The mythical United States of America so highly lauded exists nowhere. It is a Shangri-la. The Preamble of the Constitution makes perfectly clear what kind of nation the United States was meant to be. What exists today fulfills none of those goals. Some have argued that the nation was a fraud from day one. Whether accurate or not, what is clear is that it most certainly was quickly murdered by John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who wrote the decision known as Marbury v. Madison. Since that day, the Court has replicated England’s seventeenth century political economy absent only the monarchy. Today’s United States of America is a seventeenth century nation adorned with twenty first century trinkets, many deadly. Instead of being as it claims “the leader of the free world,” it is a backward authoritarian pre-enlightenment reactionary regime.
 

Because my OED is inaccessible at the moment, I cannot specify exactly when the word ‘philanthropy,’ which etymologically means “love of mankind,” came to be applied to the donating of money to build self aggrandizing enterprises. But alas, it has! People seem to have a way of twisting meanings in ways that make the malevolent appear benevolent. And so, enterprises of all kinds have been funded by such ‘philanthropy.’

For instance, Carnegie Mellon University was founded by Andrew Carnegie, Andrew W. and Richard B. Mellon; Cornell University was founded by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White; Purdue University was founded by John Purdue; Rice University was founded by William Marsh Rice; Stanford University was founded by Leland Stanford and his wife. There are hundreds more.

There are museums, too (The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, The Kimbell Art Museum, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art and many more), concert halls (Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, The Eastman Theatre, Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center to name just a few), Opera Houses (The Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The Peabody Opera House, The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, The BAM Howard Gilman Opera House), innumerable charitable foundations and buildings built for public use such a libraries.

Although it is difficult to deny some merit to most of these enterprises, it is also difficult to even imagine that when Christ said, “love thy neighbor as thyself,” he was advocating the kind of love philanthropy has come to express. But belittling philanthropy is not the intent of this piece. These examples are intended solely to lay the basis for an exposition of some contrasts and to draw some revealing conclusions from them.

First of all, the kind of giving described above is not the only kind of giving that has become prevalent. During last week’s midterm electioneering, unspecified amounts of money were donated anonymously to Political Action Committees in an attempt to influence the electoral process. What distinguishes this group of donors from those above is the anonymity. The benefactors, in the first group, like the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, have no qualms about putting their names on their projects. (I suspect that more often than not, they insist upon it.) But not the donors in the second group.

Why? I suspect a principle lies behind the difference: People do not hide that in which they take pride! The benefactors in the first group are proud of their giving, they want it made known to all, they want to be remembered for it. So why wouldn’t the “benefactors” in the second group be equally proud of their beneficence? Are they merely cowards who lack the courage of their convictions? Or are they ashamed of what they are doing? Are they hiding their shame behind their anonymity? In either case, they cannot be judged kindly.

Anonymity, however, is just one manifestation of a deeper and growing tendency in American society—the trend toward more and more secrecy, and no one, to my knowledge, has revealed the ultimate, disastrous consequences of this tendency.

Recently, Sir John Sawers, the head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, devoted much of a 30-minute address to the central role of secrecy in maintaining security. “Secrecy”, he said, “is not a dirty word. Secrecy is not there as a cover-up. Secrecy plays a crucial part in keeping Britain safe and secure. If our operations and methods become public, they won’t work.”

Alas, Sir John is obviously not a master of the King’s English. Secrecy is by definition a cover-up. But Sir John doesn’t mean cover-up in the simple sense of hidden; he wants to claim that nothing unseemly or objectionable is being covered up. Unfortunately, that claim is impossible to verify and, if accepted, must be accepted on trust. If someone claims s/he did nothing wrong, the what and how of it must be revealed. How else could it be shown? Yet Sir John claims that the what and how of it must be kept secret.

Consider the claim that the universe contains absolutely undetectable attributes. The sentence appears to make perfectly good sense, but it doesn’t. How could the claim ever be given a truth value? All one can really do upon hearing or reading it is shrug one’s shoulders. The sentence has no content. The claim that secrets are not cover-ups is similar. To know that what is secret is not a cover-up, the secret must be revealed, but by definition alone, a secret cannot be revealed and be a secret. Such claims are entirely meaningless.

So why should anyone trust the pronouncements of governments and their agents anyhow? That they lie has been demonstrated over and over again in history. In reality, all that the secrecy actually does is arouse suspicion; secrecy leads people to distrust their governments. It also leads nations to distrust each other, and a world in which nations distrust each other is unstable, dangerous, and primed for disaster.

Governmental secrecy also annuls any trappings of democracy that a nation may exhibit. Even a perfectly rational citizenry would be unable to make rational judgments on matters of policy that are kept from it by secrecy. How can anyone be expected to make a rational judgment about something s/he is unaware of? Rational thinking requires premises that are factual. Without that knowledge, the electoral process is a mere formal, meaningless exercise. The people may be told that they are sovereign, but they do not even play a meaningful role in the process. The trappings of democracy do not make a nation democratic. Only transparently revealed truth and honesty do.

Most people assume that the American government is paralyzed by ideological intransigence. The assumption is that our political class has taken the attitude, “my way or no way.” But another possibility exists. Perhaps those who truly hold power, those who like things the way they are and want to contravene any change, immediately corrupt or isolate all newly elected officials and all of the ideological rhetoric that is heard is merely theater played to give people the impression that the politicians care. How else can anyone explain how everything stays the same after election after election calls for change? How else can the Congress continue to act as it always has in the face of decades of approval ratings in the lowest quartile? How else can anyone explain why Congress after Congress is a do nothing Congress? Is it because American elections are totally fraudulent? Is it  because the Congress has a secret master who functions behind the electoral system?  

The mythical United States of America so highly lauded exists nowhere. It is a Shangri-la. The Preamble of the Constitution makes perfectly clear what kind of nation the United States was meant to be. Read it! What exists today fulfills none of those goals.

Some have argued that the nation was a fraud from day one, that the convention that drafted the Constitution was comprised of colonial elite who set out to create a nation that protected their privileges. The facts cited by those making the claim are accurate; the reasoning is often strained. Yet the claim cannot easily be refuted.

Even if the nation was not stillborn, it most certainly was quickly murdered. The dastardly deed took place on February 24, 1803. The killer was John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who wrote the decision known as Marbury v. Madison, which is not only absurdly argued but treacherous on two accounts. First, Marshall takes the position that “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is” which results in the Court’s becoming the sole Constitutional authority subject to no review. Since that day, the Court has ruled the United States of America as a judicial oligarchy. Second, the decision provides the Court with a paradigm on which it could base clearly and obviously unjust decisions. Marshall agreed that Marbury was entitled to relief but refused to provide it. That is clearly unjust; yet the Constitution clearly says that one of the nation’s purposes is to “establish justice.”

Even though Marshall’s argument is absurd, no one but Jefferson challenged it. He writes, “the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.” It is clearly contradictory to say on the one hand that the Court has the duty to “say what the law is” and then say that the Court is constrained from providing Marbury with the relief he is entitled to because the written Constitution doesn’t give the Court the authority to grant it. The written Constitution doesn’t give the Court the authority to “say what the law is” either. Yet no one pointed out that if it were the Court’s duty to say “what the law is,” legislatures are superfluous. So Marshall on this day, murdered the Republic.

Why no one but Jefferson cared is curious. Was it, indeed, because the colonial elite who had taken control of the government never really fully supported the Constitution’s republican principles? We will never know. But before the Constitution was ratified, the colonies were rife with political tracts both in favor of and against its ratification. The Federalist Papers are the most well known of these and were apparently written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. All three were alive when Marshall’s opinion was issued; yet none wrote a single tract in opposition to Marshall’s action. How strange!

Yet, the result is obvious. What John Marshall did was reproduce England’s seventeenth century political economy absent only the monarchy, and the courts have promoted and maintained this abomination ever since. Today’s United States of America is a seventeenth century nation adorned with twenty first century trinkets, many deadly. Instead of being as it claims “the leader of the free world,” it is a backward authoritarian pre-enlightenment reactionary regime. That people is the big secret! It dare not be revealed.

In early modern Europe the state was organized to fight more and more intense wars which requirs professional armies and leads national governments into perennial debt. Some claim that the need to fight bigger and bigger wars created the state as we know it. Diplomacy was carried on by nations in secret from opponents, adversaries, and their own peoples. Although not yet known as such, Realpolitik characterized the age. Politics and diplomacy were based primarily on considerations of power and national interests, not ideals, morals, or principles. Balancing the power of authoritarian nations was said to be necessary to keep the peace, but it never did. How does this description of seventeenth century Europe differ from a description of the world’s condition today? What is different?

Calling the United States a backward authoritarian pre-enlightenment reactionary nation may seem harsh, but how else can anyone explain, no less justify, the American willingness to overthrow democratically elected governments, support right-wing dictatorships, and become a willing partner with the most corrupt nations on earth? No nation steeped in the principles of democracy would engage in such practices.

So what do advocates of this seventeenth century realpolitik hope to achieve? To what end is this policy being pursued? Three hundred years of history has shown that it will never bring peace or security. Going to war to preserve the peace is absurd; anyone who advocates such nonsense should be ridiculed into hiding.

People, remember this. Empires upon which it was said that the sun never set disintegrated in plain daylight. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not bind them together. So I propose that everyone ask an Englishman this question: What of value does todays ordinary Englishman possess that s/he would not have possessed had the Empire never existed? When you learn the answer to that question you will realize how all the resources and lives lost to create and attempt to hold the Empire were totally wasted. And that is what always happens to the resources and people expended in empire building.

People, secrecy is an abomination. People do not hide that in which they take pride! When governments keep secrets, they’re hiding shameful, immoral, or illegal acts. War is the opposite of peace and cannot secure it. Secrecy breeds distrust, suspicion, and conflict; they are not ways of winning friends and influencing people. Realpolitik is really Vilepolitik. Until the welfare of human beings everywhere rather than the welfare of institutions becomes the goal of human activity, the people will never be anything but canon and factory fodder to be sacrificed for absolutely nothing worthwhile.

So it’s time, past time, way past time to close the door on seventeenth century authoritarian government.    

John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on http://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.

The Political and Social Crisis in South Africa

November 11th, 2010 by Trevor Ngwane

South Africa is a country on a roller coaster to disaster. A recent paper written by the leadership of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) attests to this. While the paper argues that the country is at a crossroads, a close reading reveals a deep anxiety and even panic among union leaders who are very worried and suggest that the country is heading toward crisis. I would say South Africa is already in crisis and unless there is a drastic and sharp turn to the left, the wheels are going to come off the roller coaster.

The Roller Coaster Country What is exciting about a roller coaster ride is its hurtling speed and unpredictability, simultaneously evoking feelings of exhilaration and fear. That is how it feels like living in this country these days. In the last couple of months or so, for example, one moment people were giddy with excitement as South Africa hosted the World Cup in June 2010. The government pulled out all the stops to make a success of the event: nothing was allowed to stand in the way of achieving a successful hosting with up to R70-billion ($9.6-billion U.S.) of public money spent. Hardly a month later, health, education and other essential government services ground to a halt as 1.3 million public sector workers went on strike demanding a living wage. The government pleaded poverty but this was not convincing and the strike went on for three weeks, with dire consequences for ordinary people: babies dying for want of medical care, students worried sick as they lost valuable time preparing for high school exit exams, families at a loss as government morgues failed to release the bodies of deceased loved ones for burial, and so on. The common humanity and collective excitement that was shared during the World Cup was replaced by anger and fear as the strike turned violent. It was as if it was not the same country.

The strike by government employees was the culmination of a year of heightened protests and strikes that had gripped the country beginning immediately after the April 2009 national elections, which saw Jacob Zuma of the African National Congress (ANC) become president of the country. Many would find the analogy of a roller coaster appropriate to describe Zuma’s rise to power. Indeed, during his campaign to become ANC president, he was described by his supporters as an unstoppable tsunami. But it was touch and go all the way to the high seat for Zuma. At one point he faced fraud, money laundering and a spate of other corruption-related charges, which he miraculously escaped, including getting an acquittal after a lengthy and much-publicised rape court trial. His accomplice in the corruption charges, Schabir Shaik, received a 15-year jail sentence, which – surprise surprise – he is serving in the comfort of his own home after receiving parole for being [terminally ill]. May he live long.

Protest, Strikes and Turmoil South Africa continues to be overwhelmed by community protests, which often take the form of veritable riots, with public and private property getting torched or vandalised. Since April 2009, the number of protests mostly by poor working class communities demanding development and basic services soared, leading to some analysts suggesting that this country has the highest rate of protests in the world. This increase in the number of protests was not expected because since 2000 there were protests that were mainly organized by issue-based social movement organizations and, after 2004, the protests changed in character and tended to involve whole communities rising up in rebellion. Later there was a strike wave that culminated in the 2007 public strike, then the biggest in the country’s history. This turmoil saw the unprecedented recall of a sitting president of the country, Thabo Mbeki, who was removed from office by his own ANC comrades before his term of office was over. The removal of Mbeki and his replacement by Zuma coincided with the birth of the ‘new ANC’ that was supposed to be different from the Mbeki-led ANC, which was blamed for the hardship and suffering that sparked off the protests and strikes. When Zuma took over everyone expected the protests to stop since the evil president had been replaced by the man of the people. Instead the protests intensified. Today the Zuma administration faces the wrath of striking government employees, most of whom are members of COSATU unions, a COSATU that played a large role in defending Zuma during his days of political and legal trials and helped him become president.

The reader will agree with me that indeed South African politics feels like a roller coast ride. What exactly is going on? Where is South Africa going? How can disaster be averted?

A Revolution Derailed The short answer to the question of what is going on in South Africa is that a revolution was derailed here and what we are seeing are the consequences of that. The workers are going on strike and communities are rising up in protest because ordinary people are not getting what they fought for during the struggle against apartheid and capitalism. Millions were involved in a long and bitter struggle against statutory racism and economic exploitation. Most of those who fought did so inside the country and there were many South Africans who went into exile to take the struggle forward. It was not just South Africans who fought; at one point the anti-apartheid movement was one of the greatest solidarity movements in history, with people all over the world doing their bit to get rid of apartheid. During the course of the struggle people developed definite ideas about the kind of society they wanted to build after the demise of apartheid. The ‘new South Africa’ would be a free country, without racism, without oppression, without exploitation, without all the ills that afflicted the hated apartheid system. The problem today is that many of these ills continue to blight our post-apartheid society, hence the turmoil in the country.

South Africa, with a Gini coefficient of 0.86, is reputed to be one of the most unequal societies in the world. What is amazing is that there is more inequality in post-apartheid South Africa than during the dark days of apartheid. The hardships related to this injustice are too many to list here. But one example is unemployment, which stands at more than 40 per cent in this country of about 48 million inhabitants. Last year alone the country lost 1.1 million jobs due to the global economic meltdown. About 48 per cent of South Africans live on less than R322 ($44 U.S.) a month per person. Meanwhile the top 20 directors in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange earn on average 1,728 times the average income of an ordinary worker. An average African man earns about R2,400 per month while his white counterpart earns R19,000. I must quickly point out that today there is more inequality among African people than between blacks and whites. What this points to is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in South Africa; there is class formation and differentiation that expresses itself in race, gender and other dimensions. While there is a new class of black bourgeoisie and a rise in the black middle class, the white capitalist class and the old middle classes are getting richer and they still largely own and control the country’s wealth, with dire consequences for the working class.

There is great anger and frustration among ordinary people in South Africa and it is this anger which explains the protests and strikes happening all over the place. The public health care system is close to collapse mainly because the rich, including government ministers and others who can afford private health care, do not use public services. Life expectancy has dropped from 62 years in 1992 to 48 years today. HIV/AIDS has added to the catastrophe. But all this suffering would perhaps be tolerable if ordinary people were not daily confronted by the conspicuous consumption of the nouveau riche black bourgeoisie and upper middle class, many of whom are senior government politicians and civil servants, including, significantly, business people who have made their money through securing state tenders. Politically connected individuals are making so much money from government tenders that the term ‘tenderpreneur’ has been added to the country’s lexicon. Cabinet ministers use state funds to buy cars that cost over R1-million and spend months sleeping in 5-star hotels. Sexual shenanigans by the new elite are eclipsed by none other than the president himself, whose wives receive state support in their capacity as official first ladies; he was recently reported to be expecting the birth of his 22nd child by a fiancée who will become his fourth wife in January next year. The fact that Zuma’s son and nephew were involved in a recent scandal involving billions of rands in a shady mining rights deal has led even ANC alliance partners in the South African Communist Party (SACP) and especially COSATU to cry foul. Indeed, in its discussion paper on the current political situation COSATU argues that South Africa is developing into a ‘predator state’ where a class of black capitalists, under cover of the country’s official policy of ‘Black Economic Empowerment’ (BEE), enrich themselves through control of and ties to the state.

We can see therefore that the revolution that was supposed to improve the lives of ordinary people in South Africa has been derailed and an elite has developed that is enjoying the benefits of uhuru (freedom). But how can it be? How did the country reach this sorry state a mere 16 years after independence?

The Politics of Class Collaboration Rules It would be wrong to argue that nothing has changed or nothing good has happened since the ANC took power in 1994. South Africa has a lot to be proud of. Under apartheid there was no political freedom, no freedom of speech, no universal franchise and blatant racism was the order of the day. There has also been notable improvement in gender relations, with women accorded equal status with men. South Africa is one of very few countries where same-sex marriage is allowed.

The ANC government also put great effort in improving the lives of ordinary people by extending access to water, electricity, housing and other basic necessities. Under Thabo Mbeki the social security network was extended so that millions of people receive government ‘social grants,’ that is, old age pensions and child and disability grants. Mandela is famous for his effort trying to forge a united nation out of a history of conflict and division. But all the problems listed above and the burgeoning dissatisfaction tell us that much more needs to be done. The question is what needs to be done and what are the obstacles?

During the days of struggle against apartheid, the ANC was closely allied to the SACP and many people expected the new democratic government to follow, if not a socialist policy, at least a social democratic one. This seemed the only way in which the economic legacy of apartheid and capitalism could be fought and reversed. Under apartheid the wealth of the country was monopolised by the whites and in the hands of a few big corporations.

The Freedom Charter, a document that inspired the struggle in South Africa for decades, stated clearly that the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy would be nationalised in order to benefit everyone. It was not to be, as on the eve of independence, the ANC, the SACP and COSATU, members of the Tripartite Alliance that was to govern the newly independent country, opted for the capitalist route to development. Instead of a struggle against capitalism, a policy of class collaboration between the working class and the capitalist class was adopted. It was in this context that the idea of encouraging the growth of a black ‘patriotic’ bourgeoisie was adopted as state policy in the form of the BEE.

The ANC was hardly two years in power when it abandoned the capitalist but mildly redistributive Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and adopted the neoliberal and World Bank co-authored Growth, Employment and Redistribution Programme (GEAR). Although the SACP and COSATU were uncomfortable with this policy shift, their leaderships did little to fight it. This was because they believed that somehow it was possible to secure and promote the interests of the working class without an open struggle against capitalism and the capitalist class. This approach led to the strengthening and consolidation of capitalism in South Africa and, in line with trends elsewhere, along neoliberal lines.

As neoliberal policy began to bite and the working class began to suffer under the ANC regime, the SACP and COSATU leaders refused to change their political approach. As a solution they sought to install a ‘worker-friendly’ president in power, hence the anti-Mbeki pro-Zuma campaign which began in 2005 and culminated in the recall of Mbeki and Zuma’s ascendancy. Today, more than a year after Zuma became the country’s president, it is becoming clear that changing the man has not led to a change of policy. According to COSATU the Zuma regime has continued to implement the same neoliberal policies that were blamed on Mbeki.

… listen with one ear to the capitalists inside the ANC and with the other to the capitalists outside the ANC. This is the situation today. The recent public sector strike is a good illustration of this point, as workers wise up to this reality. Weitzman Hamilton, a socialist in South Africa, has argued that Zuma provided the last cover for the bankruptcy of the SACP-COSATU political approach. Indeed, the policy of trying to balance the needs of workers with those of capital appear to have reinforced the power of the capitalist class in South Africa by providing the capitalists with fresh recruits from the ranks of the leadership of the national liberation movement. As more and more ANC leaders ‘made it’ and became overnight millionaires, the ANC, which heretofore was listening with one ear to the working class and with the other to the capitalists, began to listen with one ear to the capitalists inside the ANC and with the other to the capitalists outside the ANC. This is the situation today. The recent public sector strike is a good illustration of this point, as workers wise up to this reality.

The Public Sector Strike The public sector strike ended clumsily with union leaders imposing a unilateral ‘suspension’ saying they are giving the ANC government 21 days to improve its settlement offer. The workers were demanding an 8.6 per cent increase and a R1,000 ($138 U.S.) housing allowance. But the government’s final offer was a 7.5 per cent increase and R800 ($110 U.S.) housing allowance. The leaders threaten that they will resume the strike if negotiations with the government do not yield a satisfactory outcome. However, many workers who were on strike were reported to be unhappy with the decision to call off the strike despite the strain of being in the streets for three weeks. Some are saying outright that they were ‘sold out’ by the union leaders.

The suspension of the strike was a creative and confusing use of the country’s labour laws and, to me, is an indication that there is a history that needs to happen in South Africa. It is a history that requires workers to defeat the politics of class collaboration of the union leaders and face up to the Herculean task of getting rid of capitalism. I have indicated above how the power of the capitalists was strengthened rather than weakened with the attainment of liberation.

During the course of the strike it was as if this history was already happening. For three weeks 1.3 million workers put down their tools and stood united in struggle against the ANC government demanding a wage increase. Many of the workers belonged to COSATU-affiliated unions and the Independent Labour Caucus; the latter is made up of independent unions and union federations, some of which traditionally organized white collar workers and white workers. The workers displayed their power and unity in action and were able to defy court orders that disallow nurses and other ‘essential workers’ from striking.

To fully understand this strike we have to compare it with the 2007 public sector strike. The present strike built on the old strike. For example, the 2007 strike undermined the power of the argument that workers cannot strike against their ‘own government.’ It was also able to unite 17 public sector unions, quite an achievement given South Africa’s racially and ideologically divided history of unionism. But in 2007 there was no attempt to get workers in the private sector to come out in solidarity with their comrades in the public sector, something which could have been achieved by the union leaders merely by making a telephone call.

This time there was an attempt by COSATU to organize sympathy strikes in the mining, auto and municipal sectors with some unions submitting the seven-day notice period required by law for sympathy strikes. The sympathy strikes never happened as they were averted at the last minute when Zuma instructed government negotiators to go back to the table and improve their final offer which at that time stood at 7 per cent and R700 ($96 U.S.) housing allowance. The government was under pressure at the time because the police and soldiers were also threatening to strike in solidarity with their comrades. I should point out that in 2007 the resolution of the strike was problematic because it was based on the ‘occupational specific dispensation,’ that is, certain categories of workers – teachers, nurses and doctors – were given bigger increases than other public sector workers. This time the strikers united behind common demands to the bitter end.

Both the 2007 and 2010 strikes received public sympathy mainly because many ordinary South Africans are fed up with the ANC government. A lot of anger was directed at President Jacob Zuma. The workers’ placards taunted him for his polygamous marriages and promiscuity, they complained that he was visiting China during the height of the strike, and they also expressed unhappiness with government ‘fat cats’ with some referring directly to the multi-billion rand business deals secured by Zuma’s relatives since he became president. There were pointed reminders to Zuma that it was the working class that had supported him when he faced criminal charges for rape and corruption and when he was under attack from Thabo Mbeki during their power struggle. Underlying this was a feeling of betrayal by Zuma, no doubt a consequence of the COSATU and SACP leaderships’ drumming up support for him on the grounds that he was a friend of the working class. The latter point explains why the COSATU discussion paper worries that: “Amongst our constituency there is a degree of despondency, and people are beginning to question our strategies.” (p.16)

Meanwhile, even as the public sector strike ends, there are strikes in the motor components sector with workers demanding what they call a ‘double digit’ increase. This strike is affecting petrol service stations and has led to many car plants like Mercedes Benz stopping production. Some analysts have attributed the determination of the public sector workers as inspired by a series of strikes that happened immediately before the World Cup, when workers in the transport and electricity sectors, both run by government-owned companies, won double digit increases. Many people believe the government had no choice but to grant these increases because the strikes would have disrupted the hallowed sports event. But it was the public sector strike that pointedly problematized the relationship between government and the trade unions and appears to have direct political implications for the country.

Lessons From the Strike I think the strike taught millions of workers, both those on strike and those watching the strike, two main lessons. Firstly, that if the working class wants public services that are properly resourced and staffed by well-paid workers it cannot rely on using pressure and persuasion on the ANC government. Force is necessary. The working class needs to build a power that will compel the government to do what is in the interest of the working class rather than of the capitalist class and its allies. Secondly, that that power lies in the hands of workers themselves rather than in ‘worker-friendly’ government leaders. The strike served to undermine some of the lack of confidence and loss of hope afflicting the working class in South Africa. To change history in their favour, workers need to build solidarity with members of their own class, solidarity in action rather than in feelings and words.

The clumsy way the union leaders have ended the strike provides a third crucial lesson for workers. The strike, no matter how powerful and authoritative, is not enough to sustain and carry forward the working class struggle and deliver on workers’ needs. Also necessary is organization and a politics that consistently puts the interests of the working class first. The union leaders’ action exposes the core of their politics as class collaborationist; they seek solutions in agreements with a capitalist government and in accommodation with capitalist interests. The threatened sympathy strikes between public and private sector workers pointed to the only way to secure a workers’ victory; they also began the process of breaking down the invisibility and immunity enjoyed by capital in South Africa, and the belief that the ANC is ‘our government.’ The strike put the question of the power of government and the limitations of the capitalist system on the agenda. It might not be so clear in the minds of millions of workers but after three weeks of struggle the workers are different from the people they were two weeks ago.

The strike challenged the reality of capitalism because this type of struggle will face public sector workers again and again. Indeed it faces all workers. There will be no solution for workers under capitalism. The members of the public who suffered because of the strike must know that the power to end their suffering lay in the hands of a government that could simply end it by giving the workers what they want. The struggle is not about getting the ANC capitalist government to correct its policies and change its leaders. It is about alternatives – fighting to put in power a government that consistently puts the interests of the working class first – a workers’ government. That is the history that the strike tells us needs to happen in South Africa and in the world.

Despite the analogy of a roller coaster I started off with I want to end on a hopeful note. The hope arises out of the public sector strike even though it has ended inconclusively, and some would say in betrayal. The strike, seen in the context of other strikes and the many community protests taking place in the country, suggests that something new is happening in South Africa. The solidity and breadth of the public sector strike indicates that the seeds of something better, albeit scattered in the isolated different working class outbursts, are beginning to grow. The social weight of organized, mobilized workers is beginning to consolidate. It is not just about the ANC-SACP-COSATU Alliance, nor is it about the government, the state, the capitalists, the leadership or the left. It is about what millions of ordinary working class people are thinking and feeling – and beginning to do. This is what we need to look at and follow closely. This is where the hope and the work of revolutionary socialists lie. The revolution is not a Sunday school picnic and will no doubt feel like a roller coaster. But this time it will be a ride not to disaster but to a world where all forms of oppression and exploitation are eradicated. Not just in South Africa, but everywhere in the world. The workers are showing the way. •

Trevor Ngwane is a member of the Socialist Group, a small collective of socialists active in the social movements and trade unions in South Africa.

 

“The steps of power are often steps on sand.” – Edward Counsel, Maxims

The seemingly intractable political stalemate Iraqis patiently endured for the past eight months over who will be the country’s next prime minister may finally be over, but it did not come without extracting a heavy toll on the people.

The March 7 parliamentary elections saw former prime minister and perennial United States ’ favorite Iyad Allawi and his Iraqiya coalition narrowly defeat incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc.

As most know by now, the March ballot gave Allawi’s Sunni-dominated, secular Iraqiya list 91 parliamentary seats, while Maliki’s State of Law came in a close second with 89 (after Maliki’s protestations of electoral irregularities and vote manipulation, a court-ordered recount of votes cast in Baghdad did not alter the final result).

Falling a distant third was the National Iraqi Alliance (NIA, previously known as the United Iraqi Alliance), a grouping of predominately Shia parties, notably the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council headed by Ammar al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr’s eponymously-named movement. The Sadrists won a resounding 40 of the 70 NIA seats, trumping longtime political and religious al-Hakim family rivals, and allowing the young cleric, for the first time, to become the NIA’s most important voice.

No coalition came close to garnering the 163 seats needed to claim an absolute majority in the 325-member parliament and unilaterally form a government, however. The Iraqi Supreme Court ruled that the prerogative of forming one would not fall on who had won a plurality of seats (as Iraqiya did) but on who could put together a majority when parliament was seated.

And so the horse-trading began, between and within alliances. For example, it was assumed that the NIA would join with Maliki, whose own Dawa party was once part of the United Iraqi Alliance in the 2005 elections.

But Sadr remembered well the bloodbath Maliki unleashed on his Mahdi Army in Basra and Sadr City —the teeming Baghdad slum of two million—in May 2008. He indicated he would have no part in supporting a Maliki premiership and even held an unofficial referendum in Sadr City for residents to vote for their preferred candidate (former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari won).

Muqtada, now studying in Qum , Iran was pressured by the ruling clerical establishment (or the Revolutionary Guards?) to accept Maliki as prime minister, although he demanded the release of Mahdi militia members held in Baghdad ’s prisons as a precondition.

On Monday—for the first time since the March elections—leaders from all main political blocs gathered in the northern city of Irbil under the auspices of the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, to hold power-sharing talks in hopes a national unity government could be hobbled together before parliament convenes Thursday. As of this writing, it appears they ultimately succeeded

The outline of the agreement is that Maliki would stay on as prime minister, Talabani as president and the choice of parliamentary speaker would be given to Iraqiya. Allawi would head a new body called the “National Council for Security Policy” with powers ostensibly equal to that of the prime minster, although this remains unclear.

In the face of the Irbil gathering was renewed violence directed at the country’s Shia Muslims. In the shrine cities of Karbala and Najaf suicide bombers targeted Iranian pilgrims and Iraqis alike, killing dozens. The week prior, bombings across Baghdad ’s Shia neighborhoods killed 60 and wounded hundreds and came on the heels of scores of Iraqi Christians slain in Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad . 

It was emblematic of what had occurred for the greater part of a year: lives lost as politicians dithered.

Maliki, desperate to remain in power, could not fathom stepping aside in favor of a consensus candidate; a move that would have likely led to the formation of a unity government long ago.

While members of parliament continue to receive extravagant stipends, salaries and perks for having convened just once since March (and only for 20 minutes at that), ordinary Iraqis hope to just arrive home safely at night. They suffered under the blazing Iraqi sun this summer, where temperatures can soar to 49° C (120° F), with only two hours of electricity available daily to run air conditioners (for those who have them).

Average citizens’ frustration and aggravation are not about the political machinations of leaders, but because no one bothered to express concern over their plight or address their needs: electricity, clean water, education, jobs and security.

In Iraq , steps on the path to power are not steps in sand, but quicksand. Now that their obstinate quest for power has been fulfilled, Maliki and Allawi could well find themselves sinking in it if they fail to provide these basic services. And the quicksand that swallows them will be the fury of the Iraqi people.

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator.

All political memoirs are, to some extent, an exercise in self-justification, especially those by presidents and prime ministers – an obvious point, but true nonetheless. The original idea behind memoirs was to provide thoughtful reflection on past events and actions. Now they function more like a preemptive strike. Politicians use their memoirs to define their role in history before historians do it for them.

George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, waited almost two years before sitting down to pen his memoirs. The finished product, “Decision Points,” is 497 pages divided among 14 chapters.

Each of the 14 chapters deals with a “decision point” in Bush’s life and presidency, when he had to bang his fist on the desk and do something big, something statesmanlike, or hide under the desk and consign America to eternal shame – the greatest possible sin for a patriotic American, as Bush makes clear in almost every chapter.

The highlights of Bush’s memoirs are 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, the torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Hurricane Katrina, and the Wall Street crash and the ensuing global financial crisis. Bush also recalls how Israel asked him to bomb Syrian and Iranian nuclear facilities and how he wisely refused, having weighed all the pros and cons.

The main thrust of Bush’s argument is as predictable as it is uninteresting – by and large he made the right decisions and the world (Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East, America and Europe) has only benefited from them. No one knows what the world would look like today were it not for Bush and his decisions.

In an interview on an American television network to promote the book, Bush said: “I was charged with protecting America. Those decisions I made were necessary… I don’t care about perceptions. I served. I gave it my all. I’m a content man.”

Presidential memoirs as presidential pardon

George Bernard Shaw, a man of great wit and wisdom, once said: “When you read a biography remember that the truth is never fit for publication.” Readers interested in memoirs as a vehicle for absolution may be disappointed by Bush’s offering, which has already been widely excerpted on the web. There are no revelations in the book for the simple fact that Bush has already acknowledged – with major caveats – what he considers the mistakes of his presidency. (For instance, his administration was wrong about WMDs in Iraq, but America rid the world of Saddam Hussein and this justifies everything).

Bush claims he’s not concerned with how he’s seen, but this is obviously an exaggeration. You can’t change the past, but politicians who pick up a pen upon leaving office clearly want to rewrite it in some way.

During the entire postwar period, not a single U.S. president has been bold enough to produce memoirs with real historical, not to mention artistic, value. Which isn’t to say that all presidential memoirs are irredeemably bad. There are times in Bush’s memoirs when you can hear his voice, his distinct style of speaking, but for the most part the writing is, in the words of one American reviewer, “competent, readable and flat.” It will be an interesting read for researchers of the U.S. presidency and presidential psychology, but that’s it. Otherwise, it is surprisingly boring.

The list of memorable presidential memoirs is short. It includes Ulysses S. Grant’s “Personal Memoirs” (published in 1885-1886) and two volumes by Harry Truman (1945-1953) “Year of Decisions” and “Years of Trial and Hope.” Grant described his military career in his memoirs, and said next to nothing about his presidency. Both these memoirs were very successful, and the secret to their success was simple: both were written in the hope of making money and settling debts. Grant and Truman had to write something that would sell, something interesting and even useful to current and future readers, not 497 pages of self-justification.

Who needs Bush’s legacy?

It only seems like presidential memoirs are about the past. Bush’s memoirs are more about the present and the future. There is no doubt about that, especially considering that they were published after the U.S. midterm elections on November 2, in which Republicans took back the House of Representatives and won most of the governorships up for grabs, shifting the country substantially to the right. Bush’s legacy is still very much alive. Barack Obama inherited two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the worst recession since WWII, and enormous deficits from Bush and his Republican allies in Congress.

If Republicans want their ally to come to the White House in 2012 (the unofficial election campaign kicks off next year), they must rehabilitate Bush’s image. This is the purpose of “Decision Points.” Unless the Republicans can sell this new Bush to voters – a patriot who admits his mistakes but never apologizes for giving his all to his country – their chances of taking back the White House will be in serious jeopardy.

Memoirs are just the beginning of the rehabilitation process. The cornerstone will be laid at Bush’s new presidential library in Dallas on November 16. The library will feature a museum and exhibitions devoted to 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention all the trappings of a genuine American upbringing. Anyone who doubts that Bush’s image can be rehabilitated in four short years should think again. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, reading can turn a man into a knight or a lunatic.

On Sunday, October 31, when a group of militants seized a church in Baghdad, killing and wounding scores of Iraqi Christians, it signaled yet another episode of unimaginable horror in the country since the US invasion of March 2003. Every group of Iraqis has faced terrible devastation as a result of this war, the magnitude of which is only now beginning to be discovered.

True, the situation in Iraq was difficult prior to the war. Having visited the country in 1999, I can testify to this. But the hardship suffered by many Iraqis, especially political dissidents, was in some way typical characteristic of authoritarian and dictatorial regimes. Iraq could, at that time, be easily contrasted with other countries living under similar hardships. But what has happened since the war can barely be compared to any other country or any other wars since World War II. Even putting aside the devastating death toll, the sheer scale of internal displacement and forced emigration is terrifying. This is a nation that had more or less maintained a consistent level of demographic cohesion for many generations. It was this cohesion that made Iraq what it was.

Iraqi Christians communities had co-existed alongside their Muslim neighbors for hundreds of years. The churches of the two main Christian groups, the Assyrians and Chaldeans are dated back to the years A.D. 33 and 34 respectively. A recent editorial in an Arab newspaper was entitled “Arab Christians should feel at home.” As moving as the article was, the fact is, the fact remains that Arab Christians should not have to feel at home – they already are at home. Their roots dates back to the days of Jesus Christ, and since then they have maintained a unique identity and proud history under the most difficult of circumstances.

I recall a group of Iraqi children from a Chaldeans school dressed up in beautiful dark blue uniforms performing the morning nashids (songs) before going to class. They were so innocent and full of life. Their eyes spoke of promise and excitement about the future. I dread to imagine how many of these children were killed, wounded or forcefully displaced with their families, like millions of other Iraqis from all ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Today merely half of Iraq’s Christians are still living in the country, when compared to the 1987 census which listed 1.4 million Iraqi Christians. The number, following the most recent killings which resulted from Iraqi forces storming the church and exchanging fire with the kidnappers, is dwindling rapidly. The plight of Iraqi Christians seems very similar to that of Palestinian Christians, whose numbers have plummeted and continue to fall following the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. The Palestinian Christian Diaspora was a direct outcome of the Israeli occupation and the original takeover of historic Palestine in 1948. The Israeli government sees no difference between a Palestinian Christian and a Muslim.

But none of this was deemed worthy of discussion in much of the Western media, perhaps because it risked hurting the sensibility of the Israeli occupier. The troubling news coming from Iraq can now be manipulated by presenting the suffering of Christians as an offshoot of a larger conflict between Islamic militants and Christians communities in Iraq.

The fact is that Iraqi society has long been known for its tolerance and acceptance of minorities. There were days when no one used such references as Shai, Sunni and Christians; there one Iraq and one Iraqi people. This has completely changed, for part of the strategy following the invasion of Iraq was to emphasize and manipulate the ethnic and religious demarcation of the country, creating insurmountable divides. Without a centralized power to guide and channel the collective responses of the Iraqi people, all hell broke loose. Masked men with convenient militant names but no identities disappeared as quickly as they popped up to wreak havoc in the country. The communal trust that held together the fabric of the Iraqi society during the hardest of times dissolved. Utter chaos and mistrust took over, and the rest is history.

There is no question regarding the brutality and sheer wickedness of those who caused the recent murder of 52 Iraqi Christians, including a priest, in Baghdad’s main Roman Catholic church. But to confuse the issue as one between Muslims and Christians, or as a UPI report misleadingly put it – “Iraq’s Christians caught between majority Shiite and minority Sunni Muslims” – is a major injustice. It is also dangerous, for when such notions become acceptable, it enable foreign powers to justify their continued presence in Iraq on the premise that they are there to protect those ‘caught’ in the middle. In fact, for hundreds of years, every colonial power in the Middle East has used such logic to rationalize their violence and exploitation.

Indeed, there are many who are ready to use such tragedies to serve their political interests or to retrospectively validate their wanton action in Iraq. This arrogant mentality compelled Republican strategist Jack Burkman in an Aljazeera English program last May to describe the people of the Middle East as “a bunch of barbarians in the desert.”

Such hubris is further strengthened by such killings as the one that targeted Iraqi Christians. A US solider in Iraq, quoted on a recent Democracy Now program referred to Iraqi culture as a “culture of violence”, boasting that his country was trying to do something about this.

Where is the soul-searching and reflection that might ask what brought this ‘culture of violence’ to the surface? What will it take to see the “bunch of barbarians” as simply human beings who, like any other, are trying to survive, fend for their families and maintain an element of normality and dignity in their lives?

As for “Iraq’s Christians”, I must disagree with that depiction which is used widely in the media. They are not Iraq’s Christians, but Iraqi Christians. Their roots are as deep as the history of Mesopotamia, their history as rich as the fertile soil of Tigris and Euphrates. No matter how far their numbers may dwindle, like the rest of Iraqis of all backgrounds, they will remain Iraqis. And their return to their country is only a matter of time.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com.

“You fasten all the triggers for the others to fire,
Then you sit back and watch when the death count gets higher,
You hide in your mansion’s as young people’s blood flows,
Out of their bodies and in to the mud.”
Bob Dylan.

Today, is Remembrance Day, on both sides of the Atlantic. At the eleventh minute, of the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns of the First World War fell silent, leaving the estimated nine million who had died in battle, to the graves’ muteness across continents, and to France’s poppy fields. It remains the day when the deaths of subsequent tragedies and imperial follies are remembered. A day when even the cynical pause to read heartfelt notes on poppy wreaths, laid at the base of memorials, flowers refreshed on graves, stories of the lost, passed down and revisited, as more recent shared laughter, now also silenced.

Given the still mounting death toll of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and America, British and “coalition” youth, lives condemned by former President Bush and former Prime Minister Blair, on spurious claims at best and outright untruths at worst, it might be expected they would be spending some time on their knees in a place of sanctity and offering condolences to the bereaved.

Mr Bush’s plans are unknown, but Mr Blair’s are tastelessly bizarre. The man with streets and children named after him in Kosova, recipient of the Congressional Medal, Liberty Medal and other glittering honors, is to address a conference of manufacturers of toilets, toilet paper and cleaners, tampons, and vacuums, at the International Sanitary Suppliers Association (ISSA) in Orlando, Florida. He will rake in an estimated £50,000 for a forty five minute address.

Blair, of course, famously, reportedly, cleaned out No 10 Downing Street, when he left, of the gifts given him as Prime Minister. Anything over £140, is supposed to be property of the nation, but seemingly fine carpets, jewellery and all manner of collectables, moved with the Blairs.

