Thousands of Tunisians have again protested against the Islamist-led government. Despite the PM’s promise to resign, journalist Abayomi Azikiwe believes deeply ingrained political divisions remain.

Abayomi Azikiwe is editor of the Pan-African Newswire, and says that small things could lead to all-out chaos. He mentions two recent political assassinations, but also sees an example of the stepping up of security force attacks on Islamist guerrillas, believing it to be a sign that Tunisia might still be on the way to becoming a military-controlled state.

To view video interview:

http://on.rt.com/n05vpg

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RT: The government has started talks with the opposition and new elections are on their way. So why have people taken to the streets again?

Abayomi Azikiwe: There’s a very politically tense situation inside Tunisia. We had today the murder of several police officers as well as civilians. President Marzouki has declared days of mourning in the country.

Tunisia’s been racked over the last several months with two major political assassinations. There’s a total breakdown within the governing structures of the country, between the more moderate Islamists – who dominate the government at this point, and also the secular and left forces who want a stable government. But there seem to be very serious divisions inside this ruling coalition in Tunisia.

 

Tunisian people walk past security forces outside the Interior ministry on Tunis' central Habib Bourguiba Avenue where a demonstration takes place on October 23, 2013 to demand the resignation of Tunisia's Islamist-led government, ahead of a national dialogue aimed at ending months of political deadlock. (AFP Photo / Fethi Belaid)

Tunisian people walk past security forces outside the Interior ministry on Tunis’ central Habib Bourguiba Avenue where a demonstration takes place on October 23, 2013 to demand the resignation of Tunisia’s Islamist-led government, ahead of a national dialogue aimed at ending months of political deadlock. (AFP Photo / Fethi Belaid)

 

RT: Could you outline some steps the country has taken on the road to democracy, and are they in enough to get started in the right direction?

AA: I think it’s a good move that they’ve decided to step down from the current rule; distancing themselves to provide some breathing space for additional political debate, as well as a new national election. However, I believe if the tensions increase… and they’re increasing attacks by the security forces against the Ansa al-Shariya – an Islamic guerrilla organization which has been involved in armed conflict with the security forces in Tunisia – then [those forces] will play a much more involved role in political developments in the country.

RT: Negotiators will have one month to adopt a new constitution, lay out new electoral laws and to establish a timetable for new elections. Do you think we can have confidence that they will accomplish this? And what can we expect from future negotiations?

AA: Hopefully they will be able to reach an agreement to go forward with the coalition government. But at the same time there are still some very deep and protracted differences between the Ennahda party – which is the dominant political force over the last two years, since the first post-Ben Ali elections were held – and some of the more secular organizations on the left. The assassinations of Belaid and Brahimi earlier this year exacerbated political contradictions inside Tunisia. So I think it’s going to be an extremely difficult task, but I think it can be done. But I think it’s going to be a very slow process and if these armed attacks continue then there’s going to be one major obstacle on the way to having free and fair elections as well as open debate.

RT: Do you think the upcoming elections will give the people confidence that there can be a  stable government in a stable Tunisia?

AA: I think they’ve taken the correct step by dissolving the current government, but it remains to be seen whether the various contending political parties in the country are able to have trust among each other and also trust within the political system, so they can move forward on a stable basis, that is the only real solution I see.

 

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

by Andrea Germanos

An operation with potentially “apocalyptic” consequences is expected to begin in a little over two weeks from now – “as early as November 8″ – at Fukushima’s damaged and sinking Reactor 4, when plant operator TEPCO will attempt to remove over 1300 spent fuel rods holding the radiation equivalent of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs from a spent fuel storage tank perched on the reactor’s upper floor.

Fukushima Reactor 4

While the Reactor 4 building itself did not suffer a meltdown, it did suffer a hydrogen explosion, is now tipping and sinking and has zero ability to withstand another seismic event.

The Japan Times explained:

To remove the rods, TEPCO has erected a 273-ton mobile crane above the building that will be operated remotely from a separate room.

[...] spent fuel rods will be pulled from the racks they are stored in and inserted one by one into a heavy steel chamber while the assemblies are still under water. Once the chamber is removed from the pool and lowered to the ground, it will be transported to another pool in an undamaged building on the site for storage.

Under normal circumstances, such an operation would take little more than three months, but TEPCO is hoping to complete the complicated task within fiscal 2014.

A chorus of voices has been sounding alarm over the never-been-done-at-this-scale plan to manually remove the 400 tons of spent fuel by TEPCO, who so far has been responsible for mishap after mishap in the ongoing crisis at the crippled nuclear plant.

Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, warned this summer that “They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods,” and said that “To jump to the conclusion that it is going to work just fine is quite a leap of logic.”  Paul Gunter, MD, Director of the Reactor Oversight Project with Takoma Park, Md.-based Beyond Nuclear, also sounded alarm on Thursday, telling Common Dreams in a statement that “Given the uncertainties of the condition and array of the hundreds of tons of nuclear  fuel assemblies, it will be a risky round of highly radioactive pickup sticks.”  Gundersen offered this analogy of the challenging process of removing the spent fuel rods:

If you think of a nuclear fuel rack as a pack of cigarettes, if you pull a cigarette straight up it will come out — but these racks have been distorted. Now when they go to pull the cigarette straight out, it’s going to likely break and release radioactive cesium and other gases, xenon and krypton, into the air. I suspect come November, December, January we’re going to hear that the building’s been evacuated, they’ve broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing. […]

I suspect we’ll have more airborne releases as they try to pull the fuel out. If they pull too hard, they’ll snap the fuel. I think the racks have been distorted, the fuel has overheated — the pool boiled – and the net effect is that it’s likely some of the fuel will be stuck in there for a long, long time.

 

The Japan Times adds:

Removing the fuel rods is a task usually assisted by computers that know their exact location down to the nearest millimeter. Working virtually blind in a highly radioactive environment, there is a risk the crane could drop or damage one of the rods — an accident that would heap even more misery onto the Tohoku region.

As long-time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman explained, the

Spent fuel rods must be kept cool at all times. If exposed to air, their zirconium alloy cladding will ignite, the rods will burn and huge quantities of radiation will be emitted. Should the rods touch each other, or should they crumble into a big enough pile, an explosion is possible.

“In the worst-case scenario,” RT adds,

the pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and cause an explosion many times worse than in March 2011.

Wasserman says that the plan is so risky it requires a global take-over, an urging Gunter also shared, stating that the “dangerous task should not be left to TEPCO but quickly involve the oversight and management of independent international experts.”

Wasserman told Common Dreams that

The bring-down of the fuel rods from Fukushima Unit 4 may be the most dangerous engineering task ever undertaken.  Every indication is that TEPCO is completely incapable of doing it safely, or of reliably informing the global community as to what’s actually happening.  There is no reason to believe the Japanese government could do much better.  This is a job that should only be undertaken by a dedicated team of the world’s very best scientists and engineers, with access to all the funding that could be needed.

The potential radiation releases in this situation can only be described as apocalyptic.  The cesium alone would match the fallout of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs.  If the job is botched, radiation releases could force the evacuation of all humans from the site, and could cause electronic equipment to fail.  Humankind would be forced to stand helplessly by as billions of curies of deadly radiation pour into the air and the ocean.

As dire as Wasserman’s warning sounds, it is echoed by fallout researcher Christina Consolo, who told RT that the worst case scenario could be “a true apocalypse.” Gunter’s warning was dire as well.

“Time is of the essence as we remain concerned that another earthquake could still topple the damaged reactor building and the nuclear waste storage pond up in its attic,” he continued. “This could literally re-ignite the nuclear accident in the open atmosphere and inflame it into hemispheric proportions,” said Gunter.

Wasserman says that given the gravity of the situation, the eyes of the world should be upon Fukushima:

This is a question that transcends being anti-nuclear.  The fate of the earth is at stake here and the whole world must be watching every move at that site from now on.  With 11,000 fuel rods scattered around the place, as a ceaseless flow of contaminated water poisoning our oceans, our very survival is on the line.

 Now that the latest standoff between the U.S. treasury and Congress is over, it may be helpful to put it in some historical perspective.

Indeed, the outcome brings to mind the former treasury secretary Robert Rubin‘s understanding, when he faced a similar harrowing experience with Congress two decades ago, that the standoff was meant “to oppose us without stopping us.” [Rubin with Obama right]

For the sake of global capitalism, pardner.

One of the things that drove J. Maynard Keynes to distraction during the Bretton Woods negotiations – since he could never be certain when this was being deployed as a bargaining ruse or when it reflected a genuine fear of Congress – was the repeated recourse by his U.S. counterparts to arguments based on what Congress would or would not accept. As volume three of Robert Skidelsky’s marvellous biography of the economist also tells us, Keynes was well aware that it was less treasury secretary Henry Morgenthau’s attempts to appease Congress than a fundamental asymmetry in financial power that ensured that the outcome of the negotiations “reflected the views of the American, not the British, treasury.” Yet even after The Star-Spangled Banner was played at the final banquet on 22 July, 1944, for the delegates from 44 countries, it was only the U.S. treasury’s very elaborate public relations campaigns at home, including a promise that most capital exports would eventually “take place freely,” which ensured that Congress overwhelmingly passed the Bretton Woods Agreements Act.

Flash forward 50 years. By the time Rubin became U.S. treasury secretary, he could not but see himself – as is clear from his memoirs – carrying the main burden of responsibility for superintending a fully liberalized and globalized capitalist financial system. And with the other G7 finance ministers acting as a sort of informal imperial cabinet, it was now obvious to all how wrong it had been to regard the breakdown in the fixed exchange rate system in 1971 as representing the downfall of the dollar and the decline of U.S. hegemony. On the contrary, the integration and securitization of financial markets, alongside the widespread removal of capital controls and derivative-based risk management increasingly resting on U.S. treasury bonds, had made the world ever more dependent on what the U.S. treasury did or did not do.

Taking Centre Stage

But this only made the question of what Congress would or would not accept even more problematic. This was made all too clear in the baptism of fire Rubin went through as soon as he became treasury secretary at the beginning of 1995, as he attempted to cope with a banking crisis in Mexico (until then the poster child of financial and trade liberalization) that threatened to engulf not only Wall Street but the world’s inter-bank payment system. Dealing with what Newt Gingrich as well as the then IMF director Michel Camdessus called “the first crisis of the 21st century” required so large and rapid a bailout as to ensure that the treasury itself rather than the IMF had to take centre stage. Yet despite the treasury quickly mobilizing behind its historically unprecedented $40-billion rescue plan, as well as three former presidents and 17 former secretaries of the departments of state, commerce and the treasury, and also leading state governors such as George W. Bush of Texas, Congress balked.

Notably it was then the Democrats in the House of Representatives who were the main problem, with less than a quarter of them prepared to indicate they would vote for the plan. Although the common maxim inside the treasury was that of Congress “cutting off the water to the fire department when the city is burning down,” Rubin recognized, as he later put it in his memoirs, that “many members of Congress probably meant to oppose us without actually stopping us.” This indeed proved to be the case, as it would again more recently with congressional opposition to the treasury’s $700-billion Tarp (Troubled Asset Relief Programme) bailout to stem the 2008 financial collapse during the Bush administration, and with the debt-ceiling saga faced by the Obama administration in the summer of 2011.

However significant the current configuration of Tea Party hostility to the Obama administration, the continuing conflict between the treasury and Congress reflects a more enduring problem, namely the internal contradiction the American state faces in acting as both the state of U.S. society and the “indispensable” state of global capitalism. How much more straightforward it was for the Westminster parliament in the old British empire to play its part in sharing the imperial burden. Yet what is remarkable in the face of the repeated and even heightened frisson that attends each saga of congressional imperial denial is the continuing centrality of the U.S. dollar and treasury bonds in the global economy; the global determination of the U.S. treasury to play its appointed role in sustaining this; and the acceptance of it by the rest of the world. And this is itself indicative of how deep are the structural factors at play in sustaining the U.S. informal empire – for all of its apparent “dysfunctionality” – at the centre of today’s global capitalism.

Leo Panitch is the Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy at York University, and is the co-author of The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire (Verso, 2012). This article first appeared on the www.theguardian.com website.

Corporate imperial militarism controls U.S. society and wages destructive occupations abroad to serve the capitalist interests of the war-making, armaments manufacturing class whose bombs eradicate human beings for profit.

Externalized racism and depleted uranium radiation warfare smashes the aspirations of target victims in Afghanistan and Iraq, CIA drones slaughter civilians mercilessly in Pakistan, napalm and agent orange used in Vietnam is still effecting children with birth defects, hundreds of thousands in El Salvador and Guatemala miss their disappeared relatives that the U.S. military and CIA trained Latin American dictators and their police constabularies in racist anticommunist doctrine to murder and justify the imperial extraction of natural resources to protect the elite wealthy classes and rich landowner death squads using secret police assassination methods.

The CIA trains murderous guerillas as part of proxy sabotage whenever a government the U.S. imperial corporate war masters don’t like achieves advances in health care and education for their population while simultaneously offering land reform or industrialization beneficial to the population and plentiful jobs. Whether CIA-contra proxy mercenary guerilla insurgent violence against teachers, priests and peasant farmers supporting the Sandinista revolutionary government or NATO massive aerial bombardment of infrastructure and terrorization of the Libyan African population with jihadist barbaric killers, the goal is to undermine systems that are functioning for the majority of people and therefore undermining the control of the U.S imperial wall street armaments manufacturing oil mafia elite.

The U.S. massacre armaments machine didn’t like the Sandinista revolution because El Salvador and Guatemala were stable customers of armaments to terrorize their populations and one leftist regime left standing in the hemisphere perhaps might result in the strengthening of revolutionary upheavals in the neighboring colonies and therefore represented a threat to the sale of counterinsurgency equipment to these nations. Gaddafi’s Libya featured a free health care system, free university, public infrastructure projects for his population and this leader threatened to demand payment of his nations’ oil in gold rather than the dollar.

These nations are seen as targets for obliteration and destruction of the U.S. military corporate war imperial NATO masters who thrive on death and arms sales to profit their personal bank accounts.

The destructive apparatus known as the U.S. war machine builds bases all around the world for the private corporate profit of Halliburton, Kellogg Brown and Root and maintains concentration camps with emaciated prisoners cleared for release at Guantanamo who are being force fed and choked to maintain the profitability of running overseas prison garrisons for the sake of a bloody empire run by the rich.

Lies make money.

Lies are an immensely profitable undertaking.

A lying industry prevails in the United State serving the corporate military war factory interests that enriches the capitalist ruling class. Televisions and armaments factories are running in smooth operating precision as the conditioned masses are left to stare at their leaders who threaten to crash the global financial system and lie about a lack of funds for the civilian government while innocent civilians are blown to smithereens with National Security Agency reconnaissance assisted CIA-military piloted drones from the skies during a shutdown of basic services for the poor.

Mass media deception is a perpetual function of the armaments industry as it uses the avenues of print, electronic television and radio to sell the homicidal lies of the arms merchants who wanted to lay waste to Syria as part of the NATO/U.S. imperialist capitalist destruction of this land with Tomahawk missiles. A study of the mass media on http://public-accountability.org/ reveals that MSNBC, Fox, PBS and CNN television anchors interviewing former Bush national security advisor Stephen Hadley, who made various arguments in favor of a U.S./NATO military attack  against Syria, failed to mention that he is a director of Raytheon which manufactures the Tomahawk missile. Raytheon paid Hadley $128,500 in compensation last year, and he is owner of 11,477 shares of stock in this armaments company, worth $900,000. Out of the four times Hadley’s arguments for U.S. military violence against Syria were featured in mainstream media, including three televised interviews—on Bloomberg TV, Fox News and CNN and once in a Washington Post opinion editorial, media anchor or editorial personnel responsible for identifying a guest experts’ official title only mentioned his position as former national security advisor and nothing about his war profiteering affiliation with Raytheon.

A variety of other guests which appeared on the mainstream corporate networks and advocated for militarized violence against Syria during the attempted run-up for war are affiliated with munitions company or “defense” or intelligence contracting interests. The study shows that 22 different commentators with connections to defense and intelligence contractors or defense related investment firms made 111 appearances as quoted guests, experts on news shows or opinion editorial authors and mass media news personnel made only 13 attempts within the various media outlets to disclose the guest commentators’ connections to the military-intelligence weapons industry. Former Centcom commander Anthony Zinni expressed support for attacking Syria with NATO/U.S weaponry three times on CNN, once on CBS This Morning and in an opinion editorial in the Washington Post and none of the media personnel working in an interviewer or editorial capacity for these outlets mentioned that he is an outside director of BAE Systems, the third largest military services company in the world, based in London.

So much for the mass media serving as a fourth branch of government to check the powerful when reporters at media outlets that reach the vast majority of the population are completely bought off by the armaments industry and reporters who are actually doing their jobs are repeatedly spied on and more whistleblowers are persecuted than any other administration combined under the Espionage act of 1917.

Armament factory military corporate war interests of the U.S. Pentagon war machine cause Pakistani teenagers to commit suicide due to the ever present trauma of assassination squad drones hovering over their land. What does this say about the moral level of the United States when because of a lack of investment in socially uplifting employment prospects, students are now being channeled into this industry tainted with the blood of innocent men, women and children because of the massive influence of the military industrial armaments complex in shaping the educational institutions that are the main determinant in producing the array of occupations, industries goods and services that we call the economy? Newspaper columnists blurt obscenities of internalized racism such as murdering Pakistani children is better from an American standpoint because they could somehow harm U.S. citizens in the future.

How many of these future drone operators will work for humanitarian purposes such as rescuing people during disasters or delivering food to the homeless versus violating the fourth amendment of U.S. citizens with a constitutional right from unreasonable searches and seizures and, worse yet, political assassination of activists deemed criminals by an elite corporate militarized cabal? Perhaps this is an unknown, but we might ask how many of them are affiliated with progressive social causes or anti-racist, ant-imperialist views or know that imperialism is a process by which military empires extract natural resources for corporate profit as is the case with Afghanistan’s lithium as well as geostrategic positioning for oil pipelines and that U.S./NATO/ CIA military attacks against target nations always involve the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians.

Thirty thousand drones will fly over the U.S. by 2020. This war-surveillance machinery is already used in a global assassination campaign that denies both foreigners and U.S. citizens the right of trial before execution. Surveillance drones deny the target freedom from unreasonable searches, seizures and surveillance under the fourth amendment, domestically, not to mention the national sovereignty and lives of the targets of U.S-CIA-military imperial violence including scores of innocent civilians deemed “collateral damage,” or worse yet, associates of the target deliberately murdered for political assassination purposes. U.S. Imperialism—it’s no delight for the people of the world and increasingly not for U.S. citizens unaffiliated with the war machine either.

William C. Lewis is a journalist, researcher and writer from Yreka California.

Protest against Dick Cheney in Vancouver
Protesters outside the Vancouver Club.

 When Dick Cheney speaks in Toronto on October 31 he will be confronted by people from Canada and the United States demanding that the Canadian government arrest and prosecute him for torture and other crimes.

People throughout Canada are demanding that the Canadian government either bar Cheney or arrest him should he follow through with his plans to be a keynote speaker at an upcoming conference in Toronto. They are insisting that Canadian and international law require that Cheney be arrested if he comes to Canada.

 Cheney canceled a similar speaking engagement last April in Toronto because he feared the mobilization of the people. When Cheney was speaking months earlier in Vancouver he was confronted by angry demonstrators demanding that he be prosecuted.

Thousands of people were tortured based on Cheney’s and Bush’s instructions to the CIA and military. Kidnappings, renditions, torture and assassinations were sanctioned by Bush and Cheney. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died needlessly and millions became refugees. Tens of thousands of U.S. service members suffered life-changing injuries and more than 5,000 were killed..

Cheney jokes about torture

Cheney is a despicable character. He appeared on October 7, 2013, at the Plaza Hotel with Donald Rumsfeld in Washington, D.C., where the two of them swapped torture jokes from the podium, with Rumsfeld quipping that Cheney had even been waterboarding fish.

 These obscene displays about their crimes are an affront to humanity.

It is critical that we continue to act together to demand government accountability. Bush and Cheney cannot go anywhere in the United States or around the world without be challenged by this grassroots movement that is demanding that high officials who commit criminal acts be arrested and prosecuted.

 The Indict Bush Now movement is urging all of its supporters and friends who can to join or support the October 31 demonstration in Toronto. The protest will begin at 11:30am at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, 255 Front St. W – Toronto, Canada.

The Indict Bush Now movement is also joining with thousands of people this Saturday, October 26 in a march on the U.S. Capital demanding that the government dismantle the secret spying program against the people of the United States and the world. October 26 is the 12th anniversary of Bush signing the Patriot Act that has been used to create a surveillance state that is destroying basic personal freedoms and the right to privacy. Bush and Cheney started these programs but We The People can stop them. But we must act. Join us this Saturday at 11:30 am at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station in downtown Washington, D.C.

 Please continue to show your support with an urgently needed donation today.

– From all of us at IndictBushNow.org

 The story of Fukushima should be on the front pages of every newspaper. Instead, it is rarely mentioned. The problems at Fukushima are unprecedented in human experience and involve a high risk of radiation events larger than any that the global community has ever experienced. It is going to take the best engineering minds in the world to solve these problems and to diminish their global impact.

When we researched the realities of Fukushima in preparation for this article, words like apocalyptic, cataclysmic and Earth-threatening came to mind. But, when we say such things, people react as if we were the little red hen screaming “the sky is falling” and the reports are ignored. So, we’re going to present what is known in this article and you can decide whether we are facing a potentially cataclysmic event.

Either way, it is clear that the problems at Fukushima demand that the world’s best nuclear engineers and other experts advise and assist in the efforts to solve them. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds.org and an international team of scientists created a 15-point plan to address the crises at Fukushima.

 A subcommittee of the Green Shadow Cabinet (of which we are members), which includes long-time nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman, is circulating a sign-on letter and a petition calling on the United Nations and Japanese government to put in place the Gundersen et al plan and to provide 24-hour media access to information about the crises at Fukushima. There is also a call for international days of action on the weekend of November 9 and 10. The letter and petitions will be delivered to the UN on November 11 which is both Armistice Day and the 32nd month anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

 The Problems of Fukushima

There are three major problems at Fukushima: (1) Three reactor cores are missing; (2) Radiated water has been leaking from the plant in mass quantities for 2.5 years; and (3) Eleven thousand spent nuclear fuel rods, perhaps the most dangerous things ever created by humans, are stored at the plant and need to be removed, 1,533 of those are in a very precarious and dangerous position. Each of these three could result in dramatic radiation events, unlike any radiation exposure humans have ever experienced.  We’ll discuss them in order, saving the most dangerous for last.

Missing reactor cores:  Since the accident at Fukushima on March 11, 2011, three reactor cores have gone missing.  There was an unprecedented three reactor ‘melt-down.’ These melted cores, called corium lavas, are thought to have passed through the basements of reactor buildings 1, 2 and 3, and to be somewhere in the ground underneath.

Harvey Wasserman, who has been working on nuclear energy issues for over 40 years, tells us that during those four decades no one ever talked about the possibility of a multiple meltdown, but that is what occurred at Fukushima.

It is an unprecedented situation to not know where these cores are. TEPCO is pouring water where they think the cores are, but they are not sure. There are occasional steam eruptions coming from the grounds of the reactors, so the cores are thought to still be hot.

The concern is that the corium lavas will enter or may have already entered the aquifer below the plant. That would contaminate a much larger area with radioactive elements. Some suggest that it would require the area surrounding Tokyo, 40 million people, to be evacuated. Another concern is that if the corium lavas enter the aquifer, they could create a “super-heated pressurized steam reaction beneath a layer of caprock causing a major ‘hydrovolcanic’ explosion.”

A further concern is that a large reserve of groundwater which is coming in contact with the corium lavas is migrating towards the ocean at the rate of four meters per month. This could release greater amounts of radiation than were released in the early days of the disaster.

Radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean:  TEPCO did not admit that leaks of radioactive water were occurring until July of this year. Shunichi Tanaka the head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority finally told reporters this July that radioactive water has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean since the disaster hit over two years ago. This is the largest single contribution of radionuclides to the marine environment ever observed according to a report by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety.  The Japanese government finally admitted that the situation was urgent this September – an emergency they did not acknowledge until 2.5 years after the water problem began.

How much radioactive water is leaking into the ocean? An estimated 300 tons (71,895 gallons/272,152 liters) of contaminated water is flowing into the ocean every day.  The first radioactive ocean plume released by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster will take three years to reach the shores of the United States.  This means, according to a new study from the University of New South Wales, the United States will experience the first radioactive water coming to its shores sometime in early 2014.

One month after Fukushima, the FDA announced it was going to stop testing fish in the Pacific Ocean for radiation.  But, independent research is showing that every bluefin tuna tested in the waters off California has been contaminated with radiation that originated in Fukushima. Daniel Madigan, the marine ecologist who led the Stanford University study from May of 2012 was quoted in the Wall Street Journalsaying, “The tuna packaged it up (the radiation) and brought it across the world’s largest ocean. We were definitely surprised to see it at all and even more surprised to see it in every one we measured.” Marine biologist Nicholas Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York State, another member of the study group, said: “We found that absolutely every one of them had comparable concentrations of cesium 134 and cesium 137.”

In addition, Science reports that fish near Fukushima are being found to have high levels of the radioactive isotope, cesium-134. The levels found in these fish are not decreasing,  which indicates that radiation-polluted water continues to leak into the ocean. At least 42 fish species from the area around the plant are considered unsafe. South Korea has banned Japanese fish as a result of the ongoing leaks.

The half-life (time it takes for half of the element to decay) of cesium 134 is 2.0652 years. For cesium 137, the half-life is 30.17 years. Cesium does not sink to the ocean floor, so fish swim through it. What are the human impacts of cesium?

When contact with radioactive cesium occurs, which is highly unlikely, a person can experience cell damage due to radiation of the cesium particles. Due to this, effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding may occur. When the exposure lasts a long time, people may even lose consciousness. Coma or even death may then follow. How serious the effects are depends upon the resistance of individual persons and the duration of exposure and the concentration a person is exposed to, experts say.

There is no end in sight from the leakage of radioactive water into the Pacific from Fukushima.  Harvey Wasserman is questioning whether fishing in the Pacific Ocean will be safe after years of leakage from Fukushima.  The World Health Organization (WHO) is claiming that this will have limited effect on human health, with concentrations predicted to be below WHO safety levels. However, experts seriously question the WHO’s claims.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Radiation is in the process of writing a report to assess the radiation doses and associated effects on health and environment. When finalized, it will be the most comprehensive scientific analysis of the information available to date examining how much radioactive material was released, how it was dispersed over land and water, how Fukushima compares to previous accidents, what the impact is on the environment and food, and what the impact is on human health and the environment.

Wasserman warns that “dilution is no solution.”  The fact that the Pacific Ocean is large does not change the fact that these radioactive elements have long half-lives.  Radiation in water is taken up by vegetation, then smaller fish eat the vegetation, larger fish eat the smaller fish and at the top of the food chain we will find fish like tuna, dolphin and whales with concentrated levels of radiation. Humans at the top of the food chain could be eating these contaminated fish.

As bad as the ongoing leakage of radioactive water is into the Pacific, that is not the largest part of the water problem.  The Asia-Pacific Journal reported last month that TEPCO has 330,000 tons of water stored in 1,000 above-ground tanks and an undetermined amount in underground storage tanks.  Every day, 400 tons of water comes to the site from the mountains, 300 tons of that is the source for the contaminated water leaking into the Pacific daily. It is not clear where the rest of this water goes.

Each day TEPCO injects 400 tons of water into the destroyed facilities to keep them cool; about half is recycled, and the rest goes into the above-ground tanks. They are constantly building new storage tanks for this radioactive water. The tanks being used for storage were put together rapidly and are already leaking. They expect to have 800,000 tons of radioactive water stored on the site by 2016.  Harvey Wasserman warns that these unstable tanks are at risk of rupture if there is another earthquake or storm that hits Fukushima. The Asia-Pacific Journal concludes: “So at present there is no real solution to the water problem.”

The most recent news on the water problem at Fukushima adds to the concerns. On October 11, 2013, TEPCO disclosed that the radioactivity level spiked 6,500 times at a Fukushima well.  “TEPCO said the findings show that radioactive substances like strontium have reached the groundwater. High levels of tritium, which transfers much easier in water than strontium, had already been detected.”

Spent Fuel Rods:  As bad as the problems of radioactive water and missing cores are, the biggest problem at Fukushima comes from the spent fuel rods.  The plant has been in operation for 40 years. As a result, they are storing 11 thousand spent fuel rods on the grounds of the Fukushima plant. These fuel rods are composed of highly radioactive materials such as plutonium and uranium. They are about the width of a thumb and about 15 feet long.

The biggest and most immediate challenge is the 1,533 spent fuel rods packed tightly in a pool four floors above Reactor 4.  Before the storm hit, those rods had been removed for routine maintenance of the reactor.  But, now they are stored 100 feet in the air in damaged racks.  They weigh a total of 400 tons and contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

The building in which these rods are stored has been damaged. TEPCO reinforced it with a steel frame, but the building itself is buckling and sagging, vulnerable to collapse if another earthquake or storm hits the area. Additionally, the ground under and around the building is becoming saturated with water, which further undermines the integrity of the structure and could cause it to tilt.

How dangerous are these fuel rods?  Harvey Wasserman explains that the fuel rods are clad in zirconium which can ignite if they lose coolant. They could also ignite or explode if rods break or hit each other. Wasserman reports that some say this could result in a fission explosion like an atomic bomb, others say that is not what would happen, but agree it would be “a reaction like we have never seen before, a nuclear fire releasing incredible amounts of radiation,” says Wasserman.

These are not the only spent fuel rods at the plant, they are just the most precarious.  There are 11,000 fuel rods scattered around the plant, 6,000 in a cooling pool less than 50 meters from the sagging Reactor 4.  If a fire erupts in the spent fuel pool at Reactor 4, it could ignite the rods in the cooling pool and lead to an even greater release of radiation. It could set off a chain reaction that could not be stopped.

What would happen? Wasserman reports that the plant would have to be evacuated.  The workers who are essential to preventing damage at the plant would leave, and we will have lost a critical safeguard.  In addition, the computers will not work because of the intense radiation. As a result we would be blind – the world would have to sit and wait to see what happened. You might have to not only evacuate Fukushima but all of the population in and around Tokyo, reports Wasserman.

There is no question that the 1,533 spent fuel rods need to be removed.  But Arnie Gundersen, a veteran nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, who used to build fuel assemblies, told Reuters ”They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods.” He described the problem in a radio interview:

“If you think of a nuclear fuel rack as a pack of cigarettes, if you pull a cigarette straight up it will come out — but these racks have been distorted. Now when they go to pull the cigarette straight out, it’s going to likely break and release radioactive cesium and other gases, xenon and krypton, into the air. I suspect come November, December, January we’re going to hear that the building’s been evacuated, they’ve broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing.”

Wasserman builds on the analogy, telling us it is “worse than pulling cigarettes out of a crumbled cigarette pack.” It is likely they used salt water as a coolant out of desperation, which would cause corrosion because the rods were never meant to be in salt water.  The condition of the rods is unknown. There is debris in the coolant, so there has been some crumbling from somewhere. Gundersen  adds, “The roof has fallen in, which further distorted the racks,” noting that if a fuel rod snaps, it will release radioactive gas which will require at a minimum evacuation of the plant. They will release those gases into the atmosphere and try again.

The Japan Times writes: “The consequences could be far more severe than any nuclear accident the world has ever seen. If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire. Any of these situations could lead to massive releases of deadly radionuclides into the atmosphere, putting much of Japan — including Tokyo and Yokohama — and even neighboring countries at serious risk.”

This is not the usual moving of fuel rods.  TEPCO has been saying this is routine, but in fact it is unique – a feat of engineering never done before.  As Gundersen says:

 ”Tokyo Electric is portraying this as easy. In a normal nuclear reactor, all of this is done with computers. Everything gets pulled perfectly vertically. Well nothing is vertical anymore, the fuel racks are distorted, it’s all going to have to be done manually. The net effect is it’s a really difficult job. It wouldn’t surprise me if they snapped some of the fuel and they can’t remove it.”

Gregory Jaczko, Former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concurs with Gundersen describing the removal of the spent fuel rods as “a very significant activity, and . . . very, very unprecedented.”

Wasserman sums the challenge up: “We are doing something never done before – bent, crumbling, brittle fuel rods being removed from a pool that is compromised, in a building that is sinking, sagging and buckling, and it all must done under manual control, not with computers.”  And the potential damage from failure would affect hundreds of millions of people.

The Solutions

The three major problems at Fukushima are all unprecedented, each unique in their own way and each has the potential for major damage to humans and the environment. There are no clear solutions but there are steps that need to be taken urgently to get the Fukushima clean-up and de-commissioning on track and minimize the risks.

 The first thing that is needed is to end the media blackout.  The global public needs to be informed about the issues the world faces from Fukushima.  The impacts of Fukushima could affect almost everyone on the planet, so we all have a stake in the outcome.  If the public is informed about this problem, the political will to resolve it will rapidly develop.

The nuclear industry, which wants to continue to expand, fears Fukushima being widely discussed because it undermines their already weak economic potential.  But, the profits of the nuclear industry are of minor concern compared to the risks of the triple Fukushima challenges.

The second thing that must be faced is the incompetence of TEPCO.  They are not capable of handling this triple complex crisis. TEPCO “is already Japan’s most distrusted firm” and has been exposed as “dangerously incompetent.”  A poll foundthat 91 percent of the Japanese public wants the government to intervene at Fukushima.

Tepco’s management of the stricken power plant has been described as a comedy of errors. The constant stream of mistakes has been made worse by constant false denials and efforts to minimize major problems. Indeed the entire Fukushima catastrophe could have been avoided:

“Tepco at first blamed the accident on ‘an unforeseen massive tsunami’ triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Then it admitted it had in fact foreseen just such a scenario but hadn’t done anything about it.”

The reality is Fukushima was plagued by human error from the outset.  An official Japanese government investigation concluded that the Fukushima accident was a “man-made” disaster, caused by “collusion” between government and Tepco and bad reactor design. On this point, TEPCO is not alone, this is an industry-wide problem. Many US nuclear plants have serious problems, are being operated beyond their life span, have the same design problems and are near earthquake faults. Regulatory officials in both the US and Japan are too corruptly tied to the industry.

 Then, the meltdown itself was denied for months, with TEPCO claiming it had not been confirmed.  Japan Times reports that “in December 2011, the government announced that the plant had reached ‘a state of cold shutdown.’ Normally, that means radiation releases are under control and the temperature of its nuclear fuel is consistently below boiling point.”  Unfortunately, the statement was false – the reactors continue to need water to keep them cool, the fuel rods need to be kept cool – there has been no cold shutdown.

TEPCO has done a terrible job of cleaning up the plant.  Japan Times describes some of the problems:

“The plant is being run on makeshift equipment and breakdowns are endemic. Among nearly a dozen serious problems since April this year there have been successive power outages, leaks of highly radioactive water from underground water pools — and a rat that chewed enough wires to short-circuit a switchboard, causing a power outage that interrupted cooling for nearly 30 hours. Later, the cooling system for a fuel-storage pool had to be switched off for safety checks when two dead rats were found in a transformer box.”

TEPCO has been constantly cutting financial corners and not spending enough to solve the challenges of the Fukushima disaster resulting in shoddy practices that cause environmental damage. Washington’s Blog reports that the Japanese government is spreading radioactivity throughout Japan – and other countries – by burning radioactive waste in incinerators not built to handle such toxic substances. Workers have expressed concerns and even apologized for following order regarding the ‘clean-up.’

Indeed, the workers are another serious concern. The Guardian reported in October 2013 the plummeting morale of workers, problems of alcohol abuse, anxiety, loneliness, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. TEPCO cut the pay of its workers by 20 percent in 2011 to save money even though these workers are doing very difficult work and face constant problems. Outside of work, many were traumatized by being forced to evacuate their homes after the Tsunami; and they have no idea how exposed to radiation they have been and what health consequences they will suffer. Contractors are hired based on the lowest bid, resulting in low wages for workers. According to the Guardian, Japan’s top nuclear regulator, Shunichi Tanaka, told reporters: “Mistakes are often linked to morale. People usually don’t make silly, careless mistakes when they’re motivated and working in a positive environment. The lack of it, I think, may be related to the recent problems.”

The history of TEPCO shows we cannot trust this company and its mistreated workforce to handle the complex challenges faced at Fukushima. The crisis at Fukushima is a global one, requiring a global solution.

In an open letter to the United Nations, 16 top nuclear experts urged the government of Japan to transfer responsibility for the Fukushima reactor site to a worldwide engineering group overseen by a civil society panel and an international group of nuclear experts independent from TEPCO and the International Atomic Energy Administration , IAEA. They urge that the stabilization, clean-up and de-commissioning of the plant be well-funded. They make this request with “urgency” because the situation at the Fukushima plant is “progressively deteriorating, not stabilizing.”

Beyond the clean-up, they are also critical of the estimates by the World Health Organization and IAEA of the health and environmental damage caused by the Fukushima disaster and they recommend more accurate methods of accounting, as well as the gathering of data to ensure more accurate estimates. They also want to see the people displaced by Fukushima treated in better ways; and they urge that the views of indigenous people who never wanted the uranium removed from their lands be respected in the future as their views would have prevented this disaster.

Facing Reality

The problems at Fukushima are in large part about facing reality – seeing the challenges, risks and potential harms from the incident. It is about TEPCO and Japan facing the reality that they are not equipped to handle the challenges of Fukushima and need the world to join the effort.

Facing reality is a common problem throughout the nuclear industry and those who continue to push for nuclear energy. Indeed, it is a problem with many energy issues. We must face the reality of the long-term damage being done to the planet and the people by the carbon-nuclear based energy economy.

Another reality the nuclear industry must face is that the United States is turning away from nuclear energy and the world will do the same. As Gregory Jaczko, who chaired the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time of the Fukushima incident says “I’ve never seen a movie that’s set 200 years in the future and the planet is being powered by fission reactors—that’s nobody’s vision of the future. This is not a future technology.” He sees US nuclear reactors as aging, many in operation beyond their original lifespan.  The economics of nuclear energy are increasingly difficult as it is a very expensive source of energy.  Further, there is no money or desire to finance new nuclear plants. “The industry is going away,” he said bluntly.

Ralph Nader describes nuclear energy as “unnecessary, uneconomic, uninsurable, unevacuable and, most importantly, unsafe.”  He argues it only continues to exist because the nuclear lobby pushes politicians to protect it. The point made by Nader about the inability to evacuate if there is a nuclear accident is worth underlining.  Wasserman points out that there are nuclear plants in the US that are near earthquake faults, among them are plants near Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, DC.  And, Fukushima was based on a design by General Electric, which was also used to build 23 reactors in the US.

 If we faced reality, public officials would be organizing evacuation drills in those cities.  If we did so, Americans would quickly learn that if there is a serious nuclear accident, US cities could not be evacuated. Activists making the reasonable demand for evacuation drills may be a very good strategy to end nuclear power.

Wasserman emphasizes that as bad as Fukushima is, it is not the worst case scenario for a nuclear disaster. Fukushima was 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the center of the earthquake. If that had been 20 kilometers (12 miles), the plant would have been reduced to rubble and caused an immediate nuclear catastrophe.

Another reality we need to face is a very positive one, Wasserman points out “All of our world’s energy needs could be met by solar, wind, thermal, ocean technology.” His point is repeated by many top energy experts, in fact a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy is not only possible, it is inevitable.  The only question is how long it will take for us to get there, and how much damage will be done before we end the “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that emphasizes carbon and nuclear energy sources.

Naoto Kan, prime minister of Japan when the disaster began, recently told an audience that he had been a supporter of nuclear power, but after the Fukushima accident, “I changed my thinking 180-degrees, completely.” He realized that “no other accident or disaster” other than a nuclear plant disaster can “affect 50 million people . . . no other accident could cause such a tragedy.” He pointed out that all 54 nuclear plants in Japan have now been closed and expressed confidently that “without nuclear power plants we can absolutely provide the energy to meet our demands.”  In fact, since the disaster Japan has tripled its use of solar energy, to the equivalent of three nuclear plants. He believes: “If humanity really would work together . . . we could generate all our energy through renewable energy.”

To take action, click here.

This article was first published on Truthout

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host ClearingtheFOGRadio.org on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media and on UStream.TV/ItsOurEconomy, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are organizers of PopularResistance.org. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

 

Music is everybody’s possession . It’s only publishers who think that people own it.  John Lennon

The Corporate Music industry has had a monopoly on what youths from all around the world listen to. 

They have been controlling the thoughts and beliefs of our youths and even adults through their control of the music industry.  The Music industry is a multi-billion dollar business. There are now “Big Three” record labels since 2012 that include Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group that dominate the market.  They control the artist and set what percentage of the sales receipts they keep as profits.  They also keep the competition between the major record labels at a minimum since they are already a monopoly.

There are many underground hip-hop artists that the political and corporate elite don’t want the public to know about.  They control what kind of music is produced and sold to the public.  In an interview with Jay Woodson, organizer of National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC) in Philadelphia with online news source The Final Call:

FINAL CALL (FC): A recent study of rap songs and music videos on BET and MTV found that several major corporations advertise their products or services during programs that often expose explicit lyrics and images to children. I remember the time when the music industry and society held that rap and hip-hop music was just a fad that would pass. What’s happening now that “everyone” seems to be on board?

JAY WOODSON (JW): What our options are in this political economy are options for profit, which benefits large corporations. This includes the entertainment industry. They give a very narrow message and image of what Black life is. It’s materialistic, about death, it’s about violence, and it’s about misogyny and any diverse or alternative messages and images of that, they don’t seem to support because they don’t find it profitable to have diverse aesthetics within the entertainment industry for people to purchase and to view on television. A lot of time when it comes down to critiquing BET and Viacom, we really need to look at the policy of communications. Like, we understand that the airways are owned by people, who give licenses through the Federal Communication Commission. With legislation that was passed in the mid-90s under Bill Clinton, Congress narrowed the plan for people to tap into the media. A lot of larger media bought up media in smaller markets and it narrowed the choices for smaller media or even public access to have cable programming or even local radio stations. So you have these large corporations such as Clear Channel giving such small packages of 20 songs that are played over and over again.

Lauryn Hill is a Grammy award winning singer, songwriter, rapper and a former member of the Fugees explains how the music industry operates in a letter she wrote on Tumblr to the public about the music business and her tax evasion case where a judge sentenced her to 3 months in prison earlier this year:

For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground.  I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda.  Having put the lives and needs of other people before my own for multiple years, and having made hundreds of millions of dollars for certain institutions, under complex and sometimes severe circumstances, I began to require growth and more equitable treatment, but was met with resistance.  I entered into my craft full of optimism (which I still possess), but immediately saw the suppressive force with which the system attempts to maintain it’s control over a given paradigm.  I’ve seen people promote addiction, use sabotage, black listing, media bullying and any other coercion technique they could, to prevent artists from knowing their true value, or exercising their full power.  These devices of control, no matter how well intentioned (or not), can have a devastating outcome on the lives of people, especially creative types who must grow and exist within a certain environment and according to a certain pace, in order to live and create optimally.

I kept my life relatively simple, even after huge successes, but it became increasingly obvious that certain indulgences and privileges were expected to come at the expense of my free soul, free mind, and therefore my health and integrity.  So I left a more mainstream and public life, in order to wean both myself, and my family, away from a lifestyle that required distortion and compromise as a means for maintaining it.  During this critical healing time, there were very few people accessible to me who had not already been seduced or affected by this machine, and therefore who could be trusted to not try and influence or coerce me back into a dynamic of compromise. Individual growth was expected to take place unnaturally, or stagnated outright, subject to marketing and politics.  Addressing critical issues like pop culture cannibalism or its manipulation of the young at the expense of everything, was frowned upon and discouraged by limiting funding, or denying it outright.  When one has a prolific creative output like I did/do, and is then forced to stop, the effects can be dangerous both emotionally and psychologically, both for the artist and those in need of that resource.  It was critically important that I find a suitable pathway within which to exist, without being distorted or economically strong-armed.  During this period of crisis, much was said about me, both slanted and inaccurate, by those who had become dependent on my creative force, yet unwilling to fully acknowledge the importance of my contribution, nor compensate me equitably for it.  This was done in an effort to smear my public image, in order to directly affect my ability to earn independently of this system.  It took a long time to locate and nurture a community of people strong enough to resist the incredibly unhealthy tide, and more importantly see through it.  If I had not been able to make contact with, and establish this community, my life, safety and freedom, would have been directly affected as well as the lives, safety and freedom of my family.  Failure to create a non toxic, non exploitative environment was not an option.

