstrates the unfortunate similarities between Obama and Nelson Mandela. It is widely understood that no individual except Mandela could have provided the political cover for the ANC to shift from a movement espousing the radical redistribution of economic resources and power from the white minority to the black majority, to a movement that essentially embraced neoliberal policies that would maintain white domination in every aspect of South African life.

And no one but the person of Nelson Mandela could have defused broad-based opposition to the ANC’s turn to neoliberalism during his presidency that saw black unemployment go from 16 percent to over 30 percent; average household income of the black population falling 19 percent and 50 percent of black South Africans earning just 9.7 percent of national income while the richest 20% of the white minority earned 65 percent.

In the U.S., Barack Obama did not usher in neoliberalism. The foundation for the U.S. turn to neoliberalism began in the 1970s under President Carter and was accelerated by the policies of Ronald Reagan in the ‘80s. Therefore, the role that Barack Obama would assume was not to institute neoliberalism but to give it a palatable face. He would be the front man in the effort to stabilize the capitalist crisis in 2008 brought on by unfettered neoliberalism. Similar to the script handed to Mandela and the ANC, Obama’s role, however, was global. He was perfectly cast to adroitly dress up retrograde neoliberal economic, political and military policies on a global scale.

For the masters of international capital, the pigmentation of the skin is of little concern when it comes to their interests and is why they finally forced the recalcitrant Afrikaners to the negotiating table. What mattered in South Africa in the 90s as it does in the U.S. today is a relatively stable environment in which state power is used to realize the interests of national and international capital.

Toward that end, outside of the racial paranoia of the neo-fascist tea-party fringe in the U.S., the black face of Nelson Mandela in the 1990s or Barack Obama today, is not seen as a threat but an advantage, especially when those black faces in high places are committed to policies that will ensure the hegemony of the global capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal, white supremacist minority.

Ajamu Baraka, a long-time human rights activist and organizer, is an editor and contributing columnist for Black Agenda Report. He is currently an Associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington D.C. His web site is www.Ajamubaraka.com.

America’s Imperial Agenda and “Pivot” to Asia

January 10th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Major media editors support what demands condemnation. Wall Street Journal editors are worse than most.

They endorse Washington’s imperial agenda. They believe might makes right. On January 2, they headlined ”Victory in Okinawa,” saying:

“…Japanese authorities will allow the US military to relocate an air base on the strategically significant island of Okinawa.”

“Think of it as a triumph of democratic realism in the face of renewed regional threats.”

America’s presence constitutes the most significant regional threat by far. Not according to Journal editors. They falsely accused China of “saber-rattling.” They want its “aggressive behavior deterred.”

They claimed “nervous officials across Asia” want defense ties with America strengthened. Washington pressures them to do so.

Shinzo Abe’s government is worrisome. It’s reasserting Japanese militarism. It boosted military spending. It did so for the first time in a decade. It stoked tensions with China.

At issue are disputed islands both countries claim. So is Beijing’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Japan has its own. So does America.

Abe is allied with Washington’s East Asian imperial plans. Joint US/Japanese provocations are worrisome.

Journal editors claim Abe “has an opportunity to put Japan at the heart of a community of East Asian democracies.”

Ones they have in mind deplore democratic principles. So does Abe. Stepped up militarism suggests why.

So does his new state secrecy law. It’s a democracy muzzling act. Whistleblowers face prosecution like American ones.

State secrets include Fukushima truth-telling. Exposing government wrongdoing risks imprisonment up to 10 years.

Militarism and anti-democratic measures are very much linked. Critics fear Japan is returning to its bad old days.

Its earlier imperial policy used the Peace Preservation Act to imprison political opponents. Stepped up militarism combined with repressive legislation should give all regional neighbors pause for concern.

Increased US/Japanese militarism threatens world peace. East Asia may become a major flashpoint.

The US-Japan Security Treaty is longstanding. It dates from 1952. In 1960, it was amended. It stipulates that any attack on either country requires a joint response.

It authorizes American military bases. Building a new one in Okinawa enrages local residents.

They want no part of it. More on this below. Defense Secretary Hagel called Japan’s decision “the most significant milestone” in realigning US regional forces.”

It’s “absolutely critical to the United States’ ongoing rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region,” he stressed.

It’s worrisome US imperial outreach. It’s part of Obama’s Asia pivot. It’s building up America’s regional presence.

It’s advancing its military footprint. It’s challenging China and Russia more aggressively. It’s doing it in their part of the world.

It’s threatening world peace in the process. It gives pause to what US militarists plan. In his book “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic,” Chalmers Johnson said:

“Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies.”

“America’s version of the colony is the military base; and by following the changing politics of global basing, one can learn much about our ever more all-encompassing imperial footprint and the militarism that grows with it.”

America’s empire of bases threatens world peace and security. Their presence harms host countries.

Environmental damage is extensive. Toxic pollution harms residents. Round-the-clock noise levels are intolerable.

Valued public land is used. US military personnel violate local laws. They’re disruptive. They’re largely unaccountable under so-called status of forces agreements (SOFAs).

Other nations don’t get basing rights in America. Pentagon commanders demand it abroad. Doing so reflects imperial arrogance.

Residents have no say. US policy matters more. It runs roughshod over local rights.

Okinawa is Japan’s southern-most prefecture. It’s the poorest. It’s Japan’s Puerto Rico.

It’s home to dozens of US military bases. They’ve been built there since 1945. Okinawa is US occupied territory. In “Nemesis,” Johnson explained.

Between 1998 and 2004 alone, US military personnel were involved in 2,024 reported crimes or accidents. One guilty soldier alone was court-martialed.

Another 318 were administratively disciplined. All others were absolved. Their crimes included robberies, rapes, reckless homicide, assaults and much more.

None of this is tolerated back home. De facto SOFA immunity lets them get away with crimes too great to ignore.

Local residents are understandably furious. Okinawans more than most others. US forces infest their homeland. They control its most valued territory.

They take full advantage. Johnson knew Okinawa firsthand. During the Korean War, he was stationed there. He was a US Navy officer.

He co-wrote and edited “Okinawa: Cold War Island.” Post-WW II, America occupied Japan. It wrote its constitution. It greatly influences Japanese policy today.

It’s well dug in for the long haul. It maintains nearly 90 large and smaller army, air force, and naval installations.

Okinawa hosts over three dozen. It’s home for over half the Pentagon’s 50,000 US forces stationed in Japan.

It’s a small sliver of land. It’s around the size of a large US city. It’s easy understanding why Okinawans hate Americans. They dominate island life. They do it abusively.

They practically pushed residents into the Pacific. They did it to facilitate occupation. Nearly seven decades after WW II ended, it continues.

SOFA-related criminal law compounds local outrage. It states:

“The custody of an accused member of the United States armed forces or the civilian component (shall) remain with the United States until he is charged.”

Japanese authorities are effectively denied access to criminal suspects. It remains so unless or until they’re indicted.

Local prosecutors are reluctant to press charges. Often they can’t get enough evidence to do so. US authorities obstruct them. Crimes go unpunished.

A September 1995 incident affected US/Japanese relations at the time. Two marines abducted a 12-year-old Japanese girl.

They beat her. They raped her. They left her stranded alone on a beach. They returned to their base in a rented car.

Around 85,000 Okinawans protested. They demanded their grievances be addressed. US military authorities refused to turn over suspects to Japanese police custody.

America runs amok when it arrives. It does so with impunity. Local laws and customs mean nothing.

US military and civilian personnel get away with murders, robberies, rapes, drunken brawling, muggings, drug violations, arson, and other crimes.

Local residents have no defense. Their rights don’t matter. Okinawans suffered for decades.

Women and girls endure most abuse. Their own authorities don’t protect them. US military forces are trained to commit violence.

They take full advantage. Many do when they return home. There accountability matters. Abroad it’s anything goes.

In countries with non-white populations, abuses are especially egregious. Okinawan women and girls bear testimony to America’s lawless presence.

Building a new Henoko Bay, Nago City base outrages northern Okinawan residents where it’s planned.

Urashima Etsuko is an area resident. She’s joint representative for the “Association of the 10 Districts North of Futami Who Do Not Want a Base.”

She’s general secretary of the “Association of Women Supporting the Inamine City Government.” It’s called the “Iinagu Association.” On November 25, she wrote at length to Nago City’s Mayor Susumu Inamine. In part she said:

“For 17 years, without letup, I have been opposing the construction of a base at Henoko.”

Nago residents held a December 1997 referendum. It showed their resolve. They strongly oppose base construction.

