VIDEO: Entrevista al economista belga Eric Toussaint

April 20th, 2011 by Eric Toussaint

El Presidente del Comité para la anulación de la deuda del Tercer Mundo y doctor en Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad de Lieja y de París VIII, explicó los alcances del desarrollo de la economía latinoaméricana dentro de un contexto favorable a nivel internacional.

El Presidente del Comité para la anulación de la deuda del Tercer Mundo y doctor en Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad de Lieja y de París VIII Eric Toussaint, explicó los alcances del desarrollo de la economía latinoaméricana dentro de un contexto favorable a nivel internacional.

Latinoamérica se ve beneficiada por los altos precios que poseen las materias primas; la exportaciones hacia China y Europa; y las bajas tasas de interés que fijó por decisión propia la Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos y el Banco Central europeo”, explicó Toussaint.

Sin embargo, aclaró que los factores que favorecen a América Latina no dependen de ella. El precio de la materia prima no es decidido en Buenos Aires, sino que se fija en los mercados de valor internacionales. Y las tasas de interés las resuelven los bancos centrales de Estados Unidos y Europa. Es decir, que la coyuntura puede cambiar de manera brutal por decisiones ajenas a América Latina“.

BREAKING NEWS: Radiation Spreads throughout the Northern Hemisphere

April 20th, 2011 by Norwegian Institute for Air Research

Below is the static map based on real time tabulations of the Norwegian Institute of Air Research pertaining to potential releases of radiation from the Fukushima plant.  

For the dynamic version of this map, regional dynamic maps as well as technical information click below.  Japan and North America static maps are indicated below

You will need to refresh the dynamic map  (Global Research, April 20, 2011)

http://transport.nilu.no/browser/fpv_fuku?fpp=conccol_Xe-133_;region=NH

LATEST STATIC MAP APRIL 21, COMPARE WITH PREVIOUS

The animation

The animation

The animation 

Afghan History: The Central Asian Grand Chessboard

April 20th, 2011 by Dean Henderson


Afghan History: Al Qaeda, The Taliban and the Texas Oil Giants
Part II
- by Dean Henderson – 2011-04-14


Afghan History Suppressed: Islamists, Heroin and the CIA
Part I
- by Dean Henderson – 2011-04-10

Part III

 

In 1997 Trilateral Commission founder Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of the Afghan mujahadeen, wrote a book titled, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geopolitical Imperatives.  In the book Brzezinski – who sat on the board at BP Amoco – argues that the key to global power is control of Eurasia and that the “key to controlling Eurasia is controlling the Central Asian Republics”. 

Brzezinski’s plan called for ruling Central Asia via control of Uzbekistan – which borders Afghanistan to the north.  In 1997 Enron attempted to negotiate a $2 billion deal with the Uzbek state-owned Neftegas with help from the Bush White House. [1]  When that effort and other privatization attempts were rebuffed in 1998, CIA-backed Islamist attacks on Uzbekistan’s government were ratcheted up.

In 1999 a series of explosions rocked the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.  Islamic al-Qaeda-trained militants were to blame.  The rebels – who called themselves the Islamic Party of Turkistan – attempted to assassinate socialist President Islam Karimov.  They attacked the fertile Fergana Valley in an attempt to disrupt harvests and the Uzbek food supply.  Karimov was also attacked by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

 

After the “carpet of bombs” began raining down on neighboring Afghanistan in October 2001, Uzbekistan – along with neighbors Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – were coerced into accepting new US military bases.  In 2005 Kyrgyzstan’s nationalist President Askar Akayev was deposed by Islamists in the Tulip Revolution.  Within days Donald Rumsfeld was meeting with the new leaders. [2]  Karimov had seen enough and ordered US troops out of Uzbekistan.

The timing of both Brzezinski’s book and the Bush Jr. Administration “carpet of bombs” threat to the Taliban are instructive since both occurred prior to the 911 attacks, which provided the perfect pretext for the massive Central Asian intervention that Brzezinski, Bush and their City of London bosses were advocating. 

Dr. Johannes Koeppl – former German Defense Ministry official and adviser to NATO Secretary General Manfred Werner – explained of this rash of “coincidences” in November 2001, “The interests behind the Bush Administration, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberger Group, have prepared for and are now implementing open world dictatorship (which will be established) within the next five years.  They are not fighting against terrorists.  They are fighting against citizens.”

Drugistan

Central Asia produces 75% of the world’s opium.  According to the UN, the surge in opium production in the region coincided with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which was “encouraged” by the Reagan Administration and the CIA.  It also coincided with the Four Horsemen’s (Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco, BP Amoco & Royal Dutch/Shell) Caspian Sea oil boom. 

While the US issued humiliating certifications to judge countries on their ability to stop drug traffic, Big Oil produced 90% of the chemicals needed to process cocaine and heroin, which CIA surrogates process and distribute.  CIA chemists were the first to produce heroin.

As Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate Manuel Salgado put it, “This world order which professes the cult of opulence and the growing economic power of illegal drugs, doesn’t allow for any frontal attack aimed at destroying narco-trafficking because that business, which moves $400 billion annually, is far too important for the leading nations of world power to eliminate.  The US…punishes those countries which don’t do enough to fight against drugs, whereas their CIA boys have built paradises of corruption throughout the world with the drug profits.”[3]

The Afghan “paradise of corruption” yielded 4,600 metric tons of opium in 1998.  In 1999 the Taliban announced a crack down on opium production in Afghanistan.  The move angered the CIA, the Afghan aristocracy and their Turkish Gray Wolves allies, whose smuggling routes mirror those of the Four Horsemen’s Caspian Sea oil pipeline recently opened for business through Turkey.

When the Taliban cracked down on opium production, poppy fields bloomed to the north where CIA/ISI-sponsored Islamists were fighting in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Armenia and Azerbaijan.  Asia Times writer Pepe Escobar termed the entire region “Drugistan”. [4]

Pakistani writer Ahmed Rashid says the Saudis- fulfilling their usual “paymaster” role – funded the northward shift in poppy production. [5]  It was part of a larger operation run by Western intelligence agencies to encircle Russia, seize oilfields and destabilize the entire Central Asia region using Islamic fundamentalists and heroin proceeds.     

In 1991 Air America/Iran-Contra super spook Richard Secord showed up in Baku, Azerbaijan under the cover of MEGA Oil. [6]  Secord did military training, sold Israeli arms, passed “brown bags filled with cash” and shipped in over 2,000 Islamist fighters from Afghanistan with help from CIA-favorite Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. 

Afghan heroin began flooding into Baku.  Russian economist Alexandre Datskevitch said of 184 heroin labs that police discovered in Moscow in 1991, “Every one of them was run by Azeris, who use the proceeds to buy arms for Azerbaijan’s war against Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh”. [7]

A Turkish intelligence source claims that Exxon and Mobil (now Exxon Mobil) were behind the 1993 coup against elected Armenian President Abulfaz Elchibey.  Secord’s Islamists helped.  Osama bin Laden set up an NGO in Baku as a base for attacking the Russians in Chechnya and Dagestan. 

A more pliant President Heidar Aliyev was installed in Armenia.  In 1996, at the behest of Amoco’s (now BP) president, he was invited to the White House to meet President Clinton – whose National Security Advisor Sandy Berger held $90,000 worth of Amoco stock. [8]

Not content with the Polish Solidarist-led grab of Eastern Europe and the partitioning of oil-rich Soviet Central Asian republics, the CFR/Bilderberger crowd now used mujahadeen surrogates in Chechnya to further squeeze Russia. 

In 1994 35,000 Chechen fighters were trained at Amir Muawia camp in Afghanistan’s Khost Province.  Osama bin Laden built the camp for the CIA.  Now-deceased Chechen commander Shamil Basayev graduated from Amir Muawia and was sent to advanced guerrilla tactics camp at Markazi-i-Dawar, Pakistan.  There he met with Pakistani ISI officials. [9]  ISI has historically excelled at carrying out the CIA’s dirty laundry.

The Chechen Islamists took over a big chunk of the Golden Crescent heroin trade, working with Chechen crime families affiliated with the Russian Alfa Group that did business with Halliburton.  They also had ties to the Albanian heroin labs being run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).  A Russian FSB report stated that the Chechens began buying real estate in Kosovo in 1997, just prior to the US-led partition of Kosovo from Yugoslavia. 

Saudi-born Chechen commander Emir al-Khattab set up guerrilla camps to train KLA Albanian rebels.  The camps were funded by the heroin trade, prostitution rings and counterfeiting.  Recruits were invited by Basayev and funded by the House of Saud’s Muslim Brotherhood Islamic Relief Organization. [10]

In February 2002 sent 200 military advisers and attack helicopters to Georgia to “root our terrorism”.  On September 20, 2002, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stated that the al Qaeda-trained Chechen rebels targeting his country were being given safe-haven by the government of Georgia.  The Four Horsemen’s strategic Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline was set to open through the Georgian capital Tblisi.  The US deployment was a smokescreen for pipeline protection. 

In October 2003 Georgian President Eduard Schevardnadze was forced to step down despite the fact that he had been elected to serve until 2005.  IMF darling Mikheil Saakashvili was installed to complete the banker coup which was dubbed the Rose Revolution.  According to The Guardian, Rose Revolution funders included the U.S. State Department, USAID, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, International Republican Institute, Bilderberg Group, the NGO Freedom House, George Soros’s Open Society Institute and National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

When Gulbuddin Hekmatyar ceded Kabul to the Taliban in 1995, Taliban training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan were taken over by Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) who, with help from Saudi Wahhabist clerics, recruited and trained Islamic fundamentalist volunteers to fight wars of destabilization throughout the Balkans and Central Asia. 

Financed by Golden Crescent heroin, these terrorists shipped out to fight with Chechen rebels, the Kosovo Liberation Army, the Bosnian Muslim Army, the National Liberation Army (Albanian separatists fighting the government of Macedonia) and Chinese East Turkistan Uighur rebels fighting against Beijing.

Out of these same camps came Lakshar e-Taiba and Jamiash-i-Mohammed, who in December 2001 attacked India’s Parliament in New Delhi, killing fourteen legislators and provoking the Indians into a massive military deployment along the Pakistani border.

In the early 1990’s the CIA had helped Afghan mujahadeen veterans get passports to immigrate to the US.  The Al-Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn, where many Afghans landed, turned into a CIA recruiting base for wars in Yugoslavia and Central Asia. 

Among those who frequented the center were El Sayyid Nosair, who assassinated far-right Israeli Rabbi Meir Kahane; and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a fundamentalist Egyptian cleric linked to the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.  The CIA brought the sheik to Brooklyn as a recruiting tool. [11]  His son was killed in December 2001 – a key al Qaeda leader fighting the US in Afghanistan. 

The CIA arranged for Egyptian al Qaeda leaders to flea to Albania in 1997, where they helped train and fight with the Kosovo Liberation Army.  Bin Laden’s #2 man Ayman al-Zawahiri heads Egyptian Islamic Jihad.  Al-Zawahiri’s sidekick Ali Mohammed came to the US in 1984.  He trained terrorists in Brooklyn and Jersey City on weekends.  His regular job was to instruct US Special Forces at Fort Bragg.  In 1998 he helped bomb the US Embassies in Africa. [12]

According to British MP Michael Meacher, in an article for The Guardian, M16 recruited up to 200 British Muslims to fight in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.  Meacher says a Dehli-based foundation describes Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man who beheaded US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, as a British agent.  He says it was Sheikh who – at the behest of ISI General Mahmood Ahmed – wired $100,000 to Mohammed Atta just prior to 911, a fact confirmed by Dennis Lomel, director of FBI’s financial crimes unit. [13]

Restoring Petromonarchy

According to Mossad intelligence reports, as of July 1, 2001, 120,000 metric tons of opium was warehoused in Afghanistan awaiting shipment.  Two months later the US was bombing Afghanistan.  Opium shipments resumed. 

The US paid several Afghan warlords $200,000 each and gave them satellite phones to lead a surrogate army Northern Alliance-led ground assault on the Taliban.  Over $7 million was spent buying off these opium-trafficking warlords, including Uzbek butcher Rashid Dostum. [14]

Amnesty International and UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson called for an investigation of an incident at Mazar-i-Sharif where Dostum oversaw the surrender of hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, who were then massacred in a bombing raid by US aircraft during in an alleged prison uprising.  The “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh was among the few survivors. 

The prisoners had come from Konduz where, according to investigative journalist Seymour Hirsch of The New Yorker, the White House had ordered US Special Forces to create an evacuation corridor whereby Pakistani military aircraft were allowed to fly no less than 2,500 al Qaeda and Taliban fighters – along with their ISI advisers and at least two Pakistani generals – to safety in Pakistan.

While the Bush Administration used an alleged al Qaeda/Saddam Hussein alliance as a pretext to turn its guns towards oil-rich Iraq, al Qaeda and Taliban leadership remained unharmed in Pakistan. 

In Afghanistan US envoy and former Unocal executive Zalmay Khalilzad was busy paving the way for the construction of the Unocal-led Centgas pipeline.  Later Khalilzad became US Ambassador to Iraq.  US Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain huddled with Pakistan Oil Minister Usman Aminuddin and the Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan to plan the pipeline, which would run next to Khandahar – home of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. 

Omar favored the Centgas consortium and remains mysteriously at large.  Northern Alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani- who had been Afghan Prime Minster until he was deposed by Hekmatyar and the Taliban in 1996 – was quietly dealt out of the new Kabul government, ostensibly for favoring the Argentine-led Bridas pipeline consortium. [15] 

The World Bank and IMF set up shop in Kabul after a twenty-five year hiatus.  Halliburton’s Brown & Root subsidiary and other post-war “reconstruction specialists” lined up for contracts.  On December 27, 2002 Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a deal paving the way for the Centgas pipeline.

The US-handpicked Afghan Prime Minister Hamid Karzai emerged after the assassination of contender Abdul Haq, who walked into a trap inside Afghanistan while supposedly under CIA protection.  Haq’s handler was Robert “Bud” McFarlane, Reagan’s National Security Advisor who now runs a K Street oil consulting firm.  Haq had no ties to the oil industry and was considered by the CIA to be too cozy with Iran and Russia.  Rabbani’s Northern Alliance military commander Sheik Massoud was mysteriously assassinated just two days before 911.

According to Iranian, Afghan and Turkish government sources, Hamid Karzai was a top adviser to Unocal during their negotiations with the Taliban.  He was also a CIA contact during the Company’s decade-long Afghan War.  Bill Casey made sure Karzai’s family was moved safely to the US after anarchy took over in Kabul. [16] 

Karzai is close to King Zaher Shah, who returned to Afghanistan from exile to convene the royalist loya jerga in July 2002.  When all other presidential candidates mysteriously dropped out of the race just 24 hours before the election, Karzai got the nod as head of state.  His people then shut down debate at the conference, stonewalled on the formation of parliament and refused to appoint a cabinet.  Karzai secret police roamed the grounds of the conference looking for dissenters to jail.  According to tribal representative Hassan Kakar, delegates disagreeing with Karzai were not even allowed to speak. [17]

The Karzai government represents a return of the Afghan monarchy, compliant as ever to international banker interests in the region.  In 2005 Chevron Texaco bought Unocal, cementing Four Horsemen control over the trans-Afghan Centgas pipeline.

Notes
 

[1] “Central Asia Unveiled”. Mike Edwards. National Geographic. 2-02

[2] Reaping the Whirlwind: The Taliban Movement in Afghanistan. Michael Griffin. Pluto Press. London. 2001. p.124

[3] “The Geostrategy of Plan Columbia”. Manuel Salgado Tamayo. Covert Action Quarterly. Winter 2001. p.37

[4] “The Roving Eye: Pipelineistan, Part I: The Rules of the Game”. Pepe Escobar. Asia Times Online. 1-25-02

[5] Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. Ahmed Rashid. Yale University Publishing. New Haven, CT. 2001. p.145

[6] Azerbaijan Diary: A Rogue Reporter’s Adventures in a Oil-Rich, War-Torn, Post- Soviet Republic. Thomas Goltz. M.E. Sharpe. Armonk, NY. 1999. p.272

[7] “al-Qaeda, US Oil Companies and Central Asia”. Peter Dale Scott. Nexus. May-June, 2006. p.11-15

[8] See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism. Robert Baer. Crown. New York. 2002. p.243-244

[9] “Who is Osama bin Laden?” Michel Chossudovsky. www.copvcia.com 12-17-01

[10] Ibid

[11] “The Road to September 11”. Evan Thomas. Newsweek. 10-1-01. p.41

[12] “Bin Laden’s Invisible Network”. Evan Thomas. Newsweek. 10-29-01. p.42

[13] The Asian News. 9-30-05. www.theasiannews.co.uk

[14] “US Paid Off Warlords”. Andrew Bushnell. Washington Times. 2-7-02

[15] Michel Chossudovsky. www.globalresearch.ca 1-23-02

[16] Ibid

[17] “Evening Edition”. National Public Radio. 6-17-02

Dean Henderson writes a weekly column called Left Hook.  He is the author of Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network and The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries.  His blog is at www.deanhenderson.wordpress.com

Bankruptcy in America

April 20th, 2011 by Bob Chapman

Many banks are insolvent, yet are allowed to stay in business. Being allowed to keep two sets of books is obscuring their real estate loan problems. This is the shadow inventory you sometimes hear about. Those millions of homes “that exist, but they don’t.” They presently admit to owning some 1 million homes they cannot sell, which is almost 25% higher than last year. If you put everything together you could be looking at an 8-year supply. Making matters worse lenders are holding homes on the books at values 40% higher than what they are worth. This is very similar to what is going on in Spain presently. We’ll say this one more time. Most major banks and some middle tier and small institutions are broke and you are being lied to regarding their condition.

           
Distressed home sales make up about 50% of all sales and they are sold at rock bottom prices, which drives down the value of all homes. This condition could last another ten years. In California and Nevada such sales are some 70% of sales. This inventory will continue to suppress prices for some time to come, so do not even think about buying a home. Those lower foreclosure figures are a mirage caused by legal action against lenders. Those foreclosure numbers will grow higher soon, because these criminals are cutting a deal to pay fines, so no one goes to jail. Only in America. That foreclosure activity could come back slowly due to major changes in the industry.

As foreclosures pick up following a deal with the government the shadow inventory will build, banks will sell more homes, prices will fall further, losses to the banks will grow and the banks inadequate loan loss reserves will become evident. Then there are the ongoing lawsuits against the banks and their creation known as MERS, which has no further legal standing. We could see millions of mortgages being cancelled that is unless the crooks in Congress pass a forgiveness bill to relieve the banks of their fraud. The bottom line is many more banks are going under and some will be major banks.

           
As we predicted in June of 2005 that the housing market would crash we also predicted a 10 to 40 year fall and consolidation in housing. Most people can reflect on these past six years, but cannot perceive the future for housing. Market activity has fallen by almost 1/3rd, as housing prices fell ever lower. Although we do not see an increase in official interest rates we can easily see mortgages at 5-5/8% by the end of the year and 6-1/2% at the end of 2012. Lenders are going to have to demand 10% to 20% down. That will not only further decrease sales volume, but it will further depress prices. These rates may seem high, but inflation will be between 14% and 30% over that 1-1/2 to 2 year span.

           
Since 2006 house prices are down 32% and over the next year they will probably fall close to 40% from their highs. The Fed may have temporarily saved banking and Wall Street, but little has been done to solve the unemployment problem. If you have no job you cannot buy a house, not with real unemployment at 22%. As a result new home sales fell 28% in February, as their inventories rose to 8.9-month’s sales. Our question is with such a tremendous home inventory overhang, why are builders building more homes, some 550,000 a year. They have to be dumber than rocks. Existing houses for sale rise every day plus there are more than a million in the foreclosure crisis. House prices still have to hit bottom and that is probably 30% lower and probably 3 years away. It is hard to get real estate going with unemployment at 20% and forced part-time employment at 10 million workers. Deceptive government statistics can only hold back reality for so long. People are finally seeing the truth of what unemployment and under-employment really are. Labor deterioration is accompanied by gas and food inflation. People at work paying steeply higher prices are in no position to buy a home. Feeding the family comes first. As a result of forced Fed policies we also have a falling dollar that increases prices for imported goods.

If all this wasn’t bad enough municipalities and states are in serious financial trouble.        

Their working force makes up 15% of overall employment and 70% of costs. That means to cut costs you lay people off first. That increases unemployment and disqualifies future homebuyers and puts more underwater homes into foreclosure, which compounds lenders’ losses. Do not underestimate these layoffs, because they will have a strong negative affect on the overall economy. This year was really the beginning of these municipal and state layoffs. Looming in the shadows is the possibility of hundreds of municipal bankruptcies; 35 states are in the same position with no end in sight. Very few people really understand how serious the overall situation really is. These events take a terrible toll on consumer confidence. These were supposed to be lifetime jobs. What happens when pension checks stop due to bankruptcy? That has to slow the economy. 90% of state and local costs are for education. That means more layoffs and doubling class sizes to 40 children. Children are learning very little in school and their success is held down by the quality of students. It will be pandemonium with giant class sizes and many of the best teachers will resign.

           
The government supplies 35% of wages. Food stamps are helping to feed 44 million Americans. Government wants to cut Social Security, which people have paid into, but is erroneously allowing thousands in under disability. Medicare is a shamble, and Medicare is worse. In spite of the current problems 75% of Americans do not support cuts to Medicare and Social Security. In spite of that, if Wall Street and banking want less benefits, that is what Americans will get. America is accelerating to a welfare state.

           
Corporate America is in a dilemma. They are facing higher costs for petroleum products and food. This affects profits, if not passed on, business will eventually have to pass these costs on. In that environment there can be little hiring and little if any job growth. If they hold back price increases when increases do come they’ll be very large.

Each day statements from the Fed get more bizarre. One of the latest ones is the Fed has to be accommodative because the central bank remains blow its targets for inflation and employment. Inflation is somewhat high and employment is dreadful.

“Dear Mary,” wrote Italian justice activist Vittorio Arrigoni to a friend. “Do you (know who) will be on the boats?… I’m still in Gaza, waiting for you. I will be at the boat to greet you. Stay human. Vik.”

“Mary” is Mary Hughes Thompson, a dedicated activist who braved the high seas to break the Israeli siege on Gaza in 2008.

Vittorio Arrigoni, or Vik, was reportedly murdered by a fundamentalist group in Gaza, a few hours after he was kidnapped on Thursday, April 14. The killing was supposedly in retaliation for Hamas’ crackdown on this group’s members. All who knew Vik will attest to the fact that he was an extraordinary person, a model of compassion, solidarity and humanity.

Arrigoni’s body was discovered in an abandoned house hours after he was kidnapped. His murderers didn’t honor their own deadline of thirty hours. The group, known as the Tawhid and Jihad, is one of the fringe groups known in Gaza as the Salafis. They resurface under different names and manifestations, for specific – and often bloody – purposes.

“The killing prompted grief in Gaza, but also despair,” read an op-ed in the UK Independent on April 16. “Not only was Arrigoni well known and well liked there, but it escaped no one that this kidnapping was the first since that of the BBC journalist Alan Johnson in 2007.”

However, Johnson’s kidnappers, the so-called Army of Islam (a small group of fanatics affiliated with a large Gaza clan) held their hostage for 114 days. There was plenty of time to organize and pressure the criminals to release him. In Arrigoni’s case, merely few hours stood between the release of a horrifying video showing a blindfolded and bruised activist, and the finding of his motionless body. The forensic report said that he was strangled. His friends said that he was tortured.

Vittorio Arrigoni’s murder was an opportunity for Israel’s supporters. Most notorious amongst them was Daniel Pipes. He wrote, in a brief entry in the National Review Online: “Note the pattern of Palestinians who murder the groupies and apologists who join them to aid in their dream of eliminating Israel.” Pipes named three individuals, including the Palestinian-Israeli filmmaker, Juliano Mer-Khamis, and Arrigoni himself, and then proceeded to invite readers to “send in further examples that I may have missed.”

Pipes’ list, however, will have no space for such names as Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall and James Miller, for these individuals were all murdered by Israeli forces. Pipes will also fail to mention the nine Turkish activists murdered aboard the Mavi Marmara ship on its way to break the siege on Gaza in May 2010, and the nine activists abroad Irene (the Jewish Boat to Gaza) who were intercepted, kidnapped and humiliated by Israeli troops before being deported outside the country in September 2010.  82-year-old Reuben Moscowitz, a Holocaust survivor, was one of the activists aboard the Irene, as was Lillian Rosengarten, an American “who fled the Nazis as a child in Frankfurt,” according to a New York Times blog.

The people Pipes failed to mention truly represent a rainbow of humanity. Men and women of all ages, races and nationalities have stood and will continue to stand on the side of the Palestinians.

But this story is selectively ignored of pseudo-intellectuals, intent on dismissing humanity to uphold Israel. They refuse to see the patterns in front of them, as they are too busy concocting their own.

Writing in UK Guardian from Rome, on April 15, John Hooper said, “Arrigoni’s life was anything but safe. In September 2008 he was injured (by Israeli troops) accompanying Palestinian fishermen at sea. Two years ago he received a death threat from a US far-right website that provided any would-be killers with a photo and details of distinguishing physical traits, such as a tattoo on his shoulder.”

The group that murdered Arrigoni, like others of its kind, existed for one specific, violent episode before disappearing altogether. The mission in this case was to kill an International Solidarity Movement activist who dedicated years of his life to Palestine. Shortly before he was kidnapped, he wrote in this website of the “criminal” Israeli siege on Gaza. He also mourned the four impoverished Palestinians who died in a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt boarder while hauling food and other goods.

Before his murder, Arrigoni was anticipating the arrival of another flotilla – carrying activists from 25 countries boarding 15 ships – that is scheduled to sail to Gaza in May. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adamantly called on EU countries to prevent their nationals from jointing the boats. “I think it’s in your and our common interest…that this flotilla must be stopped,” he told European representatives in Jerusalem, according to an AFP report, April 11.

Israeli officials are angry at the internationals who are ‘de-legitimizing’ the state of Israel by standing in solidarity with the Palestinians. Arrigoni has done so much to harm the carefully fabricated image of Israel as an island of democracy and progress. Along with other activists, he has shattered this myth through simple means of communication.

Vik signed his messages with “Stay human”. His book, detailing his experiences in Gaza, was entitled Restiamo Umani (Let Us Remain Human). Mary Hughes Thompson shared with me some the emails Arrigoni sent her. “I can hardly bear to read them again,” she wrote. This is an extract from one of them:

“No matter how (we) will finish the mission…it will be a victory. For human rights, for freedom. If the siege will not (be) physically broken, it will break the siege of the indifference, the abandonment. And you know very well what this gesture is important for the people of Gaza. That said, obviously we are waiting at the port! With hundreds of Palestinians and ISM comrades we will come to meet you sailing, as was the first time, remember? All available boats will sail to Gaza to greet you. Sorry for my bad English…big hug…Stay Human. Yours, Vik”

Vik’s killers failed to see his humanity. But many of us will always remember, and we will continue trying to “stay human”.

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.

RAF Tornados have carried out “deliberate, multiple strikes” aimed at robbing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of command and control over his forces as Nato on Tuesday stepped up bombing raids over Libya
By Bruno Waterfield

Brussels: Brigadier-General Mark van Uhm, Nato’s chief of allied operations, also said that Alliance combat aircraft had destroyed significant numbers of tanks, armoured vehicles and rocket launchers besieging the Libyan city of Misurata on Monday night.

“We have been watching the situation in Misurata, and over the past 10 days fighting has been intense,” he said.

“Our forces have conducted numerous strikes in and around Misurata, and we have destroyed over 40 tanks and several armoured fighting vehicles there.”

Nato officials have signalled a new phase in operations, under Alliance control for three weeks, with major attacks on Tuesday by the RAF on communications infrastructure and the headquarters of Gaddafi’s elite 32nd Brigade located six miles south of Tripoli.

The 32nd Brigade, commanded by Col. Gaddafi’s son Khamis, has led and commanded military actions against the Libyan rebels.

“What we are doing is attacking the regime’s ability to supply and sustain these attacks not just in the area of Misurata but across the country,” said Gen. van Uhm.

Alliance sources said the number of Nato strike sorties ending with the use of missiles or bombs without being aborted has doubled over the last two weeks.

“Whenever Gaddafi tries to advance we destroy his supply lines and he has to fall back,” said the official. “We suspect he has had to force his troops to advance and we are whacking them. Now we’re taking out his communications. “

France has provided extra fighters to overcome a shortage of Nato combat planes and was moving its Charles De Gaulle aircraft near to Misurata to provide “faster rotations and targeting”, said a source.

L

Radioactive Fish in the USA?

April 19th, 2011 by Washington's Blog

The FDA says it won’t monitor radiation in fish on the West Coast of the U.S. As the Anchorage Daily News notes:

North Pacific fish are so unlikely to be contaminated by radioactive material from the crippled nuclear plant in Japan that there’s no reason to test them, state and federal officials said this week.

***

DeLancey, the FDA spokeswoman, said “We have not been doing any testing. We’ve been working with NOAA to keep an eye on U.S. waters, to see if there is any cause for alarm, and we do have the capability to begin testing if that does occur.”

Asked to explain what kind of monitoring was taking place in the ocean, DeLancey said, “You would have to talk directly to NOAA … I don’t really want to speak for another agency.”

But NOAA fisheries spokeswoman Kate Naughton declined to answer questions and referred a reporter back to DeLancey and the EPA.

DeLancey said that so far, there’s no reason for concern about Fukushima. The radioactive materials in the water near Fukushima quickly become diluted in the massive volume of the Pacific, she said. Additionally, radioactive fallout that lands on the surface tends to stay there, giving the most unstable ones isotopes like iodine time to decay before reaching fish, she said.

Of course, radioactive isotopes like cesium 137 are very long-lived, and so won’t necessarily decay before they reach fish.

And – in typical Orwellian agency-speak – the FDA is trying to reassure people that eating contaminated fish poses no health risk. As the Wall Street Journal notes:

U.S. public-health officials sought Tuesday to reassure consumers about the safety of food in the U.S., including seafood, amid news that fish contaminated with unusually high levels of radioactive materials had been caught in waters 50 miles from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

No contaminated fish have turned up in the U.S., or in U.S. waters, according to experts from the Food and Drug Administration [which isn't testing], Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They expressed confidence that even a single fish sufficiently contaminated to pose a risk to human health would be detected by the U.S. monitoring system. [But would the government announce such detection?]

They also dismissed concerns that eating fish contaminated at the levels seen so far in Japan would pose such a risk. [Alexander Higgins points out that Japanese fish exceed federal radiation limits by 2400%]

Thomas Frieden, head of the CDC in Atlanta, said he expected continued detection of low levels of radioactive elements in the water, air and food in the U.S. in coming days, but that readings at those levels “do not indicate any level of public health concern.”

Is this yet another example of the government responding to the nuclear accident by trying to raise acceptable radiation levels and pretending that radiation is good for us?

Indeed, the ocean currents head from Japan to the West Coast of the U.S.

As AP notes:

The floating debris will likely be carried by currents off of Japan toward Washington, Oregon and California before turning toward Hawaii and back again toward Asia, circulating in what is known as the North Pacific gyre, said Curt Ebbesmeyer, a Seattle oceanographer who has spent decades tracking flotsam.

***
“All this debris will find a way to reach the West coast or stop in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a swirling mass of concentrated marine litter in the Pacific Ocean, said Luca Centurioni, a researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Here is what the North Pacific Gyre looks like:

File:North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone.jpg

NPR reports:

CNN said that “the Hawaiian islands may get a new and unwelcome addition in coming months — a giant new island of debris floating in from Japan.” It relied in part on work done by the University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Center, which predicts that:

“In three years, the [debris] plume will reach the U.S. West Coast, dumping debris on Californian beaches and the beaches of British Columbia, Alaska, and Baja California. The debris will then drift into the famous North Pacific Garbage Patch, where it will wander around and break into smaller and smaller pieces. In five years, Hawaii shores can expect to see another barrage of debris that is stronger and longer lastingthan the first one. Much of the debris leaving the North Pacific Garbage Patch ends up on Hawaii’s reefs and beaches.”

The research center has an animated graphic showing the debris field’s likely route posted online here. And it has images of how the debris field will circulate, from this month (in upper left corner) to March 2016 (lower right).

The projected path of the debris field, from March of this year (in upper left), through March 2016 (lower right). That's the Pacific Ocean, with Japan to the left and the west coast of the U.S. to the right. Hawaii is the small chain of islands in the center.
Enlarge University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Center

The projected path of the debris field, from March of this year (in upper left), through March 2016 (lower right). That’s the Pacific Ocean, with Japan to the left and the west coast of the U.S. to the right. Hawaii is the small chain of islands in the center.

The projected path of the debris field, from March of this year (in upper left), through March 2016 (lower right). That's the Pacific Ocean, with Japan to the left and the west coast of the U.S. to the right. Hawaii is the small chain of islands in the center.
University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Center

The projected path of the debris field, from March of this year (in upper left), through March 2016 (lower right). That’s the Pacific Ocean, with Japan to the left and the west coast of the U.S. to the right. Hawaii is the small chain of islands in the center.

Indeed, CNN notes:

The debris mass, which appears as an island from the air, contains cars, trucks, tractors, boats and entire houses floating in the current heading toward the U.S. and Canada, according to ABC News.

The bulk of the debris will likely not be radioactive, as it was presumably washed out to sea during the initial tsunami – before much radioactivity had leaked. But this shows the power of the currents from Japan to the West Coast.

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen doesn’t think there will be a risk within the next year. But as the plume spreads across the Pacific, and as small fish get eaten by bigger fish (i.e. bioaccumulation), it would be prudent to measure radiation in fish caught off the West Coast of the U.S. (and Hawaii), and Gundersen suggests we contact our representatives and demand measurement:

Gundersen Discusses Current Condition of Reactors, TEPCO Claim of “No Fission” in Fuel Pool, and Lack of Radiation Monitoring in from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.

Humanitarian Intervention Again

April 19th, 2011 by James Bissett

Once again, as in the bombing of Serbia twelve years ago, our air force is bombing a country presenting no threat to the safety or security of Canada. In fact, we are at war. There has been no declaration of war. There has been no serious attempt to intervene peacefully to help resolve the conflict. There has been no debate in our Parliament. There was no suggestion of sending a mission to Libya to assess the situation on the ground.

More seriously, there has been no rational explanation of what the bombing is designed to do and little idea of who it is we are fighting for. 

The United Nations Security Council has authorized a no-fly zone to be enforced over Libyan skies but it is not clear what exactly this means. In the meantime some Western nations – including Canada – have interpreted it to mean they are authorized to attack and destroy Qaddafi’s forces fighting against an armed rebellion to overthrow the dictator. Other countries do not agree. Among them are: Germany, Russia, China, India, Brazil and, more importantly, the Arab League.

Some have argued the aim is to prevent the Libyan despot, Muammar Quaddafi, from slaughtering thousands of his people, but there has been no evidence that this was his intention before the bombing took place.

President Sarkozy of France has made it clear the intervention is to change the regime and replace Quaddafi. France has already recognized the rebels in Benghazi as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people. This extraordinary step seems to rule out any possibility of negotiating with Qaddafi for a peaceful solution to the armed struggle. It also implies what amounts to a demand for his unconditional surrender – a demand that almost always leaves your opponent no choice but to fight to the bitter end.

As for the United States we are not sure what President Obama has in mind. Initially, he was hesitant to lead his country into yet another war against a Muslim nation. However, a hyped –up media and a number of his close advisors urged him to intervene militarily. Having done so, he was anxious to at least pretend that the lead in the continuing conflict would be taken by others, and the “others” now seem to have been designated as some of the NATIO countries – minus Germany and Turkey.

The waves of unrest and upheavals in the Arab world have created great hope but at the same time potential danger. Who or what might replace the deposed despots is not known,  One thing seems clear, none of the Muslim countries involved is ready for, or even desires to have, western style democracy.

 For the most part their values are not western values and lurking in the background is the menacing threat of religious extremism. This may be especially true in Libya, which has produced a high proportion of suicide bombers and mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As a general rule it is wise not to take sides in a civil war unless our own vital interests are at stake. What is taking place in Libya today is a civil war and we find ourselves playing the role of air force for the rebels. Unfortunately, we really have no idea of who they are or what they represent. Moreover, we do not know where the conflict will lead, how long it might last or the broader implications for the region after the fighting ends.

All of this fiasco has turned out to be a colossal mess and is unlikely to end well. This is not unusual when the excuse for intervention is based primarily on so-called humanitarian reasons.

Military intervention for humanitarian reasons is not a new phenomenon. We recall that Hitler justified his invasion of Czechoslovakia on the grounds that the ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland were being mistreated and abused by their fellow Czechoslovaks.

The concept has, however, found renewed popularity following the failure to prevent the Rwanda genocide. It gained momentum during the civil war in Bosnia and later in Kosovo, when charges of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity were levelled against the Serbs. The NATO intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo – despite strong evidence to the contrary – continues to be hailed as highly successful operations.

The Balkan experience led directly to the new doctrine of the “responsibility to protect” or R2P – the right to intervene in a sovereign state to protect populations there who are at risk. R2P has become the new term for humanitarian intervention and has laid out the conditions to be met for such intervention.

The key provision is that if a state is failing to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measure are not working, the international community has the responsibility to intervene at first diplomatically, and then more coercively,  and at last resort, with  military force.

The United Nations Charter does not permit the use of military force for humanitarian intervention. However, in 2005 the General Assembly did adopt the principle of R2P, provided that the parties to the dispute “first of all seek, a solution through negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.”

If such peaceful means have been tried but have failed then and only then can the United Nations Security Council authorize the use of force. Clearly none of these peaceful methods were tried before the decision was taken to bomb Quaddafi’s forces.

R2P has many loyal advocates both in Canada and the United States. In Canada, our former foreign minister, Lloyd Axworthy, and retired General Romeo Dallaire are leading proponents of the doctrine.  In the United States, one of the foremost advocates is Samantha Powers, author, foreign policy analyst, and now member of the US National Security Council.

Samantha Powers was appointed to the Council by President Obama and is said to have strongly influenced the President to intervene in Libya. In 2002, before her appointment to the National Security Council, she pushed hard during the second Intafada for US military intervention against Israel with the aim of establishing and protecting a Palestinian state.

She exemplifies the potential dangers of having a doctrine that invites the violation of national sovereignty on the basis of alleged human rights abuse. For human rights proponents like her there are few conflict situations that do not deserve military intervention. The concept of “do no harm” becomes irrelevant.

It is fortunate that R2P is not a mandatory obligation for the international community. It provides a framework for intervention and guidelines to be followed but it remains the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council to authorize military intervention in a sovereign state. The veto power remains a last resort to prevent the violation of sovereignty for whatever reason.

There is great danger in assuming that the western democratic nations can exercise wise judgment about when they should intervene in a conflict taking place in developing countries. There is even more danger in assuming that the intervention is motivated by real humanitarian concerns and not for selfish political or foreign policy objectives as was clearly the case in Bosnia and Kosovo.

The R2P concept is too easily high jacked by leaders who see an opportunity to gain political mileage at home by playing the role of protecting the rights of suffering victims in far away places. If the country to be punished is headed by a dictator and is not too powerful to take on, then the risk is worth taking.

If the intervention can be in concert with other allied nations so much the better. For Canada, acting as part of NATO becomes particularly important as it was in the bombing of Serbia, and is now in the case of Libya. Quite apart from the  substance of the issues involved Canada feels it must go along with our NATO partners whether the military action is justified or not. Our political leaders do not need to consult Parliament because NATO has decided the matter for us.

This is not a satisfactory situation for a democratic country. Other NATO member countries do not always feel obliged to follow the NATO lead if they do not agree with a military solution to the problem. Greece refused to take part in the bombing of Serbia in 1999 and Germany has refused to join its NATO partners in the Libya intervention.

Going to war is a serious business and it should be only done with the full agreement of the Parliament of Canada after a vote in the House of Commons. It is well to remember that at the outbreak of the Second World War it was only after debate in the House of Commons and a vote that Canada declared war on Germany.

Decisions about war and peace that affect the safety and security of our armed services and citizenry are the paramount expression of a nation’s sovereignty. Canada should not abdicate that responsibility in any circumstances.                         

James Bissett is a former Canadian diplomat. He was Canada’s High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago and Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia.

BP’s Secret Deepwater Blowout

April 19th, 2011 by Greg Palast

Greg Palast investigating BP’s blowout in the Caspian, Baku, Azerbaijan 2010. (Courtesy of Greg Palast)

Only 17 months before BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig suffered a deadly blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP deepwater oil platform also blew out.

You’ve heard and seen much about the Gulf disaster that killed 11 BP workers. If you have not heard about the earlier blowout, it’s because BP has kept the full story under wraps. Nor did BP inform Congress or US safety regulators, and BP, along with its oil industry partners, have preferred to keep it that way.

The earlier blowout occurred in September 2008 on BP’s Central Azeri platform in the Caspian Sea.

As one memo marked “secret” puts it, “Given the explosive potential, BP was quite fortunate to have been able to evacuate everyone safely and to prevent any gas ignition.” The Caspian oil platform was a spark away from exploding, but luck was with the 211 rig workers.

It was eerily similar to the Gulf catastrophe as it involved BP’s controversial “quick set” drilling cement.

The question we have to ask: If BP had laid out the true and full facts to Congress and regulators about the earlier blowout, would those 11 Gulf workers be alive today – and the Gulf Coast spared oil-spill poisons?

The bigger question is, why is there no clear law to require disclosure? If you bump into another car on the Los Angeles freeway, you have to report it. But there seems no clear requirement on corporations to report a disaster in which knowledge of it could save lives.

Five months prior to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, BP’s Chief of Exploration in the Gulf, David Rainey, testified before Congress against increased safety regulation of its deepwater drilling operation. Despite the company’s knowledge of the Caspian blowout a year earlier, the oil company’s man told the Senate Energy Committee that BP’s methods are, “both safe and protective of the environment.”

Really? BP’s quick-dry cement saves money, but other drillers find it too risky in deepwater. It was a key factor in the Caspian blowout. Would US regulators or Congress have permitted BP to continue to use this cement had they known? Would they have investigated before issuing permits to drill?

This is not about BP the industry Bad Boy. This is about a system that condones silence, the withholding of life-and-death information.

Even BP’s oil company partners, including Chevron and Exxon, were kept in the dark. It is only through WikiLeaks that my own investigations team was able to confirm insider tips I had received about the Caspian blowout. In that same confidential memo mentioned earlier, the US Embassy in Azerbaijan complained, “At least some of BP’s [Caspian] partners are similarly upset with BP’s performance in this episode, as they claim BP has sought to limit information flow about this event even to its [Caspian] partners.”

In defense of its behavior, BP told me it did in fact report the “gas release” to the regulators of Azerbaijan. That’s small comfort. This former Soviet republic is a police state dictatorship propped up by the BP group’s oil royalties. A public investigation was out of the question.

In December, I traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, to investigate BP and the blowout for British television. I was arrested, though, as a foreign reporter, quickly released. But my eye witnesses got the message and all were too afraid tell their stories on camera.

BP has, in fact, never admitted a blowout occurred, though when confronted by my network, did not deny it. At the time, BP told curious press that the workers had merely been evacuated as a “precaution” due to gas bubbles “in the area of” the drilling platform, implying a benign natural gas leak from a crack in the sea floor, not a life-threatening system failure.

In its 2009 report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), BP inched closer to the full truth. Though not mentioning “blowout” or “cement,” the company placed the leak “under” the platform.

This points to a cruel irony: the SEC requires full disclosure of events that might cause harm to the performance of BP’s financial securities. But reporting on events that might harm humans? That’s not so clear.

However, the solution is clear as could be. International corporations should be required to disclose events that threaten people and the environment, not just the price of their stock.

As radiation wafts across the Pacific from Japan, it is clear that threats to health and safety do not respect national borders. What happens in Fukushima or Baku affects lives and property in the USA.

“Regulation” has become a dirty word in US politics. Corporations have convinced the public to fear little bureaucrats with thick rulebooks. But let us remember why government began to regulate these creatures. As Andrew Jackson said, “Corporations have neither bodies to kick nor souls to damn.”

Kicking and damning have no effect, but rules do. And after all, when international regulation protects profits, as in the case of patents and copyrights, corporate America is all for it.

Our regulators of resource industries must impose an affirmative requirement to tell all, especially when people, not just song lyrics or stock offerings, are in mortal danger.

Deconstructing US-NATO War on Libya and the Oil Economy

April 19th, 2011 by Global Research

 
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- by Julie Lévesque – 2011-04-10

The 15 September 2010, GEAB N°47 issue was headed « Spring 2011: Welcome to the United States of Austerity / Towards the very serious breakdown of the world economic and financial system ». Yet at the end of summer 2010, most experts believed first, that the debate on the US budget deficit would remain a mere subject of theoretical discussion within the Beltway (1) and secondly, that it was unthinkable to imagine the United States engaging in a policy of austerity because it was sufficient for the Fed to continue to print dollars. Yet, as everyone has been able to see for several weeks, Spring 2011 really did bring austerity to the United States (2), a first since the Second World War and the setting up of a global system based on the ability of the US engine to always generate more wealth (real from 1950 to 1970, increasingly virtual thereafter).

At this stage, LEAP/E2020 can confirm that the next stage of the crisis will really be the “Very Serious Breakdown of the world economic, financial and monetary system” and that this historic failure will occur in autumn 2011 (3). The monetary, financial, economic and geopolitical consequences of this “Very Serious Breakdown” will be of historic proportions and will show the crisis of autumn 2008 for what it really was: a simple detonator.

The crisis in Japan (4), the Chinese decisions and the debt crisis in Europe will certainly play a role in this historic breakdown. On the other hand we consider that the issue of government debt of countries on Euroland’s periphery is no longer the dominant European risk factor here, but it is the United Kingdom which will find itself in the position of the “sick man of Europe” (5). The Eurozone has in fact established and keeps improving all the monitoring systems needed to address these problems (6). Management of the Greek, Portuguese and Irish problems will therefore take place in an organized fashion. That private investors must take a haircut (as anticipated by LEAP/E2020 before summer 2010) (7) does not belong to the category of systemic risks, displeasing the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and Wall Street and City experts, trying every three months to rerun the “coup” of the early 2010 Eurozone crisis (8).

In contrast, the United Kingdom has completely missed its attempt at “preventive budgetary amputation surgery” (9). In fact, under pressure from the street and particularly more than 400,000 British who roamed the streets of London on 03/26/2011 (10), David Cameron is forced to lower his target for reducing health care costs (a key point of his reforms) (11). At the same time, the Libyan military adventure has also forced him to rethink his goals for Defense Ministry budget cuts. We already mentioned in the last GEAB issue that the British government’s financing needs continue to rise, reflecting the ineffectiveness of the measures announced whose implementation is proving very disappointing in reality (12). The only result of the Cameron / Clegg (13) duo policy is currently the relapse of the British economy into recession (14) and the obvious risk of the ruling coalition imploding after the next referendum on electoral reform.

In this issue, our team describes the three key factors that mark out this Very Serious Breakdown of autumn 2011 and its consequences. Meanwhile, our researchers have begun to anticipate the progression of the Franco-Anglo-American military operation in Libya which we believe is a powerful accelerator of global geopolitical dislocation and that it usefully illuminates some of the current tectonic changes in the relationships between major world powers. In addition to our GEAB $ index, we expand on our recommendations for dealing with the dangerous quarters to come.

Basically, the process that is unfolding before our eyes, of which the US entry into an era of austerity (15) is a simple budgetary expression, is a continuation of the balancing of the 30 trillion of ghost assets which had invaded the global economic and financial system in late 2007 (16). While about half of them had disappeared in 2009, they have been partially resurrected since then due to the volition of the major global central banks, and the US Federal Reserve in particular and its “QE 1 and 2″. Our team considers, therefore, that 20 trillion of these ghost assets will go up in smoke beginning autumn 2011, and very brutally, under the combined impact of the three US mega-crises in accelerated gestation:

. the budgetary crisis, or how the United States plunges willingly or by force into this unprecedented austerity and takes whole swathes of the global economy and finance with it

. the crisis in US Treasury bonds, or how the US Federal Reserve reaches the “end of the road” which began in 1913 and must face up to its bankruptcy whatever accounting sleight of hand is chosen

. the US Dollar crisis, or how the jolts in the US currency that will characterize the ending of QE2 in the second quarter of 2011 will be the beginnings of a massive devaluation (around 30% in a few weeks).

