The former head of Britain’s intelligence agency MI5, Lord Evans, has added his voice to demands for a clampdown on the Internet and e-communications in the wake of the terror assaults on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris and a Jewish supermarket, in which 17 people were killed.

His remarks underscore that the British government is leading efforts in Europe and internationally to exploit the events of January 7 in France to significantly strengthen the repressive powers of the state. Under the banner “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) and the supposed defence of free speech, police state measures are being imposed.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Evans claimed that the UK’s existing anti-terror legislation was “no longer fit for purpose” and that new laws were “vital” to enable the state to monitor services such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat, as well as encrypted communications.

His op-ed appeared just two days after Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking in Washington alongside President Barack Obama, called for “pressure” to be exerted on Internet companies such as Facebook and Twitter to work more closely with UK intelligence agencies. Cameron has pledged that if the Conservatives return to power after the May General Election, they will press ahead with plans for a “snoopers’ charter” Communications Bill giving the British intelligence agencies MI5, MI6 and the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) the power to access encrypted communications.

Simultaneously, it was announced that Britain’s Intelligence and Security Committee, consisting of nine senior Members of Parliament and peers, would announce plans for sweeping new state powers in the next weeks.

Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind, ISC chairman, backed Cameron’s call for new powers. He told the Sunday Telegraph that the ISC would announce in the next weeks “very radical” reforms of existing anti-terror provisions so as to grant the intelligence agencies new powers to intercept e-communications.

“If as we all accept, the problem is international jihadi terrorism, how do international terrorists communicate with each other?” he asked rhetorically. “They communicate by the Internet, by email, by social messaging. That’s the world we live in.”

Evans and Rifkind both denounced former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden for his exposure of the US and UK’s massive and illegal surveillance operations.

Snowden’s revelations had led to significant public opposition to the government’s original Communications Data Bill, first brought forward in 2012. Evans complained that this had “led to a position where the terrorists and criminals now know enough about interception capabilities to avoid scrutiny, while Internet and communications providers are reluctant to help the authorities as much as they used to in case they suffer commercial disadvantage or media criticism.”

Rifkind complained that Snowden “stole—and I use the word explicitly—he stole a million highly classified documents, top secret documents” and handed them over to “the Guardian or other newspapers.”

That was not “whistleblowing,” but a “political” and “criminal act,” Rifkind said.

Blanket surveillance is not the only draconian state power being brought forward on the backs of the confusion and disorientation created by the Paris killings. According to the Sunday Mirror, “Army chiefs have drawn up plans to deploy 1,900 troops in support of police” anti-terror operations.

The moves came as the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre increased the security threat facing the UK to severe. Steve White, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said, “The level of extreme terrorism we are facing on an international scale cannot be underestimated and the police service and its security partners are doing all they can.”

Home Office officials have claimed the police do not have enough resources to tackle the threat, the Mirror reported. Consequently, officers

“at the military’s Joint Headquarters drafted the plans in Civil Contingency Operations and have asked Army Headquarters in Andover, Hants, to identify available troops.”

The newspaper cited a senior military officer stating,

“The delicate decision for politicians is when and how to use the Army without causing panic. I expect we will see a small number deployed first and if the situation warrants it more will be called out.”

The Mirror continued, “Sources at Army Headquarters in Andover said two battalions could be called out at short notice.”

The moves come after hundreds of police were deployed in Belgium in the wake of raids on a suspected terror cell in the capital, Brussels. In France, 10,000 troops have been deployed around the country.

Since 9/11, successive UK governments have introduced a plethora of “anti-terror” legislation, each more draconian than its predecessor. This has included the adoption of a secretive “shoot to kill” policy that claimed the life of innocent Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, who was murdered in broad daylight on July 22, 2005.

Such measures have nothing to do with protecting the public. Rather, fear and panic over Islamic extremism—which British and western foreign policy is largely responsible for creating—is being used, once again, to clamp down on democratic rights and legitimise further imperialist interventions.

It should be noted that it was on Evans’ watch that, in 2010, the UK Court of Appeal found that British intelligence services were complicit in the extraordinary rendition and torture of UK resident Binyam Mohamed in Morocco and Guantanamo Bay between 2004 and 2009. Mohamed, who was eventually released from Guantanamo without charge, was awarded £1 million compensation for his ill treatment.

On Thursday, London is to host an international summit on combating Islamic terrorism. Co-hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry, a “military coalition” of more than 20 countries is to meet to discuss “the next phase in the armed conflict with the jihadists,” it was announced.

In preparation, the Cameron government has announced it is stepping up operations against Isis forces in Iraq, including the use of extra drones and the despatch of “British experts” to the country. While a planned return of British troops to the country has been delayed—reportedly until after the general election—RAF aircraft continue to carry out bombing raids.

British forces are also to officially begin training Syrian “opposition groups.” The US, UK and others deliberately fomented the civil war in Syria as part of their plans for regime-change. In August 2013, Parliament vetoed plans for British military intervention in the country, but Cameron agreed in his talks with Obama that the UK troops will begin training “by the end of March.”

The UK has also agreed to enhanced cooperation with Yemen “in military fields and combating terrorism,” and the Ministry of Defence is reportedly drawing up plans to increase the number of military personnel for deployment to Nigeria.

Cameron used his Washington appearance to announce the despatch of an extra 1,000 British troops to Eastern Europe, as part of the provocative NATO-led military build-up on Russia’s borders.

The Legitimization of Marine Le Pen

January 20th, 2015 by Joseph Kishore

The international campaign to legitimize the fascistic politics of the French National Front (FN) reached a new stage Monday with the publication in the New York Times of an op-ed piece on the Charlie Hebdo shootings by the party’s leader, Marine Le Pen.

By opening its pages to Le Pen, the Times, the crumbling pillar of American liberalism, is signaling that powerful sections of the American ruling class consider her ideas to be a critical part of the public debate. The Times took the added step of including a simultaneous translation in French, ensuring that the column would receive the widest possible distribution in France itself.

Le Pen is being elevated as part of a broader effort by the ruling elites to play the anti-Muslim race card in the face of entrenched opposition to imperialist operations in the Middle East and social reaction at home. The anti-Muslim cartoons in Charlie Hebdo have been proclaimed symbols of democracy, and now Le Pen is presented as its savior.

Le Pen’s chauvinist arguments in the Times (under the headline “To Call this Threat by Its Name”) are largely drawn from the political arsenal of the US “war on terror.” France, “land of human rights and freedoms, was attacked on its own soil by a totalitarian ideology: Islamic fundamentalism,” she writes.

She then calls for effectively scrapping freedom and human rights in order to wage political war on France’s five-million-strong Muslim population, proposing “a policy restricting immigration,” new policies to strip people of citizenship, and a fight against “communalism and ways of life at odds” with French traditions.

While providing a political platform for Le Pen, the Times does not bother to inform its readers of her political pedigree. The FN was formed in 1972 by former supporters of the World War II Nazi collaborationist Vichy regime and defenders of French colonial rule in Algeria. It is notorious for its anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic racism, its virulent nationalism, and its thuggish attacks on political opponents.

In justifying their decision to publish Le Pen’s column, the editors of the Timesmay argue that whether one likes it or not, Le Pen cannot be ignored. TheTimes and its apologists will probably claim that by providing her with a platform, she is being given the opportunity to expose herself.

This is nonsense. Le Pen is being deliberately legitimized by the Times, just as French President François Hollande increased her stature and that of the FN by inviting Le Pen to the Elysée Palace shortly after the Charlie Hebdoattacks.

The promotion of Le Pen is part of a broader elevation of fascistic and extreme right-wing organizations internationally. Last year, the United States and Germany worked with the Right Sector and Svoboda—organizations that celebrate the Nazi collaborators in Ukraine during World War II—to overthrow the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych, an operation that was presented across the political establishment as a movement for democracy.

In Germany, as the ruling class moves to cast off all restraints imposed on German militarism following World War II, it is working to downplay and justify the crimes of its past. Jorg Baberowski, a leading historian at Berlin’s Humboldt University, recently argued that “Hitler was not cruel,” comparing his actions favorably to those of Stalin and the Soviet leadership.

In a recent speech, Chancellor Angela Merkel referred to the need for Christians to “strengthen their identity” and “speak even more and with self-confidence about their Christian values”—an encouragement of anti-Muslim sentiment calculated to bolster and legitimize the racist agitation of the right-wing Pegida movement in Germany.

As far as growing sections of the corporate-financial aristocracy are concerned, the voices of neo-fascists must be heard. At the same time that her Times column appeared, Le Pen was featured in a glowing interview with the Wall Street Journal. Pointing to the calculations of the ruling class, theJournal argued,

“Once a political outlier, Ms. Le Pen has been gaining prominence as France’s problems—a moribund economy and its un-assimilated Muslim population—have become more acute and seemingly beyond cure by the traditional political class.”

Here the Journal refers to the fact that, under conditions of protracted economic crisis, the political establishment is deeply discredited in France and internationally. In an effort to create support for its rule, the financial elite is seeking to mobilize sections of the petty-bourgeoisie on the basis of extreme nationalism. At the same time, right-wing forces are exploiting the bankruptcy of the “left” to present themselves as an oppositional force.

The logic of developments is following channels traced previously. Contemporary politics assumes more and more the character of the 1930s, when the ruling elites of Europe turned to fascist parties and forces to defend their rule. Today, the promotion of the likes of Le Pen is part of a broader effort to use anti-Muslim racism as a central plank for imperialist operations abroad and a far-reaching assault on democratic rights at home. The ruling classes in France, the United States, Germany, Britain and the other major imperialist powers are plotting and launching new wars in the Middle East and northern Africa.

Domestically, the ruling class is increasingly concerned about the growth of social opposition in the working class. This week, as billionaires gather in Davos for their annual economic forum, a report has come out showing that by 2016, the richest 1 percent of the world’s population will own more than the bottom 99 percent. The richest 80 individuals own as much wealth as the poorest half of the earth’s inhabitants (about 3.5 billion people). Such conditions are unsustainable. Mass social opposition is inevitable.

Together with a vicious campaign against the immigrant population, the ruling class is promoting and legitimizing fascistic and chauvinist movements in order to direct them against the working class as a whole. The basic lesson of the experiences of the 1930s is that the fight against fascism must be waged as a struggle against the capitalist system and all of its political representatives.

I portabandiera della libertà

January 20th, 2015 by Manlio Dinucci

Ha fir­mato il libro delle con­do­glianze per le vit­time dell’attacco ter­ro­ri­stico alla reda­zione di Char­lie Hebdo e, defi­nen­dolo «un oltrag­gioso attacco alla libertà di stampa», ha dichia­rato che «il ter­ro­ri­smo in tutte le sue forme non può essere mai tol­le­rato né giustificato».

Parole giu­ste se non fos­sero state pro­nun­ciate da Jens Stol­ten­berg, segre­ta­rio gene­rale della Nato, l’organizzazione mili­tare che usa come meto­dico stru­mento di guerra l’attacco ter­ro­ri­stico con­tro le reda­zioni radiotelevisive.

Quello con­tro la radio­te­le­vi­sione serba a Bel­grado, col­pita da un mis­sile Nato il 23 aprile 1999, pro­vocò la morte di 16 gior­na­li­sti e tecnici.

Lo stesso ha fatto la Nato nella guerra di Libia, bom­bar­dando nel 2011 la radio­te­le­vi­sione di Tripoli.

Lo stesso nella guerra di Siria, quando nell’estate 2012 com­bat­tenti adde­strati e armati dalla Cia (negli stessi campi da cui sem­bra pro­ven­gano gli atten­ta­tori di Parigi) hanno attac­cato sta­zioni tele­vi­sive ad Aleppo e Dama­sco, ucci­dendo una decina di gior­na­li­sti e tecnici.

Su que­sti attac­chi ter­ro­ri­stici è calato in Occi­dente un quasi totale silen­zio media­tico, e pra­ti­ca­mente nes­suno è sceso in piazza con le foto e i nomi delle vit­time. All’attentato con­tro Char­lie Hebdo è stata invece data una riso­nanza media­tica mondiale.

E, facendo leva sul natu­rale sen­ti­mento di con­danna per l’attentato e di cor­do­glio per le vit­time, Char­lie Hebdo è stato assunto da un vasto arco poli­tico a sim­bolo di lotta per la libertà. Igno­rando il discu­ti­bile ruolo di que­sta rivi­sta che, con le sue vignette «dis­sa­cranti», si col­lo­che­rebbe «alla sini­stra della sinistra».

Nel 1999 il diret­tore di Char­lie Hebdo, Phi­lippe Val, sostiene con una serie di edi­to­riali e vignette la guerra Nato con­tro la Jugo­sla­via, para­go­nando Milo­se­vic a Hitler e accu­sando i serbi di com­piere in Kosovo dei «pogrom» simili a quelli nazi­sti con­tro gli ebrei.

Stessa linea nel 2011 quando Char­lie Hebdo (pur non essen­doci più Phi­lippe Val alla dire­zione) con­tri­bui­sce a giu­sti­fi­care la guerra Nato con­tro la Libia, dipin­gendo Ghed­dafi come un feroce dit­ta­tore che schiac­cia sotto gli sti­vali il suo popolo e fa il bagno in una vasca piena di sangue.

Stessa linea dal 2012 nei con­fronti della Siria quando Char­lie Hebdo, rap­pre­sen­tando il pre­si­dente Assad come un cinico dit­ta­tore che schiac­cia donne e bam­bini sotto i cin­goli dei suoi car­rar­mati, con­tri­bui­sce a giu­sti­fi­care l’operazione mili­tare Usa/Nato.

In tale qua­dro si inse­ri­sce la serie di vignette con cui la rivi­sta ridi­co­lizza Maometto.

Anche se essa fa satira allo stesso tempo su altre reli­gioni, le vignette su Mao­metto equi­val­gono ad altret­tante tani­che di ben­zina get­tate sul ter­reno già infuo­cato del mondo arabo e musul­mano. E appa­iono ancora più odiose agli occhi di grandi masse isla­mi­che per­ché a ridi­co­liz­zare la loro reli­gione e la loro cul­tura sono degli intel­let­tuali pari­gini, imme­mori del fatto che la Fran­cia assog­gettò al suo domi­nio colo­niale interi popoli, non solo sfrut­tan­doli e mas­sa­cran­doli (solo in Alge­ria oltre un milione di morti), ma impo­nendo loro la pro­pria lin­gua e cul­tura. Poli­tica che Parigi pro­se­gue oggi in forme neocoloniali.

Non c’è quindi da stu­pirsi se, nel mondo arabo e musul­mano che ha in mag­gio­ranza con­dan­nato gli attac­chi ter­ro­ri­stici di Parigi, dila­gano le pro­te­ste con­tro Char­lie Hebdo.

A coloro che in Occi­dente ne fanno la ban­diera della «libertà di stampa», va chie­sto: che cosa fare­ste se tro­va­ste affisse per strada vignette porno su vostro padre e vostra madre? Non vi arrab­bie­re­ste, non la defi­ni­re­ste una pro­vo­ca­zione? Non pen­se­re­ste che die­tro c’è la mano di qual­cuno che cerca di aprire una guerra con voi?

Manlio Dinucci,  

Alleged ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Having noted that voter angst has been riled, propagandized, and fear-mongered to the point at which the most pressing priority for Congress is to ‘fix’ terrorism, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that we discover – deep down in the archives – that giving the public someone to ‘hate’ as opposed to something may have been an entire fiction. As The New York Times exposed in 2007Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, the titular head of the Islamic State, according to Brigadier General Kevin Bergner – the chief American military spokesman at the time - never existed (and was actually a fictional character whose audio-taped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima).

Via The New York Times (2007),

For more than a year, the leader of one the most notorious insurgent groups in Iraq was said to be a mysterious Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi.

As the titular head of the Islamic State in Iraq, an organization publicly backed by Al Qaeda, Baghdadi issued a steady stream of incendiary pronouncements. Despite claims by Iraqi officials that he had been killed in May, Baghdadi appeared to have persevered unscathed.

On Wednesday, a senior American military spokesman provided a new explanation for Baghdadi’s ability to escape attack: He never existed.

Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, the chief American military spokesman, said the elusive Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose audio-taped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima.

The ruse, Bergner said, was devised by Abu Ayub al-Masri, the Egyptian-born leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, who was trying to mask the dominant role that foreigners play in that insurgent organization.

The ploy was to invent Baghdadi, a figure whose very name establishes his Iraqi pedigree, install him as the head of a front organization called the Islamic State of Iraq and then arrange for Masri to swear allegiance to him. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy, sought to reinforce the deception by referring to Baghdadi in his video and Internet statements.

The evidence for the American assertions, Bergner announced at a news briefing, was provided by an Iraqi insurgent: Khalid Abdul Fatah Daud Mahmud al-Mashadani, who was said to have been captured by American forces in Mosul on July 4.

According to Bergner, Mashadani is the most senior Iraqi operative in Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. He got his start in the Ansar al-Sunna insurgent group before joining Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia more than two years ago, and became the group’s “media emir” for all of Iraq. Bergner said that Mashadani was also an intermediary between Masri in Iraq and bin Laden and Zawahiri, whom the Americans assert support and guide their Iraqi affiliate.

“Mashadani confirms that al-Masri and the foreign leaders with whom he surrounds himself, not Iraqis, made the operational decisions” for Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, Bergner said.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and a Middle East expert, said that experts had long wondered whether Baghdadi actually existed. “There has been a question mark about this,” he said.

Nonetheless, Riedel suggested that the disclosures made Wednesday might not be the final word on Baghdadi and the leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Even Mashadani’s assertions,Riedel said, might be a cover story to protect a leader who does in fact exist.

“First, they say we have killed him,” Riedel said, referring to the statements by some Iraqi government officials. “Then we heard him after his death and now they are saying he never existed. That suggests that our intelligence on Al Qaeda in Iraq is not what we want it to be.”

American military spokesmen insist they have gotten to the truth on Baghdadi.Mashadani, they say, provided his account because he resented the role of foreign leaders in Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. They say he has not repudiated the organization.

Read more here…

Ironman 3 anyone?

*  *  *

So he was a ghost back then…. is he a ghost again, a propaganda test-tube baby designed purely to put a face on ISIS and the biggest bogeyman of the current global anti-terrorist mania, so necessary to boost global QE in lieu of a world war (for now)?

It’s certainly easier for an average joe to ‘hate’ a demonic leader than an amorphous ‘thing’ called ‘Radical Islam’ – just ask President Obama.

It is widely recognized by independent analysts and observers of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that it is a creature largely of the United States and Britain, established in late 1994 to support the Rwandan dictatorship of Paul Kagame’s Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and that it has imposed a system of “victor’s justice” that is the epitome of injustice.

This is displayed most prominently by the ICTR’s exclusive focus on alleged crimes committed by the Hutu political, military, and civilian leadership of the regime that Kagame’s RPF drove from power by July 1994, and the complete impunity of the members of the RPF, not one of whom has ever been charged with a crime by the ICTR. This is despite the fact that RPF killings of civilians was massive in Rwanda in 1994, just as it has been in the years that followed its conquest.

Thus, in the exceptional case where ICTR Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte opened her “special investigations” of RPF crimes in 2002, with the goal of bringing indictments against members of the RPF, her job was terminated in 2003, and in her memoir of the events, she is unequivocal that the United States and Britain forced her firing in order to preserve the RPF’s impunity at the ICTR.[1]

Similarly, even though Del Ponte’s predecessor at the ICTR, Louise Arbour, had encouraged investigators in 1996 to look into the responsibility for the April 6, 1994 shoot-down of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s jet on its return to Kigali, when Michael Hourigan found credible evidence that Kagame’s RPF was responsible, Arbour suddenly did an about-face, and ordered Hourigan to terminate the inquiry.

Again, this was the result of longstanding U.S. and U.K. political influence at the ICTR, and their commitment to protecting Kagame’s RPF.[2]

In late November 2014, Alex Obote-Odora, a former Chief of Appeals and Legal Advisory Division at the ICTR, took to the Pambazuka News website to challenge our “The Kagame-Power Lobby’s dishonest attack on BBC documentary on Rwanda”[3] on these questions of victor’s justice and RPF impunity, and he offered an across-the-board defense of his former employer.[4] That defense consisted of a stream of misrepresentations and wild accusations without merit, and we will respond to them here.

Obote-Odora claims that there is “no evidence that the RPF” shot down Habyarimana’s jet. But, in fact, a series of former close associates of Kagame have gone on record describing the RPF’s responsibility in detail, despite the threat posed to their lives for challenging the dictator. This group includes former Rwandan Army Chief of Staff Kayumba Nyamwasa, who has survived more than one attempt on his life, and Theogene Rudasingwa, a former ambassador to the United States and former chief of staff to Kagame.[5] Moreover, a several years long investigation by the French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière came to the same conclusion,[6] as did the court of Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles,[7] both of whom brought charges against the RPF, something the captive ICTR has never done. As noted, the Hourigan investigation that came to the same conclusion was terminated by Louise Arbour almost surely on the advice of her political superiors.

Obote-Odora even makes the amazing claim that at the moment of the shoot-down, the Habyarimana jet was a “legitimate military target” and therefore the shoot-down a legitimate “act of war,” so that “no crimes within the ICTR Statute were committed,” and the ICTR is right not to investigate responsibility for the act.[8] He bases this claim on the fact that the jet was carrying four members of the government who had a military status, including Habyarimana, who then held the title of general in the Armed Forces of Rwanda (FAR). But under the August 1993 Arusha Accords, a ceasefire between the RPF and the FAR was officially in place. Indeed, it was the RPF’s shoot-down of the Habyarimana jet that broke the ceasefire, and it was the RPF that immediately used its successful assassination of Habyarimana to resume the war, launching its final offensive that same evening and eventual seizure of state power over the next 104 days. Does anybody outside the Kagame-Power Lobby honestly believe that if credible evidence could have been found of “Hutu Power” or “Akazu” responsibility for the shoot-down at any time over the past 20 years, the Prosecutor at the ICTR wouldn’t have brought war crime indictments against the Hutus involved? But, since the accumulated credible evidence points at Paul Kagame’s RPF, the Prosecutor “made the correct decision to not proceed with investigations into the matter,” Obote-Odora concludes. Thus is the real culture of RPF impunity preserved at the ICTR.

Obote-Odora’s response has a great deal of sophistry, and misrepresentation like the preceding, but it is also generous with fabricated straw men arguments. In one of the grossest, he alleges that we “conflate the mandate of the ICTR to include Rwanda’s political system, its democratic deficit, alleged abuses of human rights and the prosecution of perpetrators for all manner of crimes.” Of course, Obote-Odora produces not a single quote from our work in which we commit this error. The reason why he doesn’t is that there are no examples. Clearly, Obote-Odora is counting on Pambazuka’s readers taking his word for it, rather than checking his allegation against our work. This may have been a useful strategy in the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTR, but we hope that it doesn’t work here.

Obote-Odora writes that our article is “untenable with regard to three key legal issues.” We have already addressed the second of these straw men: The ICTR’s failure to follow up on credible evidence long in its possession that Kagame’s RPF shot-down Habyarimana’s jet. We now turn, briefly, to the other two.

Straw Man Two: That we get the ICTR’s legal mandate wrong

Obote-Odora claims that when we write about the actions of the RPF before January 1, 1994, as well as after December 31, 1994, the two dates which mark the beginning and the end of the ICTR’s temporal jurisdiction under UN Security Council Resolution 955,[9] we are arguing that the ICTR is at fault for not prosecuting RPF crimes that fall outside its temporal jurisdiction. Thus, Obote-Odora writes: “Repeated reference to these crimes by Herman and Peterson in their article cannot bring these crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICTR…. For Herman and Peterson to criticise the OTP in particular, and the ICTR in general, for failure to investigate and prosecute acts and omissions that fall outside its mandate is at best based on ignorance of the applicable law, or at worst is a mischievous, disingenuous and irresponsible attack on the integrity of the OTP and the ICTR.”

It is more foolishness for Obote-Odora to throw this straw man at Pambuzuka’s readers, and claim that we have ever contended, in any venue, that the ICTR (not to mention the ICC!) should prosecute alleged crimes that fall outside its temporal jurisdiction. Nowhere in the material that Obote-Odora quotes from us do we ever argue this. Therefore, for Obote-Odora to claim that we do, and to reproduce quotes from our work as if it is evidence that we did, is deeply dishonest. Once again, Obote-Odora is counting on Pambazuka’s readers to take his word for it, rather than carefully checking his allegations against our work.

Straw Man Three: That we get the ICTR’s jurisprudence on the “conspiracy to commit genocide” charge wrong

Obote-Odora writes that “Herman and Peterson are in error to suggest that cases of conspiracy to commit genocide were never fairly adjudicated by the ICTR’s Trial and Appeals Chambers.” He quotes at length from our November 12, 2014 article. But he left out nearly 50 percent of the paragraph from which he quotes, including our reference (note 26) to two sections in our recently published book, Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later,[10] where we direct readers to our treatment of how the “conspiracy to commit genocide” charge has fared in the ICTR’s trial and appeals chambers. In fact, as we show in our book and write in our article for Pambazuka News, “even the U.S.- and U.K.-vetted ICTR uniformly rejects the charge that Hutu political and military figures engaged in a ‘conspiracy to commit genocide’ against the country’s minority Tutsi population prior to the April 6, 1994 shoot-down of the Habyarimana jet” (emphasis added).

Those italicized words are crucial. As we have argued elsewhere, the “conspiracy to commit genocide” charge ought to refer exclusively to a conspiracy among Rwanda’s Hutu political, military, and civilian leadership that existed some time prior to April 6, 1994, as any meaningful plan to exterminate the country’s minority Tutsi population must have been developed before the Habyarimana jet was shot down and before the violence that followed. But in fact all of the findings of “conspiracy” in ICTR proceedings relate to events that occurred after the assassination of Habyarimana, typically falling within a time-frame that ranges from April 8 or 9, 1994, through the months of May and June, 1994. It follows, therefore, that any alleged conspiracy that dates from some time after the assassination falls outside what is properly understood as the Hutu “conspiracy to commit genocide.” In the context of Rwanda 1994, this is a false and fallacious use of the “conspiracy” notion, and ought to be disqualified.

Obote-Odora then proceeds to list seven cases that have been argued before the ICTR. Why he chose these seven is inexplicable, because not one of them contradicts what we have argued. In Appendix I to our book, Enduring Lies, we reviewed the judgments and/or judgments on appeal in no fewer than 24 major cases in which the defendants faced the “conspiracy to commit genocide” charge. In 23 of these, the defendants were either acquitted of the charge or a previous guilty verdict was reversed on appeal; and in the one case in which the defendant was found guilty (i.e., Pauline Nyiramasuhuko), this verdict will likely be reversed on appeal (which is pending). (See the Appendix below, where we analyze the verdicts in the seven cases that Obote-Odora cited.)

Finally, Obote-Odora makes the remarkable claim that “In the conduct of criminal prosecutions, it does not matter how many judgements support a given line of argument. As a matter of practice, the fact that the Appeals Chamber has confirmed two Trial Chamber convictions for conspiracy to commit genocide suffices.”

This is preposterous. Aside from the early coerced and railroaded plea bargains of the type to which the essentially defenseless Jean Kambanda, the prime minister in the post-Habyarimana Interim Government, were subjected, all of the major cases argued before the ICTR led either to acquittals or reversals on appeal on the conspiracy charge. In short, the weight of ICTR jurisprudence lies on our side, not Obote-Odora’s.

Concluding Note

Alex Obote-Odora clearly has a penchant for sophistry, misrepresentation, and outright fabrication. We have no doubt that this trait served him well in his role with the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTR. Now having read his November 28, 2014 response to our November 12, 2014 “The Kagame-Power Lobby’s dishonest attack on BBC documentary on Rwanda,” he has convinced us more than ever that the ICTR exists to impose “victor’s justice” upon the Hutu remnants of the vanquished former regime, and that the real culture of Rwanda Patriotic Front impunity for the crimes that it committed in Rwanda during 1994 still flourishes.

Notes

[1] See Carla Del Ponte, with Chuck Sudetic, Madame Prosecutor: Confrontations with Humanity’s Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity: A Memoir (New York: Other Press, 2009), Ch. 7, “Confronting Kigali 2000 to 2001,” pp. 177-192; and especially Ch. 9, “Confronting Kigali 2002 and 2003,” pp. 223-241. Also see Peter Erlinder, “The Rwanda War Crimes Coverup,” Global Research, September 3, 2009. < http://tinyurl.com/o7z5jk5 >

[2] For copies of documents related to Michael Hourigan’s experience as the head of the National Investigative Team on behalf of the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTR, see Annexe 49 : Le rapport de Michaël Hourigan, enquêteur du TPIR, à la procureure Louise Arbour sur l’attentat du 6 avril 1994 (janvier 1997). This PDF reproduces partially redacted copies of Hourigan’s original 1997 memorandum to Louise Arbour (pp. 2-5); an August 1, 1997 confidential note in which Hourigan assesses his experiences as the head of the National Team (pp. 6-8); a February 7, 2007 report about Michael Hourigan written by Nick McKenzie for The Age (Australia) (pp. 9-13); and the November 27, 2006 Affidavit of Michael Andrew Hourigan used by defense attorneys before the ICTR (pp. 14-20). < http://tinyurl.com/p437ug5> Also see the “Prepared Statement of Mr. James R. Lyons,” April 6, 2001, as archived by the All Things Pass website. Lyons was Hourigan’s immediate superior at the ICTR. < http://tinyurl.com/ndy7b56 >

[3] Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “The Kagame-Power Lobby’s dishonest attack on BBC documentary on Rwanda,” Pambazuka News (Issue 702), November 12, 2014. < http://tinyurl.com/k5q6v95>

[4] Alex Obote-Odora, “The Kagame-Power Lobby’s dishonest attack on BBC documentary on Rwanda: A rejoinder,” Pambazuka News (Issue 704), November 28, 2014. < http://tinyurl.com/m6oq6lt>

[5] For an account of former close associates of Paul Kagame who have since broken with him and the risks they have faced, see Phillip Reyntjens, Political Governance in Post Genocide Rwanda (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), especially “The RPF Challenged from Within,” pp. 85-96. According to Reyntjens, “knowledge of the RPF’s role in the downing of former President Habyarimana’s plane” is what qualifies someone to be “considered a threat” to Kagame; Kagame’s solution is their physical elimination (p. 91).

[6] See Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, Request for the Issuance of International Arrest Warrants, Tribunal de Grande Instance, Paris, France, November 21, 2006. < http://tinyurl.com/kas5n57>

[7] See “Spain judge indicts Rwanda forces,” BBC News, February 6, 2008. < http://tinyurl.com/qzd9qgq >

[8] Obote-Odora, “A rejoinder.” < http://tinyurl.com/m6oq6lt>

[9] UN Security Council Resolution 955 (S/RES/955), November 8, 1994, para. 1, which states that the ICTR is charged with (among other things) “prosecuting persons responsible for the genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda and…neighboring States, between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994….”. < http://tinyurl.com/lljyu9n >

[10] See Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later (Baltimore, MD: The Real News Books, 2014), Sect. 7, “The alleged Hutu ‘conspiracy to commit genocide’ that never was,” pp. 43-46; and Appendix I, “More on the alleged Hutu ‘conspiracy to commit genocide’ that never was,” pp. 78-82. < http://tinyurl.com/mvafkae >


Appendix: The “conspiracy to commit genocide” charge at the ICTR

As we previewed in our article (above), Alex Obote-Odora claims that the judgments filed by the trial and appeals chambers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda provide the “necessary legal precedent for prosecution of present and future perpetrators for conspiracy to commit genocide. It is misleading and irresponsible for Herman and Peterson to suggest that ICTR Trial and Appeals Chambers have not fairly adjudicated on cases of conspiracy to commit genocide.”[1]

To the contrary (and the term “fairly” aside), what we have consistently argued is that, “In their judgments, [the trial and appeals chambers] have been either acquitting Hutu defendants on the ‘conspiracy to commit genocide’ charge, or reversing on appeal previous convictions on this charge.”[2]

But as we have also argued in our article, the “conspiracy to commit genocide” charge ought to refer exclusively to a conspiracy among Rwanda’s Hutu political, military, and civilian leadership that existed some time prior to April 6, 1994, as any meaningful plan to exterminate the country’s minority Tutsi population must have been developed before the Habyarimana jet was shot down and before the violence that followed. But in fact all of the findings of “conspiracy” in ICTR proceedings relate to events that occurred after the assassination of Habyarimana, typically falling within a time-frame that ranges from April 8 or 9, 1994, through the months of May and June, 1994. It follows, therefore, that any alleged conspiracy that dates from some time after the assassination falls outside what is properly understood as the Hutu “conspiracy to commit genocide.” In the context of Rwanda 1994, this is a false and fallacious use of the “conspiracy” notion, and ought to be disqualified.

Table 1.The “conspiracy to commit genocide” charge at the ICTR

The Accused [3]  Verdict on the “conspiracy to commit genocide” charge 
 Justin Mugenzi   “Count 1: GUILTY of Conspiracy to Commit Genocide” [4]“The Appeals Chamber reverses…Mugenzi’s… convictions for conspiracy to commit genocide and enters a verdict of acquittal under Count 1 of the Indictment.” [5]

  Prosper Mugiraneza  “Count 1: GUILTY of Conspiracy to Commit Genocide” [6]“The Appeals Chamber reverses… Mugiraneza’s convictions for conspiracy to commit genocide and enters a verdict of acquittal under Count 1 of the Indictment.” [7]

  Ferdinand Nahimana  “Count 1: Guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Genocide” [8]
“REVERSESthe convictions of Appellant Nahimana based on Article 6(1) of the Statute for the crimes of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and extermination and persecution as crimes against humanity….” [9]  Callixte Nzabonimana  “Count 2: Guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Genocide.” [10]“GRANTS Nzabonimana’s Seventh Ground of Appeal and REVERSES his conviction for conspiracy to commit genocide in relation to events at the Tambwe commune;…AFFIRMS Nzabonimana’s conviction of conspiracy to commit genocide in relation to the Murambi meeting on 18 April 1994….” [11] Pauline Nyiramasuhuko  “Count 1: GUILTY of Conspiracy to Commit Genocide” [12]  Jean Kambanda  Not applicable. [13] Elizer Niyiyegeka “Count Three: Guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Genocide.” [14]

Notes

[1] Alex Obote-Odora, “The Kagame-Power Lobby’s dishonest attack on BBC documentary on Rwanda: A rejoinder,” Pambazuka News (Issue 704), November 28, 2014. < http://tinyurl.com/m6oq6lt>

[2] For our discussion of the alleged Hutu “conspiracy to commit genocide,” see Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later (Baltimore, MD: The Real News Books, 2014), Sect. 7, “The alleged Hutu ‘conspiracy to commit genocide’ that never was,” pp. 43-46; and Appendix I, “More on the alleged Hutu ‘conspiracy to commit genocide’ that never was,” pp. 78-82. < http://tinyurl.com/mvafkae>
[3] The seven accused listed in Table 1, column 1 are drawn from Obote-Odora’s “The Kagame Power Lobby’s dishonest attack on BBC documentary on Rwanda: A rejoinder.” < http://tinyurl.com/m6oq6lt>
[4] Judge Khalida Rachid Khan et al., Judgment, Prosecutor v. Casimir Bizimungu et al., Case No. ICTR-99-50-T, September 30, 2011, Ch. VI, “Verdict,” para. 1988, p. 538. < http://tinyurl.com/mc985pr>
[5] The complete wording here is: “The Appeals Chamber reverses, Judge Liu dissenting, Mugenzi’s and Mugiraneza’s convictions for conspiracy to commit genocide and enters a verdict of acquittal under Count 1 of the Indictment.” Judge Theodor Meron et al., Judgment on Appeal, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza v. The Prosecutor, Appeals Chamber, Case No. ICTR-99-50-A, para. 94, p. 34. < http://tinyurl.com/mljl4un>
[6] Judge Khalida Rachid Khan et al., Judgment, Prosecutor v. Casimir Bizimungu et al., Case No. ICTR-99-50-T, September 30, 2011, Ch. VI, “Verdict,” para. 1988, p. 539. < http://tinyurl.com/mc985pr>
[7] The complete wording here is: “The Appeals Chamber reverses, Judge Liu dissenting, Mugenzi’s and Mugiraneza’s convictions for conspiracy to commit genocide and enters a verdict of acquittal under Count 1 of the Indictment.” Judge Theodor Meron et al., Judgment on Appeal, Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza v. The Prosecutor, Appeals Chamber, Case No. ICTR-99-50-A, para. 94, p. 34. < http://tinyurl.com/mljl4un>
[8] Judge Navanethem Pillay et al.,Summary of Judgment, Prosecutor v. Ferdinand Nahimanaet al., Case No. ICTR-99-52-T, December 3, 2003, Ch. IV, “Verdict,” pp. 28-29. < http://tinyurl.com/qasq7kn>
[9] Judge Fausto Pocar et al., Judgment on Appeal, Ferdinand Nahimana et al. v. The Prosecutor, Appeals Chamber, Case No. ICTR-99-52-A, November 28, 2007, Ch. XVIII, “Disposition,” p. 346. In the words of the Appeals Chamber’s reversal of the original Judgment: “The Appeals Chamber finds that a reasonable trier of fact could not conclude beyond reasonable doubt, on the basis of the elements recalled above, that the only reasonable possible inference was that the Appellants had personally collaborated and organized institutional coordination between RTLM, the CDR and Kangura with the specific purpose of committing genocide. The Chamber allows this ground of appeal of the Appellants and sets aside the convictions of Appellants Nahimana, Barayagwiza and Ngeze for the crime of conspiracy to commit genocide….” Ibid., “Conclusion,”para. 912, p. 292. < http://tinyurl.com/ljm5lyj>
[10] Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa et al., Judgment, The Prosecutor v. Callixte Nzabonimana, Case No. ICTR-98-44D-T, May 31, 2012, Ch. V, “Verdict,” para. 1800, p. 360. Note well, however, that Nzabonimana’s alleged conspiracy is said to have begun on April 18, 1994; therefore, by its timing alone, it falls outside what is properly understood as the Hutu “conspiracy to commit genocide.” < http://tinyurl.com/lyy9rzp>
[11] Judge Mehmet Güney et al., Judgment on Appeal, Callixte Nzabonimana v. The Prosecutor, Case No. ICTR-98-44D-A, September 29, 2014, Ch. VI, “Disposition,” para. 497, p. 169. < http://tinyurl.com/ktt5uwl>
[12] Judge William H. Sekule et al., Judgment, Prosecutor v. Pauline Nyiramasuhuko et al., Case No. ICTR-98-42-T, June 24, 2011, Ch. V, “Verdict,” para. 6186, p. 1449. < http://tinyurl.com/n6k63xz > It is important to add, however, of the six defendants in the “Butare cases” whose cases had been joined and tried together, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko was the only person among the six defendants whom the court found guilty of the “conspiracy to commit genocide” charge—the other five were found “not guilty” of the charge. As we have argued elsewhere, given the contradictory character of Nyiramasuhuko’s conviction in the context of the five acquittals, does the court expect us to believe that Nyiramasuhuko conspired with her co-conspirators, but her co-conspirators never conspired with her? Note additionally that Nyiramasuhuko’s alleged conspiracy is said to have begun on and after April 9, 1994; therefore, by its timing alone, it falls outside what is properly understood as the Hutu “conspiracy to commit genocide.” Nyiramasuhuko has appealed her conviction on the conspiracy charge, and we fully expect it to be reversed, like the others.
[13] Jean Kambanda served as prime minister of Rwanda’s Interim Government, which was formed on April 8-9, 1994, in the aftermath of the assassination of President Habyarimana, and existed in a largely nominal sense until sometime in July 1994. For reasons related to how Kambanda was badly mistreated and deceived by agents of the ICTR (including by his court-appointed counsel) between the date of his arrest in Nairobi in July 1997, and the date he finally agreed to enter a plea agreement with the Prosecutor at the ICTR, in late April, 1998, we reject any attribution of the “conspiracy to commit genocide” charge to him, and do not believe that his name belongs on this list. (See John Laughland, A History of Political Trials from Charles I to Saddam Hussein (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2008), Ch. 16, “Jean Kambanda, Convicted without Trial,” pp. 207-220.)
[14] Judge Navanethem Pillay et al., Judgment, The Prosecutor v. Elizer Niyitegeka, Case No. ICTR-96-14-T, May 16, 2001, Ch. IV, “Verdict,” para. 480, N.P. Note well, however, that Niyitegeka’s alleged conspiracy is said to have begun on and after April 9, 1994; therefore, by its timing alone, it falls outside what is properly understood as the Hutu “conspiracy to commit genocide.” < http://tinyurl.com/q8nmajq>

Escalated Kiev Aggression on Donbass

January 20th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

A previous article said Kiev never abided by its ceasefire agreed on terms. Systematically violating them straightaway.

Conflict continues daily. Ongoing since Kiev launched premeditated aggression last April. Mobilizing now for escalated conflict.

Supported by Washington politically, economically and militarily. With heavy weapons supplied covertly. Authorized by the so-called Ukraine Freedom Support Act (UFSA) of 2014.

Illegitimate oligarch president Petro Poroshenko vowed to crush Donbas democracy. Replace it with hardline rule.

Abolish fundamental freedoms. Institute repressive harshness. Several earlier articles warned of all-out war on Donbass.

Naked aggression by any standard. Targeting civilian neighborhoods. Murdering noncombatant men, women and children in cold blood.

Using banned chemical and other illegal weapons. Committing horrific atrocities. With full US support and encouragement.

One fascist regime supports another. Horrific crimes of war and against humanity continue unabated.

On Sunday, RT International reported “massive” Kiev shelling on Donbas.

On orders from Kiev. Poroshenko aide Yury Biryukov announced it early Sunday morning. Saying on his Facebook page:

“Today we will show HOW good we are at jabbing in the teeth.” Later adding “(t)hey are now striking a dot. Uuu.”

Referencing a Tochka-U tactical ballistic missile. RT called it “one of the most powerful weapons Ukraine so far” used against Donbas.

Local reports confirmed heavy fighting. Interfax reported Donbas residents saying “they haven’t heard such intensive shelling since summer.”

Citing Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) military representative Valentin Motuzenko.

Ukraine’s military is “using all kinds of weapons,” he said. Including “(g)rad multiple rocket launchers, mortars,” and tactical ballistic missiles, according to RT’s report.

Plus heavy artillery fire. Indiscriminately targeting civilian neighborhoods. Standard Kiev practice. Murdering noncombatants in cold blood.

DPR Prime Minister Aleksandr Zakharchenko accused Kiev of agreeing to ceasefire terms to regroup. Rearm. Mobilize. Deploy. In preparation for escalating all-out war.

“It’s clear that Kiev is making an attempt to take revenge for the serious military defeat it took from the militia last year,” he stressed.

“Kiev always ignored our numerous suggestions to pull back heavy weapons from the disengagement line.”

“At the moment, we are aware of five civilians killed.” Heavy Kiev shelling continues.

Residential buildings, a shop and bus station incurred heavy damage. Putilovsky Bridge near Donetsk’s airport was destroyed.

Maleevka and nearby villages were attacked. At least one shell struck central residential Donetsk.

Gorlovka’s bus station was targeted. Casualties included two deaths and 16 injuries.

City buildings took direct hits. Including four schools and a kindergarten.

Witnesses said Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-24 warplanes participated in the assault.

Imagine using them to kill civilians. Replicating Israel’s summer genocide in Gaza.

Around 80% of over 2,200 killed and around 11,000 injured were civilians. Willfully targeted. Longstanding Israeli practice.

Kiev operates the same way. One fascist regime like the other.

DPR’s Foreign Ministry called on world leaders to “make every effort to stop unpunished mass murder in the heart of Europe.”

DPR Foreign Minister Aleksandr Kofman was clear and unequivocal saying:

“The People’s Republic of Donetsk again suffered a treacherous and large-scale attack from Ukraine.”

Intended to destroy an entire population and infrastructure. “(B)ear(ing all characteristics of war crimes.”

Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov expressed outrage. Saying “Russia(‘s) side will be expressed.”

“Of course, it involves serious concerns over the resumption of full scale warfare in Donetsk, including shelling of populated residential areas.”

“And, of course, such a state of affairs doesn’t promote the fulfillment of the (September) Minsk agreements and the further search for a peaceful solution.”

Clearly, Kiev spurns one. Prioritizing all-out war. Violence escalated after Kiev’s military targeted a bus near Volnovasha.

Killing 12 civilian passengers. Injuring 18 others. Wrongfully blaming Donbas self-defense forces.

An OSCE observer team concluded otherwise. Saying rockets fireds came from Kiev held territory. Ones used weren’t identified.

On Sunday, Sputnik News quoted Poroshenko vowing not to “yield another inch” of Ukrainian territory.

Saying “(w)e will take back Donbas. We will restore Ukrainian heritage, and we will demonstrate that our unity is another crucial factor in our victory.”

“We will be victorious. There will be peace in Ukraine. We will protect and revive our state.”

Kiev escalated conflict after rejecting Putin’s plan for both sides to halt artillery fire, according to Peskov.

“In recent days, Russia has consistently made efforts to mediate the conflict,” he said.

“In particular, on Thursday night…Putin sent a written message to Ukrainian President Poroshenko, in which both sides of the conflict were offered a concrete plan for removal of heavy artillery.”

Poroshenko got Putin’s letter Friday morning. Rejecting it out of hand. Likely on orders from Washington.

Including wanting conflict escalated. Peskov calling conditions on the ground an “absolute degradation of the situation in the southeast of Ukraine.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Kiev of using ceasefire agreed on terms to “regroup its forces, trying to take a course for further escalation of the conflict with a purpose to ‘settle’ it in a military way.”

“We are deeply concerned by the fact that the Ukrainian side continues to increase its military presence in the southeast of the country in violation of the Minsk agreements,” it stressed.

Look for naked Kiev aggression to continue. Donbas freedom fighters unfairly blamed.

Expect lots more mass slaughter and destruction. Mostly civilians affected. Suffering most like always in wars.

Especially ones directed against them. Like Israel against Gaza. Kiev against Donbas. Horrific war crimes by any standard.

No end of conflict looms. Fully supported by Washington and rogue NATO partners.

Perhaps wanting Donbass’ entire population exterminated. Genocide is longstanding US-dominated NATO policy. Don’t expect this time to be different.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

The Syrian conflict continues to develop into a proxy war, pitting various foreign ‘national interests’ against one another, including Iran vs. Israel.

Israel launched its sixth airstrike inside Syria in the last 18 months, in what the local media are describing as a ‘targeted killing’ carried out  Sunday, killing at least 6 members of Hezbollah and al Quds Iranian Guard who were fighting ISIS, al Nusra and others in Syria. Among those killed in the missile attack was Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the former Hezbollah head, Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated by the IDF in Damascus in 2008.

Local media reported that a car with six men on board was en route from Lebanon to Syria when its occupants were killed by a US-made Israeli helicopter.


The Israel raid took place near the Syrian city of Al Quneitra (see map below) near the Golan Heights region. Israel has long sought to forcibly annex Syria’s Golan Heights area and past aggression by Israel forced the UN to intervene by passing UN Resolution 497 in 1981, and placing a UNIFIL international peacekeeping force there until recently, when they were driven out of their position by Jabhat al Nusra terrorist fighters who received strategic, financial and military backing from Israel’s IDF.

Back in Sept., Israel used its IDF Patriot Missile battery to provide air cover to ISIS in the Golan Heights, to shoot down a Syrian MIG21, allegedly because it “violated Israeli airspace”, but the Israeli move aided ISIS in its advance through the area.


In addition, according to Fars News Agency, also killed in the Israeli attack inside Syria was an Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander, Mohammad-Ali Allahdadi, who was fighting alongside Damascus’s anti-ISIS coalition.

#Iran #IRGC Gen. Allahdadi martyred in tonight’s Israeli attack in #Syria along w/ #Hezbollah commanders pic.twitter.com/kSX0TUcQbo

— H.Soleimani (@MashreghNews_ir) January 18, 2015

Lebanon’s Shi’ite-oriented Hezbollah militia force is traditionally backed by Iran. In 2013, the group made it publicly known that they were fighting alongside the Syrian army in order to repel US and Saudi-backed Salafist terrorist groups and other western-backed foreign Islamist militants who have been gradually flooding into Syria since 2011, as part of the Washington-Riyadh-Tel Aviv Axis powers in their plan to topple the al Assad government in Damascus.


Hezbollah has vowed retaliation for Sunday’s Israeli attack. Previously, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (image above) said how an Israeli attack in Syria is equivalent to an attack on Lebanon itself. It’s believed by Hezbollah that Sunday’s strike was the first of many intentional military provocations by Israel, who hope to draw out Hezbollah into a wider conflict, and thus helping ISIS, al Nusra and Washington’s “moderate rebel” FSA forces to over-run the Assad government and his forces in Syria.  It is doubtful however, that Hezbollah will respond any time soon, or open a new military front against Israel in South Lebanon, not least of all because of key domestic Lebanese ‘reconciliation’ talks currently underway across political and religious lines in the country.

Sunday’s attack raises more questions about Israel’s military role in the Syrian conflict, and why they would be providing air cover and official military support to ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian Army and its allies.