“Despite this,” said Etsuko, “our district has been riven by ‘carrot and stick’ policies carried out by a government determined to foist the base upon us come what may…”

Parents and children are divided. So are family members and relatives. Once warm human relations are ruptured.

“In inverse proportion to the new facilities built with Ministry of Defense subsidy, local small-scale businesses lapsed into bankruptcy and Nago’s remoteness and backwardness deepened,” said Etsuko.

“(W)e adults must bequeath to our children and grandchildren… nature and peace.”

“We cannot help being consumed with anxiety (about the harm) reclamation of the bay and construction of a base” will cause local residents.

An ” ‘All-Okinawan’ ‘No’ to base construction movement has been plainly established.”

“(W)e find it hard to contain our deep anger that the government has ignored these developments…”

“(It) brush(ed) them aside and (intends) proceeding by force to the point of requesting that the Governor authorize reclamation works…”

Doing so “is the final stage preparatory to construction.” It’ll be hugely destructive to local residents.

Plans are for Nago to replace US Marine Air Station Futenma. Its forces would be reduced from 18,000 to 10,000. Others will be transferred to Guam and Australia.

Pentagon commanders can increase, reduce or transfer forces in any amounts freely as they wish. Given Obama’s Asia pivot, expect greater numbers in that part of the world ahead.

Okinawans will bear the burden of domiciling many. Years of protests were in vain. Abe’s militarism allies him with Washington’s regional plans.

China and Russia have reason for concern. Okinawan Governor Hirokazu Nakaima approved Nago’s construction. Abe pressure forced his compliance.

Outrageously he claimed “(t)he Abe administration has shown more consideration for Okinawa than any previous administration.” He referred to China, adding:

“Regardless of the will of the Okinawan people, the tension is heightening on (the) international front. Okinawa needs to play a certain role for that.”

It’s a launching pad for US forces. America’s presence is strongly resented. It’s an affront to Okinawan sovereignty.

It’s harmed residents for nearly seven decades. It remains entrenched longterm.

Local concerns don’t matter. Dominating East Asia is longstanding US policy. Obama’s Asia pivot prioritizes it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/americas-imperial-agenda/

 

It’s Never to Protect Us From Bad Guys

No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they’re doing it.

For example, the U.S. Supreme Court noted in Stanford v. Texas (1965):

While the Fourth Amendment [of the U.S. Constitution] was most immediately the product of contemporary revulsion against a regime of writs of assistance, its roots go far deeper. Its adoption in the Constitution of this new Nation reflected the culmination in England a few years earlier of a struggle against oppression which had endured for centuries. The story of that struggle has been fully chronicled in the pages of this Court’s reports, and it would be a needless exercise in pedantry to review again the detailed history of the use of general warrants as instruments of oppression from the time of the Tudors, through the Star Chamber, the Long Parliament, the Restoration, and beyond.

What is significant to note is that this history is largely a history of conflict between the Crown and the press. It was in enforcing the laws licensing the publication of literature and, later, in prosecutions for seditious libel, that general warrants were systematically used in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. In Tudor England, officers of the Crown were given roving commissions to search where they pleased in order to suppress and destroy the literature of dissent, both Catholic and Puritan. In later years, warrants were sometimes more specific in content, but they typically authorized of all persons connected of the premises of all persons connected with the publication of a particular libel, or the arrest and seizure of all the papers of a named person thought to be connected with a libel.

By “libel”, the court is referring to a critique of the British government  which the King or his ministers didn’t like … they would label such criticism “libel” and then seize all of the author’s papers.

The Supreme Court provided interesting historical details in the case of Marcus v. Search Warrant(1961):

The use by government of the power of search and seizure as an adjunct to a system for the suppression of objectionable publications … was a principal instrument for the enforcement of the Tudor licensing system. The Stationers’ Company was incorporated in 1557 to help implement that system, and was empowered

“to make search whenever it shall please them in any place, shop, house, chamber, or building or any printer, binder or bookseller whatever within our kingdom of England or the dominions of the same of or for any books or things printed, or to be printed, and to seize, take hold, burn, or turn to the proper use of the aforesaid community, all and several those books and things which are or shall be printed contrary to the form of any statute, act, or proclamation, made or to be made. . . .

An order of counsel confirmed and expanded the Company’s power in 1566,  and the Star Chamber reaffirmed it in 1586 by a decree

“That it shall be lawful for the wardens of the said Company for the time being or any two of the said Company thereto deputed by the said wardens, to make search in all workhouses, shops, warehouses of printers, booksellers, bookbinders, or where they shall have reasonable cause of suspicion, and all books [etc.] . . . contrary to . . . these present ordinances to stay and take to her Majesty’s use. . . . ”

Books thus seized were taken to Stationers’ Hall where they were inspected by ecclesiastical officers, who decided whether they should be burnt. These powers were exercised under the Tudor censorship to suppress both Catholic and Puritan dissenting literature.

Each succeeding regime during turbulent Seventeenth Century England used the search and seizure power to suppress publications. James I commissioned the ecclesiastical judges comprising the Court of High Commission

“to enquire and search for . . . all heretical, schismatical and seditious books, libels, and writings, and all other books, pamphlets and portraitures offensive to the state or set forth without sufficient and lawful authority in that behalf, . . . and the same books [etc.] and their printing presses themselves likewise to seize and so to order and dispose of them . . . as they may not after serve or be employed for any such unlawful use. . . .”

The Star Chamber decree of 1637, reenacting the requirement that all books be licensed, continued the broad powers of the Stationers’ Company to enforce the licensing laws.  During the political overturn of the 1640′s, Parliament on several occasions asserted the necessity of a broad search and seizure power to control printing. Thus, an order of 1648 gave power to the searchers

“to search in any house or place where there is just cause of suspicion that Presses are kept and employed in the printing of Scandalous and lying Pamphlets, . . . [and] to seize such scandalous and lying pamphlets as they find upon search. . . .”

The Restoration brought a new licensing act in 1662. Under its authority, “messengers of the press” operated under the secretaries of state, who issued executive warrants for the seizure of persons and papers. These warrants, while sometimes specific in content, often gave the most general discretionary authority. For example, a warrant to Roger L’Estrange, the Surveyor of the Press, empowered him to “seize all seditious books and libels and to apprehend the authors, contrivers, printers, publishers, and dispersers of them,” and to

search any house, shop, printing room, chamber, warehouse, etc. for seditious, scandalous or unlicensed pictures, books, or papers, to bring away or deface the same, and the letter press, taking away all the copies. . . .]”

***

Although increasingly attacked, the licensing system was continued in effect for a time even after the Revolution of 1688, and executive warrants continued to issue for the search for and seizure of offending books. The Stationers’ Company was also ordered

“to make often and diligent searches in all such places you or any of you shall know or have any probable reason to suspect, and to seize all unlicensed, scandalous books and pamphlets. . . .”

And even when the device of prosecution for seditious libel replaced licensing as the principal governmental control of the press,  it too was enforced with the aid of general warrants — authorizing either the arrest of all persons connected with the publication of a particular libel and the search of their premises or the seizure of all the papers of a named person alleged to be connected with the publication of a libel.

And see this.

General warrants were largely declared illegal in Britain in 1765.  But the British continued to use general warrants in the American colonies.  In fact, the Revolutionary War was largely launched to stop the use of general warrants in the colonies.  King George gave various excuses of why general warrants were needed for the public good, of course … but such excuses were all hollow.

The New York Review of Books notes that the American government did not start to conduct mass surveillance against the American people until long after the Revolutionary War ended … but once started, the purpose was to crush dissent:

In the United States, political spying by the federal government began in the early part of the twentieth century, with the creation of the Bureau of Investigation in the Department of Justice on July 1, 1908. In more than one sense, the new agency was a descendant of the surveillance practices developed in France a century earlier, since it was initiated by US Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte, a great nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, who created it during a Congressional recess. Its establishment was denounced by Congressman Walter Smith of Iowa, who argued that “No general system of spying upon and espionage of the people, such as has prevailed in Russia, in France under the Empire, and at one time in Ireland, should be allowed to grow up.”

Nonetheless, the new Bureau became deeply engaged in political surveillance during World War I when federal authorities sought to gather information on those opposing American entry into the war and those opposing the draft. As a result of this surveillance, many hundreds of people were prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Sedition Act for the peaceful expression of opinion about the war and the draft.

