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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The NCI’s report also explains:

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

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

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

Additional Sources:

Image from: SustainablePulse

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By Johannes Stern and Denis Krassnin:

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

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

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

What would be retained is,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Political Murders in Kiev, US Troops to Ukraine

April 20th, 2015 by Rep. Ron Paul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no safe level of exposure to mercury.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those exonerated since 2009 in DC include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McGovern writes,

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

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

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

McGovern says:

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 3.11.05 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma describes the situation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, this too is a global phenomenon.

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

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

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

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

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

These are truly insane times.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1-Michelle-Bachmann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saudi Blood Money for Bloodletting in Yemen

April 20th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama wants war continued. He categorically rejects peace.

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

Yemeni tweets best explain ongoing nightmarish conditions.

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

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

“Children are extremely terrified,” a victim explained.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘In February 2015 former Secretary for Defence, Malcolm Rifkind claimed to have no salary and to be self-employed when discussing with what he thought were representatives of a Chinese company that wanted to buy influence in the UK parliament. Rifkind offered to get them access to British ambassadors for £5,000 to £8,000 per half day’s work. The people turned out to be journalists for The Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 News who recorded the conversations. As a result Rifkind was suspended from the party while the matter was investigated. 

On 24 February 2015 Rifkind resigned his position as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Shortly afterwards he announced that he would not run as a candidate for his constituency of Kensington at the 2015 General Election. Rifkind admitted he “may have made errors of judgement” but insisted he had done nothing wrong in the cash-for access controversy. The former foreign secretary said it was “quite obvious” that allegations made following an undercover sting had “become an issue”. Rifkind said he had stepped aside as chair of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee because he did not want the work of the committee to be “distracted”. 

‘Government Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith is said to regard governing with George Osborne and David Cameron as being like finding television presenters Ant and Dec running the country .. ‘

***Note: all the above quotations are unedited excerpts from published public domain information

Russia’s Missile Wall in Iran

April 19th, 2015 by Tony Cartalucci

The popular narrative surrounding the conflict between the West and Iran has always been one of a dangerous rogue state bent on obtaining nuclear weapons before triggering a nuclear-fueled Armageddon aimed at Israel. Underneath this elementary propaganda, lies a more complex truth underpinning a proxy conflict between East and West.

Just as had been the case during World War I and II, the strategic position, resources, and population of Iran constitute a necessary prerequisite to first overcome before containing and eventually overrunning the political order in Moscow. This time around, in addition to Moscow, the Western axis also seeks to eventually encircle and overrun Beijing as well.

Unlike during the World Wars, vast wars of attrition and mechanized invasions are not a possibility today. Instead, a concerted campaign of proxy wars, covert political subversion, sanctions, and other non-military instruments of power are being employed in what is for all intents and purposes a global conflict.

Increasingly defining the fronts of this conflict, in addition to political and economic alliances, is the presence of “missile walls,” or national missile defense programs being erected by both East and West.

Where these missile walls end, is generally where the West’s overt military aggression begins. In Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, where such missiles systems are absent, the West has or is bombing these nations with absolute impunity. The United Nations, in theory, should have prevented armed aggression against Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, but has categorically failed to do so. In nations possessing formidable missile defenses, direct Western aggression has become more or less unthinkable, leaving less efficient proxy wars and political subversion to do the job.

The presence of missile defense systems capable of checking Western military aggression may be what is needed to establish both a balance of power globally, and the global stability the UN has promised but has so far failed to deliver.

Iran, the Last Watchtower 

In places like Iran where proxy wars cannot easily be waged, and foreign-backed political subversion has been checked, the West has for years planned military options to achieve regime change in Tehran. Encapsulated in the Brookings Institution’s “Which Path to Persia?” report, these options include the use of diplomatic negotiations, particularly in regards to Iran’s civil nuclear program, as a means to justify military strikes on Iran’s nuclear research facilities. The strikes will surely not lead to regime change in and of themselves, but Western policymakers hope the attacks will provoke an Iranian retaliation the West could then use to expand military operations to include regime change.

F121119ZEL15Written in 2009, “Which Path to Persia?” includes multiple scenarios that have now demonstrably been tried, and have failed. Remaining is the use of positive nuclear talks initiated by the United States in what is meant to appear as an act of good faith toward Iran. Israel is tasked with unilaterally attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, claiming America’s “betrayal” left them with no other choice. Again, in hopes that Iran retaliates, or in the wake of a false flag attack meant to appear as an Iranian retaliation, the US would step in to assist Israel.

In other words, the nuclear deal is a canard, with the West not only having no intention of honoring it, but planning to use them as justification first for an attack on their nuclear facilities, followed by a joint coalition aimed at removing the Iranian government by force.

What “Which Path to Persia?” may not have counted on, was, however, Russia’s growing influence in the ongoing conflict and its ability to exploit the window of opportunity opened briefly by the West’s disingenuous “good will” it has shown Tehran with its alleged “rapprochement.”

The West claiming that it is satisfied with Iran’s terms and commitment to the nuclear deal, has pushed it forward for formal signing in upcoming months. Predictably, while this satisfaction should in theory lead to the lifting of sanctions, the West has made no gesture of good will to do so yet.

Russia for its part has begun lifting sanctions. This includes an oil-for-goods deal it has established with Iran, as well as delivery of several S300 anti-air missile systems. The missiles in particular, left undelivered for 5 years, may significantly complicate any attempts by the West to betray Iran in the signing and honoring of the current nuclear deal. With the procurement and effective deployment of S300 missile systems, Iran will find itself behind a “missile wall” that will drastically raise the stakes for an already potentially risky act of military aggression against Tehran by either Israel, the US, or both – or Saudi Arabia who has recently begun unilaterally bombing its neighbor Yemen.

The Hand-Wringing Begins

In the wake of Russia’s decision to deliver the S300 systems, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pleaded that the sanctions be lifted “as cohesively as possible.” In other words, at the same time, and only when the West says so.

One must wonder, if the West was truly committed to rapprochement with Iran, then why  hasn’t it, as an act of good faith, lifted at least some sanctions to relieve the socioeconomic punishment it has been inflicting on the Iranian people for years? One must also wonder why the West has reacted negatively to Russia’s own lifting of sanctions, as well as the delivery of a purely defensive weapon system.

The West, one might suspect, would only berate Russia for delivering a defensive system to Iran, if the West planned treachery all along. Just as the US did with Iraq, Syria, and Libya, with various phases of rapprochement with each respective nation achieved before the US either annihilated them or attempted to do so, these is every reason to believe it will likewise betray Iran.

The negative response by the West regarding the delivery of the S300 missile systems also rings particularly hypocritical, since the West is well on its way to erecting its own “missile wall” around both Russia and China. Assurances by the West that neither Russia nor China have anything to fear by these purely “defensive” missile systems is now being reciprocated by Moscow in regards to Iran’s now augmented missile defense capabilities.

How Strong is the Wall? 

1277188126_9The S300 is, according to various sources including the US-based International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC), one of the most formidable missile defense systems being fielded. According to one IASC report titled, “Almaz S-300 – China’s “Offensive” Air Defense,” it states:

The S-300 SAM systems remain one of the most lethal, if not the most lethal, all altitude area defence SAM systems in service, with a range of more capable derivatives entering service in Russia, or in development.

The report points out that the missile systems not only defend a nation’s airspace, but could deny neighboring air forces the ability to defend their own airspace. This might explain why NATO, led by the US, has been erecting missile networks around Russia and China for years.

However, there are no known instances of an S300 being fired in actual combat. The deterrence the S300 poses is only as good as the forces employing the system and the actual capabilities of the missiles themselves. It is known that NATO has already conducted exercises in Europe focusing specifically on circumventing Russian-made air defense systems. One such exercise conducted in 2005 called “Trial Hammer” involved what is called ‘Suppression of Enemy Air Defense’ (SEAD). Such exercises may already be working on ways to circumvent or neutralize systems like the S300.

However, the risk is, should Israel or the US launch an attack on Iran once the S300s are in place and significant numbers of aircraft are lost, not only will the operation fail and an expensive and humiliating blow be dealt to the forces involved, but the veil of invincibility of Western military might, especially its airpower, will be lost forever triggering a cascade of rebellion across the “international order” the West has created primarily under the threat of military force.

Additionally, should Iran down a significant number of aircraft involved in any unilateral act of military aggression against its territory, it will have fulfilled a proportional “retaliation,” negating the need to respond further, and making a false flag attempted in Iran’s name appear all the more obvious. The West would have a failed operationally, strategically, and geopolitically.

Because of this, perhaps, regardless of the true capabilities of the S300, the risk will be too great to attempt this last gamble left to Western policymakers attempting to stop Iran’s establishment as a permanent regional power, for all intents and purposes immune to Western military aggression.

As suggested by other analysts, this may not remove altogether the threat of US designs against Russia via Iran. If forced to accept normal relations with Iran, and by actually removing sanctions, Iranian hydrocarbons would begin flooding the market and dropping prices Russia has long benefited from and depended on. Whether that option appeals to Western policymakers more than potentially dashing a half century of perceived military invincibility against Iran’s missile defense systems remains to be seen.

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

Obama’s time as leader of the US is coming to an end – his term concludes next year. Wannabe presidents have already joined the race to the White House. And as President Obama goes through the final year of his rule, Washington suddenly changes its tone – now Iran is an appropriate nation to talk to, and it’s okay to meet with Cuban and Venezuelan leaders. But what is in that change?

Has Washington finally dropped its previous policies? What does Obama want to achieve? And will the new, as yet unknown, leader of America make any difference? We pose these questions to prominent historian, author of bestsellers on US foreign policies, William Blum, who is on Sophie&Co today.

Transcript

William Blum: I don’t think US foreign policy will change at all, regardless of who is in the White House, Bush or Clinton, or who else is running. Our policy does not change… I can add Obama to that. It wouldn’t even matter which party it is, Republican or Democrat, they have the same foreign policy.

SS: Why do you think it’s the same policy for both parties? Why do you think they are not different from each other?

WB: Because America, for two centuries has had one basic, overriding goal, and that is world domination, at least from 1890s if not earlier, one can say that. World domination is something which appeals to both Republicans and Democrats or Liberals or Conservatives. The idea that we’re the exceptional nation and have something very important to impart to the rest of the world, our marvelous values, American exceptionalism… Each party believes in that very strongly. They don’t argue about that at all, except through their campaign debate, they’ll take certain opposing views just to appear different. But, in power, they have the exact same policy – world domination.

SS: Now back in 2009 President Obama made it clear that the missile shield in Europe would no longer be necessary if the threat from Iran was eliminated – and nuclear deal with Iran was struck. Now, historic deal is close, but NATO is saying there will be no change in missile shield plans – why not?

WB: Because NATO shares America’s desire to dominate the world. NATO is just an arm of the U.S. foreign policy, there’s no point actually in making a distinction between US foreign policy and NATO policy – they are the same. If US were not in NATO, NATO would not exist. US founded NATO, US is its main supporter and financial source, there’s no distinction between US and NATO, and they share the same view of American world domination. So, it doesn’t matter whether Iran is doing this or that – they know that Iran is not a lover of an Empire, and anyone who’s not a lover of the Empire has a short life span. Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, whatever. That is the test, do you love Empire or not.

SS: But, can we be a little bit more precise about this “domination” theory – NATO has been strengthening its eastern borders with military building up on Russia’s doorsteps, and a rapid reaction force to include 30,000 personnel – why this deployment? Who is it aimed against?

WB: It is aimed against Russia. The US cannot stand anyone who might stay in the way of the Empire’s expansion – and Russia and China are the only nations which can do that. Other nations, like Cuba or Iran or Venezuela are regarded as enemy just as well, because they have the polity influence: Cuba has influence over all of the Western hemisphere. That makes them a great enemy. But the basic criteria of Empire’s expansion is whether you support Empire or not, and that excludes all the countries I’ve named – from Cuba to Russia.

SS: Do you think U.S. would go as far as using force against its enemies?

WB: Well, the US has used force against its enemies on a regular basis for two centuries. Of course they would use force! They’ve used force against Cuba, they invaded Cuba and they’ve supported Cuban exiles in all kinds of violent activities for 60 years. Violence is never far removed from the U.S. policy. Let me summarize something for the benefit of listeners: since 1946 the US has attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments. In the same time period it has attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders. It has bombed the people of 30 countries, it has suppressed revolutionary parties in at least 20 nations – and I forgot other factors on my list. This is a record unparalleled in all of human history, and there’s no reason to think it is changing of will change, except if some superior force comes on a scene, that can actually defeat U.S.

SS: But, you know, French intelligence – and France seems to be an ally of the U.S. – the French intelligence chief has recently said that they found no evidence of Russia planning to invade Ukraine. So why has NATO been pressing these claims of an imminent invasion so hard and for so long?

WB: Because Russia has two characteristics of an enemy, which Washington cannot tolerate: one, it has very powerful military capabilities, and two, it is not a kind of Washington’s policy, it is not a great admirer of the Empire. The same applies to China. That’s all it takes: you don’t admire us and have military force – that’s all it takes to be an enemy of Washington.

SS: The problem is, there’s a ceasefire that seems in place, right? But US paratroopers have arrived in Ukraine to train forces in the country, and it’s not the first such deployment we’ve seen. So, with ceasefire agreement and peace deal on the way, why is Washington sending troops now?

WB: They know very well that Ukraine is not…or those who live in Ukraine and support Russia, Washington knows very well that these people are not on their side, and will not be on their side, and there’s no way to make them on our side, so, US is expecting to wipe them out militarily at some point in the near future. As soon as they can get all the politics in place, there’s no backtracking from these policies. I must repeat myself again: Washington wants to dominate the world and anyone, including people in the south-eastern part of Ukraine, who don’t share that view, they are enemies, and at some point they may be met with military force.

SS: So are you saying that America doesn’t want peace in Ukraine, because US is sending military personnel to Ukraine – like I’ve said – while Europeans are negotiating peace without America’s involvement?

WB: Washington is not looking for peace or war. It is looking for domination, and if they can achieve domination peacefully – that’s fine. If they can’t, they’ll use war. It’s that simple.

SS: So, like you’ve said, America is one of the main financiers of NATO; there’s also Estonia and they meet NATO’s funding goals. Why are the rest of its members lagging behind? Isn’t the alliance important to them as well?

WB: They have their own home politics that they deal with, they each have their own financial needs to deal with, they each have their own relation with Washington to deal with, it varies. It is not exactly the same in these countries, but overall, no member of NATO is going to fight against Washington. No member of NATO was going to support the insurgence in Ukraine – not one. So there’s no need to go upon who is not paying and who is paying – none of them will ever go against Washington’s policies in Ukraine or elsewhere.

SS: Now, on the other hand, Europe, U.S. and Russia – they share similar security threats, issues like Syria, Islamic State, there’s Afghanistan, and they are not going anywhere. Can these states work together if it is absolutely necessary, for example?

WB: They don’t have the same security threats. Washington just announces that people of various countries are enemies of the U.S. – that doesn’t make them a threat. Syria, for example, is no threat to the U.S. Neither was Iraq, neither was Libya. U.S. invades one country after another, totally independent of whether they are threat or not. As long as they don’t believe in the Empire, as long as they are helping enemies of the Empire. I mean, what threat was Libya to Washington? NATO invaded them without mercy, bombed them out of existence, they are a failed state now. What was their threat? There’s no threat. If Russia doesn’t announce Libya as a threat, it’s not because Russia has a different foreign policy – it’s because Russia is not so paranoid as the U.S., and Russia is not looking for world domination.

SS: Russia has been criticized many times for its decision to supply air defense missile systems to Iran. Now, why is America so worried about anti-air missile defense Iran may get from Russia? It’s not like Washington got plans to bomb Iran, right?

WB: Of course they do, and so does Israel. You can’t put aside those fears. Washington, as I mentioned before, has bombed more than 30 countries. Why would they stop now? Iran is a definite target of the U.S. and Israel, and it’s very understandable that Iran would want to have advanced missile defense systems.

SS: But look: US is staying out of Yemen now, it’s not willing to commit ground troops to Iraq or get involved in Syria. It sometimes looks like Washington is growing weary of foreign interventions, lately.

WB: They are still supporting the enemies of Syria, and they are making sure that Assad will not come back to power. They are bombing places all over Syria, which can be useful militarily to Syria. They have not forgotten about Syria at all. Iraq is ally at the moment, but tomorrow or yesterday it is something different. You can’t just look at today and say “they’re not fighting here and there” and think “Oh, Washington has finally found peace”. No. Their basic goal is unchanged – today, tomorrow, or next year. I must say, again, for the tenth time, it is world domination.

SS: Now, you’ve written in one of your books, the “Rogue State” that if you were President, you’d end all US foreign interventions at once. Can the US do that? Is it that simple? I mean, US left Iraq and look what happened.

WB: If I were a President, yes, that’s what I would do. And then I add, to the portion you’ve quoted, I add at the end of paragraph, on my fifth day in the office I would be assassinated. So, that’s what happens to people who want to challenge the Empire’s policies. But I would have great time for the first few days.

SS: But can the US realistically do that? End all of their foreign interventions at once? Because, we see an example of Iraq, once they left, ISIS spread.

WB: The US has created ISIS. Let me point this out – a short while ago, there were four major states in the Middle East and South Asia, which were secular. The US invaded Iraq, then invaded Libya and overthrew that secular government. Then it’s been in the process now, for some years, attempting to overthrow the secular government in Syria. There’s no wonder that Middle East and South Asia have been taken over by religious fanatics: all the possible enemies and barriers to that had been wiped out by Washington. Why will they stop now?

SS: I see your point. While Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be exactly described as victories for American troops, I mean, the invasions have also resulted, for instance, in girls being able to go to school in Afghanistan, or Kurds finally having a state in Iraq, for instance.

WB: I must tell you something and all your listeners. At one time, in 1980s, Afghanistan had a progressive government, where women had full rights; they even wore mini-skirts. And you know what happened to that government? The US overthrew it. So please, don’t tell me about US policy helping the girls or the women of Afghanistan. We are the great enemy of females of Afghanistan.

SS: You’ve also said that an end to US interventions would mean an end to terror attacks. What makes you think Islamic State and Al-Qaeda and other terror groups would cease to exist – and I’m talking about right now, I am not talking about “if America hadn’t invaded them back then”. Right now, if American interventions cease, what makes think that these terrorist groups would cease to exist as well?

WB: It may be too late now. When I wrote that, it was correct. It may be too late now. After what we’ve done to all secular governments in the Middle East and in South Asia, after all that, I am not sure I would say the same thing again. We’ve unleashed ISIS, and they’re not going to be stopped by any kind words or nice changes of policy by Washington. They have to be wiped out militarily. They are an amazing force of horror, and the U.S. is responsible for them, but the barn door may be closed, it may be too late now to simply change our policy.

SS: So do you think US should use military force to eradicate these terrorist groups?

WB: Well, I could say “yes”, except that the US will cheat. They will use the same force to attack other people, like in Syria, they will use the same force to help overthrow Assad, and they will use the same force to suppress any segment of Iraq or what have you, which are anti-America. They cannot be trusted, that’s the problem. When they start to use force, there’s no holding them back, and they don’t care about the civilians. The civilian death toll with any bombing of Syria and Iraq is unlimited. So, for those reasons, I cannot support US bombing of Iraq or Syria or anywhere else. The US bombing should cease everywhere in the world.

SS: When I listen to you, it sounds like America overthrows all these governments and bombs all these countries, and makes revolutions – from people’s point of view, revolutions and overthrows are really impossible if they are not conducive to people’s moods on the ground. So you’re saying the foreign policy has greatly contributed to the rise of radical Islam in the Middle East, but I wonder – don’t locals have control over their own direction at all?

WB: The locals had no say whatsoever on whether the US would bomb or not, they had no say whatsoever on whether the US would overthrow governments chosen by the people, often – they have no say in these things. Now, they may hate ISIS, or some of them might hate ISIS, but it’s too late. They can’t do anything about it. The world is in terrible position. The world had a chance, 30-40 years ago, to stop the US from all of these interventions. If NATO had been closed, the way the Warsaw Pact was closed, the Soviet Union closed the Warsaw Pact with the expectation that NATO will also go out of business – but the US did not do that, and it’s too late now. I don’t know what to say, what will save the world now.

SS: You’ve mentioned Cuba and Venezuela in the beginning of the programme. Now, we witnessed several historic meetings recently, between President Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro, also Obama’s meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro – why is Obama now talking with states the US has long considered arch-enemies?

WB: You must keep in mind, first of all, that nothing whatsoever has changed, as of this moment nothing has changed. We have to wait and see what happens, and I’m very sceptical. For example, with Cuba, the main issue is the US sanctions which have played havoc with Cuban economy and society. That has not changed, and I don’t think it is going to change even in my lifetime. So, you can’t apply some kind of changes taking place. Why Obama is saying these things he’s saying now may have to do with his so-called “legacy”. He knows his time is very limited, and he knows he has many enemies amongst progressives in the US and elsewhere. He may want to cater to them for some reason. I don’t know, neither do you know, no one knows exactly why he’s saying these things – but they don’t mean anything yet. Nothing has changed whatsoever.

SS: So you’re saying there’s really no substance in those meetings… Now, looking back, what would you call Obama’s biggest achievements of his two terms – I mean, people say there’s been a reconciliation with Cuba, with Iran, there’s an earnest attempt to end US deployment in Iraq and in Afghanistan, he didn’t move troops into Syria. Would you disagree with all of that?

WB: Yes, all of that. There’s no accomplishment whatsoever. He didn’t move troops into Syria because of Russia, and not because of him making any change. He was embarrassed in that. John Kerry made a remark about “it would be nice if Syria would get rid of its chemical weapons – but that’s not going to happen” he said, and then foreign minister Lavrov of Russia jumped in and said “Oh really? We’ll arrange that” – and they arranged Syria to get rid of chemical weapons. That was, yes, a slip of the tongue by John Kerry, and he was embarrassed to challenge Lavrov. We can say the same thing about any of the things you’ve mentioned. There’s no substance involved in any of these policies. The US has not relented at all over Syria. As I’ve mentioned before, they are bombing Syria’s military assets, they are killing civilians every day. Syria is still a prime target of Washington, and they will never escape.

SS: Thank you very much for this interesting insight, we were talking to William Blum, historian and author of bestsellers “Rogue State” and “America’s Deadliest Export” discussing matters of the US foreign policy and what would happen if the US decides to end all of its foreign interventions at once. That’s it for this edition of Sophie&Co, I will see you next time.


 

Eurasia As We (And the U.S.) Knew It is Dead

April 19th, 2015 by Pepe Escobar

Move over, Cold War 2.0. The real story, now and for the foreseeable future, in its myriad declinations, and of course, ruling out too many bumps in the road, is a new, integrated Eurasia forging ahead.

China’s immensely ambitious New Silk Road project will keep intersecting with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EEC). And that will be the day when the EU wakes up and finds a booming trade/commerce axis stretching from St. Petersburg to Shanghai. It’s always pertinent to remember that Vladimir Putin sold a similar, and even more encompassing, vision in Germany a few years ago – stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

It will take time – and troubled times. But Eurasia’s radical face lift is inexorable. This implies an exceptionalist dream – the U.S. as Eurasia hegemon, something that still looked feasible at the turn of the millennium – fast dissolving right before anyone’s eyes.

Russia pivots East, China pivots West

A few sound minds in the U.S. remain essential as they fully deconstruct the negatives, pointing to the dangers of Cold War 2.0. The Carnegie Moscow Center’s Dmitri Trenin, meanwhile, is more concerned with the positives, proposing a road map for Eurasian convergence.

The Russia-China strategic partnership – from energy trade to defense and infrastructure development – will only solidify, as Russia pivots East and China pivots West. Geopolitically, this does not mean a Moscow subordinated to Beijing, but a rising symbiotic relationship, painstakingly developed in multiple stages.

The BRICs – that dirty word in Washington – already have way more global appeal, and as much influence as the outdated G-7. The BRIC New Development Bank, ready to start before the end of 2015, is a key alternative to G7-controlled mechanisms and the IMF.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is bound to include India and Pakistan at their upcoming summer summit in Russia, and Iran’s inclusion, post-sanctions as an official member, would be virtually a done deal by 2016. The SCO is finally blossoming as the key development, political/economic cooperation and security forum across Asia.

Putin’s “greater Europe” from Lisbon to Vladivostok – which would mean the EU + EEC – may be on hold while China turbo-charges the its New Silk Road in both its overland and maritime routes. Meanwhile, the Kremlin will concentrate on a parallel strategy – to use East Asian capital and technology to develop Siberia and the Russian Far East. The yuan is bound to become a reserve currency across Eurasia in the very near future, as the ruble and the yuan are about to rule for good in bilateral trade.

The German factor

“Greater Europe” from Lisbon to Vladivostok inevitably depends on a solution to the German puzzle. German industrialists clearly see the marvels of Russia providing Germany – much more than the EU as a whole – with a privileged geopolitical and strategic channel to Asia-Pacific. However, the same does not apply as yet to German politicos. Chancellor Angela Merkel, whatever her rhetoric, keeps toeing the Washington line.

The Russian Pipelineistan strategy was already in place – via Nord Stream and South Stream – when interminable EU U-turns led Moscow to cancel South Stream and launch Turk Stream (which will, in the end, increase energy costs for the EU). The EU, in exchange, would have virtually free access to Russia’s wealth of resources, and internal market. The Ukraine disaster means the end of all these elaborate plans.

Germany is already the defacto EU conductor for this economic express train. As an export powerhouse, its only way to go is not West or South, but East. Thus, the portentous spectacle of an orchestra of salivating industrialists when Xi Jinping went to Germany in the spring of 2104. Xi proposed no less than a high-speed rail line linking the New Silk Road from Shanghai to Duisburg and Berlin.

A key point which shouldn’t be lost on Germans: a vital branch of the New Silk Road is the Trans-Siberian high-speed rail remix. So one of the yellow BRIC roads to Beijing and Shanghai boasts Moscow as a strategic pit stop.

That Empire of Chaos …

Beijing’s Go West strategy overland is blissfully free of hyperpower meddling – from the Trans-Siberian remix to the rail/road routes across the Central Asian “stans” all the way to Iran and Turkey. Moreover, Russia sees it as a symbiosis, considering a win-win as Central Asian stans jump simultaneously aboard the EEU and what Beijing dubs the Silk Road Economic Belt.

On other fronts, meanwhile, Beijing is very careful to not antagonize the U.S., the reigning hyperpower. See for instance this quite frank but also quite diplomatic interview to the Financial Times by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

One key aspect of the Russia-China strategic partnership is that both identify Washington’s massively incoherent foreign policy as a prime breeder of chaos – exactly as I argue in my book Empire of Chaos.

In what applies specifically to China and Russia, it’s essentially chaos as in divide and rule. Beijing sees Washington trying to destabilize China’s periphery (Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang), and actively interfering in the South China Sea disputes. Moscow sees Washington obsessed with the infinite expansion of NATO and taking no prisoners in preventing Russia’s efforts at Eurasian integration.

Thus, the certified death of Russia’s previous geopolitical strategy. No more trying to feel included in an elite Western club such as the G-8. No more strategic partnership with NATO.

Always expert at planning well in advance, Beijing also sees how Washington’s relentless demonization of not only Putin, but Russia as a whole (as in submit or else), constitute a trial run on what might be applied against China in the near future.

Meet the imponderables

All bets are off on how the fateful U.S.-China-Russia triangle will evolve. Arguably, it may take the following pattern: The Americans talk loud and carry an array of sticks; the Russians are not shy to talk back while silently preparing strategically for a long, difficult haul; the Chinese follow a modified “Little Helmsman” Deng Xiaoping doctrine – talk very diplomatically while no longer keeping a low profile.

Beijing’s already savvy to what Moscow has been whispering: Exceptionalist Washington – in decline or not – will never treat Beijing as an equal or respect Chinese national interests.

In the great Imponderables chapter, bets are still accepted on whether Moscow will use this serious, triple threat crisis – sanctions, oil price war, ruble devaluation – to radically apply structural game changers and launch a new strategy of economic development. Putin’s recent Q&A, although crammed with intriguing answers, still isn’t clear on this.

Other great imponderable is whether Xi, armed with soft power, charisma and lots of cash, will be able to steer, simultaneously, the tweaking of the economic model and a Go West avalanche that does not end up alienating China’s multiple potential partners in building the New Silk roads.

A final, super-imponderable is whether (or when, if ever) Brussels will decide to undertake a mutually agreed symbiosis with Russia. This, vs. its current posture of total antagonism that extends beyond geopolitical issues. Germany, under Merkel, seems to have made the choice to remain submitted to NATO, and thus, a strategic midget.

So what we have here is the makings of a Greater Asia from Shanghai to St. Petersburg – including, crucially, Tehran – instead of a Total Eurasia that extends from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Total Eurasia may be broken, at least for now. But Greater Asia is a go. There will be a tsunami of efforts by the usual suspects, to also break it up.

All this will be fascinating to watch. How will Moscow and Beijing stare down the West – politically, commercially and ideologically – without risking a war? How will they cope with so much pressure? How will they sell their strategy to great swathes of the Global South, across multiple Asian latitudes?

One battle, though, is already won. Bye, bye Zbigniew Brzezinski. Your grand chessboard hegemonic dream is over.

by Beyond Nuclear

Prefecture court in Japan has ruled that the only real protection from a catastrophic nuclear accident is to keep the nation’s atomic reactors shut down.  Hideaki Higuchi, a local judge for Fukui, ordered that the Takahama nuclear power plant remain closed as there is not adequate proof that another disaster caused by an earthquake can be reliably averted if the atomic reactors are operating.  Judge Higuchi had previously ordered that the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui also remain closed for the same reason. Judge Higuchi’s Takahama order overruled Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority’s decision to restart under revised regulatory standards.    In spite of the Abe government’s push to restart atomic power, Japan remains “Zero Nuclear” by popular demand and legal authority.

The court order occurs as TEPCO officials admit that environmental cleanup of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster is centuries away.  Naohiro Masuda and Akira Ono , two top-level TEPCO senior managers charged with “decommissioning” the three melted Fukushima reactors say that a myriad of extremely complex and unproven technologies for removing, cleaning up and managing the melted reactor cores does not currently exist and “cannot say it is possible.”

Dale Klein, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair and now TEPCO’s chief apologist for the bankrupt corporation’s reactor restart committee, also admitted that a cleanup technology is non-existent. He and TEPCO however continue to hold out hope that robotic technology can eventually be developed to cleanup the radioactive site which accumulates hundreds of tons of radioactive water each day.

Meanwhile, the latest in state-of-the-art robotic technology commissioned to locate one of melted cores had to be abandoned by TEPCO after it failed three hours on its journey into the wreckage.  The globally touted snake-like robot technology shut down before it could gather any information on the still missing and uncontained core material somewhere under Unit 1.

Copyright Beyond Nuclear 2015

“It is the triumph of filthy rich campaign contributors.”

Hillary Clinton just announced that she’s running for president. However, this commentary is not really about her. It’s about a nation of more than 300 million people in which politics has become the sole property and domain of the rich. The rich decided some time ago that Hillary Clinton would be the virtually unchallenged presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. The 48 percent of Americans that express an affinity with the Democratic Party have not yet chosen Clinton. There has been no primary election in any state. But, that does not matter because the selection process that counts occurs in the boardrooms and mansions and private clubs and getaways of the rich. Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill, have spent virtually their entire adult lives on the millionaires’ campaign circuit, the rich man’s primary. In the process of pleasing the rich, they have become rich, themselves.

Hillary hopes to spend two and a half billion dollars of – mostly – rich people’s money in the 2016 campaign. Wealthy people will be just as generous with the Republican candidate. The outcome on Election Day is absolutely certain: the rich man’s candidate will definitely win, and the people will lose – because they have no candidate in the major parties.

The people are not even in the game; the contest is over before the Democratic Party’s formal selection process even begins. And, when primary season does arrive, it will only be a formality. The menu has already been printed, and Hillary will be the main course for Democrats next year.

Democratic voters can say “Yes” to Hillary, but they can’t say “No,” because the party machinery and the rich men who pay for that machinery will crucify and expel any Democrat who seriously challenges her from the Left.

The Party has always been a scam.

The Democratic Party’s apologists like to call it a big tent with room for Blacks and browns and gays and labor and peace-loving people. But it’s actually a huge trap designed to contain and politically neutralize the folks who might otherwise turn against the rich. The Party has always been a scam, but at least in the old days it put on a populist show to fool the rank and file into believing that they could actually influence the party’s direction. However, Wall Street is determined that there will be no serious Democratic deviation from the corporate agenda set by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton would represent the third Clinton presidency – which, for Wall Street, is just as good as the two George Bush presidencies. Maybe better, because labor and Blacks and that fuzzy cohort called liberals will all think they won the election, when nothing could be farther from the truth. Rank and file Democrats will see the fait accompli of Hillary’s nomination as a sign of unity among Democrats, when in fact it is the triumph of filthy rich campaign contributors. The rich have shown great solidarity in uniting behind a Democratic presidential candidate. Later on, they will unite around a Republican candidate, too. After that, it won’t matter who wins.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

During the days of the Soviet Union, and in all dictatorial countries, the ‘news’ media were and are actually propaganda-media, which filter out information that the aristocracy (the people holding the real power, which in the Soviet Union were the Communist Party bosses) don’t want the public to know. Is the United States like that now?