Central banks, the global banking system, pension funds, multinationals, commodities, the US population, Dollar zone economies and/or dependent on trade with the United States (17) … everyone structurally dependent on the US economy (of which the government, the Fed and the federal budget have become central components), assets denominated in dollars or commercial dollar transactions, will suffer the head on shock of 20 trillion in ghost assets purely and simply disappearing from their balance sheets, from their investments, and causing a major decline in their real incomes.
Remittance of funds by US immigrant workers to their countries of origin (first number in local currency at the dollar exchange rate end 2008/second number: the same, at the exchange rate end 2010) - Source: Wall Street Journal, 04/2011
Remittance of funds by US immigrant workers to their countries of origin (first number in local currency at the dollar exchange rate end 2008/second number: the same, at the exchange rate end 2010) – Source: Wall Street Journal, 04/2011
Around the historic shock of autumn 2011 which will mark the definitive confirmation of significant trends anticipated by our team in previous GEAB issues, the main asset classes will experience major upheavals requiring the increased vigilance of all players concerned for their investments. In fact, this triple US crisis will mark the true exit from the “world after 1945″ which saw the US play the role of Atlas and will, therefore, be marked by many shocks and aftershocks in the quarters which follow.

For example, the dollar may experience short-term effects of strengthening value against the major world currencies (especially if US interest rates rise very quickly following the ending of QE2), even if, six months after that, its 30% loss of value (relative to its current value) is inevitable. We can, therefore, only repeat the advice that has appeared at the head of our recommendations since the beginning of our work on the crisis: in the context of a global crisis of historic proportions like the one we are experiencing, the only rational objective for investors is not to make more money, but to try to lose as little as possible.

This will be particularly true for the coming quarters where the speculative environment will become highly unpredictable in the short term. This short term unpredictability will be particularly due to the fact that the three US crises that trigger Very Serious Breakdown in the world in autumn are not concurrent. They are very closely correlated but not linearly. And one of them, the budget crisis, is directly dependent on human factors with a big influence on the timing of the event; whilst the other two (whatever those who see the Fed officials as gods or devils think (18)) are now, for the large part, included in the significant trends where US leaders’ actions have become marginal (19).

The budget crisis, or how the United States plunges willingly or by force into this unprecedented austerity and takes whole swathes of the global economy and finance with it

The numbers can make the head spin: “6 trillion in budget cuts over ten years” (20), said the Republican Paul Ryan, “4 trillion in twelve years” retorted the 2012 candidate Barack Obama (21), “all this is far from sufficient”, bids one of the Tea Party referents, Ron Paul (22). And anyway, sanctions the IMF, “the United States is not credible when it speaks of cutting its deficits” (23). This unusually harsh remark from the IMF, traditionally very cautious in its criticism of the United States, is in any case particularly justified in terms of the psychodrama which, for a fistful of tens of billions of dollars, nearly shut down the federal state absent any agreement between the two major parties, a scenario that will, moreover, soon take place again over the federal debt ceiling.

The IMF is only expressing an opinion widely shared by creditors of the United States: if, for a few tens of billions USD in deficit reduction, the US political system reached that degree of paralysis, what will happen when, in the coming months, cuts of several hundred billion dollars a year will be required? Civil war? This is the new California governor Jerry Brown (24) opinion in any case, who believes that the United States is facing a regime crisis identical to that which led to the Civil War (25).

 

Public and private sector borrowing (1979 - 2010) (in red: public/in blue: private) - Source: Agorafinancial, 04/2011
Public and private sector borrowing (1979 – 2010) (in red: public/in blue: private) – Source: Agorafinancial, 04/2011
The context, therefore, is no longer mere paralysis but really an all-out confrontation between two visions of the country’s future. The closer the date of the next presidential election gets (November 2012), the more the confrontation between the two sides will intensify and take place regardless of any rule of good behaviour, including safeguarding the country’s common good: “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad”, says the ancient Greek proverb. The Washington political scene will increasingly resemble a psychiatric hospital (26) in the coming months, making “the bizarre decision” increasingly likely. If, in order to reassure themselves about the dollar and Treasury bonds, Western experts repeat in turn that the Chinese would be crazy to get rid of these assets which would thus only hasten their fall in value, it’s that they haven’t yet understood that it’s Washington and its political mistakes that can come to the decision that hastens this fall. And October 2012, with its traditional annual budget vote, will be the ideal moment for this Greek tragedy which, according to our team, won’t have a happy ending because this isn’t Hollywood, but really the rest of the world which will write the scenario’s sequel.

Whatever the case, by political choice, by closing down the federal government or by irresistible outside pressures (27) (interest rates, IMF + Euroland + BRIC (28)), it is really in autumn 2011 that the US federal budget will massively shrink for the first time. The continuation of the recession coupled with the ending of QE2 will cause interest rates to rise and thus significantly increase federal debt servicing costs, against a backdrop of falling tax revenues (29) caused by a relapse into a deep recession. Federal insolvency is now just round the corner according to Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (30).

Read more in GEAB:

. The budgetary crisis, or how the United States plunges willingly or by force into this unprecedented austerity and takes whole swathes of the global economy and finance with it
. The crisis in US Treasury bonds, or how the US Federal Reserve reaches the “end of the road” which began in 1913 and must face up to its bankruptcy whatever accounting sleight of hand is chosen
. The US Dollar crisis, or how the jolts in the US currency that will characterize the ending of QE2 in the second quarter of 2011 will be the beginnings of a massive devaluation (around 30% in a few weeks)

Notes:

(1) An American term for Washington’s politico-administrative heart, situated in the middle of the local ring road, the Beltway.

(2) From grim cuts in the US overseas aid budgets to reductions in social programmes; public organizations and whole sections of the US population (Latinos, the poor, students, retirees, …) will now be severely affected by what is still only a drop in the bucket of adjustments needed. The grassroots demonstrations are beginning with students at the forefront. Sources: House of Resentatives, 04/13/2011; Devex, 04/11/2011; HuffingtonPost, 04/13/2011; Foxnews, 04/14/2011; Foxbusiness, 04/12/2011

(3) The world banking system (including Europe), still under-capitalized and mainly insolvent, is also one of the components of this Very Serious Breakdown of autumn 2011.

(4) In GEAB N°55 our team will give its anticipations on the world nuclear question, using the political anticipation method as a decision-making tool on the subject.

(5) The magnitude of the United Kingdom’s budgetary crisis is far more serious than the current British leaders are telling who, however, claim to have told the truth. There are in fact two ways of lying to a people: deny the existence of a problem (the position of Gordon Brown’s Labour) or only tell part of the truth (clearly the choice of the Cameron/Clegg pair). In both cases, the problem is not resolved. Source: Telegraph, 03/26/2011

(6) And from now and the definitive establishment of Euroland as the main European engine at the European summit of 11 March last, the four countries that do not participate in the “Euroland +” financial stabilization pact, i.e. the United Kingdom, Sweden, Hungary and the Czech Republic, will be asked to leave the room during discussions on financial and budgetary matters related to the pact. EU Observer of 03/29/2011 describes the panic which then seized the delegations of these four countries whose leaders play the thugs in front of the media and in speeches intended for their respective public opinion, but they well know they are now confined to a second-rate European role.

(7) Source: Irish Times, 03/22/2011

(8) A very pertinent and very amusing must read article by Silvia Wadhwa, CNBC’s European correspondent, which makes fun of the caricatural anti- Euroland and anti-German articles of his colleagues in other Anglo-Saxon media, and rightly points out that differences in economic situations are bigger between US states than within Euroland and the debt problems of Greece or Portugal are nothing compared to those of a state like California. Source: CNBC, 04/12/2011

(9) We will come back to the British case in more detail in the GEAB N°55, barely a year after the Conservative/LibDem victory.

(10) This protest against cuts is the largest demonstration in London for over twenty years and has been accompanied by serious violence against “symbols of wealth” with attacks against HSBC, the Ritz Hotel and Fortnum & Mason for example. As we have repeatedly emphasized in the GEAB, it is quite significant to note that this historic demonstration in the UK hardly made the headlines and then became invisible 48 hours after it happened. When a few thousand Greeks or Portuguese demonstrate in Athens or Lisbon on the other hand, we are entitled to an avalanche of shocking pictures and comments describing these countries on the brink of chaos. This “two weights and two measures” mustn’t deceive the clear-sighted observer. On the one hand, there are serious difficulties that are now managed within a powerful group, Euroland; on the other, there are major problems that can no longer be managed by a completely isolated country. Believe the media or think for yourself to guess the rest! Source: Guardian, 03/26/2011

(11) Source: Independent, 04/03/2011

(12) Moreover the financial markets realize this and no longer really believe the British government’s martial message of austerity, again leading to a downward spiral in the British Pound. Source: CNBC, 04/12/2011

(13) Nick Clegg has become the most hated politician in the United Kingdom for having betrayed nearly all his campaign promises one by one. Source: Independent, 04/10/2011

(14) And to push British households into a loss of purchasing power only similar to that of the post-World War I crisis in 1921. Source: Telegraph, 04/11/2011

(15) As the Europeans have done since 2010.

(16) Average estimate by LEAP/E2020 made in 2007/2008.

(17) Beyond traditional foreign trade, the chart below shows the extent of the reduction in transfers to their countries of origin by immigrant workers in the United States, because of the declining US Dollar. This reduction will increase further from Autumn 2011.

(18) In the US today, the diabolic vision is the most common among public opinion, unlike 2008 when the Fed officials seemed to be the last resort. This psychological change, as we have pointed out, is not meaningless and contributes significantly to limit Fed officials’ leeway. And it’s not the US Central Bank’s historic legal defeat, which forced it to reveal the recipients of hundreds of billions of dollars in aid distributed after the 2008 Wall Street crisis, which will improve this situation, quite the opposite. A little story, revealed by RollingStone magazine, illustrates the US people’s worsening grievances against its central bankers: beneficiaries of this Fed aid are two wives of leading Wall Street figures who have created a custom-made instrument allowing them to collect 200 million USD from the Fed to buy failed securities … the profits go to them and the losses to the Fed! Sadly, this is just one example among many that are currently circulating on the Net and have now definitively shattered the respect of US people for its benchmark monetary institution; an explosive situation in the context of the current crisis. Source: Rollingstone, 04/12/2011

(19) The dollar’s fate, like US Treasury bonds, is now largely in the hands of operators around the world who will take a very “clinical” look at the exit from QE2 which was forced on the Fed during the second quarter of 2011. It’s the Fed’s collective opinion (already heavily criticised), not the way it is “presented”, which will be decisive.

(20) Source: Politico, 04/04/2011

(21) Source: Boston Herald, 04/13/2011

(22) Source: Huffington Post, 04/11/2011

(23) And all the more so since they continue to break the records of financing needs for their deficits, and that the deficit forecast for the next decade by Obama commitments amounts to 9.5 trillion USD. On one side, he devises policies that increase the deficit, on the other he announces reduction targets… hardly credible, really! Sources: CNBC, 04/13/2011; Washington Post, 03/18/2011

(24) Brown is an original US character with a great deal of political experience having previously served as governor of California from 1975 to 1983, and was twice a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination. His opinion on the ruinous state of the US political system is, therefore, not to be taken lightly. Source: CBS, 04/10/2010

(25) For those who find the picture risqué, our team reminds that one of the Civil War’s main causes was the irreconcilable vision of what the federal state and its role should be. Today, around budget issues, the role of the Fed, military expenditure and social spending, we are once again seeing the emergence of two diametrically opposed visions of what the federal state should be and what it should do, with its procession of growing institutional blockages and an atmosphere of hatred between political forces. Many illustrations have been given in previous GEAB issues. Source: Americanhistory

(26) How else can one describe people who are barely able, and by dint of repeated crises, to cut a few tens of billions from a budget, and who suddenly announce that tomorrow they will cut thousands of billions of dollars from this same budget? Fools or liars? In any case irresponsible, because the constraints that require these deficit reductions in any case are building up.

(27) Global government debt is at its highest since 1945 and, at 10.8% of GNP, the US has become the leading major country in terms of government deficits. Sources: Figaro, 04/12/2011; Bloomberg, 04/12/2011

(28) Regarding the BRIC countries (now BRICS with South Africa), it is very interesting to note that their third summit, which took place on the Chinese tropical island of Hainan, is finally enjoying significant media coverage from the Western media. We were one of the first and few Western publications to mention the first summit (at Ekaterinburg) three years ago and emphasize the importance of the event, but until now the major international newspapers persisted in considering the BRICs as a simple acronym without serious geopolitical clout. Obviously things have changed. Moreover from Libya to the dollar, the Hainan summit clearly positioned itself as a counterweight to the US and its surrogates (fewer and fewer in this case having regard to what is happening in Libya). As regards the dollar, the BRICs have decided to accelerate the process allowing them to use their own currencies for their trade: another sign that we’re rapidly approaching a severe monetary shock. Source: CNBC, 04/14/2011

(29) Those who still believe in an improvement in US economic conditions, beyond the effect of QE2 “doping”, should dwell on the moral of the SMEs in the US which have begun to deteriorate significantly and the fiction of the upturn in employment which will be sharply corrected (even in official statistics) from summer 2011. And we refer to previous GEAB issues regarding the fiscal crisis of the federated states. Sources: MarketWatch, 04/12/2012; New York Post, 04/12/2011

(30) Source: CNBC, 03/22/2011

 

 

NATO data confirms the magnitude and destructive nature of the Libya military operation.

“Since the beginning of the NATO operation (31 March 2011, 08.00GMT) a total of 2,771 sorties and 1,110 strike sorties have been conducted.

“A total of 18 ships under NATO command are actively patrolling the Central Mediterranean. 22 Vessels were hailed on 17 April to determine destination and cargo. 1 boarding was conducted (no diversion).

A total of 384 vessels have been hailed, 10 boardings and 3 diversions have been conducted since the beginning of arms embargo operations.”

http://www.nato.int/nato_static/assets/pdf/pdf_2011_04/20110418_110418-oup-update.pdf

The above number of sorties includes only those tabulated since NATO took command of Operation Odyssey Dawn. It does not include the sorties between March 19 and March 30

The coalition is currently running more than a hundred sorties a day. 

We are dealing with a formidable military force, a deployment of naval power and air force bombers directed against a country of less than 7 million people, less than the population of Switzerland.    

Let us be under no illusions. There is evidence of mass civilian casualties. These are war crimes (using advanced weapons systems) directed against a defenseless population .

These are some of the high tech “humanitarian bombers and fighters” deployed by the US Air Force and the Marine Corps, not to mention those of France (Mirage 2000), UK, Italy, Canada, Belgium, Qatar, UAE, Denmark, Norway, et al…

Solely in the US arsenal

Three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers operating from Whiteman AFB. [see video below, a deadly aircraft capable of launching 16 bunker buster bombs (with conventional or nuclear warheads) in a single sortie]
Two B-1B bombers
Ten F-15E Strike Eagle strike fighters operating out of RAF Lakenheath
Eight F-16C Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters from Spangdahlem Air Base started leaving for Aviano on 20 March
Two HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopters from RAF Lakenheath operating from USS Ponce (LPD-15).
Three E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS)
Three E-8C battle management/command and control aircraft
One EC-130H electronic warfare (communications jamming) aircraft
One EC-130J psychological operations aircraft
One RC-135V/W Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft
Two AC-130U gunships[49]
Four KC-10A Extender Aerial Refueling Tanker/Airlift Aircraft
Six A-10 Thunderbolt ground-attack aircraft[40][49]
Global Hawk unmanned aerial surveillance vehicle
Lockheed U-2 Reconnaissance aircraft

Four AV-8B Harrier II ground attack fighters from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, operating off of USS Kearsarge
Two MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft from the 26th MEU participated in the pilot rescue.
Two CH-53E Super Stallions from the 26th MEU participated in the pilot rescue.
One KC-130J Hercules from the 26th MEU participated in the pilot rescue.

See Operation Odyssey Dawn – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


France’s Mirage 2000 used in Operation Odyssey Dawn against Libya,

Royal Air Force Tornado GR4A

Northrop Grunman Video Clip on the B-2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcX9LbR4pqc 


This war has been on the NATO drawing board for several years.

‘We are Libyans fighting for Libya,’ said the rebel fighter, whose life led him to all sides so he could continue his battle against Kadafi.

April 17, 2011|By , He once lived under the Taliban’s protection, met with Osama bin Laden and helped found a group the U.S. has listed as a terrorist organization. He died in a secondhand U.S. military uniform, ambushed by Moammar Kadafi’s men as he cleared a road after an airstrike by his new NATO allies.

Aides to Abdul Monem Muktar Mohammed say the Libyan rebel fighter was leading a convoy of 200 cars west of this hotly contested strategic city Friday when a bullet struck him on the right side of the chest. He opened his passenger door and jumped out. A rocket-propelled grenade exploded nearby.

“Don’t wait, go,” he yelled to his men. Then he got to his feet, staggered a few steps and fell.

Mohammed’s final days were a mirror of his past, of a life that saw contradictions and intersections with U.S. policy, ones that could return to haunt the United States.

He arrived in Afghanistan in 1990 at the conclusion of the mujahedin’s silent partnership with the United States against the Soviet-backed Afghan regime. The following decades saw him become an international pariah, operating in an underground world of armed training camps and safe houses.

But with the revolt against Kadafi that started in February, he once again found himself in an uneasy alliance with the United States.

Five days before he died, with gray in his hair and bags under his eyes, Mohammed climbed a concrete tower on the outskirts of Ajdabiya and phoned in positions to the rebel government so NATO could drop bombs on Kadafi’s forces.

Putting down his Thuraya satellite phone, Mohammed waved a shiny black 9-millimeter pistol on a road filled with empty bullet casings and waited for the explosions.

A few hours later, Mohammed and his Omar Mukhtar brigade, one of the new military units officially sanctioned by the opposition government, rejoiced as blasts shook the city. A few started dancing and singing “God is great.”

“I have never been Al Qaeda now or in the future,” Mohammed said as he watched his men clap. “We are religious and ordinary people. We are Libyans fighting for Libya.”

The onetime holy warrior boasted that he even wanted a close battlefield relationship with NATO. But he also bristled at Western double standards. Why, he grumbled, does NATO so readily bomb the Taliban in Afghanistan but hesitates against Kadafi? Still, he would take any firepower he could get. He wished he had his own direct line to NATO rather than communicating through middlemen.

He laughed and said, “Give me their number.”

Rebel leaders are sensitive to criticism by some in the West that Al Qaeda “fellow travelers” are deeply involved in the fight against Kadafi. With some defensiveness, they say Afghan veterans such as Mohammed, 41, were pushed to extremes by Kadafi’s authoritarian rule, and that with freedom, the danger of a homegrown militant extremist threat has faded.

But there are many unanswered questions about Libya’s anti-Kadafi forces, with at least 20 former Islamic militant leaders in battlefield roles, according to the rebel army, and hundreds of Islamists participating or watching from the sidelines. All speak of unity and brotherhood, but in the new state, will they be tempted by a once-in-a-lifetime chance to overpower Libya with a conservative Islamist vision?

The fighters themselves might not even know their answer, caught up in the moment’s revolutionary fervor and vacillating between a longing for peace and their dreams of achieving an Islamic state.

*

Mohammed’s journey started at age 20, when he left his home in western Libya and traveled across the border to Algeria, flew to Frankfurt, Germany, then to Pakistan, and made his way with four Libyan friends to Afghanistan in early 1990. The year before, more than a 1,000 Islamists had been jailed in Libya, and Mohammed decided it was better to leave and try to follow a righteous path.

He fell in love with the mountains and the Afghans’ fighting prowess. With the fall of the old Soviet-backed Afghan regime in 1992, he and a group of other Libyan fighters decided to return home.

They slipped across the borders. The veteran mujahedin called themselves the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, and vowed to kill Kadafi, declaring their ambition to form an Islamic state. Mohammed lived in the southern city of Sabha under an assumed name. He didn’t dare contact his family. He hated Kadafi for detaining hundreds of Islamists and remembered the yearly public executions of political detainees and students.

“Hitler was a good man compared to Kadafi,” he said.

A first assassination plot, in 1994, involved planting bombs at a celebration for Kadafi, but the explosives failed to go off. Two years later, he was involved in another botched plot when a man hurled a dud grenade at Kadafi. Mohammed acknowledged without a hint of embarrassment that he picked the bomber and the weapon.

Mohammed escaped, first to Tunis, the Tunisian capital, and then to Turkey. He married an Algerian woman; they set up a home in Istanbul and had their first child. But when a colleague was detained and handed by the Turkish authorities to Libya, Mohammed fooled them with a fake Tunisian passport and fled.

On the run, he learned that his family was paying the price for his failed plot against Kadafi. One of his brothers, whom he had met secretly for 30 minutes in 1996, had been jailed and would be locked up for eight years.

There was only one place for Mohammed to go: back to Afghanistan, under the protection of the Taliban. He spent time studying in military camp, and in classes on politics and Islam. About 100 members of the LIFG congregated in Kabul, the capital, longing for the day when they could kill Kadafi and rule Libya in accordance with Islam.

Here Mohammed would have his encounter with the two men who shaped the future of radical Islam: Bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman Zawahiri.

In 2000, he said, he met the two men twice, once at a funeral and another time at a guesthouse. They exchanged pleasantries and nothing more, he said. Bin Laden later sent an emissary requesting that the LIFG join Al Qaeda, but Mohammed said the Libyan group refused.

“Before 9/11, Bin Laden wasn’t infamous. Everyone had their own projects and people. He was a wealthy man. Our project was to kill Kadafi. They offered for our group to join, but we were focused on Libya.”

Mohammed remembered a brief meeting when the group debated whether to join Al Qaeda. He said they disagreed with Bin Laden’s theory that if the United States was weakened, its Arab allies would fall.

“We were concerned with Libya and nothing else. We didn’t believe in killing civilians or fighting the United States,” he told The Times on Tuesday.

But there are disputes about whether the group ever did, in fact, pledge allegiance to Al Qaeda. In November 2007, Zawahiri and a senior Libyan Al Qaeda member with close ties to the LIFG said the group was joining the terrorist network. The LIFG followed with a strong denial.

Mohammed insisted that the Libyan insurgents knew Bin Laden’s 9/11 attack was a disaster for them. He was sure Kadafi would use the assault on the U.S. to hunt them down and woo Washington to his effort.

“Sept. 11 caused a big problem for us,” he said. “We rejected Sept. 11. It hurt our group. Kadafi was so happy.”

Within two days, the Libyans sent their wives to Pakistan and followed soon after. Mohammed left for Pakistan and then sneaked across the border to Iran. But instead of giving him a warm welcome, the Iranians imprisoned him for 7 1/2 years. At the time, Iranians were suspected of detaining Al Qaeda members for use as bargaining chips with the Americans.

Other leaders were captured by the Americans in Thailand, he said, and then sent to Kadafi’s jails in Libya. After his release, he lived quietly in Iran. The humiliation caused his voice to rise. “Don’t ask me about this period,” he said.

When the Libyan revolt started in February, Mohammed came back almost immediately.

After arriving in Benghazi, the rebels’ stronghold, he met with heads of the rebel council and was made the leader of his own fighting brigade. The council issued him an ID badge proclaiming him “a general of the revolutionaries” and head of the Omar Muktar brigade, which he said had 150 members.

Members of Mohammed’s group, the LIFG, are scattered throughout the new volunteer army. Its leaders keep a low profile but met shortly after the uprising began to rename themselves the Islamic Movement for Change.

On a recent day, Mohammed sat in an empty villa in Ajdabiya, on a residential street decorated with a pink flower hedge. He had just come back from manning battle positions. Three fighters slept on a couch, cradling their rifles. He fiddled with his phone and wolfed down some boiled chicken and pasta.

He said that, when the fighting is done, he dreamed of returning to his birthplace and being left alone.

“I want to hand in my gun and be with my children,” he said. Then he walked to his olive-green pickup, followed by his men.

Plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.

The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain’s involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair’s cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

They denied it was about Iraq’s resources. But it never rang true.

The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.

The documents were not offered as evidence in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war. In March 2003, just before Britain went to war, Shell denounced reports that it had held talks with Downing Street about Iraqi oil as “highly inaccurate”. BP denied that it had any “strategic interest” in Iraq, while Tony Blair described “the oil conspiracy theory” as “the most absurd”.

But documents from October and November the previous year paint a very different picture.

Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq’s enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair’s military commitment to US plans for regime change.

The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP’s behalf because the oil giant feared it was being “locked out” of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.

Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: “Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis.”

The minister then promised to “report back to the companies before Christmas” on her lobbying efforts.

The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq “post regime change”. Its minutes state: “Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity.”

After another meeting, this one in October 2002, the Foreign Office’s Middle East director at the time, Edward Chaplin, noted: “Shell and BP could not afford not to have a stake in [Iraq] for the sake of their long-term future… We were determined to get a fair slice of the action for UK companies in a post-Saddam Iraq.”

Whereas BP was insisting in public that it had “no strategic interest” in Iraq, in private it told the Foreign Office that Iraq was “more important than anything we’ve seen for a long time”.

BP was concerned that if Washington allowed TotalFinaElf’s existing contact with Saddam Hussein to stand after the invasion it would make the French conglomerate the world’s leading oil company. BP told the Government it was willing to take “big risks” to get a share of the Iraqi reserves, the second largest in the world.

Over 1,000 documents were obtained under Freedom of Information over five years by the oil campaigner Greg Muttitt. They reveal that at least five meetings were held between civil servants, ministers and BP and Shell in late 2002.

The 20-year contracts signed in the wake of the invasion were the largest in the history of the oil industry. They covered half of Iraq’s reserves – 60 billion barrels of oil, bought up by companies such as BP and CNPC (China National Petroleum Company), whose joint consortium alone stands to make £403m ($658m) profit per year from the Rumaila field in southern Iraq.

Last week, Iraq raised its oil output to the highest level for almost decade, 2.7 million barrels a day – seen as especially important at the moment given the regional volatility and loss of Libyan output. Many opponents of the war suspected that one of Washington’s main ambitions in invading Iraq was to secure a cheap and plentiful source of oil.

Mr Muttitt, whose book Fuel on Fire is published next week, said: “Before the war, the Government went to great lengths to insist it had no interest in Iraq’s oil. These documents provide the evidence that give the lie to those claims.

“We see that oil was in fact one of the Government’s most important strategic considerations, and it secretly colluded with oil companies to give them access to that huge prize.”

Lady Symons, 59, later took up an advisory post with a UK merchant bank that cashed in on post-war Iraq reconstruction contracts. Last month she severed links as an unpaid adviser to Libya’s National Economic Development Board after Colonel Gaddafi started firing on protesters. Last night, BP and Shell declined to comment.

Not about oil? what they said before the invasion

* Foreign Office memorandum, 13 November 2002, following meeting with BP: “Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP are desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity to compete. The long-term potential is enormous…”

* Tony Blair, 6 February 2003: “Let me just deal with the oil thing because… the oil conspiracy theory is honestly one of the most absurd when you analyse it. The fact is that, if the oil that Iraq has were our concern, I mean we could probably cut a deal with Saddam tomorrow in relation to the oil. It’s not the oil that is the issue, it is the weapons…”

* BP, 12 March 2003: “We have no strategic interest in Iraq. If whoever comes to power wants Western involvement post the war, if there is a war, all we have ever said is that it should be on a level playing field. We are certainly not pushing for involvement.”

* Lord Browne, the then-BP chief executive, 12 March 2003: “It is not in my or BP’s opinion, a war about oil. Iraq is an important producer, but it must decide what to do with its patrimony and oil.”

* Shell, 12 March 2003, said reports that it had discussed oil opportunities with Downing Street were ‘highly inaccurate’, adding: “We have neither sought nor attended meetings with officials in the UK Government on the subject of Iraq. The subject has only come up during conversations during normal meetings we attend from time to time with officials… We have never asked for ‘contracts’.”

Increasing attacks on Shia mosques in the Bahraini state’s withering crackdown against the pro-democracy movement is a deliberate attempt to isolate the political opposition and amounts to a campaign of “sectarian cleansing”, say human rights groups.

Over the past four weeks since the Saudi-led Gulf Peninsula Shield military intervention in Bahrain, there appears to be a concerted drive by pro-state Sunni forces to target repression at the Shia population and in particular Shia mosques and other religious sites, such as cemeteries and meeting places known as Mattams.

Some mosques have been vandalized, with their doors, windows and the PA systems used in the call to prayer having been smashed. More recently, other mosques, such as the 800-year-old Al Shaboor, near the capital, Manama, have in the past week been razed to the ground with bulldozers. A similar fate was met by five mosques in Hamad Town, about 15km south of Manama.

The pro-democracy uprising that began on February 14 rocked the US-backed Sunni rulers for almost a month before the other Gulf states sent in heavily armed contingencies to quell the protests. But the nature of the military intervention has evidently gone beyond its initial avowed remit of restoring “security and stability”. Over 34 unarmed civilians have been killed, two-thirds of whom since the Saudi-led forces arrived. The latest victim is a 24-year-old woman, Azeeza Ahmed, who was shot dead when army and police raided her home in the village of Belad Al Qadeem on April 16. Up to 600 people, including medics, lawyers and academics, have been unlawfully detained, their whereabouts unknown. At least four people have died while in custody, their released bodies showing signs of torture. Some 1,000 workers have been sacked from jobs in major state-owned industries, accused of participating in anti-regime protests. And the vast majority of these victims of repression are Shia.

Nabeel Rajab, of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, describes the ongoing repression by the Sunni rulers as a “campaign of sectarian cleansing” against the Shia population. The upsurge in seemingly wanton attacks on Shia mosques and religious sites is clearly demonstrative of this, he says. Such attacks, as with the previously mentioned violations, Rajab points out, constitute crimes against humanity – crimes that the governments of the six Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, are in effect party to.

The pro-democracy movement in Bahrain was seen as a largely, but not exclusively, Shia-led movement. This reflects the fact that the Shia represent 70 per cent of the indigenous Bahrain population of less than 600,000, and that this group has historically suffered the most political and economic marginalization under the ruling Al Khalifa family who have held power since the oil-rich shaikhdom was granted independence from Britain in 1971.
However, the calls for replacement of the monarchy and for greater democratic freedoms galvanized Shia and sections of the minority Sunni population as well as labour unions and other secular groups. “Not Sunni, Not Shia, Just Bahraini,” was a common rallying slogan during the heyday of the uprising that saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets of the capital.

Some of the government opposition spokesmen that have been detained, such as Mohammed Abu Flasa and Ebrahim Al Sharif, leader of the National Democratic Action Society, are from Sunni backgrounds.

But, having said that, the repression that has unfolded since the Saudi-led Peninsula Shield entered the country has been directed with disproportionate force at the Shia population.

Pro-democracy sources and human rights groups say that the Bahraini government is now using a policy of divide and rule to isolate the opposition as a “sectarian problem” and in particular a “Shia problem”.

One source, who did want to be named, said: “The targeting of the Shia is a tactic by the regime to distort the pro-democracy movement from a nationalist one into a sectarian one. It is also a way of undermining international support for the pro-democracy movement by trying to present it as an internal problem of the state dealing with ‘troublesome Shia’. In this way, the Bahraini uprising is being made to appear as something different from the uprisings for democracy that have swept the region.”

Nabeel Rajab, who describes himself as secular with both Sunni and Shia family relatives, said: “The government is attempting to incite divisive sectarian tensions, to intimidate Sunni people into not supporting the pro-democracy movement because it is being presented as a Shia movement. The destruction of Shia mosques is a clear sign of this sectarian policy and in my view reflects a wider campaign of sectarian cleansing across Bahrain.”

Saudi troops have used bulldozers to demolish dozens of Shia mosques in Manama and in other locations such as Sitra, in the north east, at Al Barbaghi, Karzakhan, A’ali and in Hamad Town. The latter is particularly significant and could explain why five mosques in that one place alone have demolished. Hamad is one of the newbuild towns in Bahrain with a mixed community of Shia and Sunni. The ruthless targeting of one section of the community is being seen as an attempt to drive a wedge of fear and distrust between them.

Pro-democracy activists point to the government’s announcement last week that all buildings, including places of worship, are liable for demolition if they are found to not have a licence from the Municipal and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry. This, they say, is just a way of legalizing the targeting and destruction of Shia mosques.

Since that announcement, the number of Shia mosque demolitions seems to have increased rapidly.

Another pro-democracy source pointed to a more sinister motive. “The regime wants to start a sectarian war between Shia and Sunni. They are humiliating the Shia trying to make them take revenge on Sunnis.”
Nabeel Rajab says that despite the provocation by pro-state forces, an all-out sectarian war is unlikely.

“Bahrain is not a tribal society. Shia and Sunni communities have lived side by side peacefully here for centuries, even before the Khalifa family arrived some 220 years ago,” said Rajab.

“So I don’t think these communities will start fighting because there is too much common ancestry between them. However, there is a danger of conflict between the Shia and the tens of thousands of new Sunni nationals that the regime has brought in from neigbouring Arab countries over the past 20 years to fill the ranks of the army and police forces.

“The regime would like to see a sectarian conflict blow up because that would distract from the common struggle for democracy against the rulers. It would also serve to justify the state of emergency that the regime has imposed, the brutal crackdown on human rights, and the involvement of other Gulf armies in Bahrain.”

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are designated as key allies by Washington and London, and are important export markets for American and British weapons manufacturers. The US recently signed off on a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, and its Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, which is seen as a bulwark against Iran’s growing influence in the region. Despite the escalation of violence against civilians in Bahrain by Saudi and Bahraini state forces, Washington and London have remained tightlipped. Both Western governments have pointedly refused to condemn the actions of their Gulf allies.

The unprecedented bulldozing of mosques by Arab military forces has disturbing echoes of similar violations by Israeli troops in Palestinian territories. The development in Bahrain comes in the wake of diplomatic cables disclosed earlier this month by the whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks, in which Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa boasted in 2005 to the then US ambassador, William Monroe, of the kingdom’s close ties with the Israeli state and its intelligence agency Mossad.

News update:

Since being interviewed by Global Research, Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab and his family were attacked in their home in the early hours of April 18. Rajab and his family, including his elderly mother, are suffering from the effects of asphyxiation after unknown assailants threw three teargas canisters into his home in Budaiya while the family was sleeping. Rajab, who is president of the Bahrain Human Rights Centre and is also on the board of directors for Human Rights Watch’s middle east section, has been a fearless critic of the Bahraini regime over its maltreatment of detainees. The internationally acclaimed rights activist is facing a summons from the state military prosecutor and possible detention after he published photographs showing signs of torture on the body of Bahraini man Ali Issa Sager (31) who died while in state custody last week. [1]

Notes:

[1] http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nabeel-Rajab/194515507249804#!/media/set/fbx/?set=a.203298013038220.49480.194515507249804

While in Kabul in March of this year, I visited the U.S. military base in that city, Camp Eggers . Knowing I would need a pretext to gain entry, I typed up a letter offering to give a presentation on wildlife in Afghanistan , which I had been studying. When approaching the base, one passes through an initial checkpoint, where a Hummer topped with a machine-gun nest stands guard. Then there is a 100-yard walk down a narrow corridor between high concrete blast walls, at which point one arrives at a guarded entry point through the wall. I showed my passport and letter, and was escorted through a second layer of blast walls to a little wooden information booth in this still-peripheral circle of defense. The pimply young lad manning the booth was flustered by my request; he had never seen anything quite like it. He did what all soldiers do when faced with something new; he phoned his superior for orders on how to proceed.

 

Permission was granted to pass to the next entry level. At hut #2 another friendly young male soldier by the name of Ryan was equally baffled by my written request, and he dialed up his commanding officer for instructions on what to do with me. Then, with Ryan as my escort, I made it into the inner sanctum of the base, where soldiers and military contractors strolled leisurely around the streets of the former Kabul residential area. After being passed around to several more levels of authority, I finally ended up at the office of Morale, Welfare and Recreation. The female officer in charge there was as confused by my presence as everyone else had been, and after reading my proposal asked rather sternly, “How did he get on the base?” She reprimanded Ryan for bringing me to the center of Camp Eggers, then realized that she would have to phone her commanding officer because there was no standardized protocol on how to deal with me. As we retraced our steps, Ryan remarked that he certainly could not be held accountable for letting me on the base because all he had done was follow orders. In fact, the primary concern of everyone I interacted with at Camp Eggers was to follow the directives of their superiors; no one appeared to have the capacity to take responsibility for their actions.

In the mid-1960s, political scientist Hannah Arendt published a book-length study of how some of the great evils of history, such as slavery and the Holocaust, managed to occur. Her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, concluded that generally such crimes are not carried out by fanatics or sociopaths, but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their superiors and their state and therefore do what they are told to do, and participate with the view that their actions are normal. The word “banal” is defined as “something that is trite, normal, and commonplace.” The root of the word comes from the Old French word ban, referring to feudal military service, which was compulsory and thus commonly accepted. Thus, military culture is by definition synonymous with banal, which my acquaintances at Camp Eggers demonstrated as they strove to find orders to follow and avoid responsibility for their actions.

Most members of the military establishment receive extensive training in combat techniques, including of course how to kill other human beings. One common drill at boot camp is to have recruits lunge repeatedly at mock human targets with mounted bayonets, shouting “Kill! Kill!” as they stab their imaginary victims. After months of such training, killing itself becomes banal, something normal and commonplace. The military culture of thoughtless submission to authority combined with heavy conditioning to snuff out human life creates a wide path towards the “great evils” that Hannah Arendt addressed.

Examples of what a sane society would call evil acts abound in the annuals of our current wars. For example, in 2010 a group of five American soldiers  murdered a number of Afghan civilians “for sport,” and collected fingers of their victims as trophies. Killing for them had become normal and banal; it was in fact what the soldiers were trained to do.

In March of 2011 two U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopters came upon 10 Afghan children ages 7 to 13 gathering brush to warm their huts and attacked them with heavy machine gun fire. When the parents of the children arrived on the scene, attracted by the gunfire, they could only collect body parts of their children. For the pilots of the helicopters, killing was their job, a normal part of military life.

On March 12, 2006, four U.S. soldiers entered the home of a 14-year old girl in the Iraqi city of Mahmudiya, took her mother, father and sister into a bedroom and shot them, and then gang-raped the girl. Afterwards, they shot her in the head and attempted to burn her body. They then reported the deaths as being the result of an insurgent attack.

On March 25, 2003, Marine Sgt. Eric Schrumpf was participating in the U.S. invasion of Iraq when he spotted an Iraqi soldier in his field of view behind a female Iraqi citizen. He couldn’t get a clear shot with the woman blocking his line of sight, so he shot her to get her out of the line of fire. “I’m sorry, but the chick was in the way,” Schrumpf explained. Later he elaborated, “We had a great day. We killed a lot of people.”

Over the long term, most soldiers committing such murders become victims of their own lack of judgment, unable to live with the profoundly antisocial acts they have committed. Sergeant Schrumpf is himself now debilitated by PTSD, and can scarcely function in civilian society. He has attacked people in movie theaters because he mistakes their cans of Coke for military weapons. “I’ll never be the same again,” says Schrumpf, who seems somehow mystified by the etiology of his emotional dysfunction.

Similar stories of the fruits of combat duty are limited only by time available to tell them. After serving in the Marines during the 2003 invasion of Iraq , Lance Cpl. Walter Rollo Smith returned home and soon killed his wife, Nicole Marie Speirs, the 22-year-old mother of his twin children.  He drowned her in a bathtub without any evident provocation or reason. In reflecting on his heinous crime, Smith said, “I know for a fact that before I went to Iraq , there’s no way I would have taken somebody else’s life.”

After serving in the Army in Iraq in 2004, Spc. Brandon Bare, 19, of Wilkesboro, N.C, came home and stabbed his wife Nabila Bare, 18, at least 71 times with knives and a meat cleaver. About three dozen of the wounds were on her head and neck. Killing is what he was trained to do.

Mental angst and dysfunction in soldiers returning from combat is commonplace. A recent study indicates that 62% of soldiers returning from the war in Iraq have asked for mental health counseling, with 27% showing dangerous levels of alcohol abuse. Suicide rates among soldiers and vets have increased dramatically in recent years. Over 100,000 Vietnam vets have now killed themselves, far more than died in the Vietnam War. More than 300,000 veterans of the U.S. military are currently homeless, another study reveals.

If war is in fact destroying the youth of America by turning them into trained and traumatized killers, one could at least hope that the wars themselves have some value to American society.

Objective evidence indicates otherwise. The actual conduct of war bears more resemblance to a circus act than the noble endeavor it is often portrayed to be. To cite one of the many examples of the senselessness of war related in the book Achilles in Vietnam, author and Vietnam vet Jonathan Shay describes how, “During one patrol in the dry season, a U.S. Army squad ran out of water and was not resupplied. They walked for a day and a half in search of water in Vietcong-controlled territory. When men started to collapse from dehydration in the heat, an officer’s plea for emergency resupply was heeded: a helicopter flew over and “bombed” the squad with cases of Tab, seriously injuring one of the men. The major whose helicopter dropped the Tab was recalled to evacuate the casualty. There was no enemy activity. I subsequently read in the division newspaper that the major had put himself in for and had received the Bronze Star for resupplying the troops and evacuating the wounded ‘under fire.’ ” Remember that story the next time you see a soldier’s chest full of medals.

The Vietnam war itself was fought because at the end of World War II, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam ’s independence from the colonizing French, reading from the U.S. Declaration of Independence to emphasize his people’s reasonable claim to self-determination. Instead of supporting this universal urge that humanity has for freedom, the U.S. supported the French effort to regain their colony for 10 long years (1945-1954). After the French were defeated, the U.S. fought the Vietnamese for another 22 years (1955-1975). Thus, 32 years of brutal mayhem took place, when all the Vietnamese people were asking for was their independence. The American lives that were ruined—the 58,000 combat deaths, 100,000+ suicides, 300,000 homeless men—were all expended for nothing, as were the 3.4 million Vietnamese who died in that war. To briefly mention another of our recent wars, today the nation of Iraq lies in ruins, the people impoverished, a million dead and 5 million living as refugees, while the entire basis of the U.S. invasion in 2003 is widely acknowledged to have been a complete fabrication.

War itself is not only “a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” as Dwight Eisenhower noted in a speech in 1953, but war is also destructive to the physical earth, the very source of human life, and indeed of all life. The U.S. has dropped 15 million tons of bombs on the earth’s surface in last 60 years, spread 1 million tons of napalm on fields and forests, and sprayed 20 million gallons of defoliants on some of the most diverse rainforests on the planet. By any measure, the U.S. military is conducting a war against the earth itself. Such an inane effort does not come cheaply. The total cost of all military expenses for 2012 is estimated to be $1.2 trillion dollars, one-third of the total federal budget. It is the U.S. military that is driving the U.S. itself into bankruptcy.

In summary, the U.S. military is destroying the lives of its own young men while at the same time it devastates other human cultures; it threatens the economic survival of the United States while it is fraying the ecological fabric that makes life on earth possible.

Mikhail Gorbachev once noted that the Soviet system was evil and had to be dismantled. The U.S. military is a similarly evil force loosened on the world. As was done to the repugnant Soviet system, the equally repugnant U.S. military should be completely dismantled, with all soldiers and ships and planes and weapons brought home from the vast web of 1000 American military bases spanning the globe. The savings in terms of human lives, human suffering, ecological integrity and American dollars will be immeasurable. We can then begin to rebuild a national defense consisting of a small militia that can guard our borders and “repel invasions,” as called for in the U.S. Constitution, all the while remembering that the best defense is the making of friends.

Dana Visalli is an ecologist, botanist, and market gardener living in Washington state.

Letter Addressed to Candidates in the Upcoming Federal Elections in Canada

Dear Candidate,

I am a Canadian citizen writing to you with great concern for the current state of my country.

A week before our Parliament was dissolved for the upcoming federal election, our Government committed itself militarily to enforce a No-Fly Zone in the North African state of Libya on the basis of humanitarian intervention. This is an incredibly important issue of Canadian foreign policy and it is the responsibility every single political party that is participating in the current federal election to clearly state their stance on this issue.

If in fact your political party is intending to support the military intervention in Libya, the following is a list of information on this conflict that – as my potential political representative to the Canadian Federal Government – you should seriously consider informing your party with.

Col. Muammar Qaddafi is being demonized as a dictator, a tyrant, and a mass murderer. Canadians are being told that it is for the sake of protecting innocent civilians from the Qaddafi government that we are involved in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. A brief historical background on Libyan government – and the rebels we are supporting – clearly demonstrates how flawed this argument is.

· In 1969, Muammar Qaddafi led a bloodless coup to overthrow King Idris I, a monarch imposed by the British after WWII. At the time, Libya was the poorest country in the entire world; with a literacy rate below 10%. Since then, the Libyan government has improved all aspects of their society.

· Libya now has a literacy rate above 90%.

· Libya has the lowest infant mortality rate of all of Africa.

· Libya also has the highest life expectancy of all of Africa.

· Less than 5% of the population was undernourished. In response to the rising food prices around the world, the government of Libya abolished ALL taxes on food.

· Libya has the highest gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita of all of Africa.

· Libya has the highest Human Development Index of any country on the continent.

· In Libya, a lower percentage of people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands, and again, far lower than that of the United States.

· They have free health care and treatment, and education is free of charge. Talented youth have an opportunity to study abroad at the expense of the Libyan government.

· Before the chaos erupted, Libya had a lower incarceration rate than the Czech Republic, and far lower than the United States.

· The core legal obligation expressed in article 2(7) of the UN Charter prohibits member states from any use of force unless it can be justified as self-defence after a cross-border armed attack; unless expressly authorized by the Security Council as essential for the sake of international peace and security. With respect to Libya, you need to take account of the fact that the Qaddafi government remains the lawful diplomatic representative of a sovereign state, and any international use of force even by the UN, much less a state or group of states, would constitute an unlawful intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. This also implies that the Security Council’s decision – to allow foreign states to bomb Libya – is legal if, and only if, the outcome of this conflict represents a serious threat to international peace. Also UN Resolution 1970 (2011) forbids the delivery of weaponry of any sort to any citizen in Libya. UN Resolution 1973 (2011) while allowing the use of force to protect “civilians” does not mention attacking conventional ground forces not engaged in battle to help “rebels” nor does it bear any mention whatsoever of aiding rebellious forces to gain power.

· Libya is the only country currently experiencing civil unrest that our Government has deemed important enough to support militarily. The day after the Security Council vote, March 18, armed forces of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government in Yemen carried out a massacre. The massacre took place in broad daylight at the central square in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital. At least 52 people were killed and more than 200 wounded, most by snipers firing from atop government buildings. Hilary Clinton stated: “The U.S. government “is alarmed by today’s violence in Sana’a against anti-government protesters and is seeking to verify reports that this is the result of actions by security forces…We call on Yemeni security forces to exercise maximum restraint, refrain from violence, and permit citizens to freely and peacefully express their views.” There are currently no calls from Washington for a U.N.-imposed “no-fly zone,” or the bombing of Saleh’s military. Not even a whisper from Washington about sanctions. On the contrary, U.S. military and other aid has continued to flow unimpeded to Saleh and his army. On March 16, the government of Bahrain, with the assistance of 2,000 invading Saudi troops and hundreds of United Arab Emirates security forces, dispersed the mass protests in the capital Manama and elsewhere. As in the case of Yemen, no threats of military intervention, sanctions or anything at all in the face of a blatant invasion and brutal repression. More than 20 Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds wounded, out of a total population of just over a million, over the past month.

· Another important aspect of this conflict often ignored in Canadian media is the role being played by the rebel groups of Eastern Libya. If the conditions in Libya prior to this armed insurrection were so favorable, then where did this uprising coming from? The answer is that the same groups the US and Great Britain have been funding for decades are now taking their chance to gain control over the nation.

· The rebels of Eastern Libya are represented by several different organizations: The National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL); The Islamic Emirate of Berka; The National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO); The Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya, or the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG); and the Transitional National Council (TNC). The first group calling itself “Islamic Emirate of Berka”, the former name of the North-Western part of Libya, took numerous hostages, and killed two policemen as reported by western media a few days after protests began. On Friday, the 18th of February – the day after the revolt began – the group stole 70 military vehicles after attacking a port and killing four soldiers. All the worthy democratic aspirations of the Libyan youth movement notwithstanding, the most organized opposition group happens to be the National Front for the Salvation of Libya – financed for years by the House of Saud, the CIA and French intelligence. The key figure in the National Front for the Salvation of Libya is one Ibrahim Sahad who conveniently enough lives in Washington. According to the Library of Congress archives, Sahad is the same man the CIA used in their failed attempt at a Libyan coup of 1984. The Library of Congress confirms that the CIA trained and supported the NFSL both before and after the failed coup. It was this organization that called for the “Day of Rage” that plunged Libya into chaos on February 17 of this year. The rebel “Transitional National Council” is little else than the National Front, plus a few military defectors. This is the elite of the “innocent civilians” the “coalition” is “protecting”. The UK based National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO) – is well known to be a CIA and MI5 supported and trained organization of anti-Kaddafi and counter-revolutionary Libyans.