But it was during the Vietnam War that political surveillance in the United States reached its peak. Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and, to an even greater extent, Richard Nixon, there was a systematic effort by various agencies, including the United States Army, to gather information on those involved in anti-war protests. Millions of Americans took part in such protests and the federal government—as well as many state and local agencies—gathered enormous amounts of information on them. Here are just three of the numerous examples of political surveillance in that era:

  • In the 1960s in Rochester, New York, the local police department launched Operation SAFE (Scout Awareness for Emergency). It involved twenty thousand boy scouts living in the vicinity of Rochester. They got identification cards marked with their thumb prints. On the cards were the telephone numbers of the local police and the FBI. The scouts participating in the program were given a list of suspicious activities that they were to report.
  • In 1969, the FBI learned that one of the sponsors of an anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC, was a New York City-based organization, the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade Committee, that chartered buses to take protesters to the event. The FBI visited the bank where the organization maintained its account to get photocopies of the checks written to reserve places on the buses and, thereby, to identify participants in the demonstration. One of the other federal agencies given the information by the FBI was the Internal Revenue Service.

***

The National Security Agency was involved in the domestic political surveillance of that era as well. Decades before the Internet, under the direction of President Nixon, the NSA made arrangements with the major communications firms of the time such as RCA Global and Western Union to obtain copies of telegrams. When the matter came before the courts, the Nixon Administration argued that the president had inherent authority to protect the country against subversion. In a unanimous decision in 1972, however, the US Supreme Court rejected the claim that the president had the authority to disregard the requirement of the Fourth Amendment for a judicial warrant.

***

Much of the political surveillance of the 1960s and the 1970s and of the period going back to World War I consisted in efforts to identifyorganizations that were critical of government policies, or that were proponents of various causes the government didn’t like, and to gather information on their adherents. It was not always clear how this information was used. As best it is possible to establish, the main use was to block some of those who were identified with certain causes from obtaining public employment or some kinds of private employment. Those who were victimized in this way rarely discovered the reason they had been excluded.

Efforts to protect civil liberties during that era eventually led to the destruction of many of these records, sometimes after those whose activities were monitored were given an opportunity to examine them. In many cases, this prevented surveillance records from being used to harm those who were spied on. Yet great vigilance by organizations such as the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought a large number of court cases challenging political surveillance, was required to safeguard rights. The collection of data concerning the activities of US citizens did not take place for benign purposes.

***

Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a program known as COINTELPRO, for Counter Intelligence Program. Its purpose was to interfere with the activities of the organizations and individuals who were its targets or, in the words of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” them. The first target was the Communist Party of the United States, but subsequent targets ranged from the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference to organizations espousing women’s rights to right wing organizations such as the National States Rights Party.

A well-known example of COINTELPRO was the FBI’s planting in 1964 of false documents about William Albertson, a long-time Communist Party official, that persuaded the Communist Party that Albertson was an FBI informant. Amid major publicity, Albertson was expelled from the party, lost all his friends, and was fired from his job. Until his death in an automobile accident in 1972, he tried to prove that he was not a snitch, but the case was not resolved until 1989, when the FBI agreed to payAlbertson’s widow $170,000 to settle her lawsuit against the government.

COINTELPRO was eventually halted by J. Edgar Hoover after activists broke into a small FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, in 1971, and released stolen documents about the program to the press. The lesson of COINTELPRO is that any government agency that is able to gather information through political surveillance will be tempted to use that information. After a time, the passive accumulation of data may seem insufficient and it may be used aggressively. This may take place long after the information is initially collected and may involve officials who had nothing to do with the original decision to engage in surveillance.

Indeed, during the Vietnam war, the NSA spied on Senator Frank Church because of his criticism of the Vietnam War. The NSA also spied on Senator Howard Baker.

Senator Church – the head of a congressional committee investigating Cointelpro – warned in 1975:

[NSA's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.  [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

This is, in fact, what’s happened …

Initially, American constitutional law experts say that the NSA is doing exactly the same thing to the American people today which King George did to the Colonists … using “general warrant” type spying.

And it is clear that the government is using its massive spy programs in order to track those who question government policies. See thisthisthis  and this.

Todd Gitlin – chair of the PhD program in communications at Columbia University, and a professor of journalism and sociology -  notes:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) has unearthed documents showing that, in 2011 and 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies were busy surveilling and worrying about a good number of Occupy groups — during the very time that they were missing actual warnings about actual terrorist actions.

From its beginnings, the Occupy movement was of considerable interest to the DHS, the FBI, and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, while true terrorists were slipping past the nets they cast in the wrong places.  In the fall of 2011, the DHS specifically asked its regional affiliates to report on “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations, in addition to reporting on domestic terrorist acts and ‘significant criminal activity.’”

Aware that Occupy was overwhelmingly peaceful, the federally funded Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), one of 77 coordination centers known generically as “fusion centers,” was busy monitoring Occupy Boston daily.  As the investigative journalist Michael Isikoff recently reported, they were not only tracking Occupy-related Facebook pages and websites but “writing reports on the movement’s potential impact on ‘commercial and financial sector assets.’”

It was in this period that the FBI received the second of two Russian police warnings about the extremist Islamist activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the future Boston Marathon bomber.  That city’s police commissioner later testified that the federal authorities did not pass any information at all about the Tsarnaev brothers on to him, though there’s no point in letting the Boston police off the hook either.  The ACLU has uncovered documents showing that, during the same period, they were paying close attention to the internal workings of…Code Pink and Veterans for Peace.

***

In Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, intelligence was not only pooled among public law enforcement agencies, but shared with private corporations — and vice versa.

Nationally, in 2011, the FBI and DHS were, in the words of Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, “treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.”  Last December using FOIA, PCJF obtained 112 pages of documents (heavily redacted) revealing a good deal of evidence for what might otherwise seem like an outlandish charge: that federal authorities were, in Verheyden-Hilliard’s words, “functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”  Consider these examples from PCJF’s summary of federal agencies working directly not only with local authorities but on behalf of the private sector:

• “As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldn’t start for another month. By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest.”

• “The FBI in Albany and the Syracuse Joint Terrorism Task Force disseminated information to… [22] campus police officials… A representative of the State University of New York at Oswego contacted the FBI for information on the OWS protests and reported to the FBI on the SUNY-Oswego Occupy encampment made up of students and professors.”

• An entity called the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector,” sent around information regarding Occupy protests at West Coast ports [on Nov. 2, 2011] to “raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.” The DSAC report contained “a ‘handling notice’ that the information is ‘meant for use primarily within the corporate security community. Such messages shall not be released in either written or oral form to the media, the general public or other personnel…’ Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) reported to DSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor.”

• DSAC gave tips to its corporate clients on “civil unrest,” which it defined as running the gamut from “small, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrations and rioting.” ***

• The FBI in Anchorage, Jacksonville, Tampa, Richmond, Memphis, Milwaukee, and Birmingham also gathered information and briefed local officials on wholly peaceful Occupy activities.

• In Jackson, Mississippi, FBI agents “attended a meeting with the Bank Security Group in Biloxi, MS with multiple private banks and the Biloxi Police Department, in which they discussed an announced protest for ‘National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day’ on December 7, 2011.”  Also in Jackson, “the Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a ‘Counterterrorism Preparedness’ alert” that, despite heavy redactions, notes the need to ‘document…the Occupy Wall Street Movement.’”

***

In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee learned … that the Tennessee Fusion Center was “highlighting on its website map of ‘Terrorism Events and Other Suspicious Activity’ a recent ACLU-TN letter to school superintendents.  The letter encourages schools to be supportive of all religious beliefs during the holiday season.”

***

Consider an “intelligence report” from the North Central Texas fusion center, which in a 2009 “Prevention Awareness Bulletin” described, in the ACLU’s words, “a purportedconspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, a former U.S. Congresswoman, the U.S. Treasury Department, and hip hop bands to spread tolerance in the United States, which would ‘provide an environment for terrorist organizations to flourish.’”

***

And those Virginia and Texas fusion centers were hardly alone in expanding the definition of “terrorist” to fit just about anyone who might oppose government policies.  According to a 2010 report in the Los Angeles Times, the Justice Department Inspector General found that “FBI agents improperly opened investigations into Greenpeace and several other domestic advocacy groups after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and put the names of some of their members on terrorist watch lists based on evidence that turned out to be ‘factually weak.’”  The Inspector General called “troubling” what the Los Angeles Times described as “singling out some of the domestic groups for investigations that lasted up to five years, and were extended ‘without adequate basis.’

Subsequently, the FBI continued to maintain investigative files on groups like Greenpeace, the Catholic Worker, and the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, cases where (in the politely put words of the Inspector General’s report) “there was little indication of any possible federal crimes… In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘acts of terrorism’ classification.”

***

In Pittsburgh, on the day after Thanksgiving 2002 (“a slow work day” in the Justice Department Inspector General’s estimation), a rookie FBI agent was outfitted with a camera, sent to an antiwar rally, and told to look for terrorism suspects.  The “possibility that any useful information would result from this make-work assignment was remote,” the report added drily.