I first came to the conclusion that the U.S. is a dictatorship in 2002, when I found proof that George W. Bush was lying to claim that he possessed proof that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding his WMD (weapons of mass destruction) stockpiles, and when the U.S. and UK ’news’ media hid this crucial fact that their heads-of-state were lying. Bush and British Prime Minster Tony Blair were arguing in 2002 against sending IAEA inspectors back into Iraq in order to verify whether or not Saddam was rebuilding his WMD stockpiles; they alleged that they (Bush-Blair) already possessed proof that he was accumulating WMD.

Here is how I found out that they were lying about that: On Saturday 7 September 2002, the White House issued “Remarks by the President and Prime Minister Tony Blair in Photo Opportunity Camp David” (still googlable at here), with the following exchange between a journalist and Bush-Blair:

THE PRESIDENT: AP lady.

Q Mr. President, can you tell us what conclusive evidence of any nuclear – new evidence you have of nuclear weapons capabilities of Saddam Hussein?

THE PRESIDENT: We just heard the Prime Minister talk about the new report. I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied – finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic – the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Absolutely right.

Then, as soon as the weekend was over, on Monday 9 September 2002, was issued by the IAEA the following:

Related Coverage: Director General’s statement on Iraq to the IAEA Board of Governors on 9 September 2002 [this being a republication of their notice three days earlier, on 6 Sep.].

Vienna, 06 September, 2002 - With reference to an article published today in the New York Times [which, as usual, stenographcally reported the Administration’s false allegations, which the IAEA was trying to correct in a way that would minimally offend the NYT and the U.S. President], the International Atomic Energy Agency would like to state that it has no new information on Iraq’s nuclear programme since December 1998 when its inspectors left Iraq [and verified that no WMD remained there at that time]. Only through a resumption of inspections in accordance with Security Council Resolution 687 and other relevant resolutions can the Agency draw any conclusion with regard to Iraq’s compliance with its obligations under the above resolutions relating to its nuclear activities.

Contact: Mark Gwozdecky, Tel: (+43 1) 2600-21270, e-mail: [email protected].

It even linked to the following statement from the IAEA Director General amplifying it:

Since December 1998 when our inspectors left Iraq, we have no additional information that can be directly linked without inspection to Iraq’s nuclear activities. I should emphasize that it is only through resumption of inspections that the Agency can draw any conclusion or provide any assurance regarding Iraq’s compliance with its obligations under these resolutions.

So, this was proof of the falsehood of Bush’s and Blair’s reference to the IAEA, in which Bush-Blair were saying that, upon the authority of the IAEA itself, there was “the new report … a report came out of the Atomic — the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.”

Bush invented “the new report”; it didn’t even exist, at all. And Blair, probably stunned that Bush possessed the gall to concoct things out of thin air that didn’t exist — and Blair also being Bush’s lapdog — confirmed Bush’s brazen lie, which Bush further brazenly alleged came originally from Blair. Bush’s entire brazenness likely shocked Blair. After all: Bush necessarily knew that his attributing his information “about the new report” from the IAEA, to Blair, as if Blair had read such an IAEA report (which was non-existent), was, itself, known by Blair to be false — he’s not so dumb. But Blair didn’t object to that, at all. He didn’t correct Bush; he didn’t even say (which would have been a tactful way to put it) “Well, perhaps I was misunderstood there by the President, but The New York Times does contain a rather alarming article about Iraq, which the President is referring to.”

Unfortunately, the American and British press simply ignored the IAEA’s contradiction of the U.S. President and of the British Prime Minister. (I deal in more detail on that in my 2004 IRAQ WAR: The Truth, pages 39-44.)

So: I knew, from this incident, that the U.S. and UK are dictatorships, and that the American and British publics were being lied into invading Iraq — into slaughtering and being slaughtered on the basis of dictators’ lies and aristocrats’ secret agendas. Though ultimately the inspectors did go back into Iraq, and they weren’t finding anything to indicate that Saddam had any new stockpiles, Bush-Blair alleged themselves to know better, and launched the 20 March 2003 invasion though the inspectors found no evidence to support the two leaders’ accusations.

Here are further documentations that the U.S. (and its lap-dog Britain) is a dictatorship, and that its (their) press is systematically controlled to block the public from knowing things that the aristocracy place their highest priority on keeping the public ignorant of:

“CNN Journalist ‘Governments Pay Us To Fake Stories’, Shocking Exposé”

“CNN News Stories Spoon Fed by the Gov’t”

“US Backs Honduras Death Squads”

“Leading German Journalist Admits CIA ‘Bribed’ Him and Other Leaders of the Western ‘Press’”

“The CIA and Other Government Agencies Have Long Used Propaganda Against the American People”

“How Reliable Is Reuters?”

“Western Media Blackout on the Reality in Ukraine”

“The Propaganda War About Ukraine”

“The Most-Censored News Story of 2014 Was ____(What?)_____.”

“Our ‘Enemies’ in Ukraine Speak”

“Even America’s ‘Media Watchdogs’ Hide U.S.’s Ukrainian Nazification & Ethnic Cleansing”

“NYT, Chrystia Freeland, on Ukraine: ‘This is not a civil war.’”

“Massive News-Suppression That’s Become History-Suppression”

And, finally, here is an article that I did for Huffington Post, and which they ‘published’ but buried so that virtually nobody saw it; and the reason why they ‘published’ it but hid it from the public is obvious, when you understand how this country’s dictatorship works:

“Hillary Clinton’s Two Foreign-Policy Catastrophes”

Now that story became ‘old news,’ even though it never had really been reported to the public as being news — and, so, it still actually is news, though it’s about events that occurred in 2009-2012, and so it’s history that is also, tragically, still news (because it’s still hidden).

In conclusion, regarding the title-question here: any purported national-news medium in the United States makes a choice between honestly reporting the news and being and staying small and not getting the major financial backing from the American aristocracy that would enable them to grow large; or else to sell out to the aristocracy.

The present news-article, like all I do, is being submitted free-of-charge to virtually all U.S. & UK national news media, including to CNN, NYT, HuffPo and the others I’ve mentioned here, so that they will be able to indicate now a desire to open up to the public as is done in an authentic democracy, just by their giving the present article prominent position, and so documenting that though the U.S., at present, is not a democracy, they really do want it to become  a democracy.

The American and UK ’news’ media were not held accountable for their having assisted their respective heads-of-state to deceive their public into supporting an invasion that would be based on lies, about Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Here, now, will be an opportunity for these media to turn the corner and choose to cease being ‘news’ (actually propaganda) media for a fascism, and for them to become instead news media for a democracy.

Because there really is a choice to make between fake ‘choices’ between Democratic and Republican politicians (or Labor and Tory politicians), versus real choices between democratic and fascist politicians; but there won’t be any democrat who can even possibly come to lead this country unless the aristocracy’s grip on the ‘news’ media becomes replaced by something else: control by the public. Because a government that’s answerable to the owners  of the ‘news’ media, instead of to the public, might as well itself own all the ‘news’ media (especially in our post Citizens United world, where the Government is controlled by the aristocracy). It’s not an authentic democracy, at all. And neither control by the aristocracy who control the government, nor control by the government itself, will allow a democracy to exist. The third option — direct control of the news-media by  the public, non-profit in a way that depends neither upon the aristocracy nor upon the government that the aristocrats control — is fundamental to the existence of any authentic democracy. How this can best be done is, of course, subject to debate. But that it must be done is a given for anyone who supports authentic democracy, because it’s essential to democracy, especially in a post-Citizens-United world.

And here is the bottom line on the current reality, to show that the United States, in particular, is, indeed, a dictatorship: “US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study.” So, if anyone tells you that the U.S. is a democracy, then just ask him or her to explain those findings. Because, now, you can  explain them. Those findings have been explained, right here. All of the explanation is empirical; none of it is imaginary, at all. Everything does  make sense. But it’s not necessarily the sense that has been publicized. On some matters, only the nonsense is being publicized. Because that’s far more profitable, to the people who hold the real power, in a dictatorship.

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

The Anthrax Coverup Exposed

April 19th, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Graeme MacQueen’s 2014 book, The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy, has been vindicated by the head of the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation.

Four and one-half months ago I posted a review of MacQueen’s book.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/12/02/2001-anthrax-deception-case-domestic-conspiracy/

The hired government apologists, the despicable presstitute media, and the usual gullible patriots greeted the book with screams of “conspiracy theory.” In fact, MacQueen’s book was a carefully researched project that established that there indeed was a conspiracy–a conspiracy inside the government.

MacQueen’s conclusion stands vindicated by Richard Lambert, the agent in charge of the FBI anthrax investigation who has turned whistleblower.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/04/head-fbis-anthrax-investigation-calls-b-s.html

It was obvious to any person familiar with the techniques that governments use to erode liberty by destroying the protection given to citizens by law that the purpose of the anthrax letters, especially the letters to senators Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle, was to raise the fear level in order to guarantee the passage of the tyrannical PATRIOT Act.

The PATRIOT Act was a decisive blow against American liberty. The act has served to negate the US Constitution in the 21st century and to endow the federal government with unaccountable and tyrannical powers.

In a court filing, Richard Lambert says that as the agent in charge of the investigation he was obstructed and impeded in his investigation for four years by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, by apathy and error from the FBI Laboratory, by erroneous legal decisions, and by politically motivated communication embargoes from FBI Headquarters.

As Lambert has filed a case in US District Court, it will be difficult for Washington to have him assassinated. However, Washington can still use its presstitutes against him.

Lambert says that there was far more exculpatory evidence in Bruce Ivins behalf than there was orchestrated circumstantial evidence against him. Ivins was Washington’s scapegoat after the orchestrated case against Steven Hatfill fell apart and Washington had to pay Hatfill $4.6 million for defamation. Lambert says the evidence was not sufficient for a court conviction of Ivins, who conveniently died or was murdered, and thus could be blamed without conviction.

Scientists have conclusively proven that the anthrax in the letters was advanced bio-weapons technology to which Ivins had no access.

Lambert’s accusations filed in federal court have the capability of exposing the entire 9/11 deception. It will be interesting to see if Washington can again prevail over law and truth and whether the American public will remain insouciant and content in their Matrix existence.

Asahi Shimbun, Apr 11, 2015 (emphasis added):

  • Google Translate: Ibaraki Prefecture… for a large amount of dolphin which was launched on the shore… the National Science Museum… investigated… researchers rushed from national museums and university laboratory, about 30 people were the anatomy of the 17 animals in the field. [According to Yuko Tajima] who led the investigation… “the lungs of most of the 17… was pure white ischemic state, visceral signs of overall clean and disease and infections were observed”… Lungs white state, that has never seen before.
  • Systran: The National Science Museum… investigated circumstance and cause etc concerning the mass dolphin which is launched to the seashore of Ibaraki prefecture… the researchers ran from the museum and the university laboratory… approximately 30 people dissected 17… [Yuko Tajima] of the National Science Museum which directed investigation research worker [said] “the most lung 17 was state with true white, but as for the internal organs being clean”… The lung true white as for state, says… have not seen.

Fukushima Diary, Apr 12, 2015: According to National Science Museum, most of the inspected 17 dolphins had their lungs in ischaemia state… The chief of the researching team stated “Most of the lungs looked entirely white”… internal organs were generally clean without any symptoms of disease or infection, but most of the lungs were in ischaemia state. She said “I have never seen such a state”.

Wikipedia: Ischemia is a vascular disease involving an interruption in the arterial blood supply to a tissue, organ, or extremity that, if untreated, can lead to tissue death.

Many reports have been published on the links between ischemia and radiation exposure:

  • “It has been shown that the ionizing radiation in small doses under certain conditions can be considered as one of starting mechanisms of… IHD [ischemic heart disease].” -Source
  • “Radiation risks on non-cancer effects has been revealed in the [Chernobyl] liquidators… Recently, the statistically significant dose risk of ischemic heart disease… was published.” -Source
  • “Incidence of and mortality from ischemic heart disease (IHD) have been studied in a cohort of 12210 workers [at] Mayak nuclear facility… there was statistically significant increasing trend in IHD incidence with total external gamma dose.” -Source
  • “Numerous studies have been published concerning non cancer diseases in liquidators… Risk of ischemic heart disease… seems increased.” -Source
  • “In 1990 the International Chernobyl Project has been carried out under the aegis of the IAEA… It is known that the international experts who had taken part in the International Chernobyl Project were aware of the report by the Minster of the Ministry of Health Care of Belarus delivered at an informal meeting arranged by the IAEA… The Belorussian Minister reported about… the worsening of the general health state of the affected population… “Among adults in 1988 there was a two- to fourfold increase, in comparison with preceding years, in the number of persons suffering from… ischemic heart diseases” -Source
  • “In a study on a Russian cohort of 61,000 Chernobyl emergency workers… a statistically significant risk of ischemic heart disease was observed.” -Source

Eager to cut, savage and wind back constructive projects in the realm of medicine, science and education, Australia’s government has made its latest head-shaking announcement on budgetary issues. The veteran climate change sceptic Bjørn Lomborg is going to become the recipient of $4 million in Australian tax payers’ money.  According to a spokesman for education minister, Christopher Pyne, the government was going to be providing the money over four years to “bring the Copenhagen Consensus methodology to Australia” houses at newly established centre at the University of Western Australia.

While Pyne and company have given the impression that university staff were briefed on the move, many have demurred from that account.  The university’s vice-chancellor, among a few others, seemed to be the only ones kept in the loop about the move.  Instead of seeing how well used such money would be, Prof Paul Johnson could only reduce it to general terms, claiming that “it is difficult to get federal dollars to flow across the Nullabor.”  Anything will do.

The baffling nature of this funding move is to be contrasted by the diminished standing Lomborg has in his native Denmark, whose government defunded the centre in 2012.  This ended eight years of regular supply.  Showing how antiquated and disregarded centres have their populist purpose, the climate denialists in the Abbott government have decided to give the finger to science in favour of the Lomborg “consensus”, which is its own form of contrarian dogma.

To date, Lomborg’s donors have preferred to be anonymous and private.  He has admitted to receiving moneys from the Kaufman Foundation, New Ventures Foundation, the Rush Foundation and the Randolph Foundation.[1] His outfit involves seven full time employees dedicated to commissioning “all the smart economists from around the world to write the papers that actually estimate what are the costs and benefits [of climate change policies].”  Science remains the unfortunate orphan in this project, while economics is the privileged child of the endeavour.

This is not to say that Lomborg is an absolutist on denying climate change.   He eschews hysteria about an ending world, disappearing cities, the calamitous results of environmental upheaval.  Having read an interview with economist Julian Simon in Wired Magazine in 1997, one claiming that the naysayers and doomsdayer types were wrong in presuming that things were getting worse,  Lomborg commenced his work on The Sceptical Environmentalist.  “Yes, global warming is real, it is a challenge, but the typical way we solve it turns out to be a pretty poor investment of resources.”

In 2001, when the book came out, it produced a range of positive reviews from The Economist,Washington Post and The New York Times.  But while being critical about the apocalyptic alarmism of various climate change lobbies, including rates of deforestation and species extinction, he provided a recipe for splendid policy inertia. Climate change denialists flocked to him and feted the academic from Aarhus.  They did not have to wait too long for Lomborg’s follow up work, Cool It.

The critics found examples of statistical distortion, misuse of data and traditional cherry picking.  While his targets are supposedly the alarmists, he, in turn, is the master of environmental understatement, adding colours of optimism to a world otherwise doomed.  He remains, at heart, an efficiency maximiser in the economic tradition, not a sound environmental don.

Since then, he continues to pour water – he has ample amounts of it – over arguments about catastrophic upheaval.  He cites studies showing “a decrease in the world’s surface that has been afflicted by droughts since 1982.”[2]  The costs of some natural disasters has increased because of population growth and proximity of humans to the danger zones.  Are people in poor states at greater risk to climate change results or basic indigence?  According to Lomborg, “if we want to help the poor people who are most threatened by natural disasters, we have to recognise that it is less about cutting carbon emissions than it is about pulling them out of poverty” (Wall Street Journal, Feb 1).

In March, Lomborg found himself helping the Australian government to launch the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s development innovation hub.  To show how he has become a weapon in the climate change wars, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop would claim that he was “a leading economist and a creative thinker and will add to the international input for our exciting new innovation initiative for the delivery of aid.”  But the opening of the hub seemed somewhat absurd in the context of foreign aid as a policy – after all, its levels have been, in the words of foreign affairs spokeswoman for Labor, Tanya Plibersek, the “weakest” and “most-depleted… in Australian history”.[3]

For all his focus on cost-effective expenditure, his centre has become part of an even poorer investment of resources, allied as they are to government subsidies in non-renewable, and polluting sources.  Where Lomborg and Abbott government see eye to eye is the veneration they afford fossil fuels, notably cheap fossil fuels.  Dirty coal, for Abbott, is mighty and sovereign; for Lomborg, making such fuels accessible to the developing world is fundamental.  This constitutes a polluter’s charter.

According to opposition environment spokesperson Mark Butler, a cash-strapped Abbott government was proving all too willing to part with the goods when it came to Lomborg. “Tony Abbott has found millions of taxpayers’ dollars to fund his attack on renewable energy while at the same time gutting Australia’s science and university funding… [he] has deputised one of the world’s most well-known renewable energy sceptics to continue his climate change denial and attacks on renewable energy” (The Australian, Apr. 17).

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

Notes:

In this public response to the smear campaign and personal attacks on Richard Horton, The Lancet Editor-in-Chief, Lancet Complaint to Reed Elsevier, we assert:-

1. Richard Horton is highly regarded as an exceptional leader in global health and as a campaigning Editor of The Lancet in the best traditions of the Journal.

2. Politics is intrinsic to many health issues and a legitimate subject for health commentary and debate, especially in the world’s leading global health journal. Controversy is an inevitable and healthy aspect of public discourse on political issues.

3. The “Open letter to the people of Gaza” addressed an important topical issue, the main points of which have been substantiated by subsequent, independent, reports of what happened in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, of which it is possible that some of the complainants are unaware.

4. To describe the Open letter as ”stereotypical extremist hate propaganda” is inaccurate and unhelpful hyperbole.

5. The Lancet provided equal coverage of views for and against the letter in subsequent published correspondence, reflecting the ratio of letters received by the Journal and allowing a healthy debate to take place.

6. The Lancet Ombudsman’s review of the issue was balanced and fair, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the letter and how the controversy was handled, for all to see. She was not persuaded that the letter should be retracted.

7. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is best placed to judge whether its Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines have been breached. A previous Chair of COPE has written that the Open letter should not be retracted.

8. The heavy-handed attempt to force The Lancet to withdraw the Open letter is the latest in a series of attempts to stifle media coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue and should be resisted.

9. In the light of reports by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and others, the “unfinished business” of Operation Protective Edge is to determine whether and by whom, from either side of the conflict, violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed.

15 April 2015

Scroll down to read the full response.

WRITING GROUP:

Professor Graham Watt MD FRCGP FRSE FMedSci, Professor of General Practice, University of Glasgow, UK

Sir Iain Chalmers DSc FFPH FRCP Edin FRCP FMedSci, Coordinator, James Lind Initiative, Oxford, UK

Professor Rita Giacaman, PharmD, MPhil, Professor of Public Health, Birzeit University, occupied Palestinian territory

Professor Mads Gilbert MD PhD, Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Tromsø, Norway

Professor John S Yudkin MD FRCP, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University College London, UK

If you wish to communicate with the Writing Group please email [email protected]

SUPPORTING SIGNATORIES:

Professor Emeritus Jarle Aarbakke MD PhD Former President (Rector) UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway

Professor Adel Afifi, MD, MS Professor Emeritus, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, US.

Professor Rima Afifi, PhD Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Dr. Neil Arya, MD, CCFP, FCFP D Litt Assistant Clinical Professor Family Medicine, McMaster University, Adjunct Professor Family Medicine Western University, Adjunct Professor Environment and Resources Studies University of Waterloo, Canada.

Dr. Rajaie Batniji, MD, DPhil Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Stanford University, US

Professor Robert Beaglehole DSc FRS(NZ) ONZM Professor Emeritus, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Professor Espen Bjertness, PhD Head, Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

Professor Rolf Busund, MD PhD Professor of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Professor Simon Capewell DSc MD Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Liverpool, UK.

Professor Phil Cotton MD Professor of Learning and Teaching, University of Glasgow, UK.

Professor George Davey Smith MD DSc FMedSci Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Bristol, UK.

Professor John A Davies Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge, UK.4

Dr. James Deutsch, MD, PhD, FRCPC Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada.

Judith Deutsch, M.S.W. Faculty, Toronto Psychoanalytic Institute, Canada. Former President Science for Peace (2008-2012)

Professor Abbas Elzein, PhD Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Sydney, Australia.

Sir Terence English KBE FRCS FRCP. Former President of the Royal College of Surgeons, President of the British Medical Association and Master of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, UK.

Professor Gene Feder MD FRCGP Professor of Primary Health Care, University of Bristol, UK.

Professor Olav Helge Foerde, MD PhD Department of Community Medicine, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Professor Per Fugelli, MD Professor of Social Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

Dr. Miriam Garfinkle, MD Retired Community Physician, Independent Jewish Voices, Canada.

Emilio Gianicolo, Researcher of the Italian National Research Council, Italy. Since September 2013, guest researcher at the University of Mainz, Institute of Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics in Mainz, Germany.

Professor Gordon Guyatt, PhD Distinguished Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Medicine, McMaster University, Canada.

Professor Rima Habib, PhD, MPH, MOHS Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Professor Gudmund Hernes Norwegian Business School, Oslo; Former Norwegian Minister of Education and Research (1990-95), and of Health (1995-97)

Professor Dennis Hogan,PhD Robert E. Turner Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Population Studies and Sociology, Brown University, US.

Professor Gerd Holmboe-Ottesen, PhD Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

Professor Anne Husebekk MD PhD Rector of UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Professor Tor Ingebrigtsen MD PhD Hospital Chief Executive/CEO, The University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Dr. Lars Jerden, MD, PhD Center for Clinical Research Dalarna, Sweden.

Professor Jak Jervell, PhD Professor Emeritus, Honorary President, International Diabetes Federation, Norway.

Professor Ann Louise Kinmonth CBE FMedSci Emeritus Professor of General Practice, University of Cambridge, UK.

Professor Rebecca Kay PhD Professor of Russian Gender Studies; Co-convenor Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network GRAMNET, University of Glasgow, UK

Professor Debbie Lawlor FMedSci Professor of Epidemiology, University of Bristol, UK.

Professor Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH FXB Professor of Practice of Health and Human Rights, Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, US.

Professor Emeritus Georges Midrè, PhD Department of Sociology, Political Science and Community Planning, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Professor Alan Myers, MD, MPH, FAAP Professor of Paediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, US.

Professor Kaare Norum, MS, PhD Former president (Rector) University of Oslo, Former Dean of Medical Faculty, University of Oslo, Norway.

Professor Iman Nuwayhid, PhD Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Professor Kate O’Donnell PhD Professor of Primary Care Research and Development, University of Glasgow, UK.

Professor Ole Petter Ottersen, MD, PhD Rector of the University of Oslo, Norway.

Professor Alison Phipps, OBE, PHD, FRSE Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, University of Glasgow, UK. Co-Convener: Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network, UK.

Professor Raija-Leena Punamaki, PhD School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Finland.

Reem A. Qadir MSW RSW A social worker with extensive work experience in Individual and Family Therapy, Canada.

Dr. Sara Roy, PhD Senior Research Scholar Associate, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, US.

Professor Harry Shannon, PhD Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Canada

Professor Debbie Sharp PhD FRCGP Professor of Primary Health Care, University of Bristol, UK.

Dr. Angelo Stefanini, MD, MPH Scientific Director, Centre for International Health. Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy.

Professor Johanne Sundby, PhD/MD Department of Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

Dr. George Tawil, MD Clinical Associate Professor, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington DC. Past president of the Medical Staff, Inova Alexandria Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia. Past Chair, Medical Affairs Council, Inova Health Systems, Fairfax, Virginia, US.

Professor Paul Wallace FRCGP FFPHM Emeritus David Cohen Professor of Primary Care, University College London, UK.

Professor Steinar Westin MD PhD Department of Public Health and General Practice, The Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway.

Professor Salim Yusuf, DPhil, FRCPC, FRSC, O.C. Professor of Medicine, McMaster University, Canada

Professor Huda Zurayk, PhD Professor and previous Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Introduction

On 31 March 2015, 396 professors and doctors, led by Professor Sir Mark Pepys, submitted a complaint to the Senior Management and Board of Reed Elsevier concerning “egregious editorial misconduct at The Lancet that is unacceptable in general and also gravely violates your own published Editorial Policies”.

The signatories include 5 Nobel laureates, 4 knights and a Lord. 193 (49%) of the signatories are from the US, 95 (24%) from Israel, 33 (8%) from the UK, 26 from France, 19 from Canada, 12 from Australia with smaller numbers from Belgium (3), Brazil (3), Italy (2), Denmark (2), Mexico (1), Panama (1), South Africa (1), Sweden (1) and Switzerland (1).

The complaint makes brief mention of The Lancet’s publication of the paper by Wakefield, linking MMR vaccine to autism, which was shown subsequently to be fraudulent, but is chiefly concerned with The Lancet Editor-in-Chief, Richard Horton, and his alleged “persistent and inappropriate misuse of The Lancet to mount a sustained political vendetta concerning the Israel-Palestinian conflict, to promote his own well known personal political agenda”.

The centre of the complaint concerns “An open letter for the people of Gaza” by Manduca and 23 others, which was published online by The Lancet on 22nd July and in hard copy on 2nd August 2014, 14 days into “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s 50 day attack on Gaza.

The complainants consider that this letter, and The Lancet’s handling of the controversy it aroused, breached both the Journal’s own policies and the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors issues by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

The complaint ends by requiring “Reed Elsevier to behave ethically by retracting the Manduca letter, apologizing for its publication and ensuring that any further editorial malpractice at The Lancet is prevented”.

Chronology of events

8 July 2014

Israel began a major military assault on the Gaza Strip, the fourth in eight years. It lasted 50 days and was more devastating than previous offensives. 2,220 Gaza residents were killed, of whom at least 70% were civilians, including over 500 children. More than 17,000 residents were wounded and over 100,000 made homeless (UN OCHAopt, 2014). According to Israeli official accounts, 73 Israelis were killed: 67 soldiers and 6 civilians, including one child and one migrant worker. 469 Israeli soldiers and 255 civilians were wounded (Bachmann et al. 2014).

15-22 July 2014

A report cited by the Sunday Telegraph newspaper records that 125 children were killed during the week 15-22 July 2014, including 59 on 20th July.

22 July 2014

On the 14th day of Israel’s 50-day assault ‘An open letter for the people in Gaza’, co-authored by 24 signatories from Italy, the UK and Norway, was published by the medical journal The Lancet, initially online and subsequently in print (Manduca et al. 2014a). One of the signatories provided eyewitness accounts of the medical consequences for the civilian population, while working clinically at the largest trauma centre in Gaza during the first weeks of the assault. The letter was endorsed online by more than 20,000 signatories.

9 and 16 August 2014

The Lancet published 20 letters in hard copy editions, divided equally between authors criticising and supporting the Open Letter. Some correspondents declared that medicine “should not take sides” and that those who speak out against the consequences of war for civilians incited hate or introduced politics “where there is no place for it” (see, for example, Konikoff et al. 2014). Others described the letter as “anti-Jewish bigotry, pure and simple” (Marmor et al. 2014), although at least one of the authors of the ‘Open Letter’ was Jewish, and the word “Jewish” did not appear in the letter. Similar charges were made in the lay press, both within Israel and elsewhere (see Simons 2014, for example).

One of the letters published in response to the ‘Open Letter’ was co-authored by seven Jewish health professionals in South Africa (London et al. 2014). They suggested that “remaining neutral in the face of injustice is the hallmark of a lack of ethical engagement typical of docile populations under fascism”. They had witnessed and exposed some of the worst excesses of state brutality under apartheid, and had been harassed, victimised or detained for being anti-apartheid activists. They pointed out that they did not have the opportunity to air their views in their national medical journal, which suppressed public statements made by concerned health professionals and labelled such appeals for justice and human rights as ‘political’.

They expressed support for The Lancet’s decision to permit a discussion of the professional, ethical, and human rights implications of the conflict in Gaza, emphasizing that it is appropriate for health professionals to speak out on matters that are core to their professional values.

30 August 2014

After 20 responses to the ‘Open Letter’ had been published, its authors accepted The Lancet’s invitation to reply (Manduca et al. 2014b). They denied any financial conflicts of interests, as had been alleged, and listed the variety of experiences and affiliations that had led to their support for Palestinian society.

They noted that the allegations by the Ministry of Health in Gaza that gas had been used by the Israeli military would need to be tested by an independent Commission of Inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council. They ended by recalling the context in which they had written their letter: during the preceding two days one Palestinian child was being killed, on average, every two hours, and the UN had made clear how serious the situation had become:

The huge loss of civilian life, alongside credible reports about civilians or civilian objects (including homes) which have been directly hit by Israeli shelling, in circumstances where there was no rocket fire or armed group activity in the close vicinity, raise concerns about the principles of distinction and proportionality under international law.” (OCHA oPt 2014)

22 September 2014

Some were dissatisfied with The Lancet’s handling of the Open Letter. Two medical academics at University College London registered complaints with The Lancet Ombudsman (Simons 2014). One of them, Professor Sir Mark Pepys, was quoted in The Telegraph as having written that “The failure of the Manduca et al. authors to disclose their extraordinary conflicts of interest… are the most serious, unprofessional and unethical errors…The transparent effort to conceal this vicious and substantially mendacious partisan political diatribe as an innocent humanitarian appeal has no place in any serious publication, let alone a professional medical journal, and would disgrace even the lowest of the gutter press.”

Pepys suggested that the behaviour of Dr Horton, editor of The Lancet, was “consistent with his longstanding and wholly inappropriate use of The Lancet as a vehicle for his own extreme political views, which had greatly detracted from the former high standing of the journal.” (quoted in Simons 2014).

The article in The Telegraph also alleged that two of the authors of the Open letter – one of them Chinese – have sympathies with the views of “an American white supremacist” (Simons, 2014), following the mistaken forwarding of emails, for which both individuals subsequently apologised.

When one of the authors of the ‘Open Letter’, the Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who has worked clinically in Gaza during every Israeli assault on the Strip since 2006, was voted “Norwegian Name of the Year” in a national poll in December 2014, Pepys and eight other doctors wrote to the largest Norwegian newspaper, VG, to complain about his silence on the ‘loathsome hatred and racism’ of his co-authors. They asked for his national award to be reconsidered (Cohn et al. 2015).

17 October 2014

The Lancet Ombudsman published her report online on 17 October (Wedzicha, 2014). She said that she had received many emails and letters, some supporting and others opposing the position expressed in the ‘Open Letter’, and that some of them had been inappropriate in tone and of a personal nature. She stated that it was “entirely proper that medical journals and other media should seek to guide and reflect debate on matters relevant to health, including conflicts”.

She was not persuaded by calls for retraction of the ‘Open Letter’, “I do not believe that sufficient grounds for retraction have been established, and this would make other letters referring to the publication in question difficult to interpret”.

The Ombudsman went on to address allegations of bias among the authors of the ‘Open Letter’. “Given the shocking images and statistics reported from Gaza at the time, the use by Manduca and colleagues of emotive language, in description of the ‘massacre in Gaza’ for example, can be understood. Where the letter is less successful is in its portrayal of the armed element of the conflict on the Palestinian side. Given the authors’ close association with the region they will have been aware that several thousand potentially lethal rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza into Israel during the conflict, leading to loss of life.”

The authors were criticised for not having disclosed at the time of submission “any financial or other relationships that could be perceived to affect their work”, and she indicated that she would be asking the journal’s editors to put a policy in place as soon as possible to rectify this. The Ombudsman criticised the authors for not referencing in their original letter the source for their statement about the possible use of gas in Gaza.

The Ombudsman’s most serious criticism of the letter was the “regrettable statement” that, because only 5% of Israeli academics had supported an appeal to the Israeli government to stop the military operation in Gaza (Gur-Arieh 2014), the authors had been “tempted to conclude that…the rest of the Israeli academics [had been] complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza”.

“In summary”, the Ombudsman concluded, “the letter by Manduca and co-authors was published at a time of great tension, violence and loss of life. Given these circumstances the letter’s shortcomings can be understood, as a measure of balance has been achieved by the publication of further letters from both sides of the debate.”

3 November 2014

The Ombudsman’s decision to reject calls for the letter to be withdrawn from the public record was supported by Dr Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, former chair of COPE and author of COPE’s Code of Conduct for Editors (Smith 2014): The Lancet letter was “passionate, overstated in parts, inflammatory to some, and one sided; and the authors failed to declare competing interests and two of them had acted in an objectionable but not illegal way. But none of these are grounds for retraction.”