As my potential to work, and therefore earn freely, was being threatened, I did whatever needed to be done in order to insulate my family from the climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism that I was surrounded by.  This was absolutely critical while trying to find and establish a new and very necessary community of healthy people, and also heal and detoxify myself and my family while raising my young children.  There were no exotic trips, no fleet of cars, just an all out war for safety, integrity, wholeness and health, without mistreatment denial, and/or exploitation.  In order to liberate myself from those who found it ok to oppose my wholeness, free speech and integral growth by inflicting different forms of punitive action against it, I used my resources to sustain our safety and survival until I was able to restore my ability to earn outside of it!

When artists experience danger and crisis under the effects of this kind of insidious manipulation, everyone easily accepts that there was something either dysfunctional or defective with the artist, rather than look at, and fully examine, the system and its means and policies of exploiting/’doing business’.  Not only is this unrealistic, it is very dark in its motivation, conveniently targeting the object of their hero worship by removing any evidence that they ‘needed’ or celebrated this very same resource just years, months or moments before.  Since those who believe they need a hero/celebrity outnumber the actual heroes/celebrities, people feel safe and comfortably justified in numbers, committing egregious crimes in the name of the greater social ego.  Ironically diminishing their own true hero-celebrity nature in the process.

It was this schism and the hypocrisy, violence and social cannibalism it enabled, that I wanted and needed to be freed from, not from art or music, but the suppression/repression and reduction of that art and music to a bottom line alone, without regard for anything else.  Over-commercialization and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual.  I Love making art, I Love making music, these are as natural and necessary for me almost as breathing or talking.  To be denied the right to pursue it according to my ability, as well as be properly acknowledged and compensated for it, in an attempt to control, is manipulation directed at my most basic rights!  These forms of expression, along with others, effectively comprise my free speech!  Defending, preserving, and protecting these rights are critically important, especially in a paradigm where veiled racism, sexism, ageism, nepotism, and deliberate economic control are still blatant realities!!!

Learning from the past, insulating friends and family from the influence of external manipulation and corruption, is far more important to me than being misunderstood for a season!  I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns!  I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival.  I conveyed all of this when questioned as to why I did not file taxes during this time period.  Obviously, the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments, as authorities, who despite being told all of this, still chose to pursue action against me, as opposed to finding an alternative solution. My intention has always been to get this situation rectified.  When I was working consistently without being affected by the interferences mentioned above, I filed and paid my taxes.  This only stopped when it was necessary to withdraw from society, in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family. As this, and other areas of issue are resolved and set straight, I am able to get back to doing what I should be doing, the way it should be done.  This is part of that process.  To those supporters who were told that I abandoned them, that is untrue.  I abandoned greed, corruption, and compromise, never you, and never the artistic gifts and abilities that sustained me.”

There are many “underground Hip-Hop artists that are politically conscious-driven such as Common, Flobots, Dead Prez, Rebel Diaz and many others.  Lowkey is another underground Hip-Hop artist, a former member of Poisonous Poets, lives in the UK and has traveled the world in support of Anti-war and human rights causes.  He announced last year that he will leave the Music Industry to pursue his studies.  Lowkey is a rapper that can easily be distinguished from main stream rappers.  He has numerous albums produced independently that include Dear Listener, Soundtrack to the Struggle and Uncensored.  One of his most popular songs is called ‘Obama Nation’.  He has toured the world with several rappers including Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco.  He is an influential part of the underground world of Hip-Hop music transforming how rap music can be used to inform and educate people not to turn them into consumers.  Lowkey is one of several rappers who are at the forefront.  The main stream media does not mention Lowkey, instead they continue to play Hip-Hop music from the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Snopp Dog among many others.  Their Music has no substance or positive meaning behind the lyrics.  It is music that destroys the minds of urban youths.  But according to the media whether based in the United States, Great Britain and Israel, all criticize Lowkey.  The Jewish Chronicle Online describes in a 2011 article how Lowkey and other artists such as Elvis Costello can become a “Potential Nightmare” that can influence youths during an event organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign for the second anniversary of Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza conflict that killed thousands:

One expert studying anti-Israel activity described the increasing influence of performers such as Lowkey as a “potential nightmare,” and compared the impact of his backing for the campaign to the effect of artists such as Annie Lennox and Elvis Costello attacking the Jewish state.    

Lowkey was heavily criticized by the Jewish Chronicle when it said At last week’s rally he spoke of his pride at being an anti-Zionist and called Israel a “terrorist state”. The event organisers and audience later successfully persuaded him to perform his track “Long Live Palestine”, written during the Gaza conflict. It accuses Israel of bombing hospitals and mosques and criticises everyone from Barack Obama to Coca Cola and Huggies nappies. Fox news jumped on the bandwagon with Glen Beck mocking Lowkey when he danced and showed gang signs to his song “Terrorist?  In his Website www.glennbeck.com describes why he did what he did on his show:

Sometimes a story comes along and it’s almost impossible to find the words to really capture what’s happening. More often than not, the story involves tragedy, riots, and possibly some kind of new world order/Edward Bernays “conspiracy”. Sometimes Glenn just breaks down in tears because of, well, anything really. It could be the death of the Republic, uncensored pictures of the Alamo, or the latest Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy. And sometimes the stories that take the words away involve Glenn dancing and throwing up gang signs.

Is it a coincidence that big name rappers who are known throughout the world are sponsored by the biggest corporations in the world?  Hip-Hop music gets nominated for the Grammy awards based on the number of sales and popularity of the rappers.  Lowkey lives in London, the heart of the former empire known to support numerous causes especially the Palestinian struggle against Israel.  What drives Lowkey to focus his music on human rights issues?  In an interview conducted by ‘Ceasefire’ an independent political and cultural quarterly publication by Jody McIntyre, Lowkey was asked what has “hurt or inspired him the most?” He replied:

Well, I have been privileged enough to travel to many different countries, particularly doing what I do for a living, it is a real blessing. Recently I travelled to Australia, a nation founded upon the genocide of over 500+ separate nations, I heard some harrowing stories of what life has been like for the indigenous people of that land the last 223 years since Captain James Cook arrived there with a British flag. I learned that until the 1967 Referendum, the indigenous, native people of that land were considered “Fauna and Flora” ie Plants and Animals within Australian Law.  True justice can only come with acknowledgement of the historical context within which we live. The fact that his date of arrival on the land is still celebrated as “Australia Day” shows that justice for the indigenous people of that land is something we all must fight for, especially those of us who are British citizens. Travelling and touring throughout the United States alongside my friend Norman Finkelstein, showed me that despite the constant manipulation by the mainstream media in that country, there are millions of US citizens who do NOT believe US security is dependent upon on its supremacy and global dominance.

There are millions of US citizens who do not believe it is a good idea to have over 1,000 military bases worldwide from Japan to Colombia to Diego Garcia, these people are just so marginalised in the mainstream discourse that in the rest of the world it is easy to forget they even exist. Being detained twice in Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv was an interesting experience; particularly the second time, when I was held for 12 hours. It made me realise that a state which is built upon the foundations of injustice will never feel secure.  The ever-changing and diverse citizens of Israel will always be united by one thing and one thing only; fear. The IDF are a colonial force of scared teenage supremacists who would shoot at their own shadow. The worst thing about that, is that they are supplied with the most sophisticated weaponry on the face of this planet by the United States and Britain. Israel is a colonial supremacist state which is rapidly expanding, and the Zionist dream which Theodor Herzl had is still yet to be reached.

Many rappers in the West come from poor neighborhoods where crime, drugs and high incarceration rates affects their communities and do rap about “life in the ghetto”.  But many rap about sex, drugs, prison and money.  I have seen rap videos where they have numerous women on multi-million dollar yachts as Jay-Z’s video called ‘Big Pimpin’.  According to Dr. Carolyn West, associate professor of psychology and the study of prevention of  violence at the University of Washington said “What’s changed over time is the greater sexualization of hip-hop. Initially, it  started off as a revolutionary form of music. Now, large corporations produce  images that sell, and there is a blatant link between hip-hop and pornography” in a  Pittsburg Post-Gazette article in 2008 called ‘Researcher cites negative influences of hip-hop.’  Rappers promote business agenda’s for the music industry where advertisements and propaganda prevail over young minds.  Lowkey raps about real issues that affect life on earth.  He wants his music to make a change in society.  Why does the main stream media (MSM) and the Music industry criticize Lowkey?

Why does the Jewish Chronicle Online call him and other musicians of consciousness a “Potential Nightmare?”  Can Lowkey’s music inspire youth to seek change or the truth for that matter?  Yes, the MSM and the music industry want to keep youths interested in issues that don’t matter.  They want them to follow “Uninspiring rappers” who are about nothing.  The majority of rappers are used by the major labels to sell propaganda.  They use rappers to further demoralize people who have no idea what is happening in their communities and the world.  Do music fans who follow main stream rappers know who Lowkey is?  I doubt it.  But I will bet that the state of Israel does.  In 2009, Lowkey was detained in Israel, when he arrived in Tel Aviv’s airport for 9 hours.  According to www.nme.com:

The musician had been travelling to Tel Aviv to take part in a series of charity shows in the country, including sites in Palestine and Palestinian refugee camps, to raise funds to help rebuild the Gaza Strip.

He told NME.COM that his passport was confiscated at Tel Aviv airport on February 27, after which he was questioned, detained for nine hours then released.

“As soon as I stepped off the plane with my AA guide to Israel tucked under my arm, I was pulled away to the side and interrogated as to why I was in Israel, by a man who wore no uniform identifying himself as any type of security but was clearly heavily armed,” Lowkey explained.

“After this I carried on through to passport control. After giving over my British passport it was confiscated. I was then detained for nine hours. During this time I was interrogated about many aspects of my life, what the purpose of my trip was, where my parents are from and where I planned to go in Israel.

“Eventually I was told my story was a lie and was subjected to a bout of the Israeli polices paranoid mind games. I was eventually released, knowing that no matter how frustrating what I just went through was, I knew that it was not even a miniscule fraction of the degradation Palestinian people are subjected to on a daily basis.”

Lowkey and many other underground Hip-Hop artists are controversial to the corporate music world and even to average people who follow the main stream rappers.  Some people may not like his style.  People do have different tastes, styles or other musical preferences.  All legitimate reasons.

Hip-Hop is controlled by major corporations, they have a monopoly on several record labels mentioned earlier.  Singer Cee-Loo even commented on how and why corporate influence is relevant to hip-hop music.  In an interview with The Daily Beast, platinum recording artist, Cee-Lo commented on the current state of Hip-Hop and what is the agenda behind corporate control of the industry:

We don’t judge, but we acknowledge that acting and performing music are very kindred spirits. You write something down, go into a recording booth, and reenact the emotion onstage. At one point in time, there was a code of conduct: creed and credential. And I’ve said this before on Twitter, but hip-hop was once an Ivy League institution, and now it’s become a community college—you don’t need any qualifications to come on in. And, quite frankly, it can be a little embellished-upon. There’s a low entry level, and it’s become monotonous and congested. All you need to do is be able to rhyme “cat” and “hat,” and you can become an MC. But executives have a lot to do with the larger agenda to emasculate and colonize. I believe hip hop is being used in some mass way to influence underachievement. Maybe these individuals may not be aware of the larger agenda, and how they’re being puppeteered, but if they are, that’s even more shameful.

He is correct to point out that corporations “colonize” youth through music which promotes “underachievement” and depicts women in a negative way.

Lowkey is an example of what major corporate record labels do not want people to listen to. Down below is one of Lowkey’s music videos which I recommend to those who never heard his music before.  It is worth a listen.

So I ask the question once again, why does the music industry keep “hip-hop underground music” underground?

Here is Lowkey featuring Klashnekoff  in ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’:

The Libyan Puzzle in the Scramble for Africa

October 24th, 2013 by Sam Muhho

As a new era in history has begun to dawn on humanity, new doors are being opened in both opportunities and also in the realms of potential threats and conflagrations. This reality has been noted most clearly in the developing affairs of Africa, a continent that is on the verge of transformation through both technology and evolving international interactions. In the face of potential progress driven by Africa’s lucrative natural resources and economic potential, an ominous threat looms above Africa, the threat of the neo-imperialist, globalist agenda which has scarred the face of humanity with its continual drive of global hegemony. This “globalist agenda” is a militarized corporatism in a neo-imperialist system operating from all sides of the western political spectrum and representing the corporate elite of Wall Street and London; no clearer was the nefarious nature of these interests shown than in the subversion of Libya two years ago in 2011.

Before delving into the demise of Libya, it is necessary to understand neo-imperialisms’ ambitions for Africa; its goal is the subjection of Africa into its orbit in order to serve as a critical lynchpin in the establishment of a unipolar world order (including ousting potential Chinese competition). The unipolar world order is the creating of a single center of global economic, political, and military power coupled with the control of international trade and the distribution of resources as is admittedly the agenda noted by Dr. Carroll Quigley in his “Tragedy and Hope” among various other publications from western corporate-financier think tanks ranging from the Council on Foreign Relations to the Brookings Institute. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also spoken of hegemonic ambitions on the part of the west to establish a unipolar order at a 2007 Munich conference.

As Libya again takes prominence again in the media with the increasing unrest even provoking a mobilization of U.S. Marines from Spain to Italy, across from Libya, hinting a potential military involvement in the already decimated state, it is important to review the foundational history of the current Libyan dilemma before the “disinfo” echo chamber of the mainstream media begins a new full-throttle propaganda blitz. The increasing urgency for this review is news headlines even alleging a “new war” in Libya because of militia rivalries.

Libya has recently been ravished by increasing internal strife and ethno-tribal divisions that was the continuation of NATO’s systematic destruction of the nation-state in 2011. In  Dr. Webster Tarpley’s “Al Qaeda: Pawns of CIA Insurrection from Libya to Yemen”, it was explained that four primary factors contributed to the Libyan “revolution” in 2011 with the primary one being racist and monarchist elements among the eastern Libyan Harabi and Obeidat tribes found in the Benghazi-Darna-Tobruk corridor who had historically resented Gaddafi for toppling the western-backed King Idris which hailed from that region. This would explain why many of the protestors in eastern Libya were photographed carrying pictures of King Idris. That is not to say that all participants in the opposition were negative elements but it cannot be denied that negative elements had been pervasive as pawns of the western subversion and even culminated in the wide presence of Al Qaeda flags in Benghazi, even atop the Benghazi courthouse, reflecting the prominent role of radical Islamist militias that will be discussed below. It is not to be forgotten that insurrectionary activity is not new in this region as Gaddafi had witnessed continuous waves of strife and militarized opposition, often propped up by the west for geopolitical purposes, and this was reflected during an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, often with racial overtones. Tony Cartalucci in “Libya at Any Cost” documented the censored history of unrest in Libya driven by western interests:

1980′s: US-CIA backed National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) made multiple attempts to assassinate Qaddafi and initiate armed rebellion throughout Libya.
1990′s: Noman Benotman and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) wage a campaign of terror against Qaddafi with Osama Bin Laden’s assistance.
1994: LIFG kills 2 German anti-terrorism agents. Qaddafi seeks arrest warrant for Osama Bin Laden in connection to the attack but is blocked by MI6 who was concurrently aiding the LIFG.
2003: Upon Qaddafi’s abandonment of WMD programs, Libya’s collaboration with MI6 & the CIA to identify and expose the LIFG networks begins, giving Western intelligence a windfall of information regarding the group. Ironically this information would give Western nations an entire army to rebuild and turn against Qaddafi in 2011.
2005: NFSL’s Ibrahim Sahad founds the National Conference of Libyan Opposition (NCLO) in London England.
2011: Early February, the London based NCLO calls for a Libyan “Day of Rage,” beginning the “February 17th revolution.”
2011: Late February, NFSL/NCLO’s Ibrahim Sahad is leading opposition rhetoric, literally in front of the White House in Washington D.C. Calls for no-fly zone in reaction to unsubstantiated accusations Qaddafi is strafing “unarmed protesters” with warplanes.
2011: Late February, Senators Lieberman and McCain and UK PM David Cameron call for providing air cover for Libyan rebels as well as providing them additional arms.
2011: Early March; it is revealed UK SAS special forces are already operating inside Libya
2011: Mid-March; UN adopts no-fly zone over Libya, including air strikes. Immediately, the mission is changed from “protecting civilians” to “ousting Qaddafi.” Egypt violates the arms embargo of UN r.1973 with Washington’s full knowledge by supplying Libyan rebels with weapons, while Al Qaeda’s ties to the rebels are admitted by everyone including the rebels themselves.
2011: Late April; Documented evidence is revealed that Libya’s rebels are conducting a barbaric campaign, employing extrajudicial killings, indiscriminate military force, child-soldiers, landmines, and torture. New York Times blames a lack of support.
2011: Late April, early May; Followed by calls to assassinate Qaddafi, ordnance crash into his son’s home killing him and 3 of Qaddafi’s grandchildren. NATO concurrently seeks a new UN resolution authorizing ground troops while aggressor states seek to release seized Libyan assets to the rebels

This tribally-based resentment that categorized much of the violence in 2011 contributed to racially-driven atrocities committed against Libyan blacks that make up a third of the Libyan population and inhabit the western regions including the Fezzan tribes of the Libyan southwest. Dr. Webster Tarpley also documented the prominent role of Al Qaeda mercenaries in the Libyan conflict whose nest in eastern Libya had been a world-leading nurturing ground for extremism according to the US Military Academy at West Point’s “Combating Terrorism Center” (CTC) 2007 reports on foreign fighters in Iraq. The key rebel city of Darna, for example, was commandeered by a rebel terrorist triumvirate featuring Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, formerly of the Al Qaeda-tied “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group” (LIFG), who fought against NATO forces in Afghanistan. At his side were Sufian bin-Kumu, Osama bin Laden’s former chauffeur and an inmate at Guantánamo Bay for six years, as well as al-Barrani who is also a devoted member of LIFG.

Tarpley does an excellent job in demonstrating how such figures were not atypical but were the norm in a region that was the world’s “terrorist capital” according to the CTC. It is also disturbing to note the desperate attempts at damage control by the CTC in the wake of NATO’s disastrous intervention where previously documented facts were purposefully obscured and spun to cover NATO’s illegitimacy. Tarpley also documented the role of western assets such as the Libyan National Salvation Front as well as the French-assisted defection of top-Qaddafi associate Nouri Mesmari in 2010 who would later collaborate with the west in fomenting military mutinies against Gaddafi in northeast Libya.

Being the only African nation to rank as “high” on the Human Development Index and boasting a highly developed infrastructure, Libya under Gaddafi has become the globalists’ geopolitical gateway into Africa. To the detriment of all free humanity, this gateway has been trampled down by the illegal NATO war on Libya which revolved around verified propaganda regarding Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi’s alleged atrocities, a misrepresentation of the Libyan rebels, and a complete media blackout regarding geopolitical forces at play. These claims would culminate in international myths spun around Gaddafi who was claimed to be bombing his people, hiring African mercenaries, and staging mass rapes to terrorize opposition as the official dogmas justifying NATO’s aggression.

 Integral to the narrative justifying NATO’s intervention revolved around painting Gaddafi as a brutal tyranny launching a bloody crackdown against a “peaceful” movement with a host other atrocities ranging from hiring African mercenaries, using the air force against protestors, staging mass rapes, and threatening “genocide” against Benghazi. The NATO narrative of the revolution being the noble Libyan masses rising up against Gaddafi and his mercenaries was painted most clearly in the early March 14, 2011 Reuters article titled, “Libyan jets bomb rebels, France pushes for no-fly zone.” In this typical mainstream media report, rhetorical justification is given for the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine in sanctioning a no-fly zone in Libya based on the tired narrative of Gaddafi using air power to brutally suppress what is seen as an indigenous uprising, seeming to be heading down the pathos becoming a “tragedy for Libya.” A warning for an upcoming bloodbath against Gaddafi was sounded. Interestingly, even the “Independent” would later publish an article debunking this, pointing out the unreliability and factually-depraved basis for this propaganda among other accusations levied against Gaddafi. This baseless propaganda, already having poisoned western perception of what happened in Libya, would later be supplemented with reports involving the role of alleged mercenaries and mass rapes to whip up justification for intervention.

 In reality, such a narrative was factually bankrupt as masterfully documented by Maximillain Forte in his “Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya” which directly nails the illegitimacy of the NATO campaign. While Gaddafi is certainly no saint and while many groups did have legitimate grievances against him, he nonetheless had a solid support base in Libya while the rebels were overall lacking legitimacy and were being driven by Islamist radicals, exiled politicians with globalist ties, and decades of ethnically-based tension. Gaddafi had invested heavily into the infrastructure and the social structure of his country, bringing the country to nearly eradicating illiteracy and also combating homelessness which had previously been a constant problem. Women rights were also championed as women in Libya were allowed to study and work where they desired as even BBC noted.

While Gaddafi had invested in infrastructure, the globalists sought to offset this by asserting their presence in Libya through both the destruction of its infrastructure and seeking to bring Libya into their economic orbit. There was a concerted effort to undermine Gaddafi’s agenda of building a united, strong, and self-sufficient African community and strengthening African multilateral institutions. Furthermore, Libya provided a gateway into Africa for the Pentagon’s “AFRICOM” to undermine and oust Chinese economic interests on the African continent which were a major challenge for western corporate interests’ access to resources and economic hegemony. Another key point was Gaddafi’s goal of creating a single, gold-based, African currency called the “gold dinar” with which he planned to trade African oil for. This would have conflicted directly with western corporate and banking interests and their international fiat monetary system upon which the IMF and their “casino economy” is built. Countries’ purchasing power would be determined by the amount of gold they had as opposed to fiat paper currency that made no substantial backing.

 Regarding the specific claims of Gaddafi’s atrocities as parroted by the mainstream media, Forte gives many insights that help dismantle the myths behind the “humanitarian” war. For example, the claims of air strikes by Gaddafi are noted to have been a fabrication peddled by the BBC and Al Jazeera. The claims were completely unfounded and based on fake claims. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen would admit during a Pentagon press conference that they had seen no confirmation of such reports. David Kirpatrick of the New York Times would be cited by Forte as admitting that, “the rebels feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda, claiming nonexistent battlefield victories…and making vastly inflated claims about his [Gaddafi’s] behavior”.

 The claims of African mercenaries, integral to portraying Gaddafi as being on one side against Libya as a whole, were perhaps the most atrocious and racist of the myths, sprung from the rebels’ own tribal animosities towards indigenous Africans in Libya and migrant African workers that were common throughout the country. Human Rights Watch would claim that it found no evidence at all of African mercenaries in eastern Libya where the rebellion and fighting were centered and even noted that Gaddafi had attempted to end discrimination against these people, contradicting, as Forte noted, the rabid claims made throughout the mainstream press including Time Magazine, The Telegraph, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. The Los Angeles Times also found no evidence of such mercenaries with the New York Times even pointing out the “racist overtones” involved in the conflict and the disinformation they helped spread. Amnesty International would later confirm that “mercenaries” put on display by the rebels had been undocumented African migrant workers and noted things like rampant discrimination and disproportionate detention of black Libyans in Az-Zawiya. Mainstream media and Al Jazeera would attempt to cover its crimes by pointing out, though briefly, the reality that Africans in Libya were being subjected to lootings, abduction, and killing by the rebels. All of this, of course, in light of the fact that Africans were an integral part of Libyan society, making up 33% of the population. A severe crime never to be forgotten is the ethnic cleansing of the beautiful black Libyan town of Tawargha, previously inhabited by 35,000 people, expelled by racist militants calling themselves, “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin.”Another crime was the systemic slaughter of blacks in western Libya by the eastern rebels advancing on Tripoli (see here as well).

Another hysteria peddled by the media revolved around Gaddafi’s alleged planning of mass rapes, often blamed on nonexistent “mercenaries, which was then used by the media to help garner sympathy to the rebels. The source for these claims, also adequately exposed by Forte, began with Al Jazeera, a propaganda outlet for the Wall Street-London backed Qatari regime, claiming that Gaddafi had distributed Viagra to his troops and ordered them to use rape against those who opposed him. These claims were then redistributed throughout the media and found their way to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo would later fraudulently claim that Gaddafi had ordered the rape of hundreds of women and that Gaddafi had personally ordered Viagra to be distributed. U.S. ambassador Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton would also make these allegations (see Forte’s article).

In reality, a UN rights inquiry in Libya headed by Cherif Bassiouni would find these claims a baseless “mass hysteria.” Bassiouni told of a woman to “claimed to have sent out over 70,000 questionnaires and received 60,000 responses, of which 259 reported sexual abuse.” Bassiouni would ask to see these questionnaires, but never receive them, casting doubt on the narrative. It was pointed out that it seems improbable that 70,000 questionnaires were sent out in March considering the fact that the postal service wasn’t working. Bassiouni whose team would uncover only 4 cases of sexual abuse in their study. The boxes of Viagra that Gaddafi supposedly distributed were found fully intact right next to burnt-out tanks, indicating staged propaganda (Forte). Further confirming this is Amnesty International and who further shamed the imperialist establishment and thoroughly shattered this lie. According to the “Independent”, “Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty, who was in Libya for three months after the start of the uprising, says that “we have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped”.

The most disingenuous claim peddled by the media to justify the Libyan war was the “save Benghazi” crusade. While it is true that Gaddafi had employed “overblown” rhetoric threatening to fight from house to house and “squash the cockroaches”, the media emphasizing these claims admits the radical-extremists nature of the hordes fighting among the rebels. The same media would also disregard Gaddafi’s “overblown” rhetoric when it was convenient to do so but attached to the Benghazi narrative as it seemingly gave justification for NATO to intervene. There is no evidence that Gaddafi had genocide planned as he only made the charges to the armed groups causing upheaval in the east of the country and even offered them amnesty and an open passage into Egypt across the border to avoid bloodshed. Professor Alan J. Kuperman exposed the propaganda talking-points of this argument, citing as evidence for the fact that Gaddafi had no genocide planned the reality that he did not perpetuate it in areas that he had captured fully or partially from the rebels including Zawiya, Mistrata, and Ajdabiya.

 The very actions of NATO itself would discredit the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine employed to justify NATO’s intervention as NATO would be directly responsible for the deaths of countless civilians. NATO would gun down civilians in the central square of Zawiya and “taking a fairly liberal definition of command and control” facilities by targeting a residential district, killing some of Gaddafi’s family members and three of his grandchildren. NATO was also responsible for targeting Libya’s state television, killing three civilian journalists and earning condemnation by international journalist federations (see Forte’s article).

 NATO oversaw the death of 1,500 refugees fleeing Libya by sea, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, the same people who were baselessly demonized as mercenaries. NATO would ignore their distress calls even though refugees would make contact with vessels belonging to NATO members. NATO also would launch numerous unjustifiable strikes against Libya furthering the damage toll. Above all, NATO was giving cover to rebels who were perpetuating verifiable genocide against cities, such as Sirte, with NATO backing and airstrikes to order, cutting off electricity, food, and water and using bombardment against civilians. Under this blueprint of destruction, scores of people would die in multiples of what was happening initially in Benghazi against armed rebel gangs which Gaddafi was fighting making a mockery out of the pre-text used to justify their globalist, faux-humanitarian war in the first place (Forte).

NATO and the globalist war on Libya was one bankrupt of any moral grounding or political justification. It was a war born of compromised interests that sought not the liberation of an oppressed people but rather the pillages of Libya which would later serve as a gateway into the heart of Africa. While the globalists attempt to sell their wars as moral and for the betterment of the world, they are at heart driven only by a desire to spread hegemony and consolidate control, with the ultimate goal being global hegemony. Any attempt to invoke a moral cover should be shunned in light of the barrage of fake atrocities attributed to Gaddafi and complementing crimes by NATO, best captured in the lies regarding Gaddafi massacring his people, hiring mercenaries, and staging mass rapes among other echo chamber distortions. Only when we tear down the media’s curtain of deception can we better understand the events at play and position ourselves intellectually to combat globalist imperialism which seeks to subvert us all.

 Sam Muhho is a student of history and a devoted anti-imperialist and anti-globalist advocate devoted to the work of Tony Cartalucci of the Land Destroyer Report and similar geopolitical analysts. He runs the Facebook page “Globalist Watch” at facebook.com/gwatch1776 in order to awaken people to the current state of world affairs.

With the blessing of the New York Times, the Obama administration has succeeded in cementing a dubious conventional wisdom about the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons last Aug. 21 — without presenting a shred of actual evidence.

In a front-page story co-written by Michael R. Gordon, who also co-wrote the infamous “aluminum tube” article falsely accusing Iraq of building nuclear centrifuges in 2002, the Times included the U.S. allegations about Syria’s chemical weapons use into its storyline as flat fact, not a point in serious dispute.

The Times reported on October 23 that the State Department warned the White House in June that Syrian officials would see inaction on initial chemical weapons incidents — that the U.S. government was also blaming on the Syrian government — as a “green light for continued CW use.” The Times then wrote that the State Department’s warning “proved to be prophetic. A devastating poison gas attack on Aug. 21 killed hundreds of civilians.”

The story continues in that vein, accepting as indisputable fact that the Syrian government was behind the Aug. 21 attack on a suburb of Damascus despite significant doubts among independent analysts, UN inspectors and, I’m told, U.S. intelligence analysts.

Indeed, the reported lack of consensus in the U.S. intelligence community helps explain why a four-page U.S. “Government Assessment” of the incident was released on Aug. 30 not by the Director of National Intelligence but by the White House press office and was touted not by the DNI but Secretary of State John Kerry. The U.S. government’s white paper contained no evidence to support its assertions blaming the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Though the Aug. 21 incident brought the United States to the brink of another Middle East war, the Obama administration has refused over the past two months to release any proof that it claims to possess, such as communications intercepts, images of rocket launches or even the basis for its precise count, “1,429,” of those supposedly killed by Sarin gas.

The U.S. government has even denied U.S. congressman Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, access to the supposed evidence under-girding President Barack Obama’s request for authorization to use force against Syria, a proposal that is now in abeyance pending Syria’s compliance with a Russian plan for destroying Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

Grayson, who has publicly questioned why the administration insists on withholding its evidence, was informed by the House Intelligence Committee that he would not be allowed to look at the intelligence because he gave an unrelated floor speech citing published charts about National Security Agency spying that were leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The committee chairman, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, also justified the denial, in part, because Obama’s request to use force is not currently before the House. According to an article in Politico, Rogers said requests to review intelligence information are weighed against “the sensitivity to the national defense or the confidential conduct of the foreign relations of the United States of the information sought … the likelihood of its being directly or indirectly disclosed [and] the jurisdictional interest of the member making the request.”

However, there remains the distinct possibility that the fluid developments in Syria could suddenly put Obama’s war resolution back before Congress amid demands for an immediate up-or-down vote, while leaving no time for a careful review of the dubious casus belli.

Time for Examination

In the heat of a new war fever, there would be little patience for unwinding the conventional wisdom blaming the Aug. 21 attack on the Syrian government. That’s especially true now that the New York Times and much of the mainstream U.S. news media has accepted the allegations as indisputable truth.

Ideally, the careful scrutiny that a case for war should demand would come when passions are tempered — as they are now — not at their hottest. But the Obama administration, the House Intelligence Committee and, indeed, the major U.S. news media seem to believe that the public and even members of Congress should just fall in line.

Over the past two months, I’ve heard repeatedly that the public shouldn’t expect to see the intelligence that justifies war despite the bitter and bloody experience of the Iraq invasion (not to mention a long and sorry history of other U.S. government lies and propaganda justifying wars).

President Obama has a curious understanding of the word “transparency,” by which he seems to mean: keeping the public in the dark and giving a peek at the “evidence” only to officials who won’t ask any tough questions. Though he is not the first president to obsess over secrecy, some presidents have shown more respect for American and world public opinion, even if that requires sacrificing some modest intelligence advantage.

Think of President John Kennedy exposing the U-2′s high-resolution-photo capabilities to show the world the Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962; President Ronald Reagan revealing the U.S. ability to intercept Soviet air communications after the KAL-007 shoot-down in 1983; even President George W. Bush authorizing Secretary of State Colin Powell to reveal phone intercepts in support of the Iraq invasion in 2003. Granted, some of those revelations (like the KAL-007 and Iraqi intercepts) were doctored to make a propaganda case, but exposure of the intelligence capabilities was real.

It’s hard to believe that the Obama administration’s sources and methods regarding the Aug. 21 incident are any more sensitive than the intelligence techniques released by earlier presidents. The world surely knows that the United States can intercept phone calls and has satellites that can record both visual and infrared images with great precision.

The only logical reasons why the Obama administration would refuse to release any U.S. evidence in support of its accusations on Syria — especially after the bogus case for invading Iraq — is that the evidence is weak to non-existent or provided by “sources,” such as Israel, Saudi Arabia or the Syrian rebels, who have a vested interest in drawing the United States into the Syrian civil war.

The UN Report

While refusing to release any of its own evidence, the Obama administration has argued that a 38-page report by UN inspectors contained indications that some non-governmental organizations and media outlets, including the New York Times, have interpreted as implicating the Syrian government.

But the UN report itself offered no findings of responsibility and actually contained information casting doubt on some U.S. claims, including finding no Sarin or other chemical weapons agents at one of two sites inspected outside Damascus. The inspectors also reported that they detected signs that people associated with the rebels had tampered with the two sites before the inspectors arrived. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Murky Clues from UN's Syria Report."]

In the field, Robert Fisk, a veteran reporter for London’s Independent newspaper, found a lack of consensus among UN officials and other international observers — despite the career risks that they faced by deviating from the conventional wisdom on Assad’s guilt.

“Grave doubts are being expressed by the UN and other international organisations in Damascus that the sarin gas missiles were fired by Assad’s army,” Fisk wrote. “Why, for example, would Syria wait until the UN inspectors were ensconced in Damascus on 18 August before using sarin gas little more than two days later — and only four miles from the hotel in which the UN had just checked in?… As one Western NGO put it … ‘if Assad really wanted to use sarin gas, why for God’s sake, did he wait for two years and then when the UN was actually on the ground to investigate?’”

New evidence also has surfaced on how the U.S. government worked aggressively over the past dozen years to ensure that the leaders of key UN agencies, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, will present findings in ways most favorable to U.S. policies. [See Consortiumnews.com's "How US Pressure Bends UN Agencies."]

Ideally, the role of the press corps should be to examine all such claims skeptically and to insist as much as possible that the various sides in a dispute present their evidence so the information can be carefully evaluated, especially when the issue is one of war or peace.

If a government refuses to present any evidence at all — even hiding the facts from a legislator like Grayson who isn’t just going to toe the line — that press skepticism should be ratcheted up even higher. Instead, the New York Times on Syria does what it did during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, simply make itself available as a willing propaganda vehicle.

The Elites’ Strange Plot to Take Over the World

October 24th, 2013 by Global Research News

The idea of a country seems pretty simple. I live in America, and I’m an American. She lives in France, and she is French. The Americans have a president who is their leader, the British have a prime minister, the French have their own president, and so forth.

But the way political decision-making around security issues ricochets around the world, from Western capital to Western capital, is making a mockery of commonly held conceptions of national sovereignty. In recent weeks, a British parliament vote on Syria forced the U.S. president to seek authorization from Congress, while leaked documents detailed extensive cooperation between the intelligence services of the U.S. and other nations. The president of Bolivia was forced to down his plane by Italy and France, just because he joked about having Edwards Snowden on board. And so on, and so forth.

This all demands the question: Why do we hold the conception that we live in separate nation-states? Well, it turns out that this question was actually asked after World War II, and the answer American leaders came up with was … we shouldn’t.

In fact, Western elites in America and Western Europe after World War II made a serious effort to get rid of nations altogether, and combine all “freedom-loving peoples” into one giant “Atlantic Union,” a federal state built on top of the NATO military alliance.

As odd as it sounds, the documentary evidence is clear. This movement did manage to create a “European Union,” which came from the same ideological wellspring as the “Atlantic Union.” Once we recognize that the Cold War saw the construction of a powerful international regime that explicitly sought to get rid of sovereign nations, these broad security architectures revealed by the Syria situation and the NSA spying revelations make a lot more sense.

The strange story of Atlantica

The effort to unite Europe and the U.S. started in 1939, with the publication of a book by an influential journalist, Clarence Streit. This influential book was called ”Union Now,” and had a galvanizing effect on the anti-fascist youth of the time, a sort of cross between Thomas Friedman’s “The World Is Flat” and Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine.” Streit served in World War I in an intelligence unit, and saw up close the negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles. He then became a New York Times journalist assigned to cover the League of Nations, which led him to the conclusion that the only way to prevent American isolationism and European fascism was for political and economic integration of the major “freedom-loving” peoples, which he described as America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and most of Western Europe. The Five Eyes surveillance architecture was created just a few years later, as was the international monetary regime concocted at Bretton Woods.

When Streit wrote “Union Now,” in 1939, the German threat was obvious, World War II was beginning, and fascism and communism had linked arms through the pact between the Nazis and the Soviets. Streit’s argument, that the West needed to combine its strength to fight totalitarianism everywhere, was a powerful draw. The youth of the 1930s — those who read Streit’s book — became the political and diplomatic leaders of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and many of them went on to craft the multilateral institutions and international policies of the Cold War.

Indeed, the congressional record is peppered with resolutions and hearings from the late 1940s to the 1970s pushing for Atlantic Union. For example, in 1971, the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives convened a hearing to discuss the prospect of combining the United States of America and Western Europe into one country. This “Atlantic Union” would be a federal union, very similar to the the one described in United States Constitution. Existing countries would become states under a federalist system, with the larger federal system having its own currency, military, interstate commerce regulation and foreign relations apparatus.

That day in 1971, the committee was discussing a specific piece of legislation, a resolution — House Concurrent Resolution 163 — to create an “Atlantic Union Delegation,” a committee of 18 “eminent citizens” to join with other NATO country delegations and negotiate a plan to unite. The subcommittee chairman presiding over the hearing, congressman Donald Fraser of Minnesota, described the specific goal of the legislation as convening an “international convention to explore the possibility of agreement on a declaration to transform the present Atlantic alliance into a federal union, set a timetable for transition to this goal and to prescribe democratic institutions under which the goal would be achieved.” It was to be a Constitutional Convention.

Similar legislation, he noted, “was considered by the full House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1960, 1966, and 1968, with favorable reports in 1960 and 1968.” Congress even passed the resolution in 1960, and spent money to send a delegation to Paris for such a convention (though John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson ignored the delegation’s recommendations).

This proposal had a great deal of elite support. Nearly every presidential candidate from the 1950s to the 1970s supported it, as did hundreds of legislators in the U.S. and Western Europe. The context of first World War II, and then the Cold War, made such a proposal sound reasonable, even inevitable. 1971 was the tail end of the post-World War II era, during which there had been a frenzy of international institutional creation work designed to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression and the two world wars. A large multilateral military force formed of allied governments and millions of soldiers of all nationalities had recently defeated the fascist powers on three continents. Millions had an experience of international comity in the defeat of the Axis Powers — so the concept of political union was not so far-fetched.

Moreover, the specter of the failed diplomatic and monetary initiatives of the 1930s haunted postwar leaders, and caused them to think deeply and act decisively to weave together a system whose core was the economic, military and political interdependence of sovereign allies. The Depression was seen as a phenomenon borne of a failed international system based on short-sited nationalist objectives. Streit, the president of the International Movement for Atlantic Union, breathlessly advocated for a union lest history be repeated. A lack of a union would lead to a monetary crash, and then crushing poverty. As circumstances changed, Streit’s testimonials to Congress changed. Just after World War II, he noted that Hitler’s appeal came from fascists arguing for political totalitarianism under the slogan “you can’t eat freedom.” He argued, consistent with the anti-communism of the time, that such a union was the only way to beat the Soviet threat. Later, he pointed out that union was important because with nuclear weapons at hand, the world could not afford a repeat of pre-World War II foreign policy mistakes. Then, as Bretton Woods began breaking down in the 1960s, he argued that a 1930s-style financial crash was inevitable without union.

Streit and his fellow Atlanticists were pragmatic; they sought to build the Atlantic Union on top of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, the Atlantic military alliance. And there was momentum on the side of the Atlanticists; the post-WWII international institution-building was impressive. In 1944, officials from the U.S. and U.K. — primarily John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White — worked at Bretton Woods to create what would become the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These institutions were designed to avert a monetary crisis such as the one that had occurred in the 1930s. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, was created in 1947, similarly, to avert a trade war. The United Nations was constructed to do what the League of Nations had not, to serve as a legitimate forum for nations of the world to continuously deliberate. NATO could apply the united military strength of the West. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or the OECD, served originally as a forum whereby the United States could funnel aid to Europe to create the European Union. And this is to say nothing of the collaborative Cold War spying apparatus.

Faced with a Soviet threat, it seemed only natural to think that the next step after all of this institution-building was an Atlantic Union. Richard Nixon in 1966 supported the “Atlantic Union resolution” as a “forward-looking proposal which acknowledges the depth and breadth of incredible change which is going on in the world around us.” President Dwight Eisenhower, upon leaving office, thought such a trans-Atlantic union was inevitable, and argued it could cut massive Cold War defense costs by half. Eugene McCarthy, just before entering the presidential primary race against Lyndon Johnson (who did not support the measure), cosponsored the resolution in the Senate. Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern and Estes Kefauver were ardent believers. Even Barry Goldwater supported it; Ronald Reagan was the only major national figure in the Republican Party who opposed it, and Lyndon Johnson was a significant opponent in the Democratic Party.

The far right hated this idea. Gunthler Klincke of the Liberty Lobby called it a scheme for a socialist world government, and Myra Hacker of a group called the “American Coalition of Patriotic Societies,” said proponents of this plan “distrust and despise the American citizen” and that it was a plan for “national suicide.” Though the proposal for Atlantic Union has been written out of liberal historical memory, there are echoes of this episode in right-wing rhetoric about One World Government. The irony of this is that, as liberals gently chuckle at right-wing paranoia about what they perceive as an imagined plot to create a world government, it is the conservatives who have a more accurate read on history. There was a serious plan to get rid of American sovereignty in favor of a globalist movement, and the various institutions the right wing hates — the IMF, the World Bank, the U.N. — were seen as stepping stones to it. Where the right wing was wrong is in thinking that this plot for a global government was also a communist plot; it wasn’t, it was motivated by anti-communism. The proponents of the Atlantic Union in fact thought that this was the only way to defeat the USSR.

Streit explained that uniting the countries of Western Europe and the United States would “give their union a hand strong enough to win for peace peacefully, a land that no combination of dictatorships could challenge — all four aces and the joker. By this I meant: The ace of spades or productive power; the ace of diamonds or raw material power; the ace of clubs, or armed power; the ace of hearts, or moral power; and the joker — their growing power, their ability to admit to this nuclear union of the free other nations that desired to enter it, and were willing and able to uphold its standards of liberty. These few freedom practicing peoples needed only unite federally to” achieve it.

The question of Atlantic Union, proposed in 1939, percolated as a catch-all answer to Western foreign policy problems, until the 1970s. There were two basic arguments for Atlantic Union. The architects of NATO and the OECD believed that closer interdependence of nations in the non-Soviet “free world” would isolate the USSR. And this same group recognized that the Bretton Woods system, whereby the United States held most of the world’s gold and operated its reserve currency, was breaking down as Western European nations rebuilt their economies and as U.S. banks sought to escape regulation domestically by parking dollars abroad in those newly prosperous economies. Combining Western Europe and the U.S. into one federal union with one currency and regulatory harmonization of “interstate commerce” could avoid this “Eurodollar” problem.

A formal Atlantic Union was not a realistic proposal, though it was not as unimaginable as one might think — American support for the now-existing European Union came from the same intellectual and political tradition. The State Department, and politicians in power like Lyndon Johnson, opposed global federalism. And as the years crept on, it became less and less realistic. The World War II generation had idolized “Union Now” in their youth, but they had to confront the failures of the war in Vietnam and the global colonial project that Streit ignored (or worse, embraced).  The new political generation drew their inspiration not from hoary pre-WWII tomes of global utopianism, with the implications of a global rich white man’s club. As one New Left-influenced witness in the 1971 hearing put it, “The 1960′s revolution of political consciousness within the United States means the rejection of Atlantic Union ideas or alliance structures such as NATO in the seventies.”

But Atlantic Union was an important part of the debate of how the postwar era would be structured. Think about the debate as follows. On the right, you have the Liberty League and the right-wing patriots, represented by politicians like then governor of California Ronald Reagan. These people wanted a return to an isolationist or hyper-nationalist model of foreign relations. Then you had the mainstream State Department liberal internationalists, the JFKs and LBJs, who built entangling institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the U.N. and so forth. Even further on the globalist spectrum, you had the Atlantic Unionists. All three strands echo, today. Consider Larry Summers, who in 2000 as treasury secretary argued for allowing cheap Chinese goods into the U.S. as a way of establishing “a fifth column for openness” in that country. Failure to integrate China in the global system with trade concessions, he said, would not only cut the average American’s paycheck, but would “make it more likely his son will be in a war in Asia.” This Thomas Friedman-esque “The World Is Flat” argument owes an intellectual debt to Streit. Integrate, the case goes, or perish.