“The agent was unable to identify any terrorism subjects at the event, but he photographed a woman in order to have something to show his supervisor.  He told us he had spoken to a woman leafletter at the rally who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, and that she was probably the person he photographed.”

The sequel was not quite so droll.  The Inspector General found that FBI officials, including their chief lawyer in Pittsburgh, manufactured postdated “routing slips” and the rest of a phony paper trail to justify this surveillance retroactively.

Moreover, at least one fusion center has involved military intelligence in civilian law enforcement.  In 2009, a military operative from Fort Lewis, Washington, worked undercover collecting information on peace groups in the Northwest.  In fact, he helped run the Port Militarization Resistance group’s Listserv.  Once uncovered, he told activists there were others doing similar work in the Army.  How much the military spies on American citizens is unknown and, at the moment at least, unknowable.

Do we hear an echo from the abyss of the counterintelligence programs of the 1960s and 1970s, when FBI memos — I have some in my own heavily redacted files obtained through an FOIA request — were routinely copied to military intelligence units?  Then, too, military intelligence operatives spied on activists who violated no laws, were not suspected of violating laws, and had they violated laws, would not have been under military jurisdiction in any case.  During those years, more than 1,500 Army intelligence agents in plain clothes were spying, undercover, on domestic political groups (according to Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics, 1967-70, an unpublished dissertation by former Army intelligence captain Christopher H. Pyle). They posed as students, sometimes growing long hair and beards for the purpose, or as reporters and camera crews.  They recorded speeches and conversations on concealed tape recorders. The Army lied about their purposes, claiming they were interested solely in “civil disturbance planning.”

Yes, we hear echoes to the Cointelpro program of the 60s and 70s … as well as King George’s General Warrants to the Colonies … and the Star Chamber of 15th century England.

Because – whatever governments may say – mass surveillance is always used to crush dissent.

Notes:

1. Spying is also aimed at keeping politicians in check.

2. The East German Stasi obviously used mass surveillance to crush dissent and keep it’s officials in check … and falsely claimed that spying was necessary to protect people against vague threats.   But poking holes in the excuses of a communist tyranny is too easy.  The focus of this essay is to show that the British and American governments have used this same cynical ruse for over 500 years.

3. For ease of reading, we deleted the footnotes from the two Supreme Court opinions

Obama’s Phony Campaign Against Inequality

January 10th, 2014 by Andre Damon

President Obama, announcing his so-called “economic promise zone” initiative in a White House speech on Thursday, gave a performance that expressed the cynical and contemptuous attitude of his administration and the entire ruling class to the plight of working people in America.

The event was staged as part of the administration’s supposed campaign against inequality, whose entire substance, besides the “promise zones,” consists of a call to restore long-term unemployment benefits and enact a small increase in the minimum wage.

Speaking in the midst of the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, with the poverty rate rising and social inequality at historic levels, Obama made no attempt to present an objective picture of the social crisis in America. He offered no statistics on poverty, unemployment, hunger or the vast chasm separating the financial elite from the rest of the population. Nor did he attempt to explain why the social crisis had worsened during his tenure.

His remarks were perfunctory, off-the-cuff and punctuated by jokes. He gave no concrete details about the five “promise zones” he was announcing—in impoverished neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Antonio, and in Southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

He stood in front of a group of students from the Harlem Children’s Zone, a charter school funded by tens of millions of dollars in corporate donations that has become a model for the assault on public education being spearheaded by the Obama administration. The school’s CEO, Geoffrey Canada, a leading figure in the movement to convert public schools to charters, appeared in the 2010 documentary Waiting for “Superman”, which blamed public school teachers and principals for the problems caused by poverty and lack of funding. Obama singled out Canada as an inspiration for his “promise zones.”

Obama noted the presence of the Republican senators from Kentucky, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell. Paul, who is ranked as one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress by the Heritage Action Network, told Fox News that Obama’s “promise zones” resembled his own proposal to set up low-tax “economic freedom zones” throughout the US. “They say the sincerest form of flattery is in imitation,” Paul quipped.

Obama avoided any criticism of the corporate-financial elite, which has exploited the economic crisis to drive down wages, increase speedup and generate record profits and CEO pay. He went out of his way to make clear that his initiative was business-friendly. “This month I’m going to host CEOs here at the White House, not once, but twice,” he said.

The speech came a day after the White House published a fact sheet on its “promise zones” program, which made clear that the initiative was nothing more than a repackaging of various pro-business, anti-public education programs. The real content of the proposal is to offer business tax cuts in each of the zones. The fact sheet concluded by saying, “President Obama has proposed, and called on Congress to act, to cut taxes on hiring and investment in areas designated as Promise Zones… to attract businesses and create jobs.”

Obama opened his remarks by invoking Lyndon Johnson’s January 1964 call for the eradication of poverty and joblessness, noting, “It is now fifty years since President Johnson proclaimed an unconditional war on poverty in America.” At the time, Johnson called the elimination of poverty a test of the capitalist system. Yet the current president said nothing about the failure of that system to come anywhere near putting an end to poverty.

And while Johnson’s Great Society, extending the social reforms of Roosevelt’s New Deal, enacted government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps that significantly reduced poverty, Obama signaled the purely token character of his proposals by declaring that “government doesn’t have all the answers”, “no amount of money” can solve social problems, and the best that can be done is to “make a difference.”

Obama gave his speech the same day the Census Bureau reported that in the first three years of his presidency, nearly one third of the country’s population, 31.6 percent, fell below the federal poverty line for at least two months.

He spoke even as his administration was intensifying the austerity policies that had inflicted pain and deprivation on tens of millions of Americans. It was widely reported Thursday that congressional Democrats had agreed to cut $9 billion in food stamp benefits on top of the $5 billion cut that was implemented last November.

The White House’s rhetorical pivot on inequality coincides with an administration-backed budget deal that leaves in place over a trillion dollars in sequester cuts while slashing federal workers’ retirement benefits and imposing regressive consumption taxes.

The administration has backed the plans of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to use bankruptcy to slash the retirement and health benefits of city workers and sell off the artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Meanwhile, the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, is being exposed every day as a scam to slash health benefits for tens of millions of Americans and boost the profits of insurance and health industry corporations. It is the first step in an assault on the key social programs—Social Security and Medicare—that Obama cynically invokes for public consumption, even as he plots with the Republicans to cut and ultimately privatize.

The declared focus on social inequality is a marketing strategy aimed at rehabilitating the image of the Obama administration amid growing popular anger over its right-wing social policies, its illegal domestic spying programs, and its foreign policy of militarism and war. The phony campaign is being coordinated with the trade unions, in conjunction with their fast food protests and lobbying for a rise in the minimum wage, backed by the allies of the union bureaucracy in liberal and pseudo-left circles.

By means of this ruse, the Democrats hope to bolster their chances in the 2014 midterm elections and hold back the growth of working class opposition.

But no amount of spin and deceit can conceal the failure of the capitalist system. The fifty years since the announcement of the War on Poverty have demonstrated that poverty, unemployment and exploitation are intrinsic to the profit system.

Today it is becoming ever more clear that the social gains of the past cannot be defended except in a struggle to put an end to this system and replace it with one based on social need, not corporate profit and the accumulation of private wealth by a parasitic elite. The urgent task is the building of a mass socialist movement of the working class.

Israel and the Drone Wars

January 10th, 2014 by Chris Cole

Drone Wars UK is today publishing a new briefing focusing on the use of drones by Israel, the only other country besides the US and the UK to have used armed drones.

Israel and the Drone Wars: Examining Israel’s production, use and proliferation of UAVs’ scrutinizes Israel’s 40 years of military drone use, the devastating effects of drone operations in Gaza, and Israel’s burgeoning drone exports.

While its drone use is shrouded in secrecy – Israel has never publicly admitted to the use of armed drones – DWUK’s research pieces together the evidence and describes the human cost to Palestinians living in what campaigners have characterized as a ‘test zone’ for drone warfare. Nader Elkhuzundar, for example, a Palestinian from Gaza interviewed by Drone Wars UK, tells of the fear instilled by the constant noise of drones flying overhead.

Israel and the Drone Wars also traces Israel’s drone proliferation and reveals that Israel has exported drones or drone technology to many more countries than previously thought.

Mary Dobbing, co-author of the report says “Our research shows about 50 of the 76 countries known to have some form of military UAV capability have received drones or drone technology from Israel. Scratch any drone you’ll likely find Israeli technology underneath.”