He ended his commentary on an historical note:

The Lancet was made the great journal it is by Thomas Wakley, the founder and first editor, publishing articles that were so inflammatory that his critics burnt his house down. That radical tradition has not always shone brightly in the nearly 200 years since, but Horton has restored it strongly, establishing the Lancet as a world leader in global health, speaking truth to power and giving a voice to those who are not heard (like the children of Gaza). It’s against that radical tradition and leadership that the Gaza open letter must be viewed. It should and has been disputed, but it shouldn’t be retracted.”

Contrasting views of journal editors

Editors have disagreed on whether political issues should be addressed in scientific journals.

For example, the American Diabetes Association issued a statement, signed by several editors of leading diabetes and endocrine journals, indicating that they “will refrain from publishing articles addressing political issues that are outside of either research funding or health care delivery” (American Diabetes Association 2014).

In response, a commentary signed by the current and two previous editors-in-chief of theEuropean Journal of Public Health, one of whom has longstanding and very extensive collaborations with Israeli colleagues (McKee et al. 2015), voiced strong support for The Lancet, arguing that medical journals cannot ignore the political determinants of health, including those arising from conflicts. They noted, “It seems strange that it was the diabetes community that feels it necessary to take this decision,” noting how the global epidemic of diabetes, fuelled by forcing markets open to energy-dense food, reflects a policy identified primarily with Republicans rather than Democrats in the United States.

Following the Ombudsman’s Report

Soon after Israel’s 2014 assault, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) assembled a medical fact-finding mission (FFM) of 8 international medical experts, unaffiliated with Israeli or Palestinian parties. Four had expertise in the fields of forensic medicine and pathology; four others were experts in emergency medicine, public health, paediatrics and paediatric intensive care, and health and human rights. The FFM made three visits to Gaza between 18 August and November, 2014.

The principal conclusion in the report of the FFM (Bachmann et al. 2014) is as follows: The attacks were characterised by heavy and unpredictable bombardments of civilian neighbourhoods in a manner that failed to discriminate between legitimate targets and protected populations and caused widespread destruction of homes and civilian property. Such indiscriminate attacks, by aircraft, drones, artillery, tanks and gunships, were unlikely to have been the result of decisions made by individual soldiers or commanders; they must have entailed approval from top-level decision-makers in the Israeli military and/or government.

The FFM (pp 98-99) listed many examples “suggestive of several serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law”, including disproportionality, attacks on medical teams and facilities, and denial of means of escape. They also reported (pp 53-55) evidence which suggested the use of anti-personnel weapons and gas during the conflict.

These accusations have also been made in reports by Amnesty International (Amnesty, 2014), Human Rights Watch (Human Rights Watch, 2014), B’Tselem (B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, 2015) and the United Nations (OCHA, 2014, 2015).

The FFM called on the UN, the EU, the US and other international actors to take steps to ensure that the governments of Israel and Egypt permit and facilitate the entry of investigative teams into Gaza, including experts in international human rights law and arms experts, and noted (in January 2015) that this had still not been done, months after the offensive. Specifically, the UN Commission of Inquiry has been denied entry to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza (See: United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict).

The FFM recommended further urgent and rigorous investigation into the impact of this war, as well as the previous armed conflicts, on public health, mental health and the broader social determinants of health in Gaza, adding that, in its assessment, the implacable effects of the on-going occupation itself would have to be taken into account.

There have been subsequent accusations by Amnesty International of war crimes committed by both sides of the conflict (BBC 2014; Linfield 2015).

Further calls for retraction of the Open Letter

Dissatisfied with the Ombudsman’s report, critics of the Open letter continued to call for it to be withdrawn and for The Lancet editor to apologise for publishing it. In a new development, the authors of the Open letter, and the journal, are being accused of being anti-Semitic. The current complaint to Reed Elsevier now refers to the Open Letter as “stereotypical extremist hate propaganda, under the selective and hypocritical disguise of medical concern”. On 24 February 2015, its lead author Professor Sir Mark Pepys wrote to 58 Israeli academics (Pepys, 2015):

The Lancet under the editorship of Richard Horton has published, for more than the past 10 years, many disgracefully dishonest and unacceptable articles about Israel. Horton has made no secret of the fact that these pieces express his own very strongly held personal views which he has published elsewhere in detail.

Last July, at the height of the Gaza war, The Lancet published a piece by Manduca and others which was at an unprecedentedly low level. It combines outright lies and slanted propaganda viciously attacking Israel with blood libels echoing those used for a thousand years to create anti-Semitic pogroms. It completely omitted the Hamas war crimes which initiated and sustained the conflict. There was no historical or political background. Crucially there was no mention of any conflict of interest among the authors despite the fact that Manduca and all the co-authors have long participated enthusiastically in not just anti-Israel but frankly Jew hating activities. All these individuals are close colleagues and collaborators of Horton.

Many of us have been trying as hard as we can since the Manduca publication to get it retracted, to get an apology for it and to convince Elsevier, the owners of The Lancet to both sanction Horton and to prevent any repetition of such shameful and unacceptable behaviour. So far there has been no satisfactory response. Indeed Horton continues to stand by the Manduca piece and refuses to accept that it is not factual and correct.

The goal of the attached protest to Elsevier document is to get the [‘Open letter’] retracted. I hope that all of you will sign it. Meanwhile colleagues at the Rambam Hospital have, as you know, invited Horton to Israel and shown him the reality of Israeli medicine, as opposed to the vicious anti-Semitic fantasy he has promoted. They have engaged in long discussions with him. Despite his refusal to either retract or apologise for his publications some colleagues are apparently convinced that Horton has reformed. Others, including Professor Peretz Lavie, the President of the Technion, who met with him for one and a half hours, were unconvinced by Horton’s presumed change of heart.

My view is that the Manduca piece was written by dedicated Jew haters, though some choose to mask this by being overtly passionate only about hating Israel. But they all agree that a Zionist/Jewish lobby or power group controls the world and its destiny and must be brought down. The Manduca piece would have made Goebbels proud and Streicher would have published it in Der Stürmer as happily as Horton published it in The Lancet…… anybody who was not a committed anti-Semite would firstly not have published (the Open letter), and secondly would have retracted instantly when the first author’s long track record of blatant anti-Semitism were exposed. In Horton’s case he already knew and liked her and her co-authors well, fully aware of all their vicious anti-Israel and frank, overtly anti-Semitic backgrounds.

Pepys’ text was distributed widely beyond the Israelis to whom the initial text had been sent, including, on 30 March, to over 150 academics with the subject line amended to:

DO NOT CITE The Lancet in your work – Their content includes fraudulent data’ (Lewis 2015).

As a result of this correspondence, 396 people have co-signed the complaint, including the statement “The collaboration of the academic community with Reed Elsevier and its journals is based on trust in their maintaining high ethical and scientific standards. None of us is under any obligation to submit and review material for publication in their journals or to serve on their editorial or advisory boards”.

The long history of pro-Israel suppression of medical freedom of expression

The heavy-handed escalation of the dispute and the use of ad personam charges of anti-Semitism to suppress freedom of expression in medical journals are not new.

In 1981, a short article in World Medicine informed medical readers who were considering attending the ‘medical olympics’ in Israel that the event was going to be held on the site of a massacre ordered by the then prime minister of Israel (Sabbagh 1981). The pro-Israel protest led eventually to the demise of the journal (O’Donnell 2009).

In 2001, pro-Israel objections to the historical background in an article on ‘The origins of Palestinians and their genetic relatedness with other Mediterranean populations’ published in Human Immunology (Arnaiz-Villena et al. 2001) led Elsevier to remove it from the public record.

In 2004, an article entitled ‘Poverty, stress and unmet needs: life with diabetes in the Gaza Strip’ (Tsapogas 2004) published in Diabetes Voice was expunged from the public record and the editor resigned, again because of charges of political bias.

In 2004, there was an outcry from pro-Israel doctors when the British Medical Journalpublished a personal view entitled ‘Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes’ (Summerfield 2004). The editor received nearly a thousand emails, many of them personally abusive and alleging anti-Semitism (Sabbagh 2009).

In 2009, commenting on several British Medical Journal papers exposing and discussing these issues, a senior British Medical Journal editor concluded that authors, editors, publishers, advertisers, and shareholders should ignore orchestrated email campaigns (Delamothe 2009). Citing another editor he suggested that the best way to blunt the effectiveness of this type of bullying is to expose it to public scrutiny.

Conclusion

The “Open letter to the People of Gaza” was written in deep concern and outrage during a military assault on the Gaza Strip, killing large numbers of civilians, including women and children, on a daily basis. The world was shocked and appalled. The content and tone of the letter were controversial, as shown by subsequent correspondence in The Lancet, for and against.

The Lancet Ombudsman criticised aspects of the letter but neither she nor a former Chair of COPE considered that it should be withdrawn.

The involvement of 396 senior researchers in a mass effort to force Reed Elsevier to withdraw the letter is the latest in a series of heavy-handed interventions to stifle media coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue and should be resisted.

Richard Horton should be supported as an exceptional editor of The Lancet, in the best traditions of the Journal.

The “unfinished business” of Operation Protective Edge is not whether the “Open Letter to the People of Gaza” should be retracted, but in the light of reports by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and others, to determine whether and by whom, from either side of the conflict, violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed.

Will the 396 signatories of the complaint to Reed Elsevier give their support to that objective?

Writing group

Professor Graham Watt MD FRCGP FRSE FMedSci

Graham Watt has long term academic links with the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University; has post-doctoral colleagues working at Birzeit University and the University of Hebron; chairs the steering committee of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance* and is a Trustee of the UK charity Medical Aid for Palestinians. He did not sign the Open Letter for the People of Gaza.

Sir Iain Chalmers DSc FFPH FRCP Edin FRCP FMedSci

Iain Chalmers was employed by UNRWA in Gaza in 1969 and 1970, and has returned there (self-funded) at intervals since, most recently to help support the development of Evidence-Based Medicine. He was a member of the steering committee for The Lancet series on Health and Health Services in the occupied Palestinian territory, and serves on the steering committee of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance*. He has supported the Gaza Oxford Brookes University Scholarship scheme financially, and makes regular financial contributions to Physicians for Human Rights–Israel, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Peace, together with other charities supporting human rights. He is a co-author of the Open Letter for the people of Gaza.

Professor Rita Giacaman, PharmD, MPhil

Rita Giacaman is a Palestinian faculty member at the Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University and a member of the steering committee of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance*.

Professor Mads Gilbert MD PhD

Mads Gilbert is a member of the Norwegian Palestine Committee and co-founder of Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC); has received funding from the Norwegian Government for medical work in Lebanon occupied Palestine; and has travelled to occupied Palestine, including Gaza, on various medical missions with paid or unpaid leave from the University Hospital of North-Norway for WHO, UNRWA, NORWAC, and the Norwegian Palestine Committee. He has worked as a clinician in Al-Shifa Hospital during recent Israeli incursions (2006, 2009, 2012 and 2014). He is a peer reviewer for conferences and publications of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance*. He delivered testimonies for the Report of the International Commission to enquire into reported violations of international law by Israel during its invasion of Lebanon, to the “Goldstone Commission” and to the current UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict. He is a co-author of the Open letter for the people of Gaza.

Professor John S Yudkin

John Yudkin is a peer reviewer for conferences and publications of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance* and a member of its steering committee.

*The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA) is a loose network of Palestinian, regional and international researchers who are committed to the highest scientific standards in describing, analysing and evaluating the health and health care of Palestinians, to contributing to the international scientific literature and to developing local evidence-based policy and practice. The principal activity of the LPHA is an annual scientific conference, selected abstracts from which have been published by The Lancet.

References

American Diabetes Association (2014). ADA/AACE/EASD/TES Statement in response to a recently published letter to the editor in The Lancet and an editorial addressing the Israeli-Palestinian fighting in Gaza. http://www.diabetes.org/newsroom/press-releases/2014/adaaaceeasdtes-statement.html

Amnesty International, 2014.https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/MDE15/032/2014/en/https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/report-israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/

Arnaiz-Villena A, Elaiwa N, Silvera C, Rostom A, Moscoso J, Gómez-Casado, Allende L, Varela P, Martínez-Laso J (2001). The origins of Palestinians and their genetic relatedness with other Mediterranean populations. Human Immunology 62:889-900.

Bachmann J, Baldwin-Ragaven L, Hougen HP, Leaning J, Kelly K, Özkalipci O, Reynolds L, Vacas L (2014). Gaza, 2014. Findings of an independent medical fact-finding mission. Physicians for Human Rights Israel.https://gazahealthattack.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/gazareport_eng.pdf

BBC (2014). Amnesty: Israeli strikes on Gaza buildings ‘war crimes’. 9 December.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-30393540

B’Tselem (2015). Black Flag: The legal and moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, summer 2014. Jan. 2015.http://www.btselem.org/publications/summaries/201501_black_flag

Cohn JR, Katz D, Zimmet P, Pepys M, Fink RH, Sprague SM, Greenland P, Stone D, Cohen S (2015). Norwegian newspaper VG, 27 January. http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/translation_of_norwegian_letter_on_mads_gilbert_from_international_doctors

Delamothe T (2009). What to do about orchestrated email campaigns. BMJ 338:491-92. 22

Gur-Arieh N (2014). More than 70 Israeli academics signed a petition condemning the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza. Jewish Journal, 29 July.http://www.jewishjournal.com/israelife/item/more_than_70_israeli_academics_signed_a_petition_condemning_the_israel_defe

Human Rights Watch, 2014 http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/11/israel-depth-look-gaza-school-attacks

Konikoff T, Konikoff FM, Shoenfeld Y (2014). Israel-Gaza conflict. Lancet 384:491.

Lewis BS (2015). ‘DO NOT CITE The Lancet in your work – Their content includes fraudulent data’. Email sent to 101 recipients, 30 March.

Linfield B (2015). Amnesty’s other verdict on Gaza war: Hamas committed war crimes as well. The Independent, 26 March. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/amnestys-other-verdict-on-gaza-war-hamas-committed-war-crimes-as-well-10134099.html

London L, Sanders D, Klugman B, Usdin S, Baldwin-Ragavan L, Fonn S, Goldstein S (2014). Israel–Gaza conflict. Lancet 384:e34.

Manduca P, Chalmers I, Summerfield D, Gilbert M, Ang S, Hay A, Rose S, Rose H, Stefanini A, Balduzzi A, Cigliano B, Pecoraro C, Di Maria E, Camandona F, Veronese G, Ramenghi L, Rui M, DelCarlo P, D’agostino S, Russo S, Luisi V, Papa S, Agnoletto V, Agnoletto M (2014a). An open letter for the people in Gaza. Lancet 384:397-8. http://www.thelancet.com/gaza-letter-2014

Manduca P, Chalmers I, Summerfield D, Gilbert M, Ang S, Hay A, Rose S, Rose H, Stefanini A, Balduzzi A, Cigliano B, Pecoraro C, Di Maria E, Camandona F, Veronese G, Ramenghi L, Rui M, DelCarlo P, D’agostino S, Russo S, Luisi V, Papa S, Agnoletto V, Agnoletto M (2014b). Israel-Gaza conflict. Authors Reply. Lancet 384:746.

Marmore BM, Spirt BA (2014). Israel-Gaza conflict. Lancet 384:491. 23

McKee M, Mackenbach JP, Allebeck P (2015). Should a medical journal ever publish a political paper? European Journal of Public Health 25:1-2.

OCHA oPt (2014). Occupied Palestinian Territory: Gaza emergency. Situation report (as of July, 22, 2014, 1500 hrs).http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_sitrep_23_07_2014.pdf

O’Donnell M (2009). Stand up for free speech. BMJ 338:512-13.

Pepys M (2015). Complaint to Reed Elsevier. Email sent to 58 Israeli recipients. 24 February. A copy of the full text of Pepys’ email (with recipients’ names and email addresses removed) is available to view here.

Sabbagh K (1981). Mere words: the blood on Begin’s hands. World Medicine 17:93.

Sabbagh K (2009). Perils of criticizing Israel. BMJ 338:509-11.

Simons JW (2014). Lancet ‘highjacked in anti-Israel campaign’. The Telegraph, 22 September.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11112930/Lancet-hijacked-in-anti-Israel-campaign.html

Smith R (2014). No case for retracting Lancet’s Gaza letter. BMJ Blog, 3 November.http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2014/11/03/richard-smith-no-case-for-retracting-lancets-gaza-letter/

Summerfield D (2004). Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes. BMJ 329:924.

Tsapogas P (2004). Poverty, stress and unmet needs: life with diabetes in the Gaza Strip. Diabetes Voice 49:12-15. Now removed from website. Article of complaint and apology from International Diabetes Federation http://www.idf.org/sites/default/files/attachments/article_290_en.pdf

United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflicthttp://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15456&LangID=E

UN OCHAopt, 2014. http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_sitrep_23_07_2014.pdf

UN OCHAopt, 2014. “Fragmented lives. Humanitarian overview 2014. March 2015. http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/annual_humanitarian_overview_2014_english_final.pdf

Wedzicha W (2014). Ombudsman’s report on the letter by Manduca and others. Lancet http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2961897-3/fulltext?rss=yes

Forty years ago on April 30, 1975, the Vietnamese people, led by their Communist Party, were finally victorious in the long just struggle for national independence and unification against the United States and its puppet regime in Saigon. 

America experienced an earthshaking lesson in Vietnam — “Stop your unjust wars of aggression!” —but Washington learned nothing from its humiliating defeat except to shift its battlefields of choice from Southeast Asia to Southwest Asia (i.e., the Middle East).

The U.S. went on to fight in Iraq three times and impose long sanctions in 25 continuous years; in Afghanistan the Pentagon has been fighting for 14 years and has achieved nothing; in Libya the U.S. bombed for less than a year but managed to spark a civil war and open the door to the Islamic State in the process. Many smaller incursions have taken place since losing the Vietnam war. For instance, the Obama Administration for years took actions to overthrow Syrian President Assad, and all the White House has to has to show for it is a jihadi war led by the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front (the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda).

Most Americans, except for families of the dead, veterans and war opponents, never think about the Vietnam War — one of history’s most unequal and vicious. Young Americans in general have received only a bowdlerized trace of information at school. At the same time, the lives of many Americans who protested this shameful war — civilians plus antiwar GIs and draft resisters — were largely radicalized and changed forever. Now in their sixties through eighties and older, they continue to this day to protest war and injustice. For some, myself included, details of this war remain indelibly etched in memory.

The day after the U.S. debacle the name of Saigon, the South Vietnamese capital where the American command was situated until being unceremoniously, was changed to Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the great leader of the Indochinese people who died in 1969. Hanoi, to the north, remained the capital of reunified Vietnam.

Droves of Americans, including a substantial number of former soldiers, now visit both cities and other parts of the Vietnam every year. Many tour the war museums, the old battlefields and tunnels used by peasants and fighters to escape from or to attack American forces. The Vietnamese treat such visitors courteously, without a sign of enmity, which is quite remarkable considering the horrors perpetrated upon a country that survived more explosive tonnage than the U.S. deployed during World War II in Europe and Asia-Pacific — 15,500,000 tons of air and ground munitions during the Vietnam War; 6,000,000 tons in WW II.

Vietnam at the time had a population of about 52 million situated on both sides of the 17th parallel, temporarily dividing North and South Vietnam. Over four million were killed in Washington’s aggressive war upon a very poor largely peasant society beginning in the mid-1950s when the U.S. took over from the defeated French colonialist armies. France had occupied and oppressed Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (Indochina) for over 100 years, then it became America’s turn. U.S. bombings killed at least a million more people in Laos and Cambodia.

For an American society fearfully fixated on a few domestic terrorist incidents such as the Boston Marathon killings or the so-called “underwear” bomber, the immensity of the deaths caused by their own government in Iraq, Vietnam and so many other countries, is evidently incomprehensible and thus unimportant.

U.S. combat deaths from 1955-1975 were 47,424, nearly all in the latter part of the war. Officially, Afghanistan is Washington’s longest war at 14 years, but unofficially Vietnam is six years longer. In time, Afghanistan may live up to its dubious designation since the U.S. government continues to delay full withdrawal of combat forces.

It may be of interest to learn that the total number of American combat deaths in 76 wars from 1775 to 2015 (including all the dead on both sides during the Civil War) amounts to 846,163. That’s less than the UN-verified total of a million Iraqis, half of whom were young children, who died from 1991 to 2003 due to killer sanctions. This was followed by another million dead Iraqis from the 2003-2011 war.

Compare the U.S. total of combat deaths in World War II (291,557) to the number of Russian combat and civilian deaths (27 million). There were no civilian deaths in the U.S, which has not suffered war damage from foreign invasions since the British War of 1812-15. Most of Russia was flattened east of the Ural Mountains in WWII. In Washington’s 1950-1953 war against North Korea, every city and most towns were destroyed by U.S. carpet bombings. Several millions were killed. The U.S. suffered 33,686 combat deaths.

Militarism, a principal element in U.S. society, thrives on unequal wars where the weapons, technology and communications of the “enemy” are far inferior and where it is impossible for an inch of U.S. territory to experience the footprint of a foreign soldier. Since the Civil War the American people, landscape and infrastructure has been untouched by war.

This is not as good as some think. America is the world’s principal mass killer since the end of WWII but its people are so accustomed to wars that cause them no pain and suffering that they easily support, or are indifferent to, unjust aggression in the name of protecting America. Ironically, there’s hardly any need to protect America, enclosed between two oceans in an impenetrable fortress. But government fear mongering about the nation’s vulnerability is a most useful lie intended to perpetuate Washington’s insistence upon functioning as global overlord and military superpower.

The overwhelming majority of Americans knew absolutely nothing about their own country’s involvement in Vietnam until around 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson began to vastly increase the U.S. troop component, which reached 549,500 mostly conscript personnel in 1968. By then, a vibrant antiwar movement was shaking the White House to the extent that Johnson announced he would not run for re-election. He retired in disgrace for what became a very unpopular war, despite authoring several important domestic achievements.

Richard Nixon, Johnson’s elected replacement, caused many more Vietnamese (and Cambodian) deaths in the name of seeking peace. But by 1973 the antiwar movement, the American people and rebellious U.S. soldiers in the field forced the White House to withdraw all American combat troops from Vietnam. Thousands of U.S. military advisers, CIA agents, and those Washington delegated to basically control the Saigon government and military, remained in the country for two more years. They were obliged to flee in extreme haste as liberation forces closed in and quickly declared victory.

The 1960s and early ’70s were great years of domestic uprisings in the United States against various ills and injustices, from the segregation of African Americans, to the subjugation of women, repressive cultural backwardness, the Vietnam War, the hatred and shunning of LGBT people and other causes.

As the war continued, the majority of the American people began demanding peace. The antiwar movement became extremely large and militant, ultimately contributing strongly to the withdrawal of U.S. troops. By the early 1970s the Hanoi government recognized there were three fronts in the war — the battlefield, the Paris peace talks, and the American people’s antiwar movement. I always bring this up when I’m told that peace demonstrations do no good. When antiwar movements become large, rambunctious, militant and long-lived they can stop a war or at least educate millions of people to oppose the next war.

A number of activists I knew or worked with during this exciting period of the uprising against a devastating imperialist war are still in opposition today. I’m 80 now and never served in the war (except for 1962-63 in prison for opposing the war machine) but the passionate hatred for colonialism and imperialism emanating from that ruthless conflict remains even stronger with me 40 years later, as I’m sure it does for many other opponents of that war who are still active.

As a quite young journalist for a major wire service in New York I was aware of many details of the Vietnam conflict beginning in the 1950s, mainly after the historic French defeat in the battle of Diên Biên Phu in 1954. My years as writer and then the editor of the (U.S.) Guardian radical newsweekly (1963 to 1984) made me feel very much a part of the antiwar struggle because few if any other U.S. independent publications labored as long and hard against the war and for the victory of the Vietnamese people.

Our long-time foreign correspondent Wilfred Burchett wrote weekly articles from the battlefields and liberated areas of Vietnam with coverage that far excelled that of the reporters for major American newspapers, stationed in Saigon or with fighting U.S. units, often pegging their stories on official lies and fictitious body counts and on press conference propaganda from the government. It still happens today, of course, but Vietnam opened millions of eyes to Washington’s imperial perfidy, and the Internet has become a major source of antiwar news and radical analysis if you know where to look.

To the leftist Guardian, along with many on the U.S. left from progressives to communists, the Vietnam War was imperialist in nature. The Guardian wanted the war to end with the defeat of the American aggressor. Other sections of the broad and diverse peace movement objected strenuously to the term “imperialist” and were fearful of publicly supporting the defeat of their own country despite its having launched one of history’s most hideous wars of aggression.

Having been involved in opposing every U.S. war since Korea I have seen the “imperialist” question crop up repeatedly as though it is too radical or leftist instead of what it really is — the truth.

The issue of the Guardian reporting on the April 30 defeat of U.S.-South Vietnamese forces proclaimed in huge type on the front page: “VICTORY IN VIETNAM!” The lead article began: “Vietnam is completely liberated. After 35 years of continuous heroic struggle against Japanese, French and American imperialism, the Vietnamese people from north to south are free and independent.”

I was in Vietnam a few months before victory and was told by a government official of Hanoi’s “deep appreciation for the Guardian’s steadfast opposition to French colonialism and American imperialism, and for its years of efforts on behalf of peace, national liberation and the unification of Vietnam.” This was essentially repeated to me in different words by another official on the 30th anniversary celebration in Ho Chi Minh City.

What remained of the mass U.S. antiwar movement went home when the war ended in 1975. Likewise, most of what was left of the extraordinary period of radical and revolutionary upsurges known as the Sixties ended around

that time as well. This was unfortunate because what largely replaced this people-driven epoch of advances in freedom and progressive militancy has been decades of conservatism and reactionary backlash against the people’s victories of the Sixties.

Today, far right pro-war Republican forces have taken over Congress and the Supreme Court, and they are swiftly gaining control of state governments and using their powers to wreck the union movement, take back the gains of the women’s movement and destroy programs that help the poor. Meanwhile, since there are only two “official” political parties, the only viable alternative within the ruling class-controlled electoral system is now the center-right pro-war Democratic Party, which has proven itself incapable of blocking the reactionary juggernaut, and all too often its conservative sector joins with the opposition, as many House and Senate Democrats are doing today in opposition to the U.S.-Iran talks. They’d rather follow screaming Warlord Bibi than their own president.

Once and all to briefly center left, today’s Democratic Party may be better than the right wing know-nothings, but it is definitely part of the problem, not the solution, and simply cannot be counted upon to function as a buffer against the Tea Party far right, the buffoons in Congress and the war-mongering neoconservatives of both parties who are making a comeback.

Economic and social gains — or any gains for working families — are hardly likely under present circumstances. There has to be a major change away from our imperialist capitalist system that presides over oligarch control of elections, rampant built-in inequality, wage stagnation, police violence, climate change, historic concentrations of wealth in the vaults of fewer than 1% of the people, continuing racism in America and endless imperialist wars. There are better systems, such as socialism, but after 100 years of anti-socialist and anti-communist propaganda the American people have a way to go before that becomes viable.

At this stage, it seems to me, America needs a new Sixties on steroids — a 21st century uprising of mass movements in the streets, meeting halls and cultural events making specific demands on the power structure using whatever tactics are appropriate, including mass civil disobedience, strikes and calculated disruption. And it is about time we realize the absolute need for collective, disciplined leadership. I know there is considerable anti-leadership sentiment in some oppositional movements, such as Occupy when it flourished too briefly, but this has to change before system change ever becomes a reality.

There are those who think significant social change in America is impossible or that the vehicle for change emanates from the ballot box alone. Is it impossible?

In the politically, socially and culturally repressive 1950s — when teachers were fired and writers, actors, unionists and others were blacklisted for harboring progressive ideas, when African Americans suffered under official and unofficial segregation, and when women were still kept “in their place,” who would believe that a “Sixties” was about to emerge?

Who would credit the idea that downtrodden blacks would stand up and risk their lives to confront racist Jim Crow in a couple of years? Who conceived of the possibility that women would stand up and demand their full rights? Who believed that millions of Americans would stand up for years to stop a criminal war? Was there anyone so naïve as to predict LGBT people would stand up, come out proudly, and demand respect? What parents or educators anticipated that many millions of students would stand up against repressive campus and outdated behavioral rules, and then bring the antiwar and radical struggle to the college green and even in some cases blockade their school president’s office. Judging by the 1950s crackdown on left to communist movements, it was not thought reasonable to proclaim that the left would soon stand up and experience a virtual renaissance, gaining members and playing an important role in the fight for peace and justice?”

If a Sixties can emerge from a backward Fifties, why can’t a Twenties emerge from a backward Tens? And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the Thirties and Forties. The key is to work hard now and persistently to bring it about, and to be patient if it takes a long time.

Obviously, social change does not drop from the sky, nor is it a gift from the bourgeoisie. It may not have been noticed by history but very many people and organizations were working hard for peace and social justice in the repressive 1950s. This helped bring about the social uprisings in the next decade. First, the oppressed blacks rebelled magnificently as the 1960s began, paving the way for other groups to rise up and express various pent-up demands for social change, compounded by an unjust criminal war that was draining the blood from America and its conscripted youth, not to mention the victim nation.

The U.S. government may not ever learn the lessons of the Vietnam War, compelled as it is by a socio-economic political system to create a better world first and foremost for the 1%, and empty rhetoric and wars for the rest of us. But I hope the lessons learned from the 1960-1975 era of uprisings for social change are not entirely forgotten but revived, improved and in time put into practice at a much higher and decisive level.

Thanks for listening, to speak. The anniversary of Vietnam’s victory brought all this out.

— The Guardian radical newsweekly attained a paid circulation of 26,000 readers and a pass along readership of at least 100,000 by the 1970s. The entire audience, aside from FBI readers seeking to know what’s happening on the left, opposed the Vietnam War. Several years after I left the paper it suddenly and inexplicably folded in 1992, but the Guardian was there when it was needed most — to tell the truth about the war, to identify it as imperialist, to unequivocally support Vietnam against the aggressor, and to report on and help build the peace movement.

— A 13-page article titled “The Guardian the Goes to War,” is collected in the 2011 book “Insiders Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, part 1,” (Michigan State Univ. Press)

— If you haven’t done so, read “Vo Nguyen Giap: Death of a Giant” in the 10-26-13 Newsletter: http://activistnewsletter.blogspot.com/2013/10/0-0-1-1-11-hudson-valley-activist.html

Jack A. Smith is editor of the Activist Newsletter and is former editor of the (U.S.) Guardian Newsweekly. He may be reached at [email protected]  or http://activistnewsletter.blogspot.com.

International Aid Agencies Call for Sanctions on Israel

April 19th, 2015 by Global Research News

Dozens of aid agencies have called for international sanctions on Israel over its continued illegal blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip and the fact that six months after its deadly and devastating assault, there has been virtually no reconstruction in the territory.

The report, “Charting a New Course: Overcoming the stalemate in Gaza,” signed by 46 international nongovernmental organizations working in Palestine, says that Israel must lift the blockade and allow free movement between the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip or face punitive consequences.

The report’s signatories, including Oxfam, Save the Children, KinderUSA, Medical Aid for Palestinians, The Carter Center, Norwegian People’s Aid and Médecins du Monde Switzerland, also call for a suspension of arms transfers to Israel and revocation of arms export licenses.

The report advocates that “Israel’s illegal policies need to be challenged with practical measures.”

Among the measures the aid agencies propose:

  • Making EU and other international relations with Israel conditional on it meetings its legal obligations, including using the EU-Israel Association Agreement as a form of pressure.
  • Ensuring that companies that violate international law in the occupied West Bank and Gaza do not financially benefit from the reconstruction of Gaza. States should “issue clear guidance to national companies, including state-owned companies and pension and investment funds, to ensure they not only respect international law in their own activities but do not invest in companies involved in violations of international law.”
  • “Where arms and ammunition could be used to commit or facilitate violations of [international humanitarian law], the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which all contributors at the Cairo donor conference have at least signed (if not ratified), obliges state parties to suspend transfers and consider revoking licenses to the parties concerned.”

Read the full report here

More at Electronic Intifada 

Copyright Electronic Intifada, 2015

Monsanto Knew of Glyphosate / Cancer Link 35 Years Ago

April 19th, 2015 by Global Research News

by GM-Free Cymru

According to evidence unearthed from the archives of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the United States, it has been established that Monsanto was fully aware of the potential of glyphosate to cause cancer in mammals as long ago as 1981.

Recently the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a statement in which glyphosate (the main component of Roundup herbicide) was classified as “probably carcinogenic” to humans and as “sufficiently demonstrated” for genotoxicity in animals (1). This announcement of a change to toxicity class 2A was given vast coverage in the global media, causing Monsanto to move immediately into damage limitation mode. The corporation demanded the retraction of the report, although it has not yet been published! Predictably, there was more fury from the industry-led Glyphosate Task Force (2). This Task Force also sponsored a “rebuttal” review article (3) from a team of writers with strong links with the biotechnology industry; but because of the clear bias demonstrated in this paper (which suggests that glyphosate has no carcinogenic potential in humans) it is best ignored until it has been carefully scrutinized by independent researchers (4).

