Nuclear Regulators Just “Rolling the Dice”

Energy intelligence reports:

Former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko says that the current fleet of operating plants in the US should be phased out because regulators can’t guarantee against an accident causing widespread land contamination. In two key decisions last week Jaczko said the agency “damaged significantly” its international reputation for upholding safety and he accused the five commissioners of “just rolling the dice” in dealing with severe accidents.

Jaczko is correct that “the current fleet of operating plants in the US [is unsafe] regulators can’t guarantee against an accident causing widespread land contamination”.

An investigation by Associated Press found that 75 percent of all U.S. nuclear sites have leaked radioactive tritium.

And whistleblowers at the Nuclear Regulator Commission say that the risk of a major meltdown at U.S. nuclear reactors is much higher than it was at Fukushima.

And an accident in the U.S. could be a lot larger than in Japan … partly because our nuclear plants hold a lot more radioactive material. Radiation could cause illness in huge numbers of Americans, and a major nuclear accident could literally bankrupt America.

And yet the nuclear regulators have dragged their feet in demanding even modest upgrades to prevent Fukushima-type disasters.  We reported more than a year ago:

The geniuses at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have given the green light for new nuclear power plants in the U.S. [over Jaczko's objections] which don’t include safety upgrades which were demonstrated vital by the Fukushima meltdown.

Jaczco explained last month:

I suggested putting in a requirement or a “condition” in the license, that said that they would not operate the plant until all of the Fukushima changes were implemented.

My colleagues on the commission rejected that proposal. Given that they rejected it, I had no choice but to disapprove issuing the licenses.

Bloomberg gave an update on last month:

U.S. nuclear regulators delayed action on a recommendation that utilities install radiation filters at 31 U.S. reactors, a victory for the industry that estimated the proposal may cost as much as $20 million per unit.


Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and a critic of the nuclear industry, said the NRC is delaying what he called an important safety upgrade at about a third of the nation’s 104 operating reactors.

“The NRC has abdicated its responsibility to ensure public health and safety in New England and across the country,” Markey, who is running for Senate, said in a statement.


The Nuclear Energy Institute, a Washington-based industry group, had said adding filters on vents as proposed by the agency’s staff was among the most expensive upgrades required by the regulator. Exelon Corp. of Chicago owns 11 of the 31 reactors.


Edwin Lyman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said NRC staff had already made the case the filters were an important safety enhancement. The NRC’s decision “kicks the can down the road.”


Some European countries require installation of filter to block radiation on vents, Lyman said. Japan announced last year that filtered vents will be required on its reactors.

Indeed, the nuclear regulators actually weakened safety standards after the Fukushima disaster.

Jaczco makes some good points regarding nuclear:

The biggest problem with the NRC continues to be the heavy influence that the industry has in selecting the members of the commission. It is a very political process.There are few commissioners who ever get onto the commission who are not endorsed by the industry. [Indeed, all nuclear agencies are wholly controlled by (and serve) the nuclear industry … just like the Federal Reserve is owned by (and serves) its member banks.]


We need to rethink the current design to have better designs such as small modular reactors.

If we have a reactor that is 100 megawatts, the quantity of material and the energy we have to disperse that material is significantly reduced.

It will not contaminate a 10-kilometer radius area, because it does not have enough material. [We've previously noted nuclear power can be generated and then used locally at the neighborhood scale ... a lot safer than Tepco or GE can do it in a giant nuclear plant.]


Fundamentally, the way I look at it is that we know how to maintain nuclear fuel in the short term. For the most part, we think it maintains its integrity. It does not need a lot of active systems, and dry casks work very well as far as we know.

Dry casks would solve the storage problem, but – like the new filters which the NRC and nuclear energy are fighting – they would cost a little money.

Remember: Nuclear energy can be cheap, or it can be safe … but it can’t be both.

Nuclear power is being pushed because it is good for making bombs – even though it could not survive without massive government subsidies, and even though it won’t necessarily reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Jaczko is correct that regulators are “just rolling the dice” in dealing with severe accidents, just as financial regulators rolled the dice in dealing with the economy, and oil regulators rolled the dice in dealing with deep-sea drilling.  That never works out very well.

Margaret Thatcher with Chilean Dictator General Augusto Pinochet

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams commenting on the death today of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said:

“Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British Prime Minister.

“Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies.

“Her role in international affairs was equally belligerent whether in support of the Chilean dictator Pinochet, her opposition to sanctions against apartheid South Africa; and her support for the Khmer Rouge.

“Here in Ireland her espousal of old draconian militaristic policies prolonged the war and caused great suffering. She embraced censorship, collusion and the killing of citizens by covert operations, including the targeting of solicitors like Pat Finucane, alongside more open military operations and refused to recognise the rights of citizens to vote for parties of their choice.

“Her failed efforts to criminalise the republican struggle and the political prisoners is part of her legacy.

“It should be noted that in complete contradiction of her public posturing, she authorised a back channel of communications with the Sinn Féin leadership but failed to act on the logic of this.

“Unfortunately she was faced with weak Irish governments who failed to oppose her securocrat agenda or to enlist international support in defence of citizens in the north.

“Margaret Thatcher will be especially remembered for her shameful role during the epic hunger strikes of 1980 and 81.

“Her Irish policy failed miserably.”

Last night, on the day that Margaret Thatcher died, much of the mainstream media fell over itself to mourn the passing of a ‘great’ leader. There were of course some references to her being a ‘divisive figure’, but only because she did what ‘had to be done’, which politicians before her were too weak-willed to do (ie attack workers’ rights, the welfare state and beat down wages).

Even people like Henry Kissinger, a man often accused as having the blood of innocent millions on his hands, were wheeled onto our screens to tell the British public what a really outstanding leader she was. That the BBC would turn to Kissinger for such a ringing endorsement of Thatcher’s policies and personality says a lot about the mindset over at the good old ‘Beeb’.

I happened to see Kissinger on the BBC’s late night ‘serious’ new analysis programme Newsnight. Presented by senior broadcaster Jeremy Paxman, prior to talking with Kissinger, the show hosted a studio debate about Thatcher’s legacy. As elsewhere, it was a broadcast lavishly sprinkled with eulogies for the ‘great Margaret’.

Early in the broadcast a Conservative MP (or ex-MP) offered his opinion about her legacy. He stated that Thatcher served to put an end to certain debates that had raged prior to her taking power, not least the question of capitalism being the best system for delivering goods and services effectively and for wealth creation. Paxman sat there and just let this go.

Yet, later in the broadcast, leftist political figure Ken Livingstone made a comment about her legacy, which included the current a housing crisis in Britain. Paxman was on him straight away, pulling him up and tell Livingstone about Thatcher’s ‘successes’ in the housing sector. Livingstone’s comment about the housing crisis was benign when compared with the Tory person’s comments that celebrated the wonders of capitalism.

How a senior BBC presenter can sit there and not challenge someone who says the debate about socialism/capitalism is ended because capitalism has proved to be successful may well be beyond the thought process of some people. Successful for whom? For the rich and for millionaire politicians who come on to our screens and perpetuate this lie.

The banking system has collapsed and ordinary folk are being burdened with ‘austerity’ (mass unemployment, cuts to welfare and services) to pay the for bankers’ losses as a result of their gambling and criminality. Thatcher deregulated the ‘City’ which gave bankers a free rein in the first place.

Due to ‘deregulation’ in many areas, we now have virtual monopolies in various sectors, including energy, finance and transport. Manufacturing jobs have been outsourced and replaced with Macjobs or no jobs at all and underemployment. Communities across the UK are suffering from social breakdown, criminality, drugs, etc. There is a housing crisis and a personal debt crisis. And ordinary people’s share of wealth has declined (from 65 to 53 percent in the 80s alone).

Inequalities began to rocket under Thatcher and were perpetuated by ‘New Labour’, which supported her policies. Economic growth in the 80s was the same as in the 70s – wealth creation? Wealth was funnelled towards the top.

Capitalism is regarded as being so successful by its proponents because higher profits ensued as unemployment rose and labour became cheap in Britain where the unions were broken or was already cheap in the countries to where jobs were outsourced. And as the share of wealth going to labour fell, demand for goods fell, so debt was introduced to boost it. Where now, seeing the level of consumer debt was unsustainable? Capitalism cannot manage is crises, it just shifts them around in ever decreasing circles. Capitalism is in crisis because of it. Look no further than the ‘Eurozone crisis’ and the slow death of the US economy.

Capitalism (via ‘globalisation’) is devastating communities and economies all over the world, not least farmers in India who have experienced debt and poverty on a massive scale as western agribuisiness has taken over farming; and not least in terms of the illegal land grabs from tribal people in Orissa and Chhattisgarh being undertaken by the Indian govt on behalf of trans-national corporations. From Congo, Mali, Libya and Syria, so-called capitalist countries in the West, via NATO and its proxy armies, are causing devastation and conflict in order to grab the resources required to feed western capitalism’ rapacious appetite.

Whether it’s IMF/WTO backed policies that impose ‘structural adjustment’ on sovereign states or it is NATO paving the way for the looting of countries, the ‘capitalism’ often celebrated in/by the mainstream media is not based on some notion of a ‘free market’ but is based on brute force, coercion and bullying. But this is not to be discussed. This is the rantings of the ‘extremist’ or unrealistic ‘dreamer’. This is beyond the scope of what is considered ‘rational’ debate within the cosy TV studios ofLondon and ‘Westminster Village’. And because it’s beyond the scope, the real extremism, the brutality of monopoly capitalism and imperialism does not get mentioned and is therefore left unchecked by the media.

While ‘on air’ it may at times be difficult or unnecessary to launch into a wide ranging critique of capitalism, to just sit there and accept at face value and not challenge someone who espouses the greatness of capitalism is a dereliction of duty. But this is what the mainstream media specialises in. It is par for the course as far as the BBC is concerned. It’s to be expected.

I once came across an anecdote about Noam Chomsky. Apparently, he was having some trouble with his teeth, due to him grinding them. After much speculation and pondering, the cause of the grinding was pinpointed. He only did it when he read the New York Times!

I stopped watching the BBC and the mainstream media in general after the one-sided representation of the Libyan conflict. My mistake is that I tuned in to watch it again last night. Unfortunately, it’s a mistake millions make on a daily basis.

Banana Giant Fears National Security Archive “Media Campaign”. Company Says SEC Should Withhold Info on Illegal Transactions.

Washington, D.C. – Chiquita Brands International last week filed a “reverse” Freedom of Information lawsuit to block the release of records to the National Security Archive on the company’s illegal payments to Colombian terrorist groups, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court. At issue are thousands of documents the company turned over to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 1998-2004 as part of an investigation of the company’s illegal transactions with leftist insurgents and right-wing paramilitaries from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

Two years ago, the Archive published “The Chiquita Papers,” a declassified collection of more than 5,000 pages of internal Chiquita documents turned over to the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part of a criminal investigation of more than $1.7 million in payments to the AUC over six years, and for nearly three years after the group was formally designated as a terrorist organization. That case resulted in a 2007 sentencing agreement in which Chiquita admitted to more than ten years of payments to a variety of Colombian guerrilla and paramilitary groups.

The Chiquita Papers included evidence that Chiquita and its Colombian subsidiary had received tangible benefits from those transactions, undermining one of the key aspects of the company’s defense: that it had never received “any actual security services or actual security equipment in exchange for the payments.” Chiquita’s “reverse” FOIA complaint now claims that the news headlines based on the documents were part of “a media campaign to publicize biased mischaracterizations of the documents.”

“We strongly reject Chiquita’s assertion that we mischaracterized information found in their own corporate records,” said Michael Evans, director of the Archive’s Colombia Documentation Project. “Chiquita admitted to more than a decade of regular payments to death squads and narcotraffickers,” he added. “Now, Chiquita wants to cover up the documents that would let us judge for ourselves whether those payments were extortion or security for banana operations, or both.”

Among the evidence that Chiquita did, in fact, benefit from its “sensitive payments” is a 1994 legal memo indicating that Colombian insurgents provided security at some of Chiquita’s plantations in Colombia. The memo says that the general manager of Chiquita operations in Turbó told company attorneys that “Guerrilla Groups” were “used to supply security personnel at the various farms.” Asubsequent draft of the same memo includes annotations asking, “Why is this relevant?” and, “Why is this being written?”

Another document published by the Archive in April 2011 shows that Chiquita also paid right-wing paramilitary forces for security services-including intelligence on guerrilla operations-after the AUC wrested control of the region from insurgents in the mid-1990s. The March 2000 memo, written by Chiquita Senior Counsel Robert Thomas and based on a conversation with managers from Chiquita’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Banadex, indicates that paramilitaries formed a front company to disguise “the real purpose of providing security.” The unidentified Banadex official said Chiquita “should continue making the payments,” because the company “can’t get the same level of support from the military.”

The “reverse” FOIA filing is the latest development in a four-and-a-half-year Archive legal effort to document Chiquita’s financial relationships with illegal armed groups responsible for some of the worst human rights atrocities of Colombia’s decades-old civil war. A “reverse” FOIA is a common lawsuit strategy, mostly used by contractors to prevent their cost-plus or profit-margin figures from being released by government agencies.

The new case is the direct outgrowth of a 2010 lawsuit in which the Archive sought to compel the SEC to process a pair of FOIA requests relating to the Chiquita investigation. More than three years later the agency made its final decision with respect to legal, financial and other documents Chiquita turned over to the SEC during the course of its inquiries, granting confidential treatment to only 45 pages among some 23 boxes of responsive material. Chiquita’s “reverse” FOIA action follows multiple attempts on its part to convince the SEC to reverse that decision.

In making its case against disclosure of the “Chiquita Payment Documents,” the company cites FOIA Exemption (7)(B), which exempts from disclosure “records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes” to the extent that production “would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(B). Chiquita claims that it is subject to two pending “adjudications,” a consolidated civil suit filed in Florida on behalf of victims of the terrorist groups that Chiquita funded, and a preliminary criminal investigation now underway in Colombia.

Dismissing those arguments, SEC Associate General Counsel Richard M. Humes found that while the Florida case did indeed qualify as a “trial or adjudication,” he also determined “that Chiquita did not demonstrate that public disclosure of the Chiquita Payment Documents ‘would seriously interfere with the fairness of the pending adjudication.’”

With respect to the Colombia matter, Humes concluded that “the criminal investigation pending in Colombia against current and former Chiquita employees and those of its subsidiary” does not meet the standard necessary to withhold information, since Exemption 7(B) refers “specifically to ‘a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication’ but does not apply to ‘investigations.’” Humes points out that Chiquita accurately characterized the Colombian matter as an “investigation” in several previous filings and “only began referring to the investigation as the ‘Colombian FiscalíaProceeding’ in its request for reconsideration.”

The Archive is represented in the FOIA litigation against the SEC by Jeffrey Gutman, director of the Public Justice Advocacy Clinic at The George Washington University Law School.

Edited by Michael Evans

For more information contact:
Michael Evans 202/994-7000 or [email protected]

On Monday the  5th of November 2012, Somaliland forces mounted an offensive [1] against Khatumo state forces based in Hudun town.

Hudun[2] town is situated in the western parts of Sool province, in what was a relatively peaceful area of Northern Somalia.

Pro Somaliland media outlets reported [3] that “the skirmishes” were the result of elements who were trying to intimidate voters in the “local elections [4]” that was held in Somaliland. However the offensive launched by Somaliland on the 5th of November proved to be just the start of what would be a prolonged offensive campaign waged by Somaliland on Khatumo State forces based in Hudun town.

Repeated [5] clashes followed on the  28th of November, the  1st31st of December, the 23th24th of January, the  1st13th of February 2013, with the most recent one being on the 8th of March. The offensive on the  8th of March followed the  press release [6] by Jacka resources on 6th March of large structural petroleum prospects in North Somalia.

In three months’ time Somaliland attacked Hudun a total of nine times. Sources close to Somaliland have confirmed Somaliland is planning a new major offensive. In spite of Somaliland’s continued offensive, Khatumo remains in firm control of Hudun town.

Illegitimate Oil Deals

Prior to the start of its offensive on the 5th of November, Somaliland signed a deal [7] on the 30th of October 2012 with  Genel Energy Plc to drill two wells for Oil in Northwestern Somalia, on two blocks assigned by Somaliland. Soon after the deal Somaliland militia headed towards Hudun and attacked the town.

Hudun town is situated on the Nugaal block [8]one of the blocks to be drilled for oil.

The Nugaal block is a stretch of land situated in the regions of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (Buhoodle town) in short the SSC [9] regions, and to a lesser extend Nugaal region. The Nugaal block has been  sold [10] to oil companies by both Somaliland and Puntland. Somaliland has sold the land to Genel Energy led by  Tony Hayward, the former BP CEO, who headed BP during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. Puntland has sold the land to Horn Petroleum.

However both entities do not control or have minimal control of the Nugaal Block, with the later having no physical presence at all in the SSC region. There are also claims being made by large international oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell [11], who possess old oil exploration licenses granted by the former Somali government of Major General Mohamed Siad Barre. The SSC region is not only rich in Oil but also has large reserves of Tin, Iron Ore, Zircominium, Copper, Cobalt and Chromium.

The Nugaal Block is largely  controlled [12] by Khatumo State and cannot be sold to any foreign company without the consent of Khatumo State, that represents the aspirations of the local population.

Investors in companies who claim to have bought the rights to explore Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) from either Somaliland or Puntland should be informed about the facts on the ground, and the conflict that these oil deals have caused. Any funds disbursed to these two entities for drilling rights on the Nugaal block can be considered as an squandered investment and a lack of due diligence on the part of these companies.


The Nugaal block is the most sought out by the oil companies, with prospective resources of 4.1 Billion barrels of oil.

Extraction of Oil and Minerals can only be done with the support of the local population represented by Khatumo State of Somalia.

The War Waged against Khatumo State and the SSC population

Puntland and Somaliland have been waging war against each-other in the SSC regions for a  decade [13] now, and in the last three years  against [14] Khatumo State of Somalia and its predecessor SSC.

Khatumo State of Somalia was created on the 12th of January 2012, in the historic town of Taleh [15]. The officials of  Khatumostate of Somalia [16] have been elected and endorsed by the civil society at large including the 13 Garaads of the SSC regions (prominent elders of SSC), women associations and business groups.

Since the creation of Khatumo State of Somalia and its predecessor SSC, Somaliland and Puntland have moved closer to each-other and have formed an alliance to fully eliminate any party that may challenge their claims to these regions. This alliance culminated into a  coordinated [17] attack on Khatumo State forces on the 28th of June 2012 by Puntland and Somaliland on Tukaraq a small village in Sool region, situated 15 Miles from Garowe, the capital of Puntland. The presumption in the SSC regions is that Puntland and Somaliland have divided the area between themselves.

Since the  capture of Lasanod by Somaliland on the 5th of October 2007, there has been a relentless war against the local population. The war waged by Somaliland includes the targeting of food convoys,  sexual violence [18], arbitrary excecutions of nomads [19] and their animals with mobile units of technicals mounted with machine guns. The wars waged by Somaliland in Buhoodle district alone have resulted in the displacement of  150,000 residents as reported [20] by the UN monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea. These fleeing civilians end up in villages and cities where safety is provided by Khatumo State of Somalia or end up in refugee camps in Kenya.

The displacement of civilians from their homes and livelihoods by Somaliland is the main cause of loss of life in the Northern region of Somalia. The war in the SSC region will continue and accelerate in the near future while Somaliland is trying to secure these regions for  seismic surveys on the ground and eventually drilling.

Despite Somaliland’s continues offensive it has been losing ground to Khatumo State that has the support of the local population.

The role of the International community and the UN

The UN has undertaken various governance and law programmes in Somaliland, including the training [21] of  Special police unitsmaritime police and the donating of vehicles [22]. The aim of these governance programs is to increase the efficiency and the effectiveness of the security forces thereby “increasing security” in “Somaliland”.

These programs do not take into account the war waged by Somaliland on Khatumo State and the SSC population. Increasing the effectiveness of the security means increasing their ability to wage war. At the start of 2012, Somaliland started to use its newly acquired equipment and training received to  attack Buhoodle district.

The UN is aware of the war that Somaliland is waging in the SSC region but is still committed to funding “governance and law” programs in Somaliland and has even increased funding for these kind of projects for 2013. Through the UN, the  United  Kingdom and to a lesser extend the European Union have been the biggest donors to Somaliland. The budget of Somaliland depends on the funds made available by the International community.

The United Kingdom has been informed [23] of the war waged by Somaliland by the SSC diaspora living in the United Kingdom and is well aware of Somaliland’s war against Khatumo State of Somalia and its people. However it has promised increased funding [24]  to Somaliland. One has to question why the United Kingdom is funding Somaliland while it is waging war in the SSC regions of Somalia.

Although there has been a decade of war in North Somalia (Somaliland), there is a media blackout of the conflict. Many media outlets even portray Somaliland as an oases of Peace in Northern Somalia, with the BBC leading the way.

Khatumo State and the SSC population

Khatumo State of Somalia and the population living in the SSC regions are aware that the war is not only about Somaliland wanting to secede, but that it is increasingly a war for resources. Somaliland has been able to promote itself as being in full control of the SSC region to oil companies, and is actively seeking to “sell” land to these companies. The international community is keen to explore these resources.

The war in the SSC regions is developing into a war for the resources of North Somalia. The human and material cost suffered by the SSC population is of no relevance to Somaliland and the oil companies.

Khaatumo State and the SSC population are aware that the resources on their land can either be a blessing or a curse. Today Khaatumo State controls the majority of the SSC regions and is actively working towards the development of the region. It is the right of the people of Khaatumo State to choose their own destiny, and to develop their own land.



1.  ”Somaliland troops clash with rebels in Hudun”. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 30 March, from

2. Location Hudun, see:

3. ”Somaliland: Skirmishes in Hudun as Polling gets underway”. 5 November 2012.

Retrieved 30 March, from

4. The local election held in Somaliland in 2012, was largely of tribal nature were each sub clan of the ruling Isaaq clan of Somaliland had its own party. The 4 (DhulbahanteGadabuursiIssa, and Warsangali) other clans of Somaliland did not participate and were not represented during the local election. See Steve Kibble. “Preparing for local elections in Somaliland”. Retrieved 30 March, from

5. Repeated clashes, see: “Fighting erupts in Hudun district, Sool region”. 28 November 2012.  Retrieved 30 March, from, “Somaliland (Somalia) 1 Dec 2012″. 1 December 2012.  Retrieved 30 March,{F8A09CE3-0615-4CBA-9EC7-7DCC2A088A7E}, “War in Xudun” (Somali language). 31 December 2012.  Retrieved 30 March, from, “War in Xudun” (Somali language). 22 January 2013.  Retrieved 30 March, from, “Somaliland:Khatumo Militias Dislodged from Hudun Bases”. 23 January 2013. Retrieved 30 March, from, “Somaliland Army Crush Khatumo Aligned Militiamen”. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 30 March, from, “Somaliland (Somalia) 1 Feb 2013″. 1 February 2012.  Retrieved 30 March,{F8A09CE3-0615-4CBA-9EC7-7DCC2A088A7E}, “North Somalia: Somaliland Militia & Khatumo State Forces Clash in Hudun Town, Sool Region, Somalia February 13. 2013″. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 30 March, from, “Somaliland: clashes between army and khaatumo separatist group militiamen in Hudun town”. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 30 March, from

6. Bevis,Yeo. “Jacka Resources finds promising structures in Somaliland petroleum block”. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 30 March, from

7. ”Turkish firm eyes Somaliland”. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 30 March, from

8. ”Nogal and Dharoor valley blocks”. Retrieved 30 March, from

9. SSC region, see:

10. Kelly Gilblom. “Row between Somali regions slows oil exploration”. 11 May 2012.  Retrieved 30 March, from

11. Jon Kamp. 21 March 2013.  Retrieved 30 March, from

12. Political map of Somalia, see:

13. For an analysis, see: Markus V. Hoehne. “Puntland and Somaliland Clashing in Northern Somalia: Who Cuts the Gordian Knot?” 7 November 2007.  Retrieved 30 March, from

14. Mark Anderson. “Somaliland clashes with secessionists” 10 February 2012.  Retrieved 30 March, from

15. Historic town of Taleh, see:

16. “What is Khatumo State”. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2013, from

17. Abdinur Elmi Qaaje. Khatumo State of Somalia. “Joint war Waged by Somaliland and Puntland Administrations on Khatumo State of Somalia”. 28 June 2012. Retrieved 30 March, from

18 Osman Hassan. “Somaliland occupying militia gang-rape 13-year old girl in Sool”. 30 December

2012. Retrieved 04 April 2013 from Dalmar Kaahin, a pro Somaliland reports of 13 old being raped. “Somaliland: the Violent Militant, Khatumo’s “Press Release” Back Fires”. Retrieved 30 March, from

19 “Warlord Siilaanyo & His Somaliland Killing KHaatumo Civilians”. 26 January 2012.

Retrieved 30 March, from

20 Matt Bryden, Coordinator Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea. “Letter dated 20 June 2011 from the members of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea addressed to the Chairman of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea”. Page 130. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 30 March, from

21 Yusuf M Hasan. “Somaliland: UK Trained Resistant Reaction Police Unit Graduate”. 15 March 2012.  Retrieved 30 March, from http://index.php/politics/402- somaliland-uk-trained-resistant-reaction-police-unit-graduate, Colonel S. R. Roberts. “Conference on capacity- building to Counter Piracy off the coast of Somalia”. 15 May 2012.  Retrieved 30 March, from

22 “UNDP donates vehicles to Somaliland police, judiciary”. Retrieved 30 March, from

23 Alex Milan Tracy. “Somali’s demonstrate against Somaliland’s war on SSC people”. 5

March 2011.  Retrieved 30 March, from somalilands-war-ssc-people#media-612064

24 “UK increases aid to Somalia”. Retrieved 30 March, from

What’s Wrong with the US Economy and How we Can Fix It

April 9th, 2013 by Margaret Flowers

This article is based on a talk that we gave at the Maine Peoples Budget conference at the University of Maine in Orono. It was a sponsored by the Maine Alliance for the Common Good, a coalition of organizations that work on different issues and recognize that all of their issues are connected. They are focused on the current budget cuts and what they can do to create an economy that serves and protects people and the planet.

In the presentation, we described the current economic situation and the direction that the economy is headed. We outlined a strategy to shift economic and political power to people and create a democratized economy so that people have more control over the economy and so that the economy benefits more people. This will reduce the wealth divide and start to meet more people’s basic needs.

Democratized economic institutions are being put in place throughout the world and support for a democratized economy is growing within the US. Given the current risks for another recession or perhaps another crash in the US, these systems may serve as protection from increased poverty that would otherwise be the result.

This is a broad overview and we did not include some important topics such as debt and lack of savings and retirement security for many. But, we hope this will help to frame the current situation and what we can do about it.

Slide 1: Overall, the US grows wealthier every year. This trend has been fairly consistent over the past 200 years except for the period around the depression and WWII. Manufacturing output in the US continues to grow too despite low levels of manufacturing employment. Manufacturing is changing in the US due to increased use of technology which replaces workers.

slide 1

Slide 2: And corporate profits continue to grow. Corporate profits are rising dramatically again following the economic crash in 2008. Of all of the presidents, Obama has been the best for Wall Street. Average annual profit growth during Obama’s presidency is nearly 80%. Under the next closest president, Harding, there was an average annual growth of less than 20%.


Slide 3:  But employment has fallen. Employment took a precipitous drop and remains at a fairly steady level following the 2008 crash. This chart does not reflect the number of people who have given up on looking for a job, nor does it reflect the number of people who are underemployed. When these factors are included, the actual unemployment is closer to 49%. See


Slide 4: Over the past four decades, income has only risen significantly for the top 1%. The charts show that income has only risen for the top 1% and top 20% since 1979, and there are wide disparities in the degree of growth. For the bottom 80%, income has fallen.


Slide 5: Most of us are still in a recession. Since the economic crash of 2008, profits in the financial sector have returned to previous high levels. From 2009 to 2011, average real income per family grew modestly by 1.7%, but the gains were very uneven. Incomes of the top 1% grew by 11.2% while incomes of the bottom 99% shrunk by 0.4%. Hence, the top 1% captured 121% of the income gains in the first two years of the recovery. See


Slide 6: Big business and the wealthy were taxed at rates as high as 92% in the mid-20th century. In reality, taxes this high were not paid because CEOs took lower salaries and re-invested profits in their businesses which built the economy. Currently, because of tax havens and corporate tax loopholes, some of the largest corporations pay no taxes, indeed some receive large tax refunds, and the wealthy pay a much lower tax rate on income that is derived from investments. The first chart shows the actual tax rates paid by the 1% and 0.1%. The trends can be compared to the second chart which shows the change in share of total income.


Slide 7:  As a result of all of the above, wealth inequality is growing in the US. The Gini coefficient is a measure of wealth inequality; the higher it is, the greater the inequality. The chart on the left shows that it has been rising steadily since the late 1960s with spikes in the early 1990’s and following the 2008 economic crash. In addition, the chart on the right shows that labor’s share of the GDP has fallen sharply.


Slide 8: This Harvard study showed that wealth distribution in the US is very far from the ideal and what most people think it is.


Slide 9: A small number of financial and transnational corporations control a large part of the global wealth. Through their influence over the political process and their control over resources, jobs and capital, these corporations are currently in power. And they are seeking greater power through the TransPacific Partnership which will give transnational corporations power over sovereign nations. We think of it as a global corporate coup. See for more information.


Slide 10: The US is heading in the same direction as many countries in the EU and the UK. Austerity measures in a fragile and struggling economy will create a recession. A more effective response to the economy would be to increase taxes on the wealthy, create full employment, strengthen social insurances and regulate capital. Instead, we are seeing false crises and debates that provide cover for increased cuts to social programs and other austerity measures. Emphasis is misplaced on the deficit instead of on the wealth divide. The chart shows GDP rose after the New Deal and fell during a recession that ensued when FDR cut social spending.


Slide 11: There are evidence-based solutions to every crisis that we face. And supermajorities of people support these solutions, but Congress and the White House are going in the opposite direction. These solutions are not even allowed into the national conversation. This is why we believe that people as a group would make better decisions than those in power.

soln 11

Slide 12: When discussing solutions, we should not limit ourselves to what is “on the table.” And here are three principles that are essential for success. The first is to be independent of political party in our agenda. If we tie our agenda to a particular party, then we are set up for compromise. We must be clear about what we are demanding so that we cannot be confused by partial or false solutions. And we must be uncompromising on the fundamentals so that we don’t accept non-solutions.


Slide 13: We can shift power to the people. It has happened before and there is empirical evidence of what works. We propose a two-pronged approach of protesting what we oppose to expose it and try to stop it while creating alternative systems to replace what currently exists. More time and energy should be spent on building new systems.


Slide 14: When the Super Committee was meeting in Washington in 2011, we protested the hearings and held our own Super Committee hearing. We brought in experts on taxation, military spending, jobs, healthcare and more and we asked them to propose solutions based on the evidence of what works. From that, we wrote our own deficit proposal.


Slide 15: We are in a “Great Turning.” The global society is shifting from one that is competitive and that exploits and destroys the Earth to one that is based on cooperation and sustainability. This is already happening. We have an opportunity to nourish this turning and create alternative systems that are life-sustaining. We can organize based on solidarity, cooperation, sustainability and democracy.


Slides 16 to 25: A new economy is rising around the world and within the US. We can build this new economy within the Capitalist economy so that it arises and replaces Capitalism. Some call it a Solidarity Economy We call it a Democratized Economy because it is based on greater control of the economy by people and greater equality and benefit for people. Here is a brief outline of the new economy. It is not exhaustive. There is more information on our website, Use the search box on the website to find more information on specific topics. You may also want to read the “Occupy G8 Peoples’ Summit Report” which provides more information and links to resources.











We published the power point on It’s Our Economy, see here, so that it can be downloaded and others can use it in their communities. If you have any questions about the charts please contact us at [email protected].  We encourage you to share this widely so people can understand the economic situation and how to create an economy that serves all of us.

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

A terrorist explosion rocked the area between al-Shahbander and Sabe’a Bahrat Square in Damascus on Monday, leaving 14 martyrs at least, 146 injured people and huge material damage in the surrounding area.

Director of Damascus Health Directorate, Dr. Adel Mansour, told SANA that the bodies of 14 citizens martyred in the terrorist bombing arrived at public and private hospitals, in addition to a container containing limbs and 146 wounded people among them women and children and some of the suffering from crucial injuries.

Mansour said that all medical and ER personnel have been put on alert to treat the wounded and perform emergency operations and procedures for the critically injured.

SANA reporter said that terrorists detonated a car bomb in a crowded area near Salim Bukhari school, Buaeir Mosque and residential buildings.

SANA reporter denied that any clashes took place in the area, as some malicious TV channels alleged, pointing out that some authority personnel fired gunshots in the air to open streets for ambulances.

One of the locals told SANA that the bomber chose a time when students were leaving schools and when people were going to pray at the nearby mosque.

A woman who was helping to get students from Salim Bukhari School away from the site of the bombing said that the bombing shook the school, and that some of the children were martyred or injured while the others were in a state of panic.

Prime Minister Dr. Wael al-Halqi visited the site of the bombing and inspected the damages it caused, affirming that Syria will continue its battle against terrorism until the end in order to achieve security and stability across Syria.

In a statement to journalists at the scene of the bombing, al-Halqi said that the achievements of the Armed Forces against terrorism and the failure of the terrorists and those who support them are the motives for committing such criminal acts.

He said that terrorists don’t hesitate to attack mosques similar to what happened in al-Iman Mosque because they seek to undermine the moderate and compassionate Islam which has been a mainstay of the Syrian people for centuries.

Al-Halqi added that this attack, which took place near the Central Bank of Syria, also targets the Syrian economy which has withstood two years of unjust sanctions and embargos, particularly in light of the recent stabilization of the Syrian Pound due to the government’s steps in this regard.




















R. Milhem / Ghossoun / H. Sabbagh

On September 22, 2013, Germany will hold general elections. These elections will be observed with special attention given what it will mean for the austerity policies of the Merkel government and the ‘Euro crisis.’ From an anti-austerity and socialist perspective, the elections are also important with regard to the situation for the new German Left Party Die LINKE. Despite growing economic and social inequality, the Left Party stands at just 8 per cent in opinion polls. The party faces the challenge of presenting itself as a genuine alternative in an unfavourable and even hostile political environment in Germany. In this article, published exclusively in the left-wing daily newspaper Junge Welt, Oskar Lafontaine reflects on the current conjuncture for the party.

Lafontaine started his career as Willy Brandt‘s most politically talented ‘son’; became the most popular leader of West Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) during its years in opposition between 1982 and 1998; was deemed “the most dangerous man in Europe” by the British press for his financial market regulation plans as the Finance Minister of the first coalition government of SPD and Greens in 1998, but stepped down when he realized the lack of support for his left-Keynesian policies within the coalition.

In the early 2000s Lafontaine was a prominent critic of the new government’s neoliberal course and in 2004 he joined the new West German party Election Alternative for Work and Social Justice (WASG) formed by trade unionists, left-wing economists, SPD dissidents and radical leftists, on the condition that it would merge with the East German Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) to form a united German Left Party. In the 2005 national elections Lafontaine led the new party formation into the Bundestag with 8.7 per cent and in 2009 with 11.9 per cent of the popular vote. For health reasons Lafontaine stepped down from his leadership positions nationally and decided to concentrate on the role of opposition leader in his home state of Saarland. His voice nevertheless remains influential within the Left Party and calls for his return to the national stage are frequent.

In the forthcoming German elections the Left Party (Die Linke) can only be successful if it refuses to become another wing of the ‘German Unity Party.’

 Germany’s “One-Party System”

by Oskar Lafontaine

In the coming months a comedy will be staged in Germany. The piece is called ‘Electoral Battle of the Political Camps.’ The leading actors are Angela Merkel and Peer Steinbrück. In supporting roles we’ll see Horst Seehofer, Sigmar Gabriel, Philipp Rösler, Jürgen Trittin and the other respective leaders of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Green Party. An appearance by Die Linke is not envisaged for this revue. With the help of the intelligence service, the corporate media and public broadcasters, everything possible is being done to banish this inconvenient party from the catwalks of capitalism.

Years ago the sharp-tongued American author Gore Vidal observed, “Democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.” For Vidal, the USA does not have two, but only one political party, “with two right wings,” which campaigns for the interests of major corporations. He considered the media to be instruments of propaganda for the preservation of social power relations.

One might dismiss Gore Vidal’s view as the literary embellishment of a writer, but the transferability of his assessment of American politics to the looming German national election is confirmed by journalist Heribert Prantl in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “The campaign of the political camps is an electoral campaign that actually no longer exists… a campaign of the political camps is an inappropriate term … There [once] were opposing positions on basic policy issues: foreign, economic, energy and immigration policies… The fundamental differences between the parties (with the exception of Die Linke) have disappeared.”

The Americanization of German politics has undoubtedly led to the fact that today, even in Germany, we have a one-party system with four wings – to stay with Gore Vidal’s image. The wings call themselves the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP or the Greens, and they campaign, sometimes more, sometimes less, in the interests of banks and major corporations – as the tax policies of recent years and the many bank rescue packages demonstrate. They endorse without any reservations an economic system which results in an unequal distribution of prosperity, wealth and power; a system that allows a minority to have the majority work for it and then withhold from this majority the fully entitled proceeds of their labour, in the form of wages and employee shares.

In contrast to the German Unity Party, Die Linke believes property should only be the result of one’s effort; it should result from one’s own labour and not from the fact that someone has appropriated the labour of others. So long as great fortunes and the accompanying social power structures are created in such a way that a minority “exploits” the labour of the majority, the interests of the majority cannot logically prevail. In other words, a democracy; that is to say, a social order in which the interests of the majority are asserted, flounders upon the power structure reinforced by the German Unity Party.

So long as this remains unaffected phony struggles will be waged and fierce conflicts can be conducted on peripheral battlefields. The less that fundamental political positions differ from one another, the louder the shouting must be to maintain the appearance of a contest between the political camps. As Heribert Prantl once more points out, “There probably are, despite the fuss that is made about retirement policies, only one thousand people in Germany, who could spell out the difference between the CDU/CSU and the SPD. It’s the same with other issues.” Even the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung talks about a “phoney” campaign between the political camps.

Neoliberalism, German Style

Nor should we let ourselves be blinded by the SPD-Green “plagiarism scandal.” With great effort the Social Democrats and the Greens have copied and modified policy proposals from Die Linke in order to make us forget the social dislocations caused by their coalition policies – precarious working conditions, low wages, seniors living in poverty, and the destruction of the social security system. This applies also to other policies: a minimum wage, modest improvements to pensions, an increase in Hartz IV benefits, medical fees, tuition fees, temporary work, work contracts, top tax rates, a wealth tax, a withholding tax, a financial transaction tax, rent control, energy price limits, a cap on interest rates for consumer credit, Eurobonds, the revocation of bank licenses, the abetting of tax evasion, separation of commercial and investment banking, limits to execute salaries, creditor liability, and debt haircuts, to name but a few examples.

This theft of ideas cannot hide the fact that when it matters the SPD and Greens, as well as the CDU/CSU and FDP, show themselves to be loyal fractions of the German Unity Party. The unanimous approval for the balanced budget amendment to the constitution, for the European fiscal compact, and for the various rescue packages, shows that the “left camp,” consisting of the SPD and Greens, have not detached themselves from their Hartz IV and Agenda 2010 policies. The fiscal compact represents the consolidation of these brutal austerity policies for all of Europe. The only reason the SPD and Greens have the chutzpah to call themselves European parties is because they have internalized a Europe of free markets and corporations as the only possibility.

If we measure social reality according to declared political objectives, it is then not too harsh a judgement to describe both ‘left-wing’ protagonists of the forthcoming ‘battle of the political camps’ as European flops. With the participation of the then SPD-Green chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the European Council resolved in Lisbon in December 2000 to make the EU, “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.” That was the noble goal. But what does the reality look it?

When young Europeans – who are becoming unemployed en masse – read this today, they are fully justified in being dubious about the powers of judgment of these state leaders. When will the politicians of the German Unity Party grasp that an economic system, which has profit and wealth maximization for a minority as its goal, inevitably produces conditions such as we now observe in Europe?

Against this background it is a bad joke when the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and Greens wish to place social justice at the center of their “battle of the political camps.”

Because it’s inherent to the system, it is also logical that both ‘camps’ have chosen so-called wars for human rights as the central instruments of their foreign policies. In inimitable fashion Prince Harry captured the quintessence of the new era of German foreign policy on the front page of the Bild newspaper with his comment, “Take a life to save a life. That’s what we revolve around, I suppose.” It is telling in this regard that politicians from the SPD and Greens strongly criticized Merkel and Westerwelle for not letting Germany participate in NATO’s war on Libya.

“Die Linke’s unique characteristic is its advocacy of an economic system, in which everyone receives the full proceeds of their labour. ”

Die Linke – and this is understood by the vast majority of its followers and members – has a right to exist, and can be successful in the elections only if it does not become another wing of the German Unity Party. Die Linke’s unique characteristic is its advocacy of an economic system, in which everyone receives the full proceeds of their labour. Such an economic system leads to democratic enterprises run by workers and not authoritarian economic structures with temporary work, contract work, low wages and mini-jobs. It leads to a peaceful foreign policy, which secures raw materials through negotiations and not with wars for human rights.

With this in mind it is clear why the SPD and the Greens have for years now rebuffed offers of cooperation by Die Linke. The politicians of the German Unity Party stick together. They reject structural reforms that would alter the ever-increasing unequal distribution of affluence and opportunities in Germany. The electoral programs of the SPD and Greens, in which the proposals of Die Linke have been adopted in whole or in watered-down form, serve only as a disguise. Voters are not to know that behind the proclamations no actual intent for their realization exists. Yet as Franz Müntefering, the onetime great master of social democratic campaigns said: It’s unfair to judge political parties after the election according to their campaign promises.

The fabricated battle of the political camps is a farce. Voters will have a déjà vu experience. After the election things will be the same in Germany as before the election, regardless which politicians or fractions of the German Unity Party form the government. Astonishingly, representatives of German business are quietly indicating a preference for an SPD-Green coalition government. The former head of the Federation of German Industry (BDI), Hans-Peter Keitel, recently said, “When a country needs to make political-economic reforms, it is better if the government does not have a political color that makes it suspicious of favoring business.” •

This article originally appeared in Junge Welt on March 21, 2013. Translation by Sam Putinja.

By Khan Wali Salarzai

ASADABAD: Nearly a dozen children have been killed and a number of women wounded in an International Security Assistance Force airstrike in the Shigal district of eastern Kunar province, officials said on Sunday.

The air raid came during a joint operation by Afghan and coalition forces in the Shulatan area of the district late on Saturday. At least seven women were among the injured, the governor’s spokesman said.

Wasifullah Wasifi told Pajhwok Afghan News 11 senior Taliban figures were killed and 10 others injured in the raid that left one coalition soldier dead and four local intelligence agents wounded.

But the district’s  administrative head, Abdul Zahir Sapi, alleged 11 children had also been killed. Reporters who visited the scene saw the children’s bodies. The victims were aged between two months and seven years, Sapi said.

He added the Taliban were meeting inside the house which under bombardment. Taliban commander Ali Khan and his relatives were killed when his residence was struck, Sapi explained.

The raid came after the guerrillas fired at the joint force, which asked them to surrender.

A dweller of Shultan, Shah Mohammad, put the civilian toll at 22 dead and wounded. He said the houses of three brothers Ali Khan, Sharifullah and Behram Said had been bombed.

Earlier in the day, Asadabad Civil Hospital Director Dr. Farooq Sahak confirmed receiving five injured women from the valley. They were in stable condition, he said.

Resident Noor Mohammad, who accompanied the women to the hospital, said the area had come under intense bombardment. He feared heavy casualties in the airstrike that lasted several hours.

Approached for comments, the NATO-led force said: “We are still investigating the reports. We are aware of reports that civilians were injured during an operation. We take all reports of civilian injuries seriously and coalition officials are looking into this operation to ascertain the facts.”

On the other hand, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi acknowledged the loss of six ordinary fighters in the air raid. He claimed several women and children had been killed in the strike.

In face-to-face fighting, 10 American troops were killed, he said, adding the insurgents also stormed the district centre and a security checkpoint.

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The effects of the sequestration order signed by President Obama on March 1 began to be felt in earnest beginning April 1. The $85 billion cut in federal spending through September 30 will affect federal workers’ jobs across a wide range of government departments and will impose deep cutbacks to education, housing and many social programs and services, which are depended on by millions of working-class families. 

Over one million federal workers are set to begin unpaid furloughs this month, amounting to pay cuts of anywhere from 20 to 30 percent. Sequestration has also prompted the extension of a pay freeze already in force for federal workers. The cuts will result in the equivalent of 750,000 full-time job losses throughout the economy, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Other projections place the job losses as high as 2 million with the cuts reducing the gross domestic product by 0.6 percent this year.

Even as the US Labor Department announced last week that the number of people applying for jobless benefits had jumped to a four-month high, extended unemployment benefits are being cut by about 11 percent as a result of the sequester. As just one example, 99,000 unemployed workers in Pennsylvania will see their benefits cut by 10.7 percent, while some 2,700 in the state may lose their benefits altogether.

The devastating impact of sequestration appears to be the “new normal,” serving as the model for future budget proposals for both big-business parties. On Wednesday, Barack Obama will formally present his fiscal year 2014 budget, which includes deep cuts to Medicare and other health programs, as well as an attack on the inflation adjustment for Social Security recipients. (See “Obama defends plan to cut Medicare and Social Security”)

Sequestration calls for cuts of $42.7 billion to discretionary defense spending, $28.7 billion in nondefense discretionary spending, $9.9 billion from Medicare, and $4 billion in other mandatory reductions. It is becoming clear that the cutbacks will have a devastating impact on workers and the poorest sections of society, who have already seen a drastic decline in living standards in the wake of the recession.

Nondiscretionary funding for the military is not affected by the sequester, leaving in place the vast military machine of the US, as it continues its occupation of Afghanistan and US officials ratchet up their threats against North Korea. The departments of Defense and Homeland Security have also been allowed some discretion in the implementation of civilian furloughs and other measures.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has also warned against sequester cuts that could hamper national security. “For intelligence, this is not quite like shorter hours for public parks or longer lines at the airports,” he told reporters Friday. “For intelligence, it’s insidious.”

While accommodations are certain to be made for the military-intelligence apparatus of US imperialism, for the vast majority of ordinary Americans in communities across the country, the sequester cutbacks are not negotiable.

Public education will see one of the biggest hits. The National Education Association estimates that about $3 billion will be cut from K-12 education, causing over 30,000 teachers and school faculty to lose their jobs. Well over a million students will feel the effects of sequestration, according to the NEA.

In California alone, the government will cut $87.6 million from primary and secondary schools, potentially putting 10,000 teaching jobs at risk and reducing funds for teaching and staff positions in special education. Some 96,000 low-income students will lose financial aid. A staggering $62.9 million of the cuts are to the budget for students with disabilities.

Head Start, the early childhood education program that provides free medical and dental care, meals and after-school activities, will see a five percent cut in funding for fiscal year 2013. How those cuts are to be implemented will be up to local administrators. According to the Office of Head Start, which administers the program, about 70,000 children across the country will lose access to the program.

Federal funding for Section 8 housing vouchers will be cut by $938 million, six percent below what is needed to maintain assistance to low-income households at current levels. This translates into 140,000 fewer low-income families receiving housing vouchers. Families on waiting lists for vouchers are already being told that they will not be eligible for assistance even if other families leave the program. The Huffington Post reports that the Huntsville, Alabama housing authority will be serving about 300 fewer people due to the cutback.

Some 600,000 low-income women and children served by the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are threatened with being thrown off the program. An array of programs providing nutrition assistance to seniors and the poor are feeling the pinch. The Salt Lake Community Action Program is closing its food pantry in Murray, Utah. The Meals on Wheels program in Tarrant County, Texas, which has lost $400,000 in cuts from state and local agencies since 2001, is facing a $100,000 sequester cutback.

Medicare payments to hospitals, doctors and other health care providers are being reduced by two percent across the board. Small community hospitals and clinics that serve large senior populations will carry more of this burden than larger hospital systems. One private practice in Manchester, Connecticut has already informed patients it will no longer be accepting Medicare patients, the Huffington Post reports, a situation that will undoubtedly be repeated at practices nationwide.

Due to a cut to Medicare reimbursement for expensive chemotherapy drugs, cancer clinics across the country have already begun to turn away thousands of Medicare patients, forcing them to seek treatment at hospitals, which may not be able to accommodate them and where care is more expensive. (See “US sequester cuts treatment for thousands of cancer patients”)

The Federal Aviation Administration has delayed until mid-June the closing of 149 airport control towers, but still plans to go forward with the plan, leaving pilots to fend for themselves on landing and takeoff at smaller regional airports. (See “US ‘sequester’ cuts shut 149 air traffic control towers”) In Massachusetts, five municipal airports will lose their towers and controllers as part of the $637 million sequestration cutback.

A $350 million cut to the federal court system could result in up to 2,000 staff being laid off or furloughed. Federal public defenders’ officers, whose budgets were cut by 5.17 percent in February, have been forced to cut another 5.52 percent. The Atlantic reports that the District of Arizona’s public defenders office has laid off 10 employees. Sequestration is also hampering the ability of public defenders to pay for translation services and psychiatric evaluations in their representation of indigent and mentally ill defendants.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which finances most medical research in the country, will see forced cuts of 5.1 percent, or $1.5 billion. Federal funding for the NIH has stalled at about $30 billion since 2010, meaning the effects of the sequester cuts amount to a cumulative funding reduction of 11.4 percent. (See “Thousands of scientists protest US cuts to medical research”)

After media reports that the Obama administration plans to slash Medicare and Social Security in its latest budget proposal due to be released Wednesday, government officials have been seeking to diffuse popular opposition to the cuts.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, Obama sought to portray the budget proposal, which slashes $1.2 trillion in spending over the course of ten years, as an unavoidable compromise in the face of intransigent demands by the Republicans. “While it’s not my ideal plan to further reduce the deficit, it’s a compromise I’m willing to accept in order to move beyond a cycle of short-term, crisis-driven decision-making… It includes ideas many Republicans have said they could accept as well.”

The Obama administration’s budget proposal, due to be released on Wednesday, will incorporate all of the spending cuts included in previous “Grand Bargain” proposals, including sharp cuts in Medicare, Social Security, federal worker pensions and other vital programs.

White House officials indicated in a press conference last week that the budget proposal will include $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over ten years, including $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and other health care programs and $130 billion from reducing inflation calculations linked to Social Security payments.

In the course of discussions over the “fiscal cliff” earlier this year, the administration publicly released a proposal that includes many other cuts—such as $35 billion in the “reform” of federal retirement programs, the ending of Saturday delivery for the US postal service, and increased fees for airline travel.

The White House budget will be the basis for further negotiations with Republicans, which will inevitably mean even more cuts.

The Medicare cuts will reportedly include means testing for recipients—a move that would transform it from a universal entitlement to an antipoverty program, in preparation for its gutting and ultimate destruction—and a cigarette tax, a regressive consumption tax. The means testing proposal in particular marks a sharp escalation in the attack on Medicare.

“The budget reflects his priorities within a budget world that is not ideal,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday, when the bill was announced. “It requires compromise, negotiation and a willingness to accept that you won’t get 100 percent of what you want.”

But even while seeking to blame the Republicans for the most draconian elements of his proposal, Obama was unapologetic in his calls for slashing entitlements, a proposal opposed by the overwhelming majority of the population. Obama defended the cuts as a way to strengthen a “rising, thriving middle class,” adding that he is in favor of “tough reforms required to strengthen Medicare for the future.”

Talk of “strengthening” Medicare is the standard Orwellian argument employed by both political parties to justify unpopular cuts.

According to the White House, the budget proposal will contain significantly more cuts than the Democratic-controlled Senate’s budget proposal. The Senate budget, which balances out spending cuts and revenue increases equally, was intended largely as political posturing.

As the Washington Post commented, “The budget request reflects Obama’s stark shift in strategy over the past month, as he has adopted a far more congenial posture toward the opposition.” Obama plans to sit down for dinner with Republicans Wednesday, within hours of the announcement of his budget.

Far from drawing the line at the cuts Obama has already proposed, Democratic Party leaders have indicated that the latest budget would be the stepping-stone toward further concessions to Republican demands. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee said, “From the Republican perspective, the president’s budget is the starting point for negotiation.”

Republicans responded positively to Obama’s proposal. “The president is showing a little bit of leg here, this is somewhat encouraging,” said South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. He added that Obama has “made a step forward in the entitlement-reform process that would allow a guy like me to begin to talk about flattening the tax code and generating more revenue.”

Publicly, Obama claims to be exchanging cuts to social programs for getting Republicans to agree to new sources of revenues, which the White House claims will come mostly from the wealthy. In reality, the White House proposal includes a variety of regressive taxes and funding measures, including a tax on cigarettes and a measure to block individuals from receiving unemployment insurance and disability payments at the same time.

As the White House has ever more openly come out in favor of cuts to the bedrock social programs, his professional “left” apologists have been mobilized in an attempt to channel popular opposition back behind Obama and the Democratic Party. On Monday the AFL-CIO published a statement urging those who oppose slashing Social Security to sign a petition urging Obama to reconsider its support for the cuts.

Calling the cuts “unconscionable,” the AFL-CIO’s statement concluded, “These cuts are bad policy. And the only way we’re going to stop them is if President Obama and all members of Congress hear that we’re not going to tolerate them.”

The Nation, the mouthpiece of what remains of American liberalism, was reserved in its opposition to the cuts, calling them “wrong economically, and politically.”

All of these forces had endorsed Obama for a second term, even after four years of war and austerity. Their central political function is to do whatever they can to prevent a break from the Democratic Party.

With the formal publication of Obama’s budget this week, Obama’s left apologists will be called on to diffuse the vast political opposition to cuts in Social Security and Medicare. But despite their best efforts, the administration’s assault on the most basic social rights of the US population must inevitably lead to mass opposition and social upheavals.

Atrocities in Afghanistan: A Troubling Timetable

April 9th, 2013 by Global Research News

By Voices Co-coordinators

Since April of 2009, Co-coordinators at Voices have maintained an Afghan Atrocities list by monitoring the news media and keeping track of instances where the US government or ISAF have admitted to killing civilians in Afghanistan. We are grateful to our interns who converted this data into visual format so that we can look for patterns in the ISAF attacks.

We ask the questions: Why has ISAF consistently pursued a nationwide policy in Afghanistan which has led to increased civilian casualties and is likely to stir up further resistance and violence? Even as the Obama administration talks about withdrawing in 2014, is there is an unspoken interest in destabilizing the country to provide an excuse for a continued military, diplomatic and contractor presence?

A note about the graphs:

Our sources for the Afghan Atrocities Timetable have come only from the mainstream news in instances where civilian casualties were admitted. The data does not address the hypocrisy of the Obama administration’s policy of counting all military aged men as insurgents unless they are posthumously proved innocent nor the likely cover up of incidents that were never reported in the mainstream media. Furthermore, during the period included in the timetable, Gen. John Allen of the US Army admitted to ISAF having conducted as many as 2200 night raids within one year. Given the frequency of night raids and the lack of transparency involved in such operations, the number of civilian casualties must be much higher than the official figures. We also did not include statistics from human rights organizations about the number of prisoners who may have died while in ISAF custody at prisons like the infamous facility at Bagram Air Force Base.


Date: April 7, 2013

Place: Shigal District of Kunar Province

Circumstances: Eleven children and one woman were killed by a NATO airstrike on houses in the Shigal District. Mohammad Zahir Safai, the Shigal district chief, said the woman and the children were killed when the houses collapsed on them. A Reuters journalist saw bodies of 11 children when they were taken to Safai’s office in protest by their families and other villagers on Sunday.

NATO/ISAF response: Captain Luca Carniel, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said they were aware of reports of civilian casualties and were assessing the incident.


Date: March 30, 2013

Place: Ghazni district, Ghazni province

Circumstances: Senior police detective Colonel Mohammad Hussain said one school-age child and nine Taliban were killed in the air strike.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: “We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously. Afghan and ISAF officials are assessing the incident.”,0,29875.story


Date: March 26, 2013

Place: Sejewand village of the Logar province

Circumstances: Reuters reports that Afghan and international special forces staged a night raid in the Sejewand village of the Logar province in which five civilians died, four of whom were children.

The Afghan defense ministry said there were no civilian deaths. Reuters television footage taken in the village showed the bodies of three children.


