There is no need to sequester funds urgently needed by Main Street to pay for Wall Street’s malfeasance. Californians can have their cake and eat it too – with a state-owned bank.

Governor Jerry Brown is aggressively pushing a California state constitutional amendment requiring budget surpluses to be used to pay down municipal debt and create an emergency “rainy day” fund, in anticipation of the next economic crisis.

On the face of it, it is a sensible idea. As long as Wall Street controls America’s finances and our economy, another catastrophic bust is a good bet.

But a rainy day fund takes money off the table, setting aside funds we need now to reverse the damage done by Wall Street’s last collapse. The brutal cuts of 2008 and 2009 shrank the middle class and gave California the highest poverty rate in the country.

The costs of Wall Street gambling are being thrust on its primary victims. We are given the choice of restoring much-needed services or maintaining austerity conditions in order to pay Wall Street the next time it brings down the economy.

There is another alternative – one that California got very close to implementing in 2011, before Jerry Brown vetoed the bill. AB750, a bill for a feasibility study for a state-owned bank, passed both houses of the state legislature but the governor refused to sign it. He said the study could be done by the Assembly and Senate Banking Committees in-house; but 2-1/2 years later, no further action has been taken on it.

Having a state-owned bank can substitute for a rainy day fund. Banks don’t need rainy day funds, because they have cheap credit lines with other banks. Today those credit lines are at the extremely low Fed funds rate of 0.25%. A state with its own bank can take advantage of this nearly-interest-free credit line not only for emergencies but tocut its long-term financing costs in half.

That is not just California dreaming. There is already a highly successful precedent for the approach. North Dakota is the only state with its own state-owned depository bank, and the only state to fully escape the credit crisis. It has boasted a budget surplus every year since 2008, and its 2.6% unemployment rate is the lowest in the country. Contrast that to California’s, one of the highest.

In a 2009 interview, Bank of North Dakota President Eric Hardmeyer stated that when the dot-com bust caused North Dakota to go over-budget in 2001-02, the bank did act as a rainy day fund for the state. To make up the budget shortfall, the bank declared an extra dividend for the state (its owner),  and the next year the budget was back on track. No massive debt accumulation, no Wall Street bid-rigging, no fraudulent interest-rate swaps, no bond vigilantes, no capital appreciation bonds at 300% interest.

California already has a surfeit of surplus funds tucked around the state, which can be identified in state and local Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs). Clint Richardson, who has made an exhaustive study of California’s CAFR, writes that he has located nearly $600 billion in these funds. California’s surplus funds include those in a Pooled Money Investment Account managed by the state treasurer, which currently contains  $54 billion earning a mere 0.24% interest – almost nothing.

The money in these surplus funds is earmarked for particular purposes, so it cannot be spent on the state budget. However, it can be invested. A small portion could be invested as capital in the state’s own bank, where it could earn a significantly better return than it is getting now. The Bank of North Dakota has had a return on equity ranging between 17% and 26% every year since 2008.

California has massive potential capital and deposit bases, which could be leveraged into credit, as all banks do. The Bank of England just formally admitted in its quarterly bulletin that banks don’t lend their deposits. They simply advance credit created on their books. The deposits remain in demand accounts, available as needed by the depositors (in this case the state).

The Wall Street megabanks in which California invests and deposits its money are not using this massive credit power to develop California’s economy. Rather, they are using it to reap short-term profits for their own accounts – much of it extremely short-term, “earned” by skimming profits through computerized high-frequency program trading. Meanwhile, Wall Street is sucking massive sums in interest, fees, and interest rate swap payments out of California and into offshore tax havens.

Rather than setting aside our hard-earned surplus to pay the piper on demand, we could be using it to create the credit necessary to establish our own economic independence. California is the ninth largest economy in the world, and the world looks to us for creative leadership.

“As goes California, so goes the nation.” We can lead the states down the path of debt peonage, or we can be a model for establishing state economic sovereignty.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

Ukraine: America In Search of a Good War

May 6th, 2014 by David Swanson

The U.S. public is not longing for a U.S. war in Ukraine.

Seven percent want military options considered (poll by McClatchy-Marist, April 7-10), up from six percent a bit earlier (Pew, March 20-23), or 12 percent for U.S. ground troops and 17 percent for air strikes (CNN, March 7-9).

Polling is similar on U.S. desire for a war with Iran, or for U.S. military involvement in Syria.  Many more Americans believe in ghosts and UFOs, according to the polls, than believe that these would be good wars.

The U.S. public never got behind the war on Libya, and for years a majority has said that the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan never should have been launched.

The search for a good war is beginning to look as futile as the search for the mythical city of El Dorado.  And yet that search remains our top public project.

The U.S. military swallows 55.2 percent of federal discretionary spending, according to the National Priorities Project. Televised U.S. sporting events thank members of the military for watching from 175 nations. U.S. aircraft carriers patrol the world’s seas. U.S. drones buzz the skies of nations thousands of miles from our shores.

No other nation spends remotely comparable funds on militarism, and much of what the United States buys has no defensive purpose — unless “defense” is understood as deterrence or preemption or, indeed, aggression.  As the world’s number one supplier of weapons to other nations, ours may be said to extend its search for a good war beyond its own affairs as well.

A 2006 National Intelligence Estimate found that U.S. wars were generating anti-U.S. sentiment.  Former military officials, including Stanley McChrystal, say drone strikes are producing more enemies than they are killing.  A WIN/Gallup poll of 65 nations at the end of 2013 found the U.S. far ahead of any other as the nation people believed was the greatest threat to peace in the world.

It is the ethics of a coward to believe that safety justifies all, but of a fool to commit immoral acts that actually endanger oneself.  And what is more immoral than modern wars, with deaths and injuries so massive, so one-sided, and so heavily civilian?

Military spending produces fewer jobs than spending on education or infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people, according to studies by the Political Economy Research Institute.  It is the ethics of a sociopath to justify killing for economic gain, but of a fool to do so for economic loss.

The military is our top consumer of petroleum and creator of superfund sites, in addition to being the hole into which we sink the funds that could address the real danger of climate change.

War justifies secrecy and the erosion of liberties: warrantless surveillance, lawless imprisonment, torture, and assassination, even as wars are marketed as defending “freedom.”

And of course the maintenance of nuclear and other weapons for war risks intentional or accidental catastrophe.

The downsides to war, even for an aggressor nation with overwhelming fire power, are voluminous.  The upside would seem to be that if we keep fighting wars, one of them might turn out to be a good one.

But ask people to name a good war, and most will go back 73 years to World War II.  A few will express badly misinformed views about Yugoslavia or Rwanda, but most will focus right in on Adolf Hitler.  Think about that.  Our top public project for the past three-quarters of a century has to go back that far to find a popular example of its use.

We live in a vastly changed world, and public opinion reflects that.  The power of nonviolent action to resist tyranny and injustice is dramatically more realized, as is understanding of nonviolent conflict resolution and wise conflict avoidance.

Winston Churchill called World War II “the Unnecessary War” claiming that “there was never a war more easy to stop.”  That war would not have happened without World War I, which nobody claims was itself unavoidable.

Just as the U.S. sells weapons to abusive nations today and prioritizes militarism over aid to refugees, Western nations helped fund the rise of the Nazis and refused to accept Jewish refugees.  There are ways to prevent situations from ever reaching the point of war.

Or rather there would be if we weren’t so invested in the military industrial complex of whose “total influence” President Dwight Eisenhower warned.

David Swanson‘s books include War No More: The Case for Abolition and projects include WorldBeyondWar.org.

There is no evidence of Russia’s involvement in the Friday massacre in Odessa, US Ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt had to admit Sunday as he spoke by telephone on a CNN program. “We don’t have evidence of the Russian role in the tragedy that transpired on Friday”, Pyatt said, answering the anchor’s downright question on whether Moscow was what’s been widely dubbed as the bloodiest day in the Ukrainian crisis.

US Ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt has said earlier today there’s no evidence of Russia’s involvement in the Friday’s massacre in Odessa. Do you think it could be a sign the West starts to reevaluate Russia’s role in the Ukrainian events?

Unfortunately, not. All the news I get is that the Western position is hardening. They are supporting the illegal government in Kiev with all its actions and there is a double-tongued policy when the Yanukovich government tried to restore order, there was a blast from the West side. And now we have in fact fascist groups being incorporated in a so-called anti-terror mission, which is for my feeling a terror mission against the people’s defense forces, for example, in Slavyansk, and Odessa as well. And that means we have a double-standard policy in the West which is so crazy now because it is very aggressive and the aggression is not only against the Ukrainian people. The aggression is directed against Russia. That must be clear.

Over the weekend it was reported in both the Guardian and the BBC some very interesting language. The language that they used was very ambiguous. They didn’t want to place any blame on actually who was throwing the Molotov cocktails. In the videos that we can see people were actually shouting some of the neo-Nazi slogans that they are known for and yet according to the BBC nobody knows who actually did it or even better Russians themselves threw the Molotov cocktails into the building and burn themselves up because they were trying to make a point, which I don’t know what point they are trying to make. But it is a very strange phenomenon. What is your opinion on that?

Spiegel reported on the mass killings in Odessa, which are gruesome, terrible, uncivilized and yet the West is not answering to that challenge, that this was happening in the Labor Union House. Now Spiegel in Germany is the post influential paper and website. They said that was a house, they didn’t say which kind of house. They didn’t say it was a Labor Union House. Do you think there was any reaction from the Labor Union that in their House the mass murder has been achieved by Nazi forces? No, nothing. So, this is the situation we have.

My feeling is that the West is now trying to push down Russia at a time when they feel, this is not a European story, this is enforced from Washington on Europe, if they kick Russia right now, they might have a better chance that in one year or two years because Russia obviously is developing very well and too well for Washington’s feeling, and what is more, the very good relation between Russia and Europe is something which is in fact adverse to present Washington interests. And that is a very dangerous situation.

Now they are creating this kind of bloodletting in Ukraine. They try to blame it on Russia and the problem with Russia is that in this kind of fighting, Russia is not strong enough in the media. Fortunately we have RIA Novosti, fortunately we have Voice of Russia. Fortunately we do have Russia Today but that is not enough to tell the people who are definitely completely misinformed by our media on the real situation in Ukraine, to wake them up and make them withdraw their political support of these warmongers sitting in Berlin, Paris and London today and of course mainly in Washington. That is the danger of the situation and that is how I interpret this kind of complete mispresentations of news happening in Ukraine.

Yesterday, Germany’s Bild newspaper reported that US CIA and FBI agents are consulting Kiev authorities on its crackdown on pro-autonomy activists in eastern Ukraine. What do you make of it? Do you think it could really be the case?

We have very credible news that the foreign Maidan story a few weeks ago was in fact directed from the US Embassy and for insiders in politics this is not news at all. This is very boring. People are making jokes why there is no revolution in the US and no regime change. The reason is very simple, there is no American Embassy in the US. What we see here is Maidan leaders were staying for hours each and every day in the US Embassy.

There is a huge population of CIA agents right now busy in Ukraine and the problem is again that in all these things that happened Washington is accusing Russia of having agents in Ukraine while it is the other way around. So, my interpretation of this is we have in fact a pre-running media war with lying against Russia and this is just a cover-up for a kind of economic war that is going on. They are pushing down the ruble, they are pushing down the important economic activities, they are trying to hurt Russia financially, economically, and that is all we can do very efficiently from the Western side to push down Russia because that is what we are talking about and that is being done already. So, they are getting more bloodletting in Ukraine through the agents, through spending more money.

McCain has just called yesterday for 100 million dollars military aid and be sure this is not for the defense of Ukraine against anybody coming from outside. This is in fact meant to foster civil war in the Ukraine against their own population. We had The New York Times reporting that in Slavyansk where the mass killings started, there is no Russians inside peoples’ defense force. So, what else do we need?

Read more: Ukraine’s security service denies consultations with CIA

President Barack Obama speaks to reporters about possible US action against Syria during a meeting with the leaders of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania at the White House in Washington, August 30, 2013. Obama said he was considering a “limited” attack and Secretary of State John Kerry earlier declared there was “clear” and “compelling” evidence that the Syrian government had used poison gas against its citizens. (Photo: Christopher Gregory / The New York Times)

Eight months after an August 21 attack in the Damascus suburbs, the assumption that it was a Syrian government-sponsored attack continues to dominate discussion of the issue. But significant new information has become available that makes an attack by opposition forces far more plausible than appeared to be the case in the first weeks after the event.

Seymour Hersh’s revelation in an early April article in the London Review of Booksthat the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had collected intelligence on a Jabhat al-Nusra cell working on a sarin weapons capability was far from being definitive evidence of a plot by jihadist groups to mount a false-flag sarin attack.

But the totality of the new information has eliminated or cast doubt on the major arguments that were advanced by the Obama administration and others in the aftermath as to why the attack must have been carried out by the Syrian regime. The new information suggests a much less lethal attack with munitions that were less effective and perhaps even using much less sarin than was initially assumed.

The “Smoking Guns” That Failed

The debate over the August 21 attacks has focused primarily on a series of assertions about “smoking guns” that allegedly proved Syrian government guilt. The first – and best known – of those “smoking guns” was the generally accepted belief that the rockets said to have delivered the sarin must have originated in a government-controlled area. The United Nations investigating team’s initial report, issued on September 16, gauged the angle of one rocket’s impact in Zamalka and its arc without reporting explicitly on its launch point. But Human Rights Watch immediately showed that the trajectory led to the Syrian Army Republican Guard 106th Brigade’s Base 9.6 km away. And it calculated that the UN report’s bearings for two other impact points in Moamadiyah showed trajectories ending in the same Syrian army base.

Those calculations depended on the assumption that the ranges of the rockets in question were more than 9 kilometers. But within weeks, a rocket specialist blogger at the website Who Attacked Ghouta, going by the name “Sasa Wawa,” had concluded that the maximum range of the rockets that hit Zamalka was 2.5 kilometers. And former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd and weapons analyst Theodore A. Postol of MIT determined that the maximum range of the previously unknown rockets that landed in Zamalka would have been 2 kilometers or 1.2 miles. In his press conference on the release of the second UN investigation report in December, the head of the UN investigating team, Ake Sellstrom, agreed that the estimate of 2 kilometers “could be a fair guess” for the maximum range of the rockets.

The debate over the August 21 attacks has focused primarily on a series of assertions about “smoking guns” that allegedly proved Syrian government guilt.

Blogger Eliot Higgins – better known as “Brown Moses” – who has achieved the status of favorite news media source on munitions issues in Syria, has argued in recent months that the rockets must have been fired from in or near the Jobar-Qaboun industrial zone, wedged in between Jobar and Qabun neighborhoods, which is between 2.2. and 2.5 km from the farthest impact points in Zamalka, over which he claimed the government had control. Still later, Higgins pinpointed an area near the cloverleaf east of that zone over which, he said, government had exercised control through a series of checkpoints.

But apart from the fact that those sites are all farther away from the impact sites than current research supports, the Higgins argument suffers from an additional problem: Charles Wood, a Perth, Australia-based forensic expert who has studied the military situation in that area at the time of the August 21 attack, told Inter Press Service (IPS) that, far from being government-controlled, the entire area in and around the industrial zone was actually thoroughly infiltrated by the rebels through tunnels they had built into the area. Based on videos posted by the rebels themselves, Wood said the rebels had fought off a government attack on a position in the area pinpointed by Higgins on August 21. He also pointed out that, three days later, the insurgents carried out a chemical IED attack against one of the government checkpoints very near the open field from which Higgins says the attack was launched.

The rocket found in Moadamiyah on the morning of August 21 was a BM-14 440 mm rocket manufactured in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. UN inspectors were taken to the scene where the BM-14 rocket hit and were told that it had killed everyone in an adjoining apartment. The BM-14 rocket was known to have a range of 9.8 km, so it was certainly capable of delivering an attack from the army base to Moadamiyah.

There is very serious question, however, whether that rocket actually held sarin. Of five swipes taken in the bedroom where an entire family was said to have perished in the attack, only one showed any trace of sarin or byproducts in the lab results from one of the labs, and none of them registered any trace of sarin or byproducts in the other laboratory’s test results. There were traces of sarin found on various items, including metal fragments sampled outside the building near the impact point. But the UN report complains about the fact that evidence had been moved and that the site may have been “manipulated.”

A second “smoking gun” was the discovery of traces of a form of hexamine (hexamethylenetetramine) that can be used as a stabilizer in sarin production, in some of the samples taken at rocket impact sites. UK-based chemical weapons analyst Dan Kaszeta noticed that the official Syrian declaration of chemical weapons listed 80 tons of hexamine and concluded that that combination of facts indicated government culpability. The head of the UN investigating team, Ake Sellstrom of Sweden, referred to the form of hexamine as being in Syria’s “formula” and as “their acid scavenger” in a portion of the interview with Gwyn Winfield, the editor of CBRNe World that was not published in the February 2014 issue due to lack of space, according to Kaszeta. (CBRN stands for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense.)

But further research revealed that hexamine is also used to make explosives, and a form of hexamine was found on a swipe taken from the central tube of one of the rockets – the location of the explosive in the rockets. Mark Bishop, who teaches chemistry at Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey, California and is the author of a college textbook on the subject, told Truthout he believes the presence of hexamethylenetetramine most likely means that it was an impurity formed in the making of the explosive.

The incriminating 80 tons of hexamine declared by the Syrian government to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) also turned out to have an another explanation: It is also used as a stabilizer for the form of mustard gas found in the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.

The rockets would not have been difficult to duplicate.

The main argument that the attack had to be launched by the Syrian government was that the government alone possessed the 330 mm rockets with a long barrel and tail fins called “Volcanos” that were found at the sites of the attack and had used such weapons before August 21. That was misleading, however: The rockets that government forces had used, from late 2012 on, had been configured for high explosives, and none of the alleged chemical attacks involved that type of rocket.

The question is whether the rebels could have copied the type of rocket that had been used by the Syrian army over the previous year and made adjustments for chemical use. Certainly, the rebels had access to the remnants of the rockets configured for high explosives and white phosphorous payloads, as well as videos showing the intact rockets.

The rockets would not have been difficult to duplicate, according to Postol and Lloyd, based on both their own personal experience and video evidence. Postol recalled in an interview with Truthout that he had personally constructed comparable devices in his own machine shop as a graduate student. Lloyd pointed out in a separate interview that videos show that the insurgents had “production lines” for rockets. “I have pictures showing 40 to 60 rockets stacked in a row, with people working on the tail assemblies,” he said.

Who Had the Capability to Make Sarin?

After Seymour Hersh reported April 6 that DIA analysts had compiled a highly classified five-page “talking points” brief for Deputy Director David Shed in June 2013, outlining the intelligence indicating that Al Nusra had a Sarin production cell, the possibility of an opposition sarin program could not longer be dismissed out of hand.

The intelligence paper, from which Hersh was able to quote extensively, referred to intelligence reports from various agencies that Turkey- and Saudi-based “chemical facilitators” were attempting to obtain the “precursors” for sarin in quantities of tens of kilograms, prompting speculation about plans for “large-scale production” in Syria. It cited the reported plan of al Nustra’s “emir for military manufacturing for two associates to ‘perfect a process for making sarin, then go to Syria to train others to begin large-scale production at an unidentified lab in Syria.’”

The argument for Syrian government culpability has not been that the rebels could not make sarin, but that they would never be able to make enough of it.

The spokesperson for the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, issued what appeared to be a denial of the DIA document but was not. “No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts,” the spokesperson said. But Hersh had not suggested that the paper had been “requested” or “produced” by “community analysts” – a term reserved for intelligence assessments arrived by a process coordinated by the office of the DNI.

A former intelligence official told Truthout he recalls papers such as the one described by Hersh being issued by DIA. “They were called talking points papers,” he said. Such papers were used to brief not only the top officials of the agency, but the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he said. “This one would have gone to Chairman [General Martin] Dempsey.”

The argument for Syrian government culpability has not been that the rebels could not make sarin, but that they would never be able to make enough of it. In a Foreign Policy magazine article by Higgins, Kaszeta compared the sarin requirements of the August 21 attack with the sarin program of the Japanese terrorist group Aum Ashinryko, which attacked the Tokyo subway system with sarin in 1995. “Even if the Aug. 21 attack is limited to the eight volcano rockets that we seem to be talking about,” said Kaszeta, “we’re looking at an industrial effort two orders of magnitude larger than the Aum Shinrikyo effort.”

But a study of the Aum Shinryko’s weapons programs, published by the pro-military think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS), shows that the Aum Shinryko facility in which sarin was to be made was intended to be a major factory for the production of as much as 70 tons of sarin. That would have been orders of magnitude greater than the largest amount that anyone has suggested might have been used in the August 21 attack. On the other hand, the CNAS account shows that the lab actually achieved a production of 40-50 liters of sarin within roughly a year, and with a minimal staff.

Kaszeta has estimated that as much as a ton of sarin may have been used in the attack, based on an old US military manual for planning a battlefield attack to achieve sufficient casualties – an amount presumed to be beyond the capability of the Syrian opposition. Postol and Lloyd have estimated, on the other hand, that 600 liters of sarin would have been required to launch the attack on August 21, based on a total capacity of 50 liters of sarin for each rocket and a total of 12 rockets.

That estimate was based on the volume of the rockets, which can hold roughly 50 liters of liquid. Postol told Truthout he believes they must have been fully loaded, because loading them only partially could have resulted in the rockets being unstable and “tumbling,” rather than traveling their full range.

But sarin is soluble in water, and if the pH of the water is neutral (i.e., pH=7), the sarin does not break down for roughly 5.4 hours, according to a 2002 article in the journal Critical Care Medicine. That means that each rocket could have contained as little as 5 to 10 liters of sarin mixed with 40 to 45 liters of water, thus reducing the total amount of sarin used in the attack to as little as 60 liters – the same order of magnitude of Sarin as produced by the clandestine Aum Shinryko laboratory.

How Lethal Was the Attack?

The use of a water solution to fill the rockets would have dramatically reduced the lethality of the attack compared with what has been widely assumed and would help explain anomalies in the data published in the UN investigation report that have puzzled chemical weapons experts. The data gathered by the UN team from a few dozen survivors showed that most of those claiming to have been most heavily exposed to sarin failed to present symptoms that would be expected from such exposure.

The UN team reported that the investigating team had asked an opposition leader to help identify a total of 80 people “who had been badly hurt but had survived.” The opposition leader chose the doctors who in turn identified the patients to be interviewed. The 36 individuals ultimately selected for detailed profiles of symptoms described themselves as among the most seriously exposed to sarin. Thirty of those 36 reported rocket strikes either on or near their homes. The remaining six said they had gone to a point of impact to help those suffering from the attack.

The UN report states that the data on symptoms collected on the 36 individuals are “consistent with organophosphate intoxication.” But both Kaszeta and Dr. Abbas Faroutan, who treated Iranian victims of Iraqi nerve gas attacks, have pointed to serious irregularities in the symptoms reported by these people.

Twenty-eight of the 36 victims – nearly four-fifths of the sample – said they had experienced loss of consciousness, according to the UN report. The second most frequent symptom was difficulty breathing, which was reported by 22 of the 36, followed by blurred vision, which 15 of them suffered. But only five of the 36 reported miosis, or constricted pupils.

Kaszeta explained to Truthout that miosis is the most basic and reliable indicator of nerve gas poisoning. And according to the 2002 Critical Care Medicine article, exposure of only 1 mg of sarin per cubic meter for as little as 3 minutes would have caused miosis. Yet it was the least prevalent symptom among these people claiming to have been very seriously exposed to sarin. Faroutan noted that the data were “not logical.”

“The objective was not to kill people, but to terrify people.”

Even stranger, seven of the 36 victims told investigators they had lost a combined total of 39 members of their immediate families killed in buildings they said were either points of impact of the rockets or only 20 meters (64 feet) away from one. Yet only one of the seven exhibited the most common symptom of exposure to sarin – the constriction of pupils – and only one reported nausea and vomiting.

The UN team found that six people who claimed high levels of exposure had no trace of sarin in their blood, but the rest all showed evidence of exposure to sarin. The fact that all but seven of them failed to exhibit the most basic sign of such exposure suggests that the amount of sarin to which they were exposed was extremely low. After comparing the data on the 36 survivors with comparable data on survivors of the Tokyo sarin attack, Kaszeta told Truthout that the people interviewed and evaluated by the UN “didn’t have serious exposure” to nerve gas.

The UN investigating team itself apparently came to a similar conclusion about the survivors who had supposedly experienced the most serious exposure to Sarin. The head of the UN Investigating team, Ake Sellstrom, appeared to suggest in a February 2014 interview with Gwyn Winfield, the editor of the CBRNe World Magazine, that many of the survivors to whom they had been steered by the opposition had merely imagined that they had been victims of sarin. “In any theater of war,” he told Winfield, “people will claim they are intoxicated. We saw it in Palestine, Afghanistan and everywhere else.”

The individuals claiming to have been victims of sarin were not necessarily falsifying their testimony. The symptoms they described were consistent with those associated with conventional weapons such as smoke and tear gas munitions known to be used by the Syrian military.

Another factor may also help to explain the evidence from the UN investigating team’s report indicating that the August 21 attack was much less lethal than was claimed by the opposition and the Obama administration. In research that has not yet been published but that the researchers have described to Truthout, Postol and Lloyd discovered that the amount of explosive in the rocket used to disperse the sarin may have been much smaller than they had originally assumed. The resulting explosion, they concluded, would not have created the large, dense cloud of droplets in the air that would normally characterize a sarin attack. Instead, the rocket would have dispensed a puddle of sarin on the ground that would then have evaporated into a much smaller and less dense plume of sarin.

They carried out computer simulations on the ground effects of the plumes that would have been created by such a rocket. They concluded that such a plume could still be lethal, but would result in much higher numbers of people who survived than who died – contrary to the usual pattern in a sarin attack.

Because of the new information about the attack, Postol now suspects that the attack was not planned to have the highest possible level of lethality – regardless of who was responsible. “The objective was not to kill people, but to terrify people,” he told Truthout. “Or it was to look as much like the Syrian government [attacking] as possible.”

The UN team found evidence that the total number of victims being claimed by the opposition was also exaggerated. Sellstrom told Winfield that the figures presented to the team by hospital administrators at the two hospitals it had visited could not possibly have been accurate. “[I]t is impossible that they could have turned over that amount of people they claim they did,” declared Sellstrom.

The Obama administration’s use of the figure of 1,429 fatalities in the August 21 attack in its August 30 intelligence summary has always been suspect. Despite the Obama administration’s claim that the figure was derived from a complicated methodology for counting bodies in videos and still pictures, the head of the independent, UK-based anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Rami Abdurrahman, told Associated Press that US officials had not consulted SOHR about the total casualty figure. Abdurrahman said US officials were “working with only one part of the opposition that is deep in propaganda”.

Capabilities vs. Motive

What is now known about the attack makes it highly questionable that only the government side had the capability to carry out the August 21 attack. The exaggerated numbers of sarin patients admitted by hospitals, the dubious data on symptoms from those supposedly most affected, and the new evidence that the attack was much less lethal than believed at first are all consistent with a sarin attack that a determined rebel group such as Al Nusra could have carried out.

The UN team’s Sellstrom was not convinced that only the regime had the capability to carry out the attack. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Sellstrom said he believes both sides in the conflict had the “opportunity” and the “capability” to “carry out chemical weapons attacks.”

It was always easier to see the capability of the Syrian government to mount such an attack, but it was also easier to see the opposition’s motive for doing so. The rebels would have benefited dramatically from US military intervention in response to an ostensible crossing of the “red line” Obama had publicly adopted in August 2012. The opposition had charged the Syrian military with using chemical weapons repeatedly beginning in December 2012, with the obvious hope of provoking a major US military response.

The only motive attributed to support the argument of the Syrian regime’s guilt is that it was allegedly losing the war, especially around Damascus, and therefore used chemical weapons out of desperation. But the two-page assessment issued by the British Joint Intelligence Organisation August 29 appeared to contradict that argument. “There is no obvious political or military trigger,” it said, “for regime use of Chemical War on an apparently larger scale now, particularly given the current presence of the UN investigating team.”

Even more puzzling, were it the guilty party, was the Syrian regime’s agreeing within 24 hours of the United Nations request to allow UN investigators to have access to the areas where it was being accused of having launched sarin attacks, thus allowing the UN to take samples for traces of sarin.

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Ukrainian radicals have put a bounty out on RT stringer Graham Phillips, who is currently working in the east of the country. Also a camera-man working for RT in Odessa has been informed about being on the radicals’ radar.

“Myself I have received threats putting a bounty on my head to be kidnapped and that has been offered from [the city of] Dnepropetrovsk, as I understand, connected to the Right Sector,” Graham Phillips confirmed while reporting live from the city of Slavyansk.

The Right Sector reportedly offered $10,000 for the capture of “a Russian spy.”

The ultra-nationalists also have a cameraman working for RT in the violence-gripped city of Odessa on their radar, RT’s Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan confirmed in a statement.

“Our camera-man-stringer in Odessa received a call from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). [They] said that he is now on the radar of the Right Sector. [His] former colleagues gave him up. SBU said that the Right Sector now has all his phone numbers and addresses. They gave him up for his anti-Maidan views which he never kept secret,” Simonyan posted on her Twitter.

RT’s Editor-in-Chief’s statement comes after the channel’s correspondent Irina Galushko said on her Twitter that the camera-man she is working with had received threats.

On May, 4, RT’s correspondent posted:

Foreign journalists working in Ukraine have been subject to an unfolding witch-hunt in Ukraine with assaults and intimidation of reporters intensifying recently.

In one of the latest incidents Lifenews journalists Julia Shustraya and Mikhail Pudovkin, were abducted by armed Ukrainian Security Service members, after they filmed an interview with one of the leaders of the pro-federalization movement in Ukraine. They were detained and later deported to Russia.

On April 21, Simon Ostrovsky, a journalist for the New York-based Vice News, was also detained by self-defense forces in Slavyansk. He was held captive for three days and questioned. He was then released.

Several days after, on April, 24, the SBU said a Russian and a Belorussian national, both employees of the Russian NTV channel have been detained in the city of Pershotravensk in the Dnipropetrovsk region.

On April, 26, the heads of Russia’s major TV corporations, including RT, called on human rights organizations to “defend the professional rights of journalists working in Ukraine.”

“Ukraine’s Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk and other regions are witnessing the ruthless suppression of civil liberties on a daily basis. Journalists are being threatened with their lives if they continue to report from Ukraine,” the letter reads, signed by the heads of All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), NTV, REN TV, Channel 5, RT and News Media.

“The new Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly taken illegal actions barring our staff journalists covering the Ukraine crisis from performing their professional duties and violating their human dignity,” the letter said.

On May 4, Fars News headlined “S. Arabia Relocating Takfiri Fighters from Syria to Ukraine.”

It sent extremist militants against Eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters. An unidentified Arab security official told Fars News:

“A large number of terrorist Takfiri fighters in Syria, who bear Saudi and Chechnian nationalities and receive financial and military backup from the Saudi intelligence agency, have been transferred to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on several planes to help the Ukrainian army in its fight against the pro-Russian population.”

“The forces have been immediately dispatched to Kramatosk city in Eastern Ukraine, and are now fighting beside the Ukrainian army forces against the pro-Russians under the name of militias who support the government.”

Saudi Arabia seeks revenge, said Fars News. It wants Moscow punished for supporting Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

Last July, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan visited Moscow. He tried bribing Vladimir Putin.

In return for billions of dollars in Russian arms purchases and other economic incentives, he wanted him to stop supporting Assad.

He chose the wrong leader. Putin isn’t for sale. He rejected Bandar’s blood money. He diplomatically said no deal.

According to Fars News:

He acted responsibly. He “redoubled his support for the Syrian government in response to Bandar’s blend of bribes and warnings.”

He “issued his own thinly veiled threats against the Saudis.” They have large oil reserves and huge wealth “soft power.”

Russia has formidable “hard power.” It’s a force to be reckoned with. Targeting it irresponsibly risks retaliatory toughness.

Slapping down Saudi ruthlessness is long overdue. Whether getting involved in Ukraine angers Moscow enough to do it remains to be seen.

On May 5, Itar Tass headlined “Ukrainian troops resume military action in eastern regions.”

On a Slovyansk to Donetsk highway near Semyonovka village, fighting raged between special Kiev National Guard task units and activist self-defense forces.

Overnight reports said four armored vehicles attacked a checkpoint. They advanced toward Donetsk. According to its People’s Republic spokesman Alexander Maltsev: “All Kostyantynivka is on fire.”

Donetsk defense coordinator Vasily Kiselyov said activists couldn’t stop them.

Self-defense forces occupied Donetsk’s State Security Service and executive committee office. They did so without opposition. The city’s administration head expressed willingness to dialogue.

Freedom fighters operate in over a dozen Eastern Ukrainian cities. Ukrainian military forces and neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs oppose them.

On Sunday, May 11, a Donetsk referendum is planned. Residents will be asked one question:

“Do you support the act of independence of the Donetsk Republic?”  Yes or no.

On May 5, Ukrainian forces attacked Slovyansk. Twenty or more deaths were reported. So were dozens of injuries.

Slovyanstk city hospital treated seven wounded self-defense fighters. Two couldn’t be saved. They succumbed to severe gunshot injuries.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said four of its troops were killed. Around 30 others were injured. Civilian casualties were reported.

RT International’s Paula Slier twittered:

“Dead woman brought into hospital  & doctor told her parents she was already dead #Slavyansk – colleague in hospital who saw this telling me.”

Independent journal Graham Phillips twittered:

“Shops closed, streets deserted in central Sloviansk as fighting reported as waging on outside of city now.”

Ukrainian helicopter gunships attacked railway cars with rockets. Self-defense forces tried using them as an armored train.

Overnight Sunday was tense. Hostilities continued unabated through Monday. Government forces blocked transport in and out of Slavyansk.

They haven’t made territorial gains. They used hit and run tactics. Armed standoff began in mid-April. It continues.

Responsible Russian calls for dialogue go unanswered. Washington controls ongoing belligerence. It deplores diplomatic resolution.

It wants war on Ukrainian freedom intensified. It wants it crushed altogether. It wants fascist ruthlessness entrenched.

It wants Ukraine controlled. It wants it incorporated into NATO. It wants more bases on Russia’s borders.

It wants long-range nuclear-armed missiles targeting its heartland. It wants what Moscow won’t tolerate.

It wants Ukraine plundered for profit. It wants its people exploited. It wants Ukrainian workers transformed into impoverished serfs. It risks mass rebellion in the process.

On May 5, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) head Valentin Nalivaychenko ordered his Odessa’s SBU chief to prepare for May 9 special operations.

They’re planned to suppress anti-Kiev activists. Moles were planted to provoke riots. Fabricated evidence will be used.

It falsely suggests Russia supplied arms through regional Orthodox churches. Once riots erupt, neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs will intervene.

They’ll pose as outraged city residents. Specially trained riot police will get involved. It remains to be seen what follows.

Russian lower house State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said pro-Kiev fascists threaten Eastern Ukrainians. They do so for honoring their culture and history as well as speaking their native language.

“They are already responsible for many crimes. But now they threaten the southeast of the country and violate all rights of local residents, including their right to life,” said Naryshkin.

“And only because these people remember their history, commemorate the great victory and want to speak their native language.”

“In Kiev, radicals organized a military coup, which led to casualties and launched a disgraceful attack on the Russian language.”

They want Ukrainian history rewritten. They want it their way. They want Nazi era collaborators rehabilitated.

“We warned about this danger long before but unfortunately it came,” said Naryshkin. “It is a great pity that our words have not been heard.”

They fell on deaf ears. On Monday, extremist Svoboda party parliamentarians moved to ban all Russian symbols.

Included are black and orange St. George ribbons. They’re a former Russian empire military decoration. Federalists wear them.

According to Ukraine’s UNIAN news agency, legislation seeks to “outlaw the use of any state symbols of the Russian Federation, unrecognized republics or St. George ribbons, by individuals as well as on official buildings, self-administration buildings, company offices, organizations and institutions, disregarding the form of ownership.”

Violators face criminal prosecution. Legislative language targets “extremism instigators and separatists.”

Activists proudly wear these ribbons. They represent fascist opposition. They display resistance. They signify right over wrong.

Ukrainian Jews are threatened. Anti-Semitism is rife. Radical ultranationalism is virulent. Odessa Jews are scared.

They’re preparing for mass evacuation. They’re ready if violence too great to control erupts. So far they haven’t been targeted.

They’re vulnerable. According to Rabbi Refael Kruskal:

“When there is shooting in the streets, the first plan is to take (children) out of the center of the city.”

“If it gets worse, then we’ll take them out of the city. We have plans to take them both out of the city and even to a different country if necessary, plans which we prefer not to talk about which we have in place.”

He fears more clashes. “(N)ext weekend is going to be very violent,” he said. Friday, May 9, is Victory Day.

It marks Nazi Germany’s capitulation to Soviet Russia. It was late May 8 evening Berlin time. It was May 9 Moscow time.

Fascist provocations are planned. Migdal International Center of Jewish Community Programs head Kira Verkhovskaya said:

“If the situation gets worse, we are preparing to move.”

Rabbi Avraham Wold represents Chabad community hassidic Jews. He said they’re taking extra security precautions.

They posted armed guards. They prepared for possible evacuation. They allied with International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

They have 70 buses fueled. They’re ready to go if needed. Odessa’s population approaches one million. Nearly one-third are Jews.

They’re justifiably scared. Nazis murdered many thousands in Ukraine in cold blood. Some were burned alive.

Odessans remember. They know how fascists operate. Anti-Semitism is rife. Neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs threaten them. So do likeminded extremists.

They may have to flee for their lives. They may have on short notice. They fear the worst if not.

On May 5, RT International said Kiev fascists targeted independent journalist Graham Phillips. He’s an RT stringer.

He reports daily from the Eastern Ukrainian front lines. He explains accurately what’s going on. He commented, saying:

He “received threats putting a bounty on (his) head to be kidnapped and that has been offered from Dnepropetrovsk, as (he) understand(s), connected to the Right Sector.”

Reportedly it offered $10,000 for capturing “a Russian spy.” A Twitter message said:

“ANYONE WHO CAN CAPTURE RUSSIAN SPY @Graham WP_UK GETS 10.000$ FROM DNIPRO. SO LETS DO IT!”

Right Sector thugs have one of RT’s cameramen.

According to RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan:

“Our camera-man-stringer in Odessa received a call from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU).”

It “said that he is now on the radar of the Right Sector.(His) former colleagues gave him up.”

“SBU said that the Right Sector now has all his phone numbers and addresses.”

“They gave him up for his anti-Maidan views which he never kept secret.”

RT’s Irina Galushko said her cameraman was threatened. She twittered:

“cam’man i’m working with just informed his addresses and contacts are in hands of Security Service, Right Sector and Nat’l Guard #Odessa.”

Kiev fascists want only their own message getting out. Truth-tellers are endangered.

On April 26, RT and other major Russian TV broadcasters called on human rights organizations to “defend the professional rights of journalists working in Ukraine.”

“Ukraine’s Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk and other regions are witnessing the ruthless suppression of civil liberties on a daily basis,” they said.

“Journalists are being threatened with their lives if they continue to report from Ukraine.”

“The new Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly taken illegal actions barring our staff journalists covering the Ukraine crisis from performing their professional duties and violating their human dignity.”

It bears repeating. Fascism operates this way. Obama wholeheartedly endorses it.

He represents the worst of imperial ruthlessness. He shames the office he holds. He risks global conflict. Stopping him matters most.

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

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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

The foreign chiefs of 28 EU member-states are going to get together in the capital of Belgium on May 5 to discuss more sanctions against Russia. Meeting President Obama Angela Merkel already said the EU is ready to introduce a new package of anti-Russian sanctions. The German Chancellor appears to take the reins into her hands and rule Europe without asking for partners’ consent. At least that’s the way she spoke with the US President. It looked like she was the one to call the shots in the Old World…

The results of US trip allow to make a conclusion that Merkel unambiguously supports the US accusations against Russia. Somehow the both leaders expect Russia to stabilize the situation in Ukraine till the end of May. Washington and Berlin want the Russian Federation to support their candidate at the upcoming presidential election there. The allies are ready to introduce more sanctions in case Moscow stands in the way of the election. That’s what Obama said during the joint press-conference after the summit. The Chancellor spoke in the name of the whole united Europe, «The EU is preparing a package of measures that we will implement the third phase of sanctions against Russia I would like to emphasize that this is not necessarily in line with our wishes». The support of the Kiev regime demonstrated by the United States and Germany may make Europeans pay a high price. To some extent it’s Germany who is responsible for sparking the crisis in Ukraine in November-December 2013. Back then Berlin acted alone without looking back at partners hoping to be the winner who takes it all. No way.

Now Merkel is trying to get behind the curtain ceding the floor to the White House. Germany would like to be a kind of intermediary playing out the confrontation between the United States and Russia and moving European partners to the sidelines. The US condescending approach to the European Union is well known. It needs Germany to transform the Ukrainian internal crisis into an all-European one. The US special services do not act as passive onlookers. The CIA and FBI operatives act as the Kiev regime’s advisors on «fight against organized crime». Dozens of them help the putschists to use force and quell the unrest in Novorossiya. English is heard among the chasteners’ ranks; local nationalists use US-made rifles to fire at people. Putting the blame for what happened in Odessa on the «Kremlin’s propaganda» sounds like a blasphemy. The world saw the real face of Ukrainian fascists tossing Molotov cocktails at civilians. The United States is an accomplice to the crime. Barack Obama believes that Kiev has a right to restore order in Eastern Ukraine. The country faces the consequences of US criminal policy aimed at supporting the Maidan ultras. Washington is involved in the civil war by supporting the puppet regime which is unacceptable for the majority of Ukrainians. That is the «diplomatic solution» of the conflict according to US scenario. Germany risks making a big geopolitical mistake by taking the side of Washington.

The root of the problem is the NATO expansion to the East and the US attempts to re-orient Ukraine and make it turn to the West. Americans view Ukraine as a backward state at the Russian border going out of control. But Ukraine has special importance for Germany. Kiev uses Western money to form «death squadrons» to fight Novorossia the same way the Nazi Germany used Ukrainian nationalists. They manned police units, the battalions Nachtigall and Roland, the division Galicia, the local administrations of occupants and were trained in German intelligence training camps. Hundreds of thousands became their victims: Poles, Jews and Ukrainians while Russians were always the main target.

The Berlin’s interference into the Ukraine’s internal affairs can be seen as an attempt to revive the old policy aimed at creation of Mitteleuropa – a German term for Central Europe. Last century Russia had to counter the plans for hegemony in two world wars. In 1945 Germany ended up in ruins, its plans to expand to the East collapsed. The present divisions among Germans reflect not only the pro-Russian stance taken by a major part of population but rather the reluctance to support the hegemony-oriented policy revived by Berlin. Not all Germans see the tragic events in Ukraine through the prism of cubic meters of gas not supplied by Russia or the economic profit lost as a result of joining the anti-Russia sanctions.

55% of Germans believe that their country is obediently following the United States as the crisis in Ukraine unfolds. The Left Party is the leading force which is consistent in its opposition to the US. It calls for adopting independent foreign policy. The party enjoys vast support in the eastern part of the country, the former East Germany. The Alternative for Germany (Alternative fьr Deutschland), the party of eurosceptics which is a newcomer on the German political scene, stands near to the Left. The public opinion demonstrates the support for pacifism which has become traditional for the post-war Germany. 61% of responders say «no» to any form of Germany’s military presence in Eastern Europe, 56% do not approve the Ukraine’s entry into the European Union while 67% believe that a conflict with Russia does not serve the interests of the European Union and Germany. (1) The statements by Angela Merkel do not reflect the public opinion in Germany. Her belligerent rhetoric towards Moscow starts to backlash too often undermining confidence into the Berlin’s foreign policy. Will the German leadership be wise enough to listen to the opinion of the people or the feeling of solidarity with Washington is going to prevail?

The French leadership could be asked the same question. The majority of French oppose the Ukraine’s membership in the European Union and the idea of rendering financial aid to this country. It is confirmed by the survey of French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOR – Institut franзais d’opinion publique) published by the center-right Le Figaro newspaper saying 71% of French oppose the Ukraine’s accession to the European Union while 64% of responders say «no» to the idea of providing financial aid to Ukraine. Can Paris put the France’s national interests above the US plans for Ukraine?

The anti-Russian sanctions are an element of US policy towards Russia. By supporting Washington Europeans display their submissiveness and inability to stand on its own while dealing with America. This way they become accomplices in the crimes committed by the Kiev-based regime, including the Odessa massacre. The Russia’s President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that those who support the Ukraine’s ruling junta today become criminals themselves.

Endnotes:

1. Die Deutschen gehen auf Distanz zum Westen

And The Benghazi Media Circus Plays On…

May 6th, 2014 by Joachim Hagopian

The Benghazi story has once again become the “banzai!” rallying cry for a swarm of pundits and politicians in Washington. Lining up on both sides of the partisan aisle on all the Sunday morning talk shows, like it or not, the American public is being barraged with yet another frenzied round of media circus hype in the shark-infested political waters circling over four dead corpses of the murdered-in-Benghazi Americans. With their wagons drawn, the Democrat-leaning, pro-Hillary-Obama “liberal left” camp are in full damage control overdrive while diehard Republican predators smelling blood move in for the kill Obama legacy with their eye on the bonus prize killing Democrats’ and Hillary’s 2016 presidential chances all in one fell swoop. Like in the Roman gladiator coliseum, the presstitutes announce, “Let the circus games [once again] begin!” Since attacking the hornet’s nest of Obamacare is beginning to fizzle out, all the Hillary and Obama haters are frothing at the mouth over this latest Benghazi opening.

A recent article written by this writer for Global Research posted last Saturday – “The Benghazi Scandal Is Obama’s Watergate But Worse” – was written in an effort to seek and uncover the truth. Accurate reporting on major world events is a challenge in today’s world where propaganda and disinformation are mainstream media norms and where virtually all major players in American politics simply lie through their teeth every time they open their mouths in constant effort to look good and cover up the truth. The American public knows this pathetic and sobering fact that deception has come to rule in the world of both politics and the media. People today neither believe their newscasters nor their political leaders. That is why examining the content of the tidal wave of assertions and opinions spewing forth from politicians and pundits in the aftermath of the latest Benghazi revelations must be taken with a grain of salt. Again, truth in today’s world is hard to come by. But as an investigative reporter, presenting a brief overview of recent comments and statements for any informed citizen to process and digest seems a worthwhile and important enterprise.

A timeline of recently unfolding events: On 10/12/12 exactly one month after the Benghazi incident, the legal conservative group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking documents related to the Benghazi attack on September 11th, 2012 that killed the US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Obama, who had campaigned on a promise of transparency in the criminal wake of the Bush regime, has proven to be anything but open and transparent. Having to sue the US government for access to the records, on April 18th, 2014, a full year and a half later, the Obama administration’s stonewalling ultimately failed and Judicial Watch successfully got hold of 41 State Department Benghazi related documents. Emails between high level White House officials discussing damage control strategies in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi assault were released last week. Jubilant Republicans are now calling one of those emails their “smoking gun,” believing it is so incriminating that it will do in their would-be opponent Hillary Clinton from potentially competing in the 2016 presidential election.

The newly declassified email written by Obama’s then Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes specifically directed then UN Ambassador Susan Rice in preparation for her Sunday morning talk show appearances on September 16th, 2012 to explain the administration’s take on what it knew of the Benghazi murders. Rhodes advised Rice to attribute the Benghazi uprising as “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy,” pushing talking points designed to bolster Obama’s presidential image as a cool-as-a-cucumber-under-fire kind of wise and benevolent leader and statesman. The major emphasis of the email instructed Rice to blame the bogus anti-Moslem video as inciting a spontaneous protest like in other countries in the region that apparently grew violently out of control, of course all the while knowing that that was a boldface lie.

This crucial piece of evidence proves that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both knew that the video did not cause the attack but that they chose to willfully deceive the American public in order to protect their own political careers and hence was born the infamously never ending Benghazi cover-up. Obama and Hillary withheld this damning email evidence even from the House Oversight Committee led by Congressman Darrel Issa (R-CA) requesting all documents pertaining to Benghazi more than a year ago. With the presidential election less than two months away at the time of the attack, Obama and Hillary were determined at all cost to keep hidden from Americans the real truth of criminal Benghazi activity they were guilty of engaging in during the months leading up to the attack. Last Thursday an angry Issa subpoenaed current Secretary of State John Kerry to appear before the committee on May 21st to further explain why those critical State Department records recently given to Judicial Watch were not among the 3200 documents originally handed over to his committee well over a year ago.

Another disclosure at last Thursday’s House Oversight Committee hearing further damaging the credibility and actions of the Obama administration came from retired Air Force General Robert Lovell who at the time of Benghazi was in Germany serving as the senior African Command deputy director for intelligence. Lovell testified, “We should have sent help,” adding that the White House decision not to attempt military assistance due to the time factor was unacceptable. Lovell also stated unequivocally that the military knew that the Benghazi attack had nothing to do with the video falsely used by the administration to explain away the tragedy. The ex-general felt his military should have intervened and was waiting all night long for the call that never came from his bosses in Washington. Clearly he feels a sense of remorse and regret over the passivity imposed on him by his commander-in-chief Obama and State Department head Clinton.

Within hours of the general’s testimony came rebukes from both the senior Republican and Democrat on the powerful House Armed Services Committee making claims backing the administration’s that the military was incapable of responding in time to assist the ill-fated Americans in Benghazi. Because they represent the military in Congress that had already drawn the conclusion that nothing tactically could have been done to save the four Americans, they were quick to rebut the general’s testimony. Yet the day before 9/11 every year since 9/11/01 including on 9/10/11, the president meets with top military and security personnel to ensure that US embassies around the globe are bolstered with much needed extra security for 9/11 readiness. Yet the Benghazi compound was so insecure despite repeated requests, both Obama and the military apparently failed to have any military units on standby that could reach Benghazi to be of service on the night of 9/11/12. And this comes after intelligence sources have been reporting insufficient security at the Benghazi embassy compound.

Investigative reporter Kenneth R. Timmerman as author of a new forthcoming book entitled ‘Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi’ states:

We know that orders were issued, then recalled, to deploy a 50-man Special Forces unit from Croatia that could have reached Benghazi within hours.Timmerman concludes that to date no documents revealing the person who ordered that unit to stand down have yet to surface.

