Gorbachev Warns Ukraine could Ignite World War III

January 31st, 2015 by Niles Williamson

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union, accused the United States Thursday of initiating a new Cold War with Russia and expressed fears that the conflict could escalate into a nuclear Third World War.

Gorbachev made his comments as fighting escalated in Ukraine between forces directed by the US- and European Union-backed government in Kiev and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region.

“Plainly speaking, the US has already dragged us into a new Cold War, trying to openly implement its idea of triumphalism,” the former Soviet leader told Interfax. “What’s next? Unfortunately, I cannot be sure that the Cold War will not bring about a ‘hot’ one. I’m afraid [the United States] might take the risk.”

He criticized the US and the EU for continuing to press for more economic sanctions against Russia. “All we hear from the US and the EU now is sanctions against Russia,” he continued. “Are they completely out of their minds? The US has been totally ‘lost in the jungle’ and is dragging us there as well.”

Earlier this month, Gorbachev gave an interview to the German news magazine Der Spiegel about the ongoing conflict between the US, EU and Russia over Ukraine. While he stated that it was “something that shouldn’t even be considered,” Gorbachev warned that a major war in Europe would “inevitably lead to a nuclear war.” He added, “If one side loses its nerves in this inflamed atmosphere, then we won’t survive the coming years.”

In the same interview, Gorbachev lamented these developments as the outcome of Washington’s construction of a “mega empire” in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev, as the initiator in the late 1980s of the process of capitalist restoration, in the form of the policies of “perestroika” and “glasnost,” bears a huge degree of responsibility for the current crisis in Ukraine and the expansion of NATO. At the time, he argued that the relentless drive of imperialism toward war had been replaced by the pursuit of universal “human values.”

The decision of the ruling Stalinist bureaucracy to preserve its own interests by liquidating the Soviet Union and restoring capitalism allowed NATO to expand its reach to Russia’s Western border.

Gorbachev was not alone in warning of the dangers involved in the Ukraine conflict. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who has been involved in countless crimes of US imperialism, spoke Thursday before the US Senate Armed Services Committee, declaring himself “uneasy about beginning a process of military engagement [in Ukraine] without knowing where it will lead us and what we’ll do to sustain it.”

The 91-year-old Kissinger added: “I believe we should avoid taking incremental steps before we know how far we are willing to go. This is a territory 300 miles from Moscow, and therefore has special security implications.”

The ongoing imperialist operations in Ukraine, from last year’s US- and EU-backed fascist-spearheaded coup to the ongoing fighting in the Donbass, as well as the current sanctions regime against Russia, are aimed at asserting US hegemony over all of the former Soviet Union and ultimately breaking the Russian Federation itself into a series of semi-colonies, opening the way for the plunder of its vast natural resources.

While there had been signs in recent weeks of a desire on the part of some EU states, in particular France and Italy, to begin rebuilding diplomatic relations with Russia, a deadly rocket attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol last weekend brought the EU members back into line behind the sanctions regime.

An emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers on Thursday decided to extend travel bans and bank account freezes against 132 Russian citizens and 28 organizations until September of this year. The foreign ministers will meet again on February 12 to discuss escalating the current tranche of economic sanctions against Russia.

Speaking after the meeting, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stated menacingly, “If there is an offensive towards Mariupol or other regions, one will need to respond with clear and harsher measures.”

In the wake of the EU foreign ministers meeting, Donetsk was subjected to a new round of artillery shelling. At least five civilians were reported killed when mortars struck a crowd of several hundred people waiting outside a community center for the distribution of relief aid.

Another two civilians were reported killed after a mortar shell landed near a bus stop. Artillery shelling throughout the day on Friday in western Donetsk killed at least five more civilians.

The pro-Russian separatists continued their assault on a key railway hub between Donetsk and Luhansk, taking control of the village of Vuhlehirsk, just west of a city, Debaltseve, where at least 8,000 Ukrainian forces are currently entrenched. While the city’s civilian population of 25,000 has for the most part been evacuated, at least seven civilians were reported killed by shelling on Friday.

Semen Semenchenko, founder of the Ukrainian nationalist Donbas Battalion militia, which has been integrated into the National Guard of Ukraine, reported that Kiev-backed forces in Debaltseve had been fired upon by artillery shells, mortars and grad rockets.

Ceasefire talks hosted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that were set to resume on Friday failed to even get off the ground. Vladislav Deinego and Denis Pushilin, representatives of the pro-Russian separatists, announced they were leaving Minsk for Moscow after Kiev’s representative, former president Leonid Kuchma, failed to show.

The Ukrainian government and its backers in the US and the EU have shown little desire to reach a compromise with the rebels. Speaking in the UN Security Council last week, US Ambassador Samantha Power dismissed the latest Russian peace plan as an “occupation plan.”

On Friday, in a desperate attempt to stimulate its economy and avoid a devastating recession, the Russian central bank made a surprise announcement that it was cutting its key interest rate by two percentage points, to 15 percent. This decision came little more than a month after it raised the same interest rate by 6.5 percentage points, to 17 percent, in an attempt to stem the decline of the ruble, which has lost more than 17 percent of its value since the beginning of the year.

The sudden move by the Bank of Russia is an indication that the sanctions regime, combined with the collapse of oil prices, is contributing to a mounting political and economic crisis within Russia. According to preliminary reports from Russia’s Statistics Services, the country’s economy grew by a mere 0.6 percent in 2014. Citigroup projects that, if the average price of Brent crude oil remains deflated, Russia’s economy will contract by 3 percent in 2015.

The US helped Mossad assassinate a top Hezbollah figure in Syria in 2008 by lending bomb expertise and surveillance on the ground, Washington Post reported. The joint operation marked CIA’s post-9/11 drift toward modern-day drone killings.

The death of Imad Mughniyah on February 2008 was initially pinned on the Israelis. Hezbollah’s international operations chief, he was suspected of having a hand in many terrorist attacks, including the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy and the 1994 attack on a Jewish community center, both in Argentina.

The suspicion that the CIA may have been involved in the assassination arose on several occasions. But now the newspaper Washington Post reports that this indeed was the case, citing five former US intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The US was instrumental in killing Mughniyah, who was among other things suspected of planning the 1983 bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut, the newspaper said. The CIA provided the bomb, which was planted in a spare tire on the Hezbollah official’s car. An American spotter team in Damascus tracked him down and gave a signal to Mossad agents in Tel Aviv that they could remotely trigger the explosive device.

“The way it was set up, the US could object and call it off, but it could not execute,” a former US official told the Post.

The bomb itself was reportedly built by Americans after a series of testing at a CIA facility in North Carolina. The charge was shaped to ensure that no collateral damage would happen – a pledge that the agency allegedly made to US lawmakers during a secret briefing in the lead-up to the operation.

“We probably blew up 25 bombs to make sure we got it right,” the former official said.

FILE PHOTO: A bulldozer demolishes the bombed out building of the American embassy in Beirut. (Reuters)FILE PHOTO: A bulldozer demolishes the bombed out building of the American embassy in Beirut. (Reuters)

The newspaper calls the killing of Mughniyah the most high-risk action by US intelligence in recent years, after the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. It also marked a significant shift in how America targeted its enemies triggered by the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Bush administration secured approval from the attorney general, the director of national intelligence, the national security adviser and the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department to carry out the operation, one former official said. Getting them to sign off on it required a legal justification, which was that Mughniyah “was a continuing threat to Americans” due to his organizing of attacks against American troops by Iraqi militias.

“The decision was we had to have absolute confirmation that it was self-defense,” the official told The Post.

The assertion apparently was enough to override a Reagan-era prohibition on US intelligence agencies carrying out assassinations established by Executive Order 12333 and to team up with the Israelis to kill Mughniyah in the Syrian capital, far from any battlefield. The same reasoning was later used by Bush and Obama administrations to deliver hundreds of drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen and even kill American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without a trial in 2011.

A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by US drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa, November 13, 2014. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by US drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa, November 13, 2014. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

The Post says that the US determination to kill Mughniyah was voiced to Israelis as early as in 2002. At a secret meeting with the chief of Israeli military intelligence service senior officials from US military’s elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) suggested to discuss such an operation.

“When we said we would be willing to explore opportunities to target him, they practically fell out of their chairs,” a former US official described the reaction of the Israelis to the suggestion.

JSOC envisioned a commando raid rather than a clandestine bombing attack and wanted Israeli support for evacuation.

Eventually the mission to kill Mughniyah became a long term CIA-Mossad effort with at least a year spent on studying the target’s habits to establish a plan for the attack. At one moment the team reportedly had a chance to kill both him and Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, when they met in Damascus, but the Bush administration didn’t give the agents the authority to kill the Iranian.

After the news of Mughniyah’s death broke, the US hailed it.

“The world is a better place without this man in it. He was a coldblooded killer, a mass murderer and a terrorist responsible for countless innocent lives lost,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said at the time.

Let’s have some fun today!  For a change of pace I thought it a good idea to think way outside of the box and write about something that isn’t possible and wouldn’t really matter even if it was true.  

Recently a question was posed to me by a reader, a really crazy question!  He asked regarding the fact there has been no audit of U.S. gold since 1955, “what if the reason they refuse to audit the gold is because we have much MUCH more and they don’t want anyone to know?”.  At first I just laughed and responded with a flippant answer, but then it dawned on me, would it even matter?  Let’s break this down in several pieces and then make further assumptions to see if it would really matter.

First, the U.S. claims to have 8,400 tons of gold.  For simplicity let’s call this amount rounded as one third of a trillion dollars or $350 billion.  Let’s assume the vaults are actually bursting and have 3 times the amount of gold claimed.  This would mean there is a nice round number of $1 trillion worth of gold sitting in the vaults.  Would this amount “matter”?  Would really and truly having “$1 trillion” mean or change anything?

Think about where we have come from and what has been done over the last 6 years to keep life as we know it going.  The Fed has increased their balance sheet by well over $3 trillion while the Treasury has borrowed some $8 trillion more.  You might also remember the Fed “secretly lent out” some $16 trillion all over the world and mainly to foreign entities.   This was discovered in 2011 I believe, it was a shocker at the time but “oh well”, it means nothing now.  My point being, in just the last 6 years, the Fed and Treasury have printed and borrowed over $10 trillion, so no, $1 trillion in the vault is no big deal.

But wait, “this is gold and not dollars” you say?  Well yes, it is gold and we do know it can be pegged in price.  If it is pegged too low, demand will outstrip supply and if too high then supply will come in to the bidders.  Yes, there is a huge difference between sitting on $1 trillion worth of dollar bills and $1 trillion worth of gold, we can touch on this shortly but first let’s do a little more math.  We have had several individual years where our fiscal deficit was over $1 trillion, so our 25,000 tons of gold would have already evaporated many times over.  Let’s make another assumption that the rocket scientists in Washington D.C. decide to pull a “Roosevelt moment” and mark up the price of gold (since they have so much).