The formal concept of Atlantica cracked under the weight of Vietnam and the coming neoliberal revolution in finance. The United States didn’t maintain its monopoly on stores of gold, as Nixon repudiated Bretton Woods in the face of high inflation and monetary instability. But as first Jimmy Carter, and then Ronald Reagan, deregulated the banking industry, global capital flows once again became a reality. Only, global capital flows just weren’t run by nation-states, as the Atlantic Unionists and liberal internationalists imagined, they were run by institutions like Citigroup and politically captured regulatory entities such as the Federal Reserve.

Did the plan succeed?

The institutional framework of a world government composed of Western European and American states remains far more potent than we like to imagine, even beyond the security apparatus revealed by Snowden’s documents. For example, in every major free trade agreement since NAFTA, U.S. courts have been subordinated to international tribunals, which operate according to rules laid out either by the World Trade Organization, a division of the World Bank, or by a division of the United Nations known as UNCITRAL (the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law). These tribunals rule on consumer, labor, and environmental questions – not just trade. And they are trans-national, much as the supply chains of Apple, Ford, Toyota, or any other multi-national corporation are, or the technology that Google, Microsoft, or IBM promote all over the world.

There are other deep links. The Basil banking accords seek international harmonization of capital standards. Why? It’s not clear what the benefits are of having global standards for what banks should do. But the global elites push onward, regardless, towards a one world solution. And lest one think this is just theoretical, the Federal Reserve supported the European Central Bank with unlimited swap lines during the financial crisis, lending as much as $500B to the ECB in 2008 and 2009. European and other foreign banks drew liberally from the New York Federal Reserve’s discount window. The Fed became the central banker to the world.

Questions of sovereignty still exists – as just one of many examples, the U.S. still refuses to sign the Law of the Sea Treaty, which is a nod to the Liberty League. But the history and reflexive embrace of globalism is far more complicated than we want to admit. And it’s time to begin grappling with the international architecture that we have. This means recognizing that the Cold War involved constructing a “deep state” to partially subordinate national sovereignty, and therefore, voting populations, to transnational elites.

As the spying scandal, a truly global scandal, continues, activists, citizens and journalists are recognizing the powerful remnants of this Cold War-era global deep state. The players in the scandal hop from country to country, some safe zones and some not. The Guardian is a British newspaper, and is now partnering with the New York Times, to keep the global intelligence services at bay. Cyberspace is a new and strange transnational front combining elements of war, trade, journalism, finance, activism, surveillance and applied government power. The Syrian situation too is a global security problem, with the French and the British tied to the American political order. The American executive is finding himself buffeted by British debates that should be irrelevant in a sovereign state acting solely in its vital national security interests.

Streit never achieved his goal of having a formal “Atlantic Union.”  But with an international “intelligence community,” globalized supply chains, increasingly global free trade agreements that subordinate national court systems, and globalized private and central banks, all couched under the rubric of promoting “freedom,” he has as much claim to being the true animating force behind what we’re facing today as anyone else.

Copyright Salon, 2013

This is beginning to become a regular occurrence, and McCain has the arrogance to say he’ll run for another term as Senator in 2016. But it’s worse than that…

The absent-minded Senator was ambushed by an intelligent constituent…

“I’ve been told for 12 years al-Qaeda is my enemy Sir, why is my money going to al-Qaeda in Syria?”

“I am not some fool standing here in front of you Sir, and I know that our money and weaponry, and by the way I have friends and family in the Jordanian Army and I know what our troops are doing there, and any man who supports al-Qaeda, I don’t care if he is the president of the United States or a Senator from the great state of Arizona”.

1-John-McCain-owned-Syria

McCain went on to berate his constituent, displaying the condescending attitude which has become McCain’s hallmark in recent years.

McCain did one worse this time, however – he accused the concerned Phoenix resident of lying by denying the man’s claim. Of course the Phoenix resident was 100% correct, supported by the US government’s own admission on September 11, 2013, that the CIA has been running guns into Syria admittedly since the summer. As the Washington Post reported:

“The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures.” 

As 21WIRE revealed last month, in addition to John McCain, other US politicians have also pledged their loyalty to rebel commander Gen. Salim Idriss in Syria. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) gushed that he felt embarrassed when he met with Syrians in the field just three weeks ago. “It was humiliating (…)… The president had announced that we would be providing lethal aid, and not a drop of it had begun. They were very short on ammunition, and the weapons had not begun to flow.”

It’s not only the guns which the US taxpayer is picking up the bill for in Syria. US military personnel have been deployed in neighboring Jordan in order to prep Islamic fighters before they are deployed as part of terrorist gangs in Syria.

John McCain crossed into Syria to visit the rebel militant leader General Idris on May 27,2013. Opposition General Idris has under his command, a number of militant terrorist cells who have been engaged in wanton violence, including the slaughter of hundreds of innocent Kurdish villagers in Northern Syria.  Here is McCain himself, posing for a photo with known terrorists in Syria:

To prove that Washington is both colluding and running PR cover for the rogue Senator, a State Department official issued a statement afterward, admitting they were aware of McCain clandestine visit into Syria, but referred further any questions to McCain’s office. That’s a cover-up.

In the photo above, McCain is joined by at least one known criminals, kidnapper Mohamed Nour (center, behind McCain’s left shoulder) from terrorist group “Northern Storm”, confirmed by Beirut’s The Daily Star newspaper as being part of a group who kidnapped 11 Shia muslims in 2012.

Who paid for McCain’s illegal trip to Syria? Answer: the US taxpayer.

McCain should be, at the very least – out of public office. If the US system truly delivered justice however, he would be in prison serving out his sentence.

by Julianne Hing,

In 17 U.S. states, the majority of public school students are low-income. But the poverty isn’t distributed evenly across the country, according to a new report from Southern Education Foundation. Thirteen of the states are in the South, and the other four are in the West.

The situation is dire.

Researchers measure the landscape by the numbers of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, a rough proxy for gauging poverty. Students are eligible for free or reduced meals if their family household income is 185 percent beneath the poverty threshold.

In 2011, a student from a single-parent home with an annual income of $26,956 or less would qualify for free or reduced lunch. In Mississippi, 71 percent of public school students qualify for free and reduced lunch. In New Mexico it’s 68 percent; in California 54; in Texas it’s 50 percent.

 

 

Percentages of low-income students in U.S. states Illustration: Southern Education Foundation

While 30 percent of white students attend schools where the majority of students are low-income, 68 percent of Latino students attend schools classified as such. And 72 percent of black public school students go to schools where the majority of students are low-income.

The situation has serious implications for the educational futures of the nation’s youth, especially as budget-crisis-stricken cities and states are cutting first and deepest from their public schools.

Read the report in full here.  Southern Education Foundation (SEF) report:

A New Majority: Low Income Students in the South and the Nation, finds that low income children are a majority of students in the public schools of 17 states across the nation – and 13 of those states are in the South. Without fundamental improvements in how the South and the nation educate low income students, the trends that this report documents will ricochet across all aspects of American society for generations to come.

As the world begins to digest the implications of intellectual property for online censorship, another IP issue threatens an even more fundamental part of our daily lives: our food supply.

Backed by legal precedent and armed with seemingly inexhaustible lobbying funds, a handful of multinationals are attempting to use patents on life itself to monopolize the biosphere.

Find out more about the process of patenting life and what it means for the food supply on this GRTV Backgrounder, originally aired February 15, 2012.

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Transcript and sources:

The oft-neglected legal minefield of intellectual property rights has seen a surge in public interest in recent months due to the storm of protest over proposed legislation and treaties related to online censorship.[1] One of the effects of such legislation as SOPA and PIPA and such international treaties as ACTA is to have drawn attention to the grave implications that intellectual property arguments can have on the everyday lives of the average citizen.

As important as the protection of online freedoms is, however, an even more fundamental part of our lives has come under the purview of the multinational corporations that are seeking to patent the world around us for their own gain. Unknown to a large section of the public, a single US Supreme Court ruling in 1980 made it possible for the first time to patent life itself for the profit of the patent holder.

The decision, known as Diamond v. Chakrabarty, centered on a genetic engineer working for General Electric who created a bacterium that could break down crude oil, which could be used in the clean-up of oil spills.[2] In its decision, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger ruled that:

“A live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101”

With this ruling, the ability to patent living organisms, so long as they had been genetically altered in some novel way, was established in legal precedent.

The implications of such a monumental ruling are understandably wide-reaching, touching on all sorts of issues that have the potential to change the world around us. But it did not take long at all for this decision’s effects to make itself felt in one of the most basic parts of the biosphere: our food supply.

In the years following the Diamond v. Chakrabarty decision, an entire industry rose up around the idea that these new patent protections could foster the economic incentive for major corporations to develop a new class of genetically engineered foods to help increase crop yields and reduce world hunger.

The first commercially available genetically modified food, Calgene’s “Flavr Savr” tomato, was approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration in the US in 1992 and was on the market in 1994.[3] Since then, adoption of GM foods has proceeded swiftly, especially in the US where the vast majority of soybeans, corn and cotton have been genetically altered.

By 1997, the problems inherent in the patenting of these GM crops had already begun to surface in Saskatchewan, Canada. It was in the sleepy town of Bruno that a canola farmer, Percy Schmeiser, found that a variety of GM canola known as “Roundup Ready” had infected his fields, mixing with his non-GM crop.[4] Amazingly, Monsanto, the agrichemical company that owned the Roundup Ready patent, sued Schmeiser for infringing their patent. After a years-long legal battle against the multinational that threatened to bankrupt his small farming operation, Schmeiser finally won an out-of-court settlement with Monsanto that saw the company agree to pay for the clean-up costs associated with the contamination of his field.

In India, tens of thousands of farmers per year commited suicide[5] in an epidemic labeled the GM genocide.[6] Sold a story of “magic seeds” that would produce immense yields, farmers around the country were driven into ruinous debt by a combination of high-priced seeds, high-priced pesticides, and crop failure. Worst of all, the GM seeds had been engineered with so-called “terminator technology,” meaning that seeds from one harvest could not be re-planted the following year. Instead, farmers were forced to buy seeds at the same exorbitant prices from the biotech giants every year, insuring a debt spiral that was impossible to escape. As a result, hundreds of thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the Indian countryside since the introduction of GM crops in 1997.

As philosopher, quantum physicist and activist Vandana Shiva has detailed at great length, the effect of the invocation of intellectual property in enabling the monopolization of the world’s most fundamental resources was not accidental or contingent.[7] On the contrary, this is something that has been self-consciously designed by the heads of the very corporations who now seek to reap the benefit of this monopolization, and the monumental nature of their achievement has been obscured behind bureaucratic institutions like the WTO and innocuous sounding agreements like the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

Although the deck appears to be stacked in favour of the giant multinationals and their practically inexhaustible access to lobbying and legal funds, the people are by no means incapable of fighting back against this patenting of the biosphere.

In India itself, where so much devestation has been wrought by the introduction of genetically engineered crops, the people are fighting back against the world’s most well-known purveyor of GMO foods, Monsanto. The country’s National Biodiversity Diversity Authority has enabled the government to proceed with legal action against the company for so-called biopiracy, or attempting to develop a GM crop derived from local varieties of eggplant, without the appropriate licences.[8]

Although resistance to the patenting of the world’s food supply should be applauded in all its forms, what is needed is a fundamental transformation in our understanding of life itself from a patentable organism to the common property of all of the peoples who have developed the seeds from which these novel GM crops are derived.

This concept, known as open seeds, is being promoted by organizations around the globe, including Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya organization.[9]

To be sure, it will be a long and arduous uphill battle to bring this issue to the attention of a public that seems to be but dimly aware of what genetically modified foods are, let alone the legal ramifications of the ability to patent life, but as the work of such organizations as Navdanya continues to educate people about the issues involved, the numbers of those opposed to the patenting of the biosphere likewise increases.

From seed-saving and preservation projects to an increased awareness of and interest in organic foods, people around the globe are beginning to take the issue of the food supply as seriously as the companies that are quite literally attempting to ram their products down the consumers’ throats.

As always, the power lies with the consumers, who can win the battle simply by asserting their right to choose where and how they purchase the food, a lesson that was demonstrated once again earlier this month in Germany.[10]

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8uO9bw1TNw
[2]http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/447/303/case.html
[3]http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidance…
[4] http://www.percyschmeiser.com/
[5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4RA4hbNRkY
[6] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousand…
[7] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYwOTLopWIw
[8] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmIBvA1Tf20
[9] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfNCCJECpss
[10] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqRbziwzVkk

Seeds of Destruction

Leery of Lies: American Distrust in Media Hits Record High

October 24th, 2013 by Global Research

“That’s why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
―George Carlin

Recently a poll was conducted among Americans to determine the extent to which people have faith in mainstream media to report the news accurately.

The result showed that a staggering sixty percent of Americans do not trust the media in the United States — an all-time record.

More and more people are realizing that mainstream media serve as nothing more than well-funded mouthpieces for corrupt leaders. They work hand-in-hand to deliver news that suits corporate agendas (namely, spin and lies). Mainstream media exists to parrot the drivel and propaganda of the global elite:

“Speaking figuratively is the preferred way of talking by officials who want to appear to be saying something substantive when they have nothing substantive to say. In many cases, it is meaningless trash talk, a hidden way of lying. President Obama is a master of it.” (See ““Talking Trash”: War, Economic Crisis and the Lies of History“)

The encouraging news is that alternative and independent media websites like Global Research are seeing an influx of new readers from around the world. It means that people are looking for news stories that reflect facts, not ones that are bought and paid for. As John Kozy writes:

“Those familiar with my work know that I believe that knowledge belongs to everyone, not just to those who discover it. So I post my pieces where anyone who wants to read them can access them freely. But although the knowledge is free, the means of promulgating it are not. Everyone knows that it is costly to design, print, and distribute books and magazines, but few seem to realize that it costs money to host and maintain websites too.

So if you appreciate the writings of authors that appear on a website, remember that supporting them requires that you support the site too, for the site is what makes it possible for you to read them. Supporting GlobalResearch.ca is not just an act of generosity, it is also an act of gratitude for what it makes available to you every day.”
John Kozy, Ph.D., retired professor of philosophy and logic (www.jkozy.com)
For list of articles by John Kozy, visit: http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/john-kozy

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New York Times Buries CIA Facts on Latin American Deaths

October 24th, 2013 by David Lindorff

Salvador Allende’s eyeglasses. Museo Historico Nacional, Santiago, Chile

The New York Times has a venerable history of eliding references to any US role in overthrowing governments or murdering foreign leaders. But an article in Thursday’s edition by Times reporter Simon Romero (“Latin America Brings Up Its Dead, Seeking Truth to Help Settle the Past”) raises the censorship bar.

Running at over 1200 words, the article describes the exhumation of the remains of the likes of leftist Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda, deposed leftist Brazilian Presidents Joao Goulart and Juscelino Kubitschek, ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende Gossens and his predecessor Eduardo Frei Montalva—all of whose deaths are viewed with suspicion by Latin Americans. Yet Romero manages to mention a possible US role only once, and then only indirectly and with reference to a half-century old case —when he notes that Brazil’s elected President Goulart had been ousted from office in a 1964 military coup “supported by the United States.”Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (right)

That is the only reference to the US in the entire article.

Quite remarkably, given the amount that has been exposed over the years about it, Romero mentions the role of a Latin America-wide assassination program called Operation Condor—without once noting that the whole thing wasorchestrated or at least encouraged and enabled by the US.

Condor’s Wingmen

Eduardo Frei Montalva

Eduardo Frei Montalva (left)

Condor was a vast conspiracy that involved the cooperative efforts of the intelligence agencies of all the military dictatorships in the region which, during the 1970s and 1980s, killed as many as 35,000-50,000 people, mostly leftist leaders, labor activists, and opponents of those dictatorships.

This lapse is particularly outrageous given that in years past, even the New York Times itself reported on the intimate role of the US in the creation and operation of Operation Condor.

For example, in a March 6, 2001 article, the NY Times reported on a “recently declassified” US State Department document. It revealed that the US had facilitated communications among South American intelligence agency heads who were busy trying to eliminate left-wing opposition groups in their respective countries.  Part of the program involved going after opposition leaders who had fled coups and were living in neighboring South American countries.

Salvador Allende GossensSalvador Allende Gossens (right)

The document in question, a 1978 cable to then US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance from the US ambassador to Paraguay, Robert E. White, was unearthed by Professor J. Patrice McSherry of Long Island University, who called it “another piece of increasingly weighty evidence suggesting that U.S. military and intelligence officials supported and collaborated with Condor as a secret partner or sponsor.”

In this cable, Ambassador White reports on a conversation he had with the chief of staff of Paraguay’s military, General Alejandro Fretes Davalos, who he says informed him that the South American intelligence agencies involved in Operation Condor “keep in touch with one another through a U.S. communications installation in the Panama Canal Zone which covers all of Latin America.”  That communications station, he wrote, was “employed to coordinate intelligence information among the southern cone countries.”

White, in this memo to Vance, expresses a fear that the U.S. role in Operation Condor might be revealed during a then active criminal investigation into the assassination of former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier and an American colleague, Ronni Moffitt—both of whom were killed by an explosive device placed in their vehicle in Washington, D.C.  “It would seem advisable,” writes White, “to review this arrangement to insure that its continuation is in U.S. interest.”

image002Another document discovered at the same time, this one a CIA cable concerning the Brazilian junta’s role in Operation Condor, refers to “Condor-Tel,”  described as the “communications network established by the Condor countries.” It also refers to “European operations” of the Condor countries, which likely involved assassination plots against ousted leaders and activists currently living in asylum there after fleeing their martial-law homelands in Latin America.

The Times Tango

The whole approach taken by Times journalist Romero, with the apparent cooperation or perhaps encouragement of the paper’s foreign editors, was to present the current exhumations of important leftist corpses (the ones he cites actually date from between 2004 and 2013) like Neruda’s, Goulart’s, Kubitschek’s and Frei’s—as part of some kind of delightful if arcane Latin American cultural tradition. It was an “exhumation fever,” as he puts it, even going so far as to write, “Scholars say the practice may be the secularized continuation of customs from the time of early Christianity, when a vibrant trade involved the body parts of saints.”

None of these exhumations, however, involve the selling of body parts. They are about looking for evidence that important leftist leaders and political figures, said to have died natural deaths, may have in fact been assassinated in conspiracies that, for the most part, could likely be traced back to the US and the Central Intelligence Agency. Romero mentions none of this.

Salvador Allende Gossens

Salvador Allende Gossens (right)

In the case of Chile’s President Frei, for example, who was president of Chile until the election of Marxist Socialist Allende, his death in 1982 had long been officially attributed to complications following an operation for a stomach ailment. But because by that time the retired Christian Democrat had become a sharp critic of martial law under Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the general who had led the coup against Allende, there werealways suspicions he had been murdered. In fact, as Romero reports, after his body was exhumed, forensics experts concluded that Frei had been poisoned by small doses of mustard gas and the highly toxic heavy metal element thallium.

Augusto Pinochet

Augusto Pinochet (left)

What Romero doesn’t report is that back in 1982, under President Ronald Reagan and CIA Director William Casey, Operation Condor was in full swing. It is unlikely that Pinochet—largely a US creation and puppet, whose coup in 1973 overthrowing Allende was the handiwork of President Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger—would have had Frei killed on his own, without US permission. (Even when he mentions the 1973 coup in Chile, Romero fails to say a word about the central US role in fomenting it.)

Goulart too, was said to have died of a heart attack back in 1976, when he was living in exile in Argentina. The exhumation of his body is being undertaken to see if he was actually poisoned. While Romero mentions that concern, he fails to mention who the prime suspects would be behind such a murder: Condor and, by extension, the CIAkissinger-pinochet1

Escalating the Disinformation

The New York Times has long censored its coverage of Latin America, particularly when it comes to the covert actions of the US government to undermine popular democracy in what Washington considers to be its “backyard.” But this particular piece by Romero takes that censorship to the level of the absurd.

He even fails to note, in an aside mentioning the recent exhumation of the body of the late Palestine Authority leader Yasser Arafat, who died mysteriously of unknown causes in 2004, that Swiss medical experts had found traces of the rare and highly toxic element Polonium on his clothing. Such a finding, which was published in the respected British medical journal, the Lancet, makes it probable that Arafat was poisoned. Only a limited number of intelligence agencies have ready access to Polonium, among them agencies in the US, USSR and Israel, the latter of which had long made its dislike of Arafat clear, at one point in 2002 threatening to bomb him as he holed up in the badly damaged Palestinian Authority headquarters.

Joao Goulart

Joao Goulart (left)

It should come as no surprise that Romero, a long-time South American correspondent for the Times who is currently posted to Brazil, would write such an article so blatantly censoring out the history of US covert action in Latin America. Romero also notoriously wrote an absurd scare story, based solely upon Defense Intelligence Agency data, purporting to show that Venezuela was becoming a regional military threat, though as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, Venezuela’s military at the time was dwarfed by both Colombia’s and Brazil’s and was 1/500th the size of the US military.

To give Romero his due, though, the problem is larger than one reporter. Indeed, transforming the horrific doings of this country into “honey isn’t that fascinating” folkloric excursions is nothing new—and not limited to any oneTimesman or woman. Indeed, using “cultural tradition” to explain why anyone would want to exhume popular figures who died under suspicious circumstances is reminiscent of a previous New York Times article in which the author used pseudopsychology, and even neurology, to explain why some people believe in conspiracy. Another example would be the hiring of the popular filmmaker Errol Morris to make the assassination of John F. Kennedy a “delightful” example of coincidence in action via the strange case of the “Umbrella Man” on the Grassy Knoll (see this and this.)

***

When it comes to the political murders that underlie most of the current exhumations in Latin America, we have no way around what looks like theTimes’ deliberate failure to mention the potentially explosive issue of US sponsorship. That this astonishing oversight comes at a time of rising anti-American sentiment in many of the same Latin American countries seeking closure and justice cannot go unmentioned. And as we mourn these tragic deaths, we might add one more, right here in the United States: the slow death of honest journalism. It’s time to exhume the truth—everywhere.

A food distribution program aimed at expectant and new mothers and their babies may have increased the number of girls and women getting pregnant in and around the town of Savanette, located in Haiti’s Centre département(province).

That’s the perception of many residents and even beneficiaries of a USAID-funded World Vision “Multi-Year Assistance Program” (MYAP), running from 2008 through September 2013 here and in a number of communities in Haiti. As part of the MYAP, World Vision distributes food to pregnant women and mothers of children six to 23 months old (so-called “1,000 day programming”), as well as to vulnerable populations such as people living with AIDS, orphans, and malnourished children.

“There are some people getting pregnant every year” in order to get free food, claimed Carmène Louis, a former beneficiary. “That’s why there are more children around. If you want to get in the program, you can’t unless you are pregnant… You see youngsters [getting pregnant at] 12 or 15 years old! I think it’s a real problem for Savanette.”

But she also admitted that some of her neighbors were hungry, saying “things are getting worse, not better.”

While the lack of up-to-date statistics prevented Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) from verifying whether or not the birthrate had indeed risen in Savanette, an investigation carried out over the course of a year discovered that many in this village near the Dominican Republic border – including respected elders, community radio members, an agronomist, and several beneficiaries – believe the MYAP has caused girls and women to resort to pregnancy in order to receive the bulgur wheat, beans, vegetable oil, and flour at monthly distributions.

A USAID-funded report on food aid programs in Haiti appears to confirm the perception. Evaluators for the 2013 USAID-BEST Analysis noted “a rise in pregnancies in one rural area and the possibility of this phenomenon being linked to public perceptions of 1,000 days programming,” although the report did not name which “rural area.”

Like many others questioned, agronomist Ruben Louis Jeune swore to the phenomenon and expressed concern.

“There are people who get pregnant on purpose,” he said, noting that often “youngsters are making babies. The population is growing, people are having children but they will not be able to afford to take care of them or pay for school.”

Asked about the possible increased pregnancies, Haiti’s Secretary of State for the Revival of Agriculture said that, while he was not familiar with the case, it was not out of the question.

“I have worked in the Central Plateau for 15 years,” he told HGW. “If I talk to you just about the perverse effects of the programs I myself have seen in front of my eyes… there are so many!”

The World Vision MYAP program also provides pregnant women and young mothers with prenatal care as well as support for vegetable gardens, “Behavior Change Communication” education, and other benefits via “Mothers Clubs.” In addition, the program has many other aspects related to helping Haitian farmers improve their animal husbandry or crop output, including technical assistance and training for farmers associations, distribution of seeds and livestock, support for improving irrigation, and other help.

HGW did not look at those aspects of the program. Journalists focused only on the food aid and its real or perceived impacts in and around Savanette.

The food assistance program is an attempt by USAID to target vulnerable populations, especially children.

The Haitian government and foreign agencies say at least 21% of all children suffer from “stunting,” meaning they are under-weight and under-height for their age. Some provinces are worse than others, and rural children generally have a higher stunting prevalence.

Beginning in 2008, USAID funded MYAPs to be run by World Vision, ACDI/VOCA and Catholic Relief Services in three different regions of the country, providing money as well as food: about 14,000 metric tons (MT) of food aid per year during the 2011-2013 period. (The organizations received and distributed higher amounts in 2010 and 2011 as part of the earthquake response.)

...World Vision received 4,275 MT for FY2012 and approximately 3,830 MT for FY2013, which ended on September 30. The U.S.-based agency also received almost US$80 million for the grant, to which they added some of their own funding. The program cost over US$90 million for 2008-2012 and was extended for one year. (HGW could not find the cost of the additional year.)

World Vision’s food distribution programs on La Gonâve, the Central Plateau, and parts of the Artibonite province cost about US$4.5 million per year, according to the agency’s communications officer Jean-Wickens Méroné.

According to a World Vision evaluation of its own work, published in 2012, the food aid has had positive effects. During the first three years of the MYAP, the internal report says, the amount of “stunting” dropped for children aged six to 59 months went from 23.5% to 6%.

Food aid is “more negative than positive”

Some in and around Savanette are undernourished. In the last two years of FEWSNET reports, the Savanette region is pretty consistently considered “stressed,” which is #2 on a scale of #1 to #5, #1 being “no food insecurity” and #5 being “catastrophe/famine.”

“There is hunger here,” agronomist Jeune noted. “The distribution of food is not in and of itself a problem. It has a small positive impact, but when you investigate, you see that it is more negative than positive.”

Like Jeune, farmers and residents of Savanette have many questions about the program, which comes on of decades of food aid.

In addition to the real or perceived pregnancy increase, HGW also discovered that farmers and agronomists are convinced food aid has helped create a culture of dependence, discouraging people from working all of their plots and planting formerly important grains like sorghum. It has also encouraged consumers to buy imported rice rather than buy or grow sorghum, corn, and other crops, as in the past.

Even beneficiaries raised questions about the program. In the fall of 2012, HGW journalists queried 25 beneficiary families. All of them said they had land and were farmers. Two-thirds said that – given the option – they would prefer to receive seeds to food aid. (Some beneficiaries said they did receive a one-time donation of vegetable seeds.)

Merilus Derius, 71, said he thinks the younger generations do seem to want to farm, and he added that they not value some the foods he grew up eating.

“People are neglecting their fields!” the farmer told HGW. “Before, we used to be able to live off our land.”

While Derius admitted that environmental degradation and other factors have contributed to decreased agricultural output he also blamed the invasion of food aid and cheap foreign food, which people buy instead of local products.

“Now we have this food called ‘rice husks.’ In the Dominican Republic, they give it to animals. In Haiti, people eat it! But before, farmers grew sorghum and ground it. They grew Congo peas, planted potatoes, planted manioc. On a morning like this, a farmer would make his coffee and then – using a thing called ‘top-top,’ a little mill – he would crush sugar cane and boil the sugar cane water, and eat cassava bread, and he would have good health!” he said. “When you lived off your garden, you were independent… But when your stomach depends on someone else, you are not independent.”

World Vision does not believe its program creates dependency because most of the program is concerned with helping farmers improve their production.

“It is a program that encourages resiliency and independence, after a certain period,” World Vision’s Director of Operations, Lionel Isaac, told HGW.

Indeed, it would be unfair to blame the World Vision program for all of Savanette’s woes. Jeune, other agronomists, and farmers like Derius hope that the plethora of recently announced government and foreign agricultural projects will help their region, which is capable of producing sorghum, corn, many kinds of vegetables and fruits, tubers, and livestock products like milk. The area has a lot of potential, Jeune said, but archaic farming methods, with few or no agricultural inputs, keep it from being self-sufficient.

“All of the communes produce food,” Jeune noted. “If farmers had technical assistance, they would make more money and the quality would improve also.”

Questions About a Food Distribution

On March 18, 2013, HGW journalists observed a food distribution that raised questions about how beneficiaries are treated.

Food was handed out to people who had stood in line for many hours, sometimes to groups who would divide it up. Journalists witnessed shoving and even fighting, as well as older women sitting on the ground, picking individual lentil beans.

“At a lot of distributions, you see pushing,” Jeune told HGW. “Old people are sometimes hurt. Even if food is being handed out, basic principals should be respected.”

Questioned in 2012, about one-third of 25 beneficiaries said they had been mistreated during food distributions.

World Vision workers did not want HGW to videotape the March 18 distribution where – at the end of the distribution – some food had not been handed out.

“You can’t film here!” one of the men yelled, shoving the journalists. Along with others, he tried to force journalists to turn off their camera and leave.

Members of the community radio station and other bystanders protected the journalists, who were eventually allowed to continue their work. World Vision officials in the capital later apologized for the attack, saying they had disciplined the employees.

Haiti Grassroots Watch is a collaboration of two Haitian organizations, Groupe Medialternatif/Alterpresse and the Society for the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), along with students from the Faculty of Human Sciences at the State University of Haiti and members of two networks – the network of women community radio broadcasters (REFRAKA) and the Association of Haitian Community Media (AMEKA), which is comprised of community radio stations located across the country. This series produced by HGW is distributed in collaboration with Haiti Liberté.

French President François Hollande has demanded answers from US President Barack Obama about the National Security Agency’s spying on French citizens.

In a statement, Hollande also expressed his deep disapproval of Washington’s eavesdropping on millions of French people’s phone calls. Hollande said spying activities between allies are not acceptable because it is a violation of French citizens’ privacy.

Meanwhile the US says some claims by the French press about its information-gathering are distorted. Earlier, the US State Department announced that it does not want to see its ties with France damaged due to the issue.

Transcript

Press TV: When the earlier revelations came by Snowden initially, it was understood that this was just the tip of the iceberg. However it seems the US is gaining the wrath of many, many governments around the world. What do you make of the recent revelations?

Schechter: Well Obama administration prided itself on its technological savvy and sophistication. Obama’s re-election was partly a function of their mastery of what is called big data.

They were able to use technology with great sophistication, but now they are being undermined by technology, a technology that they do not have under their control. One of the problems they are having is with the website for the Health Care Plan which Obama has vested his entire administration on. They cannot get people to sign up because the websites are not working and now this.

The NSA has become a global issue not just an American problem. You have revelations that have taken place in Brazil, in Mexico and now in France with people outraged when they have learned that the United States government is spying on them.

These are countries that are considered our allies. There were protest in France probably bigger and louder protest and there have been even in United States against NSA overreach, NSA spying on Americans and now people all over the world.

This is not good, not for the Obama administration because it seems that the entire NSA operation is out of control. Perhaps that is why General Alexander, the adman has suddenly stepped down. I am sure he was pushed and he did not do it voluntarily.

But you know this problem is not going to go away. Snowden has many more revelations to drop. There has been an announcement that a billionaire [Pierre] Omidar who is connected to eBay, who made a fortune on eBay is now financing Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who have been investigating this surveillance abuses.

So what we have to look forward to, if you want to call it that, is more revelations that are going to be damaging and embarrassing to the United States government. This cannot be very good.

Press TV: But Mr. Schechter, how concerned is the US government in actuality considering, with regards to this recent revelation the White house just responded, hey everybody does it?

Schechter: Well of course they are justifying, they are rationalizing. They are attempting to minimize the impact of it all, everyone does it, but everyone does not have the global reach of an NSA that is interfering.

You know I am sure that if we discover that the Chinese intelligence was investigating the habits and consumer practices of most Americans, there would be a tremendous outcry in this country. They have the capacity to do it possibly. Are they doing it? Probably not.

So the United States is involved in a high profiled espionage effort that is only causing more problems for the United States and I think we are going to see more revelations in the weeks and months ahead.


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Slavery in Qatar

October 24th, 2013 by Global Research News

Almost all of the Qatari labor force is made up of foreign workers.  They are several times more numerous than the normal citizenry.  These workers are employed under the kafala system, under which they are indentured to a Qatari sponsor.  A worker cannot leave the country or change employment, get a driver’s license, or rent a home without the sponsor’s consent.

The Qatari Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Abdallah Saleh Al Khulaifi has acknowledged inadequate enforcement of laws and regulations on conditions of workers.  The sponsor is prohibited from holding a passport after the worker has been cleared by Immigration.  He is required to pay wages promptly, and hours of work in extreme heat are limited.  Workers are to have access to drinking water and health care.  He said that his ministry would be hiring more inspectors to enforce the rules and more interpreters to be able to communicate with the workers.

Conditions of foreign workers have become an acute concern because Qatar is slated to be the venue for the 2020 world cup of soccer.

Some critics contend that Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers is so appalling that the venue should be shifted, especially since these workers are building the facilities for the games.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, charged, “Foreign workers in Qatar are modern-day slaves to their local employers.  The local Qatari owns you.”

The Reuters account spoke of withholding wages as well as passports, and work shifts which can be as long as 16 hours.  A Guardian article this month reported 70 Nepali construction workers having died since the beginning of last year.

British Prime Minister David Cameron pointedly noted that there were no deaths in construction for the 2012 Olympics in London.

According to Nepali Union officials, lack of safety equipment results in workers falling to their deaths.  Burrow said, “Scores are dying from heat exhaustion and dehydration after 12-hour shifts in blazing heat, often during the night in squalid and cramped labor camps with no ventilation and appalling hygiene.”

Some 340,000 Nepalis work in Qatar.  Their remittances make up more than 20% of Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product.  When it became known that Nepal’s ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, had referred to Qatar as “an open jail,” the government, in response to Qatar’s complaint, recalled her for her inappropriate remarks.  Nepal’s government is led by self-described Maoists, who apparently love those remittances.  What would Karl Marx have said?

Will FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) stick with Qatar as the site of the 2020 world cup? It shouldn’t.

Copyright Canadian Charger 2013

The United States of War: An Addiction to Imperialism

October 24th, 2013 by Solomon Comissiong

The U.S. is Number One is weapons of war and domestic civilian gun deaths – and very little else. Historically, peace has not been a priority for the United States, which has waged war every decade since 1776. “The people must demand an end to war, not because it costs trillions of dollars, but because it cost millions of lives.”

A common description for the term addiction is, the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors…” This definition is most appropriate in regard to the world’s most destructive killing machine – the United States military. The United States government has long developed an acquired taste for war. And because much of the US population is completely obsequious to whatever their duplicitous government tells them, they, too, have become complacent to a perpetual state of war. Americans punch-drunk on nationalism fail to realize that “their” government is beholden to the interests of imperialism, not their general well being. Like well controlled puppets they chant, “USA number one”, over and over and over again, failing to ever question what “their” country is actually number one in.

The mental sickness of “American Exceptionalism” maintains the asylum known as American society. American Exceptionalism designs baseless sayings like, “USA number one.” US society is an extremely competitive and insecure environment. Ultimately, a place that encourages its citizens to ritualistically chant how good they are is not so sure of itself. Either that, or it does not wish the Hoi Polloi to ever question their government at all. The US is not number one in quality of life, education or overall healthcare. The USA is not even the happiest nation in the world, by a long shot. However, a few things the United States is number one in are: incarceration, gun related deaths and yes, military expenditure.

These are among some of the unsavory rubrics in which the US reigns supreme. If Americans meant any of those areas when they blindly chant, “USA number one”, then they would be spot on, especially when it comes to military “firepower.” With around 1,000 military bases, well over 10,000 nuclear warheads, and an almost constant state of war, the US is numero uno, without rival. The US is an imperialist monster with a voracious appetite for destruction. It has an uncontrollable appetite for war, caring little what it murders on its way toward global domination. This is evident in the vast number of civilians killed as a result of the US’s military campaigns. The vast majority of people murdered when the US decides to unleash its war machine, are, in fact, civilians. This is news to most Americans because they have been socially programmed to not even think about civilian casualties. They only worry about US military casualties as if those are the only lives that matter. Thinking about the catastrophic impact their government’s wars inflict upon innocent people, in “far off lands”, is well beyond many Americans’ social radar. This mode of thinking (or lack there of) has conditioned numerous Americans to lose vast segments of their humanity.

It is of little surprise that the United States government cares little about the “adverse consequences” that come with being constantly entrenched in war and global conflict. However, when the populace have adopted that inhumane way of thinking it paves a destructive road that we are traveling upon. The people are the ones whose responsibility it is to, not request, but demand an end to these wars of imperialism. Unfortunately, the United States’ mind control program, otherwise known as corporate media, has had a firm grip on the conscience of many Americans. This fact continues to prevent Americans from understanding that the people being terrorized by the US’s imperialist wars, are human beings – just like them. It especially prevents them from understanding that people in places like Afghanistan are, in fact, being terrorized by the US military.

Americans have bought into the orchestrated mythology that “their country,” when it enters/instigates a war, is doing so for some sort of benevolent reasons. Historically speaking, this could not be further from the truth, especially when we consider the number of civilians killed. Since World War I there has been a complete reversal of civilian deaths. During World War I, 10% of all casualties were civilians. During World War II, the number of civilian deaths rose to 50%. During the Vietnam War 70% of all casualties were civilians. In the war in Iraq, civilians account for 90% of all deaths. And when we look at the number of civilians killed by way of George Bush and Barack Obama’s drone strikes (alone), more that 90 percent of the victims have been civilians. However, don’t look at the fourth branch of the US government (the corporate media), to inform you of this. They, like the Pentagon and White House, could not give a damn about the number of innocent civilians killed. When former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and Secretary of State) Colin Powell was asked, in 1991, about the number of Iraqi civilians killed as a result of the US Gulf War against Iraq, he simply stated: “Its not a number I’m terribly interested in.” It is important to note that the Associated Press at the time quoted US military officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, estimating that the number of Iraqi dead at 100,000. However, other independent estimates place the number much higher. Not surprising, the Pentagon refused to provide an estimate of the number of dead Iraqi civilians.

The shear lack of regard for human life, especially that of civilians, is akin to that of a serial killer. The US military apparatus operates like that of a pathological killing machine with lust for war. The history of the United States more than backs up this assertion, especially when we consider the fact that since the US’s “founding” in 1776, this country has been at war 216 of those years. That’s right, out of the US’s 237 year existence it has been engaged in military conflict 216 of those years. If that is not an addiction to war, this author does not know what is. The US has never gone a decade without being engaged in some sort of military conflict.

United States imperialism is destroying the world, one nation at time. And within those nations are living breathing human beings. Is it really hard to fathom why many people despise the US? It has nothing to do with Americans’ so-called “freedoms” – instead, it has everything to do with the military destruction of their countries. The politicians that ultimately control the US military care little about the soldiers they command to fight in their capitalist conquests of wealth and resources. And they certainly could not give a damn about the innocent civilians in places like Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. They are not concerned with how they are perceived by much of the globe; they are only concerned with maintaining their imperialist advancements and control. You are either “with them” or “against them”; there is no middle ground. And for these reasons it should be crystal clear why people living within the United State must care.

Organized critical masses of concerned people must serve as the moral compass, and rehabilitation, needed to end the US’s addiction to war. Bluntly put, humanity depends on it. The people must demand an end to war, not because it costs trillions of dollars, but because it cost millions of lives. There is no dollar amount that can be used to measure a human’s life. All human life must be seen as invaluable, period. An American life is no more valuable than that of someone from any country in which the U.S. is waging war. The financial cost of war is enormous and is an issue, in and of itself – however, this cost pales in comparison to the cost of human life.

We must unite and be prepared to organize to end the culture of war within the US. Ending the culture of war in this country will pave the way for wars to cease globally, especially since the US global war footprint is virtually everywhere. Creating a culture of peace begins with changing our acceptance of the United States’ addiction to war. Demanding this radical, yet humane, change to take place is paramount if we are to mold a brighter future for subsequent generations. Peace starts with all of us. It is one of the most important tasks before us. We must be firmly against war, in addition to being for peace. They go hand in hand. Now is the time to start building that brighter and more humane future.

Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, and the host of the Your World News media collective (www.yourworldnews.org). Mr. Comissiong is also a founding member of the Pan-African collective for Advocacy & Action. Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues. He can be reached at: [email protected].

As the US and NATO begin to pull out of Afghanistan what might wonder and attempt to fathom what they have achieved by invading and occupying the country for over a decade.

According to Voice of Russia regular Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO website, the entire campaign has been a debacle. Mr. Rozoff is another voice repeating what has clearly been discovered to be the US strategy in the Middle East: import murderous terrorists and Al-Qaeda fanatical mercenaries into a country and use them to destroy it and divide it up.

Hello, this is John Robles, I am speaking with Rick Rozoff, the owner of Stop NATO and the Stop NATO international mailing list.

Rozoff: The US supports what are clearly unprovoked, armed attacks by insurgents who are in most instances based in outside countries, usually contiguous ones but not necessarily, and then they launch what are just murderous raids inside the country. When the government then takes measures to protect the civilian population and government personnel including elementary letter carriers or school teachers or police officers.

They are then accused of disproportionate use of force, of gross human rights violations and then the US, increasingly now and recent years under the so-called Responsibility to Protect proviso, then intervenes militarily on behalf of these armed brigands and bandits, calling them rebels in most cases. That’s what happened in Libya.

So what you had was for 19 days the fairly recently inaugurated US Africa Command, that’s the first overseas regional military command created by the United States since the end of the Cold War, we should note, has to then be tried out, has to be tested and it was. For 19 days they launched so-called Operation Odyssey Dawn and absolutely blistered Libya with Tomahawk cruise missile attacks, bombing raids, Hellfire missiles and drones, without any…long surpassing any pretense of their intervening to protect the civilian population, and then NATO picks up under Operation Unified Protector and launches something like 30,000 air sorties over the country, almost 10,000 combat sorties.

This is a small country of six million people. And this goes on for six months, of concentrated NATO air bombardment. And the end result is, not surprisingly, people like ourselves warned people exactly what was going to come out of this, which is what we see now: is that the country is divided into three basically, based on tribal and other differences, that rival militias and little armed groupings that may vary from day to day in terms of their allegiance or their composition are fighting over the spoils.

But at the same time, again, NATO was reiterated, just in recent weeks in the last two or three weeks, NATO has reiterated they’re prepared (NATO is prepared) to provide military training and guidance to the armed forces of Libya, where there are no armed forces of Libya, you indicated that in your comment.

So what you have instead is something, almost like the Thirty Years’ War in Europe in the early 1600s: Rival groups of looters fighting for dominance in a given area.

Robles: Let’s not denigrate the Libyan people too much here because I mean, there is an army in Libya. I mean it’s fragmented, it’s weak but there is a loyal core army in Libya but they are having a very difficult time fighting all these groups that were armed to the teeth.

Rozoff: Then NATO steps in and arms them and trains them, much as they did with the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, and they walk in and they train a central army, central armed forces in Libya, to fight the very same Islamic extremists that you indicated, that they bombed the country on behalf of for six months.

Robles: About NATO and Georgia, now it seems like they are focusing very closely on Georgia. Where do you see that going? Japan has been there recently. A post on your site says that they are going to be included in the Global Strike Force. Can you tell us about that?

Rozoff: Yes, Georgia remains a major linchpin for US and NATO interests. In the words of various pro-US Georgian officials, really proxies, like Mikhail Saakashvili, who has repeatedly referred to his country as being the gateway between Europe and Asia, which in fact it is geographically, and politically perhaps less so, but the intent is, the geopolitical purpose of Georgia, is to plant the US and its NATO allies squarely really where not only Europe and Asia meet but Europe and Asia and the Middle East meet with Africa not too far away, and of course we know there has been a whole series of pipelines: gas, natural gas, rail lines, other fairly strategic enterprises under way, or projects under way, of which Georgia is the pivot or the centerpiece. But what is happening most recently is just today one of the NATO websites announced that Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announced Georgia will now join the NATO Response Force to bring this discussion full circle. That is, the global military expeditionary force that NATO is crafting, even though Georgia, of course, is not a full member of NATO at this point.

The other allusion you make is even more fascinating. The fact that the Japanese delegation met with the Defense Ministry, meet at the Defense Ministry in Georgia and the photograph on the Ministry of Defense of Georgia’s website showed a Japanese officer in a military uniform shaking hands with the defense minister of Georgia.