Meanwhile, last week in a heated exchange with ABC correspondent Jon Karl a visibly agitated White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that Rhodes’ email was not related to Benghazi at all but referred to the Moslem protests generally taking place in the region in response to the video. The next day Fox reporter Ed Henry engaged Carney on the same issue, eliciting the same haranguing reaction. All this appears to be yet more desperate lies in a feeble attempt to cover his bosses’ Obama and Hillary’s asses called criminal guilt, and by so doing committing his own. Carney had been among the original recipients of Rhodes’ email.

Carney further explained that the same Rhodes talking points echoed those delivered earlier to Congress and the White House by deputy CIA director Mike Morell who a month ago claimed he received no pressure or influence from anyone in the Obama administration in coming up with his version of what most likely transpired on 9/11/12 based on all CIA intelligence sources available at the time. Yet on his own Morell admitted to toning down the intelligence reports leading up to the Benghazi attack purposely so as to not appear to be an “I told you so” gesture that would offend Hillary and her State Department. That said, Hillary’s underling and rising star Victoria Nuland (the later promoted to profanity-speaking Assistant Secretary of State who played such a key role in the recent US backed fascist Ukrainan coup) objected to Morell’s talking points that in her mind leaned too heavily toward blaming her boss and their State Department for insufficient security at the Benghazi compound. Her words:

Why do we want Hill to start fingering Ansar Al Sharia [the known al Qaeda affiliated attackers that murdered the four Americans], when we aren’t doing that ourselves until we have the investigation results…and the penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that?… Concerned.Observe how the exclusive focus of all post-Benghazi interdepartmental correspondence from Rhodes’ to Morell’s to Nuland’s all center on appearance and potential perception to avoid CYA blame. Furthest down on their priority list is honest and truthful disclosure and self-accountability. Again, the name of the game in the world of politics is passing the buck whenever possible to minimize potential heat that comes with looking bad and maximizing looking good by any means or lies necessary. Benghazi perfectly illustrates all of this.

Based on the information finally coming to light all last week, last Friday House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called for a special select committee not unlike the one for Watergate to further investigate Benghazi. Representative Trey Gowdy (SC-R) has already been selected as its lead investigator. This grandstanding ploy seems a bit superfluous and redundant since the House Oversight Committee has ostensibly been trying to get to the bottom of Benghazi for nearly a year and a half, albeit thus far ineffective in its results, no help from the State Department’s prior email omissions.

Not only is Benghazi the hot topic buzzing here in America, on that same day last Friday, more bullets was buzzing in Benghazi as well. Nine police security soldiers were gunned down by, you guessed it, the same murderers still remaining at large that were behind the 9/11/12 Benghazi attack – the militant group the US has for years labeled an al Qaeda affiliated terrorist organization Ansar al-Sharia. After massacring 31 peaceful demonstrators protesting outside the militants’ headquarters last June, last week’s massacre is a powerful statement showing that the terrorists are still in charge in Benghazi and immune from any accountability from the US installed puppet government either in Tripoli or Washington. They remain free men at large despite Obama’s promise to hunt them down and bring them to justice.

The senior Democratic House Intel Committee Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) typifies the partisan Obama-Hillary politics games of each side racing to the media to point fingers at each other in their same old, same old blame game. On Sunday Schiff stated he does not want any Democrats to participate in the newly forming select committee that the Republican House Speaker Boehner has just recently called for, already naming its GOP chair. That is simply a game the Dems will refuse to play. Why? Because Republicans cannot make them. Sound familiar? Perhaps your 7-year old child might employ this same game strategy.

Insider Dems like former White House advisor turned ABC analyst (and another original recipient of Rhodes’ infamous email) David Plouffe conveniently took to ABC’s Sunday morning On This Week with George Stephanopoulos crying foul even louder with their familiar “conspiracy” chant they customarily use to discredit any criticism leveled at the Obama administration. His cries reaching desperation this week accuse a “very loud, delusional minority” of Republicans of an obsessive politics game over Benghazi. Another all too familiar grade school tactic, whatever misbehavior you are accused of, simply accuse your enemy of the same offense, an old early childhood trick that you never need outgrow in the world of politics.

Still another indignant reaction hardcore defenders of Hillary and Obama are now quick to cite are the thirteen embassy attacks that occurred as so called “Benghazi’s on Bush’s watch” when not a peep was ever heard from the press. This straw house strategy is designed to show how Republicans and Fox News are hypocritical in their obsession to find dirt on Benghazi where they deny any exists. Yet this accusation seems to omit one very significant fact. Not one of those embassy attacks during the Bush regime resulted in any murdered Americans, much less four of them and one being a US Ambassador, something that has not happened in the last 32 years before Benghazi.

The media circus demonizing partisan politics players on both sides epitomizes why the US government is so utterly broken, horribly dysfunctional, morally bankrupt and totally ineffective in addressing any and all of the most pressing problems facing America and the world today. The blame game is all they know. Yet in all their exaggeration, lies, name calling and finger pointing, not one of them is even addressing the pink elephant in the room.

Obama, Hillary and then CIA Director retired General Betrayus Petraeus were/are international gun running criminal outlaws of the worst kind, working with the very same al Qaeda terrorist bunch that murdered those four nearly forgotten Americans. US tax dollars were/are going into the pockets of Ansar al-Sharia and al Qaeda mercenaries that looted Muammar Kaddafi’s gold cache and enormous weapon arsenal that included chemical weapons as well as surface to air missiles. And Obama, Petraeus and 2016 presidential heir apparent Hillary were in deep over their heads under Hillary and Stevens’ State Department cover, shipping them from Benghazi through Turkey to Syria to covertly fight a war by proxy against Assad’s government forces. After more than three bloody years, to this day the US is still bent on destroying another sovereign nation posing absolutely no security threat to America.

These are the war crimes constantly being committed by Obama, Petraeus and Hillary and their lies upon lies are unraveling at an accelerated clip with each passing month. Thus, expect to see more desperate acts of aggression from desperate despots who know that their jig is up. Yet desperate despots do not care how many humans they will take down with them. But justice for these longtime perpetrators of multiple crimes against humanity will be served in the end.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing.

The German Media and the Massacre in Odessa

May 6th, 2014 by Peter Schwarz

A politically conformist media has long been considered a characteristic of dictatorships. Not any more. One can also speak of such a conformist press in the coverage of Ukraine in the German media.

Last Friday, over 40 opponents of the Kiev regime fell victim to a fascist massacre. Although German television stations and newspapers have many correspondents on the ground, you will not find a serious report concerning the background to this terrible crime. Instead, the events are falsified, downplayed or simply ignored.

From the outset it was clear that the victims who lost their lives, burning to death in the Odessa trade union hall, suffocating or jumping out the window, were opponents of the government in Kiev. Despite this, the media has deliberately left the origins of the victims and the culprits in the dark.

On the day of the events, Spiegel Online reported untruthfully that dozens of people had “died in clashes between Ukrainian nationalists and pro-Russian activists.”

Two days following the massacre, the Frankfurter Rundschau reported: “Violence escalated in the port city on Friday between hundreds of supporters of the government in Kiev and Moscow. In street battles, both sides threw Molotov cocktails, a trade union building was set alight. Four people died in the fighting, a further 38 lost their lives in the probably deliberate fire.”

To date, there has still been no word on the website of the Rundschau about who started the fire in the union hall and who was killed as a result. And this is despite the fact that the date of the fire alone—May 2—should surely have brought to mind dire memories in the editorial offices. On May 2, 1933, the Nazis stormed trade union buildings in Germany and murdered or arrested numerous union leaders.

The events in Odessa do not conform to the flood of propaganda pumped out daily by the Rundschau and other media. According to their narrative, the regime in Kiev stands for “western values” and “democracy”, while the opposition is being directed by Russian agents and Putin personally.

That is a lie, as even the Ukrainian interim president Alexander Turchynov had to angrily admit. He agreed that his government is meeting with widespread rejection in the east of the country.

“Let’s be honest”, Turchynov told the Kiev broadcaster TV5, “the citizens in this region support the separatists, they support the terrorists, which has considerably impeded the anti-terror operation”. He said the fact that the police also sympathised with the pro-Russian forces was a “colossal problem”.

Because it is rejected by broad layers of the population, and even by sections of the security apparatus, the putschist regime in Kiev rests on murderous fascist gangs in order to defend its power. Far-right militias such as the “Right Sector”, the so-called “self-defence” of the Maidan, and members of Svoboda brought the regime to power on February 22. The same forces are now responsible for the murder of dozens of their opponents in Odessa.

According to reports of local activists, members of these militias travelled to Odessa last Friday under the cover of a soccer game between Odessa and Kharkov. They mingled with the football fans and marched through the city undisturbed by the police. It was here that the first bloody clashes occurred between about 1,000 armed fascists and 250 opponents who stood in their way.

The fascists carried on to the union building and set fire to a tent camp that had been built earlier by opponents of the regime. The occupants fled into the union building, which the right-wing militias also set on fire. The grisly scenes of the burning union house, surrounded by jeering nationalists, in which regime opponents burned alive, died from smoke inhalation or jumped out of the window in panic have been captured on film. As have scenes showing the seriously injured being mistreated by the fascists.

The German media are deliberately hiding these facts from the public.

Like the Rundschau, the pro-Green Party taz has not said a word about the identity of the victims and culprits. Three days following the massacre, the online edition of taz reported: “At least 46 people were killed in a serious fire in the town’s trade union house and in street battles on Friday, with more than 200 injured.” The day after the fire, they said the fire was the result of “criminal arson”, citing the transitional government in Kiev.

On Monday, when the circumstances and background of the massacre were long known, the Süddeutsche Zeitung asked, referring to the “chaotic situation” in the country: “Who can know who is concretely responsible for the rampage?”

The conservative Die Welt reported that at least 42 died “in clashes between pro-Russian activists and government supporters in Odessa”. Instead of naming victims and culprits, they cite the nationalist politician Julia Tymoshenko, who accused Moscow of trying to drive a wedge between the population and of being responsible for the deaths.

Germany’s public television broadcasters, subsidised with a monthly contribution of 18 euros from every household, and which are legally bound to report objectively, match the propaganda of the print media in every respect.

On Monday, the morning show on ARD provided extensive airtime to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, who claimed the dead in Odessa were “provocateurs who acted on behalf of the Kremlin”. “This was a well-prepared commando action”, he declared. “It’s all part of the Russian plan to get its hands on Ukraine and destroy it. Well-trained agents initiated the conflict and then quickly disappeared.”

Although ARD correspondent Golineh Atai reported daily from Donetsk, nothing regarding the true background to the political events was explained. And when the news anchors Thomas Roth and Caren Miosga ranted against Russian president Putin, they brought to mind the infamous Cold War propagandists of the 1960s, Gerhard Löwenthal on West German television channel ZDF, and Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler on East German television.

In response to the angry protests of their viewers, the news programme switched its editorials to their website, “as a result of overload”, they said.

The political conformity of the media is part of a fundamental change of course in German foreign policy. Faced with growing social tensions and a continuing crisis of the European economy, the German government has abandoned its previous military reticence and is again following an aggressive militarist policy. Together with the US administration, they have organised the putsch in Kiev and are now provoking a dangerous confrontation with Russia.

The media support this course. They have ditched all moral scruples and are helping through their lies to prepare future wars.

Today, Reuters featured a very important item, under-reported in world media, that demonstrates the clear and irrefutable links between the Kiev regime and organised Fascist violence in the Ukraine.

Just days after 42 anti-fascist, federalist activists were burned to death in the Odessa Trade Union building as a direct result of the actions of a fascist mob, who pelted the building with Molotov cocktails, Reuters reported that:

‘…Kiev drafted police special forces to the southwestern port city of Odessa to halt a feared westward spread of rebellion.

Ukraine said the Odessa force, based on “civil activists”, would replace local police who had failed to tackle rebel actions at the weekend. Its dispatch was a clear signal from Kiev that, while tackling rebellion in the east, it would vigorously resist any sign of a slide to a broader civil war.’

Who are these ‘civil activist’? Will they be mobilised under the watch of Andrij Parubiy, the current effective head of National Security, and former head of the neo-Nazi paramilitary group Patriots of Ukraine?

Will they include members of Right Sector, the third-positionist group that is the spearhead of fascist violence in the Ukraine? Maybe the mobilised ‘civil activists’ will include some of the very fascists responsible for the Odessa massacre?

It is an extraordinary indictment of the Ukrainian regime that it should act in such a crass and desperate manner in a situation demanding extreme sensitivity, especially in the days leading up to Victory Day on May 9th, which commemorates the victory of the Soviet Red Army over the Nazis.

Can anyone seriously question that, in the circumstances, these ‘civil activists’ will be a self-selecting group who are strong supporters of the regime, strong opponents of separatism, and unabashed about physical confrontation. Surely, in the current Ukrainian situation, it is absolutely clear who is going to step up to this particular plate.

Not one to be outdone, Yulia Tymoshenko has also joined in the clamour to arm the fascists. According to the Kiev Post she is calling for the formation of a ‘combat-capable’ volunteer army.

This is a regime that came to power on the coat tails of fascist vigilantism and has sought to mobilise and deploy the same fascist vigilantism to maintain power. It made its intentions clear at the very outset by placing the ex-Nazi Parubiy in charge of National Security.

This disastrous regime, which no-one voted for, is also presiding over a full scale military assault against its own people. According to the interior minister, thirty people were killed in Slaviansk yesterday. There are unconfirmed reports from Slaviansk that this included a number of unarmed civilians.

The Yatsenyuk junta is acquiring quite a collection of casualties – at least 42 in Odessa at the weekend, 30 in Slaviansk last night. Presumably, once the dead are duly identified, we shall soon know the full truth about all the so-called ‘provocateurs’ bussed in from Trans-Dniester and Russia?

In the meantime, the big question remains Donetsk. Up to now, the regime has been picking on the smaller towns in the Donbas. Donetsk is a city of almost a million inhabitants.

Is the Ukrainian regime desperate enough to launch a military assault on its own second city?

In an important development, according to Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency, miners at two Donetsk coal mines, South Donbass No. 1 and No. 3 mines in Ugledar, have gone on strike to protest Kiev’s crackdown. The organised working class played no part in installing this appalling regime – but perhaps it can play a part in deposing it.

On May 9th, the communist and workers movement in Ukraine, together with the anti-fascist and separatist opponents of the nationalist junta, must put on a massive and self-disciplined display of outrage at an unelected government that hands out uniforms to thugs and sends in tanks and helicopters against its own people.

This May 9th, the workers movement in the Ukraine must demonstrate a renewed determination to once again defeat fascism.

Lionel Reynolds writes the www.dispatchesfromempire.com blog.

In the wake of Friday’s fascist massacre of pro-Russian protesters at the Trade Unions House in Odessa, the US puppet regime in Kiev deployed National Guard units to the city yesterday. The sending of the National Guard, a force created by the Kiev regime after the fascist-led putsch in February that has worked closely with the neo-Nazi Right Sector militia to repress protests elsewhere in Ukraine, is a warning to the working class.

Reports are already emerging that inside the city there is widespread fear of far-right, anti-Semitic violence breaking out in coming days. The National Guard began street patrols yesterday, amid mounting popular outrage over the Friday massacre.

Yesterday, after Sunday’s mass protest to force the freeing of pro-Russian protesters detained by police, Odessa residents continued to bring flowers and pay their respects to the victims of the massacre outside the burned-out Odessa Trade Union building. “This is a tragedy for all of Ukraine,” teacher Nadezhda Yelenchuk told AP. “This is the result of a civil war that has already begun in Ukraine.”

Everything points to the preparation by the Kiev regime and its US and European backers of another fascist atrocity to try to terrorize the city into submission. Given that forces like Right Sector openly glorify Ukrainian fascists who collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust, there is deep concern in particular inside Odessa’s 30,000-strong Jewish community, one of the largest in Ukraine.

Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, several community leaders reported that they are preparing plans for an exodus of Jewish people from the city. Rabbi Refael Kruskal—the head of the Tikva organization, which runs orphanages and schools and provides social services for the elderly in the city—discussed the measures they took after the Friday massacre led by Right Sector forces and soccer hooligans.

“Over the weekend, we closed the [Great Choral] Synagogue,” Kruskal told the Post. “We took all the students out of the center of the city where the violence was, because we were worried it was going to spread. We sent a text message to everybody in the community on WhatsApp that they should stay at home over the weekend.”

Kruskal added that he anticipated large-scale violence in Odessa this Friday, May 9, the traditional commemoration of the victory by the Soviet Union and the Allies over Nazi Germany, at the end of World War II. “The next weekend is going to be very violent,” he said.

He confirmed there were plans for Odessa’s Jewish population to leave the city and even to flee Ukraine. “When there is shooting in the streets, the first plan is to take [the children] out of the center of the city,” he said. “If it gets worse, then we’ll take them out of the city. We have plans to take them both out of the city and even to a different country if necessary—plans which we prefer not to talk about, which we have in place.”

Kruskal’s comments were echoed by representatives of several other community organizations, who are in a state of high alert. Rabbi Avraham Wolf of the Chabad Hassidic community confirmed that if the situation deteriorated to a point where evacuation became necessary, “we have a number of plans … We are in touch with authorities and with security services, and we do a situation check every half hour.”

Meanwhile, reports emerging in Ukrainian and Russian media raise serious charges that the Odessa massacre on Friday was a coldly planned act of state murder, far deadlier than initially reported. Odessa Regional Council deputy Vadim Savenko alleged that 116 people, not 42 as initially claimed, were killed in the massacre. These charges were echoed by former Ukrainian presidential candidate Oleg Tsarev, who told Vzglyad: “According to our data, over a hundred died in the Trade Union House. The police would not let anyone in, so as to hide the number of dead.”

The Kiev regime’s attempts to explain the fascists’ torching of Odessa’s Trade Union House—claiming that they were provoked by pro-Russian protesters, who shot at pro-Kiev Right Sector protesters before the latter attacked and burned the Trade Union House—also have come under scrutiny.

Videos posted online by the pro-Kiev protesters showed gunmen wearing red armbands shooting at the pro-Kiev protesters from positions controlled by Ukrainian riot police. This strongly suggests that the shooting on the pro-Kiev forces was a provocation organized by the Kiev regime, not by the pro-Russian protesters.

The riot police did not side with the pro-Russian protesters in Odessa, but with Kiev. They arrested none of the pro-Kiev thugs for assaulting the Trade Union House, and arrested many pro-Russian demonstrators instead. No local police were arrested for aiding the pro-Russian forces, however.

The forces that shot at the pro-Kiev demonstration appear to have been working with police as allies of Kiev, seeking to provoke a bloody confrontation. There are also charges that many of the dead in the Trade Union House were not killed by a rampaging fire unleashed by the fascists’ throwing of Molotov cocktails, as initially claimed, but were murdered by Right Sector fighters and hooligans who broke into the building and carried out a massacre.

Graphic and disturbing photos taken inside the Trade Union Hall after the massacre and published in Russian media appear to show that, while some of the victims burned to death, others did not. One pregnant woman was found dead, apparently strangled, with her clothes intact in a room showing no fire or smoke damage. Another man appears to have been shot several times in the head. Several victims have gruesome burns but, grotesquely, only to their head and upper body—as if they were first killed and then parts of their bodies doused with gasoline and set alight. One woman appears to have been raped and then her upper body set on fire.

The horrific violence of the Kiev regime’s fascist supporters is an indictment of the installation by the NATO powers of an unelected and unpopular regime in Kiev through a fascist putsch. As the Kiev regime continues its military operations to crush armed pro-Russian protesters in the Donetsk region of southeast Ukraine, it is preparing renewed bloodshed in Odessa, plunging Ukraine ever deeper into civil war and threatening a Russian military intervention against pro-Kiev forces. It has set the world on the edge of a global war.

The Kiev regime faces immense pressure from Washington and the European imperialist powers, from the banks and from its own fascist supporters to retain control of Odessa at all costs. “The possible loss of Odessa in the southwest and parts of eastern Ukraine could be catastrophic for the new government, leaving the country landlocked, cut off entirely from the Black Sea,” the Montreal Gazette noted yesterday.

The Washington, DC-based International Monetary Fund has threatened to withhold and renegotiate billion-dollar loans to Kiev, which faces bankruptcy, if it loses control of south and east Ukraine.

Above all, Washington and its European imperialist allies are pressing their puppet regime in Kiev to crush internal opposition. At a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, as the fascist massacre in Odessa proceeded, US President Barack Obama said: “The Ukrainian government has the right and the responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory.” Obama sickeningly praised Kiev for what he called its “self-restraint.”

The Odessa massacre also exposes the reactionary role of the US media, in particular, their dismissals of the significance of US support for fascist forces such as Right Sector and the Svoboda Party, which has several top ministers in the Kiev government.

New York Times journalist Andrew Higgins penned an article—titled “Among Ukraine’s Jews, the Bigger Worry is Putin, Not Pogroms”—to dismiss warnings of the role of fascists in the Kiev regime as “scaremongering” by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Higgins approvingly cited the nomination of Jewish business oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky as governor of Dnipropetrovsk and Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh’s empty pledges to combat racism as proof of the benign intentions of the Kiev regime. The Odessa massacre on Friday and the escalating preparations for more bloodshed give the lie to this reactionary cover-up for the US puppet regime in Kiev.

Documenti, aprile 2014 - Gabriel Garcia Marquez, premio Nobel per la letteratura, è morto il 17 aprile 2014. Lo ricorda Ahmed Bensaada con una commozione e un  rimpianto, solo temperate dalla consapevolezza che “romanzieri di questo livello non muoiono veramente” (nella foto, Gabriel Garcia Marquez)


Ho incontrato Gabriel Garcia Marquez nel 1982, sulla banchina di una stazione parigina. Stava là, davanti a me, bene in vista. La carnagione scura, le sopracciglia cespugliose, i folti baffi, gli conferivano più l’aria di un Arabo che di un Latino. E però sarebbe stato difficile sbagliarsi sulle sue origini, a causa del “liqui-liqui” (abito tradizionale delle pianure colombo-venezuelane, ndt) che sfoggiava fieramente. Era lo stesso costume immacolato che aveva indossato qualche giorno prima, quando gli avevano conferito il Premio Nobel per la letteratura. Io feci qualche passo lungo la banchina, ma i suoi occhi mi seguivano e il suo sorriso persistente sembrava squadrarmi.

Decisi allora di avvicinarmi al romanziera colombiano. Un poster con la sua immagine occupava quasi tutta la facciata del chiosco dei giornali. Lo guardai negli occhi e il suo sorriso mi parve diventare più conviviale. Sotto il poster, una pila di libri identici: “Cento anni di solitudine” era scritto a lettere bianche sulla copertina, proprio al di sopra di una casa rurale, qualche palma e altri alberi di cui ignoravo il nome.

“Cento anni di solitudine”? Come è possibile?

Decisi di acquistare il libro sotto lo sguardo benevolo dell’uomo baffuto del poster che non smetteva di guardarmi.

Sprofondato nella poltrona del treno che mi portava a Marsiglia, mi sistemai l’auricolare del walkman, inserii una cassetta dell’album “Oxygene” di Jean-Michel Jarre. Premetti sul “play”, aumentai il volume e aprii il libro:

“Molti anni dopo, di fronte al plotone di esecuzione, il colonnello Aureliano Buendia si sarebbe ricordato di quel remoto pomeriggio in cui suo padre lo aveva condotto a conoscere il ghiaccio”.

Per ore mi sprofondai nel romanzo come inoltrandomi in una foresta vergine lussureggiante e talmente fitta, che era impossibile trovare la via del ritorno. Come uno scienziato attonito davanti a una flora e una fauna non classificate nei libri, scoprii pagina dopo pagina il libro magico di questo scrittore dalla penna feconda e fiabesca: la saga dei Buendia, il fantastico villaggio di Macondo, Melquiades, il profeta gitano dalle mani di passerotto e dalla barba irsuta, il patriarca José Aureliano Buendia morto pazzo, legato a un albero, il colonnello Aureliano Buendia che partecipò a 32 guerre sfidando la morte, Remedios la bella che volò in cielo con le lenzuola, la misteriosa maledizione dei bambini con la coda di maiale, ecc.

 


Giunto a destinazione, non sapevo più se ero a Marsiglia o a Macondo. Anche senza auricolari, sentivo ancora la musica elettronica di Jean Michel Jarre risuonare intorno a me. Anche senza libro, non riuscii più a tirarmi fuori da questa storia fuori del tempo, dove il miracolo delle parole faceva della realtà e della magia una simbiosi perfetta. La morte, la vita, l’amore, l’odio, la guerra, la pace, la ragione e la follia sfidavano la linea inesorabile del tempo che non aveva alcuna presa sugli avvenimenti. Provavo la strana impressione di essermi avventurato in un mondo parallelo, un mondo affrancato dalla gravità e dalle inerzie terrestri, un mondo misterioso e sacro dal quale era impossibile uscire indenni…

Dopo questo shock letterario che non ha mai smesso di ossessionarmi fino ad oggi, ho imparato a conoscere Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gabo per gli amici. Quale fu la mia sorpresa nell’apprendere, più tardi, che egli aveva simpatizzato per la rivoluzione algerina, fin dal 1956, quando vivacchiava a Parigi e passava dei momenti difficili.

Tutto era cominciato quando venne malauguratamente fermato dalla polizia insieme ad alcuni militanti algerini: il suo aspetto di arabo non l’aveva aiutato.

“Una sera, uscendo dal cinema, venni arrestato in strada da poliziotti che mi sputavano in faccia e mi fecero montare, a suon di botte, in un furgone blindato. Era pieno di Algerini taciturni, anch’essi beccati, con botte e sputi, nei bistrot del quartiere. Anche loro, come gli agenti che ci avevano arrestati, credevano che io fossi algerino. Così passammo la notte insieme, stretti come sardine in una cella del commissariato più vicino, mentre i poliziotti, in maniche di camicia, parlavano dei loro figli e mangiavano fette di pane inzuppate nel vino. Gli Algerini e io, per  far loro dispetto, restammo svegli tutta la notte cantando le canzoni di Brassens contro gli eccessi e l’imbecillità della forza pubblica“, ha raccontato (1).

Quelle 48 ore di carcere gli hanno dato l’occasione di conoscere un compagno di sventura, un medico algerino che si chiamava Ahmed Tebbal. Dopo il rilascio, essi divennero grandi amici e l’Algerino iniziò il Colombiano alla sua lotta “coinvolgendolo anche in qualche azione sovversiva fatta in nome della causa algerina” (2).


Garcia Marquez nel 1955, davvero sembra un Algerino

Gabo venne più volte invitato in Algeria, per partecipare alle festività di commemorazione del 1° novembre 1954, data di inizio della rivoluzione algerina. Come nel 1979, per il 25° anniversario di questo evento memorabile. Durante il suo soggiorno nella capitale algerina, dichiarò a un giornalista sbalordito: “La rivoluzione algerina è stata la sola lotta per la quale io sono stato imprigionato” (3).

D’altronde è stato proprio in occasione di questo viaggio che egli concepì la versione finale del celebre romanzo “Cronaca di una morte annunciata”. Questa opera era ispirata ad un fatto diverso riguardante l’orribile assassinio di un amico di gioventù, Cayetano Gentile Chimento da parte dei fratelli Chica Salas per una questione di onore che riguardava la loro sorella. Gabo confidò al suo biografo che, all’aeroporto di Algeri, l’immagine di un principe arabo che portava con sé un falco gli aveva improvvisamente aperto gli occhi su un nuovo modo di presentare il conflitto tra Cayetano Gentile Chimento e i fratelli Chica Salas. Cayetano Gentile, un immigrato italiano, è diventato allora Santiago Nasar, un Arabo, amante della falconeria e protagonista del romanzo (4).


Gabriel Garcia Marquez ha raggiunto Remedios la bella. E’ morto il 17 aprile 2014, data del 53° anniversario dello sbarco alla Baia dei Porci. Probabilmente una strizzatina d’occhio al suo amico di sempre Fidel Castro, chissà?

“Non si muore quando vogliamo, ma solo quando possiamo”, aveva fatto dire al colonnello Aureliano Buendia.

Ma romanzieri di questo livello muoiono veramente?

Ahmed Bensaada

MarquezLa littérature est en deuil : Gabriel Garcia Marquez est mort, 20 aprile 2014

Italiano : ossin.org


Riferimenti:

1. Gerald Martin, “Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life”, Penguin, Canada, 2008
2.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez, « Desde Paris, con amor », El Pais, 29 dicembre 1982,http://elpais.com/diario/1982/12/29/opinion/409964412_850215.html
3. Ibid.

4. Vedi riferimento 1


10 dicembre 1982: Conferimento del Premio Nobel a Gabriel Garcia Marquez


“Cronaca di una morte annunciata” – In lingua spagnola

The majority of the British public who hold a view on genetically modified (GM) crops are against them (1). Yet the push to get them into the country and onto plates is in full swing. Strategically placed politicians like Secretary of State for Rural and Environmental Affairs Owen Paterson and scientists such as Professor Jim Dunwell and Sir David Baulcombe are conveying the message that GM food is both safe and necessary.

Although such politicians and scientists have links to the GM sector (2), which highlights serious conflicts of interest, certain news outlets report their views uncritically (3). And it doesn’t help matters that part of the pro-GM public relations assault on the British public is also being facilitated under the guise of ‘objectivity’ by the Science Media Centre (SMC). As with politicians and scientists who give the impression of being independent, the SMC veneer of independence serves to mask where its real interests lie.

The PRWatch website provides some interesting details about the SMC. It was conceived in 2002 and enjoys close links with the British government. It is now based at the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest non-profit foundations. The Trust was founded on the fortune of American-born pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome, whose drug company has since evolved to become GlaxoSmithKline. The Wellcome Trust gives the SMC more than the five percent of annual income at which other institutional funding is capped.

PRWatch goes on to state that the SMC received 34 percent of its nearly £600,000 in funding from corporations and trade groups for the fiscal year that ended March 2013. These figures are based on information provided the SMC’s own website. Its current funders include BASF, Bayer, and Syngenta, three of the world’s biggest pesticide and GMO corporations, as well as a number of agrichemical trade groups like CropLife International.

Given these powerful backers, should we be surprised that the SMC spearheaded attacks on French scientist Gilles-Éric Séralini in 2012 after his research team found serious health problems in rats fed Roundup Ready Monsanto GM corn, as well as in rats fed low doses of the herbicide Roundup itself without the GMO corn (4)? His findings struck at the heart of the GM sector.

According to PRWatch, the SMC fed journalists quotes from other scientists attacking the study. Its director Fiona Fox told Times Higher Education that she was proud that SMC’s emphatic thumbs down had largely been acknowledged throughout UK newsrooms. A PR job well done! The publishing journal eventually retracted the study, and a Reuters article on the retraction used two quotes from an SMC ‘expert reaction.’

Later, however, over 150 scientists sent a letter to the journal calling the retraction an “attack on scientific integrity.”

 According to Connie St. Louis, the president of the Association of British Science Writers, since the SMC’s opening in 2002, the SMC

“… has cast biased press briefings such as one on GMOs, funded by Monsanto and invited unwitting and time-starved journalists… The quality of science reporting and the integrity of information available to the public have both suffered, distorting the ability of the public to make decisions about risk. The result is a diet of unbalanced cheerleading and the production of science information as entertainment.” (5)

Sociologist David Miller, co-founder of Public Interest Investigations/Spinwatch and editor of Powerbase, says:

“The problem is that SMC pretends it’s promoting the best science, but in fact it promotes a certain kind of science; those kinds of science that corporations and governments stand by in the area of science policy and want to see developed in terms of markets, like cloning, GMOs and to some extent pharmaceuticals as well. These are areas where there’s a huge amount of potential profit to be made. Once it steps from supporting science to supporting science policy, SMC becomes political, even though it pretends not to be.” (6)

Claire Robinson, co-editor of GMWatch has called the SMC

“Extremely dangerous because it manages to convince the public and the mainstream media that it is an independent voice of science, whereas actually it is a small selection of industry-friendly scientists who are hand-picked.” (6)

Jack Heinemann from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand noted that various SMCs in different countries do not publish conflicts of interest, listing scientists’ public university positions but not their industry ties. For example, an SMC criticism of a peer-reviewed study he published quoted Professor Peter Langridge, a University of Melbourne senior lecturer in food technology and microbiology. It did not note what local newspaper The Press later found out: that his research centre receives significant funding from global GM product developer DuPont, amounting to between A$3 million (NZ$3.66 million) and A$5 million a year. (6)

Heinemann goes on to state that scientists know they have conflicts of interest when they receive large monetary gifts or research contracts from developing technology or have an entrepreneurial stake in technology. He said that if various SMCs can’t find scientists who don’t have conflicts of interest, what is their point, apart from being some kind of propaganda channel?

Through the SMC, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council and strategically placed scientists or officials whose pro-GM comments fly in the face of research findings (like those of Owen Paterson and Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Advisor of the European Commission (7)), the GM sector is attempting to control ‘news’ by attempting to confuse commercial self-interest with scientific fact in the minds of the population and to distort the nature of scientific discourse in the both public and academic realms.

Colonising strategic sectors by setting up seemingly ‘neutral’ institutions or funding existing bodies and co-opting figures to do the bidding of powerful corporations is a well-worn strategy used to achieve cultural hegemony and secure material outcomes. This has been true within the area of agriculture (8,9) and throughout all other areas of society too (10).

While mouthing platitudes about democracy and democratic institutions, this type of corporate colonisation demonstrates a sneering contempt for democracy and by implication for ordinary people.

Don’t be fooled – be informed and take action:

http://www.stopthecrop.org/

http://corporateeurope.org/

http://www.genewatch.org/

http://www.gmwatch.org/

http://indiagminfo.org/?page_id=175

Notes

1)      http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/02/21/many-britain-remain-sceptical-gm-foods/

2)      http://www.globalresearch.ca/bio-tech-propaganda-gmo-food-is-good-for-your-health-killing-the-world-by-feeding-the-world/5373943

3)      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26554969

4)      http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-gm-maize-causing-tumours-in-rats/

5)      http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/science_media_centers_the_pres.php?page=all

6)      http://www.prwatch.org/news/2014/04/12442/science-media-centre-spins-pro-gmo-line

7)      http://gmwatch.eu/index.php/news/archive/2014/15308-eu-chief-science-adviser-s-gmo-safety-claims-are-a-lie

8)      http://www.globalresearch.ca/doomsday-seed-vault-in-the-arctic-2/23503

9)      http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/nip-this-in-the-bud/article5012989.ece#comments

10)  http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/graham-peebles/corporate-colonisation-of-new-india

 

The tragic events in Odessa, where neo-Nazi militants have burned alive at least 50 people, are already being called a new Khatyn. The parallels are so striking that this image instantly infiltrated the world’s consciousness. And the same perpetrators were responsible. The residents of Khatyn were incinerated by the 118th Nazi police battalion, made up of mostly Ukrainian military personnel from the Nachtigall and Roland police battalions under Abwehr command that were originally created with the assistance of Stepan Bandera. At the beginning of the war, Nachtigall was led by Roman Shukhevych, who later assigned his thugs to a new punitive unit. The residents of Odessa were killed in a fire set by a new generation of fascists who roam the streets of Ukrainian cities clutching portraits of Bandera and Shukhevych.

* * *

Residents of Kramatorsk (Donetsk Republic) trying to stop a Ukrainian pro-junta National Guard armoured vehicle, May 2, 2014.

The Khatyn massacre in Odessa has created a new reality, in which Ukrainian citizens, whose only goal is to defend their language, way of life, and values, stand in opposition to the neo-Nazi junta in their own capital of Kiev.Unlike the Donbass, where there is an armed militia, the protests in Odessa were entirely peaceful. But the Rubicon was crossed in Odessa on May 2. The taboo against the killing of peaceful civilians by armed militants no longer exists. It is no coincidence that a few hours after the tragedy in Odessa, the National Guard began ruthlessly shooting the residents of Kramatorsk who were attempting to block armored vehicles by standing in their path. It’s possible that many of them did not even know what had happened in Odessa where their fellow Ukrainian citizens had been set ablaze right in front of the indifferent police forces while the neo-Nazis shouted, “Burn, Russians!” and “Death to the damn Russians!” and that those who escaped the fire were finished off with axes and clubs, all to the tune of the Ukrainian national anthem – a song that will now always be associated with the Khatyn in Odessa.

The latest information about the tragedy indicates that on May 2, the leaders of the junta staged a provocation and consequent punitive action against the citizens of Odessa, in order to reduce or utterly destroy the spirit of unrest there that could potentially lead to open resistance to the Banderite regime, as it had in Donetsk, Lugansk, and Slavyansk.

With this goal, fighters from the special task force Vostok (East) and Storm battalions, sponsored by Ukrainian multi-billionaire Ihor Kolomoysky, were brought into the city dressed in civilian garb. The so-called “14th company of Euromaidan Self-Defense Force” from Kiev, which had been actively involved in the riots in that city on April 29, was also involved.

Anti-fascist tent camp on Kulikovo Field, Odessa, April 2014.

The tent camp of the Odessa residents opposing new illegal Ukrainian administration was gathered in the center of city in late February 2014 immediately after the coup d’état in Kiev. Over the next months dozens of thousands of citizens used to rally here in a desperate attempt to protect their basic rights and freedoms in emerging nationalistic Ukraine.

On May 2, 2014 the local soccer club FC Chernomorets Odessa hosted FC Metallist from Kharkov in a regular match of the Ukrainian league. Crowds of soccer fans from Kharkov arrived to Odessa and were moving to the stadium. Suddenly they were attacked by unidentified masked gunmen wearing St. George ribbons (symbol of antifascist resistance to Kievan junta!!!) and red arm-bands. The same arm-bands were noted on the sleeves of some of the Ukrainian policemen.

Strange combination of contradicting identifications (St.George ribbon and Ukrainian flag) on the bulletproof vest of a fighter on the street of Odessa. Take note of the red band.

Available photos reveal that these attackers enjoyed at least neutrality of the local police, while some others evidence that their actions were coordinated by people in police uniform. One of the identified coordinators was deputy chief of the Odessa Interior ministry branch Colonel Dmitry Fucheji.

Masked gunmen wearing St.George ribbons (!) are coordinated by local police deputy commander Dmitry  Fucheji (in the red circle). Next day he was rewarded by the Kievan administration.

Masked gunmen wearing St.George ribbons (!) are coordinated by local police deputy commander Dmitry Fucheji (in the red circle and embedded photo).

A group of men with red bands receive instructions from a person in police uniform, Odessa, May 2, 2014.

A group of men with red bands receive instructions from a person in police uniform, Odessa, May 2, 2014.

Masked gunmen are calmly walking by the local police officers.

Masked gunmen are calmly walking by the local police officers.

Gunmen shooting at the football fans.

Gunmen shooting at the football fans.

Odessa police pays no attention to man shooting at the football fans.

Odessa police pays no attention to man shooting at the football fans.

No wonder that the infuriated fans immediately moved in trying to reach the assailants. They crushed everything on their way. After a short “resistance” police pulls back and lets the furious crowd to Kulikovo field, the base of peaceful anti-fascist protest in Odessa.

At that point football fans were joined by the ultranationalist Right Sector thugs who surrended the Trade Unions building, where the majority of anti-fascist protesters escaped, rushed in killing everyone on their way and then setting the building on fire by the Molotov cocktails.

As a result, during the clashes and the fire at the House of Trade Unions, 46 people were (officially) killed and over 200 were injured and crippled, more than 20 are in critical condition. Eight people died after leaping from the upper floors of the building. There are latest reports that the thugs used a toxic gas to neutralize people inside the building. A shocking photo report on atrocities committed by the Right Sector inside the Trade Unions House is available here (Caution: strictly 18+). The victims who survived and were pulled from the blaze were killed on the spot and then photographed against a backdrop of burned corpses with signs reading, “This is Ukraine.”

The worst of the shocking footage out of Odessa is not even the photos of the charred corpses in the House of Trade Unions, but rather the video of frenzied neofascists hacking off a young man’s leg right in the middle of the street (9:00 onwards). They did not hide their pleasure at the sound of the victim’s screams and the crunch of bones, as they slathered their hands in his blood with cries of exultation. These are no longer human beings, these are NON-HUMANS. Yes, if “Ukraine” now consists of animals like this, then the country it once was truly no longer exists.

It is already clear that the junta has failed to achieve its goals. The citizens of Odessa have now decided to move from peaceful protests to guerrilla attacks. And they are right to do so – the residents of the occupied territories have no other way to prove anything to the fascists there – this was true even during WWII.

Instead of extinguishing the flames of this smoldering civil war in Ukraine, the junta has thrown gasoline on it.

The supporters of a federalized country have been incinerated – beyond this brink there is no longer any possibility of Ukraine continuing to exist within its current borders.

Of course the West is interested in establishing a neo-Nazi Ukrainian state on the border with Russia. The only question is about the perimeters of this state, and this involves more than just its boundary with Russia, since obviously neither the Romanians, Hungarians, or Poles will be pleased to find themselves saddled with such a neighbor.

What conclusions can be drawn after the tragedy in Odessa?

First, the provocation committed by the Right Sector-linked gunmen with the red arm-bands agaisnt visiting football fans was carried out with the assistance of local police, loyal to Kievan authorities.

Second, there can no longer be any question about whether the people of Crimea made the correct decision about reuniting with Russia.Several million people there were given a promise of security, prosperity, and a clear, straightforward, and comprehensible vision of their new lives as Russian citizens.

Third, the Southeast will never consent to living under a single government with fascists. The flames in Odessa signaled the cremation of not only the Geneva Agreement, but also the idea of federalizing the country of Ukraine.

Fourth, the decision made by the leaders of the Donetsk People’s Republic to go ahead anddistribute weapons to the public in advance can now been seen as entirely sound, because the junta in Odessa has shown it has no intension of conducting any sort of dialog with the southeastern regions, and that it is ready to kill and burn anyone who thinks differently.

Fifth, the leaders in Russia now have the option of postponing all decisions about whether to deploy troops to rescue the ethnic Russians there, since the militia forces are now able to manage the junta’s troops on their own. Russia’s task will be to provide humanitarian assistance to the southeastern regions of Novorossiya, where there will be great need, given the widespread hunger and destruction.

Sixth, any presidential election would be out of the question amidst this civil war in Ukraine. Thus,the junta cannot hope for any sort of legitimacy after May 25, despite all the speeches made by Obama and Merkel.

* * *

On the same day we saw a demonstration of exactly how Russians differ from those who call themselves Ukrainians. Ethnic Russians in Lugansk shot down one of the junta’s helicopters, but the Ukrainian soldiers who responded to its distress signal from the wounded pilot arrived just to take his gun and leave him to die! It was the local Russian-speaking militia forces who took him to the local hospital, where doctors saved the life of the very man who was about to kill them.

Spinning the Odessa Massacre

May 6th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

After the brutal massacre of over 40 anti-regime protesters in the southern port city of Odessa – most of whom were burned to death after being trapped within the city’s Trade Unions House – the Western narrative of “Russian aggression” driving the current unrest in Ukraine is ringing particularly hollow.

Unable to spin the massacre carried out by the very ultra-right Neo-Nazi mobs that propelled the current unelected regime into power, both the West’s media machine and its politicians have attempted to remain as ambiguous as possible regarding the recent brutality resulting from what Kiev calls “anti-terror” operations.

The US condemned the violence in Odessa, but failed to identify the provocateurs or assign blame and instead called for an “investigation” into the deaths – the diplomatic equivalent of shrugging one’s shoulders. This response comes in sharp contrast to the West’s politically motivated responses to alleged government-sanctioned violence elsewhere in the world, most notably in Libya in 2011, and currently in Syria.

Additionally, as evidence emerges regarding the details of the Odessa massacre, only Russian news sources are covering it, while the West neither confirms nor denies reports, but rather misinforms its audiences through lies of omission. A particularly damning RT report titled, “Radicals shooting at people in Odessa’s burning building caught on tape,” stated:

New video has emerged online which shows a man shooting at the windows of Odessa’s burning House of Trade Unions. At least 39 anti-government activists died in the flames on May 2 in the building besieged and set ablaze by radicals. 

A man in the video is wearing a bulletproof vest and is shooting several times in the direction of the burning House of Trade Unions.

The article would also report that:

Another video of the same man shows him speaking on the phone passionately arguing that he and his people are unarmed, while having to confront armed anti-government protesters. The man introduces himself as sotnik Mykola (“sotnik” is what Maidan group leaders in Kiev call themselves).

The report, complete with multiple videos and photographs, portrays a massacre of horrific and intentional brutality, trapping anti-regime protesters inside a building, torching it, and firing at the victims as they attempted to escape from being burned to death. The US’ calls to “investigate” the deaths and its refusal to acknowledge that the regime it has elected to back was responsible for the massacre, only further weakens its hand as the crisis continues to unfold.

Unelected Regime Blames Security Forces

In response to the violence in Odessa, Ukraine’s unelected prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has blamed his own security forces for the violence. The BBC reported in its article, “Ukraine unrest: PM blames security service over Odessa,” that:

Some 42 people died in Odessa on Friday, most of them in the fire at the Trade Unions House, where separatist protesters had barricaded themselves in following running street battles with pro-Kiev activists. 

Mr Yatsenyuk said the security service and law enforcement office had done “nothing to stop this crackdown”, saying they were “inefficient and they violated the law”. 

The police chief of the Odessa region had been removed, he said, and the prosecutor’s office had started an investigation into “every single police officer”.

However, the new police chief appointed for Odessa only further confirmed the identity of the attackers that left over 40 dead while revealing the regime’s complicity in both the massacre and a wider agenda of coordinating with ultra-nationalists like the Neo-Nazi Right Sector faction. In RT’s article, “Newly appointed Odessa police chief vows to revise release of anti-Kiev activists,” it states:

Addressing a pro-Kiev rally, Odessa’s new head of police spoke against ‘separatism’ and vowed to revise the earlier release of pro-autonomy activists.

Ivan Katerinchuk was appointed following deadly clashes and a fire on Friday that killed dozens in the southeastern port city.

Local media reported that a few hundred people attended the rally near the Odessa interior ministry on Sunday. Some of them were heavily armed with wooden and metal bats, chains, shields, and helmets.

It also states (emphasis added):

When speaking about the 67 released anti-government activists, he said that all will be investigated and it will be determined if they broke any laws.

He called on the Right Sector to exercise restraint and select individuals who will represent the group in order to easily communicate with it about further actions from police.

Clearly Right Sector, the Neo-Nazi militant front that spearheaded the so-called “Euromaidan” protests and the resulting putsch, are present in Odessa and working in coordination with Ukrainian security forces loyal to the regime in Kiev. This includes both the outgoing and the newly appointed police chief of Odessa. The Western media has not attempted to refute RT’s reports, and instead has elected to avoid mentioning altogether any relevant developments related to the Odessa massacre.

Wave of Fury Sweeps Ukraine 

Over 60 anti-regime protesters who escaped the Trade Unions House blaze were arrested in addition to the 40 plus killed by Right Sector and other pro-regime factions in Odessa. After the massacre, anti-regime sentiment reached a fevered pitch. Protesters stormed the Odessa police station holding the survivors arrested earlier, prompting security forces to release them. While the newly appointed police chief of Odessa vows to “revise” the releases, it appears the city he resides over is divided and that further attempts to reassert Kiev’s control there will only result in more violence.

Meanwhile, the positions of anti-regime protesters elsewhere across the country have only hardened. Eastern cities like Slavyansk are standing firm against full-scale military operations launched by the regime in Kiev to consolidate their power across the rest of the country. Heavily armed gunships, armored vehicles, and special forces have been operating around the edges of towns and cities in the east of Ukraine, but have thus far been unable to enter them. The Western media, eager to report on progress made by Kiev, can only report on outer checkpoints and remote positions being taken by security forces.

The BBC’s report titled, “Ukraine unrest: PM blames security service over Odessa,” claims:

The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford, in the regional capital, Donetsk, says that while it appears the Ukrainian forces have sealed off the roads in and out of the town, they are moving around it and concentrating on smaller towns nearby.

Neo-Nazi Militants Rebranded as “Football Hooligans” 

Lacking a cohesive military, Kiev has heavily depended on militant groups like Right Sector. Reeling from negative headlines since the height of the “Euromadain,” the regime is now attempting to portray Neo-Nazi militant groups as “football hooligans” operating beyond their control – even as officials like Odessa’s new police chief openly calls for closer coordination with them.

This is a familiar formula used across much of Europe’s racist, bigoted, nationalist movements, many of which are closely affiliated with Neo-Nazi groups active in Ukraine. The English Defense League (EDL), for example, draws direct parallels with Neo-Nazism, so much so that its own founder abandoned the movement after claiming it was in fact co-opted by Neo-Nazis. In the The Times article, “EDL chief Tommy Robinson quits after ‘neo-Nazi hijack of group’,” it states:

Tommy Robinson, the founder of the English Defence League, unexpectedly quit the organisation yesterday after claiming that it had been hijacked by extremists, including neo-Nazis.

The EDL’s composition of football hooligans and Neo-Nazis is repeated elsewhere. In a January 2014 Spiegel Online article titled, “‘Prepared to Die’: The Right Wing’s Role in Ukrainian Protests,” it described Ukraine’s Svoboda Party in relation to other Neo-Nazi groups across Europe:

The Svoboda party also has excellent ties to Europe, but they are different from the ones that Klischko might prefer. It is allied with France’s right-wing Front National and with the Italian neo-fascist group Fiamma Tricolore. But when it comes to the oppression of homosexuality, representative [Igor] Myroshnychenko is very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, even if he does all he can to counter Moscow’s influence in his country.

In the coming days and weeks, Right Sector and Svoboda’s militant street front will continue coordinating with Kiev’s more heavily armed security forces in an attempt to consolidate its power across much of Ukraine. Already, the unelected government has declared its intention to deploy “special forces” to Odessa to rectify what it calls an “outrageous failure” to stop anti-regime protesters. This indicates that the “failure” was not the loss of life during clashes, but the failure to crush anti-regime sentiment across Odessa.

The regime and its Western sponsors will attempt to cover up, spin, and otherwise disassociate themselves from the inevitable atrocities that will be carried out as they attempt to do so. Portraying Neo-Nazi militants as “football hooligans” that are spontaneously taking to the streets and “coincidentally” helping Kiev eliminate its political opponents appears to be the narrative of choice and will almost certainly lead to both more incidents like the massacre in Odessa, and a greater backlash against the unpopular, struggling regime in Kiev.

