The term ‘intellectual property’ seems innocuous. If property just is ‘intellectual,’ how important could it be? The truth is that intellectual property law is easily one of the most destructive forces in our economy. Nearly one-fourth of scientists responding to a survey by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest general scientific body in the world, reported that patents were hampering their research.[1] In the European Union, over €60 billion are wasted every year on research and development of products that are already protected by patent law.[2] An experiment using a virtual world to simulate the effects of the US patent system found that the “participants were more likely to innovate when there was no intellectual property system at all, or when they could open-source their innovations and share them with people.”[3]

Virtually every business that holds a dominant position in its field has gotten there not simply through good business practices, but also through the advantages afforded to them by intellectual property law. In 1998, Google filed patent number 6,285,999 on the “PageRank” system, laying the foundation for them to become the dominant force in internet search.[4] Monsanto has used its patents to control 95% of the soy and 80% of the corn markets, respectively. It used this power to increase the price of each by 28% and 25%, respectively, from 2008 to 2009.[5] “Patent pools” led to monopolies that had to be broken up using antitrust laws in the airplane [6], computer, and motion picture industries.[7]

Our society has not always been like this. In 1790, the year the US Patent Office first came into being, only three patents were granted.[8] Patents had to be deemed “sufficiently useful and important” by the three-person Patent Board, comprised of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, and the Attorney General. By July of 1836, only ten thousand patents had been granted.[9] In 2009 alone, 167,350 utility patents, the most common type of patent, were granted. IBM was granted 4,914 of these, a 17% increase over the previous year. Microsoft was granted 2,906, a 43% increase over the previous year and a 400% increase over 2003. Fifty companies received 29% of all patents granted in 2009.[10]

Patent and copyright terms have also expanded dramatically. The original US patent term was for fourteen years, should the Patent Board approve it. The patent term is now twenty years. “Under certain circumstances, patent term extensions or adjustments may be available.”[11] The original US copyright term was for fourteen years with an option to renew the copyright for another fourteen years if the author was still alive. The current copyright term is now for the life of the author plus another seventy years. For works of corporate authorship, the copyright term is now one hundred and twenty years after creation or ninety five years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier. This means most works will be copyrighted for over a hundred years. Trademarks, which didn’t even exist in federal statute until 1905, are in force as long as they are in use.[12]

This isn’t even to mention all the costs associated with the intellectual property bureaucracy. The US Patent Office has approximately six years of patent applications, over one million filings, waiting to be evaluated.[13] Approximately, seven out of ten patents were approved at the start of the 2000’s. Today, the number is less than half.[14] The average patent lawsuit will cost between $3 million and $10 million to litigate, and take between two to three years.[15] This amounts to a litigation cost of, at the minimum, $15.6 billion a year.[16] Merely getting a patent approved can cost $10,000 for a domestic filing and $100,000 for an international filing.[17] This amounted to a cost of $25.8 billion in 2009.[18] This isn’t even to mention that, according to Barack Obama, the paper-based tracking system of the Patent Office is woefully “outdated.”[19] As far as I know, nothing has been done to correct the situation.

Clearly, there is a problem. Our system is bogged down in waste and innovation is stifled. How do we correct it? Is the solution simply to eliminate intellectual property rights? I don’t believe so. Piracy during the 1800’s was a profound source of frustration for many authors [20] and inventors.[21] It also doesn’t make sense that people shouldn’t be rewarded for their creative work. Rewarding creators helps encourage more creation, something most people want.

The solution is to eliminate the ability of one person or entity to have the sole right to use a piece of intellectual property, while still rewarding the original creator of the intellectual property. The system that does this is compulsory licensing. In this system, every piece of intellectual property can be used in a derivative work, yet the original creator of the work is still compensated. The rate of compensation is either determined by the parties privately, or if an agreement cannot be reached, by a court.

The government sometimes uses compulsory licensing in antitrust cases, but only when it considers a firm’s dominance to be a problem.[22] Moreover, when the government does use compulsory licensing, they do not use the market to determine rates. They simply determine the licensing rate themselves. In 1953, a district court used this power to order General Electric to license its light bulb patent for “free,” a price General Electric surely was not happy with.[23] There have also been times when the government only allows a small handful of companies to license a piece of intellectual property. It is not open to the market at large.[24]

The next step to solving our intellectual property crisis is to eliminate the Patent Office and to replace it with a single repository for intellectual property that people want protection for. This idea was actually put forth by Jefferson in a 1791 bill, but unfortunately, it did not pass.[25] Without the government deciding what ideas are able to be protected, private firms spring up to search the registered intellectual property and inform individuals if they believe an idea or invention infringes upon something already registered. This eliminates long wait times, as people could presumably pay for faster searches. Plus, if a company does not perform well, it will presumably go out of business.

The elimination of the Patent Office may not even affect the number of intellectual property infringement law suits. Even with the Patent Office, there are still over 5,000 patent, copyright, and trademark suits every year.[26] The Patent Office also does not ensure that only “sufficiently important” creations receive protection, as was in its original mandate. Well, unless you consider “the bird diaper,” “the pat on the back apparatus,” and the “initiation apparatus,” a “harmless” way to initiate a candidate into a fraternity by shocking him with electrodes, to be “sufficiently important.”[27]

These solutions are simple, but achieving them is difficult, because they would mean the government doing less. The government, and the powerful parties who benefit from government intervention into the economy, typically do not like the government to do less. Intellectual property law has also historically been a very important tool for government-sponsored censorship, an important tool of the state. This side of intellectual property law has started raising its ugly head again in recent years. Laws and treaties such as the ACTA treaty,[28] Britain’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act,[29] and Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act [30] all threaten to bring millions people across the world under the heel of a digital dictatorship. Clearly, our intellectual property system must be reformed before any more damage is done.

A commonly cited beginning to modern intellectual property is when Fillipo Brunelleschi was granted a three year patent for a barge with hoisting gear that carried marble along Italy’s Arno river in 1421.[31] This patent was given not only for technological innovation, but also because Brunelleschi was working on one of the most important projects of the day: building the dome on the Santa Maria del Fiore. This was like the Super Bowl to the people of Florence. People would gather to watch the dome being built. Santa Maria del Fiore was “the great spiritual center of the city,” and it “served as the venue for diplomatic visits, housed important political events, and welcomed within its walls many of the cultural, spiritual and intellectual leaders of the time.”[32] It had remained without a dome for over 100 years. Thus, the granting of the first patent had a decidedly political aspect to it.

The first patent in England was given by Henry VI in 1449 to John of Utynam for a technique on manufacturing stained glass.[33] This was the start of a long tradition whereby the Crown issued monopolies to “favoured persons,” or to people willing to pay. The granting of monopolies became a key source of revenue for the Crown. Soon, monopolies covered a whole range of known goods, such as salt,[34] and the right to provide services, such as the use of inns, ale houses and gold and silver thread.[35] The Statute of Monopolies of 1623 curtailed some of these abuses by stating that the Crown could only issue letters patent (a.k.a. monopolies) to the inventors or introducers of original inventions for a fixed number of years,[36] but the system was still far from without its flaws.

The most significant monopoly granted by the Crown from an intellectual property standpoint was the one given to the Stationers Company. In 1557, the Stationers were given a monopoly over printing in all of England. The Stationers Company was not a “company” so much as a guild. There was no stock to be owned. There were only positions of power to be attained within the guild. The guild was comprised primarily of bookbinders, booksellers, and printers,[37] although text writers and lymners (or illustrators) also played a role.[38]

At the head of the Stationers Company was the master, the principal officer. Below him were the upper and under warden. The master and wardens were given plenary powers of search at any time “in any place, shop, house, chamber, or building of any printer, binder or bookseller whatever […] for any books or things printed, or to be printed, and to seize, take, hold, burn, or turn to the proper use of the foresaid community.”[39] The master and upper and lower wardens were elected from the “Court of Assistants” and held their positions for a year.

The Court of Assistants was the real seat of power. They arbitrated disputes, collected dues, and decided admittance into the Company. They were supposed to be elected from the general body of the Company, which included apprentices and yeomanry, for a limited term, but in 1557, the year the Stationers were granted their monopoly, nine of the most senior members of the Company formed a court of eighteen assistants. They took control and membership in the court became for life unless the member was formally dismissed or retired.[40]

Although censorship may not have benefited the printing industry as a whole, it was clearly a motivation for Queen Mary in issuing the Stationers a monopoly. According to Lyman Patterson, “The charter itself, however, is dominated by the idea of suppressing prohibited books, and Mary’s motive in granting it, whatever the source of the initiative involved, was to obtain an effective agency for censorship.”[41] The Stationers became a de facto police squad.

The penalties for violating censorship rules were harsh. If someone was found importing a book from overseas, they could lose all their possessions and be put in prison. No book could be printed without examination by the Privy Council. No book of scripture could be printed without examination by the King, one member of the Privy Council, or a bishop. “If a person other than an allowed printer set up or worked at any press, he was to be set in the pillory, whipped through London, and suffer any other punishment deemed proper.”[42]

Despite all this, there was still a sizeable black market for books. “Only between sixty and seventy percent of London-printed books were regularly entered in the registers, and the proportion of printed books entered fluctuated violently from year to year.”[43] Even with the threat of public whipping, imprisonment, and the taking all of one’s possessions, a black market still arose to meet a demand. Some things never change.
As a British colony, America abided by the same intellectual property laws as Britain. There was no Stationers Company, but books did have to be licensed. There also was an “informal cartel” of publishers who colluded “to keep prices artificially high.”[44]

After the revolution, America continued to follow British intellectual property law closely. America copied much of Britain’s intellectual property law verbatim, and even used the same time limits for intellectual property protection. (Luckily, Britain didn’t sue for copyright infringement.) In fact, America followed British intellectual property law so closely that a misreading of British law led America to legalize the pirating of foreign books. The original British law had forbid “the importation, vending, or selling” of books in a foreign language printed beyond the sea; it didn’t legalize piracy.[45] America’s law was a constant thorn in the side of British authors, such as Dickens, who thought they were losing a fortune in America through piracy.[46]

As time went on, intellectual property law began to grow in importance in America. From 1860 to 1890, over 500,000 patents were issued for new inventions, ten times the number in the previous seventy years.[47] By 1904, more than two hundred copyright bills had been introduced into Congress.[48] Yet even with this growth, a popular movement never gathered enough steam to move intellectual property law from its foundation. Despite some minor disturbances, intellectual property law continued to grow into the monstrosity it is today.

Like with any good story (one that is not a tragedy anyway), there have been a few glimmers of hope. The first came in the rulings of Judge Learned Hand when he defined the concept the “web of expression.” The second came when Congress amended the Copyright Act in 1909 to allow for compulsory licenses in the music industry. When these two concepts are combined, I believe they lay the groundwork for where intellectual property law needs to go.

As Siva Vaidhyanathan writes, “No jurist or legal scholar has had a greater effect on the business and content of American culture than Judge Learned Hand. For most of his career, Hand served on the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City. A student of William James and George Santayana at Harvard, Hand was passionate about matters of freedom, creativity, and intellectual progress. […] Hand played a part in most of the major copyright decisions of the day.”[49]

Hand thought that the plot of a story itself could not be copyrighted, but that the “value added” to it could. Hand’s central point was that when judging the extent of infringement between works that tell similar stories, one must distill the “very web of the author’s dramatic expression.” This “web” he defines as “the sequence of the confluents of all these means (plot, character, means of revelation, setting, themes), bound together in an inseparable unity.”[50]

Hand broke down the whole down to its parts to help see what was original and what was not. This is exactly what needs to be done in all intellectual property cases. As Mark Twain said, “As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written except plagiarism. […] [S]ubstantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources.”[51] We all are dependent upon past ideas for present ones. The question is how much. Hand’s framework helps guide us for making those decisions.

It’s been shown that Steamboat Mickey, the first Mickey Mouse film, relied heavily on Steamboat Bill, Jr., a film by Buster Keaton, who was enormously popular at the time.[52] Did Walt Disney rely exclusively on Keaton’s material? No. Should we barred from seeing Walt Disney’s film because he relied on Keaton’s material? No. But we could have been. That is the situation we are currently in. We are in an “all or nothing” scenario: a judgment of guilty means a work that is “too” derivative and cannot be seen or profited from. A judgment of not guilty means it can. We need to move to a system where both the original creator and “second user” are compensated according to what they each contribute to a derivative work.

The second glimmer of hope was Congress’s amendment to the Copyright Act in 1909 to allow for compulsory licenses in the music industry. This was strictly to allow greater freedom of expression in the music industry. As Lawrence Lessig writes, “Congress was quite explicit about its reasons for granting this right. Its fear was the monopoly power of rights holders, and that that power would stifle follow-on creativity.”[53] It has worked. The music industry allows far greater rights to “second comers” than any other artistic field.

If a person wants to create a derivative work from a book, he or she must get permission from the original author. The original author may allow for derivative works to be created, but may require the “second comer” to sign over any profits, as is the case with the Star Wars franchise.[54] The only problem with the compulsory licensing in the music industry is that is that Congress determines the rate instead of letting individuals try to determine it first.[55] The author of a song may want to license a song to a celebrity at a lower rate, because the author might feel the celebrity may make them more money in the long run than the typical recording artist. The original author simply does not have the freedom to do that.

Why should compulsory licensing be good for the music industry and not good for every other field? Clearly, it shouldn’t. All genres of art and all scientific creations would benefit from compulsory licensing. An active “second user” culture can also lead to an even greater appreciation of the original product. In Japan, there is something called doujinshi, which is “second user” manga. There are over 33,000 “circles” of doujinshi creators across Japan. Two times a year more than 450,000 Japanese gather to exchange and sell doujinshi. According to Lessig, “[I]n the view of many, it is precisely because [doujinshi] exists that Japanese manga flourishes.”[56]

Some people may see a problem with compulsory licensing. They may ask, “If a person is able to use intellectual property at will, what is to keep that person from modifying an original creation just a slight bit and selling at a severely reduced price, thereby undercutting the competition?”

There is a solution to this. The “second user” is able to change the price only in accordance with how much they contributed to the derivative product. Let’s say either the originator and “second user” agree, or a judge decides, that a “second user” contributed 10% to the derivative product. Let’s say the “second user” contributed a new drum track to a song. If the original song was being sold for $5, then the “second user” would have the right to sell the derivative version for anywhere between $5 plus or minus 10% (i.e. $4.50 to $5.50.) 90% of the revenue generated from the derivative product would still have to go to whoever owned the rights to the original product.

Another objection someone may bring up is, “What if it is not in a company’s interest to release a piece of technology? Like let’s say something crazy happened, like Chevron owned the patent on the battery for the electric car.[57] What is to keep them from pricing a product so high it effectively removes the product from market?”

The government may be forced to have them re-price it. This can be done within limits. In the scenario painted, the intellectual property owner is pricing their product so high that if they decrease the price, they would actually make more. Because at a lower price, the owner would sell a higher quantity. The government could mandate the owner lower the price until the point when he or she stopped making more money through increased quantity sold. That is point is where the company is making the maximum amount of profit for that product.

I do not see a better scenario than this. We are being forced to either allow the domination of society by one individual, or the domination of the right to price this product by society. The rights of society must be respected too. This is not historically unprecedented. Before the ratification of the US Constitution, five of the original thirteen states, Connecticut, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and New York, all contained intellectual property-related price-control provisions in their state constitutions.[58] If the original party loses money by lowering the price, the party who initiated the suit could be liable for the losses.

Once this price is set, individuals or companies could license the intellectual property in its entirety. This would allow for competition based on production quality and customer service. If a company is able to charge more for an product based on superior brand recognition and/or customer service, that company should be able to keep whatever they earn beyond the price set by the original company.

I believe these provisions eliminate the need for time limits on copyright and patent protection. Time limits seem to be built upon the belief that intellectual property law causes prices to be higher and for there to be less competition than there should be. My suggestions, however, eliminate these concerns. Why, after all, after a certain point should a publishing house profit from an author’s work rather than the author’s estate, or to whomever the author ascribed the rights of his or her work?

We need to change to a compulsory licensing system and eliminate the Patent Office. Current intellectual property law and bureaucracy leaves us as peasants, looking up at the one dome being built in the city. Intellectual property law that has been reformed under the guidelines I have outlined will unleash the creativity of human spirit, and help fill the skyline with as many domes as we desire.

Notes

1. Stephen Hansen, Amanda Brewster, Jana Asher, Michael Kisielewski, The Effects of Patenting in the AAAS Scientific Community, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2006

2. Matrixware, Patent Wars, 2006.

3. Sherry Main, “Study finds patents may discourage innovation,” Physorg.com, July 27, 2009.

4. Henry Fountain, “Google’s Internet Techniques Inspire Studies of Food Webs,” New York Times, September 4th, 2009.

5. Christopher Leonard, “Monsanto Squeezes Out Seed Business Competition,” AP, December 13th, 2009.

6. Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine, Against Intellectual Monopoly, (Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 86.

7. Siva Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity, (New York University Press, 2001), p. 88.

8. Bedini, “Man of Science,” Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, (Scribner’s Sons, 1986), p. 269.

9. Randy Alfred, “May 5, 1809: Hats Off to First U.S. Woman Patent-Holder,” Wired, May 5th, 2009

10. Tom Kivett, “American Companies Capture Less than Majority of 2009 U.S. Patent Pool,” IFI Patent Intelligence press release, January 12th, 2010.

11. “General Information Concerning Patents,” United States Patent and Trademark Office, January, 2005.

12. Lanham Trademark Act 15, USC, §§1147-27.

13. John Shmid and Ben Poston, “Patent backlog clogs recovery,” Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, August 15th, 2009.

14. Ibid.

15. Sylvia Hsieh, “More patent cases are being taken on contingency fee basis,” Lawyers USA, August 14, 2006.

16. Dan Horn, “Patent Litigation Lucrative, on Rise,” Cincinnati.com, July 26, 2009. This puts the total number of patent infringement lawsuits at 2600. 2600 * $3M = $7.8B. Since this is the cost for each side, the total cost is $15.6B. This does not even account for litigation costs in copyright, trademark, and trade secret cases. For instance, the Recording Industry of America filed 5,460 lawsuits in 2004 alone (“RIAA v. the People: Five Years Later,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, September, 2008.), meaning the total cost of litigation could be much higher.

17. “How much does a patent cost?”, Inventionstatistics.com.

18. Tom Kivett, “American Companies Capture Less than Majority of 2009 U.S. Patent Pool,” IFI Patent Intelligence press release, January 12th, 2010. This states that US corporations received 49% of all utility patents issued, meaning foreign corporations received 51%. The total number of patent applications for 2009 was 457, 966. 457,966 * .49 * $10,000 = $2.2B. 457,966 * .51 * $100,000 = $23.6B. $2.2B + $23.6B = $25.8B. Again, this doesn’t account for copyright, trademark, or business secret. As a side note, the total patent numbers come from private sources and have not come from the US Patent and Trademark Office since 2006, because they found that “too many people were focusing on patent quantity and not patent quality.” (Timothy Pricket Morgan, “Big Blue Tops US Patent Grubber List,” The Register, January 19, 2009.) Isn’t that nice of them?

19. Barack Obama, “Forum on Modernizing Government,” White House, January 14, 2010.

20. Vaidhyanathan, p. 54.

21. Adrian Johns, Piracy. The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates, (University of Chicago Press, 2009), p. 254.

22. Makan Delrahim, “Forcing Firms to Share the Sandbox: Compulsory Licensing of Intellectual Property Rights and Antitrust,” Department of Justice, May 2004. (Don’t you love the infantilizing of intellectual property holders by the Justice Department?)

23. Ibid.

24. “Ohio Steel Company Agrees to License Patents in Order to Resolve Justice Department’s Antitrust Concerns,” Department of Justice press release, August 26, 1999. This is true fascism. The government is concerned with picking winners and losers, not with simply allowing the licensing to be open to the whole market.

25. Dumas Malone, Jefferson, (Little, Brown & Co., 1948-81. 6 vols.), vol. 2, p. 285.

26. Zusha Elinson, “Surprises Found in Data on IP Suits,” Law.com, December 10, 2008.

27. Stephan Kinsella, “Against Intellectual Property,” Journal of Libertarian Studies 15, no. 2, (Spring 2001).

28. Nate Anderson, “Secret ACTA Treaty Can’t Be Shown to Public, Just 42 Lawyers,” Arstechnica.com, October 15, 2009.

29. Charles Arthur, “Internet Provider Defies Internet Bill,” The Guardian, April 8, 2010.

30. Don Martin, “Conservatives to Unveil National Securities Watchdog: Sources,” National Post, May 19, 2010.

31. Christine MacLeod, Inventing the Industrial Revolution: The English Patent System, 1660-1800, (Cambridge University Press, 2002),

32. Maricia Tacconi, Cathedral and Civic Ritual in Late Medieval and Renaissance Florence, (Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 2.

33. Vivek Tawari, “Which Was the First Patent Ever to Be Granted?,” Times of India, August 7, 2004.

34. “History of Patent Law,” Wikipedia.

35. “Monopolies and Corruption: The 1621 Parliament,” Earlystewartlibels.net.

36. Brad Sherman and Lionel Bently, The Making of Modern Intellectual Property Law: The British Experience, 1760 – 1911, (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 207.

37. Lyman Ray Patterson, Copyright in Historical Perspective, (Vanderbilt University Press, 1968), p. 35.

38. Ibid., p. 29.

39. Ibid., p. 29.

40. Ibid., p. 33.

41. Ibid., p. 29.

42. Ibid., p. 124.

43. Ibid., p. 63.

44. Vaidhyanathan, p. 38.

45. Patterson, p. 199.

46. Vaidhyanathan, p. 51.

47. “Second Industrial Revolution,” Wikipedia.com.

48. Patterson, p. 213.

49. Vaidhyanathan, p. 105.

50. Ibid, p. 109.

51. Albert Bigelow Paine, ed., Mark Twain’s Letters, (Harper & Brothers, 1917), p. 731.

52. Lawrence Lessig, “Examining the Remix,” Ted.com, April, 2010.

53. Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity, (Penguin, 2004), p. 57.

54. Lawrence Lessig, “Examining the Remix,” Ted.com, April, 2010.

55. Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity, (Penguin, 2004), p. 57.

56. Ibid., p. 26.

57. I like irony.

58. Patterson, p. 189.

VIDEO: BP’s Well From Hell

June 29th, 2010 by Adrian Salbuchi

Part 2

The following short text is by Paul Manly, the film maker (You, me and the SPP) who personally exposed the presence of police agent provocateurs at the summit in Montebello, Quebec, in 2007, see

 

The first clip is therefore particularly significant as it shows, again, that the Black Bloc, so-called, was part of the overall plan to justify extreme violence against citizen activists who attempted to express their views in non-violent ways, or anyone who appeared to be an activist to the not-so-discriminating eye of the country’s police force operating with might-makes-right powers in Toronto. The Black Bloc was allowed to rampage for an hour and a half, without any police intervention, and the question now remains WHY?

Yesterday in Toronto, I attended a demonstration in front of the main police station on College Street, called in solidarity with those arrested and still imprisoned without any due process yet in sight. (Families STILL have not been able to connect with those arrested and are waiting in special court for their appearance as the only way to make contact, yesterday they waited all day and no one was processed, according to today’s Globe. ) Police were crawling all around the College-Yonge Street area, including inside the subway, leaning against the walls, chatting with eachother, stretching their muscles — prepared to do what?

What is absolutely required now is a public inquiry into the police violence in Toronto during the G20 gathering. The police chief, Bill Blair, must resign for out and out of incompetence and for using illegal methods which endangered public safety and violated the civil liberties of a huge number of people.

I’m deeply troubled by this manifestation of ordinary, everyday fascism, in the form of a police state in action, supported by all levels of government.

Marjaleena Repo

Here are some alternative perspectives on what happened at the G20 protests in Toronto. Please feel free to circulate and post.

First my interview with a photo journalist who followed the black block for 1.5 hours and 24 blocks without any police interference until they reached the official designated protest site, got out of their black clothes, dispersed through the crowd and left the scene. Then the police brutally attacked peaceful protesters in the designated protest zone with batons and pepper spray.                         
G20 Toronto Black Block get green light to rampage?    



Full video of police charging on protesters as they finished singing the national anthem

Peaceful G20 protest at Queen & Spadina from Meghann Millard on Vimeo.

How respectful – they waited until the anthem was over and then charged!

Amy Miller – Alternative Media Centre, Independent Journalist     

Amy Miller – Alternative Media Centre, Independent Journalist from Darren Puscas on Vimeo.

Describes her arrest and detainment at Toronto Film Studio makeshift prison including strip searches and threats or rape.

The peaceful protest courtesy  Alex Lisman. This is the story the media hasn’t covered.
  

More of the peaceful protest where I followed Dave Coles from the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union. 


Amnesty International is calling for an inquiry and so are some folks on facebook

Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20 on Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=135629036463012

During the 12 days I was in Toronto I witnessed the police overreact and provoke innocent people. The first person I videotaped being arrested was charged and detained for 3 hours on Monday June 21 for possession of break and enter tools – the break and enter tool was the key to her workplace! The police didn’t listen to her and only released her after finally calling her employer. She asked me not to post the video.

I have lots of footage of police searching people on the street and as they try to enter parks in the vicinity of protests. I have footage of journalists and innocent bystanders being attacked and I have footage of the Council of Canadians and the canoe flotilla as they tried to paddle to Deerhurst resort. We had five police boats, two helicopters and RCMP zodiacs at ready to stop four canoes! Security indeed!

I also have great footage of events and speakers at the Peoples Summit Launch and the Shout Out for Global Justice and interviews with people on the streets explaining why they and all of us should be opposed to the agenda of the G20. I will be posting lots of this content on the Canadians Nanaimo youtube site as well as packaging programming for the Smart Change Cable Access Coalition project. 

[email protected]
www.manlymedia.com
www.smartchange.ca
http://www.youtube.com/user/CanadiansNanaimo

TORONTO, – Nearly 600 people were arrested as global leaders and elites met behind a fortified perimetre during the G8 and G20 Summits in Huntsville and Toronto this weekend.

The tension was palpable on the subway as the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) announced that under a “police directive” all routes in and out of the downtown core would be suspended midday Saturday.

Several blocks north of the protests that were the assumed cause of the transit shutdown, IPS observed a police officer conducting random searches of pedestrians. Asked why he was doing so, the officer, who refused to identify himself, replied, “Do you want to be responsible for a terrorist attack?”

The officer stated that the transit system was shut down due to a “terrorist threat” posed by anarchists, that a cache of Molotov cocktails had been discovered, and that the crude weapons were “all over the city”.

A spokesperson for the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit later contradicted the police officer, stating in a phone interview, “There’s no terrorist threat.” The spokesperson would not clarify the reasons for the transit closure saying only that it was due to a “security precaution” and that it was “just part of the [security] process”.

The stealthy side of this process revealed itself on Thursday, when police arrested an individual under the ‘Public Works Act’, a provision passed in secret by Ontario cabinet officials earlier this month that allowed police to question, search and potentially detain anyone within five metres of the G20 security fence.

In the weeks months leading up to the summit, protesters were under surveillance by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS). One of those protesters targeted by CSIS, Stefan Christoff, called this part of a broader “chill effect” and “culture of fear” that the security forces were allegedly seeking to foster in advance of the largest, most expensive, and most heavily secured meeting of global leaders in history.

Arbitrary and sometimes preemptive arrests became the norm as the weekend progressed, drawing denunciations from several prominent human rights organisations. Amnesty International decried the “curtailment of civil liberties” that accompanied “high fences, new weaponry, massive surveillance, and the intimidating impact of the overwhelming police presence”.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, some of whose members were swept up in the arrests, decried police tactics, and expressed concern about the conditions of those being detained. “It would appear that the presumption of innocence has been suspended during the G20,” they said in a statement.

On Saturday, following a peaceful march of between 10,000 and 25,000 demonstrators, hundreds of Black bloc protesters wove their way through the streets, breaking windows of banks and other symbols of corporate power, torched police cars that police abandoned, and chanted anti-establishment slogans.

Decried as “thugs that prompted violence” by a spokesperson for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the organisation No One is Illegal defended the protesters, stating that they were symbolically targeting global capitalism, and were merely “engaging in corporate property destruction”.

While security forces did not step in to stop the bloc protesters, late on Saturday night, approximately 150 peaceful protesters were placed in detention after staging a sit-in.

On Sunday morning, supporters of the hundreds detained at a makeshift detention facility on Toronto’s eastside rallied for their release. They were met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and more arrests. At the time of press, upwards of 600 mostly peaceful protesters had been detained, including several journalists.

A ‘Movement Defence Committee’ emerged by Sunday night, calling on supporters to ‘Free the Toronto 500′, and to “mobilise a show of political strength and solidarity for the nearly 500 people arrested in the last four days”.

The final communiques of the G8 and G20 did little to assuage the central grievances that were expressed before the events during the ‘People’s Summit’ held by activists Jun. 18-20, or in the many peaceful demonstrations held prior to and during the summits.

The major issues being protested – lack of commitment regarding climate change and clean energy, the mounting concerns regarding the development of the Albertan tar sands, ongoing wars and foreign occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the imposition of fiscal austerity measures on member states despite continuing fallout from the global economic crisis which began in 2008 – were not resolved.

And perhaps the core concern – that a select, if somewhat broadened, group of elites are making decisions that concern all peoples around the globe largely in secret – appeared to be flaunted by members of the corporate elite, dubbed the ‘B20′ (Business 20), who were on hand.

During the summit, several dozen of the globe’s most powerful CEOs were given exclusive, off-the-record meetings with the G20′s finance ministers and Prime Minister Harper.

The G20 includes the “world’s most industrialised nations” (which also comprise the G8): Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and the United States.

Its other members are Australia, Mexico, Turkey and South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, plus the 27-member European Union.

In concert with the eventual announcement by the G20 that they would seek to halve deficits by 2013 (with the exception of Japan), one business leader projected, “Stimulus is winding down and the private sector is going to have to come in and pick up the slack.”

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty praised the corporate leaders, saying “The advice we get from you is invaluable in terms of our deliberations and the deliberations of our leaders.”

Offering an indication of the B20′s influence, South Korean Finance Minister Jeung-Hyun Yoon told Toronto’s Globe and Mail, “I sincerely hope the business summit can serve as a platform for public-private collaboration and the starting point of the new normal in the global economic architecture.”

As the effects of the latest policy pronouncements begin to be felt, many fear that Toronto will become known as the staging ground for the security model that will be deployed to protect this new architecture.

When it was confirmed last winter by then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair that the Obama administration had authorized the assassination of American citizens working with terrorist groups overseas, it appeared that no more than three Americans were being targeted in this manner.

In an interview last week with the Washington Times, however, Deputy White House National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John O. Brennan suggested that the number might actually amount to “dozens.”

“There are, in my mind, dozens of U.S. persons who are in different parts of the world, and they are very concerning to us,” Brennan stated, “not just because of the passport they hold, but because they understand our operational environment here, they bring with them certain skills, whether it be language skills or familiarity with potential targets, and they are very worrisome, and we are determined to take away their ability to assist with terrorist attacks,”

“If an American person or citizen is in a Yemen or in a Pakistan or in Somalia or another place, and they are trying to carry out attacks against U.S. interests, they also will face the full brunt of a U.S. response,” Brennan continued. “What we need to do is to apply the appropriate tool and the appropriate response.”

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald quickly seized upon Brennan’s remarks as a fresh example of the extension of unrestrained presidential powers. “I’ve written at length about the reasons why targeting American citizens for assassination who are far away from a ‘battlefield’ is so odious and tyrannical, and I won’t repeat those arguments here,” Greenwald wrote. “Suffice to say — and I’m asking this literally — if you’re someone who believes, or are at least willing to acquiesce to the claim, that the U.S. President has the power to target your fellow citizens for assassination without a whiff of due process, what unchecked presidential powers wouldn’t you support or acquiesce to?”

As an expert in constitutional law, Greenwald’s primary concern is with the implications of this policy for civil liberties and the potential circumvention of constitutional restraints on government action. What may be even more troubling, however, is the extent to which Brennan’s remarks reflect an expansion of US military activity into new areas of the globe, such as Yemen and Somalia.

Last month, the New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti reported on a secret directive signed in September by General David Petraeus that “ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region.”

According to Mazzetti, the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order “authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. … While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term.”

Mazetti also suggested that this order was behind the “surge of American military activity in Yemen that began three months later.” That surge was the subject of the article by Dana Priest in the Washington Post last February which first revealed that American citizens had been targeted for assassination and which prompted the Blair confirmation.

“The operations, approved by President Obama and begun six weeks ago, involve several dozen troops from the U.S. military’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose main mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists,” Priest wrote. “The American advisers do not take part in raids in Yemen, but help plan missions.”

“As part of the operations,” Priest continued, “Obama approved a Dec. 24 strike against a compound where a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was thought to be meeting with other regional al-Qaeda leaders. Although he was not the focus of the strike and was not killed, he has since been added to a shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing or capture by the JSOC.”

Priest’s story also included the intriguing note that “a steady stream of high-ranking officials has visited [Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah} Saleh, including the rarely seen JSOC commander, Vice Adm. William H. McRaven; White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan; and Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command.”

The Joint Special Operations Command has been at the center of most of the recent stories about United States assassination efforts. In March 2009, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh described JSOC as “a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. … They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. … Congress has no oversight of it.”

A few months later, when it was reported that General Stanley McChrystal would be taking over command of US forces in Afghanistan, journalist Gareth Porter noted that McChrystal had been commander of JSOC from April 2003 to August 2008 and commented that his “long specialisation in counter-terrorism operations suggests an officer who is likely to have more interest in targeted killings than in the kind of politically sensitive counterinsurgency programmes that the Obama administration has said it intends to carry out.”

“In 2005, JSOC’s parent command, the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), was directed by Rumsfeld to ‘plan, synchronize and, as directed, conduct global operations against terrorist networks in coordination with other combatant commanders’, Porter wrote. “That directive has generally been regarded as granting SOCOM the authority to carry out actions unilaterally anywhere on the globe.”

McChrystal has now lost his Afghanistan command, but the other architects of this globalization policy for special ops — Brennan, Petraeus, and McRaven remain firmly in place. As a result, it appears that the authorization for target assassinations of American citizens will prove to be only one of many potential extensions of covert US military power.

This video is from the Washington Times, June 24, 2010.

Economic Crisis: The Next Round of Financial Slaughter

June 29th, 2010 by Matthias Chang

In a November 2009 article, I forecasted that at the earliest, by the first quarter and the latest by the second quarter of 2010, the global economy would unravel.

Since the second quarter of 2009 and more so in the first quarter of 2010, the Obama administration, the G8, the international mass media, the IMF and the World Bank, all sang the chorus that the global economy is on “the road to recovery” and “the worst is behind us”.

While, the Dow (DJIA) “recovered” from the March lows of 2009 and shot above the 10,000 mark, all major markets were manipulated to give the illusion of recovery. The gullible took it all – hook, line and sinker.

But let me share some common sense logic.

When the so-called economists and financial analysts were trumpeting that there was a global recovery, did you consider what that means in real terms?

If there is an economic recovery, common sense tells us that productive entities, namely companies and national economies must be making money –i.e. firms are making profits and countries are improving their export performance. 

And more importantly, if the so-called recovery is a sustainable recovery with economic growth, subsequent policies would no doubt reflect that optimism.

In essence, theory must jive with practice and/or reality.

But, what did we observe? What were the global central banks doing?

1.    They deliberately kept interest rates low (in the case of the Federal Reserve, at almost zero rates), serving the interests of the Shadow banking system.  I will explain later this sinister policy and what it means for common folks.

2.    They continued their policy of “Quantitative Easing” –i.e. creating money out of thin air to maintain the debt / slavery cycle.

3.    Knowing that the crisis has not abated and fearing the worst, they began an intense currency warfare i.e. Dollar v Euro, Dollar v Yuan, Dollar v Yen and so forth. This resulted in competitive devaluations of currencies.

What was the reality on the ground, namely the real economy?

1.    corporate profits were weak.

2.    Unemployment numbers continued to climb.

3.    Foreclosures increased.

4.    Taxes are set to increase.

5.    Severe cut backs of all major categories of public expenditure have occurred in major national economies.

6.    There have been renewed calls for another massive “stimulus”.

7.    The G20 was convened in another attempt to sort out the economic mess.

This is the harsh reality of the G-20 Summit.

The outcome is another charade, no different from the previous summit. It is abundantly clear that each summit participant has signalled that self-interest comes first and no one can be in any position to help another given the out of control sovereign debts that have swarmed the developed economies.

There are now two competing schools of thought as to how best to address this financial cancer that has spread to every major organ of the global financial body, namely:

(1) Continue with the massive stimulus and more borrowings at all levels, and

(2) Adopt severe austerity measures to reduce deficits and borrowings.

The solution put forward is not unlike tossing a coin – either head or tail, but these so-called economists and experts forget that they are both sides of the same coin. Whatever may be the preferred solution, the end result will be a vicious cycle of delayed boom and bust, but this time more severe than the bust of 2008.

Why is this so?

Let us just examine one critical factor of the global economy, specifically the issue of interest rates.

It is a wonder why until now there has been no violent revolution and/or social unrest throughout the developed world. And the people of the developed world are deemed to be educated and sophisticated “investors” with access to modern technology and savvy financial newspapers.

Should public opinion not be angry that:

1. Too Big to Fail Banks can borrow billions at zero rate interest and then lend them out, reaping huge profits.

Why can’t anyone see that no interest payable means no costs of borrowing the billions from the central bank (Fed, ECB, etc). It is a no brainer to see how these banks can make so much money. If you have no costs, everything else is super profits. And that is why these corrupt banks have all declared record profits, more profits than they have ever earned before 2008. This is because before 2008, these banks had to pay interest to the Fed or to banks in the inter-bank market.

These financial manipulators are the only economic / financial entities in the world that need not pay interests on their borrowings.

Meanwhile, ordinary people have to continue paying mortgage payments for a house that is not even worth 50% of its mortgage value.

So why has the public not taken action against the central banks (including the Federal Reserve), the fat cats on Wall Street and the politicians?

2.  The rest of the world must incur a huge burden of financial cost in the form and shape of interest to start any worthwhile business. And the profit margins are so small, that it is a wonder that profits can be made at all in some cases.

3. Hardworking people are lured into the global casino with the illusion that they can make more money there than sweating in honest labour in a shop, factory or whatever. The mantra, “invest for the long run” is drummed into Joe’s head and he is brainwashed. He needs to leverage to make the big bucks, the big score.

4. When these financial manipulators get this kind of handout, what do the smart guys at the Fed and the politicians call it?

I call it handouts, under the table money, SUBSIDY! And the amount is in the Trillions.

5.  Now there is a clamour for an austerity drive. The corrupt governments the world over demand that spending for social security, social services, pensions, public housing, medical care etc. must be cut drastically; subsidies must be slashed as there is not enough in the national coffers to pay for these gigantic expenditures. This is a nonsensical argument.

Ordinary people must bear the burden, while the banksters can continue to enjoy the biggest subsidy ever paid in history to a social minority.

6. “The government is broke”, the paid scribes never cease to proclaim. But they can afford to lavish trillions worth of subsidies to the fat cats of Wall Street and the Too Big to Fail Global Banks and the Shadow Money-lenders. They create money out of thin air and lend at zero interest rates to them. But for you, the government says that they have to borrow to finance social security, medical care etc. and since they have no money, they have to raise taxes.  Why can’t the government create money out of thin air and lend you at zero interest rate just as they are doing for the fat cats?

So why has the public not reacted? 

I need not go further to explain whether the so-called economists and experts are right in adopting one or the other solution referred to in the preceding paragraphs.

The answer is staring at your face.

Do something about it. Stop whining and moaning!

Organise and stop this global robbery, the largest ever transfer of wealth from the many to the minute few in history.

Let me assure you that if all the global Too Big to Fail banks were to collapse and go into bankruptcy, the world’s economy would not collapse.

To avert such a collapse, all the people need to do is to take absolute control of their respective Central Banks away from the hands of the so-called “independent board of directors / governors” and transform the way central banks are managed.

It is a lie that markets control interest rates (and for that matter the value of a nation’s currency). It is the global central banks in connivance with the Shadow Money-lenders, hedge funds etc. that control rates through pre-arranged parameters. It is and always has been an insider’s game.

Until this is done, all talk of financial reforms is just that – cheap talk. Control of the central banks is the crux of the matter.

Did not the Founder of the Rothschild financial empire say that whosoever controls the power to create money will have the ultimate power to control all and sundry?

So who should have the ultimate power to control the creation of money: the common people or the carefully selected financial elites, the fat cats etc.?  

KABUL—More than $3 billion in cash has been openly flown out of Kabul International Airport in the past three years, a sum so large that U.S. investigators believe top Afghan officials and their associates are sending billions of diverted U.S. aid and logistics dollars and drug money to financial safe havens abroad.

The cash—packed into suitcases, piled onto pallets and loaded into airplanes—is declared and legal to move. But U.S. and Afghan officials say they are targeting the flows in major anticorruption and drug trafficking investigations because of their size relative to Afghanistan’s small economy and the murkiness of their origins.

Officials believe some of the cash, if not most, is siphoned from Western aid projects and U.S., European and NATO contracts to provide security, supplies and reconstruction work for coalition forces in Afghanistan. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization spent about $14 billion here last year alone. Profits reaped from the opium trade are also a part of the money flow, as is cash earned by the Taliban from drugs and extortion, officials say.

The amount declared as it leaves the airport is vast in a nation where the gross domestic product last year totaled $13.5 billion. More declared cash flies out of Kabul each year than the Afghan government collects in tax and customs revenue nationwide. “It’s not like they grow money on trees here,” said a U.S. official investigating corruption and Taliban financing. “A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen. And opium, of course.”

Most of the funds passing through the airport are being moved by often-secretive outfits called “hawalas,” private money transfer businesses with roots in the Muslim world stretching back centuries, officials say.

The officials believe hawala customers who have sent millions of dollars of their money abroad include high-ranking officials and their associates in President Hamid Karzai’s administration, including Vice President Mohammed Fahim, and one of the president’s brothers, Mahmood Karzai, an influential businessmen.

Where they allegedly get the money is one of the questions under investigation.

Vice President Fahim, responded through his brother, A.H. Fahim, a businessman, who denied the allegations. “My brother? He doesn’t know anything about money,” Mr. Fahim said.

Mahmood Karzai said in an interview he has engaged in only legitimate businesses and has never transferred large sums of cash from the country.

In a Jan. 22 financial disclosure form that he gave the Wall Street Journal to review, Mr. Karzai declared his net worth was $12,157,491 with assets of $21,163,347 and liabilities of $9,006,106. He reported an annual income of just over $400,000 but didn’t provide dates.

Mahmood Karzai, an American citizen, blamed the allegations that he was transferring illicitly earned cash from Afghanistan on political opponents.

“Yes, millions of dollars are leaving this country but it is all taken by politicians. Bribes, corruption, all of it,” he said. “But let’s find out who is taking it. Let’s not go on rumors. I’ve said this to the Americans.”

President Karzai addressed the matter at a news conference Saturday, calling for greater scrutiny of business run by relatives of officials.

“Making money is fine and taking money out of the country is fine,” he said. “The relatives of government officials can do this, starting with my brothers. But there’s a possibility of corruption,” he said without being specific.

Between the beginning of 2007 and February of this year, at least $3.18 billion left through the airport, according to Afghan customs records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

U.S. officials say the sum of declared money may actually be higher: One courier alone carried $2.3 billion between the second half of 2008 and the end of 2009, said a senior U.S. official, citing other documents that are in the possession of investigators.

The officer said officials believe the money was declared, and that Afghan customs records may not be complete.

In their declarations, couriers must record their own names and the origins of the money they are transporting. Instead, they usually record the name of the Afghan hawala that is making the transfer and the one in Dubai that is accepting the cash. Often, the actual sender of the money isn’t named, officials said.

“We do not even know about it. We don’t know whose it is, why it is leaving, or where it is going,” Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal said at a December conference about the money leaving the airport.

The capital flight has continued apace in 2010. In the week ending May 29, more than $20 million, about half of it in U.S. currency, left the airport, according to a senior Afghan customs official. Apart from U.S. dollars, the currencies being flown out range from Saudi riyals and Pakistani rupees to Norwegian kroners and even outdated Deutsche marks now redeemable for euros.

“You get boxes loaded on the back of airplanes. You get guys, literally, bringing boxes of cash onto the plane,” said the senior U.S. official.

The declared cash is believed to represent only “a small percentage” of the money moving out of the airport and all of Afghanistan, said Gen. M. Asif Jabar Khail, the chief customs officer at Kabul’s airport.

Hundreds of millions of undeclared dollars, maybe billions, are being carried across Afghanistan’s porous border with Iran and Pakistan, where a number of Afghan hawalas have branches, he said.

One figure often cited by Afghan and Western officials is $10 million a day leaving Afghanistan. That is $3.65 billion a year, more than a quarter of the current GDP.

Officials can’t say how much money is coming into Afghanistan; that isn’t tracked by Afghan authorities.

Afghanistan’s endemic corruption and the suspected involvement of high-ranking officials in the opium trade has left the government deeply unpopular and fueled support for the Taliban, undercutting a war effort that is now focused on convincing Afghans to support their own state and turn away from the insurgents.

U.S. officials are also trying to disrupt the flow of money to the Taliban.

The insurgency is believed to earn a sizable portion of its operating expenses from extortion and the opium trade, funds that can easily be moved abroad to avoid detection or seizure.

But anticorruption efforts have increasingly taken center stage for the U.S. and its Western allies.

Restoring the credibility of the Afghan government is a central tenet in the American counter-insurgency strategy. Combating corruption by the government is now as important a priority as actually fighting insurgents. The investigations into the money flow are part of the shift in focus.

The U.S.-led initiatives carry significant risks: many of those believed by U.S. officials to be involved in shipping money out of the country are key Afghan power brokers who are important allies in the fight against the Taliban.

Balancing demands to clean up the government with the need to keep them on the same side will not be easy, especially after so many years of Western officials effectively turning a blind eye to allegations of wrongdoing by their Afghan allies, U.S. officials say.

Gen. David Petraeus, who is to take over shortly as top U.S. commander in Afghanistan from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, faces the added burden of getting to know many of the main players in the country at the same time that officials under his command are investigating some of them and their associates.

The formal banking system here is in its infancy, and hawalas form the backbone of the financial sector. The State Department says that 80% to 90% of all financial transactions in Afghanistan run through hawalas.

Hawala networks run on what is effectively an honor system and much of the business they do is legitimate.

At their simplest, a customer drops off money at one dealer and is given a numeric code or password, which is then used by the money’s recipient when the cash is picked up elsewhere.

The hawala operators then settle up among themselves.

Hawala fees are far cheaper than standard banks, often as little as $150 to move $100,000, and transfers can be done in minutes or hours as opposed to days.

The United Nations, NATO and international aid groups in Afghanistan have at times even used hawalas to move money and pay staff.

Afghanistan, shattered by three decades of war, is a predominantly cash society. “Afghanistan is a country that is built on personal connections and trust.

If someone trusts them, he will do business with them,” said Haji Najib, the chairman of Kabul’s hawala association. “It is the same for hawala.”

But those ties also make hawalas especially difficult for investigators to penetrate to find the identity of funds being transferred.

Most of the cash loads are taken on one of the eight flights a day from Kabul to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Wealthy Afghans have long parked their money in Dubai.

Dubai and neighboring emirates, with their tight banking secrecy laws, also have been used by the Taliban and al Qaeda as a convenient locale to move or stash money, although Emirati authorities have aided American efforts to shut the flow of terror money.

Investigators say it is tough to trace where the Afghan money goes from Dubai. Some of it likely stays in Dubai, either in banks or property, some is probably moved to U.S. and Europe or back to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Dubai officials didn’t respond to requests to comment.

Over the past year, U.S. and other Western officials have grown alarmed by the ways in which corruption was fueling support for the Taliban and indications that the massive infusions of poorly monitored Western dollars were helping foster a culture of graft.

A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration-led operation to disrupt Taliban finances created last year is now largely focused on corruption, and military intelligence is dedicating more assets to fighting the problem. NATO is also creating a task force to scrutinize contracts given to provide security, supplies and reconstruction work for coalition forces.

American officials have been working with Afghanistan’s central bank to impose Western-style regulation on hawalas.

Under Afghan regulations enacted in the last few years, hawalas must report to the central bank every transaction they made monthly.

When they suspect illicit activity, they are required to file suspicious activity reports, as banks do in the U.S.

Compliance has been spotty, say central bank officials. Most still keep track of their transactions in handwritten ledger books, sometimes transcribed in code.

So far, not one suspicious activity report has been filed, said a central bank official who deals with enforcement matters.

Cash also moves easily without detection or declaration through the airport’s VIP section, where officials aren’t searched and often driven straight up to their planes, according to Gen. Asif and U.S. and Afghan officials.

Gen. Asif said that last year, his men found a “pile of millions of dollars,” all undeclared, and tried to stop it from being put on a flight to Dubai.

But “there was lots of pressure from my higher ups,” Gen. Asif said. He refused to name the officials who were pressuring him, but said: “It came from very, very senior people. They told me there was an arrangement with the central bank and told me to let it go.”

Revolution and Repression in America

June 29th, 2010 by Andrew Gavin Marshall

This is Part 2 of the series, “The Technological Revolution and the Future of Freedom.“

Part 1: The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order

Introduction

 

As outlined in Part 1 of this series, “The Technological Revolution and the Future of Freedom,” there are two major geopolitical realities in the world today, both largely brought about as a result of the “Technological Revolution” in which technology and electronics have come to define and shape our society.

The Technological Revolution has led to a diametrically opposed, antagonistic, and conflicting geopolitical reality: never before has humanity been so awakened to issues of power, exploitation, imperialism and domination; and simultaneously, never before have elites been so transnational and global in orientation, and with the ability to impose such a truly global system of scientific despotism and political oppression. These are the two major geopolitical realities of the world today. Never in all of human history has mankind been so capable of achieving a true global political psycho-social awakening; nor has humanity ever been in such danger of being subjected to a truly global scientific totalitarianism, potentially more oppressive than any system known before, and without a doubt more technologically capable of imposing a permanent despotism upon humanity. So we are filled with hope, but driven by urgency. In all of human history, never has the potential nor the repercussions of human actions and ideas ever been so monumental.

Not only is the awakening global in its reach, but in its very nature. It creates within the individual, an awareness of the global condition. So it is a ‘global awakening’ both in the external environment, and in the internal psychology. This new reality in the world, coupled with the fact that the world’s population has never been so vast, presents a challenge to elites seeking to dominate people all over the world who are aware and awakened to the realities of social inequality, war, poverty, exploitation, disrespect, imperialism and domination. This directly implies that these populations will be significantly more challenging to control: economically, politically, socially, psychologically and spiritually. Thus, from the point of view of the global oligarchy, the only method of imposing order and control – on this unique and historical human condition – is through the organized chaos of economic crises, war, and the rapid expansion and institutionalization of a global scientific dictatorship. Our hope is their fear; and our greatest fear is their only hope.

(See: The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order)
 

This essay (Part II) will undertake an examination of these two geopolitical realities on a national scale, focusing primarily on the “American Awakening.”

The American Awakening

In the past decade, there has been an enormous surge in popular political activism, which has corresponded to the expansion of imperialism, exploitation and despotism in the world. The events of September 11th, 2001, sparked two major geopolitical events. The first was the implementation of the Bush Doctrine – the “War on Terror” – which was organized in response to the terrorist attacks. This imperialist expansion led to the war and occupation of Afghanistan, the war on Iraq and subsequent occupation, the war in Lebanon in 2006, the war on Somalia, continuing military expansionism and imposition in the Palestinian territories, as well as expansive covert operations in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and around the world.

The second major geopolitical trend instigated by the 9/11 attacks was the formation of what has come to be known as the “9/11 Truth Movement,” in which millions of people around the world, including thousands of academics, architects, engineers, government officials, intelligence and military officials and other professionals, as well as an exponentially growing abundance of people in the general population internationally have sought to question and challenge the official accounts of the events of 9/11. Like all activist groups, there are fringe and radical elements within the movement, those who claim that “no planes” were used in the attacks, or that the attacks were undertaken by Israel – with anti-Semitic undertones – or other such fringe theories. Regardless of the fringe elements, the main focus of the movement is based around the fact that the official story of events does not stand up to any form of independent and unbiased, rational analysis. The media for years ignored the growing international movement, but only in recent years have acknowledged the movement; however, they did not address the movement by analyzing the information and issues, but rather by seeking to discredit and demonize the political movement, focusing on the fringe elements and beliefs and applying labels of “conspiracy theorist,” attempting to discredit anyone who questions the official story.

In 2006, Time Magazine acknowledged that the 9/11 Truth Movement is not a “fringe movement,” but is, in fact, “a mainstream political reality.” They also cited a major political poll by Scripps-Howard in 2006, which revealed that 36% of Americans think it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that government officials either allowed the attacks to be carried out or carried out the attacks themselves.[1]

The growth of this movement spurred on major new movements and political activism, driven almost exclusively by organized and ‘politically awakened’ civilians. Driven largely by the Internet, this movement has awakened a mass of people globally to the political and strategic reality of what is known – in military terms – as a “false flag operation”, in which an attack is carried out against a certain target, where those undertaking the attack fly the flag of someone else (i.e., “false flag”) in an effort to implicate them in the attack; and thus the response to an attack would be against the perceived attackers. It is, essentially, a covert military strategem: a strategic deception. The Greek dramatist and playwright Aeschylus wrote that, “In war, the first casualty is truth.” A false flag attack an act of war that is deliberately designed to deceive and hide the truth. It is an attack carried out and blamed on one’s enemy in order to justify implementing a political agenda. Governments have used such tactics for centuries, and especially western nations in the past half-century.[2]

This movement has spawned an activist resurgence in other global issues, such as the global economic system, and most notably, the central banking system, particularly the Federal Reserve. While many Americans knew next to nothing about their central bank, the Federal Reserve, a growing movement of Americans and others around the world were educating themselves about the Federal Reserve System and the global banking system in general. Many found a leader in a Texas Congressman named Ron Paul, who campaigned on the Republican ticket for President in 2008, and who drew the widest grassroots support from across the nation of any Republican candidates. Among Democrats, “9/11 Truthers” and others critical of US foreign policy came to find a passionate leader in Cynthia McKinney, who was one of the lone voices in Congress to directly challenge the Bush administration on the official version of events, and has challenged the election fraud in 2000 and 2004, conducted a Congressional hearing on covert activities in Africa, exposing the hand of western nations behind the Rwandan genocide and Congo Civil War.

In late 2008, as the government began its financial bailout of the banks, the “End the Fed” movement emerged in sporadic protests at the 12 Federal Reserve Banks located around the country, and over 40 protests took place across the nation within a matter of months.[3]

The “Homeland Security State” Targets Dissenters

With the increasing militarization of foreign policy, we also see the increasing militarization of domestic politics, and most notably the emergence of a high-tech surveillance police state: a “Homeland Security State.” National and international elites are in the process of incrementally constructing a ‘new totalitarianism’ in replacing democracy.[4] Civil rights and freedoms are dismantled through anti-terrorist legislation, wiretapping and internet surveillance are rampant and expansive, “watch lists” are constructed, which often include the names of dissenters, and the military is increasingly poised to partake in policing. Further, over the past decade, we have seen the rapid expansion of “Continuity of Government” (COG) plans, which plan for the suspension of the Constitution and imposition of martial law in the event of an emergency.[5] At this point in American society, if there was a rapid and expansive economic collapse or another major terrorist attack on US soil, America would transform into a military government, more fascist in nature than anything; but equipped with an arsenal and “technetronic” police state the likes of which no dictator in history has had access to. Freedom has never been so threatened; yet, people have never been so mobilized in modern history to challenge the threats to freedom and democracy in America, in the west, and in the world.