Let’s assume it is decided to mark gold up to $10,000 per ounce, what would this do?  The flat out answer is “very little and certainly not enough”.  Even if we truly did have three times the amount of gold we claim to have AND marked up the price nine or ten fold to $10,000, we still only cover the lunacy of the last six years!  If we look at the big picture of Treasury debt and the Fed’s balance sheet combined, we are only halfway there.  Looking at the entire picture which includes all debt and future obligations, the number is a staggering $200 trillion.  This humongous stash of 25,000 tons of gold, priced at $10,000 per ounce is only equal to 5% of total current and future obligations!

Do you see what we just did here?  This was a backdoor way of displaying how ridiculously cheap gold is currently compared to all of the debt that’s been underwritten.  Yes I know, there will be those who say “Holter, you are an idiot.  It doesn’t matter what the price of gold is because it’s not money anymore”.  Really?  (not the idiot part, the “money part”).  Gold IS money.  Yes, our government says it is not and does not want you to believe it is money …does that change the fact?  Let me point something out to you, China believes gold is money, many other nations believe gold is money, can the U.S. “legislate” to foreigners?  Foreigners are already “voting” their beliefs and pocketbooks by purchasing all the gold the world produces and quite a bit more.

To wrap this part up, let me just say that no, pigs do not fly unless they are in an airplane and no, the U.S. does not have more gold than we claim to have.

 Common sense tells you the gold supply and demand deficit has had to have been supplied from somewhere.  This “somewhere” is obviously where the gold had been stored.

ONLY the West, led by the U.S. had massive hoards of gold large enough to supply 1,000′s of tons of annual supply deficits.

ONLY the West, led by the U.S. has had a motive to supply these deficits to support the value of the dollar and to depress the price of gold.  Yet, all we hear from the U.S. when the topic of either the Fed or our depositories being audited are three things, either crickets, an audit is too expensive or “trust us”.  As for the “too expensive” part, I think we can equate this to last year’s 5 tons of German gold… they didn’t get more because of transportation logistics.  How funny!

 

The Express Tribune, an affiliate of the New York Times, recently reported in an article titled, “Startling revelations: IS operative confesses to getting funds via US,” that another “coincidence” appears to be contributing to the so-called “Islamic State’s” (ISIS) resilience and vast resources. A recent investigation being conducted by Pakistani security forces involving a captured ISIS fighter has revealed that he and many fighters alongside him, received funds that were routed through the US.

“During the investigations, Yousaf al Salafi revealed that he was getting funding – routed through America – to run the organisation in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria,” a source privy to the investigations revealed to Daily Express on the condition of anonymity.

Al Salafi is a Pakistani-Syrian, who entered Pakistan through Turkey five months ago. Earlier, it was reported that he crossed into Turkey from Syria and was caught there. However, he managed to escape from Turkey and reached Pakistan to establish IS in the region.

The Tribune would also reveal that the findings of the investigations were being shared with the United States. The source cited by the  Tribune suggested a compelling theory as to why the US has attempted to portray itself as “at war with ISIS,” stating:

“The US has been condemning the IS activities but unfortunately has not been able to stop funding of these organisations, which is being routed through the US,” a source said.

“The US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests and that is why it launched offensive against the organisation in Iraq but not in Syria,” he added.

Indeed, the story reveals several troubling aspects regarding ISIS’ operations in Syria. First, Al Salafi’s ability to effortlessly enter into Syria through NATO-member Turkey, then escape back to Pakistan, again, via Turkey once again confirms that the source of ISIS’ strength is not captured Syrian oil fields or ransoms paid in exchange for hostages, but rather from a torrent of fighters, arms, equipment, and cash flowing from NATO territory in Turkey.

Second – the US does indeed claim to be at war with “ISIS,” going as far as unilaterally bombing Syrian territory while claiming it must now train more militants not only to topple the Syrian government, but now also to fight ISIS – yet appears incapable of stopping torrents of cash flowing from its own borders into the hands of its implacable enemy. A similar conundrum presented itself amid the recent Paris killings, where France too is participating in military operations aimed at both toppling the Syrian government and allegedly fighting ISIS – yet claims to be unable to stop thousands of its own citizens from leaving its borders to join ISIS’ ranks.

The All-Selectively-Seeing Eyes of American Surveillance 

Finally, now that the US is reportedly aware that money destined for ISIS has been routed through its own borders, surely it can leverage its massive and continuously growing surveillance state to identify where the money originated from. The individuals, organization, or government that provided the funds can then suffer the same fate other “state sponsors of terrorism” have suffered at the hands of US foreign policy, including sanctions, invasion, and occupation.

However, the likelihood that the US was unaware of these routed funds – specifically because of its massive and continuously growing surveillance state – is unlikely, as is the likelihood that the US is not also fully aware of where the funds originated from. Der Spiegel in a report titled, “‘Follow the Money’: NSA Monitors Financial World,” would state (emphasis added):

In the summer of 2010, a Middle Eastern businessman wanted to transfer a large sum of money from one country in the region to another. He wanted to send at least $50,000 (€37,500), and he had a very clear idea of how it should be done. The transaction could not be conducted via the United States, and the name of his bank would have to be kept secret — those were his conditions.

Though the transfer was carried out precisely according to his instructions, it did not go unobserved. The transaction is listed in classified documents compiled by the US intelligence agency NSA that SPIEGEL has seen and that deal with the activities of the United States in the international financial sector. The documents show how comprehensively and effectively the intelligence agency can track global flows of money and store the information in a powerful database developed for this purpose.

The obstacle the US faces in stemming funds destined for ISIS centers then, not on knowing about them, but on the fact that both the US itself and its closest allies in the region surrounding Syria are directly complicit in the funding.

As exposed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” it was stated explicitly that (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. 

Thus, it is clear, that from 2007 where the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel openly conspired to stand up, fund, and arm a terrorist army to fight a proxy war against Syria and Iran, to 2015 where this army has finally manifested itself as the “Islamic State” complete with funding, arms, and fighters streaming in from NATO members, the source cited by the Tribune claiming that “the US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests,” and thus must now feign to be interested in stopping the organization in Syria, is the most compelling and logical explanation available.

It will be interesting to see if the New York Times itself picks up its affiliate’s story, or if the US State Department, reportedly aware that ISIS funds are being routed through America, makes a comment on this recent development. What is more likely, however, is that the “War on Terror” charade will continue, with the US propping up ISIS, using it both as impetus to funnel more cash and weapons into the region that will inevitably – and intentionally – end up in ISIS’ hands, or as an excuse to intervene militarily in Syria’s conflict more directly.

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

Israeli bulldozers, on Thursday, destroyed a water pipe being used in connecting the West Tubas district’s Atoof village with Khirbet Yezra, in the northern Jordan Valley.

Head of Al-Maleh local council, Aaref Daraghmeh, said that the pipe had length of 1,000 meters, and was donated by Agricultural Relief to provide the residents of Yezra with water, since the area has no water sources.

According to the PNN, Dr. Hanna Issa, professor and expert on international law, strongly condemned the action, saying that occupation authorities provide settlers with water, while depriving Palestinians of their own sources.

Settlers in the occupied West Bank reportedly get an unlimited supply of water amounting to about four times more than Palestinians’ consumption of water.

Issa added that occupation authorities consume about 80% of the mutual water wells, despite the fact that 80-95% of them are located in Palestinian areas, pointing out that this is water theft, and in contravention of international law.

Issa also stressed that Israel has continuously implemented a policy of displacing Palestinians, separating them from homes near water sources.

Israel also prevents Palestinians from digging wells without military permission, while giving privilege to all illegal settlers.

Issa reiterated that Israel was an occupying power and had no sovereignty to tamper with water sources, according to the fourth Geneva convention.

He also demanded Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian land, according to UN Resolution 242 (1967) and Resolution 338 (1973).
http://www.imemc.org/article/70412

Amnesty International: Torture and Human Rights Violations

January 31st, 2015 by Robert Barsocchini

(Additions to Amnesty excerpts are in italics or brackets. Bold emphases added.)

USA:

Torture: Amnesty International USA is partnering with human rights allies around the world for a two-year global campaign to stop torture, from Chicago to Nigeria

  • Chicago police under the direction of former Commander Jon Burge systematically tortured more than 100 people of color
  • …officers repeatedly shocked Anthony [Holmes] with an electric shock box referred to by the detectives as the “ni**er box.” They wrapped the wires around his shackles while suffocating him with a plastic bag. Anthony passed out from the pain [and later] confessed to a murder he did not commit. His confession kept him behind bars for thirty years.
  • …detectives tortured Darrell [Cannon] … They pressed a cattle prod to his testicles and put it into his mouth. …They repeatedly made him believe that they had loaded a shotgun and rammed in into his mouth, pulling the trigger which, at each click, made him think his head was about to be blown off. …Darrell falsely confessed – and spent 24 years in prison on the basis of his confession.
  • [As Obama ensures of all torture committed by the US] Neither Burge nor any of the detectives under his command have been prosecuted for torture. Not one of the torture survivors have received the reparations (financial compensation, psychological counseling, vocational training) needed to make them whole, as required by international law.
  • The Intercept noted Tuesday that Obama is voraciously persecuting whistle-blowers while protecting torturers and other international and national criminals.

Torture, prison: The USA stands virtually alone in the world in incarcerating thousands of prisoners in longterm or indefinite solitary confinement, a form of torture.

  • [The number of prisoners in some form of solitary punishment in the US is] estimated to be approximately 80,000 on any given day
  • …psychological harm … can result from isolating people even for relatively brief periods
  • The journal New Scientist finds that psychological torture is “as bad as physical torture”. 
  • The journal also points out that “US Senator John McCain, who experienced torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has said that if he were forced to make a decision between enduring psychological or physical torture, he would not hesitate to pick the latter.”
  • (Interesting side note: On roots of the USA’s unique standing in terms of its immense incarceration and prisoner isolation-torture rates, see this essay by Mark Lewis Taylor, Professor of Theology and Culture, Princeton Theological Seminary, which delves into white Christian and European ideas of isolation as a means of appeasing god.  He quotes de Tocquville’s observation that US prisons were illustrations of “complete despotism”, and notes how when African Americans were transferred out of slavery and into prisons, things became even “more abject”.)

Policing: Amnesty International condemns the excessive, unnecessary or arbitrary use of force and will not rest until all policing in the United States respects human rights.

Death Penalty: Rather than continuing a practice that has been abandoned in all but a few counties—and risking more botched executions—Oklahoma should join the national trend and end the death penalty.

  • On the occasion of one such botched execution in Oklahoma, Obama took the opportunity to dissent from virtually all of the world’s human rights organization, including Amnesty, and defend his isolated stance on the death penalty, stating “there are certain circumstances in which a crime is – is so terrible that the application of the death penalty may be appropriate”.  

Saudi Arabia:

Reforms: Noting “some positive reforms”, Amnesty reminds that “Despite the advances in recent years,the country’s human rights record has worsenedThe negatives vastly outweigh the positives.