With Monsanto continuing to protest that glyphosate and Roundup are effectively harmless (5) if used according to instructions, in spite of accumulating evidence to the contrary, we undertook a search through Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) records with a view to finding out what was known about glyphosate at the time of its initial registration. This followed up earlier investigations by Sustainable Pulse which highlighted a sudden change in the EPA view on toxicity in 1991. What was discovered was very revealing. There were many animal experiments (using rats, mice and dogs) designed to test the acute and chronic toxicity of glyphosate in the period 1978-1986, conducted by laboratories such as Bio/dynamics Inc for Monsanto and submitted for EPA consideration. Two of these reports relate to a three-generation reproduction study in rats (6) (7), and another is called “A Lifetime Feeding Study Of Glyphosate In Rats” (8); but like all the other older studies they were and still are treated as Trade Secrets and cannot be freely accessed for independent scrutiny. That in itself is suggestive that the studies contain data which Monsanto still does not wish to be examined by experts in the toxicology field. It is also deeply worrying that EPA acceded to the routine Monsanto requests for secrecy on the flimsiest of pretexts.

However, archived and accessible EPA Memos from the early 1980′s do give some indications as to what the rat studies contain (9). Although the studies predate the adoption of international test guidelines and GLP standards they suggest that there was significant damage to the kidneys of the rats in the 3-generational study — the incidence of tubular dilation in the kidney was higher in every treated group of rats when compared to controls. Tubular dilation and nephrosis was also accompanied by interstitial fibrosis in all test groups and in some of the lumens the researchers found amorphous material and cellular debris. Less than a third of the control rats showed signs of tubular dilation. In the rat study results, the changes in the bladder mucosa are significant because metabolites, concentrated by the kidneys, have led to hyperplasia that could be considered as a very early and necessary step in tumour initiation.

EPA was worried in 1981 that these indications were sinister, and at first declined to issue a NOEL (no observed adverse effect level) — it asked for further information and additional research. In its 1982 Addendum, Monsanto presented evidence that minimised the effects and confused the data — and on that basis EPA accepted that glyphosate was unlikely to be dangerous.

But Monsanto knew that scrutiny of the data in the studies would potentially threaten its commercial ambitions, and so it asked for the research documents concerned to be withheld and treated as Trade Secrets. So there was no effective independent scrutiny. Monsanto and EPA connived in keeping these documents away from unbiased expert assessment, in spite of the evidence of harm. (It is clear that EPA was thinking about carcinogenic effects — it knew in 1981 that glyphosate caused tumorigenic growth and kidney disease but dismissed the finding as “a mystery” in order to set the NOEL for the chemical and bring it to market.)

In the rat studies, the glyphosate doses fed to the test groups were 1/100 of those used in a later mouse study (9). It is unclear why these very small doses were decided upon by Monsanto and accepted by EPA, since there must be a suspicion that the studies were manipulated or designed to avoid signs of organ damage. In its 1986 Memo, EPA remarked on the very low doses, and said that no dose tested was anywhere near the “maximally tolerated dose.” Then the Oncogenicity Peer Review Committee said: “At doses close to an MTD, tumours might have been induced.” A repeat rat study was asked for. However, BioDynamics (which conducted the research for Monsanto) used data from three unrelated studies, which they conducted in house, as historical controls to create “experimental noise” and to diminish the importance of the results obtained by experiment.

In a 1983 mouse study conducted by Bio/dynamics Inc for Monsanto (10), there was a slight increase in the incidence of renal tubular adenomas (benign tumours) in males at the highest dose tested. Malignant tumours were found in the higher dose group. However, “it was the judgment of two reviewing pathologists that the renal tumors were not treatment-related”. Other effects included centrilobular hypertrophy and necrosis of hepatocytes, chronic interstitial nephritis, and proximal tubule epithelial cell basophilia and hypertrophy in females. The EPA committee determined there was a “weak oncogenic response” — so evidence was suggestive of early malignancy. The EPA Science Advisory Panel was asked for advice, and they said the data were equivocal and called for further studies in mice and rats. A further report was delivered in 1985. Part of the reason for this dithering was the prevalent but false EPA belief that all physiological effects had to be dose-related: namely, the higher the dose, the greater the effect.

Even though pre-cancerous conditions were imperfectly understood 35 years ago, and cortical adenomas in kidney were not thought dangerous at the time, the evidence from the Memos is that Monsanto, BioDynamics Inc and the EPA Committees involved were fully aware, probably before 1981, of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate when fed to mammals. In the Memos there are references to many more “secret” animal experiments and data reviews, which simply served to confuse the regulators with additional conflicting data. Thus EPA publicly accepted the safety assurances of the Monsanto Chief of Product Safety, Robert W. Street, and the status of the product was confirmed for use in the field (11). But behind the scenes, according to a later EPA memo (in 1991), its own experts knew before 1985 that glyphosate causes pancreatic, thyroid and kidney tumors.

On the EPA website (last updated 31.10.2014) reference is made to five Monsanto studies of 1980 – 1985, and it is noteworthy that these studies have not been made public in the light of current knowledge about malignant tumours and pre-cancerous conditions (12). Neither have they been revisited or reinterpreted by Monsanto and EPA, although one 1981 rat study and one 1983 mouse study are mentioned in the recent review by Greim et al (2015) (3). Following the conclusion that glyphosate was “not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity” nothing in the EPA advice about this chemical has changed since 1990. Given the recent assessment by the WHO Panel, and given the flood of scientific papers relating to health damage associated with glyphosate (13) the EPA attitude smacks of complacency and even incompetence.

Speaking for GM-Free Cymru, Dr Brian John says:

“The evidence shows that by 1981 both Monsanto and the EPA were aware of malignant tumours and pre-cancerous conditions in the test animals which were fed small doses of glyphosate in the secret feeding experiments. Although concerns were expressed at the time by EPA committees, these concerns were later suppressed under the weight of conflicting evidence brought forward by Monsanto, some of it involving the inappropriate use of historical control data of dubious quality. None of these studies is available for independent examination (14). That is a scandal in itself. There has been a protracted and cynical cover-up in this matter (15). Glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”, as now confirmed by the WHO Working Group, and no matter what protestations may now come from Monsanto and the EPA, they have been fully aware of its potential to cause cancer for at least 35 years. If they had acted in a precautionary fashion back then, instead of turning a blind eye to scientific malpractice (16), glyphosate would never have been licensed, and thousands of lives might have been saved.”

Retired Academic Pathologist Dr Stanley Ewen says:

“Glyphosate has been implicated in human carcinogenesis by IARC and it is remarkable that, as early as 1981, glyphosate was noted to be associated with pre neoplastic changes in experimental mice. This finding was never revealed by the regulatory process and one might therefore expect to see human malignancy increasing on the record in the ensuing years. John Little (personal communication) has demonstrated an unexpected and alarming 56% upsurge in malignancy in England in those under 65 in the past 10 years. Presumably British urinary excretion of glyphosate is similar to the documented urine levels in Germany, and therefore everyone is at risk. The effect of glyphosate on endocrine tissue such as breast and prostate, or even placenta, is disruptive at least and an increased incidence of endocrine neoplasia is likely to be seen in National Statistics. The Glyphosate Task Force denies the involvement of glyphosate in human malignancy despite their knowledge of many reports of lymphomas and pituitary adenomas in experimental animals dosed with glyphosate. On the other hand, Prof. Don Huber at a recent meeting in the Palace of Westminster, has warned of severe consequences if rampant glyphosate consumption is not reined in. I feel sure that the suppression of the experimental results of 1981 has enhanced the global risk of malignancy.”

Toxico-pathologist Professor Vyvyan Howard says:

“The drive towards transparency in the testing of pharmaceuticals is gathering pace with legislation in the EU, USA and Canada being developed. All trials for licensed drugs will likely have to become available in the public domain. In my opinion the case with agrochemicals should be no different. At least with pharmaceuticals exposure is voluntary and under informed consent. There are several biomonitoring studies which demonstrate that there is widespread exposure of human populations to glyphosate, presumably without informed consent. Given the clear level of mistrust over the licensing of this herbicide and the emerging epidemiological evidence of its negative effects there can, in my opinion, be no case whatsoever for keeping the toxicological studies, used to justify licencing, a secret. They should be put in the public domain.”

Research scientist Dr Anthony Samsel says:

“Monsanto’s Trade Secret studies of glyphosate show significant incidence of cell tumors of the testes and tumorigenic growth in multiple organs and tissues. They also show significant interstitial fibrosis of the kidney including effects in particular to the Pituitary gland, mammary glands, liver, and skin. Glyphosate has significant effects to the lungs indicative of chronic respiratory disease. Glyphosate has an inverse dose response relationship, and it appears that its effects are highly pH dependent. Both Monsanto and the EPA knew of the deleterious effects of this chemical in 1980 at the conclusion of their multiple long-term assessments, but the EPA hid the results of their findings as “trade secrets.” Monsanto has been lying and covering up the truth about glyphosate’s harmful effects on public health and the environment for decades. The increases in multiple chronic diseases, seen since its introduction into the food supply, continue to rise in step with its use. Monsanto’s Roundup glyphosate based herbicides have a ubiquitous presence as residues in the food supply directly associated with its crop use. Nations must stand together against Monsanto and other chemical companies who continue to destroy the biosphere. We are all part of that biosphere and we are all connected. What affects one affects us all.”

Notes:

(1)  Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate (2015)
Kathryn Z Guyton, Dana Loomis, Yann Grosse, Fatiha El Ghissassi, Lamia Benbrahim-Tallaa, Neela Guha, Chiara Scoccianti, Heidi Mattock, Kurt Straif,  on behalf of the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group, IARC, Lyon, France
Lancet Oncol 2015.  Published Online March 20, 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S1470-2045(15)70134-8
International Agency for Research on Cancer 16 Volume 112: Some organophosphate insecticides and herbicides: tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon and glyphosate. IARC Working Group. Lyon; 3–10 March 2015. IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risk Chem Hum (in press).

(2)  Monsanto seeks retraction for report linking herbicide to cancer
By Carey Gillam, Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/24/us-monsanto-herbicide-idUSKBN0MK2GF20150324
The response by the pesticide industry association, the Glyphosate Task Force, is here:
http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/28574811/statement-of-the-gtf-on-the-recent-iarc-decision-concerning-glyphosate

(3)  Helmut Greim, David Saltmiras, Volker Mostert, and Christian Strupp (2015)  REVIEW ARTICLE:  Evaluation of carcinogenic potential of the herbicide glyphosate, drawing on tumor incidence data from fourteen chronic/carcinogenicity rodent studies. Crit Rev Toxicol, 2015; Early Online: 1–24  DOI: 10.3109/10408444.2014.1003423

(4)  Not only is this paper written by authors who have strong industry links, but the 14 carcinogenicity studies assessed are carefully selected industry studies which have not been peer-reviewed and published in mainstream scientific journals.  All of the studies were conducted for clients (like Monsanto) who would have experienced gigantic commercial repercussions if anything “inconvenient” had been reported upon, with glyphosate already in use across the world.  Therefore the possibility of fraud and data manipulation cannot be ruled out.  The 14 studies are all secret, and cannot be examined by independent toxicology experts.  The fact that the review article in question reproduces (as online supplementary material) a series of tables and data sets is immaterial, since the data are useless in the absence of clear explanations of the laboratory protocols and practices of the research teams involved.

(5)  http://www.monsanto.com/glyphosate/pages/is-glyphosate-safe.aspx

(6)  “A Three-Generation Reproduction Study in Rats with Glyphosate” (Final Report; Bio/dynamics Project No. 77-2063; March 31, 1981)  — submitted by Monsanto to EPA

(7)  “Addendum to Pathology Report for a Three-Generation Reproduction Study in Rats with Glyphosate.  R.D. #374; Special Report MSL-1724; July 6, 1982″ EPA Registration No 524-308, Action Code 401. Accession No 247793.  CASWELL#661A” — submitted by Monsanto to EPA

(8)  “A Lifetime Feeding Study Of Glyphosate In Rats”  (Report by GR Lankas and GK Hogan from Bio/dynamics for Monsanto.  Project #77-2062, 1981:  MRID 00093879) — submitted by Monsanto to EPA
and Addendum Report  #77-2063

(9)  Archived EPA memos from 1982 and 1986:
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/chemicalsearch/chemical/foia/cleared-reviews/reviews/103601/103601-135.pdf
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/chemicalsearch/chemical/foia/cleared-reviews/reviews/103601/103601-210.pdf
The 1991 EPA Memo is accessible via:
http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/03/26/who-glyphosate-report-ends-thirty-year-cancer-cover-up/#.VSVPZ2Z3bJk

(10)  Knezevich, AL and Hogan, GK (1983) “A Chronic Feeding study of Glyphosate (Roundup Technical) in Mice”.  Project No 77-2061. Bio/dynamics Inc for Monsanto.  Accession No #251007-251014  — document not available but cited in EPA 1986 Memo.
Follow-up study:  McConnel, R. “A chronic feeding study of glyphosate (Roundup technical) in mice: pathology report on additional kidney sections”. Unpublished project no. 77-2061A, 1985, submitted to EPA by BioDynamics, Inc.

(11)  Glyphosate was first registered for use by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) in 1974, and after various reviews reregistration was completed in 1993.
Glyphosate (CASRN 1071-83-6)
Classification — D (not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity)
Basis — Inadequate evidence for oncogenicity in animals. Glyphosate was originally classified as C, possible human carcinogen, on the basis of increased incidence of renal tumors in mice. Following independent review of the slides the classification was changed to D on the basis of a lack of statistical significance and uncertainty as to a treatment-related effect.
http://www.epa.gov/iris/subst/0057.htm
http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/03/26/who-glyphosate-report-ends-thirty-year-cancer-cover-up/
npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphotech.pdf

(12)  Monsanto Company. 1981a. MRID No. 0081674, 00105995. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1981b. MRID No. 00093879. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1985. MRID No. 00153374. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1980a. MRID No. 00046362. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1980b. MRID No. 00046363. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.

(13)  http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Scandal_of_Glyphosate_Reassessment_in_Europe.php
http://permaculturenews.org/2012/11/01/why-glyphosate-should-be-banned-a-review-of-its-hazards-to-health-and-the-environment/
Key studies showing toxic effects of glyphosate and Roundup.  Ch 4 in GMO Myths and Truths
http://earthopensource.org/earth-open-source-reports/gmo-myths-and-truths-2nd-edition/
Antoniou, M. et al. Teratogenic Effects of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides: Divergence of Regulatory Decisions from Scientific Evidence J Environ Anal Toxicol 2012, S:4
http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2161-0525.S4-006
http://www.earthopensource.org/files/pdfs/Roundup-and-birth-defects/RoundupandBirthDefectsv5.pdf

(14)  That having been said, Monsanto has allowed access to selected later reports to selected researchers (Greim et al, 2015).  It is still uncertain whether these selected reports are available in full, for detailed independent scrutiny — even though there can now be no possible justification for “trade secret” designation, following the lapse of the US glyphosate patent in 2000.

(15)  http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/03/26/who-glyphosate-report-ends-thirty-year-cancer-cover-up/
In 1985 the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate was first considered by an EPA panel, called the Toxicology Branch Ad Hoc Committee. The Committee then classified glyphosate as a Class C Carcinogen on the basis of its carcinogenic potential.  This classification was changed by the EPA in 1991 to a Class E category on the basis of “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans”.  Mysteriously this change in glyphosate’s classification occurred during the same period that Monsanto was developing its first Roundup-Ready (glyphosate-resistant) GM Crops.  Not for the first time, commercial considerations were allowed to trump public health concerns.
The EPA scale of cancer-forming potential of substances:
Group A: Carcinogenic to humans
Group B: Likely to be carcinogenic to humans
Group C: Suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential
Group D: Inadequate information to assess carcinogenic potential
Group E: Not likely to be carcinogenic to humans

(16)  Wikipedia 2012:  Internal EPA Memos Document Fraud 1983 EPA Scientist on EPA’s public stance: “Our viewpoint is one of protecting the public health when we see suspicious data.” Unfortunately, EPA has not taken that conservative viewpoint in its assessment of glyphosate’s cancer causing potential.”
“There are no studies available to NCAP evaluating the carcinogenicity of Roundup or other glyphosate-containing products.  Without such tests, the carcinogenicity of glyphosate-containing products is unknown.”
“Tests done on glyphosate to meet registration requirements have been associated with fraudulent practices.”
“Countless deaths of rats & mice are not reported.”
“Data tables have been fabricated”
“There is a routine falsification of data”

Copyright GM-Free Cymru 2015

“I call now the most perilous time in world history for good reason. I was never scared during the Cold War. For the first time in my life I am now. -Stephen Lendman

WELCOME NEW AFFILIATE CFUV 101.9 FM in Victoria!

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Clear and Present Danger

Multiple crises are breaking out around the globe.

Former President George W Bush earned a reputation as a war-monger following his administration’s ruthless prosecution of the so-called “War on Terrorism.” Campaigns centred principally around Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands including thousands of US military service personnel.

Since Barrack Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency however, we have seen the outbreak of a civil war in Syria, the violent overthrow of long-time Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, drone attacks in Pakistan, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and the Ukraine crisis, all of which have been fostered by the United States, as is documented throughout this website.

Political and media messaging in the West has been riddled with double-standards. For example, the US government has condemned the Venezuelan government’s crackdowns on demonstrators in Venezuela while assisting the undemocratic government of Bahrain in its far more violent and widespread crackdowns against protests there. [1] [2]

Significantly, over the last year we have witnessed the demonization of Russia and its President Vladmir Putin crescendo to levels unheard of since the stand-offs of the Cold War era.

Most disturbingly, the Obama administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) gives clearance to the US government to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against Russia, Iran and other nuclear-armed powers that they deem in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. [3] [4] Further, as reported by the New York Times last September, the Obama Administration announced plans to spend more than $1 trillion over the next three decades significantly upgrading its nuclear weapons capability. [5]

This week on the Global Research News Hour, we discuss these and other alarming developments with a seasoned observer of political developments on the national and international stage.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He is a Harvard Graduate and received an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Following a devoted career as a market research analyst for his family owned business, he started writing on major national and international issues in 2005 and soon started hosting the first incarnation of the Global Research News Hour in 2007.

He now hosts The Progressive Radio News Hour, which airs three times a week on the Progressive Radio Network. He is the author of the SteveLendmanBlog, and has produced several books including a new compilation of articles dedicated to the Ukraine crisis which he edited. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient. 

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The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

The  show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

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Notes:

1) http://www.globalresearch.ca/bahrain-how-the-us-mainstream-media-turn-a-blind-eye-to-washington-s-despotic-arab-ally/30176

2)Preethi Nallu (Sept. 13, 2014), Al Jazeera, “Q&A: Bahrain rights defender Maryam Khawaja”; http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/09/bahrain-rights-activist-maryam-khawaja-201491292320423259.html

3)  Michel Chussodovsky (2012), p. 30, Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War

4) https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/09/23/nucl-s23.html

5) ibid

US Combat Troops Prepare Ukraine for Escalated Aggression

April 18th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Obama wants Donbass democracy crushed. He’s preparing his fascist allies (overt Nazis) for escalated naked aggression.

He’s arming them with heavy weapons. He deployed US combat troops to prepare them for battle.

He’s doing it while Kiev systematically breaches Minsk ceasefire terms. Low-level conflict continues daily – heading toward resumed full-scale war at Obama’s discretion.

About 300 US paratroopers arrived in Ukraine on top of hundreds of other US special forces and combat troops already there.

They’ll train and perhaps directly participate with Ukrainian forces in battle – covertly or openly. Maybe aided by US-led NATO air power. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented, saying:

“The participation of instructors and specialists from third countries in Ukraine, where an unregulated internal Ukrainian conflict remains, where there is a situation with the southeast, where there are problems in fulfilling the points from the action plan of the Minsk agreements, and finally, the existence of instructors, specialists or military personnel from third countries by far will not help in the settlement of the conflict or by far won’t help create an atmosphere for the successful fulfillment of the (Minsk) agreements, but just the opposite, is capable of seriously destabilizing the situation.”

At least 900 US combat troops (trained killers) will work directly with Ukrainian National Guard units infested with overt Nazis.

Last month, Britain sent scores of its own special forces to do the same thing. Canada intends sending at least 200 of its own. Australia may do so. Perhaps other countries.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry criticized Ukrainian foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin’s comments. He said Kiev won’t dialogue responsibly with Donbass officials.

It will only deal with representatives elected according to fascist Ukrainian law – granting no democratic rights whatever.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry called his remarks “further evidence of Ukraine’s unconstructive stance, which contradicts the provisions of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements…”

They stipulate that “questions related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk region.”

Klimkin said Kiev won’t “comply with the provisions on amnesty, which are clearly” established by agreed on Minsk terms.

“Ukraine is again attempting to condition the implementation of the Minsk Agreements on a peacekeeping operation, which is not even mentioned in the Agreements.”

“Kiev’s stubborn attempts to drag out the settlement by burdening it with ever new elements and conditions can only indicate its unwillingness to honour its commitments.”

They reject a “lasting solution to the Ukrainian crisis…(It’s) impossible without a direct dialogue between Kiev and Donetsk and Lugansk representatives and without a responsible attitude towards the commitments.”

Klimkin irresponsibly claims Kiev has “the right to control the activity of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, because (it) suspects its observers of probable delivering intelligence data about the deployment sites of the Ukrainian armed forces to Donetsk and Lugansk representatives.”

“By making these statements, the Ukrainian authorities are not only trying to undermine the SMM’s credibility, but are also creating a direct threat to the lives of observers in the conflict area.”

“Kiev’s defiant attitude towards the representatives of a key agency that is fully authorised to monitor the situation in southeast Ukraine, is side-tracking the settlement process.”

It’s clear. Kiev wants war, not peace. It’s just a matter of time before it resumes full-scale.

During his annual marathon Q & A session, Vladimir Putin commented on Ukraine and related issues.

He called Russian war with Ukraine “impossible.” He expressed concern about Kiev’s responsibility for numerous political assassinations.

“In Ukraine, which aspires to be a democratic country and seeks membership in a democratic Europe (no thorough investigations of these crimes) happen(ed),” he said.

“Where are the killers of all those people? There appear to be none.”

“No killers, no people who hired them. And in Europe and North America they prefer not to notice that.”

Despite vicious/irresponsible Western propaganda, Putin stressed Russia has no revanchist aims.

“We do not intend to rebuild an empire, despite what they are accusing us of,” he said.

“We have no imperial ambition. But providing a decent living to people, including Russians living abroad in countries close to us, that we can do by developing cooperation with them…”

“We don’t really care if a Russian is living in this or that territory behind the border, as long as he can visit his relatives freely, his living standards improve, he feels himself a person of full value, his rights are not violated, and no one forbids him to speak his language.”

He called pressuring Russia with sanctions and other measures “useless and senseless.”

“I think our partners will soon realize this and will at least try to seek compromise instead of trying to fit us into the stereotypes they consider right.”

He criticized Washington saying “(b)ig superpowers pretend to be exceptional and consider themselves the only center of power in the world do not need allies.”

“They need vassals. I’m talking about the United States. Russia cannot exist in such a system of relation,” he stressed.

America wants “to impose (its will) on virtually the entire world,” he explained. It’ll fail like all other imperial powers earlier, he said.

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

How a $15 Minimum an Hour Wage Helps All Workers

April 18th, 2015 by Shamus Cooke

Giant corporations and the wealthy are naturally united in their hatred of the $15 minimum wage. Surprising, however, is the strong opposition sometimes encountered by workers who make barely above $15 an hour.

The anti-$15 logic of these workers varies. Some simply repeat the misinformation they hear on the media, that a higher minimum wage would cause mass inflation and unemployment, regardless of the fact that, according to the U.S. Department of Labor there is no evidence to support these claims.

Some workers against $15 say such an increase isn’t fair, since they haven’t had a raise in years and have worked hard to get what little they have. Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly untrue that people “get ahead” when they work hard. The economy has fundamentally shifted in the last 30 years to the point where the average fast food worker is now 29 years old.

Opportunities to earn a living wage have shrunk exponentially.  According to a recent study 43 percent of the U.S. workforce earns under $15 an hour. There are simply not enough high wage jobs to leap into; the leaping is now going in the opposite direction.

Regardless of their reasoning, the anti-$15 workers are arguing against their own best interest, since a $15 minimum wage would benefit the overwhelming majority of people who make over $15 an hour. This is because a $15 minimum wage would transform the labor market in favor of all working people.

Economists have even given a term for this phenomenon, called “compression,” which describes the effects of how rising lower wages puts pressure on employers to raise wages for higher paid workers, marking a shift in the labor market.

Even if an employer doesn’t give into the pressure of the labor market and raise wages immediately, a $15 minimum wage would give workers making over $15 enormous leverage to demand such a raise, since they could easily prove by market comparisons that they’re being underpaid. Feeling empowered to make demands is the first step towards achieving them.

The labor market works a lot like other commodity markets, and is affected by supply and demand (for example unemployment) as well as regulation (like the minimum wage). Of course, the labor market is different in that humans can demand higher prices for themselves, where widgets can’t.

A higher minimum wage drives all wages higher in the same way a low minimum wage drives wages lower. For example, when one company lowers wages, other companies often follow suit. If a couple of large companies lower wages at once, the market begins to shift, since workers have less opportunities to find higher wages elsewhere.

The workers either fight to maintain their wages usually by forming a union or succumb to their new, lower wages, which quickly form a new equilibrium for the labor market in that industry, affecting other industries indirectly. No workers’ wages are safe if they are surrounded by low wage workers; islands of high wage workers are always targeted in such an environment. It’s only a matter of time.

In the same way that corporations are constantly striving to lower wages, it’s the job of unions to raise them. It was not the good grace of the corporations after World War II that created a U.S. working class able to purchase cars and homes, but a strong union movement that raised the price of wages to such an extent that the market was altered in favor of all working people, union and non-union alike, since employers had to raise their wages to compete for workers who would otherwise have gone to work for the unionized company.

But the post-World War II wages were smashed by the Reagan administration that sought to re-align the labor market in favor of the employers. Reagan knew that by attacking unions he would be able to lower the wages of all workers, and this attack on unions has continued ever since, creating massive income inequality in the process, regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans are governing.

The wealthy often argue that a $15 minimum wage would cause harm to workers by ruining small businesses and causing layoffs. Again, there has been much study and little evidence that raising the minimum wage causes unemployment. This isn’t to say that all businesses would flourish under a $15 minimum wage. It’s true that some small businesses would fail, but it’s also true that others would flourish with new customers, expanding and hiring in the process.

Some entrepreneurs will capitalize on a $15 minimum wage, in the same way that some businesses thrived, like Google and other companies, when regulations were placed on Microsoft to curb its monopoly power.

When the economy is stagnant due to monopoly control or because consumers are too broke to afford to consume new regulations, like breaking up monopolies or a $15 minimum wage, can reinvigorate the economy.

The U.S. economy is constituted by 70 percent consumer spending. Raising the national minimum wage would inject as much as $450 billion in the U.S. economy each year, money that entrepreneurs would have the opportunity to chase after.

A $15 minimum wage would also save taxpayers an estimated $153 billion a year, according to a study by the University of California, Berkeley. This is because companies that pay low wages force workers to get food stamps and other benefits to help offset their low wages

Corporations always scream economic Armageddon every time they are threatened with a new tax or regulation. But taxes on the wealthy were 90 percent under several presidents and were only substantially lowered once Reagan came into office. The corporations are screaming because their profits are affected, not because the economy as a whole is in danger.

The economic arguments in favor of a $15 minimum wage pale in comparison to the human arguments. No one deserves to live in poverty. The last 30 years have drastically skewed labor relations in favor of the employer, lowering workers wages, health care, pensions, and job protections in the process, creating massive poverty and economic uncertainty. This dynamic is now considered “normal,” where 30 years ago it was considered a radical anti-worker ideology.

A $15 minimum wage is the quickest, most direct route to empower working people, and directly intervene into the labor market on the side of the workers. We cannot allow people to say that $15 is too much, when the focus should be on how ridiculous the current minimum wage is.

Unions and community groups have the power to achieve a $15 minimum wage if they prioritize their resources and work collectively. Half of the states have voter initiative measures, a process that could begin immediately.

If unions want to prove themselves relevant to non-union workers, they have no better opportunity than the “Fight for $15.” By winning $15 for everyone, unions will be less vulnerable to the rhetoric of the “overpaid” union worker, since lower wage workers will see a boost in their pay due to the work of a union-led campaign. There’s no reason to settle for less than $15.

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

In 2011, Hilary Clinton announced the US was at war. She wasn’t referring to the US’s ongoing invasions, wars and occupations but an ideological war for hearts and minds. Clinton lamented the fact that, since the end of the cold war, US global ideological influence had weakened, especially with the advent of the Internet and TV channels like RT.

Of course, Hollywood still manages to propagate the ‘great American myth’ globally every day: the US as the beacon of freedom, as the flagship of democratic ideals, based on the great ‘American Lie’ of the great ‘American Dream’ whereby the individual can somehow miraculously overcome adversity and make it in life, just as long as s/he keeps his or her nose to the grind. US mass culture exported across the globe. The ‘anyone can make it’ syndrome sugar coated with a sprinkling of ‘freedom and democracy’ then rammed down the collective throat by Hollywood, which magics away into thin air the reality of capitalism and its deeply embedded structural power relations. As the commentator and comedian George Carlin once stated: “The American Dream, you have to be asleep to believe it.”

And let’s not forget Hollywood’s retelling of history with Uncle Sam the movie star, the liberator of the oppressed, the protector of universal good, the sweeper of its mass terror and atrocities away from the screen and conveniently under the carpet.

The internet, Press TV, RT and the ‘alternative media’ in all its forms have however eaten into Washington’s Hollywoodesque version of reality and propaganda. Despite the ownership of the corporate media becoming ever more concentrated in the hands of massive conglomerates and it promoting a common news agenda, the US has had to face up to the harsh truth that it cannot dominate the debate to the extent it once did when it comes to shaping the analysis and reporting of news through its compliant media outlets.

Around the time Clinton was voicing her concerns, Edward Snowden was revealing what many of us had already strongly suspected – people across the world and foreign governments were being monitored by the US government. Before Snowden became public enemy number one, Julian Assange carried that mantle. The US state-corporate machine did almost everything in its power to destroy Assange and WikiLeaks. Most debilitating of all was the shutting down of WikiLeaks’ access to finance, notably via PayPal, MasterCard, the Swiss bank PostFinance, Moneybookers, Bank of America and Visa Inc.

Bank of America was accused of being especially strident in attempting to discredit and destroy WikiLeaks with various dirty tricks, including backing a smear campaign that involved the use of false documents, disinformation, and sabotage. These actions along with demands that Snowden be ‘handed over’ by the countries the US has been caught red handed of spying on, came as little surprise. The US deems it fit to break international laws with impunity, yet bleats about legalities where Snowden or Assange is concerned.

But things are not always so straightforward. Not everyone can be banished to a foreign country or incarcerated in an embassy in London. As a result, former CIA boss General Petraeus is on record as saying US strategy is to conduct a war of perceptions continuously through the news media. We don’t have to imagine much that the prevailing view of world conveyed through the mainstream media and swallowed by many people is based on ‘a pack of lies’ carefully crafted by men like Petraeus and the State Department’s PR machine. British MP George Galloway’s powerful performance in front of a US Senate committee in 2005 highlighted it as such in the case of the invasion of Iraq.

These days, despite state-corporate control and manipulation of the mainstream media, many see through the charade of ‘liberal democracy’. The more the US lacks control over ‘the message’, the more it has to resort restrictions on freedoms. The more paranoid it becomes, the more penetrating and widespread the surveillance and ‘information gathering’ is.

So it was quite revealing to see this week the US House of Foreign Affairs Committee discussing Russia’s ‘weaponisation’ of information. Chairperson Ed Royce claimed that RT is part of a Russian disinformation campaign and asserted that if certain things are repeated over and over again, a conspiratorial theory begins to take on a life of its own.

The hypocrisy was palpable.

The US should know about such things. given its demonisation of Russia and the construction of a narrative of ‘Russian aggression’ in Ukraine that has been on continuous loop and churned out by the corporate media for quite some time now. This story of course has no basis in reality and is intended to mask a wider imperialist agenda to destabilise Russia.

Royce said that RT provides a platform for fringe and radical views worldwide and most broadcasters would not entertain people with such views. While it is correct to say that RT has a pro-Kremlin agenda, virtually all Western corporate media outlets adhere to a broadly defined economic and military ‘Washington consensus’. Where Western outlets see little wrong with wheeling out pro-big business commentators and representatives from powerful thinks for their opinions, little opportunity is provided for trade unionists, the non-mainstream left or any other voices that offer radical critiques of the status to offer their views.

RT has a range of commentators and analysts, including Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Pepe Escobar, Max Keiser, Paul Craig Roberts, William F Engdahl and Manuel Ochsenreiter, who tend to rarely appear on Western corporate mainstream media outlets. While some may not agree with their views or analyses, such people are academically well-qualified and recognised by many as being specialists in their fields. It is too convenient for them to be brushed aside with the ‘deranged conspiracy theorist’ accusation.