The speaker has been flown in, courtesy Diversey Inc.who, in 2010 began: ” .. a new chapter in a long legacy of environmental sustainability … committed to a cleaner, healthier future… for everyone.” Perhaps their guest’s involvement in reducing a number of countries to largely futureless rubble, peopled with the sick, limbless and with rising cancers and deformities, in an environment poisoned by western weaponry, so far from these admirable aims, had inexplicably escaped them. Ironically, the organizers credit him with his tenure resulting in: “More people receiving faster access to health care, with improved survival rates for cancer and coronary heart disease.” Tell that to the people of the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Being a bit of a busted flush, so to speak, in the U.K., few media outlets seem to have noticed this latest engagement. One India News referred to his: “Toilet Roll Talk”, in their heading on a piece displaying advertisements including one for “Feminine Hygiene Disposal Sanitary Bins”, and another for their rental. Exhibition News revealed: “Blair takes Soapbox at U.S., Cleaning Show.”

The Daily Mail, never reticent in giving Blair a kicking, referred to his: ” … career plumbing new depths (in addressing) a conference of toilet roll and disinfectant manufacturers.” The ISSA: “… website’s glowing profile … has cleaned up his record as thoroughly as any of the stain removers on show”, chortles the paper, pointing out that: “Nowhere is there a mention of the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the dirty tricks (the) sleaze ..”, or the strange death of: “Ministry of Defence weapons expert, Dr David Kelly”, a death of which, it has been ordered, all documentation relating to, will remain sealed for seventy years.

Mail readers have also been less than kind. An apt venue: “… for a man who took his country to the cleaners in more ways than one can imagine”, wrote one; another ventured pettily that his speeches were worth less than toilet paper, anyway; another that: “Mud sticks, what better place for him to clean himself up.”

He could also: “Take the opportunity to win one of five Flex hand driers”, to be given away during the gathering.

Later in the day, he could join the Show Floor Happy Hour and: “… star in a band during Karaoke Live. Step into the spotlight – center stage” (no better man) “to jam with a live band complete with backup singers who make even a novice look like a rock star.” Should be in his element, it has been a good while since he fronted a group called “Ugly Rumours”, inspite of having created a good few in recent years.

If he is at a loose end waiting for his freebie flight out, he could pop over to Orlando’s Disneyland and take in the “Small World”, originally designed by a Mary Blair, where an animation of children of the world, frolick: “In a spirit of international unity, in a theme of global peace.”

He could then take in:”Great Moments with Mr Lincoln”, a celebration of the great man’s sayings which includes:

“Let reverence for the [law] be breathed by every … mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in primers, [in] spelling-books, and almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay of all sexes and tongues and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly [at] its altars.”

On his way out, he could suggest a new Magic Mystery Tour: “The quest for Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

Then back on the plane, with his ISSA goodie bag. With seven mansions to keep up, those cleaning products should come in useful.

And did he, the “Peace Envoy”, and new broom Catholic, at the eleventh minute, of the eleventh hour, take just those sixty seconds, in a quiet place, and reflect?

During the recent strike wave in France against the Nicolas Sarkozy government’s austerity measures and pension “reform”, demonstrators observed police infiltrating several contingents and carrying out a variety of provocative actions. The police have very conspicuously decided not to deny that they infiltrated the demonstrations.

The dubious role played by some of the rioters in the mass protests has had to be finally acknowledged by the media and leading bourgeois politicians.

A video taken by a Reuters journalist, released on October 16, shows one hooded rioter attacking a store window. “A man tries to stop him, but gets a flying kick in the back by another ‘rioter’ armed with a cosh [which could be a nightstick used by the police], before being surrounded by four or five hooded persons. A few seconds later, the man responsible for the kicking is filmed dispersing demonstrators with the help of his baton”, wrote Le Monde.

Le Monde reported on this video in the article “On the web, more and more questions are being raised about ‘the police rioters’.”

The article is linked to a report by a trade unionist who tells of another police infiltration incident at a demonstration, this time in Lyons, in east-central France.

He explains that his “union secretary was in Place Bellecour [in the centre of Lyons] before the start of the demonstration on October 19 with his firefighter colleagues and groups of young people, when they witnessed verbal and physical aggression against a group of youth by individuals who wore CGT [General Confederation of Labour] union badges.

“The firefighters intervened and managed to tackle the aggressors, with such success that they were surprised to see these individuals take out their police identity cards to defend themselves, as they were a plainclothes police unit from the BAC [Anti-Criminality Brigade]! As a result the firefighters ripped off their CGT badges and told them it would be best for them to quit the scene rapidly, which they did”.

These infiltrations had a political goal: to blow the whistle on supposed “rioters” and thus discredit the demonstrations and opposition to Sarkozy’s austerity policies. The protests are widely supported in France; at the time of writing, 65 percent of the population in polls support further strikes. By making demonstrators appear to be violent and “out of control”, with the aid of the media, the government hoped to turn public opinion against the protesting workers and students.

Some of the demonstrations, such as the one in Lyons, ended with serious acts of vandalism and a wave of arbitrary arrests by the police. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux replied to criticism of the police by Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Left Party by paying homage to the “very great efficiency” of police officers “faced with rioters”, of whom 2,254 have been taken in for questioning since October 12.

Mélenchon created controversy October 24 by officially taking up the comments that had been circulating on the Internet since the October 16 incident. He pointed out the role of Hortefeux in these police provocations, noting “the presence in the demonstrations of infiltrators who throw rocks, smash shop windows and then take out their police armbands … Who gives such orders? … I think the interior minister is aware of this”.

The police unions criticized Mélenchon’s statements. However, Hortefeux will not press charges for these comments, according to Patrice Ribeiro, head of the Synergie police union, as had been demanded by several of the cops’ organizations: “The minister believes that it is not opportune insofar as this would give Mr. Mélenchon publicity and the opportunity to bang his drum”.

By refusing to bring legal charges against Mélenchon, Hortefeux is at the very least strengthening the suspicion that an inquiry would substantiate Mélenchon’s accusations. Former police commissioner Georges Moréas has confirmed on his blog in relation to one of the videos that “it would certainly involve police infiltrated into the demonstrations”.

The police unions such as UNSA and SGP-FO do not deny police infiltration in demonstrations. Nicolas Comte, general secretary of the General Police Union (SGP-FO), told the press that “the [police] unions do not deny the presence of plainclothes police in the demonstrations, but judge this to be ‘normal and logical’.”

Bernard Thibault, the CGT leader, finally issued a statement on the role of the police in the demonstrations. He remarked in a Libération interview that “the presence of on-duty police camouflaged with union badges, in Lyons and in Paris, of that there is no doubt.… We have seen police with CGT badges spotted by our people, who take refuge in the hallway of buildings, and finish by being escorted away by CRS riot police.”

In fact, there are numerous indications that the unions and the official “left” parties were aware of these police operations from the start. Mohamed Douhane, a leader of the Synergie union, replied to Thibault on France 2 TV: “These methods are known by all union and political leaders, and the fact that some pretend to be unaware of and be offended by this is laughable and pitiful”.

French union leaders have given interviews to the press which imply that they collaborate closely with the organs of state repression.

In an October 15 Le Monde article headlined, “The truck drivers ‘in solidarity with the rest of the population’,” the leader of CFDT–Route (French Democratic Confederation of Labour truck drivers’ union, allied to the Socialist Party), Maxime Dumont, told a journalist: “These days we have more dialogue with the intelligence services [“les renseignements généraux”] than with political leaders!”

In the interview Dumont did not clarify the character of these discussions with the French intelligence services, or what information the CFDT gave about strikers to the state.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, is in the United States this week, but few observers expect an immediate or significant breakthrough in the stalled peace talks with the Palestinian leadership.
 
In public, Mr Netanyahu maintains he is committed to the pledge he made last year, shortly after he formed his right-wing government, to work towards the creation of a demilitarised Palestinian state.
 
But so far he has proved either unwilling or unable to renew even a partial freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank — a key condition set by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, for reviving the negotiations.
 
Most of Mr Netanyahu’s cabinet, including Avigdor Lieberman, his foreign minister, barely conceal their opposition to Palestinian statehood. Instead, Mr Netanyahu has imposed a precondition of his own: that the Palestinians recognise Israel as the state of the Jewish people.
 
A leading analyst of Palestinian politics says the picture is not as bleak for the Palestinians as it might appear.
 
Asad Ghanem, a professor of political science at Haifa University, predicts Mr Netanyahu and his cabinet will eventually come to rue their obduracy.
 
The intransigence and the unabashed espousal of “an ideology of Jewish supremacy” by Mr Netanyahu and his supporters will lead to the gradual “reunification” of the Palestinian people, Dr Ghanem said in an interview.
 
In clinging to a vision of Greater Israel, Mr Netanyahu and the right are fuelling a potentially powerful Palestinian nationalism that could yet come to crush not only the occupation but Israel’s status as a Jewish state, said Dr Ghanem, the author of several books on Palestinian nationalism.
 
Dr Ghanem, who belongs to Israel’s Palestinian minority, a fifth of the country’s population, noted that the original goal of Israel’s founders was to use a sophisticated version of divide-and-rule to weaken an emerging Palestinian national movement that opposed Zionism.
 
The war of 1948 that created Israel led to the first and most significant division: between the minority of Palestinians who remained inside the new territory of Israel and the refugees forced outside its borders, who today are numbered in millions.
 
Since 1967, Israel has fostered many further splits: between the cities and rural areas; between the West Bank and Gaza; between East Jerusalem and the West Bank; between the main rival political movements, Fatah and Hamas; and between the PA leadership and the diaspora.
 
Israel’s guiding principle has been to engender discord between Palestinians by putting the interests of each group into conflict, said Dr Ghanem. “A feuding Palestinian nation was never likely to be in a position to run its own affairs.”
 
He is dismissive of plans by Mr Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, to try to revive the Oslo process by bypassing Israel and seeking the international community’s blessing for the establishment of a Palestinian state next summer.
 
Palestinian leaders who have pursued statehood, Dr Ghanem added, have done so on terms dictated by Israel.
 
First the rights of the refugees to be considered part of the Palestinian nation were sacrificed, then those of the Palestinians inside Israel. Next parts of East Jerusalem and all of Gaza were excluded. And now finally, he said, even significant parts of the West Bank were almost certain to be counted outside a future Palestinian state.
 
“The core of the negotiations for Abbas is about ending the occupation, but he has progressively conceded to Israel its very narrow definition of what constitutes occupied land. The rights of the refugees and other Palestinians to be included in the Palestinian nation now exist chiefly at the level of rhetoric.”
 
The Israeli right’s insistence on Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would accelerate the unravelling of Israel’s long-term policy of fragmenting the Palestinian people.
 
“All Palestinians are affected by such a demand, not just those living inside Israel. The Palestinian national movement accepted Israel as a state decades ago but Netanyahu is not satisfied by that.
 
“He wants to reopen the 1948 file,” Dr Ghanem said, referring to the war that established Israel by expelling and dispossessing 80 per cent of the Palestinian people. “He is provoking the Palestinian national movement to reassess the accepted two-state model for ending the conflict.”
 
As fewer and fewer Palestinians cling to the belief that Israel will ever agree to partition the territory, the physical and ideological barriers between the Palestinian sub-groups are starting to crumble, he said.
 
The separate struggles of the Palestinians — for civil rights among Israel’s Palestinian minority; for national liberation by those in the occupied territories; and for the right of return among the diaspora — were being superseded by “a common fight against the reality of an ethnic apartheid”.
 
Dr Ghanem added that, when Palestinians came to realise that they would never be offered more than a “crippled state” by Israel, the new paradigm would become “one binational, democratic state for all Palestinians and Jews in historic Palestine”.
 
The different Palestinian factions would eventually merge their political platforms. The civil rights movement rapidly emerging among Palestinians inside Israel would then serve to complement the fledgling anti-apartheid struggle in the occupied territories.
 
Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories, as well as the millions of refugees, said Dr Ghanem, would one day come to thank Mr Netanyahu for bringing them together.
 
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
 
A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.

America’s Devolution Into Dictatorship

November 11th, 2010 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The United States Department of Justice (sic) routinely charges and convicts innocents with bogus and concocted  crimes that are not even on the statutes book. The distinguished defense attorney and civil libertarian, Harvey A. Silverglate, published a book last year, “Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent,” which conclusively proves that today in “freedom and democracy” America we have punishment without crime.

This same Justice (sic) Department, which routinely frames and railroads the innocent, argued in Federal Court on November 8 that the US government, if approved by the president, could murder anyone it wishes, citizens or noncitizens, at will.  All that is required is that the government declare, without evidence, charges, trial, jury conviction or any of the due process required by the US Constitution, that the government suspects the murdered person or persons to be a “threat.”

The US Justice (sic) Department even told US Federal District Court Judge John Bates that the US judiciary, formerly a co-equal branch of government, has absolutely no legal authority whatsoever to stick its nose into President “Change” Obama’s decision to assassinate Americans. The unaccountability of the president’s decision to murder people is, the US Justice (sic) Department declared, one of “the very core powers of the president as commander in chief.”

The argument by the Justice (sic) Department that the executive branch has unreviewable authority to kill Americans, whom the executive branch has unilaterally, without presenting evidence, determined to pose a threat, was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center For Constitutional Rights.

The outcome of the case will determine whether the neoconservative and Israeli stooge, president George W. Bush, was correct when he said that the US Constitution was nothing but a “scrap of paper.”

It is my opinion that the American people and the US Constitution haven’t much chance of winning this case. The Republican Federalist Society has succeeded in appointing  many federal district, appeals and supreme court judges, who believe that the powers of
the executive branch are superior to the powers of the legislature and judiciary. The Founding Fathers of our country declared unequivocally that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches were co-equal, However,  the Republican brownshirts who comprise the Federalist Society have implanted the society’s demonic ideology in the federal bench and Justice (sic) Department. Today the erroneous belief is widespread that the executive branch is supreme and that the other branches of government are less than equal.

If Americans have a greater enemy than neoconservatives, that enemy is the Federalist Society.

Disagree with me as you will, but now let’s look at this development from another perspective. I am old enough to remember the Nixon years, and I was a presidential appointee, confirmed by the US senate, in the Reagan administration. For those of you too young to know and those who are to old to remember, President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment simply because Nixon lied about when he learned about the burglary of the Watergate office of the Democratic party.

Nixon lied about when he learned of the burglary, because he knew that the Washington Post would make an issue of the burglary, if he launched an investigation, to defeat  his re-election.  The military/security complex and the black ops groups in the US government were angry at Nixon for smoothing US-China relations. The Washington Post, long regarded as a CIA asset, hid behind its “liberal” image to bring Nixon down. Woodward and Bernstein wrote thriller-type reports of midnight meetings with “deep throat” in dangerous parking garages to get the scoop on the date of Nixon’s knowledge of the meaningless burglary.

Let’s assume that I have it all wrong. The fact remains that Nixon was driven from office because of the Watergate burglary.  No one was harmed. Nixon did not kill anyone or claim the right to kill, without proof or accountability, American citizens.  If the dastardly President Nixon had a Justice (sic) Department like the present one, he simply would have declared Woodward, Bernstein, and the Washington Post to be a threat and murdered them by merely exercising the power that the Obama administration is claiming.

Nixon might be too far in the past for most Americans, so let’s look at Ronald Reagan.

The neoconservatives’ Iran/Contra scandal almost brought down President Reagan. It is unclear whether President Reagan knew about the neocon operation and, if he did, whether he was keep in the loop. But all of this aside, what do you think would have been President Reagan’s fate if he, or his Justice (sic) Department, had declared that Reagan had the power as commander in chief to murder anyone he considered to be a threat?

Instantly, the media would have been in an uproar, law schools and university faculties would have been in an uproar, the Democrats would have been demanding Reagan’s impeachment, and his impeachment would have occurred with the speed of light.

Today in Amerika, approximately 25 years later, the ACLU has to go to federal court in order to attempt to affirm that “if the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the president does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state.”

In reply, the Justice (sic) Department told the court that murdering American citizens is a “political question” that is not subject to judicial review. The “freedom and democracy” government then invoked the “state secrets privilege” and declared that the case against the government’s power to commit murder must be dismissed in order to avoid “the disclosure of sensitive information”

If the Obama Regime wins this case, the US will have become a dictatorship.

As far as I can tell, the “liberal media” and most Americans do not care. Indeed, conservative Republicans are cheering it on.

At the next NATO summit meeting in Lisbon from November 19th to 21st 2010, the new NATO strategy will be adopted. The new strategy should “lead NATO through the uneasy and dangerous times at the beginning of the 21st century”, as formulated in the contract for the development of the new strategy at the summit of heads of states and governments in Strasbourg in April 2009.

The expert group set up for designing the strategy, placed under the direction of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, made its recommendations in May for the new NATO strategy, entitled “NATO 2020”. “The alliance must be versatile and flexible in this time period of uncertainty in the 21st century”, said Madeleine Albright at the presentation of the report. If a (first) conclusion of this document is to be drawn, than it can only be: pure militarism, continuing of the wars, especially in Afghanistan and, above all, further nuclear armament.

The words are more cautious and vague, but the reality is brutal and war-like. Approaches for greater political cooperation, e.g. with Russia, are foiled by aggressive armament policy (including the missile defence system). The critique of the peace movement, which we have formulated in connection with the 60th birthday of NATO, is still necessary and correct: NATO is a dinosaur that should be abolished.

NO to the new NATO-Strategy! Getting Active for Global Peace, Disarmament and the End of NATO

Location: Escola Secundária de Camões, Lisboa

-In the years after the end of the Cold War, the US could police the world simply with its “hard power,” as was shown by its war in Iraq and its involvement in Yugoslavia. Yet the US has been faced with increasing difficulty in pushing forward with its tough policies around the world.

The US economy has been struggling in the past few years. Yet, the concept of “smart power” promoted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been playing an active role in the country’s foreign relations, creating tangible heat, especially in Asia.

Old disputes between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands broke out again recently and has evolved into a major crisis. Hanoi suddenly became a center where Southeast Asian countries challenged China’s role in the South China Sea.

These are not simply quarrels between China and Japan or Southeast Asia. The US plays a major part.

It was Clinton who openly questioned China’s South China Sea policy. The US also backed Japan after the collision crisis by stating that the US-Japanese security treaty applies to the Diaoyu Islands.

In the years after the end of the Cold War, the US could police the world simply with its “hard power,” as was shown by its war in Iraq and its involvement in Yugoslavia. Yet the US has been faced with increasing difficulty in pushing forward with its tough policies around the world.

Clinton has a complicated interpretation of the “smart power” theory. She uses a handful of tools such as diplomacy, economics, military, and politics, as well as legal, and cultural tools.

In Asia, however, US foreign policy basically encourages disagreements among Asian countries, especially by rallying Asian countries against China. The US then collects the fruit.

It is sad that a couple of smart power tricks are shaking the vulnerable stability in the western Pacific.

The fact that a few words by Clinton could have such an impact in this region indicates that many countries in Asia are more or less under the influence of the US. It doesn’t matter if these countries felt they were acting on their best interests or not, they often made their moves as if they were robots programmed by the US.

Asians have to be clear on what they want. If the goal is peace and prosperity in this region, can the counterbalance provided by the smart power of the US really lead to that? How many resources will be wasted keeping this “balance of power?” And how sure are these countries that they can keep the situation from escalating?

The US has been trying to apply its smart power in China for quite some time now.

As the major target of US smart power, China has to be on guard. It will not only watch to prevent the US from messing up Asia, but also prevent the US from sticking its hands into China.

U.S. Debt Proposal Would Cut Social Security, Taxes, Medicare

By Heidi Przybyla and Brian Faler – Nov 10, 2010

A presidential commission’s leaders proposed a $3.8 trillion deficit-cutting plan that would trim Social Security and Medicare, reduce income-tax rates and eliminate tax breaks including the mortgage-interest deduction.

The plan would overhaul the federal budget by throwing out hundreds of tax breaks for items such as capital gains and child care. It would raise the gas tax, slash defense spending and bring down health-care costs by clamping down on medical malpractice suits. The Social Security retirement age would be raised to 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075.

“This country’s out of money and we better start thinking,” said Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of the panel created by President Barack Obama. Without “tough choices,” Bowles said, “we’re on the most predictable path toward an economic crisis that I can imagine.”

Bowles, former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, and Republican former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming announced the proposal in Washington today, stressing that it was intended as a starting point for discussion.

The savings would come between 2012 and 2020. The result would be a deficit totaling about $400 billion or about 2.2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in 2015. That would exceed Obama’s goal for the panel of a reduction to 3 percent, from the current 9 percent of GDP.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said in an e-mail the proposals “are only a step in the process towards coming up with a set of recommendations.” He said Obama wants to give the panel “space to work on it” and wouldn’t comment on the plan.

Lawmakers Balking

The chairmen’s plan is already causing some Democrats and Republicans on the 18-member commission to balk. While most economists say some combination of spending cuts and tax increases is necessary, Republicans are wary of tax hikes and Democrats are reluctant to reduce U.S. government benefits.

“This is not a package that I could support,” Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, said during a break in a private meeting by the commission before the chairmen released details of their plan. She said any package able to win the necessary 14 votes on the panel would have to look “very different” from the options under discussion.

None of the proposals would take effect next year to avoid disrupting the economic recovery. Bowles said income-tax rates would be reduced to three levels: 8 percent, 14 percent and 23 percent.

Mortgage Deduction

Wiping out all tax breaks, including the home mortgage deduction, while lowering rates would save $100 billion a year, Bowles said. Members of the panel could decide to keep some tax breaks by offering offsetting cuts, he said.

Bowles said about three-quarters of the savings would come from spending cuts with the remainder from tax increases.

“We have harpooned every whale in the ocean and some of the minnows,” Simpson said. “No one has done this before.”

The proposal calls for discretionary spending to be cut by $1.4 trillion over 10 years, while mandatory spending — including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — would be reduced by $733 billion. Taxes would be raised by $751 billion, including a 15-cent increase in the gas tax starting in 2013.

Tax increases would begin in 2012, when they would total $69 billion. They would ramp up to $372 billion in 2015, $588 billion in 2018 and $761 billion in 2020.

Farm subsidies would be cut by $3 billion a year. The proposal would also attempt to slow the growth of health-care costs by paying doctors participating in the Medicare health program for the elderly less and calling for “comprehensive” legislation to reduce medical malpractice costs.

Freezing Federal Salaries

Discretionary spending cuts in the plan include reducing congressional and White House budgets by 15 percent, freezing federal salaries and cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent. The discretionary reductions would be split equally between defense and domestic programs, Bowles said.

The plan calls for $100 billion in defense cuts, including freezing federal salaries and noncombat military pay at 2011 levels for three years and reducing spending on research and development and on facilities maintenance.

The government is projected to run $8 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years, which would push the national debt up to more than $20 trillion.

The panel’s goals drew praise from Maya MacGuineas, president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington-based group that advocates balanced budgets. The plan “would fix our fiscal problems and truly reflects a balanced compromise across party lines,” she said.

Some of the plan would be painful, she said, “but we must be mindful of the consequences if we fail to act.”

Simpson said the plan was designed to give members of the panel something to “chew on” for further discussions.

‘Witness Protection’

“This is Al’s and my proposal, nobody else’s,” Bowles said. “The president hasn’t seen this proposal.”

Some members of Obama’s financial team have seen the plan and they liked some things and not others, he said. Asked how interest groups would react, Bowles joked, “we’re going to be in the witness protection program.”

Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, called the plan a “starting point for the conversation.”

“We’re not going to have an up-or-down vote on this,” said Durbin. “There are proposals in there that are painful. I told them I said there are things in here which inspire me and other things which I hate like the devil hates holy water. I’m not going to vote for those things.”

Some Republicans also expressed skepticism that the report would survive in its current form. New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg called the plan a “starting point.” Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas said “some of it I like, some of it disturbs me.”

Russia, NATO in disagreement on missile threats

November 10th, 2010 by Alexander Vatutin

Russia does not appoint or conjure up enemies. A pronouncement about this by its NATO Ambassador Dmitri Rogozin was quickly followed by a similar one from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Indeed, Russia’s cooperation on missile defence and other matters with NATO does not hold any particular third party in its sights. It is focused on potential, not actual, threats.

The third party in question is of course Iran, which NATO believes has to be confronted with a Europe-based missile defence system.

Russia disagrees, arguing Iran is light years away from acquiring missile systems that can hit Europe.

The matter is on the agenda of the next NATO-Russia summit in Lisbon on November 20th….

According to NATO spokesman James Appathurai, even some common ground on missile defence is a possibility.

The Russian delegation in Brussels was led by Anatoli Antonov, the same diplomat who successfully negotiated the latest Russian-American strategic arms reduction treaty, signed at a summit in Prague on April 8th.

Number of Afghan Air Strikes Highest Ever

November 10th, 2010 by Luis Martinez

Remember how last month’s air strike numbers raised eyebrows because they had spiked to 700 in the month of September? Well, the Air Force has released October’s statistics and continuing with this year’s upward trend, the number of airstrikes rose to 1,000 last month. That’s the highest single month total ever in the air war in Afghanistan, the previous high had been 984 in June, 2008.

The September percentage increase over the same month a year ago was an eye-popping 172 percent, but this time around the difference between Octobers is 52 percent because there were 660 strikes last October.

The Air Force uses the term weapons releases to describe when US and NATO aircraft drop bombs on enemy targets or use their guns to provide combat support for ground troops.

Overall, the 26,948 combat missions (sorties) this year has already overtaken last year’s number of 26,474.

The number of airstrikes began to trend upward earlier this year in May and June when Gen. McChrystal was still in charge of NATO forces in Afghanistan. When he took command the year before, McChrystal had placed restrictions on the use of airstrikes if civilians were nearby. He did this in an effort to turn around negative Afghan public opinion that had soured on NATO because of incidents where airstrikes targeting Taliban targets had also resulted in civilian casualties.

Kako Haški Tribunal proizvodi dokaze?

November 10th, 2010 by Stefan Karganović

Постоје најмање три важна разлога зашто Сребреницу треба подвргнути беспоштедној критичкој деконструкцији [1] све док не дођемо до потпуне истине.

Правни. Интегритет међународног правног система биће озбиљно компромитован уколико остану неоспорени резултати рада једног политичког инструмента какав је Међународни кривични суд за бившу Југославију. Прећутно прихватање његове непрофесионалне праксе довешће до општег снижавања правних критерија, поставиће низ опасних преседана и послаће поруку да су међународне правне институције фарса и да их некажњено може инструментализовати онај ко је у даном моменту носилац хегемонистичког утицаја у свету. Ако установи коју је бивши председник Милошевић, који је на свом живописном, али у овом случају ненамерно савршеном, енглеском назвао „лажним трибуналом“ (false tribunal), буде допуштено да се кити незаслуженим престижом, онда неће бити сјајна будућност међународне правне науке. Правилно конституисани међународни правни органи, који раде у потпуности према успостављеним принципима међународне правне науке, биће компромитовани сваком везом са МКТБЈ.

Историјски. Када корумпирани политика и новинарство делују руку под руку са корумпираним судством, резултат је, бар на неко време, лажна слика историјских збивања. Тај лажни историјски запис онда служи као позадина за лажне анализе и за досадно моралисање о политичким грешкама које су наводно омогућиле да се деси један такав ужас као што је Сребреница. [2] Наравно, не постоји ни трун искрености нити истинске самокритичности у тим театралним бесмислицама. [3] Стварна сврха хипокритичког самокажњавања јесте да се створи квази моралистичко образложење за бахату агресију и проактивне нападе било где на Земљиној кугли. Ово лажно образложење дозвољава агресорима да тврде да су њихови поступци, који потпуно газе норме међународног права, у ствари оправдане мере будући да су предузете из разлога дубоке привржености хуманитарном императиву да се више не сме догодити да се понови „Сребреница“. Практичан резултат ове лажне хуманитарне бриге, у чијој се позадини налазе лажи о „лекцијама из Сребренице“, да поменемо само неке примере, јесу убијања у Фалуџи, мучионице у Гвантанаму, окупација и уништавање Ирака и убиство око милион његових становника, те мучеништво људи у Авганистану. [4] Ово су само неке од употреба Сребренице (како би то рекла Дајана Џонстон) на геополитичком плану. Локално гледано, она има и другу употребу, као инструмент политичке уцене и моралног притиска на један мали и храбри народ чије одбијање да сарађује ремети планове садашњих хегемона, као што се тврдоглаво противљење њихових родитења пре 70 година озбиљно косило са плановима оних који су играли улогу хегемона те епохе. „Сребреница“ је главни политички и морални инструмент који се сада користи за контролисање српске политичке елите и за систематско покоравање српског народа. Стварање и наметање лажног историјског записа релевантних догађаја неопходно је за успех тог пројекта.

Зато првосвештеници лажног сребреничког култа будно мотре на најмањи наговештај критичког размишљања, било где, о њиховој лажној конструкцији. Они одмах затим претећи реагују да је сваки „покушај ревизије историјских чињеница“ у вези са Сребреницом – строго забрањен! [5] Један од механизама, како они по мери својих пропагандних потреба те „чињенице“ фабрикују, биће илустрован у продужетку.

Морални. Од свих циничних злоупотреба Сребренице, далеко најокрутнија је морална. Искориштена је да окаља целу једну нацију најсуровијим злочином који се може починити. Моћна машинерија пропаганде, политике и судства активирана је искључиво у сврху стварања једне срамне обмане која се онда потврђује као „истина“ у интеракцији политичких и квазилегалних установа суровог и пљачкашког светског поретка. Они који је требало да имају користи од ове шараде, босански муслимани, нису је уопште имали. Баш као и када је руководство у Сарајеву 1995. године безосећајно издало и напустило становништво сребреничке енклаве у склопу неке политичке комбинације за окончање рата, босанске муслимане су као групу изманипулисали на глобалном нивоу њихови брижни западни „заштитници“, а да већина њих тога није ни свесна. [6] Резултат је имплицитно реваншистичко подстицање на узајамни покољ у целој Босни, са посебном суровошћу у подручју Сребренице, што је затровало односе међу комшијама и поставило темеље дугорочној нестабилности региона, којим се, услед свега тога, од сада једино може управљати интервенцијом страних арбитара. „Сребреница“ је творевина која има вишестуку сврху.

Да резимирамо, опаки мит који су креатори „Сребренице“ створили генерисао је опасне преседане: лажну судску праксу, лажну историју и лажни међународни „морал.“

Фабриковање «чињеница». Правницима је познато да је у премету који један суд разматра основни задатак тог суда да утврди чињенице. Поуздано утврђене чињенице полазна су тачка за сваку даљу озбиљну правну анализу. Без поуздане чињеничне подлоге, сви даљи закључци суда проблематични су и спорни. Утврђивање чињеница делимично регулишу процесна правила која се на то односе, а делимично обичајне норме судске праксе. Када при разматрању чињеница преовлађују правилник доказног поступка и обичајне норме судске праксе, тада су шансе знатне да ће констатоване чињенице бити поуздане и да ће закључак суда који се на њих ослања моћи да издржи критику. У противном, не.

За разлику од нормалних и неполитичких судова у националним јурисдикцијама, Хашки трибунал се не ограничава на пуко утврђивање чињеница, изведено на прописан и опште прихваћен начин. Када се имају у виду специфичне потребе и задаци Трибунала, то је разумљиво. Када би се Трибунал ограничавао на норме професионалне праксе, постоји стварна опасност да он не би имао довољно материјала да гради своје унапред зацртане закључке, и да их затим претаче у своје «пресуде». Зато Хашки трибунал прибегава једном крајње нерегуларном поступку: чињенице које су му неопходне он производи и проглашава по потреби. На тај начин он «запушава рупе» (а оне су често многобројне и зјапеће) у оптужницама и у диспозитиву својих пресуда и он фабрикује привидну основу за унапред донете закључке.

У овом огледу приказаћемо како тај противправни систем у Хагу обавља свој посао тако што ћемо усредсредити пажњу на један врло значајан пример. Заглушујућа пропаганда у вези са «8.000 стрељаних бошњачких заробљеника» (касније преправљено у емотивну фразу: 8.000 мушкараца и дечака) не допушта могућност да се нека елементарна питања поставе и разборито претресу. Једно од најважнијих међу њима гласи: када су, где, и како, српске снаге заробиле тако велики број људи да би их затим могле стрељати? Без претходног масовног заробљавања, нема ни накнадног масовног стрељања. Да би могли да стрељате 8.000 људи, ви морате прво да их заробите.

Како Хашки трибунал решава питање заробљеника а то значи, пре свега, њиховог стварног броја? У пресуди генералу Крстићу, која је неколико стотина страница дуга, то централно питање третира се врло лаконски, en passant, као да се ради о некој споредној ствари, у свега једном параграфу – 83. Ако идемо трагом фуснота у тој пресуди, видећемо да се веће за закључак о постојању 6.000 заробљеника ослања на свега четири извора:

Прво, доказни предмет 523.27, што би требало да буде пресретнути разговор на основу којег произилази да су српске снаге већ 13 јула имале под својом контролом око 6.000 заробљеника.

Међутим, проблем са доказним предметом P 523 (.27 односи се на редни број разговора о којем се ради) јесте да се он помиње само у првостепеној пресуди, али нигде у транскрипту суђења, нити доказни предмет P 523 постоји у бази података коју Трибунал води за Крстићев предмет. На списку пресретнутих разговора за 13 јули такође нема помена од овог документа.

То оставља као могућност да је тај доказни предмет био уведен на затвореној седници или под печатом. Да је био уведен на отвореном заседању, секретар суда би гласно навео његов број, па би у транскрипту ипак остао неки траг. У сваком случају, а то је једино битно, овај докуменат где се наводно помиње критична цифра од 6.000 заробљеника недоступан је и непроверљив. То је исто као и да не постоји.

Други ослонац за закључак већа у предмету Крстић везано за број заробљеника пре него што су почела погубљења је сведочење пуковника Франкена, заменика команданта холандског батаљона у сребреничкој енклави у периоду њеног заузимања јула 1995. године.

Када је сведочио 4 априла, 2000. године [7], Франкен је изјавио да му је цифру од 6.000 заробљених Муслимана саопштио извесни српски мајор Јанковић у разговору који су водили 14 јула. Мало раније, за тог истог официра Франкен каже да му се «чинило да је он био централна личност на српској страни.» [8] Ако је мајор Јанковић заиста био тако «централна личност» као што Франкен мисли, њему је пошло за руком да до сада остане потпуно незапажен у сребреничкој причи.

Сада се постављају важна питања: ко је заправо био тај српски официр Јанковић и на основу чега је он на Франкена оставио утисак да је «централна личност»? На каквом је он положају могао бити да би располагао податком овакве врсте? А и да јесте био на таквом положају, као професионалац зар би он био толико брбљив да тако деликатне информације, док је операција још била у току, открива неком страном официру? Најзад, питање које је најважније: зашто би се Трибунал задовољио нечијим исказом из друге руке о томе шта је неко рекао, и то у вези са информацијом која је од прворазредног значаја за чињеничну основу на којој цео предмет почива? Зашто Трибунал није наредио Јанковићу да дође да сведочи да би веће његов исказ могло да чује и оцени из прве руке? Трибунал је имао све потребне ингеренције (и у разним другим приликама он их је без оклевања користио) да Јанковићу изда наређење, под претњом казне за непоштовање суда, да дође у Хаг и да лично посведочи на околности које су му наводно биле познате у вези са бројем муслиманских заробљеника.

Уместо тога, по једном кључном питању веће је пуну веру поклонило рекла-казала исказу и такав исказ је уградило у своју пресуду као да је то проверена и веродостојна чињеница.

Треће, сведочење војног вештака Тужилаштва, Вилијама Батлера, преко кога је уведен наводни пресретнути разговор од 18 јула [9] где српски саговорници помињу да је „4.000 до 5.000 заробљеника“ завршило са смртним исходом. Сврха тог навода је да појача утисак да је ВРС морала имати велики број заробљеника ако је успела да до 18. јула тако велики број побије.

Важно је напоменути да Батлер у својој експертизи користи енглески превод пресретнутог разговора, где се за смртни исход користи фраза “kicked the bucket.” Мало даље, Батлер признаје да не говори српски (односно БХС, званични комбиновани језик Трибунала) и да само «предпоставља» да kicked the bucket значи исто што и «убијени,» јер на основу његовог војног искуства «немогуће је да је ни приближно 4.000 или 5.000 могло настрадати у колони између 14. и 17. или 18. јула. Ја само могу да предпоставим,» наставља Батлер, «да се то односи на мушкарце Муслимане који су били пребачени у зону Зворничке бригаде, где су били стрељани.» [10]

Интересантно је да је неколико година касније, под унакрсним испитивањем у предмету Поповић, Батлер ипак био принуђен да модификује свој став. [11] Он је тада признао да би било разборито претпоставити да је „…између 1000 и 2000 Бошњака могло страдати у борбеним дејствима“ која је водила колона, што је ипак ближе претходно «немогућим» цифрама. Затим, имамо извештаје посматрача УН и других тела, који су били сачињени практично истовремено са догађајима на које се односе, где се по разним изворима број настрадалих у борбеним дејствима процењује на око 3.000. [12] То је још ближе оној цифри настрадалих у легитимним борбеним дејствима за коју је у предмету Крстић Батлер тврдио да је «немогућа».

Према томе, ипак се чини да губици колоне нису били тако безначајни као што се веће у предмету Крстић трудило да их прикаже, како би умањивањем броја погинулих могло да увећа број наводно стрељаних, а да укупна цифра настрадалих не испадне баш потпуно нереална и апсурдна. Али да се вратимо сада на енглеску фразу to kick the bucket, коју, мада признаје да не говори језик на коме је био вођен разговор који анализира, Батлер тумачи у једном врло одређеном смислу. Наиме, он у свом тумачењу децидно тврди да су саговорници у пресретнутом разговору могли имати на уму само једну ствар, а то су стрељани заробљеници, никако настрадали у борбама. Међутим, ту настају два проблема.

Као прво, у бази докумената Хашког трибунала нигде нема српског записа тог пресретнутог разговора. Услед тога, особе које владају изворним језиком не могу да провере његову садржину и да – за разлику од језично хендикепираног „вештака“ Батлера – компетентно оцене његово право значење. У вези питања које је кључно, једини текст разговора који се користи као доказ постоји само у преводу на енглески, а то је језик којим се учесници у том наводном разговору сигурно нису служили.

Друго, да је „вештак“ Батлер – који не говори језик подручја и догађаја које вештачи – имао мало истанчанији осећај за сопствени језик, њему би одмах пало у очи да је тумачење које суду нуди са становишта енглеског језика натегнуто и готово немогуће. На енглеском, “to kick the bucket” значи умрети, са јаком сугестијом да је то било од болести, старости или неког другог природног узрока. У сваком случају, свако ко влада идиоматичним енглеским зна да та фраза не може да се односи на насилну смрт, што значи ни на погибију током борбених дејстава, ни на стрељање.

Зато је битно да неко ко говори српски, или БХС, како год хоћете, прочита изворни текст овог разговора и да га већу и широј јавности правилно протумачи. Али, као што смо истакли, у «транспарентном» правном амбијенту Хашког трибунала, то је немогуће зато што у бази података Трибунала изворног текста овог разговора једноставно – нема.

Најзад, четврти доказ за цифру од 6.000 заробљених јесте наводни пресретнути разговор од 13 јула, 1995. [13] Овај «доказ» је интересантан зато што отворено указује на тенденциозност суда који се не либи да искористи било шта, без обзира колико танко то било, ако би се само могло употребити као привидна подршка за унапред донете закључке.

У овом наводном разговору саговорници су означени као X и Y. Дакле, за разлику од мистериозног мајора Јанковића, њима се чак ни имена не знају. Зато, нити је могуће позвати их да потврде или одбаце разговор који им се приписује, нити је могуће проценити да ли су они заиста били у позицији да располажу подацима којима баратају. (Ово последње је питање од прворазредног значаја које би одмах поставио сваки озбиљан суд.) Ми чак не знамо ни да ли су стварно постојали. Дакле, по Тужилаштву, а веће то прихвата, анонимуси X и Y воде разговор у 17 30 часова 13 јула и Y каже X-у да се на три различите тачке налази „од прилике по 1.500 до 2.000“ заробљеника, или „око 6.000“ укупно. (Прилог 1)

Једна мала дигресија помоћиће да би се разумела игра Трибунала. Зашто им је потребно да покажу да су српске снаге држале „око 6.000“ заробљеника баш у 17 30 часова 13 јула? Зато што је то практично последњи тренутак када је масовно заробљавање Муслимана из колоне још увек било могуће. Колона је, да се потсетимо, пошла из села Шушњара у јачини од 12.000 до 15.000 делимично наоружаних мушкараца у ноћи 11 на 12 јули, 1995. Предвече 13 јула колона је већ прешла цесту Братунац – Коњевић Поље и кретала се планинским пределима према Тузли. Од те тачке па надаље одвијала су се борбена дејства на заседама које је постављала ВРС, али осим заробљавања појединаца и мањих групица на основу исказа преживелих припадника колоне нема доказа да је било масовних предаја српским снагама. Ако је већих заробљавања било, с обзиром на околности и конфигурацију терена она су се могла догодити само између Шушњара и Коњевић Поља, дакле до поподнева 13 јула, па Трибунал сходно томе и конструише свој „доказни“ материјал.

Али чак и тако, понуђени разговор два анонимуса не подржава у потпуности идеално тумачење које одговара Трибуналу. За сваку од три тачке где су се наводно налазили заробљеници помиње се процена у распону од по 1.500 до 2.000 људи. Ако је суд из неког разлога и био склон да уважи податке безимених саговорника, он је ипак имао избор да се определи за ниже цифре, које укупно дају не шест него око 4.500 заробљених. На тај начин минимизирала би се могућност погрешке, или бар грешило би се на страни обазривости. Међутим, суд по сваку цену мора да испуни норму и да прикаже што већи број заробљених да би произвољна цифра побијених изгледала веродостојније. Четири и по хиљаде је тек мало изнад половине и зато то не делује довољно упечатљиво. Сходно томе, суд бира и сабира оне бројеве који његовој замисли највише одговарају.