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

Cities in eastern and southern Ukraine have become battlefields as the junta in Kiev has unleashed military and paramilitary thugs on the people of those regions.

At the same time the media, with its critical role in shaping public opinion, has also become one of the principal theaters in this ongoing conflict, with Western propaganda being one of the most potent weapons.

Seventy-three years ago this October, the infamous “Odessa Massacre” of 1941, which killed more than 30,000 Jews in the Ukrainian port city and surrounding areas, was carried out by Romanian fascist troops in collaboration with their Nazi patrons and allies. The pogrom, merely one of many against Jews and other minorities in Ukraine, is a stark historical reminder to the people of Odessa (and all those throughout the former Soviet Union who fought against fascism during the war) of the depravity, inhumanity, and barbarism of Nazis and their collaborators.

Anti-goverment activists and supporters of the Kiev government clash in the streets of Odessa May 2, 2014 (Reuters / Yevgeny Volokin)

Anti-goverment activists and supporters of the Kiev government clash in the streets of Odessa May 2, 2014 (Reuters / Yevgeny Volokin)

And now, 73 years later, Odessa is the scene of yet another horrific war crime carried out by fascists against innocent civilians. The fire and massacre at the Trade Unions building which killed dozens of anti-fascist activists and employees in the building, will serve as a painful testimony to the ongoing struggle against the junta in Kiev and its neo-Nazi paramilitary foot soldiers. This obvious war crime, along with a number of others committed by the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalist (read fascist) militias, should undoubtedly be the issue making headlines around the world.

And yet, it seems that somehow the slaughter of innocents, and the issue of criminal accountability for those who ordered and carried out the massacre, has been completely and systematically distorted and/or omitted from the Western narrative. Instead, the corporate media has deliberately attempted to obscure the true nature of the events of that day, and those leading up to and subsequent to it, in order to dilute the impact of the self-evident, and quite damning, criminality of the fascist militias and their leaders and patrons. By using subtle, coded language that deliberately minimizes the barbarism of the events and shifts blame from Kiev to Moscow, the mainstream Western media once again acts as the dutiful servant of the US-EU ruling establishment.

 

Protesters look at a fire in the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

Protesters look at a fire in the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

What they are saying (and not saying)

In examining the way in which the events in Odessa, and those that have taken place in other regions since May 1, have been portrayed, a few common features emerge. First and foremost is the language used to describe the anti-fascist demonstrators who made up the majority of the victims in Odessa. In a woefully dishonest and biased article published by Reuters entitled “Ukraine moving police special forces to control Odessa,” the authors utilize critical terminology such as “pro-Russian separatists” and “militants,” in fact using them interchangeably as a means of “branding” the activists as something other than peaceful Ukrainians demonstrating for their rights.

Naturally, the phrase “pro-Russian separatists” is entirely misleading on a number of levels. First, the anti-fascist, anti-junta activists (as they should rightly be labeled) are not separatists in the true sense of the word. They do not seek secession outright, but have been demonstrating for weeks in favor of a federalized Ukraine where the rights of Russian-speakers and other minorities would be respected and constitutionally guaranteed. They were demanding that their long-standing historical, familial, and economic ties with Russia not be severed by force of an illegal government in Kiev and its paramilitary shock troops. Far from being “separatists” these activists, scores of whom have already been killed, injured, and/or taken prisoner, have been standing up for a just and peaceful Ukraine instead of the ochlocracy brought about by the junta.

It is equally important to note the use of the word “militants” to describe the anti-junta activists. The implication of using such a designation has to do with assigning guilt to the serious crimes that have been committed. Essentially, by referring to the victims of the crimes as “militants,” this justifies the actions taken by Right Sector and other fascists by portraying them as necessary and just in the fight against the “pro-Russian militants.” Moreover, designating the activists as militants is an attempt to insulate the illegal government in Kiev from the obvious war crimes charges that they would face were the propaganda mouthpieces in the media actually reporting the story factually. And so, by using such terminology, the media is, in effect, providing political cover to a criminal regime backed by the West. This is certainly par for the course.

The same Reuters article focuses broadly on the move by the junta’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov to create a new “special forces unit” to replace the Odessa police which, according to Avakov, committed an “outrageous” failure by releasing dozens of survivors who had been taken into custody and held as prisoners without receiving proper medical care. The article discusses Avakov’s statement about the creation of “Kiev-1,” a special unit made up of “’civil activists’ who wanted to help the Black Sea city “in these difficult days.’”

 

A protester walks past a burning tent camp and a fire in the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

A protester walks past a burning tent camp and a fire in the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

Naturally, there is no direct mention of exactly who will be part of this new special force, other than a passing reference to the fact that “The units Avakov referred to emerged partly from the uprising against Yanukovich early this year.” This is unmistakably a veiled reference to Right Sector and other fascist paramilitary forces which, in contrast to regular police and Ukrainian military, can be counted on by Kiev to carry out war crimes and other atrocities against anyone they perceive as “Moskals” (a derogatory term for Russians and Russian-speakers).

Another critical feature of the article which serves the propaganda agenda of the West is the description of the events that led the Odessa police to release dozens of the survivors-turned-prisoners. The authors of the article describe the peaceful demonstration that surrounded the police headquarters demanding the release of their friends and family utterly dishonestly. The article states, “Kiev’s anger on Monday focused on the Odessa police decision to release 67 largely pro-Russian militants after supporters besieged and stormed a police station [emphasis added] on Sunday.”

By describing the peaceful protest as “besieging and storming,” the reader is given the impression that the “separatists” (also referred to as “terrorists” and “rebels” by the criminal regime in Kiev and its patrons in the West) are the true initiators of violence and conflict. Naturally, though the opposite is true, the seed is planted in the public consciousness. Thus the activists are branded, like a common consumer product or a public relations campaign.

And so, the Reuters article successfully obscures the nature of the new force, its actual role, the crimes committed on the ground, and the nature of the opposition. By doing so Reuters, like the New York Times and its corporate media brethren, successfully spreads misinformation and disinformation in the service of the US-EU-NATO imperial system.

In fact, the aforementioned New York Times, refusing to be outdone, published its own highly biased and propagandistic article on the events in Odessa and throughout the East and South. Entitled “Ukraine’s Reins Weaken as Chaos Spreads,” the article presents Kiev, and specifically the junta’s Prime Minister Yatsenyuk (handpicked by the West), as victims of Russian treachery, portraying him as a victim of Russian aggression and provocation. After quoting Yatsenyuk’s inflammatory, distortion-filled statement in which he blamed the victims in Odessa, referring to the events as “resulting from a well-prepared and organized action against people, against Ukraine, and against Odessa,” the Times reporter then went on parrot Kiev and Washington’s talking points on the subject.

 

People gather in front of Ukrainian Interior Ministry security forces members who formed a cordon outside a city police department in the Black Sea port of Odessa May 4, 2014. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

People gather in front of Ukrainian Interior Ministry security forces members who formed a cordon outside a city police department in the Black Sea port of Odessa May 4, 2014. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

The articles states that “Mr. Yatsenyuk said the violence showed that Russia wanted to rekindle unrest in Odessa, as it had in eastern Ukrainian cities.” Immediately following this statement, which is the product of hearsay rather than substantiated evidence, the article proceeds to discuss Russian “imperial ambitions” as evidenced by Crimea and Putin’s alleged desire to reestablish Russian dominion over “Novorossiya” (New Russia). This is a standard tactic of misinformation and propaganda: create an association in the mind of the reader such that an abstract relationship (Protesters=Russian militants=Putin=Russian imperialism) becomes the rubric by which all developments are measured and understood.

Finally, the Times article also attempts to suppress the reality of both Odessa and the eastern region of Donetsk, which has been the center of much anti-fascist, anti-junta organizing, including the declaration of the People’s Republic of Donetsk. The reporter writes, “The violence on Friday and the freeing of prisoners on Sunday highlighted a distinction between Odessa and the east: In both places, the police have sided with rebels. But here, local pro-Kiev activists routinely field street fighters ready to confront the Novorossiya group, with lethal consequences on Friday.” Essentially, the purpose of this sentence is four-fold.

First, it is to substantiate the claim made by Yatsenyuk that police forces are “criminal” because they refuse to take part in the suppression and violence directed towards their brothers and sisters, cousins and neighbors, completely glossing over the fact that this unmistakably indicates that the majority of people want nothing to do with the so-called “anti-terror” operation being conducted by Kiev’s forces.

Second, the excerpt shows how deceptively the corporate media is handling the issue of public opinion. The author completely glosses over, with no explanation, the fact that in each city in the South and East, the police and many military units have sided with the protesters, rather than carry out their criminal orders from Kiev. An objective story would highlight this fact in demonstrating that the junta in Kiev does not rule with the consent of the people and that it, in fact, is a minority ruling through violence, intimidation, and Western backing. In burying this important aspect of the story, the author and his editors have engaged in utterly transparent propagandizing of the issue in the service of the West.

 

A woman lays flowers by the fence of the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow on May 3, 2014, in honor of people killed during clashes in Odessa. (AFP Photo)

A woman lays flowers by the fence of the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow on May 3, 2014, in honor of people killed during clashes in Odessa. (AFP Photo)

Third, the excerpt illustrates the precariousness of presenting Washington’s PR-friendly version of facts. By using the phrase “local pro-Kiev activists,” the article completely whitewashes the true nature of the forces that committed the atrocity. Far from being “activists,” the so called “pro-Kiev” forces were actually Nazi paramilitary groups including Right Sector which not only likely set the initial blaze, but was also documented on video as beating the survivors with chains and clubs, denying them emergency medical care, and more. But, by describing these criminals as activists, the Times does yeoman’s work for Washington and Kiev, establishing a biased framework within which readers would perceive the conflict.

Finally, the way in which the article designates the groups as “Kiev activists” versus the “Novorossiya group” is a transparent propaganda ploy designed to, once again, create a false dichotomy in the minds of ill-informed readers. The fascist mobs are merely “activists,” while the anti-Kiev protesters are the “Novorossiya group,” meaning they are not Ukrainians with their own agency, but are agents of Russian imperialism. The author purposely denies the agency of these protesters in order to both legitimize the criminal actions of the fascists, and de-legitimize the peaceful protests of the anti-fascist opposition. Dishonesty might not be a strong enough word to describe such underhanded journalistic tactics.

The grisly events in Odessa, as well as the deadly assaults on Slovyansk, Kramatorsk and other eastern cities, undoubtedly mark a turning point in the conflict in Ukraine. More than merely an important moment, these criminal actions represent a “point of no return,” the moment at which any hopes for a peaceful and bloodless resolution to the crisis were dashed. Despite the droning propaganda emanating from Western corporate media, the world cannot and should not excuse these horrific war crimes. More to the point, they should serve as a reminder that the struggle for Ukraine has a price, one which could have been denominated in dollars, euros and rubles. But now, thanks to Kiev, Brussels, and Washington, the price will be paid in blood.

Today the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released a White Book on violations of human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine since November 2013.

The book is divided into six chapters:

  • Violations of Human rights;
  • Interference by the European Union and the United States;
  • Weapons and violent methods used by the protesters;
  • Restrictions on basic freedoms and crackdown on dissidents;
  • Discrimination based on ethnic background;
  • Religious persecution.

Full text of the White Book in PDF:

White bookThe report contains a chronological record of the HR violations in Ukraine based on monitoring of Ukrainian, Russian and some Western media, statements and announcements made by the leaders of the “new government” of Ukraine and their supporters, numerous eyewitness accounts, including those posted on the Internet, as well as records based on observations and interviews with people on the scene, and those collected by non-governmental organization The Foundation for Researching Problems in Democracy, and the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights. It is supported by extensive photo and documentary footage.

The facts exposed in the book clearly demonstrate that under the influence of extremists from ultranationalistic and neo-Nazi forces, and with the active support of the USA and the European Union and its members, the protests in Ukraine which bore an initially peaceful character rapidly escalated into a coercive rebellion and, in the end, the forceful seizure of power and an unconstitutional coup d’état.

These dramatic events were accompanied by widespread and gross violations of human rights and freedoms on the part of the self-proclaimed government and its supporters. As a result, manifestations of extremist, ultranationalist, and neo-Nazi sentiments, religious intolerance, xenophobia, blatant blackmail, threats, pressure placed by the Maidan leaders on their opponents, purges and arrests amongst them, repression, physical violence, and sometimes plain criminal lawlessness have become commonplace in today’s Ukraine.

In all of Ukraine’s regions, but especially in the southeastern part of the country, Ukrainian radical nationalists, instructed by the de facto authorities in Kiev and their external patrons, are ramping up the pressure on Russian-speaking citizens who do not want to lose the centuries-old ties that bind them to Russia and Russian culture.

The reporting covers the period since November 2013 till the end of March 2014. The situation even worsened later on and culminated in the horrific massacre committed by the Ukrainian ultras in Odessa on May 2, 2014 leaving 46 dead (officially) and hundreds of wounded.

ORIENTAL REVIEW calls all concerned citizens of the world to deliver this report to your national authorities and distribute it widely among relevant institutions and parties. Together we can stop the madness of war and ethnic terrorism in Ukraine!

Global Research Editorial Note

It is convenient to note that the US has been facilitating arms shipments to rebels fighting in Syria for a long time. Obama signed a presidential finding, which gave authority to the CIA to arm and fund the rebels” fighting in Syria and, in relation to the Benghazi Scandal, “Mounting evidence indicates both Obama and Clinton were engaged in a highly covert and illicit arms smuggling operation moving weapons from Libya through Turkey to the anti-Assad rebels in Syria.” For more details, read The Benghazi Scandal Is Obama’s Watergate But Worse.


Observers of the Central Intelligence Agency know that the Agency maintains two widely acknowledged facilities inside the United States —both in the state of Virginia. One is its headquarters in Langley. The other is inside the Armed Forces Experimental Training Activity, known more commonly as Camp Peary, located near Williamsburg, where officers of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service are allegedly trained.

However, for many decades researchers have speculated that the Agency maintains a third facility, which it uses to stockpile and distribute weapons around the world. The facility has been referred to in declassified documents as the “Midwest Depot”. It is said that billions of dollars of untraceable weapons have been dispatched from the “Midwest Depot” to CIA-supported groups such as Brigade 2506, which conducted the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Other paramilitary groups said to have received weapons from the CIA’s “Midwest Depot” include the Honduras-based Contras, who fought the Sandinistas government in 1980s’ Nicaragua, Angola’s UNITA anti-communist group, as well as the Sunni mujahedeen who fought the Soviet Red Army in Afghanistan.

Now the location of this mysterious depot may have been unearthed thanks to Allen Thomson, a retired CIA analyst. In a 73-page research paper, Thomson concludes that the location of the “Midwest Depot” is actually in Texas. The paper has been published (.pdf) on the website of the Federation of American Scientists’ Intelligence Resource Program, which maintains an extensive archive on topics of current interest to intelligence researchers. Based on what The New York Times calls “a mosaic of documentation”, Thomson claims that the CIA’s “Midwest Depot” is located inside Camp Stanley, located north of San Antonio, Texas.

The latter is officially indexed as a US Army weapons depot. But Thomson says the depot is in fact commanded by the CIA. His paper highlights an explicit reference made to Texas in a memo drafted in 1986 by Colonel Oliver North, who was eventually convicted in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal. In it, North states that the CIA would transport missiles headed for Iran from a military facility to its “Midwest Depot, Texas”.

More recently, says Thomson, Camp Stanley placed a purchase order for over two million rounds of ammunition used for AK-47 rifles, which, says the former CIA analyst, US troops have no use for. Thomson told The Times that he is worried about the fate of the CIA’s “untraceable” weapons. Specifically, he is “worried about the extent to which the US has spread small arms around over the decades [...]. Such weapons are pretty durable and, after the cause du jour has passed, where did they go? How many of those AK-47s and RPG-7s do we see Islamists waving around today?”, he adds.

The Times checked with the US Department of Defense and the CIA, but their spokespersons declined to comment. A spokesperson at Camp Stanley would only say that the facility is “a weapons storage and testing facility for the military”.

May Day demonstrations in Detroit this year were focused around the ongoing struggle against emergency management, forced bankruptcy and the role of the banks in the economic crisis. A coalition of 35 organizations, including the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management (D-REM), the local chapter of the National Action Network (NAN), the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute and others, came together for a day of actions in support of labor and the movement to reclaim the political direction of the majority African American city.

Held under the theme of “No Business As Usual,” organizers appealed to the public to refrain from going work, buying consumer goods and to take the struggle to the streets to make the presence of the people felt. The day began at 8:00 a.m. with an ecumenical gathering at the hall of UAW Local 600, the largest autoworkers union in the United States.

This event was broadcast live over TV 33 based in Highland Park, an African American owned network that also simulcasts on the largest cable network in the region. Speakers at the event included former Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, Rev. David Bullock of Greater St. Mathews Baptist Church in Highland Park, David Sole of the Stop the Theft of Our Pensions Committee (STOPC) and many others.

After the morning rally, a car caravan mobilized at UAW Local 600 traveled down Vernon Street in the center of the Latino immigrant community as an act of solidarity in support of immigrant rights. The caravan arrived at Hart Plaza downtown at Noon where it was welcomed by cheers of hundreds who had already gathered at the location which is a major thoroughfare in the municipal and financial district of the city.

After a rally at Hart Plaza where many retirees and community residents spoke out against the stealing of the vote, the threats against pensioners and the role of the banks in the destruction of the city, a section of the demonstration moved into the street and blocked traffic on Jefferson avenue where hundreds of vehicles were coming off of the Lodge freeway. Although the police attempted to encourage the demonstrators to leave, they were able to hold the area for over twenty minutes creating a logjam throughout downtown.

‘Make the Banks Pay’  

By this time marchers had taken the streets on Woodward Ave., the city’s main thoroughfare, where they began to march into the heart of the financial district. Marchers began to chant “Make the Banks Pay” as they walked two blocks to the Detroit headquarters of Chase Bank.

Demonstrators moved onto the steps of the bank while a contingent of the protesters walked right into the building chanting “Make the Banks Pay.” Within seconds the corridors on the first floor were filled with angry demonstrators. The management and security personnel moved rapidly to lock the doors leading into sensitive areas of the building.

People held the building for several minutes and then marched back into streets on Fort Ave., where they headed toward the federal courthouse, the location where the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history is being litigated. A brief rally in front of the federal courthouse condemned the entire process of forced bankruptcy and demanded that the state constitutional protections for pensions be upheld in court proceedings.

‘Show Orr the Door’  

After the federal courthouse rally, marchers headed up Washington Blvd. to the Westin Hotel where state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr is housed in a $4,200 a-month penthouse. A section of the demonstration militantly burst through the lobby doors chanting ‘Show Orr the Door.’

Protesters marched around the entire lobby and first floor area of the five-star hotel denouncing Orr and demanding that he be forced to leave the city. Police arrived several minutes later but did not make any arrests when people decided to leave the building and head towards another area of downtown.

Capitalist interests in the city have embarked upon a massive gentrification program in downtown. Senior citizens, workers and people living with disabilities are being forced out of apartments in the area and a new social layer of corporate managers and business people are being moved into buildings where rents have been raised by 400-500 percent.

‘Stop Gentrification’  

The May Day march quickly moved to the Capital Park district of downtown where gentrification and dislocation are the order of the day. Chanting ‘stop gentrification’, the demonstrators stood outside “The Albert”, a row of buildings where people have been evicted to make room for the higher income managers and businesspeople connected with the ruling class interests of Quicken Loans, Little Ceasars Pizza, and other capitalists who are seeking to displace thousands living in the areas of downtown, Brush Park and the Cass Corridor.

The owners of the Redwings Hockey and the Tigers Baseball teams have been given free land and enormous tax breaks to build a new arena downtown that will force the closure of small businesses and pressurize others to leave the neighborhood. A rally was then held at Grand Circus Park which has recently been placed under private management by banking mogul and large-scale real estate owner Dan Gilbert.

A representative of Moratorium NOW! Coalition who spoke at the Grand Circus Park rally was described by CBS News which reported that “One speaker with a bullhorn said protesters were there to chase Mike Ilitch, Roger Penske, Chase Bank, and other corporate entities out of town. ‘This is our city, we built this city, we built this economy and we’re not playing, we are sick and tired of these lying dogs,’ the speaker said. ‘Our ancestors ended slavery, they built the UAW,’ he added.”

The final part of the May Day activities concluded with a speak-out at Central United Methodist Church located across the street from Grand Circus Park. Workers, retirees and youth spoke to the need to escalate the struggle against the emergency management and the banks.

Speakers were also present from Flint and Highland Park, two majority African American cities that are also under emergency management by the state. Efforts to organize statewide are continuing and a meeting was held in Highland Park on May 3 which enjoyed the participation of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management (D-REM), the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, and other groups.

Retirees and workers are demanding that the union leaders hold a mass meeting to explain the latest revisions within the plan of adjustment for the bankruptcy hearing coming up in late July. Although media reports indicate that Orr has backed off steep pension cuts, other provisions within the plan indicate that there are many uncertainties and conditions that are disadvantageous for the workers and retirees.

Many May Day participants said they will vote no on the plan of adjustment which is a program for the further enrichment of the banks and corporations at the expense of the workers. A call has gone out across the U.S. for people to come to Detroit on July 24, the tentative opening day of the trial on the plan of adjustment, for a mass demonstration against austerity, the attacks on pensions and public assets in the city, the state and across the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill to create a national card payment system, the Kremlin press service said Monday.

The Russian parliament approved the bill last month.

Plans to establish a national card payment processing system emerged in response to Ukraine-related sanctions that saw several Russian banks denied service by global powerhouses Visa and MasterCard, troubling the general public and raising concern over the security of the country’s financial system.

As a reaction to Crimea reunifying with Russia in mid-March, the US introduced targeted sanctions against Russian officials and Rossiya Bank, considered by the US Treasury to be a private bank for many Russian government officials.

Following the move, Visa and MasterCard stopped client operations for cardholders at Rossiya Bank, SMP Bank, as well as their subsidiaries Sobinbank and Investkapitalbank with no prior notice, causing a serious drop in the consumer confidence of the banks.

According to Russian Central Bank estimates, building the infrastructure for the launch of the national payment system may take up to six months, but the distribution of the cards to the public could take up to two years.

Visa and MasterCard have announced they were concerned about the future of their business in Russia in light of the new legislation.

Image: Luciano Romero, murdered Nestlé trade union activist.

This article was first published by WhoWhatWhy.

Switzerland’s highest court is about to decide whether top managers at Nestlé—by revenue the world’s largest food company—will be investigated in connection with the murder of a former employee in Colombia.

Paramilitary thugs tortured and killed trade union activist Luciano Romero in 2005—just before he was to testify at the Permanent People’s Tribunal on Nestlé’s corporate and trade union policies.

Lower Swiss courts have ruled against an investigation of the company despite recommendations from a Colombian judge, but his widow launched an appeal earlier this year to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.

The death of Romero, who worked for Nestlé’s subsidiary Cicolac for twenty years, was an all too familiar reminder of the dangers faced by trade unionists in Colombia. Right wing paramilitary groups—often encouraged by public officials—have frequently attacked labor organizers.

Courageous Judge Forced into Exile

Romero’s case drew international attention when a Colombian judge sentenced his killers to prison—a rarity in a country where justice typically bows to political and economic power.  And that judge, José Nirio Sanchez, said there should be further investigation—both at the local and international levels—into the role of Nestlé. But the judge himself was forced into exile in the United States after the ruling.

Image right: Judge José Nirio Sanchez in 2009 (photo: Adam Wright, Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO)

Judge Sanchez later said it was those who order the executions and put up the money—what he called the ‘intellectual” players—who are most to blame for the continuing violence.  “Thus, these crimes will not stop, since the true perpetrators are not prosecuted,” he told the US House Committee on Education and Labor in 2009.

No Protection for Employees

The legal team for Romero’s widow in Switzerland and his Colombian trade union, Sinaltrainal, submitted a request to Swiss public prosecutors to look into Nestlé’s role in the death. They argued that executives at Nestlé are complicit in the murder because they did nothing to prevent the killing, despite being informed of death threats against him.

Worse yet, executives at Nestlé may even have known its representatives encouraged Romero’s murder.

The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) joined the case, claiming that Nestlé managers knew of company representatives in Colombia with close ties to paramilitary groups. What’s more, ECCHR said, company managers referred to Romero as a “guerilla fighter” which, in Colombia, is tantamount to a death sentence.

Lots of Protection for Nestlé

In May 2013, more than a year after Romero’s widow and Sinaltrainal asked Swiss prosecutors to investigate Nestlé in connection with the killing, the request was denied. Prosecutors said such an investigation was precluded by a statute of limitations: too much time had passed since the murder. The Cantonal (District) Court of Vaud backed the prosecutors, leading to the Supreme Court appeal.

Lawyers for Romero’s widow have also accused the Swiss Prosecutors office of using formalities to delay proceedings—effectively running out the clock on the statute of limitations—in order to protect one of the country’s biggest companies.

Image: Aerial view of Nestlé’s headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland

“That would be the conclusion to make,” Annelen Micus, legal advisor at the ECCHR, told WhoWhatWhy. “It’s not common to deal with cases that way. If it’s looking like the prosecutors will not move forward with an investigation, they tend to announce that within a couple of months.”

This is not the first time Swiss prosecutors have refused to investigate accusations against Nestlé. They previously dropped a case against the company when it was accused of hiring a security firm to infiltrate and spy on a Swiss NGO, whose members were writing a book about Nestlé’s policies. The case eventually had to be heard in a civil court where, in January 2013, Nestlé was found guilty.

The current case against the giant food conglomerate is a test for a decade-old corporate responsibility law in Switzerland. According to Micus, the law allows Swiss courts to hold companies criminally responsible for things that happen to employees abroad. In the ten years it’s been on the books, it has yet to be used in a human rights case.

“It’s a chance to establish a standard of human rights due diligence,” Micus told WhoWhatWhy. A ruling in favor of the investigation could set a precedent for further cases.

Other Nestlé Employees Murdered

The appeal in the Romero case comes just months after Oscar Lopez Trivino, another Nestlé employee in Colombia, was murdered. Like Romero, he belonged to the Sinaltrainal trade union and according to some sources was the fourteenth active or former employee of Nestlé killed in Colombia since 1986—most of them Sinaltrainal leaders. Nestlé has acknowledged that seven of its unionized employees, as well as several white-collar employees, have been killed.

Image right: A banner commemorates some of the murdered trade unionists who worked at Nestlé.

But spokesperson Philippe Aeschlimann told WhoWhatWhy that the company rejects all of Sinaltrainal’s accusations and says Nestlé provided security measures to union leaders, such as temporary relocation as well as increased security at their homes and at the union headquarters. “These were not designed to replace the State’s obligation to protect them,” Aeschlimann said, “but the union often rejected the offer of protection, arguing that the protection of their leaders was the responsibility of the Colombian government.” He also said: “Nestlé condemns all forms of violence. We have never used violence, nor have we associated with criminals. We have no responsibility whatsoever, directly or indirectly, neither by action nor omission for the murder of Luciano Romero.”

Labor rights activists will be closely watching the upcoming ruling by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland. Small wonder:  Few means exist to protect those standing up for employee rights in countries with little “rule of law.” Holding companies to account on their home turf, in First World countries claiming to be civilized and decent, may be the best strategy.

Watch judge José Nirio Sanchez’ 2009 testimony before the US House Committee on Education and Labor (an English translator follows the Spanish statement).

Los barones de la banca y de la droga

May 5th, 2014 by Eric Toussaint

El caso del banco británico HSBC constituye un ejemplo suplementario de la doctrina “demasiado grandes para ser encarcelados” |1|. En 2014 el grupo mundial HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghái Banking Corporation), emplea a 260.000 personas, está presente en 75 países y declara 54 millones de clientes |2|. En el transcurso del último decenio el HSBC ha colaborado con los cárteles de la droga de México y Colombia, responsables de (decenas de) miles de asesinatos con armas de fuego, en el blanqueo de dinero por un montante aproximado de 880 millones de dólares |3|. Las relaciones comerciales del banco británico con los cárteles de la droga han perdurado a pesar de decenas de notificaciones y de advertencias por parte de diferentes agencias gubernamentales de los Estados Unidos (entre ellas la OCC, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency – Oficina del Controlador de la Moneda). Los beneficios obtenidos han conducido al HSBC no solo a ignorar las advertencias sino, además, a abrir ventanillas especiales en sus locales de México, en los que los narcotraficantes podían depositar cajas llenas de dinero en efectivo para facilitar el proceso de blanqueo |4|. A pesar de la actitud abiertamente provocadora del HSBC hacia la Ley, las consecuencias legales de su colaboración directa con organizaciones criminales fueron prácticamente nulas. En diciembre de 2012, HSBC tuvo que pagar una multa de 1,9 millardos de dólares -es decir, el equivalente a una semana de ingresos del banco- para dejar cerrado el asunto del blanqueo. Ni un solo dirigente o empleado ha sido puesto ante la justicia, aunque la colaboración con organizaciones terroristas o la participación en actividades ligadas al narcotráfico están condenadas con cinco años de prisión. Ser dirigente de un gran banco da carta blanca para facilitar, con total impunidad, el tráfico de drogas duras u otros crímenes.

El International Herald Tribune (IHT) ha realizado una investigación para conocer qué debates habían tenido lugar al respecto en el seno del Departamento de Justicia. Según las informaciones obtenidas por el periódico, varios fiscales querían que HSBC se declarara culpable y reconociera así que había violado la ley que le obligaba a informar a las autoridades sobre la existencia de transacciones superiores a 10.000 dólares identificadas como dudosas. Esto habría debido conllevar la retirada de su licencia bancaria y el fin de las actividades de HSBC en Estados Unidos. Tras varios meses de discusiones, una mayoría de los fiscales tomó otro camino y decidió que no había lugar a perseguir al banco por actividades criminales, pues era preciso evitar su cierre. Convenía incluso evitar ensuciar demasiado su imagen |5|. A la multa menor de 1,9 millardos de dólares se le añade entonces una especie de período de prueba: si, entre 2013 y 2018 las autoridades tienen la prueba de que HSBC no ha puesto fin definitivamente a las prácticas que han provocado la sanción (no es una condena), el Departamento de Justicia podría contemplar reabrir el expediente. En definitiva, la medida puede ser resumida así: “Pequeño diablillo, danos una semana de tu paga y que no te pillemos de nuevo en cinco años”. Tenemos aquí un ejemplo evidente de la fórmula “demasiado grande para ser condenado”.

En julio de 2013, en una comisión senatorial que trataba el asunto del HSBC, Elizabeth Warren, una senadora demócrata del estado de Massachusetts, puso a prueba a David Cohen, representante del ministerio de finanzas, en el que ocupa el puesto de subsecretario responsable de la lucha contra el terrorismo y el espionaje financiero. Grosso modo le planteó lo siguiente: “El gobierno de los Estados Unidos se toma muy en serio el blanqueo de dinero (…). Es posible cerrar un banco que se ha visto implicado en el blanqueo de dinero, se puede prohibir a determinados individuos el ejercicio de una profesión o una actividad en las finanzas, y alguien puede ser enviado a la cárcel. Sin embargo, en diciembre de 2012 el HSBC… confesó haber blanqueado 881 millones de dólares procedentes de los cárteles mexicanos y colombianos de la droga, y el banco ha admitido también haber violado las sanciones. HSBC no lo ha hecho solo una vez, sino de forma reiterada. HSBC ha pagado una multa pero ningún individuo ha sido expulsado de la profesión bancaria y no se ha oído hablar de un posible cierre de las actividades de HSBC en Estados Unidos. Querría que nos respondería a la siguiente pregunta: ¿cuantos miles de millones de dólares debe blanquear un banco antes de que se considere la posibilidad de cerrarlo?”. El representante del Tesoro salió por la tangente afirmando que el expediente era demasiado complejo para emitir una opinión |6|. La senadora prosiguió, declarando que cuando un pequeño vendedor de cocaína es atrapado se va a la cárcel para varios años, mientras que un banquero que blanquea millones de dólares de la droga puede volver tranquilamente a su casa sin temer nada de la Justicia. Este extracto de la audiencia está disponible en vídeo y vale la pena visionarlo |7|.

Stephen Green, patrón de HSBC (2003-2010) convertido en ministro británico de comercio (2011-2013): una figura emblemática

La biografía de Stephen Green constituye una ilustración viva de la relación simbiótica entre las finanzas y el gobierno. Incluso va aún más lejos, pues no contento con servir lo mejor posible a los intereses del gran capital, en tanto que banquero y luego ministro, es asimismo pastor de la Iglesia oficial anglicana. Ha escrito dos libros sobre ética y negocios, uno de ellos titulado ¿Servir a Dios? ¿Servir a Mammón? |8|. El título del libro remite en particular al Nuevo Testamento: “Ningún hombre puede servir a dos dueños: pues siempre odiará a uno y amará al otro. No se puede servir a la vez a Dios y a Mammón” |9|. Mammón representa la riqueza, la avaricia, la ganancia, el tesoro. Se encuentra esa palabra en arameo, en hebreo y en fenicio. A veces Mammón es asociado con Satanás. En cuanto a Stephen Green es honrado por las más altas autoridades universitarias y es manifiestamente intocable.

Pasemos revista a algunos elementos de su biografía. Comienza su carrera en el Ministerio británico para el Desarrollo de Ultramar, pero pasa al sector privado y trabaja para la consultora internacional McKinsey. En 1982 es contratado por el HSBC, el principal banco británico, y ocupa allí rápidamente funciones de alta responsabilidad. Finalmente, en 2003, se convierte en director ejecutivo de HSBC y en 2006 accede a la presidencia del grupo permaneciendo en ella hasta 2010.

Las acusaciones planteadas por las autoridades estadounidenses en materia de blanqueo de 881 millardos de dólares procedente de los cárteles de la droga, así como de otras organizaciones criminales se refieren al período 2003-2010. Según el informe de 334 páginas, hecho público por una comisión del Senado estadounidense en 2012, Stephen Green, ya en 2005 es informado por un empleado del banco de que se han puesto en marcha por el HSBC mecanismos para el blanqueo en México y que tienen lugar múltiples operaciones de legalidad dudosa. Siempre durante 2005, la agencia financiera Bloomberg, radicada en Nueva York, acusa a HSBC de blanquear dinero de la droga. Stephen Green responde que se trata de un ataque irresponsable y sin fundamento que pone afecta a la reputación de un gran banco internacional por encima de toda sospecha. En 2008, una agencia federal de los Estados Unidos comunica a Stephen Green que las autoridades mexicanas han descubierto la existencia de operaciones de blanqueo realizadas por HSBC México y una de sus filiales en un paraíso fiscal del Caribe (“Rama de las islas Caimán”). La agencia añade que esto puede implicar una responsabilidad penal para el HSBC |10|. A partir de ese momento, las autoridades estadounidenses de control dirigen repetidas advertencias a la dirección del banco, a menudo bastante suaves teniendo en cuenta la gravedad de los hechos. Este último promete modificar su comportamiento pero, en realidad, las prácticas criminales prosiguen. Finalmente a las advertencias les sigue un requerimiento formal, en octubre de 2010 para cesar las prácticas delictivas |11|. A finales de 2012, tras la presentación pública del informe de la comisión senatorial y de meses de debate entre diferentes agencias de seguridad de Estados Unidos se le impone a HSBC una multa de 1,9 millardos de dólares.

Stephen Green está bien situado como para saber lo que hacía el banco en México, en los paraísos fiscales, en Oriente Medio y en Estados Unidos pues, además de dirigir el conjunto del grupo HSBC, dirigió en el pasado HSBC Bermudas |12| (un paraíso fiscal), HSBC México, HSBC Oriente Medio. Ha sido igualmente presidente de HSBC Private Banking Holdings S.A. (Suiza) y de HSBC North America Holdings Inc.

Cuando el público se entera, durante el año 2012, de que el HSBC va a tener que pagar probablemente una fuerte multa en Estados Unidos por blanqueo de dinero procedente de los cárteles de la droga, Stephen Green no es ya el gran patrón de HSBC, sino ministro del gobierno conservador-liberal dirigido por el primer ministro David Cameron.

Pequeña vuelta atrás para constatar que el timing seguido por Stephen Green ha sido perfecto. Arte de altura. En febrero de 2010 publica el libro El justo valor: reflexiones sobre la moneda, la moralidad y un mundo incierto. La obra es presentada así al gran público: “¿Puede alguien ser a la vez una persona ética y un hombre de negocios eficaz? Stephen Green, a la vez pastor y presidente del HSBC, así lo piensa” |13|. Evidentemente se advertirá que la “persona ética y el hombre de negocios eficaz” están identificados con el “pastor y presidente del HSBC”. La publicidad es muy afinada. En la misma época recibe el título de Doctor honoris causa concedido por la School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) de la Universidad de Londres.

En octubre de 2010, por segunda vez desde 2003, la justicia de Estados Unidos requiere a HSBC para que detenga sus actividades criminales. El público no está al corriente. Ha llegado el momento para Stephen Green de abandonar el navío. El 16 de noviembre de 2010, a petición de David Cameron es ennoblecido por la Reina de Inglaterra y se convierte en el “barón” Stephen Green de Hurstpierpoint del Condado de Sussex Occidental. Esto no se inventa. Para un hombre de negocios que ha permitido blanquear el dinero de los “barones” de la droga, es una hermosa promoción. Por ese motivo se convierte en miembro de la Cámara de los Lores el 22 de noviembre de 2010. Si alguien lee esto en una novela negra pensaría, sin duda, que el autor exagera.

En diciembre de 2010 dimite de la presidencia de HSBC y en febrero de 2011 se convierte en ministro de Comercio y de Inversión |14|. Con tal motivo pone su saber hacer al servicio de la patronal británica con la que mantiene relaciones muy fructíferas y estrechas, dado que ocupa desde mayo de 2010 el puesto de vicepresidente de la Confederación de la Industria Británica. Juega también un papel importante en la promoción de Londres como sede de los Juegos Olímpicos en julio de 2012. Es el mes durante el cual una comisión del Senado de los Estados Unidos entrega su informe sobre el asunto HSBC. Stephen Green se niega a responder a preguntas de los miembros de la Cámara de los Lores sobre su implicación en este escándalo. Está protegido por el presidente del grupo de los Lores conservadores, que explica que un ministro no tiene por qué acudir a dar explicaciones ante el Parlamento por asuntos ajenos a su ministerio |15|.

David Cameron afirmaba en 2013 que Lord Green había realizado un “soberbio trabajo” intensificando los esfuerzos del gobierno británico para reforzar las exportaciones, para hacer avanzar los tratados comerciales y, en particular el tratado transatlántico entre la Unión Europea y los Estados Unidos |16|. Lord Green ha trabajado mucho para aumentar las ventas de armamento británico en los mercados mundiales. Terminó su mandato de ministro en diciembre de 2013 para pasar a dedicar su precioso tiempo a dar conferencias (ciertamente muy bien pagadas), así como a recibir los favores que le prodigan múltiples autoridades académicas.

Ciertamente, su carrera no ha terminado. Su hipocresía no tiene límites. En marzo de 2009, mientras que el HSBC estaba totalmente implicado en el blanqueo del dinero procedente de organizaciones criminales, tiene la cara dura de declarar en una conferencia de prensa a propósito de las responsabilidades en la crisis comenzada en 2007-2008: “Estos acontecimientos nos llevan a la cuestión de la ética del sector financiero. Es como si, demasiado a menudo, los responsables no se preguntaran ya si su decisión es correcta y no se ocuparan más que de su legalidad y de su conformidad a los reglamentos. Es preciso que el sector reencuentre el sentido de lo que es éticamente correcto como motor de sus actividades” |17|. Es así como Stephen Green, canalla y tiburón por encima de las leyes, se dirige a unos sirvientes que se van a apresurar a repetir sus buenas palabras en la gran prensa.

Green y todos los que han organizado el blanqueo de dinero en el seno de HSBC deben responder de sus actos ante la justicia y ser condenados severamente con privación de libertad y obligación de realizar trabajos de utilidad pública. HSBC debería ser cerrado y la dirección despedida. Luego, el mastodonte HSBC debería ser dividido bajo control ciudadano en una serie de bancos públicos de talla media cuyas labores deberían ser estrictamente definidas y ejercidas en el marco de un estatuto de servicio público.

(La continuación en la Parte 4ª de la serie: Los bancos y la doctrina del “demasiado grandes para ser condenados”: HSBC: un banco con un pasado enorme se publicará el 21 de abril de 2014).


Traducido por Alberto Nadal

Notas

|1| Ver la primera parte de esta serie, “Los bancos y la nueva doctrina ‘Too big to Jail’” enhttp://cadtm.org/Los-bancos-y-la-nu…. Ver también “États-Unis : Les abus des banques dans le secteur immobilier et les expulsions illégales de logement”, publicado el 04/04/2014http://cadtm.org/Etats-Unis-Les-abu…

|2| Ver su web oficial: http://www.hsbc.com/about-hsbc

|3| HSBC ha colaborado igualmente con un banco saudí identificado como participante en la financiación de Al Qaeda. Por otra parte, la justicia estadounidense ha acusado también al banco de haber permitido a países sometidos a embargo u otro tipo de sanciones la realización de operaciones financieras y comerciales.

|4| Matt Taibbi, “Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail. How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it”, en la revista Rolling Stone (14/02/2013):http://www.rollingstone.com/politic…

|5| IHT, “HSBC to pay $1.92 billion over money laundering” (12/12/2012).

|6| Ver http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/… así como http://www.ianfraser.org/hsbcs-drug…

|7| El vídeo, de 5 minutos de duración, se puede ver aquí: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKvG…

|8| Stephen Green, Serving God? Serving Mammon?, Marshall Pickering, 1996, 137 páginas.http://books.google.be/books/about/… Ver la recensión ditirámbica en una revista anglicana:http://www.e-n.org.uk/p-212-Serving… Esta recensión termina con la siguiente perla: “For the Christian the markets represent temptation in one of its most powerful forms; money, wealth, and then power are fairly freely accessible and are attained by many. For some the temptation is too much, for others who keep their eye on that greater treasure in heaven, the markets are also a place where a Christian witness can be maintained; honesty and integrity can be seen to work. Why, argues the author, should financial markets be left to non-Christians? The pressures of work are often so great that traders retire very early, often after accumulating considerable wealth. This given opportunities for Christian service later in life. This book will be useful for young Christians considering a career in the City of London, and weighing up various moral dilemmas in the light of Scripture. Not all are equipped to face these temptations.”

|9| Nuevo Testamento: Evangelio según San Mateo (6:24)

|10| Ned Simons, “HSBC: Stephen Green Accused Of Hiding From Scandal”, en
The Huffington Post UK, (20/07/2012): http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/201… y el artículo ya mencionado de Matt Taibbi, “Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail. How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it” (14/02/2013) http://www.rollingstone.com/politic…

|11| Un “cease-and-desist order” (literalmente una orden de parar o desistir) es una orden dada a una persona, una empresa o una organización por un tribunal o una agencia del gobierno de los Estados Unidos a fin de frenar una actividad considerada como perjudicial y/o contraria a la Ley. El primer “cease-and-desist order” se remonta a abril de 2013 y concierne a las cuentas bancarias utilizadas para la financiación de organizaciones terroristas como Al Qaeda.

|12| Ver http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_o… y web oficial del banco HSBC en Bermudas,http://www.hsbc.bm/1/2/

|13| Stephen Green, Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an Uncertain World, Grove Press, 2010, 256 páginas.
”Can one be both an ethical person and an effective businessperson? Stephen Green, an ordained priest and the chairman of HSBC, thinks so.” enhttp://www.goodreads.com/book/show/…

|14| Stephen Green anuncia que su cargo de ministro no será remunerado. Hay que decir que cuando era presidente de HSBC su paga anual se elevaba a 25 millones de libras esterlinas (41 millones de dólares o 30 millones de euros a la tasa de cambio de febrero de 2014), y que cuenta con otras fuentes de ingresos.

|15| Ver el artículo ya citado de Ned Simons, “HSBC: Stephen Green Accused Of Hiding From Scandal”, 
The Huffington Post UK, (20/07/2012) http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/201… Ver también: The Guardian: “Lord Green ’regrets’ HSBC scandal but still refuses to answer questions. Trade minister breaks silence over money laundering scandal that took place while he was running the bank” (24/07/2012) http://www.theguardian.com/business…

|16| The Telegraph, Lord Green to retire after reforming UKTI, 19/06/2013,http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/… “Según el primer ministro, el antiguo patrón de HSBC, Lord Green habría realizado un trabajo notable cuando condujo al gobierno a concentrarse en la exportación y a firmar asociaciones de comercio, entre ellas entre la UE y los Estados Unidos, y cuando obtuvo inversiones esenciales, en particular la reconversión de la central de Battersea”.

|17| The Independent: “HSBC in bid to raise £12.5bn”, (09/03/2009)http://www.independent.co.uk/news/b…

Eric Toussaint, maître de conférence en la Universidad de Lieja, preside el CADTM Bélgica y es miembro del Consejo Cientifico de ATTAC Francia. Es autor de los libros Procès d’un homme exemplaire, Editions Al Dante: Marsella, 2013; Una mirada al retrovisor: el neoliberalismo desde sus orígenes hasta la actualidad, Icaria: Barcelona 2010; La Deuda o la Vida (junto a Damien Millet) Icaria: Barcelona, 2011; La crisis global, El Viejo Topo: Barcelona, 2010; La bolsa o la vida: las finanzas contra los Pueblos, Gakoa: Donostia-San Sebastián, 2002. Es coautor junto con Damien Millet del libro AAA, Audit, Annulation, Autre politique, Le Seuil: Paris, 2012. Este último libro ha recibido el Premio al libro político otorgado por la Feria del Libro político de Lieja, http://www.cadtm.org/Le-CADTM-recoi…

En abril publicará su próximo libro Bancocratie en la editorial ADEN: Bruselas,http://www.chapitre.com/CHAPITRE/fr…

¿Se convertirá El Salvador en otra Venezuela?

May 5th, 2014 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Inspirados en las protestas en contra del gobierno apoyadas por Estados Unidos en Venezuela, la oligarquía de El Salvador se prepara para seguir la misma estrategia.

Si los resultados electorales no le benefician, la oposición venezolana respaldada por Estados Unidos casi siempre se niega a reconocer el resultado de las elecciones justas en Venezuela. Este es ahora también el caso en El Salvador. El partido de extrema derecha Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA) de la oligarquía que dirige el país está utilizando la misma estrategia que los oligarcas venezolanos. Los dirigentes de ARENA se han negado a reconocer que perdieron las elecciones presidenciales de 2014 y que ganó el Frente Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional (FMLN).

ARENA acusó al FMLN de fraude antes de que se terminara de contabilizar todos votos y afirmó que las elecciones eran fraudulentas. El candidato presidencial de ARENA, Norman Noel Quijano González, prometió que ARENA no permitiría “que se nos robe esta victoria como en Venezuela” a los oponentes de los chavistas. Haciéndose eco del líder de la oposición venezolano Henrique Capriles y su llamada Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), ARENA ha afirmado estar “preparado para una guerra”.

Muchas personas temieron por un momento que El Salvador, un país profundamente polarizado, volviera a una situación de guerra civil. ARENA estaba urgiendo al ejército salvadoreño a derrocar al gobierno de San Salvador y permitir a su candidato tomar la presidencia.

Finalmente ARENA se vio obligado a reconocer su derrota y al vicepresidente Salvador Sánchez Cerén y a Oscar Ortíz respectivamente como presidente electo y vicepresidente electo.

Según el Tribunal Supremo Electoral de El Salvador Sánchez derrotó al candidato de ARENA, Norman Quijano, por un escaso 0.22%. Obtuvo el 50.11% mientras que Quijano obtuvo del 49.89%.

Tuve el privilegio de estar presente en El Salvador como observador internacional y controlador electoral. Pude ver de cerca el proceso y observar cómo se comportaban ambas partes. Controlé las elecciones presidenciales del 2 de febrero de 2014; las elecciones de febrero se convertirían en la primera ronda de las elecciones presidenciales ya que Sánchez y Ortíz obtuvieron el 48.93% de los votos. Necesitaban al menos el 50%% para ganar las elecciones sin necesidad de una segunda vuelta, que tuvo lugar el 9 de marzo.

Como táctica, ARENA trató de anular la mayor cantidad posible de votos durante la primera vuelta. Un ejemplo es el caso de los votos en el extranjero que ARENA había anulado por razones técnicas, ya que muchos votantes salvadoreños habían enviado sus papeletas de la segunda vuelta en vez de las de la primera. A pesar de que estaba clara la opción de voto de los votantes en el extranjero, ARENA trabajó para que se anularan esos votos ya que votaban preferentemente al FMLN.

Hay que señalar que ARENA perdió las elecciones presidenciales en 2009 a pesar de haber hecho trampa. Los observadores de esas elecciones relataron que alcaldes salvadoreños de ARENA emitieron falsos carné de identidad salvadoreños a ciudadanos extranjeros que fueron llevados a El Salvador en autobús desde otros países de Centroamérica.

Los gringos no han perdido su influencia

El gobierno estadounidense había apoyado ARENA durante las elecciones presidenciales en 2004 y 2009. Antes, durante la guerra civil en la década de 1980, el gobierno estadounidense había ayudado a mantener a la oligarquía salvadoreña en el poder bajo una serie de regímenes no democráticos. Washington incluso intervino directamente en El Salvador con el Pentágono para luchar a favor de los oligarcas.

Sin embargo, esta vez el gobierno estadounidense apoyó públicamente a ARENA. El silencio de Washington durante la campaña de las elecciones de 2014 era sospechoso y hablé de ello con varios altos cargos salvadoreños y políticos del FMLN. Mientras me preparaba para las elecciones en San Salvador unos colegas del contingente canadiense me informaron de que William G. Walker, diplomático de carrera y exembajador estadounidense en El Salvador entre 1988 y 1992 había escrito un comprensivo artículo de opinión en el New York Times titulado, “Don’t Fear El Salvador’s Leftists.” [No teman a los izquierdistas de El Salvador]

Este artículo de opinión de Walker de finales de enero de 2014 era un mensaje preelectoral a los políticos y altos cargos estadounidenses en la llamada periferia de Washington afirmando que no había necesidad de alarmarse por una victoria del FMLN. “Los tambores de guerra empezaron a principios de este mes cuando Elliott Abrams, que había supervisado la política centroamericana del gobierno Reagan durante la guerra civil de El Salvador, advirtió en The Washington Post del peligro de” una victoria del vicepresidente Sánchez, señala Walker en su artículo del New York Times“Otros conservadores se han hecho eco de esta alarma. Está implícita la amenaza de que si los salvadoreños hacen una elección equivocada, Estados Unidos reducirá su apoyo”, escribía el exdiplomático hablando de la línea que habían adoptado Abrams y parte de la clase dirigente estadounidense.