These commentators are highly critical of US-Western foreign policies but that does not mean they necessarily support Putin or Russia, as former RT presenter Liz Whal seemed to imply during the committee hearing. If certain commentators are regarded as “fringe” figures or “extremists” as Whal suggested, they are only regarded as such because their views challenge the pro-Washington narrative conveyed by the Western corporate media and thus tend to be side-lined. She argued these ‘alternative’ voices now have platforms to voice their “deranged views” and whip up anti-US sentiment.

Royce claimed Russia’s propaganda machine is currently in overdrive and that part of the focus is to undermine “democratic stability” and foment violence. He went on to state that these tactics have helped stoke the situation in Ukraine and are laying the groundwork for a Russian invasion and asserted that this propaganda has the potential to destabilise NATO members.

Another contributor to the proceedings argued that “our” global order is a “reality based order” and that the likes of RT and the internet makes “reality based politics” impossible.

Washington wishes it had the monopoly on truth but it doesn’t. And the reality is that the US regards views that criticise it as intolerable. But while the internet can at times be a vehicle for churning out some ludicrous views (and in this respect Whal is correct), what could be more sinister than what the mainstream media churns out on a daily basis with its acceptance of and justifications for austerity, gross inequalities, the massive concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, secretive corporate-constructed trade deals, wars of aggression, a bogus war on terror and the rest of the stories designed to beat working people and opponents of Washington’s hegemony into submission?

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to appreciate that the terms “reality based global order” and “democratic stability” are cynical euphemisms designed to conceal a completely different reality of imposed chaos and disorder around the world. Supporters of this reality are committed to misinforming the public, creating regional destabilisations and bending nations to Washington’s will.

https://twitter.com/colin_todhunter

US combat troops are working with Ukrainian forces. NATO planes arrive regularly carrying heavy weapons, munitions and other war supplies. Sputnik News explained the toll so far after one year of conflict.

UN figures claim 6,072 killed – another 15,345 wounded. Independent sources report much higher figures – multiples more than conservative estimates.

Perhaps 100,000 or more have been killed or wounded – many maimed for life.

The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) estimates 1.5 million internally or externally displaced refugees.

OSCE officials report seven journalists killed, another 170 injured. These are conservative figures. More accurate ones are likely higher.

Donbass is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists. Kiev forces openly target them. Other times, they’re arrested, detained and tortured. Some die in captivity.

In Donetsk, an estimated 9,464 facilities and other structures were destroyed – including:

  • 5,302 residential buildings;
  • 53 hospitals and other medical facilities;
  • 250 schools and pre-schools;
  • 13 colleges and universities;
  • 17 sports venues;
  • 32 cultural institutions;
  • 88 commercial enterprises;
  • 56 industrial facilities;
  • 605 power lines and distribution facilities;
  • 148 heat supply facilities;
  • 30 water supply facilities;
  • 2,669 gas supply facilities;
  • 53 road and transport infrastructure elements;
  • Donetsk airport – turned to rubble; and
  • the Saur-Monila memorial complex – entirely destroyed.

In Lugansk, an estimated 8,500 facilities and other structures were destroyed – including:

  • 7,899 residential buildings;
  • 65 hospitals, clinics and laboratories;
  • 3 gas distribution stations;
  • 33 heat supply facilities;
  • 43 water supply facilities;
  • 37 government buildings;
  • 97 schools and pre-schools;
  • 68 cultural institutions; and
  • 77 churches.

Billions of dollars are needed to restore what’s lost.  All the above devastation was non-military related. Even in legitimate wars, international law strictly forbids targeting civilians and non-military related sites. Doing so constitutes war crimes. Waging naked aggression is the supreme high crime against peace.

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

Ukraine: How the Mainstream Media Distorts the News

April 18th, 2015 by Eric Zuesse

People see their own nation, and foreign nations, through the filter of the press that’s available to them; so, if that filter is systematically distorting (distorting in ways that most of the others similarly do), then democracy cannot function, public opinion can be manipulated and warped; and wars might even start that shouldn’t — something Americans have tragically been experiencing lots of, during recent decades, such as when we invaded Iraq in 2003 (just to cite the most famous of many examples). 

A typical Reuters ‘news’ report will be examined here, in order to determine how high the journalistic standards of the Reuters ‘news’ organization actually are. Reuters is an internationally respected ‘news’ organization, as reliable as any major ‘news’ organization in the U.S. and Europe — thus, it’s a good source to provide a case-example.

The particular report, dated Thursday, April 16th, is titled “Russia blames U.S. for security crises and turmoil in Ukraine.”

Its first sentence is a simple and true statement of fact:

“Top Russian officials accused the United States on Thursday of seeking political and military dominance and sought to put blame on the West for international security crises, including the conflict in east Ukraine.”

The second sentence is anything but factual: it is instead contemptuous of the Russian speakers and of what they said, yet offering no evidence that what they said was false, nor is it offering evidence in support of the report’s own contemptuous attitude toward them:

“Evoking Cold War-style rhetoric, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said a drive by the United States and its allies to bring Kiev closer to the West was a threat to Moscow and had forced it to react.”

This sentence implicitly accuses Russia of “Evoking Cold War-style rhetoric,” with supposedly no reason for Russia to do so. The secondary implication here is that Russia and not the U.S. instigated the current restoration of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. It also implicitly asserts that there was and is no real “drive by the United States and its allies to bring Kiev closer to the West,” and no real “threat to Moscow” that really “had forced it to react” against America’s takeover of Ukraine as a client-state hostile towards Russia next door.

This second sentence is, unfortunately, a string of lies, as will now be documented:

Here is proof that Victoria Nuland of the U.S. State Department told the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt on 4 February 2014 whom to get to be appointed to rule Ukraine once the then-sitting democratically elected Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, will be overthrown, which occurred 18 days later, on 22 February 2014. In other words: 18 days before the overthrow, she actually chose Yanukovych’s replacement.

Furthermore, the founder of the “private CIA” firm Stratfor has called this overthrow of Yanukovych “the most blatant coup in history.” All knowledgeable and honest people acknowledge that this overthrow was a U.S. coup that installed the current pro-U.S. and rabidly anti-Russian client-state-government in Ukraine. No one denies that Ukraine borders Russia, and that to Russia it would be an extremely dangerous place for the U.S./NATO to place nuclear missiles aimed at Moscow ten minutes away. No one denies that when the Soviet Union’s dictator Nikita Khrushchev tried to do something similar to this in the opposite direction (i.e., against the United States), in 1962, by placing missiles in Cuba, that was then validly taken by U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy to be an existential threat to the United States, and cause for nuclear war unless reversed by the Soviet leader. Consequently, this sentence by Reuters is, essentially, a vicious lie, a historical distortion, against Russia, covering up for a U.S. government that really is taking aggressive actions against Russia (the overthrow of their next-door-neighbor and subsequent arming of it and economic sanctions against Russia), to which Russia is defensively responding — as it must do.

Furthermore, no one denies that Obama’s agent on Ukraine, Victoria Nuland, has even acknowledged (7:43 on this video) that “we have invested over five billion dollars” to prepare this coup to yank Ukraine into the U.S. orbit. Furthermore, when, right after Yanukovych’s overthrow, the EU sent its own investigator to Kiev to find out whether Yanukovych’s government had initiated the violence that had caused his downfall, they found, to their shock, that it was instead “someone from the new coalition [that had already replaced Yanukovych]” who actually did it; i.e., Washington — definitely not the EU itself, but also not the Yanukovych government (whom we blamed for it).

Furthermore, the day before the wikipedia account says that the Maidan demonstrations against Yanukovych even started, a member of Ukraine’s parliament actually had already described in detail the operation that already was functioning inside the U.S. Embassy to organize the coming Maidan demonstrations; organization of those demonstrations had actually begun in the Spring of 2013, well before the alleged start, and even before the alleged precipitating event.

The rest of the Reuters article quotes what it alleges to be provocative allegations from the Russians, such as a Russian’s statement that, ”It’s clear that measures taken by NATO to strengthen the bloc and increase its military capabilities are far from being defensive.” No actual evidence is presented that’s contrary to any of those Russian allegations against NATO.

Then, it closes with a vague statement from NATO, alleging “Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine” — ‘aggression’ that’s unsupported in this ‘news’ report.

So, the article closes with an entirely unsupported allegation of “Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine,” which comes at the end of a string of innuendos and unsupported propaganda to cause uncritical readers to believe that Russia is instead the side that’s spreading unsupported propaganda — against the U.S.

But, obviously, if Russia were to be spreading propaganda here, then it is actually extraordinarily well-supported on a factual basis, including even videos of the events themselves — irrefutable and unrefuted high-quality documentation. And this means that it is truthful ‘propaganda,’ if it can authentically be called propaganda at all (which is a question of how one would define that term).

It is up to the reader here to determine “How Reliable Is Reuters?” and “how high the journalistic standards are of the Reuters ‘news’ organization.” My purpose has been simply to supply the evidence on the basis of which those questions can be rationally answered: they can be rationally answered only upon the basis of the evidence, which has been presented here — and which the Reuters ‘news’ report ignores altogether.

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

Congressional passage of so-called “trade promotion authority” (TPA) will let Obama expedite the legislative process for pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) bills.

The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA 2015) lets Obama and his trade representative, complicit with corporate predators, rush through Congress, with minimal hearings and no amendments, legislation global justice advocates call NAFTA on steroids.

TPP and TTIP are trade bills from hell.  They’re secretive, multi-national trade deals giving monied interests more power than ever at the expense of personal freedom for consumers and environmental sanity.

They’ll permit unrestricted trade in goods, services, rules of origin, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers, government procurement and competition policies, and intellectual property (IP).

IP includes copyrights, trademarks, patents, and related considerations.

One-sided pro-business structuring harms popular rights. At stake is a free and open Internet, its global infrastructure, and worldwide innovation under level playing field rules.

Power brokers want secretive provisions established with no public knowledge of their destructive harm.

TPP and TTIP rewrite global IP enforcement rules. They include numerous other anti-populist provisions. They override national sovereignty. They prioritize investor rights over public ones.

Obama lied saying:

“The bill put forward today would help us write (trade) rules in a way that avoids the mistakes from our past, seizes opportunities for our future, and stays true to our values.”

“It would level the playing field, give our workers a fair shot, and for the first time, include strong fully enforceable protections for workers’ rights, the environment, and a free and open internet.”

Fact: Trade rules Obama advocates are polar opposite what he claims. They’ll benefit monied interests at the expense of all others.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls fast track legislation a way to “legitimize White House secrecy and clear the way for (anti-consumer) trade deals.”

They impose restrictive digital regulations. They create a new Chief Transparency Officer – a likely corporate official with authority to:

“consult with Congress on transparency policy, coordinate transparency in trade negotiations, engage and assist the public, and advise the United States Trade Representative on transparency policy.”

Given existing strict confidentiality rules (and greater than ever corporate empowerment on trade), nothing meaningful will be done to improve transparency.

As things now stand, fast track text language will be made public 60 days before signed if passed.

According to EFF, it doesn’t matter. “(T)he text is already locked down from any further amendments.”

Fast track “t(ies) the hands of Congress so that it is unable to give meaningful input into the agreement during its drafting, or to thoroughly review the agreement once it is completed.”

It can only vote up or down with no changes. Most troubling is what’s excluded from negotiating objectives.

Nothing requires “balance in copyright, such as the fair use right,” says EFF.

“(I)f a country’s adoption of a fair use style right causes loss to a foreign investor, it could even be challenged as a breach of the agreement…”

“(W)e do not see anything in this bill that would truly remedy the secretive, undemocratic process of trade agreements,” EFF stresses.

Fast track will likely be voted on next week. Passage “would legitimize the White House’s corporate-captured, backroom (secretive, anti-consumer) trade negotiations.”

Lori Wallach heads Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch (GTW). Fast track authority “delegate(s) away Congress’ constitutional authority and (grants) blank-check (presidential) power,” she explains.

Fast track “would make it easier for corporations to offshore American jobs, would undermine our wages by forcing Americans to compete with Vietnamese workers making less than 60 cents an hour and would expose our consumer and environmental safeguards to attack by foreign corporations in extra-judicial tribunals” – run by corporate predators.

Congress is being asked to yield its constitutional trade authority to diktat presidential power.

Congress permitted fast track for only 5 of the past 21 years – 2002-2007.

It remains to be seen if it’ll authorize what demands rejection – what hugely benefits America’s 1% at the expense of all others.

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.

It’s Not Hockey We’re Playing Against Russia

April 18th, 2015 by Jim Miles

Watching the news off an on throughout the day provides a glimpse of the spin that the mainstream media (MSM – mainly CBC) put on the situation in Ukraine. 

The first broadcast I heard contained some interesting comments.  It indicated that “fighting erupted” along the theoretical truce line.  If any reader had been paying attention to news other than on the MSM, they would know that the Kiev forces never stopped shelling the Novorussia side of the line.  The ‘eruption’ of fighting, also as seen on other than MSM news indicated that it was most probably testing forays or training forays by the Ukrainian/Kiev side.

The “heavy shelling” reported would have had to come from the Kiev forces, as according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) the Novorussian side had pulled back their heavy artillery while the Kiev forces had not.

A more serious error, but one that suits the Russia as bad guy image was the reporting of the truce as being between Ukraine and Russia.  This is absolutely not the case as the truce was signed between Kiev and the Donetsk and Luhansk leaders.  The Russians were ‘facilitators’ to the efforts by the Germans, as the latter were becoming aware of the serious setbacks to the Kiev forces from the Novorussian forces.

It is true that the rebels are backed by Russia, but in context, the Kiev forces are backed by both U.S. political will and funding, and U.S. equipment.

Susan Ormiston has been called upon as CBC’s ‘senior correspondent’ for the region without having actually travelled to the Novorussian region.  She does get some things right, seeing the “broken and fragile” truce as a way to “help Ukraine build up” its military forces after their winter defeat.  As for the ‘fragile and broken’ nature of the truce, that was its nature from the start as shelling continuously came from the Kiev forces as the Novorussian forces withdrew their heavy artillery as per the truce.

Ormiston, as with others awash in MSM references refers to “Russia backed rebel aggression.”  It is certain that their are Russian supplies and perhaps advisors in Novorussia, not much different from U.S./NATO supplies and ‘advisors’ (more than likely black ops personnel) on the Kiev side.  There has been no proof of any regular Russian military in Novorussia. (And what about the distinct silence concerning MH17?  A sure sign that it was a false flag operation).

What is wrong is the identification of Russia being the aggressor, when it was the U.S. that instigated the coup that overthrew a democratically – if corrupt – elected government.  When Luhansk and Donetsk declared their independence from the neo-Nazi Banderites and Right Sector controlled Kiev, the Kiev rulers attacked the two sectors with the stated intent to eliminate the Russian speaking population – a process normally called ethnic cleansing in which the rhetoric was also calling for genocide of the Russian population.

Evan Solomon came on later stating, “Russians have a lot of forces around Ukraine,” a brilliant statement considering that Russia borders on Ukraine, and now that Crimea has voted to join with Russia, yes, those forces are around Ukraine.  Not nearly as widespread though as U.S. forces are spread around the world in over 130 countries with over 750 bases, (or higher depending on source).

Later in the day Susan Ormiston returned, attempting to represent the Russian side, repeating the Moscow phrasing of U.S./NATO forces “meddling” in Ukraine – a considerable toned down response to the actual U.S. aggressor role.  She repeated an interesting statement about the equipment and training being used so that Kiev is able “to kill its own citizens”, essentially the truth…

…except that after the continued shelling of civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Kiev forces, there is no way the Novorussians will want to rejoin with the remnants of the Ukraine and be citizens of that state.

Alter-net sources

One of the great things about the internet is the wealth of resources available to anyone seriously considering what is happening in the Ukraine.  While the MSM follow the standard U.S. rhetoric, many other sources see the wilful ignorance of it all.  There are many sites providing different perspectives, one of the best being fortruss.com, and one of the most honest, from a Crimean citizen who honestly notates Novorussian defeats as well as their successes is cassad-eng.livejournal.com/.  Another good site is thesaker.is.

But take it from Gary Leupps, a U.S. professor at Tufts University (Massachusetts) if you think the others are nothing but propaganda:

“Russias official line on Ukraine—and it should not be dismissed just because that’s what it is—is that the U.S. has spent about $ 5 billion backing “regime change” in that sad, bankrupt country, ultimately resulting in a coup d’etat (or putsch) in Kiev in February 2014 in which neo-fascists played a key role.

The coup occurred because the U.S. State Department and Pentagon hoped to replace the democratically elected administration with one that would push for Ukraine’s entry into NATO, a military alliance designed from its inception in 1949 to challenge Russia. The ultimate intent was to evict the Russian Black Sea Fleet from the bases it’s maintained on the Crimean Peninsula for over 230 years.

Personally, I believe this interpretation is basically true, and that any rational person should recognize that it’s true.”

As for the NATO alliance, U.S. action

“validates the key Russian charge that this is all about NATO—the NATO that, following George H. W. Bush’s promise to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 that the alliance would not advance “one inch” towards Russia’s borders has in fact advanced to surround European Russia since 1999. NATO now includes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Albania.”

In his conclusion Leupp writes

“But with crazies running the U.S. State Department, successfully promoting a bogus narrative about what’s happened in Ukraine over the last two years—a narrative echoed slavishly by a clueless mainstream media—it’s just barely conceivable that there might come a day in which U.S. forces join the Azov Battalion in battling forces of the People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk.

It won’t have anything to do with “freedom,” any more than the last few U.S. wars have had anything to do with that abstraction. It will be about imperial expansion, which while it might serve the .01% that rules this country, is not in your interest at all.(1) ”

Isolated?  Not at all.

In general the MSM does a poor job of reporting on Russia.  There is no reporting that I have heard about the economies of the EU suffering far more than the economy of Russia.  For that matter, the retrenchment of the Russian economy has proven to be a bonus as the Russians have been able to internalize and ramp up their own production in agricultural,  technology, and finances.

In addition,as for the “rest of the world”, “internationally” (as per the MSM), Russia is backed by China, India, and most of the other Asian countries, as well as most of the Latin American countries.  Isolated?  India vastly reduced an order of French Rafale jets and turned towards – who else – Russia to manufacture the majority of its next generation fighter jets.  This will also include manufacturing sectors in India to the benefit of both countries military technologies.

Speaking of India…

The current visit by India’s leader Narendra Modi highlights interesting features of current geopolitical structures.  Modi is a right wing Islamophobe (2), similar to Harper, and is quite content to use Canada’s resources to further its own nuclear ambitions – and India, unlike Iran, has many nuclear weapons, the delivery systems for them, and is not signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

But to tie it together with Russia and the global view, I wonder if Harper introduced himself to Modi by saying, “Get out of Kashmir.”

Notes

(1)http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/04/14/ukraine-the-truth/

(2)  Narendra Modi is the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was re-elected to his post after the 2002 pogrom against Muslims conducted mainly by his political allies and with the complicity of the state apparatus. Two thousand people died and several hundred thousand had their homes and livelihoods devastated. According to Human Rights Watch, “Mobs arrived by the thousands in trucks, chanting slogans of incitement to kill, and armed with swords, tridents, sophisticated explosives, and gas cylinders. They were guided by computer printouts listing the addresses of Muslim families and their properties. While army troops had been flown in to quell the violence, state officials refused to deploy them until after the worst violence had ended. In the weeks that followed the massacres, Hindu homes and places of business were also destroyed in retaliatory violence by Muslims.”  http:/./www.counterpunch.org/2005/03/09/a-state-terrorist-visits-american-hoteliers/

In an interview for Russia’s RIA Novosti, Greek defense analyst Ilias Iliopoulos noted that in the interests of closer military-technical cooperation with Russia, Greece could allow the country to use its military bases, and that this possibility may well be discussed during the Greek Defense Minister’s visit to Moscow later this week.

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos is set to arrive in Moscow for a two day visit starting Wednesday. The visit will include a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Russian experts believe that Kammenos’s meeting with his Russian counterpart might include the provision of spare parts for Russian weapons systems, including the S-300 air defense system, Kornet anti-tank missiles, and Zubr-class hovercraft. Last December, the Greek Defense Ministry signed contracts with Russia on the purchase of spare parts for the Top-M1 and Osa-AKM mobile air defense systems.

Iliopoulos, a lecturer at Hellenic National Defence College, welcomes Kammenos’s visit, noting that in a time of growing tensions between Russia and the West, “contacts, visits, and communication between members of the European Union and NATO with Russia can help to reduce tensions.”

The analyst recalls that the event, which “has great political and symbolic significance,” comes on the heels of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ “historic” visit to Moscow last week.

“The Tsipras visit held a great political importance. As for defense matters and Kammenos’s visit, I believe that Greece must do everything it can to move closer to Russia on issues of defense, defense policy, technology, cooperation and defense diplomacy. Greece, as you know, is the only NATO country to which several advanced Russian defense systems were exported several years ago. The country’s air defense is very largely based on Russian systems.”

Iliopoulos believes that Kammenos may attempt to reach an agreement with Russia on the technical maintenance and modernization of the Russian weapons systems Greece possesses. The analyst notes that

“this must be done urgently. These systems presently have serious issues, and not because of [any error from] the Russian side, but because the previous government simply used them and, under Western pressure, underestimated the importance of maintenance and modernization.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and the Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras (left)

The defense expert also believes that while Greece’s options are presently limited by the economic crisis, the country should do everything it can to avoid “closing this window [on defense cooperation with Russia] for good. On the contrary, the Greek side must bear in mind that Russian defense systems are Greece’s best and most reliable option. And not only technically, but politically as well.”

Regarding Russia’s possible use of Greek military bases, Iliopoulos is optimistic.  “And why not? 25 years have passed since the fall of communism. We must discuss seriously, rationally, and realistically the issue of Greece providing Russia with an opportunity to use Greek ground, sea and air bases, on the Aegean Sea and in the Dodecanese Islands, as well as the Ionian Sea and Corfu, the seven islands liberated by Admiral Fyodor Ushakov [during the Second World War].”

The expert notes that such an agreement would not break any of Greece’s agreements with NATO, or any other international treaties. “No international statute prohibits the cooperation of two countries.”  In fact, Iliopoulos notes, Russian-Greek defense cooperation would assist in the maintenance of global stability, including the fight against terrorism and Islamic extremism in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. “I do not think that anyone in the West would have a problem with this,” the expert notes.

Ilias Iliopoulos is a lecturer at Hellenic National Defence College, the country’s highest defense educational institution, and a former analyst at the Greek Ministry of Defense. He is also the former Chair of the Political and Strategic Studies Department at the Baltic Defense College in Tartu, Estonia.

When the Washington Post chooses to pen an insulting, condescending editorial targeting entire nations speaking up against Western impropriety, one can just as well assume the precise opposite of whatever narrative the Post is trying to push forward is true.

Regarding American biotech companies and their attempts to infest the planet with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and in particular their attempts to corrupt the whole of Europe with their unwanted poison through a backdoor (Ukraine), has prompted Russia to speak up for their Eastern European neighbor. Up until the armed coup in 2013-2014, also known as the “Euromaidan,” Ukraine had adamantly rejected GMOs.

With an obedient client regime now installed in Kiev, a series of political, economic and military decisions have been made that have more or less extinguished Ukraine as a sovereign nation state. Along with its extinguished sovereignty comes a complete lack of desire for self-preservation, and so, sowing one’s fields with genetically tainted, unsafe, literal poison goes from being adamantly avoided, to being openly embraced.

This brings us back to the Washington Post and a recent editorial it has published. Titled, “Russia says Western investment in Ukraine’s farms is a plot to take over the world,” it first attempts to make Russia’s accusations that Monsanto is now moving in on Ukraine with plans to institute GMOs nationwide sound unfounded. That is until the Post itself admits that is precisely what Monsanto is doing. The pieces claims:

Ukraine has long tried to sell itself to Europe as the once-and-future breadbasket of the continent, promising that Western investment is the key to making its under-exploited black earth bloom. 

But official Russia would like you to know that all this agricultural development talk is really just a secret plot to help companies like Monsanto take over the world.

Then the Post openly admits:

Genetically-modified cultivation was long banned in Ukraine – as was the sale of farmland.

Then admits:

But the association agreement signed between the European Union and Ukraine last year may have created new space for the potential introduction of genetically-modified crops in Ukraine. 

Finally, the Post mentions Monsanto:

Monsanto – perhaps the most recognizable corporate name in genetically modified products – did express interest in investing in Ukraine last year. (It’s worth noting that the company operates in Russia as well, though not with GMOs, just as it has operated in Ukraine.)

Since Monsanto already operates in Ukraine, what else would it be investing in additionally that it hasn’t had the opportunity to before besides GMOs? Ukraine would serve as the perfect victim to host Monsanto and other biotech corporations’ GMO-infected products in the heart of Europe.

With the EU itself relaxing some of its regulations regarding GMOs, likely without the consent of a population increasingly conscious of the risks and actively seeking organic alternatives, biotech conglomerates hope to make GMO products spread from what will be the completely unregulated fields of Ukraine, into Europe and to become as ubiquitous and unavoidable as they are in America.

Elsewhere around the world, big-agriculture has attempted to use other backdoors to bring their products into regions they are wholly rejected, including Asia where “Golden Rice” has been proposed as the answer to fighting “vitamin A deficiency,” even  when simply planting some carrots would accomplish this goal more easily, cheaper and without the threat of tainting Asia’s rice crops with a strain consumers would reject out of hand.

In other instances, conquering Western interests, like in Afghanistan, have used “aid” as a backdoor to bring big-agriculture and GMOs into the region.

So by the Post’s own admission and by simply looking at what Monsanto and its counterparts have done all over the world already, they themselves couldn’t agree more with the Russian Federation regarding Monsanto’s obvious intentions in Ukraine and for the rest of Europe.

The Post, like many papers across America and Europe, has long-served the interests of the monied elite, with biotech and big-agriculture counted prominently among them. The Post and others will spin and obfuscate Monsanto’s intentions until it is too late to overturn the genetic corruption their crops will inflict on the once well-protected, sovereign fields of Ukraine.

Like many other things in Ukraine, the so-called “Euromaiden” that was allegedly spurred for freedom and self-determination has clearly stripped Ukraine of both its freedom and its ability to determine what is best for itself. From a military set upon its own people, to an economy looted by foreign interests, to a government directed literally by foreigners who chair it, to now fields to be sown with genetically altered poison, the ruination of Ukraine is nearly complete and a lasting testament to what the West truly means when it says “democratization.”

No One Will Buy GMO-Tainted Crops 

Included in Russia’s comments regarding the impending despoilment of Ukraine’s agricultural industry by Monsanto and others, the Post would report:

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev told a meeting of his counterparts in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Tuesday that the West plans to grown “genetically modified crops” in Ukraine. And it’s a fool’s errand too, he suggested, because, “to put it mildly, Europe will not approve of such products.”

The Post, in its role as associate lobbyist for big-agriculture, attempts to downplay this fact. However, reported elsewhere, even within the Western media itself, are reports that the agricultural powerhouse that is the United States is now importing organic corn because consumers refuse to eat tainted GMO products grown within the States.

Bloomberg in its report “U.S. Forced to Import Corn as Shoppers Demand Organic Food” would claim:

A growing demand for organics, and the near-total reliance by U.S. farmers on genetically modified corn and soybeans, is driving a surge in imports from other nations where crops largely are free of bioengineering. 

Imports such as corn from Romania and soybeans from India are booming, according to an analysis of U.S. trade data released Wednesday by the Organic Trade Association and Pennsylvania State University.

The humiliation of a nation historically self-reliant agriculturally having to import something as basic as corn because everything grown domestically is poisoned is a lesson any Ukrainian seeking to preserve what is left of not only their dignity, but their sense of self-preservation should take note of. Even as the “miracle” of GMO evaporates amid an increasingly astute market in the United States, US corporations are buying off Ukraine’s infinitely servile regime to place Ukraine’s neck into the same noose.

However, in a way the Post is right. Russia is crazy to think Monsanto is taking over the world. The corporation, despite untold of billions pumped into lobbying, propaganda, bribes and other forms of mass persuasion, is failing miserably to convince people to ingest their poison, even in the nation their headquarters is located in. However, Russia shedding light on what Monsanto is trying to do in Ukraine, against the obvious best interests of Ukraine itself, is yet another illustration of how the “Euromaiden” putsch had nothing to do with freedom, and everything to do with Washington and Wall Street hijacking yet another nation and its resources out from under its own people under the guise of “democracy.”

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Italy’s second largest newspaper La Repubblica has broken western media’s silence over the latest wave of political murders in Ukraine.

In an unusual for mainstream western media frank assessment of Kiev’s post-Maidan regime, La Repubblica has denounced “a ruthless sweeping away of every form of political opposition taking place in Kiev”. The paper was reacting to yet another assassination in Ukraine — this time of a popular journalist Oles Buzina.

Not shy of calling a spade a spade, the article leaves no doubts as to what has happened, and is happening in Ukraine, right from the headline: Pro-Russian journalist murdered in Kiev. It is the third political homicide in 24 hours.
Not shy of calling a spade a spade, the article leaves no doubts as to what has happened, and is happening in Ukraine, right from the headline: “Pro-Russian journalist murdered in Kiev. It is the third political homicide in 24 hours.”

The captions describe Oles Buzina as a “journalist and writer very well known in the Ukrainian capital” and his murder as an “execution on his door step”.

“Somebody is systematically killing all those opposed to the Ukrainian government borne from last year’s ‘revolution’.”

Noteworthy here are the inverted commas into which the Italian newspaper puts the word ‘revolution’, thereby putting in doubt the democratic nature of the regime change in Kiev.

The article then quotes President Putin as saying that this is “one of the many crimes of the new Ukraine”.

One would be hard pressed to find, anywhere in western mainstream media, other articles like this, which report Putin’s statements without the slightest attempt of casting his words in a somewhat negative or misleading way.

Coverage of the Ukraine crisis by La Repubblica has been so far little better than those of its British and American counterparts. The editorial line was usually biased against Russia.

In a departure from this bias the article says that murders in Ukraine are taking place “within the silence of many western media”.

More importantly, Buzina’s assassination is set in a context of a series of political homicides with the assassins described as “organized commandos” and “professional hit men” — implying an instigator.

The motives behind the assassinations are clearly explained:

“Yesterday evening [Wednesday], again in the Ukrainian capital, a commando killed Sergey Sukhobok, owner of an internet site and of a small newspaper which contests government policy and puts forward the reasons of the people in rebel Donbass.

“Earlier still, in the afternoon, other hit men had carried on an identical mission near the home of Oleg Kalashnikov, former MP of the pro-Russian Party of the Regions, and considered a great opponent to the movements that protested last year in Kiev’s Maidan and that now run the country.”

Giving readers a taste of Ukraine’s new political climate, the article says that “several oligarchs, politicians and celebrities made creepy statements filled with ‘at last’, ‘he deserved it’, ‘an enemy gone’,” upon hearing news of Kalashnikov’s murder.

The Ukrainian ministry of Interior itself is quoted describing the slain Buzina as “the notorious journalist”.

“Neo-Nazi ‘Pravy Sector’ [Right Sector] movement is probably behind these murders, at least as far as their material execution is concerned,” says the article, again leaving open the possibility of there being an instigator behind such “systematic killings”.

But after a year of seeing the ‘Pravy Sector’ movement dismissed by western media to the tone of “oh, you’ve got some Nazi lunatics everywhere, not just in Ukraine,” it is refreshing to read La Repubblica’s article pointing out that:

“Pravy Sector heavily influences the choices of both government and president Poroshenko, boycotting every attempt to search for a peaceful solution and sending punitive expeditions against anyone who dares to dissent from the new hyper nationalistic and patriotic line”.

Having quoted President Putin’s firm assurances that “there will never be an open war between Russia and Ukraine,” the article concludes that in Ukraine itself “the beginning of a new wave of uncontrollable terror does not bode well”.

Copyright by Daniele Pozzati April 17, 2015

President Bashar al-Assad described in an interview with the Swedish Expressen Newspaper  the outcomes of Moscow talks as a breakthrough and said that the UN envoy’s Aleppo plan, which is supported by the government, was spoiled by external intervention, renewing his warning that the terrorism imported to Syria will “bite” its backers whenever it has the chance.

He also called on Sweden to influence the EU to lift the economic sanctions imposed on the Syrian people.

The following is part of the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, I would like to offer my most sincere thanks on behalf of Expressen for giving us this interview. Thank you so much. While we are sitting here, doing this interview, the terrorist organization ISIS and even al-Nusra is overrunning al-Yarmouk refugee camp. At the same time, al-Nusra is controlling the Syrian-Jordanian border and have taken control over Idleb. How serious would you describe the situation now?