Међутим, та замисао је неодржива не само зато што се темељи на доказима који су исувише неозбиљни и танки, већ и зато што је целокупна конструкција догађаја у суштини нелогична. Пре свега, мало је вероватно да би око 1.500 српских војника, колико је учествовало у нападу на Сребреницу, успело да у добрим делом наоружаној колони од 12.000 до 15.000 зароби 6.000 Муслимана. [14] Затим, ако су Муслимани – по званичној причи – одлучили да крену у пробој према Тузли из оправданог страха да ће их Срби на лицу места све побити, зашто би се они својим џелатима масовно предавали, и то на само неколико километара од полазне тачке? Ако су били спремни да се предају, зашто нису остали и то учинили у Сребреници 11. јула, уместо да се без потребе окупљају у Шушњарима и крећу у пробој?

У предмету Крстић, који је у вези са Сребреницом опште прихваћен као камен-темељац јуриспруденције Трибунала, и где се по први пут појављује правна квалификација геноцида, претресно веће у пресуди тврди да је на основу разматрања неколико извора склопило слику према којој стоји да су већ 13 јула српске снаге имале око 6.000 заробљених Муслимана у својим рукама. Ако је то заиста тачно, то би створило неопходне услове за злочин који се српској страни приписује. Из тога се може проценити значај ове цифре. Шест хиљада заробљеника су људска резерва одакле жртве стрељања највећим делом треба да потичу.

Анализа овог сегмента првостепене пресуде у предмету Крстић не сугерише да српске снаге нису имале заробљенике. Али кључно питање гласи: колико их је било? Од барем приближног – али ипак поузданог – одговора на то питање зависи да ли је стрељање 8.000 заробљеника било изводљиво. [15] На онима који тврде да то јесте било изводљиво лежи терет доказивања, onus probandi, да је било бар приближно онолико заробљеника колико наводно стрељаних. Управо смо видели са каквим степеном професионалности Хашки трибунал то питање третира у предмету чији крунски закључак гласи да се у Сребреници догодио – геноцид.

Пример фабрикације доказа који смо анализирали у овом критичком осврту парадигматичан је за ширу праксу Хашког трибунала. Али ако желимо да се фокусирамо само на предмет Крстић, одакле је овај пример узет, и то је довољно. Приказали смо не само механизам, како Трибунал попуњава рупе у свом доказном материјалу, већ и његов модус операнди, који се битно разликује од начина како резонује и поступа један легитиман суд.

Стефан Каргановић je Председник холандске НВО „Историјски пројекат Сребреница

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[1] За опсежнију расправу на ову тему, читаоцима препоручујемо монографију «Сребреница: деконструкција једног виртуелног геноцида,» од аутора Стефана Каргановића и Љубише Симића, Београд 2010.

[2] Види Newsday, “Ратни злочини у САД”, 12. март 2006: “Прошле године је на 10. годишњицу масакра, британски секретар иностраних послова, Џек Строу, признао неуспех и извинио се. „Јер је срамота међународне заједнице да се ово зло десило пред нашим носом а да нисмо довољно урадили“, рекао је. „Изражавам огорчено жаљење и искрено ми је жао због свега.“ Строу се покајао за своје неделовање у Сребреници 1995. године, а четири године касније постао је један од најагресивнијих заговарача НАТО-ове бесправне агресије против Савезне Републике Југославије.

[3] Покајнички „државници“ и јавне личности које гледамо у овим срцепарајућим сценама моралног позоришта представљају, наравно, земље које су у скоријој историји биле огдоворне за уништавање племена, народа и цивилизација у мери која превазилази чак и најпретеранији људски данак у Сребреници.

[4] Илегална тромесечна кампања бомбардовања Савезне Републике Југославије, 1999. године, под циничним изговором да она има за циљ спречавање предстојећег геноцида косовских Албанаца, још један је пример злочиначког понашања који је однео много живота и узроковао велика разарања и који се такође може директно везати са „сребреничким образложењем.“

[5] Чим је Влада Републике Српске у априлу 2010. године започела интензивно истраживање праве судбине „несталих“ из Сребренице, чији се неразјашњен статус прећутно користи да би се број стрељаних увећао и приближио магичној цифри од 8.000, Високи представник у БиХ, Валентин Инцко, реаговао је са оштрим саопштењем да се неће толерисати „одвратни покушај оспоравања чињенице да се у Сребреници догодио геноцид намерним кривотворењем историјских и правних чињеница“. (Видети: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/news/27480/ ) Овде је важно истаћи да је Инцко реаговао пре него што су органи РС донели било какав закључак, на саму могућност да би се истраживањем могло доћи до резултата који нису у складу са освештаним „чињеницама“ званичне приче. Када је у питању Сребреница, принципи научне методе и слободе критичког испитивања не важе; на снази је милитантни догматизам из најтамнијих периода Средњег века.

[6] Чињеница да их је у рат повео њихов вођа, Алија Изетбеговић, обећавајући им да ће изаћи као доминантан чиниоц у независној Босни и Херцеговини, а на крају су ипак морали да се помире са нешто мање од четвртине територије, и то чак у нефункционалној заједници са Хрватима, говори довољно о томе како су прошли у конфликту. И ако они имају имало осећаја за муслиманску солидарност, требало би да буду повређени јасним узрочно-последичним односом између лажног сценарија „геноцида“ у Сребреници и веома стварног убијања стотина хиљада муслимана у другим земљама што би било врло тешко извести без хуманитарног изговора за интервенцију, чему је наводна „лекција из Сребренице“ знатно допринела.

[7] Транскрипт, с. 2050.

[8] Транскрипт, с. 2032.

[9] Транскрипт, с. 5205.

[10] Исто.

[11] Поповић etal, Транскрипт, 23. јануар 2008, с. 20251, редови 6-8.

[12] Види, United Nations, Sector NE Tuzla, Civil Affairs, 17 јули, 1995, с. 2, EDS архивска ознака Хашког трибунала, R0433426; докуменат Хашког трибунала број R003-8723; докуменат Хашког трибунала број R043-3424

[13] EDS архивска ознака Хашког трибунала број 01043225.

[14] Заменик команданта холандског батаљона, мајор Франкен, пороцењује да је око 50% припадника колоне „вероватно било наоружано.“ Тужилаштво против Крстића, Транскрипт, с. 2029.

[15] Разлика од око 2.000 између наводне цифре заробљених и званичне цифре стрељаних не треба да збуњује. Тужилаштво тврди да су се поред организованих стрељања догађала и такозвана „опортунистичка убиства“, која би могла покрити ту разлику.

£5 charge to jump queues ‘they keep long’

Airports are cashing in on the queues at their security gates by charging passengers to use fast-track priority lanes.
At least eight have introduced the system and are charging travellers up to £5 to beat the queues.
A whistleblower security guard at Luton Airport, which adopted the system last year, claimed there is a deliberate policy to let the queues grow to encourage people to pay for the express lane.

Queueing: The security process is so time-consuming that passengers are paying to use a 'priority lane' at the airport
Queueing: The security process is so time-consuming that passengers are paying to use a ‘priority lane’ at the airport

 The claim was made as travellers were warned to expect more stringent checks in the wake of the cargo plane terror plot emanating from Yemen.
With the checks involving the removal of shoes and belts, body scans and patdown searches, the process is so time-consuming that passengers are arriving at airports up to three hours before departure to make sure they catch their flights.

Luton introduced a fee of £3 in March last year, allowing travellers to skip the queue by using a ‘priority lane’ to reach the security checkpoint.
Bristol and Aberdeen have £5 charges. Leeds Bradford, East Midlands, Liverpool John Lennon and Newcastle have £3 charges. Manchester has a fast-track security lane for travellers who book expensive VIP Valet parking.

The Luton security guard told the Daily Mail: ‘Before the priority lane was introduced we had to keep queues down. Now the lane is there staff are told to create queues, which forces passengers to pay for the priority lane.’

The claim was denied by Luton Airport.

The Air Transport Users Council, the official consumer body for passengers, described the claims as ‘worrying’. Its chief executive, Simon Evans, said the ATUC was monitoring the situation. He added: ‘Going through security is not a service, not a perk, it is something that people have to do.

‘The issue is, if they provide this service badly, people feel encouraged or pressurised to pay to jump the queue.’

He added: ‘Our concern with Luton charging for an extra service was: Does that mean an inferior service for those who are not paying? They have assured us the new system does not mean longer queues for those who don’t pay.’

Earlier this week, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary joined other airport industry leaders in condemning the current level of security screening. He said: ‘What happens, particularly in the coverage of the Yemeni issues of recent days, is that we have another huge lurch by the securicrats into making travel an even more tedious ordeal for the travelling public.
‘In actual fact we already have ludicrously over-the-top and, sadly, totally ineffective security measures.’

However, Mr Evans said budget airlines have put such pressure on airports to cut landing fees that the owners have had little option but to introduce new passenger charges. He added: ‘The reality is that this is revenue raising.

‘Some passengers are paying next to nothing for their flights. One of the reasons for this is that the airlines have beaten down the airports on what they pay them in charges.’
Mr Evans said it might be possible to establish league tables showing which airports have the longest queues, to give them an incentive to improve.

A spokesman for Luton Airport said it had ‘definitely not’ allowed security queues to grow in order to encourage people to pay for the priority lane.

He added: ‘The introduction of a priority lane does not impact overall waiting times. Data we have collected since the opening has clearly shown this.

‘This is all about choice. Some passengers will choose to buy priority lane in the same way as they would buy valet parking or executive lounge access.’

A Time to Act: Jail the Financial Fraudsters

November 10th, 2010 by Danny Schechter

A TIME TO ACT: A CAMPAIGN TO JAIL FINANCIAL FRAUDSTERS

“I’ll have the Chateau Mouton-Rothschild from 1982,” a Wall Street investment banker recently told his waiter at the latest and greatest shi-shi restaurant in Greenwich Village.

“Yes sir, but I want you to know, the cost is $$3,950,” according to the New York Times.

“No Problem”

And so it goes at The Lion, where no extravagance is too costly for today’s banksters and Lion Kings.

The men they call the Big Swinging Dicks are back.  In the words of the New York Times, Wall Street is getting its “groove back,” anticipating their latest round of bonuses while gloating about how their strategic and undisclosed campaign donations assured that the overdue regulations they fear will be put on hold.

For them, buying the 2010 election was a small price to pay. Read  Economist James Galbraith’s  column in how they did it. (http://www.newdeal20.org/2010/11/05/obamas-problem-simply-defined-it-was-the-banks-26159)

Oh, happy day.

Meanwhile the rest of us cling to our “jobless recovery” while the prospect of inflation engineered by the Federal Reserve Bank threatens what purchasing power we have.

Increasingly, economists in the know are saying that unless financial fraud is prosecuted, there can be no recovery, as Washington’s Blog reports:

“As economists such as William Black and James Galbraith have repeatedly said, we cannot solve the economic crisis unless we throw the criminals who committed fraud in jail.

And Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof has demonstrated that failure to punish white collar criminals – and instead bailing them out- creates incentives for more economic crimes and further destruction of the economy in the future.

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz just agreed. As Stiglitz told Yahoo’s Daily Finance on October 20th:

“The legal system is supposed to be the codification of our norms and beliefs, things that we need to make our system work. If the legal system is seen as exploitative, then confidence in our whole system starts eroding. And that’s really the problem that’s going on.”

OUR RESPONSE:  We Don’t Need More Bailouts. We need a Jailout

Support the JAILOUT Economic Justice Campaign by signing the petition at newsdissector.com/blog

We pledge allegiance to Justice for all.  Not to those who steal and defraud us.  Not to those who wrecked our economy.

We need laws enforced, not winked at with financial settlements that allow those that enriched themselves at our expense, and destroyed the lives of so many, to get off scot-free, often with obscene bonuses and promotions.

Now, it is time for all of us to speak out and demand that something is done, to stop foreclosures and create jobs.

We can start with a petition to the President, Attorney General, and political, labor and youth leaders not in the bag to Wall Street.  We can call on the media to do more to cover this story instead of blaming the victims for the crime.

Will you stand up with us and call for action now?

Will you sign this simple appeal to the President, Leaders of Congress of both parties and the Attorney General?

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

1. Investigate fraudsters and financial criminals.

2. Indict those responsible.

3. Prosecute using RICO laws that target criminal enterprises spawned by three industries working together: finance, insurance and real estate.

4. Incarcerate the guilty.

All of this has been done before. More than 1500 bankers went to jail after the S&L Crisis.

Why not today?

We demand a criminal investigation.

We demand to see the guilty parties indicted. Their illegal gains should be seized and distributed to their victims.

We demand the federal and state governments prosecute these crimes, using RICO laws when possible, not cut deals that allow these crooks to walk free.

We want a national moratorium on foreclosures until all the shady legal issues are sorted out — and not just by the banks

We want our government to be on our side, to stand up for Main Street, not Wall Street.

Please tell us: I am with you. I agree with this call to action,

NAME:

ADDRESS:

CITY, STATE and ZIP CODE

EMAIL:

Educate yourself by ordering a copy of PLUNDER [DVD} and THE CRIME OF OUR TIME [book].  Also available on iTunes, Netflix and Amazon.

Visit the web site: Plunder The Crime Of Our Time

SPEAK UP. DEMAND FAIRNESS. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

If you committed these crimes, you would be doing time.

So should they!

News Dissector Danny Schechter directed the DVD “Plunder The Crime Of Our Time” and wrote the companion book, ‘The Crime Of Our Time.’

If you can help, write: [email protected]

Documents Leak from Notorious US-Backed Unit as Obama Lands in Indonesia Secret Files Show Kopassus, Indonesia’s Special Forces, Targets Papuan Churches, Civilians

JAKARTA – Secret documents have leaked from inside Kopassus, Indonesia’s red berets, which say that Indonesia’s US-backed security forces engage in “murder [and] abduction” and show that Kopassus targets churches in West Papua and defines civilian dissidents as the “enemy.” The documents include a Kopassus enemies list headed by Papua’s top Baptist minister and describe a covert network of surveillance, infiltration and disruption of Papuan institutions

Secret documents have leaked from inside Kopassus, Indonesia’s red berets, which say that Indonesia’s US-backed security forces engage in “murder [andThe disclosure comes as US President Barack Obama is touching down in Indonesia. His administration recently announced the restoration of US aid to Kopassus.

Kopassus is the most notorious unit of Indonesia’s armed forces, TNI, which along with POLRI, the national police, have killed civilians by the hundreds of thousands.

The leaked cache of secret Kopassus documents includes operational, intelligence and field reports as well as personnel records which list the names and details of Kopassus “agents.”

The documents are classified “SECRET” (“RAHASIA”) and include extensive background reports on Kopassus civilian targets — reports that are apparently of uneven accuracy.

The authenticity of the documents has been verified by Kopassus personnel who have seen them and by external evidence regarding the authors and the internal characteristics of the documents.

Some of the Kopassus documents will be released in the days to come, in part via this website.

Those being released with this article are about West Papua, where tens of thousands of civilians have been murdered and where Kopassus is most active. Jakarta has attempted to largely seal off Papua to visits by non-approved outsiders.

When the US restored Kopassus aid last July the rationale was fighting terrorism, but the documents show that Kopassus in fact systematically targets civilians.

A detailed 25-page secret report by a Kopassus task force in Kotaraja, Papua defines Kopassus’ number-one “enemy” as unarmed civilians. It calls them the “separatist political movement” “GSP/P, ” lists what they say are the top 15 leaders and discusses the “enemy order of battle.”

All of those listed are civilians, starting with the head of the Baptist Synod of Papua. The others include evangelical ministers, activists, traditional leaders, legislators, students and intellectuals as well as local establishment figures and the head of the Papua Muslim Youth organization.

The secret Kopassus study says that in their 400,000 – person area of operations the civilians they target as being political are “much more dangerous than” any armed opposition since the armed groups “hardly do anything” but the civilians — with popular support — have “reached the outside world” with their “obsession” with “merdeka” (independence/ freedom) and persist in “propagating the issue of severe human rights violations in Papua,” ie. “murders and abductions that are done by the security forces.”

(See SATGAS BAN – 5 KOPASSUS, LAPORAN TRIWULAN I POS KOTARAJA, DANPOS NUR WAHYUDI, LETTU INF, AGUSTUS 2007, p. 8, 12, 9, 6, 5, )

http://www.scribd.com/doc/41522587/Satgas-Ban-5-Kopassus-Triw

Given that the Kopassus report states as settled fact that security forces do “murder, abduction,” those who they define as being the enemy can be presumed to be in some danger.

In its’ discussion of “State of the enemy” Kopassus identifies the enemy with two kinds of actions: “the holding of press conferences” where they “always criticize the government and the work being done by the security forces” and the holding of private meetings where they engage in the same kind of prohibited speech. (LAPORAN TRIWULAN p. 9)

The Kopassus “enemies” list — the “leaders” of the “separatist political movement” includes fifteen civic leaders. In the order listed by Kopassus they are:

Reverend Socrates Sofyan Yoman, chair of the Papua Baptist Synod Markus Haluk head of the Association of Indonesian Middle Mountains Students (AMPTI) and an outspoken critic of the security forces and the US mining giant Freeport McMoRan Buchtar Tabuni, an activist who, after appearing on the Kopassus list, was sentenced to three years prison for speech and for waving Papuan flags and was beaten bloody by three soldiers, a guard, and a policeman because he had a cell phone Aloysius Renwarin, a lawyer who heads a local human rights foundation Dr. Willy Mandowen, Mediator of PDP, the Papua Presidium Council, a broad group including local business people, former politcal prisoners, women’s and youth organizations, and Papuan traditional leaders. His most prominent predecessor, Theys Eluay, had his throat slit by Kopassus in 2001. Yance Kayame, a committee chair in the Papuan provincial legislature Lodewyk Betawi Drs. Don Agustinus Lamaech Flassy of the Papua Presidium Council staff Drs. Agustinus Alue Alua, head of the MRP, the Papuan People’s Council, which formally represents Papuan traditional leaders and was convened and recognized by the Jakarta government Thaha Al Hamid, Secretary General of the Papua Presidium Council Sayid Fadal Al Hamid, head of the Papua Muslim Youth Drs. Frans Kapisa, head of Papua National Student Solidarity Leonard Jery Imbiri, public secretary of DAP, the Papuan Customary Council, which organizes an annual plenary of indigenous groups, has staged Papua’s largest peaceful demonstrations, and has seen its offices targeted for clandestine arson attacks Reverend Dr. Beny Giay, minister of the Protestant evangelical KINGMI Tent of Scripture church of Papua Selfius Bobby, student at the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology (LAPORAN TRIWULAN p. 6) Reached for comment, Reverend Socrates Sofyan Yoman of the Baptist Synod laughed when told he headed the Kopassus list. He said that churches were targeted by TNI/ Kopassus because “We can’t condone torture, kidnapping or killing.” He said that he has received anonymous death threats “all the time, everywhere,” but that as a church leader he must endure it . He said the real problem was for Papua’s poor who “live daily in pressure and fear.”

Markus Haluk said that he is constantly followed on foot and by motorcycle, has been the subject of apparent attempts to kill him, and receives so many sms text death threats that he has difficulty keeping current with the death-threat archive he tries to maintain for historical and safety purposes.

One threat, written months after his name appeared as a target in the Kopassus documents promised to decapitate him and bury his head — 200 meters deep, while another imagined his head as a succulent fruit to be devoured and swallowed by security forces.

But as a famous figure in Papua, Haluk enjoys, he thinks, a certain kind of protection since when security forces have actually arrested him it has at times touched off street uprisings.

Village Papuans, he said, enjoy no such advantage. For them, being targeted by Kopassus “can get you killed. If there’s a report against you, you can die.”

Contacted in prison, Buctar Tabuni, the number three enemy on the Kopassus list, told of getting a death threat with a rat cadaver, described living with round-the-clock surveillance, and said the threats to him repeatedly stated that “you will be killed unless you stop your human rights activities.”

Three days ago, writing from his prison cell, Buctar Tabuni called on President Obama to cut off aid to TNI and back a democratic vote on Papuan independence. He told me that Indonesia follows the US lead and that the US was complicit since, as he wrote Obama, US-trained “troops in cities and villages all over West Papua treat the people like terrorists that must be exterminated.”

Anti-terrorism was indeed Obama’s main argument for restoring US aid to Kopassus, but the documents make clear that Kopassus mainly targets unarmed civilians, not killers.

In fact, the main unit that wrote the secret documents, SATGAS BAN – 5 KOPASSUS, is ostensibly doing anti-terrorism, with the Kopassus Unit 81, Gultor.

Obama justified the Kopassus aid restoration to Congress by saying that the initial US training would be given not to Kopassus as a whole but only to its’ anti-terror forces. The White House and Pentagon suggested that these forces were less criminal than the rest of Kopassus and of TNI/POLRI, but the documents establish that they, like the rest, go after civilians like the Papuan reverends and activists.

Reverend Giay said, when reached for comment that TNI, Kopassus and POLRI were making the case that “it’s OK to kill pastors and burn churches since the churches are separatist.”

Among Giay’s collection of anonymous sms death threats was a political missive demanding that “the reverend stop using the platform of the church to spread the ideology of free Papua.”

Giay said that “they need ideological and moral support from the Indonesian majority and the media” so they use Kopassus and others to attack the churches as constituting security threats.

He compared TNI/Kopassus actions in Papua now to those earlier in East Timor and the Malukus where “they created this conflict between Muslims and Christians” to expand their presence and get more money and power.

Reverend Giay said that “local pastors have been targeted. They kill them off and report them as separatists.”

The Kopassus documents boast that “in carrying out the operational mission of intelligence in the kotaraja area, we apportion work in order to cover all places and avenues of kotaraja society…” (LAPORAN TRIWULAN p. 11).

The files show that Kopassus indeed penetrates most every part of popular life. In addition to plainclothes Kopassus officers who go undercover in multiple roles, Kopassus fields a small army of non-TNI “agents” — real people with real lives and identities, who are bought, coerced or recruited into working covertly.

Kopassus Kotaraja area agents discussed in the secret personnel files include reporters for a local newspaper and for a national TV news channel, students, hotel staff, a court employee, a senior civil servant who works on art and culture, a 14 year old child, a broke, “emotional, drunken” farmer who needs money and “believes” that Kopassus will “take care of his safety,” a “hardworking” “emotionally stable” farmer who also is a need of funds, a worker who “likes to drink hard liquor,” is poor and “likes to believe things,” a motorcycle taxi driver, a cellphone kiosk clerk who watches people who buy SIM card numbers, and a driver for a car rental company who “frequently informs on whether there are elements from the Separatist Political Movement who hire rental cars and speak regarding independence/freedom (merdeka)” (SATGAS BAN – 5 KOPASSUS, POS I KOTARAJA, BIODATA AGEN, RAHASIA).

In the file, though, the word “merdeka” is not spelled out. In accord with Kopassus practice, only an initial is written, in quotation marks: “‘M’”, the unwritable, unspeakable M-word.

The documents support the longtime word on the street: you rarely know who is Kopassus. So best watch what you say if you care for safety, especially if what you say is “freedom.”

Will G20 take collective stand on capital controls?

November 10th, 2010 by Kavaljit Singh

Leaders of the G20 will meet in Seoul on Nov. 11 and 12 to discuss a myriad of issues concerning global financial stability and economic recovery. In many ways, the G20 Seoul Summit is significant because for the first time it is hosted by a non-G8 nation and one in Asia too.

The two-day Seoul summit covers an expansive agenda, ranging from global safety nets to new rules on bank capital and liquidity requirements to reforming the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It remains to be seen how much of this agenda could be accomplished given the sharp differences among G20 member countries on key issues.

The summit is likely to be overshadowed by the ongoing “currency war.” Despite an initial understanding reached at G20 finance ministers’ meeting at Gyeongju, disagreements on currencies have widened among members with the announcement of a $600 billion injection plan by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Nov. 3.

It appears that the U.S. has either underestimated or ignored the potential impact of $600 billion plan of buying government long-term bonds on the exchange rates globally.

Several G20 nations including China, Brazil and South Korea have expressed serious concerns that this move may flood their financial markets with new money leading to asset price bubbles and higher inflation.

With interest rates near-zero in several developed economies such as U.S. and Japan, investors have started pumping money into emerging markets in search of higher yields.

The potential costs associated with putting new liquidity into the global economy should not be underestimated and therefore emerging markets should adopt a cautious approach toward such capital inflows.

In the absence of any international agreement or coordination, emerging markets will have to resort to capital controls to regulate potentially destabilizing capital inflows which could pose a threat to their economies and financial systems.

Post-crisis, there is a renewed interest in capital controls as a policy response to curb “hot money” inflows. It is increasingly being accepted in policy circles that due to the limited effectiveness of other measures (such as higher international reserves) capital controls could insulate the domestic economy from volatile capital flows.

In June, South Korea announced a series of currency controls to limit the risks arising out of sharp reversals in capital flows. Indonesia quickly followed suit when its central bank deployed measures to control short-term capital inflows.

In October, Brazil raised the tax on foreign purchases of fixed income securities to 6 percent. Thailand imposed a 15 percent withholding tax on foreign purchases of Thai bonds in the same month.

South Korea is also contemplating the reintroduction of tax on foreign purchases of Korean bonds. In the coming months, more and more countries may opt for capital controls to protect their economies from volatile flows.

Contrary to popular perception, capital controls have been extensively used by both the developed and developing countries in the past.

Capital controls were regarded as a solution to the global chaos in the 1930s. They were extensively used in the inter-war years and immediately after World War II.

Although most mainstream economic theories suggest that capital controls are distortionary, rent-seeking and ineffective, several successful economies (from South Korea to Brazil) have used them in the past.

China and India, two recent “success stories” of economic globalization, still use capital controls today. A restricted capital account has protected both economies from financial crises.

An overarching objective of capital controls is to bring both domestic and global finance under regulation and some degree of social control.

Even the IMF these days endorses the use of capital controls, albeit temporarily, and subject to exceptional circumstances.

In the present uncertain times, imposition of capital controls becomes imperative since the regulatory mechanisms to deal with capital flows are national whereas the capital flows operate on a global scale.

Yet, capital controls alone cannot fix all the ills plaguing the present-day global financial system. Rather they should be used in conjunction with other regulatory measures to maintain financial and macroeconomic stability.

Surprisingly, the issue of capital controls has never been under discussion at G20 despite many member countries (from South Korea to India to Brazil) currently using a variety of such controls.

Given its long history of successfully using capital controls in conjunction with other policy measures, South Korea should take a lead in putting this substantive issue on the agenda of G20. Other member nations such as China, India and Brazil could support this policy initiative.

Kavaljit Singh is the author of “Fixing Global Finance.” This book is available for free download at www.madhyam.org.in.

Israeli warplanes over Lebanon

November 10th, 2010 by Global Research

Six Israeli warplanes have penetrated the Lebanese airspace again and flew over parts of the country in flagrant violation of a UN Security Council resolution.
The Israeli aircrafts crossed into Lebanese airspace over the southern border village of Kfar Kila at 9:30 a.m. local time (0630 GMT) on Tuesday and conducted several unwarranted flights above southern Lebanon as well as the capital Beirut, a Press TV correspondent in Beirut cited a statement released by the Lebanese military.

The jets left the Lebanese airspace at 11:05 a.m. local time (0805 GMT) while flying over Alma al-Shaab – a town in southern Lebanon.

On Tuesday, an Israeli reconnaissance aircraft violated Lebanon’s airspace and patrolled the skies above several areas in southern Lebanon, including the village of al-Naqoura and West Bekaa region, located 73 km (45 miles) from the Lebanese capital.

Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming they serve surveillance purposes.

Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, have repeatedly cited Israel’s aerial surveillance flights over Lebanon as a clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the war Israel launched against Lebanon in 2006, calls on the Tel Aviv regime to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In 2009, Beirut complained to the United Nations about Israeli aircraft violating the airspace over the south of the country.

Obama on “60 Minutes”: A Servant of Big Business

November 10th, 2010 by Patrick Martin

US President Barack Obama was interviewed for nearly half an hour on the CBS News program “60 Minutes,” broadcast Sunday night. The discussion with correspondent Steve Kroft was conducted on Thursday, November 4, and was the only extended public interview with Obama since the rout of the Democrats in last Tuesday’s congressional election.

These circumstances make the content of the discussion that much more remarkable. Obama has given no accounting of the debacle for the Democrats. He has not explained how his administration managed to restore the political standing of an ultra-right Republican Party that was totally discredited only two years ago. Nor has he warned his former supporters of the dangers to jobs, living standards and democratic rights from a newly empowered right-wing majority in the House of Representatives.

Instead, he went on national television to conciliate big business and embrace the concerns of the Tea Party right wing, declaring them politically legitimate.

To describe Obama as chastened by defeat would be an exaggeration, since it might suggest that before the election he had been engaged in an aggressive campaign against his opponents. He was low-key, conciliatory and, above all, prostrate before corporate America, whose servant he is.

While liberal apologists for Obama like the Nation magazine treat him as a “progressive” who has unaccountably gone astray, or lost his voice, the man interviewed on “60 Minutes” was a deeply conventional, conservative politician without a trace of radicalism in his thinking.

Right at the start, Obama was at pains to disavow any connection between his political philosophy and traditional 20th century liberalism. He had been forced to bail out the banks and the auto companies, he said, not because he wanted to expand the role of government in the economy, but because of the Wall Street crash of September 2008 and the ensuing plunge in the US and world economy.

These were forced responses to an economic emergency, he argued, but as a result, “Republicans were able to paint my governing philosophy as a classic, traditional, big government liberal. And that’s not something that the American people want. I mean, you know, particularly independents in this country.”

Given public opinion polls that strongly favor government spending to create jobs and to sustain programs like Social Security and Medicare, Obama’s claims about what “the American people want” are rather dubious. But he was appealing to a ruling class audience, as well as seeking to appease the right-wing elements mobilized in the successful Republican election campaign.

He continued, “I think it is fair to say that, you know, the American people don’t want to see some massive expansion of government. And I think the good thing is that having gotten through this emergency, I think what people will see over the next two years is probably a better reflection of the kinds of long-term priorities that I want to set for the country.”

In other words, Obama is committed to slashing spending on social programs along the lines demanded by the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

He also explained that his health care reform program was not an expansion of “big government,” but an effort to reduce government spending in the long run. “Medical care across the board,” he said, “that is the single thing that is going to be driving the expansion of the federal government over the next several years.”

He continued, “I started looking at the budget and it turned out that if we continued on the same trajectory in terms of Medicare costs going up, that there was no possibility of ever balancing this budget without massive tax hikes. Because the population’s getting older. We use more and more medical services. And we were going to have to control those costs.”

This spells out the reactionary nature of the entire health care reform enterprise, which was fundamentally an effort to cut costs, using the supposed expansion of insurance to the uninsured as a fig leaf. Millions of elderly people saw the health care legislation as a threat to Medicare―understandably, since the Obama administration proposed to finance half the $1 trillion cost through cost savings in that program.

Obama claimed that the bank bailout and the stimulus package had forestalled “the danger of us tipping into a great depression,” although the world economy is more disordered today than even in the midst of the financial crisis of September 2008.

Asked about the ultra-right Tea Party movement, Obama was conciliatory, claiming that their “concern that government spends too much money” was “as American as apple pie.” He added that the real test would be whether Tea Party supporters would be for cutting spending on “things that people really think are important,” like Social Security and Medicare. “We’re going to have to tackle some big issues like entitlements,” he said.

Less than a month from now the bipartisan commission appointed by Obama is to report back to the White House and Congress with plans to cut the federal deficit, primarily by slashing spending on Social Security and Medicare. This will be the central domestic project of the next two years of the Obama administration.

In a final olive branch to big business, Obama noted that his administration wanted to work with Wall Street on implementing the financial reform bill, and with the health care industry on health care reform.

“I think that it is entirely legitimate that in the banking sector, it’s very important for us to write these rules in collaboration with interested parties so that they can start knowing how things are going to work. When it comes to health care, we need to be consulting with the insurance industry to make sure they know how things are going to work.”

In other words, the financial swindlers who wrecked the US and world economy and have suffered no penalty―on the contrary, profits and bonuses are back to record levels on Wall Street―will get to write the regulations for the banks and money markets.

The insurance companies, perhaps the most hated corporations in America, responsible for denying coverage, not only to 50 million uninsured, but to millions more who pay premiums and lose coverage when they get sick, will write the regulations for health care.

These extraordinary declarations confirm the assessment of Obama made by the World Socialist Web Site even before he entered the White House. Obama was selected and packaged by a section of the financial aristocracy to continue the bailout of the banks begun by Bush, and he has conducted himself throughout his two years in office as a loyal defender of the profit system.

The statement by former U.S. President George W. Bush in his 497 – page memoir of “Decision Points” that a secret peace deal was worked out between the then-prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, and Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, which “we devised a process to turn .. into a public agreement” had not Olmert been ousted by a scandal to be replaced in the following elections by Binyamin Netanyahu, who reneged on his predecessor’s commitments, is a piece of history which highlights the fact that peace making in the Arab – Israeli conflict and the peace process have been hostages to the rotating U.S. and Israeli elections since the Madrid peace conference of 1991.

Of course Bush had a different point of view. In his Rose Garden speech on Israel – Palestine two-state solution on June 24, 2002, he said that “for too long .. the citizens of the Middle East” and “the hopes of many” have been held “hostage” to “the hatred of a few (and) the forces of extremism and terror,” a misjudgement that led his administration to strike a deal with the former Israeli premier, now comatose, Ariel Sharon to engineer a “regime change” in the self-ruled Palestinian Authority that resulted – according to Sharon’s terminology – in the “removal” of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader who made peace possible in the first place for the first time in the past one hundred years and for that deserved to be a Nobel Peace Laureate, to be replaced by the incumbent Palestinian leadership of Abbas who, despite being almost identical of both men’s image of a peace maker, is again victimized by the same rotating U.S. and Israeli elections, much more than by what Bush termed as “forces of extremism and terror.”

Ironically, Bush’s own Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, some three years ago, had to admit that there is no consensus among U.S. officials on a clear-cut definition of “extremism and terror” when she said, referring to acts of Palestinian anti-Israeli military occupation, that, “The prolonged experience of deprivation and humiliation can radicalize even normal people.” Even Olmert’s care-taker successor and the opposition leader now, Tzipporah Malkah “Tzipi” Livni, became the first ever Israeli cabinet minister to strike a line between an “enemy” and a “terrorist” when she told U.S. TV show “Nightline” on March 28, 2006: “Somebody who is fighting against Israeli soldiers is an enemy .. I believe that this is not under the definition of terrorism.”

However, judging from the incumbent Barak Obama administration’s adoption of Bush’s perspectives on the issue, as vindicated by Obama’s similar stance vis-à-vis the Palestinian anti-Israeli military resistance, in particular from the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli captive corporal Gilad Shalit, the U.S. successive administrations – whether Democrats or Republicans is irrelevant – are still insistent on shooting their Middle East peace efforts in the feet by giving the priority in peace making to fighting “extremism and terror” rather than to make peace as the prerequisite to ruling out the root causes of both evils.

Once and again, then again and again, U.S. and Israeli elections bring about new players and governments that renege on the commitments, pledges and promises of their predecessors vis – a –vis the Arab – Israeli conflict in general and the Palestinian – Israeli peace process in particular, with an overall effect of being much more harmful to peace making than any forces of ‘extremism.”

This overall effect is devastating. First and foremost it creates the vicious circle of unfulfilled promises and hopes, which in turn, secondly, undermines what little confidence might still be there to believe in the same pledges of the newcomers, which their predecessors reneged on. Third, the repeatedly aborted endeavors for a breakthrough renders the “peace process” less an honest attempt on conflict resolution and more a crisis management effort, which is the last thing the Palestinian and Arab “peace partners” would like to put on their agenda. The ensuing environment of these and other factors is, fourth, the ideal setting for opening a new “window of opportunity” as soon as an old one is closed for “the forces of extremism” to exploit the political vacuum thus created. By default or by decision extremists in the Arab – Israeli conflict are U.S. and Israeli made as well as they are a legitimate byproduct of a failed process where the mission of peace making has been moving on from an old administration to a new one, each with a new plan that hardly takes off before another is offered by new players.

The outcome of the latest U.S. mid-term elections was not an exception. Both Palestinian and Israeli protagonists were on edge “waiting” for a new equation that would change the balance of power between the incumbent administration and the Congress to serve their respective goals and expectations, and a change did occur that will curtail the ability of President Obama to follow up on his pledges to deliver on his promises of peace making. The Palestinian disappointment is on the verge of despair to consider alternatives to the U.S. sponsorship of peace making, let alone continuing a peace process that has been counterproductive all along. The Israeli jubilation is on the verge of declaring an Israeli victory in a non-Israeli U.S. Congress over a U.S president who never even thought of compromising the U.S. – Israeli strategic alliance or the decades old commitment of successive administrations to the security of Israel, but only pondered a non-binding plan to bring the protagonists together to decide for themselves through strictly bilateral direct negotiations that rule beforehand any external intervention.

Obama’s plan, to all practical reasons, is thus aborted in the bud and its file is about to be archived on top of the pile of the older files of the earlier plans of presidents Reagan, Bush senior, Clinton and Bush junior, which were swept away to the dustbin of history by the rotating U.S. or Israeli elections, while holding the Palestinian negotiator hostage to a process that nothing indicates it will ever end, waiting for the U.S. Godot.

Holding the Palestinian negotiator hostage to this open-ended U.S.-sponsored process is now and has been always the only game in town for the Israelis, the only beneficiaries of the ever explosive status quo of the Arab – Israeli conflict, who have been exploiting the peace process as a playground to win more time to create more facts on the ground that will sooner or later render the temporary status quo created by their military occupation of 1967 into a permanent regional arrangement.

Netanyahu’s anti-Oslo campaign was interpreted to create the political environment that contributed to the assassination of Yitzhaq Rabin on November 4, 1995, two years after signing the Oslo agreement (Declaration of Principles) with Arafat – who was suspiciously poisoned to death on November 11, 2004 – and Netanyahu’s election to the premiership immediately thereafter was interpreted as an anti-peace coup d’etat. When the 1999 elections brought back to power the so-called “peace camp” led by Labor, PM Ehud Barak did not bring the “peace process” back to Rabin track, but reneged on the signed agreements, refused to implement the imminent and final withdrawal from the West Bank and succeeded, with U.S. help, in dragging the Palestinian side to jump to the intractable final status issues. The following elections followed the collapse of the Camp David trilateral summit and the ensuing violence, which led the new premier, Ariel Sharon, to declare the death of Oslo accord. Sharon succeeded in recruiting the support of George W. Bush to put the change of the Palestinian Authority (PA) regime of Arafat as the only item on the agenda of the “peace process” as a precondition to its resumption and convinced Bush to delay the official launch of the “Road Map” until after the Israeli elections. All that done already, and a new PA regime of their liking is already in place, but the Map has yet to be implemented. Two years ago, Obama had a plan to negotiate how to renegotiate the Road Map, but the latest Israeli elections brought to power Netanyahu who seems determined to negotiate only on how to implement his own unilateral plans.

No surprise then Palestinian negotiators are almost concluding that enough is enough, that they are left with no options but to get rid of this rotating electoral vicious circle and let come whatever, it would not be worse than the current status of being captives to a waiting game for a Godot that will never come.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

In the run-up to the G20 summit of leading economies, to be held Thursday and Friday in Seoul, the president of the World Bank has published a column in the Financial Times calling for a fundamental revamping of the global currency system involving a lesser role for the US dollar and a modified gold standard. The Financial Times underscored the significance of the column by making it the subject of its front-page lead article on Monday.

In his column, World Bank chief Robert Zoellick, a former US Treasury official, points to the crisis conditions prompting his proposal. He begins by observing: “With talk of currency wars and disagreements over the US Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing, the summit of the Group of 20 leading economies in Seoul this week is shaping up as the latest test of international cooperation.”

Here Zoellick is referring to the announcement by the US Federal Reserve last week of a second round of “quantitative easing”—the printing of hundreds of billions of dollars to buy US Treasury securities—and the sharp criticisms of this move by major US trade competitors including China, Germany, South Africa and Brazil. The US move is seen correctly as an intensification of a deliberate policy to cheapen the dollar in order to make exports less expensive and foreign imports more expensive.

The Obama administration is focusing its economic attack on China. It wants to line up Europe, Japan, India and other Asian countries at the G20 summit behind its demand that China allow its currency to appreciate more rapidly.

However, its cheap dollar policy is roiling relations with other export-oriented, surplus nations, most notably Germany. In unusually bellicose language, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble denounced the US in an interview this week with Spiegel magazine. Saying the American “growth model” is in “deep crisis,” he added, “The United States lived on borrowed money for too long, inflating its financial sector and neglecting its small and mid-sized industrial companies.”

He went on to declare: “The Fed’s decisions bring more uncertainty to the global economy… It’s inconsistent for the Americans to accuse the Chinese of manipulating exchange rates and then to artificially depress the dollar exchange rate by printing money.”

The US—the world’s biggest debtor nation—is exploiting the privileged position of the dollar as the primary world reserve and trading currency to drive up the exchange rates of its rivals, in essence a trade war measure. It is unleashing a flood of speculative capital into so-called emerging economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa, pushing their currencies even higher and creating the danger of speculative bubbles and inflation.

This aggressive and unilateralist policy on the part of the United States is exacerbating global tensions and destabilizing the world monetary and financial system. It is heightening the likelihood of a breakdown of international relations and the outbreak of the type of uncontrolled currency and trade warfare that characterized the Great Depression and led ultimately to World War II.

In his column, Zoellick urges the G20 to “build a cooperative monetary system that reflects emerging economic conditions.” He continues: “This new system is likely to need to involve the dollar, the euro, the yen, the pound and a [Chinese] renminbi that moves towards internationalization and then an open capital account.”

The new system, he writes, “should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values. Although text books may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative money asset today.”

This is a tacit acknowledgment that the monetary system that has existed since 1971 and is rooted in the system established at the end of World War II—and which is anchored by the US dollar—is no longer viable. It is furthermore an admission that there is no other national currency that can replace the dollar as the basis of global currency relations.

One expression of eroding confidence in the US dollar—and the monetary system based on the dollar—is the spectacular surge in gold prices. On Monday, gold for December delivery set new records, closing above $1,400 an ounce.