Sin embargo, Walker disiente de Elliott Abrams en lo siguiente: “De 1985 a 1988 trabajé estrechamente con Abrams en el Departamento de Estado. Respeto su honestidad, pero creo que en este caso se equivoca”.

Hay que hacer una pausa. Disculpe, ¿Elliott Abrams, honesto? Es el mismo propagandista, el fundador del Project for the New American Century y archineoconservador planificador de cómo apoderarse del mundo que ha demostrado su deshonestidad a lo largo de toda su carrera. Es uno de los canallas del conciliábulo de Bush II que mintió al mundo sin la menor vergüenza sobre la existencia de armas de destrucción masiva en Iraq para justificar la ilegal invasión de Bagdad en 2003. Ya estuviera en Libia o Siria, presionó por la guerra en cada ocasión. Es un defensor acérrimo del militarismo y del imperio que sigue fomentando la beligerancia contra Irán y durante años has utilizado las opiniones de Benjamin Netanyahu que afirman falsamente que Teherán está a punto de conseguir una bomba nuclear. Ahora quiere que Estados Unidos y la OTAN se enfrenten a Rusia por la crisis a fuego lento en Ucrania.

El propio Walker está lejos de ser un santo. El hecho de que Walker adoptara esta postura me hizo ponerme en estado de alerta. Después de todo, él fue el alto cargo estadounidense que trabajó estrechamente con el ejército salvadoreño y con los escuadrones de la muerte en San Salvador en su guerra represiva contra un vasto sector de la población y contra cualquier forma de disidencia salvadoreña, ya fuera pacífica o de otro tipo.

Washington envió a Walker a El Salvador debido a su pericia con el ejército y los escuadrones de la muerte. No solo fue el alto cargo estadounidense implicado en la organización de los escuadrones de la muerte y en coordinar la intervención militar en El Salvador en su calidad de viceasistente del secretario de estado estadounidense del gobierno Reagan, sino que fue fundamental para proporcionar apoyo (junto con el caído en desgracia teniente coronel Oliver North) a la insurrección de la contra traficante de coca apoyada por al CIA en la vecina Nicaragua.

¿Les suena familiar? Deberían sonarles. Para quienes no lo hayan pillado, el resultado de las actividades de Walker en Nicaragua llevaron al escándalo del Iran-Contra en el curso del cual la opinión pública estadounidense descubrió las guerras sucias de su gobierno en las que estaba implicados traficantes de narcóticos y de armas internacionales, y cómo personas como Elliott Abram y sus amigos desobedecieron abiertamente la Enmienda Boland que prohibía al gobierno estadounidense seguir financiando el derrocamiento del gobierno nicaragüense por la insurgencia contrarrevolucionaria. Incluso un informe de 1989 del Comité Kerry (del nombre, lo han adivinado, del mentiroso trotamundos John Kerry) afirmaba que miembros del Departamento de Estado estadounidense “que proporcionaban apoyo a los contras estaban implicados en el tráfico de droga” . También sus amigos en Israel estuvieron implicado en el envío de armas a América Central.

Tratar de llegar a un acuerdo con Washington

Debido a su implicación en el contrabando de armas, el narcotráfico y los escuadrones de la muerte, finalmente se le dio un trabajo a Walker en la escisión de la provincia serbia de Kósovo dominada por albanos, donde las milicias del Ejército de Liberación de Kósovo estuvieron implicadas en el contrabando de armas y el narcotráfico. Más tarde en su carrera fue promovido a presidente de la Misión de Verificación de Kósovo para la Organización para la Seguridad y Cooperación en Europa (OSCE, por sus siglas en inglés).

El artículo de opinión de Walker en el New York Times continúa: “Viajé a menudo a El Salvador por negocios. He visto gran parte del país y el FMLN ha cambiado en los 22 años transcurridos desde el final de la guerra en 1992. Creo que quienes difunden el miedo están anclados en el pasado”

La cosa no quedó ahí. La postura de Walker sobre el FMLN era un razonamiento para tranquilizar a los altos cargos estadounidense acerca de una victoria del FMLN.

Lo gringos siguen teniendo un enorme control. Gane o no el FMLN, este ha trabajado para llegar a un acuerdo con Washington.

La mayoría de las importaciones y exportaciones de El Salvador son de y hacia Estados Unidos. Aparte del comercio, la economía salvadoreña es fuertemente dependiente de las remesas enviadas por la población salvadoreña que trabaja en Estados Unidos. Estas remesas ascienden a aproximadamente el 17% de Producto Nacional Bruto de El Salvador.

Washington también influye en la soberanía fiscal de El Salvador. Gracias a ARENA, el dólar estadounidense es la moneda oficial.

Además, está la estructura neoliberal de la economía salvadoreña. Se ha criticado al FMLN a este respecto. Hay exmiembros del FMLN que acusan a sus escalas superiores de constituir su plataforma de guerra civil.

¿El neoliberalismo garantizado por los “Amigos de Mauricio Funes” o por el FMLN?

El sociólogo James Petras es uno de los críticos radicales del FMLN. Petras, sociólogo marxista, calificó de una especie retroceso ideológico el acuerdo de paz que llevó al FMLN a la política electoral al transformarse de un movimiento de guerrilla en un partido político: “Cuando empezaron las negociaciones el FMLN abandonó sus exigencias de desmantelar el ejército, de expropiación de los principales intereses financieros, banqueros, comerciales y mineros, y aceptó una ‘Comisión de la Verdad’ que ‘examinaría’ los crímenes de guerra, los asesinatos masivos de más de 75.000 civiles”, afirma Petras.

Para Petras y muchas otras personas está claro que los Acuerdos de Paz de Chapultepec entre las Fuerzas Populares de Liberación Farabundo Martí (FPL), que se transformó en el FMLN, y la oligarquía salvadoreña dio la amnistía a los viles criminales que estuvieron detrás del asesinatos de familias y pueblos enteros de civiles inocentes.

Aunque fue un elección dolorosa, personas fieles al FPL/FMLN lo explican de forma tajante afirmando que el perdón fue una decisión estratégica. Muchas personas fieles al FMLN y altos cargos de este consideraban que dar la amnistía a miembros de los escuadrones de la muerte a los que había apoyado Estados Unidos (muchos de los cuales eran ahora miembros y partidarios de ARENA) era una manera de cerrar el círculo de violencia que se había apoderado de América Central. Una exguerrillera del FPL me dijo que nada le devolvería la vida a su marido, al que golpearon en la cabeza 60 veces con un punzón para el hielo; como ella ya ha visto suficiente muerte y destrucción cree que el perdón es la mejor manera de reconstruir su país y su sociedad.

A pesar de ello, existen contradicciones por todo El Salvador. Además, la corrupción sigue siendo un problema estructural.

Petras tiene razón en lo que concierne al pragmatismo del FMLN y a la adopción del neoliberalismo por parte de una sección de su dirigencia. En la actualidad también hay discusiones prácticas e ideológicas en el seno del FMLN acerca de ello.

Hay que recordar que hubo una guerra civil atroz que creó problemas mientras que paralelamente había una guerra de problemas socioeconómicos cada vez mayores. Ambas han dejado sus marcas en la sociedad salvadoreña. Además, el FMLN tomó las riendas del gobierno en un país que ya estaba profundamente afianzado tanto en la órbita de Washington como en el paradigma neoliberal.

Esa es la razón de que el FMLN fuera avanzando con prudencia. A consecuencia de ello, los dirigentes del FMLN decidieron apoyar al político independiente Mauricio Funes como su candidato presidencial en 2009. Funes no es miembro del FMLN, como con frecuencia se suele pensar érroneamente fuera de América Latina.

Después de que el FMLN ganara las elecciones presidenciales de 2009 el gobierno de El Salvador se dividió entre Funes y el FMLN, y el vicepresidente Sánchez se vio obligado a decir a la opinión pública que el FMLN no mantendría sus promesas electorales.

Funes y sus asesores (llamados Amigos de Mauricio Funes) controlaron cuestiones estratégicas, asuntos económicos fundamentales y la secretaría de las reformas políticas, mientras que el FMLN gestionó áreas como la sanidad, la educación y la seguridad. En ese marco el FMLN no pudo implementar sus reformas económicas ni la reestructuración política ni los cambios estratégicos que deseaban la mayoría de sus partidarios.

Damian Alegría (José Mauricio Rivera), actualmente un diputado alterno del FMLN en la Asamblea Legisladora Salvadoreña y exguerrillero de alto nivel del FPL, me dijo en varias ocasiones que el presidente Funes y sus asesores impidieron que El Salvador reconociera a la República Popular de China. Esto solo fue posible debido a un acuerdo al que llegó el FMLN con los partidarios de Funes.

El FMLN está sobre una cuerda floja y por ello el FMLN como partido en el gobierno tiene que actuar como un trapecista. El resultado de esto es que el FMLN ha introducido la planificación pública en el sistema neoliberal.

Los altos cargos del FMLN han trabajado para crear servicios públicos e infraestructuras vitales en El Salvador. Sin embargo, el FLMN está tratando al mismo tiempo de no enfrentarse a Estados Unidos ni al capital extranjero ni a la oligarquía salvadoreña. Así, el FMLN es rehén de lo heredado. Si el FMLN se enfrenta a Estados Unidos, a los negocios extranjeros o a la oligarquía salvadoreña, sus dirigentes temen que lleven la economía al colapso desde fuera y que ARENA restablezca la guerra civil.

Continúan abiertas las explotadoras maquiladoras en manos de extranjeros, que pagan bajos salarios y explotan rutinariamente a los trabajadores de la industria de confección. Sin embargo, ahora hay servicios médicos gratuitos y se proporciona a las escuelas infantiles leche (en el programa “un vaso de leche ” ) y zapatos. También se le ha subido el sueldo a los maestros y en general a todo el sector público. Clínicas gratuitas ambulantes diagnostican a los pacientes y les proporcionan los medicamentos prescritos sin coste para los usuarios.

Oligarcas y Monsanto frente a FMLN

Sin restar importancia a las críticas al FMLN, sin embardo también se han dado grandes pasos adelante. Por supuesto, no son lo que querían muchos exguerrilleros del FPL y los partidarios del FMLN. Aunque los cambios en El Salvador bajo el FMLN no hayan ido lo suficientemente lejos en la reestructuración del país, hay que reconocerlos.

Cuando el FMLN fue elegido para formar gobierno existían muchos monopolios injustos de negocios privados y ARENA había privatizado casi todas las infraestructuras del Estado. ARENA había establecido leyes de monopolio para proteger los intereses de los negocios de la oligarquía. Era ilegal y casi imposible comprar medicamentos a cualquiera que no fuera Alfredo Cristiani, el oligarca de ARENA que había sido presidente de El Salvador. Cristiani utilizaba su monopolio privado de las medicinas para cobrar precios excesivos a los salvadoreños y además vender con impunidad medicamentos en malas condiciones y caducados. Por medio de un monopolio legalizado apoyado por ARENA el corrupto Cristiani hizo lo mismo con los fertilizantes que venía a precios excesivos, los mortíferos pesticidas químicos vinculados a Monsanto y otros productos agrícolas.

El profesor Adrian Bergmann, un noruego que fue nombrado miembro del equipo de transición del presidente Funes en 2009, me dijo que el crimen organizado en El Salvador también giraba en torno a Alfredo Cristiani. A pesar de ello, ARENA trata de culpar al FMLN de todos los crímenes en El Salvador.

Algunas personas en El Salvador lo olvidan o prentenden no saber nada de esto. En unos grupos de discusión con los estudiantes universitarios quedó claro que una de las principales razones de ello es la influencia que la oligarquía de ARENA tiene sobre los medios de comunicación.

La lección debería ser diversificar las fuentes de información, por ejemplo, esta página web, Question more.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya 

Venezuelan RiotsWill El Salvador become another Venezuela? 27 de Marzo de 2014

Fuente: http://rt.com/op-edge/salvador-another-venezuela-opposition-protests-345/

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos.

Still from YouTube video/RomanDorogniyKontrol

New video has emerged online which shows a man shooting at the windows of Odessa’s burning House of Trade Unions. At least 39 anti-government activists died in the flames on May 2 in the building besieged and set ablaze by radicals.

A man in the video is wearing a bulletproof vest and is shooting several times in the direction of the burning House of Trade Unions.

Another video of the same man shows him speaking on the phone passionately arguing that he and his people are unarmed, while having to confront armed anti-government protesters. The man introduces himself as sotnik Mykola (“sotnik” is what Maidan group leaders in Kiev call themselves) He also says he was wounded in the leg by protesters, although he doesn’t look hurt in the footage.

Both the videos have gathered thousands of views on YouTube, stirring a wave of indignation at the man’s hypocrisy and his shooting at the people trapped inside the burning building.

Survivors of the fire say they had to barricade themselves inside the House of Trade Unions, to hide from an aggressive mob, which had torched their tent camp.

Radicals then began throwing Molotov cocktails at the Trade Unions building, setting it on fire. Witnesses say that those who managed to escape the fire, were severely beaten outside by the besiegers of the burning building.

We couldn’t go down, we were seeing people from other floors being brought down and then those rioters down there attacked them like a pack of wolves,” a survivor of the fire, who was hiding on the roof of the building, told RT.

Afraid of falling into the hands of radicals, people didn’t leave the House of Trade Unions, where dozens eventually burnt alive, suffocated or jumped out of windows.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry however offers a different version of events, saying the victims of the violent unrest started the fire themselves, when they began throwing Molotov cocktails from the upper floor. Multiple videos of the incident, however, show Molotov cocktails flying from outside the building.

Several hundred people rallied overnight in Odessa outside the local police headquarters, demanding the release of the fire survivors who had been detained on May 2. People claim around 60 survivors of the Trade Unions House are currently being held in jails. The rally participants told journalists that anti-government activists who managed to get out of the burning building were first beaten by nationalist militants outside and then detained by police. Many of the rally participants were holding pictures of their relatives and friends, who have been missing since clashes broke out in Odessa two days ago.

The mainstream U.S. media likes to talk about Ukraine as an “information war,” meaning that the Russians are making stuff up. But the false narratives are actually being hatched more on the U.S. side, as a new New York Times story acknowledges, writes.

The New York Times, which has asserted for weeks that the Russian government is behind the unrest in Ukraine’s east, finally sent some reporters to the region to dig up the proof, but all they found were eastern Ukrainians upset by the coup regime in Kiev that replaced President Viktor Yanukovych.

The Times, which has been an unapologetic promoter of the “pro-democracy” uprising that ousted the democratically elected president through violent extra-constitutional means, has recently been promoting the “theme” that Ukrainians would be happy with their new unelected government if only the Russians weren’t “destabilizing eastern Ukraine.”

Times’ editors thought they had the goods two weeks ago with a front-page scoop featuring photographs supposedly proving the presence of Russian special forces troops. According to the Times, the photos “clearly” showed Russian special forces in Russia and then the same soldiers in eastern Ukraine.

However, only two days later, the scoop unraveled when it turned out that a key photo – supposedly showing a group of soldiers in Russia who later appeared in eastern Ukraine – was actually taken in Ukraine, destroying the premise of the entire story.

So, the Times belatedly dispatched reporters C.J. Chivers and Noah Sneider to Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine to talk with the militants who are opposing the coup regime in Kiev. To their credit, the two reporters actually seem to have recounted what they found, albeit with some of the anti-Russian bias that is now deeply embedded in the Western media narrative.

Noting that Moscow says the Ukrainian militants are not part of the Russian armed forces while “Western officials and the Ukrainian government insist that Russians have led, organized and equipped the fighters,” the reporters write:

“A deeper look at the 12th Company [of the People’s Militia] — during more than a week of visiting its checkpoints, interviewing its fighters and observing them in action against a Ukrainian military advance here on Friday — shows that in its case neither portrayal captures the full story.

“The rebels of the 12th Company appear to be Ukrainians but, like many in the region, have deep ties to and affinity for Russia. They are veterans of the Soviet, Ukrainian or Russian Armies, and some have families on the other side of the border. Theirs is a tangled mix of identities and loyalties.

“Further complicating the picture, while the fighters share a passionate distrust of Ukraine’s government and the Western powers that support it, they disagree among themselves about their ultimate goals. They argue about whether Ukraine should redistribute power via greater federalization or whether the region should be annexed by Russia, and they harbor different views about which side might claim Kiev, the capital, and even about where the border of a divided Ukraine might lie.”

Chuckling at Kiev

The Times reporters cited one unit leader named Yuri as chuckling “at the claims by officials in Kiev and the West that his operations had been guided by Russian military intelligence officers. There is no Russian master, he said. ‘We have no Muscovites here,’ he said. ‘I have experience enough.’ That experience, he and his fighters say, includes four years as a Soviet small-unit commander in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the 1980s.

“The 119 fighters he said he leads, who appear to range in age from their 20s to their 50s, all speak of prior service in Soviet or Ukrainian infantry, airborne, special forces or air-defense units.”

The reporters also discovered mostly well-worn and dated weaponry, not the newer and more sophisticated equipment that is available to Russian forces.

“During the fighting on Friday, two of the fighters carried hunting shotguns, and the heaviest visible weapon was a sole rocket-propelled grenade,” Chivers and Sneider wrote. “Much of their stock was identical to the weapons seen in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers and Interior Ministry special forces troops at government positions outside the city. These included 9-millimeter Makarov pistols, Kalashnikov assault rifles and a few Dragunov sniper rifles, RPK light machine guns and portable antitank rockets, including some with production stamps from the 1980s and early 1990s.”

Other Western journalists, who have bothered to report from eastern Ukraine rather than just accept handouts from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev or the State Department in Washington, discovered a similar reality.

For instance, on April 17, Washington Post correspondent Anthony Faiola reported from Donetsk that many of the eastern Ukrainians whom he interviewed said the unrest in their region was driven by fear over “economic hardship” and the IMF austerity plan that will make their lives even harder.

“At a most dangerous and delicate time, just as it battles Moscow for hearts and minds across the east, the pro-Western government is set to initiate a shock therapy of economic measures to meet the demands of an emergency bailout from the International Monetary Fund,” Faiola reported.

But this on-the-ground reality of legitimate and understandable concerns among the eastern Ukrainians has been missing from the U.S. propaganda barrage, which has overwhelmed the mainstream press as thoroughly as a similar P.R. campaign did during the run-up to the Iraq War, if not more so. Official Washington’s “group think” now is all about blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Ukraine crisis.

One of the more preposterous theories that I have heard from Washington punditry and officialdom is that Putin arranged the Ukraine chaos as part of a scheme to reclaim land lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Though this notion of Putin as the aggressor plotting to reassert Russian imperialism has become something of a “conventional wisdom,” it is fully unsupported by the facts.

To believe that Putin instigated the Ukraine crisis, you would have to believe that he organized the Maidan protests, that he built up the neo-Nazi militias that spearheaded the Feb. 22 coup, and that he intentionally overthrew his ally, Yanukovych, whom Putin seemed to be trying to save. Though this conspiracy theory is ludicrous, it is now widespread in Official Washington.

Caught Off-Guard

The reality was that Putin was caught off-guard by the events in Ukraine, in part, because he was preoccupied with the Sochi Winter Olympics and the threat that the games would be marred by a major terrorist attack. He spent a great deal of time in Sochi personally overseeing the security.

Meanwhile, the Maidan uprising was unfolding in Kiev, cheered on by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and partly financed by American entities, such as the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, whose longtime president Carl Gershmandeemed Ukraine “the biggest prize” in a Washington Post op-ed published in late September, months before the current crisis erupted.

Though many of the protesters from western Ukraine had legitimate grievances over the pervasive corruption in Ukrainian politics and the inordinate power of a handful of wealthy oligarchs, the final violent coup was carried out by well-trained neo-Nazi militias organized in 100-man brigades, known as “the hundreds.”

After the Feb. 22 putsch when Yanukovych and many of his officials were forced to flee for their lives, Putin began reacting to this deteriorating situation on Russia’s border. What he was doing was “crisis management,” not implementing some Machiavellian scheme that had long been contemplated.

But the demonization of Putin in the Western media has been so total that anyone who dares question the most extreme interpretations of his behavior is denounced as a “Putin apologist.” Indeed, any attempt to present a nuanced narrative of what has happened in Ukraine is dismissed as somehow promoting Russian imperialism or spreading Russian propaganda.

This oppressive “group think” has, in turn, made formulating any rational policy toward Russia and Ukraine politically impossible in Official Washington.

In this context of asking who’s the real propagandist, it’s worth looking back on another New York Times front-page story from mid-April by David M. Herszenhorn, who accused the Russian government of engaging in a propaganda war.

In the article entitled “Russia Is Quick To Bend Truth About Ukraine,” Herszenhorn mocked Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev for making a Facebook posting that “was bleak and full of dread,” including noting that “blood has been spilled in Ukraine again” and adding that “the threat of civil war looms.”

The Times article continued, “He [Medvedev] pleaded with Ukrainians to decide their own future ‘without usurpers, nationalists and bandits, without tanks or armored vehicles – and without secret visits by the C.I.A. director.’ And so began another day of bluster and hyperbole, of the misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally, outright lies about the political crisis in Ukraine that have emanated from the highest echelons of the Kremlin and reverberated on state-controlled Russian television, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.”

This argumentative “news” story spilled from the front page to the top half of an inside page, but Herszenhorn never managed to mention that there was nothing false in what Medvedev wrote. Indeed, as the bloodshed has grown worse and a civil war has become more apparent, you might say Medvedev was tragically prescient.

It was also the much-maligned Russian press that first reported the secret visit of CIA Director John Brennan to Kiev. Though the White House later confirmed that report, Herszenhorn cited Medvedev’s reference to it in the context of “misinformation” and “conspiracy theories.” Nowhere in the long article did the Times inform its readers that, yes, the CIA director did make a secret visit to Ukraine.

Perhaps, the Chivers-Sneider story about the backgrounds of the fighters in the People’s Militia of eastern Ukraine – what looks like another New York Times’ “sort of” retraction of its earlier claims – will give some pause to the U.S. propaganda stampede into another unnecessary war. [For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine, Though the US ‘Looking Glass.’”]

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

Iraqis went to the polls on Wednesday to elect a new parliament and government under conditions of a virtual civil war, terrorist bombings and sectarian tensions stoked by all the political factions and their external backers, who are fighting for control over Iraq’s vast energy resources.

Iraq has the fifth largest oil reserves in the world and is the second largest producer among the OPEC nations, having just passed Iran and trailing only Saudi Arabia.

The government deployed troops and security forces, with Peshmerga forces patrolling the Kurdish autonomous zone in the north of the country, and enforced a curfew and ban on traffic in the capital Baghdad, in an effort to prevent car bombs and suicide attacks from deterring voters from going to the polling stations.

In the run up to the elections, there have been at least 40 attacks, with bombs targeting electoral rallies in Baghdad, Khanaqin and Diyala. On April 28, the day when Iraq’s security forces voted, seven polling stations were attacked in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Anbar province, Salahuddin province, and Mosul, with a loss of more than 50 lives. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an al-Qaeda affiliate, has claimed responsibility for many of the attacks.

Only 70 percent of polling stations in insecure areas of Anbar Province, parts of which are controlled by Sunni Islamist, tribal and al-Qaeda militias, were open, while other polling stations in the insecure areas of Baghdad, Mosul and Diyala were closed.

This is the first general election since the US and its allies withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2011 after failing to secure a guarantee of legal immunity for the remaining US troops. The Iraqi people were left to deal with the bitter legacy of a criminal war to topple the Saddam Hussein regime and a nearly nine-year military occupation that destroyed Iraq’s basic infrastructure.

The result is soaring unrest over unemployment, poverty, lack of basic services such as electricity, clean water and freedom from flooding, corruption, and a rising tide of violence that has claimed more than 2,000 lives in the first three months of this year, and 750 lives in April alone.

Far from anticipating any improvement in their conditions, both voters and commentators believe that the elections are unlikely to resolve the severe political and social crisis that is the legacy of 35 years of war and imperialist intervention. On the contrary, there is open speculation that these elections might be the last under a nominally unified state.

Iraq’s complicated proportional representation system means that the official results are not expected till mid-May. With more than 9,000 candidates from numerous electoral alliances on the ballot for 328 parliamentary seats, no one party is expected to win an outright majority. While Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki continues to dominate his Shi’ite-based State of Law coalition, the remaining Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish parties and alliances have splintered and formed new alliances and blocs.

There have been numerous allegations of foul play in the electoral process. According to Ayad Allawi, a former prime minister and leader of the Iraqiya List, which won the most seats in parliament in 2010, 38 candidates from his political bloc were barred from running in the elections. The Electoral Commission claimed that it had disqualified 34 candidates from all parties.

All the political factions and cliques have played the sectarian card. Not one of them has addressed the dreadful economic and social conditions facing the vast majority of the population, even as oil production and revenues increase. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the draft Iraqi budget for 2014 “anticipates average exports of 3.4m barrels/day (b/d), up 1m b/d from the previous year.”

The mounting poverty is the direct result of al-Maliki’s government, installed under the US occupation, which has promoted free market policies and introduced legislation outlawing the organisation of workers and unions to fight for higher wages and better conditions.

While al-Maliki’s bloc is expected to win the highest number of votes, he will need to form some kind of coalition to gain an overall majority in parliament and a third term in office. This will entail a process of political horse-trading that could take months. But even this is not assured, as the bloc which won the highest vote total in the 2010 elections, Allawi’s Iraqiya List, was unable to form a government, giving way after seven months to a coalition led by al-Maliki.

Al-Maliki has played the role of the strongman, claiming that he is the only one capable of uniting Iraq. The very opposite is the case. Taking his lead from the US occupation, his government has stoked the sectarian tensions between the majority Shi’ites and minority Sunnis, who live predominantly in the west of the country, to rally Shi’ite support in advance of the elections. He has purged leading Sunni politicians, cracked down on the population, branding all protests the work of al-Qaeda, and accused Saudi Arabia of funding the militias.

Following the arrest of a prominent Sunni politician, the killing of his brother and five bodyguards, and the breakup of a year-long protest camp, civil war has been raging in Anbar Province for four months between government forces and tribal, local and Sunni Islamist militias who oppose both the government and each other.

According to the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), this new “Iraqi insurgency” comprises at least 12 major organizations and possibly up to 40 distinct groups. It estimates that less than 10 percent are non-Iraqi foreign insurgents, a fact that both Baghdad and Washington downplay.

But as a result of the fighting, more than 400,000 Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes, while the Anbar capital, Ramadi, remains contested and Fallujah is under the control of insurgents.

The supposed threat from al-Qaeda, however, is very much the product of Washington and its regional allies’ sponsorship of Sunni Islamist militias in neighboring Syria, including ISIS and al-Nusra, to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, as part of its wider project of isolating Iran and curtailing the influence of Russia and China in the Middle East.

The Obama administration, with supreme cynicism, is using the threat of al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq as a pretext to arm the al-Maliki government and thus control Iraq and its resources. At the same time, it is boosting its teams of specialists working under contract to the Iraqi government to provide security, military training, and intelligence analysis, as well as commercial, energy and construction projects. While Secretary of State John Kerry ruled out putting “American boots” on the ground, he has delegated the task to the Pentagon’s sub-contractors, which, according to figures cited by the Wall Street Journal, numbered more than 12,500 in January 2013.

Tensions have also risen between the al-Maliki regime and the Kurdistan Regional Government, which has sought to export oil directly, cutting Baghdad out of any share of the proceeds, prompting fears of outright secession. Such is the bitter factional rivalry that conflicts over borders and rights to oil and gas wealth threaten to break out into civil war there too.

Al-Maliki has consolidated power into his own hands, holding four positions simultaneously—prime minister, defence minister, interior minister and head of national security—putting 930,000 security personnel at his disposal. This was ostensibly because he could not get parliamentary approval for appointees to those cabinet positions. He also has the judiciary under his thumb. As a result, he was able to use the courts to overturn a law introduced by parliament that would have prevented him for running for a third term.

Eleven years after the US invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has a tyrannical government with the third highest execution rate in the world. Human Rights Watch in its 2013 Report Iraq: a Broken Justice System, described the al-Maliki government as using “draconian measures against opposition politicians, detainees, demonstrators and journalists, effectively squeezing the space for independent civil society and political freedoms … the Iraqi people today face a government that is slipping further into authoritarianism and doing little to make them safer.”

Weeks before the elections, the cabinet endorsed a “National Safety” bill, which defines a “state of emergency” and gives near-absolute powers to the Prime Minister to determine what constitutes an emergency, prompting widespread fears that the government could use the law to eliminate its opponents.

The conflicts instigated in Iraq by Washington, Britain, France and their regional allies are creating the conditions for the break-up of the country and a far wider conflagration that will embroil not just Iraq, but Syria, Lebanon and the Gulf petro-states.

The criminal character of the US-European Union intervention in Ukraine was tragically exposed for all to see Friday when supporters of the US-installed regime in Kiev, led by neo-Nazi Right Sector thugs, set fire to the Trade Unions House in the Black Sea port of Odessa, killing 38 pro-Russian demonstrators who had taken refuge in the building.

The anti-Kiev regime protesters had retreated into the building after the Ukrainian nationalist mob set fire to their nearby tent encampment. Authorities say 30 people died from smoke inhalation and another eight were killed when they jumped from windows and balconies in an attempt to escape the blaze.

According to eyewitness accounts, those who dropped from the building and survived were surrounded and beaten by Right Sector fascists. Videofootage shows bloodied survivors being attacked.

This massacre occurred on the same day that government military forces, including armored personnel vehicles and helicopter gunships, attacked towns in the southeast of the country under the control of pro-Russian opponents of the regime, which was illegally installed last February in a coup led by Right Sector paramilitaries and backed by Washington and the EU.

The Obama administration, along with the governments of Germany, France, Britain and the other European imperialist powers, bears political responsibility for Friday’s atrocity. They have sponsored the Right Sector, as well as the neo-fascist Svoboda party, and seen to it that they were integrated into the new anti-Russian regime in Kiev.

The US media, led by the so-called “newspaper of record,” the New York Times, shares political responsibility, having brazenly promulgated government propaganda and lies since the Ukraine crisis began last November. The Times, in particular, both in nominal “news” stories and in columns by State Department mouthpieces such as Andrew Higgens, C.J. Chivers, Roger Cohen, Nicolas Kristof and Thomas Friedman, has promoted the line that the insipient civil war in Ukraine is the result of Russian aggression, not US-European subversion.

In order to promote this grossly distorted version of events, the Times has gone so far as to publish an article with fabricated “evidence” and doctored photos supposedly proving that the rebellion in southeast Ukraine is the work of Russian military and intelligence forces—a story the newspaper was forced to retract—and dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic politics of Washington’s ultra-right allies in Kiev. Chivers has also penned on-the-spot reports on the right-wing Maidan protests in Kiev sympathetically painting the ultra-nationalist paramilitaries as honest patriots and obscuring their fascist politics and pedigree.

Thus it is not surprising that the Times responded to the fascist murder of 38 people in Odessa on Friday by burying the story and deliberately obscuring the identity of the perpetrators. The only mention of the torching of the Trade Unions House and murder of 38 people holed up inside occurred in a story on page A7 of the Saturday edition of the newspaper—on the fourth page of the International section.

The reference to the massacre, moreover, was a fleeting mention well down in the article, carefully formulated to avoid attributing blame. The authors, C.J. Chivers (Who else?) and Noah Sneider, wrote: “Violence also erupted Friday in the previously calmer port city of Odessa, on the Black Sea, where dozens of people died in a fire related to clashes that broke out between protesters holding a march for Ukrainian unity and pro-Russian activists.”

The Sunday Times published a front-page on-the-spot report by Chivers and Sneider from Slavaynsk on the anti-Kiev government insurgents. Despite being unable to produce any evidence of the presence of Russian spies or troops, the authors wrote that “one persistent mystery has been the identity and affiliations of the militiamen.”

To further bolster the US State Department line they wrote, in relation to a rebel leader named Yuri, whom they described as “an ordinary eastern Ukrainian of this generation,” that his background as a former Soviet special forces commander in Afghanistan “could make him authentically local and a capable Kremlin proxy.”

Mention of the torching of the Trade Unions House and murder of dozens of pro-Russian protesters in Odessa was once again relegated to the back pages. The article falsely stated that “it was not immediately clear who had started the blaze.”

The cover-up by the Times is consistent with the dishonest treatment provided by the rest of the so-called “mainstream” press in the US—only more crude than most. The Washington Post had a front-page article that featured the deaths in Odessa and acknowledged that the fire was set by supporters of the Kiev regime, but omitted any mention of the Right Sector.

The Wall Street Journal in a news report attributed the fire to “a clash between pro-government and anti-government mobs.” In an editorial published Saturday, the Journal actually implied that Russia was responsible for the mass murder. The editorial stated: “Pro-Ukraine demonstrations in the southeast are large, and the Russians have tried to beat them into silence. Some three dozen people died on Friday during clashes in Odessa.”

In downplaying the mass killing in Odessa and concealing the identity, politics and US connections of the perpetrators, the American media is not simply covering up for the fascists and the regime in Kiev, it is concealing the criminal responsibility of the Obama administration and American imperialism.

Even as Ukrainian military forces were attacking protesters in the east and fascist mobs allied to the government were burning and killing in Odessa, President Barack Obama was giving his unconditional support to the actions of the regime at a joint White House press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory,” he declared, and went on to praise Kiev for its “remarkable restraint.”

At a meeting Friday of the United Nations Security Council, US Ambassador Samantha Power put the entire blame for the violence on Moscow and called the military crackdown in the east “proportionate and reasonable.”

Nothing of any significance that the US puppet regime in Kiev does is independent of its masters in Washington. That the US is calling the shots in the mass repression of anti-government forces in eastern Ukraine was highlighted by the separate visits to Kiev of Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan and Vice President Joseph Biden, after each of which the regime launched new attacks on the rebels in the east.

The United States has worked closely with the neo-fascist Svoboda party as well as the Right Sector, and signed off on their incorporation into the government it installed in Kiev after the November 22 putsch that overthrew the elected, pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Initially, the head of Right Sector, Dmytro Yarosh, was offered the post of deputy head of internal security, but he turned it down in order to operate more freely while providing the regime with a pretense of separation from the fascist militia.

Nevertheless, the Kiev government set up a new National Guard, recruited largely from the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalists and fascists, and has thrown it, as well as the Right Sector directly, against pro-Russian oppositionists in the east to supplement the operations of the Ukrainian military.

In an interview last month with the German publication Spiegel Online, Yarosh boasted of state support for his forces, saying, “Our battalions are part of the new territorial defense. We have close contact with the intelligence services and the general staff.”

The handprints of Washington are all over the fascist massacre in Odessa, and the New York Times, along with the rest of the “mainstream” media, is exposed as an accomplice. The cover-up of this crime by the Times is a guarantee that it will whitewash even greater crimes of US imperialism in the days and weeks to come.

The DPRK is said to be an economist’s nightmare. There are almost no reliable statistics available, making any analysis speculative at best. The few useable figures that we have, though, fly in the face of the media’s curious insistence on a looming economic collapse.

Food production and trade volumes indicate that the DPRK has largely recovered from the economic catastrophe of the 1990s. Indeed, Pyongyang’s reported rising budget figures appear more plausible than Seoul’s pessimistic politicized estimates. Obviously, sanctions, while damaging, have failed to nail the country down. There are signs that it is now beginning to open up and prepare to exploit its substantial mineral wealth. Could we soon be witnessing the rise of Asia’s next economic tiger?

There is hardly an economy in the world that is as little understood as the economy of the Democractic People’s Republic of Korea (aka “North Korea”). Comprehensive government statistics have not been made public since the 1960s. Even if production figures were available, the non-convertibility of the domestic currency and the distortion of commodity prices in the DPRK’s planned economy would still prevent us from computing something as basic as a GDP or GDP growth figure1. In the end, this dearth of public or useable primary data means that outside analysis is generally based more on speculation or politicized conslusions than on actual information. Unfortunately, the greater the province of speculation, the greater also the possibility of distortion, and hence of misinformation, or even disinformation.

The dominant narrative in the Western press is that the DPRK is on the verge of collapse2. What commentators lack in hard data to prove this, they often try to invent. There is no way, it is suggested, that the economy could ever recover on its own from the combined economic, financial and energy crisis that hit it in the 1990s3. And indeed, though it remains difficult to quantify the damage done by the collapse of the Soviet Union, we know that the DPRK was then suddenly confronted with the loss of important export markets and a crippling reduction of fuel and gas imports. These two factors triggered a cataclysmic chain reaction that severely dislocated the Korean economy.

Perhaps the most dramatic aspect of the disaster was the collapse of food production. The sudden shortages of fuel, fertilizer and machinery, compounded by “a series of severe natural disasters” from 1995 to 19974, made the DPRK tumble from a self-reported food surplus in the 1980s to a severe food crisis in the 1990s. We will address the reliability of food figures in greater detail below, but suffice for now to say that figures provided to the Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO’s) investigative team indicate production dipping from “a plateau of 6 million tons” of grain equivalent from 1985 to 1990to about 3.5 million tons in 1995 and less than 3 million in 1996 and 19975. Food requirements for the roughly 23 million-strong population were almost 5 million tons6. The chain of events left the DPRK no choice but to make a formal appeal for aid to the international community in August 1995.

Illustrating the crisis, President Kim Il-Sung passed away on July 8th, 1994. Official images of grieving citizens. The country observed a three-year mourning period before Kim Jong-Il assumed the leadership in 1997. Photo: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)

A barrage of sanctions also seriously disrupted and continues to disrupt the DPRK’s ability to conduct international trade, making it even more difficult for the country to get back on its feet. Besides the unilateral sanctions regimes that the US and its allies have put in place since the early days of the Cold War7, the country also has had to face a series of multilateral sanctions imposed by UN Security Council resolutions in 2006 (S/RES/1718/2006), 2009 (S/RES/1874/2009) and 2013 (S/RES/2087/2013). The bulk of these are financial and trade sanctions, as well as travel bans for targeted officials.

Financial sanctions curtail access to the global financial system by targeting entities or individuals engaging in certain prohibited transactions with or for the DPRK. The professed intention is to prevent specific transactions from taking place, particularly those related to the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program, or alleged money-laundering activities. In practice, however, the stakes of even a false alarm can be so high that banks might well shun even the most innocuous transactions with the DPRK. In the Banco Delta Asia (BDA) affair, for instance, public suspicion by the US Treasury that a Macanese bank might be money-laundering and distributing counterfeit dollars for the DPRK destroyed the bank’s reputation and triggered a massive bank run even before local authorities could launch a proper investigation8. An independent audit commissioned by the Macanese government from Ernst & Young found the bank to be clean of any major violations9, but the US Treasury nonetheless blacklisted BDA in 2007, triggering suspicions that it was simply trying to make an example of the bank10.

Whatever the case, the blacklisting effectively prevented BDA from conducting transactions in US dollars or maintaining ties with US entities, and caused two dozen banks (including institutions in China, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam and Singapore) to sever ties with the DPRK for fear of suffering a similar fate11. Veiled threats by the US Treasury also seem to be behind the Bank of China’s closure in 2013 of the DPRK Foreign Trade Bank’s account12, and possibly had an indirect influence on other major Chinese banks’ cessation of all cross-border cash transfers with the DPRK (regardless of the nature of the business)13. As we can see, financial sanctions effectively contribute to making the DPRK an “untouchable” in the world of money, greatly affecting its ability to earn foreign currency by conducting legitimate international trade or attracting foreign direct investment. Obviously, shortages of such foreign currency have grave developmental consequences, because they limit vital and urgently needed imports of fuel, food, machinery, medicine, and so on, “stunting” both the economy and the general population14.

Trade sanctions also have a more disruptive effect than their wording suggests. Although the sanctions were ostensibly designed to prevent DPRK imports of nuclear, missile or weapons-related goods and technology, in practice they had the effect of blocking DPRK imports of a whole range of goods and technology that are classified as “dual-use,” which means that their civilian use could potentially be adapted for military purposes. The result is that the “dual-use” lists prohibit imports of equipment, machinery and materials that are in practice essential for the development of a modern economy, impeding the development of a broad range of industries such as aeronautics, telecommunications as well as the chemical and IT sectors15. In his book “A Capitalist in North Korea,” Swiss businessman Felix Abt explained, for instance, how a $20 million project to renew Pyongyang’s water supply and drainage system fell through, simply because the Kuwaiti investor was concerned that importing the software needed for the project could run afoul of US dual-use sanctions against the DPRK16. Abt further recalls the role UN sanctions played in preventing his pharmaceutical company from importing the chemicals it needed for a healthcare project in the DPRK countryside17.

Given the formidable obstacles, the international press has drawn the conclusion (1) that the DPRK is one of the poorest countries in the world18. But it has also concluded (2) that its misery is almost entirely the result of systematic mismanagement19, and (3) that it will go from bad to worse as long as it refuses to implement liberal reforms20. Yet, these assertions, which have been repeated throughout the period of six decades of sanctions, are rarely supported by hard data. On the contrary, they run counter to the little reliable evidence available.

The “Black Hole”

If statistics on the DPRK economy are mentioned at all in the Western press, they generally stem from “secondary source” estimations rather than “primary source” figures from the DPRK government. The most commonly used of those estimates are those of the South Korean Bank of Korea (BOK) and of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)21. Yet there are a number of reasons why these numbers in fact are nearly unuseable as evidence for the above three claims.

First, the numbers are equivocal. CIA numbers do present the DPRK as comparatively poor in terms of PPP-based GDP per capita. The $1800 figure from 2011 would place it 197th of 229 countries in the world, located among mostly African economies22. But as far as the CIA’s general GDP figure goes, the $40 billion figure catapults the economy into a comfortable middle position (106thof 229)23, which is not really what one would expect from “one of the poorest countries in the world.” Moreover, neither BOK nor CIA figures demonstrate that the DPRK economy is going “from bad to worse.”The CIA’s PPP figure has simply remained stuck at $40 billion for the past ten years. And according to BOK estimates, the DPRK’s GDP has been growing at an average of roughly 1% per year in the ten years from 2003 to 201224. These figures alone cannot prove recession, they would have to be combined with evidence of high inflation rates. This, again, is easier said than done, in the absence of access to something like a yearly and holistic consumer price index (CPI) figure.

 

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
-6.3 -1.1 6.2 1.3 (0.4) 3.7 (3.8) 1.2 1.8 2.2 (2.1)
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
3.8 -1.1 (-1.0) -2.3 (-1.2) 3.7 (3.1) -0.9 -0.5 0.8 1.3

 

Figure 1: BOK estimates of DPRK GDP growth 1997-2012

Note: Figures up to 2008 are drawn from the BOK report for 2008, and those from 2009 to 2012 are drawn from the report for 2012. Figures in parentheses represent those from the 2012 report that conflict with those from the 2008 report25.

Second, these numbers are rarely comparable with figures for other countries, for methodological reasons. Both institutions admit this, and yet many commentators seem to ignore it when they use them. The BOK’S GDP estimates, for instance, are unsuitable for international comparison with any economy except the South Korean one, because they were estimated on the basis of South Korean prices, exchange rates and value added ratios26. Meanwhile, CIA estimates are unsuitable for historical comparison, because the methodology it used changed over time27. Particularly striking is the sudden and unexplained “jump” from a $22.3 billion GDP figure in 2003 to a $40 billion one in 200428.

Third, these numbers are actually little more than wild guesses. Both institutions admit that they have far too little data to work with to provide reliable estimates. BOK officials, for instance, have conceded that the paucity and unreliability of price and exchange rate data for North Korea mean that an estimated GDP figure will “by nature be highly subjective, arbitrary and prone to errors.”29 The CIA, for its part, rounds PPP-based GDP figures for the DPRK to “the nearest $10 billion,” telling volumes about the confidence with which it makes its estimates30.

Four, these numbers cannot accurately reflect fundamental differences between market-driven and socialist economies. How meaningful or useful are the GDP per capita figures of the CIA and the BOK in measuring quality of life in a taxfree country with public food distribution as well as free housing, healthcare and education? What do prices or income really mean in such a system anyway? The use of GDP figures is notoriously controversial when it comes to judging the well-being or economic development of a people, and this is even truer in the case of socialist economies31.

Finally, there are good reasons to think that the numbers have been politically manipulated.According to Marcus Noland, executive vice-president and director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics:

[The BOK's GDP estimation] process is not particularly transparent and appears vulnerable to politicization. In 2000, the central bank delayed the announcement of the estimate until one week before the historic summit between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The figures implied an extraordinary acceleration of North Korea’s growth rate to nearly 7 percent. This had never occurred before and has not been repeated since. Under current South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, a conservative, the central bank’s figures imply that the North Korean economy has barely grown at all32.As for the CIA numbers, suffice to say that they create a completely artificial impression of stagnation by systematically rounding the GDP figure to the nearest $10 billion33.

As we can see, there are very serious grounds to doubt the reliability of secondary source estimates. This is why Noland has called the DPRK’s economy a “black hole” and warned against trusting any figure on DPRK economy that comes with a decimal point attached34. Rüdiger Frank, economist and Head of the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Vienna, concurs:

Too often, such numbers produced by Seoul’s Bank of Korea or published in the CIA World Factbook seem to be a curious product of the market mechanism. Where there is a demand, eventually there will be a supply: if you keep asking for numbers, they will eventually be produced. But knowing how hard it is to come up with reliable statistics even in an advanced, transparent, Western-style economy, it remains a mystery to me how suspiciously precise data are collected on an economy that has no convertible currency and that treats even the smallest piece of information as a state secret35.

Obviously, this does not leave us with many reliable sources of information to appreciate the state of the DPRK economy.

Of Food and Trade

The rare useable statistics indicate that the DPRK has, against all odds and expectations, managed to get back on its feet, and is now poised to reach new heights. As we will see, food production appears to have nearly recovered to self-sufficiency, which should bring increased labor productivity and life expectancy. Trade, for its part, seems to be booming, easing access to much-needed imports and foreign currency.

Food production is one of a few areas for which decent statistics are publicly available. When the DPRK first called for food aid in the 1990s, it agreed to cooperate with inspectors from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) in drafting an annual report for the donor community, the “Crop and Food Security Assessment Report” (CFSAR). There is a growing consensus that this cooperation makes the CFSAR a reasonably solid estimate of food production in the DPRK. According to Randall Ireson, consultant on rural and agricultural development issues in Asia:

Like all reports on North Korea, theCFSARsare by no means perfect, but we have come a long way from the 1990s when for most reports, any precision after the first digit represented a wild guess. While there are certainly errors in the estimates, the reports have benefited from the use of a consistent methodology over many years and improved cooperation from DPRK authorities. Moreover, since 2011, the assessment teams have included international Korean-speaking members, and since last year, they have been able to take sample crop cuttings from selected fields as a cross check against farm production reports. [...] The mission used official data provided by the government, but adjusted those data based on ground observations and satellite information36.

 

Figure 2: DPRK Cereal Production 1981-2011 (per thousand metric tonnes). Source: FAO37.

According to the latest CFSAR, the food production for the year 2012 to 2013 was 5.07 mMT of grain equivalent. This corresponds to 95% of the estimated grain requirement of the DPRK for that year38. Note that this figure does not mean malnutrition has been fully eradicated, especially among vulnerable groups. The estimate refers solely to an average grain requirement of 1640 kcal/day per person (174 kg of grain equivalent per year), excluding 400 kcal/day and other nutrient needs (e.g. protein) to be covered with non-cereal food sources39. Moreover, the figure does not address the issue of distribution. But even though these are important caveats, seeing self-sufficiency within grasp remains a major cause of optimism, especially when the current 5.07 mMT figure is compared to the 3 mMT of the late 1990s. Provided that appropriate reforms are made and effectively implemented, it may be only a matter of time before the DPRK returns to the 6 million tons plateau it reported for the late 1980s.

Trade is another area for which comparativelysolidstatistics now exist. Although the DPRK does not publish its trade volumes, data can still be collected through reverse statistics of its trade partners40. The reliability of an aggregated trade volume figure for the DPRK is thus dependent on the countries for which data have been collected. Unfortunately, it appears that customs offices sometimes make major errors, for example by confusing trade with Pyongyang and trade with Seoul41. Reliability thus also depends to a certain extent on the good judgment of the database compilers, especially since many statistics are likely to be simply mirrored from other sources. Finally, it must be kept in mind that sanctions on the DPRK might force it to conduct a substantial part of its trade covertly42, and that a considerable amount of smuggling might be conducted outside the purview of the State, meaning that officially reported trade figures are actually heavily undervalued compared to the real amount of trade conducted by DPRK entities and individuals.

According to an extensive review of DPRK economic statistics by development consultant Mika Marumoto, the most referenced databases on DPRK trade volumes are those of the IMF Direction of Trade, the UN Comtrade and the Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), a South Korean organization43. There are still important differences between the respective figures they report for the DPRK. In 2006, says Marumoto, the aggregate trade volume figures varied from $2.9 billion for the KOTRA, to $4.3 billion for the IMF and to $4.4 billion for the UN database44. According to Marumoto, the discrepancy is largely explainable by differences in the number of countries covered and the conservativeness with which the data is appraised. From 1997 to 2007, the KOTRA surveyed trade with only 50 to 60 countries, while the IMF and the UN covered dealings with 111 to 136 countries45. KOTRA tends to be much more critical than the IMF and the UN concerning figures reported by national customs offices, often preferring to ignore them rather than run the risk of including errors46. The result, according to Marumoto, is that while IMF and UN figures may be overvalued for recording certain erroneous figures, the KOTRA data are almost certainly overly conservative, for example by ignoring trade with the entire South American continent47. Despite all those caveats and differences, the trade data nonetheless remain useful in providing a certain sense of scale.