Japan has insinuated itself into Georgia for energy purposes. You know that ultimately the oil and natural gas that’s to flow from the Caspian Sea through Georgia into the Eastern Mediterranean or Eastern Europe…

Robles: Yeah, but Japan?

Rozoff: … could also go in the opposite direction, into East Asia.

Robles: I suppose. Very strange to see Japan in Georgia, I was quite astounded by that.

Rozoff: Well, this is where Japan and Germany finally link up, how many years later, almost 70 years later. Whatever they had intended during World War II, here they meet in the Caucasus. The German military influence already established there and a Japanese military official, that was the phenomenal thing about that photograph.

Had they even simply sent a civilian in Japanese defense (so-called Self-Defense Force), their equivalent of a defense ministry, over there, that’s one thing, but to send a military official suggests something is on their mind and in the post-Afghanistan world, post-Afghan war world, NATO in it’s own words -and I’m roughly paraphrasing it – is looking for some way of applying the lessons of Afghanistan elsewhere in the world and the Caucuses, the South Caucuses may indeed be where they intend to move.

Robles: The lessons of Afghanistan? A more than decade long quagmire!? What lessons are there to be applied? I think the main lesson to be applied is fight for peace and keep the soldiers at home. And stop invading other countries.

Rozoff: That&# 39;s how a sensible and sane and humane person would look at it, that’s precisely why NATO views it from the opposite perspective, and what NATO officials talk about, Rasmussen in the first place, is Afghanistan. This is something I’ve contended from the very beginning and we do have to note that as of October 7th, that is at least hear in Chicago three days ago, we are now in year 13 of the US and NATO war in Afghanistan. Year 13.

Robles: It’ s longer than Vietnam already.

Rozoff: It has been for a while, but this is certainly the longest war in American history. It’s NATO’s first war in Asia. It’s NATO first ground war.

Prior to this NATO essentially waged air wars over the Bosnian Serb Republic and then in Yugoslavia in 1999, but what NATO officials are alluding to is the fact that under the structure of the International Security Assistance Force, that NATO took over shortly after the invasion of the country, that troops from over 50 countries, over 50 countries were integrated into a common military command under NATO leadership and that’s something that the world has not taken note of sufficiently in my estimate, and it’s a fact that NATO in fact has reached that degree of integrating a global military force. And when the NATO officials talk about deriving the necessary lessons and so forth from Afghanistan that’s what they are talking about. They are talking about the ability to put out an integrated military command including troops in over a quarter of the countries in the world.

Robles: Another point I think that no one is paying attention to though: I would say, Afghanistan, was a complete failure.

Rozoff: Yeah, it has been a debacle, it truly has. You know, for a while I think there was a fallback position which was: the US and company didn’t want to win the war, they wanted to maintain military presence in that general area, but now it looks like they may well leave with their tails between their legs. And hundreds of thousands of Afghan people killed, maimed, displaced, traumatized, an entire generation of Afghan children who in many parts of the country never been to school, have no future. This is the legacy that they are going to leave behind. And they could leave, callously indifferent to the consequences of their intervention. But you know, the Afghan people are going to bear the consequences, of course.

Robles: Okay, Rick, I really appreciate you speaking with me.

Rozoff: Yes, thanks for the opportunity. I appreciate it. What I said about the invigorating conversations, the sort creating new ideas is absolutely the truth.

Robles: Thank you very much, Rick. I really appreciate it.

 

The U.S. pounced on the island nation of Grenada like an “elephant on a flea,” 30 years ago, to wipe out the remnants of a revolution. Adding insult to injury (and violation of international law), the U.S. pretended that Grenadians didn’t fight back. Instead, “for weeks, the Americans claimed to be chasing an elusive force of Cuban super-soldiers around island.”

Thirty years ago, on October 25, 1983, the United States sent 6,000 elite troops to overwhelm the Caribbean nation of Grenada, an island of less than 100,000 inhabitants that had been governed by the revolutionary New Jewel Movement since 1979. Although the announced pretext for the invasion was a nonexistent threat to American medical students on the island, Operation Urgent Fury had been rehearsed two years earlier, in a 1981 war game against the island nation of “Amber and the Amberdines,” a fictional stand-in for Grenada and the Grenadines.

Washington’s larger, strategic rationale for marshalling overwhelming force against an unoffending, 133 square mile pinpoint of a country off the coast of Venezuela, whose biggest export was nutmeg and whose security forces probably numbered no more than 1,200, was that Cuba and/or the Soviets were poised to turn Grenada into a military and/or “terrorist” base. A new and desperately needed airport was under construction, paid for by Britain, the former colonial master, Cuba, Libya, and Algeria, with Cuba supplying the bulk of construction workers. The runway, just south of the gorgeous arc of Grand Anse beach and the tiny capital city, St. George’s, would finally allow tourists to enter Grenada by commercial jet, replacing the perilous propeller drop into a narrow strip between a mountain and the ocean on the island’s northern shore.

Objectively, the old airport was the most dangerous thing about Grenada, where the mostly white medical school students constituted the largest foreign presence and life was laid-back, even by Caribbean standards. Grenada’s real threat was ideological. Its youthful, Marxist-oriented government, Washington feared, might serve as a model for others in the hemisphere – “another Cuba,” or Nicaragua, whose Sandinista revolutionaries had also come to power in 1979.

Although conquest of Grenada presented no real military challenge for the superpower, the island’s very minuteness made U.S. invasion politically problematical. The Reagan administration found itself oscillating between characterizing the aggression as a rescue mission to save American students, to an urgent strategic counter-move in the global fight against communism (“US Delegate in UN Calls Invasion an Act of Defense,” read the October 28 New York Times headline), or some combination of the two, as in the Washington Post’s October 26 headline, “Strategic Airport, Hostage Fear Led to Move.”

Operation Urgent Fury was most urgently opportunistic. A long-simmering political crisis within the New Jewel Movement led, disastrously, to the house arrest of popular Prime Minister Maurice Bishop by other members of the ruling party, on October 12. Bishop and a crowd of supporters later marched on army headquarters, at Fort Rupert, on October 19, in a bid to take back power. Many were killed in the fighting, Bishop and other officials were executed, and the country was placed under marshal law. U.S. forces, which appeared to have been made ready early in the Grenadian political crisis, hit the beaches and parachuted onto the unfinished airport runway on October 25.

The Grenadian armed forces put up what resistance they could, given the overwhelming firepower and numbers of the enemy and the fratricidal trauma the Grenadian nation had just undergone. However, the superpower could not allow itself to be seen as an elephant stomping on a flea. Therefore, all dead bodies recovered on the island were initially designated as “Cuban,” except for the 21 patients and staff killed in the U.S. bombing of the mental hospital, at St. George’s, in the first day of the invasion. The official line, dutifully parroted by the press, was that only Cuban soldiers – 1,100 of them – had resisted the American assault. In fact, Cuban nationals on the island numbered only about 700, most of them unarmed, pot-bellied construction workers. Cuban military personnel defended only their embassy. Twenty-four Cubans died in the early days of the invasion, along with probably several hundred Grenadian military. But, for weeks, the Americans claimed to be chasing an elusive force of Cuban super-soldiers around island. The New York Times relayed a U.S. military estimate that 500 Cubans had “fled into the hills.” These phantom Cubans live on in the 1986 Clint Eastwood movie Heartbreak Ridge, in which Eastwood and his platoon do battle with Castro’s men in the hills of the island. (For Fidel Castro’s remarks at the funeral of Cuba’s real-life casualties in Grenada, click HERE.)

By November 13, three weeks into the invasion, the New York Times was still reporting that Grenadians have been passive in the invasion of their own country. “Grenadians Toll Put by U.S. at 21: Americans Appear to Believe that All Combatants Killed in Battle Were Cubans.” The bombing of the mental hospital, where the only acknowledged Grenadian fatalities occurred, was an “accident,” said the Reagan administration. Indeed, the U.S. action was not an “invasion” at all, but an “intervention.” The New York Times loyally purged “invasion” from its vocabulary until the last phantom Cuban disappeared from the Grenadian hills.

The Grenada invasion was, in a sense, simply a continuation of U.S. “gunboat diplomacy” in the Western Hemisphere, as was practiced as late as 1965, in the invasion-intervention of the Dominican Republic, which was also undertaken under the hybrid rationales of “not another Cuba” and “rescue of American nationals.” However, Grenada may have been the first U.S. occupation in which members of the native government and armed forces that had evaded death or capture were immediately dubbed “fugitives” – outlaws in their own land, where they had been the lawful and recognized authority, only days before.

Today, the airport at Point Salines that represented such an imminent threat to U.S. national security is named for martyred Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, the revolutionary who was the villain of Ronald Reagan’s mock attack on “Amber and the Amberdines,” but whose death provided the opportunity for the actual invasion of his homeland.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected]. He authored the book, The Big Lie: Analysis of U.S. Press Coverage of the Grenada Invasion (IOJ, Prague), now out of print.

According to Kyunghyang Shinmun (Major daily newspaper in South Korea -Source), Oct. 21, 2013:

Japan‘s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, promoting Tokyo as the site for the 2020 Summer Olympics, said to the International Olympic Committee: “Some may have concerns about Fukushima. Let me assure you, the situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.” [...] To [journalist Hirose Takashi], Abe‘s words were a bald-faced lie. And he decided to make this lie known to the world, especially the world of sports. He has written A Letter to All Young Athletes Who Dream of Coming to Tokyo in 2020, and to Their Coaches and Parents: Some Facts You Should Know. [...] to conceal from them the truth about Tokyo today is not merely unkind; it is criminal. [...]

Excerpts from Hirose’s letter:

[...] Inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors #1 – #3 the pipes (which had circulated cooling water) are broken, which caused a meltdown. This means the nuclear fuel overheated, melted, and continued to melt anything it touched. Thus it melted through the bottom of the reactor, and then through the concrete floor of the building, and sank into the ground. [...] for two and a half years TEPCO workers have been desperately pouring water into the reactor, but it is not known whether the water is actually reaching the melted fuel. [...] Only the fact that irradiated water is leaking onto the surface of the ground around the reactor is reported. But deep under the surface the ground water is also being irradiated, and the ground water flows out to sea and mixes with the seawater through sea-bottom springs. It is too late to do anything about this. [...] It’s a sad story, but this is the present situation of Japan and of Tokyo. I had loved the Japanese food and this land until the Fukushima accident occurred.

 

Fiasco Obamacare Debut

October 24th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is rife with problems. It’s a ripoff. It’s a boon to healthcare providers. It scams most enrollees.

It’s not universal as promised. It leaves millions of Americans uninsured. It leaves most others woefully underinsured.

US healthcare already is unaffordable. Obamacare makes it more so. It lawlessly invades privacy. It compromises a fundamental human right.

Martin Luther King once said:11

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in heath care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Obamacare mandates making a failed system worse. It guarantees inequality. It institutionalizes it. It does so legally.

Dr. Margaret Flowers is a universal single-payer activist. She’s a Physicians for a National Health Program congressional fellow. She’s US Green Shadow Cabinet Secretary of Health.

She’s a Healthcare-NOW! board member. It addresses America’s health insurance crisis. Obamacare made it worse. Dr. Flowers calls it “perhaps the greatest corporate scam ever.”

Healthcare giants wrote the law. It assures greater than ever profits. It’s at the expense of proper healthcare. “(S)hoddy products” insurers offer don’t provide it, said Dr. Flowers.

US-style healthcare doesn’t work. It’s the world’s most expensive by far. It provides the least bang for the buck. “It means that people only receive the health care they can afford, not what they need,” explains Dr. Flowers.

It “leaves tens of millions without coverage.” It “lowers the bar on what is considered to be acceptable insurance coverage.”

Most plans offered mandate huge deductibles and co-pays. Doing so means unaffordable out-of-pocket costs for tens of millions.

Federal subsidies for America’s poor are woefully inadequate. Millions live from paycheck to paycheck. Limited resources make expensive treatments unaffordable.

Medical expense debt is the nation’s leading cause of personal bankruptcies. Healthcare gets increasingly more expensive. Insurers scam the system for profit.

According to Dr. Flowers, “expect them to justify higher premiums and to push for lower levels of coverage or fewer required services. And we can expect (federal and state authorities to be) compliant, as they have been.”

Healthcare isn’t a commodity. It’s a fundamental human right. Privatizing it is polar opposite of what’s needed. “We need Medicare for all now,” says Dr. Flowers.

Everyone in! No one left out! Everybody gets identical coverage. Illness guarantees equal treatment. ACA assures separate and unequal. For many, it means pay or die.

October 1 was ACA rollout day. Web site access problems accompanied it. Millions needing to enroll in healthcare exchanges can’t do so. What should have been simple is nightmarish.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Washington had years to get ready. Failure perhaps is a metaphor for what never should been enacted in the first place.

On Monday, Obama acknowledged ongoing problems. At the same time, he minimized their severity. He didn’t explain what went wrong, why, when they’ll be fixed, or how to cope in the meantime.

Insurers are notifying customers their coverage is cancelled. It’s because they’re not complying with new ACA mandates.

Kaiser Health News said “Florida Blue is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80% of its individual policies in the state.”

Kaiser Permanente in California notified 160,000 customers they’re out. Pittsburgh’s Highmark dropped about 20% of its enrollees. Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia cancelled about 45% of theirs.

Much the same thing is happening across America. ACA is barely three weeks old. Imagine how much worse things may get.

Obama lied saying if you like your coverage you can keep it. False! Force-fed options substitute. ACA institutionalized inequality.

Millions are denied a fundamental human right. Millions more won’t get enough of it to matter when they most need it.

New York Times editors were some of ACA’s biggest boosters. They shamed themselves in the process. Even they expressed outrage over its “chaotic debut.”

Unless serious problems are “fixed soon, they threaten to undermine” the entire system, they said.

“The administration created the Web site so the buck stops with high officials.” Health and Human Services and Obama “allowed this to happen.” They bear full responsibility.

Excuses offered don’t wash. Enrollment procedures were supposed to be easy. Technical problems weren’t supposed to happen.

Experts involved in fixing things say they’re extensive. Perhaps months are needed to resolve them.

Millions are justifiably angry. They’re frustrated. They’re not sure what to do. Accountability is largely absent. Putting lipstick on this pig doesn’t wash.

Obama’s signature initiative flopped on launch. Ahead expect things to get worse, not better. At issue isn’t enrolling.

It’s what’s covered, what isn’t, cost, affordability, insurers gaming the system, and providing expensive treatments only to those who can pay for them out-of-pocket.

Obamacare’s sick start reflects self-inflicted incompetence. Obama blamed snafus on system overloading. Search engines like Google handle billions of monthly visitors. They do so routinely.

Washington operates the world’s most sophisticated supercomputers. Failure to get things right initially suggests lots more trouble ahead. Confidence once lost is hard to regain.

Consumer Reports (CR) reacted. After three weeks of testing, it said “stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can.” Abstain until major problems plaguing it are fixed.

“Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they’ve made.”

“The coverage available through the marketplaces won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2014, at the earliest, and you have until Dec. 15 to enroll if you need insurance that starts promptly.”

In ACA’s first week, CR estimates about 270,000 people enrolled successfully. Nearly 9.5 million others tried and failed.

A week after launch, CR called Healthcare.gov “barely operational.” On October 10, it said:

“(I)t’s still next to impossible to create a user name and password that you can actually use to sign in.”

“(F)ive times (failed) without success. Our readers report similar frustrations.”

One wrote:

“Have been trying for a week, at least 10 times a day.  Have yet to get through the process.”

Another said:

“Created account on 10/6 but unable to access it since then – get an error message saying that my account is not valid.’ What a waste of my time.”

“I have not been able to log in and I have tried 47 times,” said a visitor to CR’s Facebook’s page of its online interactive HealthLawHelper.org site.

The only good news, said CR, is that “consumers coming to Healthcare.gov are no longer stopped cold by an error message or a screen saying they’ve been put in a waiting line.”

On October 16, CR offered tips on Healthcare.gov registering. “We got advice from a pro software tester,” it said.

(1) “Follow instructions when creating a user name.”

It’s not easy. Instructions are garbled. They’re needlessly complicated.

(2) “Move on immediately from failed logins.”

“(D)on’t believe all the status and error messages. They may not always match reality.”

If what’s tried doesn’t work, use a different name, password and security question. Test to see if anything works.

(3) “Check your inbox frequently.”

If enrollment succeeds, “you should receive an ‘account activation’ e-mail (confirmation) within a few hours.”

“Answer it promptly.” Otherwise, “Healthcare.gov will time you out.”

If no email arrives, you’re back to square one. Start over.

(4) “Clear your cookies.”

If logging in to Healthcare.gov fails, most likely previous visits got your browser overloaded with them.

They exceed what the site can handle. It’s one of many design errors. “(E)ither delete the cookies from your browser or log back in from” an alternative one.

If that’s too much to handle, do nothing for several weeks. Then try again.

Marketplace coverage begins on January 1. Assuring it requires enrolling by December 15. Obamacare’s rocky start suggests doing so won’t be easy.

Millions already experienced error messages, delays, crashes, and stuck accounts.

Tech experts warned about problems in each enrollment step. According to healthcare consultant Dan Schuyler:

“There is grave concern that many individuals who are intent on securing coverage by (January 1) may not be able to do so by that date.”

If “problems persist another three or four weeks, those at the back of the line will not have coverage.”

Obamacare advocates knew they’d be problems. A pre-launch simulation test failed. It crashed. Federal officials went ahead as planned anyway.

Moments after midnight on October 1,  Healthcare.gov locked up. About 2,000 users couldn’t complete step one in enrolling.

When millions tried doing so, things went from bad to worse. None of this should have happened.

No one knows when problems will be resolved. It’s unclear how many bugs beset the system.  Millions wanting to enroll are stuck in limbo.

It remains to be seen what happens on January 1. Americans needing healthcare can’t wait. They need it now.

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/fiasco-obamacare-debut/

New Internet Architecture to Thwart American Spying

October 24th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

New Telecommunications Infrastructure Is Being Built to Avoid American Spying

One of India’s largest newspapers – The Hindu – reports:

Most of Brazil’s global internet traffic passes through the United States, so [the Brazilian] government plans to lay underwater fiber optic cable directly to Europe and also link to all South American nations to create what it hopes will be a network free of US eavesdropping.

A consortium of telecom and undersea cable companies competing for the contracts for the proposed BRICS cable show what they think the project should look like:

 

netw_geo

(BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.)

The BRICS countries have the muscle to pull this off.  Each of the BRICS countries are in the top 25 largest economies in the world. China has the world’s second largest economy, India is 3rd, Russia 6th, Brazil 7th, and South Africa 25th.

As Reuters notes:

* The BRICS countries make up 21 percent of global GDP. They have increased their share of global GDP threefold in the past 15 years.

* The BRICS are home to 43 percent of the world’s population.

* The BRICS countries have combined foreign reserves of an estimated $4.4 trillion.

* Intra-BRICS trade flows reached $282 billion in 2012 and are estimated to reach $500 billion by 2015. In 2002, it was $27.3 billion.

* IMF estimates of GDP per member in 2012, China $8.25 trillion, Brazil $2.43 trillion, Russia and India at $1.95 trillion each, South Africa $390.9 billion.

China is also dropping IBM hardware like a hot potato due to security concerns.  Intel and AMD may not be far behind.

Economic powerhouse Germany is also rolling out a system that would keep all data within Germany’s national borders.

New Hardware Is Being Built to Thwart Spying

Anti-virus legend and wild man John McAffee claims that he has created a $100 hardware router which will block NSA snooping:

There will be no way (for the government) to tell who you are or where you are ….

FreedomBox has been developing a similar concept for years:

And numerous other competitors will soon jump into the fray.

Of course, one of the simplest hardware solutions is to unplug.  For example, by using an air gap, duct tape or a typewriter.

New Internet Architecture Is Being Developed to Minimize  American Spying

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the organization which controls domain names and internet addresses.

ICANN has long been a U.S.-controlled organization. Even after ICANN become more international on paper, it has still been dominated by America.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the Web.   For example:

W3C tries to enforce compatibility and agreement among industry members in the adoption of new standards defined by the W3C. Incompatible versions of HTML are offered by different vendors, causing inconsistency in how Web pages are displayed. The consortium tries to get all those vendors to implement a set of core principles and components which are chosen by the consortium.

Together, ICANN and W3C – along with groups like the Internet Society and the Internet Engineering Task Force – are largely responsible for administering the electronic “plumbing” of the Web.

In response to NSA spying revelations, all of these groups just told the U.S. to pound sand.  As Tech Crunch notes:

Key Internet stakeholders, including [ICANN, W3C , Internet Society, Internet Engineering Task Force and others] have released a statement condemning pervasive government surveillance and calling for an internationalization of the Internet’s underlying framework.

***

Post-NSA revelations, the United States has lost its standing as the Internet’s defender. Instead, it has been revealed that as a country we have systematically worked to undermine its encryption, and the inherent privacy that it grants users.

Instead of keeping the Internet safe, we have built an industry designed on its subversion. And now the Internet is ready to break up with us. From the joint statement:

[The parties] expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance. [...] They called for accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.

Indeed, the head of ICANN has thumbed his nose at the U.S. and expressed support for Brazil’s fight against American spying.  As Agence France-Presse reports:

 

Brazil, which has slammed massive US electronic spying on its territory, said on Wednesday it would host a global summit on internet governance in April.

President Dilma Rousseff made the announcement after conferring in Brasilia with Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

“We have decided that Brazil will host in April 2014 an international summit of governments, industry, civil society and academia” to discuss Brazil’s suggestions for upgrading Internet security, Rousseff said on Twitter.

***

Chehade heaped praise on Rousseff for using her UN General Assembly speech in September to demand measures to thwart the massive US cyber spying operation revealed by US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

***

“She spoke for all of us on that day. She expressed the world’s interest to actually find out how we are going to all live together in this new digital age,” said Chehade.

“The trust in the global internet has been punctured and now it’s time to restore this trust through leadership and institutions that can make that happen.”

New Software Is Being Developed to Help Protect Against Spying

Google has just rolled out the beta version of an anonymizing proxy service, called uProxy.  I’m not sure I trust Google – a PRISM partner to the NSA – to protect me from government snoops. But there are many other proxy services which claim that they can help protect you from the prying eyes of the NSA.

 

SecureDrop is an open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can install to accept documents from anonymous sources.  It was created by privacy activist and Reddit founder Aaron Swartz, with assistance from Wired editor Kevin Poulsen and security expert James Dolan (a major security audit of SecureDrop has been conducted by security expert Bruce Schneier and a team of University of Washington researchers.)

AP notes:

From Silicon Valley to the South Pacific, counterattacks to revelations of widespread National Security Agency surveillance are taking shape, from a surge of new encrypted email programs to technology that sprinkles the Internet with red flag terms to confuse would-be snoops.

***

Developer Jeff Lyon in Santa Clara, Calif., said he’s delighted if it generates social awareness, and that 2,000 users have installed it to date. He said, “The goal here is to get a critical mass of people flooding the Internet with noise and make a statement of civil disobedience.”

University of Auckland associate professor Gehan Gunasekara said he’s received “overwhelming support” for his proposal to “lead the spooks in a merry dance,” visiting radical websites, setting up multiple online identities and making up hypothetical “friends.”

And “pretty soon everyone in New Zealand will have to be under surveillance,” he said.

Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Parker Higgens in San Francisco has a more direct strategy: by using encrypted email and browsers, he creates more smoke screens for the NSA. “Encryption loses its value as an indicator of possible malfeasance if everyone is using it,” he said.

***

This week, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University released a smartphone app called SafeSlinger they say encrypts text messages so they cannot be read by cell carriers, Internet providers, employers “or anyone else.”

 

Privacy companies are changing their encryption standards to try to get around the fact that NSA has been pushing compromised encryption standards as a way to break into encrypted communications.  For example, PC World reports:

The U.S. National Security Agency’s reported efforts to weaken encryption standards have prompted an encrypted communications company [Silent Circle] to move away from cryptographic algorithms sanctioned by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

New Legal and Social Norms Are Being Implemented to Rein In Spying

European lawmakers on Monday voted to approve new data protections aimed at shielding citizens’ private communications from the NSA. The new law will target companies that pass on personal details of Europeans to U.S. law enforcement and intelligence without proper legal documentation showing that the NSA needs the information on national security grounds.

The EU is considering pulling out of the SWIFT financial transfer system.

Foreign companies are using their non-American status as a competitive advantage in competing for cloud storage customers and web users. And see this.

 “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti, Asian Indian philosopher

Last weekend, I talked my two grandsons into joining me to watch “The Fifth Estate”, the new feature film about WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. The movie is being marketed as an “action thriller” and is reportedly having a hard time competing, revenue-wise, with two current block-buster movies, “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips”. (I don’t doubt that fact because, at the end of the Saturday afternoon screening, we were the only ones left in the theater; folks who had been in the audience at the beginning had bailed out, presumably for more mindless, more entertaining fare elsewhere in the multiplex theater.)

For those  readers who are not fully aware of what WikiLeaks really is, here is a good definition from a supporter:

“WikiLeaks is an international, online, non-profit organisation which publishes information submitted by courageous whistleblowers, people with conscience. Most whistleblowers prefer to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. Google what happened to Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. They are being hounded, hunted, criminalised, ostracized, ex-communicated by the very top people whose secret criminal deals and activities they have exposed.” The final sentence of that quote explains why tremendous courage is necessary to be a whistle-blower and why most of us are too frightened to speak out when witnessing injustice. The last phrase summarizes what is a major component of what constitutes “a profoundly sick society”.

I brought my grandsons to see the WikiLeaks film because I thought it was important to expose them to a movie about a historically important movement that was trying to respond to Krishmamurti’s concerns (about the western society he had witnessed in the first half of the 20th century). My busy, “wired-in” grandsons, like most distracted, computer game savvy, over-entertained adolescent students their age, seem to be relatively oblivious to pertinent past history – and even current events. I see the eternal truth of George Santanana’s powerful truism about the mistakes made by sick societies who are historically illiterate: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Whistle-blowers, who are all motivated by their consciences, might be our only hope.

At this point, it would be a good idea to step back to explain the title of the film [which will also illustrate the importance of Santayana’s quote]. A little background about the history of the French Revolution of 1789 is important.

Up until 1789, France had been ruled by a hereditary monarchy for centuries. French society was regarded at the time as having three groups that were subservient to the king. The three classes were known as the Three Estates. The first two “estates” represented the parasitic ruling classes that never paid taxes or contributed to French society’s economy in any significant way. The First Estate was the clergy, the Second Estate was the aristocracy/nobility and the Third Estate was comprised of the common people who did all the work. These commoners were, of course, the largest group and were also the taxpaying group, while the First and Second Estates (ruthlessly protected by an obedient, well-trained and indoctrinated professional military) never did any labor nor did they participate in the production of food or other consumer goods.  

Much later in history, elsewhere in the world, the media was given the title of The Fourth Estate, and journalists deserved the label when they were actually doing good investigative journalism by exposing the unethical behaviors and crimes of the ruling classes.

The title of the film, “The Fifth Estate”, refers to the hundreds of whistle-blowing groups like WikiLeaks, Occupy Wall Street, Catholic Worker groups, Democracy Now, Courage to Resist, antiwar groups, anti-nuclear groups, the 9/11 Truth movement, Earth First, etc, etc, all of whom have found themselves altruistically and courageously doing the dangerous investigations and protests in order to expose corrupt governments, corrupt militaries, corrupt law enforcement agencies, corrupt churches, corrupt national security institutions, corrupt financial institutions and other secretive planet-damaging corporations that the “disappeared” and virtually non-existent Fourth Estate has forsaken or been scared away from.

Here is a small sampling of courageous and often severely punished whistle-blowers – some famous and many that we don’t know or care about. The list includes Jesus of Nazareth, Paul of Tarsus,  Martin of Tours, Martin Luther, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Smedley Butler, Dorothy Day (and the entire Catholic Worker movement), Gandhi, Martin Niemoller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, John Paul Vann, Ronald Ridenhour, Daniel Ellsberg, the Catonsville Nine, Frank Serpico, Gary Webb, Karen Silkwood, Mordechai Vanunu, Karen Kwiatkowski, Colleen Rowley,Sibel Edmunds, Greg Boertje-Obed,Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Pope Francis, etc, etc. See Wikipedia for a list of some of the others who are less well-known: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_whistleblowers

The movie was instructive and well worth seeing, although the Collateral Murder video (google it) was severely shortened and therefore its impact weakened. Still, I would recommend the movie for anyone, although, for those interested in a more thorough treatment of  the historical impact that WikiLeaks has had, it would be better to watch the documentary “Underground: The Julian Assange Story,” which is, I am told, the best factual documentary about WikiLeaks.

“The Fifth Estate” probably won’t have enough entertainment value to interest those who aren’t very curious about why the White House, the Congress, the NSA, the FBI, the CIA and the Pentagon are so freaked out about Assange, Manning and Snowden. Others who won’t appreciate this movie include those who desperately want to believe what they are told and who therefore trust the commercials on TV, trust the talking heads on the mainstream media and trust the official Pentagon, State Department or White House pronouncements.

Folks who aren’t very curious about what are the motivations behind the 9/11 Truth or the Occupy Wall Street movements probably won’t be interested in this movie either, now will those who don’t much care about the war, peace and justice issues that drive the multitudes of lesser-known anti-establishment folks to action.

 Whistle-blowers, in a nutshell, are, in one way or another, trying to resist, expose and perhaps turn around the sickest parts of our globalized, colonized, corporatized, militarized, economically-oppressed, and increasingly totalitarian surveillance state before the quasi-fascists who are working the levers behind the curtains destroy the planet and its inhabitants.

Please study the following inspirational quotes that keep the whistle-blower folks that are our most courageous neighbors working hard at attaining justice for all:

 “Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity.” — The judges at the Nuremberg trials that tried and condemned as war criminals many upper echelon Nazis (whose actions were defended by their lawyers as totally legal and constitutional according to the rule of law in Nazi Germany)

”In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”– George Orwell

“Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither.”– Benjamin Franklin

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”  Voltaire

“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”– Justice Louis D. Brandeis

“A great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.” — An anonymous German saying

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”– George Santayana

 “Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method. must choose lying as his principle.”–Mikhail Gorbachev

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”– Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“It may well be that the greatest tragedy of this period of social change is not the glaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the silence of the so-called good people.”–Martin Luther King. Jr.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”– Edmund Burke

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” — Abraham Lincoln

 ”The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, during times of great moral crisis, maintained their neutrality.” — Dante

 ”Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. It is the ruling class that declares the wars, and it is the working class who fights all the battles and furnishes the corpses. The ruling class continually talks about “patriotic duty”, but it is not their duty but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches.”– Eugene V. Debs

“We’re not made by God to mass kill one another, and that’s backed up by the Gospels. Lying and war are always associated. Pay attention to war-makers when they try to defend their current war; if they’re moving their lips they’re lying.”–Phil Berrigan

“Aggressive militarization under the rubric of defense against terrorism threatens to provoke a chain reaction among nuclear nations, big and small, that, once set in motion, may prove impossible to control. No military confrontation anywhere in the world is free from this ominous and ever-present danger.”– Helen Caldicott, in The New Nuclear Danger

“Globalization is but another name for colonization – nothing has changed but the name. And, just as the East India Company was the instrument for colonization, today’s corporation is the instrument for globalization.  And, corporatization is but another name for Fascism.”— Urban Kohler

“Those who take oaths to politically powerful secret societies cannot be depended on for loyalty to a democratic republic.”– John Quincy Adams

”Certified lunatics are shut up because of their proneness to violence when their pretensions are questioned; the uncertified variety (of lunatic) are given the control of powerful armies, and can inflict death and disaster upon all sane men within their reach.”– Bertrand Russell

“Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.”– Anonymous

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right….To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”– Theodore Roosevelt

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”–Edward Abbey

With the recommencement of nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers, hopes have been revived that more than a decade of conflict and dispute between the two sides can finally come to an end and the concerns over the possible diversion of Iran’s nuclear activities toward an atomic weapon will be completely allayed.

 The international observers hailed the latest round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States) on October 15 and 16 in Geneva as constructive, calling it a step forward on the path of finding a conclusive and definite resolution for Iran’s nuclear standoff.

 The Iranian negotiators demanded that the contents of the talks remain undisclosed until an agreement is reached. Their demand sounds reasonable as it will prevent the mass media from spreading falsehood regarding the details of the agreement yet to be reached and also impede the efforts made by the extremist and neo-conservative elements in the Western governments to bring the negotiations to a dead-end.

During the talks, Iran presented a three-phased PowerPoint proposal in English language entitled “Closing Unnecessary Crisis, Opening New Horizons” which drew a roadmap for the future of the talks. According to the proposal, Iran would remove the concerns of the P5+1 group of world countries through confidence-building measures and increased transparency in its nuclear activities, and in return, the Western powers will offer incentives to Iran by lifting the unilateral and multilateral sanctions on a step-by-step basis.

 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the reporters following the conclusion of talks in Geneva that “the negotiations will be done in the negotiating room, and not in the press.” He said that Iran is not after creating some kind of media hype over its proposal and rather takes a down-to-earth and practical approach toward the talks.

 Iran’s presentation was welcomed by the P5+1. According to Reuters, Michael Mann, the spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Iran made a “very useful” presentation during the talks. Even the United States that usually expressed disappointment over the nuclear talks with Iran in the past couldn’t hide its tacit satisfaction with the Iranian proposal. “The Iranian proposal was a new proposal with a level of seriousness and substance that we had not seen before,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

A senior U.S. State Department official also praised the negotiations, saying that “for the first time, we had very detailed technical discussions”

 The British Catherine Ashton who became the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union in 2009 and took lead as the coordinator of P5+1 in talks with Iran also underlined her “cautious optimism” but “a real sense of determination” toward the new round of negotiations with Iran.

 Since the details of the Iranian proposal didn’t leak out and especially after Iran rejected the allegations made by the Israeli military intelligence website, Debka File, that had claimed to be possessing information on the contents of the proposal put forward by Iran, it’s not sensible to make suggestions and gossips on what Iran has offered to the West, but what is clear is that Iran will be making reasonable compromises, in a balanced manner, which will not sacrifice its nuclear rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but ease the tensions with the West, and this is something which seems to be completely logical and fair. On the other side, what the Iranian nation expects to be high on the agenda of the P5+1 is the complete removal of the economic sanctions that have caused serious damages to their lives.

The sanctions which were imposed upon Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, especially following the escalation of controversy over Iran’s nuclear program in the past decade, are so diverse and extensive that it’s virtually impossible to elaborate on all of them in a single article, but it is worth alluding to some of them in passing. These sanctions have had such devastative impacts on the Iranian people that even a large number of American officials, think tanks and advocacy groups have called on the U.S. government and its European allies to freeze them.

 As an instance, the banking sanctions, which disrupt and block Iran’s access to international financing systems have prevented the Iranian companies from importing vital medicine for chronic disorders, and the Iranian patients suffering from different types of cancer, hemophilia, thalassemia, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and psychiatric disorders are struggling with dire conditions resulting from their inability to find medicine for their diseases.

 According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce on February 8, 2013, the exports of pharmaceutical products to Iran had decreased by half. This is while the United States claims that it doesn’t block the exports of medicine to Iran and that it has issued some licenses for the sale of medical goods and foodstuff to Iran; however, there have been several reports of deaths as a result of the scarcity or shortage of foreign-produced medicine in Iran. Even those patients who can find the medicine they need should buy them at extremely higher prices than before, simply because they are being imported through intermediaries and third parties, and this is the direct, undeniable impact of the anti-Iran sanctions.

The U.S.-based news, analysis website Al-Monitor published a report on July 29, 2013, detailing the pain and suffering of the Iranian patients who are grappling with the problem of finding medicine for their diseases.

 Hessam, a 27-year-old veterinary student with MS told Al-Monitor, “I have managed to buy Rebif every month, but the price has tripled over the past year.” He added, “Those who need to use other Western-made medicines, like Avonex and Betaferon, have been facing extremely serious problems buying them. Betaferon’s price has risen from 980,000 rials [$40] to 16,000,000 rials [$649] a box. You cannot find them even at this price at any drugstores.”

 The insufficiency of medicine and pharmaceutical products in Iran as a result of the sanctions is a fact endorsed and confirmed by different outlets. Joy Gordon wrote in an article for the Foreign Policy on October 18, 2013 that the sanctions have complicated the health conditions of the Iranian patients and are leading to a kind of humanitarian crisis which the International Crisis Group has also verified in a detailed, 70-page report published in February 2013 about the consequences and impacts of the anti-Iran sanctions.

“The most effective medicines to treat cancer and AIDS, which are manufactured only by Western pharmaceutical companies, can no longer be gotten within Iran. Ordinary commerce, as a matter of necessity, is now deeply dependent on the international criminal network in order to function at all,” wrote Joy Gordon in the Foreign Policy’s “The Middle East Channel” blog.

Citing reports published by Iran’s major pharmacies, BBC Persian published a report on November 11, 2012 that a 350% increase in the price of imported medicine had taken place at that time, and the majority of experts and analysts attribute this surge in the medicine prices to the sanctions.

 However, the human costs of the sanctions are not limited to the difficulties they create in terms of medical shortages for the ordinary people. The devaluation of Iran’s national currency, rial, as a result of the sanctions, has made it extremely difficult for thousands of Iranian students studying in the foreign universities to afford their tuition and accommodation fees. Their families in Iran cannot deposit into their accounts considerable amounts of financial assistance and many of such students have chosen to return to Iran to continue their education. The depreciation of rial has also made it quite unreachable for the Iranian citizens to travel abroad for personal purposes since the air fares have increased almost threefold in the past 3 years and many European carriers have stopped their flights to or from Iran.

 At any rate, they are the ordinary Iranian citizens who bear the brunt of the sanctions against their country, and one of their major demands is the complete lifting of all the unilateral, multilateral and private sanctions. This demand was echoed in their election of Dr. Hassan Rouhani as the Iranian President who had promised to work toward persuading the West to lift all the sanctions.

Iran and the P5+1 are slated to meet once again on November 7 and 8. Before the main meeting, nuclear and sanctions experts from the two sides will hold technical meetings to reach a consensus over a systematic framework for putting into practice the agreements reached in the first meeting in Geneva.

 It’s not in the interests of the six world powers to continue pushing for new sanctions, as some Republicans of the U.S. Congress did, or leaving the previous sanctions in place. It will not contribute to the course of negotiations positively and will simply add to the suffering and economic woes of the Iranian people and will further complicate the disputes.

The most rational decision which the United States and its European allies can take is to lift the sanctions for two reasons: first, to respect the demands of the Iranian people who feel it’s not righteous and justifiable to be under the pressure of unfair and cruel sanctions that are violating their basic rights according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and secondly because the lifting of the sanctions will be a great step on the path of striking a deal with Iran to close the nuclear dossier forever.

Top Ten American CEOs Take Home Over $100 Million Each

October 24th, 2013 by Andre Damon

The top ten highest-paid CEOs in the United States each received $100 million in 2012, according to a survey by GMI Ratings reported Tuesday by the Guardian newspaper. Two chief executives each received over $1 billion, and the combined pay of the top ten CEOs was $4.7 billion.

Even as the wages of working people sink, the incomes of the super-rich continue to soar, buttressed by a surging stock market driven by massive cash infusions from the Federal Reserve.

“I have never seen anything like that,” Greg Ruel, the author of the report, told the Guardian. “Usually we have a few CEOs at the $100m-plus level, but never the entire top 10.”

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the social media giant Facebook, received a staggering $2.27 billion, while Richard Kinder, head of energy company Kinder Morgan, took in $1.16 billion.

Three of the top earners headed technology companies, including Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, who received $143.8 million, and Marc Benioff of salesforce.com, who took in $109.5 million.

Two others headed media companies. Mel Karmazin of Sirius XM Radio received $255.3 million, while Gregory Maffei received $254.8 million as head of Liberty Media and another $136.4 million as head of its sister company, Liberty Interactive.

In the retail sector, Edward Stack of Dick’s Sporting Goods received $142 million, while Howard Schultz of Starbucks took in $117.5 million.

Frank Coyne, head of finance information company Verisk Analytics, received $100.4 million.

Zuckerberg received more than $6 million per day, or $5,133 per minute. With a base salary of “only” half a million dollars, the vast bulk of his compensation came from exercising over 60 million shares he received during Facebook’s initial public offering last year.

The other members of the top ten likewise accrued almost all of their income from gains in the stock market, receiving a total of $3.3 billion from stock options compared to cash pay of $16.2 million.

Despite the stagnant state of the real economy, stock values have soared, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by over 15 percent over the past year and more than 132 percent since 2009.

Ruel told the Guardian that a rising stock market “allows executives to reap large rewards, stemming from equity grants that number in the hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of units per grant.” He added that “compensation committees continue to grant large blocks of equity that will reward any increase in stock price.”

The poll by GMI found an average increase in compensation of 8.47 percent for the more than 2,000 CEOs it surveyed. The average pay for a chief executive of a Fortune 500 company hit $13.7 million, according to GMI.

According to the Forbes 400 report issued in September, the 400 richest people in America increased their wealth by 17 percent in 2013, their collective wealth rising from $1.7 trillion to just over $2 trillion.

The wealth of these 400 individuals is more than twice the amount necessary to cover the federal budget deficit, which is being used as the justification for slashing food stamps, education, housing assistance, and health care programs.

One statistic starkly illustrates the staggering growth of social inequality in America. The income share of the top one percent of society nearly doubled from 1979 to 2010, increasing from 10 percent to 19.8 percent.

The widening chasm separating the rich and the super-rich from everyone else is bound up with the decay of the productive infrastructure of American capitalism and the growing role of financial speculation. A recent study published in the American Economic Review found that between 1982 and 2011, the portion of the Forbes 400 who received their wealth from finance rose dramatically—from 4.4 percent to 20 percent.

The income of a typical household in the United States has fallen to the lowest level since 1989, while poverty is at the highest level in decades, according to a report issued by the US Census Bureau last month. Since 1999, the median household income has fallen by nearly ten percent, adjusted for inflation.

Poverty and social misery are reaching epidemic levels. A study released earlier this month by the Southern Education Foundation found that nearly half of public school children in the United States were in poverty in the school year that ended in 2011. Of the worlds 45 wealthiest countries, the United States has the second-highest level of child poverty, coming in after Romania.

Even as the Federal Reserve has continued to pump $85 billion into the financial system every month, the Democrats and Republicans have aggressively slashed spending on measures that benefit working people, including the $85 billion in “sequester” cuts this year alone.

Now, in the aftermath of the government shutdown, the Obama administration and Congress are conspiring to slash hundreds of billions more from basic social programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

A temporary increase in food stamp (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—SNAP) benefits introduced in 2009 is scheduled to expire at the end of this month, leading to benefit reductions of over $300 a year for a family of three. After the cuts, SNAP assistance will amount to less than $1.40 per person per meal, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Meanwhile, the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides extended unemployment benefits beyond the 26-week cutoff for most state unemployment assistance programs, is scheduled to expire in December.

The claim that “there is no money” to maintain these programs is belied by the obscene levels of wealth being monopolized by a tiny layer of parasites at the top.

The continued enrichment of the super-wealthy through government handouts to the financial markets, even as vital social programs are being gutted, reflects the complete subordination of the political system and both major parties to the corporate-financial elite. The existing—capitalist—system means poverty and social misery for ever wider sections of the population. The fight for the most elementary social rights—a decent-paying, secure job; education; housing; health care; a comfortable retirement—requires a conscious struggle by the working class for a system based on social equality—that is, socialism.

Over the past two years, the predatory character of NATO’s 2011 war against Libya has emerged most clearly in the looting of the heart of Libya’s economy: its massive oil industry. Virtually none of the frozen oil assets belonging to Muammar Gaddafi, his family and associates have been returned to Libya, and the country’s oil industry is the now subject to power struggles between rival armed groups and foreign oil corporations.

Oil workers have increasingly resorted to work stoppages to make their demands for higher pay and more jobs, bringing the oil industry to a near standstill in mid-September, and leading to a loss of $7.5 billion in exports.

At the same time, the conflicts between rival tribal, religious and ethnic groups used by NATO as its proxy forces continue to devastate the country. If the major Western energy conglomerates’ looting of the Libyan oil industry has not proceeded further than it has, it is largely because the profound instability and violence afflicting the country since the war has cut across their operations.

The looting began in the first days of the war, when the US and NATO froze oil revenues held in major international banks by Gaddafi and his family and associates.

Over the past two decades, only a tiny fraction of the funds expropriated from governments that had lost favor with European and American imperialism has been returned to their countries of origin. The UN and World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery (STAR) initiative estimates that between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion have been frozen under such initiatives since 1997. Only $5 billion of these funds were returned to their countries of origin over this period.

As Libya’s oil wealth sits frozen in foreign accounts, cities and public places leveled by the NATO bombing remain unrepaired, and conditions of life have only worsened. Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is higher than ever.