  • Raif Badawi’s case [the blogger being lashed nearly to death] is just one example we have documented of the state’s brutality in Saudi Arabia.
  • Under King Abdullah’s reign, there has been an increasing crackdown on freedom of expression. All of the country’s prominent human rights activists have either been jailed, forced into silence, or fled the country. Hundreds have been imprisoned for “crimes” such as using social media to discuss human rights issues or for “insulting the King”.
  • Throughout his reign, hundreds of people have been beheaded and several hundreds sentenced to death. Severe discrimination against women continues in law and practice, including through an archaic driving ban and a deeply discriminating guardianship system which requires women to get the permission of a male relative to work, seek higher education and travel. Citizens and foreigners alike are banned from practicing their religions freely if they do not comply with the state’s version of Sunni Islam. Torture remains rife.
  • The list of violations doesn’t end there.

Libya:

Amnesty notes that “since February 2011″ (the civil war and US-led aggression against Libya), the country has descended into “chaos” and “spiraling war crimes … waged by rival groups and their supporters seeking vengeance”

  • The Washington Times reported yesterday on “secret tapes” that show how the Obama regime (led in this case by Hillary Clinton) fabricated the idea of an impending humanitarian crisis (Human Rights Watch dismissed the idea that such a crisis would occur), and rejected negotiations in favor of detonating explosives in Libya, an act of aggression, to bring about an illegal regime change.  Libya was one of seven countries that, according to Gen. Wesley Clarke, W. Bush had madeplans to “take out”. 
  • Washington’s Blog reported, citing the Daily Mail, that ‘The White House and senior Congressional members,’ the group wrote in an interim report released Tuesday, ‘deliberately and knowingly pursued a policy that provided material support to terrorist organizations in order to topple a ruler [Muammar Gaddafi] who had been working closely with the West actively to suppress al-Qaeda.’ 
  • “The United States … knowingly facilitat[ed] the provision of weapons to known al-Qaeda militias and figures,’ Clare Lopez … former CIA officer, told MailOnline.” (WB)

Nigeria:

New evidence shows that the Nigerian military were repeatedly warned of impending Boko Haram attacks on Baga and Monguno which claimed hundreds of lives…

  • Boko Haram warned the inhabitants of Baga and surrounding villages almost two months ago that they would be coming to attack the troops and the civilian JTF [Joint Task Force].” Sources told Amnesty International that after the Baga attack on 3 January, Boko Haram members informed locals that their “next target is Monguno,” and that these civilians informed the local military.
  • One Monguno resident told Amnesty International: “There was a warning. Everyone was aware.Boko Haram came on Wednesday last week [21 January] and asked the villagers [in nearby Ngurno] to leave because they are coming to attack the barracks. The villagers told the soldiers.”
  • As former US marine Ross Caputi and Prof. Noam Chomsky note, Boko Haram’s warning to civilians to flee from the impending attack is precisely the same courtesy the USA granted civilians in Fallujah, though the US killed 4-6,000 civilians in that town and may have caused an epidemic of birth defects and mutations, in addition to destabilizing Iraq and introducing and empowering terrorist groups throughout the wider region. 
  • Sheldon Richman notes: “Before Americans invaded Iraq, al-Qaeda was not there. Nor was it in Syria, Yemen, and Libya.”

Boko Haram was also strengthened by the US-led destruction of Libya:

  • Al Jazeera: “…heavy weapons such as SAM-7 anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles…were either surreptitiously obtained by posing as Gaddafi’s supporters or indirectly purchased from mercenaries who had acquired these arms from Libyan depositories. …these arms have been transferred to groups such as Ansar Dine, Boko Haram and MUJAO, emboldening and enabling them to mount more deadly and audacious attacks.
  • Human Rights First: “Unsecured Libyan stockpiles empower Boko Haram and destabilize African Sahel”
  • NBC News: “Apart from benefiting from sympathizers in the Nigerian military, the Islamic terror group is able to purchase small arms and occasionally some larger weaponry in nearby conflict zones, ‘probably Libya’ … The collapse of Libya has further flooded the market”
  • Reuters and United Nations: “The Libyan civil war may have given militant groups in Africa’s Sahel region like Boko Haram and al Qaeda access to large weapons caches, according to a U.N. report released on Thursday. … Boko Haram killed more than 500 people last year and more than 250 this year in Nigeria.”
  • Washington Post: “Boko Haram … militants, who traveled to northern Mali last year to join the fight there, have returned with heavy weapons from Libya, presumably from former Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s arsenal.”

Israel:

Palestinian Murad Shtewi sits in an Israeli prison. His “crime?”  Daring to protest the Israeli military occupation that his village lives under.

  • In Murad’s village of Kufr Qaddum, much of the land has been confiscated by the Israeli authorities for the purposes of building and servicing the illegal Israeli settlement block of Kedumim.
  • …an Israeli military court announced that [Shtewi] would be released from prison in February. Even so, he still won’t be truly free.  Like so many other Palestinians, Murad faces re-arrest if he chooses to participate in any future protest.

Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog.  Follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

Ukraine’s top general is contradicting allegations by the Obama Administration and by his own Ukrainian Government, by saying that no Russian troops are fighting against the Ukrainian Government’s forces in the formerly Ukrainian, but now separatist, area, where the Ukrainian civil war is being waged.

Here is a screen-print of a google-chrome auto-translation of that statement:

The Chief of Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Viktor Muzhenko, is saying, in that news-report, which is dated on Thursday January 29th, that the only Russian citizens who are fighting in the contested region, are residents in that region, or of Ukraine, and also some Russian citizens (and this does not deny that perhaps some of other countries’ citizens are fighting there, inasmuch as American mercenaries have already been noted to have been participating on the Ukrainian Government’s side), who “are members of illegal armed groups,” meaning fighters who are not paid by any government, but instead are just “individual citizens” (as opposed to foreign-government-paid ones). General Muzhenko also says, emphatically, that the “Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian army.”

In other words: He is explicitly and clearly denying the very basis for the EU’s sanctions against Russia, and for the U.S.’s sanctions against Russia: all of the sanctions against Russia are based on the falsehood that Ukraine is fighting against “the regular units of the Russian army” — i.e., against the Russian-Government-controlled-and-trained fighting forces.

The allegation to the effect that Ukraine is instead fighting against “regular units of the Russian army” is the allegation that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has invaded Ukraine, and it is the entire basis for the economic sanctions that are in force against Russia.

Those sanctions should therefore be immediately removed, with apology, and with compensation being paid to all individuals who have been suffering them; and it is therefore incumbent upon the Russian Government to pursue, through all legally available channels, restitution, plus damages, against the perpetrators of that dangerous fraud — and the news reports have already made clear precisely whom those persons are, who have asserted, as public officials, what can only be considered to be major libel.

Otherwise, Ukraine’s top general should be fired, for asserting what he has just asserted.

If what General Muzhenko says is true, then he is a hero for having risked his entire career by having gone public with this courageous statement. And, if what he says is false, then he has no place heading Ukraine’s military.

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

Google, Gag Orders and the WikiLeaks Investigation

January 31st, 2015 by Binoy Kampmark

Google’s gargantuan presence on the Internet, be it in terms of search engines, archived data and the use of email, has become a problem.  Given that it traffics in information of virtually every shade and colour, it was bound to be on the attractive hit list for law enforcement authorities. Those who use its services had to be aware that, at some point, their subscriber information would become attractive.

Google took almost over two and a half years to disclose that it has handed emails and various forms of digital data belonging to three WikiLeaks staffers to the US government.  On December 23, 2014, investigations editor Sarah Harrison, section editor Joseph Farrell, and spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson were told by the company that contents from their subscriber accounts had been handed over to US authorities.  The letter to Google, authored by Michael Ratner, counsel from the Center for Constitutional Rights representing WikiLeaks, expresses astonishment and a degree of disturbance at the fact.[1]

The warrants, outlined in the letter of January 26, are said to have covered espionage, conspiracy to commit espionage, the theft or conversion of property belonging to the United States government, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and conspiracy.

The extent of the disclosure required was staggering, “including stored or preserved copies of emails sent to and from the account; draft emails and deleted emails; all records or other information related to the identity of the account (associated phone numbers, IP addresses, types of services utilized, account status, log files, any credit or bank account numbers associated); all records or other information stored at any time using the account; any communications the person had with Google.”[2]

Julian Assange’s suspicions that Google might well have been in the FBI bed were triggered after it was revealed that orders had been made requiring Twitter to disclose material connected with WikiLeaks affiliates.  The contents of the April 19, 2011 conversation held between Assange and Google’s Eric Schmidt are disclosed in the letter.

In Assange’s words, WikiLeaks was “fighting this case now, with Twitter, we’ve done three court hearings now, trying to get the names of the other companies that fulfilled the subpoenas for the grand jury in the US. Twitter resisted and so that’s how some of us became aware.  They argued that we should be told that there was a subpoena.”  Schmidt’s response: “I can certainly pass on your specific request to our general counsel.”  The Google chief was left in no doubt that “Google argue legally that WikiLeaks as an organization should be informed… Ok, I’ll pass that along.”

Unlike Twitter, which challenged the US government over notification protocols to its subscribers in the event orders were made on the company, Google remained tardy. The technology beast was not for turning.  In the words of Ratner’s letter, “We are surprised that Google appears to have failed to act upon this request, causing notice to our clients to be delayed more than two and a half years.”  Lists on materials provided to law enforcement, or any pending legal proceedings, were not submitted.

The Twitter episode crystallised an approach that seems to have infected Google. In December 2010, Twitter received a court order for subscriber information covering five WikiLeaks staff members and supporters. The US Justice Department was sought out and pressed on the issue: those individuals concerned would be informed that their data was the subject of interest.  Prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia did not, at that point, seek a gag order on Twitter.  Disclosures were subsequently made to the supporters and staff.

It transpired that assistant US Attorney, Tracy Doherty-McCormick, turned up in the material that was subsequently published. The lid on the prosecutors had been lifted, ensuing a degree of fury and alarm.  The US Attorney’s office duly hit the roof with the ensuing publicity.  According to attorney Albert Gidari, who has represented both Twitter and Google at various stages, they even “went through” it.[3]  A precedent had thus been set: the desire to seek gag orders over warrants disclosing material connected with WikiLeaks and coming through the conduit with Google, was born.

Gidari, as is to be expected, treads softly regarding his client. Google, he claimed, has repeatedly contested the gag order on the WikiLeaks warrants.  “From January 2011 to the present, Google has continued to fight to lift the gag orders on any legal process it has received on WikiLeaks.”  Their response to WikiLeaks says nothing of the sort.

The nature of these warrants has been deemed by Alexander Abdo, privacy expert at the American Civil Liberties Union, to be “shockingly broad”.[4]  “This is basically ‘Hand over anything you’ve got on this person.’” The pressing point here, however, is how the conduct of WikiLeaks, in this case, hardly seems different from “what major newspapers do every single day in speaking to government officials and publishing still-secret information.” Editors and journalists beware – and very wary.

The gag order itself is also problematic, an aberration that stalks the First Amendment with its threatening fetters. The ACLU has argued that such orders must “be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.”[5]  But authorities keen on getting the loot can’t help themselves, and tend to fall into generalising any associated risks.