Zoellick argues that the “scope of changes since 1971” justifies the erection of a new monetary system. However, he is silent on the most important of these changes—the vast decline in the global economic position of the United States and the decay of American capitalism.

The United States emerged from the wreckage of World War II as the unchallenged global economic hegemon. Its industry dominated world markets. The US share of world auto production in 1950 was 79 percent. In 1955, it accounted for nearly 40 percent of world steel production. At the same time, the vast bulk of the world supply of gold was in Fort Knox.

The US engineered the postwar recovery of world capitalism, ensuring that the monetary and trade architecture was favorable to its interests. Key to the postwar recovery and expansion was the establishment of a new monetary system, the Bretton Woods system, under which exchange rates were fixed and pegged to the dollar. The dollar served as the world reserve and trading currency, but it was backed by gold at the rate of $35 per ounce.

However, this arrangement contained a fundamental contradiction—the attempt to use a national currency as a world currency. Even the massive economic wealth and power of the United States could not override the basic contradiction between the global economy and the nation-state system of capitalism.

By the late 1960s, the quantity of dollars held overseas far outstripped US gold reserves, and the US was facing growing competition from resurgent Germany and Japan. The Bretton Woods system collapsed in August of 1971 when the Nixon administration, facing a run on the dollar, removed the gold backing from the US currency.

That ushered in so-called Bretton Woods II, a system of floating exchange rates tied to the dollar—an arrangement that was even more dependent on international confidence in the strength of American capitalism. That confidence has progressively eroded as the US has built up ever-greater debts and its industrial base has withered, leaving its economy increasingly dependent on financial speculation.

The financial crash of September 2008, which was centered on Wall Street, has fatally undermined confidence in the dollar. The fact that the financial crisis takes the form of a currency war and breakdown in the system of exchange rates—what had been the pillar of the postwar recovery of world capitalism—underscores the fact that the current crisis is not merely a conjunctural downturn, but rather a systemic breakdown of the system.

Zoellick’s proposal for a return to some form of gold standard is both utopian and reactionary. There is no possibility that the dramatic shift in economic weight between the older imperialist powers—first and foremost, the US—and emerging economies such as China and India can peacefully produce a new international economic equilibrium based on a reduced role for the US dollar. As in the twentieth century, so in the twenty first, the declining powers will not willingly accept a lesser position and the struggle for control of markets, raw materials and sources of cheap labor inevitably leads toward world war.

Were the proposal for a new gold standard to be carried out, moreover, it would result in a catastrophic contraction of credit, plunging the world into a depression exceeding that of the 1930s.

The breakdown of the currency system is an expression of an insoluble crisis of the capitalist system that can be resolved in a progressive manner only through the international revolutionary movement of the working class and the establishment of world socialism.

World’s Sole Military Superpower Extends Its Reach

November 9th, 2010 by Rick Rozoff

U.S. Banks Failing At Fastest Pace In 2 Decades

November 9th, 2010 by Global Research

WASHINGTON — Regulators shut down four more banks Friday, bringing the 2010 total to 143, topping the 140 shuttered last year and the most in a year since the savings-and-loan crisis two decades ago.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over K Bank, based in Randallstown, Maryland, with $538.3 million in assets, and Pierce Commercial Bank, based in Tacoma, Washington, with $221.1 million in assets. The FDIC also seized two California banks: Western Commercial Bank in Woodland Hills, with $98.6 million in assets, and First Vietnamese American Bank in Westminster, with assets of $48 million.

M&T Bank, based in Buffalo, N.Y., agreed to assume the deposits and $410.8 million of the assets of K Bank. First California Bank, based in Westlake Village, Calif., is acquiring the assets and deposits of Western Commercial Bank. Heritage Bank, based in Olympia, Wash., is taking the assets and deposits of Pierce Commercial Bank, while Los Angeles-based Grandpoint Bank is assuming the assets and deposits of First Vietnamese American Bank.

In addition, the FDIC and M&T Bank agreed to share losses on $289 million of K Bank’s loans and other assets. The FDIC and First California Bank are sharing losses on $83.9 million of Western Commercial Bank’s assets.

The failure of K Bank is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $198.4 million. That of Western Commercial Bank is expected to cost $25.2 million; Pierce Commercial Bank, $21.3 million, and First Vietnamese American Bank, $9.6 million.

Like these four financial institutions, the banks that have failed this year are smaller, on average, than those that succumbed in 2009. That has meant the deposit insurance fund has suffered a milder loss, which has reached about $21 billion so far this year, compared with $36 billion in 2009.

Still, banks, especially small community institutions, are falling as soured loans have mounted and the economy has sputtered. The wave of closings points to the lingering power of the recession more than a year after its official end.

Florida, Georgia, Illinois and California have each seen bank failures in the double digits this year. Some communities in those states are still reeling from the financial meltdown that brought an avalanche of bad loans, especially for commercial real estate.

The closures have compounded the problems in areas already straining under high unemployment, foreclosed homes and vacant malls and office buildings.

The pace of failures has accelerated as banks’ losses on loans for commercial property and development have mounted. Many companies have shut down in the recession, vacating shopping malls and office buildings financed by the loans. That has brought delinquent loan payments and defaults by commercial developers.

The 2009 total of bank failures had been the highest annual toll since 1992, at the height of the savings and loan crisis. More than 1,000 banks went under in the savings-and-loan crisis of 1987-1992.

Twenty-five banks failed in 2008, the year the financial crisis struck with force; only three succumbed in 2007.

The growing bank failures have sapped billions of dollars out of the FDIC’s deposit insurance fund. It fell into the red last year, and its deficit stood at $15.2 billion as of June 30. The FDIC expects the cost of resolving failed banks to total around $52 billion from 2010 through 2014.

Depositors’ money — insured up to $250,000 per account — is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government. That insurance cap was made permanent in the financial overhaul law enacted in July.

Is China’s Renminbi Already The New Reserve Currency?

November 9th, 2010 by Tyler Durden

With the dollar tumbling overnight, many were scratching their heads as to what caused the move in the dollar. Citi’s Stephen Englander provides a useful explanation, which fits perfectly with the commentary from PBoC advisor Li’s earlier that the dollar’s position as a reserve currency is now “absurd”: namely that more and more in the world are starting to look at the CNY as the new reserve currency. And as we pointed out earlier, its fixing surge of over 0.5% overnight caused many to blink. Is China finally pushing to aggressively force the dollar out?

From Steve Englander’s note today:

Why CNY?

We have cited but not explained the phenomenon of CNY leading G10 currencies. That was very clear overnight with the sharp downward move in USDCNY very clearly leading the move in EUR and AUD (and equity markets for that matter.) Investors appear to be viewing CNY gains as broadly bearish USD and bullish risk. The response to CNY can be partially explained if we assume that investors see CNY as setting the effective limit for how much other currencies can appreciate. It is less clear why global risk should be driven by CNY, except if investors see more global cooperation as a positive signal.

To be sure, Englander has had it in for the dollar for a long-time. He follows up in his note that in his view the USD sell signal has been triggered. While we don’t disagree, we ask – what will said reserve managers buy: EURs? GBPs? JPYs? After all, all of them are just as bad. Oh wait, gold?

Reserve Manager USD sell signal triggered

Last week we published our analysis of reserve manager behaviour and presented a trading rule based on the following conditions:

1) The USD fell in the prior calendar month;
2) The (currency valuation adjusted) increase in reserves in our subset of reserve managers is positive; and
3) Higher than in the previous month

Our subset of reserve managers consists of a sample of reserve managers who report reserves soon after month end. We adjust nominal reserve accumulation to remove currency valuation effects. For proprietary reasons, we do not disclose the reserve managers in our subset (all data is publicly available on Bloomberg) and we only use the subset aggregate in our analysis.

If conditions 1 through 3 are met, the rule says buy EUR/USD on the seventh business day of the month (by which time the early reporting central banks in our sample will have reported their reserve levels), and hold the short USD position through the seventh day of the next month.

These conditions were met in November with valuation adjusted reserves in our sub-sample growing by 1%, and the dollar having dropped sharply in October.

The intuition is that we think that reserve managers are a latent USD selling force because of the size of their portfolios and concentrated holdings of USD. The immediate response is likely to be aggressive efforts to avoid being left holding an ever expanding USD bag.

Nearly three years after he was appointed to investigate the destruction of at least 92 interrogation videotapes, a dozen of which showed two high-value detainees being subjected to waterboarding and various other torture techniques by CIA interrogators, Special Prosecutor John Durham has determined that he does not have enough evidence to secure an indictment against anyone responsible for the purge.

Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement Tuesday that Durham, a US Attorney from Connecticut, has “concluded that he will not pursue criminal charges for the destruction of interrogation videotapes.”

The statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges related to the destruction of the tapes ran out Tuesday. Truthout contacted Durham’s spokesman, Tom Carson, late Monday evening raising questions about whether Durham’s investigation was ongoing in light of the statute of limitations expiring or whether he had concluded his probe. Carson, in an email sent to Truthout hours before Miller issued a statement, said Durham’s investigation is still an “open matter.” 

In response to additional queries requesting clarification of his statement, Carson said, the investigation is “still an open matter, but DOJ will not pursue criminal charges for the destruction of the tapes.”

Two people close to the probe told Truthout they were told that means there is a possibility Durham could pursue other charges, such as false statements, the targets of the probe made during the course of the investigation, but they doubted Durham would do that.

Jose Rodriguez, the head of the CIA’s clandestine division, who had been one of the primary targets of Durham’s criminal investigation, ordered the destruction of the videotapes in November 2005, shortly after The Washington Post published a front-page article exposing the CIA’s use of so-called “black site” prisons overseas to interrogate alleged “war on terror” suspects using torture techniques that were not legal on US soil. Rodriguez said he received clearance from agency attorneys.

One witness in the case who worked with Rodriguez said, “I can’t believe Rodriguez got away with it” upon learning that Durham would not prosecute his former colleague.

In a statement, Robert Bennett, Rodriguez’s Washington, DC-based attorney, said “we are pleased that the DOJ has decided not go forward against Mr. Rodriguez.”

“This is the right decision because of the facts and the law,” Bennett said. “Jose Rodriguez is an American hero, a true patriot who only wanted to protect his people and his country.”

Rodriguez, however, according to people familiar with the investigation, was never called by Durham to testify before his grand jury.

The DOJ’s announcement was made on the same day George W. Bush published his memoir, “Decision Points,” where he defended the efficacy of torture and falsely claimed that it resulted in actionable intelligence that helped thwart pending terrorist plots. Bush also admitted that he personally authorized the CIA to waterboard self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and signed off on ten brutal torture methods CIA interrogators used against 33 detainees.

The announcement was also made less than a week after State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh told a delegation gathered in Geneva, Switzerland for the United Nations Human Rights Council, which scrutinized the United States’ human rights record, that inquiries into the Bush administration’s use of torture were still under investigation by Durham.

“Those investigations are ongoing,” Koh said. “The question is not whether they would consider it – those discussions are going on right now.”

Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said Durham’s decision “is stunning.”

“There is ample evidence of a cover up regarding the destruction of the tapes,” Romero said. “The Bush administration was instructed by a court of law not to destroy evidence of torture, but that’s exactly what it did. The destruction of these tapes showed complete disdain for the rule of law…We cannot say that we live under the rule of law unless we are clear that no one is above the law.”

It is widely believed that the videotapes were destroyed to cover up illegal acts. It is also believed that the tapes were destroyed because Democratic members of Congress who were briefed about the tapes began asking questions about whether the interrogations were illegal, according to Jane Mayer, author of the book, “The Dark Side” and a reporter for The New Yorker magazine.

“Further rattling the CIA was a request in May 2005 from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, to see over a hundred documents referred to in the earlier Inspector General’s report on detention inside the black prison sites,” Mayer wrote in her book. “Among the items Rockefeller specifically sought was a legal analysis of the CIA’s interrogation videotapes.

“Rockefeller wanted to know if the intelligence agency’s top lawyer believed that the waterboarding of [alleged al-Qaeda operative Abu] Zubayda and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as captured on the secret videotapes, was entirely legal. The CIA refused to provide the requested documents to Rockefeller.

“But the Democratic senator’s mention of the videotapes undoubtedly sent a shiver through the Agency, as did a second request he made for these documents to [former CIA Director Porter] Goss in September 2005.”

The CIA began videotaping interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole, in April 2002, four months before Bush administration attorneys issued a memo clearing the way for CIA interrogators to use “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the DOJ had disclosed in court documents.

As Truthout previously reported, Some of the interrogation sessions captured on the videotapes showed Zubaydah being subjected to torture methods not yet approved by an August 2002 Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo written by attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee.

Specifically, these sources said, Zubaydah was subjected to repeated sessions of “water dousing,” a method that at the time interrogators used it on Zubaydah was described as spraying him with extremely cold water from a hose while he was naked and shackled by chains attached to a ceiling in the cell he was kept in at the black site prison.

The OLC did not approve the use of water dousing as an interrogation technique until August 2004. Use of the method is believed to have played a part in the November 2002 death of Gul Rahman, a detainee who was held at an Afghanistan prison known as The Salt Pit and died of hypothermia hours after being doused with water and left in a cold prison cell.

Other videotapes showed Zubaydah being subjected to extended hours of sleep deprivation before the interrogation method was approved by OLC, which one current and three former CIA officials said was part of a larger experiment to determine how long a detainee could endure the technique.

In December 2007, the timeframe when the New York Times first revealed that the videotapes were destroyed, American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion to hold the CIA in contempt for its destruction of the tapes in violation of a court order requiring the agency to produce or identify all records requested by the ACLU in September 2004 related to the CIA’s interrogation of “war on terror” detainees.

The videotapes were also withheld from attorneys and the 9/11 Commission, which requested records related to the CIA’s interrogations of detainees.

Durham was appointed special prosecutor by Attorney General Michael Mukasey in January 2008 to lead a criminal inquiry into the tapes’ destruction based on a recommendation by the DOJ’s National Security Division and the CIA Office of the Inspector General.

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Since that time, DOJ spokesman Miller said Tuesday, “a team of prosecutors and FBI agents led by Mr. Durham has conducted an exhaustive investigation into the matter.”

Mukasey did not give Durham the authority to investigate whether any of the torture techniques depicted on the videotapes violated anti-torture laws. Last year, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers proposed expanding the scope of Durham’s investigation to include a broader review of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies.

Conyers was rebuffed and he did not pursue the matter further. But last August, after the CIA Inspector General John Helgerson’s report on the CIA’s torture program was publicly released, Attorney General Eric Holder expanded Durham’s mandate and authorized him to conduct a “preliminary review” of about a dozen cases of torture involving “war on terror” detainees, including al-Nashiri. Those cases had been previously closed by DOJ attorneys for unknown reasons.

That review is ongoing and no decision has been made about launching a full-scale criminal inquiry.

Dixon Obsurn of Human Rights First said while his organization is “disappointed that the Justice Department has chosen not to pursue charges in this case” he remains “hopeful that the still pending Durham investigation into the actions of CIA interrogators and contractors involved in abusive interrogations will ultimately provide a full, fair and objective review of allegations of illegal conduct.”

That prospect seems unlikely given the lack of accountability to date and President Obama’s pledge to “look forward.”

Global Research Editor’s Note

In the light of recent statements by both President Obama and Secretary  of State Hillary Clinton, namely that “all options are on the table” with regard to the use of nuclear weapons against Iran and that these weapons are “harmless to civilians”, we are publishing excerpts from Carl Sagan’s indepth 1983 investigation on the implications of a nuclear war, including his pathbreaking analysis of Nuclear Winter.

In “The Nuclear Winter” (1983), Sagan explored the unforeseen and devastating physical and chemical effects of even a small-scale nuclear war on the earth’s biosphere and life on earth.

Nuclear war is not front page news, compared to the H1N1 virus or the routine Al Qaeda terror alerts.

Be advised that the US-NATO-Israel military alliance plans to use nuclear weapons and the corporate media has been instructed not to discuss the devastating consequences. 
 
 
Michel Chossudovsky, November 9, 2010  


Except for fools and madmen, everyone knows that nuclear war would he an unprecedented human catastrophe. A more or less typical strategic warhead has a yield of 2 megatons, the explosive equivalent of 2 million tons of TNT. But 2 million tons of TNT is about the same as all the bombs exploded in World War II — a single bomb with the explosive power of the entire Second World War but compressed into a few seconds of time and an area 30 or 40 miles across …

In a 2-megaton explosion over a fairly large city, buildings would be vaporized, people reduced to atoms and shadows, outlying structures blown down like matchsticks and raging fires ignited. And if the bomb were exploded on the ground, an enormous crater, like those that can be seen through a telescope on the surface of the Moon, would be all that remained where midtown once had been. There are now more than 50,000 nuclear weapons, more than 13,000 megatons of yield, deployed in the arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union — enough to obliterate a million Hiroshimas.

But there are fewer than 3000 cities on the Earth with populations of 100,000 or more. You cannot find anything like a million Hiroshimas to obliterate. Prime military and industrial targets that are far from cities are comparatively rare. Thus, there are vastly more nuclear weapons than are needed for any plausible deterrence of a potential adversary.

Nobody knows, of course, how many megatons would be exploded in a real nuclear war. There are some who think that a nuclear war can be “contained,” bottled up before it runs away to involve much of the world’s arsenals. But a number of detailed analyses, war games run by the U.S. Department of Defense, and official Soviet pronouncements all indicate that this containment may be too much to hope for: Once the bombs begin exploding, communications failures, disorganization, fear, the necessity of making in minutes decisions affecting the fates of millions, and the immense psychological burden of knowing that your own loved ones may already have been destroyed are likely to result in a nuclear paroxysm. Many investigations, including a number of studies for the U.S. government, envision the explosion of 5,000 to 10,000 megatons — the detonation of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons that now sit quietly, inconspicuously, in missile silos, submarines and long-range bombers, faithful servants awaiting orders.

The World Health Organization, in a recent detailed study chaired by Sune K. Bergstrom (the 1982 Nobel laureate in physiology and medicine), concludes that 1.1 billion people would be killed outright in such a nuclear war, mainly in the United States, the Soviet Union, Europe, China and Japan. An additional 1.1 billion people would suffer serious injufles and radiation sickness, for which medical help would be unavailable. It thus seems possible that more than 2 billion people-almost half of all the humans on Earth-would be destroyed in the immediate aftermath of a global thermonuclear war. This would represent by far the greatest disaster in the history of the human species and, with no other adverse effects, would probably be enough to reduce at least the Northern Hemisphere to a state of prolonged agony and barbarism. Unfortunately, the real situation would be much worse. In technical studies of the consequences of nuclear weapons explosions, there has been a dangerous tendency to underestimate the results. This is partly due to a tradition of conservatism which generally works well in science but which is of more dubious applicability when the lives of billions of people are at stake. In the Bravo test of March 1, 1954, a 15-megaton thermonuclear bomb was exploded on Bikini Atoll. It had about double the yield expected, and there was an unanticipated last-minute shift in the wind direction. As a result, deadly radioactive fallout came down on Rongelap in the Marshall Islands, more than 200 kilometers away. Most all the children on Rongelap subsequently developed thyroid nodules and lesions, and other long-term medical problems, due to the radioactive fallout.

Likewise, in 1973, it was discovered that high-yield airbursts will chemically burn the nitrogen in the upper air, converting it into oxides of nitrogen; these, in turn, combine with and destroy the protective ozone in the Earth’s stratosphere. The surface of the Earth is shielded from deadly solar ultraviolet radiation by a layer of ozone so tenuous that, were it brought down to sea level, it would be only 3 millimeters thick. Partial destruction of this ozone layer can have serious consequences for the biology of the entire planet.

These discoveries, and others like them, were made by chance. They were largely unexpected. And now another consequence — by far the most dire — has been uncovered, again more or less by accident.

The U.S. Mariner 9 spacecraft, the first vehicle to orbit another planet, arrived at Mars in late 1971. The planet was enveloped in a global dust storm. As the fine particles slowly fell out, we were able to measure temperature changes in the atmosphere and on the surface. Soon it became clear what had happened:

The dust, lofted by high winds off the desert into the upper Martian atmosphere, had absorbed the incoming sunlight and prevented much of it from reaching the ground. Heated by the sunlight, the dust warmed the adjacent air. But the surface, enveloped in partial darkness, became much chillier than usual. Months later, after the dust fell out of the atmosphere, the upper air cooled and the surface warmed, both returning to their normal conditions. We were able to calculate accurately, from how much dust there was in the atmosphere, how cool the Martian surface ought to have been.

Afterwards, I and my colleagues, James B. Pollack and Brian Toon of NASA’s Ames Research Center, were eager to apply these insights to the Earth. In a volcanic explosion, dust aerosols are lofted into the high atmosphere. We calculated by how much the Earth’s global temperature should decline after a major volcanic explosion and found that our results (generally a fraction of a degree) were in good accor4 with actual measurements. Joining forces with Richard Turco, who has studied the effects of nuclear weapons for many years, we then began to turn our attention to the climatic effects of nuclear war. [The scientific paper, "Global Atmospheric Consequences of Nuclear War," was written by R. P. Turco, 0. B. Toon, T. P. Ackerman, J. B. Pollack and Carl Sagan. From the last names of the authors, this work is generally referred to as "TTAPS."]

We knew that nuclear explosions, particularly groundbursts, would lift an enormous quantity of fine soil particles into the atmosphere (more than 100,000 tons of fine dust for every megaton exploded in a surface burst). Our work was further spurred by Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, West Germany, and by John Birks of the University of Colorado, who pointed out that huge quantities of smoke would be generated in the burning of cities and forests following a nuclear war.

Croundburst — at hardened missile silos, for example — generate fine dust. Airbursts — over cities and unhardened military installations — make fires and therefore smoke. The amount of dust and soot generated depends on the conduct of the war, the yields of the weapons employed and the ratio of groundbursts to airbursts. So we ran computer models for several dozen different nuclear war scenarios. Our baseline case, as in many other studies, was a 5000-megaton war with only a modest fraction of the yield (20 percent) expended on urban or industrial targets. Our job, for each case, was to follow the dust and smoke generated, see how much sunlight was absorbed and by how much the temperatures changed, figure out how the particles spread in longitude and latitude, and calculate how long before it all fell out in the air back onto the surface. Since the radioactivity would be attached to these same fine particles, our calculations also revealed the extent and timing of the subsequent radioactive fallout.

Some of what I am about to describe is horrifying. I know, because it horrifies me. There is a tendency — psychiatrists call it “denial” — to put it out of our minds, not to think about it. But if we are to deal intelligently, wisely, with the nuclear arms race, then we must steel ourselves to contemplate the horrors of nuclear war.

The results of our calculations astonished us. In the baseline case, the amount of sunlight at the ground was reduced to a few percent of normal-much darker, in daylight, than in a heavy overcast and too dark for plants to make a living from photosynthesis. At least in the Northern Hemisphere, where the great preponderance of strategic targets lies, an unbroken and deadly gloom would persist for weeks.

Even more unexpected were the temperatures calculated. In the baseline case, land temperatures, except for narrow strips of coastline, dropped to minus 25 Celsius (minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit) and stayed below freezing for months — even for a summer war. (Because the atmospheric structure becomes much more stable as the upper atmosphere is heated and the low air is cooled, we may have severely underestimated how long the cold and the dark would last.) The oceans, a significant heat reservoir, would not freeze, however, and a major ice age would probably not be triggered. But because the temperatures would drop so catastrophically, virtually all crops and farm animals, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, would be destroyed, as would most varieties of uncultivated or domesticated food supplies. Most of the human survivors would starve.

In addition, the amount of radioactive fallout is much more than expected. Many previous calculations simply ignored the intermediate time-scale fallout. That is, calculations were made for the prompt fallout — the plumes of radioactive debris blown downwind from each target-and for the long-term fallout, the fine radioactive particles lofted into the stratosphere that would descend about a year later, after most of the radioactivity had decayed. However, the radioactivity carried into the upper atmosphere (but not as high as the stratosphere) seems to have been largely forgotten. We found for the baseline case that roughly 30 percent of the land at northern midlatitudes could receive a radioactive dose greater than 250 rads, and that about 50 percent of northern midlatitudes could receive a dose greater than 100 rads. A 100-rad dose is the equivalent of about 1000 medical X-rays. A 400-rad dose will, more likely than not, kill you.

The cold, the dark and the intense radioactivity, together lasting for months, represent a severe assault on our civilization and our species. Civil and sanitary services would be wiped out. Medical facilities, drugs, the most rudimentary means for relieving the vast human suffering, would be unavailable. Any but the most elaborate shelters would be useless, quite apart from the question of what good it might be to emerge a few months later. Synthetics burned in the destruction of the cities would produce a wide variety of toxic gases, including carbon monoxide, cyanides, dioxins and furans. After the dust and soot settled out, the solar ultraviolet flux would be much larger than its present value. Immunity to disease would decline. Epidemics and pandemics would be rampant, especially after the billion or so unburied bodies began to thaw. Moreover, the combined influence of these severe and simultaneous stresses on life are likely to produce even more adverse consequences — biologists call them synergisms — that we are not yet wise enough to foresee.

So far, we have talked only of the Northern Hemisphere. But it now seems – unlike the case of a single nuclear weapons test — that in a real nuclear war, the heating of the vast quantities of atmospheric dust and soot in northern midlatitudes will transport these fine particles toward and across the Equator. We see just this happening in Martian dust storms. The Southern Hemisphere would experience effects that, while less severe than in the Northern Hemisphere, are nevertheless extremely ominous. The illusion with which some people in the Northern Hemisphere reassure themselves — catching an Air New Zealand flight in a time of serious international crisis, or the like — is now much less tenable, even on the narrow issue of personal survival for those with the price of a ticket.

But what if nuclear wars can be contained, and much less than 5000 megatons is detonated? Perhaps the greatest surprise in our work was that even small nuclear wars can have devastating climatic effects. We considered a war in which a mere 100 megatons were exploded, less than one percent of the world arsenals, and only in low-yield airbursts over cities. This scenario, we found, would ignite thousands of fires, and the smoke from these fires alone would be enough to generate an epoch of cold and dark almost as severe as in the 5000 megaton case. The threshold for what Richard Turco has called The Nuclear Winter is very low.

Could we have overlooked some important effect? The carrying of dust and soot from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere (as well as more local atmospheric circulation) will certainly thin the clouds out over the Northern Hemisphere. But, in many cases, this thinning would be insufficient to render the climatic consequences tolerable — and every time it got better in the Northern Hemisphere, it would get worse in the Southern.

Our results have been carefully scrutinized by more than 100 scientists in the United States, Europe and the Soviet Union. There are still arguments on points of detail. But the overall conclusion seems to be agreed upon: There are severe and previously unanticipated global consequences of nuclear war-subfreezing temperatures in a twilit radioactive gloom lasting for months or longer.

Scientists initially underestimated the effects of fallout, were amazed that nuclear explosions in space disabled distant satellites, had no idea that the fireballs from high-yield thermonuclear explosions could deplete the ozone layer and missed altogether the possible climatic effects of nuclear dust and smoke. What else have we overlooked?

Nuclear war is a problem that can be treated only theoretically. It is not amenable to experimentation. Conceivably, we have left something important out of our analysis, and the effects are more modest than we calculate. On the other hand, it is also possible-and, from previous experience, even likely-that there are further adverse effects that no one has yet been wise enough to recognize. With billions of lives at stake, where does conservatism lie-in assuming that the results will be better than we calculate, or worse?

Many biologists, considering the nuclear winter that these calculations describe, believe they carry somber implications for life on Earth. Many species of plants and animals would become extinct. Vast numbers of surviving humans would starve to death. The delicate ecological relations that bind together organisms on Earth in a fabric of mutual dependency would be torn, perhaps irreparably. There is little question that our global civilization would be destroyed. The human population would be reduced to prehistoric levels, or less. Life for any survivors would be extremely hard. And there seems to be a real possibility of the extinction of the human species.

It is now almost 40 years since the invention of nuclear weapons. We have not yet experienced a global thermonuclear war — although on more than one occasion we have come tremulously close. I do not think our luck can hold forever. Men and machines are fallible, as recent events remind us. Fools and madmen do exist, and sometimes rise to power. Concentrating always on the near future, we have ignored the long-term consequences of our actions. We have placed our civilization and our species in jeopardy.

Fortunately, it is not yet too late. We can safeguard the planetary civilization and the human family if we so choose. There is no more important or more urgent issue.

Carl Sagan was born in 1934 in New York. After graduating with both a B.A. and a B.S. degree from the University of Chicago, Sagan completed his M.S. in physics and earned a Ph.D. in astronomy and astro-physics in 1960. Sagan then taught astronomy at Harvard until 1968, when he became profossor of astronomy and space sciences at Cornell University. He was then appointed director of the laboratory for Planetary Studies. His works include The Cosmic Connection (1973), which received the Campbell Award for best science book; the Pulitzer-prize winning Dragons of Eden (1977); Broca’s Brain (1979), on developments in neurophysiology; and Cosmos (1980), which accompanied his widety-acclaimed television series. In “The Nuclear Winter” (1983), Sagan explored the unforeseen and devastating physical and chemical effects of even a small-scale nuclear war on the earth’s biosphere and life on earth.

The Fraudulent Frame-Up of Iraqi Human Rights Activist and MP Al Dainy

November 9th, 2010 by Inter-Parliamentary Union

INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION

CHEMIN DU POMMIER 5
1218 LE GRAND-SACONNEX / GENEVA (SWITZERLAND)

TELEPHONE + 41 22 – 919 41 50 - FAX + 41 22 – 919 41 60 - E-MAIL postbox@mai/.ipu.org

CASE No. IQ/59 – MOHAMMED AL-DAINY – IRAQ

Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 187th session

(Geneva, 6 October 2010)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Mohammed Al- Dainy, a member of the Council of Representatives of Iraq at the time of the submission of the communication, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/187/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 185th session (October 2009),

Considering the following information on file,

- Mr. Al- Dainy, a member of the National Dialogue Front, was elected in March 2006 to the Council of Representatives of Iraq (legislative period 2006-2010); as an MP, he concentrated on human rights issues, investigating in particular conditions of detention in Iraq and the existence of secret detention facilities; in October 2008, he shared the information he had gathered with competent United Nations human rights bodies in Geneva;

- On 22 February 2009, the spokesperson for Baghdad’s military security command accused Mr. Al- Dainy of masterminding the 12 April 2007 suicide bombing in parliament, which killed a member of parliament; on 25 February 2009, parliament lifted his immunity; earlier the same day (25 February), a plane bound for Jordan with Mr. Al- Dainy and other members of parliament on board had been returned and an attempt made to arrest Mr. Al- Dainy; however, failing an arrest warrant and the lifting of immunity, no arrest took place; Mr. Al- Dainy subsequently left the airport in the company of another member of parliament and disappeared; fears that he might have been the victim of an enforced disappearance proved to be unsubstantiated when Mr. Al- Dainy himself declared in an interview with a private TV channel that he had gone abroad for fear of his life;

- Ten members of Mr. Al- Dainy’s family and another nine members of his staff (mainly escorts) were arrested in different stages during February 2009, and detailed information has been provided by the source about the circumstances of their arrest without warrants, their ill-treatment and the ransacking of their homes;

- Mr. Al- Dainy was accused of the following crimes:

(a) bombing of the Parliament;

(b) launching mortar shells into the international zone during the visit of the Iranian President and murdering one of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood from where the shells were launched;

(c) detonating car bombs;

(d) using his convoy of vehicles to carry the weapons that were used for crimes;

(e) murdering two jewellery store owners in the Al-Mansour area;

(f) killing 115 people from Al-Tahweela village who were buried alive;

(g) fabricating arrest warrants;

(h) murdering seven persons in the Al Yarmuk area;

(i) murdering Captain Ismail Haqi Al-Shamary; on 24 January 2010, Mr. Al- Dainy was sentenced to death in absentia; the verdict, a copy of which was provided to the Committee, consists of a little more than one page (French translation), contains two paragraphs dealing with the suicide bombing in parliament and one with the bombing of the Green Zone, six lines on storing of weapons, the founding of a terrorist organization linked to the Baath party, and to prove that Mr. Al- Dainy committed these crimes, it relies heavily on the testimonies of Riadh Ibrahim, Alaa Kherallah, Haydar Abdallah and a secret informant; it does not refer to any of the other accusations,

Considering in this respect the following:

- On 22 February 2009, Mr. Al- Dainy’s nephew and secretary, Ryad Ibrahim Jasem, and the head of his security detail, Mr. Alaa Kherallah Al Maliki, appeared on the public TV channel Al Iraqia and confessed to belonging to a terrorist organization set up by Mr. Al- Dainy; they appeared to be tired and drugged and visibly under duress; on 14 September 2009, they were reportedly given a life sentence at the closure of a hearing which reportedly lasted just a few minutes; an appeal is reportedly still pending;
- On 22 June 2009, Mr. Mahmoud Karim Farhan, a relative of Mr. Al- Dainy arrested on 22 February 2009, was released; he had been held in incommunicado detention in Baghdad Brigade Prison in the city’s Green Zone; in July 2009 he publicly testified to the circumstances of his arrest and that of other bodyguards and the torture inflicted on them to testify against Mr. Al- Dainy;
- On 10 May 2010, Baghdad Juvenile Court released Mr. Omar Ibrahim Jasem on grounds of insufficient evidence; on his release, he testified that he and others had been tortured while in detention to make them testify against Mr. Al- Dainy; he attributes responsibility for his arrest, detention and torture to Prime Minister Al-Maliki; a medical certificate attesting his torture has been provided;
- On 4 August 2009, the Mayor and notables of Kanaan district certified that Army Captain Haqi Ismael Al-Shamary, whom Mr. Al- Dainy is accused of having killed, was in fact alive and working normally,
 

Considering that reports published in April 2010 by the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry reveal the existence of secret detention centres, some at the time under the direct control of Prime Minister Al-Maliki, and the routine practice of torture in those secret prisons,

Considering that the joint study on global practices in relation to secret detention in the context of countering terrorism of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Working Group on Arbitrary or Involuntary Disappearances (A/HRC/13/42), presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council at its 13th session, has a chapter on secret detention centres in Iraq and mentions explicitly the group of people arrested in connection with accusations against Mr. Al- Dainy and held in secret detention in a prison in the Green Zone run by the Baghdad Brigade; it describes the torture inflicted on them (beating with cables, suspension from the ceiling by either the feet or the hands for up to two days at a time, electroshocks, black bags being put over the head to suffocate them, plastic sticks introduced into the rectum, threat of rape of family members) and their being forced to sign and fingerprint pre-prepared confessions,

Bearing in mind that the 2005 Constitution of Iraq contains a human rights catalogue guaranteeing the following fundamental rights: Article 15: right to life, security and liberty, Article 17 (para. 2): sanctity of the home; homes may not be entered, searched or put in danger except by a judicial decision and in accordance with the law; Article 19 (para. 12): prohibition of unlawful detention and detention in places not designed for it,

Bearing in mind also that Iraq is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which it ratified in 1971; that the Covenant guarantees the right to life and security, prohibits torture, arbitrary arrest and detention and stipulates fair trial guarantees; noting in this respect the concerns which the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers has voiced on many occasions regarding the observance of those rights in Iraq,

1. Considers that, in the light of the above, there can be no doubt that Mr. Al- Dainy was sentenced to death at the closure of a procedure which can only be termed a travesty of justice;

2. Calls on the authorities to quash this iniquitous judgment forthwith and to fully rehabilitate Mr. Al- Dainy;

3. Calls on the newly elected authorities, in particular the parliament, to ensure the rehabilitation of their former colleague who was punished for having revealed the existence of those secret detention centres and to make every effort to eradicate the practice of torture in Iraq;

4. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parliamentary authorities and the competent governmental authorities,

5. Requests the Committee to continue to examine this case and to report to it at its next session, to be held during the 124th IPU Assembly (April 2011).

Mysterious US missile launch off Southern California

November 9th, 2010 by Global Research

http://www.760kfmb.com/Global/story.asp?S=13468118

[Video at URL above]

 November 9, 2010

-”It could be a test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine underwater submarine, to demonstrate mainly to Asia, that we can do that.”

 
Pacific Ocean: A mysterious missile launch off the southern California coast was caught on video Monday evening by a KCBS news helicopter.

The spectacular contrail could easily be seen up in Los Angeles, but who launched this missile and why, remain a mystery for now.

The magnificent images were captured from the KCBS chopper around 5pm. The location of the missile was described as west of Los Angeles, north of Catalina Island, and approximately 35 miles out to sea.

A Navy spokesperson tells News 8, this wasn’t its missile. He said there was no Navy activity reported in that part of the region.

On Friday, November 5, Vandenberg Air Force Base launched a Delta II rocket, carrying the Thales Alenia Space-Italia COSMO SkyMed satellite, but a sergeant at the base tells News 8, there have been no launches since then.
 
News 8 showed the video to Robert Ellsworth, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and a former Deputy Secretary of Defense.
 
He said it didn’t appear to be a Tomahawk missile and said it would be safest to wait for definitive answers to come from the military.
 
Based on pure speculation, however, Ambassador Ellsworth said, with President Obama in Asia, perhaps this could have been a show of our military muscle.
 
“It could be a test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine underwater submarine, to demonstrate mainly to Asia, that we can do that,” he said, stressing that it was just a theory.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/09/national/main7036716.shtml

CBS News
November 9, 2010

Mystery Missile Launch Seen off Calif. Coast

A mysterious missile launch off the southern California coast was caught by CBS affiliate KCBS’s cameras Monday night, and officials are staying tight-lipped over the nature of the projectile.

CBS station KFMB put in calls to the Navy and Air Force Monday night about the striking launch off the coast of Los Angeles, which was easily visible from the coast, but the military has said nothing about the launch.

KFMB showed video of the apparent missile to former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Robert Ellsworth, who is also a former Deputy Secretary of Defense, to get his thoughts.

“It’s spectacular… It takes people’s breath away,” said Ellsworth, calling the projectile, “a big missile”.

Magnificent images were captured by the KCBS news helicopter in L.A. around sunset Monday evening. The location of the missile was about 35 miles out to sea, west of L.A. and north of Catalina Island.

A Navy spokesperson told KFMB it wasn’t their missile. He said there was no Navy activity reported in the area Monday evening.

On Friday night, Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, launched a Delta II rocket, carrying an Italian satellite into orbit, but a sergeant at the base told KFMB there had been no launches since then.

Ellsworth urged American to wait for definitive answers to come from the military.

When asked, however, what he thought it might be, the former ambassador said it could possibly have been a missile test timed as a demonstration of American military might as President Obama tours Asia.

“It could be a test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine … to demonstrate, mainly to Asia, that we can do that,” speculated Ellsworth.

Ellsworth said such tests were carried out in the Atlantic to demonstrate America’s power to the Soviets, when there was a Soviet Union, but he doesn’t believe an ICBM has previously been tested by the U.S. over the Pacific.

Officially, at least, the projectile remains a mystery missile.

-[M]any military and political experts in Russia come to the conclusion that by building such a system the United States seeks to offset the missile potential of Russia by deploying missile defense bases along the entire length of the Russian territory. Washington is aiming for a global missile defense shield, elements of which are already being built in the Far East, in the Indian Ocean and in the northern seas.

Turkey’s decision to allow the United States and NATO to deploy elements of the European missile defense system on its territory has triggered a negative response across the region and in the rest of the world.

The negative response from Iran and Israel is easy to explain. Turkey, Iran’s regional rival in many areas, is also a US ally and Washington’s main target, as it says, is to use the future missile defense system to protect Europe and America against a nuclear threat from Iran. As for Israel, it is regarded as one of Turkey’s “foes”.

Should Turkey join the US and NATO missile defense plans, few will harbor doubts about Washington building a large-scale, far-reaching multi-echelon missile defense system. Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania have already voiced readiness to become part of it. Undoubtedly, a powerful “anti-missile umbrella” of this kind is unwarranted for repulsing an imaginary threat from Iran. As it happens, Iran has not come into possession of any ballistic missiles yet.

Given the situation, many military and political experts in Russia come to the conclusion that by building such a system the United States seeks to offset the missile potential of Russia by deploying missile defense bases along the entire length of the Russian territory. Washington is aiming for a global missile defense shield, elements of which are already being built in the Far East, in the Indian Ocean and in the northern seas. Reports of the so-called “Turkish factor” have become particularly frequent ahead of NATO and Russia-NATO summits in Lisbon on November 19th and 20th.

The NATO summit is to approve a new strategy for a missile defense system in Europe, and the Russia-NATO summit is to focus on the possibility of Moscow’s participation in the missile defense project on a parity basis. NATO representatives claim that they welcome Russia to join in. However, there are fears that the so-called “Turkish factor” is being used to pressure Moscow on the missile defense issue, by demonstrating that the US and NATO will pursue the plans all the same, with or without Russia. Hopefully, these fears will prove groundless.

Iraq : Destroying a Country: War Crimes and Atrocities

November 8th, 2010 by Felicity Arbuthnot

“The abused are only Iraqis”, a US General to General Antonio Taguba.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the latest, vast cache of documents from Wikileaks, is that anyone was surprised at the revelations. For Iraqis, Afghans and the region, and Iraq and Afghanistan watchers across the globe, countless millions of words have been written and eye witness reports sent since day one of the highly questionable legality of the Afghan invasion the absolute illegality of that of Iraq.

Soldiers have put “trophy” photographs of the dead, mutilated, tortured on the internet. In August the BBC’s documentary: “The Wounded Platoon”, aired interviews with soldiers who admitted shooting Iraqi civilians and “keeping scores.” (1) Abu Ghraib’s particular testimony to freedom, democracy and liberation’s bounties, will likely remain the mental monument to the U.S., military in Iraq, which will ring down the generations.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tareq Aziz and his colleagues await an Inquistitional, mediaeval end on a hangman’s noose, under America’s watch (with the U.K., since still in coalition.) Charges include crimes against humanity. Yet the perpetrators of nearly seven years of near indescribable crimes against humanity in Iraq – and near a decade in Afghanistan, return home to heroes’ welcomes.