As 21WIRE reported back in December after its previous Israeli attack in Syria, contrary to popular belief, Israel is very much involved in the destabilization of Syria, and providing direct support to ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups operating inside Syria.

Under direct pressure from the US, UN Security Council members do not appear to be willing to suggest sanctions, or hold Israel responsible in any way for any its repeated attacks against its neighbors, for fear of what misfortunes and diplomatic difficulties might befall them. As a result, Israel has been acting with impunity in the region. Since 2006, Israel has conducted several air strikes on Syria. Below is a description of those attacks:

Al Quneitra (18 January 2015) – Missile attack near the Golan Heights, killing 6 Hezbollah and Iranian anti-ISIS soldiers, including one al Quds commander.

Damascus and Dimas attack (7 December 2014) – Alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria against a warehouse of advanced S-300 missiles, which were en route to Hezbollah in Lebanon.[25]
Missile Strike at Golan Heights (23 September 2014) - IDF Patriot Missile battery shot down a Syrian MIG21, allegedly because it violated Israeli airspace. 
Beqaa Valley airstrike
 (24 February 2014) – Two airstrikes against an alleged Hezbollah missile base in Lebanon near the border with Syria.[21]
2nd Latakia attack (26 January 2014) – Alleged Israeli airstrike against a Syrian warehouse of S-300 missiles.[20]
Snawbar airstrike (30 October 2013) – Alleged Israeli airstrike at an air defense site in Snawbar.[19]
Latakia explosion (5 July 2013) – Alleged Israeli airstrike on a Syrian depot containing Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles.[18]
Airstrikes on Syria (3-5 May 2013) – Airstrikes on Syria against alleged long-ranged weapons sent from Iran to Hezbollah.[16][17]
Jamraya airstrike (30 January 2013) – Alleged Israeli airstrike on a Syrian convoy allegedly transporting weapons to Hezbollah.[14] Other sources stated the targeted site was a military research center in Jamraya responsible for developing biological and chemical weapons.[15]
Operation Orchard (6 September 2007) Israeli airstrike on a ‘suspected’ nuclear reactor[4] in the Deir ez-Zor region[5] of Syria. The Israeli and U.S. governments imposed virtually total news blackouts immediately after the raid that held for seven months.[6]
Ain es Saheb airstrike (5 October 2003) - Israeli Air Force operation against an alleged Palestinian militant training camp in Ain es Saheb, Syria.

Additionally, Israel has attacked Lebanon repeatedly, most notably in 2006 when it slaughtered some 1,500 Lebanoese civilians during it’s indiscriminate bombing raids hitting residential areas and targeting ‘infrastructure’ in neighboring Lebanon:

Operation Just Reward (12 July – 14 August 2006) - Israeli counterattack which began with air force bombing of Hezbollah positions in Southern Lebanon. Israel attacked Lebanon in this bloody siege which ended with 1,191 Lebanese dead in total (including combatants and foreign civilians in Lebanon) with over 4,000 injured. The IDF lost only 121 soldiers, and Israeli civilians said to have died were 43.

A new observational study confirms the hypothesis that Roundup herbicide (glyphosate) is behind the mysterious global epidemic of chronic kidney disease that has taken thousands of lives. 

Back in early 2014, in an article titled “Roundup Weedkiller Linked To Global Epidemic of Fatal Kidney Disease,” we first reported on a paper proposing a causal link between exposure to the world’s most popular herbicide (glyphosate) and a mysterious and deadly kidney disorder afflicting agriculture-intensive areas in Sri Lanka.

The paper would eventually garner such widespread attention that it compelled the Sri Lankan government to order a ban on Roundup in March of 2014, but it has since been reported that it is still being made widely available for purchase.

You can review the study abstract to get further background on their hypothesis:

Abstract: The current chronic kidney disease epidemic, the major health issue in the rice paddy farming areas in Sri Lanka has been the subject of many scientific and political debates over the last decade. Although there is no agreement among scientists about the etiology of the disease, a majority of them has concluded that this is a toxic nephropathy. None of the hypotheses put forward so far could explain coherently the totality of clinical, biochemical, histopathological findings, and the unique geographical distribution of the disease and its appearance in the mid-1990s. A strong association between the consumption of hard water and the occurrence of this special kidney disease has been observed, but the relationship has not been explained consistently. Here, we have hypothesized the association of using glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the disease endemic area and its unique metal chelating properties. The possible role played by glyphosate-metal complexes in this epidemic has not been given any serious consideration by investigators for the last two decades. Furthermore, it may explain similar kidney disease epidemics observed in Andra Pradesh (India) and Central America. Although glyphosate alone does not cause an epidemic of chronic kidney disease, it seems to have acquired the ability to destroy the renal tissues of thousands of farmers when it forms complexes with a localized geo environmental factor (hardness) and nephrotoxic metals.

Since the publication of this paper, critics have argued the hypothesis suffers from a lack of data, and that any discussion of health concerns associated with this herbicide are simply anti-biotech propaganda.

Roundup Linked to Kidney Disease Epidemic In First Observational Study of Its Kind

In answer to critics’ concerns, a newly published study titled “Drinking well water and occupational exposure to Herbicides is associated with chronic kidney disease, in Padavi-Sripura, Sri Lanka,” fills the alleged data gap. Researchers sought to identify risk factors associated with chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) among paddy farmers; a disease which they described as “the most important health issue in the dry zone of Sri Lanka.”

The study method was described as follows:

A case control study was carried out in Padavi-Sripura hospital in Trincomalee district. CKDu patients were defined using health ministry criteria. All confirmed cases (N = 125) fulfilling the entry criteria were recruited to the study. Control selection (N = 180) was done from people visiting the hospital for CKDu screening. Socio-demographic and data related to usage of applying pesticides and fertilizers were studied. Drinking water was also analyzed using ICP-MS and ELISA to determine the levels of metals and glyphosate. [Read the entire study here]

Up to 5 Times Higher Risk of Kidney Disease In Those Exposed To Glyphosate

The study found that the highest risk for CKDu occurred in participants who:

  • Drank well water (2.52 fold increased risk)

  • Had a history of drinking water from an abandoned well (5.43 fold increased risk)

  • Sprayed glyphosate (5.12 fold increased risk)

  • Were male (4.69 fold increased risk versus women)

The researchers also analyzed water samples from the area and found:

Water analysis showed significantly higher amount of hardness, electrical conductivity and glyphosate levels in abandoned wells. In addition Ca, Mg, Ba, Sr, Fe, Ti, V and Sr were high in abandoned wells. Surface water from reservoirs in the endemic area also showed contamination with glyphosate but at a much lower level.

The discovery of higher water hardness, and higher levels of glyphosate and the elements Ca, Mg, Ba, Sr, Fe, Ti, V and Sr, support the hypothesis that the epidemic of kidney damage is being caused by the cumulative and synergistic toxicity of glyphosate and metals in the water these Sri Lankans are being exposed to.

The researchers discussed their findings:

The present study revealed that male farmers from Padavi-Sripura, who spray glyphosate, drink well water and had history of drinking from an abandoned well, are at a significantly higher risk of developing CKDu. This association is evident even after adjusting for all the baseline and exposure variables. This is the first study in Sri Lanka that analyses the association of CKDu among farmers with the type of pesticide and most widely used pesticide during their lifetime.

An explanation was offered for why males were found to be at an increased risk for CKDu:

Due to the strenuous exertion needed for carrying a 16 L or 20 L metal sprayer full of liquid pesticides on their back for several hours, the spraying function has been exclusively delegated to the male farmers.

The researchers concluded:

The current study strongly supports the hypothesis that CKDu in Sri Lanka is a drinkingwater-related disease in farmers who have a history of spraying glyphosate. Further studies should focus the abandoned drinking water sources in areas with high prevalence of the disease and investigate the link between CKDu and glyphosate in particular and heavy metals in drinking water.

Far Bigger Than Just Sri Lanka’s Problem

Now that there is solid observational data to support the hypothesis that glyphosate herbicide is behind the kidney disease epidemic affecting 400,000 Sri Lanka (with an estimated death toll of 20,000 thus far), it should be pointed out that this is not the only region in the world at risk. Similar agricultural regions afflicted with chronic kidney disease of unknown origin exist in India, Egypt and Central America. You can watch the 5-minute documentaries “Mystery in the Fields” and “Cycle of Death” to learn about other afflicted areas.

The reality is that we are all at risk. Anyone exposed to glyphosate — which is anyone who drinks water, breaths the air, or eats non-organic food – could be subject to its kidney-harming effects. In fact, we reported on the alarming increase in kidney disease in the U.S. since the inception of glyphosate-dependent GM farming.

Moreover, glyphosate is a wide spectrum toxicant. We have identified over 27 mechanisms through which it harms mammalian physiology, and published studies on 50 diseases that it may cause or contribute to. Is it any wonder that increasingly people are calling not just for “truth in labeling” initiatives but an outright ban on GMOs and the dangerous chemicals like glyphosate that contaminate them all?

Cruelty in Papua New Guinea: Hunger Strike on Manus Island

January 20th, 2015 by Binoy Kampmark

An update on the Australian asylum seeker saga, which will seem awfully like the previous updates on the situation, is in order.  Now, the hunger strike on Manus Island is assuming the force of an imperative, though at this writing, it seems to be dissipating. Almost 700 detainees on the Australian offshore detention centre were protesting Canberra’s plans to seek permanent resettlement on the island.

The very idea of settling processed residents in Papua New Guinea has been deemed a nightmare of population planning.  Detainees fear the locals in the event of being moved to Lorengau.  An indigent state such as PNG, with limited infrastructure and facilities to process refugees, let alone resettle them, actually imperils applicants once their claims are fully processed.

In November 2014, PNG’s Immigration Minister refused to give any guarantee for the safety of detainees who were resettled.  PNG’s politicians know that the policy is unpopular.  As Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young explained, “They [the detainees] were attacked in the camp and they’ll be attacked on the outside” (Greens, Nov 13, 2014).

The protests began last Tuesday, with reports that detainees have been undertaking action previously seen at other detention centres: swallowing blades, consuming washing powder, sewing lips together.  There have been reports of specific detainees being refused water, though the general requisite dosage is generally not abided by.

This disturbing psychological portrait does not conjure up sympathy among the Australian political classes, who merely accuse the detainees of sentimental, heart-tugging indulgence.  “The scale of the humanitarian disaster on Manus Island,” writes Nick Riemer, “defies our basic capacity to imagine it” (The Guardian, Jan 19).

Riemer finds it disturbing that the same politicians that lined up with funereal respect for the victims of the Sydney hostage taking and Charlie Hebdo attacks would prove selective in dealing with victims of another traumatic situation.  “How selective we are in the victims that provoke our outrage.” The Australian state, instead, has inflicted “needless, intense and protracted suffering on vulnerable people who have done nothing more than ask us for our help.”

The hunger strikers saw a chance in overwhelming the facilities with their well channelled anxieties.  Medical staff and various refugee advocacy groups have noted that the centre is inadequate for handling the health demands posed by such an action.  Doctors for Refugees member and Sydney-based general practitioner Barri Phatarfod was quoted as claiming that, “They don’t have the capacity to handle a hunger strike of even one-tenth of that size” (Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 19).

The authorities may well have known that, and for that reasons, resolved to break it.  Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott is assuming that what he has termed a “blockade” was “defeated”.  “There was a well-organised, well-coordinated protest in some parts of the Manus centre. It amounted to a blockade.”  The blockade had been “lifted,” though Abbott was not forthcoming about injuries, the “important thing” was that “order has been restored”.  Up to 30 men have been removed from the Oscar and Delta compounds, with some of them sent to isolation.

Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition told the BBC that 58 individuals have been arrested, which goes to show in rather perverse fashion that those in seemingly interminable detention can also suffer arrest.

The new Immigration Minister Peter Dutton merely follows the standard position the Liberal National Coalition and the Australian Labor Party have taken since the 1990s, give or take various extremes: asylum seekers are the problem; processing such offensive human material offshore in distant, indigent places, is the solution.

Accord to Dutton,

“Whilst there has been a change of minister, the absolute resolve of me as the new minister and of the government is to make sure that for those transferees, they will never arrive in Australia.  They will never be settled in Australia.”

Dutton has also adopted a stock standard technique from this predecessors: blame the activists for “coaching” asylum seekers about their rights. While this should be deemed a necessary function of discharging obligations under the Refugee Convention, Canberra has deemed it a hindrance, limiting contact with the detainees.  “My very clear message today is to people that would seek to misinform these transferees, that somehow if their behaviour is changed or that they become non-compliant, that somehow that will result in them settling in Australia: it will not” (The Guardian, Jan 16).

The policy has assumed a gospel like force, becoming an immoveable assumption of Australian politics. It is measured in terms of boats stopped rather than people saved from persecution – a single one in 2014 compared to 401 in 2013.  This statistic is sugared with humanitarian pretence: in doing so, less drowning took place, though verification of this is always shrouded in operational mystery.  The core of the policy is that people cannot arrive in Australia via different channels, evading the fictional premises of a queue which is miraculously found in zones of conflict and persecution.

In the Australian context, the offshore resettlement policy remains more than a travesty. It has been an unnecessarily cruel measure of unimaginative, and ultimately selfish, political classes.

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

With the richest 1% owning more than the rest of us 99%-ers combined on this planet starting next year, it’s fair and accurate to say we earthlings are living in economic slavery and feudal bondage. With no exaggeration, our world has been hijacked and stolen by a handful of psychopathic rulers bent on destroying us. My last article was how they were killing us with their Big Pharma drugs, keeping us sick, toxically and literally squeezing the life out of us with compromised, weakening immune systems, and dying slow profitable deaths for Big Pharma.

My piece only touched on the threat that alternative medicine poses on eating into Big Pharma’s monopolizing unprecedented profits. It’s been the longtime objective and unfolding reality that this privileged elite has been eliminating all competition in its ruthless path to absolute oligarchy. Big Business be it Big Pharma or other Fortune 500 corporations will stop at nothing to destroy anything and anyone that threatens its economic stranglehold over the people on this planet. This examination focuses on the militarized Gestapo-like tactics the elite deploys to take out Big Pharma’s biggest competitor – the vitamin-herbal supplement industry and how Big Business in this predatory cannibalistic dog-eat-dog world is bent towards taking out small business.

In the last twenty years more and more US citizens have turned to more affordable alternative health for treatment and health maintenance. And no larger outlet within this alternative health movement is the vitamin supplement industry. Because Big Pharma sees this emerging alternative to using prescribed toxic drugs as a direct threat to their profits and monopolizing theft, Big Pharma has descended on Washington to destroy the vitamin and herbal supplement industry. Through the lobbying power that pours millions into the pockets of our elected representatives, effectively bribing US Congress, Big Pharma has manipulated a 1994 law designed to keeping us safe to seventeen years later passing another safety law designed to kill the burgeoning natural supplements industry.

As an outspoken critic of Big Pharma and the thoroughly broken healthcare system, health expert Dr. Gary Null has devoted decades to informing and educating us about the powers of natural healing through healthy diet. He recently produced an incisive, mind-blowing documentary called “War on Health” exposing the evils of the Food and Drug Administration that’s 40% funded by Big Pharma as its hired guns and thugs out to cripple and destroy the vitamin herbal nutritional supplement companies. Using tactics straight out of Nazi Germany, they have been raiding, ransacking, locking up, extorting and attacking small companies across the United States selling wholesome and healthy natural supplemental products that have proven to do no harm – unlike Big Pharma.

Shamefully the US government has become a traitor and an enemy of the people in its criminal efforts to wipe out the one natural health business that actually has been proven to deliver positive results. Big Pharma has sought to sic the fascist fed army of 100,000 FDA Gestapo agents on what is most healthy and good for the people in order to eliminate our choice over our own self-care, health and well-being.

As an example of the hellish strategies the feds are currently pulling, beginning in this century  the FDA have launched multiple raids arresting owners of organic coops and farms. In August 2011 the owner and farmers supplying products to Rawesome Foods, an organic private food coop near Los Angeles, were raided and arrested. It involved no less than five government agencies seizing $70,000 worth of produce and raw dairy products. The fact that it’s a private company selling healthy organic food to its private members, thereby not needing the same licenses and permits required for selling to the public, didn’t matter at all. These raids are out to make the bold reprehensible statement to small enterprising, health-conscious businesses nationwide. And that statement is Big Pharma via the feds are out to kill all fresh food and natural supplement products because they’re literally too good for our health and precisely not the poisonous processed foods and toxic chemical prescription drugs that are notoriously bad for our health.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 was passed redefining vitamin supplements as food rather than drugs. Then under the deceptive cover of “safety,” seventeen years later along came the falsely entitled Food Safety Modernization Act that Obama signed into law in January 2011. It was specifically designed to do Big Pharma’s shady bidding as another draconian law that stands to allocate more taxpayer dollars to hire yet more FDA agents to shut down more organic farmers, trespassing our freedom to the extent of outlawing even vegetable gardening on our own private property. It imposes on the supplement industry proof that its products are safe with mandated independent scientific research. The irony of that preposterous ploy is that natural vitamins and minerals are far safer under current guidelines than the Big Pharma drugs known to be synthetic toxins, yet FDA protects them. This law was simply designed to enhance and protect Big Pharma, the FDA authority, the Big Agri-industry, Monsanto, GMO proliferation and attack small independent farmers and even ownership of non-GMO seeds. The law burdens farmers with additional paperwork bureaucracy as another means to drive small businesses into bankruptcy. Pomegranates, walnuts, cherries cannot be sold or advertised with the true claims that they have certain medicinal effects on human health.

This is what America the nation of the no longer free has become. Our US government goes to great lengths to make sure that large evil corporations out purely for profit and greed are protected at the detrimental expense of human lives, while harassing, arresting, fining and ultimately putting out of business companies and citizens that actually do us good, determined and dedicated to benefit our health and well-being.  Harassing, incarcerating and killing innocent law abiding citizens who are only doing good for their fellow human beings have unfortunately and tragically become commonplace here in America. The fascist government no longer represents the people’s best interests but by simple nature of oligarchy has co-opted with private profit-driven corporations to ensure our enslavement and vanishing freedom of choice. In its sinister aim of making and keeping us ill, Gov. Corp. (through Big Pharma and its co-opted feds as its teeth of enforcement) systematically and relentlessly resorts to criminal harassment and litigation while Big Pharma busily writes loophole legislation that our treasonous politicians sign off on that then authorizes FDA storm troopers sent out around the country literally tearing down small companies, farms, retail stores and business owners that offer beneficial products that help us become and stay healthy. It’s become an insane upside down world where the merging of Big Business and Big Government operates as a demonic criminal racketeering right out of the Mafia or Nazi Germany. The nightmare that is the New World Order is already here.

Speaking of Germany, there is an international organization that is in cahoots with the FDA out to completely eliminate any and all options we have to use natural means of vitamin and herbal supplements for our own health. Enter  Codex Alimentarius Commission as a direct historical offshoot founded in 1962 by a Nazi responsible for concentration camp deaths and furnishing human subjects for Dr. Mengele’s inhumane experimentation. This organization has regulated potency of vitamins limiting international unit strength of vitamin supplements in Europe. It virtually cuts off all supply of vitamin supplements on that continent that are therapeutically beneficial and currently working with the US FDA to do the same here. Tying it into the World Trade Organization as an international regulator, their next anticipated move will be toward “HARMonizing” uniform standards. There are also plans to impose a lowered standard of vitamin dosage that can be purchased over-the-counter and requiring higher dose levels that are necessary for any medicinal benefit to only be attained through prescription. Big Pharma is closing in on ensuring it gets its cut and as another means for making even more profits. By limiting the minimal international units on every vitamin supplement and thus rendering it completely ineffective and useless, the demonic control over what humans can and cannot ingest in their own bodies for their own well-being is usurping our rights and capacity to live healthy lives. Paul Hellyer in his book The Evil Empire states:

[The Codex Alimentarius Commission] will create a world without borders ruled by a virtual  dictatorship of the world’s most powerful central banks and multinational companies. This world is  an absolute certainty if we all sit on our hands and do nothing.

The insidious evil addressed in my recent article “The Evils of Big Pharma Exposed” ends up a gross understatement of the growing cancer (both figuratively and literally) spreading to every corner of the globe. Meanwhile, half of Big Pharma’s drugs on the market end up being recalled after harming and killing thousands of people. In fact, Vioxx killed 60,000 Americans before it was taken off the market, more than the number of Americans who died in Vietnam. A drug contaminated with the  HIV virus for hemophiliacs was known by both drug makers Bayer and Baxter Pharmaceuticals to be deadly. Yet in their demonic lust for profit, the companies sold it in Europe, Asia and South America knowingly infecting and killing hundreds of children. Not one executive from either Bayer or Baxter was arrested or charged with a crime. Yet this clearly was murder. The FDA continues looking the other way allowing humans to die, doing nothing to stop Big Pharma’s industry-wide practice that constantly places unsafe lethal drugs on the market.

This destructive totalitarian pattern of feds’ harassing and demolishing the natural supplement industry is being replicated across the nation against small business owners who’ve caught the eye and ire of powerful special interests. The oligarchic system favors only Big Business and goes out of its way to eliminate all competition, regardless of its small size or not. All it takes is one individual with high connections to any number of government agencies in this massive security surveillance complex to, in one broad stroke, defame your name and reputation with lies, and the same army of federal destroyers are being unleashed to ruin yet more innocent people’s lives. One can be an honest, hardworking, ethically guided individual with sterling integrity and impeccable reputation all his or her life, but if for whatever reason a corrupt and ruthless player holding inside power connections decides to go after you with false accusations, your life and your small business can immediately be engulfed indefinitely in embattled conflict, legal harassment and irreversible turmoil.

Years of litigation and demands to produce hundreds if not thousands of bureaucratic paperwork document requirements are designed to wear down targeted individuals, forcing them to deplete their life savings in legal defense fees in efforts to right the wrong and clear their name. This is also what America has become, where those imbued with unlimited finances means, resources and power can abusively launch smear campaigns that result in honest, law abiding citizens going to jail on entirely fabricated charges. Especially since the 9/11 coup de tat, the system is heavily rigged as treachery abounds. The justice system we all thought protected us with constitutional rights is neither no longer upheld nor honored. Again, we as a people must rise up and fight the oppressive totalitarian regime that’s made a complete mockery of our American ideals.

The ruling powers are currently utilizing the militarized arms of their fascist tyrannical governments around the world as henchmen executioners out to destroy any movement afoot that dare offers health and prosperity to us little people of the world. So it’s up to us informed and empowered masses – the oligarch’s most feared enemy – to start taking back our God given planet that is rightfully ours from the monsters who are harassing and poisoning us to death. We as one unified global population need to begin reclaiming our stretched-to-resilient limits, natural and sacred earth. We’ve been blessed with humanity’s modern heroes such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi whose sacrifices have left us the powerful, inspirational legacy and gift to follow their lead practicing civil disobedience and the power of mindful choice to challenge the elite’s scourge that’s been afflicting our planet far too long. Let the truth, justice, wisdom and courage they demonstrated be our role models guiding us to victory.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.

What’s more Dangerous than Terrorists in Paris?

January 20th, 2015 by Eric Sommer

In the wake of the horrific Charlie Hebdo massacre, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian  made the following statement .  “¡°Today,” he said, “the new and serious element is that there is no dividing line between the external threat and the internal threat.” He made this statement as he sought to .justify  the current mobilizaiton of ten thousand French troops inside France as well as the expanding French military role in U.S.-led neo-colonial wars in the Middle East and else where.  

This statement parallels a historic statement by Adolf Hitler which was also said to justify both military build-up for foreign wars of aggression and suppression of working class and other democratic organizations at home:

“The universities are filled with students and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. The Soviet Union is threatening us with her might and the republic is in danger. Yes, danger from within and without. We need law and order.”

Such ‘dangers from within and without’ claims are the tried-and-true method for preparing ordinary people, who do not want war or the suppression of democratic rights, to accept both.

The mass march of one-and-a-half million people in Paris, attended by 40 world leaders, might lead one to believe that Islamic jiihadist terrorism is a major threat to the safety and lives and democratic rights of French people and the people in other European or other countries.

But the reality is quite different.

The danger posed to democratic rights and peoples’ lives is virtually infinitesimal compared to everyday occurrences, not to mention far deadlier forms of terrorism orchestrated or supported by some of the same 40 world leaders who appeared in Paris

The U.S. state – supported by its EU allies – has in recent years imposed on the world massive state-sponsored forms of terrorism which have killed not dozens, as in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but hundreds of thousands or millions.  It’s drone terrorism has killed thousands of people, most of them innocent bystanders, and these attacks are  carried out without any judicial oversight or ordinary court proceedings; U.S.-led economic terrorism in the form of sanctions has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths in the middle east and elsewhere; and its ; proto-warfare terrorism has been used  to kills masses of people and overturn governments using Jihadists as proxies in places like Libya or Syria, or neo-fascist parties like Svoboda and Right-Sector in the Ukraine; and its’ outright wars of military aggression in violation of international law which claim far more lives each year th terrorism.

What’s more, at least in the U.S., unarmed civilians are more likely to be killed by police – at least 450 each year – than by Jihadist terrorists. As for France, vastly greater numbers of people are killed annually by cigarettes, cars, and so-called economic austerity policies which drive people to deaths through outright suicide or by stress.

Beyond the mass media hype, and beyond the pseudo-concern for democratic rights and human lives of many of the 40 leaders who marched in Paris, lies the truth: The horrific Charlie Hebdo massacre is being used by the U.S., France, Germany, Britain, and some other EU governments as the pretext to steamroller public opinion into supporting anti-democratic measures at home, including mass domestic deployment of the military and new repressive legislation;  expansion of Ilocal and global police-state-style systems like the NSA; and a further escalation of imperialist wars of aggression aimed at control of the resource rich and geo-strategically important area of the Middle East.

Martin Luther King: An American Hero. Where is his Replacement?

January 20th, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Today (January 19) is Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday.

 King was an American civil rights leader who was assassinated 47 years ago on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39.  James Earl Ray was blamed for the murder. Initially, Ray admitted the murder, apparently under advice from his attorney in order to avoid the death penalty, but Ray soon withdrew his confession and unsuccessfully sought a jury trial.

Documents of the official investigation remain secret until the year 2027.

As Wikipedia reports, “The King family does not believe Ray had anything to do with the murder of Martin Luther King. . . . The King family and others believe that the assassination was carried out by a conspiracy involving the U.S. government, and that James Earl Ray was a scapegoat. This conclusion was affirmed by a jury in a 1999 civil trial against Loyd Jowers and unnamed co-conspirators.”

The US Department of Justice concluded that Jowers’ evidence, which swayed the jury in the civil trail, was not credible.  On the other hand, there is no satisfactory explanation why documents pertaining to the investigation of Ray were put under lock and key for 59 years.

There are many problems with the official story of King’s assassination, just as there are with the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy.  No amount of suspicion or information will change the official stories. Facts don’t count enough to change official stories.

Many Americans will continue to believe that having failed to tar King as a communist and womanizer, the establishment decided to remove an inconvenient rising leader by assassination.  Many black Americans will continue to believe that a national holiday was the government’s way of covering up its crime and blaming racism for King’s murder.

Certainly, the government should not have fomented suspicion by settling such a high profile murder with a plea bargain. Ray was an escapee from a state penitentiary and was apprehended at London’s Heathrow Airport on his way to disappear in Africa.  It seems farfetched that he would imperil his escape by taking a racist-motivated shot at King.

We should keep in mind the many loose ends of the Martin Luther King assassination as we are being bombarded by media with what Finian Cunningham correctly terms “high-octane emotional politics that stupefies the public from asking some very necessary hard questions” about the Charlie Hebdo murders, or for that matter the Boston Marathon Bombing case and all other outrages that prove to be so convenient for governments.

Those gullible citizens who believe that “our government would never kill its own people” have much understanding to gain from knowledge of Operation Gladio and Northwoods Project, about which much information is available on the Internet and in parliamentary investigations and officially released secret documents.

The Northwoods Project was presented to President John F. Kennedy by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.  It called for shooting down people on the streets of Washington and Miami, shooting down US airliners (“real or simulated”), and attacking refugee boats from Cuba in order to create an atrocity case against Castro that would secure public support for a full-fledged invasion to bring regime change to Cuba.  President Kennedy refused the plot and removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, an action that some researchers conclude led to his assassination.

Operation Gladio was revealed by the prime minister of Italy in 1990. It was a secret operation coordinated by NATO and operated by European military secret services in cooperation with the CIA and British intelligence.

Parliamentary investigations in Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium and testimony by secret service operatives have established that Gladio, originally established as a “stay-behind” secret army to resist Soviet invasion, was used to commit bombing attacks on Europeans, especially women and children, in order to blame communists and keep them from gaining political power in Europe during the Cold War era.

In answer to questioning by judges about the 1980 bombing of the central train station in Bologna resulting in the deaths of 85 people, Vincenzo Vinciguerra said: “There exists in Italy a secret force parallel to the armed forces, composed of civilians and military men . . . a super-organization with a network of communications, arms and explosives [which] took up the task, on NATO’s behalf, or preventing a slip to the left in the political balance of the country. This they did, with the assistance of the official secret services and the political and military forces.”

Vinciguerra told the UK newspaper The Guardian that “every single outrage that followed from 1969 fitted into a single, organized matrix . . . mobilized into the battle as part of an anti-communist strategy originating not with organizations deviant from the institutions of power, but from within the state itself, and specifically from within the ambit of the state’s relations within the Atlantic Alliance.”

There is no doubt about Gladio’s existence.  The BBC did a 2.5 hour documentary on the secret terrorist NATO organization in 1992. There are a number of books, articles and reports in addition to the parliamentary investigations and testimonies from participants.

There are reasons to believe that, although exposed, Gladio is still in operation and is behind terrorist attacks, such as Charlie Hebdo, in Europe today. Of course, today Washington has such control over Europe that no parliamentary investigations comparable to those that exposed Operation Gladio are possible.

With the documented and officially admitted existence of many official government conspiracies against their own peoples resulting in numerous deaths, only witting or unwitting agents of government conspiracies respond to valid questions about alleged terrorist events by trying to shout down truth-seekers.

The function of shutting down suspicion of official stories has been well performed by the “mainstream” print and TV media in the Western world.  This presstitute function has been joined by many tabloid internet sites, such as Salon, and other such sites that originate in money or desire for profit.

Money flows to those who serve the establishment.  The way to riches is to cover for the powerful private interest groups that comprise the One Percent and control the government.

Many websites unwittingly contribute to the power of the One Percent to control explanations and to discredit truth-seekers.  This is the main function of comment sections on Internet sites where paid trolls operate.

Studies have concluded that the largest percentage of a population is too insecure to take a position different from peers.  Most Americans simply do not know enough to have confidence in making independent decisions.  They go with the flow and rely on their peers to tell them what is safe to think.

Trolls are hired for the purpose of making disparaging and ad hominem attacks on those who diverge from accepted opinion.  For example, I am constantly attacked in personal terms in comment sections by people hiding behind first names and aliases.  Others employ left-wing and progressive hatred of Ronald Reagan to discredit me on the grounds that anyone so wicked and evil as to serve in the Reagan administration cannot be trusted.  Many of my denigrators worship the ground that Hillary Clinton walks on.

Today in the so-called “western democracies,” it is permissible to be politically incorrect against Muslims and to invoke denigration and hatred against them.  However, it is not permissible to criticize the government of Israel for indiscriminate and murderous attacks on Palestinian citizens.  The position of the Israel Lobby and its obedient and well-intimidated presstitutes is that any criticism whatsoever of Israel is anti-semitism and an indication that the critic desires a new holocaust. In other words, the Israel Lobby defines any critic of any Israeli government policy as an incipient mass murderer.

This effort to silence all critics of Israeli policies applies also to Israelis and Jews themselves.  Israelis and Jews who legitimately criticize Israeli policies in hopes of steering the Zionist State away from self-destruction are branded “self-hating Jews” by the Israel Lobby. The Lobby  has demonstrated its power to destroy academic freedom and to reach into private Catholic universities and public state universities and both block and withdraw tenure appointments of candidates, both Jews and non-Jews, who have incurred the Lobby’s disapproval.

I see Martin Luther King as an American hero.  Whatever his personal failings, if any, he stood for justice and for the safety of every race and gender under law.  King actually believed in the American dream and wanted to achieve it for everyone.  I am confident that had I confronted King with criticism, he would have considered my case and responded honestly regardless of any power he might have held over me.

I cannot expect the same consideration from any western government or from the trolls that operate in comment sections provided by Internet sites in hopes of boosting their readership.

Gullible and credulous people are incapable of defending their liberty.  Unfortunately these traits are the principal traits of western peoples.  Western liberty is collapsing in front of our eyes, and this makes absurd the desire by Vladimir Putin’s Russian opponents to integrate with the collapsing western states.

NEW YORK – The Obama White House and the State Department under the management of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “changed sides in the war on terror” in 2011 by implementing a policy of facilitating the delivery of weapons to the al-Qaida-dominated rebel militias in Libya attempting to oust Moammar Gadhafi from power, the Citizens Commission on Benghazi concluded in its interim report.

In WND interviews, several members of the commission have disclosed their finding that the mission of Christopher Stevens, prior to the fall of Gadhafi and during Stevens’ time as U.S. ambassador, was the management of a secret gun-running program operated out of the Benghazi compound.

The Obama administration’s gun-running project in Libya, much like the “fast and furious” program under Eric Holder’s Justice Department, operated without seeking or obtaining authorization by Congress.

WND reported Monday that in exclusive interviews conducted with 11 of the 17 members of the commission, it is clear that while the CCB is still enthusiastic to work with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, and hopeful that Boehner is serious about the investigation, various members of the CCB, speaking on their own behalf and not as spokesmen for the commission, are expressing concerns, wanting to make sure the Gowdy investigation is not compromised by elements within the GOP.

The Citizen’s Commission on Benghazi’s interim report, in a paragraph titled “Changing sides in the War on Terror,” alleges “the U.S. was fully aware of and facilitating the delivery of weapons to the Al Qaeda-dominated rebel militias throughout the 2011 rebellion.”

The report asserted the jihadist agenda of AQIM, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and other Islamic terror groups represented among the rebel forces was well known to U.S. officials responsible for Libya policy.

“The rebels made no secret of their Al Qaeda affiliation, openly flying and speaking in front of the black flag of Islamic jihad, according to author John Rosenthal and multiple media reports,” the interim report said. “And yet, the White House and senior Congressional members deliberately and knowingly pursued a policy that provided material support to terrorist organizations in order to topple a ruler who had been working closely with the West actively to suppress Al Qaeda.”

The report concluded: “The result in Libya, across much of North Africa, and beyond has been utter chaos, disruption of Libya’s oil industry, the spread of dangerous weapons (including surface-to-air missiles), and the empowerment of jihadist organizations like Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Christopher Stevens: ’1st U.S. envoy to al-Qaida’

In the WND interviews, several members of the citizens’ commission, speaking for themselves, not for the commission, added important background to the interim report’s conclusion.

“In early 2011, before Gadhafi was deposed, Christopher Stevens came to Benghazi in a cargo ship, and his title at the time was envoy to the Libyan rebels,’ which basically means Christopher Stevens was America’s very first envoy to al-Qaida,” explained Clare Lopez, a member of the commission who served as a career operations officer with the CIA and current is vice president for research at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy.

“At that time, Stevens was facilitating the delivery of weapons to the al-Qaida-related militia in Libya,” Lopez continued. “The weapons were produced at factories in Eastern Europe and shipped to a logistics hub in Qatar. The weapons were financed by the UAE and delivered via Qatar mostly on ships, with some possibly on airplanes, for delivery to Benghazi. The weapons were small arms, including Kalashnikovs, rocket-propelled grenades and lots of ammunition.”

Lopez further explained that during the period of time when Stevens was facilitating the delivery of weapons to the al-Qaida-affiliated militia in Libya, he was living in the facility that was later designated the Special Mission Compound in Benghazi.

“This was about weapons going into Libya, and Stevens is coordinating with Abdelhakim Belhadj, the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, other al-Qaida-affiliated militia leaders and leaders of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood that directed the rebellion against Qadhafi as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,” Lopez said. “Many of the individual members of the al-Qaida-related militias, including the LIFG, and the groups that would later become Ansar Al-Sharia, were Muslim Brotherhood members first.”

According to the interim report, as detailed by Lopez, a delegation from the UAE traveled to Libya after the fall of Gadhafi to collect payment for the weapons the UAE had financed and that Qatar had delivered to the TNC during the war.

“The UAE delegation was seeking $1 billion it claimed was owed,” the interim report noted. “During their visit to Tripoli, the UAE officials discovered that half of the $1 billion worth of weapons it had financed for the rebels had, in fact, been diverted by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the Muslim Brotherhood head of the Libyan TNC, and sold to Qaddafi.”

According to information discovered during the UAE visit to Tripoli, when Jalil learned that Maj. Gen. Abdel Fatah Younis, Gadhafi’s former minister of the interior before his late February 2011 defection to the rebel forces, had found out about the weapons diversion and the $500 million payment from Gadhafi, Jalil ordered Abu Salim Abu Khattala, leader of the Abu Obeida Bin al-Jarrah brigade to kill Younis.

“Abu Khattala, later identified as a Ansar al- Shariah commander who participated in the 11 September 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, accepted the orders and directed the killing of Gen. Younis in July 2011,” the interim report noted.

Abu Khattala is currently in custody in New York awaiting trial under a Department of Justice-sealed indictment, after U.S. Delta Force special operations personnel captured him over the weekend of June 14-15, 2014, in a covert mission in Libya. Abu Khattala’s brigade merged into Ansar al-Shariah in 2012, and he was positively identified to the FBI in a cell phone photo from the scene of the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

The language of the interim report made clear why the sequence of events is important.

“The key significance of this episode is the demonstration of a military chain-of-command relationship between the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leadership of the TNC and the Al Qaeda-affiliated militia (Ansar al-Shariah) that has been named responsible for the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi,” the interim Rreport concluded.

“What we have here is the Muslim Brotherhood leadership of the revolution giving a kill order to a Muslim militia affiliated with al-Qaida, which then carried it out,” Lopez summarized. “This chain-of-command link is important even though it has not yet received enough attention in the media.

A big ‘oh no’ moment

“After Gadhafi is deposed and Stevens was appointed U.S. ambassador to Libya, the flow of weapons reverses,” Lopez noted. “Now Stevens has the job of overseeing the shipment of arms from Libya to Syria to arm the rebels fighting Assad, some of whom ultimately become al-Nusra in Syria and some become ISIS.”

Lopez distinguished that “al-Nusra in Syria still claims allegiance to al-Qaida, while ISIS has broken away from al-Qaida, not because ISIS is too violent, but out of insubordination, after Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, wanted to run his own show inside Syria as well as Iraq, thereby disobeying orders from al-Qaida leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.”

She noted that in this period of time, after the fall of Gadhafi and before the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the Benghazi compound, Stevens was working with Turkey to ship weapons out of Libya into Syria for the use of the rebels fighting Assad.

According to the authors of the bestselling book “13 Hours,” on Sept. 11, 2012, before the attack on the Benghazi compound started, Stevens had dinner with Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin. Stevens reportedly escorted the Turkish diplomat outside the main gate of the Benghazi compound to say good-bye to Akin at approximately 7:40 p.m. local time, before he returned to Villa C to retire for the evening.

Kevin Shipp, a former CIA counterintelligence expert who worked on the seventh floor at Langley as protective staff to then-CIA Director William Casey, again speaking for himself in his interview with WND, agreed with Lopez that the gun-running operation Stevens managed is a secret the Obama White House and Clinton State Department have sought to suppress from the public.

“The shocking part, maybe even a violation of international law that the Obama administration has been terrified to have fully revealed, is that Stevens as part of his duties as a State Department employee was assisting in the shipment of arms first into Libya for the al-Qaida-affiliated militia, with the weapons shipped subsequently out of Libya into Syria for use by the al-Qaida-affiliated rebels fighting Assad,” Shipp told WND.

“Very possibly, these gun-running activities could be looked at even as treasonable offenses,” he said.

Shipp further noted that in gun-running operations in which the CIA wants deniability, the CIA generally involves a third party.

“The way the CIA works is through a ‘cut-out,’ in that you get Qatar to transport the weapons and you facilitate the transport. So now the third party is to blame,” he explained.

“Qatar probably would have been able to pull this off without any attribution to the CIA if the Benghazi attack had not happened. The attack basically shed the light on this operation the White House, the State Department and the CIA were trying to keep quiet,” he said.

“The attack on Benghazi was a big ‘oh no’ moment.”

The Spectacular Media Failure on Charlie Hebdo

January 20th, 2015 by Shamus Cooke

A core tenet of journalism is answering the question “why.” It’s the media’s duty to explain “why” an event happened so that readers will actually understand what they’re reading.  Leave out the “why” and then assumptions and stereotypes fill in the blank, always readily supplied by politicians whose ridiculous answers are left unquestioned by the corporate media.

Because the real “why” was unexplained in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, an obviously false culprit was created, leading to a moronic national discussion in the U.S. media about whether Islam was “inherently” violent.

For the media to even pose this question either betrays a blinding ignorance about the Middle East and Islam, or a conscious willingness to manipulate public sentiment by only interviewing so-called experts who believe such nonsense.

Media outlets should know that until the 1980’s Islamic fundamentalism was virtually inaudible in the Middle East — outside of the U.S.-supported dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, whose ruling monarchy survives thanks to U.S. support. The official religion of Saudi Arabia is a uniquely fundamentalist version of Islam, which along with the royal family are the two anchors of Saudi government power.

Before the 1980’s, the dominant ideology in the Middle East was pan-Arab socialism, a secular ideology that viewed Islamic fundamentalism as socially and economically regressive. Islamic fundamentalists engaged in terrorist attacks against the “pan-Arab socialist” governments of Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iraq and other governments that aligned themselves with this ideology at various times.

Islamic fundamentalism was virtually extinguished from 1950-1980, with Saudi Arabia and later Qatar being the last bastion and protective base of fundamentalists who were exiled from the secular countries. This dynamic was accentuated during the cold war, where the U.S. aligned itself with Islamic fundamentalism — Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states — while the Soviet Union became allies with the secular nations that identified as “socialist.”

When the 1978 Saur revolution in Afghanistan resulted in yet another socialist-inspired government, the United States responded by working with Saudi Arabia to give tons of weapons, training, and cash to the jihadists of the then-fledgling fundamentalist movement, helping to transform it into a regional social force that soon became the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The U.S.-backed Afghan jihad was the birth of the modern Islamic fundamentalist movement. The jihad attracted and helped organize fundamentalists across the region, as U.S. allies in the Gulf state dictatorships used the state religion to promote it.  Fighters who traveled to fight in Afghanistan returned to their home countries with weapon training and hero status that inspired others to join the movement.

The U.S. later aided the fundamentalists by invading Afghanistan and Iraq, destroying Libya and waging a ruthless proxy war in Syria.  Fundamentalists used these invasions and the consequent destruction of these once-proud nations to show that the West was at war with Islam.

Islamic fundamentalism grew steadily during this period, until it took another giant leap forward, starting with the U.S.-backed proxy war against the Syrian government, essentially the Afghan jihad on steroids.

Once again the U.S. government aligned itself with Islamic fundamentalists, who have been the principal groups fighting the Syrian government since 2012. To gain thousands of needed foreign fighters, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf states promoted jihad with their state-sponsored media, religious figures, and oil-rich donors.

While the Syria jihad movement was blossoming in Syria, the U.S. media and politicians were silent, even as groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS were growing exponentially with their huge sums of Gulf state supplied weapons and cash. They were virtually ignored by the Obama administration until the ISIS invasion of Iraq reached the U.S.-sponsored Kurdish region in 2014.

In short, the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have destroyed four civilizations within Muslim-majority nations. Once proud people have been crushed by war — either killed, injured, made refugees, or smothered by mass unemployment and scarcity. These are the ideal conditions for the Saudi-style Islamic fundamentalism to flourish, where promises of dignity and power resonate with those robbed of both.

Another U.S. media failure over Charlie Hebdo is how “satire” is discussed, where Hebdo’s actions were triumphed as the highest principle of the freedom of the media and speech.

It’s important to know what political satire is, and what it isn’t. Although the definition isn’t strict, political satire is commonly understood to be directed towards governments or powerful individuals. It is a very powerful form of political critique and analysis and deserves the strictest protection under freedom of speech.

However, when this same comedic power is directed against oppressed minorities, as Muslims are in France, the term satire ceases to apply, as it becomes a tool of oppression, discrimination, and racism.

The discrimination that French Muslims face has increased dramatically over the years, as Muslims have been subject to discrimination in politics and the media, most notoriously the 2010 ban on “face covering” in France, directed at the veil used by Muslim women.

This discrimination has increased as the French working class is put under the strain of austerity. Since the global 2008 recession this dynamic has accelerated, and consequently politicians are increasingly relying on scapegoating Muslims, Africans, or anyone who might be perceived as an immigrant.

It’s in this context that the cartoons aimed at offending Muslims by ridiculing their prophet Muhammad — a uniquely and especially offensive act under Islam — is especially insulting, and should be viewed as an incitement of racist hatred in France, where Arabs and North Africans are especially targeted in the right-wing attacks on immigrants.

It’s a sign of how far France has politically fallen that people are claiming solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, which has produced some of the most racist and inflammatory cartoons directed at Muslims, Arabs, and people of North Africans, which contributes to the culture of hatred that resulted in physical attacks against Muslims after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. This is the exact same political dynamic that led to Hitler’s racist scapegoating of the Jews.

Racism in France may have surpassed racism in the United States, since it’s unimaginable that, if the Ku Klux Klan were attacked in the United States for anti-Mexican hate speech, that the U.S. public would announce “I am the KKK.”

Hebdo is of course not a far-right publication. But the consistent attacks on Muslims and Africans show how far Charlie had been incorporated into the French political establishment, which now relies increasingly on scapegoating minorities to remain in power, in order to prevent the big corporations and wealthy from being blamed by the depreciating state of the French working class. Better to blame unions and minorities for the sorry state of the corporate-dominated French economy.

The only way to combat political scapegoating is to focus on the social forces responsible for the economic crisis and have them pay for the solutions that they are demanding the working class to pay through austerity measures and lower wages.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at [email protected]

Murdering Journalists … Them and Us

January 20th, 2015 by William Blum

After Paris, condemnation of religious fanaticism is at its height. I’d guess that even many progressives fantasize about wringing the necks of jihadists, bashing into their heads some thoughts about the intellect, about satire, humor, freedom of speech. We’re talking here, after all, about young men raised in France, not Saudi Arabia.

Where has all this Islamic fundamentalism come from in this modern age? Most of it comes – trained, armed, financed, indoctrinated – from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. During various periods from the 1970s to the present, these four countries had been the most secular, modern, educated, welfare states in the Middle East region. And what had happened to these secular, modern, educated, welfare states?

In the 1980s, the United States overthrew the Afghan government that was progressive, with full rights for women, believe it or not, leading to the creation of the Taliban and their taking power.

In the 2000s, the United States overthrew the Iraqi government, destroying not only the secular state, but the civilized state as well, leaving a failed state.

In 2011, the United States and its NATO military machine overthrew the secular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi, leaving behind a lawless state and unleashing many hundreds of jihadists and tons of weaponry across the Middle East.

And for the past few years the United States has been engaged in overthrowing the secular Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This, along with the US occupation of Iraq having triggered widespread Sunni-Shia warfare, led to the creation of The Islamic State with all its beheadings and other charming practices.

However, despite it all, the world was made safe for capitalism, imperialism, anti-communism, oil, Israel, and jihadists. God is Great!

Starting with the Cold War, and with the above interventions building upon that, we have 70 years of American foreign policy, without which – as Russian/American writer Andre Vltchek has observed – “almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders”.   Even the ultra-oppressive Saudi Arabia – without Washington’s protection – would probably be a very different place.

On January 11, Paris was the site of a March of National Unity in honor of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose journalists had been assassinated by terrorists. The march was rather touching, but it was also an orgy of Western hypocrisy, with the French TV broadcasters and the assembled crowd extolling without end the NATO world’s reverence for journalists and freedom of speech; an ocean of signs declaring Je suis Charlie … Nous Sommes Tous Charlie; and flaunting giant pencils, as if pencils – not bombs, invasions, overthrows, torture, and drone attacks – have been the West’s weapons of choice in the Middle East during the past century.

No reference was made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades in the Middle East and elsewhere, had been responsible for the deliberate deaths of dozens of journalists. In Iraq, among other incidents, see Wikileaks’ 2007 video of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine the same year that killed two foreign cameramen.

Moreover, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.”

And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-day bombing of a country which posed no threat at all to the United States or any other country, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage.

I present here some views on Charlie Hebdo sent to me by a friend in Paris who has long had a close familiarity with the publication and its staff:

“On international politics Charlie Hebdo was neoconservative. It supported every single NATO intervention from Yugoslavia to the present. They were anti-Muslim, anti-Hamas (or any Palestinian organization), anti-Russian, anti-Cuban (with the exception of one cartoonist), anti-Hugo Chávez, anti-Iran, anti-Syria, pro-Pussy Riot, pro-Kiev … Do I need to continue?