There has been no relief from continuous poverty and joblessness. The government is unable to ensure continuous access to basic utilities such as water and electric power, or the safety of citizens and residents from the violence of rival tribes and sects stoked by the NATO war. Thousands of prisoners are held without charges and are subjected daily to systematic torture.

The past year has seen a steady increase in work stoppages at Libyan oil and gas facilities. Oil extraction reached its lowest point in the second half of August, when six ports and terminals stopped exports and oil production sank to 575,000 barrels a day. Unable to fulfill its contract obligations, the government declared force majeure at the four eastern terminals of Brega, Sidra, Ras Lanuf and Zuweitina on August 19.

One of the longest work stoppages took place at the Zuetina oilfield between July 1 and September 3. Workers demanded removal of the current management, holiday pay and wage increases to compensate them for high risks on the job. Oil Minister Abdulbari Al-Arusi and other government officials met with the workers in mid-July and promised to meet their demands in a month’s time.

The Zuetina workers resumed gas production the next day, explaining their motivations on their Facebook page: “After the government claimed we were to blame for the recent power cuts, we decided to restart pumping the gas to prove that we are not responsible for them.”

The following day, the Zuetina oil terminal was stormed and shut down once again by unemployed workers bearing arms and demanding jobs the government had promised them a year earlier.

Oil Minister Arusi responded in a press conference, insisting, “The government cannot meet all of the Zueitina strikers’ demands.” Pumping and oil shipments resumed on September 3, when locals stormed the terminal and forced protesters to move outside the port.

The government managed to negotiate the reopening of other western and central oil ports and terminals last month, but not before major energy conglomerates, such as ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, withdrew their operations from the country.

Libyan officials are trying to reassure investors that improved contract conditions will be forthcoming, with the legal and political infrastructure established to safely loot their country.

Before the second Libya Forum, organized in Tripoli by the British-based CWC Group this June to bring representatives of foreign oil companies together with Libyan officials, Nurri Berruein, head of the National Oil Company, said that the forum’s priorities included a review of the basic contract model. In the new licensing rounds, he said, “Companies can expect attractive commercial fiscal terms founded on the basis of mutual interest, win-win relationships and maximizing partnership values.”

The central government in Tripoli has not been able to re-establish control of the oil-rich eastern part of the country, where the initial NATO-backed protests that led to the war began.

Ibrahim Jadhran, a former Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) commander who was fired from his post for insubordination, has reportedly taken over many of the eastern ports and oilfields. As head of the Political Bureau of the Cyrenaica Transitional Council, Jathran has demanded greater regional autonomy.

The government has responded by accusing the eastern guards of attempting to sell oil behind its back and warning that it would use force to prevent illegal sales. Libya’s prosecutor general has also issued a warrant for Jadhran’s arrest.

The government fears that the conflict with eastern guards could turn into an all-out war with the Al Megharba tribe, of which Jedran is a member. At the investor’s conference in London last month, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan pleaded with British Prime Minister David Cameron for greater Western assistance in building up the army and police to bring the country’s oil industry back under the control of the central government.

An Jadhran went on television on September 22 to announce that Naji Mukhtar, head of the congressional Energy Committee, had tried to bribe him with 30 million Libyan dinars to resume production in the east. Mukhar has claimed the money was his own and he was not acting with the direction and knowledge of the government. He has been withdrawn from any active role in negotiations and faces an internal congressional investigation into the bribery allegations.

This is just one of a series of scandals in recent months that have shattered what little semblance of unity remained in the NATO-installed puppet regime. In September, several members of congress accused members of the Justice and Construction Party of making illegal oil deals with the Muslim Brotherhood. Congressman Tuati Al-Aidha, one of the accusers, has been forced to resign from congress and the other accusers remain under investigation.

The International Monetary Fund published the findings of its official staff visit to Libya in July, reprimanding the government for granting public employees a pay raise. In response, a number of Libyan officials scrambled to distance themselves from the move and from Prime Minister Zidan’s government. There have been repeated calls for Prime Minister Zidan’s resignation in recent months, culminating in his kidnapping for several hours earlier this month, apparently in retaliation for the US operation to kidnap Abu Anas al-Liby.

At a Sunday press conference, Zidan said that militias and various unnamed forces had infiltrated the army and police force and were preventing them from being rebuilt. Consequently, he said, Libya was not a state “in the normal sense of word.”

Guns and Butter, for October 23, 2013 – 1:00pm

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Guns and Butter

“Dress Rehearsal for Government Privatization” with Michel Chossudovsky.  

Privatization of government operating through the process of fiscal collapse; black budgets; war and Wall Street; the Federal Reserve Bank; shock and awe economics; IMF structural adjustment; the Washington consensus; extreme austerity measures; the proxy state; speculative onslaught, regulatory capture; financial warfare against the American public.

https://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/96427

See the following Articles 

“Debt Default”: A Dress Rehearsal for the Privatization of the Federal State System? By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, October 12, 2013

Several overlapping political and economic agendas are unfolding. Is the shutdown –implying the furloughing of tens of thousands of public employees– a dress rehearsal for the eventual privatization of important components of the federal State system?

The Speculative Endgame: The Government “Shutdown” and “Debt Default”, A Multibillion Bonanza for Wall Street By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, October 16, 2013

 

 

Though Norway in June overtook Russia in total exports of natural gas to Europe, the balance of Russian gas to Europe comes through Ukraine, which itself is dependent upon Russia for 60% of its current gas consumption.

While Ukraine controls the transit of 90% of its gas to Europe, Russia is consistently trying to use its gas exports to Ukraine to gain greater control of the Ukraine transit system, which itself deems a strategic asset. The struggle for control of export to Europe and Ukraine’s own struggle to increase domestic production and move closer to Europe, with an European Association Agreement set to be signed in November this year, has put extreme stress not only on the energy independence of Ukraine but of Europe as a whole.

From an energy geostrategic standpoint, Europe needs Ukraine to move closer to Europe, “but for all its planning, Europe also knows retribution, in the shape of an energy squeeze, is likely from Russia.

Moscow, which has a long-standing disagreement with Ukraine over gas, has said it will raise Ukraine’s gas prices and officials do not rule out it doing the same for the EU, which gets nearly 40% of its gas from Russia. “The EU should not look at Ukraine as a business opportunity alone, particularly in light of currently lagging gas demand, but should examine the long-term future of European energy security and the key role Ukraine will continue to play in it. Partnership with the EU is not a silver bullet for the troubled Ukrainian energy sector, but it is certain to reduce the volatility of future pricing disputes and is perhaps the only solution that does not leave Ukraine’s fate entirely in Russian hands,” according to an article by Richard B Andres and Michael Kofman.

Ukraine has also done much in the past 18 months to increase its energy independence. Recent shale tenders with Shell and Chevron and with Exxon for the development of the Ukrainian Black Sea have the potential to greatly reduce the dependence Ukraine has on Russian exports and potentially for Europe as well. “While the full picture of unconventional gas is expected to be assessed in the coming years, the key to success, as is the case of Ukraine, is infrastructure. If the future of shale gas exploration is to be bright, a new infrastructure will have to be built to link the sources of unconventional gas with the grid to allow for the commercialization of the gas.

 “To ensure that the Energy Community brings results, once operationalized the shale gas opportunity should be extended to the Eastern Neighborhood. It would allow the Eastern Neighborhood, in particular Ukraine, to create stronger bonds between the EU and the region and, as a result, galvanize stronger energy interdependence between the EU and Russia by stabilizing Ukraine’s internal energy supply,” according to a policy paper from the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation (BST).

 Coup in the Making?

In the past five years, there has been significant growth in Europe’s LNG [ Liquefied Natural Gas] import capacity; however, high LNG prices driven by Japanese demand, and the higher oil-linked price that LNG receives in Asia has diverted much of this supply from the European market.

An agreement between Ukraine and Turkey for the transit of LNG through the Bosporus, as the gateway to the Black Sea, would be a major coup for European energy security. It would put downward pressure on current LNG prices due to the high demand and premium paid in Asia and would eventually provide Europe with cheap shale gas through a viable alternative marketplace.

It’s an idea developed by Robert Bensh , energy advisor to Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Yuriy Boyko, managing director of Pelicourt Limited and senior advisor for Cub Energy Inc., which operates in both Ukraine and Turkey.

The potential for LNG exports to Europe without a deal between Turkey and Ukraine for liquefied natural gas (LNG) through the Bosporus will fall flat, and Russia will continue to provide at least 30% of Europe’s natural gas through 2023.

“The European Union can and should play a more active role in shaping the Black Sea security environment. As a full regional player, it should promote cooperation on an equal footing, and refrain from acting as a sponsor as it does, for instance, in the Mediterranean. As a privileged partner of all countries of the region, the EU should use its bilateral relations with each of them, including Russia and Turkey, to contribute towards the emergence of a cooperative security environment in the Black Sea region,” according to a European Parliament briefing .

A CRS Report for US Congress agrees, stating:

“Development of more liquefied natural gas (LNG) transport and reception facilities from distant suppliers, such as Nigeria, into Europe could be another course of action. Coupled with the development of new oil and gas pipelines could be an offer from NATO (and/or EU) members to provide security for energy infrastructure in periods of unrest or conflict in supplier and transit countries.

 For both Ukraine and Turkey, such a deal would also be a political and economic coup of vast proportions, Bensh says.

 For Ukraine, LNG is the key to energy independence. For Turkey, LNG is the key to becoming one of the most important energy hubs between the Middle East and Europe. In combination with the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which will bring Azerbaijani gas from Shah Deniz through Turkey on to European markets, controlling the LNG segment through the Black Sea would give Turkey broader leverage than any other player in Europe. For both Ukraine and Turkey, it would mean greater access to the economic benefits of the European Union, control over Europe’s LNG market and a level of political leverage over the continent that would render both world-class strategic players.

The benefits to Ukraine and Turkey are significant:

Benefits to Ukraine

  • Independence from Russia
  • Greater access to the European Union, with Kiev able to be assertive on the terms
  • Political leverage in Washington, which is keen to see a Turkey-Ukraine LNG deal put through, especially one focused in part on Qatari gas as opposed to Iranian gas
  • Control of the European market for LNG
  • Economic prosperity by giving an edge to heavy gas-reliant industries
  • Strategic positioning and leverage that goes beyond Europe and into the Middle East/Gulf and especially between competitors Qatar and Iran

Benefits for Turkey

  • Control of the European LNG market
  • Rise as an energy hub between the Middle East and Europe, not just an energy transit country
  • Political leverage over Europe and access to the EU on Ankara’s terms
  • Political leverage with Washington
  • Strategic positioning as an energy hub that renders Turkey the decision-maker from Europe to the Middle East/Gulf
  • Diversification of supplies, with less reliance on Russian and Iranian deliveries, including from emerging African powerhouses such as Angola and Ghana

Timing is important, and the window of opportunity should be taken advantage of before new pipelines come online and while two of the world’s biggest gas players—Qatar and Iran—are in a desperate race to grab the European market. If an LNG agreement is solidified within this timeframe, it will dictate rather than serve as an afterthought to Europe’s gas future.

In this respect, Ukraine and Turkey together already have a certain amount of leverage at the negotiating table, particularly with respect to Qatari supplies, which are very eager to get to the wider European market. Timing is critical as Iran, suffering under economic sanctions that has caused widespread unemployment and a recession (the under 35 age group is thought to have unemployment of over 40%; a sobering thought in a period of Arab Springs) is attempting to have access to markets from which it currently is cut off from; and there is no better indication of this than the British government’s current reconsideration of the embargo on BP’s joint venture with the Iranian National Gas Company in the Rhum field. One additional factor in the conflict in Syria was, Qatari-versus-Iranian plans to run a pipeline through the country to Turkey, eyeing the European market.

In terms of critical timing, Ukraine and Turkey would be better positioned strategically were they to strike an LNG deal before the beginning of Phase Two production at Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field, and before TANAP begins operations. The price of LNG is more volatile due to the Asian market, and it would be more beneficial for LNG to secure this market, while natural gas futures for Shah Deniz supplies, which have already been contracted out for 25 years to nine European companies.

 Another Black Sea LNG project—the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector (AGRI) project—is also being delayed due to the perception that European demand is not ready for this project. This is a false perception that is driven by the Asian-driven LNG price spikes and the diversion of cargoes away from the European market. AGRI at present is languishing as it waits for the market to develop. This is an opportunity for a Ukraine-Turkey LNG agreement. The first to develop will control the market.

 The AGRI project is hoping to transport natural gas from the Caspian region (primarily Turkmenistan) to Europe designed as a part of the Southern Corridor and as the shortest direct route for Caspian gas to European markets. If realized, AGRI would transport Azerbaijani LNG from Georgia, across the Black Sea, to an LNG terminal planned for construction on the Romanian Black Sea coast, then piped through to Hungary through the interconnector with Romania and then further into Europe.

 Azerbaijan, Romania and Georgia signed the Memorandum of Understanding for this project in April 2010, but not much has happened since then. The project requires the construction not only of a regasification terminal in Romania, but also a liquefaction plant in Georgia.

 Competition for this strategic positioning will come from the development of Mediterranean LNG projects, which could also be a game-changer for Europe. Potential projects here (Cyprus and Israel, first and foremost) remain uncertain, but if realized they would offer gas to high-demand Southeastern European markets with attractive pricing. In the absence of an LNG agreement between Ukraine and Turkey, Cyprus and Israel have the potential to capture the European market from the Mediterranean side. Timing is critical and the advantage will go to the players who recognize the opportunity to fill the long-term LNG supply gap that has been created by the diversion of cargo to Asia. Ukraine, has the potential to fill this gap and control the market.

 LNG’S Role in European Energy Security

The European Market for LNG at a Glance:

  • Relative to 2011, LNG deliveries to the EU fell 31% in 2012, with imports from Qatar down 35%, Nigeria 31% and Algeria 18%, while imports to Asia have grown by up to 70%
  • So far for 2013, LNG deliveries are in line with this downward trend
  • For the first quarter of 2013, gas flowing out of LNG terminals into pipelines (LNG send-out to grids) in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium was down by 60% over the same period in 2012, and down 40% in France and 30% in Spain, Italy and Portugal
  • The average price of spot pipeline gas in Europe is around $10 per MMBtu, while the average spot LNG price is $11.40/MMBtu (there is a wide range of LNG pricing across Europe)
  • In Japan, LNG prices are about 40% higher (as of Q1 2013) than spot prices in the UK, for example

LNG in Europe, Present and Future

At the close of 2012, LNG accounted for 19% of Europe’s gas supply, while 81% was natural gas transported via pipeline.

 The Fukushima disaster in Japan forced European countries to reconsider their nuclear policies, and this has forced a stronger focus on coal, natural gas and LNG. Before Fukushima, LNG was favored over natural gas because supplies were greater at that time and prices were cheaper than piped-in gas. As a result of the Fukushima disaster and Japan’s resultant eschewing of nuclear power reliance, is a run on LNG by Japan and other Asian nations who are willing to pay higher prices. This has driven LNG prices up and diverted supplies to the Asian market. In addition, it has caused fewer LNG development projects to be pursued in Europe. This translates into future gas shortages when LNG supplies can no longer meet growing Asian demand and when there is a lack of long-term LNG commitment in Europe. This is the critical window of opportunity in the market for Ukraine and Turkey. (There is a certain counter-intuitive momentum to be grasped here.)

 Because Asia signs on to long-term LNG agreements with high, oil-linked prices, there are predictions that Europe will find itself with extremely restricted access to LNG in the near- to medium-term future, with a recovery in demand and a growing reluctance to rely on dirty coal for power generation.

 This past decade has seen global LNG supplies double and regasification and shipping capacity triple. The exception is Europe, where Ukraine and Turkey are singularly positioned to take advantage of this LNG gap before demand picks up and the opportunity for strategic positioning is weakened.

 The LNG market is set to expand globally over the next decade, and demand for LNG in Europe is most likely set to rise even without affecting natural gas supplies. Thus, TANAP and a Ukrainian-Turkish LNG agreement would work in tandem, not in competition, to control an even greater market share.

 If Russia ends up building natural gas storage facilities in Turkey—an idea for which Gazprom expressed interest earlier this year—Turkey will lose its chance for maximum political leverage. This past winter, Gazprom redirected natural gas from its storage facilities in Europe after a spike in demand in Turkey. This prompted a Russian justification for potentially building storage facilities in Turkey ostensibly to come to the rescue when supplies are insufficient. In theory, though, this would represent an increased Russian energy footprint in Turkey that would negatively impact Turkey’s energy hub ambitions and would only help to solidify its dependence on Russian supplies, which amount to about 58% of Turkey’s total supplies. An LNG deal with Ukraine would give Turkey greater access to additional alternative supplies, and this, combined with an anticipated increase in Azerbaijani supplies from Shah Deniz will allow Turkey to become a true, diversified energy hub.

 Qatar is heavily courting both Ukraine and Turkey for LNG through the Bosporus. From Qatar’s perspective, if Qatari LNG is allowed to pass through the Turkish-controlled Bosporus, this will deal a heavy blow to Iran. As such, Qatar recognizes Turkey’s role here as a key geopolitical power broker on the energy scene. Along this same line of thought, Qatar’s perception is that Russia is not capable at this time of preventing a Turkey-Ukraine energy deal focused on Qatari gas.

 For Turkey, though, such a deal would allow it to further diversify its supplies, reducing reliance on both Russian and Iran—the latter which has been unreliable in terms of supplies over recent years.

Such a deal also further underlines the extent of political leverage Ukraine and Turkey would enjoy well beyond Europe, and into the Middle East.

 Geopolitically, if Ukraine and Turkey were to bring Qatari gas through the Bosporus and on to European markets, this would help balance the power of a Russian-Iranian axis. It would reshape geopolitical dynamics, with Turkey the driving force through its strategic position as a Middle East-Europe energy hub.

 Turkish and Ukrainian interest can either merge, or diverge to be counter-productive both to their gas supply needs and to European energy security. The perceptions of competition between Ukraine and Turkey are there, however, it is only through the combined, complementary force of the two that we will see a new energy powerhouse emerge.

LNG is the future, and globally we are looking at a major upswing in demand, including for Europe in the medium-to-long term.

 As becomes clearer every year, pipeline gas delivery is hindered severely by economics and geopolitics. It limits room for consumer maneuvering, especially for those who are reliant on few, or single, sources. LNG can avoid much of these same hurdles, despite the investment cost associated with LNG facilities. There is a great deal of market flexibility to be found in LNG due to the absence of piping contracts.

LNG will become the key fuel of the future, and the forces that grasp the Black Sea market for LNG first will be among the most influential players on the global energy market. There is also the Black Sea marine industry to consider here, and the future is likely to see this converted to LNG—with new and converted transport vehicles and vessels running on LNG.

 Source: http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/Europe/Ukraine-Turkey-The-European-Energy-Coup.html

 By. Oil & Energy Insider Analysts

This report is part of Oilprice.com ‘s premium publication Oil & Energy Insider . Oil & Energy Insider gives subscribers an information advantage when investing, trading or doing business in the energy sectors.  http://oilprice.com/premium

ReThink911: 911 Truth Confronts The New York Times

October 23rd, 2013 by Global Research News

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América Latina: temas urgentes de la coyuntura geopolítica

October 23rd, 2013 by Atilio A. Boron

El viernes pasado concluyeron en La Habana las deliberaciones de la Primera Conferencia sobre Estudios Estratégicos organizado por el Centro de Investigaciones de Política Internacional dependiente del Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales (ISRI) del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba. Fueron tres días de productivas discusiones en los cuales se pasó revista a distintos aspectos de la coyuntura geopolítica internacional y el papel que en la misma juegan los países de América Latina y el Caribe.

Algunas reflexiones preliminares habían sido expuestas en un posteo anterior; a continuación se exponen algunas de las conclusiones más relevantes de la conferencia:

a) Necesidad de una respuesta mucho más tajante de nuestros países en relación a la agresión informática, el espionaje y los ciberataques lanzados por diversas agencias de inteligencia de Estados Unidos. De hecho, cuando Google, Yahoo, Skype, Facebook y otras grandes compañías del mundo de la Internet reconocieron públicamente que transferían sus archivos a los organismos de espionaje y seguridad de Estados Unidos todos esos programas deberían haber sido eliminados inmediatamente de los organismos gubernamentales de la región y reemplazados, en la medida en que ello fuera posible, por sucedáneos del software libre. Paralelamente tendría que haberse lanzado una gran campaña para desalentar su empleo en las organizaciones no-gubernamentales y el público en general, cosa que apenas se está haciendo en Brasil, víctima preferencial de esos ataques junto con Alemania y Francia, según recientes revelaciones.

Varios expertos coincidieron en señalar que los programas convencionales de anti-virus revisan y limpian todos los archivos de computadoras localizadas en tanto en El Cairo como Buenos Aires o Bangalore, pero que la labor se hace en Estados Unidos y que simultáneamente con la remoción o no de los virus esos archivos son copiados y mantenidos en gigantescos servidores controlados por el gobierno de Estados Unidos, donde son almacenados y revisados primeros por robots informáticos y, cuando aparecen contenidos, emisores o destinatarios sospechosos, por humanos. Conclusión: se impone acelerar el tránsito hacia el software libre y, además, desechar todas las computadoras hechas en Estados Unidos o por firmas norteamericanas radicadas en terceros países, de donde se desprende la importancia de desarrollar una industria latinoamericana de producción de hardwares de diverso tipo (computadoras de mesa, laptops, tabletas, etcétera).

b) Otra de las conclusiones se focalizó sobre La silenciosa y permanente agresión militar del imperialismo y el papel de la UNASUR. Uno de los graves problemas que enfrenta la región es que pese a estar cercada por 76 bases militares estadounidenses los gobiernos de la UNASUR no han sido capaces hasta ahora de consensuar una hipótesis de conflicto realista para la región. Hipótesis que debe responder a una pregunta bien simple: ¿quién es nuestro más probable agresor o quién es el que ya nos está amenazando? No obstante la abrumadora presencia de tantas instalaciones militares estadounidenses diseminadas a lo largo y a lo ancho de toda América del Sur esa respuesta todavía no ha sido siquiera esbozada y continúa siendo un tema tabú al interior de la UNASUR.

Obviamente que la heterogeneidad del mapa sociopolítico sudamericano conspira contra una tal iniciativa. Hay gobiernos que han asumido como su misión convertirse en los “Caballos de Troya” del imperio y obedecer incondicionalmente las directivas emanadas de Washington: en Sudamérica tal es la situación de Colombia, Perú y Chile, con la muy probable adición a esta lista del gobierno del Paraguay. Hay otros que pugnan por asegurar su autodeterminación y resistir a los designios y presiones del imperialismo: casos de Bolivia, Ecuador y Venezuela. Y otros, como Argentina, Brasil y Uruguay, que navegan a media agua: apoyan tibiamente a los segundos en sus proyectos continentales pero comparten con los primeros su vocación de instaurar en sus países un “capitalismo serio”, engañoso oxímoron que enturbia la conciencia de gobernantes y gobernados por igual. El resultado es la enorme dificultad de llegar a un acuerdo para, por ejemplo, exigir algo tan fundamental como el retiro de las bases militares extranjeras de América del Sur; o para mantener a esta parte del continente como una zona libre de armas nucleares, cosa que ahora es imposible de certificar. ¿Cómo saber cuáles son las armas que el Pentágono instala en sus bases? Hay sospechas muy fundadas de que en algunas que posee en Colombia, como Palanquero, o en la de la OTAN en Malvinas (base que cuenta con apoyo logístico y presencia militar estadounidense) puede haber armas de destrucción masiva. Pero la verificación in situ ha probado ser, al menos hasta ahora, imposible porque ni siquiera existe un acuerdo sobre la necesidad o conveniencia de llevar a cabo una inspección.

 

La silenciosa pero muy efectiva ingerencia de Washington sobre las fuerzas armadas latinoamericanas se traduce también en la insólita continuidad de los programas de “formación y adiestramiento” de militares y -¡cuidado con esto!- de fuerzas policiales en la región. Incluso en gobiernos claramente enfrentados con el imperialismo norteamericano la inercia de tantas décadas de formación en la Escuela de las Américas y otras del mismo tipo torna difícil sustraerse a la presión militar para continuar con esos programas. Pero cuando la costumbre y los incentivos crematísticos no son suficientes la Casa Blanca apela a la extorsión. Si un país decide no enviar sus oficiales a tomar cursos de formación en Estados Unidos en represalia Washington puede interrumpir el suministro de equipo militar a los países del área, sea bajo la forma de donaciones o ventas subsidiadas.

De ese modo el gobierno desobediente podría después ser acusado de “no colaboración” en la guerra contra el narcotráfico o el terrorismo, entre otras cosas por no contar con los equipos y armamentos adecuados para la tarea. Y es lógico pensar que quien se adiestra en Estados Unidos es entrenado para combatir a quienes ese país considere como sus enemigos. Y ya sabemos quienes son éstos para el imperio: precisamente los gobiernos y las fuerzas antiimperialistas de la región. En suma: los cursos, las armas y las doctrinas militares conforman una trinidad inseparable. Los países que envían a sus oficiales a entrenarse en Estados Unidos están también dejando en manos de ese país decidir quienes son los enemigos a combatir y cómo hacerlo.

 

En la misma línea debe señalarse la absurda sobrevivencia del TIAR, el Tratado Interamericano de Asistencia Recíproca desahuciado en los hechos por la colaboración brindada por Washington a Gran Bretaña en la Guerra de las Malvinas; o la continuidad de las periódicas reuniones de los Comandantes en Jefe o de la Junta Interamericana de Defensa; o la realización de operaciones conjuntas con fuerzas de Estados Unidos, siendo que éste es el único enemigo regional a la vista. Todo lo anterior se complementa, en el plano jurídico, con la aprobación en casi todos nuestros países de una legislación antiterrorista sólo inspirada en la necesidad de proteger la sigilosa ocupación de los Estados Unidos del territorio latinoamericano y de criminalizar a las fuerzas políticas y movimientos sociales que se oponen a los avances del imperialismo.

c) También surgió de la conferencia la necesidad de estudiar sistemáticamente al imperialismo norteamericano. Es preciso revertir una peligrosa tendencia muy presente en las fuerzas políticas y los movimientos antiimperialistas de la región y que se sintetiza en una consigna rayana en el suicidio: “al enemigo no se lo estudia sino que se lo combate.” Se exalta el fervor militante, lo que está bien, pero se subestima la necesidad de conocer científicamente, minuciosamente, al imperialismo, lo que está mal. Sin estudiar a fondo a Estados Unidos como centro nervioso del sistema imperialista; sin conocer cómo funciona; sin saber cuáles son los dispositivos mediante los cuales establece su predominio a escala mundial y quiénes son sus agentes operativos en los planos de la economía, la política y la cultura; desconociendo cuáles son sus estrategias y tácticas de lucha, sus artificios propagandísticos y sus concepciones ideológicas, y quiénes sus peones locales se torna casi imposible librar una batalla exitosa contra su dominación. Por eso tenía razón José Martí, uno de los grandes héroes de nuestras luchas antiimperialistas, cuando para fundamentar su diagnóstico sobre los ominosos designios de Estados Unidos le dijo a su amigo Manuel Mercado que “viví en el monstruo, y le conozco las entrañas.”

Pero el desconocimiento del imperio no es atributo exclusivo de la militancia antiimperialista. Lamentablemente en la academia de nuestros países el estudio de los Estados Unidos es una materia que brilla por su ausencia. Se cuentan con los dedos de una mano los centros de investigación que se dedican a estudiar a nuestros opresores, mientras que en Estados Unidos son alrededor de trescientos los centros y/o programas de enseñanza e investigación que tienen por objeto investigar nuestras sociedades. Estas preocupantes realidades deberían suscitar una rápida reacción de las fuerzas antiimperialistas de la región, recordando lo que con tanta razón observara Lenin al decir que “nada hay más práctico que una buena teoría”. Una buena teoría sobre el imperialismo contemporáneo que debe articular la tradición clásica, sobre todo la teoría leninista del imperialismo, con las novedades que asume el fenómeno un siglo después de que el revolucionario ruso escribiera su libro sobre el tema. Novedades entre las cuales no es precisamente la menor el desplazamiento del centro del sistema imperialista desde las potencias coloniales europeas a los Estados Unidos; novedades, también conviene subrayarlo, que lejos de refutar las previsiones y los análisis de Lenin no hicieron sino ratificarlos pero bajo nuevas formas que no pueden ser ignoradas si lo que se pretende es librar un eficaz combate contra tan perverso sistema.[1]

Necesidad, por lo tanto, de estudiar seriamente el funcionamiento del “complejo militar e industrial” norteamericano, y su insaciable voracidad. Es este entramado de gigantescos oligopolios lo que constituye el corazón de la clase dominante norteamericana y, por extensión, de la burguesía imperial. Para el “complejo militar e industrial” la paz equivale a la bancarrota: sin guerras no hay ganancias y sin ganancias no se puede financiar a la clase política de Estados Unidos. Perversa articulación entre la rentabilidad de la industria armamentística –una industria que sólo provoca destrucción y muerte- y las necesidades de los políticos norteamericanos de costear sus carreras políticas que inevitablemente terminan colocando a los vencedores al servicio de sus financistas. No sorprende, por lo tanto, constatar que las ventas de las industrias del “complejo militar-industrial” hayan aumentado en un 60 % entre 2002 y 2012, desde el comienzo de la gran contraofensiva militar después del 11-S hasta nuestros días.

Dato adicional: ¿se acuerdan que hace unos seis meses parecía que el mundo enfrentaba un inminente ataque atómico lanzado por Corea del Norte? ¿Qué pasó con eso? ¿Ahora los norcoreanos ya no ponen en jaque al planeta? Después se dijo que parecía que la obstinación de Irán de continuar con su programa nuclear ponía en peligro la paz muncial, y más tarde el problema de las “armas químicas” de Siria parecía colocarnos, otra vez, al borde de una Tercera Guerra Mundial. Conclusión: para la rentabilidad de sus negocios el “complejo militar-industrial” necesita garantizar que siempre haya crisis, y si no las hay las inventa, y si no las inventa las construye mediáticamente. Para eso está la prensa hegemónica que, cual la puta de Babilonia, se presta solícita a difundir esas patrañas que amedrentan a la población al paso que estimulan la producción de nuevos y cada vez más letales armamentos.

d) Diversas ponencias de la conferencia señalaron la continuidad de la política de la Casa Blanca hacia América Latina y el Caribe. En este sentido hubo un consenso prácticamente unánime en señalar la identidad existente entre las políticas latinoamericanas de las administraciones de George W. Bush y Barack Obama, razón por la cual conviene dejar de utilizar ese nombre –“administración”- y hablar mejor del “régimen de Washington”, para señalar de este modo la sistemática violación de la legalidad internacional y los derechos humanos practicada por el gobierno norteamericano, de cualquier signo.[2]

En lo que toca a Cuba si algo hizo el “régimen” norteamericano fue intensificar el bloqueo financiero, comercial y económico contra la isla, ajustando aún más los controles establecidos por la legislación estadounidense. No deja de ser sorprendente que no haya todavía surgido una queja universal en contra de la ilegal e inmoral extraterritorialidad establecida por la Enmienda Torricelli a la Ley Helms-Burton. Según esta monstruosidad jurídica -diseñada exclusivamente para perjudicar a un solo país en el mundo: Cuba- el gobierno de Estados Unidos está autorizado para aplicar sanciones a cualquier empresa nacional o de un tercer país (por ejemplo, una británica, japonesa o sueca) por el sólo hecho de comerciar con Cuba o iniciar emprendimientos económicos con la Isla, por ejemplo, en la explotación del petróleo.

En otras palabras, Estados Unidos “legaliza” al imperialismo mediante la despótica imposición de la ley estadounidense por encima de la de todos los países del globo. ¡Imaginemos lo que ocurriría sin país cualquiera pretendiera hacer algo igual, por ejemplo, universalizar su legislación prohibitoria de la pena de muerte y sancionara a aquél que, como Estados Unidos, aún la aplicara! Para quienes todavía dudan de que vivimos bajo un sistema imperial los ejemplos anteriores bastan y sobran para convencerlos de lo contrario.

Otro rasgo que demuestra la enfermiza persistencia de la agresión en contra de Cuba está dado por el hecho de que Washington continúa utilizando transmisiones ilegales de radio y televisión convocando al pueblo de la Isla a subvertir el orden constitucional vigente y a rebelarse en contra de su gobierno, con el objeto de lograr el largamente acariciado “cambio de régimen”. Dichas transmisiones no sólo divulgan propaganda sediciosa sino que, además, interfieren en el normal funcionamiento de las emisoras de radio y televisión cubanas. Se estima que el costo de estas actividades ilegales patrocinadas por Washington se eleva a unos 30 millones de dólares anuales.

Un informe reciente de la Auditoría del Gobierno estadounidense referido exclusivamente a las actividades de la USAID y el Departamento de Estado reveló además que entre 1996 y el 2011 esas agencias destinaron 205 millones de dólares para promover el derrocamiento del gobierno cubano. Muchos millones más fueron seguramente apropiados por la CIA, la USAID, el Fondo Nacional para la Democracia y otras instituciones afines para promover tan siniestros objetivos. Por lo visto le asistía toda la razón a Noam Chomsky cuando interrogado a fines del 2008 sobre su pronóstico acerca de la inminente inauguración del “régimen de Obama” respondió sarcásticamente que éste sería apenas el tercer turno de la Administración Bush.

Tenía razón, como lo demostró la historia, aunque se quedó corto: si se computa el número de muertes civiles ocasionadas por los aviones no tripulados norteamericanos, los “drones”, el inverosímil Premio Nobel de la Paz superó con creces el saldo luctuoso de su predecesor. ¡Ah!, a seis meses de las elecciones presidenciales venezolanas el muy distraído Obama todavía parece no haberse enterado que el triunfador de esa contienda fue el candidato chavista Nicolás Maduro y sigue sin reconocer oficialmente su victoria y alentando, de ese modo, los planes desestabilizadores de la oposición fascista en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela. Y los cuatro luchadores antiterroristas cubanos que purgan en las cárceles del imperio su osadía de pretender desmontar la máquina terrorista instalada en Miami -y protegida por el “régimen de Washington” – podrían ser puestos inmediatamente en libertad si Obama ejerciera las atribuciones del perdón presidencial que le confiere la constitución. Pero no lo hace. En cambio, sigue apadrinando a terroristas como Luis Posada Carriles o el ex presidente boliviano Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, cuya extradición es solicitada por la justicia de ese país por su responsabilidad en la masacre de 67 personas durante las jornadas de protesta popular que provocaron su caída.

Notas

[1] Sobre el tema consultar dos obras de nuestra autoría, de descarga gratuita en la web: Imperio & Imperialismo. Una lectura crítica de Michael Hardt y Antonio Negri (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 5º edición, 2004, “Premio Extraordinario de Ensayo de “Casa de las Américas”), especialmente el capítulo 8 y la compilación que efectuara con el título de Nueva Hegemonía Mundial. Alternativas de cambio y movimientos sociales (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 2004), po. 133-154. Pueden encontrarse el primero deestos libros en: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bx2YC3gJbq2TMjExMTU0MGUtMjY2ZC00ZDg0LTljOWUt ODIyMDZkNzM4YTRh/edit?usp=drive_web Y el segundo se encuentra en: http://biblioteca.clacso.edu.ar/clacso/se/20120507124307/nuevah.pdf

[2] Ver la nota en nuestro blog: www.atilioboron.com.ar o también en http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2013/09/19/the-obama-regime/

 

Chemtrails: A Planetary Catastrophe Created by Geo-engineering

October 23rd, 2013 by Global Research News

Planet Earth has been besieged by many and diverse scientific experiments over the past one hundred years. Applied science and technology have seen a literal explosion of top secret and highly classified operations conducted in the atmosphere, throughout the planetary surface, as well as deep within the Earth’s crust. However, none comes close to the degree of round-the-clock damage inflicted on the biosphere as the DARPA-sponsored program of geo-engineering.

Just one component of this secret geo-engineering program is known as chemtrails. For those who have never heard of chemtrails, they are not to be confused with contrails, which are the normal exhaust vapors ejected from jet engines in flight. Here is a photo of numerous chemtrails having just been laid down by special jets equipped to do the job

Can you imagine that the government has labeled these chemtrails as normal contrail activity?

Every reader of this article needs to understand that, where it concerns the outright destruction of the human habitat, geo-engineering reigns supreme in it’s potential to render the planet unfit for life … all life — human, animal, and plant. Geo-engineering has so many different facets to it, each of which are extraordinarily harmful to all levels of the Earth’s atmosphere, the entire surface environment, as well as the subterranean geology and oceans of the world.So dangerous and little understood are the far-reaching repercussions of this geo-engineering assault that those of us who are initiated in this realm wonder if we are literally “one minute to midnight“.

For the reader’s benefit we have included a short photo-documentary so that all doubt will be removed as to the pervasiveness and relentlessness of chemtrail spraying of the skies throughout the world.
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Surely we have made the point by now, and that point is well taken. If not, then one is necessarily compelled to read further.

What exactly is a chemtrail? What are the toxic chemicals they are spraying on us?

“The term chemtrail is a combination of the words “chemical” and “trail,” just as contrail is a contraction of “condensation trail.” The term does not refer to other forms of aerial spraying such as agricultural spraying (‘crop dusting’), cloud seeding, skywriting, or aerial firefighting. The term specifically refers to aerial trails … caused by the systematic high-altitude release of chemical substances not found in ordinary contrails, resulting in the appearance of characteristic sky tracks.

“The chemtrail … trails left by aircraft are chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for purposes undisclosed to the general public and directed by various government officials.

“… the existence of chemtrails … phenomena as streams that persist for hours and that, with their criss-cross, grid-like or parallel stripe patterns, eventually blend to form large clouds. Proponents view the presence of visible color spectra in the streams, unusual concentrations of sky tracks in a single area, or lingering tracks left by unmarked or military airplanes flying at atypical altitudes or locations as markers of chemtrails.
– Wikipedia

(You know when Wikipedia provides such an accurate description, superficial though it may be, that there’s much more to this covert op than even the best researchers have been able to determine.)

For a more in depth discussion we will defer to the experts who have scientifically analyzed chemtrails to the greatest extent possible. Their explanation is as good as it gets.
GeoEngineering Watch

As for the chemical components which have been found in their wake, these known toxins can no longer be denied. The following website is a good place to start to answer these two questions.
Geoengineering & Chemtrails: What In The World Are They Spraying? And Why?

Here is a list of chemicals which are routinely disseminated via chemtrail spraying:

“Over the past decade, independent testing of Chemtrails around the country has shown a dangerous, extremely poisonous brew that includes: barium, nano aluminum-coated fiberglass [known as CHAFF], radioactive thorium, cadmium, chromium, nickel, desiccated blood, mold spores, yellow fungal mycotoxins, ethylene dibromide, and polymer fibers. Barium can be compared to the toxicity of arsenic. Barium is known to adversely affect the heart. Aluminum has a history of damaging brain function. Independent researchers and labs continue to show off-the-scale levels of these poisons. A few “anonymous” officials have acknowledged this on-going aerosol spraying.”[1]

We in no way mean to minimize the incessant injury to human health across the planet which occurs through the breathing and ingestion of the chemicals which are contained in chemtrails. What good can possibly come from barium salts or aluminum oxide or vaporized mercury or strontium 90 or uranium 238 being sprayed throughout the skies worldwide? Clearly, the extremely deleterious effects to human health, as well as to all living organisms, is self evident.

However, the purpose of this essay is not to further unveil their agenda with regard to human engineering of the physical organism. Rather, the scope of this article is to lay bare the most profound and fundamental alterations which geo-engineering is producing to the planet and its atmosphere. When these are both permanently altered in ways that are irreversible, the human race is then confronted with an extinction level event (ELE). Ongoing, slow motion, insidious, under the radar, pernicious to living organisms, but nevertheless an ELE.

Geo-engineering is a term which includes highly advanced forms of applied science and technologies, various newfangled chemical agents and synthetic materials, scientific bending of physical reality, as well as an assortment of reverse engineered modalities which are combined to produce specific outcomes. Because of the complexity of this essentially callow experiment, there are an infinite number of permutations which can be executed at any given time or place. Therefore, the number of opportunities for things to go wrong can be intensified exponentially.

Of course, the Butterfly Effect takes on new and dramatic meaning in the context of geo-engineering because nothing ever happens in a vacuum on this blue orb of ours. In fact, the more that the scientific community attempts to engineer weather (e.g. by manipulating hurricane and tornadoes or creating rain clouds) the more the boomerrang effect takes hold.

“A butterfly flaps its wings somewhere and the wind changes, and a warm front hits a cold front off the coast of western Africa and before you know it you’ve got a hurricane closing in. By the time anyone figured out the storm was coming, it was too late to do anything but batten down the hatches and exercise damage control.” ― Karen Marie Moning, Darkfever

For those who have never seen the actual aerosol sprays being ejected from the planes which are specially equipped, here are just a few snapshots. We only wish to make the point that this global chemtrail operation is certainly a ‘little more’ consequential than a butterfly beating its wings in Brazil or Botswana.

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HAARP-generated frequencies being conveyed through chemtrail-laden skies

The rapid proliferation of chemtrail spraying over the past few years has greatly increased the opportunities for frequencies to be disseminated through the ‘new’ atmosphere that is being engineered. These frequencies are set to produce a number of different outcomes, the most significant being to slow down the global warming phenomenon which is currently manifesting everywhere on the planet.

Because of such ill-fated attempts to effectuate such drastic changes in weather patterns that have been established for centuries, we now see drought where rain was once plentiful. And monsoons where there was drought.

For instance there are locations in Northern California and Oregon that have been without rain for six months. The forests in that area are literally dying because of lack of water and their consequent weakening which makes them susceptible to pestilence and disease.

Likewise, there are areas in the Southeast such as Florida and South Georgia which have just seen their first monsoon season in modern history. The meteorological dynamics for both of these radical shifts are directly cause by geo-engineering. In fact, although it is a very complicated story, and one that is almost unbelievable at times, conclusive evidence has been amassed that supports the ubiquitous damage to the environment caused by chemtrails and geo-engineering.

In our next essay we will lay bare the geo-engineering agenda which has given rise to these climatological anomalies. When evaluated in the aggregate around the globe, it will be understood that weather patterns on Planet Earth will never be the same again. It is for this reason that the Cosmic Convergence Research Group (CCRG) has begun this series on Geo-engineering and Chemtrails.

There is perhaps no greater threat to the sustainability of life on Earth than this issue of geo-engineering. One of the primary reasons is because it remains hidden and denied by the governments of the world. Therefore it continues unabated, and is expanded with every turn of the globe.

Those of us who know and have witnessed its exceptionally destructive results, and have protested, have been faced with fierce resistance. We intend to deeply explore the reasons for this unparalleled obstruction, and reveal how critical it is that humankind terminate this agenda once and for all.

For reasons that will become obvious, the CCRG highly recommends the viewing and distribution of the following two videos:

What in the World Are They Spraying? (Full Length)

Why in the World are They Spraying? (Full Length Documentary)

Conclusion

How can their possibly be a conclusion to this introductory piece on geo-engineering when we’ve barely scratched the surface?

When glaciers that have survived over millennia are melting at record rates, and the polar icecaps are disintegrating before our eyes, one begins to apprehend the gravity of this matter. Were one to objectively assess the catastrophic weather events over the past ten years, it would become readily apparent that forces are at work that cannot be slowed down. Any attempt to do so will only make matters substantially worse. And so they have.

Because of man’s insistence on playing god with the forces of nature, the normal balance has been irrevocably altered. As the scientific community continues to apply a “pharmaceutical approach” to fix things, it is clear that much worse scenarios are being set in motion. By treating the symptoms of a planetary transformation which must take its course, those governments and corporations responsible have essentially thrown more fuel on the fire. The “fire” of global warming (or global climate change, whichever you prefer) will not be extinguished until Mother Earth has completed a requisite period of renewal and rebirth.

It’s now time for the planetary civilization to participate in, rather than impede, this necessary process of planetary metamorphosis.

Cosmic Convergence Research Group
Submitted: September 11, 2013
[email protected]

Notes

[1] “Chemtrails: The Consequences of Toxic Metals and Chemical Aerosols on Human Health” By Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, Global Research, May 12, 2010

Required Reading:

To fully understand why such a fundamentally flawed geo-engineering paradigm
was even created, the following essay will provide some answers:

Cosmic Convergence Accelerates Epochal Planetary Transformation

Author’s Note

The key take-away from this essay is that geo-engineering represent perhaps the single greatest threat to the biosphere. Because of its pervasiveness and profundity, geo-engineering has the potential to perpetuate numerous self-destructive feedback loops many of which have already been operative for decades.
Especially when considered in the context of 2013 catastophism, geo-engineering may very well provide the straw that breaks the back of Planet Earth. Why? Because of the convergence of so many other ongoing events and processes – both manmade and naturally occurring on the earth and within the solar system – which present considerable stresses to the planetary living environment.