Another major methodological issue that deserves attention is that Seoul does not report trade with Pyongyang as “international trade48.” In the complex politics of a divided nation, neither the southern nor the northern government considers the other another “country.” They record trade with each other in a separate, “inter-Korean” trade category. The statistics of international organizations like the IMF and UN cannot reflect these subtleties, and thus simply record that inter-Korean trade is extremely low (e.g. $36 million in 2005) or even non-existent, when Seoul is in fact Pyongyang’s second-most important trade partner after Beijing, with volumes standing at about $1.8 billion in 200749. Since KOTRA does not include inter-Korean trade volumes, and since the IMF and UN numbers are unusable for this, we have to use the separate data of the southern Ministry of Unification (MOU). Unfortunately, what the MOU counts as “trade” includes transactions that are in fact classified as “non-commercial” and that includegoods related to humanitarianaid,as well associal and cultural cooperation projects50.Moreover, the trade figures may be further inflated by the way in which the MOU records transit of goods in and out of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a joint economic zone in the North that accounts for the bulk of inter-Korean trade. By counting “southern” KIC inputs as exports and “northern” KIC outputs as imports, the MOU is actually deviating from standard accounting practice, insofar as it should only be counting as imports the value added by processing in the KIC. Both of these points suggest that the MOU numbers are overvalued, but we simply have no alternative ones to use.

Figure 3: KOTRA and IMF DOTS presentations of the ratio of Sino-Korean trade to total DPRK trade 1990-2010. Graph by Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland51.

For the sake of simplicity, rather than quote a multitude of sources every time for international trade figures, we will simply use the KOTRA numbers for international trade in tandem with the MOU numbers for inter-Korean trade (except where otherwise specified), bearing in mind that they are respectively under- and over-valued. Southern research databases like the Information System for Resources on North Korea (i-RENK) generally followthese figures and compile their graphs accordingly52. Both KOTRA and the MOU are, after all, South Korean governmental organizations.

According to i-RENK, the great majority of DPRK trade is conducted between the Koreas ($1.97billionin 2012) and with China ($5.93billionin 2012).Trade with the rest of the world was evaluated by KOTRA at around $427 million in 2012, from which tradewith theEuropean Unionaccounted forabout $100 million,according to the EU’s Directorate-General for Trade53. According to the CIA Factbook, the DPRK primarily imports petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment, textiles and grain;it exports minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments), textiles, agricultural and fishery products54.Interestingly, even ROKfigures clearly indicate that the DPRK is going through an unexpected trade boom, beginning, of course, from low levels of trade. AggregateKOTRAand MOU figures indicate thatthe total volumes have nearly quintupled from $1.8 billion in 1999 to $8.8 billion in 201255.This directly contradicts suggestions that theDPRKis going “from bad to worse.”

A further observation that can be made is that Pyongyang is much less dependent on inter-Korean trade as a source of foreign currency than Seoul apparently believed. It is probable that the KOTRA methodology contributed to create this false impression as its statistics systematically ignore most of the developing world. At any rate, when hawkish conservatives came to power in Seoul in 2008, they decided to pressure Pyongyang by using inter-Korean trade as a carrot to control it . This strategy turned out to be grossly miscalculated. Pyongyang simply turned to Beijing, and trade volumes with China soon left those with South Korea far behind. Instead of increasing Seoul’s influence in Pyongyang, the confrontational move drastically reduced it, wasting a decade of trust-building efforts by South Korean doves.

The evolution of Sino-Korean (China-DPRK) and inter-Korean trade clearly reflects the shifting of Pyongyang’s priorities and possibilities. Back in 1999, trade levels were still similar –i-RENK graphs show the inter-Korean trade at$333millionand the Sino-Korean at$351million. Thanks to the doves’ efforts in Seoul, both trade channels progressed at roughly the same speed for the next eight years, reaching respectively $1.8and $2billion in 2007. But when the hawks took over and tried to take inter-Korean trade hostage, total volumes stagnated at an average of $1.8 billionfor four years, even falling to $1.14billion in 2013, their lowest level since 200556. The politicization of inter-Korean trade by Seoul predictably led to a shift towards Beijing, and Sino-Korean trade volumes soared up to six times ($6.54billion57in 2013) above inter-Korean ones. “South Korea,” as one commentator bluntly concludes, “has lost the North to China58.” Tokyo similarly wasted its influence when it first banned all imports from the DPRK and then all exports to it to express its displeasure with Pyongyang’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 200959. The DPRK is left with nothing else to lose, and has continued its nuclear tests in 2013 regardless of Japan’s now almost toothless protests.

Figure 4: Inter -Korean and Sino-Korean trade volumes 1993-2011. Graph by Scott A. Snyder60.

Budget Matters

Having established that the DPRK is probably close to food self-sufficiency and is experiencing a trade boom, we can consider primary sources from the DPRK itself, such as the annual budget sheets published by the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA). They are the closest we get to official and publicly available statistics on the DPRK economy. Remarkably, the latest ones hint that the DPRK has attained or is about to attain double digit growth. If that proves to be correct, the change would be extraordinary, given what the DPRK went through in the 1990s and continued obstacles such as US-led sanctions.

Before drawing any conclusions, however, we must examine the reliability of those numbers, as we did for our other sources. Critics point out that the published sheets are full of blanks, and only reveal relative rather than absolute numbers61. Moreover, the achievements cannot be verified, leading to accusations that the projections may be little more than Party propaganda. But according to Rüdiger Frank, who has lived in both the GDR (the former East Germany) and the Soviet Union before the end of the Cold War, there are good reasons to see these figures as “not just propaganda, but rather more or less the North Korean contribution to the guessing game about [the performance of the country’s economy62.”

Though Frank cautions against taking the figures at face value, he points out that they do consistently include overall values for State revenue and expenditure – both planned and achieved. He argues that this can, at the very least, reveal the level of optimism and confidence the authorities place in the economy63. His analysis of the year-on-year differences since the early 2000s shows that this level, rather than following an “idealized” trajectory, shows credible patterns of response to major contemporary events64. There are, for instance, significant drops and priority shifts in reaction to the Iraq War or the DPRK’s first nuclear test in 2006. Interestingly, Frank notes a “relatively high” coefficient of correlation of the SPA budget figures with the BOK’s GDP growth estimates of the DPRK, leading him to conclude that “although both sides seem to differ about the amount of growth, at least there is some moderately strong agreement about its general direction65.”

Figure 5: Year-on-year growth (in percentage) according to BOK estimates on GDP and SPA reports on state budget revenue and expenditure. Source: BOK, KCNA. Graph by Rüdiger Frank66.

The year-on-year growth of the state budgetary revenue stands out for our purposes, because one can assume it loosely corresponds to a GDP growth figure. We can see, for instance, that the growth of achieved revenue drops sharply from +16% in 2005 to a little over +4% in 2006 – perhaps because of the sanctions for the first nuclear test. Although direct comparisons between SPA and BOK data should actually be avoided insofar as they do not measure exactly the same sort of growth, it is still notable that the BOK numbers also report a sharp drop from +3.8% in 2005 to -1.0% in 2006.

Interestingly, however, the two trajectories diverge after this. BOK values from 2008 (+3.1%) to 2012 estimate a dip in 2009 (-0.9%) and a timid recovery up until 2012 (+1.3%). SPA values, however, accelerate by almost a full percentage point per year from 2008 (+6%) to 2013 (+10.1%). Why does the BOK estimate growth to be so weak and erratic when the SPA reports it to be so strong and sustained? There seems to be a world of a difference between the southern narrative of near stagnation and the northern picture of double-digit growth. Of course, we should not get too caught up in the detail of numbers that are little more than wild guesses on the one side and that are unverifiable on the other. But analysing the credibility of each version may give us useful hints on the DPRK’s actual rate of growth.

The 2009 Mystery

Consider 2009, when the BOK estimated a sharp dip (from +3.1% to -0.9%) and the SPA presented steadily accelerating growth (from +6% to +7%). There are a number of major events that could help us determine which of these trajectories is most plausible.

First of all, oil and food prices fell markedly on the world market that year, following the financial crisis. The price of Brent crude oil nose-dived from nearly $140 per barrel in 2008 to about $40-80 in 2009, and the FAO food price index fell down from 201.4 points in 2008 to 160.3 in 200967, making imports of both much more affordable for the DPRK.

Figure 6: WTI and Brent crude oil prices 2002-2011

Second, trade and financial sanctions against the DPRK were tightened by Security Council Resolution 1874 on June 12, in response to a new nuclear test by the DPRK. However, there was not much more that could be tightened after the 2006 sanctions, besides lengthening the lists of embargoed arms, luxury goods and dual-use items as well as targeting eight entities and five officials with financial sanctions and travel bans.

Third, meteorological stations recorded “unusually intense rainstorms” in August to September 2009 and an “unusually severe and prolonged68” winter for 2009/2010, affecting the country’s agriculture. Unfortunately, the FAO did not draw up an annual report for crop and food security assessment (CFSAR) in 2009, leaving us to rely on information collected for the 2010 CFSAR.

Fourth, a major currency revaluation came into force on the 30thNovember 2009, when citizens were given a certain time window to exchange old currency for new currency at a rate of 100:1, with an exchange cap eventually set at 500,000 oldwon69. Remaining oldwonwere to be deposited in a state bank, but deposits in excess of a million were to come with proof of a legal source of earning70. This was meant to multiply the spending power of ordinary citizens (wages in newwoncoupled with price controls in the public distribution system) while wiping out the stashes of thenouveaux richeswho had been involved in the shadow economy and who could not prove a legal source of earning, like smugglers and corrupt officials71. On a macroeconomic level, it would allow the state to reassert control over the currency (curb inflation and reduce currency substitution) and over the economy (discourage imports, stimulate domestic production and replenish bank capital available for investment)72 Outside observers, however, feared that the blow to private savings and the shadow economy could dislocate the main economy and lead to a devastating food crisis, as much food consumption was reportedly drawn from private markets73. Last but not least, it must be noted that the publication of the BOK estimates for the DPRK’s GDP growth in 2009 were published just a month after hawks in Seoul called a halt to all inter-Korean trade and investment outside of a designated special economic zone, the Kaesong Industrial Complex. As we will see below, there are reasonable grounds to believe that those estimates have been affected by the drama of domestic politics unfolding at the time.

So, how is possible to justify negative economic growth based on those events? From the BOK perspective, the 2009 dip is due to “decreased agricultural production due to damage from particularly severe cold weather” and “sluggish manufacturing production owing to a lack of raw materials and electricity74.” Accordingly, the agriculture, forestry & fisheries sectorand the manufacturing sector were said to be down by respectively -1 and -3%, compared with 2008. Based on satellite images, the BOK estimated cereal production to have slowed from 4.3 million metric tons of grain equivalent in 200875to 4.1 mMT in 200976. Lack of raw materials and electricity, for its part, could be explained by the difficulty of securing imports because of tightening sanctions and because of the depreciation of thewoncompared to other currencies in the wake of the reform. The revaluation was also reported in the Western and South Korean press to have wreaked havoc in the economy, as the crackdown on smugglers and private traders reduced the supply of a range of goods and thereby allegedly triggered “runaway inflation77.”

That being said, there are reasonable grounds to challenge this pessimistic analysis. Concerning the agricultural sector, there are obviously limits to the accuracy of satellite-based estimates. The slashing of oil prices on the world market would instead suggest a rise in agricultural production, given the greater affordability of fuel and fertilizer. And while the FAO confirms harsh weather reports and appears to report figures similar to those of the BOK78, the fact that it did not draw up a separate report for 2009 indicates that it did not enter the country that year, and that it might therefore just be mirroring BOK estimates. This means that, once more, we are confronted with unverifiable figures. Concerning access to imports, it is hard to imagine the 2009 sanctions could have seriously hurt the economy, given that the country had by this time found a range of ways to evade these sanctions79and there was not much more to tighten compared to 2006. Instead, again, the tumbling of food and oil prices on the world market suggests that the DPRK’s two most crucial imports could be secured at more affordable prices, allowing the redirecting of reserves for other needed imports.

As for the currency revaluation, the surprise announcement arguably came too late (30thNovember) to have seriously impacted 2009 figures on the general economy.The reform did suffer some problems of implementation, as the government publicly admitted80, butWestern claims of chaos and unrest (or even of the sacking and execution of a responsible official) were based on second- or third-hand reports of isolated, unverifiable or uncorroborated incidents81. Note also that the above-mentioned “runaway inflation” reports are not based on holistic CPI figures, but on foreseeable price hikes of selected consumer itemson the black market(making it unattractivevis-à-visthe public distribution system was the whole point, after all). Western beliefs that the shadow economy was so big that any attack on it would dislocate the main economy appear to have been proved wrong in retrospect asprices and exchange rates stabilized after a short period of transition82. Keeping in mind that, in all likelihood, the reform partly aimed at freeing up capital and stimulating domestic production, we would have to compare nationwide production figures in all sectors before and after the reform to establish whether it actually had a positive or negative impact on the main economy. Since we don’t have these figures, we cannot really pass a verdict on the reform’s legacy. But note that according to Jin Meihua, a research scholar on Northeast Asian Studies at the Jilin Academy of Social Sciences writing thirteen months after the revaluation, exchange rates with the Chinese yuan, prices of rationed rice and prices of rice on the open market all more or less halved from 2009 to 2010, dropping respectively from 1:500 to 1:200, from 46 to 24 won a kg, and from 2000 to 900 won a kg83. These figures imply that the turbulent period that followed the reform did not last long, and that prices and exchange rates soon stabilized enough to double the spending power of consumers of rice and Chinese imports. At the end of the day, it does seem hard to use this reform to build a convincing case for GDP drop.

‘Tongil Street Market,’ a state-sanctioned market in Pyongyang. Photo: Naenara.com (2003)

So perhaps analysis of trade figures will help determine whether the BOK’s estimated four point deceleration in growth is more or less plausible than the SPA’s reported one point acceleration. Regarding inter-Korean trade, the MOU reported that volumes shrank by 7.8% from 2008 to 2009, down to $1679 million84. And regarding Sino-Korean trade, the Chinese Embassy in the DPRK reports that volumes slowed by 4%, for a total of $2.68 billion85. Do these reductions not seem a bit too small to justify the BOK’s claim concerning recession? One has to keep in mind that the reduction in the reportedvalueof the Sino-Korean trade does not necessarily entail a reduction in theamountof goods flowing into the DPRK, given the dramatic reduction in world price for food and oil. Also, the June sanctions likely pushed a sizeable part of Sino-Korean trade in the grey zone of unreported trade. Note, for example, that Chinese customs stopped publishing Sino-Korean trade data from August to November, so that there is no way of verifying the quantity of goods that crossed the Yalu and Tumen rivers in 200986. Even the above-mentioned $2.68 billion figure likely does not tell the whole story. Moreover, it is hard to believe that the DPRK had not foreseen the outcry its nuclear test would cause in May, and accordingly stocked up on necessary goods long before the sanctions hit it in June. Finally, consider that trying to use trade data to justify the BOK’s reported recession backfires when discussing GDP growth for later years. If a reduction of Sino-Korean trade volumes from $2.79 to $2.68 billion could reduce GDP growth by 4% in 2009, where would this leave us for 2010 or 2011, when trade volumes leaped respectively to $3.47 billion and $5.63 billion? Surely this suggests that the DPRK’s GDP growth should be substantial at this time. Yet BOK figures inexplicably continue to indicate negative value for 2010 (-0.5%) and only timid growth for 2011 (+0.8%). Would the SPA’s revenue growth figures for 2010 and 2011 not be far more plausible in this case, at respectively 7.7% and 8.6%87? These considerations leave the BOK’s pessimist assessment of the DPRK economy on very shaky ground indeed.

All this makes us wonder about the extent to which the BOK judgment might be influenced by Seoul’s political climate. This would not be the first time that the BOK is the target of such suspicions, as we noted above. It thus becomes relevant to point out that BOK statistics for 2009 were published in June 2010, when inter-Korean relations were at their worst since the end of the Cold War. Relations had already been going downhill since Lee Myung-bak – the first conservative president in fifteen years – assumed power in Seoul in 2008. But it was not until May 2010 that Seoul really cut ties, by halting all inter-Korean trade and investment outside the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The precise justification for these “May 24 measures” was the Cheonanincident, the sinking of a southern corvette that hawks in Seoul have blamed on Pyongyang. A summary of the report coming to this controversial conclusion had been released on May 20th, with the full report only made available to the public in mid-September. Ultimately, Seoul’s accusations failed to convince enough nations internationally to produce unified action88. But in the South, the hawks were cracking down heavily on dissent, silencing growing suspicions among doves that it may all have been a false flag operation designed to discredit the opposition. Why else release only a “summary” just when campaigning started for the June 2ndlocal elections? The government seemed to do everything in its power to control public discourse on the incident, invoking national security to prosecute public critics of the report (or even the skepticism voiced by a former presidential secretary) as libel or “pro-North” propaganda89. In these circumstances, it seems almost too convenient for the hawks that the BOK estimates a weakening of the northern economy, less than a month after doves registered surprising successes in local elections by drumming up support against the trade ban90.

To sum up, too little data is available to solve the 2009 riddle with absolute certainty. We do have reasonable grounds to believe, though, that the economy continued to grow during that year, following a trajectory more in line with the SPA than the BOK assessment. Agriculture may have suffered from the weather, but probably benefited from low oil prices. The currency reform arguably came too late to substantially drag down figures for 2009, and it turns out that the doomsday reporting that surrounded it at the time was mostly exaggerated. The new wave of sanctions was foreseeable and probably added only limited pressure compared to what was already in place. Reported trade, though sluggish, slowed less than expected, and this sluggishness was likely offset by low food and oil prices, as well as unreported trade. In any case, if lethargic trade could really throw the DPRK into a recession, it is hard to see why the BOK would continue to report recession and mediocre growth in 2010 and 2011, when trade was skyrocketing. There thus seems to be no convincing empirical evidence to warrant the BOK’s pessimism. Worse, the atmosphere in Seoul at the time the estimates were published gives rise to concerns that the BOK may have been manipulated for domestic political purposes.If the SPA’s numbers turn out to be accurate, and the trajectory in 2010 and 2011 seems to suggest so, then the DPRK’s growth rate ranks among the fastest in the world in these years.

Conclusion: A New Era?

The theory of the “coming North Korean collapse” is a curiously tenacious myth. It is based on little more than speculation, sometimes aggravated by misinformation, disinformation or wishful thinking. Even the dubious and undervalued statistics commonly cited in the Western and South Korean press hardly support allegations that the DPRK’s socialist economy is slowly disintegrating. On the contrary, comparatively reliable indicators on food and trade suggest that it is recovering and catching up, despite the extremely hostile conditions it has faced since the 1990s.

The evidence suggests that the high growth figures reported by Pyongyang are more plausible than the pessimistic estimates emanating from Seoul. Some changes have been so conspicuous that they could be followed by satellite imagery91, such as the recent construction frenzy92that has seen impressive new housing, health, entertainment and infrastructure facilities mushroom in Pyongyang and other major cities of the DPRK93. Some other changes have been more subtle, and reach us instead through the observations of recent visitors like Rüdiger Frank:

…the number of cars has been growing so much that in the capital traffic lights had to be installed and the famous “Flowers of Pyongyang”—the traffic ladies—had to be pulled off the street lest they get overrun by Beijing taxis, home-madeHuitparamsandSamchollis, the ever-present German luxury brands of all ages and the occasional Hummer. Inline-skating kids are now such a common sight that hardly any visitor bothers mentioning them anymore. Restaurants and shops are everywhere, people are better dressed, more self-confident than two decades ago, and obviously also better fed, at least in the capital. Air conditioners are mounted on the walls of many residential buildings and offices. Everyone seems to have a mobile phone, and there are even tablet computers.In the countryside, too, signs of improving living standards are visible, including solar panels, TV antennas, cars in front of farmer’s houses, shops, restaurants and so forth94.

In fact, the question today in informed circles is not so much whether the DPRK is changing, but whether it can sustain this change in the long-term. Frank, notably, worries that the economy is not yet solid enough to justify such an ongoing spending spree, and draws concerned parallels with the closing years of his native GDR95.

Newly built apartments in downtown Pyongyang. Photo: Lukasz.

The DPRK, however, has a trump card that may spare it the fate of the GDR – a vast and still largely untapped mineral wealth. The country has literally been called a “gold mine,96“and there is in fact not just gold, but a whole range of extremely valuable mineral resources in the mountains of Korea. According to Choi Kyung-soo, President of the North Korea Resources Institute in Seoul:

North Korea’s mineral resources are distributed across a wide area comprising about 80 percent of the country. North Korea hosts sizable deposits of more than 200 different minerals and has among the top-10 largest reserves of magnesite, tungsten ore, graphite, gold ore, and molybdenum in the world. Its magnesite reserves are the second largest in the world and its tungsten deposits are probably the sixth-largest in the world97.

South Korean reports have estimated the total value of the North‘s mineral wealth at US$ 7 to 10 trillion99. And this was before the largest so-called rare earth element (REE) deposit in the world was discovered in the north of the country, in Jongju, with 216 MT of REEs said to be “worth trillions of dollars” by themselves100.

To be sure, the experiences of countries like Mongolia, Nigeria and Russia show that it is not so much the presence, but the ability to extract and market natural resources that matters. Choi estimates existing mining facilities in the DPRK to operate below 30 percent of capacity because of lack of capital, antiquated infrastructure and regular energy shortages101. And although the DPRK has expressed interest in joint ventures to develop its mining industry, foreign companies appear concerned about the legal guarantees and the general investing environment that the country can offer102.

Figure 7: Estimates of the DPRK’s major mineral and coal reserves (per thousand metric tonnes, unless otherwise specified). Source: Korea Resources Cooperation98.

That being said, the government appears to be taking steps to respond to these challenges. It has, for example, supported mammoth trilateral projects between Moscow, Pyongyang and Seoul (the so-called “Iron Silk Road”) that could link the Russian Far East and the Korean Peninsula with railways, pipelines and electric grids103. Once built, the railway could reduce the time needed for goods to transit between Asia and Europe to just 14 days, instead of 45 days by freight shipping up to now, greatly facilitating trade104. The greater and cheaper access to Russian energy should also prove a boon to the DPRK economy.

The government has also taken steps to meet investor expectations through the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Drawing on the Chinese and Vietnamese experiences, SEZs are segregated areas with a favorable legal and fiscal framework specially designed to attract foreign investment. Following establishment of the Rason SEZ as a model, the government has announced plans for new SEZs all over the country. Besides the construction of the Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa islands SEZs on the Sino-Korean border105, it has also been actively setting up fourteen new provincial SEZs106, as well as a “Green Development Zone” in Kangryong and a “Science and Technology Development Zone” in Umjong107. Reports indicate that, besides these, even further SEZ plans may be in the works108. A new SEZ law has also been unveiled, to provide international investors with appropriate frameworks and guarantees109.

The government also appears to encourage companies to approach it for cooperation beyond the SEZs. A good example is the joint venture between the Egyptian telecom provider Orascom (75%) and the Korea Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (25%), which launched the DPRK’s first 3G cellular service in December 2008, reaching a million subscribers by February 2012 and two million by May 2013110.

A pier of the Rason SEZ. Photo: NKNews

Given this potential – as well as the wider evidence presented in this paper – it makes little sense to continue to insist that the DPRK is heading towards economic collapse. If collapse ever threatened the DPRK, it was twenty years ago, not now. This also means that there is just as little sense in continuing to strangle the Korean people through sanctions and diplomatic isolation. These have failed to fulfil any substantial objectives to date, be it regime change or nuclear non-proliferation, and will be even less likely to fulfil them in the future, if the country continues to grow.

In these circumstances, continued sanctions and forced isolation may not be meaningfully contributing to international peace and security. Marginalization has not only failed to “pacify” the country, it even seems to have radicalized it. It is obvious that the more we isolate the DPRK, the more it will want to develop its self-defence capabilities, and the less it will stand to lose from infuriating its neighbours with its nuclear and ballistic research programs. Better integration into the world community would likely be much more effective in shifting its political priorities.

The DPRK, far from being the crazed and trigger-happy buccaneer it is made out to be in international media, is – like many other countries – prioritizes its own safety and prosperity. Since the country insists on its right to self-determination and has apparently found ways to maintain it without collapsing in the face of international power, we should stop senselessly segregating it and instead help it integrate into the global village, by giving it reasonable security guarantees and establishing mutually beneficial trade relations. This is not about “rewarding” the DPRK, but simply about choosing the ounce of prevention that will be worth the pound of cure and opting for a policy that best serves world peace.

Candlelight vigil on Seoul Plaza in favour of a US-DPRK peace treaty, held on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement, July 27, 2013. Photo: Lee Seung-Bin / Voice of the People.

Henri Feron is a Ph.D candidate in international law at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He holds an LL.B. in French and English law from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and King’s College London, as well as an LL.M. in Chinese law from Tsinghua University. He can be reached at [email protected]

Notes

Rüdiger Frank, “A Question of Interpretation: Statistics From and About North Korea,”38 North, Washington, D.C.: U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University,July 16, 2012. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

See e.g.Evan Ramstad, “North Korea Strains Under New Pressures”,The Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; Geoffrey Cain, “North Korea’s Impending Collapse: 3 Grim Scenarios”,Global Post, September 28, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; Doug Bandow, “The Complex Calculus of a North Korean Collapse”,The National Interest, January 9, 2014. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

See e.g. Soo-bin Park, “The North Korea Economy: Current Issues and Prospects,” Department of Economics, Carleton University (2004). Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

4 World Food Programme. Office of Evaluation, Full Report of the Evaluation of DPRK EMOPs 5959.00 and 5959.01 “Emergency Assistance to Vulnerable Groups,” March 20 to April 10, 2000, p.1. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

5 Food and Agricultural Organization/World Food Programme,Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, November 12, 2012, p.10.Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

6 Food and Agricultural Organization/World Food Programme,Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, June 25, 1998.Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

7 For a summary of unilateral sanctions by the United States of America against the DPRK, refer to: U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control,An Overview of Sanctions with Respect to North Korea, May 6, 2011. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

8 “Breaking the Bank,” The Economist, September 22, 2005. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

9 “Ernst & Young says Macao-based BDA clean, cites minor faults,” RIA Novosti, April 18, 2007. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

10 See Ronda Hauben, “Behind the Blacklisting of Banco Delta Asia,”Ohmynews, May 25, 2007. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; John McGlynn, John McGlynn, “North Korean Criminality Examined: the US Case. Part I,” Japan Focus, May 18, 2007. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; Id., “Financial Sanctions and North Korea: In Search of the Evidence of Currency Counterfeiting and Money Laundering Part II,” July 7, 2007; Id., “Banco Delta Asia, North Korea’s Frozen Funds and US Undermining of the Six-Party Talks: Obstacles to a Solution. Part III,” Japan Focus, June 9, 2007.

11 Daniel L. Glaser, testimony before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, September 12, 2006. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

12 Simon Rabinovitch and Simon Mundy, “China reduces banking lifeline to North Korea,” Financial Times, May 7, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

13 Simon Rabinovitch, “China banks rein in support for North Korea,” Financial Times, May 13, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

14SeeRüdiger Frank, “The Political Economy of Sanctions against North Korea,”Asian Perspective, Vol. 30, No. 3, 2006, at 5-36. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

15 Ibid.

16 Chad O’Caroll, “How Sanctions Stop Legitimate North Korean Trade,” NK News, February 18, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014 at: http://www.nknews.org/2013/02/how-sanctions-stop-legitimate-north-korean-trade/

17 Ibid.

18 See e.g.Michelle A Vu, “Living conditions in North Korea ‘very bad’,”Christian Today, March 31, 2009. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; Harry de Quetteville, “Enjoy your stay… at North Korean Embassy,”Telegraph, April 5, 2008. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

19 See, e.g.,“Where the sun sinks in the east,”The Economist, August 11, 2012 (print edition). Retrieved on April 10, 2014; Nicholas Eberstadt, “The economics of state failure in North Korea,”American Enterprise Institute, May 23, 2012. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

20 Ibid.

21 Mika Marumoto,Project Report: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Economic Statistics Project(April-December 2008), Presented to Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management and the DPRK Economic Forum, U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University-School of Advanced International Studies. March 2009, at 42. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

22 United States Central Intelligence Agency, “North Korea”,The World Factbook. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

23 Ibid.

24 Calculations based on tables in the BOK report for 2012. SeeBank of Korea,Gross Domestic Product Estimates for North Korea in 2012. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

25Ibid. See also Bank of Korea,Gross Domestic Product of North Korea in 2008. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

26 BOK, supra note 24.

27 CIA, supranote 22

28 Marumoto,supranote 21, at 48

29 Ibid., at 58-63.

30 CIA,supranote 22

31 The DPRK does not now participate in global Human Development Index (HDI) calculations, which would be a better measure of development than GDP as it includes life expectancy, education and standard of living variables. The only HDI figures we have now are based on 1995 data, during the famine that followed the collapse of the socialist bloc. Even then, UN data indicate that the DPRK still had an HDI of 0.766, roughly the same as Turkey (0.782) or Iran (0.758), placing 73rdout of 158, on the verge of leaving the medium HDI category (0.5 – 0.8) for a high HDI one (0.8 – 1). See United Nations Development Programme,Human Development Report 1998, at 20. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

32 Marcus Noland, “The Black Hole of North Korea”,Foreign Policy, March 7, 2012.

33 Marumoto,supranote 21, at 48

34 Noland, supra note 32

35 Frank, supra note 1

36 Randall Ireson, “The State of North Korean Farming: New Information from the UN Crop Assessment Report,”38 North, Washington, D.C.: U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University,December 18, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

37 Food and Agricultural Organization/World Food Programme,Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, November 25, 2011. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

38 Food and Agricultural Organization/World Food Programme,Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, November 28, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

39 Ireson,supranote 36

40 Marumoto,supranote 21, at 58-63

41 Ibid.

42 See,generally, UN Security Council Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1874 (2009), Report, March 6, 2014, S/2014/147. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

43 Marumoto,supranote 21, at 58-63

44 Ibid.

45 Ibid.

46 Ibid.

47 Ibid.

48 Ibid, at 67-69.

49 Ibid.

50 Ibid.

51 Stephen Haggard and Marcus Noland, “Sanctions Busting,” Peterson Institute of International Economics, June 12, 2012. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

52 See graphs on the i-RENK database. Retrieved on April 10, 2014 (Korean only).

53 European Union Directorate-General for Trade,European Union, Trade in Goods with North Korea, November 7, 2013.

54 CIA,supranote 22

55 See graphs on the i-RENK database. Retrieved on April 10, 2014 (Korean only).

56 “Inter-Korean trade hits 8-year low in 2013,”Yonhap News Agency, February 23, 2014.

57 “Trade between N. Korea, China hits record $6.45 bln in 2013,”Yonhap News Agency, February 1, 2014.

58 Aidan Foster-Carter, “South Korea has lost the North to China,”Financial Times, February 20, 2014.

59 The National Committee on North Korea, DPRK-Japan Relations: A Historical Overview, December 1, 2011. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

60 Scott A. Snyder, “North Korea’s Growing Trade Dependency on China: Mixed Strategic Implications,” Council on Foreign Relations, June 15, 2012. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

61 Aidan Foster-Carter, “Budget Blanks and Blues,”38 North, Washington, D.C.: U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University,June 26, 2012. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

62 Frank,supranote 1

63 Ibid.

64 Ibid.

65 Ibid.

66 Ibid.

67 Seetables on the FAO website. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

68 Food and Agricultural Organization/World Food Programme,Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, November 16,2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

69 “N.Korea backtracks as currency reform sparks riots”,The Chosun Ilbo, December 15, 2009. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

70Ibid.

71 Alexandre Mansourov, North Korea: Changing but Stable,38 North,Washington, D.C.: U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, May 1, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

72Ibid.

73 Blaine Harden, “North Korea revalues currency, destroying personal savings,” Washington Post, December 2, 2009. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

74 Bank of Korea,Gross Domestic Product of North Korea in 2009. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

75 Bank of Korea,Gross Domestic Product of North Korea in 2008. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

76 Bank of Korea,supranote 74

77 “New N.Korean Currency Sees Runaway Inflation,”The Chosun Ilbo, January 6, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

78 The FAO CFSAR for 2010/2011 reports that the 4.48 mMT production for that harvesting year was up 3% compared to 2009/2010, meaning the latter harvesting year’s production was about 4.35 mMT. The difference with the BOK’s 4.1 mMT might be explainable by the FAO’s inclusion of winter crops in its figure. FAO,supranote 68

79 Patrick Worsnip, “North Korea maneuvers to evade U.N. sanctions: experts,”Reuters, November 18, 2009. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

80 “N.Korea Climbs Down Over Anti-Market Reforms,”The Chosun Ilbo, February 11, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

81See“Chaos in North Korea Coverage,”38 North, U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, June 2, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

82 Meihua Jin, “DPRK at Economic Crossroads,”China Daily, December 22, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

83 Ibid.

84 Ministry of Unification (Republic of Korea), White Paper on Korean Reunification, 2013, p.86. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

85 Embassy of the PRC in the DPRK,Zhongchao Jingmao Gaikuang, July 20, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014 (Chinese only)

86 Note that this has lead the i-RENK database to record Sino-Korean trade volumes at nil during this period, indicating those volumes to amount toto $1.71 rather than $2.68 billion. This one billion dollar difference creates the wrong impression that Sino-Korean trade levels were in free-fall due to the sanctions.SeeChris Buckley, “China hides North Korea trade in statistics,”Reuters, October 26, 2009. Retrieved on April 10, 2014;see also graphs here (in Korean only)

87 Frank, supra note 1

88 This is neither the time nor the place to review the truth behind the sinking, but suffice to say that Pyongyang proposed to prove its innocence by sending a team to review the evidence (Seoul refused), that Moscow concluded in its own report that a stray mine was a more plausible cause, and that the UN Security Council found Seoul’s version too inconclusive to point any fingers.See“N.Korea’s reinvestigation proposal alters Cheonan situation”,The Hankyoreh, May 21, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; “Russia’s Cheonan investigation suspects that the sinking Cheonan ship was caused by a mine in water”,The Hankyoreh, July 27, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; “Presidential Statement: Attack on Republic of Korea Naval Ship ‘Cheonan’”. United Nations Security Council (United Nations). 9 July 2010. S/PRST/2010/13. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

89 See Barbara Demick and John M. Glionna, “Doubts surface on North Korea’s role in ship sinking,”Los Angeles Times, July 23, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; “Ex-Pres. Secretary Sued for Spreading Cheonan Rumors”,The Dong-A Ilbo, May 8, 2008. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; John M. Glionna,“South Korea security law is used to silence dissent, critics say,”Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2012. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; Ronda Hauben, “Netizens question cause of Cheonan tragedy,” Ohmynews, June 8, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

90 Blaine Harden, “President’s party takes hits in South Korean midterm elections,”Washington Post, June 3, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; Donald Kirk, “At polls, South Korea conservatives pay for response to Cheonan sinking,”Christian Science Monitor, June 3, 2010. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

91 See e.g. Curtis Melvin, “North Korea’s construction boom,”North Korean Economy Watch,May 21, 2009. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

92 Jack Kim and James Pearson, “Insight: Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s Master Builder,”Reuters, November 23, 2014. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

93 Rüdiger Frank, “Exhausting Its Reserves? Sources of Finance for North Korea’s ‘Improvement of People’s Living’,”38 North, Washington, D.C.: U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University,December 12, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

94 Ibid.

95 Ibid.

96 Leonid A. Petrov, “Rare Earth Metals: Pyongyang’s New Trump Card,”The Montreal Review, August 2010. Retrieved April 10, 2014.

97 Choi Kyung-soo, “The Mining Industry in North Korea”,NAPSNet Special Reports, August 4, 2011. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

98 Korea Resources Cooperation, Current Development Situation of Mineral Resources in North Korea (2009), xii. As cited in Choi, supra note 97.

99 “‘N.K. mineral resources may be worth $9.7tr’,”The Korea Herald, August 26, 2012. Retrieved on April 10, 2014; “N. Korea possess 6,986 tln won worth of mineral resources: report”,Global Post, September 19, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

100 Frik Els, “Largest known rare earth deposit discovered in North Korea”,Mining.com, December 5, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

101 Choi, supra note 97

102 Ibid.

103 See Georgy Toloroya, “A Eurasian Bridge Across North Korea?,”38 North., Washington, D.C.: U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, November 22, 2013.Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

104 “Putin lobbies for ‘Iron Silk Road’ via N. Korea, hopes political problems solved shortly,” Russia Today, November 13, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

105 “China, DPRK meet on developing economic zones in DPRK,”Xinhua,August 14, 2012. Available here. As cited in The National Committee on North Korea,Special Economic Zones in the DPRK, January 14, 2014. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

106 The zones are the North Pyongan Provincial Amnokgang Economic Development Zone; the Jagang Provincial Manpho Economic Development Zone; the Jagang Provincial Wiwon Industrial Development Zone; the North Hwanghae Provincial Sinphyong Tourist Development Zone; the North Hwanghae Provincial Songrim Export Processing Zone; the Kangwon Provincial Hyondong Industrial Development Zone; the South Hamgyong Provincial Hungnam Industrial Development Zone; the South Hamgyong Provincial Pukchong Agricultural Development Zone; the North Hamgyong Provincial Chongjin Economic Development Zone; the North Hamgyong Provincial Orang Agricultural Development Zone; the North Hamgyong Provincial Onsong Island Tourist Development Zone; the Ryanggang Provincial Hyesan Economic Development Zone; and the Nampho City Waudo Export Processing Zone.See“Provincial Economic Development Zones to Be Set Up in DPRK,”KCNA, November 21, 2013. Available here. As cited in NCNK,supranote 105

107 State Economic Development Committee Promotional Video, as cited by Bradley O. Babson, “North Korea’s Push for Special Enterprise Zones: Fantasy or Opportunity?,” 38 North, Washington, D.C.: U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, December 12, 2013.Retrieved April 10, 2014.

108 SeeNCNK,supranote 105

109 See “DPRK Law on Economic Development Zones Enacted,” KCNA, June 5, 2013. Retrieved on April 10, 2014. As cited in NCNK,supranote 105

110 Yonho Kim, “A Closer Look at the ‘Explosion of Cell Phone Subscribers’ in North Korea,” 38 North, Washington, D.C.: U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, Retrieved on April 10, 2014.

Drones: Obama’s Invisible War

May 5th, 2014 by Dr. Ismail Salami

In the midst of a crisis which has in recent weeks created a political chasm between Russia and the United States, there is an ongoing carnage in the name of combating terrorism against Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia.

The story of the CIA-led killer drones which are killing women and children on a daily basis is a tale accorded inexcusably scant attention in media. Indeed it is being ignored.

Just recently, the US director of national intelligence James Clapper ordered US senators to remove a provision from a major intelligence bill that would require the president to publicize information about drone strikes and their victims.

The bill originally required the president to release a yearly report clarifying the total number of “combatants” and “noncombatant civilians” killed or injured by drone strikes in the previous year.

Reports clearly indicate the number of drone attacks on Muslim countries has increased tremendously since Barack Obama took office in 2009. Quite ironically, the man who was initially compared to Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize nine months later.

I for one always presumed that George W. Bush was a political retard who thought he was burdened with a messianic mission and that he felt he had to save the world. Quite naturally, the election of a colored president in the US engendered some false hope that there might appear tangible political upheavals in the country in its approach towards the world in general and toward the Muslim world in particular.

To the dismay of many, this dream was however shattered altogether to be ensued by an era of apocalyptic darkness and escalating mass murders in the international arena.  

According to the New America Foundation, a Washington-based public-policy institute, Obama authorized 193 drone strikes in Pakistan alone from 2009 to 2011, that is, over four times the number of attacks that President George W. Bush authorized during his two terms.

To date, the liar-in-chief has only acknowledged that the United States has killed four Americans in drone strikes. According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Obama has launched over 390 covert drone strikes in his first five years in office and thousands of civilians have been killed in the strikes.

The drone warfare is indeed a war in disguise, a form of war meant to lull American public who are manifestly fed up with their government’s military interventions on the one hand and to vindicate their gory policies through a mechanism of invisibility on the other.

Contrary to their claims that the drones are only used to wipe out the al-Qaida elements in different parts of the Muslim world, their strikes have however proven to kill civilians. Women and children are unfortunately among the routine victims of their ‘targeted’ assassinations.

 For the US government, war has taken a new shape, ranging from cyberwar to drone strikes, from assassinations to other forms of covert operations.

It is agonizingly sad to see that certain governments including Pakistan and Yemen have been even collaborating with the CIA, providing them with the space for their inhumane intrusion.

A known victim of the assassination drones attacks is Pakistan which had long declined to admit that it had been aware of the attacks and that it had even helped the US government. In 2011, ex-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that his government clandestinely signed off on US drone attacks. It was actually part of a deal by Washington to help retain the Pakistani strongman in power.

A cable sent in August 2008 and later posted online by Wikileaks, then-US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson mentioned a discussion about drones during a meeting that also involved Malik and then-Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

“Malik suggested we hold off alleged Predator attacks until after the Bajaur operation,” Patterson wrote. “The PM brushed aside Rehman’s remarks and said, ‘I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.’ ”

Yemen’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has also confessed that he “personally approves every US drone strike in his country and described the remotely piloted aircraft as a technical marvel that has helped reverse al-Qaeda’s gains.”

Further to that, there are third-party governments which are aiding and abetting Washington in carrying out its massacre of the civilians in Africa by allowing them to use their military sites in the country. According to a report by the German Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, the Stuttgart-based supreme command of the United States Africa Command (US Africom) and the Air Operations Center (AOC) at the US air force base in Ramstein, in the state of Rhineland Palatinate, are directly involved in the drone attacks.

 With a morbid mind, former US president George W. Bush, who was incapable of truth, commenced a series of invasions and military expeditions in the Muslim countries, caused inconceivable human losses and left a legacy of horror and bloodshed which came to be followed by his successor Barrack Obama. Then in order to keep up appearances and beguile the American public, Obama who was essentially expected to behave differently took the wars from the battlefields to the towns and exacted an irretrievable toll on the civilians under the banner of fighting terrorism. 

By all standards, Obama is a brazen criminal and those who collude with him in perpetrating these acts of atrocity are no better. All of them are indeed under the watchful eyes of God and they shall meet their dismal reckoning.

As Noam Chomsky once said, “Wanton killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, not a war against terrorism.”

China to help Russia build transport corridor to Crimea

May 5th, 2014 by Global Research News

Chinese companies will soon take part in the construction of a transport corridor to the Crimea through the Kerch Strait.

According to Kommersant newspaper, state-owned China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) may take part in the project, the cost of which reaches $3 billion. Private investment fund China International Fund Ltd (CIF) may participate in the project as well. The latter may participate in the funding. Currently, the Russian Transport Ministry is preparing to sign a memorandum on construction.

Preliminary documentation for the construction should be elaborated by May 30; the financial scheme and construction model will be developed in July. The project may involve major Russian companies: almost all leading players engaged in infrastructure construction confirmed their interest in the project.

American Government Backed Ukrainian Nazis … Same Group Supported By the Leader of the Protests which Toppled the Ukrainian Government In February

Oliver Stone’s documentary Untold History notes:

Truman approved the creation of a guerrilla army code-named “Nightingale” in Ukraine. Originally setup by the Nazis in 1941, it was made up of ultra-nationalists. They would, as Stone describes, wreak havoc on the “famine-wrecked region where Soviet control was loose, carrying out the murder of thousands of Jews, Soviets and Pols, who opposed a separate Ukrainian state.” The CIA would parachute “infiltrators” into the country as well to further “dislodge Soviet control.”

Sounds nuts, right?

But American historian and former Under Secretary of the Air Force  Townsend Hoopes and Rice University history professor Douglas Brinkely confirm:

One group that particularly attracted CIA attention and support was the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), a political-military underground movement that had long fought for Ukrainian independence—first against the Poles in the 1920s when Poland controlled the Ukraine and after 1939 against the Soviets. ‘Though violently anti-Russian, the OUN was itself totalitarian and Fascist in character. as well as anti-Semitic. The Nazis poured money into the OUN after the German invasion of Russia and pretended to support the goal of Ukrainian national independence. In return, a large OUN militia, code-named Nachtigall, or Nightingale, provided local administrators, informers, and killers for the German invaders. Nazi-sponsored OUN police and militia formations were involved in “thousands of instances of mass murders of Jews and of families suspected of aiding Red Army partisans.”

***

When the Germans were driven out of the Ukraine, many OUN members who had served the Nazis’ police formations and execution squads fled with them, but several thousand retreated into the Carpathian Mountains to fight another day against the hated Soviet government. It was this remaining Nightingale group that fascinated the CIA and was recruited essentially en bloc. To bring its leaders to the United States for training and indoctrination required special bureaucratic exertions, as well as an immigration law permitting the admission of one hundred such immigrants per year, provided the Director of the CIA, the Attorney General, and the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service all personally stated that the action was vital to national security.” As one army intelligence officer noted sardonically, one wing of the CIA was hunting Ukrainian Nazis to bring them to trial at Nuremberg, while another wing was recruiting them.

***

After training in the United States, the Nightingale leaders were parachuted into the Ukraine to link up with their compatriots and to carry out measures of subversion, agitation, and sabotage, including assassination.

***

[United States Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal] vigorously supported the program and presumably participated in the approval of the basic NSC charters as a member of the National Security Council.

The leader of the Nightingale group was Stepan Bandera.

The leader of the “protests” in February 2014 which ousted the president of Ukraine is a neo Nazi and follower of Stepan Bandera.

In other words, 70 years ago, the U.S. supported the types of fascists who are now in control of Ukraine.

Postscript: Another little known historical fact is that – in 1997 – a former U.S. national security advisor and high-level Obama policy advisor called for the U.S. to take Ukraine away from Russia.

And almost a month before the Ukrainian president was ousted in February, a high-level State Department official – Assistant US Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Victoria Nuland, wife of arch Neocon Robert Kagan – announced plans to promote a “new government” in Ukraine.

As the fog of war descends, it is important to shout a few main points from the rooftops before they get lost in the details. A coup-appointed junta in Kiev, designed, engineered and controlled from Washington, has begun a massive armed assault on its citizens in the east. This supreme and original war crime, reinforced by the Nuremburg Tribunal, is no longer in doubt.

Nor can there be any more doubt about who is pulling the strings. The illegitimate junta have pulled out all the stops, as their IMF masters demanded they do just the other day. Pointedly–and tellingly–the mafia enforcer organization of western capital issued a statement saying that the crushing austerity agreement–already a death sentence in its own right–might have to be ‘revised’ if the chosen cabal could not control the rebellious and resource rich eastern regions, the grand prize in the whole ‘democracy’ charade.

The junta, using a rump military and their fascist shock troops, has dutifully complied–a shameful and disgusting moment in world history. It is also, however, a moment that I think will be transformative in ways we can’t even yet understand.

i9CStOfi6gcFor a moment, I was afraid that in a fully militarized phase the resistance would be less able to access its chief asset–the people. When war breaks out, soldiers are not forced to confront the humanity of their opponents, and we would no longer see scenes like cordons of ordinary people trying to stop tanks with their bare hands. (However such acts of self-sacrifice are still the case in Eastern Ukraine – watch e.g. this video from Slavyansk dated May 2 where unarmed people tried to stop armoured vehicles of the Ukrainian army – OR).

And a giant middle finger to the “peace” community, the apologists of the war machine, and especially liberals and elements of the first world left who are always the last to see that their purist intellectual detachment is always–*always*–suspiciously close to empire’s agenda, who watch (and cheerlead!) while the US and its proxies slaughter innocents and thwart the will of the people from Afghanistan to Zaporozhye.

The League of Nations (let’s call a spade a spade) is dead. They have exposed themselves as an eager and unabashed tool of western supremacy and apologist for the crimes of empire. They will be discarded along with the other detritus of the old world. UNjust, UNequal, and UNwilling to break the yoke of the western paradigm, I think the organization is much worse than useless. (While lacking effective mechanisms to implement urgent measures in Ukraine due to the irresponsible politically motivated stance of the US and Washington-dominated SC, the UN is still the only international forum providing a platform for the reasonable Russian voice to be heard internationally. We can’t afford just ignore and dismiss this framework. – OR)

I actually think this is the death knell for the UN, along with the IMF/EU/NATO and all the other western organizations who act in concert to try to force billions of people to believe that 2 + 2 = 5. They are the problem, and they have no solutions. As it should be–for as Eduardo Galeano gently reminded us,

“it would be strange if the remedy should come from the United States, the same place which brings us the disease.”

Citizens of Odessa burnt alive at the Trade Unionist hall set on fire by Ukrainian ultra-Nazis on May 2, 2014.Citizens of Odessa burnt alive at the Trade Unionist hall set on fire by Ukrainian ultra-Nazis on May 2, 2014.

Amid the fascist terror campaign now being unleashed by the Kiev junta at the insistence of the west, it is simply astounding that blinding russophobia (bigotry) still lets some people find time to bash Putin while the clear headed among us have our hands full fighting the beast. If you engaged in all that silly and smug smirking over Sochi, you should reflect on your role in this. Fomenting hatred against and demonizing Russia has been a key element of the sleight-of-hand strategy of the empire, softening up colonized minds for a major confrontation with Russia and distracting focus from the true goals and dangers of western adventurism in Ukraine.

It’s an old trick, folks. There is blood on our hands. The Nazi thugs who set fire to the building in Odessa and then blocked the doors to make sure they burned alive were being paid a daily stipend, quite possibly from the $50 million Joe Biden promised a few days prior to shore up Ukraine security forces.

Amid the lies and distortions of a bought-and-sold press and a government propaganda machine, we can still cut through the bullshit and see the hustlers for what they are: pitchmen of a war machine hell bent on selling us more death and destruction. We all have it within us to refuse the pitch. Each of us has the ability to grasp a Michael Corleone moment, in that scene from The Godfather in Havana in 1959, when he knew instinctively that he was right and Hyman Roth was wrong. He was no fan of the revolution, but he saw that it was a bad investment when Castro’s revolutionaries would rather kill themselves than be captured.

The current crisis presents many such opportunities, not the least of which are those stories and images of people stopping tanks with their own bodies. One moment of particular clarity for me came in an absolutely stunning interview by Graham Phillips of a man on the street in Kramatorsk, who condensed what it’s all about in two and a half minutes for the people of East Ukraine. Eloquent, impassioned and clear, it still brings a lump to my throat.

“Furthermore, the Banderites who have now come here and want to impose their ideology on us have given us a precious gift because they have awakened for us in East Ukraine our patriotism, which had been dormant for many years.