Click to download

Global Warming Media Propaganda

January 10th, 2014 by Andrew McKillop

It’s like we’re living in ancient pagan Greece or something.

Only yesterday, British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that the storms and floods causing havoc across his country were because climate change. Yes, that old chestnut.

It’s one things for politicians to try and leverage public approval by flying the flimsy climate banner. You expect that. But no such leeway should be given to the media, as it is supposedly their job to inform the masses of facts, not mythologies.

Politically Correct Science

Let’s trace this tragic tale to the beginning. Seemingly decades ago, not 13 years, the UK Independent newspaper started the new century with the goal of becoming a world leader in government-approved, corporate-friendly global warming propaganda. Its chief warmist and green scribe, Charles Onians, fired the first climate salvo in a March 20, 2000, in this leading article:

“Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain’s culture”.

The Independent was soon followed by other UK papers, US papers, and European papers, and their broadcast media, in a permanent propaganda blitz to take “the warming thing” to the ultimate limits of childlike hysteria and stark distortion using the uncertain science of “the CO2 hypothesis”. The propaganda onslaught was stamped with the “warmist” hallmark of elite condescension and smug conviction that ordinary mortals are much too stupid to understand this “scientifically proven” crisis.

In what would become a typical example of “warmist” genre material, Charles Onians in 2000 cited David Viner, a researcher at the later-infamous climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia – the Home of the Hockey Stick – who told the unscientific masses that very soon “winter snowfall will become a very rare and exciting event”. And as for homeless sleeping in the gutter, not so many would die in the night – posing an existential crisis for English Middle Class Morality! By 2006, the UK Independent was regularly carrying junk science hysteria from ‘Gaia” author James Lovelock, a key example being his claim that “Billions of persons will die before the end of the century from global warming”. Since 2012, ‘Jim’ Lovelock has completely retracted and denied his warmist convictions, and tiptoed away from the train wreck of elite propaganda.

Always Go Further

Al Gore, chief promoter of the global warming scam with Rajendra Pachauri, always went further. Their propaganda onslaught mixed and mingled pure egoism with a frenetic drive to make millions for themselves and enrich their fellow conspirators, through an ultra-tenacious promotion of  any “carbon-linked” cash-grubbing scheme. Showing what the business press calls “initiative and drive”, they promoted anything ranging from investment and trading scams, through government tax and corporate subsidy scams, to lurid books, films and TV documentaries.


THE CHURCH OF CLIMATE CHANGE: Gore and Pachauri guide the mass cult off their intellectual cliff.

Al Gore repeatedly said, in print, “the Arctic will be ice free by 2013”. Gore made this claim in print in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

And it didn’t happen. In fact the Arctic ice cap’s surface area increased by more than 25% in 2012-2013. The much-larger Antarctic ice cap also increased, by about 5% using NASA data. NASA, which is a fully warmist institution peddling the “CO2 hypothesis”, has been forced to admit the Antarctic ice sheet is now at its largest since it started regular satellite monitoring in 1979.

Media spending on the permanent propaganda campaign has been massive, and a fantastic misappropriation of public money where this concerns state-owned media. Obsessionally and expensively filmed summertime-only shots of polar ice melting – which the “climate correct” media has stuffed down our throats for a decade – are however now likely to be retreating to where they belong. To the trashcan of history and to empty film theaters, and late night TV doc boredom for the almost-asleep.

The warmists set up and tirelessly milked the global warming cash cow for all it could yield, but now it is Game Over time. Their great scientific scam may now be what it always scientifically was, a Cuckoo Theory which evicted all other possible theories of why the climate changes.

The Latecomers and Still Hopefuls

As plenty of writers including myself have explained plenty of times, the “CO2 theory” is scientific folk history and was junkscience from the moment it started – in about 1795 with Joseph Priestley and his lurid vision of Phlogiston Terror. To him worse than Al-Qaeda or mustard gas in the trenches of World War I, Priestley thought “phlogiston” could cause a mass dieoff of English industrial workers exposed to woodburning and coalburning fumes!  But nobody had to believe it.

Today, only the most primitive minded and witless “warmists” soldier along, spouting idiocies in the hope the under-informed and the lazyminded will continue to buy their junkscience.

If all goes according to plan, Hollywood icon Leonardo DiCaprio will blast into space on the maiden voyage of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic “spaceship” this year. Incredibly enough, Messrs. Branson and DiCaprio style themselves as environmentalist celebrities with the elite mission of warning us there is a “coming ecological catastrophe” if we fail to address the carbon crisis.

Simply because they have garnered a large amount of money over the years, one way and another, their “commitment to fighting climate change” is called praiseworthy by brain-dead media, committed to “celeb worship” even as it backs off and away from the Global Warming scam. Richard Branson, despite all his attempts, is still far behind Al Gore in “warmist” cash-grubbing so he is active wherever that might turn a penny.

Branson claims he was “turned on” to Global Warming by ‘Jim’ Lovelock in person – the same Lovelock who has abandoned the scam. Branson is the founder and CEO of the “Carbon War Room”, an outfit advocating punitive-high energy taxes, which therefore has fawning support from Big Energy and Big Government, but his big hope is that “low carbon space travel” can become his new profit center. His one-liner to critics that space travel and carbon hysteria do not seem to mix, is that his brand of space travel is (very) Low Carbon. Cited by Wall Street Journal, 7 January, he has claimed: “We have reduced the [carbon emission] cost of somebody going into space from something like two weeks of New York’s electricity supply to less than the cost of an economy round-trip from Singapore to London”.

As we know, this concerns low-orbital short-period flight in the upper atmosphere, and nothing to do with real space travel, but coming from a “Global Warming ikon” we must accept there is always massive exaggeration and distortion. It is New Normal. On the other hand, we do not need to accept the plain, straight lying.

According to the US FAA-Federal Aviation Administration, also cited by Wall Street Journal, its own environmental assessment of the launch and re-entry of Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft says that one launch-land cycle will emit about 30 tons of carbon dioxide, or about five tons per passenger. That is around five times more than the carbon footprint of a round-trip flight from Singapore to London. When the support and infrastructure energy costs of the entire Virgin Galactic operation are added, including high-atmosphere flights by tracker and support aircraft, the total carbon emissions rise to about seven times more than an average round-trip flight from Singapore to London. The FAA says that for each passenger on a single trip using Virgin Galactic their total energy burn will be at least twice the energy an average American consumes in a year.

When or if Branson’s tacky low-orbital “space” flights backed by the United Arab Emirates and their “low carbon” petrodollars ever get their celebrity cargoes out of the Earth’s gravity field, a trip to Mars will be obligatory.  Here, they will find an atmosphere that is about 96% carbon dioxide (or 960 000 parts per million), and they will be able to smugly gurgle, for the short time they can still breathe: “We told you so!”. Back on Earth however, a little modesty, or at least the prospect of lawsuits for open lying – which is cited by observers as one reason ‘Jim’ Lovelock and his namesake James Hansen have backed away from the Warming scam – call on them to give us a rest and to please pipe down.

Keeping The Baboons Warm

Keeping the warmist gravy train rolling – whatever happens in the real world – is rapidly reverting to whence it came.  Big Government, the UN system, the nuclear power and alternate energy industry, and financial opportunists always looking for a new scam. To this motley crew, we have two major bit-part players – government-friendly media and Mr and Mrs Average Informed Citizen – so well-informed they are both easy prey for the lying propaganda from the Carbon Purists. But neither, in fact, can be counted on by the warmists, as they will soon find out.

Baboons in an English wildlfe park searching hot potatoes (Source/ Guardian)

Any kind of historical perspective on atmospheric science and the origins of the “CO2 hypothesis” was until recently deliberately kept out of the media. Any reference to “alternate theories” was trashed by the media as negative, anti-science, badly-intentioned and probably corrupt. Global Warming of the Al Gore variety was to  the west what Lysenko was to the USSR of Stalin. Any mention of the relatively large, sometimes outright large changes of world average temperatures over the last 1500 years was derided by warmists  – because there was warming in 1980-2000, by a few fractions of 1 degree celsius, we have a crisis. Only “carbon effluent” in the atmosphere could have caused this! What else?

The media, like public opinion is doing what it always does – it moves slowly but surely like a Titanic-crushing iceberg, breaking up as it goes. The media at this moment is packed with scientifically flaky, superficially plausible stories about how global warming causes record cold and massive snowstorms in New York, but also that until the magic date of 2065 global warming will be “net positive” for human beings, while Mr Obama has told us (although we don’t have to believe him) 97 percent of scientists still think crisis-style warming is a reality.