There is the other, broader picture at stake here.  Even as Schmidt attempts to remove the contents of any egg that has found its way onto his face, the Google revelations simply point to the continued interest in WikiLeaks by US authorities.  The Eastern District of Virginia continues to busy itself with the publishing outfit.  Around a dozen outstanding search warrants and court orders remain under seal, a situation attorney Ahmed Ghappour, who acts for journalist Alexa O’Brien, is attempting to redress.

Google has refused to disclose the details of its conduct towards the three WikiLeaks staff members, suggesting rather darkly that it does protect “all our users”.  But the gag orders present a classic bind.  Google won’t reveal to its subscribers that it will, in fact, hand their data to the authorities, even if it assures them legal action will be taken on their behalf to prevent that. In failing to do so, their own escape route is that there was a gag order to begin with.  This suggests an incentive to get parsimonious when using the technology giant’s services.

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

Notes

Ecological Economics, and Changing Everything

January 31st, 2015 by Patricia Perkins

This talk was delivered at a forum at Beit Zatoun, in Toronto on January 11, 2015, on Naomi Klein’s recent book, This Changes Everything (2014) [see video at LeftStreamed No. 245].

I would like to thank and acknowledge the First Nations of the territories where we live and are meeting, the Anishinaabe Mississauga, Seneca, Huron-Wendat, ‘Neutrals,’ and other peoples whose ancestors lived here. The land claim of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, relating to the Crown’s 1805 acquisition of land running from Ashbridge’s Bay westward to the mouth of the Credit River, and extending 28 miles northward, is still under negotiation. Toronto owes its location and earliest traditions as a meeting place to the aboriginal peoples who developed sustainable ways of living and welcomed settlers here. The appalling treatment of aboriginal peoples by settlers is an ongoing disgrace which is intertwined in many ways with the economic, political, and social systems that have produced climate change.

We must start by acknowledging and addressing long-standing injustices if we are to build alliances to fundamentally change this reality, as we are discussing today. I hope today’s session will contribute toward this understanding, and I think we all need to take seriously our responsibility to educate ourselves about the still-suppressed history and the current situation of aboriginal peoples.

Ecological Economics, De-Growth and Climate Change

As I read Naomi Klein’s wonderful book, This Changes Everything (2014), it kept reminding me of proposals and ideas which are part of the ecological economics canon, and I’d like to briefly share and describe some of these.

Ecological economics emerged as an academic field in the late 1980s (the journal Ecological Economicsbegan publishing in 1989 and Canada’s chapter of the International Society for Ecological Economics(CANSEE, started in 1993). Ecological economics recognizes that the economy, however it is organized, is an open subsystem of the Earth’s ecosystem (of which humans are of course a part). The Earth system is materially-closed and energetically-open – since the Earth receives sunlight, and hopefully radiates an equal amount of heat back to space. Therefore material limits exist on how big the economy can grow, although these limits are not usually acknowledged in capitalist / neoclassical / traditional economics, which sees perpetual growth as good and necessary. Interest rates, wage increases, profits, and sometimes redistribution are fueled by this growth. Following the Meadows Report, The Limits to Growth (1972), E.F. Schumaker’s Small is Beautiful (1973), and Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s The Entropy Law and the Economic Process (1971) which pointed out that due to thermodynamics, energy degrades and becomes progressively less useful once it enters the economy, books like Is Capitalism Sustainable? published in 1994, have highlighted the fallacies, contradictions and problems with economic growth-dependence. But as we know, growth has powerful and linked political constituencies.

The Degrowth movement, which is quite strong in Europe now and has an active Canadian presence, advocates for the downscaling of production and consumption so that humans live within the limits of the earth’s ecosystem while maximizing well-being through non-consumptive activities centred on culture, community and human relationships. Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster (2008) by my colleague Peter Victor at York University is a detailed blueprint and computer-tested model which shows how social goals like full employment and poverty reduction can be met even in a no-growth economy if the political will supports concerted, directed government spending. Clearly this will require a lot of grassroots organizing!

The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), founded in 1986, fosters research and discussion about the benefits of an unconditional basic income for all as an economic right. A basic income could be at least partly funded through minimizing the complex bureaucracies required to administer welfare, unemployment and other social transfers, and would allow those without formal employment to still contribute socially. Doesn’t this approach the aboriginal principle that everyone deserves food, clothing and shelter? Some people see a global basic income, perhaps funded through carbon taxes and climate debt repayments, as a climate justice goal. Wouldn’t this at least partly redress the economic development inequities stemming from colonialism?

The York-McGill-University of Vermont partnership website is e4a-net.org.

Ecological economists have also researched how to support the development of local economies, how to end perverse subsidies that stimulate economic bads not goods, ways of measuring resource depletion, pollution, and ‘stranded assets’ so that they can be included in national accounts, planning, and policy, and many other detailed policy-relevant topics that are likely to come in handy during the transition we face.

York University has recently begun a pedagogical partnership with McGill University and the University of Vermont to develop a joint ecological economics graduate program that will train dozens of graduate students over the next several years. Its goals include critiquing and advancing alternatives to Western, instrumentalist mindsets and disciplinary silos in order to contribute to a more holistic and practical understanding of sustainable human endeavor. Students work directly with organizations outside the university to put their academic studies at the service of civil society and test the relevance of what they are learning. The three focus areas for this joint program are water, energy, and climate justice.

In much recent work on ecological economics, degrowth, and the transition to more sustainable socio-economic systems, ‘commons’ is emerging as a paradigm for future economic institutions. A ‘commons’ starts out more overtly oppositional to capitalism than other sometimes-vague terms like ‘sustainability’ or ‘development,’ focusing as it does on ownership and property, land, resources, and assets that are explicitly not privately owned.

This goes beyond the idea of a commons as a common-property regime with the socio-political structures required to prevent open access. The vision more broadly is one of people working together, cooperatively, to build methods of production, service provision, and exchange which create value and well-being while integrating ecological care, justice, and long-term planning to the best of diverse communities’ abilities. This includes institutions such as co-ops, land trusts, and non-market or beyond-market collective ways of organizing production, distribution, consumption, and waste or materials management.

Preventing the so-called “tragedy of the commons” by controlling open access through strong social institutions requires a high level of general civic consciousness, co-operation, the ability to listen and mediate differing goals, conflict resolution, flexibility and good will throughout society, especially in the context of social dynamism and diversity. As 2009 Nobel Economics laureate Elinor Ostrom and others have demonstrated through meticulous research, this does not always happen, but it is possible.

The interdisciplinary International Association for the Study of the Commons was formed in 1989, building on the Common Property Network which was formed in 1984. IASC now has over 1,000 institutional members and has sponsored 12 international conferences, with another planned for May 2015 in Alberta. The idea that commons governance represents something fundamentally different from “the Market” or “the State” is becoming well-known and widely accepted.

The journal Capitalism Nature Socialism, founded in 1988, provides a focus for egalitarian and environmental anti-capitalist perspectives. Political ecology, green community development, and feminist eco-socialism, among others, are burgeoning communities of thought and action related to human relationships with the Earth.

My general point is that many relevant theories, methods and tools which may be useful in the struggle against climate change have been advanced and analyzed by academics, and are therefore available when needed and as soon as the political will is in place to put them to use. Academics and activists can and should be strong allies.

Three Sets of Ideas in Addressing Climate Change

There are three areas where I’d like to offer some additional thoughts, building on what Klein says about climate change and capitalism. The first relates to race and slavery, energy transitions, inequities, and human work. Energy transitions are times when humans ‘discover’ or invent a new way of making their lives easier. Animal traction, making ‘domesticated’ animals do work for humans, made possible new kinds of agriculture and increased food production. Using fire was one of the first energy transitions (requiring wood biomass for fuel). The eventual near-deforestation of Europe led to the discovery that coal could also be burned; coal allowed hotter fires, making possible steel smelting and all sorts of resultant technological changes. Transitions to other fossil fuels, and nuclear energy, followed. Technical change in ship design, including hull profiles and sails, made possible ever-fleeter and more wide-ranging wind-powered and then fossil-fueled ships, military conquests, trade, colonialism.

But not all humans were ever the beneficiaries of these energy transitions and technological advances. The beneficiaries depended, and still depend, on which people have access to the technologies and which people, through violence and political power, ‘own’ the ability to enjoy easier lives. Women’s work, for example, has nearly always been controlled and directed for the service of men through religious and family traditions, domestic violence, labour-market discrimination, and other institutions of patriarchy. This is why women in North America and Europe still earn only about two-thirds of what men do for equivalent work, and why women with dependents work a double or triple day at the expense of their rest, leisure, and health. After WWII, as electric household machines fuelled from the grid reduced women’s drudgery in housework, laundry and cooking, women began to work outside the home, still at low wages. In the global South today, electrification has similar effects, sometimes displacing rural women and men to urban factories where they face a different kind of drudgery.

And slavery, viewed in this way, is another institution that some people invented to make their lives easier at the extreme expense of others – it cannot be separated either historically, economically, or environmentally from the energy transitions surrounding it. (Some alternative energy publications still talk about ‘energy slaves’; since the average sustained power output of a human being is about one-tenth of a horsepower, an ‘energy slave’ is equivalent to about 0.67 of a kilowatt-hour.) Recent research by black scholars is documenting all the ways that slavery undergirded and made possible the growth of capitalism and its heinous intellectual justification. The near-genocides of aboriginal peoples are another aspect of this ‘othering,’ using Power to categorize some humans as beneficiaries and others as outcasts. Our fight today against the results – globalization, corporate control of governments, trade agreements, worsening income inequality, ongoing extreme social inequities, environmental injustices, and climate change – represents our chance to build the strong alliances needed to right these wrongs, as Klein states.

Obviously this is a complex story about which a great deal more can be said, but my basic point is two-fold: We must not allow ourselves to assume that all humans, even all humans in a particular region or country, are equally responsible or equally affected by the institutions and processes that are responsible for climate change. And secondly, this is one reason why the voices of all those affected must be equitably involved in envisioning and building the solutions – so that all the relevant information is brought to bear, and so that the question of interpersonal, political Power is reunited with the question of energy transitions and power shifts in building sustainable solutions. The climate justice literature speaks of “procedural justice” – engagement in building ongoing political solutions – as being equally important along with “distributive justice” – the material redistribution of benefits, land, and rights.

Watercolor depicting the Klallam people of chief Chetzemoka (1808-1888) at Port Townsend, Washington, with one of Chetzemoka’s wives distributing potlatch.

I’d also like to add to Klein’s words on the role of Aboriginal leadership, treaties, court rulings, and land claims – what John Ralston Saul has described and documented as “the Comeback.” Indigenous worldviews provide such rich insights into ways of organizing society to prioritize resilience, interdependence, trust, and ecological respect. Aboriginal traditions of hospitality, sharing, potlatch (or giving away material wealth as a sign of moral and community standing, thus trading off material wealth for leadership and respect), humility, and reverence for the earth and its creatures and life systems are central to locally-appropriate commons governance processes. First Nations also had nested governance hierarchies which seem to me to correspond with what Elinor Ostrom has cited as successful ways to govern large-scale commons.