“This happened because people had forgotten more or less who they used to be, who they had become. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to a kind of depression. People saw this event, the collapse of the Soviet Union, as a kind of natural disaster. The Soviet Union fell apart, and the rain came. People didn’t understand what had happened–they were demoralized, they used to believe in their leaders.

“Now people understand that it is not necessary to believe in leaders. We don’t need to believe in any Yanukovich, we don’t need to believe in a Party of Regions. We need to organize ourselves *by* ourselves–and to remember our own history, remember our own culture. That is our foundation.

“So thank you to all the Banderites who have come into Kiev, and who have made people remember who they are, who they are in the world, and above all *why* they are here on this earth.”

Filter this in among the ludicrous and increasingly obvious slanders about “pro Russian separatists,” “pro Russian Russians” and other ill fitting and deliberately vilifying terms to synch up with the ginned-up Russophobia now polluting virtually all western airwaves. One might consider the similarly bizarre yet more honest term “pro self selves,” or “pro self humans.” Or simply, “People who object to being killed.”

As the helicopters and missiles start flying, you can feel the desperation of a people under attack, as in this more pointed Farewell letter from East Ukraine (source in Russian), from those whose grandparents fought and died to defeat fascism:

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“Each Banderite scum, each rat of the National Guard and other gangs must know this: you came to our land with weapons! You’ve come to kill us in our land! So don’t expect any mercy from us! You will find only grim death! Because you have not yet tasted Slavic-Russian anger! But it will overwhelm you in a severe, violent flame! Do you think we are afraid? We, Russians in the South-East afraid? You are very, very deeply mistaken. And not many of you will be able to understand, as few of you will get to return from the South-East.

“So ask your parents, wives, sisters, from the heart to prepare coffins for their husbands, sons and brothers. Or at least a place in the cemetery, as most of the bodies may be hard to find.

“We have nowhere to retreat and we are Russians, though for a while yet with Ukrainian passports. We are Russians, who never give up! We will defend ourselves to the last bullet, the last grenade, to our last breath! And if we die, we die for the glory of the Russian land! We will never be under the Banderite fascist scum!

Brothers, Slavs, Russians, if we perish, avenge us. Death to fascism!” Date: May 1, 2014

Even more astonishing, beyond geography and cultural ties, an experiment in Western Ukraine is quite eye opening. Ukranian TV in the central western town of Zhytomir sent Maidan activists posing as armed south-eastern rebels to the town center asking for directions. They were apparently quite surprised that local residents willingly helped them – even giving details on how to avoid police checkpoints. Then they stood for a time–armed–by the local police station, and no one paid them any attention. In other words, the mask is off, and the junta is done.

Massive, suppressive violence is the only way for the western puppet junta to maintain power. They will kill a good number of people, but their deaths will be avenged, and the world will be transformed. It is an amazing moment.

A new world is arising right before our eyes, and those who still don’t see it will be consigned to the dustbin of history. Are you ready? Do you hear the people sing? The heroic people of Southeast Ukraine are taking a stand for us all, on behalf of the peoples of the world and against the sick and sorry world the Washington consensus wants to sell us. It is developing and unfolding now, and we can’t quite predict its course. We do, however, have the power to choose whether we want to be on the right side of history.

Daniel Patrick Welch is the American writer, singer, linguist and activist living and writing in Salem, Massachusetts.

To ensure the Internet is open to all on an equal basis we must act now to  prevent mega-corporations from destroying Internet Freedom

Update: Actions every day starting on Wednesday, May 7th, at noon and 5 pm. To Save The Internet, we are building a People’s Firewall against the FCC’s proposed rule that will create a ‘pay to play’ Internet by ending net neutrality. The FCC is located at 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554.

If we act NOW, we can ensure a free, open and equal Internet for the 21st Century. On Wednesday, May 15 the FCC will vote on a proposal to end net neutrality and impose class-based Internet discrimination, but we have the power to stop them.

 To ensure the Internet we want, we must take action today; and people need to plan to come to Washington, DC beginning next Wednesday to join in a series of escalating protests that will undermine the legitimacy of the FCC leadership and force them to pay attention to the public interest rather than the interests of mega-corporations.

Already more than a million people have written the FCC in favor of net neutrality and the Commissioners are receiving more than 100 calls per day from citizens. They know the public wants a free, open and equal Internet. Now we have to show them we will revolt if it is taken away from us.

The proposal by Obama appointee, Tom Wheeler , a long-time industry lobbyist and Internet profiteer, will put in place a pay-to-play Internet where the wealthiest will have superior service to the rest of us, where big corporations will have faster websites than independent sites and where free speech is stifled by money. The Internet has become the great democratizer of media where independent and social media have flourished and allowed people to create an alternative to the concentrated corporate media. We will not let Wheeler undermine media democratization and turn most of us into second-class Internet citizens.

This is an issue that affects all of us – Internet news sites like this one and other independent media, advocacy websites, community radio, social media, blogging sites and you, who are reading this article on the Internet.  Democratized communication depends on the Internet being free and open to all on an equal basis.  Wheeler’s proposal will undermine open communication and free speech on the Internet.

The primary driving force for Wheeler’s proposal is profit for a small group of massive monopoly corporations. Corporations like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T see the Internet as a money machine as do Google, Netflix and YouTube, among others. They already make huge profits, profits so large that they can buy domination of government. We need to act NOW to put the public interest first and prevent the plutocrats from invading our Internet commons where we have been free to communicate and create.

The FCC is being Driven off Track

When President Obama ran for office, his position was the opposite of what is now being proposed by the FCC Chairman. In April 2008 during his presidential campaign, Barack Obama took the side of the people saying:

“The most important thing we can probably do is to preserve the diversity that’s emerging through the Internet…something called net neutrality. I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality.”

The New Yorker, in “Good-Bye Net Neutrality, Hello Discrimination,” points out how at a 2008 Iowa forum Obama explained:

“What you’ve been seeing is some lobbying that says that the servers and the various portals through which you’re getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different Web sites … And that I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet—which is that there is this incredible equality there.”

Obama was right when he campaigned, but he has made the FCC into an illegitimate plutocratic agency that is doing the opposite of what he promised. In essence, he campaigned telling the people what they wanted to hear, but as the President, he has governed for the mega-corporations.

Every current member of the FCC was appointed by Obama and confirmed by the Democratic Party controlled senate.  This is Obama’s FCC.

When President Obama appointed Thomas Wheeler as the Chair of the FCC, it was a signal that his administration was taking the free and open Internet into a tiered Internet that favors the wealthy.  Many in the Internet freedom community expressed deep concerns about the appointment but were ignored by the Democratic-controlled Senate that confirmed Wheeler.

Wheeler represented the telecom industry in Washington, DC for decades in between stints where he was an investor who profited from the industry.  From 1979 to 1984, Wheeler headed the National Cable Television Association, now the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.  He worked in the telecom industry for 8 years where he became a millionaire, followed by taking over as head of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association in 1992 until 2005.

Wheeler went on to become a major Obama fundraiser and bundler in 2008 and 2012.  His biography page on the FCC says: “He is the only person to be selected to both the Cable Television Hall of Fame and The Wireless Hall of Fame, a fact, as President Obama joked, that made him ‘The Bo Jackson of Telecom.’” Appointing Wheeler was akin to putting the industry in charge of the future of the Internet. His recent proposal is exactly what the industry wants; and exactly what the people oppose.

The problems at the FCC run deeper than Wheeler; the agency is littered with industry lawyers, executives and lobbyists who have gone through the “pernicious corruption of the revolving door” as  Lee Fang describes in VICE. Fang writes:

“The FCC is stocked with staffers who have recently worked for Internet Service Providers (ISP) that stand to benefit tremendously from the defeat of net neutrality.”

Fang describes people who worked for Comcast, TDS Telecom, Verizon, AT&T, industry groups like the Wireless Association (CTIA), the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the U.S. Telecom Association have been recently hired at the FCC.  The executives, lawyers and lobbyists from these Internet corporations and associations have worked against net neutrality for years and now inside the Obama-FCC.  The fox is definitely guarding the hen house. The people need to expose these foxes and delegitimize any action they take.

President Obama and the Democratic Party-controlled Senate which confirmed Wheeler and all the FCC Commissioners are to blame for the direction of the FCC.  Polls show Obama’s popularity sinking and increased likelihood of the Democrats losing the Senate. If Wheeler’s proposal becomes law, it will be the death knell for Democratic hopes of keeping their Senate majority and also result in big losses in the House of Representatives.  Obama’s legacy will include being the President who destroyed the free, open and equal Internet. Unless the Democrats join with the people and act now to stop the FCC, people will stay home or vote against them in the Fall. Obama could call Wheeler today and change the direction the FCC is going.

What Should Be Done?

John Nichols writes in the Nation:

“A free and open Internet is essential to modern democracy. But that freedom and openness will be maintained only if Americans use their great democratic voice to demand it.”

It is up to us to prevent the further corporatization of the Internet and to keep it free, equal and open to all. It will take more than our voices, it will taking our bodies stopping the machine of corporatocracy. What are our demands?

1.       Reject the proposal. This is the Obama FCC. Obama appointed three Democrats and two Republicans to the Commission, as required by law. The political apparatus of the Democratic Party needs to demand this proposal be rejected.

2.      Reclassify broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service that can be regulated in the public interest. Under President Bush the Internet was redefined as an “information service” limiting the FCC’s ability to regulate in the public interest. This decision needs to be reversed so the FCC can properly regulate the Internet. Wheeler opposes this but said in response to opposition to his proposal that reclassification is on the table.

3.      Put in place net neutrality regulations. The Commission should act consistently with President Obama’s campaign position – net neutrality. Acting opposite of what the people voted for undermines the democratic legitimacy of government on the critical issue Internet freedom.

Beyond these initial steps we need to do more to protect the Internet in the long-run.  Robert McChesney tells The Real News that the Internet is controlled by a cartel: “We basically have three enormous companies–Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T–and a few other quasi-enormous companies that have more or less divvied up the market for internet service…” The result is the United States, formerly a leader in the Internet, now provides expensive, poor service to Americans:

“By setting up this cartel, what we have in America today is Americans pay much more to get cell phone service, much more to get wireline broadband than people do in most other countries, and we get a much lower service. It’s one of the cruel ironies that here we are in the United States, the country that invented the Internet, the country that in 1999 or 2000 was light years ahead of most places in the world. We were at the top of the list in the quality of Internet service and the percent of the population that was online. And we’ve fallen now, so that depending on the ranking, we rank between 15 and 30, sometimes 35 or 40, on rankings from what you pay, the speed, the quality of the service. And it’s not an accident. This is what happened when very powerful corporations own the government, when they basically have the regulators in their pocket.”

This cartel needs to be broken up; a handful of mega-corporations should not control the communications of hundreds of millions of people. The New York Times editorial board wrote recently that these monoply-corporations exist in large part because of public support, “the viability of those networks are based on decades of public investments in the Internet, the companies’ use of public rights of way and, in the case of some companies, a long government-sanctioned monopoly over telephone service.” They need to be required to act in the public interest first.

By reclassifying the Internet as a telecommunications service, the FCC will be able to regulate it in the public interest.  We would like to take it farther and make the Internet a public service by law. Taxpayers developed the technology that has become central to communication in 2014.  By allowing corporate domination of this public utility, we are giving them power to minimize our Freedom of Speech in the Internet age.

Chris Ziegler writing for the Verge hones in on this:

“The government is too afraid to say it, but the internet is a utility. The data that flows to your home is just like water and electricity: it’s not a luxury or an option in 2014. The FCC’s original Open Internet rules failed precisely because it was too timid to say that out loud and instead erected rules on a sketchy legal sinkhole that was destined to fail.”

In fact there are community broadband networks already that treat the Internet as a public utility rather than a private profit center. This approach puts the public interest first and recognizes the Internet as a public good.

MuniNetworks has a map showing progress being made toward the Internet as a public utility that includes nearly 400 communities:

-         89 communities with a publicly owned FTTH network reaching most or all of the community.

-         74 communities with a publicly owned cable network reaching most or all of the community.

-         Over 180 communities with some publicly owned fiber service available to parts of the community.

-         Over 40 communities in 13 states with a publicly owned network offering at least 1 Gigabit services

There is a growing movement to municipalize ownership over the things that are public goods such as energy, water and the Internet. This needs to be made into national Internet policy.

Now Is the Time                            

 Josh Levy a campaign director at Free Press writes that this is the time to launch the biggest campaign the FCC has ever seen. He describes how the Internet has become central to our lives:

“. . . the Internet is an amazing thing. It’s a crucial driver of free speech, innovation, education, economic growth, creativity and so much more. We wake up with it in the morning. We’re on it all day long. And it’s the last place we go before we finally say good night.”

Now that we know the FCC Chair is doing the work of his Internet industry colleagues, the people have to step up and become a firewall against the virus Wheeler wants to release that will threaten to infect the Internet with corporatism and the wealth-based discrimination that it creates.

People are activated, sending hundreds of thousands of emails and petitions and making thousands of phone calls to the FCC.  We’ve begun to see elected officials criticizing Wheeler’s proposal. The media, like The New York Times, is opposing the proposal. The Times wrote: “The Internet has been a boon to the economy and to free speech because it is not divided into tiers and is open to everybody in the same way.”

We have to keep building the opposition to an escalating crescendo for the Commission’s May 15 vote.  This is a defining moment for communication and Freedom of Speech in the 21st Century. It is up to each of us – reading this on the Internet right now – to get involved.  As long-time Internet freedom advocate Harold Feld wrote:

“There’s a lesson here. YOU CAN’T OUTSOURCE CITIZENSHIP. You can’t let ‘the tech companies’ or even ‘the consumer advocates’ or anyone speak for you. Citizenship carries responsibilities that go beyond the ritual of voting every two years. But when citizens wake up and speak up, and speak to each other, they find — to their surprise — they are strong. They find they have power.’”

 We have the power to create the Internet we want for the 21st Century. Let’s embrace our power. This is our opportunity.

 If you want to get involved in escalating actions in Washington, DC beginning Wednesday, May 7th contact us at [email protected].

This article is produced by Popular Resistance in conjunction with AlterNet.  It is a weekly review of the activities of the resistance movement. Sign up for the daily news digest of Popular Resistance, here.

Kevin Zeese, JD and Margaret Flowers, MD are organizers of PopularResistance.org; they co-direct It’s Our Economy and co-host Clearing the FOG. Their twitters are @KBZeese and MFlowers8. 

Two days ago a mob, supported by the fascists Right Sektor, killed over 30 federalist Ukrainians in Odessa by pushing them from their camp into a building and then setting fire to it. Those who escaped the massacre, not the perpetrators, were rounded up by police. Today pro-federalism people besieged the police headquarter in Odessa until the police released those it had earlier arrested.

 In the east some military and National Guard units under government control were in sporadic fights with federalists but right now the government forces seem to be again in retreat. There were attacks on private bank outlets in the east because the owner of the bank, a well known oligarch, is suspected of financing the fascist Right Sektor paramilitaries.

The U.S. plan for Ukraine seems to be to bait Russia into an occupation. This would destroy EU-Russia relations, embolden NATO and help the U.S. to keep the EU as a secondary partner under its control. There would be lots of economic upsides for the U.S. in such a situation. Selling more arms and increasing energy market shares are only the starters.

There are two reasons to believe that this plan will fail:

First: Russia will not take the bait. The people requesting more local autonomy in Ukraine are perfectly able to take a stand on their own. Should a few die, like in Odessa, even more will rise up. Except for the Right Sektor people now included in the National Guard there are no loyal troops for the Kiev coup government to use against the people. The huge mistake the coup government made, repeating a U.S. mistake made in Iraq, was to dissolve the federal riot police Berkut. Those now unemployed trained fighters, together with experienced former Soviet soldiers, are the military backbone of the federalists. There is therefore no need for Russia to openly intervene. The Kiev coup government is already a dying entity.

Second: Many people in Europe have recognized the nefarious U.S. scheme and are protesting against their politicians’ slavishness in following the U.S. lead. The political pressure against Russia bashing is building. Every pro-NATO/anti-Russian report in the media, and there are lots of them, gets trashed in the comment sections. Some of the European elite are openly turning against the U.S. induced anti-Russia propaganda. Even the most staunch transatlantic tabloid in Germany, Bild, today reports (original here) that the CIA and FBI with dozens of agents are running the show in Kiev. The report is based on “German security sources” which lets me believe that the German government is looking for ways to counter Washington’s moves. The German Foreign Minister Steinmeier just called (in German) for a second Geneva conference to solve the situation.

Without Russian intervention and without German support the U.S. campaign against Russia is unlikely to reach its secondary target of isolating Russia. The primary target, Sevastopol harbor in Crimea, was already lost when Russia reunified with the island.

What is left to do then for Washington is to create more chaos in Ukraine and to hope that somehow out of total chaos some new chance may arise to stick it to Russia. For lack of real direction that strategy is also unlikely to succeed.

Copyright Moon of Alabama 2014

Venezuela y el derecho a manifestarse

May 4th, 2014 by Salim Lamrani

Los medios informativos occidentales presentan la decisión del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia de someter el derecho a manifestarse a la obtención de una autorización previa como un atentado contra las libertades individuales. Ahora bien, este principio está vigente en la mayoría de las democracias occidentales.

Solicitado por uno de los cinco municipios de Caracas, el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia se pronunció el 24 de abril de 2014 sobre el derecho a manifestarse. Según la más alta entidad judicial del país, “los ciudadanos y ciudadanas tienen derecho a manifestarse pacíficamente y sin armas, sin otros requisitos que los que establezca la ley […]. Resulta obligatorio para las organizaciones políticas así como para todos los ciudadanos, agotar el procedimiento administrativo de autorización ante la primera autoridad civil de la jurisdicción correspondiente, para poder ejercer cabalmente su derecho constitucional a la manifestación pacífica”. 1

En efecto, el país se encuentra golpeado por más dos meses de violencias orquestadas por la oposición. El balance es grave: 41 personas perdieron la vida, entre ellas 5 miembros de la Guardia Nacional y un Fiscal de la República, 700 personas resultaron heridas y los daños materiales superan los 10.000 millones de dólares. 2

Los medios informativos occidentales se han hecho portavoces de la derecha venezolana y han denunciado una decisión liberticida. Así, según Associated Press, que cita a la oposición, Venezuela se encuentra ahora “en un estado de excepción permanente y [los ciudadanos sólo podrán] ejercer el derecho a la manifestación cuando lo permita el Estado”. Según la agencia estadounidense, la decisión del Tribunal “destruye los derechos humanos” 3  y constituye “el último intento del gobierno de amordazar a la disidencia”. 4 Para el diario español El País, “el Supremo venezolano limita el derecho a la protesta” y atenta contra los “los derechos ciudadanos y las libertades democráticas”. 5 Para Agence France Presse, “este fallo es contrario a los principios democráticos”. 6 En cuanto al diario Le Monde, esta decisión tiene como objetivo “limitar el derecho a manifestarse”. 7

No obstante, la prensa occidental se olvida de recordar que en la mayoría de los países democráticos, conseguir una autorización de las autoridades para cualquier manifestación es la norma general. Así, en Francia, ninguna manifestación puede tener lugar sin la autorización clara de la prefectura de policía. Por ejemplo, la Prefectura de Policía de París exige que la petición de autorización se haga “al menos un mes antes de la fecha de la manifestación”. 8 Además, “este plazo será de tres meses como mínimo si el evento proyectado agrupará a mucha gente”.

Por otra parte, “cada petición debe comportar toda la información útil sobre el organizador (persona física o moral) y sobre la manifestación (naturaleza, fecha, lugar, horario, número de participantes…)”. Los organizadores tienen la obligación de “suscribir una póliza de seguros que garantice en el plano de la responsabilidad civil todos los riesgos relativos a la manifestación proyectada (participantes, público y obras públicas). La póliza de seguros debe comportar la garantía máxima […] calculada en función del evento asegurado, respecto a los siguientes riesgos: daños corporales, materiales e inmateriales”.

En Francia, los organizadores de manifestaciones son penalmente responsables de todos los daños que pueda causar el evento. La Prefectura de Policía insiste en este punto: “El organizador debe asumir la tarea de la seguridad general en el sitio dedicado a la manifestación. En caso de daños por imprudencia o negligencia, la responsabilidad civil, incluso penal, del organizador puede evocarse sobre la base de los artículos 1382 y siguientes del Código Civil y de los artículos121-1, 121-2, 223-1 y 223-2 del Código Penal”. 9

Así, la Prefectura de Policía de París rechaza decenas de peticiones todas las semanas. Recuerda las principales razones: “no respetar el plazo para hacer la petición; marcha susceptible de causar problemas de seguridad, de orden público o de tránsito; rechazo del organizador a aceptar las obligaciones o prescripciones que presenta la Prefectura de Policía; opinión desfavorable de la alcaldía de París o de un servicio consultado; incompatibilidad entre la marcha prevista y el lugar escogido; organizador que no respetó sus obligaciones en una petición anterior o que ignoró las prescripciones de la Prefectura de París, etc.”. 10

Lejos de ser liberticida, la decisión del tribunal Supremo de Justicia se asemeja a lo que existe en la mayoría de las democracias occidentales. Así, vistos los últimos acontecimientos violentos ocurridos durante las protestas, la oposición venezolana no tendría absolutamente ninguna posibilidad de conseguir una autorización para manifestarse en la Patria de los Derechos Humanos que es Francia.

Salim Lamrani

Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de La Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula Cuba. Les médias face au défi de l’impartialité, Paris, Editions Estrella, 2013, con un prólogo de Eduardo Galeano.

Contacto: [email protected][email protected]
Página Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

1. Jorge Rueda, “Prohíben manifestaciones sin permisos en Venezuela”, Associated Press, 25 de abril de 2014.
2. Salim Lamrani, “Se a oposição venezuelana fosse francesa”, Opera Mundi, 11 de abril de 2014.
3. Jorge Rueda, “Prohíben manifestaciones sin permisos en Venezuela”, op. cit.
4. Jorge Rueda, “Protestan en Venezuela contra plan educativo y restricciones a manifestaciones”, Associated Press, 26 de abril de 2014.
5. Alfredo Meza, “El Supremo venezolano limita el derecho a la protesta”, El País, 25 de abril de 2014.
6. Agence France Presse, “Protestan en Venezuela contra plan educativo y restricciones a manifestaciones”, 26 de abril de 2014.
7. Le Monde, “Venezuela : l’opposition dans la rue contre une réforme de l’éducation”, 27 de abril de 2014.
8. Préfecture de Police de Paris, “Manifestation sur la voie publique ou sur tout espace ouvert au public”, Ministère de l’Intérieur. (sitio consultado el 28 de abril de 2014).
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.

Venezuela e o direito a se manifestar

May 4th, 2014 by Salim Lamrani

Os meios de comunicação ocidentais apresentam a decisão do Supremo Tribunal de Justiça da Venezuela, de submeter o direito a se manifestar à obtenção de uma autorização prévia, como um atentado contra as liberdades individuais. Esse princípio está vigente na maioria das democracias ocidentais.

Solicitado por um dos cinco municípios de Caracas, o Supremo Tribunal de Justiça se pronunciou em 24 de abril de 2014 sobre o direito a se manifestar. Segundo a mais alta entidade judicial do país, “os cidadãos e cidadãs têm direito a se manifestar pacificamente e sem armas, sem outros requisitos senão os estabelecidos na lei […]. Torna-se obrigatório para as organizações políticas, assim como para todos os cidadãos, realizar o procedimento administrativo de autorização diante da primeira autoridade civil da jurisdição correspondente, para poder exercer cabalmente seu direito constitucional à manifestação pacífica”. 1

Efe (14/04/2014)

Manifestação opositora em Caracas. Na maioria dos países, conseguir uma autorização para fazer qualquer protesto é regra geral

De fato, o país foi atingido por mais de dois meses de violência orquestrada pela oposição. O balanço é grave: 41 pessoas perderam a vida – entre elas, cinco membros da Guarda Nacional e um Procurador da República –, 700 pessoas ficaram feridas e os danos materiais superam os 10 bilhões dólares. 2
Os meios de comunicação ocidentais se tornaram porta-vozes da direita venezuelana e denunciaram uma decisão liberticida. Assim, segundo a Associated Press, que cita a oposição, a Venezuela se encontra agora “em um estado de exceção permanente e [os cidadãos apenas poderão] exercer o direito à manifestação quando o Estado permitir”. Segundo a agência norte-americana, a decisão do Tribunal “destrói os direitos humanos” 3 e se constitui “como última intenção do governo de amordaçar a dissidência”. Para o jornal espanhol El País, “o Supremo venezuelano limita o direito aos protestos” e atenta contra “os direitos cidadãos e as liberdades democráticas”. 5 Para a Agência France Presse, “essa falha é contrária aos princípios democráticos”. 6 Já para o jornal Le Monde, essa decisão tem como objetivo “limitar o direito a se manifestar”. 7

No entanto, a imprensa ocidental se esquece de que, na maioria dos países democráticos, conseguir uma autorização das autoridades para fazer qualquer manifestação é regra geral. Na França, nenhuma manifestação pode acontecer sem a autorização expressa da polícia. Por exemplo, a polícia de Paris exige que a petição de autorização seja entregue “pelo menos um mês antes da data da manifestação”.8 Além disso, “esse prazo será de, no mínimo, três meses se o evento planejado agrupar muita gente”.

Por outro lado, “cada petição deve trazer todas as informações úteis sobre o organizador (pessoa física ou moral) e sobre a manifestação (natureza, data, lugar, horário, número de participantes…)”. Os organizadores têm a obrigação de “assinar uma apólice de seguros que garanta no plano da responsabilidade civil todos os riscos relativos à manifestação planejada (participantes, público e obras públicas). A apólice de seguros deve comportar a garantia máxima […] calculada em função do evento, em relação aos seguintes riscos: danos corporais, materiais e imateriais”.

Na França, os organizadores das manifestações são penalmente responsáveis por todos os danos que o evento possa causar. A polícia insiste neste ponto: “O organizador deve assumir a tarefa da segurança central no local destinado à manifestação. Em caso de danos por imprudência ou negligência, a responsabilidade civil, e inclusive penal, do organizador pode ser evocada com base nos artigos 1382 e seguintes do Código Civil, e dos artigos 121-1, 121-2, 223-1 e 223-2 do Código Penal”. 9

Dessa forma, a polícia de Paris rechaça dezenas de petições todas as semanas. As principais razões: “não respeitar o prazo para entregar a petição; passeata suscetível a causar problemas de segurança, de ordem pública ou de trânsito; recusa do organizador em aceitar as obrigações ou prescrições apresentadas pela polícia; opinião desfavorável da prefeitura de Paris ou de algum serviço consultado; incompatibilidade entre o ato previsto e o local escolhido; organizador que não respeitou suas obrigações em uma petição anterior ou que ignorou as prescrições da prefeitura de Paris”. 10

Longe de ser liberticida, a decisão do Supremo Tribunal de Justiça se assemelha ao que já existe na maioria das democracias ocidentais. E, tendo em vista os últimos acontecimentos violentos ocorridos durante os protestos, a oposição venezuelana não teria absolutamente qualquer possibilidade de conseguir uma autorização para se manifestar na Pátria dos Direitos Humanos que é a França.

Salim Lamrani

Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos pela Universidade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor titular da Universidade de La Reunión e jornalista, especialistas nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro é intitulado “Cuba: os meios de comunicação e o desafio da imparcialidade” (Paris, Edições Estrella, 2013), com prefácio de Eduardo Galeano.

Contato: [email protected] ; [email protected]
Página no Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

1. Jorge Rueda, “Proíbem manifestações sem permissão na Venezuela”, Associated Press, 25 de abril de 2014.
2. Salim Lamrani, “Se a oposição venezuelana fosse francesa”, Opera Mundi, 11 de abril de 2014.
3. Jorge Rueda, “Proíbem manifestações sem permissão na Venezuela”, op. cit.
4. Jorge Rueda, “Na Venezuela, protesta-se contra o plano educativo e contra restrições a manifestações”, Associated Press, 26 de abril de 2014.
5. Alfredo Meza, “Supremo venezuelano limita o direito a protestar”, El País, 25 de abril de 2014.
6. Agência France Presse, “Na Venezuela, protesta-se contra o plano educativo e contra restrições a manifestações”, 26 de abril de 2014.
7. Le Monde, “Venezuela: a oposição vai às ruas contra uma reforma na educação”, 27 de abril de 2014.
8. Polícia de Paris, “Manifestação em vias públicas ou sobretudo em espaços abertos ao público”, Ministério do Interior. (site consultado el 28 de abril de 2014).
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.

Pocos son los que han leído las dos encíclicas sociales de Papa Jean XXIII, MADRE Y EDUCADORAPAZ EN LA TIERRA. En estas dos encíclicas, recuerda ciertos aciertos hechos por sus predecesores, incluyendo León XIII, Pío XIPío XII. Especialmente en la primera de ellas donde hizo este recordatorio que todavía conserva su relevancia para nuestros tiempos. Aquí están los extractos más importantes.

En el momento donde las presiones de los medios económicos de hoy requieren la reducción de las intervenciones del Estado, particularmente en los sectores sociales, las observaciones formuladas por el Papa León XIII en 1891, mantienen su pertinencia.

20. Por lo que toca al Estado, cuyo fin es proveer al bien común en el orden temporal, no puede en modo alguno permanecer al margen de las actividades económicas de los ciudadanos, sino que, por el contrario, la de intervenir a tiempo, primero, para que aquéllos contribuyan a producir la abundancia de bienes materiales, «cuyo uso es necesario para el ejercicio de la virtud» (Santo Tomás de Aquino, De regimine principum, I, 15), y, segundo, para tutelar los derechos de todos los ciudadanos, sobre todo de los más débiles, cuales son los trabajadores, las mujeres y los niños. (MM20)

Es lo mismo con la deificación de la libre competencia y la ley del mercado que alaban los economistas y empresarios como fuente primera de las libertades individuales y colectivas. El Papa Pio XI en 1931, contradijo esta declaración en su encíclica publicada con motivo del cuadragésimo aniversario de la encíclica del Papa León III.

35. No olvidó, sin embargo, Pío XI que, a lo largo de los cuarenta años transcurridos desde la publicación de la encíclica de León XIII, la realidad de la época había experimentado profundo cambio. Varios hechos lo probaba, entre ellos la libre competencia, la cual, arrastrada por su dinamismo intrínseco, había terminado por casi destruirse y por acumular enorme masa de riquezas y el consiguiente poder económico en manos de unos pocos, «los cuales, la mayoría de las veces, nos son dueños, sino sólo depositarios y administradores de bienes, que manejan al arbitrio de su voluntad» (Ibíd., p.201ss). (MM35)

36. Por tanto, como advierte con acierto el Sumo Pontífice, «la dictadura económica ha suplantado al mercado libre; al deseo de lucro ha sucedido la desenfrenada ambición del poder; la economía toda se ha hecho horriblemente dura, inexorable, cruel» (Ibíd., p.211). De aquí se seguía lógicamente que hasta las funciones públicas se pusieran al servicio de los económicamente poderosos; y de esta manera las riquezas acumuladas tiranizaban en cierto modo a todas las naciones. (MM36)

Aquí, se pone de relieve un principio con gran incidencia en cuanto a las libertades individuales o corporativas en relación con los fundamentos de la verdadera autoridad. Lo que se observa en el párrafo anterior conduce a esta afirmación del papa Pie XI:

38. (…) prohibición absoluta de que en materia económica se establezca como ley suprema el interés individual o de grupo, o la libre competencia ilimitada, o el predominio abusivo de los económicamente poderosos, o el prestigio de la nación, o el afán de dominio, u otros criterios similares. (MM38)

Hay en este último párrafo el absoluto rechazo de cualquier fuerza política y económica que se reivindicará como la autoridad suprema de las actividades e instituciones en el mundo económico. No es poco decir, especialmente en estos tiempos donde las fuerzas del imperio de los Estados Unidos persisten en su afán de dominar el mundo. Sus intereses y la seguridad nacional se colocan por encima de todos los derechos de las personas y pueblos. Sin embargo, en este extracto de la encíclica del Papa Pio XI, se ve este absoluto rechazo de cualquier Imperio.

El Papa Pio XII, por su parte, relativiza el sagrado derecho a la propiedad de los bienes. Durante un discurso radiofónico, en 1941, dijo lo siguiente sobre este derecho a la propiedad:

43. Por lo que se refiere a la primera cuestión, nuestro predecesor enseña que el derecho de todo hombre a usar de los bienes materiales para su decoroso sustento tiene que ser estimado como superior a cualquier otro derecho de contenido económico y, por consiguiente, superior también al derecho de propiedad privada. 
(MM43)

Es en referencia a estos principios que el Papa Juan XXIII, a comienzos de la década de 1960, publica su primera encíclica social, Mater et Magistra, recordando estas referencias básicas, y también refrescando la doctrina social de la Iglesia para los nuevos tiempos.
Como sus predecesores, detecta distorsiones inadmisibles en los sistemas políticos y económicos que caracterizan a las sociedades de los años cincuenta y sesenta.

69. En algunas de estas naciones, sin embargo, frente a la extrema pobreza de la mayoría, la abundancia y el lujo desenfrenado de unos pocos contrastan de manera abierta e insolente con la situación de los necesitados; en otras se grava a la actual generación con cargas excesivas para aumentar la productividad de la economía nacional, de acuerdo con ritmos acelerados que sobrepasan por entero los límites que la justicia y la equidad imponen; finalmente, en otras naciones un elevado tanto por ciento de la renta nacional se gasta en robustecer más de lo justo el prestigio nacional o se destinan presupuestos enormes a la carrera de armamentos (MM69)

74. «La economía nacional —como justamente enseña nuestro predecesor, de feliz memoria Pío XII—, de la misma manera que es fruto de la actividad de los hombres que trabajan unidos en la comunidad del Estado, así también no tiene otro fin que el de asegurar, sin interrupción, las condiciones externas que permitan a cada ciudadano desarrollar plenamente su vida individual. Donde esto se consiga de modo estable, se dirá con verdad que el pueblo es económicamente rico, porque el bienestar general y, por consiguiente, el derecho personal de todos al uso de los bienes terrenos se ajusta por completo a las normas establecidas por Dios Creador» (cf. Acta Apostolicae Sedis 33 (1941) p. 200). (MM 74)

Es una situación que requiere, por parte de la Iglesia, que dé un importante golpazo para combatir esas fallas inadmisibles y restablecer la confianza de las personas y de los pueblos. Él ve positivamente los avances de la socialización a la cual atribuye numerosos beneficios.

61Es indudable que este progreso de las realciones sociales acarrea numerosas ventajas y beneficios. En efecto, permite que se satisfagan mejor muchos derechos de la persona humana, sobre todo los llamados económico-sociales, los cuales atienden fundamentalmente a las exigencias de la vida humana: el cuidado de la salud, una instrucción básica más profunda y extensa, una formación profesional más completa, la vivienda, el trabajo, el descanso conveniente y una honesta recreación. (MM.61)

65. Para dar cima a esta tarea con mayor facilidad, se requiere, sin embargo, que los gobernantes profesen un sano concepto del bien común. Este concepto abarca todo un conjunto de condiciones sociales que permitan a los ciudadanos el desarrollo expedito y pleno de su propia perfección. Juzgamos además necesario que los organismos o cuerpos y las múltiples asociaciones privadas, que integran principalmente este incremento de las relaciones sociales, sean en realidad autónomos y tiendan a sus fines específicos con relaciones de leal colaboración mutua y de subordinación a las exigencias del bien común.

Es igualmente necesario que dichos organismos tengan la forma externa y la sustancia interna de auténticas comunidades, lo cual sólo podrá lograrse cuando sus respectivos miembros sean considerados en ellos como personas y llamados a participar activamente en las tareas comunes. (MM.65)

Con respecto a los sistemas económicos, tiene esta sentencia que no presta a ninguna ambigüedad:

83. De donde se sigue que si el funcionamiento y las estructuras económicas de un sistema productivo ponen en peligro la dignidad humana del trabajador, o debilitan su sentido de responsabilidad, o le impiden la libre expresión de su iniciativa propia, hay que afirmar que este orden económico es injusto, aun en el caso de que, por hipótesis, la riqueza producida en él alcance un alto nivel y se distribuya según criterios de justicia y equidad. (MM.83)
Eso es todo el lugar que ocupan la persona humana y la importancia que se debe dar al sentido de la responsabilidad y de la iniciativa personal.

En su encíclica Pacem in Terris (Paz en la tierra), el Papa Juan XIII da un paso más especificando en que una autoridad civil deba restringirse moralmente y cuando dejar lugar a la objeción de conciencia.

51. El derecho de mandar constituye una exigencia del orden espiritual y dimana de Dios. Por ello, si los gobernantes promulgan una ley o dictan una disposición cualquiera contraria a ese orden espiritual y, por consiguiente, opuesta a la voluntad de Dios, en tal caso ni la ley promulgada ni la disposición dictada pueden obligar en conciencia al ciudadano, ya que es necesario obedecer a Dios antes que a los hombres[34]); más aún, en semejante situación, la propia autoridad se desmorona por completo y se origina una iniquidad espantosa. Así lo enseña Santo Tomás: En cuanto a lo segundo, la ley humana tiene razón de ley sólo en cuanto se ajusta a la recta razón. Y así considerada, es manifiesto que procede de la ley eterna. Pero, en cuanto se aparta de la recta razón, es una ley injusta, y así no tiene carácter de ley, sino más bien de violencia (PT.51)

Muchos dictadores y gobiernos serviles de los intereses del Imperio y de las oligarquías nacionales se encuentran en esta categoría. Las constituciones que les sirven de ley han sido desarrolladas y escritas por ellos mismos para satisfacer ante todo a sus intereses individuales y a grupos dominantes.

78. Sin embargo, no puede aceptarse la doctrina de quienes afirman que la voluntad de cada individuo o de ciertos grupos es la fuente primaria y única de donde brotan los derechos y deberes del ciudadano, proviene la fuerza obligatoria de la constitución política y nace, finalmente, el poder de los gobernantes del Estado para mandar. (PT.52)

La conciencia de los pueblos, cada vez más desarrollada, exige que la ley fundamental, que debe encuadrar las actividades políticas, económicas, sociales del país, sea un reflejo de lo que son como pueblos y cumpla con los valores que llevan. No es por nada que muchos pueblos exigen cada vez más la puesta en marcha de constituyentes para proceder a la redacción de estas constituciones, reflejos de lo que son y quieren.

79. No obstante, estas tendencias de que hemos hablado constituyen también un testimonio indudable de que en nuestro tiempo los hombres van adquiriendo una conciencia cada vez más viva de su propia dignidad y se sienten, por tanto, estimulados a intervenir en la ida pública y a exigir que sus derechos personales e inviolables se defiendan en la constitución política del país. No basta con esto; los hombres exigen hoy, además, que las autoridades se nombren de acuerdo con las normas constitucionales y ejerzan sus funciones dentro de los términos establecidos por las mismas(PT 79)

Un último punto se debe tomar en cuenta. En su encíclica Mater et Magistra, el Papa Juan XXIII justifica el hecho de la nacionalización afirmando, como más allá de la necesaria cooperación entre los poderes públicos y el sector privado, que el Estado y las instituciones de derecho público puedan, además, poseer propiedades de producción. Es en estos términos que está enunciado este principio:

116. Lo que hasta aquí hemos expuesto no excluye, como es obvio, que también el Estado y las demás instituciones públicas posean legítimamente bienes de producción, de modo especial cuanto éstos «llevan consigo tal poder económico, que no es posible dejarlo en manos de personas privadas sin peligro del bien común (MM.116)

EL SOCIALISMO DEL SIGLO XXI

Estamos llegando, aquí, a este famoso socialismo que hace estremecer a los obispos y a las oligarquías católicas de America latina.

Este socialismo no es el producto de una ideología, sino de un movimiento de una sociedad que basa su desarrollo en los valores de justicia, verdad, solidaridad y convierte al Estado en herramienta del pueblo para el Bien común de toda la sociedad. La democracia participativa que se promueve toma forma y crece con la conciencia y la organización de los distintos actores sociales que participan en las decisiones y orientaciones políticas y económicas. Ella es básicamente antiimperialista y anticapitalista, sin estar, por lo tanto, en contra la empresa privada dispuesta a subordinar a sus intereses individuales y mercantiles a los del Bien común de la colectividad.

En el plano económico, el Presidente de Venezuela, en 1998, Hugo Chavez, declaró en febrero de 1999: “Nuestro proyecto no quiere una estatización de la economía, pero no es tampoco neoliberal. Buscamos una vía intermedia, donde la mano invisible del mercado está trabajando con la mano visible del Estado: tanto Estado como sea necesario, y tanto mercado como sea posible.” (19 Richard Gott, Hugo Chávez y la Revolución Bolivariana, Verso, Londres, 2005, p. 175)

Cuando observamos los 15 años del Gobierno Bolivariano actualisando el socialismo del siglo XXI, reconocemos la aplicación de los principios que encontramos en la doctrina social de la Iglesia según lo expresado por el Papa Jean XXIII. Me permito referirles a un artículo que trata de esta projimidad entre este socialismo del siglo XXI y el pensamiento social del Papa Juan XXIII. A ustedes les toca juzgar.

Desafío a todos los opositores de este socialismo que se reclaman de la doctrina social de a Iglesia católica para que digan en que este socialismo va en contra del pensamiento social de la Iglesia tal como lo ha expresado el santo papa Juan XXIII. En él se encuentra tambien lo que inspiro la teologia de liberacion.

La exhortación Evangelii Gaudium del papa Francisco actualiza los puntos mas fundamentales de esa doctrina social des papa Juan XXIII.

Mas que nunca urge que los principales responsables, obispos, cardenales, nuncios apostolicos y otros esten a lo tanto de esta doctrina y actuen en consequencia. Muchos dejan la impresión de ignorarla de completo.

35. Por esto, la convivencia civil sólo puede juzgarse ordenada, fructífera y congruente con la dignidad humana si se funda en la verdad. Es una advertencia del apóstol San Pablo: Despojándoos de la mentira, hable cada uno verdad con su prójimo, pues que todos somos miembros unos de otros[25]. Esto ocurrirá, ciertamente, cuando cada cual reconozca, en la debida forma, los derechos que le son propios y los deberes que tiene para con los demás. Más todavía: una comunidad humana será cual la hemos descrito cuando los ciudadanos,bajo la guía de la justicia, respeten los derechos ajenos y cumplan sus propias obligaciones; cuando estén movidos por el amor de tal manera, que sientan como suyas las necesidades del prójimo y hagan a los demás partícipes de sus bienes, y procuren que en todo el mundo haya un intercambio universal de los valores más excelentes del espíritu humano. Ni basta esto sólo, porque la sociedad humana se va desarrollando conjuntamente con la libertad, es decir, con sistemas que se ajusten a la dignidad del ciudadano, ya que, siendo éste racional por naturaleza, resulta, por lo mismo, responsable de sus acciones. (PT35)

11. Puestos a desarrollar, en primer término, el tema de los derechos del hombre, observamos que éste tiene un derecho a la existencia, a la integridad corporal, a los medios necesarios para un decoroso nivel de vida, cuales son, principalmente, el alimento, el vestido, la vivienda, el descanso, la asistencia médica y, finalmente, los servicios indispensables que a cada uno debe prestar el Estado. De lo cual se sigue que el hombre posee también el derecho a la seguridad personal en caso de enfermedad, invalidez, viudedad, vejez, paro y, por último, cualquier otra eventualidad que le prive, sin culpa suya, de los medios necesarios para su sustento. [PT.11)

Es lo que la Revolución bolivariana, en estos ultimos 15 anos, se dedica a favorecer en funcion de todo el pueblo, empezando por los más pobres y desfavorecidos. Lo mismo sucede en Bolivia y en Ecuador.

Coloco este artículo bajo el patrocinio del Papa San Juan XXIII, en su dia de canocizacion, el 27 de abril 2014.

Oscar Fortin

traductor de la parte texto del autor: Marius Morin

Pisa, la guerra diventa «solidarietà»

May 4th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

Pisa ha ormai, accanto alla tradizionale festa di San Ranieri, un’altra ricorrenza che sta assumendo carattere quasi religioso: la «Giornata della solidarietà», in memoria del maggiore Nicola Ciardelli della brigata Folgore, ucciso nella guerra in Iraq il 27 aprile 2006 a Nassiriya, decorato con la Croce d’Onore dal presidente Napolitano. Alla giornata, celebratasi ieri per iniziativa del Comune e dell’Associazione Nicola Ciardelli, hanno partecipato oltre 2400 alunni delle scuole dell’infanzia, primarie e medie, condotti attraverso la città a visitare luoghi significativi dei «diritti inviolabili e doveri inderogabili sanciti dalla Costituzione». A partire dal «ripudio della guerra e la difesa della patria», cui mani sapienti hanno aggiunto «e della pace». A significare che le «missioni di pace» sono il necessario complemento degli articoli 11 e 52 e quindi rientrano nei «doveri inderogabili» sanciti dalla Costituzione.

Il sindaco Filippeschi (Pd) l’ha definita «una giornata che parte dalla memoria e si trasforma in momento educativo». Memoria corta: il maggiore Ciardelli faceva parte del 185° Reggimento acquisizione obiettivi (Rao), formato da forze speciali che, infiltrate in territorio straniero, individuano gli obiettivi da colpire. Lo stesso che opera oggi in Afghanistan nell’ambito della «unità speciale e semisegreta Task force Victor», come la definisce la Rivista Italiana Difesa, specificando che gli «insorti» (o presunti tali), una volta individuati, vengono «neutralizzati attraverso il fuoco dei tiratori scelti del Rao o mediante la guida del fuoco aereo dei cacciabombardieri». Questo era il compito svolto in Iraq dal maggiore Ciardelli che, una volta morto, è stato trasformato in icona del «momento educativo».

Il clou della giornata è il lancio dei paracadutisti che scendono sul Ponte di mezzo portando, insieme alla bandiera della Folgore (due ali bianche che lanciano un fulmine giallo-oro), un’altra con scritto «Nicola». Il nome del maggiore Ciardelli – si spiega agli alunni – ucciso mentre, in missione di pace in Iraq, aiutava i bambini. Con tecniche persuasive che rasentano il reato di circonvenzione di incapace, si cerca in tal modo di plasmare le menti di migliaia di minori, istillando l’idea che i militari italiani vengono inviati in terre lontane non per la guerra, ma per la pace e la solidarietà.

A tale operazione hanno partecipato oltre 30 enti e associazioni, tra cui diverse del volontariato, in gran parte inconsapevoli dell’obiettivo centrale della «Giornata della solidarietà». Quello che l’attuale ministro degli esteri Federica Mogherini (Pd) così spiegava alla Camera tre anni fa: «Colmare una apparente, grave e fittizia contrapposizione tra la cultura della difesa e la cultura della pace e della solidarietà». Una contrapposizione che manteniamo ferma, quando si spaccia per «cultura della difesa» la cultura della guerra.

Manlio Dinucci

Appearing at a joint White House press conference Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Barack Obama voiced full backing for the bloody crackdown against pro-federalization protesters in eastern Ukraine, while ratcheting up US threats against Russia.

Even as the scale of bloodletting by the Kiev regime’s troops and its fascist allies in the Right Sector was becoming clear, the American president issued an explicit endorsement of the government’s military attack on the pro-Russian population in the east and south of the country.

Obama stated, “As Ukrainian forces move to restore order in eastern Ukraine, it is obvious to the world that these Russian-backed groups are not peaceful protesters.”

He continued, insisting that “The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory.” The onus fell on Moscow, he claimed, “to use its influence with these paramilitary groups so that they disarm and stop provoking violence.”

As Obama spoke, a fascist mob led by the neo-Nazi Right Sector was carrying out a massacre of pro-Russian demonstrators in Odessa, killing dozens. In the east of the country, fully armed troops and Right Sector thugs, backed by armor, artillery and helicopter gunships, attacked centers of the anti-Kiev protests in Slovyansk and other cities, setting the stage for a bloodbath.

Yet Obama praised Kiev for its “remarkable restraint” and placed the full blame for the violence wracking the country on Russia. He made no call for the Ukrainian regime to disarm the fascist paramilitary groups such as the Right Sector that brought it to power and now comprise its shock troops for the assault on the east.

Washington has given the order for this offensive, coming just days after the coup regime in Kiev declared itself “helpless” in the face of the eastern protests, particularly given Moscow’s warning against any use of armed force against Russian-speaking people of the region.

According to Financial Times foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman: “The Ukrainian government’s hesitation up until now may also reflect the conflicting pressures the government is under from its Western allies. The German government in particular has been putting the Kiev authorities under intense pressure not to go on the offensive. This reflects both innate German caution and the fact that four of the OSCE hostages being held by separatists in Slovyansk are Germans. The Americans, by contrast, have been urging the Ukrainians to assert their authority in the east.”

Friday’s Rose Garden press conference was meant to signal US-German unity in the face of the Ukraine crisis, but it was impossible to entirely paper over differences between the two imperialist powers. These emerged most explicitly over the US National Security Agency’s wholesale spying in Germany and internationally, which—as revealed by Edward Snowden—extended to the cell phone of the German chancellor and the communications of officials at every level of the German government.

Obama claimed Washington had taken significant measures to allay European concerns, while insisting on its need to spy on all of its supposed allies. Merkel, who stressed US-German unity in the “war on terror,” discreetly allowed that there remained a “difference of opinion” on surveillance policies and there could be no return to “business as usual.”

While the two heads of state claimed agreement on imposing additional, more punishing “sectoral sanctions” targeting Russian industry unless the government of Vladimir Putin bows to Western demands, neither spelled out the specifics of such measures, and there was a significant difference in the tone each adopted.

Merkel, expressing the interests of German big business, which reaps substantial profits off of its investment and trade with Russia, insisted that her government did not want stiffer sanctions, though it was prepared to impose them, and preferred a diplomatic solution.

Obama voiced no such qualms. He expressed the determination to “impose costs on Russia” and declared Washington’s “unwavering Article 5 commitment” under the NATO alliance to defend any member state coming under military attack. This invocation came as the Pentagon continued to stage provocative deployments of US paratroopers in the former Soviet Baltic republics and Poland.

What are Washington’s aims? It would appear that the US has decided to deliberately escalate tensions with the aim of drawing Russia into an invasion of eastern Ukraine, thereby creating the conditions for roping Western Europe into draconian sanctions and even war.