Reaction in Iraq to the woeful litany of crimes documented in some 400,000 U.S., files is encapsulated by Baghdad Political Science Professor Saadi Kareem, who commented: ” Iraqis know all about the findings in these documents. The brutality of American and Iraqi forces was hidden from Americans and Europeans, but not for Iraqis … Iraqis are totally aware of what happened to them.”

President of the London-based Arab Law Association, Sabah al-Mukhtar, told Al Jazeera that: “Frankly there is no surprise ..” The Middle East knew from day one.

The Independent’s Robert Fisk (“The Shaming of America”, 24th October 2010) commented: “As usual, the Arabs knew. They knew all about the mass torture, the promiscuous shooting of civilians, the outrageous use of air power against family homes, the vicious American and British mercenaries, the cemeteries of the innocent dead. All of Iraq knew. Because they were the victims.”

The U.S., soldiers knew too of the illegalities they were committing, at every level. These were not aberrations that needed a crash course in international law, or the laws of war, they were crimes, which would have been just that, anywhere on earth.

Former Private Ross Caputi, formerly of the U.S., Marines, has offered testimony on some of these crimes, to the 15th Session of the Human Rights council of the U.N., (13th., September – 1st., October 2010.) He was in the second assault on Fallujah, in November 2004. The city’s residents had been ordered to leave. Seemingly about two thirds fled, allowed to take little or nothing, leaving a lot of unguarded homes. The soldiers went: “from house to house” through the city. “… there were often possessions left behind … looting became very commonplace (of) anything that seemed valuable – silverware, teapots, knives and clothing.”

“People in my Unit were searching the pockets of the dead … for money.” The Platoon Commanders and Company Commander: ” … were aware of what was happening …” Why Caputi stole a “black winter ski mask”, is unexplained. Daylight robbery, likely being emulated across Iraq, a country where, until the embargo’s strangulation took grip, and with it desperation, even in cities, people left their doors unlocked, when out.

Theft was seemingly a way of life for soldiers from early on, recorded in a litany of reports and numerous documents.

So far, this publication has not found records of moneys and goods being ordered returned, by senior officers. With looting and the collapse of the banks, money, by virtually all, was kept at home.

One report to the Human Rights Council is of the raid on the home of, and arrest of, Mohammed Khamis Saleh Ali al-Halbusi, in Fallujah, during the night of 2nd November 2003. Beaten in front of his family, he alleges that thirty seven thousand U.S., dollars were stolen, with a quantity of gold – an important cultural possession, passed down from generation to generation.

Caputi also recounts that during November 2004, a tactic know as “reconnaissance by fire”, was used. Areas and buildings are fired into: “If you hear silence after your firing, then there are no people in the area or building …” Surely dead by “reconnaissance”, is also a likely possibility? The tactic is “always indiscriminate.”

He also confirms the use of white phosphorous. (The use of depleted uranium with its residual genetic, carcinogenic and toxic implications, is now undisputed.)

Another indiscriminate tactic was using: ” … bulldozers to clear houses. If there were suspected resistance fighters in a house, we would bulldoze it, incase … I watched a battalion bulldozing an entire neighbourhood …” Another instance involved three people in a house including: “a young boy, roughly ten years old.” Grenades were fired in to the house until it: “collapsed on top of all three of them”, killing them. “In every instance .. (of killings) I am unaware of any action taken to report their deaths. We always just moved on.” Thus, it seems, even the upper estimates of Iraqi deaths may well be underestimated.

Disfiguring burns, attacks and torture leading to blindness, deformities and limb loss, become a sickening norm is this town, where at least – in spite of all efforts to prevent them – such extensive records of its brutalization do exist.

Mr Caputi had considerable courage to come forward. But, it has to be asked, did he and his colleagues, rifling through family homes, momentos, most personal belongings, inheritance, helping themselves and stealing cash, question: “What are we doing? Can this be right?”

One Iraqi who “knew” only too well what happened in Fallujah, was Dr Salam Ismael. He had worked as a doctor in Fallujah during the April 2004 siege. He finally gained entry with aid in January 2005, two months after the November assault. (2) He records:

“It was the smell that first hit me, a smell that is difficult to describe, and one that will never leave me. It was the smell of death. Hundreds of corpses were decomposing in the houses, gardens and streets of Fallujah. Bodies were rotting where they had fallen, bodies of men, women and children, many half-eaten by wild dogs.

“A wave of hate had wiped out two-thirds of the town, destroying houses and mosques, schools and clinics. This was the terrible and frightening power of the US military assault. The accounts I heard over the next few days will live with me forever. You may think you know what happened in Fallujah. But the truth is worse than you could possibly have imagined.”

Dr Ismael found Hudda Issawi (17) in a nearby makeshift refugee camp. She said that on 9th., November, American marines came to her home. Her father and a neighbour went to the door: “We were not fighters, we had nothing to fear”, she ran to the kitchen to cover her hair. She and her brother (13) heard the shots that killed her father and his friend – they hid behind the fridge. Her older sister was caught, beaten and shot. Troops left with the two undiscovered, but: “(they) destroyed our furniture and stole the money from my father’s pocket.”

Trapped, Hudda tried to comfort her gravely wounded sister, who died a few hours later. For three days she and her brother stayed in the house with their dead father, sister and friend.

Fearing discovery, they finally decided to try to escape. A sniper shot her in the leg, she recounted. When her little brother ran, he was shot in the back, dying instantly. In a seemingly rare act of human decency, a female U.S., soldier found her and took her to hospital. It is possible to speculate that her bleak, near emotionless recounting, indicated a young person still in near catatonic shock.

On the same day, it transpired, in the same district, people had been ordered to leave their homes, carrying white flags, bringing only essential belongings with them, and gather near the Jamah al Furkan Mosque in the town centre of the famed, ancient “City of Mosques.”

Eyad Latif described how, with eight member of his family, including a baby of six months, they walked in single file, to the Mosque: “U.S., soldiers appeared on the roofs of surrounding houses and opened fire.” Eyad’s father and mother “died instantly.” Two brothers were hit, one in the head and one in the neck, one woman in the hand, one in the leg.

The wife of one brother was killed: “When she fell, her five year old son ran and stood over her body. They shot him dead too.”

Dr Ismael recounts : “Survivors made desperate appeals to the troops to stop firing. But Eyad told me that whenever one of them tried to raise a white flag they were shot. After several hours he tried to raise his arm with the flag. But they shot him in the arm. Finally he tried to raise his hand. So they shot him in the hand.” (Emphasis mine.)

The five survivors, including the six-month-old child, and the brother shot in the neck, after hours lying injured, finally crawled to the nearest home, which was empty, to find shelter. They survived there for eight days: “… living on roots and with just one cup of water for the baby”, said Eyad.

They were finally found by members of the Iraq National Guard and taken to hospital, again fleeing, sick and wounded, when they heard the U.S., forces were arresting all men. It is unclear what happened to the others assembled, on instruction by the Mosque, but Eyad described : “the street awash with blood.”

Dr Ismael: ” … heard the accounts of families killed in their houses, of wounded people dragged into the streets and run over by tanks, of a container with the bodies of 481 civilians inside, of premeditated murder, looting and acts of savagery and cruelty that beggar belief.

“We found people wandering like ghosts through the ruins … looking for the bodies of relatives .. trying to recover some of their possessions from destroyed homes … We moved from house to house, discovering families dead in their beds, or cut down in living rooms or in the kitchen … It became clear that we were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, the cold-blooded butchery of helpless and defenceless civilians.”

He concluded: “Nobody knows how many died. The occupation forces are now bulldozing the neighbourhoods to cover up their crime.(See also *) What happened in Fallujah was an act of barbarity. The whole world must be told the truth.”

Such accounts might be dismissed as “fog of war” propaganda, were they not so consistent across Iraq, from the day of the invasion, the majority from totally unconnected families or individuals – corroborated, little by little, by coalition soldiers.

Numerous survivors were swept up to be tortured in a U.S., base camp which had been set up in a former tourist village, bound, bags over their heads and out in small “cages”, with now familiar stories of being stripped, made to hold stress positions for hours and deprived of sleep water and food. Others were incarcerated under Abu Ghraib’s specialist form of horror.

In the tranquil setting of the White House Rose Garden, on 30th., April 2004, President Bush, had stated that due to U.S., intervention: “There are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq.” This was said as images from Abu Ghraib were being beamed around the world.

Four days later, General Taguba released his minutely detailed and referenced seventy two page Report on the realities, which belied President Bush’s sunny over-view of the benefits the invasion had bestowed upon Iraq. In Abu Ghraib alone, they included:

“…that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts:
a. (S) Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet;
b. (S) Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees;
c. (S) Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing;
d. (S) Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time;
e. (S) Forcing naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear;
f. (S) Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped;
g. (S) Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;
h. (S) Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture;
i. (S) Writing “I am a Rapest” (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked;
j. (S) Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee’s neck and having a female Soldier pose for a picture;
k. (S) A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee;
l. (S) Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee;
m. (S) Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees. (ANNEXES 25 and 26)”

General Taquba also accused the Bush administration of war crimes, calling for the prosecution of those responsible. He wrote: “There is no longer any doubt that the current Administration committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”

Between Wikileaks, Bush’s memoirs, and mounting swathes of documentation, legal accountability is looking to be increasingly possible. (Ironically, Bush’s memoirs are to be released on November 9th., the anniversary of a chillingly historically parallel crime to Fallujah, and across Iraq, Kristellnacht, in 1938. The terrorising, rounding up of, and destruction and theft of property and places of worship of swathes of the Jewish population of Germany and Austria.)

William Hague, Britain’s newish, follicly-challenged Foreign Secretary, is seeking to withdraw the U.K., from its obligations towards prosecuting war crimes under Universal Jurisdiction. It is an embarrassment, he says, that various Israeli political figures have cancelled visits, should they be arrested.

Such a sleight of hand, would also extend the welcome mat to George W. Bush, recently alleged another kind of U.S., embarrassment, seemingly reluctant to travel for the same reason. Of course, it would also mean that Tony Blair, the co-conspirator in the invasion, would be free to visit any of his seven U.K., homes, without fear of the hand of the law – or that of a concerned citizen – on his collar.

In spite of Hague’s efforts, there may be many countries and air carriers, that they and former colleagues may soon be considering avoiding.

Notes

* Part I of this article at http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21545

1. http://www.abolishwar.org.uk
2. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8093

Re: Depleted uranium, see also:
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Apps2/business/motions/Default.aspx?motionid=20127
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Apps2/business/motions/Default.aspx?motionid=19813 

Felicity Arbuthnot is  Global Research’s Human Rights Correspondent based in London

Data on US profits for the second quarter of this year are well worth studying, not only for what they say about the health of the corporate sector, but also for what they reveal about the structure of our economic system and the priorities of our policy makers.

Commerce Department figures show that after-tax profits rose 3.9% from the first quarter and a staggering 26.5% from the same quarter in 2009. This year-to-year percentage growth is the highest ever recorded by the Commerce Department without factoring for inflation. (The figure is even more impressive given that virtually none of the growth is due to inflation over the last year!)

Perhaps even more telling is the percentage of national income accounted for by profits. Well over 9% of national income in the second quarter of 2010 counted as profits, the 3rd highest portion since 1947. Interestingly, the percentage of national income was only marginally higher in two quarters of 2006 when the unemployment rate was 4.6% at the peak of the last economic expansion.

Analyzing the data, The Wall Street Journal (10-4-10) concluded that those corporations making up the Standard and Poor’s top 500 corporations – the core of monopoly capital – actually grew by 38%, returning $189 billion or 15.6% of all after-tax profit.

WSJ analysts underline the profit trends by noting that profits are up 10% over 2008 though revenues are down 6%. Monopoly corporations now make 8.4 cents on every dollar of revenue, when they made only 7 cents on every dollar in 2008.

The Winners’ Circle

For corporations, the numbers are spectacular. They indicate a complete recovery of the profit momentum lost in 2008 and 2009. Since the early 1980’s, after-tax profits – as a percentage of total national income – have marched upward and onward, indicating that more of the wealth created in the US has been distributed to the corporate sector. At the beginning of the 1980’s, less than 5% of national income found its way to corporations as profits. Today, that percentage appropriated by corporations, especially monopoly corporations, has increased to nearly 10%.

Several interrelated factors have contributed to this shift of wealth to corporations from the rest of us.

First, the rate of exploitation – the relation between the share of wealth appropriated by the ownership class and the share left to the workers – has increased dramatically. Labor’s bargaining power has diminished with the decline of both union density and militancy. Hourly wages in the US have been stagnant or declining throughout most of the last thirty years while productivity has increased consistently. The average hourly wage (adjusted for inflation) for production and non-supervisory employees has hardly budged since 1978. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of ALL workers average hourly wages have stagnated since 1978. At the same time, benefits have been cut, shifted or eliminated for most workers. Given the growth of the national income in this period, it follows that more of society’s wealth is available to the corporate sector, its managers, investors, and parasitic minions.

Secondly, the growing significance of financial instruments and the financial sector has prodded corporate profits to new heights. With the stagnation of mass purchasing power brought on by rapacious exploitation, the financial sector has established borrowed money as the vehicle for improved living standards for most US citizens, given that capitalists have the money and the rest of us do not. Consumer debt – mortgages, credit cards, student loans, home equity loans, etc. – has replaced wages as the means to a better life for the vast majority of those outside of the ownership class. Consequently, more and more of corporate profits were represented by deferred, projected, or even hypothetical wealth – the wealth that would be accumulated when all debt is eventually cleared. The financial sector went even further and through the creation of financial exotica (instruments derived from the real-world contracting of debt) claimed further profits from the buying and selling of these artificial creatures. Of course it was the collapse of this debt house-of-cards that brought the world economy to its knees in 2008 and 2009. And yet the share of total corporate profit attributable to the financial sector remains over 40% despite this destruction of deferred, projected, and hypothetical profit.

Thirdly, the actions of policymakers – lawmakers of both parties and their technocratic vassals – have aided and abetted the corporate drive for profits. By privatizing and commodifying many public assets, they have widened the arena of profit taking. By turning a blind eye to corporate migration to low-wage labor markets, they have pressured wages to the level of the lowest competitive nation. And through removing socially responsible restrictions on corporate activity, they have allowed corporations to escape the costs of compliance, even at enormous social costs born by the majority.

The creation of public-private partnerships by lawmakers and enthusiastic administrators has transferred enterprise risks to the public while subsidizing private profit taking. Likewise, tax policies have shifted to remove nearly all burdens from corporations. Conversely, policymakers have weakly submitted to an extortionate con game of credits and infrastructure subsidies to keep old businesses or attract new plants, warehouses, or other private investors. Local, state and regional authorities are caught in a vicious competitive spiral of ever more generous bids to retain or attain a business. The game ends when the last competitor falls exhausted. And often the winner lives to regret the enormous costs of success.

And, of course, the government has embarked on a massive and unprecedented bailout of financial institutions and other major industries over the last two years, a bailout that brought these corporations from their knees to new heights of profitability. Likewise, the widely heralded stimulus program channeled vast sums to private firms – unlike the public works programs of the New Deal – further propping up profits with little impact upon employment.

These three processes – intense exploitation of labor, the dominant role of the financial sector and the subservience of policy to the interests of capital – combine to explain the explosive growth of that share of US national income flowing to corporate coffers. They also explain the cracking of the foundations of our economy over the last few years.

Conjuring Consensus

The explosive growth of after-tax profits as a share of national income over the last three decades was hardly a secret; it was not a closely held conspiratorial plot; nor were the events and policies that enabled this development out of sight of the public. Nonetheless, the corporate onslaught met feeble resistance.

Thanks to a corporate-friendly media, a compliant punditry, and a public diverted by entertainments besting the most elaborate Roman circus, the profit gouging agenda became the widely accepted road to general prosperity.

Sure, the early Reaganite slogan of “trickle down” growth – the notion that the success of the wealthy would seep down into the lower classes – was met with significant skepticism, even derision. But by the time of the Clinton administration, this idea was deeply embedded in mass consciousness. Captured by the more colorful metaphor that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” the idea that the success of the most favored, the most advantaged, would bring a general rise of social good planted deep roots in the public psyche. For most US citizens, it became an obvious truth that corporate success – growth, increasing profits, and stock appreciation – led to employment and rising living standards. We might express this “truth” with the simple formula: corporate profits→growth→jobs→general welfare.

It was this thinking that bolstered the notion in the labor movement that workers should support “their” corporations – US-based corporations – against “foreign” corporations, despite the fact that the modern monopoly corporation knows no borders. Similarly, people came to believe that government should guarantee the health and profitability of their employers in order to secure and create jobs and, in due course, generate a rising standard of living for employees. In turn, if profitability is accepted as the sole, decisive factor in social progress, then employee concessions often become a necessary evil that smooths the road to further progress.

The triumph of the sovereignty of profits left little room for alternative thinking that might cast corporate profits in a different light. This identification of profits and general prosperity smothered considerations of public ownership and the operation of socially beneficial enterprises, redistributive policies, democratic governance of corporate activity, or even an open discussion of the biblical notion of a “fair profit.”

The Chain is Broken

Despite the brutal economic facts of the last decade, few have shown the vision or courage to admit that the key links between profits and prosperity have been shattered. Economists acknowledge that the upturn after the recession of 2001 was decidedly a “jobless recovery,” a recovery with little to offer the majority of working people other than more debt. Moreover, the profit recovery since the 2009 economic nadir has accompanied a stubborn, unmoving near-depression level of unemployment. The volcanic rise in profits (206% for the S&P 500 in the last quarter of 2009 against the same quarter in 2008) stands in sharp contrast to an equally dramatic change in the misery indices: declining incomes, greater inequality, rising poverty rates.

Even those deafened by the constant media babble or blinded by political flimflam should now see through the humbuggery of placing human advancement in the hands of profiteers. The old argument that corporate avarice, through the unbiased operation of the market, will benefit us all must surely be retired.

Economists concede that the next decade – called by some, a “lost decade” – promises, at best, a feeble recovery with likely persistent unemployment, greater impoverishment, a retreat of social securities, and ominous uncertainties for most outside of the ownership class. Thus, the first two decades of the twenty-first century will have featured a decided retreat from the prosperity promised by a profit-driven market economy. Many, if not most of the people will have experienced the better part of their adult life in the shadow of these tribulations. The hopeful notion that the next generation will do better is severely threatened, maybe shattered. Indeed, it is now apparent that few boats are lifted with a rising tide driven by profits.

The responsibility for exposing the failure of profit-centric economic policy falls squarely on the US left. While the US left is small and with a narrow circle of influence, it alone can begin to project and popularize an alternative economy that reduces or eliminates the decisive role of profits. It alone can offer a road apart from the path paved by corporate self-interest.

Some falsely counter pose organizing and agitating for a just, democratic alternative economy – to my mind, socialism – with political work on the margins of mainstream politics. For decades, this argument has surfaced time and again with every election cycle or legislative session. The struggle for socialism, the argument goes, is distant and difficult, while we – the left – might have an impact on the immediate issues and options at play in the two-party charade. This is, I believe, a dangerous brew of egomania and complacency. The reality is that the left has neither the bucks nor the bodies to shift the balance in the big show (nor is engagement welcome, except at the price of any left identity). And when left engagement does threaten to upset the political trajectory (for example, the Nader campaigns), these same “soft” left advocates roundly condemn the effort.

But in the end, it is possible to do both: one can, if one likes, participate energetically in the big game – primaries, legislative lobbies, etc. – with the hope of moving the ball incrementally forward. And one must fervently engage our foes on every level, whether it be in the neighborhood or around individual issues. At the same time, one can and must organize and agitate for an alternative to the profit-centric dogma. Without a determined effort to spark and fan the embers of extraordinary, fundamental change, we are doomed to see our future sink in the face of corporate power and greed.  

On May 6, 1935, with the country in the midst of the Great Depression, and with indirect efforts to create jobs having not moved the needle of unemployment rates, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7034 and appropriated $4.8 billion for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA put millions of Americans to work constructing buildings, painting murals to decorate them, and performing plays for audiences that had never before seen a dramatic production. In the process, many were saved from poverty and starvation and the economy began to revive.

Although Congress, as part of the New Deal, had appropriated money specifically for relief, FDR decided to use the money for a direct jobs program by issuing a Presidential executive order. This Executive Order described the agencies to be involved in the program, its structure and procedure for application and allocation of jobs.

The WPA was quickly implemented. By March 1936, 3.4 million people were employed and an average of 2.3 million people worked monthly until the program ended in June 1943. During its existence the WPA employed more than 8,500,000 different persons on 1,410,000 individual projects, and spent about $11 billion. The average yearly salary was $1,100, a living wage at the time. During its 8-year history, the WPA built 651,087 miles of highways, roads, and streets. It constructed, repaired, or improved 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, 8,192 parks, and 853 airport landing fields.

Today our infrastructure is crumbling, and loss of revenue is forcing many cities and states to cut basic services. About 15 million people have become unemployed since the crisis hit in late 2008; a million and a half of them are construction workers. The need for a direct jobs program is either as great, or even greater than during the Depression.

But, in light of the election results, is such a program possible? Can the President directly create jobs by executive order? The answer is a resounding yes. Remember when the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which created the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) was passed, one of the purposes was to preserve homeownership, and promote jobs and economic growth.

Much of the TARP money has been repaid and the administration refers to the profit on the payments. If one assumes an average cost of one job is $50,000, 6 million jobs could be immediately created for $300 billion. 12 million jobs could be created for $600 billion. Because this is already appropriated money, Congressional Republicans could not block it.

This direct job creation would be bold. It would also be highly stimulative. It would not add to the deficit because it is already appropriated money. Furthermore, one third of it would come back immediately in taxes, and more importantly, the growth in demand from this number of added jobs would expand private sector job growth and grow the overall economy.

This bold program would contrast markedly with prior stimulus bills, which were indirect and whose effects have been too slow to manifest themselves. The posture of the Republicans during the last two years has been to prevent the President and Congress from taking bold steps to intervene in the economy to directly create jobs. Then they used the Administration’s failure to take bold steps to create jobs to say the “stimulus did not work.” They turned the very TARP bailouts they supported into a rallying cry against government intervention in the economy to help people and they characterized as “socialism” any government initiatives such as health care. They decried deficits and opposed any sane tax policies to get the deficit going in the other direction.

By keeping progress in job creation slow and blaming the administration for lack of jobs, the high expectations for the Obama administration became deflated. The loss of jobs exacerbated the mortgage crisis, and banks have been encouraged to foreclose rather than restructure mortgages despite the opposite being explicitly called for the Emergency Stabilization Act.

The people who voted for Obama in 2008 voted for the promised hope and change. Many developed buyer’s remorse when what they got a set of policies which protected Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, big business at the expense of workers, and made unnecessary compromises with the right. The so called “enthusiasm gap” created by Republican obstruction and Administration timidity, produced such a deflation in people’s morale that it acted as an effective form of voter suppression. The election results can be explained in this fashion.

Some have said that it makes no sense that the voters would go in a more rightward direction because the Obama administration was not “left” enough. But the fact is the Obama administration failed to deliver change and also failed to make the case for progressive policies. The election of Democratic incumbents meant only more of the same. And only 9 million of the 23 million young people who voted in 2008, came out in 2010. This undervote made the difference.

Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” What happened in this election was the right wing was able to fool enough of the people enough of the time to make independents join with rabid right wingers, while at the same time suppressing the progressive electorate.

This country has a lot to do to get its economic house in order. It is heavily dependent on the financial services industry which only promotes speculation and unregulated bubbles. It is largely controlled by the defense industries which have promoted two and possibly more wars. It is beholden to the extractive energy industries, whose owners are funding the “tea party,” thus putting environmental amelioration on indefinite hold. And it is more and more influenced by the prison industrial complex which promotes hostility to immigrants, and takes resources from education and other vital areas. For the last 30 years it has relied on anti-union and anti-worker policies, which has forced the hemorrhaging of high paid manufacturing jobs to low cost countries and driven down wages for U.S. workers which can no longer be papered over with unsustainable debt.

The President cannot solve all these problems overnight, but with a stroke of a pen he can use already appropriated money to create millions of good green jobs, and move down the road to recovery much faster. Any opposition to this from the Republicans will expose their hostility to anyone but the richest members of society, and give the progressive movement ammunition to take the offensive.

Jeanne Mirer, who practices labor and employment law in New York, is president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild.

The freedom of navigation which the US claims to protect is actually the freedom of the US military to threaten other countries…. In advocating that free and safe navigation in South China Sea is threatened, the US is creating a false impression of a worrying situation of South China Sea to the international community. It boosts the “China threat theory” claimed by some Western politicians, distances the relations between China and Southeast Asian countries and creates new leverage to contain China’s development.

Since July, US politicians such as President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have frequently mentioned on various public occasions the issue of free and safe navigation in South China Sea.
They claim that maintaining free navigation in the South China Sea is in the US national interest and oppose any actions obstructive to free navigation. If one listens to them, the South China Sea no longer seems calm and tranquil.

But there is no threat to free navigation in the South China Sea. Maintaining free navigation and ensuring a smooth trade flow is in line with the globalization era, which has already become an international consensus.

Those who act against free navigation, such as pirates and maritime terrorists, have become the enemy of all, as the traditional legal description of pirates goes, and are opposed by every nation.

The South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest shipping channels with more than 40,000 vessels per year passing through.

If there were really problems, how could so many ships sail through the South China Sea frequently, safely and smoothly?

The answer is self-evident. The US is beating the drum on an issue which doesn’t really exist.

Behind its high-sounding words, what exactly are US intentions?

The first aim is to maintain US military hegemony in Asia-Pacific region.

The US has been sending a variety of military surveillance ships, observation boats and survey ships to launch probes and collect national information in the South China Sea for years. It seriously threatens the security and interests of surrounding countries and undermines regional peace and stability.

Facing international opposition, the US deliberately altered the concept and then created the pseudo-proposition of free navigation in the South China Sea, trying to shape international public opinion and force littoral countries and regions to accept its increasing military detection activities.

The freedom of navigation which the US claims to protect is actually the freedom of the US military to threaten other countries.

The US is also seeking a fulcrum for its new Asia-Pacific strategy. The US government is pursuing a return to Asia. If it intends to return with a mutually beneficial attitude and open mind, this is fair enough. If it is self-conceited, intolerant to others and trapped in a Cold War mentality, it inevitably will start forming cliques.

The US is also trying to contain China through the use of the South China Sea issue.

The US has acquired many benefits from friendly cooperation with China. But China’s goodwill has not received good returns from the US.

Based on a Cold War zero-sum mind-set, the US cannot tolerate the reasonable growth of China’s national strength and regional influence.

It falsely claims that China will challenge US global hegemony in the future and believes that China will implement an “Asian Monroe Doctrine” while the US is too busy to look after East Asia.

In advocating that free and safe navigation in South China Sea is threatened, the US is creating a false impression of a worrying situation of South China Sea to the international community. It boosts the “China threat theory” claimed by some Western politicians, distances the relations between China and Southeast Asian countries and creates new leverage to contain China’s development.

Thus, the speculation of the US over the issue of free navigation in South China Sea is in the name of a public good but for the sake of private interests. The US has no justifiable reasons to interfere the South China Sea by simply using the free navigation issue.

The author is a member of the China Institute of International Studies.

Mumia Abu Jamal is Innocent

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

Comrades of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal are rallying supporters as they trek down to the City of Brotherly Love on Tuesday, November 9 for a critical 2 p.m. hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court (601 N. Market) regarding his death sentence.

Having exhausted numerous appeals over the course of almost three decades, the Mumia contingent say it is imperative that the Black Panther penman receive mass support this Tuesday in order to again avert execution. Arguments will be made before a three-judge panel.

At stake is whether Jamal will spend the rest of his natural life in the Pennsylvania penitentiary system or if his death sentence will again be reinstated.

Recent revelations by Mumia’s defense team uncovered more crucial evidence that they say will help further prove his innocence.

Last month, during the eighth annual World Day Against the Death Penalty forum in Philly, investigative reporter Linn Washington shared video footage of himself conducting forensic tests demonstrating the amount of damage done to a similar slab of sidewalk as the one that Dan Faulkner was shot on, on the morning of December 9, 1981.

Washington displayed the marks made by similar grade bullets fired from the exact caliber gun at about the same distance that it is assumed that Faulkner was shot from. This was very important information because prosecutors claim that while the cop lay wounded on the ground after being shot in the back, Mumia stood over him and fired four rounds, executioner-style, yet only struck him once.

Therefore, the three other bullets would’ve considerably marked up the underlying concrete.

This, along with the failure by police to produce the gunpowder residue results, which are always administered to suspects who are arrested at or near the scene in murder cases, also brings into question the mishandling of their investigation, whether intentionally or not.Washington laid out the possibility of another man, Ken Freeman, who was a passenger in Mumia’s brother’s car when the journalist arrived at the scene, where his brother was being beaten by Faulkner. According to reports, the trajectory of the bullet that killed Faulkner suggests that it was fired from the proximity of the passenger side, where Freeman sat.

Freeman was mysteriously murdered on May 13, 1985, the same day Philadelphia police firebombed the MOVE Organization’s home on Ossage Avenue.

He was found dead in a parking lot, handcuffed and naked with a hypodermic needle stuck in him.

Michael Schiffman, author of “Race Against Death, Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Black Revolutionary in White America,” stated, “If Freeman was indeed killed by cops, the killing was probably part of a general vendetta of the Philadelphia cops against their ‘enemies’ and the cops killed him because they knew or suspected he had something to do with the killing of Faulkner.

The cops saw the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.”

Visit freemumia.com for more information.

For bus info, call (212) 330-8029

http://amsterdamnews.com/articles/2010/11/03/news/doc4cd1cf844b04c077663365.txt

In statements and interviews over the weekend, Democratic President Barack Obama and leading congressional Republicans voiced support for significant cuts in domestic social spending and an extension of Bush administration tax breaks for the wealthy.

Obama embraced both deficit reduction and an extension of the tax cuts in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday and in a long interview on the CBS television program “60 Minutes” broadcast Sunday evening.

“The campaign season is over,” Obama said in his radio address, offering an olive branch to the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives. “It’s time to focus on our shared responsibilities and work together.”

While the radio speech reiterated his campaign posture that the tax cuts should be extended only for families making less than $250,000 a year, he signaled his willingness to yield to Republican demands that upper-income families receive the full tax cut as well. “I believe there’s room for us to compromise and get it done together,” he said.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, correspondent Steve Kroft raised with Obama a proposal by John Boehner, the House Republican leader, that would combine a two-year extension of the tax breaks for the wealthy and a rollback of domestic social spending to the level of 2008, the last year of the Bush administration. “Is that something that you could live with?” he asked.

Obama replied: “I think that when we start getting specific like that, there’s a basis for a conversation. I think that what that means is that—we can look at what the budget projections are. We can think about what the economy needs right now, given that it’s still weak. And, hopefully, we can agree on a set of facts that leads to a compromise.”

He added that he had invited Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and other leading congressional Republicans and Democrats to a White House meeting on November 18, after his ten-day Asian trip.

At his first stop on the tour, in New Delhi, Obama told an Indian audience that the sweeping Republican victory in the November 2 congressional elections “requires me to make some midcourse corrections and adjustments.”

Republican congressmen have flatly rejected a proposal to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy for two years but make the tax cuts for middle-income families permanent because this “decoupling” would make permanent renewal of the bonanza for the wealthy more politically difficult.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader McConnell said he would be amenable to a two-year extension of all the tax cuts, which would put off the issue of a permanent extension until after the next presidential election. Republican Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan, the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, called the professed willingness of Obama to negotiate on the tax cut extension “a good sign.”

Republican leaders dominated the airwaves on the Sunday television talk shows, pressing for even more concessions on both taxes and spending cuts. The number two House Republican, Eric Cantor of Virginia, hailed the prospect of extending tax cuts for the wealthy, which he described as assistance for “job creators.” He reiterated a call for the lame-duck session of the outgoing Congress, which assembles November 15, to enact a permanent extension immediately.

Two ultra-right Republican senators called for major cuts in wages and jobs of federal government workers. Senator-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky called for a 10 percent across-the-board cut in wages for government workers and a 10 percent cut in the total number of federal jobs.

Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina joined Paul in claiming that the “average” federal employee makes $120,000 a year, double the average of private-sector employees (a figure concocted by right-wing think tanks that has no relation to what postal workers, clerks and other federal employees actually make). He also voiced his support for a plan to phase in the privatization of Medicare and Social Security for those under 40 years old.

Boehner and Cantor have proposed a combined total of $260 billion in cuts from the current year’s $1.1 trillion budget for government operations—excluding the military and entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. The reduction of 25 percent would be the largest one-year cutback since the end of World War II.

While legislation to enforce such cuts would have to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and be signed into law by Obama, the Republican-controlled House could force a showdown on budget-cutting by the spring, when Congress must approve a rise in the federal debt ceiling, currently set at $14.3 trillion.

Without legislation to raise the debt ceiling, the Treasury would be unable to borrow and the US government would default on its debt obligations, with incalculable consequences for global financial markets. Many Republican candidates for both the House and Senate have pledged to oppose any increase in the debt ceiling, which could be blocked either by a filibuster in the Senate or a majority vote in the House.

Both McConnell and Boehner have indicated that the debt ceiling could be used to extract further concessions on taxes and spending from the White House. “We’re discussing various things that might accompany the decision to raise the debt ceiling,” McConnell told the New York Times.

The congressional Democrats who appeared on Sunday interview programs offered no opposition to massive budget cuts and no defense of the jobs or salaries of federal workers. Instead, they pressed the Republicans to name specific programs that they favored cutting or eliminating, in an effort to demonstrate that the Republicans were not truly serious about deficit reduction.

There is no question that the cuts which the next Congress will impose—enabled by the capitulation of the Democratic Party and the Obama administration—will dwarf those imposed under the Reagan administration in the 1980s and under the Republican Congress led by Newt Gingrich in the 1990s.

The full dimensions are suggested by proposals coming from the state of Texas, where Republican Governor Rick Perry has proposed allowing states to opt out of the Social Security system, and where Republican state legislators have proposed to end the state’s participation in the Medicaid program, which is financed as a joint federal-state program to pay for healthcare for the poor, with the federal government picking up 90 percent of the cost.

The state could save $60 billion over the next six years by eliminating the program, which currently pays for medical care for 3.6 million children, disabled people and low-income adults.

Mounting US war threats against Iran

November 8th, 2010 by Bill Van Auken

Leading Republican Senator Lindsey Graham signaled a turn following the midterm elections toward an escalation of US threats against Iran, publicly calling for an all-out war that would “neuter” Tehran and leave it incapable of resistance.

Graham made the statement Saturday at a conference on international security in Halifax, Canada. “Containment is off the table,” he declared in relation to Iran’s nuclear program.

Washington and its allies have accused Tehran of developing its nuclear program for the purpose of building a weapon. The Iranian government has consistently denied this charge, insisting that its program is solely for peaceful, civilian purposes.

Employing the kind of total-war rhetoric that was heard from Germany in the 1930s, the South Carolina Republican vowed that a US attack would be carried out “not to just neutralize their nuclear program, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard. In other words, neuter that regime. Destroy their ability to fight back.”

Graham added that, despite the Democrats’ defeat at the polls last week, if President Barack Obama “decides to be tough with Iran beyond sanctions, I think he is going to feel a lot of Republican support for the idea that we cannot let Iran develop a nuclear weapon.”

Joining Graham in addressing a forum at the Halifax conference was Senator Mark Udall (Democrat, Colorado), who advocated a continuation of the sanctions regime against Iran but added that “every option is on the table,” a euphemism for US military aggression.

Speaking at the same conference, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak described Iran as “a major, major threat to any conceivable world order.” He charged that Tehran is “determined to reach military nuclear capability,” which he said would be “the end of any conceivable nonproliferation regime.”

Israel, which has defied the UN’s nonproliferation efforts and is the only nuclear-armed power in the region, has repeatedly threatened military strikes against Iran. Last month, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz advocated a naval blockade of Iran—an act of war—if Tehran fails to bow to Washington’s demands.

These latest threats come barely a week before the next round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, which includes the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—Britain, China, France, Russia and the US—plus Germany. The talks are slated to take place in Vienna.

The Republican triumph in the midterm elections will drive US foreign policy even further to the right and intensify the threat of a war against Iran. Taking the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in January is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican, Florida). She has opposed diplomacy with Iran, advocating the kind of economic embargo that she has vociferously supported against Cuba.

Ros-Lehtinen is also a fervent backer of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), which has claimed credit for terrorist attacks inside Iran and has been designated by the US State Department as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

Nearly a third of House Republicans backed a resolution last July providing explicit support for Israel carrying out military strikes against Iran.

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats have already been ratcheting up threats against Iran. After ramming another round of anti-Iranian sanctions through the United Nations Security Council, the administration last July signed into law a new set of unilateral US sanctions aimed at crippling the Iranian economy and creating increased misery for the country’s population so as to destabilize the government.

These sanctions penalize foreign banks and corporations that invest in or trade with Iran, restricting their access to American markets and denying them opportunities for US government contracts. The sanctions particularly target Iran’s key energy sector.

According to a New York Times article last week by David Sanger, even if Iran does come to the talks in Vienna next week, Washington will merely go through the motions of negotiating. Its main aim in participating in the talks will be to gauge “whether a new and surprisingly broad set of economic sanctions is changing Iran’s nuclear calculus.”

The article states that the new proposal from the US is “even more onerous than a deal that the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameni, rejected last year.” It would require that Iran halt nuclear fuel production and give up more than two-thirds more uranium than was stipulated in a tentative agreement reached in talks a year ago.

The Times article states that Washington believes it has “little to show for” the sanctions thus far, “which has prompted a discussion inside the White House about whether it would be helpful, or counterproductive, to have him [Obama] talk more openly about military options.”

Dennis Ross, Obama’s senior Middle East advisor, sounded a similar note in an October 25 address to a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the principal US pro-Israel lobby.

After bragging that US sanctions had produced mounting economic crisis, inflation and unemployment in Iran, Ross raised the implicit threat of war: “Ultimately, we hope that the severe pressure Iran faces today will compel a change in behavior. The door for diplomacy is still open and we certainly seek a peaceful resolution to our conflict with Iran. But should Iran continue its defiance, despite its growing isolation and the damage to its economy, its leaders should listen carefully to President Obama, who has said many times, ‘we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.’”

Perhaps the most chilling call for an escalation of the military threat against Iran came in a column entitled “The War Recovery?”, written on the eve of the midterm elections by Washington Post columnist David Broder, the so-called “dean of the Washington press corps.”

Complaining that the deepening economic crisis was creating a “daunting situation” for Obama to win a second term in 2012, Broder, an unabashed supporter of the Democratic president, spelled out two scenarios through which this challenge could be overcome. The first is the vain hope that the economic crisis will be overcome by a turn in the business cycle. Broder concludes that “the market will go where it is going to go” and that such an outcome is unreliable.

He suggests another solution based on the tumultuous history of the 20th century.

“Look back at FDR and the Great Depression,” he writes. “What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

“Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.”

There one has it: a modest proposal for economic revival and a successful reelection campaign prepared through the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people.

Underlying such bloodthirsty proposals are not merely the cynical political calculations of one or the other of America’s two right-wing, pro-imperialist parties, but rather the historic decline of American capitalism and the deepest crisis of the world capitalist system since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Militarism is embraced by both parties. This reflects the consensus within the ruling elite that American capitalism can offset its economic decline through the use of military force to establish US hegemony in the energy-rich and geostrategically critical regions of the Middle East and Central Asia.

The words of Broder and the Republicans, together with the actions of the Obama administration, underscore the threat of a new and far bloodier war that would carry with it the danger of a global conflagration.

Indian boots in Afghanistan?

November 8th, 2010 by Ali K Chishti

-“The almost 9,000 Indian troops deployed on UN peacekeeping missions could easily be re-deployed in Afghanistan,” confirmed Bharat Singh, an Indian defence analyst….Daily Times has been told that Lt Gen RK Loomba, the Indian Army’s Military Intelligence DG, was…in Afghanistan to assess Afghan military’s capabilities, and India is keen on taking the new role in Afghanistan.

-[T]he NATO and ISAF command, which sees Pakistan as an “enemy” because of Pakistan’s security doctrine of “strategic depth” and the analogy of “good Taliban and bad Taliban”, also wants Indian boots in Afghanistan since 2006 and would still welcome them.


US President Barack Obama has already begun his 10-day trip to Asia where he would be visiting Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and India. Obama’s trip to Japan, South Korea and Indonesia is seen as a “continuing policy” to further strategic cooperation between the US against growing Chinese influence and North Korea. However, it is his trip to India, which is being seen as “agenda-driven” and somewhat a strategic shift by the US.

Obama’s trip to India, which the Indian media is playing up as an “extra-ordinary trip”, is being seen with very high hopes domestically where various agreements and issues such as civil nuclear cooperation, economics, counter-terrorism, Pakistan and China will be discussed in great detail. The real agenda of Obama’s trip to India is “Afghanistan” where there’s “an absolute breakdown of relations”. While both the US and India wish to avoid re-emergence of terrorism sanctuaries capable of carrying out international terrorism, it is the “US giving all cards to the Pakistanis in Afghanistan, which is a real problem. We have investments, assets and recent history which prove that Afghanistan is abused and used against carrying out attacks inside India”, confirmed Zahid Hussain, an Indian defence analyst.

“Afghanistan has become a major source of tension between the US and India for the primary reason that India does not believe that we will stay until the job is done,” McCain said in a speech before leaving for a trip to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. While President Obama will be in India signing deals and will give a strong statement supporting India, McCain will be on a “Mission Pakistan” to make sure “no egos are hurt” in Islamabad.

While Obama will be singing praises for New Delhi, Daily Times had been told by many American analysts close to the US Defence Department that finally, the US has made up it’s mind up to formally ask India to send troops to Afghanistan due to shortage of manpower in Afghanistan, to satisfy non-Pakhtuns, and to satisfy the concerns of India and other regional powers, including Russia regarding a possible Taliban take-over. It should be noted that Pakistan’s all-powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, in Washington DC, publically called for “minimising Indian role” in Afghanistan for an exchange of stability in Afghanistan.