The active suppression of the potlatch by the Canadian government between 1884 and 1951, on penalty of 2 to 6 month jail terms, shows the extent to which gift-giving and generosity were inimical to the selfishness and violence of capitalist expansionism. During the potlatch, guests are named and given gifts with the words, “you are recognized.” In The Principles of Tsawalk: An Indigenous Approach to Global Crisis (2011, Ch. 4), E. Richard Atleo (Umeek) comments:

“Over time it was learned that gift giving and recognition promoted balance and harmony between beings, that it obeyed what might be called the laws of the positive side of polarity. To neglect the promotion of balance and harmony between beings promoted what might be referred to as the laws of the negative side of polarity. These are not new ideas. Indeed they are commonly held both by Western and Eastern morality (generosity begets generosity) and by the laws of physics (to every action there is a reaction). When two neighbouring nations shared the same resources, whether cedar, salmon, or human, then it was obvious to the ancient Nuu-chah-nulth that to neglect the act of recognition would open the way to conflict, while to observe the act of recognition, through what I refer to as ‘mutual concern,’ would open the way to balance and harmony.”

Aboriginal women, in particular, are the strong leaders of the most powerful environmental movements in Canada today.

The issue of women’s leadership and embodied knowledge of power inequities is a third area where I would like to add to what Klein has said. The transition away from climate change and fossil fuel ‘energy slaves’ has to mean a transition to meaningful jobs without drudgery for all – and women are everywhere the experts on drudgery. As Emma Goldman said, “Woman is the worker’s worker.” Since most of this work is unpaid, and in fact the unpaid economy is at least as big as the paid one in every country and globally, this both undergirds capitalism and is simultaneously outside the market’s control, which puts a different spin on the prospects for alternatives to capitalism. A basic income could make the distinction between paid and unpaid work almost irrelevant. Women’s voices, participation, and leadership are so crucial in climate change activism for such changes.

I’m learning a lot about this through interviews I’ve been doing recently with women across Canada, for a study on climate justice and gender in Canada. When extreme weather events disable the electricity grids, flood the farms, bring fires and beetles to the forests, melt the permafrost and sea ice, and cause rising sea levels which destroy the fisheries, this wreaks economic havoc and sometimes brings family breakdown. Women end up doing much more work, and sometimes taking another paid job on top of their family responsibilities. There is lots of stress. And as noted after Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and other climate crises, domestic violence against women can also be a manifestation of climate chaos.

At the same time, gendered social roles and responsibilities mean that women tend to be central to community resilience, care for the sick and vulnerable, livelihood skills transmission, and inter-household sharing in times of crisis. For all these reasons, the alliances needed to build socially, politically, economically and ecologically sustainable futures must rely on women’s experience and input.

Organizing into an Effective Movement

I believe the potential of the internet, social media and youth organizing have an important role, especially insofar as youth learn to use these means to communicate effectively across difference, address conflicts, and build politically astute coalitions. Cellphones and community radio, along with the internet (which is more liable to intervention/control and to which not everyone has access), are powerful tools for networking and democratic information dissemination.

Canada’s diaspora communities provide many opportunities to communicate broadly, build trust and assemble global coalitions that I think may have tremendous potential in times of climate change. For example, my students in environmental studies at York have included people of Egyptian, Somali, Kenyan and Ethiopian descent who were able to discuss issues related to climate change and water politics in the Upper Nile basin, and at times correspond with their relatives in those countries or do internships and field experiences there, at times when there was a total breakdown in peaceful communication on these issues among the governments themselves. Some of these students have gone on to careers related to environmental policy, water, and climate. Won’t their interpersonal connections and experiences with others in the diaspora contribute to their future work and to broader understandings of what is possible?

For those who are doubtful that dog-eat-dog capitalism can be summarily dismantled, let me offer the view that it is already happening, in ways I’ve outlined. Furthermore, we do know some specific areas where concerted pressure will provide additional impetus.

Here’s quotes from commons expert Elinor Ostrom, specifically in reference to climate change:

“Instead of presuming that cooperation related to social dilemmas is an impossibility, the presumption should be that cooperation will occur in settings with several broad characteristics. These include the following:

“1. Many of those affected have agreed on the need for changes in behavior and see themselves as jointly sharing responsibility for future outcomes.

“2. The reliability and frequency of information about the phenomena of concern are relatively high.

“3. Participants know who else has agreed to change behavior and that their conformance is being monitored.

“4. Communication occurs among at least subsets of participants.

“…. The crucial factor is that a combination of structural features leads many of those affected to trust one another and to be willing to do an agreed-upon action that adds to their own short-term costs because they do see a long-term benefit for themselves and others and they believe that most others are complying.

“….. Many of the policy analyses recommending ‘solutions’ at an international level to be implemented by national governments are based on a fear that unless global solutions are made for global problems, these problems will continue unabated….

“Yet extensive research on institutions related to environmental policies has repeatedly shown that creative, effective, and efficient policies, as well as disasters, have been implemented at all scales…… It is important that we recognize that devising policies related to complex environmental processes is a grand challenge and that reliance on one scale to solve these problems is naïve…. The benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions are not just global in scope. The benefits are distributed across scales – from the household to the globe.

“….. Rather than only a global effort, it would be better to self-consciously adopt a polycentric approach to the problem of climate change in order to gain the benefits at multiple scales as well as to encourage experimentation and learning from diverse policies adopted at multiple scales.” [2009, pp. 13-14, 27-28, 31]

In other words, starting where we are and continuing to do research, educate, organize, advocate for transparency and democratic governance, attack cronyism and corruption, and build broad, respectful, inclusive political alliances is exactly the way forward. Polycentric commons-building at multiple scales isclimate action, and also builds institutions that challenge, destabilize, and create alternatives to capitalism. •

Patricia Perkins teaches in the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto.

References

  • Atleo, E. Richard (Umeek) (2011). Principles of Tsawalk: An Indigenous Approach to Global Crisis. Vancouver: UBC Press.

  • Baptist, Edward E. (2014). The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. New York: Basic Books.
  • Basic Income Canada Network: biencanada.cawww.thebigpush.net.
  • Capitalism Nature Socialism.
  • Commons: www.iasc-commons.org.
  • Debeir, Jean-Claude, Jean Paul Deléage, and Daniel Hémery (1992). In the Servitude of Power: Energy and Civilisation Through the Ages. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Degrowth Canada: degrowthcanada.wordpress.com. “The Degrowth Paradigm.”
  • Daschuk, James (2013). Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation and the Loss of Aboriginal Life. Regina: University of Regina Press.
  • Economics for the Anthropocene: E4A-net.org.
  • Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas (1971). The Entropy Law and the Economic Process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Gibson-Graham, J.K. (1996). The End of Capitalism (as we knew it). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
  • Mantle Site, Wendat (Huron) Ancestral Village. This village is near Whitchurch-Stouffville in Ontario, and built in early 1500s, with about 2,000 occupants in 95 longhouses, and a well-developed waste management system.
  • Mellor, Mary (1997). Feminism and Ecology. New York: NYU Press.
  • Mies, Maria (1986). Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour. London: Zed Books.
  • Milani, Brian (2000). Designing the Green Economy: The Postindustrial Alternative to Corporate Globalization. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Land Claim.
  • Nikiforuk, Andrew (2012). The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude. Greystone Books / David Suzuki Foundation.
  • O’Connor, Martin, ed. (1994). Is Capitalism Sustainable? Political Ecology and the Politics of Ecology. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Ostrom, Elinor (1990). Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ostrom, Elinor (2009). “A Polycentric Approach for Coping with Climate Change.”
  • Painter, Nell Irvin (2011). The History of White People. New York: Norton.
  • Salleh, Ariel, ed. (2009). Eco-sufficiency and Global Justice: Women Write Political Ecology. New York: Pluto Press.
  • Saul, John Ralston (2014). The Comeback. Toronto: Penguin Books.
  • Schumaker, E.F. (1973). Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered. London: Blond & Briggs.
  • Sugden, John (1997). Tecumseh: A Life. New York: Henry Holt.
  • Victor, Peter (2008). Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
  • Wilder, Craig Steven (2013). Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery and the Troubled History of America’s Universities. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

Following the deaths of 36 bankers last year, 2015 has got off to an inauspicious start with the reported suicide of Chris Van Eeghen – the 4th ABN Amro banker suicide in the last few yearsAs Quotenet reports, the death of Van Eghen  – the head of ABN’s corporate finance and capital markets -”startled” friends and colleagues as the 42-year-old “had a great reputation” at work, came from an “illustrious family,” and enjoyed national fame briefly as the boyfriend of a famous actress/model. As one colleague noted, “he was always cheerful, good mood, and apparently he had everything your heart desired. He never sat in the pit, never was down, so I was extremely surprised. I can not understand.”

As Niburu details, friends and colleagues were startled by the news that Chris van Eeghen had committed suicide.

He worked in Amsterdam for ABN / AMRO in the position of “head of syndicate and corporate finance markets.”

 Again, there is again a familiar pattern, namely that there is no indication that Van Eeghen had plans to take his life.

Ostensibly a successful banker, coming from what was described as an illustrious family. Chris was also a familiar sight in Amsterdam’s nightlife scene and enjoyed national fame as possible new boyfriend of Tatjana Simic (a famous Croatian-Dutch model, singer, actress).

“I have never expected. It was an incredibly nice cute guy, “said a neighbor from Amsterdam. In banking circles he had a good reputation.

Most believe that the suicide is not related to his work at the bank,
but a former colleague had noticed that on his Facebook recently changed
its job title to “former.”

Chris leaves behind a son – who had recently been cleared of cancer.

*  *  *

This is the 4th ABN Amro suicide in recent years…

In December last year, missing couple, Thieu (64) [a relationship manager at ABN Amro] and Ellen (55) Leenen from Valkenswaard were found dead in their car Monday afternoon in the Bocholt-Herentals canal in Mol (Belgium). The circumstances under which the car is hit water, point to suicide, police said.

In April last year killed former ABN Amro board member Jan-Peter Schmittman even suicide.

In 2009, ABN-Amro banker and Fentener Vlissingen scion Huibert Boumeester an end to his life in London to put a bullet through his head. Cause for the suicide were missed Madoff investments, was then suggested.