“Strangely enough, the magazine was considered to be ‘leftist’. It’s difficult for me to criticize them now because they weren’t ‘bad people’, just a bunch of funny cartoonists, yes, but intellectual freewheelers without any particular agenda and who actually didn’t give a fuck about any form of ‘correctness’ – political, religious, or whatever; just having fun and trying to sell a ‘subversive’ magazine (with the notable exception of the former editor, Philippe Val, who is, I think, a true-blooded neocon).”

Dumb and Dumber

Remember Arseniy Yatsenuk? The Ukrainian whom US State Department officials adopted as one of their own in early 2014 and guided into the position of Prime Minister so he could lead the Ukrainian Forces of Good against Russia in the new Cold War?

In an interview on German television on January 7, 2015 Yatsenuk allowed the following words to cross his lips: “We all remember well the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. We will not allow that, and nobody has the right to rewrite the results of World War Two”.

The Ukrainian Forces of Good, it should be kept in mind, also include several neo-Nazis in high government positions and many more partaking in the fight against Ukrainian pro-Russians in the south-east of the country. Last June, Yatsenuk referred to these pro-Russians as “sub-humans”   , directly equivalent to the Nazi term “untermenschen”.

So the next time you shake your head at some stupid remark made by a member of the US government, try to find some consolation in the thought that high American officials are not necessarily the dumbest, except of course in their choice of who is worthy of being one of the empire’s partners.

The type of rally held in Paris this month to condemn an act of terror by jihadists could as well have been held for the victims of Odessa in Ukraine last May. The same neo-Nazi types referred to above took time off from parading around with their swastika-like symbols and calling for the death of Russians, Communists and Jews, and burned down a trade-union building in Odessa, killing scores of people and sending hundreds to hospital; many of the victims were beaten or shot when they tried to flee the flames and smoke; ambulances were blocked from reaching the wounded … Try and find a single American mainstream media entity that has made even a slightly serious attempt to capture the horror. You would have to go to the Russian station in Washington, DC, RT.com, search “Odessa fire” for many stories, images and videos. Also see the Wikipedia entry on the 2 May 2014 Odessa clashes.

If the American people were forced to watch, listen, and read all the stories of neo-Nazi behavior in Ukraine the past few years, I think they – yes, even the American people and their less-than-intellectual Congressional representatives – would start to wonder why their government was so closely allied with such people. The United States may even go to war with Russia on the side of such people.

L’Occident n’est pas Charlie pour Odessa. Il n’y a pas de défilé à Paris pour Odessa.

Some thoughts about this thing called ideology

Norman Finkelstein, the fiery American critic of Israel, was interviewed recently by Paul Jay on The Real News Network. Finkelstein related how he had been a Maoist in his youth and had been devastated by the exposure and downfall of the Gang of Four in 1976 in China.

“It came out there was just an awful lot of corruption. The people who we thought were absolutely selfless were very self-absorbed. And it was clear. The overthrow of the Gang of Four had huge popular support.”

Many other Maoists were torn apart by the event.

“Everything was overthrown overnight, the whole Maoist system, which we thought [were] new socialist men, they all believed in putting self second, fighting self. And then overnight the whole thing was reversed.”

“You know, many people think it was McCarthy that destroyed the Communist Party,” Finkelstein continued. “That’s absolutely not true. You know, when you were a communist back then, you had the inner strength to withstand McCarthyism, because it was the cause. What destroyed the Communist Party was Khrushchev’s speech,” a reference to Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 exposure of the crimes of Joseph Stalin and his dictatorial rule.

Although I was old enough, and interested enough, to be influenced by the Chinese and Russian revolutions, I was not. I remained an admirer of capitalism and a good loyal anti-communist. It was the war in Vietnam that was my Gang of Four and my Nikita Khrushchev. Day after day during 1964 and early 1965 I followed the news carefully, catching up on the day’s statistics of American firepower, bombing sorties, and body counts. I was filled with patriotic pride at our massive power to shape history. Words like those of Winston Churchill, upon America’s entry into the Second World War, came easily to mind again – “England would live; Britain would live; the Commonwealth of Nations would live.” Then, one day – a day like any other day – it suddenly and inexplicably hit me. In those villages with the strange names there were people under those falling bombs, people running in total desperation from that god-awful machine-gun strafing.

This pattern took hold. The news reports would stir in me a self-righteous satisfaction that we were teaching those damn commies that they couldn’t get away with whatever it was they were trying to get away with. The very next moment I would be struck by a wave of repulsion at the horror of it all. Eventually, the repulsion won out over the patriotic pride, never to go back to where I had been; but dooming me to experience the despair of American foreign policy again and again, decade after decade.

The human brain is an amazing organ. It keeps working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year, from before you leave the womb, right up until the day you find nationalism. And that day can come very early. Here’s a recent headline from the Washington Post: “In the United States the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.”

Oh, my mistake. It actually said “In N. Korea the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.”

Let Cuba Live! The Devil’s List of what the United States has done to Cuba

On May 31, 1999, a lawsuit for $181 billion in wrongful death, personal injury, and economic damages was filed in a Havana court against the government of the United States. It was subsequently filed with the United Nations. Since that time its fate is somewhat of a mystery.

The lawsuit covered the 40 years since the country’s 1959 revolution and described, in considerable detail taken from personal testimony of victims, US acts of aggression against Cuba; specifying, often by name, date, and particular circumstances, each person known to have been killed or seriously wounded. In all, 3,478 people were killed and an additional 2,099 seriously injured. (These figures do not include the many indirect victims of Washington’s economic pressures and blockade, which caused difficulties in obtaining medicine and food, in addition to creating other hardships.)

The case was, in legal terms, very narrowly drawn. It was for the wrongful death of individuals, on behalf of their survivors, and for personal injuries to those who survived serious wounds, on their own behalf. No unsuccessful American attacks were deemed relevant, and consequently there was no testimony regarding the many hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts against Cuban President Fidel Castro and other high officials, or even of bombings in which no one was killed or injured. Damages to crops, livestock, or the Cuban economy in general were also excluded, so there was no testimony about the introduction into the island of swine fever or tobacco mold.

However, those aspects of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare waged against Cuba that involved human victims were described in detail, most significantly the creation of an epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue fever in 1981, during which some 340,000 people were infected and 116,000 hospitalized; this in a country which had never before experienced a single case of the disease. In the end, 158 people, including 101 children, died.   That only 158 people died, out of some 116,000 who were hospitalized, was an eloquent testimony to the remarkable Cuban public health sector.

The complaint describes the campaign of air and naval attacks against Cuba that commenced in October 1959, when US president Dwight Eisenhower approved a program that included bombings of sugar mills, the burning of sugar fields, machine-gun attacks on Havana, even on passenger trains.

Another section of the complaint described the armed terrorist groups, los banditos, who ravaged the island for five years, from 1960 to 1965, when the last group was located and defeated. These bands terrorized small farmers, torturing and killing those considered (often erroneously) active supporters of the Revolution; men, women, and children. Several young volunteer literacy-campaign teachers were among the victims of the bandits.

There was also of course the notorious Bay of Pigs invasion, in April 1961. Although the entire incident lasted less than 72 hours, 176 Cubans were killed and 300 more wounded, 50 of them permanently disabled.

The complaint also described the unending campaign of major acts of sabotage and terrorism that included the bombing of ships and planes as well as stores and offices. The most horrific example of sabotage was of course the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner off Barbados in which all 73 people on board were killed. There were as well as the murder of Cuban diplomats and officials around the world, including one such murder on the streets of New York City in 1980. This campaign continued to the 1990s, with the murders of Cuban policemen, soldiers, and sailors in 1992 and 1994, and the 1997 hotel bombing campaign, which took the life of a foreigner; the bombing campaign was aimed at discouraging tourism and led to the sending of Cuban intelligence officers to the US in an attempt to put an end to the bombings; from their ranks rose the Cuban Five.

To the above can be added the many acts of financial extortion, violence and sabotage carried out by the United States and its agents in the 16 years since the lawsuit was filed. In sum total, the deep-seated injury and trauma inflicted upon on the Cuban people can be regarded as the island’s own 9-11.

 Notes
  1. US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232 
  2. Counterpunch, January 10, 2015 
  3. Index on Censorship, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001 
  4. The Independent (London), April 24, 1999 
  5. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk talking to Pinar Atalay”, Tagesschau (Germany), January 7, 2015 (in Ukrainian with German voice-over) 
  6. CNN, June 15, 2014 
  7. See William Blum, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, chapter 3 
  8. Washington Post, January 17, 2015, page A6 
  9. William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 30, for a capsule summary of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare against Havana. 
  10. For further information, see William Schaap, Covert Action Quarterly magazine (Washington, DC), Fall/Winter 1999, pp.26-29

The Guardian, Sept. 9, 2014 (emphasis added): Fukushima fallout continues… [There's an] unprecedented attempt by four Fukushima Daiichi workers to sue the utility for unpaid wages… [T]he four men… wore masks in court for fear of reprisals from their employers… “A year ago, the prime minister told the world that Fukushima was under control. But that’s not the case,” Tsuguo Hirota told Reuters… “It’s becoming a place for amateurs only, and that has to worry anyone who lives near the plant.”… “My health could suffer… I believe there are many people who can’t speak out about this kind of problem,” one of the workers told public broadcaster NHK. NHK, Sept. 24, 2014 (at 2:15 in): [A Fukushima Daiichi worker’s attorney] warns that the current system could endanger the entire decommissioning process… “Tepco should be held accountable for turning a blind eye. It needs to improve labor conditions, otherwise the situation will make it impossible to secure enough workers to deal with the nuclear accident.” >> Watch the video here

Time Magazine correspondent Hannah Beech, Sept. 7, 2014: Just to get into the plant it –again — it’s like a Hollywood movie… What was very strange about walking into this place is that it feels completely dead. You don’t see that many people moving around. And those people that you do see, there’s not a palpable sense of urgency, but you realize that the work that they’re doing is so important. And they may not be getting the full of backing that they should to be able to do this. >> Full interview here

NPR, March 11, 2014: About 100 out of the 4,000 people working in the plant every day are TEPCO employees. The rest are subcontractors… Workers [are barred from] speaking to the media… I met a TEPCO worker who was on the job when the quake and tsunami hit… and talked in his car… on the condition that we not identify him and disguise his voice. He says it’s well known at the plant that shoddy work is being done… Many problems inside the Fukushima plant go unreported… The worker says that the Japanese government now needs to step in and guarantee the welfare and safety of all the workers…

TEPCO employee at Fukushima Daiichi (at 2:45 in): I’m concerned about my safety… There are things they feel they don’t have to disclose. There are all sorts of troubles going on inside the plant.

Full interview with the anonymous Fukushima worker here

GITMO one of many US global torture prisons. It’s best known one. The tip of the iceberg.

Run out of sight and mind. Extrajudicially and then some. America’s gulag operates worldwide.

Unknown numbers of victims suffer horrifically. US barbarity has no limits. Anything goes is official policy.

Systematically ignored by major US media. Silence about horrendous human rights abuses.

Short-lived accounts on the Senate’s torture report the exception proving the rule. Coverup and denial conceals the worst of what remains ongoing.

Senate Intelligence Committee members excluded what most needs highlighting. Stopped short of demanding accountability.

Wrongdoers remain absolved. Free to continue what international law prohibits at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed exceptions.

Torture is illegal. Continuing on Obama’s watch. Law Professor Mark Denbeaux heads Seton Hall University’s School of Law’s Center for Policy & Research (CP&R).

Best known for his GITMO reports. Including detainee profiles. Bogus allegations against them.

Government and media accounts suppressing hard truths. Innocent victims outrageously called dangerous.

Around 775 earlier ones now number 122. Lawlessly held. The vast majority uncharged. Most others (perhaps all) wrongfully accused.

So-called 9/11 plotters had nothing to do with what happened. Other victims faced trumped up charges.

Guilt by accusation suffices. Due process nowhere in sight. Nor any form of judicial fairness.

CP&R’s newest report is titled “Guantanamo: America’s Battle Lab.” Saying GITMO’s stated purpose was a Big Lie.

Claiming it “was to house the most dangerous detainees captured in the course of the Global War on Terrorism.”

Innocent victims substituted. Treated like lab rats. Not POWs. Subjected to horrendous treatment.

Torture by any standard. “(O)verwhelmingly condemned by federal government agencies at the time, and criticized by all by the agencies involved in intelligence gathering,” said CP&R.

Brutalizing torture became “enhanced interrogation.” Language changed. Barbarism continued.

“The government sought information on the most effective ways to torture a human physically…”

Wanting “information on the most damaging ways to break a man psychologically…(I)nsight as to just how far the human body could be pushed in pain and terror before organ failure or death.”

Straightaway new detainees got psychosis-inducing drugs. Isolated for up to 30 days without access to human contact.

Including denied medical care. Lawyer visitations. ICRC representatives seeking firsthand information on conditions.

GITMO pushed intelligence gathering techniques to the limit. Nothing too extreme was off-limits.

“(E)experimentation (on defenseless victims) generate(d) data (used) to counsel and train interrogators at military facilities across the globe,” said CP&R.

GITMO was a “command center for worldwide interrogation coordination…” It’s no POW detention center.

It “operated as America’s Battle Laboratory.” Lawlessly. Ruthlessly. Out of sight and mind. Subjecting innocent victims to horrendous treatment.

“America’s most notorious detention facility was covertly transformed into a secret interrogation base designed to foster intelligence’s curiosity on the effects of torture and the limits of the human spirit,” CP&R explained.

“Although the government continues to mislead the public by touting that GITMO houses the “worst of the worst,” hard truths show otherwise.

What civilized nation uses ordinary human beings as lab rats to test their physical and psychological limits when subjected to the most extreme forms of torture?

Which ones continue doing it globally? Operating unaccountably. Flouting international law.

Accomplishing nothing to enhance national security. Everything to violate the most basic standards of human decency.

Revealing America’s dark side. Its ruthlessness. Its contempt for rule of law principles. Fundamental ones too important to ignore.

Policies approved at the highest levels of government. Legal interpretations twisted to justify the unjustifiable.

“(H)arsh interrogation, coupled with the ignoring and dismissal of criticisms led to actions that were harmful on many levels: medically, morally, politically, for accountability, and ethically,” said CP&R.

“And as the center (of) worldwide management of interrogation, the effects of (GITMO’s) Battle Lab would…stretch far beyond the shores of Guantanamo Bay.”

Ongoing on Obama’s watch worldwide. At secret sites. Innocent victims continue being brutalized.

On January 16, London’s Guardian headlined ”Guantanamo Diary exposes brutality of US rendition and torture.”

Saying a current GITMO detainee’s “groundbreaking memoir (explains) the harrowing details of (America’s) rendition and torture programme from the perspective of one of its victims is to be published (this week) after a six-year battle for the manuscript to be declassified.”

The first published book by a current US detainee. In 20 countries. “(S)erialised by the Guardian amid renewed calls by civil liberty campaigners for its author’s release.”

Mohamedou Ould Slahi explains what no one should have to endure. Brutalizing treatment in multiple US torture prisons.

Number 760 at GITMO since August 2002. Despite having committed no crimes. Or planning them.

In 2010, judicially cleared for release. Remaining incarcerated. Unlikely to be freed any time soon.

Slahi recounted his ordeal in English. Including “sleep deprivation, death threats, sexual humiliation and intimations that his torturers would go after his mother.”

Subjected to “additional interrogation techniques.” Personally approved by then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Blindfolded. Forced to drink salt water. Taken out to sea on a high-speed boat. Beaten for three hours while immersed in ice.

“The end product of the torture, he writes, was lies,” said the Guardian. He made numerous false confessions.

Anything to stop pain and torment. Telling interrogators whatever they wanted to hear. Making stuff up.

Saying he planned to destroy Toronto’s CN Tower. Asked if he spoke truthfully, he said:

“I don’t care as long as you are pleased. So if you want to buy, I am selling.”

His “manuscript was subjected to more than 2,500 redactions before declassification,” said the Guardian.

His published text includes all censor marks. His publishers hope to be able to release an uncensored edition if and when he’s released.

The toll on his mind and body was horrific. Describing it saying:

“I started to hallucinate and hear voices as clear as crystal. I heard my family in a casual familial conversation…”

“I heard Qur’an readings in a heavenly voice. I heard music from my country.”

“Later on the guards used these hallucinations and started talking with funny voices through the plumbing, encouraging me to hurt the guard and plot an escape.”

“But I wasn’t misled by them, even though I played along.” ‘We heard somebody – maybe a genie!’ they used to say.”

” ‘Yeah, but I ain’t listening to him,’ I responded…I was on the edge of losing my mind.”

The ACLU launched an online petition on Slahi’s behalf. Calling for his release. Its national security policy director Hina Shamsi saying:

“Mohamedou Slahi is an innocent man whom the United States brutally tortured and has held unlawfully for over a decade.”

“He doesn’t present a threat to the US and has never taken part in any hostilities against it.”

“We’re asking the government to put an end to (his) years-long ordeal by not contesting his habeas case and releasing him without delay.”

“We hope everyone moved by (his) story of abuse and unlawful detention will join us in seeking his freedom.”

Post-9/11, he was lawlessly detained. On suspicion of plotting to bomb Los Angeles international airport.

Despite no corroborating evidence. Other than what was extracted through torture.

“In 2004, a military lawyer refused to play any further part in the prosecution on the grounds that the evidence against him was the product of torture,” said the Guardian.

Attorney Nancy Hollander represents Slahi. He never was “charged with anything,” she said.

“The US has never charged him with a crime. There is no crime to charge him with.”

“It’s not that they haven’t found the evidence against him.” There’s none. “He’s in what I would consider a horrible legal limbo, and it’s just tragic. He needs to go home.”

His “book takes us into the heart of this man the US government tortured, and continues to torture with indefinite detention.”

“We feel, smell, even taste the torture he endures in his voice and within his heart. It is a book everyone should read.”

His publisher called his book “gracious, brutal, humbling, at times funny, but more often enraging, and ultimately heartbreaking testimony by a truly gifted writer.”

“And all of his many international publishers hope that by bringing his story to the wider world we can play a part in ending his wrongful and barbaric imprisonment.”

The Guardian quoted DOD spokesman Lt. Col. Myles Caggins duplicitously saying:

“We continue to detain Mohamedou Slahi under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force of 2001 (AUMF) as informed by the laws of war.”

“He has full access to federal court for review of his detention by United States district court via petition for writ of habeas corpus.”

No US authorization sanctions torture or other forms of ill-treatment.

No laws of war approve holding noncombatant civilians captives for unjustifiable reasons. None permit doing so without clear inculpating evidence.

Slahi’s Guantanamo Diary will be published on January 20. It’s available now through Amazon and other sources.

A testimony to America’s dark side. Its moral depravity. Its shocking contempt for human life and welfare.

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. 

One of the most significant feature films in recent years was released to a broad audience on Jan. 9 in the United States. The handling of the Paramount picture has generated controversy due to the apparent racism prevalent in the awards committees that determine which production gains the coveted prices.

Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey, only received nominations in two categories, best picture and soundtrack, for the upcoming Oscars or Academy Awards. The film tells the story of the Civil Rights Movement in Selma during early 1965, when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) created a crisis in Dallas County and the state capitol in Montgomery prompting the administration of President Lyndon Baines Johnson to introduce federal voting rights legislation.

Golden Globe awards rejected the film in all categories except the soundtrack by John Legend and Common.

The Selma marches represented a turning point in African American and broader U.S. social history. The film embodies contemporary relevance in light of the resurgent anti-racist movement sparked by the deaths at the hands of the police of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice among others.

In a Washington Post blog on Jan. 15, writer Amy Argensinger said “You can’t say a movie that got nominated for Best Picture has been truly ‘snubbed.’ But there was a time, just a few weeks ago, when the smart money was on ‘Selma’ to run the table at the Oscars. Now that it is being unexpectedly shut out of major categories, getting a paltry two nominations, that’s obviously not going to happen.”

These sentiments were articulated in numerous ways over mainstream, alternative and social media sources. The response of the film’s audience prompted many to analyze the social composition and political outlook of the Academy Awards selection committee.

An opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post asked “Are the Oscars a Glorified White Boy’s Club?”

This article noted that “The Academy Awards’ glaring omission of Selma, the lack of any person of color in the four acting categories, and the directing and writing categories which have men gracing those lists, only reinforces the idea that the Academy Awards are an out-of-touch white boys’ club. For context, the last time this happened was in 1998, making this year the “whitest” Academy Awards in over 15 years. Naturally, the outpouring of criticism was inevitable.” (Jan. 18)

This same Jerusalem Post opinion essay says directly that “Many critics point to a generally white, monolithic Academy voting body as part of the problem. ’Why do we elect people who drift toward not the most talented, best and brightest we have in the country?’ Director George Lucas mused on CBS This Morning. ‘It’s a political campaign. It has nothing to do with artistic endeavor at all.’”

Compelled by the broad criticism and condemnation, the Academy president, who spoke for the white majority, although she is from an oppressed nation in the U.S., attempted to smooth over the glaring omissions in the 2015 category nominations. Her statement sounded hollow and defensive, as if it was totally divorced from the reality of the industry and society at large.

On Jan. 16, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs attempted to defend the indefensible in an Associated Press interview saying

“In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members,’ said Isaacs – herself an African American woman. ‘Personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.’”

Such proclamations will only fuel further anger towards the status-quo whether it uses black faces or not. It is quite obvious that the real decisions were being made by others who were not speaking in the midst of the firestorm.

‘Too White, Too Male’, Says Critics of ‘Critics’

The Agence France Press (AFP) reported as well that the results of the Oscars are “Too white and too male. That is the serious charge facing the elite Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the aftermath of its unveiling of nominees for the 2015 Oscars contest.

Highlighting the social media response that lit up the internet on Jan. 15, the actual 86th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the AFP continued noting “The phrase #OscarsSoWhite soared up the Twitter trending topics within minutes of Thursday’s nominations for the Oscars, the climax of Hollywood’s annual awards season. Not a single non-white actor or actress was shortlisted in any of the four main acting categories, although the Martin Luther King Jr. movie ‘Selma’ did make it into the best picture race. The drama, starring Oprah Winfrey and Britain’s David Oyelowo as the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Black civil rights leader, has been judged best film of the year by the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator website.” (Jan. 18)

Others joined the chorus cited by AFP saying “To nominate (Selma) only for best movie and best song, that is disgraceful,” according to Tom O’Neil, the founder of the Goldderby.com website, that maintains tabulations related to all the major film industry awards. 2015 represented only the second time since 1998 where no African American actors were nominated . “It’s due to the lack of diversity of (Oscar) voters themselves, 93 percent of whom are white, 77 percent male and with an average age of 63. This is not representative of the real world,” O’Neil said.

A Reflection of Resistance to Civil Rights and Self-Determination

Actions taken by both the Golden Globe and Oscars represent the reactionary backlash among the U.S. ruling class that is attempting to maintain the reversals of social gains made as a result of the Civil Rights and Labor Movements of the 20th century. Over the last few years legislative and judicial actions have reinforced the growing polarization and divisions among the oppressed and the dominant elites which are Euro-American.

Most glaring is the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court nullification of the enforcement provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This bill was the legislative outcome of the Selma Campaign of 1963-65, where the Justice Department was empowered to investigate voter suppression efforts which continue until today.

Affirmative Action programs in higher education and other sectors have been eviscerated through various statewide referendums and court decisions in California, Michigan and Texas, robbing millions of African American and Latino youth of opportunities to attend universities and colleges in the U.S. as well as to pursue careers in public service and private industry. Unemployment rates among the oppressed African American and Latino communities far outstrip those of whites and the gap between rich and poor is widening as local, state and federal legislative bodies along with executive administrations, pass laws that absolve the wealthy from meaningful taxation transferring public assets to the ruling class under the guise of fostering favorable climates for investment and “growth.”

Objectively, the results of such policies are only creating the conditions for broader and deeper levels of discontent and unrest. What has transpired through the film industry mirrors the failure by the criminal justice system and corporate community to recognize that “Black Lives Matter.”

Therefore, the mass demonstrations against racism and police violence must continue and extend into other areas of racist domination and exploitation. It is only with the destruction of national oppression and economic injustice that the culture of workers and the oppressed in the U.S. will gain its true expression and recognition.

AP, Jan 20, 2015: Worker at Japan’s wrecked nuclear plant dies after accidentally falling… the latest in a growing number of accidents at the site… [Tepco] said the worker, 55, died of multiple injuries early Tuesday after falling through an opening atop a 10-meter high tank… The number of injuries in April-November totaled 40 last year, compared to 12 a year earlier, underscoring growing concern about sloppy safety measures.

AFP, Jan 20, 2015: A worker at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant died after falling into a water tank. Separately, another worker died because of an incident at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant… The victim at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, reportedly in his 50s, was inspecting an empty water tank… “He was wearing a harness, but the hook was found tucked inside the harness. This means the harness was not being used,” said a TEPCO spokesman. “We are investigating whether safety measures were appropriately observed,” he added… In the unrelated incident at the Fukushima Daini plant… a worker died after suffering a severe head injury after being caught in equipment, a TEPCO spokesman said.

DPA, Jan 20, 2015: A worker died after falling into an empty water tank… he plunged around 10 metres to the bottom… The accident came three days after the Fukushima labour department urged [TEPCO] to take thorough precautions against accidents…

Reuters, Jan 20, 2015: Last week, labor inspectors warned [TEPCO] about the rise in accidents and ordered it to take measures to deal with the problem… “We are deeply sorry for the death of the worker and express our deepest condolences to the family. We promise to implement measures to ensure that such tragedy does not occur again,” Akira Ono, the head manager of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, said… The number of accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, including heatstrokes, has almost doubled this fiscal year to 55… “It’s not just the number of accidents that has been on the rise. It’s the serious cases, including deaths and serious injuries that have risen…” said Katsuyoshi Ito, a local labor inspector overlooking the Fukushima power plant. Ito said inspectors were investigating the recent death.

Jiji Press, Jan 6, 2015: Number of injured workers soars at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant [and] far exceeded the 2013 figure by November, [TEPCO] officials said… Thirty-nine workers were injured at the plant between April and November 2014, while one became ill. In fiscal 2013, which ended in March last year, 23 were injured… Last Sept. 22, a worker from a partner company suffered a broken back after being hit by a falling iron pipe while building a storage tank for contaminated water. During work to build a tank on Nov. 7, three workers were injured by falling steel weighing 390 kg. One was left temporarily unconscious, while another broke both ankles… Tepco believes the injuries were caused by poor on-site coordination and management by the partner company, according to the officials.

On 8 January 2015, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk demonstrated once again that he is either a liar or an ignoramus (inspired by Russophobia) when he told a German TV channel, “I will not allow the Russians to march across Ukraine and Germany, as they did in WWII.” Putting aside his ludicrous bravado – analogous to a crazed, dying gnat promising to stop a bull elephant — only the untaught do not know that it was Hitler’s Nazi Germany that invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Moreover, while most military historians specializing in the history of the Eastern Front (including this writer) know that the Red Army played by far the greatest role in saving Europe from prolonged Nazi rule, only an ignoramus or liar like Mr. Yatsenyuk would say, “We all very well remember the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany, and we have to avoid it.”

Mr. Yatsenyuk, you’ll recall, was the darling of Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt; two U.S. officials who plotted to place him into Ukraine’s government as Prime Minister. Coincidently, Mr. Yatsenyuk became Prime Minister. Imagine that! Yet, he clearly is in over his head as a leader of what historian J. Arch Getty has labeled the “erratic state” of Ukraine.

But, “erratic” is far too mild a word to use when describing a statement made by Prime Minister Yatsenyuk in June 2014. It was then that Mr. Yatsenyuk pandered to all of his neo-Nazi supporters fighting for his regime in eastern Ukraine by asserting – on the homepage of the Embassy of Ukraine in the United States of America, no less — that Russians in eastern Ukraine were “subhumans.” (Check the widely available screenshot.) Hitler would have been proud.

But, if Yatsenyuk is either a Russophobic ignoramus or liar who spreads filthy propaganda about Russians and Russian history to people who have no sense of history, what are we to call the editors, columnists and reporters at the New York Times, who do the very same thing?

The Times commenced its latest propaganda campaign against Russia on 28 November 2013, when it published an overwrought editorial titled, “Ukraine Backs Down.” Clearly, some Russophobe’s head must have exploded. Who, but an outraged Russophobe would conclude that President Vladimir Putin’s “strong-arm tactics” against Ukraine would cost Russia its chance “to find its place in the democratic and civilized world.”

“Civilized World?” Seriously? “According to data recently released by the Organization for Co-operation and Development (OECD),” the Russians are the most educated people in the world. “More than half of Russian adults held tertiary degrees in 2012 — the equivalent of college degree in the United States — more than in any other country reviewed” (USA Today, Sept. 13, 2014). Moreover, given the resounding contributions to the civilized world by Pushkin, Karamzin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Mendeleev, Prokofiev, Tolstoy, Chekov, Nureyev, Akhmatova, Bakhtin, Pasternak, Lomonosov, Tchaikovsky, Solzenitsyn, Berdyaev, Rublev, Chagall, Euler, Balanchine, Zoschenko, Rachmaninov, Bulgakov, Chaliapin, Gorbachev, Diaghilev, Kliuchevsky, Sholokhov, Mussorgsky, Eisenstein, Glinka, Shostakovich, Kapitsa, Lermontov, Kantorovich, Repin, Herzen, Nabokov, Gagarin, Kandinsky, Mayakovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Nijinsky, Kalashnikov, Zamyatin, Tarkovsky, Sakharov, Bely, Gurevich, Faberge, Alekhine, Stravinsky and my beloved mentor, the polymath Utechin (who wrote A Concise Encylopaedia of Russia) – just to name a few — doesn’t the editorial board at the Times sound almost as ignorant or deceitful as Mr. Yatsenyuk?

More to the point, just four days before Mr. Yatsenyuk issued his deceitful or ignorant Russophobic rant, theTimes reached a new Russophobic low when it published propaganda designed to whitewash evidence that President Yanukovych was overthrown in a violent and illegal coup.

Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis

Its propaganda piece was titled: “Ukraine Leader Was Defeated Even Before He Was Ousted.” It was written by the same reporters, Andrew Higgins and Andrew E. Kramer, who performed similar hatchet jobs for theTimes, when reporting on the actual events in Kiev during the period February 18-21, 2014 — which led to the coup of February 22.

Then, the Times was quick to blame the Yanukovych regime for the sniper fire that sparked regime change. Consider the February 20, 2014, article written by Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer, titled: “Converts Join With Militants in Kiev Clash.” Although the article mentions snipers only once, they are mentioned in the context of “thousands of riot police officers, volleys of live ammunition…and the looming threat of martial law.” In addition, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer claimed, “few antigovernment protesters could be seen carrying weapons.” (Their observation would be refuted months later by a scholarly paper that identified snipers, fighting on the side of the protesters, who fired on police, news reporters and fellow protesters. These snipers were located in or on the Conservatory Building, the Hotel Ukraina, Kinoplats, Kozatsky Hotel, Zhovtnevyi Palace, Arkada Bank building, Muzeinyi Lane building, the Main Post Office, and Trade Union building, among others.) Thus, when Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer heard “reports” that “the police had killed more than 70 demonstrators,” they automatically concluded that “most of the gunfire clearly came from the other side of the barricades.”

Buried within another article written by these reporters that same day was an admission that they did not know “which side” the snipers were on. But the article was titled “Ukraine’s Forces Escalate Attacks Against Protesters,” and it began with the following inflammatory opening sentence: “Security forces fired on masses of antigovernment demonstrators in Kiev on Thursday in a drastic escalation of the three-month-old crisis that left dozens dead and Ukraine reeling…”

Predictably, Mr. Kramer and Mr. Higgins failed to substantiate the “reports” that the police killed more than 70 demonstrators. Even worse, however, was their failure to identify the ideological affiliations of those persons who formed the militant groups — called the “hundreds” (sotni) — that did much to transform a previously peaceful demonstration into a violent confrontation.

Although Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer correctly acknowledged that the sotni “provided the tip of the spear in the violent showdown with government security forces,” they failed (or refused) to report that many leaders and members of the sotni were self-declared fascists and neo-Nazis from Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector) and Svoboda (Freedom).

Andriy Parubiy, for example, was one of the founders of the neo-Nazi “Svoboda” party. Mr. Parubiy was “the man controlling the so-called ‘Euromaidan security forces’ that fought government forces in Kiev” (Nazemroaya, Flashpoint in Ukraine, p. 91). Immediately after the coup, he served as Kiev’s secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer repeatedly misled their readers by calling members of Svoboda and Pravyi Sektor “nationalists;” as if these violent goons were indistinguishable from the thousands of “nationalists” who had been conducting a largely peaceful protest. Thus, readers of the Times — like readers of most other newspapers in the West — would not learn that fascists and neo-Nazis highjacked a largely peaceful protest and steered it toward a coup.

Continuing their propaganda in their whitewash piece of January 4, 2015, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer attempted to persuade their readers that President Yanukovych “was not so much overthrown as cast adrift by his own allies.” Supposedly, political allies deserted him because they had been spooked by a rumor that the so-called protesters were now heavily armed by weapons seized from an arsenal in L’viv. Supposedly, those guns never reached Kiev.

Supposedly, Yanukovych’s allies were shocked and repulsed by the bloodshed resulting from the massacre of protesters by government snipers on February 20. Supposedly, security forces began deserting Yanukovych after: (1) Parliament issued a resolution on the evening of the 20th ordering all Interior Ministry Troops and police to return to their barracks and (2) Yanukovych entered negotiations on the 21st in which the matter of investigating the sniper massacre was put on the table. Supposedly, the government snipers were not about to wait around for such an investigation.

Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer assert that their conclusions were based upon ‘interviews with prominent players, including former commanders of the Berkut riot police and other security units. Yet, they apparently did not interview the former commandant of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), Major-General Oleksandr Yakymenko.

Why? Presumably, because, during a 12 March 2014 interview with Eugenie Popov on Rossiya 1 TV, Mr. Yakymenko claimed that his “counter-intelligence forces were monitoring the CIA in Ukraine during the protests… [T]he CIA was active on the ground in Kiev and collaborating with a small circle of opposition figures” (Nazemroaya, Flashpoint in Ukraine, p. 93).

Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer have nothing to say about CIA involvement. But, as James Carden recently asked in the pages of The National Interest, “Can anyone imagine, for an instant, that the Times would publish a purported piece of news analysis of, say, the last hours of the Allende and Mossadegh regimes, without so much as a mention of possible CIA involvement? Of course not.”

Mr. Yakymenko also said that “it was not the police or government forces that fired on protesters, but snipers from the Philharmonic Building [Music Conservatory Building?] that was controlled by opposition leader Andriy Parubiy,” who was “interacting with the CIA.” He said that “twenty men wearing ‘special combat clothes’ and carrying ‘sniper rifle cases, as well as AKMs with scopes’ ran out of the opposition-controlled Philharmonic Building [Music Conservatory Building?] and split into two groups of ten people, with one taking position at the Ukraine hotel” (Nazemroaya, Flashpoint in Ukraine, pp. 93-94). The other half moved in the direction of the Dnipro hotel near Muzeinyi Lane. (Katchanovski)

This is the same Mr. Parubiy who Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer found credible, when he asserted that the guns stolen from L’viv were not used by protesters in Kiev. Had they been more competent, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer would have recalled an earlier article in the Times by Alison Smale — titled “Tending Their Wounds, Vowing to Fight On” – that would have cast suspicion on Parubiy’s assertion.

On April 6, 2014, Ms. Smale quoted one wounded protester who asserted: “I knew this time we would need force and that there would be blood if we wanted to break free.”

Another wounded protester, Yuri Kravchuk, was the leader of a sotni and a close friend of the leader of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party. According to Ms. Smale, he carefully skirted “questions about the arrival of guns stolen from a government depot in the western Ukraine city of L’viv,” but did assert that fresh new arrivals from L’viv and two other cities in western Ukraine were able to carry the fight to the police on that fateful February 20.

Thus, in order to buy into the whitewash propagated by Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer, a reader must believe that the men came from L’viv, but not the guns. Yet, according to another source, “Maidan eyewitnesses among the protesters said that organized groups from L’viv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions in Western Ukraine arrived on the Maidan and moved into the Music Conservatory at the night of the February 20th massacre, and that some of them were armed with rifles” (Katchanovski, p. 24).

The inclusion of Parubiy’s lie is simply part of their whitewash sob story about the poor protesters who, on the morning of February 20, were “bedraggled” and occupying but a “few hundred square yards, at best, of scorched and soot-smeared pavement in central Kiev,” before many were cut down by “a hail of gunfire,” from Yanukovych’s forces.

One of the few assertions that Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer get “right” about February 20 is: “[T]he shock created by the bloodshed, the worst in the Ukrainian capital since World War II, had prompted a mass defection by the president’s allies in Parliament and prodded Mr. Yanukovych to join negotiations with a trio of opposition politicians.” Yet, logically, if the sniper fire created the bloodshed that prompted a mass defection by Yanukovych’s allies, whether Yanukovych “was not so much overthrown as cast adrift” or whether he was indeed overthrown in a slow-moving, multi-stage, violent coup, largely depends upon which side caused the sniper massacre.

One of the major flaws in the whitewash perpetrated by Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer on January 4th is their failure to explain who killed the policemen. “At least 17 of them were killed and 196 wounded from gunshots on February 18-20, including three killed and more than 20 wounded on February 20” (Katchanovski, p. 22).

Is it a coincidence that Kiev’s coup regime also has failed to investigate the killing of the police? After all, “A parliament member from the Maidan opposition stated that he had received a phone call from a Berkut commander shortly after 7:00 AM that 11 members of his police unit were wounded by shooters from the Music Conservatory building.” After the parliament member notified Mr. Parubiy, a Maidan Self-Defense search was conducted, but no shooters were found. However, within 30 minutes after Parubiy’s supposed inspection, the Berkut commander called again to report that his casualties had increased to 21 wounded and three killed” (Katchanovski p. 21).

Actually, there is plenty of evidence that Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer might have considered, were they competent and unbiased journalists. First, on March 5, 2014, the world learned of the first unbiased suggestion that the snipers who shot people on the Maidan were not government snipers, but came from the ranks of the protesters. EUBusiness.com reported that “Estonia’s top diplomat told EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in an audio leaked Wednesday about allegations that Ukraine’s pro-Western leaders may have had a hand in the February 20-21 bloodbath in Kiev.”

“‘There is now a stronger and stronger understanding (in Kiev) that behind the snipers, it was not (ousted president Viktor) Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition,’ Urmas Paet tells Ashton in the audio leaked on YouTube.”

The EUBusiness article notes: “Dozens of protesters and around 15 police officers were killed, and parliament impeached Yanukovych the next day.” According to the audio, “Paet told Ashton he was informed in Kiev that ‘they were the same snipers killing people from both sides.’” He appears to have received that information from a Maidan leader, physician Olga Bogomolets, who supposedly claimed that people on both sides were killed by the same type of bullets.

Then Paet added: “It’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, they don’t want to investigate exactly what happened.” (The authenticity of the audio has been confirmed by Estonia.)

Then, there’s the matter of a 10 April 2014 investigation into the sniper fire, conducted by German TV’s “ARD Monitor,” that Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer appear to have ignored. According to ARD Monitor, “there is this video that appears to show, that the demonstrators were hit from the back. The man in yellow on this recording goes even further. He was among the protesters who were on Institute Road for several hours that day. His name is Mikola, we met up with him at the scene of the events. He tells us that members of the opposition demonstrators were repeatedly shot in the back.

Mikola: “Yes, on the twentieth, we were shot at from behind, from the Hotel Ukraina, from the 8th or 9th floor.”

According to ARD’s report, “[T]he hotel on the morning of February 20 was firmly in the hands of the opposition. We talk to eyewitnesses from the Hotel Ukraina, journalists, and opposition figures. They all confirm to us on February 20 the hotel held by the opposition was heavily guarded. It would therefore have been very difficult to sneak in a government sniper.”

ARD then tracked down a radio amateur who had recorded Yanukovych’s snipers talking to each other that day. Their radio traffic shows them discussing the fact that someone is shooting at unarmed people – someone they do not know.

1st government sniper: “Hey guys, you over there, to the right from the Hotel Ukraina.”

2nd government sniper: “Who shot? Our people do not shoot at unarmed people. ”

1st sniper: “Guys, there sits a spotter aiming at me. Who is he aiming at there – in the corner? Look! ”

2nd sniper: “On the roof of the yellow building. On top of the cinema, on top of the cinema. ”

1st sniper:” Someone has shot him. But it wasn’t us. ”

2nd sniper:” Miron, Miron, there are even more snipers? And who are they? ”

ARD then interviewed Oleksandr Lisowoi, a doctor from Hospital No. 6 in Kiev, who confirmed that both protesters and government militia forces were shot by the same type of bullet. According to Dr. Lisowoi, “The wounded we treated had the same type of bullet wounds, I am now speaking of the type of bullets that we have surgically removed from the bodies – they were identical” Thus, Dr. Lisowoi confirmed what Estonia’s Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet, had told EU Foreign Policy and Security Policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

But, the failures by Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer to examine these reports, even if to dismiss them, pale in significance, when compared with their failure to deal with the most comprehensive and compelling examination of the sniper fire to date, Professor Ivan Katchanovski’s 29-page scholarly paper titled, “The Snipers Massacre on the Maidan in Ukraine.”

http://www.academia.edu/8776021/The_Snipers_Massacre_on_the_Maidan_in_Ukraine

Professor Katchanovski presented his paper to a seminar in Ottawa, Canada on 1 October 2014. Thus, Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer had plenty of time to digest its contents before writing the slop that the Timespublished on January 4th.

Like Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer, Professor Katchanovski emphasizes the significance of the sniper fire on February 20. “The massacre of several dozen Maidan protesters on February 20, 2014 was a turning point in Ukrainian politics and a tipping point in the escalating conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine” (p. 2).

Unlike Mr. Kramer and Mr. Higgins, however, Professor Katchanovski brings tons of evidence to his investigation. “Evidence used in this study includes publicly available but unreported, suppressed, or misrepresented videos and photos of suspected shooters, live statements by the Maidan announcers, radio intercepts of the Maidan snipers, and snipers and commanders from the special Alfa unit of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), ballistic trajectories, eyewitness reports by both Maidan protesters and government special unit commanders, public statements by both former and current government officials, bullets and weapons used, types of wounds among both protesters and the police, and the track record of politically motivated misrepresentations by the Maidan politicians of other cases of violence during and after the Euromaidan and historical conflicts. In particular, this study examines about 30 gigabytes of intercepted radio exchanges of the Security Service of Ukraine Alfa unit, Berkut, the Internal Troops, Omega, and other government agencies during the entire Maidan protests. These files were posted by a pro-Maidan Ukrainian radio amateur on a radio scanners forum, but they never were reported by the media or acknowledged by the Ukrainian government” (pp. 2-3).

“The timeline of the massacre with precision to minutes and locations of both the shooters and the government snipers are established in this study with great certainty based upon the synchronization of the sound on the main Maidan stage, images, and other sources of information that independently corroborate each other” (p. 3). For example, although the current Ukrainian government announced on November 19, 2014, that its extensive investigation produced no evidence of “snipers” in Hotel Ukraina, Professor Katchanovski has produced evidence of “an announcer on the Maidan stage [who] publicly warned the protesters about two to three snipers on the pendulum (second from top) floor of the Hotel Ukraina” (p. 5).

“[A] BBC video shows a sniper firing at the BBC television crew and the Maidan protesters from an open window on the pendulum floor of the hotel at 10:17 AM, and the BBC correspondent identifies the shooter as having a green helmet worn by Maidan protesters” (p. 7). And, “In the late afternoon, a speaker on the Maidan stage threatened to burn the Hotel Ukraina…because of constant reports of snipers in the hotel” (p. 8).

Although Professor Katchanovski admits, “a possibility that some protesters, specifically armed ones, including ‘snipers,’ were wounded or killed by the police fire cannot be ruled out” (p. 10), unlike Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer, he concludes: “Analysis of a large amount of evidence in this study suggests that certain elements of the Maidan opposition, including its extremist far right wing, were involved in the massacre in order to seize power and that the government investigation was falsified for this reason.” (p. 2)

He adds, “the [Ukrainian] government deliberately denies or ignores evidence of shooters and spotters in at least 12 buildings occupied by the Maiden side or located in the general territory held by them during the massacre.” (p. 5) So, too, do Mr. Higgins, Mr. Kramer and the Times.

Outraged by the Times whitewash of January 4, I immediately emailed the following letter to the editor:

To the editor:

In their extremely incomplete “investigation by the New York Times into the final hours of Mr. Yanukovych’s rule,” Andrew Higgins and Andrew E. Kramer do correctly assert that “the shock created by the bloodshed” caused by sniper fire on the morning of February 20, 2014 “prompted a mass defection by the president’s allies in Parliament and prodded Mr. Yanukovych to join negotiations with a trio of opposition politicians.”

Unfortunately, this latest Times investigation — like all its reporting since last February –assumes that Yanukovych’s police killed the protesters (and police!) on the morning of February 20. Moreover, the Times fails to mention, let alone rebut, a well-known, well-researched, and comprehensive analysis by Ivan Katchanovski, which concludes: “Analysis of a large amount of evidence in this study suggests that certain elements of the Maidan opposition, including its extremist far right wing were involved in the massacre in order to seize power…”

Yet, if Professor Katchanovski is correct, then the entire Times investigation is misdirected.

Consequently, until the Times seriously addresses the issue of the snipers, its reporting on regime change in Kiev should be viewed with the same skepticism that Times reporters derisively give to the so-called “Russian propaganda bubble.”

Walter C. Uhler

Needless to say, the Times failed to publish my letter.

Western Intervention and The Colonial Mindset

January 20th, 2015 by Prof. Tim Anderson

In these times of ‘colour revolutions’ language has been turned on its head. Banks have become the guardians of the natural environment, sectarian fanatics are now ‘activists’ and the Empire protects the world from great crimes, rather than delivering them.

Colonisation of language is at work everywhere, amongst highly educated populations, but is peculiarly virulent in colonial culture. ‘The West’, that self-styled epitome of advanced civilisation, energetically reinvents its own history, to perpetuate the colonial mindset.

Writers such as Fanon and Freire pointed out that colonised peoples experience psychological damage and need to ‘decolonise’ their minds, so as to become less deferential to imperial culture and to affirm more the values of their own cultures. The other side to that is the colonial legacy on imperial cultures. Western peoples maintain their own culture as central, if not universal, and have difficulty listening to or learning from other cultures. Changing this requires some effort.

Powerful elites are well aware of this process and seek to co-opt critical forces within their own societies, colonising progressive language and trivialising the role of other peoples. For example, after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the idea that NATO forces were protecting Afghan women was promoted and gained popularity. Despite broad opposition to the invasion and occupation, this ‘humanitarian’ goal appealed to the missionary side of western culture. In 2012 Amnesty International put up posters saying ‘NATO: keep the progress going’, on women’s rights in Afghanistan, while the George W. Bush Institute collected money to promote Afghan women’s rights.

The unfortunate balance sheet of NATO’s 13-year occupation is not so encouraging. The UNDP’s 2013 report shows that only 5.8% of Afghan women have had some secondary schooling (7th lowest in the world), the average Afghan woman has 6 babies (equal 3rd highest rate in the world, and linked to low education), maternal mortality is at 470 (equal 19th highest in the world) and average life expectancy is 49.1 years (equal 6th lowest in the world). Not impressive ‘progress’.

In many ways the long ‘feminist war’ in Afghanistan drew on the British legacy in colonial India. As part of its great ‘civilising mission’ that empire claimed to be protecting Indian women from ‘sati’, the practise of widows throwing themselves (or being thrown) on their husband’s funeral pyre. In fact, colonial rule brought little change to this isolated practice. On the other hand, the wider empowerment of girls and women under the British Raj was a sorry joke. At independence adult literacy was only 12%, and that of women much less. While India still lags in many respects, educational progress was much faster after 1947.

Such facts have not stopped historians like Niall Ferguson and Lawrence James attempting to sanitise British colonial history, not least to defend the more recent interventions. It might appear difficult to justify colonialism, but the argument seems to have a better chance amongst peoples with a colonial past seeking some vindication from within their own history and culture.

North American language is a bit different, as the United States of America claims never to have been a colonial power. The fact that US declarations of freedom and equality were written by slave-owners and ethnic-cleansers (the US Declaration of Independence famously attacks the British for imposing limits on the seizure of Native American land) has not dimmed enthusiasm for those fine ideals. That skilful tradition certainly influences the presentation of Washington’s recent interventions.

After the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq we saw a change in approach, with the big powers enlisting sectarian fanatics against the independent states of the region. Even the new Iraqi state, emerging from the post-2003 rubble, was attacked by these fanatics. An ‘Arab Spring’ saw Libya trampled by a pseudo-revolution backed by NATO bombing, then delivered to a bunch of squabbling al Qaeda groups and western collaborators. The little country that once had the highest living standards in Africa went backwards decades.