The US, according to Harvey Caroll, a US defence analyst, “is thinking broadly and keeping all its options open and while there had been talks with the Taliban, the US also wants to keep the Northern Alliance and “non-Pakhtuns” happy or give some sense of security for the long term. Pakistan needs to get out of its India-centric attitude and stop the blackmail”.

“The almost 9,000 Indian troops deployed on UN peacekeeping missions could easily be re-deployed in Afghanistan,” confirmed Bharat Singh, an Indian defence analyst. While it should be noted that India has other interests in Afghanistan too, it primarily wants to end Pakistan’s monopoly as a gateway to Afghanistan and had even financed an alternate corridor of strategic importance that connects Afghanistan with the Iranian port of Chahbahar. The 280km road from Delaram on the Kandahar-Herat highway to Zananj is India’s own ‘Silk Road’, which it wants to protect at any cost with the Iranians, who play along.

India, which traditionally has been supporting the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, has many defence officials and even a serving brigadier inside Afghanistan to look after Indian interests. Daily Times has been told that Lt Gen RK Loomba, the Indian Army’s Military Intelligence DG, was also in Afghanistan to assess Afghan military’s capabilities, and India is keen on taking the new role in Afghanistan.

It should be remembered that the Afghan Defence Ministry, which is mostly headed by old leftists, denied Pakistan’s offer to train the Afghan army, while General Caldwell, the head of NATO training mission, during an interview previously published in Daily Times, also denied Pakistan’s role in training the Afghan army. Meanwhile, the NATO and ISAF command, which sees Pakistan as an “enemy” because of Pakistan’s security doctrine of “strategic depth” and the analogy of “good Taliban and bad Taliban”, also wants Indian boots in Afghanistan since 2006 and would still welcome them.

In a conference call with reporters this week, Robert D Blackwill, who served as an ambassador to India during the George W Bush administration, said India is extremely anxious that the US would forge a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. McCain described the emergence of a strategic partnership with India as “one of the most consequential, bipartisan successes of recent US foreign policy”. While it should be remembered that India has taken Russia, France, the UK and now even the Americans on board for their permanent membership in the UN Security Council.

On the Pakistani side, the country has taken a central role in Afghanistan policy by assuring the Americans earlier this year that “we will help you stabilise Afghanistan only when you reduce Indian influence in Afghanistan”. The offer to India from the US to actually bring in uniformed Indian soldiers to Afghanistan would be seen as a serious security threat and an anti-thesis to Pakistani security doctrine of strategic depth.

Could this be all bluff? The US actually pressurising Pakistan? “Maybe, but it would certainly take skeletons out of the Pakistanis, plus the possibility is real. We can’t get blackmailed anymore,” Daily Times was told

Another massive egg recall, another tie to scofflaw Jack DeCoster.

Nearly 300,000 eggs have been recalled, affecting eight states, after Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. got word on Friday from the FDA that eggs from one of its suppliers, Ohio Fresh Eggs, tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis (SE). Cal-Maine processed and packaged 24,000 dozen eggs in its Green Forest, Arkansas facility under the Sunny Meadow, Springfield Grocer, Sun Valley and James Farm labels.

Cartons bearing plant number P1457 with Julian dates of 282, 284 and 285 are being recalled. The Julian date follows the plant number, for example: P1457-282.

The eggs involved, which were not produced from Cal-Maine flocks, were distributed to food wholesalers and retailers in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. There have been no confirmed SE illnesses related to the purchased eggs, reports Cal-Maine.

The FDA released the information this morning, three days after notifying Cal-Maine.

According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Jack DeCoster invested in Ohio Fresh Eggs, reported The Iowa Independent:

“Ohio Fresh Eggs has had ties with both Orland Bethel and Austin “Jack” DeCoster, the two men behind Iowa egg production companies at the center of a recent massive egg recall….

“In December 2006, the Ohio Department of Agriculture ordered Ohio Fresh Eggs to shut down on grounds that its operators, Bethel and Don Hershey, neglected to report that an anonymous investor with an option to purchase the company was DeCoster, who had already been labeled as a chronic and habitual violator of environmental laws in Iowa.

“DeCoster’s name did not appear on the documents, according to Ohio authorities, because his previous run-ins with state and federal regulators would have made it more difficult for the company to operate in Ohio under a state Livestock Environmental Permitting Program.”

The revocation was later overturned.

Jack DeCoster, owner of Wright County Egg, involved in this year’s half-billion egg recall after 1,600 people were sickened by salmonella poisoning, has a decades-long history of environmental and labor law violations.

Providing a timeline of infractions covering decades, The Atlantic said, “[Wright County Egg owner, Jack] DeCoster has left a trail of illness, injury, mistreatment, and death in his wake for decades. That he has been left to police himself for so long is a stunning testament to the failure of federal regulators.”

The AP reported that “his facilities tested positive for salmonella contamination hundreds of times in the two years before this summer’s outbreak.”

Congressman Henry Waxman told the New York Times that for decades, “DeCoster farms have had warning after warning. Yet they continue to raise chickens in slovenly conditions and to make millions of dollars by selling contaminated eggs.”

Cal-Maine advises:

“Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis or arthritis.

“Consumers who believe they may have purchased potentially affected shell eggs should not eat them but should return them to the store where they were purchased for a full refund. Questions and concerns may also be directed to Cal-Maine’s corporate office at 1-866-276-6299 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CDT.

“Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. is primarily engaged in the production, grading, packing and sale of fresh shell eggs. The Company, which is headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, currently is the largest producer and distributor of fresh shell eggs in the United States and sells the majority of its shell eggs in approximately 29 states across the southwestern, southeastern, mid-western and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.”

Concentrated animal feeding operations promote infection and contamination of the food supply, a direct threat to food security. Two massive recalls in a single year bolster the move toward small, free range operations.  Many urbanites would benefit by raising their own flock, as Leah Zerbe points out in 5 Reasons Why Chickens Belong in Your City, Town, or Neighborhood.

NATO to keep its Nuclear Arsenal

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

Commander of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) General Stephane Abrial says the Western military alliance has to keep its tactical nuclear arsenal.

“As long as the world is nuclear, the (NATO) alliance has to keep nuclear weapons,” Abrial said in a security conference in Halifax, Canada on Saturday, AFP reported.

NATO leaders are scheduled to meet in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon later this month to map out the future of the Western alliance.

NATO’s nuclear arsenal in Europe is a source of friction within the organization. Germany, Poland, Belgium and Sweden want a greater NATO commitment to nuclear disarmament.

In May 2009, Senior Belgian and German officials called for prompt withdrawal of the US atomic arms and pullouts by Russia, saying that the Cold War deployments had outlived their military or political value, Global Security Newswire reported in late October.

According to the report, an estimated 200 nuclear-armed B-61 gravity bombs are stored at six bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Russia has roughly 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons at bases inside its own borders. Moscow says it regards NATO nuclear arms in Europe as a threat to its security.

But the US and France oppose the alliance’s nuclear disarmament, fearing it could heighten pressure on Paris to relinquish its own arsenal.

French forces have roughly 300 nukes, while the continent’s other nuclear power, the United Kingdom, has its own stockpile of 225 nuclear warheads.

“There are only two nuclear powers in Europe, and neither Britain nor France are going to give them up at this present [time],” Julian Lindley-French, a scholar at the Netherlands Defense Academy, said in September.

In April 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to rule out early withdrawal of its nuclear warheads deployed across Europe.

A new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) negotiated earlier this year cuts Russia and the United States limits in deployed nuclear warheads from a figure agreed on in 2002, allowing them a maximum of 1,550 warheads each.

Sweden accuses US of spying

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

Swedish government officials have accused the US Embassy in Stockholm of conducting unauthorized surveillance activities in the country, shortly after similar charges were made in Norway and Denmark.

The surveillance, performed by people “assigned by the [US] embassy to undertake the measures,” has been in place since 2000 and its extent is still unknown, Swedish Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said on Saturday.

“It seems as though we haven’t been fully informed and that’s not good,” AP quoted her as saying.

Ask called on US officials to cooperate in the investigation into the matter.

She did not disclose the targets of the surveillance but pointed out that the activities “seem to be similar” to those uncovered in Norway earlier this week.

“We welcome that those countries that have a heightened threat risk apply their own measures to reduce the risk for attacks, but of course it has to be done in line of what the Swedish law says and permits,” Ask noted.

Denmark’s TV-2 Denmark disclosed on Saturday that the US Embassy in Copenhagen has also conducted secret surveillance activities in the Danish capital.

The report says a unit of 14 agents attached to the US Embassy kept tabs on Danish citizens by adding their personal data to a special computer database.

Also on Wednesday, Norway’s TV-2 News channel revealed that the US Embassy in Oslo has hired 15 to 20 people to monitor local residents.

Following the disclosure, Oslo asked US officials to provide an explanation.

Israel: Racism in Upper Galilee

November 8th, 2010 by Jonathan Cook

The tranquility of Safed, a small Israeli city nestled high in the hills of the Upper Galilee close to the Lebanese border, is not usually disturbed except by the occasional pilgrimage by Madonna or other famous devotees of the Jewish mystical teachings of Kabbalah.
 
But in the past few weeks, Safed — one of Judaism’s four holy cities — has been making headlines of a very different kind. Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz, last week declared it “the most racist city in the country”.
 
The unflattering, and hotly contested, epithet follows an edict from Safed’s senior rabbis ordering residents not to sell or rent homes to “non-Jews” – a reference to the country’s Palestinian Arab citizens, who comprise a fifth of Israel’s population.
 
At an emergency meeting, called last month to discuss the dangers of “assimilation” caused by Arab men dating Jewish women, the 18 rabbis warned that Safed was facing an “Arab takeover”. Jewish residents were told to inform on neighbours who try to sell or rent to Arabs.
 
The number of Arabs in the city, though low, has been steadily rising as Safed Academic College has expanded. There are now some 1,300 Arab students enrolled at the school.
 
The rabbis’ statements have provoked a series of riots by local religious Jews, in which several Arab homes have been attacked to chants of “Death to the Arabs”. In one recent incident, three Arab students were beaten as shots were fired.
 
So far three Jewish youths, including an off-duty policeman, have been charged with participating in the violence. The policeman is accused of firing his gun.
 
The anti-Arab campaign escalated last week as posters were plastered across the city threatening to burn down the home of an elderly Jew if he did not stop renting to Arab students.
 
The owner, 89-year-old Eli Zvieli, said the posters appeared after he received phone threats and visits from several rabbis warning him to change his mind.
 
Jamil Khalaili, 20, a physiotherapy student at the college who rents an apartment with a friend in a Jewish neighbourhood, said the atmosphere in Safed was rapidly deteriorating.
 
“We’re being treated like criminals, like we’re trying to steal their homes,” he said. “It’s got the point where many of my friends are wondering whether to leave. I want to study here but not if it costs me my life.”
 
Leading the opposition to the presence of Arab students in the city is Safed’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, who is employed by the municipality as head of its religious council.
 
“When a non-Jew moves in, residents begin to worry about their children, about their daughters. Many Arab students have been known to date Jewish girls,” he told Israel National News, the main news agency of the settlement movement.
 
The 18 rabbis issued their joint statement after learning of the city’s plan to build a medical school, which is expected to draw Arab students from across the Galilee.
 
They urged Jewish residents to shun a “neighbour or acquaintance” who rents to Arabs. “Refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly ostracize him until he renounces this harmful deed,” it read.
 
They have been given backing by a former chief rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, who used a recent sermon to tell his followers that “selling to [non-Jews], even for a lot of money, is not allowed. We won’t let them take control of us here.”
 
Similar anti-Arab sentiments have been heard in two other Jewish cities in the Galilee, Karmiel and Upper Nazareth. Both were established decades ago as part of a government “Judaisation” programme to settle more Jews in the country’s most heavily Arab-populated region.
 
In Karmiel, 30km west of Safed, ads in local newspapers have been promoting a special email address for residents to inform on neighbours planning to sell homes to Arabs. According to Ynet, a popular news website, the email account is overseen by officials for Oren Milstein, the city’s deputy mayor until he was fired last week.
 
Adi Eldar, the mayor, said Mr Milstein had “damaged the city’s image” after he gave a newspaper interview in which he boasted that he had prevented the sale of 30 homes to Arab families.
 
Mr Milstein’s replacement as deputy mayor, Rina Greenberg, is a member of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party of Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, who advocates ridding the country of many of its Arab citizens.
 
Meanwhile, the mayor of Upper Nazareth, Shimon Gapso, who is also allied Yisrael Beiteinu, has announced plans to build a new neighbourhood for 3,000 religious Jews to halt what he called the city’s “demographic deterioration”.
 
Hundreds of Arab families from neighbouring Nazareth have relocated to the Jewish city to escape overcrowding. Today, one in eight of Upper Nazareth’s 42,000-strong population is Arab.
 
In August, Mr Gapso said he felt “as happy as if I had a new baby” at the news that 15 extremist families from the former Gaza settlement of Gush Katif were establishing a Jewish seminary in his city.
 
Hatia Chomsky-Porat, who leads Galilee activists for Sikkuy, a group advocating better relations between Jews and Arabs, said: “The political atmosphere is growing darker all the time. Racism among Jews is entirely mainstream now.”
 
In Safed, the Arab student body, heavily outnumbered by nearly 40,000 Jewish residents, has tried to keep a low profile. However, one small act of defiance appears to have further contributed to Jewish residents’ fears of a “takeover”.
 
Inhabitants awoke recently to find a Palestinian flag draped on the top of a renovated mosque — one of the many old stone buildings in Safed that attest to the city’s habitation long before Israel’s establishment.
 
In 1948, when Jewish forces captured the town, Safed was a mixed city of 10,000 Palestinians and 2,000 Jews. All the Palestinian inhabitants were expelled, including a 13-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, now the president of the Palestinian Authority.
 
Mr Khaliali said the city’s history appeared still to haunt many of its Jewish residents, who expressed fears that Arab students were there to reclaim refugee property as the vanguard of a movement for the Palestinian right of return.
 
It is not the first time Mr Eliyahu, the son of a former chief rabbi of Israel, has been accused of inciting against the city’s Arab population.
 
In 2002, during a wave of suicide attacks at the start of the second intifada, he called on Safed college to expel all Arab students.
 
Two years later he launched a campaign against intermarriage, accusing Arab men of waging “another form of war” against Jewish women by “seducing” them.
 
He narrowly avoided prosecution for incitement in 2006 after he agreed to retract his earlier statements.
 
The Religious Action Centre, a group of Reform movement Jews, and several Arab MPs have demanded that Yehuda Weinstein, the attorney-general, investigate Mr Eliyahu and the other rabbis for incitement to violence.

 
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
 
A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.
 

 

US to build super base on Pacific island of Guam

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

The USA is building an 8 billion super military base on the Island of Guam in the western part of the Pacific Ocean in response to China’s strengthening of its defence potential, “The Daily Telegraph” reports. The work is currently being done on the U.S. Air Force Base in Guam to build docks for aircraft carriers and test ranges there, in addition to the existing facilities, and also to develop a national missile defence system there. The head of the New Eurasia Foundation Andrei Kortunov says: 

Naturally, Americans do not say officially that this base is being created to contain China’s military build-up. But if we look at the map and compare the military potential of the countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean, it won’t be difficult for us to understand that, most likely, China is exactly the key factor which is taken into consideration here.

The point is that there’re no Sino-American agreements which could limit in one way or another such projects on the U.S. side. Moreover, Guam is a U.S. territory. Therefore, legally, China can make no objections on that score. However, there’s reason to believe that China’s answer to the on-going construction will be a new increase in assignments for the development of its navy. Because the Chinese fear that U.S. domination of the northern part of the Pacific Ocean may hamper China’s efforts in the settlement of the Taiwan issue.     

If we compare the military might of China and the USA, we’ll see that China has to work much to catch up with the USA, the Russian expert says.

We can say nothing about China’s parity or its ability to resist the USA on the high seas either. However, the dynamism of the development of the Chinese naval forces is an object of concern for Pentagon strategists.

There are many American military facilities in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, Kortunov says. They are scattered over a large territory north of Alaska across Okinawa and as far as the Hawaiian Islands, where, traditionally, the U.S. Navy has a stronghold. Which means that there are many U.S. military facilities there, which form an arc and which must guarantee America’s hegemony in the Pacific Ocean.

As Americans say, these facilities have been set up to guarantee the security of commercial communications in the region, including the security of oil supplies from the Persian Gulf area to the western coast of the USA. But taking into account current tendencies, this infrastructure is regarded by many people in Beijing as one that is aimed against China.

Asked whether the new super base will infringe on Russia’s interests, the head of the New Eurasia Foundation said that, as it appears, it would be beneficial for Russia to distance itself from the current arms race.

However, one circumstance should be taken into account here – that fanning tensions in the Pacific Ocean region will not be beneficial strategically  for the countries situated in that part of the world.

Exposición de introducción a un taller sobre deuda publica durante la Conferencia Nacional de Comités Locales (CNCL) ATTAC Francia, 16 y 17 de octubre 2010, Universidad de Saint-Denis, Paris VIII

I. Algunos datos sobre la deuda externa de los países en desarrollo (PED) y de los países mas industrializados

Volumen de las deudas:

Deuda pública externa de todos los PED[1]. 1,5 billones de dólares (1 500 000 000 000 dólares)

Deuda pública externa del África subsahariana: 100.000 millones de dólares.

Deuda pública externa de América latina: 406.000 millones de dólares (406 000 000 000 dólares)

Deuda pública externa de Francia: 1,2 billones de dólares (1 200 000 000 000 dólares) -esta cifra incluye solamente la deuda del gobierno central-[2]

Deuda pública externa de España: 318.000 millones de dólares.

Deuda pública externa de Estados Unidos: 3,5 billones de dólares (la deuda total interna y externa de todas las administraciones públicas de Estados Unidos es de unos 15 billones de dólares).

Otro concepto a tener en cuenta: la deuda total externa es la suma de la deuda pública y de la deuda privada, y se compara con el PIB (producto interior bruto).

Deuda externa de América Latina: cerca del 40 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Irlanda: 1.100 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de España: 169 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Portugal: 233 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Grecia: 162 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Estados Unidos: 100 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Reino Unido: 400 % del PIB.

II. La deuda en el Sur

El contexto actual es favorable en muchos aspectos a los PED, debido a tres factores que producen un peligroso sentimiento de despreocupación, cuando no de euforia en sus jefes de gobierno, ya sean éstos de derecha, de centro o de izquierda.

- En lo que concierne a la deuda pública:

1) Los bajos tipos de interés (0 % en Japón, 0,25 % en Estados Unidos, etc.) permiten a los PED refinanciar en el Norte su deuda externa, además con una reducción en las primas de riesgo vinculadas a cada país. Por otro lado, para algunos países pobres muy endeudados, los efectos de la anulación de deuda por el Club de París, el Banco Mundial, el FMI, etc. comienzan a aliviar realmente el servicio de la deuda. Los problemas subsisten pero el peso del reembolso de la deuda es menor. Pero, atención, este alivio es la contrapartida de la prosecución de las políticas neoliberales dictadas por el FMI y el BM que afectan mucho a las condiciones de vida de la mayoría de la población.

2) El alza de los precios de los productos primarios (a partir de 2004) aumenta los ingresos de los países que los exportan y, al mismo tiempo, aumenta sus reservas en divisas fuertes. Al tener estas reservas se facilita el reembolso de sus deudas exteriores (que se deben pagar en divisas).

3) Debido a la enorme masa de liquidez que se mueve a través del mundo, existen flujos de capitales que van, temporalmente, a las bolsas de los países emergentes.

► De manera general, la deuda externa pública de los PED baja, y esta evolución concierne a casi todos estos países, incluso a los más pobres. Pero de nuevo atención: hasta aquí hemos tenido en cuenta que la deuda pública externa disminuye. Sin embargo, la situación se complica claramente si se toma en cuenta la deuda pública total, ya que la deuda interna va en aumento. En consecuencia, el peso del servicio de la deuda pública con respecto al presupuesto del Estado es, en muchos casos, idéntico al de hace unos años.

No obstante, como los gobiernos del Sur, el Banco Mundial y el FMI ponen énfasis en la deuda externa, la situación parece a primera vista totalmente controlada. Sin embargo, esta coyuntura es frágil, puesto que depende de factores que los PED no controlan:

1.- La evolución de uno de ellos tiene y tendrá un papel determinante, se trata de China. Este país —el taller del mundo— es el mayor importador de bienes primarios. El mantenimiento de un nivel elevado de importación de estos bienes por China provoca la elevación del nivel de precios de estos productos. Si los pedidos chinos bajaran de manera significativa, se correría un fuerte riesgo de que su precio se redujeran o se desplomaran. Varios factores pueden fragilizar el crecimiento actual chino, que podrían conducir a una reducción de la demanda: la especulación en la bolsa, con unas fluctuaciones considerables; el desarrollo de una burbuja inmobiliaria que alcanza proporciones realmente preocupantes. Todo esto en un marco de endeudamiento exponencial dentro sus fronteras[3] puede producir la explosión de unas acreencias más que dudosas, provocando la fragilización de un sistema bancario principalmente público. Podemos temer el estallido de varias burbujas en China —llamadas en particular crisis gemelas: crisis de la bolsa y crisis inmobiliaria, que pueden producir el crash bancario, como ocurrió en Estados Unidos en 2007-2008, y en Japón en 1990—, y sin embargo, no se hace una valoración seria de cuáles serán las consecuencias en el resto del planeta, incluidos los PED. Lo que es probable, y es lo que debemos tener presente, es que en caso de desaceleración del crecimiento de la economía china existe un riesgo importante de descenso del precio de los productos primarios.

2.- Los tipos de interés algún día aumentarán. En el Norte, los bancos privados tienen acceso en los Bancos Centrales (la Fed, el Banco Central Europeo, el Banco de Ingletera, el Banco de Japon,…) a un recurso financiero muy poco costoso, o sea, con un interés bajo. Con esta enorme liquidez, los bancos prestan, pero en cantidades limitadas, a las empresas que invierten en producción y a las familias que consumen. El resto, grandísimo, les sirve para especular con las materias primas, con los títulos de la deuda pública, o para prestar a terceros (por ejemplo a empresas industriales, que con ese dinero a su vez especulan en lugar de invertirlo en producción). Los Bancos Centrales de los países más industrializados saben que se están formando nuevas burbujas y en consecuencia tendrían que aumentar los tipos de interés para disminuir la liquidez en circulación. Pero dudan, puesto que si se resuelven a hacerlo existe de nuevo un riesgo de quiebras bancarias. Es como la elección ente la peste y el cólera: si los tipos permanecen bajos, se formarán nuevas burbujas y pueden llegar a un volumen realmente inquietante; si los tipos aumentan, las burbujas que ya existen podrían estallar rápidamente.

            Si los tipos de interés aumentan, la especulación con las materias primas debería disminuir (ya que la liquidez disponible para esas actividades se agotará), lo que producirá una disminución en su precio.

            Resumiendo, si los tipos de interés acaban aumentando, los PED pueden acabar estrangulados: encarecimiento del servicio de la deuda, unido a un descenso en la entrada de divisas por la fuerte reducción en el precio de los bienes primarios (véase el punto precedente). Los PED corren el riesgo en este caso de encontrarse de nuevo en la situación de los años ochenta: el alza del tipo de interés decidido por la Reserva Federal estadounidense a fines de 1979 —decisión seguida por otros Bancos Centrales de los países más industrializados—que provocó el aumento brutal de los reembolsos de las deudas que debían efectuar los PED, que, al mismo tiempo, se vieron confrontados a una caída del precio de los productos primarios (recordemos que el precio de las materias primas mantuvo una tendencia a la baja de 1981 a 2003).

3.- Finalmente, los flujos de capitales que van hacia las bolsas de los países emergentes pueden cambiar su rumbo bruscamente, desestabilizando la economía de estos países.

III. La deuda en el Norte

Sobre esta parte, Eric Toussaint toma como referencia un informe de economistas de la Universidad de Londres, en especial Costas Lapvitsas, donde se trata, entre otras, la cuestión de la deuda de Grecia, Portugal y España. Este estudio de 72 páginas, que merece ser traducido al español, es una mina de informaciones y de ideas.[4] También se hace referencia a un trabajo de 4 páginas sobre el tema del la deuda en el Norte del CADTM.[5]

Referencia histórica: La deuda comenzó a tener en el Norte niveles elevados en los años ochenta del siglo pasado. En efecto, después del primer shock petrolero y de la crisis económica de 1973-1975, los gobiernos trataron de relanzar la economía con empréstitos públicos. La deuda explotó cuando la Reserva Federal estadounidense aumentó sin previo aviso los tipos de interés a partir de octubre de 1979 (véase más arriba).

Seguidamente, a partir de fines de los años ochenta, la situación de las finanzas públicas se agravó de nuevo. Su causa: la «contrarreforma fiscal » llevada a cabo a favor de las empresas y de las personas de altos ingresos, que tuvo como consecuencia una reducción de la recaudación fiscal, compensada por una parte por el aumento de los impuestos indirectos (el IVA), y por la otra por el recurso al endeudamiento.

La crisis que comenzó en 2007 y sobre todo la manera con que los gobiernos rescataron a los bancos privados degradaron aún más la situación de las finanzas públicas.

En los países como el Reino Unido, Bélgica, Alemania, los Países bajos, Irlanda, los gobiernos gastaron sumas considerables de dinero público para salvar a los bancos. En un futuro próximo, el gobierno español decidirá seguramente hacer lo mismo con las cajas de ahorro regionales, en quiebra virtual debido a la crisis del sector inmobiliario. Irlanda está literalmente hundida bajo las deudas provenientes de los grandes bancos privados que el gobierno ha nacionalizado, sin recuperar el costo del salvataje, con los recursos de los accionistas.

Por otra parte, con la enorme liquidez puesta a su disposición por los Bancos Centrales en 2007-2009, los bancos del Oeste europeo (sobre todo los alemanes y franceses) concedieron un gran volumen de créditos (principalmente al sector privado pero también a los poderes públicos) a los países de la «periferia de la Unión Europea», como España, Portugal y Grecia, ya que los banqueros consideraban que no existía ningún peligro. La consecuencia de esta política de préstamos fue un fuerte aumento de la deuda de estos países, en particular el de la deuda privada (la relación deuda privada/deuda total externa es del 83 % en España, 74 % en Portugal y 47 % en Grecia)[6]. Los banqueros alemanes y franceses tienen entre ambos el 48 % de los títulos de la deuda española (los bancos franceses el 24 %); también el 48 % de los títulos de la deuda portuguesa (los franceses, ellos solos, el 30 %); el 41 % de los títulos de la deuda griega (los franceses el 26 %)[7].

A pesar de que los gastos sociales de los Estados no son en absoluto responsables del aumento de la deuda pública, están en el punto de mira de los planes de austeridad.

El aumento de la deuda pública es utilizada por los gobiernos como argumento para justificar la adopción de nuevos planes de austeridad.

Por otro lado, se dice en el Norte que El Problema es la deuda pública, cuando, en la mayor parte de países es la deuda privada la que plantea problemas. Esta enorme deuda de las empresas privadas corre el riesgo, si no se toman medidas adecuadas, de transformarse en poco tiempo en deuda pública.

La crisis griega:

Gran parte de los préstamos fueron concedidos a Grecia para financiar la compra de material militar a Francia y a Alemania, aumentar el consumo a crédito de las familias y para favorecer el endeudamiento de las empresas privadas. Después del estallido de la crisis, el lobby militar-industrial logró que el presupuesto de defensa fuera apenas tocado, mientras el gobierno del PASOK recortaba brutalmente los gastos sociales. Sin embargo, en plena crisis griega, a comienzos de año, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, el primer ministro de Turquía, país que mantiene tensas relaciones con su vecino griego, fue a Atenas a proponer una reducción del 20 % en los presupuestos militares de ambos países. Pero el gobierno griego no cogió el cable que le había tendido Turquía. Se encontraba bajo la presión de las autoridades francesas y alemanas, que querían promover sus exportaciones de armas. A eso hay que agregar los numerosos préstamos de los bancos, principalmente alemanes y franceses, a empresas privadas y a las autoridades griegas en 2008-2009. Estos bancos habían recibido préstamos del Banco Central Europeo a tipos de interés bajos y ese dinero, así obtenido, lo prestaron a Grecia con tipos de interés más altos. Como resultado, un buen negocio, que les permitió obtener en un corto plazo jugosos beneficios. Los banqueros no se preocuparon de la capacidad de los deudores para reembolsar el capital prestado a medio plazo. Por lo tanto, los bancos privados tienen una gran responsabilidad en este endeudamiento excesivo. Los préstamos de los países miembros de la Unión Europea y del FMI a Grecia no respetan los intereses de la población griega, sólo sirven para el pago a los bancos alemanes y franceses en peligro por una arriesgada política de préstamos. Además, están unidos a políticas que atentan contra los derechos sociales de la población griega. Y bajo este aspecto, constituyen préstamos odiosos.

Nota bene: ver la ponencia que hizo Claudio Katz en Atenas el 16 de octubre 2010 comparando Grecia 2010 y Argentina 2001- …  http://www.cadtm.org/Grecia-2010-Argentina-2001

IV. Las alternativas

1.- El CADTM ha propuesto 8 medidas que conciernen a la deuda pública (véase las 4 páginas mencionadas más arriba en http://www.cadtm.org/Juntos-para-imponer-otra-logica ), en el que el elemento central es la moratoria unilateral de la deuda, sostenida por una auditoría de la deuda pública efectuada bajo control ciudadano. Cuando el CADTM recomienda una cesación de pagos sabe de qué habla, pues participó en la comisión de la auditoría de la deuda de Ecuador, creada en julio de 2007. Comprobamos que numerosos préstamos habían sido concedidos violando las reglas más elementales. En noviembre de 2008, el nuevo gobierno se basó en nuestro informe para suspender el reembolso de bonos de la deuda que vencían, algunos en 2012 y otros en 2030. Finalmente, el gobierno de este pequeño país de Latinoamérica salió vencedor del pulso mantenido con los banqueros norteamericanos tenedores de los bonos de la deuda ecuatoriana. El gobierno compró por 1.000 millones de dólares títulos que valían 3.200 millones, ahorrando así el tesoro público ecuatoriano cerca de 2.200 millones de dólares del stock de la deuda, a lo que hay que sumar los 300 millones de dólares de interés por año, que desde 2008 no se pagan. Esto le dio al gobierno ecuatoriano nuevos medios financieros para poder aumentar los gastos sociales en sanidad, educación, ayuda a los pobres.

La cuestión es poner en evidencia el carácter legítimo o ilegítimo de la deuda (concepto histórico de «deuda odiosa», precedentes históricos como la anulación de la deuda iraquí en 2004, a pedido de Estados Unidos).

2.- Recurso de los Estados a efectuar «actos soberanos». Habitualmente se piensa a Estados Unidos o a Israel cuando se citan.

Sin embargo hay ejemplos recientes, en particular en Latinoamérica, de actos soberanos para resistir a la dominación de las IFI, de acreedores privados o de países dominantes:

• El ejemplo de la suspensión unilateral del pago de la deuda por Ecuador, mencionado más arriba.

• El ejemplo de Argentina, que rechazó el pago de su deuda entre 2001 y 2005, poniendo por delante la responsabilidad de los acreedores. Argentina, después de haber suspendido el reembolso de su deuda, finalmente la renegoció en febrero-marzo de 2005 al 45 % de su valor. Gracias a esta moratoria unilateral sobre los títulos de la deuda por un monto de cerca de 100.000 millones de dólares, el país pudo invertir sus recursos y reanudar su crecimiento (8 % de crecimiento anual en el período 2003-2007). Argentina todavía tiene una cuenta pendiente con miembros del Club de París. Desde diciembre de 2001 no hace ningún reembolso a los países miembros del Club y lo lleva muy bien. El Club de París representa los intereses de los países industrializados y no quiere publicidad acerca del no pago de la deuda argentina, ya que teme que otros gobiernos puedan seguir el ejemplo. Hay que destacar que Argentina forma parte actualmente del G20 y que, por lo tanto, no está en absoluto marginada a pesar de sus actos unilaterales soberanos.

Se puede agregar que, condenados por los órganos de las IFI, algunos países notifican a estas mismas organizaciones que han dejado de reconocer sus decisiones o arbitrajes, y eso está muy bien. Así, en 2009, Ecuador denunció 21 tratados bilaterales de inversiones y notificó al Banco Mundial que dejaba de reconocer al CIADI, el tribunal de Banco Mundial en materia de litigios sobre inversiones. Ya Bolivia había tomado la delantera en 2007.

3.- El Banco del Sur, lanzado en 2007 por 7 países de América del Sur (Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela), aunque todavía no ha comenzado sus actividades (véase la entrevista a Eric Toussaint publicada en el diario suizo Le Courrier, el 16 de octubre de 2010, http://www.cadtm.org/Senales-preocupantes-en-America  )  

Perspectivas de trabajo para ATTAC

Después de este taller, podemos sugerir varias pistas de trabajo: – Hacer difusión, mediante un material apropiado, las «gestiones soberanas» de resistencia realizadas por algunos países (Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, etc.), los actos efectuados y sus consecuencias.

• Impugnación de la deuda: condiciones de aplicación de una gestión análoga a la de Ecuador en el marco de la Unión Europea o de la zona Euro, con la identificación de los márgenes de maniobra que podrían disponer los países frente a los diktats de la Unión Europea, del FMI y a las presiones de los acreedores, etc.

• Integrar la reivindicación de la auditoría de la deuda en las proposiciones realizadas por ATTAC.

- Proponer una información accesible sobre los respectivos papeles de la deuda pública y de la deuda privada en la situación actual, sobre la responsabilidad de los bancos en la formación de las burbujas financieras y por lo tanto en el aumento de la deuda pública.

Traducido por Griselda Pinero.

[1] Los países llamados PED por los organismos internacionales (FMI, BM, OCDE) son los de América Latina, África, Oriente Medio, Asia —salvo Japón y Corea del Sur— y Europa del Este.

[2] OCDE, Dette de l’Administration centrale, Annuaire statistique 2000-2009, p. 31.

[3] Ojo! Nos referimos al endeudamiento interno preocupante en China. No confundir la situación de la China respecto a su deuda interna con la posición del país asiático frente al exterior. China es el mayor acreedor internacional.   

[4] C. Lapavitsas, A. Kaltenbrunner, C. Lambrinides, D. Lindo, J. Meadway, J. Michell, J. P. Painceira, E. Pires, J. Powell, A. Stenfors, N. Teles «THE EUROZONE BETWEEN AUSTERITY AND DEFAULT», SEPTEMBER 2010 http://www.researchonmoneyandfinance.org/media/reports/RMF-Eurozone-Austerity-and-Default.pdf

[5] http://www.cadtm.org/Juntos-para-imponer-otra-logica  

[6] C. Lapavitsas y … p. 8.

[7] C. Lapavitsas y … p. 10.

 
Eric Toussaint es presidente del CADTM Bélgica (www.cadtm.org ) y miembro del Consejo Científico de ATTAC Francia.

BP blamed for toxification

November 8th, 2010 by Dahr Jamail

James Miller, a commercial shrimper, lifelong fisherman in Mississippi and former BP oil response worker, is horribly sick.

“I’ve been vomiting, my head feels like it’s going to explode, diarrhoea, and I keep passing out,” Miller, who worked in BP’s so-called Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) oil response programme, said from his bed at Biloxi Regional Hospital on November 5.

Four days earlier, Miller, his wife and dog were boating on the Gulf of Mexico near one of Mississippi’s barrier islands when all three of them fell ill.
 
“My wife and I felt the chemicals immediately and my dog even started hacking like he was trying to cough up a bone,” Miller explained.

Later that day he began vomiting and experiencing a severe headache and diarrhoea. Then on November 4 he passed out in the shower. Concerned by his uncontrollable nausea and bleeding in his esophagus, his wife took him to the emergency room.

“The doctor just told me I have acid reflux,” Miller, who has been experiencing many of his symptoms since joining the VOO programme, said. “They don’t even know what this is. I told him I needed to be tested for toxic chemicals. I’m in a major hospital and they are telling me they don’t know what this is.”

Miller’s friend, Chris Balius, also a former VOO worker, was in a boat near Miller’s on that same day out on the Gulf.

“I was hit by it too,” Balius explained. “Headache, nausea, diarrhoea, and now my eyesight is failing. When I was in the VOO programme, I had to let someone else run my boat after 30 days because I got so sick. Every time I go on the water I get sick, so I no longer go, and don’t allow my family to go anymore.”

Joseph Yerkes, who lives on Okaloosa Island, Florida, was in BP’s VOO programme for more than two months, during which time he was exposed to oil and dispersants on a regular basis.

“I worsened progressively,” Yerkes said. “Mid-September I caught a cold that worsened until I went to a doctor, who gave me two rounds of antibiotics for the pneumonia-like symptoms, and he did blood tests and found high levels of toxic substances in my blood that he told me came from the oil and dispersants.”

Increasing numbers of people across the Gulf Coast are suffering from symptoms that doctors and toxicologists are linking to chemicals from the BP oil disaster that began last summer when the blowout of the Macondo well gushed at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

BP responded by using at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersant to sink the oil.

Widespread toxic exposure

Fisherman James Miller on his boat in Mississippi
[Erika Blumenfeld]

“The dispersants used in BP’s draconian experiment contain solvents such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol,” Dr. Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor, said. “People are being made sick in the Gulf because of the unprecedented release of oil and toxic chemicals from this past summer in response to BP’s disaster.”

Ott is frank in her assessment of the ongoing health crisis residents are facing in the Gulf.

“It’s clear to me there are four to five million people, from Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana, through the big bend of Florida, who are being exposed to dangerous levels of dangerous chemicals,” she said.

“Oil and dispersants are in the air and water, that are at levels that exceeded the acute or intermediate threshold that federal agencies have declared to be safe. Just speaking of air exposure, and there are scientific papers on this, if you release one molecule of toluene, at three metres above the ground, into a six kilometre wind, that molecule, uninterrupted, will travel 34 kilometres.”

Charter plane pilots who have conducted Gulf over-flights have reported having to wipe an oily, orange film from their plane afterwards. Following this, the skin on their hands peeled off. “The oil and dispersants are in the air and in the rain and are making people sick,” Ott said. “These Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are there, and at dangerous levels.”

Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system (CNS) depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. The chemicals are also teratogenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic.

“People experiencing these symptoms, that is their body trying to tell them they are in a dangerous situation,” explained Ott. “Exposure to dispersants makes everything worse because they affect the CNS more. They act as an oil delivery system, bringing the oil deeper into the body.”

Wilma Subra, a chemist in Louisiana, tested the blood of eight BP cleanup workers and residents in Alabama and Florida. “Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP crude oil,” Subra said. “The blood of all three females and five males had chemicals that are found in the BP crude oil. So the presence of these chemicals in the blood indicates exposure.”

The BP workers and community members had shockingly high levels of toxic chemicals like Ethylbenzene and Hexanes in their bodies, with one 48-year-old male showing the highest concentrations.

“I’m that 48-year-old male,” Gregg Hall, from Pensacola, Florida, said. “I’ve been nauseas and had headaches, burning eyes and numb feet for months. The bays here are now toxic. It’s all around us, yet the government keeps telling us everything is fine.”

According to Ott, doctors along the Gulf coast are treating the symptoms of the widespread exposure to BP’s toxic chemicals with antibiotics.

“You can’t take antibiotics and expect to get better,” she explained. “Environmental medicine is what these people need, but it is hard to find that in the Gulf, where the oil and petrochemical industry reign supreme and medical doctors there are reluctant to call a spade a spade.”

Getting treatment

Dr. William Rea, the founder of the Environmental Health Center in Texas [Erika Blumenfeld]

Dr. William Rea is a thoratic and cardiovascular surgeon who specialises in the environmental aspects of health and disease. He founded the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, Texas in 1974 and has been treating people who have been exposed to toxic chemicals in crude oil and dispersants for years.

“We first try to eliminate people’s symptoms, and that is organ specific,” Rea explained at his clinic, which is one of the oldest and most advanced centres in the world for addressing health as it relates to the environment. “We try to lower their toxic load by giving them intravenous nutrients, oral nutrients, sauna, and have them live in quarters that are less polluted, eat organic food and have them get safe drinking water.”

Rea has treated many people from the Gulf that have been made sick by BP’s toxic chemicals.

“I have multiple concerns now about people in the Gulf being affected by these chemicals,” he said. “First, they are all fatigued and not able to work. When your muscles are all fatigued and tired, it’s hard to function. People are getting cloudy brains, others are having heart problems because of the chemicals. Others have broncho-spasm and asthma from this. Others bloat and get sleepy after eating, diarrhoea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal problems.”

Donny and Angel Matsler, from Dauphin Island, Alabama, recently arrived at Rea’s centre for treatment. Donny has been suffering symptoms he attributes to BP’s toxic chemicals for months.

“I started to vomit brown, and my pee was brown also,” Donny said. “Sometimes I kept that up all day. Then I had a night of sweating and non-stop diarrhoea unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”

Donny, a Vietnam veteran who had pre-existing health issues before the BP disaster began, believes his condition has worsened exponentially because of ongoing exposure to BP’s chemicals as a result of living on the coast.

“We have many friends breaking out in rashes, having severe breathing problems and other symptoms,” Angel explained.

“It would help if they had some doctors on the coast that knew about all of this, so they could do some preventive work and maybe head some of this off,” Rea said of what he sees as a lack of expertise among doctors in the Gulf. “And folks who are heavily affected, like Donny and Angel, you have to get them out of the area to treat them.”

Leaving the Gulf Coast

Donny and Angel Matsler obtaining treatment at the Environmental Health Center in Texas [Erika Blumenfeld]

Lynn Ferguson lived in Palatka, Florida, with her husband Rod Norman until July, when they decided to move to Montana after suffering symptoms they attribute to the BP oil disaster.