This strategy underlies the lies and distortions employed by the American president in an attempt to indict Russia as the source of violence in Ukraine. He denounced Putin for thinking that he had the “right to violate the sovereignty of another country, to violate its territorial integrity,” a privilege that Washington reserves for itself, invading, attacking and overthrowing governments from Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya, Syria and beyond.

Casting himself as the champion of Ukrainian independence and freedom, Obama insisted that “Ukrainians should be able to make their own decisions.” He denounced the position, which he attributed to Russia that “the Kremlin has veto power over decisions made by a duly elected government in Kiev.”

The only problem here, of course, is that the “duly elected government in Kiev” was overthrown last February in a US-orchestrated, fascist-led coup that installed an unelected ultra-nationalist government in which neo-Nazis from the Right Sector and the Svoboda party hold prominent positions.

In orchestrating the February 22 putsch that overthrew President Viktor Yanukovych, Washington and Berlin exercised their own veto over the legally constituted government’s decision to align itself more closely with Russia rather than with the European Union.

In the press conference, Obama ridiculed “Russian propaganda” for “suggestions or implications that somehow Americans are responsible for meddling in Ukraine.” He continued, “Our only interest is for Ukraine to be able to make its own decisions and the last thing we want is disorder and chaos in the center of Europe.”

Does Obama believe that everyone in the world is an idiot? US officials have boasted about American “meddling,” including his “point person” on Ukraine, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, who has bragged repeatedly about Washington pouring $5 billion into the country to install precisely the kind of regime it brought to power in February.

The same Nuland was recorded last fall in the infamous “fuck the EU” taped phone conversation advising the US ambassador as to who among the Ukrainian opposition leaders should head a new government, dubbing “Yats,” her pet name for Arseniy Yatsenyuk, as its leader. Once the smoke had cleared from the mayhem in Kiev’s Maidan square, it was indeed “Yats” who was proclaimed prime minister.

It should be recalled that in the run-up to the coup, Washington was insisting that Yanukovych had to step down because he had dared to use force against the protesters who had erected barricades in the center of Kiev and seized government buildings. Secretary of State John Kerry declared his “disgust” over the government’s decision to “meet the peaceful protest … with riot police, bulldozers and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity.”

Now the US-backed regime brought to power through armed violence is suppressing protesters who have seized government buildings, employing not bulldozers and batons, but tanks, helicopter gunships and automatic weapons. Washington is fully supporting, and by all appearances directing, the operation. Seldom has the hypocrisy of US imperialist policy been exposed so nakedly and in such short order.

Precisely such a scenario has been repeatedly invoked by Washington as a justification for military intervention in countries thousands of miles from US shores. This includes Libya in February 2011, when Gaddafi’s dispatch of military units to secure the rebellious province of Benghazi and subdue its armed protesters was seized upon as the pretext for launching a US-NATO war to topple his regime.

Now the Obama administration is directing, in the name of “democracy” and “human rights,” a military crackdown against anti-Kiev regime rebels in eastern Ukraine. It feels no need to explain the howling contradictions in its propaganda narrative because it has complete contempt for the democratic will of the American people, who are overwhelmingly opposed to US military provocations against Russia, and because it knows that the corporate-controlled media will continue to function as a state propaganda organ and raise no embarrassing questions.

It appears that the US is intent on drawing Putin into an intervention in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic on Russia’s border, to protect pro-Russian protesters against the violence of the state. This will then be used by Washington to justify an escalation of economic warfare and military deployments against Russia, potentially igniting a nuclear Third World War.

In what can only be described as a massacre, 38 anti-government activists were killed Friday after fascist-led forces set fire to Odessa’s Trade Unions House, which had been sheltering opponents of the US- and European-backed regime in Ukraine.

According to eye-witnesses, those who jumped from the burning building and survived were surrounded and beaten by thugs from the neo-Nazi Right Sector. Video footage shows bloodied and wounded survivors being attacked.

The atrocity underscores both the brutal character of the right-wing government installed in Kiev by the Western powers and the encouragement by the US and its allies of a bloody crackdown by the regime to suppress popular opposition, centered in the mainly Russian-speaking south and east of Ukraine.

As the Odessa outrage occurred, US President Barack Obama, at a joint White House press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, explicitly endorsed the military offensive being carried out by the unelected Kiev government against protesters occupying official buildings in eastern Ukraine.

Despite Western media attempts to cover up what happened in Odessa—with multiple reports stating that “the exact sequence of events is still unclear”—there is no doubt that the killings in the southern port city were instigated by thugs wearing the insignia of the Right Sector, which holds positions in the Kiev regime, along with the like-minded Svoboda party.

The Trade Unions House was set on fire by pro-Kiev elements after they surrounded and set fire to a tent camp of anti-government activists that had stood for several weeks in front of the building on Odessa’s Kulikovo Field Square. The building itself was torched after some of the anti-government protesters barricaded themselves inside it.

As the building was engulfed in flames, photos posted on Twitter showed people hanging out of windows and sitting on windowsills of several floors, possibly preparing to jump. Other images showed pro-regime elements celebrating the inferno. Some jeered on Twitter that “Colorado beetles are being roasted up in Odessa,” using a derogatory term for pro-Russian activists wearing St. George’s ribbons.

Thirty of the victims were found on the floors of the building, having apparently suffocated from smoke inhalation. Eight more died after jumping out of windows to escape the blaze, according to local police. Ukraine authorities said a total of 43 people died in Odessa Friday and 174 others sustained injuries, with 25 still in a critical condition.

The violence started as around 1,500 supporters of the Kiev authorities, who recently arrived in the city, gathered at Sobornaya Square in central Odessa. Armed with chains and bats and carrying shields, they marched through the city, chanting “Glory to Ukraine,” “Death to enemies” and “Knife the Moskals [derogatory for Russians].”

Odessa has been among the southeast Ukrainian cities swept by protests since the February coup. At the end of March, thousands rallied in the city, challenging the legitimacy of the coup-imposed government and demanding an autonomy referendum.

The Odessa massacre is the largest death toll so far since the Ukrainian regime, at the urging of the Obama administration, renewed its full-scale military assault on anti-government protests and occupations.

Earlier Friday, interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov said many separatists had been killed in a government offensive in Slavyansk. Kiev officials said troops overran rebel checkpoints surrounding the city of 130,000 people in an operation launched before dawn, adding that the city was now “tightly encircled.”

Despite the use of helicopter gunships, the assault stalled, however, because of local resistance. By early afternoon, the Ukrainian troops were halted in the villages of Bylbasovka and Andreyevka, where residents flocked to their lines to argue with them and urge them not to fight.

In Andreyevka, about 200 people formed a human chain to stop armoured personnel carriers and trucks. In Bylbasovka, residents chanted “Shame! Shame! Shame!” In the nearby town of Kramatorsk, people blocked roads with trolley cars and buses in an attempt to prevent the army from entering.

At his press conference with Merkel, Obama seized on reports that two Ukrainian helicopters had been struck by ground fire. He cited unconfirmed allegations by the Ukrainian intelligence agency SBU that one was hit by a heat-seeking missile as proof that Russian forces were involved. By the evening, however, even the New York Times admitted that no evidence had been produced of heat-seeking missiles.

Along with Obama’s incendiary claim, his backing for Kiev’s military onslaught points to a drive by the US and its European partners to create civil war conditions and goad Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration into intervening, in order to provide the pretext for crippling economic sanctions and a NATO confrontation with Russia.

Washington pushed for the renewed offensive just days after the Kiev regime appeared to back away from an all-out military assault, saying it was “helpless” to stop the occupations of buildings, which have spread to at least 17 cities and towns.

Putin sought to forestall the US-led push by signing a so-called peace agreement with the US, the European Union and Ukraine two weeks ago, which provided for ending the building occupations and halting plans for a military crackdown. This pact has been swept aside by Kiev and its backers. Putin’s spokesman yesterday said the “punitive operation” mounted by Ukraine had destroyed the agreement.

Russia called another emergency UN Security Council meeting Friday to denounce Ukraine’s actions. Moscow’s ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, warned of “catastrophic consequences” if the military operation continued, only to be denounced by his US counterpart, Samantha Power, who called the attack “proportionate and reasonable.”

Power, who made a name for herself by championing US military interventions in Libya and elsewhere in the name of “human rights” and the “protection of civilians,” declared that Russia’s concern about escalating instability was “cynical and disingenuous.” In keeping with US government propaganda since the beginning of the crisis, she baldly asserted that Russia was the cause of the instability.

It was Washington and its allies, particularly the German government that orchestrated the ultra-nationalist February putsch in Kiev and then exploited the reaction of Moscow, and Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population, to accuse Russia of threatening Ukraine.

Having poured some $5 billion into the country to install the Kiev regime via violent paramilitary operations, it is now accusing Russia, without producing any serious evidence, of doing the very same thing.

Ukraine’s initial military assault last month began after CIA Director John Brennan surreptitiously visited Kiev. A second push followed a visit by US Vice President Joseph Biden.

There is evidence of ongoing US involvement. The Russian Foreign Ministry said English-speaking foreigners had been seen among the Ukrainian forces mounting the assault on Slavyansk on Friday, echoing its previous charges that Greystone, a US military contractor, is working alongside the Ukrainian military.

In part, the US operation seems directed at preventing an autonomy referendum planned by anti-Kiev opponents on May 11. In addition, a Ukrainian presidential election, scheduled for May 25, is seen by the Western powers as a means of lending legitimacy to the coup government in Kiev. The most widely-promoted presidential candidate, billionaire oligarch Petro Poroshenko, advocates NATO membership for Ukraine and the subordination of the country to the dictates of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

But with the Kiev regime failing to suppress the opposition, Washington appears intent on provoking a confrontation and then accusing Russia of preventing the presidential poll from proceeding. Meanwhile, on the pretext of training exercises, US troops are being deployed in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as well as Poland, bringing NATO forces right up to Russia’s borders.

Dozens of people died in flames in Odessa, when radicals set ablaze the local House of Trade Unions with anti-government protesters blocked inside. The city is now in mourning for those who died, suffocated in smoke or had to jump out of windows.What triggered the tragedy were violent clashes, which erupted on Friday afternoon between two rival rallies in Ukraine’s port-city of Odessa.http://rt.com/news/156592-odessa-activists-burnt-alive/

Around 1,500 supporters of the Kiev authorities, accompanied by aggressive fans of the local football club, Chernomorets, tried to march through the center of the city chanting “Glory to Ukraine,” “Death to enemies,” “Knife the Moskals [derogatory for Russians].” Some of the people in the group were wearing ultra-nationalist Right Sector movement insignia, were armed with chains and bats and carried shields.

Several hundred anti-government activists eventually confronted the procession. Fighting broke out as a result, with members of the rival groups throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and smoke grenades at each other and at police. The pavements were spattered with blood.

 

The police failed to draw the rival groups apart. As a result, 4 people were killed and 37 wounded in the violence. Police were among the injured.

 

This still grabbed on TV images released by INTER, shows a man covering the bloodied body of a man with an Ukrainian flag during a demonstration on May 2, 2014 in Odessa. (AFP/Inter)

This still grabbed on TV images released by INTER, shows a man covering the bloodied body of a man with an Ukrainian flag during a demonstration on May 2, 2014 in Odessa. (AFP/Inter)

 

Ukrainian police help an injured colleague during clashes between pro-Russian activists and supporters of the Kiev government in the streets of Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

Ukrainian police help an injured colleague during clashes between pro-Russian activists and supporters of the Kiev government in the streets of Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

Street clashes appeared to be only the beginning of the Odessa Friday nightmare, as radicals started to drive anti-government activists back to their tent camp in front of the local House of Trade Unions. Many anti-Kiev protesters eventually hid inside the building.

 

Women and children were hiding in the Trade Union’s building,” an eye-witness told RT. “First the armed men set fire to tents, then they started throwing Molotov cocktails and grenades at the building. We heard shots fired and saw smoke,” she added.

The first floor of the Trade Unions building was soon engulfed in flames. The people inside appeared to be trapped.

 

Dozens eventually burnt alive or suffocated to death. To escape the fire and smoke, people were hanging out of windows and sitting on windowsills. In sheer desperation, some of them eventually jumped to the ground.

 

 

People wait to be rescued on the second storey's ledge during a fire at the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

People wait to be rescued on the second storey’s ledge during a fire at the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

 

People wait to be rescued on upper storeys at the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

People wait to be rescued on upper storeys at the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

Many of those who managed to escape the fire were then brutally beaten by armed men, believed to be from the ultra-nationalist Right Sector group, who had the building under siege.

As people were dying in the burning building, some of the pro-Kiev activists jeered on Twitter that “Colorado beetles are being roasted up in Odessa,” using a derogatory term for pro-Russian activists wearing St. George’s ribbons.

 

Video stills from ustream channel opposition-ru

Video stills from ustream channel opposition-ru

About 50 people got to the roof of the burning building and waited for help there. RT managed to speak to one of them, after they were later rescued by police.

We were hiding there [on the roof] from this angry mob, which forced us inside this building and threw Molotov cocktails and stones at us,” he said. “People were burned alive inside the building, they couldn’t get out. We couldn’t go down, we were seeing people from other floors being brought down and then those rioters down there attacked them like a pack of wolves. We were escorted from the roof and from the building. We had to step over dead bodies when we were descending the stairs.

 

A total of 46 people died in Odessa’s violence on Friday and almost 200 others sustained injuries, Odessa Region prosecutor Igor Borshulyak told journalists on Saturday.

39 of the dead lost their lives in the fire at the Odessa Trade Unions House, according to the Ukrainian emergencies agency, which released a statement saying that “31 of the dead were found inside the building, eight more were found outside by law enforcement officers.”

 

A protester walks past a burning tent camp and a fire in the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

A protester walks past a burning tent camp and a fire in the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

Odessa announced on Saturday a three-day mourning for the victims of the tragedy.

Later, Ukraine’s acting President Aleksandr Turchinov signed a decree signaling two days of national mourning for those who died in the special military operation in eastern Ukraine and in mass clashes in Odessa.

Residents of Odessa have since Saturday morning been laying flowers outside the burnt out Trade Union building.

Russians have been bringing candles to the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow to commemorate the dead in Odessa.

 

People watch as firefighters work at the burned Trade Union building late on May 2, 2014 in Odessa. (AFP Photo)

People watch as firefighters work at the burned Trade Union building late on May 2, 2014 in Odessa. (AFP Photo)

US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the US is interested in Africa’s natural resources. Kerry said that the US and the continent of Africa are “Natural Partners” because of its abundant resources and their “know-how for economic development”.

The Associated Press reported what Kerry said to members of the Addis Ababa diplomatic corps and the Young Africa leader network following his visit to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. He said:

Africa has the natural resources, capacity and the know-how for economic development, Kerry said, adding that the U.S. is the continent’s “natural partner.” He said that over the next three years, 37 of the 54 African nations will hold national elections with millions of voters going to the polls. And he called on Africans to combat the political corruption that the African Union says has cost the people of Africa tens of billions of dollars

The report said that

“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted crises in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and the Central African Republic and urged Africans to demand stability and financial development.”

Well obviously it does not include a handful of dictatorships Washington has supported over the years including Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea in West Africa. He is also known as “the country’s God” according to a report conducted by BBC in 2003. The state-controlled radio program had announced to the public that “He can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell because it is God himself, with whom he is in permanent contact, and who gives him this strength,” a presidential aide announced on the show” according to the report. Obiang is a staunch US ally and Africa’s longest ruling dictator since 1979 after he executed his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema. Obiang was actually trained in Spain under the fascist leadership of Francisco Franco. Equatorial Guinea’s oil exports and corruption has made the Obiang family one of the wealthiest families on the African continent. In 2008, the US Department of State’s own human rights report stated the following concerning Equatorial Guinea:

limited ability of citizens to change their government; increased reports of unlawful killings by security forces; government-sanctioned kidnappings; systematic torture of prisoners and detainees by security forces; life threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities; impunity; arbitrary arrest, detention, and incommunicado detention; harassment and deportation of foreign residents with limited due process; judicial corruption and lack of due process; restrictions on the right to privacy; restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press; restrictions on the rights of assembly, association, and movement; government corruption; violence and discrimination against women; suspected trafficking in persons; discrimination against ethnic minorities; and restrictions on labor rights

Equatorial Guinea is an example. It has natural resources and a government that is friendly to Washington and its corporate interests. The speech made by Kerry mentioned countries that lacked security and democratic values for its people as he said that the US was “ready to help increase its ties with Africa, but nations across the continent need to take stronger steps to ensure security and democracy for its people”. He did not mention Equatorial Guinea, Uganda, Rwanda or Ethiopia. All are whom supported by Washington. “And he called on Africans to combat the political corruption that the African Union says has cost the people of Africa tens of billions of dollars” According to the AP report. Kerry also said

“That money could build new schools and hospitals, new roads and bridges, new pipes and power lines. That’s why it’s a responsibility for citizens in Africa and in all nations to demand that public money is providing services for all, not lining the pockets of a few”

Just like President Teodoro Obiang. It is no secret that Africa has an enormous amount of resources including oil, copper, gold and silver. The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is expanding its presence in Africa to counter not only China, but Brazil, India and Russia. According to a document published by AFRICOM during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with General David M. Rodriquez on March 6th 2014, confirmed Washington’s strategy concerning Africa:

Africa is increasingly important for our European allies, who are directly affected by the rising economic and political influence of some African countries, as well as the symptoms of instability emanating from other countries. Many European Allies view Africa as the source of their greatest external security threats, including terrorism, illegal immigration, human smuggling and trafficking, and drugs and arms trafficking. Our support to allies in addressing mutual security challenges in Africa may influence their willingness and ability to help shoulder the burden in future conflicts in other areas in the world. The African continents energy and strategic mineral reserves are also of growing significance to China, India, and other countries in the broader Indian Ocean basin. Africa’s increasing importance to allies and emerging powers, including China, India and Brazil, provides opportunities to reinforce U.S. security objectives in other regions through our engagement on the continent. While most African countries prefer to partner with the United States across all sectors, many will partner with any country that can increase their security and prosperity. We should be deliberate in determining where we leave gaps others may fill

Africa is Washington’s next colonial project. Expanding AFRICOM and more drone bases will be the norm. Will Africa’s leadership allow Washington and it European partners (who colonized Africa for centuries) to dominate their continent? That is a hard question to answer, especially when leaders such as Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang who became wealthy at the expense of his people.

The recent destabilization campaign waged by the right-wing opposition has yet again made Venezuela a darling of the international media.

While there is always a deafening media silence when the Bolivarian government wins an electoral mandate, throughout the month of February 2014 viewers were assailed with images of “innocent” student protesters – mostly from the academic bastion of the Venezuelan elite, the Central University of Venezuela – being brutalized by state security forces.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announces new initiatives to address current economic problems, arguing that population’s universal welfare is a key aim behind policymaking.

Apparently the axe that has chopped budgets for investigative journalism has fallen heavily on Venezuela. Mainstream media outlets re-broadcast images from Twitter without bothering to fact-check, not realizing that they were actually from places like Egypt and Syria or that they depicted Venezuelan state security forces that had been disbanded two years ago. The February traumas were almost another “media coup” in the making.

The mainstream media’s attempts to manufacture consent and condone the opposition-sponsored violence against the Maduro government should ring alarm bells for anyone on the left. While we can have legitimate debates about how anti-capitalist the Bolivarian revolution has truly been, since Hugo Chávez took office in 1999 “the process” (as it is known in Venezuela) has achieved the greatest redistribution of social wealth since the Cuban Revolution in 1959. As well, “twenty-first century socialism” should be distinguished from earlier historical versions because of its commitment to democratic forms of decision-making. By fostering forms of democratic control over the economy through systems such as workers’ collectives and community councils, Venezuela is experimenting with what may be the most radical attempts to decentralize decision-making to the local level.

Twenty-First Century Socialism

For these reasons, socialists ranging from Karachi, Pakistan to Toronto, Canada have demanded that imperialist powers keep their “hands off Venezuela.” Not only does Venezuela give us much to learn from this creative experiment with “twenty-first century socialism,” but it also continues to play a crucial role in Latin America and the rest of the world – opening spaces for the election of left governments and inspiring extra-parliamentary movements that demand radical social change.

However, it is important to recognize that as with any socialist experiment, it has been riddled with contradictions and tensions. Nonetheless, the Bolivarian revolution is worth defending because of its importance to the region and its worth in its own right.

This is not the first time that the Venezuelan opposition has used extra-parliamentary and parliamentary tactics to try to force a “regime change.” In April 2002 Chávez was deposed for 48 hours in a U.S.-sponsored coup d’etat, only to be restored to office by loyal members of the Presidential guard who were inspired by the hundreds of thousands of citizens who poured on to the streets of Caracas and demanded the return of their President.

The second extra-parliamentary attempt occurred a few months later from December 2002-January 2003 when the opposition-controlled oil company Petroleum of Venezuela organized a “strike,” shutting down production in an act of economic sabotage. In response, workers who identified with the Bolivarian revolution took matters in their own hands, taking over oil refineries and distribution centres, delivering domestic gasoline which eventually inspired the movement for worker-controlled factories.

Having failed with these tactics, in August 2004 the opposition resorted to parliamentary methods. Right-wing forces under the umbrella organization Súmate (funded by U.S. aid money) organized a referendum campaign to recall the president. Again, they lost as 58 per cent of voters cast ballots in favour of Chávez. Fed up with playing by the rules, in 2005 the opposition parties refused to participate in the presidential elections, allowing the Bolivarian forces to sweep the parliament, and then complaining that Venezuela was a “dictatorship” due to one-party rule.

Emboldened by the overwhelming show of support from the Venezuelan people, at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in 2005, Chávez declared for the first time that he was a “socialist,” having realized that social democracy would never achieve social justice or overturn the highly unequal structures of capitalism.

Chávez’s Declaration

The February 2014 insurrection is yet another extra-parliamentary attempt by the opposition forces to topple the government. They aim to capitalize on a perceived moment of weakness in the Bolivarian revolution largely due to the death of Hugo Chávez.

Widely recognized to be an incredibly charismatic leader, he was often described as the “glue” that held the revolution together. Chávez’s charisma was undeniable. He had a wicked sense of humour; something he displayed weekly on his television talk show, Aló Presidente (Hello President). Not only was he smart and funny, but incredibly charming; often serenading the audience with traditional folk songs, or sharing his reflections on socialism, economic theory and love. (Who amongst us, I ask, would be able to stomach seeing Stephen Harper’s mug on TV every week. What a dreadful thought!)

While Chávez’s personal charisma undoubtedly played a role in “the process,” it also did little to change the political culture of the Latin American strongman and the widespread belief of Venezuela as a “magical state” in which the president had powers to transform oil into cars, constitutions, housing, etc. The socialists left of Chavismo whom Jeff Webber and I have interviewed over the past five years suggest that such hero worship is a problem. As Juan Contreras, a militant from one of the most revolutionary barrios of Caracas, once put it in an interview in 2012 (about seven months before Chávez died), “Chávez’s charisma is at once a strength and a weakness for the movement. When he got sick recently, there was a power gap, no one talked about ‘revolution,’ we were all paralyzed. Like any mortal, Chávez could die any day. Anything could happen to him; he could choke on a fish bone. This is why we need a collective leadership (‘direccióncolectiva’).”

February Traumas

After winning his fourth presidential mandate by a wide margin in October 2012, Chávez succumbed to a battle with cancer in early March 2013. On April 4, 2013, Chávez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver and one Chávez’s must trusted advisers, won the presidential elections, this time only winning by a narrow margin of 1.7 per cent over the main opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles (compared with Chávez’s more decisive mandate of 11 per cent).

Sensing a withering of the Chavista forces, the opposition waited for a moment of “crisis” to organize protests against the government. Due to the hoarding of basic goods by opposition-owned and controlled distribution chains, Venezuela has been experiencing shortages of basic food products such as flour and cooking oil, and other essential goods such as toilet paper for months. While the situation might seem trivial, these shortages do wear down the people’s patience, particularly in a country that has grown accustomed to periods of material and consumerist abundance due to its vast oil wealth.

Stoked by main opposition leaders, the first protests were organized on “Youth Day” in early February 2014. Blockades were erected throughout eastern Caracas – the wealthy part of the capital city – but then spread into other wealthy neighbourhoods across the country. While the international media has reported on a government-sponsored “campaign of terror,” in reality the rich have barricaded themselves in their own neighbourhoods, facing off with the state security forces in nightly contests.

The poor, who overwhelmingly support the government, have been notably absent. Indeed, life has been more-or-less normal in the western part of Caracas. It is amazing how a few strategically placed cameras can give the outside world the impression that there is general mayhem.

And the poor, who are most affected by economic issues such as inflation and shortages, and who are the least to blame, do not have domestic servants to wait in line for goods and cannot afford to hoard supplies. Most tragically, a majority of the people who have lost their lives in the period of unrest have been innocent bystanders or government-supporters, including three motorcyclists (a method of transportation that is almost exclusively used by the poor) who were beheaded by invisible razor wires erected by opposition protesters.

While there are some real economic problems in Venezuela that affect the rich and the poor alike, as economist Mark Weisbrot reports from the front lines of Caracas, this is a revolt of the well-off, not a terror campaign by the government.

What is Going to Happen Next?

The government has called for “dialogue” with the opposition. Thus far, hard-line opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma (former opposition Mayor of Caracas) and Maria Corina Machado (a congress representative), who have openly called for violence in the streets, have boycotted any dialogue. Only the main opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, who ran against Chávez and Maduro in the past year’s presidential races, attended initial talks. Throughout this period, Capriles had been hoping to cast himself as the middle-of-the-road “good guy,” less radical than his colleagues who basically foam at the mouth when they speak about the Bolivarian Revolution. Other opposition leaders like Leopoldo Lopez (the former Mayor of a wealthy area of Caracas and leader of opposition party Popular Will) and Daniel Ceballos (Mayor of San Cristobal) are currently in prison for supporting or encouraging the violence.

While the right-wing opposition has a unity of purpose – to seize state power so that they can once again channel wealth toward their cronies and restore a more brutal form of capitalism – the squabbles that are emerging in the wake of their defeat could divide them; at least temporarily.

The dialogue thus far has also exposed the corrupt practices, such as hoarding, of the Venezuelan opposition. As Chris Gilbert recently reported, some products “magically” appeared on shelves just a few days after the kingpin of Venezuela’s largest food and beverage chain Polar, Lorenzo Mendoza, decided to join the dialogue organized by the Maduro government.

Other events that have developed include: two opposition mayors who failed to follow a Supreme Court ruling to remove the barricades have been arrested for their insubordination; the head of the National Guard was replaced immediately when some officers failed to obey government orders not to suppress the protesters; and there is a warrant out for the arrest of the officers that fired the shots that claimed the life of at least one opposition supporter.

In terms of the economic situation, in mid-February, Venezuela announced a new exchange rate system that seeks to undercut the black market in dollars, which was wreaking havoc on the value of the currency and fueling inflation. Gilbert argues that while it is too early to draw any conclusions, the reform is “off to a good start,” and that it has already stabilized the rate of inflation which means that the value of peoples’ salaries will not erode as quickly – a problem that weighs most heavily on the poor.

While the dialogue within the upper echelons of the state may bring more peace to the wealthy districts of Caracas, their importance for the rest of the process should not be over-emphasized. Whatever pacts may be signed between the opposition capitalists and the ruling government may bring toilet paper back to the shelves but they will have little bearing on the lives of the average Venezuelan. As long-time observer of Venezuelan politics, Steve Ellner correctly observed,

“the final outcome of the process of transformation in Venezuela will be determined not so much by those on top, but rather by the rank and file of the PSUV and allied parties and social movements in a variety of venues including, to a great extent, the streets.” •

Susan Spronk is a member of the Socialist Project in Ottawa and has been a community organizer and a trade union activist for over 20 years. Also see “February Traumas,” Bullet No. 942.

The US-NATO sponsored Kiev coalition government is responsible for the killings perpetrated by Neo-Nazi Right Sector mobs and security forces in Odessa in which at least 43 people were killed. 

In Odessa, Right Sector thugs set fire to the city’s Trade Union building leading to countless deaths of innocent civilians who were burnt alive within the building which had been set ablaze.

“Such actions are reminiscent of the crimes of the Nazis,” said Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin.

The “international community” has turned a blind eye, the Western media has described the Neo-Nazi Brown shirts as “freedom fighters”. In the words of Eric Sommers:

May 2, 2014 -  the date that fascist forces supported by the U.S. government attacked and murdered helpless civilians in the Ukraine – is a day which will live in infamy”. 

In recent developments, Obama has granted full support to the crackdown on so-called “pro-Russian” activists. This movement against America’s fascist regime in Kiev is widespread. It is not limited to “ethnic Russians” as conveyed by the media. The leaders of this movement are Ukrainians.

The Neo-Nazi mobs bear the hallmarks of  US sponsored terrorism (e.g Syria) trained to commit atrocities against civilians.  America’s Neo-Nazi Government in Kiev is a reality. Confirmed by Germany’s Bild: “Dozens of specialists from the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation are advising the Ukrainian government”

“Citing unnamed German security sources, Bild am Sonntag said the CIA and FBI agents were helping Kiev end the rebellion in the east of Ukraine and set up a functioning security structure.”

Escalation

The killings of civilians in Eastern and South Eastern Ukraine by Neo-Nazi mobs and members of the civilian militia opens up the possibility of a broader conflict within Ukraine, which could potentially lead to escalation. Moreover, prevailing divisions within Ukraine’s  armed forces could lead to military action directed towards unseating the Kiev Neo-Nazi regime. 

Known and documented, escalation is part of a longstanding scenario of military confrontation directed against the Russian Federation.

Protesters look at a fire in the trade union building in Odessa May 2, 2014. (Reuters/Yevgeny Volokin)

Trade Unions building set ablaze by Right Sector thugs (Reuters)

“The Anti-Terrorist Operation”

The killings are part of the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” initiated by the Kiev government with the support of the Pentagon.

The “anti-terrorist operation” is coordinated by the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU). (Рада національної безпеки і оборони України), which is controlled by Svoboda and Right Sector. Dmytro Yarosh, Neo-Nazi leader of the Right Sector delegation in the parliament, oversees the National Guard, a loyal civilian militia created in March with the support of Western military advisers. Paramilitary training of the National Guard commenced in mid-March, north of Kiev.

While the media has presented the crisis as a confrontation between “pro-Russian” and “Ukrainian nationalists”, the grassroots movement in Eastern Ukraine has widespread support. It is largely directed against the Neo-Nazi Kiev regime supported by the West.

The National Guard

In the wake of the Coup, divisions have emerged within Ukraine’s regular military forces and police, which “can not be trusted” in carrying out an “anti-terrorist operation” on behalf of the Kiev regime directed against civilians:

Concerns over the loyalty of the Ukrainian army and security agencies have pushed Kiev to start forming an additional armed branch, which it will fully control.

The National Guard is designed to be 60,000-strong and completely independent from the country’s military and police.

Recruitment across Ukraine began on March 13, with around 20,000 people already joining the new uniformed service. RT

In eastern Ukraine, the National Guard has been given the mandate to “reinforce regular military units defending against a feared Russian invasion… it it is intended to act as a counterinsurgency force.”

Members of this civilian militia operating alongside Neo-Nazi mobs have been set loose in Eastern Ukraine and Odessa.

Right Sector can be identified by its members openly wearing Nazi insignia, as well as carrying crimson and black banners. Mobs supporting the Svoboda party are also present among recent clashes, wearing yellow armbands with the Nazi wolfangel symbol upon them. Odessa Massacre Pushes Ukraine to the Edge. Towards a Larger Destructive Conflict? By Tony Cartalucci, May 03, 2014

The actions of the National Guard are coordinated by the RNBOU. In turn, the riot police and units of the armed forces are also overseen by RBOU, which is controlled by the two Neo-Nazi parties.

These killings of civilians are part of a carefully planned military agenda involving both the National Guard as well organized armed Neo-Nazi mobs, casually described by the media as pro-Ukrainian activists. These are the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance.  The Odessa killings bear the fingerprints of a US-NATO led intelligence operation, with both National Guard and Right Sector militants trained in paramilitary combat skills including the killings of innocent civilians.

Ironically, the Israeli media, while largely supporting the Kiev regime, has tacitly acknowledged that the threat of civil war emanates from the Neo-Nazi elements within the government: “Neo-Nazi Militia Leader Threatens ‘Civil War’” according to Israel National News.

Meanwhile, NATO has scheduled military exercises in Poland “as part of NATO reassurance measures in response to the Ukraine crisis”.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has pointed to an extensive and unprecedented buildup of NATO forces within proximity of Russia’s  borders.

Yesterday – May 2, 2014 -  the date that fascist forces supported by the U.S. government attacked and murdered helpless civilians in the Ukraine – is a day which will live in infamy.

Those of us who grew up in the west after WWII believed that supporting anything resembling fascism was unthinkable.

The moral degeneration of the U.S. state and its Nato allies since that time is almost beyond belief. So too is the degeneration of the Washington Post, New York Times, and other corporate media which have helped to delude large numbers of Americans into believing that Russia, which has killed or attacked no one,  is somehow the aggressor in Ukraine.

In reality, and on the ground, the U.S. government – with no mandate from the American people -  is supporting a fascist/oligarch unelected Ukrainian ‘government’ installed in a coup spear-headed by two openly fascist parties, Svoboda and Right sector.

Now, in actions highly reminiscent of Hitler and his brown shirts, Right-sector oriented hooligans aided by military forces have just beaten with chains and baseball bats, and burned to death in the Trade Unions building of Odessa  31 civilians who were engaged in a peaceful occupation in their own city – civilians who are opposed to, and do not recognize, the new oligarch/fascist ‘government’.

Neo-Nazi thugs at the forefront of Ukrainian protests

 Source: The Red Phoenix

 December 2013

Reuters / Gleb Garanich

Russia Today. Ukrainian Neo-Nazi skinheads

I assume that if, say, the American Nazi party allied with some billionaires, took power in America, at least some Americans would also resist. They might even propose a referendum, as some Eastern Ukrainian cities have, on whether to remain in the country.  If you do not believe that Svoboda and Right sector are fascist, or that they do not now have substantial power in the ministries of the military and security apparatus of the new ‘government’, just look them up, and look at these  photos of their leaders and followers with Nazi-style armbands, Nazi-style flags, and Nazi-style badges, and use of brown-shirt style bully boys, not to mention the leader of Svoboda giving the fascist salute:

The Svoboda leader, Oleh Tiahnybok, whose party now controls key positions in the military and security apparatus of the self-appointed Ukrainian ‘government,  is on record as saying that the WWII Ukrainian fascists who collaborated with the Nazis

“Were not afraid and went into the forest with their automatic rifles to kill Jews, Russian, and other filth’.

He has also called for the ”cleansing’ of Ukraine of ‘Russkie-Yid (jewish) mafia’ and praised the convicted Nazi mass murderer John Demjanjukas a ‘hero’.

Following the surprise attack by the fascist Japanese government on the American naval base at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt began his speech to the American Congress:with these words:

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

After that speech, the American government and people joined with the Soviet Union, China, Britain, Canada, and other nations in the momentous struggle to defeat fascism and its attempt to impose its racist ideology, holocaust, and tyranny on the whole world.  

Yesterday, the day that U.S.-state-supported fascists beat civilians with chains and clubs and burned them to death in a trade union hall in the Ukraine – this also is a day that will live in infamy.

Image: Military PSYOPS in Europe: 1) German Combat Camera Team CCT – Combat Camera is a PSYOPS Center controlled function in Bundeswehr. 2) German and Belgian Tactical Psyops Team patch. 3) German OPINFO Team Kunduz – PSYOPS Team 4) NATO ISAF patch 5) Non Kinetic Working Group Advisory Team – 109th AFGHAN Corps. Non Kinetic Warfare – an interesting term comprising CIMIC, INFO OPS AND PSYOPS 6) Regional Command Public Affairs Office 7) Tactical PSYOPS Team Task Force Northern Lights TPT 6C23 8) NATO INFO OPS ISAF 9) ISAF INFO OPS 10) German IEB – Intercultural Ops Advisor – part of the German OPINFO Center. Image: oefoif.forumotion.net

The United States is working closely with members of the NATO club in Eastern Europe to help the junta in Ukraine better manage its propaganda effort, U.S. News & World Report said on Thursday.

“We are starting some projects together with others, understanding the time factor is of the essence,” Janis Sarts, the state secretary of defense in Latvia, told the news magazine. Asked if the plan includes sending troops and trainers to Ukraine, Sarts said, “Yes. I think that would help.” He added the United States is currently involved in discussions.

The Pentagon, however, refused to comment on any possible mission “that would help Ukrainians to deal with the propaganda that is going on,” as Sarts characterized Russian reportage on the political and military crisis.

NATO, however, is more forthcoming, although it prefers to speak in generalities. “NATO Allies are actively considering ways to further strengthen our long-standing cooperation with Ukraine, including in the area of public diplomacy,” a NATO official said. “Allies are also providing assistance to Ukraine on a bilateral basis.”

NATO’s use of the phrase “public diplomacy” is significant. The term was coined during the Cold War when the United States engaged in a concerted propaganda effort to influence public opinion on the Soviet Union. Public diplomacy is defined as “white propaganda” whereas psychological operations are considered black propaganda. “Bottom line, however, is that propaganda is an instrument of war used by a government, primarily but not exclusively, against a present or possibly future enemy,” writes John Brown.

The former U.S. ambassador to Moscow and current deputy secretary-general of NATO, Alexander Vershbow, confirmed the discussion, but did not provide details. He said “I honestly don’t know” if troops from Western nations would be involved in any PSYOPS effort in Ukraine. Vershbow said there is “nothing that would preclude that, but it could also be done in the home country [of participating nations], in Latvia or any other country that might provide that.” He added there is nothing preventing the United States from providing Ukraine with military assistance.

U.S. News & World Report said in addition to disseminating propaganda inside Ukraine, the United States and NATO need to transmit information to the Russian people.

The CIA and the U.S. State Department have ample experience in propaganda dissemination. CIA director Allen Dulles and investment banker Frank Altschul established the National Committee for a Free Europe in 1949. Its Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty operations broadcast anti-communist propaganda into the Soviet Union. The CIA implementation of surrogate radio stations was a key part of a larger psychological effort during the Cold War.

Paul D. Shinkman writes for U.S. News & World Report, a magazine owned by CFR member and bankster advisor Mortimer Zuckerman:

The need to send a message to its citizens and to Russia alike reflects a cold truth in eastern Ukraine, where many lived through the Cold War and learned to speak the prerequisite Russian. Daily, the message on TV, radio and 21st century sources of information amounts to this: ”The fascists are taking over from Kiev. They really want to come and get us.”

It stems from what experts call an extremely aggressive propaganda campaign on behalf of the Russian government that seeks to rob targeted communities of any news coming out of the West, and replace it with its own version of the facts.

U.S. officials and top leadership at NATO, including Vershbow, say there are no muddling interpretations or shades of gray. Russia is flat out lying to the people it hopes to conquer in a desperate attempt to foment fear and submission.

Ultra-nationalists and fascists undoubtedly play an important role in the Ukrainian regime, including running its security serviceRussian-speaking citizens have been targeted, most notably by legislation following the U.S. State Department fomented coup.

Despite a coordinated effort by the establishment media in the United States to minimize the fascist character of the regime, Russian and other networks have reported on these and other aspects. Russian media has undoubtedly put a spin on coverage. Its contribution to the flow of information, however, has denied the establishment media in the United States the ability to dominate the story and shape it in an effort to enhance its political objectives.

Image: Barack Obama (Wiki Commons).

Amidst new revelations concerning emails that show the Obama administration conspired to create a phony narrative around the Benghazi attacks, the true purpose behind the cover-up is being obfuscated – the fact that an annex near the U.S. embassy was being used by the CIA to transfer surface to air missiles to terrorists in Syria.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa today issued a subpoena for Secretary of State John Kerry to testify before the committee on May 21 about Benghazi following the release of emails by Judicial Watch which show that the White House crafted a deceptive policy to falsely frame the attack as a spontaneous protest sparked by a YouTube video in order to protect Barack Obama’s image.

Lost in the haze of claims and counter claims is the real reason why the White House is desperate to prevent the attack from coming under any further scrutiny – because it would likely reveal an arms smuggling scandal that could rival Iran-Contra.

In May last year, Senator Rand Paul was one of the first to speculate that the truth behind Benghazi was linked to an illicit arms smuggling program that saw weapons being trafficked to terrorists in Syria as part of the United States’ proxy war against the Assad regime.

“I’ve actually always suspected that, although I have no evidence, that maybe we were facilitating arms leaving Libya going through Turkey into Syria,” Paul told CNN, adding that he “never….quite understood the cover-up — if it was intentional or incompetence”.

At the same time it emerged that the U.S. State Department had hired an Al-Qaeda offshoot organization, the February 17th Martyrs Brigade, to “defend” the Benghazi Mission months before the attack.

Senator Paul was vindicated less than three months later when it emerged that the CIA had been subjecting its operatives to monthly polygraph tests in an effort to keep a lid on details of the arms smuggling operation being leaked.

On August 1, CNN reported that dozens of CIA agents were on the ground in Benghazi during the attack and that the polygraph tests were mandated in order to prevent operatives from talking to Congress or the media about a program that revolved around “secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.”

Although the Obama administration is now openly arming the Syrian rebels, it has been keen to stress that such weaponry has been restricted to so-called “moderate” fighters, despite the fact that it is now widely acknowledged that Al-Qaeda is by far the most potent fighting force in Syria and indeed commands all the other militant groups.

The real truth behind Benghazi is likely to reveal that the Obama administration knowingly and deliberately provided surface to air missiles and other weapons to the most bloodthirsty Al-Qaeda jihadists in Syria who are now busy crucifying Christians while promising to bring their reign of terror to the west.

If a proper investigation into the Benghazi attacks uncovered concrete evidence of this arms smuggling scandal, Obama would face impeachment and many members of his administration would be facing long stretches in prison.

That’s the real reason why the White House is desperate to bury Benghazi.

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Sophisticated US Weapons for Al Qaeda Mercenaries in Syria

May 3rd, 2014 by Global Research News

Syria’s foreign-backed opposition says it is going to ask the United States for “sophisticated” weapons for use by its militants against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

On Friday, the so-called Syrian National Coalition said foreign-backed opposition leader Ahmad Jarba was set to travel to the US on Wednesday to seek more weapons.

“Ahmad Jarba will pay an eight-day visit to Washington at the head of a delegation from May 7,” his office said in a statement.

It added that the delegation includes the new chief of staff of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir.

“He will meet US officials to discuss the supply of sophisticated weapons to the FSA to enable it to change the balance on the ground,” read the statement.

Jarba will meet with a number of US officials including US Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, according to the statement.

The announcement came just weeks after the opposition admitted that a “Western source” supplied them with 20 US-made TOW anti-tank missiles, vowing more of them in the future.

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. Over 150,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced due to the violence fueled by Western-backed militants.

According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

Western headlines have attempted to spin into ambiguity the death of over 30 anti-fascist Ukrainian protesters cornered and burned to death in the Trade Unions House in the southern port city of Odessa. The arson was carried out by Neo-Nazi mobs loyal to the unelected regime now occupying Kiev.

Both the London Guardian and the BBC attempted in their coverage to make the perpetrators and circumstances as ambiguous as possible before revealing paragraphs down that pro-regime mobs had indeed torched the building. And even still, the Western press has attempted to omit the presence of Right Sector, the militant wing of the current regime charged with carrying out political intimidation and violence against Kiev’s opponents.

Odessa, north of pro-Russian Crimea, and far west of where clashes are now taking place in eastern Ukraine, has also been a point of contention between Kiev and Ukrainians who refuse to recognize the unelected regime’s authority.

Right Sector, a Neo-Nazi militant group who spearheaded the so-called “Euromaidan” protests, has been visibly operating in Odessa in recent weeks. It’s primary role has been to attack and intimidate political opponents planning to run in upcoming elections. It was therefore already present an well established in Odessa ahead of the attack on the Trade Unions House resulting in dozens of deaths in a single day, and as part of a wider campaign to put down multiplying unrest erupting across the country.

Right Sector can be identified by its members openly wearing Nazi insignia, as well as carrying crimson and black banners. Mobs supporting the Svoboda party are also present among recent clashes, wearing yellow armbands with the Nazi wolfangel symbol upon them.

For NATO – War or Nothing? 

The clashes in Odessa in the south and Slavyansk in the east, appear to some to be part of an escalating conflict meant to lure neighboring Russia into a direct conflict with the NATO-backed regime in Kiev. While this is possible, a repeat of the 2008 Georgia-South Ossetia War would most likely take place, with superior Russian forces quickly overwhelming Ukrainian troops and leaving Kiev vulnerable to inevitable regime change.

Immensely unpopular and wholly illegitimate, the regime in Kiev stands little chance in any upcoming election. It is also faced with the self-imposed economic ruination of Ukraine, after willfully accepting IMF conditions which include crippling austerity measures that will only further diminish the regime’s support and stability.

With a socioeconomically hobbled Ukraine still reeling from the loss of Crimea, the “Ukraine” the US and EU had invested in through their “Euromaidan” putsch, no longer exists. With anti-fascist, pro-Russian sentiment running high across what remains of Ukraine (and around the world), and an unpopular regime teetering precariously in Kiev, the West appears instead, intent on burning the country rather than leave it a stable and beneficial neighbor for Russia. 

World Affairs Journal has recently lamented in an article titled, “Beyond Crimea: What Vladimir Putin Really Wants,” that:

Ukraine is lost. At least lost as many of us had once imagined it—as a potential member of the European Union and, perhaps one day, of NATO.

This sentiment has been repeated across NATO’s corporate-funded think-tank, the Atlantic Council which recently hosted its “Europe Whole and Free” forum – where the expansion of both the European Union and NATO were the focus. The disruption of this expansion, and perhaps even the threat of its reversal appears to weigh foremost on the minds of Western policy makers.

Creating a disaster along Russia’s borders in Ukraine, while attempting to make progress elsewhere, and thus alleviating itself from the promises it made the regime in Kiev upon its accession to power to “rebuild” Ukraine’s troubled economy, appears to be the current agenda.

Responsibility to Protect? 

The United States had used the “responsibility to protect” doctrine as cover for regime change in Libya, and attempted regime change in Syria. All the while it was fabricating atrocities to sway public opinion, it was in reality fueling sectarian extremists who were in reality carrying out the crimes against humanity the West was accusing Libya and Syria of perpetrating in fiction. This formula has been spun around in Ukraine. 

Now the West is expending resources to cover up atrocities to prevent the “responsibility to protect” from being invoked against them. The massacre in Odessa would have been marked as a turning point by the West for military intervention had it not been their own proxies who carried it out. Instead, the US has claimed, according to the BBC, that ongoing violence carried out by the regime in Kiev is “proportionate and reasonable.”

With the West not only covering up the atrocities being carried out by the regime in Kiev, but in fact aiding and abetting them, the violence will only escalate further. Beyond Odessa, helicopter gunships, armored columns, and special forces have been sent by Kiev into eastern Ukraine and are attempting to overrun and occupy towns and cities that refuse to recognize the unelected regime. This includes the city of Slavyansk where deaths have been reported on both sides and military aircraft have been shot down.

Ukraine is being pushed to the edge of a much larger and destructive conflict that if started, may be difficult to stop. If the West commits to a proxy war and has been able to mobilize enough militants to carry it out, it can leave Ukraine a destabilized failed state Russia may spend years managing. Russia’s attempts to deescalate the conflict have been met only by belligerence from the West. Its patience, and the patience of pro-Russian factions in Ukraine may be the only factor that helps push Ukraine back from that edge.

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

Looking back,  the whole debacle might have been avoided – if only certain actors had behaved differently.

On February 21st, against the background of the deadly violence of the previous two days in which over 100 people had been killed by sniper fire, the Yanukovych regime and the leadership of the three main political players in the rebellion came to an agreement.

The agreement was accepted by the opposition because, in the circumstances, it made very considerable concessions – including early elections, a full amnesty for all protestors and, critically, a full and open EU-led enquiry into the recent deadly violence. Even the racist, homophobic and ethno-nationalist Svoboda party accepted the terms.

The agreement was brokered by the Polish, German and French governments, and the assumption was that it had the de facto support of the US regime. In subsequent statements, the Russians regularly referred to the agreement as the baseline for any progress in resolving divisions over the Ukraine. It was the only point of agreement between all parties. Well, all parties except one.

The very next day, the far-right ‘political soldiers’ element on the Maidan, buoyed by a growing sense of its own political power, rejected the agreement and launched a series of attacks that led to the craven flight of the Yanukovych leadership and the dubiously legal ‘impeachment’ of Yanukovych by the opposition parties, who then installed an interim government led by the ex-banker Yatsenyuk. The government, critically, contained members from Svoboda, a party that grew out of the former pro-Nazi Social National Party.

There and then, the USA and the EU should have said no to the fascists and required that the Svoboda group be ejected from the regime.

Svoboda is a party that gained 10% of the vote in the 2012 Rada election, less than the Ukrainian Communist Party.

So why was it tolerated in the regime?

The answer is that although it only represents a small section of the Ukraine overall, it represents a much larger section of the Ukrainians who were fighting the Berkut in the street and who overthrew the regime. The physical base of the regime, particularly in the early days, had a considerable ethno-nationalist, far-right element.

The USA/EU had clearly made a calculated decision to turn a blind eye to this element as long as it meant a regime that would finally bring the Ukraine into the Atlanticist bloc.

This was a critical error of judgement that, as will be shown, became a major factor in the Crimean and Donbas rebellion.

Throughout these events, the average consumer of Atlanticist media could have been forgiven for demonstrating complete ignorance of a number of critical facts. These would include the fact that the putsch regime had come to power on the coat tails of a far-right mob and the fact that the regime had placed the former leader of a gang of neo-nazi football hooligans in charge of National Security. But perhaps even more importantly, the average viewer of CNN or the BBC would have been largely ignorant of the fact that there were many millions of Ukrainians who not only played no part in this process, but who in fact had every reason to be strongly opposed to what had happened in what was, at least at that point, still their country too.