In a late 2013 report, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism said that most media coverage of climate change now emphasises uncertainty, and an increasing number (25%) focus on the “positive opportunities” global warming could or might bring.  Global cooling, however, remains completely banned from mainstream media, except as  freaky tidbit, despite it being at least as possible that we have cooling, as warming, in a time frame stretching to 2065.

Keeping The Baboons Stupid

Admitting that we don’t know what happens in the Earth’s atmosphere, therefore we can’t know how climate changes is affecting global temperature – is the ultimate blog-material. It is the no-no option and “just in case”, or “simply by precaution”, so we have to reject that possibility. Time is limited and Al Gore needs cash. Propaganda overkill arrived. Now Gore’s pews are empty, and we’re left with hit-and-run street preachers.

One key benefit of the comeuppance for global warming, losing its status of “unquestionable” except by misfits, psychotics and the badly-motivated, is that climate change will be able to emerge as the real subject of interest.

We are likely near the point, now, when the blindest and most faithful cult followers of global warming and the “CO2 hypothesis” will have to admit they’ve been sold a pup. The computer-modeled, science-correct, politically-correct theory of man-made CO2 causing global warming, or its second-best rebranded title of “climate change”, or its third-best of “extreme weather”, was a 10-year trip to oblivion along the well-trod path of Dumbing Down. Global Warming was Dumb with a capital D.

Gore-theory proved nothing at all. The sole benefit of the waltz down Propaganda Lane is that we know climate is changing but we don’t know why. Being able to admit that is difficult for high intellect baboons.

Baboons are in fact a lot more results-oriented, and have much less time to waste on trivial pursuits than human beings. For that reason they do not invent new enemies and they make do with ones they always have had and know well. Who are real. The Global Warming crisis movement – an example of mass hysteria – invented an all-new enemy for Mankind, called Mankind.

Also called misanthropy and being more than a little dated, the warmists pushed the misanthropy button so hard we were asked to think “we” are destroying our planet – unlike Al Gore with his personal Gulfstream 5 jet, his expanding waistline and penchant for fillet mignon and massage parlors with happy endings – and unlike Richard Branson and his Virgin jetliners, because average humans use far too much fossil energy, but Branson and his Hollywood playboy pal are apparently “saving the planet” for those of us who don’t own our own island in the Caribbean.

This mental constipation only has one logical readout – that human beings should operate a mass cull or Die Off, to prevent us from killing the planet – which belongs to very nice persons like Gore and Branson. Even low-IQ baboons would reject the embarked logic inside this mental masturbation. They would much prefer serious endeavors like looking for rapidly-cooling potatoes in the snow.

It’s officially an evolutionary crisis when the feral monkeys start looking smarter than our jet-setting monkeys in suits. Maybe it’s time to put the feral baboons in suits and ties, and let them realize their true Darwinian potential in Westminster, Brussels and Washington.

Armed Clashes Erupt Around Besieged Iraqi City of Fallujah

January 10th, 2014 by Bill Van Auken

Fresh fighting was reported around the besieged Iraqi city of Fallujah on Thursday, as the Obama administration moved to rush new military aid to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The armed clashes between Iraqi troops backed by tanks and what the security forces referred to as Al Qaeda militants took place in the Albubali area between Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s western Anbar province, and Fallujah, its second-largest city.

The renewed fighting came amid multiple reports of civilian casualties and war crimes on the part of the Iraqi security forces, which have laid siege to Fallujah and parts of Ramadi since the two cities were taken over by armed Sunni militants, who drove out the police and seized control ten days ago.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported Thursday that Iraqi government troops “appear to have used indiscriminate mortar fire in civilian neighborhoods in Anbar province,” while “a government blockade of Fallujah and Ramadi has resulted in limited access to food, water and fuel for the population.”

An employee at Fallujah’s main hospital told HRW that the army’s shelling had killed 25 city residents and wounded 190 more over the past week. The victims, he added, had all been hit in areas where there was no Al Qaeda presence. Another one of the dead was said to be a four-year-old child who was killed when the security forces fired on a family trying to flee the Zobaa area on the city’s outskirts.

“Fallujah is a ghost town,” a resident of the city’s eastern al-Shorta neighborhood told HRW. “Those who haven’t left hide in their homes because we are constantly hearing mortar fire from the army, and most of the time they shoot houses. I have friends all over Fallujah, and at least 30 people told me that their houses were hit.” Other residents reported that their houses had been fired upon by helicopters.

The security forces reportedly blockaded the main eastern, northern and southern approaches to Fallujah, turning back shipments of food and medicine coming in as well as people trying to get out. At two other checkpoints, families with children have been allowed to flee for safety, but only with “extreme difficulty,” HRW reported. Single men are forced back into the city. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 troops and paramilitary police have surrounded Fallujah.

Ramadi has likewise been surrounded, but residents there have had less difficulty attempting to flee. The United Nations estimated that at least 11,000 families have been displaced by the fighting. Officials in Ebril, meanwhile, reported on January 8 that this province alone had taken in some 13,000 refugees from the embattled areas of Anbar.

On Thursday, Fallujah residents reported that despite the siege, some banks and state offices had reopened along with the city’s central market, and traffic police had returned to the streets.

The Iraqi security forces have apparently decided to hold off on an all-out assault on the city out of concern both that the resulting civilian casualties will trigger a full-scale civil war between the Shi’ite-dominated government and the predominantly Sunni population of Anbar, and that it may not fare so well in an armed confrontation with the forces holding Fallujah.

While the Maliki government and military spokesmen routinely refer to these forces as “Al Qaeda,” the real situation is more complex, with most of the fighters apparently belonging to tribal militias and local groups led by former army officers, cashiered in the US-imposed “de-Baathification” that followed the US invasion of 2003. Some of these same groups waged a determined resistance to the two sieges of Fallujah mounted by the US military in 2004, and others later became part of the “Awakening” movement, in which the US occupation armed and paid Sunni fighters to combat Al Qaeda forces.

The Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has been a key element in the US-backed war for regime change across Iraq’s western border in Syria, apparently is a distinct minority among the armed groups controlling the Anbari cities, some of which have aligned themselves with the ISIS, while others have combated both it and the Iraqi security forces.

These indigenous forces rose up amid popular outrage triggered by the Maliki government’s arrest of a prominent Sunni parliament member–killing his brother and five bodyguards in the process–followed by the forcible dispersal of a year-old protest encampment, killing 17 people in Ramadi.

A senior Iraqi intelligence officer, explaining why the military has yet to take back Fallujah and Ramadi, told the Associated Press: “We have enough soldiers, but we are waiting for the American drones and missiles. These weapons will have a big role in the coming battle.”

A military commander in Anbar told the news agency, “The battle in Anbar … is a kind of a guerrilla war, and the Iraqi army and police do not have experience in these kinds of wars.”

Indeed, it is far from clear how well the Iraqi military will perform. After the army was disbanded by the US occupation authorities, the security forces were rebuilt based on the militias of various Shi’ite parties. They have not been tested in any serious fighting and, because of their sectarian makeup, are largely seen as a hostile force in Anbar.

The Obama administration has rushed shipments of Hellfire missiles and surveillance drones to Iraq. It also appears to have made headway in its campaign to pressure the US Senate to approve the dispatch of dozens of Apache attack helicopters, a potent counterinsurgency weapon.

One of those who had delayed the Apache deal, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared Wednesday to be dropping his opposition, which was based in large measure on Iraq’s ties to Iran. Following a personal letter from Maliki and an “urgent call” from the State Department, a spokesman for Menendez said that, given that his concerns had been addressed, the senator “will be ready to move forward.”

Meanwhile, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, criticized the Obama administration Thursday for failing to be “engaged” with the Iraq crisis and insisted that the US “will continue to have vital interests in Iraq.” While echoing administration officials in declining to call for the deployment of US troops there, he advocated the provision of “equipment and some services that would be very helpful” to the Maliki regime.

Critics of the arms deal had warned that the attack helicopters could easily be turned against sections of the civilian population, both in Anbar and elsewhere.

Even as the fighting was escalating in Anbar, a new confrontation was shaping up between the Maliki government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, after KRG officials announced a unilateral move to begin selling crude oil extracted from its territory, and to be delivered via pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

The KRG’s ministry of natural resources said that 2 million barrels of petroleum would be sold by the end of this month, with exports rising steadily to a projected 12 million barrels by the end of this year.

The central government has denounced any such unilateral deals by the Kurdish region as illegal, insisting that it alone has the authority to strike deals with foreign energy conglomerates and export crude. “No approval is given,” Baghdad’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani said in an email to Reuters in relation to the KRG’s announcement.