(See: The Transnational Homeland Security State and the Decline of Democracy )
 

In 2003, General Tommy Franks gave an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine in which he elaborated on this concept. Tommy Franks was the former Commander of the Pentagon’s Central Command over the Middle East, and thus he was the top General overseeing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In his interview with the magazine, Franks stated that the objective of terrorism is “to change the mannerisms, the behavior, the sociology and, ultimately, the anthropology of a society,” and thus, in the event of another major terrorist attack in America or in the West:

the western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy. Now, in a practical sense, what does that mean? It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive casualty-producing event somewhere in the western world—it may be in the United States of America—that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass-casualty-producing event. Which, in fact, then begins to potentially unravel the fabric of our Constitution.[6]

One interesting facet that very little is known about in the militarization of domestic society and incremental totalitarianism is how the coercive state apparatus, while being justified under the guise of fighting terrorism or “protecting the Homeland,” is in fact being directed against citizen activists and popular political movements. For example, following 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security established what are known as “Fusion Centers,” set up all over the United States, and which are designed as “information sharing and collecting” hubs, in which agencies like the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice, Homeland Security and the US Military collect and analyze information together. As of July 2009, there were 72 acknowledged Fusion Centers around the United States.[7] Think of them as local surveillance centers, because that’s what they are.

Fusion Centers are also positioned to take part as local command centers in the event of a national emergency or implementation of “Continuity of Government” plans to declare martial law. State and local law enforcement agencies provide the majority of information to the local Fusion Centers, which is then analyzed and disseminated to the major intelligence, military or Homeland Security departments and agencies. However, in recent years, Fusion Centers have been criticized for their purported agenda, as they are justified on the basis of acting as centers designated for “counter-terrorism” purposes, but in practice are directed against citizen groups.

In the spring of 2009, it was revealed that the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) – a Fusion Center – had put out an information pamphlet designed to help law enforcement officials identify “potential domestic terrorists.” According to the report:

If you’re an anti-abortion activist, or if you display political paraphernalia supporting a third-party candidate or a certain Republican member of Congress, if you possess subversive literature, you very well might be a member of a domestic paramilitary group.[8]

When did our society become something out of 1984? When did our governments designate “subversive literature” as a sign of terrorism? The report classified such activities as being part of a “Modern Militia Movement,” and further identified “potential threats to American security” as:

People who supported former third-party presidential candidates like Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr are cited in the report, in addition to anti-abortion activists and conspiracy theorists who believe the United States, Mexico and Canada will someday form a North American Union.[9]

In other words, those who are opposed to the political and economic process of “North American integration”[10] are seen and identified as “potential militia members.” The report even directly identified possession of such films like the anti-Federal Reserve film, “America: Freedom to Fascism” as “potential signals of militia involvement.”[11] The document put out by the Fusion Center further warned law enforcement officials to be “on the lookout” for “bumper stickers advertising third party candidates, or people with copies of the United States Constitution.” The report wrote that due to the economic crisis, “a lush environment for militia activity has been created,” and:

It goes on to cite possible militia members as people who talk about the New World Order conspiracy, express anger with the Federal Reserve banking system, resist paying taxes, warn other citizens about the perceived dangers of radio frequency identification (RFID) or lobby for a return to strict constitutionalism as possible threats to law enforcement.  

While the memo does offer something of a lopsided summary of many of the various groups which swelled enormously following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it also links individuals who are otherwise peaceful with the Ku Klux Klan and other violent organizations.[12]

Another Fusion Center in Virginia identified many universities as potential “radicalization nodes” for terrorists, singling out “historically black colleges” as potential threats, and “it also contains an extensive list of peaceful American and International activist groups from nearly all cross-sections of political engagement, placing them side-by-side with groups that have long been known for resorting to violence.”[13]

In April of 2009, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) released a report on the threat to liberties and civil rights posed by the Fusion Centers, saying that, “Fusion centers have experienced a mission creep in the last several years, becoming more of a threat than a security device. With no overarching guidelines to restrict or direct them, these centers put Americans’ privacy at huge risk.” The ACLU report identified several “troubling incidents” in regards to Fusion Centers violating privacy and civil rights:

- A May 7, 2008 report entitled “Universal Adversary Dynamic Threat Assessment” authored by a private contractor that labeled environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, the Humane Society and the Audubon Society as “mainstream organizations with known or possible links to eco-terrorism”;

- A potential abuse of authority by DHS officials who improperly monitored and disseminated the communications of peace activists affiliated with the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN);

- A report produced on February 19, 2009 by the North Central Texas Fusion System entitled “Prevention Awareness Bulletin” which described a purported conspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, the U.S. Treasury Department, hip hop bands and former Congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney to “provide an environment for terrorist organizations to flourish”;

- A “Strategic Report” produced February 20, 2009 by the Missouri Information Analysis Center that described a purported security threat posed by the “modern militia movement” but inappropriately included references to social, religious and political ideologies, including support of third party presidential candidates such as Congressman Ron Paul and former Congressman Bob Barr; and

- A “Protective Intelligence Bulletin” issued by the DHS Intelligence Branch of the Threat Management Division of the Federal Protective Service which improperly collected and disseminated information regarding political demonstrations and inappropriately labeled peaceful advocacy groups and other activists as “extremists.”[14]

To those in power, ‘peace’ is an ‘extremist’ idea, because ‘war’ and ‘violence’ are the norms to them. Now it has come to the point where those who challenge the structures of power are simply designated as terrorists and extremists. This is an incredibly dangerous political road at which the end is despotism and the death of democracy. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, as one of those identified by Fusion Centers as providing “an environment for terrorist organizations to flourish,” had this to say about the Fusion Center report:

As a student of COINTELPRO, the government’s infamous Counter-Intelligence Program [directed against the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s], I know what my government is capable of doing to quash dissent. That’s why I voted against the Patriot Act, worked in Congress to roll back the Secret Evidence Act, and introduced legislation to repeal the Military Commissions Act. I come from a long legacy of activists for justice and freedom inside this country. I am on the advocacy front lines for peace abroad and justice at home. But I know that we will not have peace or justice without truth. Truth is the foundation of the dignity that we seek. Dignity for all is not a threat to the United States.[15]

It has become evident that the response of the American government to the “global political awakening” within the United States is aimed at demonizing, discrediting, and oppressing activist groups and political movements. But how far can this oppression go?

Detention Camps for Dissidents?

One startling and deeply concerning development in the area of “Homeland Security” is the highly secretive and deliberately quiet establishment of “detention centers” within the United States, designed to house millions of people in the event of an “emergency.” In 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft “announced [a] desire for camps for U.S. citizens he deems to be ‘enemy combatants’,” and that his plan “would allow him to order the indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip them of their constitutional rights and access to the courts by declaring them enemy combatants.”[16]

Also in 2002, it was reported that FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (now under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security), was “moving ahead with plans to create temporary cities that could handle millions of Americans after mass destruction attacks on U.S. cities.” Newsmax reported that, “FEMA was seeking bids from three major real estate and/or engineering firms to help prepare for the creation of the emergency cities, using tents and trailers – if an urban area is attacked by NBC (nuclear, chemical or biological) weapons.”[17]

In 2006, Dick Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, and its subsidiary company, Kellogg-Brown & Root (KBR) received a major contract from the Department of Homeland Security worth $385 million, which was given “to support the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event of an emergency.” A press release on KBR’s website stated that:

The contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.[18]

Further, it stated that, “The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other U.S. Government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster. In the event of a natural disaster, the contractor could be tasked with providing housing for ICE personnel performing law enforcement functions in support of relief efforts.”[19]

Within two weeks, “Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the Fiscal Year 2007 federal budget would allocate over $400 million to add 6,700 additional detention beds (an increase of 32 percent over 2006).” As historian and author Peter Dale Scott reported:

Both the contract and the budget allocation are in partial fulfillment of an ambitious 10-year Homeland Security strategic plan, code-named ENDGAME, authorized in 2003. According to a 49-page Homeland Security document on the plan, ENDGAME expands “a mission first articulated in the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.” Its goal is the capability to “remove all removable aliens,” including “illegal economic migrants, aliens who have committed criminal acts, asylum-seekers (required to be retained by law) or potential terrorists.”[20]

Considering that the government labels anti-war activists, libertarians, progressives, and other peaceful citizens groups as “extremists,” “paramilitary members” and “terrorists,” this is especially concerning. In 2008, a former US Congressman wrote an article for the San Francisco Chronicle in which he warned that, “Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of ‘an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs’.” He elaborated:

Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.[21]

As Peter Dale Scott explained:

the contract evoked ominous memories of Oliver North’s controversial Rex-84 “readiness exercise” in 1984. This called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to round up and detain 400,000 imaginary “refugees,” in the context of “uncontrolled population movements” over the Mexican border into the United States. North’s activities raised civil liberties concerns in both Congress and the Justice Department. The concerns persist.

“Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters,” says Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers, the U.S. military’s account of its activities in Vietnam. “They’ve already done this on a smaller scale, with the ‘special registration’ detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo.”

Plans for detention facilities or camps have a long history, going back to fears in the 1970s of a national uprising by black militants. As Alonzo Chardy reported in the Miami Herald on July 5, 1987, an executive order for continuity of government (COG) had been drafted in 1982 by FEMA head Louis Giuffrida. The order called for “suspension of the Constitution” and “declaration of martial law.”[22]

More recently, there have been several reported incidents of small towns having major “detention centers” being built in them which remain empty and maintained for the event of an “emergency.” One such facility is being proposed for the City of Italy to build “a detention center for illegal immigrants.”[23] There was also an effort to have a detention center built in Benson City “to house illegal immigrants.”[24] A major American prison corporation, Corplan Corrections, “has been at the center of numerous controversies, including a bizarre prison-building scheme in Hardin, Montana that involved a private military force called American Police Force run by an ex-con. The prison cost the small town $27 million but never housed any prisoners.” Further, Corplan “has approached city officials in several towns across the U.S. – Benson, Arizona; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Weslaco, Texas – with a proposal to build a new detention center for immigrant families.”[25]

These facilities, built under the pretences of housing “illegal immigrants” yet largely remaining empty, could potentially be used to house not only immigrants, but also Muslims and “possibly dissenters” following a major emergency, such as an economic collapse or terrorist attack within the United States. After all, in World War II, Canada and the United States rounded up Japanese and German immigrants into internment camps. Again, it becomes evident that the response of power structures to the manifestation of the global political awakening within the United States is to oppress and suppress the people, and with that, undermine democracy itself.

The Prospects of Revolution

During the first phase of the global economic crisis in December of 2008, the IMF warned governments of the prospect of “violent unrest on the streets.” The head of the IMF warned that, “violent protests could break out in countries worldwide if the financial system was not restructured to benefit everyone rather than a small elite.”[26] Naturally, the IMF director leaves out the fact that he is part of that small elite and that the IMF functions for the benefit of that very same elite.

In late December of 2008, “A U.S. Army War College report warn[ed] an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.” The report stated that, “Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities … to defend basic domestic order and human security.”[27]

Throughout 2009, there was an abundance of civil unrest, protests and even riots all across Europe in response to the economic crisis. In February of 2009, Obama’s intelligence chief, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the economic crisis has become the greatest threat to U.S. national security:

I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries … Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period… And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.[28]

In other words, the economic crisis poses two major social threats to the “national security” (i.e., imperial status) of the United States. Of key importance is that America and other western nations may lose control of their colonial possessions and interests in the developing world – Africa, South America and Asia – as the people in those regions, the most “politically awakened” in the world, can cause “regime-threatening instability” as the prospects of riots, rebellion and revolution expose the failure of their national leaders and governance structures. This would pose an immense threat to the interests of the west in those regions, as they primarily rely upon local nation-states to control the populations and resources. Concurrently, these revolts could spread to the developing world. So western elites are faced with the prospects of possibly losing their control over the world’s resources and even their own domestic populations. The natural reaction, in imperial logic, is to militarize both the foreign and domestic spheres.

No wonder then, that in 2008, the highest-ranking general in the United States, “Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ranks the financial crisis as a higher priority and greater risk to security than current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He explained, “It’s a global crisis. And as that impacts security issues, or feeds greater instability, I think it will impact on our national security in ways that we quite haven’t figured out yet.”[29]

The head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) warned that, “The global economic crisis could trigger political unrest equal to that seen during the 1930s.” He elaborated, “The crisis today is spreading even faster (than the Great Depression) and affects more countries at the same time.”[30]

In February of 2009, renowned economic historian and Harvard professor, Niall Ferguson, predicted a “prolonged financial hardship, even civil war, before the ‘Great Recession’ ends,” and that, “The global crisis is far from over, [it] has only just begun, and Canada is no exception,” he said while at a speaking event in Canada. He explained, “Policy makers and forecasters who see a recovery next year are probably lying to boost public confidence,” while, “the crisis will eventually provoke political conflict.” He further explained:

There will be blood, in the sense that a crisis of this magnitude is bound to increase political as well as economic [conflict]. It is bound to destabilize some countries. It will cause civil wars to break out, that have been dormant. It will topple governments that were moderate and bring in governments that are extreme. These things are pretty predictable.[31]

Even in May of 2009, the head of the World Bank warned that, “the global economic crisis could lead to serious social upheaval,” as “there is a risk of a serious human and social crisis with very serious political implications.”[32] Zbigniew Brzezinski himself warned in February of 2009 that, “There’s going to be growing conflict between the classes and if people are unemployed and really hurting, hell, there could be even riots!”[33]

In March of 2010, Moody’s, a major credit ratings agency, warned that “social unrest” is coming to the west, as the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Spain “are all at risk of soaring debt costs and will have to implement austerity plans that threaten ‘social cohesion’.”[34]

In 2007, a British Defence Ministry report was released assessing global trends in the world over the next 30 years. In assessing “Global Inequality”, the report stated that over the next 30 years:

[T]he gap between rich and poor will probably increase and absolute poverty will remain a global challenge… Disparities in wealth and advantage will therefore become more obvious, with their associated grievances and resentments, even among the growing numbers of people who are likely to be materially more prosperous than their parents and grandparents.  Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency. They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.[35]

Further, the report warned of the dangers to the established powers of a revolution emerging from the disgruntled middle classes of the west:

The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by MarxThe globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states.  The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite.  Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.[36]

From the Old World to the New

So here we are, in the year 2010, the end of the first decade of the 21st century; and what a century it has been thus far: 9/11, a recession, the war on Afghanistan, the “war on terror”, the war on Iraq, terrorist attacks in Bali, Madrid, London and all across the Middle East; the war on Somalia, the Congo Civil War (the deadliest conflict since World War II, with upwards of 6 million innocent civilians killed since 1996); the Russia-Georgia war, the expansion of the war into Pakistan, the election of Barack Obama, the global economic crisis and here we are.

All of human history is the story of the struggle of free humanity – the individual and the collective – against the constructs of power, which sought to dominate and control humanity. From humanity’s origins in Africa, civilizations rose and fell, dominated and decimated. From Ancient Egypt to Greece and Rome, the Chinese dynasties, the Mayans and Aztecs, all sought domination of land and people. The Persian Empire and the Ottoman Empire expanded and controlled vast populations and diverse people; and with the emergence of Capitalism came the emergence of the European powers.

For the past 500 years, Europe and America have dominated the world; and in fact, only in the last 65 years has America dominated the globe. The Peace of Westphalia was signed in 1648, ending the Thirty Years’ War in the Holy Roman Empire and the Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. This agreement effectively ended the Holy Roman Empire, and marked the emergence of the idea of the modern nation-state. University studies in International Relations begin with the Peace of Westphalia, as it is viewed as the beginning of the international system we know today.

Out of this emerged the great European empires: the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Dutch, and later the French, British and German empires, which created the first global political economy with the Atlantic Slave Trade, trading weapons and goods in exchange for captured slaves, fueling internal civil wars among the large African empires to feed them a supply of slaves which they then took to the Americas to use as a labour force. That labour force would produce goods taken back to Europe, traded among the world’s empires, and ultimately financing the continued flow of weapons into Africa. It was a triangular trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas. At this time, the notion of ‘race’ originated through a series of legal decisions made in the colonies.

In the 1600s, the colonies in the Americas were made up of white, Indian and black indentured labourers and slaves, both ‘un-free blacks and whites, with blacks being a minority, yet they still “exercised basic rights in law.” A problem arose for elites attempting to control the labour class: the un-free native labour force knew the land and could escape easily (so they would later be largely eliminated through genocide); and in the 1660s, the labour class was becoming rebellious, where black and white labourers worked together and rebelled against local elites. The entire lower class of society was united – regardless of their varied and expansive differences – and they were united against the elites. Thus, a doctrine of ‘divide and conquer’ was implemented against the psycho-social foundations of the people.[37]

The elite “relaxed the servitude” of the white labourers, and “intensified the bonds of black slavery,” and subsequently “introduced a new regime of racial oppression. In doing so, they effectively created the white race – and with it white supremacy.” Thus, “the conditions of white and black servants began to diverge considerably after 1660.” Following this, legislation would separate white and black slavery, prevent “mixed” marriages, and seek to prevent the procreation of “mixed-race” children. Whereas before 1660, many black slaves were not indentured for life, this changed as colonial law increasingly “imposed lifetime bondage for black servants – and, especially significant, the curse of lifetime servitude for their offspring.”[38]

A central feature of the social construction of this racial divide was “the denial of the right to vote,” as most Anglo-American colonies previously allowed free blacks to vote, but this slowly changed throughout the colonies. The ruling class of America was essentially “inventing race.” Thus, “Freedom was increasingly identified with race, not class.”[39]

In 1648, the nation-state emerged; in 1660, racism was created through legal decisions; and in 1694, the Bank of England was created and the birth of the central banking system took place. All of these were essentially ‘social constructions’ – nation, race, currency – in which they are simply ideas that are accepted as reality. A nation is not a physical entity, race has no true basis for discrimination or hierarchy, and a currency has no actual value. They only hold as true because everyone accepts them as true.

From this period of immense transition, European imperial nations dominated the world; racism justified their domination, and central banks dominated the empires at home and abroad. The 1800s saw the Industrial Revolution, which instigated the decline of slavery and the emergence of paid labour and hourly wages. Eventually, the notion of ‘race science’ emerged within the eugenics movement, originating in Europe, and later migrating to the United States in the late 19th century. This helped justify the ‘Scramble for Africa’, which began in the 1880s and entailed the European empires formally colonizing the entire continent of Africa, carving it into nations among them, but justifying it on the basis of a racist “civilizing mission.”

The European imperial age declined with World War I, a battle of empires and economies. This led to the collapse of many European empires as well as the Ottoman and Russian empires, with the emergence of the Soviet Union as well as nation-states in the Middle East. The emergence of fascism took root in the 1920s and 30s, and grew to coalesce in World War II, which led to the ultimate decline of the British and French empires, and the emergence of the American empire.

America became the engine of empire for the Atlantic community, Europe and North America. It created and ran international organizations allowing for transnational elites to share power among an increasingly global – an increasingly smaller – group of elites. The World, for nearly fifty years, was defined as a global struggle between Communism and Democracy – between the Soviet Union and the West. This historical myth hides the face of global domination: a struggle between two blocs for global domination of the world’s people and resources.

With the end of the Cold War came the emergence of the New World Order, a world in which there was only one global power: the United States. I was born shortly before the Berlin Wall came down, and I developed a memory only after the Soviet Union collapsed; the only world I know is the one in which the United States has been the only global power. I know only the era of ‘globalization’ and the promises it made my generation. Think of the effect upon the youth this great period of transition will have.

The history of humanity is one of constant change, sometimes slow and incremental, at other times rapid and expansive. Today, we are in a period in which we are seeing a convergence of never-before-seen global realities. The population of the world has never been so monumentally large – at 6.8 billion – and among the global population, for the first time in human history, there is a true “global political awakening.” This does not mean that everyone is correct in their views, but it does mean that the world’s people are thinking and acting – even if incidentally or unknowingly – about the global polity. This is most especially so in the areas where the Atlantic world has dominated for so long, as they have been subjected to poverty, racism, and war like no other people on earth. Their ‘awakening’ was forced upon them, and the west is now having its awakening forced upon it.

At our current position, we are about to undergo a global historical period of transition, the likes of which has never before been seen. The incremental and slow building ‘global political awakening’ that emerged around the world in the past century, is reaching a precipice and rapid expansion at the beginning of the 21st century. Global power has never been so centralized, with international institutions and systems of global governance holding authority over several realms of humanity. We are partaking in global wars seeking to dominate populations and control resources, democracy is eroding in the west, and wealth disparities have never been so great in all of human history.

For the first time in the last 500 years, the East has risen – with China and India – as new global powers, rising within the system not against it; marking the first time that nation-states have not risen against the global power, but with the global power. China and India are being brought within a new global political and economic system that is being constructed: a global totalitarian system of continental colonies to a global state. In 1998, then Secretary-General of NATO, Javier Solana, gave a speech in which he said:

It is my general contention that humanity and democracy – two principles essentially irrelevant to the original Westphalian order – can serve as guideposts in crafting a new international order, better adapted to the security realities, and challenges, of today’s Europe.[40]

Further, he explained, “the Westphalian system had its limits. For one, the principle of sovereignty it relied on also produced the basis for rivalry, not community of states; exclusion, not integration.” Thus, to truly have global power, the international system of nation-states must be ‘re-imagined’ and altered: first, into continental governance structures, and ultimately a global structure. As Solana said, “In the United Nations, the ideal of a global institution including all nations became a reality,” and “the ideal of European integration was set in motion.” He elaborated:

But an integral part of the evolution of the Atlantic Alliance was the idea of reconciliation: the integration of our militaries, the common project of collective defence, and the willingness to work towards a common approach to defend the Alliance’s common values.

Unfortunately, also out of the same ashes of the second world war emerged the East-West confrontation that left Europe deeply divided for more than four decades. As our century comes to an end, we at last have the opportunity to overcome this division and to set free all the creative energies this continent can muster to build the new security order which will lead us into the 21st century.[41]

It is a difficult balancing act for global powers – particularly the United States – to manage the integration of China into the ‘new world order’, while simultaneously both of them compete for control of global resources, located primarily in regions of the world which are experiencing the most rapid and extensive ‘awakening’. The imperial mindset – like that of Brzezinski’s – seeks to rationalize global power as being equated with ‘global stability’, and that without empire, there is only ‘chaos’. Thus, imperial logic dictates that America must seek to dominate as much of the world as fast as possible, and hence control global resources, which will allow it to determine the terms of China and other powers’ inclusion in the new world order. This has the potential to spark a global war – a World War III type of scenario between the NATO powers and the China-Russia alliance – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – who seek to share power, not to be dominated. Global populations at home and abroad have never been so challenging to control: global war is inevitable in the imperial mindset. As Brzezinski himself stated in a speech to Chatham House in London in 2009:

But these major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.[42]

In many people’s view of the global economic crisis, the problem was ‘greed’. Greed is not the problem, it is but a symptom of the disease that is ‘power’; which, like a cancer, expands and kills its host. Humanity is entering what will likely be the most turbulent period in human history. The future is not yet written; all that is certain is that everything will change. What it comes down to is the greatest human struggle in the history of our small little planet: the struggle of the world’s people – in every corner of the world, from every religion, ‘race’, ethnicity, ideology, language, sex, gender and variation – against a global power elite who control the most advanced, technological, and lethal tools of oppression every conceived. Make no mistake, we are not repeating history, we are making it.

The Power of Ideas

Our awakening is the greatest threat to these global elites, and it is our only hope of protecting any notions of freedom, liberty, family, equality and individuality. It is these notions that have led to and created the greatest developments and ideas in human history. Humanity’s best is within these concepts, and its worst is within power. The shame of humanity is within its systems of power, so for humanity to survive we must re-imagine and remodel our global system and global power.

We cannot design a society for humanity without taking into consideration human nature. If you build it, they will come. If we keep creating positions of great power, and continually globalize power, it will attract exactly the wrong type of people to those positions of power: the ones that want it and want to abuse the power. These people are more likely to get to these positions of power because they are willing to do anything to get there, which means that once they have it, they will do anything to maintain and expand it. And so power grows, and the cancer spreads. Imagine if Hitler’s rise to power took place not in the era of nation-states, but in the era of the ‘global state.’ All that is required is one tyrant, and humanity is nothing if not proof that there are always tyrants in waiting.

What is a nation? Is it an army, a flag, an anthem, or a building of government? A nation is an idea – and is constructed by a series of ideas. There is no ‘real’ border, it is an imaginary line, and everyone in the world pretends they are there, and nation-states (which are really people who are in control of these ideas), govern accordingly. Now we are in a period in which elites are attempting to re-imagine the international community, to erase the ‘idea’ of borders, and to ultimately re-program humanity to follow their example. Social planners seek to control not simply our land, resources and bodies, but most importantly, our minds. World government will be sold to us on the ‘ideas’ of peace, something all of humanity wants; all save the powerful, for war and conflict is the means through which power is accumulated and society is transformed.

True peace will never be possible with a singular global power structure; for once power is globally centralized, what more can the powerful seek to achieve? Thus, the powerful fight each other for control of the centralized authority, paranoia governs their minds, and distrust and hatred directs their actions. Power subsequently becomes its own worst enemy, as it eats away at its host and destroys the body within which it lives.

True peace can only come from human understanding. Free humanity must understand each other if we are to live among each other. We cannot any longer view each other through the lenses of power: through the media, government, economic, and social structures. These structures are designed with the intent to mislead and misrepresent people, they are illegitimate and must be considered as such. We must view and understand each other on a human level: on ideas of freedom, liberty, family, equality and individually. To achieve that understanding, one realizes that freedom must be for all or none, that liberty is not to be selective, the importance of family, the necessity of equality and the acceptance and celebration of individuality. With that, peace is inevitable. With power, peace is impossible.

Just as elites seek to re-imagine and recreate our world, we too, can do the same. This must begin with the human understanding, where we enter into a new Renaissance or Enlightenment, not western, but global; where the people communicate and interact with each other on a personal basis, not through elite structures. This must be the aim of the global political awakening: to achieve peace through peaceful means. If everyone in the world simply decided to no longer acknowledge people and positions of power, that power would vanish. If there is no army, because the soldiers decided to no longer recognize the government, there is no one to pull the trigger on people in the street.

I think, therefore I am. If I think I am free, I will become free. But while an individual can do this, it does not work if everyone doesn’t do it. This requires all people, everywhere, to work together, talk together, learn together, think together and act together. We can either do this now, or potentially be subdued for decades if not longer. If we do not achieve global peace and freedom for all people, if we do not understand each other, power will win, at least for a while. What is important to note is that the emergence of a technetronic society reduces the need for people, as technology can watch, listen, control and kill people with the push of a button. We are also in danger of becoming a docile, tranquilized society, lost in drugs – whether recreational or even more notably, pharmaceutical. We must avoid entering into a ‘brave new world’, and instead bravely construct a different world.

From the militarization of domestic society, it would appear as if we are moving into a world quite reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984, in which the world is divided into a few major regional blocs that war against each other and terrorize their populations through acts of physical terror and total surveillance (“Big Brother”). This is but a phase and evolution into the final stage – the grand idea – or as Aldous Huxley referred to it, “The Ultimate Revolution”: the global scientific dictatorship. That will be the focus of the third and final part in this series.

This is Part 2 of the series, “The Technological Revolution and the Future of Freedom.“

Part 1: The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), and is studying Political Economy and History in Canada. He is co-editor, with Michel Chossudovsky, of the recent book, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century,” available to order at Globalresearch.ca.
 


Endnotes

[1]        Lev Grossman, Why the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Won’t Go Away. Time Magazine: September 3, 2006: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1531304,00.html

[2]        Andrew Gavin Marshall, State-Sponsored Terror: British and American Black Ops in Iraq. Global Research: June 25, 2008: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9447; Andrew Gavin Marshall, Breaking Iraq and Blaming Iran. Global Research: July 3, 2008: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9450 ; Andrew Gavin Marshall, Operation Gladio: CIA Network of “Stay Behind” Secret Armies. Global Research: July 17, 2008: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9556 ; also see: Daniele Ganser, NATO’s secret armies: operation Gladio and terrorism in Western Europe, (Frank Cass: 2005).

[3]        Chris Steller, Minneapolis Federal Reserve draws third protest in six months. The Minnesota Independent: April 25, 2009: http://minnesotaindependent.com/33400/end-the-fed-minneapolis

[4]        Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Transnational Homeland Security State and the Decline of Democracy. Global Research: April 15, 2010: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=18676

[5]        Peter Dale Scott, Supplanting the United States Constitution: War, National Emergency and “Continuity of Government”. Global Research: May 19, 2010: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19238 ; Peter Dale Scott, Martial Law, the Financial Bailout, and War. Global Research: January 8, 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11681

[6]        Marvin R. Shanken, General Tommy Franks: An exclusive interview with America’s top general in the war on terrorism. Cigar Aficionado Magazine: December 1, 2003: http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Profiles/People_Profile/0,2540,201,00.html

[7]        Amy Goodman, Broadcast Exclusive: Declassified Docs Reveal Military Operative Spied on WA Peace Groups, Activist Friends Stunned. Democracy Now! July 28, 2009: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/7/28/broadcast_exclusive_declassified_docs_reveal_military

[8]        Joshua Rhett Miller, ‘Fusion Centers’ Expand Criteria to Identify Militia Members. Fox News: March 23, 2009: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/03/23/fusion-centers-expand-criteria-identify-militia-members/

[9]        Joshua Rhett Miller, ‘Fusion Centers’ Expand Criteria to Identify Militia Members. Fox News: March 23, 2009: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/03/23/fusion-centers-expand-criteria-identify-militia-members/

[10]      Andrew Gavin Marshall, Tyrants and Traitors: The “Evolution by Stealth” of a North American Union. Global Research: August 7, 2007: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6475

[11]      Joshua Rhett Miller, ‘Fusion Centers’ Expand Criteria to Identify Militia Members. Fox News: March 23, 2009: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/03/23/fusion-centers-expand-criteria-identify-militia-members/

[12]      Stephen C. Webster, Missouri retracts police memo which labeled activists as ‘militia’. The Raw Story: March 26, 2009: http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Missouri_retracts_police_memo_which_labeled_0326.html

[13]      Stephen C. Webster, Fusion center declares nation’s oldest universities possible terror threat. The Raw Story: April 6, 2009: http://www.rawstory.com/news/2008/Virginia_terror_assessment_targets_enormous_crosssection_0406.html

[14]      Press Release, ACLU Calls For Internal DHS Investigations On Fusion Centers. ACLU: April 1, 2009: http://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/aclu-calls-internal-dhs-investigations-fusion-centers

[15]      Press Release, ACLU Calls For Internal DHS Investigations On Fusion Centers. ACLU: April 1, 2009: http://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/aclu-calls-internal-dhs-investigations-fusion-centers

[16]      Jonathan Turley, Camps for Citizens: Ashcroft’s Hellish Vision. Los Angeles Times: August 14, 2002: http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0814-05.htm

[17]      Christopher Ruddy, FEMA’s Plan for Mass Destruction Attacks: Of Course It’s True. Newsmax: August 6, 2002: http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/8/6/183147.shtml

[18]      Press Release, KBR Awarded U.S. Department of Homeland Security Contingency Support Project for Emergency Support Services. KBR: January 24, 2006: http://www.kbr.com/Newsroom/Press-Releases/2006/01/24/KBR-Awarded-US-Department-of-Homeland-Security-Contingency-Support-Project-for-Emergency-Support-Services/

[19]      Ibid.

[20]      Peter Dale Scott, 10-Year U.S. Strategic Plan For Detention Camps Revives Proposals From Oliver North. New American Media: February 26, 2006: http://news.ncmonline.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=9c2d6a5e75201d7e3936ddc65cdd56a9

[21]      Lewis Seiler and Dan Hamburg, Rule by fear or rule by law? The San Francisco Chronicle: February 4, 2008: http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-02-04/opinion/17140386_1_martial-law-kbr-national-defense-authorization-act

[22]      Peter Dale Scott, Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps. Global Research: February 6, 2006: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=1897

[23]      Cindy Sutherland, Italy City Council hears proposal for commercial development. Italy Neotribune: May 18, 2010: http://www.italyneotribune.com/stories/italy-city-council-hears-proposal-for-commercial-development

[24]      Thelma Grimes, Council ‘nay’ on detention center; City wants project funding assurance. Benson News: May 11, 2010: http://www.bensonnews-sun.com/articles/2010/05/12/news/news03.txt

[25]      Forrest Wilder, For the Lucios, Private Prison Consulting is a Family Affair. Texas Observer: April 23, 2010: http://www.texasobserver.org/forrestforthetrees/for-the-lucios-private-prison-consulting-is-a-family-affair

[26]      Angela Balakrishnan, IMF chief issues stark warning on economic crisis. The Guardian: December 18, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/dec/16/imf-financial-crisis

[27]      Military.com, Study: DoD May Act On US Civil Unrest. McClatchy-Tribune Information Services: December 29, 2008: http://www.military.com/news/article/study-dod-may-act-on-us-civil-unrest.html

[28]      Stephen C. Webster, US intel chief: Economic crisis a greater threat than terrorism. Raw Story: February 13, 2009: http://rawstory.com/news/2008/US_intel_chief_Economic_crisis_greater_0213.html

[29]      Tom Philpott, MILITARY UPDATE: Official: Financial crisis a bigger security risk than wars. Colorado Springs Gazette: February 1, 2009: http://www.gazette.com/articles/mullen-47273-military-time.html

[30]      AFP, WTO chief warns of looming political unrest. AFP: February 7, 2009: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gpC1Q4gXJfp6EwMl1rMGrmA_a7ZA

[31]      Heather Scoffield, ‘There will be blood’. The Globe and Mail: February 23, 2009: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/article973785.ece

[32]      BBC, World Bank warns of social unrest. BBC News: May 24, 2009: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8066037.stm

[33]      Press TV, Economic Crisis: Brzezinski warns of riots in US. Global Research: February 21, 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12392

[34]      Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Moody’s fears social unrest as AAA states implement austerity plans. The Telegraph: March 15, 2010: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/7450468/Moodys-fears-social-unrest-as-AAA-states-implement-austerity-plans.html

[35]      DCDC, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme, 2007-2036, 3rd ed. The Ministry of Defence, January 2007: page 3

[36]      Ibid, page 81.

[37]      Andrew Gavin Marshall, War, Racism and the Empire of Poverty. Global Research: March 22, 2010: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=18263

[38]      Ibid.

[39]      Ibid.

[40]      Dr. Javier Solana, “Securing Peace in Europe”, NATO speech: November 12, 1998: http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/1998/s981112a.htm

[41]      Ibid.

[42]      Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President,” International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009), page 54 (emphasis added)

The Global Economic Crisis
The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

Montreal, Global Research Publishers. Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), 2010.

ISBN 978-0-9737147-3-9   (416 pages)

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In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The meltdown of financial markets was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation. The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a “war without borders” led by the U.S. and its NATO allies.

This book takes the reader through the corridors of the Federal Reserve, into the plush corporate boardrooms on Wall Street where far-reaching financial transactions are routinely undertaken.

Each of the authors in this timely collection digs beneath the gilded surface to reveal a complex web of deceit and media distortion which serves to conceal the workings of the global economic system and its devastating impacts on people`s lives.

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent writer both on the contemporary structures of capitalism as well as on the history of the global political economy. He is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

“This important collection offers the reader a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets – especially the financial, social and military ramifications – from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.” -Mario Seccareccia, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

“In-depth investigations of the inner workings of the plutocracy in crisis, presented by some of our best politico-economic analysts. This book should help put to rest the hallucinations of ‘free market’ ideology.” -Michael Parenti, author of God and His Demons and Contrary Notions

“Provides a very readable exposé of a global economic system, manipulated by a handful of extremely powerful economic actors for their own benefit, to enrich a few at the expense of an ever-growing majority.” -David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited

The complex causes as well as the devastating consequences of the economic crisis are carefully scrutinized with contributions from Ellen Brown, Tom Burghardt, Michel Chossudovsky, Richard C. Cook, Shamus Cooke, John Bellamy Foster, Michael Hudson,  Tanya Cariina Hsu, Fred Magdoff,  Andrew Gavin Marshall, James Petras, Peter Phillips, Peter Dale Scott, Bill Van Auken, Claudia von Werlhof and Mike Whitney.

Despite the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives presented within this volume, all of the contributors ultimately come to the same conclusion: humanity is at the crossroads of the most serious economic and social crisis in modern history.

“This meticulous, vital, timely and accessible work unravels the history of a hydra-headed monster: military, media and politics, culminating in “humanity at the crossroads”; the current unprecedented economic and social crisis… From the first page of the preface of The Global Economic Crisis, the reasons for all unravel with compelling clarity. For those asking “why?” this book has the answers.” –Felicity Arbuthnot, award-winning author and journalist based in London.

“The current economic crisis, its causes and hopefully its cure have been a mystery for most people. I welcome a readable exposition of the global dimensions of the crisis and hope for some clarity on how to better organize money locally and internationally for the future.”  -Dr. Rosalie Bertell, renowned scientist, Alternative Nobel Prize laureate and Regent, International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine, Geneva

“This work is much more than a path-breaking and profound historical analysis of the actors and institutions, it is an affirmation of the authors’ belief that a better world is feasible and that it can be achieved by collective organized actions and faith in the sustainability of a democratic order.” -Frederick Clairmonte, distinguished analyst of the global political economy and author of the 1960s classic, The Rise and Fall of Economic Liberalism: The Making of the Economic Gulag

“Decades of profligate economic policies and promiscuous military interventions reached a critical mass, exploding in the meltdown of globalization in 2008. Today, the economic meltdown is reconfiguring everything – global society, economy and culture. This book is engineering a revolution by introducing an innovative global theory of economics.” -Michael Carmichael, prominent author, historian and president of the Planetary Movement

The Global Economic Crisis
The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

TO READ THE PREFACE CLICK HERE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall

PART I THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS

Chapter 1 The Global Economic Crisis: An Overview Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 2 Death of the American Empire Tanya Cariina Hsu
Chapter 3 Financial Implosion and Economic Stagnation John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff
Chapter 4 Depression: The Crisis of Capitalism James Petras
Chapter 5 Globalization and Neoliberalism: Is there an Alternative to Plundering the Earth? Claudia von Werlhof
Chapter 6 The Economy’s Search for a “New Normal” Shamus Cooke

PART II GLOBAL POVERTY

Chapter 7 Global Poverty and the Economic Crisis Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 8 Poverty and Social Inequality Peter Phillips

PART III WAR, NATIONAL SECURITY AND WORLD GOVERNMENT

Chapter 9 War and the Economic Crisis Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 10 The “Dollar Glut” Finances America’s Global Military Build-Up Michael Hudson
Chapter 11 Martial Law, the Financial Bailout and War Peter Dale Scott
Chapter 12 Pentagon and Intelligence Black Budget Operations Tom Burghardt
Chapter 13 The Economic Crisis “Threatens National Security” in America Bill Van Auken
Chapter 14 The Political Economy of World Government Andrew Gavin Marshall

PART IV THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM

Chapter 15 Central Banking: Managing the Global Political Economy Andrew Gavin Marshall
Chapter 16 The Towers of Basel: Secretive Plan to Create a Global Central Bank Ellen Brown
Chapter 17 The Financial New World Order: Towards A Global Currency Andrew Gavin Marshall
Chapter 18 Democratizing the Monetary System Richard C. Cook

PART V THE SHADOW BANKING SYSTEM

Chapter 19 Wall Street’s Ponzi Scheme Ellen Brown,
Chapter 20 Securitization: The Biggest Rip-off Ever Mike Whitney  

TO READ THE PREFACE CLICK HERE

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 Global Research Articles by Michel Chossudovsky

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The Law Union of Ontario Movement Defence Committee [MDC] has issued an appeal for broad political support for the G20 arrestees, estimated at nearly 500. Not arrested were members of the supposed anarchist group, Black Bloc, which is suspected of being a police psyops group ordered to start the G20 riot yesterday. Among the protestors, two professional journalists were also reportedly beaten and one arrested.

“The Toronto Police and the ISU appear to have lost control of their ‘prisoner processing center’, denying arrestees meaningful and timely access to counsel while beating and arresting those peacefully protesting their detention outside,” the MDC said in its press release today.

As of 9 am Sunday, the Integrated Security Unit reports that at least 480 people have been arrested on charges including “breach of peace, obstruct police, assault, assault peace officer, cause disturbance, incite riot, mischief, and participate in an unlawful assembly.”

Police attacked at least two professional news journalists during yesterday’s melee. Jesse Rosenfeld of The Guardian was reportedly arrested and beaten late Saturday night. In his last report filed with British news outfit, Rosenfeld wrote:

“[A]cross the country indigenous communities continue to resist government expropriation and environmental destruction of their land for mineral and resource extraction.

“Meanwhile Canada intends to use the G20 to expand the free trade of these mineral and resource commodities….

“[W]hile the Canadian state is using draconian colonial tools to present a veneer of representative legitimacy on the international stage, the streets of Toronto on Thursday asserted an alternative to the top-down style of forcing international consensus.”

Canadian police also beat Jesse Freeston of The Real News Network. Anchor Paul Jay questioned authorities about the incident:

http://www.youtube.com/v/D7OA920pbv8&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1

While security for the event cost in the range of $1 billion, police were nowhere to be found when the ‘Black Bloc’ began smashing windows and burning police cars, according to several on scene reports.

One blogger noted that “the police car may have been abandoned there by the Toronto Police as a distraction (or as an excuse for agent provocateurs to act violently).”

Terry Burrows in a Global Research report asserts, “As events unfold, it is becoming increasingly clear that the ‘Black Bloc’ are undercover police operatives engaged in purposeful provocations to eclipse and invalidate legitimate G20 citizen protest by starting a riot.”

One camera caught a Black Bloc member changing his clothes after the riot, revealing a clean-cut man with a military style haircut:


http://www.youtube.com/v/Lw5fmzI0wus&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xd0d0d0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1

The Globe and Mail published photos of Black Bloc members wreaking havoc. Burrows notes the new, military style shoes:

 

Whether or not Black Bloc is a group of paid police provocateurs, at least one corporate media station in Canada, CTV News, assured its audience that the bulk of protestors behaved peacefully, calling it a party atmosphere. In response to police brutality, protesters sang O Canada, hoping to shame police into good behavior.

Regardless of the violence, the message of resistance against G20’s predatory capitalism which is destroying the biosphere and indigenous cultures penetrated the media, as this report reveals:  

“Activists and community organizers represented rank-and-file labour, migrant justice, indigenous solidarity, anti-police brutality, ecological justice, anti-war, anti-occupation, queer and trans justice, anti-poverty, anti-capitalist, feminist, anarchist, and many more struggles and campaigns. We are united together, learning from each other and inspired by each other. We are rooted in our communities.”

Iran Warns it Will Retaliate Inspection of Ships

June 28th, 2010 by Global Research

Teheran — Iran warned it would retaliate inspection of its cargo ships as a result of recent sanctions approved in the United States parodying the Council of “Anti-Security.”

The head of Maritime Transport of the Islamic Republic, Mohammad Hossein Dajmar, affirmed that “to protect its national interests Iran will insure the use of its legal rights and retaliate if an Iranian ship is inspected”.

In statements to the state news agency, IRNA, Dajmar warned about the danger to the Persian nation of the deployment of United States and Israeli war ship in the Persian Gulf allegedly to enforce a UN resolution.

He added that through many international measures all nations have the right to protect their territorial waters and intimated the possibility that “the nation can inspect ships suspected to confront those nations that support the sanctions.”

Under strong pressure from Washington the Security Council approved, on June 9 a package of punitive measures against Teheran for its refusal to halt its nuclear program that it insists is for civilian use and includes enrichment of uranium.

The penalties include restricting development of maritime navigation and others such as the banking and military industry authorizing countries to supervise cargo ships that travel from or to Iran in its own territorial waters.

The Iranian religious hierarchy, for its part, attacked the UN for submitting to pressure of western powers while the Foreign Ministry confirmed sending letters to members of the Security Council protesting their support of the resolution.

A Muslim leader, Ayatollah Kazem Seddiqi, said during his prayers on Friday that he regretted the position of the world organization “that demonstrated it does not exist and that its Security Council is an anti-security council.”

He emphasized that Iran will not only resist applications of these sanctions but will also develop more resistance and solidarity to confront the growing hostility since the triumph of the Ayatollah revolution in 1979.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also expressed Friday his optimism for the future of the world stating that “domination of arrogant powers over other nations is withering out” that is also a dark page in history.”

The commandant of the naval forces of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, Ali Fadavi, added that his country “will take the necessary measures of retaliation if a cargo ship destined to Iran is inspected by the West.”

Rwanda Genocide: U.S. Citizen Falsely Accused

June 28th, 2010 by Keith Harmon Snow

On June 24, 2010, U.S. agents in Manchester, New Hampshire arrested Rwandan genocide survivor Beatrice Munyenyezi, a Hutu and a U.S. citizen since 2004. Charged with lying on her immigration documents to conceal her alleged major role in genocide in Rwanda, Ms. Munyenyezi is also charged with rape as a war and genocide crime. Meanwhile, a federal prosecutor for the case is known for misconduct, falsification of evidence and perjury. Is it a crime to have a FACEBOOK profile? Is it a crime to use a computer?

“If the road would speak, then I wouldn’t be scared, if the birds would sing, then I would vow to never vanish,” wrote Beatrice Munyenyezi, “I wouldn’t be lost in the woods, a place where sound and noise is unheard of, and the sky, the sky is not even there to guide you, to guide me.”

So begins Beatrice Munyenyezi’s personalized account as a refugee who survived the slaughter of millions of people in Rwanda, in Zaire/Congo, and in neighboring countries, between 1990 and 1998—always erroneously defined as “the 1994 Rwanda genocide” where brutality is universally attributed to the Hutu ethnic group and Tutsis are always the only victims.

Ms. Munyenyezi has been transforming her ordeal of unspeakable brutality and terror into a book tentatively titled Life in the Middle of Nowhere: Surviving Genocide in Rwanda and Zaire. It is her version of Surviving the Slaughter: The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire (2004) a renowned non-fiction book published in Europe by Marie Beatrice Umutesi, a Hutu and genocide survivor.

On Thursday June 24, 2010, this project abruptly came to a halt when Federal agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confiscated all of Ms. Munyenyezi’s texts, notes, documents, computers and other personal items. (ICE is the largest investigative agency in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.) Now her private testimony as a refugee and survivor will likely be used against her in another case of politically motivate genocide charges.

The U.S. Department of Justice has suggested that Beatrice Munyenyezi might be deported to face genocide charges in Rwanda. But Ms. Munyenyezi will be a milestone case: the first international legal proceedings in the United States involving a female of any ethnicity or nationality charged with rape as a genocide and war crime.

On June 24, 2010, Beatrice Munyenyezi (MOON’-yen-yezi) was arrested in Manchester, New Hampshire (USA) and charged, according to U.S. prosecutors, with “procuring U.S. citizenship unlawfully by misrepresenting her activities during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.”

According to the government of Rwanda, Beatrice Munyenyezi, 40, allegedly “participated in, committed, ordered, oversaw, conspired to, aided and abetted, assisted in and directed persecution, kidnapping, rape and murder during the Rwandan genocide of 1994.”

These are generic genocide charges used by the Rwandan military regime against all Hutus.

According to U.S. prosecutors, Ms. Munyenyezi allegedly concealed these facts in order to obtain immigration and naturalization benefits and lied about her connection to the genocide when seeking citizenship. Ms. Munyenyezi’s husband and mother-in-law are in custody at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania on genocide charges.

If convicted of the two counts of procuring U.S. citizenship unlawfully, Munyenyezi faces up to 10 years imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, along with revocation of her U.S. Citizenship.

Beatrice Munyenyezi survived the invasion of Byumba Prefecture by Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) guerillas in 1990, and the years of RPF persecution and genocide that saw entire Hutu villages in Byumba razed, massacres of scores of thousands of people, and the internal displacement of some 2 million Hutus into a life-and-death refugee existence inside Rwanda between October 1990 and April 1994.

Ms. Munyenyezi then survived the so-called ‘100 days of genocide’ in Rwanda from April to July 1994. She fled Rwanda with family members on July 18, 1994, part of the massive exodus of millions of Rwandans, mostly innocent Hutu women and children, after the RPF won the civil war in Rwanda in July, to eastern Zaire (Dem. Rep. of Congo), where she survived the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Hutu civilians by the RPF.

Contrary to popular propaganda, the sound bite claiming that the RPF ‘stopped the genocide against Tutsis’ in Rwanda is a gross mischaracterization of the nature of genocide versus civil war in Rwanda. It is also a sound bite that deflects attention from the RPF role in mass atrocities in Rwanda and Congo. The Kagame regime is able to get away with anything it wants—plunder minerals, arrest and torture opponents, persecute refugees—because Kagame has provided the Pentagon its biggest centralized base for the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM.

Ms. Munyenyezi fled to Kenya at the advice of her brother, Jean-Marie Vianney Higiro. In Tanzania and then Kenya she survived RPF agents hunting refugees and assassinating dissidents (including former RPF official Seth Sendashonga).

Evacuated to the United States in March 1998, Beatrice Munyenyezi was first assisted by a Catholic charity in New Hampshire. She later worked for the Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which owns and manages 1,271 public housing apartments for low-income families, elderly, and adults with disabilities, from March 2001 to March 2005. MHRA spokeswoman Michelle Desmond would not comment on Ms. Munyenyezi’s service record, but she has regularly worked with other groups to assist refugees of many nationalities. She taught herself English and pursued degrees in a local community College and at the University of New Hampshire.

The Associated Press and other news outlets splashed Ms. Munyenyezi’s arrest across the news on June 24, 2010. “An estimated 800,000 people were murdered during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, which took place over the course of approximately 100 days,” these outlets universally reported.

The official narrative on ‘genocide’—distilled to the simple sound-bite above—is maintained by the current government of Rwanda and its military, political and economic partners to silence debate and manufacture a version of events that protects the perpetrators and criminalizes victims like Beatrice Munyenyezi and her family members.

The military dictatorship in Rwanda is run by President Paul Kagame and his closest military associates from the former Rwandan Patriotic Front/Army (RPF), now known as the Rwanda Defense Forces. In October 1990, the RPF guerrilla army invaded northern Rwanda from neighboring Uganda. Over the next four years the RPF terrorized Rwandan civilians as they slowly seized the country and overthrew the Hutu-majority government of President Juvenal Habyarimana.

Predominantly comprised of hardened Uganda guerrillas of the Tutsi ethnicity who fought to bring Uganda’s strongman Yoweri Museveni to power in Uganda (1980-1985), these guerrillas, backed by London and Washington, have perpetrated massive genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity on millions of innocent civilians in Uganda, Rwanda and the Dem. Rep. of Congo.

PERSECUTING OPPOSITION AND SURVIVORS

On June 24, 2010, the Kagame regime in Rwanda violently suppressed dissent in Rwanda as the three primary political parties standing in opposition to President Paul Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front saw their members and leaders physically harassed, barred from leaving their residences, and in some cases arrested. Reports were of ‘mobs’ of government supporters at each location where the harassment occurred.

This follows an assassination attempt last week in South Africa of exiled Rwandan General Faustin Nyamwasa, who fled Rwanda after being accused of opposing the Kagame government. Nyamwasa is one of over 15 leading military officers and Ambassadors who have been imprisoned or forced into exile in recent months.

On June 24, Rwandan journalist Jean-Leonard Rugambage, from an opposition newspaper, was shot dead by assailants when returning to his home in Kigali.

On May 23, U.S. attorney and ICTR defense counsel Peter Erlinder was arrested and illegally detained for twenty days in Rwanda. Mr. Erlinder flew to Rwanda to represent his client Victoire Ingabire, a Hutu woman also persecuted by the Kagame regime. Erlinder, charged with ‘genocide denial’ and denied bail twice, was released on medical grounds after 21 days incarceration but faces charges with punishment up to 25 years.

Victoire Ingabire arrived in Rwanda in January 2010 to prepare to contest the upcoming presidential elections. She and her aides were immediately arrested and she has been charged with genocide denial and other thought crimes.

The military and intelligence apparatus directly run by President Paul Kagame maintains elite networks of death squads inside and outside Rwanda. Tasked with hunting and neutralizing any dissidents, critics, intellectuals, writers, human rights activists, or other ‘opposition’ to Kagame’s regime, these agents operate freely throughout Africa, Europe, Canada and the United States. Anyone critical of the Kagame military regime is falsely accused of involvement of genocide, ‘genocide negationism’ or ‘genocide denial’.

The Kagame government has infiltrated agents into western countries posing as asylum seekers:

“The Kagame government is trying to frame my sister now,” says Professor Jean-Marie Vianney Higiro. “They are trying to get to me. They have tried to accuse me of lying on my immigration forms, but I was evacuated from Rwanda [1994] as a family member of a U.S. citizen. Probably I will be arrested soon.”

Jean-Marie Vianney Higiro is a U.S. citizen who was evacuated by the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda and U.S. marines from Bujumbura, Burundi, on April 9, 1994.

The war in Rwanda was escalated by the Rwandan Patriotic Front on April 6, 1994, after the plane carrying Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down by the RPF with surface-to-air missiles, killing both presidents, their chiefs of staff, the French pilots and other top Rwandan and Burundian officials. The United States and its allies, including the United Nations and the Rwanda Tribunal (ICTR), have blocked all investigations into this major act of international terrorism.


The Rwandan Patriotic Front and Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) marched through Byumba Province clearing the land of its people, whether Hutu or Tutsi. Attacks against Byumba began with the RPF invasion of October 1990, another act of international terrorism that remains opaque and unpunished, though it set the stage for the death of more than ten million people in Central Africa since.

“I was born in Northern Rwanda, a province of Byumba, a place that perhaps many of you have never heard of,” the introduction to Ms. Munyenyezi’s book continues. “Yes, it is in the middle of nowhere. It is a place where your cry, echoes and echoes but still is not heard, a place where you cry and the tears refuse to come, a place where you wait for someone, anyone to come and save you, but instead the ghost of your failure, of your misery shows up on your doorstep. No one can hear your cries, your sobs, for you are alone.”

Associate Professor of Communications at Western New England College in Springfield, MA, Dr. Higiro is one of few remaining Hutu intellectuals not arrested or killed by the RPF regime. He has been a constant source of tension to Kagame, who in turn maintains intense pressure on the U.S. government—its leading military and economic partner—to arrest Higiro.

Dr. Higiro was critical of both the Habyarimana and Kagame governments, and he has published articles and given talks about the media climate just prior to the events of April-July 1994, and about the commodification of genocide used to advance the political and economic objectives of the Kagame military regime and to hide the RPF’s organized criminal activities and war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Prior to April 1994, Higiro was director of the Rwandan Information Office (ORINFOR). The RPF government has tried to arrest and extradite Higiro since Dr. Higiro’s refusal to accept the RPF government appointment of Minister of Information, in July 1994, after seeing reports of RPF massacres against scores of thousands of Hutus.

“They arrested my sister Prudence Kantengwa in Boston in 2008. Her case resulted in lengthy trials costing U.S. taxpayers a lot of money. Now they have arrested Beatrice. But she [Beatrice] was not a government official in Rwanda, she was not with the Interahamwe [militias], she is just a young Rwandan woman who survived the genocide and made it to America.”

FALSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE

Prudence Kantengwa was arrested in Boston in 2008. Also a Hutu and the sister of Jean-Marie Vianney Higiro and Beatrice Munyenyezi, Ms. Kantengwa applied for asylum in the United States in 2001, but she was initially denied.

U.S. immigration judge Eliza C. Klein granted asylum to Prudence Kantengwa against the U.S. government prosecutor’s wishes. U.S. immigration then appealed to the Immigration Review Board who confirmed Judge Klein’s ruling in June of this year.

But prior to the first favorable asylum ruling by Judge Klein, the U.S. immigration prosecutors saw that the Kantengwa asylum case was not going their way. ICE then arrested and accused Prudence Kantengwa of lying on her visa application. The resulting U.S. Federal Criminal Court case is ongoing.

Jeffrey Auerhahn is a U.S. prosecutor on Prudence Kantengwa’s criminal court case. The case was investigated and reported in detail by Boston’s WBUR News journalists David Boeri, Lisa Tobin, Jesse Costa and Andrew Phelps. “Federal Judge Mark Wolf called the conduct of Jeffrey Auerhahn ‘A fraud upon the court’,” they reported.

U.S. prosecutor Jeffrey Auerhahn is one of two federal prosecutors on the Beatrice Munyenyezi case, also a Federal Criminal Court case because Beatrice Munyenyezi is now a U.S. citizen and the asylum system no longer can be used against her. Auerhahn was never disciplined or disbarred for his unscrupulous actions. The case raised troubling questions from critics—including judges—who worry that withholding evidence has become a tactic of some federal prosecutors.

“Unfortunately, this U.S. prosecutor Mr. Auerhahn is still exhibiting the same misconduct in my case,” says Prudence Kantengwa. “The discovery process, which usually takes no more than 3 months, has taken more than a year and is still going on because prosecutors have refused to share the information they have that contradicts their allegations. And my guess is that they are hiding written information—such as investigation made about me which took 6 months before I was granted a visa to the US in 2001—and plan to bring witnesses in collaboration with the Rwanda government [whom] they have trained on what to fabricate against me.” 

Rwandan asylum hearings in the U.S., Canada and Europe also suppress evidence that would exonerate the accused. Instead, prosecutors and judges rely on disinformation and falsified evidence, including the U.S. State Department’s annual Human Rights Country Reports on Rwanda, which are extraordinary documents that suppress critical facts and information and protect the Kagame regime.

U.S. asylum hearings also rely heavily on testimonies collected by Rwandan military and intelligence officials using intimidation, bribery, torture and the threat of being accused of genocide and tried before the so-called ‘people’s courts’ in Rwanda, the Gacaca courts. Communities and family members in Rwanda are also retried for the same offenses at Gacaca trials where intimidation is used to force a verdict that satisfies the Kagame regime. People are also routinely disappeared in Rwanda, and assassinated in other countries.

In United States of America vrs. Francois Karake, et al, a U.S. court dismissed all charges brought by the U.S. and Rwanda governments against three Rwandan defendants, all Hutus, accused of the murder of two U.S. and other tourists in Uganda’s Bwindi National Park in March 1999. The investigation spanned four years and involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ascertained that the defendant’s testimonies had been extracted through physical torture with the involvement of U.S. agents. The prisoners were incarcerated and interrogated at Kami Military Barracks, notorious for RPF torture operations, in Rwanda.

Terror is a strong incentive to make people collaborate with Rwandan government officials to produce convincing documentary ‘evidence’. In the fall of 2009, Human Rights Watch documented the case where more than 300 Rwandans fled southern Rwanda to Burundi in fear of being falsely accused or genocide, sent back to Gacaca for retrial, or disappeared.

“Jeffrey Auerhahn continues to work as a federal prosecutor in Boston,” WBUR News David Boeri reported in February 2010. “He’s been praised by the last U.S. Attorney. There’s never been a public action by the Justice Department to discipline him.”

The evidence used by U.S. prosecutor Jeffrey Auerhahn against Prudence Kantengwa was in part marshaled in Rwanda by investigator Thomas Brian Andersen Jr., a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Boston, MA.

Agent Anderson traveled to Rwanda on U.S. taxpayer’s money to investigate the case of Prudence Kantengwa for the Federal criminal hearing. In his notarized affidavit to the court, Andersen provides facts that seriously discredit his claim to expertise on Rwanda or the case in question.

  • Paragraph 12: “The vast majority of the Hutu elite, including the assassinated president, were from Byumba.” President Juvenal Habyarimana was from Gisenyi Prefecture, northwestern Rwanda, not Byumba Prefecture, northeastern Rwanda; the vast majority of the Hutu elite did not come from Byumba either; if anything Byumba was one of the least privileged provinces even though it was considered as President Habyarimana’s fiefdom.
  • Paragraph 12: “The prime minister, who was a member of the RPF [Rwandan Patriotic Front] Tutsi party, was murdered.” Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana was a Hutu, never a member of the RPF party, but a member of the MDR, or Mouvement Démocratique Républicain; further, the prime minister’s murder remains shrouded in questions about RPF and United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda (UNAMIR) troop involvement as extensive ICTR trial documents make clear; the assumption and allegation that she was murdered by Hutu extremists is another example of the investigator’s prejudice based on news media, falsified stories, and falsified human rights reports, and RPF propaganda;
  • Paragraph 12: “[Prudence] Kantengwa was married to Athanse Munyemana, who was a minister in the extremist Hutu government.” Athanse Munyemana was never a Hutu government minister: he was a state intelligence bureau official and a magistrate who could not have belonged to a political party under the Rwandan constitution of 1991.

ICE AGENT THOMAS BRIAN ANDERSEN

In his June 2010 request for a warrant for search and seizure of property belonging to Beatrice Munyenyezi, ICE special agent Thomas Brian Andersen Jr. provided an affidavit that is a travesty of justice. He does not anywhere discuss his relationship with the Rwandan government, but nonetheless declares his independence from, for example, the Rwandan regime’s Directorate of Military Intelligence: it is impossible to pursue the investigations he claims to have performed independently without the involvement, oversight, or monitoring of the notorious DMI.

Agent Andersen does not elucidate his relationship to Rwandan ‘genocide survivor’ organizations IBUKA or IVEGA, both known to be populated with bogus ‘survivors’ coached, paid and protected by the RPF government.

Basing his statements from witnesses whom he purportedly interviewed in Rwanda, purportedly without government interference, these being people whom he claims are independent and authentic witnesses, authentic genocide survivors and authentic convicted genocidaires, special agent Thomas Brian Andersen then testified:

“I believe these witnesses are reliable because they are eyewitnesses for whom it is a great personal risk to submit to being a witness and because there is no motivation to provide false information, given that many of these witnesses reside in Rwanda and have no contact with Munyenyezi.”

The above statement indicates that Andersen has no understanding of events in Rwanda in general, and, in particular, no understanding of: [1] the politics of genocide accusations; [2] motivations such as land, housing and other property disputes; [3] motivations such as personal or economic rivalry; [4] intimidation, accusation and the threat of physical violence used to coerce and fabricate witnesses and testimonies; [5] financial and other incentives used to induce testimonies that suit the Rwandan regime; [6] the motivations of Hutu prisoners accused or already convicted of genocide to produce false testimonies against other Hutus.

The fact that witnesses ‘reside in Rwanda’ is not evidence of their absence of bias, but rather evidence of their propensity toward bias. In particular, thousands of Ugandans currently occupy Rwandan homes and lands taken by force by the RPF from previous landowners of both Hutu and Tutsi ethnicity. (If agent Andersen went to Butembo in North Kivu province in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo he would find thousands of Rwandan RPF Tutsis occupying homes and lands there; it would be impossible and outrageous to conclude that their presence in Congo substantiated evidence of their veracity as ‘witnesses’.) 

Paragraph 11 of Andersen’s affidavit reveals the real reason that President Paul Kagame seeks to punish and imprison Beatrice Munyenyezi, with ICE support, and why Rwandan officials are pressing the U.S. government to intimidate, arrest and silence her:

Over the several days in February 2006, Munyenyezi testified in her husband’s and mother-in-law’s trials at the ICTR.”

ICE agent Andersen offers ‘evidence’ of Beatrice Munyenyezi’s alleged criminality primarily based on guilt by association with her husband and mother-in-law, both involved in ongoing trials at the ICTR. Further, he alleges by association that Beatrice Munyenyezi, a witness who testified in her family member’s defense at these ICTR trials in 2006, is complicit in genocide merely because she testified on her sister’s behalf. Icing the cake of injustice, special agent Andersen alleges in his affidavit (paragraph 11) that Beatrice Munyenyezi committed perjury in her ICTR testimony. Finally, the modus operandi of the Kagame regime and RPF military is to arrest, convict, re-educate (through intimidation and terror) or disappear anyone who testifies contrary to the wishes of the Kagame regime or contrary to the established ‘Rwanda genocide’ narrative, as did Munyenyezi.

In paragraph 12, agent Andersen claims that Beatrice Munyenyezi manned roadblocks, organized killings, oversaw rapes, and gave public speeches inciting mass murder and rape and all the standard crimes that the Kagame regimes uses to criminalize Hutu people. On its face, the evidence produced by agent Andersen appears irrefutable. However, Mr. Andersen does not have all the facts, and it seems he has very few of them, and certain facts are being reserved for the defense arguments of Beatrice Munyenyezi in a court of law.

In attempting to make a case that Beatrice Munyenyezi lied on her immigration forms, ICE special agent Thomas Brain Anderson adduced that she was a member of the Rwandan political party Movement Republicain pour le Developpment (MRND), the party of President Juvenal Habyarimana that has been castigated as an extremist Hutu genocide organization, and she did not check the box declaring her membership in ANY organization.

However, everyone in Rwanda was required to be a member of the MRND party for many years, beginning in 1975, soon after President Habyarimana seized power (1973), and lasting until 1991, when the Habyarimana government opened political space for opposition parties. Also, the fact that your brother and father are members of a certain political party does not confirm that you are also a member of that political party, certainly not in Rwanda, certainly not in the years between 1991 and 1994, when allegiances, alliances and memberships were highly in flux and highly politicized.

Additionally, any Hutu refugee fleeing the RPF terror apparatus and genocide against Hutus would have been suicidal to identify themselves as MRND members after July 1994. Further, the assumption or suggestion that the U.S. State Department and its immigration and naturalization service agents would be impartial towards Hutus is unreasonable, and the immigration forms clearly take no account of the extreme conditions of mistrust, terror and basic survival that genocide and war crimes survivors (including Beatrice Munyenyezi) were subject to at the time.

In fact, special agent Andersen later confirms that he interviewed the official who granted Beatrice Munyenyezi her naturalization status would not have done so had he ‘known the truth about’ her statements—supposing she admitted she was a member of the MRND party—he would have denied her application. (The accusations of her ‘involvement in genocide’ etc. are not herein accepted to be amongst the set of ‘truthful’ statements that Ms. Munyenyezi might have provided).

Special agent Thomas Brian Andersen also unreasonably concludes that Beatrice Munyenyezi must have lied in answering the question “have you ever committed a crime of moral turpitude”? Here Andersen jumps from being an ICE investigator to judge and jury against Beatrice Munyenyezi with this conclusive statement of absolutes:

“In fact, as described herein, Munyenyezi had participated in the genocide, and had committed a number of individual crimes, including the assistance of murder, rape, assault and theft, against the Tutsi minority.”

Perhaps the most outrageous statement of all, applied herein against Rwandan genocide survivor Beatrice Munyenyezi, is the Paragraph 28:

“In addition, on or about January 31, 2005, Munyenyezi was interviewed by the New Hampshire affiliate of National Public Radio to discuss the challenges which face African refugees in the Manchester, New Hampshire area. During the interview Munyenyezi said that she escaped a war in Rwanda with her family and husband. Munyenyezi described how there is discrimination against her in New Hampshire as an African refugee, and she also described herself as a ‘fighter’ against adversity.”

Now it is a crime to be interviewed on National Public Radio? Or, is it a crime to be interviewed on NPR in New Hampshire only? Clearly it is a crime to ‘escape a war’ when the top officials for the victor’s of that war, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, have been internationally indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. But the coup de grace comes in the possibility that the ‘crime’ or ‘infraction’ or violation that Beatrice Munyenyezi has committed in special agent Thomas Brian Andersen’s mind is to have admitted so shamelessly that “she described herself as a ‘fighter’ against adversity.”

The outrageous crimes of Beatrice Munyenyezi don’t stop there however. In paragraph 29:

“Munyenyezi also appears to use a computer to correspond with others. An Internet search related to Munyenyezi reveals that on or about May 11, 2009 Munyenyezi submitted a story for publication to the National Endowment for the Arts website related to how she is persevering after her experience in Africa. In addition, a public Internet search as of June 21, 2010 reveals that Munyenyezi has a FACEBOOK account and is virtually connected with several on-line friends.”

Is it the appearance of using a computer or the actual use of a computer to correspond with others that agent Andersen finds incriminating? Are Africans not supposed to know how to use computers, or is it only Rwandan Hutus (even U.S. citizens) who are not supposed to use computers and/or correspond with others? Is having a FACEBOOK profile one of Beatrice Munyenyezi’s crimes? Or is her crime that she is “virtually connected with several on-line friends?”

Amongst the most egregious examples of the biases of special agent Thomas Brian Andersen—in favor of the current Rwandan Patriotic Front regime, and against Beatrice Munyenyezi, a former Rwandan national and a person of Hutu ethnicity, now a U.S. citizen, comes in Paragraph 35:

“Based on my training and experience and my discussions with other agents who have investigated similar offenses, I have reason to believe that people who were active participants in the Rwandan genocide were themselves Hutu extremists and that they have maintained an active Diaspora throughout the world in the hope of returning to Rwanda for the purpose of overthrowing the current government and re-instituting the policy of genocide, ‘to complete the work’ of killing every last Tutsi. To promote that effort and prove their long-term commitment to the cause—i.e., the extermination of the Tutsi race—Hutu extremists, like Munyenyezi, maintain documents, photographs and memorabilia, which link them to their past and their expected role in the future. The documents, photographs and memorabilia are particularly important to Hutu extremists because, to them, the items prove that the extermination of Tutsi is an act of self-defense.”

According to the above reasoning, every Hutu is a genocidaire; every Hutu must be denied any memorabilia of their past or hope for the future; and every Hutu dreams of exterminating Tutsis, and is nefariously plotting “the extermination of the Tutsi race.”

Thomas Brian Andersen’s bias is exhibited throughout the document, beginning with his summary of Rwandan history, e.g. in paragraph 5, where he destroys all context of Hutu-Tutsi relations in favor of the ‘Tutsis as victims’ narrative advanced by the RPF and its allies. He demonstrates his lack of knowledge of the simplest discernable facts, such as the October 1, 1990 date of the illegal RPF invasion of Rwanda (in paragraph 6 he states: “In or about the early 1990’s, the RPF invaded Rwanda”). He uses the label ‘Hutu extremist’ to mask his hatred against Hutu instilled in him by the current government in Rwanda and its one-sided historiography.

U.S. AGENT PERJURY, FBI DECEPTION

Did Thomas Brian Andersen commit perjury—at least once—in his affidavit signed June 22, 2010? And did the FBI use  deception to gain access to Beatrice Munyenyezi’s home, under conditions of her trust and cooperation on an international matter completely unrelated to her asylum status, with the intent of surveillance of both Beatrice Munyenyezi and her sister Prudence Kantengwa.

In paragraph 36 agent Andersen states: “I am aware of the close relationship between Munyenyezi and her sister Prudence Kantengwa. I am also familiar with the ongoing proceedings before the Immigration Court related to Munyenyezi’s sister, Kantengwa, and I know that Munyenyezi had appeared in court during those proceedings and was announced as a witness for her sister. In addition, on January 13, 2010, the FBI visited Munyenyezi at her residence at 73 Goffe Street, Manchester New Hampshire, and they were invited into the home. While present, the FBI noticed that Kantengwa was present at the home, and appeared to be living or at least sleeping there.”

To begin with, agent Andersen is more than simply “familiar with the ongoing proceedings” related to Prudence Kantengwa but he does not disclose these and instead diminishes their importance: He is also the ICE agent who has investigated the Kantengwa case in Rwanda and his investigations, affidavits and testimonies are evidence for the Kantengwa case in Boston. So there is an absence of full disclosure in this affidavit to New Hampshire U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Lynch, who is likely very unfamiliar with the Boston cases or deeper issues.

Second, special agent Thomas Brian Andersen has added a very curious footnote to his affidavit that begs explanation. From December 18, 2009 to January 10, 2010, Munyenyezi was traveling to and from Arusha, Tanzania, Nairobi, Kenya, and the United States. On her return entry to the U.S. Munyenyezi volunteered information about, apparently, Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal (Trevor William Forrest), who was detained in Kenya during the same time period (creating a barrage of western mass media stories about his supposed terrorist profile). As noted in agent Andersen’s peculiar footnote number 3, Beatrice Munyenyezi was interrogated on her return to Boston Logan Airport on January 10, 2010:

3 “At the time of her entry, Munyenyezi told the Customs and Border Protection personnel that she had important information to relate pertaining to someone she believes she saw in Kenya who had been in the news recently as an associate of a contemporary terrorist group. Munyenyezi was told that the FBI would follow up with her on a later date.”

When FBI agents showed up at Beatrice Munyenyezi’s Manchester NH home on January 13, 2010, it was not in the context of ascertaining her asylum status, as ICE agent Andersen falsely indicates, but rather as the follow-up to Munyenyezi’s volunteered information at Logan airport. However, based on the above details, it seems that Beatrice Munyenyezi had long since been under surveillance, and the “invitation to her home” was used as a cover for surveillance of both Munyenyezi and her sister Prudence Kantengwa.

It seems that Beatrice Munyenyezi’s attempt to demonstrate her allegiance to the U.S. war on terror backfired and was used against her. More importantly, it is clear that the search warrant of June 22, 2010 was used for an ICE fishing expedition with the hope that something incriminating (a computer, manuscript of surviving genocide, old photographs or other memorabilia) might be discovered and used against either Beatrice Munyenyezi or Prudence Kantengwa or both.

But the surveillance was much more comprehensive. FBI agents were not only watching and photographing the Munyenyezi home, as agent Andersen indicates, but they were also spying on her, she alleges, by planting plain-clothes FBI operatives in her political science classes at the University of New Hampshire, where she was enrolled in an advanced degree program, in the spring of 2010.

Is Beatrice Munyenyezi a suspected terrorist? It appears that all Hutus outside of Rwanda have been designated de facto ‘terrorists’ by the U.S. government in its alliance with the Kagame regime.

Third, the evidence of Thomas Brain Andersen’s perjury in his June 22, 2010 affidavit comes in his paragraph 36 statement: “…and I know that Munyenyezi had appeared in court during those [her sister Prudence Kantengwa’s immigration court] proceedings and was announced as a witness for her sister.”

However, Beatrice Munyenyezi was never a witness at the immigration trial of her sister Prudence Kantengwa. Instead, the trial was interrupted when U.S. prosecutor Mary Kelly noticed Beatrice Munyenyezi sitting in courtroom taking notes. The judge had no problem with note-taking by Beatrice Munyenyezi. U.S. prosecutor Mary Kelly then apparently complained that she had planned to call Beatrice Munyenyezi as a witness. After discussions with the defense lawyer for Prudence Kantengwa, and a few questions to Beatrice Munyenyezi in a private chamber, the U.S. prosecutor dropped the issue of Munyenyezi’s presence in the courtroom. Munyenyezi was never registered as a witness by either side, and she never testified.

ICE special agent Thomas Brian Andersen misrepresents the presence of Beatrice Munyenyezi at her sister’s immigration trial to exaggerate a greater sense of collusion and conspiracy between these two ‘Hutu extremists’, no matter that the two women are sisters, or that it is common for someone to testify in behalf of a family member. If special agent Andersen was present in the court on the day that Beatrice Munyenyezi appeared to support her sister Prudence, either he was sleeping through this disturbance in court proceedings or he lied directly. If he was sleeping, he obviously fabricated this ‘evidence’ used as sworn testimony. If he was not present, then he used hearsay—incorrect information related by someone else—as sworn testimony in his affidavit.

An evaluation of the overall methodology employed by special agent Andersen, according to his own affidavit, suggests he has little or no training in international human rights and genocide investigations. Indeed, Mr. Andersen has been with the Boston Bureau of ICE for approximately two years, coming from five years duty with law enforcement in Vermont State. After less than two years with ICE in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, special agent Thomas Brian Andersen, a Vermont State cop, purports to have gained expertise on Rwanda and ‘genocide’ (as related in paragraphs 5-21 of his affidavit) and the operations of the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda that ICTR defense attorneys—trained in human rights law, some having more than ten years full-time and dedicated experience with ICTR trials and the government of Rwanda—would never claim.

All the genocide charges in the Thomas Brian Andersen affidavit signed June 22, 2010 are generic charges that have been leveled over and over, against all Hutus, and the Thomas Brian Andersen is not credible or impartial: he should be rejected as a witness in all Rwanda hearings.

Instead, special agent Thomas Brian Andersen should be deposed under oath and interrogated about his relationship to RPF officials and RPF intelligence agents, He should be interrogated about his relationship to the Rwanda ‘genocide’ front-organizations IBUKA and IVEGA. And he should be interrogated about ties between ICE, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Directorate of Military Intelligence and other secretive organizations of the state of Rwanda.

PUBLIC BRANDING OF GENOCIDAIRES

As in the asylum trials of Dr. Vincent Bajinya and three other Rwandan Hutu men in the U.K., and Dr. Leopold Munyakazi, in Maryland, VA, where all defendants were accused genocidaires, and similarly for every other Rwandan asylum hearing in the U.S., Europe or Canada, any investigators traveling to Rwanda for the defense discovery would not be able to pursue independent investigations. Even cases at the ICTR in neighboring Arusha, Tanzania, have seen serious interference from the Rwanda regime. Similarly, ICE agent Thomas Brian Anderson would not have been able to travel to Rwanda without the direct involvement and highest authorization of the RPF regime, and his actions would have been monitored from beginning to end.

Usually the RPF regime provides ‘handlers’ that manage investigations and spoon-fed investigators with information fabricated or cleared by the regime. Rwanda experts for the defense at asylum hearings, including lawyer Peter Erlinder and Filip Reyntjens, a prominent Belgian academic, have testified to the problems of the Gacaca hearings, the manipulation and threats against witnesses, and the interference by the Kagame regime in court cases in Rwanda and at the ICTR.

Dr. Vincent Bajinya was arrested in London, many years after he arrived and gained citizenship in England and was framed.

Dr. Leopold Munyakazi was a professor employed at Goucher College in Maryland until 2008, when he was arrested by ICE agents after making a public speech decrying the abuses of the Kagame regime, the falsification of genocide charges and the lies of the official RPF genocide narrative.

Dr. Munyakazi was framed by the Kagame regime and publicly branded as a genocidaire by a short-lived NBC News television program that sought prime-time ratings by tracking down and ‘exposing’ supposed genocidaires. The program was titled ‘The Wanted’, and the morality of ‘good versus evil’ was underscored by the choice of the show’s commentator, Scott Tyler, an ex-Navy Seal, while the wanted man, Dr. Leopold Munyakazi, was their embodiment of evil. The zealous NBC News team acted as accuser, judge and jury against Dr. Munyakazi.

U.S. prosecutors in Rwanda asylum cases are generally very ignorant of the politics of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Rwanda, or they have been irreconcilably swayed by the propaganda of the Kagame regime and its partners, which is everywhere in the western media.

In two related U.S. court cases (where the Rwandan defendants’ hearings are underway and they do not wish to be named) two U.S. prosecutors traveled to Rwanda and later testified in court to that it was very easy to get the information they wanted, they did not need a clearance from the Rwanda government, and that they went to the countryside and met witnesses without government assistance or monitoring. They even went to prisons to talk to prisoners without Rwanda government help, they claimed, and reported to the court that conditions of prisoners were excellent.

While U.S. government prosecutors who have worked in Rwanda under these supposed ‘independent’ conditions have not been deposed under oath, their claims are impossible under the current military regime in Rwanda.

THE GENOCIDE RAPE CHARGE

Beatrice Munyenyezi’s husband, Shalom Ntahobari, and mother-in-law, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, remain in detention at the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania. Both have been on trial at the ICTR for more than ten years and are awaiting decisions on genocide and rape charges for more than a year now.

The same ‘Tutsi victims’ of rape who testified in the ICTR hearing against Shalom Ntahobari also allegedly testified in the case of Hutu businessman Désiré Munyaneza, the first alleged Rwanda genocidaire tried in Canada, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in October 2009. In Shalom Ntahobari’s case, the women could not even recognize the defendant in court, no matter their allegations of having been repeatedly raped.

Pauline Nyiramasuhuko was the first woman internationally charged with rape as a war crime or act of genocide. The former Minister of Family Affairs, she is accused of ordering Interahamwe militia to rape members of the Tutsi minority.

These rape charges were handed down immediately after then First Lady Hillary Clinton visited the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR). When Ms. Clinton pledged $600,000 to be paid after the first ICTR rape conviction was delivered, indictments at the ICTR were modified to include rape charges against most top alleged genocidaires on trial.

The case against Pauline Nyiramasuhuko was sensationalized in an eight-page feature in the New York Times Magazine (September 15, 2002). Penned by Peter Landesman and titled “The Minister of Rape: How Could a Woman Incite Rwanda’s Sex-Crime Genocide?” the magazine ran an unflattering and blurred photo of Ms. Nyiramasuhuko bespectacled face on the cover.

“The 1994 genocide, one of the worst mass slaughters in recorded history,” Landesman later wrote in “Out of Madness, A Matriarchy,” another fictional account, this time in Mother Jones magazine, “was triggered by the assassination of Rwanda’s Hutu president, after a lengthy civil war between the Hutu-led government and the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front. It was a deliberate effort to eliminate the country’s Tutsi ‘problem’; books about Hitler and the Holocaust, and lists of potential victims, were later discovered in the offices of top government officials. In all, at least 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus died… Among the most nefarious tools of the genocide was a planned mass sexual assault on Tutsi women, with Hutu officials encouraging HIV-positive soldiers to take part in gang rapes.”

First, these numbers of Tutsi’s killed are highly disputed, and many of the Tutsis were killed by the RPF. Second, any ‘deliberate effort to eliminate the country’s Tutsi ‘problem’ was more the responsibility of the RPF than any other institution of power in Rwanda in 1994. Third, every western library and most all western human rights and media professionals, and academics, have books about Hitler, just as every western public and university library does. Fourth, these supposed genocide ‘lists’ have never been produced at the ICTR. Fifth, the reference to the Holocaust is part of the overall ‘genocide’ propaganda that defines the Tutsi minority as the sole proprietors of victim-hood in Rwanda and falsely defines them as “the Jews of Africa.” Finally, there was no “planned mass sexual assault on Tutsi women.

Notwithstanding the fictions, when the allegations against a branded genocidaire are repeated they are often no longer presented as allegations, but as absolute fact.

For example, Emily Heroy, the founder and executive editor of Gender Across Borders (A Global Feminist Blog), regurgitated the 2002 ‘Minister of Rape’ story in 2009. “In 2002, Peter Landesman wrote an article in the New York Times about Nyiramasuhuko entitled ‘A Woman’s Work’ about her role in the genocide… Nyiramasuhuko ordered her son and militia to rape and kill thousands of women during the Rwanda genocide.”

The falsification of rape testimonies by Rwandan ‘survivors’ of genocide used to accuse opponents or critics or others targeted by the Kagame government has occurred before. Supposed Tutsi ‘genocide survivors’ and ‘rape victims’ were used as witnesses against Rwandan Catholic Bishop Augustin Misago, who was cleared of all genocide and rape charges in 2000.

Bishop Misago’s female Tutsi accusers cried on the witness stand in an effort to sway the court. They claimed to have been repeatedly raped by Misago over more than one day. When asked to identify a very remarkable physical feature of Bishop Misago’s anatomy, these women were proven to be fakes who falsified testimonies with Rwandan government support.

One of the most suppressed facts about the realities of the RPF Tutsi extremists and their elite networks is the historical and contemporary existence of ubwenge (ou-WEN-gay)—a complex Kinyarwanda language term referring to wisdom, trickery, caution, cleverness, prudence, deceptions, lies, manipulations. It relates to the capacity to gain a clear understanding of situations and the capability to surround oneself with a network of profit generating social relations.

French author Pierre Péan discussed ‘ubwenge’ in his 2005 book Noires Fureurs, Blancs Menteurs (Black Furies, White Liars), noting that Tutsis were affected by a “lying culture” and questioning the historiography of genocide in Rwanda. Péan alleged that Tutsis have systematically resorted to lying, while employing doubtful and fraudulent maneuvers, with the aim of misleading the international community relating to the accuracy of its genocide cause. Péan was immediately sued in French courts by S.O.S Racisme, an ‘anti-racism’ organization that has been very pro-Kagame and pro-RPF in France.

Ubwenge or the culture of deception was highly valued in traditional Rwanda, particularly in Tutsi aristocratic circles. Young Tutsi aristocrats were trained in ubwenge to help insure the Tutsi domination of Rwanda and the enslavement of the Hutu majority. By any name, the extremist RPF Tutsi regime and its leaders excel at ubwenge.

“They will bring into the U.S. court these women from Rwanda,” says Jean-Marie Vianney Higiro. “They will say ‘I was raped’ and they will cry. The jury will think this is spontaneous and the judge and jury will believe them. But the jury will not understand that this is an exercise in ubwenge. Some Hutus will also use ubwenge. In the RPF kingdom ruled by Paul Kagame there are people who train people to lie in court. They are used in different trials to lie and frame and accuse. Westerners and judges in western countries do not grasp this.”

Beatrice Munyenyezi’s case will join those of other Rwandans accused by the Kagame regime that are costing U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars for hearings that have historically involved fraud, disinformation, and U.S. government manipulation. The U.S. government is fighting its own judiciary in its efforts to maintain the façade of the Paul Kagame government in Rwanda. This is not a successful entrepreneurial government, but an absolute military dictatorship whose grip of terror extends into the hearts and minds—as with Thomas Brian Andersen—of the United States of America.

Keith Harmon Snow can be reached through: www.consciousbeingalliance.com; www.allthingspass.com

Karadzic-Prozeß: Keine Dokumente über deutsche

June 28th, 2010 by Cathrin Schütz

Die deutsche Regierung geht auf Konfrontationskurs mit dem Jugoslawien-Tribunal (ICTY) in Den Haag. Bis zum 18. Juni hätte Berlin Dokumente zum Bosnien-Krieg (1992–1995) herausrücken müssen. Diesem Antrag des Angeklagten Radovan Karadzic, ehemals Präsident der bosnischen Repubika Srpska, hatten die ICTY-Richter am 19. Mai stattgegeben. Wann die Reaktion der Bundesregierung in den Niederlanden einging, ist unklar. Auf jW-Anfrage beim in dieser Angelegenheit federführenden Bundesjustizministeriums wurde erklärt, daß man »auf alle Fälle vor Ablauf der Frist« geantwortet habe. Laut ICTY selbst liegt die Antwort seit dem 21. Juni vor. Fest steht aber, daß Deutschland keine der angeforderten Dokumente übergeben hat. Laut Karadzic-Anwalt Goran Petronijevic geschah dies mit Verweis auf nationale Sicherheitsinteressen. Berlins Reaktion käme einer »pauschalen Totalverweigerung« gleich. Das Bundesjustizministerium behauptete, es gebe keine entsprechenden Unterlagen.

Tatsächlich geht es um brisante Materialien, die sich mit Waffenlieferungen an die bosnisch-muslimische Kriegspartei in den Wochen und Monaten vor dem Juli 1995 befassen. Das ist genau der Zeitraum vor jenem Ereignis, das weithin als »serbischer Völkermord« an bis zu 8000 unbewaffneten männlichen muslimischen Zivilisten gilt, und für das Karadzic verantwortlich gemacht wird. Außerdem sollten Informationen der Parlamentarischen Kontrollkommission den Anklagepunkt der »Geiselhaft« von zahlreichen UNO-Beamten entkräften. Die Gefangenen seien mitnichten neutrale Beobachter gewesen, sondern hätten an der Seite der Kriegsgegner der Serben agiert.

Schon vor Monaten hatte die deutsche Regierung darauf gepocht, daß die von Karadzic beantragten Informationen nichts mit dem Prozeß zu tun hätten. Waffenlieferungen an die bosnisch-muslimische Seite unter Bruch des UNO-Embargos gehörten zum Kriegskontext – und der soll, geht es nach den NATO-Staaten, im Gericht keine Rolle spielen. Die Richter sahen das offenbar anders und hielten Karadzics Begründungen mehrheitlich für nachvollziehbar. Mit der Blockade Deutschlands werden sie sich vermutlich nicht zufriedengeben.

Gegenüber jW meinte Petronijevic, daß der Angeklagte nunmehr Berlin in Bedrängnis bringe. Gerade Deutschland habe eine wichtige Rolle bei der Zerschlagung Jugoslawiens gespielt. Die Anerkennung Kroatiens Ende 1991 gehörte dazu ebenso wie die Verhinderung jeglicher Verhandlungslösungen. Ein blutiger Krieg folgte. Auch im Falle Bosniens mischte neben den USA die Bundesregierung kräftig mit.

Indes beweisen alle bisherigen Erfahrungen mit dem ICTY, dessen Einrichtung maßgeblich auf Druck von USA und BRD im UN-Sicherheitsrat erzwungen wurde, daß bei den Richtern die Interessen und der Schutz seiner Gründer obenan stehen. Das gilt auch für den Karadzic-Prozeß. Trotzdem konnte sich der Angeklagte bisher durchaus erfolgreich in Szene setzen – wie im Kampf gegen die finanziellen Kürzungen seiner Verteidigung. Auch machte er nach seiner Auslieferung Ende Juli 2008 an das ICTY publik, daß der hochrangige US-Diplomat Richard Holbrooke ihm 1996 in einem Deal Straffreiheit zugesichert hatte. Er erreichte, daß dieser
Punkt Gegenstand mehrerer Anhörungen war.

At least 318 US and NATO soldiers have been killed in the first six months of 2010 in Afghanistan, compared to 157 killed in through June 2009, according a website that tracks war casualties, DPA reported.

This month alone, 98 NATO troops have been killed, making it the deadliest month for the US-led international forces since they ousted the Taliban regime in late 2001, according to ICasualties.org.

Four Norwegian, two US, one British and three unidentified NATO soldiers were killed in separate attacks on Sunday, according to the military.

The rise in casualties is due to an increased number of operations conducted by troops as well as heavy Taliban use of roadside bombs that have been the deadliest threat for foreign forces.

Roadside bombings increased by 94 per cent in the first four months of this year compared to the same period in 2009, according to the United Nations.

More than 190 of the troops killed this year were from the United States, while 63 British soldiers and around 60 troops from other nations died in the war, according to the website.

There are currently more than 130,000 international forces in the country, but the total number of foreign troops is set to peak at 150,000 by August, more than two-thirds of them from the US.

Following the deaths of 521 soldiers in 2009, NATO and US officials have been warning of a “tough fight” this year.

The combined forces are planning a major operation in the southern province of Kandahar, the Taliban birthplace and spiritual home, and have already deployed soldiers to areas controlled by the insurgents.

A total of 1,883 foreign soldiers, including 1,139 US and 308 British troops, have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

Both U.S. and Israel have long had plans for a military strike on Iran, this is not new. However, now, considering the latest events, a military operation against Iran is quite possible, said Azerbaijani political expert Z. Alizadeh, commenting on a possible U.S.-Israel air strike on Iran, from Azerbaijani and Georgian territory.

“If Azerbaijan and Georgia will allow that the air strike will happen from their territories, then who said Iran will not fire back? So, the question is, do we really need all this? Azerbaijan does not need to get into these issues”, said Alizadeh.

Another Azerbaijani political expert Fikrat Sadikhov believes, that Azerbaijan should not join the anti-Iranian coalition.

“I cannot speak for the Georgian side, but as far as Azerbaijan goes, no one would really want Azerbaijani-Iranian relations to get worse. Since the very beginning, Azerbaijan expressed a very solid, neutral position on issues related to this. Baku will not participate in anti-Iranian actions. Iran is a neighboring country to us, besides there are lots of Azerbaijanis living there, so there’s no interest for Azerbaijan to act like that”, Sadiknov explained.

Russian expert Alexei Vlasov thinks this whole “military operation on Iran” is nothing more, than a rumor.

“I have big doubts that Azerbaijani government, which always thinks first, and acts second, will allow such air strike from its territory. This kind of move goes against the diplomacy of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev. The upcoming Clinton visit to Baku is a way to get Azerbaijan to answer one question – how would it behave, if a strike on Iran will happen? I think, Ilham Aliyev will find a way to maintain a much needed balance.” said Vlasov.

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s far-right foreign minister, set out last week what he called a “blueprint for a resolution to the conflict” with the Palestinians that demands most of the country’s large Palestinian minority be stripped of citizenship and relocated outside Israel’s future borders.
 
Warning Israel faced growing diplomatic pressure for a full withdrawal to the Green Line, the pre-1967 border, Mr Lieberman said that, if such a partition were implemented, “the conflict will inevitably pass beyond those borders and into Israel”.
 
He accused many of Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens of acting against Israel while their leaders “actively assist those who want to destroy the Jewish state”.
 
Mr Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party campaigned in last year’s elections on a platform of “No loyalty, no citizenship” and has proposed a raft of loyalty laws over the past year targeted at the Palestinian minority.
 
True peace, the foreign minister claimed, would come only with land swaps, or “an exchange of populated territories to create two largely homogeneous states, one Jewish Israeli and the other Arab Palestinian”. He added that under his plan “those Arabs who were in Israel will now receive Palestinian citizenship”.
 
Unusually, Mr Lieberman, who is also deputy prime minister, offered his plan in a commentary for the English-language Jerusalem Post daily newspaper, apparently in an attempt to make maximum impact on the international community.
 
He has spoken repeatedly in the past about drawing the borders in a way to forcibly exchange Palestinian communities in Israel for the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
 
But under orders from Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, he has kept a relatively low profile on the conflict’s larger issues since his controversial appointment to head the foreign ministry more than a year ago.
 
In early 2009, Mr Lieberman, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, upset his own supporters by advocating the creation of “a viable Palestinian state”, though he has remained unclear about what it would require in practice.
 
Mr Lieberman’s revival of his “population transfer” plan — an idea he unveiled six years ago — comes as the Israeli leadership has understood that it is “isolated like never before”, according to Michael Warschawski, an Israeli analyst.
 
Mr Netanyahu’s government has all but stopped paying lip service to US-sponsored “proximity talks” with the Palestinians after outraging global public opinion with attacks on Gaza 18 months ago and on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla four weeks ago in which nine peace activists were killed.
 
Israel’s relations with the international community are likely to deteriorate further in late summer when a 10-month partial freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank expires. Last week, Mr Netanyahu refused to answer questions about the freeze, after a vote by his Likud party’s central committee to support renewed settlement building from late September.
 
Other looming diplomatic headaches for Israel are the return of the Goldstone Report, which suggested Israel committed war crimes in its attack on Gaza, to the United Nations General Assembly in late July, and Turkey’s adoption of the rotating presidency of the Security Council in September.
 
Mr Warschawski, a founder of the Alternative Information Centre, a joint Israeli-Palestinian advocacy group, said that, faced with these crises, Israel’s political elite had split into two camps.
 
Most, including Mr Lieberman, believed Israel should “push ahead” with its unilateral policies towards the Palestinians and refuse to engage in a peace process regardless of the likely international repercussions.
 
“Israel’s ruling elite knows that the only solution to the conflict acceptable to the international community is an end to the occupation along the lines of the Clinton parameters,” he said, referring to the two-state solution promoted by former US president Bill Clinton in late 2000.
 
“None of them, not even Ehud Barak [the defence minister and head of the centrist Labour Party], are ready to accept this as the basis for negotiations.”
 
On the other hand, Tzipi Livni, the head of the centre-right opposition Kadima party, Mr Warschawski said, wanted to damp down the international backlash by engaging in direct negotiations with the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank under Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Mr Lieberman’s commentary came a day after he told Ms Livni that she could join the government only if she accepted “the principle of trading territory and population as the solution to the Palestinian issue, and give up the principle of land for peace”.
 
Mr Lieberman is reportedly concerned that Mr Netanyahu might seek to bring Ms Livni into a national unity government to placate the US and prop up the legitimacy of his coalition.
 
The Labour Party has threatened to quit the government if Kadima does not join by the end of September, and Ms Livni is reported to want the foreign ministry.
 
Mr Lieberman’s position is further threatened by a series of corruption investigations.
 
However, he also appears keen to take the initiative from both Washington and Ms Livni with his own “peace plan”. An unnamed aide to Mr Lieberman told the Jerusalem Post that, with a vacuum in the diplomatic process, the foreign minister “thinks he can convince the government to adopt the plan”.
 
However, Mr Warschawski said there were few indications that Mr Netanyahu wanted to be involved in any peace process, even Mr Lieberman’s.
 
Last week Uzi Arad, the government’s shadowy national security adviser and a long-time confidant of Mr Netanyahu, made a rare public statement at a meeting of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem to attack Ms Livni for “political adventurism” and believing in the “magic” of a two-state solution.
 
Apparently reflecting Mr Netanyahu’s own thinking, he said: “The more you market Palestinian legitimacy, the more you bring about a detraction of Israel’s legitimacy in certain circles. [The Palestinians] are accumulating legitimacy, and we are being delegitimised.”
 
Mr Warschawski doubted that Mr Lieberman believed his blueprint for population exchanges could be implemented but was promoting it chiefly to further damage the standing of Israel’s Palestinian citizens and advance his own political ambitions.
 
In his commentary, Mr Lieberman said the international community’s peace plan would lead to “the one-and-a-half to half state solution”: “a homogeneous, pure Palestinian state”, from which Jewish settlers were expelled, and “a binational state in Israel”, which included many Palestinian citizens.
 
Palestinians, in both the territories and inside Israel, he said, could not “continue to incite against Israel, glorify murder, stigmatise Israel in international forums, boycott Israeli goods and mount legal offensives against Israeli officials”.
 
International law, he added, sanctioned the partition of territory in which ethnic communities were broken up into different states, including in the case of the former Yugoslavia. “In most cases there is no physical population transfer or the demolition of houses, but creating a border where none existed, according to demographics,” he wrote.
 
Surveys have shown that Palestinian citizens are overwhelming opposed to “population transfer” schemes like Mr Lieberman’s.
 
Critics note that Mr Lieberman has failed to show how the many Palestinian communities inside Israel that are located far from the Green Line could be incorporated into a Palestinian state without expulsions.
 
Legal experts also point out that, even if Israel managed to trade territory as part of a peace agreement, stripping Palestinians of their Israeli citizenship as a result of such a deal would violate international law. 
 
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.
 

On the Destructive Nature of the Global Economic System

June 28th, 2010 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Bonnie Faulkner speaks to Michel Chossudovsky regarding Global Research’s new book on the Economic Crisis:  

The Global Economic Crisis
The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

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Guns and Butter – June 2, 2010 at 1:00pm

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Guns and Butter

“The Global Economic Crisis:  The Great Depression of the Twenty-First Century” with Michel Chossudovsky.  Discussion of the new anthology; the deepening global economic crisis; financial speculation; fiscal crisis; poverty; drug trade; savings and credit crisis; the long war; big brother state.

Michel Chossudovsky focusses on the destructive nature of this economic system. 

The proposed Solution to the Crisis is the cause of further collapse. 

New Release

The Global Economic Crisis
The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

Montreal, Global Research Publishers. Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), 2010.

ISBN 978-0-9737147-3-9   (416 pages)

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In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The meltdown of financial markets was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation. The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a “war without borders” led by the U.S. and its NATO allies.

This book takes the reader through the corridors of the Federal Reserve, into the plush corporate boardrooms on Wall Street where far-reaching financial transactions are routinely undertaken.

Each of the authors in this timely collection digs beneath the gilded surface to reveal a complex web of deceit and media distortion which serves to conceal the workings of the global economic system and its devastating impacts on people`s lives.

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent writer both on the contemporary structures of capitalism as well as on the history of the global political economy. He is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

“This important collection offers the reader a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets – especially the financial, social and military ramifications – from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.” -Mario Seccareccia, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

“In-depth investigations of the inner workings of the plutocracy in crisis, presented by some of our best politico-economic analysts. This book should help put to rest the hallucinations of ‘free market’ ideology.” -Michael Parenti, author of God and His Demons and Contrary Notions

“Provides a very readable exposé of a global economic system, manipulated by a handful of extremely powerful economic actors for their own benefit, to enrich a few at the expense of an ever-growing majority.” -David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited

The complex causes as well as the devastating consequences of the economic crisis are carefully scrutinized with contributions from Ellen Brown, Tom Burghardt, Michel Chossudovsky, Richard C. Cook, Shamus Cooke, John Bellamy Foster, Michael Hudson,  Tanya Cariina Hsu, Fred Magdoff,  Andrew Gavin Marshall, James Petras, Peter Phillips, Peter Dale Scott, Bill Van Auken, Claudia von Werlhof and Mike Whitney.

Despite the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives presented within this volume, all of the contributors ultimately come to the same conclusion: humanity is at the crossroads of the most serious economic and social crisis in modern history.

“This meticulous, vital, timely and accessible work unravels the history of a hydra-headed monster: military, media and politics, culminating in “humanity at the crossroads”; the current unprecedented economic and social crisis… From the first page of the preface of The Global Economic Crisis, the reasons for all unravel with compelling clarity. For those asking “why?” this book has the answers.” –Felicity Arbuthnot, award-winning author and journalist based in London.

“The current economic crisis, its causes and hopefully its cure have been a mystery for most people. I welcome a readable exposition of the global dimensions of the crisis and hope for some clarity on how to better organize money locally and internationally for the future.”  -Dr. Rosalie Bertell, renowned scientist, Alternative Nobel Prize laureate and Regent, International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine, Geneva

“This work is much more than a path-breaking and profound historical analysis of the actors and institutions, it is an affirmation of the authors’ belief that a better world is feasible and that it can be achieved by collective organized actions and faith in the sustainability of a democratic order.” -Frederick Clairmonte, distinguished analyst of the global political economy and author of the 1960s classic, The Rise and Fall of Economic Liberalism: The Making of the Economic Gulag

“Decades of profligate economic policies and promiscuous military interventions reached a critical mass, exploding in the meltdown of globalization in 2008. Today, the economic meltdown is reconfiguring everything – global society, economy and culture. This book is engineering a revolution by introducing an innovative global theory of economics.” -Michael Carmichael, prominent author, historian and president of the Planetary Movement

The Global Economic Crisis
The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

TO READ THE PREFACE CLICK HERE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall

PART I THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS

Chapter 1 The Global Economic Crisis: An Overview Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 2 Death of the American Empire Tanya Cariina Hsu
Chapter 3 Financial Implosion and Economic Stagnation John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff
Chapter 4 Depression: The Crisis of Capitalism James Petras
Chapter 5 Globalization and Neoliberalism: Is there an Alternative to Plundering the Earth? Claudia von Werlhof
Chapter 6 The Economy’s Search for a “New Normal” Shamus Cooke

PART II GLOBAL POVERTY

Chapter 7 Global Poverty and the Economic Crisis Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 8 Poverty and Social Inequality Peter Phillips

PART III WAR, NATIONAL SECURITY AND WORLD GOVERNMENT

Chapter 9 War and the Economic Crisis Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 10 The “Dollar Glut” Finances America’s Global Military Build-Up Michael Hudson
Chapter 11 Martial Law, the Financial Bailout and War Peter Dale Scott
Chapter 12 Pentagon and Intelligence Black Budget Operations Tom Burghardt
Chapter 13 The Economic Crisis “Threatens National Security” in America Bill Van Auken
Chapter 14 The Political Economy of World Government Andrew Gavin Marshall

PART IV THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM

Chapter 15 Central Banking: Managing the Global Political Economy Andrew Gavin Marshall
Chapter 16 The Towers of Basel: Secretive Plan to Create a Global Central Bank Ellen Brown
Chapter 17 The Financial New World Order: Towards A Global Currency Andrew Gavin Marshall
Chapter 18 Democratizing the Monetary System Richard C. Cook

PART V THE SHADOW BANKING SYSTEM

Chapter 19 Wall Street’s Ponzi Scheme Ellen Brown,
Chapter 20 Securitization: The Biggest Rip-off Ever Mike Whitney  

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G20 Police State: Toronto is burning! Or is it?

June 27th, 2010 by Judy Rebick

Police allowed the violence to happen last night in Toronto and then spent their time spinning it to the media instead of putting out the fires.

[2]

For people sitting at home and watching TV news last night, Toronto was burning. The same police car on Queen St W. burned and blew up over and over again. The same image of a young man very violently smashing Starbucks windows appeared over and over again. Windows smashed all along Yonge St. None of us had ever seen Toronto like this. It was shocking.

Most of the 400 protesters arrested last night and others who may have avoided arrest didn’t see that violence. From their perspective, they were facing a violent police state. These demonstrations, militant but overwhelming peaceful, were resisting the right of the police to hold them to Queen Street. They think the people have a right to protest in a place where political leaders can hear them. They had nothing to do with torching police cars or trashing windows.

TVO host Steve Paiken was down at the Novotel last night with peaceful protesters.  He tweeted [3] his experiences, “Shame on those that ordered peaceful protesters attacked and arrested. that is not consistent with democracy in toronto, G20 or no G20.”

I was on Queen West and Spadina when the trouble started. David Fernandez has written an excellent report on what happened on his facebook page. [4]

“Rewind to just before the riot happened, thousands of us marched in a very briskly moving group until we hit the intersection of Spadina and Queen. Folks from the labour movement tried in vain to encourage the march to move back up towards queens park, but the mood was clear. Many thousands of protestors were interested in being closer to the summit and letting the police know that we couldn’t be intimidated.

But nothing official was planned. Labour walked back up the street leaving thousands to mill about in the confusion of what to do next. And in that confusion, several hundred people changed their clothes and took off together running down queen street while thousands of riot cops picked their noses. In full police view, they let a mob destroy banks and trash Yonge street.

And while riot cops had shields AND bikes and thousands of dollars in body armor to protect them from the remaining peaceful protestors, somehow they were so scared of us that they abandoned police cars.”

The police spokesperson told Metro Morning today that they waited until later when it was safer to make arrests but that cannot be true. I was there and like David I believe the cops could have arrested the Black Bloc right at the beginning of the action but they abandoned their police cars and allowed them to burn, not even calling the fire department until the media had lots of time to photograph them. They had a water cannon but they didn’t even use a fire extinguisher. Why?

A comment released to a media outlet last night from official police spokesperson tells some of the story, “We have never tried to curtail people’s rights to lawfully protest. All you have to do is turn on the TV and see what’s happening now. Police cars are getting torched, buildings are being vandalized, people are getting beat up and the so-called ‘intimidating’ police presence is essential to restoring order. That is the reality on the ground.”

Police playing politics, justifying the expense and responding to the critiques building all week about excessive and arbitrary police powers. A politicized police force is unacceptable in a democratic society. There are serious questions that must be answered and they have not been satisfactory answered.

People were shocked last night by a city out of control but the Toronto police — without all the huge expenditures, extra police from across the country and sophisticated new toys — have kept the peace in riots with a lot more people and in hundreds of demonstrations much larger and often angry. I disagree with torching police cars and breaking windows and I have been debating these tactics for decades with people who think they accomplish something. But the bigger question here is why the police let it happen and make no mistake the police did let it happen. Why did the police let the city get out of control? And they did let it get out of control. The police knew exactly what would happen and how.

Christopher Watt [5] was there when the first police car was torched,

“The officers clustered and formed a line. A second picket of officers lined up behind them, facing the crowd where I stood. They started to move, but they weren’t clearing the street; they were clearing out and abandoning two police cars, including the one with the shattered windshield…

In moments like this, someone needs to make a decision. This time it was a man in dreadlocks and no shirt, red paint all over his torso. He moved towards the police car, grabbing the squawking police radio…

Following the lead of the dreadlocked man, someone else pulled what looked like a leather folder from inside the car and spread its contents over the trunk. A kid wearing sunglasses, his face covered by a scarf, inspected the paperwork. Soon after, the squad cars would be on fire. (The gas cap appeared to have been removed from one of them even before the crowd moved in.)”

It was a perfect storm. A massive police presence who were primed for “dangerous anarchists” after a week of peaceful protests. No more than one hundred, probably fewer, young men who think violent confrontations with the police will create a radicalization and expose the violence of the state. A new generation of young people who are becoming activists believing they live in a democratic society and are shocked by the degree of police violence arrayed to stop them.

But it is the police that let the handful of people using Black Bloc tactics run wild and then used the burning police cars and violent images as a media campaign to convince the people of Toronto that the cost and the excessive police presence was necessary. They knew what would happen and they knew how it would happen. [6] It is the police that bear the responsibility for what happened last night. They were responsible for keeping the peace and they failed to do it.

The massive police presence in Toronto over this week has been officially justified on the basis of protecting the leaders of the G8 and G20 countries meeting in Huntsville and Toronto. We were told that the creation of the fenced-in fortress, the massive mobilization of police (estimates ranging from 10-20,000) from across Canada, and even the passing of a secret law on policing (by the executive of the Ontario government without reference to the Legislative Assembly and the opposition parties) that made it a crime to appear within five metres of the security fence would protect our right to protest as well.

This is not what has unfolded in Toronto over the weekend.

Thousands of protesters marched peacefully on Friday, challenging the purpose and agenda of the G20, although completely hemmed on all sides by thousands of heavily armed police over the entire march (and severely hampering the freedom of assembly). On Saturday, in the midst of a larger demonstration (estimated at between 10-25,000), organized by the labour, anti-privatization and peace movements, a series of unwarranted acts of vandalism by a small number of protesters against stores, vehicles and buildings, was used as an excuse for a massive unleashing of repression and attacks by police against the democratic rights of both protestors, and Torontonians as a whole. (Like what happened at the Montebello Summit of North American leaders in August 2007, it will come out over the next weeks how widely the police had infiltrated some of the key groups – especially the so-called Black Bloc, knew the planning and participated as agent provocateurs.)

There seemed to be no real efforts on the part of the police to stop the attacks on the stores. As well, none of the massive police contingents tried to stop some of this small group from burning three of their police vehicles. It was as if the police weren’t all that concerned with these actions. Reporters from European broadcasters and newspapers reported that this was totally out of keeping with any real concern to prevent violence.

The police then unleashed waves of repression against the legitimate protesters, those who wished to push toward the security fence – in an effort to challenge the militarization of the streets and demand that the G20 leaders respond to concerns about austerity and attacks on poor and working people – those who were simply voicing their concerns about the G20 agenda (with its radical austerity agenda of having the public sector and the poor pay for the bailout of the banks), journalists and even innocent and curious bystanders. In one attack on a “free protest” zone (previously negotiated with the police) rubber bullets and tear gas was used, and people were indiscriminately taken down, beaten and arrested.

In all, by Sunday morning estimates were that some 500 people were arrested (and there have been hundreds more over the course of today); it is impossible for anyone to know how many of these were the instigators of violence and how many were people simply exercising their right to protest. But clearly the mass majority were only protesting and exercising their rights to assembly and free speech, which the Toronto police and the wider security forces have been systematically violating.