Date: March 11, 2013

Place: Between Kabul and Bagram

Circumstances: In the convoy shooting, U.S. forces spokesman Jamie Graybeal said the Afghan driver failed to heed instructions to stop as his truck came close to the American convoy near Kabul. “The convoy took appropriate measures to protect themselves and engaged the vehicle, killing two individuals and injuring one,” Graybeal said in an email. He said an assessment is underway. Associated Press video shows a U.S. major cursing at one of his soldiers and slapping him over the head with his cap as Afghans pulled dead bodies from the truck. In the video, the major appears to be upbraiding the soldier for not using a laser warning device to signal the approaching truck.

The two dead men were employees of a company that repairs police vehicles, said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi. Another man was wounded in the shooting, said Col. Mohammad Alim, the police commander overseeing Kabul highways.


Date: February 28, 2013

Place: Lowar-e-Dowahom, Shahid-e-Hasas district, Uruzgan province

Circumstances: NATO said its forces had accidentally shot dead two Afghan boys. U.S. General Joseph Dunford offered his personal apologies to the families.


Date: February 13, 2012

Place: Chawgam Village, Shigal District, Kunar Province

Circumstances: At least 10 civilians, 5 of them children and 4 adult women, were killed in air strikes carried out by NATO forces on two separate houses in the village. An additional 5 children were badly wounded in the blasts. Some local officials are also claiming that 3-5 Taliban fighters were killed in the strikes.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: They are “looking into the circumstances” of the incident.


Date: February 12, 2013

Place: Spin Boldak district, Kandahar Province

Circumstances: During daylight hours on a heavily traveled highway, NATO-led forces opened fire on an oncoming car because it failed to stop when signaled to do so. One civilian died in the gunfire, 3 more civilians were injured.


Date: December 7, 2012

Place: Sherzad District of Nangarhar Province

Circumstances: NATO has admitted killing three Afghan civilians during an unspecified military operation at a wedding in which they arrested 7 insurgents. Afghan official sources accused NATO of killing at least 5 civilians.


Date: December 6, 2012

Place: Nuristan Province

Circumstances: Five civilians, all members of the same family, were killed in an ISAF bombing, according to local authorities.


Date: November 12, 2012

Place: Baraki Barak District of Central Logar Province

Circumstances: Three civilians were killed during an ISAF drone strike in the Baraki Barak district of central Logar province on Monday, residents and the provincial council head said. The boys, all below the age of 16, were working on their carrot farm. Village elders later took their bodies to the governor’s office as a mark of protest.


Date: October 29, 2012

Place: Qalai-i-Qazi area of Ghazni Province

Circumstances: An Afghan special forces unit along with NATO forces killed three civilian bystanders in a night raid. Villagers at the funeral of the civilians told reporters that the civiians included a farmer, his wife and their 14-year-old son.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: NATO said in an announcement that the raid targeted a Taliban leader and that the force was attacked by insurgents carrying assault rifles and returned fire, killing a number of them. It did not mention the number of Taliban killed or civilians.


Date: October 20, 2012

Place: Baraki Barak District of Logar Province

Circumstances: A NATO airstrike killed four children, according to a Reuters report. The children were said to be tending livestock.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: A spokeswoman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was aware of possible ISAF-related civilian casualties from the October 20 operation. On Wednesday, October 23rd, the New York Times reported that international forces apologized for the deaths of the four children.


Date: October 15, 2012

Place: Nawa District, Helmand Province

Circumstances: Afghan officials said Monday that a NATO air strike killed three children while it was targeting Taliban insurgents planting mines on a road in southern Afghanistan.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed an air strike in Helmand province’s Nawa district on Sunday, saying that three insurgents died and it was investigating reports that children were also killed. (AFP)


Date: September 16, 2012

Place: Alingar District, Laghman Province

Circumstances: A NATO airstrike killed eight women, according to an Agence France Press report. Eight more were wounded. The women were said to have been out on the mountain collecting firewood.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: NATO’s U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) initially said it had called in an air strike against about 45 insurgents in Laghman “after positively identifying hostile intent” and that “a large number of the insurgents” were killed. Later, Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the ISAF international forces, said ISAF had been made aware of “possible ISAF-caused civilian casualties” numbering five to eight, extending its sincerest condolences over the “tragic loss of life”.(BBC)


Date: July 2, 2012

Place: Charkh District, Logar Province

Circumstances: An Afghan provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh says a NATO airstrike has killed three civilian shopkeepers in the east of the country.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: A spokesman for the coalition says initial reports of the strike do not suggest any civilian deaths.


Date: June 6, 2012

Place: Logar province, Baraki Barak district

Circumstances: NATO soldiers ordered an airstrike on a house in Sajawand village leaving 18 civilians dead, including four women, two old men, three teenage boys and nine young children

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: On June 6, NATO confirmed the deaths of “multiple insurgents” but reported no civilian fatalities. On June 8, General John Allen flew to the village to apologize to the families. “I know that no apology can bring back the lives of the children or the people who perished in this tragedy and this accident, but I want you to know that you have my apology and we will do the right thing by the families.”


Date: May 27, 2012

Place: Paktia province, Gerda Serai district

Circumstances: A drone strike killed four teenage boys, two teenage girls, and two women, and wounded two others.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: The coalition was looking into the alleged incident, but “so far had seen no evidence of civilian casualties”.


Date: May 8, 2012

Place: Bala Murghab district, Badghis province

Circumstances: Reports from the Bala Murghab district of the northwestern Badghis province state Sunday, that NATO airstrike’s killed as many as 14 civilians. Badghis provincial governor Dilbar Jan Arman says that there were multiple civilian deaths, but no exact number has emerged.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: A spokesman for NATO-led troops in Kabul said the coalition was aware of the allegations of civilian casualties in the provinces.


Date: May 7, 2012

Place: Sangin district of Helmand province

Circumstances: Six civilians were killed as aircrafts of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) targeted a suspected hideout of Taliban militants. The victims, according to the statement, include two boys, three girls and a woman, all from same family.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: A spokesman for the United States military in Helmand, Lt. Col. Stewart Upton, said, “We don’t have any issues with the governor’s statement.” He said American officials had been aware of the deaths and had immediately started an investigation.


Date: March 16, 2012

Place: Hassian Khail, Bagrami district of Kabul

Circumstances: An ISAF military helicopter crashed into a house, killing all soldiers on board and four Afghan civilians on the ground. The Afghan ministry reports that two of the civilians were young girls.

The vast majority of Afghans want ISAF troops to leave. When ISAF insists on keeping troops and helicopters in the country, and particularly in civilian areas, any resulting civilian death, accidental or not, constitutes more than negligence. It is an act of aggression to compel a population to live under conditions of heightened risk.

NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: Commander of ISAF, Gen. John R. Allen, said, “my deepest sympathies go out to the families of these ISAF service members and the Afghan civilians who died as a result of this unfortunate incident.”

NATO/ISAF have not paid and show no intention of paying compensation to the family or to the community.


Date: March 11, 2012

Place: Panjway district of Kandahar

Circumstances: A United States service member walked out of a military base in and opened fire on three nearby houses, killing at least 16 civilians, including 3 women and 9 children. At least five people were wounded. There were conflicting reports of how many shooters were involved, with U.S. officials asserting that a lone soldier was responsible, in contrast to witnesses’ accounts that several U.S. soldiers were present. Neighbors and relatives of the dead said they had seen a group of U.S. soldiers arrive at their village in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district at about 2 a.m., enter homes and open fire. Later, Reuters quoted a witness who said the soldiers then “poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them.”

US/NATO Response/Acknowledgement: NATO officials apologized for the shootings but did not confirm that anyone was killed, referring instead to reports of deaths. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said an investigation was under way and that “the individual or individuals responsible for this act will be identified and brought to justice.”


Date: March 9, 2012

Circumstances: Four Afghans were killed and three wounded when NATO/ISAF coalition helicopters apparently hunting Taliban insurgents fired instead on villagers, according to Abdul Hakim Akhondzada, governor of Tagab district in Kapisa.

US/NATO Response/Acknowledgement: none


Date: February 9, 2012

Place: Najrab district, Eastern Kapisa province.

Circumstances: Mehrabuddin Safi, the governor of Kapisa, said a coalition air strike late on Wednesday killed eight children in Giawa village. Other Afghan officials had earlier said the strike followed a night raid on suspected insurgents.

US/NATO Initial Response/Acknowledgement: “The aircraft dropped two bombs on the group that we believed to be an imminent threat to our people,” Boone told reporters in Kabul. “Despite all tactical directives being followed precisely, we now know the unfortunate result of this engagement. In the end, eight young Afghans lost their lives in this very sad event.” — Army Brig. Gen. Lewis Boone, director of public affairs


Date: January 16, 2012

Place: Chawkay district, Kunar province

Circumstances: The governor of Kunar province said that during a night raid on January 16, NATO forces killed 5 civilians during a “kill-and-capture raid” as coalition helicopters fired into a compound. Among the 5 were 1 woman and 2 children.

US/NATO Initial Response/Acknowledgement: On Wednesday, January 18, NATO issued a statement stating that they were aware of a military operation in the Chawkay district of Kunar province on Monday and were checking into the report.


Date November 23, 2011

Place Zhare district, Kandahar Province

Circumstances Six children were among seven civilians killed in a NATO airstrike in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Thursday. The deaths occurred on Wednesday in the Zhare district of Kandahar Province, an area described by coalition forces as largely pacified in recent months, and two insurgents were also killed, the Afghan officials said.

U.S. Nato Initial/acknowledgement A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Master Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, said the authorities were aware of the strike and had sent a team to the district to investigate. He said the assistance force had not previously issued a news release on the deaths.


Date August 25, 2011

Place Baraki Barak district, Logar Province

Circumstances Another NATO air strike has killed a number of civilians today in the Logar Province. The attack, which took place shortly after midnight, came after a clash between NATO troops on the ground and Taliban in the Baraki Barak District, and left six civilians dead. This latest attack came after the firefight with Taliban but was termed a “retaliation” attack. That the attack retaliated against a civilian home and killed an entire family appears to them only a minor detail.

U.S. NATO Initial/acknowledgement NATO confirmed the attack but said they could not confirm the death toll. They did, however, say foreign forces were “looking into the matter,” while insisting that NATO is taking every measure possible to prevent civilian deaths.


Date August 6, 2011

Place Nad Ali district, Wardak Province

Circumstances “In the southern Helmand province, an Afghan government official said that NATO troops attacked a house and inadvertently killed eight members of a family, including women and children.” The killing occurred during a battle between NATO forces and insurgents when NATO called an airstrike on the house where the family lived.

U.S. NATO Initial/acknowledgement NATO said that Taliban fighters fired rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire at coalition troops during a patrol Friday in the Nad Ali district. “Coalition forces responded with small arms fire and as the incident continued, an air strike was employed against the insurgent position,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a NATO spokesman. He added that NATO sent a delegation to meet with local leaders and investigate the incident.”


Date July 28, 2011

Place Singin district of Uruzgan province

Circumstances Originally ISAF/NATO forces said he was killed during an attack by insurgents on government buildings in Tarin Kot, in the southern province of Uruzgan, while hiding inside an office of the Radio Television of Afghanistan. Khpalwak is the third Pajhwok, a local news agency, journalist to have been killed since 2008, the agency said.

U.S. NATO Initial response/acknowledgement NATO-led international forces in Afghanistan admitted September 7, 2011 that an Afghan journalist originally thought to have been killed by insurgents in Uruzgan province had in fact been killed by an international soldier in a case of mistaken identity. “Mr Khpalwak was shot by an ISAF member who believed he was an insurgent that posed a threat and was about to detonate a suicide-vest IED,” NATO said in a statement late September 8, 2011.


Date July 26, 2011

Place Kapisa Province

Circumstances “President Karzai has condemned the killing by Nato troops of three civilians travelling in a car in Kapisa province, north of Kabul.”,br/>

U.S. NATO Initial/acknowledgement “The dead included a pregnant woman and a child. French soldiers opened fire on their vehicle late on Tuesday when it did not stop as it approached them, Nato said. French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet expressed “deep sorrow” over the deaths but said the soldiers had acted in self defence as the car had failed to stop despite repeated warnings.”


Date July 12, 2011

Place Azra district of Logar province

Circumstances The International News reports that a NATO air strike left up to 12 civilians dead in eastern Afghanistan and quotes police chief Bakhtiar Gul saying that “Twelve civilians, including women and children, were killed last night when NATO planes targeted two houses.” He added that the bodies of four Taliban insurgents had been recovered from the rubble. Provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwish said only that an “unknown” number of civilians were killed, along with seven Taliban.

U.S. NATO Initial response/acknowledgement NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said they had killed “numerous” insurgents in the strike.


Date July 6, 2011

Place Ghazni Province

Circumstances “ISAF said it was looking into allegations by Afghan residents that one of its air strikes had killed two young shepherds in Ghazni, a restive province southwest of Kabul. Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday to protest about the deaths of the two young shepherds they said were killed by foreign forces.”

U.S. NATO Initial response “ISAF said it had carried out an air raid in Khogyani district in Ghazni but that only one insurgent had been killed who had been planting a bomb. “Although operational reporting indicates that only the insurgent targeted was killed, ISAF takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and, in conjunction with the Afghan government, makes every effort to address them,” ISAF said in a statement. It said it had launched an investigation into the incident together with the Afghan Interior Ministry.”


Date July 5, 2011

Place Shamal district, Khost province

Circumstances “The NATO-led force in Afghanistan said Thursday it had accidentally killed a number of civilians in an air strike earlier this week. Eleven people, including four insurgents, were killed in the air strike Tuesday night in the Shamal district of eastern Khost province, prompting angry street protests, said police chief Sarder Zazai.”

U.S. NATO Initial response/acknowledgement “A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)said the air strike had killed “several” insurgents but that “a number of associated family members” had also been accidentally killed. “At the time it was unknown to the security forces that those insurgents were operating among women and children,” The ISAF spokesman said, adding it was unclear how many insurgents and civilians had been killed. The deaths sparked a protest by several hundred Afghans, who burnt an unknown effigy, in Sayed Khel village in the Shamal district Thursday.”


Date: May 29, 2011

Place: Helmand Province

Circumstances: “An air strike called in by NATO-led troops in southern Afghanistan killed 12 children and two women, Afghan officials said on Sunday, one of the worst civilian death tolls by foreign forces in months. A U.S. Marine base came under fire from insurgents in Taliban stronghold of Helmand on Saturday, the Helmand governor said in a statement, leading the base to call for help from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). “ISAF’s air strike took place on two civilian houses. Unfortunately 14 innocent civilians were killed and six civilians wounded,” the Helmand governor’s statement said. It said seven boys, five girls and two women were among the dead. Three children were among the six wounded, it said.”

U.S. NATO Initial response: “An ISAF spokesman in Kabul said: “We are aware of the reports that alleged civilians were killed yesterday in Helmand.” He said an assessment team had been sent to the area and would issue its findings shortly.”


Date: May 15, 2011

Place: Eastern Kunar Province, Ghazi Abad District

Circumstances: According to Reuters “Faziullah Wahidi, governor of Kunar, said a group of girls had been collecting firewood near an insurgent hideout and were struck when ISAF troops that had come under attack returned fire. A 10-year-old girl was killed and four others wounded. The artillery fired by the ISAF convoy hit the girls who were close to the insurgents.”

US/NATO initial response: “The varying claims of civilian casualties around this incident are the reason ISAF is looking into this,” said U.S. Army Col. Hans E. Bush, chief of ISAF Joint Command Public Affairs.


Date: May 14, 2011

Place: Western Nangahar Province in the Hesarak District

Circumstances: According to the New York Times (May 14, 2011), the district governor, Abdul Khalid was concerned about the possibility of an attack by the Taliban on the government center and called the local Afghan security forces. “At the same time, there was a raid, he said. ‘American forces did an operation and mistakenly killed a fourth-grade student; he had gone to sleep in his field and had a shotgun next to him, he said.’ The local residents told the reporter that the boy was 15 years old, but in a lower grade because he was unable to attend school regularly.

“People keep shotguns with them for hunting, not for any other purposes,” Mr. Khalid said. More than 200 villagers protested the boy’s death, marching with his body to the district center and the police killed a 14-year-old boy and another person was wounded according to Mr. Khalid during the protest.

U.S./NATO initial response/acknowledgement: A NATO spokesman apologized for the child’s death.


Date: May 12, 2011

Place: Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar province

Circumstances: According to the New York Times, (May 13, 2011), a 12-year-old girl, Nelofar, was sleeping outside with her family early in the morning on May 12. “A raid by NATO troops singled out the wrong house, and she was killed along with her uncle, who was the target of the raid, because he was incorrectly believed to be a local Taliban leader. NATO apologized for its error.”

“My daughter, who was sleeping with us in the courtyard, was hit by the bomb’s shrapnel in her head,” aid Mr. Mohammed, a survivor of the attack, “and she died on the spot.”

U.S./NATO initial response/acknowledgement: NATO had issued a May 12 statement saying that she had been shot. “An individual ran out the back of the compound toward the outer security perimeter and was killed when the security force mistakenly identified what they suspected was a weapon on the individual,” it said. “Later, the force discovered the individual was an unarmed Afghan female adolescent.”

The uncle, Shukrullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, was a police officer; he had recently been transferred to Surkhrod District, where the raid occurred. He was 25 and had a wife and two daughters, said Mr. Mohammed, who was his brother-in-law and in whose home he was staying.

Rear Adm. Harold Pittman, NATO’s deputy chief of staff for communications, apologized for the deaths.


Date: April 20, 2011

Place: Kunar province

Circumstances: “Local officials in the Dangam District of Afghanistan’s restive Kunar Province have confirmed that at least three civilians were killed in an overnight air strike by NATO warplanes. The strike targeted a gathering of “suspected militants” but also killed civilians in the house. The Provincial Governor said that the strike killed 17 people in total, and that two civilian women and a child were slain in the strike.”

U.S. NATO Initial response: “NATO confirmed the attack but said it was still investigating exactly who was killed.”


Date: April 6, 2011

Place: Kabul

Circumstances: a spokesman for the Kabul Police Chief said, “British troops killed two Afghan civilians in a car accident in western Kabul and shot dead a third man when local people tried to prevent them leaving the scene of the accident. According to the spokesman “A British military vehicle killed two women in a road accident and when people tried stop them (leaving), they shot and killed another man.” He said the shooting also wounded a child who was in the area.”

U.S. NATO Initial response: “An International Security Assistance Force three-vehicle convoy was involved in an accident in Kabul today in which one Afghan civilian was killed and two wounded, according to initial reporting. No shots were fired by ISAF service members.”


Date: April 5, 2011

Place: Sar-e Pul province

Circumstances: “NATO troops killed six civilians during a night raid on a house in northern Afghanistan’s Sar-e Pul province late, the provincial governor told Reuters.” “NATO troops descended from a helicopter, killing six innocent men and detained four,” the governor of the province said.

U.S. NATO Initial response: “The NATO-led force said soldiers on a joint operation with Afghan troops had killed five men who were armed and opened fire on them. They are investigating the identity of the dead men, a spokesman said.”


Date: March 31, 2011

Place: Kandahar province

Circumstances: “According to reports, NATO troops opened fire into traffic in Kandahar after a civilian car’s brakes failed near a checkpoint, which they assumed was a suicide attack. The hail of NATO bullets killed two teenage boys and wounded at least two others.”

U.S. NATO Initial response: “NATO-led forces said they had opened fire in self-defense after a civilian car veered across a ditch and struck at least three members of a foot patrol.

After the troops opened fire, the car went into the ditch and flipped over, killing the passenger and a nearby pedestrian and wounding two other civilians, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement. Civilian casualties caused by foreign troops have long been a source of tension between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western allies. They also anger Afghans, complicating efforts to win their support for a war that has brought only misery for most ordinary people. The incident is still being assessed, the statement added, but it comes in a sensitive area — the U.S. has poured troops into Kandahar to try to win back control of the Taliban stronghold and there has been bitter fighting in districts around the city — and at a sensitive time.”


Date: March 25, 2011

Place: Helmand province

Circumstances: “A NATO airstrike targeting Taliban fighters Friday accidentally killed seven civilians, including three children, in the southern province of Helmand, one of the most insecure regions in the country, Afghan officials said. Afghan officials in Helmand said the dead included two men, two women and three children. Three more children and two adults were wounded, the Helmand governor’s office said in a statement late Saturday.”

U.S. NATO Initial response: “NATO officials are investigating the episode. It occurred in the Now Zad district when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force called in an airstrike on two vehicles believed to be carrying a Taliban leader and his associates. A NATO team assessing the damage discovered the civilians after the airstrike. NATO officials have not disclosed how many civilians were killed and wounded, and did not say whether suspected Taliban were among the casualties.”

NATO acknowledgement “A British Reaper drone has killed at least four civilians and wounded two others in an attack in the Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, the first time British Drones are confirmed to have killed civilians in the nation. The attack reportedly targeted “insurgent leaders” in the restive province, and British military officials insist that the killings are a result of “intelligence failures” and not any problem with the drone fleet, which they hope to dramatically increase the size of. Incredibly, the attack came three months ago, in late March, and targeted a pair of pick up trucks. It is only now that the killings have become public knowledge and Britain expressed “deep regret” over the deaths.”


Date: March 23, 2011

Place: Khost province

Circumstances: “A NATO helicopter gunship inadvertently killed two civilians while attacking suspected insurgents in the eastern province of Khost, NATO announced Thursday. Khost provincial police chief Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai said at least one of the civilians was a child.”

U.S. NATO Initial/acknowledgement: “The attack targeted a Haqqani network leader in Tere Zayi district on Wednesday, according to NATO. At the time of the strike, two civilians were walking near the moving targeted vehicle, NATO said. They were previously unseen by coalition forces prior to the initiation of the airstrike. Unfortunately both were killed as an unintended result of the strike.”


Date: March 9, 2011

Place: Kandahar province

Circumstances: “A relative of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been mistakenly killed by Nato troops in southern Afghanistan, officials say.” “The raid occurred in the southern province of Kandahar, in the rural village of Karz, the Karzai clan’s ancestral home. The slain man was Yar Mohammed Karzai, 60, a lifelong resident of the village. The death was confirmed by the president’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, the chairman of Kandahar Province’s provincial council, who said the killing was a mistake.”

U.S. NATO Initial response: “A NATO spokesman said the force was “aware of conflicting reports about the identities of those involved and has initiated an inquiry to determine the facts.”


Date: March 1st, 2011

Place: Kunar province

Circumstances: “Nine children were killed during a fresh air raid by foreign troops in Manogai district of eastern Kunar province on Tuesday, residents claimed. The dead were children, aged between 10 and 15, who were collecting firewood in the remote valley, resident Gul Nabi told Pajhwok Afghan News. He feared the death toll could be higher.”

U.S. NATO Acknowledgement: “Preliminary findings from a Joint Incident Assessment Team indicate that International Security Assistance Forces accidentally killed nine civilians in Darah-Ye Pech district, Kunar province yesterday. The incident occurred following insurgent rocket attacks on FOB Blessing. Coalition forces returned fire at the assessed point of origin with indirect and aerial fire. Regrettably there appears to have been an error in the hand-off between identifying the location of the insurgents and the attack helicopters that carried out subsequent operations. “We are deeply sorry for this tragedy and apologize to the members of the Afghan government, the people of Afghanistan and most importantly, the surviving family members of those killed by our actions,” said General David. H. Petraeus, Commander of International Security Assistance Force. “These deaths should have never happened and I will personally apologize to President Karzai when he returns from his trip to London this week.” “This event is particularly distressing given the recent direction I gave to commanders to review our tactical directive that is intended to reduce civilian casualties to the absolute minimum,” said Gen.Petraeus. “Regardless of the outcome of this investigation, I have ordered all ISAF leaders and members of ISAF attack helicopter crews to be re-briefed on the tactical directive, reinforcing the need to be sure we protect the lives of innocent Afghans as we pursue a ruthless enemy.” ISAF accepts full responsibility for this tragedy and will continue to thoroughly investigate this incident to understand why this happened and try to prevent this from happening in the future. Should the facts of the investigation warrant it, appropriate action, including disciplinary action if necessary, will be taken.”

Names of the nine children killed, plus one injured:

13 yr old Khalid s/o Bismillah
10 yr old Abid s/o Bismillah
10 yr old Khalid s/o Ahmad Khan
12 year old Zialrahman s/o Nisbah
11 yr old Jawad s/o Sabhanullah
11 yr old Ihsanullah s/o Sabhanullah
7 yr old Shahidullah s/o Rahman
11 yr old Jawed s/o Wali Mohammad
10 yr old Umra Khan s/o Safiullah
10 yr old Umad s/o Shir Mohammad was injured


Date: February 24, 2011

Place: Kapisa province

Circumstances: “Five Afghan civilians in the deseprately poor Kapisa Province were killed today by NATO troops while they were out hunting. NATO saw them, Three men with bird-hunting rifles and two boys (aged 12 and 13), assumed they were insurgents, killing them.”

U.S. “NATO Initial response: NATO has promised an “investigation” into the killings but initially termed all the slain insurgents, even though the two children were unarmed and the others had bird hunting gear, not exactly the insurgency’s weapons of choice. They insisted, however, that hunting is officially banned in Kapisa, specifically to prevent this sort of “accidental” killing. Though this is true, food is said to be in short supply in the province this winter, so many are turning to hunting anyhow in an effort to survive.”


Date: February 23, 2011

Place: Marjeh District, Helmand Province

Circumstances: At least one Afghan civilian was killed in a NATO attack targeting militants in Helmand province. U.S. NATO Initial response: “Afghan and coalition forces received small-arms fire from an unknown number of insurgents during a dismounted patrol in Marjeh district, Helmand province, yesterday. Coalition forces gained positive identification and returned fire. Following the engagement, coalition forces discovered one Afghan civilian was killed. ISAF is currently looking into the incident to determine how the civilian died.”


Date: February 17-18

Place: Kunar province

Circumstances: “The NATO airstrike accused of causing civilian casualties involved helicopters and F-15 jets and took place late Thursday night and into the early morning on Friday in the Ghaziabad district of Kunar Province. NATO and Afghan officials agree that the area is heavily infiltrated by insurgents. Beyond that, their accounts differ on almost every aspect of the raid. The Kunar governor, Said Fazlullah Wahidi, said that officials had not been able to visit the area to independently evaluate the casualty claims because it was too insecure, but that reports from residents indicated that women and children were killed as well as some insurgents. “According to our information 64 people were killed: 13 armed opposition, 22 women, 26 boys and 3 old men,” Mr. Wahidi said. President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the attack, saying he had spoken with provincial authorities and elders several times in the last two days and was told that the dead and wounded included women and children.

U.S. NATO Initial response: “The NATO account said the assault began around 7 p.m. Thursday and lasted for five hours. The target was Taliban fighters who were gathering on a hillside, said Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, the strategic communications chief. After reviewing footage of the assault and intelligence, he said that he saw no sign that civilians or civilian houses were attacked, but that it was not possible to rule it out entirely.”


Date: February 20, 2011

Place: Nangarhar province

Circumstances: “The International Security Assistance Force is investigating an operation conducted in Nangarhar province yesterday that resulted in Afghan civilians being accidentally killed and wounded. Coalition forces observed three insurgents placing an improvised explosive device along a road. After gaining positive identification, coalition forces engaged the enemy. Following the engagement,coalition forces observed three vehicles traveling to a local hospital. The passengers of the vehicles later reported the roof of their compound collapsed during the engagement, resulting in the casualties.”

U.S. NATO Initial /acknowledgement: “This is a deeply regrettable accident,” said U.S. Army Col. Patrick Hynes, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. “We are investigating this tragic incident to find out how it happenedto try and prevent it from happening again. We will meet with local leaders in the area and ensure they understand what happened. Our thoughts and concerns are with the families.”


Date: February 8, 2011

Place: Alishang District of Laghman Province

Circumstances: “Coalition forces are investigating an incident where one Afghan civilian was killed and four received minor injuries during an engagement with insurgents emplacing improvised explosives devices near the Watangatu School in Alishang District of Laghman Province.”

U.S. NATO Initial response: “The Coalition unit fired several mortars at the insurgents to stop them from emplacing the IED once they had positively identified their intent. Preliminary reports indicate that one of the rounds may have caused the civilian casualty.


Date: February 3, 2011

Place: Lashkar Ghar district, Helmand province

Circumstances: “The International Security Assistance Force is currently assessing an incident in Lashkar Ghar district, Helmand province, in which two Afghan civilians were accidentally killed and one injured.”

U.S. NATO Initial response: “According to initial reports an ISAF unit received small-arms fire, while transiting between two forward operating bases. The unit returned fire at a van which they believed was part of the attack. Following the engagement, ISAF forces found two dead civilians and one wounded civilian in the van. The wounded civilian was evacuated to an ISAF medical facility.” More investigation is underway, ISAF said.


Date: January 31, 2011

Place: Pusht-e Rod district, Farah province

Circumstances: “Coalition forces conducted a precision airstrike against several insurgents, resulting in one local male being killed along with two armed insurgents being wounded in Pusht-e Rod district, Farah province yesterday.”

U.S. NATO Initial response/acknowledgement: “Following the airstrike,a follow-on security force speaking with local villagers confirmed one local was killed in the airstrike and two armed insurgents were injured.”


Date: January 5, 2011

Place: Wardak province

Circumstances: “US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan have killed two Afghan villagers during an operation in the eastern Wardak province,witnesses say. Locals reported that the foreign troops killed two civilians in Adam Kheil village of the war-torn country on Wednesday.” “Civilian casualties have been also a frequent source of tensions between Kabul and the foreign forces. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly urged the United States to pay more attention to the protection of civilian lives during military operations. The United Nations says the death toll of Afghan civilians this year is 20 percent higher than in 2009, with over 2,400 civilians killed in the country from January to September.”,%20Policeman%20Killed%20in%20War%20Attacks,%20Anti-US%20Rally%20%20in%20Ghazni,%20January%205,%202011.htm

U.S./NATO initial response: “NATO says the two Afghan nationals wereTaliban members.”,%20Policeman%20Killed%20in%20War%20Attacks,%20Anti-US%20Rally%20%20in%20Ghazni,%20January%205,%202011.htm


Date: January 5, 2011

Place: Nawar district of Ghazni province

Circumstances: “Three civilians were killed in an overnight raid in the Nawar district of the Ghazni province when NATO soldiers targeted them. Angry tribesmen from the region arrived in the provincial capital with the bodies, protesting and demanding US apologies for the killings. Provincial Intelligence Chief Sayyed Amir Shah confirmed that the slain were civilians and promised to take up the issue with the US military. Most such killings, however, result in little more than an expression of vague “regret.””

U.S./NATO initial response: NATO declined any comments on those killings, but issued a report relating to night raids in the nearby Rashidan Province, claiming they had killed “over a dozen” insurgents, but no civilians in the attacks on five buildings. It is unclear, then, if the three killed today were from those attacks or a separate, as yet unannounced attack.


Date: December 21, 2010

Place: Sangin district of Helmand province

Circumstances: “NATO says it is investigating the death of five civilians killed when Coalition forces returned fire against insurgents shooting from a compound in the Sangin district of Helmand.”

U.S./NATO initial response: “The dead civilians were found after the end of an exchange of fire with insurgents, a NATO statement said Tuesday. It did not say when the firefight took place. NATO forces, most of them from the United States, are waging a campaign against the Taliban in Helmand province in southwestern Afghanistan. Most of the fighting is taking place in the Sangin section.”


Date: December 14, 2010

Place: Helmand province

Circumstances: “NATO aircraft accidentally killed an Afghan civilianand wounded two children, the coalition said Wednesday, the latest incident involving civilian casualties which have strained ties between Kabul and Washington.”

U.S./NATO initial response/acknowledgement: “The International Security Assistance Force is sending a joint incident assessment team to Helmand province to assess an incident in which coalition aircraft accidentally killed an Afghan civilian and wounded two children in a close air support mission yesterday.” “We are here to protect the Afghan people and initial indications are that in this case we may have failed,” said Brig. Gen. Tim Zadalis, ISAF Joint Command director of air plans/projects and assessment team leader. “Our thoughts and concerns are with the families of the victims of this unfortunate accident.”


Date: December 11, 2010

Place: Zarmat district in Paktia province

Circumstances: “At least seven Afghan civilians have been killed during the latest spate of US-led air strike in Afghanistan amid the rise in civilian casualties in the war-torn country. The attack took place in Zarmat district in Paktia province on Saturday as a group of Afghan road construction workers were working on a project, a Press TV correspondent reported. Reports say local people have gathered at the site of the attack and there is extreme anger over the event.”

U.S./NATO initial response: “The security force … is currently assessing who the individuals were, why they were armed and why they were in that area at that time of the morning,” “ISAF said in a statement.”


Date: December 4, 2010

Place: Dih Yak district, Ghazni province

Circumstances: AP reported that an airstrike targeting two armed insurgents on a motorcycle wounded a civilian, who later died. The coalition met with elders in the area and extended its condolences.


Date: Saturday, November 20th

Place: Darah-ye-Pech district of northeastern Kunar province

Circumstances: The NATO-led force said its troops had accidentally killed three civilians and wounded four more during an operation in Darah-ye-Pech district of northeastern Kunar province.
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops fired several mortar rounds targeting militants on Friday after coming under fire from the insurgents, ISAF said. “Three or four” rounds missed their target and landed near a village, it said.

“We take civilian casualties seriously and we do everything within our power to prevent civilian casualties in the course of operations – in this case, we failed,” said U.S. Army Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. “Our thoughts and concerns are with the families of this tragic accident.”


Date: November 14, 2010

Place: Kandahar province

Circumstances: “Also on Sunday, ISAF said one Afghan child had been killed inadvertently and one wounded by artillery fire. The wounded child was taken to an ISAF hospital for treatment. An ISAF patrol had come under fire in the Zharay district of southern Kandahar province,a Taliban stronghold, and returned fire with artillery, the coalition said.”

U.S./NATO initial response/acknowledgment: “Following the engagement, the combined force confirmed that two Afghan children were inadvertently caught in the engagement, one was killed and one was wounded. The wounded child was medically evacuated to an ISAF medical facility. “Our thoughts and concerns are with the families of this terrible accident,” said U.S. Army Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director.”


Date: November 10, 2010

Place: Sangin district of Helmand province

Circumstances: “the NATO-led force in Afghanistan said it was investigating whether its troops had inadvertently killed three Afghan civilians on Wednesday while its forces fought insurgents in the south of the country.”

U.S./NATO initial response: International Security Assistance Force is looking into the possibility that three Afghan civilians were inadvertently killed and one wounded by ISAF forces during combat operations with insurgents in the Sangin district of Helmand province Wednesday. Four Afghan civilians were brought to a nearby ISAF base following the engagement, three died and one was wounded. “Our thoughts and concerns are with the families of this terrible accident,” said U.S. Army Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director.


Date: Saturday, October 23, 2010

Place: Maidan Shahr district, Wardak province

Circumstances: NATO forces killed two civilians, including a teenage boy, during a fight with insurgents Saturday in Wardak province in eastern Afghanistan, according to Mohammad Halim Fidai, the governor of the province. Fidai condemned the killings. The deaths prompted hundreds of residents to stage a demonstration that blocked a highway for nearly an hour.

The coalition could not confirm the two civilian deaths. NATO said that after insurgents attacked a patrol with a homemade bomb, the troops stopped to investigate the explosion and clear any other bombs in the area. After they stopped, they received fire from an unknown number of insurgents, the coalition said in a statement. During the fighting, the coalition said two Afghans fell off a motorcycle and were taken away by villagers so their conditions could not be verified.

U.S./NATO initial response: “a statement released by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said two civilians had possibly been killed in the Maidan Shahr district of Wardak province, west of Kabul, when insurgents attacked the patrol. However, it did not say whether they were killed by ISAF troops or by insurgents.”


Date: October 23, 2010

Place: Regey village of Sangin district in Helmand province

Circumstances: “President Hamid Karzai said Monday that a rocket attack on a residential compound in the southern province of Helmand was carried out by Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).” He said, “the attack by a helicopter gunship last Friday killed 52 people in Regey village, in Helmand’s volatile Sangin district.”

U.S./NATO initial response: According to “Isaf public affairs officer Todd Breasseale, “We do not know where the information they say they have is coming from.” He said “We are looking into who was responsiblefor (the rocket attack), that is part of our investigation,”


Date: October 4, 2010

Place: Kajaki district of Helmand province

Circumstances:Three Afghan civilians were killed along with 14 insurgents in a NATO air strike targeting a Taliban commander. The air strike in southern Helmand province came only a day after another air strike by foreign forces targeting insurgents in different district of the province, which Afghan police said also killed civilians as well as fighters.”

U.S. NATO Initial response: “A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was investigating the report of a strike, but did not have any information.”


Date:October 3, 2010

Place: Baraki Barak district of Logar province

Circumstances: “Two Afghan civilians were accidentally killed Sunday by coalition forces after insurgents attacked an ISAF base in Logar Province, eastern Afghanistan. The incident, being investigated by NATO, occurred when coalition forces returned fire following an attack by insurgents.“

U.S. NATO Initial response: “The civilians were killed when ISAF forces returned fire following a mortar or rocket attack by the insurgents, it said in a statement. The incident was under investigation.”

U.S/NATO acknowledgement: “ISAF said it had accidentally killed two civilians when insurgents attacked a military base in Baraki Barak district of Logar province south of Kabul.”


Date: October 2, 2010

Place: Helmand province

Circumstances: “At least three Afghan civilians were killed in a NATO air strike targeting senior Taliban commanders in southern Helmand province at the weekend, the provincial police chief said on Sunday.”

U.S. NATO Initial response: “The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was aware of reports of civilian casualties, but declined immediate comment on the total number of people killed in Saturday’s raid, or the number of possible civilian casualties.”


Date: September 29, 2010

Place: Andar district of Ghazni province

Circumstances: Sher Khan Yousafzai, the chief of Andar district, told the local Pajhwok Afghan News that a Nato raid on Wednesday occurred after a joint patrol by Afghan and foreign forces came under attack. The Nato raid, according to the official killed four children and wounded three adults. Yousafzai said helicopter-borne Nato forces fired on the locals in an orchard near one of the district’s towns, also named Andar.

U.S./NATO initial response: In a statement, Nato said its joint patrol came under small-arms fire from insurgents. “After gaining positive identification on the insurgent position, an air weapons team engaged,” the statement said. “The combined force called for a medical evaluation for wounded insurgents and reported approximately four insurgents had been killed”. The statement said Nato is aware of the allegations that civilians had been killed and would provide updates.

U.S./NATO acknowledgment: Coalition forces killed civilians: Sept 30(Reuters). An airstrike by NATO forces killed four Afghan civilians and wounded three others in Ghazni province, southwest of the capital Kabul, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Sept. 30.

“Air support was called in after Afghan and foreign forces came under fire from around eight insurgents in Andar district on Wednesday, but a group of unarmed civilians was accidentally targeted instead of the fighters.” ISAF said in a statement. “The wounded were taken to an ISAF hospital and compensation will be given to the families of the dead.” the statement added.


Date: September 25, 2010

Place: Alishang district of Laghman province

Circumstances: September 25—Protestors in eastern Laghman provincesaid on Saturday civilians were also among 30 people killed in an ongoing coalition operation in the Alishang district.

U.S. NATO Initial response: “More than 30 enemy fighters have been killed in the engagement. Initial reports indicate that there are no injuries or damages to any civilians in the area.”

U.S/NATO acknowledgement:on September 27, 2010, coalition forces killed civilian—“International Security Assistance Forces confirmed one Afghan civilian was killed by an ISAF service member in the Ali Sheng district of Laghman province Sunday.” Maj. Patrick Seiber, Combined Joint Task Force – 101 and Regional Command – East spokesman said: “We take allegations of civilian casualties very seriously and we will conduct a thorough investigation of this isolated incident,”


Date: September 25, 2010

Place: Musa Qala district of Helmand Province

Circumstances: NATO troops killed two Afghan civilians riding a motorcycle in southern Helmand province.

U.S. NATO Initial response: September 25, 2010 “Two Afghan civilians riding a motorcycle were killed after failing to adhere to several warnings to stop while approaching a security perimeter in southern Afghanistan Saturday,” the ISAF statement said.

U.S/NATO acknowledgement: on September 27, 2010, coalition forces killed civilians—“On Saturday, two civilians on a motorbike were killed by NATO troops after they refused to stop while driving towards a security barrier.

The incident took place in Musa Qala district, an area under Taliban control in the troubled southern province of Helmand.”


Date: September 1, 2010

Place: The Rostoq district of the Takhar Province

Circumstances: According to Afghan officials, ten election campaign workers have been killed in an air strike by Nato-led forces in the northern province of Takhar. The governor of the province, Abduljabar Taqwa, told the BBC that Rostoq was a peaceful and secure area. “Without any co-ordination, without informing provisional authorities,” Mr. Taqwa said, they attacked on their own, civilian people who were in a campaign convoy.”

Initial U.S./NATO response: September 2, 2010 US Marine Corps Maj Gen David Garza said: “We’re aware of the allegations that this strike caused civilian casualties and we’ll do our best to get to the bottom of the accusations.”
The ISAF Joint Command for Afghanistan goes on to assert “After careful planning to ensure no civilians were present, coalition aircraft conducted a precision air strike on one sedan and later followed with direct fire from an aerial platform. The vehicle was traveling as part of a six-car convoy, but no other vehicles were hit in the strike. The security force was unable to immediately dispatch a ground force to assess the results, but initial reflections indicate eight to 12 insurgents were killed or injured in the strike, including a Taliban commander.”
Read the Entire International Security Assistance Force – Afghanistan Press Release


Date: August 26, 2010

Place: Manogi District of Kunar province

Circumstances: Afghan authorities accused international forces of killing six children during an air assault on Taliban positions. In eastern Kunar province, provincial police chief Khalilullah Ziayee said a group of children were collecting scrap metal on the mountain when NATO aircraft dropped bombs to disperse Taliban fighters attacking a nearby base. “In the bombardment six children, aged six to 12, were killed. Another child was injured,” the police commander said.

Initial U.S./NATO response: August 27, 2010 ISAF said in a statement that “officials are aware of civilian casualty allegations as a result of the engagement and are conducting an investigation.”


Date:August 23, 2010

Place:Talah wa Barfak district of Baghlan Province

Initial U.S./NATO response: Maj. Michael Johnson, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, as the NATO force is known, said NATO authorities were unaware of any such attack.


Date: August 20, 2010

Place: Pusht Rod district of Farah province

Circumstances: According to an ISAF Joint Command report, issued on August 21, 2010, a woman and two children were accidentally killed by an air attack. The report states that six insurgents were killed as they got out of a vehicle and several other suspected militants were detained during an operation in the Pusht Rod district of Farah province. “Also during the operation,” the report states, “a civilian woman and two children were accidentally killed when a coalition force air weapons team engaged the insurgents.”

U.S./NATO acknowledgment that Coalition forces killed civilians: “We deeply regret what occurred on yesterday’s operation,” U.S. Army Col. Rafael Torres, a spokesman for NATO, said in expressing condolences to relatives. “We are taking a step-by-step approach in investigating what went wrong.”


Date: August 17, 2010

Place Arghandab district of Kandahar province

Initial U.S./NATO response:Coalition forces plan to meet with local elders about the incident, which remains under investigation. (RAHIM FAIEZAP NewsAug 18, 2010 03:23 EDT)


Date: August 12, 2010

Place: Lashkar Gah district, Loyadera area of Helmand Province

Circumstances: ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) said they were investigating a report that NATO airstrikes killed civilians during a NATO/ISAF operation. Four wounded and three dead Afghan civilians were brought to a nearby checkpoint. They had been in a building which was attacked by aerial bombardment. Two of the wounded civilians later died. In a separate report, ISAF said Afghan and coalition forces had come under fire in an area of Helmand and that an Afghan woman had been shot by ISAF troops during the engagement. The woman later died.

U.S./NATO acknowledgment that Coalition forces killed civilians: On August 15, the ISAF said it believes there is evidence civilians were in the compound targeted by coalition forces during the operation.“


Date: August 12, 2010

Place: Musa Qal&rsquo district of Helmand province

Circumstances: According to an ISAF Joint Command report, issued on August 12, 2010, Afghan and coalition forces were attacked by Taliban fighters with small arms. They returned fire and “an Afghan civilian woman was shot by International Security Assistance Force soldiers. The woman was given immediate medical attention by coalition forces, but subsequently died of her wounds.

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the person killed was an unarmed civilian: ISAF officials deeply regret this unfortunate loss of life and express their sincerest apologies to the family.…/isaf…/afghan-woman-killed-during-fire-fight-in-helmand.html


Date: August 11, 2010

Place: Sayed Abad district of Wardak Province

Circumstances: Provincial spokesman Shahedullah Shahed told AFP that NATO “Coalition and Afghan forces went to a house to capture a Taliban commander,” provincial spokesman Shahedullah Shahed told AFP. “During the attack unfortunately three civilians were killed.” On Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010, an AP photo showed a crowd of about 300 villagers who yelled ‘Death to the United States’ and blocked a main road in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday as they swore that U.S. forces had killed three innocent villagers, officials said.

Initial U.S./NATO response: August 12, 2010 ISAF spokesman Captain Ryan Donald said three “insurgents” had been killed in the raid. U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the person killed was an unarmed civilian: None, as yet. The case is still under investigation.


Date: August 5, 2010

Place: Nangarhar province eastern Afghanistan

Circumstances: According to The Pak Tribune a vehicle carrying a coffin and a dead man’s relatives was bombed and eleven civilians, including women and children, were killed.

Initial U.S./NATO response: August 5, 2010—As sited in The Jakarta Globe, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said it had operated in the area on Wednesday and was “aware of civilian casualty allegations as a result of these operations and is conducting an investigation.”

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that Coalition forces killed unarmed civilians: August 5, 2010 — “Coalition forces deeply regret that our joint operation appears to have resulted in civilian loss of life and we express our sincerest condolences to the families,” said Rear Admiral Greg Smith, ISAF Director of Communication. “We will partner with the Government of Afghanistan to conduct a thorough investigation of this incident, and to provide solation to the families of the civilians killed during the engagement.”


Date: July 23, 2010

Place: Sangin district in Helmand province

Circumstances: On July 26, the Afghan National Directorate of Security stated that on July 23rd the American-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) killed “52 civilians…including women and children” in a “rocket attack.” The Kabul government later revised the number of people killed to 39.

U.S. /NATO initial response: July 27, 2010— “Any speculation at this point of an alleged civilian casualty in Rigi village is completely unfounded,” said Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, director of communications for the American and NATO military coalition. “We are conducting a thorough joint investigation with our Afghan partners and will report any and all findings when known.”

U.S./NATO acknowledgement that Coalition forces killed unarmed civilians: August 5, 2010—“A senior intelligence official told the New York Times (see paragraphs 9 – 15) that six civilians died with eight Taliban fighters when a troop fired a Javelin rocket into a structure from which U.S. Marines took fire. When asked to explain the discrepancy between his tally and that of the Afghan government, the unnamed official cited “political challenges.”


Date: July 8, 2010

Place: Jani Khel district of Paktia Province

Circumstances: According to Reuters’ Rob Taylor in Kabul, 10 Jul 2010 , a joint Afghan and NATO investigation team found six civilians died on Thursday, (July 8), when artillery shells went astray in Paktia Province.

Initial U.S./NATO Response: Initially, the coalition reported that eight Afghan civilians had been injured and taken to a nearby NATO outpost for treatment, and that one subsequently died. Later, it was determined that the bodies of those killed had been removed before NATO units arrived on the scene following the errant rounds, NATO said in a statement.

U.S. /NATO Acknowledgement: On July 10, 2010 NATO admitted killing six people with stray artillery on Thursday, (July 8). “ISAF officials offer sincere condolences to those affected,” the statement said, “and accept full responsibility for the actions that led to this tragic incident.”


Date: July 7, 2010

Place: Northern Balkh province on the outskirts of Mazar-I Sharif

Circumstances: Professor Juan R. I. Cole wrote, on July 11th, that Afghans alleged that on Wednesday, July 7th, US forces wrongly killed two Afghan security guards in a raid on a market in the northern Balkh province on the outskirts of Mazar-i Sharif. According to an Afghan newspaper, about 1,000 demonstrators marched from the shrine of Ali to the offices of UNAMI, a UN organization, chanting and walking for 3 hours in protest against the wrongful killing.

Initial U.S./NATO Response: NATO said that the two security guards declined to lower their weapons, which is why they were shot, and that NATO forces were pursuing elements of the Haqqani Network in the area.

U.S./NATO Acknowledgment: No comment.


Date: June 19, 2010

Place:Khost Province Circumstances: According to the New York Times, NATO airstrikes killed ten civilians, including at least five women and children.

Initial U.S./NATO response: June 19, 2010, coalition forces issue a statement saying that “Precision airstrikes were used in self-defense against a large number of armed insurgents.” And that “We are aware of conflicting reports of civilian casualties made by local officials and are therefore reviewing the operational details of the engagement.”

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians: The June 19th NATO statement also says, “Our mission is to protect the population, and we will accept full responsibility if civilians were unintentionally harmed in this intense fight against insurgents.”


Date: April 28, 2010

Place: Surkh Rod district, near Jalalabad

Circumstances: According to Safiya Sidiqi, a member of the Afghan parliament, dozens of Afghan and U.S. soldiers entered her family home, blindfolded and handcuffed men and women, and killed her brother-in-law, Amanullah, a 30 year old car mechanic with five children. “They shot him six times. In his heart, in his face, in his head,” Sidiqi said on Thursday, April 29th. Both legs were broken.

Initial U.S./NATO response: April 29, 2010—An Afghan-international security force killed one armed individual while pursuing a Taliban facilitator in Nangarhar last night.

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the person killed was an unarmed civilian: None, as yet. The case is still under investigation.


Date: April 20, 2010

Place: Khost Province

Circumstances:A NATO military convoy attacked a car approaching a checkpoint, claiming that the car sped up after being warned to stop. Four young men were killed. According to the New York Times, “The shooting Monday night in Khost province sparked an immediate outcry from the victims’ family, who insisted that all four were civilians driving home from a volleyball game. ‘The youngest boy was just 13,’said Rahmatullah Mansour, whose two sons and two nephews were killed in the shooting. Mansour said that the victims in Monday’s shooting were his sons Faizullah, 13, and Nasratullah, 17; and nephews Maiwand and Amirullah, both 18. He said all were students except Amirullah, who was a police officer.”

Initial U.S. / NATO response: April 21, 2010—From the New York Times: “Without offering proof, NATO described the dead as two insurgents and their “associates.” In a statement on Tuesday, NATO said the vehicle ignored warning shots and accelerated toward the military convoy. But the statement did not challenge the Afghan account that no weapons were found in the vehicle.”

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians: April 22, 2010—NATO acknowledges that four unarmed Afghans who were killed this week when a military convoy opened fire on their vehicle were all civilians, correcting an earlier claim that two of the dead were “known insurgents.”


Date: April 12, 2010

Place: Kandahar

Circumstances: According to the New York Times, “American troops raked a large passenger bus with gunfire near Kandahar on Monday morning, (April 12).” The attack killed five civilians and wounded 18.

Initial U.S./NATO response:A statement issued by the American-led military command in Kabul said that four people were killed. It said “an unknown, large vehicle” drove “at a high rate of speed” toward a slow-moving NATO convoy that was clearing mines.

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians: April 12, 2010—“ISAF deeply regrets the tragic loss of life in Zhari district this morning. According to ISAF operational reporting, four civilians were killed, including one female, and five others were treated for injuries at the scene of the incident today. Upon inspection, NATO forces discovered the vehicle to be a passenger bus.”

April 13, 2010—The New York Times reported that “a military spokeswoman confirmed that a convoy traveling west, in front of the bus, opened fire, but said the second convoy was traveling east toward the passenger bus. She also said the driver of the bus was killed. A survivor, however, identified himself as the driver and said he did not violate any signal from the troops. ‘I was going to take the bus off the road,’ said the man, Mohammed Nabi. ‘Then the convoy ahead opened fire from 60 to 70 yards away,’ he said.”


Date: February 21, 2010

Place: Convoy en route to Kandehar

Circumstances: U.S. aerial forces attacked a three-car convoy traveling to a market in Kandehar. The convoy had planned on continuing to Kabul so that some of the passengers could get medical treatment. At least three dozen people were passengers in the three cars. The front car was an SUV type vehicle, and the last was a Land Cruiser. When the first car was hit by U.S. air fire, women in the second car jumped out and waved their scarves to indicate that they were civilians. U.S. helicopters continued to fire rockets and machine guns, killing 21 people and wounding 13.

U.S./NATO initial response:February 22, 2010—The day after the attack, the U.S.-led military coalition said that NATO forces had fired on a group of “suspected insurgents” who were thought to be on their way to attack Afghan and coalition soldiers a few miles away. When troops arrived after the helicopter strike, they discovered women and children among the dead and wounded.

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians:

Feb 24, 2010—General Stanley McChrystal delivered a videotaped apology.


Date: February 12, 2010

Place: Paktika Province

Circumstances: In a night raid, U.S. forces attacked a home where 25 people, 3 of them musicians, had gathered for a naming celebration. A newborn was being named that night. One of the musicians went outside to relieve himself. A flashlight shone in his face. Panicked, he ran inside and announced that the Taliban were outside. A police commander, Dawoud, the father of the newborn, ran outside with his weapon. U.S. forces opened fire, killing Officer Dawoud, a pregnant mother, an eighteen year old, Gulaila, and two others.

U.S. / NATO initial response: February 12, 2010—U.S. forces claimed that the women had been killed earlier, in an honor killing. Nato’s initial press release bore the headline: “Joint Force Operating in Gardez Makes Gruesome Discovery.” The release said that after “intelligence confirmed militant activity” in a compound near a village in Paktika province, an international security force entered the compound and engaged “several insurgents” in a firefight. Two “insurgents” were killed, the report said, and after the joint forces entered the compound, they “found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed.”

March 16, 2010—The UN issued a scathing report, stating that the U.S. had killed the women. Villagers told Jerome Starkey, reporting for the Independent, that U.S. troops tried to tamper with evidence by digging bullets out of the womens’ bodies and out of the walls.

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians: April 6, 2010—Almost two months later, the Pentagon was finally forced to admit that international forces had badly bungled the raid that night in Paktika, and that U.S. troops had, in fact, killed the women during their assault on the residence. One of the women was a pregnant mother of ten, and the other was a pregnant mother of six children.


Date: February 2010

Place:Helmand Province

During this month, U.S./NATO forces launched a military offensive against three hamlets in the Marja district. Researcher Prof. Marc Herold presents a detailed summary and analysis of Afghan civilians killed directly by U.S/NATO forces during this particular month.


Date: December 26, 2009

Place: Kunar Province

Circumstances: In a night raid, U.S. forces, claiming to attack a bomb-making factory, attacked a house where eight youth, aged 11–18, were sleeping. They pulled the youngsters out of their beds, handcuffed them, and executed them. Villagers said that seven of those killed were students and one was a neighboring shepherd.

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians: February 24, 2010—U.S. forces issued an apology, admitting that the U.S. had killed seven schoolboys and a neighboring shepherd.


Date: May 4, 2009

Place: Farah Province near the town of Granai

Circumstances: Mainstream media reports estimate that between 86 and 140 people, mostly children, died in a US air attack. According to Reuters, only 22 of the victims were adult males.

Initial U.S./NATO response: The following chronology indicates multiple attempts on the part of US officials to avoid blame.

May 6, 2009—U.S. officials plea ignorance and state that an investigation is under way.

May 6, 2009—According to The Guardian, a spokesperson for US forces in Afghanistan, Captain Elizabeth Mathias says, “This was not coalition forces. This was Afghan national security forces who called in close air support, a decision that was vetted by the Afghan leadership.”

May 7, 2009—An Armed Service Press Service report announces that a team is “investigating differing accounts of the events leading up to the casualties. Those accounts include allegations that the Taliban tossed grenades into homes to ‘frame’ Afghan and coalition forces.” U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates states that “The United States and coalition partners do everything we can to avoid civilian casualties.” He went on to say that “While there have been civilian casualties caused by American and NATO troops, they have been accidental. When the Taliban cause casualties, they are on purpose.”

May 8, 2009—Pentagon spokesperson Col. Greg Julian insists that earlier estimates of the death toll were “grossly exaggerated”.

May 10, 2009—In an interview with Mike Wallace, General David Petraeus suggests that the Taliban forced people “to remain in houses from which the Taliban was engaging our forces.”

May 15, 2009—Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway again blames the Taliban for civilian casualties. “We believe that there were families who were killed by the Taliban with grenades and rifle fire,” he said, “that were then paraded about and shown as casualties from the airstrike.”

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians:

May 13, 2009—Referring to the May 4th raids in an Afghan press interview, Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry admits that “there were a number of civilians killed, a number of civilians wounded. We don’t know the exact amount. You are aware that our President of the United States and our Secretary of State and our Secretary of Defense have all very explicitly expressed their condolences for what happened.”

June 2, 2009—According to The New York Times “A military investigation has concluded that American personnel made significant errors in carrying out some of the airstrikes in western Afghanistan on May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians, according to a senior American military official.”