“I lost my voice in June and my breathing got much worse,” said Ferguson. “I was having heart palpitations, coughing, painful lungs, shortness of breath, lethargy, and it all kept worsening. Rod flew to Montana in June and was there 10 days, and had immediate relief. But when he came back to Florida he got sick again.”

Ferguson said that after learning that her symptoms were being reported by others across the Gulf, “I took money out of my retirement and we moved to Butte, Montana. My breathing is much better and 90 per cent of my voice has come back”.

“Sinus infections, ear infections, chest congestion, burning eyes, I kept going to the doctor for these, and he put me on all kinds of antibiotics and it didn’t clear anything up,” Norman said. “He kept trying different antibiotics but it never really worked. I got well as soon as I got out of the state.”

Yerkes, the former VOO worker, said that his doctor, a general physician with a background in toxicology, instructed him to begin a nutritional detoxification programme in order to “lower the levels of pollution in the blood”. The doctor also told Yerkes to move away from the Gulf Coast.

“He was very clear about his diagnosis, explaining how dangerous and damaging these chemicals can be to our bodies, and concluded that all of my symptoms are due to the elevated, abnormal levels of chemicals present in my system from the Gulf oil spill,” Yerkes said. “The doctor who did my blood work said that the results showed that I have oil in my blood. I have the solvents in my bloodstream.”

Yerkes is looking for somewhere to move to as he continues his detoxification programme at his home in Florida.

“Every morning I wake up with nausea, I have blurred vision, a low grade fever comes and goes, and now I’m having anxiety attacks, which I’ve never experienced before,” he said. “I’m having symptoms unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and some of them scare me to death.”

Yerkes is struggling with the prospect of leaving the Gulf Coast, even though he feels that it is the only way he can regain his health.

“It deeply saddens me after living on or around the Gulf my whole life, making a living from it, and experiencing the serenity and contentedness it has always brought to me,” he said.

“But now I have to leave and start my life over. I know I am not the only one, and there are many much worse off than me, and I pray for everyone on the Gulf Coast to be oil and dispersant free. Nobody deserves this poisoning of our bodies, it is hell feeling like you’re being destroyed from the inside out from exposure every day.”

The Olbermann Expulsion: The Man, The Media, The Back Story

November 7th, 2010 by Danny Schechter

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141). Cassius, a nobleman, is speaking…

Alex Gibney’s new film The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer” shows how the former Governor’s indictments and criticisms of many Wall Street firm’s led to counter attacks and pushback from powerful people. It shows how he became targeted and exposes the role of the FBI, the Bush appointed US Attorney, rich players on Wall Street, corrupt politicians in Albany, a professional former Nixon boosting political provocateur/hit-man and Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post. They all went after him with a vengeance. He was, in fact, outed by the dirty tricksters.

In the end, though, Spitzer blamed himself for his own ego, arrogance and hubris. He says he brought himself down.

There is no doubt that Keith Olbermann had many pols and powercrats gunning for him for his outspoken commentaries and political impact.  He is a partisan, yes, but also a commentator who takes wacks at his own party. He pointed to the deep biases and superficiality in TV News. But then, he violated a firm rule governing TV journalists barring political donations to people they are covering. He apparently flouted his own contract although I am sure there is ambiguity there

In doing so, Keith put himself at risk and opened the door to being suspended.

A few years ago I wrote a magazine profile on Olbermann (who NBC blocked me from speaking to.)  It does show his history of confronting broadcasters and bosses. I admire his work, even as I find it sometimes pedantic and predictable, He  knew, or should have known, that he would be outed for a blatant transgression, and that does not excuse the others who do it, including his company and competitors.

(I do not make partisan political donations for this very reason, (as well as my disgust for most politicians) but I also do not disguise my viewpoints with the blather of phony “objectivity.”)

Yes, I would like to see him back on the air.

Is there hypocrisy here? Of course! That goes without saying. TV is a minefield, and to survive, you need an internal radar and realization that perception often trumps reality. You need relationships with colleagues and managers too, or you can isolate yourself. Who had his back? Did he believe his own hype?

MY PROFILE OF KEITH OLBERMANN IN 2007 (NBC would not let me speak to him) http://www.larryflynt.com/mycms/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=63&cntnt01returnid=15

The most upsetting thing about watching Good Night, and Good Luck—George Clooney’s cinematic tribute to media legend Edward R. Murrow—was realizing there aren’t any journalists of his stature in the hyper-commercialized, dumbed-down “wasteland” of contemporary network TV news. An intrepid war correspondent and broadcaster, Murrow dared expose tyrannical Senator Joseph McCarthy on CBS in the 1950s. Who among today’s blow-dried anchors and reporters would have had the cajones to take on blustering blowhard McCarthy?

In the wake of Clooney’s 2005 biopic, one candidate has emerged from the media pack to reinvigorate the fourth estate. “Keith Olberman is, quite simply, the Edward R. Murrow of our time,” asserts liberal radio host Stephanie Miller, whose program has been heard on Sirius Satellite Radio and other broadcast outlets.

The sportscaster-turned-political analyst anchors MSNBC’s evening newscast, Countdown With Keith Olbermann. If you haven’t been paying attention to his rising influence and popularity, you may be alone—Countdown’s viewership rose 21% in a year, and the perpetually third-place cable-news network edged out its CNN competitor during Olbermann’s time slot. Countdown is MSNBC’s highest-rated program.

Olbermann has always stood out, and not just because he stands 6-3 and wears size 13 shoes. Born in New York City in 1959, he was a gifted child who, at age 14, wrote the book The Major League Coaches: 1921-1973 (published by Card Memorabilia Associates). He was also a play-by-play announcer for his high school’s hockey team on WHTR. Chris Berman, now an ESPN mainstay, was the station’s sports director.

Keith entered Cornell University at age 16, and while an undergraduate, covered sports for WVBR, a student-run  radio station. Graduating at 20, Olbermann paid his dues on local news at Boston and Los Angeles TV stations before landing a berth at ESPN. He won awards for a witty and distinctive reportorial style that was also criticized for having “too much backbone.” It was literally true because the oversized Olbermann has six lumbar vertebrae, while the rest of us have only five. He refers to himself as a “spinal mutant,” quipping, “I do have too much backbone.”

Olbermann has had to overcome some physical problems, including celiac disease, which requires a gluten-free diet. In 1980 he hit his head on a New York City subway door and lost depth perception. Olbermann also has had some problems containing his emotions. When Keith left ESPN in June 1997, colleague Mike Soltys said, “He didn’t burn bridges here. He napalmed them.” One issue was an appearance on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show that ESPN did not authorize.

On November 17, 2002, Olbermann published what he called a “mea culpa” on Salon.com, in which he mused about his motivations, emotional vulnerability and willingness to talk about doubts and concerns most public figures avoid.

“It feels as if I’ve been coming out of a huge fog bank,” Olbermann wrote, acknowledging there had been problems and screwups on his show. “On top of everything else about it that can destabilize the soul, television is fraught with a million commonplace things that can go wrong.

“I have lived much of my life assuming much of the responsibility around me and developing a dread of being blamed for things going wrong,” Keith candidly confessed. “Moreover, deep down inside I’ve always believed that everybody around me was qualified and competent, and I wasn’t, and that someday I’d be found out. If you think that way, when somebody messes up, you can’t imagine that it just ‘happened.’ Since they’re so much better than you are, how could they not complete a task successfully? They have to be not trying hard enough—and when they don’t try and the show goes to hell, who gets blamed? You do.”

Olbermann’s backbone surfaced again when MSNBC hired him to cover politics. He quickly discovered he couldn’t stand cable’s marathon-like obsession with repetitive Monica Lewinsky news-a-thons. On January 21, 1998, MSNBC reoriented Olbermann’s program, The Big Show, to focus on “what we euphemistically call ‘The Clinton-Lewinsky investigations,’” Keith said.

The story began to get to him. He later explained why at the Cornell University commencement address that June: “Virtually every night, for an hour, sometimes two, I have presided over discussions about this stuff, so intricate, so repetitive, that it has assumed the characteristics of the medieval religious scholars arguing for months and even years over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

“Then my network starts covering this story 28 hours out of every 24.” He confessed it led him to “having dry heaves in the bathroom” and “days…when my line of work makes me ashamed, makes me depressed, makes me want to cry.” Later that spring, “I awakened from my stupor and told my employers that I simply could not continue doing this.” He then urged the graduates to do the right thing.

After 17 months at MSNBC, Olbermann returned to sports, this time at Fox, for another short stint as anchor. He went freelance, turning up on CNN, then radio, also writing for Salon.com, until bouncing back to MSNBC.

Olbermann really took off after he debuted his current MSNBC show, Countdown, on March 31, 2003. The program originates at MSNBC’s Secaucus, New Jersey, headquarters. One of its most-talked-about segments, called “Oddball,” features wacky footage from around the world illustrating Keith’s eclectic interests and idiosyncratic passions. (An oddball fact about Caucasian Keith is that he’s related by marriage to boxer Mike Tyson. The niece of Tyson’s adoptive father, longtime trainer Gus D’Amato, married Olbermann’s father’s brother, making Keith—who is single and childless—a Tyson cousin. How appropriate—considering his initials are K.O.)

Playgirl magazine voted Olbermann its number one sexiest male newscaster in 2004. GQ recently branded him a “renegade” and named him one of the publication’s “Men of the Year.” Keith has also won an Edward R. Murrow Award for reporting, which may explain why he signs off Countdown with Murrow’s signature farewell, “Good night, and good luck.” The CBS broadcaster, renowned for speaking truth to power, is Olbermann’s role model.

The MSNBC anchorman took on his Fox competition directly and personally by skewering its “reportage,” repeatedly labeling Fox bullyboy Bill O’Reilly “The Worst Person in the World.” Last summer, Olbermann wore an O’Reilly mask to a meeting of TV critics, giving them the Nazi “Sieg Heil” salute. The demagogic O’Reilly blasted back, cutting off callers to his radio program for using the K or O words. He even sicced Fox security on one caller who managed to bleat out the offending name.

After Olbermann started detailing the charges lodged by a former producer in a sexual harassment suit against The O’Reilly Factor’s führer, the New York Post—which, like Fox, is owned by conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp—reported on accusations posted to a gossip Web site that Olbermann was a lousy lover. The feud soon deteriorated into a very personal tit-for-tat.

Olbermann moved from taking on people like O’Reilly to frontally challenging the Bush regime, and then Dubya himself. For the first time, left-leaning and Democratic viewers had a voice that resonated with them in a medium dominated by right-wing pundits and opinion makers.

His “special comments” segment, centering on pressing issues, spontaneously began after Hurricane Katrina so that Olbermann could express his outrage at the federal government’s disastrous bungling. The special comments—the best soliloquies since Hamlet—are spread virally on sites like YouTube and Google and linked throughout the blogosphere. Keith used his own “Bloggerman” blog to make sure his words could be read as well as heard.

Suddenly, Olbermann’s ratings rocketed, as did his status as a fearless and articulate force in media. When Keith teamed up with Hardball’s Chris Matthews to cover the 2006 midterm elections, MSNBC doubled the size of the audience that had watched it during 2002’s midterms. Overall, MSNBC’s viewership rose from 15% of the cable news audience in 2002 to 25% in 2006. Meanwhile, the ratings of MSNBC’s competitors have declined.

TV critics such as the Washington Post’s/CNN’s Howard Kurtz credit Olbermann with helping to swing the 2006 election to the Democrats.

“Keith is a powerhouse—a pundit/journalist with brains and guts, and a fundamental sense of decency,” adds Mark Crispin Miller, an NYU media professor and author. “I think it’s telling that his background is not news but sports, because the U.S. news establishment would never have produced a voice so brave and honest.”

What audiences seem to like most is that Keith does not genuflect or pull punches vis-à-vis the powers-that-be. He goes right for the jugular; no other contemporary newsman would chastise the commander in chief with impertinent words like: “The President of the United States owes this country an apology. It will not be offered, of course. He does not realize its necessity. There are now none around him who would tell him or could. There needs to be an apology from the President. … And more than one.”

Olbermann went further in responding to Donald Rumsfeld, when he compared his critics to appeasers of Nazis. Keith denounced the then-Defense Secretary for “demonizing disagreement,” and compared Rumsfeld to Murrow’s old archenemy, Red-baiter Joseph McCarthy. The anchorman concluded with a clear reference to Rummy & Company: “This country faces a new type of fascism. Indeed!”

Olbermann’s outspoken rants—which are punched up with humor, historic quotes and an undeniable sincerity—differentiate him from his colleagues and even fictional newsy characters, notably the deranged ex-anchor Howard Beale from the 1976 movie Network. Thirty years after its release, the satire trashing television feels more and more like a documentary.

And yet Olbermann is up against the same industry forces that brought Beale down and pushed Murrow out—an anxious, profit-driven executive bureaucracy terrified of rocking the boat. Olbermann has already been warned not to have too many “liberal” guests, a rationale used to end Phil Donahue’s program, MSNBC’s highest-rated show in 2003. On Al Franken’s Air America radio show, Olbermann defiantly revealed, “I got called into a vice-president’s office…and [was] told, ‘Hey, we don’t mind you interviewing these guys, but should you really have put liberals on on consecutive nights?’”
Jeff Cohen, a former Donahue producer, finds this alarming. The author of the insider book Cable News Confidential discloses: “What Olbermann has done in the recent era was specifically banned by NBC management when I was at MSNBC with Phil Donahue four years ago.”

Cohen, who co-founded the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and who also worked at Fox and CNN, adds: “Setting oneself apart from what the others are selling can bring customers. Olbermann is a beneficiary of the shifting political environment that resulted from Bush disasters and years of brave activism and advocacy by progressives in Congress, civil liberties lawyers, MoveOn[.org] and thousands of hard-core activists who turned the tide—not to mention [Comedy Central’s Jon] Stewart and [Stephen] Colbert.”

Can Bloggermann survive at General Electric-owned MSNBC if he is identified as a voice of the Left? It’s not a topic he was allowed to speak to this reporter about. MSNBC press liaison Jeremy Gaines finally responded to three e-mails requesting an Olbermann interview with a terse “The answer is ‘No.’”

I spoke informally to a former MSNBC president who thinks the anchorman’s days are numbered in the cautiously conservative NBC environment. But an NBC News V.P., who spoke off the record and is personally bullish on Olbermann, told me it has taken years for the newscaster to establish himself and that the network wants him to stay. Keith’s contract was due to expire in March 2007.

I asked the veep about the attitude of NBC President Bob Wright, who reportedly kowtows to GE, a defense contractor credited with building Ronald Reagan’s career. “Bob Wright is content agnostic, but financially religious” was the response, suggesting that as long as Countdown’s numbers are good, and the revenues are up, there will be no pressure on Olbermann to follow the party line.

FAIR’s Peter Hart contends that Olbermann is helping MSNBC, which has generally trailed Fox and CNN in the ratings. “Those of us on the outside have been saying for years that the best way for the cable news channels to compete with Fox would be to counterprogram by featuring hosts and guests who represent the Left/progressive end of the political spectrum, since those voices are nearly silent on national television.”

The media observer adds: “Olbermann represents a tentative step in that direction, and folks are watching. It’s also worth noting that they’re not watching a typical cable-news shoutfest—Olbermann is delivering passionate, articulate critiques of the powerful. The conventional wisdom…would have probably told you that was a horrible idea, but viewers seem to disagree,” Hart points out.

According to Dan Abrams, who runs (RAN)  MSNBC, “[Olbermann’s] program could become a model for the newscast of the future. It’s a mix of straight news…with lighter fare and occasionally with some opinion.”

Although it was hard to find outspoken critics outside the Fox orbit and its echo chamber, Olbermann has attracted enemies and at least one death threat. On Fox’s media observer program News Watch, Christian conservative columnist Cal Thomas bestowed the “Turkey Award” on Keith last November for claiming 65-year-old Thomas dyed his jet-black hair.

On a more serious note, in October 2006 Olbermann received a letter at his New York home with an unidentified white powder in it. He immediately called police and was told not to go public, as this could tip off the sender. But when Murdoch’s New York Post published an account of the incident, the journalist went ballistic, in part because he insisted the newspaper’s story was wrong. Keith claims he did not ask for a medical checkup, as reported in the Post, and then spoke about what happened on the air:

“My first inclination was to wait until the start of the next workday to notify authorities. But the remote possibility that any delay might have endangered others led me to reverse my decision. … The officer in charge of the 18 or so police officers who responded asked that I follow their protocol: a decontamination shower at the scene, the bagging and sealing of the clothes I was wearing at the time of the incident, and my transportation to an emergency room. I mean, not to overdo this, but they had to melt my keys and my wallet.”

Californian Chad Castagana was arrested in November 2006 by the FBI and charged with mailing threatening letters, along with white powder, to Olbermann, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, David Letterman, Jon Stewart and other high-profile figures. The 39-year-old suspect is a conservative blogger.

Being a target of right-wing wrath hasn’t deterred Olbermann from confronting the status quo and speaking up for others threatened by reactionary wingnuts. After talk radio’s Stephanie Miller received a letter that threatened her and antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan, Keith gallantly rose to their defense in a riveting rant championing the right to dissent. This earned him a tongue-in-cheek marriage proposal from the single and attractive radio hostess.

“The fact that I routinely refer to Keith as my future husband has more to do with my delusional nature than anything to do with his personal taste, which, I’m sure, is much more evolved,” jokes Miller, whose father, William Miller, was Barry Goldwater’s GOP running mate in 1964’s Presidential race.

In any case, Olbermann faces a daunting minefield at MSNBC, a part of the larger big media battleground where backstabbing, oversized egos and bottom-line pressures clash every day with journalistic values.
Keith Olbermann’s role model, Edward R. Murrow, was an early victim of these pressures, despite his renown and success. Can the gutsy TV host known as “Bloggerman” survive and prosper? Stay tuned, and as Murrow would say, “Good night, and good luck.”

Danny Schechter is the blogger-in-chief of MediaChannel.org, the world’s largest online media issues network. A former CNN and ABC News producer with a short stint at CNBC, Schechter has directed many independent documentaries, including WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception and a new film, In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Bursts, dealing with the credit trap that has already ensnared six out of ten Americans. (See Globalvision.org to order and for more info.) Besides penning eight books—including When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War (SelectBooks) and The Death of Media and the Fight for Democracy (Melville House Publishing)—Schechter writes regularly for leading Web sites and media outlets worldwide. His latest film is Plunderthecrimeofourtime. (Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com)

If we cannot trust what the government tells us about weapons of mass destruction, terrorist events, and the reasons for its wars and bailouts, can we trust the government’s statement last Friday that the US economy gained 151,000 payroll jobs during October?

Apparently not. After examining the government’s report, statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) reported that the jobs were “phantom jobs” created by “concurrent seasonal factor adjustments.” In other words, the 151,000 jobs cannot be found in the unadjusted underlying data. The jobs were the product of seasonal adjustments concocted by the BLS.

As usual, the financial press did no investigation and simply reported the number handed to the media by the government.

The relevant information, the information that you need to know, is that the level of payroll employment today is below the level of 10 years ago. A smaller number of Americans are employed right now than were employed a decade ago.

Think about what that means. We have had a decade of work force growth from youngsters reaching working age and from immigration, legal and illegal, but there are fewer jobs available to accommodate a decade of work force entrants than before the decade began.

During two years from December 2007 – December 2009, the US economy lost 8,363,000 jobs, according to the payroll jobs data. As of October 2010, payroll jobs purportedly have increased by 874,000, an insufficient amount to keep up with labor force growth. However, John Williams reports that 874,000 is an overestimate of jobs as a result of the faulty “birth-death model,” which overestimates new business start-ups during recessions and underestimates business failures. Williams says that the next benchmark revision due out next February will show a reduction in current employment by almost 600,000 jobs. This assumes, of course, that the BLS does not gimmick the benchmark revision. If Williams is correct, it is more evidence that the hyped recovery is non-existent.

Discounting the war production shutdown at the end of World War II, which was not a recession in the usual sense, Williams reports that “the current annual decline [in employment] remains the worst since the Great Depression, and should deepen further.”

In short, there is no employment data, and none in the works, unless gimmicked, that supports the recovery myth. The US rate of unemployment, if measured according to the methodology used in 1980, is 22.5%. Even the government’s broader measure of unemployment stands at 17%. The 9.6% reported rate is a concocted measure that does not include discouraged workers who have been unable to find a job after 6 months and workers who who want full time jobs but can only find part-time work.

Another fact that is seldom, if ever, reported, is that the payroll jobs data reports the number of jobs, not the number of people with jobs. Some people hold two jobs; thus, the payroll report does not give the number of employed people.

The BLS household survey measures the number of people with jobs. The same October that reported 151,000 new payroll jobs reported, according to the household survey, a loss of 330,000 jobs.

The American working class has been destroyed. The American middle class is in its final stages of destruction. Soon the bottom rungs of the rich themselves will be destroyed.

The entire way through this process the government will lie and the media will lie.

The United States of America has become the country of the Big Lie. Those who facilitate government and corporate lies are well rewarded, but anyone who tells any truth or expresses an impermissible opinion is excoriated and driven away.

But we “have freedom and democracy.” We are the virtuous, indispensable nation, the salt of the earth, the light unto the world.

L’imperialismo non può più sopportare la rivoluzione bolivariana, perché questa costituisce una minaccia reale alle sue ambizioni di dominio e di espansione non solo in America latina, ma in tutti i paesi “oppressi e rivoluzionari”, come ha dichiarato il presidente venezuelano in visita a Teheran la settimana scorsa.

Le grandi potenze si vedono obbligate ad attaccarlo su tutti i fronti e quello della manipolazione dell’opinione pubblica mondiale sembra sempre più il mezzo preferito da loro.

Questa”crociata mondiale “ anti-Chavez che è iniziata in Colombia fa parte di questo movimento.

Le grandi potenze voglio trasformare l’immagine di Hugo Chavez in quella di un nemico comune e cercano di richiamare in questa direzione la percezione della maggior parte della popolazione mondiale.

Hanno perseguito i medesimi stratagemmi con Mouammar Gheddafi,Slobodan Milosevic,Saddam Hussein,Osama Bin Laden,i Talibani e con il presidente Ahmadinejad in Iran.Quello che loro vogliono creare non è solo la “sindrome del nemico” ma anche la costituzione di una piattaforma sulla quale installare i fondamenti per un’invasione armata del Venezuela.

Dopo il fallito colpo di Stato dell’aprile 2002 che mirava al rovesciamento del presidente Chavez, è stata messa a punto una strategia con gli Stati Uniti con lo scopo di radunare i paesi dell’America Latina contro i membri dell’Alleanza bolivariana di Las Americas (ALBA) e di contrastare la grande influenza che questa esercita sull’insieme delle società non solo in America latina, ma anche in un gran numero di paesi in via di sviluppo.Questo raggruppamento non solo non si è concretizzato ma è sfociato nell’emergenza di una presa di coscienza ancora più profonda sulle nefaste conseguenze dell’asservimento dei popoli agli interessi primari dell’impero così come l’adesione di altre nazioni alla rivoluzione bolivariana.Questa rivoluzione ora è arrivata e rappresenta il passaggio che dovranno iniziare senza tardare tutti i popoli del mondo.E’ la lotta contro l’Imperialismo sotto tutte le sue forme.E’ l’instaurazione dei regimi politici democratici e popolari che rispondono ai bisogni essenziali dell’umanità per quel che riguarda l’educazione e la sanità preservando allo stesso tempo i fondamenti delle diversità biologiche terrestre e marina che risultano di cruciale importanza nel fornire come priorità, alimenti di base per miliardi di abitanti che ne sono privi.

I Aumentare le tensioni tra i membri di ALBA e la Colombia

La strategia degli Stati Uniti è quella di aumentare le tensioni tra i membri di ALBA da un lato e la Colombia dall’altro e farne scaturire cosi un movimento d’appoggio a favore di un’invasione armata del Venezuela, generando così un movimento di accerchiamento o di isolamento dei membri di questa alleanza per poter neutralizzare le loro azioni nell’insieme del sub continente.

La messa in opera della Zona di Libero Scambio delle Americhe(Z.L.E.A.) non si è realizzata e questo fatto ha provocato una cocente delusione per le forze imperialiste ed in particolare , per gli Stati Uniti.

D’altro canto, sotto l’impulso del presidente Chavez, la recente creazione di istituzioni votate principalmente agli interessi dei paesi latino-americani come il Banco del Sud, Telesud e l’Unione delle nazioni sud-americane(UNASURI) sono venute ad esacerbare le frustrazioni degli Stati Uniti incitandoli a spiegare nuovamente le sue forze in modo a riprendersi il terreno perduto. 

II Piazzare dei dispositivi di provocazione e di aggressione

Il ritorno della Quinta Flotta nel luglio 2008 nel mar dei Carabi e negli Oceani che bagnano il Sud America, il rovesciamento del governo in Honduras,le dichiarazioni di cooperazione tra Caracas e le Forze armate rivoluzionarie della Colombia(FARC) e il recente accordo firmato tra gli Stati Uniti e la Colombia per l’utilizzo da parte dell’esercito americano di sette basi militari colombiane, sono altrettanti fattori considerati come atti di aggressione diretta contro i popoli latino-americani che vogliono prendere pienamente a carico il loro destino.

Questi elementi contribuiscono a creare un clima d’instabilità il cui scopo è quello di preparare lo scenario per un rovesciamento del presidente del Venezuela sia attraverso la creazione di agitazioni interne al paese stesso, sia attraverso lo sviluppo di un movimento massivo nell’opinione pubblica colombiana in favore di una invasione armata terrestre da parte dei suoi vicini che sono l’Equador e il Venezuela. 

Conclusione

Contro la disinformazione e per promuovere l’espansione di ALBA e delle sue iniziative. 

Questa “crociata mondiale” anti-Chavez dev’essere contrastata dalla diffusione di notizie sui membri di ALBA e sui risultati dei programmi politici , economici e sociali che questa associazione ha sviluppato negli ultimi anni così come attraverso quelle informazioni sui considerevoli progressi sociali che sono stati ottenuti.

Dev’essere lanciato un appello su scala mondiale affinché tutti gli organismi non governativi(Ong) operanti per la pace e la giustizia diffondano un messaggio per il prosieguo e lo sviluppo dei popoli oppressi di questo pianeta.

La riuscita delle esperienze effettuate dai membri di ALBA sarà anche quella di tutti coloro che lavorano all’impresa del disarmo e all’instaurazione di una pace duratura attraverso un equo sviluppo economico e sociale.

 

http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15095

Traduzione a cura di Stella Bianchi

06/10/2009

La muerte de Baitullah Meshud, líder de los talibanes pakistaníes, sería un gran éxito para Washington e Islamabad». Este comunicado que, una vez más, anuncia la muerte de un ser humano causada por la guerra, es lógico que alegre a los estrategas de los países occidentales que ocupan ilegalmente un país soberano de Asia central desde 2001. Esta noticia permite a los que llevan a cabo esta guerra de conquista manifestar, durante algunos instantes, su alegría y demostrar la eficacia de sus mortíferas intervenciones sobre el terreno. Pero conviene añadir otra interpretación a este suceso.

La desaparición del líder de los talibanes pakistaníes vendría a sumarse a los elementos que justifican la extensión de la guerra de ocupación que arrasa Afganistán al vecino Pakistán. Y contribuiría a legitimar una vez más, ante la opinión pública mundial, los actos de guerra perpetrados por Washington y el ejército nacional de Pakistán sobre el territorio pakistaní propiamente dicho, aunque convencer de la utilidad de la guerra contra los talibanes se ha convertido en una tarea muy fácil para Washington después de tantos años fabricando al «enemigo» encarnado actualmente por los talibanes a los ojos de la población mundial.

En este contexto es importante ser consciente de que el auténtico motivo de esas guerras no es la erradicación de los talibanes, sino más bien el establecimiento de las infraestructuras e instituciones necesarias para una ocupación permanente de la región por parte de Washington y las demás potencias occidentales. Esas guerras sólo acabarán cuando el régimen de Kabul sea capaz de asegurar un control militar total del territorio afgano, y eso sólo será posible con la ayuda del ejército nacional pakistaní, para el control de las zonas tribales fronterizas con Afganistán como el Waziristan, la Provincia de la Frontera del Noroeste, incluido el distrito de Swat.

 Las acciones guerreras pakistaníes aparecen como parte de la «guerra contra el terrorismo» decretada por la ex administración de G. W. Bush y vinculadas a la guerra de Afganistán. El valle del Swat cayó bajo el dominio de los talibanes en diciembre de 2008 y después ha sido objeto de operaciones militares con el fin de desalojarlos o simplemente «hacerlos desaparecer»

Esta guerra dirigida por el ejército nacional pakistaní con la ayuda del ejército estadounidense no se ha declarado oficialmente. Se desarrolla en el marco de la denominada «guerra preventiva» contra el terrorismo y permite a las potencias occidentales aumentar su control en todas las regiones de Pakistán, lo que no consiguieron hacer durante la presidencia de Pervez Musharraf, entre junio de 2001 y agosto de 2008.

El balance de la guerra en 2009

Varios informes recientes han dado cuenta de los repetidos ataques en la región contra los talibanes y los insurgentes procedentes de Afganistán, lo que ha acarreado un éxodo masivo de las poblaciones hacia el interior del país. La utilización de «drones» (aviones teledirigidos sin piloto, N. de T.) por parte de Estados Unidos para eliminar los presuntos focos de refugios de los terroristas ha causado un número de víctimas considerable.

Según los datos recientes, esos ataques y otras intervenciones habrían causado más de 1.500 muertos entre los talibanes. En el conjunto de las regiones afectadas por la guerra se observó el desplazamiento de dos millones de personas. «Hasta ahora, los costes son muy elevados; dos mil muertos y más de dos millones de personas desplazadas a causa de los combates en el valle de Swat y otros lugares». Según el Pakistan Body Count con fecha del mes de agosto de 2009, las bombas y los ataques de los drones han causado casi 10.000 víctimas; entre dichas víctimas se contarían más de 3.300 muertos. La web añade la observación de que «Tanto si se trata de un atentado con bomba o del ataque de un drone, el resultado es el mismo, un pakistaní muerto».

 Así, la web proporciona la historia completa y la cronología de los atentados con bomba y de los ataques de los drones. Los datos proceden de los informes de los medios de comunicación, hospitales y sitios de Internet. Todos los datos están disponibles para el gran público y ninguno es confidencial. Lo que permite dar una idea de la intensidad de los atentados con combas y los ataques perpetrados por los drones.

Según Bill Van Auken, es importante que recordemos que el pasado mes de mayo «El gobierno de Obama estaba considerando cada vez más aumentar su intervención en Pakistán como una guerra específica contra la insurrección, y para la que pedía el mismo tipo de poderes militares que ya obtuvo Bush para Afganistán e Iraq». Esos poderes podrían permitir al Pentágono, entre otras cosas, suministrar una ayuda militar a Pakistán del orden de 400 millones de dólares.

Mapa: Las provincias pakistaníes fronterizas con Afganistán. Fuente : http://argoul.blog.lemonde.fr/category/fugues-au-pakistan/  

Referencias:

AFP y AP 2009. «La mort du chef des talibans pakistanais semble se confirmer», Le Devoir, 8 y 9 de agosto de 2009: http://www.ledevoir.com/2009/08/08/262081.html

CTV.CA News Staff. 2009. «As deaths rise, Pakistan struggles against Taliban» 28 de junio de 2009: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090628/Taliban_Pakistan_09062820090628?hub=TopStories

Durfour, Jules, 2008 «Les guerres d’occupation de l’Afghanistan et de l’Irak: un bilan horrifiant de portée mundiales». 22 de julio de 2008. Montreal, Centro de Investigación sobre la globalización (CRM). http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9645

Lind, William S. y L. Rockwell. 2008. «Pakistan. Une victime collatérale des guerres américaines». Alternatives Internationale. 17 de enero de 2008: http://www.alterinter.org/article1623.html?lang=fr

Operaciones militares contra los talibanes en Pakistán: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerre_au_Waziristan

Pakistan Body Count: http://www.pakistanbodycount.org/

Pervez Musharraf: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pervez_Musharraf

Tisdall and Saeed Shaa. 2008. «Reported US attack pushes Afghanistan war into Pakistan. Up to 20 die in attack by commandoes on village near known Taliban and al-Qaida stronghold», guardian.co.uk, 3 de septiembre de 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/03/pakistan.afghanistan1

Van Auken, Bill. 2009. «Le gouvernement d’Obama cherche à obtenir des pouvoirs militaires extraordinaires au Pakistan». 7 de mayo de 2009. Montreal, Centro de Investigación sobre la globalización (CRM). http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13528

Waziristan: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wazirist%C3%A1n

Texto original en francés: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14719

Traducido para Rebelión por Caty R.

Jules Dufour, geógrafo, es presidente de la Asociación Canadiense para las Naciones Unidas (ACNU)/Sección Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, profesor emérito de la Universidad de Québec en Chicoutimi, miembro del Círculo Universal de los Embajadores de la Paz y caballero de la Orden Nacional de Québec.

Esta importante fecha en la historia de Argelia firmó el acta de nacimiento de una revolución ejemplar en los anales de los movimientos de liberación de los pueblos. Fue obra del pueblo argelino contra el abyecto e inhumano orden colonial que en nombre de las grandes potencias borrachas de poder y de conquistas hacía estragos entre los pueblos para acaparar sus tierras y sus riquezas. Éste fue el sino de tantos países africanos, entre ellos Argelia, a la que codiciaba el imperio colonial francés.

Sometido por la brutalidad de las armas y encadenado por el odioso Código del Indígena (*) que le despojaba de sus derechos y de sus bienes, el pueblo argelino ha padecido desde la invasión francesa de 1830 los peores abusos del despiadado sistema colonial. Todas sus revueltas de resistencia contra la ocupación fueron aplastadas en sangre. Pueblos enteros fueron extermiando y los combatienes argelinos fueron asesinados o deportados a islas lejanas, a Nueva Caledonia, sin esperanza de poder volver. El viaje se hacía en condiciones atroces, similares a las de los africanos a los que se transformaba en esclavos al servicio de los conquistadores de la “Nueva América”. Pocos de ellos sobrevivirían.

Mientras que se calculaba en unos tres millones de individuos la población argelina antes de la invasión del ocupante francés, en menos de veinte años el ejército colonial la redujo a un tercio. El ejército colonial multiplicó metódicamente carnicerías y masacres con el objetivo de diezmar a las poblaciones autóctonas y permitir a los colonos franceses instalarse en los territorios vaciados así de sus habitantes.

El infierno colonial prosiguió para varias generaciones de argelinos que vivieron secuestrados y martirizados en su propio país hasta la independencia en 1962. Sin embargo, obligada por el nuevo contexto internacional de la postguerra y los Acuerdos de Ginebra que prohibían toda forma de trabajos forzados, Francia había tenido que abolir en 1946 el Código del Indígena en vigor en sus colonias, pero no lo abolió en Argelia, donde el pueblo no debía acariciar en absoluto el sueño de la libertad. Para lograrlo y en nombre de la Argelia francesa, se desplegaron unos colosales medios de guerra sobre el suelo argelino y las filas del ejército colonial llegaron a alcanzar los 500.000 soldados para acabar con la revolución argelina, mientras que antes de que ésta se desencadenara había 40.000 soldados. Francia era muy consciente de que el destino del imperio colonial se jugaba en tierra argelina y se dotaba de los medios para quebrar esta Revolución e impedir que se lograra la independencia de esta colonia. Pero a pesar de todo su sofisticado arsenal militar, Francia no logrará detener el curso de la historia decidido por un pueblo ávido de libertad y el 5 de julio de 1962 Argelia celebró su independencia.

Y si se habla de Revolución ejemplar es simplemente porque la resistencia y el combate del pueblo argelino desbordaron rápidamente las fronteras del país para extenderse como ejemplo a otros pueblos colonizados, en particular sus vecinos africanos que sobrevivían bajo la dominación de los Imperios francés y británico. Se puede decir que la guerra de liberación llevada a cabo por el pueblo argelino contra la potencia armada francesa fue un elemento fundamental en el desmoronamiento del edificio colonial francés, cuya crueldad se mostraba al fin a ojos del mundo entero. Esta guerra duró siete años y causó más de un millón de víctimas argelinas. Fue una de las guerras más atroces a las que se entregó el ejército colonial francés, un ejército tanto más frustrado en cuanto que acababa de sufrir una amarga derrota en Indochina y, por lo tanto, estaba decidido a rehacerse sobre el cadáver argelino para que viviera el mito de la “Argelia francesa” (**) a costa de cualquier precio y de cualquier medio. Y entre estos medios hubo un amplio abanico de prácticas y de crímenes de guerra que iban desde quemar pueblos enteros con sus habitantes dentro, lo que dio la gloria a los generales franceses desde los primeros años de la colonización (el apogeo del imperio), hasta el sistema de la tortura metódica y bárbara de la década de 1960 que salpicó a los generales que tomaron el relevo y contribuyó al declive del imperio colonial (***). Sin embargo, toda esta cronología de crímenes no impidió a los padrinos del colonialismo rehabilitarlo por la vía oficial en Francia adoptando una ley (23 de febrero de 2005) que reconocía sus aspectos positivos, mientras que sus millones de víctimas siguen luchando para lograr que sea reconocido como un crimen contra la humanidad al mismo título que la esclavitud.

Tras 132 años de crueldad colonial el pueblo argelino podía impregnarse de la luz de la libertad. Por fin es amo de sí mismo y puede decidir su destino, al menos eso creía, ingenuamente. Desgraciadamente, las cosas se presentan de manera muy diferente y muy pronto los argelinos se verán confrontados a la adversidad del neocolonialismo. Incluso vencidas políticamente las potencias coloniales conservan una capacidad de hacer daño que resulta igual de fatal para las nuevas y frágiles independencias africanas. Su sistema colonial se transformó rápidamente en neocolnial y se desplegó como un pulpo, inflitrando sus tentáculos en las diversas esferas de los recién nacidos Estados y parasitando todos los proyectos de emancipación real. En el plano económico es donde las potencias coloniales decidieron causar estragos sobre todo creando el negocio de una cooperación completamente específica destinada esencialmente a garantizar sus intereses despojando poco a poco a las antiguas colonias de su soberanía. La evolución de la situación, tanto en Argelia como en el resto de África durante estos últimos cincuenta años “de independencia”, da testimonio de esta voluntad de las grandes potencias de conservar bajo su control las riquezas de estos países, sobre todo creando disensiones entre los grupos de la sociedad, favoreciendo tanto la inestabilidad y/o la mala gobernanza como la emergencia de dictaduras que garanticen sus intereses en detrimento de su pueblo. No hay más que pensar en estos dictadores criminales que reprimen a sus pueblos y los matan de hambre, particulamente en África, saquean sus países para edificar colosales fortunas personales y se pavonean por el mundo bajo las alas protectoras de las “madres patria” de antaño.

Sin embargo, este injusto statu quo que sustituyó al protectorado de hecho por las independencias no podía sobrevivir a las aspiraciones de las jóvenes generaciones de africanos que tienen sed de libertad y de democracia. Y en Argelia brama cada vez más fuerte la revuelta del pueblo al que se ha expoliado de los logros de su Revolución. En adelante la democracia ya no será un engaño en tierra argelina. Se hace posible gracias a la voluntad del pueblo y al contexto internacional que ha destituido el monopolio de las grandes potencias sobre los asuntos africanos y argelinos. La globalización ha permitido la emergencia de otras fuerzas económicas que favorecen de hecho el advenimiento de un nuevo orden mundial que dará paso al diálogo y la solidaridad entre los pueblos. Diversificando sus intercambios, sobre todo haciendo negocios con nuevos socios económicos como, por ejemplo, China, Brasil y otros, Argelia y varios países africanos podrán librarse del dominio de los padrinos del neocolonialismo y construir una cooperación sana que benefice por fin a su país. Sólo de este modo la independencia argelina, tal como la quiso su ejemplar Revolución, podrá levantar el vuelo y permitir al pueblo argelino vivir en democracia en un Estado de derecho conforme al espíritu de la Declaración del 1 de Noviembre de 1954 que refleja sus aspiraciones.

Zehira Houfani Berfas es escritora.

Notas de la traductora:

(*) El Código del Indígena (publicado 28 de junio de 1881) distinguía a los “ciudadanos” franceses (con orígenes europeos) de los “sujetos” franceses (los indígenas). Estos últimos estaban privados de la mayoría de sus derechos políticos.

(**) Según este mito, entre franceses y argelinos regiría una justicia imparcial.

(***) En relación a las torturas del ejército francés, véase la receinte publicacion en castellano de Henri Alleg, La Question, Hiru, 2010, libro en el que se relatan las torturas que padeció el periodista H. Alleg. El libro se publicó en Francia inmediatamente después de éstas y causó una verdadera conmoción en este país y en Europa.Ver también: http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=115862

Texto original en francés : http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21625

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Europa, indagar sin descanso para tratar de comprender…

November 7th, 2010 by Daniel Vanhove

“Los días pasan y se parecen”, se oye a veces. Y a escala de la Historia, las semanas, los meses y los pocos años que pasamos en ella no parecen representar gran cosa, si no nada… Así, podíamos preguntarnos cuánto pesa una vida frente a la humanidad, frente al mundo y frente a la eternidad. Sin embargo, a la escala humana que es nuestra medida (y que debe seguir siéndolo) cada día cuenta. Y tener proyectos sólo a muy largo plazo no equivale a nada si no somos capaces de asegurar lo cotidiano. Quizá también sea útil recordarnos este adagio: “Si tú no te ocupas de la política, que sepas que ella se ocupa de ti…”

Ahora bien, ¿a qué estamos asistiendo desde hace varios años si no es a una deriva lenta pero inexorable de una sociedad occidental cuyos políticos giran a la derecha cuando no es directamente y de manera cada vez más acusada a la extrema derecha?