This ignorance was understandable, because all the Atlanticist media had really proffered was a montage of events designed to conform to  the typical Atlanticist narrative structure deployed in situations where regime change is in Atlanticist interests. The storyline in these situations is a simple form of civilizational chauvinism  – the victory of ‘western civilisation’, as represented by the USA, EU and NATO, is morally and historically ineluctable. All those who resist are morally bankrupt and will lose. This is what has happened in the Ukraine, and what is inevitable and right must therefore  be for the good.

The problem is – it isn’t true. What happened in the Ukraine was that an Atlanticist backed regime containing far-right elements had come to power on the back of a violent uprising in which far-right elements had played a critical part.  The USA/EU gamble was based on the Putin regime, Russian public opinion, and the pan-Russian and communist/socialist elements in the Ukraine, simply accepting the right of the Nationalist and right wing part of the Ukraine, together with the Atlanticists, to determine all of the Ukraine’s fate.

The gamble failed miserably.

Fast forward to May Day 2014. To the east of Ukraine, Russia has deployed a significant military capability, to the west and the north, NATO has increased its military capability. The Atlanticists have imposed sanctions against Russian individuals and corporations supposedly close to the Putin regime. Russia has experienced significant capital outflow and a drop over the forecast growth for Q1, but is not budging. The Crimea is long gone, and is now part of Russia. It wasn’t even mentioned in the Geneva agreement.

The Donbas is in a state of revolt, with armed rebels occupying strategic locations in over 10 towns and cities, including Donetsk, the industrial hub of the Ukraine – the Donbas region generates close to 30% of Ukraine’s GDP.  There is considerable support for the Donbas rebellion amongst the local security forces, who are offering hardly any opposition. The Ukraine is planning to introduce military conscription, and the Putin regime is threatening that any action against Russian interests, in which it includes action against ethnic Russians in the Donbas, may result in military intervention. In Kiev, Right Sector fascists still occupy public buildings and are still acting out their fascist fantasies in night-time torch-lit parades. Meanwhile, the average Ukrainian of whatever political stripe is facing vicious austerity imposed by IMF ‘conditionalities’.

It is utterly facile to blame Russia for this. If Russia, and the Crimean and Donbas rebels, are to blame for anything, it is refusing to lie down and be dictated to by the Ukrainian nationalists and their Atlanticist backers. Did Nuland, McCain and the other siren voices of one-eyed Atlanticist support for the nationalist rising ever stop to consider how it would play out against Ukraine’s cultural, linguistic and political fault-lines? Did they expect the Crimea – a region that has consistently supported the irredentist cause ever since the 1991 independence of Ukraine – to just accept their new Ukrainian nationalist rulers? Did they expect the left-wing and pan-Russian elements in the south and east of Ukraine to accept a government that included some who identify with the former Galician SS and the Nazi invasion of  the Soviet Union?

The Ukrainian regime and its Atlanticist backers are becoming increasingly desperate in their attempts to whip up opinion against the Donbas rebels and the Putin regime. This reached an absolute nadir with the obviously fraudulent anti-Semitic ‘registration notice’ episode, which Kerry even saw fit to raise at the Geneva negotiations. Yatsenyuk then went on US television to accuse Putin of wanting to resurrect the Soviet Union (he doesn’t). The Ukrainian government has even accused Putin of wanting to start World War 3 (he doesn’t).  This is the stuff of desperation.

One wonders whether Kerry has actually seen or read any of the banners that currently adorn public buildings throughout the Donbas. Many of them have a common theme – opposition to fascism. Has it not crossed Kerry’s mind that the USA lost all credibility with these elements when, together with the EU, it  supported a regime containing fascists and failed to condemn the continued fascist occupations of public spaces in Kiev?

Does Kerry realise that whereas possibly 100,000 Ukrainians fought with the Germans in WW2, around 2 million fought with the Soviet Union and that, in the Donbas, this is part of a shared historical tradition, ingrained for generations and strongly associated with the pan-Russian identity, that makes the presence of fascists in the Ukrainian putsch regime highly inflammatory.  It seems that the one thing that the Atlanticist bloc cannot face up to is that if you were to ask the rebels and their supporters what it is they are fighting against, they would tell you they are fighting against fascism.

And in the Ukraine the US government and the EU are on the same side as the fascists.

Lionel Reynolds writes the www.dispatchesfromempire.com blog

The IMF’s Board of Directors has just approved a US$ 17 billion loan package to ‘rescue’ Ukraine from dire economic consequences, like a 5% GDP contraction in 2014, predicted by the same gurus of the IMF. This loan is part of a two-year US$ 27 billion package which is supposed to include numerous loans from the EU.

The money, of course, comes with strings attached–raising taxes, freezing minimum wage, cutting pensions (by 50%) and energy subsidies – the usual hardship conditions the world is cowardly and silently witnessing with a downtrodden Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain. For the next steps, tranches two and three, privatization of state enterprises, massive firing of state employees, international contracts for exploitation of natural resources – one of which is Ukraine’s huge agricultural potential – will most certainly follow.

By then Ukraine, will be ripe to do the bidding for NATO. – So thinks the west. That’s their game plan. Fortunately people, societies and history are dynamic not linear. The western leaders with their bought propaganda media have been hoodwinking the populace into believing that the world functions like computer models – which do not include human consciousness that eventually may evolve according to values innate in mankind but have been oppressed by a system of exploitation for greed.

The first tranche of the 17 billion – US$ 3.2 billion is to be disbursed immediately, in other words to the illegitimate Ukrainian interim government – which is an act of financial crime committed by an international financial institution, created under the Charter of the UN – an institution that has long ago seized to respect the rules under which it has been founded, but functions as a mere extended arm of the US Treasury. This institution and the EU are hastening indebting Ukraine – even before the country has a legitimate government, to make it dependent on the abusive western banking system, regardless of what the new government after the 25 May elections will decide.

CNBC  and other western and Asian news outlets quote from an IMF staff report

“Should the central government lose effective control over the east, the program will need to be re-designed.”

In other words:

“Go to war with your pro-Russian Ukrainian brothers, otherwise you won’t get the money!”

The report further says that

If the government loses control of the east, it would further erode the country’s finances and damage Ukraine’s ability to attract investment.”

In other words – You will then need more of our debt-money, but at even harsher conditions.

In other words, the IMF insists, that Kiev takes control of Eastern Ukraine, lest the rescue package will be ‘reconsidered’, or redesigned – or scrapped altogether.

This is pure blackmailing a desperate government, coercing it into a civil war – into sending its troops to fight and kill its compatriots in the east, whose only ‘fault’ is that they want independence from the racist neo-Nazi Washington-supported government of thugs – that came to power after a 5 billion dollar ten-year effort for regime change, instigated by the United States of America.

The IMF now appears to also play the role of a proxy warrior for Washington’s assassin-in-chief. It is almost unbelievable. But in today’s manipulated and brainwashed western population, war becomes peace, because according to the Washington Post “War is brutal, but the alternative is worse.” And “Wars make us safer and richer”. http://www.globalresearch.ca/war-is-peace-it-makes-us-rich-and-safe-or-so-says-the-mainstream-media/5379762

These are the new values promoted by the presstitute mainstream media. – Who is surprised, then, if the IMF now in addition tosuffocating populations with burdens of debt, is coercing them into civil wars, killing themselves.

 If not stopped, it won’t be long before a small military corporate and banking elite will be reigning over a reduced population serving them as serfs.

But there is hope. The BRICS and associates (also called BRICSA) – controlling about a third of the world’s GDP and half of the world’s population– are preparing an alternative monetary system with a new money to be used for international trading and as reserve currency, including a new international payment system that would be totally detached from the dollar dominated sham economy.

This new paradigm for world economy and finance most likely will be welcome and attract many nations which are now in submission and for fear of ‘sanctions’ in the camp of the bully.

But most of them quietly wish for the collapse of the monster – just waiting to break loose when it happens. The world may look forward to emerging from ages of darkness into an era of light, into the prosperity of living in peace and harmony with each other and with Mother Earth.

Peter Koenig is an economist and former World Bank staff. He worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for the Voice of Russia, Global Research and ICH, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe

When Prime Minister David Cameron pulls a stunt, or indeed, announces a “ground breaking” new policy, it is pretty well guaranteed to back fire. Indeed, his coalition government policy U-turns are heading for encyclopedic.(1)

Is he opportunistic, spineless – or a lethal combination of the two? In opposition, to prove his “green credentials” he headed for the Arctic for a photo-op with Huskies, leaping: “aboard a Husky-powered sled to visit a remote Norwegian glacier to see first hand the effects of global warming.” As the (UK) Telegraph put it at the time: “Cameron turns blue to prove green credentials.”(2)

In office, the environment is an inconvenience rather than a concern. Protected historic sites of natural beauty, ancient woodlands and sites of special scientific interest are to be sacrificed to quick-build homes in their thousands and a multi billion £ train line that cuts mere minutes off journeys hours long. Homes are needed, but the country is filled with sturdily built abandoned office blocks, warehouses, large homes, smaller ones, which could be restored, converted, refurbished and landscaped at a fraction of the cost, without destroying the irreplaceable.

Ironically, homes across the country are anyway at threat. Cameron has thrown the country open to fracking with the manic enthusiasm of an alcoholic given the run of a liquor warehouse. Never mind that there have already been a few earthquakes linked to fracking and that the scientific evidence of the massive dangers are ever mounting.

Public and scientific concerns are to be over-ridden to the extent that Cameron is to rule that fracking companies can drill on privately owned land and even under people’s homes, with the land and home owners having no say. Huskies and “green” are a distant memory for the Prime Minister.

Last year Downing Street denied reports that David Cameron ordered aides to “get rid of all the green crap“ in policies. Never believe anything until it has been officially denied”, advised the late, great journalist, Claud Cockburn.

However, Husky stunts long forgotten, his new prop is God. And it is not going too well. Following an Easter reception for Christians at his Downing Street residence (3) he wrote an article in the Church Times (4) in which he argues that: “… faith … compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives … the Christian values  (include) charity, compassion … Christians … are the driving force behind some of the most inspiring social-action projects in our country (playing) a fundamental role in our society. So being confident about our Christianity we should also be ambitious in supporting faith-based organizations to do even more.”

Cameron urged:

“…  supporting local projects. I welcome the efforts of all those who help to feed, clothe … the poorest in our society (inspiring) belief we can get out there and change people’s lives … to improve our society … tackle poverty …”

He also welcomed: “the debate with church leaders” on the issues, especially in the desire: “not to write anyone off” and anticipated seeing: “our churches as partners. If we pull together, we can change the world and make it a better place.” The article was entitled: “My Faith in the Church of England.”

As ever with Cameron words and deeds are a parallel universe. In his rural Oxfordshire constituency, on the day the article was published, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard and the Revd Keith Hebden were absolutely committed to helping “feed, clothe, tackle poverty” and making Britain, their part of the word, “a better place.” Indeed, Revd Hebden had fasted for the forty days and nights of Lent in solidarity with those who find themselves in the direst straights, often as the result of the Cameron led government’s ferocious welfare cuts.

In context, the cuts are cited as being largely responsible for nearly a million people, including over 300,000 children, having been given charity emergency food in the last year, by one charity alone, the Trussel Trust.

Shockingly, at least 4.7 million people living in food poverty in the UK, roughly one in thirteen – yet London has the fifth largest city economy in the world, is the world’s leading financial centre, regarded as a “command centre” for the global economy. (“Economy of London”, Wikipedia.)

The Trust cites the reason for people turning to food banks as the result of impoverishment by the welfare changes, with some recipients having had their only income completely severed. Ironically this by a Prime Minister and Cabinet largely comprised of millionaires and a Parliament whose meals and hefty £400 per head monthly food allowance are subsidized by the taxpayer.

Poverty figures:

“understated the likely level of people going hungry, because they did not include thousands of people helped by non-Trussell food banks and soup kitchens, those who had no access to a food bank, those too ashamed to turn to charity food, or those who were coping by going without food …”

Their figures, state Trussel, were the “tip of the iceberg.”

An astonishing eighty three percent of recipients reported resorting to the food bank because their benefits had been completely cut, with the Trust also: “providing essentials like washing powder, nappies and hygiene products to struggling families.”(5)

So as the Prime Minister’s fine words were published the Bishop of Oxford and the Revd Hebden, walked with parishioners to his constituency office to deliver a letter signed by forty five of the UK’s fifty nine Bishops and six hundred vicars, urging action on food poverty. The office had been courtesy telephoned ahead to expect their visit.

The letter cited, at Easter, a terrible rise in hunger in Britain, and urged society to “begin rising to the challenge of this national crisis.”

They wrote:

“Hope is not an idle force. Hope drives us to act. It drives us to tackle the growing hunger in our midst. It calls on each of us, and government too, to act to make sure that work pays … and that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.”

The parishioners waiting across the road, the Bishop and Revd  Hebden approached to door. Not only was it closed, but the police were called. This, as Keith Hebden pointed out, shortly after Cameron had called on those of faith to be more “evangelical” and said that his concept of a “Big Society” was continuing Jesus’ work. A comment, of angry hundreds, in the Independent wrote: “Jesus could have gone to give the letter in. They would have done the same.” Another: “There is only one word for David Cameron and I can’t type it here.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Oxford, the following day the Prime Minister dug himself in even deeper.

“I wasn’t at the office, but my door is always open to the Bishop of Oxford.” Then: “The British government is leading the world in helping to end world hunger”, thus he had not even bothered to appraise himself that this was about British hunger, directly connected to his government’s policies.

Incidentally Britain has a “leading the world” complex. Successive Ministers and Prime Ministers are always “leading” it in declared scientific breakthroughs, medicine, agriculture, technology, childcare, dog walking, pencil sharpening, cheese grating, emery board development (I made the last few up) you name it. Then the latest pronouncement dies a death, never to be heard of again.

David Cameron’s constituency office, it would seem, has form in calling police on citizens attempting to bring about social improvement. In December 2010, twelve year old Nicky Wishart, who lives in the constituency was hauled out of an English class at school to be interviewed by the police.

Nicky had arranged on facebook, a protest of children of similar age outside Cameron’s office, against the closure of the local youth club, which also across the country were being targeted, in government cut-backs. His school was contacted by anti-terrorist officers.

He told the Guardian that the police officer:

“said even if I didn’t turn up I would be arrested and he also said that if David Cameron was in, his armed officers will be there ‘so if anything out of line happens …’  and then he stopped.”(6)

Three months later, in an address which should have shamed the Prime Minister the twelve year old spoke at a mass rally organized by Trade Union UNISON against the “catastrophic cuts” in youth and other services, including libraries.

He said of the youth club, a social life-line for him and friends:

“ I use it three times a week, which is a lot in a five-day working week. If it’s closed I won’t do anything – sit indoors, or hang around on the streets.

“I also use the local library which is also threatened with closure. I’ve got two younger brothers, one was born last Friday and one who is three, and both of them are never going to have a chance to know what a youth club is like.”

He told the Oxford Times of the Centre for which he had also raised £150 with various initiatives various towards it’s costs: “The youth centre means loads to me. It’s the only thing we have to do in Eynsham.” A twelve year old that should truly shame Cameron, his Cabinet and their shameful cuts.

In January this year, Nicky Wishart, now fifteen, with two friends, Tyler Walker and Ollie Hinchliffe were honoured by the same police force that threatened Nicky for his public spirited action over the youth club.

Sitting on a bench in the local park together, they noticed an elderly man in trouble in a nearby stream. They ran to help, called the emergency services and tried to revive him when he became unconscious. He died later in hospital.

The widow June Gwilliam, 85, called for an Award for the three, who had given help and comfort when it was so needed. They were honoured at a special presentation at police headquarters. David Cameron wrote to congratulate them. Another day, another bandwagon after a disgraceful response to a courageous and public spirited child who knew what conscience was.

Incidentally, the Prime Minister has come up with another cost cutting stunt: charging patients for crutches, walking sticks and neck braces – but he has reportedly personally intervened to keep the price of a gun licence at a mere £50 annually, static since 2001. See the full, mind stretching Cameron priority list at (9.) “Kill not cure” comes to mind.

Charity of any kind is clearly not Cameron’s brand of Christian faith. Oh, and of the barring of the Bishop and his colleague, Cameron told Radio Oxford: “Sorry if there was a misunderstanding, but to be fair to the police and people in the office, we get some interesting characters turning up from time to time.”

When in a hole, Prime Minister, stop digging.

Notes

1. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/28/coalition-u-turn-list-full

2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1516276/Cameron-turns-blue-to-prove-green-credentials.html

3. http://www.globalresearch.ca/tony-blair-george-w-bush-and-david-cameron-hi-jacking-god/5377707

4. http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/17-april/comment/opinion/my-faith-in-the-church-of-england

5. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/apr/16/million-people-britain-food-banks-religious-leaders-faith-groups

6. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/dec/10/schoolboy-quizzed-cameron-office-picket

7.http://www.witneygazette.co.uk/news/national/news/8850063.Boy_voices_fears_over_service_cuts/

8.http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/yourtown/witney/10976402.Teens_honoured_for_trying_to_save_man/?ref=rss

9. http://www.monbiot.com/2014/04/28/the-shooting-party/

Israeli military has established a new missile system in the occupied Golan Heights for supporting militant groups in Syria and prevent Syria’s national army from retaking occupied areas.

According to the Israeli Channel 1 television, ‘security sources’ informed of a new missile system named ‘Mitar’, established in Golan for giving backup coverage to anti-Syria militant groups.

The system includes middle-range and long-range missiles, according to the report.

The Arabic language Rai al-Youm wrote the Israeli regime wants to repeat a scenario in Syria borders, like the one in south Lebanon with Antoine Lahad who is seen by many in Lebanon as a traitor who left country’s border to the Israeli regime during Israel invasion of southern Lebanon.

Lahad became head of South Lebanon Army in 1984. He cooperated with Israeli regime for two decades against the resistance movement which battled against Israeli occupation.

The Israel move comes as Syria’s foreign backed opposition has been mulling ‘selling’ Golan Heights to Israel in return for military aid.

Israel has been one of the greatest supporters of the war in Syria and has been making military provocations along Syrian borders, especially in the Golan.

Secretive Airborne Police Surveillance in California

May 3rd, 2014 by Andrew J. Santos

The revelation concerning a secretive airborne surveillance test in Compton, CA is disturbing. The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department via “Persistent Surveillance Systems”, spied on residents in Compton, CA for nine days in 2012.[1]

Unlike the mirrored pilot program in Lancaster, CA, the citizens of Compton were unaware of this surveillance because the sheriff department and private contractor kept it hidden. The spying was accomplished by utilizing a Cessna mounted with high resolution cameras.

This technology is from Persistent Surveillance Systems which maintained and recorded a live video feed of the entire city of Compton. According to Persistent Surveillance owner Ross McNutt, this surveillance technology is able to capture 10,000 times the area as compared to a standard police helicopter.[2] That feat is impressive, but that is to be expected as this technology was used militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq to look for terrorists.[3]

The characteristics of this technology begs the question:

why is battlefield technology being used on residents of an American city and without their knowledge?

What has been the response from officials following these revelations? In regards to the surveillance in Compton, Sgt. Iketani of the LASD stated,

“a lot of people have a problem with […] Big Brother, so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it hush-hush”.[4]

Not only is this official response condescending, but it is also a confession to violating Article 1, Section 1 of the California State Constitution.

The audacity of governmental officials to respond in this fashion is a metaphorical slap in the face to every resident in the city of Compton, as well as to every other American. There was an outcry of privacy violations following the confirmation of the NSA’s mass internet surveillance, known as PRISM.[5]

The surveillance of Compton is even more draconian because it goes further than being wiretapped from behind a computer screen. The medium of surveillance can now include aerial surveillance of every movement that an individual makes. This is a strong characteristic of a police-state.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution has been blatantly violated under the veneer of a pilot test. Knowing that we are being wiretapped when we are connected to the internet provoked a great backlash from individuals of all political backgrounds, but where is the outrage now? Compton, CA is treated as if it were a battlefield in the Middle-East. For nine days, residents in the city of Compton experienced a fuller effect of the Patriot Act compared to the rest of America. Why was this covert operation executed in the city of Compton?

Compton has a reputation of being a city of inhabitants who are poor, lacking education, engaging in various forms of crimes, and whom Latinos, Blacks, and Pacific-Islanders make up virtually the entirety of the city. Compton was chosen as a strategic geographical location for aerial reconnaissance because the city serves as a litmus test for a nationwide roll out. This exercise is a means to gauge public response to such technology being used within American cities. Presumably, the city of Compton with its notorious gangster image, as popularized through the Corporate Media, will allow for a soft-launch with minimal critical response. Who wants to defend the Constitutional rights for those who are assumed to be guilty of some crime?

With no doubt, some portion of Americans will be pleased to hear that poor socio-economic cities, such as Compton, are under police surveillance since the majority of their inhabitants must be guilty until proven innocent. They will claim that cities like Compton are full of gang-bangers who commit crimes, leech off of taxpayers, and are not productive; so that in itself is probable cause for privacy invasion.  The negative prejudices against the poor and the ghetto is what the military-industrial complex and the prison-industrial complex is banking on, hoping that public opinion will accept this form of intrusion. The hate that some Americans have for people that live in Compton, and similar cities, is precisely the same hate that some Americans have against Middle Easterners which resulted in over 1 million deaths in the Unconstitutional Iraq War,[6] and the reduction of liberty within the United States. If this pilot test by government and private interests are accepted, then expect to live with this aerial form of data gathering soon.

To conclude, we have on record a private contractor spying on Compton, CA ,as sanctioned by the LASD. This latest example displays the militarization of policing and a step towards Martial Law in the United States of America. This nine day exercise of turning Compton into a police-state is not only an issue of privacy, but one that involves socio-economics and race, as I have just presented. Do not let negative preconceived notions about Compton and its’ inhabitants  prevent you from taking action against this new form of policing.

Notes:

[1] G.W. Schulz and Amanda Pike ,“Hollywood-style surveillance inches closer to reality” April 11,2014 http://cironline.org/reports/hollywood-style-surveillance-technology-inches-closer-reality-6228 

[2] Conor Friedersdorf “Eyes Over Compton: How Police Spied On A Whole City” April 21, 2014 http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/04/sheriffs-deputy-compares-drone-surveillance-of-compton-to-big-brother/360954/

[3] PBS Newshour “New police surveillance technology raises privacy concerns” April 28, 2014 http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/daily_videos/new-police-surveillance-technology-raises-privacy-questions/

[4] Angel Jennings, Richard Winton, and James Rainey “After secret air surveillance of Compton, mayor wants protections” April 24, 2014 http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-air-surveillance-compton-mayor-wants-protections-20140424,0,6911829.story#axzz30P4wuZJe

[5] ZDNet Community and Zack Whittaker “PRISM: Here’s how the NSA wiretapped the Internet” June 8, 2013 http://www.zdnet.com/prism-heres-how-the-nsa-wiretapped-the-internet-7000016565/

[6] Luke Baker “Iraq conflict has killed a million Iraqis: survey” Jan 30. 2008 http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/01/30/us-iraq-deaths-survey-idUSL3048857920080130

Andrew J. Santos holds a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Riverside

Energy Prices Manipulated

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says that JP Morgan has massively manipulated energy markets in  California and the Midwest, obtaining tens of millions of dollars in overpayments from grid operators between September 2010 and June 2011.

Pulitzer prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston notes today that Wall Street is trying to launch Enron 2.0:

The price of electricity would soar under the latest scheme by Wall Street financial engineers to game the electricity markets.

If regulators side with Wall Street — and indications are that they will — expect the cost of electricity to rise from Maine to California as others duplicate this scheme to manipulate the markets, as Enron did on the West Coast 14 years ago, before the electricity-trading company collapsed under allegations of accounting fraud and corruption.

The test case is playing out in New England. Energy Capital Partners, an investment group that uses tax-avoiding offshore investing techniques and has deep ties to Goldman Sachs, paid $650 million last year to acquire three generating plant complexes, including the second largest electric power plant in New England, Brayton Point in Massachusetts.

Five weeks after the deal closed, Energy partners moved to shutter Brayton Point. Why would anyone spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the second largest electric power plant in New England and then quickly take steps to shut it down?

Energy partners says in regulatory filings that the plant is so old and prone to breakdowns that it is not worth operating, raising the question of why such sophisticated energy-industry investors bought it.

The real answer is simple: Under the rules of the electricity markets, the best way to earn huge profits is by reducing the supply of power. That creates a shortage during peak demand periods, such as hot summer evenings and cold winter days, causing prices to rise. Under the rules of the electricity markets, even a tiny shortfall between the available supply of electricity and the demand from customers results in enormous price spikes.

With Brayton Point closed, New England consumers and businesses will spend as much as $2.6 billion more per year for electricity, critics of the deal suggest in documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

That estimate will turn out to be conservative, I expect, based on what Enron traders did to California, Oregon and Washington electricity customers starting in 2000. In California alone the short-term market manipulations cost each resident more than $1,300, a total burden of about $45 billion.

***

Public Citizen characterized the Energy partners explanation for the shutdown as absurd:

In the world of business, a firm announcing that an asset purchased just 5 weeks ago is actually uneconomical to operate would be called incompetent, and such a firm would have difficulty attracting capital and staying in business. But the managing partners of Energy Capital Partners are a highly sophisticated all-star crew of former Wall Street financiers: four of the five managing partners are Goldman Sachs veterans, and the firm’s vice-presidents and principals are alumni of JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Credit Suisse and other financial powerhouses. These are not your run-of-the-mill owners and operators of power plants. They are Wall Streeters highly motivated to exploit the intricacies of power markets to make as much money as possible for their Cayman Islands-based affiliates.

The record is clear that artificially reducing supply to jack up prices was the plan of Energy partners from the get-go. The strategy is obvious from auction records, as explained by Robert Clark of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 464.

“Almost immediately after acquiring ownership of the Brayton Point Power Station late last year,” Clark said, “[Energy partners] intentionally withheld all of Brayton Point’s capacity from [auction] for the purpose of reducing capacity supply and intentionally raising the market prices” that Energy partners and its competitors could charge for other New England generating capacity they already owned.

 

As shown below, Wall Street has manipulated virtually every other market as well – both in the financial sector and the real economy – and broken virtually every law on the books.

Interest Rates Are Manipulated

Bloomberg reported in January:

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc was ordered to pay $50 million by a federal judge in Connecticut over claims that it rigged the London interbank offered rate.

RBS Securities Japan Ltd. in April pleaded guilty to wire frauda s part of a settlement of more than $600 million with U.S and U.K. regulators over Libor manipulation, according to court filings. U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in New Haventoday sentenced the Tokyo-based unit of RBS, Britain’s biggest publicly owned lender, to pay the agreed-upon fine, according to a Justice Department Justice Department.

Global investigations into banks’ attempts to manipulate the benchmarks for profit have led to fines and settlements for lenders including RBS, Barclays Plc, UBS AG and Rabobank Groep.

RBS was among six companies fined a record 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) by the European Union last month for rigging interest rates linked to Libor. The combined fines for manipulating yen Libor and Euribor, the benchmark money-market rate for the euro, are the largest-ever EU cartel penalties.

Global fines for rate-rigging have reached $6 billion since June 2012 as authorities around the world probe whether traders worked together to fix Libor, meant to reflect the interest rate at which banks lend to each other, to benefit their own trading positions.

To put the Libor interest rate scandal in perspective:

  • Even though RBS and a handful of other banks have been fined for interest rate manipulation, Libor is still being manipulated. No wonder … the fines are pocket change – the cost of doing business – for the big banks

Indeed, the experts say that big banks will keep manipulating markets unless and until their executives are thrown in jail for fraud.

Why? Because the system is rigged to allow the big banks to commit continuous and massive fraud, and then to pay small fines as the “cost of doing business”. As Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz noted years ago:

“The system is set so that even if you’re caught, the penalty is just a small number relative to what you walk home with.

The fine is just a cost of doing business. It’s like a parking fine. Sometimes you make a decision to park knowing that you might get a fine because going around the corner to the parking lot takes you too much time.”

Experts also say that we have to prosecute fraud or else the economy won’t ever really stabilize.

But the government is doing the exact opposite. Indeed, the Justice Department has announced it will go easy on big banks, and always settles prosecutions for pennies on the dollar (a form of stealth bailout. It is also arguably one of the main causes of the double dip in housing.)

Indeed, the government doesn’t even force the banks to admit any guilt as part of their settlements.

Because of this failure to prosecute, it’s not just interest rates. As shown below, big banks have manipulated virtually every market – both in the financial sector and the real economy – and broken virtually every law on the books.

And they will keep on doing so until the Department of Justice grows a pair.

Currency Markets Are Rigged

Currency markets are massively rigged. And see this and this.

Derivatives Are Manipulated

The big banks have long manipulated derivatives … a $1,200 Trillion Dollar market.

Indeed, many trillions of dollars of derivatives are being manipulated in the exact same same way that interest rates are fixed: through gamed self-reporting.

Oil Prices Are Manipulated

Oil prices are manipulated as well.

Gold and Silver Are Manipulated

Gold and silver prices are “fixed” in the same way as interest rates and derivatives – in daily conference calls by the powers-that-be.

Bloomberg reports:

It is the participating banks themselves that administer the gold and silver benchmarks.

So are prices being manipulated? Let’s take a look at the evidence. In his book “The Gold Cartel,” commodity analyst Dimitri Speck combines minute-by-minute data from most of 1993 through 2012 to show how gold prices move on an average day (see attached charts). He finds that the spot price of gold tends to drop sharply around the London evening fixing (10 a.m. New York time). A similar, if less pronounced, drop in price occurs around the London morning fixing. The same daily declines can be seen in silver prices from 1998 through 2012.

For both commodities there were, on average, no comparable price changes at any other time of the day. These patterns are consistent with manipulation in both markets.

Commodities Are Manipulated

The big banks and government agencies have been conspiring to manipulate commodities prices for decades.

The big banks are taking over important aspects of the physical economy, including uranium mining, petroleum products, aluminum, ownership and operation of airports, toll roads, ports, and electricity.

And they are using these physical assets to massively manipulate commodities prices … scalping consumers of many billions of dollars each year.  More from Matt Taibbi, FDL and Elizabeth Warren.

Everything Can Be Manipulated through High-Frequency Trading

Traders with high-tech computers can manipulate stocks, bonds, options, currencies and commodities. And see this.

Manipulating Numerous Markets In Myriad Ways

The big banks and other giants manipulate numerous markets in myriad ways, for example:

  • Engaging in mafia-style big-rigging fraud against local governments. See this, this and this
  • Shaving money off of virtually every pension transaction they handled over the course of decades, stealing collectively billions of dollars from pensions worldwide. Details here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here
  • Pledging the same mortgage multiple times to different buyers. See this, this, this, this and this. This would be like selling your car, and collecting money from 10 different buyers for the same car
  • Pushing investments which they knew were terrible, and then betting against the same investments to make money for themselves. See this, this, this, this and this
  • Engaging in unlawful “Wash Trades” to manipulate asset prices. See this, this and this
  • Bribing and bullying ratings agencies to inflate ratings on their risky investments

The criminality and blatant manipulation will grow and spread and metastasize – taking over and killing off more and more of the economy – until Wall Street executives are finally thrown in jail.It’s that simple …

Washington Intends Russia’s Demise

May 3rd, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Washington has no intention of allowing the crisis in Ukraine to be resolved. Having failed to seize the country and evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base, Washington sees new opportunities in the crisis. 

One is to restart the Cold War by forcing the Russian government to occupy the Russian-speaking areas of present day Ukraine where protesters are objecting to the stooge anti-Russian government installed in Kiev by the American coup. These areas of Ukraine are former constituent parts of Russia herself.  They were attached to Ukraine by Soviet leaders in the 20th century when both Ukraine and Russia were part of the same country, the USSR.

Essentially, the protesters have established independent governments in the cities. The police and military units sent to suppress the protesters, called “terrorists” in the American fashion, for the most part have until now defected to the protesters.
With Obama’s incompetent White House and State Department having botched Washington’s takeover of Ukraine, Washington has been at work shifting the blame to Russia.  According to Washington and its presstitute media, the protests are orchestrated by the Russian government and have no sincere basis.
If Russia sends in military units to protect the Russian citizens in the former Russian territories, the act will be used by Washington to confirm Washington’s propaganda of a Russian invasion (asin the case of Georgia), and Russia will be further demonized.
The Russian government is in a predicament. Moscow does not want financial responsibility for these territories but cannot stand aside and permit Russians to be put down by force.  The Russian government has attempted to keep Ukraine intact, relying on the forthcoming elections in Ukraine to bring to office more realistic leaders than the stooges installed by Washington.  
However, Washington does not want an election that might replace its stooges and return to cooperating with Russia to resolve the situation.  There is a good chance that Washington will tell its stooges in Kiev to declare that the crisis brought to Ukraine by Russia prevents an election.  Washington’s NATO puppet states would back up this claim.
It is almost certain that despite the Russian government’s hopes, the Russian government is faced with the continuation of both the crisis and the Washington puppet government in Ukraine.
On May 1 Washington’s former ambassador to Russia, now NATO’s “second-in-command” but the person who, being American, calls the shots, has declared Russia to no longer be a partner but an enemy.  The American, Alexander Vershbow, told journalists that NATO has given up on “drawing Moscow closer” and soon will deploy a large number of combat forces in Eastern Europe. Vershbow called this aggressive policy deployment of “defensive assets to the region.”
In other words, here we have again the lie that the Russian government is going to forget all about its difficulties in Ukraine and launch attacks on Poland, the Baltic States, Romania., Moldova, and on the central Asian states of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The dissembler Vershbow wants to modernize the militaries of these American puppet states and “seize the opportunity to create the reality on the ground by accepting membership of aspirant countries into NATO.”
What Vershbow has told the Russian government is that you just keep on relying on Western good will and reasonableness while we set up sufficient military forces to prevent Russia from coming to the aid of its oppressed citizens in Ukraine.  Our demonization of Russia is working.  It has made you hesitant to act during the short period when you could preempt us and seize your former territories.  By waiting you give us time to mass forces on your borders from the Baltic Sea to Central Asia.  That will distract you and keep you from the Ukraine.  The oppression we will inflict on your Russians in Ukraine will discredit you, and the NGOs we finance in the Russian Federation will appeal to nationalist sentiments and overthrow your government for failing to come to the aid of Russians and failing to protect Russia’s strategic interests.
Washington is licking its chops, seeing an opportunity to gain Russia as a puppet state.
Will Putin sit there with his hopes awaiting the West’s good will to work out a solution while Washington attempts to engineer his fall?
The time is approaching when Russia will either have to act to terminate the crisis or accept an ongoing crisis and distraction in its backyard. Kiev has launched military airstrikes on protesters in Slavyansk.  On May 2 Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Kiev’s resort to violence had destroyed the hope for the Geneva agreement on de-escalating the crisis. Yet, the Russian government spokesman again expressed the hope of the Russian government that European governments and Washington will put a stop to the military strikes and pressure the Kiev government to accommodate the protesters in a way that keeps Ukraine togetherand restores friendly relations with Russia.
This is a false hope.  It assumes that the Wolfowitz doctrine is just words, but it is not.
The Wolfowitz doctrine is the basis of US policy toward Russia (and China). The doctrine regards any power sufficiently strong to remain independent of Washington’s influence to be “hostile.”  The doctrine states:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

The Wolfowitz doctrine justifies Washington’s dominance of all regions.  It is consistent with the neoconservative ideology of the US as the “indispensable” and “exceptional” country entitled to world hegemony.  

Russia and China are in the way of US world hegemony.  Unless the Wolfowitz doctrine is abandoned, nuclear war is the likely outcome.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter and Cyrus Vance in 1977. As Carter’s National Security Advisor, Brzezinski orchestrated a covert war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Photo: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Top level globalist and Rockefeller confidant Zbigniew Brzezinski has mounted the pages of Politico to call for more pointed U.S. involvement in Ukraine.

“It is more than a month since the Russians annexed Crimea, and recent events have only exacerbated the crisis, with pro-Russian rebels reportedly shooting down two Ukrainian helicopters in separatist-held Slaviansk on Friday. Yet the president still hasn’t laid out a comprehensive statement of what is really at stake,” writes the co-founder of the Trilateral Commission.

Indirectly calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “thug,” Brzezinski says “we have an obligation to help Ukraine.” He characterizes the crisis as “the most important challenge to the international system since the end of the Cold War” and tells Obama he desperately needs to issue “a comprehensive statement of what is really at stake” and address “the American people on this issue… He needs the support of the American people. Thus he has to convince them that this is important and that his stand deserves both national understanding and support.”

In late April, a Rasmussen Reports poll indicated nearly 60 percent of Americans believe the situation in Ukraine does not concern the United States. On April 28, a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll found Americans overwhelmingly oppose the idea of sending arms or military supplies to Ukraine.

Despite this disapproval by the American people, Brzezinski writes “we should be more open to helping the Ukrainians defend themselves if they’re attacked. The Ukrainians will fight only if they think they will eventually get some help from the West, particularly in supplies of the kind of weaponry that will be necessary to wage a successful urban defense. They’re not going to beat the Russians out in the open field, where thousands of tanks move in. They can only beat them through prolonged urban resistance. Then the war’s economic costs would escalate dramatically for the Russians, and it would become futile politically. But to be able to defend a city, you have to have handheld anti-tank weaponry, handheld rockets and some organization.”

Arizona Senator John McCain has led the call in Congress to arm the junta in Ukraine.

Brzezinski, a notorious Russophobe, employed a similar tactic when he was Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor. He was instrumental using U.S. taxpayer money to covertly arm the Afghan Mujahideen to fight against the Soviet Union. Factions within the Mujahideen would eventually become the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

In 1998, he told Le Nouvel Observateur the CIA’s “secret operation was an excellent idea” and “had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap” and “giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”

Asked if he regretted lending a hand in the creation of radical and terrorist Islamic groups, the ever testy Brzezinski replied: “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”

The State Department’s less than covert installation of a gang of ultra-nationalists and fascists in Kyiv is evidence enough the “liberation of Central Europe” – apparently, for Brzezinski, Russia is Eastern Europe – is an ongoing project.

Now that Brzezinski has issued a public statement on Ukraine and called for arming Russophobes in that country — many who have long expressed their desire to ethnically cleanse and kill not only Russians, but Jews and Poles (Brzezinski is Polish) — we can conclude the global elite have decided to foster a civil war along Russia’s western border.

Imagine if China were stationing large numbers of troops in the United States.  Imagine that most of them were based in a small rural county in Mississippi.  Imagine — this shouldn’t be hard — that their presence was problematic, that nations they threatened in Latin America resented the United States’ hospitality, and that the communities around the bases resented the noise and pollution and drinking and raping of local girls.

Now imagine a proposal by the Chinese government, with support from the federal government in Washington, to build another big new base in that same corner of Mississippi.  Imagine the governor of Mississippi supported the base, but just before his reelection pretended to oppose it, and after being reelected went back to supporting it.  Imagine that the mayor of the town where the base would be built made opposition to it the entire focus of his reelection campaign and won, with exit polls showing that voters overwhelmingly agreed with him.  And imagine that the mayor meant it.

Where would your sympathies lie? Would you want anyone in China to hear what that mayor had to say?

Sometimes in the United States we forget that there are heavily armed employees of our government permanently stationed in most nations on earth.  Sometimes when we remember, we imagine that the other nations must appreciate it.  We turn away from the public uproar in the Philippines as the U.S. military tries to return troops to those islands from which they were driven by public pressure.  We avoid knowing what anti-U.S. terrorists say motivates them, as if by merely knowing what they say we would be approving of their violence.  We manage not to know of the heroic nonviolent struggle underway on Jeju Island, South Korea, as residents try to stop the construction of a new base for the U.S. Navy. We live on oblivious to the massive nonviolent resistance of the people of Vicenza, Italy, who for years voted and demonstrated and lobbied and protested a huge new U.S. Army base that has gone right ahead regardless.

Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City, Okinawa, (population 61,000) is headed to the United States, where he may have to do a bit of afflicting the comfortable as he tries to comfort the afflicted back home.  Okinawa Prefecture has hosted major U.S. military bases for 68 years.  Over 73% of the U.S. troop presence in Japan is concentrated in Okinawa, which makes up a mere 0.6% of the Japanese land area.  As a result of public protest, one base is being closed — the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.  The U.S. government wants a new Marine base in Nago City.  The people of Nago City do not.

Inamine was first elected as mayor of Nago City in January 2010 promising to block the new base.  He was reelected this past January 19th still promising to block the base.  The Japanese government had worked hard to defeat him, but exit polls showed 68% of voters opposing the base, and 27% in favor of it.  In February U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy visited Okinawa, where she met with the Governor but declined to meet with the mayor.

That’s all right. The Mayor can meet with the State Department, the White House, the Pentagon, and the Congress.  He’ll be in Washington, D.C. in mid-May, where he hopes to appeal directly to the U.S. government and the U.S. public.  He’ll speak at an open, public event at Busboys and Poets restaurant at 14th and V Streets at 6:00 p.m. on May 20th.

A great summary of the situation in Okinawa can be found in this statement: “International Scholars, Peace Advocates and Artists Condemn Agreement To Build New U.S. Marine Base in Okinawa.”  An excerpt:

“Not unlike the 20th century U.S. Civil Rights struggle, Okinawans have non-violently pressed for the end to their military colonization. They tried to stop live-fire military drills that threatened their lives by entering the exercise zone in protest; they formed human chains around military bases to express their opposition; and about a hundred thousand people, one tenth of the population have turned out periodically for massive demonstrations. Octogenarians initiated the campaign to prevent the construction of the Henoko base with a sit-in that has been continuing for years. The prefectural assembly passed resolutions to oppose the Henoko base plan. In January 2013, leaders of all the 41 municipalities of Okinawa signed the petition to the government to remove the newly deployed MV-22 Osprey from Futenma base and to give up the plan to build a replacement base in Okinawa.”

Here’s background on the Governor of Okinawa.

Here’s an organization working to support the will of the public of Okinawa on this issue.

And here’s a video worth watching:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzAw-jOQwME#t=0

He’s a multi-billionaire. He made money the old-fashioned way. On March 24, 2014, Forbes ranked him 16th on its World Billionaire List. It estimates his net worth at $33 billion.

He’s founder and 88% owner of Bloomberg LP. It’s a global financial data/media company. He’s a Johns Hopkins/Harvard Business School graduate.

From January 1, 2002 – December 31, 2013, he was New York City mayor. On March 5, Harvard University named him 2014 commencement speaker. It’s scheduled for May 29.

Choosing him follows Harvard tradition. Rare exceptions occur. Last year Oprah Winfrey spoke. She’s an African-American multi-billionaire.

She’s connected to America’s rich and powerful. She promoted Bush’s Iraq war on air. She disgracefully called it a “humanitarian mission.”

She omitted key facts. She sold millions of viewers imperial war. She did so with fabricated reasons. She lied for power. It wasn’t the first time or last.

She appeals to America’s lowest common denominator. She’s a faux progressive. She teamed with Obama during campaigning.

They conned Americans. Uninformed ones were sold false promises. Oprah bears much responsibility. Don’t expect her to explain.

Previous Harvard commencement speakers include rich and powerful notables. In 2007, Bill Gates was invited.

The Harvard Crimson called him “Harvard’s most successful dropout.” Admirers and detractors call him unbelievably wealthy. Other Harvard commencement speakers included:

  • former Supreme Court Justice David Souter,
  • former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
  • former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo,
  • Alan Greenspan,
  • Paul Volker,
  • Madeleine Albright,
  • Colin Powell,
  • Helmut Kohl,
  • Helmet Schmidt,
  • Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, and
  • Winston Churchill among many other likeminded figures.

Nary a progressive in sight. Rarely ever is one invited. Nowadays it’s strictly verboten.

In June 1956, Jack Kennedy addressed Harvard’s commencement. He was Massachusetts junior senator at the time.

An earlier article discussed his address. Today’s politicians don’t speak like he did. Perhaps Harvard regretted inviting him.

He accused politicians of sacrificing truth for political advantage. Little wonder they’re scorned, he said. He wanted politicians and scholars working together cooperatively.

He wanted elected officials freed from “imprison(ment) by (their) own slogans.” He wanted “the cooling waters of the scholastic pool” lowering the temperature in Washington.

He called it “regrettable that the gap between the intellectual and the politician seems to be growing.”

He said “if more politicians knew poetry and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live on this commencement day of 1956.”

Kennedy differed from today’s politicians. A previous article explained as follows:

He changed during his time in office. He evolved from cold warrior to peacemaker.

The Bay of Pigs fiasco chastened him. He refused authorizing another attempt to remove Castro.

He supported Palestinian rights. He opposed Israel’s nuclear weapons program. He offended energy giants. He wanted their oil depletion allowance cut or eliminated.

RFK waged war on organized crime. JFK’s first executive order expanded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). He was a gradualist on civil rights. He believed integration was morally right.

He favored Federal Reserve reform. His Executive Order 11110 authorized replacing Federal Reserve notes with silver certificates if the occasion arose to do so.

It’s believed he ordered Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon to begin issuing United States notes. Perhaps he had in mind replacing Federal Reserve ones altogether. He was assassinated too soon to know.

He deplored the CIA. He fired director Allen Dulles. He sacked his deputy General Charles Cabell.

He wanted to “splinter the (agency) into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds,” he said. It was reason enough to kill him.

He increasingly opposed imperial wars. Initially, he sent troops and advisors to Southeast Asia. He opposed sending more to Laos. He wanted conflict resolved diplomatically.

He opposed deploying nuclear weapons in Berlin. He was against using them in Southeast Asia.

He once called Pentagon generals “crazy” for suggesting it. He refused to attack or invade Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis. He said he “never had the slightest intension of doing so.”

He urged abolishing all nuclear weapons. He knew using them is lunacy. He favored general and complete disarmament.

He opposed Pax Americana enforced dominance. He signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty with Soviet Russia.

Weeks before his assassination, he signed National Security Memorandum 263. It called for removing 1,000 US forces from Vietnam by yearend. He wanted them all out by December 1965.

He underwent a spiritual transformation. It bears repeating. He switched from cold warrior to peacemaker.

He was at odds with Pentagon commanders, CIA, most congressional members, and nearly all his advisors.

He understood his vulnerability. He paid with his life. He was favored to win reelection. Imagine if he had two full terms.

Imagine a new direction. Imagine deploring war. Imagine turning swords into plowshares.

Imagine a world at peace. Imagine nuclear disarmament. Imagine ending the Cold War a generation earlier.

Imagine a chance to keep it from reemerging. Killing Kennedy, brother Bobby, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X decapitated the political left. New leadership hasn’t materialized.

It’s needed now more than ever. It’s nowhere in sight. Potential candidates aren’t welcome as Harvard commencement speakers.

President Drew Faust invited Bloomberg. He’s a multi-billionaire corporatist. She praised what demands condemnation. He “led one of the world’s great cities,” she said.

He “built one of the nation’s most influential information services, and generously committed his attention and resources to worthy causes in public health, the environment, civic life, the arts, and – not least of all – education. I greatly look forward to welcoming him in May.”

He took plenty and then some. He gave back crumbs. He did so to buy recognition. Honor and integrity are earned, not bought. Faust ignored the distinction.

Throughout his business and public careers, he served powerful monied interests. He did so exclusively. He profited handsomely himself.

He ignored public need. He won elections the old-fashioned way. He bought them. He spent millions. He outspent challengers multiple times over. He flooded the airwaves with campaign ads.

He drowned out opposition voices. He used deep pocket money  power to win. He’s Wall Street’s man. He’s a product of its predatory system.

He was weaned at Solomon Brothers. In 1973, he became a general partner. He headed equity trading. He earned millions.

In 1981, he used them to launch Innovative Market Systems. In 1987, he renamed it Bloomberg LP. Thereafter, he established Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Message, and Bloomberg Tradebook.

He has his own radio network. WBBR AM New York is its flagship station. His public record was deplorable.

Among America’s 25 largest cities, New York unemployment is among the highest.

Most city workers lack pensions. Many earn sub-subsistence wages. Poverty is extremely high. It rose annually during his tenure.

Census figures rank New York sixth poorest among America’s 20 largest cities. Over two-thirds of New Yorkers can’t afford a home.

City homelessness is at record levels. It more than doubled since Bloomberg took office. It includes numbers sleeping in public shelters.

It excludes countless thousands on city streets. Many more rely on overcrowded substandard apartments. Others live with family or friends.

New York has a housing crisis. Rental prices are extremely high. Low cost alternatives are in short supply. Demand way exceeds what’s available.

What’s ongoing reflects New York’s unprecedented social polarization. It worsened steadily under Bloomberg.

New York’s top 20% most well off earn 40 times more than the bottom one-fifth. It’s top 1% earns infinitely more.

Bloomberg lied claiming “nobody’s sleeping on (New York City) streets.” Homelessness plagues New York. It’s at epidemic levels. It worsens annually. Little is done to address it.

Since 2008 crisis conditions erupted, Coalition for the Homeless figures show well over 100,000 men, women and children used city shelters.

Perhaps that many or more sleep on streets, rely on family, or make due best they can. Perhaps double or triple reported estimates. Main Street economic conditions are worse than ever.

City budget balancing harmed ordinary New Yorkers. Onerous tax burdens were imposed. Over $1 billion in public worker concessions were demanded.

Massive layoffs affected thousand of teachers, hundreds of firefighters and many other city workers. Dozens of senior centers and day care ones were closed.

Public wages were frozen or minimally increased. Benefits were cut. At the same time, Wall Street got generous ones on top of trillions of dollars of federal bailout funding.

Throughout his tenure, Bloomberg implemented numerous financial sector tax giveaways. He added billions to his own net worth.

Ordinary city residents got tax increases. Crisis conditions affect them. It’s increasing annually. Bloomberg largely ignored them.

He waged war on organized labor. He did so on public education. He supports making it another business profit center.

He wants young kids cheated. He wants them denied opportunities he had growing up. He closed dozens of city schools. Low-income neighborhoods were targeted.

He waged war on Occupy Wall Street. City cops were unleashed ruthlessly. Peaceful protesters were attacked. Beatings and arrests followed.

Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly intensified longstanding NYPD stop and frisk practices. Blacks and Latinos are targeted.

He denounced efforts to end flagrantly racist practices. He wants unconstitutional ones continued. He reflects the worst of irresponsible leadership.

Maybe Harvard will invite him to replace Faust as president when she steps down. Maybe he’ll accept.

Maybe he’ll run Harvard like NYC and Bloomberg LP. Maybe he’ll order it privatized and buy it.

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

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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