The temporary jail that protestors have been placed in is located at the old Toronto Film Studios on Eastern Avenue in the eastern edge of the downtown, converted into a series of cages in essentially a huge warehouse. The jail is described by inmates as a kind of Guantanamo North: cold, dirty and especially humiliating for those who were said to have refused arrest. People have been held for hours without recourse to legal representation, of which there has been a large legal team at hand. Protesters hoping to provide some type of support for those incarcerated, have themselves been attacked, tear-gassed and dispersed by police violence.

Listening to the mass media and the interviews with the police and security spokespeople for Toronto and the Canadian state, one would have thought that there was full scale rioting, and that the massive, billion dollar spending spree on security for the Summit – that angered people across the country – was somehow worth it. As part of this, all protesters are being demonized and the police are being portrayed as heroes, notably by the political leadership and the Mayor of Toronto, David Miller.

The message of the protests (and of the thousands who protested across the week at hundreds of talks, meetings, protests, cultural events) – that the G20 meeting reflected the underlying agenda of the corporations and the political elites, to make sharp cutbacks across the public sector, to impose wage cuts, to not raise significant (or any) new taxes on financial capital and to impose new forms of hardship in the form of higher taxes and cuts in benefits for working people and the poor – was to be drowned out in a demonizing of the entire project of the protest. That is, that the ruling classes in the G20 were doing everything in their power to have the working classes pay for the crisis and their project of re-constructing neoliberalism and the political hegemony of the banks and financial capital.

The police and much of Toronto’s political and economic establishment, sought to use the incidents to change the entire discourse of the G20 week.

Socialists, of course, take their distance from the foolish acts of the few who confuse violent attacks and trashing with revolutionary politics. This is to substitute individual acts of dissent for the working class and the mass movement as a whole. It is the adventurism that calls forth the most violent features of the security and policing apparatuses of the state, catching hundreds of innocents in the wake, and helps justify to the endless expansion of the security state. To challenge the neoliberal globalization agenda of the G20, and overturn all the undemocratic exploitative relations of capitalism, we need to build a political movement in Canada, based among the working classes who don’t earn their income from capital ownership, and who also are oppressed by the unequal relations of race, gender, sexuality and nationality.

At this moment, it is a point of fundamental solidarity to denounce, as forcefully as possible, the police repression being unleashed against G20 protesters. We insist that those incarcerated on Eastern Avenue have their full civil rights restored and that civilian authorities take control from the Toronto Police Services of oversight of these proceedings. They have proven incapable of protecting – and understanding – basic civil rights (starting from the special emergency powers asked for by Police Chief Blair, and granted by stealth by Premier Dalton McGuinty). The accused should immediately be released without charge, or be freed on bail and given the right to defend themselves in open courts (not the kangaroo courts with limited or no public access that have been operating over this week).

The police occupation of Toronto should end immediately, and our full civil rights – and especially our rights to our city and streets – be restored. There clearly will need to be a full and independent investigation about the role of the police in the violence of the last few days, the role of agent provocateurs and plants in the planning of these events and the astonishing violation of the rights of ordinary people and protesters alike on the streets of Toronto over the last week.

This is what a rubber bullet wound looks like. Photo: Yee Guan Wong.

Alongside my neighbours from the Danforth area, I joined the large march on Saturday afternoon on the first day of the G20 Summit in Toronto. We felt proud to be there alongside over 10,000 other Canadians — women, unionists, students, teachers, people of all ethnicities and backgrounds — demonstrating our commitment to peace and social justice. We passed by hundreds and hundreds of police without an incident.

Soon afterwards, while catching a meal on the patio at Fran’s Restaurant on College Street, we heard glass breaking on Yonge Street, and saw a mob of about 150 coming around the corner, hurling chairs into windows. Someone threw a bottle through a window showering me in broken glass. What was most striking was that there were not any police in sight.

Evidently this group had started rioting on Queen Street over half an hour earlier — where the police drove one of their cars into the middle of the group then abandoned it. It was soon set on fire — making a great photo op.

The group proceeded up Yonge Street smashing windows all the way up Yonge Street, at least eight blocks, without being stopped by police.

There were reported to be 19,000 security people on duty, and a senior officer told me they had 7,000 police.

As an academic and an activist, I have participated in numerous demonstrations in Canada, the United States, Europe and South America, and I have never seen such a dereliction of duty.

Normally, there are buses full of riot police right in the downtown core, ready to move at a moment’s notice.

The police knew that they should focus their energies on the Black Bloc, especially so late on Saturday afternoon.

But when the rioters came smashing their way up the main street of Toronto, the police disappeared for half an hour.

It would appear that the security forces allowed this riot to happen in order to justify the $1 billion which appeared to have been wasted on security measures in Huntsville and Toronto.

They must not be allowed to discredit those of us who protested peacefully.

We must hold this government responsible for wasting $1 billion dollars on security measures, and then trying to justify it by allowing

David Langille is the executive producer for Poor No More, a feature documentary on Canada’s working poor.

Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz once famously wrote that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” A century later, radical French philosopher Michel Foucault turned Clausewitz on his head and declared that “politics is the continuation of war by other means.”

In our topsy-turvy world where truth and lies coexist equally and sociopathic business elites reign supreme, it would hardly be a stretch to theorize that cyber war is the continuation of parapolitical crime by other means.

Through the Wormhole

In Speed and Politics, cultural theorist Paul Virilio argued that “history progresses at the speed of its weapons systems.” With electronic communications now blanketing the globe, it was only a matter of time before our political masters, (temporarily) outflanked by the subversive uses to which new media lend themselves, would deploy what Virilio called the “integral accident” (9/11 being one of many examples) and gin-up entirely new categories of threats, “Cyber Pearl Harbor” comes to mind, from which of course, they would “save us.”

That the revolving door connecting the military and the corporations who service war making is a highly-profitable redoubt for those involved, has been analyzed here at great length. With new moves to tighten the screws on the immediate horizon, and as “Change” reveals itself for what it always was, an Orwellian exercise in public diplomacy, hitting the “kill switch” serves as an apt descriptor for the new, repressive growth sector that links technophilic fantasies of “net-centric” warfare to the burgeoning “homeland security” market.

Back in March, Wired investigative journalist Ryan Singel wrote that the “biggest threat to the open internet” isn’t “Chinese hackers” or “greedy ISPs” but corporatist warriors like former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell.

Having retreated to his old haunt as a senior vice president with the ultra-spooky firm Booz Allen Hamilton (a post he held for a decade before joining the Bush administration), McConnell stands to make millions as Booz Allen’s parent company, the secretive private equity powerhouse, The Carlyle Group, plans to take the firm public and sell some $300 million worth of shares, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

“With its deep ties to the defense establishment” the Journal notes, “Booz Allen has become embedded in a range of military operations such as planning war games and intelligence initiatives.” That Carlyle Group investors have made out like proverbial bandits during the endless “War on Terror” goes without saying. With “relatively low debt levels for a leveraged buyout,” the investment “has been a successful one for Carlyle, which has benefited from the U.S. government’s increasing reliance on outsourcing in defense.”

And with 15,000 employees in the Washington area, most with coveted top secret and above security clearances, Booz Allen’s clients include a panoply of secret state agencies such as the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, NSA and the U.S. Air Force. With tentacles enlacing virtually all facets of the secretive world of outsourced intelligence, the firm has emerged as one of the major players in the cybersecurity niche market.

While McConnell and his minions may not know much about “SQL injection hacks,” Singel points out that what makes this spook’s spook dangerous (after all, he was NSA Director under Clinton) “is that he knows about social engineering. … And now he says we need to re-engineer the internet.”

Accordingly, Washington Technology reported in April, that under McConnell’s watchful eye, the firm landed a $14.4 million contract to build a new bunker for U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). Chump change by Pentagon standards perhaps, but the spigot is open and salad days are surely ahead.

Now that CYBERCOM has come on-line as a “subordinate unified command” of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), it’s dual-hatted Director, Air Force General Keith B. Alexander confirmed by the Senate and with a fourth, gleaming star firmly affixed on his epaulettes, the real fun can begin.

A denizen of the shadows with a résumé to match, Alexander is also Director of the National Security Agency (hence the appellation “dual-hatted”), the Pentagon satrapy responsible for everything from battlefield signals- and electronic intelligence (SIGINT and ELINT), commercial and industrial espionage (ECHELON) to illegal driftnet spying programs targeting U.S. citizens.

Spooky résumé aside, what should concern us here is what Alexander will actually do at the Pentagon’s new cyberwar shop.

A Fact Sheet posted by STRATCOM informs us that CYBERCOM “plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes, and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries.”

As Antifascist Calling previously reported, CYBERCOM’s offensive nature is underlined by the role it will play as STRATCOM’s operational cyber wing. The training of thousands of qualified airmen, as The Register revealed last month, will form the nucleus of an “elite corps of cyberwarfare operatives,” underscoring the command’s signal importance to the secret state and the corporations they so lovingly serve.

Cybersecurity: The New Corporatist “Sweet Spot”

Fueling administration moves to “beef up,” i.e. tighten state controls over the free flow of information is cash, lots of it. The Washington Post reported June 22 that “Cybersecurity, fast becoming Washington’s growth industry of choice, appears to be in line for a multibillion-dollar injection of federal research dollars, according to a senior intelligence official.”

“Delivering the keynote address at a recent cybersecurity summit sponsored by Defense Daily,” veteran Post reporter and CIA media asset, Walter Pincus, informs us that “Dawn Meyerriecks, deputy director of national intelligence for acquisition and technology, said that along with the White House Office of Science and Technology, her office is going to sponsor major research ‘where the government’s about to spend multiple billions of dollars’.”

Bingo!

According to a Defense Daily profile, before her appointment by Obama’s recently fired Director of National Intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, Meyerriecks was the chief technology officer with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), described on DISA’s web site as a “combat support agency” that “engineers and provides command and control capabilities and enterprise infrastructure to continuously operate and assure a global net-centric enterprise in direct support to joint warfighters, National level leaders, and other mission and coalition partners across the full spectrum of operations.”

During Defense Daily’s June 11 confab at the Marriott Hotel in Washington (generously sponsored by Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics and The Analysis Group), Meyerriecks emphasized although “tons of products” have been commercially developed promising enhanced security, “there’s not an answer Band-Aid that is going to come with this.”

All the more reason then, to shower billions of taxpayer dollars on impoverished defense and security corps, while preaching “fiscal austerity” to “greedy” workers and homeowners facing a new wave of foreclosures at the hands of cash strapped banks.

“We’re starting to question whether or not the fundamental precepts are right,” Meyerriecks said, “and that’s really what, at least initially, this [new research] will be aimed at.”

Presumably, the billions about to feed the “new security paradigm,” all in the interest of “keeping us safe” of course, means “we need to be really innovative, because I think we’re going to run out of runway on our current approach,” she said.

Washington Technology reported Meyerriecks as saying “We don’t have any fixed ideas about what the answers are.” Therefore, “we’re looking for traditional and nontraditional partnering in sourcing.”

Amongst the “innovative research” fields which the ODNI, the Department of Homeland Security and one can assume, NSA/CYBERCOM, will soon be exploring are what Washington Technology describe as: “Multiple security levels for government and non-government organizations. Security systems that change constantly to create ‘moving targets’ for hackers,” and more ominously for privacy rights, coercive “methods to motivate individuals to improve their cybersecurity practices.”

The Secret State’s Internet Control Bill

Since major policy moves by administration flacks always come in waves, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy June 18, that in order to fight “homegrown terrorism” the monitoring of internet communications “is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security,” the Associated Press reported.

While the Obama regime has stepped-up attacks on policy critics who have disclosed vital information concealed from the American people, prosecuting whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake, who spilled the beans on corrupt NSA shenanigans with grifting defense and security corps, and wages a low-level war against WikiLeaks, Cryptome, Public Intelligence and other secret spilling web sites, it continues to shield those who oversaw high crimes and misdemeanors during the previous and current regimes.

In this light, Napolitano’s statement that “we can significantly advance security without having a deleterious impact on individual rights in most instances,” is a rank mendacity.

With enough airspace to fly a drone through, the Home Sec boss told the gathering “at the same time, there are situations where trade-offs are inevitable.” What those “situations” are or what “trade-offs” were being contemplated by the administration was not specified by Napolitano; arch neocon Joe Lieberman however, graciously obliged.

As “Cyber War” joins the (failed) “War on Drugs” and the equally murderous “War on Terror” as America’s latest bête noire and panic all rolled into one reeking mass of disinformation, Senators Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 in the Senate.

The bill empowers the Director of a new National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications (NCCC), to be housed in the Department of Homeland Security, to develop a “process” whereby owners and operators of “critical infrastructure” will develop “response plans” for what the legislation calls “a national cybersecurity emergency.”

This particularly pernicious piece of legislative flotsam would hand the President the power to declare a “national cyber-emergency” at his discretion and would force private companies, internet service providers and search engines to “comply with the new risk-based security requirements.” Accordingly, “in coordination with the private sector … the President [can] authorize emergency measures to protect the nation’s most critical infrastructure if a cyber vulnerability is being exploited or is about to be exploited.”

Under terms of the bill, such “emergency measures” can force ISPs to “take action” if so directed by the President, to limit, or even to sever their connections to the internet for up to 30 days.

While the administration, so far, has not explicitly endorsed Lieberman’s bill, DHS Deputy Undersecretary Philip Reitinger told reporters that he “agreed” with the thrust of the legislation and that the Executive Branch “may need to take extraordinary measures” in the event of a “crisis.”

Under the 1934 Communications Act, the World Socialist Web Site points out, “the president may, under ‘threat of war,’ seize control of any ‘facilities or stations for wire communications’.”

“Though dated,” socialist critic Mike Ingram avers, “that definition would clearly apply to broadband providers or Web sites. Anyone disobeying a presidential order can be imprisoned for one year. In addition to making explicit the inclusion of Internet providers, a central component of the Lieberman bill is a promise of immunity from financial claims for any private company which carries through an order from the federal government.”

Under terms of the legislation, the president requires no advance notification to Congress in order to hit the internet “kill switch,” and his authority to reign supreme over the free speech rights of Americans can be extended for up to six months after the “state of war” has expired.

While the bill’s supporters, which include the secret state lobby shop, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) claim the Lieberman-Collins-Carper legislation is intended to create a “shield” to defend the U.S. and its largest corporate benefactors from the “looming threat” of a “Cyber 9/11,” one cannot discount the billions of dollars in plum government contracts that will fall into the laps of the largest defense and security corps, the primary beneficiaries of this legislation; thus the bill’s immunity provisions.

Indeed, current INSA Chairwoman, Frances Fragos Townsend, the former Bushist Homeland Security Adviser, was appointed in 2007 as National Continuity Coordinator under the auspices of National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51) and was assigned responsibility for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity of government (COG) policies. As readers of Antifascist Calling are aware, plans include contingencies for a declaration of martial law in the event of a “catastrophic emergency.” Whether or not a “national cybersecurity emergency” would fall under the penumbral cone of silence envisaged by NSPD-51 to “maintain order” is anyone’s guess.

However, in a June 23 letter to Lieberman-Collins-Carper, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and 23 other privacy and civil liberties groups, insisted that “changes are needed to ensure that cybersecurity measures do not unnecessarily infringe on free speech, privacy, and other civil liberties interests.”

CDT states that while “the bill makes it clear that it does not authorize electronic surveillance beyond that authorized in current law, we are concerned that the emergency actions that could be compelled could include shutting down or limiting Internet communications that might be carried over covered critical infrastructure systems.”

Additionally, CDT avers that the bill “requires CCI owners to share cybersecurity ‘incident’ information with DHS, which will share some of that information with law enforcement and intelligence personnel.” While Lieberman-Collins-Carper claim that “incident reporting” doesn’t authorize “any federal entity” to compel disclosure “or conduct surveillance,” the bill does not indicate what might be included in an ‘incident report’ and we are concerned that personally-identifiable information will be included.” Count on it!

In a press release, INSA’s chairwoman declared that the legislation is important in “establishing a public-private partnership to promote national cyber security priorities, strengthen and clarify authorities regarding the protection of federal civilian systems, and improve national cyber security defenses.”

Amongst the heavy-hitters who will profit financially from developing a “public-private partnership to promote national cyber security priorities,” include INSA “Founding Members” BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, CSC, General Dynamics, HP, Lockheed Martin, ManTech International, Microsoft, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Talk about one hand washing the other! A casual glance at Washington Technology’s 2010 list of the Top 100 Federal Government Contractors provides a telling definition of the term “stakeholder”!

Blanket Surveillance Made Easy: Einstein 3′s Roll-Out

During a recent Cyberspace Symposium staged by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), an industry lobby group chock-a-block with defense and security corps, a series of video presentations set the tone, and the agenda, for CYBERCOM and the secret state’s new push for heimat cybersecurity.

During a question and answer session “with a small group of reporters” in sync with the alarmist twaddle peddled by AFCEA and STRATCOM, Defense Systems’ Amber Corrin informed us that “one possibility” floated by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynne III to “keep us safe,” is the deployment of the privacy-killing Einstein 2 and Einstein 3 intrusion detection and prevention systems on civilian networks.

“To support such a move” Defense Systems reported, “a task force comprising industry and government information technology and defense interests … has been forged to examine issues surrounding critical infrastructure network security.”

As Antifascist Calling reported last July, Einstein 3 is based on technology developed by NSA under its Tutelage program, a subordinate project of NSA’s larger and more pervasive privacy-killing Stellar Wind surveillance operation.

Einstein 3′s deep-packet inspection technology can read the content of email messages and other private electronic communications. Those deemed “threats” to national security networks can then be forwarded to analysts and “attack signatures” (or suspect political messages) are then stored in a massive NSA-controlled database for future reference.

Federal Computer Week disclosed in March that the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) “plans to partner with a commercial Internet Service Provider and another government agency to pilot technology developed by the National Security Agency to automate the process of detecting cyber intrusions into civilian agencies’ systems.”

“The exercise,” according to reporter Ben Bain “aims to demonstrate the ability of an ISP to select and redirect Internet traffic from a participating government agency using the new technology. The exercise would also be used demonstrate the ability for U.S. CERT to apply intrusion detection and prevention to that traffic and to generate automated alerts about selected cyber threats.”

That testing is currently underway and has been undertaken under authority of National Security Presidential Directive 54, signed by President George W. Bush in 2008 in the waning days of his administration. While the vast majority of NSPD-54 is classified top secret, hints of its privacy-killing capabilities were revealed in the sanitized version of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) released by the Obama White House in March.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed suit against the government in federal court after their Freedom of Information Act request to the National Security Agency was rejected by securocrats. The agency refused to release NSPD-54, since incorporated into Obama’s CNCI, stating that they “have been withheld in their entirety” because they are “exempt from release” on grounds of “national security.”

In a follow-up piece earlier this month, Federal Computer Week disclosed that the exercise “will also allow the Homeland Security Department, which runs the Einstein program, to share monitored information with the National Security Agency, though that data is not supposed to include message content.”

“The recent combination of those three elements–reading e-mail messages, asking companies to participate in the monitoring program, and getting the NSA in the loop–has set off alarm bells about future uses of Einstein 3,” FCW’s John Zyskowski disclosed.

Those bells have been ringing for decades, tolling the death of our democratic republic. As military-style command and control systems proliferate, supporting everything from “zero-tolerance” policing and urban surveillance, the deployment of packet-sniffing technologies will soon join CCTV cameras, license plate readers and “watchlists,” thus setting the stage for the next phase of the secret state’s securitization of daily life.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website Wikileaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press.

NAZARETH, (PIC)– The right wing extremist and Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, in an article entitled “my blue print for a resolution” and published in the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday called for the expulsion of the remaining Palestinians from the 1948 occupied Palestine.

In his article he rejected international calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders saying that UN resolution 242 “never called for a full withdrawal from the West Bank,” citing what the British and the American drafters of the resolution said about the 1967 borders.

He claims that the only recipe for peace is to create two states for two different people, a Jewish state for the Jews and a Palestinian state for the Palestinians, because as he puts it the dispute is not territorial.

To do that he suggest an “exchange of populated territories to create two largely homogeneous states.”

Most importantly he emphasises that “There will be no so-called Palestinian right of return.”

To make his proposed solution sound less drastic he says: “In most cases there is no physical population transfer or the demolition of houses, but creating a border where none existed, according to demographics.”

He does not go into the details of how to deal with the Palestinian population in Acre of Haifa for example, let alone the unrecognised villages in southern Palestine.

The Palestinian state will be “demilitarized and Israel will need to retain a presence on its borders to ensure no smuggling of arms.” [ie a concentration camp]

The official story of Dr David Kelly is that he took his own life in an Oxfordshire wood by overdosing on painkillers and cutting his left wrist with a pruning knife.

He was said to be devastated after being unmasked as the source of the BBC’s claim that the Government had ‘sexed up’ the case for war in Iraq.

A subsequent official inquiry led by Lord Hutton into the circumstances leading to the death came to the unequivocal conclusion that Kelly committed suicide.

Yet suspicions of foul play still hang heavy over the death of the weapons expert whose body was found seven years ago next month in one of the most notorious episodes of Tony Blair’s premiership.

Mystery: A new investigation in the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly has revealed shocking new claims of a government cover-up

Mystery: A new investigation into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly has revealed shocking new claims of a government cover-up

Many believe the truth about the manner of Dr Kelly’s death has never been established properly. Some even fear that the 59-year-old, the world’s leading expert in biological and chemical weapons, was murdered.

Of course, it would be easy to dismiss these sceptics as wild conspiracy theorists — but for the fact they include eminent doctors and MPs.

The blanket of secrecy thrown over the case by the last Labour Government has only fuelled the sense of mystery.

In January this year, it emerged that unpublished medical and scientific records relating to Dr Kelly’s death – including the post-mortem report and photographs of his body – had been secretly classified so as not to be made public for 70 years.

Lord Hutton, who had been appointed by Blair, was responsible for this extraordinary gagging order, yet its legal basis has baffled experts accustomed to such matters.

Against this shadowy background, we have conducted a rigorous and thorough investigation into the mystery that surrounds the death of David Kelly. And our investigation has turned up evidence which raises still more disturbing questions.

Our new revelations include the ambiguous nature of the wording on Dr Kelly’s death certificate; the existence of an anonymous letter which says his colleagues were warned to stay away from his funeral; and an extraordinary claim that the wallpaper at Dr Kelly’s home was stripped by police in the hours after he was reported missing – but before his body was found.

Suicide?: An aerial view of Harrowdown Hill, Oxfordshire, where Dr David Kelly's body was discovered in July 2003

Suicide? An aerial view of Harrowdown Hill, Oxfordshire, where Dr David Kelly’s body was discovered in July 2003

Until now, details of Dr Kelly’s death certificate have never been made public.

But the certificate was obtained by a group of leading doctors who have spent almost seven years investigating the case; doctors who believe it is medically implausible that he died in the manner Hutton concluded and are alarmed at the unorthodox way the death certificate was completed.

Near the top of all British death certificates is a box headed ‘Date and place of death’, in which a doctor or coroner should declare the exact location of a death, if it has been established.

Dr Kelly’s certificate gives his date of death as July 18, 2003. It then states in reference to place of death: ‘Found dead at Harrowdown Hill, Longworth, Oxon’.

Why was the word ‘found’ used? Why was the crucial question of ‘place of death’ not answered? The death certificate should be precise about the time, cause and location of death.

The doctors who have investigated the case believe the failure to answer this question leaves open the possibility that Dr Kelly died somewhere other than Harrowdown Hill, the wood where his body was discovered. If this was the case, they are concerned the law may have been subverted over Dr Kelly’s death.

Dr David Kelly leaving The House of Commons, Tuesday July 15, 2003 after giving evidence to the Commons select committee

Any such irregularity would inevitably add to the pressure to reopen the case. Indeed, earlier this month it was revealed that Justice Secretary Ken Clarke and Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who have the power to undo Hutton’s 70-year gagging order and demand a coroner’s inquest into Dr Kelly’s death, are poised to re-open the case.

To this day, the location where Dr Kelly died remains a mystery — yet it is surely the most basic requirement of an investigation into any violent or unexpected death.

Nor was the question of the location of death raised at the Hutton Inquiry.

Amazingly, Chief Inspector (now Superintendent) Alan Young of Thames Valley Police, who headed the investigation into Dr Kelly’s death, did not even give evidence to the Hutton Inquiry.

Significantly, it emerged via a Freedom of Information request in 2008 that a police helicopter with heat-seeking equipment which searched for Dr Kelly on the night he disappeared did not detect his body.

Search: It is claimed that on the night Dr David Kelly went missing, officers from Thames Valley Police removed wallpaper from his house

Search: It is claimed that on the night Dr David Kelly went missing, officers from Thames Valley Police removed wallpaper from his house

At 2.50am on July 18, 2003, the helicopter flew over the exact spot where Dr Kelly’s body was found by a search party less than six hours later, at 8.30am.

Yet the pathologist who took Dr Kelly’s body temperature at 7pm on the day his body was found determined that Dr Kelly could still have been alive at 1.15am on July 18 — just 95 minutes before the helicopter flew over the patch of woodland.

If that was the case, the body would have been warm enough to be picked up by the helicopter’s heat sensors. Why didn’t the helicopter pick it up? Was it because Dr Kelly did not die where his body was found?

A full coroner’s inquest, which, by law, must be held following any sudden, unexpected or violent death, would have addressed these discrepancies.

But no full inquest was ever held.

Oxfordshire Coroner Nicholas Gardiner opened an inquest on July 21. But on August 13 the then Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, Tony Blair’s former flatmate, ordered it to be adjourned indefinitely.

Falconer used an obscure law to suspend proceedings, and for the first time in English legal history he replaced an inquest with a non-statutory public inquiry to examine a single death, seemingly without any public explanation.

When we tracked Mr Gardiner down, he refused to say whether he was ‘either happy or unhappy’ about this decision, but he did admit: ‘Public inquiries of this sort are very rare creatures. I think this was only about the third there had ever been.’

In fact, it was the fourth. Using a public inquiry to replace a coroner’s inquest – under Section 17a of the Coroner’s Act – in order to examine a death has only ever happened in three other cases. And in each case, it was where multiple deaths have occurred.

These were the incidents in which 31 people were killed in the Ladbroke Grove rail crash in 2000; the 311 deaths connected with Dr Harold Shipman; and the 36 deaths associated with the Hull trawler Gaul which sank in the Barents Sea in 1974 and whose case was re-opened in 2004.

The public was led to believe that the death of Dr Kelly would be investigated more rigorously by the Hutton Inquiry than by a coroner.

Lord Hutton
Coroner Nicholas Gardiner

Conclusion: Lord Hutton’s inquiry ended while the judge was still taking evidence from witnesses. Coroner Nicholas Gardiner, right, refused to say whether he was ‘either happy or unhappy’ that an inquest he opened was indefinitely adjourned

But it is now clear that the opposite was in fact true – for Hutton lacked the powers of a coroner. He could not hear evidence under oath; he could not subpoena witnesses; he could not call a jury; and he could not aggressively cross-examine witnesses.

Astonishingly, on August 18, less than three weeks into the Hutton Inquiry, which opened on August 1, Dr Kelly’s death certificate was mysteriously completed and the cause of his death officially registered as haemorrhage.

Put another way, five weeks before the Hutton Inquiry ended on September 24, 2003, and while the judge was still taking evidence about Dr Kelly’s death from witnesses, the official record of the cause of death was written and the case effectively closed.

Misleadingly, the death certificate states an inquest did take place on August 14 – even though we now know no inquest actually happened. And extraordinarily, though it bears the signature of the registrar, it is not signed by either a doctor or a coroner as every death certificate should be.

Dr Kelly was discovered on Harrowdown Hill, next to woodland at the top centre left of the picture

Dr Michael Powers QC, a former coroner and an expert in coroner’s law who is working to secure a full and proper inquest, said: ‘This death certificate is evidence of a failure properly to examine the cause of Dr Kelly’s death. It is evidence of a pre-judgment of the issue. In a coroner’s inquest the cause of death would not be registered until the whole inquiry had been completed. As we see here, the cause of death was registered before the Hutton Inquiry had finished.

‘This is remarkable. To my mind it is evidence that the inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death was window-dressing because the conclusion had already been determined.’

Since January 2004 a group of doctors has worked unstintingly for a fresh inquest to be held into David Kelly’s death because of the blatant shortcomings of the Hutton Inquiry.

They are radiologist Stephen Frost, trauma surgeon David Halpin, vascular surgeon Martin Birnstingl, epidemiologist Andrew Rouse and internal medicine specialist
Christopher Burns-Cox. Their investigations have raised many doubts about the widespread assumption that Dr Kelly killed himself.

A letter they wrote to the Press in January 2004 marked the first time anyone had raised the possibility in the mainstream media of Dr Kelly’s death not being a suicide.

In 2009 they spent almost a year researching and writing a medical report which disputes Hutton’s assertion that Dr Kelly died from haemorrhage after severing the ulnar artery in his left wrist. The doctors argued that the wounds to Dr Kelly’s left wrist would not have caused him to bleed to death.

In January this year they discovered that Lord Hutton made the extraordinary 70-year gagging order.

Since then they have asked via their lawyers Leigh Day & Co to see the classified records, but under the last Labour Government, the Ministry of Justice – the department which holds them – repeatedly denied them access in the run-up to the last General Election. No reason was given.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who in 2007 wrote a book suggesting that Dr Kelly was murdered, used the Freedom of Information Act in January to apply to the Ministry of Justice to see the records.

British police officers guard a road leading to Harrowdown Hill near the home of Dr Kelly in Oxfordshire

His request was also denied. Using section 41 of the Act – known as an ‘absolute exemption’ – the ministry said it was not obliged to reveal the information.

Mr Baker, now a transport minister in the coalition government, has appealed against this decision. But he and the group of doctors are not the only ones who harbour suspicions about a cover-up of Dr Kelly’s death.

Only last month one of the doctors, David Halpin, received an anonymous and carefully worded letter from someone claiming to be a relative of a former colleague of David Kelly’s at the Ministry of Defence.

The correspondent said Kelly’s colleagues were ‘warned off’ attending his funeral – presumably by MoD officials, although this is not made explicit.

Similarly, in his recently published book ‘The End Of The Party’, the political  commentator Andrew Rawnsley (who has close links with the Labour high command) claims that Geoff Hoon, Defence Secretary at the time of Kelly’s death, was so furious about being removed by Tony Blair as Leader of the House of Commons in May 2006 that he wrote out a resignation statement.

According to Rawnsley, ‘he planned to make a speech about the [David] Kelly affair that he told friends could trigger the instant downfall of the Prime Minister’.

Frustratingly, there are no more details in Rawnsley’s book about what Hoon was referring to – but Hoon visited Dr Kelly’s widow shortly after his death and has never publicly denied this explosive charge.

Equally inexplicable is the attitude of Dr Nicholas Hunt, the forensic pathologist who attended the scene when Dr Kelly’s body was found on Harrowdown Hill.

Dr Hunt’s duty as forensic pathologist is to help uphold the rule of law. In March 2004, after the Hutton Report was published, Dr Hunt contacted Channel 4 News and said he thought a full coroner’s inquest should be held.

Yet mysteriously, he says now that – despite contacting the TV station – he has ‘maintained a silence on this [matter] on behalf of the [Kelly] family for a very long time’.

Tragic: Dr David Kelly's grave

Tragic: Dr David Kelly’s grave at St Mary’s church in Longworth, Oxfordshire. Several doctors argued that the wounds to his left wrist would not have caused him to bleed to death

Adding further to the case for a proper inquest is a new fascinating claim by a woman who has also worked closely with the doctors and helped Norman Baker with his book.

Rowena Thursby, a former publishing executive who became fascinated with the case and started looking into it, told us that Dr Kelly’s widow, Janice, admitted to her that on the night Dr Kelly was reported missing in July 2003 – but hours before his body was found -Thames Valley Police asked her and her daughters to leave their house and wait in the garden.

It later emerged that while the Kellys were outside, officers stripped wallpaper from their sitting room. Why would they have done that? Could they have been ‘sweeping’ his property for listening devices?

It is certainly a possibility. Despite the fact that the Labour government patronisingly dismissed him as a ‘Walter Mitty character’ and nothing more than a middle ranking
official in the Ministry of Defence, Dr Kelly was arguably the world’s pre-eminent expert on biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.

We have established that he had access to the highest levels of the security services and was cleared to see the most highly classified intelligence.

The claim that police removed wallpaper from his house has never been confirmed or denied by Thames Valley Police — they refuse to make any comments about the Kelly case.

All these new revelations add weight to the list of unanswered questions surrounding Dr Kelly’s death, such as why were no fingerprints found on the knife with which he allegedly killed himself — even though he wore no gloves.

As with the extraordinary details of the helicopter search, this vital information was only obtained using the Freedom of Information Act almost five years after the Hutton
Inquiry ended. It was not heard at the inquiry.

The doctors insist that concern about Dr Kelly’s death will continue to deepen until a full coroner’s inquest is heard. If one is finally granted, many will expect Tony Blair and Lord Falconer to be called to explain under oath why they went to such lengths to avoid the normal, rigorous and respected course of this country’s law.

Until this happens their reputations will continue to suffer, as will the reputation of the British legal system. The unavoidable conclusion must be that a full coroner’s inquest is the only way the whole truth about the Kelly affair, however uncomfortable, will emerge.

This report was also published by the Mail online. Copyright Miles Goslett, Stephen Frost, 2010.

Leader of Death Squads Wins Colombian Election

June 27th, 2010 by Prof. James Petras

Juan Manuel Santos, notorious Defense Minister in the regime of outgoing President Alvaro Uribe and closely identified with high crimes against humanity “won” the recent Presidential elections in Colombia, June 2010.  The major electronic and print media CNN, FOX News, Washington Post, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the once liberal Financial Times (FT) hailed Santos election, as a great victory for democracy.  According to the FT, “Colombia not Venezuela is (the) best model for Latin America” (FT 6/23/2010 p. 8).  Citing Santos “overwhelming” margin – he garnered 69% of the vote, the FT claimed he won a “strong mandate” (FT 6/22/2010).  In what has to be one of the most flagrant cover-ups in recent history, the media accounts exclude the most egregious facts about the elections and the profoundly authoritarian policies pursued by Santos over the past decade.

The Elections:  Guns, Elites and Terror

Elections are a process (not merely an event) in which prior political conditions determine the outcome.  During the previous eight years of outgoing President Uribe’s and Defense Minister Santos’ rule, over 2 million, mostly rural poor, were forcibly uprooted and driven from their homes and land and displaced across frontiers into neighboring countries, or to urban slums.  The Uribe-Santos regime relied on both the military and the 30,000 member paramilitary deathsquads to kill and terrorize entire population centers, deemed “sympathetic” to the armed insurgency, affecting several million urban and rural poor.  Over 20,000 people were killed, many, according to the major Colombian human rights group, falsely labeled “guerrillas”.  Santos as Defense Minister was directly implicated by the Courts in what was called “false positives”.  The military randomly rounded up scores of poor urban youth, shot them and claimed a resounding victory over the FARC guerrillas.

           
Several of the most important captured paramilitary death squad leaders testified that over 60 of the congress people backing Uribe – Santos were on their payroll and they “ensured” votes from regions under their control.  Faced with damaging testimony, Uribe-Santos double-crossed their narco-deathsquad comrades and “extradited” them to the U.S. where the judicial process excluded evidence linking them to the mass killings at the behest of Uribe-Santos.

           
Over two thousand trade unionists, human rights activists, journalists and congress- people critical of Uribe-Santos were murdered by deathsquad hit-men serving the regime.  The world’s major trade union confederations have sent missions and published reports condemning Colombia as the most dangerous country for workers’ representatives.

           
In other words all the social sectors with social and political grievances against the regime were terrorized, many of their local opinion leaders, killed, displaced or driven into exile … undermining the possibility of sustained independent socio-political organization.

           
Pervasive state terror led to few local leaders surviving, undermining the electorate’s capacity to exercise a free and independent organization.

           
On election day, the regime mobilized over 350,000 military and police officials, many involved in the decade long repression, to “oversee” the elections and to remind the voters of the force behind the “official candidate” (La Jornada 5/30/2010).

           
The electoral outcome was far from the “mandate” of the Colombian people as claimed by the mass media.  The ‘winner’ was the “abstentionists” with 56% of the electorate, the position advocated by the FARC.  Now clearly the majority of the abstentionist vote did not reflect support or sympathy for the FARC; rather it reflected disaffection with the regime’s violent repression, massive dispossession of millions and its total failure to deal with the under and unemployment affecting 40% of the economically active population.

           
In fact Santos received 30% of the vote of the electorate, hardly a mandate.  If we examine the social-ecological background of the voters, it is clearly a mandate from the elite.  The highest levels of abstention were among several distinct groups.  Among the shanty towns and rural areas suffering from repression and neglect, abstention rose to over 80%.  In contrast, in the middle and upper class sectors of the major cities, over 60% voted for the candidate of the regime.  Uribe-Santos tried to explain away the massive abstention by citing the weather (rain) and the World Cup soccer matches .However the low turnout took place throughout the country, in dry and inclement weather. And the games did not occupy the entire day of voting. The mass media systematically ignored the horrendous crimes under Defense Minister Santos, his indictment in the “false positive” murders, his long term large scale association with the death squads and  with the Uribe regimes promotion of narco trafficking.  They ignored his support for de-regulating the financial system, resulting in the defrauding of hundreds of thousands of Colombian small investors.

 

Comparing Colombia to Venezuela
       
Yet the Financial Times (6/23/2010) favorably compares Colombia under Uribe-Santos against Venezuela under Chavez, “Crackers about Caracas?  Latin American should be bonkers about Bogota instead”.  According to the FT Venezuela under Chavez is said to be unsafe, authoritarian and economically in decline.  The editors of the FT, echoing the rest of the media, claim Colombia is a prosperous democracy, with a system of checks and balances; with safe and peaceful neighborhoods … except when the neighborhoods of the poor protest unemployment or the rural villagers march against land grabs by the landlord funded gunmen.  The FT fails to mention the resurgence of paramilitary gangs terrorizing the Colombian countryside, (La Jornada 5/28/2010) but instead they focus on street crime in Caracas.

           
The Venezuelan government, contrary to the US media, promotes community based social movements which would be targets of military raids in Bogota.

           
The only “paramilitary” groups in Venezuela are cross-over’s from Colombia, pursued and punished by the Venezuelan National Guard.  In Venezuela trade unions participate in the management of major industrial plants, unlike Colombia where they are murdered including workers in the major Coca Cola,coal, oil and banana industries.

           
Behind the media lies and falsifications abut Colombia’s election and its political leaders are several basic considerations.

-Uribe-Santos are fervent free market advocates, eagerly pursing a free trade agreement held up in the US Congress because of their killing fields.


-Uribe-Santos are unconditional clients of the Pentagon, receiving $6 billion in aid and handing over 7 military bases, under US jurisdiction to threaten Venezuela, Ecuador and any other country the Obama regime deems a hostile to US domination.

-Uribe-Santos recognized the Honduras regime, product of a US backed military coup in mid 2009 – contrary to the rest of Latin America.

The fact that the mass-media have so enthusiastically embraced a regime with the worst human rights record since the fall of the military dictators of the 1970’s  – 1980’s  (La Jornada 6/17/2010) is indicative of the right turn under the Obama Wall Street regime. 

According to the White House and media, death squad democracies like Colombia now qualify as “role models” for Latin America.  The problem is that neither the vast majority of Latin America citizens, nor most of the democratic parties in the region are buying: they prefer democracies without deathsquads, foreign military bases and narco-dealing Presidents.  At present, the White House’s three leading allies in the region, Colombia, Peru and Mexico produce and sell 80% of the cocaine in the region.  Will this appear in the media’s salutations to newly elected presidents?         

 

Toronto is right now in the midst of a massive government / media propaganda fraud. As events unfold, it is becoming increasingly clear that the ‘Black Bloc’ are undercover police operatives engaged in purposeful provocations to eclipse and invalidate legitimate G20 citizen protest by starting a riot. Government agents have been caught doing this before in Canada.

Montebello 2007 Riot Prevented – Identical Boots Exposed Undercover Police Provocateurs

At the ‘Security and Prosperity Partnership’ meeting protests at Montebello Quebec on August 20, 2007, a Quebec union leader caught and outed three masked undercover Quebec Provincial Police operatives dressed as ‘black bloc’ protestors about to start a riot by throwing rocks at the security police. See the following videos documenting this event.

Stop SPP Protest – Union Leader stops provocateurs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St1-WTc1kow

Evidence — Police provoke Violence at SPP protest

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCRsj06wT64&NR=1

The operation was exposed by the following picture of the undercover police wearing combat boots identical to those of the security police arresting them.

(Provocateurs in Montebello wear the same shoes as the Quebec policemen who arrest them!)

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/emiliep/1206638928/

CBC Report at Montebello 2007

See the distinctive yellow dots on the thick corrugated soles of the boots which are the giveaway.

The Quebec Provincial Police were then forced after three days of  public outrage to admit that these three men were indeed their officers operating undercover.

 

Fast Forward to the Toronto 2010 G20 Protest Riot

On Saturday June 26, 2010, the Globe and Mail published on their website a number of photographs taken at the afternoon riot in downtown Toronto precipitated by the ‘black bloc.’

Using these photos, I am going to show you that once again, the ‘black bloc’ provocateurs and the armoured police are wearing the exact same shoes.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/g20-day-of-protest/article1619712/

Thanks to the Globe and Mail for these very helpful photos.

Starbucks Vandalised

Here an operative throws a metal chair through a Starbucks window. This man’s physique doesn’t look like a seedy ‘anarchist’ to me. Rather, this is the fit strong body of a trained soldier – somebody who puts in a lot of regular gym time. He is also wearing what is really a uniform and rather specialized equipment on his forearm and possibly his hip. Unfortunately in this picture we cannot see the shoes being worn. But we certainly can in the picture that follows, and this is where it gets interesting.

 

The Provocateurs’ Combat Boots

Below another operative throws what appears to be a rock at another Starbucks window.

 

Take a close look at the upturned boot.

This is a brand new (? recently issued) very distinctive deep black colour combat boot. Note as at Montebello, the special thick heavy corrugated soles plus what appears to be some reinforcement of the upper forefoot area. Also note the mismatched black and white socks. Is this a recognition code to their uniformed colleagues? The nice heavy shiny new belt also appears to be part of a uniform. 

 

Here is another ‘black bloc’ operative stomping on the roof of a Toronto Police car. Where are the police? He is obviously being “allowed” to trash the vehicle to create what will become the signature media images of the event – burning police cars in Toronto. But stamping on shattered glass and plastic is pretty hard on your shoes.

 

But his shoes can obviously take it because he is wearing the same brand new distinctive black combat boots as the Starbucks rock throwing provocateur above (go to the Globe and Mail url to see the higher resolution original photo). Note the same thick soles with the deep corrugations visible in an enlargement as a scalloping of the front bottom outer edge of the uplifted left shoe.

 

 

The Armoured Police Boots – They Are The Same Shoes!

Now check the uniformed armoured police boots. Note once again the thick heavy corrugated soles and deep black colour.

 

Here is one in close-up. It is clearly the same boot as the ‘black bloc’ provocateurs are wearing. It too is brand new and shiny as in recently issued for today’s duty.

  

Here are more of the armoured police boots.


 

Below is yet a closer view of the armoured police boots. This picture shows the upper part of the shoes more clearly. The police are also wearing what appears to be an additional protective spat module which is strapped on over the shoe’s upper front forefoot area. This looks like an extra equipment add-on to, and not an integral part of, the ‘civilian’ version of the shoe, which is otherwise identical to the police shoes in design, features and colour.

 

And in close-up

 

 

Canadian “Bureaucratic Economizing” Exposes The Fraud

That the ‘black bloc’ provocateurs and the uniformed armoured police are wearing in Toronto (as at Montebello) the identical government issued combat boots, has at least one positive aspect. It looks as if someone in the procurement bureaucracy was at least trying to do some economizing in the spending of the one billion dollars that this G20 fiasco has wrested from the taxpayers. Very sensibly, these bureaucrats wanted to provide the same sturdy combat boots for both the uniformed police officers as well as the undercover ones. How wonderfully Canadian.

But this endearing Hobbit-like practicality has also given the game away. The ‘black bloc,’ if they ever existed as an independent entity, have clearly been thoroughly infiltrated by undercover government agents. In classic covert counterinsurgency strategy these agents manipulate the group to commit violent acts which play directly into hidden government controllers’ hands. These controllers manipulate public opinion from behind the scenes through the commission of false flag acts of violence (these are acts falsely blamed on scapegoats other than those concealed perpetrators who are actually responsible.) The psychological operation (psyop) is then accomplished through the propaganda fulminations of the completely controlled and complicit mass media. As in so many similar situations in so many other countries in the past, the goal of this combination of violent acts and lying media propaganda is to invalidate any legitimate citizen protest of the many immoral acts being wreaked upon the peoples of the world by our governments. The techniques of imperial control which have been used so successfully overseas are now being fully deployed against the people at home. Deployed against us. As far as our war-addicted governments are concerned, we are all insurgents now.

But We Canadians Can Stop the G20 Fraud in Its Tracks

As this G20 protest riot fraud continues to unfold, please use your eyes and your cameras to pay attention to small details, like everybody’s shoes! As more and more people wake up from the deceptions being perpetrated upon them, more inconsistencies in the official propaganda story will be noticed.

Evidence will tumble forward to expose the whole malignant enterprise even more. We should stop this Riot Fraud in its tracks and demand an immediate investigation.

Please forward this article as widely as you can and collectively send it to all our politicians and media to put them on notice that we will no longer allow them to participate in the Toronto G20 riot fraud of 2010.

For Canada and for what is good and right and true. 

Political and Social Instability in Kyrgyzstan

June 26th, 2010 by Aleksandr Shustov

Although clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh and Jalal-Abad are no longer that high, it is still too early to talk about stability. Dozens of thousands of refugees remain in Uzbekistan, scared to return to their homes. Many of them have nowhere to go at all. The interim government has already declared restoration of Osh a ‘national project’. Eyewitnesses say armed men in masks are driving across the city in armored vehicles, and sounds of gun shots still can be heard.

Some observers say the conflict between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh and Jalal-Abad is by far not over yet. A Kyrgyz expert Askar Mambetaliyev told the 24kg news agency:“…The conflict in Osh has not been settled, there is just a decline in rioting until a new wave of violence erupts”. Mr. Mambetaliyev blames this on psychological consequences of the conflict: ”…It is like when your feelings are seriously hurt. To recover, we need effective psychological, social and political solutions. People in power should be strong-willed and responsible. Editor for the CentreAsia web site, Mr. Khlyupin, added that decline in rioting can be explained by the time of planting season but new violent clashes are very likely to continue.

There has been much debate on whether the recent bloody clashes were ‘ethnic’. The head of the Kyrgyz interim government Roza Otunbayeva was interviewed by the Russian Kommersant daily. When asked to comment on why the number of Uzbeks affected by rioting was larger, she answered that ”Uzbeks were well-armed and, as Kyrgyz think, had been preparing for the clashes beforehand…Moreover, first Kyrgyz in both Osh and Jalal-Abad had nothing but sticks, knives and stones on them. Later they took arms from the police”. However, reports from the scene said that those poorly armed were Uzbeks.

An example to illustarte comes out of the Uzbek village of Nariman, which was stormed by the Kyrgyz special task forces on 21 June after the locals had refused to destroy the barricades. The Kyrgyz side used helicopters and other military warfare during the operation. Two civilians were killed, and 23 more wounded. Officials said the Nariman operation was “preventive”, aimed at withdrawing arms possessed by the locals. Seven men were arrested on suspicion of criminal activity. The locals denied the allegations saying that the arms had been secretly brought to the village during the storm. Such incidents only undermine Uzbeks` confidence in the interim government. Before the rioting began, Uzbeks used to make one third of the Kyrgyz southern population.

When we focus on the roots of the conflict, we should keep in mind that Uzbeks had long been viewed by Kyrgyz as potential separatists. In a report “On major threat to Kyrgyzstan’s territorial integrity” released on the Vremya Vostoka(East Time) web portal owned by the Institute for Strategic Analysis and Forecasting, the author Zh. Saadanbekov says that for the first time in history Kyrgyz have turned into ethnic minority due to mass migration, high death and low birth rates. As of today, the Kyrgyz population in southern areas of the republic numbers about 1 million, while Uzbeks are turning into majority.

This explanation is quite popular among the Kyrgyz journalists promoting the idea of ‘Uzbek threat’. A survey conducted by Ferghana.ru showed a great number of nationalist articles in newspapers calling for people to fight Uzbeks. The Alibi weekly describes ethnic situation in the republic in the following way: “…on the one hand, Tajiks are seizing our lands, on the other-Uzbeks are approaching, and moreover, there are Dungans and Uighurs among us who are doing what they want”. The article warns that “Uzbeks will become even more impudent unless we all join efforts to defeat them”. In view of this, one should hardly be surprised at how violent the recent clashes were.

The Russia-speaking population in Kyrgyzstan yet remains beyond the conflict, though there were some casualties among Russians as well. Observers say they did not see any anti-Russian slogans written on the walls. However, ethnic Russians and those holding Russian citizenships were also affected by the riots in Osh and Jalal-Abad. On 18 June some 100 refugees-Russians, Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, most of them Russian citizens, were flown from Bishkek to Domodedovo airport in Moscow. In an interview with a correspondent for the Komsomolskaya Pravda, most of them said they did not want to stay in Russia, but they just had nowhere to go despite holding Russian passports.

Apart from refugees, Russia has seen the growing number of people willing to move to Russia as part of the Repatriation of Compatriots program. On the first days following Kurmanbek Bakiyev`s resignation, the number of visitors to the Russian Embassy increased three-fold. Now, observers say, people are spending days in queues there. According to some reports, the list of citizens willing to obtain Russian citizenship has already expanded to 500. People are going to move to Russia together with family members amid a threat of new riots. Despite the outward appearance of good relations, the Russian-population of Kyrgyzstan is no longer certain about their future.

Most refugees are arriving in Russia from northern areas since no more Russians are left in southern Kyrgyzstan. According to the 1999 census, only 7% out of 600,000 Slavic population of Kyrgyzstan lived in the south, while most were concentrated in Bishkek and the nearby Chuisk region and also in the Issyk-Kul district. In late 1990s, only 40,000 of Slavs inhabited the southern areas. By early 2007, the total Russian-speaking population in Kyrgyzstan dropped to 470,000. By January 2010, only 5,000 Russians remained in the south. Unemployment was blamed for such high level of migration. Most Kyrgyz migrants arrive in Russia from the labor-abundant agrarian south.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan is waiting for new riots believed to take place ahead of the national referendum on constitution scheduled for 27th of June. This time, tensions are expected to hit the northern parts of Kyrgyzstan. The authorities have tightened security in the region, with special task forces blocking all roads leading to the country and inspecting vehicles. A new coup was reported in the country on 22 June…We know who they are but cannot put them in prison since they are talking about peaceful protests though we understand their plot”. On the same day the 24kg news agency reported that eight provocation attempts had been suppressed in Bishkek. The situation was either far from stable in other Kyrgyz towns. On 3d of June, a conflict nearly broke out between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in Tokmak, when 2 shells were thrown at Megapolis entertainment centre. On 9th of June 5 people were injured in explosion at Megacity shopping mall.

Instability in Kyrgyzstan paves the way to the most dangerous ideas. Thus, a member of the Association of Border Cooperation in Kazakhstan, Marat Shibutov, said that it would be “the right decision to divide Kyrgyzstan between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan”, otherwise the Kyrgyz republic will be inevitably turned into a center for production and exports of drugs. Mr. Shibutov mentioned a NATO operation in Yugoslavia as a precedent.A possibility of entering the Russian Federation as autonomy has been widely discussed in Kyrgyzstan. Very few people there and abroad still believe in prosperous future for the republic.

Translated from Russian by SCF.

‘Private Security Firms Threaten Afghan Security’

June 26th, 2010 by Global Research

Officials in the Afghan government said that private security firms form a big threat to security in the country

The Afghan government and the US are concerned about a lack of transparency in the international contracts by which security firms are paid, which result in chaos in the country, the spokesperson for the Afghan president said.

The spokesman for President Karzai, Wahid Omar, sees private security firms behind the security concerns.

Meanwhile, a report published by the US Congress claimed that part of the US military budget in Afghanistan goes to the Taliban’s and insurgents’ pockets.

In the report, the US Congress says that the US forces in Afghanistan can pay millions of dollars for security of their logistic convoys in a week, but the money flows to the Taliban’s pocket as bribe.

While confirming the comments made by the Afghan government, the former Higher Education Minister-turned Taliban member Arsalan Rahmani said that private security firms are afraid of taking risks so they give bribes at the crossing locations controlled by the Taliban.

“This is a reality when convoys carrying foreign forces’ goods cross an area controlled by the Taliban. The security contractors split some of the money taken from the contract with the Taliban,” said Rahmani.

Reaching too Far, Delving too Deep: The Well from Hell

June 26th, 2010 by Christian A. DeHaemer

The Dwarves dug too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum… shadow and flame. — Saruman, The Lord of the Rings

There is something primordial about BP’s quest for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an Icarus-like story of super-ambition; of reaching too far, delving too deep.

I don’t know if you’ve stopped to contemplate what BP was trying to do…

The well itself started 5,000 feet below the surface. That’s the depth of the Grand Canyon from the rim.

And then the company attempted to drill more than 30,000 feet below that — Mt. Everest would give 972 feet to spare.

Furthermore, the company sought oil in a dangerous area of the seabed.

It was unstable and many think BP sought it out because seismic data showed huge pools of methane gas — the very gas that blew the top off Deepwater Horizon and killed 11 people.

More than a year ago, geologists criticized Transocean for putting their exploratory rig directly over a massive underground reservoir of methane.

According to the New York Times , BP’s internal “documents show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of ‘well control.’ And as far back as 11 months ago, it was concerned about the well casing and the blowout preventer.”

The problem is that this methane, located deep in the bowels of the earth, is under tremendous pressure…

Some speculate as much as 100,000 psi — far too much for current technology to contain. The shutoff vales and safety measures were built for only 1,000 psi.

It was an accident waiting to happen… And there are many that say it could get worse — much worse.

Geologists are pointing to other fissures and cracks that are appearing on the ocean floor around the damaged wellhead.

According to CNN:

The University of South Florida recently discovered a second oil plume in the northeastern Gulf. The first plume was found by Mississippi universities in early May.

And there have been other plumes discovered by submersibles…

Some geologists say that BP’s arrogance has set off a series of events that may be irreversible. There are some that think that BP has drilled into an deep-core oil volcano that cannot be stopped, regardless of the horizontal drills the company claims will stop the oil plume in August.

Need the mudlogs

Geologist, Chris Landau, for instance, has called for a showing of the mudlogs. A mudlog is a schematic cross sectional drawing of the lithology (rock type) of the well that has been bored.

So far, no one has seen them… BP keeps them hidden.

Mr. Landau claims:

It is a dangerous game drilling into high pressure oil and gas zones because you risk having a blowout if your mud weight is not heavy enough. If you weight up your mud with barium sulfate to a very high level, you risk BLOWING OUT THE FORMATION.

What does that mean? It means you crack the rock deep underground; as the mudweight is now denser than the rock, it escapes into the rock in the pore spaces and the fractures. The well empties of mud. If you have not hit high pressure oil or gas at this stage, you are lucky.

But if you have, the oil and gas come flying up the well and you have a blowout, because you have no mud in the well to suppress the oil and gas. You shut down the well with the blowout preventer. If you do not have a blowout preventer, you are in trouble as we have all seen and you can only hope that the oil and gas pressure will naturally fall off with time, otherwise you have to try and put a new blowout preventer in place with oil and gas coming out as you work.