Next came brave Syria, which has resisted at terrible cost; but the propaganda war runs thick. Few in the west seem to be able to penetrate it. The western left shares illusions with the western right. What was at first said to be a nationalist and secular ‘revolution’ – an uprising against a ‘dictator’ who was killing his own people – is now led by ‘moderate rebels’ or ‘moderate Islamists’. The extremist Islamists, who repeatedly publicise their own atrocities, are said to be a different species, against whom Washington finally decided to fight. Much of this might sound ridiculous to the average educated Arab or Latin American, but it retains some appeal in the west.

One reason for the difference is that nation and state mean something different in the west. The western left has always seen the state as monolithic and nationalism as something akin to fascism; yet in the former colonies some hope remains with the nation-state. Western populations have never had their own Ho Chi Minh, Nelson Mandela, Salvador Allende, Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro. One consequence of this is, as much as western thinkers might criticise their own states, they are reluctant to defend others. Many who criticise  Washington  or  Israel  will not defend  Cuba  or  Syria .

All this makes proxy wars more marketable in the west. We could even say they have been a relatively successful tactic of imperial intervention, from the contra war on Nicaragua to the proxy armies of Islamists in Libya and Syria. So long as the big power is not seen to be directly involved, western audiences can find quite attractive the idea that they are helping another people rise up and gain their ‘freedom’.

Even Noam Chomsky, author of many books on US imperialism and western propaganda, adopts many of the western apologetics for the intervention in Syria. In a 2013 interview with a Syrian opposition paper he claimed the foreign-backed, Islamist insurrection was a repressed ‘protest movement’ that had been forced to militarise and that America and Israel had no interest in bringing down the Syrian Government. He admitted he was ‘excited’ by Syria’s uprising, but rejected the idea of a ‘responsibility to protect’ and opposed direct US intervention without a UN mandate. Nevertheless, he joined cause with those who want to ‘force’ the Syrian Government to resign, saying ‘nothing can justify Hezbollah’s involvement’ in Syria, after the Lebanese resistance group worked with the Syrian Army to turn the tide against the NATO-backed jihadists.

How do western anti-imperialists come to similar conclusions to those of the White House? First there is the anarchist or ultra-left idea of opposing all state power. This leads to attacks on imperial power yet, at the same time, indifference or opposition to independent states. Many western leftists even express enthusiasm at the idea of toppling an independent state, despite knowing the alternatives, as in Libya, will be sectarianism, bitter division and the destruction of important national institutions.

Second, reliance on western media sources has led many to believe that the civilian massacres in Syria were the work of the Syrian Government. Nothing could be further from the truth. A careful reading of the evidence will show that almost all the civilian massacres in Syria (Houla, Daraya, Aqrab, Aleppo University, East Ghouta) were carried out by sectarian Islamist groups, and sometimes falsely blamed on the government, in attempts to attract greater ‘humanitarian intervention’.

The third element which distorts western anti-imperial ideas is the constrained and self-referential nature of discussions. The parameters are policed by corporate gatekeepers, but also reinforced by broader western illusions of their own civilising influence.

A few western journalists have reported in sufficient detail to help illustrate the Syrian conflict, but their perspectives are almost always conditioned by the western ‘liberal’ and humanitarian narratives. Indeed, the most aggressive advocacy of ‘humanitarian intervention’ in recent years has come from liberal media outlets like the UK Guardian and corporate-NGOs such as Avaaz, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Those few journalists who maintain an independent perspective, like Arab-American Sharmine Narwani, publish mostly outside the better-known corporate media channels.

Imperial culture also conditions the humanitarian aid industry. Ideological pressure comes not just from the development banks but also the NGO sector, which maintains a powerful sense of mission, even a ‘saviour complex’ about its relations with the rest of the world. While ‘development cooperation’ may have once included ideas of compensation for colonial rule, or assistance during a transition to independence, today it has become a $100 billion a year industry, with decision making firmly in the hands of western financial agencies.

Quite apart from the dysfunction of many aid programs, this industry is deeply undemocratic, with powerful colonial overtones. Yet many western aid workers really believe they can ‘save’ the poor peoples of the world. That cultural impact is deep. Aid agencies not only seek to determine economic policy, they often intervene in political and even constitutional processes. This is done in the name of ‘good governance’, anti-corruption or ‘democracy strengthening’. Regardless of the problems of local bodies, it is rarely admitted that foreign aid agencies are the least democratic players of all.

For example, at the turn of this century, as Timor Leste gained its independence, aid bodies used their financial muscle to prevent the development of public institutions in agriculture and food security, and pushed that new country into creating competitive political parties, away from a national unity government. Seeking an upper hand amongst the ‘donor community’, Australia then aggravated the subsequent political division and crisis of 2006. With ongoing disputes over maritime boundaries and petroleum resources, Australian academics and advisers were quick to seize on that moment of weakness to urge that Timor Leste’s main party be ‘reformed’, that its national army be sidelined or abolished and that the country adopt English as a national language. Although all these pressures were resisted, it seemed in that moment that many Australian ‘friends’ of Timor Leste imagined they had ‘inherited’ the little country from the previous colonial rulers. This can be the peculiar western sense of ‘solidarity’.

Imperial cultures have created a great variety of nice-sounding pretexts for intervention in the former colonies and newly independent countries. These pretexts include protecting the rights of women, ensuring good governance and helping promote ‘revolutions’. The level of double-speak is substantial.

Those interventions create problems for all sides. Independent peoples have to learn new forms of resistance. Those of good will in the imperial cultures might like to reflect on the need to decolonise the western mind.

Such a process, I suggest would require consideration of (a) the historically different views of the nation-state, (b) the important, particular functions of post-colonial states, (c) the continued relevance and importance of the principle of self-determination, (d) the need to bypass a systematically deceitful corporate media and (e) the challenge of confronting fond illusions over the supposed western civilising influence. All these seem to form part of a neo-colonial mindset, and may help explain the extraordinary western blindness to the damage done by intervention.

References

Tim Anderson (2006) ‘Timor Leste: the Second Australian Intervention’, Journal of Australian Political Economy, No 58, December, pp.62-93

Tony Cartalucci (2012) ‘Amnesty International is US State Department propaganda’, Global research, 22 August, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/amnesty-international-is-us-state-department-propaganda/32444

Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley (2012) ‘Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley’, Consortium News, June 18, online: https://consortiumnews.com/2012/06/18/amnestys-shilling-for-us-wars/

Noam Chomsky (2013) ‘Noam Chomsky: The Arab World And The Supernatural Power of the United States’, Information Clearing House, 16 June, online: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article35527.htm 

Bush Centre (2015) ‘Afghan Women’s Project’, George W, Bush Centre, online: http://www.bushcenter.org/womens-initiative/afghan-womens-project

Some detail of Syria’s ‘false flag’ massacres can be seen in the following articles:

Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh (2013) ‘Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack’, MINT PRESS, August 29, online:http://www.mintpressnews.com/witnesses-of-gas-attack-say-saudis-supplied-rebels-with-chemical-weapons/168135/

Rainer Hermann (2012) ‘Abermals Massaker in Syrien’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7 June, online: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/neue-erkenntnisse-zu-getoeteten-von-hula-abermals-massaker-in-syrien-11776496.html

Stephen Lendman (2012) Insurgents Named Responsible for Syrian Massacres’, ICH, 11 June: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31544.htm  

Richard Lloyd and Theodore A. Postol (2014) ‘Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013’, MIT, January 14, Washington DC, online:https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1006045-possible-implications-of-bad-intelligence.html#storylink=relast

Marinella Correggia, Alfredo Embid, Ronda Hauben, Adam Larson (2013) ‘Official Truth, Real Truth, and Impunity for the Syrian Houla Massacre of May 2012’, CIWCL,May 15, online: http://ciwclibya.org/reports/realtruthhoula.html

ISTEAMS (2013) ‘Independent Investigation of Syria Chemical Attack Videos and Child Abductions’, 15 September, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/STUDY_THE_VIDEOS_THAT_SPEAKS_ABOUT_CHEMICALS_BETA_VERSION.pdf

Seymour Hersh (2013) ‘Whose Sarin?’, LRB, 19 December, online: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n24/seymour-m-hersh/whose-sarin

Souad Mekhennet (2014) ‘The terrorists fighting us now? We just finished training them’, Washington Post, August 18, online: http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/08/18/the-terrorists-fighting-us-now-we-just-finished-training-them/

Marat Musin (2012b) ‘THE HOULA MASSACRE: Opposition Terrorists “Killed Families Loyal to the Government’, Global research, 1 June, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-houla-massacre-opposition-terrorists-killed-families-loyal-to-the-government/31184?print=1

Sharmine Narwani (2014) ‘Syria: the hidden massacre’, RT, 7 May, online: http://rt.com/op-edge/157412-syria-hidden-massacre-2011/

Sharmine Narwani (2014) ‘Joe Biden’s latest foot in mouth’, Veterans News Now, October 3, online: http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2014/10/03/510328joe-bidens-latest-foot-in-mouth/

Truth Syria (2012) ‘Syria – Daraa revolution was armed to the teeth from the very beginning’, BBC interview with Anwar Al-Eshki,YouTube, 7 November, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoGmrWWJ77w

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) building in Cheltenham, Gloucestireshire. (Photo: UK Ministry of Defence/flickr/cc)

British intelligence swept up private communications of journalists of some of the largest media outlets in the UK and U.S., a new Guardian analysis of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s NSA files reveals.

Emails exchanged between journalists and editors at the Guardian, the BBC, Reuters, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Le Monde, the Sun, and NBC were harvested, saved, and shared in November 2008 among intelligence agents during a Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) test exercise, according to the analysis by Guardianreporter James Ball, published Monday.

The surveillance sweep collected 70,000 emails in less than 10 minutes.

Press releases, story revisions sent between reporters and editors, and other communications were all harvested as part of a test of a GCHQ tool that was developed to “strip irrelevant data out of the agency’s tapping process,” Ball writes. After being retained, the emails were made available on GCHQ’s intranet to cleared personnel.

While there was no evidence to suggest whether those reporters were intentionally targeted, a separate set of UK intelligence documents show that “investigative journalists” were placed on a security threat assessment list alongside terrorists and hackers.

One internal document intended for army intelligence stated that “journalists and reporters representing all types of news media represent a potential threat to security.”

Monday’s analysis of the NSA files comes amid heated debate over government surveillance and its risks to civil liberties. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly called for stronger surveillance power for British intelligence, proposing legislation in the wake of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo that would allow British police to break into encrypted communications of “suspected terrorists.”

In response to those heightened demands and continuing Snowden revelations, more than 100 editors signed a letter Monday coordinated by the Society of Editors and Press Gazette urging Cameron to put an end to police spying on journalists.

“The code needs to balance the seriousness of the alleged crime against the public interest in protecting the confidentiality of all journalistic sources and potential whistleblowers,” the letter states.

Records obtained under RIPA without warrants must be kept as one of the agency’s top secrets, the NSA files show.

A GCHQ spokesperson defended the agency’s policies, telling the Guardian, “[T]he UK’s interception regime is entirely compatible with the European convention on human rights.”

The 400 richest billionaires in the world added another $92 billion to their names in 2014 and now sit on assets worth $4.1 trillion, but Russia’s super-wealthy have been hit by economic problems resulting from the Ukraine crisis.

The biggest winner in 2014 was China’s Jack Ma, who co-founded the Alibaba Group Holding ltd, (BABA), China’s largest e-commerce company, Bloomberg reports.

Ma, who has a personal fortune of $28.7 billion, has added $25.1 billion to his wealth since the September initial public offering saw shares surge by 56 percent.

Other big winners in 2014 were Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg. Buffet increased his net worth by $13.7 billion as dozens of businesses he had brought over the past five decades produced record profits.

Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook, the world’s largest social networking company, added $10.6 billion to his cash pile. Facebook has flourished this year as advertising increased and marketing initiatives expanded, and the 2012 acquisition of Instagram has also paid off; with the photo sharing app now worth $35 billion.

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, remains the world’s richest man with an $87.6 billion personal fortune, up $9.1 billion this year.

Image from bloomberg.comImage from bloomberg.com

Russian blues

The Majority of Russia’s billionaires have seen their fortunes shrink this year, as the EU and the US imposed sanctions and limited Russian companies’ access to financing from Western banks, as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov, the main shareholder in the Russian conglomerate AFK Sistema, was hardest hit. Once Russia’s 14th richest man, he lost 80 percent of his wealth after a money laundering investigation into the $2.5 billion purchase of oil producer Bashneft, which saw him sentenced to house arrest.

Leonid Mikhelson, the CEO of Novatek, Russia’s second largest natural gas producer, was the biggest loser in terms of dollars. He has lost $7.8 billion since the beginning of the year and is now worth $10.1 billion.

Alisher Usmanov dropped from first place and is now Russia’s second richest person after his MegaFon mobile phone company lost almost half of its value since June. Viktor Vekselberg is currently Russia’s richest person and is worth $14.1 billion.

Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum billionaire who owns Rusal was one of a handful of Russians who saw their fortune grow in 2014, adding $1.6 billion to Rusal and increasing his worth to $8.2 billion.

Stanislav Belkovsky, a former Kremlin adviser who is a now a consultant for Moscow’s Institute for National Strategy, said that this will make it harder for Russians doing business in the West.

“The reputation of Russian business in the West has become worse, and will continue to get worse. That means that the capabilities for Russia’s billionaires to run businesses abroad are going to decrease,” he told Bloomberg.

There has been a lot of discussion about the reverberations of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, with many commentators saying that it’s further proof of Samuel Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations’ thesis. That may be true to a certain extent, but such advocates are missing out on the deeper problem right under their own noses, and that’s the West’s intra-civilizational clash that the terrorists finally brought to the surface. While simmering for some time,it’s now undeniable that Western civilization is clearly divided along three distinct fault lines: freedom of speech, multiculturalism, and self-identity. Each of these forms a foundational pillar of Western civilization, and their polarization into two diametrically opposed sides (especially in the wake of Charlie Hebdo) threatens to upend the flimsy ideological unity that has misleadingly been a hallmark of Western culture for years.

Flogging The Freedom of Speech

Western civilization loudly (and falsely) advertises itself as supposedly being the only one that cherishes freedom of speech. The popular outcry in the aftermath of the attacks was that the West shouldn’t let the terrorists censor their personal expressions, no matter how vile and disrespectful they may be, hence the ‘I am Charlie’ slogan that has come to symbolize this attitude. This extreme knee-jerk reaction came about because the said ‘freedom’ was physically under attack, but the West is actually divided over what exactly should constitute freedom of speech, and France serves as the perfect battleground of this intra-civilizational conflict.

Talking unflatteringly about Jews can lead to possible criminal charges of “inciting religious hatred”.

On one hand, the extremely liberal elements in society ‘(the ‘Charlies’) advocate absolute freedom in saying whatever one pleases – provided that it doesn’t contravene an unspoken political correctness that pervades society and is enforceable by law. Their thinking goes that one can be as Islamophobic as they please, but they can’t be anti-Semitic or voice their support for terrorism. Talking unflatteringly about Jews can lead to possible criminal charges of “inciting religious hatred”, while people that post positive things about the Charlie Hebdo terrorists (or appear to do so) are immediately arrested and charged with “inciting terrorism”. The irony is that it took France until November 2014 to jail its first returning jihadist from Syria, and prior to that, it was only investigating such individuals. Anyhow, the extreme liberals exemplify the fact that ‘freedom of speech’ is merely just an emotional and selectively applied rallying cry to be evoked when it’s politically convenient for their cause.

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s been voices of moderation within France and the West that understand the responsibilities that come with any freedom, namely that of speech. They’re against taking it to its extreme (and hypocritical) end and instead preach against all hateful iterations of expression, be it anti-Semitism or Islamophobia (although they still have a long ways to go in campaigning against Russophobia). Nonetheless, in the current political climate, these individuals are being labeled as having ‘capitulated’ to the terrorists, and full-scale information campaigns are now initiated to discredit this line of thinking, despite having millions of adherents. This massive social cleavage is one of the main features of the West’s intra-civilizational conflict, and the direction that it takes will have long-standing implications for how its society interacts with both itself and others.

Rethinking Multiculturalism

Nicolas Sarkozy, then French president, shaking hands with Amedy Coulibaly, a terrorist who killed one policeman and four shoppers in a kosher supermarket in Paris early January 2015. This handshake took place on July 15 2009, at an official event at the Elysee palace, organised to promote apprenticeships for youth.

Nicolas Sarkozy, then French president, shaking hands with Amedy Coulibaly, a terrorist who killed one policeman and four shoppers in a kosher supermarket in Paris early January 2015. This handshake took place on July 15 2009, at an official event at the Elysee palace, organised to promote apprenticeships for youth.

One of the staples of modern Western civilization has been the supposed sacredness of multiculturalism, an ideal that was previously immune to serious criticism with society. When it was formerly contested for being a naïve depiction of reality and nothing short of an impossible ideological project, its detractors were castigated as ‘racists’ and written off as ‘right-wing extremists’. This authoritarian attitude towards civil discourse obviously conflicts with freedom of speech, but in the pursuit of hyper-liberalist ends, any means of self-contradiction are apparently excused. The ideological blindness that dictated such hypocritical policies facilitated the creation of ethnic and religious ghettos in major Western cities, whose non-Western immigrant or immigrant-descended inhabitants refused to assimilate and integrate into the larger society.

Putin pointed out in 2012 how multiculturalism is a failed concept, writing that it “elevates the (idea of the) ‘right of minorities to be different’ to the absolute and, at the same time, insufficiently balances this right with civil, behavioral, and cultural obligations in regard to the indigenous population and society as a whole.” This in turn creates “closed national and religious communities…which not only refuse to assimilate, but [do not] even adapt…neighborhoods and entire cities where generations of immigrants are living on welfare… (and) do not speak the language of the host country.” The Russian President’s assessment is extremely accurate, and it gave a voice to the millions of disgruntled Western citizens who had frustratingly been saying the same thing for decades but to no avail. Now, considering that the Charlie Hebdo attackers are the spawn of such an ideological creation as multiculturalism, moderate opposition to this radical concept is now growing, and with it, the potential for further conflict within the West’s civilizational space.

National Realities vs. Transnational Fantasies

The conflicts over the proper expression of freedom of speech and the effectiveness of the multicultural ideal are indicative of a larger struggle over how Western countries self-identify, and whether it is as independent nations or subservient national appendages of a transnational entity. Put another way, are the people of France uniquely ‘French’ or are they just the French part of the larger European whole (and thus, responsible to the larger hodgepodge entity)? This cultural question raises the larger and more salient issue of sovereignty and the degree to which its tradeoff is acceptable on behalf of an abstract ‘greater good’.

The French boast of their long-standing tradition of sarcasm and satire (especially in the defense of Charlie Hebdo), but the caustic reality is that the country itself has become a caricature, as the birthplace of Western liberal democracy turns into a post-modernist parody.

The French boast of their long-standing tradition of sarcasm and satire (especially in the defense of Charlie Hebdo), but the caustic reality is that the country itself has become a caricature, as the birthplace of Western liberal democracy turns into a post-modernist parody.

Moving away from intangible theory and toward the realm of practical examples,one can see that France has historically been extremely proud of its cultural heritage and sees it as an integral part of its identity. At the same time, however, the transnational concept of the EU and the free movement regime of the Schengen Zone have led to a relative dilution of France’s prized identity asset, as multiculturalist influences from all across the world (including the non-Western Francophone one) moved in to replace traditional French culture. The French boast of their long-standing tradition of sarcasm and satire (especially in the defense of Charlie Hebdo), but the caustic reality is that the country itself has become a caricature, as the birthplace of Western liberal democracy turns into a post-modernist parody.

The more that France tries to become ‘European’, the more it loses its ‘Frenchness’, but conversely, any movement back to its national identity is criticized as ‘fascist’ and being ‘against the European spirit’. Tragically, France is far from alone in facing this predicament, since the population of every EU member state is in the same sinking boat. Just as a Chinese finger trap strengthens its hold over someone the more animatedly they wiggle back and forth, so too are the national cultures of Europe ever more trapped in the jaws of their dilemma as they frantically oscillate between ‘European’ and national policies. Expect this debate to deepen all across the continent in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo and for it to have the most impactful consequences of all for the societies comprising Western civilization.

Concluding Thoughts

A civilizational clash most certainly was brought to the forefront after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, but contrary to popular perception, it wasn’t of the West versus Islam, but of the liberal and moderate elements of Western society fighting amongst themselves. ‘Islamic’ terrorists were the catalyst for truly setting this conflict into motion (which had been tensely building up until then), but regular Muslims (those who are not extremists and have successfully integrated/assimilated into their host states) are being blamed and victimized by boisterous elements of the Western press. This convenient bait-and-switch approach blinds the mainstream population to the true internecine nature of the current intra-civilizational conflict and provides each ideologically opposing side with millions of scapegoats and scarecrows for their protracted struggle with the other. It’s not known which side will come out on top, nor how long this fraternal conflict will drag on for, but the internal clash within Western civilization may certainly stall its members general progress in all spheres and contribute to the cancerous rot that has been eating away at the West for decades.

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

The edifice of the post-1991 world order is collapsing right before our eyes. President Putin’s decision to give a miss to the Auschwitz pilgrimage, right after his absence in Paris at Charlie festival, gave it the last shove. It was good clean fun to troll Russia, as long as she stayed the course. Not anymore. Russia broke the rules.

Until now, Russia, like a country bumpkin in Eton, tried to belong. It attended the gathering of the grandees where it was shunned, paid its dues to European bodies that condemned it, patiently suffered ceaseless hectoring of the great powers and irritating baiting of the East European small-timers alike. But something broke there. The lad does not want to belong anymore; he picked up his stuff and went home. Just when they needed him to kneel in Auschwitz.

The Auschwitz gathering is an annual Canossa of the Western leaders where they bewail their failure to protect the Jews and swear their perennial obedience to them. This is a more important religious rite in our days, the One Ring to rule them all, established in 2001, when the Judeo-American empire reached the pinnacle of its power. The Russian leader duly attended the events. This year, they will have to do without him. Israeli ministers already have expressed their deep dissatisfaction for this although it was Russia’s Red Army that saved the Jews in Auschwitz. Absence of Russia turns theHolocaust memorial day into a parochial, West-only, event. Worse, Russia’s place will be taken byUkraine, with its Nazi-glorifying regime.

This comes after the French Charlie demo, also spurned by Russia. The West hinted that Russia’s sins would be forgiven, up to a point, if she joined, first the demo, and later, the planned anti-terrorist coalition, but Russia did not take the bait. This was a visible change, for previously, Russian leaders eagerly participated in such events and voted for West-sponsored resolutions. In 2001, Putin fully supported George Bush’s War on Terrorism in the UN and on the ground. As recently as 2011, Russia agreed with sanctions against North Korea and Iran. As for coming to a demonstration, the Russians could always be relied upon. This time, the Russians did not come, excepting the token presence of the foreign minister Mr. Lavrov. This indomitable successor of Mr. Nyet had left the event almost immediately and went – to pray in the Russian church, in a counter-demonstration, of sorts, againstCharlie. By going to the church, he declared that he is not Charlie.

For the Charlie Hebdo magazine was (and probably is) explicitly anti-Christian as well as anti-Muslim. One finds there some most obnoxious cartoons offending the Virgin and Christ, as well as the pope and the Church. (They never offended Jews, somehow). A Russian blogger who’s been exposed to this magazine for the first time, wrote on his page: I am ashamed that the bastards were dealt with byMuslims, not by Christians. This was quite a common feeling in Moscow these days. The Russians could not believe that such smut could be published and defended as a right of free speech. People planned a demo against that Charlie, but City Hall forbade it.

Remember, a few years ago, that Pussy Riot profaned the St Saviour of Moscow in the way that Femen had profaned some great European cathedrals, from Notre Dame de Paris to Strasbourg. The Russian government did not wait for vigilante justice being meted upon the viragos, but had given them up to two years of prison. At the same time, the Russian criminal law has been changed to include ‘sacrilege’ among ordinary crimes, by general consent. The Russians do feel about their faith more strongly than what EC rulers prescribe.

In Charlie’s France, Hollande’s regime frogmarched the unwilling people into a quite unnecessary gay marriage law, notwithstanding one-million-strong demonstrations of Catholics. The Femen despoiling the churches were never punished; but a church warden who tried to prevent that, was heavily fined. France has a long anti-Christian tradition, usually described as “laic”, and its grand anti-Church coalition of Atheists, Huguenots and Jews coalesced in the Dreyfus Affair days. Thus Lavrov’s escape to the church was a counter-demonstration, saying: Russia is for Christ, and Russia is not againstMuslims.

While the present western regime is anti-Christian and anti-Muslim, it is pro-Jewish to an extent that defies a rational explanation. France had sent thousands of soldiers and policemen to defend Jewish institutions, though this defence antagonises their neighbours. While Charlie are glorified for insultingChristians and Muslims, Dieudonné has been sent to jail for annoying Jews. Actually, Charlie Hebdo dismissed a journalist for one sentence allegedly disrespectful for Jews. This unfairness is a source of aggravation: Muslims were laughed out of court when they complained against particularly vileCharlie’s cartoons, but Jews almost always win when they go to the court against their denigrators. (Full disclosure: I was also sued by LICRA, the French Jewish body, while my French publisher was devastated by their legal attacks).

The Russians don’t comprehend the Western infatuation with Jews, for Russian Jews are well assimilated and integrated in general society. The narrative of Holocaust is not popular in Russia for a simple reason: so many Russians of every ethnic background lost their lives in the war, that there is no reason to single out Jews as supreme victims. Millions died at the siege of Leningrad; Belarus lost a quarter of its population. More importantly, Russians feel no guilt regarding Jews: they treated them fairly and saved them from the Nazis. For them, the Holocaust is a Western narrative, as foreign as JeSuisCharlie. With drifting of Russia out of Western consensus, there is no reason to maintain it.

This does not mean the Jews are discriminated against. The Jews of Russia are doing very well, thank you, without Holocaust worship: they occupy highest positions in the Forbes list of Russia’s rich, with a capital of $122 billion, while all rich ethnic Russians own $165 billion, according to the Jewish-owned resource. Jews run the most celebrated media shows in prime time on the state TV; they publish newspapers; they have full and unlimited access to Putin and his ministers; they usually have their way when they want to get a plot of land for their communal purposes. And anti-Semitic propaganda is punishable by law – like anti-Christian or anti-Muslim abuse, but even more severely. Still, it is impossible to imagine a Russian journalist getting sack like CNN anchor Jim Clancy or BBC’s Tim Willcox for upsetting a Jew or speaking against Israel.

Russia preserves its plurality, diversity and freedom of opinions. The Pro-Western Russian media – Novaya Gazeta of oligarch Lebedev, the owner of the British newspaper Independent – carries the JeSuis slogan and speaks of Holocaust, as well as demands to restore Crimea to the Ukraine. But the vast majority of Russians do support their President, and his civilizational choice. He expressed it when he went to midnight Christmas mass in a small village church in far-away province, together with orphans and refugees from the Ukraine. And he expressed it by refusing to go to Auschwitz.

Neither willingly nor easily did Russia break the ranks. Putin tried to take Western baiting in his stride: be it Olympic games, Syria confrontation, gender politics, Georgian border, even Crimea-related sanctions. The open economic warfare was a game changer. Russia felt attacked by falling oil prices, by rouble trouble, by rating downgrades. These developments were considered acts of hostility, rather than the result of “the hidden hand of the market”.

Russians love conspiracies, as James Bond used to say. They do not believe in chance, coincidence nor natural occurrences, and are likely to consider a falling meteorite or an earthquake – a result of hostileAmerican action, let alone a fall in the rouble/dollar exchange rate. They could be right, too, though it is hard to prove.

Regarding oil price fall, the jury is out. Some say this is an action by the Saudis aimed at American fracking companies, or alternatively a Saudi-American plot against Russia. However, the price of oil is not formed by supply-and-demand, but by financial instruments, futures and derivatives. This virtual demand-and-supply is much bigger than the real one. When hedge funds stopped buying oil futures, the price downturn became unavoidable, but were the funds directed by politicians, or did they act so because Quantitative Easing ended?

The steep fall of the rouble could be connected to the oil price downturn, but not necessarily so. TheRouble is not involved in forming oil prices. It could be an action by a very big financial institution. Soros broke the back of the British pound in 1991; the Korean won, Thai bhat and Malaysian ringgit suffered similar fates in 1998. In each case, the attacked country lost about 40% of its GDP. It is possible that Russia was attacked by financial weapons directed from New York.

The European punitive sanctions forbade long-term cheap credit to Russian companies. The Russian state does not need loans, but Russian companies do. The combination of these factors put a squeeze on Russian pockets. The rating agencies kept downgrading the Russian rating almost to junk level, for political reasons, I was told. As they were deprived of credit, state companies began to hoard dollars to later pay their debts, and they refrained from converting their huge profits to roubles, as they had done until now. The rouble fell dramatically, probably to levels much lower than necessary.

This is not pinpoint sanctions aimed at Putin’s friends. This is a full-blown war. If the initiators expected Russians will be mad at Putin, they miscalculated. The Russian public is angry with theAmerican organisers of this economic warfare, not with its own government. The pro-Western opposition tried to demonstrate against Putin, but very few people joined them.

Ordinary Russians kept a stiff upper lip. They did not notice the sanctions until the rouble staggered, and even then they rather shopped like mad than protested. In face of shrinking money, they did not buy salt and sugar, as their grandparents would. Their battle cry against hogging was “Do not take more than two Lexus cars per family, leave something for others!”

Perhaps, the invisible financiers went too far. Instead of being cowed, the Russians are preparing for a real long war, as they and their ancestors fought – and won. It is not that they have a choice: thoughAmericans insist Russia should join their War-on-Terrorism-II, they do not intend to relinquish their sanctions.

The Russians do not know how to deal with the financial attack. Without capital restrictions, Russia will be cleaned out. The Russian Central bank and Treasury people are strict monetarists, capital restrictions are anathema for them. Putin, being a liberal himself, apparently trusts them. Capital flight took huge proportions. Unless Russia will use the measures successfully tried by Mohammad Mahathir of Malaysia, it will continue. Meanwhile, we do not see signs for change.

This could be the incentive for Putin to deal with Ukraine. If the Russians do not know how to shuffle futures and derivatives, they are expert in armour movements and tank battles. The Kiev regime is also spoiling for a fight, apparently pushed by the American neocons. It is possible that the US will get more than what it bargained for in the Ukraine.

One can be certain that Russians will not support the Middle Eastern crusade of NATO, as this military action was prepared at the Charlie demo in Paris. It is far from clear who killed the cartoonists, but Paris and Washington intend to use it for reigniting war in the Middle East. This time, Russia will be in opposition, and probably will use it as an opportunity to change the uncomfortable standoff in theUkraine. Thus supporters of peace in the Middle East have a reason to back Russia.

The New World Order est mort. Vive the Future!

Israel Shamir works in Moscow and Jaffa; he can be reached on [email protected]

Maariv today published an astonishing story.  Anyone reading this blog is used to the brutishness of the Shin Bet.  But usually it’s reserved for Palestinians, Arab journalists, and air travelers with Arab “racial” profiles.  We would never expect it to be meted out to the elected leader of a country that is an Israeli ally.

On the day of the memorial service for those slain in the kosher supermarket attack, Prime Minister Manuel Valls sought to take his seat in the synagogue with the President, Francois Hollande and Israel’s leader, Bibi Netanyahu.  As he approached his seat, his path was blocked by a Shin Bet agent who refused to allow him to pass until Netanyahu had taken his own seat.  According to Valls, the agent grabbed his arm and forced him to wait until the Israeli had seated himself.

Valls shouted at him in French and English:

You don’t make the rules here. You provide security for the prime minister of Israel, that is all.

French prime minister in paris grand synagogue

The Israeli ambassador to France apologized for the encounter.  There can be no doubt that this was a deliberate affront to France’s political leadership.  Hollande and Valls made clear during Netanyahu visit that he wasn’t wanted in the country.  Bibi isn’t one to suffer insults gladly.  So either he, his official lackeys, or the Shin Bet itself took it upon itself to take Valls down a peg or two.  It seems to me this is an extremely dangerous game.  It also seems to me this is a game played by very desperate people who share no concern for the overall long term interests of their country.  But who are rather motivated by personal needs and emotions.

In a separate encounter, a leader of the French Jewish community recounted a meeting Netanyahu held with the communal leadership.  Those attending were “deeply insulted” by the prime minister’s comparison of their behavior to those of the Spanish Jews in 1492 “who felt good in Spain but who erred” in not leaving when they had the chance.

You may recall that Netanyahu’s father, Ben Zion, was a scholar of medieval Spanish Jewry.  Maariv notes that in the meeting Bibi summoned his father’s authority to support the insult he offered the French leadership.  I’ve said here before that Bibi has none of the supposed erudition of his father regarding Jewish history.  Where would he have had Spanish Jews go?  To the Holy Land?  As it was, Spanish Jews found refuge in many places from Amsterdam to Brazil to New Amsterdam.  But to say that in the 15th century, Spanish Jewry should’ve known that the were doomed if they remained in Spain, seems the height of foolishness.

If we draw the historical analogy further, Bibi seems to be saying that France is headed for the same sort of religious takeover that Catholics engineered in 15th century Spain.  Except that this time, it will be Islamists taking over.  Further, Bibi infers that the Islamist hordes who do take over France will expel all French Jews after they do.  Therefore, they should escape now to Israel, their homeland, while there’s still time.  I think most reasonable people can see how ludicrous this logic is.  It’s the product of a distorted view of reality induced by the thinking that characterized Ben Zion Netanyahu, Zeev Jabotinsky’s personal secretary.

Netanyahu’s tongue-lashing is little different (in fact it’s pretty much the same) as blaming Polish and Russian Jews for not foreseeing Hitler’s rise and the Holocaust, and escaping while they still had time.  This is a shameful act of blaming the victims.  It’s easy to read history with 20/20 hindsight, but much harder when you are in the middle of such great tragedy.  As someone who’s known Holocaust survivors and written an oral history of an Auschwitz survivor, I make it a point never to judge the actions of those facing such life and death dilemmas.  It takes a cold, cruel, heartless man to do so.  And Bibi Netanyahu is just such a one.

Stories like this presage a hardening of the world’s attitude toward Israel.  When asked politely to stay home, Netanyahu defied his French hosts.  What country in the world will want to welcome him after this?  Now, an act of petty vengeance by a Shin Bet goon has strengthened the process of isolation represented by BDS.

Bibi had already been warned that defying Hollande’s wish would sour bi-lateral relations for the rest of Bibi’s premiership.  Now, Israel can expect a French vote in the UNSC in favor of Palestinian statehood.

Protests throughout the Muslim world gained last this week after the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo again highlighted a cartoon on its cover depicting the Islamic religion with disdain.

This publication’s offices were attacked by two alleged suspects of Algerian descent, Cherif and Said Kouachi, who had lived their lives in the impoverished suburbs outside of Paris. In the response to the deaths of twelve staff members, security personnel and police on Jan. 7, the French government under Francois Hollande has intensified its repressive apparatus largely targeting the African, Middle Eastern and Muslim communities in France.

Dozens of Muslims have been arrested by the police and intelligence services attempting to link them with the two brothers and another French citizen of West African origin, Amedy Coulibaly, who was killed when police stormed a supermarket in Paris on Jan. 9. Four other people died in the hostage-taking episode that was linked to the simultaneous actions that resulted in the police killing of the Kouachi brothers at a printing factory in Dammartin-en-Goele.

Another woman of Algerian descent, Hayat Boumeddiene, was reported to have been a major suspect in the shootings. However, she had left France as early as Jan. 2, five days prior to the Charlie Hebdo attack.

The official French position along with their western allies in Europe and North America is that the so-called “ideology of radical Islam” is the central problem fomenting such terrorist attacks. There has been very little discussion in the corporate media about the overall social conditions facing Africans, Arabs and Muslims in France as well as the continent in general.

African Muslims Demonstrate Across Region

In Africa demonstrations have taken place in Algeria, Senegal, Sudan, Mauritania and in Niger, the most violent, where a French cultural center was attacked on Jan. 16. All of these states have large Muslim populations and many people within them viewed the latest Charlie Hebdo magazine as an affront to their religious beliefs.

These demonstrations in African states are coinciding with similar manifestations in Yemen, Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan and other countries. In many of these demonstrations people have gathered outside the French embassies often coming into conflict with police.

According to a Voice of America (VOA) report, “In Algiers, Algeria, police clashed with demonstrators who threw rocks and bottles around the waterfront area of the capital. Hundreds of people had earlier marched peacefully through the capital, waving placards saying ‘I am Muhammad’.”

This same article goes on to note that “Largely peaceful marches took place in the capitals of West African countries Mali, Senegal and Mauritania.”

Nonetheless, in Niger, demonstrations turned violent when crowds clashed with security forces. Several reports indicate that Christian churches were targeted in the attacks.

After three days of demonstrations during Jan. 16-18, at least ten people were killed. In the second largest city in Niger, Zinder, a French cultural center was damaged during protests.

In addition, other demonstrations were reported in regional cities, such as Maradi, 600 km east of Niamey the capital, where the two churches were struck by arson. Another church and a residence of the foreign minister were said to have been torched in the eastern town of Goure.

Niger has a population of 17 million people most of whom are Muslims. Despite this the central government says that it is a secular state.

A former French colony, the country is rich with mineral resources, mainly uranium. The uranium mines are largely controlled by AREVA, a firm based in Paris.

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou told the country in a television address on Jan. 17 that “Those who pillage religious sites and profane them, those who persecute and kill their Christian compatriots or foreigners who live on our soil, have understood nothing of Islam.”

Nevertheless, the president added that he understood the anger of Muslims who feel aggrieved by the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad and that “freedom of expression should not mean liberty to insult religious beliefs.”

Niger has United States and French military contingents stationed on long term missions. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is operating a drone station inside the country.

The French and the U.S. are using Niger to carry out a counter-insurgency war against what these imperialist states describe as terrorist groups that have established bases in northern Mali. The military presence of Washington and Paris are in no way benefitting the masses of working people, farmers and youth inside Niger.

France Distorts Meaning of Freedom of Expression, Liberty

France, a longtime colonial and neo-colonial power in Africa, is upholding the right of publications to insult oppressed groups within the country amid ongoing policies of discrimination and oppression against people whose ancestry is rooted in Africa and the Middle East.

The domestic racism in France is a direct outgrowth of imperialist policies of slavery, colonialism and imperialism in operation since the 18th century. Due to the legacy of post-colonial French domination and exploitation of its former colonies, societal development has been stifled creating the conditions for the large-scale migration of African people.

At the same time, the overall economic conditions in France itself are by no means good. Unemployment has hovered over ten percent for many years and successive regimes have failed to bring down the high rates of joblessness and poverty.

Consequently, the character of immigration policy, the existence of racism, anti-Islamic bigotry, and the failure of integration or assimilation, cannot be overlooked when analyzing the current social crisis in France. This is coupled with the disastrous foreign policy of Paris which has provided material and political support to the rebels fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

The French government is well aware of the recruitment of its own citizens to serve in the rebel groups that it claims to oppose in both Iraq and Syria. In fact Hollande has said that his government has supplied Syrian rebels with arms to fight a secular government.

These policies in the Iraq and Syria are compounded by the French interventions in African states over the last few years in Gabon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Libya, Ivory Coast, Niger, Mali, Chad, Somalia, Djibouti and other states. Despite its proclaimed altruistic motivations in Africa, the result of this unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of these countries has caused further instability and economic stagnation.

Did a Russian Parliamentarian Just Commit Treason?

January 19th, 2015 by Eric Draitser

An interesting thing happened in Washington recently, and it had nothing to do with Beltway politics, Democrats vs. Republicans, or any of the other standard fare for the middle of the week in mid-January. Rather, a relatively small, little publicized event took place at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a prominent liberal-leaning think tank in Washington.


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The event, “Russia’s Opposition in a Time of War and Crisis,” featured prominent Russian liberal opposition parliamentarian (member of the Russian Duma) Ilya Ponomarev, a noted critic of Russian President Putin, providing a detailed presentation regarding the current political climate in Russia, and the potential for the ousting or overthrow of the Russian government. Yes, you heard that right. A Russian elected official came to the United States to give a talk about how best to effect regime change in his own country.

At this point, the question is not so much whether what Ponomarev did was improper. The much more pressing issue is whether or not, by making this presentation in Washington precisely at the moment of heightened tensions between the US and Russia, Ponomarev has committed treason. While this may seem a rather extreme characterization, it is in fact quite appropriate.

Image: Ilya Ponomarev prepared an entire PowerPoint detailing his contempt for Russia and his best advice for its ruination. The entire presentation can be viewed hereWhat Is Treason and Does It Apply?

If we define treason as “the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to kill or harm its sovereign,” then Ponomarev’s actions seem to tread very close to the threshold for treason. Moreover, the fact that such a presentation was delivered at CSIS – a think tank rife with “strategic planners” and proponents of the use of “soft power” to expand US hegemony – is instructive as it provides a window into both Ponomarev’s thinking and, perhaps more importantly, that of the political establishment in the US.

During his presentation, Ponomarev touched on a number of critical issues related to Russia’s domestic political situation, trying to illustrate for the attendees that the political reality in Russia, despite the simplicity of the western corporate media narrative, is rather complex. Though he described the Putin-led government as “Bonapartist,” he noted that “Putin is Russia’s only reliably working institution.” While the veracity of that statement is debatable, it does seem interesting that an elected Russian lawmaker would go to a foreign country under the auspices of wanting to help his country move forward, and then proceed to advocate the overthrow of the “only reliable institution.” Would this not be a thinly veiled attempt to advocate for destabilization, putsch, or something similar?

The most significant portion of Ponomarev’s presentation centered on a slide titled “Conditions for the Change of Power in Russia,” which laid out essentially a roadmap or blueprint for regime change in Russia. Ponomarev’s slide outlined what he believes to be the essential elements for successful overthrow of the democratically elected government. These include:

  1. Organized street protest (versus spontaneous one)
  2. Appealing vision of the future presented to the majority of Russians
  3. Leader, acceptable for all protesters and the elites
  4. Access to some financial resources
  5. Part of the elites should support the revolution
  6. Trigger event
Examining these points, it is clear that Ponomarev is not merely “informing” the assembled policymakers, journalists, and guests about what should happen, but rather is making a case for what must bemade to happen. This is no educational exercise, but a thoughtfully crafted appeal to the political establishment of the US to support Ponomarev and his faction both financially and politically.

Of course the prescription above is nothing new to keen political observers who have followed the development of the crisis in Ukraine, and who have knowledge of how “soft power” works, and the concept of the “color revolution.” What Ponomarev is describing has happened more than a few times before. What is particularly troubling this time is that a sitting parliamentarian, himself a beneficiary of the democratic electoral process, is openly advocating an anti-democratic, unconstitutional overthrow of his own government.

And Ponomarev is perfectly aware of this fact. Indeed, he included in the slide entitled “Conditions for the change of power in Russia” the following points:

  • Unlikely – elections
  • Likely – revolution (non-violent or violent)
  • Compromise with the current elites increases probability of non-violent changes, but decreases the probability of successful reforms in the future

Here, Ponomarev is openly acknowledging a number of critical points. First, that regime change is unlikely to come through elections. This is a blatant admission that not only is Putin democratically elected and wildly popular, but that the opposition will never have anything close to enough popular support to defeat him. In other words, Ponomarev is tacitly saying that Putin must be overthrown precisely because the Russian people support him, and will likely continue to do so. Imagine: a democratically elected politician from a country supposedly run by an “authoritarian dictator” comes to the US – allegedly the world’s great champion of democracy – to advocate an anti-democratic regime change scenario. The hypocrisy is beyond words.

Imagine: a democratically elected politician from a country supposedly run by an “authoritarian dictator” comes to the US – allegedly the world’s great champion of democracy – to advocate an anti-democratic regime change scenario. The hypocrisy is beyond words. 

Second, and this is crucial to the question of treason, is the fact that Ponomarev is advocating “non-violent or violent revolution” in collaboration with a foreign power. Here the propagandists and assorted mouthpieces for the Empire might argue that CSIS is a private institution that is not affiliated with the US Government. One would have to painfully naïve about the nature of power in the US and how it functions to believe such a line of argument.

CSIS, with its long association with individuals such as Zbigniew Brzezinski who come from the uppermost echelons of power, is one of a small number of hugely influential think tanks that directly impact US foreign policy. CSIS, along with the Rand Corporation, Council on Foreign Relations, and a handful of other groups, are a useful barometer for measuring the pulse of the US establishment, and for individuals such as Ponomarev to get close to the levers of US power.

Therefore, it could be argued that Ponomarev is openly collaborating with a foreign government – in this case through the nominal intermediary of CSIS – to bring about the overthrow of his own government. I would refer readers back to the above-referenced definition of treason.

Third, and perhaps most telling about Ponomarev, is the fact that he openly warns against any form of compromise with the government, or the elites with influence in the government. Such a preemptively hostile, and inherently adversarial, relationship with the government precludes any possibility for dialogue or even negotiation. Considering the fact that, at best, Ponomarev and the liberal opposition represent a relatively small proportion of the Russian people (primarily the western-oriented business, finance, and media community, and the young liberals they can mobilize on the streets), the net effect of what he is advocating is that a small, foreign-backed minority with deep pockets seize control of the government in a quite possibly violent putsch. Ukraine anyone? Treason anyone?

While such open treason might come as a shock to many outside Russia, those who follow the country closely are all too aware of the insidious role of the United States in fomenting unrest and bankrolling the liberal opposition. It is an open secret in Russia that many, if not most, of the opposition liberals are either directly or indirectly collaborating with the US against their own country.

Liberal Opposition or Agents of a Foreign Power?

It would be an extreme oversimplification, and not entirely honest, to characterize all Russian liberals as foreign agents. Some are simply socially liberal people who see in the West a political, economic, social and cultural template for their own society. Needless to say, such a view is a small minority in Russia where traditional values and social/cultural conservatism have been on the rise since the end of the Soviet Union, and especially since Putin came to power.

However, when one examines key figures and institutions of the liberal establishment in Russia – both in politics and civil society – it becomes clear that some of the most influential are in fact collaborating with foreign powers (especially the US) to undermine the Russian government.


Boris Nemtsov is not only one of the leading liberal opposition figures in Russia, he is also a notoriously corrupt and oligarch-friendly politician who, in recent years, has fashioned for himself the public persona of an anti-corruption, anti-oligarch crusader. Of course, he doesn’t care to mention his notorious, and politically and financially lucrative, relationship with disgraced Russian oligarch Khodorkovsky. Nor does he advertise his deep commitment to aiding the US further its own agenda, as evidenced by his appearance at the now infamous 2012 gathering at the US Embassy of liberal leaders with then newly appointed Ambassador, and self-described “expert” in regime change, Michael McFaul.

Similarly, Nemtsov’s ally Vladimir Ryzhkov, according to various accounts, “formed a Committee…in 2003 to ‘draw’ funds of the imprisoned Khodorkovsky along with soliciting funds from fugitive oligarchs such as Boris Berezovsky and western foundations such as the Soros Foundation. The stated aim of the effort was to rally ‘democratic’ forces against Putin.” The anti-corruption campaigner seemed to have little qualms with being financed by the most corrupt forces in the country.

Gary Kasparov, the outspoken opposition figure, former chess champion and darling of the US neocon establishment, has his own questions to answer. As F. William Engdahl has written:

In April 2007, Kasparov admitted he was a board member of the National Security Advisory Council of [the] Center for Security Policy, a “non-profit, non-partisan national security organization that specializes in identifying policies, actions, and resource needs that are vital to American security.” Inside Russia Kasparov is more infamous for his earlier financial ties to Leonid Nevzlin, former Yukos vice-president and partner of Michael Khodorokvsky. Nevzlin fled to Israel on being charged in Russia on charges of murder and hiring contract killers to eliminate “objectionable people” while Yukos vice-president.

Can one really doubt the true intentions of a Russian “activist” and “leader” who happily sits on the board of a US think tank that focuses on “American security” (coded language for US foreign policy objectives)? Rather than being interested in progress in Russia, Kasparov is motivated only by his desire to gain power and prestige.

Beyond just the individuals, a number of influential “civil society” organizations deeply tied to the US establishment figure prominently in the liberal opposition. These organizations (Strategy 31, the Moscow-Helsinki GroupLevada CenterGOLOS, and many others) are either directly or indirectly funded by the United States through its myriad soft power organs, the most infamous among them being the National Endowment for Democracy. That these organizations knowingly take money from the US Government, and then present themselves as objective, disinterested civil society organizations is the height of cynicism and hypocrisy. What does one call such an organization if not an “agent of a foreign power”? I would again refer readers to the above-cited definition of “treason.”

Whether or not Ponomarev’s presentation fits the legal definition of treason would be for lawyers and legal scholars to decide. What is clear however is that Ponomarev, and indeed the vast bulk of the Russian liberal establishment, is a de facto appendage of US soft power in Russia. They act not in the interests of the Russian people, but of themselves and their patrons in the West. As such, it is up to the people of Russia to address this sort of treacherous behavior in their elected (and unelected) officials. And it is up to those of us around the world – those who refuse to go along with western imperialism in its many forms – to expose these individuals and organizations wherever they rear their ugly heads.

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT and frequent contributor to “New Eastern Outlook.” 