As several documents have discovered, by far the most violent of the opposition groups is the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. The first is a secret cable to the State Department from the US embassy in Tripoli in 2008, part of the WikiLeaks trove, entitled, “Extremism in Eastern Libya,” which revealed that this area is rife with anti-American, pro-jihad sentiment.

The second document, or rather set of documents, are the so-called Sinjar Records, captured al-Qaeda documents that fell into American hands in 2007. They were analyzed by the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy at West Point. Al-Qaeda is a bureaucratic outfit and the records contain precise details on personnel, including those who came to Iraq to fight American and coalition forces and, when necessary, commit suicide.

The West Point analysts’ statistical study of the al-Qaeda personnel records concludes that one country provided “far more” foreign fighters in per capita terms than any other: namely, Libya.”

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group mounted a major challenge to the Qaddafi regime in the 1990s. The destabilizing impact of that challenge was a major factor in the decision of the Qaddafi regime to abandon its traditional anti-imperialist rhetoric and seek an accommodation with Europe and the United States. Anas al Liby is a notable member of the LIFG. He remains on the U.S. government’s most wanted list, with a reward of $5 million for his capture, and is wanted for his involvement in the U.S. African embassy bombings. Al Liby was with bin Laden in Sudan before the al Qaeda leader returned to Afghanistan in 1996. Despite being a high-level al Qaeda operative, al Liby was granted political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000. In 2009, to mark Qaddafi’s 40 years in power, the LIFG apologized for trying to kill him and agreed to lay down its arms. Six LIFG leaders, still in prison, disavowed their old ways and explained why fighting Qaddafi no longer constituted “legitimate” jihad. The last 110 members of the LIFG were freed on 16 February; the day after the Libyan uprising began. One of those released, Abdul Wahab Mohammed Kayed, is the brother of Abu Yahya Al Libi, one of al Qaida’s top propagandists.

There is an abundance of evidence proving that our Government is supporting religious extremists including Al Qaeda, and other rebels who are fighting against NATO troops in Afghanistan. In fact, Muammar Qaddafi and the Libyan revolutionary forces were the first to issue an arrest warrant for Osama bin Laden. The Libyan government spent years warning the world about the very serious threat posed by these Islamic deviants. According to former MI5 intelligence operative David Shayler, western intelligence turned a deaf ear to Libya’s warnings because they were actually working with the al Qaeda group inside Libya to bring down Qaddafi and the Libyan revolution.

“Uranium tipped missiles fit the description of a dirty bomb in every way. I would say that it is the perfect weapon for killing lots of people.”

Marion Falk, retired chemical physicist

at Lawrence Livermore Lab, California, USA.

· Since the March 18th, coalition forces have bombed Libya with at least 221 Tomahawk missiles killing at least 100 civilians. These massive bombs, along with the Cruise missiles launched from both planes and ships, all contained depleted uranium (DU) warheads. DU is the waste product from the process of enriching uranium ore. When a weapon made with a DU tip strikes a solid object like the side of a tank, it goes straight through it, and then erupts in a burning cloud of vapor. The vapor settles as dust, which is not only poisonous, but also radioactive. Internalized DU can cause kidney damage, cancers of the lung and bone, skin disorders, neuro-cognitive disorders, chromosome damage, immune deficiency syndromes and rare kidney and bowel diseases. Pregnant women exposed to DU may give birth to infants with genetic defects. Once the dust has vaporized, its effects are very long-term. As an alpha particle emitter, DU has a half life of 4.5 billion years.

There is overwhelming evidence proving Canada’s current military involvement in Libya is supportive of both the most radical elements of Al-Qaeda, and the removal of a sovereign Government that is only legal according to International Law if it represents a legitimate threat to international peace and security.

As such, Canadian citizens have been told since 9/11 that the enemies of peace and democracy are religious extremists who will stop at nothing to destroy Western Civilization. The Canadian Government claims to be doing everything it can to protect us from external threats; yet they are supporting the exact organizations in Libya that we are supposedly needed to be defended from. In this context, we are actually further endangering Canadian lives by supporting a military intervention in Libya.

The Libyan Government is not a totalitarian dictatorship. If your political party supports the military intervention in Libya, you are supporting illegal interference in the healthiest, richest, most egalitarian state in all of Africa.

By supporting the military intervention of Libya, your political party is claiming selectively that certain countries are more important than others to receive Canada’s assistance. If Canada was truly concerned with saving civilian lives, our Government would press for resolutions protecting the citizens of Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and elsewhere where civilians are being systematically murdered by their governments.

If your political party supports the military intervention in Libya, you are supporting an act of war that is illegal according to international law. You are therefore supporting the destabilization of our entire global order.

If your political party supports a Canadian military intervention in Libya, you are directly supporting Al-Qaeda and other extremist religious groups that our Government claims to be protecting us from. You are NOT supporting a peaceful protest movement; you are supporting an illegal armed insurrection. Canadian support of this mission is a direct threat to the safety of every single Canadian citizen.

As an informed citizen of Canada, I plead to you – and your political party – to strongly oppose any interference in a sovereign nation that poses no threat to World peace.

Japan as a Nuclear State

April 18th, 2011 by Gavan McCormack

Introduction

The following paper, which draws on and updates a 2007 Japan Focus article, was written for Le Monde Diplomatique, where it was posted online in French early in April 2011.1

This article offers a general overview of the nuclear era that began in Japan less than a decade after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and may well have been brought to its close by the events at Fukushima six and a half decades later. The Hirohito imperial broadcast of 15 August 1945 announcing the Japanese surrender and calling on the Japanese people to unite to “endure the unendurable” is now matched by the Akihito imperial television address of 16 March, calling on people to unite in the face of catastrophe and help each other through the crisis. Two days after the Akihito address, the government announced that the “Great East Japan Earthquake” disaster was to be elevated from level 4 to level 5, on a par with Three Mile Island, and three weeks later, on 12 April, it raised it again, to level 7, the maximum on the international scale for nuclear incidents, alongside Chernobyl.2

Does the first imperial address on television match the first on radio in signifying radical change? Those at the centre of the Japanese state, on both occasions facing deep crises, seem to have deployed the emperor to similar ends: to soothe public fear and desperation, deflect anger from the pursuit of those responsible into a national sentiment of unity, and confirm the emperor’s own place as healer, restorer, and axis for change.

The Akihito address used form and content that subconsciously linked the two occasions in listeners’ minds. Through it, the Japanese state implicitly called on the people to appreciate that, beyond the disaster unfolding in northeastern Japan the country itself faces a shift in direction comparable to that of 1945. Then, Hirohito’s role was to shift Japan from militarism and war to the acceptance of defeat and drastic change; now, Akihito’s address may be construed as a concession that the nuclear path chosen by post-war Japan, like the militarist path of his father’s generation, has ended in catastrophe.

Successive generations of Japan’s bureaucratic, political, corporate, and media elite have insisted that Japan pursue the nuclear power path at all costs. In retrospect, they drove the country forward, as the elite of the Kwantung Army drove it in the pre-war era, towards disaster, ignoring, coopting, or crushing all opposition.3 Only now, facing the costs—human, environmental and economic—the long-postponed debate opens.

The problem is not just the cluster of reactors in and around Fukushima, but the nuclear system, and the mentality that underpins it; Fukushima is far from being exceptional. Seismologists have long said that the fault lines on which the Hamaoka cluster of reactors at Omaezaki in Shizuoka prefecture rest are unstable and at least as prone to disaster. The Hamaoka design contemplated a maximum earthquake of 8.5, which means it could no more be expected to cope with one of 5.6 times greater force (480 M tons of TNT) than was Fukushima. Seismologist Ishibashi Katsuhiko notes that the impact of such an event would be huge: “the US military will also be affected – a disaster at Hamaoka will mean bases in Yokosuka, Yokota, Zama and Atsugi will all be of no use.”4 A Fukushima-type collapse would force the evacuation of 30 million people, signalling the collapse of Japan as we now know it.

Even though no existing reactor has been designed to withstand a level 9 earthquake or its likely accompanying tsunami and therefore all should be closed, it would be unrealistic to demand that. However, to stabilize not just Fukushima, but Japan itself, the disastrous and irresponsible decisions taken by governments over the past half-century to pursue nuclear energy as a sacrosanct national project, have to be reversed. The immediate priority must attach to close the Fukushima and Hamaoka (and other extreme high-risk sites including Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata prefecture, the world’s largest nuclear generation complex);5 to secure, stabilize, and remediate the Fukushima sites, resettling and compensation the refugee population and rebuilding shattered infrastructure; to cancel all planned and under construction reactor works (including Hamaoka Number 6 and Kaminoseki in Yamaguchi prefecture); to suspend all existing and experimental projects for uranium enrichment, plutonium accumulation, use, and fast-breeding; to stop the planned export of nuclear plants to countries such as Vietnam (personally promoted by Prime Minister Kan as late as October 2010); and to adjust public and private investment priorities to a completely different vision of energy production and consumption.

What is called for, in short, is the reversal of a half century of core national policies and the switch to a renewable energy system beyond carbon and uranium.6 Such a strategic decision, turning the present disaster into the opportunity to confront the key challenge of contemporary civilization, amounts to a revolutionary agenda, one only possible under the pressure of a mobilized and determined national citizenry. At this crucial juncture, how Japan goes, the world is likely follow. The challenge is fundamentally political: can Japan’s civil society accomplish the sovereignty guaranteed it under the constitution and wrest control over the levers of state from the irresponsible bureaucratic and political forces that have driven it into the present crisis?

On such a trajectory, instead of a subordinate and secondary role in the current (now stalled) global “nuclear renaissance,” and the continuing feeble presence on the world political and diplomatic stage as a US “client state,” Japan could become a world leader. It is the sort of challenge to which Japan’s best and brightest might rise, and around which its people might unite.

March 2011 is set to mark a caesura in Japanese history comparable to August 1945: the end of a particular model of state, economy and society, both marked by nuclear catastrophes that shook the world (even if the present one seems likely to be slightly muted and the meltdown kept to partial, the regional consequences may be broader, the number of people disastrously affected greater). Where the mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki signalled the end-point of the path chosen by the young officers of the Kwantung Army in the 1930s, the chaos and apocalyptic apprehension of post-quake and tsunami Fukushima in 2011 is the end-point of the path chosen by senior state bureaucrats and their corporate and political collaborators in the 1950s and steadily, incrementally, reinforced ever since then. Their legacy is today’s nuclear state Japan. 1945 was a purely human-caused disaster. 2011 differs in that it was occasioned by natural disaster, but human factors hugely exacerbated it.

Japan’s “Hiroshima syndrome” of fear and loathing for all things nuclear meant that cooperation with US nuclear war-fighting strategy had to be kept secret, in mitsuyaku or “secret treaties,” especially in the 1960s and 1970s that have only become public in the past two years. The nuclear energy commitment, also pressed by the US, had likewise to be concealed, never submitted to electoral scrutiny, and continually subject of manipulation (extensive advertising campaigns), cover-up (especially of successive incidents), and deception (as to risk and safety levels). The extent of that too is now laid bare.

The way forward out of the current disaster remains unclear. The debate over Japan’s energy and technology future will be long and hard, but what is now clear is that Japanese democracy has to rethink the frame within which this elite was able to overrun all opposition and push the country to its present brink. The crisis is not just one of radiation, failed energy supply, possible meltdown, the death of tens of thousands, health and environmental hazard, but of governability, of democracy. Civic democracy has to find a way to seize control over the great irresponsible centres of fused state-capital monopoly and open a new path towards sustainability and responsibility. A new mode of energy generation and of socio-economic organization has to be sought. Ultimately it has to be a new vision for a sustainable society.

Emperor and Empress speak with town mayor of Kazo, Saitama on April 8 while visiting a makeshift shelter. On April 15, TEPCO announced that it would provide “provisional compensation” of approximately $12,000 to tens of thousands of households ordered evacuated, perhaps permanently, from the 13-mile exclusion zone.

It is of course a paradox that nuclear victim Japan should have become what it is now: one of the world’s most nuclear committed, if not nuclear obsessed countries. Protected and privileged within the American embrace, it has over this half-century became a nuclear-cycle country and a plutonium super-power, the sole “non-nuclear” state committed to possessing both enrichment and reprocessing facilities, and to the fast-breeder reactor project. Its leaders chose to see the most dangerous substance known to humanity, plutonium, as the magical solution to the country’s energy security. While international attention focused on the North Korean nuclear threat, Japan escaped serious international scrutiny as it pursued its nuclear destiny. One bizarre consequence is the emergence of Japan as a greater nuclear threat to the region than North Korea.

Just over a decade from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, at the time of Eisenhower’s “atoms for peace,” Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission drew up its first plans. The 1967 Long-Term Nuclear Program already incorporated the fuel cycle and fast breeder program in them. By 2006, the Ministry of Economics, Trade, and Industry (METI)’s “New National Energy Policy” set the objective of turning Japan into a “nuclear state” (genshiryoku rikkoku). Nuclear power generation grew steadily as a proportion of the national grid, from 3 percent of total power in 1973 at the time of the first oil crisis to 26 percent by 2008 and around 29 percent today. The country’s basic energy policy calls for the ratio of nuclear, hydro and other renewables (nuclear the overwhelming one) to be nearly 50 per cent by 2030. Under the Basic Energy Plan of 2010, 9 new reactors were to be built by 2020 (none having been built since the 1970s in the wake of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl), and 14 by 2030, while operating levels of existing reactors were to be raised from 60 percent as of 2008 to 85 percent by 2020 and then 90 percent by 2030.7

The dream of eternal, almost limitless energy has inspired the imagination of generations of Japanese national bureaucrats. In the words of a panel at the Aquatom nuclear theme-park-science museum in Tsuruga, close to the Monju plutonium fast-breeder reactor,

“Japan is a poor country in natural resources … therefore Monju, a plutonium burning reactor, is necessary because plutonium can be used for thousands of years.”

Trillions of yen were channelled into nuclear research and development programs and additional vast sums appropriated to construct and run major nuclear complexes. If the Federation of Electric Power Companies estimate is even roughly correct, that the Rokkasho complex in northern Honshu will cost 19 trillion yen over the projected forty-year term of its use, that would make it Japan’s, if not the world’s, most expensive civil facility in history.

Japan is alone among non-nuclear weapon states in its pursuit of the full nuclear cycle, building plants to reprocess its reactor wastes, burning plutonium as part of its fuel mix (as at the Fukushima Dai-ichi’s No 3 Plant since late 2010), storing large volumes of “low-level” wastes, and desperately struggling to chart a way forward to fast-breeder technology, something so prodigiously difficult and expensive that the rest of the world has set it aside as a pipe-dream. At all stages: fuel preparation, reactor construction and operation, waste extraction, reprocessing, storage, its nuclear system was problematic long before the tsunami crashed into its Fukushima plant on March 3, 2011.

There are 54 reactors currently in operation, or were till March. At Fukushima the reactor cores may have survived intact, but the management practice of leaving highly toxic and long-lived wastes in ponds beside the actual reactor, has proven a terrible mistake. According to atomic specialist Robert Alvarez, such pools contain radioactivity between five and ten times greater than that of one reactor core, with one pond holding “more cesium-137 than was deposited by all nuclear weapons tests in the Northern Hemisphere combined” and “a major release of cesium-137 from a pool fire could render an area uninhabitable greater than that created by the Chernobyl accident.”8 Whether because of sloshing under the impact of the quake or leakage from structural collapse, the rods at several of the Fukushima plants were partially exposed for unknown periods, fires did burn, with unknown consequences, and the resumption of cooling using sea-water by fire-hose or helicopter bombing and ultimately by the reconnection of pumps has proven immensely difficult.9

Once the immediate crisis passes, these plants will have to be decontaminated and dismantled, an expensive, difficult, and time-consuming task that will take decades, while the electricity they once provided must be somehow substituted. Whether they can or will simply be cased in concrete like Chernobyl remains to be seen, but they will surely become a monument to the disastrous mistakes of the post-war Japanese nuclear plan.

Of the major complexes other than Fukushima, the most notorious are those at Kashiwazaki in Niigata and Hamaoka in Shizuoka. Kashiwazaki, with 7 reactors generating 8,000 MW, is the world’s largest nuclear generation plant. The 6.8 magnitude quake it experienced on 16 July 2007 was more than twice as strong as the design had allowed for and the site proved to be on a previously undetected fault line. Catastrophic breakdown did not occur, but multiple malfunctioning did, including burst pipes, fire, and radioactive leaks into sea and air. The Hamaoka complex, 190 kms southwest of Tokyo, has five reactors, which, like those at Kashiwazaki, sit on fault lines where the Eurasian, Pacific, Philippine and North American plates grind against each other and where experts predict a strong chance of a powerful quake some time in the near future. Company officials say the plant is designed to withstand a magnitude 8.5 earthquake, since that was believed to have been the most powerful ever known in the area. After Fukushima’s 9.0, however, the preconditions on which Hamaoka was based have collapsed. A Fukushima-level event here could force the evacuation of up to 30 million people.

Perhaps most controversial of the planned new reactor plants is that for two reactors to be built at Kaminoseki, population: 3,700, an exquisitely beautiful, national park site at the southern end of the Inland Sea about 80 kms from Hiroshima, one to commence operation in 2018 and the other in 2022. After nearly 30 years of attempts to start these works, blocked by fierce local resistance, especially on the part of the fishing community of Iwaishima, the island that faces the reactor site across about four kilometres of sea, preliminary forest clearing and sea refilling works began late in 2010. With fierce confrontation continuing at sea between fishing boats, canoes and kayaks on the part of the protesters and the power company’s ships, however, it is hard to imagine that after March 2011 the government will find the will to move in and crush the protesters. Indeed, the Governor of the prefecture has demanded work be halted (and in the wake of 11 March they have indeed been halted, at least temporarily).

Nuclear reactors generate large quantities of irradiated waste, which has to be either stored or reprocessed. Since 1992, high-level wastes have been reprocessed at plants at Sellafield in England and la Hague in Normandy in France, each shipment equivalent to about seventeen atomic bombs-worth of plutonium. The former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohammad Elbaradei saw reprocessing as so dangerous that it should only be done under the strictest of international supervision and appealed to Japan for a five-year freeze on all enrichment and reprocessing works. Japan dismissed his appeal, arguing that such a moratorium was applicable only to “new” projects, while Japan’s had been under way for decades.

Rokkasho, north of Fukushima in Aomori prefecture, is the world’s most intensive concentration of civilian nuclear energy facilities, including fuel processing, waste reprocessing, enrichment and waste storage. Its reprocessing unit is designed to convert eight hundred tons of spent fuel per annum, yielding each year about eight more tons (1,000 warheads-worth) of pure, weapons-usable plutonium. After many delays, reprocessing was conducted on a trial basis in 2006 but the facility has yet to commence full commercial operation. A second reprocessing plant at Tokaimura has been shut since 1999 when an accident at its experimental fast breeder showered hundreds with radiation and killed two workers. Consequently reactor wastes accumulate, much of them stored, like those at Fukushima, around the reactors from which they have been extracted.

Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plant, 2008. Photo: Kyodo

Even if Rokkasho’s reprocessing plant were to commence operation some time soon, it would make little more than a small dint in Japan’s accumulated and accumulating wastes, estimated at approximately 12,600 tonnes as of 2006. So Japan’s wastes, including separated plutonium (Japan possesses roughly one fifth of the world’s civil plutonium stocks), accumulate steadily, and will continue to do so even if or when the reprocessing proceeds according to plan.

Under current (to March 2011) plans, fluids containing low levels of radiation were to be piped several kilometres out into the Pacific Ocean for discharge, the standards for effluent control having been relaxed so that Rokkasho could discharge the equivalent of the nuclear wastes of 1,300 power stations, sending tritium into the sea at 7.2 times the levels of the recently closed Sellafield plant in Northern England or 2,800 times the level permitted for conventional reactors. Wastes from the infamous Sellafield plant are blamed for the devastation over decades of fish stocks across much of the Irish Sea and leukaemia levels in children 42 times the national average as far away as Carnarvon in Wales.

Other low-level wastes are held in 200-liter drums, both at nation-wide reactor sites and at the Rokkasho repository. Rokkasho’s projected eventual capacity is for three million drums in forty vast repositories, each containing 10,000 drums, destined eventually to be covered in soil, with something like a mountain built over them. After that, they must be closely guarded for at least 300 years. These repositories spread like giant poisonous mushrooms across the once beautiful backwater of rural Aomori prefecture.

Nuclear Wastes

High level wastes, vitrified and put in canisters, are returned to Rokkasho where they are to be stored initially for 30 to 50 years while their surface temperature slowly declines from around 500 degrees centigrade to 200 degrees centigrade, at which point it is planned to bury them too, in deeper (300 meter) underground caverns where their radiation will further dissipate over millennia.

The burning of mixed plutonium-uranium oxide fuel, as at Fukushima’s No 3 plant, constitutes another way to divert plutonium from “waste” into active use as part of the ”eternal” energy cycle. Fast-breeder reactors are another part of the solution to plutonium accumulation. They “breed” (i.e. produce more than they start with) very pure, “super-grade” plutonium. But the risk and the cost associated with this unproven technology is so great that Japan is among the few nations that now pursues it, at prodigious expense and with very limited success. The Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor (at Tsuruga, in Fukui Prefecture on the Japan Sea coast) had to be shut down in 1995 after a sodium leak and fire followed by evidence of negligence and cover-up. After ten years, the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that it could proceed, and a contract was awarded to Mitsubishi, but technical difficulties mean that it has yet to do so. Under current plans, the fast breeder would be commercialized by 2050, 70 years behind its original schedule, with Monju being replaced by an additional plant, at a cost of “about 1 trillion yen” around 2030.

For the country whose scientific and engineering skills are the envy of the world to have been guilty of the disastrous miscalculations and malpractices that have marked the past half-century – including data falsification and fabrication, the duping of safety inspectors, the belittling of risk and the failure to report criticality incidents and emergency shut-downs – and then to have been reduced to desperate attempts with fire hoses and buckets to prevent a catastrophic melt-down in 2011, raises large questions not just for Japan but for humanity. Could the rest of the world, for which the US government holds out the prospect of nuclear renaissance, do better?

The “nuclear state Japan” plans have plainly been shaken by the events of March 2011. It is too much to expect that they will be dropped, but the struggle between Japan’s nuclear bureaucracy, pursuing the chimera of limitless clean energy, global leadership, a solution to global warming, the maintenance of nuclear weapon defences (America’s “extended deterrent”), on the one hand, and Japan’s civil society, pursuing its agenda of social, ecological and economic sustainability, democratic decision making, abolition of nuclear weapons, phasing out of nuclear power projects, and reliance on renewable energy, zero emission, material recycling, and non-nuclear technologies enters a new phase after March 2011.

Gavan McCormack is a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal and an emeritus professor of Australian National University. He is the author, most recently, of Client State: Japan in the American Embrace (New York, 2007, Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing 2008) and Target North Korea: Pushing North Korea to the Brink of Nuclear Catastrophe (New York, 2004, Tokyo and Seoul 2006).

Notes

1 “La maison Japon se fissure – Le Japon nucléaire ou l’hubris puni,” Le Monde Diplomatique, Online, April 2011, link.

2 Meaning it was responsible for a major release of at least tens of thousands of terabecquels of radioactivity that was likely to cause “acute health effects” over a wide area.

3 Ishibashi Katsuhiko is one Japanese critic who has consistently made this criticism. See, most recently, his essay, “Masa ni ‘genpatsu shinsai’ da,” Sekai, May 2011, pp. 126-133.

4 Jun Hongo, “World right to slam nuke program mismanagement: expert,” Japan Times, 14 April 2011.

5 Shut down for nearly two years following damage in the Chuetsu earthquake of July 2007.

6 For a Japanese newspaper editorial in similar vein: “Shinsaigo ‘tei-ene’ shakai Nihon moderu wa kano da,” Mainichi shimbun, 16 April 2011.

7 The DPJ government announced on 29 March 2011 that the existing “Energy Basic Plan” would now have to be fundamentally reviewed, and that green sources of energy, including solar, would be part of the review. (“14 ki no genpatsu zosetsu, minaoshi, taiyoko nado jushi e,” Yomiuri shimbun, 29 March 2011. The debate, of course, is just beginning.

8 Robert Alvarez, “Meltdowns grow more likely at the Fukushima reactors,” Institute for Policy Studies, 13 March 2011.

9 For a catalogue of TEPCO’s and the Japanese government’s technical and other errors in handling the Fukushima disaster and earlier nuclear accidents, see Vaclav Smil, “Japan’s Crisis: Context and Outlook,” The American, April 16, 2011.

Articles on related subjects

Makiko Segawa, Fukushima Residents Seek Answers Amid Mixed Signals From Media, TEPCO and Government. Report from the Radiation Exclusion Zone

Adam Lebowitz, Blackout Nippon: Notes from 03/2011

David McNeill in Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture, Communities Struggle to Rebuild Shattered Lives on Japan’s Coast

F. Dalnoki-Veress and Arjun Makhijani, What Caused the High Cl-38 Radioactivity in the Fukushima Daiichi Reactor #1?

Kaneko Masaru, The Plan to Rebuild Japan: When You Can’t Go Back, You Move Forward. Outline of an Environmental Sound Energy Policy

Yuki Tanaka, The Atomic Bomb and “Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy”

See What’s Hot for many more articles.

The Christian Science Monitor noted recently:

Just as the BP oil spill one year ago heaped scrutiny on the United State’s Minerals Management Service, harshly criticized for lax drilling oversight and cozy ties with the oil industry, the nuclear crisis in Japan is shining a light on that nation’s safety practices.

***

[Russian nuclear accident specialist Iouli Andreev, who as director of the Soviet Spetsatom clean-up agency helped in the efforts 25 years ago to clean up Chernobyl ] has also accused the IAEA of being too close with corporations. “This is only a fake organization because every organization which depends on the nuclear industry – and the IAEA depends on the nuclear industry – cannot perform properly.”

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is no better.

As nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, Duane Peterson (president of VPIRG & coordinator for the campaign to retire Vermont Yankee nuclear plant), investigative reporter Harvey Wasserman and Paul Gallay (executive director of Riverkeeper) point out in a roundtable discussion:

  • The NRC won’t even begin conducting its earthquake study for Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York until after relicensing is complete in 2013, because the NRC doesn’t consider a big earthquake “a serious risk”
  • Congressman Markey has said there is a cover up. Specifically, Markey alleges that the head of the NRC told everyone not to write down risks they find from an earthquake greater than 6.0 (the plant was only built to survive a 6.0 earthquake)
  • The NRC is wholly captive to industry
  • The NRC has never turned down the request of a nuclear power plant to be relicensed in the United States. Relicensing is solely a paper process; there is no safety review.
  • The NRC’s assumptions regarding a worst-case accident are ridiculous. For example, the NRC assumes only 1% of the fuel could meltdown, while 70% melted down at Fukushima. The NRC assumes no loss of containment, while there has been a major loss of containment in reactors 1-3 (especially 2) at Fukushima.
  • “If there was a free market in energy, nuclear power would be over … immediately”. Nuclear plant owners can’t get insurance; they can only operate because the U.S. government provides insurance on the taxpayer dime. The government also granted a ridiculously low cap on liability
  • If we had no subsidies for nuclear, coal or oil, we’d have a clean energy economy right now
  • We have 4 reactors in California – 2 at San Onofre 2 at San Luis Obisbo – which are vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis.
  • No state or federal agency knows who would be in charge in case of an accident at Indian Point. It’s like the Keystone Cops

Watch live streaming video from deepakhomebase at livestream.com
Note: The videos appear to rotate, so if the nuclear roundtable is not playing at first, keep on watching, and it will eventually loop back.

The global economy and its recovery, and the living standards of millions of plain folks, are now at risk from the sudden rise in oil and commodity prices.

Gas at the pump is up, and going higher. Food prices are following.

The consequences are catastrophic for the global poor as their costs go up while their income doesn’t. It’s menacing American workers too, who in large part have not seen a meaningful raise since the days of Reagan (keeping it this way is clearly behind the current flurry of attacks on unions).

Already, unrest in the Middle East and many African countries is being blamed for these dramatic increases. It seems as if this threat to global stability is being largely ignored in our media, one that treats the oil business as just another mystical world of free market trading.

Why is it happening? Why all the volatility? Is oil getting scarcer, leading to price increases? Is the cost of food, similarly, a reflection of naturally increasing commodity prices?

While it’s true that natural disasters and droughts play some role in this unchecked price inflation, it also seems apparent that something else is attracting increasing attention, even if most of our media fails to explore what is a political time bomb while most political leaders shrug their shoulder and ignore it.

President Obama recently said there is nothing he can do about the hike in oil and food prices.

Critics say the problem is that government and media outlets alike refuse to recognize what’s really going on: unchecked speculation!

Not everyone buys into this suspicion. In fact, it is one of more intense subjects of debate in economics. Princeton University economist Paul Krugman pooh-poohs the impact of speculation counter posing the traditional argument that oil prices are set by supply and demand.

The Economist Magazine agrees, summing up its views with a pithy phrase, “Speculation does not drive the oil price. Driving does.”

Others, like oil industry analyst Michael Klare of Hampshire College in the US see demand outdistancing supply:

“Consider the recent rise in the price of oil just a faint and early tremor heralding the oilquake to come. Oil won’t disappear from international markets, but in the coming decades it will never reach the volumes needed to satisfy projected world demand, which means that, sooner rather than later, scarcity will become the dominant market condition.”

Usually you hear this debate in scholarly circles or read it in political tracts where orthodox views collide with more alarmist projections about the oil supply “peaking.”

But officials in the Third World don’t see the subject as academic. Reserve Bank of India Governor Duvvuri Subbarao charges “Speculative movements in commodity derivative markets are also causing volatility in prices,” he said.

The World Bank is meeting on this issue this week because it is seen as a matter of “utmost urgency.”

“The price of food is a matter of life and death for the very poorest people in the world,” said Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide, the international humanitarian agency, ahead of his participation at The Open Forum on Food at World Bank headquarters.

He adds, “…with many families spending up to 80% of their income on basic foods to survive, even the slightest increase in price can have devastating effects and become a crises for the poorest.”

Journalist Josh Clark argues on the website “How Stuff Works” that much of the oil speculation is rooted in the financial crisis, “The next time you drive to the gas station, only to find prices are still sky high compared to just a few years ago, take notice of the rows of foreclosed houses you’ll pass along the way. They may seem like two parts of a spell of economic bad luck, but high gas prices and home foreclosures are actually very much interrelated. Before most people were even aware there was an economic crisis, investment managers abandoned failing mortgage-backed securities and looked for other lucrative investments. What they settled on was oil futures.”

The debate within the industry is more subdued, perhaps to avoid a public fight between suppliers and distributors who don’t want to rock the boat. But some officials like Dan Gilligan, president of the Petroleum Marketers Association, representing 8,000 retail and wholesale suppliers has spoken out.

He argues, “Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the oil contracts in the futures markets are now held by speculative entities. Not by companies that need oil, not by the airlines, not by the oil companies. But by investors who profit money from their speculative positions.”

Now, a prominent and popular market analyst is throwing caution to the wind by blowing the whistle on speculators.

Finance expert Phil Davis runs a website and widely read newsletter to monitor stocks and options trades. He’s a professional’s professional, whose grandfather taught him to buy stocks when he was just ten years old.

His website is Phil’s Stock World, and stocks are his world. He’s subtitled the site, “High Finance for Real People.”

He is usually a sober and calm analyst, not known as maverick or dissenter.

When I met Phil the other night, he was on fire, enraged by what he believes is the scam of the century that no one wants to talk about, because so many powerful people armed with legions of lawyers want unquestioning allegiance, and will sue you into silence.

He studies the oil/food issue carefully and has concluded, “It’s a scam folks, it’s nothing but a huge scam and it’s destroying the US economy as well as the entire global economy but no one complains because they are ‘only’ stealing about $1.50 per gallon from each individual person in the industrialized world.”

“It’s the top 0.01% robbing the next 39.99% – the bottom 60% can’t afford cars anyway (they just starve quietly to death, as food prices climb on fuel costs). If someone breaks into your car and steals a $500 stereo, you go to the police, but if someone charges you an extra $30 every time you fill up your tank 50 times a year ($1,500) you shut up and pay your bill. Great system, right?”

Phil is just getting started, as he delves into the intricacies of the NYMEX market that handles these trades:

“The great thing about the NYMEX is that the traders don’t have to take delivery on their contracts, they can simply pay to roll them over to the next settlement price, even if no one is actually buying the barrels. That’s how we have developed a massive glut of 677 Million barrels worth of contracts in the front four months on the NYMEX and, come rollover day – that will be the amount of barrels “on order” for the front 3 months, unless a lot barrels get dumped at market prices fast.”

“Keep in mind that the entire United States uses ‘just’ 18M barrels of oil a day, so 677M barrels is a 37-day supply of oil. But, we also make 9M barrels of our own oil and import ‘just’ 9M barrels per day, and 5M barrels of that is from Canada and Mexico who, last I heard, aren’t even having revolutions. So, ignoring North Sea oil Brazil and Venezuela and lumping Africa in with OPEC, we are importing 3Mbd from unreliable sources and there is a 225-day supply under contract for delivery at the current price or cheaper plus we have a Strategic Petroleum Reserve that holds another 727 Million barrels (full) plus 370M barrels of commercial storage in the US (also full) which is another 365.6 days of marginal oil already here in storage in addition to the 225 days under contract for delivery. “

These contracts for oil outnumber their actual delivery, a sign of speculation and market manipulation, as oil companies win government authorizations for wells but then don’t open them for exploration or exploitation. It’s all a game of manipulating oil supply to keep prices up. And no one seems to be regulating it.

What Phil sees is a giant but intricate game of market manipulation and rigging by a cartel—not just an industry—that actually has loaded tankers criss-crossing the oceans but only landing when the price is right.

“There is nothing that the conga-line of tankers between here and OPEC would like to do more than unload an extra 277 Million barrels of crude at $112.79 per barrel (Friday’s close on open contracts and price) but, unfortunately, as I mentioned last week, Cushing, Oklahoma (Where oil is stored) is already packed to the gills with oil and can only handle 45M barrels if it started out empty so it is, very simply, physically impossible for those barrels to be delivered. This did not, however, stop 287M barrels worth of May contracts from trading on Friday and GAINING $2.49 on the day. “

He asks, “Who is buying 287,494 contracts (1,000 barrels per contract) for May delivery that can’t possibly be delivered for $2.49 more than they were priced the day before? These are the kind of questions that you would think regulators would be asking – if we had any.”

The TV news magazine 60 Minutes spoke with Dan Gilligan who noted that, investors don’t actually take delivery of the oil. “All they do is buy the paper, and hope that they can sell it for more than they paid for it. Before they have to take delivery.”

He says they make their fortunes “on the volatility that exists in the market. They make it going up and down.”

Payam Sharifi, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, notes that even as the rise in oil prices threatens the world economy, there is almost total silence on the danger:

“This issue ought to be discussed again with a renewed interest – but the media and much of the populace at large have simply accepted high food and oil prices as an unavoidable fact of life, without any discussion of the causes of these price rises aside from platitudes.”

What can we do about that?

News Dissector Danny Schechter made the film Plunder The Crime of Our Time (Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com) on the financial crisis as a crime story. He wrote an introduction to the recent reissue of a classic two-volume expose of John D. Rockefeller’s The Standard Oil Company, one of the top ten works top works of investigative reporting in American history. (Cosimo Books) Comments to [email protected]

Saudi Protests Against Bahrain Invasion, Repression

April 18th, 2011 by Bill Van Auken

Hundreds protested in Saudi Arabia Friday demanding an end to the Saudi occupation of Bahrain and the release of the dictatorial kingdom’s political prisoners.

It was the second day of mass protests, which have been concentrated in the predominantly Shiite eastern region of the country, the center of Saudi Arabia’s oilfields and refineries.

Friday’s demonstrations also saw protesters rally outside the interior ministry in Riyadh in support of individuals they referred to as the “forgotten political prisoners,” who in some cases have been imprisoned for as long as 16 years without charges or trials for daring to demand political rights.

The larger demonstrations took place in the eastern city of Qatif and nearby villages, where demonstrators marched through the streets carrying banners and candles to denounce the Saudi military’s intervention in neighboring Bahrain and to demand the release of over 100 people, including children, who have been arrested in the area during protests over the last month.

In the village of Awwamiya, near Qatif, scores of women demonstrated, chanting for the release of political prisoners and denouncing the regime’s suppression of women’s rights. The monarchy has rejected widespread demands that women be allowed to vote and run in municipal elections set for next September.

While massed security forces closed in on the demonstrators, there were no reported clashes.

“Bahrain, we will respond to your call,” the demonstrators chanted in solidarity with Bahrain’s predominantly Shia population, which is facing intense repression, with scores having been killed, at least 800 imprisoned, and several detainees tortured to death. The ruling Sunni Al-Khalifa monarchy has seized the only opposition newspaper and on Thursday moved to outlaw the largest political group in the country, Al Wefaq, together with another Shiite political formation.

After a tepid declaration by the State Department that Washington would “welcome” the Bahraini regime not outlawing the two organizations, the announcement of the ban was removed from the web site of the official Bahraini news agency. Members of the groups, however, say that the repression against them continues.

The Obama administration’s concerns over the internal situation in Saudi Arabia and the growing crisis throughout the region were underscored this week with the visit to Riyadh by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who held talks with Saudi King Abdullah Wednesday. The discussion followed by barely a week a similar visit to the Saudi capital by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

“The discussions highlighted the importance of the US-Saudi partnership rooted in strong historical ties and shared interests,” an administration spokesman said. The statement included not a word about the Saudi participation in the crushing of the popular protests in Bahrain, much less about the internal repression in Saudi Arabia itself.

While loudly declaring its “humanitarian” concerns as it and its NATO allies pursue regime change in Libya by military means, the administration has issued no condemnation since the Saudi army rolled across the 16-mile causeway linking the oil-rich kingdom to Bahrain on March 14, initiating the brutal crackdown.

Speaking this week at the US-Islamic World Forum in Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed that “a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t make sense in such a diverse region at such a fluid time.” She mentioned Bahrain only briefly, celebrating “a decades-long friendship with Bahrain that we expect to continue long into the future.”

As in Libya, it is strategic interests, not human rights, that drive US policy. Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, providing a principal platform for the projection of Washington’s military power in the Persian Gulf. For its part, Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy has long been a strategic ally of US imperialism and, as the world’s largest oil exporter, is the one country capable of boosting production to make up for crises elsewhere and thereby prevent an uncontrolled spiraling of fuel prices.

Washington also sees Saudi Arabia as a bulwark against Iranian influence in the region. Thus it loudly condemns human rights violations in Iran, while turning a blind eye to the merciless repression carried out by the Saudi monarchy.

These interests also dictate the agenda of the mass media, which has largely blacked out the protests in Saudi Arabia as well as the brutal crackdown in Bahrain.

The Saudi monarchy has sought to defuse social and political tensions by extending a multibillion-dollar social aid pact and by intensifying repression. In February, King Abdullah pledged $36 billion in benefits, including a 15 percent pay hike for public employees and increased aid for students and the unemployed. This was followed by the promise of another $58 billion for education, health care and infrastructure.

The systemic discrimination against the Shia minority is a major catalyst for unrest in the eastern province. And the attempt by Bahrain’s ruling dynasty to falsely cast the mass protests as a sectarian Shiite revolt has deepened tensions.

The country’s highest religious figure, the Grand Mufti, has issued a religious edict branding protest as “un-Islamic” and ordered 1.5 million copies of it printed up. The so-called fatwa calls for “strengthening cohesion and affinity.”

But there are growing indications that the unrest in Saudi Arabia is being driven by intense social and economic contradictions that affect the Sunni majority as well.

While Saudi Arabia’s daily production of some 8.3 million barrels of crude supports a GDP per capita of about $24,000 a year, the overwhelming share of the wealth is monopolized by the House of Saud and its 6,000 princes.

The official unemployment rate is 11 percent, not counting underemployment and not to mention the large numbers of women who are excluded from the labor market. For young people—60 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population is under the age of 30—conditions are far worse. The unemployment rate among 20- to 24-year-olds is close to 40 percent.

Large numbers of well-educated graduates cannot find work, and many of them are closely following the revolutionary upheavals throughout the region.

In a country where all public protests and expressions of dissent are outlawed, there have been increasing reports of workers’ protests over jobs and income.

On March 13, over 100 Saudis staged a rare sit-in in front of Saudi Telecom in the capital of Riyadh, demanding salary increases and improved working conditions. The workers demanded the same 15 percent raise that King Abdullah decreed for government employees last month.

And on April 10, scores of unemployed university graduates and literacy teachers carried out protests both in Jeddah and Riyadh. The actions had been organized on Facebook.

In Jeddah, the protest escalated into physical clashes between placard-waving teachers and police at the Ministry of Civil Service’s provincial office. The teachers were demanding better wages and that their temporary jobs be made permanent.

Unemployed university graduates gathered outside the Education Ministry’s offices in Jedda and Riyadh to demand jobs. Among them were young men who said they had not been able to find a job since 2003.

Meanwhile, Saudi oppositionists launched a campaign for political prisoners with the posting of a 10-minute YouTube video entitled “Saudis Missing,” denouncing the imprisonment of thousands of Saudis for political reasons based on sham trials or no trials at all. The video includes interviews with family members of Saudi activists, some of whom were rounded up in 2007 at a meeting in Jeddah and are still being held without trial.

VIDEO: Libya Campaign: The Longer the Fighting, the Better?

April 18th, 2011 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Libya in face of Humanitarian Imperialism

April 18th, 2011 by Jean Bricmont

Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan : have the advocates of intervention in Libya not learnt the lesson ? Jean Bricmont, who wrote a book about humanitarian imperialism, tells us why the right to interfere is incompatible with world peace, and that it goes against humanitarian principles. Unless, of course, those principles are just an excuse.



Interview : Grégoire Lalieu
 
Can you remind us of what humanitarian imperialism consists of ?
 
It is an ideology which aims to justify military interference against sovereign countries in the name of democracy and Human Rights. The motive is always the same : a population is the victim of a dictator, so we must act. Then all the usual references are trotted out : the Second World War, the war with Spain, and so on. The aim being to sell the argument that an armed intervention is necessary. This is what happened in Kosovo, Iraq or Afghanistan.
 
And now comes Libya’ s turn.
 
There is a difference here because a United Nations Security Council resolution makes it possible. But this resolution was passed against the principles of the Charter of the United Nations themselves. Indeed, I see no external threat in the Libyan conflict. Although the notion of the « responsibility to protect » populations had been evoked, many short cuts were taken. Besides, there is no proof that Gaddafi massacres his people just for the sole purpose of slaughtering them. It is a bit more complicated than that : it is an armed insurrection, and I know not of any government that would not repress an insurrection of this kind. Of course, there are collateral damage and civilian casualties. But if the United States knows a way to avoid such damage, then it should go and tell the Israelis about it, and apply it themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is also no doubt that coalition bombings will cause civilian casualties.

From a strictly legal point of view, I think the U.N.S.C. resolution is questionable. It is, in fact, the result of years of lobbying for the recognition of the right to interfere, which proves here to be legitimized.
 
And yet, many – even among the parties of the left – deemed it necessary to intervene in Libya in order to stop the massacre. Do you think it is an error of judgment ?
 
Yes, I do, and for several reasons. First of all, this campaign ushers in the reign of the arbitrary. Indeed, the Libyan conflict is not exceptional. There are many other conflicts anywhere in the world whether it may be in Gaza, in Bahrain, or in the Congo, which happened some years ago. As for the latter, it occurred within a context of foreign aggression on the part of Rwanda and Burundi. The enforcement of the international law would have saved millions of lives but it was not done. Why not ?
 
Besides, if we apply the underlying principles of interference behind the aggression against Libya, it means that anyone can intervene anywhere they want to. Imagine that the Russians intervene in Bahrain or the Chinese in Yemen : the world would be a general and ongoing war. Therefore one major feature of the right to interfere is the infringement of standard international law. And if we had to change international law to new laws justifying the right to interfere, it would result in a war of all against all. This is an argument to which the advocates of the right to interfere never give an answer.
 
And lastly, such interventions strengthen what I call the « barricade effect » : all the countries in the sights of the United States will start to feel threatened and will seek to increase their armaments. We all remember what happened with Saddam. Moreover, Gaddafi had said to the Arab League : « We have just lost a member state of the league and none of you have done anything. But it can happen to you too, because even though you are all U.S. allies, so was Saddam in the past. » Now the same thing is repeating itself with Gaddafi and the threat which hangs over many states is likely to relaunch the arms race. Russia, which is not an unarmed country, has already announced that it would reinforce its troops. But it can go even further : if Libya had the nuclear weapon, it would have never been attacked. Actually, this is why North Korea is untouchable. Therefore, the left which supports the intervention in Libya should definitely realize that humanitarian interference is inevitably going to relaunch the arms race and lead to long-term wars.
 
 
And yet, wouldn’t the armed intervention against Gaddafi be a lesser evil ?
 
One has to consider the consequences. Now that the Western forces are involved, they will obviously have to go all the way, overthrow Gaddafi and bring the rebels to power. Then what is going to happen ? Libya seems to be divided. Is the West going to occupy the country and embark on an endless war similar to the ones in Iraq or in Afghanistan ?
 
Be that as it may, let us suppose that all goes well : the members of the coalition remove Gaddafi in a few days, the rebels take power, and the Libyan people is united. Everyone is happy and then what ? I do not think the West will go : « Well, we did it because we are nice people and fond of Human Rights. Now you can do whatever you please. » What is going to happen if the new Libyan government is too Muslim-like or does not properly limit migration flows ? Do you think the West will let them do ? It is obvious that after the intervention, the new Libyan government will be caught up in the interests of the West.
 
 
If military intervention is not the solution, then what is ?
 
It would have been better if we had honestly attempted all peaceful solutions. It might not have worked but here, there is a blatant intention to reject these solutions. And by the way, this is an abiding feature of humanitarian wars. Concerning Kosovo, there were very detailed propositions on the part of Serbia in order to come to a peaceful solution but they were rejected. The West has even imposed conditions that made any negotiations impossible, such as the occupation of Serbia by N.A.T.O. forces. In Afghanistan, the Taliban proposed to try Bin Laden by an international court if they are provided with evidence of his involvement in the W.T.C. attacks. The U.S. refused it and bombed the country. In Iraq, Saddam had accepted the return of the United Nations inspectors as well as many extremely restrictive conditions. But it was never enough. In Libya, Gaddafi accepted a cease-fire and proposed to have international observers sent out there. The observers were not sent and it was said that Gaddafi did not respect the cease fire. The West also rejected Chavez’s offer to mediate in Libya, even though it was backed up by many Latino countries and the Organization of African Unity as well.
 
In that connection, I am angry when I hear left-wingers in Europe expose the horrible Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas which supports dictator Gaddafi. They got it all wrong ! The leaders in power in Latin America have important responsibilities. They are not just small leftists chattering in their corner. And the major issue for these leaders is the interference of the U.S. : the less it can do whatever it pleases, wherever it pleases, the better it will be for all those countries which try to free themselves from tutelage by state power, and also for the whole world.
 
 
Does the systematic rejection of peaceful solutions mean that humanitarian interference is an excuse ?
 
Yes it does, but if it works well with the intellectuals, I am more doubtful about the reaction of the peoples of Europe. Will they support their leaders during the aggression against Gaddafi ? People consider the wars for security to be the most legitimate ones : for instance, if there is a threat against our populations or our way of life, etc. But in the context of an overall climate of islamophobia (that I disapprove, but it does exist) here and in France, you try explaining that we are fighting in Cyrenaica for rebels whom we see screaming « Allah U Akbar ». This is contradictory !