Obviously, the oil and gas pressure hasn’t fallen off

In fact… it’s increased.

The problem is that BP may not only have hit the mother of high-pressure wells, but there is also a vast amount of methane down there that could come exploding out like an underwater volcano.

I recently heard a recording of Richard Hoagland who was interviewed on Coast to Coast AM.

Mr. Hoagland has suggested that there are cracks in the ocean floor, and that pressure at the base of the wellhead is approximately 100,000 psi.

Furthermore, geologists believe there are another 4-5 cracks or fissions in the well. Upon using a GPS and Depth finder system, experts have discovered a large gas bubble, 15-20 miles across and tens of feet high, under the ocean floor.

These bubbles are common. Many believe they have caused the sinking of ships and planes in the Bermuda Triangle.

That said, a bubble this large — if able to escape from under the ocean floor through a crack — would cause a gas explosion that Mr. Hoagland likens to Mt. St. Helens… only under water.

The BP well is 50 miles from Louisiana. Its release would send a toxic cloud over populated areas. The explosion would also sink any ships and oil structures in the vicinity and create a tsunami which would head toward Florida at 600 mph.

Now, many people have called Hoagland a fringe thinker and a conspiracy theorist. And they may be right… But that doesn’t mean he isn’t on to something.

EPA finds high concentrations of gases in the area

The escape of other poison gases associated with an underground methane bubble (such as hydrogen sulfide, benzene, and methylene chloride) have been found.

Last Thursday, the EPA measured hydrogen sulfide at 1,000 parts per billion — well above the normal 5 to 10 ppb. Some benzene levels were measured near the Gulf of Mexico in the range of 3,000 – 4,000 ppb — up from the normal 0-4 ppb.

More speculation of doom

The Oil Drum , an industry sheet, recently ran an article about the sequence of events that tried to stop the oil spill.

The upshot of industry insiders was that after trying a number of ways to close off the leak, the well was compromised, creating other leaks due to the high pressure. BP then cut the well open and tried to capture the oil.

In other words: BP shifted from stopping the gusher to opening it up and catching what oil it could.

The only reason sane oil men would do this is if they wanted to relieve pressure at the leak hidden down below the seabed… And that sort of leak — known as a “down hole” leak — is one of the most dangerous kind.

No stopping it

It means that BP can’t stop if from above; it can only relieve the pressure.

So, more oil is leaking out while BP hopes it can drill new wells before the current one completely erodes.

BP is in a race against time… It just won’t admit this fact.

According to the Oil Drum:

There are abrasives still present, a swirling flow will create hot spots of wear and this erosion is relentless and will always be present until eventually it wears away enough material to break it’s way out. It will slowly eat the bop away especially at the now pinched off riser head and it will flow more and more. Perhaps BP can outrun or keep up with that out flow with various suckage methods for a period of time, but eventually the well will win that race, just how long that race will be?

… No one really knows…

Which leads us back to Mr. Landau’s point about the mudlogs and why BP won’t release them.

I don’t know… Maybe I’m wearing my tinfoil hat too tight this morning… But this stuff seems possible — if it’s only a worst case scenario.

What strikes me as odd is the way the leadership of BP and the Obama administration is acting.

BP is running around apologizing to everyone they can find. Obama says give us $20 billion in escrow and $100 million for the people Obama put out of work on the oil rigs due to his six month ban — and BP says, “Sure thing mate, no problem.”

And all of this in a 20-minute meeting?

I’ve been dealing with oil companies for a long time and it just doesn’t add up…

Contrast it, for instance, with the Exxon situation in Alaska or the Union Carbide disaster in India.

Exxon fought tooth and nail for its shareholders; it appealed court rulings for 19 years. Union Carbide wasn’t settled for 25 years.

BP is rolling over like a simpering dog. Why?

The only reason I can think of is that the company knows — better if not as well as the Obama administration does — that it will get worse.

Much worse.

I’ve put together a list of oil cleanup stocks for the readers of my Crisis & Opportunity . Many are running, and one has pulled back into a solid buy range. Three more are on my buy list.

All I know is that this spill isn’t even half over.

Oil in the Gulf will lead the news-cycle for the foreseeable future.

And the companies that make products that stop, absorb, or disperse oil have an endless supply of work.

Their share prices have nowhere to go but up.

Christian DeHaemer is the Editor of Energy and Capital.

U.S. Law Professor Peter Erlinder and Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza in a Kigali, Rwanda courtroom.  Professor Erlinder wore one of Rwanda’s pink prison uniforms.

On Friday evening, June 19th, San Francisco’s Pirate Cat Radio‘s invited me on to talk about U.S. Law Professor Peter Erlinder’s arrest in Kigali, Rwanda and its context, including:

Reverend Rick Warren on Trial in the Court of Public Opinion

Rwanda’s 2010 presidential election, with August 9th polls, which will be no more than a charade, because none of the viable candidates have been allowed to register and freely campaign,

AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command, which was meeting in Kigali, to plan an August “exercise” in Accra, Ghana, to watchdog West African oil and gas and oil and gas transport corridors while Professor Peter Erlinder sat in a Rwanda prison, 

Rwandan prisons, some of the world’s most crowded, with the second highest per capita prison population in the world.  

–Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s appeal to the world to stand with Rwanda now, as they stood with Professor Erlinder.

 
In his press conference at William and Mitchell College of Law in Minneapolis/St. Paul on Wednesday, 05.23.2010, following his return, Professor Erlinder thanked all the people around the world who had called for his release, and said that he owed his life to them and to the Internet.  His release was, he said, a triumph for people power, but he also said that it would not have occurred if he had not been a white American lawyer with friends, family, and allies capable of organizing and lobbying relentlessly for his release.

He also said that he would have been disappeared if he hadn’t sat down in a Kigali hotel hallway and started making noise, refusing to cooperate, demanding to speak to his Embassy till the police called them. Airline records, and the U.S. Embassy’s records, on the day of his arrest, said that he’d already flown out of Kigali to Nairobi the previous morning.

He appeared at the press conference in a suit and tie, but held up a replica of the pink Rwandan prison costume he had worn in Kigali and promised to wear it in future appearances, in solidarity with the Rwandan people and prisoners, though he had promised his family not to wear it on Wednesday.  

Video of Peter Erlinder’s 06.23 press conference at William and Mitchell Law College in Minneapolis is not available yet, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune made this video of his homecoming available on the Youtube: 

China and the Reconfiguration of the World System

June 26th, 2010 by Prof. Fabio Massimo Parenti

Giovanni Arrighi passed away a year ago on June 18, 2009. 

Review of Arrighi’s book, Adam Smith in Beijing. Lineages of the Twenty-First Century, London, Verso, 2007, 418 pp.

Giovanni Arrighi, a Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, has contributed significantly to our understanding of the geohistorical evolution and spatial configuration of the world-system. His current research focuses on the causes and consequences of inequalities in the wealth, status and power of nations. His work certainly deserves greater attention from geographers.

Arrighi’s latest book is complex and highly enlightening as it offers historically and theoretically grounded insights into the current reconfiguration of the world-system. Where is the world going to? Arrighi argues that we shall concretely witness a world-system with a restored balance between east and west in the near future, as foreseen by Adam Smith more than two centuries ago – a new convergence after the nineteenth century’s great divergence.

After decades of study on world-system, capitalist nature, capitalist cycles, and Chinese development, Arrighi explains that nowadays China claims to be an alternative development path to western capitalism with the potential to contribute towards a more balanced and peaceful world. The theory is most likely too optimistic, but it is well founded and free of uninformed prejudices against China.

The book is structurally divided into four parts that often merge theoretical and empirical elements, though the former prevail in the first part. The book’s theoretical purpose is to rescue Adam Smith’s thought from neoliberalist and laissez-faire ideology. Arrighi deems that ‘far from theorizing a self-regulating market that would work best with a minimalist state or with no state at all … [Smith] presupposed the existence of a strong state that would create and reproduce the conditions for the existence of the market; that would use the market as an effective instrument of government; that would regulate its operation …” (pp. 42-43). He demonstrates this by adopting a critical and original reading of Adam Smith’s thought and by looking into his market-based development conceptions, comparing the said points with Marx and Schumpeter’s analyses. In this book the author offers an analysis of Smith’s idea on socio-economic development, emphasising the difference between ‘natural’ development path considered as non-capitalist market-based (from agriculture to foreign trade), and ‘unnatural’ development path reconceptualised as a capitalist one (from foreign trade to agriculture) (Chapter 2). The former is deemed to have been historically revealed in geopolitically peaceful China, whilst the latter characterised European (and North-American) capitalist expansion branded by wars issuing from the synergic interaction between capitalism, industrialism and militarism, besides the financial framework’s dominant role over production conditions.

An empirical analysis of the book deeply backs such a difference (see also Arrighi, 1994). Specifically, the author focuses on global turbulence during the dual-phased US hegemony – the crisis in the ‘70s and ‘80s that lacked a concrete alternative, and the recent US strategies focused on ‘domination without hegemony’ (Chapter 7). The latter is characterised by US weaknesses (eg the war against Iraq), and by China’s strong points expressed in its new regional and global power. A key thesis is that by funding US wars, China is the true winner in the US war on ‘global terrorism’ – that is, in practice, a war designed to save US hegemony, which is undergoing a crisis, by countering China’s economic growth and subsequent newfound power. As occurred during the two world wars, when the USA fed European battles during its growth, China’s growth is likewise bringing about the US decline.

In the final part, Arrighi reviews China’s ascent, considering both its historical and recent characteristics. At this point we can find a more substantial convergence between the Chinese development path and Smith’s related developmental theory, though ‘the close fit between the ongoing transformation of the Chinese political economy and Smith’s conception … does not mean that Deng’s reforms were in any way inspired by Smith’s text … those practises originated … in a pragmatic approach, inspired by Chinese traditions, to problems of governance in mid-Qing China’ (p. 368).

Opening-up to European, American and Japanese capital, which envisaged various restrictions, has failed to yield immediate remarkable results for China. However, the country has persevered in its growth, making the most of its domestic planning skills and the role played by Chinese residing overseas. In 1990 capital flowing in from Taiwan and Hong Kong comprised 75% of China’s FDI, while Western capital only increased some years later (pp. 352, 353). The book makes many well documented examples to ensure the reader’s extensive understanding of Chinese market policies and their peculiarities. 

Arrighi invites us to keep our distance from interpretations proposed by David Harvey (‘Neoliberalism “with Chinese characteristics” ’) and others, who are inclined to associate China with neoliberalism (pp. 353-354). It is dutiful to reject the idea – Arrighi deems – that development guided by Beijing can be associated with the adoption of typical neoliberal principles. Chinese transformations have been based on highly effective agricultural reforms. They have been led by a relatively egalitarian distribution of land, which, for instance, replaces the forms of accumulation by dispossession (Harvey, 2005, 2006) with decentralised agricultural and industrial developments – that are forms of accumulation without dispossession (Arrighi, p. 361-367). The land was redistributed, thus enabling farmers not to lose control of their means of production and to be involved in other non-agricultural rural activities. Further, recent Chinese developments were not guided by foreign capital, which only intervened at a subsequent stage, but rather by the happy convergence of the internal market’s expansion and the productive mobilisation of quality work force (in terms of health, education and self-management skills).

This is also confirmed by the current financial crisis and the various structural conditions implemented in the geo-economic and geopolitical space. In this case we can easily notice that, despite the degree of interdependence, western countries are more vulnerable to the current crisis than China, which has maintained a state-controlled banking system, strong monetary policies and a very low level of speculative activities. Quite the opposite, or quasi, of IMF ‘suggestions’, The Economist’s analysis, western economic policies and so on.       

Fabio Massimo Parenti is a professor of The Global Political Economy at the International Private School for Foreign Students ‘Lorenzo de’ Medici’, Rome, and Academic Advisor in Political Geography at the University of Molise, Isernia.

 

References

 

Arrighi, G. 1994: The Long Twentieth Century. London: Verso.

Harvey, D. 2005: A Brief History of Neoliberalism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Harvey, D. 2006: The Spaces of Global Capitalism. London: Verso.

Anti-Iran Bill in House Makes Claims With No Basis in Fact

June 26th, 2010 by Jeremy R. Hammond

Representative Jim Costa (CA) sponsored a bill introduced into the U.S. Congress on Tuesday “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the one-year anniversary of the Government of Iran’s fraudulent manipulation of Iranian elections, the Government of Iran’s continued denial of human rights and democracy to the people of Iran, and the Government of Iran’s continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”

The bill, H.R. 1457, was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and was cosponsored by Gary L. Ackerman (NY), Howard L. Berman (CA), Dan Burton (IN), Ron Klein (FL), Mike Pence (IN), Ted Poe (TX), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL).

The bill claims that “vote counts in the June 12, 2009, election were inconsistent with Iranian demographics and political trends, including provinces in which more votes were allegedly cast than the number of registered voters and vote counts that indicated unusual pro-Ahmadinejad voting patterns by traditionally anti-Ahmadinejad constituencies”.

It also refers to what it calls “the Government of Iran’s unrealistic vote count and fraudulent announcement of election results”.

Additionally, the bill “condemns the Government of Iran’s continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability”.

The claim that the 2009 election results “were inconsistent with Iranian demographics and political trends” is based upon the claim that there was a “swing” to Ahmadinejad, but is contested by both past voting trends and numerous public opinion surveys conducted both before and after the election.

When Ahmadinejad won in a run-off election in 2005, he did so with 61.7 percent of the vote, comparable to his 63 percent margin of victory in 2009.

Just prior to the 2009 vote, a public opinion survey conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow, the New America Foundation, and KA Europe SPRL found that Ahmadinejad was the preferred candidate by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

In that survey, 34 percent of respondents said they would vote for Ahmadinejad, while just 14 percent said they planned on voting for the incumbent’s leading contender, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Eight University of Tehran polls all found that Ahmadinejad was the frontrunner for the election.

A World Public Opinion survey conducted after the election, in September 2009, found that 55 percent of the 87 percent of respondents who said they voted in the election said that they voted for Ahmadinejad, while only 14 percent said they voted for Mousavi.

That survey also found that, asked who they would vote for if the election were to be held again, 49 percent said they would vote for Ahmadinejad, while only 8 percent would vote for Mousavi.

The poll also found that “81 percent of Iranians consider Ahmadinejad to be Iran’s legitimate president”, with only 10 percent who disagreed.

A GlobeScan poll following the election similarly found that a majority had voted for Ahmadinejad, with 76 percent of respondents saying they believed the election was fair and only 16 percent who believed it was “not very fair or not at all fair”.

Two further polls conducted by the University of Tehran similarly found that a majority of Iranians voted for Ahmadinejad.

Walter Mebane, a political scientist, statistician, and expert on electoral fraud, conducted an analysis of the results and found that “there’s no solid evidence of fraud.”

A World Public Opinion analysis in February, 2010 found that there was “little evidence to support” the conclusion that the Ahmadinejad had won by fraud.

The argument that more votes being cast in some provinces than the number of registered voters has been a leading argument put forth by those claiming fraud.

The most often-cited source cited for this claim is a Chatham House and Institute of Iranian Studies report entitled “Preliminary Analysis of the Voting Figures in Iran’s 2009 Presidential Election”, which argued that a turnout of more than 100 percent in Mazandaran and Yazd provinces was evidence of fraud.

That report acknowledged the fact that Iranian voters may cast their ballots anywhere in the country, and not only in their home province, but argued that the number of people who would have done so was not significant.

However, that analysis, principally authored by avowed expert on Iran, Professor Ali Ansari, fails to point out that the election occurred on a Friday, which is the Islamic day of prayer, and also the weekend in Iran.

Iran’s Guardian Council, in response to the allegations of fraud, put out a report that noted that people “journey to nicer geographic areas with better weather at weekends”, that students vote in cities where they go to school rather than their home districts, that members of the military similarly vote in the places they are based, and that cities attract workers who commute from elsewhere.

That report also observed that a similar phenomenon had occurred in the previous, uncontested, election and was “quite normal and inevitable”.

“In many areas the number of voters was significantly higher than the number of eligible voters in the area”, the Guardian Council report stated.

In one case, in Shemiranat, the voter count was at 800 percent the number of eligible voters, far higher than any single case in the 2009 election.

The claim of “fraudulent announcement of election results” contained within the bill is presumably based upon the fact that the Iranian government announced the results early.

However, typically omitted from accounts arguing that this is evidence of fraud is the fact that this was prompted by the Mousavi campaign’s announcement even before the first vote counts were released that he was “definitely the winner” based on “all indications from all over Iran.”

Mousavi told a news conference on the day of the election, “I am the absolute winner of the election by a very large margin.”

The state news agency responded an hour later by reporting than Ahmadinejad had actually won.

Political analysts Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett wrote in Foreign Policy earlier this month that the reason “so many got it wrong” on the Iranian election was because of “willfully bad journalism and analysis, motivated in at least some cases by writers’ personal political agendas.”

“From literally the morning after the election,” they observed, “the vast majority of Western journalists and U.S.-based Iran ‘experts’ rushed to judgment that the outcome had to have been the result of fraud.”

But, they added, “there has never been a shred of hard evidence offered to back up the assertion of electoral fraud.”

They also pointed out that “Mousavi failed to produce evidence substantiating his public claims”.

The claim in the draft bill that Iran continues to pursue “a nuclear weapons capability” is also not supported by the available evidence.

In 2007, a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concluded that Iran did not have an active nuclear weapons program in parallel to its civilian one.

In September 2009, Newsweek reported that the intelligence community was still standing by that assessment.

The 2007 NIE had claimed that Iran had had a weapons program until 2003, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a statement in September 2009 saying, “the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran” (emphasis added).

The IAEA, which is actively monitoring Iran’s nuclear program, has consistently reported that there has been no diversion of nuclear material to any military aspect of the program.

The former Director General of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei, had repeatedly pointed out that there was no evidence Iran had a weapons program

His successor, Yukiya Amano, also said just prior to taking over the office, “I don’t see any evidence in IAEA official documents about this”, in response to a question about whether Iran was seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Since that time, the U.S. has continued to fail to offer any proof of its claims, such as contained in this new draft bill, that Iran is seeking the nuclear bomb.

Affordable Care Act holds promise for US performance; focus on information technology and primary care vital to achieving high performance

New York, NY, June 23, 2010—Despite having the most expensive health care system, the United States ranks last overall compared to six other industrialized countries—Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—on measures of health system performance in five areas: quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. While there is room for improvement in every country, the U.S. stands out for not getting good value for its health care dollars, ranking last despite spending $7,290 per capita on health care in 2007 compared to the $3,837 spent per capita in the Netherlands, which ranked first overall.

Provisions in the Affordable Care Act that could extend health insurance coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans have the potential to promote improvements to the United States’ standing when it comes to access to care and equity, according to Mirror Mirror On The Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally 2010 Update, by Commonwealth Fund researchers Karen Davis, Cathy Schoen, and Kristof Stremikis. The United States’ low marks in the quality and efficiency dimensions demonstrate the need to quickly implement provisions in the new health reform law and stimulus legislation that focus on realigning incentives to reward higher quality and greater value, investment in preventive care, and expanding the use of health information technology.

“It is disappointing, but not surprising that, despite our significant investment in health care, the U.S. continues to lag behind other countries,” said Commonwealth Fund President and lead author Karen Davis. “With enactment of the Affordable Care Act, however, we have entered a new era in American health care. We will begin strengthening primary care and investing in health information technology and quality improvement, ensuring that all Americans can obtain access to high quality, efficient health care.”

Earlier editions of the report, produced in 2004, 2006, and 2007, showed similar results. This year’s version incorporates data from patient and physician surveys conducted in seven countries in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Key findings include:

On measures of quality the United States ranked 6th out of 7 countries. On two of four measures of quality—effective care and patient-centered care—the U.S. ranks in the middle (4th out of 7 countries). However, the U.S. ranks last when it comes to providing safe care, and next to last on coordinated care. U.S. patients with chronic conditions are the most likely to report being given the wrong medication or the wrong dose of their medication, and experiencing delays in being notified about an abnormal test result.

On measures of efficiency, the U.S ranked last due to low marks when it comes to spending on administrative costs, use of information technology, re-hospitalization, and duplicative medical testing. Nineteen percent of U.S. adults with chronic conditions reported they visited an emergency department for a condition that could have been treated by a regular doctor, had one been available, more than three times the rate of patients in Germany or the Netherlands (6%).

On measures of access to care, people in the U.S. have the hardest time affording the health care they need—with the U.S. ranking last on every measure of cost-related access problems. For example, 54 percent of adults with chronic conditions reported problems getting a recommended test, treatment or follow-up care because of cost. In the Netherlands, which ranked first on this measure, only 7 percent of adults with chronic conditions reported this problem.

On measures of healthy lives, the U.S. does poorly, ranking last when it comes to infant mortality and deaths before age 75 that were potentially preventable with timely access to effective health care, and second to last on healthy life expectancy at age 60.

On measures of equity, the U.S. ranks last. Among adults with chronic conditions almost half (45%) with below average incomes in the U.S. reported they went without needed care in the past year because of costs, compared with just 4 percent in the Netherlands. Lower-income U.S. adults with chronic conditions were significantly more likely than those in the six other countries surveyed to report not going to the doctor when they’re sick, not filling a prescription, or not getting recommended follow-up care because of costs.

Methodology

Data are drawn from the Commonwealth Fund 2007 International Health Policy Survey, conducted by telephone in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States; the 2008 International Health Policy Survey of Sicker Adults, conducted in the same seven countries plus France; the Commonwealth Fund 2009 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians, conducted in the same eight countries plus Italy, Norway, and Sweden; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Health Data 2009; and World Health Organization mortality and population statistics for 2002-03. The 2007 Commonwealth Fund survey focuses on the primary care experiences of nationally representative samples of adults ages 18 and older in the seven countries. The 2008 survey targets a representative sample of “sicker adults,” defined as those who rated their health status as fair or poor, had a serious illness in the past two years, had been hospitalized for something other than a normal delivery, or had undergone major surgery in the past two years. The 2009 survey looks at the experiences of primary care physicians.

The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation supporting independent research on health policy reform and a high performance health system.

BP is gassing Gulf Coast residents with poisonous Benzene and Corexit dispersants at dangerously high levels in the largest U.S. domestic military operation to date. The military and FEMA are engaged in Emergency Plans for 36 urban areas from Texas to Florida due to the unstoppable Gulf oil volcano the size of Mt. Everest, as WMR reports, indicating evacuations. Some people are advised to relocate now. (See Parts III and IV)

Satellite imagery that Obama’s administration withheld shows “under the gaping chasm spewing oil at an ever-alarming rate is a cavern estimated to be around the size of Mount Everest. This information has been given an almost national security-level classification to keep it from the public,” writes Wayne Madsen.

Human suffering in the Gulf is increasing from the world’s latest and largest toxic oil kill as BP lies and government remains silent about the human health risks. Most immediately damaging of the operation’s withheld information pertains to toxins breathed since the explosion.

Southerners reporting illnesses with symptoms reflecting Benzene and Corexit poisoning have had to face some leaders suggesting the cause to be mental illness, “stress”, while others, such as BP chief Tony Hayward, blamed the illness on rotten food.

Hayward is the guy who sold his £1.4 million shares in BP one month before the Gulf “spill.” This in turn caused a collapse of value and a saving to him of over £423,000 when BP’s share price plunged after its predicted destruction in the gulf according to the Telegraph. (Since Hayward’s pay package of £4 million a year had been insufficient, cashing out enabled him to pay off the mortgage on his family’s mansion in Kent.) 

No monitors, no dispersant toxicity studies

Other life-risking withheld information is that chemicals released have not been monitored. WMR colleague John Caylor, a Gulf Coast resident, reported, “BP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which have stated that several hundred air quality monitors have been deployed around the Florida and Alabama coasts and have not detected any benzene levels that would be harmful to human health, are lying.” (WMR, EPA and media lying about air monitors on Gulf coast, June 7-8, 2010)

A senior news source at WEAR-TV, ABC’s affiliate in Pensacola told Caylor that “there are no air quality monitors that have been deployed along the coastal bays and inlets by either BP or the EPA. The station sent reporters out to check on the monitors and discovered they were non-existent.” (Emphasis added)

“ABC News network out of New York and CNN are echoing the BP and Obama administration’s lines that the air quality is being monitored and is perfectly safe,” wrote Caylor. WWL TV reports monitors  are  being now used in south Louisiana. (See video #2 below)

The spewing oil and dispersant chemicals are toxic enough for so many people to become ill, evacuation would be required, especially before a hurricane blows the lethal cocktail over more Southerners. Hurricane season 2010, anticipated to be highly active and strong, will bring the oil and ipersant chemicals further inland, impacting health of too many people to be ignored. Already, even mainstream news reports 70 people in Louisiana have been admitted to hospital with symptoms of toxic poisoning. New Orleans area officials have urged people without means to evacuate before a hurricane to register now.

“Get a game plan now,” WWL reported.

Corexit and Benzene Gulf gas combo effects

On May 1, two U.S. Department of Defense C-130 Hercules aircraft were employed to spray oil dispersant, Corexit EC9500A and Corexit EC9527A. Dispersant information, however, was “kept secret under competitive trade laws.”

The stated purpose of using more chemicals on the chemical spill was “to break up the oil into tiny droplets that sink and can be more readily dispersed by ocean currents, to diminish the oil’s effect on sea life and shore habitats.” (New York Times, BP and EPA Skirmish Over Oil Dispersant, May 24, 2010) Mother Nature’s non-chemical, safe, effective bio-remediation method (see Youtube below) of disposing of the oil was dismissed. Safe and effective solutions for human and environmental survival are not part of the agenda.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) “Fact sheets” page for Nalco’s Corexit has pdfs available for “Dispersant Type 1,” Corexit 9500 (PDF); and “Dispersant Type 2,” Corexit 9527A (PDF). Tom Philpott of Grist, who found that these product numbers matched those identified unofficially by his sources, writes,

“The data sheets for both products contain this shocker: ‘No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product” — meaning testing their safety for humans and both data sheets include the warning ‘human health hazards: acute.’”

(As Philpott reported, the MSDS for Corexit 9527A states

‘excessive exposure may cause central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects,’ and ‘repeated or excessive exposure to butoxyethanol [an active ingredient] may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the liver.’

‘”Prolonged and/or repeated exposure through inhalation or extensive skin contact with EGBE [butoxyethanol] may result in damage to the blood and kidneys.’”

The solvents 2-Butoxyethanol and petroleum distillate appear “most dangerous,” writes Philpott, but these chemicals continue to be saturating water and air.

Out of work shrimper, oil clean-up work Clint Guidry reported, “The closest I got [to the Gulf water] was Venice, Louisiana, and you could smell it from Venice… they were actually spraying Corexit 9527A on the oil spill on top of the water and spraying all around – Venice sits on a peninsula, the Mississippi River, right at the – right above the Head of the Passes.

“And they were actually spraying this Corexit in the air all around where people were living, with kids and children, and continuously saying how safe it was.”

By May 24, New York Times reported that 700,000 US gallons (2,600,000 l) of Corexit dispersants had gassed the area, “approaching a world record.” BP was ordered to take “immediate steps to scale back the use of dispersants” that the military was reportedly spraying. Both entities seemingly follow orders from a higher command. Chemical gassing of Gulf life continued.

Benzene, or  “swamp gas,” the toxin released by fossil fuel oil, is lethal enough for public health concern and action without Corexit. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that benzene causes severe human injury such as chromosomal, and is a human carcinogen. Exposure to high levels of benzene is associated with leukemia cancer: acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, and chronic myelogenous leukemia. (See: 0.9977 Benzene (IARC Summary & Evaluation, Supplement7, 1987)

Benzene-related leukemias have been reported to develop in as short as nine months according to IARC.

The satiation of toxic air, water and food has posed serious health risks to all people of the Gulf, but especially to pregnant women, the elderly and people with health vulnerabilities such as asthma and emphysema. Gina Solomon, NRDC Senior Scientist outlined health risks Louisianians and other Gulf Coast residents face.

Only days after BPs greatest oil assault began, Solomon recommended that pregnant women leave the oil spill area since fossil fuel oil toxins cause miscarriages.

Oil spill VOC (volatile chemicals) acute health effects include “headaches, dizziness and nausea,” and “[o]ver the long term, many of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, so there are lots of reasons to worry about inhaling them,” advised Solomon. (Dupre, Hitting rock bottom calls for intervention, Examiner, May 9, 2010) The first nine Gulf spill workers were hospitalized for “dizziness, headaches and nausea” as Solomon predicted weeks before according to VOC effects, plus shortness of breath and nosebleeds, likely symptomatic of Corexit.

Adding fire to the fuel, burning the slick as the petrochemical-military-industrial complex are also doing,  has compounded the public health risk. Dr. Marcel Casavant, chief of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, has stated, “Smoke from burning oil contains many chemicals; some are potentially lethal poisons…” (ABC News, BP Gulf Oil Spill: Human Health Risks Small But Fears May Linger) Casavant indicates those at greatest risk are children.

Oil toxic poisoning does not always have immediate impact. One study showed that the effect is generational: women exposed to oil toxins have daughters with reproductive health problems, such as miscarriages. (See: Dupre, FUEL DVD countdown to end old, dirty, dangerous, corrupt business, Examiner, May 11. 2010; and Josh Tickell, FUEL, 2009)

Within days of the Gulf incident, the smell of oil was so strong in coastal deep south, it was reported that one lady had to shut all her windows, turn on her AC and “if her asthma keeps up like this, she’ll need to go on her breathing machine tonight.” Meanwhile, police were driving up and down the beach “explicitly telling tourists to ‘just stay out of the water.’” (It’s BP’s Oil, Mother Jones, May 24, 2010) That was almost a month ago. How is she now?

Harassed for attempted survival

CNN reported that commercial shrimper working on the “clean-up,” John Wunstell Jr. filed a temporary restraining order in federal court against BP to stop its harassment of workers that voice health concerns. He “wants the oil giant to give the workers masks.” Among first reported workers hospitalized for oil/gas injury, Wuntsell alleges that BP confiscated his clothing stripped from him in the hospital, and told him that they would not be returned. This story is eerily similar to those of Nazi gas chambers.

Louisiana Shrimpers Association also accused BP of threatening to fire fisherman from cleanup jobs if they complain about health problems or wear masks. (See Gulf Spill Workers Hopsitalized, Restraining Orders sought, News Inferno) Clean-up worker fishermen were not given respirators, “not even those working in the most dangerous area, closest to the well still spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico,” reported Guidry.

Such negative public relations for corporatism has almost been blacked-out. Gulf Coast residents lack information about serious risks BP’s poisons are inflicting on them. Solomon’s words of warning were a silenced clarion call to Gulf residents.

Another mild warning for Louisinans was finally offered today. A New Iberia, Louisiana chemist, Wilma Subra advised in a WWL TV new report (Youtube video below) that people experiencing ill health effects from the gassing should relocate, “move out of the area.”

Regardless of presidential or other statements about holding accountable those responsible for the latest oil assault on humanity, the U.S. military objective in the Gulf for its ultimate goal of Full Spectrum Dominance has been achieved.

Gulf Coast residents and The World Can’t Wait calling a Gulf Emergency Summit  for citizens to take charge of the Gulf crisis face U.S. military and BP’s hired private army mercenaries, similar to during Katrina’s aftermath.

The military now controls one of  the nation’s most important ports, its most inland port, Baton Rouge, and the nation’s largest river, the Mighty Mississippi. These are primary resources required in the Pentagon’s quest for total control of “land sea, and air superiority.” (See USSPACECOM’s Vision for 2020, and www.spacecom.af.mil/usspace)

On June 2, 2000, Defense News reported that “Full-spectrum dominance” is the key term in “Joint Vision 2020,” the blueprint DoD will follow in the future” and that ” Innovation has always been a hallmark of the American military. In 2020, this native American talent will be even more important.” For those who dare look, the Gulf operation has been a demonstration of such innovation.

Deepwater Unified Command Gulf Operation

In its quesst for the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. military innovation enabled it to seize control of Haiti within hours of its earthquake, then the entire Gulf after the “spill,” and now, in secret maneuvers will soon include more U.S. coastal land and inhabitants according to WMR. (See Gassed in the Gulf Part I) The petro-chemical-military industrial complex includes BP’s “security firm” Wackenhut, hired as a private army to help control the people of the Gulf region, hide Gulf atrocities and control the region through the ‘Deepwater Horizon Unified Command military operation.

Jeremy Scahill reports that Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, and her husband, Avi Lewis, host of al Jazeera English’s popular program Fault Lines, described a “run in” with Wackenhut, hired for “perimeter security” for the Deepwater Horizon Command. (Jeremy Scahill, BP and US Government ‘Command Center’ Guarded by Company from Afghan Embassy Hazing Scandal, May 28, 2010)

A foreign company, British Petroleum and U.S. government agencies, including the US Coast Guard, Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security are running Deepwater Unified Command according to Scahill.

Wayne Madsen reports that “36 urban areas on the Gulf of Mexico are expecting to be confronted with a major disaster from the oil volcano” and “emergency plans are being made for cities and towns from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Houston, New Orleans, Gulfport, Mobile, Pensacola, Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, Sarasota-Bradenton, Naples, and Key West.”

Citing sources within the US Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Madsen asserts that “the Obama White House and British Petroleum are covering up the magnitude of the volcanic-level oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and working together to limit BP’s liability for damage caused by what can be called a ‘mega-disaster.” Florida is preparing to evacuate, with FEMA taking the lead.

For this operation to succeed, mainstream media must participate in the PR campaign, (propaganda) since most Americans still believe and even center their lives around their TVs. An example of mainstream “news” propaganda presented was the reporting of BP containing one of the leaks. Madsen stated it was “pure public relations disinformation designed to avoid panic and demands for greater action by the Obama administration, according to FEMA and Corps of Engineers sources.”

Gulf military operation LYHOP or MYHOP

A “spill” reflects an accident. BP’s reported “spill,” actually an underwater oil volcano, was either a LYHOP, a Let It Happen On Purpose, or a MYHOP, a Make It Happen On Purpose. Both are false flag operations to further justify military control on U.S. soil in the already existing coup that began during the Bush administration in October 2008 when US troops were deployed for duty on U.S. soil.

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before,” said Rahm Emanual and David Rockefeller has said, “All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.” 

It has also been said that fascism will come when the people ask for it. Now that BP admits it cannot control the Gulf crisis, will the American people ask for military control, be grateful for it, or at least simply continue allowing its latest major step  in “full spectrum” control, same as Americans allowed passage of the USA PATRIOT ACT after 911?

The gulf crisis was predicted if not planned by more than one person knowing human and other life  would  be injured or killed. Exxon Mobil Chairman Rex Tillerson told a House of Representatives subcommittee that BP’s operation was “a dramatic departure from the industry norm in deepwater drilling.”

The explosion’s cause is attributed to a $500,000. missing piece of equipment, an acoustic switch, required in other countries. With G.W. Bush’s deregulations, the Gulf operation could proceed without the safety equipment, leading to military intervention. New York Times reports that during a Congressional hearing, members learned that BP also decided not to conduct a “cement bond log” test that would have measured the cement’s strength. Halliburton Energy Services was producer of the casing being run and cemented. This company knows how to make a profit. It is the same company profiting most from U.S. illegal Middle East invasions, Hurricane Katrina and Haiti’s earthquake.

Soon after the Gulf explosion, oil workers requesting anonymity report that they heard a telephone conversation in which the head of the rig was crying while telling the other party on the phone, “We knew this was going happen. Are you satisfied now?”

Since the explosion, “Louisiana and Florida have essentially begged for help, to no avail. Governor Jindal said with emotion, ‘We need more boom, more skimmers, more jack-up barges,’ reports Houston Homeland Security Examiner, Lou Gallio, adding, “Louisiana, however, has received only a fraction of the supplies it requested to protect itself.”

Add the BP chief Tony Hayward selling his shares one week before the explosion. (See Gassed in the Gulf, Part I) What has become a U.S. military operation increasingly appears to have been a LYHOP, if not a MYHOP false flag black operation.

“To the rescue” military innovation

During the fake but profitable H1N1 swine flu pandemic, troops were moved into five regional areas, ready for action. At that time, Ron Paul stated, “The stage is set for our country to be in remnant status… to evolve into a military dictatorship” in which few are aware of seriousness of this and “few seem to care.” (Video) Now, six thousand troops have moved into the southern area for a long-term Gulf operation with more on standby according to Defense News.

Defense News reports that Army Col. Patrick R. Bossetta, commander of State Aviation Command in Hammond, La. stated that the operation tempo is almost as high as Louisiana aviation units deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan experienced. (Department of Defense News, Louisiana Aviators Battle Oil Spill, Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul C. Meeker 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

The Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded, killed 11 platform workers and injured 17 others on April 20, 2010. By May 16, USNORTHCOM was preparing military operations within the U.S., working with DHS, state and local law enforcement on U.S. soil. (See: Maj. Dale Greer: 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs, Units make history with Air Force’s first homeland defense ORI, June 3, 2010, located on Intelhub.com)

“We’re thinking ahead over the long term” said Army Maj. Gen. Abner C. Blalock, Alabama’s adjutant general during a DoD roundtable. “[A]ssets from Missouri and Illinois have been tapped to support operations in Louisiana through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.” (Department of Defense News, States Prepare to Help Louisiana, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy, National Guard Bureau) “Six months” in Afghanistan occupation time means years.

Regrettably for some 911 survivors offended by the comparison, as during the 911 false flag black operation, hiding evidence is paramount to mission success. A prime example of this during the 911 black operation was Bush’s demand for a fake investigation. The Gulf operation evidence is being hidden. As noted in Part I of this series, military personnel and mercenaries have blocked journalists from the Gulf area and BP has coerced oil spill responders to sign contracts preventing them from talking to the press about their observations in the region.

In the 911 black operation designed to further fascism by catapulting the war on terror, early stage response workers were not provided preventive gear and therefore breathed toxic dust. Today, oil assault response workers are breathing toxins and not provided preventive gear.  BP spokesman Darren Beaudo claims constant air quality monitoring, by boats and wearable “badges” worn by supervisors on boats in areas judged the most dangerous, show no air quality problem and no need for workers to wear masks, all untrue according to reports highlighted in Part I of this series.

Years of military intervention are now needed in the U.S. because the Gulf emergency is greater than the public has been informed and the military needs control of the Gulf. Wayne Madsen reports that “when the Army Corps of Engineers first attempted to obtain NASA imagery of the Gulf oil slick — which is larger than that being reported by the media — it was turned down. However, National Geographic managed to obtain the satellite imagery shots of the extent of the disaster and posted them on their web site.”

“BP is the operator and principal developer of the Macondo Prospect with 65% of interest, while 25% is owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, and 10% by MOEX Offshore 2007, a unit of Mitsui. (Wikipedia)

Deepwater Horizon was a 9-year-old, massive, floating semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU), built by Hyundai Heavy Industries with supposed capacity to operate in waters up to 8,000 feet (2,400 m) deep and drill down to 30,000 feet (9,100 m) drilling an exploratory well at approximately 1,500 meters in the Macondo Prospect located in the Mississippi Canyon Block 252. This prospect is in the United States “exclusive economic zone,” about 41 miles (66 km) off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico.  “It was owned by Transocean under the Marshalese flag of convenience, under lease to BP until September 2013.” (Wikipedia)

BP’s Gulf exploration dangers were known for years. Explaining technological requirements for oil companies to drill as deeply as intended for fossil fuels in the Gulf, in the movie, FUEL, Ken Hern, now chairman of the board of Homeland Renewable Energy, emphatically alerts, “It would be easier to send a man to the moon than to drill as deep as they are planning.”

People of integrity, from Van Jones and oil rig supervisors to the UN Renewable Energy Ambassador of Goodwill Josh Tickell and a host of other environmentalist leaders, tried to prevent the Gulf disaster. They could have succeeded in saving lives and the planet if powers that be want that. 

Instead, in disregard of the weary, the poor, the downtrodden, mainly people of color in the South, the power elite have been quietly moving towards full and total control. They and the military who serve them are like the Mississippi River itself, Paul Robeson’s Ol’ Man River, looking the other way, knowing but acting as if unaware of human suffering.

“He don’t say nothin’. He just keeps rollin’ along.”

Deborah Dupré  has been a human rights advocate and environmentalist for over 25 years in the U.S., Vanuatu and Australia. Support her work by subscribing to her articles (free). For a more just and peaceful world, see Dupré’s Vaccine Liberty or Death book plus her Compassion Film Project DVDs.

Naval manoeuvres end today in Halifax

$2 million cost of Canadian-led program called ‘one of the best bargains in the business’

By EVA HOARE Staff Reporter

-Jets of all stripes also roared up the Bay of Fundy, sailors boarded vessels “of interest” and defended against warships and submarines disguised as the enemy….The 10-day operation covered 400,000 square kilometres stretching from Virginia to the Maritimes, and included live bombing by British Harrier jets….The exercise, to help a fictitious nation called Coral embroiled in political upheaval that dwindled into a humanitarian crisis, hasn’t happened on this scale for about 12 years….

It cost $2 million, involved international warships, fighter jets, submarines and naval officers, and covered an area eight times the size of Nova Scotia.

And it ends today in Halifax Harbour.

A giant military exercise dubbed Halcyon RV (Rendezvous), led by Canada, was designed to train military members to work together so when real war, humanitarian crises and counter-terrorism operations happen, there will be a seamless transition into action, said Commodore Mark Norman, who led Halcyon’s maritime component.

“This is all about readiness,” said Norman. “That’s what this exercise was all about.”

The 10-day operation covered 400,000 square kilometres stretching from Virginia to the Maritimes, and included live bombing by British Harrier jets flying off HMS Ark Royal on range fields at CFB Gagetown in N.B.

Jets of all stripes also roared up the Bay of Fundy, sailors boarded vessels “of interest” and defended against warships and submarines disguised as the enemy.

The exercise, to help a fictitious nation called Coral embroiled in political upheaval that dwindled into a humanitarian crisis, hasn’t happened on this scale for about 12 years, said Norman, who held a news conference Thursday with commodores of three other allied navies aboard the Danish navy’s HDMS Absalon.

The Canadian commodore also gave kudos to the Absalon, one of the newer warships in the world, saying in some respects it fits the bill for this country’s warship requirements.

“We’re looking quite seriously at a number of different ships,” Norman said. “It’s certainly attractive for a future capability perspective,” he said, noting the Absalon’s flexibility and its lower crew requirements.

The Absalon’s crew numbers 100, but that figure may be bumped up to 120, a Danish naval spokesman said.

Danish Commodore Christian Rune, also at the news conference, said “any potential customers would be very welcome” at his country’s shipyards.

One of two ships of its kind plying the ocean for Denmark, the Absalon will be joined by three similar Danish vessels in the future, the spokesman said, noting it’s capable of carrying tanks, being used for medical purposes and also has a helicopter deck. The roughly $750-million ship also features containerized weapons systems.

Norman said fully integrating fighting capability with allies such as the Americans is something that could be on the horizon.

At this point, Canadian warships cannot “plug in” to American weapons systems, but there is a possibility modifications could be made to do that, he said.

U.S. Commodore Aaron Jacobs said Canadians’ training is fully integrated with that of the Americans before heading out to sea.

“It’s the same thing as having a U.S. ship along,” Jacobs said.

British Lt.-Cmdr. Simon Chapman, representing HMS Ark Royal, said it was challenging for his crews to conduct exercises in this arena, but appreciated the ability to drop heavy weapons on Gagetown.

Norman said some of the costs of the exercise were assumed by all the countries involved, adding the $2 million price tag was “one of the best bargains in the business.”

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The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

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In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The meltdown of financial markets was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation. The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a “war without borders” led by the U.S. and its NATO allies.

This book takes the reader through the corridors of the Federal Reserve, into the plush corporate boardrooms on Wall Street where far-reaching financial transactions are routinely undertaken.

Each of the authors in this timely collection digs beneath the gilded surface to reveal a complex web of deceit and media distortion which serves to conceal the workings of the global economic system and its devastating impacts on people`s lives.

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent writer both on the contemporary structures of capitalism as well as on the history of the global political economy. He is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

“This important collection offers the reader a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets – especially the financial, social and military ramifications – from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.” -Mario Seccareccia, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

“In-depth investigations of the inner workings of the plutocracy in crisis, presented by some of our best politico-economic analysts. This book should help put to rest the hallucinations of ‘free market’ ideology.” -Michael Parenti, author of God and His Demons and Contrary Notions

“Provides a very readable exposé of a global economic system, manipulated by a handful of extremely powerful economic actors for their own benefit, to enrich a few at the expense of an ever-growing majority.” -David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited

The complex causes as well as the devastating consequences of the economic crisis are carefully scrutinized with contributions from Ellen Brown, Tom Burghardt, Michel Chossudovsky, Richard C. Cook, Shamus Cooke, John Bellamy Foster, Michael Hudson,  Tanya Cariina Hsu, Fred Magdoff,  Andrew Gavin Marshall, James Petras, Peter Phillips, Peter Dale Scott, Bill Van Auken, Claudia von Werlhof and Mike Whitney.

Despite the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives presented within this volume, all of the contributors ultimately come to the same conclusion: humanity is at the crossroads of the most serious economic and social crisis in modern history.

“This meticulous, vital, timely and accessible work unravels the history of a hydra-headed monster: military, media and politics, culminating in “humanity at the crossroads”; the current unprecedented economic and social crisis… From the first page of the preface of The Global Economic Crisis, the reasons for all unravel with compelling clarity. For those asking “why?” this book has the answers.” –Felicity Arbuthnot, award-winning author and journalist based in London.

“The current economic crisis, its causes and hopefully its cure have been a mystery for most people. I welcome a readable exposition of the global dimensions of the crisis and hope for some clarity on how to better organize money locally and internationally for the future.”  -Dr. Rosalie Bertell, renowned scientist, Alternative Nobel Prize laureate and Regent, International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine, Geneva

“This work is much more than a path-breaking and profound historical analysis of the actors and institutions, it is an affirmation of the authors’ belief that a better world is feasible and that it can be achieved by collective organized actions and faith in the sustainability of a democratic order.” -Frederick Clairmonte, distinguished analyst of the global political economy and author of the 1960s classic, The Rise and Fall of Economic Liberalism: The Making of the Economic Gulag

“Decades of profligate economic policies and promiscuous military interventions reached a critical mass, exploding in the meltdown of globalization in 2008. Today, the economic meltdown is reconfiguring everything – global society, economy and culture. This book is engineering a revolution by introducing an innovative global theory of economics.” -Michael Carmichael, prominent author, historian and president of the Planetary Movement

The Global Economic Crisis
The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

TO READ THE PREFACE CLICK HERE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall

PART I THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS

Chapter 1 The Global Economic Crisis: An Overview Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 2 Death of the American Empire Tanya Cariina Hsu
Chapter 3 Financial Implosion and Economic Stagnation John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff
Chapter 4 Depression: The Crisis of Capitalism James Petras
Chapter 5 Globalization and Neoliberalism: Is there an Alternative to Plundering the Earth? Claudia von Werlhof
Chapter 6 The Economy’s Search for a “New Normal” Shamus Cooke

PART II GLOBAL POVERTY

Chapter 7 Global Poverty and the Economic Crisis Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 8 Poverty and Social Inequality Peter Phillips

PART III WAR, NATIONAL SECURITY AND WORLD GOVERNMENT

Chapter 9 War and the Economic Crisis Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 10 The “Dollar Glut” Finances America’s Global Military Build-Up Michael Hudson
Chapter 11 Martial Law, the Financial Bailout and War Peter Dale Scott
Chapter 12 Pentagon and Intelligence Black Budget Operations Tom Burghardt
Chapter 13 The Economic Crisis “Threatens National Security” in America Bill Van Auken
Chapter 14 The Political Economy of World Government Andrew Gavin Marshall

PART IV THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM

Chapter 15 Central Banking: Managing the Global Political Economy Andrew Gavin Marshall
Chapter 16 The Towers of Basel: Secretive Plan to Create a Global Central Bank Ellen Brown
Chapter 17 The Financial New World Order: Towards A Global Currency Andrew Gavin Marshall
Chapter 18 Democratizing the Monetary System Richard C. Cook

PART V THE SHADOW BANKING SYSTEM

Chapter 19 Wall Street’s Ponzi Scheme Ellen Brown,
Chapter 20 Securitization: The Biggest Rip-off Ever Mike Whitney  

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Why was General McChrystal fired?

June 25th, 2010 by Barry Grey

Reactions within the US establishment to the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal indicate that disparaging remarks by McChrystal and his aides concerning President Obama and other civilian officials published in a Rolling Stone article were not the principal cause of his dismissal.

Rather, the article brought to a head the deepening crisis arising from the failure of the US military to suppress the popular resistance in Afghanistan to Washington’s colonial-style war. Dissatisfaction with McChrystal’s leadership had been mounting within the Obama administration since the failure of the offensive in Marjah launched last February. The decision announced earlier this month to delay for at least three months the assault on Kandahar was widely seen as an embarrassing setback.

Despite McChrystal’s reputation as a ruthless practitioner of counterinsurgency warfare, responsible for the killing of thousands of Iraqis, the general has more recently been the target of growing criticism that the effectiveness of the operation in Afghanistan was being undermined by his excessive concern over civilian casualties.

That concern has nothing to do with humanitarian considerations. Rather, it is based on the cold calculation—the Rolling Stone article refers to McChrystal’s “insurgent math”—that for every innocent person killed, ten new enemies are created.

The article, written by Michael Hastings, deals relatively briefly with the remarks of McChrystal and his aides about US civilian officials in Afghanistan. They are predictably crude, and could hardly have come as a surprise to Obama, let alone to the Pentagon. They are familiar with the fascistic and debased character of McChrystal’s entourage. Hastings concisely describes the general’s staff as “a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs.”

The comments made by McChrystal about Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and special envoy Richard Holbrooke have generated the most media attention. But Hastings devotes far more space relating the complaints of American soldiers that McChrystal is tying their hands by enforcing rules of engagement which limit the use of air strikes and mortar fire against potential civilian targets and restrict the ability of US troops to enter the homes of Afghan civilians.

Hastings writes that “McChrystal has issued some of the strictest directives to avoid civilian casualties that the US military has ever encountered in a war zone.” He continues: “But however strategic they may be, McChrystal’s new marching orders have caused an intense backlash among his own troops. Being told to hold their fire, soldiers complain, puts them in greater danger. ‘Bottom line?’ says a former Special Forces operator who has spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan, ‘I would love to kick McChrystal in the nuts. His rules of engagement put soldiers’ lives in even greater danger. Every real soldier will tell you the same thing.’”

Describing a meeting near Kandahar between McChrystal and disaffected troops, Hastings writes: “The soldiers complain about not being allowed to use lethal force, about watching insurgents they detain be freed for lack of evidence. They want to fight—like they did in Iraq, like they had in Afghanistan before McChrystal.”

Whether this view is really widely held among soldiers is not clear. But it appears that this argument is gaining support within the Washington policy-making elite and within the media. Hastings indicates his own standpoint—and, more broadly, that of many of McChrystal’s establishment critics—when he declares: “When it comes to Afghanistan, history is not on McChrystal’s side. The only foreign invader to have any success here was Genghis Khan—and he wasn’t hampered by things like human rights, economic development and press scrutiny.”

The New York Times weighed in on Wednesday, before the White House meeting between Obama and McChrystal at which the general submitted his resignation, with an article by its Afghan war correspondent, C. J. Chivers, headlined “Warriors Vexed by Rules For War.”

The article makes the case for the US to “take the gloves off” and dramatically escalate its assault on the Afghan population. Chivers quotes unnamed soldiers denouncing McChrystal for limiting the use of air strikes and artillery, and declares: “As levels of violence in Afghanistan climb, there is a palpable and building sense of unease among troops surrounding one of the most confounding questions about how to wage the war: when and how lethal force should be used.”

He continues: “The rules have shifted risks from Afghan civilians to Western combatants… Young officers and enlisted soldiers and Marines…speak of ‘being handcuffed…’”

“No one wants to advocate loosening rules that might see more civilians killed,” he writes. But this is precisely what The New York Times is demanding.

In its lead editorial published on Thursday, entitled “Afghanistan After McChrystal,” the Times demands a “serious assessment now of the military and civilian strategies.” It then writes, in chilling language: “Until the insurgents are genuinely bloodied they will keep insisting on a full restoration of their repressive power. Reports that some State Department officials are also advocating a swift deal with the Taliban are worrisome.” [Emphasis added].

This statement, by the authoritative voice of the liberal Democratic Party policy-making establishment, provides an insight into the deeper issues involved in McChrystal’s removal. Apparently, for the Times, the United States has not pursued with sufficient vigor the work of “seriously bloodying” those in Afghanistan opposed to foreign occupation during more than eight years of war.

Tens of thousands of Afghans have already been killed by US and NATO forces—nobody knows the full extent of the slaughter since Washington does not bother to count its victims. Tens of thousands more have been wounded, jailed or tortured in US prisons.

This campaign of killing and terror is aimed at drowning in blood an entirely legitimate struggle by the Afghan people for national liberation against a colonial occupier. The main problem the US faces is that after eight years of war and more than three decades of US subversion and provocation, popular resistance by the Afghan masses against American imperialism is growing. The answer of the US ruling elite is to murder more Afghans.

The war in Afghanistan is a crime against humanity, and those who are perpetuating it are war criminals.

The struggle to arouse opposition in the working class within the United States and internationally must be renewed.

VIDEO: Is it “Raining Oil” in Metro New Orleans?

June 25th, 2010 by Global Research

This video was posted to YouTube on June 22, 2010.

The town River Ridge is up river from New Orleans and near the city’s airport.

It rains nearly everyday in New Orleans during the summer months. 

What the Bush-Cheney administration failed to do with the levee failures and the non-relief and non-rebuilding efforts, they accomplished by permitting BP to commence an insanely reckless drilling project

This was NOT a normal well. 

It’s in 5,000 feet of water and is reputed to be close to 30,000 into the earth. 

In Russia, where such super deep wells were pioneered, they are only drilled on land and far from human habitations.

At least one prominent oil industry safety specialist warned in writing against the drilling of this well. 

This permit was made possible by Dick Cheney’s gutting of the federal Minerals Management Service and the Obama administration’s very cosy relationship with the oil industry. 

Not an “Act of God,” not an accident, not an unlucky break. 

This catastrophe, which will prove to be bigger than Chernobyl, is the natural outcome of corruption completely out of control.

One thing you can count on: 

The victims – and there will be millions of them – will receive no help and no compensation for their losses. 

Natural gas discoveries off Israel have sparked a debate with Lebanon over potential resources in the eastern Mediterranean and prompted Cyprus to seek clarification on maritime boundaries.

Noble Energy Inc. and Israeli companies controlled by billionaire Isaac Tshuva have announced two finds in the past 18 months that may hold 24 trillion cubic feet of gas, more than twice the U.K.’s gas reserves. Cyprus is seeking clarification on water borders as Lebanon officials have said the gas may extend into its waters and urged its own prospecting.

“We’re engaged in an ongoing dialogue with Cyprus in order to reach an agreement based on international practice and good neighborly relations,” said Yigal Palmor, a spokesman at Israel’s Foreign Ministry. “As for Lebanon, they don’t even acknowledge that they should talk directly with us, so their claims are not based on good faith.”

The dispute adds to tension for the nation, already criticized for its raid on a ship carrying aid to the Gaza strip. Israel and Lebanon are technically at war and have no diplomatic relations. Israel, which is seeking to wean itself off oil and coal imports from as far away as Mexico and Norway and has bought gas from Egypt in the past decade, has said the finds may allow it to start exporting gas.