Los últimos acontecimientos lo ilustran bien: en los Países Bajos la coalición que dirige el país se ha aliado con un partido profundamente racista y este país, citado como ejemplo por su tolerancia y apertura durante décadas, parace volver la espalada a su pasado; en Austria, feudo del ardor xenófobo de Jörg Haider, la extrema derecha obtiene cerca del 30% de los votos en las últimas elecciones en Viena; en Francia se imponen por la fuerza las medidas antisociales entre expulsiones de gitanos, declaraciones racistas de algunos ministros y apoyo a la política israelí de apartheid; en Italia Berlusconi, aliado con la Liga del Norte, impulsa las peores derivas a la derecha hasta llegar a cambiar las leyes para prevenirse de la justica; en Suiza el partido xenófobo UDC muestra su estigmatización sin complejos de los minaretes y de todo lo que se refiere al Islam; en los países nórdicos, que tienen, sin embargo, fama de estar bien orientados en sus políticas sociales, se ha abierto una brecha desde el escándalo de las caricaturas del profeta [Mahoma] en Dinamarca hasta las recientes elecciones en Suecia; en Alemania uno de los dirigentes del SPD (izquierda alemana, de la que después ha hecho que le expulsaran), Thilo Sarrazin, ha publicado un libro racista a propósito de la inmigración en el país y la canciller A. Merkel acaba de declarar que “ha fracasado totalmente el modelo multicultural”; sin olvidar Bélgica, cuyos vagabundeos nacionalistas flamencos podrían llevar al país a la implosión… Todos estos países tienen en común (y no es casual) la utilización de métodos policiales cuyas derivas en contra de sus propios ciudadanos, inaceptables para unas democracias dignas de tal nombre, podemos ver casi a diario.

Para aquellas personas que han sabido conservar la memoria del pasado el cuadro es cada vez más inquietante. Y conviene preguntarse por las razones de este fenómeno antes de encontrar las posibles respuestas. La primera constatación que me parece esencial recordar en esta reflexión es que en Europa del norte y del este una gran mayoría de la población había llegado a un nivel desahogo nunca alcanzado en la historia de nuestros países, hasta el punto de conocer, lo cual es de lo más normal, un fenómeno de inmigración intensiva ya que los habitantes de los países pobres estaban tan informados de nuestro nivel de vida por los medios de comunicación modernos que soñaban con escapar de sus precarias condiciones de vida para tener su parte de la tarta. Y que, lejos de responsabilizarnos, este mullido bienestar nos ha adormecido, unos demasiado ocupados en aumentar nuestro propio bienestar y otros en preservarlo. Basta con echar una mirada atrás para recrodar de dónde partieron nuestros padres y ver el camino recorrido…

Pero detengámonos en el ejemplo francés donde la respuesta popular ha adquirido en estos últimos meses un nuevo giro. ¿Qué no se ve, no se lee, no se oye hoy a propósito del presidente francés, autoproclamado monarca ilustrado, en una Francia que bajo su dirección parece, sin embargo, sumirse en las tinieblas? La euforia de la elección “people” de 2007 parece ya muy lejana y el pueblo francés parace despertar, por fin, con una fuerte resaca. ¿Cómo se ha podido producir esto si no es por un desinterés generalizado de la “cosa politica” que permitió acto seguido la elección de este insolente mundano? Durante años su principal preocupación de ciudadano ha sido la búsqueda de su pequeña felicidad personal en detrimento de todo espíritu de solidaridad, alimentado en ello por los medios de comunicación que no han dejado de promover una vida soñada, fantasiosa, al alcance de la mano y de cualquiera siempre que se extenúe para acceder a ella… El milagro de esta impostura quedaba resumido en el eslogan presidencial: ¡Trabajar más para ganar más! Y la manada se precipitó a ello, como los terneros a los que se lleva al matadero. El “cada uno a lo suyo” en una sociedad hedonista se ha convertido en modelo en detrimento de todo espíritu de solidaridad, de reconocimiento mutuo, de fraternidad… a excepción de algún telemaratón sobremediatizado, nuevo egocentrismo colectivo de libro, para hacer olvidar durante 24 horas el egoísmo que prevalece los demás 364 días del año… Y hoy, ¡catapum!, una derecha aliada al gran capital recorta los logros duramente adquiridos por nuestros mayores y estos logros son incluso discutidos por un poder al que ya no preocupa mentir, hacer trampa, camuflar y ocultar las realidades para que emerja el fruto de su ideología detestablemente fascista.

¿Debemos sorprendernos? Desgraciadamente creo que no. Y me doy cuenta de lo previsible que era todo esto desde el momento en que en vez de informar, de educar, de llevar al ciudadano a “la cosa politica”, nuestra sociedad del placer apoyada por los medios de comunicación al servicio del poder se afana en distraerla, en aturdirla y en contarle historias, unas veces bonitas, otras feas, pero historias. Se dice que al pueblo le encantan las historias. Y cada noche se le cuentan en la tele y cada semana en el cine. No hay más que ver lo indecentes que son los sueldos de las estrellas y el acontecimiento planetario que constituyen los festivales en los que les despliegan las alfombras rojas y se les distribuyen Oscars y Césars para darse cuenta de los sueños que para muchos hacen las veces de realidades… Lo mismo ocurre con el éxito de las religiones que se mantienen: unas historias para dormir despierto, tomadas no sólo por reales sino por La Verdad, preferentemente con L mayúscua y V mayúscula.

Y así, la información no es sino la sombra de sí misma y se desvía, se pervierte y se tergiversa en beneficio de las anécdotas, de las sagas y de los sucesos generalmente muy lejos de las realidades pero cercanos a la engañifa. Y ficción y realidad se mezclan para unos cerebros que se pueden malear a voluntad, alineados a los mitos, a los cuentos, a los fantasmas y no formados. La razón pierde sus derechos en beneficio de la emoción. En adelante todo se enuncia según la fibra emocional, con ayuda de una tecnología cada vez más eficiente, puntera en efectos especiales, y con el miedo como telón de fondo, para hacernos reaccionar con las tripas en vez de llevarnos a reflexionar. Y entonces, las consecuencias que debían cantar según unas promesas renovadas regularmente, suenan falsas y son tanto más difíciles de vivir…

Francia eligió a un nuevo rico despreciable, a un vulgar egocéntrico, pero que supo hacer vibrar a la nación por medio de sus discursos demagógicos y populistas. Y he aquí que ésta se despierta (pero un poco tarde, diría La Fontaine) y constata el resultado… Lejos de velar por el bienestar de la población, este Narciso engreido no tiene más preocupaciones que las que se refieren a su pequeña persona y a algunos periodicuchos que le siguen como su sombra tratando aquí y allá de limpiar sus torpezas.

Mientras tanto, la población ve multiplicarse cada día las disparidades y las injusticias. Y finalmente la revuelta a propósito de las pensiones no es sino la gota que colma el vaso. Cuantos intervienen en la cuestión reconocen que la edad media de los individuos aumenta con el tiempo y los progresos de la medicina. Y aceptan el hecho de que, al fin y al cabo, trabajar unos meses más no sería el problema. En cambio, lo que rechazan es la manera como se ha articulado la reforma de las pensiones, porque una vez más, en vez de borrar las injusticias, esta reforma mal gestionada (algo que ha reconocido hasta el gobierno, que anuncia ya que se deberían volver a discutir algunos puntos), las alimenta. Por consiguiente, los ciudadanos tienen razón en protestar y luchar contra esta enésima deriva de un poder que los desprecia en masa a beneficio de un puñado de personas. Y no es difícil comprender que ha sido la acumulación de los “excesos” del presidente y de sus vasallos lo que ha terminado por provocar el hartazgo al que estamos asistiendo. Las pancartas de las manifestaciones hablan por sí mismas. E incluso resulta extraño que no se haya manifestado antes esta ira porque no le faltan razones a no ser que se repita que se debe sin duda a una falta de conciencia política…

Para acabar, hay que decir también que nuestros países han llegado a este punto porque las actuales izquierdas se han mostrado incapaces de proponer alternativas verdaderamente creíbles. En su mayoría sólo tienen un discurso o bien radical, o bien utópico o incluso que se diferencia poco del de la derecha… Y esto debe enseñarnos lo siguiente: una cosa es cuestionar el sistema que no queremos y otra es tener la capacidad de sustituirlo por otro que sea suficientemente convincente y que se sostenga…

Así pues, sólo queda esta conclusión, que no deberíamos seguir volviendo la espalda a la cosa política sino, bien al contrario, es necesario que vuelva a ser asunto de cada ciudadano y ciudadana. Sólo en ese caso el sistema político que no nos conviene se podrá cambiar y volverse participativo y ya no representativo. Ya no tendremos que padecer las decisiones, podremos participar en ellas, activamente. Y se verá que, efectivamente, el futuro está en nuestras manos y que somos los artesanos de nuestro propio destino.

 

Texto original en francés: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21658

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos


Daniel Vanhove
es observador civil y escritor. Su último libro es La Démocratie Mensonge, Ed. Marco Pietteur, colección
Oser Dire, 2008.

Lindsey Graham Makes The Case For Strike On Iran

November 7th, 2010 by Global Research

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — A leading U.S. senator on defense issues says any military strike on Iran to stop its nuclear program must also strive to take out Iran’s military capability.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, said Saturday the U.S. should consider sinking the Iranian navy, destroying its air force and delivering a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard.

He says they should neuter the regime, destroy its ability to fight back and hope Iranians will take a chance to take back their government.

His remarks stunned many in the audience at the Halifax International Security forum.

Graham told the audience that newly elected conservatives would back “bold” action against Iran, reports Agence France Presse:

If President Barack Obama “decides to be tough with Iran beyond sanctions, I think he is going to feel a lot of Republican support for the idea that we cannot let Iran develop a nuclear weapon,” he told the Halifax International Security Forum.

“The last thing America wants is another military conflict, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran… Containment is off the table.”

The Obama administration, through top military officials, has made it clear that all options are on the table.

Even Alan Greenspan is confirming what William Black, James Galbraith, Joseph Stiglitz, George Akerlof and many other economists and financial experts have been saying for a long time: the economy cannot recover if fraud is not prosecuted and if the big banks know that government will bail them out every time they get in trouble.

Specifically, Greenspan said today in a panel discussion at a Fed conference in Jekyll Island, Georgia (where the plans to form the Fed were originally hatched):

Banks operated with less capital because of an assumption they would be rescued by the government, he said. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. wouldn’t have failed with adequate capital, he said. “Rampant fraud” was also an issue, he said.

Lack of Trust

“Fraud creates very considerable instability in competitive markets,” Greenspan said. “If you cannot trust your counterparties, it would not work.”

Greenspan is right.

As leading economist Anna Schwartz, co-author of the leading book on the Great Depression with Milton Friedman, told the Wall Street journal in 2008:

“The Fed … has gone about as if the problem is a shortage of liquidity. That is not the basic problem. The basic problem for the markets is that [uncertainty] that the balance sheets of financial firms are credible.”

So even though the Fed has flooded the credit markets with cash, spreads haven’t budged because banks don’t know who is still solvent and who is not. This uncertainty, says Ms. Schwartz, is “the basic problem in the credit market. Lending freezes up when lenders are uncertain that would-be borrowers have the resources to repay them. So to assume that the whole problem is inadequate liquidity bypasses the real issue.”

***

Today, the banks have a problem on the asset side of their ledgers — “all these exotic securities that the market does not know how to value.”

“Why are they ‘toxic’?” Ms. Schwartz asks. “They’re toxic because you cannot sell them, you don’t know what they’re worth, your balance sheet is not credible and the whole market freezes up. We don’t know whom to lend to because we don’t know who is sound. So if you could get rid of them, that would be an improvement.”

Similarly, Robert Reich wrote in 2008:

The underlying problem isn’t a liquidity problem. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the problem is that lenders and investors don’t trust they’ll get their money back because no one trusts that the numbers that purport to value securities are anything but wishful thinking. The trouble, in a nutshell, is that the financial entrepreneurship of recent years — the derivatives, credit default swaps, collateralized debt instruments, and so on — has undermined all notion of true value.

Many of these fancy instruments became popular over recent years precisely because they circumvented financial regulations, especially rules on banks’ capital adequacy. Big banks created all these off-balance-sheet vehicles because they allowed the big banks to carry less capital.

Nothing has changed since 2008 … the problem is still exactly the same.

The fraud committed by the giant banks – including mortgage fraud, encouraging appraisal fraud, fraud in representing the soundness of mortgages packaged together into mortgage backed securities, the rating of financial instruments, the numerous types of accounting fraud (repo 105s being just one example) – have continued. No big fish have been prosecuted.

No wonder no one trusts anyone else.

And the government has rewarded the looting by bailing out the bad actors again and again, either directly or through various backdoor schemes. ( And many economic writers believe that quantitative easing itself is just another bailout).

Even Alan Greenspan is calling out fraud and moral hazard. As I noted in April, Greenspan has been a a die-hard neoclassical or “free market” economist:

Alan Greenspan didn’t think regulators should even pay any attention to fraud:

He didn’t believe that fraud was something that needed to be enforced or was something that regulators should worry about, and he assumed she [Brooksley Born] probably did. And of course she did. I’ve never met a financial regulator who didn’t feel that fraud was part of their mission, but that was her introduction to Alan Greenspan.”

Indeed, as Born pointed out last year, Greenspan told her:

I don’t think there is any need for a law against fraud.

However, Greenspan started changing his tune somewhat in April, and his remarks today reinforce his apparent change of philosophy (a change which is as dramatic as the recantation by Judge Richard Posner – one of the leading proponents over the course of many decades for removing the reach of the law from the economy – of his anti-regulatory stance).

Admittedly, talk is cheap, and I’m not sure how much influence former Fed chairs like Greenspan and Volcker have on Bernanke or other sitting officials.

As I asked in April: “Fraud [is] finally being discussed in polite company … now where are the prosecutions?”

President Barack Obama arrived in Mumbai, India on November 6 and announced $10 billion in business deals with his host country which he claimed will contribute to 50,000 new American jobs. By some accounts half the transactions will be for India’s purchase of U.S. military equipment and half the new jobs will be created in the defense sector.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is completing a nearly two-week tour of the Asia-Pacific region which will culminate in meeting up with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen in Australia on November 8 to among other matters secure the use of the country’s military bases.

Gates will then visit Malaysia, “amid concern in the region over China’s growing economic and naval power” [1], to solidify military ties with the Southeast Asian nation as Obama moves to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan after his first visit to India on what will be his longest trip abroad since assuming the presidency.

Obama styles himself “America’s first Pacific president,” having been born in Hawaii and spending part of his childhood in Indonesia, and his administration has targeted Asia for the expansion of U.S. military influence and presence.

Several months ago a Chinese report warned that his visit to India was designed in large part to “secure $5 billion worth of arms sales,” a deal that “would make the US replace Russia as India’s biggest arms supplier” and “help India curb China’s rise.” [2]   

What he has accomplished is “a $5 billion sale for 10 of Boeing’s C-17 cargo planes” which represents “the sixth biggest arms deal in U.S. history.”

“This and the pending $60 billion deal with Saudi Arabia will certainly help to jump-start the economy, as they [arms sales] have for the past fifty years.” [3]

Job creation in the U.S. is an abysmal failure except in the military sector.

“Boeing said the C-17 deal with India will support 650 suppliers in 44 U.S. states and support the company’s own C-17 production facility in Long Beach, California, for an entire year.” [4]

Other deals included an $822 million contract for General Electric to provide 107 F414 engines for the Tejas lightweight multirole jet fighter being developed by India.

Rahul Bedi, Indian-based correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly, recently revealed that since U.S. sanctions enforced after India’s 1998 nuclear tests were lifted in 2001 “India has concluded and signed arms contract worth $12 billion. This includes maritime reconnaissance aircraft (Boeing P-81), missiles, artillery guns, radars and transport aircraft.

“India is also buying heavy lift transport for the air force (C-17s). An artillery radar contract was the first of its kind worth $142 million. Over the next years, India is going to go for repeat orders of C-17s [Globemaster IIIs], C-130J Super Hercules [military transport aircraft], etc.” and “these contracts are worth another 7 to 8 billion dollars.” [5]

The projected purchase of 126 multirole combat aircraft will account for another $10 billion and other contracts for assorted military helicopters are also being pursued by Washington. What is in question is $15 billion in weapons deals.

With already concluded and potential contracts, “we are talking about very, very big business. We are talking about the shifting of Indian military hardware, completely.

“Shifting from Russian components to American ones is a big shift. In the mid-90s, the Pentagon had assessed that by 2015 [it] would like India to source it’s 25 per cent of hardware. They seem to be well on their way in meeting their target.

“The profile of Indian military hardware is becoming US-oriented. This will bring definitive change in Indian military doctrine because it’s dependent on [imported] equipment.”

The U.S. is also pressuring the Indian government to sign several military-related agreements, including a Logistics Support Agreement which could prove “dangerous because the use of US ports by Indians will be zero while the US can or may use Indian bases frequently because of their presence in the region. So, technically speaking, if the US should have problem[s] with Iran or Pakistan they, under the agreement, may use our bases. Indian soil can become a lunching pad for refuelling or servicing.” [6]

Addressing the U.S.-India Business Council in Mumbai on November 6, Obama said: “There is no reason why India cannot be our top trading partner (from 12th position now)….I’m absolutely sure that the relationship between India and the US is going to be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.” [7] That is, one of the decisive political-military alliances of the century.

In the words of Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, “The simple truth is that India’s rise, and its strength and progress on the global stage, is deeply in the strategic interest of the United States.” [8]
   
Obama will leave India on November 8, when Clinton, Gates and Mullen gather in Australia, and head to Indonesia where he will exploit his childhood history and then to the G-20 meeting in South Korea and the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Japan.

Indian troops are currently participating with U.S. airborne forces in this year’s annual Yudh Abhyas joint military exercises “involving airborne specialist operations in sub-zero temperatures in Alaska” of a sort that could be put to use along India’s Himalayan border with China in the event of an armed conflict like that which occurred in 1962.   

“The exercise will test the mettle of the Indian Army men in performing
operations in extreme cold conditions in Alaska where the temperature hovers around minus 20 degree Celsius.

“The exercise is designed to promote cooperation between the two militaries to promote interoperability through the combined military decision-making process, through battle tracking and manoeuvring forces, and exchange of tactics, techniques and procedures.” [9] Last year’s Yudh Abhyas, held in India, was the largest U.S.-Indian military exercise to date. [10]

From September 29-October 4 personnel from the Indian army, air force and navy trained with the U.S.’s 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit at the latter’s base in Okinawa in the East China Sea during the Habu Nag 2010 “bilateral amphibious training exercise between India and the United States, designed to increase interoperability during amphibious operations,” the first time “the Indian military had the chance to work alongside Marines in this situation.” [11]

“Okinawa is located close to China and has a significant US presence where several military bases are concentrated.” [12]

Clinton began her six-nation tour of the Asia-Pacific region on October 27 by visiting a military base in Hawaii, meeting with the head of U.S. Pacific Command and assuring the foreign minister of Japan that the U.S. is prepared to honor its military commitments under terms of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in the event of further clashes between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. [13]

The next day U.S. and Japanese warships participated in an advanced ballistic missile interception test off the coast of Hawaii and on November 2 the U.S. launched the two-week Orient Shield 11 (XI) military exercise with 400 U.S. National Guard and 200 Japanese troops in the latter’s nation.

“Since World War II concluded, the United States has worked to build a better relationship with Japan. In 1960, the U.S. and Japan signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, a binding agreement for both countries to support each other from enemy attack.” As such, “United States Army Japan facilitates a two-week Orient Shield exercise in Japan each fall….”

In the words of the commander of the Japanese forces involved this year, “Our main goal is to enhance the interoperability between the U.S. and Japan.” [14]

Since Hillary Clinton spoke this July of U.S. intentions to intervene in territorial disputes in the South China Sea between China and its neighbors, the Pentagon has conducted three joint military exercises with South Korea, including in the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan/East Sea, and one with Vietnam in the South China Sea.

Last month the U.S. led a 14-nation Proliferation Security Initiative [15] naval exercise off the southern port city of Busan, “marking the first time for South Korea to host such a drill.” [16] In addition to the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Lassen and two South Korean destroyers, a Japanese ship and personnel from Australia, Canada and France participated.

In late September China’s Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo warned that “A series of military drills initiated by the US and China’s neighboring countries showed that the US wants to increase its military presence in Asia.”

“The purpose of these military drills launched by the US is to target multiple countries including China, Russia and North Korea and to build up strategic ties with its allied countries like Japan and South Korea.” [17]

Secretary of State Clinton arrived in New Zealand on November 4. Like South Korea, Australia, Malaysia and now Japan (which has announced plans to deploy Self-Defense Forces medical personnel), New Zealand has troops serving in Afghanistan.

“New Zealand has participated in the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan, with 140 personnel carrying out reconstruction work in Bamiyan and 70 special forces troops in the country believed to be operating in Kabul.”

Her visit revived and expanded military ties between the U.S and New Zealand that had been dormant since 1986, “mark[ing] the end of a row over nuclear weapons dating back almost 25 years,” according to Prime Minister John Key. 

“U.S. and New Zealand troops could train together” again, the press reported, and two days before Clinton’s arrival the New Zealand government published a 100-page defense white paper, the first in 13 years, detailing “closer military relations with the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada, as well as enhanced front-line capabilities.

“On the ground the army will get more front-line soldiers and Special Air Service elite troops, while on the seas the Anzac frigates will be upgraded….Hillary Clinton arrived in New Zealand for a three-day visit, prompting one newspaper to suggest it was a perfect gift for her.” [18]

Though not of the same scope, the New Zealand white paper follows one by Australia last year that calls for a post-World War Two record $72 billion arms build-up. [19]

Clinton’s next stop was Australia, where Pentagon chief Gates had also arrived to “reinforce the U.S. commitment to the region with a longstanding U.S. ally and an increasingly close partner,” according to Defense Department Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.

Clinton, Gates and U.S. military chief Admiral Mullen will meet with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Defense Minister John Faulkner on November 8 for the 25th anniversary Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) meeting.

The Pentagon spokesman added that “This year’s talks will cover a broad range of foreign policy, defense and strategic issues, including ongoing military operations in Afghanistan,” noting that “Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to the International Security Assistance Force” in Afghanistan. [20]

Morrell emphasized the meeting would strengthen the U.S.’s alliance with Australia and would contribute to increased collaboration with regional partners to ensure “maritime security” in Asia. As a news source put it, “US officials often employ the phrase ‘maritime security’ to refer to concerns about China’s assertive stance over territorial rights in the Pacific, particularly in the South China Sea.” [21]

A local news report recently divulged that “Australia has agreed to a major escalation of military co-operation with the US,” including “more visits by American ships, aircraft and troops and their forces exercising here regularly….”

“Access to Australian Defence Force facilities will allow the US to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region…as concern grows about China’s military expansion.”

Three “big announcements” on military cooperation will be made after the Australia-United States Ministerial consultations and “Increased numbers of US personnel in Australian facilities are expected within months, and the tempo of military exercises will be stepped up as that happens.” [22]

The military installations that the Pentagon will gain access to are expected to include army and air force bases at Townsville, the new Coonawarra naval base in Darwin, the Stirling naval base on Garden Island and the Bradshaw Field Training Area. 

“The Australian development is part of a new US strategy to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region after reviews of strategic policy concluded that the Bush government’s attempts to project power from North America were not working.” [23]

When Clinton arrived in Melbourne on November 6 she “signalled increased military cooperation with Australia.”

“Easier use of Australian bases, more joint training programmes and more visits by ships, planes and troops are proposed. There could also be stockpiling of US military equipment and supplies at local bases, and a joint space tracking facility that would monitor missiles, satellites and space junk.”

In her own words: “I think it’s going to be an issue of discussion at AUSMIN (Australia-US ministerial level talks Monday) about the cooperation on a range of matters, including space, cyber-security and so much else.”

New Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard confirmed that her administration would “welcome the United States making greater use of our ports and our training facilities, our test-firing ranges.” [24]

The focus of U.S. military strategy has shifted from Europe, subjugated through NATO expansion, and Africa, subordinated under U.S. Africa Command, to Asia. An Asia-Pacific analogue of NATO and AFRICOM is being expanded by the day.

Notes

1) Radio Netherlands, November 4, 2010
2) Global Times, July 13, 2010
   http://world.globaltimes.cn/asia-pacific/2010-07/550830.html
3) Anika Anand, The Real Reason For Obama’s Trip To India: The Sixth Biggest
   Arms Deal In U.S. History
   Business Insider, November 6, 2010
   http://www.businessinsider.com/top-10-us-arms-deals-in-history-2010-11
4) CNN, November 6, 2010
5) Sheela Bhatt, As Obama arrives, US bids for heavy arms business
   Rediff News, November 5, 2010
   http://news.rediff.com/special/2010/nov/05/obama-visit-special-as-arrives-us-bids-for-heavy-arms-business.htm
6) Ibid
7) Press Trust of India, November 6, 2010
8) CNN, November 6, 2010
9) Press Trust of India, November 4, 2010
10) India: U.S. Completes Global Military Structure
    Stop NATO, September 10, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/india-u-s-completes-global-military-structure
11) United States Marine Corps, October 5, 2010
12) Indian Express, September 22, 2010
13) U.S. Supports Japan, Confronts China And Russia Over Island Disputes
    Stop NATO, November 4, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/u-s-supports-japan-confronts-china-and-russia-over-island-disputes
14) U.S. Army Japan, November 2, 2010
15) Proliferation Security Initiative And U.S. 1,000-Ship Navy: Control Of
    World’s Oceans, Prelude To War
    Stop NATO, January 29, 2009
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/proliferation-security-initiative-and-us-1000-ship-navy-control-of-worlds-oceans-prelude-to-war
16) Korea Herald, October 13, 2010
17) Global Times, September 26, 2010
18) United Press International, November 4, 2010
19) Australian Military Buildup And The Rise Of Asian NATO
    Stop NATO, May 6, 2009
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/australian-military-buildup-and-the-rise-of-asian-nato
20) U.S. Department of Defense, November 4, 2010
21) Radio Netherlands, November 4, 2010
22) Australian Associated Press, November 6, 2010
23) Ibid
    U.S. Marshals Military Might To Challenge Asian Century
    Stop NATO, August 21, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/u-s-marshals-military-might-to-challenge-asian-century
24) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, November 6, 2010

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Al Qaeda in Yemen is “Western-made”

November 7th, 2010 by Global Research

Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Muhammed al-Mujawar said Saturday that al-Qaida was originally a Western-made group and was never created by his country, Xinhua reported according to the state-run Saba news agency.

The prime minister’s remarks were made during a meeting in the capital Sanaa with ambassadors of Asian and African countries to Yemen to clarify Yemen’s stance against those who propagated negative impacts on Yemen over the bomb parcels shipped to the United States last week.

“Al-Qaida was essentially a Western-made group and was never created by Yemen, it is alleged by those who seek to propagate this view internationally about Yemen,” Saba quoted Mujawar as saying.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on Friday claimed responsibility for the bomb parcels that targeted the United States.

It also said it was behind downing a UPS cargo plane by exploding one of its experimental bomb packages aboard the plane immediately after it took off from Dubai International Airport on Sep. 3, 2010.

According to Saba, Mujawar called on the international community to support his government’s continuing efforts to fight al-Qaida regional wing.

Yemen has been exerting efforts to curb terrorist groups, which raised international security concerns again after two parcel bombs were found on U.S.-bound cargo flights from the Arabian peninsula country last week.

US deploys Predator drones in Yemen: report

November 7th, 2010 by Global Research

The administration of President Barack Obama has deployed unmanned Predator drones in Yemen to hunt for Al-Qaeda operatives who are becoming increasingly active in that Arab country, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

But citing unnamed senior US officials, the newspaper said US military and intelligence operatives have not fired missiles from these aircraft because they lack solid intelligence on the militants’ whereabouts.
….
US officials said the Predators have been patrolling the skies over Yemen for several months in search of leaders and operatives of Al-Qaeda, the report said.

But after a series of attacks by Yemeni forces and US cruise missiles earlier this year, Yemeni Al-Qaeda leaders “went to ground,” The Post quotes a senior Obama administration official as saying.

Yemeni officials said they had deep reservations about weapons they said could prove counterproductive, the paper noted.

“Why gain enemies right now?” The Post quotes Mohammed Abdulahoum, a senior Yemeni official, as saying. “Americans are not rejected in Yemen; the West is respected. Why waste all this for one or two strikes when you don’t know who you’re striking?”

Instead, Yemen has asked the United States to speed up shipment of promised helicopters and other military equipment, the report said.

A US defense official said plans were being made to nearly double military aid, to 250 million dollars, in 2011, The Post noted.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in Australia Saturday that the US military was looking at how to bolster Yemen’s security forces amid growing concern over Al-Qaeda’s foothold in the country.

“I think in terms of training and so on there are things that we can do to help the Yemenis and strengthen their capabilities,” Gates told reporters on his plane before flying in to Melbourne.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re exploring with them a variety of possibilities along those lines,” he said.

Gates offered no details about what kind of assistance was on the horizon, but said: “The primary focus would be on training.”

“Under a paper money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.”Ben Bernanke, future Fed Chairman (in 2002)

 “My thesis here is that cooperation between the monetary and fiscal authorities in Japan could help solve the problems that each policymaker faces on its own. Consider for example a tax cut for households and businesses that is explicitly coupled with incremental BOJ purchases of government debt – so that the tax cut is in effect financed by money creation. Moreover, assume that the Bank of Japan has made a commitment, by announcing a price-level target, to reflate the economy, so that much or all of the increase in the money stock is viewed as permanent.”Ben Bernanke, future Fed Chairman (in 2002)

 “The Fed, in effect, is telling the markets not to worry about our fiscal deficits, it will be the buyer of first and perhaps last resort. There is no need – as with Charles Ponzi – to find an increasing amount of future gullibles, they will just write the check themselves. I ask you: Has there ever been a Ponzi scheme so brazen? There has not.” Bill Gross, PIMCO’s managing director

On Wednesday, November 3rd, the Bernanke Fed announced that it stands ready to resume money printing to stimulate the economy through quantitative money easing, an euphemism for printing more dollars. Indeed, it intends to buy $600-billion of longer-term Treasury securities until the end of the second quarter of 2011, plus some $300 billion of reinvestments, on top of the some $1.75 trillion of various types of securities, many of which were mortgage backed securities, that it has added in 2009 to its balance sheet, currently standing at a total of $2.3 trillion. There could even be additional increases in newly printed money as the Fed intends to “regularly review and adjust the program as needed to best foster maximum employment and price stability.”

After the election of fiscal conservatives on November 2nd, it seems that printing money is the only instrument left for the Obama administration to stimulate the economy. I fail to see, however, what is “conservative” about that. Actively debasing a currency to stimulate an economy used to be a Third-World economic recipe, —A recipe for disaster. Now, the United States government feels that is the only way to get out of the economic doldrums.

But U.S. economic problems are essentially structural in nature, and are due to a bad housing mortgage policy, a bad industrial policy, a bad financial policy, a bad fiscal policy, a bad foreign investment policy, too much entitlement debt, severe demographic problems related to the aging baby-boomers, and to very costly wars abroad. Relying exclusively on monetary quick fixes to correct them misses the mark and may have serious unintended negative consequences down the road.

In fact, it is likely that in the long run, this extreme monetary policy risks exacerbating rather than correcting the problems. Economic structural problems cannot be corrected with monetary means. They rather require real economic solutions. That means correcting the housing mortgage mess and devising an industrial strategy, a fiscal strategy, and an investment strategy that can put the economy back on its tracks of economic growth.

But, for better or worse, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) seems to be the only branch of the U.S. government left that can still function properly, i.e. that is not caught in a permanent political gridlock. As a consequence, for the time being at least, bankers are in charge of the U.S. economy. Since they are the ones who created many of the current problems, this is not very reassuring.

Let’s remind ourselves that the Fed is a semi-public, semi-private organization that has a long history of creating financial asset price bubbles in the U.S and around the world, essentially because the U.S. dollar is an international key-currency widely used around the world and is an important part of other central banks’ official reserves.

Thus, the real danger is that the Fed will again overdo it and create unmanageable financial and monetary bubbles in the coming years. —It did it in the past. It did it in the late 1960′s and early ’70s, and we witnessed the same scenario unfolding with the Greenspan Fed in the late 1990s, when excessive easy money helped inflate the Internet and tech stock market bubble. We saw this again in the early 2000s, when easy Fed money helped inflate the housing bubble. And now, we’re seeing it again with the Bernanke Fed. As a general rule, a central bank should not push the monetary gas pedal to the floor and be obliged to slam on the monetary brakes later, thus placing the real economy on a roller-coaster of booms and busts. That is not the way to run a large economy.

But because of the circumstances, the Fed may be at it again. This time it is busy creating a massive bond bubble, some important currency misalignments and a massive gold and commodity price bubble. We should also not forget that abnormally low interest rates and lower bond yields increase the present value of pension liabilities of most defined benefit pension plans.

Therefore, I would not be surprised to see a pension crisis developing in the coming years under the current Fed monetary policy. Of course, all of these bubbles are interrelated but when they come crashing down, four or five years down the road, maybe sooner, the economy may then be in worse shape than it is today. My most likely scenario is for the Fed to keep the monetary gas pedal way down until the 2012 election, and then slam on the monetary brakes thereafter to salvage what will be left of the imperial dollar.

If so, this could be a partial repeat of Japan’s experience in mismanaging its economy in the early 1990′s until 2000, a period known as the lost decade.

The current Fed’s monetary policy is to flood financial markets with liquidity, i.e. newly created dollars, and, in the process, devalue the U.S. dollar, spur American exports and prevent deflationary expectations from taking hold and from making already high debt loads even heavier. For this, the Fed has been engaged since 2009 in round after round of money creation and interest rate reductions to the point of pushing short-term monetary rates close to zero and keeping short-term real rates negative. But if the economy is in a liquidity trap, as it is fair to assume it is, although a central bank can print all the money it wants, this is unlikely to stimulate the real economy for very long. —This is like pushing on a string. Printing money, if it is an emergency temporary measure, can help mitigate the effect of having too much debt and debt-service costs relative to income, as is the case today with many debtors in a debt liquidation mode. However, if this becomes a feature of monetary policy for too long, it can have disastrous consequences.

In general, it can be said that the Fed can manipulate short term interest rates by artificially increasing demand for short term securities, but inflation expectations are a big component of long term interest rates and are much less influenced by the Fed. Therefore, if the Fed’s intention of printing large amounts of new money raises fears of future inflation, long term interest rates may rise rather than fall, and this is bound to hurt long-term productive investments.

Moreover, make no mistake, with globalized financial markets, a large chunk of the newly created dollars is flowing out of the United States and is invested in higher interest rate countries, pushing the dollar further down and these countries’ currencies further up. Of course, some of the newly created money will immediately find its way in the stock market, but there is no certainty that this will induce already stretched banks to increase their banking loans to businesses.

Another consequence is this: The current outflow of U.S. dollars helps keep the dollar exchange rate low, but when the Fed is forced to aggressively raise interest rates, as it will inevitably be forced to do later on, the reverse will happen and the U.S. dollar will likely overshoot and then become overvalued. This is the case today with the Japanese yen which became unduly strong when the Japanese carry trade (too much cheap money invested abroad returns home) collapsed.

What counts for most people, however, is that the Fed’s zero-interest rate policy has not cured the structural housing mortgage crisis, since home foreclosures are still very high. The Fed now places most of its hopes on a currency devaluation, which is the old trick of the “beggar thy neighbor” policy, i.e. trying to export one country’s unemployment to its trading partners by devaluating the currency. This was a form of protectionism much relied upon during the 1929-39 Great Depression. This may work for a while, at least as long as other countries can absorb American exports without launching their own money printing process in order to prevent an appreciation of their currencies.

Indeed, is it likely that countries which see their currencies being revalued by the Fed will remain passive? The Fed is implicitly making the bet that these countries will not retaliate, and that the international dollar-based currency system will remain intact. But for how long? Sooner or later, some central banks around the world will have no choice but to impose capital controls in order to slow down the inflow of unwanted outside money and the onslaught of imported inflation, and prevent their exchanges rates from rising too high too fast. If they do, the entire process of economic globalization may begin to unravel.

Meanwhile, foreign central banks, for example, could accelerate their rush to dump the U.S dollar and to accumulate gold and other more stable currencies such as the euro, the Swiss franc, the British pound, the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar. China has already begun to do just that. The share of dollar official reserves would then decline from about 60 percent presently to perhaps less than 50 percent. That may signal the beginning of the end for the “imperial dollar” which has dominated the international monetary system since the Bretton Woods conference of 1944.

This is to be followed closely.

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at [email protected]. He is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics” at: www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/

The book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, by Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay, prefaced by Dr. Paul Kurtz, has just been released by Prometheus Books.:
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Documents whose existence were denied by the Israeli government for over a year have been released after a legal battle led by Israeli human rights group Gisha. The documents reveal a deliberate policy by the Israeli government in which the dietary needs for the population of Gaza are chillingly calculated, and the amounts of food let in by the Israeli government measured to remain just enough to keep the population alive at a near-starvation level. This documents the statement made by a number of Israeli officials that they are “putting the people of Gaza on a diet”.

Calculation sheet from newly-released documents (image from Gisha)
Calculation sheet from newly-released documents (image from Gisha)
 

In 2007, when Israel began its full siege on Gaza, Dov Weisglass, adviser to then Prime-Minister Ehud Olmert, stated clearly, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” The documents now released contain equations used by the Israeli government to calculate the exact amounts of food, fuel and other necessities needed to do exactly that.

The documents are even more disturbing, say human rights activists, when one considers the fact that close to half of the people of Gaza are children under the age of eighteen. This means that Israel has deliberately forced the undernourishment of hundreds of thousands of children in direct violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

This release of documents also severely undermines Israel’s oft-made claim that the siege is “for security reasons”, as it documents a deliberate and systematic policy of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza.

Gisha’s director said, in relation to the release of documents, “Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place.”

In its statement accompanying the release of the documents, Gisha wrote:

The documents reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” for basic goods in the Gaza Strip (section h.4, page 5*). Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water. The state set a “lower warning line” (section g.2, page 5) to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of “deliberate reduction”. Moreover, the state set an “upper red line” above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand (section g.1, page 5). The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of “basic goods” below the “lower warning line”, but it did not define what these “basic goods” were.

Commentator Richard Silverstein wrote: “In reviewing the list of permitted items for import, you come to realize that these are the only items allowed. In other words, if an item is not on the list, it’s prohibited. So, for example, here is the list of permitted spices: Black pepper, soup powder, hyssop, sesame. cinnamon, anise, babuna (chamomile), sage. Sorry, cumin, basil, bay leaf, allspice, carraway, cardamon, chiles, chives, cilantro, cloves, garlic, sesame, tamarind, thyme, oregano, cayenne. Not on the list. You’re not a spice Palestinians need according to some IDF dunderhead. And tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, toys, glassware, paint, and shoes? You can forget about them too. Luxuries all, or else security threats.”

Despite the disturbing nature of the documents, which show a calculated policy of deliberate undernourishment of an entire population, no major media organizations have reported the story.

The full text of the released documents, and the original Freedom of Information Act request filed by Gisha, can be found on Gisha’s website. See below for the Gisha Report

Due to Gisha’s Petition: Israel Reveals Documents related to the Gaza Closure Policy

Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

http://www.gisha.org/index.php?intLanguage=2&intItemId=1904&intSiteSN=113

Thursday, October 21, 2010: After one and a half years in which Israel at first denied their existence and then claimed that revealing them would harm “state security”, the State of Israel released three documents that outline its policy for permitting transfer of goods into the Gaza Strip prior to the May 31 flotilla incident. The documents were released due to a Freedom of Information Act petition submitted by Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement in the Tel Aviv District Court, in which Gisha demanded transparency regarding the Gaza closure policy. Israel still refuses to release the current documents governing the closure policy as amended after the flotilla incident.

“Policy of Deliberate Reduction” The documents reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” for basic goods in the Gaza Strip (section h.4, page 5*). Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water. The state set a “lower warning line” (section g.2, page 5) to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of “deliberate reduction”. Moreover, the state set an “upper red line” above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand (section g.1, page 5). The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of “basic goods” below the “lower warning line”, but it did not define what these “basic goods” were (page 2).

“Luxuries” denied for Gaza Strip residents In violation of international law, which allows Israel to restrict the passage of goods only for concrete security reasons, the decision whether to permit or prohibit an item was also based on “the good’s public perception” and “whether it is viewed as a luxury” (section c.b, page 16). In other words, items characterized as “luxury” items would be banned – even if they posed no security threat, and even if they were needed. Thus, items such as chocolate and paper were not on the “permitted” list. In addition, officials were to consider “sensitivity to the needs of the international community”.

Ban on Reconstructing Gaza Although government officials have claimed that they will permit the rehabilitation of Gaza, the documents reveal that Israel treated rehabilitation and development of the Gaza Strip as a negative factor in determining whether to allow an item to enter; goods “of a rehabilitative character” required special permission (section g, page 16). Thus, international organizations and Western governments did not receive permits to transfer building materials into Gaza for schools and homes.

Secret List of Goods The procedures determine that the list of permitted goods “will not be released to those not specified!!” (emphasis in original) (section j, page 17), ignoring the fact that without transparency, merchants in Gaza could not know what they were permitted to purchase. The list itemized permitted goods only. Items not on the list – cumin, for example – would require a special procedure for approval, irrespective of any security consideration, at the end of which it would be decided whether to let it in or not.

Calculation of product inventory The documents contain a series of formulas created by the Defense Ministry to compute product inventory (pages 8-10). The calculations are presumed to allow COGAT to measure what is called the “length of breath” (section i, page 8). The formula states that if you divide the inventory in the Strip by the daily consumption needs of residents, you will get the number of days it will take for residents of Gaza to run out of that basic product, or in other words, until their “length of breath” will run out.

According to Gisha Director Sari Bashi: “Instead of considering security concerns, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of civilians living in Gaza, on the other, Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place”.

*Pagination is counted in the order the documents were received by the Ministry of Defense.

For translated excerpts of the state’s response initially refusing to reveal the documents for “security reasons”, click here.
 
To view the documents revealed by the state (translated from the original Hebrew into English), click here.
 
To view the FOIA petition submitted by Gisha (in Hebrew), click here.