At the political level, most parties support the intervention, even the parties of the left. The most moderate ones only supported the implementation of a no-fly zone, but if Gaddafi sends his tanks to Benghazi, what are we to do ? During the Second World War, the Germans lost quite quickly control of the air space but they held out for several years yet. Insofar as the objective is to overthrow Gaddafi, the moderates should have suspected that it would go even further than the establishment of a no-fly zone.

Unable to take genuine and alternative stands, the left finds itself trapped by the logic of humanitarian interference and is compelled to support Sarkozy. If the war goes well and quickly, the position of the French President will undoubtedly be secure for the 2012 presidential elections, thanks to the left which would have contributed to it. The left, unable to assume a coherent attitude against wars, is compelled to tag along behind the interventionist policy.
 
And what if the war does not go well ?
 
It is regrettable, but the only French party that set against the intervention in Libya as regards French interests is the National Front. It particularly alluded to human migration flows and took occasion to distinguish itself from the U.M.P (Union for a Popular Movement) or the S.P. (Socialist Party) by claiming that it had never collaborated with Gaddafi. If the war in Libya does not go according to plan, it will benefit the National Front for the French presidential elections in 2012.
 
 
If humanitarian interference is just an excuse, then what is the objective of this war ?
 
The uprisings in the Arab world surprised the Westerners, which were not well informed enough about what was happening in North Africa and the Middle-East. I do not dispute that there are good experts on the issue, but they are seldom listened to at some level of the government, and by the way, they are complaining about it. So now, the new governments in Egypt and Tunisia might not align themselves with the interests of the West any longer, and consequently become hostile to Israel.
 
To take control of the area and protect Tel Aviv, the West is likely willing to get rid of governments that are already hostile to Israel and the West. The three main ones are Iran, Syria and Libya. The latter, since it is the weaker one, is attacked first. 
 
Can it work ?
 
The West longed to rule the world but we can see since 2003 with the Iraq fiasco that it cannot. In the past, the United States took the liberty to overthrow rulers that it had brought to power, such as Ngô Dinh Diêm in South Vietnam in the 1960s. But nowadays, Washington cannot do that any longer. In Kosovo, the United States and Europe have to compromise with a Mafia-like regime. In Afghanistan, people say that Karzai is corrupt, but they have no other option. In Iraq, they also have to accept a government they are far from being fully pleased with.
 
The problem will certainly arise in Libya too. An Iraqi once told me : « In this part of the world, there are no liberals in the Western sense of the word, apart from a few rather isolated intellectuals. » Since the West cannot rely on rulers who share its ideas and who fully defend its interests, it tries to impose dictators through force. But it obviously creates a discrepancy with people’s desires.
 
Besides, this approach proves to be a failure and people should not be fooled by what is occurring.
 
The West, which thought it could be in control of the Arab world with puppets such as Ben Ali and Mubarak, would suddenly think : « We had it all wrong, now we are going to support democracy in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.»? It is all the more absurd since one major demand of the Arab revolts is the right to sovereignty. In other words, no interference !

The West has to relinquish its desire for world domination : the Arab world, just like Africa and the Caribbean, does not belong to it. Actually, the regions in which the West most interfere are the less developed ones. If their sovereignty is respected, those regions will be able to develop, just like Asia did, and certainly so will Latin America. The policy of interference is a failure for everyone.
 
 
Then what is the alternative ?
 
First of all, one has to know that the policy of interference requires a huge military budget. Without the support of the United States and its outrageous military budget, France and Great Britain might not have become involved in it. And it is much less the case for Belgium. But all these means which are put at their disposal are not heaven-sent. The budget is based on loans from China that lead to U.S. deficits and all kinds of economic issues. We rarely think about it. Moreover, we are constantly told that there is no money for education, research, pensions, etc. And, all of a sudden, a huge sum comes out of the blue to wage war in Libya. And it is a limitless sum since no one knows how long the war will last ! In Afghanistan, money is already spent fruitlessly. There is a need to adopt a new political approach and to me, Switzerland is a good example. Its military budget is only devoted to the protection of the Swiss territory. The Swiss have a coherent non-interventionist policy because, as a matter of policy, the Swiss army cannot leave the country. You can say that Switzerland is letting Gaddafi kill the insurgents, nevertheless, it has never committed any genocide nor any other massacre, even though we can criticize its policy on other matters (banks or immigration). And secondly, if all the countries followed the example of Switzerland for the reasons I stated earlier, the world would be much better.
 
Wars and embargoes have always had disastrous consequences. I think the best alternative is to cooperate with all the countries of the world regardless of their systems of government. Through trade (not the arms trade of course), ideas spread and things can evolve, without wars. We can of course discuss its forms : fair trade, ecological trade, etc. Nevertheless, trade is a much less bloody alternative as opposed to sanctions and embargoes, which are the soft version of humanitarian wars.
 
 
Translated from the French by Sheila Carby for Investig’Action
 
Source : www.michelcollon.info

Imperialist Powers Prepare Escalation of Libyan War

April 18th, 2011 by Patrick Martin

The United States, Britain and France are moving towards a significant escalation of the war against Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, with leaders of the US-backed rebellion calling for the deployment of ground troops from the NATO powers, as well as stepped-up bombing.

The impetus for escalation comes from the evident failure of the initial intervention, which combined heavy NATO bombing with an offensive by the US-backed rebel forces based in eastern Libya, with their headquarters and political center in Benghazi.

Over the weekend, Gaddafi’s forces continued to hold the military initiative in both eastern and western Libya. In the east, heavy shelling of the key crossroads city of Ajdabiya sent “hundreds” of anti-Gaddafi fighters into headlong retreat, according to press reports. At the same time, Gaddafi’s forces tightened their siege of Misrata, the only major city in western Libya under opposition control, pushing into the center of the city.

Press reports from Ajdabiya suggested a major setback for the anti-Gaddafi forces. The New York Times reported on its web site late Sunday, “Scores of rebel pickup trucks and other vehicles could be seen leaving the eastern approaches of Ajdabiya, headed toward the rebel capital of Benghazi, about 85 miles north. Explosions could be heard in the city… Many of the fighters were clearly jittery and frightened.”

Misrata is Libya’s third-largest city, with a population of nearly 600,000. Anti-Gaddafi forces seized control of it when the Libyan rebellion first broke out in mid-February. It is now being attacked from the west, south and east by Gaddafi’s troops, while opposition forces cling to a zone along the coast, including the port, their last lifeline to the outside world.

A spokesman for the city council in Misrata appealed Saturday for NATO to send troops to defend the port, according to the Washington Post. Much of the city has been reduced to rubble by incessant shelling and rocketing, and Gaddafi’s forces have been hit repeatedly by NATO warplanes.

Misrata has replaced Benghazi, the rebel capital in eastern Libya, as the main focus of a propaganda campaign to justify further imperialist military intervention on “humanitarian” grounds. Obama invoked the supposed danger of mass slaughter in Benghazi as the pretext for beginning the bombing of Libya last month. Now the same type of argument is being made in relation to Misrata.

In their joint letter published Friday, Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy described the Gaddafi government’s attack on Misrata as a “medieval siege…to strangle its population into submission.”

Government spokesmen and media pundits in the US, Britain and France have openly compared the city to Srebrenica, the Bosnian town where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces in a single day in 1995.

The analogy is ludicrous on many levels, not least of which is the scale of the bloodshed. According to the Washington Post—which can hardly be accused of pro-Gaddafi bias—“Doctors reached through Skype said five people died in Misrata on Saturday, bringing the death toll there to 36 in the past three days alone and at least 276 since the siege began in late February.”

There is no doubt that conditions are terrible in Misrata; that is the nature of civil war. But the claims of mass murder and even genocide have a political purpose: to justify support for the US-NATO war against Libya, particularly from liberal and “left” organizations in the United States and Western Europe. These groups have shifted openly and decisively into the camp of imperialism, abandoning the “antiwar” posture they adopted during the Bush administration’s war in Iraq.

In the US, the main support for the war in Libya comes from congressional Democrats and liberal media outlets like the New York Times, now allied with the remnant of discredited neoconservatives who spearheaded the invasion of Iraq.

In Europe, the German Greens, the French New Anti-Capitalist Party and the British pseudo-lefts in the orbit of the Labour Party have all fervently backed military intervention to overthrow Gaddafi, with the Greens denouncing German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her reluctance to commit German troops and warplanes.

On Friday, the US and British media gave extensive coverage to a claim by the US-based Human Rights Watch that Gaddafi’s forces were using cluster bombs in Misrata. A spokesman for the regime in Tripoli said that Libya did not even possess cluster bombs in its military inventory.

The charge is completely hypocritical, given that the United States has flatly rejected international appeals to ban cluster bombs, which spread thousands of tiny bomblets when they explode, each one capable of killing or maiming people.

Cluster bombs were widely used by the US forces in Iraq and by the Israeli military during its invasion of south Lebanon in 2006. There are hundreds if not thousands of instances where Iraqi and Lebanese children have been killed or wounded after picking up the bomblets, which can remain embedded in the soil for years.

Again, the primary purpose of such charges is war propaganda. As the British newspaper The Observer wrote Sunday: “Evidence that Gaddafi’s forces are now targeting cluster bombs on civilian neighbourhoods of Misrata is likely to fuel calls for accelerated action from NATO…”

Another red herring is the sudden show of concern over the fate of an estimated 10,000 foreign workers trapped in Misrata by the fighting. According to the International Organization for Migration, these include 3,000 from Egypt, 3,000 from Niger, 1,000 from Chad and 800 from Ghana. A Greek ferry took 1,200 of these refugees to safety on Saturday.

But as a report in the British daily The Independent—also a decidedly pro-war publication—pointed out, “it was not just the [Gaddafi] regime that these men and their families had grown to fear. Some of the inmates of Ghafr Ahmed camp, mainly from Egypt, sub-Saharan Africa and Bangladesh, had lost their lives in clashes with the revolutionary forces who control parts of this city under siege. Others had been arrested and accused of being mercenaries.”

Two refugees were shot dead by rebel fighters when they protested conditions in the camp. Patrick Kwesi of Ghana, who had been working as a welder for an oil company, told the newspaper: “These revolutionaries would not listen to us. They just opened fire, a man near me was shot in the chest; he was not doing anything. We are being treated badly by both sides. We cannot defend ourselves and these Misrata people know this.”

British Prime Minister Cameron raised the issue of Misrata in an interview over the weekend with Sky Television. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Colonel Gaddafi is still intent on murdering people in Misrata and taking control of that large city and also pushing towards Benghazi, where I’m sure, if he ever got there, there would be a bloodbath.”

Aside from the remarkably hypothetical character of the claims—all couched in terms of the need for preventive action against what Gaddafi “will” or “might” do in the future—one could argue with equal justice that the anti-Gaddafi forces are “still intent on murdering people in Sirte” (Gaddafi’s home city, which the rebels failed to take during their offensive last month) and “also pushing towards Tripoli” where “if they ever got there, there would be a bloodbath.”

There is absolutely no reason to take sides with the “rebels” against the Gaddafi dictatorship. They represent not a genuine revolt from below, but the subversion of such a revolt by a collection of CIA agents, former Al Qaeda militants, and ex-officials of the Gaddafi regime—some of whom were singing the praises of Gaddafi as the “Brother Leader” only days before they enlisted in the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council.

The real reason for the renewed drumbeat of “humanitarian” propaganda is the debacle of the imperialist intervention so far. President Obama acknowledged Friday in an interview with the Associated Press that the NATO intervention in the two-month-old civil war had produced “a stalemate.”

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet raised the prospect that a new UN Security Council resolution could be necessary to realize the goal of ousting Gaddafi, set out in the joint statement by Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy. “I think that three major countries saying the same thing is important to the UN,” he said. “Perhaps one day the Security Council will adopt a resolution.”

French officials have repeatedly called for reinforcement of the NATO air campaign, either by deploying additional planes from countries which have not been participating, or by a return of the US warplanes that spearheaded the initial assault but have since been put on standby status.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post, in an editorial Sunday, denounced the Obama administration’s policy as incoherent and counterproductive, and called for a major escalation of the bombing, particularly the deployment of AC-130 and A-10 ground attack planes against Gaddafi’s troops, tanks and artillery.

Doublespeak, newspeak and more. A top government official forced to retract his report that the Prime minister said Fukushima will be permanently uninhabitable. Milk from Fukushima allowed back on store shelves with record levels of radiation being detected in food from the area. After WHO warns real risk is radiation in food supply and Fukushima upgraded to same level as Chernobyl, WHO says there is no need for new public health measures.

Japan Rewrites History Forcing Top Official To Retract Statement Fukushima Will Remain Permanently Uninhabitable.

Japanese media is reporting that Government has forced a top official to retract his report about comment the Prime Minister of Japan made behind closed doors.

A top Japanese Cabinet adviser revealed to the press that the Prime Minister said that the areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant would not be inhabitable for a long period of time.

Apparently the comment made behind closed doors was not supposed to be made public and the official has been forced to retract the report and Prime Minister denies ever making the comment.

Edano apologizes over Kan’s reported remark

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has apologized to the public over media reports about the long-term inhabitability of areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

An adviser to the Cabinet, Kenichi Matsumoto, at first told reporters on Wednesday that the Prime Minister remarked that areas around the nuclear plant will be inhabitable over a long period. He later retracted his comment and the Prime Minister himself also denied making such a statement.

But the reports have angered local leaders, including the Fukushima governor.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Edano reiterated that Kan never made such remarks.

But Edano said it is regrettable that the reports have caused concern to residents who have evacuated from around the plant.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 16:12 +0900 (JST)

Source:NHK

In related news food from the area surrounding the power plant is now showing high levels of nuclear radiation from the plant.

High radioactivity detected in fish, vegetables

The health ministry has detected radioactivity above the legal limit in fish caught off Fukushima Prefecture and 11 kinds of vegetables grown in the prefecture.

The ministry says it found 12,500 becquerels per kilogram, or 25 times the limit, of radioactive cesium in small fish called sand lances caught off Iwaki City, south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Wednesday. It also discovered 12,000 becquerels, or 6 times the limit, of radioactive iodine in the fish.

On April 7th, sand lances caught off the city were already found to be contaminated with radioactive cesium in excess of the limit. Sand lances caught off Ibaraki Prefecture, south of Fukushima, were also found to be polluted with the radioactive substance.

The central government says sand lances are currently not being sold as fishing cooperatives in the 2 prefectures are not in operation.

Radioactivity was also detected on 11 kinds of vegetables sampled in Fukushima on Monday.

Authorities detected 1,960 becquerels per kilogram, or 4 times the legal limit, of cesium on Japanese parsley, known as Seri, grown in Soma City.

On Wednesday, the government banned the shipment of some shiitake mushrooms grown outdoors in eastern Fukushima after detecting radioactivity above the legal limit.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 07:28 +0900 (JST)

Source: NHK

Let’s not forget that the WHO has said the real risk in Japan is radiation tainting the food.

WHO: Real risk if radiation contaminates food

Posted: Mar 21, 2011 11:27 AM EDT
Updated: Mar 24, 2011 12:48 AM EDT

By FRANK JORDANS
Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) – Japan needs to act quickly and ban food sales from areas around the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant if food there has excessive levels of radiation, the World Health Organization said Monday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that radiation in some Japanese milk and vegetables was “significantly higher” than levels Japan allows for consumption, and Japanese authorities are expected to decide by Tuesday on a comprehensive plan to limit food shipments from affected areas.

A spokesman for the Geneva-based U.N. health agency said contaminated food poses a greater long-term risk to residents’ health than radioactive particles in the air, which disperse within days. It was the strongest statement yet from the world body on radiation risks to ordinary people, not nuclear workers.

“They’re going to have to take some decisions quickly in Japan to shut down and stop food being used completely from zones which they feel might be affected,” Gregory Hartl told The Associated Press . “Repeated consumption of certain products is going to intensify risks, as opposed to radiation in the air that happens once and then the first time it rains there’s no longer radiation in the air.”

The government has already stopped shipments of milk from one area and spinach from another, and said it found contamination on two more vegetables – canola and chrysanthemum greens – and in three more prefectures. On Sunday, the Health Ministry also advised a village in Fukushima prefecture not to drink tap water because it contained radioactive iodine. It stressed, however, that the amounts posed no health threat.

[...]

Source: NBC/KNDO/KNDU

Shockingly, even with the reports of high levels of radioactivity in the food, Japan is allowing milk from the Fukushima disaster area to be sold to unsuspecting consumers.

Fukushima-produced milk returns to stores

With Record High Levels Of Radiation Detected In Fukushima Food Japan Allows Fukushima Milk Back In Stores To Be Sold To Unsuspecting Consumers

With Record High Levels Of Radiation Detected In Fukushima Food Japan Allows Fukushima Milk Back In Stores To Be Sold To Unsuspecting Consumers

Milk from farms in inland regions of Fukushima Prefecture has returned to supermarket shelves after clearing weeks of safety checks for radiation.

The shipment of raw milk from the prefecture was banned in late March in the wake of problems at the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

But the restriction was lifted last Friday for farms in 7 cities and towns in the Aizu region, over 100 kilometers west of the damaged plant. The move came after three separate tests found that milk produced there contained radiation levels below the government’s acceptable limit.

A local supermarket began selling the milk on Thursday.

The manager said the shop will try to keep stocking the milk now that it has been permitted for sale.
A shopper said he came after hearing the news because he prefers locally produced milk.

Shipments of milk from 500 farms in 30 other cities, towns and villages in Fukushima are still banned while central and local governments continue their weekly radiation tests.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 16:12 +0900 (JST)

Source: NHK

I know, doublespeak, doublespeak. Here is some more.

In light of the Fukushima Disaster being upgraded to same disaster level as Chernobyl, which is actually being called “Chernobyl on steroids” by foreign press, WHO says no additional new public health measures are needed.

WHO: No need for new public health measures

The World Health Organization says there is no need for new public health measures against the nuclear incident at the Fukushima nuclear plant at the moment. But it says studies may be needed to keep watch over public health for up to 20 years.

WHO Director of Public Health and the Environment Maria Neira held a news conference on Wednesday after the Japanese government raised the severity level of the nuclear accident to a maximum 7 on the international scale.

She said that public health measures taken by the Japanese government, including enforcing an evacuation zone and relocating nearby residents, are appropriate.

But she also said the organization will need to reassess the situation almost on an hourly basis, because the situation is not yet under control.

Neira said studies will have to be conducted over the next 10 to 20 years, to keep a watch over any public health issues.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 07:27 +0900 (JST)

Source: NHK

Go figure. After warning just days ago the real risk was the food supply being contaminated by radiation and confirmation that the food supply is contaminated with record levels of radiation there is no need for new public measures.

U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups

April 18th, 2011 by Craig Whitlock

The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables.

The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say scores of people have been killed by Assad’s security forces since the demonstrations began March 18; Syria has blamed the violence on “armed gangs.”

Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. Classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria. The channel is named after the Barada River, which courses through the heart of Damascus, the Syrian capital.

The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005. The financial backing has continued under President Obama, even as his administration sought to rebuild relations with Assad. In January, the White House posted an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years.

The cables, provided by the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks, show that U.S. Embassy officials in Damascus became worried in 2009 when they learned that Syrian intelligence agents were raising questions about U.S. programs. Some embassy officials suggested that the State Department reconsider its involvement, arguing that it could put the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Damascus at risk.

Syrian authorities “would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change,” read an April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time. “A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti-[government] factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive,” the cable said.

It is unclear whether the State Department is still funding Syrian opposition groups, but the cables indicate money was set aside at least through September 2010. While some of that money has also supported programs and dissidents inside Syria, The Washington Post is withholding certain names and program details at the request of the State Department, which said disclosure could endanger the recipients’ personal safety.

Syria, a police state, has been ruled by Assad since 2000, when he took power after his father’s death. Although the White House has condemned the killing of protesters in Syria, it has not explicitly called for his ouster.

The State Department declined to comment on the authenticity of the cables or answer questions about its funding of Barada TV.

Tamara Wittes, a deputy assistant secretary of state who oversees the democracy and human rights portfolio in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said the State Department does not endorse political parties or movements.

“We back a set of principles,” she said. “There are a lot of organizations in Syria and other countries that are seeking changes from their government. That’s an agenda that we believe in and we’re going to support.”

The State Department often funds programs around the world that promote democratic ideals and human rights, but it usually draws the line at giving money to political opposition groups.

In February 2006, when relations with Damascus were at a nadir, the Bush administration announced that it would award $5 million in grants to “accelerate the work of reformers in Syria.”

But no dissidents inside Syria were willing to take the money, for fear it would lead to their arrest or execution for treason, according to a 2006 cable from the U.S. Embassy, which reported that “no bona fide opposition member will be courageous enough to accept funding.”

Around the same time, Syrian exiles in Europe founded the Movement for Justice and Development. The group, which is banned in Syria, openly advocates for Assad’s removal. U.S. cables describe its leaders as “liberal, moderate Islamists” who are former members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Barada TV

It is unclear when the group began to receive U.S. funds, but cables show U.S. officials in 2007 raised the idea of helping to start an anti-Assad satellite channel.

People involved with the group and with Barada TV, however, would not acknowledge taking money from the U.S. government.

“I’m not aware of anything like that,” Malik al-Abdeh, Barada TV’s news director, said in a brief telephone interview from London.

Abdeh said the channel receives money from “independent Syrian businessmen” whom he declined to name. He also said there was no connection between Barada TV and the Movement for Justice and Development, although he confirmed that he serves on the political group’s board. The board is chaired by his brother, Anas.

“If your purpose is to smear Barada TV, I don’t want to continue this conversation,” Malik al-Abdeh said. “That’s all I’m going to give you.”

Other dissidents said that Barada TV has a growing audience in Syria but that its viewer share is tiny compared with other independent satellite news channels such as al-Jazeera and BBC Arabic. Although Barada TV broadcasts 24 hours a day, many of its programs are reruns. Some of the mainstay shows are “Towards Change,” a panel discussion about current events, and “First Step,” a program produced by a Syrian dissident group based in the United States.

Ausama Monajed, another Syrian exile in London, said he used to work as a producer for Barada TV and as media relations director for the Movement for Justice and Development but has not been “active” in either job for about a year. He said he now devotes all his energy to the Syrian revolutionary movement, distributing videos and protest updates to journalists.

He said he “could not confirm” any U.S. government support for the satellite channel, because he was not involved with its finances. “I didn’t receive a penny myself,” he said.

Several U.S. diplomatic cables from the embassy in Damascus reveal that the Syrian exiles received money from a State Department program called the Middle East Partnership Initiative. According to the cables, the State Department funneled money to the exile group via the Democracy Council, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit. According to its Web site, the council sponsors projects in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America to promote the “fundamental elements of stable societies.”

The council’s founder and president, James Prince, is a former congressional staff member and investment adviser for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Reached by telephone, Prince acknowledged that the council administers a grant from the Middle East Partnership Initiative but said that it was not “Syria-specific.”

Prince said he was “familiar with” Barada TV and the Syrian exile group in London, but he declined to comment further, saying he did not have approval from his board of directors. “We don’t really talk about anything like that,” he said.

The April 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus states that the Democracy Council received $6.3 million from the State Department to run a Syria-related program called the “Civil Society Strengthening Initiative.” That program is described as “a discrete collaborative effort between the Democracy Council and local partners” to produce, among other things, “various broadcast concepts.” Other cables make clear that one of those concepts was Barada TV.

U.S. allocations

Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman, said the Middle East Partnership Initiative has allocated $7.5 million for Syrian programs since 2005. A cable from the embassy in Damascus, however, pegged a much higher total — about $12 million — between 2005 and 2010.

The cables report persistent fears among U.S. diplomats that Syrian state security agents had uncovered the money trail from Washington.

A September 2009 cable reported that Syrian agents had interrogated a number of people about “MEPI operations in particular,” a reference to the Middle East Partnership Initiative.

“It is unclear to what extent [Syrian] intelligence services understand how USG money enters Syria and through which proxy organizations,” the cable stated, referring to funding from the U.S. government. “What is clear, however, is that security agents are increasingly focused on this issue.”

U.S. diplomats also warned that Syrian agents may have “penetrated” the Movement for Justice and Development by intercepting its communications.

A June 2009 cable listed the concerns under the heading “MJD: A Leaky Boat?” It reported that the group was “seeking to expand its base in Syria” but had been “initially lax in its security, often speaking about highly sensitive material on open lines.”

The cable cited evidence that the Syrian intelligence service was aware of the connection between the London exile group and the Democracy Council in Los Angeles. As a result, embassy officials fretted that the entire Syria assistance program had been compromised.

“Reporting in other channels suggest the Syrian [Mukhabarat] may already have penetrated the MJD and is using the MJD contacts to track U.S. democracy programming,” the cable stated. “If the [Syrian government] does know, but has chosen not to intervene openly, it raises the possibility that the [government] may be mounting a campaign to entrap democracy activists.”

Egidia Beretta Arrigoni, Mother of Vittorio Arrigoni – Manifesto April 17, 2011

“As of now, his lively presence which is evergrowing by the hour, is like a wind which from Gaza, his beloved Mediterranean Sea, is blowing wildly and bringing us his hopes and his love for those without a voice, for the weak, the suppressed, bearing us witness. ”

Do you have to die to become a hero, to be on the front page of the newspaper, to watch TV even outside the home or to die in order to stay human?

I remember Vittorio at Christmas 2005, when he was imprisoned at Ben Gurion airport, the scars of the handcuffs which had cut off his pulse, the denied contacts to the consulate, the mockery trial. And the Easter of the same year, when he was stopped by the Israeli police at the Jordanian border, directly behind Allenby Bridge, to prevent him from entering Israel, when he was loaded onto a bus and seven of them, one of them a policewoman, beat him “with art”, without leaving external signs, true professionals that they are, they threw him on the ground facedown, and as a last devilry tore out his hair with their potent boots.

Vittorio was persona-non-grata in Israel. Too subversive, one year before he had demonstrated at the Wailing Wall with his friend Gabriele together with the men and women from Budrus village. He taught and sang with them our most beautiful partisan song “O Bella ciao, ciao….”

At that time I did not watch TV, not even when in autumn 2008 an Israeli commando assaulted the fisherboat in Palestinian waters near Rafah and Vittorio was first locked up in Ramle and then sent home in prison clothes and slippers.

Certainly, now I can only thank the press and TV that they have approached us in a decent way, that they have “occupied” our house respectfully, without excesses, and they gave me the possibility to speak about Vittorio and his chosen ideals.

This lost son, now so much alive as he may never have been before, just like the seed that grows and dies in the earth, will bear prosperous fruit. I can see and hear this already in the words of friends, especially the youth, some of them close by and some of them far away who through Vittorio have known and understood how to make sense of “Utopia”, that the hunger for justice and peace, brotherhood and solidarity still prevails and that, as Vittorio said, “Palestine could as well be in front of your door”. We were far away from Vittorio, but we were closer than ever.

As of now, his lively presence which is evergrowing by the hour, is like a wind which from Gaza, his beloved Mediterranean Sea, is blowing wildly and bringing us his hopes and his love for those without a voice, for the weak, the suppressed, bearing us witness.

Restiamo umani.

http://www.facebook.com/notes/restiamo-umani/vittorio-non-e-mai-stato-cosi-vivo-come-ora-di-egidia-beretta-arrigoni-dal-manif/167550193298299  

The Rwanda Genocide: Who Killed the Hutus?

April 17th, 2011 by Charles Kambanda

Transcript

Wednesday, April 6th, was the 17 year anniversary of the plane crash in Kigali, Rwanda, that triggered the tragic violence the world came to know as the Rwanda Genocide after it had claimed close to a million Rwandan lives, perhaps even more. We at AfrobeatRadio want to turn our hearts and our thoughts to the Rwandan Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa families and individuals who suffered and lost loved ones in 1994.

This week we spoke to Charles Kambanda, a Rwandan American legal scholar, and professor at St. John’s University in New York City, formerly a professor at several East African universities. He was once a member of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, but became disillusioned with President Paul Kagame and left Rwanda in 2005.

Ann Garrison: Professor Kambanda, most people outside Rwanda know the story through the Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda. Could you tell us how the movie corresponds and how it departs from what really happened?

Charles Kambanda: Yes, most people who know the Rwandan story from the movie will certainly not be able to situate it within the entire history of the Rwandan conflict. The Rwandan conflict goes back before colonial times; it goes back before independence. These two peoples have failed to share power. They have failed to create a framework for power sharing. Whoever is in power wants to take it all. And this is where we have the genocide. Each side was killing the other because they wanted to eliminate them. And actually, it was also a military tactic. The Hutu were eliminating the Tutsi because they didn’t want the Tutsi to support their fellow Tutsi who were fighting the government. The Tutsi on their side were killing the Hutu because they didn’t want the Hutu in their territory to cross over and join the Hutu government.

An ordinary Rwandan knows that saying that the Hutu and the Tutsi died in the genocide, is the truth. But politicians think by saying that the Hutu also died, then you are going to ask them for accountability, because if you say that the Tutsi were killed by the interahamwe, and you also say that the Hutu were killed, then you need to know who killed them. And if you start mentioning who killed them, those politicians who are in power, Kagame and the others, will be called to answer for crimes.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza in custody, while in transit between court and Kigalii, Rwanda’s 1930 maximum security prison.Ann Garrison: Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the opposition presidential candidate and leader, is now in maximum security prison for expressing what’s called the double genocide theory, for going to the Kigali memorial and asking where the memorial to the Hutus was has said that Kagame risks another explosion of violence by practicing the same politics of exclusion that the Hutu president, Habyarimana did. Do you feel the same danger?

Charles Kambanda: I believe that is a great analysis. There is total lack of power sharing in Rwanda. And that is the reason why the 1994 genocide surfaced. I believe we are likely to have the same thing in the future.

Ann Garrison: The United States has been a big supporter of President Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Government, but, this week, on the anniversary of the events that triggered the genocide, President Obama did refer, in his statement honoring those who died, to the Rwanda Genocide, not to the Tutsi Genocide. Does this mean that in Rwanda he would be subject to prosecution if he weren’t the President of the United States?

Charles Kambanda: Absolutely. We have many cases of people who have been prosecuted under their law against minimizing genocide. In Rwanda if you don’t say “Tutsi Genocide” and you say “Rwandan Genocide,” they put you in a double genocide theory category. Those people who say the “Rwandan Genocide” are subject to prosecution in Rwanda. President Obama’s message is clear. He is talking about the Rwandan Genocide, not the Tutsi Genocide. Remember, the Rwandan government has had to amend its Constitution. At first we were talking about the genocide of the Tutsi and the Hutu moderates. Now, we are talking about the Tutsi Genocide. The Rwandan Constitution is clear now. I think suddenly last year they amended the Constitution to read Tutsi Genocide. Victoire Ingabire is in prison today because of saying “double genocide.” President Obama today, if it were not for the powers he has as a President, Kagame would be saying President Obama is a denier of the Tutsi Genocide. And it is interesting that President Obama did not include the words Tutsi Genocide, because it means he did not write in the interest of the government of Rwanda.

Ann Garrison: Professor Kambanda, thank you so much for talking to us today. Hopefully this will be a step towards the reconciliation that you’re hoping for.

Charles Kambanda: Thank you.

Ann Garrison: An archive and ongoing coverage can be found at AfrobeatRadio.net. For AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Call it another virtual “defense” of privacy rights by U.S. lawmakers.

In the week of April 11, senators John Kerry (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate, the “Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011,” they claimed would “establish a framework to protect the personal information of all Americans.”

During a D.C. press conference, McCain told reporters that the proposed law would protect a “fundamental right of American citizens, that is the right to privacy.”

While Kerry and McCain correctly state that “The ease of gathering and compiling personal information on the Internet and off, both overtly and surreptitiously, is becoming increasingly efficient and effortless due to advances in technology which have provided information gatherers the ability to compile seamlessly highly detailed personal histories of individuals” (p. 4), there’s one small catch.

CNET’s Declan McCullagh reported that the bill “doesn’t apply to data mining, surveillance, or any other forms of activities that governments use to collect and collate Americans’ personal information.”

While the measure would apply to “companies and some nonprofit groups,” CNET disclosed that “federal, state, and local police agencies that have adopted high-tech surveillance technologies including cell phone tracking, GPS bugs, and requests to Internet companies for users’ personal information–in many cases without obtaining a search warrant from a judge” would be exempt.

As we know, a gaggle of privacy-killing agencies inside the secret state, the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as offices and subunits sprinkled throughout the Pentagon’s sprawling bureaucracy, including U.S. Cyber Command, all claim authority to extract personal information on individuals from still-secret Office of Legal Counsel memoranda and National Security Presidential Directives.

As the American Civil Liberties Union reported in March, what little has been extracted from the Executive Branch through Freedom of Information Act litigation is heavily-redacted, rendering such disclosures meaningless exercises.

For example, the bulk of the November 2, 2001 21-page Memorandum for the Attorney General, penned by former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Yoo, which provided the Bush administration with a legal fig-leaf for their warrantless wiretapping programs, is blank. That is, if one ignores exemptions to FOIA now claimed by the Obama administration. (B1, b3, b5, exemptions relate to “national security,” “inter-departmental communications” and/or programs labelled “TS/SCI”–Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information, the highest classification).

And, as of this writing, the American people still do not have have access to nor even knowledge of the snooping privileges granted securocrats by the Bush and Obama administrations under cover of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI).

As Antifascist Calling previously reported, CNCI derives authority from classified annexes of National Security Presidential Directive 54, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54/HSPD 23) first issued by our former “decider.”

Those 2008 presidential orders are so contentious that both the Bush and Obama administrations have even refused to release details to Congress, prompting a 2010 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) demanding that the full text, and underlying legal authority governing federal cybersecurity programs be made public.

McCullagh points out that the bill “also doesn’t apply to government agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, the Census Bureau, and the IRS, which collect vast amounts of data on American citizens.”

Nor are there provisions in the bill that would force federal or state agencies to notify American citizens in the event of a data breach. No small matter considering the flawed data security practices within such agencies.

Just last week, InformationWeek revealed that the “Texas comptroller’s office began notifying millions of people Monday that their personal data had been involved in a data breach. The private data was posted to a public server, where it was available–in some cases–for over a year.”

“The posted records,” we’re told, “included people’s names, mailing addresses, social security numbers, and in some cases also dates of birth and driver’s license numbers.”

None of the data was encrypted and was there for the taking by identity thieves or other shady actors. InformationWeek pointed out although “most organizations that experience a serious data breach” offer free credit monitoring services to victims, “to date, Texas has not said it will offer such services to people affected by the comptroller’s breach.”

CNET reminds us that the “Department of Veterans Affairs suffered a massive security breach in 2006 when an unencrypted laptop with data on millions of veterans was stolen.”

McCullagh avers that “a government report last year listed IRS security and privacy vulnerabilities” and that “even the Census Bureau has, in the past, shared information with law enforcement from its supposedly confidential files.”

The limited scope of the Kerry and McCain proposal is underscored by moves by the Obama Justice Department to actually increase the secret state’s already formidable surveillance powers and short-circuit anemic privacy reforms that have been proposed.

In fact, as Antifascist Calling reported last week, during hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Associate Attorney General James A. Baker warned the panel that granting “cloud computing users more privacy protections and to require court approval before tracking Americans’ cell phones would hinder police investigations.”

But even when it comes to reining-in out-of-control online tracking by internet advertising firms, the Kerry-McCain bill comes up short.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, the Kerry-McCain bill won’t stop online tracking by advert pimps who hustle consumers’ private details to the highest bidder.

The civil liberties’ watchdogs aver, “the privacy risk is not in consumers seeing targeted advertisements, but in the unchecked accumulation and storage of data about consumers’ online activities.”

“Collecting and retaining data on consumers can create a rich repository of information,” EFF’s legislative analyst Rainey Reitman writes, one that “leaves consumer data vulnerable to a data breach as well as creating an unnecessary enticement for government investigators, civil litigants and even malicious hackers.”

Additionally, the proposal is silent on Do Not Track, “meaning there is no specific proposal for a meaningful, universal browser-based opt-out mechanism that could be respected by all large third-party tracking companies,” and consumers “would still need to opt-out of each third party individually,” a daunting process.

Worst of all, consumers “won’t have a private right of action in the new Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights. That means consumers won’t be granted the right to sue companies for damages if the provisions of the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights are violated.” In other words, even when advertising firms and ISPs violate their users’ privacy rights, the bill would specifically prohibit individuals from seeking relief in the courts.

Moving in for the Cybersecurity Kill

While the Kerry-McCain bill would exempt government agencies from privacy protections, the Defense Department is aggressively seeking more power to monitor civilian computer networks.

NextGov reported that General Keith Alexander, the dual-hatted commander of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency said that his agency “cannot monitor civilian networks” and that congressional authorization will be required so that CYBERCOM can “look at what’s going on in other government sectors” and other “critical infrastructures,” i.e., civilian networks.

Mendacity aside, considering that NSA already vacuums-up terabytes of America’s electronic communications data on a daily basis, reporter Aliya Sternstein notes that Alexander “offered hints about what the Pentagon might be pushing the Obama administration to consider.”

“Civil liberties and privacy are not [upheld] at the expense of cybersecurity,” he said. “They will benefit from cybersecurity,” available only, or so we’ve been led to believe, from the military, well-known for their commitment to civil liberties and the rule of law as the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning amply demonstrates.

Cyberspace, according to Alexander, is a domain that must be protected like the air, sea and land, “but it’s also unique in that it’s inside and outside military, civilian and government” domains.

Military forces “have to have the ability to move seamlessly when our nation is under attack to defend it … the mechanisms for doing that have to be laid out and agreed to. The laws don’t exist in this area.”

While Cyber Command currently shares network security duties with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as I reported last year, a Memorandum of Agreement between DHS and NSA, claims that increased “interdepartmental collaboration in strategic planning for the Nation’s cybersecurity, mutual support for cybersecurity capabilities development, and synchronization of current operational cybersecurity mission activities,” will be beneficial.

We were informed that the Agreement “will focus national cybersecurity efforts, increasing the overall capacity and capability of both DHS’s homeland security and DoD’s national security missions, while providing integral protection for privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.”

But as Rod Beckström, the former director of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC), pointed out in 2009 when he resigned his post, he viewed increased control by NSA over national cybersecurity programs a “power grab.”

In a highly-critical letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Beckström said that NSA “effectively controls DHS cyber efforts through detailees [and] technology insertions.”

Citing the agency’s role as the secret state’s eyes and ears that peer into America’s electronic and telecommunications’ networks, Beckström warned that handing more power to NSA could significantly threaten “our democratic processes…if all top level government network security and monitoring are handled by any one organization.”

Those warnings have gone unheeded.

National Defense Magazine reported that retired Marine Corps General Peter Pace, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “would hand over the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity responsibilities to the head of the newly created U.S. Cyber Command.”

Seconding Pace’s call for cybersecurity consolidation, under Pentagon control, Roger Cressey, a senior vice president with the ultra-spooky Booz Allen Hamilton firm, a company that does billions of dollars of work for the Defense Department, “agreed that putting all the responsibility for the federal government’s Internet security needs would help the talent shortage by consolidating the responsibilities under one roof.”

“The real expertise in the government,” Cressey told National Defense, “capable of protecting networks currently lies in the NSA.”

Cressey’s is hardly an objective opinion. The former member of the National Security Council and the elitist Council on Foreign Relations, joined Booz Allen after an extensive career inside the secret state.

A military-industrial complex powerhouse, Booz Allen clocks-in at No. 9 on Washington Technology’s list of 2010 Top 100 Contractors with some $3.3 billion in revenue.

As Spies For Hire author Tim Shorrock pointed out for CorpWatch, “Among the many services Booz Allen provides to intelligence agencies … are data-mining and data analysis, signals intelligence systems engineering (an NSA specialty), intelligence analysis and operations support, the design and analysis of cryptographic or code-breaking systems (another NSA specialty), and ‘outsourcing/privatization strategy and planning’.”

With “data mining, surveillance, or any other forms of activities that governments use to collect and collate Americans’ personal information” off the Kerry-McCain “privacy” bill table, as CNET reported, enterprising security firms are undoubtedly salivating over potential income–and lack of accountability–which a cybersecurity consolidation, Pentagon-style, would all but guarantee.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano’s Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, 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 and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

While the Japanese nuclear crisis might upstage the Gulf crisis, it hasn’t gone away.

As the Wall Street Journal notes today:

Vladimir Uiba, head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency… compared the contamination of seawater by the Fukushima complex with an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by BP PLC last year, and said, “The BP oil spill has caused far more serious impact on the environment than the Fukushima accident” ….

Whether or not the oil spill is worse than Fukushima or not, it was – and still is – a major disaster.

Gulf residents are still getting sick, the number of dolphins and whales killed by the spill appears to be many times higher than officials previously believed. Dead turtles are washing up in Mississippi. And see these photos from my favorite photographer, Julie Dermansky:

And just-released confidential BP and government emails confirm my previous posts showing:

  • The government is keeping scientists away from “ground zero” of the oil spill and – for that reason – scientists cannot accurately measure the size of the oil spill
  • BP and the government famously declared that most of the oil had disappeared, when it hadn’t

As the Guardian reports today:

BP officials tried to take control of a $500m fund pledged by the oil company for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, it has emerged.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials openly discussing how to influence the work of scientists supported by the fund, which was created by the oil company in May last year.

Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert, wrote in an email to colleagues on 24 June 2010: “Can we ‘direct’ GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor’s offices trying to do)? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?”.

The email was obtained by Greenpeace and shared with the Guardian.

The documents are expected to reinforce fears voiced by scientists that BP has too much leverage over studies into the impact of last year’s oil disaster.

Those concerns go far beyond academic interest into the impact of the spill. BP faces billions in fines and penalties, and possible criminal charges arising from the disaster. Its total liability will depend in part on a final account produced by scientists on how much oil entered the gulf from its blown-out well, and the damage done to marine life and coastal areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The oil company disputes the government estimate that 4.1m barrels of oil entered the gulf.

***

Kert Davies, Greenpeace US research director, said the oil company had crossed a line. “It’s outrageous to see these BP executives discussing how they might manipulate the science programme,” Davies said. “Their motivation last summer is abundantly clear. They wanted control of the science.”

The $500m fund, which is to be awarded over the next decade, is by far the biggest potential source of support to scientists hoping to establish what happened to the oil.

A number of scientists had earlier expressed concerns that BP would attempt to point scientists to convenient areas of study – or try to suppress research that did not suit its business.

***

Another email, written by Karen Ragoonanan-Jalim, a BP environmental officer based in Trinidad [says] “Discussions around GRI and whether or not BP can influence this long-term research programme ($500m) to undertake the studies we believe will be useful in terms of understanding the fate and effects of the oil on the environment, eg can we steer the research in support of restoration ecology?”

And as the Guardian notes, it wasn’t just BP which was doing the spinning:

Other documents obtained by Greenpeace suggest that the politics of oil spill science was not confined to BP. The White House clashed with officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last summer when drafting the administration’s account of what has happened to the spilled oil.

On 4 August, Jane Lubchenco, the NOAA administrator, demanded that the White House issue a correction after it claimed that the “vast majority” of BP oil was gone from the Gulf.

A few days earlier, Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, and her deputy, Bob Perciasepe, had also objected to the White House estimates of the amount of oil dispersed in the gulf. “These calculations are extremely rough estimates yet when they are put into the press, which we want to happen, they will take on a life of their own,” Perciasepe wrote.

And because nothing has really changed, it is likely to happen again.

Did You Just Call Me a Socialist?

April 17th, 2011 by David Swanson

On April 15, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congress members spoke in defense of Medicare, Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other programs that by almost anyone’s definition are socialist, programs that were denounced as socialist by opponents of their passage in decades past, programs that would not have been created without the efforts of socialists and the Socialist Party.

The debate screeched to a halt, however, because an opponent of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s “People’s Budget” then under discussion suggested that its supporters might be Socialists. Congressman Keith Ellison, co-chair of that caucus, protested the vicious accusation and demanded that the words of his accuser be transcribed for the record (and possible legal action?). The Republican congress member guilty of the horrible slander announced that he was retracting it. Rep. Raul Grijalva, the other co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, thanked him sincerely for the retraction. Although polls show socialism to be far more popular than Congress, neither Ellison nor Grijalva insisted on being cleared of the label “congress member.”

“Socialism,” remarked Frank Zeidler, former socialist mayor of Milwaukee, “believes that people working together for a common good can produce a greater benefit, both for society and for the individual, than can a society in which everyone is shrewdly seeking their own self-interest.” Missing from Washington, D.C., is not just a single individual who would hurl the term “capitalist” with the strength to have a retraction demanded. Missing also is any sense of working for a cooperative society based on the above truth — a truth apparent to any child who has neither read Ayn Rand nor viewed cable news, but a truth that sounds insane in our nation’s capital.

And one more thing is missing: awareness of the debt our nation owes to its rich socialist history. That’s where the best book yet by John Nichols — and that’s saying something! — comes in. The author of “The Genius of Impeachment,” among other brilliant books, has just published “The ‘S’ Word: A Short History of an American Tradition . . . Socialism.”

The book is marred by a militaristic cover depicting the flag-raising pose on Iwo Jima, and its focus on the U.S. national tradition is not without problems. Nichols’ goal is to depict socialism as American, as rooted in the tradition of Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, the founding of the Republican Party, the rise of competent public planning in 20th century cities, the New Deal, the struggle for free speech and freedom of the press, and the civil rights movement. In this he is very successful. But a strain of thought related to much socialism and admirable in its own right holds that an idea need not be American to be the best for America. You’d think we’d learn that in KINDERGARTEN.

Nichols does not argue with such internationalism; it just fails to harmonize with the theme of his book. Yet, while other authors have sought to bring out the rich leftist tradition of the United States as something predating and independent of, and better off without, Marxism, Nichols goes out of his way to highlight Marx’s employment by a New York newspaper and communications with President Lincoln. Doing so certainly cannot hurt and makes for fascinating reading. Of course, the fascination is in large part based on the reader’s imagining of the explosive cognitive dissonance a contemporary Republican might face in discovering his or her party’s founding father’s appreciation of Marx. This imagination may give too much credit to contemporary Republicans for cognitive processes of whatever sort.

Nichols has posted an excerpt of his book online. Here is an excerpt of that excerpt:

“Could a plan decried as ‘socialized medicine’ by the American Medical Association because it was, in fact, socialized medicine really be ‘the American way’? Of course. During the Medicare debate in the early ’60s, Texas Senate candidate George H.W. Bush condemned the proposal as ‘creeping socialism.’ Ronald Reagan, then making the transition from TV pitchman for products to TV pitchman for Barry Goldwater, warned that if it passed citizens would find themselves ‘telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.’ But Bush and Reagan managed the program during their presidencies, and Tea Party activists now show up at town hall meetings to threaten any legislator who would dare to tinker with their beloved Medicare.

“Americans would not have gotten Medicare if [Michael] Harrington and the socialists who came before him — from presidential candidates like Debs and Thomas to organizers like Mary Marcy and Margaret Sanger and the Communist Party’s Elizabeth Gurley Flynn — had not for decades been pushing the limits of the healthcare debate. No less a player than Senator Edward Kennedy would declare, ‘I see Michael Harrington as delivering the Sermon on the Mount to America.’ The same was true in abolitionist days, when socialists — including friends of Marx who had immigrated to the United States after the 1848 revolutions in Europe were crushed — energized the movement against slavery and helped give it political expression in the form of the Republican Party. The same was true early in the twentieth century, when Socialist Party editors like Victor Berger battled attempts to destroy civil liberties and defined our modern understanding of freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to petition for redress of grievances. The same was true when lifelong socialist A. Philip Randolph called the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and asked a young preacher named Martin Luther King Jr., who had many socialist counselors besides the venerable Randolph, to deliver what would come to be known as the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

“Again and again at critical junctures in our national journey, socialist thinkers and organizers, as well as candidates and officials, have prodded government in a progressive direction. It may be true, as historian Patrick Allitt suggests, that ‘millions of Americans, including many of these critics [of the Obama administration], are ardent supporters of socialism, even if they don’t realize it and even if they don’t actually use the word’ to describe public services that are ‘organized along socialist lines,’ like schools and highways. In fact, contemporary socialists and Tea Partiers might actually find common (if uncomfortable) ground with Allitt’s assertion that ‘socialism as an organizational principle is alive and well here just as it is throughout the industrialized world’ — even as they would disagree on whether that’s a good thing. Programs ‘organized along socialist lines’ do not make a country socialist. But America has always been and should continue to be informed by socialist ideals and a socialist critique of public policy.”