‘Immediate Action’

“We will not allow Israel or any company working for Israeli interests to take any amount of our gas that is falling in our zone,” Lebanon Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said by telephone on June 17, adding that it warned Noble not to work close to its economic zone. “It’s the responsibility on the one hand of the Israeli government and on the other hand of Noble.”

Bassil said the government and lawmakers “should move quickly on starting the exploration of offshore gas.”

“We’re in touch with Israel regarding the demarcation of the exclusive economic zone,” a Cyprus Foreign Ministry official, who declined to be named citing government policy, said by telephone. “There has been no agreement so far as there is no appropriate legal framework in Israel.”

The finds, Leviathan and Tamar, lie about 130 kilometers (81 miles) and 90 kilometers, respectively, off Israel, according to Israel’s National Infrastructure Ministry. Delek Drilling-LP, one of the fields’ partners, said on June 15, in response to reports, that the licenses are in waters where Israel has authority.

Shares Fall

Delek Drilling fell 7 percent this week on concern over the territorial disputes and as the government said it may increase taxes on gas revenue. Avner Oil & Gas Ltd., another partner in Tamar and Leviathan, fell 4 percent while Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP rose 2 percent. Noble is up 3 percent this week.

The Leviathan prospect is owned 39.7 percent by Noble, 15 percent by Ratio Oil Exploration 1992 LP, 22.7 percent by Delek Drilling-LP and 22.7 percent by Avner Oil & Gas Ltd.

A coastal state is entitled to explore for oil and gas in its economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers), according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. A halfway point is used when the distance between countries is less than 400 nautical miles. Haifa, in northern Israel, is about 148 nautical miles from Cyprus, which is located north of Leviathan.

Complex Claim

Lebanon’s claim may be complex because its border with Israel is indented, making it harder to establish where Israel’s sea boundary ends and Lebanese waters begin, said Robbie Sable, a professor of international law at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. Cyprus is “a more straightforward case” since the licenses are closer to Israel, there’s very “little to dispute” between the two countries, he said.

Legal disputes between states over the maritime zones where gas is located usually begin with negotiations, said Norman Martinez, a lecturer at the International Maritime Law Institute. When negotiations fail, the parties may agree to other means of settlement such as arbitration, he said. Most end up in the international court of justice, he said.

Israel has a signed agreement with Jordan on the border in the Gulf of Eilat, and has unwritten agreements with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. There’s no such agreement with Lebanon. In cases of dispute, it is usual practice to hand the decision to arbitrators, which are listed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982. Israel isn’t a signatory to the convention because it’s concerned over biased arbitrators.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Wainer in Tel Aviv at [email protected]

Alan Greenspan has joined the ranks of the deficit hawks and is calling for austerity measures to reduce government spending. In an op-ed in last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal titled ”U.S. Debt and the Greece Analogy”, Maestro Greenspan made the case for fiscal belt-tightening and disputed leading economists, like Nobel prize winners Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, who believe that the Obama administration should provide a second round of stimulus. In the opening paragraph, Greenspan dismisses the idea that cuts in government spending will push the economy back into recession. Here’s an excerpt: 

“I believe the fears of budget contraction inducing a renewed decline of economic activity are misplaced. The current spending momentum is so pressing that it is highly unlikely that any politically feasible fiscal constraint will unleash new deflationary forces.”

The op-ed features the same circular logic which became Greenspan’s trademark during his tenure at the Fed. The real point of the article does not become clear until the very end when the ex-Fed chief levels an attack on Social Security. Here’s a clip: 

“The federal government is currently saddled with commitments for the next three decades that it will be unable to meet in real terms. This is not new. For at least a quarter century analysts have been aware of the pending surge in baby boomer retirees.

We cannot grow out of these fiscal pressures. The modest-sized post-baby-boom labor force, if history is any guide, will not be able to consistently increase output per hour by more than 3% annually. The product of a slowly growing labor force and limited productivity growth will not provide the real resources necessary to meet existing commitments. (We must avoid persistent borrowing from abroad. We cannot count on foreigners to finance our current account deficit indefinitely.)

Only politically toxic cuts or rationing of medical care, a marked rise in the eligible age for health and retirement benefits, or significant inflation, can close the deficit. I rule out large tax increases that would sap economic growth (and the tax base) and accordingly achieve little added revenues.” (“U.S. Debt and the Greece Analogy”, Alan Greenspan, Wall Street Journal)

Greenspan has been riding the “private accounts” bandwagon for more than a decade. Not satisfied with having reworked Social Security (under Reagan) to serve as a de facto flat tax levied on the working poor; Maestro now wants to divert the Mississippi River of revenue-streams into Wall Street’s coffers. ”The major attraction of personal accounts is that they can be constructed to be truly segregated from the unified budget, and therefore are more likely to induce the federal government to take those actions that would reduce public dis-saving,” Greenspan opined in testimony before Congress in 2005. 

Greenspan has allied himself with a small army of like-minded elites who continue to boost austerity as a path to growth and prosperity. Deficit hawkery has replaced supply-side theory as the latest viral-form of voodoo economics. It turns established economic principle on its head to achieve a given political objective.  This is from Bloomberg: 

“Governments have proven they can spur expansion by focusing their belt-tightening on spending cuts rather than tax increases, according to studies by Harvard University professor Alberto Alesina and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists Kevin Daly and Ben Broadbent. 

“There have been mountains of evidence in which cutting government spending has been associated with increases in growth, but people still don’t quite get it,” Alesina said in an interview. He made a presentation to European finance chiefs on the topic during their April meeting in Madrid. 

The key is an emphasis on cutting spending rather than raising taxes, said Goldman Sachs economists Broadbent and Daly in London. Lower spending means consumers and companies don’t fear higher taxes, so demand accelerates. A smaller public sector also helps reduce borrowing costs and makes economies more competitive as fewer government workers lighten labor expenses.” (“Cameron Bets on Growth From Austerity as U.S. Delays”, Simon Kennedy and Rich Miller, Bloomberg)

Cutting spending reduces economic activity and slows growth. The Bloomberg article merely presents the rationale for class warfare.  Fiscal strangulation is not the path to economic recovery. Still, the deficit hawks have mounted an impressive public relations campaign and have powerful friends at the Fed, the Treasury, the White House, and Brussels. In the U.S., President Obama has appointed former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson to head a bipartisan commission to “fix the federal government’s long-term budget problems”, which is code for gutting social programs. In the E.U., German Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken the lead promising to hack $80 billion from the country’s modest deficits. Even Tokyo, after enduring 15 years of excruciating deflation, is planning to slash long-term government spending. The groundswell for hair shirts is steadily growing increasing the probability of another severe downturn.  

Here’s the problem: The bursting of the giant asset bubble pushed the economy into a long-term slump that required emergency action by the Central Bank. Fed chair Ben Bernanke’s liquidity injections and zero rates helped to pull the financial system back from the brink, but households and consumers are still deep in the red.  The deleveraging process is ongoing and will last for years. Obama must either increase government spending or succumb to grueling economic contraction. 

As of March, the average U.S. household’s debt-to-disposable income ratio was 122% considerably lower than its  peak of 131% at the beginning of 2008. Economists believe that that number will eventually return-to-trend at 100% which portends years of sluggish consumer spending and slow growth.   With more families forced to cut back to patch their battered balance sheets, fiscal stimulus must increase or the economy will slip back into recession. Belt tightening now will only increase the deficits by reducing government tax revenues.  In a recent interview, Nomura economist Richard Koo was asked if the US should try to reduce their deficits by cutting back stimulus. Here’s how Koo responded:

“Not until private sector deleveraging is over. At present, private sectors in the US, UK, Spain, Portugal, and Italy are still deleveraging. This means these countries should not try to reduce fiscal stimulus. Any attempt to cut deficit in these countries is likely to result in a weaker economy and a larger deficit as seen in Japan in 1997…. When private sector is deleveraging, money multiplier is negative at margin. No monetary stimulus will work in such an environment where people are trying to reduce debt, even with zero interest rates, in order to repair their damaged balance sheets. 

Until people realize that they have contracted a completely different disease called balance sheet recession where the private sector is minimizing debt instead of maximizing profits, a constructive policy dialogue is not likely to be possible. Once the exact nature of the disease is understood, the remedy (sufficient and sustained fiscal stimulus until private sector balance sheets are repaired) will become obvious to everyone.” (“Interview: Richard C. Koo, Nomura Research Institute”, Acemaxx Analytics)

Koo does not believe that the current recovery is self sustaining. The rebound is stimulus-driven and merely reflects improvements in the financial sector (and the markets) which plunged after Lehman Bros collapsed. The heavy-lifting of repairing household balance sheets (which suffered losses of nearly $12 trillion) is still in its early stages.  President Obama’s $787 billion fiscal stimulus has helped a bit, but it’s mainly been used to pay unemployment claims, provide  tax cuts and to make up for the losses in state revenues. And while it is not true that the stimulus “has done nothing” as the deficit hawks claim (IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com all estimate it created around 2.5 million jobs.) its effects have largely been canceled-out by the gigantic state budget gaps. Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett explains in the Washington Post:  

“The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that in 2011, the states will have to come up with a total of $180 billion. These budget shortfalls are the equivalent of a massive anti-stimulus….And because they cannot run deficits to hold them over until their economies improve, they’re cutting services and raising taxes. Using the data for 2009 and 2010, and then projecting for 2011 and 2012, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities expects the total state shortfall will reach $610 billion. Because some of the federal stimulus dollars were saved rather than spent, the effective stimulus we’ve had has been less than the $789 billion that’s often touted. It might even be less than $610 billion shortfall in the states. Which would mean the anti-stimulus overwhelmed the stimulus. Or, you could look at it in reverse: Nick Johnson, who directs the State Fiscal Project at CBPP, says that “the effect of the federal stimulus was to wipe out the negative effect of the state contraction.”(“You’ve seen the stimulus. Now, meet the anti-stimulus”, Ezra Klein, Washington Post)

The Obama stimulus was a good start, but there’s more work to be done. It prevented a downward spiral of falling asset prices and  debt-deflation, but it wasn’t big enough to put a dent in skyrocketing unemployment or lay the groundwork for another expansion. There needs to be a renewed commitment to long-term stimulus until households regroup and the economy gets back on track.  Monetary policy alone will not succeed. The monetary transmission mechanism is on the fritz so reserves are piling up at the banks, but not getting into the hands of people who can generate more activity.

Consumer spending is flat, home prices are set to fall, unemployment will likely edge higher, private sector credit is still contracting, capacity utilization is far below pre-crisis levels, the CPI is slipping,  and yields on US Treasuries are priced for deflation.  The government must pick up the slack or their will be a general fall in prices that will trigger more layoffs, larger deficits, and social unrest. Premature fiscal consolidation can have unintended consequences as noted by Richard Koo:

“Pushing ahead with these misguided policies risks a collapse of social and economic foundations and could even threaten the survival of democratic structures.”

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The Global Economic Crisis
The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

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In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The meltdown of financial markets was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation. The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a “war without borders” led by the U.S. and its NATO allies.

This book takes the reader through the corridors of the Federal Reserve, into the plush corporate boardrooms on Wall Street where far-reaching financial transactions are routinely undertaken.

Each of the authors in this timely collection digs beneath the gilded surface to reveal a complex web of deceit and media distortion which serves to conceal the workings of the global economic system and its devastating impacts on people`s lives.

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent writer both on the contemporary structures of capitalism as well as on the history of the global political economy. He is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

“This important collection offers the reader a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets – especially the financial, social and military ramifications – from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.” -Mario Seccareccia, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

“In-depth investigations of the inner workings of the plutocracy in crisis, presented by some of our best politico-economic analysts. This book should help put to rest the hallucinations of ‘free market’ ideology.” -Michael Parenti, author of God and His Demons and Contrary Notions

“Provides a very readable exposé of a global economic system, manipulated by a handful of extremely powerful economic actors for their own benefit, to enrich a few at the expense of an ever-growing majority.” -David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited

The complex causes as well as the devastating consequences of the economic crisis are carefully scrutinized with contributions from Ellen Brown, Tom Burghardt, Michel Chossudovsky, Richard C. Cook, Shamus Cooke, John Bellamy Foster, Michael Hudson,  Tanya Cariina Hsu, Fred Magdoff,  Andrew Gavin Marshall, James Petras, Peter Phillips, Peter Dale Scott, Bill Van Auken, Claudia von Werlhof and Mike Whitney.

Despite the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives presented within this volume, all of the contributors ultimately come to the same conclusion: humanity is at the crossroads of the most serious economic and social crisis in modern history.

“This meticulous, vital, timely and accessible work unravels the history of a hydra-headed monster: military, media and politics, culminating in “humanity at the crossroads”; the current unprecedented economic and social crisis… From the first page of the preface of The Global Economic Crisis, the reasons for all unravel with compelling clarity. For those asking “why?” this book has the answers.” –Felicity Arbuthnot, award-winning author and journalist based in London.

“The current economic crisis, its causes and hopefully its cure have been a mystery for most people. I welcome a readable exposition of the global dimensions of the crisis and hope for some clarity on how to better organize money locally and internationally for the future.”  -Dr. Rosalie Bertell, renowned scientist, Alternative Nobel Prize laureate and Regent, International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine, Geneva

“This work is much more than a path-breaking and profound historical analysis of the actors and institutions, it is an affirmation of the authors’ belief that a better world is feasible and that it can be achieved by collective organized actions and faith in the sustainability of a democratic order.” -Frederick Clairmonte, distinguished analyst of the global political economy and author of the 1960s classic, The Rise and Fall of Economic Liberalism: The Making of the Economic Gulag

“Decades of profligate economic policies and promiscuous military interventions reached a critical mass, exploding in the meltdown of globalization in 2008. Today, the economic meltdown is reconfiguring everything – global society, economy and culture. This book is engineering a revolution by introducing an innovative global theory of economics.” -Michael Carmichael, prominent author, historian and president of the Planetary Movement

The Global Economic Crisis
The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

TO READ THE PREFACE CLICK HERE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall

PART I THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS

Chapter 1 The Global Economic Crisis: An Overview Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 2 Death of the American Empire Tanya Cariina Hsu
Chapter 3 Financial Implosion and Economic Stagnation John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff
Chapter 4 Depression: The Crisis of Capitalism James Petras
Chapter 5 Globalization and Neoliberalism: Is there an Alternative to Plundering the Earth? Claudia von Werlhof
Chapter 6 The Economy’s Search for a “New Normal” Shamus Cooke

PART II GLOBAL POVERTY

Chapter 7 Global Poverty and the Economic Crisis Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 8 Poverty and Social Inequality Peter Phillips

PART III WAR, NATIONAL SECURITY AND WORLD GOVERNMENT

Chapter 9 War and the Economic Crisis Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 10 The “Dollar Glut” Finances America’s Global Military Build-Up Michael Hudson
Chapter 11 Martial Law, the Financial Bailout and War Peter Dale Scott
Chapter 12 Pentagon and Intelligence Black Budget Operations Tom Burghardt
Chapter 13 The Economic Crisis “Threatens National Security” in America Bill Van Auken
Chapter 14 The Political Economy of World Government Andrew Gavin Marshall

PART IV THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM

Chapter 15 Central Banking: Managing the Global Political Economy Andrew Gavin Marshall
Chapter 16 The Towers of Basel: Secretive Plan to Create a Global Central Bank Ellen Brown
Chapter 17 The Financial New World Order: Towards A Global Currency Andrew Gavin Marshall
Chapter 18 Democratizing the Monetary System Richard C. Cook

PART V THE SHADOW BANKING SYSTEM

Chapter 19 Wall Street’s Ponzi Scheme Ellen Brown,
Chapter 20 Securitization: The Biggest Rip-off Ever Mike Whitney  

TO READ THE PREFACE CLICK HERE

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The political crisis in Washington, sparked by the publication of inflammatory comments by General Stanley McChrystal, the overall commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, culminated in the firing of McChrystal Wednesday morning and his replacement by General David Petraeus, the former US commander in Iraq.

McChrystal was summoned from Afghanistan to a White House meeting where he submitted his resignation over the publication of a lengthy article in Rolling Stone magazine, in which he and his top aides were quoted making disparaging references to President Obama and nearly all the administration’s top national security officials.

Obama accepted the resignation, and McChrystal left the White House immediately. After three hours of meetings with his national security council and Pentagon brass, Obama appeared before television cameras to announce McChrystal’s ouster and the nomination of Petraeus to succeed him.

In his brief remarks, with no questions allowed from the media, Obama emphasized that he remained fully in support of the program of military escalation and counterinsurgency warfare with which McChrystal is identified. He pledged to do “whatever is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan,” adding, “This is a change in personnel but it is not a change in policy.”

General Petraeus, who was McChrystal’s superior as head of the U.S. Central Command, was closely involved in the administration’s Afghan policy deliberations and fully supported the decision last December to dispatch an additional 30,000 US troops.

Two aspects of the McChrystal affair deserve consideration. First, and most obviously, the firing of McChrystal demonstrates the worsening position of the US intervention in Afghanistan. The general would not have been summarily dismissed over a magazine article if the war had been going well.

The day McChrystal was fired, the death toll for US and NATO troops rose to 76 in June, making this the worst month for the foreign occupation forces since the US first invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. Among the Afghan people, President Hamid Karzai is widely reviled as a corrupt American puppet. Antiwar sentiment is mounting in all the European countries with military contingents in Afghanistan, as well as in the United States, where a majority in opinion polls now say the war is not worth fighting.

A report issued Monday by a congressional committee found that the supply chain for US troops in Afghanistan funnels hundreds of millions of dollars into the coffers of corrupt local warlords, many of whom in turn pay Taliban insurgents not to attack their trucks. The Pentagon is thus indirectly financing the insurgency, to the tune of $2 million a week according to one estimate cited in the report.

On Tuesday evening, three of the most pro-war US senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both Republicans, and Independent Democrat Joseph Lieberman, issued a joint statement condemning McChrystal’s comments as “inappropriate and inconsistent with the traditional relationship between commander-in-chief and the military.”

They effectively endorsed his dismissal in advance, declaring, “The decision concerning General McChrystal’s future is a decision to be made by the president of the United States.”

The backing for Obama from congressional Republicans and many right-wing media pundits shows that significant sections of the ruling elite have lost confidence in McChrystal and his counterinsurgency strategy. There was growing criticism for the past month, following the evident failure of the US intervention in Marjah and the forced postponement of the planned offensive into Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city and a Taliban stronghold.

Obama’s selection of Petraeus to replace McChrystal is a clear effort to appease these right-wing critics. Petraeus directed the US military escalation in Iraq in 2007-2008, which is credited in ruling circles with salvaging the US intervention there, although some 90,000 US troops still remain. The appointment of Petraeus was suggested in advance by neoconservative columnist William Kristol, and hailed by the right-wing media as a political masterstroke.

The second key element in the McChrystal affair is what it has revealed about the internal state of affairs in the US military. An entire layer has developed in the officer corps and high command, which is openly contemptuous of civilian authority, while their nominal superiors are themselves thoroughly intimidated by military opposition.

The Army plays an ever-growing role in American political life, fueled by an endless succession of wars. The US military has been continuously engaged in combat operations for nearly nine years, the longest such period in American history, and the Pentagon operates under a “Long War” doctrine, which envisions a more or less indefinite continuation of such warfare.

A few of the more perceptive press commentators have pointed out this aspect of the McChrystal affair. Simon Tisdall, writing in the British Guardian, observed, “The disrespectful behaviour of the US commander in Afghanistan and his aides was symptomatic of a more deeply rooted, potentially dangerous malaise, analysts suggest. This week’s events might thus be termed a very American coup.”

Liberal Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman, writing in the Los Angeles Timesabout “An increasingly politicized military,” argued that the McChrystal affair is more ominous than the celebrated Truman-MacArthur clash of 1951, which ended with MacArthur’s dismissal in the midst of the Korean War. That is because McChrystal voices openly the sentiments an officer corps that has become, through a political selection over the past three decades, overwhelmingly oriented to the right-wing of the Republican Party and to Christian fundamentalism.

Ackerman cites surveys showing that “a majority of active-duty officers believe that senior officers should ‘insist’ on making civilian officers accept their viewpoints” and that “only 29% believe that high-ranking civilians, rather than their military counterparts, ‘should have the final say on what type of military force to use’.”

The ominous implications of this trend were expressed in two reports published today in the New York Times. An article by correspondent C.J. Chivers describes growing frustration among field officers, NCOs and rank-and-file soldiers in Afghanistan with McChrystal’s counterinsurgency tactics, which, in the name of reducing civilian casualties, call for “further tightening rules guiding the use of Western firepower—airstrikes and guided rocket attacks, artillery barrages and even mortar fire—to support troops on the ground.”

Chivers claims the rules “have shifted risks from Afghan civilians to Western combatants,” leading to widespread resentment among the troops over “being handcuffed” in the fight against the Taliban and other insurgents. His unstated conclusion is that the replacement of McChrystal should be welcomed as a step to unleashing the full power of American weaponry on the Afghan population.

A commentary by correspondent Robert Mackey, published on the Times web site, takes note of the Chivers article and poses the question, “Is a Culture War Between American Soldiers and Civilians Inevitable?” Mackey points to the growing gulf between the American population and an all-volunteer military, much of its leadership recruited from the families that have provided several generations of military officers.

McChrystal himself, he notes, was the son of a major general who served in the US occupation government in Germany after World War II and later at the Pentagon. All five of McChrystal’s siblings either joined the military or married into it.

What such commentaries begin to reveal is the emergence in the United States of a distinct military caste, virulently hostile to democracy, civilian control and any form of popular opposition to American imperialism.

The firing of McChrystal and his replacement by Petraeus represents, not a blow against this trend, but the means by which Obama and the Democratic Party adapt themselves to the demands of the military brass. McChrystal’s only crime—his “error in judgment”, in Obama’s parlance—was to express in too blunt and unguarded a fashion the sentiments of broad sections of the US officer corps.

June: Deadliest Month of Afghan War for NATO

June 25th, 2010 by Global Research

KABUL, Afghanistan — June has become the deadliest month of the Afghan war for the NATO-led international military force.

An Associated Press count based on announcements by the alliance and national commands shows 76 international service members have died this month. The total includes 46 Americans.

The previous deadliest month for the multinational force was July 2009, when 75 troops were killed. For the U.S. contingent, the deadliest month was October 2009, when 59 service members were killed.

Finally, a parliamentary debate in Lebanon over the human rights of Palestinian refugees. What is unfortunate though, is that granting basic civil rights to over 400,000 Palestinians – 62 years after their expulsion from their historic homeland and the issuing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – has been a topic of ‘debate’ in the first place. Equally regrettable is the fact that various ‘Christian’ Lebanese political forces are fiercely opposing granting Palestinians their rights.

Most Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are second and third generation refugees. Impoverished camps are the only homes they have ever known. In Palestine, their real home, their villages were destroyed, their fields were burnt down and their culture was eradicated. An ongoing attempt at erasing every aspect of the Palestinian Arab identity in today’s Israel continues unabated, strengthened by the rightwing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is recognized in many political circles as ‘fascist’.

But what 62 years of dispossession, massacres and untold hardship failed to destroy – the memory and the belonging – will certainly not be eliminated now by some rightwing politicians and few parliamentary bills at the Israeli Knesset, including one that forbids Palestinians from commemorating their Nakba (Catastrophe of 1947-48).

The ongoing debate in the Lebanese parliament, however, is of a different nature. Lebanon is striving to settle many hanging political questions. Despite Israel’s devastating wars, a more confident Lebanese populace is emerging. This was largely empowered by the success of the Lebanese military resistance to Israel. A country of law and order is replacing that of chaos and turmoil, and a level of political independence is making some promising appearances after decades of total political dependency and proxy civil wars.

However, there are those who want Lebanon to remain a country divided on sectarian lines, a characteristic that defined Lebanese society for generations. Only such a division could guarantee their survival at the helm of dismal clan-based, sectarian hierarchy that has long degraded the image of the country, and allowed outsiders, notwithstanding Israel, to manipulate the fragile structure for their own benefit.

The denial of rights for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is an old subject that often resurfaces as a political ploy to serve immediate interests. This time, however, things seem to be different. Lebanon needs to move forward. Denying 400,000 people living a most wretched existence in scattered refugee camps, surrounding by mass graves, military checkpoints and no political horizon whatsoever is not conducive to the process of political and social progress.

Of course, those who dread the possibility of a modern Lebanon unified by one common identity – one that is not held hostage to sectarian allegiances or tribal affiliations – want Palestinian refugees to remain perpetual victims. The good news is that the bill is supported by who are otherwise political rivals in Lebanese politics – Saad Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister of the Future Movement, and Hezbollah and Amal, among others.

The bill, introduced by the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) on June 15 “would cancel prohibitions on property ownership and social security benefits for Palestinians, and ease restrictions on their right to work,” according to Human Rights Watch. Nadim Houry, HRW director in Beirut, said, “Lebanon has marginalized Palestinian refugees for too long (and the) parliament should seize this opportunity to turn the page and end discrimination against Palestinians.”

Indeed, it is an opportunity. But MPs from the Free Patriotic Movement, Phalange and Lebanese Forces are strongly opposing the measure. Phalange official Sami Gemayel, for example, has tried to delay the measure, hoping perhaps to deflate the strong movement that no longer tolerates denying Palestinian refugees their basic rights. “A matter that has created a number of crises for more than 60 years could not be tackled within three days,” the Lebanese Daily Star quoted him as saying. Of course he could not help but infuse the same old tired mantra, stressing that “integrating the Palestinians in the Lebanese society would undermine their right of return and fulfill an Israeli demand.”

Not one Lebanese could possibly believe that a Phalange official – whose party worked with Israeli forces in the summer of 1982 to orchestrate and carry out the killing of thousands of defenseless Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps – could truly be concerned about the Palestinian sense of belonging, identity and right of return. It is obvious that the measure could embolden refugees into demanding full integration into Lebanese society, which would completely undermine the foundation of the sectarian society that the Phalange official stalwartly champions.

But why should Palestinian refugees be humiliated for no fault of their own? Why should they live under the choice that they either suffer under draconian measures or risk losing their right of return? It’s like repeatedly punishing the victim for ‘allowing’ his victimhood. The fact is, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, like Palestinian refugees elsewhere are utterly clear regarding their right of return and their adherence to that right. They need not to be fined or jailed for adding a bedroom to their ramshackle homes in the refugee camps. They need not be treated like tenth class citizens to be reminded of their love for Palestine, the names of their destroyed villages, and the memories of their ancestors.

It is ironic how Mr. Gemayel found it implausible to reach a solution regarding the acknowledgement of Palestinian refugees basic rights in three days, while it was astoundingly achievable to butcher thousands of innocent civilians by Phalange forces in 36-48 hours in Sabra and Shatilla on September 16, 1982.

The survivors of those camps, and the rest don’t wish to impede the ‘Christian’ parties’ bid for demographic and sectarian ‘balance’ in Lebanon. Their home is Palestine and they cannot wait to return. But, until that day arrives, there is no need to deny them the most basic of rights and infringe upon their very dignity. One can only hope that Lebanon’s new political development overpowers those who wish to keep the country fragmented, sectarian and forever hostage to the ghosts of its colonial past.

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), available on Amazon.com.

Petraeus’s False Hope

June 25th, 2010 by James Gundun

June 2010 has assumed the grim record of deadliest month, 80 coalition deaths and counting. July could be worse. With no one left to turn to, US President Barack Obama appointed CENTCOM commander and general David Petraeus to rescue him from Afghanistan. And therein lies the first of many fatal flaws in the decision. 

His strategy already in disarray, Obama scrambled to heave off one final shot - The Petraeus Hail Mary

But the Wall Street Journal’s conclusion lingers at the surface: “In choosing to throw a Hail Mary pass to General Petraeus, the President has chosen a commander who understands counterinsurgency, who helped to design the current Afghan strategy, and who knows how to lead and motivate soldiers. He – and they – need a Commander in Chief willing to show equal commitment and staying power.”

What Petraeus really means is that, one way or the other, US and NATO intervention in Afghanistan has finally arrived at the end of a seemingly endless road. The positives of Petraeus: he is, generally speaking, what people make of him, a diligent COIN student and polished public speaker. Architect of Iraq and Afghanistan’s surges, and McChrystal’s COIN mentor, Petraeus provides the smoothest transition during this high-stakes moment.

Overlooked is how unstable Iraq appears, how it’s nevertheless superficially compared to Afghanistan’s complexity, and Petraeus’s woeful attempt to contain al-Qaeda with Special Forces in Yemen and Somalia. Where the group actually plans attacks on Western targets.

But if anyone in the US military can turn Afghanistan around, Petraeus is the best bet.

His cons are Obama’s worst nightmare: if Petraeus fails no one else can ably replace him. Obama just put in his closer, played his trump card which he was undoubtedly holding until after July 2011. Now he has nothing left. Justifying another general will be impossible if Petraeus cannot crack the Taliban code in time, and America’s war will be forced to end (many will consider this a positive).

Ultimately Petraeus untangles few roots of discord between the White House and Pentagon. Obama pressured him to speed up the surge beyond his calculations, from fall 2010 to summer, a demand both he and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen opposed until twisted into submission. Petraeus is far more articulate than the outgoing Stanley McChrystal, but his military views on Afghanistan are roughly the same.

That McChrystal was forced out for similar behavior to Petraeus’s actions, albeit more theatrical, is an overt contradiction. 

The White House became alerted to the Rolling Stone’s article last week, triggering an immediate debate on McChrystal’s status and Petraeus as the replacement. McChrystal’s boiling point had already risen since 2009, his resignation long in the making. But as the White House debated McChrystal’s fate, Petraeus also found himself loudly undercutting Obama. Testifying before Congress, Petraeus pushed back July 2011 by calling it a transfer date, not a withdrawal date – absolutely not a deadline – and added that everything is conditions based. 

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was forced to quell the growing clamor over the deadline’s definition – because of General Petraeus. So why expect smoother sailing? Because he speaks better? He still thinks like General McChrystal. 

Now a chain of command is undoubtedly paramount to upholding a stable democracy. At the same time, civilian chain of command bent on deciding war policy through politics more than strategy presents an equal danger. McChrystal’s judgment to supersede the White House was wrong, but Obama, having already underestimated Afghanistan’s requirements, is guilty of grave deception against the American people.

Rolling Stone author Matt Hastings writes, “Even those closest to McChrystal know that the rising anti-war sentiment at home doesn’t begin to reflect how deeply f….d up things are in Afghanistan. ‘If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular,’ a senior adviser to McChrystal says.”

Refusing to review US strategy in any significant way while attempting to keep the situation as hidden as possible only furthers the deception, as does installing and hailing Petraeus after he committed a similar deed as McChrystal. 

Those believing the chain of command is being upheld by Petraeus might want to pay closer attention to Washington’s power structure. He may pose an even greater threat, being far more “elite,” politically connected, and deeply aligned with figures like US Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Rumors of a presidential campaign refuse to die (Gates could simply keep his job). Does Petraeus really stabilize America’s chain of command or challenge it?

Unless Obama signed off privately on an extension to Petraeus’s deadline, militarily necessary but politically perilous, Washington will be right back to its conflict of interest next December and into July. This is no way to wage war, especially the trial of fire that is counterinsurgency. McChrystal’s termination should have focused attention here. Yet even as the White House and US media steer the conversation towards chain of command and away from Afghanistan’s crumbling strategy, Petraeus’s own opposition to key aspects of Obama’s surge, primarily a lack of troops and July 2011, remains lost in the shadows. 

McClatchy reported earlier this month
, “a number of U.S. and allied military, intelligence and diplomatic officials have been warning for months that the American strategy in Afghanistan is failing and complaining that no one at a high level in the Obama administration wants to hear their discouraging words.”

And they still don’t.

James Gundun is a political scientist and counterinsurgency analyst based in Washington D.C. Contact him in The Trench, a realist foreign policy blog, atwww.hadalzone.blogspot.com.

Kyrgyzstan: Picking Up the Pieces

June 25th, 2010 by Eric Walberg

Kill the victim and go to his funeral. Is NATO poised to move into the heart of Central Asia, even as its war in Afghanistan implodes, marvels Eric Walberg

Kyrgyzstan joined the rank of failed states this month: its central government lacks legitimacy and depends heavily on external aid, with the US base looming large, while the people are largely destitute, harassed by local thugs and drug barons, and looking to Moscow for a way out.

Clashes in the south are worse than earlier reported, responsible for more than 300 killed, mostly Uzbeks, and setting off a massive wave of refugees, with 100,000 people crammed in camps on Kyrgyzstan’s border with Uzbekistan and tens of thousands more displaced. The clashes are almost certainly the result of a provocation organised by the clan of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

The issues at stake are the referendum next Sunday to legitimise the interim government, and the drug trade, which Bakiyev’s clan still controls and is loathe to give up. Heroin comes from Afghanistan via Tajikistan and is repackaged in Osh before being transported west to Uzbekistan and north to Kazakhstan and Russia, according to the UN. The killing two weeks ago of Aibek Mirsidikov, one of the drug kingpins in the area, threatened the Bakiyev clan’s control. The rest is history.

Jalalabad province commandant and first Deputy Chairman of the Kyrgyz State National Security Service Kubatbek Baibolov charged that a group of Tajik citizens, hired by the Bakiyev clan, opened fire indiscriminately on both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks sparking the riots. Former Kyrgyz president Askar Akayev told RT.com that Bakiyev’s brothers Ahmad and Janysh paid criminals and unemployed youths “in suitcases of cash to start bashing people up and set everything on fire.” Bakiyev had cleaned out the banks and the Finance Ministry when he was ousted in April. Days before the current uprising unemployed youth were suddenly flush with cash, said Akayev.

The ex-president’s son Maxim’s indictment by Italian investigators is what sparked his father’s overthrow in April. That the US was not the culprit this time (as opposed to the Tulip Revolution in 2005) is suggested by the fact that the new government continues to threaten to close down the US airbase — this time, if Britain refuses to hand over Maxim, who was arrested Sunday at Farnborough airport when he arrived by private plane, fleeing an Interpol arrest warrant on charges of corruption and misusing state funds. He is of course seeking political asylum in Britain. “England never gives up people who arrive on its territory. But since England and the US fight terrorism, and the arrangement with the airbase is one of the elements of that fight, then they must give over Maxim Bakiyev,” warned Azimbek Beknazarov, deputy leader of the interim government.

This is not just a tragedy for the normally peaceful Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, but also an alarming development for the entire ex-Soviet space. Russia is now faced with the worst post-Soviet political crisis in its “near abroad”, where it insists — rightly — that it has special claims, having millions of Russians scattered throughout those countries, with intimate economic and cultural links from centuries of both imperial and state socialist development. But where there are claims, there are also responsibilities.

This is no better illustrated than the call by both sides, Uzbeks and Kyrgyz alike, for Russian peacekeeping troops to be deployed as disinterested mediators who understand the region and can communicate with locals, unlike NATO forces in Afghanistan. The spectre of Russians policing the streets of Osh raises none of the loathing and fear that US and NATO troops patrolling, say, Marja, prompts. The peoples of virtually all the ex-Soviet quasi-states (except the Baltics) would rejoin a Soviet-type union in a flash as opinion polls continue to confirm two decades after its ignominious “collapse”. When Kyrgyzstan twitches, Russia feels it, and vice versa.

Trying to put Humpty-Dumpty together again is impossible at this point. Instead, the Russian strategy since Yeltsin has been to do everything possible to keep these quasi-states stable, whatever their political leanings. Even the Georgian bete noire Saakashvili was left in place during his war with Russia in 2008. But this hands-off approach has left a vacuum that the US has been filling, with its “democracy building”, colour revolutions and bases, oblivious to the fact that the new states it helped give birth to in the first place are more like premmies – fragile and needing careful nurturing, always in danger of dying.

Russia’s approach amounts to propping up dictators no matter how ruthless or bloodthirsty, as long as they acknowledge Moscow’s interests. The nicest of the lot, Kyrgyzstan’s ex-president Askar Akayev, was overthrown in the US-inspired 2005 coup, which the US now surely regrets, leaving one tolerable one — Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan, with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan frozen in a very nasty timewarp.

Can Russia act as “an agent of change, as a force for genuine modernisation, cautiously nudging the local authoritarian regimes to transform, democratise and broaden their socio-political base?” asks Igor Torbakov of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. If Russia keeps referring to this crisis as merely an “internal conflict,” it risks losing face, prestige and the right to claim the leading role in the post-Soviet Eurasia.

Recent weeks have witnessed several other signs of a Russian retreat in foreign policy. It failed to respond to the Brazil-Turkey proposal to defuse the Iranian crisis, voted for sanctions, and cancelled the S-300 missile deal with Iran, admitting to US pressure.

The Arabs have a saying about the rascal who kills the victim and then goes to his funeral. US involvement in Kyrgyz affairs exemplifies this well: destabilise the state and now, like former US ambassador to Russia James Collins and Carnegie Russia and Eurasia Programme deputy director Matthew Rojansky, call for NATO and the US to “immediately engage with regional partners to help restore security.” There are no lines to read between here: NATO should expand even further eastward through its Partners for Peace. Collins/Rojansky magnanimously acknowledge that this is “a responsibility NATO must share with the CSTO and the OSCE”. They blandly call for “the United States and Russia to put aside outdated stereotypes and focus on their fundamentally shared interests in Eurasian security”.

Considering the disarray of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), it is hard to fault the US for using this window of opportunity to move further into the region. This crisis has shown that the CSTO is not a serious regional organisation. The squabbling and suspicious “stan” dictators, Russia, and China have little in common other than their proximity. The CSTO’s response, according to its General Secretary Nikolai Burdyuzha, is to send “specialists who know how to plan and organise an operation to prevent mass disorder, which would unmask its instigators and localise bandit groups who provoke the situation.”

Is the OSCE an intermediate option, with its 56 member states, including both NATO and CSTO members? Hardly. Russia is the main actor here, with the other Central Asian states also having a pressing need to try to salvage a viable statelet from this tragedy. The NATO quagmire in Afghanistan needs no farcical replay. So the Collins/Rojansky call is really just a call for NATO expansion, pure and simple.

Another possibility is for Turkey to step in. Kyrgyz and Kazakh are both Turkic peoples, whose languages are mutually intelligible. Kyrgyz territory was, in the khanate past, once one with that of the Kazakhs — the entire region was known as Turkestan. During a visit to Kazakhstan this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the Kazakh president supported Kyrgyz plans to proceed with the referendum next Sunday. Davutoglu said, “Immediately after the referendum, we plan together with Kazakhstan to prepare joint actions to show our assistance to Kyrgyzstan.” 

If all else fails, there is China, though its presence is problematic, given its suppression of the Uighurs across the border in Xinjiang. But Beijing’s self-confidence and massive economy inevitably give it an outsize influence, especially if Russia and the West continue to flounder.

 

Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him athttp://ericwalberg.com/

Long US Stay in Afghanistan Foreseen

June 25th, 2010 by Global Research

Major US policy analysts say the appointment of David Petraeus as new commander of American forces in Afghanistan signals a long US military presence in the country. 

Former member of George Bush’s national security team and US State Department’s Policy Chief Richard N. Haass states that since a dramatic increase in an Afghan government force in a near future appears unlikely, “a large number of US forces will remain fighting in Afghanistan for many years to come.” 

In a statement published by influential US think tank Council on Foreign Relations, Haass writes that the Obama administration’s desire to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan within the next 12 months can either come significantly boosting “the effectiveness” of Afghan government forces, “both in absolute terms and relative to the Taliban” — or “that a large number of U.S. forces will remain fighting in Afghanistan for many years to come.” 

“Everything about Afghanistan points to the latter as being more likely,” Haass emphasizes, adding that since the Afghan government is “riddled with corruption” and the Taliban benefit from “sanctuary in Pakistan,” such a policy is unlikely to succeed given the enormous costs. 

Additionally, Haass observes, the US is faced with a “looming fiscal crisis” as well as growing “strategic challenges in Iran and North Korea.” 

Anthony Cordesman, a prominent military analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has welcomed recent appointment of Gen. Petraeus as the new US military commander in Afghanistan, stressing, in a NPR report, that putting him “in charge of the war” has the benefit of showing the Afghans that the United States “does not intend to leave – that it is going to be a partner.” 

Meanwhile, another NPR report on the ouster of General Stanley McChrystal from the command of the US-led forces in Afghanistan reflected unhappiness of “some US soldiers” with the rules of engagement established by the McChrystal that called for protecting Afghan civilians at the cost of putting the lives of US troops at risk. 

The US troops have basically reported serious concerns about having to take extra precautions to avoid taking civilian lives. 

According to the report, US soldiers, particularly the Marines deployed in Helmand province, have complained that “they can’t really go after the Taliban now because they have to be so concerned about killing innocent civilians.” 

Observers say that it will remain to be seen whether new US commander General Petreaus is going make changes to the current rules of engagement and allow US troops freer hand at taking innocent civilian lives.

The United States has in past years built training facilities, financed military programs and established airbases in a handful of strategic ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia.

These include Georgia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus as well as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.

DUSHANBE: The United States plans to build a facility for training local troops in the ex-Soviet Central Asian state of Tajikistan, the U.S. ambassador said here June 25.

“The plan … is almost $10 million to build this national training centre for the Tajik armed forces,” Ken Gross said at a news briefing in the capital, Dushanbe.

Gross said the facility would be run by the Tajik national guards’ service, and no U.S. troops would be based there, though he said U.S. military personnel could be brought in to assist in training.

“If requested, we might have people come in to help in training missions,” the Gross said.

The United States has in past years built training facilities, financed military programs and established airbases in a handful of strategic ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia.

These include Georgia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus as well as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. The U.S. airbase in Uzbekistan was shut down by President Islam Karimov in 2005.

Russia has kept a close eye on such “military-to-military” contacts between the United States and neighboring ex-Soviet republics, wary of any perceived U.S. strategic encroachment into what the Kremlin has long regarded as its “sphere of influence.”

The center in Tajikistan is scheduled to open in 2011, although no contracts have yet been signed with the Tajik government, Gross said.

The first contingent of American troops and patriot missiles stationed in northern Poland have returned to base in Germany, with the second round scheduled to be in the country in late June or early July, says a Defence Ministry spokesman.

One hundred US troops, six Patriot missiles and around 40 military vehicles were officially welcomed in Poland on May 26 in the town of Morag for training purposes.

The first round of the air defence system and accompanying US troops have now returned to base in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Defence Ministry spokesman Robert Rochowicz has informed the PAP news agency. Further training of Polish troops stationed at the base in northern Poland will resume in the coming days when a second battery of missiles arrives.

Poland’s decision to deploy a battery of U.S. Patriot missiles just 100 kilometres from the Russian Kaliningrad border raised tensions with the Kremlin in Moscow, which sees it as a an unnecessary act of provocation. Defence Minister Bogdan Klich said earlier this year that the town of Morag was not chosen for political reasons but “only reason was the good infrastructure there.”

Introducción

¿Por qué el ataque lanzado desde la derecha contra el «Papá Estado» se deja oír cada vez más entre la clase trabajadora? Los liberales afirman que la población asalariada actúa «contra su propio interés» aludiendo a programas sociales como la seguridad social o las prestaciones por desempleo. Los progresistas sostienen que los trabajadores hostiles al Estado son «racistas», «fundamentalistas» y/o actúan de forma irracional o ciega a causa del miedo injustificado a las amenazas a las libertades individuales. Expondré aquí que hay muchas razones sensatas, racionales y materiales para que la clase trabajadora se rebele contra el Estado.

Veintidós razones por las que la clase trabajadora estadounidense odia al Estado

1.) La mayoría de las personas asalariadas pagan una suma desproporcionadamente más elevada de impuestos que los empresarios ricos y, por consiguiente, millones de estadounidenses trabajan en la «economía sumergida» para llegar a fin de mes, con lo que se exponen a ser detenidos y a que el Estado los procese por tratar de ganarse la vida eludiendo impuestos onerosos.

2.) El Estado concede exenciones generosas durante varios años a las empresas, con lo que elevan la carga fiscal de las personas asalariadas o eliminan servicios esenciales. Las políticas no equitativas de recaudación fiscal del Estado suscitan resentimiento.

3.) Los impuestos altos, unidos a la reducción y encarecimiento de los servicios públicos, incluidos el aumento de los costes de la educación superior y de los gastos sanitarios, alimentan el antagonismo popular y la frustración ante el hecho de que se les está negando a ellos y a sus hijos las oportunidades de progresar y vivir sanos.

4.) A muchos trabajadores y trabajadoras les sienta mal que el Estado gaste el dinero de sus impuestos en guerras remotas e interminables y en financiar rescates en Wall Street, en lugar de invertirlo en reindustrializar Estados Unidos para crear puestos de trabajo bien remunerados o ayudar a quienes no tienen empleo o están subempleados y son incapaces de afrontar el pago de sus hipotecas y se exponen a un desahucio o a vivir sin techo. Casi todos los trabajadores rechazan los gastos presupuestarios injustos que privilegian a los ricos y niegan a la clase trabajadora.

5.) A los trabajadores les horrorizan la hipocresía y los dobles raseros del Estado cuando denuncia a los «aprovechados» que se llevan unos centenares de dólares y hace la vista gorda con los estafadores de bancos y empresas, y los gastos militares del Pentágono cuestan excesos presupuestarios de centenares de miles de millones de dólares. Pocos trabajadores creen que exista la igualdad ante la ley, con lo que implícitamente no aceptan sus exigencias de legitimidad.

6.) Muchas familias trabajadoras se niegan a admitir el hecho de que el Estado reclute a sus hijos e hijas para guerras que se traducen en muerte y en lesiones atroces en lugar de para puestos de trabajo en el sector público, mientras que los hijos de las personas ricas y acomodadas se forjan una carrera en la vida civil.

7.) El Estado subvenciona y mejora en los barrios acomodados las infraestructuras públicas (carreteras, parques y servicios), mientras ignora las demandas de mejora en las comunidades de rentas más bajas. Además, el Estado sitúa las instalaciones contaminantes (incineradoras, industrias con alto contenido de residuos, etc.) muy cerca de los hogares y las escuelas de los trabajadores.

8.) El Estado mantiene el salario mínimo por debajo de los incrementos del coste de la vida, pero fomenta y promueve el aumento desmesurado de beneficios.

9.) En los barrios ricos los desvelos para hacer cumplir la ley son rigurosos, y en las comunidades con rentas bajas son laxos, lo que se traduce en una tasa más elevada de homicidios y robos.

10.) El Estado impone restricciones sobre las organizaciones sindicales que luchan por garantizar los salarios y los beneficios, e ignora la intimidación y el despido arbitrario de trabajadores que llevan a cabo las empresas. El Estado favorece las fusiones y adquisiciones empresariales que desembocan en monopolios, pero pone freno a la acción colectiva nacida desde la base.

11.) Las instituciones económicas del Estado buscan a las personas que ocuparán cargos públicos en los bancos e instituciones financieras para que tomen decisiones que favorezcan a sus antiguos jefes, mientras que los asalariados quedan excluidos y no cuentan con representación en los cargos rectores de la política económica.

12.) Cada vez más, el Estado quebranta las libertades individuales de los activistas sociales mediante la Ley Patriótica y las detenciones arbitrarias, y garantiza la impunidad de la violencia policial y castiga a quienes denuncian irregularidades, con lo que desdeña las críticas de los ciudadanos con su capacidad de castigar.

13.) El Estado se muestra receptivo a la financiación del complejo militar-industrial, la deslocalización de empresas multinacionales en el extranjero y los elevados ingresos del lobby de Israel, y aumenta las partidas presupuestarias que les destina, mientras recorta la financiación de inversiones públicas en actividades productivas, tecnología aplicada y formación ocupacional en alta tecnología de los trabajadores y asalariados estadounidenses y de sus hijos.

14.) Las políticas del Estado llevan décadas incrementando las desigualdades existentes entre el 10 por ciento más rico y el 50 por ciento más pobre, lo que convierte a Estados Unidos en el país industrializado con las desigualdades más acusadas.

15.) Las políticas del Estado han supuesto un descenso del nivel de vida, ya que los asalariados tienen que trabajar más horas con menos seguridad laboral, durante más años para recibir una pensión y disfrutar de la seguridad social y soportando mayores riesgos medioambientales.

16.) Los cargos elegidos del Estado incumplen la mayoría de las promesas electorales que formulan durante sus campañas ante los trabajadores, y en cambio cumplen las promesas que hacen a las élites bancarias, empresariales y de las clases altas.

17.) Las autoridades del Estado prestan más atención y se muestran más receptivos a unos cuantos grandes contribuyentes económicos que a millones de votantes.

18.) Las autoridades del Estado son más sensibles a los sobornos de los lobbies empresariales que preservan los beneficios de las empresas que a las necesidades sanitarias, educativas y de renta del electorado.

19.) Los vínculos entre las empresas y el Estado se traducen en desregulación, que desemboca en contaminación del medio ambiente y lleva a la quiebra de los pequeños negocios y a la pérdida de muchos puestos de trabajo, así como a la desaparición de zonas recreativas, lo que deteriora el descanso y el recreo de la clase trabajadora.

20.) El Estado eleva la edad de jubilación en lugar de aumentar las aportaciones de los ricos a la seguridad social, lo que se traduce en que los trabajadores de entornos no saludables disfrutarán de menos años de jubilación con buena salud.

21.) Es más probable que el sistema judicial del Estado dicte sentencias favorables a los demandantes ricos que disponen de abogados con un salario alto y buenas relaciones políticas, y contrarias a los trabajadores, a quienes defienden abogados de oficio y sin experiencia.

22.) Es más fácil que los recaudadores del Estado inspeccionen a los contribuyentes asalariados que a los directivos empresariales de clase alta que contratan a contables especializados en lagunas fiscales y en tomar medidas de protección libres de impuestos.

Conclusión

En sus múltiples actividades, ya sean las relacionadas con velar por el cumplimiento de la ley, reclutar soldados, establecer políticas fiscales y de gasto, o promulgar legislación y administrar el medio ambiente, las pensiones o la jubilación, el Estado favorece sistemáticamente a las clases altas y las élites empresariales en contra de los trabajadores y los pequeños empresarios.

El estado es permisivo con los ricos y represivo con la clase trabajadora y asalariada, y defiende los privilegios de las grandes corporaciones y la impunidad del Estado policial cuando quebranta las libertades individuales de los trabajadores.

Las políticas del Estado extraen cada vez más de los trabajadores en concepto de ingresos fiscales, y ofrecen cada vez menos en prestaciones sociales, al tiempo que disminuyen la contribución fiscal de Wall Street e hinchan las transferencias del Estado.

La percepción de la población de a pie de que el Estado es hostil y explotador se corresponde con su experiencia práctica cotidiana; su conducta antiestatal es selectiva y racional; la mayor parte de los trabajadores sustentan la seguridad social y las prestaciones de desempleo, y se oponen a las subidas de impuestos porque saben o intuyen que son injustas.

Los universitarios y expertos liberales que afirman que los trabajadores son «irracionales» son a su vez profesionales de una crítica muy selectiva: señalan los (menguantes) beneficios sociales del Estado al tiempo que ignoran un sistema fiscal injusto y no equitativo y la conducta parcial del sistema judicial, policial, legislativo y normativo.

El personal del Estado, los legisladores y las autoridades policiales son atentos, receptivos y respetuosos con los ricos, y muestran hostilidad, indiferencia o arrogancia hacia los trabajadores.

En resumen: lo que de verdad pasa no es que la gente está contra el Estado, sino que el Estado está contra la mayoría de la gente. Ante la crisis económica y las guerras imperialistas prolongadas, el Estado se muestra descaradamente más agresivo a la hora de recortar el nivel de vida para canalizar unos fondos públicos que alcanzan cifras de récord hacia los especuladores de Wall Street y el complejo militar-industrial.

Mientras los «liberales-progresistas» siguen sumidos en la ideología estatista «neokeynesiana», anticuada ante un Estado profundamente arraigado en las redes empresariales, la retórica «antiestatista» de la Nueva Derecha se hace eco de los sentimientos, experiencias y argumentaciones de sectores importantes de las clases trabajadoras y los pequeños empresarios.

El esfuerzo de los liberales y los progresistas por desacreditar esta revuelta popular contra el Estado indicando que el movimiento antiestatista está financiado por las grandes empresas y manipulado por la derecha está condenado al fracaso, pues no logra abordar las profundas injusticias que padecen hoy día las clases trabajadoras en sus relaciones cotidianas con un Estado gestionado en buena medida por militaristas y liberales defensores de la gran empresa. La ausencia de una izquierda antiestatista ha abierto la puerta al ascenso de una masa apoyada en la «Nueva Derecha».

En la sociedad civil emergerá una «nueva izquierda» cuando logre reconocer el pernicioso papel explotador del Estado y sea capaz de explicarlo mediante los poderosos vínculos existentes entre el «bienestarismo» del liberalismo, el militarismo y el corporativismo. La recuperación y la expansión de los mermados programas sociales para las clases trabajadoras sólo pueden tener lugar si se desmantela el aparato estatal actual, y eso depende de que se produzca una ruptura absoluta con el bando de la gran empresa y se establezca un calendario que «revolucione» el funcionamiento de la política en Estados Unidos.

Ler el texto en inglés : Twenty-Two Reasons Why American Working People Hate the State

Traducido para Rebelión por Ricardo García Pérez

Embargos y bloqueos como métodos de guerra

June 25th, 2010 by Felicity Arbuthnot

“Escucho al mirlo. Una canción para los que murieron.

        Ahora todo queda por hacer. Para no perder de vista el objetivo que es terminar con el brutal bloqueo de Gaza. Eso sucederá.

        Más allá de ese objetivo, otros esperan. La demolición de un sistema de apartheid toma tiempo. Pero no una eternidad.”

        (Henning Mankell, superviviente del Mavi Mármara, anotación en su diario, 2 de junio de 2010.)

En 1990, en una de las líneas más escalofriantes escritas en la historia reciente, Gary Clyde Hufbauer y otros escribieron, sobre los embargos, en un documento consultivo para el Gobierno de George H.W. Bush: “: … Presentamos nuestra preselección de ‘qué hacer y qué evitar’ para los arquitectos de una política de sanciones con el propósito de cambiar las políticas del país en cuestión… (3) Concentráos en los débiles y desvalidos… (5) Imponed el máximo coste a su objetivo…” (1) En el Día de Hiroshima de 1990, el mayor embargo jamás impuesto por la ONU se aplicó conra Iraq.

Esta arma silenciosa y exhaustiva de destrucción masiva ese utiliza cada vez más como método de guerra, a menudo por una indolente ONU, presionada por EE.UU., o por cuenta de los amigos que le quedan. Los hombres, mujeres y niños víctimas de esa única e incomparable privación, que niega o debilita todas las normas de la vida, son por lo tanto el objetivo de unas Naciones Unidas establecidas para:

“…reafirmar la fe en los derechos fundamentales del hombre, en la dignidad y el valor de la persona humana, en la igualdad de derechos de hombres y mujeres y de las naciones grandes y pequeñas, 

“promover el progreso social y elevar el nivel de vida dentro de un concepto más amplio de la libertad,… emplear un mecanismo internacional para promover el progreso económico y social de todos los pueblos…”

Como señaló Hufbauer: ciento setenta casos de sanciones económicas se han impuesto desde la Primera Guerra Mundial. Cincuenta de dichos casos se introdujeron en los años noventa.