The Maliki government has waged a public campaign to dissuade major oil companies from making any direct deals with the KRG, but ExxonMobil did so anyway in 2011 and has since been followed by Total and Chevron as well as smaller firms.

The central government fears that such arrangements will lead to Kurdistan seeking outright independence, as well as a potential war over borders and, particularly, control over the oil-rich and multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk.

Medio Oriente: lo zio Sam indietreggia mentre l’orso russo avanza

January 10th, 2014 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

L’egemonia statunitense in Medio Oriente sta declinando e gli alleati degli USA nella regione stanno cominciando a prendere in considerazione delle alternative ai tradizionali legami con Washington.

Non facciamoci illusioni: la Guerra Fredda non è mai finita per lo “Zio Sam”. Gli USA hanno lavorato strategicamente per indebolire sia la Federazione Russa che la Repubblica Popolare Cinese. La strategia di Washington in Medio Oriente ed i suoi atti ostili contro Iran e Siria sono parte integrante della sua linea di attacco contro Mosca e Pechino.

Nonostante gli sforzi dell’Amministrazione Obama, il ruolo decisivo che gli Stati Uniti hanno svolto dal 1945 in poi nell’instabile Medio Oriente, vessato dalle costanti ingerenze straniere e dalle meschine rivalità tra dinastie e potenze regionali, si sta ridimensionando. I venti impetuosi che spirano in quell’area stanno cancellando le sue vecchie tracce, mentre gli avvenimenti regionali e mondiali le stanno sostituendo con altre.
La Pax Americana è morta. Va comunque detto che non ha mai avuto molto a che fare con la pace. Questo termine indica, nel contesto mediorientale, il periodo di dominio statunitense nella regione, iniziato dopo la Seconda Guerra Mondiale e che ha raggiunto il suo apice nel 1978. L’anno seguente si produsse la Rivoluzione Islamica Iraniana. Il punto di non ritorno nel costante declino dell’influenza di Washington è stato segnato pochi decenni dopo dai monumentali errori del Presidente George W. Bush Jr.

Il costante declino degli USA in Medio Oriente

Condoleeza Rice, segretaria di Stato dell’Amministrazione Bush Jr. era molto sicura che l’egemonia di Washington si sarebbe ulteriormente estesa in tutto il Medio Oriente. Durante la guerra israeliana contro il Libano del 2006 dichiarò trionfalmente che la mappa mediorientale sarebbe cambiata definitivamente a vantaggio degli USA. Ma Israele perse la guerra e le cose non andarono secondo i piani. L’influenza della grande potenza a stelle e strisce iniziò a diminuire, mentre quella dei suoi rivali stava aumentando.

Il popolo palestinese (sempre nel 2006, ndt) elesse democraticamente la propria rappresentanza, scegliendo Hamas. Questa organizzazione islamica non solo ottenne dagli elettori il controllo di Gaza, ma lo mantenne anche dopo che gli Stati Uniti cospirarono con Israele, Arabia Saudita, l’Egitto di Hosni Mubarak, il caudillo palestinese Mohammed Dahlan e con il leader della ANP, Mahmoud Abbas (il cui ruolo è quasi simbolico), per rovesciare il Governo del movimento islamico a Gaza.

Il blocco economico, il sabotaggio politico, la mini guerra contro Fatah e la serie di aggressioni armate intraprese da Israele non sono riusciti a rovesciare il potere di Hamas nella piccola fascia di terra sul Mar Mediterraneo.

L’influenza di Hezbollah (“Partito di Dio”, ndt) in Libano è aumentata in modo spettacolare. L’Alleanza 14 marzo, organizzazione libanese diretta da Hariri e patrocinata da Washington e alleati contro Hezbollah, si è dimostrata impotente rispetto al suo compito di neutralizzare il Partito di Dio ed i suoi alleati politici libanesi riuniti nell’Alleanza 8 marzo. Anche se diversi rapporti finalizzati alla disinformazione politica continuano a diffondere l’idea che l’intervento di Hezbollah in Siria avrebbe indebolito e minato la popolarità dell’organizzazione in Libano è vero esattamente il contrario. L’intelligence israeliana, in un rapporto firmato dal Mossad, ha dovuto ammettere che in realtà per Hezbollah è iniziata una vera e propria età dell’oro.

Tenendo conto di tutto ciò, non si vede applicato da nessuna parte il piano statunitense di ridefinire le frontiere mediorientali, che ha l’obiettivo di creare Stati più piccoli e quindi più facilmente controllabili da Washington, al fine di mantenere il suo ordine imperiale. Ma non si può negare che gli incendi causati da questo progetto continuino ad ardere in Siria e Iraq e che il piano abbia raggiunto dei risultati, per esempio, nella divisione del Sudan e nella destabilizzazione del Nord Africa.

Un impero che si sta sfaldando

Gli USA non hanno neutralizzato i loro due principali avversari in Medio Oriente. È fallito l’obiettivo del cambio di regime a Damasco e Washington non ha scatenato il potere bellico del Pentagono sulla Siria. Un accordo transitorio tra Stati Uniti e Iran sul nucleare è stato raggiunto a Ginevra.

Le ragioni dello sfaldamento del potere statunitense non sono né la decisione di Washington di non intraprendere una guerra contro la Siria né quella di arrivare finalmente a un accordo con gli iraniani. Questo potere era già in declino. L’Amministrazione Obama ha accettato di accordarsi con Siria e Iran per cercare di mantenere l’influenza nordamericana in Medio Oriente e rallentare il suo declino.

Gli alleati e “clienti” degli USA nel frattempo lanciano fulmini e saette, sono impauriti. Visto il declino di Washington stanno a poco a poco diversificando le loro relazioni internazionali. Da Tel Aviv a Riad, i governi finora fedeli agli Stati Uniti si sono resi conto che l’ombrello protettivo della grande potenza sta cominciando a fare acqua e si sono messi a cercare alternative al patrocinio nordamericano.

L’orso russo sta per tornare sul delta del Nilo?

L’Amministrazione USA ha dichiarato il 9 ottobre 2013 che avrebbe tagliato parte della sua assistenza militare all’Egitto. Questo passo è stato ritenuto parte integrante della ridefinizione della politica nordamericana in Medio Oriente. L’esercito egiziano lo ha criticato, considerandolo un atto che ostacolerebbe e indebolirebbe le forze armate del Paese nordafricano nel momento in cui sta lottando contro elementi destabilizzatori, soprattutto nella Penisola del Sinai.

L’aiuto statunitense all’esercito egiziano è diminuito. L’Arabia Saudita e le petro-monarchie del Golfo Persico sono state segretamente sub-contrattate per soppiantare l’assistenza d’oltreoceano. Ben fatto dal punto di vista di Washington, che non si può più permettere di finanziare le forze armate del Cairo. Anche l’Egitto si rende conto dello stato di decadenza in cui versano gli USA e ha cominciato a cercare alternative al patrocinio della grande potenza.

L’11 novembre 2013, circa un mese dopo la parziale sospensione degli aiuti militari da parte di Washington, una nave da guerra lanciamissili russa, la Varyag, ha fatto scalo nel porto egiziano di Alessandria, nel Mar Mediterraneo. Alcuni giorni dopo la Boris Butoma, nave ausiliaria dell’armata russa adibita all’approvvigionamento, ha attraccato in quello di Safaga, sempre in Egitto.  Nessuna nave della Russia aveva più fatto scalo in Egitto dal 1992 e Mosca non aveva una presenza militare significativa nel Paese nordafricano dai tempi dell’era sovietica durante la Guerra Fredda.

Il 13 novembre 2013 il Cremlino ha affiancato la diplomazia agli sbarchi delle sue navi. Il ministro russo degli Esteri Sergei Lavrov e quello della Difesa Sergei Shoigu si sono recati in Egitto accompagnati da folte delegazioni. Lavrov ha definito “storico” questo avvenimento. Il Cremlino ha inviato i due ministri al Cairo per tastare il polso all’Egitto.

Le domande da porsi per capire le reali intenzioni del Cairo sono diverse: le alte cariche egiziane stanno tendendo la mano a Mosca per fare pressione su Washington o perché sperano veramente di trovare nella Russia un interlocutore alternativo? In altre parole: L’Egitto si sta rivolgendo al Cremlino per mercanteggiare con Casa Bianca e Dipartimento di Stato oppure per svincolarsi dal loro controllo e dalle loro pressioni?