Date:April 9, 2009

Place:Khost Province, Ali Daya

Circumstances: U.S. forces were positioned on the rooftop opposite the home of Brigadier Artillery officer Awal Khan. In a night raid, U.S. forces burst into Awal Khan’s home. Awal Khan was away from home. His family members ran to the rooftop, believing that robbers had entered the home. When they emerged on their rooftop, U.S. forces on the opposite roof opened fire, killing Awal Khan’s wife, his brother, his 17 year-old daughter Nadia, and his fifteen year-old son, Aimal and his infant son, born just a week earlier.

U.S. /NATO initial response: April 9, 2010, coalition forces issue a statement that the four people killed by troops were “armed militants.” Later that same day another statement admits that further inquiries “suggest that the people killed and wounded were not enemy combatants as previously reported.”

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians: The Times of London reported the following, on April 11, 2009:

The US military conceded that its forces killed the civilians in error during the night-time raid that targeted the neighboring compound of a suspected militant. The father of the dead family is a lieutenant-colonel in the Afghan Army fighting the Taleban in the restive province of Ghazni.

The US military reported that two males, two females and an infant were believed to have died in the incident, and two other women were wounded. A relative of the dead family told reporters that the dead infant was a boy born last week. “This was a terrible tragedy,” a US spokesman, Colonel Greg Julian, told The Times.

Concerned about Afghanistan? Here are a few suggested actions for you and your community

In the state of Tennessee two gatherings have drawn attention to the fact that racist ideology and practice are alive and well inside the United States. The cities of Memphis, the state’s largest, and in Dickson, in the central region of the state, were the gathering points for the Ku Klux Klan and a white supremacist group known as American Renaissance (AmRen) which held gatherings on March 30 and the weekend of April 5-7 respectively.

Memphis was the scene of a Klan rally in downtown on March 30 ostensibly designed to protest against the renaming of three parks which honored the legacy of slavery and the Confederacy. Confederate Soldiers, Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest Parks have been a source of embarrassment and tension in Memphis for decades.

Now with a majority African American population, a Black mayor and other high-ranking officials of color, pressure has been mounting in recent years to rename the parks. In response to this inevitability, a North Carolina-based section of the Ku Klux Klan applied and was granted a permit to hold a rally inside the city.

Anti-racist demonstrators in Memphis mobilized over 1,500 people to challenge the Klan. Although the protests against the Klan remained peaceful with only one reported arrest during the day, the crowd made it clear that the racists were not welcome in the city.

The parks were named after figures who were leading personalities in the splitting-up of the U.S. during 1861-1865 in a failed effort to maintain the economic system of slavery. Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederate States of America, 11 states which seceded from the Union.

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a wealthy southerner who earned a fortune in the trade in enslaved Africans during the mid-19th century in Memphis. During the Civil War, Forrest served as a general with the Confederacy and is said to have been responsible for the infamous Fort Pillow Massacre in southwest Tennessee where hundreds of Africans and Union soldiers were slaughtered and later driven to their untimely deaths.

After the defeat of the Confederacy in 1865, Forrest is credited with founding the Ku Klux Klan in Middle Tennessee. The organization has engaged in over a century of terrorism against African Americans and other people who they have deemed a threat to the notions of white supremacy.

Anti-Racists Demonstrate Outside White Supremacist Conference in Dickson In Dickson, the so-called American Renaissance group held its annual conference. The state of Tennessee denied anti-racists several permit applications to hold mass demonstrations outside the event.

Demonstrations took place at any rate and denounced the messages put forward by the racists. The conference was held at Montgomery Bell Park over the weekend of April 5-7.

This was the second straight year that American Renaissance has gathered at the park in Dickson. The list of speakers at the conference included Klan members, neo-Nazis, holocaust deniers, anti-immigrant activists and other assorted fascists and racists.

According to Julia Casteel of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), “It is clear that the state stands solidly on the side of white supremacy. They granted a permit for a known white supremacist terrorist organization, AmRen, to hold their conference and they have repeatedly denied all of our permit requests to protest racist attacks on our park.” (, April 4)

These events in Tennessee took place around the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was killed in Memphis on April 4, 1968. King was in Memphis to support African American sanitation workers who were on strike for recognition as a collective bargaining unit with the city.

Despite the existence of an African American president in the White House and thousands of elected officials of color around the U.S., racism and national oppression appears to be escalating. African Americans and other nationally oppressed communities are disproportionately impacted by the economic crisis through high rates of home foreclosures, evictions and joblessness.

Poverty rates are also rising among the oppressed nations, particularly involving women. Police brutality and killings have risen in recent years with high profile cases of abuse in Maryland, California, New York, Michigan and Ohio.

Inside the U.S., racist organizations function openly and are granted permits to hold rallies and conferences. When anti-racist demonstrations are held more police attention is focused on suppressing such activity through bureaucratic methods and brute force.

Attention has been focused as well on possible links between the recent murder of a Kaufman County, Texas district attorney and his wife and white supremacist prison gangs. These murders follow the killings of an assistant district attorney and a prison administrator earlier in the year.

All of these officials are supposedly linked with a racketeering investigation targeting over 30 members of a white supremacist organization based in the Texas state prisons. One suspect was killed in a shoot-out with Texas authorities just two days after the murder of the prison official.

Abayomi Azikiwe is Editor, Pan-African News Wire

The real threat of the escalation of hostilities on the Korean peninsular – and consequently the world – comes not from North Korea, but from the United States itself, political analyst Michel Chossudovsky told RT.

The director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and professor of economics at the University of Ottawa believes it is the US which is trying to light a match.

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“Just a few weeks ago it was revealed that the Pentagon had implemented a so-called playbook, which was to ratchet up tension with North Korea. During the war games it has dispatched [nuclear capable planes]… We have to put it in historical perspective, because these threats have been ongoing for more than half a century, since the end of the Korean War,” he said.

Chossudovsky also added that it does not seem at all that the world is serious in its intentions at curbing nuclear threats as such: “Looking at US nuclear doctrine, we have a $352 billion refurbishing of nuclear weapons, which is barely acknowledged by the mainstream media. We have a $10 billion refurbishing of tactical nuclear weapons, which can be launched from a B-2 bomber, which have currently been deployed. And then we have a Senate decision which says that nuclear weapons are harmless to the surrounding civilian population and can be used in the conventional war theater.”

When asked what tactics could possibly be implemented to avert the current crisis, Chossudovsky said that he sees a way out if “the people across the land, in Western countries, come to realize that the United States and NATO are a threat to global security, and if they wish to wage a pre-emptive nuclear war on any country in the world, that is a prelude to global warfare.”

WWIII Scenario

Existe uma conexão entre os eventos na Síria (talvez até mesmo a tensão dos EUA com a Coreia do Norte) e de improviso da Rússia jogos do Mar Negro guerra que começou em 28 de março de 2013?

 Enquanto a caminho de Durban, na África do Sul, onde os BRICS – Brasil, Rússia, Índia, China e África do Sul – anunciaram que estavam formando um banco de desenvolvimento novo para desafiar o FMI e o Banco Mundial, russo Vladimir Putin deu o seu aval para sem marcação jogos de guerra no Mar Negro. Por si só os jogos significam pouco, mas em um contexto global, eles significam muito.
Segundo o Kremlin, os jogos de guerra envolveu cerca de 7.000 militares russas; forças especiais russas, fuzileiros navais russas, e aerotransportados tropas de implantação rápida. Todos os serviços diferentes da Rússia estavam envolvidos e utilizados os exercícios para testar a sua interoperabilidade. Mais de 30 navios de guerra russos baseados fora do porto ucraniano de Sevastopol na Península da Crimeia e do porto russo de Novorossiysk em Krasnodar Krai estarão participando. O objectivo dos jogos são para mostrar que a Rússia poderia mobilizar para qualquer evento em um anúncio momentos.
Resposta russa aos planos de guerra contra os sírios
É mera coincidência que a Rússia está flexionando seus músculos depois de a NATO revelou que estava desenvolvendo planos de contingência para uma intervenção na Líbia estilo na Síria em 20 de março? Dois dias depois, Israel e Turquia, terminou a sua carreira diplomática por meio de um acordo atempado que foi supostamente intermediado pelo presidente dos EUA, Barack Obama, em 20 minutos, enquanto ele estava visitando Israel. O primeiro-ministro de Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, anunciou que, com a ajuda de Obama um acordo foi feito com o primeiro-ministro da Turquia, Recep Erdogan, para acabar com a crise diplomática sobre o ataque de Israel ao Mavi Marmara, em 2010.
Dias depois, este evento foi seguido pela Coalizão Nacional Sírio (SNC) – uma organização de oposição falso construído por os EUA, Reino Unido, França, Qatar, Arábia Saudita e Turquia – sendo cerimoniosamente dado assento da Síria na Liga Árabe. No que parece ser uma tentativa de repetir o cenário da Líbia , o SNC está a ser reconhecido como o governo da Síria. Na cimeira da Liga Árabe, o líder do SNC de Moaz Al-Khatib imediatamente chamado para uma intervenção militar da OTAN em coordenação com a chamada do Qatar para a mudança de regime e a intervenção militar em Damasco em 26 de março.
Em um movimento estágio gerenciado, o SNC fantoche pediu os EUA, Reino Unido, França, Qatar, Arábia Saudita, Turquia, e Otan para impor uma zona de exclusão aérea, com o objectivo de criar um emirado SNC-controlada ou enclave no norte da Síria . Al-Khatib anunciou que falou com John Kerry EUA Secretário de Estado para usar os mísseis Patriot da OTAN estacionadas na Turquia, para criar a zona de exclusão aérea sobre o norte da Síria. Efectivamente o que ele está falando é a balcanização da Síria. Kerry parece estar em cima dele. Victoria Nuland, porta-voz do Departamento de Estado dos EUA, disse que os EUA estão considerando o pedido sobre a imposição de uma zona de exclusão aérea. Mesmo antes, Kerry fez uma visita surpresa a Bagdad e ameaçou o governo federal no Iraque a cair em linha com os planos de Washington mudança de regime contra a Síria. Ele disse que queria que os iraquianos para verificar aviões de passageiros iranianos indo para a Síria de armas, mas muito mais foi dito.
Sátrapas do império americano estão todos em movimento. Catar e Arábia Saudita já não esconde o fato de que eles estão armando e financiando os insurgentes na Síria. Em Fevereiro, o Reino Unido ea França pressionaram o resto da União Europeia para levantar o embargo de armas da Síria, de modo que eles podem abertamente armar os combatentes anti-governamentais estrangeiras e as milícias que estão tentando derrubar o governo sírio. Israel e Turquia têm sido forçados a fazer as pazes por causa da guerra do império sobre os sírios.
Obama realinha Israel e Turquia contra a Síria
A reaproximação de Israel e Turquia convenientemente se encaixa no tabuleiro alinhando. A visita de Obama a Israel foi sobre a política imperial de manter o império americano. Como dois vizinhos hostis da Síria, Tel Aviv e Ancara terá uma cooperação mais profunda nos objectivos do Império para derrubar o governo sírio. De repente, os governos de ambos os países começaram a se queixar de acordo com um outro sobre como a situação humanitária na Síria foi ameaçá-los. Na realidade, Israel não está hospedando qualquer refugiados sírios (e oprime sírios sob a ocupação no Golã) Considerando que a Turquia tem realmente negligenciado muitas das suas obrigações legais e financeiras para os refugiados sírios que hospeda em seu território e tentou encobrir isso, rotulando como estranhos “convidados”.
De acordo com a Agence France-Presse, os israelenses têm até abriu um hospital de campanha militar para ajudar os rebeldes a derrubar o governo sírio. A instalação militar está localizado em uma área chamada Fortificação 105 em ocupada por Israel da Síria Colinas de Golã (originalmente referido como as alturas sírios em Israel). É essencialmente uma base de apoio para forças anti-governamentais e apenas a ponta do iceberg em relação ao envolvimento de Israel na Síria. Ataques de Israel à Síria Janeiro foram os frutos da cooperação entre israelenses e milícias insurgentes.
Sentindo os olhos desconfiados olhando para o governo turco e, talvez, ficar nervoso com a flexão do Kremlin muscular, ministro das Relações Exteriores turco, Ahmet Davutoglu rejeitou as alegações de que Tel Aviv e Ancara foram cerrando fileiras contra a Síria. Davutoglu deve ter tido conhecimento do que foi dito em Israel sobre sua aproximação. Mesmo que Netanyahu prometeu nunca mais pedir desculpas pela morte de cidadãos da Turquia sobre o Mavi Marmara, pedido de desculpas de Tel Aviv para a Turquia foi publicamente justificada pelo governo israelense sobre a base de abordar a Síria, através da coordenação com a Turquia. Muitos dos olhos desconfiados de que se virou para olhar o governo de Erdogan sobre o acordo com Israel são turco. Davutoglu realmente mentiu para o consumo doméstico, sabendo muito bem que a opinião pública turca seria ultrajada em saber que o primeiro-ministro Erdogan foi realmente normalizar laços com Israel para derrubar o governo sírio.
A mensagem (s) dos jogos de guerra russos
O império americano está organizando o tabuleiro de xadrez geopolítico com é sátrapas em sua guerra em curso sobre a Síria. Talvez planeia usar Israel para fazer um re-play da Crise de Suez. Em 1956, depois de o Egipto nacionalizou o Canal de Suez, Reino Unido e França desenhou um plano com Israel a anexar o Canal de Suez, obtendo Israel para atacar o Egipto e depois reclamar para intervir militarmente, como partes interessadas, que queriam manter o canal de Suez seguro e aberto para tráfego marítimo internacional. Um novo ataque contra a Síria sob as bandeiras dos israelenses é possível e pode ser usado como uma desculpa para um turco e da NATO “invasão humanitária” que poderia resultar na criação de uma zona tampão norte humanitária (ou uma guerra mais ampla).
Um padrão pode ser representado de todos estes eventos. No início de 2013, a Rússia realizou grandes exercícios navais no Mediterrâneo Oriental em um cenário de tensão entre Moscovo e a NATO liderada pelos EUA e Conselho de Cooperação do Golfo (GCC) coligação que foi desestabilizar a Síria. Depois de os EUA e sua coalizão anti-Síria ameaçou intervir militarmente e implantado mísseis Patriot na fronteira sul da Turquia com a Síria, um russo naval flotilha foi enviado ao largo da costa da Síria para enviar uma forte mensagem a Washington de não ter qualquer ideia de iniciar outra guerra . Por sua vez, os EUA e seus aliados tentaram salvar a face por espalhar boatos de que o Kremlin estava se preparando para evacuar cidadãos russos da Síria, porque o governo sírio estava indo ao colapso ea situação ia ficar crítica.
Em paralelo com os jogos de guerra russos no mar Negro, a Força Aérea da Rússia realizou voos de longa distância em toda a Rússia. Isto incluiu voos de bombardeiros estratégicos russos nucleares. Na outra extremidade da Eurásia, a China também realizou suas próprias manobras navais surpresa no Mar da China Meridional. Enquanto os EUA e seus aliados retratados os movimentos chineses como uma ameaça para o Vietname sobre o território disputado no Mar da China Meridional, o momento da implantação naval pode estar ligada a qualquer Síria (ou a Coreia do Norte) e coordenado com a Rússia para avisar os EUA para manter a paz internacional.
Em um sinal do declínio do império americano, pouco antes de os jogos de guerra russos no Mar Negro, todos os líderes cada vez mais assertivas BRICS advertiu os EUA contra qualquer aventureirismo na Síria e em outros países. A flexão muscular russo e chinês são mensagens que informam a Washington que Pequim e Moscou são sérios e dizer o que eles dizem. Ao mesmo tempo, esses eventos podem ser lidas como sinais de que o sistema-mundo está sob nova gerência.

Este artigo foi originalmente publicado na RT Op-Edge, 3 de Abril de 2013.

Artigos por: Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya Sobre o autor:

Um autor premiado e analista de geopolítica, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya é o autor de A Globalização da NATO (Clarity Press) e um próximo livro A guerra contra a Líbia ea recolonização de África. Ele também contribuiu para vários outros livros que vão de crítica cultural para as relações internacionais. Ele é um sociólogo e pesquisador associado do Centro de Pesquisas sobre Globalização (CRG), um colaborador no Estratégico Fundação de Cultura (SCF), Moscovo, e um membro do Comité Científico de Geopolítica, Itália

Over the weekend, US officials continued to threaten North Korea with war, demanding that China cut off its support to the regime in Pyongyang.

This comes after weeks of US threats aimed at Pyongyang’s nuclear program, during which Washington flew nuclear-capable bombers to Korea to demonstrate its capacity to wage nuclear war against the North. Last week, US officials revealed that these moves were part of a laid-out “playbook” of US escalations—aimed to terrorize North Korea’s government and population.

General Walter Sharp, the former US military commander in South Korea, told America’s National Public Radio (NPR): “there’s been a lot of effort over the past two and a half years now to build this counter-provocation plan. Because that’s a hard balance of a strong response: don’t escalate, but be prepared to go to war.”

Sharp said that US and South Korean forces would rapidly respond to any firing along the border by the North Korean and prepare for an overwhelming response. He explained, “There are options that people have worked and thought through that could very quickly be brought to President Park [Geun-hye of South Korea] and President Obama.”

NPR commented, “That’s the escalation scenario, and it leads to all-out war.”

Yesterday, amid intelligence reports that North Korea may be preparing a test missile launch for April 10, South Korea dispatched Aegis guided-missile warships to waters on both sides of the Korean peninsula.

Japan indicated that it was also considering deploying its own warships to the area. Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo is preparing for a “worst-case” scenario and demanded that China and Russia play “significant roles” to resolve the stand-off.

There are unconfirmed reports that Washington has begun deploying groups of B-1 heavy bombers from the United States to the Western Pacific.

US officials speaking Sunday demanded that China force the North Korean regime to give in to US demands. Pyongyang relies on China for critical food and fuel supplies.

On CBS, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said, “China can cut off their [i.e., North Korea’s] economy if they want to. Chinese behavior has been very disappointing, whether it be on cyber security, whether it be on confrontation in the South China Sea, or whether it be their failure to rein in what could be a catastrophic situation.”

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York added, “The Chinese hold a lot of cards here. They’re by nature cautious, but they’re carrying it to an extreme. It’s about time they stepped up to the plate and put a little pressure on the North Korean regime.”

The Chinese regime in Beijing, which is in the midst of a leadership transition in both the state and the Chinese Communist Party, is divided on how to respond to the Korean crisis.

At Sunday’s regional business summit in Boao, China, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain.” This carefully worded remark voices the alarm in Beijing over the possible outbreak of military conflict, without directly indicting either North Korea or the United States as the party responsible.

On the one hand, Beijing has given several indications of increasing hostility to Pyongyang. It has already voted for UN sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program earlier this year.

At the Boao summit, Xi also agreed to an extensive series of military exercises and exchanges with Australia’s armed forces. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government is closely aligned on US imperialist interests in the region, having agreed to install a US base in Australia as part of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” aiming to contain China.

Sections of the Chinese army and bureaucracy have openly questioned Beijing’s attempts to accommodate US policy, however.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Colonel Dai Xu of the People’s Liberation Army’s National Defense University protested moves to develop closer ties to Australia: “Australia is one of the links in America’s encirclement of China. The first step of [America’s] strategic eastward move was to send troops to Australia. The Sino-Australian relationship has been good always, very good—[Gillard] can of course say that, but in China we say, ‘Listen to what they say, watch what they do.’ The US is taking Australia as a base, and who is that aimed against?”

The Western press is speculating that Zhou Yongkang, a member of Beijing’s powerful Politburo Standing Committee, is an influential supporter of the North Korean regime. A CCP official who has had responsibility for oil and security policy, he reportedly backed the coming to power of Kim Jong Un in North Korea in 2011.

Washington is placing enormous pressure on Beijing. Sections of the US press and foreign policy establishment are now mooting the possibility that Washington will go to war and kill the North Korean leadership—as it murdered Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi when it took over their countries. This was the theme of a recent Foreign Affairs article by academics Keir Lieber and Daryl Press, titled “The Next Korean War.”

If war started, they write, given Pyongyang’s military weakness, “North Korea’s inner circle would face a grave decision: how to avoid the terrible fates of such defeated leaders as Saddam Hussein and Muammar al-Gaddafi.” Lieber and Press see two possibilities for Pyongyang’s leaders to avoid murder at the hands of US and South Korean forces: a deal for them to flee to Beijing, or an attempt to deter US military action by using North Korea’s nuclear bombs.

On this basis, they argue for a policy of pressuring Beijing to help Washington organize the demise of the Pyongyang regime and the flight of its leaders to China: “American and South Korean leaders should urge China to develop ‘golden parachute’ plans for the North Korean leadership and their families… In the past, China has been understandably reluctant to hold official talks with the United States about facilitating the demise of an ally. But the prospect of nuclear war next door could induce Beijing to take more direct steps.”

These lines bluntly spell out the nuclear blackmail with which Washington is threatening Beijing: China can either face nuclear war, or acquiesce to regime change in Pyongyang and a shift of Chinese foreign policy more favorable to US imperialism. In seeking to intimidate Beijing, US imperialism is playing for the highest stakes—not only geo-strategic dominance in East Asia, but in the Middle East and the entire world economy.

As it moves against Pyongyang, Washington is also threatening Iran with war if it does not abandon its own nuclear program. It aims to prevent Pyongyang from keeping its nuclear weapons and thus serving as a model for Iran’s nuclear program, and from blocking China from protecting Iran against US war threats. This would give Washington greater leverage to continue fighting wars in the Middle East.

Washington is also trying to deter any economic pressure from China. According to US Treasury statistics, China held $1.6 trillion in US public debt in September 2012. Any significant upward spike in interest rates or decision by East Asian countries to stop lending to the US government would have potentially catastrophic economic consequences.

Writing in Foreign Affairs on US trade and budget deficits during Obama’s first term, economist Fred Bergsten noted that “foreign investors might at some point refuse to finance these deficits on terms compatible with US prosperity. Any sudden stop in lending to the United States would drive the dollar down, push inflation and interest rates up, and perhaps bring on a hard landing for the United States—and the world economy at large.”

In response to these Washington is ruthlessly plunging ahead, aiming to push through its policies and avoid economic collapse through war threats and nuclear intimidation.

The Role of MI6 in the Assassination of Patrice Lumumba

April 8th, 2013 by Abayomi Azikiwe

A recent letter to the London Review of Books has opened back up discussions about those responsible for the assassination of revolutionary Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba, a charismatic and popular organizer during the 1958-1960 period, captivated the hearts and minds of the majority of his people and the African continent during the struggle against Belgian colonialism.

David Lea, a member of the House of Lords, wrote the letter in response to a review of a book on the history of MI6 entitled “Empire and Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War and the Twilight of Empire” by Calder Walton. Lea’s letter referenced the passage in the book by Walton that said “The question remains whether British plots to assassinate Lumumba…ever amounted to anything. At present we do not know.”

Lea wrote that “Actually, in this particular case, I can report that we do. It so happens that I was having a cup of tea with Daphne Park…. She had been consul and first secretary in Leopoldville, now Kinshasha, from 1959 to 1961, which in practice meant head of MI6 there.”

Lea continues claiming that “I mentioned the uproar surrounding Lumumba’s abduction and murder, and recalled the theory that MI6 might have had something to do with it. ‘We did,’ she replied, ‘I organized it.’”

This same British official reports Park felt, as many in the West did at the time, that if a pro-imperialist regime did not take control of Congo the country’s mineral resources would be taken by the Soviet Union. Lumumba was labeled as a communist during this time and such propaganda by the western press was utilized to justify the coup against him and his ultimate brutal assassination.

In an interview with The Hindu, Lea stressed “That’s the conversation I had with her and that’s what she told me. I have nothing more to add” in regard to how such allegations could be substantiated.

After retiring from the diplomatic and intelligence divisions of the British government, Park was appointed as a Life peer as Baroness Park of Monmouth. Her colleagues in the House of Lords noted that she was a spokesperson for the Secret Intelligence Service. In addition she had served briefly as the head of Somerville College, Oxford University.

MI6 refused to comment on the allegation made by Lea. Lumumba’s assassination sparked protests throughout Africa and the world.

Role of the U.S. in the Overthrow and Assassination of Lumumba

It was not only Britain that sought the overthrow of Lumumba. Many people believe based upon U.S. foreign policy at the time as well as the subsequent release of formally classified documents, that the White House under Dwight D. Eisenhower engineered the plot against the Congolese patriot.

The U.S. role in the assassination of Lumumba was documented by the 1975 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearings, chaired by Idaho Senator Frank Church. A former National Security staffer, Robert Johnson, reported about a senior level meeting involving President Eisenhower and high ranking intelligence officers where the decision was reached to assassinate Patrice Lumumba.

According to Johnson’s recollections, “At some time during the discussion, President Eisenhower said something—I can no longer remember his words—that came across to me as an order for the assassination of Lumumba who was then at the center of political conflict and controversy in the Congo. There was no discussion; the meeting simply moved on. I remember my sense of that moment quite clearly because the President’s statement came as a great shock to me.” (Taken from “The Congo Cables”, p. 54, by Madelaine Kalb)

Further confirmation of the role of the Eisenhower administration in the coup against Lumumba was made by Lawrence Devlin, who served as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) field officer in Congo during 1960. Devlin later admitted that he had received instructions to carry out an assassination plan against Lumumba.

Devlin, in his book entitled “Chief of Station, Congo,” said that the orders were given by CIA Deputy Chief of Plans Dick Bissel. He claims that one method of assassination contemplated was poisoning where Lumumba’s toothpaste would be laced with a deadly chemical agent.

Although Devlin claimed that he balked at the order and later abandoned it based upon his own political judgments about the situation involving U.S.-Congolese relations, such denials of refusing to carry out orders from superiors are highly unlikely in such an organization as the CIA. It has been well documented that the CIA was involved in numerous destabilization operations, coups and assassinations in Africa and other parts of the world. (See “In Search of Enemies,” by John Stockwell, 1984)

Devlin did admit to supporting two military coups led by Mobutu Sese Seko, the U.S. strongman in Congo. These coups took place in September 1960 against Lumumba and in November 1965 in response to the power vacuum left by the removal of secessionist Moise Tshombe who was later made prime minister of Congo in 1964 after his divisive role in the mineral-rich region of Katanga in 1960.

The former CIA station chief justified his support of Mobuto saying that it was correct for the U.S. to install an anti-communist dictator as a bulwark against leftist influence in Congo. Devlin was later appointed as head of CIA operations in Laos in efforts to prevent the revolutionaries from taking power from a Washington-backed regime during the Vietnam War.

Later Devlin served as the Africa Division Chief for the CIA. He worked for the Agency officially until 1974.

British Intelligence Documents Must Be Released on Congo

It is important in light of these allegations made by David Lea and the questions raised by Walton’s book that documents be released by MI6 on their role in Congo during 1959-1961. On the London Review Books’ blog Bernard Porter wrote that these statements made by both Lea and Walton provide “All the more reason to open up the archives. For those of us who always suspected things like this were going on, only to be smeared by the authorities—i.e. the conspirators themselves—as conspiracy ‘theorists’….” (LRB, April 5)

At the same time Porter goes on to reflect that “On the other hand perhaps we shouldn’t expect too much. Another of the revelations in Walton’s book was that colonial officials sometimes destroyed incriminating documents and then replaced them with forgeries, to fool the historian. You can never know where you are with secret history, which only encourages the conspiracy theorists.”

The coup which overthrew Lumumba’s government and the brutal execution of the Prime Minister along with two of his comrades, Maurice Mpolo, the Minister of Youth and Sports and Joseph Okito, President of the Congolese Senate, on January 17, 1961, was a devastating blow to the African Revolution. Congo became a strategic base for the CIA and its war to halt the inevitable total liberation of Southern Africa that was eventually realized in the 1990s after the massive intervention of Cuban internationalists in Angola between 1975-1989 and the fortification of the national liberation movements of the South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) of Namibia and the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa.

Even today the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is source of instability for the African continent. Large sections of the eastern region of the country that are mineral-rich remain outside the control of the central government in Kinshasha.

Multi-national mining corporations are continuing their theft of Congolese mineral resources and consequently fueling instability. The Congolese people are still tasked with the necessity of gaining complete control over their territory and state.

Abayomi Azikiwe is Editor, Pan-African News Wire

This is a documentary of 7 parts, broadcasted by Syria TV, with subtitles in English, about the war launched by the Islamist fighters in Aleppo.  

Source: Syrian TV:

Copyright Syrian TV All rights reserved. Web dev. Eng. Iyad Khuder, [email protected]

Thanks to Silvia Cattori for bringing this to our attention, visit her website:


Aleppo, the Castle – Part 1, broadcast on 11-11-2012

Aleppo, the Castle, Part 2, broadcast on 24-11-2012

Aleppo, the Castle, Part 3: broadcast on 30-11-2012

Aleppo, the Castle, Part 4, broadcasted on 09-12-2012

Aleppo, the Castle, Part 5, broadcasted on 02-01-2013


Jornalista de carreira, Ernesto Villegas Poljak é o ministro do Poder Popular para Comunicação e Informação da República Bolivariana da Venezuela desde outubro de 2012. Caçula de uma família comunista de oito filhos, nascido em 1970, Villegas se impregnou de política desde cedo. Seu pai, Cruz Villegas, era um sindicalista prestigiado, presidente da Central Única dos Trabalhadores da Venezuela (CUTV) e vice-presidente da Federação Sindical Mundial. Sua mãe, Maja Poljak, originária da extinta Iugoslávia, era jornalista e reconhecida militante social.

Villegas trabalhou para a imprensa escrita, rádio e televisão. Dirigiu, entre outros, Ciudad Caracas, publicação da prefeitura da capital, e foi apresentador de vários programas na emissora pública VTV(Venezolana de Televisión). Ele também é escritor e seu último livro de pesquisa, Abril, golpe adentro, sobre o golpe de Estado de 2002 contra o presidente Hugo Chávez, foi unanimemente reconhecido pela crítica.

Agência Efe (07/01)

Villegas foi responsável por fazer os anúncios sobre o estado de saúde de Chávez após a última cirurgia do presidente

Nestas conversas, o ministro descreve o estado de ânimo da sociedade venezuelana depois do desaparecimento de Chávez e o legado deixado pelo líder da Revolução Bolivariana. Evoca também as perspectivas eleitorais de 14 de abril de 2013, a atitude da oposição, a relação especial com Cuba, assim como as tensões com os Estados Unidos.

Opera Mundi: A Venezuela se encontra em plena campanha eleitoral, uma vez que está prevista uma nova eleição presidencial em 14 de abril de 2013, na qual se enfrentarão o atual presidente interino da República, Nicolás Maduro, e o principal candidato da oposição, Henrique Capriles.
Ernesto Villegas: Este novo processo eleitoral, não previsto, ocorre após o desaparecimento do presidente Chávez, conforme estabelece nossa Constituição. Vários sentimentos se misturam: a dor, a tristeza, e as lágrimas pela repentina partida do nosso presidente, e o entusiasmo, a energia e alegria próprios de qualquer campanha eleitoral.

A Venezuela se encontra em pleno debate de ideias, com confrontação de modelos e comparação de projetos de sociedade, em um contexto marcado por circunstâncias trágicas. É uma mistura bastante rara de sentimentos, ditada por essa imprevisível realidade.

Chávez era uma pessoa que respirava e transmitia alegria. Era a imagem de seu povo. A alegria faz parte da idiossincrasia venezuelana e eu o convido a participar de qualquer manifestação bolivariana de apoio à candidatura de Nicolás Maduro para perceber esse fenômeno. O povo está convencido de que Chávez, por meio da eleição de Maduro, estará sempre entre nós, ainda que sempre nos falte sua presença física. Viverá sempre na esperança do povo venezuelano e em suas lutas por um mundo melhor.

OM: As forças em torno de Nicolás Maduro estão unidas?
EV: Não temos nenhuma dúvida sobre o sucessor de Hugo Chávez, pois respeitaremos escrupulosamente a sua vontade. A Revolução Bolivariana continuará no caminho traçado pelo presidente Chávez. Sem a mensagem de Chávez de 8 de dezembro de 2012, no dia 6 de março talvez tivesse havido um 27 de fevereiro social e político. Só podemos render tributo e homenagem a sua capacidade de antecipar os eventos e a sua visão de futuro. Alguns tentaram dissuadi-lo de pronunciar aquela mensagem durante seu último discurso, no qual pediu ao povo bolivariano que elegesse Maduro como seu sucessor no caso de ele não voltar mais.


Chávez nasceu em 28 de julho de 1954, em Sabaneta, Estado de Barinas



OM: Qual foi a resposta de Chávez?
EV: Ele se negou categoricamente a mudar de opinião. “Devo a verdade ao meu povo”, disse. Ele estava em Cuba e voltou apenas para fazer esse discurso televisionado e avisar ao povo que o câncer havia reaparecido e que deveria travar uma nova batalha. Adiou a cirurgia, com risco para sua saúde pessoal, para voltar à Venezuela e se expressar diante do povo. Só podemos agradecê-lo por isso. Ele sabia que tinha que guiar mais uma vez seus compatriotas.

OM: Como o senhor vê esse processo eleitoral?
EV: Trata-se de uma nova eleição que Chávez ganhará por meio de Nicolás Maduro, pois é o estrategista fundamental. Tal como o Cid, conseguirá a vitória. É o comandante não apenas do ponto de visa metafísico. Com efeito, antes do triste desenlace de 5 de março de 2013, Chávez já havia traçado o caminho.

Teria podido viajar a Cuba para ser operado sem dizer nada. Ninguém lhe pediu nada. Mas quis fazê-lo e anunciar a notícia ao povo. Assim, traçou o caminho eleitoral para a Revolução pedindo ao povo para seguir Maduro e elegê-lo como novo presidente. A vontade de Chávez se traduz no voto do povo que manifestou massivamente sua dor e tristeza nas ruas nos últimos tempos. Os venezuelanos votarão com alegria, entusiasmo e esperança por Nicolás Maduro no dia 14 de abril. Não tenho dúvida alguma em relação a isso. A Revolução conseguirá novamente um sucesso retumbante.

OM: Qual sua opinião sobre a oposição liderada por Henrique Capriles?
EV: A oposição é uma coligação de ambições e interesses heterogêneos, única apenas pelo ódio a Chávez e ao povo bolivariano. É incapaz de compreender que vivemos em uma época diferente e que não voltaremos ao passado. Ocorre que os velhos partidos políticos, das elites econômicas e da oligarquia, não admitem perder o poder político, que considera como sua propriedade exclusiva.

O fator racial e racista também marca a oposição. Não admite que um negro pobre esteja no centro do poder. O ódio a Chávez resume todas as misérias morais da condição humana: o racismo e o ódio de classe, o ódio aos pobres.

OM: O governo acusa a oposição de estar sob a influência de Washington. Em que se baseia?
EV: A oposição se submete a Washington e segue suas diretrizes. É fácil demonstrar. A senhora Roberta Jacobson, do Departamento de Estado, em uma entrevista ao jornal espanhol El País, colocou em dúvida o sistema eleitoral venezuelano, quando todas as instituições internacionais saúdam sua transparência. Absolutamente todas, exceto o Departamento de Estado dos Estados Unidos. Imediatamente, os meios privados antichavistas e a oposição começaram a questionar nosso sistema eleitoral, ao qual sempre legitimaram, pois participaram das eleições regionais de dezembro de 2012 e aceitaram os resultados das urnas. Esse mesmo sistema lhes permitiu ganhar as eleições em alguns estados, ainda que com uma ínfima margem, como foi o caso do estado de Miranda, dirigido atualmente pelo candidato da oposição Henrique Capriles. Os resultados foram respeitados em todas as partes, inclusive onde a oposição foi maioria.

OM: A oposição acusa o Conselho Nacional Eleitoral de ser parcial.
EV: Este mesmo Conselho Nacional Eleitoral que a oposição tanto menospreza, a que Capriles acusa de todos os males, é o mesmo que declarou vencedor o candidato da oposição no estado de Miranda – isto é, Capriles. Na realidade, a oposição segue escrupulosamente as diretrizes da senhora Jacobson e isso explica as atuais campanhas de desprestígio contra o Conselho Nacional Eleitoral. A oposição inclusive pensou em retirar seu candidato para desacreditar o processo eleitoral. Correm alguns rumores a esse respeito. Capriles recebeu instruções nesse sentido. Esperamos que mantenha sua candidatura e que respeite as regras democráticas.

Leia mais: Chávez devolveu ao povo o sentimento de orgulho e dignidade nacional, diz ministro da Comunicação venezuelano

OM: Capriles avaliou a possibilidade de retirar sua candidatura?
EV: Segundo as informações das quais dispomos, ele tem estudado minuciosamente essa hipótese. Capriles sabe que vai perder as eleições de 14 de abril de 2013. Por certo, os políticos têm projetos a curso, médio e longo prazo e Capriles seguramente quererá ser a referência da oposição na vida política venezuelana, mas está consciente de que não tem nenhuma possibilidade de conseguir a vitória nas próximas eleições. Seus partidários também estão convencidos disso.

OM: Em sua opinião, Maduro vencerá a eleição de 14 de abril de 2013.
EV: Não há a menor dúvida. Inclusive, é possível que consigamos os dez milhões de votos, de modo a homenagear nosso Comandante desaparecido. Muitas vezes minimizou, se depreciou e se caricaturou a capacidade de convocatória de Chávez e a realidade mostrou a esses setores que eles estavam equivocados. Atribuíam isso ao mecanismo clientelista, à compra de opiniões ou ao exercício de coação sobre o aparato burocrático do Estado. As manifestações de 6 de março, por sua espontaneidade e caráter massivo, mostraram que não era certo.

OM: Os meios privados da Venezuela e os meios ocidentais se mostraram muito virulentos contra Chávez.
EV: Muitos descobriram a fraude do discurso dos meios privados e da oposição. Muitos compreenderam, por fim, que Chávez era um líder querido pela imensa maioria do povo, pois era o melhor amigos dos pobres. O povo saudou sua ação e seu legado. A História fará justiça a Chávez e o considerará como um dos grandes líderes de nosso tempo e da América Latina.

Acredito que nenhum dirigente político foi tão maltratado e menosprezado como Chávez. Veremos até onde chegam em sua tentativa de deslegitimar a democracia venezuelana e a vitória de Maduro. Pensam poder se aproveitar da ausência física de Chávez e estão convencidos de que o governo bolivariano de Maduro não será capaz de enfrentar a situação atual. Vão ficar de mãos abanando, pois a Revolução se beneficia de um apoio popular extraordinário, de um apoio militar forte, de um governo solidário, de instituições sólidas e de um programa – o Plano da Pátria – que traça as grandes linhas para o mandato seguinte e condensa as propostas do Comandante Chávez. Não duvido em nenhum momento da nossa força, apesar das ameaças, pois Chávez deixou um legado de valor extraordinário.

OM: Por que a oposição venezuelana sempre se negou a aceitar a legitimidade de Hugo Chávez?
EV: A oposição sente um ódio profundo pela verdadeira democracia, apesar de seus discursos litúrgicos a esse respeito. Apega-se aos ritos, mas se limita a eles, a uma democracia ritualista. Em vez de enfrentar o voto popular, prefere dar voltar em um artigo da Constituição e tentar subordinar a vontade majoritária do povo a sua interpretação particular e, sobretudo, falsa – como assim reconheceu o Supremo Tribunal – depois da eleição de Chávez em outubro de 2012 e o adiamento de sua posse por conta de seu problema de saúde. Ocorreu o mesmo com a posse do presidente Nicolás Maduro.

A oposição pensa que tudo deve mudar depois do desaparecimento físico do Comandante Chávez, esquecendo-se da continuidade constitucional e dos princípios elementares da democracia, que exigem que se respeite a soberania do povo. A oposição, que teve um comportamento antidemocrático desde a chegada ao poder de Hugo Chávez, pretende ensinar sobre a democracia e questiona a legitimidade do poder atual. É a mesma oposição que organizou o golpe de Estado de abril de 2002 e que impôs uma junta golpista cujo “presidente” [Pedro Carmona Estanga] fez um juramento não sobre a Constituição, mas sobre um papel em branco, pois rechaçava nossa nova Carta Magna, e dissolveu todos os poderes públicos. Essa oposição, que reprimiu o povo após o golpe de 11 de abril de 2002, pretende dar lições sobre o conceito de democracia.

OM: Em nível internacional, Chávez desempenhou um papel importante, particularmente na América Latina.
EV: Chávez foi um grande dirigente político. A Venezuela desempenha agora um papel importante em nível internacional e faz parte do legado do nosso Comandante que tentamos desenvolver e aprofundar. Não temos nenhuma dúvida de que, com a liderança de Nicolás Maduro, e o resto da equipe de governo da Revolução Bolivariana, seguiremos nesse mesmo caminho e reforçaremos essa herança.

OM: A Revolução Bolivariana teceu laços muito particulares com a Revolução Cubana, e as relações entre Hugo Chávez e Fidel Castro superaram o vínculo político dos chefes de Estado. Como se explica essa aliança entre Venezuela e Cuba?
EV: Convém lembrar que Hugo Chávez é, antes de tudo, um revolucionário, e Cuba é uma referência importante para todos os revolucionários do nosso continente, independente dos matizes particulares de cada nação. Cuba é todo um símbolo.

É inegável que sua famosa visita a Havana em 1994 e a generosa recepção oferecida por Fidel Castro, no aeroporto, o marcaram profundamente. Chávez descobriu uma Revolução cheia de amor e carinho. Uma vez no poder em 1999, Chávez fez de Cuba seu principal aliado, com a assinatura de acordos estratégicos em 2000. Esses acordos constituíram o marco para o progresso de todo o continente latino-americano. A relação pessoal entre Chávez e Fidel supera o marco político. É familiar.

OM: Chávez não vacilava ao qualificar Fidel como pai espiritual.
EV: Efetivamente, e essa relação foi muito complementar e nos permitiu aproveitar o melhor da Revolução Cubana, uma Revolução que surgiu em meados do século XX, e integrá-la à primeira Revolução do século XXI. O laço entre Chávez e Fidel simboliza também o laço entre uma Revolução adulta e uma Revolução nascente, o que é, em definitivo, uma combinação virtuosa.

Trata-se de uma relação pai/filho, na qual o pai não apenas assessora o filho, mas também aprende com ele e o vê construir seu projeto de sociedade em circunstâncias distintas, frente a uma adversidade especial, como o fato de ter nossa Miami [bastião da oposição cubana] no nosso próprio país. Os dois países enriqueceram mutuamente, pois ambas as Revoluções têm suas próprias particularidades e especificidades.

OM: A amizade pessoal entre Hugo Chávez e Fidel Castro também permitiu aproximar os dois povos.
EV: Sob um ponto de vista humano, as relações entre nossos dois povos são extraordinárias. Pudemos apreciar a solidariedade dos médicos e professores cubanos que se encontram na Venezuela. Muitos pacientes venezuelanos foram a Cuba para serem operados. Dispomos de intercâmbios em todos os campos possíveis, seja na saúde, educação, defesa, cultura, diplomacia etc.

OM: Pode-se falar de fusão entre ambos os povos?
EV: Sob um ponto de vista afetivo, sim. Agora, é verdade que cada país tem suas próprias características, sua própria história. Nossas instituições são diferentes e as condições de desenvolvimento de nosso projeto bolivariano também. Ninguém copia o modelo do outro, precisamente porque é impossível adotar um modelo em um país diferente.

No entanto, repito, o encontro entre nossos dois povos foi tem sido extraordinário. O capital humano cubano é impressionante e os médicos cubanos foram verdadeiramente solidários. Isso é admirável. A experiência de Fidel Castro e Raúl Castro, de toda a liderança cubana, permitiu que se desenvolvesse a Revolução Bolivariana. Só podemos sentir admiração em relação ao povo cubano. Essa relação especial permitiu reforçar os laços entre nossos dois povos, que compartilham muitas aspirações comuns, a mesma música, os mesmos interesses culinários e esportivos. Apesar de nossos destinos históricos diferentes, nossos povos se parecem muito e Chávez e Fidel permitiram que nos reencontrássemos.

OM: A Venezuela apoiou muito Cuba, que enfrenta sérias dificuldades econômicas. Fidel Castro classificou Hugo Chávez como “o melhor amigo que o povo cubano teve”.
EV: Chávez sempre foi generoso com os povos. Teve que enfrentar todas as pressões dos setores que desejavam que se mercantilizasse a relação com Cuba. Mas Chávez é, antes de tudo, bolivariano e, por conseguinte, latino-americano. A oposição, que agora invoca Bolívar, se esquece de que nosso Libertador nunca pediu nada para contribuir com a emancipação dos povos. Esses “bolivarianos” de circunstância se esquecem de que Bolívar recebeu armas de Alejandro Petión sem pagar um centavo.

OM: A oposição acusa o governo justamente de dar petróleo de presente a Cuba.
EV: A oposição deseja que coloquemos fim às condições comerciais favoráveis que oferecemos a nossos irmãos cubanos e latino-americanos. Não damos nosso petróleo de presente a ninguém. Nós o vendemos a preços de mercado com facilidades de pagamento. É normal e natural nas relações internacionais, sobretudo entre povos irmãos. Chávez foi uma pessoa extraordinária que rompeu com esse paradigma mercantil e o substituiu por um paradigma da solidariedade.

OM: Essa relação se manterá após o desaparecimento de Chávez?
EV: Essa relação não apenas se manterá, mas se aprofundará ainda mais. Nossos laços com nossos irmãos cubanos nunca foram tão fortes, e se reforçarão ainda mais no futuro.

A direita racista e xenófoba, que menospreza tanto os cubanos, ficará de mãos abanando. Imagine o comportamento mesquinho da oposição, que coloca o tema de Cuba na agenda eleitoral, sem se dar conta de que é uma manobra condenada ao fracasso e cujo alcance se limita aos setores anticomunistas da sociedade, que são uma minoria. A oposição dispõe de muitas tribunas midiáticas, mas sua influência sobre o povo é muito limitada.

OM: A Venezuela está disposta a normalizar as relações com os Estados Unidos?
EV: A Venezuela expressou sua vontade de melhorar as relações com os Estados Unidos. No entanto, houve declarações e ações por parte de Washington que tornam essa normalização impossível. Houve declarações desafortunadas da senhora Roberta Jacobson e ações hostis por parte de agregados militares norte-americanos em Caracas, que contactaram militares venezuelanos para convidá-los a conversar sobre a situação do país a fim de influenciá-los, o que constitui uma grave interferência nos assuntos internos da nossa nação.

O governo venezuelano se viu obrigado a romper os canais de comunicação com os Estados Unidos depois dessas ações hostis. Parece que, em termos de política exterior, os falcões do Departamento de Estado impõem sua agenda às pombas, ainda que eu acredite que a interferência e o intervencionismo são inerentes às política de Washington. A Venezuela terá relações normais e pacíficas com todos os países que respeitem nossa soberania, assim como nós respeitamos a soberania das demais nações. É uma condição sine qua non. Os princípios não são negociáveis e, como diria Augusto César Sandino, “a soberania não se negocia e se defende com as armas”.

*Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos da Universidade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor titular da Universidad de la Réunion e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro se intitula The Economic War Against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2013, com um prólogo de Wayne S. Smith e um prefácio de Paul Estrade.
Contato: [email protected] ; [email protected] 
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It’s the third month since the French troops entered Mali. The action entailed the involvement of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA), an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) organized military mission, sent to support the government of ECOWAS member nation Mali against Islamist rebels in the north of the country. Its strength has reached around six and a half thousand troops by the end of March. (1) Still the French and AFISMA forces have failed to crush the resistance of the terrorists as yet.

The fighting continues in the Adrar des Ifoghas and the areas around the towns of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. The armed formations are mobile enough, according to reports off and on they get into towns and cities, including Bamako. The humanitarian situation remains hard to manage. Around half a million people (2) have become refugees, about 300 thousand have been displaced. Approximately 200 thousand Malians have been received by Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso. Hunger is a threat: 750 thousand urgently need food aid, 660 thousand children suffer from lack of food, including 210 thousand who face most extreme form of malnutrition.  (3)

Dioncounda Traore, interim President of the Republic of Mali, sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council dated 25 February 2013 asking to support the rapid deployment of AFISMA in Mali. But he wants to do it in an special way – by transforming AFISMA into a «United Nations stabilization and peacekeeping operation» in accordance with the provisions of United Nations Security Council resolution 2085 (2012) in order to restore the authority and sovereignty of the Malian State throughout its territory». (4) Looks like the request happened to be exactly what the Secretary General was waiting for.

On April 3 the United Nations Security Council held a session devoted to the situation in Mali to discuss the report of the Secretary General on new proposals related to the crisis management. He responded favorably to the request of the Malian President and worked out a plan to transform AFISMA into a UN peacekeeping mission. Ban Ki-moon offered two options of the plan.

According to the first option, the UN could set up an «expanded political office» and let AFISMA do security and peacekeeping duties outside UN control. If a peacekeeping force was mandated, the report said the present UN mission would be «subsumed» into it. The UN, then, would support the Malian political process, carry out stabilization tasks, protect human rights and support AFISMA. The first option envisages AFISMA’s responsibility for security and support of Malian armed forces. It will be mandated to conduct offensive actions against armed extremists. The United Nations would increase the AFISMA’s operational capabilities using the UN Trust Fund and, possibly, the logistics support package approved by the Security Council. At that, The European Union would continue efforts to train the Mali’s armed forces. The support could also be rendered to Malian defense and security structures through the UN’s Trust Fund for the African support mission AFISMA and the Malian armed forces. The option of the plan envisages the transformation of AFISMA into a UN peacekeeping force, in case the UN Security Council finds the measure expedient and endorses it. The second option of the plan presupposes the formation of a stabilization mission according to article VII of the UN Charter along with a parallel force. Aside from the political mandate, the mission would be responsible for security and stabilization, protection of civilians and humanitarian aid. The activities would be conducted in strict accordance with the rules of engagement. As the second option envisions, the major part of AFISMA staffers would join the United Nations stabilization mission. Military, police and civil components of the mission would be mainly deployed in the north, leaving just a token presence in Bamako. The parallel force would act alongside the UN mission taking the responsibility for large-scale military operations and providing experts support outside the UN mandate.

The both options could be construed as the gradual transformation of the present situation to the phase of UN stabilization efforts including the establishment of the parallel force. The UN Secretary General’s proposals are substantiated by the fact that, «the options presented in the present report are based on a frank appraisal of the current political and security environment, as well as a thorough analysis of the comparative advantage of the United Nations vis а vis other international actors in the ongoing effort to bring peace and stability to Mali. They take into account the fact that the United Nations is operating in a new geopolitical context and faces threats that have not been encountered before in a peacekeeping context. The situation on the ground remains fluid. Although the extremists and criminal elements have been dealt a heavy blow, they continue to pose a significant threat to the safety and security of the civilian population and any United Nations personnel deployed in Mali. The recent suicide bombing in Timbuktu and the fighting in Gao are a stark reminder that the risk of a major deterioration of the security situation remains ever present». (5)

During the April 3 session the representative of Mali opted for the second option. (6) According to him, the Mali’s government is confident that the option would let it reach its goals: to restore the sovereignty over the national territory, to stabilize the situation in the country and to apply efforts for national reconciliation. The African Union has changed its stance too. In mid-March a revised concept of African Union mission was submitted to the United Nations. It envisions being expanded by the mission of the United Nations. At the same time, it does not say the AFISMA mission should be subjugated by the presence of the UN. The revised document puts it straight – AFISMA is not to limit its activities by Mali and it can spread it to the neighboring states (with their consent).  (7)

It’s important to point out the stance of ECOWAS. By the end of March the session of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staffs (CCDS) came to conclusion AFISMA was to be urgently provided with necessary means to enable it to take over the functions carried out by French forces (an ECOWAS representative said it was planned to pull them out in the near future). The re-hating of AFISMA tentatively planned to take off by July 2013, envisages a troops’ strength of 11,200 and 1,440 police officers for the robust assignment under the aegis of the UN to rid Mali of terrorism and criminal insurgency and also to restore the country’s territorial integrity with support for the national armed forces. Burkina-Fasp, Niger, Togo, Nigeria, Chad, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Guinea, Cote D’Ivoire and Gambia have already agreed to join and deploy their ground forces contingents.

ECOWAS has sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary General strongly recommending to transform AFISMA into a UN stabilization mission with a robust mandate.  (8)

Besides, ECOWAS stands for the establishment of the parallel force acting alongside the UN mission capable to counter terrorists and rebels. ECOWAS Authority urged UN Security Council to authorize the deployment of the international military force in Mali in conformity with Article 7 of the UN Charter.

Demands for «robust mandate» and evoking article 7 (the article allows the use of force) can mean Mali and ECOWAS want to expand the Congolese experience. A few days ago the United Nations Security Council adopted an intriguing resolution, which was largely unnoticed while being of enormous importance. For the first time since 1960 the UN Mission in Congo was mandated to engage in combat. On March 28, 2013 the United Nations Security Council extended the mission for a year and authorized an intervention brigade will carry out targeted offensive operations, alone or with the Congolese national army, against armed groups that threaten peace in the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo. The authorized strength of the force is twenty thousand (!) (9) The composition will include three battalions, an artillery battery, a company of special operations forces and a reconnaissance company. The mission is «to neutralize and disarm militant groups». The wording of the resolution and the composition of the unit leave no doubt the ‘neutralization» means waging combat actions.

* * *

The concept of crisis management in Mali has gone through an about-face. The Africans are made to refuse the idea of tackling the conflict themselves. The African Mission – AFISMA has failed. One of the reasons – it never got the funds it needed. The United Nations and the donor-states have refused to finance an African mission. But they agree to reverse their stand in case the UN would be a decision maker. At that, the very same AFISMA forces would do the job, but under the command of «international community»… It all seems to be in conformity with logic against the background of toppling Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader in 2011, who promoted the idea of creating inter-African peacekeeping forces and the overthrow of Amadou Toumani Tourй, former President of Mali, who was to become the commander-in-chief of new contingent.


(1) According to the information of the United Nations Secretary General dated March 26, 2013. At that, it’s only around 80% of the planned strength (9500). 
(2) According to the stimated by effrey D. Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, the number exceeds 470 thousand (US document S/PV.6944. С.3)
(3) Same, p.4
(4) Letter of Mr. Dioncounda Traorй, interim President of the Republic of Mali
addressed to the President of the Security Council dated 26 February 2013// UN Document: S/2013/113 .
(5) Rapport du Secretaire general sur la situation au Mali, 26 mars 2013, // UN Documents: S/2013/189.
(6) Ref. Verbatim report on UNSC session, March 3, 2013// UN Document: S/PV.6944. p.4.
(7) Letter dated 15 March 2013 fromthe Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council, operations of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali, adopted by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union at its 358th meeting, held on 7 March 2013 //paragraph 14//UN Document S/2013/163. p.9.
(8) См. выступление представителя ЭКОВАС на заседании СБ ООН 3 апреля 2013 года, // ECOWAS representative speech, UNSC session, April 3, 2013//UN Document S/PV.6944.
(9) UNSC resolution № 2098 (2013), March 28, 2013 // UN Document S/RES/2098 (2013) - pdf?OpenElement

Image: Retired Col. James Steele

Official Washington has long ignored the genocide and terrorism that Ronald Reagan inflicted on Central America in the 1980s, making it easier to genuflect before the Republican presidential icon. That also helped Reagan’s “death squad” tactics resurface in Iraq last decade.

A recent British documentary Death squads, torture, secret prisons in Iraq, and General David Petraeus are among the featured atrocities in a new British documentary – “James Steele: America’s Mystery Man in Iraq” – the result of a 15-month investigation by Guardian Films and BBC Arabic, exploring war crimes long denied by the Pentagon but confirmed by thousands of military field reports made public by WikiLeaks.

The hour-long film explores the arc of American counterinsurgency brutality from Vietnam to Iraq, with stops along the way in El Salvador and Nicaragua. James Steele is now a retired U.S. colonel who first served in Vietnam as a company commander in 1968-69.  He later made his reputation as a military adviser in El Salvador, where he guided ruthless Salvadoran death squads in the 1980s.

When his country called again in 2003, he came out of retirement to train Iraqi police commandos in the bloodiest techniques of counterinsurgency that evolved into that country’s Shia-Sunni civil war that at its peak killed 3,000 people a month. Steele now lives in a gated golf community in Brian, Texas, and did not respond to requests for an interview for the documentary bearing his name.

News coverage of this documentary has been largely absent in mainstream media. The Guardian had a report, naturally, at the time of release and “Democracy Now” had a longsegment on March 22 that includes an interview with veteran, award-winning reporter Maggie O’Kane, as well as several excerpts from the movie she directed. The documentary is availableonline at the Guardian and several other websites.