* * *

This is the third banker death in 2015…

1) Michael Flanagan, 45, head of Foreign Exchange, National Australia Bank, London, England

2) Omar Meza, 33, Vice President, AIG, Los Angeles, America

3) Chris van Eeghen, 42, Head of Syndicate and Corporate Finance Markets, ABN / AMRO, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

*  *  *

After at least 36 banker deaths last year…

1) David Bird, 55, long-time reporter for the Wall Street Journal working at the Dow Jones news room
2) Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG
3) William Broeksmit, 58, former senior manager for Deutsche Bank
4) Ryan Henry Crane, age 37, JP Morgan
5) Li Junjie, 33, Hong Kong JP Morgan
6) Gabriel Magee, 39, age JP Morgan employee
7) Mike Dueker, 50, who had worked for Russell Investments
8) Richard Talley, 57, was the founder and CEO of American Title (real estate titles)
9) James Stuart Jr. 70, Former National Bank of Commerce CEO was found dead in Scottsdale, Ariz
10) Jason Alan Salais, 34 year old IT Specialist at JPMorgan since 2008
11) Autumn Radtke, 28, CEO of First Meta, a Singapore-based virtual currency trading platform
12) Eddie Reilly, 47, investment banker, Vertical Group, New York
13) Kenneth Ballando, 28, investment banker, Levy Capital, New york
14) Joseph A. Giampapa, 55, corporate bankruptcy lawyer, JP Morgan Chase
15) Jan Peter Schmittmann, 57, voormalig topbestuurder ANB/AMRO, Laren, Nederland
16) Juergen Frick, 48, CEO Bank Frick & Co AG, Liechtenstein
17) Benoît Philippens, 37, directeur BNP Parisbas Fortis Bank, Ans, België.
18) Lydia…, 52, bankier Bred-Banque-Populaire, Parijs
19) Andrew Jarzyk, 27, bankier, PNC Bank, New York
20) Carlos Six, 61, Hoofd Belastingdienst en lid CREDAF, België
21) Jan Winkelhuijzen, 75, Commissaris en Fiscalist (voormalig Deloitte), Nederland.
22) Richard Rockefeller, 66, achterkleinzoon elitebankier John D. Rockefeller, Amerika
23) Mahafarid Amir Khosravi (Amir Mansour Aria), 45, bankeigenaar, zakenman en derivatenhandelaar, Iran
24) Lewis Katz, 76, zakenman, advocaat en insider in de bancaire wereld, Amerika
25) Julian Knott, Directeur Global Operations Center JP Morgan, 45, Amerika
26) Richard Gravino, IT Specialist JP Morgan, 49, Amerika
27) Thomas James Schenkman, Managing Director Global Infrastructure JP Morgan, 42, Amerika
28) Nicholas Valtz, 39, Managing Director Goldman Sachs, New York, Amerika
29) Therese Brouwer, 50, Managing Director ING, Nederland
30) Tod Robert Edward, 51, Vice President M & T Bank, Amerika
31) Thierry Leyne, 48, investeringsbankier en eigenaar Anatevka S.A., Israël
32) Calogero Gambino, 41, Managing Director Deutsche Bank, Amerika
33) Shawn D. Miller, 42, Managing Director Citigroup, New York, Amerika
34) Melissa Millian, 54, Senior Vice President Mass Mutual, Amerika
35) Thieu Leenen, 64, Relatiemanager ABN/AMRO, Eindhoven, Nederland
36) Geert Tack, 52, Private Banker ING, Haaltert, België

A former senior aide in the Bush administration has said that the British territory of Diego Garcia was used for secret interrogations by the CIA, contradicting years of denials by the UK Government.

Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002-05, told Vice News that his CIA contacts “indicated…that interrogations took place” on Diego Garcia as part of the CIA’s rendition and torture programme.

“[Y]ou might have a case where you simply go in and use a facility at Diego Garcia for a month or two weeks or whatever and you do your nefarious activities there,” he said.

Colonel Wilkerson’s comments contradict years of assurances by British ministers, who have consistently claimed that “no US detainees have ever been held on Diego Garcia.”  While the UK conceded that there had been two CIA rendition flights, each carrying a single detainee, that passed through the island in 2002, ministers claimed that was the full extent of Diego Garcia’s involvement.

Col. Wilkerson believes it is likely that the UK – or at least personnel on the island – would have known about the use of Diego Garcia for CIA interrogations: “It’s difficult for me to think that we could do anything there of any duration to speak of without the British knowing – at least the British on the island – knowing what we were doing,”

Col. Wilkerson’s comments come in the wake of a report published late last year by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), which revealed new details about the CIA’s rendition programme, in which detainees were flown around the world to face torture.  The report contained no reference to UK complicity, despite existing evidence in the public domain, leading to questions over whether the British Government lobbied to have certain details removed.

Despite repeated calls, the British Government has still not published flight records relating to Diego Garcia, which could shed light on its involvement in the CIA rendition programme.

The US operates a major military base on Diego Garcia, which it leases from the UK.  That lease is due to expire in 2016, and there have been calls from Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee that any renewal of the lease should include “formalis[ing] the existing informal arrangements by which the US seeks permission for rendition or other politically sensitive operations in Diego Garcia.”

Cori Crider, a director at legal charity Reprieve said: “This suggests the UK Government has not told the whole truth about Diego Garcia’s part in the CIA’s torture programme.  Ministers have consistently claimed that only two CIA rendition victims ever landed on Diego Garcia – Lawrence Wilkerson’s comments suggest that either they haven’t been honest with the public, or the US Government hasn’t been honest with them.

“These revelations will also cast suspicion over the British Government’s ongoing refusal to publish flight records for the island.  Until we can get a straight answer from the US and UK Government on what went on on Diego Garcia, there should be no renewal of the US lease, which is due to expire next year.”

Notes:

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8140 / donald[DOT]Campbell[AT]reprieve.org.uk

2. For UK ministers’ comments on Diego Garcia, see then-Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s 21 February 2008 statement to the Commons:

“Contrary to earlier explicit assurances that Diego Garcia had not been used for rendition flights, recent US investigations have now revealed two occasions, both in 2002, when that had in fact occurred. An error in the earlier US records search meant that those cases did not come to light. In both cases, a US plane with a single detainee on board refuelled at the US facility in Diego Garcia. The detainees did not leave the plane, and the US Government have assured us that no US detainees have ever been held on Diego Garcia. US investigations show no record of any other rendition through Diego Garcia or any other overseas territory, or through the UK itself, since then.”

Subsequent ministers and Governments have reaffirmed Mr Miliband’s position, for example Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood on 11 December 2014:

“The US Government has assured us that there have been no cases of rendition through the UK, our Overseas Territories including Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory), or the Crown Dependencies since 11 September 2001, apart from the two cases in 2002, about which the then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the then Member for South Shields, Mr Milliband informed the House in 2008.”

3. The Foreign Affairs Committee’s comments on Diego Garcia, and the need for further agreements over its use in light of the rendition programme, can be found here.

Greece hasn’t outright asked Russia for a loan, but Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Moscow wouldn’t rule it out. His statement comes days after Greece openly opposed further economic sanctions against Russia.

“Well, we can imagine any situation, so if such [a] petition is submitted to the Russian government, we will definitely consider it, but we will take into account all the factors of our bilateral relationships between Russia and Greece, so that is all I can say. If it is submitted we will consider it,” Siluanov told CNBC in an interview in Moscow on Thursday.

The new left-wing Syriza government in Greece won a majority at last Sunday’s election on the promise to renegotiate the country’s €317 billion debt and end austerity.

Greece needs to negotiate with EU policymakers by February 28 in order to receive the next tranche of bailout funds. If Athens doesn’t get the money it will have difficulty servicing its debt. Two bailouts were paid in 2010 and 2014 totaling €240 billion.

The new government was quick to show support for Moscow, and has openly called for an end to Russian sanctions, and may veto any future sanctions.

Siluanov applauded Greece’s stance on sanctions as “pragmatic” and “economically justified.”

On Thursday the European Commission decided to extend sanctions against Russia through September 2015, but did not add any broader economic measures. A spokesperson for the new PM Alexis Tsipras said Greece didn’t approve of any further restrictive measures.

 

Between announcing it doesn’t intend to pay off its €317 billion debt in full and blocking Russia sanctions, Greece has emerged as a wild card among the 29 countries of the EU.

Russia-Greece deals

Russia gave Greece a very valuable card to play in the EU when it announced its South Stream pipeline will be re-routed through Turkey, with a gas hub expected to be built on the border between Turkey and Greece.

Russian investors have been watching Greece closely since the economy went bust in the 2008 credit crisis, which sent it looking for financial assistance from the EU to pay its creditors.

The crisis, as well as the EU bailout policy, has sent the economy into a six-year recession, forcing the government to dismantle and privatize state assets to meet austerity targets under its EU bailout plan.

State-owned Russian Railways and Gazprom have been eyeing stakes in Greek assets. Russian Railways has held talks with TrainOSE, Greece’s state-owned passenger and cargo rail operator. In 2013, Gazprom made a €900 million bid for Greece’s state gas company DEPA, but backed out of negotiations at the last minute, citing concerns over the company’s financial stability.

Russian investment in Greek railways is estimated at up to $3 billion per year.

Traditionally, the two countries have very strong tourist ties, with more than 1 million Russians visiting Greece each year. This number has been trimmed since the ruble crisis and slowed growth have forced many Russian to forgo foreign travel.

Greece is home to a robust Russian diaspora – nearly 300,000 Russian nationals live 1,400 miles south of Moscow, largely a result of emigration.

NEW YORK – USA – In a remarkable admission by former Nixon era Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, reveals what is happening at the moment in the world and particularly the Middle East. [please note this is a SATIRE, which in many regards says the truth regarding the current situation, the interview is fiction, it never took place, some of the quotes are from Henry Kissinger]

Speaking from his luxurious Manhattan apartment, the elder statesman, who will be 89 in May, is all too forward with his analysis of the current situation in the world forum of Geo-politics and economics.

“The United States is bating China and Russia, and the final nail in the coffin will be Iran, which is, of course, the main target of Israel. We have allowed China to increase their military strength and Russia to recover from Sovietization, to give them a false sense of bravado, this will create an all together faster demise for them. We’re like the sharp shooter daring the noob to pick up the gun, and when they try, it’s bang bang. The coming war will will be so severe that only one superpower can win, and that’s us folks. This is why the EU is in such a hurry to form a complete superstate because they know what is coming, and to survive, Europe will have to be one whole cohesive state. Their urgency tells me that they know full well that the big showdown is upon us. O how I have dreamed of this delightful moment.”

“Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”

Mr Kissinger then added: “If you are an ordinary person, then you can prepare yourself for war by moving to the countryside and building a farm, but you must take guns with you, as the hordes of starving will be roaming. Also, even though the elite will have their safe havens and specialist shelters, they must be just as careful during the war as the ordinary civilians, because their shelters can still be compromised.”

After pausing for a few minutes to collect his thoughts, Mr Kissinger, carried on:

“We told the military that we would have to take over seven Middle Eastern countries for their resources and they have nearly completed their job. We all know what I think of the military, but I have to say they have obeyed orders superfluously this time. It is just that last stepping stone, i.e. Iran which will really tip the balance. How long can China and Russia stand by and watch America clean up? The great Russian bear and Chinese sickle will be roused from their slumber and this is when Israel will have to fight with all its might and weapons to kill as many Arabs as it can. Hopefully if all goes well, half the Middle East will be Israeli. Our young have been trained well for the last decade or so on combat console games, it was interesting to see the new Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 game, which mirrors exactly what is to come in the near future with its predictive programming. Our young, in the US and West, are prepared because they have been programmed to be good soldiers, cannon fodder, and when they will be ordered to go out into the streets and fight those crazy Chins and Russkies, they will obey their orders. Out of the ashes we shall build a new society, there will only be one superpower left, and that one will be the global government that wins. Don’t forget, the United States, has the best weapons, we have stuff that no other nation has, and we will introduce those weapons to the world when the time is right.”