We need a strong alliance between Europe with its technology and Russia with its resources.  This is our duty of historic proportions. - Jean-Marie Le Pen, Komsomolskaia Pravda, Jan 15, 2015.[1]

The conspiracy theorist functions as both magnet and vessel.  Conspiracy theorists, in the absence of appropriate evidence, substitute and improve upon. But the conspiracy theory is also a product of passion, anger and irrational temper.  Unwanted feelings, concerns, and suspicions, tend to be channelled through the workings of sinister forces, problematic alliances and seeming compromises.

Then come political figures who are impossible to wrap and summarise along plain conspiratorial lines.  They are unpleasantly problematic, precisely because they use the pragmatism of politics, with the intoxication of anxious polemics.  Occasionally, they can even be lucid, identifying themes of the troubling Zeitgeist.

The hard-hitting, seemingly inflated being of France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder and president-for-life of the Front National Party, is such a figure. He is not easy to categorise, and dismissive slurs about his reactionary behaviour simply won’t do.  He fears Islam in France, something he has deemed a virus in need of policing and eventual eradication.  He thinks, as he acted before, as a soldier, having himself done his bit for Francophile imperialism with stints in Algeria and Indochina.

He fears those, in fact, who would be anything other than French in that rigidly cut fashion he deems appropriate.  It seems antiquated, but the fact that he, and the party his daughter currently leads, is proving to be a serious electoral chance in France, suggests anything but.  He nurses the long held suspicion about other powers and forces he fears are undermining French sovereignty. He does not trust the American program, which he accuses of belligerence and global mischief making.

The recent, and rippling interview with Komsomolskaia Pravda, featured a colourful assortment of opinions.[2]  There is the usual anti-immigration sentiment, a slur against France’s millions of Muslims.  “They [Charlie Hebdo] can organise a show with a powerful media attack and the slogan ‘I am Charlie,’ temporarily mobilizing the nation but they are incapable of protecting the country from the influx of immigrants from the south.”

These immigrants refuse to work, though there is a sense that Le Pen would rather they did not.  They are, for Le Pen, secondary agents of conquest.  His preference, rather than for the “clowns” of Charlie Hebdo’s project, is to be the historically lionised, and Moor-stopping Charles Martel.  “Martel, this brilliant French warrior, stopped the Arab invasion at Poitiers in 732.”

Combing through the rough and ready patches of Le Pen’s reasoning, and a few strands of logic are detectable. He doesn’t like Muslims nor cares much for Islam, but he was against the French meddling in Libya that resulted in the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime.  “Getting involved in a war with Libya was true insanity.” Gaddafi’s forces, readying to attack the fundamentalist Salafists in Benghazi, were strafed by French planes.  The fall of the regime led to a proliferation of weapons through North Africa, an outcome he lays squarely at the feat of the previous President Nicola Sarkozy.

Then came the Ukrainian crisis, another excuse for meddling in a bid to expand NATO, and US, power up towards Russia’s borders.  “Our party’s position is as follows: the conflict between the Russians and the Ukrainians is a family feud. After all, Russia was born in Kiev.  Neither Europeans, nor Americans should get involved in this family drama.”

The acute sense that France, and the rest of Europe, is in an existential struggle with Washington is made clear.  There is a demographic problem – following a long historical trajectory, Russia’s population numbers are in decline with its eastern territories in a spot of bother, and Germany “is a gold-plated coffin stuffed with dead bodies.”

Dying nations, dying states, among the supposed roses of civilization, are losing out to the breeders and the movers, the immigrants of colour Le Pen hopes will disappear under the pressures of pandemics.  (“Monsieur Ebola,” he claimed in May 2014, “can solve the problem in three months.”[3])

Then there is the economic weapon, furnished via the incapacitating Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement.  If the EU signs it with the United States, “We will turn into America’s economic colony.”  His sharp solution?  “We need a united Europe – from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but this must be a Europe of sovereign nations”.

The statement about US imperial power nosing about in the European provinces is a bit out of date – for decades various European states have offered bases, soldiers and material for the US project, a form of “empire by invitation,” as the less critical scholars on the subject claim.  But Le Pen, and here, the lucidity breaks through, is right to fear the encroachments on sovereignty through such corporation-friendly instruments as the TTIPA.

The record of officialdom is also something to be doubted.  Trusting a dyed-in-the-wool official of the tie and suit establishment is akin to believing a paid-up astrologer versed in reading entrails.  Forget the fools in Brussels. Forget the new born moralists of the Hollande government who suddenly woke up to threats.

For that reason, Le Pen would rather not believe what exactly took place behind the Paris murders, though he stops short of the suggestions made by the site McLatchy and Thierry Meyssan that French and American operators were behind the attacks (The Independent, Jan 17).  At least the official version, in which he smells something rank. “The Charlie Hebdo shooting has the modus operandi of the special ops, but we have no proof.”  When in doubt, official versions prove dismissive of terrorists, seeing them as incompetent, and nitwits.  Sadly, the nitwit tendencies are not exclusive.

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

Notes

The current anti-Israeli feeling in Europe has led to manufacturers and retailers opting for non-Israeli products and produce as more importers decide not to buy goods from a state that treats the United Nations and human rights law with such contempt.

Up to now, the EU has been Israel’s primary, bilateral trading partner but the political climate has radically changed in recent months as Europe loses patience with the Netanyahu government and its all too obvious moves to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. The EU urgently wants a settlement to the Palestinian conflict but now sees that the current right-wing, Israeli administration of Binyamin Netanyahu is not, and never will be, a partner for peace.

If the EU Commission decides to abrogate the Association Agreement with Israel, as now looks possible, then the Israeli economy is likely to be very severely dented indeed whether Mr Netanyahu finds replacement orders in the Far East or not. But for the EU, a settlement to the conflict is the highest priority.

Martin Luther King: “I Have Been To The Mountain Top”

January 19th, 2015 by Danny Schechter

Mountaintops offer dynamic vistas and symbolize not only physical heights but inspiring points of prominence.

On the nightbefore he was murdered, Martin Luther King told a packed church in Memphis where he was crusading on behalf of the city’s garbage workers, that he had been to the mountain top.

 He was practically singing as he bellowed,

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”

To him, climbing that mountain also offered him a panoramic view of a world of pain and change. Earlier in that prophetic final oration, he spoke of the human condition in these terms.

“…the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

I have just returned from another mountaintop where the streets are packed with people traipsing through the cold and snow—looking for other stars—movie stars.

The Sundance Film Festival is on,based in the wealthy resort ofPark City, Utah, up on a snowy mountain not far from Salt Lake City attracting movie aficionados, show biz wannabes, groupies, and skiers.

Most are there to embraces (or worship) the commandingheights of our culture industry. There were plenty of contradictions on display as well.

The actor Robert Redford who created Sundance seems to have become less infatuated with the annual spectacle. The Hollywood Reporter profiled him, noting,

“Redford seems ambivalent about the festival’s success, however, hostile to the corporate and marketing forces overwhelmed his counter-cultural creation, while appreciative about everything it has achieved.”

 Journalists who cover show biz were even less excited, reported Sharon Waxman, editor or the Hollywood website The Wrap:

“If you weren’t at Sundance this year, it’s just as well. The lack of a breakout, buzzy film that had everyone talking tells us something about the challenged state of independent film. While the festival had glimmers of excitement, the movies were – in the aggregate – interesting but not inspiring, thought-provoking but not thrilling.

In short, not essential enough to grab a distracted public’s attention.”

While most of the consciousness there these days revolves around commerce and Hollywood type deal-making, some major hard hitting documentaries are shown, films we rarely see on TV.

Ironically, one that I saw, “Concerning Violence” was based on the text of 1960’s revolutionary and psychiatrist Franz Fanon who in his bestseller,The Wretched of The Earth wrote that the road to decolonization was inevitably and necessarily a violent one.

 A Swedish production, it is competing with less controversial fare like a tribute to the State’s native son, Mitt Romney. Sundance showed the Fanon inspired film on the eve of the national holiday celebrating America’s most loved apostle of non-violence.

 Just as the Festival opened, President Obama announced his NSA reforms. The local Salt Lake Tribune reported that they will not affect the opening, on another nearby mountaintop, known as “the point of the Mountain,” of a new vast, gargantuan NSA spy center.

 According to the paper,

“The Utah Data Center, a massive warehouse of computer servers at the Point of the Mountain, is largely a storage facility for the agency’s international intelligence gathering operations, expert say…”

That same weekend, amidst stores of a local snake collector complaining of being evicted because he kept 25 boa constrictors in his home, was a page one report that the Defense Department had given a big present to the Utah state police in the form of deadly weapons, an arsenal of bullets and even a tank-like vehicle used in Afghanistan.

So much for Dr. King: it looks like the Pentagon is now quietly preparing for insurrections in America.

Across the world, in Davos in the Swiss Alps, yet another mountaintop of distinction is being readied for afestive gab fest for the elite of the elite, the real 1%, at the annual World Economic Forum that I have covered in years past.

Explains Christopher Dickey in the Daily Beast,

Even the high and mighty assembling at the Swiss resort recognize, now, that grotesque inequality is the greatest threat to world peace.

Their answer: Party on!…tonight as the little resort town begins to welcome 2,500 participants, including more than 40 heads of state, the forum itself is better organized than ever—it’s the rest of the world that’s not. Nobody at Davos claims to be a master of the universe anymore. Hell, nobody would dare.”

Media Tenor, a research company that works for many major corporations issued a report on the finance industry that helps pay for the Davos Forum and is a key cog in the world economy.

“January 21, 2014. Davos, Switzerland – With the image of banks at an all-time low, the industry is currently viewed with the same levels of negativity as organized crime, terrorism, and dictatorship, according to new research from Media Tenor International. This level of negativity, unseen in Media Tenor’s 20 years of research across all industries, positions banks as posing a greater societal risk than nuclear power or tobacco, stepping up pressure on regulatory bodies and central banks.

The research, released this week at the World Economic Forum, highlights the critical risks banks face in maintaining their license to operate, while also underscoring the dangers society faces from an untrusted banking sector. The trust meltdown raises questions about how banks can possibly maintain their current client relationships and attract new business with their basic operations under attack by the media, while also suggesting a clear platform for politicians globally.”

Comments Martin Wolf, editor of the Financial Times that is practically the house organ of this annual display of affluenza, likens the situation today the eve World War 1, exactly a Century ago, when the world’s rich and its ruler stumbled towards the horrific conflagration in history.”

(Somehow when 2012 rolled around, all the buzz was about Mayan prophecies; today, no one seems to remember how, in l914, an assassination triggered a World War in Sarajevo, a city that was devastated a relatively few years ago, and all but forgotten now. Sarajevo was a city surrounded by mountaintops that were used by Bosnian fanatics as perches to kill innocent civilians from.”)

 So, while awesome in their beauty, mountaintops are not any longer a pathway to the promised land. Not today, not in the world of inequality in which we live.

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at NewsDissector.net and edits Mediachannel.org. His new book in MadibaAtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela. (Madibabook.com) Comments to [email protected].

Coretta Scott King: “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” – King Family Press Conference, Dec. 9, 1999.

From the King Center on the family’s civil trial that found the US government guilty in Martin’s assassination:

After four weeks of testimony and over 70 witnesses in a civil trial in Memphis, Tennessee, twelve jurors reached a unanimous verdict on December 8, 1999 after about an hour of deliberations that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. In a press statement held the following day in Atlanta, Mrs. Coretta Scott King welcomed the verdict, saying ,

“There is abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. And the civil court’s unanimous verdict has validated our belief. I wholeheartedly applaud the verdict of the jury and I feel that justice has been well served in their deliberations. This verdict is not only a great victory for my family, but also a great victory for America. It is a great victory for truth itself. It is important to know that this was a SWIFT verdict, delivered after about an hour of jury deliberation.

The jury was clearly convinced by the extensive evidence that was presented during the trial that, in addition to Mr. Jowers, the conspiracy of the Mafia, local, state and federal government agencies, were deeply involved in the assassination of my husband. The jury also affirmed overwhelming evidence that identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the shooter, and that Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame. I want to make it clear that my family has no interest in retribution. Instead, our sole concern has been that the full truth of the assassination has been revealed and adjudicated in a court of law… My husband once said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” To-day, almost 32 years after my husband and the father of my four children was assassinated, I feel that the jury’s verdict clearly affirms this principle. With this faith, we can begin the 21st century and the new millennium with a new spirit of hope and healing.”

TRANSCRIPTS

View Full Trial Transcript>

View Transcript of King Family Press Conference on the Verdict

KING FAMILY STATEMENT ON MEDIA REQUESTS REGARDING THE MEMPHIS VERDICT

The King family stands firmly behind the civil trial verdict reached by twelve jurors in the Memphis, Tennessee courtroom on December 8, 1999.

An excerpt from remarks made by Mr. Dexter Scott King, Chairman, President, and CEO of The King Center, during the December 9, 1999 press conference regarding the verdict that may be used in support of this family decision:

“We can say that because of the evidence and information obtained in Memphis we believe that this case is over. This is a period in the chapter. We constantly hear reports, which trouble me, that this verdict creates more questions than answers. That is totally false. Anyone who sat in on almost four weeks of testimony, with over seventy witnesses, credible witnesses I might add, from several judges to other very credible witnesses, would know that the truth is here.”

The question now is, “What will you do with that?” We as a family have done our part. We have carried this mantle for as long as we can carry it. We know what happened. It is on public record. The transcripts will be available; we will make them available on the Web at some point. Any serious researcher who wants to know what happened can find out.”

The King family feels that the jury’s verdict, the transcripts of the conspiracy trial, and the transcripts of the King family’s press conference following the trial — all of which can be found on The King Center’s website — include everything that that family members have to say about the assassination.

Therefore, the King family shares the conviction that there is nothing more to add to their comments on record and will respectfully decline all further requests for comment.

Related Downloads

Assassination Trial – Family Press Conference.pdf

Assassination Trial – Full Transcript.pdf

Excerpt from Verdict  [Global Research Editor, emphasis added, for further details see full transcript]

(Verdict form passed to the Court.)

THE COURT: I have authorized
this gentleman here to take one picture of
you which I’m going to have developed and
make copies and send to you as I promised.
Okay. All right, ladies and
gentlemen. Let me ask you, do all of you
agree with this verdict?
THE JURY: Yes (In unison).
THE COURT: In answer to the
question did Loyd Jowers participate in a
conspiracy to do harm to Dr. Martin Luther
King, your answer is yes. Do you also find
that others, including governmental agencies,
were parties to this conspiracy as alleged by
the defendant? Your answer to that one is
also yes. And the total amount of damages
you find for the plaintiffs entitled to is
one hundred dollars. Is that your verdict?
THE JURY: Yes (In unison).
THE COURT: All right. I want
to thank you ladies and gentlemen for your
participation. It lasted a lot longer than
we had originally predicted. In spite of
that, you hung in there and you took your
notes and you were alert all during the
trial. And we appreciate it. We want you to
note that our courts cannot function if we
don’t have jurors who accept their
responsibility such as you have.
I hope it has been a pleasant
experience for you and that when you go back
home you’ll tend tell your friends and
neighbors when they get that letter saying
they’ve been summoned for jury duty, don’t
try to think of up those little old lies,
just come on down and it is not so bad after
all.
I know how much you regret the fact
that you won’t be able to come back for the
next ten years. I don’t know, I may or may
not recognize you if I see you on the street
some day, but if you would see me and
recognize me, I sure would appreciate you
coming up and reminding me of your service
here.
To remind you of your service, we
have some certificates that we have prepared
for you. They look real good in a frame.
Not only will they remind you of your service
here, but they will remind you also of that
wonderful judge who presided over this. We
do thank you very much on behalf of everyone
who has participated in this trial.
You were directed not to discuss the
case when you were first sworn. Now that
your verdict has been reached, I’m going to
relieve you of that oath, meaning that you
may or may not discuss it. It is up to you.

No one can force you to. And if you discuss
it, it will only be because you decide that
you wanted to.
I guess that’s about all except that
I want to come around there and personally
shake your hand. You are what I would call
Trojans.
Having said that, as soon as I get
around there and get a chance to shake your
hands, you’ll be dismissed.
(Judge Swearengen left the bench
to shake the jurors hands.)
THE COURT: Those of you who
would like to retain your notes, you may do
so if you want to.
I guess that’s about it. So
consider yourselves dismissed and we thank
you again.
Ladies and gentlemen, Court is
adjourned.
(The proceedings were concluded
at 3:10 p.m. on December 8th, 1999.)

DANIEL, DILLINGER, DOMINSKI, RICHBERGER, WEATHERFORD
(901) 529-1999
2287
COURT REPORTERS’ CERTIFICATE
STATE OF TENNESSEE:
COUNTY OF SHELBY:
We, BRIAN F. DOMINSKI, MARGIE
DAUSTER, SARA ROGAN, KRISTEN PETERSON and
SHERYL WEATHERFORD, Reporters and Notaries
Public, Shelby County, Tennessee, CERTIFY:
1. The foregoing proceedings were
taken before us at the time and place stated
in the foregoing styled cause with the
appearances as noted;
2. Being Court Reporters, we then
reported the proceedings in Stenotype to the
best of our skill and ability, and the
foregoing pages contain a full, true and
correct transcript of our said Stenotype
notes then and there taken;
3. We am not in the employ of and
are not related to any of the parties or
their counsel, and we have no interest in the
matter involved.
WITNESS OUR SIGNATURES, this, the
____ day of ___________, 2000.
___________________________
BRIAN F. DOMINSKI
Certificate of Merit
Holder; Registered
Professional Reporter,
Notary Public for
the State of Tennessee at
Large ***
DANIEL, DILLINGER, DOMINSKI, RICHBERGER, WEATHERFORD
(901) 529-1999
2288
___________________________
MARGIE ROUTHEAUX
Registered
Professional Reporter,
Notary Public for
the State of Tennessee at
Large ***
___________________________
SARA ROGAN
Registered

 

Truth, War Propaganda, CIA and Media Manipulation

January 19th, 2015 by Global Research

Never before has it been so important to have independent, honest voices and sources of information. We are – as a society – inundated and overwhelmed with a flood of information from a wide array of sources, but these sources of information, by and large, serve the powerful interests and individuals that own them. The main sources of information, for both public and official consumption, include the mainstream media, alternative media, academia and think tanks.

The mainstream media is the most obvious in its inherent bias and manipulation. The mainstream media is owned directly by large multinational corporations, and through their boards of directors are connected with a plethora of other major global corporations and elite interests. An example of these connections can be seen through the board of Time Warner.

Time Warner owns Time Magazine, HBO, Warner Bros., and CNN, among many others. The board of directors includes individuals past or presently affiliated with: the Council on Foreign Relations, the IMF, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Warburg Pincus, Phillip Morris, and AMR Corporation, among many others.

Two of the most “esteemed” sources of news in the U.S. are the New York Times (referred to as “the paper of record”) and the Washington Post. The New York Times has on its board people who are past or presently affiliated with: Schering-Plough International (pharmaceuticals), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chevron Corporation, Wesco Financial Corporation, Kohlberg & Company, The Charles Schwab Corporation, eBay Inc., Xerox, IBM, Ford Motor Company, Eli Lilly & Company, among others. Hardly a bastion of impartiality.

And the same could be said for the Washington Post, which has on its board: Lee Bollinger, the President of Columbia University and former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and individuals associated with (past or presently): the Coca-Cola Company, New York University, Conservation International, the Council on Foreign Relations, Xerox, Catalyst, Johnson & Johnson, Target Corporation, RAND Corporation, General Motors, and the Business Council, among others.

It is also important to address how the mainstream media is intertwined, often covertly and secretly, with the government. Carl Bernstein, one of the two Washington Post reporters who covered the Watergate scandal, revealed that there were over 400 American journalists who had “secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency.” Interestingly, “the use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence-gathering employed by the CIA.” Among organizations which cooperated with the CIA were the “American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald-Tribune.”

By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc. The CIA even ran a training program “to teach its agents to be journalists,” who were “then placed in major news organizations with help from management.”

These types of relationships have continued in the decades since, although perhaps more covertly and quietly than before. For example, it was revealed in 2000 that during the NATO bombing of Kosovo, “several officers from the US Army’s 4th Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) Group at Ft. Bragg worked in the news division at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters.” This same Army Psyop outfit had “planted stories in the U.S. media supporting the Reagan Administration’s Central America policies,” which was described by the Miami Herald as a “vast psychological warfare operation of the kind the military conducts to influence a population in enemy territory.” These Army PSYOP officers also worked at National Public Radio (NPR) at the same time. The US military has, in fact, had a strong relationship with CNN.

In 2008, it was reported that the Pentagon ran a major propaganda campaign by using retired Generals and former Pentagon officials to present a good picture of the administration’s war-time policies. The program started in the lead-up to the Iraq War in 2003 and continued into 2009. These officials, presented as “military analysts”, regurgitate government talking points and often sit on the boards of military contractors, thus having a vested interest in the subjects they are brought on to “analyze.”

In 2013, Public Accountability reported:

During the public debate around the question of whether to attack Syria, Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to George W. Bush, made a series of high-profile media appearances. Hadley argued strenuously for military intervention in appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV, and authored a Washington Post op-ed headlined “To stop Iran, Obama must enforce red lines with Assad.”

In each case, Hadley’s audience was not informed that he serves as a director of Raytheon, the weapons manufacturer that makes the Tomahawk cruise missiles that were widely cited as a weapon of choice in a potential strike against Syria. Hadley earns $128,500 in annual cash compensation from the company and chairs its public affairs committee. He also owns 11,477 shares of Raytheon stock, which traded at all-time highs during the Syria debate ($77.65 on August 23, making Hadley’s share’s worth $891,189). Despite this financial stake, Hadley was presented to his audience as an experienced, independent national security expert.

The major philanthropic foundations in the United States have often used their enormous wealth to co-opt voices of dissent and movements of resistance into channels that are safe for the powers that be. As McGeorge Bundy, former President of the Ford Foundation once said, “Everything the Foundation does is to make the world safe for Capitalism.”

Examples of this include philanthropies like the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation providing immense financial and organizational support to Non-Governmental Organizations. Furthermore, the alternative media are often funded by these same foundations, which has the effect of influencing the direction of coverage as well as the stifling of critical analysis.

This now brings us to the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and Global Research.

As an institution which acts as a research centre as well as a source of alternative news through the website www.globalresearch.ca, the CRG has become a much needed voice of independence seeking to break through all the propaganda and misinformation.

To maintain our independence, Global Research does not accept assistance from public and private foundations. Nor do we seek support from universities and/or government.

While the objective is to expand and help spread important and much-needed information to more people than ever before, Global Research needs to rely upon its readers to support the organization.
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A COLLEAGUE of mine in Cairo told me a story a few years ago about a massacre in the streets of Paris. He was a news service reporter at the time of the violence in the French capital – Oct. 17, 1961 – and saw tens of bodies of dead Algerians piled like cordwood in the center of the city in the wake of what would now be called a police riot.

But his superiors at the news agency stopped him from telling the full story then, and most of the world paid little attention to the thin news coverage that the massacre did receive. Even now, the events of that time are not widely known and many people, like myself, had never heard of them at all.

This year is an apt time to recall what happened, and not only because this is the 35th anniversary year of Algerian independence. The continuing civil war in Algeria and the growing violence and racism in France, as well as the appalling slaughters taking place elsewhere in the world, give it a disturbing currency.

Here’s what happened:

 

Unarmed Algerian Muslims demonstrating in central Paris against a discriminatory curfew were beaten, shot, garotted and even drowned by police and special troops. Thousands were rounded up and taken to detention centers around the city and the prefecture of police, where there were more beatings and killings.

How many died? No one seems to know for sure, even now. Probably around 200.

It seems astonishing today, from this perspective, that such a thing could happen in the middle of a major Western capital closely covered by the international media. This was not Kabul, Beijing, Hebron or some Bosnian backwater, after all, but the City of Light – Paris.

But the Fifth Republic under President Charles de Gaulle was in trouble in October 1961. De Gaulle, who was primarily interested in establishing France’s pre-eminent position in Western Europe and the world, found himself presiding over domestic chaos. France was constantly disrupted by strikes and protests by farmers and workers, as well as by terrorism from opposing organizations: the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), representing the Algerian nationalist independence movement, and the Organisation Armée Secrète (OAS), a group of disaffected soldiers, politicians and others committed to keeping Algeria French. The OAS rightly perceived that de Gaulle was bound to free France from the burden of its last major colonial holding, so he could get on with the business of making France the economic and political power of his lofty ambition.

Eyewitness reports recounted stranglings by police.

But the vicious war in Algeria, marked by bloody atrocities committed on all sides, had been grinding on for nearly seven years. Terrorist attacks in Paris and other French cities had claimed dozens of lives of police, provoking what Interior Minister Roger Frey called la juste colère – the just anger – of the police. They vented that anger on the evening of Oct. 17. About 30,000 Muslims – from among some 200,000 Algerians, ostensibly French citizens, living in and around Paris – descended upon the boulevards of central Paris from three different directions. The demonstration of men, women and children was called by the FLN to protest an 8:30 p.m. curfew imposed only on Muslims.

The demonstrators were met by about 7,000 police and members of special Republican Security companies, armed with heavy truncheons or guns. They let loose on the demonstrators in, among other places, Saint Germain-des-Prés, the Opéra, the Place de la Concorde, the Champs Elysée, around the Place de l’Étoile and, on the edges of the city, at the Rond Point de la Defense beyond Neuilly.

 

My news agency friend counted at least 30 corpses of demonstrators in several piles outside his office near the city center, into which he had pulled some Algerians to get them away from rampaging police. Another correspondent reported seeing police backing unarmed Algerians into corners on sidestreets and clubbing them at will. Later eyewitness reports recounted stranglings by police and the drowning of Algerians in the Seine, from which bodies would be recovered downstream for weeks to come.

Maurice Papon, the Prefect of the Paris police, was the only Vichy France official to be convicted for his role in the deportation of Jews during WW II. But Papon was never prosecuted for the deaths of Algerians caused by police under his orders in 1961. These were not the last deaths caused by police under Papon’s responsibility. Four months later, in February 1962, Papon went too far even for the French President Charles De Gaulle, when French police killed nine white people at a Communist-led demonstration against the war in Algeria. 700,000 people marched at the funeral of the five protesters while a general strike shut down Paris. | AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of Algerians were rounded up and brought to detention centers, where the violence against them continued. “Drowning by Bullets,” a British TV documentary aired about four years ago, alleges that scores of Algerians were murdered in full view of police brass in the courtyard of the central police headquarters. The prefect of police was Maurice Papon, who recently was still denying charges that he was responsible for deporting French Jews to Auschwitz during World War II while he was part of the Vichy government.

The official version

The full horror of this inglorious 1961 episode in French history was largely covered up at the time. Though harrowing personal accounts did eventually percolate to the surface in the French press, the newspapers – enfeebled by years of government censorship and control – for the most part stuck with official figures that only two and, later, five people had died in the demonstration. Government-owned French TV showed Algerians being shipped out of France after the demonstration, but showed none of the police violence.

Journalists had been warned away from coverage of the demonstration and were not allowed near the detention centers.

With few exceptions, the British and American press stuck to the official story, including suggestions that the Algerians had opened fire first. Even the newsman who saw the piles of Algerian corpses was not allowed to report the story; his bosses ordered that the bureau reports stick to the official figures.

Both French and foreign journalists in Paris seemed tacitly to agree that nothing should be done to further destabilize the French government or endanger de Gaulle, who was widely seen as the last, best hope for navigating France out of its troubles.

The story quickly died, drowned out by fresher alarums and excursions in Europe and elsewhere.

And, of course, in the next year, Algeria would have its independence.

Jacques Vergès, the controversial French lawyer who represented the FLN during the war in Algeria, told me in an interview last summer that the police violence and government and press cover-up in 1961 were not surprising. The political circumstances were right for it, and the news media usually do what they’re told. Just look at how easy it was to round up and intern American citizens of Japanese descent after Pearl Harbor, he observed. If he’s right, then the problem for politicians is to make sure that the conditions for injustice and atrocity do not conjoin, that there is no probability created for massacres like the one in Paris in October 1961. And if the politicians fail, then the problem for journalists and others is how to resist becoming their accomplices.

From Washington Report, March 1997, pg. 36

© Washington Report, 1997

An attorney and international advocacy officer for Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) says that 2014 was “devastating” for Palestinian children.

Whether they were killed, injured or left homeless and traumatized in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s summer attack, or whether they faced “increasing levels of violence [by Israeli forces] … at demonstrations [or] as part of military operations throughout the West Bank” including occupied East Jerusalem — especially during frequent arrest raids — Palestinian children were regular targets of Israel’s systematic violence throughout 2014, says Brad Parker of DCI-Palestine.

Parker told The Electronic Intifada in a recent interview that Palestinian children face routine physical abuse, violence and torture during arrest raids and detention. “In about twenty percent of cases, kids are brought and held in solitary confinement solely for interrogation purposes,” a practice that has been condemned by international law, which equates it to torture, Parker explained.

Youths arrested in Beit Ommar

Palestinian news sources reported this week that twenty Palestinians, including at least six teenagers, were arrested by Israeli forces overnight on Thursday in the southern occupied West Bank village of Beit Ommar, a day after 18 Palestinians were arrested and detained there.

Mohammed Awad of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ommar described the raids “as the largest military invasion” into the village by Israeli forces since 2004, Samidoun, the Palestinian prisoner solidarity network, reported.

At the same time, Israeli forces carried out arrest raids in East Jerusalem, taking at least eight Palestinian youths, according to Ma’an News Agency and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. At least four young men were arrested in Jenin and Nablus in the northern West Bank as well on Thursday.

Othman, 15, was put on house arrest for eleven months in 2014. Israeli interrogators were physically violent toward Othman, and threatened to rape him, his father told DCI-Palestine. (DCI-Palestine)

In a report filed on the last day of 2014, DCI-Palestine says that “2014 brought no respite for Palestinian children, whether entangled in the Israeli military detention system, living in residential areas in the Gaza Strip, or simply on their way to school.”

DCI-Palestine has recently launched a campaign entitled “No More Forgotten Lives” which aims to pursue accountability for Israel’s killing, arrest, detention and torture of Palestinian children.

The organization says that in 2014, “the average number of children held in Israeli military detention stood at 197 per month.”

On Friday, The Electronic Intifada spoke with Parker about the ongoing arrests and detentions of Palestinian children. Listen to the interview via the media player above, or read the transcript below.

Transcript of interview with Brad Parker

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Can you talk about the arrest campaigns this week in occupied East Jerusalem and Beit Ommar? What do these raids typically look like, and where are the children taken to?

Brad Parker: So, typically Palestinian children are arrested in night raids like this by Israeli forces — forces come in the middle of the night, anywhere from 12am to 5am, have a strong military presence, heavily-armed soldiers, they bang on a child’s door, soldiers storm the home, check IDs, usually if a child’s name is on the intelligence officer’s list, the child will be taken out of the house, typically handcuffed, blindfolded, and their hands tied with a plastic cord, ushered out into a military jeep. Sometimes the kids face physical violence during that transfer process when they’re in the back of the jeep. They’ll be transferred around the West Bank, maybe detained at a military camp, spend the rest of the night into the morning really just waiting for whatever comes next. They don’t really have a sense of what comes next.

In the morning, they’re typically brought to a police station inside a settlement, where they appear in interrogation rooms. Their parents haven’t been notified where they’ve been taken, and if they don’t have access to counsel, that interrogation is typically meant to coerce a confession — to have some type of evidence against the child that then could be used later on in the military courts.

Once an interrogation finishes — if there’s a confession — and if there’s not a confession, kids typically are transferred inside Israel to Meggido prison in the north, and sometimes they can be held at Ofer prison just outside of Ramallah. So, typically, that’s where kids go. The families don’t know where they’ve been taken. Nobody really hears from them until they appear in a military court, which could be anywhere from twenty-four to forty-eight hours later — that’s the first time they typically see their families, they first see an attorney. Because of that, they sometimes have confessions against them before they’ve even spoken with an attorney.

The typical situation is really not meant to find justice or seek justice — it’s really about control and using the military court system and arrests to target youth, to create that control, to keep kids from participating in weekly protests, from participating in anything that can be somewhat political. And that’s the general case that we see based on our evidence gathering throughout the West Bank.

NBF: Based on that evidence gathering, can you tell us what typically happens to children in Israeli detention, and if the historic Israeli policies of torture, interrogation and psychological trauma are still in effect, or if anything’s changed over the past year?

BP: Children still face ill-treatment and torture — it’s widespread, systematic throughout the Israeli military detention system. Nothing really has changed over the past not only one year but the past decade. It’s really become more and more a part of what Palestinian children who are arrested by the Israeli army encounter when they’re in detention, within custody with Israeli forces.

NBF: And what kind of torture and interrogation does DCI-Palestine typically see happening to these kids?

BP: So, in about 75 percent of these cases, Palestinian kids arrested by the Israeli army face some type of physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation. It could be anything from being slapped in their face, being hit with a rifle, being hit with a helmet, kicked, punched, beaten in the back of a jeep.

In interrogation, physical violence is a little bit less common over the past few years, but you still see kids being slapped, punched, shoved against walls during interrogation. In about 20 percent of cases, kids are brought and held in solitary confinement solely for interrogation purposes — this is a practice that’s condemned by the international community, international law. International law equates it to torture, considers it a form of torture when solitary confinement is used against juveniles.

So these are the typical scenarios and issues that kids face.

“Devastating”

NBF: Let’s talk about 2014 in this context — of course, in Gaza during the attack over the summer, more than 500 children were killed, and hundreds of thousands remain in serious need of psychological treatment from multi-layered and repeated trauma. And in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, arrest raids like the ones we’ve seen this week, along with incessant home demolitions, arrest and detention of parents and family members, and daily dehumanization of children continued unabated.

Can you assess 2014 in terms of what needs to be done to protect the rights of Palestinian children, and what your No More Forgotten Lives campaign aims to accomplish?

BP: 2014 was devastating for Palestinian kids in Gaza, kids were being killed at a higher rate than at any time before, their homes, schools, families were destroyed. For six and seven-year-old kids, this was the third or fourth major military offensive that they’ve lived through.

In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, we saw increasing levels of violence against Palestinian kids at demonstrations, as part of military operations throughout the West Bank, associated with arrests and search-and-rescue operations, et cetera. It was pretty devastating on all fronts. We saw increased deaths because of live fire used at protests and demonstrations — the May 15th Nakba Day protests outside of Ramallah resulted in two children, two Palestinian teenagers being killed with live ammunition.

It was caught on security camera footage that we were ultimately able to release and publicize, and then this campaign, No More Forgotten Lives really attempts to take the evidence that we’ve collected around those two deaths, tie it together with the complete lack of accountability and impunity for these violations, to highlight the number of kids that have been killed in 2014, and really that nothing has been done to hold anybody accountable.

The May 15th killing of Nadim Nuwara was highly publicized because of the video we released, and ultimately a soldier was arrested and implicated in his murder, but what we’ve seen is that instead of being charged with homicide, murder, some higher-level offense, he’s currently charged with manslaughter. He was held in custody, but now he’s been released on house arrest.

So even when there is something that resembles some type of accountability, it’s still extremely weak and doesn’t conform with international law standards. So the No More Forgotten Lives campaign really seeks to highlight this impunity and lack of accountability and show that Palestinian kids are being targeted, are being killed — and we need to speak out and demand justice. Because the Israeli authorities are not interested in accountability for serious violations of childrens’ rights.

NBF: How can people learn more about the campaign, and what’s one important thing, or ten important things, that international civil society can do today to help?

BP: To learn more about the campaign, you can go to NoMoreForgottenLives.com, or to our website, dci-palestine.org. Each website will have more information on the campaign, more information about us as an organization and the things that we document.

Really, coordinating efforts and demanding justice and speaking about Palestinian rights and Palestinian childrens’ rights through a human rights lens rather than through a political lens — it is the most important thing the international community can do.

So often, people defer to the politics and forget the human aspect of what the occupation is, what the impact the occupation has on families, on children. And that’s really the thing that we try to highlight as an organization.

In a recent broadcast of “Tagesthemen”, the main newscast of Germany’s ARD public television channel, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk grotesquely distorted the history of World War II, accusing the Soviet Union of having invaded Germany and Ukraine.

Remarkably, this brazen and thoroughly calculated falsehood, designed to promote the myth of a joint German-Ukrainian struggle against a Soviet-Russian aggressor, went unchallenged by the presenter. It has not been denounced by the broadcaster in retrospect.

The interview, conducted with Yatsenyuk during his visit to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on January 7, consisted largely of anti-Russian ranting. Presenter Pinar Atalay’s innocuous and unfocused questions remained unanswered, and only amounted to brief interruptions to Yatsenyuk’s castigation of Putin, Russia and the Soviet Union.

Yatsenyuk said,

“Russian aggression in Ukraine is an attack on world order and order in Europe. All of us still clearly remember the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. That has to be avoided. And nobody has the right to rewrite the results of the Second World War. And that is exactly what Russia’s President Putin is trying to do.”

Atalay made no comment on this scandalous historical lie, i.e. that the Soviet Union—not Nazi Germany—had invaded Ukraine. The television station responded to a complaint about the programme from the Public Committee for Public Service Media, remarking that the quality of the simultaneous Russian-German translation was too poor for the presenter to question the statement during the ongoing interview. In fact, however, the “Tagesthemen” news item was a recording of the interview, and there was no critical response to Yatsenyuk’s lie from the programme’s director or ARD.

Five days after the interview, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper attacked not Yatsenyuk and ARD, but the Russian foreign ministry, which vehemently rejected the Ukrainian prime minister’s account, citing the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trials.

“As to the Second World War,” wrote Russia correspondent Kerstin Holm in the newspaper,

“the thinking of the Russians is set in concrete … But disabused countrymen remember that Russia, in the wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, was an aggressor in World War II and was responsible for the Katyn massacre”.

Holm also claims that “Liberation could at best be said to apply to the expulsion of the Nazis, but not to the Sovietisation of reconquered areas”.

The German government did not distance itself from Yatsenyuk’s remarks or comment on his statements. Foreign office spokesman Martin Schäfer said:

“Like anyone here in Germany—politicians, citizens or sports celebrities—the Ukrainian prime minister has the right to tell the German media whatever he deems appropriate. That is part and parcel of our extremely important right to freedom of expression”.

Thus, the results of the Nuremberg Trials and the denial of German guilt in the Second World War are declared to be matters of opinion. In fact, the German Wehrmacht (army) and Waffen-SS waged a war of extermination in Ukraine, whose barbarism still stands out among the countless atrocities and crimes of the Nazi dictatorship and the world war that it wanted and started.

On June 22, 1941, German Wehrmacht troops stormed across the borders of the USSR without any declaration of war, aiming to engulf the enemy in a Blitzkrieg and push them far back into the interior of the country. While the northern and central sectors of the army had orders to capture Leningrad and Moscow, the southern army sector marched on Kiev. It was supported in this by two battalions of Ukrainian nationalists, code-named “Nachtigall” and “Roland”, marching in German uniforms and under German army command.

These Ukrainian battalions were recruited from the rabid anti-Semitic and anti-Communist Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) under the leadership of Stepan Bandera. After the invasion and with the approval of the German occupiers, they took over management of police stations and launched pogroms. In late June 1941, the German occupiers incited the first major pogrom, in the Galician city of Lviv, which was carried out with the active support of the OUN. The public hunting down of Jews claimed at least 4,000 lives.

Many massacres and pogroms followed. The largest single extermination took place shortly after the sacking of Kiev on September 29-30, 1941 in the ravine of Babi Yar. Approximately 33,000 Kiev Jews were killed, including elderly people, women and children who had not been able to flee from the advancing army. The massacre was one of the crimes prosecuted at the Nuremberg Trials. Approximately 850,000 Jews were murdered in the German war of extermination in Ukraine.

Judaism and Bolshevism were synonymous in the propaganda of the Nazis and the OUN. The murder of Jews was seen and propagandised as equivalent to the anti-Soviet struggle. The brutal terror waged against the Jews and the determination to destroy particularly the Jewish people in occupied Ukraine flowed from the German Reich’s resolve to annihilate the Soviet Union and the impact of the world’s first socialist revolution.

The Wehrmacht’s conquest of Ukraine not only entailed a deep incursion into Soviet territory. It also cut off the rest of the USSR from Ukraine’s fertile agricultural land and large coal reserves. While the USSR was weakened by hunger, Nazi Germany exploited Ukraine’s resources, deporting over a million Ukrainians to work in German industry and agriculture as slave labour.

The German occupiers were therefore unwilling to tolerate any notion of an independent Ukraine. When the OUN proclaimed Ukraine’s independence in Lviv on June 30, 1941, Bandera was taken into “protective custody” in then Sachsenhausen concentration camp. This was not the end of collaboration between the German occupiers and Ukrainian fascists, however.

OUN supporters remained active in administration and as an auxiliary police force in the organisation of the Holocaust in Ukraine. Tens of thousands of them served as volunteers in SS divisions, directly aiding the Nazis in combat against the Red Army.

The current Ukrainian leadership, which was backed by Germany in the coup d’état that brought it to power last spring, stands unashamedly in this bloody tradition of Ukrainian nationalists and fascists. They extol Stepan Bandera as a national hero and rely on an alliance with Germany against Russia as the basis of their political power.

Members of Yatsenyuk’s government maintain close relations with fascist elements and place them in key positions.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov appointed the fascist, Vadim Trojan, chief of police for the Kiev region in November 2014. Trojan was commander of the extreme right-wing Azov volunteer battalion, some of whose members wear helmets with swastikas and SS runes in the fighting against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Another commander of the Azov battalion, Andrij Bilezki, told the British Telegraph newspaper: “The historical mission of our nation in these crucial times is to lead the white races of the world in the final crusade for their survival”.

The installation of such violently reactionary forces in power in Kiev and the support given to them by the imperialist powers of NATO requires the rewriting and falsification of history. This is the significance of Yatsenyuk’s statements to ARD, and the silence of authorities in Germany on them.

Martin Luther King Also “Had a Nightmare”

January 19th, 2015 by Milicent Cranor

This article was first published by WhoWhat Why

The life of Martin Luther King, Jr. was short.  He was born in 1929 into a racist, hate-filled society with entrenched bigotry enforced by uncivilized laws.  But, like Mohandas Gandhi, who took back his country from the British, MLK forced change on the United States through his inspired use of nonviolent resistance.

King had guts. Think of the courage it took for him, and for those who were with him, to work the front lines. As he explained in 1957 in the journal Christian Century:

This is not a method for cowards; it does resist. The nonviolent resister is just as strongly opposed to the evil against which he protests as is the person who uses violence…

Nonviolent resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that noncooperation and boycotts are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness…

This method is that the attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who are caught in those forces…

Nonviolent resistance avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love.

Six years later, on August 28, 1963, he gave one of the greatest, most electrifying speeches ever delivered in America. This is how his rousing oration ended:

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

What he wanted seems so simple, so natural, and so heartbreakingly normal.

One year later, on December 10, 1964, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. At the age of 35, he was the youngest man ever to have received it. Can you think of anyone who deserved the Nobel Peace Prize more than he did?

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

Below we present a brief history, told in eloquent images, of what gave rise to Martin Luther King’s crusade and kindled his dream of a better life for everyone.

1

Freedmen Voting in New Orleans, 1867  Picture not credited.

2

White Citizens League Barring Black Voters  From Harper’s Weekly, October 31, 1874

3

The Two Platforms. The Republican Party was the party of Abraham Lincoln.

4

“Of Course He Wants to Vote the Democratic Ticket,” Harper’s Weekly, 1876

5

Jim Crow Literacy Law

“Eddikashun qualifukashun. The Black man orter be eddikated afore he kin vote with US Wites, signed Mr. Solid South.” Harper’s Weekly, January 18, 1879

6

Illustration by Merton Witten, 1937

7

Linocut by Elizabeth Catlett, 1946

8

Vote Against Supporters of Lynching Industry, 1922

9

Anti-Lynching Flyer circulated around 1922.

10

No Dogs, Negros, Mexicans. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born the same year.

11

Public Swimming Pool, White Only, 1931

12

Martin Luther King, Jr., at age 7 in 1936, the year Jesse Owens won Olympic gold.

13

Jesse Owens, Olympic Gold Medalist, 1936

14

Separate and unequal, even the water fountains.

15

“We Cater to White Trade Only,” 1938, Lancaster, Ohio  (NOTE:  Lancaster, Ohio, is in the North.)

16

Rest Rooms, White Only

17

“Rex Billiard Hall for Colored,” Memphis, Tennessee, 1939

18

Rex Theatre for Colored People

19

Colored Only Entrance to a Movie Theater, Belzoni, Mississippi, 1939

20

Memphis, Tennessee, 1939

21

Colored Waiting Room, Durham, North Carolina, 1940

22

Section for “Colored Passengers” From America’s Black Holocaust Museum

23

We Wash for White People Only

24

Help Wanted. White Only.

25

“We Want White Tenants Only in Our White Community.”  Detroit, 1940

26

Message from the Ku Klux Klan

27

Segregation in 1950

28

The resistance to integration continues.

29

The power of ugliness.

30

A police dog attacks a demonstrator in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.

31

“I am a man.”

Kill her! Kill her!

On September 4, 1957, Elizabeth Eckford, age 15, and eight other African American students—known as the Little Rock Nine—tried to enter a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Elizabeth was supposed to join the others so they could go to school together, but she didn’t get the message. So she went on alone. This is what happened.

32

Elizabeth approaches the guards.

33

“When I arrived the school, I went up to a guard. But the National Guard didn’t allow me to enter the school. I didn’t know what to do. I walked until I was right in front of the path to the front door.”

34

.

35

“The crowd was quiet. They were waiting to see what was going to happen. When I tried to enter, they raised their bayonets. They glared at me and I was very frightened. I turned around but the crowd came to me. They moved closer and closer. They started to revile, and blame me. They were shouting, ‘Kill her! Kill her!’”

36

“I tried to see a friendly face, someone who maybe would help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she frowned to me. I turned back to the guards but their faces told me I wouldn’t get any help from them. It was hell…”

37

.

38

“Then I looked down the block and saw a bench at the bus stop. I don’t know why the bench seemed a safe place to me, but I started walking toward it. I tried to close my mind to what they were shouting and kept saying to myself ‘If I get there, I can be safe’…”

39

The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, 1956

“. . . to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from difficulties, embarrassments, and to make his trips more enjoyable.”Esso, one of the few gas companies that would sell franchises to black entrepreneurs during that period, was a sponsor of the Negro Green Book and gave away copies at some of its stations. Esso’s Special Representative Wendell Alston wrote in an introduction to the 1949 edition, “The Negro travelers’ inconveniences are many and they are increasing because today so many more are traveling individually and in groups. The GREEN BOOK with its list of hotels, boarding houses, restaurants, beauty shops, barber shops and various other services can most certainly help solve your travel problems.”

40

Woolworth Sit-In, 1960

41

New Orleans, 1963  Photo by John Kouns

42

“Go Home Niggers”  Response to School Integration, Birmingham, Alabama, 1963.

Photo by John Kouns.

43

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963. Here, King gave his “I have a Dream” speech.  Photo by Paul Schutzer.

44

Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights, 1965  Photo by James Karales

45

White Protesters View the Selma March, 1965. Photo by John Kouns

46

KKK Sign on Highway to Selma, Alabama, 1965. Photo by John Kouns. Is the Klan still welcome in 2015?

47

Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow” (2010)

Germany Repatriated 120 Tonnes Of Gold In 2014

January 19th, 2015 by Koos Jansen

The central bank of Germany, BuBa, has just released the numbers of their gold repatriation activities in 2014. More than expected the Germans shipped home 85 tonnes of gold from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY),previously BuBa hinted at withdrawing 30 to 50 tonnes from New York in 2014, from France 35 tonnes were returned. Below we can see an overview from BuBa of all repatriation activities since 2013:

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 11.15.20 AM

                                                                                                     Source: Bundesbank
Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 11.15.29 AM

There has been a lot of fuzz about the German gold repatriation schedule, which in 2013 was set to return 674 tonnes before 2020, when only 37 tonnes reached German soil in the first year. Many eyebrows were lifted in the gold space; is there any gold left in New York? Why is it taking seven years to repatriate a few hundred tonnes? Especially the fact only 5 tonnes were returned from the FRBNY in 2013 was suspicious. In my opinion it’s very strange only 5 tonnes returned in the first year, but as far as my intelligence goes this was wasn’t unilaterally obstruction by the Fed.

More speculation went round when in November The Netherlands announced they had secretly repatriated 122.5 tonnes from New York. The FRBNY publishes on a monthly basis how much gold they hold in total as foreign deposits. When we learned The Netherlands had repatriated 122.5 tonnes somewhere in between January and November 2014, some suspected most of what was drained from the FRBNY, as published by year to date FRBNY data, was brought to The Netherlands and Germany wouldn’t meet its schedule for 2014. But because the FRBNY data lags a few months analyst could only speculate as they didn’t have the total numbers of 2014.

At this moment we have FRBNY data up to November.