When the multitude of ecosystems start to collapse around the world, those breaking points become history. Each of them may eventually translate to a point of no return, if they haven’t already. As certain key environmental thresholds are exceeded, humankind is challenged to reverse trends which may no longer be possible to reverse. Too many detrimental and/or counter-productive trajectories are already pointing northward.

It is in this global context which geo-engineering can produce many awesome, unknown, and irrevocable unintended consequences. It appears to serve as a trigger for much of what has already been thrown out of balance. By working synergistically with other negative feedback loops, geo-engineering can also serve to significantly accentuate various downward spirals of planetary and atmospheric degradation.
That’s precisely why it must be terminated — NOW!

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Direct Rule by Wall Street Begins with Detroit

October 23rd, 2013 by Glen Ford

The United States has never been much of a democracy. Money has always wielded decisive power, despite the formal trappings of the electoral franchise. However, finance capital can no longer tolerate even the U.S.’s weak version of democracy – certainly, not when exercised by Black people. Detroit is the model for direct rule by the Lords of Capital.

Two items in the news this week put in graphic relief the overarching reality of our times: Wall Street is every day tightening its dictatorial grip on the political and economic life of the United States. The American state and economy are being relentlessly restructured in order to further consolidate the rule of finance capital. In the largely Black urban centers of the nation, the oligarchy intends to rule directly, without the inconvenience of meaningful elections and the other trappings of democracy.

Detroit proves the point. This week, a judge begins a bankruptcy court trial that will decide if local corporate dictator Kevyn Orr, the emergency financial manager imposed by the state to protect the interests of Wall Street, will essentially be allowed to sell Detroit’s assets to a British bank in order to pay off the city’s debts to American banks. The pensions of city workers may also be gutted in the process.

The city council of Detroit this week voted unanimously against the deal, but that is probably irrelevant, since the emergency manager law has stripped all power from Detroit’s elected officials. Democracy is dead in Detroit, as it is in all of Michigan’s largely Black cities, every single one of which is now run by a corporate dictator. The majority of Michigan’s African American citizens have no more electoral rights than did Blacks in South Africa under apartheid.

This new political regime has been carefully crafted to the specifications of Wall Street. City revenues from Detroit’s casino and income taxes will go directly through accounts of Barclays Bank. And if, for some reason, the emergency manager loses legal control of the city, then Barclays would be allowed to declare Detroit in default and begin seizing its assets, for liquidation – that is, the bankers would be empowered to exercise outright ownership of the city. Detroit will then serve as a model for the rest of urban America.

Also this week, the U.S. Justice Department reached an agreement with JP Morgan Chase, the country’s biggest bank in terms of assets, whose chairman and chief executive, Jamie Dimon, is a good friend of President Obama. The settlement calls for $9 billion in fines and sets aside $4 billion in relief to homeowners that were victimized by the banks’ mortgage securities practices. Nobody, of course, will go jail or even face criminal charges for the multitude of felonies committed by high JP Morgan executives – crimes that would be categorized as racketeering offenses were the perpetrators not part of a ruling class that is immune from prosecution. Jamie Dimon, the Godfather of JP Morgan’s criminal enterprise, has the privilege of bargaining with the U.S. Attorney General over the size of the fine his bank will pay. Dimon himself, of course, won’t pay a cent, despite his role in throwing millions out of work and costing the world economy many trillions of dollars. His class has emerged from the crisis they created stronger than ever: too big to fail, too big to jail, more than big enough to gobble up Detroit, bigger than the voting rights of U.S. citizens – especially Black citizens – which can be cancelled when democracy gets in the way of Wall Street. All Power to the Bankers!

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

The year 2014 could be shaping up as the year that the chickens come home to roost. 

Americans, even well-informed ones, don’t know all of the mistakes made by neoconized and corrupted Washington in the past two decades.  However, enough is known to see that the US has lost economic and political power, and that the loss is irreversible. 
The economic cost of this lost will be born by what remains of the middle class and the increasingly poverty-stricken lower class.  The one percent will have offshore gold holdings and large sums of money in foreign currencies and other foreign assets to see them through.
In the political arena, the collapse of the Soviet Union presented Washington with the grand opportunity to reallocate the Pentagon budget to other uses. Part of the reduction could have been returned to taxpayers for their own use. Another part could have been used to improve worn out infrastructure.  And another part could have been used to repair and improve the social safety net, thus insuring domestic tranquility.  A final, but perhaps most important part, could have been used to begin repaying the Treasury IOUs in the Social Security Trust Fund from which Washington has borrowed and spent $2 trillion, leaving non-marketable IOUs in the place of the Social Security payroll tax revenues that Washington raided in order to fund its wars and current operations.
Instead, influenced by neoconservative warmongers who advocated America using its “sole superpower” status to establish hegemony over the world, Washington let hubris and arrogance run away with it.  The consequence was that Washington destroyed its soft power with lies and war crimes, only to find that its military power was insufficient to support its occupation of Iraq, its conquest of Afghanistan, and its financial imperialism.
Now seen universally as a lawless warmonger and a nuisance, Washington’s  soft power has been squandered. With its influence on the wane, Washington has become more of a bully.  In response, the rest of the world is isolating Washington.
The prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, recently declared China and Russia to be India’s “most important partners” with whom India shares “common strategic interests.” Prime Minister Singh said: “ India and Russia have always had a convergence of views on global and regional issues, and we value Russia’s perspective on international developments of mutual interest.”
India joined China in expressing concerns about the Federal Reserve’s practice of printing money in order to cover Washington’s vast red ink.  The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) are taking steps to create their own method of settling trade accounts in order to protect themselves from the looming dollar implosion,
China has forcefully called for a “de-Americanized world.” After watching the “superpower” offshore a large part of its GDP to China and then add to the diminished tax base the burden of $6 trillion in wars that brought no booty and served no US interest, China has concluded that American power is spent.  The London Telegraph thinks “it is only a matter of time before the renminbi replaces the dollar as the primary currency for trading commodities and resources.”
The Obama regime attempted to attack Syria based on the sort of lies that the Bush regime used to invade Iraq, only to be slapped down by the British Parliament and Russian government. This rebuke was followed by the childishness of the government shutdown and threat of default. Consequently, the Washington morons have lost their monopoly on economic and political leadership. A few days ago the British government announced a historic agreement that permits British investors direct access to China’s markets and allows Chinese banks to expand their operations in Great Britain. 
In Australia, the US dollar will no longer be used as the currency in which to settle the Australian trade accounts with China.  Instead of dollars, trade will be settled in the
Chinese currency.
Washington served as cheerleader, as did most economists and libertarians, while US corporations, greedy for short-term profits and executive bonuses, offshored US industry and manufacturing, calling it free trade. The obvious and predicted result is that China’s demand for resources needed to fuel its industrial and manufacturing power now dominates markets. This means that the US dollar is being displaced as world currency.  The only market that America dominates is the market for financial fraud.
When industrial, manufacturing, and tradeable professional service jobs are offshored, they take US GDP and tax base with them. The foreign country gets the benefit of the relocated economic activity. Due to the revenues lost from jobs offshoring, there is a large gap between federal revenues and federal expenditures. As Washington’s irresponsible behavior has raised so many doubts about the dollar’s value and the government’s commitment to stand behind its massive debt, foreign countries with trade surpluses with the US are less and less willing to recycle those surpluses into the purchase of US Treasury debt. 
Today the two largest holders of US Treasury debt are not investors or even foreign central banks. The two largest holders are the Federal Reserve and the Social Security Trust Fund.
As for those $6 trillion wars, that’s to pay for national defense to protect us from women, children, and village elders in far away countries devoid of air forces and navies, and to provide those recycled taxpayer monies from the military/security complex that find their way into political contributions.
The Wall Street gangsters sighed for relief over the last minute debt ceiling agreement.
This shows how short-term Wall Street’s outlook is. All the October agreement did was to push off the crisis to January and February. The “debt ceiling agreement” did not produce a new debt ceiling that would last beyond February, and it did not resolve the large difference between federal revenues and expenditures.  In other words, the can was again kicked down the road. A repeat of the October fiasco won’t play well.
Obamacare is causing the premiums on private insurance polices to rise substantially, almost doubling in some situations unless people move to the uncertain exchanges, and Obamacare’s raid on Medicare payroll tax revenues has resulted in a cut in Medicare payments to health care providers. The result is a further reduction in consumer discretionary income and a further drop in the economy.
This in turn means a larger federal budget deficit and the need for the Federal Reserve to purchase more debt.
Another reason the Federal Reserve is faced with increasing, not tapering, quantitative easing (money printing) is the decline in foreign purchases of US Treasury bills, notes, and bonds.  As the instruments pay interest that is less than the rate of inflation, holding Treasury debt makes no sense when the dollar’s value and the potential of default are open questions.
According to reports, not only are foreign governments, such as China, ceasing to buy US Treasury debt, China has started to sell off its holdings, substituting gold in the place of US Treasury debt.
This means that the bonds must be purchased by the Fed or interest rates will rise as
the increased supply of bonds on the market drives down bond prices.  The only way the Fed can purchase a larger supply of bonds is by printing more money, that is, by more quantitative easing.
With the world moving away from using the dollar to settle international accounts, as the Fed prints more dollars the rate at which foreign holders of dollar assets sell off their holdings will rise.
To get out of dollars requires that the dollar proceeds from selling Treasuries, US stocks and US real estate be sold in the currency markets.  The selling of dollars drives down the exchange value of the US dollar and results in rising US inflation. The Fed can print money with which to purchase Treasury debt, but it cannot print foreign currencies with which to purchase dollars.
The decline in the dollar’s exchange value and the domestic inflation that results will force the Fed to stop printing.  What then covers the gap between revenues and expenditures? The likely answer is private pensions and any other asset that Washington can get its hands on.
Initially, private pensions will be taxed at a rate to recover the tax-free accumulation in the pensions. The second year a national emergency will be used to confiscate some share of pensions.  Those relying on the pensions will find themselves with less income. Consumer spending will decline. The economy will worsen. The deficit will widen.
You can see where this is going, and there seems to be no way out.  Policymakers, economists, and corporation executives are in denial about the adverse effects of offshoring, which they still, despite all the evidence, maintain is good for the economy.  So nothing will be done about offshoring. Republicans will blame the budget deficit on welfare and entitlements, and if those are cut consumer spending will decline further, widening the budget deficit. Inflation will rise as incomes fall, and social cohesion will break down.
Now you know why Homeland Security purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, enough ammunition to fight the Iraq war for 12 years, has its own para-military force and 2,700 tanks.  If you think the “terrorist threat” in America warrants a domestic armed force of this size, you are out of your mind. This force has been assembled to deal with starving and homeless people in the streets of America.

 September employment report:  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), September brought 148,000 new jobs, enough to keep up with population growth but not reduce the unemployment rate.  Moreover, John Williams (shadowstats.com) says that one-third of these jobs, or 50,000 per month on average, are phantom jobs produced by the birth-death model that during difficult economic times overestimates the number of new jobs from business startups and underestimates job losses from business failures.

The BLS reports that 22,000 of September’s jobs were new hires by state governments, which seems odd in view of the ongoing state budgetary difficulties.
In the private sector, wholesale and retail trade produced 36,900 new jobs, which seems odd in light of the absence of growth in real median family income and real retail sales.
Transportation and warehousing produced 23,400 new jobs, concentrated in transit and ground passenger transportation.  This also seems odd unless the price of gasoline and pinched budgets are forcing people onto public transportation.
Professional and business services accounted for 32,000 jobs of which 63% are  temporary help jobs.
So here you have the job picture that the presstitutes, hyping “the jobs gain,” don’t tell you.  The scary part of the September job report is that the usual standby, the category of waitresses and bartenders, which has accounted for a large part of every reported jobs gain since I began reporting the monthly statistics, shows job loss. Seven thousand one hundred waitresses and bartenders lost their jobs in September.  If this figure is not a fluke, it is bad news.  It signals that fewer Americans can afford to eat and drink out.
The unemployment rate that is reported is the rate that does not count as unemployed discouraged workers who are unable to find jobs and cease to look. This favored rate,
the darling of the regime in power, the presstitutes, and Wall Street, also is not adjusted for the category of “involuntary part-time workers,” those whose hours have been cut back or because they are unable to find a full-time job.  Obamacare, as is widely reported, is causing employers to shift their work forces from full time to part time in order to avoid costs associated with Obamacare. The BLS places the number of involuntary part-time workers at 7,900,000.  
The announced 7.2% unemployment rate is a meaningless number.  The rate can decline for no other reason than people unable to find jobs drop out of the work force. You are not counted in the work force if you are discouraged about finding a job and no longer look for a job.
The phenomena of discouraged workers shows up in the measure of the labor force participation rate, which has declined in the 21st century.  The opportunities for American labor are so restricted that a rising percentage of the working age population have given up looking for jobs.
Yet, the Obama regime, the Wall Street gangsters, and the pressitute media tell us how much better the economic situation is becoming as more small businesses close, as memberships decline in golf clubs, as more university graduates return home to live with their parents, who are drawing down their savings to live, as Fed Chairman Bernanke has made it impossible for them to live on interest payments on their savings.
According to the US census bureau, real median household income in 2012 was $51,017, down 9% from $56,080 in 1999, 13 years ago. In contrast, annual compensation in 2012 for US CEOs broke all records.  Two CEOs were paid more than $1 billion, and the worst paid among the top ten took home $100 million. When the presstitutes speak of economic recovery, they mean recovery for the one percent.
America is in the toilet, and the rest of the world knows it.  But the neocons who rule in Washington and their Israeli ally are determined that Washington start yet more wars to create lebensraum for Israel.
Early in the 21st century the liberal Democrat Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, and I coauthored an article in the New York Times about the adverse effects on the US economy of jobs offshoring. The article caused a sensation.  The Brookings Institution in Washington quickly convened a conference which was covered by C-SPAN.  C-SPAN rebroadcast the conference several times. During the conference I said that if jobs offshoring continued, the US would be a third world economy in 20 years.  
Wall Street quickly shut up Senator Schumer, but I am sticking by my forecast.  Indeed, I think we are already there.

 

China, Gold Prices and US Default Threats

October 23rd, 2013 by F. William Engdahl

24 karat gold bars are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

In the very days when a deep split in the US Congress threatened a US government debt default, the gold price should normally jump through the roof, yet the opposite was the case. It is worth a closer look why.

Since August 1971, when US President Richard Nixon unilaterally tore up the Bretton Woods Treaty of 1944 and told the world that the Federal Reserve ‘gold window’ was permanently closed, Wall Street banks and US and City of London financial powers have done everything imaginable to prevent gold from again becoming the basis of trust in a currency.

On Friday, October 11, when there was no sign of any deal between US Congress members and the Obama White House that would end the government shutdown, the Chicago CME Group, which operates Comex – the Chicago Commodity Exchange, where contracts in gold derivatives are traded – announced that at 8:42am Eastern time the trading was halted for 10 seconds after a safety mechanism was triggered because a 2-million-ounce (56.7 million grams) gold futures sell order was executed.

Something rotten in gold market 

The result of that huge paper gold sale was that at just the time when a possible US government debt default would send investors in a panic rush to the safety of buying gold, instead, the price plunged $30 an ounce to a three-month low of $1,259.60 an ounce. Market insiders believe the reason was direct market manipulation.

David Govett, head of precious metals at bullion broker Marex Spectron, calls the sudden huge futures sale suspicious.

“These moves are becoming more and more prevalent and to my mind have to either be the work of someone attempting to manipulate the market or someone who really shouldn’t be trusted with the sums of money they are throwing around. There are ways of entering and exiting a market so that minimum damage is caused and whoever is entering these orders has no intention of doing that,” Govett said.

UBS gold trader Art Cashin echoed the suspicion.

“…if that happens once it could be an accident of technology, or it could be a simple error. But when it happens five times over a period of months, it does raise questions. Is it being done purposefully? Is somebody trying to influence the market?” 

That ‘someone’ market sources believe is the Obama White House, in league with the Federal Reserve and key Wall Street banks that would be ruined were gold to really rise.

In March 1988, five months after the worst one-day stock market plunge in history, President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12631. Order 12631 created the Working Group on Financial Markets, known on Wall Street as the ‘Plunge Protection Team’ because its job was to prevent any future unexpected financial market panic selloff or ‘plunge’.

The group is headed by the US Treasury Secretary and includes the chairman of the Federal Reserve, the head of the Securities & Exchange Commission, and the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) which is responsible for monitoring derivatives trading on exchanges.

Numerous times since 1988, reports have surfaced of secret interventions by the Plunge Protection Team to prevent a market panic selloff that could threaten the role of the US dollar. Former Clinton White House staff chief George Stephanopoulos admitted in 2006 that it was used to support the markets in the 1998 Russia/LTCM crisis under Bill Clinton, and again after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

One ounce 24 karat gold proof blanks are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)One ounce 24 karat gold proof blanks are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

He said“They have an informal agreement among major banks to come in and start to buy stock if there appears to be a problem.”

Clearly stocks are not the only thing the government manipulates. Gold these days is a prime focus. The price of gold in recent years—since the eruption of the US dot.com IT stock bubble in 2000—has exploded from around $300 an ounce to a recent record high above $1,900 in August, 2011. Gold rose an impressive 70 percent from December 2008 to June 2011, after the Lehman Brothers collapse and the start of the Greek crisis in the eurozone.

Since then, with no clear reason, gold has reversed and lost more than 31 percent, despite the fact that talk of a unilateral Israeli military strike on Iran and the US financial debacle combined with a euro crisis, and now, threat of US government default, created overall huge demand for investment in gold.

This past April 10, the heads of the five largest US banks, the Wall Street ‘Gods of Money’ — JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup — requested a closed door meeting with Obama at the White House. Fifteen days later, on April 25, the largest one-day fall in history in gold took place. Later investigation of trading records at Comex revealed that one bank, JP Morgan Securities, was behind the huge selloff of gold derivatives. Derivatives are pieces of paper or bets on future gold or other commodity prices. To buy gold futures is very inexpensive compared with gold but influence the real physical gold price, largely because the US Congress, under lobby influence from Wall Street, since 2000 and the Commodity Trading Modernization Act, has left gold derivatives unregulated. The President’s Plunge Protection Team was at work now as well, clearly.

China smiles & buys

In effect a war, a financial war, is underway between the Wall Street giant banks and their close allies, including the major City of London banks and banks like Deutsche Bank on the one side, using paper gold derivatives trading in the unregulated COMEX, with covert support of the US Treasury and Fed. On the other side are real investors and Central Banks who believe that the world financial system, especially the dollar system, is teetering on the brink of disaster and that physical gold is the historical best safe haven in such a crisis.

Here, the recent buying of gold reserves by several central banks including Russia, Turkey and especially China, are notable. The short-term derivative gold price manipulations by JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are creating smiles at the Peoples’ Bank of China and the Russian Central Bank among other buyers of physical gold. Since 2006 Russia’s central bank has increased its gold reserves by 300 percent.

Now, the Chinese central bank has just revealed data showing that China imported 131 gross tons of gold in the month of August, a 146 percent increase compared to a year prior. August was the second highest gold importing month in its history. More impressively, China has imported more than 2,000 tons of gold in the past two years. According to a 2011 cable made public by WikiLeaks, the Peoples’ Bank of China is quietly seeking to make the renminbi (the yuan) the new gold-backed reserve currency.

Hmmmm.

According to unofficial calculations, the Peoples’ Bank of China today holds about 3,500 tons of monetary gold, surpassing Germany, to make it number two in the world after the Federal Reserve.

24 karat gold bars are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)24 karat gold bars are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

And there are grave doubts whether the Federal Reserve actually holds the 8,044 tons of gold it claims it does. The former International Monetary Fund director, France’s Dominique Straus-Kahn, demanded an independent audit of the Federal Reserve gold after the US refused to deliver to the IMF 191 tons of gold agreed to under the IMF Articles of Agreement signed by the Executive Board in April 1978 to back Special Drawing Rights issuance. Immediately before he could rush back to Paris, he was hit by a bizarre hotel sex scandal and abruptly forced to resign. Straus-Kahn had been shown a secret Russian intelligence report prepared for President Vladimir Putin in which ‘rogue’ CIA agents revealed that the US Federal Reserve had no gold reserves and only lied that it did.

The stakes for Washington and Wall Street in depressing the gold price are staggering. Were gold to soar to $10,000 or more, where many believe current demand-supply pressures would find it, there would be a panic selloff of the dollar and of US Treasury bonds. China now holds a record $3.7 trillion of foreign currency reserves and the US Treasury bonds and bills are about half that.

That selloff would send US interest rates sky-high, forcing a chain-reaction of corporate and personal bankruptcies that have been avoided since the financial crisis broke in 2007 only owing to record near-zero Federal Reserve interest rates. That selloff, in turn, would be the end of the US as the world’s sole superpower. Little wonder the Obama Administration is manipulating gold. It cannot last very long at this pace, however.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

As a High Court hearing on UK involvement in torture and rendition enters its third day, documents released detail the ordeal faced by the pregnant wife of a Gaddafi opponent during her 2004 ‘rendition.’

Fatima Boudchar and her husband Abdul-Hakim Belhadj are bringing a claim against the Government, MI6 and then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over their role in the kidnap and forcible transfer of the couple to Gaddafi’s prisons – in what has been described as the secret counterpart to Tony Blair’s ‘Deal in the Desert’ with the Libyan dictator.

Court documents released today, prepared by the couple’s legal team and human rights charity Reprieve, describe how Ms Boudchar – who was heavily pregnant at the time – was blindfolded, taken to a cell and “chained to the wall by one hand and one leg,” before being “taped to a stretcher tightly making her fear for her baby” and forced on board a CIA jet.

“Upon arrival in Tripoli,” they go on to say, “the First Claimant [Mr Belhadj] was beaten again. The Second Claimant [Ms Boudchar] could no longer feel her baby move in her womb and was concerned that he had died. Both Claimants were taken to Tajoura prison, a detention facility operated by the Libyan intelligence services.”

The documents detail MI6’s part in the operation, noting that “On 18 March 2004, the Second Defendant sent a letter to Moussa Koussa, the head of the Libyan External Security Organisation, warmly congratulating him on the successful capture, kidnap and abduction of the First Claimant.”

MI6’s part in the operation is highlighted in a now-infamous fax from Sir Mark Allen (who is also a defendant in the case along with Jack Straw), which states that: “Amusingly, we got a request from the Americans to channel requests for information from [the First Claimant] through the Americans. I have no intention of doing any such thing. The intelligence about [the First Claimant] was British. I know I did not pay for the air cargo. But I feel I have the right to deal with you direct on this and am very grateful to you for the help you are giving us”

The court documents, which set out the argument being made in today’s hearing by the couple’s lawyers, also point out that the Government’s attempt to get the case thrown out is “incompatible with the rule of law and has grave constitutional implications,” adding that, “If the Defendants are correct, it will leave anyone who is a victim of torture without any remedy if another state was involved in some way in the conduct.”

They also point out that the Government’s case contradicts claims ministers made when seeking to introduce new secret courts earlier this year under the Justice and Security Act: “The Defendants’ position is also incompatible with the Government’s recent programme of legislative reform. The Justice and Security Act 2013 included provisions for closed material procedures to deal with what was said to be the problem of claims such as the instant one. This was predicated on the basis that such claims would proceed. The Defendants now ask the Court to do what they did not seek to do in Parliament.”

Commenting, Reprieve’s Strategic Director, Cori Crider said: “Britain’s collusion in the kidnap and abuse of a pregnant woman shows just how far we strayed from our principles in the so called ‘War on Terror.’  It is now clear that the renditions of Abdul-Hakim Belhadj and Fatima Boudchar were the dark underside to Tony Blair’s deal in the desert, yet neither he, then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw nor the current Government are prepared to give our clients the apology they deserve. Instead they are running a specious and immoral argument that British Courts cannot judge British officials when they are said to have conspired with foreign torturers. Moussa Koussa was MI6′s co-conspirator, not a get out of jail free card.”


Annex

Claim No. HQ12X02603
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
MR JUSTICE SIMON
BETWEEN:

ABDUL-HAKIM BELHAJ
FATIMA BOUDCHAR

Claimants

RT HON JACK STRAW MP
SIR MARK ALLEN CMG
THE SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE
THE SECURITY SERVICE
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
THE FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE
THE HOME OFFICE

Defendants

See Complete Court Transcript at Reprieve’s website

 Ms Boudchar’s treatment is detailed from paragraph 2.2.12 onwards of the skeleton argument. 

For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 / [email protected]

Captain Phillips is a movie about the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama commercial container ship by Somali pirates. Pirates, one of Americans’ most beloved figures—consider the popularity of the recent Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy—are loathsome savages in this film. They kill their own, abandon their own, don’t aid their own when they are injured, and are portrayed as generally lacking in even the most rudimentary forms of human compassion. By contrast, Tom Hanks, who plays the eponymous Captain Phillips, urges the Somali pirates to treat their wounded; expresses paternal concern for his captors—“What are you, sixteen, seventeen? You’re too young to be out here doing this”; conveys indignation over the pirates’ conduct—“Is this how you do business? By shooting people?”; and repeatedly tells the hijackers that they could leave, right now, with $30,000, no questions asked—evoking a smarmy game show host (I kept picturing Regis Philbin).

I suppose the idea is that the pirates weren’t acting out of desperation, but greed. Apparently, casting wasn’t on the same page, since the actors portraying the pirates are cadaverously thin. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if, in our merciless age of austerity, starvation wasn’t regarded as justification for theft. Perhaps if the pirates had raided pensions instead of corporate freighters the film would’ve treated them more charitably.

Phillips, who by the end of the film is shown arms tied to the wall, producing a cruciform image, falls short of his role as Christ figure. The ship’s chief engineer told CNN, “it was the captain’s recklessness that steered them into pirate-infested waters.” Crew members said that Phillips pursued this dangerous route in order to save money. Now the crew is suing the shipping corporation for putting them in harm’s way, with Phillips playing a nasty role in the lawsuit. To quote a Businessweek headline on the topic, “Hero of Captain Phillips Movie Portrayed as Villain in Lawsuit”.

Though the extent to which Phillips falls short of the movie’s exaltation is somewhat surprising, the film’s depiction of Somalis is not. Somalis have served as convenient villains for Hollywood in the past. Blackhawk Down portrayed Somalis as ruthless and bloodthirsty, while making sure to depict Americans as honoring every life. Unfortunately, the facts don’t support this narrative. In the real Blackhawk Down incident, 1,000 Somalis were killed as US rangers dropped into a crowded marketplace. The film was so distorted in its depiction of Somalis that the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in California called for a boycott of the movie, saying it “portrays Somalis as violent savages”.

Captain Phillips is keen to mention that the Maersk Alabama was carrying some humanitarian aid, but neglects to mention the US’ extensive crimes in the region. For example, the US supported the brutal dictator of Somalia, Siad Barre, until his loss of power in 1991. The US’ “humanitarian” mission, “Operation Restore Hope”, killed 7,000–10,000 Somalis and resulted in a civil war, famine, and political chaos.

In 2001 the US closed al Barakaat, a money transfer company, claiming that it was being used to funnel money to al Qaeda. The organization had no connection to al Qaeda, and thousands of poverty-stricken Somalis depended on the money transferred through al Barakaat from family abroad. Somalia specialist Michel Del Buono stated that the decision to close al Barakaat was “equivalent to killing civilians”.

In 2006 it came out that the US had been financing warlords in Somalia. These warlords created death squads that terrorized the country by killing or capturing anyone who supported Islamic movements. Some of those captured by the death squads were turned over to the US for money, where they weretortured.

In response to the terrorism of the US-backed warlords, religious factions began to unite to fight off the warlords. The factions united under the name, The Union of Islamic Courts. The UIC ushered in a justice system as well as stability, which allowed the unrestricted delivery of aid to malnourished Somalis. By 2006 the UIC had united almost all of Somalia. The top UN official on Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, stated that the time of the UIC rule was the “golden era” and the only break from the steady stream of misery for Somalis. The UIC was the first semblance of a stable central government in 15 years.

A leaked diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks revealed that the US wouldn’t tolerate the UIC gaining control of Somalia. The Bush administration likely believed the UIC would be too independent from US influence and mistakenly saw the UIC as sheltering radical Islamists.

In 2006 the US backed Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia. It was a characteristic US proxy war with US troops on the ground, US intelligence informing strategy, and US air power providing support. The invasion turned into a brutal 2-year occupation, displacing hundreds of thousands and killing 16,000 civilians.

Rob Wise at the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the Ethiopian occupation transformed al Shabaab from a very weak force in Somalia to “the most powerful and radical faction in the country”.

Perhaps most repulsive element of Captain Phillips is its failure to give any explanation for why there are pirates operating off the coast of Somalia. There is no mention of the US role in making Somalia a failed state unable to have a coast guard. The result is that the fishing waters have become ruined by foreigner’s over-fishing and European, Asian, and Gulf companies dumping toxic and nuclear waste into Somali costal waters. The unguarded waters are free trashcans for companies, which would have to pay expensive fees to dispose of their waste elsewhere. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia, said, “There is uranium radioactive waste, there is lead, there are heavy metals like cadmium, and mercury, there is industrial waste, hospital, and chemical wastes.” He continued, “Radioactive waste is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean.”

After 20 years of continual famine, civil war, and the destruction of the ocean, fishermen were left with few options, so they began to engage in piracy.

In 2007 the UN noted that Somalia had higher malnutrition rates, more bloodshed, and fewer aid workers than Darfur. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah described Somalia’s plight as “the worst on the continent”.

The West has been complicit in the destruction of Somalia for 20 years, but physical destruction of Somalia isn’t enough. Hollywood must destroy the character of the Somali people. There may be no act of propaganda more depraved than portraying the victims of your savage aggression as the aggressors.

Paul Gottinger edits the left issues website whiterosereader.org. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @PaulGottinger Ken Klippenstein co-edits whiterosereader.org. He can be reached at[email protected] or on Twitter @KenKlippenstein Read other articles by Paul Gottinger and Ken Klippenstein.

Groups campaigning against Obamacare are funded by multibillionaires Charles and David Koch.

Days before Obama and Congress struck the last-minute budget deal on October 16, the Koch brothers, seeing that their plan had gone wrong, “jumped off the train” and wrote an open letter to Congress, distancing themselves from accusations of a shutdown blackmail conspiracy.

The Voice of Russia spoke with Professor Michel Chossudovsky, founder of the Centre for Research on Globalisation, think tank. Mr. Chossudovsky, has written two detailed articles on the subject.

Is it possible that just two people abide rich and powerful could dictate US politics?

No, I think that we are dealing with a very complex process. There are people like the Koch brothers who may be exerting influence in the corridors of the US Congress but essentially when we talk about the shutdown and the “debt ceiling” we have to look at the structural, historical causes.

We are dealing with fiscal collapse and what is at stake is the future of the Federal Government itself.

This Federal Government is now hit by a debt crisis which is unprecedented. The debt is gone up 70% since the 2008 financial meltdown and at the same time they are implementing what I would describe as “shock and awe economics” which essentially consists in cutting virtually everything, all the entitlement programs of the US administration.

We are essentially experiencing in the US the types of policies applied in several European countries in the last couple of years: very destructive from the social point of view. This is a policy of impoverishing people. Food stamps, social security and of course, Medicare and Medicaid are the programs which are affected. Meanwhile, of course,  Defense and the financing of the war economy remains with a very large military budget.

If the Koch Brothers did indeed pay the Republicans to vote against Obamacare, what could have been their bigger agenda? I’m thinking that obviously the damage that you have just mentioned to not only the reputation of the US, but to the economy, did that not, you know, make a difference to the Koch Brothers, if they were indeed involved in that whole scheme?

I know that this issue has made the headlines and I, as an economist, am very skeptical, because, first of all, the Republicans and the Democrats share the same economic policy agenda. They are both committed to massive austerity measures, irrespective of who is pulling the strings. Why? Because both parties are in fact controlled by the same lobby groups. When we think of lobby groups we are not thinking strictly of one or other rich families like the Koch Brothers. We are talking about Wall Street, we are talking about JP Morgan Chase, we are talking about the Federal Reserve Bank which is a private institution which holds a large portion of the US public debt. And essentially what is now being implemented is a scenario of massive privatization of the federal State system.

We have already had that process occurring at the municipal level where more than a hundred cities across America are technically bankrupt. What happens? Private corporations take over public lands, institutions, state assets. They confiscate essentially what belongs to the public.

Now the question that we have to ask ourselves: Is that type of scenario [of privatization], a possibility in the case of the Federal Government of the United States? I say yes it is. It may not be done exactly in the same way [as in the case of the municipalities] but eventually what we are dealing with is the privatization of the State. And that is not something which is necessarily new, we have seen that happen in developing countries where the IMF comes in and imposes sweeping reforms and then orders the government to privatize state assets in favor to private corporations.

So in a fact, we are experiencing that in the US today. The aftermath of this crisis and the shutdown creates an atmosphere of economic uncertainty: people are loosing their standard of living, there is mass unemployment which is the direct result of macroeconomic reform. And as I mentioned this is “shock and awe”, it’s a process of financial warfare directed against American people.

Right, if this war is to continue to the extreme, what is the result, what the implications would be and could this all be, if we talk about the crisis caused by the same people essentially? And the credit bubble they build could this all have been a part of a much larger plan?

Well, you know, this is not something which is engineered by the individuals. It is engineered by interest groups, by lobby groups, by powerful financial institutions. Now let us look at the scenarios from 2013 onward. If we look at the figures published by the Congress Budget Office (CBO) which is a key body within the US legislature, what they are in fact predicting is a massive curtailment of the budget deficit. from something of the order of 7% down to 2% of GDP in a matter of three fiscal years. Now that in practice represents major cuts in the entitlement programs. So in fact this budgetary shift is a form of economic shock therapy.

Angela Davis

In Canada it is illegal to restrict the sale of property to certain ethnic or religious groups but many of our business people and politicians promote an organization that does exactly that in Israel.

Into the 1950s restrictive land covenants in many exclusive neighbourhoods and communities across Canada made it impossible for Jews, Blacks, Chinese, Aboriginals and others deemed to be non-’white’ to buy property. It was not until after World War II that these policies began to be successfully challenged in court.

In 1948 Annie Noble decided to sell a cottage in the exclusive Beach O’ Pines subdivision on Lake Huron to Bernie Wolf, who was Jewish. During the sale Wolf’s lawyer realized that the original deed for the property contained the following clause: “The lands and premises herein described shall never be sold, assigned, transferred, leased, rented or in any manner whatsoever alienated to, and shall never be occupied or used in any manner whatsoever by any person of the Jewish, Negro or coloured race or blood, it being the intention and purpose of the Grantor, to restrict the ownership, use, occupation and enjoyment of the said recreational development, including the lands and premises herein described, to persons of the white or Caucasian race.”

Noble and Wolf tried to get the court to declare the restriction invalid but they were opposed by the Beach O’ Pines Protective Association. Both a Toronto court and the Ontario Court of Appeal refused to invalidate the racist covenant. But, Noble pursued the case – with assistance from the Canadian Jewish Congress – to the Supreme Court of Canada. In a 6-to-1 decision the highest court reversed the lower courts’ ruling and allowed Noble to purchase the property.

The publicity surrounding the case prompted Ontario to pass a law voiding racist land covenants and in 2009 the Conservative government defined the Noble and Wolf v. Alley Supreme Court case “an event of national historic significance” in the battle “for human rights and against discrimination on racial and religious grounds in Canada.”

Six decades after the Supreme Court delivered this blow to racist property covenants, a Canadian charity that discriminates in land use continues to receive significant public support. Ottawa provides financial and political support to the Jewish National Fund, which owns 13 percent of Israel’s land and has significant influence over most of the rest. Established internationally in 1901 and nine years later in Canada, the JNF’s bylaws and lease documents contain a restrictive covenant stating its property will not be leased to non-Jews.

A 1998 United Nations Human Rights Council report found that the JNF systematically discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 percent of the country’s population. According to the UN report, JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination.” Similarly, after an Arab Israeli couple was blocked from leasing a house in the mid-1990s they took their case all the way to Israel’s High Court and in 2005 the court found that the JNF systematically excluded Palestinian citizens of Israel from leasing its property.

More recently, the US State Department’s 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices detailed “institutional and societal discrimination” in Israel. The report noted, “Approximately 93 percent of land was in the public domain, including approximately 12.5 percent owned by the NGO Jewish National Fund (JNF), whose statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews.”

For their part, JNF Canada officials are relatively open about the discriminatory character of the organization. In May 2002, JNF Canada’s executive director for eastern Canada, Mark Mendelson, explained: “We are trustees between world Jewry and the land of Israel.” JNF Canada’s head Frank A. Wilson echoed this statement in July 2009: “JNF are the caretakers of the Land of Israel on behalf of its owners, who are the Jewish people everywhere around the world.”

The JNF’s bylaws and operations clearly violate Canadian law. Yet JNF Canada, which raises about $7 million annually, is a registered charity in this country. As such, it can provide tax credits for donations, meaning that up to 40% of their budget effectively comes from public coffers.

On top of its charitable status, JNF Canada has received various other forms of official support. Alberta and Manitoba, for instance, have signed multimillion dollar accords with the JNF while Harper’s Conservatives are strong supporters of the organization. Over the past year ministers Jason Kenney and John Baird have spoken at JNF galas while Peter Kent toured southern Israel with officials from the organization. On December 1 Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to be honored at the JNF Negev Dinner in Toronto, which will be the first time a sitting Canadian prime minister has spoken to a JNF gala in the organization’s 100-year history.

Does Harper support the JNF’s racist land use policies?

Independent Jewish Voices has launched a campaign to revoke the JNF Canada’s charitable status for its racist land use policies and role in dispossessing Palestinians. On December 1 Harper will be greeted by protesters in Toronto while a protest is also planned for the JNF gala in Ottawa on October 29.

In 2011, Stop the JNF in England pushed Prime Minister, David Cameron, to withdraw his patron status from the JNF. Additionally, at least 68 members of the UK parliament have endorsed a call to revoke the organization’s charitable status because “the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews.”

Here in Canada it would be nice to see progressive politicians such as NDP MP Libby Davies or Green Party leader Elizabeth May circulate a similar call to their colleagues in the House of Commons. At least some federal politicians must oppose Canada subsidizing racist property restrictions.

Several new reports released in the past two weeks by the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), Gender Action, and Better Work Haiti examine working conditions in Haiti’s garment factories and find that most workers are not being paid the wages they are legally owed, even as they are subject to unsafe and unsanitary working conditions, sexual harassment, and other abusive treatment.

new report [PDF] released this week by the WRC, an organization that monitors working conditions in apparel factories producing products sold in the U.S. market, finds that most Haitian garment workers are subject to wage theft. The New York Times’ Randal Archibold and Steven Greenhouse reported this week that

[t]he report …focused on 5 of Haiti’s 24 garment factories and found that “the majority of Haitian garment workers are being denied nearly a third of the wages they are legally due as a result of the factories’ theft of their income.”

The group said that the factories deprive workers of higher wages they are entitled to under law by setting difficult-to-meet production quotas and neglecting to pay overtime.

The WRC report states:

Tacitly complicit in this theft of wages are the major North American apparel brands and retailers, like Gap, Gildan, Hanes, Kohl’s, Levi’s, Russell, Target, VF, and Walmart, that are buyers of garments from Haiti. Although most, if not all, of these firms are well-aware of this law-breaking, they continue with business as usual, profiting from the lower prices that they can obtain from factories that cheat their workers of legally owed wages.

As the Associated Press noted in their coverage of the WRC report:

Under a law that took effect in 2009, garment workers who meet production quotas earn 300 gourdes for an eight-hour day, or $6.81. Workers elsewhere earn 200 gourdes, or $4.54.

The report accuses employers of cheating workers in three ways: Production quotas are set so high that workers can’t meet the goals in a regular work day. Wages paid for overtime are based on an hourly rate below the minimum wage for production workers instead of at a premium rate above this wage as required by law. Some factory workers aren’t paid for work performed before and after their recorded working hours or during lunch breaks.

The report was released the same day that Better Work Haiti, “a partnership of the [International Labor Organization] and the International Finance Corporation” released its biannual review [PDF] of Haitian factories’ compliance with “core labour standards and national labour law in the factories that are eligible for tariff advantages under HOPE II” legislation with the United States. Better Work Haiti examined many more factories – 23 altogether – and also found that most were failing to meet their legal commitments to workers. Only 25 percent of workers were being paid 300 gourds for an eight-hour day, while “The average percentage of piece rate workers earning between 201 and 249 gourdes after eight hours of regular work is 43%, and 32% for those earning between 250 and 299 gourdes…”

This level of pay makes it very difficult for workers to get by. Gender Action noted ina report [PDF] released last week:

According to one study, Haitian women workers were spending half of their daily wages on transport to and from work and a mid-day meal, leaving little funds to provide for their families, including paying school fees for children (Haiti Grassroots Watch 2012b). Unwilling to respect even these very basic pay rates, it is doubtful that garment manufacturers will generate significant economic gains for their Haitian women employees.

WRC noted that “Workers report that as a result of their low wages, they cannot obtain needed medical attention for themselves or their children.”

Factories in the Caracol industrial park – a showcase project of post-quake reconstruction and “U.S. State Department and Clinton Foundation pet project” that has been highly controversial – are among those engaging in wage theft,according to the WRC:

The WRC’s research indicates that a similarly egregious level of wage theft is occurring at the country’s Caracol Industrial Park, a new factory complex on Haiti’s northern coast whose construction was heavily subsidized by the U.S. State Department and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).5 The Caracol complex is slated to eventually employ more than 20,000 workers.

At Caracol, the WRC found that “On average, workers were paid 34% less than the law requires…” Caracol’s anchor tenant, SAE-A, according to the WRC, “produces apparel for Walmart, as well as for other major U.S. retailers, such as Target, Old Navy and Kohl’s.”

In a separate report on the Caracol park, based on interviews with community residents and factory workers (and also released last week), Gender Action concludes that the

estimated 2,000 workers (as of July 2013) barely make ends meet, with unstable jobs in mediocre conditions, let alone invest in surrounding communities. Apparel assembly workers face tremendous pressure to produce more and more for minimal wages, with instances of verbal and, in one documented case, physical abuse. Donors predict that women would be empowered through [Caracol Industrial Park] PIC jobs; based on women workers’ testimony, PIC jobs are not empowering.

One Caracol worker told the New York Times:

“I am forced to live with debt,” said Rositha Guerrier, 27, who has worked at Sae-A for more than a year and said she was told she would be paid 350 Haitian gourdes a day, but makes 200. But like many workers she prefers to stay on the job because she has found few alternatives.

An underpaid female worker, Guerrier can be seen as a typical apparel factory worker. As Gender Action notes, “The garment factory workforce comprises mostly women (CIA 2012). In December 2012, just over 64 percent of garment workers in 24 factories registered by Better Work Haiti…were women (2013: 30).” Disturbingly,Gender Action notes that

Women workers have also expressed concerns about workplace sexual harassment (Better Work 2013: 16). Sexual harassment is often unreported for fear of retaliation, as well as power imbalance between victims and perpetrators. Women workers also have poor sanitation facilities.

Indeed, Better Work Haiti’s new review concluded that “A major issue is that 21 factories were found to not have the legally required number of accessible toilets, as reported in the previous reports.”

Better Work Haiti also found “a 91% non-compliance rate  for Worker Protection,” in part because “Fifteen factories did not have proper guards installed and maintained on all dangerous moving parts of machines and equipment,” and “Electrical wires, switches, plugs were not properly installed, grounded and maintained in six factories.” The Associated Press also noted that “The study …says many Haitian garment workers don’t have sufficient access to toilets, safe drinking water, emergency exits or medical care.”

Dangerous History of ‘Regime Change’

October 23rd, 2013 by Beverly Deepe Keever

South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

Official Washington justifies military and political interventions in other countries under the theory of “U.S. exceptionalism.” But these “regime changes” often have unexpected results, as with the bloody coup d’etat that removed South Vietnamese President Diem a half-century ago.

On Nov. 1, 1963, a half-century ago, the South Vietnamese government that the United States had backed for nearly a decade was toppled in a military coup d’etat, an act of regime change approved by President John F.  Kennedy.

The Saigon coup ended in the murders of President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, and – though Diem’s removal was intended to appease the country’s restless Buddhist majority upset with Diem’s favoritism toward his fellow Catholics – the operation proved disastrous for the U.S. and its allies in their fight against communist-led forces.

After the assassination of Diem – and the murder of President John F. Kennedy just 21 days later – U.S. military involvement escalated. President Lyndon Johnson dispatched the first combat units and American forces grew to a peak of 543,000 on March 31, 1969, before a gradual withdrawal and acceptance of defeat. Some 58,000 U.S. soldiers died in the war and political discord deeply divided the home front.

Yet, the details of the Diem killing remained something of a mystery for years, with President Kennedy reportedly shocked that the coup had resulted in the death of the Diem brothers. So, what exactly did President Kennedy authorize? Why did the coup end with two grisly murders? Who was at fault for the coup fiasco and the political chaos that followed?