End of interview. Our reporter is ushered out of the room by Kissinger’s minder.

This article was first published on August 31, 2008.

1947 to 1951, FRANCE

According to Alfred W. McCoy in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, CIA arms, money, and disinformation enabled Corsican criminal syndicates in Marseille to wrestle control of labor unions from the Communist Party. The Corsicans gained political influence and control over the docks — ideal conditions for cementing a long-term partnership with mafia drug distributors, which turned Marseille into the postwar heroin capital of the Western world. Marseille’s first heroin laboratones were opened in 1951, only months after the Corsicans took over the waterfront.

EARLY 1950s, SOUTHEAST ASIA

The Nationalist Chinese army, organized by the CIA to wage war against Communist China, became the opium barons of The Golden Triangle (parts of Burma, Thailand and Laos), the world’s largest source of opium and heroin. Air America, the ClA’s principal airline proprietary, flew the drugs all over Southeast Asia. (See Christopher Robbins, Air America, Avon Books, 1985, chapter 9)

1950s to early 1970s, INDOCHINA During U.S. military involvement in Laos and other parts of Indochina, Air America flew opium and heroin throughout the area. Many Gl’s in Vietnam became addicts. A laboratory built at CIA headquarters in northern Laos was used to refine heroin. After a decade of American military intervention, Southeast Asia had become the source of 70 percent of the world’s illicit opium and the major supplier of raw materials for America’s booming heroin market.

1973-80, AUSTRALIA

The Nugan Hand Bank of Sydney was a CIA bank in all but name. Among its officers were a network of US generals, admirals and CIA men, including fommer CIA Director William Colby, who was also one of its lawyers. With branches in Saudi Arabia, Europe, Southeast Asia, South America and the U.S., Nugan Hand Bank financed drug trafficking, money laundering and international arms dealings. In 1980, amidst several mysterious deaths, the bank collapsed, $50 million in debt. (See Jonathan Kwitny, The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money and the CIA, W.W. Norton & Co., 1 987.)

1970s and 1980s, PANAMA

For more than a decade, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega was a highly paid CIA asset and collaborator, despite knowledge by U.S. drug authorities as early as 1971 that the general was heavily involved in drug trafficking and money laundering. Noriega facilitated ”guns-for-drugs” flights for the contras, providing protection and pilots, as well as safe havens for drug cartel otficials, and discreet banking facilities. U.S. officials, including then-ClA Director William Webster and several DEA officers, sent Noriega letters of praise for efforts to thwart drug trafficking (albeit only against competitors of his Medellin Cartel patrons). The U.S. government only turned against Noriega, invading Panama in December 1989 and kidnapping the general once they discovered he was providing intelligence and services to the Cubans and Sandinistas. Ironically drug trafficking through Panama increased after the US invasion. (John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, Random House, 1991; National Security Archive Documentation Packet The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations.)

1980s, CENTRAL AMERICA

The San Jose Mercury News series documents just one thread of the interwoven operations linking the CIA, the contras and the cocaine cartels. Obsessed with overthrowing the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, Reagan administration officials tolerated drug trafficking as long as the traffickers gave support to the contras. In 1989, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations (the Kerry committee) concluded a three-year investigation by stating:

“There was substantial evidence of drug smuggling through the war zones on the part of individual Contras, Contra suppliers, Contra pilots mercenaries who worked with the Contras, and Contra supporters throughout the region…. U.S. officials involved in Central America failed to address the drug issue for fear of jeopardizing the war efforts against Nicaragua…. In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. govemment had intormation regarding the involvement either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter…. Senior U S policy makers were nit immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras’ funding problems.” (Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy, a Report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and Intemational Operations, 1989)

In Costa Rica, which served as the “Southern Front” for the contras (Honduras being the Northern Front), there were several different ClA-contra networks involved in drug trafficking. In addition to those servicing the Meneses-Blandon operation detailed by the Mercury News, and Noriega’s operation, there was CIA operative John Hull, whose farms along Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua were the main staging area for the contras. Hull and other ClA-connected contra supporters and pilots teamed up with George Morales, a major Miami-based Colombian drug trafficker who later admitted to giving $3 million in cash and several planes to contra leaders. In 1989, after the Costa Rica government indicted Hull for drug trafficking, a DEA-hired plane clandestinely and illegally flew the CIA operative to Miami, via Haiti. The US repeatedly thwarted Costa Rican efforts to extradite Hull back to Costa Rica to stand trial. Another Costa Rican-based drug ring involved a group of Cuban Amencans whom the CIA had hired as military trainers for the contras. Many had long been involved with the CIA and drug trafficking They used contra planes and a Costa Rican-based shnmp company, which laundered money for the CIA, to move cocaine to the U.S. Costa Rica was not the only route. Guatemala, whose military intelligence service — closely associated with the CIA — harbored many drug traffickers, according to the DEA, was another way station along the cocaine highway.

Additionally, the Medellin Cartel’s Miami accountant, Ramon Milian Rodriguez, testified that he funneled nearly $10 million to Nicaraguan contras through long-time CIA operative Felix Rodriguez, who was based at Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador. The contras provided both protection and infrastructure (planes, pilots, airstrips, warehouses, front companies and banks) to these ClA-linked drug networks. At least four transport companies under investigation for drug trafficking received US govemment contracts to carry non-lethal supplies to the contras. Southern Air Transport, “formerly” ClA-owned, and later under Pentagon contract, was involved in the drug running as well. Cocaine-laden planes flew to Florida, Texas, Louisiana and other locations, including several militarv bases Designated as ‘Contra Craft,” these shipments were not to be inspected. When some authority wasn’t clued in and made an arrest, powerful strings were pulled on behalf of dropping the case, acquittal, reduced sentence, or deportation.

1980s to early 1990s, AFGHANISTAN

ClA-supported Moujahedeen rebels engaged heavily in drug trafficking while fighting against the Soviet-supported govemment and its plans to reform the very backward Afghan society. The Agency’s principal client was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the leading druglords and leading heroin refiner. CIA supplied trucks and mules, which had carried arms into Afghanistan, were used to transport opium to laboratories along the Afghan Pakistan border. The output provided up to one half of the heroin used annually in the United States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe. US officials admitted in 1990 that they had failed to investigate or take action against the drug operabon because of a desire not to offend their Pakistani and Afghan allies. In 1993, an official of the DEA called Afghanistan the new Colombia of the drug world.

MlD-1980s to early 199Os, HAITI

While working to keep key Haitian military and political leaders in power, the CIA turned a blind eye to their clients’ drug trafficking. In 1986, the Agency added some more names to its payroll by creating a new Haitian organization, the National Intelligence Service (SIN). SIN was purportedly created to fight the cocaine trade, though SIN officers themselves engaged in the trafficking, a trade aided and abetted by some of the Haitian military and political leaders.

William Blum is author of Killing Hope: U.S Military and CIA Interventions Since World War ll available from Common Courage Press, P.O. Box 702, Monroe, Maine, 04951

It has been said that birds of a feather flock together, and proof of that statement can be seen in the fact that terrorist sympathizer John McCain was recently forced to act as Knight in Shining Armor for famed mass murderer Henry Kissinger as the latter was attempting to give yet another speech to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Kissinger’s arrival, as well as the beginning of his speech, was interrupted by protesters from Code Pink, who attempted to list off the crimes of Henry Kissinger but were unable to continue their presentation for the requisite number of days it would take to do so due to the fact that Capitol Hill police were called in to remove them.

McCain, always a friend to those who have committed or are doing their best to commit atrocities on a mass scale, erupted in typical angry fashion screaming at protesters, “You know, you’re going to have to shut up, or I’m going to have you arrested.” As the protesters were being removed, McCain also screamed, “Get out of here you low-life scum.”

McCain went on to apologize to Kissinger by stating that “Dr. Kissinger, I hope on behalf of all of the members of this committee on both sides of the aisle — in fact, from all of my colleagues, I’d like to apologize for allowing such disgraceful behavior towards a man who served his country with the greatest distinction. I apologize profusely.”

Many Americans, particularly Vietnam veterans, however, may indeed remember “such disgraceful behavior towards a man who served his country with the greatest distinction” taking place in the Capitol on a number of occasions.

Indeed, the performance of John McCain standing in front of Congress and arguing against any further investigation or revelation of whether or not American POWs were still being held in Vietnam, would certainly count as one such instance.

One other such instance might be his incessant grandstanding in support of al-Qaeda and ISIS, known to the mainstream media as “moderate rebels,” freedom fighters, and the like.

Yet, while McCain’s support of the Vietnam war, Iraq War, Syrian War, Libyan war, and virtually every war that was ever waged and those that ever will be waged upon the face of the earth, has resulted in the death of millions of people, McCain found himself in the presence of one of the true kings of killing in Henry Kissinger.

Indeed, Kissinger is one of the true living figures whose feet most psychopathic killers the world over still long to kneel at.

Kissinger’s direction of the Chilean coup, Vietnam war, Cambodian andLaotian tragedies, and his famousNational Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests (NSSM200) has earned him a special place amongst the world’s most effective mass murders, although admittedly not the most widely known.

It is thus not surprising that McCain would come to the aid of Kissinger so readily. In fact, it is not surprising that, after all these years and all these crimes against humanity, that Kissinger would be addressing such an important Congressional committee. Nor is it surprising that this committee boasts yet another criminal, terrorist supporter, insidious color revolution operative, and traitor like John McCain.

The only surprising aspect of the whole affair was that the protesters were allowed to stay for as long as they did.

Or was the most surprising aspect that there were protesters to begin with?

Recently from Brandon Turbeville:

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 300 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

U.S. Army General John F. Campbell speaks Dec 8, 2014 at North Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, Afghanistan. (Photo: ResoluteSupportMedia/flickr/public domain)

In an unprecedented blackout, top U.S. military officials have quietly classified key information about how they are spending the over $65 billion dollars appropriated since 2002 to train Afghan forces.

New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg, who broke the story in the press on Thursday, explained, “until this month the American-led coalition regularly shared details on how the money was being put to use and on the Afghan forces’ progress.”

However, this information has been suddenly declared off-limits, meaning that over 100 critical aspects of U.S. policy in Afghanistan are shielded from public disclosure. These include:

  • How much money the U.S. spends on weapons and equipment for the Afghan National Army.
  • The total dollars the U.S. spends on salaries for Afghan national police.
  • The number of active Afghan military and police personnel.
  • Full details about U.S. training programs for Afghan forces.

report released this week by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko states, “The classification of this volume of data for SIGAR’s quarterly report is unprecedented.”