“James Steele” opens with a montage of soldiers, some masked, taking prisoners, some hooded, as the woman narrator sets the stage:

“This is one of the great untold stories of the Iraq War, how just over a year after the invasion, the United States funded a sectarian police commando force that set up a network of torture centers to fight the [Sunni] insurgency….

“This is also the story of James Steele, the veteran of America’s dirty war in El Salvador. He was in charge of the U.S. advisers who trained notorious Salvadoran paramilitary units to fight left-wing guerrillas. In the course of that civil war, 75,000 people died, and over a million people became refugees. Steele was chosen by the Bush administration to work with General David Petraeus to organize these paramilitary police commandos.”

Secret Prisons, Torture, Death Squads

The documentary concentrates on the creation and activities of the Iraqi police commandos who executed American policy in the face of Iraqi resistance the U.S. had never anticipated, having expected to be greeted as liberators.

There are only glancing references to the policy failures that created the crisis, such as disbanding the army and most of the government of Iraq or assuming that six U.S. police professionals would be sufficient to train a civilian police force capable of keeping peace in a nation of 30 million people.

Steele was in Iraq early in 2003 as an “energy consultant” with easy access to authorities like Gen. Petraeus, even though what he actually did in Iraq remained a mystery to most people. As the Sunni insurgency developed, Steele was brought in to organize counterinsurgency. Though still, technically, a civilian, he worked closely with Gen. Petraeus and reported directly to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Steele set about working with Iraqi officers to organize “special police units” under military control, as the notion of a civilian police force faded. By April 2005, there were nine battalions of these police commandos operating in Iraq, with some 5,000 in Baghdad alone.

With more and more bodies left on the streets during the night, with secret prisons spreading across the country, with reports of disappearances and torture proliferating, the New York Times took notice, at least to the extent of publishing a Sunday magazine cover story on May 1, 2005, by Peter Maass titled, “The Salvadorization of Iraq.”

By then, anyone who wanted to know the level of American-sanctioned brutality in Iraq would have had little difficulty doing so. Conditions worsened and reports kept coming throughout 2005 and 2006.

On October 2005, one of the Iraqi generals involved in the secret prisons fled Iraq and spoke out publicly from Jordan about what was happening in his country. Steele came to visit the general in Jordan, the general recalled, apparently to see if the general had any evidence – pictures, documents, tapes that could give Steele cause for concern. None have yet appeared.

Of course American media did not pursue the terror-fighting-terror story very hard, and the U.S. government denied most bad news. At a news conference on Nov. 29, 2005, a reporter asked a timid question about the killings and Secretary Rumsfeld said he had not seen any reports.  Following a weak follow-up question, he said he had no data from the field – even though the truth was that Steele had reported six weeks earlier that the Shia death squads were operating effectively from his perspective.

Cold, Heartless, Ruthless, Fruitless

In the documentary, Steele is described as a cold and ruthless man by an Iraqi who knew him.  “He lacks human feeling,” the Iraqi general says, “his heart has died.”

The moral vacuity of the American leadership during the Iraq War is illustrated in an exchange at a press briefing on international human rights law, in particular the treatment of prisoners, that illustrates Secretary Rumsfeld’s polite but ignorant numbness:

Gen. Peter Pace: It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it.

Rumsfeld: But I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.

Pace: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.

Rumsfeld, presumably never present during inhumane treatment of a prisoner, apparently never made any effort to stop it, or to report it, or even to know about it. In that he was following the classic pattern of a cover-up as articulated by Nixon fund-raiser Maurice Stans during Watergate: “I don’t want to know, and you don’t want to know.”

The Guardian/BBC investigation into torture and death squads on Rumsfeld’s watch started after WikiLeaks provided the Guardian with almost 400,000 previously secret U.S. Army field reports, whose release is attributed to Bradley Manning. The Pentagon has not disputed the truth of the documents.

The U.S. government has arrested and tortured Manning, 25, a former intelligence officer who is currently on trial in a military court where he has pled guilty to 10 of 22 charges for which he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison. The prosecution is demanding a life sentence.

After the Stele documentary was released March 6, the Guardian invited comment from the Pentagon.  Having declined to take part in the documentary as it was being made, the Pentagon said it would study the film and perhaps comment at a later date.

Unhappy with the documentary in a completely different way is Kieran Kelly whose blog critiques the movie under the headline: “The Guardian’s Death Squad Documentary May Shock and Disturb, But the Truth is Far Worse” – a claim he argues at length. For example, he criticizes the movie’s acceptance that “only” 120,000 Iraqis died in this American war, and he wonders how that “fact” squares with a million widows in Iraq?

Realistically, ten years after the American invasion, the Iraq war isn’t close to over. It’s just that, having prompted the Iraqis to kill each other the U.S. has left them to it.

[For more details on Reagan's policies in Central America, see's "How Reagan Promoted Genocide."]

William Boardman lives in Vermont, where he has produced political satire for public radio and served as a lay judge.


Given the current conflict in Syria, there are many in the alternative media whose main focus when reporting on the fighting is the actions of the rebels. This has earned such media outlets and writers the taunts and attacks of others who label them “regime apologists.” I have personally had such labels thrown at me when I’ve posted work in other places. Yet, such accusations are quite untrue and the reasons for such baseless accusations must be explored.Generally speaking, the media has portrayed the Syrian conflict (as well as the Libyan conflict and many others) in stark, almost comic book-esque terms where the side of the US and its allies are portrayed as the ‘good guys’ and whoever is the enemy at the moment, portrayed as a ‘bad guy.’

This can lead to a situation where one immediately thinks in absolutist terms and assumes that anything that isn’t criticism of the ‘bad’ side is actually support of it. On a somewhat deeper level, this shows just how much power the mainstream media has in shaping the opinions of people, rather than the ‘objective’ journalism that is supposed to occur where simply the facts are presented and people are left to look more into the situation and make up their own minds.

While people and sites that are accused of being ‘regime apologists,’ the fact of the matter is that what they are doing is actually quite logical and helpful. For example, during the war in Libya, the mainstream media was reporting stories to the effect that that Gaddafi was giving his soldiers Viagra to engage in mass rape. And more recently with regards to Syria, the mainstream media has been reporting that there is a “high probability” that Assad used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. However, the Viagra story turned out to be false and there is no conclusive evidence that government forces in Syria used chemical weapons.

In this context, it is important to realize that these so-called regime apologists are actually providing the reader with more information and aiding to show a more balanced view of current events. Articles focusing solely on the atrocities that rebels have committed is positive as the crimes that despotic regimes commit can be found rather easily as they are reported on exhaustively, whereas the war crimes of rebels are often ignored.

There are those that argue that sites such as Global Research, which published articles discussing Gaddafi’s social programs and questioning such incidents as the Houla massacre, support the dictatorial regimes of Gaddafi and Assad. Yet, this ignores the fact that such outlets are rightfully questioning these events as the mainstream media has been shown to get such stories quite wrong.

In addition to this, outlets that question the general narrative are needed as many times they analyze the situation within a much larger framework, allowing for a more complete understanding of a conflict. Essentially what such outlets do is ask questions that others won’t or can’t ask, even if they do seem extreme.

We must always ask questions, for that is the only way we will get to the truth.

Devon DB is a 21 year old independent writer and researcher. He can be contacted at devondb[at]mail[dot]com.

In October 2005, at the height of the speculative financial bubble that eventually cost taxpayers trillions of dollars and devastated millions of lives, Citigroup Equity Strategy analysts Ajay Kapur, Niall Macleod and Narendra Singh published their provocative, though accurate portrayal of bourgeois amorality, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances.

According to these worthies, the egregious economic disparities between the filthy ruling rich and the rest of us revolve around the salient fact that the “world is dividing into two blocs–the plutonomies where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few,” and the great mass of proletarians who need to sit down, shut up and worship at the feet of their masters.

To whit, their evocation of “disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist-friendly cooperative governments . . . overseas conquests invigorating wealth creation” as the engines driving capitalism’s criminogenic “wealth waves . . . exploited best by the rich and educated,” recalled Orwell’s dystopian vision of a future which imagined “a boot stamping on a human face–forever.”

In a follow-up piece published in March 2006, Citi claimed that “so long as the rich continue to get richer, the likelihood of these conundrums [obscene income disparities] resolving themselves through traditionally disruptive means (currency collapses, consumer recessions etc) looks low.”

Indeed, “While we have concerns about the spending power of the middle-income consumer in the US in the event of a housing slowdown, the richest 10% are less exposed to a housing slowdown, as their wealth is more diversified.”

In other words, while Citi’s “plutonomic” clients were gobbling up an ever greater share of the world’s wealth, hyperinflating the real estate bubble and peddling fraudulent “investment instruments” that still threaten to drive the global economy into the abyss, “we believe that the rich are going to keep getting richer in coming years, as capitalists (the rich) get an even bigger share of GDP as a result, principally, of globalization.”

“We expect the global pool of labor in developing economies to keep wage inflation in check,” they opined, “and profit margins rising–good for the wealth of capitalists, relatively bad for developed market unskilled/outsource-able labor.”

If you’re an average worker, even one with an advanced degree and mountains of student debt, well, too bad suckers!

What could go wrong with this rosy picture? “Beyond war, inflation, the end of the technology/productivity wave, and financial collapse, we think the most potent and short-term threat would be societies demanding a more ‘equitable’ share of wealth.” (emphasis added)

Worry not dear plutonomes, there’s an app for that too in the form of militarized police deploying the latest in “less than lethal” technologies–pepper spray, tear gas, tasers and the like to keep those uppity proles at bay!

Lost amidst their prattle about the merits of investing in firms which cater to the rich (“do I buy Bulgari, Burberry and Coach or do I limit my options to Hermes and Toll Brothers?” The consensus opinion: “Buy them all!”), was any discussion of the social costs of these massive frauds, bloody imperialist wars of conquest or the hyperinflation of bank balance sheets with veritable “wealth waves” generated by the global drug trade and organized crime, some “3.6 percent of GDP (2.3-5.5 percent) or around US$2.1 trillion in 2009,” according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

There you have it, “market wisdom” in all its glory from an insolvent, bailed out bank!

Handed some $45 billion (£29.78bn) in TARP funds, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve secretly backstopped more than $300 billion (£197.31bn) in toxic assets on their books in addition to the “$2.5 trillion [£1.64tn] of support from the American taxpayer through capital infusions, asset guarantees and low-cost loans,” as financial analyst Pam Martens pointed out in Wall Street on Parade.

‘Dark Alliance’ 2.0

Although journalists and researchers have spent decades documenting the links between secret state intelligence agencies like the CIA and organized crime conglomerates who butter their bread through global narcotics rackets, the role of major financial institutions in the grisly trade continues to be relegated by corporate media to the realm of “conspiracy theory.”

But in the wake of rising public anger over the Obama administration’s collusion with Wall Street drug banks, we were informed by The New York Times that the “Federal Reserve hit Citigroup with an enforcement action on Tuesday over breakdowns in money laundering controls that threatened to allow tainted money to move through the United States.”

According to the Times, the Federal Reserve “took aim at Citigroup and its subsidiary Banamex USA over failure to monitor cash transactions for potentially suspicious activity.”

The Fed’s Consent Order charged that Citigroup and Banamex USA “lacked effective systems of governance and internal controls to adequately oversee the activities of the Banks with respect to legal, compliance, and reputational risk related to the Banks’ respective BSA/AML [Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering] compliance programs.”

An unnamed bank spokeswoman told the Times, “Citi has made substantial progress in a comprehensive manner across products, business lines and geographies,” and will continue “to take the appropriate steps to address remaining requirements and build a strong and sustainable program.”

Nothing to see here, right?

Tellingly however, neither Citigroup nor Banamex USA admitted wrongdoing. In what is standard boilerplate in such agreements, the Fed meekly submitted that their “enforcement action” was issued “without this Order constituting an admission or denial by Citigroup of any allegation made or implied by the Board of Governors.” Nor did the Fed “give specific examples of problems” at either bank, Reuters reported.

During Senate Banking Committee hearings last month, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) grilled federal banking regulators over their non-prosecution of Wall Street drug banks.

Referencing penalties levied against HSBC after the British banking giant was caught red-handed laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, Warren demanded: “What does it take? How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords” before a criminal prosecution?

Judging by the actions of Obama’s Justice Department, apparently the sky’s the limit.

But if history is any guide to current Citigroup “lapses,” you can bet that the bank’s balance sheet is awash with dirty money.

As a prelude to the Federal Reserve’s Consent Order, last April the Office of the Currency (OCC) issued a cease-and-desist order charging Citigroup with “deficiencies in its BSA/AML compliance program.”

OCC regulators stated that the bank had “failed to adopt and implement a compliance program that adequately covers the required BSA/AML program elements due to an inadequate system of internal controls and ineffective independent testing.”

According to OCC, Citigroup “did not develop adequate due diligence on foreign correspondent bank customers and failed to file Suspicious Activity Reports (‘SARs’) related to its remote deposit capture/international cash letter instrument activity in a timely manner.”

In their infinite wisdom, the Federal Reserve did not include fines against the bank, but the Board of Governors hastened to assure Citigroup’s masters (their future employers?) that the Consent Order was issued “solely for the purpose of settling this matter without a formal proceeding being filed and without the necessity for protracted or extended hearings or testimony.”

You bet it was!

Citigroup and Banamex: The Salinas Affair

If all this sounds familiar, it should.

One of the more infamous cases involving taxpayer bailed-out Citigroup’s ties to money laundering drug cartels emerged in the late 1990s when Raúl Salinas de Gortari, the brother of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas, was arrested after his wife, Paulina Castañón, attempted to withdraw $84 million from a Swiss account controlled by Raúl under an alias.

Salinas, who spent ten years in prison over the murder of his brother-in-law, political rival José Francisco Ruiz, was released in 2005 when a Mexican appeals court overturned that conviction.

After nearly 13 years of legal proceedings into the origins of the Salinas fortune, SwissInfo reported that “Switzerland will hand over $74 million (SFr77.3 million) to Mexico from bank accounts linked to the brother of a former Mexican president.”

“The funds–more than $110 million in bank accounts linked to Raúl Salinas–were originally frozen after the Swiss authorities initiated criminal proceedings against Salinas in 1995 for money laundering.”

But as Narco News investigative journalist Al Giordano reported back in 2000,

“The Chief Operating Officers of drug trafficking are not Mexicans, nor Colombians: they are US and European bankers, those who launder the illicit proceeds of drug trafficking. Institutions like Citibank of New York–as this report documents–are the true beneficiaries of the prohibition on drugs and its illegal profits.”

Indeed, “some of these men,” Giordano asserted, “like Banamex CEO Roberto Hernández Ramírez–are rags-to-riches stories. Hernández, according to Forbes magazine, could not afford to finance an American Express credit card in 1980. Today he earns the largest annual salary in Mexico–reported as $29 million dollars–and is a billionaire presiding over Mexico’s top banking institution.”

According to Narco News, when former President Carlos Salinas initiated bank privatization during the 1990s at the urging of the Bush and Clinton administrations, “the single biggest winner” was none other than his old pal Roberto Hernández. And Hernández, according to investigative journalist Mario R. Menéndez Rodríguez, the editor of Por Esto!, was “the financial engineer of the Gulf Cartel, launched in the 1980s by Juan N. Guerra and based in the Texas border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas.”

Reprising their earlier investigations, Giordano reported that “Hernández had been accused–publicly and via a criminal complaint–by the daily newspaper Por Esto! of trafficking tons of Colombian cocaine through his Caribbean costa properties on that peninsula since 1997.”

“The newspaper,” Narco News averred, “published photos of the drugs, the smuggling boats, the Colombian garbage strewn upon the shores, the airfield and small airplanes that, witnesses testified, brought the cocaine north to the United States, with confirmation from sources as diverse as local fishermen and high officials of the Mexican Armed Forces.”

For their investigative efforts both Giordano and Menéndez were sued for libel by Banamex and Hernández in 2000, a case summarily dismissed by the New York Supreme Court, which “established, for the first time, First Amendment protections for Internet journalists in the United States.”

Banamex was bought by Citigroup in 2001 for the then princely sum of $12.5 billion (£8.21bn).

As El Universal Gráfico journalist José Martínez reported at the time of the Citibank-Banamex buy out, “One of the mechanisms utilized by Mexican investors is the opening of secret accounts in foreign banks that have business in this country. There, the exclusive Citibank, for decades, has been the preferred bank of the elite of wealthy and powerful people involved in the middle of scandal. In recent years this financial institution has been involved in innumerable cases connected to the management of dirty money.”

According to Martínez, “Citibank has been linked to the political scandals derived from the diversion of funds by part of the Mexican elite, among them some narco-traffickers.”

And as Mexico City’s Milenio newspaper columnist Jorge Fernández Menéndez detailed in his 1999 book Narcotráfico y Poder in reference to Raúl Salinas:

The relation of of Raúl Salinas with the Gulf Cartel presumably surged at the end of the 1980s and began with Juan N. Guerra, who since the middle of the decade had led this organization dedicated to drug trafficking (above all, marijuana) and contraband. In 1989, Guerra made various investments in construction projects, mainly in Villahermosa, with Raúl Salinas. But, already an old man with grave health problems, with a limited vision of his activity, Juan N. Guerra was not the ideal individual to head the project that would be settled by the strong growth of the Cali Cartel: the change from marijuana to cocaine.

Fernández noted that when the Gulf Cartel was taken over by Juan García Abrego, “…as the person responsible for the operation of the cartel, Raúl Salinas de Gortari [w]as the presumed chief of political relations and power of the same.”

Never mind that before his arrest on money laundering charges, Raúl only earned an annual salary of $190,000 as a “public servant,” Swiss and US investigators uncovered an illicit cash horde to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Where did Salinas’ money come from?

In addition to the outright theft of funds from the Treasury as alleged by federal prosecutors in Mexico, according to a 1995 Los Angeles Times report, Salinas “amassed at least $100 million in suspected drug money.”

Switzerland’s top prosecutor at the time, Carla del Ponte, “launched the investigation after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supplied information that led Swiss agents to the accounts in Geneva, where they arrested Raúl Salinas’ wife and her brother on Nov. 15 as the pair attempted to withdraw more than $83 million.”

Del Ponte told the Los Angeles Times that after observing Salinas’ interrogation by Mexican federal prosecutors the sums found in those accounts were “suspected to be from the laundering of money related to narcotics trafficking.”

In 1998, when Swiss prosecutors completed their Salinas investigation, The New York Times disclosed that “Swiss police investigators have concluded that a brother of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari played a central role in Mexico’s cocaine trade, raking in huge bribes to protect the flow of drugs into the United States.”

That Swiss report stated, “When Carlos Salinas de Gortari became President of Mexico in 1988, Raúl Salinas de Gortari assumed control over practically all drug shipments through Mexico. Through his influence and bribes paid with drug money, officials of the army and the police supported and protected the flourishing drug business.”

Leveraging “a low-profile position in the administration’s food-distribution agency,” Swiss investigators revealed that “Raúl Salinas commandeered Government trucks and railroad cars to haul cocaine north, skimming payoffs that the Swiss estimate at upwards of $500 million. On what some of his reputed former associates referred to as ‘green light days,’ he arranged for drug loads to transit Mexico without concern that they might be checked by the army, the coast guard or the federal police.”

But without the complicity of major banks, amassing and then hiding, that much loot would be impossible. Enter Citibank’s “Private Banking” division.

A 1998 report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) pointed a finger directly at Citibank. Investigators revealed that “Mr. Salinas was able to transfer $90 million to $100 million between 1992 and 1994 by using a private banking relationship formed by Citibank New York in 1992. The funds were transferred through Citibank Mexico and Citibank New York to private banking investment accounts in Citibank London and Citibank Switzerland.”

With the connivance of bank officials, in 1992 Salinas was able to “effectively disguise” the source of those funds and their destination.

Indeed, with hefty fees secured from assisting their well-connected client Salinas, Citibank “set up an offshore private investment company named Trocca, to hold Mr. Salinas’s assets, through Cititrust (Cayman) and investment accounts in Citibank London and Citibank Switzerland.”

Forget due diligence or “know your customer” (KYC) rules firmly in place under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), Citibank “waived bank references for Mr. Salinas and did not prepare a financial profile on him or request a waiver for the profile, as required by then Citibank know your customer policy” and “facilitated Mrs. Salinas’s use of another name to initiate fund transfers in Mexico.”

This should have triggered alarm bells over at OCC, but like today’s banking scandals involving Wachovia, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase, US “regulators” sat on their hands and did nothing.

Eager to extract those fees from a dodgy client, Citibank’s Vice President for Legal Affairs was forced to admit to GAO investigators that the bank “only” violated one aspect of their KYC policy, their failure to prepare a financial profile of Salinas.

However, a 1999 Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on “Private Banking and Money Laundering” revealed that “a culture of secrecy pervades the private banking industry.”

“For example,” Senate investigators disclosed, “in the case of Raul Salinas . . . the private bank hid Mr. Salinas’ ownership of Trocca by omitting his name from the Trocca incorporation papers and naming still other shell companies as the shareholders, directors, and officers. Citibank consistently referred to Mr. Salinas in internal bank communications by the code name ‘Confidential Client Number 2′ or ‘CC-2.’ The private bank’s Swiss office opened a special name account for him under the name of ‘Bonaparte’.”

And despite the fact, as Senate staff averred, “Federal Reserve examiners stated in internal documents that the Citibank private bank lagged behind other private banks they had reviewed,” and that Citi’s Swiss headquarters had received the “worst possible audit rating” in 1995, and that Citibank’s “poor audit score were ‘not taken seriously’ within the private bank,” no regulatory action was taken.

Two years later, a Federal Reserve examiner wrote: “The auditors are a key asset of [the private bank]. The problem is that for years audit has been identifying problems and nothing has been done about it. In 1992 [the private bank had] 66% favorable audits in 1997 the percentage of favorable audits was 62%. … It appears that there are no consequences for bad audits as long as [the private bank] meets their financial goals.”


As Time Magazine investigative journalist S.C. Gwynne reported at the time, Citibank and the soon-to-be-merged with Travelers behemoth now known as Citigroup (that 1998 merger was illegal under Glass-Steagall, but that’s another story, one which directly correlates to the Act’s 1999 repeal by the Clinton crime family and their Republican co-conspirators in Congress), private banking for upscale clients with the means to invest at $1 million “is now the crown jewel in the financial giant’s strategy for growth.”

“That strategy,” Gwynne wrote, “calls for Citibank and its parent, Citigroup, to reduce their reliance on cyclical corporate and real estate lending, which tends to be high risk and relatively low profit. It will emphasize the lower-risk, higher-margin business of consumer banking–and especially one-stop financial shopping for the world’s booming population of the newly rich.”

Keep in mind, Gwynne was writing in 1998 before the real estate bubble was inflated and Wall Street banksters dove head first into the dubious “residential mortgage” marketing machine that nearly sunk, and still threatens to sink, the capitalist economy under endless waves of fraud and corruption.

“At Citigroup and like-minded institutions around the world,” Gwynne noted, “folks with six- and seven-figure portfolios can find not only traditional banking services like checking and savings accounts but also strategic financial advice; introduction to high-yield investment vehicles like hedge funds; tax advice and accounting; estate planning and all manner of insurance. They can also get help in protecting their assets from potential claimants like creditors and ex-spouses, which can involve moving money discreetly from country to country.”

Indeed, private banking funds were “part of a $17 trillion global pool of money belonging to what bankers euphemistically call ‘high-net-worth individuals’–a pool that generates more than $150 billion a year in banking revenue.”

Hidey holes in the Cayman Islands and other destinations used for squirreling-away illicit cash, such as the world’s largest financial black holes, the US State of Delaware and the City of London, remain convenient resting places for loot amassed by various global narcotics combines.

Limited at the time by an “ongoing Department of Justice investigation,” a lawyerly dodge that prevents corporate criminality from ever coming to light, GAO investigators “could not determine whether Citibank’s actions violated law or regulation.”

The Federal Reserve were also less than forthcoming and “did not comment on whether Citibank’s actions were violations because information available to it at the time we inquired was insufficient for it to make a determination.”

According to asleep at the wheel regulators at OCC, Citibank’s “actions did not violate civil aspects of the Bank Secrecy Act” since under rules then in place “private banking’s know your customer policies are voluntary and not governed by law or regulation.”

But as the Mexican weekly news magazine Proceso reported in 2001 during the Salinas affair, “Citibank of New York was transferring Juárez drug cartel money to Uruguay and Argentina, where Mexican drug lord Amado Carrillo Fuentes and his associates went calmly about their business, with help from local politicians and businessmen. Not long after, investigations would reveal that in 1998-99, more than $300 million belonging to Mexican drug traffickers went through Citibank.”

As El Universal Gráfico noted, when the self-described “Lord of the Heavens” sought refuge in South America, he “had account # 36111386 in Citibank of New York. From this place, the financial operators of the narco-trafficker passed large sums in millions of dollars to ghost banks like MA Bank of the fiscal paradise of the Cayman Islands.”

In late 2000, when the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations again began looking into drug money laundering allegations against Citibank, they received information from Argentine legislators who claimed there was “a gigantic political-financial conspiracy involving even Citibank President John Reed.”

Years later, those suspicions were corroborated when a US investigation, Operation Casablanca, “revealed that [money from] the Juárez cartel entered Argentina through two Citibank accounts and others in shell banks in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.”

Juan Miguel Ponce, the head of Mexico’s Interpol branch, “took advantage of Operation Casablanca to explore the vein of Juárez cartel allies in Argentina. He claims to have discovered documents in Mexico proving that large contributions were made by the cartel to 1999 campaign in Argentina of Peronist presidential and vice presidential candidates Eduardo Duhalde and Ramon ‘Palito’ Ortega,” Proceso disclosed

As James Petras reported in 2001, when Salinas was arrested “and his large-scale theft of government funds was exposed, his private bank manager at Citibank, Amy Elliott, said in a phone conversation with colleagues (the transcript of which was made available to Congressional investigators) that ‘this goes [on] in the very, very top of the corporation, this was known … on the very top. We are little pawns in this whole thing’.”

Fast forward twelve years: More than 120,000 Mexican citizens have paid with their lives as a result of the grisly trade and the American people are still the pawns of “plutonomic” banksters whose “wealth waves” come from the perverse influence bought by oceans of drug money flowing through a thoroughly corrupt capitalist system.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano’s Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

It doesn’t surprise. It’s likely happening ahead of Venezuela’s April 14 presidential election. It’ll continue when it’s over.

Washington tolerates no independent governments. It demands pro-Western ones. It wants them serving US interests. Outliers are targeted for regime change.

Throughout his tenure, Chavez was America’s main hemispheric bete noire. He’s gone. Chavismo lives. Washington’s war on Venezuela continues.

It’s the oil, stupid. Venezuela has the world’s largest reserves. It’s also for unchallenged regional dominance. No holds barred tactics persist to achieve it.

On April 5, Russia Today (RT) headlined “New WikiLeaks cable reveals US embassy strategy to destabilize Chavez government.”

America’s Caracas embassy’s a hotbed of anti-Chavismo subversion. RT referred to past events. William Brownfield was US ambassador. He’s now Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

From 2004 – 2006, his five-point plan included “strengthening democratic institutions,” (doing so by undermining them), “penetrating Chavez’s political base, dividing Chavismo, protecting vital US business, and isolating Chavez internationally.”

USAID handled implementation. It provided about $15 million dollars. It did so through its Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). It was created in spring 2002. Money went for training and technical assistance. Over 300 anti-Chavismo organizations got it.

A November 9, 2006 US Caracas embassy cable explained. WikiLeaks exposed it. Its full unredacted text states:

“Classified By: Robert Downes, Political Counselor,

for Reason 1.4(d).




“1. (S) During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has

systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and

governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela

focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces

through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of

Venezuelan society.

2. (S) In August of 2004, Ambassador outlined the country

team’s 5 point strategy to guide embassy activities in

Venezuela for the period 2004 ) 2006 (specifically, from the

referendum to the 2006 presidential elections). The

strategy’s focus is: 1) Strengthening Democratic

Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3)

Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5)

Isolating Chavez internationally.

3. (S) A brief description of USAID/OTI activities during

the aforementioned time period in support of the strategy


Strengthen Democratic Institutions


4. (S) This strategic objective represents the majority of

USAID/OTI work in Venezuela. Organized civil society is an

increasingly important pillar of democracy, one where

President Chavez has not yet been able to assert full


5. (S) OTI has supported over 300 Venezuelan civil society

organizations with technical assistance, capacity building,

connecting them with each other and international movements,

and with financial support upwards of $15 million. Of these,

39 organizations focused on advocacy have been formed since

the arrival of OTI; many of these organizations as a direct

result of OTI programs and funding.

6. (S) Human Rights: OTI supports the Freedom House (FH)

“Right to Defend Human Rights” program with $1.1 million.

Simultaneously through Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI),

OTI has also provided 22 grants to human rights

organizations, totaling $726,000. FH provides training and

technical assistance to 15 different smaller and regional

human rights organizations on how to research, document, and

present cases in situations of judicial impunity through a

specialized software and proven techniques. Following are

some specific successes from this project, which has led to a

better understanding internationally of the deteriorating

human rights situation in the country:

Venezuelan Prison Observatory: Since beginning work with

OTI, OVP has taken 1 case successfully through the

inter-American system, achieving a ruling requiring BRV

special protective measures for the prison ‘La Pica.’ Also,

on November 7th – 12th they will be launching the

Latin-American Prison Observatory, consolidating their work

with a regional network. OVP receives technical support from

FH, as well as monetary support from Pan American Development Foundation (PADF). Due to the success of the OVP in raising awareness of the issue, the BRV has put pressure on them in the form of public statements, announcing investigations, accusing them of alleged crimes as well as death threats.

Central Venezuelan University Human Rights Center: This

center was created out of the FH program and a grant from

CARACAS 00003356 002.2 OF 004

DAI. They have successfully raised awareness regarding the

International Cooperation Law and the human rights situation

in Venezuela, and have served as a voice nationally and


Human Rights Lawyers Network in Bolivar State: This group

was created out of the FH program and a grant from the DAI

small grants program. They are currently supporting the

victims of a massacre of 12 miners in Bolivar State allegedly

by the Venezuelan Army. Chavez himself was forced to admit

that the military used excessive force in this case. They

will present their case to the Inter-American Commission on

Human Rights in February 2007.

7. (S) Citizen Participation in Governance: Venezuelan

NGOs lack a long history of social activism. In response,

OTI partners are training NGOs to be activists and become

more involved in advocacy. The successes of this focus have

been as follows:

Support for the Rights of the Handicapped: OTI has funded 3

projects in the Caracas area dealing with the rights of the

handicapped. Venezuela had neither the appropriate

legislation nor political will to assure that the cities are

designed and equipped in a handicapped sensitive fashion.

Through these programs, OTI brought the issue of the

handicapped to the forefront, trained advocacy groups to

advocate for their rights and lobby the National Assembly,

and alerted the press regarding this issue. Subsequent to

this, the National Assembly was forced to consider

handicapped needs and propose draft legislation for the issue.

Por la Caracas Possible (PCP): Once-beautiful Caracas has

decayed over the past several years due to corruption and

lack of attention. PCP is a local NGO dedicated to bringing

attention to this problem. They have held campaigns with

communities shining a light on the terrible job elected

leadership are doing resolving the problems in Caracas.

During their work they have been expelled from communities by

the elected leaders, further infuriating communities that

already feel un-assisted.

8. (S) Civic Education: One effective Chavista mechanism

of control applies democratic vocabulary to support

revolutionary Bolivarian ideology. OTI has been working to

counter this through a civic education program called

‘Democracy Among Us.’ This interactive education program

works through NGOs in low income communities to deliver five

modules: 1) Separation of Powers, 2) Rule of Law, 3) The

Role and Responsibility of Citizens, 4) Political Tolerance,

and 5) The Role of Civil Society. Separate civic education

programs in political tolerance, participation, and human

rights have reached over 600,000 people.


Penetrate Base/Divide Chavismo


9. (S) Another key Chavez strategy is his attempt to divide

and polarize Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and

violence. OTI supports local NGOs who work in Chavista

strongholds and with Chavista leaders, using those spaces to

counter this rhetoric and promote alliances through working

together on issues of importance to the entire community.

OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through

over 3000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering

alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition

activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas, with the

desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo. We

have supported this initiative with 50 grants totaling over

$1.1 million. There are several key examples of this:

10. (S) Visor Participativo: This is a group of 34 OTI

CARACAS 00003356 003.2 OF 004

funded and technically assisted NGOs working together on

municipal strengthening. They work in 48 municipalities

(Venezuela has 337), with 31 MVR, 2 PPT and 15 opposition

mayors. As Chavez attempts to re-centralize the country, OTI

through Visor is supporting decentralization. Much of this

is done through the municipal councils (CLPPs). The National

Assembly recently passed a law that creates groups parallel

to the mayor’s offices and municipal councils (and that

report directly to the president’s office). These groups are

receiving the lions share of new monies Chavez is pumping

into the regions, leaving the municipalities under-funded.

As Chavez attempts to re-centralize all power to the

Executive in the capital, local Chavista leadership are

becoming the opposition as their individual oxen are gored.

Visor has been providing these leaders with tools and skills

for leadership to counter the threat represented by the new


11. (S) CECAVID: This project supported an NGO working

with women in the informal sectors of Barquisimeto, the 5th

largest city in Venezuela. The training helped them

negotiate with city government to provide better working

conditions. After initially agreeing to the women’s

conditions, the city government reneged and the women shut

down the city for 2 days forcing the mayor to return to the

bargaining table. This project is now being replicated in

another area of Venezuela.

12. (S) PROCATIA: OTI has partnered with a group widely

perceived by people in the large Caracas &barrio8 as

opposition leaning. Due to incompetence of the local elected

leadership, the garbage problem in Catia is a messy issue for

all those who live there. This group has organized brigades

to collect and recycle trash, in the process putting pressure

on the government to provide basic services and repositioning

the group as a respected ally of the ‘barrio.’

13. (S) Finally, through support of a positive social

impact campaign in cooperation with PAS, OTI funded 54 social

projects all over the country, at over $1.2 million, allowing

Ambassador to visit poor areas of Venezuela and demonstrate

US concern for the Venezuelan people. This program fosters

confusion within the Bolivarian ranks, and pushes back at the

attempt of Chavez to use the United States as a ‘unifying



Isolate Chavez


14. (S) An important component of the OTI program is

providing information internationally regarding the true

revolutionary state of affairs. OTI’s support for human

rights organizations has provided ample opportunity to do so.

The FH exchanges allowed Venezuelan human rights

organizations to visit Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Chile,

Argentina, Costa Rica, and Washington DC to educate their

peers regarding the human rights situation. Also, DAI has

brought dozens of international leaders to Venezuela,

university professors, NGO members, and political leaders to

participate in workshops and seminars, who then return to

their countries with a better understanding of the Venezuelan

reality and as stronger advocates for the Venezuelan


15. (S) More recently, OTI has taken advantage of the draft

law of International Cooperation to send NGO representatives

to international NGO conferences where they are able to voice

their concerns in terms that global civil society understands. So far, OTI has sent Venezuelan NGO leaders to Turkey, Scotland, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Chile, Uruguay, Washington and Argentina (twice) to talk about the law. Upcoming visits are planned to Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia.

CARACAS 00003356 004.2 OF 004

OTI has also brought 4 recognized experts in NGO law from

abroad to Venezuela to show solidarity for their Venezuelan

counterparts. PADF supported visits by 4 key human rights

defenders to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission

meetings in Washington in October of 2006. These have led to

various successes:

Civicus, a world alliance of NGOs, has put the Venezuela

issue on their Civil Society Watch short list of countries of


Gente de Soluciones, a Venezuelan NGO presented their

“Project Society” to the OAS General Assembly. While there,

they met with many of the Ambassadors and Foreign Ministers

of OAS member states to express concern about the law.

Uruguayan parliamentarians met with NGOs at a special session of the Foreign Affairs commission, and have promised to help where they can.

The Human Rights Commission of the OAS has made several

public statements and sent private letters to the National

Assembly expressing concern with the law.

The most prestigious law faculty in Buenos Aires, Argentina

has committed to hosting an event to deal with the draft law.

The Democratic Observatory of MERCOSUR plans to hold an event early next year to discuss the draft law.

So far the Venezuelan National Assembly has received many

letters and emails of opposition to the law from groups all

over the world.

A private meeting between 4 Venezuelan human rights defenders and Secretary General Jose Miguel Inzulsa during the October 2006 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (please protect).

The press, both local and international, has been made aware

of the proposed law and it has received wide play in the US

as well as in Latin America.

16. (S) OTI has also created a web site which has been sent

to thousands of people all over the world with details of the

law in an interactive format.



17. (S) Through carrying out positive activities, working

in a non-partisan way across the ideological landscape, OTI

has been able to achieve levels of success in carrying out

the country team strategy in Venezuela. These successes have

come with increasing opposition by different sectors of

Venezuelan society and the Venezuelan government. Should

Chavez win the December 3rd presidential elections, OTI

expects the atmosphere for our work in Venezuela to become

more complicated.


OTI funded over 50 projects. They aimed to foster “confusion within the Bolivarian ranks, and pushe(d) back at the attempt of Chavez to use the United States as a unifying enemy.”

In 2010, Venezuela closed OTI’s office. It did so for good reason. Chavez knew what he faced. So does acting president/United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro. Elections are scheduled for Sunday, April 14.

He’s odds on favored to win. Polls show him way ahead. He’s concerned about internal subversion and sabotage. On April 4, he ordered Venezuela’s military to protect power plants just in case.

He did so following suspicious Cararcas and Aragua state outages. He called them opposition efforts to wage “electricity” and “economic war.” He stressed the urgency of protecting “national security.”

Venezuela’s state-run National Electricity Corporation (Corpoelec) found 11 burned out transformers throughout Aragua state. Company president Argenis Chavez cited sabotage. So did Maduro, saying “(t)here’s nothing to indicate (a conventional) failure.”

“It’s not a secret to anyone that inside the structure of the electrical system, there are (anti-Chavismo) elements. Thank God every day there are less workers who answer the right-wing call to commit sabotage. But there is internal and external sabotage.”

Argenis Chavez said suspicious power failures occurred before last October’s presidential elections. They’re happening again now. Perhaps other destabilizing schemes are planned ahead of April 14.

Washington’s long arm’s been involved throughout Chavez’s tenure. It continues now. Replacing Chavismo is policy. Past efforts failed.

They included an aborted two-day April 2002 coup, a 2002-03 64-day oil industry lockout, an unsuccessful 2004 recall election, Western scoundrel media campaigns, and millions of dollars given anti-Chavismo political parties, journalists, NGOs, and other groups wanting oligarch power restored.

In 2006, Washington established a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) mission manager for Venezuela and Cuba. CIA veteran Timothy Langford heads it. He replaced interim manager Patrick Maher.

In June 2007, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Craig Kelly called Chavez a regional “enemy.” He proposed “six main areas of action for the US government to limit (his) influence (and) reassert US leadership in the region.”

He stressed “strengthen(ing) ties to those military leaders in the region who share our concern over Chavez.” He proposed “psychological operations” to exploit government vulnerabilities.

“We also need to make sure that the truth about Chavez – his hollow vision, his empty promises, his dangerous international relationships, starting with Iran – gets out, always exercising careful judgment about where and how we take on Chavez directly/publicly.”

Throughout his tenure, Washington wanted him ousted. It wants state-owned enterprises privatized. It wants Bolivarian initiatives abolished. It wants Venezuela made a client-state.

In April 2008, the Pentagon reactivated its Fourth Fleet. It did so after a 60 year hiatus. It was established during WW II. It was disbanded in 1950.

It’s part of US Naval Forces Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). It’s headquartered at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, FL. It operates throughout Central and Latin America.

Its purpose involves “conducting varying missions including a range of contingency operations, counter(ing) narco-terrorism, and theater security cooperation activities.”

Former USSOUTHCOM commander Admiral James Stevenson called the move a message to the entire region, not just Venezuela.

National War College commandant General Robert Steele said:

“The United States’ obsession with Venezuela, Cuba and other things indicates they are going to use more military force, going to use that instrument more often.”

US bases infest Latin America. Seven operate in eastern Colombia. It borders Venezuela. Chavez was justifiably concerned. He called stationing US forces nearby “a threat of war at us.”

So far, US destabilization efforts wage it by other means. Expect no letup ahead. Venezuela’s targeted for regime change. Obama’s more belligerent than Bush.

Chavismo remains the threat of a good example. Washington wants a client state replacing it.

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

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

Visit his blog site at

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

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

by Dylan Murphy

On 27 March thousands of teachers, parents and school support staff flooded into central Chicago to protest against the plan to close 61 schools. Over 150 protestors were arrested for a sit-down protest during the demonstration which shut down traffic in the heart of the city. Karen Lewis, President of Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) said at a recent press conference:

“Rahm Emanuel has become the ‘murder mayor.’ He is murdering public services. Murdering our ability to maintain public sector jobs and now he has set his sights on our public schools. But we have news for him: We don’t intend to die. This is not Detroit. We are the city of big shoulders and so we intend to put up a fight. We don’t know if we can win, but if you don’t fight, you will never win at all.”

Mayor Rahm Emmauel has said that the closures are necessary to prevent students being left trapped in failing schools. Meanwhile, Barabra Byrd-Bennet the CEO of Chicago Public Schools has said that the closure plans will help bridge a $1 billion budget deficit and allow for increased investment in the remaining public schools.

Mayor Emmanuel’s programme will see the largest number of public school’s closed in one year in America’s third largest school district. In the last decade over a hundred schools have been closed in Chicago. Opponents of the plans say the close programme will mean thousands of school staff losing their jobs, bigger class sizes for the remaining public schools which will increase to between 30-40 per class and the ending of many community services provided by the schools.

Many students and parents have joined the protests and complained that the closure of these schools will put many children at increased risk of violence as they will have to cross gang boundaries to get to their new schools. Hundreds of students held a protest outside city hall on 25 March calling for on the mayor to halt the programme of school closures and for increased spending on schools. Many expressed worries over student safety in a city where there was over 500 murders last year much of which was gang related.

Last September the CTU took strike action against Mayor Emmanuel’s plans to privatize ”poorly performing” schools and turn them into private charter schools. Many see his current closure plan as a mere variant on that plan.

Chicago’s Board of Education will decide in May whether to approve the mayor’s closure programme. The board members were all appointed by Mayor Emmanuel leaving few with any confidence that it will vote against the closure programme.

On the 27 March protest demonstrators expressed a determination to put up a massive fight against the school closure programme. Jackson Potter, staff coordinator for the CTU told Real News TV that the campaign against the school closures must include mass acts of civil disobedience ”occupying school buildings” and even ”hunger strikes” if necessary. The fight in Chicago has national significance. Success for the teacher’s and parents there will be a major boost to all those across America who are campaigning against high stakes testing and the attendant privatization drive in public education.

Dylan Murphy is a historian, teacher and trade union activist.

Everything You Know About Money Is Wrong

April 8th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

We Can’t Fix What We Don’t Understand

Bloomberg notes this week that the conventional theory of why money was created is wrong:

There are, broadly speaking, two accounts of the origin and history of money. One is elegant, intuitive and taught in many introductory economics textbooks. The other is true.

The financial economist Charles Goodhart, a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, laid out the two views in a 1998 paper, “The Two Concepts of Money: Implications for the Analysis of Optimal Currency Areas.”

The first view, the “M View,” is named after the Austrian 19th century economist and historian Karl Menger, whose 1882 essay “On the Origins of Money” is the canonical statement of an argument that goes back to Aristotle:

As subsistence farming gives way to more complex economies, individuals want to trade. Simple barter (eight bushels of wheat for one barrel of wine) quickly becomes inefficient, because a buyer’s desires won’t always match up with a seller’s inventory. If a merchant comes through the village with wine and all a farmer has to offer is wheat, but the merchant wants nuts, there’s no trade and both parties walk away unfulfilled. Or the farmer has to incur the costs of finding another merchant who will exchange wheat for nuts and then hope that the first merchant hasn’t moved on to the next village.

But if the merchant and the farmer can exchange some other medium, then the trade can happen. This medium of exchange has to be what Menger calls “saleable,” meaning that it’s easily portable, doesn’t spoil over time and can be divided. Denominated coins work, shells and beads also fit the bill. So do cigarettes in POW camps and jails and Tide laundry detergent for drug dealers. This process, Menger argues, happens without the intervention of the state: “Money has not been generated by law. In its origin it is a social, and not a state institution.” [Menger's view is the commonly-accepted theory of  money.]

Goodhart points out, however, that Menger is just wrong about the actual history of physical money, especially metal coins. Goodhart writes that coins don’t follow Menger’s account at all. Normal people, after all, can’t judge the quality of hunks of metal the same way they can count cigarettes or shells. They can, however, count coins. Coins need to be minted, and governments are the ideal body to do so. Precious metals that become coins are, well, precious, and stores of them need to be protected from theft. Also, a private mint will always have the incentive to say its coins contain more high-value stuff than they actually do. Governments can last a long time and make multi-generational commitments to their currencies that your local blacksmith can’t.

But why oversee money creation in the first place? This brings us to the second theory of money, which Goodhart calls the “C View,” standing for “cartalist” (chartalist is a more common spelling). To simplify radically, it starts with the idea that states minted money to pay soldiers, and then made that money the only acceptable currency for paying taxes. With a standard currency, tax assessment and collection became easier, and the state could make a small profit from seiginorage.

The state-coin connection has far more historical support than Menger’s organic account. As Goodheart points out, strong, state-building rulers (Charlemagne, Edward I of England) tend to be currency innovators, and he could have easily added Franklin D. Roosevelt’s taking the U.S. off the gold standard in 1933 or Abraham Lincoln financing the Civil War with newly issued greenbacks. The inverse is true too: When states collapse, they usually take their currencies with them. When Japan stopped minting coins in 958, the economy reverted to barter within 50 years.  When the Roman Empire collapsed in Western Europe, money creation splintered along new political borders.

If money came about independent of states, as according to the M View, one would think it would outlast transient political structures. Historically, however, this tends not to be the case, a strong argument in favor of the C View.

Anthropologist David Graeber – who has extensively studied the history of money and debt – agrees:

There’s a standard story we’re all taught, a ‘once upon a time’ — it’s a fairy tale.


Rather than the standard story – first there’s barter, then money, then finally credit comes out of that – if anything its precisely the other way around. Credit and debt comes first, then coinage emerges thousands of years later and then, when you do find “I’ll give you twenty chickens for that cow” type of barter systems, it’s usually when there used to be cash markets, but for some reason – as in Russia, for example, in 1998 – the currency collapses or disappears.


Taxes are also key to creating the first markets that operate on cash, since coinage seems to be invented or at least widely popularized to pay soldiers – more or less simultaneously in China, India, and the Mediterranean, where governments find the easiest way to provision the troops is to issue them standard-issue bits of gold or silver and then demand everyone else in the kingdom give them one of those coins back again. Thus we find that the language of debt and the language of morality start to merge.


How did this happen? Well, remember I said that the big question in the origins of money is how a sense of obligation – an ‘I owe you one’ – turns into something that can be precisely quantified? Well, the answer seems to be: when there is a potential for violence. If you give someone a pig and they give you a few chickens back you might think they’re a cheapskate, and mock them, but you’re unlikely to come up with a mathematical formula for exactly how cheap you think they are. If someone pokes out your eye in a fight, or kills your brother, that’s when you start saying, “traditional compensation is exactly twenty-seven heifers of the finest quality and if they’re not of the finest quality, this means war!”

Money, in the sense of exact equivalents, seems to emerge from situations like that, but also, war and plunder, the disposal of loot, slavery. In early Medieval Ireland, for example, slave-girls were the highest denomination of currency. And you could specify the exact value of everything in a typical house even though very few of those items were available for sale anywhere because they were used to pay fines or damages if someone broke them.

But once you understand that taxes and money largely begin with war it becomes easier to see what really happened.

Graeber provides an example:

We tend to forget that in, say, the Middle Ages, from France to China, … money was … whatever the king was willing to accept in taxes.

Graeber also notes that the first word for “freedom” in any language is the word for “debt-freedom”, and that much of the language of the great religious movements revolved around forgiveness of debts.  And the founders of the Christian and Jewish religions focused on the importance of debt jubilees.

In addition, most Americans don’t realize that our current money system does not serve the public good, but instead continuously sucks the prosperity and vitality out of our economy.  As Henry Ford noted:

It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.

Some claim that public banking is the answer. Others look to gold or Bitcoin as a saner alternative to fiat currencies.

As we noted in 2011, maybe we should get beyond all systems which keep track of exactly to the penny who owes what to whom … in the manner required for warfare and slavery:

Graeber hints at one possibility [for a way out of the money-debt trap]:

[French anthropologist Marcel Mauss] was one of the first anthropologists to ask: well, all right, if not barter, then what? What do people who don’t use money actually do when things change hands? Anthropologists had documented an endless variety of such economic systems, but hadn’t really worked out common principles. What Mauss noticed was that in almost all of them, everyone pretended as if they were just giving one another gifts and then they fervently denied they expected anything back. But in actual fact everyone understood there were implicit rules and recipients would feel compelled to make some sort of return.

What fascinated Mauss was that this seemed to be universally true, even today. If I take a free-market economist out to dinner he’ll feel like he should return the favor and take me out to dinner later. He might even think that he is something of chump if he doesn’t and this even if his theory tells him he just got something for nothing and should be happy about it. Why is that? What is this force that compels me to want to return a gift?

This is an important argument, and it shows there is always a certain morality underlying what we call economic life.

In other words, in communities or webs of human interaction which are small enough that people can remember who gave what, we might be able to set up alternative systems of money and credit so we can largely “opt out” of the status quo systems of money and debt measurement.

I’m not arguing for becoming Luddites and living in mud huts (but that is fine, if you wish to do so). Nor am I suggesting that we all have to become selfless saints who give away all of their possessions without any reasonable expectation of something in return.

I am arguing that it might be possible to empower ourselves – and create our own systems for keeping track on a local or people-centered basis, and create our own vibrant economies using the resources we have – by moving away from the national and global systems dominated by the biggest banks and oligarchs, and towards a system where we “spend” resources and goodwill into our local communities in a way in which trust is built from the ground-up, and the energy of trade and commerce can be re-started. [Trust is - after all - the basis for all prosperous economies.]

Postscript: Mainstream economists will argue that we need a universal, fungible type of money in order to trade on a global basis. But because currencies are now unpegged from anything in the real world and are traded on the currency markets, their values fluctuate wildly in the modern world. In other words, one of the essential characteristics for money – that they represent a universal, fixed yardstick – has disappeared. And fiat currencies have a very short lifespan. So how valuable are they, really, for anyone but forex speculators?

Until we learn what money, credit and debt really are, we will remain victims … getting poorer and poorer.

Postscript: The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil.  On the other hand, the father of modern economics (Adam Smith), Ronald Reagan, economist Milton Friedman, Wall Street titan Ivan Boesky and students who take economics classes all say that greed is good.

Both are naive.

Money and currency are good to the extent that they help create abundance for ourselves and our communities.  They are bad to the extent that they are used to promote warfare and slavery, and that they suck prosperity out of the system.

Eric Ruder provides the facts about the new weapon of choice for the U.S. war machine–and documents the deadly impact of drones in conflicts around the globe.

ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS are planning actions in April to focus attention on a dark and deadly corner of U.S. military operations: The Pentagon’s and the CIA’s massively scaled-up use of drone aircraft around the world.

In 2000, the Pentagon had less than 50 drones. Ten years later, that number is 7,500–an increase of 15,000 percent. In 2003, the U.S. Air Force was flying a handful of round-the-clock drone patrols every day. By 2010, that number had reached 40.

“By 2011, the Air Force was training more remote pilots than fighter and bomber pilots combined,” explains Medea Benjamin in her book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Benjamin cites Mark Maybury, chief scientist for the Air Force, who said in 2011, “Our number one manning problem in the Air Force is manning our unmanned platform.”

An unmanned Predator drone prepares to lift off

The reasons for the explosion in the use of drones to wage wars around the world are obvious enough. Training drone pilots is faster, less grueling and cheaper compared to traditional pilots. It takes two years to prepare an Air Force recruit for deployment as a pilot, but only nine months to train a drone operator. And, of course, the consequences of drone operator error are no more than the price of the drone itself. As Benjamin writes:

What you can do

For more information about the April month of action against drone warfare, check out and the No Drones Network.

[T]here’s no pilot at risk of being killed or maimed in a crash. No pilot to be taken captive by enemy forces. No pilot to cause a diplomatic crisis if shot down in a “friendly country” while bombing or spying without official permission. If a drone crashes or is shot down, the pilot back home can simply get up and take a coffee break.

But more important is that the use of drones to carry out missions in far-flung countries has enabled the Obama administration to avoid any formal declaration of war while raining down lethal force from the skies–a clear attempt to skirt both U.S. and international law regarding war. As Nick Turse writes in The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases and Cyberwarfare:

Take the American war in Pakistan–a poster child for what might now be called the Obama formula, if not doctrine. Beginning as a highly circumscribed drone assassination campaign backed by limited cross-border commando raids under the Bush administration, U.S. operations in Pakistan into something close to a full-scale robotic air war, complemented by cross-border helicopter attacks, CIA-funded “kill teams” of Afghan proxy forces, as well as boots-on-the-ground missions by elite special operations forces.

The U.S. has now deployed drones armed with lethal force in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. Some 60 bases throughout the world are directly connected to the drone program–from Florida to Nevada in the U.S., from Ethiopia and Djibouti in Africa, to Qatar in the Middle East and the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.

According to Turse, for the last three years, Xe Services, the company formerly known as Blackwater, has been in charge of arming the fleet of Predator drones at CIA clandestine sites in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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THE OBAMA administration’s aggressive use of drone warfare is yet further confirmation that Barack Obama’s policies represent the continuation rather than the repudiation of the U.S. government’s militaristic foreign policy of the Bush years.

The withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq–after failing to renegotiate the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government–occurred on Obama’s watch, but the U.S. still plans to keep thousands of “non-combat” personnel in Iraq. Meanwhile, Obama carried out a troop surge into Afghanistan that doubled the number of U.S. soldiers in that country.

All along the way, the use of drones has accelerated–especially during Obama’s presidency, as this infographic effectively illustrates. They are seen as the ideal solution for a military that is overextended after 10 years of occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq–without achieving a decisive victory, but at enormous economic, political and diplomatic cost. Drones, by contrast, have a “lightweight footprint,” allowing them to operate behind a veil of secrecy. They provide intelligence, lethal force and global reach on the cheap, while simultaneously giving U.S. military strategists plausible deniability to avoid accountability for their actions.

So when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently blurted out in late February that U.S. drone strikes had killed 4,700 people, the military establishment no doubt shuddered.

Graham was speaking to the Rotary Club in Easley, S.C., and was the first government official to provide a figure for the number of casualties in the drone wars–his number was around one-and-a-half times greater than unofficial estimates based on press accounts and other eyewitness reports.

Of course, Graham wasn’t bemoaning the high death toll–he was enthusiastic about it. Graham went on to say that he approved of the U.S. targeting of American citizens abroad and even the use of drones on the U.S.-Mexico border. Of Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S. citizen killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in 2011, Graham said, “He’s been actively involved in recruiting and prosecuting the war for al-Qaeda. He was found in Yemen, and we blew him up with a drone. Good.”

“I didn’t want him to have a trial,” he continued. “We’re not fighting a crime, we’re fighting a war. I support the president’s ability to make a determination as to who an enemy combatant is.”

Opinion polls show that many Americans aren’t as enthusiastic as Graham about drones. According to an article by Joan Walsh at

[W]hile 56 percent of respondents support using drones against “high-level terrorist leaders,” only 13 percent think they should be used against “anyone suspected of being associated with a terrorist group.” And only 27 percent supported using drones “if there was a possibility of killing innocent people.” Another 13 percent opposed the drone program entirely.

Given that only a minority of those killed by drones to date are “high-level leaders”–the New American Foundation estimates it’s as low as 2 percent–Americans may be more skeptical of the policy the more they learn about it.

Still, the military establishment has a secret weapon in the public relations battle to preserve support for its favorite secret weapon–Barack Obama himself. Polling done by political scientist Michael Tesler found that significantly more whites “racial liberals” (a pollster category for liberals who are liberal on questions of race) supported the policy of targeted killings once they were told that the Obama administration had carried out this policy. As Walsh writes:

Only 27 percent of white “racial liberals” in a control group supported the targeted killing policy, but that jumped to 48 percent among such voters who were told Obama had conducted such targeted killings. White “racial conservatives” were more likely than white racial liberals to support the targeted killing policy overall, and Obama’s support for it didn’t affect their opinion.

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THE OBAMA administration is thus the perfect mouthpiece for reestablishing the military’s prestige among a war-weary public–and drones are the perfect vehicle.