FRBNY foreign gold deposits November 2014

FRBNY Nov 2014

January till November 2014 the FRBNY was drained for 166 tonnes, if we subtract 123 tonnes The Netherlands got out that leaves 43 tonnes for Germany. The fact Germany claims to have repatriated 85 tonnes from New York in 2014 means they must have pulled 42 tonnes from the Manhattan vaults in December. By the end of this month (January 2015) the FRBNY will release the foreign deposit data of December and we’ll see if the numbers match. If not, there obviously is “a problem”. Otherwise, everything is going to plan and we are only left to think about what reasons BuBa has to take seven years to repatriate 674 tonnes. Perhaps this time is needed for out great leaders to shape a new international monetary system. Who knows? It can’t be because of logistical reasons as hundreds of tonnes of gold are shipped around the world every year – for example, Switzerland exported 2,777 tonnes of gold in 2013.

Koos Jansen E-mail Koos Jansen on: [email protected]

In less than two years, if current trends continued unchecked, the richest 1% percent of people on the planet will own at least half of the world’s wealth.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from Oxfam International, released Monday, which states that the rate of global inequality is not only morally obscene, but an existential threat to the economies of the world and the very survival of the planet. Alongside climate change, Oxfam says that spiraling disparity between the super-rich and everyone else, is brewing disaster for humanity as a whole.

“Do we really want to live in a world where the one percent own more than the rest of us combined?” asked Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International. “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.”

According to the report—titled Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More (pdf):

Global wealth is becoming increasing concentrated among a small wealthy elite. Data from Credit Suisse shows that since 2010, the richest 1% of adults in the world have been increasing their share of total global wealth . Figure 1 shows that 2010 marks an inflection point in the share of global wealth going to this group. Figure 1 : Share of global wealth of the top 1% and bottom 99% respectively ; Credit Suisse data available 2000 – 2014. In 2014 , the richest 1% of people in the world own ed 48% of global wealth , leaving just 52% to be shared between the other 99% of adults on the planet. 1 Almost all of th at 52% is owned by those included in the richest 20%, leaving just 5.5% for the remaining 80% of people in the world. If this trend continues of an increasing wealth share to the richest, the top 1% will have more wealth than the remaining 99% of people in just two years with the wealth share of the top 1% exceeding 50% by 2016.

The report also shows that even among the über-rich there remain divisions, with an outsized majority on the list of the world’s wealthiest people hailing from the United States. And it’s not an accident. The world’s most wealthy, as the Oxfam report documents, spends enormous amounts of their money each year on lobbying efforts designed to defend the assets they have and expand their ability to make even more.

The world’s wealthiest, reads the report, “have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and insurance and pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Companies from these sectors spend millions of dollars every year on lobbying to create a policy environment that protects and enhances their interests further. The most prolific lobbying activities in the US are on budget and tax issues; public resources that should be directed to benefit the whole population, rather than reflect the interests of powerful lobbyists.”

Released on the eve of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam says that the world’s financial and political elite can no longer ignore, and should no longer perpetuate, inequality at this scale.

“Our report is just the latest evidence that inequality has reached shocking extremes, and continues to grow,” said Byanyima, who was invited to act as co-chair for this year’s Davos summit. “It is time for the global leaders of modern capitalism, in addition to our politicians, to work to change the system to make it more inclusive, more equitable and more sustainable.”

She continued, “Extreme inequality isn’t just a moral wrong. It undermines economic growth and it threatens the private sector’s bottom line.  All those gathering at Davos who want a stable and prosperous world should make tackling inequality a top priority.”

Contained in the paper is a seven-point plan of specific proposals which Oxfam says must be added to the agenda of all world leaders:

  1. Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals
  2. Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education
  3. Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards    capital and wealth
  4. Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers
  5. Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal
  6. Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum income guarantee
  7. Agree a global goal to tackle inequality.

On her role as co-chair at the WEF summit this week, Byanyima told the Guardian she was surprised to be invited, because Oxfam represents a “critical voice” to most of the others who attend. “We go there to challenge these powerful elites,” she said. “It is an act of courage to invite me.”

However, part of the message contained in the report is that economic inequality of this magnitude is not just threat to the poor and disadvantaged but also to those who have traditionally benefited from the model of pro-growth capitalism. As growing amounts of research have shown—most prominently in the work of French economist Thomas Piketty—the nearly unprecedented levels of inequality is hurting modern capitalism even on its own terms.

But just as these levels of inequality are the result of government policies that have benefited the rich, Oxfam believes that a change in such governing structures is the key to reversing the trend.

As Byanyima told the Guardian, “Extreme inequality is not just an accident or a natural rule of economics. It is the result of policies and with different policies it can be reduced. I am optimistic that there will be change.”

For the first time in at least half a century, low-income children make up the majority of students enrolled in American public schools, according to a report by the Southern Education Foundation (SEF).

The percentage of public school students who are classified as low-income has risen steadily over the past quarter century, under both Democratic and Republican administrations. In 1989, under 32 percent of public school students were classified as low-income, according to statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) cited by the report. This rose to 38 percent by 2000, 48 percent in 2011, and 51 percent in 2013.

These figures are the result of decades of deindustrialization, stagnating wages and cuts to antipoverty programs. Since the 2008 financial crisis in particular, the US ruling class, with the Obama administration at its head, has waged an unrelenting assault on the social rights of working people, carrying out mass layoffs, driving down wages, and slashing social services during the recession and the “recovery.” The SEF report makes clear that it has been the most vulnerable sections of society, including children, who have been made to bear a disproportionate burden due to these policies.

The study defines low-income students as those qualifying for either free or reduced-price lunches. Students from families making less than 135 percent of the federal poverty threshold are eligible for free lunches, while those making under 185 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for reduced-price lunches.

The report was published last week in the form of an update to a 2007 study, entitled “A New Majority,” which warned that low-income students had for the first time in decades become the majority in the historically impoverished American South, and were well on their way to becoming the majority in the US as a whole. In 2006, the year covered by the report, low-income students constituted 42 percent of students enrolled at public schools. Seven years later, the figure has risen by a shocking nine percentage points.

The 2007 report noted that in 1959, “Historical correlations suggest that close to a majority of the school-age children in the South were in households living below the recently defined American poverty line.” It added, “Somewhere between 1959 and 1967, it is likely that for the first time since public schools were established in the South, low income children no longer constituted a majority of students in the South’s public schools.”

“By 1967, the percentage of low income children in the South and the nation had declined to unmatched levels,” the report continued, but noted that the improvement

“came to a halt in 1970 when the percentage of low income children leveled off and remained essentially constant over five years. In 1975 the trend lines for low income students in the South and across the nation began to creep upward. After 1980, the Reagan Administration convinced Congress to enact large federal cutbacks in anti-poverty programs, and the numbers of low income children in the South started to rise sharply.”

The vast historical retrogression exposed by the report is further emphasized in the breakdown by state. The report notes, “In 1989, Mississippi was the only state in the nation with a majority of low income students. It had 59 percent. Louisiana ranked second with 49 percent.”

Low-income students now comprise the majority in 21 states, and between 40 percent and 49 percent of students in 19 others. While all states had significant numbers of low-income students, the share of poor students in the South and West is “extraordinarily high.” It notes that “thirteen of the 21 states with a majority of low income students in 2013 were located in the South, and six of the other 21 states were in the West.”

Mississippi has the highest share of low-income students, at a shocking 71 percent, or nearly three out of four, in 2013. Second was New Mexico, where 68 percent of public school students are low-income. These are followed by Louisiana, with 65 percent; Arkansas, with 61 percent; Oklahoma, with 61 percent; and Texas, with 60 percent. California, the country’s most populous state, has 55 percent of its public school students in poverty.

Poor students require far more resources than their affluent peers if they are to keep up. But rather than provide resources according to need, the Bush and Obama administrations, under the “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” programs, have channeled resources away from schools with a high share of students in poverty, which are declared to be “underperforming.”

The SEF report warns, “With huge, stubbornly unchanging gaps in learning, schools in the South and across the nation face the real danger of becoming entrenched, inadequately funded educational systems that enlarge the division in America between haves and have-nots.”

The study is the latest in a series of reports showing the increasingly desperate social conditions facing children in the United States.

In September, the US Department of Education released statistics showing that the number of homeless children increased by eight percent in the 2012-2013 school year, compared to the year before. There were 1.3 million homeless children enrolled in US schools, a figure that is up by 85 percent since the beginning of the recession.

In April, Feeding America reported that 16 million children, or 21.6 percent, live in food insecure households. The share of all people in the United States who are food insecure has increased from 13.4 percent in 2006 to 21.1 percent in 2013.

In April 2013, the United Nations Children’s Fund released a report showing that the US has the fourth-highest child poverty rate among 29 developed countries. Only Lithuania, Latvia and Romania have higher child poverty rates. The US fell behind even Greece, which has been devastated by years of austerity measures dictated by the International Monetary Fund.

La geopolitica secondo “Arab Idol”

January 19th, 2015 by Ahmed Bensaada

Arabia Saudita, dicembre 2014 - La monarchia saudita utilizza anche una trasmissione di intrattenimento, come il famosissimo Arab Idol, per veicolare la propria visione geopolitica del Medio Oriente. Che è poi la stessa degli Stati Uniti e di Israele (nella foto, il logo di Arab Idol)

Il ruolo proattivo che alcune emittenti satellitari arabe hanno giocato negli avvenimenti che hanno sconvolto i paesi arabi – impropriamente battezzati “primavera” araba – è stato oggetto di molti commenti da parte di numerosi osservatori. E’ oramai diventato di pubblico dominio che canali come la qatariana Al Jazeera o la saudita Al Arabiya sono solo dei potenti strumenti mediatici al servizio di agende politiche fissate dai paesi che le hanno create, finanziate e ideologicamente orientate, e questo ben da prima delle rivolte “primaverili” (1). Come ben riconosce un analista saudita: “Le due emittenti si preoccupano più di veicolare il punto di vista dei loro finanziatori, che di informare in modo professionale e obiettivo” (2). Questo allineamento contrario all’etica giornalistica è stato, non solo flagrante nella “copertura” della primavera araba, ma si è visto anche in altri dossier, come quello del massacro di Gaza (3) o della deposizione di Mohamed Morsi, il presidente egiziano appartenente alla confraternita dei Fratelli Mussulmani (4).

A proposito della Siria, Sultan Al Qassemi afferma che “nel tentativo di appoggiare la causa dei ribelli siriani, questi giganti mediatici hanno violato ogni norma giornalistica, trascurato anche i controlli più rudimentali dei fatti e si sono appoggiati su fonti anonime e video non verificati (…)” (5).

La parzialità politicamente teleguidata di questi media, che pure godevano di una fiducia senza precedenti nel mondo arabo (6), ha distrutto la loro credibilità (7) e provocato il crollo dell’audience dell’emittente qatariana (8).

In realtà, la “primavera” araba e le sue drammatiche conseguenze sono stati solo i rivelatori di agende politiche fissate già al momento in cui questi media erano stati creati.

Al Jazeera e Wadah Khanfar

Al Jazeera è stata fondata nel 1996 dall’emiro del Qatar, sceicco Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, che aveva assunto il potere l’anno prima rovesciando niente meno che suo padre. Dotata di un capitale di 150 milioni di dollari al momento della sua creazione, le spese del gruppo sono state stimate sui 650 milioni di dollari nel 2010 (9).

Al Jazeera ha avuto come direttore, per otto anni (dal 2003 al 2011), il palestinese Wadah Khanfar. E l’incarico affidato a questo direttore generale di tendenze notoriamente islamiste (10) non è passato inosservato. Khanfar è stato collocato, nella classifica Forbes 2009, al 54° posto delle personalità più potenti del mondo e, nel 2011, è stato portato alle stelle dal periodico statunitense Fast Company, che lo ha piazzato tra i primi 100 manager più creativi (11).


Wadah Khanfar, l’ex direttore generale di Al Jazeera

E non è tutto. Solo sette mesi dopo essere stato forzato a dimettersi da Al Jazeera, Khanfar è entrato nell’International Crisis Group (ICG) (12), un think tank statunitense con sede a Washington, cui appartengono molti uomini politici occidentali di primo piano, in particolare statunitensi o provenienti da paesi membri della NATO. Nel 2013 l’ICG ha avuto la disponibilità di un budget superiore ai 18 milioni di dollari, la metà circa dei quali veniva dalle sole sovvenzioni di governi occidentali (13). Wadah Khanfar siede all’ICG in compagnia di George Soros, presidente dell’Open Society Institute (OSI) e di Nahum Barnea, capocronista del giornale israeliano Yedioth Ahronoth (14). Ricordiamo che Soros è un miliardario statunitense, illustre speculatore finanziario, che è stato fortemente implicato, attraverso le sue fondazioni, nelle rivoluzioni colorate e nella formazione degli attivisti arabi che hanno organizzato le famose “primavere” arabe. Tra le personalità statunitensi più influenti del Consiglio di amministrazione dell’ICG, figura il nome di Morton Isaac Abramowitz, ex segretario di Stato aggiunto, con delega alla intelligence e alla ricerca nell’amministrazione Reagan. E’ anche interessante fare cenno del fatto che Abramowitz è stato un membro influente del Consiglio di amministrazione della National Endowment for Democracy (NED) per nove anni. Nel 2007 lo ha insignito della “Democracy Service Medal”, quale riconoscimento del “suo eccezionale contributo all’avanzamento dei diritti dell’uomo e della democrazia nel mondo” (16). E’ necessario ricordare che la NED è la più grande organizzazione statunitense di “esportazione” della democrazia? Anch’essa, come l’OSI, è stata attiva nelle rivoluzioni colorate, nelle “primavere” arabe (17), ma anche nell’Euromaidan (18) e nella recente “rivoluzione degli ombrelli” a Hong Kong (19).

Tra i più importanti consiglieri dell’ICG, si può citare Zbigniew Brzezinski, ex consigliere presidenziale per la sicurezza nazionale degli Stati Uniti, Shimon Peres, ex presidente e primo ministro di Israele, o Shlomo BenAmi, ex ministro degli affari esteri di Israele (20).

Con tutto questo bel mondo, non è difficile capire quali interessi serva questa organizzazione che si dichiara “impegnata a prevenire e risolvere i conflitti sanguinari” (21).

Tutte queste manifestazioni di stima da parte di organizzazioni statunitensi che sembrano circondare Wadah Khanfar hanno forse una spiegazione assai semplice, stando ad alcuni cablo Wikileaks firmati dall’ambasciatore USA in Qatar dell’epoca, Chase Untermeyer. Secondo questi documenti, infatti, Khanfar sarebbe stato in “contatto permanente” con l’US Defense Intelligence Agency (Agenzia statunitense di informazioni e di difesa) e avrebbe provveduto ad addomesticare la copertura di talune notizie a richiesta degli USA (22). Secondo il New York Times, avrebbe anche invitato i responsabili statunitensi a mantenere nascosta la loro collaborazione (23).

Wadah Khanfar è stato sostituito dallo sceicco Ahmed Ben Jassem Al Thani, un membro della famiglia regnante qatariana. Quest’ultimo è stato nominato, nel 2013, ministro dell’economia e del commercio (24).

Al Arabiya, “Voice of America”

Il sunto del cablo Wikileaks 09RIYADH651, redatto nel 2009 dall’ambasciata USA in Arabia Saudita, chiarisce le questioni della proprietà e dell’orientamento ideologico dei media sauditi (25). Vi si può leggere: “Il sistema normativo saudita offre al regime degli Al Saud un mezzo per manipolare la stampa nazionale scritta promuovendo la propria agenda, senza dover ricorrere ad una sorveglianza quotidiana sui giornalisti, e i giornalisti sono liberi di scrivere quel che vogliono, a condizione che non critichino la famiglia reale e non parlino della corruzione del governo. Inoltre la maggior parte dei media in Arabia saudita – scritti o elettronici – sono di proprietà di membri della famiglia reale, e di conseguenza l’autocensura è all’ordine del giorno”.

E Al Arabiya non fa eccezione.

Lanciata nel 2003, in piena guerra d’Iraq, serviva a fare concorrenza e, soprattutto, a contrastare Al Jazeera che, negli anni 1990, non esitava a criticare la famiglia reale saudita (26). E’ stata dotata di un capitale iniziale di 300 milioni di dollari e, secondo qualche esperto, il budget operativo sarebbe di centinaia di milioni di dollari (27).

El Arabyia appartiene in maggioranza al gruppo MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Centre), co-fondato e presieduto da un certo Walid Al Ibrahim.

Walid Al Ibrahim, co-fondatore e DG del gruppo MBC

Walid Al Ibrahim è fratello di Al Jawhara Al Ibrahim, una delle tante mogli, nondimeno favorita, del defunto re Fahd. Al Jawhara aveva lasciato il suo primo marito per unirsi al più alto rappresentante dei Al Saud. Secondo qualche osservatore, è stato proprio grazie a questa unione che la famiglia degli Al Ibrahim è “uscita dall’oscurità”, offrendo ai fratelli di Al Jawhara l’opportunità di diventare influenti businessmen, non senza attirarsi le critiche e i pettegolezzi del cerchio reale (28). Oltre a Al Jawhara, Walid ha altre due sorelle e dieci sorellastre, diverse delle quali hanno sposato degli Al Saud. Le sue due sorelle, Maha e Mohdi, sono rispettivamente sposate al principe Abderrahmane Al Saud (ex viceministro saudita della difesa e dell’aviazione) e Khaled Al Angari (Ministro saudita dell’insegnamento superiore) (29).

Walid è anche lo zio materno del principe Abdul Aziz, l’unico figlio di sua sorella Al Jawahra e il più piccolo (e preferito) del re Fahd (30). Fin da giovane (in una monarchia gerontocratica), Abdul Aziz ha occupato posti importanti nel governo saudita. Dapprima ministro senza portafoglio, è stato poi nominato capo di gabinetto del Consiglio dei Ministri quando aveva solo 27 anni (31). Silurato nell’aprile 2014 (32), il principe vive attualmente come un playboy miliardario, ma è anche un attento uomo d’affari. Per la cronaca, è stata l’autocolonna che lo accompagnava ad essere stata spettacolarmente svaligiata su un’autostrada parigina nell’agosto 2014 (33).

Il principe Abdul Aziz ai funerali del padre, il re Fahd d’Arabia Saudita (2 agosto 2005)

Quando era vivo, re Fahd considerava MBC come il suo progetto personale. D’altronde si dice che all’epoca il re raccontasse che l’acronimo MBC voleva dire “My Broadcasting Company” e che telefonava alla stazione per chiedere la messa in onda di questo o quel programma, secondo il suo umore (34). In effetti, mentre il sostegno finanziario di re Fahd a MBC nei primi anni resterà una questione di pura congettura, era invece di pubblica notorietà l’ampiezza del sostegno logistico reale (35). E adesso è il figlio ad incassarne i dividendi: secondo il cablo Wikileaks 09RIYADH651 già citato, il principe Abdul Aziz incasserebbe “il 50% di tutti i profitti dell’impero MBC”.

Al Arabyia, la trasmissione di notizie del gruppo MBC, è stata diretta dal giornalista saudita Abdul Rahman Al Rached, dal 2004 al 2014. A differenza di Wadah Khanfar, egli è conosciuto per la sua opposizione all’islam politico e ai Fratelli Mussulmani, cosa che gli ha attirato i fulmini degli islamisti e spiega il ruolo giocato da questa emittente in Egitto (36).


Abdul Rahman Al Rached, ex direttore generale di Al Arabiya

Secondo il politologo Mohamed El Oifi, “Al Arabiya è prigioniera dell’immagine di una emittente che ‘riflette il punto di vista statunitense’, addirittura israeliano, tanto coscienziosamente che i suoi detrattori la chiamano Al-lbriya (l’ebraica)” (37).

Abdul Rahman Al Rached è dovuto lui stesso correre ai ripari (senza essere convincente) per smentire queste accuse durante il massacro di Gaza del 2009 (38). A proposito di questa tragedia, l’universitario saudita Mohsen Al Awaji ha dichiarato in un’intervista rilasciata alla stessa emittente che “Al Arabiya (…) ha preso le parti del nemico sionista” e che “alcune emittenti sioniste erano più imparziali di Al Arabiya nel trattare la vicenda di Gaza” (39).

Questa vicinanza tra la linea editoriale di Al Arabiya e gli interessi USA è stata manifesta fin dalla sua creazione. Infatti, nel maggio 2004, il presidente Bush scelse Al Arabiya, e non Al Jazeera, per rilasciare un’intervista sulla vicenda della prigione di Abou Graib. E’ questo che ha fatto dire a qualcuno che Washington aveva chiaro chi stesse dalla sua parte e chi no (40). E a conferma di ciò, Al Arabiya ha anche realizzato, nel febbraio 2009, la prima intervista del presidente Obama ad una televisione araba (41).

Al Arabiya è accusata di predicare la “normalizzazione” con lo Stato ebraico. Hassan Nasrallah, il capo di Hezbollah, “ha pubblicamente denunciato quello che considera come propaganda di Al Arabiya a favore dello Stato di Israele nel mondo arabo” (42).

Il 26 luglio 2014, in piena aggressione israeliana contro Gaza, Al Arabiya ha pubblicato sul suo sito un editoriale del saudita Mohammed Al Sheikh intitolato “La pace con Israele è la soluzione” (43). Questa dichiarazione, che ha suscitato un ampio dibattito, è stata definita dal commentatore israeliano Yaron Friedman come sorprendente. “Perché questo articolo è stato pubblicato in Arabia Saudita e perché adesso?” si è chiesto. “La famiglia del redattore è molto influente in Arabia Saudita e le sue origini risalgono alla famiglia wahhabita fondatrice del regno. I componenti della sia famiglia, che è originaria del deserto del Naid e della captale di Riyadh, comprende eminenti dignitari religiosi, degli imam, dei muftì, e Ministri dell’Educazione e della Giustizia” (44).

Ha concluso la sua analisi affermando: “Oggi l’Arabia Saudita e Israele hanno in comune più interessi che mai, ivi compreso quello di fermare il programma nucleare iraniano, la guerra contro il movimento dei Fratelli Mussulmani e le sue filiali (Hamas), l’appoggio la regime Al Sissi in Egitto, il mantenimento della stabilità nel regno di Giordania, la contrapposizione al regime di Bachar al Assad in Siria e agli Hezbollah in Libano, la guerra contro Al Qaeda e, più precisamente, lo Stato islamico in Iraq e in Siria, e la lista è ancora lunga…”

“L’interesse dell’Arabia saudita sarebbe, molto semplicemente, di porre termine al “piccolo conflitto” tra Israele e i Palestinesi, in modo che Israele possa schierarsi al suo fianco nel “grande conflitto” contro gli Sciiti e la minaccia terrorista sunnita crescente”.

Arab Idol e l’intrattenimento politicizzato

Non vi è dunque alcun dubbio che le due emittenti più famose del mondo arabo abbiano delle linee editoriali che riflettono fedelmente le visioni politiche dei governi dei paesi che le hanno fondate e che le finanziano.

Nel caso della rete MBC, le agende politiche non sono veicolate solo attraverso il canale di notizie Al Arabiya. Una trasmissione di intrattenimento molto apprezzata dal pubblico panarabo come “Arab Idol”, viene anch’essa utilizzata a questi fini. Trasmessa dal canale MBC1, è alla sua terza edizione. Ispirata allo show televisivo inglese “Pop Idol”, lo schema del programma è semplicissimo. Vengono selezionati dei giovani cantanti nel mondo arabo. Ogni settimana essi interpretano, in rappresentanza del loro paese, una canzone. I telespettatori vengono invitati a votare con sms e il (o i) candidato (i) che ha ottenuto meno voti viene eliminato. Per dare un’idea della popolarità della trasmissione, la finale della seconda edizione (2013) di Arab Idol è stata seguita da non meno di 100 milioni di telespettatori (45).

La terza edizione, iniziata a dicembre 2014, ha dimostrato in modo chiaro questa miscela di generi tra l’intrattenimento e la politica.

Prima di tutto, in una delle prime trasmissioni è stata presentata una carta dei paesi arabi di provenienza dei candidati. Il problema è che questa carta menzionava Israele al posto della Palestina, per indicare la provenienza di due candidati di origine palestinese: Manal Mousa e Haitham Khalaily. Dopo il coro generale di proteste sollevato da questo sproposito, il gruppo MCB si è giustificato dicendo che si era trattato di un errore tecnico (46).

Ma la storia non è così semplice, giacché i candidati di origine palestinese sono in effetti Arabi israeliani e, dunque, possessori di un passaporto dello Stato ebraico. D’altronde i media israeliani s’erano divertiti alla grande. Per esempio Haaretz aveva titolato “Il prossimo Arab Idol potrebbe essere israeliano” (47), l’emittente 124News aveva annunciato “Due Israeliani realizzano il sogno ‘Arab Idol’ in Libano” (48), e il Times of Israel dichiarava: “Israeliani cantano ad Arab Idol per la Palestina” (49). La vicenda ha assunto tali proporzioni che il portavoce dell’esercito israeliano in persona, Avichay Adraee, ha formulato i suoi auguri ai due candidati (50).


Avichay Adraee, il portavoce dell’esercito israeliano

Molti internauti e cittadini arabi hanno, ancora una volta, accusato MBC di voler “normalizzare” le relazioni con Israele, e che l’indicazione sulla Cartina di Israele era premeditata, cosa che il gruppo ha negato attraverso il portavoce ufficiale, Mazen Hayek (51).

Un’altra decisione assunta dall’emittente in tema di associazione dei candidati ai loro paesi di origine mostra un chiaro orientamento politico. Uno dei candidati, Ammar Al koufi, è un iracheno di origine curda. Invece di indicare il suo paese ufficiale, vale a dire l’Iraq, è stato invece associato al “Kurdistan iracheno”, come si trattasse di un paese riconosciuto. Sarebbe come se, invece di scrivere “Algeria” per un concorrente algerino, si usasse una denominazione etnico regionale come “Cabila”, o Chaoui” o “Mozabiti”. Ed esempi di tal genere sono numerosi nei paesi arabi.

Questa differenziazione territoriale tra l’Iraq e il Kurdistan iracheno da parte di MBC non è stata certamente fortuita. Essa corrisponde alla dottrina del “Grande Medio Oriente” che propugna il rimodellamento delle frontiere, superando quelle ereditate dagli accordi di Sykes-Picot.

Benché lanciata sotto la guida del presidente G.W.Bush e dei suoi falchi neoconservatori (52), questo progetto si ispira ad un’idea del 1982 di Oded Yinon, un alto funzionario del ministero degli affari esteri israeliano. Il “Piano Yinon”, come viene conosciuto, si proponeva di “smembrare tutti gli stati arabi esistenti e di riorganizzare la regione in piccole entità fragili, più malleabili e incapaci di far fronte agli Israeliani” (53).

A titolo di esempio, questo piano raccomandava la divisione dell’Iraq in tre stati distinti: sunnita, curdo e sciita (54).

Nel 2006, Ralph Peters, luogotenente colonnello dell’esercito USA, pubblicò un articolo sul “Grande Medio Oriente” nel quale propose che le nuove frontiere dei paesi ivi compresi avrebbero dovuto seguire le “affinità etniche” e il “comunitarismo religioso” (55). Su questa base, propose una mappa che presenta molte somiglianze con quella di Yinon (56).


Il Grande Medio Oriente, secondo Ralph Peters

Da parte sua, Jeffrey Goldberg ha proposto nel 2008 un’altra carta di suddivisione del Grande Medio oriente, nella quale prevedeva lo smembramento della Siria e dell’Iraq, ma anche quella del Sudan in due stati, battezzando la nuova entità come “Nuovo Sudan” (57). Ricordiamo che il Sudan del sud si è separato dal Sudan del nord nel 2011, vale a dire tre anni dopo la pubblicazione della cartina di Goldberg.

Suggerita da Robin Wright, la più recente cartina dello smembramento del Grande Medio Oriente è datata settembre 2013 (58). Oltre alla spartizione della Siria e dell’Iraq, vi si propone anche la divisione della Libia in tre entità: la Tripolitania, la Cirenaica e il Fezzan. Questa cartina prevede anche la separazione dello Yemen in due parti (Nord e Sud), situazione esistente prima del 1990, anno della riunificazione del paese.


Il Grande Medio Oriente, secondo Robin Wright

L’Arabia Saudita sarebbe in procinto di promuovere una divisione condivisa con Israele e interpretata dai giovani candidati arabi? Lavorerebbe per lo smembramento dell’Iraq in maggioranza sciita per indebolirlo e, come insinua Yaron Friedman (59), impedire all’asse sciita (Iran, Iraq, Hezbollah, Houtis dello Yemen) di dominare la scena politica del Medio oriente a detrimento dei sunniti?

Così, per quanto i media qatariani e sauditi siano stati capaci di attirare un grandissimo numero di telespettatori arabi grazie alla loro padronanza delle tecniche televisive moderne, essi restano potenti strumenti efficacemente utilizzati sul piano politico dai loro rispettivi paesi. Laddove il loro ruolo parziale e privo di etica professionale è stato evidenziato nella copertura che i loro canali di informazione continua hanno dato della “primavera” araba o della causa palestinese, risulta oggi che il gruppo MBC utilizzi anche le trasmissioni di intrattenimento per veicolare gli obiettivi politici della monarchia saudita.

Ahmed Bensaada

arab_idol

La géopolitique selon « Arab Idol »

Italiano : http://www.ossin.org/arabia-saudita/la-geopolitica-secondo-arab-idol.html

Riferimenti:

1.    Mohammed El Oifi, « Le face-à-face Al-Arabiya/Al-Jazeera : un duel diplomatico-médiatique », Magazine Moyen-Orient, giugno 2010,http://www.moyenorient-presse.com/?p=705

2.    AFP, « Egypte : la crédibilité entamée d’Al-Jazeera et d’Al-Arabiya », L’expansion, 21 luglio 2013,http://lexpansion.lexpress.fr/actualites/1/actualite-economique/egypte-la-credibilite-entamee-d-al-jazeera-et-d-al-arabiya_1268006.html

3.    Amin Hamadé, « Comment Al-Jazira et sa rivale Al-Arabiya couvrent-elles la guerre à Gaza ? », Le Courrier International, 22 novembre 2012, http://www.courrierinternational.com/article/2012/11/22/comment-al-jazira-et-sa-rivale-al-arabiya-couvrent-elles-la-guerre-a-gaza

4.    Vedi rif. 2

5.    Sultan Al Qassemi, « Egypt made al Jazeera — and Syria’s destroying it », Foreign Policy, 2 agosto 2012,http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/08/02/breaking_the_arab_news

6.    Johnson, T. et Fahmy, S. (2010). « Who is winning the hearts and minds of the Arab public? », International Communication Research Journal, 45(1-2), 24–48 (2010), https://www.academia.edu/1984609/The_credibility_of_Al-Jazeera_Al-Arabiya_Al-Hurra_and_local_Arab_stations

7.    Elie Chalala, « Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya Face Criticism… But of Network Ownership or Syrian Coverage », Al Jadid, 24 aprile 2013,http://www.aljadid.com/content/al-jazeera-and-al-arabiya-face-criticism-network-ownership-or-syrian-coverage-0

8.    Yassine Khiri, « Al Jazeera, la chaîne phare du monde arabe ne brille plus », Le Vif, 25 luglio 2013,http://www.levif.be/actualite/international/al-jazeera-la-chaine-phare-du-monde-arabe-ne-brille-plus/article-normal-96957.html

9.    Heather Brown, Emily Guskin and Amy Mitchell, « Arab Satellite News », Pew Research Journalism Project, 28 novembre 2012,http://www.journalism.org/2012/11/28/arab-satellite-news/

10.    Fred Halliday, « Political Journeys: The Open Democracy Essays », Yale University Press, USA (2012), p. 118,http://books.google.ca/books?id=QjWCHaInTAsC&pg=PA118&lpg=PA118&dq=wadah+khanfar+islamist&source=bl&ots=iRQWu6sF3a&sig=L-yP1dNZtO6DvDwevYAFE-eWZlQ&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=eRSBVMPzDYieyATW8YH4BA&ved=0CFEQ6AEwCzgK#v=onepage&q=wadah%20khanfar%20islamist&f=false

11.    Benjamin Barthe, « Docteur Wadah et Mister Khanfar : l’insaisissable patron d’Al-Jazira annonce sa démission », Le Monde, 21 settembre 2011, http://www.lemonde.fr/actualite-medias/article/2011/09/21/demission-du-directeur-general-d-al-jazira_1575153_3236.html

12.    International Crisis Group, « Crisis Group Announces New Board Members », 2 luglio 2012,http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/publication-type/media-releases/2012/general/crisis-group-announces-new-board-members.aspx

13.    International Crisis Group, « Who supports Crisis Group? », http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/support/who-supports-crisisgroup.aspx

14.    International Crisis Group, « Crisis Group’s Board of Trustees», http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/about/board.aspx

15.    Ahmed Bensaada, « Arabesque américaine : Le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes de la rue arabe », Éditions Michel Brûlé, Montréal (2011), Éditions Synergie, Alger (2012)

16.    National Endowment for Democracy, «2007 Democracy Service Medal », 18 giugno 2007, http://www.ned.org/events/democracy-service-medal/2007

17.    Ahmed Bensaada, « Arabesque américaine : Le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes de la rue arabe », Éditions Michel Brûlé, Montréal (2011), Éditions Synergie, Alger (2012)

18.    Ahmed Bensaada, « Ucraina : autopsia di un colpo di Stato », www.ossin.org, marzo 2014,

http://www.ossin.org/ucraina/ucraina-autopsia-di-un-colpo-di-stato.html

http://www.ossin.org/ucraina/ucraina-autopsia-colpo-stato-parte-seconda.html

19.    Ahmed Bensaada, « Hong Kong : un virus sotto gli ombrelli», www.ossin.org, ottobre 2014, http://www.ossin.org/cina/hong-kong-un-virus-sotto-l-ombrello.html

20.     International Crisis Group, « Crisis Group Senior Advisers », http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/about/~/link.aspx?_id=AFAAD992BC154C93B71B1E76D6151F3F&_z=z

21.    International Crisis Group, « About Crisis Group », http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/about.aspx

22.    Rebecca Shapiro, « Wadah Khanfar, Former Al Jazeera Director: I Was ‘Under Pressure’ From Middle Eastern Governments », The Huffington Post, 29 novembre 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/wadah-khanfar-former-al-j_n_1118477.html

23.    David D. Kirkpatrick, « After Disclosures by WikiLeaks, Al Jazeera Replaces Its Top News Director », The New York Times, 20 settembre 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/21/world/middleeast/after-disclosures-by-wikileaks-al-jazeera-replaces-its-top-news-director.html?_r=0

24.    AFP, « Qatar : le nouvel émir forme son cabinet », Le Nouvel Observateur, 25 giugno 2013,http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/monde/20130625.AFP7427/qatar-l-emir-abdique-au-profit-de-son-fils.html

25.    WikiLeaks, « Ideological And Ownership Trends In The Saudi Media », Câble 09RIYADH651,https://cablegatesearch.wikileaks.org/cable.php?id=09RIYADH651

26.    Marwan M. Kraidy, « Hypermedia and Governance in Saudi Arabia », First Monday. Special Issue No. 7, Departmental Papers (ASC). University of Pennsylvania, 2006, http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1193&context=asc_papers

27.    Sultan Al Qassemi, « Al-Jazeera : une objectivité mise en cause », Slate Afrique, 16 agosto 2012,http://www.slateafrique.com/92763/l%E2%80%99egypte-al-jazeera-syrie-al-arabiyya-propagande-qatar-arabie-saoudite

28.    Steve Coll, « An intimate look at the Bin Laden family », Today, 5 aprile 2008,http://www.today.com/id/23955877/site/todayshow/ns/today-books/t/intimate-look-bin-laden-family/#.VIRpvjGG98F

29.    Centre Princesse Jawhara Al Ibrahim, « La princesse Jawhara », http://al-jawhara-center.kau.edu.sa/Content.aspx?Site_ID=287&lng=AR&cid=40127

30.    AP, « First Wife of King Fahd Dies », 9 marzo 1999, http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1999/First-Wife-of-King-Fahd-Dies/id-0113dc8399a0764765e1092ffc311451

31.    Christophe Cornevin, « Abdul Aziz Ben Fahd, le prince braqué à Paris est un amateur des “plaisirs de la vie” », Le figaro, 20 agosto 2014, http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2014/08/19/01016-20140819ARTFIG00327-abdul-aziz-ben-fahd-prince-braque-a-paris.php

32.    Arab News, « New minister of state appointed », 26 aprile 2014, http://www.arabnews.com/news/561076

33.    Vedi rif. 31

34.    Jon B. Alterman, « New Media, New Politics? », Policy Paper No. 48 (1998), p.21,https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/PolicyPaper48.pdf

35.    Naomi Sakr, « Whys and Wherefores of Satellite Channel Ownership », Satellite Realms: Transnational Television, Globalization and the Middle East, 2001, http://acc.teachmideast.org/texts.php?module_id=13&reading_id=1029&print=1

36.    Mallouk Al Cheikh, « Abdul Rahman Al Rached : les Frères d’Égypte louent la Turquie et imitent l’Iran », Al Majalla, 8 febbraio 2013,http://www.majalla.com/arb/2013/02/article55242362

37.    Vedi rif. 1

38.    Al Arabiya Net, « Al Rached : Al Arabiya ne reflète pas l’opinion des États-Unis », 20 novembre 2010,http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/01/15/64254.html

39.    Youtube, « Le Cheikh Mohsen Al Awaji clashe la chaîne Al Arabiya », video postato il 2 febbraio 2010,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nICSV8tWb1Y

40.    Andrew Hammond, « Saudi Arabia’s Media Empire: keeping the masses at home », Arab Media and Society, No 3, Autunno 2007,http://www.arabmediasociety.com/?article=420

41.    Sam Stein, « Obama On Al-Arabiya: First Formal Interview As President With Arab TV Network (VIDEO) », The Huffington Post, 27 febbraio 2009, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/26/al-arabiya-obama-does-fir_n_161087.html

42.    Vedi rif. 1

43.    Mohammed Al Sheikh, « La paix avec Israël est la solution  », Al Arabiya Net, 26 luglio 2014,http://www.alarabiya.net/ar/politics/2014/07/26/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%85%D8%B9-%D8%A5%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%87%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%84-.html

44.    Yaron Friedman, « L’Arabie Saoudite aimerait “enrôler” Tsahal dans les combats à venir », JForum, 4 agosto 2014,http://www.jforum.fr/forum/international/article/l-arabie-saoudite-aimerait-enroler

45.    France 24, « Deux chanteurs Arabes israéliens à la conquête d’Arab Idol au Liban », 21 ottobre 2014,http://www.france24.com/fr/20141021-arab-idol-arabes-israeliens-liban-manal-mousa-haitham-khalaily-mohammad-assaf/

46.    Al Ahram, « MBC : l’apparition de nom “Israël” dans Arab Idol est une erreur technique », 9 ottobre 2014,http://gate.ahram.org.eg/News/535356.aspx

47.    Areej Hazboun, « Next ‘Arab Idol’ may be Israeli», Haaretz, 18 ottobre 2014, http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/1.621368

48.    I24News, « Deux Israéliens accomplissent le rêve “Arab Idol” au Liban », 18 ottobre 2014,http://www.i24news.tv/fr/actu/international/moyen-orient/47794-141018-deux-israeliens-accomplissent-le-reve-arab-idol-au-liban

49.    Times of Israel, « Israelis sing on Arab Idol, for Palestine », 23 settembre 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/israelis-sing-for-palestine-in-arab-idol/

50.    Watan, « Le porte-parole de l’armée israélienne cause un crise à Arab Idol et MBC », 20 ottobre 2014,https://www.watan.com/%D9%86%D9%83%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%AA/item/2264-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%AF%D8%AB-%25D%E2%80%A6

51.    El Youm 7, « MBC nie la normalisation après l’apparition du nom “Israël” dans Arab Idol », 10 settembre 2014,http://www.youm7.com/story/2014/9/10/%D8%A5%D9%85-%D8%A8%D9%89-%D8%B3%D9%89-%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%81%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B7%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B9-%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D8%B8%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%85-%D8%A5%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%81%D9%89-%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A2%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84/1857882#.VIaYlDGG98E

52.    Charles Saint-Prot, « La nouvelle carte américaine du Proche-Orient », Observatoire d’Études Géopolitiques, ottobre 2006,http://www.etudes-geopolitiques.com/la-nouvelle-carte-americaine-du-proche-orient

53.    Habib Tawa, « Le Proche-Orient en miettes », Afrique Asie, Settembre 2014, p. 33.

54.    Vedi rif. 52

55.    Ralph Peters, « Blood borders », Armed Force Journal, 1° giugno 2006, http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/blood-borders/

56.    Questa carta può essere consultata al seguente indirizzo: http://afj.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/peters-map-after.jpg

57.    Jeffrey Goldberg, « After Iraq », The Atlantic, 1° gennaio 2008, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/01/after-iraq/306577/?single_page=true

58.    Robin Wright, « Imagining a Remapped Middle East », The New York Times, 28 settembre 2013,http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/opinion/sunday/imagining-a-remapped-middle-east.html?pagewanted=all

59.    Vedi rif. 44

As long as Saudi oil is seen as a valuable resource for US oil corporations, the US will maintain relations with the feudal regime regardless of what that means for the rights of Saudi people, Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, told RT.

RT: Time to time we hear about executions and human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. How do you see the situation the country at the moment?

Sara Flounders: Saudi Arabia from the very beginning has had a very special relationship with the US based on oil, based on huge military support for a completely corrupt feudal regime. The punishment, the absence of any rights for the people go hand and hand. It is not covered here and it should be known because there is one beheading on average every four days in Saudi Arabia, it is so common. Along with other horrendous forms of punishment, of course the beheadings are absolutely outrageous, offensive around the world, [there’s] great outrage when it is carried out by ISIS, but when it’s done in Saudi Arabia it’s not even publicized. And other punishments, to sentence someone to1000 lashes, that is almost a death sentence. It is so horrendously torturous. And these are common punishments in Saudi Arabia.

Saad al-Hariri (R), son of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, with other Saudi royal family members (Reuters / Hamad I Mohammed)

It is important to know that women have absolutely no rights in Saudi Arabia: not to work, not to drive, not to have any funds of their own, not to travel, not to step foot out of the house without the permission and accompaniment of a male family member. The immigrants have no rights whatsoever in Saudi Arabia. Although that’s a third of the population, doing everything from the highest level technical jobs to the lowest level housekeeping, garbage, and so on.

At every level Saudi Arabia is dependent on these foreign work force, and this woman is from Burma, I don’t know her exact circumstances, but certainly as a woman and as a non-Saudi, as an immigrant she would be absent any kind of appeal or rights. And otherwise there are no rights, there is no appeal within Saudi Arabia even for the Saudis. There is a great deal of poverty although there is extreme wealth. There is an enormous amount, the highest in Arab world, of illiteracy in Saudi Arabia and this is what unending US military support has meant to the population of Saudi Arabia.

RT: We know about Saudi’s close ties with the US. Why does the US support such a cruel regime and at the same time in the past influenced overthrows of many other less brutal regimes in the Mideast? Why don’t we hear at least of US disapproval of the executions, etc?

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (R) listens to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before a meeting at the Royal Palace in Jeddah (Reuters / Brendan Smialowski / Pool)

SF: The whole regime is a feudal regime. Back to US support, the largest number of people facing execution in the world right is here in the US. The use of lethal injection and electrocution has also been found to be excruciatingly painful. The last couple of lethal injection executions in the US turned out to be completely botched and a great torture, great torment to those facing execution.

So there is no good way to kill people, but the Saudi form because of the outrage that it raised when it was carried out when the US wanted to whip up its right to bomb, strafe, and use cluster bombs, white phosphorus and horrendous forms which are also torturous and deadly against ISIS. Then they made much of the decapitation, the execution of two journalists. They made no mention of how routine this is in Saudi Arabia, where they plan to train what they say are their new forces to be used in Syria. That is very interesting that Saudi Arabia would be heading up a UN sponsored counter terrorism conference, where Saudi Arabia would be chosen for the training of forces to go into Syria. Yet, their own record is the worst in the region.

Members of Magic Movement, a group of young Bangladeshis, stage a mock execution scene in protest of Saudi Arabia beheading of eight Bangladeshi workers in front of National Museum in Dhaka (Reuters / Andrew Biraj)

RT: How do you see this recent horrible “blogger” case? What was the US reaction?

SF: First of all, the blogger who was charged, committed no crime, this is a thought crime, a violation of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to put forth ideas. And for that he is facing 1000 lashes, carried out 50 at a time because that is all that a human being could bear and live. So this means this excruciating torture will take place over many, many months again and again. It is absolutely inhuman, a degrading form of punishment and intended to be that.

It is so well and good for US senators to call for the end of flogging, but really they should call for an end to the support of this corrupt Royal family who are named the House of Saud, they have named the very country after themselves, expropriated its entire wealth, is in the hands of this one clan, this one grouping. And the rest of the population has no rights whatsoever.

It is held in place in a straightjacket by US support, financial support, technical support, and every way military support, especially because Saudi Arabian oil is considered an extremely valuable resource and contracts favor US oil corporations. They want to keep that relationship regardless of what that means for human rights, for millions of people in Saudi Arabia.

RT: How should US senators act in your opinion?

SF: I think that the senators…are asking to put a good face on a totally rotten situation. Really they should call for a break and end to all support for this Saudi regime. It will collapse tomorrow; it has existed by totally repressing the entire population and acting as a police force in the whole region. Also constantly arming and fomenting the most reactionary jihadist forces throughout the region.

RT: Is there any chance of changing the situation within Saudi Arabia?

SF: Because the oppression is so harsh, so extreme – immediate execution – …. the very idea of trying to unionize or organize in any way whatsoever is punishable by death. As we can see even writing something in anyway critical of the regime – 1000 lashes is a penalty. In Saudi Arabia, the royal family keeps their position of total power by mass terror, and they have brutally put down in the past any kind and every kind of resistance. This is not in any way a democratic regime and it’s far harsher even than military dictatorships that are known around the world. This is really a form of terror against the whole population.

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

World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” – Marshall McLuhan, Culture is Our Business, 1970

New Snowden documents recently revealed that the NSA is getting ready for future digital wars as the agency postures itself in an aggressive manner towards the world. “The Five Eyes Alliance,” a cooperation between United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, is working hard to develop these weapons of Cyber Warfare.

So called “D” weapons, as reported by Der Spiegel, will paralyze computer networks and infrastructure that they monitor. Water supplies, factories, airports, as well as the flow of money are all potential targets.

The Der Spiegel report does not mention the wider issue of the expanding network of everyday objects and appliances that are connected to the Internet. According to CIA chief David Petraeusthe Internet of Things will have a monumental impact on “clandestine tradecraft.” Richard Adhikariwrites for Tech News World that the Internet of Things is “…ripe for exploitation by the NSA.”

Consumer appliances are now becoming activated and “smart.” RFID chips and wireless Internet connections enable devices like televisions, refrigerators, printers, and computers to communicate with each other and generally make life easier for us. This comes at a price, however. Your privacy is eliminated.

The NSA’s Cyber Weapons program will undoubtedly exploit these devices, which include household appliances, and, frighteningly, medical devices that can be hacked. Pacemakers can be remotely stopped, and insulin pumps can be made to deliver a lethal dose of insulin. With the advent of implantable devices that communicate via Wifi, the potential for manipulation and hacking is growing exponentially.

If the developers of these Internet-connected devices don’t willingly work with the NSA to place back-doors in the technology, the agency is hard at work trying to find and exploit them.

Insurance companies, now following the command-and-control structure of Obamacare, are already anticipating this surveillance infrastructure as a means to monitor individuals’ behavior. Spying on eating habits will be easy with RFID-enabled refrigerators.

Think the idea of your appliances spying on you is crazy? According to Samsung’s new privacy policy, their smart TV can monitor your conversation. The policy states, “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

More revelations are made every day regarding government surveillance, and the fact that it is unable to stop terror attacks. As time goes on it will be readily apparent to the masses that the monumental surveillance architecture that will catalog and track the population is nothing more than an attempt at full spectrum domination.

Image Source  

Daniel Taylor is an independent researcher, activist, and webmaster of oldthinkernews.com. You can find out more about him and his site HERE  

Despite the U.S. food supply already being riddled with copious amounts of pesticides, the United States Department of Agriculture continuously approves new pesticides to be used on U.S. crops. The most recent case of approval revolves around the sale and planting of Monsanto’s genetically engineered dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Even more concerning, though, is that the USDA recently claimed that current pesticides levels on food are mostly nothing to worry about, and that we should continue eating food coated with toxic chemicals.

The USDA report states:

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posted data from the 2013 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary. The PDP summary confirms that overall pesticide chemical residues found on the foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and do not pose a safety concern.

The 2013 PDP Annual Summary shows that over 99 percent of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances. Residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.23 percent of the samples tested. The PDP pesticide residue results are reported to FDA and EPA through monthly reports. In instances where a PDP finding is extraordinary and may pose a safety risk, FDA and EPA are immediately notified. EPA has determined the extremely low levels of those residues are not a food safety risk, and the presence of such residues does not pose a safety concern.”

This isn’t the most comforting news coming from an agency that is supposed to protect our food supply. Of course, as mentioned, it ins’t so surprising, The agency continuously approves new pesticides and GMO crops that are genetically engineered to withstand copious amounts of the toxic chemicals.