President Assad: Whenever you talk about terrorism, it’s always serious, because it’s always dangerous, anytime, anywhere, no matter how. That’s what you always say about terrorism, and it is not related directly to the example you have mentioned, because this is only a manifestation of terrorism. It’s a long process that started years ago even before the crisis in Syria. Terrorism is serious and dangerous because it doesn’t have borders, it doesn’t have limits. It could hit anywhere, it’s not a domestic issue. It’s not even regional; it’s global, that’s why it’s always dangerous. In our case, it’s more dangerous, let’s say, the situation is worse not only because of the military situation that you have mentioned in your question. Actually because this time it was having a political umbrella by many countries, many leaders, many officials, but mainly in the West. Many of those officials didn’t see the reality at the very beginning. It’s more dangerous this time because we don’t have international law, and you don’t have the effective international organization that would protect a country from another country that uses the terrorists as a proxy to destroy another country. That’s what’s happening in Syria. So, I’ll say yes, it is dangerous, but at the same time, it’s reversible. As long as it’s reversible, it’s not too late to deal with it. It’s going to be more serious with the time when the terrorists indoctrinate the hearts and minds of people.

Question 2: But they are overrunning more areas in Syria. Are the Syrian forces and army weakened?

President Assad: That’s the natural, normal repercussion of any war. Any war weakens any army, no matter how strong, no matter how modern. It undermines and weakens every society, in every aspect of the word; the economy, the society, let’s say, the morals, and of course the army as part of this society. That’s normal.

Question 3: But is the army weaker than before? Because last year, we could see win-win effect from your side, from the army’s side, you overrunning more areas, more control over al-Qalamoun and other areas, but now, they have control over Idleb, as an example.

President Assad: It’s not related to that issue, whether it’s stronger or weaker. As I said, any war undermines any army, that’s the natural course of events. But in your case, when you look at the context of the war for the last four years, you have ups and downs. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and that depends on many criteria, some of them related to domestic, internal and military criteria, or factors, let’s say, which is more precise. Some of them are related to how much support the terrorists have. For example, the recent example that you mentioned about Idleb, the main factor was the huge support that came through Turkey; logistic support, and military support, and of course financial support that came through Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

President al-Assad-interview-Sweden-Expressen 2

Question 4: Is it information, or is it an opinion?

President Assad: Information, everything, they were like one army; the terrorists, al-Nusra Front which is part of al-Qaeda, and the Turkish government or institutions or intelligence, were like one army in that battle, so it doesn’t depend on the weakening of our army. It depended more on how much support the terrorists have from Turkey.

Question 5: Turkey and Qatar and Saudi Arabia, they had an agenda four years ago. Did it change? Did they change that agenda?

President Assad: First of all, they’re not independent countries, so they won’t have their own agenda. Sometimes they have their own narrow-minded behavior or vengeful behavior or hateful behavior that’s been used by others’ agenda, let’s be frank here, sometimes the United States. So, we cannot say that they have their own agenda, but they haven’t changed. They still support the same terrorists, because this behavior is not related to the crisis in Syria. They supported the terrorists in Afghanistan, they supported the Wahhabi ideology, the extremism that led to terrorism recently in Europe, for decades, and now they are supporting the same ideology and the same factions under different labels and names in Syria. So, there’s nothing to change because this is their natural behavior.

Question 6: Which ideology you mean?

President Assad: The Wahhabi ideology, which forms the foundation for every terrorism in the world. No terrorist acts for the last decades in the Middle East and in the world happened without this ideology. Every terrorist bases his doctrine on the Wahhabi ideology.

Question 7: Wahhabi ideology, it’s linked to 9-11 and all the terrorist groups. Doesn’t the United States know about that link between Wahhabi ideology and terrorists? But they continue to support Saudi Arabia.

President Assad: This is a very important question, because the United States in the 1980s called the same groups of al-Qaeda and Taliban, in Afghanistan, they called them holy fighters, and that’s what president Bush described them as, holy fighters. And then, after the 11th of September 2001, they called them terrorists. The problem with the United States and of course some Western officials is that they think you can use terrorism as a card in your pocket, as a political card. Actually, terrorism is like a scorpion; whenever it has the chance, it will bite. So, they know, but they didn’t estimate how dangerous terrorism is to be used as a political card.

Question 8: Mr. President, the official Syrian delegation and part of the opposition have recently met in Moscow. Are there any effective results of that meeting?

President Assad: Actually, yes. We can say yes, because this meeting was the first time to reach – because you know we had many dialogues before – this is the first time to reach an agreement upon some of the principles that could make the foundation for the next dialogue between the Syrians. We haven’t finalized it yet, because the schedule of that meeting was very comprehensive, so four days wasn’t enough. Actually, two days, it was four days, but two days between the government and the other opposition representatives. It wasn’t enough to finalize the schedule, but because when you have a breakthrough, even if it’s a partial breakthrough, it means that the next meeting will be promising in reaching a full agreement about what are the principles of Syrian dialogue that will bring a Syrian, let’s say, solution to the conflict.

Question 9: It’s very important, what you say, Mr. President, because the United Nations’ Syria Envoy, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, he’s planning a series of consultations to begin in May or June to assess the chance of finding a common ground between the main states with an interest in the conflict. What do you think about it?

President Assad: Actually, I agree with de Mistura about this point, because if we want to look at the conflict in Syria as only an internal conflict between Syrian factions, that’s not realistic and that’s not objective. Actually, the problem is not very complicated, but it became complicated because of external intervention, and any plan you want to execute in Syria today in order to solve the problem – and that’s what he faced in his plan towards Aleppo – it will be spoiled by external intervention. That’s what happened in Aleppo, when the Turks told the factions, the terrorists they support and supervise, to refuse to cooperate with de Mistura, so I think he’s aware that if he couldn’t convince these countries to stop supporting the terrorists and let the Syrians solve their problem, he will not succeed.

Question 10: What is your opinion about de Mistura’s efforts?

President Assad: We discussed with him the plan for Aleppo, and it comes in line with our efforts in making reconciliations in different areas in Syria. This is where we succeeded, and this is where you could make things better, when you have people going back to their normality, when the government gives them amnesty and they turn in their armaments, and so on.  So, his plan for Aleppo comes in line with the same principle of reconciliation, so we supported it from the very beginning, and we still support his efforts in that regard.

Question 11: Mr. President, Sweden is the only country in Europe that grants permanent rights of stay for people that flee the war in Syria. What has that meant, and how do you view Sweden’s policy?

President Assad: In that regard or in general?

Question 12: In that regard, that’s right.

President Assad: I think that’s something that’s appreciated around the world, not only in our country, and this humanitarian stand of Sweden is appreciated regarding different conflicts, including the Syrian one. So, this is a good thing to do, to give people refuge, but if you ask the Syrian people who fled from Syria “what do you want?” They don’t want to flee Syria because of the war; they want to end that war. That’s their aim, that’s our aim. So, I think if you give people refuge, it is good, but the best is to help them in going back to their country. How? I think Sweden is an important country in the EU. It can play a major role in lifting the sanctions, because many of the Syrians who went to Sweden or any other country, didn’t only leave because of the terrorist acts; they left because of the embargo, because they have no way for living, they want the basics for their daily livelihood. Because of the embargo, they had to leave Syria, so lifting the embargo that has affected every single Syrian person and at the same time banning any European country from giving an umbrella to terrorists under different names, whether they call it peaceful opposition, whether they call it moderate opposition. It’s been very clear today, it’s been proved, that this opposition that they used to support is the same al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood. Third one is to make pressure over countries that support terrorists and prevent any plan of peace in Syria, like the one that you mentioned, of Mr. de Mistura, to be implemented in Syria, mainly Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. So I think this is the best help and humanitarian help on the political title that Sweden could offer to the Syrian people.

Question 13: Embargo and war, and millions of refugees or people who fled from the country. This has been described as the worst refugee crisis since World War II. How big of a responsibility, Mr. President, do you have for this situation?

President Assad: I think to compare between what’s happening in Syria, even from a humanitarian point of view, and what happened in World War II, I think it’s kind of a huge exaggeration. We cannot compare, for political reasons. But regardless of this exaggeration, we have millions of people who are displaced from their areas to other areas because of the terrorist acts, and that’s a huge burden. Actually, so far, we bear the major brunt of the crisis. You hear a lot of fuss about what the international organizations and what they call themselves “friends of Syria” spend money and give support and donations to the Syrians. Actually, if you want to have just a glimpse of what we are doing, for example in 2014, last year, all those countries and organizations offered in the food sector 22% of what we offer as a country during the war. That’s a huge difference, which is 1 to 5.

Question 14: Inside the country?

President Assad: Inside Syria, yes. Regarding the healthcare sector, it was 1 to 18 in our favor. So actually, we are bearing the brunt. Besides that, we’re still paying salaries, sending vaccines to the children, offering and providing the basic requirements for the hospitals in the areas that are under the control of the terrorists. So, we are still running the country and bearing the brunt.

President al-Assad-interview-Sweden-Expressen 4

Question 15: According to SAPO, the Swedish intelligence agency, returning jihadists – there are many here in Syria now – returning jihadists are the biggest domestic threat in Sweden today. Do you agree?

President Assad: I wouldn’t look at terrorism as domestic or as regional. As I said, it’s global. So, if you want to look at Sweden as part of Europe or part of the Scandinavian group of European countries, you have to take into consideration that the most dangerous leaders of ISIS in our region are Scandinavian.

Question 16: This is information?

President Assad: Yes, it’s information. That’s what we have as information. So, you cannot separate this group of countries or Sweden from Europe. As long as you have terrorism growing in different European countries, Sweden cannot be safe. As long as the backyard of Europe, especially the Mediterranean and Northern Africa is in chaos and full of terrorists, Europe cannot be safe. So, yes I agree that it is a primary or prime threat, but you cannot call it domestic, but it’s a threat.

Question 17: Has Sweden asked you to share information about these ISIS fighters or other jihadists?

President Assad: No, there’s no contact between our intelligence agencies.

Question 18: Mr. President, in December 2010, Taimour Abdulwahab, a Swedish terrorist who was trained in Iraq and Syria, carried out a suicide attack in Stockholm. Recently, the same scenario in Paris, Charlie Hebdo, and even Copenhagen. Do you think Western countries will face the same scenario in the future?

President Assad: Actually, everything that happened in Europe, and I mean terrorist attacks, we warned from at the very beginning of the crisis, and I said Syria is a fault line, when you mess with this fault line you will have the echoes and repercussions in different areas, not only in our area, even in Europe. At that time, they said the Syrian president is threatening. Actually, I wasn’t threatening; I was describing what’s going to happen. It doesn’t take a genius because that’s the context of events that happened many times in our region, and we have experience with those kinds of terrorists for more than 50 years now. They didn’t listen, so what happened was warned of before, and what we saw in France, in Charlie Hebdo, the suicide attempts in Copenhagen, in London, in Spain, ten years ago, this is only the tip of the iceberg; terrorism is a huge mountain. It’s not isolated events. When you have those isolated events, you have to know that you have a big mountain under the sea that you don’t see. So, yes, I expect, as long as you have this mountain, and as long as many European officials are still adulating countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar just for their money and selling their values and allowing the Wahhabi dark ideology to infiltrate and be instilled in some communities in Europe, we have to expect more attacks in that regard.

Question 19: What is the most effective way to deal with terrorism?

President Assad: First of all, terrorism is not a war. First of all, it’s a state of mind, it’s a culture, so you have to deal with this culture. You have to deal with it in an ideological way, and that implicates the education and the culture. Second, those terrorists exploit the poor people. You have to deal with poverty, so economic growth is very important, development. Third, you have to deal with the political issue that’s being used by these terrorists in order to indoctrinate those youths or children in solving the political problems in our region, for example the peace issue was one of the primary reasons for those terrorists to recruit terrorists.

Question 20: Which peace? You mean the peace process?

President Assad: I mean between the Arabs and the Israelis. Solving this problem, because this is one of the reasons to having desperation, you have to deal with the desperation of those youths who wanted to go and die to go to heaven to have a better life. That’s how they think. So, you have to deal with these desperations. The last measure is exchanging information between the intelligence. War is only to defend yourself against terrorism. You cannot go and attack terrorism by war, you can only defend yourself if they use military means, so that’s how we can defend against terrorism.

Question 21: Mr. President, ISIS has asked its supporters from around the world to come to Syria and Iraq to populate their so-called caliphate. How do you see the future for ISIS?

President Assad: I don’t think that ISIS so far has any real incubator in our society. Let me talk about Syria first. I cannot talk on behalf of other societies in our region, because when you talk about ISIS it’s not a Syrian issue now; Syrian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Libyan, in Egypt, in many areas they have it. But regarding Syria, they don’t have the incubator, so if you want to talk about the short term, ISIS doesn’t have a future, but in the midterm, in the long term, when they indoctrinate the hearts and minds of the people, especially the youths and children. This area will have only one future; al-Qaeda future, which is ISIS, al-Nusra, and Muslim Brotherhood, and this is going to be your backyard, I mean the European backyard.

Question 22: In the middle and long term, it’s very dangerous.

President Assad: Of course it is, because you can take procedures against many things, but ideology you cannot control.  When it is instilled, it’s very difficult to get rid of. So, when it’s instilled, this is the only future of the region.

Question 23: ISIS and al-Nusra, they get help, they receive support from outside, you said Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and like that, but so does your side too. You have Hezbollah fighting for you. Do you need Hezbollah here in Syria?

President Assad: As a Swedish citizen, you don’t accept anyone to tell you or to draw comparison between Taimour Abdulwahab, for example, as a terrorist, and your government, no matter whether you agree with your government or oppose your government. The same for Charlie Hebdo, terrorists and the French government, you cannot make comparison. So, we don’t accept as Syrians to have comparison between the state and the terrorist organizations. Our mission is to help the country, to defend the citizens, while I don’t think this is the role of ISIS or al-Nusra or the Muslim Brotherhood. Their role, actually, is only to kill people and terrorize them. So, you cannot make a comparison. Second, as a government, we have the right to ask for support from any state or organization or any entity that will help us in our war against terrorism. Third, because when I said terrorism cannot be a domestic issue, and this is wrong to look at it as a domestic issue, the good thing is to have cooperation with different powers in the region. For example, we had cooperation between the Syrians and the Iraqis even before the rise of ISIS recently during the summer of last year in Mosul. Before that we had good cooperation, intelligence and even military, for one reason; because the Iraqis were aware that the terrorism in Syria could spill over to Iraq, and that’s what happened in Mosul. The same is with the Lebanese. So, Hezbollah is aware that terrorism in Syria means terrorism in Lebanon. Chaos here means chaos there, so this kind of regional cooperation is very important for all of us.

Question 24: Mr. President, once again you are accused for having used chemical weapons in Syria. Two sets of tests carried out for The Times and medical charities reveal that your forces chlorine and cyanide, according to The Times and even Amnesty International, I think. What do you have to say about it?

President Assad: We always said this is propaganda against Syria from the very first day, to demonize the president to demonize the state, in order to bring the hearts and minds of the Syrian people toward their agenda. That didn’t work, and if you want to compare this propaganda to what is happening now in the West regarding Ukraine, it’s nearly the same; demonizing Putin and telling and forging, a lot of videos and things that only tell the public opinion in the West lies. This is reality. Western people should be aware about this. That doesn’t mean we don’t have mistakes, we don’t have something wrong or something bad going on, but at the end, this media propaganda doesn’t reflect the reality in our region. So, talking about the chemical weapons, they didn’t have a single evidence regarding this, and even the numbers that are being published by many European organizations as part of that propaganda were varied from 200 victims to 1,400 victims. It means it’s not objective, it’s not precise, and so far there’s no evidence that those people were killed because of this attack. The only evidence that we have when the committee came from the United Nations, it proved that the sarin gas was used in that area, but they couldn’t tell how and by whom, so they just keep accusing Syria of that. That’s not realistic, because if you want to use WMDs, you don’t kill a few hundreds; you kill tens of thousands of people, and that’s beside the capital, it will affect everyone. So, many stories regarding this issue are not correct. Second, we are the party who asked the United Nations to send a delegation to verify this allegation.

Question 25: You still do that?

President Assad: We did, Syria did. Syria asked the United Nations, not any other country. When there was proof that terrorists used it in the north of Syria, they didn’t try to verify it. They didn’t mention it. So it’s part of the political agenda against Syria.

Question 26: As you know there are many serious allegations against your government, about human rights abuses committed by your side. How much do you know about torture in your prisons here?

President Assad: When you talk about torture we have to differentiate between policy of torture and individual incidents that happen by any individual. When you talk about a policy of torture, the closest example is what happened in Guantanamo. In Guantanamo, there was a policy of torture by the American administration that was endorsed by president Bush and by his minister of defense and the rest of the administration. With Syria we never had under any circumstances such a policy. If you have any breach of law, torture, revenge, whatever, it could be an individual incident that the one who committed should be held accountable for. So, that’s what could happen anywhere in the world, like any other crime.

Question 27: Can Amnesty International or Red Cross visit your prisons here?

President Assad: We had many reporters and many organizations that came to Syria, but if you want to mention a certain name to come and visit, that depends on the kind of cooperation a certain organization and our government and that depends on the credibility of the organization. But in principle, many organizations and entities can visit our prisons.

Question 28: Mr. President, I have covered the war in Syria for the last four years. I met different groups and activists who were involved in the conflict. I even met soldiers from your army here. Some of those activists are actually not Islamists. I have been told that they fight for freedom. What would you like to say to them?

President Assad: We never said every fighter is an Islamist. We know that. But they are prevailing now, the terrorists, ISIS and al-Nusra, but if you want to talk about freedom, freedom is a natural instinct in every human since our ancestor Adam, and this is a divine thing for anyone to ask for, so it’s going to be illogical and unrealistic and against the nature of the Earth and the people to be against freedom. But we have to ask a few simple questions. Is killing people part of that freedom? Is destroying schools and banning children from going to schools part of that freedom? Destroying the infrastructure, electricity, communications, sanitation system, beheading, dismemberment of victims. Is that freedom? I think the answer to that question is very clear to everyone regardless of their culture. So, we support anyone who works to get more freedom, but in an institutional way, under the constitution of that country, not by violence and terrorism and destroying the country. There’s no relation between that and freedom.

Question 29: They blame even the Syrian army for the same things, as in killing and like that.

President Assad: They have to prove. I mean, the army has been fighting for four years. How can you withstand a war against so many countries, great countries and rich countries, while you kill your people? How could you have the support of your people? That’s impossible. That’s against reality, I mean, that’s unpalatable.

Question 30: If you could turn back the time to 2011 and the start of the crisis, what would you, with the benefit of hindsight, have done differently?

President Assad: We have to go to the basics first. I mean, the two things that we adopted in the very beginning: fight the terrorists, and at the same make dialogue, and we started dialogue during the first year, a few months after the beginning of the conflicts in Syria. We invited everyone to the table to make dialogue, and we cooperated with every initiative that came from the United Nations, from the Arab League, and from any other country, regardless of the credibility of that initiative, just in order not to leave any stone unturned and not to give anyone the excuse that they didn’t do this or didn’t do that. So, we tried everything. So, I don’t think anyone could say that we should have gone in a different way, whether regarding the dialogue or fighting terrorism. These are the main pillars of our policy since the beginning of the problem. Now, any policy needs execution and implementation. In implementation, you always have mistakes and that’s natural. So, to talk about doing things differently, it could be about the details sometimes, but I don’t think now the Syrians would say we don’t want to make dialogue or we don’t want to fight terrorism.

Syrian Rebels Caught in ‘False-Flag’ Kidnapping

April 18th, 2015 by Robert Parry

Image: Richard Engel, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent.

In December 2012, Syria’s U.S.-backed “moderate” rebels pulled off a false-flag kidnapping and “rescue” of NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his crew, getting the crime blamed on a militia tied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a propaganda scam that NBC played along with despite having evidence of the truth.

On Wednesday, Engel, who had blamed an Assad-linked Shiite militia in reports both for NBC and Vanity Fair, acknowledged that a new examination of the case persuaded him that “the group that kidnapped us was Sunni, not Shia.” He added that the kidnappers “put on an elaborate ruse to convince us they were Shiite shabiha militiamen.”

According to an account published by the New York Times on Thursday – in its “Business Day” section – NBC executives had evidence from the beginning that the actual kidnappers were part of “a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the loose alliance of rebels opposed to Mr. Assad.”

The Free Syrian Army has been the principal rebel force supported by the U.S. government which, in April 2013, several months after Engel’s high-profile ordeal, earmarked $123 million in aid to the group to carry out its war against Assad’s government.

The other significance of the Syrian rebels’ successful false-flag kidnapping/rescue of Engel is that it may have encouraged them to sponsor other events that would be blamed on the Syrian government and excite the U.S. government and media to intervene militarily against Assad.

On Aug. 21, 2013, a mysterious Sarin gas attack outside Damascus killed several hundred people, causing U.S. officials, journalists and human rights activists to immediately leap to the conclusion that Assad was responsible and that he had crossed President Barack Obama’s “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and thus deserved U.S. military retaliation.

Within days, this political-media hysteria brought the United States to the verge of a sustained bombing campaign against the Syrian military before contrary evidence began emerging suggesting that extremist elements of the Syrian rebel force may have deployed the Sarin as a false-flag event. Obama pulled back at the last moment, infuriating America’s influential neoconservatives who had long put “regime change” in Syria near the top of their to-do list.

In retrospect, the aborted U.S. bombing campaign, if carried out, might well have so devastated the Syrian military that the gates of Damascus would have fallen open to the two most powerful rebel armies, Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the hyper-brutal Islamic State, meaning that the black flag of Islamic terrorism might have been raised over one of the Mideast’s most important capitals.

Dangers of Bad Journalism

The revelations about Engel’s staged kidnapping/rescue also illuminate the dangers of biased mainstream U.S. journalism in which the big news organizations take sides in a conflict overseas and shed even the pretense of professional objectivity.

In the case of Syria, the major U.S. media put on blinders for many months to pretend that Assad was opposed by “moderate” rebels until it became impossible to deny that the dominant rebel forces were Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State. In late September 2013, many of the U.S.-backed, supposedly “moderate” rebels realigned themselves with Al-Qaeda’s affiliate.

In the case of Ukraine, U.S. journalists have put on their blinders again so as not to notice that the U.S.-backed coup regime in Kiev has relied on neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists to wage an “anti-terrorist operation” against ethnic Russians in the east who have resisted the overthrow of their elected President Viktor Yanukovych. When it comes to Ukraine, the more than 5,000 deaths – mostly ethnic Russians in the east – are all blamed on Russian President Vladimir Putin. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine.”]

These biased storylines – with the “U.S. side” wearing white hats and the other side wearing black hats – are not only bad journalism but invite atrocities because the “U.S. side” knows that the U.S. mainstream media will reflexively blame any horrors on the black-hatted “bad guys.”

In the case of Engel’s staged kidnapping/rescue, the New York Times belatedly reexamined the case not in the context of a disinformation campaign designed to excite war against Syria’s Assad but as a follow-up to disclosures that NBC’s longtime anchor Brian Williams had exaggerated the danger he was in while covering the Iraq War in 2003 – explaining the story’s placement in the business section where such media articles often go.

The most serious journalistic offense by NBC in this case appeared to be that it was aware of the behind-the-scenes reality – that individuals associated with the U.S.-backed rebels were likely responsible – but still let Engel go on the air to point the finger of blame in Assad’s direction.

The Times reported that the kidnapping

“group, known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade, was led by two men, Azzo Qassab and Shukri Ajouj, who had a history of smuggling and other crimes. … NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity, according to current and former NBC employees and others who helped search for Mr. Engel, including political activists and security professionals.

“Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events. … NBC’s own assessment during the kidnapping had focused on Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj, according to a half-dozen people involved in the recovery effort.

“NBC had received GPS data from the team’s emergency beacon that showed it had been held early in the abduction at a chicken farm widely known by local residents and other rebels to be controlled by the Sunni criminal group.

“NBC had sent an Arab envoy into Syria to drive past the farm, according to three people involved in the efforts to locate Mr. Engel, and engaged in outreach to local commanders for help in obtaining the team’s release. These three people declined to be identified, citing safety considerations.

“Ali Bakran, a rebel commander who assisted in the search, said in an interview that when he confronted Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj with the GPS map, ‘Azzo and Shukri both acknowledged having the NBC reporters.’ Several rebels and others with detailed knowledge of the episode said that the safe release of NBC’s team was staged after consultation with rebel leaders when it became clear that holding them might imperil the rebel efforts to court Western support.

“Abu Hassan, a local medic who is close to the rebel movement, and who was involved in seeking the team’s release, said that when the kidnappers realized that all the other rebels in the area were working to get the captives out, they decided to create a ruse to free them and blame the kidnapping on the Assad regime. ‘It was there that the play was completed,’ he said, speaking of the section of road Mr. Engel and the team were freed on.

“Thaer al-Sheib, another local man connected with the rebel movement who sought the NBC team, said that on the day of the release ‘we heard some random shots for less than a minute coming from the direction of the farm.’ He said that Abu Ayman, the rebel commander credited with freeing the team, is related by marriage to Mr. Ajouj, and that he staged the rescue.”

The Sarin Mystery

While it’s impossible to determine whether the successful scam about Engel’s kidnapping/rescue influenced the thinking of other Syrian rebels to sponsor a false-flag attack using Sarin, some of the same propaganda factors applied – with the U.S. news media jumping to conclusions about Assad’s responsibility for the Sarin deaths and then ridiculing any doubters.

Yet, like the Engel kidnapping affair, there were immediate reasons to doubt the “group think” on the Sarin attack, especially since Assad had just invited United Nations inspectors to Syria to investigate what he claimed was an earlier use of chemical weapons by the rebels. As the inspectors were unpacking their bags in Damascus, the Sarin attack occurred in a Damascus suburb, a provocation that quickly forced the inspectors to address the new incident instead.

The inspectors were under extraordinary U.S. pressure to implicate Assad — especially after Secretary of State John Kerry described a massive Sarin attack using multiple rockets that he said could only have come from a Syrian military base. But the inspectors only found one crudely made Sarin-laden rocket – and when rocket experts examined it, they estimated that it could only travel a couple of kilometers, meaning it was likely fired from rebel-controlled territory. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

Even as the evidence implicating the Syrian government evaporated, the mainstream U.S. news media and many wannabe important bloggers continued to defend the earlier “group think” on the Sarin attack and reject the possibility that the sainted rebels had done it. But the false-flag Engel kidnapping/rescue shows that such propaganda stunts were in the rebels’ bag of tricks.

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

Bay of Pigs: Unforgettable Battle

April 18th, 2015 by Global Research News

by Roberto Jesus Hernandez Hernandez

It is said that walking through the Zapata Swamp is like doing so in several countries at the time due to the variety of its nature and scene of the Bay of Pigs invasion still in the memory of the heroic Cuban forces and the mercenaries that were defeated 54 years ago.

A traveler that visits today the largest wetland in the Caribbean, full of roads, modern tourism centers and private installations cannot imagine the drama of the combats that led to the first great defeat of imperialism in Latin America.

Julio A. Amorin Ponce, historian of the municipality of Matanzas province and located over 180 kilometers southeast of Havana said that not even books can collect all that happened during the invasion.

The researcher added that today people remember the Young militia that defeated the enemy in less than 72 hours, civilians destroyed by bullets and the joy of those that defended the island’s sovereignty on April 19th, 1961.

Five decades after the invasion a large part of the official archives on the event is still kept secret whose prelude was Operation Pluto, organized, financed and executed by the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA.

Barely four months after the US broke off diplomatic ties with Cuba, a paramilitary force landed on the island with over 1500 well equipped mercenaries. This is documented and explained in a local museum dedicated to the invasion for all visitors.

Mercenaries paid by the US government did not hesitate in violating international conventions when they used the Cuban air force symbols on their aircrafts and used Napalm against local combatants despite the prohibition of its use, recalls Amorin.

Photographs of the time immortalize the courage of the Cuban people guided by its historical leader Fidel Castro and whose invaders planned on creating a provisional government to subvert the internal order.

The truth is that the forgotten corner on the island, where people lived in inhuman conditions working producing and selling coal for a miserable salary saw their children die due to hunger and diseases is currently more prosperous than ever before in history.

The Revolution that triumphed in 1959 preserved the exuberant beauty of the land and changed forever the destiny of the locals with a dignified life that knows how to defend the country in times like those in the history of the Bay of Pigs.

Source:

Abel González Alayón
Chief-Editor Language Department
Cuban News Agency

Copyright Roberto Jesus Hernandez Hernandez, AIN Special Service April 17, 2015

Policy made in a state of delirium is rarely good. US policy towards Cuba has veered between paranoia and mania since the island state fell out of the orbit of Washington’s brutal and promiscuous designs.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama edged further along the long road of rapprochement and rehabilitation by announcing his intention to remove Cuba from the American government’s list of nations deemed sponsors of terrorism. For the acronym minded, the SSOT (State Sponsors of Terrorism) list will have one less member.

Placing Cuba on the list during the years of the Reagan administration was a formality, albeit an idiotic one deemed necessary in a Cold War climate.  In moving the Cold War settings into a different gear, Reagan officials considered it appropriate to place Castro’s regime on the most contrived of lists.  Support for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Basque Fatherland and Liberty movement (ETA) in Spain, were deemed good enough.

The hoops in terms of taking Cuba off that list are extensive.  The rescission of that status is filled with bureaucratic constrictions that say nothing about regimes and conduct.  Like an application form, Cuba has to satisfy a range of criteria imposed upon it by statute, a form of state sanctioned gobbledygook.

Much of this was outlined by US State Department officials via Teleconference on April 14.  The President submits a report to Congress with a minimum of 45 days before the proposed rescission comes into effect certifying that “the Government of Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding six-month period” and “that the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.”[1]

As late as January 6, 2015, the National Review Online would insist that the books on Cuba were being cooked to make it appear “kinder-and-gentler”.[2]  Support for FARC, as outlined in the “April 2014 State Department Country Reports on Terrorism” spoke of being confined to facilitating travel for peace talks.  The ETA presence in Cuba had also lessened with time.  But, authors for the NRO insisted that, “Terrorists, murderers, and other violent criminals were being protected, well fed, and supported by the Communist regime.”  Much like Washington’s policies then – everyone has their sanctioned fugitives, their unprincipled allies.

The article was added to the Congressional Record with enthusiasm by Miami Republican Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, who continues to be sceptical of the Obama stance towards Havana. “Just like the Taliban 5 trade with Bergdahl,” argued Ros-Lehtinen in February somewhat histrionically, “the President has established a dangerous precedent that the United States does in fact negotiate with terrorists, putting a target on every American’s back and jeopardising our national security.”[3]

Fascinatingly banal, given that the US has, in fact, been engaging in those very acts of negotiation since it became a power of consequence.  Even the evangelical Reagan facilitated negotiations with the bug bear of Shia sponsored terrorism, Iran, over the matter of hostages in the Iran-Contra scandal.

An indication about how flawed the list is can be gathered from countries which have been off it. Saudi Arabia, the most problematic of allies, has funded, as it still does, militias and groups with a strong, and murderous, anti-American bias.  That sort of perverted policy doesn’t count for listing in the corridors of power in Washington.  We help them to wound us, which is a form of exotic self-harming.

While the terrorist designation has always been arbitrary, it has come with pernicious consequences. These were highlighted in the farcical events surrounding the cessation of services to foreign missions on the part of M & T Bank of Buffalo.  It was the one bank that engaged Cuban diplomats in Washington.  Ceasing such operations placed the Cubans in a pickle – no other banks were willing to offer their good offices, the reason being that Cuba was still officially a “sponsor of state terrorism”.[4]  The result: bundles of cash were being used in transactions.

Similar problems were facing Cuba’s efforts to re-open embassies.  Normal diplomatic relations were continuing to prove distinctly abnormal.  As Gustavo Machin, deputy director of American affairs at the Cuba Foreign Ministry explained to reporters in February, “It would be a contradiction, the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, if Cuba still remains on the list of countries sponsoring international terrorism.”[5]

Various Republicans, notably those who see the Castros as devil’s incarnate, see no reason why the relationship should be warmed, or the terrorist credential removed.  They are at odds with the commercial lobbies which are smacking their lips at the prospect of allowing “free enterprise to flourish,” to use the words of the Chamber of Commerce.  Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist is seeing money flow like a river into the state.  “Being able to open up relations with the Cuban people and to have more trade not only benefits all America but in particular the state of Florida being only 90 miles away.”[6]

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

On April 13, 2015 Vladimir Putin lifted Russia’s  ban on shipping S-300 antiaircraft defensive missile systems to Iran, self-imposed in 2010. Moscow and Tehran originally signed a contract to supply these systems back in 2007. At the time, the idea was  to sell a number of Russia-manufactured S-300 divisions to Iran.

The term “self-imposed ban” is used here deliberately. UN Security Council Resolution 1929 from June 9, 2010 placed no restrictions of any kind on transferring S-300 systems to Iran. Paragraph 8 of the resolution introduced a “weapons” embargo on direct and indirect shipments to Iran of “… any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms …” S-300 antiaircraft systems, whether air-defense or antiballistic, are not mentioned in the resolution in any way. In addition, that UN Register does not stipulate that countries that manufacture air- or missile-defense systems should be banned from shipping them to any other states.

The negative reaction to Moscow’s April 13 decision from the US and many of its NATO allies, as well as Israel, raises a lot of questions. It seems almost as though they inhabit a different universe and know nothing of the real world.