In this respect, Obama is bringing U.S. military strategy full-circle, as Turse explains:

In 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld began his “revolution in military affairs,” steering the Pentagon toward a military-lite model of high-tech, agile forces. The concept came to a grim end in Iraq’s embattled cities. A decade later, the last vestiges of its many failures continue to play out in a stalemated war in Afghanistan…In the years since, two secretaries of defense and a new president have presided over another transformation–this one geared toward avoiding ruinous, large-scale land wars, which the U.S. has consistently proven unable to win.

Benjamin’s book sometimes implies that the problem with drones is that they make for “bad foreign policy”–because they make immediate recourse to the use of force less costly and therefore more likely. While this is no doubt true, Turse helps to explain how the use of drones is situated within a larger framework.

Drones are really a symptom, not a cause, of the reorientation of U.S. foreign policy away from the cowboy imperialism of the Bush years.

The U.S. has by far the most lethal and technologically advanced military force on the planet, but with its treasury drained and the rapid rise of global competitors, especially China, the “Obama doctrine” employs different strategies to achieve the same goals: fewer tanks, more spies and special forces; fewer invasions, more secret bases and drones; and whenever possible, offloading direct responsibility for fighting onto proxy forces and friendly (to U.S. interests) well-armed dictators.

The goals of these policies aren’t even the choice of presidents. They are obligations imposed on all nations in a world system built around economic competition. This competition compels nation states to arm themselves for military conflict–or be overrun. And it’s the U.S.–which spends as much as the other countries in the top 20 military spenders combined–that does the lion’s share of overrunning.

So while it’s essential to oppose drones and the various imperial adventures they enable, the economic system that gives rise to military conflict must also be challenged.

A NATO airstrike has killed 11 children and one woman in the East of Afghanistan, report local officials. A house collapsed during the attack, causing the casualties and leaving six women injured.

The civilians were killed during a joint Afghan-NATO operation late on Saturday night in the Shigal district of Kunar province, which borders Pakistan.

“Eleven children and a woman were killed when an air strike hit their houses,” provincial spokesman Wasifullah Wasifi said on Sunday.

A Reuters journalist saw the bodies of 11 children being carried by their families and other villagers.

They were on their way to the office of Mohammad Zahir Safai, the Shigal district chief, to register their protest.

Afghan villagers sit near the bodies of children who they said  were killed during an air strike in Kunar province April 7, 2013. (Reuters)

Afghan villagers sit near the bodies of children who they said were killed during an air strike in Kunar province April 7, 2013. (Reuters)


A spokesman for the NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan said they were aware of reports regarding civilian casualties and were assessing the incident, Reuters reports.

The spokesman, Captain Luca Carniel, said the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had provided “air support” during the operation, but that no ISAF troops were on the ground.

The airstrike had been called in by NATO forces, and not their Afghan allies, he continued.

Earlier on Saturday, five Americans, including three US soldiers, a young diplomat and a US Defense Department contractor were also killed when a car bomb targeted their convoy in the southern province of Zabul.

Provincial governor Mohammad Ashraf Nasery was in the convoy, but was not injured in the attack,  local and NATO officials said.

“Our American officials and their Afghan colleagues were on their way to donate books to students in a school in Qalat, the province’s capital, when they were struck by this despicable attack,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

The foreign service officer, identified 25-year-old Anne Smedinghoff, was described by Kerry as “vivacious, smart” and “capable.”

Four other US diplomats were wounded, one critically, Kerry continued.

Recently, Afghan security forces have been taking the lead in operations against Taliban insurgency in preparation for the final withdrawal of alliance forces in 2014.

US Special Forces were forced to withdraw from two Afghan provinces back in February by the government after a number of reports of “harassing, torturing and murdering innocent civilians.”

U.S. troops with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, February 27, 2013 (Reuters / Omar Sobhani)U.S. troops with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, February 27, 2013 (Reuters / Omar Sobhani)

‘Fueling instability’

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai slammed the US forces for fueling “insecurity and instability” in troubled provinces located close to Kabul.

But despite President Karzai’s often contentious relationship with ISAF forces over “collateral damage”, NATO will continue to launch airstrikes when it is tactically beneficial, political analyst Habib Hakimi told RT.

“President Karzai actually banned Afghan security forces (almost two months ago) from calling NATO forces for air support during operations against Taliban forces and other militant groups. But it seems NATO doesn’t care about.”

Errant NATO airstrikes have put Afghan President Karzai in a particularly precarious position, as he both owes his power to US-led forces but also is delegitimized as a result of their actions, RT’s Gayane Chichakyan reports.

“These airstrikes come amid repeated pleas of the Afghan government of President Karzai to stop killing civilians. In Karzai’s words, they fuel insecurity and instability, they further alienate Afghans from their government, which many Afghans see as a puppet government,” she said.

“President Karzai, though he does owe his power to allied forces, to Washington specifically, he clearly understands that those civilian casualties steer more violence in Afghanistan and undermine his government even further,”Chichakyan continued.

Watch Gayane Chichakyan’s full report:

News editor at, Jason Ditz believes that in many cases, American airstrikes almost tend to have the exact opposite effect to what everyone desired, creating more problems for the Americans themselves.

“The long-term effects are the bigger deal in that civilians who had relatives killed in those incidents are more likely to support the Taliban. Fighting men who were maybe on the sideline are also more likely to join the Taliban after an incident like this… even airstrikes that kill militants tend to create more militants… And certainly, if you kill children, it’s going to leave a dramatically worse impact.”

Lawrence Davidson, Professor of Middle East History at West Chester University says that it is hard for Americans to understand why this war went on for 11 years and what they are still doing there now.

“From the American standpoint this war was never winnable – if winnable means the defeat of the Taliban or anti-foreign forces that passed by the name of the Taliban,” he told RT.

“We are not going to defeat the Taliban, which is  a multifaceted sort of operation. We are in a country that isn’t really unified. The central government really doesn’t have a lot of power throughout the country. And when we are done, my opinion is that it will rapidly disappear.”

Peace activist David Swanson blames US media coverage for  keeping Americans unaware of the real face of the war in Afghanistan, which he describes as “one-sided slaughter of helpless people.”  

“Even the news articles about this strike which killed a greater number of people are dominated by paragraphs talking about another strike that killed Americans,” he told RT.

“The US deaths of course are always smaller numbers but they dominate the coverage. Americans are not aware of the extent to which this war is essentially a one-sided slaughter of helpless people who meant us no ill, and has been for over a decade.”

Who Will Save Social Security and Medicare?

April 8th, 2013 by Shamus Cooke

Before Social Security and Medicare existed, the elderly were either completely dependent on their children or were left to beg in the streets. These programs thus remain sacred to the vast majority of Americans. They allow the elderly dignity and independence instead of poverty and insecurity.  

Attacking these programs has always been political suicide for the assailant; not even the smoothest talking politician would squirm into an aggressive stance.

But now the gloves are off. Obama and the Democrats are aligning with Republicans to strike the first major blows against Social Security and Medicare. This long hidden agenda is finally in full view of the public. The decades-long political agreement to save these programs is dead, and the foundation of American politics is shifting beneath everyone’s feet.

The New York Times reports:

“President Obama next week will take the political risk of formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his annual budget…”

Many liberals are scratching their heads in astonishment, asking “How could this happen?”

The truth is that every liberal and labor leader knew this was in the works for years; they just kept their mouths shut in the hope that Obama could successfully push the blame entirely on the Republicans.

Throughout the summer of 2011 Obama worked with Republicans in the first attempt at a ‘Grand Bargain’ that included cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The Washington Post published an article entitled “Obama’sEvolution” about that summer:

“…the major elements of a [Grand] bargain seemed to be falling into place: $1.2 trillion in [national programs] agency cuts, smaller cost-of-living increases [cuts] for Social Security recipients [cuts by dollar inflation], nearly $250 billion in Medicare savings [cuts] achieved in part by raising the eligibility age [of Medicare]. And $800 billion in new taxes.”

Labor and liberal leaders kept quiet about this so they could push their members to vote for Obama in 2012. They also kept quite in the fall of 2011 when Obama released his budget proposal that included hundreds of billions of dollars worth of cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

But hiding the most recent betrayal was next to impossible, and every liberal group is now suddenly “shocked” to see Obama officially and publicly on record to pursue the cuts.

The most craven of the liberal groups will continue to spew rotten rhetoric that only blames Republicans for the cuts while making excuses for Obama’s behavior, claiming that he merely buckled under intense Republican pressure and felt the need to “compromise.”

But it’s all nonsense. No working person who votes Republican wants to cut Medicare and Social Security. Obama could have shattered the Republican Party at its kneecaps by broadly exposing their plans to cut Social Security and Medicare. Instead he insisted on co-leading the attack.

These cuts have nothing to do with Obama’s courage or backbone. It’s a matter of political and economic ideology, and the policy that flows from it.

To reverse this policy one cannot make excuses for the president or ignore his “treacherous” behavior. A criminal offensive requires a powerful counterattack. And although labor and liberal groups are reluctant to attack “their” president, the members of these groups share a different perspective.

In an attempt to connect with the rank and file, the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, said of Obama’s Social Security cuts:

“These cuts are bad policy. And the only way we’re going to stop them is if President Obama and all members of Congress hear that we’re not going to tolerate them. Sign our petition to the president NOW.”

The trouble is that petitions are not capable of stopping the years-in-the-making bi-partisan attack. Trumka knows this. He is thus faking opposition to a policy that he’s partially responsible for, since his miseducating of the AFL-CIO membership led to an ignorance that Obama exploited — union members couldn’t mobilize against something they didn’t know was happening.

But now the secret is exposed, and working people will expect the leaders of their organizations to wage a serious fight against these policies.

Those in the labor movement interested in organizing against this anti-worker offensive should consider actively building the coming August 24 demonstration called by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and The King Center for Washington, D.C. where they are planning to place the demand for jobs to end poverty squarely on the Obama government. Once working people are mobilized to fight independently for their own interests, it will be far easier to add demands around Social Security and Medicare to the list, since working people overwhelmingly support these programs.

The AFL-CIO has endorsed this demonstration.  Now they will have to seriously mobilize for it.

If we don’t fight back now, then when?

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




States Fight Back Against MERS Mortgage Fraud

April 8th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

MERS: The Center of the Mortgage Scam

A prominent economist said about the 2008 financial crisis:

“At the root of the crisis we find the largest financial swindle in world history”, where “counterfeit” mortgages were “laundered” by the banks.

The Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems – MERS – was one of the main ways the swindle was done, and the main way in which counterfeit mortgages were laundered by the banks.

MERS is a shell company with no employees, owned by the giant banks.

MERS threw out centuries of well-established law about how real estate is transferred – and cheated governments out of many tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in recording fees.

Matt Taibbi pointed out:

MERS … is essentially an effort at systematically evading taxes … and hiding information from homeowners in ways that enabled the Countrywides of the world to defraud investors and avoid legal consequences for same.


MERS was at least in part dreamed up by Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide.


For those of you wondering why so many localities are broke, here’s one small factor in the revenue drain. Counties typically charge a small fee for mortgage registration, roughly $30. But with MERS, … you don’t need to pay the fee every time there’s an ownership transfer. Multiply that by 67 million mortgages and you’re talking about billions in lost fees for local governments (some estimates place the total at about $200 billion).

Outrageously, MERS actually marketed itself to its customers as a way to save money by avoiding the payment of legally-mandated registration fees. Check out this MERS brochure from 2007. It brags on the face page about its fee-avoiding qualities (“MINIMIZE RISK. SAVE MONEY. REDUCE PAPERWORK”) and inside the brochure, in addition to boasting about helping clients “Foreclose More Quickly,” it talks about how clients save money because MERS “eliminates the need to record assignments in the name of the Trustee.”

All of this adds up to a system that enabled the mortgage industry to avoid keeping any kind of proper paperwork on its frantic, coke-fueled selling and re-selling of mortgage-backed securities during the bubble, and to help the both the Countrywide-style subprime merchants and the big banks like Goldman and Chase pull off the mass sales of crappy loans as AAA-rated securities.

Harper’s reported:

“What’s happened,” said Christopher Peterson, a law professor at the University of Utah who has written extensively about MERS, “is that, almost overnight, we’ve switched from democracy in real-property recording to oligarchy in real-property recording.” The county clerks who established the ownership of land, who oversaw and kept the records, were democratically elected stewards of those records, said Peterson. Now a corporation headquartered outside Washington, D.C., oversaw the records. “There was no court case behind this, no statute from Congress or the state legislatures,” Peterson told me. “It was accomplished in a private corporate decision. The banks just did it.” Peterson said it was “not a coincidence” that more Americans than at any time since the Great Depression were being forced out of their homes just as records of home ownership and mortgages were transferred wholesale to a privatized database.

The Securitized Sausage Maker

MERS was also the engine which allowed securitization of mortgages. Bloomberg reported:

MERS played a key role in the bundling of mortgages into securities that reached a frenzy before the economic decline of 2008, critics including Grayson of Florida said. It allowed banks to sell and resell home loans faster, easier and cheaper, he said.

“MERS was a facilitator of securitization,” said Grayson, a Democratic member of the House Financial Services Committee.


Steve Liesman explained in 2007:

How do you create a subprime derivative? …You take a bunch of mortgages… and put them into one big thing. We call it a Mortgage Backed Security. Say it’s $50 million worth… Now you take a bunch of these Mortgage Backed Securities and you put them into one very big thing… The one thing about all these guys here [in the one very big thing] is that they’re all subprime borrowers, their credit is bad or there’s something about them that doesn’t make it prime…

Watch, we’re going to make some triple A paper out of this… Now we have a $1 billion vehicle here. We’re going to slice it up into five different pieces. Call them tranches… The key is, they’re not divided by “Jane’s is here” and “Joe’s is here.” Jane is actually in all five pieces here. Because what we’re doing is, the BBB tranche, they’re going to take the first losses for whoever is in the pool, all the way up to about 8% of the losses. What we’re saying is, you’ve got losses in the thing, I’m going to take them and in return you’re going to pay me a relatively high interest rate… All the way up to triple A, where 24% of the losses are below that. Twenty-four percent have to go bad before they see any losses. Here’s the magic as far as Wall Street’s concerned. We have taken subprime paper and created GE quality paper out of it. We have a triple A tranche here.

Ellen Brown explained the significance of MERS in this process:

The top tranche is triple A because it includes the mortgages that did NOT default; but no one could know which those were until the defaults occurred, when the defaulting mortgages got assigned to the lower tranches and foreclosure went forward. That could explain why the mortgages could not be assigned to the proper group of investors immediately: the homes only fell into their designated tranches when they went into default. The clever designers of these vehicles tried to have it both ways by conveying the properties to an electronic dummy conduit called MERS (an acronym for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems), which would hold them in the meantime. MERS would then assign them to the proper tranche as the defaults occurred. But the rating agencies required that the conduit be “bankruptcy remote,” which meant it could hold title to nothing; and courts have started to take notice of this defect.

(Gonzalo Lira made the same point.)

Indeed, the secretary and treasurer of MERS admitted this in a deposition, stating (page 32, lines 9-20):

As a requirement for mortgages that were securing loans or promissory notes that were sold to securitize trust, the rating agencies would only allow mortgages MERS — well let me step back. They required that a bankruptcy remote single purpose entity be created in order for transactions holding loans secured by MERS, by mortgages MERS served as mortgagee to be in those pools and receive a rating, an investment grade rating without any changes to the credit enhancement. They required that to be a bankruptcy remote single purpose subsidiary of MERS, of Merscorp.

Many commercial mortgages may be held by MERS as well, and for the same reason.

Harper’s points out:

[MERS] facilitated the buying and selling of mortgage debt at great speed and greatly reduced cost. It was a key innovation in expediting the packaging of mortgage-backed securities. Soon after the registry launched, in 1999, the Wall Street ratings agencies pronounced the system sound. “The legal mechanism set up to put creditors on notice of a mortgage is valid,” as was “the ability to foreclose,” assured Moody’s. That same year, Lehman Brothers issued the first AAA-rated mortgage-backed security built out of MERS mortgages. By the end of 2002, MERS was registering itself as the owner of 21,000 loans every day. Five years later, at the peak of the housing bubble, MERS registered some two thirds of all home loans in the United States.

Without the efficiencies of MERS there probably would never have been a mortgage-finance bubble.

(In addition, the same mortgage was sometimes pledged to numerous buyers at the same time. This wouldn’t have been possible without the vaporware title given by MERS. And some – like foreclosure attorney Neil Garfield – think that the ability to pledge the same mortgage multiple times is a feature, rather than a bug, of MERS. And see this.)

Relief Must Come at the State Level

Property recording laws are state laws, and the states have always been the bedrock for property rights.

Given that the head of the U.S. Department of Justice used to represent MERS – and that the D.C. politicians are lackeys for the big banks which own MERS – the only hope is at the state level.

Some state courts have, in fact, declared MERS illegal … or at least without power to foreclose on property.

Harper’s notes:

After the housing market collapsed, however, MERS found itself under attack in courts across the country. MERS had singlehandedly unraveled centuries of precedent in property titling and mortgage recordation, and judges in state appellate and federal bankruptcy courts in more than a dozen jurisdictions—the primary venues where real estate cases are decided— determined that the company did not have the right to foreclose on the mortgages it held.

In 2009, Kansas became one of the first states to have its supreme court rule against MERS. In Landmark National Bank v. Boyd A. Kesler, the court concluded that MERS failed to follow Kansas statute: the company had not publicly recorded the chain of title with the relevant registers of deeds in counties across the state. A mortgage contract, the justices wrote, consists of two documents: the deed of trust, which secures the house as collateral on a loan, and the promissory note, which indebts the borrower to the lender. The two documents were sometimes literally inseparable: under the rules of the paper recording system at county court-houses, they were tied together with a ribbon or seal to be undone only once the note had been paid off. “In the event that a mortgage loan somehow separates interests of the note and the deed of trust, with the deed of trust lying with some independent entity,” said the Kansas court, “the mortgage may become unenforceable.”

MERS purported to be the independent entity holding the deed of trust. The note of indebtedness, however, was sold within the MERS system, or “assigned” among various lenders. This was in keeping with MERS’s policy: it was not a bank, made no loans, had no money to lend, and did not collect loan payments. It had no interest in the loan, only in the deed of trust. The company—along with the lenders that had used it to assign ownership of notes—had thus entered into a vexing legal bind. “There is no evidence of record that establishes that MERS either held the promissory note or was given the authority [to] assign the note,” the Kansas court found, quoting a decision from a district court in California. Not only did MERS fail to legally assign the notes, the company presented “no evidence as to who owns the note.”

Similar cases were brought before courts in Idaho, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Utah, and other states. “It appears that every MERS mortgage,” a New York State Supreme Court judge recently told me, “is defective, a piece of crap.” The language in the judgments against MERS became increasingly denunciatory. MERS’s arguments for standing in foreclosure were described as “absurd,” forcing courts to move through “a syntactical fog into an impassable swamp.”

The next key battle is taking place right now in Rhode Island. Specifically, the Rhode Island Attorney General and state legislators are trying to slay the MERS dragon within their state:

Citing the irregularities with the recording of mortgages and assignments that negatively impact municipalities and consumers, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin filed legislation to require that all transfers of a mortgage interest on residential property be recorded to provide a clean chain of title. The legislation, S0547 sponsored by Senator William Conley (District 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) and H5512 sponsored by Representative Brian Kennedy (District 38, Hopkinton, Westerly), is scheduled to be heard before both the Senate Committee on Judiciary and House Corporations Committee on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.

The legislation makes it easier for borrowers and regulators to determine who owns loans secured by mortgages on Rhode Island property. Borrowers facing foreclosure will be able to more easily discover who owns their loans before it is too late, and municipalities will be able to identify lenders who are responsible for abandoned homes. The legislation will [stop] the practice of having the vast majority of mortgages held in the name of a private registry with no interest in the loans known as … “MERS.”

Since 1997, the banking industry has been using MERS, which lenders claim has minimized their administrative and financial burdens of the recording process. However, this practice has basically privatized the local land recording process, thereby undermining the accuracy of public records and leading to negative consequences for consumers and municipalities.

“The changing of servicing and subservicing rights within the lending history often leaves the borrower confused regarding which entity they are supposed to be dealing with on a monthly basis and why,” said Attorney General Kilmartin. “The legislation is designed to give borrowers a public record of who ultimately owns their loans, increasing the ability of homeowners to negotiate with their lenders and their ability to have full knowledge of their rights, counterclaims and defenses if they are faced with litigation.”

“Rhode Island has experienced a record number of foreclosure and short sales since the mortgage crisis,” said Representative Kennedy, “This legislation will assist homeowners in knowing who maintains the note on their property while also ensuring that local cities and towns will know the potential owner of a property after a forced sale has occurred, to ensure that municipalities have the proper information available on the documentation for taxation and municipal recording fees.”

“With this legislation, we are taking another step toward easing the pain of the housing and mortgage foreclosure crisis, which has affected both the state’s municipalities and individual consumers,” Sen. William J. Conley Jr. said. “It is common sense to record these transfers and take out the unnecessary middle man. Rhode Islanders need to know exactly who they are dealing with and how they can protect themselves. The foreclosure process is tough enough already without adding the frustration of MERS.”

By having a nominee entity listed as the mortgagee, the banking industry has privatized Rhode Island’s mortgage recording system, and left the accuracy of public land records at the mercy of a private company’s database. Federal banking authorities have already concluded that the private mortgage system contains numerous inaccuracies and has not been accessible to homeowners. Moreover, the nominee frequently has no contractual relationship with the actual noteowner, despite the contention in the mortgage documents of a nominee relationship.

Not only has this private system deprived cities and towns the recording fees that they are owed for over 15 years, it has also hampered the ability of municipalities to adequately address abandoned property and nuisance issues because the mortgagee liable for these issues is not clear from the chain of title.

Consumers are adversely impacted due to the fact that their mortgage loans change hands multiple times through the life of the loan without proper recording. The lack of a contemporaneous public record hampers their ability to deal directly with their lenders and enforce their legal rights.

The banking industry’s practice of using a nominee entity process for recording deeds has become a highly litigated issue by consumers, municipalities and counties throughout the country. This very issue is currently being litigated in Rhode Island with private citizens and municipalities calling into question the legality of using the nominee process to record mortgage interests. The multitude of legal issues surrounding the nominee process has caused confusion and delay in foreclosure proceedings in our State, and has raised the critical issue of whether a nominee entity can enforce the power of sale. High Courts in other States, including Massachusetts and Washington, have already ruled that a nominee cannot utilize the power of sale [i.e. MERS cannot foreclose on property]. This legislation resolves this issue in Rhode Island by simply eliminating the nominee recording process and restoring accuracy and transparency to the public land records [i.e. killing MERS].


U.S. Stealth Bombers in Dry Run Over S.Korea

April 7th, 2013 by Global Research News

Global Research Editor’s Note

The B-2 are equipped to launch B61-11 tactical bunker buster bombs with nuclear war heads. Their deployment over Korea is a clear act of provocation. (GR Ed. M. Ch.)

U.S. stealth bombers conducted a mock bombing run over a firing range on the island of Jikdo off Gunsan on Thursday, according to the Combined Forces Command.

The B-2 bombers, the most expensive aircraft in the world at about US$2 billion apiece, have conducted secret bombing runs over the Korean Peninsula several times, but this is the first time their dry runs have been made public.

U.S. military authorities apparently decided to announce them because they wanted to send a warning message to North Korea in response to recent belligerent rhetoric and dampen mounting calls from South Korea to build its own nuclear weapons.

Two B-2 bombers took off from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri on Wednesday night and flew 10,500 km for more than 15 hours, being refueled in mid-air. They arrived in the air over the Jikdo firing range around noon Thursday. After dropping drill bombs, they were refueled again and returned to their home base.

The CFC said in a press release U.S. Strategic Command sent the bombers “as part of the ongoing bilateral Foal Eagle training exercise,” demonstrating U.S. commitment and “its capability to defend [South Korea] and to provide extended deterrence.”

A B-2 bomber flies over South Korea on Thursday.

A B-2 bomber flies over South Korea on Thursday.

The B-2 is a new strategic bomber that has been deployed by the U.S. Air Force since 1993. Twenty m long and 52 m wide, it is far bigger than the F-22 stealth fighter jet but has such excellent stealth functions that it appears on the radar screen as if it were of similar size.

It would prove its real worth when striking strategic targets such as the North Korean presidential palace and nuclear and missile bases that are equipped with powerful anti-air defense systems or hidden deep underground.

The B-2 can carry GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator bunker-buster bombs, each of which weighs 14 tons. The bomb can supposedly penetrate 60 m of earth or 8 m of reinforced concrete. It also can carry 80 225-kg Joint Direct Attack Munition smart bombs.

On a single sortie, it can destroy 80 different targets. It could also carry 16 B61 nuclear bombs.

With production reduced significantly, the price has soared stratospherically. One of the 21 B-2s in service crashed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam in June 2008.

The B-2 proved its value in combat missions since the first NATO bombing in Yugoslavia in 1999. At the time, six B-2 bombers dropped a total of 656 bombs.

After its first bombing mission in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, a B-2 bomber once carried out six bombing runs over three days and one flew non-stop for 44 hours and 18 minutes, the longest air combat mission in history.

by Dr. Hakim

I believe the medical community has made a mistake in considering war-related post-traumatic stress a disorder.

War related post-traumatic stress is a natural order, not a disorder.

I speak as a general medical practitioner, not as a psychiatrist. But more importantly, I speak as a human being whose thinking about war trauma transformed in the few minutes that I was interviewing Faiz Ahmad a few years ago, and then recently in interviewing Nao Rozi, an Afghan National Army veteran.

Anyone who witnesses gruesome violence and death would feel nauseous and repulsed, and these reactions are a natural order of human preservation, not a disorder.

War-related post-traumatic stress prompts us to avoid the blood and gore of mutual killing. Collecting and hearing all the stories of war veterans should prompt us to seriously abolish wars. Albert Einstein had said, “War cannot be humanized, only abolished. War is a terrible thing, and must be abolished at all costs. “

Nao Rozi had painted for me a morbid scene that poets and writers have consistently described in different ways over the centuries, “There were so many dead young bodies, and all of them were strangers to me. I thought, ‘Why did we do this to one another? Who benefited from these deaths? Weren’t their mothers waiting for them at home?’ ”

These questions changed the course of his life.

While making sense out of what he had experienced, he had tried to kill himself a few times.

Today, there is an on-going suicide epidemic among U.S. soldiers and veterans.

A portion of the Guardian article which touched on this suicide epidemic among U.S. soldiers is worth reproducing here.

Libby Busbee is pretty sure that her son William never sat through or read Shakespeare’s Macbeth, even though he behaved as though he had. Soon after he got back from his final tour of Afghanistan, he began rubbing his hands over and over and constantly rinsing them under the tap. “Mom, it won’t wash off,” he said.

“What are you talking about?” she replied.

“The blood. It won’t come off.”

On 20 March 2012, the soldier’s striving for self-cleanliness came to a sudden end. That night he locked himself in his car and, with his mother and two sisters screaming just a few feet away and with Swat officers encircling the vehicle, he shot himself in the head.

At the age of 23, William Busbee had joined a gruesome statistic. In 2012, for the first time in at least a generation, the number of active-duty soldiers who killed themselves, 177, exceeded the 176 who were killed while in the war zone.

Tomas Young, an Iraq veteran who has decided to end his life, wrote a letter to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney stating “My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.”

In the words of Erica Modugno, author of a pledge some veterans are making to dying Tomas Young:

“We see you. We hear you. We will not remain passive. We will not be silent.

Farewell, Tomas, and thank you.”

I’m sad that some of us may still conclude that Nao Rozi, William Busbee and Tomas Young were ‘wimpy soldiers’, not brave enough to unflinchingly continue doing their jobs.

Rather, their post-traumatic stress was a natural order seeking to preserve their good conscience, a kind order that can help us find a better world.

Dr. Teck Young Wee, a Singaporean medical doctor, has been involved in health and development work in Afghanistan since 2004.  The name he uses, Hakim, was given to him by Afghans he served in refugee camps. In the Dari language, “Hakim” means “local healer.” He now lives and works in Kabul establishing small social enterprise and is a friend-mentor of the Afghan Peace Volunteers.   (


Below are excerpts of an interview of Nao Rozi, an Afghan National Army veteran, and now a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

Nao Rozi : “Veterans commit suicide from a good conscience”

Excerpts of Video Transcript

Nao Rozi : I was an Afghan soldier for 2 years and had combat roles.

Hakim : What did you learn from your experience?

Nao Rozi : If I think about the root issues, philosophy since the time of Plato has tried to bring the minds of the public under government control. Sometimes, I thought that soldiers and wars were necessary but when I joined the military as a soldier, I saw the injuring and killing of soldiers and opponents like the Taliban. I thought, “Is my presence necessary? Is it correct to have a weapon?” I held a weapon before people I didn’t know and who didn’t know me… We weren’t enemies because we didn’t even know one another. Even before greetings, we were supposed to kill one another.

I concluded that I should leave the army and after that, I had a crisis.

I had almost changed 180 degrees. I was affected by the war.

I tried committing suicide a few times. I felt alone.

Hakim : Some people who hear your story may think your mind was weak; you wanted to commit suicide…

Nao Rozi : Veterans who commit suicide are not cowardly…they are victims of the war.

Life becomes meaningless. It becomes difficult. You think you’ve done something such that you feel you no longer have the right to live.

Those US veterans who committed suicide had a conscience.

Hakim : What message do you have for friends and for the world?

Nao Rozi : Teacher, how I wish that every human in the world would…just for once, sit down alone and ask, “What are we here for?”

How have we been deceived? How true to self have we been?

I was brought up under the ‘government system’ and things I heard from society and the media. I was captive to these. Now, I am free!

Nao Rozi lives and struggles with the Afghan Peace Volunteers,

seeking a better life, seeking a better world.


In the last 50 years there have been two major threats to life on our planet.  The first, the nuclear arms race and its near disaster of 1962, was narrowly averted by President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, who then set a course for peace. (See Part I of this essay)

The second, the ticking climate bomb on its short “business as usual” fuse, has no solution in sight.

In both cases unseen forces have blocked a survival response to incalculable danger. We will examine these forces and suggest a way forward, modeled partially on action taken by JFK to avert nuclear war.

Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: —
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass. 

                                                      James Allen,1902

The Looming Climate Emergency:  Science Anyone Can Understand

The role of greenhouse gases, which absorb and hold the heat in earth’s atmosphere, and which acidify the oceans, has been simply and clearly illustrated by Dr. Eric Grimsrud in his slide-show, Short Course: The Earth’s Climate.[29]

Overwhelmingly, scientists now believe it is “likely that the world will blow past the 2 degree C warming threshold that scientists and international negotiators agree is needed to avoid catastrophic consequences.”[30]

On December 3, 2012, The Global Carbon Project, comprised of 35 climatologists from 10 countries, reported that under “business as usual,” “emissions are heading to a 4.0 to 6.1 degree C ‘likely’ increase in temperature.”[31]

How do they know this?

Note on the graph below that 800,000 years of ice core data show a close correspondence between atmospheric CO2 and earth’s average temperatures.[32] Also, the pre-industrial (1840′s) CO2 level was 278 parts per million, and had never been much higher during the 800,000 years.[33]

The increase in CO2 levels between 2011 and 2012 was the second-biggest ever recorded, jumping 2.67 parts per million in that year alone, to reach 395 ppm.

The NOAA graph of Mauno Loa CO2 data from 2009 to February 2013, showing a rise from 386 to 396.8 ppm, looks like a runaway train.[34]

This CO2 persists in the atmosphere for thousands of years, accumulating faster than earth’s oceans and forests can absorb it, with the result that the past 10 years have been hotter than more than 75% of the past 11,300 years.[35]

In January, 2013 the New York Times reported an effect of this rate of accumulation:  “Temperature differences between years are usually measured in fractions of a degree, but last year’s 55.3 degree average demolished the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree Fahrenheit.”[36]

Former skeptics finally believe we are facing a planetary emergency:

British climate change economist Lord Nicholas Stern said in January that “I got it wrong on climate change — it’s far, far worse;” that he now believes we are “on track for something like four” degrees above the long-term global temperature average, and the “risks of a four- or five-degree rise.”[37]

World Bank President Jim Kim spoke of “a real and present danger,” referring to “an extreme heat wave in Russia [that] led to 55,000 deaths.” In Thailand, the 2011 floods led to losses of “45 billion or about 13% of GDP.”[38]

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said recently that “unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.”[39]

“During the three decades from 1980 to 2011, the number of violent storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, as tabulated by the reinsurance company Munich Re, has increased more than three-fold. They also estimate that the financial losses follow a trend line that has gone from $40 billion to $170 billion dollars per year.”[40]

It is clear to these economists, who do not hold science degrees, that once the tipping point is passed and earth is unable to regain its balance, our most desperate attempts will be unable to fend off catastrophe.

So why have governments been so slow to respond?

IV.  Climate Reality: The Unspeakable Obstruction to Public Awareness and Action

An enormous gulf exists historically between scientific consensus on climate change and public awareness, with the media giving equal time to believers and deniers.

Grimsrud attributes this extraordinary negligence to “the humungous snow job that is being done to the intellect of the general public by the omnipotent fossil fuel dynasties that have dominated life on our planet for many decades.”[41]

For example, in 2009 former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev convened The Climate Change Task Force[42], a group of 20 scientists, economists, former heads of state, Nobel prize laureates and climate experts from developed and developing countries.

In June, 2012 the Task Force issued a 3-page “Appeal for Urgent Action on Climate Change”, calling on the UN Conference Rio+20, for “an urgent and profound international response to the increasing risks and threats of climate change,” and for “radical new solutions.” [43]

A Google News Archive search reveals that this body has never once been covered in the Western mainstream news since its inception in 2009.

Not surprising.  From 2002-2010 a group of anonymous conservative billionaires channeled $120 million “of dark money” to more than 100 think tanks, many near Washington DC, casting doubt on the science behind climate change.[44]  ”Those same groups are now mobilising against Obama’s efforts to act on climate change in his second term. A top recipient of the secret funds on Wednesday put out a point-by-point critique of the climate content in the president’s state of the union address.”[45]

The plan is in full swing, especially regarding the proposed $7 billion, 1700-mile Keystone XL Pipeline.

The 2,000-page draft environmental impact statement was issued by the US State Department on March 1st.[46]

It has since come to light that this statement was actually written by the TransCanada Pipeline contractor.[47] “The statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline’s massive carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, because, it asserts, the mining and burning of the tar sands is unstoppable.”

Why is it unstoppable?  Because the public, deluged with media anti-science, still hopes its addiction to oil will somehow work out — and many believe that “cheap oil” is the only thing that keeps the economy from tanking.

But why is Obama, who knows the science and has two daughters who will live into the coming debacle, not taking the “transformative, radical action” urged by Gorbachev?  Why does he not start by turning Keystone down, as the New York Times urged him to do?[48]

Obama has in fact tried to end the $4 billion in subsidies to oil and gas companies. However the March 29, 2012 bill was defeated 51-47 by the Senate (60 votes are required).[49]

But the unseen hand is ever-present:

  1. US Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu resigned February 1, 2013, after a four-year term. Long criticized by the oil industry for his clean energy programs, Chu said that “only one percent of the companies we funded went bankrupt. That one percent has gotten more attention than the 99 percent that have not.”[50]
  1. The pro-Keystone XL Bill that passed March 16, 2013 in the US Senate was co-sponsored by 14 Senators, who together have received $10 million in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.[51]
  1. Vancouver economist Robyn Allan writes of the Harper government’s pro-Keystone agenda: “If the goal was to strengthen Canada’s economy, bitumen would be upgraded at facilities in Alberta (creating jobs and adding value to the petroleum product), and then moved east where there is a domestic demand in Ontario and Quebec.”[52] Canadian unions know this and urgently oppose the pipeline.[53]

In short, the whole Keystone debate has nothing to do with jobs, investigative reporting, or an informed public — and everything to do with narrow industry profits, election campaign chests, and industry-backed media fog.

These mercenary interests posing as climate deniers are holding sway over the future of both countries, if not the world.

V.  Confronting the Unspeakable

If JFK, MLK, and RFK were assassinated while promoting peace in a military economy, how far can Obama push for renewables in a military/oil economy?

In 2009, the Department of Defense, the largest consumer of energy in America, used over 93% of all US Government energy, and more than the whole country of Nigeria with a population of 140 million.[54]

The military produced 4% of the carbon emissions of the entire U.S.  How can Obama slow down this glutted war machine?  If he tries, will he face the same fate as JFK?

When White House Press journalist Sarah MacClendon asked President Bill Clinton why he wasn’t doing anything about UFO disclosure, Clinton replied,  Sarah, there’s a government inside the government, and I don’t control it.”[55]

CIA veteran Ray McGovern, who for years delivered the morning intelligence brief to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, referred in 2009 to “two CIA’s.” One was created by President Truman to “give him the straight scoop without any fear or favor. [And there is also a] covert action arm,” which acts without oversight by Congressional committees. “I think Panetta, and to a degree President Obama, are afraid — I never thought I’d hear myself saying this — I think they’re afraid of the CIA.”[56]

Indeed, former  CIA Director Leon Panetta advised Obama, when he wanted to downsize troops in Afghanistan, that “no Democratic president can go against military advice, especially if he asked for it…So just do it. Do what they say.”[57]

Such warnings would also explain Obama’s granting of immunity to 98 of Bush’s 100 CIA torturers in 2012, after he had sworn to bring justice to the issue.[58]

It’s therefore not much of a stretch to see that when:

a) the military depends heavily on oil, and

b) there is hard evidence that a covert arm of the CIA has been complicit in state assassinations,

a President who has already backed off on troop reductions and CIA accountability might well fear running afoul of “the abyss” if he took decisive action against the oil-based economic steamroller.

And here we come to the Presidential crunch between the “deep state” and the public (democratic) state.  The deep state is the embedded politics of the corporate evil that has become so pervasive in recent years. The guts of the U.S. economy is a morality blind to bank fraud, rampant pharmaceutical toxicity, a fats-and-sugar food industry driving epidemic obesity, and fossil-fuel control of the media.

How can we help Obama to save the public state, and indeed the world, from global warming?  How can we regain control of our national democracies to secure the survival of life itself?

In the final analysis, Douglass concludes, the Unspeakable is not far way.  It is not somewhere out there, fused with a government that has become alien to us.  To the extent that we fail to confront it, the void of responsibility is also within ourselves.

We might now turn to the words of Robert F. Kennedy before a large Indianapolis crowd the day Martin Luther King was killed. With his own brother’s death clearly in mind he cited his favorite Greek poet, Aeschylus:

“In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

Such pain has been known to all of us. It is the duality that deepens our compassion for humankind.  Allowing it to live on in us marks the end of existential isolation and inertia.

VI. A Way Forward to Climate Sanity

It is clear from the foregoing that all people must rise to meet the crisis. To sustain life as we know it, humanity must reduce atmospheric CO2 from 396 ppm to 350 ppm, and soon.

“Business as usual” will lead to disaster and is now out of the question. We are at war with our own behavior and it is time to gear up, impose discipline, and win the planet back.

We must first consider the over-arching nature of reality. Contrary to the prevailing view, the economy is a subset of our ecology — not the other way around.[59]

Ecology is what we live in. We are dependent on the land base and we need it to survive. Our society lives within the land base, and inside our society is the economy. The most basic necessity is not the economy, but the ecology, and this truth must be recognized in order to map our recovery.

The actions below, if taken, would return us to living in an ecological society:

1. Tame the U.S. Senate on Climate Matters

First, the will of the people, the Congress, and the President must take priority over the Senate.

In August 1963, JFK, up against nuclear “cold warriors” and the Senate, waged an all-out campaign to win Senate approval of the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty.  White House organizers led by Norman Cousins reached out through a Citizens Committee to business and religious leaders, scientists, scholars, universities, unions, newspapers, and NGO’s.  This remarkable campaign succeeded within several weeks in mobilizing the anti-nuclear sentiment of the country, and the Senate approved JFK’s Treaty 80-19 in September.[60]

Obama faces a similar situation today:  a) the planet is imperiled by fossil fuels; b) the Senate is under pressure from the oil industry; c) the public is becoming increasingly alarmed and could be mobilized to speak out; d) workable transition strategies for clean energy have already been developed.

2. Commit to Workable Principles for Transitioning to Clean Energy

Dr. Grimsrud has set out in his Short Course a simple, workable plan for transitioning to clean energy:[61]

  1. Use only known reserves of gas and oil. They are the “cleanest” forms of fossil fuels.  Halt exploration for new reserves.
  2. Leave all other forms of fossil fuels in the ground, including coal, tar sands, and shale oil.
  3. Pursue massive reforestation and biomass production to enable CO2 uptake.

3. Commit to Economic Incentives to Build Compliance

  1. Immediately start taxing the full atmospheric cost of fossil fuel use to producers. Use this money to subsidize eligible clean energy businesses. Charge carbon import taxes on all products for which a carbon tax was not paid in the country of origin. (The Carbon Fee and Dividend Plan)
  2. Transfer existing oil and gas subsidies to eligible clean energy businesses, including high-mileage cars and green buildings.
  3. Create venture-capital programs for the clean-tech sector.
  4. Create efficiency standards for household appliances and lighting.
  5. Subsidize in-city public transport and bicycle use.
  6. Rationing: Introduce rationing of oil and gas for automobiles, home heating (while subsidizing electricity and heat pumps), and non-essential flight travel.

World War II rationing in Great Britain worked well and was based on the following decisions: [62]

  • In 1939 and 1940 the government rejected proposals to rely upon increased taxation to cut consumption because the impact of tax rises would be slow and inequitable.
  • The government introduced rationing instead, as it was the best way to cut consumption quickly and ensure that reduced supplies were shared out equitably.
  • Policymakers rejected tradable rations, a feature of current carbon rationing proposals, fearing that it would undermine the moral basis of rationing, encourage coupon fraud and feed inflation, thereby negating the socially-progressive aspects of tradable rations.
  • The public accepted that rationing was a temporary but necessary measure due to persuasive economic arguments, underlying trust in central government, and positive memories of rationing during the First World War.
  • To introduce a successful carbon rationing scheme, the experience of the Second World War indicates that the government must convince the public that rationing levels are fair; that the system is administered transparently and fairly; and that evaders are few in number, likely to be detected and liable to stiff penalties if found guilty.

In this essay we have looked at the truth about climate, and what is needed to address it.

As Arundhati Roy has written, “The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it, and once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way you’re accountable.”[63]

VII. Conclusion

It is critically important that we respond to the precipice in front of us:  there is no time to be lulled by a sense of normalcy while the planet quietly and irreversibly succumbs to ruin. We must act now, before the weather becomes truly terrifying.

Let us honor our assassinated heroes by learning from them.

John Kennedy, in his American University address, was proclaiming a way out of the Cold War and into a new human possibility.  We need to connect with JFK’s new possibility by meeting the unspeakable:  first in ourselves, and then in the deep hidden places that we sense exist behind our democratic institutions.

So far, we have failed these men unforgivably by not looking long and hard where they pointed.[64]

The price of not going into the heart of truth has become unaffordable.  Bob Dylan once asked, “How far in will you go?”

This question must mark the beginning of a new journey at every level of society.


[29] Eric P. Grimsrud, “Short Course. The Earth’s Climate: Historic, Present, and Future,” May, 2012 ( Grimsrud is a Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Montana State University, who taught atmospheric science for 29 years, has written more than 100 published articles, and holds teaching and research awards. See also the 4-minute video “Climate 101,” narrated by Bill Nye ( ); and the TED Talk, by David Roberts, “Climate Change is Simple” (

[30] Glen P. Peters, et al., “The Challenge to Keep Global Warming Below 2°C, Nature Climate Change, December 2012 (

[31] Global Carbon Project, “Global Carbon Budget, 2012,” December 12, 2012 (

[32] Eric P. Grimsrud, “Short Course. The Earth’s Climate: Historic, Present, and Future,” May, 2012 (, Section 4.

[33] See Grimsrud “Short Course,” Section 4 (

[34] U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, “Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide,”

[35] Shaun A. Marcott, et al., A Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years,” Science, March 8, 2013 (

[36] Justin Gillis, New York Times, January 8, 2013, “Not Even Close: 2012 Was Hottest Ever in US” (

[37] “Nicholas Stern: ‘I got it wrong on climate change — it’s far, far worse,’” Heather Stewart and Larry Elliott, The Guardian, January 26, 2013 (

[38] World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at G20 Meeting, “Climate Change Represents Real, Present Danger, February 16, 2003 (

[39] David Runnalls, “Roasted, Toasted, Fried and Grilled: Climate Talk from an Unlikely Source,” The Globe and Mail, February 1, 2013 (

[40] “Letter from Secretary Steven Chu to Energy Department Employees Announcing His Decision Not to Serve a Second Term,” February 1, 2013 (Steven Chu resignation letter, Munich Re report at

[41] Eric Grimsrud, “Questions Concerning Short Course,” March 18, 2013 post , “Welcome to Freelandia” (http

[42] CCTF The full 27-page 2012 CCTF Statement, “Action to Face the Urgent Realities of Climate Change,” is at

[43] The Climate Change Task Force, “Appeal for Urgent Action on Climate Change,” Geneva, June 11, 2012 (

[44] Susan Goldenberg, “Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks,” The Guardian, February 14, 2013 (

[45] Ibid.

[46] U.S. Department of State. Keystone XL Pipeline Project, “Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement,” March 1, 2013 (

[47] Brad Johnson, “‘State Department’ Keystone XL Report Actually Written by TransCanada Contractor,” Huffington Post Blog, March 6, 2013 (

[49] “Obama Plan to End U.S. Oil Subsidies Rejected,” CBC News, March 29, 2012 (

[50] Tom Zeller, “Energy Secretary Steven Chu Resigns, Chastises Climate Deniers and Clean-Energy Critics,” Huffington Post, February 1, 2013 (

[51] David Turnbull, “Pro-Keystone XL Senate Bill Follows Pattern of Following the Oil Money,” Oilchange International, March 14, 2013 (

[52] Travis Lupick, “Economist Questions Financial Benefits of Alberta Oil Sands,”, March 26, 2013 (

[53] Gloria Galloway, “Oil-sands Workers Press MP’s to Oppose ‘Wrongheaded’ Keystone Pipeline,” The Globe and Mail, September 21, 2011 (

[54] “How Much Energy Does the U.S. Military Consume?” January 3, 2011 (

[55] Rick Bonner, “UFOs and the President’s Office: What the President Knows, and Doesn’t,” May 23, 2012 (

[56] Brad Friedman, “Ray McGovern Warns of ‘Two CIA’s,’” September 13, 2009 (  Dr. Peter Dale Scott has called this “deep politics.” Peter Dale Scott, “The ‘Deep State’ Behind U.S. Democracy,” Voltaire Net, April 6, 2011 ( My essay variously refers to the “deep state” as “the unspeakable”, “the abyss”, and “the void”.

[57] Bob Woodward, “Obama’s Wars,” Simon & Schuster, 2010, p. 247.

[58] Glenn Greenwald, “Obama’s Justice Department Grants Final Immunity to Bush’s CIA Torturers,” The Guardian, August 31, 2012 (

[59] Satish Kumar, founder of the Schumacher Institute, “Economics is a Subset of Ecology,” posted November 10, 2011 (

[60] Lawrence S. Wittner, “Looking Back: Norman Cousins and the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963,” Arms Control Today, December, 2012 (

[61] Eric P. Grimsrud, “Short Course. The Earth’s Climate: Historic, Present, and Future,” May, 2012 (, Sections 8a and 8b.

[62] These points are copied directly from:  Mark Roodhouse, “Rationing Returns:  A Solution to Global Warming?” History & Policy, March, 2007 ( History & Policy is a collaboration between scholars at the Universities of Cambridge and London, England.

[63] Arundhati Roy, “Power Politics,” South End Press, 2001, p. 7.

[64] Indeed President Eisenhower had explicitly warned against it in 1961: “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961″ (

I wish to thank Dr. Michael J. Harvey, biologist, for his assistance with this essay.

This essay is dedicated to Dr. James W. Douglass, from whose book JFK and the Unspeakable and workshop I learned deeply.

by Hasan Suroor

The British intelligence services may have just had one of their best-kept secrets blown: their role in the abduction and assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister whose Pan-African nationalism and pro-Moscow leanings alarmed the West.

For more than 50 years, rumours have swirled over allegations of British involvement in Lumumba’s brutal murder in 1961, but nothing has ever been proved — leaving the CIA and its Belgian peers alone to take the rap for what a Belgian writer has described as “the most important assassination of the 20th century.” Now, in a dramatic revelation, a senior British politician has claimed that he got it from the horse’s mouth that it was MI6 that “did” it.

Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Lumumba (The Hindu)

In a little noticed letter to the editor in the latest issue of the London Review of Books (LRB), Lord David Edward Lea responded to the claim in a new book on British intelligence, Empire of Secrets: British intelligence, the Cold War and the Twilight of Empire by Calder Walton, that the jury is still out on Britain’s role in Lumumba’s death. “The question remains whether British plots to assassinate Lumumba … ever amounted to anything. At present, we do not know,” writes Walton.

Lord Lea retorted: “Actually, in this particular case, I can report that we do. It so happens that I was having a cup of tea with Daphne Park… She had been consul and first secretary in Leopoldville, now Kinshasa, from 1959 to 1961, which in practice (this was subsequently acknowledged) meant head of MI6 there. I mentioned the uproar surrounding Lumumba’s abduction and murder, and recalled the theory that MI6 might have had something to do with it. ‘We did,’ she replied, ‘I organised it.’”

According to Lord Lea, she contended that if the West had not intervened, Lumumba would have handed over Congo’s — now called Democratic Republic of Congo — rich mineral deposits to the Russians. When contacted by The Hindu, Lord Lea confirmed the contents of his letter to the LRB and that the conversation over tea took place a few months before Ms. Park died in 2010. “That’s the conversation I had with her and that’s what she told me. I have nothing more to add,” he said when asked if he had any other independent confirmation of Ms. Park’s claim.

Ms. Park was a career intelligence officer who served in Kinshasa (then Leopoldville) between 1959 and 1961. On retirement, she was made a Life peer as Baroness Park of Monmouth. Her fellow peers in the House of Lords referred to her as a spokesperson for the Secret Intelligence Service. She was also briefly head of Somerville College, Oxford University.

There has been no comment from MI6 on Lord Lea’s revelation. “We don’t comment on intelligence matters,” an official said.

Lumumba, hailed as “the hero of Congolese independence” from Belgium in 1960, was shot dead on January 17, 1961 after being toppled in a US-Belgian backed military coup barely two months after being in office.

Lumumba had been sheltered by Rajeshwar Dayal — the Indian diplomat who was the UN Secretary General’s representative in the Congo — for several days but was captured and killed soon after he chose to leave the compound. “This heinous crime was a culmination of two inter-related assassination plots by American and Belgian governments, which used Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad to carry out the deed,” wrote Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, a specialist on African and Afro-American studies and author of The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History.

Declassified American documents from the time have established Washington’s role in covert assassination plots — the most famous being a CIA plot to poison Lumumba’s toothbrush by smuggling poisoned toothpaste into his bathroom.

“The toothpaste never made it into Lumumba’s bathroom. I threw it in the Congo River,” Larry Devlin, the CIA station chief in Leopoldville, later said.

Not much is publicly known about UK role. But, in 2000, the BBC reported that in the autumn of 1960 — three months before Lumumba was murdered — an MI5 operative in the British embassy in Leopoldville suggested “Lumumba’s removal from the scene by killing him.”

U.S. Amassing B-1 Strategic Bombers near North Korea?

April 7th, 2013 by Global Research News

by David Cenciotti

It seems like Washington has taken Kim Jong Un’s alleged threat seriously.

After moving two Langley’s F-22 Raptor stealth fighters (1) to Osan airbase, in South Korea, launching a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber (2) on a round-trip training mission over a South Korean’s gunnery range from the Continental U.S., and deploying THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system to Guam (3), positioning two guided-missile destroyers in the waters near the Korean peninsula, the Pentagon has decided to strengthen its presence in the region by deploying several B-1 Lancer long range bombers to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

But, for the first time in the last few weeks, the deployment of the “Bones” to the Pacific atoll was not made public (at least, not yet), a fact that could be the sign that the U.S. is not only making symbolic moves (as the above mentioned ones), but it is preparing for the worst scenario: an attack on North Korea.

From his station in Amarillo, Texas, author, investigative journalist, technologies expert Steve Douglass heard something interesting. In a message he sent us on Facebook he said:

“Late last night I monitored “DARK flight of seven” on PRIME (311.000 MHZ STRATCOM PRIMARY) asking for current weather for UAM [airport code for Guam - Andersen Air Force Base]. On the frequency of 251.100 Mhz,DARK flight also was calling for “GASSR 11 and GASSR 12″ (KC-135s)  for “Tanker drag to BAB [Beale AFB, California]“.

“Dark” is the standard radio callsign for the 7th Bomb Wing’s B-1s based at Dyess AFB, near Abilene, Texas.

Even if U.S. bombers routinely deploy to Guam (where at least two B-2s are reportedly already based), the fact that seven “Bones” were apparently moving together is something a bit unusual, even if they were not going to Andersen AFB (they might need the weather report for UAM because it was an alternate airfield or simply a stopover on their way to somewhere else).

Actually, it’s also weird that so many big bombers were flying together (as the “flight of seven” heard by Douglass seems to suggest) since a standard ferry flight of multiple planes would normally see the aircraft move individually. And, another strange thing is that the pilot talked about their destination in the clear: if they wanted it to be secret, they would speak on secure radios.

Nevertheless, this might have been a non-standard deployment; a move ordered hours after U.S. satellites and spyplanes from South Korea and Japan had spotted North Korean missiles being readied for launch.

The deployment is not the only interesting thing Douglass, an unsurpassed expert in the field of military monitoring, has heard lately.

Earlier he had intercepted an interesting communication off a military satellite in which an Ellsworth AFB’s B-1B, callsign “Slam 1″, was training to hit a “missile facility” in Snyder, Texas.

A practice run for a mission in the DPRK with a school bus depot tanding in for the real thing?


American B-1 bomber pilots have reportedly shifted their training programs, focusing on in East Asia, more than Afghanistan and the Middle East. And, above all, any training mission has many similitarities with actual sorties that would be flown against a real enemy in combat.

Anyway, Douglass has recorded an audio snippet of the exercise (available <> ). Based on the coordinates for Snyder, Texas here‘s the target on Google Maps.


You can read more about the military air activity recently monitored by Steve Douglass in an extremely interesting article he posted on his blog (5) that not only summarize the contents of the messages he sent to The Aviationist, but provides some more details about the alleged overseas deployment of E-6 Mercury “doomsday” planes from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

Foundation fellows and diplomats have lauded the overwhelming approval of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by the General Assembly of the United Nations, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon describing it as a means to obstruct the illicit arms flow to warlords, pirates, terrorists, criminals and the like.

Many who have critically monitored the situation in Syria and the ramifications of foreign intervention in Libya may have difficulty swallowing Ban’s words, as some would argue that the UN has itself been complicit in these crises for turning a blind eye to arms and funding going to al-Qaeda-linked rebels in various countries. Twenty-three countries abstained from the vote (representing half the world’s population), including Russia, China, India, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Egypt, while three – Syria, Iran, and North Korea – voted no. Iran’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Gholam-Hossein Dehqani called the treaty a political document disguised as an Arms Trade Treaty, and with highly legitimate reasons for doing so.

 “The right to acquire and import arms for their (importer states’) security needs is subject to the discretionary judgment and extremely subjective assessment of the exporting states. That is why this text is highly abusable and susceptible to politicization, manipulation and discrimination,” said Dehghani, referring to conditions that arms exporting states would be able to impose on importing states.

The pact prohibits the export of conventional arms to countries deemed guilty of violating international human rights laws and committing crimes against humanity – sure, this appears to be ethical and just at first glance, but more careful reflection is required. If we assume that the United Nations makes the call on which states qualify as human rights abusers and which states do not, then Israel would not be hindered from purchasing conventional weapons, but a country like Syria would be barred from purchasing arms to defend itself and its territorial sovereignty.

What makes the treaty not only toothless, but also particularly dangerous, is the fact that it lacks any explicit prohibitions regarding arms proliferation to terrorists and unlawful non-state actors. “Without such provisions, the ATT would in fact lower the bar on obligations of all states not to support terrorists and/or terrorists acts. We cannot allow such a loophole in the ATT,” said Sujata Mehta, India’s lead negotiator for the ATT in a statement. What this means is that NATO and Gulf states that supply arms to opposition groups in Syria will retain the flexibility to continue to do so, while at the same time having a greater say over whether individual importing states can arm themselves in accordance with their legitimate defense and national security interests. There is no doubt that certain states would take advantage of this loophole’s vast potential for misuse.