Some of the mystery was cleared up by the leaking of the secretPentagon Papers in 1971. The internal U.S. government study revealed: “For the military coup d’etat against Ngo Dinh Diem, the U.S. must accept its full share of responsibility. Beginning in August of 1963 we variously authorized, sanctioned and encouraged the coup efforts of the Vietnamese generals and offered full support for a successor government.”

That disclosure led to questioning what right the U.S. had to unleash such a coup d’etat — a question that reverberates even more loudly today with the U.S.-backed or -botched “regime changes” in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. This question was one that Sen. J. William Fulbright said was being ignored — not even mentioned — in all the confidential cable traffic between U.S. officials that was later evaluated by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he headed.

In the preface to the committee’s 75-page staff report, Fulbright wrote: “What is omitted from the story of the Diem coup tells a great deal about the American policy process.  Absent is any questioning by U.S. officials of the U.S. Government’s right to reform the Vietnamese government or to replace it.”

Zeroing in on the U.S. government’s self-anointed “exceptionalism” that undergirds the interventionist impulse of many American leaders, Fulbright summed up, “The right to manipulate the destiny of others is simply assumed.”

Lack of Debate

U.S. complicity revealed in the Pentagon Papers was further lamented by Fulbright: “Perhaps the most important omission, and that which made the others possible, is the exclusion of Congress and the public from the policy-process. The facts of U.S. policy toward the Diem regime were limited to such a tight circle of U.S. officials that significant debate over the desirability of support for Diem, much less of an Indochina presence, was precluded.”

Just why President Kennedy sanctioned the coup was not explained in the Pentagon Papers or other official disclosures. A transcript of audio-recordings of Kennedy’s National Security Council meeting on Oct. 29 – just hours before the Saigon coup began – reveal that Diem’s overthrow was opposed by CIA Director John McCone and Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who warned that even a successful coup would help the communists.

Robert Kennedy, the President’s brother and Attorney General, interjected into the disjointed discussion, “I just don’t see that this makes any sense on the face of it.” He added, “We’re putting the whole future of the country and, really Southeast Asia, in the hands of somebody we don’t know very well.” If the coup fails, he summed up, “We risked a hell of a lot, with the war.”

I had been a public-opinion pollster during the 1960 election campaign that put JFK in the White House. Three years later, as a Newsweek reporter, I was racing through Saigon’s streets to the Presidential Palace as the last coup shots were fired.

I eventually concluded that Diem, who was a Catholic in a predominantly non-Catholic country, had become a political liability for America’s first Catholic president gearing up for re-election the next year. Whether the U.S. could or would have prevailed in South Vietnam with Diem as president is still debated, though – like all “alternative history” – unanswerable.

A long-time witness to world events and a prime contributor to America’s defeat in Vietnam was North Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguven Giap, who died on Oct. 4 at age 102. He masterminded the political-military “people’s war” strategy that defeated America in Vietnam and to which the U.S. has yet to devise an effective counter-strategy.

Instead of Huey helicopters and green-bereted Special Forces that JFK unsuccessfully relied on for victory against Giap and his dedicated guerrillas, the U.S. today employs drones and Seal Team 6s to try to take down Islamic “terrorists.”

Over the last dozen years, the U.S. military has attacked Afghanistan to oust the Taliban who were blamed for giving safe haven to al-Qaeda terrorists; invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein for purportedly hiding WMDs (though he wasn’t); and providing air assets to support the overthrow and murder of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

However, these “regime changes” have given rise to insurgencies and civil wars that the U.S. has been unable to counter successfully. The result: more bloodshed, anguish and uncertainty across a strategically important region and the loss of American ideals, prestige, credibility, lives and money.

Of course, the U.S. involvement in “regime change” did not begin in 1963 with the Diem coup. A decade before, the CIA engineered the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, who was perceived as undermining U.S. and British interests by nationalizing his nation’s oil wealth.

The 1953 coup installed the Shah of Iran, a U.S. puppet who ruled as a tyrant for 26 years until he was swept aside in 1979 by the Islamic revolution that has bedeviled U.S. interests for more than three decades. Although broad outlines of the Mossadegh coup have been known for years, only two months ago did a declassified document obtained through the Freedom of Information Act explicitly confirm the CIA’s orchestration.

Latin America, what some old hands in Official Washington still call “America’s Backyard,” has been the scene of many U.S.-engineered “regime changes” going back almost two centuries to the Monroe Doctrine and including the 1954 coup against Guatemala’s elected president Jacobo Arbenz and the 1973 coup against Chile’s elected president Salvador Allende. Typically such ousters are followed by years of bloodshed, repression and popular resentment toward the U.S.

Transcending this expanse of time and space was Giap’s prophetic observation of 1969 just as American forces in Vietnam were peaking in numbers: “The United States has a strategy based on arithmetic. They question the computers, add and subtract, extract square roots, and then go into action. But arithmetical strategy doesn’t work here. If it did, they’d already have exterminated us.”

What the American strategy failed to take into account, he warned, was the determination of the Vietnamese people to chart their own future. “They don’t reckon on the spirit of a people fighting for what they know is right,” Giap said.

It is a lesson that Official Washington has found difficult to learn.

Beverly Deepe Keever was a Saigon-based correspondent who covered the Vietnam War for a number of news organizations. She has published a memoir, Death Zones & Darling Spies.

Israel: Major International Cocaine Trafficking Hub

October 23rd, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

A June UN Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report named Israel for its “star role.” More on that below.

Israel is a serial lawbreaker. Its rap sheet already overflows. This revelation adds another reprehensible black mark.

The State Department‘s 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report says:

“Israel’s illicit drug trade is regionally focused, with Israel as more of a transit country than a stand-alone significant market.”

“The authorities continue to be concerned with illegal pharmaceutical sales, retail businesses which are suspected money-laundering enterprises, and corruption accusations against public officials.”

An earlier State Department report said “the Israeli drug market continued to be characterized by high demand in nearly all sectors of society and a high availability of drugs including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, hashish and LSD.”

Drug trafficking and money laundering go hand-in-hand. On July 11, Haaretz headlined “US: Israeli played lead role in international drug money laundering ring.”

Israeli/Colombian Isaac Perez Guberek was named. “Ten Panamanian companies, 11 Colombian companies and one based in Rosh Ha’ayin allegedly built (a) network that laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of drug money.”

A State Department statement said:

“Isaac Perez Guberek Ravinovicz, a Colombian national, and his son, Henry Guberek Grimberg, a dual Colombian and Israeli national, lead a money laundering network based in Bogota, Colombia that launders narcotics proceeds on behalf of numerous drug trafficking organizations, including organizations based in Colombia.”

They “primarily rely upon the use of ostensibly legitimate textile companies within Colombia to engage in trade-based money laundering.”

A US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida press release added:

“(D)efendants are charged with conspiracy to launder the illegal proceeds from the manufacture, importation, sale, and distribution of a controlled substance.”

“If convicted, (they) face a possible maximum statutory sentence of up to 20 years in prison.”

“Money launderers provide a critical service to narco-traffickers, helping them to wash, move, and hide their drug money.”

The US Treasury called father and son Guberek as well as “29 other individuals and entities. Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs).”

On June 26, 2012, Haaretz headlined “IDF soldiers suspected of drug trafficking along Israel’s border with Egypt.”

Twelve soldiers and career junior officers were named. They were “arrested for trafficking in drugs worth some NIS 800,000 (about $200,000).”

“The arrest sweep is one of the largest ever in the IDF.” Suspects are Gaza Division trackers. They’re deployed along Egypt’s border.

Their job is assuring no border breaches. According to IDF military police, “a sergeant first class and a conscript soldier were involved in smuggling heroine, cocaine, hashish and ecstasy.”

On June 21, they were arrested. Others were apprehended days earlier.

According to military police special investigations commander Lt. Col. Gil Mamon, an undercover agent bought drugs from one of the suspects.

Smuggling has been ongoing for months, he said. Three civilians were arrested on suspicion of involvement.

On October 19, Haaretz headlined “Israel becomes major hub in the international cocaine trade, abuse rising.”

Annual UN World Drug Reports discuss ongoing trends. Israel is a major abuser.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) implements UN drug treaties and conventions.

In 2012, it named Brazil and Israel among “countries that are major manufacturers, exporters, importers and users of narcotic drugs.”

Israeli cocaine trafficking is especially significant. Israel’s Anti-Drug Authority (ADA) said cocaine use in Israel doubled from 2005 to 2009.

ADA rehabilitation unit head Haim Mal believes increased use reflects lifestyle changes.

“Whereas people in the past looked for drugs that would soothe them and produce peace of mind, now they are looking for drugs that will enable them to be more alert,” he said.

“Cocaine is a social drug that can be found in nightclubs in Israel’s major cities and among a wide range of users, most of them in the liberal professions.”

Usage is “a social phenomenon that has emerged in Israel as in other countries around the world.”

Heroin damages people physically, he added. “Cocaine damages the soul.”

A young Israeli woman called “G” to maintain anonymity described her experience, saying:

“It was three in the morning and I had already had a number of drinks.”

“The washrooms were really crowded, but not always because of bursting bladders.”

“There was a disorderly lineup that was moving along very slowly. Sometimes the door opened and out would come two to four people, who had emerged from one of the stalls.”

“After about a quarter of an hour, or it might have been 20 minutes, it was my turn.”

“I went in with two friends. One of them took out a bag of coke and began to spread the stuff on a small surface.”

“He then used a credit card to arrange the coke in rows. I took out a 100-shekel note from my pocket, rolled it up and then each of us took turns snorting two rows.”

“At that moment, I still felt nothing. I went to the bar and ordered a vodka chaser. We all then went back to the dance floor. We danced up a storm and felt we could go on doing that forever.”

“Suddenly, you have this burst of energy. Everything was dark around me and I couldn’t give a damn about anyone. I was so full of self-confidence.”

According to the UN’s report, cocaine trafficking and consumption are increasing in developing Asian countries.

Israel was named among others. Cocaine arrived “fashionably late.” Amounts seized are similar to figures other countries report.

In Israel, 63 kilograms were seized in 2009. In 2010, it was 71. In 2011, it jumped to 264. In 2012, it dropped to 171. One pound = 0.454 kg.

Israeli authorities know these amounts are minuscule compared to what’s trafficked and consumed.

Cocaine, hashish and other illicit drugs are readily available. Supply meets demand.

Cocaine is called the drug of the rich. It’s not just about price. Traffickers call it “the drug that lifts you up, because it takes you to the best places imaginable but leaves you sharp and focused – king or queen of the world.”

Crack cocaine use isn’t widespread in Israel. At least not so far. Cocaine consumption began during Britain’s Mandate period.

In 1929, Tel Aviv police seized 800 grams. It was cheap compared to today. It cost about 300 Palestinian pounds.

In America, one gram of pure cocaine costs $100 or more. Price varies according to where sold. It’s much the same in Europe and elsewhere.

According to international law enforcement agencies, Peru became the world’s leading cocaine exporting nation in 2011. In 2012, it trafficked an estimated 538 tons.

Colombia ranks second. In 2012, it exported an estimated 345 tons. Bolivia was third with about 265 tons.

Revenues are huge. Black money attracts organized crime. According to Israeli police:

“There are Israeli crime organizations (involved) with the world’s major drug cartels.”

“Criminals are measured by their ability to traffic huge quantities of drugs and today there are several Israeli criminals who can traffic impressive quantities around the world.”

“Israeli drug criminals have a good reputation in the world because they meet several of the criteria in the field and because Israelis have global connections.”

Israeli criminal ex-pats “never touch the drugs they traffic. They merely serve as middlemen.”

“They open a ‘cashbox,’ namely, a shipping container holding several hundred kilograms of cocaine, and they know how to find investors to fund” it.

Recent police reports say a cashbox en route to Australia was opened. Israeli criminals were involved in the deal.

The police’s International and Serious Crimes Unit arrested members of an international trafficking network earlier.

Some were ex-pats. They worked for Israeli crime boss Yitzhak Abergil.

His illicit activities included drug trafficking, money laundering, murder, extortion, embezzlement, illegal gambling and other crimes.

He operated in Israel, America and elsewhere. He was extradited to America. A 32-count indictment called his crime family one of Israel’s most powerful. His operations continue without him.

In 2008, Israeli police broke up a major international drug trafficking ring. Huge amounts were sold. Other operations continue.

Israeli police conduct intelligence. They work with counterparts worldwide. According to an unnamed high-ranking official:

“Today we work with police forces all over the world on cases that involve not only Israel but also other countries.”

“The information flows constantly between the police forces of different countries.”

“Not only does the Israel Police have nothing to be ashamed of in connection with the war on cocaine trafficking; it has a lot to be proud of.”

Cocaine is hugely profitable. In South America, a kilo (about 2.2 pounds) costs from $3,000 to $5,000.

According to an unnamed Israel Tax Authority drug and money laundering enforcement unit official:

“(Y)ou will almost always find cocaine in the possession of” couriers aboard flights from European countries and Israel.

Superintendent Noam Deshati heads Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport police unit 747. Around 13 million passengers pass through the airport annually.

“You can bet your bottom dollar that we do not have the capacity for checking each and every one of them,” he said.

“Although we do not know whether there has been any increase in cocaine use, we do know that there has been an increase in the number of drug shipment seizures.”

Couriers are well paid. Some earn thousands of dollars. It return, they transit drugs. Doing so is high risk. Despite efforts to curb trafficking, it continues flourishing.

CIA involvement is longstanding. Peter Dale Scott’s books and articles provide invaluable information.

“Since at least 1950 there has been a global CIA-drug connection operating more or less continuously,” he said.

“The global drug connection is not just a lateral connection between CIA field operatives and their drug-trafficking contacts.”

“It is more significantly a global financial complex of hot money uniting prominent business, financial and government as well as underworld figures.”

Global money laundering runs up to around $1.5 trillion annually. Most of it’s from illicit drugs. Israel is tiny compared to America. It stands out as a major global cocaine trafficking hub.

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

Argentinian judge María Romilda Servini de Cubría has issued arrest warrants for four former Spanish fascists from the regime of dictator General Francisco Franco.

Spain’s ruling Popular Party (PP), which has its origins in Franco’s National Movement, and the opposition Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) have closed ranks to block the arrests.

They have cited the 1977 Amnesty Law, passed during the transition from fascism to bourgeois democracy following Franco’s death in 1975. Its aim was to prevent any reckoning and investigation into the crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and Franco’s rule afterwards (1939-1975). Since then, not a single fascist has been brought to justice for crimes including an estimated 300,000 political opponents murdered, 500,000 imprisoned and 500,000 forced into exile.

The case began in April 2010 after Argentinian resident Darío Rivas, son of an elected mayor of a Galician town in northwest Spain who was kidnapped and executed under Franco, made recourse to international law under which crimes against humanity have no limitations or jurisdictional boundaries. The trial now includes 120 individual plaintiffs and 62 human rights organisations.

Judge Servini wrote a 204-page report indicting four fascists, who were members of Franco’s political police, the Brigada Político Social, for crimes they committed.

Two of the accused, police commissioners Celso Galván Abascal and José Ignacio Giralte, died before the case began. The other two are police officers, Jesus Muñecas Aguilar, who also participated in the February 23, 1981, coup against the post-Franco state, and José Antonio González Pacheco, one of the most sadistic of Franco’s henchmen. He was known as “Billy the Kid” for his habit of spinning a gun around his finger while he beat his victims.

Direct evidence of Pacheco’s crimes has been given by Pérez Alegre, a former member of the Revolutionary Antifascist Patriotic Front (FRAP), who explained to El País, “They arrested me in October 1975. They took me to the DGS [Dirección General de Seguridad, the Francoist organ responsible for political repression], surrounded me and started beating me from all sides. There were five policemen. Billy the Kid hit me occasionally, but mostly he told the others what to do. They tied me to a radiator and hit me with truncheons on the back of my knees and in the kidneys…. When I had to go to the bathroom two people had to carry me there, since I couldn’t walk. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise my own body, which was deformed by the blows.”

Servini issued the arrest and extradition warrants for the four fascists to Interpol, declaring that under universal jurisdiction they could be charged under international law. She rejected attempts by the Spanish attorney general’s office to prevent the prosecution.

In their attempt to block the prosecution, the attorney general’s office, the PP government, and various judges and prosecutors have falsely claimed that there are “numerous judicial procedures open” in Spain that are investigating the Francoist crimes, and thus universal jurisdiction procedures are not valid. They also declared that Pacheco and Muñecas are immune from prosecution because they are protected by the 1977 Amnesty Law, which pardoned “possible crimes” committed by members of the security forces.

Nearly one month after Servini made her request to Interpol, which usually carries out such requests within hours, the two Francoist criminals remain free.

In a separate case, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (OHCHR) instructed Madrid to “take on its responsibility” and draw up “a national plan to search for the missing,” revoke the 1977 Amnesty Law and bring cases of forced disappearance before the courts.

The OHCHR also criticised the “resistance” of Spanish authorities to declassifying documents from the Franco era, for obstructing the families of victims who wanted to access information and the Historical Memory Law passed by the previous PSOE government, for being “limited”.

At the time of the law’s passing in 2006, the World Socialist Web Siteexplained its purpose was “to divert this striving for the truth into safe channels for the Spanish ruling class. Not only does it continue the decades-long cover-up of the crimes of fascism, but it enshrines in law the claim that all sides in the civil war were equally guilty…. And, despite declaring the fascist sentences and executions unjust, the bill makes no firm commitment to overturn them in Spanish law or bring those responsible to justice.”

This warning was borne out in 2012 when National Court judge Baltasar Garzón was brought before the courts on charges that he abused his judicial power by launching an investigation into Francoist crimes. Garzón had demanded the regime be held accountable for murder, ordered mass graves to be opened and compensation paid to Franco’s victims, and began investigations into the disappearance of abducted babies.

Last May, Servini obtained the testimony of Garzón, who declared that there was no legal channel in Spain to investigate the crimes of Francoism after the Supreme Court prevented him from doing so. Questioned as to whether the attorney general’s office was investigating as claimed, he stated, “radically, no.… This court is the final judicial stronghold which remains for the victims of Franco to be repaired.”

The fact that the heirs of Francoism, the PP, can block any investigation of the crimes committed is due to the historical betrayal of the working class by the Stalinist Communist Party (PCE) and the PSOE during the transition.

Nothing exposed this more than Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón’s defence in parliament of the law by quoting PCE leaders such as Santiago Carrillo and Dolores Ibárruri (“La Pasionaria”), whom he declared, “Voted and were staunch defenders of the Amnesty Law”.

Gallardón’s father-in-law José Utrera Molina is one of the nine former government officials under Franco’s regime being investigated by Servini.

The PSOE and the PCE-led United Left (IU) are perpetuating the fraud that the Spanish authorities will address Franco’s crimes, while attempting to present themselves as defenders of his victims. In parliament, they are again urging the PP administration to locate and open all of the mass graves. Despite the Historical Memory Law, only 400 have been opened from which the remains of nearly 6,000 people who were shot have been exhumed of the approximately 114,000 who remain unaccounted for.

The PSOE has made clear that it defends the Amnesty Law. Ramón Jáuregui, a former minister under the Zapatero administration (2004-2011), stated, “It was a necessary law and we don’t think it is a good idea to annul it.”

Questioned about the Argentinian probe, Jáuregi replied, “The Argentinian initiative is full of good intentions, but in Spain we decided long ago that we weren’t going to look into what we did before 1976.”

The IU’s former leader, Gaspar Llamazares, has stated that there is no need to eliminate the law: “It would be enough to modify it to make sure that it cannot be interpreted as offering impunity to those who committed crimes under Franco.”

The ruling class and its parties are once again closing ranks to prevent any reckoning with Francoism. Under conditions in which 26 percent of workers are unemployed and 3 million Spaniards are in severe poverty, the same conditions that led to the revolutionary conditions of the 1930s are being created. Any investigation would undermine and provoke resistance to a ruling elite that is imposing austerity measures and social counterrevolutionary policies.

A series of reports released over the past several days document the killing of thousands of people, including hundreds of non-combatant civilians, in US drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and other countries. The reports, issued by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Tuesday and the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions last Friday, expose as lies the claims of President Obama and administration officials that the drone strikes are “surgical” attacks that kill few civilians.

All three reports suggest that the United States is concealing the extent of the carnage caused by its program of extrajudicial executions and is in violation of international humanitarian law. The reports were timed to coincide with a United Nations General Assembly debate on drone attacks to take place this Friday.

Amnesty International devoted its report“Will I be Next?” US Drone Strikes in Pakistan, to the results of an on-the-spot investigation into nine of the 45 reported strikes that occurred in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal agency, which borders Afghanistan, between January 2012 and August 2013. The report’s executive summary begins:

In October 2012, 68-year-old Mamana Bibi was killed in front of her grandchildren while gathering vegetables in her family’s large, vacant fields. She was blasted into pieces by a drone strike that appears to have been aimed directly at her. A year has passed, but the US government has not acknowledged Mamana Bibi’s death, let alone provided justice or compensation for it …

The US appears to be exploiting the lawless and remote nature of the local region to evade accountability for violations of the right to life.

“The killing of Mamana Bibi appears to be a clear case of extrajudicial execution,” said Mustafa Qadri, the report’s author, in an interview. “It is extremely difficult to see how she could have been mistaken for a militant, let alone an imminent threat to the US.”

Exposing US claims to scrupulously avoid civilian casualties, Amnesty provided evidence of indiscriminate attacks that could not but kill and injure noncombatants. “Amnesty International documented many cases in which residents came to the scene of an initial drone strike only to be struck in follow-up strikes,” it wrote.

It cited as an example a double drone strike in July 2012 in the village of Zowi Sidgi, which killed 18 laborers, including a 14-year-old boy, and seriously injured 22 villagers, including an eight-year-old girl. The report states:

Missiles first struck a tent in which men had gathered for an evening meal, killing eight people. Villagers rushed to the tent to search for survivors. They carried stretchers, blankets and water. Then, a few minutes later, the drones fired another set of missiles. Witnesses described a macabre scene of body parts and blood, panic and terror, as US drones continued to hover overhead.

Amnesty quoted one resident as saying, “Some people lost their hands. Others had their heads cut off. Some lost their legs. Human body parts were scattered everywhere.”

The report cites NGO and Pakistan government sources who estimate that the US carried out 330 to 374 drone strikes in Pakistan between 2004 and September 2013. The sources say that between 400 and 900 civilians have been killed in the attacks and at least 600 people seriously injured. Pakistani officials have previously put the civilian death toll in the thousands.

Amnesty reports that as of the publication of its report, the US government had not responded to its “repeated requests for comment.”

The Human Rights Watch report“Between a Drone and Al Qaeda ”: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen, examines six of an estimated 80 targeted killings carried out in Yemen since 2006. It begins:

On the evening of August 29, 2012, five men gathered in a grove of date palms behind the local Mosque in Khashamir, a village in southeast Yemen. Moments later, US remotely piloted aircraft, commonly known as drones, launched three Hellfire missiles at the group.

The strike killed four of the men instantly, hurling their body parts across the grounds. The blast of a fourth missile hit the fifth man as he crawled away, pinning him lifeless to a wall.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry described three of the men as members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The other two were not connected.

The report cites a December 2009 strike in the hamlet of al-Majalah that killed 14 alleged Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters and at least 41 local civilians, including nine women and 21 children. The attack used Tomahawk cruise missiles armed with cluster munitions.

It also singles out a September 2012 air strike in the village of Sarar that blew up a minibus, killing 12 passengers, including three children and a pregnant woman.

Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 57 of the 82 people killed in the attacks it investigated were civilians. It notes: “US authorities have not revealed the number of strikes, the number of civilians and alleged combatants killed or wounded, or, with few exceptions, the target of the strikes.”

The attacks in Pakistan are carried out by the CIA. Those in Yemen are carried by both the CIA and the military’s US Joint Special Operations Command. The Obama administration refuses to provide figures for dead and wounded, explain the legal rationale for individual attacks, or, generally, the identities of those targeted.

The report by UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson focuses mainly on drone strikes in Afghanistan, but also covers Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Somalia. Emmerson cites data from the US Air Force that shows the number of aerial drone strikes in Afghanistan rose from 294 in 2011 to 447 in the first 11 months of 2012. Emmerson concludes that the United States is in violation of international law, in the first instance by refusing to provide information on its targeted killing program.

His report states: “The modern concept of human rights is based on the fundamental principle that those responsible for violations must be held to account. A failure to investigate and, where applicable, punish those responsible for violations of the right to life in itself constitutes a violation of that right.”

In its article on the US drone strike reports, the New York Times on Tuesday focused on the city of Miram Shah in Pakistan’s North Waziristan agency, noting that it has suffered at least 13 drone strikes since 2008, with an additional 25 in nearby districts—“more than any other urban settlement in the world.”

The Times states that the strikes on Miram Shah “mostly occur in densely populated neighborhoods,” having thus far hit a bakery, a closed girls school and a money changers’ market. The newspaper describes the devastating impact on the population of living with the constant fear of sudden death, in a place where “buzzing drones hover day and night.” Calling it “a fearful and paranoid town,” the Times speaks of a “crushing psychological burden for many residents.”

These reports make clear that the drone-based targeted killing program is a calculated effort to terrorize and intimidate entire populations into accepting either direct US occupation or domination via client regimes. It is driven not by a “war on terrorism,” but a determination to secure US imperialist hegemony over the oil-rich and strategically vital Middle East and Central Asia.

Obama personally devotes much of his time to overseeing the drawing up of “kill lists” and selecting targets, including US citizens, for extrajudicial execution. The information in the newly published reports shatters the claims he made in his speech last May at the National Defense University to use drone strikes only against people who pose a “continuing, imminent threat” to the United States and only in cases where the avoidance of civilian casualties is “a near certainty.”

At a news briefing Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney arrogantly dismissed the series of damning reports, saying “we would strongly disagree” that the US has violated international laws. Without addressing any of the charges or evidence contained in the reports, he declared, “US counterterrorism actions are precise, they are lawful, and they are effective.”

The reports, in fact, provide prima facie evidence for a future war crimes tribunal whose defendants would include Obama and top officials at the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.

The transatlantic romance is on the rocks, again. Washington DC’s insatiable international digital spy network, the NSA, has been caught collecting millions of electronic French letters and phone calls – in secret, and to stop terrorism. Or is it merely to justify billions in US government contract expenditures. Anyone above a fifth grade education level should really be able to figure that one out by now.

A report was released this past Monday, detailing how the NSA has sucked in more than 70 million French phone records in one month. 

1-NSA-Spying-John-Kerry-Hollande-Cow
Only a month and a half ago, dedicated francophile US Secretary of State John Kerry and French President François Hollande were beaming with excitement, as they shared a warm political bed together while planning a war with Syria. As they counted the coming cruise missile profits together, everything couldn’t have been more perfect. And then…

Another violation. This is just the latest in a long list of long distance digital rape on the part of the United States. This week also saw how the NSA spy network has been used in order to gain advanced commercial intelligence on Mexico for years – and exposed as being all for the benefit of insider US business and investor interests. Whose surprised?

What an embarrassment for Monsieur Kerry, who has been tasked with making yet another weak case for the US government, by trying to explain away the illegal actions of his government. Left to do damage control, Kerry insists that France is still “one of our oldest allies in the world”, but protecting people from terrorism is so “very complicated, very challenging task.”

Not the world’s most convincing actor, John Kerry, is trying hard to act concerned about foreign privacy.

His chief concerns are as far from ethics and international law as one could imagine. Here’s what really upsetting Washington’s most interesting man:

“Will I still be invited for raclette (cheese) and champagne parties in Aix-en-Provence this spring?”

This will be burning on Kerry’s mind over the holidays.

Next, the Teflon Don (photo, left) ponders the scandal… never one to willingly take any responsibility for anything that might be construed as negative, Obama avoids the issue altogether. This is because there’s no room for America’s reputation when he’s so obsessed with looking out for his own.

Rather than getting a executive statement from America’s salamander-n-chief, President Obama has instead opted to call Hollande in private to try and re-spin the issue, in what the White House has labeled as “recent disclosures in the press — some of which have distorted our activities and some of which raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies.”

What Kerry and Obama fail to realise is that, outside of their own private France on the millionaire ski slopes of Chamonix and aboard the yachts in Cannes, the rest of the country could not give a toss about America’s inflated national security concerns, and will hate the American government for abusing their trust.

Hollande’s hands are tied on this one. Regardless, the backlash has already begun. According to RT, the French as pissed off in a big way:

France has called for an explanation for the “unacceptable” and “shocking” reports of NSA spying on French citizens. Leaked documents revealed the spy agency records millions of phone calls and monitors politicians and high-profile business people.

The US Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin was summoned by the French Foreign Ministry to account for the espionage allegations on Monday morning. 

“I have immediately summoned the US ambassador and he will be received this morning at the Quai d’Orsay [the French Foreign Ministry],” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told press. He added that “we must quickly assure that these practices aren’t repeated.”

The media scandal triggered a phone call between US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande who, according to the White House, discussed “legitimate questions”raised by US “friends and allies” about how the surveillance capabilities are employed. Obama reportedly assured Hollande that the US was reviewing the way it gathers intelligence.  

In addition, citing the report on French publication Le Monde, Interior Minister Manuel Valls spoke out on national television against US spy practices.

The US government is out of control and everyone knows it. Rather than dealing with the problem head on, and making correction to an illegal government operation, men like Barack Obama and John Kerry have chose instead to cover for themselves and the program. So no lesson learned.

That is Washington DC in a nutshell today – inept and unable to act honourably on the international theatre.

A Devastating and Secret Report By The Senate Intelligence Committee Documents In Detail How The C.I.A.’s Brutalization of Terror Suspects During The Bush Years Was Unnecessary, Ineffective, and Deceptively Sold To Congress, The White House, The Justice Department, and The Public

We’ve extensively documented that:

1. Torture harms our national security

2. Torture is unnecessary to break hardened terrorists

3. Torture is unnecessary even in a “ticking time bomb” situation

4. The “enhanced” interrogation techniques were aimed at producing false confessions

5. Torture did not provide valuable details regarding 9/11

6. Many innocent people were tortured

The Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA’s top lawyer, Stephen W. Preston (who has just been confirmed to act as the Pentagon’s top lawyer) seem to agree with substantial portions of what critics of the torture program have been saying for years.

As the New Yorker reports:

[There apparently is a] devastating, and still secret, report by the Senate Intelligence Committee documenting in detail how the C.I.A.’s brutalization of terror suspects during the Bush years was unnecessary, ineffective, and deceptively sold to Congress, the White House, the Justice Department, and the public.  The report threatens to definitively refute former C.I.A. personnel who have defended the program’s integrity. But so far, to the consternation of several members of the Intelligence Committee, the Obama Administration, like Bush’s before it, is keeping the damning details from public view.

***

Preston, in his answers to Udall, concedes that, during the Bush years, the C.I.A. “fell well short” of current standards for keeping the congressional oversight committees informed of covert actions, as is required under the 1947 National Security Act.

In fact, Preston admits outright that, contrary to the C.I.A.’s insistence that it did not actively impede congressional oversight of its detention and interrogation program, “briefings to the Committees included inaccurate information related to aspects of the program of express interest to Members.”

The contention that the C.I.A. provided inaccurate information to the congressional oversight committees is apparently extensively documented by the report. Udall notes that the report contains a two-hundred-ninety-eight-page section on “C.I.A. Representations on the C.I.A. Interrogation Program and the Effectiveness of the C.I.A.’s Enhanced Interrogation Techniques to Congress.”

***

Preston … states:

Had the Executive understood and discharged its congressional reporting obligations as we have in my experience since 2009, I do not believe that the briefings on a program of this nature, magnitude, and duration would have continued on a limited, leadership only basis.

In addition, Preston acknowledges that, in the past, the C.I.A. inadequately informed the Justice Department about the full nature of its interrogation and detention program. “C.I.A.’s efforts fell well short of our current practices when it comes to providing information relevant to [the Office of Legal Counsel]’s legal analysis,” Preston writes.

Preston also distances himself from the C.I.A.’s argument that it is impossible to know whether alternatives to brutal interrogations would have produced information that was as good, if not better. According to the Udall document, the C.I.A. has argued in its rebuttal to the Senate report that it is “unknowable whether, without enhanced techniques, C.I.A. or non-C.I.A. interrogators could have acquired the same information from those detainees.”

However, Preston, in his answers to Udall, agrees with the Senate report’s finding that it is sometimes possible to determine that there were other ways that the C.I.A. could have obtained the same information, without tormenting detainees. Evidently, the report recounts numerous instances in which ordinary legal methods would have produced the same intelligence that was gained through brutalization. Preston, in his answers to Udall, acknowledges that:

I agree that it may be possible to make a determination as to whether information… was “otherwise unavailable.”

The argument is important because the Senate report evidently asserts that there were instances when the C.I.A. claimed to have gotten information because of torture when, in fact, it got it years after the fact, or could have obtained it through other means.

We’ve also shown that:

When the State Department revoked Edward Snowden’s passport four months ago, the move was a reprisal from a surveillance-and-warfare state that operates largely in the shadows. Top officials in Washington were furious. Snowden had suddenly exposed what couldn’t stand the light of day, blowing the cover of the world’s Biggest Brother.

Cancellation of the passport wasn’t just an effort to prevent the whistleblower from getting to a country that might grant political asylum. It was also a declaration that the U.S. government can nullify the right to travel just as surely as it can nullify the right to privacy.

“Although I am convicted of nothing,” Snowden said in a July 1 statement after a week at a Moscow airport terminal, the U.S. government “has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”

Since 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has affirmed with clarity: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” The only other words of Article 14 specify an exception that clearly doesn’t apply to Snowden: “This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”

 The extent of the U.S. government’s scorn for this principle can be gauged by the lengths it has gone to prevent Snowden from gaining political asylum. It was a measure of desperation — and contempt for international law — that Washington got allied governments of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy to deny airspace to the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales in early July, forcing the aircraft to land for a search on the chance that it was carrying Snowden from Moscow to political asylum in Bolivia.

 Although Snowden was able to stay in Russia, revocation of his U.S. passport has been a crucial weapon to prevent him from crossing an international border for any reason other than to come home to prison in the United States.

Just as the decision to revoke Snowden’s passport was entirely political, any remedy will be political. The law has nothing to do with it, other than giving the Secretary of State the power to revoke his passport.

Unfortunately, that option was established in the case of Philip Agee, the CIA agent who revealed wrongdoing and became a CIA foe. He lost a legal fight to regain his revoked passport when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him in 1981.

Thurgood Marshall was one of the dissenting justices in that 7-2 decision on Haig v. Agee. The other was William Brennan, who wrote that “just as the Constitution protects both popular and unpopular speech, it likewise protects both popular and unpopular travelers.”

 

Justice Brennan added: “And it is important to remember that this decision applies not only to Philip Agee, whose activities could be perceived as harming the national security, but also to other citizens who may merely disagree with Government foreign policy and express their views.”

Clearly winning the right to travel for “both popular and unpopular travelers” is a political battle ahead. A step in that direction has begun with an online petition telling Secretary of State John Kerry to restore Snowden’s passport. Thousands of signers have posted cogent — and often eloquent — personal comments alongside their names.

“I urge you to immediately reinstate the passport of Edward Snowden, a U.S. whistleblower who has educated the public about threats to our privacy and precious constitutional rights,” the petition says. “Due process is fundamental to democracy. Your revocation of Mr. Snowden’s passport contradicts the words of many U.S. leaders who have often criticized other governments for violating the principle of freedom to travel.” (The petition, launched by RootsAction.org, has gained more than 25,000 signers since mid-October.)

Whether sending missiles across borders or using the latest digital technology to spy on vast numbers of people, the U.S. government relies on military violence and chronic secrecy in an ongoing quest to exert control over as much of the world as possible. The agenda reeks of impunity and arrogant power. Revoking Edward Snowden’s passport is in sync with that agenda. We should challenge it.

 Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

by Mario Franssen, Intal spokesperson

 Richard Falk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967, describes in his report to the UN General Assembly that the Belgian government can be held responsible for the funding by Dexia Bank of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

For the second consecutive year, Richard Falk has examined the politics of Dexia Bank in the occupied Palestinian territories, through its subsidiary Dexia Israel. In his report submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 29, 2013, he is quite harsh for the Belgian government.

 The Belgian government is the majority shareholder of Dexia Bank with 50,02 % of the shares. Dexia Bank in turn is 66 % owner of Dexia Israel. In his report Mr. Falk makes very clear that this can have serious consequences.

The Belgian government under fire

The Special Rapporteur sees at least five elements that can put the Belgian government in an awkward position:

 1. Since Belgium has signed the Geneva Conventions, and Dexia Israel violates Article 49 (p 6)  of these conventions, Belgium fails in its duty to enforce these agreements (p.15 of the report)

2. The Special Rapporteur states that Dexia Israel violates Human Rights. Because the Belgian government is majority shareholder, Belgium must take the necessary steps to prevent these activities and / or punish those responsible within Dexia Israel (p. 15-16)

 3. Richard Falk also criticizes Dexia because it has withdrawn from the Global Compact, a self-regulatory instrument within the United Nations of which Dexia Bank was a member. This is especially surprising because Dexia Bank withdrew in April 2013, after the Belgian government became the majority shareholder (p. 16)

 4. International Criminal Law is applicable according to Mr. Falk. Belgium is a signatory of the Rome Statute.Thus Belgian citizens fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The ICC could investigate whether Dexia staff is involved in war crimes. (p. 16-17)

5. The Belgian State can be held responsible for the damage caused by its bank, Dexia. Possibly this may lead to the payment of damages and reparations. (p. 17)

 Finally Mr. Falk criticizes the Belgian government in the conclusions (p. 23-24) and calls on the Belgian NGO’s and human rights organisations to continue to put pressure on the Belgian government to end its involvement in the illegal colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories.

 * Read the full report of the Special Rapporteur:http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/68/documentslist.shtml

A/68/376   [F]    [S]    [A]    [C]    [R]
Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967

 Richard Falk welcomes Dutch firm’s decision to pull out of an illegal Israeli project in East Jerusalem

 On the same day, Richard Falk welcomed the decision made by the Dutch multinational company Royal HaskoningDHV to terminate its contract with the Jerusalem municipality to build the Kidron wastewater treatment plant intended to service illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.

 “The sewage treatment facility would have served to further entrench Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, now universally considered to be a violation of international law and United Nations resolutions,” said the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

 “It is encouraging that international corporations are taking corporate social responsibility seriously and weighing the legal consequences, financial costs and reputational risks of involvement in the maintenance and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine,” he noted.

In its official statement, Holland’s largest engineering company, Royal HaskoningDHV, explained that ‘In the course of the project, and after due consultation with various stakeholders, the company came to understand that future involvement in the project could be in violation of international law.’ Special Rapporteur Falk praised the decision as a major acknowledgement of the arguments made by legal experts and human rights activists about the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.

 “The Dutch firm’s decision is part of a growing momentum against Israel’s failure to comply with international law in accordance with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention governing belligerent occupation,” added the UN expert, citing the recent report of the international fact finding mission on Israeli settlements.

Read more

 http://www.intal.be/nl/article/dexia-en-belgische-overheid-opnieuw-onder-vuur-de-algemene-vergadering-van-de-vn – Translation from Dutch: Dirk Adriaensens

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil says countries that have participated in Syria’s crisis must compensate for the destruction they have brought to the Arab country.“We must not forget that Syria is a country rich in resources. Clearly, however, after all this destruction, its own resources are insufficient for reconstruction. Thus, one must mobilize private funds and additional resources, including form of compensation. It is natural that countries that have destroyed Syria must compensate,” Jamil said in an interview with the Russian TV channel Russia Today (RT) on Monday.The Syrian deputy prime minister pointed the finger at Turkey, accusing the country of looting Syria’s industrial hub, Aleppo.

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil

He further noted that corrupt figures who subsequently became representatives of foreign-backed opposition groups will also have to pay for post-conflict reconstruction.

Jamil said that the issue of compensation by the states, which have played a role in the destruction of the Middle Eastern country, will be one of the priority themes at the upcoming Geneva II conference.

Western and Arab governments prepare to meet Syrian opposition leaders on Tuesday in London to persuade them to attend Geneva II.

The Geneva II conference is seen as a chance to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria. The event has been delayed for months.

The Syrian government has said that it will participate in the talks, but will not negotiate with “terrorists.”

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the violence.

After the US Default Showdown: More Bad News

October 22nd, 2013 by Michael Welch

Backing away from the Precipice

The American public, and much of the world were treated to a dramatic showdown as elected representatives on Capitol Hill sparred over how money would be spent in the 2014 fiscal year.

At the end of September, the two Chambers of Congress, namely the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House of Representatives failed to agree on legislation that would regulate the appropriation of funding for the 2014 fiscal year which began October 1. As a result, most federal government operations requiring State financing were shut down.

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The Shut-Down continued throughout the first two weeks of October, as Congress and the White House struggled to come up with the necessary legislative formula before October 17 when, we are told,  a “debt default” would result should no deal be reached.

A major sticking point was the refusal of the House of Representatives, controlled by the Republican Party, to approve of government funding up until the middle of December, unless President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, was delayed a year and then gutted of a key provision, namely the tax on medical devices.

The gridlock was finally broken when President Obama “stared down” the Republicans in the House leaving ObamaCare mostly intact. Appropriatations Bill HR 2775 was approved, bringing an end to the government shut down, maintaining government funding until January 15, and lifting the already stratospheric $16.699 trillion debt ceiling until February 7.

But as some observers, such as broadcast journalist and author Stephen Lendman points out, default or no, ordinary Americans have had to bear the burden of the real fiscal crisis which has been masked by this legislative game of chicken. Lendman also levels a critique of ObamaCare that you won’t hear from House Republicans, and he explains how the crisis engulfing the city of Detroit mirrors America’s future. Stephen Lendman presents his perspective in the first half hour of the Global Research News Hour.

In the second half hour, a York University Professor of Political Science, David McNally, helps expand the discussion by elaborating on the roots of the US fiscal crisis in neo-liberal reforms. He argues that the stand-off and the 2008 economic slump that preceded it, are rooted in the development of policies that have benefited the most privileged, including the banks, at the expense of the working class, who are now being made to pay for the excesses of the ultra-wealthy. McNally also probes the mistakes of the Occupy Movement as he sees it, and articulates how an effective push back may be realized.

David McNally provides his analysis in the final half hour.

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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.

We welcome our new partner CHLY in Nanaimo, British Columbia! The Global Research News Hour is now broadcast on CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C every Thursday at 1pm PST!

China is accelerating the role of the Chinese Yuan with agreements with Singapore that would allow direct trading between each other’s currency” according to Singapore’s central bank. The Agence-France Presse (AFP) reported that China and Singapore will cooperate on a number of agreements that would boost economic ties for both countries.

China is concerned with its US treasury holdings worth up to $1.2 trillion after Washington’s spectacle earlier this month over its fiscal policies that pushed the world’s economy into a crises.  The move, along with other agreements on financial cooperation, is expected to bolster Singapore’s status as a leading offshore trading centre for the Chinese Yuan, officially called the renminbi (RMB)”the report said.  “China and Singapore will introduce direct currency trading between the Chinese yuan and Singapore dollar,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement, adding that details will be announced separately.” China is in a good position because it allows Singapore to invest in Chinese stocks and bonds with Yuan’s boosting its capital markets.

The report said that “China will also grant Singapore-based investors a 50-billion-yuan ($8.2 billion) investment quota under its Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor programme, MAS said.  This would allow investors based in the city-state to use the Yuan to invest in Chinese stocks and bonds.”  China is racing against time in case lawmakers in Washington do not come up with an agreement to raise the “Debt Ceiling” to borrow more money or solve their economic problems.  China is diversifying out of US Dollars at a rapid pace since the 2007-2008 financial crises that resulted in the bankruptcy of major financial institutions, bailouts and government takeovers such as Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Citigroup and American Insurance Group (AIG).  China is also frustrated with the US government’s backing of its neighbors internal affairs with Beijing regarding the South China Sea.  Reuters reported on October 10th, 2013 the following:

The US is also aggressively backing the Philippine government’s maritime dispute with China when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry angered China’s leadership “All claimants have a responsibility to clarify and align their claims with international law. They can engage in arbitration and other means of peaceful negotiation,” Kerry told leaders at the East Asia Summit in Brunei, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.  “Freedom of navigation and overflight is a linchpin of security in the Pacific,” he added.

It is important to note that Hillary Clinton, who is rumored to run as a Democratic candidate in the 2016 US Presidential elections, told an ASEAN summit in 2010 that the US had a “national interest” in the “freedom of navigation. “  Clinton also angered China that only proves that the US is directly intervening in a regional dispute.  Since the Obama administration got into office they have repeatedly used the ASEAN forums for multilateral discussions between China and its South East Asian counterparts supporting the opposition and ignoring Beijing’s call to settle the disputes bilaterally. The US has supported the Philippines (considered a US puppet state) and Vietnam to counter China’s claims aggressively resulting in numerous maritime incidents in the South China Sea and has divided all countries within ASEAN.  China is threatened economically and militarily by the US government (See graph below).