Ya que el poder siempre tiene la razón, sólo se exige que los países objetivos respeten escrupulosamente la legalidad internacional. En realidad, lo que se les exige es una serie confusa de objetivos en movimiento. Se cumple una demanda e inmediatamente después aparece otra no mencionada anteriormente. Los poderosos delincuentes, sin embargo, se llevan por delante todo lo que se interponga en su camino.

El Protocolo I, Artículo 54, de la Convención de Ginebra, es inequívoco en cuanto a la ilegitimidad de utilizar el acceso a recursos vitales como método de combate:

“Se prohíbe utilizar el hambre como método de guerra.

Se prohíbe atacar, destruir, sustraer o inutilizar los bienes indispensables para la supervivencia de la población civil, tales como los artículos alimentarios y las zonas agrícolas que los producen, las cosechas, el ganado, las instalaciones y reservas de agua potable y las obras de riego, con la intención deliberada de privar de estos bienes, por su valor como medios para asegurar la subsistencia, a la población civil o a la parte adversa, sea cual sea el motivo, ya sea para hacer sufrir hambre a las personas civiles, para provocar su desplazamiento, o con cualquier otro propósito”. 

Los iraquíes, mientras sufrían los implacables años del embargo, culpaban a Israel. “Israel está detrás de esto…” era el refrán repetido. Como a Israel se le culpa de casi todos los infortunios de Oriente Próximo, era una afirmación que yo, como otros corresponsales y visitantes, descartábamos repetidamente, como una conspiración que iba demasiado lejos, que podía enfrentarse con una mirada desdeñosa, que se traducía como “Eso es estúpido y eso es realmente estúpido”.

Menos de cuatro años después de la imposición del embargo a Iraq, en Kuala Lumpur, en mayo de 1994, la Conferencia de Malasia contra Sanciones Económicas a Iraq, publicó una Resolución que señalaba que “las sanciones económicas más severas jamás presenciadas en la historia (de la ONU)” se habían impuesto “contra Iraq”. (2) La Resolución seguía diciendo:

“…esas sanciones económicas asesinas contra Iraq ya se han cobrado por lo menos 400.000 vidas, muchas de ellas de niños y mujeres, mientras cientos de miles de personas más sufren desnutrición, enfermedades y hambre, causadas por instalaciones médicas inadecuadas y condiciones sanitarias en rápido deterioro.” Los “débiles y desvalidos” de Hufbauer estaban pagando el “coste máximo” a una tasa de más de 100.000 personas por año, en nombre de: “Nosotros los pueblos de las Naciones Unidas”

La Conferencia de Kuala Lumpur también registró, que Iraq (como ahora Palestina) estaba “privado de materiales científicos, médicos, educacionales y culturales”. Además, a pesar “del cumplimiento por Iraq de todas las Resoluciones relevantes del Consejo de Seguridad (las sanciones continuaron) por la influencia de EE.UU. y su aliado Gran Bretaña…” y que el verdadero objetivo del embargo fue: “…controlar la inmensa riqueza petrolera de Iraq y de la región del Golfo (y lograr) una estructura del poder en la región que favorezca a EE.UU., Occidente e Israel…”

Exactamente dos años después, en mayo de 1996, Lesley Stahl preguntó a Madeleine Albright, entonces embajadora de EE.UU. ante las Naciones Unidas (en “60 Minutes”): “Hemos oído que más de medio millón de niños han muerto… más niños que los que murieron en Hiroshima… y dígame, ¿vale la pena el precio?”

Con palabras resueltas, despiadadas, Albright, ella misma abuela, respondió de manera inolvidable: “Pienso que se trata de una decisión muy difícil, pero pensamos que el precio vale la pena”.

Comparando el bloqueo impuesto por Israel a Gaza con el de Iraq, las similitudes son de una fuerza escalofriante. Iraq, que depende en un setenta por ciento de importaciones, desde fertilizantes a productos farmacéuticos, desde materiales de construcción a mantenimiento médico, fue bombardeado para devolverlo “a la era pre-industrial” en 1991. Se le denegaron todos los recursos, no sólo para la reconstrucción, sino también alimentos, bebidas gaseosas, papel, libros, periódicos, productos cosméticos, lapiceras, lápices, pizarrones, juguetes, instrumentos musicales, hojas de partitura, literatura comercial y profesional (incluyendo el New England Journal of Medicine y The Lancet), pelotas de ping-pong. Suministros que difícilmente se pueden considerar de “doble uso” para transformarlos en armas de destrucción masiva –o incluso para jugar a la guerra en el patio del colegio.

Las escuelas para niños ciegos y sordos se cerraron –artículos especiales para sus necesidades como libros en braille, audífonos y las baterías necesarias para ellos, también se vetaron.

Asimismo rechazaron los pedidos de ambulancias, bombardeadas en 1991, o inutilizadas por falta de repuestos. Cuando después de una década se permitió que unas pocas llegaran, se les negaron los medios de comunicación usualmente incorporados –por si acaso se desviaban para “uso militar”. Los más débiles y los más desvalidos, fueron ciertamente el objetivo, al máximo coste. Las palabras del señor Hufbauer se siguieron al pie de la letra –y más allá.

En Gaza, destruida en gran parte en diciembre-enero de 2008/2009 por los bombardeos israelíes, los bienes bloqueados por Israel (3) incluyen todos los materiales de construcción (cemento, hierro, madera, asfalto, yeso) té, café, salvia, cardamomo, comino, coriandro, jengibre, mermelada, halva, vinagre, nuez moscada, golosinas, chocolate, conservas de fruta, semillas y nueces, galletas y dulces, patatas fritas, gas para gaseosas, frutas secas, carne fresca, yeso, asfalto, madera para la construcción, cemento, hierro, glucosa, sal industrial, contenedores de plástico/vidrio/metal, margarina industrial, lonas para casuchas, tejidos para vestimenta, bombillas para alumbrar, zapatos, planchas, juguetes, lápices, colchones, frazadas, champú, acondicionador. Todos, en realidad, artículos que anteriormente se vetaron en Iraq.

Como en el caso de Iraq, también prohibieron los instrumentos musicales y las cuerdas para ellos. ¿Constituyen ahora Brahms y Beethoven, el sonido repetitivo o alegre del piano, del violín, la flauta, el laúd y su pariente musical de Oriente Próximo, el oud, un acto terrorista?

Como en el caso de Iraq, el agua sigue siendo un arma biológica mediante la falta de productos químicos purificadores y de repuestos. Escuelas, hospitales, plantas de tratamiento de agua, mezquitas y casas siguen en ruinas por falta de materiales de construcción.

La organización de derechos humanos israelí B’tselem señala en un Informe de 45 páginas publicado esta semana dice que: un 95% de las fábricas están cerradas y un 93% del agua está contaminada. El Artículo 54 de la Convención de Ginebra, como la Convención de la ONU sobre los Derechos del Niño, está en la hoguera de la historia.

La mayor parte del ganado de Iraq murió en los bombardeos, y atacaron y destruyeron toda la producción comercial de pollos. La importación de ganado se prohibió. En Palestina, se niega la importación de: caballos, asnos, cabras, ganado, pollos –y calefacción para la producción de pollos-. Junto con sembradoras para vástagos. Cuando las lanchas patrulleras israelíes no disparan contra los pescadores, en todo caso se les niegan las redes y las cañas de pescar –como en Iraq-

En Iraq, los aviones estadounidenses y británicos, que patrullaban (ilegalmente) los “refugios” –un nombre absurdo inventado (por ellos)– del norte y del sur (1992-2003) lanzaban rutinariamente bengalas sobre trigo y cebada cosechados incinerando las preciosas cosechas. En Palestina, mujeres que cosechan trigo han sido atacadas por fuerzas israelíes usando munición de guerra mientras escribimos estas líneas. La destrucción de granjas palestinas, huertos de olivos y cítricos, campos comerciales de flores, huertos de vegetales y albaricoques, se repite constantemente.

David Halpin, médico especializado en ortopedia y cirugía, fundador de la organización benéfica británica Dove and Dolphin (www.doveanddolphin.org.uk) explica las condiciones en las que llegan los artículos del puerto de Ashdod (en Israel), cuando finalmente se entregan en Gaza. Un envío de Dove and Dolphin, llevado en barco a través de Chipre, incluía numerosas cajas de vestimentas donadas, cuidadosamente lavadas y planchadas por su esposa –y empaquetadas por ambos durante muchas semanas –catéteres, ordenadores, máquinas de coser y tejer, la base para la creación de unos pequeños negocios domésticos.

El envío estuvo en los muelles de Ashdod desde agosto hasta diciembre. Cuando finalmente lo entregaron los catéteres estaban estropeados y ninguno de los ordenadores y las máquinas de coser o de tejer estaban en condiciones de funcionar. Las docenas de cajas con ropa amorosamente lavada, doblada, habían sido abiertas por las autoridades israelíes usando corta cartones y habían desgarrado irreparablemente la mayoría de la ropa.

Finalmente entregaron las sillar de ruedas -sin las baterías para poder utilizarlas- Una maldad maquiavélica.  

Desde la masacre del 31 de mayo en el Mavi Mármara, Israel anunció la “flexibilización” del bloqueo de Gaza. Si el sufrimiento de Gaza no fuera una herida abierta en la cara de la humanidad, este intento patético de relaciones públicas internacionales sería cómico. El territorio, necesitado de cuidados intensivos, puede importar ahora productos de lujo como crema de afeitar, mermelada –y patatas fritas- Siguen bloqueando los materiales de construcción para iniciar la reparación de los daños del ataque del año pasado, ya que podrían ser utilizados “…para construir búnkeres”. Irónicamente, como señala David Halpin, se exige por ley a los palestinos que tienen permiso (otorgado por Israel) para vivir en Jerusalén que construyan un búnker en sus casas, a un coste de cerca de 20.000 dólares -una fortuna en la región-

La frase comodín de que los materiales de construcción “podrían utilizarse para propósitos militares”, también se ha tomado directamente del manual para el sitio de Iraq, así como: “El bloqueo israelí de Gaza, incluye una lista de bienes compleja y en permanente cambio…”

Podría decirse que el mundo experimenta un retroceso. Geoff Simons escribe que “el ejemplo antiguo (de bloqueo) más celebrado… fue el decreto de Mégara en la antigua Grecia, publicado por Pericles, en 432 a.de C., (como reacción) por el secuestro de tres mujeres aspasianas”.

Los megarianos “…negaron las necesidades vitales… fueron rechazados (y se declaró) que no estarán en nuestra tierra, en nuestro mercado, en el mar…” (4) Los hechos en disputa respecto a la supuesta captura, por Hamás, del soldado de las FDI [ejército israelí], casi dos milenios y medio después es una razón dada para castigar colectivamente al pueblo de Gaza.

Otra analogía de Simons relacionada con Iraq es un asedio inglés del Siglo XII en el que hasta que no se acabó el agua no se consiguió la capitulación, “… la interrupción de los suministros y la muerte por hambre de la guarnición…”, lo lograrán. En el caso de Iraq, como en Gaza, la “guarnición” es todo el país.

Vale la pena señalar dos comparaciones finales. En 1996, la población de Iraq había llegado a un nivel humanitario bajo mínimos. El acuerdo denominado “Petróleo por alimentos” de la ONU se había pactado un año antes, por lo tanto los organismos de ayuda se habían retirado, pero mientras continuaban los juegos de la ONU, no aparecían los dineros. Con las cuentas bancarias iraquíes congeladas en todo el mundo, regían las privaciones –en un país que tiene probablemente las mayores reservas de petróleo del mundo según la opinión de algunos expertos.

Las autoridades iraquíes autorizaron un vuelo con provisiones humanitarias ofrecidas por USAID. Al volver a EE.UU., los medios noticiosos aparecieron plagados de informes de que los “portadores de ayuda” habían descubierto que las historias sobre privaciones causadas por el embargo eran falsas, que Iraq estaba inundado de dinero y bienes y de una población gozosa que en gran parte celebraba en lugares nocturnos costosos hasta la madrugada.

Este mes Israel, bajo presión después del baño de sangre de la flotilla y ante una población mundial que cada vez controla más que los códigos de barras en los artículos que compra no incluyan el número “729”, el de Israel, presentaron a los medios del mundo “menús” de restaurantes de Gaza que hacían agua la boca, platos deliciosos que demostraban que el sitio de Gaza no existe. Mientras las mujeres siguen dando a luz en los puestos militares de control israelíes y se niega la normalidad, el promotor Shuki Weiss declaró de manera bufonesca que la suspensión de una serie de actos internacionales de presentaciones en Israel, en protesta por el trato que dan a Gaza, constituye: “terrorismo cultural”.

“Estoy colmado de pena y dolor a la luz del hecho de que nuestros repetidos intentos de presentar actos y festivales de calidad en Israel sufren cada vez más de lo que sólo puedo describir como una forma de terrorismo cultural que ataca a Israel…” escribió.

¿Han afectado psicológicamente las terribles convulsiones que vivió al país que tenía tantas esperanzas en un refugio propio? A veces las acciones más pequeñas dicen más que las casi incomprensibles.

Cuando el autor Henning Mankell, después de sobrevivir al Mavi Mármara, finalmente tomó un vuelo a casa, escribió:

“A bordo del avión, la azafata me da un par de calcetines. Porque los míos me los robó uno de los comandos que atacaron el barco en el que iba.

“El mito del soldado israelí bueno y extremadamente infalible está destrozado. Ahora podemos agregar: son ladrones comunes. Porque no soy el único al que le robaron su dinero, su tarjeta de crédito, ropa, aparato de MP3, laptop; lo mismo les sucedió a muchos otros en el mismo barco que yo, que fue atacado temprano por la mañana por soldados israelíes enmascarados, que en realidad no eran, por lo tanto, otra cosa que piratas mentirosos”. 

Gaza tiene gas natural, Iraq petróleo. Tal vez no sólo los calcetines y pertenencias personales sean objeto de “piratería”, sino que además, cuando se impongan más sanciones a otro Estado rico en petróleo, Irán, en la próxima semana, también los países serán víctimas de la piratería política.

Notas

1. Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott and Kimberly Ann Elliot, Economic Sanctions Reconsidered: History and Current Policy (Washington, D.C.: Institute for international Economics, 1990, p.114.) Citado en Geoff Simons : “The Scourging of Iraq”, MacMillan, actualizado en 1998.

2. Citas referenciadas en la invaluable fuente de Geoff Simons, mencionada anteriormente.

3. http://www.gisha.org/UserFiles/File/publications/Products060610_Eng.pdf 

4. Simons, ibíd.

5. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19680

© Copyright Felicity Arbuthnot, Global Research, 2010

Texto original en inglés : http://www.globalresearch.ca/PrintArticle.php?articleId=197

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

Felicity Arbuthnot es periodista y activista. Ha visitado Iraq en numerosas ocasiones desde la Guerra del Golfo de 1991. Ha escrito y efectuado numerosas emisiones sobre Iraq; su trabajo ha sido nominado para varios premios. Fue también investigadora en la elaboración del documental “Paying the Price, Killing the Children of Iraq”, que ganó el premio John Pilger

This Year Anti-Incumbency Movement Succeeds or Fails

June 25th, 2010 by Joel S. Hirschhorn

For some years a number of groups have mounted an anti-incumbency campaign aimed at ridding Congress of the huge majority that keep getting reelected despite miserable performance.  This year’s midterm elections provide the ultimate test for all the anti-incumbency sentiment that has bubbled up over many years.  This year more than all others there is a huge amount of public discontent with Congress which is solidly supported by the cowardly, partisan actions or inactions that explain why so many Americans are fed up with the two-party controlled political system.  Rightfully, many, many Americans see the country on the wrong track.

An economy without any real energy for ordinary Americans, unemployment that is more like 20 percent rather than the official 10 percent figure, two enormously costly and useless wars and a regulatory system that has allowed corporations to decimate our natural environment and financial system.  All these and much more justify voting out nearly all incumbents.

So what will happen?  Will the tea party movement produce election results that throw out incumbents?  Will angry Americans across the political spectrum have the courage to reject their own members of the House and Senate that are incumbents?  Or will people succumb to the well financed campaigns of incumbent Democrats and Republicans, believe all the campaign lies and keep reelecting incumbents as they have done for a very long time?

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that from 1964 through 2008, incumbents in the House of Representatives averaged a 93 percent re-election rate; members of the Senate averaged 83 percent.  Will 2010 really be different?

Some people think so.  How interesting that 2010 is clearly the year of the challenger with roughly 2,300 non-incumbent candidates seeking to fill 471 open congressional seats this year, more than any year since the mid-1970s.  Even more interesting is that there are nearly twice as many Republican candidates seeking office as Democrats.

Various recent polls show strong public interest in voting out incumbents.  A CNN poll found 47 percent of the public is more likely to vote for a challenger rather than an incumbent running for re-election at the federal, state or local level.  An earlier poll by ABC News/Washington Post found just a third of registered voters were inclined to re-elect their representatives to congress.  And a Harris Interactive poll found that half of Americans (49%) say almost everyone in Congress, including their representative, should be thrown out.

The newest poll results are even more intriguing.  In a USA Today/Gallup poll out days ago, 6 in 10 registered voters say they would rather vote for a candidate who has never served in Congress than for one who has. This sentiment rises to about 7 in 10 independents and Republicans, but is shared by just about 4 in 10 Democrats, who are seeking to maintain their Congressional majority.  Just 32 percent of voters in the poll say most members of Congress deserve re-election, while 63 percent say they do not – one of the worst levels in Gallup polls dating to 1992.  And while more, 50 percent, say their own representative deserves to be re-elected, that too is near the all-time low that Gallup has recorded.

But will voter action in the coming elections follow these sentiments?

The first good news is that there have been five failed attempts by incumbents this year to win their party’s primary nomination.

Does American democracy have any legitimacy and vitality?  We will know after the mid-term elections.  If there is no marked reduction in winning incumbents, then the answer is a depressing NO.  And that reality will signify that elections no longer offer the opportunity to improve our nation.

Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.

BEIJING: China was seriously concerned over reports that a U.S. aircraft carrier might join a military exercise with the Republic of Korea (ROK), Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Tuesday.

The United States and the ROK reportedly decided to hold a military drill and the U.S. side was considering sending an aircraft carrier to join the exercise in the Yellow Sea off the ROK’s western coast, according to media reports.

China was seriously concerned about relevant reports, and was closely following the development of the matter, Qin said at a regular news briefing.

“Under current situations, relevant parties should exercise restraint and refrain from doing things that may escalate tensions and harm the interests of the countries in the region,” said Qin.

Two weeks ago, the UN Security Council, in a divided vote adopted Resolution 1929 imposing fresh sanctions on Iran.

Turkey and Brazil voted against while Lebanon abstained in the 15 member Council. The US and its allies lobbied hard for the sanctions, making concessions in order to bring Russia and China on board.

The move followed months of futile efforts to reach a negotiated settlement between Iran and the P5 plus Germany over the nuclear issue. The last minute agreement brokered by Turkey and Brazil for Iran to hand over 1200 kg of low enriched uranium failed to satisfy the US.

As expected, Iran has dismissed the Security Council resolution as illegal, and declared its intention to continue with its nuclear programme. Meanwhile, the US Congress has drafted a tougher sanctions package, which would affect third country companies supplying petrol or engaging in financial transactions with Iran. President Obama seems to have little choice but to approve it. The EU has adopted its own version of tighter sanctions against Iran. On the military front, Israel on June 22 launched a sixth spy satellite Ofek-9 specifically to focus of Iran. It has a more advanced camera with a resolution of 0.5 metres.

A major military exercise took place off the Mediterranean coast on June 6-10, involving US aircraft carrier Truman and associated strike group and German and Israeli ships. The exercise Juniper Stallion 10 involved practice bombing runs by US and Israeli aircraft, as well as Israeli anti missile defences is significant in relation to speculation about a possible military strike against Iran.

The USS Truman battle group has since transited Suez on 18 June, headed for the Arabian Gulf to join the USS Eisenhower battle group already there.

Iran has declared a state of alert on June 22, on its northwestern borders alleging that US and Israeli forces have concentrated in Azerbaijan ready to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iranian sources claim that Israel has secretly transferred a large number of bomber jets to bases in Azerbaijan, via Georgia, and that American Special Forces are also concentrated in Azerbaijan in preparation for a strike.

Dr. Uri Arad, a top adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu said on June 22 that a pre-emptive military strike against Iran may “eventually” be necessary. On June 17, US Defence Secretary Robert gates told US Senators that Iran could fire salvoes of hundreds of missiles against targets in Europe, and argued in favour of stronger missile defence systems in Europe, despite Russian objections. Israeli commentators have pointed out that this could mean a far larger threat to Israel, taking into account the presence of large numbers of shorter range missiles with Syria and the Hezbollah in Lebanon.

US sources indicated that senior Al Qaeda operatives such as Saif al-Adel, living in Iran had been allowed to leave the country through Syria to orchestrate terrorist attacks on American targets. These reports seem aimed at further tarnishing the Iranian regime and portraying it as a supporter of international terrorism.

All these developments point to a situation of increasing tension in the region. A small incident could trigger off a larger conflagration. It is likely that Iran may resort to buying its needs of petrol through companies in third countries having no business operation involving the US.

It would be legally difficult to for third countries to apply restrictions on companies that wish to supply petrol to Iran, in the absence of any UNSC ban on such trade. However, the US government is likely to put pressure on countries to try and stop such indirect trade. As the Iran-US-Israel drama moves into its second Act, countries in the region should be ready to face unpleasant consequences of heightened tensions and conflict.

Dr Bhaskar Balakrishnan is a former Indian ambassador to Cuba and also served as representative at the ILO in Geneva

Blockade ‘eased’ as Gaza starves more slowly

June 25th, 2010 by Jonathan Cook

As Israel this week declared the “easing” of the four-year blockade of Gaza, an official explained the new guiding principle: “Civilian goods for civilian people.” The severe and apparently arbitrary restrictions on foodstuffs entering the enclave – coriander bad, cinnamon good – will finally end, we are told. Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants will have all the coriander they want.
 
This “adjustment”, as the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed it, is aimed solely at damage limitation. With Israel responsible for killing nine civilians aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla three weeks ago, the world has finally begun to wonder what purpose the siege serves. Did those nine really need to die to stop coriander, chocolate and children’s toys from reaching Gaza? And, as Israel awaits other flotillas, will more need to be executed to enforce the policy?
 
Faced with this unwelcome scrutiny, Israel – as well as the United States and the European states that have been complicit in the siege – desperately wants to deflect attention away from demands for the blockade to be lifted entirely. Instead it prefers to argue that the more liberal blockade for Gaza will distinguish effectively between a necessary “security” measures and an unfair “civilian” blockade. Israel has cast itself as the surgeon who, faced with Siamese twins, is mastering the miraculous operation needed to decouple them.
 
The result, Mr Netanyahu told his cabinet, would be a “tightening of the security blockade because we have taken away Hamas’ ability to blame Israel for harming the civilian population”. Listen to Israeli officials and it sounds as if thousands of “civilian” items are ready to pour into Gaza. No Qassam rockets for Hamas but soon, if we are to believe them, Gaza’s shops will be as well-stocked as your average Wal-Mart.
 
Be sure, it won’t happen.
 
Even if many items are no longer banned, they still have to find their way into the enclave. Israel controls the crossing points and determines how many trucks are allowed in daily. Currently, only a quarter of the number once permitted are able to deliver their cargo, and that is unlikely to change to any significant degree. Moreover, as part of the “security” blockade, the ban is expected to remain on items such as cement and steel desperately needed to build and repair the thousands of homes devastated by Israel’s attack 18 months ago.
 
In any case, until Gaza’s borders, port and airspace are its own, its factories are rebuilt, and exports are again possible, the hobbled economy has no hope of recovering. For the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in Gaza, mired in poverty, the new list of permissible items – including coriander – will remain nothing more than an aspiration.
 
But more importantly for Israel, by concentrating our attention on the supposed ending of the “civilian” blockade, Israel hopes we will forget to ask a more pertinent question: what is the purpose of this refashioned “security” blockade?
 
Over the years Israelis have variously been told that the blockade was imposed to isolate Gaza’s “terrorist” rulers, Hamas; to serve as leverage to stop rocket attacks on nearby Israeli communities; to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza; and to force the return of the captured soldier Gilad Shalit.
 
None of the reasons stands up to minimal scrutiny. Hamas is more powerful than ever; the rocket attacks all but ceased long ago; arms smugglers use the plentiful tunnels under the Egyptian border, not Erez or Karni crossings; and Sgt Shalit would already be home had Israel seriously wanted to trade him for an end to the siege.
 
The real goal of the blockade was set out in blunt fashion at its inception, in early 2006, shortly after Hamas won the Palestinian elections. Dov Weisglass, the government’s chief adviser at the time, said it would put Palestinians in Gaza “on a diet, but not make them die of hunger”. Aid agencies can testify to the rampant malnutrition that followed. The ultimate aim, Mr Weisglass admitted, was to punish ordinary Gazans in the hope that they would overthrow Hamas.
 
Is Mr Weisglass a relic of the pre-Netanyahu era, his blockade-as-diet long ago superseded? Not a bit. Only last month, during a court case against the siege, Mr Netanyahu’s government justified the policy not as a security measure but as “economic warfare” against Gaza. One document even set out the minimum calories – or “red lines”, as they were also referred to – needed by Gazans according to their age and sex.
 
In truth, Israel’s “security” blockade is, in both its old and new incarnations, every bit a “civilian” blockade. It was designed and continues to be “collective punishment” of the people of Gaza for electing the wrong rulers. Helpfully, international law defines the status of Israel’s policy: it is a crime against humanity.
 
Easing the siege so that Gaza starves more slowly may be better than nothing. But breaking 1.5 million Palestinians out of the prison Israel has built for them is the real duty of the international community.
 
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.

Oil Spill Might Be Making Natural Seeps Larger

June 25th, 2010 by Washington's Blog

The deep sea subs have found other leaks a couple of miles from BP’s gushing blowout preventer and riser.

For example, the Houston Chronicle noted on June 21st:

A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday noted research vessels found natural gas seeping from the sea floor several miles away from the well.

While many might be quick to take this as confirmation of Matt Simmons’ claims that there is another leak directly caused by the sinking of the drilling rig, the Chronicle goes on to explain:

Those appear to be pre-existing seeps that occur naturally, a NOAA spokeswoman said, and unrelated to the spill.

But the Washington Post made a very important point yesterday:

Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University, said additional leaks are a possible source of deep-sea plumes of oil detected by research vessels. But this part of the gulf is pocked with natural seeps, he noted. Conceivably the drilling of the well, and/or the subsequent blowout, could have affected the seeps, he said.

“Once you started disturbing the underground geology, you may have made one of those seeps even worse,” he said.

Remember that geologists have said that if the well casing is substantially breached, the oil and methane gas will find a way through fractures in the surrounding geology and make it into the ocean. For example, the Houston Chronicle notes:

If the well casing burst it could send oil and gas streaming through the strata to appear elsewhere on the sea floor ….

Obviously, if there are natural oil or gas seeps nearby, there are already pre-existing channels up to the seafloor … so that may very well be the path of least resistance for the subterranean oil to flow up to the seafloor.

Therefore, if there were a substantial breach in the well bore, nearby natural oil and gas seeps could very well increase in volume.

Because BP would like to minimize leak estimates to minimize the damages it has to pay under the Clean Water Act, BP would undoubtedly try to pretend that the nearby natural seeps always had the same volume. In other words, the owner of the oil drilling prospect where the spill is occuring – BP – may be the only party to have mapped out the nearby seeps (Anadarko and Mitsui were partners with BP in the oil prospect; but – as passive partners – they probably didn’t take a hands-on approach to such details).

So don’t be surprised if – when formerly tiny seeps become gushers – BP tries to pretend that they were always that large.

Indeed – given BP’s track record of prevarication – don’t be shocked if BP pretends that brand new gushers are ancient, natural seeps.

On June 23 President Barack Obama announced the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal, commander of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, and within hours Associated Press reported that the Western military death toll in the country had reached at least 80 so far this month, making June NATO’s deadliest month in a war that will enter its tenth calendar year on October 7.

McChrystal, appointed on June 15 of last year as top commander of all U.S. and all NATO-led International Security Assistance Force troops in the South Asian war zone – currently 142,000 with thousands more on the way – was to have led the largest assault of the war this month in the province and capital city of Kandahar.

The campaign, which was to have consisted of 25,000 U.S., NATO and Afghan government troops, appears to have been postponed indefinitely and may in fact never occur.

The Kandahar offensive was planned as the culmination of McChrystal’s much-vaunted counterinsurgency strategy that was inaugurated in earnest on February 13 of this year with Operation Moshtarak in the Marjah district of Kandahar’s neighboring province, Helmand.

In that operation at least 15,000 U.S., British, French, Canadian and Afghan National Army troops poured into a district that has been described as a loose aggregation of small agricultural hamlets and other communities with a combined population as low as 50,000. A CBS News report of February 9 stated 30,000 troops were to be involved in the U.S. Marine-led offensive. [1] One major Western news agency estimated that the amount of insurgents confronting the 15,000-30,000 NATO and Afghan government forces was as low as 200.

Far from overwhelming and quickly subjugating the area, however, the Western troops and their Afghan subordinates, the latter reluctantly dragooned into service for the attack, encountered fierce and intractable resistance.
 
Almost a month into the fighting – an operation by U.S.-led forces with as much as a 75- to 150-1 advantage in numbers – the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission estimated that 28 civilians, including 13 children, had been killed and 70 more civilians had been wounded, 30 of those children. The report issued by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission attributed most of the casualties to U.S. and NATO rocket and artillery fire.

Having taken the rural district by storm and, to employ the Pentagon parlance faithfully passed on by the mainstream media, eliminated the last pockets of resistance, the U.S. and NATO victory soon evaporated with the West’s inability to pacify Marjah for transfer to the control of the Hamid Karzai regime in Kabul.

The prototype for not only the largest but what was planned as the decisive military offensive of the long-drawn-out war preparatory to the White House’s pledged withdrawal of troops starting next year – the assault on the insurgent stronghold of Kandahar – evidently fared poorly enough for the latter offensive to be delayed if not scrapped.

Even without an operation in Kandahar, though, the West has already lost 80 soldiers in Afghanistan this month, the most since July of 2009 when 79 U.S. and NATO personnel were killed, with almost half of this month’s fatalities being non-American.

To employ one of the expressions from the cliché book of Western journalism, several grim milestones have been reached this month. U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan have officially surpassed the 1,000 mark. The Pentagon has now been conducting the longest sustained combat operations in the history of the United States, exceeding in duration those in Vietnam from 1964-1973.

The British death toll has reached at least 303, more than in any other conflict since the 1950s. Australia lost three soldiers on June 21, the most deaths in one day the nation has suffered after its role in supporting the U.S. in Vietnam.

Romania, a new NATO member which will soon have over 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, lost two soldiers on June 23. “Romania began to send troops to Afghanistan in July 2002. The action was the country’s first military mission abroad after the Second World War.” [2]

On June 6 a rocket attack on the Polish forward operating base in Ghazni province wounded four soldiers and on June 12 a similar attack on the same base killed one soldier and wounded eight more. Poland, with 2,600 soldiers serving under NATO in Afghanistan and another 400 held in reserve for deployment there, has lost 17 soldiers in one of the country’s first two overseas military operations – Iraq being the other – in its history and its first combat role since the Second World War.

As for NATO as a whole, the Afghan mission has achieved three major precedents: The first armed conflict outside of Europe, the first ground war and the first combat deaths (several hundred such) in the military bloc’s 61-year history.

It is against this backdrop that General McChrystal was abruptly and summarily relieved of his dual command over U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

After a 30-minute tête-à-tête with McChrystal, then a war council with Vice President Joseph Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, National Security Advisor James Jones and White House Chief of Staff and in many respects grey eminence Rahm Emanuel, President Obama stood behind a podium in the White House Rose Garden and announced McChrystal was not to return to Afghanistan as commander of U.S. and NATO forces.

His career had ended the way his predecessor’s, Army General David McKiernan, had a year before: He was unceremoniously deposed.

Flanked on both sides by Mullen, Biden, Gates and McChrystal’s hastily appointed successor General David Petraeus, Obama characterized the sacking of the Afghan war’s military chief as a resignation, the public relations equivalent of leaving a loaded revolver on the desk of a discredited subordinate.

The uptake of the American commander-in-chief’s address was contained in two sentences: “The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.” In fact the piece in question would not be published for another two days.
 
He was referring to leaked excerpts from a Rolling Stone magazine feature on McChrystal and several of his aides, in particular off-the-cuff comments by aides as well as McChrystal, including ones uttered during a bibulous bus ride from Paris to Berlin in April. Wine keeps neither secrets nor promises as Beaumarchais observed.

Members of the establishment press corps (consumed with envy at not scooping the scandalous quotes themselves) scrambled for a thesaurus to characterize McChrystal and company’s less than flattering word portraits of Biden, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and White House Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke as intemperate, indiscreet, impolitic and so on down the list. Recall that their indignation was provoked by assorted obiter dicta issued on the wing and on the run over a month-long period. Being unenthusiastic about opening emails from Richard Holbrooke is not a crime of lese majesté, of high treason.

Along the lines of Obama’s reference to maintaining civilian control of the military, mainstream political analysts and commentators made strained allusions to Abraham Lincoln’s firing of General George McClellan during the American Civil War and Harry Truman’s cashiering General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.   

The freelance reporter whose story was the occasion for McChrystal’s departure, Michael Hastings, said after the dismissal that “he believed the story would last for 72 hours and then McChrystal and his staff would get back to business as usual.” [3]

Not so much a matter of changing commanders in midstream as it is throwing overboard the captain of a ship threatened with being capsized in a tempest.

That the commander of all foreign military forces in the world’s most extensive military conflict, one that involves over 50 nations [4] on six continents and will shortly reach its ninth year, would be dismissed within two days of a leaked report from an entertainment magazine (two days before its publication) is to all outward appearances a dramatically disproportionate response, one that itself could be branded intemperate.

There were and are other, more substantial, dynamics at play.

Another American general who left his last post under a cloud, former U.S. European Command chief and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark – never one to be shy of the limelight or a television camera – appeared on CNN the evening of McChrystal being dumped and dutifully echoed the official post-purge position: “I think that there are lines you can’t cross and I think there’s responsibilities that you have to uphold as a senior commander.” 

In reference to Central Command head David Petraeus taking charge of 150,000 U.S. and NATO (and in truth what there is of an Afghan National Army) troops, Clark added a revealing item which may prove to be the main intention behind and result of McChrystal’s dismissal: “I don’t know what the timetable means. Whether it means you’ve got to pull a brigade out or four brigades out or half the troops out or, you know, an outpost out, I’m not quite clear.”[5] 

With mid-term congressional elections in early November and Obama’s presumed reelection bid two years later, Petraeus’ appointment may have a distinctly political dimension. Either simply an effort to put a new face on a disastrous affair or to signal a shift in war tactics. But if meant to boost the election prospects of Democratic candidates this year and Obama in 2012, the White House may get more than it bargained for.

A graduate of the West Point Military Academy like McChrystal, Petraeus has been the subject of rumours – for at least three years – that he intends to run for the U.S. presidency, and in fact has been deftly positioning himself for just that eventuality.

Presented as the hero of the war in Iraq who as commander of Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I) from January of 2007 to September of 2008 presided over the so-called surge during that interim – and ballyhooed as the father of a Petraeus Doctrine at the time – his reprising that role in Afghanistan could enhance his appeal as a war hero cum man on horseback in 2012, much as the aforementioned Wesley Clark attempted (with scant success but having tested the waters) in 2004.

Commentators have alluded to the 1962 novel (and its cinematic adaptation two years later) Seven Days in May [6] lately in reference to outgoing Afghan war commander Stanley McChrystal. The parallel may more properly suit Petraeus.

When he assumed command of the Multi-National Force – Iraq in the very month that President George W. Bush launched the Iraq surge with the announcement of 20,000 more troops to be deployed there, Petraeus took control of all foreign occupation forces in the country, not only from the U.S. and Britain but also from dozens of other nations, primarily at the time 20 new NATO and NATO candidate and other partner states from Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

All of the above except for Kazakhstan and Moldova (for the time being), with new nation Montenegro added, have troops assigned to NATO in Afghanistan.

The war in and occupation of Iraq provided Petraeus and the Pentagon an unprecedented opportunity to integrate the armed forces of dozens of nations – others included Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Mongolia and Singapore, which now have troops in Afghanistan as well – for purposes of weapons and combat interoperability and for NATO membership and assorted partnerships under wartime conditions.

Preceding his appointment as commander of the Multi-National Force – Iraq in 2007, Petraeus was named both head of the Multi-National Security Transition Command — Iraq and the first commander of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq in 2004.

Before that, while a brigadier general, he served in Bosnia in the early years of this decade as part of NATO’s Operation Joint Forge and as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations for the NATO-led Stabilization Force and Deputy Commander of the U.S. Joint Interagency Counter-Terrorism Task Force.

In recognition of his command of his role in Iraq, in April of 2008 Secretary of Defense Gates announced that President Bush was nominating Petraeus to head up U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which post he took up on October 31, 2008.

The U.S. is the only nation in history to divide the world into military commands. CENTCOM’s area of responsibility includes, in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq, other nations beset by armed conflicts like Pakistan and Yemen, and all of the Middle East (except for Israel), the Persian Gulf (including Iran) and Central Asia. Egypt is the only African nation left to CENTCOM, with Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia and Sudan ceded to the new U.S. Africa Command, though Lebanon and Syria were transferred from European Command to Central Command in 2004.

In the past twenty months Petraeus has not only overseen ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen and supported those in Pakistan, but has also worked assiduously at building a far-reaching nexus of military overflights, land routes and transit bases from the Persian Gulf and the South Caucasus to Central Asia for the Afghan war.
     
He will now step down as head of CENTCOM to command 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The lionization of Petraeus began before the fact regarding the dual Afghan commands and within hours of his announced appointments, with the predictable claque clapping like trained seals.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen guaranteed that Washington’s 27 partners in the military alliance would sheepishly keep their own counsel: “After all, they are only supplying 25 percent of the alliance’s 130,000 troops in Afghanistan. They will accept Mr Obama’s step, be it with some disappointment because they generally agreed that McChrystal was doing a good job.” [7] Hardly a passionate endorsement of the organization he heads and which is touted as a “military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America.”

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius regaled his readers with a glowing panegyric entitled “Gen. David Petraeus: The right commander for Afghanistan,” which is replete with these specimens of fawning puffery:

- Gen. David Petraeus didn’t sign on as the new Afghanistan commander because he expects to lose.

- Obama has doubled down on his bet, much as George W. Bush did with his risky surge of troops in Iraq under Petraeus’s command.

- [A]s I’ve heard him say: “The thing about winners is that they know how to win.”

- Petraeus is, among other things, the most deft political figure I’ve seen in uniform. In just two years he has gone from being Bush’s go-to general to Obama’s. [8]

The piece goes on in that vein for an unconscionably, an insufferably, long time.

It is emblematic of the peculiarly American art of concocting an overnight hero mythos. The identical technique was exhibited a year ago when Stanley McChrystal was promoted to general to take command of the Afghan war.

Petraeus, like the fox in the fable of Aesop, may want to think twice about entering a lion’s den in which he sees footprints enter but not come out. Unless political ambition blinds him to the evidence.

Notes

1) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/02/09/eveningnews/main6191709.shtml
2) Xinhua News Agency, June 24, 2010
3) New York Daily News, June 24, 2010
4) Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s First Global Army
   Stop NATO, August 9, 2009
   http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/afghan-war-nato-builds-historys-first-global-army
5) CNN, June 23, 2010
6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Days_in_May
7) Radio Netherlands, June 24, 2010
8) Washington Post, June 24, 2010
   http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/23/AR2010062304005.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

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Europe is committing fiscal suicide – and will have little trouble finding allies at this weekend’s G-20 meetings in Toronto. Despite the deepening Great Recession threatening to bring on outright depression, European Central Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet and prime ministers from Britain’s David Cameron to Greece’s George Papandreou (president of the Socialist International) and Canada’s host, Conservative Premier Stephen Harper, are calling for cutbacks in public spending.

           
The United States is playing an ambiguous role. The Obama Administration is all for slashing Social Security and pensions, euphemized as “balancing the budget.” Wall Street is demanding “realistic” write-downs of state and local pensions in keeping with the “ability to pay” (that is, to pay without taxing real estate, finance or the upper income brackets). These local have been left unfunded so that communities can cut real estate taxes, enabling site-rental values to be pledged to the banks of interest. Without a debt write-down (by mortgage bankers or bondholders), there is no way that any mathematical model can come up with a means of paying these pensions. To enable workers to live “freely” after their working days are over would require either (1) that bondholders not be paid (“unthinkable”) or (2) that property taxes be raised, forcing even more homes into negative equity and leading to even more walkaways and bank losses on their junk mortgages. Given the fact that the banks are writing national economic policy these days, it doesn’t look good for people expecting a leisure society to materialize any time soon.

           
The problem for U.S. officials is that Europe’s sudden passion for slashing public pensions and other social spending will shrink European economies, slowing U.S. export growth. U.S. officials are urging Europe not to wage its fiscal war against labor quite yet. Best to coordinate with the United States after a modicum of recovery.

           
Saturday and Sunday will see the six-month mark in a carefully orchestrated financial war against the “real” economy. The buildup began here in the United States. On February 18, President Obama stacked his White House Deficit Commission (formally the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform) with the same brand of neoliberal ideologues who comprised the notorious 1982 Greenspan Commission on Social Security “reform.”

           
The pro-financial, anti-labor and anti-government restructurings since 1980 have given the word “reform” a bad name. The commission is headed by former Republican Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson (who explained derisively that Social Security is for the “lesser people”) and Clinton neoliberal Erskine Bowles, who led the fight for the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Also on the committee are bluedog Democrat Max Baucus of Montana (the pro-Wall Street Finance Committee chairman). The result is an Obama anti-change dream: bipartisan advocacy for balanced budgets, which means in practice to stop running budget deficits – the deficits that Keynes explained were necessary to fuel economic recovery by providing liquidity and purchasing power.

           
A balanced budget in an economic downturn means shrinkage for the private sector. Coming as the Western economies move into a debt deflation, the policy means shrinking markets for goods and services – all to support banking claims on the “real” economy.

           
The exercise in managing public perceptions to imagine that all this is a good thing was escalated in April with the manufactured Greek crisis. Newspapers throughout the world breathlessly discovered that Greece was not taxing the wealthy classes. They joined in a chorus to demand that workers be taxed more to make up for the tax shift off wealth. It was their version of the Obama Plan (that is, old-time Rubinomics).

           
On June 3, the World Bank reiterated the New Austerity doctrine, as if it were a new discovery: The way to prosperity is via austerity. “Rich counties can help developing economies grow faster by rapidly cutting government spending or raising taxes.”[1] The New Fiscal Conservatism aims to corral all countries to scale back social spending in order to “stabilize” economies by a balanced budget. This is to be achieved by impoverishing labor, slashing wages, reducing social spending and rolling back the clock to the good old class war as it flourished before the Progressive Era.

           
The rationale is the discredited “crowding out” theory: Budget deficits mean more borrowing, which bids up interest rates. And this is supposed to help countries – or would, if borrowing was for productive capital formation. But this is not how financial markets operate in today’s world. Lower interest rates simply make it cheaper and easier for corporate raiders or speculators to capitalize a given flow of earnings at a higher multiple, loading the economy down with even more debt!

           
Alan Greenspan parroted the World Bank announcement almost word for word in a June 18 Wall Street Journal op-ed. Running deficits is supposed to increase interest rates. It looks like the stage is being set for a bit interest-rate jump – and corresponding stock and bond market crash as the “sucker’s rally” comes to an abrupt end in months to come.

           
The idea is to create an artificial financial crisis, to come in and “save” it by imposing on Europe and North America a “Greek-style” cutbacks in social security and pensions. For the United States, state and local pensions in particular are to be cut back by “emergency” measures to “free” government budgets.

           
All this is quite an inversion of the social philosophy that most voters hold. This is the political problem inherent in the neoliberal worldview. It is diametrically opposed to the original liberalism of Adam Smith and his successors. The idea of a free market in the 19th century was one free from predatory rentier financial and property claims. Today, a “free market” Alan Greenspan and Ayn Rand style is a market free for predators. The world is being treated to a travesty of liberalism and free markets.

           
This shows the usual ignorance of how interest really are set – a blind spot which is a precondition for being approved for the post of central banker these days. Ignored is the fact that central banks determine interest rates by creating credit. Under the ECB rules, central banks cannot do this. Yet that is precisely what central banks were created to do. European governments are obliged to borrow from commercial banks.

           
This financial stranglehold threatens either to break up Europe or to plunge it into the same kind of poverty that the EU is imposing on the Baltics. Latvia is the prime example. Despite a plunge of over 20% in its GDP, its central bankers are running a budget surplus, in the hope of lowering wage rates. Public-sector wages have been driven down by over 30%, and the government expresses the hope for yet further cuts – spreading to the private sector. Spending on hospitals, ambulance care and schooling has been drastically cut back.

           
What is missing from this argument? The cost of labor can be lowered by a classical restoration of progressive taxes and a tax shift back onto property – land and rentier income. Instead, the cost of living is to be raised, by shifting the tax burden further onto labor and off real estate and finance. The idea is for the economic surplus to be pledged for debt service.

           
In England, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has described a “euro mutiny” against regressive fiscal policy.[2] But is more than that. Beyond merely shrinking the economy, the neoliberal aim is to change the shape of the trajectory along which Western civilization has been moving for the past two centuries. It is nothing less than to roll back Social Security and pensions for labor, health care, education and other public spending, to dismantle the social welfare state, the Progressive Era and even classical liberalism.

           
So we are witnessing a policy long in the planning, now being unleashed in a full-court press. The rentier interests, the vested interests that a century of Progressive Era, New Deal and kindred reforms sought to subordinate to the economy at large, are fighting back. And they are in control, with their own representatives in power – ironically, as Social Democrats and Labour party leaders, from President Obama here to President Papandreou in Greece and President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in Spain.

           
Having bided their time for the past few years the global predatory class is now making its move to “free” economies from the social philosophy long thought to have been built into the economic system irreversibly: Social Security and old-age pensions so that labor didn’t have to be paid higher wages to save for its own retirement; public education and health care to raise labor productivity; basic infrastructure spending to lower the costs of doing business; anti-monopoly price regulation to prevent prices from rising above the necessary costs of production; and central banking to stabilize economies by monetizing government deficits rather than forcing the economy to rely on commercial bank credit under conditions where property and income are collateralized to pay the interest-bearing debts culminating in forfeitures as the logical culmination of the Miracle of Compound Interest.

           
This is the Junk Economics that financial lobbyists are trying to sell to voters: “Prosperity requires austerity.” “An independent central bank is the hallmark of democracy.” “Governments are just like families: they have to balance the budget.” “It is all the result of aging populations, not debt overload.” These are the oxymorons to which the world will be treated during the coming week in Toronto.

           
It is the rhetoric of fiscal and financial class war. The problem is that there is not enough economic surplus available to pay the financial sector on its bad loans while also paying pensions and social security. Something has to give. The commission is to provide a cover story for a revived Rubinomics, this time aimed not at the former Soviet Union but here at home. Its aim is to scale back Social Security while reviving George Bush’s aborted privatization plan to send FICA paycheck withholding into the stock market – that is, into the hands of money managers to stick into an array of junk financial packages designed to skim off labor’s savings.

           
So Mr. Obama is hypocritical in warning Europe not to go too far too fast to shrink its economy and squeeze out a rising army of the unemployed. His idea at home is to do the same thing. The strategy is to panic voters about the federal debt – panic them enough to oppose spending on the social programs designed to help them. The fiscal crisis is being blamed on demographic mathematics of an aging population – not on the exponentially soaring debt overhead, junk loans and massive financial fraud that the government is bailing out.

           
What really is causing the financial and fiscal squeeze, of course, is the fact that that government funding is now needed to compensate the financial sector for what promises to be year after year of losses as loans go bad in economies that are all loaned up and sinking into negative equity.

           
When politicians let the financial sector run the show, their natural preference is to turn the economy into a grab bag. And they usually come out ahead. That’s what the words “foreclosure,” “forfeiture” and “liquidate” mean – along with “sound money,” “business confidence” and the usual consequences, “debt deflation” and “debt peonage.”

           
Somebody must take a loss on the economy’s bad loans – and bankers want the economy to take the loss, to “save the financial system.” From the financial sector’s vantage point, the economy is to be managed to preserve bank liquidity, rather than the financial system run to serve the economy. Government social spending (on everything apart from bank bailouts and financial subsidies), disposable personal income are to be cut back to keep the debt overhead from being written down. Corporate cash flow is to be used to pay creditors, not employ more labor and make long-term capital investment.

           
The economy is to be sacrificed to subsidize the fantasy that debts can be paid, if only banks can be “made whole” to begin lending again – that is, to resume loading the economy down with even more debt, causing yet more intrusive debt deflation.

           
This is not the familiar old 19th-century class war of industrial employers against labor, although that is part of what is happening. It is above all a war of the financial sector against the “real” economy: industry as well as labor.

           
The underlying reality is indeed that pensions cannot be paid – at least, not paid out of financial gains. For the past fifty years the Western economies have indulged the fantasy of paying retirees out of purely financial gains (M-M’ as Marxists would put it), not out of an expanding economy (M-C-M’, employing labor to produce more output). The myth was that finance would take the form of productive loans to increase capital formation and hiring. The reality is that finance takes the form of debt – and gambling. Its gains therefore were made from the economy at large. They were extractive, not productive. Wealth at the rentier top of the economic pyramid shrank the base below. So something has to give. The question is, what form will the “give” take? And who will do the giving – and be the recipients?

           
The Greek government has been unwilling to tax the rich. So labor must make up the fiscal gap, by permitting its socialist government to cut back pensions, health care, education and other social spending – all to bail out the financial sector from an exponential growth that is impossible to realize in practice. The economy is being sacrificed to an impossible dream. Yet instead of blaming the problem on the exponential growth in bank claims that cannot be paid, bank lobbyists – and the G-20 politicians dependent on their campaign funding – are promoting the myth that the problem is demographic: an aging population expecting Social Security and employer pensions. Instead of paying these, governments are being told to use their taxing and credit-creating power to bail out the financial sector’s claims for payment.

           
Latvia has been held out as the poster child for what the EU is recommending for Greece and the other PIIGS: Slashing public spending on education and health has reduced public-sector wages by 30 percent, and they are still falling. Property prices have fallen by 70 percent – and homeowners and their extended family of co-signers are liable for the negative equity, plunging them into a life of debt peonage if they do not take the hint and emigrate.

           
The bizarre pretense for government budget cutbacks in the face of a post-bubble economic downturn is that aims to rebuild “confidence.” It is as if fiscal self-destruction can instill confidence rather than prompting investors to flee the euro. The logic seems to be the familiar old class war, rolling back the clock to the hard-line tax philosophy of a bygone era – rolling back Social Security and public pensions, rolling back public spending on education and other basic needs, and above all, increasing unemployment to drive down wage levels. This was made explicit by Latvia’s central bank – which EU central bankers hold up as a “model” of economic shrinkage for other countries to follow.

           
It is a self-destructive logic. Exacerbating the economic downturn will reduce tax revenues, making budget deficits even worse in a declining spiral. Latvia’s experience shows that the response to economic shrinkage is emigration of skilled labor and capital flight. Europe’s policy of planned economic shrinkage in fact controverts the prime assumption of political and economic textbooks: the axiom that voters act in their self-interest, and that economies choose to grow, not to destroy themselves. Today, European democracies – and even the Social Democratic, Socialist and labour Parties – are running for office on a fiscal and financial policy platform that opposes the interests of most voters, and even industry.

           
The explanation, of course, is that today’s economic planning is not being done by elected representatives. Planning authority has been relinquished to the hands of “independent” central banks, which in turn act as the lobbyists for commercial banks selling their product – debt. From the central bank’s vantage point, the “economic problem” is how to keep commercial banks and other financial institutions solvent in a post-bubble economy. How can they get paid for debts that are beyond the ability of many people to pay, in an environment of rising defaults?

           
The answer is that creditors can get paid only at the economy’s expense. The remaining economic surplus must go to them, not to capital investment, employment or social spending.

           
This is the problem with the financial view. It is short-term – and predatory. Given a choice between operating the banks to promote the economy, or running the economy to benefit the banks, bankers always will choose the latter alternative. And so will the politicians they support.

           
Governments need huge sums to bail out the banks from their bad loans. But they cannot borrow more, because of the debt squeeze. So the bad-debt loss must be passed onto labor and industry. The cover story is that government bailouts will permit the banks to start lending again, to reflate the Bubble Economy’s Ponzi-borrowing. But there is already too much negative equity and there is no leeway left to restart the bubble. Economies are all “loaned up.” Real estate rents, corporate cash flow and public taxing power cannot support further borrowing – no matter how wealth the government gives to banks. Asset prices have plunged into negative equity territory. Debt deflation is shrinking markets, corporate profits and cash flow. The Miracle of Compound Interest dynamic has culminated in defaults, reflecting the inability of debtors to sustain the exponential rise in carrying charges that “financial solvency” requires.

           
If the financial sector can be rescued only by cutting back social spending on Social Security, health care and education, bolstered by more privatization sell-offs, is it worth the price? To sacrifice the economy in this way would violate most peoples’ social values of equity and fairness rooted deep in Enlightenment philosophy.

           
That is the political problem: How can bankers persuade voters to approve this under a democratic system? It is necessary to orchestrate and manage their perceptions. Their poverty must be portrayed as desirable – as a step toward future prosperity.

           
A half-century of failed IMF austerity plans imposed on hapless Third World debtors should have dispelled forever the idea that the way to prosperity is via austerity. The ground has been paved for this attitude by a generation of purging the academic curriculum of knowledge that there ever was an alternative economic philosophy to that sponsored by the rentier Counter-Enlightenment. Classical value and price theory reflected John Locke’s labor theory of property: A person’s wealth should be what he or she creates with their own labor and enterprise, not by insider dealing or special privilege.

           
This is why I say that Europe is dying. If its trajectory is not changed, the EU must succumb to a financial coup d’êtat rolling back the past three centuries of Enlightenment social philosophy. The question is whether a break-up is now the only way to recover its social democratic ideals from the banks that have taken over its central planning organs.

 

Notes

[1] Alan Beattie, “Wealthy nations urged to make rapid cuts,” Financial Times, June 10, 2010.

[2] “The euro mutiny begins,” The Telegraph, June 16, 2010.

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The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

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In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The meltdown of financial markets was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation. The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a “war without borders” led by the U.S. and its NATO allies.

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Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent writer both on the contemporary structures of capitalism as well as on the history of the global political economy. He is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

“This important collection offers the reader a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets – especially the financial, social and military ramifications – from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.” -Mario Seccareccia, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa

“In-depth investigations of the inner workings of the plutocracy in crisis, presented by some of our best politico-economic analysts. This book should help put to rest the hallucinations of ‘free market’ ideology.” -Michael Parenti, author of God and His Demons and Contrary Notions

“Provides a very readable exposé of a global economic system, manipulated by a handful of extremely powerful economic actors for their own benefit, to enrich a few at the expense of an ever-growing majority.” -David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor Revisited

The complex causes as well as the devastating consequences of the economic crisis are carefully scrutinized with contributions from Ellen Brown, Tom Burghardt, Michel Chossudovsky, Richard C. Cook, Shamus Cooke, John Bellamy Foster, Michael Hudson,  Tanya Cariina Hsu, Fred Magdoff,  Andrew Gavin Marshall, James Petras, Peter Phillips, Peter Dale Scott, Bill Van Auken, Claudia von Werlhof and Mike Whitney.