The treaty does not recognize the rights of all states to acquire, produce, export, import and possess conventional weapons for their own legitimate security purposes. In theory, this treaty gives the United States, the world’s largest arms exporter with heavy sway over the UN, much greater ability to influence whether or not an individual country is allowed to obtain weapons for its own defense. The treaty, in its glaring bias and predictability, completely fails to prohibit the transfer of arms to countries engaged in military aggression against other nations, such as Israel. “Somebody probably wants to have free rein to send arms to anti-government groups in countries ruled by regimes they consider inconvenient… When we started work on the document, the General Assembly set the task of establishing the highest possible international standards in the area of arms transfers. In reality though, the treaty has established minimally acceptable standards,” said Russian treaty negotiator Mikhail Ulyanov in a recent interview.

The treaty applies to the transfer of conventional weapons such as battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, small and light weapons, while the proliferation of UAV drones and other modern military technology is not addressed or scrutinized. While feel-good rhetoric prevails and politicians pat themselves on the back, the United Nations by its own admission concedes that the treaty does not ban or prohibit the export of any type of weapon. It is clear that the countries that rely most on the illicit trafficking of arms to execute their foreign policy objectives have had noticeable influence over the contents of this treaty. The treaty depends on how stringently individual countries implement it, and international arms transfers that involve barter deals or leases are also not scrutinized.

 While many call it a welcomed development and the first step in regulating the $70 billion global conventional arms trade, there is little evidence that it will accomplish anything more than increase the frequency of illicit transfers under different guises and further legitimize the ‘Good Terrorist-Bad Terrorist’ dichotomy – it also contains no language concerning the right to self-determination by people who are under occupation, as is the case in Palestine. The treaty contains some reasonable common-sense measures, such as introducing national systems that monitor arms circulation in countries that lack such systems, but the absence of progressive processes lends credence to accusations that the text is highly industry-friendly and serves to reinforce the status quo.

Most importantly, the treaty pays no focus to actually reducing the sale of arms by limiting global production, which should rightfully be the objective of a treaty that uses global mass causality figures to legitimize itself. According to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, armed violence kills more than half a million people each year, a figure that should rightfully strengthen calls to regulate and decrease global production rather than solely focusing simply on trade. Rather, the treaty institutionalizes and legalizes the arming of good terrorists while denying arms to unfriendly governments. Until the UN can cease being an appendage of a handful of the most powerful arms exporting states, there is little hope that any international arms trade treaty can reduce human suffering and have a meaningful impact on the lives of the most vulnerable in conflict zones around the world and elsewhere.

Nile Bowie is a blogger and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at [email protected] 

When People are Money

April 7th, 2013 by Paul Glover

Twenty years ago I started printing money.  Soon after, residents of Ithaca, New York, began exchanging colorful cash featuring children, waterfalls, trollies and bugs.  Since then, millions of dollars worth of Ithaca HOURS have been traded by thousands of individuals and over 500 businesses.  They’ve purchased everything that dollars do: groceries, fuel, housing, land, health care, and all the fun stuff.

At first, since it was a new idea, many folks were skeptical.  But right off the bat, hundreds of folks eagerly joined the trading list.  They understood the advantages to themselves and to the community.

For example, this extra cash proved powerful by strengthening local businesses, creating jobs, and enlarging sales tax revenue.  Each HOUR is valued at $10/hour, or one hour of basic labor.  Professionals may request multiple HOURS per hour of work, or trade them equitably.

HOURS weren’t intended to replace dollars, but to replace lack of dollars.  Supplemental community money honors skills neglected by the formal economy, stimulating new enterprise and creating new jobs.  There’s more benefit, too. Grants of HOURS have been made to over 100 community groups, and interest-free HOUR loans up to $30,000 were offered.

Yet their greatest benefit has been to introduce residents to one another, helping us become friends, lovers and political allies.  HOURS easily connect people, while dollars often control people.

How do you convert paper into money?  Community currencies, like national banknotes, require constant networking and brokering, to build trust and balance circulation.  So every local currency needs at least one professional networker.  My main work as the HOUR organizer was to invite new skills and businesses into the system, then publish the bimonthly HOUR Town directory, while helping people spend the HOURS they earned.

Why HOURS?  Because HOURS are as steady as the clock, since minutes do not expand or contract.  And everyone has more hours than gold.

Modern times, however, find internet-based trading of local credits popular.  “Time Dollars” are being earned and spent in hundreds of American towns. Hour systems like BitCoin, TimeRepublik and E-Flux trade globally.

For me, though, paper money with local emblems shouts local pride. What’s a nation without a flag, a company without a logo, or local trading without tangible symbols?

Whether community money is paper, electrons or metal, successful issuance requires relentless promotion.  Ithaca HOURS became a household word, thanks to hundreds of national news stories and thousands of local conversations.  HOUR Town published 300 local “success stories” of satisfied traders.  Within five years, nearly everyone understood HOURS and was willing to accept them.  Children assumed that all cities printed money.

Within any large city there’s room for neighborhood cash.  Sector currencies like ArtCash could boost the creative economy; MediCash could grow our clinics; and NegaWatts fund weatherization.

America’s green economy also deserves its own money, dedicated to ecology and social justice.  Such credits can stimulate the less instantly profitable green markets that biggest investors have too long avoided: energy-efficiency and retrofit, urban agriculture, co-op health care, earthship housing and transit.

Putting special money to work, and ourselves as well, invites us to repair civilization.  When we take control of money, We the People become the treasury, and the treasure.

Glover is founder of a dozen organizations and author of six books, including Hometown Money: How to Enrich Your Community with Local Currency.

Definitive Link Confirms Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Transmits from Livestock to Humans

Slaughter Demands Strong Federal Response

Rochester, NY – Today, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25), the only microbiologist in Congress, reacted to a new study that conclusively identified transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from livestock to humans. Currently, MRSA kills more Americans each year than HIV/AIDS.

The groundbreaking study was conducted by genetics researchers who analyzed the genomes of MRSA bacteria from patients and their farm animals, and found the samples to be genetically identical. Published on Tuesday in EMBO Molecular Medicine, the study confirms animal-to-human transmission of MRSA.

In reaction, Slaughter sent a letter to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today calling for immediate action to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock. Read the text of the letter by clicking here.

In sending the letter, Slaughter said, “This study ends any debate. The extreme overuse of antibiotics in livestock is endangering human health.” Slaughter continued, “For decades, the United States Food and Drug Administration has failed to act in the face of a growing threat. These findings make it clearer than ever that their failure is endangering human life. Starting today, the FDA must take strong federal action to reduce antibiotic use in livestock and protect human health.”

To read the results of the study, click here.

These findings come on the heels of public health warnings in the United Kingdom and the United States about the catastrophic threat of antibiotic disease.  Earlier this month, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control, warned that “our strongest antibiotics don’t work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections.”

Slaughter is the author of the HR 1150, the “Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act” (PAMTA).  The legislation is designed to stop the overuse of antibiotics on the farm- a practice that is accelerating the growth of antibiotic-resistance disease.

To view the text of the legislation, click here.

Currently, 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are sold for agricultural use. Most often, these antibiotics are distributed at sub-therapeutic levels to healthy animals as a way to compensate for crowded and unsanitary living conditions or to promote growth. Any effort to stop the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria must address the overuse of antibiotics in food-animals.

PAMTA is supported by 450 organizations, including public health organizations, scientists, the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences and small farmers across the United States.

To learn more about PAMTA, the threat of antibiotic-resistance disease, and the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, click here.

Leia abaixo a segunda parte da entrevista exclusiva de Opera Mundi com o ministro de Comunicação da Venezuela, Ernesto Villegas.

Opera Mundi: Em que estado de ânimo está o povo venezuelano depois da morte do presidente Hugo Chávez?
Ernesto Villegas: Estamos todos muito tristes e tratamos de assimilar uma realidade difícil de aceitar. Um longo processo de dor está percorrendo a Venezuela. Nossos compatriotas, inclusive alguns adversários do presidente, não acreditam que já não está fisicamente entre nós. Estamos em uma espécie de espera de uma eventual volta, de um pronunciamento público de Chávez, de um próximo programa Aló, Presidente. Acostumamos-nos tanto com sua presença ao longo desses últimos 14 anos, nos quais exerceu o poder político, sem falar de sua presença na vida nacional desde 1992, o que torna difícil nos resignarmos diante de sua partida.

Trata-se de uma das pessoas mais destacadas da história venezuelana. Deixou uma marca que não pode ser apagada da vida política de nossa pátria, e por isso, apesar de seu desaparecimento físico, o presidente Hugo Chávez sempre estará presente no futuro e nos acompanhará a construção de uma sociedade que queremos melhor e mais justa. Chávez está em todas as partes, pois nos indicou o caminho a seguir para alcançar a independência plena e definitiva de nossa nação. O projeto emancipador e soberano lançado por Hugo Chávez é um processo em construção que estamos fazendo em todos os cantos da Venezuela. A obra de Chávez é palpável não apenas na realidade material, em sua gestão de governo, mas também no campo subjetivo da esperança. Chávez semeou uma semente de esperança no povo e ela está germinando.


Milhares de venezuelanos se concentram nas ruas de Caracas para acompanhar cortejo fúnebre de Hugo Chávez
OM: As imensas manifestações de dor e de tristeza populares marcaram amplamente o mundo inteiro. Como se explica este fervor nacional em relação a um presidente?

EV: É que perdemos um membro da família, e não é qualquer membro. Perdemos nosso pai, nosso pai político e histórico, o pai desta Revolução, o pai de nossas lutas, mais também nosso pai, do ponto de vista simbólico. Chávez era um membro da família venezuelana, sem dúvida é o mais importante, quem abriu os olhos da comunidade nacional. Por ele se discutiu, por ele se chorou, por ele se riu. Graças a ele a esperança voltou a nascer entre nós. Adultos puderam se alfabetizar, se educar e dispor, por fim, de um status de cidadão ativo na nossa sociedade. Muitos lares venezuelanos, pela primeira vez em sua vida, tiveram acesso à leitura, aos livros, à cultura. Graças a Chávez, nos encontramos de novo com nossa identidade nacional, com nossa autenticidade venezuelana, com nosso Libertador Simón Bolívar e com nossa história bolivariana. Voltamos a descobrir o conceito de pátria e pudemos entender melhor os desafios de nossos tempos. Em uma palavra, Chávez nos permitiu encontrar nosso sonho comum.

OM: O povo venezuelano perdeu então quem deu a voz aos pobres.

EV: Por isso a dor foi tão forte. Sabemos disso e a dor foi muito forte. Soubemos de sua desaparição em 5 de março de 2013 e, no dia seguinte, o povo invadiu as ruas para prestar homenagem ao presidente, acompanhá-lo do Hospital Militar até a Academia Militar e manifestar sua tristeza.

Foi produzido um novo 27 de fevereiro depois do desaparecimento de Chávez, um novo Caracazo, como o de 1989, quando o povo se levantou contra a miséria e as políticas de austeridade. Com uma diferença: desta vez, o povo tinha um objetivo preciso: acompanhar o Comandante Chávez na Academia Militar. Se o 27 de fevereiro de 1989 foi um Caracazo social, o 6 de março de 2013 foi um 27 de fevereiro político.

OM: As manifestações foram impressionantes.
EV: Foram feitas homenagens de modo massivo. Houve famílias inteiras que esperaram horas e dias para ver o presidente Chávez. Uma vez cumprido o ritual, o povo regressou a sua casa. Nas ruas havia centenas de milhares de venezuelanos, e constituem uma força política, social e física extraordinária. Era um vulcão humano, uma maré humana de um poder nunca visto. Em outro contexto, o vigor desta multidão havia devastado tudo em seu caminho. Mas neste caso, precisamente, a marcha foi pacífica graças a Hugo Chávez, pois deixou instruções ao povo.

OM: O senhor se refere ao seu último pronunciamento televisivo de 8 de dezembro de 2012.
EV: Correto. Explicou qual era o caminho a seguir no caso de não sobreviver a sua doença, a essa emboscada que o destinou lhe colocou. Se não tivesse mandado essa mensagem ao povo, quem sabe o que poderia ter acontecido na Venezuela. O poder desta massa humana é capaz de destruir qualquer coisa. O povo poderia ter atacado os meios privados que não deixam de macular e desprezar o presidente Hugo Chávez durante os últimos catorze anos, atacando diretamente a ele e a vontade nacional. No entanto, não aconteceu nada, pois o povo recebeu a mensagem pacífica de Chávez a favor da ordem e da união. Chavéz tomou as medidas necessárias para evitar isso. Esta força está ali, latente, com Hugo Chávez como líder espiritual, mais vivo do que nunca, apesar de seu desaparecimento físico, porque as ideias nunca morrem.

OM: Chávez sempre preferiu a comunicação direta com o povo.

EV: Chávez tinha tanto entusiasmo, que multiplicava as ideias quando seus assessores de comunicação lhe recomendavam que não se expusesse tanto. Em 1999, falávamos dele e pensávamos que corria muitos riscos porque as forças conservadoras opostas ao processo bolivariano eram muito poderosas. Ele, ao contrário, pensava que era preciso expor a integralidade do projeto emancipador do povo. Naquela época, não podia saber que essa terrível doença lhe afetaria. Retrospectivamente, entendemos que acertou e que tinha que revelar isso para toda a nação. Nos deixou milhares de horas de comunicação direta com os venezuelanos e um laço afetivo que não pode ser desfeito com o povo, que fazem parte do legado da Venezuela de hoje.

OM: A figura de Hugo Chávez, militar por formação, apareceu no cenário político nacional em 4 de fevereiro de 1992, depois do levante armado contra o presidente Carlos Andrés Pérez, em um contexto mundial marcado pela derrota das ideias progressistas e da hegemonia do Consenso de Washington.
EV: Com o desmantelamento da União Soviética em 1991, as esquerdas do mundo inteiro se encontravam em plena debandada. Graças a Chávez, muitos militantes de esquerda voltaram a encontrar a via do socialismo. Chávez também sintetizou nossas raízes religiosas, proclamando-se abertamente cristão. Assim, conseguiu a adesão e o fervor dos fiéis e os uniu não apenas com militantes ortodoxos do marxismo-leninismo, mas também aos militares que, em outros tempos e sob outra liderança, haveriam rechaçado a aliança com as categorias contras as quais estiveram em guerra. Chávez foi o elemento que federou. Conseguiu unir as forças políticas, religiosas e ideológicas heterogêneas. Por isso, um conglomerado gigantesco de pessoas distintas, procedentes de horizontes diferentes, se identificou com Chávez.

OM: Mas sua base é sobretudo popular.
EV: Evidentemente, o apoio majoritário a Chávez vem de setores populares que historicamente foram marginalizados, separados e ignorados. Estas categorias, ainda que majoritárias, eram maltratadas, depreciadas, discriminadas, excluídas da sociedade. Encontraram em Chávez uma referência, um representante e defensor de suas aspirações, uma esperança que os tornou visíveis. Chávez estabeleceu um laço especial com o povo. Ele mesmo procede do povo e se levantou em 1992, três anos depois do levante popular de 1989. Houve um diálogo entre as ruas e o quartel, e Chávez era o interlocutor do quartel e acabou se fundindo com as ruas. Tornou-se assim o líder o quartel e das ruas, dos militares progressistas bolivarianos e do povo.

OM: Que legado deixou para o povo venezolano e para o mundo?
EV: Chávez colocou o ser humano no centro de nosso projeto bolivariano, particularmente nas categorias mais desfavorecidas. Devolveu ao povo o sentimento de orgulho e dignidade nacional. Uniu no mesmo corpo o povo e a força armada. Chávez mudou completamente as relações internacionais e teceu laços sólidos com muitos países do mundo. Trinta e três mandatários e 57 delegações participaram da cerimônia fúnebre do Presidente. Chávez teceu laços não apenas comerciais com essas nações, mas também uniu os povos e inclusive estabeleceu relações muito pessoais com os dirigentes desses países. Chávez estabeleceu um novo paradigma nas relações internacionais. Na Venezuela, nos acostumamos com a tecnocracia diplomática que supunha que a chancelaria se encarregava das relações com o resto do mundo, quanto era apenas uma extensão do poder presidencial. Chávez, ao contrario, desenvolveu laços muito pessoais com chefes de Estado, o que lhe permitiu ter excelentes vínculos com  dirigentes tanto de direita como de esquerda. Fez com que as diferenças ideológicas não fossem um obstáculo para as relações, como é o caso com a Colômbia ou com o Chile, que têm escolhido orientações políticas diferentes das nossas. Chávez também teve boas relações com governo europeus que não compartilham de sua visão de mundo.

Salim Lamrani

Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos da Universidade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor titular da Universidad de la Réunion e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro se intitula The Economic War Against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2013, com um prólogo de Wayne S. Smith e um prefácio de Paul Estrade.
Contato: [email protected] ; [email protected]
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Syria’s proven oil reserves, amounting to 2.5 billion barrels, are greater than those of all neighboring countries except Iraq: according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s estimation of its oil reserves. This makes Syria one of the largest producers and exporters of crude oil in the Middle East.

The country also has large reserves of natural gas, hitherto used for domestic consumption, especially for conversion to gas-fired power plants. But there is a problem, the U.S agency reported that since 1964 the license for the exploration and exploitation of mineral deposits has been reserved for Syrian government agencies. Until 201O an annual income of more than $ 4 billion was procured from the export of oil, particularly to Europe. But things are changing with the war.

The ‘”Free Syrian Army” has taken control of important oil fields in Deir Ezzor. Other fields, in the Rumeilan, are controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, who are also hostile to the “rebels” with whom they have repeatedly clashed.

The U.S. / NATO strategy focuses on helping rebels to seize the oil fields with a twofold purpose: to deprive the Syrian state of revenue from exports, already strongly decreased as a result of the EU embargo, and to ensure that the largest deposits pass in the future, through the “rebels” under the control of the big Western oil companies.

Fundamental to this end, is the control of the internal pipelines. This has been sabotaged by the “rebels” in several places, especially near Homs where there is one of two refineries in the country, to stop the supply of petroleum products. But there is something strategically more important at stake: Syria’s role as a hub of alternative energy corridors, through Turkey and other pathways, controlled by the U.S. and the European Union.

The “war of pipelines” has begun: during its invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States destroyed the Kirkuk-Banias pipeline carrying Iraqi oil to Syria. It remained in use, however, between Ain Zalah and Suweidiva.

Subsequently, in defiance of the prohibitions of Washington, Damascus and Baghdad have undertaken the project for two pipelines and a gas pipeline through Syria, connecting Iraqi fields to the Mediterranean and then to international markets.

Even more dangerous for Western interests is the agreement signed in May 2011 between Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran: it involves the construction of a gas pipeline through Iraq, which will transport Iranian natural gas to Syria and from there to foreign markets. These and other already funded projects, have been blocked by what the U.S. agency defines as “the uncertain security situation in Syria»

First published in Il Manifesto. Translated from the Italian by Gearóid Ó Colmáin

A  Global Research article  by Sarah Carlson (originally published by Liberation) entitled “American Dream”: Food loaded into Dumpsters while Hundreds of Hungry Americans Restrained by Police (April 05, 2013), brings to the forefront the pernicious role of  America’s “Too Big to Fail Too Big to Jail” mega-banks.

“Hundreds of poor people waiting outside of a closed grocery store for the possibility of getting the remaining food is not the picture of the “American Dream.” Yet on March 23, outside the Laney Walker Supermarket in Augusta, Ga., that is exactly what happened.”

The grocery store in Augusta, Georgia is one among  thousands of small businesses across the Southern States which are routinely speared-headed into bankruptcy.

SunTrust Bank had ordered the eviction of the owner and the confiscation of all the assets.

While “residents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables” SunTrust  had ordered that all the food “be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed.”

“People got children out here that are hungry, thirsty,” local resident Robertstine Lambert told Fox54 in Augusta. “Why throw it away when you could be issuing it out?”

Throwing away food recalls the words of John Steinbeck, in The Grapes of Wrath (1939):

“There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. …. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates—died of malnutrition—because the food must rot, must be forced to rot … and in the eyes of the people there is a failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.” (See Occupy Wall Street, Georgia)

Augusta Chronicle. Residents and local police

SunTrust Bank: Financial Abuse

SunTrust bank is a subsidiary of Suntrust Bank Inc.  It is among the largest banks in the US with assets in excess of US$170 billion. It operates more than 1600 bank branches across the Southern states.

What SunTrust has inflicted on the residents of Augusta, Georgia is part of a broader pattern of abuse and financial manipulation.

SunTrust was among the main financial actors involved in the Housing and Mortgage meltdown which swept across the US at the height of the financial crisis.

Based on recent data, SunTrust continues to trigger foreclosures and bankruptcies of small and medium sized enterprises.

SunTrust is among the ten top banks currently foreclosing the most homes in the US together with Bank America,  JPMorgan Chase, New York Mellon and Citigroup.

 “More than 6,000 loans serviced by SunTrust Banks Inc. (NYSE: STI) were in foreclosure as of February [2013]. Like most U.S. banks, SunTrust has been embroiled in controversy over its lending and foreclosure practices in recent years. SunTrust was one of five major lenders that in November agreed to pay a combined $162 million to settle complaints that it charged improper fees on home finance loans for veterans. Earlier in 2012, the bank agreed to pay $21 million to settle allegations that it overcharged more than 20,000 Hispanic and African American borrowers between 2005 and 2009.”, March 12, 2013 

 Thousands of households which had mortgages with SunTrust continue to lose their homes as a result of the bank’s foreclosure procedures.

These families have been precipitated into poverty. Many of the hungry people in America referred to in Sarah Carlson’s article had mortgages with SunTrust, and lost their homes during the foreclosure crisis.

The Record of Paperwork Manipulation

The practices of SunTrust Mortgage (an affiliate of SunTrust) are well documented in complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. Comments by SunTrust customers pertaining to Mortgages recorded on the Consumer Affairs website  point to a practice of paperwork manipulation:

“Good luck to all who have to deal with this nightmare of a bank!”

“They should be charged with some criminal fraud for misrepresentation.”

We did everything the right way and have only gotten 14 months of lies and running in circles.

What they are doing should be against the law. They just play with your emotions!

A selection of comments from Consumer Affairs is included below:

Kimberly of Lansdale, PA on March 22, 2013

I share the same horror stories as everyone else regarding this mortgage company[ SunTrust]! My situation consisted of falling behind on my mortgage. Customer service’s answer to me was to sell my home if I can’t afford to live there. Helpful? No. I was put into a forbearance payment plan that started out only being a 3-month thing that I was told I had to prove that I made my payments in order to get approved. This lasted 16 months. The payments started out small that eventually went up to my original mortgage payment I couldn’t afford to begin with. Then after calling every week for almost a year and getting different answers every time I called, I decided to put my house on the market. I had a buyer who was approved for his loan and Suntrust wouldn’t take his offer which was only $25,000 less than what I owed on mortgage to complete this short sale.

While house still listed, my realtor took someone to show the house and locks had been changed on my doors. No one contacted my realtor knowing the house was up for short sale. Oh, it gets better. My house has been in my name for 4 years just sitting there empty! This house has been in foreclosure for 4 years and they just keep trying to dig deeper to destroy my life and credit! Oh, trust me when I tell you this is war! I am not going to let these non-educated people get away with this. How could you run a mortgage company with people who don’t have any knowledge of mortgages?

Good luck to all who have to deal with this nightmare of a bank!

David of Galesburg, IL on March 4, 2013

I have great credit and with low interest mortgage rates, and I decided to refinance my mortgage. Suntrust currently holds it, so I thought it would be faster to refi through them. Current interest rate is 5.375 and I can refi for 15 years at 3.1 annual, thus having the same payment for 15 years versus the 27 years that I have now. I started the refi November 2012. Every time I turn around, they are claiming they need a different document. Some documents have been submitted at least twice, and most recently they want a copy of my schedule E from my 2011 taxes. They claimed they could not read the one faxed months ago.

They are continuously playing around, costing me money and a lot of equity. Is this criminal? Any class action lawsuits for this? Anyone have any ideas? Thanks.

Kathy of West Allis, WI on Feb. 4, 2013

Suntrust has held my mortgage for my 2nd house for years and when my husband passed 3 years ago, I have been trying to do these: 1) refinance; 2) have my real estate taxes paid in the same year they were due and; 3) have his name removed from the title. What I have gotten so far is a complete runaround. I have been working with a David ** and he is useless in helping me. After 8 months of trying to refinance and sending 5 separate copies of my husband’s death certificate and past income taxes because they did not have them or different people needed them, they kept telling me we would close in Oct., then Nov., then middle of Jan. and now they say they could not complete the refi unless I had another signer on the note.

They did this after I had someone send a check in because I do not use checks anymore and they wanted to see 12 consecutive payments from my account. After I told them what happened, they did not care. The Real Estate taxes have been paid the year after the taxes were due and all I got for a response was “We have until the 31st of Jan. to get them paid.” This year, they are not paid yet and it is Feb 4. David ** says it is customer service; customer service says they can’t release them due to the refi. bla, bla, bla…. To have my husband’s named removed, they want me to send another copy of his death certificate to someone else. When I tell them they have it and for them to just call David **, they say they cannot do that.

This company stinks and anyone who chooses to use them is in for a big disappointment.  They should be charged with some criminal fraud for misrepresentation.

Jerry of Eggharbor Twp, NJ on Feb. 19, 2013

Please help. My mom and I have been dealing with this drama and lies from Suntrust Mortgage for over 9 months. They always have an excuse why they should not approve the modification! We own an investment property that my brother Dave lives in. Recently he had 2 friends move out and they could not afford the whole payment. So my mom has given him money for over a year to stay current, but then she depleted all the money trying to keep up with the loan! First, Suntrust (who is the second mortgage company) said if Chase, your first mortgage company, modifies your loan, then they would match the interest rate. So after 4 months, Chase modified the loan from 7 to 4.3% so we then sent the final paperwork after we paid the first 3 months of trial payments!

We got the loan modification’s final paperwork. This was the last thing Suntrust needed. They said from 13% interest rate, they would match the first mortgage at 4.3%! We sent all the paper, then they kept on denying the modification. Yesterday they called us and said they could settle for less and we could get rid or the second mortgage! We are scared from reading all this stuff that the government is allowing Suntrust to do this to us American citizens! Suntrust has taken $70,000 in interest from the $80K loan we started with and now we still owe $80K 7 years later. Now they said they will transfer the loan if we don’t send them cash to settle.

Please help. We are afraid that they will steal my mom’s money and the money she is borrowing from her sister to help pay! They need money by Feb. 25. What should we do? Please help our family. My dad just had a cancer tumor taken out of his brain 2 months ago. We have so much stress and no conclusion or help. I can’t believe the government allows Suntrust, Nationstar and Aurora Bank do this to people. This is not fair. Please call me. We are in need of the government’s help. My dad is doing radiation, losing all of his hair and afraid we will lose all our money! Please help. We live in New Jersey! Please help!

dianna of Florida, FL on Feb. 1, 2013

We have been working with Suntrust since May 2012. We thought they were working with us, only to find out that they were only playing games with us to buy them time to foreclose. We got contracts at the price that they requested, and each time we got their price they would drag their feet and not respond to our attorney. After our first contact fell through, after the potential buyer waited for 10 months, they raised the contract. We have since gotten 2 other contracts. We lost the first one, the second one walked, and now the third is ready to walk. In the meantime, Suntrust has never been interested in working with us. What they were doing was jerking us around, and then they filed foreclosure papers on us. Now we have to scramble to hire a foreclosure attorney on top of the money we have already spent on our short sale attorney. We did everything the right way and have only gotten 14 months of lies and running in circles. What they are doing should be against the law. They just play with your emotions!

 To read more than 180 complaints directed against SunTrust click here

Será a fiança [Bail-In] *  do Banco de Chipre um ensaio geral do que estará para vir?

Será a conceptualização que fazem do “Grande Roubo das Poupanças” na União Européia e na América do Norte capaz de resultar numa direta e franca confiscação de depósitos bancários?

Em Chipre o sistema geral de pagamentos já foi perturbado levando a ruína da economia real.

As aposentadorias e os salários não estão mais sendo pagos. O poder de compras está em colápso.

A população está empobrecida.

Pequenas e médias empresas estão sendo lançadas à falência.

Chipre é um país com uma população de um milhão de habitantes.

O que aconteceria se proceduras semelhantes fossem aplicadas aos Estados Unidos e a União Européia?

De acordo com o Institute of International Finance (IIF) que é baseado em Washington e que representa o consenso do estabelecimento financeiro global, “a abordagem de Chipre em atacando os depositantes credores quando bancos fracassam, irá provavelmente tornar-se num modelo para outros países da Europa”. (Economic Times, 27 de março de 2013).

Deveria entender-se que antes mesmo das investidas em Chipre, a confiscação de depósitos bancários estava sendo considerada em vários países. Além disso, a crise bancária de Chipre foi engatilhada pelos poderosos atores financeiros, os quais também foram os arquitetos das devastadoras medidas de austeridade que foram impostas na União Européia e na América do Norte.

É Chipre um “modelo” ou um cenário?

Há aqui “lições a serem aprendidas” pelos poderosos atores financeiros, lições essas a serem aplicadas numa ocasião futura no panorama bancário da zona euro?

De acordo com o Instituto Internacional de Finanças (IIF) “os ataques aos depósitos bancários” poderia tornar-se na “nova normalidade” desse diabólico projeto que serve os interesses econômicos dos conglomerados financeiros globais.

Essa nova normalidade é endossada pela FMI, Fundo Monetário Internacional, e pelo Banco Central Europeu. De acordo com o IIF, o qual é o porta-voz das elites bancárias, “Investidores deveriam ser bem aconselhados a verem os resultados de Chipre … como um reflexo de como futuras  situações de tensão serão tratadas”. (citado em Economic Times, 27 de março de 2013)

“Limpeza financeira”. Fianças nos Estados Unidos e Grã-Bretanha

O que está em jogo é um processo de “limpeza financeira” através da qual alguns bancos da Europa e da América do Norte ( “bancos muito grandes para falirem”) ou seja, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, e outros)  deslocam e destroem instituições financeiras menores com o objetivo de apossar-se de todo o “campo financeiro” no final do processo.

A tendência implícita nas bases dos níveis nacionais e globais vai na direção da centralização e da concentração do poder bancário o que leva, ao mesmo tempo, a uma dramática depressão da economia real.

A idéia de fianças bancárias tem sido conjecturada  como uma possibilidade em numerosos países. Na Nova Zelândia um “plano de encurtamento de rédeas” foi representado tão cedo como em 1997, o que coincidiu com a crise financeira da Ásia.

Há cláusulas e condições tanto no Reino Unido como nos Estados Unidos  para uma confiscação de depósitos bancários. Num documento conjunto intitulado “Resolvendo Activos Globais: Instituições Financeiras Sistemicamente Importantes” [1]  da Sociedade Federal de Depósitos e Seguros (FDIC)  e do Banco da Inglaterra, proceduras explícitas foram apresentadas através das quais “os credores originais da companhia em falta” (significando os depósitos dos clientes de um banco a falir) seriam convertidos em “equidade” (equity). (See Ellen Brown, It Can Happen Here: The Bank Confiscation Scheme for US and UK Depositors,Global Research, March 2013) [2]

O que isso significa é que o dinheiro confiscado das contas bancárias seria usado para cumprir as obrigações financeiras do banco. Em retorno os titulares dos depósitos bancários confiscados iriam tornar-se em titulares de ações e valores nessa instituição financeira, o banco, a beira da falência.

Poupanças em contas bancárias seriam tranformadas da noite para o dia num conceito ilusório de propriedade de capital. A confiscação das poupanças seria adoptada abaixo do disfarce de uma falsa “compensação” em termos de uma equidade (equity).

O que se tem em mente é a aplicação de um processo seletivo de confiscação de depósitos bancários com vistas tanto em arrecadar dinheiro para as dívidas, como também para engatilhar a desturição de instituições financeiras mais fracas. Nos Estados Unidos, essa procedura iria proceder por um caminho lateral desviando-se das cláusulas da Sociedade Federal de Depósitos e Seguros (FDIC), que asseguram o dinheiro dos depositantes contra malogros bancários:

Nenhuma excepção é indicada para qualquer “depósito assegurado” nos Estados Unidos, significando aqueles abaixo de $ 250.000, os depósitos que pensávamos estivessem protegidos pelo seguro da FDIC. Isso não é resultado de uma inadvertência ou esquecimento, uma vez que é o próprio FDIC que estabelece as diretivas. O FDIC é uma companhia de seguros financiada por prêmios pagos pelos bancos particulares. A diretiva é denominada como um “processo de resoluções”, definido em outra parte como um plano que “deveria ser engatilhado no evento de falha ou malogro de um segurado ….” A única menção a “depósitos assegurados” é feita em conexão com uma existente legislação do Reino Unido, sobre as quais as diretivas do FDIC-BOE dizem que esses seriam seguros inadequados, implicando que os mesmos precisavam de ser modificados, ou supervisionados. (Ibid)

Uma vez que os depositantes foram providos com uma falsa compensação [ou seja, pela tal “equidade” numa entidade a falir] eles não seriam eligíveis para receber nenhum seguro sobre depósitos bancários através do FDIC.

Proposta de confiscação de depósitos no Canadá

A mais franca declaração de confiscação de depósitos bancários como um meio de “salvar os bancos” foi formulada num documento recentemente apresentado pelo governo do Canadá intitulado “Trabalho, Crescimento e Prosperidade a Longo Prazo: Plano de Ação Econômica 2013”.  [3]

Esse plano foi submetido a Câmara dos Comuns do Canadá pelo Ministro das Finanças Jim Flaherty, em 21 de março como parte da chamada proposta “pre-orçamentária”.

Uma pequena secção do 400-relatório entitulado “Perspectiva para Gerenciamento de Riscos de Bancos Nacionais Sistemicamente  Importantes”  [4]  identificava proceduras de fianças para os bancos do Canadá. A palavra confiscação não foi mencionada. Jargões financeiros serviram para obscurecer o intento real que essencialmente consistia em roubar as poupanças das pessoas.

Abaixo do projeto de “Gerenciamento de Riscos” do Canadá:

O governo propõe a implementação do regime de fiança a bancos sistemicamente importantes  [bancos ou instituições financeiras os quais em caso de falência poderiam levar a uma crise financeira]

O regime deverá ser projetado de maneira que assegure, no evento pouco provável de que um banco sistemicamente importante esgote seu capital, que esse banco possa ser recapitalizado e retornado a capacidade de crescimneto através de uma rápida conversão de certas desvantagens a um capital regulatório.”

Isso irá reduzir riscos para os pagadores de impostos. O governo irá consultar os titulares em como melhor poder implementar um regime de fianças no Canadá.

O que isso significa é que se um ou mais bancos (ou uniões de crédito) forem obrigados a “sistemicamente esgotar seu capital” para fazer frente as exigências dos seus credores, os bancos poderiam ser recapitalizados através “da conversão de certas desvantagens bancárias em capital regulatório.”

Essas “certas desvantagens bancárias” relatam-se (no jargão técnico) ao dinheiro que os bancos devem aos clientes, ou seja, o dinheiro dos depósitos dos clientes. O que está sendo estipulado é que as contas bancárias dos clientes sejam confiscadas em troca de ações, participações ou quotas, num banco “a caminho da falência”.

Que “isso pudesse reduzir riscos para os pagadores de impostos” é uma afirmação sem sentido lógico. O que isso realmente significa é que o governo não irá prover fundos para compensar os depositantes  vítimas de uma instituição bancária a caminho da falência, assim como não irão salvar a instituição a caminho da falência.

Os depositantes serão obrigados a abrir man de suas poupanças. O dinheiro confiscado será usado pelo banco para enfrentar suas obrigações contratadas com importantes instituições financeiras credoras. Em outras palavras, todo esse arranjo é uma “rede de segurança” para os bancos muito grandes para ir a falência. É um mecanismo que permite esses “muito grandes para falirem” a agirem por seu turno como credores e obscurecer instituições bancárias menores, incluindo uniões de crédito, o que  precipita o colápso e a tomada direta de posse de instituições menores.

Panorama Financeiro do Canadá

Gerenciamento de Riscos através de fianças, o qual encontra-se em estado inicial, é de uma importância crucial para canadenses através de todo o país: uma vez adoptada na Câmara dos Comuns como parte de um pacote orçamentário, as proceduras de fianças através da confiscação dos depósitos nas contas bancárias poderão começar.

O governo conservativo tem uma maioria no parlamento. Há uma boa probabilidade de que o Plano de Ação Econômica 2013 [5], o qual inclui a procedura das fianças, seja adoptado.

O relatório de Gerenciamento de Riscos do Canadá dá a entender que bancos “estariam em perigo”, especialmente aqueles que tivessem acumulado grandes dívidas (como resuldado de perdas por causa de transações de derivativos),  mas que uma generalizada aplicação de “Fiança”  não era contemplada.

O cenário mais provável dentro de um futuro próximo seria de que os “cinco maiores”  bancos, ou seja,  Royal Bank of Canadá, TD Canadá Trust, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal and CIBC , todos tendo filiais operando no campo financeiro dos Estados Unidos, iriam consolidar suas posições a custo de menores bancos e instituições financeiras atuando em um nível local ou regional.

O documento governamental afirmava que a fiança poderia ser usada seletivamente  “no pouco provável evento de que algum (banco) se tornasse fraco demais.” O que isso sugere é que pelo menos um dos “menores bancos” do Canadá poderia vir a ser o sujeito de uma fiança. Uma tal procedura iria inevitávelmente  levar a  uma concentração maior de banco-capital no Canadá, em benefício de maiores conglomerados financeiros.

Deslocamentos de uniões de crédito e bancos cooperativos ao nível regional

Há uma importante rede de mais de 300 uniões de crédito e bancos cooperativos ao nível local e regional incluindo a poderosa rede Desjardins no Quebec, o Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity) e o Coastal Capital Savings na British Columbia, Servus em Alberta, Meridian em Ontario, as caisses populaires –caixas populares em Ontario (afiliada ao Desjardins), entre muitos outros, que poderiam ser alvos para operações de “fianças” seletivas.

Nesse contexto, o mais provável é um significante enfraquecimento das instituições financeiras cooperativas do nível local e regional que tenham uma relação mútua com os seus membros quanto a autoridade de gerenciamento (o que inclui conselhos representativos),  os quais atualmente oferecem uma alternativa aos Big Five – os cinco maiores bancos do Canadá. De acordo com dados recentes, existem mais de 300 uniões de crédito e caixas populares no Canada os quais são membros da Central União de Crédito do Canadá – “Credit Union Central of Canada”.

Nova normalidade: padrões internacionais dirigindo a confiscação de depósitos bancários

O Plano de Ação Econômica 2013 do Canadá reconhece que a proposta de fianças “seria consistente com reformas em outros países e padrões internacionais chave”.  O proposto padrão de confiscação de depósitos bancários, como descrito no documento do governo canadense, é consistente com o modelo contemplado nos Estados Unidos e na União Européia. Esse modelo está correntemente a ser debatido, atrás de portas fechadas, em vários locais internacionais regrupando gerenciamentos de bancos centrais i ministros de finanças.

A agência regulatória envolvida nessas consultações multilaterais é a Financial Stability Board (FSB)- (Conselho de Administração de Estabilidade Financeira)- baseado em Bazel, Suiça, acomodada pelo Bank for International Settlements (BIS)- (Banco para Convênios Internacionais). O FSB é oportunamente presidenciado pelo gerente do Banco do Canadá, Mark Carney, que foi recentemente nomeado pelo governo britânico para dirigir o Banco da Inglaterra,  a começar em junho de 2013.

Mark Carney como Gerente do Banco do Canadá foi instrumental quanto a dar forma as cláusulas e condições para fianças dos bancos canadenses. Antes da sua carreira em bancos centrais ele foi um executivo superior da Goldman Sachs, e fez um papel de bastidores na implementação dos resgates [bailouts] dos bancos, e das medidas de austeridde da União Européia.

O mandato da FSB seria o de coordenar as proceduras de fianças, em contato com as “autoridade financeiras nacionais” e o “corpo internacional de definições de padrões” o que inclui o FMI e BIS [Fundo Monetário Internacional e Banco Internacional de Convênios].   Já não deveria vir como uma surpresa: a procedura de confiscação de depósitos bancários no Reino Unido e no Canadá, examinados acima, são extraordinariamente similares.

Fianças vs Resgates de bancos – Bank “Bail-Ins vs Bank “Bail-outs”

Os resgates-bailouts são “pacotes de socorro” através dos quais o governo coloca uma porção significante das rendas do estado a favor de instituições financeiras a caminho da falência. O dinheiro é canalizado dos cofres do estado para os conglomerados bancários.

Nos Estados Unidos em 2008-2009, um total de $1.45 trilhões foram canalizados para as instituições financeiras da Wall Street como parte dos pacotes de socorro de Bush e de Obama.

Esses resgates [bailouts] foram considerados como, de facto, uma categoria de despesas governamentais. Isso requereu a implementação de medidas de austeridade. Conjuntamente com uma massiva entrada nos gastos militares, os resgates foram financiados através de cortes drásticos nos programs sociais  incluindo os cortes na área da saúde, Medicare e Medicaid [Cuidado e Ajuda Médica],  assim como na área da Segurança Social.

Em contraste a esses regates [Bail-outs] que foram financiados pelo bolso público, a fiança [Bail-in] requereu a confiscação dos depósitos bancários. As fianças então são implementadas sem o uso de fundos públicos. O mecanismo regulatório é estabelecido pelo Banco Central.

No princípio do primeiro termo de Obama em janeiro de 2009 um resgate bancário no valor de $ 750 bilhões foi anunciado por Obama o qual foi adir-se ao resgate de 700 bilhões de dolares destinados pela administração Bush, em curso de saída, abaixo do  Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) –(Programa de Ajuda para Activos em Perigo).

O total para os dois programas foi uma soma vertiginosa de 1.45 trilhões de dólares financiados pelo Tesouro dos Estados Unidos. Deveria entender-se então que a quantia da “ajuda” financeira, de dinheiro em espécie aos bancos foi muito maior do que $ 1.45 trilhões. Além disso a quantia dirigido para a defesa, para dar fundos a economia de guerra de Obama,  foi de outros vertiginosos $ 739 bilhões (FY 2010).  Conjuntamente então os resgates dos bancos e a defesa ($2189) engolem quase que a totalidade dos rendimentos federais, que de acordo com o FY 2010 era de $2381 bilhões.

Comentários em concluindo

O que está ocorrendo é que o resgate aos bancos já não é mais funcional. Já no começo do segundo termo de Obama os cofres do estado apresentavam-se vazios. As medidas de austeridade chegaram a um ponto de impasse.

Agora contempla-se “a fiança”, em vez do “resgate aos bancos”.

Os grupos de rendas baixas e médias, que invariávelmente apresentam-se endividadas, não serão o alvo principal, dessa vez. A usurpação dos depósitos bancários irá essencialmente mirar a classe média alta, e os grupos de altas rendas que tenham depósitos bancários significantes.  Os depósitos bancários de pequenas e médias empresas virão a ser um segundo alvo a ser contemplado.

Essa transição faz parte da evolução da crise global, e do impasse nas bases das medidas de austeridade.

O objetivo dos atores financeiros globais é o de liquidar competidores, de consolidar e centralizar poder bancário, e de exercer um controle mais abrangente sobre a economia real, as instituições governamentais e os militares.

Mesmo se as fianças viessem a ser reguladas e aplicadas seletivamente a um limitado número de instituições financeiras, uniões de crédito e outras a falir, a comunicação oficial de um programa de confiscação de depósitos poderia potencialmente levar a uma “corrida aos bancos”. Nesse contexto nenhuma instituição bancáraia iria ser vista como segura.

A aplicação de proceduras de fiança envolvendo uma confiscação de depósitos (mesmo quando aplicadas local e seletivamente) iriam criar estragos e saqueamentos. Isso iria interromper os processos de pagamentos. Salários não seriam mais pagos. O poder de compra iria entrar em colápso. Não haveria dinheiro para investimentos em plantas e equipamentos. Pequenas e médias empresas seriam precipitadas a falência.

A aplicação de um sistema de fianças na União Européia ou na América do Norte iria iniciar uma nova fase da crise financeira global, um aprofundamento da depressão, uma maior centralização bancária e financeira e um aumento da concentração do poder das corporações na economia real em detrimento dos empreendimentos nos níveis locais e regionais.

Uma inteira rede bancária global, caracterizada por transações eletrônicas (que governa depósitos, retiradas, etc), -para nem se mencionar transações de dinheiro em mercados de ações e comodidades- poderia potencialmente vir a ser o objeto de significantes interrupções de natureza sistêmica.

As consequências sociais seriam devastadoras. A economia real iria entrar em alta tempo em uma queda direta vinda como resultado do colápso do sistema de pagamentos.

Uma potencial interrupção no funcionamento do sistema monetário globalmente integrado poderia resultar num recomeçar de uma disolução da economia global, assim como numa paralisia do comércio internacional.

É importante e necessário que as pessoas através do país, na União Européia e na América do Norte, nacional e internacionalmente, ajam decididamente contra os estratagemas diabólicos de seus governos –agindo em nome de interesses financeiros dominantes- para implementar um processo selectivo de confiscação de depósitos bancários.

Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, 2 de abril de 2013

 Tradução Anna Malm

Referências e Notas:

*[Bail-In no original, significando confiscação de depósitos bancários foi traduzido como fiança. Bail-outs, significando socorro aos bancos através de dinheiro vindo de impostos foi traduzido como resgate.]


[1] Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions

[2] (See Ellen Brown, It Can Happen Here: The Bank Confiscation Scheme for US and UK Depositors,Global Research, March 2013)

[3] Jobs, Growth and Long Term Prosperity: Economic Action Plan 2013″. 


[4] “Risk Management Framework for Domestic Systemically Important Banks”

[5] Economic Action Plan 2013

¿Qué está ocurriendo entre Estados Unidos y Corea del Norte que esta semana ha generado titulares como “Aumenta las tensiones de corea” y “Corea del Norte amenaza a Estados Unidos”?

The New York Times informaba el 30 de marzo:

“Esta semana el joven dirigente de Corea del Norte, Kim Jung-un, ordenó a sus subordinados prepararse para un ataque con misiles a Estados Unidos. Se mostró en un centro de mando frente a un mapa colgado en la pared con el atrevido e improbable titulo de “Planes para atacar el territorio de Estados Unidos”. Unos días antes sus generales se jactaron de haber desarrollado una ojiva nuclear “estilo coreano” que podía encajar en un misil de largo alcance”.

Estados Unidos sabe bien que las declaraciones de Corea del Norte no están respaldadas por un poder militar suficiente para implementar sus amenazas retóricas, pero la tensión parece estar aumentando de todos modo. ¿Qué está ocurriendo? Tengo que retroceder un poco en el tiempo para explicar la situación.

Desde el final de la Guerra de Corea hace 60 años el gobierno de la República Popular Democrática de Corea del Norte (RPDCN o Corea del Norte) ha hecho repetidas veces prácticamente las mismas cuatro propuestas a Estados Unidos. Estas son:

1. Un tratado de paz para poner fin a la Guerra de Corea.

2. La reunificación de Corea, “temporalmente” dividida en Norte y Sur desde 1945.

3. El final de la ocupación estadounidense de Corea del Sur y la suspensión de los simulacros de combate anuales de un mes de duración entre Estados Unidos y Corea del Norte.

4. Negociaciones bilaterales entre Washington y Pyongyang para acabar con las tensiones en la Península de Corea.

A lo largo de los años Estados Unidos y su protectorado surcoreano han rechazado cada una de las propuestas. A consecuencia de ello la península ha sido extremadamente inestable desde la década de 1950. Ahora se ha llegado al punto en que Washington ha utilizado sus simulacros de guerra anuales, que empezaron a principios de marzo, para organizar un simulacro de ataque nuclear a Corea del Norte haciendo volar dos bombarderos B-2 Stealth con capacidad nuclear sobre la región el día 28 de marzo. Tres días después la Casa Blanca envió a Corea del Sur aviones de combate no detectables F-22 Raptor, con lo que la tensión aumentó aún más.

Veamos qué hay detrás de estas cuatro propuestas:

1. Estados Unidos se niega a firmar un tratado de paz para poner fin a la Guerra de Corea. Solo ha accedido a un armisticio, que es un cese temporal del combate por consentimiento mutuo. Se suponía que el armisticio firmado el 27 de julio de 1953 se iba a transformar en un tratado de paz cuando “se lograra un acuerdo pacífico final”. La falta de un tratado significa que la guerra puede volver a empezar en cualquier momento. Corea del Norte no quiere una guerra con Estados Unidos, el Estado con más poder militar de la historia. Quiere un tratado de paz.

2. Las dos Coreas existen a consecuencia de un acuerdo entre la Unión Soviética (que hace frontera con Corea y durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial ayudó a liberar de Japón a la parte norte del país) y Estados Unidos, que ocupó la mitad sur. Aunque el socialismo prevalecía en el norte y el capitalismo en el sur, la división no iba a ser permanente. Las dos grandes potencias se iban a retirar al cabo de un par de años y permitir que el país se reunificara. Rusia lo hizo; Estados Unidos, no. Llegó entonces la devastadora guerra de tres años en 1950. Desde esa fecha Corea del Norte ha hecho varias propuestas diferentes para acabar con la separación que dura desde 1945. Creo que la más reciente es “un país, dos sistemas”. Eso significa que aunque se unan ambas partes, el sur sigue siendo capitalista y el norte socialista. Será difícil, pero no imposible. Washington no lo quiere. Trata de conseguir toda la península para llevar su paraguas militar directamente a la frontera con China y también con Rusia.

3. Desde el final de la guerra Washington ha mantenido entre 25.000 y más de 40.000 soldados en Corea del Sur. Junto con las flotas, bases de bombarderos nucleares e instalaciones de tropas estadounidenses muy cerca de la península, estos soldados siguen siendo un recordatorio de dos cosas. Una es que “podemos aplastar al norte” y la otra es “Corea del Sur nos pertenece”. Pyongyang lo ve de esta manera (y mucho más desde que el presidente Obama decidió “pivotar” hacia Asia). Aunque este giro contienen aspectos económicos y comerciales, su principal propósito es aumentar el ya considerable poder militar en la región para intensificar su amenaza a China y a Corea del Norte.

4. La Guerra de Corea fue básicamente un conflicto entre la República Popular Democrática de Corea del Norte y Estados Unidos. Es decir, aunque varios países de las Naciones Unidas lucharon en la guerra, Estados Unidos se hizo cargo de la guerra, dominó la lucha contra Corea del Norte y fue responsable de la muerte de millones de coreanos al norte de la línea divisoria del paralelo 38. Es completamente lógico que Pyongyang trate de negociar directamente con Washington para resolver las diferencias y lograr un acuerdo pacífico que lleve a un tratado. Estados Unidos se ha negado sistemáticamente a ello.

Estos cuatro puntos no son nuevos. Se plantearon en la década de 1950. En la década de 1970 visité en tres ocasiones la República Popular Democrática de Corea del Norte, un total de ocho semanas, como periodista del periódico estadounidense The Guardian. Una y otra vez en las discusiones con los altos cargos se me preguntaba por un tratado de paz, la retirada de las tropas estadounidenses del Sur y negociaciones directas. Hoy la situación es la misma. Estados Unidos no va a ceder un ápice.

¿Por qué no? Washington quiere librarse del régimen comunista antes de permitir que la paz prevalezca en la península. ¡Nada de “un Estado dos sistemas”, pardiez! Quiere un Estado que prometa lealtad, ¿adivinan a quién?

Mientras tanto, la existencia de una “belicosa” Corea del Norte justifica que Washington rodee al norte con un auténtico anillo de potencia de fuego en el noroeste del Pacífico lo suficientemente cerca para casi quemar China aunque no del todo. Una “peligrosa” República Popular Democrática de Corea del Norte también es útil para mantener a Japón dentro de la órbita estadounidense y también es otra excusa para que el antes pacífico Japón se jacte de su ya formidable arsenal.

En relación a esto voy a citar un artículo de Christine Hong y Hyun Le publicado el 15 de febrero en Foreign Policy in Focus:

“Calificar a Corea del Norte como la principal amenaza para la seguridad de la región oculta la naturaleza falsa de la política del presidente estadounidense Barack Obama en la región, en concreto la identidad entre lo que sus asesores denominan “paciencia estratégica” por una parte y por otra, la postura militar y la alianza con los halcones regionales que ha desplegado. Examinar la agresiva política de Obama respecto a Corea del Norte y sus consecuencias es fundamental para entender por qué las demostraciones de poderío militar (de la política por otros medios, en palabras de Carl von Clausewitz) son las únicas vías de comunicación con Estados Unidos que parece tener Corea del Norte en esta coyuntura”.

He aquí otra cita de Brian Becker, dirigente de la coalición ANSWER:

“El Pentágono y el ejército de Corea del Sur hoy (y a lo largo del año pasado) han estado organizando masivos simulacros de guerra que simulan la invasión y bombardeo de Corea del Norte. Pocas personas en Estados Unidos conoce cuál es la verdadera situación. El trabajo de la maquinaria de propaganda de guerra está diseñado para asegurarse de que el pueblo estadounidense no se une para exigir que acaben las peligrosas y amenazantes acciones del Pentágono en la Península de Corea.

La campaña de propaganda está en pleno desarrollo ahora mientras el Pentágono asciende por la escalera de la intensificación en la parte más militarizadas del planeta. Corea del Norte es considerado el provocador y el agresor cada vez que afirma que tiene derecho a defender su país y capacidad para hacerlo. Incluso cuando el Pentágono simula la destrucción nuclear de un país al que ya trató de bombardear hasta reducirlo a la Edad de Piedra, los medios de comunicación propiedad de las corporaciones caracterizan este acto extremadamente provocativo como un signo de determinación y una medida de defensa propia”.

Y otra cita de Stratfor, el servicio de inteligencia privado que suele estar enterado:

“Gran parte del comportamiento de Corea de Norte se puede considerar retórico aunque, sin embargo, no está claro hasta dónde quiere llegar Pyongyang si continúa sin poderforzar las negociaciones por medio de la beligerancia ”.

Aquí se da por sentado el objetivo de iniciar las negociaciones.

La “belicosidad” de Pyongyang es casi completamente verbal (quizá varios decibelios demasiado alta para nuestros oídos), pero Corea del Norte es un país pequeño en unas difíciles circunstancias que bien recuerdan la extraordinaria brutalidad que Washington infligió al territorio en la década de 1950. Murieron millones de coreanos. Los bombardeos de saturación estadounidense fueron criminales. Corea del Norte estó decidido a morir luchando si vuelve a ocurrir, pero espera que su preparación [militar] impida la guerra y lleve a negociaciones y a un tratado.

Su gran y bien adiestrado ejército es defensivo. El propósito de los cohetes que está construyendo y de hablar de armas nucleares es fundamentalmente asustar al lobo que tiene a la puerta de casa.

A corto plazo, la reciente retórica encendida de Kim Jong-un es la respuesta directa al simulacro de guerra de un mes de duración de este año de Estados Unidos y Corea del Sur, que interpreta como un posible preludio de otra guerra. El propósito de Kim a largo plazo es crear una crisis lo suficientemente inquietante como para que Estados Unidos acceda finalmente a unas negociaciones bilaterales, y posiblemente a un tratado de paz y a la salida de las tropas extranjeras. Más adelante podría llegar alguna forma de reunificación en negociaciones entre el norte y el sur.

Sospecho que la actual confrontación se calmará una vez que terminen los simulacros de guerra. El gobierno Obama no tienen intención de crear las condiciones que lleven a un tratado de paz, especialmente ahora que la atención de la Casa Blanca parece absorta en el Este de Asia donde percibe un posible peligro para su supremacía geopolítica.

Jack A. Smith es director de Activist Newsletter.


Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Global Research Editor’s Note

From October 12 to 15, 2010, I had extensive and detailed discussions with Fidel Castro in Havana, pertaining to the dangers of nuclear war, the global economic crisis and the nature of the New World Order. 

These meetings resulted in a wide-ranging and fruitful interview that was published by Global Research and Cuba Debate.

The following message by Fidel against Nuclear War was recorded on October 15, 2010. It is of particular relevance in the light of recent developments on the Korean peninsula. 

Below is the text of this brief and forceful message as well the video recording.

This important message is based on Fidel Castro’s analysis and understanding of the dangers of military escalation including the threats (confirmed by statements of President Obama and [former] Secretary of State Clinton) to use nuclear weapons on a pre-emptive basis against Iran and North Korea.

Michel Chossudovsky, April 7, 2013

Fidel Castro and Michel Chossudovsky, Havana, October 2010



The use of nuclear weapons in a new war would mean the end of humanity. This was candidly foreseen by scientist Albert Einstein who was able to measure their destructive capability to generate millions of degrees of heat, which would vaporize everything within a wide radius of action. This brilliant researcher had promoted the development of this weapon so that it would not become available to the genocidal Nazi regime.