As the co-author with Robert McChesney of some of our best books on the corporate media, Nichols is aware that we no longer have the capacity for critiques of public policy we once had. While Nichols degrades his excellent and inspiring chapter on Thomas Paine by stooping to debate the likes of Glenn Beck (and I admit I’ve done the same), he is fully aware of what he’s involved in:

“It might seem amazing today, when Glenn Beck describes modest social spending in ‘Darkness at Noon’ terms and when even supposedly moderate commentators conflate social democracy with Stalinism, that the good burghers of Milwaukee would elect and re-elect a Socialist mayor throughout the McCarthy era — and in McCarthy’s home state, no less. But there is simply no question that the quality of debate, the range of ideological diversity and the level of social and political awareness were far higher for most Americans in the 1940s and 1950s — and dramatically higher for media commentators. Americans in general, and Milwaukeeans in particular, understood the distinction between municipal socialists who believed in public enterprise and totalitarian dictators who wanted to rule the world.”

I hope these snippets of Nichols’ 300-page masterpiece whet your appetite. “The ‘S’ Word” could, if widely read, lead to a different view of our country, our government, and our best course going forward. Visitors to the Lincoln Memorial might recall the words of President Lincoln’s first war-time State of the Union address:

“Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Lincoln went on to foreshadow Eisenhower’s warning of the rise of the military industrial complex. Visitors to his memorial should also recall A. Phillip Randolph, the man who made the March on Washington happen. His bust in Union Station, with the eye-glasses in his hand broken off, should cause every traveler to freeze in his or her tracks and question himself or herself as to where in the world we are all headed.

VIDEO:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTvUs4rY4to

David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie” 

http://warisalie.org

http://davidswanson.org

http://warisacrime.org

Ivory Coast Uncovered – The Untold Story

April 17th, 2011 by Dr. Kwame Osei

With the ongoing civil war in Ivory Coast seemingly close to an end it is appropriate to tell the REAL untold story of the crisis in Ivory Coast and inform our readers of the REAL issue(s) behind the situation in the country.

I have heard many commentators on this subject and the bulk of them rant about the fact that the situation in the Ivory Coast is about elections that were supposedly won by Alassane Ouattara and that he is “the internationally recognized president of Ivory Coast” and that Laurent Gbagbo refuses to stand down because he thinks he won the elections – this in itself is flawed because according to a report from a US senate committee that went to Ivory Coast to monitor the elections complained of voter irregularities in areas that were pro-Ouattara

However the deception about the elections is the line that the western media is peddling and experience informs us that when it comes to the western media and Afrika we must be very circumspect of the agenda of the western media who have nothing but disdain for Afrikan people.

That said it is very simplistic to say that the situation in Ivory Coast is solely as a result of undisputed elections and is giving the public a much skewed view of the actual situation.

The REAL issue behind the current impasse in the Ivory Coast is a battle relating to French imperialism and control of the Ivory Coast. What this actually means in reality is that on one hand you have Gbagbo who is against French imperialism in Ivory Coast and championing the cause of Pan-Afrikanism and on the other hand you have Ouattara who one could say is very accommodating to safeguarding French interests in Ivory Coast.

This history lesson dates back to the late 1950′s when the winds of change were beginning to sweep across the Afrikan continent as a result of Ghana gaining independence and the momentum of the Afrikan liberation movement.

Charles De Gaulle who was French president at the time knew that the winds of change sweeping across Afrika would also strike those countries that were under French colonial/imperial rule.

Therefore recognizing this De Gaulle made an insidious move by insisting that he would only grant Francophone countries their independence from France if they ceded up to 90% of ALL their revenue to the French Treasury in Paris and also that the CFA Franc must be fixed to the French currency, the French Franc making it easier for French companies to conduct business in Francophone Afrika.

The readership must be reminded that the Francophone countries in Afrika have huge mineral resources like enriched uranium, gold, diamonds, bauxite, chrome, oil and gas that are crucial for French industry.

Since the Francophone countries were eager for their political independence from Paris, some of their leaders naively signed up to this draconian measure and others who knew of the consequences of this reluctantly signed up to this measure.

Therefore once they had put their signature to it the newly “independent” Francophone states in Afrika were forever enslaved to French economic interests.

These interests meant that French companies operating in Francophone states had free access to these markets, had easy access to government contracts and perhaps more shrewdly these French companies did not pay any taxation to the respective francophone states and repatriated their vast earnings back to Paris.

Those Francophone states like Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara who resisted this draconian legislation were severely dealt with in the form of economic sanctions and/or military coups d’état.

Gbagbo who is a student of history knows of this diabolical arrangement that has had an adverse effect on the economic emancipation and development of Francophone states and vowed to reverse this arrangement – he also wanted to nationalize key industries free from French control.

It is also important to recognize that Ivory Coast is THE world’s biggest producer of cocoa which is the main ingredient for confectionery goods like chocolate and pastries and the French confectionery industry is worth billions of Euro’s a year – making control of the cocoa industry a key target of French imperialism.

The French political elite knows of Gbagbo’s agenda and has used any means at its disposal including influencing national elections to deny Gbagbo from implementing his agenda which if he had succeeded would have a catastrophic effect on the French economy.

This would manifest itself in that other Francophone states in Afrika would follow Gbagbo’s lead and demand economic emancipation which would send the French economy into permanent recession since the massive revenue that Paris receives to fund its social and economic programmes would no longer be available and that is why the French and their western allies are supporting Ouattara.

Proof of this French support for Ouattara manifests itself with French helicopters bombing Gbagbo’s forces (circa France TV 24hour news cable channel) and more blatantly that the so-called rebels that are attacking the presidential palace are in fact White French mercenaries (circa you-tube video footage).

The question one must ask is why are the French supporting Ouattara.

Well, Ouattara is a former employee of the IMF/World Bank, is western educated and trained and therefore is seen as a safe pair of hands by the French and their western cousins’.

When as it appears that Mr. Ouattara assumes overall control of the country it will mean that French and western imperialism has won the day and Ivorian and Afrikan economic emancipation been dealt a severe blow. 
 

Mounting alarm over US use of depleted uranium arms in Libya, Rob Edwards 
http://www.heraldscotland.com/mobile/news/home-news/mounting-alarm-over-us-use-of-depleted-uranium-arms-in-libya-1.1094257

US Suspected of Using Depleted Uranium on Libya
http://www.newser.com/story/116517/us-suspected-of-using-depleted-uranium-on-libya.html

NATO uses depleted uranium bombs against Libya
http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/03/30/48203222.html

Toxic Avengers: Is NATO Dumping DU on Libya?
http://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1-/8394-toxic-avengers-is-nato-dumping-du-on-libya.html

What A Strange Way To Protect Civilians, Depleted Uranium And Libya
http://original.antiwar.com/david-wilson/2011/04/15/what-a-strange-way-to-protect-civilians-depleted-uranium-and-libya/

NATO Irradiates Libya
http://www.counterpunch.org/mountain04152011.html

Cruise missiles with depleted uranium on Libya, A first assessment of environmental impact and health
by Prof. Massimo Zucchetti
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24212

CIA’s Obama, Libya, Depleted Uranium, and the Family Farmer,
http://www.opednews.com/Diary/CIA-s-Obama-Libya-Deplet-by-Steven-G-Erickson-110415-421.html

US Denies Depleted Uranium Use in Libya, But Refuses to Rule Out Future Use, Air Force Spokeswoman claims that A-10s were not loaded with DU ammunition, but does not rule out future use in the conflict.
http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/402.html

NATO forces use uranium weapons in Libya, Western coalition forces have been using depleted uranium in their airstrikes on crisis-hit Libya, says an expert, despite the forces’ denial of using the highly-poisonous metal.
http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=238827

Cruise missiles with depleted uranium on Libya,
By Prof. Massimo Zucchetti
http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=238790

‘US To Recoup Libya Oil From China’

April 17th, 2011 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Press TV has interviewed Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary of US Treasury from Panama City, who gives his insight on the revolution in Libya and why US President Barack Obama needs to overthrow Qaddafi when no other US presidents did.

Press TV: Russia has criticized NATO for going far beyond its UN mandate. In other news a joint Op Ed is going to be written by Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy who have said that “leaving Qaddafi in power would be an unconscionable betrayal to the Libyan people”.

We do know that the mandate does not call for regime change; the Obama administration has been saying they are not in there for regime change; but things seem a little different now don’t they?

Roberts: Yes they do. First of all, notice that the protests in Libya are different from the ones in Egypt or Yemen or Bahrain or Tunisia and the difference is that this is an armed rebellion.

There are more differences: another is that these protests originated in the eastern part of Libya where the oil is – they did not originate in the capital city. And we have heard from the beginning credible reports that the CIA is involved in the protests, and there have been a large number of press reports that the CIA has sent back to Libya its Libyan asset to head up the Libyan rebellion.

In my opinion, what this is about is to eliminate China from the Mediterranean. China has extensive energy investments and construction investments in Libya. They are looking to Africa as a future energy source.

The US is countering this by organizing the United States African Command (USAC), which Qaddafi refused to join. So that’s the second reason for the Americans to want Qaddafi out.

And the third reason is that Libya controls part of the Mediterranean coast and it’s not in American hands.

Press TV: Who are the revolutionaries. The US say they don’t know who they’re dealing with, but considering the CIA is on the ground in contact with revolutionaries – Who are the people under whom Libya will function in any post-Qaddafi era?

Roberts: Whether or not Libya functions under “revolutionaries” depends if the CIA wins – we don’t know that yet. As you said earlier, the UN resolution puts constraints on what the European and American forces can achieve in Libya. They can have a no fly zone, but they are not supposed to be in there fighting together with the rebels.

But of course the CIA is. So we do have these violations of the UN resolution. If NATO, which is now the cover for the “world community,” succeeds in overthrowing Qaddafi, the next target will be Syria. Syria has already been demonized.

Why are they targeting Syria? – Because the Russians have a very large naval base in Syria. And it gives the Russian navy a presence in the Mediterranean; the US and NATO do not want that. If there is success in overthrowing Qaddafi, Syria is next.

Already, they are blaming Iran for Syria and Libya. Iran is a major target because it is an independent state that is not a puppet of the Western colonialists.

Press TV: With regards to the expansionist agenda of the West, when the UN mandate on Libya was debated in the UN Security Council, Russia did not veto it. Surely Russia must see this expansionist policy of the US, France and Britain.

Roberts: Yes they must see that; and the same for China. It’s a greater threat to China because it has 50 major investment projects in eastern Libya. So the question is why did Russia and China abstain rather than veto and block? We don’t know the answer.

Possibly the countries are thinking to let the Americans get further over- extended, or they may not have wanted to confront the US with a military or diplomatic position and have an onslaught of Western propaganda against them. We don’t know the reasons, but we know they did abstain because they did not agree with the policy, and they continue to criticize it.

Press TV: A sizeable portion of Qaddafi’s assets have been frozen in the US as well as some other countries. We also know that the Libyan revolutionaries have set up a central bank and that they have started limited production of oil and they are dealing with American and other Western firms. It begs the question that we’ve never seen something like this happen in the middle of a revolution. Don’t you find that bizarre?

Roberts: Yes it’s very bizarre and very suggestive. It brings back the fact of all the reports that the CIA is the originator of this so-called revolt and protest and is fomenting it and controlling it in a way that excludes China from its own Libyan oil investments.

In my opinion, what is going on is comparable to what the US and Britain did to Japan in the 1930s. When they cut Japan off from oil, from rubber, from minerals; that was the origin of World War II in the pacific. And now the Americans and the British are doing the same thing to China.

The difference is that China has nuclear weapons and it also has a stronger economy than do the Americans. And so the Americans are taking a very high risk not only with themselves, but with the rest of the world. The entire world is now at stake on American over-reach; American hubris – the drive for American hegemony over the world is driving the rest of the world into a World War.

Press TV: In the context of America’s expansionist policies, how far do you think the US will stretch beyond the UN mandate? Are we going to see boots on the ground?

Roberts: Most likely – unless they can find some way of defeating Qaddafi without that. Ever since we’ve had Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now Obama, what we’ve learned is law means nothing to the executive branch in the US. They don’t obey our own laws; they don’t obey international law; they violate all the civil liberties and buried the principal of habeas corpus, no crime without intent, and the ability for a defendant to be legally represented.

They don’t pay any attention to law so they’re not going to pay any attention to the UN. The UN is an American puppet organization and Washington will use it as a cover. So, yes, if they cannot run Qaddafi out they will put troops on the ground – that’s why we have the French and the British involved. We’re using the French elsewhere in Africa also; we use the British in Afghanistan – they’re puppets.

These countries are not independent. Sarkozy doesn’t report to the French people – he reports to Washington. The British PM doesn’t report to the English people he reports to Washington. These are puppet rulers of an empire; they have nothing to do with their own people and we put them in office.

Press TV: So these other countries would welcome having NATO troops on the ground?

Roberts: Of course. They are in the CIAs pocket. It’s a CIA operation, not a legitimate protest of the Libyan people. It’s an armed rebellion that has no support in the capital city. It’s taking place in the east where the oil is and is directed at China.

Press TV: Where do you see the situation headed? There seems to be a rift between NATO countries with Britain and France wanting to increase the momentum of these air strikes, but the US saying no, there is no need.

Roberts: The rift is not real. The rift is just part of the cover, just part of the propaganda. Qaddafi has been ruling for 40 years – he goes back to Gamal Abdel Nasser (before Anwar Sadat) who wanted to give independence to Egypt.

He (Qaddafi) was never before called a brutal dictator that has to be removed. No other president has ever said Qaddafi has to go. Not even Ronald Reagan who actually bombed Qaddafi’s compound. But all of a sudden he has to go. Why?

Because he’s blocking the US African Command, he controls part of the Mediterranean and he has let China in to find its energy needs for the future. Washington is trying to cripple its main rival, China, by denying China energy. That’s what this is really about; a reaction by the US to China’s penetration of Africa.

If the US was concerned about humanitarianism, it wouldn’t be killing all these people in Afghanistan and Pakistan with their drones and military strikes. Almost always it’s civilians that are killed. And the US is reluctant to issue apologies about any of it. They say we thought we were killing Taliban or some other made-up enemy.

Press TV: Who will benefit from all of this other than the US? The other countries that comply with US wishes – What do they stand to gain from this?

Roberts: We are only talking about NATO countries, the American puppet states. Britain, France, Italy, Germany, all belong to the American empire. We’ve had troops stationed in Germany since 1945. You’re talking about 66 years of American occupation of Germany. The Americans have military bases in Italy – how is that an independent country? France was somewhat independent until Washington put Sarkozy in power. So they all do what they’re told.

Washington wants to rule Russia, China, Iran, and Africa, all of South America. Washington wants hegemony over the world. That’s what the word hegemony means. And Washington will pursue it at all costs.

On the first day of the Fukushima disaster, Tepco reported that reactors 1, 2 and 6 were operating at the time of the quake and tsunami, and that the other 3 reactors were empty of fuel rods for periodic maintenance. 1, 2 and 6 were designed by GE, old model Mark-1.

Then reactor 3 blows and burns, and without any correction to the first report, Tepco then says 1, 2 and 3 were operating and the others were down. No. 3, which is run on plutonium-uranium MOX fuel, was built by Toshiba. (no. 5 is also a Toshiba) Toshiba has an international partnership with Westinghouse to build nuclear plants. The leak from No.3 accounted then for the reports of leaked plutonium.

Then reactor 4 building catches on fire, due to a dry cooling pool for spent rods. No..4 is built by Hitachi, which has a partnership with GE to build nuclear plants and also currently develop a laser (plasma) separation process for plutonium extraction.

The fire is so extreme (for depleted uranium) that the reactor is damaged. This suggests that reactor 4 was also internally damaged, meaning that it was operating at time of the tsunami, in an unscheduled run for either of two purposes: offline electrical generation for some reason inside Fukushima 1; or for a controlled reaction aimed at reprocessing (neutron enrichment) of spent fuel rods to increase their fissile uranium content (prior to extraction).

Next, reactors 4 and 5 are found to be generating hydrogen gas.

H gas is produced when the fission process, which releases electrons as well as neutrons, splits water molecules, H20, into hydrogen, supercharged oxygen and some hydroxyl radicals. The presence of a gas build-up indicates that these two reactors contain fuel rods, contrary to Tepco claims. This means reactors 4 and 5 had recently conducted runs or were being prepared for operations of an undetermined (and unreported) nature.

The other technical mystery is that Tepco engineers suggested that the electric power inside the plant was knocked out by something other than the tsunami. I have pointed to this possibility early on, that the quake and control disruptions could have made the control computers vulnerable to the Stuxnet virus.

The other possibility to consider is that a high-power electromagnetic event (for example a sudden energy burst from the released of ionized gases from the de-magnetized laser-plasma process) could have knocked out all electrical systems, similar to how a neutron bomb would incapacitate power system.

Very little of this information was recorded in newspaper reports, but came as nearly inadvertent admissions during the minute-by-minute televised coverage of the disaster by NHK.

The other major mystery is the one-minute blackout of NHK World News at the mention of the fire and plant shutdown at the Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture.

Military operations of this size and magnitude are never improvised. The war on Libya as well as the armed insurrection were planned months prior to the Arab protest movement…

Libya, 19 March 2011. “No Fly Zone” under UN Security Council Resolution 1973: A “Humanitarian War” is Launched.

We were led to believe that the protest movement in Egypt and Tunisia had spread to Libya.

The insurrection in Libya was presented as a spontaneous response to a wave of pro-democracy activism which had swept the Arab World. 

In turn, we were led to believe that ”the international community” decided in response to these unfolding events, to “protect the lives of civilians” and refer the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

The media then reported that it was only once the UN Security Council had adopted Resolution 1973, that the US and NATO member countries took the decision to intervene militarily in Libya under the “No Fly Zone”… 

THE WAR ON LIBYA WAS KNOWN AND DECIDED WELL IN ADVANCE.

MILITARY PLANNING WAS IN “AN ADVANCED STAGE OF READINESS”.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1973 PERTAINING TO LIBYA WAS ALREADY ON THE DRAWING BOARD, MONTHS PRIOR TO THE ONSET OF  THE “PRO-DEMOCRACY” INSURRECTION IN EASTERN LIBYA. … 

Read carefully  ["   " indicate quotation  from "The Southern Mistral 2011" War Games, Scenario)]  
  

On November 02 2010, more than four months prior to the onset of Operation Odyssey Dawn, France and the UK announced the conduct of war games under Operation “SOUTHERN MISTRAL 2011″ against “AN IMAGINARY COUNTRY’ called “SOUTHLAND”, living under a “DICTATORSHIP”  which allegedly “was responsible for an attack against France’s national interests”.  

The Franco-British (humanitarian) air operation against “SOUTHLAND” was to be carried out pursuant to an IMAGINARY “UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION NO: 3003″.

The war games were scheduled to start on March 21, 2011. THESE FRANCO-BRITISH WAR GAMES  NEVER TOOK PLACE. OPERATION “SOUTHERN MISTRAL” WENT LIVE ON MARCH 19, 2011 (two days prior to the scheduled date).

Below is the exact quote and colors from the Franco-British war games website which is hosted by France’s Air Force: 

SOUTHLAND : Dictatorship responsible for an attack against France’s national interests.  

FRANCE : Makes the decision to show its determination to SOUTHLAND (under United Nations Security council resolution n°3003).

UNITED-KINGDOM : Allied country as determined in the bilateral agreement. The United Kingdom supports France through the deployment of its air assets.” (Commandement de la défense aérienne et des opérations aériennes,  Southern Mistral 2011:  Scenario
 

The war games were scheduled to take place from the 21st to the 25 March 2011.

“Six Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s, one tanker Vickers VC-10 and one Boeing E3D will be deployed together with French Air force Mirage 2000Ds, 2000Ns and 2000Cs operating with a fleet of around thirty aircraft including helicopters, Boeing tankers and Awacs radar aircraft.

Air Raid Southern Storm will be commanded and controlled by the National Air Operations Centre (CNOA) of Lyon Mont-Verdun air base (BA 942).

An Air Operations Cell deployed at Nancy air base (BA 133) will follow in real time all the air missions and reproduce the air raids.

Simultaneously, Paratrooper Commando Air 20 (CPA20) will receive its British counterpart in Dijon: the RAF Regiment. Together they will train for air base protection missions on operational theatres in compliance with what is achieved today in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, RAF Regiment members will train in Captieux to helicopters’ air policing measures. These specific procedures are implemented on a daily basis by the Quick reaction Alert FAF air defence helicopters to intervene against “slow movers”.” Welcome to Southern Mistral 11

“An adapted scenario was developed for the exercise.

Based on Western geography, France mostly, an imaginary country was created: SOUTHLAND. An artificial border was drawn inside France to simulate this country.”

 

SOUTHLAND : Dictatorship responsible for an attack against France’s national interests.  

FRANCE : Makes the decision to show its determination to SOUTHLAND (under United Nations Security council resolution n°3003).

UNITED-KINGDOM : Allied country as determined in the bilateral agreement. The United Kingdom supports France through the deployment of its air assets.

NAVARRE : Allied country giving clearance to French and British aircraft to overfly its territory.

(See Commandement de la défense aérienne et des opérations aériennes, Operation Southern Mistral: Scenario)

THESE FRANCO-BRITISH WAR GAMES  NEVER TOOK PLACE. OPERATION “SOUTHERN MISTRAL” WENT LIVE ON MARCH 19, 2011 AGAINST “SOUTHLAND”.

“OPERATION SOUTHERN MISTRAL”  =  “Operation Odyssey Dawn”

“SOUTHLAND” = ”Libya”

“Security Council Resolution 3003″   = ”Security Council Resolution 1973″.

“DICTATORSHIP” = “Qadhaffi Regime”

Under the war games scenario Security Council Resolution 3003 was proposed by France, whereas “the real life” UN Security Council Resolution 1973 was proposed by France, the UK and Lebanon.

The only difference of substance is that “SOUTHLAND” (aka Libya), the so-called imaginary Southern country for the war games was inserted inside the territory of Southern France (See Map above THE UK IS GREEN, FRANCE IS BLUE, SOUTHLAND IS RED AND NAVARRE IS ORANGE). (Navarre ‘Navarra” designates a region of  Northern Spain).  

The imaginary location of this imaginary Southern country called “SOUTHLAND” was not really an issue, because the war games were postponed…     

The French Air Force announced (in English) the “Suspension of exercise Southern Mistral 2011 [against SOUTHLAND]… Due to the current international events [BOMBING OF LIBYA], exercise Southern Mistral has been suspended.”  Suspension of exercise Southern Mistral 2011. The French version uses the term Mise en veille which means “put on standby” (Mise en veille de l’exercice Southern Mistral 2011). THE OPERATION WAS NOT “PUT ON STANDBY”: THE BRITISH AND FRENCH WAR PLANES WHICH WERE TO BE DEPLOYED AS PART OF OPERATION “SOUTHERN MISTRAL” INCLUDING FRANCE’S MIRAGE 2000 AND BRITAIN’S TORNADO GR4A WERE SENT TO BOMB LIBYA.


France’s Mirage 2000 used in Operation Odyssey Dawn against Libya,
slated to be used in the Southern Mistral war games agains “Southland”.  

Royal Air Force Tornado GR4A slated to be deployed in
the Southern Mistral war games against “Southland”.

What can be said regarding these war games, the attacks on Libya and United Nations Security council resolutions 3003 and 1973?….

We invite our readers to think and reflect on the logic of military planning.

Military operations of this size and magnitude are never improvised. The war on Libya as well as the armed insurrection were planned months prior to the Arab protest movement. In the words of  Rep. Denis Kucinich:

“While war games are not uncommon, the similarities between ‘Southern Mistral’ and ‘Operation Odyssey Dawn’ highlight just how many unanswered questions remain regarding our own military planning for Libya.

The ‘Southern Mistral’ war games called for Great Britain-French air strikes against an unnamed dictator of a fictional country, “Southland.” The pretend attack was authorized by a pretend United Nations Security Council Resolution. The ‘Southern Mistral’ war games were set for March 21-25, 2011.

On March 19, 2011, the United States joined France and Great Britain in an air attack against Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

Scheduling a joint military exercise that ends up resembling real military action could be seen as remarkable planning by the French and British, but it also highlights questions  regarding the United States’ role in planning for the war. We don’t know how long the attack on Libya has been in preparation, but Congress must find out. We don’t know who the rebels really represent and how they became armed, but Congress must find out. (Denis Kucinich, Kucinich: President Had Time to Consult with International Community, Not Congress? | Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, Press Release, March 29, 2011)

 A new report released today by SIPRI, a Swedish-based think tank, reveals that U.S. military spending has almost doubled since 2001. The U.S. spent an astounding $698 billion on the military last year, an 81% increase over the last decade.

U.S. spending on the military last year far exceeded any other country. We spent six times more than China — the second largest spender. Overall, the world expended $1.6 trillion on the military, with the United States accounting for the lion’s share:

As a percentage of GDP, U.S. military spending has increased from 3.1% in 2001 to 4.8% last year.

The report notes that, “even in the face of efforts to bring down the soaring US budget deficit, military spending continues to receive privileged treatment.” Indeed, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and others on the right are passing legislation increasing defense spending. At the same time, they are insisting on massive cuts to social programs that provide vital assistance to the elderly, the poor and the middle class.

 

AC-130 gunship
The AC-130 gunship used by the U.S.
military for ground attacks in Libya

The stage is now set for the imperialist invasion of Libya.

The former colonizing and enslaving powers of Africa—Britain, France and the United States—have committed themselves to the ouster of the Libyan government.

Frustrated that the NATO bombing campaign has failed to secure a victory for the anti-Gadaffi rebels, the main NATO powers are preparing a dramatic escalation of the war. They hope the threat of escalation will convince Gadaffi and his associates to leave power as the threat of a land invasion in June 1999 led Milosevic to capitulate and allow NATO forces to take over Kosovo. Or, as an alternative, they will launch a military invasion of the country.

“… [I]t is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi in power,” wrote Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy, and David Cameron in a joint article published simultaneously in the New York Times and several European newspapers on April 15.

Their stated pretext to “protect civilians” in Libya’s civil war (Resolution 1973 passed by the U.N. Security Council on March 17 with Russia, China, Germany, Brazil, and India abstaining) has given way in this latest public proclamation to their actual intention to replace the Libyan government with a new proxy regime in the country that holds the largest oil reserves in the African continent.

“No political settlement in which the dictator remains in place will work. The West and its partners must be ready to maintain political, economic and military pressure until he is gone,” states the New York Times in its April 15 lead editorial.

Do not be fooled by the anti-dictatorial motivation of the New York Times. When the CIA and British intelligence overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh and replaced it with the dictatorship of the Shah, the New York Times editorialized: “Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost to be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism.”

Mossadegh had earned the label of “fanatic” because he had dared nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (aka British Petroleum) and use the profits of Iran’s oil to bring the country out of immense poverty.

All the targets of imperialist invasion and “regime change” strategies are fully demonized prior to aggression. From Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, the Congo in 1961, Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989, Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 to Iraq in 2003, the process of selective demonization of leaders is a precursor to aggression. The motives of the invaders are pure and noble. The bombs they drop are smart. They only kill bad people who are the enemies of freedom.

At these moments, the money-gouging corrupt politicians of both sides of the aisle in Washington, D.C.—from Tea Party Republicans to most Democratic Party politicians—mainly put aside all differences to join the chorus of the holy condemning the targeted demon as the troops are assembled, the war planes take to the skies and the cruise missiles crash into their targets. They are patriotic to the Empire and realize that their privileged and pampered employment as the “people’s representatives” can be quickly ended if they resolutely defy the war makers and their mass media propaganda machine. They, too, can be demonized if they step too far out of line.

The people of the United States do not want this war. They want the war in Afghanistan and Iraq—two other wars for Empire—ended now. They can see through the lies of the government that says the country is so broke that tens of thousands of teachers, nurses and other public sector workers must be fired. Yet the same government, pursuing a global imperialist foreign policy that benefits the biggest banks and oil corporations, has limitless funds to invade and occupy the lands of other working people.

Brian Becker is National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition

How do the powerful keep the US population dumb and distracted?  A key tactic has been using methodologies that produce totally misleading underestimates of key economic factors.  First we learned that official unemployment figures are too low by a factor of two.  Now, understand that the official rate of inflation hitting consumers is even more inaccurate.  You will hear about a low inflation rate of less than 3 percent.  In reality, it is closer to 10 percent, according to the highly regarded analysis by John Williams.

It is difficult for any one of us to have first hand evidence that unemployment nationally is really much higher than what the government says, even though most of us know people who are out of work or taking part time work out of sheer necessity.  But when it comes to rising prices hitting our pockets, credit cards and checkbooks we have a much clearer sense of what is really happening.  Gasoline prices have jumped more than 10 percent in recent weeks and for most of us is about a dollar more a gallon than a year ago or so.  Some experts are predicting that $4 gas will soon hit most of the nation and, even worse, that $5 gas may hit us this summer.

Food prices are also jumping like a frog on crack cocaine.  Many of them are masked by smaller weight packaging.  Health care costs, especially insurance premiums and drugs, have also hit many Americans substantially and painfully.  High inflation especially hits hard those people who have seen their incomes decline.  Those on Social Security receiving no cost-of-living increase have every right to be angry.

The federal government is manipulating statistics to intentionally get a low number for inflation as well as unemployment in order to mask just how awful and unfair the economy really is.  Political leaders in both major parties use this propaganda strategy, as if there are simply too few intelligent Americans to see through the lies.  Sadly, they seem to be correct.  And the mass media push the propaganda strategy by continually hyping and spreading the intentionally false data.

“We have inflation now.  If you go to the shop, whether it’s groceries, or education or insurance or health care, prices are going up for everything.  The government lies about it in the US ,” said Jim Rogers back in June, 2010.  It has only gotten worse.

At this time John Williams has correctly described economic reality: “Near-term circumstances generally have continued to deteriorate.  Though not yet commonly recognized, there is both an intensifying double-dip recession and a rapidly escalating inflation problem.”  Wow!  How does that compare to all the glib recovery talk by President Obama and just about everyone else in government?

In addition to banks and financial companies too big to fail that benefit the rich, when it comes to the economy plutocrats think it is too bad to tell the truth.

Who is falling for the economic propaganda?  Gallup measures optimism about the economy as a function of age, income and political party affiliation.  Worst of all are Democrats and the young.

Meanwhile the Federal Reserve keeps printing money to cope with the budget deficit and national debt problems, which is a major reason for the sharp increases in gasoline prices.

None of any of this, of course, matters much to the rich and powerful Upper Class that is doing just fine and buying more luxury things.  And the fat cats on Wall Street and in the financial sector are giving themselves huge bonuses and salaries.  Dr. Phil of television fame is selling his $15 million mansion estate so he can buy an even bigger one for $30 million.

Over at Ford, the chief exec recently received $56.5 million in stock and last year pulled down an additional $26.5 million in annual compensation. The latter amounts to 910 times the annual pay of entry-level Ford workers.

In 2011, Americans who make over $1 million will pay just 23.1 percent of their incomes in federal income tax.  In 1961, the Institute for Policy Studies notes in its newly released annual Tax Day report, Americans who made over $1 million — in our current dollars — paid 43.1 percent of their incomes to the IRS.  That was when the middle class was prospering.

If congressional Republicans get their way, the middle class will feel considerable pain from program-cutting tactics to curb the national debt, while the rich Upper Class gets more tax breaks and keeps sapping the wealth of the nation as Democrats lack the courage to fight hard for increasing their taxes.  With rising economic inequality the US is rapidly becoming a two-class society: 20 percent rich and 80 percent poor.

Meanwhile, whenever I listen to Obama and congressional leaders it is like watching a skit on Saturday Night Live or the Daily Show.  They are that absurd.

How many more millions of Americans must experience more pain and suffering, go hungry, lose their homes, lose their jobs, postpone retirement, and go without decent health care before the public snaps out of their stupor?  Not that there is very much optimism among Americans.  In a University of Michigan March survey just 11 percent expect inflation-adjusted income gains during the year ahead, barely above the all-time low of 8 percent in 1980, and only 21 percent expect the economy to improve over the coming year.  But where is the loud political outrage?  Loud enough to scare the hell out of politicians and the rich.

When will Americans rise up as those in Tunisia and Egypt did and before that in former Soviet-bloc nations and tear down their corrupt and dysfunctional government?

Unemployment at 20 percent, inflation at 10 percent, a multi-trillion dollar national debt, and nothing but lies from politicians.  Have you had enough?  Do you still believe that voting in different Republicans or Democrats will fix things?

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through delusionaldemocracy.com.]

Rampant Unemployment: Slip-sliding into Recession

April 16th, 2011 by Mike Whitney

In June, the Fed’s bond buying binge (QE2) will end and the economy will have to muddle through on its own. And, that’s going to be tough-sledding, because QE2 provided a $600 billion drip-feed to ailing markets which helped to lift the S&P 500 12% from the time the program kicked off in November 2010. Absent the additional monetary easing, the big banks and brokerages will have to rely on low interest rates alone while facing a chilly investment climate where belt-tightening and hairshirts are all-the-rage and where consumers are still licking their wounds from the Great Recession. None of this bodes well for the markets or for the millions of jobless workers who continue to fall off the unemployment rolls only to find that the social safety net has been sold to pay off the mushrooming budget deficits.

So, what are the odds that the economy will tumble back into recession?

First, let’s look at the stock market and an article by Marketwatch’s Mark Hulbert:

“There have been only four other occasions over the last century when equity valuations were as high as they are now, according to a variant of the price-earnings ratio that has a wide following in academic circles. Stocks on each of those four occasions would soon suffer big declines….

The four previous occasions over the last 100 years that saw the CAPE as high as they are now:

The late 1920s, right before the 1929 stock market crash

The mid-1960s, prior to the 16-year period in which the Dow went nowhere in nominal terms and was decimated in inflation-adjusted terms

The late 1990s, just prior to the popping of the internet bubble

The period leading up to the October 2007 stock market high, just prior to the Great Recession and associated credit crunch

To be sure, a conclusion based on a sample containing just four events cannot be conclusive from a statistical point of view. Still, it will be hard to argue that the current stock market is undervalued or even fairly valued….” (“History bodes ill for stock market,” Mark Hulbert, Marketwatch)

Well, that doesn’t sound too good, does it? The markets appear to be at a tipping point while consumers are still deleveraging to get out of the red. But at least another credit expansion is underway, right? Isn’t that what Bernanke just said two weeks ago? That’s should keep the economic-flywheel spinning-along until consumer demand picks up, right?

Ahhh, if it was only true. But, it’s not. There is no credit expansion; it’s just more public relations fluff like “green shoots” and “self sustaining recovery”. Here’s a blurp from Gluskin Sheff’s chief economist David Rosenberg who breaks down in the credit picture in plain English:

“Consider this: We know that consumer credit, ex-student loans, is still contracting. And we know from National Federation of Independent Business that “the vast majority of small businesses (93 percent) reported that all their credit needs were met or that they were not interested in borrowing.”…

And this—also from The Big Picture blogsite:

“The new U.S. consumer credit numbers reflect an economy that is reaccelerating, and that is very bullish for growth – as well as inflation. All in all, U.S. household credit surged by $7.62 billion in February, ramping up faster than at any other time since June 2008.

I respectfully beg to differ. While the story gives a passing nod to the rise in student loans, the fact of the matter is that student loans are virtually the whole story, and the downward trend/trajectory in credit, save that category, has really not reversed.” (“Fade the Consumer Credit Headline”, The Big Picture)

Sure, student loans and subprime auto loans have been surging, but that’s mainly due to crafty sales-hype and government subsidies rather than real organic demand. The truth is, consumers are still hunkered down and adding to their savings. They’re shunning additional debt regardless of low rates and other inducements. So demand is still weak and getting weaker as food and energy prices soar. And, while its true that core inflation is still hovering around 1%, headline inflation has zoomed to 0.5% in the last month alone. What does it mean? It means that the average working slob can’t buy Mom that new waffle-iron because he shot the wad filling his behemoth SUV with CITCO unleaded.

It’s the same for retail sales, which increased by a whopping 0.4% in March. Only, don’t drill too far into the numbers or you’ll find the truth, that apres gasoline, the number drops to a paltry 0.1%, hardly worth mentioning. So, times are tough for consumers and they’re about to get a lot tougher as the GOP-led Congress takes its meatcleaver to the 2012 budget and the states are forced to dump payrolls and slash services to the poor and needy. It’s all bad.

Is it any wonder why small business owners are so dejected and don’t see a glimmer of light anywhere? Check out this article from the Wall Street Journal:

Small business owners became more worried about the economy in March, according to data released Tuesday….The National Federation of Independent Business‘s small-business optimism index fell 2.6 points to 91.9 in March….

Despite worries about future demand, small business owners plan to increase their selling prices. The report said the seasonally adjusted net percentage of owners reporting higher selling prices increased to 9% in March, from 5% in February. The reading has risen 20 percentage points since last September, the report said.

The NFIB said a major force behind the price increases is the elimination of excess inventories. The report also said profits are “badly in need of some price support.”….

The increased pessimism among small business owners in March echoes more downbeat views among U.S. consumers that showed up in two major surveys of household attitudes last month. (“Small-Business Optimism Declines”, Wall Street Journal)

Not only are small business owners feeling depressed, but consumer confidence is plunging as well. This is from Gallup:

“Americans’ optimism about the future direction of the U.S. economy plunged in March for the second month in a row, as the percentage of Americans saying the economy is “getting better” fell to 33% — down from 41% in January.

Economic Optimism Declines Across Demographic Groups

While upper-income Americans remain more optimistic than their lower- and middle-income counterparts, optimism among both groups declined substantially in March. Despite Wall Street’s strong first quarter performance, the percentage of upper-income Americans saying the economy is getting better fell to 41% in March from 50% in January, leaving it at the same level as a year ago. Lower- and middle-income Americans’ economic optimism also fell in March, to 32%, from 40% in January….

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index Also Takes a Plunge in March….

…American consumers face several major challenges. Soaring gas and food prices not only reduce disposable income but also discourage additional spending as the cost of necessities increases. Global events, continued political battles about the budget in the nation’s capital, and a weak, if modestly improving job market add to consumer uncertainties. As a result, it is not surprising that consumer confidence plummets even as Wall Street continues to do well.

However, if consumers continue to lack confidence and spending doesn’t increase, it is hard to see how the U.S. economy can continue its modest improvement…” (“U.S. Economic Optimism Plummets in March”, Gallup)

So, yes, the rich and well-heeled are feeling quite good about things of late, but the rest of us are in a constant state of near-panic just trying to figure out how we’re going to keep the wolves away from the door. That may explain why–after 10 years of Bush & Obama–a growing number of Americans have given up on capitalism altogether. It’s true! Take a look at this from GlobeScan:

“American public support for the free market economy has dropped sharply in the past year, and is now lower than in China, according to a GlobeScan poll released today.

The findings, drawn from 12,884 interviews across 25 countries, show that there has been a sharp fall in the number of Americans who think that the free market economy is the best economic system for the future.

When GlobeScan began tracking views in 2002, four in five Americans (80%) saw the free market as the best economic system for the future—the highest level of support among tracking countries. Support started to fall away in the following years and recovered slightly after the financial crisis in 2007/8, but has plummeted since 2009, falling 15 points in a year so that fewer than three in five (59%) now see free market capitalism as the best system for the future….

The results mean that a number of the world’s major emerging economies have now matched or overtaken the USA in their enthusiasm for the free market. The Chinese and Brazilians, 67 per cent of whom regard the free market system as the best on offer, are now more positive about capitalism than Americans…. (“Sharp Drop in American Enthusiasm for Free Market, Poll Shows”, GlobeScan)

Whoa! How do you like them apples? The Chinese like capitalism more than Americans now. Can you believe it? And look at the beating that free markets took under Obama; down a hefty 15 points in one year, even worse than Bush?!? And, do you know why? Because even though things were scarier under Bush, most people still believed we could turn things around at the ballot box. Now they know they can’t. Now they know the system is broken on a fundamental level and the changes they want can’t be achieved through the political process.

And Gallup wonders why we’re so depressed?

As for the economy, the problem is still deflation. The Fed’s zero rates and $2 trillion in monetary stimulus have revved up stock prices and sent commodities skyrocketing, but housing prices continue to fall, unemployment is way too high (8.8%), and there’s excess capacity throughout the system. Personal consumption will continue to flag due to stagnant wages and battered household balance sheets. That means demand will be weak and revenues will continue to shrink. Austerity-minded congressmen will further dampen the recovery by cutting costs and reducing aid to the states.

So, who’s going to invest in this environment? Who’s going to bet on a rosy future of booming sales and bulging profits when they know that the government is going on a fat-free diet, liquidity is drying up, and the Fed is pulling the plug on its emergency bond buying program?

No one, that’s who.

That’s why the end of June could be the tipping point, because when QE2 ends, deflationary pressures will reemerge and the economy will begin to teeter.

Eventually policymakers will see that fiscal stimulus is the only way to pull the economy out of the mud, but only after they have exhausted all the other options.

The letter below was sent to me by Asma Al Haidari, who follows the news of the Friday demonstrations in Iraq. These peaceful demonstrations have been going on for weeks now. Today was called “ the Friday of the Free ”. Western media reported about Egypt and Tunisia but they will – again – fail to report about this democratic movement. Occupation is the highest form of dictatorship, but the Americans call it “democracy”, “freedom”, “liberty”. And this occupation that is enslaving a nation of 26 million Iraqi citizens, is far from over.

The US Embassy in Baghdad, already the largest in the world, is expected to double its staff from 8.000 to 16.000 “civilians” after American forces pull out of the country later this year. http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/04/02-0 . And a private security force some 5,500 strong will protect the large US diplomatic presence in Iraq . I guess that they will have to issue hand-held GPS’s so that the 16,000 “non-military staff” can find their offices in the new and upgraded US Embassy in the ” Emerald City “! Just what are all of these people going to do?

For as long as I can recall, the US has always told the UN that it is an inflated organization and that it could easily function with half the current staff members. The UN’s website states the following today:

” The UN Secretariat employs some 7,750 staff members under the regular budget and some 8,230 under special funding. Coming from nearly 175 countries, they administer the UN’s policies and programmes in New York and at duty stations around the world. The UN system as a whole – the UN and its related programmes and specialized agencies, including the World Bank and the IMF – employs some 63,450 people worldwide. ” http://www.un.org/geninfo/ir/index.asp?id=160  

This means that a “diplomatic mission”, the US Embassy in ONLY ONE CITY, Baghdad , will employ one-fourth of the number of UN staff worldwide!!! The mind boggles.

If the Americans consider Iraq so important that 16.000 of their staff + 5.500 mercenaries for protection will be deployed there, how come the solidarity work of the peace movement is so weak today when it comes to Iraq ? Can anyone explain? Something is not right here. The Iraqi demonstrations should be wholeheartedly supported by the whole Western civil society, to give the Iraqi courageous protesters a clear signal that they are not alone.

Here’s Asma Al Haidari’s comments on today’s protests.

“What am I to write to you about today? The Friday of the Free???

For this is what our young revolutionaries have called it.

What am I to start with? Mosul or Tahrir Square …. I will start with the courageous and long suffering men, women, children and youth of Iraq in Tahrir – my tears are streaming down uncontrollably – a man of 50 who cries and says Death to Iran – Death to America – Death to Maliki – 80% of Parliament and the people who rule are Iranians – no loyalty to Iraq – Long Live Iraq – all our sons are in detention centers – my 16 year old son is in prison – Iraq is the crown on our heads – we will all die for Iraq – Iraq will live forever – then a young man who says Down with Sectarianism- Down with the Quota System – Death to Iran – let all Iraqi Young Men rebel and fight for Iraq – If Mohammed is a Sunni then I am a Shi’i – we are all one – we are all brothers – we all have the same blood – women – women cry and men – grown up men cry tears of agony and anguish for Iraq and for our sons and daughters – for our country that has been raped and pillaged

Dirk, where is the free western press???? Ah, Dirk the scenes in Tahrir were phenomenal because Maliki and his henchmen yesterday ordered people to demonstrate in two football grounds – again on a sectarian basis can you imagine???? But he is a stupid man – so are his advisors – the Iraqis are much too intelligent and clever for all of this and demonstrated that they are now at the point of no return in their rebellion and revolt – they assembled in Tahrir and told Maliki and his parliamentarians to go and play football in the stadiums he has assigned!

The young man who said let’s all unite and fight – yes, armed resistance is what he is speaking about – continued to say that Maliki and his parliamentarians seem to be equating their demonstrations with a game – well, we will show you that we are not playing. He says that if we do not demonstrate in Tahrir then we will return to Armed Resistance and get martyred for Iraq – he also said that he was sure a massacre was going to be committed by the security forces against the demonstrators, today.

These same security forces that could not stop them from coming to Tahrir.

Men, women, and children, and Christians who are speaking out about the “government’s” criminality against them – it was amazing and enthralling! The crushed Iraqi middle class in all its colours and hues is out and will remain out – this is the beginning of civil disobedience – all very peaceful but full of force and commands respect and a bowing of our heads to them.

The women who are in Tahrir are in the hundreds – all women whose sons or husbands have disappeared in Maliki’s and the Occupation’s secret prisons – Iraqis have broken the chains – the world should watch out – But the world is so silent and apparently deaf and blind as well.

Can’t the world see that this revolution is totally different – that we are a people and a country under occupation – and that we have slowly started to take our rights back and to free ourselves.

You can feel the atmosphere of Tahrir – you can see and feel the life that is Tahrir – Tahrir belongs to the People – Of course all the bridges and streets leading to Tahrir were cut off but people came all the same and are still there – They are chanting that Maliki is a liar and a thief – they are chanting that whoever does not say Tahrir – “Liberation” then his life is a loss – They are daring the security forces who are there in great numbers to detain them – I have always known and told you what we are made of – Dirk, how can people not love the Iraqi People – how could the Americans have ever thought that they can colonize us?????

I am amazed at the fact that the United States believed the lies that it was told about us – I am amazed – then you come to Mosul – ah brave and courageous Mosul where for the past 6 days a huge demonstration and gathering has been gradually grown in numbers and today there are 5,000 people in The Square of the Free – the old prison square – all the tribal sheikhs who had not sold themselves to the occupation came from the very south of Iraq, Nassiriya and Basra, led by Shaikh Salim Al Thabbab – The Prince of Rabee’a and Sheyban , tribal sheikhs and leaders from Kut, Diyala, a contingent of Kurdish demonstrators from Azadi Square in Sulaymaniya whose leader put on the “Iqal” – the traditional headgear of Arab men and said that we are all Iraqis – and stood under the old Iraqi flag – they came from Haweeja and Tikreet – a tribal chief from Tilkaif – the Christians in the north as well as tribal leaders from Anbar, Kubaissa and Fallujah – we have come together again, this time publicly – for all the world to see but what is most amusing is that today the American Occupation’s helicopters made a great entrance on the stage demonstrating that the American Administration really does believe the democracy it alleges it brought to Iraq is in fact equal to garbage …. No really, Dirk, I really mean it literally!

It was funny and it is all on film – daily, since the vigil and demonstration started in Mosul , American helicopters buzzed the demonstrators and the demonstrators answered back by throwing their shoes and slippers at them in disdain! Today, the helicopters performed what they considered their coup de grace! By flying very low over their heads and throwing down bags of garbage! This is the American sham called “democracy” and this is their attempt to colonize Iraq – they should read history and anthropology a bit more carefully from now on!

When the people in the Square of the Free were asked for comments their answers were that the Americans throw garbage at us every day since the occupation – all the enriched uranium; all the white phosphorous; all the drugs and aids; all the disease, tyranny, oppression, plunder, theft lies and illiteracy they brought with them amongst much more – so we, Iraqis, know everything and we will have justice at the end of the day when a new dawn comes – the feeling is that it is going to be quite soon.

In the Square of the Free, united Friday Prayers were held for the 5,000 – women, poets, lawyers and the important Muslawi Business Merchant community joined – they all signed their names in blood in the Register of the Honoured. A young couple insisted that their wedding should take place in the square today!

Again, I ask, where is the world – where are the free men and women who opposed this war – is there no man no woman, who feels that justice is on his side and that he should speak freely and forcefully about us?????

Reading the NY Times one would believe that their correspondents must be living on another planet – amazing. They are so silent – all the mainstream press, in fact.