Despite the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives presented within this volume, all of the contributors ultimately come to the same conclusion: humanity is at the crossroads of the most serious economic and social crisis in modern history.

“This meticulous, vital, timely and accessible work unravels the history of a hydra-headed monster: military, media and politics, culminating in “humanity at the crossroads”; the current unprecedented economic and social crisis… From the first page of the preface of The Global Economic Crisis, the reasons for all unravel with compelling clarity. For those asking “why?” this book has the answers.” –Felicity Arbuthnot, award-winning author and journalist based in London.

“The current economic crisis, its causes and hopefully its cure have been a mystery for most people. I welcome a readable exposition of the global dimensions of the crisis and hope for some clarity on how to better organize money locally and internationally for the future.”  -Dr. Rosalie Bertell, renowned scientist, Alternative Nobel Prize laureate and Regent, International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine, Geneva

“This work is much more than a path-breaking and profound historical analysis of the actors and institutions, it is an affirmation of the authors’ belief that a better world is feasible and that it can be achieved by collective organized actions and faith in the sustainability of a democratic order.” -Frederick Clairmonte, distinguished analyst of the global political economy and author of the 1960s classic, The Rise and Fall of Economic Liberalism: The Making of the Economic Gulag

“Decades of profligate economic policies and promiscuous military interventions reached a critical mass, exploding in the meltdown of globalization in 2008. Today, the economic meltdown is reconfiguring everything – global society, economy and culture. This book is engineering a revolution by introducing an innovative global theory of economics.” -Michael Carmichael, prominent author, historian and president of the Planetary Movement

The Global Economic Crisis
The Great Depression of the XXI Century

Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

TO READ THE PREFACE CLICK HERE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall

PART I THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS

Chapter 1 The Global Economic Crisis: An Overview Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 2 Death of the American Empire Tanya Cariina Hsu
Chapter 3 Financial Implosion and Economic Stagnation John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff
Chapter 4 Depression: The Crisis of Capitalism James Petras
Chapter 5 Globalization and Neoliberalism: Is there an Alternative to Plundering the Earth? Claudia von Werlhof
Chapter 6 The Economy’s Search for a “New Normal” Shamus Cooke

PART II GLOBAL POVERTY

Chapter 7 Global Poverty and the Economic Crisis Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 8 Poverty and Social Inequality Peter Phillips

PART III WAR, NATIONAL SECURITY AND WORLD GOVERNMENT

Chapter 9 War and the Economic Crisis Michel Chossudovsky
Chapter 10 The “Dollar Glut” Finances America’s Global Military Build-Up Michael Hudson
Chapter 11 Martial Law, the Financial Bailout and War Peter Dale Scott
Chapter 12 Pentagon and Intelligence Black Budget Operations Tom Burghardt
Chapter 13 The Economic Crisis “Threatens National Security” in America Bill Van Auken
Chapter 14 The Political Economy of World Government Andrew Gavin Marshall

PART IV THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM

Chapter 15 Central Banking: Managing the Global Political Economy Andrew Gavin Marshall
Chapter 16 The Towers of Basel: Secretive Plan to Create a Global Central Bank Ellen Brown
Chapter 17 The Financial New World Order: Towards A Global Currency Andrew Gavin Marshall
Chapter 18 Democratizing the Monetary System Richard C. Cook

PART V THE SHADOW BANKING SYSTEM

Chapter 19 Wall Street’s Ponzi Scheme Ellen Brown,
Chapter 20 Securitization: The Biggest Rip-off Ever Mike Whitney  

TO READ THE PREFACE CLICK HERE

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Is Petraeus McChrystal’s Replacement or Obama’s

June 24th, 2010 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Our petulant president’s ego can’t handle a general letting off steam. Neither can any of the spoiled children who comprise “our” government in DC, the capital of the “superpower.” 

Generals have to fight wars that civilians start, either from the incompetence of their diplomacy or the arrogance of their hubris. Generals have to get young troops killed because of the stupidity or ambition or corruption of civilian government officials.

All McChrystal did was to let off steam. A real president would have realized that and let it go. 

Don’t get me wrong. McChrystal is a militarist, and I am pleased to see him gone. 

However, McChrystal didn’t restart America’s aggression against Afghanistan. The Obama moron did. 

People elected Obama, because they were tired of Bush’s wars based on lies. So Obama gave us a new war in Pakistan and reignited the Afghan war. No one knows what these wars are about or why the bankrupt US government is wasting vast sums of money, which it has to borrow from foreigners, in order to murder the citizenry in two countries that have never done anything to us. 

Just as Bush/Cheney and their criminal neocon government deceived the world that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” that threatened white people everywhere, Obama has conflated the Taliban with al Qaeda. Obama has sold the tale to white countries that unless the US determines how Afghanistan is ruled and by whom, white people are in danger of being exterminated by al Qaeda Taliban terrorists. 

The most telling aspect of the McChrystal-Obama contretemps is that it has caused no one in the US government, or media, to ask why the US is still killing women and children in Afghanistan after 9 years. The US government is prepared for everyone except itself to be tried at the War Crimes Tribunal.

Fred Branfman writing in AlterNet on June 22 reminds us that five million Iraqis were killed, maimed, tortured and displaced by an American invasion based on lies told by the highest officials in the American government. Yet, no one has been held accountable.

But Gen. McChrystal is held accountable for letting off steam.

Once the Roman senate, the legislative branch, collapsed, the caesars, the executive branch, became the captives of the military. Now with Gen. Petraeus once again moved to the fore as McChrystal’s replacement in Afghanistan, we have the Obama moron elevating Petraeus to the Republican presidential nomination in the next election. Thus
has Obama replaced himself with a man who will unify the military and executive branch.

Associated Press writers Jennifer Loven and Anne Gearan write (June 23) about the “admired and tightly disciplined Gen. David Petraeus,” the “architect of the Iraq war turnaround,” who is “once again to take hands-on leadership of a troubled war effort.”

Petraeus is an evolved form of general. He “won” in Iraq by paying protection money to the Sunnis who were effectively resisting the US occupation. Petraeus figured out that it was far cheaper and more efficient to put the Sunnis on the US military payroll and to pay them to stop fighting, which is how the war between the Sunnis and the Americans ended. To keep the Americans out of the ongoing large scale sectarian violence that continues to slaughter Iraqis, the US military was confined to remote bases. 

If history is a guide, the Afghans will also accept Petraeus’ protection money, and Petraeus has just enough time to buy the Afghan war before the next presidential election. 

The Afghans will, of course, take the money and wait us out, just as the Iraqis are doing.

All of this drama is playing out despite the continuing lack of any valid reason for the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Washington idiots, trying to dictate how Iraq and Afghanistan are governed, are destroying constitutional government in the United States. In our hubris to determine how Iraq and Afghanistan are ruled, we are losing our own government.

Israeli Gaza Blockade Announcement Silent on Issue of Gazan Exports

June 24th, 2010 by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Montreal – On late Sunday, June 20, Israeli spokesman Mark Regev announced “…a green light of approval for all goods to enter Gaza except for military items and materials that can strengthen Hamas’s military machine.” The announcement came after days of evidently heated debate by Israel’s security cabinet, reeling from international criticism of the blockade following Israel’s lethal flotilla raid. Reaction to the announcement has been guarded. UN envoy Tony Blair said the real test will be “not what is said, but what is done.” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration wants to explore expanding freedom of movement and commerce between the West Bank and Gaza. The UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which looks after Palestinian refugees, urged that the blockade be ended, as have Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, which governs in Gaza.

It is unclear if the announced changes will be fully implemented. However, according to Al Jazeera news network, on the morning of June 22, over 100 truckloads of goods entered Gaza through the Keram Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing at the south-east corner of the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, Israel vows to continue its severe restrictions on the entry of items it says could be used to build weapons, including cement and steel rods. These and other construction materials are urgently needed to reconstruct Gaza’s infrastructure and rebuild the homes of the estimated 100,000 Gazans left homeless by last year’s 22-day attack.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) welcomes Israel’s announcement, but backs UNRWA’s call for a complete end to the blockade. “The blockade violates the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting collective punishment of civilians, has caused deep suffering and achieved none of its announced objectives,” says CJPME President Thomas Woodley. “Israel and the international community have many alternatives, such as international inspections, to safeguard Israel’s security without causing intense hardship among Gaza’s civilian population,” he adds.

The announcement was silent on whether the prohibition on Gaza exports and the restrictions on fishing rights and freedom of movement and commerce between Gaza and the West Bank would be modified. As UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness points out, simply allowing more goods in, without lifting the prohibition on exporting, will intensify Gaza’s dependence on foreign aid. Gazan fisherman are currently prohibited by Israel from fishing beyond 5 km off the coast, in the deeper waters where fish are more abundant; those venturing beyond the limit are fired upon by the Israeli navy. Gazan business owners want expanded commerce with the West Bank. Israel continues to prevent Israeli and foreign journalists from entering Gaza, and its restrictions on movement into and out of the Strip complicate family visits.


 

For more information, please contact:

Grace Batchoun

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Telephone: (514) 745-8491

CJPME Email  – CJPME Website

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.

Global Bonapartism: The G20 and the Planet

June 24th, 2010 by Prof. Vijay Prashad

We are left with the politicians who think poorly of us, and who stand back with chaos in their pale old eyes whimpering, “That is not what we wanted. No, it was not to have gone that way.” They are old, but we have been very ill, and cannot yet send them away. — Bertram Warr (1917-1943).

When the Finance Ministers of the Advanced States set up the G7 in 1974-75, their tongues quivered with the taste of centuries of power. The Soviet Union had begun its plummet into obsolescence. Its collapse was held off by a decade through the rise of oil prices and the cannibalization of the remarkable achievements of an earlier generation. The Third World had threatened the established order with its demand for a New International Economic Order (1973), but that would quickly be dispatched through financial trickery, one that led directly to the massive debt crisis of the 1980s and the inflation of the power of Wall Street, the City of London and the Frankfurt Finanzplatz. No rivals stood in the way of the G7. The European and Japanese Ministers happily bound their economies into dollar seigniorage, with the euro and the yen now secondary currencies in the world of international settlements. The United States was the leading edge. Its wingmen stood around: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. Everyone beamed. The future was theirs.

Like Achilles, the G7 not only killed its Hector, the hopes of the rest of the planet, but it now tied the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America behind its chariot and dragged it across the battlefield. Structural adjustment conditionalities, aerial bombardment: this was the loot and pillage of the era that opened up in 1975.

In late June, the G7 (with Russia, the G8) will meet in Toronto, Canada. This is its 33rd official gathering; it might be its final one. Alongside the G8, Canada will also host the G20. The G20 was formed in 1999 at the initiative of the “locomotives of the South,” the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), South Africa (who joins them in another iteration, the IBSA – India, Brazil and South Africa) and Mexico. A smart fellow at Goldman Sachs coined the acronym BRIC, but it has stuck, and it means more than that quaint sounding term from the 1990s, “emerging economies.” The G20 began as a “mechanism for informal dialogue.” Circumstances favored a greater role: the global financial crisis from 2008 onward opened the door. The “advanced” economies turned for consideration to their creditors among the BRIC states. This moment of crisis pushed the G20 to ask for more than an informal status. At the 2009 G20 Summit in Pittsburg, the eminences pledged, “Today, we designated the G20 as the premier forum for our international economic cooperation.”

The Road to the High Table

Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom are the least pleased with the demise of the G8, since this has been their major platform to assert their otherwise declined global presence (this applies in particular to Japan, which has seen its influence decline relative to the rise of China’s authority). Because of these powers, the G8 might continue to meet, but it will not be able to act as the executive committee of the G20. The others might not allow that. They can see the benefit of having China in the room, and India and Brazil. Keep your friends close, is the theory, but your enemies closer.

Since the 1950s, it has been the effort of the Atlantic states to squash the march of political progress in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Independent political action was frowned upon. The Dulles brothers felt that all this talk of “non-alignment” was simply a Trojan Horse for Bolshevism. John Foster Dulles shared bugbears with Winston Churchill. Both were obsessed with Communism, what Dulles called “godless terrorism.” One can imagine John Foster chuckling as Churchill says, “The failure to strangle Bolshevism at its birth and to bring Russia, then prostrate, by one means or another, into the general democratic system, lies heavy upon us today” (1949). If Russia finally entered the G7, and, despite its occasional bouts of independent thinking, went along with the Atlantic powers, the countries of the Third World project were less pliable. Even when they give themselves over to the broad outlines of the Atlantic project, they still do things that are unacceptable: as when Turkey and Brazil cut the deal with Iran on nuclear fuel.

Unwilling to be fully servile, the “locomotives of the South” have tried to make the most of differences among the G7 to edge their way onto the table. The weak link was France’s Nicolas Sarkozy. In 2003, the French had already invited the Plus Five countries (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) to the Evian Summit of the G8. At the next two summits (Gleneagles, 2005, and Heilingendamm, 2007) the G7 leaders spoke timidly of trying to “institutionalize the dialogue.” The Plus Five saw this as insufficient. Shortly after his installation as France’s President in 2007, Sarkozy put the case for the Plus Five. It was his Gaullist moment, to create some daylight between the Anglo-Saxon attack on Iraq and France’s “benign” colonial history.

In January 2008, at a meeting in Delhi, Sarkozy told business leaders, “At the G8 summit, eight countries meet for two and a half days and on the third day invite five developing nations – Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa – for discussions over lunch. This is injustice to 2.5 billion inhabitants of these nations. Why this third grade treatment to them? I want that the next G8 summit be converted into a G13 summit.” Sarko’s indignation stops at his borders. The third-grade treatment is acceptable to the racaille in the banlieues, but not to the leadership of their homelands.

The Plus Five states wanted a formal role in the G8, but that was not all. There is an old, unaddressed demand from them to bring democracy to the UN Security Council, where only five powers have a permanent seat and a veto (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States). India, Brazil and South Africa, in particular, have called for regional representation – another Asian state, a South American one and an African one. The call has fallen on deaf ears.

The other important demand has been for democracy in the IMF and the World Bank, two institutions that are dominated by the Europeans and the United States. As the country with vast surpluses, China has made the loudest noises, in the most genial way, for greater voting power in the IMF. At the Pittsburg meeting of the G20 in 2009, the powers gave the nod to open up the vote share in the IMF (the United States has the largest block of votes, 17 per cent, while China now has the sixth largest, with 3.7 per cent). “The voices of those countries is underrepresented, and their economies are developing very rapidly. If those facts are not adequately reflected, the IMF will not be able to maintain its credibility and legitimacy,” said Sadakazu Tanigaki the Japanese Finance Minister in 2006 (he is now the leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, and likely Prime Minister if the LDP comes back to power).

Entry into the Executive Committee of the IMF, which is what has been gained, is of little value. It barely takes any decisions. It is a sleepy sinecure for Central Bank officials who are near retirement. The IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office report from 2008 acknowledges this. In 2007, the German Minister of Finance, Peter Steinbruck, told the International Monetary and Financial Committee that Germany would advocate for “fair representation” based on “relative weight in the global economy.” The problem is how one calculates that. The Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram felt that if GDP is the gold standard, then it must be converted using purchasing power parities. To quote Aerosmith, dream on.

The Lehman collapse provided the spur to bring the Plus Five to the high table. But the push for institutional reform predates the financial crisis. It comes from an earlier tradition, one articulated in the 1990 South Commission Report, The Challenge of the South, to push the locomotives to the front and hope that they will not ignore the challenges of the rest of the African, Asian and Latin American states, as well as the needs of the working peoples of the North. That was the game plan. The seats are now occupied, but it is unlikely that those who occupy them have either the subjective or objective pressures to champion the disposable peoples of the planet.

Capitalist Revisionism

The G20 met in Pittsburg when it appeared possible that global capitalism might implode. Talk of global Keynesianism was in the air, and it looked like neoliberalism was on its knees. The final communiqué from Pittsburg did not disguise its true intentions, which was to use the stimulus to get over the slump and then return to business as usual. “We will avoid any premature withdrawal of surplus,” the eminences wrote, “at the same time, we will prepare our exit strategies and, when the time is right, withdraw our extraordinary policy support in a cooperative and coordinated way, maintaining our commitment to fiscal responsibility.” There is nothing here to indicate a fundamental course correction.

A real alternative was proposed in the UN Conference at the Highest Level on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development (June 1-3, 2009). It was a gasp from the UN Left – pushed by the General Assembly’s President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann and organized by former World Bank lead economist Joseph Stiglitz. They drew their judgment from an October 2008 panel that included India’s Prabhat Patnaik, Japan’s Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Kenya’s Calestous Juma. In April 2009, the Commission of Experts put out a set of recommendations. The text is 18 pages long. It called for the discussion to return to the G-192 (the UN), and conduct a colonoscopy of the financial system. It is now available from the New Press as The Stiglitz Report (Spring 2010).

The finance ministers of the G20, called the sherpas, met in Busan, South Korea earlier this month to create the agenda and draft documents for the G20 summit. The ministers met in the lush Paradise Hotel. They told the press that it was time for austerity. Yoon Jeung-Hyun, South Korea’s Minister for Strategy and Finance, led the charge. In 1992, he had pushed South Korea’s capital market liberalization. Yoon is a veteran not only of crisis creation, but also of crisis management (when South Korea begged the IMF and its creditors for leeway in the J. P. Morgan building in 1997). The Pusan text was interpreted by Yoon, “The recent events highlight the importance of sustainable public finances and the need for our countries to put in place credible, growth-friendly measures, to deliver fiscal sustainability, differentiated for and tailored to national circumstances. Those countries with serious fiscal challenges need to accelerate the pace of consolidation.” The keyword here is “consolidation,” which in the argot of the financiers means the reduction of government deficits and debt accumulation. Or, in almost popular language, the Pusan sherpas called for austerity.

The Greek financial meltdown provided the lesson. That Goldman Sachs had colluded with the Greek ruling elite to enable and mask its debt was not the issue. The lesson from the Greek debacle was that European countries had to hastily bring down their deficits. These deficits had to now be paid for not by higher taxes on the rich (or even more effective tax collection on extant rates), but by cuts in government social spending and on effective taxations of all kinds on the working-class. The consumption of the elite could not be touched, but the consumption of the poor, low as it is, is going to be curtailed. The newly elected Conservatives in the UK hastened to slash government spending, with the Conservative leader, David Cameron, telling his fellows to change their “whole way of life.”

Angela Merkel’s German conservatives were not far behind with their cuts; this after Merkel forced the Greeks to wield their own hatchet. An 80-billion euro cut will start the process, with more in the wings. “The direction is the right one,” said an editorial in Bild, “The government is saving money on items it no longer wants to afford and that can only be financed through debt. Every private individual would do the same with his finances. The program isn’t heartless.” Actually, the program is brutal.

During the Pusan meeting, the IMF’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn went to Spain to validate the austerity program of Prime Minister Zapatero. Both are socialists. Strauss-Kahn is the presumptive Socialist candidate for the 2012 election. He was the architect of the privatization program that doomed the last socialist government (led by Lionel Jospin). Zapatero is going to cut 15-billion euros from his budget. Spain is “moving in absolutely the right direction,” anointed Strauss-Kahn. The new policies are a “shot in the arm.” Even Merkel expressed her “full confidence in Spain.” Not so the workers, who mimic their Greek comrades on the Spanish streets.

Obama sent his encyclical to the G20. He worried that Europe was too hasty in the turn to austerity. Obama cannot afford to follow them. He has neither the political capital nor the political will. In the past, he wrote, the “stimulus was too quickly withdrawn and resulted in renewed hardships and recession.” Obama wants “credible plans,” which means another route. He cannot afford to be outside, what David Cameron called, “the international mainstream” of debt management. It would look awkward.

Less awkward for Obama is to blame China. That is now an established art in Washington. The current theme is to demand that China devalue its currency, and thereby administer a reduction of its surplus dollars. There is a demand that the Chinese government needs to push policies that increase domestic consumption and reduce its domestic saving rate. The Chinese need to be made into consumers. They are too thrifty. Currently the personal consumption of the vast Chinese population is only 16 per cent of that of the U. S. population. If the Chinese were to become America, imagine the ecological stress. The champion of “green capitalism” has not thought that through.

Hu Jintao is a crafty politician. To forestall U. S. criticism, the Chinese have loosened the yuan’s peg to the dollar. It will not do what Washington wants, but it will allow Hu to claim he has done what he can and yet do little. Beijing promised as much in April, before Hu’s visit to Washington. Little came of it. The Chinese are equally unprepared to slow down on the stimulus – at $585-billion, it allowed the Chinese economy to grow by 8.7 per cent last year. To manage the unrest in the country, the leadership has looked the other way during strike action against some of the export-processing firms. Hu has his own problems. He won’t be Obama’s sherpa.

At Toronto, the main card will be Obama vs. Merkel. What the newly enfranchised G20 will do is unclear. It has a place at the table, but it has none of the vision of the Bolivarians (Venezuela wants to close down the IMF, and Ecuador has defaulted on the Odious Debts). Neither do the “locomotives of the South” have an agenda in common. Will they be spectators, watching Obama and Merkel circle each other, or will they offer a third way, perhaps putting forward a few of the proposals from the Stiglitz Report? I put my money on them being spectators, but I’d love to be wrong. •

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. His most recent book, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, won the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Prize for 2009. Prashad’s presentation at the recent Historical Materialism Conference. He can be reached at: [email protected]. This article first published by Counterpunch.

The National Education Association Peace and Justice Caucus has joined 110 other organizations and congressional candidates in opposing any more funding of foreign wars.  While the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee has stalled further war escalation funding until Congress funds teachers, teachers themselves do not want the war escalation funded at all, and certainly not with school funding used as pretty packaging on the same piece of legislation.

Eighty-four congressional candidates and 27 national organizations are opposing any more funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, no matter what unrelated measures are packaged into the same bill, and no matter whether the bill appears likely to pass or not.  This position contrasts strongly with that of most incumbent congress members who “oppose” and “criticize” the wars.  The new Coalition Against War Spending is inviting more candidates, including all incumbents, and national organizations to join.  The 84 candidates who have already signed on are from 27 different states and Washington, D.C., and include 31 Greens, 24 Libertarians, 21 Democrats, 4 Independents, 1 Republican, 1 Socialist, and 2 Peace and Freedom Party members (and more may be added to the website by the time you read this).  Seventy-three are candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, and 11 for the Senate.  

The U.S. Senate passed $33.5 billion to escalate the war in Afghanistan last month, and the House is likely to take up the same bill in the coming days or weeks.

Members of the Coalition Against War Spending do not all agree with each other on many topics, including their reasons for opposing war spending.  But they all back this short statement:

“The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans over $1 trillion in direct costs, and over $3 trillion altogether.  At a time when our national debt exceeds $13 trillion, we can no longer afford these wars.  It’s time for Congress to reject any funding except to bring all our troops safely home.

SIGNED BY CANDIDATES AND ORGANIZATIONS:

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives:
Ken Adler, AR-01, Batesville, Green | Statement
Nick Coons, AZ-05, Tempe/Scottsdale, Libertarian | Statement
Rebecca Schneider, AZ-06, Phoenix, Democrat
Richard Grayson, AZ-06, Apache Junction, Green | Statement
Carol Wolman, CA-01, northwest corner, Green
Clint Curtis CA-04, northeast corner, Democrat | Statement
Ben Emery CA-04, Nevada City, Green
Eugene E Ruyle, CA-06, Marin/Sonoma, Peace and Freedom | Statement
Jeremy Cloward, CA-10, Pleasant Hill, Green | Statement
Mark Williams, CA-12, San Carlos, Libertarian
Mary V. Larkin, CA-17, Monterey, Libertarian | Statement
Les Marsden, CA-19, Yosemite/Mariposa, Democrat | Statement
Randall Weissbuch, CA-26, Arcadia, Libertarian
Richard R. Castaldo, CA-30, Peace and Freedom Party
Marcy Winograd, CA-36, Los Angeles, Democrat | Video
William Hedrick, CA-44, Riverside/San Clemente, Democrat
Ken Arnold, CA-46, Orange and L.A., Democrat | Statement
Mike Paster, CA-49, Fallbrook, Libertarian
Tracy Emblem, CA-50, San Diego, Democrat | Statement
Michael Benoit, CA-52, San Diego, Libertarian
Lisa Ann Green, CA-53, Venice, Green
Gary Swing, CO-01, Denver, Green | Statement
Jerell Klaver, CO-05, Manitou Springs, Libertarian | Statement
G. Scott Deshefy, CT-02, New London, Green
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VIDEO: WHO and the Pandemic Flu “Conspiracies”

June 24th, 2010 by Deborah Cohen

Key scientists advising the World Health Organization on planning for an influenza pandemic had done paid work for pharmaceutical firms that stood to gain from the guidance they were preparing. These conflicts of interest have never been publicly disclosed by WHO, and WHO has dismissed inquiries into its handling of the A/H1N1 pandemic as “conspiracy theories.” Deborah Cohenand and Philip Carter investigate

Click here to watch video

  

Next week marks the first anniversary of the official declaration of the influenza A/H1N1 pandemic. On 11 June 2009 Dr Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, announced to the world’s media: “I have conferred with leading influenza experts, virologists, and public health officials.In line with procedures set out in the International Health Regulations, I have sought guidance and advice from an Emergency Committee established for this purpose. On the basis of available evidence, and these expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met…The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.”

It was the culmination of 10 years of pandemic preparedness planning for WHO—years of committee meetings with experts flown in from around the world and reams of draft documents offering guidance to governments. But one year on, governments that took advice from WHO are unwinding their vaccine contracts, and billions of dollars’ worth of stockpiled oseltamivir(Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza)—bought from health budgets already under tight constraints—lie unused in warehouses around the world.

A joint investigation by the BMJ and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has uncovered evidence that raises troubling questions about how WHO managed conflicts of interest among the scientists who advised its pandemic planning, and about the transparency of the science underlying its advice to governments. Was it appropriate for WHO to take advice from experts who had declarable financial and research ties with pharmaceutical companies producing antivirals and influenza vaccines? Why was key WHO guidanceauthored by an influenza expert who had received payment for other work from Roche, manufacturers of oseltamivir, and GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturers of zanamivir? And why does the composition of the emergency committee from which Chan sought guidance remain a secret known only to those within WHO? We are left wondering whether major public health organisations are able to effectively manage the conflicts of interest that are inherent in medicalscience.

Already WHO’s handling of the pandemic has led to an unprecedentednumber of reviews and inquiries by organisations including the Council of Europe, European Parliament, and WHO itself, following allegations of industry influence. Dr Chan has dismissed these as “conspiracies,” and earlier this year, during a speech at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, she said: “WHO anticipated close scrutiny of its decisions, but we did not anticipate that we would be accused, by some European politicians, of having declared a fake pandemic on the advice of experts with ties to the pharmaceutical industry and something personal to gain from increased industry profits.”

The inquiry by British MP Paul Flynn for the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly—due to be published today—will be critical. It will say that decision making around the A/H1N1 crisis has been lacking in transparency. “Some of the outcomes of the pandemic, as illustrated in this report, have been dramatic: distortion of priorities of public health services all over Europe, waste of huge sums of public money, provocation of unjustified fear amongst Europeans, creation of health risks through vaccines and medications which might not have been sufficiently tested before being authorised in fast-track procedures, are all examples of these outcomes. These results need to be critically examined by public health authorities at all levels with a view to rebuilding public confidence in their decisions.”

The investigation by the BMJ/The Bureau reveals a system struggling to manage the inherent conflict between the pharmaceutical industry, WHO, and the global public health system, which all draw on the same pool of scientific experts. Our investigation has identified key scientists involved in WHO pandemic planning who had declarable interests, some of whom are or have been funded by pharmaceutical firms that stood to gain from the guidance they were drafting. Yet these interests have never been publicly disclosed by WHOand, despite repeated requests from the BMJ/The Bureau, WHO has failed to provide any details about whether such conflicts were declared by the relevant experts and what, if anything, was done about them.

It is this lack of transparency over conflicts of interests—coupled with a documented changing of the definition of a pandemic and unanswered questions over the evidence base for therapeutic interventions1—that has led to the emergence of these conspiracies.

WHO says: “Potential conflicts of interest are inherent in any relationship between a normative and health development agency, like WHO, and a profit-driven industry. Similar considerations apply when experts advising the Organization have professional links with pharmaceutical companies. Numerous safeguards are in place to manage possible conflicts of interest or their perception.”

Another factor that has fuelled the conspiracy theories is the manner in which risk has been communicated. No one disputes the difficulty of communicating an uncertain situation or the concept of risk in a pandemic situation. But one world expert in risk communication, Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Centre for Adaptive Behaviour and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, told the BMJ/The Bureau: “The problem is not so much that communicating uncertainty is difficult, but that uncertainty was not communicated. There was no scientific basis for the WHO’s estimate of 2 billion for likely H1N1 cases, and we knew little about the benefits and harms of the vaccination. The WHO maintained this 2 billion estimate even after the winter season in Australia and New Zealand showed that only about one to two out of 1000 people were infected. Last but not least, it changed the very definition of a pandemic.”

WHO for years had defined pandemics as outbreaks causing “enormousnumbers of deaths and illness” but in early May 2009 it removed this phrase—describing a measure of severity—from the definition.2

The beginnings

The routes to the Council of Europe’s criticisms can be traced back to 1999, a pivotal year in the influenza world. In April that year WHO—spurred on by the 1997 chicken flu outbreak in Hong Kong—began to organise itself for a feared pandemic. It drew up a key document, Influenza Pandemic Plan: The Role of WHO and Guidelines for National and Regional Planning.

WHO’s first influenza pandemic preparedness plan was stark in the scale of the risk the world faced in 1999: “It is impossible to anticipate when a pandemic might occur. Should a true influenza pandemic virus again appear that behaved as in 1918, even taking into account the advances in medicine since then, unparalleled tolls of illness and death would be expected.”

In the small print of that document it states: “R Snacken, J Wood, L R Haaheim, A P Kendal, G J Ligthart, and D Lavanchy prepared this document for the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza (ESWI).” What this document does not disclose is that ESWI is funded entirely by Roche and other influenza drugmanufacturers. Nor does it disclose that René Snacken and Daniel Lavanchy were participating in Roche sponsored events the previous year, according to marketing material seen by the BMJ/The Bureau.

Dr Snacken was working for the Belgian ministry of public health when he wrote about studies involving neuraminidase inhibitors for a Roche promotional booklet. And Dr Lavanchy, meanwhile, was a WHO employee when he appeared at a Roche sponsored symposium in 1998. His role at that time was in the WHO Division of Viral Diseases. Dr Lavanchy has declined to comment.

In 1999 other members of the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza included Professor Karl Nicholson of Leicester University, UK, and Professor Abe Osterhaus of Erasmus University in the Netherlands. These two scientists are also identified in Roche marketing material seen by this investigation which was produced between 1998 and 2000. Professor Osterhaus told theBMJ that he had always been transparent about any work he has done with industry. Professor Nicholson similarly has consistently declared his connections with pharmaceutical companies, for example, in papers published in journals such as the BMJ and Lancet.

Both experts were also at that time engaged in a randomised controlled trial on oseltamivir supported by Roche. The trial was subsequently published in the Lancet in 2000.3 It remains one of the main studies supporting oseltamivir’s effectiveness—and one that was subsequently shown to have employed undeclared industry funded ghostwriters.1

The influence of the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza would continue as the decade wore on and the calls for pandemic planning became more strident. Founded in 1992, this “multidisciplinary group of key opinion leaders in influenza aims to combat the impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza” and claims links to WHO, the Robert Koch Institute, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, among others.4 Despite the group’s claims of scientific independence its 100% industry funding does present a potential conflict of interest. One if its roles is to lobby politicians, as highlighted in a 2009 policy document.5

At a pre-pandemic preparation workshop of the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza in January last year, Professor Osterhaus said: “I can tell you that ESWI is working on that idea [that is, convincing politicians] quite intensively. We have contact with MEPs [members of the European Parliament] and with national politicians. But it is they who have to decide at the end of the day, and they will only act at the request of their constituencies. If the latter are not prompted, nothing will happen.”

The group’s policy plan for 2006-10 specifically stated that government representatives needed to “take measures to encourage the pharmaceutical industry to plan its vaccine/antivirals production capacity in advance” and also to “encourage and support research and development of pandemic vaccine” and to “develop a policy for antiviral stockpiling.” It also added that governmentrepresentatives needed to know that “influenza vaccination and use of antivirals is beneficial and safe.” It said that the group provided “evidence based, palatable information”; and also “networking/exchange with other stakeholders (eg, with industry in order to establish pandemic vaccine and antivirals contracts).” In the meantime, in Roche’s own marketing plan, one goal was to “align Roche with credible third party advocates”. They “leveraged these relationships by enlisting our third-party partners to serve as spokespeople and increase awareness of Tamiflu and its benefits.”6

Barbara Mintzes, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of British Columbia, is currently part of a group working with Health Action International and WHO developing model curricula for medical and pharmaceutical students on drug promotion and interactions with the industry, including conflicts of interest. She thinks that caution isadvised when working with medical bodies of this sort.

“It is legitimate for WHO to work with industry at times. But I would have concerns about involvement with a group that looks like it is for independent academics that is actually mainly industry funded,” she told the BMJ/The Bureau, adding: “The Institute of Medicine has raised concerns about the need to have a firewall with medical groups. To me this does not sound like an independent group, as it is mainly funded by manufacturers.”

She also thinks that there is a difference between the conflict of interest in having a clinical trial funded by a company and the conflict of interest in being involved in marketing a drug—for example, on a paid speaker’s bureau or in marketing material. ”Some academic medical departments, for example Stanford University, have banned staff from being involved in marketing or being on a paid speakers bureau,” she said.

The presence of leading influenza scientists at promotional events for oseltamivir reflected not just the concern of an impending pandemic, but the excitement over the potential of a new class of drugs—neuraminidase inhibitors—to offer treatment and protection against seasonal influenza.

In 1999 two new drugs first came to market: oseltamivir, from Roche; and zanamivir, manufactured by what is now GlaxoSmithKline. The two drugs would battle it out over the coming years, with oseltamivir—aided by its oral administration—trumping its rival in global sales as the decade wore on.

The potential was quickly grasped. Indeed, that year Professor Osterhaus published an article proposing the use of neuraminidase inhibitors in pandemics: “Finally, during a possible future influenza pandemic, in view of their broad reactivity against influenza virus neuraminidase subtypes and the expected lack of sufficient quantities of vaccine, the new antivirals willundoubtedly have an essential role to play in reducing the number of victims.”7

However, he also warned that antivirals should not be seen as a replacement for vaccinations. “Close collaboration and consultation between, on the one hand, companies marketing influenza vaccines and, on the other, those marketing antivirals will therefore be absolutely essential. It is important that a clear and uniform message indicating the complementary roles of vaccines and antivirals is delivered.”

That article appeared in the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza’s bulletin of April 1999; Professor Osterhaus signs off with the affiliation of WHO National Influenza Centre Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Other experts soon followed suit—recommending the role neuraminidase inhibitors could play in any future pandemic—in both the academic literature and in the general media.

Food and Drug Administration

While the excitement over these drugs fuelled scientific symposiums, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was less than convinced. The BMJ/The Bureau has since spoken to people from within the American and European drug regulators, the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), who said that both regulators struggled with the paucity of the data presented to them for zanamivir and oseltamivir, respectively, during the licensing process.At the end of last year, the BMJ called for access to raw data for key public health drugs after the Cochrane Collaboration found the effectiveness of the drugs impossible to evaluate.8 The group are continuing to negotiate access to what they say they need to fully assess the effectiveness of antivirals.

In the US, the FDA first approved zanamivir in 1999.9 Michael Elashoff, a former employee of the FDA, was the statistician working on the zanamivir account. He told the BMJ how the FDA advisory committee initially rejected zanamivir because the drug lacked efficacy.

After Dr Elashoff’s review (he had access to individual patient data and summary study reports) the FDA’s advisory committee voted by 13 to 4 not to approve zanamivir on the grounds that it was no more effective than placebo when the patients were on other drugs such as paracetamol. He said that it didn’t reduce symptoms even by a day.

“When I was reviewing the data, I tried to replicate the analyses in their summary study reports. The issue was not of data quality, but sensitivity analyses showed even less efficacy,” he said. ”The safety analysis showed there were safety concerns, but the focus was on if Glaxo had demonstrated efficacy.” Dr Elashoff’s view was that zanamivir was no better than placebo—and it had side effects. And when the FDA medical reviewer made a presentation, her conclusion was that it could either be approved or not approved. It was a fairly borderline drug.

There were influenza experts on the FDA’s advisory committee and much of the discussion hinged on why a drug that looked so promising in earlier studies wasn’t working in the largest trials in the US. One hypothesis was that people in the US were taking other drugs for symptomatic relief that maskedany effect of zanamivir. So zanamivir might have no impact on symptoms over and above the baseline medications that people take when they have influenza.

Two other trials—one in Europe and one in Australia— showed a bit more promise. But there was a very low rate of people taking other medications. “So in the context of not being allowed to take anything for symptomatic relief, there might be some effect of Relenza. But in the context of a typical flu, where you have to take other things to manage your symptoms, you wouldn’t notice any effect of Relenza over and above those other things,” Dr Elashoff said. The advisory committee recommended that the drug should not be approved.

Nevertheless, FDA management decided to overturn the committee’srecommendation.

“They would feel better if there was something on the market in case of a pandemic. It wasn’t a scientific decision,” Dr Elashoff said.

While Dr Elashoff was working on the zanamivir review, he was assigned the oseltamivir application. But when the review and the advisory committee decided not to recommend zanamivir, the FDA’s management reassigned the oseltamivir review to someone else. Dr Elashoff believes that the approval of zanamivir paved the way for oseltamivir, which was approved by the FDA later that year.

European Medicines Agency

In Europe the EMEA was similarly troubled by the evidence for oseltamivir. By early 2002 Roche had sought a European Union-wide licence from the EMEA. It was a lengthy process, taking three meetings of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use as well as expert panels, according to one of the two rapporteurs, Pekka Kurki of the Finnish Medicines Agency. Echoing the Cochrane Collaborations’s 2009 findings6 Kurki told us: “We discussed the same issues that are still discussed today: does it show clinically significant benefits in treatment and prophylaxis of flu and what was the magnitude of the benefits presented in the RCTs? Our assessment and Cochrane’s in 2009 are very similar with regard to the effect size in RCTs. The data show that the effects of Tamiflu were clear but not very impressive.

“What was unclear and is still unclear is what is the impact of Tamiflu on serious complications. Circulating influenza was very mild when Tamiflu was developed and therefore it is very difficult to say anything about serious complications. The data did not clearly show an effect on serious complications—it was not demonstrated by the RCTs.”

In documents obtained under the freedom of information legislation, two of the experts who provided opinions during the EMEA licensing process have also featured in Roche marketing material: Annike Linde and Rene Snacken. In Dr Snacken’s EMEA presentation dated 18 February 2002, he discussed the need for chemoprophylaxis and called for the use of oseltamivir during a pandemic. He made his presentation as a representative of the Belgian Ministry of Public Health. At the time Dr Snacken was also “liaison officer” for the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza. He also played a key role in the Belgian government during its pandemic planning, and he later became a senior expert at the Preparedness and Response Unit, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. We do not know what, if anything, he declared to the EMEA about his relationship with Roche.

Annike Linde has confirmed in an email that she has had connections with Roche over a number of years. She made a presentation to the EMEA on “influenza surveillance” in her capacity as a representative of the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease. Again, it is not clear what, if anything, she declared to the EMEA concerning her previous relationship with Roche.

Dr Linde, now the Swedish state epidemiologist, has told the BMJ/The Bureau that she received payments from Roche International in respect of various pieces of work she did for the company until 2002. She has subsequently given occasional lectures for Roche Sweden. All money she has received from Roche was given, Dr Linde says, to the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control.

We asked the scientists whether they declared their relationship with Roche at the time to the EMEA. Neither has answered that question entirely satisfactorily. Dr Snacken has not replied to repeated emails posing this question. Dr Linde responded by telling the BMJ/The Bureau: “We contribute with our expertise to the regulatory agencies when asked. When we do so, a declaration of interest, where e.g. participation at advisory meetings at Roche, is given and evaluated by the regulatory agency.” The BMJ/The Bureau requested Linde and Snacken’s declaration of interest statements for the 2002 meeting from the EMEA under the freedom of information act. The EMEA was unable to provide statements for those particular people at that time.

Developing the guidelines

In October 2002 WHO convened a meeting of influenza experts at its Geneva headquarters. Their purpose was to develop WHO’s guidelines for the use of vaccines and antivirals during an influenza pandemic.

Included at this meeting were representatives from Roche and Aventis Pasteur and three experts who had lent their name to oseltamivir’s marketing material (Professors Karl Nicholson, Ab Osterhaus, and Fred Hayden).

Two years later the WHO published a key report from that meeting, WHO Guidelines on the Use of Vaccines and Antivirals during Influenza Pandemics 2004. The specific guidance on antivirals, Considerations for the Use of Antivirals During an Influenza Pandemic, was written by Fred Hayden. Professor Hayden has confirmed to the BMJ/The Bureau in an email that he was being paid by Roche for lectures and consultancy work for the company at the time the guidance was produced and published. He also told us in an email that he had received payments from GlaxoSmithKline for consultancy and lecturing until 2002. According to Prof Hayden: “DOI [declaration of interest] forms were filled out for the 2002 consultation.”

The WHO guidance concluded that: “Based on their pandemic response goals and resources, countries should consider developing plans for ensuring the availability of antivirals. Countries that are considering the use of antivirals as part of their pandemic response will need to stockpile in advance, given that current supplies are very limited.” Many countries around the world would adopt this guidance.

The previous year Professor Hayden was also one of the main authors of a Roche sponsored study that claimed what was to become one of oseltamivir’s main selling points—a claimed 60% reduction in hospitalisations from flu, which the Cochrane Collaboration was later unable to verify.8

Our investigation has also identified relevant and declarable interests relating to the two other named authors of annexes to WHO’s 2004 guidelines. Arnold Monto was the author of the annexe dealing with vaccine usage in pandemics. Between 2000 and 2004—and at the time of writing the annexe—Dr Monto has consistently and openly declared honorariums, consultancy fees, and research support from Roche, 10 11 12 consultancy fees and research support from GlaxoSmithKline 10 12 13 14; and also research funding from ViroPharma.15

No conflict of interest statement was included in the annex he wrote for WHO. When asked if he had signed a declaration of interest form for WHO, Dr Monto told the BMJ/The Bureau: ”Conflict of Interest forms are requested before participation in any WHO meeting”.

Professor Karl Nicholson is the author of the third annex, Pandemic Influenza. According to declarations made by Professor Nicholson in the BMJ16andLancet in 2003,17 he had received travel sponsorship and honorariums from GlaxoSmithKline and Roche for consultancy work and speaking at international respiratory and infectious diseases symposiums. Before writing the annexe, he had also been paid and declared ad hoc consultancy fees by Wyeth, Chiron, and Berna Biotech.

Even though the previous year these declarations had been openly made in the Lancet and the BMJ, no conflict of interest statement was included in the annex he wrote for WHO. Professor Nicholson told the BMJ/The Bureau that he last had “financial relations” with Roche in 2001. When asked if he had signed a declaration of interest form for WHO, Prof Nicholson replied: “The WHO doesrequire attendees of meetings, such as those held in 2002 and 2004, to complete declarations of interest.”

Leaving aside the question of what declarations experts made to WHO, one simple fact remains: WHO itself did not publicly disclose any of these conflicts of interest when it published the 2004 guidance. It is not known whether information about these conflicts of interest was relayed privately to governments around the world when they were considering the advice contained in the guidelines.

The year before WHO issued the 2004 guidance, it published a set of rules on how WHO guidelines should be developed and how any conflicts of interest should be handled. This guidance included recommendations that people who had a conflict of interest should not take part in the discussion or the piece of work affected by that interest or, in certain circumstances, that the person with the conflict should not participate in the relevant discussion or work at all. The WHO rules make provision for the director general’s office to allow declarations of interest to be seen if the objectivity of a meeting has been called into question.18

The BMJ/The Bureau has asked WHO for the conflict of interest declarations for the Geneva 2002 meeting and those related to the guidance document itself. WHO told us that the query went directly up to Margaret Chan’s office. “WHO never publishes individual DOIs [declaration of interest], except after consultation with the Office of the Director-General. In this case, we put in a request on your behalf but it was not granted. In more recent years, many WHO committees have published summaries of relevant interests with their meeting reports.”

In a BMJ interview (see film on bmj.com), WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl reiterated the fact that Dr Margaret Chan, “is very committed personally to transparency.” Yet her office has turned down repeated requests for declaration of interest statements and declines to comment on the allegations that authors of the guidelines had declarable interests.

Nevertheless, Prof Hayden told the BMJ/The Bureau: “I strongly support transparency in declarations of interest, in part because this allows those reading documents, particularly ones authored by specific individuals (eg, Annex 5) [the part he wrote], to make their own judgments about the possible relevance of any potential conflicts.”

While experts need to work with industry to develop the best possible drugs for illnesses, questions remain about what level of involvement experts with industry ties should have in the formulation of public health policy decisions and guidelines. Professor Nicholson told the BMJ/The Bureau: “The WHO and decision makers must be informed of ongoing developments and researchfindings to ensure that they are as up to date as possible. Some of the most relevant expertise and information are held by companies or individuals with conflicts of interest. I understand the view that experts with conflicts of interest should not advise governments or organisations such as the WHO. But toexclude such people from discussions could deprive WHO and decisionmakers of important new information.”

But not everyone agrees. Barbara Mintzes is unequivocal about what role they should play. “No one should be on a committee developing guidelines if they have links to companies that either produce a product—vaccine or drug—or a medical device or test for a disease. It would be preferable that there are no financial ties when it comes to making big decisions on public health—for example, stockpiling a drug—and that includes if they have a currently funded clinical trial,” she said.

“Ideally, what you want are independent experts who are in the public sector to provide expertise on drugs and vaccines. But they can be hard to find. One solution is consult with the experts who are involved in industry, but not put them on any decision making committee. You need a firewall,” she added.

Indeed, Professor Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine and chairman of the panel reviewing WHO’s management of the pandemic, takes a similarly hard line. His own institution went through a detailed review of how they interact with industry and experts with conflicts of interests last year.19“Sometimes publication of conflict of interests is enough—for example with a journal. But if you are giving expert judgment to influence policy, revealing is not enough,” he told the BMJ, referring to the Institute of Medicine’s policy.

WHO also says that it takes conflicts of interests seriously and has the mechanisms in place to deal with them. But what action does it take when a scientist declares a conflict of interest, and when does it judge a scientist to be too conflicted to play a leading role in the formulation of global health policy?Since WHO has not provided us with an answer to this question, we are left to guess.

As it stands, this situation is the worst possible outcome for WHO, according to Professor Chris Del Mar, a Cochrane Review author and expert on WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization group. “If it proves to be the case that authors of WHO guidance which promoted the use of certaindrugs were being paid at the same time by the makers of those drugs for other work they were doing for these companies that is reprehensible and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

WHO’s endorsement of oseltamivir was not lost on Roche. In an advert placed by the company for the drug in the main conference programme of the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza’s 2005 conference in Malta, it says: “Antivirals will initially be the principal medical intervention in a pandemicsituation and Roche is working as a responsible partner with governments to assist in their pandemic planning.” The source reference for this is the WHO Global Influenza Preparedness Plan.

Throughout the following years, WHO would appear to have been inconsistent in how it treated conflicts of interest. Updated pandemic plans would continue to be prepared by experts who openly had work funded and acted as consultants to manufacturers of vaccines and antivirals. WHO produced its global influenza preparedness plan in 2005, and in 2006 it constituted an interim Influenza Pandemic Task Force. No public declarations of interest have been made and to date no details have been provided by WHO in response to our requests.

WHO’s stance that it does not publish declarations of interest from its experts is far from consistent. It is undermined, for example, by the position WHO adopts in relation to the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, its standing vaccine advisory body. Here, contrary to its approach to pandemic planning advisers, WHO does publish summaries of declarations of interest.

Emergency Committee

These seeming inconsistencies in WHO’s approach to transparency and its handling of conflicts of interest extend into the workings of the Emergency Committee formed last year to advise the director general on the pandemic. The identities of its 16 members are unknown outside WHO. This secret committee has guided WHO pandemic policy since then—including deciding when to judge that the pandemic is over.

WHO says it has to keep the identities secret to protect the scientists from being influenced or targeted by industry. In a phone call to the BMJ/The Bureau in March, WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl explained: “Our general principle is we want to protect the committee from outside influences.”

The committee advised the WHO director general on phase changes as well as temporary recommendations. According to WHO, When the Emergency Committee met to discuss a possible move to a declaration of a pandemic, the meeting additionally included members who represented Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the UK, and the US, eight countries that experienced widespread outbreaks at the time. These national representatives were present to ensure full consideration of the views and possible reservations of the countries expected to bear the initial brunt of economic and social repercussions.

WHO says all members of the Emergency Committee sign a confidentialityagreement, provide a declaration of interests, and agree to give their consultative time freely, without compensation. However, only one member of the committee has been publicly named: Professor John MacKenzie, who chairs it.

This is a troubling stance: it suggests that WHO considers other advisory groups whose members are not anonymous —such as the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization—to be potentially subject to outside influences, and it allows no scrutiny of the scientists selected to advise WHO and global governments on a major public health emergency.

Under the International Health Regulations framework, the membership of the Emergency Committee is drawn from a roster of about 160 experts covering a range of public health areas. This framework provides guidelines about how WHO deals with acute public health risks. The BMJ/The Bureau has identified approximately 15 scientists from the International Health Regulations roster with influenza expertise and has emailed them to ask if they were on the Emergency Committee. Under the framework at least some of these scientistsare members of the Emergency Committee. Yet because of the confidentialityagreements they have signed, these scientists cannot acknowledge their membership of the committee, putting them in an invidious position.

David Salisbury, chair of WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) committee at the time of the pandemic and a member of the International Health Regulations, says the secrecy has caused problems for his group. “It certainly caused problems for SAGE. Since all of the details of SAGE are in the public domain, there was a perception that it had been SAGE that had given advice about the changing of definitions or the pandemic levels—when we had not done so. SAGE members came in for unfair personal abuse by journalists,” he told the BMJ/The Bureau.

“Given the importance of the advice, the transparency of the source of the advice was important. I believe it is necessary to keep confidential the source of advice if revealing details might put individuals at risk, for example when bioterrorism is being discussed. This does not seem to be the case for pandemic flu,” he added.

The secrecy of the committee is also fuelling conspiracy theories, particularly around the activation of dormant pandemic vaccine contracts. A key question will be whether the pharmaceutical companies, which had invested around $4bn (£2.8bn,  3.3bn) in developing the swine flu vaccine, had supporters inside the emergency committee, who then put pressure on WHO to declare a pandemic. It was the declaring of the pandemic that triggered the contracts.

The BMJ/The Bureau can confirm that Dr Monto, Dr John Wood, and Dr Masato Tashiro are members of the Emergency Committee.

Although Dr Monto did not answer the question directly, his Infectious Disease Society of America biography states that he is a member.20

Last year, according to figures made public in the US by GlaxoSmithKline,Professor Monto received $3000 speakers fees from the company in the period between the second quarter and the last quarter of 2009. As a national official of the Japanese government, Dr Tashiro says that he must “have nothing concerning conflict of interest with private companies”. Dr John Wood works for the UK National Institute for Biological Standards and Control(NIBSC). Dr Wood, like Dr Tashiro, has no personal conflict of interests but he told the BMJ/The Bureau that as part of its statutory role in developing standards for measurement of biological medicines to ensure accurate dosing and carrying out independent control testing to assure their safety and efficacy, the institute must work closely with the pharmaceutical industry. This is made clear on their website.

“The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations has also made publicly available the nature of their close interaction with NIBSC and similar organisations in order to develop influenza vaccines,” he said.21

Those who said that they were not on the committee include David Salisbury, Alan Hampson, Albert Osterhaus, Donato Greco, and Howard Njoo. Maria Zambon, from the UK’s Health Protection Agency told the BMJ: “I undertake various advisory roles to WHO. Declaration of interest statements are prepared before undertaking such roles.

“The HPA Centre for Infection, as part of its role in national infectious disease surveillance, provision of specialist and reference microbiology and vaccine efficacy monitoring, works closely with vaccine manufacturers and biotechnology companies.”

International Health Regulations review

WHO’s own review into the operation of the International Health Regulations and WHO’s handling of the pandemic is now being conducted by Harvey Feinberg, president of the US Institute of Medicine, and will report its findings next year. Dr Chan and Professor Feinberg have both made clear the need for a thorough investigation. But questions are already arising about how independent the review will turn out to be. According to the International Health Regulations list in our possession, some 13 of the 29 members of the review panel are members of the International Health Regulations itself and one is the chair of the Emergency Committee. To critics that might suggest a somewhat incestuous approach.

Professor Mintzes does not agree with WHO’s explanation that secrecy was needed to protect against the influence of outside interest on decision making. “I can’t understand why the WHO kept this secret. It should be public in terms of accountability like the expert advisory committees. If the rationale of secret membership is not to be unduly influenced, there are other ways of dealing with this through strong conflict of interest provisions,” she said.

She also believes that the very nature of allowing a trigger point for vaccine contracts opens the system up unnecessarily to exploitation. “It seems a problem that this declaration might trigger contracts to be realised. There should be safeguards in place to make sure those with an interest in vaccine manufacturers can’t exploit the situation. The WHO will have to look long and hard at this in future,” she said.

The number of victims of H1N1 fell far short of even the more conservative predictions by the WHO. It could, of course, have been far worse.. Planning for the worst while hoping for the best remains a sensible approach. But our investigation has revealed damaging issues. If these are not addressed, H1N1 may yet claim its biggest victim—the credibility of the WHO and the trust in the global public health system.

Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2912

Competing interests: PC declares no competing interests. DC has been paid expenses by WHO for giving talks at two conferences.

 

Deborah Cohen, features editor, BMJ, Philip Carter, journalist, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, London

Notes

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4. European Scientific Working Group on Influenza. About ESWI.www.eswi.org/who-are-we/about-eswi.

5. European Scientific Working Group on Influenza. Revised policy plan 2006-2010.www.eswi.org/userfiles/files/ESWI%20policy%20plan%202006-2010.doc.

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13. Monto AS, Pichichero ME, Blanckenberg SJ, Ruuskanen O, Cooper C, Fleming DM, et al. Zanamivir prophylaxis: an effective strategy for the prevention of influenza types A and B within households. J Infect Dis2002;186:1582-8.[CrossRef][Web of Science][Medline]

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16. Cooper NJ, Sutton AJ, Abrams KR, Wailoo A, Turner D, Nicholson KG. Effectiveness of neuraminidase inhibitors in treatment and prevention of influenza A and B: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials. BMJ2003;326:1235.[Abstract/Free Full Text]

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18. World Health Organization. Guidelines for WHO guidelines. World Health Organization, 2003.

19. National Academies. Policy and procedures on committee composition and balance and conflicts of interest for committees used in the development of reports. www.nationalacademies.org/coi/index.html.

20. Infectious Disease Society of America. Congratulations to the 2009 Society Award Recipients. www.idsociety.org/Content.aspx?id=15497.

21. International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations Influenza Vaccine Supply International Task Force. WHO influenza virus surveillance system and influenza vaccine production. 2008.www.ifpma.org/Influenza/content/pdfs/WHO_IGM/06_2008_WHO_Influenza_Virus_Surveillance_System.pdf.