First, as already noted, the existing international legal norms have not and do not prohibit shipments of air- and missile-defense equipment to other states as part of trade in conventional arms. For example, the United States has supplied 12 different countries (both NATO members and non-members) with similar Patriot systems, as well as mobile TMD systems to another three states, and the even more effective and long-range Standard missile-defense systems to four more nations. In 2015 and 2018 Romania and Poland will be added to that list. It is common knowledge that the six states in the Persian Gulf where Iran is located have received various ABM systems from the US and intend to purchase updated versions of them in the future. Several NATO states have supplied Patriot antiaircraft systems to Turkey.

US missile shield over Europe

US missile shield over Europe

Secondthe United States is not only moving its air- and missile-defense systems under its direct control to other countries, but is also positioning its own national, comparable armaments far beyond its borders, in Romania and Poland for example, while preventing those countries’ military experts from controlling the future operational ABM systems in, respectively, Deveselu and Redzikowo. But the S-300 and other comparable systems that may be sent to Iran will be fully and entirely under that country’s direct management and control.

ThirdWashington has provided significant military assistance to Israel, helping it to develop and establish its own increasingly powerful air- and missile-defense system. That apparatus is technically superior to the existing Iranian versions.

FourthRussian S-300 systems and their subsequent variations, as well as the American systems mentioned above that are functionally similar, are purely defensive, not offensive weapons. In this context it must be kept in mind that offensive weapons can also be loaded into the silos that hold the defensive interceptors for the US missile-defense system in Romania and Poland. This means cruise missiles, and soon will also include exceptionally accurate, long-range hypersonic missiles. The proposed shipments of air- and missile-defense equipment to Iran will not pose a threat to either Israel or any other state in the Middle East.

But nowhere on earth is anyone using legal postulates to suggest banning US shipments of various categories of antiaircraft missiles to nearly two dozen other countries. Demands like that are generally tied to geopolitical considerations. But this is an example of a completely unfair double standard: why is one permitted to supply such weapons systems while another may not?

There is yet another factor to be considered – at the present time Israel has already developed nuclear weapons and possesses its own air defense and resources to intercept ballistic and other missiles, but Iran has not yet developed nuclear weapons of its own and does not yet command effective air- and missile-defense systems. As the United States, its leading NATO allies and Israel are continuously threatening to use military force against Iran, the current Iranian leadership’s pursuit of up-to-date air-defense and antiballistic countermeasures is actually a reasonable, logical, and opportune approach. Iran has every right to defend itself. For this reason, that nation’s leaders hope to receive these Russian air- and missile-defense systems before the end of this year. Their request is welcomed in Moscow and will be satisfied in time.

And one final important point: Russia’s decision to rescind her previous embargo against supplying Iran with S-300 antiaircraft systems (or some newer defensive systems of this class) is final and “not subject to appeal.” Moscow is firmly convinced that no restrictions on this exist any longer, nor can they exist.

Prof. Vladimir Kozin is the leading Russian expert on disarmament and strategic stability issues, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

Right-wing Israeli organisations have been quietly escalating “legal warfare” against the Palestinian leadership in an attempt to dissuade it from bringing war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court.

The latest case against the Palestinians, filed in the US, threatens lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines against Hamas leaders, including Khaled Mashal, for briefly closing Israel’s only international airport during Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer.

It follows a decision by a New York jury in February to impose $218m damages on the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian government-in-waiting in the occupied territories. The compensation relates to six attacks more than a decade ago, at the start of the second intifada, in which US citizens were killed or injured.

The legal campaign, which exploits loosely defined anti-terrorism laws in the US, appears designed to exhaust the Palestinian authority’s existing financial reserves and isolate it from funding sources in the region.

Comments from Shurat HaDin, a legal group that initiated the action against the PA, indicate that the intention is to push Palestinian institutions toward collapse, both as a way to weaken efforts to resist Israel’s occupation and to destroy any possibility of Palestinian statehood.

Punishing Palestinians

Last December, as the PA case opened, Shurat HaDin’s director, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, warned that the goal was to create “financial instability” for the Palestinians. She added that harsh financial penalties would be a test of the PA’s readiness for statehood: “If they want to become a state, they have to show that they can meet their obligations.”

The $218m award and similar ones that may be approved by US juries in the future could potentially bankrupt the PA.

Palestinian officials have already warned that the PA is in dire financial trouble after Israel recently withheld millions in tax revenues it collects on the Authority’s behalf.

Palestinian institutions also risk finding themselves financially marooned after Israeli legal groups scored a success in the US last week against a leading Middle East bank.

In a precedent-setting case last September, a US jury found the Jordan-based Arab Bank liable for 24 attacks, blamed on Hamas, in which US citizens were hurt or killed. The bank was shown to have made transactions to accounts belonging to Hamas members.

A federal judge in Brooklyn upheld that verdict last week, even though the bank had demonstrated it followed standard industry practices. The door is now open to some 300 victims and their relatives to claim damages, likely to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The ruling’s wider significance is that it is likely to make most banks wary of operating in the occupied Palestinian territories for fear of handling accounts that may later be shown to belong to Palestinians involved in attacks against Israel.

Similar cases are pending against other banks, including the Bank of China, Credit Lyonnais and a unit of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Move to Hague court

The raft of recent cases in the US launched by Israeli organisations has been largely overlooked as world attention has focused instead on Palestinian efforts to use legal action against Israel.

This month the Palestinian Authority became an official member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Palestinians are expected to request that the Hague court investigate Israeli officials for war crimes, both those committed last summer during Israel’s attack on Gaza and those associated with decades of settlement-building in the occupied territories.

Israeli leaders, led by Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, have accused the PA of pursuing what they call “lawfare” instead of peace negotiations.

In January Netanyahu convened legal advisers to help devise a strategy to discredit the ICC, saying war crimes investigations against Israel were “absurd” and a “perversion of justice”.

He is fearful that such investigations will “delegitimise” Israel and make it increasingly difficult for Israeli officials to travel overseas, where they might be arrested.

Gilead Sher, a lawyer and former government adviser, recently observed that “the emerging legal front [by the Palestinians] is nothing less than an extension of the battlefield… The Palestinian approach is based on a theory of total warfare that includes legal efforts combined with mass media manipulation, active diplomacy, incitement, boycotts and sanctions.”

Israeli ‘lawfare’

But in truth, Israeli organisations have so far proved much more effective at lawfare than the Palestinians.

The message of Sher and others that Israel cannot afford to be passive has been taken especially to heart by Shurat HaDin, which has close ties to the Israeli right.

In 2012 its director, Darshan-Leitner, won the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism, an award funded by US casino magnate Irving Moskowitz, who has invested millions of dollars in helping illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

As well as its recent civil actions against the PA and Hamas in the US, Shurat HaDin has also turned directly to the ICC.

Last September its lawyers filed a war crimes suit against Mashal, implicating him in Hamas executions of suspected collaborators with Israel during its attack last year.

Two months later the Israeli group brought a second suit, this time against Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, for attacks allegedly carried out by Fatah loyalists from Gaza.

In January it filed further suits: against the Palestinian prime minister, Rami Hamdallah; Jibril Rajoub, former head of the Palestinian security services; and the PA’s intelligence chief, Majed Faraj.

In an interview in December Darshan-Leitner said Shurat HaDin’s actions at the ICC were intended as a warning to the Palestinian leadership to “tell them they’re playing with fire… The moment they join [the ICC], it’s game over. It will be like sniper fire.”

Civil suits in US

However, the wheels of the ICC are expected to move slowly. Most observers believe that both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships are years away from facing a serious investigation.

Shurat HaDin has therefore forged ahead with simpler and faster civil actions in the US, exploiting the fact that a proportion of Israeli Jews also hold US citizenship and can claim redress in US courts.

There, it has taken advantage of the growing body of US anti-terror laws, especially since 9/11, to target Palestinian officials.

In the case over Ben Gurion airport’s closure for a little more than 24 hours last July, Shurat HaDin has made use of a law that provides for 20-year jail terms and heavy fines for anyone endangering American citizens at an international airport.

The complaint, filed with the Justice Department, claims that 26 US citizens were forced to flee to bomb shelters after a rocket from Gaza landed near the airport. As a result, US federal aviation authorities barred US carriers from taking off at Ben Gurion and several US flights heading to Israel had to be diverted to other countries.

The advantage for Israeli legal groups in turning to US courts is that they can make their case according to the relatively low standards of proof required in civil cases, avoiding the stringent standards at the Hague in international law.

Their lawyers can also rely on the easy sympathies of US juries and judges that have come to equate Arabs and Islam with terror, backed by a media and political culture that highlights suffering by Israeli Jews while downplaying the experiences of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Targeting finances

In the case against the Arab Bank, Judge Brian Cogan of Brooklyn district court ignored the bank’s defence that it had screened customer accounts according to the relevant watch lists, including that of the US Treasury Department.

Only one customer, Ahmed Yassin, had been designated a terrorist, and the bank’s lawyers argued that his account had slipped through because of a spelling error.

Cogan has warned that other banks are in the crosshairs: “We have not finished our work by a long shot.”

In May 2011 Shurat HaDin, working with the Israeli government, foiled an international aid flotilla to Gaza by sending letters to insurance and satellite companies threatening them with lawsuits under US law for offering services to the ships.

Shurat HaDin has also pursued cases in the US against Middle East states that are seen as close allies of Palestinian organisations.

In 2012, a US court awarded a Florida family $332 million in damages after it was alleged Syria and Iran assisted the Palestinian movement Islamic Jihad in organising a suicide attack in Tel Aviv.

Darshan-Leitner has observed that her organisation’s work is related to Netanyahu’s concerns about the battering Israel’s image is taking in the international community. “Really, we’re fighting back against the delegitimization of Israel,” she said.

Here is a selection of the most popular articles published on Global Research this week. Among other stories James Tracy summarizes Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s “inspired and detailed analysis of the extent to which the powerful pharmaceutical cartel has effectively captured the nation’s scientific, regulatory, and law-making processes.” Eric Zuesse examines the project of a ”group of residents in the region of Odessa, one of Ukraine’s largest cities… trying to break away from the Ukrainian government that was formed after the coup in Kiev in February 2014.” Paul Craig Roberts questions Washington’s idea that “450 nuclear ICBMs on ‘hair-trigger alert’” is making us safe. For the complete list of the most popular articles click here.

blacksea

Ukraine: Odessa Region “Breakaway Republic” Project Announced, to Join Donetsk and Luhansk Republics

By Eric Zuesse, April 13 , 2015

America's Preemptive Nuclear Strike Program: US Tests ICBM

Will Washington Kill Us All?

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, April 16 , 2015

big-banksThe Bank of International Settlements: Meet The Secretive Group That Runs The World

By Adam Lebor, April 13 , 2015

US-military-exercise-Vilseck

These Are all the Countries Where the US Has a Military Presence

By Global Research News, April 12 , 2015

Yemen RT Op-Edge

The War on Yemen: Where Oil and Geopolitics Mix

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, April 12 , 2015

Agent In Charge of Amerithrax Investigation Blows the Whistle

The FBI head agent in charge of the anthrax investigation – Richard Lambert – has just filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit calling the entire FBI investigation bulls**t:

In the fall of 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, a series of anthrax mailings occurred which killed five Americans and sickened 17 others. Four anthrax-laden envelopes were recovered which were addressed to two news media outlets in New York City (the New York Post and Tom Brokaw at NBC) and two senators in Washington D.C. (Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle). The anthrax letters addressed to New York were mailed on September 18, 2001, just seven days after the 9/11 attacks. The letters addressed to the senators were mailed 21 days later on October 9, 2001. A fifth mailing of anthrax is believed to have been directed to American Media, Inc. (AMI) in Boca Raton, Florida based upon the death of one AMI employee from anthrax poisoning and heavy spore contamination in the building.

Executive management at FBI Headquarters assigned responsibility for the anthrax investigation (code named “AMERITHRAX”) to the Washington Field Office (WFO), dubbing it the single most important case in the FBI at that time. In October 2002, in the wake of surging media criticism, White House impatience with a seeming lack of investigative progress by WFO, and a concerned Congress that was considering revoking the FBI’s charter to investigate terrorism cases, Defendant FBI Director Mueller reassigned Plaintiff from the FBI’s San Diego Field Office to the Inspection Division at FBI Headquarters and placed Plaintiff in charge of the AMERITHRAX case as an “Inspector.” While leading the investigation for the next four years, Plaintiff’s efforts to advance the case met with intransigence from WFO’s executive management, apathy and error from the FBI Laboratory, politically motivated communication embargos from FBI Headquarters, and yet another preceding and equally erroneous legal opinion from Defendant Kelley – all of which greatly obstructed and impeded the investigation.

On July 6, 2006, Plaintiff provided a whistleblower report of mismanagement to the FBI’s Deputy Director pursuant to Title 5, United States Code, Section 2303. Reports of mismanagement conveyed in writing and orally included: (a) WFO’s persistent understaffing of the AMERITHRAX investigation; (b) the threat of WFO’s Agent in charge to retaliate if Plaintiff disclosed the understaffing to FBI Headquarters; (c) WFO’s insistence on staffing the AMERITHRAX investigation principally with new Agents recently graduated from the FBI Academy resulting in an average investigative tenure of 18 months with 12 of 20 Agents assigned to the case having no prior investigative experience at all; (d) WFO’s eviction of the AMERITHRAX Task Force from the WFO building in downtown Washington and its relegation to Tysons Corner, Virginia to free up space for Attorney General Ashcroft’s new pornography squads; (e) FBI Director’s Mueller’s mandate to Plaintiff to “compartmentalize” the AMERITHRAX investigation by stove piping the flow of case information and walling off task force members from those aspects of the case not specifically assigned to them – a move intended to stem the tide of anonymous media leaks by government officials regarding details of the investigation. [Lambert complained about compartmentalizing and stovepiping of the investigation in a 2006 declaration.  See this, this and this]

This sequestration edict decimated morale and proved unnecessary in light of subsequent civil litigation which established that the media leaks were attributable to the United States Attorney for the District of the District of Columbia and to a Supervisory Special Agent in the FBI’s National Press Office, not to investigators on the AMERITHRAX Task Force; (f) WFO’s diversion and transfer of two Ph.D. Microbiologist Special Agents from their key roles in the investigation to fill billets for an 18 month Arabic language training program in Israel; (g) the FBI Laboratory’s deliberate concealment from the Task Force of its discovery of human DNA on the anthrax-laden envelope addressed to Senator Leahy and the Lab’s initial refusal to perform comparison testing; (h) the FBI Laboratory’s refusal to provide timely and adequate scientific analyses and forensic examinations in support of the investigation; (i) Defendant Kelley’s erroneous and subsequently quashed legal opinion that regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) precluded the Task Force’s collection of evidence in overseas venues; (j) the FBI’s fingering of Bruce Ivins as the anthrax mailer; and, (k) the FBI’s subsequent efforts to railroad the prosecution of Ivins in the face of daunting exculpatory evidence.

Following the announcement of its circumstantial case against Ivins, Defendants DOJ and FBI crafted an elaborate perception management campaign to bolster their assertion of Ivins’ guilt. These efforts included press conferences and highly selective evidentiary presentations which were replete with material omissions. Plaintiff further objected to the FBI’s ordering of Plaintiff not to speak with the staff of the CBS television news magazine 60 Minutes or investigative journalist David Willman, after both requested authorization to interview Plaintiff.

In April 2008, some of Plaintiff’s foregoing whistleblower reports were profiled on the CBS television show 60 Minutes. This 60 Minutes segment was critical of FBI executive management’s handling of the AMERITHRAX investigation, resulting in the agency’s embarrassment and the introduction of legislative bills calling for the establishment of congressional inquiries and special commissions to examine these issues – a level of scrutiny the FBI’s Ivins attribution could not withstand.

After leaving the AMERITHRAX investigation in 2006, Plaintiff continued to publicly opine that the quantum of circumstantial evidence against Bruce Ivins was not adequate to satisfy the proof-beyond-a-reasonable doubt threshold required to secure a criminal conviction in federal court. Plaintiff continued to advocate that while Bruce Ivins may have been the anthrax mailer, there is a wealth of exculpatory evidence to the contrary which the FBI continues to conceal from Congress and the American people.

Exonerating Evidence for Ivins

Agent Lambert won’t publicly disclose the exculpatory evidence against Ivins. As the New York Times reports:

[Lambert] declined to be specific, saying that most of the information was protected by the Privacy Act and was unlikely to become public unless Congress carried out its own inquiry.

But there is already plenty of exculpatory evidence in the public record.

For example:

  • Handwriting analysis failed to link the anthrax letters to known writing samples from Ivins
  • No textile fibers were found in Ivins’ office, residence or vehicles matching fibers found on the scotch tape used to seal the envelopes
  • No pens were found matching the ink used to address the envelopes
  • Samples of his hair failed to match hair follicles found inside the Princeton, N.J., mailbox used to mail the letters
  • No souvenirs of the crime, such as newspaper clippings, were found in his possession as commonly seen in serial murder cases
  • The FBI could not place Ivins at the crime scene with evidence, such as gas station or other receipts, at the time the letters were mailed in September and October 2001
  • Lab records show the number of late nights Ivins put in at the lab first spiked in August 2001, weeks before the 9/11 attacks

As noted above, the FBI didn’t want to test the DNA sample found on the anthrax letter to Senator Leahy.  In addition, McClatchy points out:

After locking in on Ivins in 2007, the bureau stopped searching for a match to a unique genetic bacterial strain scientists had found in the anthrax that was mailed to the Post and to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, although a senior bureau official had characterized it as the hottest clue to date.

Anthrax vaccine expert Meryl Nass. M.D., notes:

The FBI’s alleged motive is bogus. In 2001, Bioport’s anthrax vaccine could not be (legally) relicensed due to potency failures, and its impending demise provided room for Ivins’ newer anthrax vaccines to fill the gap. Ivins had nothing to do with developing Bioport’s vaccine, although in addition to his duties working on newer vaccines, he was charged with assisting Bioport to get through licensure.

***

The FBI report claims the anthrax letters envelopes were sold in Frederick, Md. Later it admits that millions of indistinguishable envelopes were made, with sales in Maryland and Virginia.

***

FBI emphasizes Ivins’ access to a photocopy machine, but fails to mention it was not the machine from which the notes that accompanied the spores were printed.

FBI Fudged the Science

16 government labs had access to the same strain of anthrax as used in the anthrax letters.

The FBI admitted that up to 400 people had access to flask of anthrax in Dr. Ivins’ lab.  In other words, even if the killer anthrax came from there, 399 other people might have done it.

However, the FBI’s claim that the killer anthrax came from Ivins’ flask has fallen apart. Specifically, both the National Academy of Science and the Government Accountability Office – both extremely prestigious, nonpartisan agencies – found that FBI’s methodology and procedures for purportedly linking the anthrax flask maintained by Dr. Ivins with the anthrax letters was sloppy, inconclusive and full of holes.  They found that the alleged link wasn’t very strong … and that there was no firm link.  Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences found that the anthrax mailed to Congressmen and the media could have come from a different source altogether than the flask maintained by Ivins.

After all, the entire Ft. Detrick facility – where Ivins worked – only dealt with liquid anthrax.  But the killer anthrax was a hard-to-make dry powder form of anthrax.  Ft. Detrick doesn’t produce dry anthrax; but other government labs – in Utah (Dugway) and Ohio (Batelle) – do.

The anthrax in the letters was also incredibly finely ground; and the FBI’s explanation doesn’t pass the smell test.

Moreover, the killer anthrax in the letters had a very high-tech  anti-static coating so that the spores “floated off the glass slide and was lost” when scientists tried to examine them.  Specifically, the killer anthrax was coated with polyglass and each anthrax spore given an electrostatic charge, so that they would repel other spores and “float”.   In other words, this was very advanced bio-weapons technology.

Top anthrax experts like Richard Spertzel say that Ivins didn’t do it. Spertzel also says that only 4 or 5 people in the entire country knew how to make anthrax of the “quality” used in the letters, that Spertzel was one of them, and it would have taken him a year with a full lab and a staff of helpers to do it. As such, the FBI’s claim that Ivins did it alone working a few nights is ludicrous.

Moreover, the killer anthrax contained silicon … but the anthrax in Ivins’ flask did not.  The FBI claimed the silicon present in the anthrax letters was absorbed from its surroundings … but Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories completely debunked that theory. In other words, silicon was intentionally added to the killer anthrax to make it more potent. And Ivins and Ft. Detrick didn’t have that capability; but other government labs did.

Similarly, Sandia National Lab found the presence of iron and tin in the killer anthrax … but NOT in Ivins’ flask of anthrax.

Sandia also found that there was a strain of bacteria in one of the anthrax letters not present in Ivins’ flask.

The Anthrax Frame Up

Ivins wasn’t the first person framed for the anthrax attacks …

Although the FBI now admits that the 2001 anthrax attacks were carried out by one or more U.S. government scientists, a senior FBI official says that the FBI was actually told to blame the Anthrax attacks on Al Qaeda by White House officials (remember what the anthrax letters looked like). Government officials also confirm that the white House tried to link the anthrax to Iraq as a justification for regime change in that country. And see this.

People don’t remember now, but the “war on terror” and Iraq war were largely based on the claim that Saddam and Muslim extremists were behind the anthrax attacks (and see this and this)

And the anthrax letters pushed a terrified Congress into approving the Patriot Act without even reading it. Coincidentally, the only Congressmen who received anthrax letters were the ones who were likely to oppose the Patriot Act.

And – between the Al Qaeda/Iraq angle and Ivins – the FBI was convinced that another U.S. government scientist, Steven Hatfill, did it.  The government had to pay Hatfill $4.6 million to settle his lawsuit for being falsely accused.

Ivins’ Convenient Death

It is convenient for the FBI that Ivins died.

The Wall Street Journal points out:

No autopsy was performed [on Ivins], and there was no suicide note.

Indeed, one of Ivins’ colleagues at Ft. Deitrich thinks he was murdered.

Whether murder or suicide, Ivins’ death was very convenient for the FBI, as dead men can’t easily defend themselves.

US President Barack Obama signed into law on Thursday the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, marking a new stage in the bipartisan assault on the government health insurance program for 53 million American seniors and the disabled.

The bill, HR 2, was passed this week by the Senate, following approval by the House last month—in both cases by overwhelming bipartisan majorities.

Obama praised the bill as a “milestone,” after the Senate vote Tuesday. On Thursday, he praised the “bipartisan achievement,” saying that it would “be good for people who use Medicare, it’s going to be good for our seniors.”

In fact, the bill expands means testing for Medicare and establishes a new payment system in which doctors will be rewarded for cutting costs while being punished for the volume and frequency of the health care services they provide.

The press has depicted the bill as a miracle of bipartisanship, demonstrating that Democrats and Republicans can work together to end Washington “gridlock” in the interest of the public good. The reality is that the bill is ultimately aimed at gutting health care services for the millions of seniors who rely upon it.

News reports have focused on the “doc fix” contained in the legislation, which establishes a new payment schedule for doctors in place of a formula that since 1997 has tied doctor payments to economic growth, the sustainable growth rate, or SGR. The bill’s passage averts a 21 percent payment cut that would have gone into effect April 1, and provides modest increases in doctor payments through 2019.

Beginning in 2019, however, doctors will qualify for bigger reimbursements if they participate in one of two programs in which they will be paid, according to Obama, based on a “payment model that rewards quality of care instead of quantity of care.” Reference to “quality of care” is a political fraud. Doctors will have a financial incentive to withhold more expensive tests and services, and will be rewarded for rationing care and cutting costs.

The bipartisan backing for the Medicare bill is based on common agreement on one basic issue: Medicare spending must be slashed and a radical shift needs to be instituted in the program—away from the “lavish” fee-for-service system, while transforming Medicare into a poverty program in which the vast majority of beneficiaries receive barebones coverage.

An examination of the bill’s backers provides insight into its reactionary nature. Its chief House sponsor was Representative Michael Burgess, a right-wing Tea Party politician from Texas. Republican House speaker John Boehner, who crafted the bill alongside Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi, described HR 2 as “The first real entitlement reform we’ve seen in nearly two decades”—a reference to Welfare “reform” passed in 1996 under the Clinton administration.

Representative Paul Ryan (Republican of Wisconsin), a presidential hopeful who has called for privatizing Medicare by replacing it with a voucher system, wrote in an op-ed piece calling for passage of the bill, “Medicare is going broke… that’s why we need these structural reforms.”

And in an article in the right-wing National Review headlined “A Medicare Bill Conservatives Need to Embrace,” Ryan Ellis wrote,

“We can very reasonably anticipate a future where my daughter—who will turn 65 in November of 2078—will be a then-typical senior who pays for most of her own Medicare benefit. That will be largely thanks to HR 2…”

The current Medicare “reform” is in line with Obama’s signature domestic initiative, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA’s “individual mandate,” individuals and families without health coverage from their employer or a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid are required to purchase coverage from private insurance companies. There is minimal oversight on what these insurers can charge their captive pool of customers, and many policies carry deductibles and out-of-pocket costs upwards of $5,000 annually.

Obamacare was presented as legislation that would provide near-universal, high-quality health care to millions of Americans. Since its passage into law in 2010, the ACA has been exposed as a boondoggle for the health care industry that has forced millions of people to sign up for overpriced, substandard coverage. Those who remain uninsured have been slapped with tax penalties, while others who did sign up have faced rising premiums and collection calls from the government to pay up.

The New York Times, a fervent supporter of the legislation popularly known as Obamacare, has also campaigned relentlessly for reining in spending on “unnecessary” tests and procedures, particularly for Medicare recipients. Services targeted by the Times include mammograms and breast exams, heart stents, cholesterol drugs and prostate screenings, to name just a few.

Stated simply, the Obama administration and its “liberal” supporters, along with the overwhelming majority of the politicians in the two big-business parties, feel that drastic measures are required to counteract what they perceive as an unpleasant reality: seniors are living too long into retirement and sucking up health care resources.

To reverse this trend, measures being instituted through Obamacare and the new Medicare bill will result in reduced medical care, needless suffering and untimely deaths.

The new Medicare bill has been largely hatched as a conspiracy behind the backs of the American people. There were no Congressional hearings or public debate on the sweeping measures contained in the legislation.

The White House and politicians in Congress are well aware that Medicare and Social Security, the government retirement program, are widely popular and that moves to attack or privatize them will be met with suspicion and opposition. Hence their duplicity in pushing through their “reforms.”

The gutting of Medicare is part of an assault on health care that affects the working class and considerable sections of middle-income families. Obamacare is also having the effect of dismantling employer-provided health care for active workers and retirees, the system that for seven decades has traditionally provided health coverage for most US workers.

The drive to slash Medicare spending and ultimately dismantle it is part of a broader strategy of the ruling elite, which seeks to boost its wealth and profits by clawing back the living standards and gains won by the working class in decades of struggle. These include not only Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, but public education, the right to decent and affordable housing, and the right to culture.

A solution to the health care crisis cannot be left in the hands of the ruling elite and its political representatives. Medical care must be taken out of the hands of the for-profit health care industry and placed on socialist foundations, guaranteeing free, high-quality health care for all through the establishment of a democratically run, publicly owned socialized health care system.

A catchy title this “$5,000 Silver?” don’t you think?  Am I crazy?  Is this even possible?  In who’s lifetime? Ours or our great, great grandchildren long after we are dead and buried?  The best way to look at this I believe is to briefly look at silver’s big brother gold and then postulate whether it’s possible or not.

To begin, let’s look at what happened in 1980 and why gold traded up to $875 in the first place.  As Jim Sinclair has said many times, gold “moved in a manner to cover the value of foreign held debt of the U.S.”.  He has also said “$50,000 gold is possible and it may turn out that this figure is far too low”.  Before you laugh and start firing spitballs at me or Mr. Sinclair, I remind you of his call of “gold at $1,650 per ounce by Jan. 2011″.  He said this when gold was $350 per ounce or so and the year was around 2004 if memory serves me correctly.  He was called a nutjob and far worse …he was correct in retrospect and off in his timing by about eight months …SEVEN YEARS AHEAD OF TIME!

To refresh your memory, let’s do some basic mathematics.  The U.S. purportedly has 262 million ounces of gold.  (As a side note, if you understand how much gold China has imported just over the last six years and compare that to global production, then you understand the U.S. has in all likelihood “dishoarded” much of this gold).  We can compare this 262 million ounces to our national debt rounded off at $18 trillion.  Doing the math, if we had to back our debt with the gold we supposedly have, the number currently comes up to $68,700 per ounce!

Before you call me nuts, I have one question for you.  Were foreigners to decide that “dollars” for any (many!) reason was no longer acceptable, what would we “pay” with?  Remember, since the dollar is the reserve currency, the U.S. holds almost NOTHING in foreign reserves.  Why should we have to hold foreign reserves, we issue THE reserve currency?!  And yes, I understand the debt is “contracted” in dollars so all we have to do is print more to make the payment.  All I am saying is this, if the U.S. was forced somehow to actually settle the debt …in gold, our gold would need to be valued at $68,700 per ounce “now”.  I say “now” because our debt burden will only grow larger, our gold holdings (IF they truly still exist) will not grow or “breed” making our stash larger with new little goldlings.  My point is this, $68,700 is a credible number only assuming we do have the gold we claim to have.

Now let’s look at silver. Silver is taken out of the ground at roughly a 10-1 ratio to gold production. This number includes “by-product” silver.  The current price ratio is 70-1 or thereabouts, nonsensical when you factor in the price to produce silver is higher than the market price.  This situation argues for severe supply cutbacks in the future unless the price goes higher to allow for a mining profit.  Silver is also a very miniscule market when looked at from a dollar standpoint.  There are roughly 800 million ounces produced globally which in dollar terms is less than $15 billion.  In today’s world, $15 billion is nothing!  Individual companies are bought and sold for more every day.

Another aspect to silver is the “low hanging fruit” has already been found and mined. Many companies have high graded production just to stay in business.  New silver deposit exploration has found very little over the last 5-10 years, current new exploration today is almost non existent because the funds from operations have turned into losses. The capital to look for new silver deposits simply does not exist.

New “uses” for silver, be they electrical, industrial, solar, medical or other seem to be popping up regularly.  Demand will increase over time.  And speaking of time, it is estimated that silver may become the next “extinct element” in about 20 years.  Does this mean there will be no silver left on the planet?  No, new silver will be found and dug up but probably not enough to satisfy the fledging demand of 100′s of years ago unless new mining technology becomes available.

What comes our way is a once in hundred’s of years currency event.  Never before has the world not had a single currency backed by silver or gold.  There is no place to hide from the currency derivatives/debt/currency meltdown except in the actual metals themselves, “receipts” will not do this time!

To finish, I would like to paraphrase something from the Bible.  In Matthew 25, verses 14-30, the “Parable of talents” is written.  It speaks of a master going on a trip and leaving three of his servants bags of gold to care for while he is away.  To one he gave 10, another he gave two and the third servant just one bag.  He did so based upon his judgment of their abilities to handle money.  When the master returned, the servant who was given 10 bags, returned 20 and the servant given two bags returned four.  The last servant, who dug a hole in the ground and buried his bag of gold, dug it up and returned it intact.  The last servant was scorned and called lazy for doing nothing with his “talent”.  Please understand in those days, “talent” was considered weight or coinage but can be looked at today as one’s talent or ability, it should not be wasted.

In my opinion, because the “moneychangers” have so rigged and fraudulently ruined the global monetary system, now is not the time to “earn interest”. Now is not the time to try to “make money”. The system is on the verge of a mathematically certain collapse where institutions and governments themselves stand to perish.  Believe this or not, mathematics don’t lie.  Now is the time for you to be the third servant and bury you bag of whatever you have accumulated.  Get it out of the system and thus out of the way of the financial carnage coming.  You will have something to “start over” with and give you a head start.  As Richard Russell has said, right now is NOT about making money, it is all about not losing everything.

Will silver go to $5,000 per ounce?  Who knows, we may have a completely different currency in short order and nothing will be quoted in “dollars” anymore.  All I can tell you is that when gold and silver are remonetized back into the system, their purchasing powers will be at least equal to if not many times higher than these depressed levels.  In “dollar terms” they may approach infinity!

Israel commemorates Yom HaShoah/Holocaust Remembrance Day annually. Vad Vashem is its official holocaust memorial.

Netanyahu exploited the occasion this year like earlier. He denigrated the memory of millions of Jewish and non-Jewish WW II victims.

He ignored decades of Israeli inflicted genocidal slaughter on defenseless Palestinians. He finds news ways to reveal his hate-mongering/racist/serial lying viciousness.

His serial lying wore thin long ago. “(N)othing is being done” about Iran,” he blustered.

“Appeasing tyrannical regimes will only increase their aggression and is an approach that is liable to drag the world into larger wars.”

Fact: Iran is one of the world’s leading peace and stability proponents.

Fact: It threatens no other nation. It hasn’t attacked another one for centuries.

Fact: Israel wages endless war on defenseless Palestinian men, women and children.

Fact: It murders them in cold blood. It enforces apartheid ruthlessness worse than South Africa’s.