As one might expect, pesticides are in fact not safe to eat. Some of the effects of pesticides include:

  • Cancer – The dreaded diagnosis of cancer has been linked in over 260 studies worldwide to agrochemicals. Worse, scientists have linked pesticides with several types of cancers, including that of the breast, prostate, brain, bone, thyroid, colon, liver, lung, and more. Some researchers from USC found that “those who lived within 500 meters of places where methyl bromide, captan and eight other organochlorine pesticides had been applied, they found, were more likely to have developed prostate cancer.”
  • Obesity and Diabetes – Because pesticides have also been linked to obesity, it’s logical that it would be connected to diabetes, in which obesity often has a role. Some researchers found a higher prevalence of obesity in the participants with high urinary concentrations of a pesticide known as 2,5-dichlorophenol (2,5-DCP). It is important to note that 2,5-DCP is one of the most widely used pesticides on the globe.
  • Infertility, Birth Defects, Reproductive Problems – One study states“Exposure of men or women to certain pesticides at sufficient doses may increase the risk for sperm abnormalities, decreased fertility, a deficit of male children, spontaneous abortion, birth defects or fetal growth retardation.”
  • Deterioration in the Ecosystem and Environment – Pesticides can travel distances through the environment.  When sprayed on crops or in gardens, pesticides can be blown by the wind to other areas.  They can also flow with rain water into nearby streams or can seep through the soil into ground water.  Some pesticides can remain in the environment for many years and pass from one organism to another.

And all of these exposures have a cumulative effect, according to independent scientist Anthony Samsel and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientist Stephanie Seneff:

“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.

“Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”

What/s even more concerning is that the USDA didn’t test for glyphosate – the most widely used pesticide-chemical in the world. This is also the chemical found in Monsanto’s best-selling RoundUp herbicide.  Why, you may ask, is this widely used chemical not tested for? Because it is ‘too expensive.’

A USDA spokesperson said it did not test this past year for residues of glyphosate because the test measures required for glyphosate are “extremely expensive… to do on an regular basis”.

It is obvious that the USDA is simply succumbing to corporate lobbying and isn’t terribly interested in protecting the public from toxic chemicals.

Mike Barrett is the co-founder, editor, and researcher behind Natural Society. Studying the work of top natural health activists, and writing special reports for top 10 alternative health websites, Mike has written hundreds of articles and pages on how to obtain optimum wellness through natural health. 

Follow us: @naturalsociety on Twitter | NaturalSociety on Facebook

There is bi-partisan opposition in Congress to Fast Track and a large movement of movements mobilized to stop it.

The corporate media is reporting that since the Republican leadership and President Obama support Fast Track trade authority, it is a done deal. And that message, also heard by countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is driving the race to finalize that agreement.

The truth is: Fast Track is not a done deal. There is bi-partisan opposition in Congress and a large movement of movements organized to stop it.

Across the political spectrum there is mass opposition to fast tracking the secretly negotiated TPP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, aka TAFTA) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). People remember the impact of NAFTA on job loss, destruction of Mexican agriculture, expansion of inequality, environmental degradation and increased immigration. The most recent South Korean trade pact, which Obama touts as a success, is leading to similar results of lost jobs and an expanding US trade deficits.

Members of both parties know that Obama will be out of office when the negative impacts of these trade agreements are felt. Congress will be alone facing an angry electorate while Obama is raising money for his post-presidential career from the transnational corporations who get rich off these agreements at the expense of everyone else.

Conservative Opposition Grows In All Segments of Republican Party

On the conservative side of the political spectrum there is more organizing than ever. Breitbart reports a Fast Track bill faces conservative headwinds. The opposition as a “broad spectrum of the Republican Party” and represents “all three legs of the traditional Republican Party stool– national security, economics and faith-based.”

Breitbart quotes Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government expressing concern about the secrecy surrounding the trade agreements, a concern shared by colleagues across the spectrum, “we don’t know what’s in it. We do know that this is a huge grant of authority to President Obama.”

Dana Milbank writing for the Washington Post (a very pro-free trade publication) notes how for six years Republicans have railed about President Obama usurping power, and the irony of its leadership now wanting to give Obama massively expanded power through fast track. He highlights the Tea Party opposition to fast track and notes “roughly 30 House Republicans are already on record opposing the trade legislation.” The conservative activist base predicts that number is growing.

Conservatives have taken to calling the trade deals ObamaTrade and do not want to see the Congress give away its authority under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” Manning describes Fast Track as Congress “effectively tying its own hands.”

In a press statement quoting multiple conservative leaders, TheTeaParty.net leader Niger Innis builds on Manning’s point, describing Fast Track as ceding additional legislative powers to Obama that would be “a monumental failure of Congressional Republicans.”

These conservatives highlight Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitting Fast Track is “an enormous grant of power, obviously, from a Republican Congress to a Democratic president.” Manning described McConnell’s path as the opposite of what Congress should be doing, saying the legislation is “an ill-founded grant of trust to a President who has repeatedly shown that he has outright disdain for the legislative branch, rather than providing a speedy up or down vote, the Senate should examine every aspect of any treaty that is presented to ensure that American interests are advanced.”

Frank Gaffney, president and founder of the Center for Security Policy, told WND (World News Daily) that “We know the people bringing us this deal have a record of serial malfeasance with respect to negotiations. It would not only be the height of irresponsibility to essentially give the president a blank check, it would be something that makes the Congress complicit in the next bad deal if they give the president fast track authority.”

WND reported that at an event on Capitol Hill, Glyn Wright, executive director of the Eagle Forum, presented remarks from conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly. She blasted the Congressional move toward Fast Track as sending the wrong message saying “Fast track just legitimizes what the president has already done once again behind Congress’ back.”

Religious conservative, Sandy Rios, the director of government affairs for the American Family Association, emphasized opposition to the trade agreements because they undermine the traditional role of the United States in using its economic might to expand freedom around the world saying, “Wisdom dictates that America must use all means at its disposal to resist religious persecution anywhere it is found through the power of our God-given treasure and resources. It is for this reason that American Family Association opposes passage of fast track legislation that negates their ability to change the Trans-Pacific Partnership to end religious oppression in Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.”

WND reports that the coalition delivered a letter to Congress urging opposition to Fast Track. Further, the coalition promised “a robust effort to educate members of Congress and their constituents about the dangers of giving Obama yet more power.” In addition to those at the press conference, they report that others signing the group letter were Jenny Beth Martin, founder of Tea Party Patriots and Judson Philips of Tea Party Nation.

Conservatives, like progressives, want the trade agreements to be considered under regular order, which would allow for unlimited debate and amendments.

Largest Progressive Coalition Ever On Global Trade Opposes Fast Track

On January 8, a large coalition of progressive and liberal organizations joined with more than a dozen members of Congress to express opposition to Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America, described the coalition as “the largest coalition to ever oppose global trade agreements, representing tens of millions of Americans.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who is leading the opposition on the Democratic side in Congress, echoed Cohen’s view saying “This is one of the broadest advocacy coalitions that we’ve had. There is no reason why we should exacerbate the loss of jobs or lower wages in the United States.”

Opponents on the left argue “the president is asking for carte blanche to hammer out trade deals that would cost American jobs, weaken food safety and financial regulations, and undermine environmental and labor standards.”

When President Obama toured the country to discuss the economy he avoided mention of the trade agreements as he knows the Democratic base opposes them. But, even without mentioning them, people in Detroit took the opportunity of a presidential visit to express their anger.

Politico reports that even before he landed, Obama was being attacked by labor, Hill Democrats and others in his base for his call for new trade deals.  Reuters reports that local officials say “the Korean free trade agreement has helped that country’s auto industry significantly more than the U.S. sector.” They told the president that “trade agreements would hurt manufacturing jobs like those in the resurgent auto industry.”

The White House has touted the South Korean trade pact as the type of agreement Obama wants to see. The facts: in its first two years, the pact resulted in $7.6 billion increase in the trade deficit with South Korea and the loss of 50,000 jobs. Perhaps the president is making the mistake of believing the false and misleading statements of the US Trade RepresentativeLori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said “The fact that the Korea deal has resulted in a worse trade deficit and more lost jobs has had a very chilling effect on public and congressional support for the TPP and Fast Track….”

The AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka said unions oppose the trade deals and will put resources into a campaign to stop Fast Track. Celeste Drake, the AFL-CIO’s policy specialist for trade and international economics, told Politico there’s no way to make an argument both for a major international trade deal and for American workers, as Obama is attempting to do, adding:

“If you’re serious about reviving U.S. manufacturing and raising wages for America’s workers, the last thing you want is yet another race-to-the-bottom trade agreement that doesn’t empower workers, it empowers companies to offshore jobs. And you fight fast track — the process that guarantees that bad trade deals become law — tooth and nail.”

When trade negotiators gathered in Washington, DC in early December they were protested by a broad coalition of groups. The day of protests began with a Popular Resistance blockade of the US Trade Reps building calling for release of the text and opposing Fast Track. Eyes on Trade reports: “hundreds of activists from labor, environmental, consumer, human rights, public health, Internet freedom, faith and family farm activists joined concerned citizens to loudly make their voices heard outside of the secretive negotiations.” The cry heard from the protest was “No Fast Track now, No Fast Track ever!  The TPP is a lost endeavor!”

Eyes on Trade further reports:

“Fast Track faces widespread opposition in the U.S. Congress and among the U.S. public.  Though a Fast Track bill was tabled about one year ago, it has gone nowhere due to massive opposition from most Democrats and a sizeable bloc of Republicans.  This past September, nearly 600 organizations sent a letter opposing Fast Track to Chair Ron Wyden.  A poll earlier this year found that 62 percent of U.S. voters oppose Fast Tracking the TPP.”

Indeed, a year ago when the Congress considered Fast Track there was a massive outpouring of opposition. Congress received more than 40,000 phone calls and 600,000 emails opposing Fast Track in ten days. More than 100 organizations joined the Stop Fast Track coalition, 5.4 million users were reached in a social media “Thunderclap” and 50 rallies and protests were held in the US, Canada and Mexico.

In November 2014, the opposition to TPP grew significantly when the world’s largest trade union, the International Trade Union Confederation representing 176 million workers added their voice to the growing list of organizations and individuals speaking out against the trade pact. They urged that the negotiations be stopped and a transparent process be developed before they begin again.

In November, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit there were protests held around the world against TPP. In the United States, a broad coalition of labor unions, environmental, consumer, faith, online, and other groups assembled on Capitol Hill to deliver 713,674 petition signatures opposing Fast Track. Eyes on Trade reporting on these worldwide protests says “The message of citizens across the globe is clear: we are not willing to accept a ‘trade’ deal negotiated in secret in the interest of corporations and at the expense of our rights to safety, democracy, and health.”

Opposition Will Grow, Fast Track Will Be Defeated

President Obama will be urging action on Fast Track in his upcoming State of the Union address, bringing national attention to trade agreements shrouded in secrecy. As more people learn about these agreements opposition will grow across the political spectrum. There will be an immediate reaction of tens of thousands contacting Congress to oppose Fast Track and secretive trade deals.

Dave Johnson has a preview of the State of the Union and a response to what Obama is expected to say. He notes that Obama plans to have an owner of a small business that has increased exports to South Korea. This will be a false story as the opposite is more common. On the specific point of small business, Johnson writes:

“The KORUS FTA has hit American small businesses harder than large ones. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, small firms with fewer than 100 employees saw exports to Korea drop 14 percent while firms with more than 500 employees saw exports decline by 3 percent.”

The State of the Union will be followed by Congress holding hearings on Fast Track at the end of January. Congress is likely to introduce legislation on Fast Track shortly after that. This will galvanize opposition and members of Congress will realize they are risking their careers if they support giving this authority to President Obama. They will understand that these ‘NAFTA on steroid’ agreements risk their political futures.

The arguments are on our side. Public Citizen published a report reviewing the 20 year history of these corporate trade agreements. The data paint an ugly picture:

Trade deficits have exploded, growing more than 440 percent with countries with Fast Tracked trade pacts. Since Fast Track was used for NAFTA and the WTO, the U.S. goods trade deficit has more than quadrupled, from $216 billion to $870 billion.

-  Good American jobs were destroyed; nearly 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs – one in four – were lost since the Fast Tracking NAFTA.

U.S. wages have stagnated and inequality has soared with three of every five manufacturing workers who lost a job finding reemployment with pay cuts, one in three losing greater than 20 percent, according to the Labor Department. U.S. wages have barely increased in real terms since 1974 – the year that Fast Track was first enacted – despite American worker productivity doubling.

-  U.S. food exports have stagnated while food imports have doubled under NAFTA and the WTO. The average annual U.S. agricultural deficit with Canada and Mexico under NAFTA’s first two decades reached $975 million, almost three times the pre-NAFTA level. Approximately 170,000 small U.S. family farms have gone under since NAFTA and WTO took effect.

This is a hard record to defend. Congress will be made aware of the failure of corporate trade agreements and warned that they will be the ones paying the political price. Congress needs to live up to its constitutional duty and oppose Fast Track and examine these agreements closely.

These trade agreements are game changers for climate justice. People can work to stop extreme energy extraction or create a new energy economy in the face of climate change, but if these treaties become law, their efforts will have been in vain and their successes reversed.

The same is true for Internet activists who are working to ensure a free and open Internet. All of the work on raising wages will be undone by trade agreements that allow corporations to sue for expected lost profit from laws passed in the public interest.

On issue after issue, if we fail to stop these trade agreements, it will be a major setback. The only way these agreements can become law is through secret negotiations in league with transnational corporations followed by Congress giving up its constitutional responsibility and not having a democratic and transparent review process. Stopping Fast Track is the essential task ahead.

A major opportunity to show our opposition to Fast Track and stop these trade agreements will be in New York City. A meeting of trade negotiators for the TPP has been scheduled for Jan. 26-Feb. 1. It will take place at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in midtown Manhattan. They are pushing hard to complete the negotiations and a protest at this event will let trade negotiators know that the people say “No Fast Track, no way, not ever, not today.”

Click here for more information about what you can do to stop Fast Track.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are co-directors of Popular Resistance.

The Western democracies have a real problem with the concept of “freedom of speech”. Their hypocrisy and double standards know no borders. The inflicted state terrorism of the West against Muslims in the Middle East or non-white peoples in Africa or elsewhere is boundless. But when these downtrodden victims of Western genocidal attacks fight back, they are called “terrorists”. Insults and incitement against Muslims and their prophet Mohammad falls allegedly under the concept of freedom of speech, which is assumed unlimited, however, when this noble concept is used against the atrocities committed by the Zionist occupying regime in Palestine or its US master, it’s considered a “crime” by the French judiciary.

Maurice Sinet, who worked as a political cartoonist for “Charlie Hebdo” for 20 years, was fired in 2009 for his “anti-Semitic” cartoon mocking the relationship of Nicolas Sarkozy’s son, Jean, with a wealthy Jewish woman. Commenting on rumors that Jean considered to convert to Judaism out of carrier reasons, Maurice Sinet quipped: ““He’ll go a long way in life, that little lad.” He was charged of “inciting racial hatred”. After the journalist Claude Askolovitch thought, Sinet’s article was anti-Semitic, then editor in chief, Philippe Val, demanded an apology from Sinet. He refused saying: “I’d rather cut my balls off.” He lost his job. One of the many Zionist front Organizations took him to court, and Sinet won a 40, 000 Euro court judgment against his former publisher.

I’m Maurice Sinet – “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”

The controversial French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala posted on facebook “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”. An investigation by the Paris prosecutor’s office followed immediately, and two days later, Wednesday 14 January, he was arrested for exercising his right of freedom of speech. His shows are banned because of being “anti-Semitic”. With the approval of the French government freedom of expression can be utilized, but if it doesn’t fit into the prevailing political concept of the ruling political and media class, one has a problem.

The “protest march of millions” in Paris, “led” by 40 big shots, was a fake. The heads of states did not lead the march, instead they flew in for a photo op on a hermetically sealed street. No wonder that US President Obama did not want to waste his time for such a gimmick. Many of these heads of states fight against freedom of speech in their own countries. Was this the only manipulation by the corporate media?

The circumstances of the terror attack at “Charlie Hebdo” raises more questions that it has answered so far. The cold-blooded assassination of police officer Ahmed Merabet at point-blank range did not cause a single blood splatter on the sidewalk. In the assassination of John F. Kennedy, however, there was blood and brain all over the car. How come that the attack by the Kouachi brothers and their getaway were filmed from roof tops? Who were these people and who stationed them there? Do people take their IDs with them, when going on a deadly rampage? But the world knows already that it’s possible to find a brand-new passport besides the pulverized twin towers in New York City. Like the 9/11 hijackers, the perpetrators of the Paris atrocities were known within minutes.

Also the anti-terror raids in Belgium produced explosions and a burning apartment but no perpetrators. In Germany, suspects were arrested in camera. The Paris terror attakcs will be used by the local governments to crack down on civil liberties and bring the European governments in line with Washington’s expansionist and deadly policy in the Middle East, against Russia and Africa.

By the way, did the Kouachi brothers know, when they committed themselves to “Al-Qaeda”, that the CIA invented the term in order to subsume all the “mujahedeen freedom fighters” against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan? Didn’t US President Carter’s security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski  not only meet with Osama bin Laden but also posed with a Kalashnikov with these so-called freedom fighters for a photo op and told them the following:

“We know of their deep belief in God, and we are confident their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours, you’ll go back to it one day because your fight will prevail, and you’ll have your homes and your mosques back again. Because your cause is right and God is on your side.” How come that within few years these religious people turned into terrorist?

The US and other Western so-called “Friends of Syria” have created, in cooperation with the Gulf dictatorships, Islamist gangs of mercenaries who lead the imperialist war by proxy. Nobody knows who hires these jihadist fighters. Are they following NATO or Salafist propaganda? Although these mercenaries still risk their lives in the struggle of the West against the Assad regime, they are misused by Western propaganda in order to present them to the domestic audience as an “Islamic threat”.

After the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, the “Islamic threat” as a permanent tool of war propaganda that has been implanted into the consciousness of the peoples of the West. If the West does not turn away from this wrong track, he will continue to expose its populations to “Islamist threats”. Western policies and media reporting over parts of the Muslim world are totally irresponsible and should be corrected.

Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual blog “Between the lines”. http://between-the-lines-ludwig-watzal.blogspot.de/

Kiev Planning Full-Scale War on Donbas

January 19th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

State-sponsored terror threatens Europe.

Initiated post-Paris killings. On the pretext of fighting nonexistent homegrown terrorism. At the same time, MSM ignore Kiev’s ceasefire hoax.

Ongoing dirty war rages in Europe’s heartland. Donbas residents attacked. Civilian neighborhoods shelled. Killing defenseless men, women and children in cold blood.

Kiev continues mobilizing for escalated conflict. On January 16, Itar Tass headlined “New spate of drafting to Ukrainian Armed Forces (for) full-scale war in Europe.”

Saying increased mobilization “testifies to Kiev’s plans to suppress resistance in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics by force.”

According to Academy of Geopolitical Problems president Konstantin Sivkov:

“Yet another drafting to the Armed Forces declared in Ukraine now proves that all the talking about willingness for peace in the southeast of the country on the part of president Petro Poroshenko is little more than a cover-up aimed at getting a pause prior to a major offensive on the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.”

“At present, the Ukrainian Army doesn’t have enough manpower or resources to guarantee victory over the self-defense forces but Poroshenko obviously hopes to accumulate enough strength and to destroy the rebellious republics by spring.”

Unanimously passed US Ukraine Freedom Support Act (UFSA) of 2014 authorizes lethal and non-lethal aid.

Besides what Washington already supplies. Covertly since conflict began. Including stingers, anti-tank missiles, anti-armor weapons and other heavy weapons.

Britain supplies weapons and munitions. So do other NATO countries. According to Sivkov:

“There’s hardly any doubt as regards Kiev’s craving to regain control over Donbas through the use of arms, since the region concentrates the biggest manufacturing potential and natural resources – mostly coal – found in Ukraine.”

“…Donbas and Novorossia…make up a buffer zone between Russia and Ukraine, while the American masters of the incumbent Kiev rulers need to eliminate that buffer zone by fair means and foul and to turn it into a springboard for destabilizing Russia.”

“These plans of the Kiev government, which is drawing on Washington’s support, (involve) full-scale war in the center of Europe.”

Russian lower house State Duma Education Committee chairman Vyacheslav Nikonov said Ukraine’s “new spate of drafting (into its) army (isn’t) conventional…”

Its “mobilization means preparations for war.” Poroshenko is “playing out the scenario of a future war in this manner.”

He’s complicit with “US plans to fan tensions in the region as a method of struggle with Russia.”

“Russia won’t be able to watch the plight of citizens of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics placidly because the Russians never let their relatives or friends down.”

“Once in the past, the US lost the Vietnam war because Russia – then the Soviet Union – gave aid to the brotherly Vietnamese people and that’s a lesson not to be forgotten.”

Ruthless fascists run Ukraine. Waging war on freedom. Threatening Europe’s heartland.

Potentially destabilizing the entire continent. Waging dirty war.

Committing horrendous crimes of war and against humanity.

Spokesperson Lily Rodionov for the Committee for Refugees reported rebel and noncombatant Donbas prisoners held by Ukraine were brutally treated.

Saying “(a)lmost all the people come back with broken ribs, arms, legs, torn teeth…One man received eight bullet wounds. He was even in the hospital beaten, shoved his fingers into the wound.”

“Teeth pulled out with pliers. Bute in wound sites. Many people with a fractured skull…(E)lectroshock” used. “Someone thrown into a pit with corpses, crushed excavator bucket, soldering iron thrust into his mouth.”

“People were kept in iron containers without air. Sophisticated torture, scary – people maimed.”

They don’t “have medical care, even diabetics. Our prisoners can be distinguished by the color of the skin. (G)rayish.” One Committee member said:

“I know of cases where people sprinkled powder on the genitals, branded with hot iron, shot in front of the other, were sent to the minefield was loaded tractor bucket to the ground, left to spend the night in the pits with corpses. Fed them mostly just water and bread.”

Obama’s new friends are ruthless criminals. Cold-blooded killers. Washington funds them. Provides political support. Wants dirty war on Donbas continued.

Encourages it. On January 15, Donetsk Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko reported finding caches of “American-produced weaponry” at Donetsk’s airport. Discovered after Ukrainian forces pulled out.

Illegitimate Ukrainian oligarch president Petro Poroshenk’s so-called “silence regime” is one of his many Big Lies.

Fighting never stopped. Kiev bears full responsibility. Supported and encouraged by Washington.

Russia calls Ukrainian ruling authorities a “party of war.” Peace is pure fantasy. Talks to end conflict more ruse than real.

On January 16, Fort Russ reported Ukrainian forces sustaining “stunning” losses. Lugansk People’s Republic commander of an LPR unit explained ongoing operations.

Saying “(e)verything’s going well…Ukrainian forces are taking stunning losses both in manpower and material.”

Itar Tass said “(a)ll Ukrainian troops…withdr(ew) from the territory of the Donetsk international airport.” Citing the Donetsk News Agency.

According to DPR’s defense ministry, “no Ukrainian servicemen (remain) at the new terminal of the airport.”

“They have abandoned their positions and have withdrawn seeing no point in further resistance.”

On Friday, DPR Prime Minister Zakharchenko promised to send the Ukrainian flag left behind to Poroshenko.

Saying “(t)hose people who have been killed at the airport because of you have the right to take in the flag and remember that it was you who had send them there to die.”

“Let this flag be passed over to the mothers whose sons were killed at the airport” in vain.

Obama bears full responsibility. Arming, funding and conspiring with Kiev fascists’ dirty on on their own people.

Targeting democracy. Wanting it crushed. Wanting hardline rule replacing it.

Washington’s dirty hands manipulating what’s ongoing. Using Ukraine as a pretext. Russia the real target. Regime change the objective.

Dirty war without mercy continues. Fort Russ reported “Ukrainian volunteers” saying they’re used as “cannon fodder…”

OUN Battalion’s Vladislav Goranin was quoted saying Kiev officials “do not understand the seriousness of what’s happening.”

“We are cannon fodder, tinned meat.” Another volunteer group called Lemko said Ukrainian artillery fired in an unknown direction.

“(A)mmunition supply situation is very poor. It is almost entirely exhausted.”

These and similar comments reflect morale among Ukrainian forces perhaps near a breaking point.

At the same time, increased mobilization suggests escalated conflict coming. New “cannon fodder” used to wage it.

Using mostly conscripted forces. Ordinary Ukrainians want no part of war. Especially against their own people.

Forced into combat against their will. Threatened with reprisals for refusing.

On January 16, Fort Russ said “(i)n five days (of fighting), the Ukrainian army lost 25% of its first-line equipment, up to 2,000 wounded.”

“Reinforcements are moving up. The fight for Novotoshkovka is continuing. The militia at the 31st checkpoint is taking significant losses.”

One LPR freedom fighter described things as follows:

“I’m at the 31st checkpoint. I feel sadness. Overnight there was a pitched battle, we lost many of our brothers.”

“But they did not push us out of the checkpoint. The Ukrainian army threw their last reserves but had to withdraw. We have about 15 killed and 50 wounded.”

Fort Russ cited intelligence reports indicating Ukraine’s front line was reinforced. New equipment arrived.

Kiev forces failed to penetrate an area near Debaltsevo. Heavy fire was reported.

Artillery inflicted most casualties. Freedom fighters continue attacking “the entire Ukrainian front line” in self-defense.

“Ukrainians are sitting in shelters for the second day. Their army tried to take Novotoshkovka, but we held out and are fighting near the village.”

“The Ukrainian army is too weak to attack, so they are trying to reach a settlement, but after an almost whole year of war we know they can’t be believed. We fire without respite!”

On January 15, DPR parliament speaker Denis Pushilin called ongoing conditions “acute.”

Kiev forces “are carrying out provocations…” Donetsk was bombarded.

“We want to end it at the negotiating table even if it means doing things which are unpopular with the population, namely negotiating,” said Pushilin.

“We know the cost of human life. We know what one day of war can do, how much damage it causes, and the irreversible consequences, in terms of loss of life and health, so it is very important to us that we find compromises.”

At the same time, he stressed no abandonment of Novorossia’s freedom struggle. No surrender to Kiev fascist rule. “(S)imply impossible,” he said.

“(W) are not fighting against Ukrainians…(O)nly against the government which came to power as a result of an armed coup and which is now committing violations.”

“(W)e are not aggressors, occupiers. We’re not about to force anyone to become part of us, support us.”

“We don’t think it’s proper to force any group…to join us because then we’d become just like” Kiev fascists.

Kiev launched aggression continues. Escalated conflict looms. Expect lots more death and destruction.

Fascist regimes operate this way. Civilians always suffer most.

MSM scoundrels ignore their suffering. Supporting Kiev’s dirty war. Naked aggression. Instead of denouncing it forthrightly.

On January 15, Itar Tass reported DPR Prime Minister Zakharchenko saying Kiev forces used chemical weapons in attacking Donetsk’s airport.

After shells burst, “a pungent cloud of gas spread across the old terminal,” he said.

“They are firing banned munitions in breach of the Geneva Convention. (It’s) impossible to breath” in the line of fire.

Try finding a single MSM report discussing this. Similar earlier incidents.

Kiev’s systematic use of banned weapons. Atrocities committed. Prisoners tortured. Most held are noncombatant civilians.

State terror against millions of Donbas residents. Mobilization for escalated conflict.

Hardline rule affecting all Ukrainians. Fascist governance harming everyone.

Destabilizing an entire region. Confronting Russia irresponsibly. Risking the unthinkable.

Possible East/West nuclear war. Vital to prevent at all costs. Otherwise all bets are off.

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.

Netanyahu and Europe’s Far Right Find Common Ground

January 19th, 2015 by Jonathan Cook

Israel has been having its own internal debate about the significance of the Paris killings this month, with concerns quite separate from those being expressed in Europe.

While Europeans are mired in debates about free speech and the role of Islam in secular societies, Israelis generally – and their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in particular – view the attacks as confirming Israel’s place as the only safe haven for Jews around the world.

The 17 deaths in Paris have reinforced Israeli suspicions that Europe, with its rapidly growing Muslim population, is being dragged into a clash of civilisations that it is ill-equipped to combat. More specifically, the targeting of a kosher supermarket that killed four Jews has heightened a belief that Jews outside Israel are in mortal danger.

If surveys are to be believed, such anxieties are shared in Europe’s Jewish communities. One published last week found that 56 per cent of British Jews think anti-semitism in Britain now is comparable to the 1930s.

As one calmer Israeli analyst pointed out, the findings suggested “a disconnect from reality which borders on hysteria”.

Such fears have been stoked by images like the one posted on Facebook last week by the Israeli embassy in Dublin, showing the Mona Lisa wearing a hijab and carrying a large rocket. The line underneath read: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world.”

In similar vein, the Arab affairs correspondent on Israel’s Channel 10 broadcast a fear-mongering “investigation” from London supposedly proving that the city was overrun with jihadis.

The hysteria is echoed by Israeli politicians, not least Mr Netanyahu. Since the Paris attacks, he has repeated warnings of a “poisonous” Islam conquering the West – ignoring the reality that Europe, including France, is far safer for Jews than Israel has proved.

Politicians on both the left and right have parroted his message that European Jews know “in their hearts that they have only one country”. Israel apparently persuaded the families of the four Jewish victims of that: they were flown to Israel to be buried in Jerusalem.

In contrast, the burial in Paris of Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim policeman also killed by the gunmen, sent a message of French unity, noted a French Jewish leader. This was the moment, he added, for his community to say: “We will be buried here, just like everyone else. We are French and we have not given up.”

Mr Netanyahu has other ideas. At a time when the number of Jewish migrants from France is already rocketing, he has established a ministerial committee to find ways to induce yet more to come to Israel.

It was widely reported in Israel that the French president, Francois Hollande, had appealed to Mr Netanyahu not to participate in the solidarity rally in Paris a week ago, fearful that he would use the occasion to exacerbate tensions in France. Mr Netanyahu ignored the request.

He had good reason to want to be there, not least to grandstand with world leaders during Israel’s election campaign. In addition, proselytising for his claim that the so-called Judeo-Christian West is on a collision course with Islam usefully places him on the side of the angels as he tries to build a Greater Israel, crushing Palestinian ambitions for statehood.

But it would be wrong to view Mr Netanyahu’s argument as solely opportunistic. It is underpinned by an authentic worldview, even if one with paradoxical antecedents.

His approach is embodied in recent efforts – delayed because of the election – to pass a basic law defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. That would crown Mr Netanyahu leader of Jews worldwide rather than of Israeli citizens, a fifth of whom are Palestinian.

Such a conception of citizenship and nationhood is based on ethnicity, not territory. It opposes multiculturalism, believing instead that loyalty to the state derives from a tribal attachment rather than a civic one. It stands in stark opposition to most European countries’ notions of citizenship.

As a result, the Israeli leadership assumes that all Palestinians, including those who are Israeli citizens, cannot be trusted and that there can never be real peace in the region. That is why Israel has been building iron walls everywhere to create a fortress Jewish state.

But the logical corollary is that Jews too cannot be loyal to the other states they live in, such as France. In Mr conception, a Jew’s primary bond should be to their “true home”: the Jewish state of Israel.

Paradoxically, that view is shared by Europe’s far-right, including groups like France’s National Front, whose popularity has been growing on the back of attacks like the one in Paris. They argue that minorities are inherently suspect and that Europe is better off without them.

In this regard, Mr Netanyahu and the far-right share much common ground. He wants a Europe free of Jews – as well as Muslims who undermine Europe’s support for Israel – because he thinks that is in Jewish interests. The far-right wants the same because it believes it will be in the interests of a supposed “native” white majority.

One Israeli commentator noted pointedly that Israeli politicians like Mr Netanyahu were helping to “finish the job started by the Nazis and their Vichy collaborators: making France Judenrein”.

In calling for Jews to flee after the Paris attacks, Mr Netanyahu is bolstering the dangerous arguments of Europe’s far-right.

Arrests Follow Terror Raids across Europe

January 18th, 2015 by Chris Marsden

Terror raids have been mounted in Belgium, France and Germany in the aftermath of the January 7 assault on the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

In Belgium, two suspects were shot dead by police and another seriously wounded in the town of Verviers, near the border with Germany. Thirteen arrests were made, with nine suspects held in raids in Molembeek, two in Brussels, one in Berchem, one in Verviers, and two in France. All three Verviers gunmen were Belgian nationals recently returned from Syria.

The centre of Verviers and its train station were sealed off Thursday by heavily armed police, who tried to enter a flat above a bakery. Witnesses said they heard a series of explosions at 5:45pm and sustained gunfire.

Special police units carried out at least a dozen raids elsewhere in four districts with predominantly immigrant neighbourhoods. A total of 10 search warrants were issued. Police reported that two more suspects had been arrested after a car chase and gunfight in the city of Liege.

Authorities claim they had moved to dismantle an active terror cell spanning Belgium and France that was planning an “imminent” attack targeting police officers and various buildings in Belgium. Eric van der Sijpt, a federal magistrate, said, “The suspects immediately and for several minutes opened fire with military weaponry and handguns on the special units of the federal police before they were neutralised.”

Police sources said earlier that they had resolved to launch the pre-emptive operation a fortnight ago, i.e., before the Charlie Hebdo attacks, after bugging the homes and cars of the men recently returned from fighting in Syria. “I can confirm that we started this investigation before the attacks in Paris,” Van Der Sypt said. No link had been established with the Paris attack, he insisted.

The authorities and the media are deliberately downplaying or concealing the wealth of information on the perpetrators, including the gunmen who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack, known by European and US intelligence and police officials in advance of the attacks and alleged plots.

Belgian police this week acknowledged that Kalashnikovs and a rocket launcher used in the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket attacks, as well as the Tokarev handgun used by Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman in the Kosher market attack, had been purchased from Belgian criminal gangs. The information is highly specific. Coulibaly is said to have bought the weapons near the Gare du Midi in Brussels.

Neetin Farasula, from Charleroi, is in detention after he handed himself over to police Tuesday. He admits being in contact with Coulibaly.

In another example of cross-border operations, French national Mehdi Nemmouche last May killed four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels after having fought in Syria the previous year. He was caught by French police in Marseille.

A court case is underway in Antwerp involving 43 men and three women alleged to be members of Sharia4Belgium, which is linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

This week, Europol Director Rob Wainwright told British MPs that the names of 2,500 Islamist suspects had been collected from agencies across European Union member states.

In France, 12 people were arrested in anti-terrorism raids targeting people linked to Coulibaly. A spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office, Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, said the arrests began overnight Thursday and continued in three towns Friday morning. Those arrested included the man who supplied a car to Coulibaly, identified based on DNA found in the car.

The Gare de l’Est train station in Paris was evacuated for an hour Friday morning after an alleged bomb threat. This occurred on the day US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Paris, mending fences with President François Hollande after President Barack Obama’s failure to attend the memorial rally for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Another incident Friday afternoon involved a gunman who took two people hostage in a post office in Colombes, a suburb of Paris. The man was arrested after giving himself up to police and releasing the hostages unharmed. He was reportedly carrying a military weapon that he told police was a Kalashnikov.

Friday saw prominent media reports that several French national media web sites, including L’Express, Le Parisien and France Inter, experienced technical problems traced to a common service provider, Oxalide. About 19,000 French web sites have been hit by cyberattacks in the wake of the Paris shootings, according to Arnaud Coustilliere, head of cyber-defence for the French military. Military authorities have reportedly launched round-the-clock surveillance to protect government sites.

On Friday morning, in Berlin, 250 police were involved in dawn raids on 11 premises, leading to the arrest of two men suspected of helping to recruit for the Islamic State in Syria. One, Ismet D, a 41-year-old man, was suspected of “leading an Islamist extremist group made up of Turkish and Russian nationals from Chechnya and Dagestan,” the police said.

On Thursday, police in Wolfsburg, about 200 kilometres west of Berlin, took a 26-year-old German-Tunisian dual national, Ayub B, into custody on suspicion he had fought in Syria for the Islamic State in 2014.

The ruling elite have lost no time in using the raids to whip up a climate of fear and justify demands for further repressive powers for the state.

Jewish schools in Brussels and Antwerp were closed and classes cancelled after officials said they were a “potential target” for attack. The Cheider school, the only Orthodox Jewish school in the Netherlands, was also closed.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced new legislation making traveling abroad for terrorist activists punishable by law, expanding the reasons for Belgian citizenship to be revoked for dual nationals deemed to be a terror risk, freezing assets of those suspected of aiding terror and, most importantly, authorizing the calling in of the army domestically.

In France, up to 100 people are now under investigation for making or posting comments supporting or justifying terrorism—with some sentences of years in prison already summarily handed out.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved a draft bill Wednesday to allow the authorities to withdraw the national identity cards of suspected extremists to prevent them from traveling abroad.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is in the United States seeking the support of President Obama for his own raft of repressive measures. His visit was preceded by former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair speaking at a private strategy session of Republican senators. Introduced by Senator John McCain, he stressed that, “a substantial and not a fringe minority” of Muslims supported fundamentalism, which must be opposed by “force.”

CIA Panel Whitewashes Spying on US Senate

January 18th, 2015 by Thomas Gaist

Wednesday saw the public release of a report produced by the CIA “accountability board” appointed by CIA Director John Brennan to review the agency’s spying on the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) as it prepared its report on the CIA torture program.

The board, headed by former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh and including a top Obama White House aide as well as three CIA agents hand-picked by Brennan, was established to investigate the spying operation. The board completed the report in December, but the document was not released until this week.

The “independent” board exonerated five CIA agents who spied on Senate staffers of any wrongdoing, and held that the agents were acting in “good faith” to defend national security. These conclusions contradicted the views of members of the Senate’s investigative team, who said during interviews with the board that they believed the CIA violated US law as well as a “common understanding” arrived at with the agency at the outset of the investigation.

CIA spying on the Senate was “reasonable” and the CIA officers who carried out the hacking and spying operation should not face any punishment, according to the review board’s report, officially titled the “Final Report of the Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Network Agency Accountability Board.”

The board reported that during several days in January 2014, agents “searched the SSCI-side of RDINet and reviewed SSCI-related REDACTED,” taking three “looks” at the Senate-side of the RDINet system over a period of several days.

Beginning on January 9, 2014, agents searched the Senate side of the network for various words and acronyms in an effort to locate material related to internal CIA documents known as the “Panetta review,” prepared in 2009 for then-Director Leon Panetta, the report states.

In what appear to be redacted references to Brennan and senior decision-makers within the CIA and executive branch, the report states that an unnamed top official believed that the agency had a “legal duty” to search the Senate’s torture research servers.

“REDACTED has maintained that the Agency’s obligations under the National Security Act created a legal duty to search the SSCI side of RDInet,” the report states.

“REDACTED in discussions with REDACTED made the decision to find out if SSCI staff had access to… documents that were deemed privileged.”

The agents involved “acted reasonably under the complex and unprecedented circumstances involved in investigating a potential security breach in the highly classified shared computer network,” the report found.

During one of the “looks,” agents enjoyed “inappropriate access to SSCI work product” and viewed several emails between Senate staffers, the report acknowledges. But it claims that the agency had a legitimate national security concern for its investigation and that it was overseen at the agency’s highest levels. The agents conducting the spying engaged in “regular dialogue with [CIA] leadership as events unfolded.”

Agents “improperly accessed” communications between Senate staff while searching through computer drives being used by the SSCI personnel to investigate the torture programs, the report acknowledged. The report claims that director Brennan did not intend for his carte blanche authorization to extend this far.

Any notion that the Senate research was guaranteed against CIA monitoring was erroneous, the review board claims. The CIA “routinely and without controversy searched the SSCI side of RDINet for CIA documents,” the report claims, as part of routine security procedures. Moreover, there was no “signed agreement between the SSCI and Agency on the definition of work product.”

The report acknowledges that the CIA violated what it called an informal agreement with the Senate committee by spying on emails sent between the Senate research team members. Still, these actions were “reasonable” in light of the security threat posed by the acquisition of the Panetta report by the Senate staffers, the review board found.

In a concise expression of the authoritarian outlook guiding the intelligence bureaucracy, the CIA review board essentially claimed that there is no reliable standard to determine the legality or illegality of CIA operations.

“The [accountability] board noted the difficulty of identifying the most appropriate, reasonable, proper course of action for this security incident because nearly every such course is open to objection or question,” the CIA panel wrote, referring to its own deliberations.

In a paragraph in bold type stating the report’s “General Conclusion” on the matter, the accountability board found: “SSCI staffers were, or should have been aware of, CIA’s REDACTED monitoring of RDINet for security purposes.

“In fact, CIA had previously accessed REDACTED collected from the SSCi side of RDINet when security concerns arose,” the authors concluded.

The CIA has resisted and sought to hamper investigations of the spying operation in every possible manner, as evidence cited in the report illustrates. According to the report, three of the CIA officers “demonstrated a lack of candor during their first interviews with the OIG (Office of the Inspector General) because they did not disclose actions they took on behalf of the two OGC officers,” the board admits. These officers “failed to disclose” actions that they took under orders from the two senior CIA personnel overseeing the operation, the CIA board found.

The board fails to address the obvious question of why the CIA was so determined to suppress the Panetta review. The supposed purpose of RDINet was to provide the Senate Intelligence Committee with “full, un-redacted access to millions of the Agency’s most sensitive operational materials,” according to the CIA review board.

Why then was the crucial Panetta report “pulled” from the SSCI drive, out of millions of highly sensitive documents purportedly being made available? The likely explanation is that the report was pulled because it revealed aspects of the torture programs that are denied or covered up in the official CIA response to the Senate inquiry.

The review board also did not consider an earlier breach of Senate committee staff computers in May 2010, during which 926 documents were removed, supposedly because Brennan did not ask them to include that in its investigation.

 This article was first published on August 1, 2010

“It isn’t just conspiracy theorists who are concerned about HAARP. The European Union called the project a global concern and passed a resolution calling for more information on its health and environmental risks. Despite those concerns, officials at HAARP insist the project is nothing more sinister than a radio science research facility.”
– Quote from a TV documentary on HAARP by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) is a little-known, yet critically important U.S. military defense program which has generated quite a bit of controversy over the years in certain circles. Though denied by HAARP officials, some respected researchers allege that secret electromagnetic warfare capabilities of HAARP are designed to forward the US military’s stated goal of achieving full-spectrum dominance by the year 2020. Others go so far as to claim that HAARP can and has been used for weather modification, to cause earthquakes and tsunamis, to disrupt global communications systems, and more.

Major aspects of the program are kept secret for alleged reasons of “national security.” Yet there is no doubt that HAARP and electromagnetic weapons capable of being used in warfare do exist. According to the official HAARP website, “HAARP is a scientific endeavor aimed at studying the properties and behavior of the ionosphere, with particular emphasis on being able to understand and use it to enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and defense purposes.” The ionosphere is the delicate upper layer of our atmosphere which ranges from about 30 miles (50 km) to 600 miles (1,000 km) above the surface of the Earth.

The HAARP website acknowledges that experiments are conducted which use electromagnetic frequencies to fire pulsed, directed energy beams in order to “temporarily excite a limited area of the ionosphere.” Some scientists state that purposefully disturbing this sensitive layer could have major and even disastrous consequences. Concerned HAARP researchers like Dr. Michel Chossudovsky of the University of Ottawa and Alaska’s Dr. Nick Begich (son of a US Congressman) present evidence suggesting that these disturbances can even cause tsunamis and earthquakes.

Two key major media documentaries, one by Canada’s public broadcasting network CBC and the other by the History Channel, reveal the inner workings of HAARP in a most powerful way. The very well researched CBC documentary includes this key quote:

“It isn’t just conspiracy theorists who are concerned about HAARP. In January of 1999, the European Union called the project a global concern and passed a resolution calling for more information on its health and environmental risks. Despite those concerns, officials at HAARP insist the project is nothing more sinister than a radio science research facility.”

To view the European Union (EU) document which brings HAARP and similar electromagnetic weapons into question, click here. The actual wording at bullet point 24 in this telling document states that the EU “considers HAARP by virtue of its far-reaching impact on the environment to be a global concern and calls for its legal, ecological and ethical implications to be examined by an international independent body before any further research and testing.” This reveling document further states that the EU regrets the repeated refusal of the U.S. government to send anyone to give evidence on HAARP.

To watch this engaging 15-minute CBC documentary online, click here. For an even more detailed and revealing 45-minute History Channel documentary on HAARP and other secret weapons used for electromagnetic warfare, click here. Below are two quotes from the History Channel documentary:

“Electromagnetic weapons … pack an invisible wallop hundreds of times more powerful than the electrical current in a lightning bolt. One can blast enemy missiles out of the sky, another could be used to blind soldiers on the battlefield, still another to control an unruly crowd by burning the surface of their skin. If detonated over a large city, an electromagnetic weapon could destroy all electronics in seconds. They all use directed energy to create a powerful electromagnetic pulse.”

“Directed energy is such a powerful technology it could be used to heat the ionosphere to turn weather into a weapon of war. Imagine using a flood to destroy a city or tornadoes to decimate an approaching army in the desert. The military has spent a huge amount of time on weather modification as a concept for battle environments. If an electromagnetic pulse went off over a city, basically all the electronic things in your home would wink and go out, and they would be permanently destroyed.”

For those who still doubt that such devastating secret weapons have been developed, here is an intriguing quote from an article in New Zealand’s leading newspaper, the New Zealand Herald:

“Top-secret wartime experiments were conducted off the coast of Auckland to perfect a tidal wave bomb, declassified files reveal. United States defence chiefs said that if the project had been completed before the end of the war, it could have played a role as effective as that of the atom bomb. Details of the tsunami bomb, known as Project Seal, are contained in 53-year-old documents released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”

If the military secretly developed a weapon which could cause a tsunami over half a century ago, what kind of advanced deadly weapons might be available now? And why is it that the general public still doesn’t know about secret weapons developed over 50 years ago? To understand why the media isn’t covering these highly critical issues, click here. Clearly the military has the capability to cause a tsunami and likely to cause earthquakes and hurricanes, as well. It’s time for us to take action to spread the word on this vital topic.

Having interpreted to for top generals in my work as a language interpreter with the US Department of State, I learned that military planners are always interested in developing the most devastating weapons possible. Yet these weapons are kept secret as long as possible, allegedly for reasons of national security. The many layers of intense secrecy both in the military and government result in very few people being aware of the gruesome capabilities for death and destruction that have been developed over the years. There are many examples of major defense projects kept successfully out of the public’s eyes for years and even decades.

The massive Manhattan Project (development of the first atomic bomb) is one such example. The building of an entire city to support the project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee was successfully kept secret even from the state’s governor. The stealth bomber was kept top secret for many years, and the public still has no way of knowing it’s full capabilities. It is through the use of the highly organized military and intelligence services that the power elite of our world, working in cooperation with key allies in government and corporate ownership of the media, are able to carry out major cover-ups and secret operations like those involved with HAARP.

Some researchers have raised questions about the possible involvement of HAARP in major disasters like the earthquake in Haiti, Indonesian tsunami, and hurricane Katrina. Could these have been HAARP experiments gone awry? Might they even have been caused by rogue elements which gained control of this devastating technology. Of course disasters like this happen regularly on a natural basis, yet if you begin to research, there is some high strangeness around some of these disasters. The evidence is inconclusive, yet with the known and unknown major destructive capabilities of this weapon, serious questions remain.

Jesse Ventura, the former Navy Seal who turned pro wrestler only to then become governor of Minnesota, has also done a special on HAARP that is a bit sensationalized, yet contains useful information. You can watch this special on YouTube at this link.

Last night, at a late hour,  my friend  Mohamed Benhaddou was dropping me in front of my door, in my street. I step out and two police officers storm out of a police car and head towards me. 

- What are you doing here? They ask in French.

They were young French speaking cops, so they did not recognize me. I say calmly, this is my street, I live here. I see the look in their eyes, and feel that they do not believe me. They ask my identity card, I give it and I ask why is that necessary, I live here, you want me to show you? They ask me to take my hands out of my pockets and to stand against the wall. Me, a father and a man who is 43 years old, who has never committed a crime in his life. I have to stand against the wall like some teenage delinquent.

- I am not standing against the wall I say in a calm tone.

One of them is already pointing his machine gun at me. I hear them calling for back up on the radio. In the meantime My friend turns the car and comes towards us. They ask him to stop the car and to stand next to me. He does that.

Two more police cars arrive with more cops with machine guns.

I see some of them looking surprised, they are Flemish and they recognize me obviously. One French speaking cop asks “what did they do”… The answer is “ they were in the street looking suspicious”… Me and my friend laugh bitterly… We were looking suspicious… I think they meant, our look is suspicious… you know the black hair and the dark eyes.

We stay 20 minutes at gun point, in my street, in front of my door, under the window where my two daughters are sleeping… At gun point!

Eventually, a cop comes to us and gives back our identity cards and say that we can go. He looks worried, I think his boss told him on the radio that he is for no reason at all ethnically profiling an activist, and a writer in a newspaper and that this is not a smart thing to do… but then again, I don’t think they care… we are all suspected terrorists now… we are all ethnically profiled…. We look like these terrorists right? We look like these cartoons everybody is so keen to publish now…. Ethnically profiled at gun point in my own street, under my own window, they could have just went with me few meters to see my name on the bell and compare it with the name on my ID. I walk feeling heavy, very heavy inside, I stand in front of my door and wonder if I have the right to open it… I see blond blue eyed people walk next to the cops, they walk not looking suspicious at all… I guess they were right…. I guess.