Each and every government in the world has the obligation to respect the right to life of each and every nation and of the totality of all the peoples on the planet.

Today there is an imminent risk of war with the use of that kind of weapon and I don’t harbour the least doubt that an attack by the United States and Israel against the Islamic Republic of Iran would inevitably evolve towards a global nuclear conflict.

The World’s peoples have an obligation to demand of their political leaders their Right to Live. When the life of humankind, of your people and your most beloved human beings run such a risk, nobody can afford to be indifferent; not one minute can be lost in demanding respect for that right; tomorrow will be too late.

Albert Einstein himself stated unmistakably: “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”. We fully comprehend what he wanted to convey, and he was absolutely right, yet in the wake of a global nuclear war, there wouldn’t be anybody around to make use of those sticks and stones.

There would be “collateral damage”, as the American political and military leaders always affirm, to justify the deaths of innocent people.

In a nuclear war the “collateral damage” would be the life of all humanity.

Let us have the courage to proclaim that all nuclear or conventional weapons, everything that is used to make war, must disappear!

Fidel Castro Ruz

October 15, 2010

WWIII Scenario


President Bashar al-Assad said that foreign interference is a red line, adding that if the unrest in Syria leads to the partitioning of the country or if the terrorist forces take control of Syria, or both of the above, the situation will inevitably first spill over into neighboring countries and then create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The full text of the interview: 

Question: Mr President, you are welcome on Ulusal TV station. My first question might be a bit strange, but I need to ask it, because in the Turkish and world media there has been a lot of information published to the effect that you were killed or that you have left the country. Can you confirm that you are still alive and still in Syria?

President Assad: First, I would like to welcome you and your team to Syria. It is a pleasure for me to talk to you today and through your station to the brotherly Turkish people. Clearly you can see that I am here and very much on the ground – not hiding in an underground bunker. These rumors tend to abound every once in a while to undermine the morale of the Syrian people. I neither live on a Russian warship nor in Iran. I live in Syria in the same place I have always lived.

Question: As you know, in the last meeting of the Arab League, the seat of the Syrian Arab Republic was given to the opposition and the discussion was opened about your legitimacy. Does that mean that your legitimacy has been withdrawn through this act of giving the seat of the Syrian Arab Republic to the opposition and the fact that you are no longer represented in the Arab League?

President Assad: Frankly speaking, the Arab League itself lacks legitimacy. It is an organization which represents Arab states and not Arab peoples. It has lacked legitimacy for many years, due to the fact that these Arab states themselves and their different positions do not reflect the will and the interests of the Arab peoples. Even when we were part of the Arab League, we were aware of this. Therefore this League is not in a position to give legitimacy or withdraw it. The step taken was more symbolic than anything else to create an illusion of illegitimacy.

Real legitimacy cannot be granted from either international organizations, officials outside your country or from other states. The Syrian People alone have the authority to grant or withdraw legitimacy. If they withdraw it, then you become illegitimate. And similarly if they give you their support, then you are a legitimate president. Everything else is meaningless shenanigans as far as we are concerned.

Question: There are decisions, measures and actions taken against your country by some Arab countries and in the western world. On the other hand, the BRICS countries, which are observing the developments in Syria, have taken decisions different from those taken by the Arab countries and the western countries. How do you evaluate the activities, policies and the decisions of the BRICS countries.

President Assad: What you mentioned in your question emphasizes an important point. From the outset, the conflict in Syria was not entirely domestic. There are internal Syrian dynamics at play, but the underlying issues today are more directed towards redrawing the map of the region, and the conflicting interests of the great powers. The creation of the BRICS bloc means that the United States will no longer remain the only global power in the world. Today there are partners whose views and interests cannot be ignored when decisions and actions are taken in the international arena.

The BRICS group does not support President Bashar al-Assad or the Syrian state. It supports stability in this region. Everyone knows that if the unrest in Syria leads to the partitioning of the country or if the terrorist forces take control of Syria, or both of the above, the situation will inevitably first spill over into neighboring countries and then create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond – East, West, North and South. This will lead to a state of instability for years and maybe decades to come. On these grounds the BRICS group supported the political solution in Syria against western powers.

As for some of the Arab or regional leaders which stood against Syria, it is well known that most of these countries are not independent in their political decisions. They act on foreign diktats. Internally, they might support a political solution, but when they are given their orders by the west, they must comply. Broadly speaking this is the reality across the region and internationally.

Question: Mr President, for the past two years we have witnessed conflict in Syria, armed conflict inside Syria. This conflict is supported on the one hand by the United States, France, Turkey and some Gulf countries. These countries say that the people are fighting your regime, and more than a hundred countries have stated that you should step down. On that background, are you thinking of stepping down and allowing someone else to replace you?

President Assad: Your question implies that a large number of western states and their allies, including Turkey and a number of Arab countries are against this President. At the same time you are implying that his people are also against him; so, how does he still remain in office? How can Syria remain steadfast for two years? I am not bothered by foreign countries being against me; I am a president elected by the Syrian people. We can conclude that for a president to take office or leave office is a National Syrian decision to be taken only by the Syrian people and not by the states which call for that.

Are these states concerned about democracy in Syria or concerned about the blood of the Syrian people? Let’s be candid. If we start with the United States, we find that it has supported the crimes committed by Israel for decades, since Israel was created in our region. The United States committed massacres in Afghanistan and Iraq resulting in millions being killed, wounded or disabled. France and Britain committed massacres in Libya, with support and cover from the United States. The current Turkish government is knee-deep in Syrian blood. Again are these states really concerned about Syrian blood?

The issue of the President will always remain for the Syrian people to decide and no other country in the world has anything to do with it.

Question: You said that what is taking place in Syria is mainly supported from outside, but we are in Damascus and we can hear the sounds of explosions and there is always the sound of shelling at different distances. Why is this happening in Syria?

President Assad: We are surrounded by a group of countries which are helping terrorists enter into Syria. Of course, not all of these countries are doing this intentionally. For instance, Iraq is against allowing terrorists access to Syria, but it has certain circumstances which do not allow it to fully control its borders. In Lebanon, the situation is divided with some parties supporting and others opposing sending terrorists into Syria. Turkey officially harbors these terrorists and sends them into Syria. Some terrorists enter Syria through Jordan and it is not clear whether that is intentional or not. As long as these terrorists continue to be smuggled into the country, we will continue to fight against them – this is only normal. It is actually a war in every sense of the word. These are not merely separate and dispersed security incidents. Terrorists are entering Syria in their thousands, and maybe in tens of thousands, it is difficult to set a precise figure. So, it is quite realistic to hear the sound of battles in many Syrian regions.

Question: Mr President, you said that the Turkish government officially and publicly supports the terrorists and provides different kinds of assistance to those terrorist groups, but we know that quite recently you used to enjoy good and friendly relations with Erdogan and the Turkish government. What happened and pushed things to this situation?

President Assad: Maybe Erdogan saw in the events taking place in the Arab world an opportunity for him to prolong his political life. This man’s mentality is that of the Muslim Brotherhood, and from our experience in Syria with the Muslim Brotherhood for over 30 years, they are a group of opportunists, who use religion for their personal advantage. He saw that the countries that witnessed revolutions or coup d’états or foreign interventions brought in groups belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood to power. So, he saw in that a great opportunity for him to remain in power in different forms for many years to come. He turned against Syria because he saw a personal opportunity to remain in power. In the beginning, he tried to interfere in internal Syrian affairs. Even before the crisis, Erdogan was more interested in the Muslim Brotherhood than he was in Syrian-Turkish relations and even more than his interest in Turkey itself. This is the way this person thinks. When these circumstances occurred, he decided to stand by his personal interests and put them before Syrian/Turkish interests. As I said, he tried to interfere in Syrian internal affairs and later this Turkish government started to support the terrorists publically in Syria. They have became deeply involved in the bloodshed in Syria. It is only realistic in this situation for relations to be severed between us.

Question: When we ask Mr. Erdogan about what happened to the Syrian-Turkish relations, he claims that he was honest with President Bashar al-Assad and offered him proposals about reform, but President al-Assad rejected these proposals. Why didn’t you take into account the proposals made to you by Mr. Erdogan?

President Assad: Regrettably, Erdogan has never uttered a single truthful word since the crisis in Syria began. None whatsoever and I’m not exaggerating. The proposals he put forward were very general to the effect that the Syrian people should decide who should be president and what type of political system should govern them. I had previously spoken about these proposals in much more depth in many of my addresses.

We are currently in the midst of preparing for a National dialogue in which all the political groups in Syria will meet and decide on the best way forward. No matter how important Erdogan’s proposals, they will not be more important than what the Syrian people want. Can there be anything more important than this? Whatever the Syrian people decide will be implemented.

There is however a simple question that we should ask. If Erdogan claims that he put forward proposals to solve the problem in Syria, then what is the relationship between those proposals and supporting the armed groups? Today, Erdogan is recruiting armed groups with Qatari financing, providing them with weapons, medical equipment and other logistical support on Turkish territory, and then sending them into Syria. Was this proposal part of those which he presented to me, or were those proposals a mere facade which he used in order to reach his objectives.

He knows that we supported dialogue; from day one, we announced that we agreed to conduct a dialogue with all Syrian parties. When the first stage, which was often referred to as ‘the peaceful stage’ failed, they shifted gear and started to support the armed groups. Erdogan lies and uses those proposals as a mask; we accept advice from any party, but we do not, under any circumstances, accept intervention in internal Syrian affairs. It seems that Erdogan misunderstood our position; he understood that the brotherly relations between Syria and Turkey allow him to interfere in internal Syrian affairs with the objective of overthrowing the Syrian state. But the situation was clear to me from the very early days.

Question: There are news stories in some media channels in Turkey to the effect that there are Turkish officers and security services personnel involved in the terrorist acts and help the terrorist organizations, that they entered the Syrian territories and they were involved in direct activities in support of these terrorist organizations. Some media say that Syria will respond in kind against Turkey as long as Turkey is involved to this degree in these operations. What do you say to all these claims?

President Assad: As I said, the present Turkish government is directly contributing to the killing of the Syrian people. Some people expect Syria to retaliate but we will not do it. Firstly we are against crime and therefore we reject criminal acts. Secondly, we believe the Turkish people are a brotherly people. Thirdly, this is what Erodgan wants; he wants to create a conflict between the peoples of Syria and Turkey, in order for him to get popular support for his policies and restore some of his popularity. We will not fall into this trap for both considerations of principle and because our interest lies with the Turkish people. A conflict between our two peoples will not be in the interest of either Syria or Turkey; it will only make things more complicated. What we have done in the past 10 or 12 years since President Cezar visited Syria in 2000 was to annihilate the bad history between the Arabs and the Turks. Now Erdogan is trying to jeopardize it. We will not commit any act against the Turkish people.

As for the Turkish intelligence services, up until this point, we have not captured any member of the Turkish intelligence services or the Turkish army. This doesn’t mean that they are not involved; the intelligence services are providing support from outside Syria. They provide all the training, the equipment, the communications and other forms of political and media support as required. From the confessions of many terrorists, we know that there are individuals in Turkey who are involved, but the basic principle of this involvement lies in the policy adopted by the current Turkish government. The fact that there is no intelligence personnel on the ground does not mean they are not involved.

Question: Your statements, Mr President, have been clear concerning Turkish polices. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said “I would rather resign my position than shake the hand of President al-Assad if he remained in power.” What does that say about the relations between the two countries.

President Assad: I am not going to dignify that with a response. Suffice to say that I was given an appropriate upbringing in my home and clearly this is not true in his case.

In the way he speaks, he does not embody the high moral standards of the Turkish people, which I witnessed all too clearly during my visits to Turkey. I, on the other hand, have learned from the high moral standards of the Syrian people, and hence I do not feel the need to respond.

As to the bridges, my relationship with Erdogan was meant to be reflected on the Syrian-Turkish relations. But when the Prime Minister, his government, or members of his government are involved in the bloodshed in Syria, these bridges have no place, neither between us, nor between them and the Syrian people who have no respect for them at all.

Question: As you might have noticed, when President Barack Obama was in Israel, suddenly Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he apologized to Turkey concerning what happened on the Marmara ship. How do you read all these developments?

President Assad: There is a clear and obvious question in such a situation. The same person, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was Prime Minister when the Marmara massacre took place 3 years ago, he is still Prime Minister today. Why didn’t he apologize during these past years? What has changed? Erdogan is the same and Netanyahu is the same. What has changed is the situation in Syria. This confirms very clearly and precisely that there is a Turkish-Israeli agreement over the situation in Syria. This also confirms that Erdogan is now in alliance with Israel in order to aggravate the situation in Syria. Erdogan failed in the past two years to achieve his objectives in mobilizing Turkish public opinion concerning Syria to his satisfaction and he also failed in achieving the collapse of the Syrian state; Syria was steadfast despite the ferocious battles. He had no ally to help him except Israel and Israel is our obvious enemy who occupies our land. I believe this is a clear indicator of the alliance between them, at the same time, maybe this apology also helps Erdogan restore some of his status and credibility which he had also lost inside Turkey.

Question: I want to pick up on something which happened in the recent past. There has been a meeting between Erdogan and Ocalan on March 21st. During that meeting the two sides talked about the formation of a new Middle East consisting of Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds and Turks. Have you followed these meetings and statements?

President Assad: What we have at the moment is the information available through the media. We have not received official details from any party as of yet. Since the initial steps taken in Turkey a few years ago to solve the Kurdish problem, our declared position has been to support any solution between the Turks and the Kurds because we do not want to see more bloodshed in Turkey which will no doubt have a negative impact on the region. Any genuine solution in this direction has our support, because the Kurdish people are a natural part of the fabric of the region. They are not guests or new immigrants; they have been living in these lands for centuries, for thousands of years. But the vision for the solution of the Turkish-Kurdish relations depends on the credibility of Erdogan. I don’t trust this person, and I doubt that he will fulfill his promises. All the steps he is taking are temporary measures aimed at winning him political support. Here again we ask the same question. Why didn’t he take the same steps a few years ago? Again, this is related to the Syrian situation. But let’s not prejudge the situation. Let’s wait and see.

Question: You said that finding a solution to the Kurdish problem is one of the important issues for the region. Can we hear from your Excellency a broader vision and in detail about how we can solve this issue?

President Assad: We need to be clear, nationalism is different from ethnicity. We live in a mixed region; the fact that you are Turkish doesn’t mean that you can’t be Kurdish or Armenian or Arab in origin with your own culture and language. This is the situation in Turkey as well as in Syria. When I say Arab, it is not necessarily linked to an Arab ethnicity or race. Both nationalisms, Turkish and Arab, exemplify highly civilised and all encompassing nationalistic models that are meant to be inclusive of everybody.

The problem with this concept in the past, was perhaps that the adopted mentality was one of rejecting and eliminating other cultures. I believe the most beautiful aspect of this region is its diversity and the most dangerous aspect is for us not to see this diversity as enriching and empowering. When we regard it as a weakness, we invite foreign forces to play us against each other and create conflicts.

This was the case at the beginning of the last century when the conflict started between the Arabs and the Turks during the final days of the Ottoman Empire. Many of the Arab nationalist groups wanted Arab nationalism within the Ottoman Empire. However things moved towards conflict as a result of mistakes made by both the Turks and the Arabs as well as the result of intervention from foreign players.

That’s why we need to look at the situation today in the same way; we are made from the same fabric weaved from many different colours.

Question: Mr President, one of the most important issues being discussed currently in Turkey is the question of the PKK. There are discussions about organizations operating on Syrian territories which are cooperating with the PKK and that the PKK has great influence over these organizations. They say that this organization is interested in creating a military vacuum in northern Syria so that it can be filled by these new Kurdish forces. How do you read all these reports, Mr President?

President Assad: When there is chaos in any state, as is the case in Syria at the moment, certain groups are bound to appear in order to fill the vacuum created. Sometimes these groups are gangs with the only purpose of killing and stealing. Sometimes these are political groups, and other times they might be parties with certain policies. There’s no doubt that there are some groups which seek separation; they exist in Syria, Turkey, Iraq and other places. But we cannot generalize this situation to include all Kurds based on the agenda of small groups. Most Kurds are patriotic people who want to live in Syria. So, the emergence of certain cases should not lead us to generalize the situation or even to assume that things are moving towards separation. Separation needs a certain environment, be it widespread public support or external factors, which is very different from the circumstances prevailing in Syria at the moment. I’m not concerned about this issue at the moment.

Question: Mr President, this is a very important issue. Since the beginning of the events in Syria, certain parties and research centers started to talk about a new project involving the separation of northern Syria, northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey and separating these regions from their central states. Do you think there is a danger of northern Syria separating from the central state?

President Assad: As I said, the current circumstances in Syria are not conducive in this respect particularly in terms of public opinion at large. This notion of separation is completely rejected by the Syrian people and the Syrian state; no sovereign state accepts for a part of its territory to be cut out or separated from its mainland. This position is categorically unacceptable and is not subject to any discussions with us in Syria.

Question: Based on our questions and your answers, there seems to be a clear plan put forward by western countries in cooperation and coordination with some regional countries to create a greater Kurdistan by separating northern Iraq, western Iran, northern Syria and southeastern Turkey. They seemed determined to achieve this goal. Are we moving in the direction of achieving this goal?

President Assad: I don’t believe that the four states in question – Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq – would agree to this proposition. Independent states in today’s world seek integration rather than separation. Unfortunately our region is an exception which is a sign of backwardness. Today, large countries come together, the BRICS being an example. States seek to come together and form larger blocs because this is a requirement in the age we live in. So, why should we go in the opposite direction in our region and seek fragmentation? What is there to prevent people who belong to different nationalities, ethnicities, religions and sects to live with each other? Therefore if we accept the notion of separation then this means we have to live with the consequences – namely fragmentation into small mini-states based on ethnicities and sects in an area that is extremely rich in its diversity; this creates a dangerous situation that would precipitate wars in the future. This is why I don’t think that this is a sound proposition. Every one of these four concerned states should do its utmost to make sure all its people feel that they are first-class citizens with equal stakes in their state. This solution is therefore, clear and simple. On the other hand, when a citizen feels that he is second or third class, he is bound to think of separation or even act against his own state.

Question: You used to have an interesting project, Mr President. You talked about the political and economic unification of the five seas and the countries lying among these seas. How can we benefit from such a project? Can you please explain that to the Turkish audience?

President Assad: This is what I meant when I said that in this age we need to unify. This doesn’t mean becoming a single state in the same way that old states existed in the past, in large extended empires. Today we can unify through our interests at least. For instance, we can build railways, different forms of land transport, gas, oil, electricity, all forms of energy, hence creating networks between our countries in this extremely strategic region of the world which lies between the five seas. This in itself will bring a lot of investment into the region, creating a great deal of prosperity and making these states and their peoples strong enough to face any foreign intervention.

This vision needs will and independent decision-making, especially since many western states have no interest in the creation of such projects in the Middle East. This also needs security and stability. I don’t believe that the right conditions exist now for such a project, because there are problems in Syria, in Lebanon, unrest in Iraq, most of which are a result of western intervention; there is a government in Turkey, which I don’t consider to be independent or to have such a vision, and Turkey is essential for this project due to its strategic position. This doesn’t mean that we should cancel this project. It should remain in our minds, because the future of this region depends on grand projects like this. If we each remain confined within our national borders, we will be considered small on a global scale, even large countries such as Turkey and Iran. We cannot be powerful unless we create such strategic trans-border projects.

Question: Mr President, based on your answer to my question, I want to move to another issue which is related to sectarian war. There seems to be a Sunni-Shiite war going on in the region and many people are talking about this. Do you see these conflicts as sectarian by nature?

President Assad: This issue was first raised in 1979 on the backdrop of the Iranian revolution which removed one of America’s most important allies in the region. The only solution was to portray that revolution as a Shiite revolution and that other sects should oppose it. On those grounds, the Iraq war against Iran was invented and supported by some Gulf countries. A short while later, the Muslim Brothers in Syria were used for the same objective, in order to create sectarian strife. They failed in the first and the second attempt.

Now, three decades later, there’s no other choice but to create sectarian strife within these countries. That’s why they have raised this issue again and the slogans chanted, particularly in the early days of the Syrian crisis, were sectarian in their substance. So far, they have failed. Had they succeeded the whole region would have been fragmented as a result of this conflict. The positive aspect in all of this, is the increasing public awareness against sectarian ideologies, despite the fact that there are some sectarian pockets which reflect an underlying ignorance which is usually present in every society.

I believe that the essence of the conflict now is not sectarian. The conflict is between forces and states seeking to take their peoples back into historic times, and between states wanting to take their peoples into a prosperous future. It is a conflict between those who want their homeland and their state to be independent from the west and between those which seek to be satellites of western powers only to achieve their particular interests. At the same time, these forces are part of an international struggle of conflicting interests of which Turkey and Syria are a part. This struggle has been affected by different factors which might lead to the fragmentation of the region, enabling global powers to control our destiny and future.

Question: Nevertheless, outside Syria, in some countries, policies of division and fragmentation based on ethnicities and sects are being officially adopted. On the other hand, we lived and witnessed what you have been talking about in Turkey, particularly after the secular republic was created and led by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. Unfortunately, however, these states and governments have distanced themselves from this project and started to adopt religious and sectarian projects. How do you see the future of these political systems?

President Assad: These political systems and establishments which are seeking division and fragmentation are preparing for wars which might last for centuries rather than decades in our region – destroying everything, preventing development and prosperity, and taking us back to life in the Middle Ages. This is very dangerous.

When I refer to secularism, I’m speaking about the freedom of religions and religious practices. Our region is primarily conservative, most people are religious and they should have the freedom to practice their religious rituals. We shouldn’t think for a moment that there is contradiction between ethnicities and religions. This is the essence of our thinking about secularism. This is why we should always aim to unify the people in our region. As I mentioned earlier no matter what happens between the governments in Syria and Turkey, it should not affect the relations between the peoples of our countries which constitutes the only guarantee for our unity as diverse and rich societies.

Question: Mr President, do you follow closely the developments in Turkey?

President Assad: This is in keeping with the norm. Because what happens within Turkey as both a neighboring and large country with its strategic position, will reflect directly on what happens inside Syria. At the same time there are so many similarities: the nature of the people, their emotions and the makeup of the social fabric in Turkey are very similar to those in Syria. So again, what happens in Turkey will have an impact on Syria. That’s why we believe that stability in Turkey is in our best interest, and vice versa, if you have turbulences, we will be affected. The challenge is how to convince the Turkish officials in the current government, particularly the Prime Minister, that the fire in Syria will burn in Turkey. Unfortunately, he doesn’t see this reality.

Question: Concerning dialogue with the opposition. You called for a political solution and for direct dialogue with the opposition. Are there red lines for this dialogue?

President Assad: The red lines are foreign intervention. Any dialogue should be a Syrian dialogue only. No foreign intervention is allowed in this dialogue. Other than this, there are no red lines. Syrian citizens can discuss anything they want, because Syria is the homeland for all Syrians and they can discuss anything they want. There are no red lines.

Question: In the framework of a sectarian conflict, there are claims which appear on TV stations and some other media outlets to the effect that Syria is ruled by a dictatorial Alawite regime whose only objective is to eliminate the Sunna; and even the assassination of Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Bouti comes within this effort. What is your response to such claims?

President Assad: I referred at the beginning to the diversity of this region of which Syria is a part and has been living in stability for many decades without any internal problems. How can it be stable without a government that constitutes a mirror image of its people? When a government in any country, is dominated by one or more groups of people, and is therefore not reflective of the whole population it cannot survive. It will either fall in no time or the country as a whole will fall. These claims are therefore not true. We have been living together in this country for hundreds of years; and the government has always reflected the diversity of the people and their participation in its affairs. As for the late Dr al-Bouti, it is ridiculous to accuse the Syrian government of his assassination. This accusation has been made by the same groups who were accusing him, only days and weeks before, of being the mouthpiece of the authorities on religious affairs. This was done in order to marginalise his popularity amongst the Syrian people and his followers in the Muslim world. In fact, he was not a mouthpiece for the authorities as they describe him. He never sought any kind of authority; he never wanted to be a minister or a mufti; he never asked for any money; he used to live a simple life. His only fault was that he was at the forefront of a group of religious leaders who stood decisively in the face of the plot to create sectarian strife amongst Syrians. Dr al-Bouti was at the forefront, firstly because of his status in Syria and the Muslim world, and secondly because of his deep awareness and understanding of the truth of what was happening. There is no doubt that the stances of these religious leaders, and among them Dr al-Bouti, was crucial in foiling this attempt to create sectarian strife. That is why they assassinated Dr al-Bouti, as well as other religious leaders, one as recently as a few days ago in Aleppo. Everybody who spoke about true religion, about tolerance and moderation in religion was targeted from the beginning of the crisis, no doubt Dr al-Bouti had the greatest effect when confronting this war. He didn’t stand with the state, he stood with his nation and therefore paid the price with his life. In any case, he always spoke of his readiness for martyrdom.

Question: Thank you Mr President for granting this interview to Ulusal TV station. Finally, is there anything else you want to say to the Turkish people?

President Assad: We are now at a crucial juncture in history. By this I mean Syria, Turkey and the whole region. Even though some of the changes happening in our region have some spontaneous elements they also contain many externally planned elements with the objective of controlling this region. What is happening now is essentially similar to what happened a hundred years ago in terms of re-dividing the region. But a hundred years ago, we accepted the division as it was drawn by Sykes and Picot when they drew the borders for you, for us and for others in this region. This time, however, we shouldn’t accept any redrawing of the region except in accordance with decisions suitable to us as peoples living in this region. We should be the people who take the decision. Unfortunately, this vision is lacking for many of the governments which accepted to act in accordance with foreign diktats, or at least to please western countries in particular.

That’s why we see in the past two years, there have been many attempts to destroy the relationship between the Turkish and Syrian peoples. I want to say that what we have started twelve years ago with President Cezar should continue under all circumstances, by this I mean the Turkish-Arab brotherhood. This cannot be achieved if Syrian-Turkish relations are not good, because, along with Iraq, we are the closest Arab country to Turkey. So we should continue to move in this direction and as I said prosperity in any country will be reflected on the other. By the same token, fire in either country will also spill over into the other. Governments come and go, they do not stay forever. That’s why we shouldn’t allow governments and officials, especially foolish and inexperienced officials, to undermine this relationship which should be built by us and not by any foreign power. This is my message to the Turkish people and once again I am happy to receive you today.

Question: Thank you very much, Mr President.

President Assad: Once again thank you, and please convey my best wishes to the staff of Ulusal TV and Aydinlik newspaper.

A day after former Cypriot President Vassilou was found to be among many elite Cypriot (politicians and businessmen) who had loans written-off by the major (now insolvent) banks; it appears the rot is far fouler than expected. In a somewhat stunning (or purely coincidental) revelation,ENETEnglish reports that Cypriot newspaper Haravgi claims that current President Nicos Anastasiades’ family businesses transferred ‘dozens of millions’ from their Laiki Bank accounts to London just a week before the devastating depositor haircuts were unleashed upon his people.

Of course, the denials are loud and Anastasiades has demanded an investigation into the claims; we are sure the government-selected ‘independent’ committee will be as thorough as the Libor anti-trust investigators. As a reminder, as we noted yesterday, here are Cyprus’ gun control laws.

A company owned by in-laws of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades withdrew dozens of millions from Laiki Bank on March 12 and 13, according to an article published in Cypriot newspaper Haravgi.

The newspaper, which is affiliated to the communist-rooted AKEL party, reports that three days before the Euro-group meeting the company took five promissory notes worth €21m from Laiki Bank and transferred the money to London.

Responding to the allegations, Anastasiades said:

“The attempt to defame companies or people linked to my family… is nothing but an attempt to distract people from the liability of those who led the country to a state of bankruptcy.”

The president added that no one, including himself, will be exempt from the ongoing investigations looking into responsibilities over the near collapse of the economy.

Anastasiades added that when the investigative committee convenes on Tuesday, he will request that its members look into this particular case with the same attentiveness as all other cases.

The company in question has firmly denied the reports.

Last Friday a list of companies and politicians that had loans written off by banks at the heart of Cyprus’ bailout crisis was published in Greece and was subsequently handed to the Cypriot parliament’s ethics committee. The list includes the names of politicians from Cyprus’ biggest parties (excluding the socialist EDEK and the Greens).

C’è un legame tra gli eventi in Siria (forse anche le tensioni degli Stati Uniti con la Corea democratica) e le improvvise manovre della Russia nel Mar Nero iniziate il 28 marzo 2013? Mentre a Durban, in Sud Africa, i BRICS, Brasile, Russia, India, Cina e Sud Africa, hanno annunciato la formazione di una nuova banca per lo sviluppo, sfidando il FMI e la Banca mondiale, il russo Vladimir Putin ha dato via libera ad esercitazioni non programmate nel Mar Nero. Da sole le esercitazioni contano poco, ma in un contesto globale significano molto. Secondo il Cremlino, le manovre hanno coinvolto circa 7.000 militari russi; forze speciali, fanteria di marina e truppe aeroportate di pronto intervento. Tutte le armi della Russia vi sono state coinvolte e le esercitazioni sono state utilizzate per testarne l’interoperabilità. Oltre trenta navi da guerra russe di stanza nel porto ucraino di Sebastopoli, nella penisola di Crimea, e nel porto russo di Novorossijsk nel Kraj di Krasnodar, vi hanno partecipato. L’obiettivo delle esercitazioni è dimostrare che la Russia potrebbe mobilitarsi per qualsiasi evento da un momento all’altro.

Le manovre hanno sorpreso la North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO), che si è anche lamentata del fatto che le esercitazioni russe sono iniziate nel Mar Nero senza preavviso. In realtà, la NATO ha chiesto alla Russia di essere più aperta riguardo alle sue mosse e d’informare il comando della NATO, a Bruxelles, sui suoi movimenti militari futuri. Alexander Vershbow, il Vicesegretario generale statunitense della NATO, ha persino chiesto “massima trasparenza” alla Russia. Ci si  chiede perché sono così scossi?

Risposta russa ai piani di guerra contro la Siria?

E’ una coincidenza che la Russia mostri i muscoli, dopo che la NATO, il 20 marzo, ha rivelato di sviluppare piani di emergenza per un intervento in Siria, in stile libico? Due giorni dopo, Israele e Turchia hanno concluso il loro scontro diplomatico con un accordo tempestivo, presumibilmente mediato dal presidente degli Stati Uniti Barack Obama in una ventina di minuti, mentre era in visita in Israele. Il primo ministro israeliano Benjamin Netanyahu ha annunciato che con l’aiuto di Obama l’accordo è stato fatto con il primo ministro della Turchia Recep Erdogan, ponendo fine alla frattura diplomatica dopo l’assalto israeliano alla Mavi Marmara nel 2010. Alcuni giorni dopo, a questo evento ha fatto seguito la Coalizione nazionale siriana (CNS), un’organizzazione dell’opposizione fasulla costruita da Stati Uniti, Regno Unito, Francia, Qatar, Arabia Saudita e Turchia, che solennemente ha assunto il seggio della Siria alla Lega Araba. In quello che sembra essere un tentativo di ripetere lo scenario libico, il CNS è stato riconosciuto quale governo della Siria. Al vertice della Lega araba, il leader del CNS Moaz al-Qatib ha immediatamente chiesto l’intervento militare della NATO, in coordinamento con l’appello del Qatar del 26 marzo, per un cambio di regime e l’intervento militare contro Damasco.

In questa messa in scena si muovono i fantocci del CNS che chiedono a Stati Uniti, Regno Unito, Francia, Qatar, Arabia Saudita, Turchia e NATO d’imporre una no-fly zone, con l’obiettivo di creare un emirato o un’enclave controllata dal CNS nel nord della Siria. Al-Qatib ha annunciato di aver detto al segretario di Stato John Kerry di usare i missili Patriot della NATO di stanza in Turchia, per creare la no-fly zone sulla Siria settentrionale. In effetti si parla della balcanizzazione della Siria. Kerry sembra essere d’accordo. Victoria Nuland, portavoce del dipartimento di Stato degli USA, ha detto che gli Stati Uniti considerano la richiesta di imporre una no-fly zone. Anche in precedenza, Kerry ha fatto una visita a sorpresa a Baghdad e ha minacciato il governo federale dell’Iraq di farne oggetto dei piani di cambiamento di regime di Washington contro la Siria. Ha detto che voleva che gli iracheni controllassero gli aerei di linea iraniani diretti in Siria in cerca di armi, ma ha anche detto molto di più. Tutti i satrapi dell’impero statunitense sono in movimento. Qatar e Arabia Saudita non nascondono più il fatto che armano e finanziano i ribelli in Siria. A febbraio, il Regno Unito e la Francia hanno fatto pressioni sul resto dell’Unione europea per revocare l’embargo sulle armi ai siriani, in modo che possano armare apertamente i combattenti e le milizie stranieri anti-governativi che cercano di rovesciare il governo siriano. Israele e Turchia sono stati costretti a ricucire lo strappo per il bene della guerra imperiale contro i siriani.

Obama riallinea Israele e Turchia contro la Siria

Il riavvicinamento turco-israeliano si adatta comodamente all’allineamento della scacchiera. La visita di Obama in Israele riguarda la politica per salvaguardare l’impero statunitense. Con i due vicini ostili della Siria, Tel Aviv e Ankara, avrà una maggiore cooperazione nell’obiettivo imperiale di rovesciare il governo siriano. Tutto d’un tratto, i governi di entrambi i Paesi hanno cominciato a lamentarsi, in linea con gli altri, di come la situazione umanitaria in Siria li stia minacciando. In realtà, Israele non ospita alcun profugo siriano (e opprime i siriani nel Golan sotto la sua occupazione), mentre la Turchia ha di fatto trascurato molti dei suoi obblighi legali e finanziari verso i profughi siriani che ospita sul suo territorio, e ha cercato di coprire ciò etichettandoli come “ospiti” stranieri. Secondo l’Agenzia France-Presse, gli israeliani hanno anche aperto un ospedale di campo militare per aiutare gli insorti a rovesciare il governo siriano. La struttura militare si trova nella zona chiamata Fortificazione 105, nella Siria occupata da Israele, le Alture del Golan (originariamente denominate alture siriane in Israele). Si tratta essenzialmente di una base di appoggio delle forze anti-governative ed è solo la punta dell’iceberg del coinvolgimento di Israele in Siria. L’attacco d’Israele alla Siria, a gennaio, è stato il frutto della cooperazione tra gli israeliani e le milizie ribelli.

Occhi sospettosi guardano al governo turco, e forse sempre più innervosito a causa della flessione dei muscoli del Cremlino, il ministro degli Esteri turco Ahmet Davutoglu ha respinto le affermazioni che Tel Aviv e Ankara hanno serrato i ranghi contro la Siria. Davutoglu non dovrebbe  essere a conoscenza di ciò che è stato detto in Israele del loro riavvicinamento. Anche se Netanyahu ha giurato di non chiedere scusa per l’uccisione di cittadini turchi sulla Mavi Marmara, le scuse di Tel Aviv alla Turchia sono state pubblicamente giustificate dal governo israeliano in base alla volontà di affrontare la Siria coordinandosi con la Turchia. Molti occhi sospettosi che guardano all’accordo del governo Erdogan con Israele, sono turchi. Davutoglu in realtà ha mentito per scopi interni, ben sapendo che l’opinione pubblica turca si sentirebbe oltraggiata sapendo che il primo ministro Erdogan ha davvero normalizzato i rapporti con Israele per rovesciare il governo siriano.

Il messaggio delle manovre russe

L’impero statunitense organizza la scacchiera geopolitica con i suoi satrapi, nella guerra contro la Siria. Forse Israele prevede di utilizzarla per un re-play della crisi di Suez. Nel 1956, dopo che l’Egitto nazionalizzò il canale di Suez, il Regno Unito e la Francia pianificarono con Israele l’annessione del canale di Suez, grazie all’attacco di Israele contro l’Egitto e la susseguente pretesa d’intervenire militarmente, in quanto parti interessate che volevano tenere al sicuro e aperto al traffico marittimo internazionale il Canale di Suez. Un nuovo attacco contro la Siria sotto le bandiere israeliane, è possibile e potrebbe essere usato come pretesto per un’”invasione umanitaria” dei turchi e della NATO, che potrebbe portare alla creazione di una zona cuscinetto umanitaria nel nord (o a una grande guerra). Un modello può essere rappresentativo di tutti questi eventi. All’inizio del 2013, la Russia ha avviato grandi esercitazioni navali nel Mediterraneo orientale tra le tensioni tra Mosca e la NATO e il Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), che guidano la coalizione che destabilizza la Siria. Dopo che gli Stati Uniti e la loro coalizione anti-siriana hanno minacciato d’intervenire militarmente e schierato missili Patriot sul confine meridionale della Turchia con la Siria, una squadra navale russa era stata inviata al largo delle coste siriane, inviando un chiaro messaggio a Washington di non pensare d’iniziare una nuova guerra. A loro volta, gli Stati Uniti e i loro alleati hanno cercato di salvare la faccia diffondendo la voce che il Cremlino si preparava a evacuare i cittadini russi dalla Siria, perché il governo siriano sarebbe crollato e la situazione sarebbe divenuta critica.

Parallelamente alle manovre russe nel Mar Nero, l’aviazione russa ha compiuto voli a lungo raggio in tutta la Russia. Inclusi i voli dei bombardieri nucleari strategici russi. All’altra estremità dell’Eurasia, la Cina ha anche condotto proprie esercitazioni navali a sorpresa nel Mar Cinese Meridionale. Mentre gli Stati Uniti e i loro alleati ritraggono le mosse cinesi come una minaccia al Vietnam per un territorio conteso nel Mar Cinese Meridionale, i tempi del dispiegamento navale potrebbero essere collegati alla Siria (o alla Corea democratica) e coordinati con la Russia, avvertendo gli Stati Uniti a mantenere la pace internazionale. Come segnale del declino dell’impero statunitense, poco prima delle esercitazioni russe nel Mar Nero, tutti i capi dei sempre più assertivi BRICS hanno messo in guardia gli Stati Uniti contro qualsiasi avventurismo in Siria e in altri Paesi. La dimostrazione muscolare russa e cinese sono messaggi che dicono a Washington che Pechino e Mosca sono seri e dicono quello che dicono. Nel frattempo, questi eventi possono essere letti come segnali che per il sistema-mondo è in arrivo una nuova gestione.

Questo articolo è stato originariamente pubblicato su RT Op-Edge.

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio.

Eric Toussaint in Tunis: “The creditor’s must be disobeyed and their demands for reimbursement of illegitimate debt refused !”

This is a historical moment. On 23 and 24 March 2013, a coalition of left secular Tunisian political parties (in which there are 11 political formations) organised a meeting of Mediterranean region progressive parties to call for the abolition of the odious and illegitimate debts of Northern and Southern Mediterranean countries. Two half-days of debate produced a final declaration and were followed by a grand public conference bringing together over one thousand people and all the strength of the left-wing groups united for a common cause. |1|

Below are highlights of Eric Toussaint’s speech at this first Mediterranean coordination meeting against debt, austerity policies, and foreign domination, and for a free, united, democratic, social, solidarity-based, feminist, and environmentally responsible Mediterranean region.

Eric Toussaint, President of CADTM Belgium stressed that this budding political alliance is the continuation of the struggle initiated by Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, who was assassinated on the 15 October 1987, after he called on the people of Africa and the rest of the World to unite in a common combat for the non-payment of the illegitimate debt. It also extends the struggle of the martyrs of the Arab Spring, including Chokry Belaid, assassinated on 6 February 2013, not to forget Ahmed Ben Bella, the first President of independent Algeria, who died in April 2012, |2| and who, towards the end of his life, had made the abolition of illegitimate debt one of his principal struggles.

This new coordination is facing another major challenge. All too often, left-wing parties limit their engagement to a radical denouncement of illegitimate debt without giving the question further importance in their day to day public activities. Once they start to approach positions of power, some of them abandon their promises to put an end to illegitimate debt, and end up agreeing with the terms of repayment.

Eric Toussaint presented the initial definition of odious debt as debt taken on by a dictatorial regime such as that of Ben Ali. According to international law, when such a regime falls, the part of the debt that is odious falls with it, and therefore should not in any case be repaid. Of course, we must often fight for international law to be respected. To achieve this goal, only a strong social movement can convince a government to suspend payments and repudiate odious debt. It is therefore essential to create a favourable balance of power in order to defy the creditors.

Marie Dufaux


Today, international law defines odious debt in terms of three criteria: |3|

  • the non-consent of the people in the indebted state;
  • the lack of advantages for the people in the indebted state;
  • the creditors were aware that the loans they consented were not in the interest of the people and were not approved by them.

The debt “owed” to the Troika (European Central Bank, European Commission and the IMF) by countries like Greece, Ireland, and Portugal should be denounced because it corresponds to these criteria:

1. The people in the countries concerned did not give their consent, and many governments elected on anti-austerity programmes bend to the will of the Troika once they are in power; 2. This debt is not favourable to the people, on the contrary, it is linked to violations of their economic, social, and civil rights (reductions in social services and wages, large scale lay-offs, difficulty in gaining access to health services and education, repeal of collective bargaining agreements, disregard for the democratic choices made by electors, legislative power that bows down to the executive);

3. The creditors (the Troika and bankers), know perfectly well that the loans they advance are not in the interest of the people, because they are made in order to pay off the debt and in exchange for drastic austerity measures. It is the Troika itself that imposes these violations of human rights and dictates its conditions to governments and parliaments of indebted countries.

As for the governments that have come into power since 2011 after the dictators Ben Ali and Mubarak, they have themselves taken on new debt, which is much more to the advantage of the creditors than to the people. This is done to pay back the odious debts inherited from the previous dictatorial regimes and to pursue policies weakening their countries. Therefore, this new debt is also odious.

Tunisia and Egypt are currently negotiating new arrangements with the IMF. |4| This is a fruitless process. If these loans are granted, they will be illegitimate for at least two reasons: they will be used to continue making repayments on inherited odious debt, and they will be linked to policies that are contrary to the interests of the people in these countries.

Other elements that may make a debt illegitimate

On the one hand, the debt may be the consequence of unjust fiscal policies. In real terms, states accord fiscal advantages to big (national and international) companies and the wealthiest households, this reduces tax revenues and deepens public budget deficits. These practices increase public debt, because the governments must again borrow in order to finance their budget. Debt taken on in these conditions is illegitimate to begin with because it is socially unjust.

On the other hand, it may derive from bank bail-outs. Since 2007, governments of the most industrialised countries have flown to the assistance of private banks, that are responsible for the crisis, injecting billions of euros into their capital and/or providing other guarantees. Any debt taken on to finance these bail-outs is equally illegitimate.

Creditors and governments maintain that debt must always be repaid without questioning its origins, even if they are illegitimate. Then they justify the imposition of anti-social austerity policies by insisting on the effort necessary to balance the budget. It is within this context that a growing percentage of the people in Mediterranean countries (and beyond) are rejecting the repayment of illegitimate debt. In some countries (Tunisia, Greece, Portugal, Spain, and France) citizens audits have been called for in order to identify the illegitimate part of public debt. They are seeking to establish how, why, and by whom the debt was taken on, and if it has really been used in the interest of the people. These citizens audit committees are seeking to convince as many people as possible that illegitimate debt must be repudiated.

Saying “NO” to the Creditors

It is possible and necessary to defy the International Financial Institutions and the Troika, to refuse the diktats of the private creditors in order to create leeway for improving the situation of a country and its people. As we can see in the following examples of several countries that have dared to say “No” to their creditors, it is worth being adamant.

Argentina’s suspension of debt repayments

At the end of December 2001, after three years of economic recession (1999 – 2001) and pressure from a massive popular rebellion that caused the fall of President De La Rua, Argentina decided to suspend payments, amounting to about $90 billion. This represented an important portion of its commercial debt.

Part of the money freed up was reinvested in the social sector, particularly in benefits paid to unemployed ’Piqueteros’. Some would claim that the real reason why Argentina recovered as of 2003-2004 is only because of the increase in the prices of its exports.

This affirmation is, however, false, because if Argentina had not suspended its debt repayments, the revenue from exports would have been swallowed up by them. The government would not have had the means necessary to stimulate economic activity. In addition, thanks to this suspension of payments that lasted until March 2005, Argentina was able to impose a 50% reduction of this debt on its creditors.

The CADTM, as well as numerous social movements and leftist parties proposed to Argentina to abolish, not only the debt that concerned private creditors, but also the IMF and other public creditors. The Argentine government did not follow this recommendation.

It is important to note that Argentina has also suspended payment of $6.5 billion to the Paris Club since 2001. So we see that twelve years later Argentina is still holding out against the Paris Club. In spite of the 44 law suits brought before the World Bank and recent threats of expulsion from the IMF, Buenos Aires maintains its position. Argentina has not borrowed on the financial markets since 2001, but the country continues to function!

The Argentine experience must not be misinterpreted. It is not to be taken as an example, and we always need to adopt a frankly critical point of view. The Argentine government has maintained Argentina within the bounds of capitalism, no structural reforms have been undertaken, Argentine economic growth is largely based on the extraction and the exportation of primary products (genetically modified soya beans, ores,…). Nevertheless, what Argentina has demonstrated is that saying “No” to the creditors is possible. Elsewhere, an authentic left-wing government could go much further on the basis of this precedent.

Ecuador: audit and suspension of payment

Ecuador gives us another example. In July 2007, seven months after his election, the Ecuadorian President Raphael Correa decided to instigate an audit of the country’s debt and the conditions in which it was contracted. An audit commission, made up of 18 experts including the CADTM, was created for this purpose. Its final report was presented after 14 months of investigation. It showed in particular that numerous loans had been contracted in violation of basic rules. In November 2008, the new administration, on the basis of this report decided to suspend the repayment of bonds payable in 2012 and 2030. Finally, the government of this small country came out on top in the tussle with North American bankers and those holding Ecuadorian securities. It repurchased bonds for less than $1 billion, which had a nominal value of $3.2 billion. Public finance thus saved $2.2 billion dollars of debt stock to which must be added $200 million a year (between 2008 and 2030) in interest payments. This allowed the government to allocate more means to social projects in health, education, social assistance, and communication infrastructure development. The Ecuadorian constitution now prohibits private debt from being transformed into public debt and illegitimate debt from being contracted. |5|

In addition, Ecuador no longer recognises the World Bank’s jurisdiction in international disputes court. It has rejected free trade treaty propositions from the US and UE. The Ecuadorian President has announced his intention to audit the current bi-lateral investment treaties. Finally, the Quito authorities have put an end to the US military presence on its territory.

In the case of Ecuador, we must again be careful not to hold up this ongoing experience as a model to be emulated. Critical analysis remains indispensable. Nonetheless, the Ecuadorian audit and unilateral suspension of payments experience shows that saying “No” to creditors is perfectly possible, and there are advantages to be gained in terms of making more means available for public health, education, and other sectors.

Iceland’: refusal to pay the demands made by the Netherlands and the UK

After its banking system collapsed in 2008, Iceland refused to compensate the British and Dutch savers who had put deposits amounting to €3.9 billion into subsidiaries of Iceland’s failed private banks. The British and Dutch authorities covered the losses to their citizens and presented the bill to Iceland. Under popular pressure (demonstrations, occupations, and referendums), the Reykjavik authorities refused to pay. Britain put Iceland on its terrorist list, froze its assets and, in conjunction with the Netherlands, sued Iceland the EFTA court. |6| Meanwhile, Iceland has completely blocked the outflow of capital. In the end, Iceland is faring better than the other European countries that accepted the conditions imposed by creditors. Here again we must not present Iceland as a model to be imitated, but learn from its experience.

These examples demonstrate that saying “NO” to creditors leads neither to catastrophe nor to the collapse of a country.

We must also recall that these experiences were preceded or accompanied by a popular movement that put pressure on the governments concerned. It is therefore important, as Eric Toussaint reminded us, that knowledge of this at times, complex question must conveyed to the whole of the population. The task of a public audit is to raise public awareness. The illegitimacy of public debt must become visible to the majority of people.

To conclude this workshop, Eric Toussaint repeated that the above examples are not to be taken to as political models to be followed, but that these experiences are a source of important political lessons!

Translation : Mike Krolikowski and Charles La Via


|1| See Pauline Imbach, “Tunis: Birth of a Common Front of Political Organisations Against Debt”,…, published 25 March 2013.

|2| See Eric Toussaint, “Remembering Ahmed Ben Bella, first President of independent Algeria who passed away on the 11th April, 2012 at 96”,…, 12 April 2012.

|3| See CADTM,, and in particular Stéphanie Jacquemont, “Que retenir du rapport de l’expert de l’ONU sur la dette et les droits humains ?”,… , 25 January 2013 (articles in French only).


|5| See Eric Toussaint, “La Constitution équatorienne : un modèle en matière d’endettement public”,… , 27 December, 2010 (in French only).

|6| The EFTA (European Free Trade Association) court, which is in no way a progressive organisation, has judged in favour of Iceland’s position. See CADTM, “EFTA court dismisses ’Icesave’ claims against Iceland and its people”,…, 29 January 2013.

Is Fukushima Leaking … Or Are the the Reactors Wholly Uncontained?

You may have heard that Tepco – the operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plants – announced a large leak of radioactive water.

You may have heard that the cooling system in the spent fuel pools at Fukushima has failed for a second time in a month.

This is newsworthy stuff … but completely misses the big picture.

Japanese experts say that Fukushima is currently releasing up to 93 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium into the ocean each day.

How much radiation is this?

A quick calculation shows that it is about ten thousand times less than the amounts released by Chernobyl during the actual fire at the Russian nuclear plant.   But the Chernobyl fire only last 10 days … and the Fukushima release has been ongoing for more than 2 years so far.

Indeed, Fukushima has already spewed much more radioactive cesium and iodine than Chernobyl. The amount of radioactive cesium released by Fukushima was some 20-30 times higher than initially admitted.

Fukushima also pumped out huge amounts of radioactive iodine 129 – which has a half-life of 15.7 million years. Fukushima has also dumped up to 900 trillion becquerels of radioactive strontium-90 – which is a powerful internal emitter which mimics calcium and collects in our bones – into the ocean.

And the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl … and so could keep leaking for decades, centuries or millenia.

Tepco graphics of the Fukushima plants even appear to show water directly flowing from the plant to the ocean.  See this and this.

The bottom line is that the reactors have lost containment.  There are not “some leaks” at Fukushima.  “Leaks” imply that the reactor cores are safely in their containment buildings, and there is a small hole or two which need to be plugged.   But scientists don’t even know where the cores of the reactors are.   That’s not leaking. That’s even worse than a total meltdown.

So what are the consequences for people living outside of Fukushima itself?

They could be quite severe, indeed.

A few days ago I mentioned the great challenges humanity is currently facing. Intelligent life emerged on our planet approximately 200,000 years ago, although new discoveries demonstrate something else.

This is not to confuse intelligent life with the existence of life which, from its elemental forms in our solar system, emerged millions of years ago.

A virtually infinite number of life forms exist. In the sophisticated work of the world’s most eminent scientists the idea has already been conceived of reproducing the sounds which followed the Big Bang, the great explosion which took place more than 13.7 billion years ago.

This introduction would be too extensive if it was not to explain the gravity of an event as unbelievable and absurd as the situation created in the Korean Peninsula, within a geographic area containing close to five billion of the seven billion persons currently inhabiting the planet.

This is about one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war since the October Crisis around Cuba in 1962, 50 years ago.

In 1950, a war was unleashed there [the Korean Peninsula] which cost millions of lives. It came barely five years after two atomic bombs were exploded over the defenseless cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which, in a matter of seconds, killed and irradiated hundreds of thousands of people.

General Douglas MacArthur wanted to utilize atomic weapons against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Not even Harry Truman allowed that.

It has been affirmed that the People’s Republic of China lost one million valiant soldiers in order to prevent the installation of an enemy army on that country’s border with its homeland. For its part, the Soviet army provided weapons, air support, technological and economic aid.

I had the honor of meeting Kim Il Sung, a historic figure, notably courageous and revolutionary.

If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba has always been and will continue to be with her.

Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet.

If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States. The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States.

The latest interview of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad. (Turkish network TV)

We invite Global Research readers to listen to the statement of president Al Assad (Gr. Ed. M. Ch.)

Syrian President Bashar Assad warned in comments broadcast Friday April 5, 2013 that the fall of the Syrian government or the breakup of his nation will cause a “domino effect” that will fuel Middle East instability for years, in his sharpest warning yet about the potential fallout of his country’s civil war on neighboring states.

In an interview with the Turkish TV station Ulusal Kanal broadcast Friday, Syrian President Assad accused his neighbors of stoking the revolt against his government, saying “we are surrounded by countries that help terrorists and allow them to enter Syria.”

But he warned that those same countries may eventually pay a price down the road.

“Everybody knows that if the disturbances in Syria reach the point of the country’s breakup, or terrorist forces control Syria, or if the two cases happen, then this will immediately spill over into neighboring countries first, and later there will be a domino effect that will reach countries across the Middle East,” he said.

He also lashed out at Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was a close ally of Assad before the crisis began but then turned into one of his harshest critics.

“When the prime minister (Erdogan), or the government or officials get involved in shedding Syrian people’s blood there is no place for bridges between me and them or the Syrian people that don’t respect them,” Assad said.

Turkey has been one of the strongest backers of the Syrian Islamist “opposition,” and has provided it with logistical support and shelter.

“The Arab League lacks legitimacy. It’s a league that represents the Arab states, not the Arab people, so it can’t grant or retract legitimacy,” he also stated in reference to the recent move by the league to give Syria’s seat to the Doha coalition headed by Moaz al-Khatib.

The president also used the interview to quash rumors that he had been killed by one of his guards in the capital Damascus.

Asked by a journalist whether he is still alive, Assad told Ulusal Kanal: “I am present in front of you and not in a shelter. These are mere rumors.”

He said he is living as usual in Syria and is not hiding in underground shelters.

Source: Ulusal Kanal

The US economy added 88,000 jobs in March, far fewer than the previous month and less than half the total economists had predicted, according to the Labor Department’s latest jobs report. The figures point to deepening slump in the United States and the continuing high levels of joblessness, even as the government launches a new round of austerity.

According to the Labor Department’s report, a staggering 496,000 people dropped out of the labor force in March, presumably for the most part because they concluded that work was not available. Perversely, this brought the official unemployment rate—based on the number of people recently and actively looking for work–down to 7.6 percent.

The March figures were the first reported since the beginning of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, which are being phased in gradually. Some 7,000 government jobs were lost during the month, adding to the more than 700,000 such jobs eliminated since 2008.

While the sequester cuts are only beginning to be felt, over one million federal workers are set to begin furloughs this month. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the sequester cuts are going to result in the equivalent of 750,000 full-time job losses throughout the US economy.

Chart showing the fall in the proportion of US workers in the labor market

Stock values fell on the unexpectedly bad jobless figures, closing the worst weekly performance for the S&P 500 so far this year. For the week, the S&P 500 was down by one percent, and nearly every major global stock index declined even more.

March’s disastrous jobs report accompanies equally bad news from the other side of the Atlantic, as economic activity in the euro zone shrank again last month, raising fears of yet another quarterly contraction.

Earlier this week, the Japanese central bank responded to that country’s continued economic stagnation by initiating a $1.4 trillion money-creation program that has the effect of devaluing the country’s currency and boosting the competitive position of its national industry.

The White House responded to the worst jobs figures in almost a year with its typical refrain about a mythical economic recovery, stating that “today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”

Meanwhile, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits jumped to a four-month high, the US Labor Department said Thursday. The number of people seeking jobless pay rose by 28,000 last week, to 385,000.

But even as more people line up for unemployment insurance, benefits are being slashed. Starting this month, pay to recipients of extended unemployment benefits is being cut back by 11 percent, as a result of the sequester cuts.

The Labor Department also said that the percentage of working-age people who are in the labor force fell to 63.3 percent, the lowest level of the current downturn and the lowest level since 1979, before tens of millions of women entered the workforce.

Over the first quarter of this year, the US economy has created 168,000 new jobs per month. It needs to create about 150,000 jobs every month to keep up with population growth.

As the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) noted in its commentary on this month’s figures, the first quarter’s job creation rate “is not even close to adequate; at that rate, we would not return to the prerecession unemployment rate until late 2019. To get back to the pre-recession unemployment rate in three years, we would need to add 320,000 jobs every single month–almost double our current rate.”

Commentators pointed out the increasing absurdity of an official unemployment rate that drops any time the employment situation worsens. The EPI’s Heidi Shierholz noted that, if the actual labor force is compared to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the “potential labor force,” there are 4 million people “missing” because they believe no jobs are available.

“If those workers were in the labor force looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 9.8 percent instead of 7.6 percent,” she concluded. “Currently, the unemployment rate is hugely underestimating the amount of labor market slack.”