Fact: Partnered with America, it threatens world peace.

Fact: It’s contemptuous of rule of law principles. It mocks democratic values. It’s increasingly despised worldwide.

“Iranian leaders are exporters of death and destruction,” Netanyahu ranted.

“The world is not listening to the calls in Iran urging death to Israel, death to America.”

“The main lesson of the Second World War, for democracies, is that they cannot turn a blind eye to tyrannical regimes.”

Israel is the region’s main threat. It remains unaccountable for decades of high crimes against peace.

It’s a democracy in name only. Jews alone have rights. Arab citizens are considered fifth column threats.

Netanyahu threatens Jews and non-Jews alike. State terror is official Israeli policy – more than ever under his fascist rule.

He and likeminded lunatics run things. Palestinians are ruthlessly persecuted. Netanyahu invents nonexistent enemies.

He wants Iran eliminated as a regional political and economic rival. He knows its leadership poses no threat to Israel or any other nations.

This years Remembrance Day theme is: The Anguish of Liberation and the Return to Life: Seventy Years Since the End of WW II.

Never again didn’t stop wars. They rage today. US-dominated NATO and Israel bear full responsibility.

This out-of-control monster may destroy life on earth. Their thermonuclear arsenals and long-range delivery capability can strike targets virtually anywhere with pinpoint accuracy – by judgmental error or intent.

Propaganda wars precede hot ones. Netanyahu’s maniacal anti-Iranian rants threaten regional peace.

World leaders are “comatose (and) delusional” in the face of today’s Nazis, he bellowed.

“Appeasement towards these regimes increases their aggressiveness. If (it isn’t) curbed in time, humanity may find itself in far greater wars in the future.”

“(A)head of WW II, the world attempted to appease the Nazis.”

Netanyahu outrageously claimed Iran intends to wreak regional havoc the way Nazis destroyed Europe.

It’s hard imagining why anyone takes him seriously. Why Israelis put up with him they’ll have to explain.

It bears repeating. Iran is one of the world’s leading proponents of peace and stability.

It hasn’t attacked another country in centuries. It threatens none now. The whole world knows its nuclear program is peaceful.

America and Israel threaten world peace and stability. Their imperial ambitions may kill us all.

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. 

As the political situation in Ukraine destabilizes, the suspicious killings of prominent opposition supporters continue to transpire.

A prominent Ukrainian journalist, known for his critical views of Poroshenko’s government was shot dead in Kiev on Thursday, in the latest series of suspicious deaths of opposition supporters.

Oles Buzina, 45, a supporter of ex-president Viktor Yanukovych, was shot in the street. Buzina’s body was found on the ground nearing his apartment building close to the city center. The head of Kiev’s police department Alexander Tereschuk said that a TT gun was allegedly used in the crime.

According to the neighbors, the journalist was probably shot while jogging. He was found wearing a sports outfit. The 45- year-old was shot by two men in masks who disappeared from the crime scene in a Ford Focus car with either Latvian or Belarusian number plate.

Buzina was a columnist and editor of the daily newspaper Segodnya financed by Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man and a leading sponsor of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. He was an opposition journalist, writer and TV host, well-known for his criticism of Poroshenko’s goverment.

Earlier in Kiev, the murderers of Donetsk journalist Sergei Sukhobok were arrested on Thursday. The journalist was killed on the 13th April. He was one of the founders of the online media “Obkom” and “ProUA,” also known for his opposition to the current Ukrainian leadership.

Sukhobok was also the author of several hundred articles on socio-political, social, legal and economic issues. His works were published in many publications, particularly in the “Ukrainian Truth”. For a few months in 2014, he worked in Donetsk.

Following this wave of brutal killings, Russia’s MFA spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that this is, unfortunately, only the beginning of political purges in Ukraine.

“It is scary because none of the leaders in the EU will take notice that, day after day politicians are being killed in Ukraine. Let’s try and find at least 20 tweets of foreign ministers of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, the UK, Canada, USA, and Australia, representatives of the OSCE, EU and NATO expressing concern over the killing of Ukrainian politician and condemning the situation in Ukraine.”

Just the evening before, Oleh Kalashnikov, a former Ukrainian MP and a vocal critic of the country’s ruling government was murdered on Wednesday in Kiev. The 52-year-old was shot dead at his residence in Kiev on Wednesday evening.

“West should pay attention to the political killings in Ukraine instead of the rhetoric of sanctions against Russia,” said Konstantin Kosachev, the Head of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mykola Azarov, said he blamed Kiev authorities for the murder of Oleh Kalashnikov.

“Terrible and bitter news came yesterday. Kiev regime has committed yet another shameful crime. Killed a prominent opposition politician Oleh Kalashnikov,” Azarov wrote on his Facebook page, noting that the victim was” a true patriot of Ukraine “honest and a decent man.”

The former Ukrainian Prime Minister appealed to the leaders of the Western countries, “because of your support in Ukraine there are political murders, terror taking place against political opponents, and all the people. What else should these Nazis do, for you to finally understand and be aware of your responsibility for what is happening now in Ukraine?” said Azarov.

Earlier three former lawmakers close to the ousted leader Viktor Yanukovych were found dead in Ukraine in February and March.

First year of the military operation in south-eastern Ukraine
First year of the military operation in south-eastern Ukraine

The executive order issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which lifts the ban on the export of weapons systems to Iran, has been met with sharp condemnation by Israel, and admonishment from the United States. While Moscow has yet to make a final decision on if/when it will begin supplying the S-300 air defense missiles to Iran – Tehran purchased the system under a 2007 contract left unfulfilled by Russia as a result of the UN-imposed arms embargo – it is clear that the possibility alone signals a significant shift in the geopolitics of the region.

On the one hand, Iranian air defenses would be significantly upgraded with an advanced weapons system such as S-300 which, though not exactly new, is still very much capable of defending the country’s airspace from any potential attack, be it Israeli or US. On the other hand, the possible delivery of the S-300s is a symbolic step towards integrating Iran into a broader non-NATO security architecture taking shape under the leadership of Russia and China.

While BRICS has come to be the watchword of multi-polarity, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has emerged as a military-security-intelligence alliance, on top of being an economic and political forum for Sino-Russian relations. The possibility of Iran joining this alliance both through participation in SCO summits, and in practice through military and non-military contracts as well as other forms of cooperation, signals a watershed both for Iran, and the non-western world. Where, just a few years ago, the US and its allies could dictate the terms of relations between Iran and other states, today it simply cannot, nuclear deal or no nuclear deal. The S-300s are only the tip of the iceberg.

What This Means for Iran and the Region

First and foremost, Iran is going to have the opportunity to exist, at least to some extent, on an equal footing on the international stage. Though it is still unclear the specifics of the finalized agreement, including the odious sanctions regime and the extent to which it will actually be lifted, what is certain is that Iran will have much more leeway to pursue economic cooperation with potential partners internationally.

Naturally, various propagandists from Washington to Tel Aviv have taken the opportunity to use Russia’s move to lift the ban as a signal of the “disastrous” policy of “appeasement” by the Obama administration. Commenting on Russia’s decision, Israeli intelligence and international relations minister Yuval Steinitz said that it was:

A direct result of the legitimacy that Iran is receiving from the nuclear deal that is being prepared, and proof that the Iranian economic growth which follows the lifting of sanctions will be exploited for arming itself and not for the welfare of the Iranian people… Instead of demanding that Iran desist from the terrorist activity that it is carrying out in the Middle East and throughout the world, it is being allowed to arm itself with advanced weapons that will only increase its aggression.

Such comments are perhaps far more revealing than Mr. Steinitz might realize. The overt admission in his statement is that Israel sees Iranian economic growth as the true threat to Israel (read Israeli hegemony). In direct contradiction to the droning propaganda about Iran wanting to “wipe Israel from the map,” Steinitz here quite correctly, though perhaps inadvertently, admits that Iran’s economic potential is what makes it a regional threat. While he includes the obligatory references to Iranian “terrorist activity” and “aggression,” Steinitz provides a window into the thinking of Israeli strategic planners who see in Iran a potential economic powerhouse that would lure western and non-western investment alike, not the least of which coming from western energy companies.

As Bloomberg noted in late March on the eve of the framework agreement, “[Iran] is emerging again as a potential prize for Western oil companies such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Eni SpA and Total SA. The Chinese can also be expected to enter the race, while U.S. companies, more burdened by sanctions and legacy, will be further down the pack...‘Iran is the big prize…The resource size is very attractive.’” Seen from this perspective, both the US and Israel stand to be major losers from the nuclear deal as Iran is allowed to pursue critical investment from international partners.

But the issue is not merely about investment, for if it were, Israel and the US would likely be able to control the debate. Instead, Russia’s potential delivery of the S-300s changes the strategic calculus for Washington and Tel Aviv, as their principal leverage – the threat of the use of force ranging from limited air strikes to all out war – will be considerably weakened, if not totally nullified. For, while Steinitz and others may talk of “advanced weapons that will only increase [Iran’s] aggression,” they know perfectly well that S-300s are defensive weapons whose function is to protect the integrity of a given country’s airspace from either missiles or aircraft. In this way, Israel and the US are far more concerned about losing their strategic advantage than they are of any aggressive posture from Iran.

There is still more for the US and Israel to be concerned about, namely what Iran might be able to do with increased military and technological cooperation with Russia. It could provide Iran the opportunity to up their material and technical support for Syria and Hezbollah in the continued fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda throughout the region. This of course would be disastrous to the regime change agenda of the US-NATO-GCC-Israel in Syria which, despite more than four years of an internationally orchestrated and supported terrorist war, shows no signs of capitulating. Taken in total, the S-300s would both symbolically and concretely alter the balance of power in the region.

The Geopolitical Significance

One should be careful not to understate the importance of this move by Russia. Aside from the obvious strategic importance such a defensive weapons system holds for a besieged country like Iran, there is the symbolic importance internationally. From all indications Russia and Iran are moving considerably closer, as evidenced by the recent military cooperation agreement signed by the defense ministers of the two countries.

Russia and Iran have a number of issues of mutual interest, from questions regarding the conflict in Syria, to Caspian region resources and security, to energy exports and world markets. Such complex international issues require not only close cooperation, but a mutually beneficial understanding in a variety of spheres; that is precisely what worries the US and Israel above all. But, unfortunately for Washington and Tel Aviv, the integration of Iran into a non-western, multi-polar order goes far deeper.

The emerging potential for Iran’s entry to the Russia-China led SCO would fundamentally alter the balance of power in Asia, especially in light of the growing consensus that both Pakistan and India will also join the SCO. Such a development would see a new power bloc in Asia, one that includes the economic and military power of China and Russia, with the emerging economy of India and, to a lesser degree, Pakistan: both military powers in their own right.

It is self-evident the degree to which such an alliance represents a threat, let alone a counterweight, to the decades-long hegemony of NATO and its proxies. Coupled with the emergence of the economic institutions associated with the BRICS – the BRICS Development Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) – which could provide a much needed alternative to the US-EU dominated IMF and World Bank, the contours of a new economic and military order become more apparent.

While of course all of these important developments are far beyond the simple lifting of the ban on S-300s to Iran, they are connected. For, as Iran becomes a viable military and trading partner for Russia, it becomes more integrated into the global political and economic system. Today, it may simply be a defensive missile system, but the potential tomorrow is boundless. Planners in Moscow and Tehran understand this, as do those in Tel Aviv and Washington. For this reason, S-300s are far more than missiles: they are the symbol of a multi-polar future.

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, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

A new study by the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) reports that the number of people globally living on less than $1.25 per day is likely to be far higher than the already staggering 1.2 billion estimated by the World Bank.

“There could be as many as a quarter more people living on less than $1.25 a day than current estimates suggest, because they have been missed out of surveys,” the report notes, suggesting that the total number of people living in extreme poverty could be undercounted by as much as 350 million.

If, as the report claims, global poverty figures are “understated by as much as a quarter,” then more than 2.5 billion people, or over a third of the world’s population, survive on less than $2 per day.

The most deprived layers of society—people who are homeless, or are living in dangerous situations that researchers cannot access—are left uncounted by household surveys, which by design are incapable of covering them.

Elizabeth Stuart, lead author of the report, told the World Socialist Web Site that “the poor quality of the data on poverty, child and maternal mortality” are some of the report’s most significant findings.

If one were to define poverty as living on less than $5 per day, over four billion people, that is, two-thirds of the human population, qualify as impoverished, according to World Bank estimates.

Meanwhile the world’s multimillionaires and billionaires, their stock portfolios soaring, are splurging on supercars, yachts and luxury apartments in record numbers. While the monetary policies pursued by the world’s central banks inject unimaginable amounts of wealth into the coffers of a parasitic financial aristocracy, the bulk of humanity struggles to survive amid poverty, austerity and war.

In March, Forbes reported that the combined net worth of the world’s billionaires hit a new high in 2015 of $7.05 trillion. Since 2000, the total wealth of the world’s billionaires has increased eight-fold. The magazine reported, “Despite plunging oil prices and a weakened euro, the ranks of the world’s wealthiest defied global economic turmoil and expanded once again.”

The amount of wealth controlled by the top 1 percent of the population will exceed that owned by the bottom 99 percent by next year, according to the Oxfam charity.

This week, the International Monetary Fund released its semiannual World Economic Outlook, where it warned that there would be no return to the rates of economic growth that prevailed before the 2008 financial crash for an indefinite period.

The IMF’s report further notes that despite record profits and huge amounts of cash being hoarded by major corporations internationally, private investment has plummeted in the six years since the official end of the post-financial-crisis recession. The report documents the single-minded focus of governments, central banks and policy makers in general on the further enrichment of the global financial elite at the expense of the world’s productive forces and the vast bulk of humanity.

The sheer levels of inequality across the globe, expressed in dilapidated infrastructure, the assault on the living standards of workers and youth, and the erosion of democratic rights, themselves inhibit serious studies of poverty, as demonstrated by the ODI’s report.

The ODI study notes that more than 100 countries do not have functioning systems to register births or deaths, making accurate counts of child mortality and maternal mortality impossible. Twenty-six countries have not collected data on child mortality since 2009. According to current estimates, anywhere from 220,000 to 400,000 women died during childbirth in 2014. Fewer than one in five births occur in countries with complete civil registration systems.

Many surveys are outdated, forcing researchers to either extrapolate from old data, or make assumptions about the relations between other data sets. The most up-to-date estimate of people living in extreme poverty was published almost four years ago. Only 28 of 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had a household income survey between 2006 and 2013. Botswana’s poverty estimates are based on a household survey from 1993.

Estimations of poverty are further complicated by disagreements over the poverty threshold. Some nongovernmental organizations have set their own national poverty lines. For instance, in Thailand, the official national poverty line is $1.75 per day and the poverty rate is 1.81 percent. However, urban community groups have assessed the poverty line to be $4.74 per day, bumping the country’s poverty rate to nearly half the population at 41.64 percent.

Wars and other violent conflicts have a devastating effect on research of any kind, halting studies, ruining infrastructure, and destroying records. The vast sums of money spent on war dwarf those needed to significantly reduce social misery. The United States alone spent $496 billion on defense last year, while, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture organization, “the world only needs 30 billion dollars a year to eradicate the scourge of hunger.”

These staggering levels of poverty, inequality and military violence stand as a damning indictment of the capitalist system, the sole aim of which is to enrich the financial oligarchy that dominates society at the expense of the great majority of humanity.

A classic example of the private sector “countering propaganda.”

The New York Times headline (4/15/15) paints a dire picture:

Turmoil at Voice of America Is Seen as Hurting US Ability to Counter Propaganda

But wait a second–isn’t Voice of America itself a propaganda outlet? Not in theNew York Times stylebook, apparently. The piece, by Ron Nixon, describes VOA as “the government agency that is charged with presenting America’s viewpoint to the world.” Later on, the Times refers to what it calls “America’s public diplomacy.”

The US’s enemies, on the other hand, have “sophisticated propaganda machines that have expanded the influence of countries like China and Russia and terrorist groups like the Islamic State.” The difference between “propaganda machines” and “public diplomacy” is never explained in the article, but the former appears to be what “they” do while the latter is what “we” do.

The only source quoted in the article who’s not directly connected to the government is Glen Howard, president of the Jamestown Foundation, described as “a Washington think tank.” (“We are getting our butts kicked…. Countries like Russia are running circles around us,” Howard says.) Not mentioned is the fact that Jamestown was founded with the help of then-CIA Director William Casey to provide financial support for the Agency’s spies (Washington Post1/10/05).

The article reports that since the Cold War, which it helped win by “providing unfiltered news to dissidents and countering communist propaganda in the Soviet Union and Soviet-backed countries,” VOA has been “pulled between providing credible news and supporting American policy.” Congressional Republicans want to

revise the Voice of America’s charter to state explicitly that the agency has a role in supporting American “public diplomacy” and countering propaganda from other countries.

In other words, they’re insisting that VOA make its news more propagandistic. And the New York Times refers consistently to this goal throughout the article as “countering propaganda.”

When you have arguably the US’s most prestigious for-profit media outlet describing government propaganda as “efforts to counter propaganda,” it’s pretty clear that the nation’s demand for propaganda is going to be met–whether by the public or the private sector.

Syria: Media Attacks Assad as Terrorists Attack Civilians

April 17th, 2015 by Brandon Turbeville

As the Syrian Easter celebration began to draw to a close, residents of Aleppo were met with rocket attacks that were apparently aimed at killing civilians. The attacks, which took place in government-held territory, were the result of Nusra/ISIS terrorists funded by the West to overthrow the secular government of Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian news reporters were on the ground shortly after the attacks so as to catch footage of victims being excavated from the rubble and others being treated for their wounds at the hospital.

Sources inside Syria have described the missiles that hit the Aleppo building as being much more advanced than those previously used by the terrorists, describing the result of their impact causing the building to “split in half.” This has led many to believe that the terrorists operating in Aleppo have been provided with weaponry that is much more sophisticated and powerful than that which they have been provided in the past.

Indeed, when one views the footage posted on Syrian media of the destroyed building, the description suggesting that the building was “split in half” is quite accurate. From the footage, what appears to be an apartment building has been cut in half from top to bottom with both sides still standing.

Many residents interviewed by Syrian media claimed that the death squad terrorists were targeting them for supporting the government or, at the very least, not supporting the jihadists.

The area in which the missile struck had been under terrorist bombardment leading up to the incident and resulted in the deaths of a number of people, estimated from 17 to upwards of 40 people.

While the intentional targeting of civilians on behalf of the Western-backed terrorists was virtually unreported in the Western media, another incident has received somewhat more press.

On Sunday, a school was destroyed in Aleppo, allegedly killing 5 children and four adults,according to reports by Reuters. The Saad Al-Ansari school was located in Al-Mashad neighborhood, a terrorist-controlled area.

Of course, the Western press has immediately jumped to the conclusion that the bombing was conducted by the Assad government. However, it should be pointed out that the sole source for the report suggesting even that the school was bombed is the discredited pro-death squad organizationcalled the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights (SOHR), which is essentially one man scouring the Internet and living in the UK. The SOHR Director and Founder, Rami Abdelrahman has launched propaganda attacks alongside NATO governments and against the Syrian government since the beginning of the crisis and is admittedly bankrolled by an unnamed European country. For that reason alone, it is enough to wonder whether or not the claims regarding the bombing of the school are entirely accurate.

In addition, it must be pointed out that schools in Syria have been closed for some time as a result of the Easter holiday and that Sunday would have seen no children in attendance to begin with. So even if the Assad government had bombed the building, the intention of slaughtering children as the Western press has attempted to report it was clearly not present.

Corporate media would have Americans believe that the SAA deliberately targeted children for whatever reason, despite the fact that such an act would be extremely counterproductive to their cause both in terms of domestic and international public relations.

Although the SOHR circulated a video which, it claims, is proof of the attack (the video allegedly shows the aftermath of the bombing with a man holding the severed leg of a child and rescue workers carrying away a body covered in a sheet), it should be remembered that atrocities committed in Syria have long been blamed on Assad only to later be revealed that the war crimes had been committed by the death squad terrorists. From chemical weapons attacks to the infamous Houla massacre, there has been a concerted effort to portray Assad not only as the enemy but as a ruthless butcher of civilians. However, 5 years on, there has yet to be a shred of credible evidence to suggest that the SAA or the Assad government has intentionally targeted civilians.

With all of this in mind, the propaganda regarding the alleged school bombing by the SAA is most likely yet another attempt to gin up support for NATO action against the Syrian government in much the same way it was used when the Western press attempted to exploit an unintentional (at worst) bombing of a school building in May, 2014.

For this reason, we must remember the fabricated stories repeated ad nauseum regarding Assad’s alleged atrocities only to later find that it was the Western-backed death squads who were responsible.

In the end, we must observe these events from a logical standpoint and always take whatever comes from NATO media outlets with a large grain of salt. More importantly, we must always remember that it is the United States, Israel, NATO, and the GCC who are ultimately responsiblefor the tragedy of the Syrian crisis. It is the leadership of these countries and the deep state pockets within their governmental, corporate, and banking structure that must be held responsible.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

Law upheld by Israel’s high court allows for stiff sanctions against those calling for boycotts in support of Palestinian rights. (Anne Paq / ActiveStills)

Israel’s high court on Thursday upheld a 2011 law imposing stiff sanctions on those advocating boycotts of Israel or its colonial settlements in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights.

The so-called Law for the Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycottallows entities to sue and win compensation from individuals or organizations that call for economic, cultural or academic boycott. It also allows the finance ministry to financially penalize any organization that receives state funding that participates in such calls.

The court threw out only one minor provision of the law, which would have allowed anyone to sue for boycott-related damages without showing proof they were harmed.

Sawsan Zaher, an attorney for Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said the law “harms Palestinians more than others because they are on the frontlines of struggling against the occupation and the violation of the human rights of their people under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.”

In a press release from Adalah, Zaher added that the law would also hit Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem hard, as it would prevent them from using the “main civil protest tool of boycott to end the occupation.”

Racist and anti-democratic

Adalah is one of eight civil society organizations that had petitioned against the law, along with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, HaMoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual and Yesh Din.

Three petitioners are organizations that have actively promoted economic boycott as a means of pressure to end the occupation: the Coalition of Women for Peace, the Higher Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel and the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center.

“The anti-boycott bill is one of a host of racist and anti-democratic legislation aimed at silencing opposition and curtailing the rights of the Palestinian minority,” the Coalition of Women for Peace said in a statement condemning the court’s decision.

It affirmed that “boycott is a worldwide recognized and legitimate nonviolent tool in struggles for social and political change.” By allowing it to be outlawed, the court had “failed to protect the right of citizens to voice criticism of government policies.”

“We will not be deterred from exposing and bringing to public discussion the economic interests driving the occupation,” the Coalition of Women for Peace said. “We will continue resisting the occupation using all legitimate, nonviolent means.”

The Coalition of Women for Peace initiated Who Profits, a project that researches and publishes information about corporations and other interests that profit from occupation.

In their challenge, the petitioners pointed out that the law was discriminatory, as it did not outlaw boycotts for purposes other than supporting Palestinian rights.

Israelis have successfully used consumer boycotts for a host of causes, for example in order to fight for lower cottage cheese prices.

Worse to come

The Coalition of Women for Peace warned that the decision foreshadows worse to come.

“With the absence of legal checks on political persecution in Israel, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s shocking comments on election day conveying racism and intolerance of dissent will without a doubt be written into law in the coming Knesset [parliament],” the group said.

The high court had effectively given “a green light to anti-democratic legislation such as the Nationality bill that seeks to anchor Israel’s Jewishness in legislation,” to a law “instituting a death penalty for Palestinians accused of terrorism” and to a ban on leftist organizations receiving donations.

Such bills are “already a negotiating chip” in the ongoing process of forming a coalition government since Israel’s election last month.

The Coalition of Women for Peace urged the “international community” to condemn the attack on “freedom of expression,” affirm that banning boycotts is “anti-democratic” and condemn Israel’s “impunity as a so-called democracy despite its apparent disrespect of fundamental civil and human rights.”

VIDEO: The Maidan Massacre

April 17th, 2015 by Global Research News

We bring to the attention of our readers a documentary film by John Beck-Hofmann, which recounts the chronology of events of the Kiev Maidan which led to a Coup d’etat and the demise of the democratically elected government of president Yanukovitch.

Maidan Massacre is an investigative documentary into the shootings which occurred on February 20th, 2014, when nearly 50 people were gunned down on the streets of Kiev’s Independence square. The massacre was the result of a massive three month long protest against the former Government of Viktor Yanukovich and his decision to reject a trade deal with the EU. Although no thorough investigation had been conducted, the blame was immediately placed on the officers who served under Yanukovich. This program investigates the scene of the crime, interviewing those who were there when the shootings occurred, and seeks to answer the questions as to who really was shooting that day on Kiev’s Independence square – a place known to the people of Ukraine, as Maidan. - Written by John Beck Hofmann

John Beck-Hoffman acknowledges that his film was censored, without going into details. It was initially 90 minutes, important sections pertaining to US sponsorship of the Coup d’Etat were removed. In the words of John Beck Hoffman, in response to comments on his youtube channel;

Comment: On the basis of examining the issues of the Maidan snipers a decent documentary. However, more background to the events that led these “protests” would have been welcomed e.g. Oleg Tsarev’s claims of US NGOs funding regime change in Ukraine. The events in the attempted Macedonian coup shows that the US still up to its tricks.

Beck-Hoffman: “all that was in my original cut of the film which was closer to 90 mins. I went into great detail of USAID, NED, Nuland/Pyatt, corporate interests and the history of how this has happened many times before – I unfortunately had to cut it out for reasons I can’t go into, but I will eventually release the full “directors cut” of the program.”

Beck-Hoffman: [in response to another comment] A Russian language version was released first, as well on youtube. I had also originally made a longer version of the film which went into detail as to “who would benefit” from such an atrocity. It unveiled a lot of what was going on behind the scenes, but that segment ended up being cut from the final film. I would like to release that someday but I have no idea if and when that would be possible. If I do, I will put it on my youtube channel. But please, pass along this film to whomever you think would enjoy it. It needs to get more exposure as so many people have no idea what really happened over there. thanks you again. JBH

 

Copyright John Beck Hoffman, 2015

Credit: Shutterstock

The newest line of criticism for the banking industry is coming from within, as a group of rank-and-file banking employees prepare to demand that their employer stop ordering them to use predatory sales tactics and start treating them as a valued piece of the workforce.

A group of tellers, loan officers, and customer service representatives from the country’s largest commercial banks will rally Monday outside office towers in Minneapolis to call attention to their own low pay and to consumer-harming sales policies they say are imposed on them by management. As part of the demonstrations, workers will ask to meet with executives at Wells Fargo to deliver a petition calling for the bank to do away with high-pressure sales quotas for its customer service staff.

In a new report from the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), one teller “says she has to ‘practically chase customers out of the door hawking unwanted credit and debit card accounts’” or face reproach from her manager, despite corporate policy that ostensibly prohibits disingenuous or high-pressure tales tactics.

“What they want, what they need, isn’t important to us. Selling them a product is,” a call-center worker at another bank said, summarizing the approach her managers take toward customers.

The CPD report details how the largest banks exacerbate inequality on the macro level and prey upon trusting customers on the micro-level. It argues that the largest American consumer banks are contributing to economic inequality and mining huge profits while freezing tens of millions of un-banked Americans out of basic financial services.

The kinds of basic banking products that are essential to working people trying to save for their retirement or their children “are what industry insiders consider ‘low-value’ or ‘low-margin’ services,” CPD notes, and “are not currently a priority for the big banks.” Instead, banks have put tellers and call center employees under ever more pressure to sell people credit cards and additional bank accounts regardless of whether those products suit the customer’s real needs. At one bank, customer service staff must “make 40 percent of the sales of the top seller to avoid being written up.”

For providing this warped version of “customer service” and surviving the high-pressure work environment the banks create for them, frontline workers are rewarded with falling pay. Pay for tellers fell by more than 5 percent from 2007 to 2013 after adjusting for inflation. Bank workers who conduct interviews for people requesting loans have seen their wages drop by 3.2 percent, and customer service reps have gotten a 2.5 percent cut in that same window.

Out of every 10 bank tellers in the country, three are enrolled in food stamps or another public assistance program. Considering that most such programs have far fewer people enrolled than are eligible for them, it’s likely that the ratio of tellers who qualify for public aid is even higher. Taxpayers spend nearly $900 million a year providing benefits to bring bank tellers and their families up to a subsistence-level income, which means everyone in the country is helping to subsidize bank profits.

Those profits are massive, as the CPD report notes. For every dollar in revenue that the 10 largest consumer banks in America bring in, they manage to keep 20 cents as pure profit after paying workers, overhead, and taxes. That large profit margin leaves plenty of room to pay workers enough to avoid poverty.

A Policeman Directs Traffic at the Scene of 22-Year Old Leo Thornton’s Death at the Capitol Building. Cherry Blossoms Can be Seen in the Background.

At approximately 1:07 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, April 11, during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival celebrating springtime in the Nation’s Capitol, a 22-year old man took his own life with a gun on the Capitol grounds with a protest sign taped to his hand. According to the Washington Post, the sign read: “Tax the one percent.”

Yesterday, the Metropolitan Police Department released the young man’s name. He was Leo P. Thornton of Lincolnwood, Illinois. Based on what is currently known, the young man had traveled to Washington, D.C. for the express purpose of making a political statement with his sign and then ending his young life.

The Chicago Tribune reported that “Thornton’s parents filed a missing persons report on the morning of April 11 after he never came home from work on April 10, Lincolnwood Deputy Police Chief John Walsh said.”

Those are the tragic facts of the incident itself. But there is a broader tragedy: the vacuous handling of this story by corporate media. The Washington Post headlined the story with this: “Rhythms of Washington Return after Illinois Man’s Suicide Outside Capitol.” The message he delivered to his Congress – tax the one percent – has yet to be explored by any major news outlet in America in connection with this tragedy.

Was the message of Leo P. Thornton of Lincolnwood, Illinois a critical piece of information for this Congress to hear at this moment in American history. You’re damn right it was. Outside of Wall Street’s wealth transfer system, provisions in the U.S. tax code are the second biggest wealth transfer system to the one percent. Together, these two systems have created the greatest income and wealth inequality since the economic collapse in the Great Depression. They threaten a repeat of the 2008 financial collapse because the majority of Americans do not have the wages or savings to support the broader economy.

President Obama clearly understands what is going on. Whether he can get Congress to act is quite another matter. In his January 20, 2015 State of the Union speech, Obama stated…

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NY Times, Apr 15, 2015 (emphasis added): [Regulators] approved an emergency closure of commercial sardine fishing off Oregon, Washington and California… Earlier this week, the council shut down the next sardine season… [R]evised estimates of sardine populations… found the fish were declining in numbers faster than earlier believed… [Stocks are] much lower than estimated last year… The reasons are not well-understood.

Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, April 13, 2015: Ben Enticknap, Oceana senior scientist (1:08:00 in) — “We’ve seen a significant change in recruitment [Recruitment: The number of new young fish that enter a population]. There’s been practically no recruitment in recent years, and this was not expected.”

Undercurrent News, Apr 14, 2015: [A]ccording to the report on the emergency action from the PFMC… “the total stock biomass of Pacific sardine is declining as a result of poor recruitment“… [A California Wetfish Producers Association official said] “little recruitment was observed in 2011-2014.”

Oregonian, Apr 13, 2015: Pacific coast sardines are facing a population collapse so severe[fishing] will be shut down… [The] downward spiral in spite of favorable water conditions has ocean-watchers worried there’s more to this collapse than cyclical population trends. “There are a lot of weird things happening out there, and we’re not quite sure why they aren’t responding the way they should,” said Kevin Hill, a NOAA Fisheries biologist… Fishery managers are adding it to a list of baffling circumstances off the West Coast… NOAA surveys indicate very few juvenile fish made it through their first year. “The population isn’t replacing itself,” Hill said.

SFist, Apr 14, 2015: [T]he population appears decimated… As the Council writes, “temperatures in the Southern California Bight have risen in the past two years, but we haven’t seen an increase in young sardines”… Sardines typically spawn in warmer waters, with cold water decreasing their numbers.

SF Chronicle, Apr 14, 2015: Sardine population collapses… [There's] evidence stocks are going through the same kind of collapse [seen in the 1950s]… The sardine population along the West Coast has collapsed… Causes of crisis — A lack of spawning… was blamed for the decline… Severedownturn… things recently took a turn for the worse… because of a lack of spawning due to poor ocean conditions in 2014… The collapse this year is the latest in a series of alarming die-offs, sicknesses and population declines in the ocean ecosystem along the West Coast. Anchovies… have also declined [due to] a lack of zooplankton… Record numbers of starving sea lions… Brown pelicans, too, have suffered from mass reproductive failures and are turning up sick and dead… Strange diseases have also been proliferating in the sea…

Monterey Herald, Apr 13, 2015: For the first time in 30 years [sardine fishing] will be banned.

KPCC, Apr 1, 2015: The first time that sardine fishing has been banned since federal management of the fishery began… Many are worried a… catastrophic crash is happening.

Full recording of the PFMC meeting here