Update

It is already days after, it is time to look back at this and assess it without too much emotion. Or at least try. I conclude the following:

- I am still somewhat emotional about this. I think it is not normal to have your “home feeling” taken away from you this way. I always thought that my street is my street, that I cannot be just asked to go stand against the wall with a machine gun pointed at me just because I was walking towards my door, to enter my house. If this had happened in down-town somewhere, or far from my doorstep I would maybe be less moved by it than now. But this is outrageous.

- The reaction of the people could not be more divided. it ranged from outrage and indignation to outright fury! And from understanding or even supporting the cops and blaming me for not obeying, to people writing things like “they should have killed that scum”. Our society is more divided than ever. Our vision of what is a state of law is also so contradictory. Some clearly believe in a police state and some others believe apartheid is normal. Differentiating between citizens is normal.

- The reaction of the police was outright shocking. They told the media that “standard procedure was applied” because I “disobeyed” and order of a cop. Meaning that it is standard procedure to intercept a person walking to his door, with no reason whatsoever, except his ethnicity. Ask him his ID card, and command him to stand facing the wall while checking who he is. Not listen to him when he says I live here, this is my house, I was just walking to my own door. And when he refuses to be treated like a criminal for no reason at all and refuses to stand facing a wall, it is standard procedure to point a machine gun at him, putting his life in danger.

- Some said that this is to be understood in the current context. That the attacks against Europe today are coming from Muslim terrorists so it is normal to ethnically profile Muslims. First of all it is absurd, because a Muslim can be also white and European. Secondly, Attacks do not come only out of Muslim extremism. Only yesterday a Muslim father was slaughtered in front of his children by a Muslim hater. Should I remind people of Breivik? of Hans Van Temsche? of Volkert van der G.?  Should I predict the next attack were Immigrants or Muslims will be victims? No Ethnically profiling people is not the solution, it is part of the problem. You can use checkpoints where you can randomly control. And of course if you see something, a certain Item or behavior that is suspect, then you can control, while respecting the law and the liberties and rights of citizens. Putting citizens against the wall in front of their doorsteps at gun point for no reason at all but their racial profile is not part of security measures, it is part of terror!

- Finally, luckily that this happened to me, a public figure with access to the media, because I can open a debate about it and that debate can make the police think, and can make the people aware of the problem of ethnic profiling. This is something that is happening every day to hundreds of people in Belgium and to millions world wide. Generations are growing with this treatment and no wonder they grow to consider the police as an enemy.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000  (RIPA) is an Act of the UK Parliament “regulating the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation, and covering the interception of communications.”

Laws have certain flexibility to them, the vast legroom that allows a degree of significant contortions.  The most resilient ones tend to be those concerning security.  Where safety is perceived to be at stake, the legroom widens.   Interpreters of national security laws tend to make leaps to extend their application as far as possible.  Rather than reading down the effects of legislation, with the tendencies to limit civil liberties, the desire lies in expanding power.  The drafting, for that reason, is fundamental.

Since 2000, the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) has noted an institutionalised campaign against that noble profession, with a notable increase in incarcerations.

“Throughout the world, CPJ research has found, the vague wording of national security and terror legislation has allowed the authorities wide latitude to retaliate against reporters covering sensitive issues” (Feb, 2013).

In 2012, the number of journalists incarcerated reached 232, of whom 132 were held on grounds pursued under national security legislation. This makes poor reading, but even more striking is the performance of countries keen to trumpet the virtues of a free press with its assortment of liberties.  While doing so, they have also been busy cutting strips from various sacred cows.

CPJ reports that the use of such national security legislation to target practitioners of the journalistic code was regrettably pioneered by US authorities from the Bush administration onwards. “The United States helped legitimise the tactic by imprisoning at least 14 journalists in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay throughout the past decade.”

In October last year, the National Union of Journalists told the British Parliament that police misuse of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) to snoop on journalists and sources was “systematic and institutionalised.” An example that caught the eye of parliamentarians was how the police surreptitiously obtained a Mail on Sunday’s reporter’s home records in connection with former MP Chris Huhne’s speeding fraud.

RIPA is the weight Britain’s civil liberty advocates must bear, and is one that continues to plague local freedoms. Not only is the legislation being used against journalists, it is being used against citizens in general.  “Under the [RIPA] law, the localities and agencies can film people with hidden cameras, trawl through communication traffic data like phone calls and Web site visits and enlist undercover ‘agents’ to pose, for example, as teenagers who want to buy alcohol” (New York Times, Oct 24, 2009).

The campaign group Big Brother Watch has noted various misuses of the legislation over the years. One particular study found that local authorities had made use of the act on 550 occasions to catch fly-tippers, investigate the sale of a puppy, the activities of a fraudulent escort agency, and the movement of pigs (Financial Times, Aug 22, 2012). So much for the overarching threat posed by terrorism.

In April 2008, council officials in Dorset placed three children and their parents under surveillance, using RIPA powers, to monitor their daily movements. With a note of sinister, regulatory mania, the reason for doing so was to see if the parents were attempting to find spots for their children at a popular local school some distance away from the “catchment area”.

Not even the BBC, which touts itself as the grandest of public broadcasters, is immune from the surveillance bug.  The Beeb has decided to make monetary use of RIPA, invoking it in the context of catching viewers who do not pay the mandatory £145 licensing fee.

As the BBC falls within the category of a public body, it can duly avail itself of various investigative and surveillance powers granted under the act – even if this involves nabbing those shirking their paying obligations. Thus, by some miracle of interpretation, terror suspects intent on doing harm against her Britannic majesty’s realm, and those reluctant for fork out for watching the BBC, keep curious company.

A document obtained under Freedom of Information legislation, as discussed by the Belfast Telegraph(Jan 16), states the position clearly.  “The BBC may, in certain circumstances, authorise under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and Regulation of Investigatory Powers (British Broadcasting Corporation) Order 2001 the lawful use of detection equipment to detect unlicensed use of television receivers… the BBC has used detection authorised under this legislation in Northern Ireland.”

The comments from DUP MP Gregory Campbell, are illustrative of a classic problem. What is the true purpose underlying legislation on the books of parliament? “The purpose for which the anti-terror legislation was introduced was pretty clear – the clue is in the name.  It should be used for that purpose, and if the BBC is using legislation for a purpose that it wasn’t originally intended, then they should explain this to the public” (Belfast Telegraph, Jan 16).

Easily said as a sentiment, but impossible to execute. The name and purpose of an executed bill changes with use. When on the books, statutes such as RIPA will always be overly extended, stretched to the point of non-recognition by overly zealous officials keen to patch the holes in administration.  Motivating such moves is a permanent suspicion of the citizen.

The message for residents in Britain should be clear: Whether your dog fouls, whether you wish to evade a school catchment area, or whether you wish to avoid the public broadcasting licensing fee, you will be subjects of interest for the surveillance state.

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

Charlie Hebdo: “Je Suis White People”

January 18th, 2015 by Margaret Kimberley

“The group photo should have been a perp walk to the Hague instead of a photo opportunity for the seriously blood thirsty.”

Don’t kill white people. After all is said and done, the Charlie Hebdo outrage, the hashtags, and the million person marches amount to that simple but very powerful dictum. In the eyes of the governments that do most of the killing on the planet and the corporate media who act as their scribes, there is nothing worse than targeting even a handful of white people for death.

Charlie Hebdo is a supposedly satirical magazine published in Paris, France. It was little known to Americans until January 7, 2015 when two gunmen attacked its offices and killed twelve staff members. Charlie Hebdo was well known for intentionally violating the Islamic prohibition of depicting the prophet. According to survivors, the killers announced themselves as members of al-Qaeda and said they were avenging the prophet Muhammad. A policewoman and four more people were killed the following day when another gunman took hostages in a kosher supermarket.

One look at Charlie Hebdo cartoons shows that the word satire is being used very loosely. The depictions of cabinet minister Christiane Taubira as a monkey, and the kidnapped Nigerian school girls as pregnant welfare recipients make a mockery of the world satirical. Regardless of how many French politicians are skewered in its pages, it must be pointed out that Charlie Hebdo indulges in racist hate speech.

Their reputation for insult and offense was quickly forgotten and the call to unquestioningly identify with the victims was immediate. Within a few days, #Jesuischarlie was tweeted more than one million times. The propaganda onslaught created an awkward example of hypocrisy for world leaders who are always the worst killers of all.

Barack Obama trotted out tired denunciations, calling the attacks “cowardly” as he claimed to stand up for the rights of a free press. These were strange words coming from a man who on seven occasions has used the discredited Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who leak to the media.

Americans were not alone in hypocritically condemning murder. The convenient selective amnesia of the French people is as stunning as their sense of feeling more aggrieved than anyone else in the world.

France was a party to every atrocity and genocide committed by Europeans in history. France played a major role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, kidnapping approximately 1,250,000 Africans and sending them to work under barbaric conditions in their American territories.

After being forced out of Haiti by the world’s most successful slave rebellion, France then held that nation hostage under threat of re-enslavement and demanded a payment of $60 million francs which were paid from 1838 to 1947. Haiti remains poverty stricken to this day as a result.

France was at the table during the 1884 Berlin Conference which chopped Africa up into European spheres of influence. France engaged in mass slaughter again and again as it attempted to prevent colonies such as Vietnam and Algeria from gaining independence.

After NATO murdered Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, French president Nicolas Sarkozy traveled to Libya to personally gloat over the country he helped to destroy. He was joined by UK prime minister David Cameron, who was also among the killers-in-chief who arrived in Paris looking solemn. France and the UK are part of the NATO effort to destroy Syria and turn it into a chaotic ruin as they have done to Libya.

The corporate media determines who is and who isn’t a worthy victim and people with dark skin rarely make the cut. The thousands of Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza included members of the press. Seventeen journalists were killed in Gaza in 2014 alone, yet Israeli president Netanyahu was allowed to join the “unity march” in Paris as if he too were an innocent.

There is enough horror in the world to cause outrage but the level of outrage seems to depend on who is being treated horribly and who is carrying out the atrocity. The worst acts of terror are committed by heads of state who don’t kill seventeen people as these attackers did in Paris. They kill in the thousands yet are still treated with respect.

It doesn’t say much for the state of human advancement that killings committed by individuals still create so much more concern than those committed by governments. They get away with mass murder because the same corporate media which saturated coverage of Charlie Hebdo say little or nothing about Gaza or Libya or Somalia or Syria or Iraq or Haiti. Instead of pointing out that Barack Obama is a killer too, the pundits criticize him for not being among the sanctimonious liars who gathered in Paris. The group photo should have been a perp walk to the Hague instead of a photo opportunity for the seriously blood thirsty.

Murder is wrong when committed by individual gunmen with grudges and it is still wrong when it comes from a drone strike. A unity march should denounce human rights abuses, of which warfare is the worst. The next time 1 million gather to denounce terror, the anger should be directed at those people who carry it out the most.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Current, dangerous anti-Semitism in Europe could be ameliorated, and eventually nullified, if the Netanyahu government were to dismantle its illegal settlements and repatriate its citizens back to Israel in accordance with the judgement of the International Court and the will of the UN, the U.S. and the European Union, including Britain.

To maintain that the actions of the Netanyahu government in inducing its citizens to illegally settle in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in a deliberate attempt at ethnic-cleansing to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, has nothing to do with the increase in anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere – as is being promoted by a powerful program of pernicious, political propaganda – is a patent denial of the facts on the ground.

But Netanyahu has no intention of acceding to international demands to dismantle his settlements. He is secure in the knowledge that the Israel lobby in Washington is powerful enough to ensure that the US congress continues to instruct President Obama to prop up his Likud government with $6 billion worth annually of F16 war planes, drones, bombs, missiles and other weaponry to include grants and loan guarantees.

In this context, in effect the POTUS is Netanyahu himself, not the democratically elected Barack Obama. And that fact alone is sufficient to cause considerable ill-feeling around the free world.

Fascism looks the same whether it wears a baseball cap, a kippah or a hijab.

Fascism definition: ‘A system of government or a political movement marked typically by a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism’

The Evils of Big Pharma Exposed

January 18th, 2015 by Joachim Hagopian

What’s wrong with America is what’s wrong with Big Pharma. And what’s wrong with Big Pharma is what’s wrong with America. This circular reality is aimed to be thoroughly covered in this presentation. This is the story of how Big Pharma seeks enormous profits over the health and well-being of the humans it serves, and how drug companies invasively corrupted the way that the healthcare industry delivers its vital services. This is neither a new nor unique story. In fact, the story of Big Pharma is the exact same story of how Big Government, Big Oil, Big Agri-Chem Giants like Monsanto have come to power. The controlling shareholders of all these major industries are one and the same. Big Money belonging to the global central banking cabal own and operate all the Fortune 500 companies in addition to virtually all national governments on this earth. The Rockefellers privatized healthcare in the United States back in the 1930’s and has financed and largely influenced both healthcare and Big Pharma ever since.

The history of the last several centuries is one in which a handful of these oligarch families, primarily from Europe and the United States, have been controlling governments and wars to ruthlessly consolidate and maximize both power and control over the earth’s most precious resources to promote a New World Order of one totalitarian fascist government exercising absolute power and control over the entire global population. This group of oligarch families have systematically and effectively eliminated competition under the deceptive misnomer of a free enterprise system. Modernization is synonymous with globalization, privatization and militarization. Subsequently, an extremely small number of humans representing a privileged ruling elite has imposed a global caste system that’s hatched its long term diabolical plan to actualize its one world government. Sadly at this tumultuous moment in our human history, it’s never been closer to materialization.

Here in the early stages of the twenty-first century, a ruling elite has manipulated our planet of seven billion people into a global economic system of feudalism. Through pillaging and plundering the earth, setting up a cleverly deceptive financial system that controls the production and flow of fiat paper money using the US dollar as the standard international currency, they have turned the world’s citizens and nations into indentured servants, hopelessly in debt due to their grand theft planet. With Russia and China spearheading a shift away from the US dollar and petrodollar, and many smaller nations following their lead, a major shift in the balance of power is underway between Western and Eastern oligarchs. Thus, by design escalating calamity and crises are in overdrive at the start of 2015.

By examining one aspect of this grand theft planet through the story of Big Pharma, one can accurately recognize and assess Big Pharma’s success in its momentum-gathering power grab. Its story serves as a microcosm perfectly illustrating and paralleling the macrocosm that is today’s oligarch engineered, highly successful New World Order nightmare coming true right before our eyes that we’re all now up against. By understanding how this came to manifest, we will be better able to confront, challenge and oppose it.

Every year a handful of the biggest pharmaceutical corporations are a well-represented fixture amongst the most powerful Fortune 500 companies of the world. The twelve largest drug manufacturers and the eight largest drug delivery companies (or otherwise known as the drug channels companies) that include drug wholesalers, chain pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers (so called PBM’s) consist in total only 20 of the top 500 global corporations in the world. Thus, despite making up only 4% of the total Fortune 500 companies in 2014, both Big Pharma’s highly profitable revenues and absolute economic and political power in the United States and world are unprecedented.

The median revenue of the drug channels companies that made 2014’s Fortune 500 from the most recent available 2013 figures was $95.1 billion with a median profit as percentage of assets of 2.9% over the year before. The top 12 drug manufacturing companies held a median revenue of only $17.5 billion but a median profit of assets level of 10.6% over 2012. Though the channels companies like CVS (the top channels company and #12 on Fortune 500), Walgreen (#37) and Rite-Aid (#118) overall maintain higher revenues and positions in the Fortune 500 list, their profit margins are not nearly as immense as the pharmaceutical manufacturers that are almost four times more profitable.

Big Pharma’s top eleven corporations generated net profits in just one decade from 2003 to 2012 of nearly three quarters of a trillion dollars - that’s just net profit alone. The net profit for 2012 amongst those top eleven amounted to $85 billion in just that one year. The majority of these largest pharmaceuticals are headquartered in the US – including the top four, Johnson & Johnson (#39 on Fortune 500 list), Pfizer (#51), Merck (#65) and Eli Lilly (#129) along with Abbott (#152) and Bristol Myers Squibb (#176). The healthcare research company IMS Health projects worldwide sales of Pharma drugs to exceed one trillion dollars by 2014. With that kind of obscenely powerful money to throw around, what Big Pharma wants, Big Pharma nearly always gets.

Just as the oligarchs buy, own and control national governments to do their sleazy bidding, Big Pharma as an extension of those same oligarchs does too. Perhaps what makes Big Pharma unique in the US is that the industry outspends all others in laying down cold hard cash into its lobbying efforts – another word for bribing governments that includes not only US Congress (and parliaments) but its US federal regulator, the bought and sold Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It poured $2.7 billion into its lobbying interests from 1998 to 2013, 42% more than the second most “Gov. Corp.” bribe which happens to be its sister industry insurance.

And it’s this unholy trinity of the medical establishment (personified by the American Medical Association), embedded insurance industry that wrote Obamacare into law and Big Pharma that makes the United States the most costly, broken, corrupt, destructive healthcare system in the entire world. The structured system is designed and layered with built in incentives at every tier to make and keep people sick, chronically dependent on their drugs for survival that merely mask and smother symptoms rather than cure or eradicate the root cause of disease.

Plenty of empirical evidence exists that confirm concerted diabolical efforts have been made to ruin the lives ofpioneering heroes who have come up with possible cures for cancer, AIDS and other terminal illnesses. Obviously their work poses a serious threat to medical status quo. Hence, their treatments have all been effectively suppressed by conventional medicine. Bottom line, if humans are healthy, the healthcare industry does not survive. Thus, it’s in its own inherently self-serving interest to promote illness in the name of wellness.

Also because natural healing substances cannot be patented, Big Pharma has done its sinister best to squelch any and all knowledge and information that come from the far more affordable means of alternative health sources that explore ancient traditional cultures’ medicinal use of hemp along with thousands of other plants and roots that could threaten drug profits and power of Big Pharma and modern medicine as they’re currently practiced and monopolized.

Another cold hard reality is pharmaceutical drugs especially when consumed to manage chronic disease and symptoms cause severe side effects that also damage, harm and kill. The most prescribed drugs of all are painkillers that typically are highly addictive. Big Pharma with the help of their global army of doctors have purposely and calculatingly turned a large percentage of us especially in the United States into hardcore drug addicts, both physically and psychologically addicted to artificial synthetic substances that are detrimental to our health and well-being. More than three quarters of US citizens over 50 are currently taking prescribed medication. One in four women in their 40’s and 50’s is taking antidepressants. Though the US contains just 5% of the world population, it consumes over half of all prescribed medication and a phenomenal 80% of the world’s supply of painkillers. Those who admit to taking prescription drugs on average take four different prescription drugs daily. Taking massive amounts of prescription drugs has caused an epidemic that’s part of a sinister plan to squeeze yet more profit out of a system designed to keep humans chronically unhealthy.

Even more alarming is the fact that death by medical error at near a quarter million people annually has become thethird largest killer of US citizens behind heart disease and cancer. Other more recent studies have estimated upwards of up to 440,000 have died yearly from preventable mistakes at hospitals. Blind obedience to Big Pharma and a conventional medical system too dependent on surgery and technology has inflicted more harm than good on the U.S. population.

Because doctors now are forced to rely so heavily on drug companies for information about what they prescribe, they’re ill equipped and ill-informed in their lack of adequate knowledge and training to understand what all the interactive drugs are doing to toxically harm their human guinea pigs they call patients. We are finding out that thecumulative and synergistic effects of poly-prescription drug use is frequently a lethal cocktail to millions of human beings on this planet. Combine that with the negative effects of our air, water, food and alcohol/illicit drugs, and the health dangers increase dramatically.

Look at the current damage done by over-prescribing antibiotics. Studies have learned that too much antibiotics cause trans-generational permanent DNA damage. The 20,000 times a year in the US alone that antibiotics are prescribed are highly toxic and damaging to the nervous system. On top of that, they simply don’t work anymore. The epidemic of trans-mutated bacterial infection and parasites that invade and infest the digestive tract in particular killing good bacteria and spread to other internal organs have become highly resistive to overuse of antibiotics. Big Pharma and doctors know all this yet they are responsible for antibiotic overconsumption by uninformed Americans.

Then look at what we are now learning about Big Pharma vaccines and the wanton reckless endangerment of children and pregnant mothers with toxic levels of mercury causing increased rates of autism, brain damage and even death. The criminal cover-up by Big Gov. and Big Pharma is egregious. Flu vaccines have recently been exposed that are totally ineffective along with the horrific damage being done to humans worldwide. Instead of preventing and decreasing illness, vaccines too often have had the opposite effect, exponentially increasing illness, causing irreversible damage and even death to thousands of unsuspecting victims mostly living in Third World nations. India’s Supreme Court is currently looking into charging Bill Gates with criminal harm to many of its citizens especially children injured or killed by his global vaccine program.

A growing number of critics believe Gates’ true aim is to eugenically reduce the world population from seven billion down to a “more manageable” size of half to one billion people. With the precedent of a well-documented history of horrifying eugenics practiced on the poor and most vulnerable in the US up till the 1980’s, oligarchs have been scheming to kill most of us on the planet for a long time now. With last year’s West African outbreak of the most deadly Ebola virus ever, and it being patented as bio-warfare, and mounting evidence that it was purposely started by a joint US military-university research team in Sierra Leone causing its global spread, more people than ever have perished and a growing segment of the population suspect that it is being used as a weapon of mass destruction to effectively depopulate the earth. We can largely thank the demonic partnership between Big Pharma and US Empire for that.

To further control the global health system, Big Pharma has largely dictated what’s been taught in medical schools throughout North America, heavily subsidizing them as a means of dictating the conventional dogma that’s standard curriculum down to even the textbooks. Several years ago a revolt at Harvard amongst med students and faculty went public. For a long time now doctors have been educated primarily to treat their patients with drugs, in effect becoming drug pushing, pharmaceutical whores, mere foot soldiers in Big Pharma’s war on health. Starting in the final year of med school, Big Pharma insidiously hones in on young med students, seductively wining and dining prospective physicians, showering them with money in the form of educational handouts, gifts, trips and perks galore to recruit its legions of loyal, thoroughly indoctrinated drug peddlers around the world. Thousands of doctors in the US are on Big Pharma payrolls. Typically early on in their careers physicians are unwittingly co-opted into this corrupt malaise of an irreparable system that’s owned and operated by Big Pharma.

And here’s why the drug companies control the global healthcare empire. Since 1990 Big Pharma has been pumping at least $150 million that we know about (and no doubt lots more we don’t know about) buying off politicians who no longer represent the interests of their voting public. Thanks to Big Law via last spring’s Supreme Court decision, current campaign financing laws permit unlimited, carte blanche bribery power for America’s most wealthy and powerful to fill the pockets of corrupt politicians with absolutely no oversight. Though the corporate buyoff of other nations around the globe may not appear quite so extreme and blatantly criminal as in the United States, international drug companies make certain that every national government allows full access and flow of their prescription drugs into each nation, including rubber stamped approval by each nation’s regulatory body to ensure global maximization of record setting profit. But because far more money is spent on the healthcare industry in the US, twice as much as the next nation Canada and equal to the next ten combined, it’s no surprise that hapless Americans end up having to pay far higher exorbitant costs for their made-in-the-USA drugs than anyone else on the planet. The average US citizen spends about $1000 on pharmaceutical drugs each year, 40% higher than Canadians.

Big Pharma also invests more dollars into advertising than any other industry in America, transmitting its seductively deceptive message direct to its consumers, explicitly giving them marching orders to request specific drugs from their doctors. In 2012 alone, pharmaceutical corporations paid nearly $3.5 billion to market their drugson television, radio, internet, magazines, saturating every media outlet. Their message – pleasure, relief, peace of mind, joy, love and happiness are all just a pill away. No problem or pain in life can’t be conquered by a quick fix - compliments of Big Pharma.

Much of Big Pharma’s success over the last couple decades has been the result of specifically targeting special new populations to con and win over, resorting to creating new diseases and maladies to entice troubled, stressed out, gullible individuals into believing there’s something abnormally wrong with them, that they are among always a growing segment of our population who quietly suffer from whatever discomforting symptoms, deficits, dysfunctions, ailments, syndromes and disorders that enterprising Big Pharma connives to slyly invent, promote, package and sell. This unethical practice has been called “disease mongering.” Drug companies today operate no different from the snake oil salesmen of yesteryear. Saturating the market with their alluring, promising ads, check out any half hour of national network news on television targeting the baby boomer and geriatric crowd and you’ll notice 95% of the commercials are all brought to you by none other than Big Pharma. Of course they pay big bucks for slick ad marketing campaigns that shrewdly target the oldsters most apt to suffer health problems in addition to being virtually the only Americans left still watching the nightly network news. Three out of four people under 65 in the US today recognize that mainstream news media is nothing less than pure Gov. Corp. propaganda.

Also in recent years Big Pharma has become deceitfully masterful at repackaging and rebranding old meds at higher prices ever in search of expanded consumers. It’s a lot easier and far less money to engage in this unethical industry-wide practice of recycling an old pill than to manufacture a new one. Prozac became the biggest drug sold until it was learned that it caused so many people to kill themselves or others, especially adolescents. Then Eli Lilly deceptively repackaged and relabeled it under the less threatening name Sarafem at a much higher price tailored to target unsuspecting women seeking relief from menstrual pain. Like Prozac as another Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressant, Paxil was suddenly repackaged as the cure-all for shyness under the guise of treating social anxiety. Taking full advantage of knowing that millions of humans feel unsure of themselves dealing with strangers and groups, Big Pharma to the rescue exploiting people’s nervousness by clinically labeling it as social anxiety and reintroducing the antidepressant pink pill as their panacea to personal happiness, lifelong self-confidence and success in life. This most prevalent industry pattern of reusing the same old drugs all dressed up with new custom designed names for new purposes on new custom designed populations for yet more price gouging is nothing less than resorting to a predatory practice of criminal false advertising.

Perhaps as sinister as any aspect of the drug business is how Big Pharma has completely taken over the FDA. A recent Harvard study slammed the FDA making the accusation that it simply “cannot be trusted” because it’s owned and operated by Big Pharma. With complete autonomy and control, now pharmaceutical companies knowingly market drugs that carry high risk dangers for consumers. But because they so tightly control its supposed regulatory gatekeeper, drugs are commonly mass marketed and before the evidence of potential harm becomes overwhelming, by design when the slow bureaucratic wheels turn issuing a drug recall, billions in profit have already been unscrupulously reaped at the deadly expense of its victims. Additionally, doctors, pharmacists and patients rarely even hear about important recalls due to dangerous side effects or contamination. Yet hundreds of Big Pharma drugsare recalled every year. Many FDA approved drugs like FenPhen, Vioxx, Zohydro and Celebrex kill hundreds before they’re finally removed from the shelf. This withholding the truth from the professionals and public consumers is yet more evidence that Big Pharma protects its profits more than people.

This evil practice that keeps repeating itself is proof that Big Pharma is a criminal racket. It no longer needs outside independent research demonstrating a drug’s efficacy to be FDA approved. Currently research is conducted and compiled by the pharmaceutical industry itself to fraudulently show positive results from methodologically flawed drug trials when in reality a drug proves either ill effective at doing what it’s purported to do or downright harmful. Research outcomes only need to show that the drug outperforms a placebo, not other older drugs already available on the market that have proven to be effective at lower cost.

Similar to shady personnel moving seamlessly in and out of governmental public service to think tanks to universities to private law to corporations to lobbyists, the same applies to heads of the FDA moving to and from Big Pharma. Unfortunately this is how our government has been taken over by special interests. Yet this rampant conflict of interest goes unchecked.

Because Big Pharma sometimes outright owns and largely controls today’s most prominent medical journals, spreading false propaganda, disinformation and lies about the so called miracle effects of a given drug is yet another common practice that is malevolent to the core. 98% of the advertising revenue of medical journals is paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. Shoddy and false claims based on shoddy and false research all controlled by Big Pharma often get published in so called reputable journals giving the green light to questionable drugs that are either ineffective or worse yet even harmful. Yet they regularly pass peer and FDA muster with rave reviews.

But because Big Pharma’s never held accountable for its evildoing, it continues to literally get away with murder, not unlike the militant police, the CIA, Monsanto and the US Empire that willfully and methodically commit mass murder on a global scale or through false flag terrorism having its mercenary Moslem allies kill innocent people as on 9/11 and France’s recent “9/11.” Since all serve the interests of their oligarch puppet masters toward grand theft planet and New World Order with total impunity, the world continues to suffer and be victimized.

Nearly five years ago the Justice Department filed and won a huge criminal lawsuit against Pfizer, one of the largest pharmaceutical corporations in the world employing 116,000 employees and boasting an annual revenue of more than $50 billion ($53.8 in 2013). Fined $2.3 billion to pay off civil and criminal charges for illegally promoting the use of four of its drugs, the unprecedented settlement became the largest case of healthcare fraud in history. The crux of the case centered on Pfizer’s illegal practice of marketing drugs for purposes other than what the FDA originally approved. While the law permits a wide leeway for physicians to prescribe drugs for multiple purposes, Pharma manufacturers are restricted to selling their drugs only for the expressed purposes given them by FDA approval.

The 2003 lawsuit would never even have been filed had it not been for whistleblowing sales rep John Kopchinski who forced authorities to investigate what’s been a common Big Pharma practice, selling drugs for off-label uses. While back in 2001 the FDA had approved a 10 mg dosage of Bextra for arthritis patients and for menstrual cramps, Pfizer sent Kopchinski out with instructions to give complimentary 20 mg samples of Bextra to doctors, thus willfully and illegally endangering patient lives, particularly because in 2005 Bextra was taken off the market due toincreased risk of heart attacks and stroke. The truth is Big Pharma will do anything to boost its money making big profits, including killing innocent people.

But the story doesn’t end here. This legal case potently illustrates how the US federal government has been co-opted and conspires with Big Pharma to knowingly do harm to American citizens. When the story broke in the fall of 2009 of this record fine levied against Pfizer, assistant director Kevin Perkins of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division touted how the feds mean business going after lawbreakers within the pharmaceutical industry, boasting that “it sends a clear message.” But it turns out that that false bravado was an all-for-show facade.

The truth is the US government will knuckle under to Big Pharma, Wall Street and Big Banks every single time, even when it knows these “too big to fail” criminals repeatedly violate laws intended to protect the public. And constantly bailing them out at overburdened taxpayer expense only causes them to become more brazenly criminal, knowing they will always be protected by their co-conspirators the feds.

Back in November 2001 the FDA had stated that Bextra was unsafe for patients at risk of heart disease and stroke, rejecting its use especially at higher than 10mg doses on patients suffering from post-surgery pain. Yet Pfizer went ahead anyway marketing its product for any doctor who “used a scalpel for a living” as one district manager testified. It was learned that Pfizer deployed multimillions of dollars to its well-paid army of hundreds of doctors to go around “educating” other MD’s on the miracle benefits of Bextra. Again, misusing doctors as pitchmen to sell inflated false claims is employing the medical profession as Big Pharma’s industry whores.

By the time Bextra was finally taken off the market in April 2005, after killing a number of at risk patients that never should have been prescribed the painkiller, Pfizer had already made its cool $1.7 billion off the drug being illegally sold for purposes the FDA had expressly forbidden. Here’s where Big Pharma rules over Big Gov. Because by law any company that’s found guilty of fraud is prohibited from continuing as a Medicare and Medicaid contractor, which of course Pfizer is and was, the feds under the morally bankrupt excuse that Big Pharma’s also “too big to fail” made a dirty little secret deal with Pfizer in the backroom law offices of the federal government.

Just like US Empire uses the “national security” card, so do the banksters, Wall Street and Big Pharma use their “too big to fail” trump card to get away with their own crimes against humanity. It’s a rigged world where an elitist cabal of cheats and thugs mistreat fellow humans as owned commodities and indentured expendables. Money and power mean everything while human life means nothing to them. So the secret deal was cut where on paper only the fake Pfizer subsidiary Pharmacia and Upjohn that never sold a single drug would be found criminally guilty so the conveniently contrived loophole would spare Big Pharma Pfizer’s from its alleged death. Records show that on the very same day in 2007 that the feds worked out this sweetheart deal with Pfizer, this hollowed out shell company as Pfizer’s backdoor nonentity was born. How convenient as Big Gov. and Big Pharma got to live happily ever after together in criminal conspiracy against their own people they’re supposed to serve and protect, kind of like the way police forces across this nation are “serving and protecting” citizens.

Then with drug profits so obscenely high, even with a slap on the hand penalty fee of $2.3 billion, Big Pharma’s net profit for just one quarter easily can pay it off. Three years later in July 2012 the Justice Department handed down yet an even bigger fine of $3 billion to UK’s global healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline for the same exact crimes. As long as Big Pharma continues raking in such enormous profits, fines into the billions mean nothing since they’re paid off in a few months’ time. Not until CEO’s and top executives of Big Banks, Big Wall Street and Big Pharma start going to jail to serve long term sentences for their crimes, it’ll conveniently remain business as usual. And as long as Big Pharma owns Big Gov. Corp., just like the oligarchs own everything there is to earthly own, nothing will ever change for the better unless we as citizens of the world demand accountability and justice that punishment rightly fit the corporate crime.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.

Central banks lie.  That is what they do.  Not too long ago, the Swiss National Bank promised that it would defend the euro/Swiss franc currency peg with the “utmost determination”.  But on Thursday, the central bank shocked the financial world by abruptly abandoning it.  More than three years ago, the Swiss National Bank announced that it would not allow the Swiss franc to fall below 1.20 to the euro, and it has spent a mountain of money defending that peg.

But now that it looks like the EU is going to launch a very robust quantitative easing program, the Swiss National Bank has thrown in the towel.  It was simply going to cost way too much to continue to defend the currency floor.  So now there is panic all over Europe.  On Thursday, the Swiss franc rose a staggering 30 percent against the euro, and the Swiss stock market plunged by 10 percent.  And all over the world, investors, hedge funds and central banks either lost or made gigantic piles of money as currency rates shifted at an unprecedented rate.  It is going to take months to really measure the damage that has been done.

Meanwhile, the euro is in greater danger than ever.  The euro has been declining for months, and now the number one buyer of euros (the Swiss National Bank) has been removed from the equation.  As things in Europe continue to get even worse, expect the euro to go to all-time record lows.  In addition, it is important to remember that the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s began when Thailand abandoned its currency peg.  With this move by Switzerland set off a European financial crisis?

Of course this is hardly the first time that we have seen central banks lie.  In the United States, the Federal Reserve does it all the time.  The funny thing is that most people still seem to trust what central banks have to say.  But at some point they are going to start to lose all credibility.

Financial markets like predictability.  And gigantic amounts of money had been invested based on the repeated promises of the Swiss National Bank to use “unlimited amounts” of money to defend the currency floor.  Needless to say, there are a lot of people in the financial world that feel totally betrayed by the Swiss National Bank today.  The following comes from an analysis of the situation by Bruce Krasting

Thomas Jordan, the head of the SNB has repeated said that the Franc peg would last forever, and that he would be willing to intervene in “Unlimited Amounts” in support of the peg. Jordan has folded on his promise like a cheap suit in the rain. When push came to shove, Jordan failed to deliver.

The Swiss economy will rapidly fall into recession as a result of the SNB move. The Swiss stock market has been blasted, the currency is now nearly 20% higher than it was a day before. Someone will have to fall on the sword, the arrows are pointing at Jordan.

The dust has not settled on this development as of this morning. I will stick my neck out and say that the failure to hold the minimum rate will result in a one time loss for the SNB of close to $100B. That’s a huge amount of money. It comes to 20% of the Swiss GDP!

Most experts are calling this an extremely bad move by the Swiss National Bank.

But in the end, they may have had little choice.

The euro is falling apart, and the Swiss did not want to be married to it any longer.  Unfortunately, when any marriage ends the pain can be enormous.  The following comes from CNBC

How do you know you’re looking at a bad marriage?

Well if one or both of the spouses can’t wait to get out as soon as the smallest crack in the door opens, you have a pretty good clue.

Something like that just happened in Europe as we learned the real reason why so many traders were still invested in the euro: They had nowhere else to go.

As the Swiss National Bank unlocked the doors on its cap on trading euros for Swiss francs, the rush to exit the euro was faster than one of those French bullet trains.

But this move has not been bad for everyone.  In fact, for many of those that live in Switzerland but work in neighboring countries what happened on Thursday was very fortuitous

“I heard the news this morning. I’m so happy!” Vanessa, who refused to give her last name, told AFP outside of one of many mobbed exchange offices in Geneva.

She has reason to be extatic: she is one of some 280,000 people working in Switzerland but living and paying bills in eurozone countries France, Germany or Italy.

These so-called “frontaliers”, or border-crossers, are the biggest winners in Thursday’s Swiss franc surge, seeing their incomes jump 30 percent in the blink of an eye.

In normal times, things like this very rarely happen.

But in times of crisis, things can change very rapidly.  We are moving into a time of great volatility in global financial markets, and great volatility is often a sign that a great crash is coming.

This move by the Swiss National Bank is just the beginning.  Expect more desperate moves on the global economic chessboard in the days ahead.  But in the end, none of those moves is going to prevent what is coming.

And one of these days, another extremely important currency peg is going to end.  Right now, the Chinese have tied their currency very tightly to the U.S. dollar.  This has helped to artificially inflate the value of the dollar.  Unfortunately, as Robert Wenzel has noted, someday the Chinese could suddenly pull the rug out from under our currency, and that would be really bad news for us…

In other words, the SNB is no People’s Bank of China type patsy, where the PBOC has taken on massive amounts of dollar reserves to prop up the dollar.

Will the PBOC learn anything from SNB? If so, this will not be good for the US dollar.

So keep a close eye on what happens in Europe next.

It is going to be a preview of what is eventually coming to America?

Paris Riot Police intervene shooting at random into the Kosher Grocery store at Porte de Vincennes.

The video shows Amedy Coulibaly with his hands above his head being shot and killed by the police.

Reports state that four hostages were killed by Coulibaly prior to the police raid. 

There is no firm evidence to that effect.

They could have been killed as a result of the indiscriminate police shooting with automatic weapons into the premises of the grocery store. 

The Charlie Hebdo suspects were shot dead.

 

Note: The first video has the most visual information.

Here is a video of the execution of Amedy Coulibaly. It is a German website with the actual live French video of the police assault on the deli. There are three videos. The first one repeatedly shows Coulibaly with tied hands containing no weapons shot downand killed when he could easily have been captured. It is as if the order was to make sure that there is no live suspect whose story might have to be explained away. The first video also repeatedly shows the execution in slow motion. Commentary in French accompanies the video. 

http://alles-schallundrauch.blogspot.co.at/2015/01/amedy-coulibaly-wurde-hingerichtet.html

In response to my Charlie Hebdo update  European readers report that the situation in Europe is much the same as in the US and UK. The “mainstream” print and TV media parrot the official line and raise no unsettling questions. The independent Internet media is where real information is reported.

The German print and TV media have suffered dramatic declines in readers and viewers. This decline accelerated when Udo Ulkotte’s book about CIA penetration of European media was published by Kopp Verlag and became a best seller. Thinking people no longer trust the German media. The German media has lost the intelligent part of the population and only retains the somnolent sheep.

There are efforts to infiltrate the Internet media. Sites funded by money, such as Salon, appear. These sites attempt to discredit all who raise honest and obvious questions. Readers report that the Huffington Post has lost credibility by its move into “respectability.” Salon, apparently, has no more credibility than Fox News or The Weekly Standard.

The view I get from Europe supports my view. The left-wing, or what little remains of a left, supports the official stories of terrorist attacks, For the American left, the stories confirm the left-wing’s emotional need to believe that peoples oppressed by Western colonialism/imperialism are capable and determined and strike back at their oppressors. The left-wing’s sense of justice demands that oppressed and abused peoples don’t just sit there and take it. The French left sees the Charlie Hebdo attack as an effort by obscurantist religion to attack freedom of expression and brings to mind the French left’s anti-Catholic crusade.

The right-wing accepts the official stories for two different reasons. The anti-immigrationists among them use the terror attacks as evidence against immigration. The patriotic right can go along with this, but also responds to writers such as myself, who defend the Constitution against the government, with the argument that it is the government’s job to interpret the Constitution and I should not use the Constitution in order to criticize our government. Much of the American right believes that liberals use the Constitution in order to defend criminals and terrorists, who simply should not be tolerated. In other words, the Constitution is seen not as our defender but as a defender of those the right-wing regards as undesirables, such as criminals, terrorists, abortionists, and homosexuals.

The rest of the population has simply succumbed to the many years of demonization of Muslims. Indeed, Israel has been demonizing Muslims for 60 years and has created the image of Muslims as terrorists wearing suicide bombs. If a person has been prepared to regard Muslims as terrorists, the official stories simply fit that already prepared compartment in the brain.

Additionally, although false flag attacks are commonplace and have been used throughout history to advance undeclared agendas, the public has been brainwashed to regard them as “conspiracy theories.” Thus, anyone who raises questions is dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist.” Many Americans do not even understand that the official story of 9/11, for example, is a conspiracy theory. So is the official explanation of the Boston Marathon Bombing and the Charlie Hebdo attack. What it boils down to is that official conspiracy theories are accepted as true, but everyone who questions them is a “conspiracy theorist.”

Readers point out that as stupid as governments are, populations are even more stupid and that governments succeed in brainwashing populations. Many conclude that in the absence of an adversarial media, democracy is a sham as the people have no inclination or means of confronting the government.

The hope appears to be that the mainstream media will continue to diminish and will be replaced by the independent Internet media, thus releasing populations from their brainwashed state. Others think that this hope will come to naught as governments will assert control over the Internet and that governments will make dissent the equivalent of terrorism.

Those who try to suppress dissent might be simply defending a personal bias or they might be agents of a cover-up. Regardless, it comes to the same thing in the end. People who raise dissenting points and honest questions are ridiculed or demonized in efforts to silence or marginalize them. Whether or not truth can actually prevail, it doesn’t usually prevail in time. For example, “Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction” prevailed over truth. After Iraq is destroyed we learn that the basis for the US invasion of Iraq rested firmly on an orchestrated lie.

The culpability of the Western media in lies, death, and destruction is extreme. Consider the Malaysian airliner that went down in Ukraine. The US, UK, EU, and the puppet government in Kiev blamed Russia and forces of the breakaway eastern province for shooting down the civilian airliner. An investigation was convened. It has been six months since the investigation was convened, and the results have not been released.

Clearly, if the investigation supported the Western propaganda, the results would have been released. We can safely conclude that the investigation does not support the West’s propaganda. There has not been one word from the Western media demanding the results of the investigation. The world has forgotten it, but the world remembers the loudly shouted propaganda, and the conclusion, unsupported by any evidence, is that Russia is guilty.

The Western media works the same way when it reports Charlie Hebdo.

Obama’s Phony Middle Class Tax Relief Plan

January 18th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Obama is a corporate tool. Super-rich Americans never had it better during his tenure.

Entirely reflecting anti-populist extremism. Policies hugely benefitting Wall Street. Other corporate favorites. Wealthy investors. America’s privileged class.

At the expense of popular needs gone begging. Including so-called financial reform legislation written by Wall Street lawyers. Obamacare drafted by healthcare giants.

So-called “grand bargain” help for struggling middle America reflects total capitulation to America’s aristocracy. 

The nation’s social contract threatened. Targeted for elimination altogether. Forced-fed austerity replacing it. During protracted Main Street Depression conditions. 

Unprecedented wealth disparity unfairness. Growing millions impoverished. It doesn’t matter.

Throughout his tenure, Obama consistently supported corporate tax cuts. Increased corporate subsidies. Other corporate benefits.

Medicare and Social Security cuts. Fantasy jobs created. Fake ones concealing nearly one-fourth of working-age Americans unemployed.

Most others underemployed. Needing two or more jobs to survive. Most available are part-time or temp low-pay/poor or no benefits rotten ones. 

Privatizing public education. Commodifying it. Making it another business profit center at the expense of real learning.

Gutting public and private worker pensions. Other social benefit cuts when most needed. 

Including extended unemployment benefits millions of jobless Americans need. Food stamps for low income households.

Home energy assistance. Especially for heat in winter. Pell Grants for college tuitions. Loan shark student loans replacing them.

Head Start for comprehensive education, health, nutrition and parent-involvement services. WIC (women, infants and children) grants.

Community healthcare centers. Numerous other federal programs. Cut on route to eliminating them altogether.

Leaving increasing numbers of Americans on their own sink or swim. “Grand bargain” deception. Social America being systematically destroyed.

Its resources increasingly benefitting privileged elites. Inequality is institutionalized. Hard times keep getting harder.

Poverty is a growth industry. A race to the bottom reflects official bipartisan policy. Human suffering is real.

America’s middle class is targeted for elimination. Heading for history’s dustbin. The nation increasingly becoming a ruler/serf society.

Obama is a serial liar. Breaking every major promise made. Expect his latest to be no exception.

His annual state of the union addresses reflect beginning-to-end doublespeak duplicity. Empty rhetoric concealing business as usual.

Continuation of ruinous policies. Governing to the right of George Bush. Beholden solely to monied interests.

in previous state of the union addresses, he promised undelivered economic growth. Millions of new living wage/good benefits jobs.

Tax relief for ordinary Americans. Lump of coal harshness followed. Throughout his tenure, he promised one thing. Delivered another. 

His latest scheme promises more of the same. Smoke and mirrors deception in lieu of real substantive change. 

If none throughout his first six years in office, why expect something different this time. 

Especially with Republicans controlling both houses. Many Democrats supporting their policies. 

Obama a stealth Republican. Based on his record so far. Earlier as a US senator.

Expect nothing benefitting ordinary Americans from his latest so-called proposal. The New York Times discussed it.

Saying he’ll “use his State of the Union address to call on Congress to raise taxes and fees on the wealthiest taxpayers and the largest financial firms to finance an array of tax cuts for the middle class, pressing to reshape the tax code to help working families, administration officials said on Saturday.”

It bears repeating. If not earlier throughout his six years in office, why now? As a lame duck. With Republicans largely controlling policy.

On January 17, a so-called White House Fact Sheet headlined “A Simpler, Fairer Tax Code That Responsibly Invests in Middle Class Families.”

Rubbish! A litany of Big Lies followed. Reality is polar opposite duplicitous claims listed.

Including saying “(o)n Tuesday, (Obama) will lay out his (new) vision…”

“A key part…include(s) a new strategy to simplify our complex tax code, make it fairer by eliminating some of the biggest loopholes, and use the savings to responsibly pay for the investments we need to help middle class families get ahead and grow the economy.”

He’ll propose eliminating loopholes he supported maintaining up to now. Raising capital gains and dividends taxes he endorsed cutting earlier.

“Making the biggest financial firms pay their fare share.” Up to now, his policies were polar opposite.

“Helping working families” he harmed unfairly. “Tripling the child care tax credit” he’s done nothing to increase so far.

“Making college accessible and affordable.” Obama supports America’s student loan racket. Assuring longterm debt bondage for  millions of graduates.

A conspiratorial alliance of lenders, guarantors, servicers, and collection companies. Ripping off students unfairly.

Principle, accrued interest, late payment and collection agency penalties create enormous burdens to repay. 

Private lenders are exempt from federal fair debt collection requirements. Federal loans have minimal safety net protection. 

Lenders operate virtually risk-free. The system is rigged against borrowers. 

Loans are easy to get. Tough to service. Never forgiven. Burdensome debt escalates higher. 

A vicious circle entraps graduates and dropouts. For many it’s permanent. Obama’s student loan policy made things worse, not better.

“(M)aking it easy and automatic for workers to save for retirement.” When up to now he supported gutting public and private pensions.

In 2010, he rhetorically opposed extending Bush era tax cuts for households earning over $250,000.

An earlier promise made. Another broken. Saying one thing. Doing another. Capitulating to Republicans.

A December 6 press release saying while “disagree(ing)” with GOP members he capitulated.

Claiming “without a willingness to give on both sides, there’s no reason to believe (the current) stalemate won’t continue well into next year…”

“I am not willing to let that happen. (I)t would be the wrong thing to do.”

“As a result, we have arrived at a framework for a bipartisan agreement.”

Assuring business as usual. Caving to deep-pocketed donors. Benefitting America’s privileged class.

Stiff-arming others most in need. Gaining nothing from low capital gains and dividends taxes.

Obama’s so-called “tough choices…to secure our future and our children’s future and our grandchildren’s future” involves assuring they have none at all.

Class warfare is official US policy. Democrats and Republicans support it.

Neoliberal harshness reflects it. So do an array of bipartisan backed policies solely benefitting corporate America and super-rich elites.

The New York Times operates as a megaphone of misinformation. Ludicrously claiming Obama’s “initiative signals a turnabout…”

After six years of broken promises. One-sided fealty to monied interests. Letting war profiteers gorge at the public trough. 

Cutting social programs when most needed. Popular ones increasingly ignored. Duplicity defines his agenda. Business as usual reflects it.

Expect nothing different this time. Once a monied interests tool. Always one.

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.