Wages, meanwhile, continue to stagnate. Average hourly wages have increased by only 1.8 percent over the course of the past year. Meanwhile consumer prices grew by 2 percent, meaning that real wages fell. Median household incomes in the United States have fallen 5.6 per cent since 2009, when the figure was over $56,000, to $51,404 in the beginning of this year.

Most of the jobs being created pay lower wages than those eliminated during the crash. The Financial Times reported this week that the US has lost two million well-paying clerical jobs since 2007, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In contrast to the destruction of these relatively well-paying jobs, the newspaper reported that a number of low-paid employment categories have grown significantly since the crash. For instance, the number of personal care aides in the United States has grown by 390,000 since 2007. The newspaper noted that the average wage for clerical work was $34,410 annually, compared to $24,550 for personal care and even less for a typical food service job.

Continuing mass unemployment and falling wages, on the one hand, and the systematic destruction of government jobs and the slashing of unemployment benefits, on the other, are by no means coincidental. Far from responding to the situation with any move to combat unemployment, the Obama Administration is carrying out a policy that will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs while dramatically worsening the conditions of life for workers and the unemployed.

The White House, working together with the Republicans, is deliberately seeking to use the high unemployment stemming from the crisis that erupted in 2008 to drive down the wages and living standards of workers, aiming directly to boost the profits of major corporations and incomes of the super-rich.

Fears of war remained high on the Korean peninsula, amid continuing military exercises by both the United States and North Korea, after revelations Thursday that the crisis was following a “playbook” of US escalations prepared months ago by the Obama administration.

Yesterday, Washington released pictures of American F-22 stealth fighters participating in the ongoing “Foal Eagle” US-South Korean military exercises. In recent weeks, it has sent guided missile warships and flown nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 heavy bombers to Korea, claiming this was intended to prove US “nuclear deterrence” capabilities.

Citing intercepted communications and satellite imagery, US officials said that the North Korean regime in Pyongyang was preparing to launch a medium-range Musudan missile from its eastern coast. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told the parliament in Seoul that signaled an imminent “military drill.”

US officials told CNN that they also believed the missile launch was a test, and not preparation to launch an attack at targets in the United States or US-allied states like Japan or South Korea. The Musudan missile reportedly has a range of 2,500 miles, meaning that it can reach as far as Japan, but cannot hit Hawaii, let alone the mainland United States.

Nonetheless, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stressed that North Korean threats to Guam, Hawaii, and the US mainland had to be taken “seriously.”

In a column titled “No, North Korea can’t hit Hawaii,” James Hardy—the Asia-Pacific editor for Jane’s Defense Weekly —effectively rebutted Hagel’s claims. Hardy wrote, “Unless there has been a miraculous turnaround among North Korea’s strategic forces, there is little to no chance that it could successfully land a missile on Guam, Hawaii, or anywhere else outside the Korean Peninsula that US forces may be stationed.”

Commenting on North Korea’s missile program, Hardy noted the likelihood that Washington “is using its existence as an excuse to ramp up their Asia-Pacific-facing missile defenses.” He noted that this would “tie into Washington’s ‘pivot’ plans for the Asia-Pacific, but would not be lost on China, which has already signaled its lack of enthusiasm for any such moves.”

The official account, parroted by the Western media, which presents US actions as a response to threatened attack from Pyongyang, is fraudulent. In reality, the North Korean regime—isolated, spied upon, vastly outclassed militarily by the US and its allies and dependent on China for key food and fuel supplies—faces a relentless campaign of escalation led by Washington.

While this poses a very real risk of a clash along the highly-militarized North Korean-South Korean border, escalating into a confrontation between the US and China, Pyongyang is hardly capable of directly threatening the United States. Rather, Washington is using this crisis to whip Pyongyang and the Chinese regime in Beijing into line.

China has emerged as the most powerful country blocking US imperialism’s global plans, holding massive US debt and blocking UN actions aimed at justifying war against Syria and Iran. Since the Korean War, a keystone of its foreign policy has been using North Korea as a buffer between US-backed South Korea and its own territory. In pressing the newly-installed, divided Chinese Communist Party leadership on the North Korean issue, Washington hopes to broadly turn around Chinese foreign policy in its favor.

Beijing is reportedly enforcing at least some UN sanctions it helped pass last month against Pyongyang, thus intensifying the crisis of the North Korean regime.

US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden called on Pyongyang “to heed President Obama’s call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations. Threats and provocations will not bring North Korea the security, international respect, and economic development it seeks.”

In comments to CNN yesterday, anonymous US Defense Department officials made clear that, while they were maintaining military pressure on Pyongyang, they also aimed to create more advantageous conditions for negotiations.

One official said, “We are trying to turn the volume down.” According to CNN, this change “referred to public statements by the Obama administration, instead of how US military hardware was being deployed in the region.” That is, aggressive deployments of US bombers and warships amid the two-month-long Foal Eagle military exercises would continue.

However, the official explained, “We are absolutely trying to ratchet back the rhetoric. We became part of the cycle. We allowed that to happen.”

After effectively admitting that Washington’s military gestures had ratcheted up the tensions in Korea, US officials absurdly implied that this was not a deliberate policy and that they had been surprised by the outcome. Citing its defense sources, CNN wrote that “some Pentagon officials were surprised at how US news releases and statements on North Korea were generating world headlines and therefore provoking a Pyongyang response.”

Another US defense official said, “We accused the North Koreans of amping things up, now we are worried that we did the same thing.”

These claims are simply not credible. Washington has been deploying heavy bombers and other high-tech forces to Korea, announcing that they were aimed at proving US nuclear capabilities, implicitly threatening nuclear war that could annihilate North Korea and involve the US in a war with China. It was obvious that this would massively escalate military tensions in Asia and “generate world headlines.”

Yesterday, North Korea warned select foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it could not guarantee their safety in the event of war, suggesting they consider evacuation. The Russian and British embassies decided not to evacuate their staff, however.

In a statement broadcast Thursday by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) said, “No one can say whether a war will break out or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrow. The responsibility for this grave situation rests entirely with the US administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK’s sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic.”

In fact, the reactionary Pyongyang bureaucracy would be eager to re-establish ties based on exploiting the cheap labor of North Korean workers to build up an export industry. However, it has not been able to negotiate an agreement with all the major powers on how to carry out such a shift in policy, given the explosive geo-strategic conflicts in the region. Moreover, there are fears in sections of the regime, notably the army, that the abandonment of Pyongyang’s current Songun “military-first” policy would come at their expense.

It appears that the US escalation was in part also aimed at showing South Korea and Japan that Washington remains committed to exercising military hegemony in Asia. One US military official told CNN, “Eyebrows started to go up when it was clear that Foal Eagle was going to be protected from the budget cuts of sequestration”—a series of US government spending cuts that went into effect in March.

That is, while trillions of dollars in long-term cuts were being forced on American workers, causing mass furloughs and cuts in essential social services, Washington was careful to maintain its ability to wage a devastating war in Asia.

Recent developments serve to highlight the dire state of human rights within Israeli detention centres. Only yesterday (Tuesday 2nd April 2013) allegations were rife that the death of Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, who was serving a life-sentence in an Israeli prison, occurred as a result of being denied the proper medical treatment his throat cancer required. Two-months ago, Arafat Jaradat, another Palestinian prisoner died as a result of the torture he had endured whilst held captive in an Israeli prison and less than a week after his arrest. His death threatened to ignite a third Palestinian uprising but the Palestinian Authority was able to manage the understandable outpouring of emotion.

Another example concerns Samer Al-Issawi, whom began a hunger-strike approximately 250 days ago, despite doctors warning of the possibility of death at any moment. Akin to many other Palestinian prisoners who have gone on hunger-strike the motivation for Al-Issawi’s actions can be seen as a form of protest in opposition to the suffering encountered by Palestinians within Israeli prisons. What happened to Jaradat is now happening to Samer al-Issawi is representative of the daily suffering encountered by the 4,700 Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons – some of whom have been imprisoned for more than twenty-five years. Statistics reveal that the number of Palestinians detained by Israel since 1967 has risen to approximately 800,000. Many Palestinian prisoners have been arrested and subsequently held ‘without charge or trial that is authorized by administrative order rather than by judicial decree’[1] as well being subjected to physical and psychological torture, which violates international humanitarian law.

Israel is the only country in the world where the use of torture is seemingly openly legitimized by its judiciary, up to and including the Israeli Supreme Court – the highest judicial authority in Israel. For example, Israeli interrogators and various security services are licensed to continue torturing prisoners and detainees as they are safe in the knowledge that they are unlikely to be held accountable for their actions. The various forms of torture that Palestinian prisoners have been forced to endure has been well-documented within various Palestinian human rights groups’ reports. Some of the 56 types of torture will be covered within this Report.

It is noticeable that the torture of Palestinian prisoners begins upon the moment of their arrest until their arrival at the Israeli detention centres: through a brutal beating by batons, rifle butts etc. often accompanied by a traditional shoe-stomping. The renunciation of detainees access to their family, or even a lawyer is immediately enforced, a policy which is clearly in contravention of principle (16) of the United Nations Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners as approved in 1990.

No part of the body is left untouched when these customary beatings are carried out en route to the detention centres, with particular attention being paid to the upper parts of body and the head. The Palestinian prisoners are also regularly burnt with cigarette butts and have their hands and feet tied together, as well as being blindfolded. Another method of torture that the Palestinian prisoners are subjected to is electrocution. All of these crimes against humanity violate Article (33) of the minimum procedures system for the treatment of prisoners, as adopted by United Nations in 1955.

During detention, captives face several methods of torture, such as instances in which detainees: hands and feet are tied together; they are deprived of food and sleep whilst being kept in isolation and solitary confinement; threats are made against the safety of captives family members; cold water is poured on detainees in the winter; and they are thrown in torture rooms, in order to extract confessions deceptively. All these crimes are contrary to Article (12) in the minimum procedures system for the treatment of prisoners cited above. The religious rights of Palestinian prisoners are also restricted within Israeli prisons. Prisoners are also notably denied adequate medical care – a cause of great concern for those prisoners suffering from fatal illnesses such as cancer, as was the case with Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, as well as those suffering from heart, lung, kidney and spinal diseases. Moreover, there are numerous cases in which the condition of detainees suffering with neurological and psychological diseases has subsequently deteriorated as result of the absence of adequate medical provisions. Reports have even gone as far to accuse Israel of conducting biological and medical tests against inmates.

There are other means of torture that Israel has long being accused of, prompting the conclusion that the wide use of torture within Israeli prisons effectively sentences the Palestinian prisoners to their death beds!! Again let me reiterate the point that the death of Arafat Jaradat was a result of physical torture which he suffered at the hands of Israelis on 24/2/2013 less than one week after his detention. His death is only one of the more recent cases in which Palestinian prisoners have died as a result of dubious Israeli actions that commonly occur within the prisons. Put simply, as estimated by Palestinian statistics: there have been approximately 180 Palestinian prisoners that have died at the hands of Israeli brutality since 1967 until 2010.

In return for this tragic reality shouldered by Palestinian prisoners and even the Palestinian people as whole, Israel considers itself exempt from the jurisdiction of international law and the guidance of international conventions. For a number of reasons Israel is able to shield itself from human-rights defenders across the international community whom should be seeking to hold Israeli officials accountable for the level of suffering the Palestinian people encounter at the hands of a brutal occupying force. Israel is arguably exempt from strong condemnation over its treatment of the Palestinian people as a result of certain international human rights organizations ability to ignore Israeli violations against the Palestinians. It would appear that so-called defenders of human rights across the globe overlook the abuses in Israeli prisons, which range from: the killing of Palestinians; the unlawful arrest detention, torture and displacement of Palestinians; the “Judaization” of Occupied Palestinian Territories, as illustrated by the illegal construction of Israeli settlements and the prevention of Palestinian prisoners from practicing their religious beliefs.

Sadly certain international human rights organizations appear to have fallen into the trap of selectively interpreting whether certain instances of human rights abuses are deemed worthy of a response; leaving themselves susceptible to the accusation that they are in fact guilty of “double standards” when it comes to defending human-rights across the globe. This glum reality has been exemplified by the significant amount of attention to cast to human-rights standards across the Arab World whilst appearing to turn a blind-eye to Israel’s inglorious treatment of the Palestinian people. International human rights organizations often seem to compete with each other in their efforts to condemn and criticize Arab countries, as illustrated by the rallying of support for messages to be sent to world leaders asking them to intervene to stop these violations in certain Arab countries. Whereas, when it comes to Israel and its violations against the Palestinian people, as it turns out, tongues are gagged and the crying and wailing of humanitarian organizations turns to grave silence!!

If international human rights organisations were sincere in their desire to defend individual human rights objectively, one would assume that the Israeli Prime Minister and the Israeli Government would be widely condemned for Israel’s ruthless suppression of the Palestinian people. However, this has not been the case, as illustrated by the contrasting position adopted by international human rights organisations towards the Palestinian prisoners in particular, and the Israeli violations against the Palestinians rights in general.

In terms of quantity, we finds that organizations such as: Amnesty International, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch, have releases several publications against Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel and Palestine, distributed in numbers between those countries. The following table reveals the number of  publications to have been published by each human-rights organisation on the Palestinian prisoners during the period from January 2011 to March 2013:



Amnesty International

Human Rights First

Human Rights Watch





Saudi Arabia








Israel and Palestine




This table shows the following:

  • Human Rights First is the organization which has issued the highest number of publications against any state. Furthermore, it has issued 182 publications against Bahrain; while by contrast, it has not issued one single publication was issued against Israel in a two-year period, as cited above, from 2011-2013.
  • Among the 204 publications issued by Human Rights Watch against the four states, only 30 were issued against Israel.
  • Among the 145 publications issued by Amnesty International against the four states, only 27 were issued against Israel.

In terms of content, all publications issued by these organizations are remarkably biased when they related to Israel. It is worth mentioning that although Human Rights Watch’s annual report for 2013 pointed to the various Israeli violations committed during its military campaign on the Gaza Strip in November 2012, the annual report blurred the lines between the true victim (Palestinians) and the criminal (Israel).

According to “Tom Porteous,” deputy program director for the Middle East: “Both the Israeli and the Palestinian authorities have committed gross violations to human rights”. The implication is that Israel somehow has the right to kill hundreds of Palestinian citizens on the grounds of national security, but the Palestinian people must be silent and submissive to the occupation. This particular report released by Human Rights Watch is clearly biased in favour of Israel when it claims that the Palestinian resistance is guilty of having breached the laws of war by launching missiles against the Israeli civilians. This is to say that the report gives Israel the grounds to justify committing more massacres and crimes against the Palestinians, rather than pressing Israel to stop such abuses and put an end to its occupation and its blockade on the Gaza Strip that has had such a devastating effect on those Palestinians being denied access to vital medicines, nutrition and other life necessities.

If ever any of these publications actually called for the ending of Israeli violations, there were scant attempts to directly or indeed indirectly condemn any Israeli official. The lack of dynamism exerted towards holding Israeli officials to account for the crimes being committed against the Palestinians is sharply contrasted by the energy given towards tackling the status of human rights in the Arab states. There has been a growing momentum with regards to the number of the messages and statements issued and delivered by the organizations to the head of the state and the ministers in the Arab States mentioned above. Messages of intent were even sent to some of world leaders and the Secretary-General of the United Nations – urging them to put pressure on the leaders of these Arab States to improve their human rights records.

These above mentioned facts raise a significant question: On what basis have these organizations decided to issue a larger number of reports against the three Arab States? It is puzzling that only one fifth of these reports have focused on Israel and the need to condemn the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). How Human Rights First can disregard Israeli violations altogether is even more alarming.

These troubling dilemmas underline some important arguments; namely, these organizations are not totally concerned with the rights of all Arabs. This underlying conclusion highlights the general performance flaws that these organizations are guilty of, including the “double standards” adopted by these organizations concerning human rights issues on the international level in general, and the regional level in particular. These organisations have often tried to cast doubt upon the credibility of the improvements in human rights in the Arab region, particularly, the gulf region; in addition to defending those who violate the rights of others under the pretext of protecting their liberties. Perhaps, the Israeli model in Palestine is best proof of that.

Although it is assumed that the focus of these organizations is geared towards strengthening peace and human rights in an objective manner. However, on occasion these organisations have exercised a degree of degree of bias towards certain actors operating within the Gulf, elevating certain opposition activists’ political agendas above others, which in turn inflames internal and regional political tensions. This error of judgment undermines the credibility of the work being produced – as the basis of their investigative research is arguably somewhat one-sided. As revealed within their published material, the aforementioned international human-rights organisations have an overriding concern with political aspects rather than concentrating on the humanitarian aspect. Instead of working on calming things down by focusing on humanitarian violations, the prioritization of selective political aspects has the undesirable impact of inflaming tensions on the ground.

In conclusion, the information provided sheds clear day-light on certain non-governmental, human-rights organizations’ efforts to develop specific systems on a regional, country-by-country basis. This ignores the basic pretext of what these organizations should base their work around – i.e. the conventions and treaties of international humanitarian law. Thus, action should be taken regardless of whom the perpetrator is. In light of the aforementioned international human rights organisation’s shortcomings, with Israel to some extent bizarrely let off the hook, these organizations should change their mechanisms so as not to deviate from their supposed objectives (i.e. defending human rights across the globe).

[1] B’Tselem (2013) ‘Administrative Detention.’ (online) Available: (accessed 2.4.13)

They seemed more than any other people to love their children”  – Bartolomé de las Casas

In Guatemala the trial of Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt and his military intelligence chief, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, proceeds with testimonies of surviving Mayan victims1 ; a soldier has given testimony implicating the current President of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina, a major at the time, in crimes of the Ixil area under his responsibility.2 The trial can be followed online at

In rural Iowa, the Muscatine Journal3 finds the degree of the crime horrifying, noting the U.S. military contributed 90% of the Guatemalan army’s resources. The New York Times op. ed page,4 notes that the terrible details of what was done to Mayan victims aren’t likely to dignify them. As the horror under Ríos Montt’s rule is revealed in the States, any link to the military regime’s motive is ignored. The reason for the campaign of exterminating Mayan Indians appears to be military: native communities were accused of providing shelter for a guerrilla movement.

The United Fruit Company overthrow of elected President Arbenz, referred to as a CIA takeover, secured growing-land. The United Fruit Company’s motive was purely profit, which increases with an absence of local resistance, and increases again when there isn’t appropriate compensation to the peoples whose lands are used for foreign profits.

Throughout the Caribbean the barbarities of the New World’s discovery were initially fueled by the greed for gold: in the early 1500′s the genocide of the Arawak people was firmly established; they were forced to mine gold under such intolerable conditions that great numbers committed suicide. Other groups had resisted naked with wooden swords: the mayhem which wearied Spanish soldiers by the end of each day, cleared land for plantation use.

Guatemala’s former dictator Ríos Montt and General Sánchez are now on trial, five hundred years later, for genocide of Ixil Mayan Indians from 1982 to 1983. The trial is the first to question in a court of the Americas, Christianity’s and Europe’s history on this side of the ocean. After immunity as a Guatemalan Senator, a very old general who has outlasted his firmly diabolical strength is finally called to account for the ongoing crime so deep in North, Central and South America that we can’t see ourselves reflected in its mirror.

Ríos Montt was strongly supported by U.S. President Reagan, and Ríos Montt’s alleged crime as the country’s leader is contained compared to the crimes of former Presidents Bush and former Prime Minister Blair, whose victims have become an entire people of Iraq, mostly Muslims. Guatemala is honouring its commitment to the Convention on Genocide, which the U.S. and Canada have attempted to render inapplicable domestically.5

Ríos Montt supporters have demonstrated outside the trial insisting “There was no genocide,” while within the courthouse the judge must consider deaths of possibly 300,000 Mayan Indians, overwhelming evidence from previous international deliberations and current devastating testimonies. Disturbingly the protest is accompanied by the March 17th kidnapping of four Indigenous leaders and execution of one of them. The Xinca people are opposing Escobal silver mine, owned by Canada’s Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources. The company is attempting to extract resources, against the wishes of the majority of the area’s Indian population.

And days before a High Court decision allowed the genocide trial to proceed6 , on March 15th, Guatemala’s highest court sided with the mining corporations against indigenous people by affirming the Mining Law of 1997 which denies indigenous people their voice in the use and disposition of their lands. Mining Watch Canada points out the ruling contravenes not only the Guatemalan Peace Accords, the American Convention on Human Rights, the International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 “on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples,” but also the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The case will now go to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.7

While Guatemala’s trial of Ríos Montt on charges of genocide provides North Americans with an introduction to awareness, the same dynamic to control land and resources is reflected in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Haiti, among other countries of the Americas. Its parallels in the U.S. and Canada are masked in long established economic controls.

In Argentina, seven military and security personnel were recently convicted of “crimes against humanity within the context of genocide.”8 The country’s former dictator, General Jorge Rafael Videla, is on trial for the war crimes during his participation in “Operation Condor.” Already sentenced to life in prison for other war crimes, on March 17th he publicly threatened the current government with a military led uprising.9 Videla represents a rule by terror which proved acceptable to the middle classes and was essentially coordinated by and at the service of U.S. and global corporate interests. Information on the current trial is becoming increasingly difficult to find and is currently entirely suppressed by the news media. The issue dropped from coverage shortly after selection of Pope Francis (of Argentina).

Claims of the new Pope’s collaboration with the Videla government’s crimes are contested by the Church. Evidence from the indictment and trial of Videla and his intelligence chief for their responsibilities under Operation Condor, may encourage trials in Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, among countries involved in a military program which exterminated dissidents and leftists throughout South and Central America.

In Brazil, the ecologists continue to be murdered. A trial of three men accused in the Marabá (state of Para) ambush murders of Jose Claudio da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo (previous) has begun. The couple were part of a long standing campaign to stop logging and slave labour in the region. The Brazilian Communications Company suggests motive for the killings was the intention to clear the land of a native settlement.10 The murders were followed by ten others within three months. Since 1964 nearly a thousand church, legal workers and campesinos have been killed in the struggle against large landowners and logging concerns, among them the American nun, Dorothy Stang, whose killers were eventually prosecuted.11

In Peru, Indigenous peoples of the North are in ongoing protest of North American mining interests. 84% of Peru’s Amazonian forest is leased to oil and gas concessions. The government has declared a national environmental emergency due to metal and chemical contamination of the Peruvian Amazon’s Pastaza River.12

In Honduras, recent video evidence from a warehouse surveillance camera shows the death squad murder of two students and attempted murder of three others. No charges were laid.13 Since a military coup at the service of the Honduran elite and U.S. interests, over a hundred dissidents and community leaders have been murdered (extensive background14).

In Haiti, Jean-Claude Duvalier’s return in 2011 was met with charges of both financial and human rights crimes. The court refused to try him for crimes against humanity, claiming their statute of limitations under Haitian law has expired. An appeal was brought which may reinstate the charges of human rights crimes. Duvalier briefly appeared before the court February 28th, then entered a hospital. Witness testimony explored the abuse and torture of prisoners. The court is currently adjourned until April 11th. Victim witnesses wait to stand for their most basic human rights.

In Mexico, while Monsanto Corporation has 40,000 U.S. acres planted with its genetically modified seed, it is attempting to plant 700,000 hectares in Mexico’s Sinaloa state.15

Concerning El-Salvador, in the U.S. Julie Preston of The New York Times, has taken the Justice Department to court to obtain immigration and trial records for Gen. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, a resident of Florida. Gen.Vides was in charge of El Salvador’s National Guard and subsequently its Minister of Defense, through the years 1979-1989. The “Salvadoran option” exported for use in Iraq was developed under Gen. Vides. His responsibility for disappearances, torture, death squad killings and other crimes as well as the murder of American citizens, has been questioned by various U.S. courts. His defense has argued he was doing what the U.S. needed him to in the ‘war on communism.’ In 2009 the Department of Homeland Security called for his deportation and in a case pressed by Immigration’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, on February 12th, 2012, the judge of an immigration court agreed.16 It was under Gen. Vides, that four U.S. Catholic Church workers, Sr. Dorothy Kazel, Sr. Maura Clarke, Sr. Ita Ford, and Jean Donovan, were tortured, raped and executed by El Salvadoran National Guardsman, December 2, 1980.

The basic mechanism and motivation of a genocide now being brought to judgement in Guatemala, is mirrored in injustices throughout the Americas. The crimes and cruelties of atrocities against the innocent are almost beyond the North American public’s ability to process, yet they accompany European history of the Americas since “discovery.” With the shift in perspective which calls to account a norm of genocide masquerading under different names, the power elite is no longer safe from direct accountability to the people.


1 “Faces covered, rape victinms testify at trial of Guatemala’s former military strongman,” Sonia Perez-Diaz (AP), April 2, 2013, Leader-Post.

2 “Testigo implica a Otto Pérez Molina en juicio por genocidio,” J.Ramos, S. Valdez, B. Vásquez, April 5, 2013, Prensa Latina.

3 “A Guatemalan tyrant faces justice at last,” Mary Sanchez, April 1, 2013, Muscatine Journal.

4 “On the Brink of Justice in Guatemala,” Anita Isaacs, March 27, 2013, The New York Times.

5 “North American game plans and the Convention on Genocide,” John Bart Gerald, May 23, 2012,

6 On March 13, 2013, the Guatemalan Court of Constitutionality denied Ríos Montt amnesty (nights lantern).

7 “Guatemala’s Highest Court Denies Justice to Indigenous Peoples Affected by Mining,” CIEL / CPO, March 15, 2013, Mining Watch Canada.

8 “Argentine court jails seven for genocide crimes,” March 23, 2013, 9News World.

9 “‘The military will prevent CFK from perpetuating in power,’ Videla,” March 17, 2013, Buenas Aires Herald.

10 ” Suspected killers of ecologists on trial in Brazil,” Agence Free Press, April 3, 2013,; “Trial starts for killing of Brazil activists,” AlJazeera, April 3, 2013, Yahoo! News; “Parentes confirmam em depoimento no júri que havia ameaça a extrativistas assassinados,” Alex Rodrigues / Agência Brasil, April 3, 2013, Empresa Brasil de Comunicação.

11 “July 27, 201,” 2010 suppressed news, [access:< >]

12 “After decades of turning a blind eye, Peru declares state of emergency due to oil contamination in Amazon,” Jeremy Hance, March 26, 2013,

13 “Will Congress Act to Stop US Support for Honduras’ Death Squad Regime?” Mark Weisbrot, April 3, 2013, .

14 Sequential background (links to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

15 “El plan de conquista de Monsanto enfrenta la resistencia azteca,” Laura Carlsen, Feb. 18, 2013, ap programa de las américas.

16 “Records Sought on Alleged Death Squad Leader,” Robert Kahn, April 3, 2013, Courthouse News Service; “Torture Victims in El Salvador Speak Out,” Edgardo Ayala, March 26, 2013, Upside Down World; “Salvadoran May Face Deporation for Murders,” Julia Preston, Feb. 23, 2012, The New York Times.

Putting the Squeeze on North Korea

April 6th, 2013 by Gregory Elich

 Tensions are escalating since North Korea’s launch of a satellite into orbit on December 12, 2012. Overwrought news reports termed the launch a “threat” and a “provocation,” while U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor called it “irresponsible behavior.” Punishment for North Korea was swift in coming.

North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong-3 was just one of 75 satellites that a variety of nations sent into space last year, but Pyongyang’s launch, and a failed launch earlier in the year on April 12, were the only ones singled out for condemnation. [1] In Western eyes, there was something uniquely threatening about the Kwangmyongsong-3 earth observation satellite, unlike the apparently more benign five military and three spy satellites the United States launched last year.

We are told that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, the official name for North Korea) used the satellite launch to test ballistic missile technology. But the North Koreans could hardly have sent their satellite into orbit by slingshot. The Kwangmyongsong-3 was equipped with a camera intended to help assess the nation’s natural resources and forest distribution and to collect crop estimates. The Western press was quick to scoff at the satellite as having no rational economic purpose. Although the satellite failed to become operable, a common enough experience for nations putting their first satellite into space, the intent was to support much-needed ecological recovery in North Korea and to aid agricultural planning.

Specialists argue that the DPRK’s Unha-3 missile, used for the launch, is not a suitable candidate for delivering a nuclear warhead. According to analyst Markus Schiller of Schmucker Technologie in Germany, for North Korea to “become a player in the ICBM game, they would have to develop a different kind of missile, with higher performance. And if they do that seriously, we would have to see flight tests every other month, over several years.” [2] The North Korean missile “was developed as a satellite launcher and not as a weapon,” Schiller says. “The technology was suited only for satellite launch.” Brian Weedan, a space expert at the Secure World Foundation, agrees, and points out that the missile took a sharp turn to avoid flying over Taiwan and the Philippines. “That is definitely something more associated with a space launch than with a ballistic missile launch. It’s not what you would expect to see with a missile test.” [3]

The Unha-3 is simply too small for the job of delivering a nuclear warhead, even assuming that the DPRK had miniaturized a nuclear bomb, an endeavor requiring significant time and effort. The North Koreans would also need to develop a long-range guidance system and a reentry vehicle capable of withstanding the heat of returning through the atmosphere. Experts consider the DPRK to be years away from achieving such steps. [4]

In regard to North Korea’s satellite launches, Lewis Franklin and Nick Hansen of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation remark, “The oft-repeated phrase ‘readily convertible to an ICBM’ posed by non-technical policy experts is engineering-wise unsupportable.” They explain that while other nations have utilized ICBMs for sending satellites into space, conversion of a light missile like the Uhha-3 into an ICBM “requires considerable redesign and testing, and no country has taken this route.” [5]

The other aspect of the launch that the U.S found so provocative was its violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874 of June 12, 2009, which enjoined the DPRK from conducting “any launch using ballistic missile technology.” That resolution was prompted by a North Korean nuclear test. Yet, when Israel, Pakistan and India – all non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – not only performed testing, but proceeded to build substantial nuclear arsenals and missiles capable of delivering nuclear payloads, no action was forthcoming. This double standard has not gone unnoticed in the DPRK, which understands that the distinction between the North Korean case and that of Israel, Pakistan and India hinges on the latter three nations being U.S. allies, while for decades it has been the target of Western sanctions, threats and pressure.

Interestingly enough, India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapon-capable ballistic missiles at around the time of North Korea’s failed satellite launch on April 12, 2012. [6] The Indian and Pakistani missiles did not carry satellites; these were purely military tests, a fact which did not perturb the Obama Administration. Criticism was reserved for North Korea alone, while in regard to India’s test, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner merely noted that the U.S. has a “very strong strategic and security partnership with India.” [7] Following Pakistan’s launch, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland’s only comment was, “What’s most important is that they do seem to have taken steps to inform the Indians.” [8] These mild remarks contrasted with the vociferous abuse poured upon North Korea for its non-nuclear capable missiles carrying satellites.

Since the April ballistic missile launches, India and Pakistan have continued their tests, including India’s test of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile fired from underwater, part of its program to develop submarine-based nuclear missiles. [9] India conducted its underwater ballistic missile test on January 27, only a few days after the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on North Korea for putting a satellite into orbit.

When North Korea launched its satellite, India condemned the launch as “unwarranted,” and termed it an action adversely impacting peace and stability. [10] That same day, India test fired its nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile, again without complaint by the U.S. [11] And just days after passage of the UN Security Council resolution against the DPRK, Japan put two spy satellites into space, both aimed at North Korea. [12] Not surprisingly, these missile launches evoked no complaint from U.S. officials.

South Korea successfully placed its own satellite into orbit on January 30, 2013, with the complete support of the U.S., which only added to North Korea’s growing sense of irritation over the blatant double standard. The hypocrisy is quite breathtaking. The U.S. sits atop the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, possesses the largest military machine on earth, regularly invades or bombs other nations, threatens nations who refuse to bend to its will, turns a blind eye to tests of ballistic missiles by India, Pakistan and Israel, and it condemns the small nation of North Korea for engaging in “provocative” behavior by sending a peaceful satellite into space.

The DPRK bears the distinction of being the only nation to have a UN Security Council resolution in effect banning it from launching a satellite. Yet, the international outer space treaty affirms that outer space “shall be the province of all mankind,” and that “Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind.” [13] Note the language used here: “without discrimination of any kind.” This is absolutely unambiguous. The treaty does not say “except when the powerful choose to deny this right to a small nation.”

Western analysts argue that when a UN Security Council resolution contradicts international law, it is the resolution that takes precedence. That view makes a mockery of international law, which ceases to have any meaning when it can be discarded at will by imperial dictate.

The UN Charter tasks the Security Council to deal with matters relating to “threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression.” The DPRK Central Committee of the Workers Party of Korea explains that its satellite launches for peaceful purposes “bear no relationship with the issues of international peace and security.” Moreover, the Security Council has never seen fit to take issue with such nations as the United States and Japan “that are speeding up militarization by launching innumerable spy satellites.” [14]

Sensing that the DPRK’s impending satellite launch would present a welcome opportunity, the U.S. started lining up support for imposing further sanctions on the DPRK well before the launch took place. Already the most heavily sanctioned nation on earth, North Korea’s economy could only suffer more damage from new sanctions. That was precisely the Obama Administration’s aim.

In anticipation of North Korea’s missile launch, South Korea under the ever-hostile administration of Lee Myung-bak, worked with other nations to identify the few remaining international bank accounts held by North Korea which had not yet been closed due to U.S. pressure. The hope was that North Korea could be completely blocked from engaging in international trade. The Lee Administration, too, perceived the missile launch as an opportunity to inflict further economic damage on its neighbor to the north. [15]

The Chinese advocated resuming the six-party talks, which were last held in December 2008. “China really believes that we ought to re-engage with North Korea,” U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke remarked, but “we don’t believe that we should be rewarding their bad behavior by sitting down and talking with them.”  U.S. diplomats adamantly ruled out talks. During negotiations in December 2012, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice bluntly told a Chinese diplomat that his nation’s resistance to additional sanctions was “ridiculous.” Rice demanded that North Korea face “consequences” for its satellite launch. [16]

U.S. officials are fond of saying that they will not reward the DPRK for its “bad behavior” by talking with its officials, but one cannot help but wonder: just whose behavior is bad? North Korean officials, whose nation exercised its right under international law and put a peaceful satellite into orbit, a right granted to all nations, and who want dialogue, or U.S. officials, who petulantly refuse to engage in negotiations, and who only know how to bully and intimidate?

The first task was to get China onboard with the concept of imposing new sanctions on its neighbor. High-ranking U.S. and South Korean diplomats met with their Chinese counterparts in Beijing on December 17, 2012. The Chinese opposed sanctions, preferring a prudent response. “The Chinese side repeated its stance that it wants to keep peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” a South Korean diplomatic source revealed. But the U.S. had “a strong willingness” to impose sanctions. “The U.S. is also sending a message to China that it will have no choice but to beef up its military readiness against North Korea’s threats unless a resolution is adopted at the U.N. Security Council.” [17]

The United States had already taken a number of steps to increasingly militarize its relations with South Korea in recent months, and it is probable that the threat to expand the U.S. military presence in the region finally persuaded the Chinese to back UN sanctions, despite their inevitable destabilizing effect. A U.S. military buildup in the region would serve a double purpose, aimed not only at North Korea but surely China as well. The Chinese were also keen to avoid straining relations with the U.S, an important trading partner.

Once the U.S. and South Korea won Chinese agreement for a UN Security Council resolution, the Obama Administration had a wish list of harsh measures that it wanted to implement via the resolution. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland announced that the Obama Administration’s plan was “to continue to increase the pressure on the North Korean regime. And we’re looking at how best to do that, both bilaterally and with our partners going forward. Until they get the message, we’re going to have to continue to further isolate this regime.” Responding to a reporter who commented that North Korea “has long wanted direct talks with the U.S.,” and asked if the U.S. would consider that or stick to the six-party format, Nuland dismissively replied, “We and our partners are not in the business of rewarding them.” [18] There would be no talks of any kind.

U.S. negotiators insisted that the UN Security Council pass a resolution rather than a presidential statement, so that it would carry more force. Under pressure, the Chinese relented. The specific sanctions to be imposed were another matter. There the Chinese were more successful. The U.S. wanted to maximize the damage that would be inflicted on the North Korean people. Chinese Ambassador to the UN Li Baodong said, “The initial draft prepared by the UNSC contained a number of sanctions, but China believed that such measures would not be helpful in defusing the situation and would only cause harm to the North Korean economy and the lives of its people. As a result of more than a month of protracted negotiations, these provisions were removed from the final draft of the resolution.” [19]

UN Security Council resolution 2087 passed unanimously on January 22, 2013, ordering the DPRK to cease launching satellites, and that “any further such activities” would result in its “determination to take significant action.” A number of measures were imposed, including travel bans and asset freezes on specified individuals involved in the DPRK’s space program and banking officials assisting in its financial dealings. Asset freezes were also slapped on the North Korean Committee for Space Technology and North Korean banks and firms involved in the space program, essentially blocking those organizations from engaging in normal international financial transactions. [20]

The U.S. and South Korea immediately began planning further sanctions that they could impose on a bilateral basis. The U.S. had already stopped food aid to North Korea many months beforehand. Among the alternatives the U.S. and South Korea discussed were stepping up inspections of North Korean ships and ways to hamper North Korean ships from travelling near the Korean Peninsula. [21] The U.S. Treasury Department wasted little time in implementing its first set of bilateral sanctions, acting the day after passage of the UN Security Council resolution. It announced that all assets under U.S. control would be frozen held by two North Korean bankers and Hong Kong-based Leader International Trading Limited. [22]

South Korea had already revised its Public Order in Open Ports Act so that it required entry clearance for container ships having visited a North Korean port during the prior 180 days; an increase from the earlier 60 day limit. A South Korean official said that Seoul intended to target shipments into and out of the DPRK. “We are considering sanctions in marine transport. Now that we have already set the legal grounds, we will start talks with other countries over additional sanctions.” [23] The intention is to cut maritime supply routes to North Korea.

Pressure on North Korea is two-fold: economic sanctions and military presence. In the midst of UN Security Council deliberations, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called for the reorientation of NATO, to “broaden the scope of our alliance security discussions beyond European and regional issues.”  The U.S. has led the expansion of NATO military operations first in its bombing operations in the Balkans, then later in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The aim is for NATO to support aggressive U.S. military operations, across all continents that adjoin Europe and the Mediterranean. “In particular,” Panetta continued, “I strongly believe that Europe should join the United States in increasing and deepening defense engagement with the Asia-Pacific region…The bottom line is that Europe should not fear our rebalance to Asia; Europe should join it.” [24]

However, there is one thing one can say about the North Koreans.  They are never cowed by imperial bullying.

Shortly before passage of the UN Security Council resolution, the DPRK sent a message to the United States, calling for negotiations to settle security concerns. That message apparently went unanswered. [25]

As soon as the UN resolution passed, the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK issued its response, stating that it “flatly rejects the unjust acts of the UNSC aimed at wantonly violating the sovereignty of the DPRK and depriving it of the right to launch satellites for peaceful purposes. The hostile forces are seriously mistaken if they think they can bring down the DPRK with sanctions and pressure.” The Foreign Ministry asserted that the “DPRK will continue to exercise its independent and legitimate right to launch satellites for peaceful purposes while abiding by the universally recognized international law on the use of space for peaceful purposes.” Furthermore, “the DPRK will continuously launch satellites for peaceful purposes.”

Noting that U.S. hostility remains unchanged, the DPRK Foreign Ministry concluded that “the prospect for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has become gloomier,” and so “there may be talks for peace and stability…but no talks for the denuclearization of the peninsula.” North Korea, it said, “will take steps for physical counteraction to bolster the military capabilities for self-defense, including nuclear deterrence…to cope with the evermore undisguised moves of the U.S. to apply sanctions and apply pressure against the DPRK.” [26] First a peace settlement must be reached; only then can talks on denuclearization can proceed.

Events on the Korean Peninsula are heading in a potentially dangerous direction. New sanctions on the DPRK and the refusal of the Obama Administration to engage in dialogue have eliminated any exit strategy. North Korea, feeling threatened, may conduct another nuclear test to further develop the best defense it has against military aggression and to assert its independence. However, South Korea promises “very grave consequences” if it follows that path. [27] The U.S. has made similarly threatening statements.

According to South Korean presidential national security advisor Chun Yung-woo, consequences must be imposed on the DPRK that it finds intolerable. North Korea must choose between nuclear weapons or its survival, he declared. “No other options must be allowed.” [28]

Ratcheting up pressure on the DPRK, the U.S. and South Korea kicked off joint naval military exercises in the East Sea on February 4, 2013, including the nuclear submarine USS San Francisco. “Through this joint military exercise, we will be able to deliver a message to North Korea that if they engage in a defiant act, it won’t be tolerated,” warned Jung Seung-jo, chairman of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. [29]

North Korea has always responded in kind. When approached diplomatically, it negotiates and when threatened, it resists. Neither the U.S. nor South Korea is open to dialogue at the present time. Both are bent on exacerbating tensions.

China is attempting to dissuade the DPRK from carrying out another nuclear test, aware of the dangers that U.S. and South Korean aggressive reaction could present. But even if North Korea refrains from conducting another nuclear test, it is clear that the U.S. is seeking a pretext – any pretext – to squeeze North Korea harder, and it may not take much to plunge the Korean Peninsula into a terrible crisis.

Gregory Elich is on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute and on the Advisory Board of the Korea Truth Commission. He is the author of the book Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit.



[2] “Experts Say North Korea Still Years Away from Reliable Rockets,” Associated Press, December 12, 2012.

[3] Ken Dilanian, “Experts Debate North Korea’s Missile Goals and Capability,” Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2013.

[4] “Experts Say North Korea Still Years Away from Reliable Rockets,” Associated Press, December 12, 2012.

[5] Steven Haggard, “More on the Missile Test,” Peterson Institute for International Economics, March 19, 2012.

[6] Aleksandr Zakharovich Zhebin, “Pyongyang will Respond to the United Nations with a Nuclear Explosion: North Korea is Abandoning the Promises of Denuclearization,” Nezavismaya Gazeta, January 25, 2013.

[7] Heather Timmons and Jim Yardley, “Signs of an Asian Arms Buildup in India’s Missile Test,” New York Times, April 19, 2012.

[8] Sami Zubeiri, “Pakistan Tests Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missile,” Agence France-Presse, April 25, 2012.

[9] “India Tests Underwater Ballistic Missile,” UPI, January 27, 2013.

[10] “India Terms North Korean Rocket Launch ‘Unwarranted,” Deccan Herald, December 12, 2012.

[11] “India Successfully Test-fires Agni-I Ballistic Missile,” Press Trust of India, December 12, 2012.

[12] Stephen Clark, “Japan Launches Spy Satellites into Orbit,” Space Flight Now, January 28, 2013.

[14] Ri Hyon-to, “We Reject the UN Security Council ‘Resolution’ Fabricated Under US Initiative,” Rodong Sinmun, January 29, 2013.

[15] Kim Young-jin, “Seoul Seeks to Freeze NK Accounts,” Korea Times, December 5, 2012.

[16] “N. Korea Not Expected to See U.N. Penalties this Year for Rocket Launch,” Global Security Newswire, December 18, 2012.

“China Resists Moves to Sanction N. Korea: Diplomats,” Agence France-Presse, December 18, 2012.

[17] “U.S. Pressing China to Back U.N. Punishment for N. Korea: Source,” Yonhap, December 18, 2012.

[18] Victoria Nuland, Daily Press Briefing, U.S. Department of State, December 17, 2012.

[19] Park Min-hee, “What Made China Vote for UN Sanctions on North Korea?”, Hankoreh, January 24, 2013.

“China Says New UN Resolution on DPRK ‘Generally Balanced,’ Xinhua, January 23, 2013.

[20] UN Security Council SC/10891, “Security Council Condemns Use of Ballistic Missile Technology in Launch by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in Resolution 2087 (2013),” January 22, 2013.

[21] “S. Korea, U.S. Ponders ‘Additional Sanctions’ Against N. Korea,” Yonhap, January 23, 2013.

[22] Press Release, “Treasury Sanctions Company and Individuals Linked to North Korean Weapons of Mass Destruction Program,” U.S. Department of Treasury, January 24, 2013.

[23] Park Hyung-ki and Shin Hyon-hee, “S. Korea Analyzed Salvaged N. Korean Rocket Debris,” Korea Herald, December 14, 2012.

[24] Jorge Benitez, “Panetta: NATO Needs to Join U.S. Rebalance to Asia-Pacific,” Atlantic Council NATO Alliance News Blog, January 18, 2013.

[25] “N. Korea Sends ‘Ultimatum’ to U.S. on Nuke Issue: Newspaper,” Yonhap, January 21, 2013.

[26] “DPRK Refutes UNSC’s ‘Resolution’ Pulling Up DPRK over its Satellite Launch,” KCNA, January 23, 2013.

[27] “S. Korea Warns N. Korea Will Face ‘Grave Consequences’ in Case of Nuclear Test,” Yonhap, January 31, 2013.

[28 “S. Korea Calls for ‘Intolerable’ Sanctions Against N. Korea’s Nuke Ambition,” Yonhap, January 30, 2013.

[29] Jeong Yong-soo, “U.S. Sends Submarine to East Sea,” JoongAng Ilbo, February 2, 2013.

Park Byong-su, “Large South Korea-US Military Exercises to Involve Nuclear Submarine,” Hanyoreh, February 2, 2013.


The US leader follows a policy, which strangles N. Korea “through sanctions and economic measures in the hope that it’ll collapse at some point,” a member of think tank for the advisory board at the Korea Policy Institute, Gregory Elich, told RT.

Elich believes the United States is interested in the collapse of the North, as the US “can establish their military bases right on the border with China, meaning an encirclement of that nation.” He also added that America never “never tolerated a country that won’t put its economy at the service of foreign corporations.”

View video at

RT: Neither side seems to benefit economically from Pyongyang’s latest decision not to allow South Koreans to work in the joint industrial zone. Why is the North taking such a decisive step?

Gregory Elich: Basically there is a whole history leading up to this current impasse that they’ve reached and for instance under military consultative meeting that South Korea and the United Stated held back in October , they developed a new military plan for North Korea. So, even in a minor conflict, that both the US and South Korea would hit North Korea with considerable force. According to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense that policy would play in both peace time and war time. Under the missile technology control regime, the US allows South Korea an exemption on ballistic missile range, so they can now build a ballistic missiles that would hit the entire territory of North Korea. North Korea is under sanctions. Basically, North Korea has few options to resist…

RT: I am sorry. You are talking about international law here. Is North Korea playing with fire by restarting its Yongbyon nuclear facility or is it a vital move for the country at this point?

GE: No. As far as starting the Yongbyon nuclear facility is a symbolic move on North Korea’s part. It really makes little difference as far as a nuclear weapons program. It takes many months to restart the facility and at best it can produce enough plutonium for only one bomb per year. I think the rhetoric coming out of North Korea and the restarting of the Yongbyon nuclear facility are symbolic on North Korea’s part and it’s basically sending the message to the United States. Look, if you are heading for more sanctions, including sanctions on North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, which is a primary institution for international trade, and you have always threatening military moves you’re making toward us, if you think you are going to crush us, we’re going to hit you back harder than you expect. I think this is basically what the message North Korea is sending.

RT: Whose fault is it here do you think? Or, perhaps, Pyongyang and Washington are both just at fault here?

GE: Well anyone who knows anything about North Korea knows, that if you approach diplomatically, they will negotiate, but if threat they’re threatened or bullied, they’ll respond with firmness. So, we kind of have a feedback loop, where the Obama administration come in and cut off all negotiations over North Korea. There was nothing in the last few years. Obama’s following a policy of what it calls strategic patience, which is in effect a slow strangulation of North Korea through sanctions and economic measures in the hope that it’ll collapse at some point of time…

RT: If there’s a hope on America’s part, that Pyongyang will collapse at some point in time, then what is that hope about? Is it about America having an opportunity for another geo-strategic positioning? I mean isn’t the US presence in South Korea and other parts of the Far East big enough?

GE: It’s never big enough. The United States has over a hundred bases throughout the world. If North Korea collapses, the US can establish their military bases right on the border with China. Meaning, an encirclement of that nation. Also there are considerable mineral deposits in North Korea, which would be useful for exploitation by US corporations. And the United States has never tolerated a country that won’t put its economy at the service of foreign corporations…

On April 4, the Financial Times headlined “Bank of Japan follows the Fed, on steroids.” Pedal-to-the-metal reflects new governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s policy.

At a news conference he said:

“This is an entirely new dimension of monetary easing, both in terms of quantity and quality.”

Except for emergency late 2008 easing, its the largest ever BOJ monetary madness. It’s not “short-term emergency” driven. It’s a “deliberate change in philosophy.”

It abandons everything BOJ said about monetary policy before. It’s high risk. The fullness of time will have final say. It may hit home like a hammer.

Plans are to double BOJ’s monetary base. Kuroda wants it done in less than two years. The Fed doubled its balance sheet more slowly. Any significant rise in JGBs (Japanese government bonds) means Kuroda’s strategy failed.

Until now, BOJ spent 21% of Japan’s GDP on QE. It mostly bought short duration bonds. It hoped doing so would “leak out of the banks into the rest of the economy.” It never happened.

Plan B is high-risk. Kuroda’s doubling down on Plan A. He’ll buy longer duration bonds. He’ll spend 40% of Japan’s GDP on QE. FT calls doing so an “unprecedented monetary ‘big bang.’ ”

Japan’s government bond market stands at 240% of GDP. It’s the highest debt burden among developed countries. Overall inflation hasn’t followed. Nothing’s guaranteed it won’t.

Kuroda plans to buy around 70% of JGBs. He’ll keep doing it for two years. If inflation begins rising, purchases will slow. Instability may follow. Bond prices may fall sharply. Yields will rise. Losses could damage BOJ’s balance sheet and credibility.

PNB Paribas Tokyo economist Ryutaro Kono believes “(i)f you pursue a radical policy, asset prices may change greatly, but if you set off a bubble and make the overall economy unstable, then you end up getting your priorities wrong.”

Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management economist Hiroaki Muto said (“t)argeting the monetary base will lead to a huge increase in current account balances that commercial banks keep at the BOJ, but I’m still not sure if this money will move through the economy.”

Principalis Asset Management’s Pippa Malmgren said “(w)e’ve never seen such unconventional methods used to create as much inflation as possible.”

Monetary and economics Professor Lex Hoogduin called the effects Kuroda’s easing “very difficult to control. At the same time, it will be politically very difficult to put a brake on this process. The policy can derail and can lead to distortions in the Japanese economy.”

PIMCO’s Bill Gross believes BOJ easing risks creating a rout in the yen. G-7 countries may not tolerate it. Much more depreciation is needed “to get even close to 2% inflation,” he added.

It hasn’t before so why now. At risk is heading it higher, not lower.

Kuroda says now’s not the time to worry. “I’m not concerned that longterm interest rates could spike or asset market bubbles will emerge. I don’t have any intention of financing government spending.”

How many times before have we heard grand plans? How many rosy scenarios turned sour? How many bad endings followed? In the late 1980s, BOJ policy escalated asset and property prices. It did so to unprecedented levels.

Market crashes, rolling recessions, weak recoveries, malaise, deflation, and dangerous deficits followed. Kuroda’s heading into unchartered waters. Hindsight may make him wish he never tried.

Market analyst Graham Summers calls Japan the ultimate monetization failure. For two decades, BOJ measures failed. Stagnation characterizes Japan’s economy.

Economic activity and employment haven’t improved. No matter. Kuroda wants to do more of what hasn’t worked. He’ll spend 7 trillion yen monthly buying bonds.

Doing so is “complete and utter insanity, especially since there is literally not one single instance in history in which debt monetization has produced economic growth.”

At risk is eventual inflation. Kuroda’s plan to fight deflation and stimulate growth may backfire. Rising costs already affect food, fuel and other necessities.

Multiple Fed QE rounds failed. Phantom data conceal dire conditions. Economic growth is weak. It’s faltering. Real unemployment’s 23%.

Nearly 25 million Americans remain jobless. Low-pay/poor benefit part-time or temp ones replaced full-time ones. Inflation’s around 9% based on how calculated decades earlier. Poverty or close to it affects half of US households. Record numbers need food stamps.

Kuroda thinks like Bernanke. “We all know how this will end,” says Summers. He expects disaster. Every inflated bubble pops. “This time will be no different.”

“The lessons from Cyprus are obvious.” Warning signs appear early. Cyprus first requested bailout help last June. Months later, it’s entire banking system shut down. Unsecured depositors stand to lose most of their wealth. Some may lose everything.

Eurozone economies and America are troubled. So is Japan. Doubling down on what failed for two decades won’t work. Expecting different results from doing the same thing repeatedly reflects insanity.

In 1988, Bernanke knew QE didn’t work. Two Fed economists explained. Seth Carpenter and Selva Demiralp headlined “Money, Reserves, and the Transmission of Monetary Policy: Does the Money Multiplier Exist?”

Their conclusion:

“In the absence of a multiplier, open market operations, which simply change reserve balances, do not directly affect lending behavior at the aggregate level.”

“Put differently, if the quantity of reserves is relevant for the transmission of monetary policy, a different mechanism must be found.”

“The argument against the textbook money multiplier is not new. For example, Bernanke and Blinder (1988) and Kashyap and Stein (1995) note that the bank lending channel is not operative if banks have access to external sources of funding.”

“The appendix illustrates these relationships with a simple model. This paper provides institutional and empirical evidence that the money multiplier and the associated narrow bank lending channel are not relevant for analyzing the United States.”

QE doesn’t work. It could if properly used. It hasn’t been. It’s improperly used now. Boosting aggregate demand is needed. Doing so requires putting money in consumers’ pockets.

Fed-style money printing madness doesn’t stimulate growth and create jobs. It flows to bank balance sheets. It’s used for speculation, high salaries, big bonus, buying competitors, and consolidating to greater size.

Helicopter Ben dropped lots of money on Wall Street. Doing so sent financial asset prices soaring. None went to Main Street where it belongs. Dire economic conditions there matter. Things head from bad to worse. Nothing ahead looks promising.

Wall Street Journal editors say Japan’s economy recovery depends “more on structural reform than monetary policy.” Prime Minister Shintaro Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (PDP) resists doing it. He prefers letting Kuroda do most heavy lifting.

Pedal-to-the-metal easing will adversely affect Japan’s neighbors. South Korea expressed alarm. A depreciating yen harms its exports. Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia are concerned. They’ll also lose out.

Dropping money on bank balance sheets doesn’t work. Bernanke’s done it since 2008. According to Paul Craig Roberts:

If QE stops, “confidence in the US dollar would rise. Money would flow into US investments, both supporting the US stock market and helping to finance the large US budget deficit.”

“Gold and silver prices would decline. Negative dollar expectations would be squeezed out of oil and grain prices, although drought, flood and supply factors would continue to impact grain prices, and the administration’s wars can impact oil prices.”

Economist David Rosenberg calls excessive monetary easing “no panacea.” It’s “self-defeating.” America’s seeing diminishing returns.

What’s needed is “a coherent fiscal policy and the reality that a record 90 million Americans left the labor market entirely, and that 40% of the unemployed ranks have been out of work for over six months.”

It’s more than double the historic norm. It makes affected workers “increasingly unemployable.” Inactivity “impedes their future productivity potential.”

Tripling the Fed’s balance sheet to $3.2 trillion did little to stimulate growth and create jobs. It hasn’t prevented the ratio of new hires to job openings from returning to early onset fall 2007 recessionary times.

Crediting the Fed with housing’s modest rebound doesn’t wash. Institutional investor all-cash deals get full credit.

From a supply-side perspective, America’s economy is moribund. It’s dead. Soft demand checks inflation. When it’s stronger, Rosenberg expects it to “return with much greater vengeance than has been.”

It’s because of the “increasingly inelastic shape to the US aggregate supply curve.” It’s early. In 2005, two years before America’s housing bubble burst, Rosenberg warned it was coming.

In the late 1960s, inflation was 2%. Unemployment was 4%. Who could have imagined what lay ahead? It followe failed Fed policy. Real short rates remained negative far too long.

A flawed Phillips Curve policy was pursued. Conventional wisdom believed higher inflation would stimulate growth and decrease unemployment.

Be careful for what you wish for? It may not turn out like you expect. For 12 years, America got four recessions. No one, including the Fed, saw it coming. It missed the last one in late 2007.

In summer 2008, it suggested raising rates. So did the ECB. Its easing policy is more aggressive now than at the depths of the early 2009 crisis.

Fed policies assure missteps. Historical evidence shows increasing inflation produces adverse macro results. This time’s no different. It’s true for America, Europe and Japan. Bad endings look certain. They’ll arrive in the fullness of time.

How long can QE and ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) continue while budget deficits add over $1 trillion to the national debt annually?

Fed policy can’t stop now. Eventually, what can’t go on forever, won’t. It’s not hard imagining how things will end. It’ll be with a bang, not a whimper.

Global economies everywhere will be impacted. They may be like never before. Recovery will be slow and painful. People who know best say so.

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

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

Visit his blog site at

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