Today, there were large demonstrations in Basra , all over Anbar province and and Babil as well – in Diwaniya they were threatened by the security forces that they would all be detained. Of course, Sulaymaniya in the tens of thousands in Azadi Sqaure. I also heard a tribal chief from Tel’laafer say that 10 large vehicles were on their way to Mosul when they were stopped by the notorious general Ghannam and told why do you want to go to Mosul – they are all Sunnis and terrorists and you are Shi’is! and were turned back – the scene is developing and is building up –

I’ll keep you in touch but please check the English page of the Great Iraqi Revolution for all the videos etc… which will be posted soon.”

Sallams, Dirk.

Asma Al Haidari

Dirk Adriaensens is a member of the B Russell s Tribunal Executive Committee

Philippines: Organic farming is cost-effective

April 16th, 2011 by Paul Icamina

Organic farming is not just chic food on the table; it has reached policy levels.

“It is no longer only the concern of farmers making decisions on what organic crops to grow and livestock to raise, but also for researchers and policy makers,” said Reynaldo L. Villareal of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).

NAST convened a roundtable discussion on organic farming and its role in agriculture; the deliberations will be discussed during NAST’s 33rd annual scientific meeting in July.

Villareal, NAST’s lead person on organic agriculture and formerly a professor at the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB), defined organic agriculture as farming which excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, growth regulators, livestock feed additives and genetically modified organisms.

Organic agriculture is one approach to reduce production cost for 75 percent of Filipino farmers who are poor, said Dr. Charito P. Medina, National Coordinator of MASIPAG (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development). “Their yields is often low, their farming technology inappropriate.”

While chemical fertilizer is still needed, he said, it is too dependent on oil, requiring 1 ton of oil and 108 tons of water to make 1 ton of nitrogen fertilizer, for example.

It is a viable enterprise, Medina said, citing a net income that is higher with organic rice farming compared to conventional systems that use chemical inputs

like pesticides and fertilizers.

MASIPAG-trained farmers have not used chemical pesticides for decades now, he said, with ducks for example an excellent natural control against golden snail; “it converts biomass into eggs and meat as well,” he observed.

MASIPAG organic farms, he said, average 6.7 tons of rice per hectare in North Cotabato, more than 7 tons per hectare in Laguna but only 5.1 tons per hectare in Surigao del Sur where soils are poor.

Edgardo S. Uychiat, president of the Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Foundation, pointed out that in Bago, Negros Occidental, for example, a farmer averages 7 tons per hectare of organic rice compared with 6.3 tons per hectare for conventional rice farming.

A diversified organic farming system managed by Iliranan tribals at Mt. Kanlaon earns P332,000 in annual gross sales compared with P72,00 gross sales with traditional monocrop rice farming.

In Sagay town, an organic sugar farm averages yields of 60 tons per hectare, compared with 65 tons per hectare in non-organic farms. There are about 400 hectares of certified organic sugar farms in Negros Occidental, Uychiat said.

Farmers growing organic coffee in a rainforest, not plantation, setting have improved yields from 0.8 kilogram per tree in 2207 to 1.2 kgs per tree in 2009. They report a 20-percent increase in income; this year, Negros farmers will plant 1 million trees of arabica coffee to offset imports.

About 880 small farmers and 12 companies are certified as growing organic crops in 1,300 hectares in Negros Occidental; the province has banned the cultivation of genetically modified crops.

“You can debate about the ban for years, but the organic market doesn’t like gene-modified crops,” Uychiat said.

“The Philippines has great prospects for organic chicken and meat,” said Dr. Angel L. Lambio of the Animal Breeding and Physiology, Animal and Dairy Sciences Cluster, UPLB College of Agriculture.

“We have our very own native chickens as stocks, we have large tracts of fertile lands to produce organic feeds, we could produce medicinal plants for maintaining flock health, and production could be year-round with minimal expense on housing and facilities,” he said.

One constraint is that the free-range colored chickens called Sasso and Kabir that are used for organic production are imported; because supply is erratic,native chicken is an attractive option.

Almost half of the country’s chicken inventory is native and raised by small farms primary for home consumption and as a source of extra income, Lambio observed.

“Their production and reproductive performance are variable, indicating a high potential for genetic improvement through the application of appropriate selection methods and mating systems,” he said.

The quality attributes of native chicken include strong and distinct flavor; lean ,with very, very small amount of fat; and no harmful chemicals.

“Our problem is actually limited volume to supply a niche market,” Lambio said. “There is a demand, as shown by the 3,000 to 7,000 heads of native chicken traded in a Batangas market every Friday.

“The supply of organic feeds like corn, soybean and legume, is also a constraint,” he said. “Other organic feeds are still being imported by commercial producers of organic chickens.”

Self-sufficiency is doable the natural way, he said, with feeds that include rice and corn and their by-products, legumes, chopped root crops, banana and coconut meat. 

Europe continues to struggle from one problem to another. The euro has been strong only because the dollar has been weak. The governments of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain continue their balancing acts on the edge of a financial precipice. All have Socialist governments, which have done terrible jobs, but the opposition is not much better. Each economy is in serious trouble and if Italy and Belgium follow it will take $4 trillion to bail them out. If the solvent EU members bail them out they’ll fail as well. Americans and Brits can look down their noses, but their problems are just as bad if not worse. They all have practiced different versions of Keynesian economics that has been disastrous. Their fiscal and monetary policies have been and continue to be out of control, as corruption abounds. The solutions are unpalatable, especially for politicians, because they all spell austerity. We have just seen the European Central Bank raise interest rates as euro zone economies slow, as they hope to arrest 2.8% official inflation. Real inflation is double that number.

We predicted $4 trillion would be needed to bail out Europe some time ago and Germany and the other solvent nations have come to the same conclusion. Even if it were possible, those six nations would live in poverty for the next 50 years. That is hardly a solution. The underlying problem lies with the central banks and the lending banks. Loans to these nations for whatever reason should have never been made in the first place. The bankers who lend money that they create out of thin air knew what they were doing and they knew full well the risks they were taking; 80% of the blame lies at their feet, thus, 80% of the bill is their responsibility, not that of the taxpayers of these countries. Months ago Germany was offered 50 cents on the dollar to settle its debt owed by Greece. The offer was rejected. In time that rejection will be viewed as a major mistake. As a result Greece’s Illuminist president is in the process of laying plans to collateralize new debt repayment commitments with Greek assets such as islands, ports, the rail system, the electric and gas companies and any asset not nailed down. That is why George Soros had top people from JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs with him two weeks ago when be attended secret meetings in Athens. The underlying theme is let’s steal everything. Greek GDP will probably fall 4% this year, as wages and salaries have been slashed. Banks like JPM and GS that create money out of thin air do not care about the money, they want the assets.

Central bank bond buyers last year cut their exposure to Greece, Ireland and Portugal. These actions were prompted by concerns over sovereign default and were replaced by purchases of gold. The euro zone, England and the US have large deficits and only modest growth generated by QE and stimulus. Conditions now question debt sustainability. Debt rollover in Europe is acute, especially for Irish and German banks, with as much as half of their outstanding debt coming due over the next two years. As you know the IMF and EU have bailed out Greece and Ireland with Portugal in process. Spain is next and that is more than a $1 trillion problem. European banks are buried in euro zone sovereign debt, which makes them very vulnerable. In fact bank balance sheets are in terrible straights and need to raise significant amounts of capital to further participate in funding markets. At the present time they are in no condition to take on more paper.

In Greece the budget deficit may be only 8.1% of GDP, but the economy is stagnant as GDP declines. Overall public debt is about 150% of GDP. We have a difficult time envisioning Greece not defaulting. That is why the moneylenders want almost everything the Greek government owns as collateral. The socialist government of Illuminist George Papandreau cannot handle the job just as his Marxist father Andreas couldn’t handle it 25 years ago. Today’s Greece is still suffering from terrible decisions made during the 1980s. The bottom line is Greece probably will default and they should default. It is the only answer for them and the other five insolvent countries of the euro zone.

All these six countries are victims of one-interest rate fits all that we wrote about 12 years ago, as a disaster waiting to happen. That is why in the first quarter in Ireland the average house price fell 43% from the peak. Prices have a lot further to fall. Some say to 63%, which will probably be worse than in some sections of the US. Ireland has been sold out by its politicians and has little hope of survival without bankruptcy. Their economy is not doing that badly – it is the debt of the banks that government assumed that would take them under. The banks that caused these problems cannot help or they’ll go under, which are just deserts considering they were running a Ponzi scheme.

Portugal on June 5th will probably get a new center-right government. The economy will continue to decline with a budget deficit of 7% of GDP, as wages and the living standard declines. Like Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal should have never joined the euro. The original mistakes to prepare Europe for world government are now coming home to roost. In the late 1980s we spent a great deal of time in Portugal and we could see it wasn’t going to work. Just as an example, in preparation for acceptance, we saw prices rise 50% to bring Portugal up to the levels of other more advanced European countries. As we have seen amalgamation was a very bad idea.

Spain’s banks are carrying real estate on their books at twice their real value. Again it is the banks that are the problem. The sovereign debt is low, but in recent years the socialist government has far over spent. The phony house prices will come down to earth sooner or later and you will see a replay of the US and Ireland. For the next few years’ growth will be negative. Spain will need a bailout, but can the IMF and EU afford another $1 trillion? We don’t think so.

Like in other countries inflation is rising in Europe and it is going to get worse. Do not think for one second that a ¼% rise in official interest rates by the ECB is really going to change anything. The official EU inflation rate is 2.6%, whereas real inflation is 5.5%. In the US the official rate is 1.9% and the real rate is 8-1/2%. Realistically far higher rates are on the way for this year and next year and that means higher real interest rates. The US will see 14% real inflation this year along with England and 10% to 12% in Europe. Will the US see QE3, or an equivalent and will Europe and England do the same – probably? If they do not there will be hyperinflation. Those countries will go directly into deflationary depression. The elitists who planned all this are quite well aware of the options. If the Fed stops buying Treasury paper the US will go into default. The same is true for Europe, but on a piecemeal basis. This is why if the Fed and the ECB are going to more quantitative easing they had best do it quickly before inflation makes it impossible to do so, Remember, all the monetary expansion done by the Fed and ECB over the past 2-1/2 years is still in the pipeline. A year and one-half from now you may not be able to sell sovereign debt.

Most analysts and economists look at all these events in a logical fashion. They say many mistakes were made, but few realize these were not mistakes. What we are seeing was deliberately created. The study of monetary and financial history shows you the way and lets you better understand what these elitists are up too. We are now entering a time frame that is going to be financially explosive. If you are not prepared you are going to be very unhappy. That is why gold and silver related assets are important for your future.

Washington’s “Long War” against Africa

April 16th, 2011 by Prof. James Petras

The US bombing of Libya in support of rebel clients in the spring of 2011 is part and parcel of a sustained policy of military intervention in Africa since at least the mid 1950’s.

According to a US Congressional Research Service Study [1] published in November 2010, Washington has dispatched anywhere between hundreds and several thousand combat troops, dozens of fighter planes and warships to buttress client dictatorships or to unseat adversarial regimes in dozens of countries, almost on a yearly bases.

The record shows the US armed forces intervened 46 times prior to the current Libyan wars[2]. The countries suffering one or more US military intervention include the Congo, Zaire, Libya, Chad, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea.

The only progressive intervention was in Egypt under Eisenhower who forced the Israeli-French-English forces to withdraw from the Suez in 1956.

Between the mid 1950’s to the end of the 1970’s, only 4 overt military operations were recorded, though large scale proxy and clandestine military operations were pervasive. Under Reagan-Bush Sr. (1980-1991) military intervention accelerated, rising to 8, not counting the large scale clandestine ‘special forces’ and proxy wars in Southern Africa. Under the Clinton regime, US militarized imperialism in Africa took off. Between 1992 and 2000, 17 armed incursions took place, including a large scale invasion of Somalia and military backing for the Rwanda genocidal regime.[3]

Clinton intervened in Liberia, Gabon, Congo and Sierra Leone to prop up a long standing stooge regime. He bombed the Sudan and dispatched military personnel to Kenya and Ethiopia to back proxy clients assaulting Somalia. Under Bush Jr. 15 US military interventions took place, mainly in Central and East Africa.

The Obama regime’s invasion and bombing of Libya is a continuation of a longstanding imperial practice designed to enhance US power via the installation of client regimes, the establishment of military bases and the training and indoctrination of African mercenary forces dubbed “collaborative partners”. There is no question that there is a rising tide of imperial militarism in the US over the past several decades.

Most of the US’ African empire is disproportionally built on military links to client military chiefs. The Pentagon has military ties with 53 African countries (including Libya prior to the current attack). Washington’s efforts to militarize Africa and turn its armies into proxy mercenaries in putting down anti-imperial revolts and regimes were accelerated after 9/11. The Bush Administration announced in 2002 that Africa was a “strategic priority in fighting terrorism”.[4] Henceforth, US imperial strategists, with the backing of liberal and neoconservative congress people, moved to centralize and coordinate a military policy on a continent wide basis forming the African Command (AFRICOM). The latter organizes African armies, euphemistically called “co-operative partnerships,” to conduct neo-colonial wars based on bilateral agreements (Uganda, Burundi, etc.) as well as ‘multi-lateral’ links with the Organization of African Unity.[5]

AFRICOM despite its assigned role as a vehicle for spreading imperial influence, has been more successful in destroying countries rather than in gaining resources and power bases. The war against Somalia, displacing and killing millions and costing hundreds of millions of dollars, enters its twentieth year, with no victory in sight. Apart from the longest standing US neo-colony, Liberia,there is no country willing to allow AFRICOM to set up headquarters. Most significantly AFRICOM was unprepared for the overthrow of key client regimes in Tunisia and Egypt – important “partners” in patrolling the North African Mediterranean, the Arabian coast and the Red Sea. Despite Libya’s collaboration with AFRICOM, especially in “anti-terrorist” intelligence operations,

Washington mistakenly believed that an easy victory by its “rebel” clients might lead to a more docile regime, offering more in the way of a military base, headquarters and a cheap source of oil. Today the US depends as much on African petroleum as its suppliers in the Middle East. The continent-wide presence of AFRICOM has been matched by its incapacity to convert “partnerships” into effective proxy conquerors. The attempt to foster “civil-military” programs has failed to secure any popular base for corrupt collaborator regimes, valued for their willingness to provide imperial cannon fodder.

The continuing North African uprising, overthrew the public face of the imperial backed dictatorships. As the popular Arab revolt spreads to the Gulf and deepens its demandsto include socio-economic as well as political demands the Empire struck back. AFRICOM backed the assault on Libya, the crackdown on the prodemocracy movement by the ruling military junta in Egypt and looks to its autocratic “partners” in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula to drown the civil society movements in a blood bath.

The growing militarization of US Imperial policy in North Africa and the Gulf is leading to a historic confrontation between the Arab democratic revolution and the imperial backed satraps; between Libyans fighting for their independence and the Euro-American navel and air forces ravaging the country on behalf of their inept local clients.

Notes

1 Lauren Ploch, Africa Command: US strategic Interests and the Role of the Military in Africa (Congreessional Research Service <CRS> Nov. 16, 2010.

2 Richard Grimmett, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad 1798-2009 (CRS 2010).

3 Edward Herman “Gilbert Achar’s Defense of Humanitarian Intervention” (ZNET April 8, 2011)

4 The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States (September 2002).

5 Lauren Ploch, opcit esp pp19-25.

Felipe Calderón’s Drug War Has Become Hot Market for U.S. Arms Trade

The dollar value of U.S. private-sector weapons shipments to Mexico in fiscal year 2009 exceeded the value of private arms shipments to two other major conflict regions elsewhere in the world, Iraq and Afghanistan, and even outpaced the value of arms shipped to one of the United States’ staunchest allies, Israel.

U.S. private-sector suppliers shipped a total of $177 million worth of defense articles — which includes items like military aircraft, firearms and explosives — to Mexico in fiscal 2009, which ended Sept. 30 of that year.

By comparison, over the same period, private arms companies in the U.S. shipped $40 million worth of weapons to Afghanistan; $126 million to Iraq; and $131 million to Israel.

In fact, Colombia, the source of most of the world’s cocaine and a major battlefront in the so-called war on drugs, received only $30 million in private-sector arms shipments from the U.S. in fiscal 2009.

The onslaught of weapons that hit Mexico in fiscal 2009 via these legal commercial exports is multiplied even further by the thousands of additional illegal weapons that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) allegedly allowed to cross the border into Mexico, unchecked, as part of what appears to be a seriously flawed operation known as Fast and Furious — which was launched in October 2009.

This double whammy of deadly firepower pouring into Mexico through these U.S.-sanctioned programs also coincides with a major spike in Mexico’s murder rate over the same period.

The revelation of Mexico’s emergence as a leading market for the private-sector arms trade in fiscal 2009 surfaced after an examination of the most recently available figures for the State Department program that oversees foreign arms sales by U.S. companies.

Under that program, the U.S. State Department requires private companies in the United States to obtain an export license in order to sell defense hardware or services to foreign purchasers — which include both government units and private buyers in other countries. These arms deals are known as Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). Each year, the State Department issues a report tallying the volume and dollar amount of DCS items approved for export and shipped — with the most recent report covering fiscal 2009.

Narco News reported in March 2009 that the deadliest of the weapons now in the hands of criminal groups in Mexico, particularly along the U.S. border, by any reasonable standard of an analysis of the facts, appear to be getting into that nation through perfectly legal private-sector arms exports authorized under programs such as DCS.

Between 2005 and 2009, nearly $60 billion worth of U.S. defense articles were exported globally by U.S. private companies via the DCS program, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

In addition to the $177 million in defense hardware shipped by private U.S. companies to Mexico in fiscal 2009, some $204 million in arms were shipped to Mexico in fiscal year 2008, according to DCS data compiled by the State Department. Now, war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan dwarfed Mexico in terms of DCS arms shipments in fiscal 2008, with a total of $3.8 billion collectively, but in terms of actual DCS arms shipments in fiscal 2009, according to the State Department data, Mexico beat out both of them — as private-sector arms shipments to Iraq and Afghanistan fell off sharply.

At the same time that hundreds of millions of dollars in legal arms shipments were crossing the border into Mexico though the DCS program, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or the ATF, allegedly was allowing thousands of illegally purchased firearms to be smuggled into Mexico by warring narco-trafficking organizations.

As part of its Fast and Furious operation, launched in October 2009, some 2,000 or more firearms illegally purchased in the U.S. were allegedly allowed to “walk” (or be smuggled under ATF’s watch) across the border in a supposed effort by the federal law enforcement agency to target the kingpins behind Mexico’s gun-running enterprises, ATF whistleblowers contend.

This flood of weapons, including high-powered assault rifles and even military-grade munitions, coursing into Mexico in fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2009 via the DCS program and ATF’s Fast and Furious seems to have been, in part, the catalyst for a huge spike in narco-related bloodshed in the country.

According to a report issued in February of this year by the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, narco-trafficking-related homicides in Mexico jumped from 2,826 in 2007 to 6,837 in 2008, and spiked again in 2009, hitting a record 9,614. In 2010, the homicide mark shot up to 15,273.

Those three years (2008-2010) account for the bulk of the nearly 40,000 drug-war murders since President Felipe Calderon of Mexico declared his war on the “cartels” in late 2006 and subsequently inserted the Mexican military into that battle.

WikiLeaks cables

It is clear that most of the guns allowed to cross the border under ATF’s Fast and Furious operation went directly into the hands of criminals, given those guns were purchased as part of criminal conspiracies being tracked by ATF.

However, even though serious narco-corruption exists within law enforcement and the military in Mexico (the very parties who are the end-users of legally imported weapons), the path that DCS arms shipment diversions follow to the criminal world remains illusive.

The whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks, though, recently released a State Department cable, drafted in November 2009, that sheds some light on how these diversions seem to be carried out. But first, it’s important to understand the path of DCS weapons shipped to Mexico.

Jason Greer, public affairs officer for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the Department of State, told Narco News previously that “all firearms licenses approved by [the State Department] for commercial resale in Mexico are exported to the Ministry of Defense (MOD), Mexico.”

Greer added:

The MOD is the import authority for firearms and is also responsible for licensing of Mexican firearms dealers. Upon receipt of the firearms, the MOD transfers the firearms to the end-user authorized on the [State Department-issued] export license.

The Mexican Ministry of Defense, of course, oversees the Mexican military. In fact, a reading of Mexico’s firearms law reveals that the Defense Ministry has a monopoly on approving and overseeing all licenses, sales, transport and storage of arms and munitions in Mexico, whether for private-sector players or other government units — including municipal, state and federal law enforcement units.

So, if you are a smart narco-trafficker, and they are smart, it might pay to spread some money and influence around Mexico’s Ministry of Defense, or to have your people inside the organizations that are the ultimate recipients of the weapons (such as Mexico’s local, state and federal security forces) to assure the necessary diversion of firearms to your cause.

And it is that latter scenario that the State Department cable released by WikiLeaks earlier this month reveals is likely the scenario in play. Essentially, the cable establishes state-level government employees, such as the police — many of whom are on the payrolls of narco-trafficking organizations — as the weak link in the DCS chain.

Following are the key passages from the cable, drafted on Nov. 30, 2009, which reveals that the ultimate destination of an assault weapon found at a crime scene — one  of a batch of more than 1,000 rifles shipped via the DCS program — was the “government” in the Mexican state of Michoacan.

Blue lantern coordinators [who are charged monitoring DCS weapons shipments] requested that Poloff [political officers] investigate the circumstances surrounding the recovery of an U.S. licensed AR-15 rifle from a Mexican crime scene and substantiate the chain of custody from the supplier to the end user. The investigative branch of the Mexican Attorney General (PGR CENAPI) used E-trace to determine that the last legal point of sale was [U.S.-based gun manufacturer] Bushmaster International, LLC. Realizing that the recovered weapon was part of a USG [U.S. government] licensed [DCS] sale, Bushmaster notified the State Department.

…  This investigation tracked the chain of custody for the weapon through the following entities: the U.S. supplier, the U.S. manufacture representative in Mexico, the Mexican customs-broker, the Mexican Army, and the State Government of Michoacan.

…. On the basis of this and similar cases, [emphasis added] it is not evident that government officials at the state [level in Mexico] apply strict enforcement measures to track the chain of custody of weapons once SEDENA [Mexico's Secretariat of National Defense, which oversees the Army] transfers them from its custody to the custody of state officials. Given the lack of accountability for weapons once they arrive at the state level, U.S. law enforcement agencies have fair reason to worry that a number of weapons simply “disappear.”

… Post believes both the USG and the GOM [government of Mexico] need to take a more systematic approach to tracking weapon transfers to the state level and beyond to the final end user. We support the Blue Lantern Coordinator’s proposal that his office bundle, according to region, the cases of firearms recovered from crime scenes. Mission Mexico’s ICE and ATF Attaches would then approach the Mexico Attorney General PGR’s International Relations Office with a list of the serial numbers of confiscated weapons that had been transferred to state authorities and request a fuller accounting for how these weapons ended up in the hands of criminals. …

And yet another case of DCS weapons shipments coming under the scrutiny of State Department investigators is revealed in a separate set of U.S. Embassy cables made public by WikiLeaks.

In one of those cables, released on April 4, the State Department’s Defense Trade Controls Compliance office orders a review of a shipment of rifles and ammunition “of significantly heavy caliber” that had been directed to “the presidential guard, or Estado Mayor Presidencial [emphasis added].”

The cable notes that the Estado Mayor “has never previously been party to a U.S. export license for firearms or ammunition.” 

“This check is to confirm receipt of these defense articles and verify security of the items,” the cable states.

The end result of that check is not known, because follow-up cables have not been made available, at least at this point, by WikiLeaks.

However, another State Department cable released by WikiLeaks on Feb. 21 of this year points out that “a mid-level Mexican Army major was arrested in late December 2008 for assisting drug traffickers and providing them with limited information about the activities and travel plans of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.”

That Mexican Army major, according to the State Department cable, had been “assigned to the Estado Mayor [emphasis added] … the unit responsible for protecting Mexico’s president, to secure the periphery around the president’s location”  — and the same unit that had acquired the high-powered ammunition through the DCS program.

Narco News queried officials with several think tanks in Washington, D.C., who have expertise in the arms trade or organized crime in Mexico, to get their read on DCS arms diversions in Mexico.

Andrew Selee, director of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, was asked if he believed that the diversion of licensed U.S. arms sales to criminal elements in Mexico is a major problem.

His response: “It’s an intriguing point.”

Matt Schroeder, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Arms Sales Monitoring Project, replied to the same question by saying:

I know of no specific reports of diversion of firearms and other weapons sold under a DCS license, but I also have not conducted research specifically on that topic.

When asked to comment on the evidence contained in the State Department cables released by WikiLeaks, Schroeder said the Arms Sales Monitoring Project does “not post, cite or comment on WikiLeaks cables.”

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya fue entrevistado por Xu Jingjing en el artículo de la Semana de la Vida (China) sobre AFRICOM y Libia el 1 de abril del 2011.

Hacia la conquista de África: El AFRICOM del Pentágono y la Guerra contra Libia

XU Jingjing: Según su análisis, ¿cuál es el papel de AFRICOM en la intervención militar en Libia?  ¿Cuál es su capacidad?

 Nazemroaya: En realidad, AFRICOM esta todavía muy unido y es muy dependiente de EUCOM de muchas formas. Será a través de esta intervención militar en Libia y las futuras operaciones militares que brotaran de esta guerra contra Libia que AFRICOM conseguirá asegurar aún más su independencia de EUCOM. Pero quiero ser claro: Esto no quiere decir que AFRICOM no tiene ningún papel en el norte de África, ya que tiene un papel sobre el terreno y creo que ha participado activamente en el apoyo a los combatientes que ahora se oponen al coronel Gadafi en Libia.

El papel de AFRICOM está latente o encubierto. Es EUCOM, el mando operativo militar estadounidense basado en Europa, el que  está ejecutando actualmente las operaciones contra los libios. EUCOM también se superpone con la OTAN y ambos  tienen el mismo jefe militar, que es el almirante James Stavridis.

Hace unos días, escuché a Stravridis  hablando para la Comisión de Servicios Armados del Senado de EE.UU. y dejó bien claro que la Operación Odyssey Dawn está siendo dirigida desde Europa y que los militares de EE.UU. siempre estarán en control de la campaña militar contra Libia..” También contradice al portavoz oficial de la OTAN, diciendo que había una posibilidad de que tropas de la OTAN podrían aterrizar en Libia para “operaciones de estabilización”.

Volviendo a la función de AFRICOM, dije que la función de AFRICOM está latente o encubierta. Con la evolución  de los combates en Libia, el papel de AFRICOM será más claro, más importante, y más visible.

AFRICOM ha participado en misiones de inteligencia relacionadas con Libia. Cuando el almirante Stravridis fue preguntado  por la Comisión de Servicios Armados del Senado EE.UU. sobre el papel de Al-Qaeda  en el Consejo de Transición basado en Bengasi, automáticamente respondió que el jefe del AFRICOM, el general Carter Ham, podría responder a esta pregunta.  Esto indica que en el frente de inteligencia y posiblemente el entrenamiento rebelde, AFRICOM  ha sido responsable y mucho más involucrado de lo que se sabe en suelo Libio.

XU Jingjing: AFRICOM no tiene asignado tropas y no tiene bases en la misma África. ¿Cuál es su misión principal y oposición? ¿Cómo evalúa su decisión de aumentar la influencia de EE.UU. en África?

Nazemroaya: Como mencioné anteriormente, AFRICOM está todavía atado a EUCOM. Sus capacidades, de cierta manera, son nominales. Será a través de la campaña militar contra Libia y los años de inestabilidad que perseguirán a África después de esta guerra que el AFRICOM se afianzará e independizará como un comando militar operativo.

El principal objetivo de AFRICOM es asegurar el continente africano para los EE.UU. y sus aliados. Su misión es ayudar a asegurar a establecer un nuevo orden colonial en África en el que los EE.UU. y sus aliados están trabajando. En muchos sentidos, esto es de lo que se trata  la intervención militar en Libia. La reciente Conferencia de Londres sobre Libia incluso se puede comparar con la Conferencia de Berlín de 1884. La diferencia es que en 2011  los EE.UU. está en la mesa y lo más importante, liderando a los demás participantes en la división de Libia y de África.

XU Jingjing: ¿Qué importancia tiene una estrategia Africana para los EE.UU.?¿Cómo evalúa la influencia de los EE.UU. en África ahora? ¿Cuáles son los principales obstáculos para los EE.UU. para extender su influencia?

Nazemroaya: Por supuesto que la República Popular de China y sus aliados jugar un papel fundamental en la respuesta a esta pregunta. Los EE.UU. y sus aliados no sólo están formulando  una nueva estrategia para mantener y profundizar su control sobre África, pero también están trabajando para echar a China y a sus aliados  de África. Los EE.UU. y muchos países Europeos llevan observando nerviosamente a China durante muchos años. China ha estado haciendo incursiones importantes en África y  es un rival estratégico y económico importante y un desafío a los EE.UU. y a Europa occidental en África.

También será  China y sus aliados los que crearán  uno de los obstáculos a la estrategia de EE.UU. para el control de África. Tampoco debemos olvidar a los  pueblos Africanos, ya que jugará un papel muy importante para resistir a los EE.UU. y a la UE a largo plazo.

Incluso en estos momentos hay protestas en el África subsahariana, de las que no demasiadas personas en el hemisferio norte, hablan o incluso conocen. En Senegal y en otras partes de África occidental se han producido protestas. En África Central también. Si bien las protestas en el mundo árabe son observadas e informadas intensamente, las protestas de estos pueblos son ignoradas en su mayoría.

XU Jingjing: ¿Cuáles fueron los cambios de la política de EE.UU en África en los últimos 20 años? ¿Cuáles fueron las principales motivaciones para estos cambios?

Nazemroaya: Hay muchas maneras de examinar la política exterior de EE.UU. en África en las últimas dos décadas. Podemos ver un período de intensa rivalidad con las antiguas potencias coloniales, como Francia, pero lo que creo que es importante tener en cuenta es que la política exterior de EE.UU. en África ha ido trabajando de una manera exponencial para echar a China.

Una vez más, las motivaciones para esto son el ascenso de China y su creciente influencia en África.

Uno no puede ignorar a China cuando se habla de África. Todo esto ha dado lugar a una gran cooperación entre Washington y Francia y las antiguas potencias coloniales. Ellos están trabajando juntos para asegurar el continente africano dentro de su esfera de influencia colectiva y para echar a China. De hecho  para esto es lo que se creó AFRICOM.

XU Jingjing: En uno de sus artículos, usted mencionaba los planes franceses para la formación de una Unión Mediterránea. En su análisis, ¿por qué esta Francia siempre tan activa en esta región?

Nazemroaya: París siempre ha estado activa en África, debido a su proximidad al continente y su historia colonial en África. Fueron los franceses los que controlaban el imperio colonial más grande de África. Esta es también la razón por la que Francia, con el apoyo de Bélgica y Alemania, ha sido un rival importante para los EE.UU. y Gran Bretaña en África. Esto parece haber cambiado, París y sus aliados  han armonizado sus intereses con los EE.UU. y Gran Bretaña.

Me alegro de que sacase la Unión por el Mediterráneo o la “Unión del Mediterráneo”, como fue rebautizado después como parte de un truco de relaciones públicas.

El artículo que menciona se publicó en realidad por el Times de África del Norte hace varios años, que creo que es propiedad de Libia. Cuando el periódico Times del Norte de África  publicó el artículo, le quitaron la sección donde se cita a Zbigniew Brzezinski, el asesor de seguridad nacional de la Administración Carter, acerca de los antiguos planes para formar una Unión del Mediterráneo y sobre sus objetivos.

La Unión del Mediterráneo es una entidad político, económica, y de seguridad. También se complementa en el plano militar por el Diálogo Mediterráneo de la OTAN. Los acontecimientos que condujeron a la declaración formal de la Unión por el Mediterráneo siguen los mismos patrones que se utilizaron para ampliar la Unión Europea y la OTAN en Europa del Este.

La Unión del Mediterráneo tiene la intención de afianzar el Mediterráneo y el mundo árabe en la órbita de Washington y la Unión Europea. También es una cabeza de puente en África. El proyecto contempla la integración económica, la privatización masiva, y la armonización de las políticas. Se trata de un proyecto colonial y sirve para controlar y explotar la mano de obra en el sur del Mediterráneo para la Unión Europea. En el futuro, esto puede ser usado para alterar el mercado de trabajo en Asia y otras regiones. Además, es a través de la Unión Mediterránea que las leyes de inmigración y de refugiados que se utiliza para gestionar la afluencia de personas del norte de África fueron creadas. La UE esperaba estos eventos y sus miembros especifican claramente esto cuando hicieron estas leyes.

XU Jingjing: ¿Cuál es su análisis de las acciones de EE.UU. y la alianza en los primeros diez días de la guerra en Libia?

Nazemroaya: Las acciones en los primeros diez días de la guerra no fueron concebidas para proteger a los civiles. Las operaciones militares han sido de naturaleza ofensiva y un medio para debilitar a Libia como un estado independiente. He mencionado antes que escuché el testimonio del Almirante Stavridis al Comité de Servicios Armados de EE.UU. en Washington y me gustaría hacer referencia a él de nuevo. En la vista, tanto el almirante Stavridis, y el senador McCain, sin quererlo,  afirmaron que las sanciones y zonas de no vuelo, no logran nada.Esto es muy interesante. Si estas acciones no logran nada, entonces ¿por qué los EE.UU. presionan para que sean impuestas a los libios? La respuesta es que la operación no es de carácter humanitario, es un acto de agresión con la intención de abrir la puerta en Libia y en África para un nuevo proyecto colonial.

Texto original en inglés : Towards the Conquest of Africa: The Pentagon’s AFRICOM and the War against Libya

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya se especializa en el Oriente Medio y Asia Central. Es un investigador asociado en el Centro de Investigación sobre Globalización.

Traducido por Felix Nieto.


VIDEO: Retweeting Democracy: The Role of Social Media

April 15th, 2011 by Global Research

Killing the Unborn … With Radiation

April 15th, 2011 by Washington's Blog

Preface: I am not against all nuclear power, solely the unsafe type we have today.

The harmful affect of radiation on fetuses has been known for decades.

As nuclear expert Robert Alvarez – a senior U.S. Department of Energy official during the Clinton administration – and journalists Harvey Wasserman and Norman Solomon wrote in 1982 in a book called Killing Our Own:

In recent years controversy has arisen over the particular vulnerability of infants in utero and small children to the ill-effects of radiation. Exposure of the fetus to radiation during all stages of pregnancy increases the chances of developing leukemia and childhood cancers. Because their cells are dividing so rapidly, and because there are relatively so few of them involved in the vital functions of the body in the early stages, embryos are most vulnerable to radiation in the first trimester–particularly in the first two weeks after conception. This period carries the highest risk of radiation-induced abortion and adverse changes in organ development. During this stage of development the tiny fetus can be fifteen times more sensitive to radiation-induced cancer than in its last trimester of development, and up to a thousand or more times more sensitive than an adult. In general it is believed that fetuses in the very early stages of development are most vulnerable to penetrating radiation such as X rays and gamma rays.

In all stages, they are vulnerable to emitting isotopes ingested by the mother. For example, if a pregnant mother inhales or ingests radioiodine, it can be carried through the placenta to the fetus, where it can lodge in the fetal thyroid and where its gamma and beta emissions can cause serious damage to the developing organ. Once the fetal thyroid is damaged, changes in the hormonal balance of the body may result in serious–possibly fatal–consequences for the development of the child through pregnancy, early childhood, and beyond. Such effects include underweight and premature birth, poorly developed lungs causing an inability to breathe upon delivery, mental retardation, and general ill-health.

Other emitters can lodge in other fetal organs. For example, yttrium-90, a decay product of strontium 90, can gravitate toward the pituitary gland. Overall, fetal irradiation during the second and third trimester has been linked to microcephaly (small head size), stunted growth and mental retardation, central nervous system defects, and behavioral changes. Exposure of the fetus to radiation during all stages of pregnancy increases the chances of developing leukemia and childhood cancers.

Young children also undergo more rapid cell division than adults, as do children in puberty. This rapid growth makes them very susceptible to radiation damage. Also at high risk are the elderly and chronically ill. These groups have weakened immune systems because of less active red bone marrow. Healthy immune systems can often isolate and remove damaged cells before malignancies develop. Older people generally have less vigorous immune systems; they have also generally experienced more radiation from both natural and human-made sources than young people, and thus may be more susceptible to additional exposure.

Women are also considered to be twice as sensitive to radiation as men because of their predominance in contracting breast and thyroid cancers.[However, radiation safety standards are set based on the assumption that everyone exposed is a healthy man in his 20s.]

Cancers shown to be initiated by radiation include leukemia, and cancers of the pancreas, lung, large intestine, thyroid, liver, and breast. Life-shortening anemia and other blood abnormalities, benign tumors, cataracts, and lowered fertility are other random effects attributed to radiation exposure.

I noted in 2009:

An entire field of science called “epigenetics”, which studies changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence.

Epigeneticists say that genetic changes can be caused by interaction with the environment may last for multiple generations.

Brian Moench, MD, noted last month:

Administration spokespeople continuously claim “no threat” from the radiation reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle “Don’t worry, be happy” in unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second opinion.

That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away isn’t as comforting as it seems…. Every day, the jet stream carries pollution from Asian smoke stacks and dust from the Gobi Desert to our West Coast, contributing 10 to 60 percent of the total pollution breathed by Californians, depending on the time of year. Mercury is probably the second most toxic substance known after plutonium. Half the mercury in the atmosphere over the entire US originates in China. It, too, is 5,000 miles away. A week after a nuclear weapons test in China, iodine 131 could be detected in the thyroid glands of deer in Colorado, although it could not be detected in the air or in nearby vegetation.

The idea that a threshold exists or there is a safe level of radiation for human exposure began unraveling in the 1950s when research showed one pelvic x-ray in a pregnant woman could double the rate of childhood leukemia in an exposed baby. Furthermore, the risk was ten times higher if it occurred in the first three months of pregnancy than near the end. This became the stepping-stone to the understanding that the timing of exposure was even more critical than the dose. The earlier in embryonic development it occurred, the greater the risk.

A new medical concept has emerged, increasingly supported by the latest research, called “fetal origins of disease,” that centers on the evidence that a multitude of chronic diseases, including cancer, often have their origins in the first few weeks after conception by environmental insults disturbing normal embryonic development. It is now established medical advice that pregnant women should avoid any exposure to x-rays, medicines or chemicals when not absolutely necessary, no matter how small the dose, especially in the first three months.

“Epigenetics” is a term integral to fetal origins of disease, referring to chemical attachments to genes that turn them on or off inappropriately and have impacts functionally similar to broken genetic bonds. Epigenetic changes can be caused by unimaginably small doses – parts per trillion – be it chemicals, air pollution, cigarette smoke or radiation. Furthermore, these epigenetic changes can occur within minutes after exposure and may be passed on to subsequent generations.

The Endocrine Society, 14,000 researchers and medical specialists in more than 100 countries, warned that “even infinitesimally low levels of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, indeed, any level of exposure at all, may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities, particularly if exposure occurs during a critical developmental window. Surprisingly, low doses may even exert more potent effects than higher doses.” If hormone-mimicking chemicals at any level are not safe for a fetus, then the concept is likely to be equally true of the even more intensely toxic radioactive elements drifting over from Japan, some of which may also act as endocrine disruptors.

Many epidemiologic studies show that extremely low doses of radiation increase the incidence of childhood cancers, low birth-weight babies, premature births, infant mortality, birth defects and even diminished intelligence. Just two abdominal x-rays delivered to a male can slightly increase the chance of his future children developing leukemia. By damaging proteins anywhere in a living cell, radiation can accelerate the aging process and diminish the function of any organ. Cells can repair themselves, but the rapidly growing cells in a fetus may divide before repair can occur, negating the body’s defense mechanism and replicating the damage.

Comforting statements about the safety of low radiation are not even accurate for adults. Small increases in risk per individual have immense consequences in the aggregate. When low risk is accepted for billions of people, there will still be millions of victims. New research on risks of x-rays illustrate the point.

Radiation from CT coronary scans is considered low, but, statistically, it causes cancer in one of every 270 40-year-old women who receive the scan. Twenty year olds will have double that rate. Annually, 29,000 cancers are caused by the 70 million CT scans done in the US. Common, low-dose dental x-rays more than double the rate of thyroid cancer. Those exposed to repeated dental x-rays have an even higher risk of thyroid cancer.

***

Beginning with Madam Curie, the story of nuclear power is one where key players have consistently miscalculated or misrepresented the risks of radiation. The victims include many of those who worked on the original Manhattan Project, the 200,000 soldiers who were assigned to eye witness our nuclear tests, the residents of the Western US who absorbed the lion’s share of fallout from our nuclear testing in Nevada, the thousands of forgotten victims of Three Mile Island or the likely hundreds of thousands of casualties of Chernobyl. This could be the latest chapter in that long and tragic story when, once again, we were told not to worry.

And Dr. Moench writes today:

The official refrain, boldly repeated, is, “Not to worry, perfectly harmless, no health threat,” even though the six Fukushima reactors contain thousands of times more radioactivity than the bomb dropped over Hiroshima. Some of our best scientists of the previous century would be rolling over in their graves.

In the 1940s, many of the world’s premier nuclear scientists saw mounting evidence that there was no safe level of exposure to nuclear radiation. This led Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atom bomb, to oppose development of the hydrogen bomb.[1] In the 1950s, Linus Pauling, the only two-time winner of the Nobel Prize, began warning the public about exposure to all radiation. His opinion, ultimately shared by thousands of scientists worldwide, led President Kennedy to sign the nuclear test-ban treaty.

In the 1960s, Drs. John Gofman, Arthur Tamplin, Alice Stewart, Thomas Mancuso and Karl Morgan, all researchers for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) or the Department of Energy (DOE), independently came to the conclusion that exposure to nuclear radiation was not safe at any level. The government terminated their services for coming up with what Gofman has called the “wrong answer” – that is, the opposite of what the AEC wanted to hear.[2] The top Russian nuclear physicist in the 1960s, Andrei Sakharov, also a Nobel Prize winner, and Vladimir Chernousenko, whom the Soviet Union placed in charge of the Chernobyl cleanup, are among other international experts who drew similar conclusions.

To put lipstick on the pig of radioactive fallout, we hear from nuclear cheerleaders that common activities like watching TV and airline travel also expose us to radiation. True enough, although they never mention that airline pilots and flight attendants do have higher rates of breast and skin cancer.[3] But equating those very different types of radiation is like equating the damage of being hit with ping pong balls (photons) with being hit by bullets (beta particles). Your TV doesn’t shoot bullets at you. Even if your TV was only shooting a few bullets per show, you probably wouldn’t watch much TV. Furthermore, the damage done by these radioactive “bullets” can vary tremendously depending on which organs are hit. To carry the analogy one step further: spraying a few bullets into a large crowd can hardly be considered safe for everyone in the crowd, even if the ratio of bullets per person is very low.

Bioaccumulation causes an increasing concentration of many contaminates as one moves up the food chain. That’s why beef is much higher in dioxins than cattle feed, tuna fish have much higher mercury than the water they swim in and fetal blood has higher mercury levels than maternal blood.[4] Radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium, all beta emitters, become concentrated in the food chain because of bioaccumulation. At the top of the food chain, of course, are humans, including fetuses and human breastmilk.

In 1963, one week after an atmospheric nuclear bomb test in Russia, our scientists demonstrated the power of bioaccumulation when they detected radioactive iodine in the thyroids of mammals in North America, even though, with 1963 methods, they could not detect smaller amounts in the air or on vegetation.[5]

Bioaccumulation is one reason why it is dishonest to equate the danger to humans living 5,000 miles away from Japan with the minute concentrations measured in our air. If we tried, we would now likely be able to measure radioactive iodine, cesium, and strontium bioaccumulating in human embryos in this country. Pregnant mothers, are you okay with that?

Hermann Muller, another Nobel Prize winner, is one of many scientists who would not have been okay with that. In a 1964 study, “Radiation and Heredity” [6], Mueller clearly spelled out the genetic damage of ionizing radiation on humans. He predicted the gradual reduction of the survival of the human species as exposure to ionizing radiation steadily increased. Indeed, sperm counts, sperm viability and fertility rates worldwide have been dropping for decades.

These scientists and their warnings have never been refuted, but they are still widely ignored.

Moreover, radiation standards are up to a 1,000 times higher than is safe for human health. And Forbes’ blogger Jeff McMahon and Truthout writer Mike Ludwig both note that FDA radiation standards for milk and other foods are 200 times higher than EPA standards for drinking water, and are based more on commercial than safety concerns.

And even with unreasonably lax standards, radiation exceeding government safety levels has been found in drinking water and milk throughout the United States. See this and this.

Shocking is not a sufficient term to describe Justice Richard Goldstone’s decision to recant parts of the 2009 report on alleged war crimes in Gaza.

The document, known as the Goldstone Report, was compiled after a thorough investigation led by the South African judge and three other well-regarded investigators. They documented 36 incidents that occurred during the Israeli Operation Cast Lead, an unprecedentedly violent attack against small, impoverished and besieged Gaza. It resulted in the death of over 1,400 Palestinians, and the wounding of over 5,500.

Goldstone is both Jewish and Zionist. His love for Israel has been widely and affectionately conveyed. In this particular case, he seemed completely torn between his ideological and tribal position and his commitment to justice and truth, as enshrined in the mandate of the UN Human Rights Council.

After 18 months of what seemed a wholly personal introspection, accompanied by an endless campaign of pressure and intimidation by Zionist and pro-Israel Jewish groups from all over the world, the man finally surrendered.

 “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” he wrote in the Washington Post on April 1. But what did Goldstone learn anew since he issued his 575-page report in September 2009?

The supposed basis of Goldstone’s rethink is a follow-up report issued by a UN committee chaired by retired New York Judge Mary McGowan Davis. Her report was not a reinvestigation of Israel’s —  and Hamas’ — alleged war crimes in Gaza, but a follow up on the Goldstone Commission’s findings, which urged the referral of the matter to the International Criminal Court. McGowan Davis made this distinction clear in a recent interview with the Israeli Jerusalem Post. According to the post, she said, “Our work was completely separate from (Goldstone’s) work.” She further stated, “Our mandate was to take his report as given and start from there.”

So how did a probe that used Goldstone’s findings as a starting point go on to inspire such a major refutation from one of the authors of the original report?

McGowan Davis’ report merely acknowledged that Israel has carried out an investigation into a possible “operational misconduct” in what is largely known outside Israel as the Gaza massacre. The UN follow-up report recognized the alleged 400 investigations, but didn’t bear out their validity. These secret inquiries actually led to little in terms of disciplinary action.

More, the UN team of experts claimed there was “no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.”

In fact, Israel is known for investigating itself, and also for almost always finding everyone but its own leadership at fault. Israeli investigations are an obvious mockery of justice. Most of their findings, like those that followed another investigation of the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006, merely chastised the failure to win the war and to explain Israeli action to the world. They said little about looking into the death and wounding of innocent civilians. Is this what Goldstone meant when he used the words, “if I had known then what I know now”? And could this added knowledge about Israel’s secret —  and largely farcical — investigations be enough to draw such extreme conclusions such as “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy”?

This was the trust of the Israeli argument, which attempted to reduce a persistent policy predicated on collective punishment —  one that used controversial and outright illegal weapons against civilians —  to the injudiciousness of individual soldiers. Goldstone’s calculated retraction is an adoption of “the Israeli position that any misdeeds during the Gaza assault were caused by individual deviants, not by policies or rules of engagement ordered by military leaders,” according to George Bisharat, professor at the Hastings College of the Law (as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, April 7). Bisharat added, “Yet the original report never accused Israel of widespread deliberate attacks on civilians, and thus Goldstone retracted a claim that had never been made. Most of its essential findings remain unchallenged.”

John Dugard, professor of law at the University of Pretoria and former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory agrees. “Richard Goldstone is a former judge and he knows full well that a fact-finding report by four persons, of whom he was only one, like the judgment of a court of law, cannot be changed by the subsequent reflections of a single member of the committee.”

Dugard, well known for his principled stances in the past, is also known for his moral consistency. “It is sad that this champion of accountability and international criminal justice should abandon the cause in such an ill-considered but nevertheless extremely harmful op-ed,” he wrote in the New Statesman on April 6.