China is making moves to loosen the US government’s strangle hold over its economy and its regional disputes with its neighbors.  China’s economic growth will benefit Singapore in the long run as “Chinese institutional investors will also be allowed to use the Yuan to invest in Singapore’s capital markets.”  The AFP also stated that “Relevant agencies in Singapore and China are also in discussions to facilitate China-incorporated companies, which have received regulatory approval to list directly in Singapore.” And that “The new initiatives will further promote the international use of the Renminbi through Singapore,” the MAS said.  

Times are changing for the world’s economy.  China and other countries are in preparation for a possible US default in the future.  When can the US Dollar collapse?  It is hard to tell since the US economy is intertwined with the global economy.  But one thing is for sure China and other countries across the planet are diversifying out of the US Dollar and it is accelerating.  That is a fact.  Singapore is not taking any chances either.  “Its managing director Ravi Menon added: “Financial ties between the two countries have deepened considerably and Singapore is well placed to promote greater use of the RMB in international trade and investment in the years to come.”  

The AFP report said “China’s rise as the world’s second biggest economy has seen the Yuan take on a bigger role in international financial markets.”  2014 will be an interesting year for world financial markets.  What will happen when Washington is once again on the center stage in January?  Will they continue to increase the “Debt Ceiling” so that they can borrow until the end of time? Or will they play “Political Brinkmanship again?  Will the Federal Reserve Bank “Taper” its monetary policy by Mid-2014 if the US economy improves as Chairman Ben Bernanke promised or will the new Chairwoman Janet Yellen, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a protégé of Alan Greenspan continue to print US “Fiat” currencies with low interest rates?  Many questions on the US economy remain elusive.  China has many reasons to worry about its financial future and its sovereignty and that is a declining empire called the United States government.

How Accurate Are The Instruments in Nuclear Reactors?

October 22nd, 2013 by Maggie Gundersen

Accurately measuring the reactor water level in a nuclear power plant is critical to safe operation, yet nuclear power reactor water monitoring systems do not work correctly. What would happen today if your car’s speedometer read 60 miles per hour, but in actuality, you might be driving at 40-mph or even 95-mph?

Listen to today’s Fairewinds Energy Education podcast as Dave Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists and researcher Lucas Hixson discuss the dangerous dilemma reactor operators face when a reactor has an emergency shutdown and operators simply do not know if the reactor has enough water to keep it cool!

Transcript:

MG: Hi this is Maggie Gundersen for Fairewinds Energy Education. Today we’re doing a special show about reactor water level monitoring. We have as our guests nuclear researcher Lucas Hixson and Dave Lochbaum, nuclear expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists. This is not one of our typical podcasts in that this is a very technical podcast, but it’s for you geeks out there. A lot of people have written in to us and asked for this kind of material, and even if you’re a layperson I think that you will really, really find this interesting and it’ll give you insight into how difficult it is to operate a nuclear power reactor. Thank you for joining us.

LH:      Good afternoon. I’m Lucas Hixson and I’m here today with Dave Lochbaum with the Union of Concerned Scientists, and we’re going to be speaking about what is called the Reactor Water Level Monitoring System at nuclear power plants. Water is used in the nuclear reactor as a critical neutron moderator and coolant. Water levels in a nuclear reactor are not monitored directly, but rather through an indirect monitoring system, which incorporates a reserve tank which is termed a reference leg. There have been some reported flaws with this cooling system throughout the years, some of the most notable being brought forth by Paul Blanche in the early 1990’s. Dave, can you explain to us some of the nature of his findings?

DL:      Yes. Paul found some problems with the level instrumentation used in boiling water reactors like Fukushima in Japan and Pilgrim and Browns Ferry here in the United States. As you mentioned, in that type of reactor, the water boils right in the reactor vessel. It’s difficult to measure the level of water that’s vigorously boiling. If you imagine a pot of boiling water on the stove, you see all that froth level at the top, what is the level of water in the pot? So what boiling water reactors do is use the reference leg, which is just a non-boiling column of water, and compare the pressure or the weight of that water to the weight of water in the reactor. And we can judge the density of the water in the reactor vessel easier than we can determine its actual height. And we can use that differential pressure between what the weight of the water in the reactor is versus the weight of the water in that reference column to determine what the level of the water in the reactor vessel is. If you look at a bottle of soda pop and you shake it up and then crack the top, the water level – the beverage level jumps from a nice low level to spewing out the open top. Because the non-condensable gases inside that soda have become freed by the agitation. Likewise, what Paul noted was that if the pressure of a reactor vessel were suddenly to drop, as it could happen during an accident, the non-condensable gases inside the water can cause the water in the reference column to all of a sudden change dramatically as bubbles come out of that water due to the pressure drop, which is similar to cracking a soda pop. Its pressure drops and the bubbles form. We hadn’t accounted for that in the water level instrumentation. As those bubbles formed under that situation, the indications of level to the operator could become vastly wrong – several feet, dozens of feet wrong. And the reactor core is only 12 feet tall and if the level instrumentation is off by 20 feet, you’ve got a big problem.

LH:      Is there any other method for operators to determine the water level if the reactor water level monitoring system is not providing accurate data?

DL:      The operators are provided about five sets of water level instrumentation for boiling water reactors. They’re calibrated at hot conditions, high pressure, high temperature, as well as cold conditions where the reactor is shut down and the reactor vessel’s head is off, the water is less than 212 degrees. The problem is that during an accident, you go from high temperature, high pressure to high temperature, low pressure as this pipe breaks and water flows out. The operators must choose amongst these five sets of instrumentation to figure out which one is most accurately monitoring the conditions at that moment; and that indication will shift from instrument to instrument, and it’s the operator’s guess as to which one’s providing the most accurate indication. And when you have 100 tons of reactor core to deal with, when you start playing guessing games, a wrong guess comes at a high cost.

LH:      If I remember correctly, the NRC had allowed for a 30-inch discrepancy in that reference leg measurement. And sometimes those measurements could be off by more than 20 or 25 feet. Is that correct?

DL:      For example, at Brown’s Ferry, we had three level instruments, all with reference legs, and they sometimes would be indicating a foot or more difference between one and the other, and they’re all supposed to be monitoring the same thing.

LH:      So now that we’ve discussed the possibilities of operators not being able to accurately assess the water levels in a nuclear reactor due to non-condensable gases building up in the reference leg, I would like to pose another plausible system flaw to you. There has been a common observed phenomenon at nuclear accidents, which I feel may not receive enough attention. Reactor operators have been repeatedly put in situations where they have been unable to trust the very equipment that they rely upon to tell them what is occurring in the nuclear reactor, and have reacted either correctly or incorrectly based on that untrustworthy data. And later, these same reactor operators have been blamed for those accidents due to some form of operator failure. Dave, as an example for this, could you share with us some of the instrumentation difficulties that operators experienced at Three Mile Island?

DL:      Certainly. In March of 1979, the Three Mile Island reactor was operating at about 97 percent power when it experienced an unplanned shutdown – automatic shutdown of the reactor that brought it to a subcritical shutdown condition within seconds. That had happened 13 times in the previous year that the reactor had operated, but the 13th time – this time – proved to be very unlucky. Things were nice and balanced where the plant was operating at 97 percent power, but also in the reactor shutdown, there’s a big transient as an effort to try to rebalance the power being produced by the reactor and the power being carried away by the support systems. During the transient there was a valve that opened at the reactor vessel to allow pressure to be relieved by discharging fluid through that valve into a tank. This time – and that’s normal – that’s the design and the plant handled it – a few seconds of transient while the balance is being restored. But in this situation, that valve stuck open. It was supposed to reclose when the pressure dropped back down, but due to mechanical failure, the valve stayed open. The operators were instructed, trained – the procedures, all the guidance had been geared towards preventing the tank on which that valve sat on top of, from ever becoming filled with water. It was partially filled with water to accommodate the swelling and contraction of water as the reactor heated up and cooled down. It was kind of like the overflow tank in a car engine. Because that valve stuck open, the water level inside that tank was indicating to be out of the top, completely filled. That was not the actual water level, but because the valve was open, kind of like the soda pop bottle earlier, the water level in that tank was falsely out the top, when in fact it was created by a bunch of bubbles being formed in that water by the pressure of the open valve dropping the pressure, kind of like removing the top or cracking the top on the soda bottle. The operators reacted to that false indication by turning off the pumps that had started to provide makeup water to cool the reactor. They turned those pumps off because they falsely thought the reactor had too much water when just the opposite was happening. Over the next two hours, they succeeded in draining more water out of the reactor vessel because they were trying to get the water level in that tank back normal. The false indication continued for nearly two hours to cause them to drain the water out of the reactor vessel until the reactor core was partially uncovered and it melted down. It overheated and melted down. But those operators were doing exactly what they were trained to do; exactly what their procedures told them to do. But they relied on a false indication and were led down a very bad road.

LH:      Now were there any indications prior to Three Mile Island that a valve would fail in an open configuration like that?

DL:      Shortly over a year earlier, the Davis Bessie plant in Ohio, which was a twin sister to Three Mile Island, experienced a very similar event. They had a shutdown. But at that time, the reactor was operating at about 90 percent power. That valve also opened to handle the pressure transient during a few seconds while things were rebalanced. It also stuck open. But the operators in that case noticed the valve was stuck open and they closed another valve in that same pipe which effectively stopped the flow through there. The pressure inside the tank dropped back to its real level instead of the falsely indicated high, and they came through that no problem. One of the problems was that event was even though it occurred and was successfully dealt with, the owner, the reactor vendor and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission didn’t share that with anybody else so that the operators at Three Mile Island and elsewhere weren’t forewarned about that potential situation. So when they stumbled upon it blindly, they misdiagnosed it with disaster as a result.

LH:      And to me, that has connotations of the types of failures that were experienced at Chernobyl as well, where operators were responding in ways that they thought were appropriate, but due to the other configurations on site, were actually not following the procedures that would help them to mitigate the accident.

DL:      It’s a common theme. Again and again, we trap the operators. We give them a set of instructions that are intended to handle a wide range of scenarios, but nature follows the same script they’re being led down wrong paths. It happened, as you said, at Chernobyl, it happened at Three Mile Island. To a certain extent it happened at Fukushima. We don’t seem to learn the right lessons from those disasters.

LH:      My concerns with this obviously being that with the reactor operators, rather than setting them up for success, we’re putting them in a situation where they can inevitably not do the correct things and are set up for failure. According to Tokyo Electric, the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant, they, too, experienced issues with the reactor water level monitoring system at its reactors during their response to the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Specifically at unit 1, after the loss of power, operators were scrambling to find backup power supplies with which to power the control room monitoring systems which would allow them to determine what was happening inside of the nuclear reactor. When they temporarily restored power to the reactor water level monitoring system using backup batteries, the gauges told operators the water levels were above the top of active fuel; but in fact, in further analysis, we found that at that time, the whole core was exposed and had been exposed for more than 90 minutes by the time that backup power was restored. Now according to TEPCO, the temperatures in the core had reached the point where fuel damage had started to occur, and had also become so hot that they evaporated the water in that reference leg. Due to the pressure in the reactor pressure vessel, false readings were registered on the gauges when power was temporarily restored. Now to me, this means that the reactor water level monitoring system is capable of providing reliable data for operators during normal operations. But if there’s just one bad day, the system is also capable of failing after the point of core damage. Do you have any comments on this?

DL:      I would agree to an extent. The water level instrumentation in other systems at the plant are designed for normal operations and postulated accidents. But when accidents don’t follow the scripts that we’ve written, the indications the operators get or the guidance that they’re given can be more harmful than helpful. And that’s really not the situation we should put them in.

LH:      Now at Fukushima Daiichi, we also apparently have observed now that if reactor operators in the future find themselves in a situation where they postulate fuel damage could have occurred, that the temperatures in the reactor itself could have already potentially reached such levels that they evaporate the water in the reference leg, and then the public would be in a position that they’re forced to trust the words of the industry, which would be unable to trust its own data. Is this correct?

DL:      Unfortunately, yeah. The way it is now and the way it is for the foreseeable future is the best indication we have whether the water level indications are accurate or not is whether you see a radioactive cloud coming from the plant that would suggest that the indications are false. We need a better indication than a radioactive cloud telling us whether we do or do not know the water level. That’s too big a price tag to pay for knowing that we’re wrong.

LH:      Dave, are these same reactor water level monitors used at both PWR and BWR styled reactors?

DL:      They’re used on boiling water reactors. The pressurized water reactors use a similar but slightly different system. On pressurized water reactors, there’s actually not even water level instrumentation for the reactor vessel because, per our accident scripts, we don’t ever drain water out of the primary system. The water level instrumentation is on the steam generators for the pressurized water reactors, which is a secondary loop of water outside the reactor vessel. The steam generators use a system similar to that used in boiling water reactors to monitor the water level inside the steam generators. On pressurized water reactors, except when they’re shut down, there’s really not a system used to monitor the water level inside the reactor vessel.

LH:      Are these issues being addressed? And how could they be addressed? And who should be working on the answers to these problems?

DL:      We seem to be always fighting yesterday’s battle, which needs to be done. But we need to broaden the scope to look at key parameters that need to be monitored by operators and whether those parameters will be accurate or not during various accident and severe accident scenarios that they may face. We can’t put operators in the position of having to guess what’s going on because they may guess right. But if they guess wrong, a lot of people pay a hard price. So I think the federal government, the national labs and the industry should be looking at every key parameter, whether it’s pressure, water level, temperature, hydrogen concentration or whatever is necessary to be controlled during an accident, we need to insure that the operators get reliable information on those parameters so they can take the right actions at the right times. For example, the poor operators at Fukushima who struggled to repower instrumentation only to be given false indications – they shouldn’t have been in those shoes in the first place, but if we do that again to anybody, that’s shame on us.

LH:      The public obviously has a duty to keep themselves informed and to insure that regulators are doing their jobs to address these issues. But how can reactor operators also help the Regulatory Commission as well as the nuclear industry with addressing these problems?

DL:      The plant operators – the owners of nuclear power plants, have a multi-billion dollar asset that they don’t want to see lost. So they have every reason in the world to make sure that the operators of those plants are given reliable information. They should not just fix yesterday’s problems. They should look at the instrumentation issue more broadly, to look at how to make things better. For example, many plants are replacing old analog equipment with digital equipment because you just can’t find some of those spare parts any more. As you go to digital equipment, as you replace some of this instrumentation, make it better; make it more reliable. Make it so that it can handle a wider range of scenarios other than the very narrow scripts that we write for accidents. If we don’t do that, we’re just relying on luck to prevent the next Fukushima or Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. And the fact that that list keeps growing shows that luck makes a lousy barrier.

LH:      When we’re speaking about upgrading the analog instruments to digital instruments, I’m also reminded of the event at North Ana in 2012, where they had updated some of the earthquake seismic instruments with digital instruments, but they were not capable of recording the actual earth shaking on site. They were forced to rely instead on the scratch plates. What kind of testing is done with these digital instruments to ensure that they’re going to be able to accurately report data in these situations outside of normal operations?

DL:      Well, the makers of the instrumentation will say that they do really good testing, but the users of that equipment, are showing that those marketing claims are falling short of reality. The Browns Ferry nuclear plant also had a problem with digital equipment in that the internet traffic was so high that it interfered with controls of two pumps, sending cooling water through the reactor core causing them to trip offline. So we obviously have some more homework to do to make sure the digital equipment is reliable just for day-to-day operations, let alone handling accident situations.

LH:      In response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the Nuclear Regulator Commission has expanded some safety instrumentations at nuclear power plants also specifically related to the spent fuel pools. Can you share a little bit with us about that?

DL:      One of the problems at Fukushima was that there were seven spent fuel pools. During the accident, the water level and the temperature of that water in the spent fuel pools was unknown to the operators in the control room because they had no instrumentation installed to provide that even if power had been available. So the operators were distracted by sending somebody physically up to look at what the water level was or try to figure out what the temperature was. To avoid that situation here at U.S. plants, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March of 2012 ordered plant owners to install reliable water level instrumentation. Sounds good. But the order ordering plant owners to install instrumentation monitored the level down to a foot above where the spent fuel assemblies are stored in the pools so if there is a problem and the water level does drop, the operators may not know that the level is now below the top of the fuel and fuel damage may be imminent. All they know is it’s down to within a foot, no lower. There was an opportunity there to measure the water level of the entire pool, not just part of it. Again, we’re assuming that accidents will follow our scripts, we’ll be successful getting water back in before it drops that low and we’ll be setting the operators up for a trap if the water level drops below that. So again, we’re replicating the mistakes of yesterday, not learning the solutions from those disasters.

LH:      Thank you so much, Dave. Once again, I’m Lucas Hixson and we’re speaking with Dave Lochbaum with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Once again, I’d like to thank you for joining us for this conversation.

DL:      Thank you, Lucas, and thanks the work you’re doing in putting a light on these issues. That’s one of the best ways to try to get some of these problems off the table and into the rearview mirror behind us.

NWJ:   Thanks for tuning in to the Fairewinds Energy Education podcast. If you’ve come to depend on Fairewinds for your source for unbiased nuclear news, please consider supporting our work with a contribution so that we can continue to produce high quality energy education programs like this one.


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France Demands Answers from Obama over NSA Spying

October 22nd, 2013 by Danny Schechter

The Film “The Challenger Disaster” Another Cover-Up

October 22nd, 2013 by Richard Cook

The film “The Challenger Disaster” highlights Dr. Richard Feyman’s role in bringing to light the technical causes of the space shuttle Challenger tragedy after the crash of Challenger on January 28, 1986. Feynman, a professor at the California Institute of Technology and 1965 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, was a member of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, also known as the Rogers Commission. He was appointed a member of the commission by a former student, NASA’s acting administrator William Graham, though, as he recounted in his memoirs, when Graham called, “I didn’t know who he was.”

But the film, to be aired on the Discovery and Science channels on November 16, 2013, already to critical acclaim, fails by conveying the misleading impression that Feyman’s role tells the whole story of Challenger or even the most important parts of it.

First, Feynman’s is only one part of a much larger, more complex,  and more interesting saga of how multiple individuals with conscience spoke truth to power to disrupt NASA’s planned cover-up of this epochal event. While the film pays lip service to some of these other individuals–i.e., the engineers at Morton Thiokol who argued against the launch the night before the disaster–the story remains incomplete.

Second, Feynman did a remarkable job of bringing clarity in explaining the technical aspects of the O-ring failure scenario, but only by utilizing and dramatizing data already present within the NASA system, some of which had been leaked publicly by the time Feynman became involved.

Third, the Presidential Commission of which Feynman was a part was itself formed to perpetrate a cover-up by shielding President Ronald Reagan and the White House from being implicated when a prime cause of the disaster was the need to have Challenger airborne in time for Reagan’s state-of-the-union address that night. Feynman suspected as much and had begun to uncover evidence for it. Also, Reagan urged the launch to go forward because he was receiving calls from the television networks that were losing money by parking crews in Florida during NASA’s multiple launch delays. But Feynman did nothing to blow the whistle when Chairman William Rogers diverted attention by focusing the commission’s report solely on the technical problems and scapegoating mid-level managers at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Fourth, the underlying cause of NASA’s decision to “fly-as-is” (using NASA’s own phrase for launching with known defects) with the flawed solid booster rocket joints was to avoid interfering with planned military flights for launch of reconnaissance satellites and in connection with Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), popularly called “Star Wars.” Feyman did nothing to urge that the militarization of space also be a focal point of the investigation as it surely should have been, though the matter came up in subsequent Senate hearings. In fact, the shuttle program was being taken over to serve as a testing platform for weapons in space to lead ultimately to nuclear space-based battle platforms. The Challenger disaster was, in effect, the end of SDI, making the Challenger astronauts martyrs to that ill-conceived venture. Feynman himself was one of the original developers of the atom bomb and a consultant for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He had to have known of the shift at NASA to military priorities.

These omissions have gone largely uncorrected in an overall public impression that the Presidential Commission did a complete examination of the circumstances of the tragedy and delivered to the public a comprehensive explanation. In fact it did not, and the film “The Challenger Disaster” fails to correct that false impression, as did mainstream media coverage following the tragedy. The media itself thereby became party to the unwillingness to confront the whole truth, and now the film “The Challenger Disaster” may be added to that dubious failure.

The complete story is contained in my own book Challenger Revealed, published in 2007 but now being released by Audible, Inc., as a talking book with myself as the narrator.

Challenger Revealed explains how the public hearing where Feyman conducted his famous ice-water O-ring experiment took place only after I released an explosive batch of O-ring documents to the New York Times that was reported as the lead article on Sunday, February 9, 1986, less than two weeks after the explosion. As a NASA analyst with insider access, I had been documenting engineers’ fears that the flawed O-ring joint in the solid rocket boosters could destroy the shuttle on any given launch. One of the documents reported by the Times was my own warning memo of July 23, 1985. The Times story won reporter Phillip Boffey a share of the Pulitzer Prize.

As documented in Challenger Revealed, the February 11, 1986, hearing where Feynman took action had been convened by the chairman of the commission, William Rogers, a former attorney-general and secretary of state, in order to destroy my reputation before a worldwide television audience. I stood my ground under Rogers’ grilling while Feynman was preparing his demonstration that involved dipping a piece of O-ring in a glass of ice water to show how it stiffened. This showed that the booster rocket seals containing the O-rings were bound to fail in the unusually cold weather at the Kennedy Space Center during the hours before the Challenger launch attempt.

Two weeks after this hearing, the engineers at Morton Thiokol, led by Roger Boisjoly and Al McDonald, told the press and the Commission that they had tried desperately the night before the launch to get NASA to stand down. But, they said, they were overruled by pressures from the space agency and from their own contractor management. Later in the Commission’s hearings, NASA astronaut John Young put his own career on the line by arguing that schedule pressure had caused NASA to compromise safety.

Feynman died in 1988 so is not around to debate the issue. But while he may have acted heroically, he was not the only one to do so and failed in key respects, along with other commission members who could not conceive of swimming against the political tide. For my own testimony I received the Cavallo Foundation Award for Moral Courage in Business and Government in 1991.

Also bear in mind that in 1986, when the disaster took place, whistleblowers were a rarity. Today we have many more cases involving people like Sibel Edmonds, Bradley Manning, Karen Hudes, and Edward Snowden. The Challenger disaster, where everything  the public came to learn about what really happened originated with individuals who were bucking the system from within, was a forerunner for their heroism. Back then I was told by a news reporter, “They’ve killed people for less than what you did.” But I believe that what I did paved the way for others.

The most important value for civilized living is honesty. That value is compromised by the film “The Challenger Disaster” by being careful not to rock any political boats. Let’s be clear: high-level commissions, also including the Warren Commission and the 9/11 Commission, are usually created to conceal truth, not expose it. So did the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Accident. The film “The Challenger Disaster” walks in the commission’s footsteps.

Beneath the surface of all this is a very dark understory: if the government kills you, it’s up to them to decide how to pitch it to the public and history. I guess I just never bought into that.

Richard C. Cook is a former federal analyst who now teaches meditation at the Lifestream Center in Roanoke, VA, USA. His latest book is “Return of the Aeons: The Planetary Spiritual Ascension.” His websites are www.richardccook.com and www.meditatehealascend.org.

Israel’s Elections Bring ‘Racism’ to the Fore

October 22nd, 2013 by Jonathan Cook

In some parts of Israel, voters in Tuesday’s elections will be casting a ballot not on how well their municipality is run but on how to stop “Arabs” moving in next door, how to prevent mosques being built in their community, or how to “save” Jewish women from the clutches of Arab men.

While the far-right’s rise in Israeli national politics has made headlines, less attention has been paid to how this has played out in day-to-day relations between Israeli Jews and the country’s Palestinian-Arab minority, comprising a fifth of the population.

According to analysts and residents, Israel’s local elections have brought a tide of ugly racism to the fore, especially in a handful of communities known as “mixed cities”, where Jewish and Palestinian citizens live in close proximity.

Jewish parties, including local branches of the ruling Likud party, have adopted openly racist language and fear-mongering suggesting an imminent Muslim takeover of Jewish communities in a bid to win votes.

“Israeli society has become more and more racist, and the candidates are simply reflecting this racism back to voters knowing that it will win them lots of support,” said Mohammed Zeidan, director of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth.

Last week, as electioneering intensified, Salim Joubran, an Arab judge, stepped in to ban adverts by the Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the cities of Karmiel and Tel Aviv.

Joubran, who is the first Arab in Israel’s history to chair the Central Elections Committee, which oversees elections, said the ads were “racist and almost certain to hurt the feelings of Arab Israelis and disrupt public order”.

In doing so, Joubran overruled the advice of the attorney-general, Yehuda Weinstein, who had argued that the committee had no authority to regulate online ads and posters.

‘Gentrifying’ neighbourhoods

Notably, Netanyahu and his ministers have refused to condemn or distance themselves from the campaigns run by their local branches.

In Jaffa, the commercial capital of Palestine before Israel’s creation in 1948 and now a mixed suburb of Tel Aviv, Likud ran ads against local Muslims. A third of Jaffa’s population are Palestinian, but they face increasing pressure to leave under a programme of “gentrifying” neighbourhoods.

One ad – using the slogan “Silence the muezzin in Jaffa? Only Likud can” – echoed threats Netanyahu made in late 2011 to ban mosques from using loudspeakers to call Muslims to prayer.

A Likud party spokeswoman declined to comment on Joubran’s criticisms.

Sheikh Ahmed Abu Ajwa, an imam in Jaffa, said: “This is a racist campaign but we must not forget that those who promote hatred against Muslims and Christians in Jaffa are simply following the lead of the government.

“It is a great impertinence to tell us we need to silence our mosques. We were here – and so were our mosques – long before Israel’s creation. If they don’t like it here, they are welcome to leave.”

Another poster, implying that Palestinian citizens are not loyal to Israel and that Likud would intensify moves to remove them from the city, said the party would “Return Jaffa to Israel”.

Joubran similarly banned a phone ad used by the Likud party in Karmiel, a so-called “Judaisation” city in the Galilee designed to bring Jews to a region with a large Palestinian population.

Jewish residents had received a recorded phone message from someone calling himself “Nabil” inviting them to a fictitious cornerstone-laying ceremony for a new mosque in the town.

Karmiel’s Palestinian residents, believed to number less than 2,000 in a city of 45,000 people, say they have not even proposed that a mosque should be built in the city.

Koren Neuman, head of Karmiel’s Likud electoral list, said the election committee’s decision was unjustified.

“Our message is that we want to keep our city Jewish-Zionist. That, after all, is the mission of the state of Israel. We’re not against anybody. But Karmiel is supposed to be a Jewish city and we must not allow its character to be changed.”

He added that at meetings with voters, “the fear that is raised is that the city will become mixed”, and there would one day be an Arab mayor.

‘Take our women’

Naama Blatman-Thomas, a local political activist, said Jewish parties in Karmiel had resorted to “dirty tricks” in response to the emergence of a joint Jewish-Arab party, Karmiel Rainbow, contesting the council election.

“When I have spoken to Jewish residents, the narrative in their minds is that their city is under threat of a takeover, that the Arabs will take our women, and so on. The views expressed in Karmiel are part of a much wider trend across the Galilee.”

Most communities in Israel are segregated on an ethnic basis.

However, in recent years Palestinians in the Galilee have started migrating to Judaisation cities such as Karmiel in growing numbers because Israeli land policies have deprived their own communities of land for new house construction, said Zeidan.

In rural communities such as the kibbutz and moshav where housing is available, vetting committees have been put in place to ensure housing is off-limits to Palestinian citizens.

But in cities such as Karmiel, homes are available for purchase if Jews will sell to Palestinian citizens. Blatman-Thomas, who is researching segregation policies in Karmiel for her doctorate, said Jews were emigrating from the city because of a shortage of employment opportunities, opening the way to Palestinians from the surrounding towns and villages to buy apartments.

Recent surveys show a strong aversion from many in the Jewish public to living in shared communities. According to the annual Israel Democracy Index, published this month, 48 percent of Jews would not want an Arab neighbour, while 44 percent favoured policies to encourage Palestinian citizens to emigrate from Israel.

Such sentiments have received official backing from municipal rabbis. More than 40 signed a decree in 2010 that Jews must not sell homes to non-Jews.

At that time, Karmiel’s deputy mayor, Oren Milstein, set up an email “hotline” on which residents could inform on Jewish residents who were intending to sell to Palestinian families. Milstein claimed he had managed to stop 30 such sales.

Dov Caller, a spokesman for Karmiel Rainbow, said the city’s attractiveness to Palestinian families in the area was a reflection of the discrimination they faced in their own communities.

“When they have the right to land for development, their own industrial zones, gardens, sports centre and decent schools, then Karmiel won’t be the only option available to them.”

‘Bleeding-hearts’

Similar tensions have erupted in Upper Nazareth, a Judaisation city built in the 1950s to contain the growth of Nazareth, the Biblical city of Jesus’ childhood.

Over the past decade, large numbers of Christians and Muslims have moved into Upper Nazareth, with some estimates suggesting of the city’s 55,000 population a quarter may now be Palestinian citizens, most of them from Nazareth.

The mayor, Shimon Gapso, has erected large Israeli flags at every entrance to the city in the run-up to the election, in a move he said was designed to make clear that Palestinian citizens were not welcome in Upper Nazareth.

Raed Ghattas, one of two Arab members of the local council, said Gapso’s whole election strategy had been based on a hatred of Arabs. “There are four candidates for mayor – for us, it is a matter of which one is the lesser evil. But Gapso is definitely the worst of a bad bunch.”

Earlier this year Gapso issued a pamphlet to residents warning: “This is the time to guard our home! … All requests for foreign characteristics in the city are refused.”

He has rejected building a church or mosque, allowing Christmas trees in public places or, most controversially, building an Arab-language schoolfor the 2,000 Palestinian children in the city.

Gapso stoked tensions further during the election by running a bogus election campaign using posters urging voters to “Throw the mayor out” that quoted prominent Palestinian politicians in Israel denouncing him.

Haneen Zoabi, a parliament member who is running for mayor of neighbouring Nazareth, was quoted as saying: “Upper Nazareth was built on Arab land. We will fight to the end against Shimon Gapso’s racism. [Send] the racist home; Arabs to Upper Nazareth.”

Defending his election campaign in an article in the Haaretz newspaper under the headline “If you think I’m a racist, then Israel is a racist state”, Gapso accused his critics of “hypocrisy and bleeding-heart sanctimoniousness”. The important thing, he wrote, was that his city “retain a Jewish majority and not be swallowed up in the Arab area that surrounds it”.

In another interview, he said: “95 percent of Jewish mayors [in Israel] think the same thing. They’re just afraid to say so out loud”.

 

A New Kind of War Is Being Legalized

October 22nd, 2013 by David Swanson

There’s a dark side to the flurry of reports and testimony on drones, helpful as they are in many ways.  When we read that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch oppose drone strikes that violate international law, some of us may be inclined to interpret that as a declaration that, in fact, drone strikes violate international law.  On the contrary, what these human rights groups mean is that some drone strikes violate the law and some do not, and they want to oppose the ones that do.

Which are which? Even their best researchers can’t tell you.  Human Rights Watch looked into six drone murders in Yemen and concluded that two were illegal and four might be illegal.  The group wants President Obama to explain what the law is (since nobody else can), wants him to comply with it (whatever it is), wants civilians compensated (if anyone can agree who the civilians are and if people can really be compensated for the murder of their loved ones), and wants the U.S. government to investigate itself.  Somehow the notion of prosecuting crimes doesn’t come up.

Amnesty International looks into nine drone strikes in Pakistan, and can’t tell whether any of the nine were legal or illegal.  Amnesty wants the U.S. government to investigate itself, make facts public, compensate victims, explain what the law is, explain who a civilian is, and — remarkably — recommends this: “Where there is sufficient admissible evidence, bring those responsible to justice in public and fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.”  However, this will be a very tough nut to crack, as those responsible for the crimes are being asked to define what is and is not legal.  Amnesty proposes “judicial review of drone strikes,” but a rubber-stamp FISA court for drone murders wouldn’t reduce them, and an independent judiciary assigned to approve of certain drone strikes and not others would certainly approve of some, while inevitably leaving the world less than clear as to why.

The UN special rapporteurs’ reports are perhaps the strongest of the reports churned out this week, although all of the reports provide great information.  The UN will debate drones on Friday.  Congressman Grayson will bring injured child drone victims to Washington on Tuesday (although the U.S. State Department won’t let their lawyer come).  Attention is being brought to the issue, and that’s mostly to the good.  The U.N. reports make some useful points: U.S. drones have killed hundreds of civilians; drones make war the norm rather than an exception; signature strikes are illegal; double-tap strikes (targeting rescuers of a first strike’s victims) are illegal; killing rather than capturing is illegal; imminence (as a term to define a supposed threat) can’t legally be redefined to mean eventual or just barely imaginable; and — most powerfully — threatened by drones is the fundamental right to life.  However, the U.N. reports are so subservient to western lawyer groupthink as to allow that some drone kills are legal and to make the determination of which ones so complex that nobody will ever be able to say — the determination will be political rather than empirical.

The U.N. wants transparency, and I do think that’s a stronger demand than asking for the supposed legal memos that Obama has hidden in a drawer and which supposedly make his drone kills legal.  We don’t need to see that lawyerly contortionism.  Remember Obama’s speech in May at which he claimed that only four of his victims had been American and for one of those four he had invented criteria for himself to meet, even though all available evidence says he didn’t meet those criteria even in that case, and he promised to apply the same criteria to foreigners going forward, sometimes, in certain countries, depending.  Remember the liberal applause for that?  Somehow our demands of President Bush were never that he make a speech.

(And did you see how pleased people were just recently that Obama had kidnapped a man in Libya and interrogated him in secret on a ship in the ocean, eventually bringing him to the U.S. for a trial, because that was a step up from murdering him and his neighbors? Bush policies are now seen as advances.)

We don’t need the memos.  We need the videos, the times, places, names, justifications, casualties, and the video footage of each murder.  That is to say, if the UN is going to give its stamp of approval to a new kind of war but ask for a little token of gratitude, this is what it should be.  But let’s stop for a minute and consider.  The general lawyerly consensus is that killing people with drones is fine if it’s not a case where they could have been captured, it’s not “disproportionate,” it’s not too “collateral,” it’s not too “indiscriminate,” etc., — the calculation being so vague that nobody can measure it.  We’re not wrong to trumpet the good parts of these reports, but let’s be clear that the United Nations, an institution created to eliminate war, is giving its approval to a new kind of war, as long as it’s done properly, and it’s giving its approval in the same reports in which it says that drones threaten to make war the norm and peace the exception.

I hate to be a wet blanket, but that’s stunning.  Drones make war the norm, rather than the exception, and drone murders are going to be deemed legal depending on a variety of immeasurable criteria.  And the penalty for the ones that are illegal is going to be nothing, at least until African nations start doing it, at which point the International Criminal Court will shift into gear.

What is it that makes weaponized drones more humane than land mines, poison gas, cluster bombs, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, and other weapons worth banning?  Are drone missiles more discriminate than cluster bombs (I mean in documented practice, not in theory)?  Are they discriminate enough, even if more discriminate than something else?  Does the ease of using them against anyone anywhere make it possible for them to be “proportionate” and “necessary”?  If some drone killing is legal and other not, and if the best researchers can’t always tell which is which, won’t drone killing continue?  The UN Special Rapporteur says drones threaten to make war the norm. Why risk that? Why not ban weaponized drones?

For those who refuse to accept that the Kellogg Briand Pact bans war, for those who refuse to accept that international law bans murder, don’t we have a choice here between banning weaponized drones or watching weaponized drones proliferate and kill?  Over 99,000 people have signed a petition to ban weaponized drones athttp://BanWeaponizedDrones.org  Maybe we can push that over 100,000 … or 200,000.

It’s always struck me as odd that in civilized, Geneva conventionized, Samantha Powerized war the only crime that gets legalized is murder.  Not torture, or assault, or rape, or theft, or marijuana, or cheating on your taxes, or parking in a handicapped spot — just murder.  But will somebody please explain to me why homicide bombing is not as bad as suicide bombing?

It isn’t strictly true that the suffering is all on one side, anyway.  Just as we learn geography through wars, we learn our drone base locations through blowback, in Afghanistan and just recently in Yemen.  Drones make everyone less safe.  As Malala just pointed out to the Obama family, the drone killing fuels terrorism.  Drones also kill with friendly fire.  Drones, with or without weapons, crash.  A lot.  And drones make the initiation of violence easier, more secretive, and more concentrated.  When sending missiles into Syria was made a big public question, we overwhelmed Congress, which said no.  But missiles are sent into other countries all the time, from drones, and we’re never asked.

We’re going to have to speak up for ourselves.

I’ll be part of a panel discussing this at NYU on Wednesday. See http://NYACT.net

Minneapolis, MN – As JPMorgan Chase reaches a record $13 billion settlement with the Justice Department over its role in the lead-up to the foreclosure crisis, it remains unclear whether this settlement will keep people like Jaymie Kelly in their homes.

$4 billion of the settlement will go to consumer relief, but it’s still not clear where that money would go. $3.3 billion was earmarked for foreclosed homeowners as part of the Independent Foreclosure Review Settlement, which resulted in most homeowners, many of whom had lost their homes, receiving checks of $300 to $500.

“The first priority of the settlement should be to keep people in their homes,” said Jaymie Kelly, who has lived in her south Minneapolis home for 30 years and is now facing imminent eviction by JPMorgan Chase and Freddie Mac. “JPMorgan Chase refused to work with me after I fell behind on a predatory loan, even though I had paid for my home five times over. Now they want to evict me from my home of 30 years. I am not interested in a settlement check. I want a negotiation with principal reduction to stay in my home.”

Kelly, who bought her home in 1983 for $74,900, has paid $425,000 for it over the years. When Chase foreclosed on her, they claimed she still owed $255,000. Instead of modifying her loan, they sold her home to Freddie Mac, which is aggressively pushing to evict.

Kelly is fighting an eviction defense campaign with Occupy Homes MN. On Oct. 8, 150 community members blockaded the sheriff’s attempt to evict her. JPMorgan Chase and Freddie Mac have filed for another eviction order to remove Kelly from her home, but Kelly is not going anywhere.

“No settlement check could make up for the trauma of being forced out of my home of 30 years,” said Kelly. “If this settlement doesn’t keep me in my home, my community will. I am not leaving.”

Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism

October 22nd, 2013 by Illan Pappé

Jews in today’s Israel must reconnect to Jewish heritage before it was distorted by Zionism. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

When the Zionist movement appeared in Eastern Europe in the 1880s, it found it very difficult to persuade the leading rabbis and secular Jewish thinkers of the day to support it.

The leading rabbis saw the political history in the Bible and the idea of Jewish sovereignty on the land of Israel as very marginal topics and were much more concerned, as indeed Judaism as a religion was, with the holy tracts that focused on the relationship between the believers themselves and in particular their relations with God.

Secular liberal or socialist Jews also found the idea of Jewish nationalism unattractive. Liberal Jews hoped that a far more liberal world would solve the problems of persecution and anti-Semitism while avowed socialists and communists wished peoples of all religions, not just the Jews, to be liberated from oppression.

Even the idea of a particular Jewish socialist movement, such as the Bund, was a bizarre one in their eyes. “Zionists who were afraid of seasickness” is how Russian Marxist Georgi Plekhanov called the Bundists when they wanted to join the international communist movement.

The secular Jews who founded the Zionist movement wanted paradoxically both to secularize Jewish life and to use the Bible as a justification for colonizing Palestine; in other words, they did not believe in God but He nonetheless promised them Palestine.

This precarious logic was recognized even by the founder of the Zionist movement himself, Theodore Herzl, who therefore opted for Uganda, rather than Palestine, as the promised land of Zion. It was the pressure of Protestant scholars and politicians of the Bible, especially in Britain, who kept the gravitation of the Zionist movement towards Palestine.

Map of colonization

For them it was a double bill: you get rid of the Jews in Europe, and at the same time you fulfill the divine scheme in which the second coming of the Messiah will be precipitated by the return of the Jews — and their subsequent conversion to Christianity or their roasting in hell should they refuse.

From that moment onwards the Bible became both the justification for, and the map of, the Zionist colonization of Palestine. Hardcore Zionists knew it would not be enough: colonizing the inhabited Palestine would require a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing. But portraying the dispossession of Palestine as the fulfillment of a divine Christian scheme was priceless for galvanizing global Christian support behind Zionism.

The Bible was never taught as a singular text that carried any political or even national connotation in the various Jewish educational systems in either Europe or in the Arab world. What Zionism derogatorily called “Exile” — the fact that the vast majority of Jews lived not in Palestine but communities around the world — was considered by most religious Jews as an imperative existence and the basis for Jewish identity in modern time.

Jews were not asked to do all they can to end the “Exile” — this particular condition could have only been transformed by the will of God and could not be hastened or tampered with by acts such as the one perpetrated by the Zionist movement.

One of the greatest successes of the secular Zionist movement was creating a religious Zionist component that found rabbis willing to legitimize this act of tampering by claiming that the very act itself was proof that God’s will has been done.

These rabbis accepted the secular Zionist idea to turn the Bible into a book that stands by itself and conceded that a superficial knowledge of it became a core of one’s Jewishness even if all the other crucial religious imperatives were ignored.

These were the same rabbis who after the 1967 War used the Bible as both the justification and roadmap for the judaization and de-Arabization of the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem.

Extreme nationalism

In the 1990s the two movements — the one that does not believe in God and the one that impatiently decides to do His work — have fused into a lethal mixture of religious fanaticism with extreme nationalism. This alliance formed in the Israeli crucible is mirrored among Israel’s Jewish supporters around the world.

And yet this development has not completely eclipsed the very same Jewish groups that rejected Zionism when it first appeared in the late nineteenth century: those who are called in Israel the Ultra-Orthodox Jews — abhorred and detested in particular by liberal Zionists — and purely secular Jews who feel alien in the kind of “Jewish State” Israel became.

A small number of the former — for example Neturei Karta — even profess allegiance to the Palestine Liberation Organization, while the vast majority of the Ultra-Orthodox express their anti-Zionism without necessarily offering support for Palestinian rights.

Meanwhile, some of the secular Jews try to relive the dreams of their European and Arab grandparents in the pre-Zionist era: that group of people made their way as individuals, and not as a collective, in the various societies they found themselves in; more often than not injecting cosmopolitan, pluralist and multicultural ideas if they were gifted enough to write or teach about them.

This new, and I should say inevitable, religious-nationalist mixture that now informs the Jewish society in Israel has also caused a large and significant number of young American Jews, and Jews elsewhere in the world, to distance themselves from Israel. This trend has become so significant that it seems that Israeli policy today relies more on Christian Zionists than on loyal Jews.

It is possible, and indeed necessary, to reaffirm the pluralist non-Zionist ways of professing one’s relationship with Judaism; in fact this is the only road open to us if we wish to seek an equitable and just solution in Palestine. Whether Jews want to live there as Orthodox Jews — something that was always tolerated and respected in the Arab and Muslim worlds — or build together with like-minded Palestinians, locals and refugees, a more secular society, their presence in today’s Palestine is not by itself an obstacle to justice or peace.

Whatever your ethnicity is, you can contribute to the making of a society based on continued dialogue between religion and secularism as well as between the third generation of settlers and the native population in a decolonizing state.

Like all the other societies of the Arab world this one too would strive to find the bridge between past heritage and future visions. Its dilemmas will be the same as those which are now informing everyone who lives in the Arab world, in the heart of which lies the land of Palestine.

The society in Palestine and present-day Israel cannot deal with these issues in isolation from the rest of the Arab world, and neither can any other Arab nation-state created by the colonialist agreements forged in the wake of the First World War.

Distorted

For the Jews in today’s Israel to be part of a new, just and peaceful Palestine, there is an imperative to reconnect to the Jewish heritage before it was corrupted and distorted by Zionism. The fact that this distorted version is presented in some circles in the west as the face of Judaism itself is yet another rotten fruit of the wish of some of the victims of nationalist criminality — as the Jews were in central and Eastern Europe — to become such criminals themselves.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are what believers choose them to be. In pre-Zionist Palestine, the choice was for living together in the same towns and villages in one complete existence. In the turn of the twentieth century, it was even moving faster towards a more relaxed way of living. But alas, that was the path not taken.

We should not lose hope that this is still possible in the future. We need to reclaim Judaism and extract it from the hands of the “Jewish State” as a first step towards building a joint place for those who lived and want to live there in the future.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misattributed the quotation “Zionists who were afraid of seasickness” to Leon Trotsky rather than Georgi Plekhanov. It has since been corrected.

The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is professor of history and director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.