Il segretario di Stato John Kerry è volato al Cairo dopo la visita russa, intenzionato a preservare l’influenza statunitense. Il regime egiziano, a quanto si sa, vuole ottenere flessibilità e vantaggi per depotenziare il controllo statunitense ed evitare di crollare assieme all’ordine imperialista della grande potenza americana. La caduta dei Fratelli Musulmani e la dissoluzione dell’alleanza regionale in Siria hanno inviato un messaggio negativo a tutti gli alleati e clienti degli USA. Tutti in Medio Oriente, sia i corrotti che i giusti, sanno oggi più che mai che Washington non li proteggerà. Si sono anche resi conto che chi si è alleato con Mosca e Teheran è rimasto in piedi.

La resurrezione della Russia in Medio Oriente

La Federazione Russa è già diventata il secondo fornitore di armi all’Egitto dopo che l’Amministrazione degli Stati Uniti d’America ha deciso di ridurre il suo aiuto militare al Cairo. Mosca sta semplicemente approfittando del ritiro degli USA per consolidare e migliorare i suoi rapporti commerciali con l’Egitto. Ma i russi non vendono armi soltanto al grande Paese nordafricano. L’Iraq ha firmato nel 2012 un contratto per forniture belliche da parte del Cremlino, che è così diventato il secondo fornitore di armi a Baghdad dopo gli Stati Uniti.

Le amichevoli relazioni della Federazione Russa con l’Iran e con tutti gli altri Stati del Blocco di Resistenza (formato da Iran, Siria, Hezbollah ed alleati, esponenti palestinesi e in misura crescente dall’Iraq, ndt) hanno procurato al gigante euro-asiatico un certo vantaggio in Israele. Il gran numero di immigrati russi e di russofoni presenti nello Stato ebraico ha contribuito all’influenza della Russia. La presenza di una numerosa comunità russofona in Israele è una delle ragioni per le quali i politici dello Stato ebraico si recano in visita nel Paese euro-asiatico e si avvalgono di “sponsor” russi durante le loro campagne elettorali. Mosca ha inoltre fatto parte dell’inetto Quartetto per il Medio Oriente, costituito nel 2002 e che si presume abbia il compito di  mediare tra israeliani e palestinesi.

L’influenza di Mosca nella regione ha fatto costanti progressi dal 2011 ad oggi. La Federazione Russa ha rafforzato le sue relazioni con il Libano e iniziato un dialogo strategico con Hezbollah.

I siriani sono criticamente grati alla Russia per il suo sostegno. La Federazione Russa, insieme all’Iran, ha avuto una notevole influenza su Damasco e l’ha aiutata a resistere al tentativo di cambio di regime. L’attacco terroristico contro l’ambasciata di Mosca nella capitale siriana testimonia l’importanza del ruolo svolto dalla potenza euro-asiatica.

Sarebbe un errore pensare che l’incremento della presenza russa in Medio Oriente rappresenti una sorta di “riapparizione” di questo Paese in una regione, quella mediorientale, che ha sempre avuto molti rapporti con la vicina Federazione Russa. L’influenza di Mosca sta aumentando nella misura in cui quella di Washington sta diminuendo.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, sociologo e analista geopolitico, ha vinto vari premi per le sue opere.

Traduzione di Sandro Scardigli per l’Associazione Politica e Culturale MARX XXI

On December 5th, yet another war led by foreign powers broke out in Africa, and like the one in Mali, it was led at the helm by the French. The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution which authorized the deployment of French and African troops in the Central African Republic. At the same time, Chad, Cameroon, South Africa, Angola, Morocco, Burundi, Rwanda, the Republic of Congo, and other African countries, sent troops. Other countries like the UK, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Poland provided logistical support, while Belgium and the US provided air support by transporting the peacekeeping troops.

To pay for this war, which is a huge expense, France paid a good portion, along with the US pitching in $60 million, and Canada even pitching in a little. On January 20th, the full financing of international donors will come into view as EU and UN donors will meet and decide how much money they are giving to support the intervention. All the while, high-level UN officials have said that “a strong peacekeeping force” is needed in the Central African Republic and that 6,000 to 9,000 UN Peacekeepers would be needed to “stabilize the country.” This brings one to the question of who or what is being stabilized by the military intervention in the Central African Republic and what the real goals are, other than professed humanitarian reasons.

There is already some signs that the stabilization is not going very well for the population of the Central African Republic. 935,000 have been displaced by the conflict in the country, with more than 74% being internally displaced and more than 26% leaving to neighboring countries according to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR). As a recent Reuters article noted, “the deployment of 1,600 French and nearly 4,000 African Union peacekeepers has done little to contain the tit-for-tat violence between religious communities.” Already, numerous French troops and AU peacekeepers have died in action while many residents of the country continue to be killed, wounded, mutilated, and beheaded, numbers which grow day by day. The humanitarian crisis continues to get worse with over 600,000 internally displaced by December 30th of 2013. This is compounded by the fact that the President and his family, who came to power in a coup last year, have fled the country for Benin.

France: the gendarme of Africa?

What Roosevelt says connects to the fact that the French multinational nuclear energy company, Areva “mines the Bakouma uranium deposit in the CAR’s south” which Reuters describes as “France’s biggest commercial interest in its former colony.” [6] This reality runs deep into the reasons for intervention. As Francois Hollande, the fake socialist and really neoliberal, president of France, declared to the government-owned Radio France Internationale (RFI), that while the “intervention will cost about 400-500 million euros…[which] may seem like a lot, especially at a time when we have budget constraints and we demand sacrifices of French people” it is based in the “role of France” he believes to be true: “the responsibility of France…is to be a world power.”

That same day, Hollande told the Telegraph that “we think that it should not cost France anything as I have spoken to you of European financing…I would hope that they [European Union] can contribute more, be in the forces that we could mutualise.” Only the day before, he had said at end of a summit between France and African leaders that 1,600 troops in the Central African Republic will be “a number that will remain as long as necessary for this mission.” In that same article, an anonymous source from the French defense ministry source claimed that “there were patrols all night, including some on foot. We are going everywhere.”

This is partially confirmed by the fact that “French jets and surveillance aircraft” flew over parts of the country, while in the neighboring country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, five drones were deployed in the first use of “unmanned surveillance aircraft” by the UN for “peacekeeping efforts.” As for Hollande, drones were not his major aim, but rather it was mounting a rhetorical defense of the intervention by telling a group of French troops that it was “necessary if one wants to avoid carnage here” and that “it was time to act. It was soon going to be too late.” He added that fighting in the country was “taking on a religious dimension with the risk of leading to a civil war” and that “France is not here in the CAR out of any self-interest. France has come to defend human dignity.” These words seemed to echo what he said back in October, at a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma: “there is a political emergency because there is no state. There is also an emergency at a regional level because there is a risk of spillover. We might witness religious conflict.”

What Hollande is saying is only the beginning of French officials covering and defending the intervention. In a purportedly non-interventionist manner, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius declared that since “the democratic situation has been re-established,” France doesn’t need to provide assistance or “get involved” in the troubles in Mali, but that: “France intervened and we can say it saved Mali. But it’s not up to us to be the gendarme of Africa.” A gendarme is “a police officer in any of several European countries, esp. in France,” [6] which in this context would be the policeman of Africa, since neo-colonial domination is deeply patriarchal. The idea that France is not ‘policing’ is frankly absurd. As a Reuters article reminds us, the Central African Republic “has seen little stability in five decades, and France has intervened more times since independence in 1960 than in any of its former colonies” which is partially evidenced by the fact that “under a 1960 defence accord, France is obligated to intervene in the event of foreign aggression.”

This is why some say that France has conduced a forty-year secret war in Central Africa. In the last sentence of an article in The Telegraph, which almost seems to be an afterthought, it importantly points out that “since 2011, France has intervened in four African states: in Ivory Coast…in Libya, in Mali and now in the Central African Republic.” Only a few days before the intervention in Central Africa officially began, France quietly sent more troops to complement the 2,600 African Union troops then in the country and in later November, as the Christian Science Monitor noted, France planned “to boost its force there to around 1,000 troops to restore law and order until a much bigger African Union force fully deploys.” In all of Africa, France has 6,275 troops as of December 2013, the most recent information,which is between 74-75% of its overseas deployments. If this isn’t enough, at the end of the summit between Africa leaders and French officials on December 8th, Hollande pledged to “help the African Union turn its plans for a rapid reaction force into a functioning unit by 2015” by offering “to provide equipment, logistical support and training for 20,000 troops from the continent every year for five years” while trying to persuade “Britain, Germany and other EU partners to help finance the equipment and arms the new force will require.” This huge commitment is a sign of France’s lasting presence in Africa, especially over in its former colonies.

There is something that proves Hollande was wrong: a war for securing resources, blatant imperialism. Unlike Obama’s