Unsurprisingly, Israeli leaders are gloating. “Everything we said was proved true,” declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Goldstone’s moral collapse. The New York Times reported on April 5 that Goldstone agreed to visit Israel in July during a telephone call with Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai. “I will be happy to come,” Yishai quoted Goldstone as saying. “I always have love for the State of Israel.”

The fact is, Goldstone’s repudiations of some of his commission’s findings clearly have no legal validity. They are personally, and in fact selfishly motivated, and they prove that political and ideological affiliations are of greater weight for Goldstone than human suffering and international law and justice. There is no doubt, however, that Goldstone’s rethink will represent the backbone of Israel’s rationale in its future attacks on Gaza. Goldstone, once regarded as an “evil, evil man” by a prominent Israel apologist in the US, will become the selling point of Israel’s future war crimes.

If the killing of over 1,400 Palestinians is not a “matter of policy”, and Hamas’ killing of four Israelis is “intentional” —  as claimed by Goldstone —  then the sky is the limit for Israel’s war machine.

Indeed, “shocking” is not the right term. “Disgraceful” may be more fitting.

 

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.

The West Versus China: A New Cold War Begins on Libyan Soil

April 15th, 2011 by Patrick Henningsen

The question as to why US-led NATO forces are determined to engineer a regime change in Libya is now becoming clear. While media pundits and political experts still argue over whether the Libyan rebel gangs are actually being backed and directed by US, UK and Israel intelligence agencies, broader long-range Western policy objectives for Libya are being completely ignored.

One only has to read the strategic briefings in U.S. AFRICOM documents to realise the true endgame in Libya: the control of valuable resources and the eviction of China from North Africa.

When the US formed AFRICOM in 2007, some 49 countries signed on to the US military charter for Africa but one country refused: Libya. Such a treacherous act by Libya’s leader Moummar Qaddafi would only sow the seeds for a future conflict down the road in 2011.

NATO: Reduced to a mere private security force for western corporate interests.

According to former Reagan cabinet official Dr Paul Craig Roberts, the situation with Qaddafi is much different than the other recent protests in the Arab world. “Why is NATO there?” has become to real question, says Roberts, who fears that risky involvement stemming from American influence could lead to catastrophic breaking point in Libya.

CHINESE INTERESTS IN LIBYA

According to Bejing’s Ministry of Commerce, China’s current contracts in Libya number no less than 50 large projects involving contracts in excess of 18 billion USD. What is even more revealing here is that due to the recent instability in the North African region, China’s investments have taken a serious hit. The recent political turmoil in the region has caused China’s foreign contracted projects  to drop with new contracts amounting to $ 3,470,000,000, down 53.2%. Among them, the amount of new contracts in Libya, down by 45.3%, 13.9% less turnover; to Algeria, the amount of the contract fell 97.1%, turnover decreased by 10.7% – all within the first 2 months of this year.


 WHY WE ARE IN LIBYA: a revealing interview with Dr Paul Craig Roberts.

In addition to the numerous Chinese investments in Libya, the North African nation has also recently completed one of the most expensive and advance water works projects in world history- Libya’s Great Man Made River.  This 30 year venture finished only last year, gives Libya the potential for an agricultural and economic boom that would certainly mean trouble for competing agri-markets in neighbouring Israel and Egypt. It could also transform Libya into the emerging “bread basket” of Africa.

With global food prices on the rise, and Libya possessing a stable currency and cheap domestic energy supply, it doesn’t take an economic genius to see what role Libya could play in the global market place.

                 
VALUABLE ASSET: Libya’s Great Man Made River.

AFRICOM: CHILD OF PNAC

Founded under US President George Bush Jr, AFRICOM is a subset of the larger neo-conservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Central to AFRICOM’s strategic goals is to confront the increasing Chinese influence on the continent. One AFRICOM study suggests that China will eventually dispatch troops to Africa to defend its interests there:

“Now China has achieved a stage of economic development which requires endless supplies of African raw materials and has started to develop the capacity to exercise influence in most corners of the globe. The extrapolation of history predicts that distrust and uncertainty will inevitably lead the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to Africa in staggering numbers…”

So we have a vocalised fear on the part of US military planners, of a military confrontation with China… in Africa. Today it’s Libya, but tomorrow, it will be in Sudan. Does this sound a little familiar?  Well, it should…

THE NEW COLD WAR WITH CHINA

What the Chinese economic data (above) does show clearly is that the strategic policy objectives outlined in Washington’s AFRICOM documents, particularly those ones designed to confront and minimise China’s economic interest in Africa- are working very well as a result of instability in the region.  ’Destabilisation’ as a tool of control has always worked for colonial powers. Engineered chaos can then be managed by a strong military presence in the region.

In effect, what we are witnessing here is the dawn of a New Cold War between the US-EURO powers and China. This new cold war will feature many of the same elements of the long and protracted US-USSR face-off we saw in the second half of the 20th century. It will take place off shore, in places like Africa, South America, Central Asia and through old flashpoints like Korea and the Middle East.

AFRICOM: Outlining America’s new military playground.

What makes this new cold war much deeper and more subtle than the previous one, is that it will not be cloaked in a popular ideology like ‘Capitalism vs Communism’.

This new war centres around one single issue- natural resources. The capture and control of the world’s remaining resources and energy supplies will be the theme which will govern- and literally fuel, all major conflicts in the 21st century. It will be fought through numerous proxies, and on far-flung pitches across the globe but it will never be spoken of by the White House Press Secretary or the Foreign Office in Downing Street.

   Early reports out of Libya confirm that “Rebels” are being backed and directed by Western intelligence agencies.

INSURGENTS NOT PROTESTORS

The great PR spin trick in the run-up to NATO’s carpet bombing run in Libya was the West’s ability to characterise Libya’s violent armed gangs as mere protestors. The average American, British or French media consumer equated the Libyan uprising with those previously in Tunisia and Egypt. The reality of course was that they were anything but.

However, the bells of freedom and democracy had indeed rung, so all that was really needed at that point was a clever WMD-like diplomatic trick to dazzle the rows of intellectually challenged diplomats at the UN in New York City. The ‘No Fly Zone’ was repackaged and worked well enough for politicians to get their foot in the door to their respective War Rooms.

It seems to have worked so far but with NATO civilian body bags already beginning to pile up, the next phase- ground troops and a NATO military occupation of Libya, will be somewhat more complicated to execute without sustaining heavy political fallout. All of these complexed efforts are used to shroud western corporate and military long-term agendas in the region, all part and parcel of these new Resource Wars with China.

HISTORICAL AMNESIA 

Few will argue that the average western observer and mainstream media consumer suffers from chronic historical amnesia. For Americans in particular, relevant history only extends as far back as the previous season of Dancing With the Stars, or American Idol.  Some might argue that this is by design, that on whole the masses have been conditioned to be passive actors in the new media-rich modern democracy because it makes managing the herds much easier.

The lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq have yet to return home for the US and Great Britain- both projects are still going concerns for the massive cartel of western corporations. This has allowed ambitious bureaucrats in Washington, London and Paris to try their hand again in Libya. In time however, Americans and Europeans will come to learn what every citizen and subject already learned many times over throughout world history. In theory it may work, but in practice, “Occupation” is a paradox. The US-UK may draw plans in private to occupy an Iraq or a Libya indefinitely but history doesn’t jibe with these imperial ambitions.

It will end one day, and end badly because the Neo-Roman Anglo-American Empire with all its legions abroad, cannot manage its fragile domestic affairs back at home. First comes the fall of the Senate, then the rise of the Caesar, and finally the collapse of the Denarius($) at home. The once great empire goes out with a whimper- too fat and too bankrupt to carry on.

Back in the day, the citizens of Rome cared little about the details of military largess and conquest abroad. There only interest was that the glory of Rome was upheld and for bread and circuses at home. As the Great Resource Wars of the 21st century continue to rage on unabated, one question comes to mind: what will mindful citizens in the aggressor countries do to change this present course of history?

Judging by the ease at which the West managed to pull of their latest heist in Libya, I would say… very little right now.

Author Patrick Henningsen is a writer and communications consultant and currently the Managing Editor of 21st Century Wire.

On November 2, 2010 France and Great Britain signed a mutual defence treaty, which included joint participation in “Southern Mistral” (www.southern-mistral.cdaoa.fr), a series of war games outlined in the bilateral agreement. Southern Mistral involved a long-range conventional air attack, called Southern Storm, against a dictatorship in a fictitious southern country called Southland. The joint military air strike was authorised by a pretend United Nations Security Council Resolution. The “Composite Air Operations” were planned for the period of 21-25 March, 2011. On 20 March, 2011, the United States joined France and Great Britain in an air attack against Gaddafi’s Libya, pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1973.

Have the scheduled war games simply been postponed, or are they actually under way after months of planning, under the name of Operation Odyssey Dawn? Were opposition forces in Libya informed by the US, the UK or France about the existence of Southern Mistral/Southern Storm, which may have encouraged them to violence leading to greater repression and a humanitarian crisis? In short was this war against Gaddafi’s Libya planned or a spontaneous response to the great suffering which Gaddafi was visiting upon his opposition?

Members of the United States Congress are wondering how much planning time it took for our own government, in concert with the UK and France, to line up 10 votes in the Security Council and gain the support of the Arab League and Nato, and then launch an attack on Libya without observing the constitutional requirement of congressional authorisation.

Libya was attacked, we have been told, because Gaddafi allegedly had killed 6,000 of his own people. But is this true? It should be remembered that in 2006, a full 18 years after the Lockerbie bombing, the US lifted sanctions against Libya, which was welcomed back into the international fold.

Now, as Gaddafi faces armed internal opposition backed by a UN Security Council resolution and faces powerful external opposition backed by the military of the US, the UK and France, he is told he must give up power. But to whom? What is the end game?

The US has been dancing around the regime change issue, (since that is not sanctioned by the UNSC Resolution) but as in most cases one has to watch where the bombs are falling to determine whether or not regime change is the policy.

The newest argument for regime change is that if he is not ousted Gaddafi can be expected to attempt Lockerbie-type retaliation against the west in response to the attacks seeking to oust him.

This bloody enterprise is beginning to sound a lot like Iraq: “Saddam was killing his own people, will kill his people, or will kill us if we don”t get him first.”

So did the Bush Administration pump up the fears of the American people that we were next, that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and had the intention and capability of attacking the United States.

The Iraq war begins its ninth year at a long term cost to US taxpayers of in excess of $3 trillion.The intelligence making the case for the war was “sexed up”. President Bush and Vice President Cheney made a false case for war. An expensive lie. In the name of saving the people of Iraq, we bombed the country, invaded, changed the regime and it is still a carnival of death. In the end it was China, not involved in the war, which received a multi-billion oil deal.

The war in Afghanistan, with no end in sight, has already run a decade and will inevitably cost trillions.

The war against Libya will cost the US $1 billion for the first week.

But we in America are being assured that since Nato is taking over, our role will change. In addition to funding the Libyan war from our own Pentagon resources, the US provides 25% of the funding of Nato, the UK 9.1%, France 8.72%. For all intents and purposes the coalition is handing control of the war over – to itself.

As the funding switches to Nato, we in the US will get the Libyan war at a 75% discount, and our allies in the UK and France will have to pay considerable sums from their own treasuries for a war which is sure to cost billions. Of the 28 members of Nato, I think of Iceland which provides 0.0450 of Nato’s military budget. If member nations are assessed accordingly, poor Iceland, whose economy has imploded, will pay $45m for each billion spent on the war in Libya.

Expensive membership dues.

This sleight-of-hand-over to NATO is an attempt to quell popular dissent to the war by making it appear that no one nation is taking up the burden of saving Libya. But it will beg more questions such as who or what is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and how did they work their way from the North Atlantic to the Gulf of Sidra, not to mention in Afghanistan on the Chinese border?

This war is wrong on so many fronts. The initial stated purpose, protecting Libyan civilians, will soon evaporate as it becomes clear that the war has accelerated casualties and enlarged a humanitarian crisis. Debates over the morality of intervention will give way to a desperate search for answers as to how and when do we get out, and how and why did we get in.

Dennis Kucinich is a Democrat congressman and former presidential candidate

Senate Committee Details Wall Street Criminality

April 15th, 2011 by Andre Damon

Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank AG, two of the largest investment banks in the world, profited from the sale of securities they knew to be worthless, and Goldman later “misled” congress about its activities, according to a report published Wednesday by the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

The Senate committee, headed by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, concluded that Goldman Sachs “used net short positions to benefit from the downturn in the mortgage market, and designed, marketed, and sold CDOs [mortgage-backed securities] in ways that created conflicts of interest with the firm’s clients and at times led to the bank’s profiting from the same products that caused substantial losses for its clients.”

Levin’s report goes further than the Financial Crisis Inquiry report, issued January 27, which stopped short of naming individual cases of malfeasance. The 635-page report offers specific details about offenses committed by Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Washington Mutual and Moody’s rating agency, but does not have the authority to call these actions criminal, according to Levin.

Levin’s report presents the doings of individual organizations—including credit rating agency Moody’s, subprime leader Washington Mutual, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman—as case studies, pointing to the much broader criminality throughout the whole of Wall Street.

In addition to selling worthless securities to investors, the report concluded that Goldman attempted to manipulate the mortgage-backed securities market as a whole in 2007 by artificially inflating prices in order to drive out competitors who had taken “short” positions on mortgage-backed securities.

Goldman traders were encouraged to offer prices that would “cause maximum pain” and “have people totally demoralized,” according to internal emails. In earlier testimony before Levin’s committee, Goldman traders denied that they had attempted to manipulate the market, and claimed that their emails to the contrary were exaggerations.

During the course of the housing bubble, Goldman Sachs was among the largest issuers of Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) and Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS), which were groups of bad mortgages bundled together to hide their real likelihood of default.

But in 2006, Goldman “saw evidence that the high risk mortgages underlying many … CDO securities were incurring accelerated rates of delinquency and default, Goldman quietly and abruptly reversed course.”

“Over the next two months,” the report said, Goldman “rapidly sold off or wrote down the bulk of its existing subprime RMBS and CDO inventory, and began building a short position that would allow it to profit from the decline of the mortgage market. Throughout 2007, Goldman twice built up and cashed in sizable mortgage related short positions. At its peak, Goldman’s net short position totaled $13.9 billion.”

As a result, in 2007, Goldman’s bets against mortgage-backed securities “produced record profits totaling $3.7 billion for Goldman’s Structured Products Group, which when combined with other mortgage losses, produced record net revenues of $1.2 billion for the Mortgage Department as a whole.” That year, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein received a $67.9 million bonus.

The document examines in detail the contents and sales of four Goldman Sachs mortgage-backed assets. The report notes, for example, that in the sale of one of the CDOs, “Goldman took 100 percent of the short side of the $2 billion CDO, betting against the assets referenced in the CDO, and sold the … securities to investors without disclosing its short position. When the securities lost value, Goldman made a $1.7 billion gain at the direct expense of the clients to whom it had sold the securities.”

In the case of another security, known as Timberwolf, Goldman “knowingly” sold assets “to clients at prices above its own book values and, within days or weeks of the sale, marked down the value of the sold securities, causing its clients to incur quick losses and requiring some to post higher margin or cash collateral. Timberwolf securities lost 80 percent of their value within five months of being issued and today are worthless.

The documents fully repudiate the claim made by Lloyd Blankfein under oath that “we didn’t have a massive short against the housing market, and we certainly did not bet against our clients.”

In a press conference to announce the findings, Levin said that Blankfein and Goldman “attempted to mislead the Congress and I believe they did mislead their clients in very significant ways.” He added that he would not “make the determination as to whether or not he [Blankfein] committed perjury,” but said he had turned over transcripts of Blankfein’s testimony to the justice department.

The report details, in the strongest language yet, Goldman’s use of its Abacus mortgage-backed security to defraud investors of $1 billion, which ended up in the pockets of its secret partner, billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson. “In the case of Abacus, Goldman did not take the short position, but allowed a hedge fund, Paulson & Co. Inc., that planned on shorting the CDO to play a major but hidden role in selecting its assets”, the report said. “Goldman marketed Abacus securities to its clients, knowing the CDO was designed to lose value and without disclosing the hedge fund’s asset selection role or investment objective to potential investors. Three long investors together lost about $1 billion from their Abacus investments, while the Paulson hedge fund profited by about the same amount. Today, the Abacus securities are worthless.”

The majority of the $1 billion loss was incurred by ACA Financial Guaranty Corp, a bond insurer, which made a $909 million investment in the security. In July 2010, Goldman Sachs paid the SEC $550 million in a settlement over the Abacus CDO, shielding it from further prosecution. A spokesmen for ACA said he could not comment on the report’s findings.

In another section, the report describes how Deutsche Bank, the German Investment bank, profited off of the collapse of the housing bubble, with its top CDO trader, Greg Lippmann, helping to earn $1.5 billion for the bank by short-selling mortgage-backed securities.

“At one point, Mr. Lippmann was asked to buy a specific CDO security and responded that it “rarely trades,” but he “would take it and try to dupe someone” into buying it. He also at times referred to the industry’s ongoing CDO marketing efforts as a “CDO machine” or “ponzi scheme.”

Two and a half years after the financial crisis, the banks are doing better than ever. JPMorgan Chase, the second-biggest US bank, said Wednesday that its first quarter profits set a new record. Profits at the bank hit $5.56 billion, up 68 percent from a year ago, in the bank’s second consecutive record quarter. The other banks, including Goldman Sachs, are expected to report similar figures in the coming weeks.

Marketwatch, the sister news agency of the Wall Street Journal, observed bluntly that, based on earlier experience, Levin’s report will not result in prosecutions, despite the hundreds of documents that would point to criminal wrongdoing.

The site concluded that, “Goldman and Deutsche Bank AG … are embarrassed today, but they know that the damage is mostly in the realm of public relations.”

“History,” the site added, “is on their side. On Wall Street money talks, bankers walk.”

National Security Archive files FOIA lawsuit to Force Release of “Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation” on 50th Anniversary

Washington, D.C., April 14, 2011 - Fifty years after the failed CIA-led assault on Cuba, the National Security Archive today filed a FOIA lawsuit to compel the Agency to release its “Official History of the Bay of Pigs Invasion.” The suit charges that the CIA has “wrongfully withheld” the multi-volume study, which the Archive requested under the FOIA in 2005.  As the “official history,” the court filing noted, the document “is, by definition, the most important and substantive CIA-produced study of this episode.”

The Top Secret report, researched and written by CIA historian Jack Pfeiffer, is based on dozens of interviews with key operatives and officials and a review of hundreds of CIA documents and was compiled over the course of nine years that Pfeiffer served as the CIA’s in-house historian. Pfeiffer’s internal study is divided into five volumes: I, Air Operations; II, Participation in the Conduct of Foreign Policy; III, Evolution of CIA’s Anti-Castro Policies, 1951-January 1961; IV, The Taylor Committee Report; and V, Internal Investigation Report.  (In 1998 the CIA released Vol. III under the Kennedy Assassination Records Act.)

In 1987, Pfeiffer himself filed a FOIA lawsuit seeking the release of Vol 5; the CIA successfully convinced the court that it could not be declassified.

“The CIA is holding history hostage,” according to Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project. Kornbluh called on the CIA to release the report under President Obama’s Executive Order 13526 on Classified National Security Information which states that “no information may remain classified indefinitely.” He noted that “fifty years after the invasion, it is well past time for the official history to be declassified and studied for the lessons it contains for the future of U.S.-Cuban relations.” 
 
In 1998, the Archive’s Cuba project successfully obtained the declassification of the CIA’s internal investigation into the failure of the invasion, the “Inspector General’s Survey of the Cuban Operation,” written in 1961 by the Agency’s Inspector General, Lyman Kirkpatrick. The report provided a scathing critique of the CIA misconduct and ineptitude in conducting a massive paramilitary operation that went “beyond the area of Agency responsibility as well as Agency capability.” 

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the invasion, which began with a preliminary airstrike on April 15, 1961, the Archive re-posted a collection of the major reports and documents that address the Bay of Pigs, among them the Inspector General’s report, and Vol. III of the Pfeiffer report which was originally discovered and posted by Villanova professor David Barrett in 2005.

The Archive also posted the only existing interview with the two managers of the Bay of Pigs invasion, Jacob Esterline and Col. Jack Hawkins, that Peter Kornbluh conducted in 1996. The interview was published in Kornbluh’s book, Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba.

In March of 2001, the National Security Archive organized a 40th anniversary conference in Havana, Cuba on the Bahia de Cochinos. The conference brought together retired CIA officers, Kennedy White House officials, and members of the exile brigade with Fidel Castro and his military commanders to discuss this history. Other documents and revelations generated by the conferencecan be accessed here.

Read the Documents

Lawsuit - On April 14, 2011, the National Security Archive filed a lawsuit against the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to secure the declassification of several volumes of an Official history of the Bay of Pigs Operation compiled between 1974 and 1983. Nearly a decade after the failed invasion, on August 8, 1973, CIA Director William Colby tasked the Agency’s History Staff to “develop accurate accounts of certain of CIA’s past activities in terms suitable for inclusion in Government-wide historical and declassification programs, while protecting intelligence sources and methods.” Historian Jack Pfeiffer assumed responsibility for this history, which was written over the course of 9 years and is divided into 5 volumes; it is based on dozens of interviews with key operatives and officials and hundreds of CIA documents. Volume III of the Pfeiffer report was declassified by the CIA in 1998, and the rest of the report is now the last major internal study that remains secret, fifty years after the Bay of Pigs.

Document 1 - CIA, “Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation, Volume III: Evolution of CIA’s Anti-Castro Policies, 1951- January 1961”

Jack Pfeiffer, the chief historian at the CIA, researched and wrote a comprehensive history of the Bay of Pigs operation between 1974 and 1983.  The CIA declassified only Volume III of the five-volume history in 1998, under the Kennedy Assassination Records Act. This three-hundred page report was discovered in the National Archives by Villanova professor of political science David Barrett in 2005, and first posted on his university’s website. Volume III focuses on the last two years of the Eisenhower administration and the transition to the Kennedy presidency. It is newsworthy for clarifying the role of Vice-President Richard Nixon, who, the report reveals, intervened in the planning of the invasion on behalf of a wealthy donor.
 
This volume also contains the extraordinary revelation that CIA task force in charge of the invasion did not believe it could succeed. On page 149, Pfeiffer quotes minutes of the Task Force meeting held on November 15, 1960, to prepare a briefing for the new President-elect, John F. Kennedy: “Our original concept is now seen to be unachievable in the face of the controls Castro has instituted,” the document states. “Our second concept (1,500-3000 man force to secure a beach with airstrip) is also now seen to be unachievable, except as a joint Agency/DOD action.”

This candid assessment was not shared with the President-elect then, nor later after the inauguration. As Pfeiffer points out, “what was being denied in confidence in mid-November 1960 became the fact of the Zapata Plan and the Bay of Pigs Operation in March 1961”—run only by the CIA, and with a force of 1,200 men. 

Document 2 - CIA, October 1961, “Inspector General’s Survey of the Cuban Operation and Associated Documents”

This internal analysis of the CIA’s Bay of Pigs operation, written by CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick after a six month investigation, is highly critical of the top CIA officials who conceived and ran the operation, and places blame for the embarrassing failure squarely on the CIA itself. The report cites bad planning, inadequate intelligence, poor staffing, and misleading of White House officials including the President, as key reasons for the failure of the operation.  “Plausible denial was a pathetic illusion,” the report concluded. “The Agency failed to recognize that when the project advanced beyond the stage of plausible denial it was going beyond the area of Agency responsibility as well as Agency capability.” The declassified report also contains a rebuttal to Kirkpatrick from the office of deputy director Richard Bissell, challenging those conclusions.  Volume V of the Pfeiffer report, titled “Internal Investigation Report,” which remains classified, also critiques Kirkpatrick’s conclusions.
 
Document 3 - DOD,  5/5/1961, “Record of Paramilitary Action Against the Castro Government of Cuba, 17 March 1960- May 1961”

This May 5, 1961 report was written by Colonel Jack Hawkins, the paramilitary chief of the Bay of Pigs operation. His 48-page report cites poor CIA organization, and “political considerations” imposed by the Kennedy administration, such as the decision to cancel D-day airstrikes which “doomed the operation,” as key elements of its failure. “Paramilitary operations cannot be effectively conducted on a ration-card basis,” the report concludes. “The Government and the people of the United States are not yet psychologically conditioned to participate in the cold war with resort to the harsh, rigorous, and often dangerous and painful measures which must be taken in order to win.” Hawkins also recommended that further covert operations to depose Castro, unless accompanied by a military invasion, “should not be made.” Castro, according to the report, could “not be overthrown by means short of overt application” of U.S. force.

Document 4 - CIA, 3/9/1960, “First Meeting of Branch 4 Task Force, 9 March 1960”

This is a memorandum of conversation of the first CIA Task Force meeting to plan what became the Bay of Pigs, a covert operation to recruit, train, and infiltrate paramilitary units into Cuba to overthrow Fidel Castro. The meeting is noteworthy because the chief of the Western Hemisphere division, J.C. King states that “unless Fidel and Raul Castro and Che Guevara could be eliminated in one package—which is highly unlikely—this operation can be a long, drawn out affair and the present government will only be overthrown by the use of force.” 
 
Document 5 - CIA, 3/16/1960, “A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime”

This memorandum outlines the original plans for what became the Bay of Pigs. It was presented to and authorized by President Eisenhower on March 17, 1960. Components of the plan include the creation of a unified Cuban opposition, development of broadcasting facilities, and the training of paramilitary forces.  The purpose of the operations, according to the proposal, is to “bring about the replacement of the Castro regime with one more devoted to the true interests of the Cuban people and more acceptable to the U.S. in such a manner as to avoid any appearance of U.S. intervention.” The original proposed budget is $4.4 million; by the time of the invasion the budget has risen to $45 million.
 
Document 6 - NSC, 3/11/1961, “Memorandum of Discussion on Cuba, March 11, 1961”

This top secret memorandum of conversation from a meeting of the National Security Council describes continued planning of paramilitary operations in Cuba. President Kennedy says he plans to authorize an operation in which “patriotic Cubans return to their homeland.”
  
Document 7 – White House, 3/2/1963, [Audio conversation between President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy]

[Part 1 - mp3] [Part 2 - mp3]

In this telephone conversation between President Kennedy and his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy, they discuss concerns that a Senate investigating committee might reveal that the President had authorized jets from the US aircraft carrier Essex to provide one hour of air coverage, to create a no-fly zone for Bay of Pigs B-26 bombers the morning of April 19. Due to a timing mistake, the jets never met up with the bombers; 2 bombers were shot down, leading to the deaths of 4 Americans.

Document 8 - White House, “Memorandum for the President: Conversation with Commandante Ernesto Guevara of Cuba,” August 22, 1961.

In this memorandum of conversation, aide Richard Goodwin recounts for President Kennedy his conversation with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who seeks to establish a “modus vivendi” with the U.S. government. This document is noteworth for the Bay of Pigs because Guevara “wanted to thank us very much for the invasion- that it had been a great political victory for them- enabled them to consolidate- and transformed them from an aggrieved little country to an equal.”

Interview - In October 1996, the National Security Archive’s Cuba Documentation project arranged for the two chief managers of the Bay of Pigs operation, Jacob Esterline and Colonel Jack Hawkins, to meet in a Washington DC hotel for a lengthy filmed interview on the invasion. The meeting marked the first time they had seen each other since the weekend of April 17-19, 1961, and the first time they had together recalled the events surrounding the failed invasion. This interview was conducted by the Archive’s Peter Kornbluh and is excerpted in his book, Bay of Pigs Declassified (New York: The New Press, 1998).

Alla fine, la sentenza di morte emessa dal Mossad nei confronti di Vittorio Arrigoni, sin dai tempi di “Piombo Fuso”, è stata eseguita.

Perchè nessuno ci può togliere la convinzione, anche se prove al momento non ne abbiamo, ma salteranno fuori, che la morte di Vittorio sia opera dei servizi israeliani infiltrati nella inesistente “rete fantasma” di Al-Qaeda: perchè sappiatelo, si scrive Al-Qaeda, ma si legge CIA e si pronuncia Mossad.

Il suo corpo privo di vita è stato trovato all’alba di oggi, venerdì 15 aprile, in una casa abbandonata, nella Strscia di Gaza.

Tre uomini armati, del gruppo jihadista salafita autodenominatosi “The Brigade of the Gallant Companion of the Prophet Mohammad Bin Muslima “, avevano rapito nel centro di Gaza l’attivista pacifista del Free Gaza Movement, membro pure dell’International Solidarity Movement, richiedendo come riscatto ad Hamas, che ha in carico il governo della Striscia di Gaza, la liberazione di alcuni salafiti detenuti nelle carceri di Hamas a Gaza, tra cui anche Sheikh Al Saidani (meglio conosciuto come Abu Walid Al Maqdisi),  leader dei gruppi Tawhid e Jihad, affiliati ad Al Qaida

Hamas nella Striscia ha la mano pesante con i terroristi, quelli veri, che sono in odore di “servizi israeliani”, e le cui gesta disumane sono sfruttate come scusa per le rappresaglie sioniste ai danni della popolazioone di Gaza.

In caso di inadempienza alle richieste dei rapitori, entro le ore 17 locali di Gaza, Vittorio sarebbe stato ucciso.

I gruppi diretti da Al Maqdisi/Al Saidani hanno mietuto decine di vittime in attacchi ad obiettivi civili e fu arrestato dalle forze egiziane poco più di un mese fa con l’imputazione di diversi attentati terroristici, tra cui quello in un albergo del Sinai dove nel 2006 persro la vita una ventina di persone.

VIDEO YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP0VuAWhJkc

Fin qui la cronaca (news tratte da varie agenzie arabe in rete).

Ora una precisazione e una riflessione.

La precisazione. Intanto, per onestà intellettuale, diciamo subito che pur condividendo la stessa passione e slancio verso la comune causa di libertà e indipendenza per la Palestina (per noi Terra Santa), i rapporti d’amicizia con Vittorio si erano da tempo interrotti, a causa di sue posizioni intransigenti e oltraggiosamente irrispettose nei confronti di chi, come noi e come chi scrive, manifestava idee o fede diversa dalla sua. Questo detto per amore della sincerità, per non voler passare come quelli che si sperticano in lodi per farsi belli nei momenti di commozione e lutto. Ciò ovviamente non incide minimamente sul giudizio riguardo alle sue doti umane e sulla sua generosità d’animo dimostrata sul campo in questi anni, che ne fanno un uomo degno di essere ricordato con l’onore che merita.

La riflessione. Quando diciamo “i salafiti di Al-Qaeda/Cia/Mossad hanno ammazzato Vittorio Arrigoni”, intendiamo dire esattamente e letteralmente quel che abbiamo detto. Che Al-Qaeda sia una creatura organica ai giochi di guerra d’occupazione americani e israeliani, anche un bambino ormai lo sa e l’ha capito. Chi parla del gruppo di Bin Laden e di Al-Qaeda come un’entità rivoluzionaria che persegue gli interessi dell’islam, o è in mala fede, o è male informato, o non è abbastanza attento a quel che succede sullo scacchiere geopolitico internazionale in concomitanza delle operazioni “al-qaediste”. Perchè sempre, dalle operazioni in Afganistan contro i russi in poi, non c’è stata una sola operazione al-qaedista che non abbia portato con se occupazione militare, escalation belliche, intensificazione di operazioni geostrategiche per riposizionare le forze sul campo, pressioni politiche per condizionare scelte nazionali maggiormente repressive e intrusive nei confronti delle libertà dei cittadini. In parole più semplici, se Al-Qaeda non ci fosse, i servizi di intelligence israelo/americani avrebbero dovuto inventarla: ed infatti Al-Qaeda fu una creatura dei servizi, denominata “the base”, o meglio “the database”.

Ora, a prescindere che a Gaza nessuno conosce questo gruppo salafita denominato “The Brigade of the Gallant Companion of the Prophet Mohammad Bin Muslima”, e a prescindere pure che fonti governative di Gaza dichiarano essere inesistente alcun gruppo operativo del genere all’interno della Striscia (vedi le dichiarazioni rilasciate qui all’Agenzia Infopal), se non come microrealtà manovrate dall’intelligence israeliana per creare e generare conflittualità/provocazioni interne, contando su manovalanza pescata tra il fanatismo jihadista, dobbiamo chiederci assolutamente una cosa: perchè, per quale motivo, fantomatici gruppi islamici in dissenso con Hamas avrebbero dovuto rapire un italiano per far pressioni al fine di ottenere il rilascio di detenuti prigionieri nelle carceri di Gaza?

Non ha senso. Per poter fare pressioni del genere si sarebbero dovuti rapire esponenti del governo di Gaza o rappresentanti islamici vicini ad Hamas. Altrimenti si sarebbe dovuto rapire un italiano per fare pressioni al fine di ottenere il rilascio di detenuti islamico-salafiti presenti nelle carceri italiane. Tutta questa operazione di kidnaping ha senso come rapire un tedesco per chiedere il rilascio di un cinese, detenuto in carceri cinesi?

E perchè, tra tutti gli attivisti internazionali presenti a Gaza, rapire proprio Vittorio Arrigoni? Vogliamo fare un reload e tornare indietro di un paio d’anni?

Vittorio, a differenza di inglesi, francesi, e altri, era l’unico italiano testimone di “Piombo Fuso”: aveva visto troppo, stava testimoniando, in lingua italiana, troppo. Suoi cablo di cronaca era riportati da giornali e riviste, on-line e cartacei.

Ma soprattutto su di lui era stata emessa una condanna a morte dalle milizie israelite, che ne avevano diramato comunicazione in rete sin dall’inizio del 2009, condite di minacce e folli proclami sionisti. Questa è la verità.

Emessa la sentenza, eseguita la condanna.

Riposa in pace Vittorio, restiamo in pace, o come diresti tu, “restiamo umani”.

Per noi non finisce qui. Fino alla fine.

Filippo Fortunato Pilato, per TerraSantaLibera.org

http://www.terrasantalibera.org/
http://terrasantalibera.wordpress.com/
http://terrasantalibera.com/wordpress/

الخطة السرية من أجل ع 

April 15th, 2011 by Ellen Brown

الخطة السرية من أجل عملة عالمية

للكاتبة: إلين براون

عرض لفصل من كتاب “الأزمة الاقتصاية العالمية: الكساد العظيم للقرن الحادى والعشرين” لمؤلفيه  “ميشيل شوسودوفيسكى” و “أندرو جيفن مرشال”

نشر بموقع جلوبال ريسرش بتاريخ 17 مارس 2011

Secretive Plan For a Global Currency

Excerpt from “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century”

by Ellen Brown

Global Research, March 17, 2011

ترجمة: سامى عزيز

 

في ختام اجتماعات مجموعة الدول العشرين الكبرى (G20) في لندن أصدرت بياناً بتاريخ 2/4/2009 تضمن الإعلان عن عزم هذه الدول على السعي مجتمعة للخروج بالاقتصاد العالمي من حالة الكساد والحيلولة دون وقوع مثل هذه الأزمات مستقبلاً، وأعلنت الإلتزام بإتخاذ كافة الإجراءات اللازمة لاستعادة التدفقات الطبيعية للائتمان من خلال النظام المالي وضمان سلامة المؤسسات التي تلعب دوراً محورياً في هذا النظام، وأن تقوم دول مجموعة العشرين بتنفيذ سياساتها في إطار ما تم الاتفاق عليه بشأن إستعادة أنشطة الإقراض وإصلاح القطاع المالي. وقد تم الاتفاق على إجراء تخصيص عام لوحدات حقوق السحب الخاصة general [1]SDR allocation والذي يمكن من خلاله توفير سيولة للاقتصاد العالمي بنحو 250 بليون دولار.

وهنا يثور التساؤل حول ما إذا كانت مجموعة الدول العشرين الكبري (G20) تسعى إلى إنشاء بنك مركزي عالمي، وما هي الجهة التي يمكن أن تقوم بهذا الدور، والتي يمكن أن تتوافر لها السلطة لإصدار عملة عالمية، وأن تفرض سياسة نقدية على كل دول العالم. وعندما التقى مسئولو البنوك المركزية في واشنطن في سبتمبر 2008، وقت حدوث الانهيار المالي، فقد تناولوا بحث ماهية الكيان الذي يمكن له أن يقوم بدور البنك المركزي القادر على مواجهة هذه الأوضاع. وذكر محافظ بنك انجلترا أن الإجابة على هذا السؤال يمكن أن تتمثل في بنك التسويات الدولية (Bank for International Settlements – BIS). وأشار محافظ بنك انجلترا إلى أن صندوق النقد الدولي غالباً ما يوجه تحذيراته بشأن المشكلات الاقتصادية بأسلوب يتسم بالدبلوماسية، في حين أن بنك التسويات الدولية يتمتع باستقلالية أكبر وهو مؤهل بدرجة أكبر للإضطلاع بهذا الدور إذا توافرت له الصلاحيات التي تؤهله للقيام بذلك.

وإذا كانت الرؤية المتعلقة بإنشاء عملة عالمية بعيداً عن سيطرة الحكومات غير كافية لتهدئة مخاوف أصحاب نظرية المؤامرة فإن إسناد جهة إصدارها إلى بنك التسويات الدولية من شأنه أن يهدأ من هذه المخاوف. وقد أنشئ بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) في مدينة بازل بسويسرا في عام 1930. وقد عرف هذا البنك بأنه من أكثر المؤسسات فوق القومية التي تتمتع بالحصانة والسرية على المستوى العالمي. وكانت اتهامات قد وجهت إلى بنك التسويات الدولية بأنه كانت لديه ميول نازية خلال ثلاثينات القرن الماضي. وقد تبنت الحكومة الأمريكية قراراً أثناء مؤتمر بريتون وودز يطالب بتصفية بنك التسويات الدولية، وقد نجح ممثلو البنوك المركزية الأوروبية في هذا المؤتمر في سحب القرار الأمريكي بهذا الشأن.

وقد كشفت كارول كويجلي في كتابها In Tragedy and Hope: A History of the world in Our Time-1966) عن حقيقة الدور الذي يقوم به بنك التسويات الدولية في مجال التمويل الدولي. وقد عملت الدكتورة كويجلي أستاداً للتاريخ في جامعة جورج تاون، وتعتبر المعلم الخاص للرئيس بيل كلنتون. وقد عملت الدكتورة كويجلي ضمن مجموعة المصرفيين الدوليين (International Bankers): وقد برهنت على مصداقيتها من خلال تبنيها لأهداف هذه المجموعة، حيث كتبت تقول بأنها على علم بطبيعة المعاملات التي تجري من خلال بنك التسويات الدولية، حيث قامت يتتبعتها على مدى 20 عاماً. وقد سُمح لها لمدة عامين في أوائل ستينات القرن الماضي أن تقوم بتفحص أوراقه وسجلاته السرية. وأوضحت الدكتورة كويجلي أنه ليس لديها إعتراض على الجانب الأكبر من هذه المعاملات وأغراضها وأدواتها. وتبقى نقطة الخلاف الأساسية حول الرغبة في إحاطة هذه المعاملات بالسرية، حيث يلعب هذا البنك دوراً مهماً في النظام المالي العالمي مما يستدعي التعرف على هذا الدور.

وتشير كارول كويجلي إلى أن الرأسمالية المالية تسعى من خلال بسط نفوذها إلى تحقيق أهداف بعيدة المدى، ليس أقلها العمل على تكريس نظام عالمي للسيطرة المالية في أيدٍ خاصة تكون قادرة على إخضاع النظام السيادي في كل بلد واقتصاد العالم ككل. إن مثل هذا النظام قد تشكل على النمط الإقطاعي بواسطة البنوك المركزية من خلال جهود منسقة على المستوى العالمي، وذلك من خلال اتفاقات سرية، تم التوصل إليها عبر العديد من الاجتماعات والمؤتمرات الخاصة. ويمثل بنك التسويات الدولية رأس هذا النظام بإعتباره بنكاً خاصاً تمتلكه وتديره البنوك المركزية التي نشأت منذ البداية كمؤسسات خاصة. ويعتمد نجاحهم في هذا الصدد على مدى سيطرتهم وتأثيرهم على النظام النقدي في أي بلد في ذات الوقت الذي تبدو فيه الأمور كما لو كانت تحت سيطرة الحكومة.

ويأتي ما ذكر سابقاً كصدى لما تم وضعه من أسس في القرن الثامن عشر على أيدي مؤسس أعرق العائلات المصرفية في العالم وهو السيد ماير امشيل بور روتشيلد والذي صرح في عام 1791 بالقول “دعوني أصدر وأتحكم في عملة بلد ولن يهمني بعد ذلك أمر من يضع القوانين في ذلك البلد”. وقد أرسل ماير أبناءه الخمسة إلى أهم العواصم الرأسمالية في أوروبا وهي لندن وباريس وفينا وبرلين ونابولي. وكانت المهمة الأولى لكل منهم إنشاء نظام مصرفي يكون بمنأي عن سيطرة الحكومة، وبذلك تكون النظم الاقتصادية والسياسية في هذه الدول تحت سيطرة المصرفيين ولمصلحتهم بعيداً عن سيطرة مواطنيها. وعلى هذا الأساس، تم إنشاء بنوك مركزية مملوكة ملكية خاصة في كل بلد. وأصبح نظام البنوك المركزية هذا مسيطراً على اقتصادات العالم، حيث تتمتع البنوك المركزية بسلطة إصدار النقود، وتلجأ الحكومات إلى الاقتراض من البنوك المركزية لتسديد الديون المستحقة عليها وتمويل المعاملات الحكومية. ونتيجة لذلك، فإن الاقتصاد العالمي، بما فيه القطاع الصناعي والحكومة، يعتمد على الائتمان (أو الدين) الذي يوفره القطاع المصرفي بشكل إحتكاري، تقوده شبكة من البنوك المركزية الخاصة، ويقوم على رأس هذه الشبكة بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) الذي يعتبر البنك المركزي للبنوك المركزية ومقره بازل بسويسرا.

وقد حافظ بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) على صورته في الظل لسنوات عديدة، حيث ظل يقوم بأعماله متخذاً فندقاً معزولاً مقراً له. وفي ذلك المكان تم اتخاذ قرارات لتخفيض قيمة عملات أو الدفاع عن عملات، وإتخاذ قرارات لتثبيت سعر الذهب، وتنظيم الأنشطة المصرفية فيما وراء البحار(offshore banking)، ورفع أو خفض أسعار الفائدة قصيرة الأجل. وفي عام 1977، تخلى بنك التسويات الدولية عن أسلوب التستر في ممارسة أنشطته ليتحول إلى إدارة هذه الأنشطة من خلال مراكز أكثر كفاءة. ويشغل بنك التسويات الدولية حالياً مبنى يتكون من 18 طابقاً على شكل ناطحة سحاب دائرية، تشبه مفاعلاً نووياً أقيم في غير موضعه، في تلك المدينة التاريخية (بازال) التي تنتمي إلى العصور الوسطى. ويُعرف هذا المبنى الآن بأسم برج بازال (Tower of Basel). ويتمتع بنك التسويات الدولية بحصانة حكومية، ولا يدفع ضرائب، وله قوة بوليس خاصة به. وهو بالضبط كما أراده ماير روتشيلد، فوق القانون.

ويتكون بنك التسويات الدولية من 55 دولة عضو. ولكن الأعضاء (النادي) الذين يلتقون بصورة منتظمة في بازال هم أقل من ذلك بكثير. وحتى داخل هذه المجموعة بوجد تدرج في المستويات (hierarchy). وفي عام 1983 نشرت مجلة Harper’s Magazine مقالاً بعنوانRuhing the World of Money  أشار فيها الكاتب Edward Jay Epstein إلى أن الأعمال الحقيقية يجري انجازها من خلال مجموعة صغيرة (نادي ضيق inner club) يتكون من نصف دستة (ستة) من مسئولي البنوك المركزية القوية جداً الذين يدركون أنهم في قارب نقدي واحد (Same monetary boat)، وهم مسئولو البنوك المركزية في كل من ألمانيا والولايات المتحدة وسويسرا وايطاليا واليابان وانجلترا. ويشير كاتب المقال إلى أن المبدأ الأساسي الذي يميز أعضاء المجموعة الصغيرة (النادي الضيق) عن غيره من أعضاء بنك التسويات الدولية هو الاعتقاد الراسخ في أن البنوك المركزية يجب أن تتصرف باستقلالية عن حكومات بلدانها، كما يرتبط بهذا الاعتقاد اعتقاد آخر في أنه لا يجب أن توضع ثقة في السياسيين ليحددوا مصير النظام النقدي الدولي.

وفي عام 1974 تم إنشاء لجنة بازال للرقابة المصرفية The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision) من جانب محافظي البنوك المركزية في الدول العشرة الكبرى (G10)والتي أصبحت الآن (G20). ويتولى بنك التسويات الدولية أمر تعيين الاثني عشر عضوا الذين يمثلون سكرتارية لجنة بازال للرقابة المصرفية. وتقوم هذه اللجنة بوضع القواعد المنظمة للأنشطة المصرفية على المستوى العالمي، ومن بينها ضوابط الاحتياطيات ومتطلبات رأس المال.

وفي عام 2003 كتب Joan Veon مقالاً بعنوان بنك التسويات الدولية يدعو إلى إنشاء عملة عالمية، وأشار في مقاله إلى أن بنك التسويات الدولية يمثل كياناً يلتقي من خلاله كل البنوك المركزية في العالم لتحليل الاقتصاد العالمي وتحديد مسارات العمل التي يمكن لهم من خلالها تكديس المزيد من الأموال في جيوبهم، حيث أنهم يتحكمون في كمية النقد المتداول ومستوى الفائدة التي تتحملها الحكومات والبنوك التي تلجأ إليها هذه الحكومات للاقتراض.

وعندما نكتشف أن بنك التسويات الدولية يمسك بخيوط النظام النقدي العالمي، ندرك أنه يقدر على خلق حالة من الازدهار المالي أو الأزمة في بلد معين، عندما لا ينفذ ذلك البلد ما يريده المقرضون، فيعمدون إلى بيع عملة ذلك البلد.

وقد تجلت سطوة بنك التسويات الدولية في رفع أو ضرب اقتصادات الدول بمناسبة مقررات لجنة بازل التي أصدرها البنك في عام 1988 بشأن رفع نسبة متطلبات رأس مال البنوك من 6% إلى 8% أو ما يعرف بمعدلات كفاية رأس المال. حيث كانت اليابان في ذلك الوقت أكبر دولة دائنة على مستوى العالم، وفي ذات الوقت كانت معدلات كفاية رأس المال للبنوك اليابانية أقل من مثيلاتها لدى البنوك في غيرها من الدول. وقد أدى تنفيذ البنوك اليابانية لمقررات لجنة بازال إلى رفع متطلبات رأس المال وخفض مستويات الإقراض لديها، وهو ما أدى بدوره إلى خلق حالة من الكساد في اليابان تشبه حالة الكساد التي تمر بها الولايات المتحدة حالياً، حيث تراجعت أسعار العقارات وتعثر سداد القروض وتراجعت فرص الإقراض بسبب نقص الضمانات المتوافرة لتقديمها. وقد أعقب ذلك اتجاه هبوطي في الأداء الاقتصادي حتى وصلت البنوك إلى حالة الإفلاس. وقد ترتب على ذلك اتخاذ الحكومة اليابانية إجراءات لتملك حصصاً كبيرة في البنوك.

ومن ناحية أخرى، فقد ترتب على مقررات لجنة بازال حدوث أضرار لا ترتبط بصورة مباشرة بهذه المقررات، ومنها انتشار حالات الانتحار فيما بين المزارعين الهنود نتيجة عجزهم عن الحصول على قروض، حيث تقتضي معايير لجنة بازل بخصوص كفاية رأس المال أن تكون القروض المقدمة للمقترضين من القطاع الخاص مرجحة بالمخاطر (risk weighted) على أساس درجة المخاطر التي تحددها وكالات تصنيف خاصة. ونظراً لعدم قدرة المزارعين وأصحاب الأعمال الصغيرة على دفع مصاريف خدمات تقييم المخاطر من جانب هذه الوكالات، فقد رفعت البنوك درجة المخاطر إلى 100% عند ترجيح أوزان المخاطر للقروض المقدمة لهؤلاء المزارعين وأصحاب الأعمال الصغيرة، ومن ثم قاومت البنوك تقديم القروض إلى هذه الفئة من المقترضين بإعتبارها فئة عالية المخاطر. وعندما صحا ضمير الأمة نتيجة لتزايد حالات الانتحار، وإدراكاً من الحكومة لأوضاع المزارعين وأصحاب الأعمال الصغيرة الذين تجاهلتهم البنوك التجارية، فقد اتبعت الحكومة سياسة لإنهاء حالات الإقصاء المالي للضعفاء. ومع ذلك تبقى هذه السياسة محدودة الأثر نتيجة القيود التي يفرضها بنك التسويات الدولية من الخارج.

وقد قام هنري ليو بتحليل تأثيرات مقررات لجنة بازل في توجيه النظم المصرفية الوطنية لتضبط إيقاعها مع الأسس التي تضمنتها هذه المقررات، والتي صُممت لتلبي متطلبات أسواق المال العالمية التي تتسم بدرجة عالية من التطور، وذلك بصرف النظر عن الاحتياجات التنموية للاقتصادات الوطنية. وفي هذا الخصوص، يشير هنرى ليو إلى أن النظم المصرفية الوطنية فد وجدت نفسها فجأة بين فكي رحى مقررات لجنة بازال بشأن كفاية رأس المال التي تبناها بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS). فإما الإنصياع لهذه المقررات أو مواجهة المخاطر المترتبة على الاقتراض بمعدلات فائدة مرتفعة نتيجة للاقتراض غير المضمون من الأسواق المصرفية العالمية. وهكذا تصبح السياسات الوطنية مطية للمؤسسات المالية الخاصة وحوافز الربح لديها. والحال هكذا، يصبح كل المسئولين في مختلف المستويات خاضعين وموجهين من المراكز النقدية المصرفية في نيويورك، وتكون النتيجة هي إجبار النظم المصرفية الوطنية على الخصخصة.

وتجدر الإشارة إلى أن القواعد التي يضعها بنك التسويات الدولية هي فقط من أجل تقوية النظام المصرفي الخاص على المستوى العالمي، وحتى لو كان ذلك على حساب الاقتصادات الوطنية. وفي هذا الإطار يعمل كل من صندوق النقد الدولي والبنوك العالمية كفريق واحد، حيث تقوم البنوك العالمية بتقديم القروض إلى المقترضين في الأسواق الناشئة غير عابئة بما ينجم عن ذلك من أزمات الديون بالعملة الأجنبية، وعندئذ يأتي دور صندوق النقد الدولي (حامل الفيروس النقدي) ليوصي هذه الاقتصادات بإتباع سياسات نقدية سليمة، ويتبع ذلك انقضاض البنوك العالمية كالجوارح المفترسة للاستثمار في تلك الاقتصادات في إطار ما يسمى بالإنقاذ المالي، حيث يتم الاستحواز على البنوك الوطنية التي تم تصنيفها من قبل بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) بإعتبارها متعثرة ولا تلبي معايير كفاية رأس المال.

ومما يثير السخرية، على حد قول هنري ليو، فإن الدول النامية بما يتوافر لديها من موارد طبيعية لا تحتاج فعلياً إلى الاستثمار الأجنبي الذي أوقعهم في مصيدة الدين الخارجي. وإذا طبقنا نظرية الدولة في النقود (The State theory of Money) والتي تقوم على افتراض أن الأمة ذات السيادة تكون لها السلطة لإصدار النقد، فإن أي حكومة تستطيع أن تمول بعملتها كل الاحتياجات التنموية المحلية لتحافظ عل مستوى التشغيل الكامل دون ارتفاع معدل التضخم. وعندما تقع الحكومات في فخ القبول بالاقتراض بالعملات الأجنبية، تصبح عندئذ “دول مدينة” يحق لصندوق النقد الدولي (IMF) وبنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) أن يطبق على هذه الدول قواعدهما. وبموجب هذه القواعد تلتزم هذه الدول بتوجيه الإنتاج للتصدير حتى توفر النقد الأجنبي اللازم للوفاء بالالتزامات المترتبة على الدين الخارجي. وحيث أن البنوك الوطنية في هذه الدول قد اعُتبرت غير مستوفية لمعايير كفاية رأس المال فينبغي عليها أن تخضع لقيود أشبه بالشروط التي يفرضها صندوق النقد الدول على الدول المدينة.

ومن أبرز القيود التي تُفرض على البنوك الوطنية في الدول المدينة، رفع متطلبات رأس المال، وشطب الديون، والتصفية وإعادة الهيكلة من خلال إجراء تخفيضات سعرية أو الإغلاق أو تقليل الحجم أو تخفيض التكلفة أو تجميد الإنفاق الرأسمالي. وفي هذا الخصوص، أكد هنري ليو على أنه وعلى عكس المنطق الذي يقتضي أن يؤدي النظام المصرفي السليم إلى التشغيل الكامل والنمو المقترن بالتنمية، فإن الالتزام بقواعد بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) يؤدي إلى ارتفاع مستوى البطالة وتراجع مستويات التنمية في الاقتصادات النامية كجزاء عادل للحفاظ على نظام مصرفي سليم على المستوى العالمي.

هذا، وفي ذات الوقت الذي تُعاقب فيه البنوك الوطنية في الدول النامية بسبب عدم استيفاء متطلبات رأس المال التي وضعها بنك التسويات الدولية، فقد نجحت البنوك العالمية الكبرى في تجاوز هذه القواعد، وذلك على الرغم مما تتعرض له هذه البنوك من مخاطر هائلة بسبب الانكشاف الناتج عن المراكز المدينة للمشتقات المالية. وقد استطاعت البنوك العملاقة (The Megabanks) أن تجد مخرجاً تستطيع من خلاله أن تتحمل تكلفة أدنى لرؤوس الأموال من خلال الأنشطة التي لا تعكسها ميزانيات هذه البنوك (off-balance sheet activities)، حيث تستطيع هذه البنوك أن تحصل على قروض لا تنعكس كالتزامات ضمن ميزانياتها، وذلك عن طريق إدماج هذه القروض في أوراق مالية لبيعها بخصم معين إلى مستثمرين، وذلك بعد فصل المخاطر المرتبطة بالتعثر عن سداد هذه القروض وبيعها أيضاً بخصم معين إل مستثمرين آخرين، وذلك من خلال أداة من أدوات المشتقات المالية يطلق عليها (Credit default Swaps) أو عقود التبادل لسد العجز في المراكز الدائنة.

وينبغي التنويه بأن البنوك الأمريكية لا يمكن لها أن تتفادى الالتزام بقواعد بنك التسويات الدولية بصورة تامة. فقد أدت الشكاوي بشأن وجود ثغرات فيما يتعلق بمقررات بازل إلى الإسراع يوضع مجموعة جديدة من القواعد التي أطلق عليها بازالII (Basel II)، والتي تضمنت وضع أساس لمتطلبات رأس المال لمواجهة مخاطر السوق وفقاً للمعيار المحاسبي “القيمة المحملة بالمخاطر” (Value at risk). وقد تم التوصل إلى القواعد الجديدة في عام 2007، ولكنها لم تُفرض على البنوك الأمريكية حتى نوفمبر 2007، وهو الشهر التالي لوصول مؤشر داو جونز للأسهم الأمريكية إلى أعلى مستوى له في تاريخه، حيث تجاوز 14000 نقطة. وفي أول نوفمبر 2007، وافق مكتب الرقابة على العملة ( (The office of the Controller of the Currencyعلى تنفيذ مقررات بازال (II)، بعد إدخال التعديلات النهائية عليها في 15 نوفمبر 2007، وذلك ضمن حزمة معايير المحاسبة المالية (157 معيار) التي تبناها مجلس معايير المحاسبة المالية (FASB). وكان تأثير تطبيق هذه المعايير على البنوك الأمريكية مشابها لتأثير تطبيق معايير بازل على البنوك اليابانية، حيث دخلت البنوك الأمريكية في مرحلة الصراع من أجل البقاء منذ ذلك التاريخ.

وبموجب قاعدة التقييم على أساس السوق (The mark to market rule) فإن البنوك تكون مطالبة بتعديل قيمة الأدوات المالية المتداولة لتعكس سعر السوق (market price) لتلك الأدوات. وعلى الرغم من المزايا النظرية لتطبيق مثل هذه القاعدة، فإن المشكلة تكمن في توقيت هذا التطبيق، حيث تم تطبيقها بعد فوات الأوان (ex post Facto)، وانعكست بالتالي القيمة السوقية المتدنية للأصول على قيمتها في سجلات البنوك. وبموجب هذه الأوضاع، تحول المقرضون اللذين كانوا يعتبرون أنفسهم ذا ملائة رأسمالية جيدة إلى معسرين. وفي هذا الخصوص، كتب المحلل المالي جون بيرلو في أكتوبر 2008 مشيرا إلى الأزمة المالية التي وصفوا انتشارها بإعتباره “عدوى الأنفلونزا الأمريكية” حيث أرجع انتشار العدوى إلى القواعد الدولية لمقررات بازل (Basel II). وقد تم تطبيق نفس القواعد من جانب الاتحاد الأوروبي، وأدت إلى تسارع الأزمة المالية أيضاً.

وغالباً ما يُطلق على الأزمة فشل السوق ((market failure. ويبدو مصطلح “التقييم على  أساس السوق (mark to market) معززاً لهذا التعريف. ويخلص جون بيرلو إلى أن قاعدة “التقييم على أساس السوق” هي ضد السوق وتعوق أداء السوق لوظائفه وخصوصاً في مجال تحديد الأسعار، حيث يؤدي تطبيق هذه القاعدة المحاسبية إلى اضطرار بعض الأطراف إلى التخلي عن أصل من الأصول في الوقت الذي لا يكون فيه أداء السوق مواتياً.

وقد أدى فرض تطبيق قاعدة التقييم على أساس السوق (mark to market rule) على البنوك الأمريكية إلى تجميد قدرة هذه البنوك على تقديم الائتمان، وقد أدى ذلك بدوره إلى تراجع أداء الاقتصاد الأمريكي وغيره من اقتصادات الدول على المستوى العالمي. وفي إبريل 2009، بدأ مجلس معايير المحاسبة المالية (FASB) في تخفيف القيود المتعلقة بتطبيق قاعدة “تقييم الأصول على أساس سعر السوق (market to maker rule)، وذلك بفضل الضغوط التي مارسها بعض السياسيين ورجال المصارف، إلا أن هذه التغييرات لم تمس جوهر القواعد المحاسبية التي وضعها بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) ومجلس معايير المحاسبة المالية (FASB). وفي هذا الصدد، يشير جون بيرلو إلى أن بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) كانت قد وجهت إليه تحذيرات منذ عام 2001 بشأن مقررات بازل II (Basel II)، وخصوصاً فيما يتعلق بالتأثيرات الانكماشية لتطبيق هذه المقررات، حيث يؤدي تطبيقها خلال فترات تراجع أداء النشاط الاقتصادي إلى جعل الأمور أكثر سوءاً.

وفي تعليق رسمي من جانب بعض الاقتصاديين على مقررات لجنة بازل II بخصوص الرقابة المصرفية، أشاروا إلى أن مبدأ القيمة المرجحة بالمخاطر (Value at Risk) بمكن أن يزعزع استقرار الاقتصاد ويحدث انهيارات كان يمكن تجنبها إذا لم تطبق تلك المقررات. ويشير جون دانلسون إلى أن مقررات لجنة بازل II من شأنها مجتمعة أن تعزز من دور العوامل الدافعة لحدوث الأزمات الدورية وزيادة درجة انكشاف النظم المالية أمام تلك الأزمات. وقد دعا هؤلاء الاقتصاديين إلى التصدي للآثار السلبية لتطبيق مقررات لجنة بازال II، وإعادة النظر فيها قبل فوات الأوان. ولم يستجب بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) لهذه المطالبات، بل أنه في ظل الخراب الواسع الذي نتج عن تطبيق القواعد التي وضعها بنك التسويات الدولية، وما أشار إليه بوضوح أصحاب نظرية المؤامرة، يبرز التساؤل: لماذا يقف بنك التسويات الدولية متفرجاً وهو يرى الاقتصاد العالمي ينهار أم أن الهدف هو إحداث هذا الخراب الاقتصادي الكبير ليدفع العالم للارتماء بلا مقاومة بين زراعي المنقذ الاقتصادي بعملته العالمية التي تستند إلى القواعد الخاصة التي أرساها.

إعداد

سامي عزيز جرجس

14 أبريل 2011

ش.س

[1] - وحدة حقوق السحب الخاصة (SDR)، هي أصل احتياطي دولي أنشأه الصندوق في عام 1969 (بموجب التعديل الأول لاتفاقية تأسيسه) نتيجة لقلق البلدان الأعضاء من احتمال عدم كفاية المخزون المتوفر آنذاك والنمو المتوقع في الاحتياطيات الدولية لدعم التوسع في التجارة العالمية وكانت أهم الأصول الاحتياطية في ذلك الحين هي الذهب ودولار الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية، ولم يشأ الأعضاء أن تعتمد الاحتياطيات العالمية على إنتاج الذهب بما ينطوي عليه من تقلبات كامنة، وعلى العجز المتواصل في ميزان مدفوعات الولايات المتحدة، وهو الأمر الذي كان مطلوباً لتحقيق نمو مستمر في الاحتياطيات بالدولار الأمريكي. وتم استحداث حقوق السحب الخاصة كأصل احتياطي تكميلي يمكن لصندوق النقد الدولي “تخصيصه” للبلدان الأعضاء بصفة دورية حين تنشأ الحاجة. كما يمكن له إلغاؤه إذا ما اقتضت الضرورة وحقوق السحب الخاصة – التي تعرف أحياناً باسم “الذهب الورقي” رغم تجردها من الوجود المادي – يتم تخصيصها للبلدان الأعضاء (في صورة قيود دفترية) كنسبة مئوية من حصصها.

وقد خصص الصندوق حتى الآن 21.4 بليون وحدة حقوق سحب خاصة (حوالي 29 بليون دولار أمريكي) للبلدان الأعضاء، وكان آخر تخصيص هو الذي تم في عام 1981 عندما تم تخصيص 4.1 بليون وحدة حقوق سحب خاصة لعدد 141 بلداً كانت هي أعضاء الصندوق في ذلك الحين. ومنذ عام 1981، لم ير الأعضاء حاجة لإجراء تخصيص عام آخر لحقوق السحب الخاصة، وهو ما يرجع في جانب منه إلى نمو أسواق رأس المال الدولية ولكن في سبتمبر 1997، مع ازدياد عدد البلدان الأعضاء في الصندوق – التي تضمنت بلداناً لم تكن قد تلقت أي تخصيص بعد – اقترح مجلس المحافظين إدخال تعديل رابع على اتفاقية تأسيس الصندوق. وعند الموافقة على هذا التعديل بالأغلبية المطلوبة من أصوات الحكومات الأعضاء، فسوف يصرح الصندوق بإجراء تخصيص خاص لمرة واحدة “لتحقيق المساواة” بمقدار 21.4 بليون وحدة حقوق سحب خاصة، على أن يتم توزيعها على نحو يرفع نسبة مخصصات كل الأعضاء من حقوق السحب الخاصة التراكمية إلى حصصها لتصل إلى مستوى معياري مشترك ويجوز للبلدان الأعضاء في الصندوق استخدام حقوق السحب الخاصة في المعاملات مع بعضها البعض، ومع 16 حائزاً “مؤسسياً” لحقوق السحب الخاصة، ومع الصندوق. كذلك فإن وحدة حقوق السحب الخاصة هي وحدة الحساب التي يستخدمها الصندوق. وتستخدم حقوق السحب الخاصة كوحدة حساب أو كأساس لوحدة الحساب في عدد من المنظمات الدولية والإقليمية والاتفاقات الدولية وتتحدد قيمة وحدة حقوق السحب الخاصة يومياً باستخدام سلة من أربع عملات رئيسية هي اليورو والين الياباني والجنيه الإسترليني والدولار الأمريكي. وفي أول أغسطس 2001، كانت وحدة حقوق السحب الخاصة تساوي 1.26 دولار أمريكي. وتجري مراجعة العملات المكونة للسلة كل خمس سنوات لضمان تمثيلها للعملات المستخدمة في المعاملات الدولية والتأكد من أن الأوزان المحددة للعملات تعكس أهميتها النسبية في النظم المالية والتجارية العالمية.

المصدر:imf.org  (المترجم)

 

يمكن أن تتمثل في بنك التسويات الدولية (Bank for International Settlements – BIS). وأشار محافظ بنك انجلترا إلى أن صندوق النقد الدولي غالباً ما يوجه تحذيراته بشأن المشكلات الاقتصادية بأسلوب يتسم بالدبلوماسية، في حين أن بنك التسويات الدولية يتمتع باستقلالية أكبر وهو مؤهل بدرجة أكبر للإضطلاع بهذا الدور إذا توافرت له الصلاحيات التي تؤهله للقيام بذلك.

وإذا كانت الرؤية المتعلقة بإنشاء عملة عالمية بعيداً عن سيطرة الحكومات غير كافية لتهدئة مخاوف أصحاب نظرية المؤامرة فإن إسناد جهة إصدارها إلى بنك التسويات الدولية من شأنه أن يهدأ من هذه المخاوف. وقد أنشئ بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) في مدينة بازل بسويسرا في عام 1930. وقد عرف هذا البنك بأنه من أكثر المؤسسات فوق القومية التي تتمتع بالحصانة والسرية على المستوى العالمي. وكانت اتهامات قد وجهت إلى بنك التسويات الدولية بأنه كانت لديه ميول نازية خلال ثلاثينات القرن الماضي. وقد تبنت الحكومة الأمريكية قراراً أثناء مؤتمر بريتون وودز يطالب بتصفية بنك التسويات الدولية، وقد نجح ممثلو البنوك المركزية الأوروبية في هذا المؤتمر في سحب القرار الأمريكي بهذا الشأن.

وقد كشفت كارول كويجلي في كتابها In Tragedy and Hope: A History of the world in Our Time-1966) عن حقيقة الدور الذي يقوم به بنك التسويات الدولية في مجال التمويل الدولي. وقد عملت الدكتورة كويجلي أستاداً للتاريخ في جامعة جورج تاون، وتعتبر المعلم الخاص للرئيس بيل كلنتون. وقد عملت الدكتورة كويجلي ضمن مجموعة المصرفيين الدوليين (International Bankers): وقد برهنت على مصداقيتها من خلال تبنيها لأهداف هذه المجموعة، حيث كتبت تقول بأنها على علم بطبيعة المعاملات التي تجري من خلال بنك التسويات الدولية، حيث قامت يتتبعتها على مدى 20 عاماً. وقد سُمح لها لمدة عامين في أوائل ستينات القرن الماضي أن تقوم بتفحص أوراقه وسجلاته السرية. وأوضحت الدكتورة كويجلي أنه ليس لديها إعتراض على الجانب الأكبر من هذه المعاملات وأغراضها وأدواتها. وتبقى نقطة الخلاف الأساسية حول الرغبة في إحاطة هذه المعاملات بالسرية، حيث يلعب هذا البنك دوراً مهماً في النظام المالي العالمي مما يستدعي التعرف على هذا الدور.

وتشير كارول كويجلي إلى أن الرأسمالية المالية تسعى من خلال بسط نفوذها إلى تحقيق أهداف بعيدة المدى، ليس أقلها العمل على تكريس نظام عالمي للسيطرة المالية في أيدٍ خاصة تكون قادرة على إخضاع النظام السيادي في كل بلد واقتصاد العالم ككل. إن مثل هذا النظام قد تشكل على النمط الإقطاعي بواسطة البنوك المركزية من خلال جهود منسقة على المستوى العالمي، وذلك من خلال اتفاقات سرية، تم التوصل إليها عبر العديد من الاجتماعات والمؤتمرات الخاصة. ويمثل بنك التسويات الدولية رأس هذا النظام بإعتباره بنكاً خاصاً تمتلكه وتديره البنوك المركزية التي نشأت منذ البداية كمؤسسات خاصة. ويعتمد نجاحهم في هذا الصدد على مدى سيطرتهم وتأثيرهم على النظام النقدي في أي بلد في ذات الوقت الذي تبدو فيه الأمور كما لو كانت تحت سيطرة الحكومة.

ويأتي ما ذكر سابقاً كصدى لما تم وضعه من أسس في القرن الثامن عشر على أيدي مؤسس أعرق العائلات المصرفية في العالم وهو السيد ماير امشيل بور روتشيلد والذي صرح في عام 1791 بالقول “دعوني أصدر وأتحكم في عملة بلد ولن يهمني بعد ذلك أمر من يضع القوانين في ذلك البلد”. وقد أرسل ماير أبناءه الخمسة إلى أهم العواصم الرأسمالية في أوروبا وهي لندن وباريس وفينا وبرلين ونابولي. وكانت المهمة الأولى لكل منهم إنشاء نظام مصرفي يكون بمنأي عن سيطرة الحكومة، وبذلك تكون النظم الاقتصادية والسياسية في هذه الدول تحت سيطرة المصرفيين ولمصلحتهم بعيداً عن سيطرة مواطنيها. وعلى هذا الأساس، تم إنشاء بنوك مركزية مملوكة ملكية خاصة في كل بلد. وأصبح نظام البنوك المركزية هذا مسيطراً على اقتصادات العالم، حيث تتمتع البنوك المركزية بسلطة إصدار النقود، وتلجأ الحكومات إلى الاقتراض من البنوك المركزية لتسديد الديون المستحقة عليها وتمويل المعاملات الحكومية. ونتيجة لذلك، فإن الاقتصاد العالمي، بما فيه القطاع الصناعي والحكومة، يعتمد على الائتمان (أو الدين) الذي يوفره القطاع المصرفي بشكل إحتكاري، تقوده شبكة من البنوك المركزية الخاصة، ويقوم على رأس هذه الشبكة بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) الذي يعتبر البنك المركزي للبنوك المركزية ومقره بازل بسويسرا.

وقد حافظ بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) على صورته في الظل لسنوات عديدة، حيث ظل يقوم بأعماله متخذاً فندقاً معزولاً مقراً له. وفي ذلك المكان تم اتخاذ قرارات لتخفيض قيمة عملات أو الدفاع عن عملات، وإتخاذ قرارات لتثبيت سعر الذهب، وتنظيم الأنشطة المصرفية فيما وراء البحار(offshore banking)، ورفع أو خفض أسعار الفائدة قصيرة الأجل. وفي عام 1977، تخلى بنك التسويات الدولية عن أسلوب التستر في ممارسة أنشطته ليتحول إلى إدارة هذه الأنشطة من خلال مراكز أكثر كفاءة. ويشغل بنك التسويات الدولية حالياً مبنى يتكون من 18 طابقاً على شكل ناطحة سحاب دائرية، تشبه مفاعلاً نووياً أقيم في غير موضعه، في تلك المدينة التاريخية (بازال) التي تنتمي إلى العصور الوسطى. ويُعرف هذا المبنى الآن بأسم برج بازال (Tower of Basel). ويتمتع بنك التسويات الدولية بحصانة حكومية، ولا يدفع ضرائب، وله قوة بوليس خاصة به. وهو بالضبط كما أراده ماير روتشيلد، فوق القانون.

ويتكون بنك التسويات الدولية من 55 دولة عضو. ولكن الأعضاء (النادي) الذين يلتقون بصورة منتظمة في بازال هم أقل من ذلك بكثير. وحتى داخل هذه المجموعة بوجد تدرج في المستويات (hierarchy). وفي عام 1983 نشرت مجلة Harper’s Magazine مقالاً بعنوانRuhing the World of Money  أشار فيها الكاتب Edward Jay Epstein إلى أن الأعمال الحقيقية يجري انجازها من خلال مجموعة صغيرة (نادي ضيق inner club) يتكون من نصف دستة (ستة) من مسئولي البنوك المركزية القوية جداً الذين يدركون أنهم في قارب نقدي واحد (Same monetary boat)، وهم مسئولو البنوك المركزية في كل من ألمانيا والولايات المتحدة وسويسرا وايطاليا واليابان وانجلترا. ويشير كاتب المقال إلى أن المبدأ الأساسي الذي يميز أعضاء المجموعة الصغيرة (النادي الضيق) عن غيره من أعضاء بنك التسويات الدولية هو الاعتقاد الراسخ في أن البنوك المركزية يجب أن تتصرف باستقلالية عن حكومات بلدانها، كما يرتبط بهذا الاعتقاد اعتقاد آخر في أنه لا يجب أن توضع ثقة في السياسيين ليحددوا مصير النظام النقدي الدولي.

وفي عام 1974 تم إنشاء لجنة بازال للرقابة المصرفية The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision) من جانب محافظي البنوك المركزية في الدول العشرة الكبرى (G10)والتي أصبحت الآن (G20). ويتولى بنك التسويات الدولية أمر تعيين الاثني عشر عضوا الذين يمثلون سكرتارية لجنة بازال للرقابة المصرفية. وتقوم هذه اللجنة بوضع القواعد المنظمة للأنشطة المصرفية على المستوى العالمي، ومن بينها ضوابط الاحتياطيات ومتطلبات رأس المال.

وفي عام 2003 كتب Joan Veon مقالاً بعنوان بنك التسويات الدولية يدعو إلى إنشاء عملة عالمية، وأشار في مقاله إلى أن بنك التسويات الدولية يمثل كياناً يلتقي من خلاله كل البنوك المركزية في العالم لتحليل الاقتصاد العالمي وتحديد مسارات العمل التي يمكن لهم من خلالها تكديس المزيد من الأموال في جيوبهم، حيث أنهم يتحكمون في كمية النقد المتداول ومستوى الفائدة التي تتحملها الحكومات والبنوك التي تلجأ إليها هذه الحكومات للاقتراض.

وعندما نكتشف أن بنك التسويات الدولية يمسك بخيوط النظام النقدي العالمي، ندرك أنه يقدر على خلق حالة من الازدهار المالي أو الأزمة في بلد معين، عندما لا ينفذ ذلك البلد ما يريده المقرضون، فيعمدون إلى بيع عملة ذلك البلد.

وقد تجلت سطوة بنك التسويات الدولية في رفع أو ضرب اقتصادات الدول بمناسبة مقررات لجنة بازل التي أصدرها البنك في عام 1988 بشأن رفع نسبة متطلبات رأس مال البنوك من 6% إلى 8% أو ما يعرف بمعدلات كفاية رأس المال. حيث كانت اليابان في ذلك الوقت أكبر دولة دائنة على مستوى العالم، وفي ذات الوقت كانت معدلات كفاية رأس المال للبنوك اليابانية أقل من مثيلاتها لدى البنوك في غيرها من الدول. وقد أدى تنفيذ البنوك اليابانية لمقررات لجنة بازال إلى رفع متطلبات رأس المال وخفض مستويات الإقراض لديها، وهو ما أدى بدوره إلى خلق حالة من الكساد في اليابان تشبه حالة الكساد التي تمر بها الولايات المتحدة حالياً، حيث تراجعت أسعار العقارات وتعثر سداد القروض وتراجعت فرص الإقراض بسبب نقص الضمانات المتوافرة لتقديمها. وقد أعقب ذلك اتجاه هبوطي في الأداء الاقتصادي حتى وصلت البنوك إلى حالة الإفلاس. وقد ترتب على ذلك اتخاذ الحكومة اليابانية إجراءات لتملك حصصاً كبيرة في البنوك.

ومن ناحية أخرى، فقد ترتب على مقررات لجنة بازال حدوث أضرار لا ترتبط بصورة مباشرة بهذه المقررات، ومنها انتشار حالات الانتحار فيما بين المزارعين الهنود نتيجة عجزهم عن الحصول على قروض، حيث تقتضي معايير لجنة بازل بخصوص كفاية رأس المال أن تكون القروض المقدمة للمقترضين من القطاع الخاص مرجحة بالمخاطر (risk weighted) على أساس درجة المخاطر التي تحددها وكالات تصنيف خاصة. ونظراً لعدم قدرة المزارعين وأصحاب الأعمال الصغيرة على دفع مصاريف خدمات تقييم المخاطر من جانب هذه الوكالات، فقد رفعت البنوك درجة المخاطر إلى 100% عند ترجيح أوزان المخاطر للقروض المقدمة لهؤلاء المزارعين وأصحاب الأعمال الصغيرة، ومن ثم قاومت البنوك تقديم القروض إلى هذه الفئة من المقترضين بإعتبارها فئة عالية المخاطر. وعندما صحا ضمير الأمة نتيجة لتزايد حالات الانتحار، وإدراكاً من الحكومة لأوضاع المزارعين وأصحاب الأعمال الصغيرة الذين تجاهلتهم البنوك التجارية، فقد اتبعت الحكومة سياسة لإنهاء حالات الإقصاء المالي للضعفاء. ومع ذلك تبقى هذه السياسة محدودة الأثر نتيجة القيود التي يفرضها بنك التسويات الدولية من الخارج.

وقد قام هنري ليو بتحليل تأثيرات مقررات لجنة بازل في توجيه النظم المصرفية الوطنية لتضبط إيقاعها مع الأسس التي تضمنتها هذه المقررات، والتي صُممت لتلبي متطلبات أسواق المال العالمية التي تتسم بدرجة عالية من التطور، وذلك بصرف النظر عن الاحتياجات التنموية للاقتصادات الوطنية. وفي هذا الخصوص، يشير هنرى ليو إلى أن النظم المصرفية الوطنية فد وجدت نفسها فجأة بين فكي رحى مقررات لجنة بازال بشأن كفاية رأس المال التي تبناها بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS). فإما الإنصياع لهذه المقررات أو مواجهة المخاطر المترتبة على الاقتراض بمعدلات فائدة مرتفعة نتيجة للاقتراض غير المضمون من الأسواق المصرفية العالمية. وهكذا تصبح السياسات الوطنية مطية للمؤسسات المالية الخاصة وحوافز الربح لديها. والحال هكذا، يصبح كل المسئولين في مختلف المستويات خاضعين وموجهين من المراكز النقدية المصرفية في نيويورك، وتكون النتيجة هي إجبار النظم المصرفية الوطنية على الخصخصة.

وتجدر الإشارة إلى أن القواعد التي يضعها بنك التسويات الدولية هي فقط من أجل تقوية النظام المصرفي الخاص على المستوى العالمي، وحتى لو كان ذلك على حساب الاقتصادات الوطنية. وفي هذا الإطار يعمل كل من صندوق النقد الدولي والبنوك العالمية كفريق واحد، حيث تقوم البنوك العالمية بتقديم القروض إلى المقترضين في الأسواق الناشئة غير عابئة بما ينجم عن ذلك من أزمات الديون بالعملة الأجنبية، وعندئذ يأتي دور صندوق النقد الدولي (حامل الفيروس النقدي) ليوصي هذه الاقتصادات بإتباع سياسات نقدية سليمة، ويتبع ذلك انقضاض البنوك العالمية كالجوارح المفترسة للاستثمار في تلك الاقتصادات في إطار ما يسمى بالإنقاذ المالي، حيث يتم الاستحواز على البنوك الوطنية التي تم تصنيفها من قبل بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) بإعتبارها متعثرة ولا تلبي معايير كفاية رأس المال.

ومما يثير السخرية، على حد قول هنري ليو، فإن الدول النامية بما يتوافر لديها من موارد طبيعية لا تحتاج فعلياً إلى الاستثمار الأجنبي الذي أوقعهم في مصيدة الدين الخارجي. وإذا طبقنا نظرية الدولة في النقود (The State theory of Money) والتي تقوم على افتراض أن الأمة ذات السيادة تكون لها السلطة لإصدار النقد، فإن أي حكومة تستطيع أن تمول بعملتها كل الاحتياجات التنموية المحلية لتحافظ عل مستوى التشغيل الكامل دون ارتفاع معدل التضخم. وعندما تقع الحكومات في فخ القبول بالاقتراض بالعملات الأجنبية، تصبح عندئذ “دول مدينة” يحق لصندوق النقد الدولي (IMF) وبنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) أن يطبق على هذه الدول قواعدهما. وبموجب هذه القواعد تلتزم هذه الدول بتوجيه الإنتاج للتصدير حتى توفر النقد الأجنبي اللازم للوفاء بالالتزامات المترتبة على الدين الخارجي. وحيث أن البنوك الوطنية في هذه الدول قد اعُتبرت غير مستوفية لمعايير كفاية رأس المال فينبغي عليها أن تخضع لقيود أشبه بالشروط التي يفرضها صندوق النقد الدول على الدول المدينة.

ومن أبرز القيود التي تُفرض على البنوك الوطنية في الدول المدينة، رفع متطلبات رأس المال، وشطب الديون، والتصفية وإعادة الهيكلة من خلال إجراء تخفيضات سعرية أو الإغلاق أو تقليل الحجم أو تخفيض التكلفة أو تجميد الإنفاق الرأسمالي. وفي هذا الخصوص، أكد هنري ليو على أنه وعلى عكس المنطق الذي يقتضي أن يؤدي النظام المصرفي السليم إلى التشغيل الكامل والنمو المقترن بالتنمية، فإن الالتزام بقواعد بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) يؤدي إلى ارتفاع مستوى البطالة وتراجع مستويات التنمية في الاقتصادات النامية كجزاء عادل للحفاظ على نظام مصرفي سليم على المستوى العالمي.

هذا، وفي ذات الوقت الذي تُعاقب فيه البنوك الوطنية في الدول النامية بسبب عدم استيفاء متطلبات رأس المال التي وضعها بنك التسويات الدولية، فقد نجحت البنوك العالمية الكبرى في تجاوز هذه القواعد، وذلك على الرغم مما تتعرض له هذه البنوك من مخاطر هائلة بسبب الانكشاف الناتج عن المراكز المدينة للمشتقات المالية. وقد استطاعت البنوك العملاقة (The Megabanks) أن تجد مخرجاً تستطيع من خلاله أن تتحمل تكلفة أدنى لرؤوس الأموال من خلال الأنشطة التي لا تعكسها ميزانيات هذه البنوك (off-balance sheet activities)، حيث تستطيع هذه البنوك أن تحصل على قروض لا تنعكس كالتزامات ضمن ميزانياتها، وذلك عن طريق إدماج هذه القروض في أوراق مالية لبيعها بخصم معين إلى مستثمرين، وذلك بعد فصل المخاطر المرتبطة بالتعثر عن سداد هذه القروض وبيعها أيضاً بخصم معين إل مستثمرين آخرين، وذلك من خلال أداة من أدوات المشتقات المالية يطلق عليها (Credit default Swaps) أو عقود التبادل لسد العجز في المراكز الدائنة.

وينبغي التنويه بأن البنوك الأمريكية لا يمكن لها أن تتفادى الالتزام بقواعد بنك التسويات الدولية بصورة تامة. فقد أدت الشكاوي بشأن وجود ثغرات فيما يتعلق بمقررات بازل إلى الإسراع يوضع مجموعة جديدة من القواعد التي أطلق عليها بازالII (Basel II)، والتي تضمنت وضع أساس لمتطلبات رأس المال لمواجهة مخاطر السوق وفقاً للمعيار المحاسبي “القيمة المحملة بالمخاطر” (Value at risk). وقد تم التوصل إلى القواعد الجديدة في عام 2007، ولكنها لم تُفرض على البنوك الأمريكية حتى نوفمبر 2007، وهو الشهر التالي لوصول مؤشر داو جونز للأسهم الأمريكية إلى أعلى مستوى له في تاريخه، حيث تجاوز 14000 نقطة. وفي أول نوفمبر 2007، وافق مكتب الرقابة على العملة ( (The office of the Controller of the Currencyعلى تنفيذ مقررات بازال (II)، بعد إدخال التعديلات النهائية عليها في 15 نوفمبر 2007، وذلك ضمن حزمة معايير المحاسبة المالية (157 معيار) التي تبناها مجلس معايير المحاسبة المالية (FASB). وكان تأثير تطبيق هذه المعايير على البنوك الأمريكية مشابها لتأثير تطبيق معايير بازل على البنوك اليابانية، حيث دخلت البنوك الأمريكية في مرحلة الصراع من أجل البقاء منذ ذلك التاريخ.

وبموجب قاعدة التقييم على أساس السوق (The mark to market rule) فإن البنوك تكون مطالبة بتعديل قيمة الأدوات المالية المتداولة لتعكس سعر السوق (market price) لتلك الأدوات. وعلى الرغم من المزايا النظرية لتطبيق مثل هذه القاعدة، فإن المشكلة تكمن في توقيت هذا التطبيق، حيث تم تطبيقها بعد فوات الأوان (ex post Facto)، وانعكست بالتالي القيمة السوقية المتدنية للأصول على قيمتها في سجلات البنوك. وبموجب هذه الأوضاع، تحول المقرضون اللذين كانوا يعتبرون أنفسهم ذا ملائة رأسمالية جيدة إلى معسرين. وفي هذا الخصوص، كتب المحلل المالي جون بيرلو في أكتوبر 2008 مشيرا إلى الأزمة المالية التي وصفوا انتشارها بإعتباره “عدوى الأنفلونزا الأمريكية” حيث أرجع انتشار العدوى إلى القواعد الدولية لمقررات بازل (Basel II). وقد تم تطبيق نفس القواعد من جانب الاتحاد الأوروبي، وأدت إلى تسارع الأزمة المالية أيضاً.

وغالباً ما يُطلق على الأزمة فشل السوق ((market failure. ويبدو مصطلح “التقييم على  أساس السوق (mark to market) معززاً لهذا التعريف. ويخلص جون بيرلو إلى أن قاعدة “التقييم على أساس السوق” هي ضد السوق وتعوق أداء السوق لوظائفه وخصوصاً في مجال تحديد الأسعار، حيث يؤدي تطبيق هذه القاعدة المحاسبية إلى اضطرار بعض الأطراف إلى التخلي عن أصل من الأصول في الوقت الذي لا يكون فيه أداء السوق مواتياً.

وقد أدى فرض تطبيق قاعدة التقييم على أساس السوق (mark to market rule) على البنوك الأمريكية إلى تجميد قدرة هذه البنوك على تقديم الائتمان، وقد أدى ذلك بدوره إلى تراجع أداء الاقتصاد الأمريكي وغيره من اقتصادات الدول على المستوى العالمي. وفي إبريل 2009، بدأ مجلس معايير المحاسبة المالية (FASB) في تخفيف القيود المتعلقة بتطبيق قاعدة “تقييم الأصول على أساس سعر السوق (market to maker rule)، وذلك بفضل الضغوط التي مارسها بعض السياسيين ورجال المصارف، إلا أن هذه التغييرات لم تمس جوهر القواعد المحاسبية التي وضعها بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) ومجلس معايير المحاسبة المالية (FASB). وفي هذا الصدد، يشير جون بيرلو إلى أن بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) كانت قد وجهت إليه تحذيرات منذ عام 2001 بشأن مقررات بازل II (Basel II)، وخصوصاً فيما يتعلق بالتأثيرات الانكماشية لتطبيق هذه المقررات، حيث يؤدي تطبيقها خلال فترات تراجع أداء النشاط الاقتصادي إلى جعل الأمور أكثر سوءاً.

وفي تعليق رسمي من جانب بعض الاقتصاديين على مقررات لجنة بازل II بخصوص الرقابة المصرفية، أشاروا إلى أن مبدأ القيمة المرجحة بالمخاطر (Value at Risk) بمكن أن يزعزع استقرار الاقتصاد ويحدث انهيارات كان يمكن تجنبها إذا لم تطبق تلك المقررات. ويشير جون دانلسون إلى أن مقررات لجنة بازل II من شأنها مجتمعة أن تعزز من دور العوامل الدافعة لحدوث الأزمات الدورية وزيادة درجة انكشاف النظم المالية أمام تلك الأزمات. وقد دعا هؤلاء الاقتصاديين إلى التصدي للآثار السلبية لتطبيق مقررات لجنة بازال II، وإعادة النظر فيها قبل فوات الأوان. ولم يستجب بنك التسويات الدولية (BIS) لهذه المطالبات، بل أنه في ظل الخراب الواسع الذي نتج عن تطبيق القواعد التي وضعها بنك التسويات الدولية، وما أشار إليه بوضوح أصحاب نظرية المؤامرة، يبرز التساؤل: لماذا يقف بنك التسويات الدولية متفرجاً وهو يرى الاقتصاد العالمي ينهار أم أن الهدف هو إحداث هذا الخراب الاقتصادي الكبير ليدفع العالم للارتماء بلا مقاومة بين زراعي المنقذ الاقتصادي بعملته العالمية التي تستند إلى القواعد الخاصة التي أرساها.

إعداد

سامي عزيز جرجس

14 أبريل 2011

ش.س

Nuclear weapons in Japan? Not now

April 15th, 2011 by Selig S. Harrison

Global Research Editor’s Note.

Below is the opinion article published in USA Today by a distinguished analyst of US foreign policy. The relationship between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons is crucial to an understanding the broader the nuclear issue and the threat of radiation. 

There are indications, in this regard, that Japan has a nuclear weapons program which is functionally related to Japan’s nuclear energy facilities. For further details see the article by Yoichi Shimatsu


Secret Weapons Program Inside Fukushima Nuclear Plant?
U.S.-Japan security treaty fatally delayed nuclear workers’ fight against meltdown
- by Yoichi Shimatsu – 2011-04-12

The specter of self-destruction can be ended only with the abrogation of the U.S.-Japan security treaty, the root cause of the secrecy that fatally delayed the nuclear workers’ fight against meltdown.
Michel Chossudovsky, April 15, 2011

Japan was one of the last countries to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970, and finally ratified it six years later only after the United States promised not to interfere with Tokyo’s pursuit of independent reprocessing capabilities in its civilian nuclear-power program.

When the U.S. first circulated drafts of the projected treaty in early 1966, Vice Foreign Minister Takeso Shimoda told a news conference that “Japan cannot agree to such a big power-centered approach, implying as it does that the nuclear powers would not be required to reduce their capabilities or stockpile, while the non-nuclear powers would be barred in this treaty from having nuclear weapons.”

Lifting limits on nuclear

Shimoda’s comments reflected the widespread sentiment in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that Japan should not foreclose its nuclear option, and that it was time for the Japanese public to get over the trauma of Hiroshima.

Japan did finally ratify the treaty in 1976 after protracted negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.S. The IAEA accepted a safeguards agreement that limited its inspection to “strategic points” in the nuclear fuel cycle.

Equally important, the Nixon and Ford administrations gave assurances that the U.S. would not interfere with Japan’s acquisition of plutonium and its development of an autonomous fuel cycle. Under the 1968 Japan-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement, the U.S. provided the enriched uranium used in Japanese reactors. Japan had to get case-by-case U.S. approval in order to have the resulting spent fuel reprocessed in Europe and to build its own reprocessing facilities and breeder reactors.

As Japan had feared, once it ratified the treaty, the U.S. promptly reneged on promises not to interfere with the plutonium program. Invoking the 1978 Non-Proliferation Act, the Carter administration pushed Japan to abandon its plans for an autonomous nuclear program and to rely instead solely on U.S.-supplied uranium to operate its reactors.

U.S. constraints

As Japanese Ambassador Ryukichi Imai has recalled, “It was a bitter irony for us that American officials were telling us not to produce plutonium at the very time that the U.S. was optimizing its nuclear weapons.”

Japan successfully resisted American pressures during the Carter period. Then President Reagan went even further than Nixon and Ford to accommodate Japanese wishes, agreeing in 1987 to a revised nuclear accord that gave blanket American approval in advance for Japan to reprocess U.S.-origin spent fuel during the ensuing 30 years.

This accord comes up for renewal six years from now, time enough for the United States and Japan to reassess how to make Japan’s reactors safer, whether so much dependence on nuclear energy should continue to govern Japanese policy, and whether the U.S. should continue to encourage such heavy dependence given the lessons of the present tragedy.

Selig S. Harrison is director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy.

‘West using depleted uranium in Libya’

April 15th, 2011 by Global Research

Depleted uranium weapons (file photo)
Western coalition forces have been using depleted uranium in their airstrikes on crisis-hit Libya, says an expert, despite the forces’ denial of using the highly-poisonous metal.

Conn Hallinan, a columnist with Foreign Policy in Focus, told Russia Today news network on Wednesday that after examining the impact wounds left on tanks in Libya, he is almost certain that depleted uranium is being utilized.

“Politically, it’s a bad idea. Medically, it’s an extremely bad idea. It’s just one of those things that’s an effective weapon that you have to step away from,” he went on to say.

He added that given the amount of depleted uranium in the hands of Washington, the US military is going to only further saturate foreign battlefields with the toxic metal for years to come.

Depleted uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years and has thus earned the title “The silent killer that will never stop killing” in troubled Libya.

Shells, bombs and cruise missiles tipped with depleted uranium and tungsten easily pierce through heavy armor and fortifications.

Air, water and soil are also contaminated when such weapons are used.

Dr. Doug Rokke, the ex-director of the Pentagon’s Depleted Uranium Project, says there is no way to totally decontaminate an area hit with uranium.

Serious long-term health problems caused by the use of depleted uranium in bombs can range from cancer to leukemia and genetic mutations.

The United Nations has prohibited the manufacture, testing, use, sale and stockpiling of depleted uranium weapons.

The US dropped thousands of depleted uranium bombs on the Iraq city of Fallujah in 2003, which killed thousands of people.

A great proportion of all births in Fallujah since the strike have suffered from abnormalities and the rate of mutation among newborns is higher than what was found in Japan after America attacked the Asian country during the Second World War.

US, British, French, Canadian, Danish and Belgian warplanes have launched strikes on Libya since March 19 under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 that authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

This is while Libya continues to be struck with the conflict between revolutionaries and forces loyal to the North African country’s embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi.

AFP says that Gaddafi’s forces have killed at least 10,000 people during the ongoing fighting; and Libya’s National Transition Council said Tuesday that another 30,000 were wounded and 20,000 more are still missing.

NEW YORK, April 7, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Confounding lawyers and legal scholars all over the world, Judge John Walker, first cousin of former President George W. Bush, was one of three judges of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to hear argument Tuesday in Gallop v. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Myers.

The lawsuit was brought by a soldier injured during the attack on the Pentagon and accuses former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, of conspiring to facilitate the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

The attacks killed 3000 Americans, plus many who have died from the toxic clean-up conditions at Ground Zero.

Attorney William Veale, acting for April Gallop, learned of the assignment the usual 5 days before the argument, and filed a motion to disqualify Judge Walker.

There was no prior decision regarding the motion, and when Veale asked about it in court the motion was denied by Judge Winter. Veale then requested a continuance to seek appellate review of the court’s ruling but that was denied as well.

Argument followed but Walker, and fellow judges Cabranes and Winter diverted attention to whether Veale, former Chief Assistant Public Defender, and lecturer in Criminal Trial Practice at the University of California, Boalt Hall, was properly licensed to practice before the court.

The Tuesday appeal followed a ruling by then District Court Judge Denny Chin, dismissing Ms. Gallop’s lawsuit with prejudice, writing that the allegations are “implausible” and the product of “cynical delusion and fantasy.” The judges were apparently unaware of growing world doubts about the official story of 9/11, including a recent poll by Germany’s prestigious Emnid Institute, reporting 89.5% of Germans in doubt.

Gallop’s appeal brief stated that Judge Chin’s summary misrepresented important allegations in the case, and failed to consider virtually half of the factual assertions contained in the Complaint. Chin also failed to mention the words, actions, and locations of the three defendants at the time of the crime.

Veale, amidst frequent interruptions from the three judges, managed to point out Cheney’s direct involvement in tracking and dealing with the airplane that was heading for the Pentagon, as reported to the 9/11 Commission by then Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, a winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Judge Cabranes gave no sign of being familiar with the allegations in the Complaint concerning conflicts about the flight path of AA 77 (which allegedly hit the Pentagon) between the National Transportation Safety Board and the 9/11 Commission.

Nor did he show any sign of being aware of the scrubbing of the radar tracks in the area at the time of the attacks, nor of the counter-intuitive strategy of the suicidal hijacker who chose not to kill 20,000 occupants of the Pentagon, including Secretary Rumsfeld, by flying into the roof of the Pentagon.

Instead this novice pilot allegedly executed a spiraling descent, beyond the capacity of the plane and certainly the capability of the pilot, to accomplish an incredible horizontal ground level entry into a sparsely occupied and recently reinforced section of the building, causing 125 deaths.

Veale asked what offense to justice could come from allowing the case to go forward, when the possibility of sanctions awaits purveyors of frivolous accusations. Gallop’s lawyer’s final lament acknowledged the existence of evil in the world, its attraction to power and its disregard for citizenship, but Walker interrupted that sentence before it could be completed as well.

Media contact: William Veale, [email protected]