“The decision leaves SIGAR for the first time in six years unable to publicly report on most of the U.S.-taxpayer-funded efforts to build, train, equip, and sustain the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces),” the report continues.

Addressing the Inspector General, Gen. John F. Campbell, the U.S. commander of coalition forces, claimed that classification is necessary to “protect the lives of those individuals who could be put at risk by the release of sensitive information.”

But Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, pointed out, “The General did not explain how budget and contracting information, among other routine data, could be used to sharpen attacks against allied forces.”

“For years, this kind of information has been available,” Aftergood told Frontline. “It’s not just a particular fact or figure that’s being classified, but whole categories of previously public information. That is both stunning and disturbing.”

Others drew their own conclusions:

The U.S. military is pulling the veil over this information at a time when the United States is locking in at least another decade of war in the country and publicly claiming that its strategy centers on the training and building of Afghan forces. The Obama administration is expected to request for the 2016 budget at least $42 billion for the war in Afghanistan, signaling the long-term nature of U.S. military entanglement in the country.

The new classifications, furthermore, come at an especially dangerous time for Afghan people. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 2014 was the deadliest year on record for Afghan civilians since the global body began making reports in 2009.

Relatives of journalists who were killed during Israel’s summer attack on Gaza protest in front of the United Nations’ Gaza City headquarters in September 2014. (Mohammed Asad / APA images)

Maysoon Abu Hayyin is not sure how she will provide for her one-year-old daughter Lana.

In July last year, Maysoon’s husband Ziad — a freelance journalist and online editor for the al-Kitaab newspaper — was killed during Israel’s attack on Gaza. Ziad had some money saved, yet Maysoon has not yet been granted authorization to access his bank account.

Maysoon, 22, was living with Ziad and Lana in the Shujaiya district of Gaza City. As Israeli forces launched widespread indiscriminate attacks in the area, Maysoon fled with her daughter to Egypt.

“When everyone fled, he stayed behind to do some work,” she told The Electronic Intifada. “He told us he’d come join us a few days later, but he couldn’t find transportation.”

Four days later Maysoon learned of her husband’s death while watching the news. Ziad was killed when Israel shelled his family’s home in Shujaiya. Ziad’s grandfather and cousin also died under the rubble.

“I was shocked,” she said, pausing, “and devastated.”

“Bloodiest year” for media workers

A total of 2,257 Palestinians were killed during Israel’s summer assault on Gaza, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA. Of that number, OCHAestimates 1,563 were civilians, including 563 children.

Entire neighborhoods throughout Gaza were left flattened, and Israel targeted hospitals, schools, mosques and other civilian infrastructure. In the Abu Hayyin family’s neighborhood of Shujaiya, homes were turned into massive piles of busted concrete and torn steel.

According to the Gaza Centre for Media Freedom, 2014 was the “bloodiest year” in history for Palestinian media workers. The watchdog group recorded 295 Israeli press violations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Sixteen press workers — fifteen Palestinians and one Italian — were killed by Israel during the attack on Gaza.

Although Maysoon received a one-time sum from al-Kitaab for her late husband’s final paycheck, she later learned that she will not receive regular financial compensation.

“There just isn’t any money,” she explained.

Because al-Kitaab is affiliated with the Islamic University of Gaza, Maysoon has been granted a scholarship to study math and hopes that she will find work in order to take care of her daughter.

“Lana looks like her father very much,” she noted. “He was a good man. I never knew anyone so perfectly fitted for his job. He loved it.”

Repeatedly targeted

Ezz Zanoun, a freelance photojournalist whose work has frequently appeared on The Electronic Intifada, was one of dozens of Palestinian media workers injured during Israel’s assault on Gaza. “I luckily only had light injuries, but I was hurt several times,” he told The Electronic Intifada.

According to statistics provided to The Electronic Intifada by the Gaza Centre for Media Freedom, at least twenty-eight journalists dressed in press garb were seriously injured by Israeli forces in the course of their work.

“During the war, I had to carry all my equipment at all times,” Zanoun said. “[Palestinian] journalists are always aware that they may not return home to their wives or children because they live the massacres they are covering.”

Zanoun, who taught himself photography while covering Israeli attacks on Gaza, said: “The Israelis don’t consider [Palestinian] journalists. They attack us and shoot at us just like everyone else.”

The hardest part of covering the attack, he explained, “is hearing each day that another journalist was hurt or killed. And when we cover massacres and arrive at areas with martyrs, the first thing I think of is my family and how it could happen to them at any time.”

“I always thought I’d be next to die,” he said of last year’s onslaught. “The sound of [Israeli] rockets and bombs never stopped.”

Zanoun’s photography will be presented in an exhibition in Gaza City this week. “It is a collection of fourteen photographs that show the dangers journalists face in Gaza, especially during wartime.”

In addition to the record number of fatalities and injuries among media workers, rights groups have accused Israel of targeting media offices during the fighting in places across the narrow coastal enclave. At least seventeen offices were directly struck by shelling or missiles, according to the Gaza Centre for Media Freedom.

Muhammad Thuraya, news director of the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa TV, recalled the channel’s long history of being targeted by Israeli forces, particularly during the three major offensives against Gaza since 2008.

“The [Israeli] enemy attacks the entire Palestinian people and all of the Palestinian media, but there is always a focus on al-Aqsa,” Thuraya told The Electronic Intifada. “Just like the schools and the hospitals Israel has targeted, al-Aqsa TV was repeatedly directly targeted during the 2014 aggression.”

Thuraya added that Israeli forces directly struck five al-Aqsa TV offices and a storage unit last summer. Sameh al-Aryan, an al-Aqsa TV photographer, was killed on 30 July when Israel bombed the Shujaiya market.

Rami Rayan, his cousin, also a journalist, died in the same attack.

Ahmed Nasser, another al-Aqsa TV photographer, was injured when Israeli forcestargeted the Italian Tower in Gaza City on 26 August.

Criminalizing journalism

Journalists in the occupied West Bank are also targeted by Israel.

Mustafa al-Khawaja, an al-Aqsa TV correspondent, was arrested by Israeli forces in October and detained for fifty days.

Charged with “incitement against the State of Israel” and “the promotion of terror ideas,” al-Khawaja was released on bail on 10 December, according to the Ramallah-basedPalestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA).

During one of al-Khawaja’s hearings, an Israeli prosecutor said that al-Aqsa TV has been considered an “illegal terrorist organization” since the beginning of October.

According to MADA, this is perhaps the first time that a media outlet has been classified by Israel as a terrorist group.

Nonetheless, al-Aqsa TV employees have also been the target of deadly attacks in the past. Two al-Aqsa TV journalists — Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama — werekilled by Israel during its eight-day war on Gaza in November 2012.

Israel and the United States “treat us as a terrorist channel because we protect [Palestine] with our voices, through news and pictures,” Thuraya of al-Aqsa TV said. “They attack us on social media — Facebook, YouTube, Twitter — and [Israel] attacks us with weapons.”

Patrick O. Strickland is an independent journalist and regular contributor to The Electronic Intifada. Find his reportage at www.postrickland.com. Follow him on Twitter:@P_Strickland_

On January 22nd, Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News (Murdoch founded it, his son James headed it for a while, and their 21st Century Fox owns “a controlling stake” in it) telecast a puff-piece for Ukraine’s right-wing extremists, several times calling them “heroes” to “patriotic” Ukrainians. This segment of their documentary series “Ross Kemp: Extreme World,” was titled “Ukraine: The Rise of The Right.”

In it, Ukraine’s “far right” are described as being patriots who are protecting all of Ukraine from a Russian invasion, and who are therefore being increasingly admired by Ukrainians. It says: “The ultras [ultra-rightists] are actually patriotic young people who are ready to fight — not only on the Maidan, but also at the war for our land. … These men — seen now by many as heroes — are fighting for the Azov Battalion in Mariupol, Maryinka and Iliovaisk.”

The message is that whereas these far-rightists were previously despised, they now are widely respected: “Just a few years ago they were on the fringes of society — shunned for their violent behaviour and xenophobic beliefs, but since the 2014 Maidan revolution — and the subsequent fighting against pro-Russian groups — their popularity has grown.”

In the segment here, the presenter, Ross Kemp, says, at 15:25, that, Ukraine “faces the threat of a full-scale Russian invasion. NATO has called the crisis in Ukraine, the biggest threat to European security since World War Two. Amidst this chaos, volunteer far-right battalions have put up some of the strongest resistance.” He then notes that the city of Mariupol in Ukraine’s southeast “is currently being defended by a right-wing militia called the Azov Battalion.”

At 17:55, Kemp refers to “occupied Crimea,” as if Crimea (which had been part of Russia from 1783 to 1954, andwhere far more of the residents still considered themselves to be “Russian” than “Ukrainian”) had been seized by Russian troops, instead of Crimea having been protected against invasion of troops from the new Ukrainian Government immediately after the February 22nd coup in which Obama had seized control over Ukraine’s Government, by the use of paid mercenaries (‘volunteers’) from the nazi Right Sector, who were headed by Dmitriy Yarosh, and by other racist mercenaries, some from outside Ukraine.

Ross Kemp is then in Mariupol, where he says: “Just to give you an idea of how vulnerable this city is, in the distance is Russia, all the way along there [and he points at the supposedly feared Russia]. … In May of 2014, Mariupol was one of several cities seized by pro-Russia separatists. … How did a predominantly far-right militia[Azov] end up defending one of Ukraine’s most important cities? … The fight to defend Mariupol has made the[Azov] Battalion specialists in urban warfare. The majority are ordinary Ukrainians united by a sense of patriotism[he doesn’t say ‘nationalism,’ but ‘patriotism,’ so as to give it an attractive odor].”

He also doesn’t deny that “some” of the Azov fighters are White-supremacists (they make it too obvious). At 20:25, he says: “But there’s an altogether darker ideology that unites some Azov members.” A swastika is shown; then an Azov fighter is interviewed saying, ‘’’It’s a war with Russia.’” The idea Rupert Murdoch’s man Kemp wants to convey here is that these fighters are “patriots,” who are “volunteering” to “defend” Ukraine against “pro-Russians”and against “Russian troops” (he uses that phrase though there’s actually no sign of any of those). He ignores that Obama’s team had taken over Ukraine during a coup which was long in the planning and which used the public “Maidan” anti-corruption demonstrations as merely a ‘democratic’ PR backdrop. In fact, here is the U.S. State Department’s Victoria Nuland, telling the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, on 4 February 2014, whom he is to place at the top of the post-coup Government; and, when the coup occurred, this “Yats” was indeed the person who became appointed 22 days later. No hint of such background is given in Rupert Murdoch’s ‘news’ (propaganda) report.

At 30:20, Ross Kemp says:

“Since February of 2014, Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists have been locked in a bloody battle for control of towns in the east. [Actually, the civil war had started not in February 2014, such as he says, but on 9 May 2014. The Obama coup had occurred in February 2014, overthrowing the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, for whom more than 70% of the residents in southeastern Ukraine had voted; and the civil war didn’t start till May because it wasn’t clear till May that the newly installed Government wanted the residents in the southeast to die or else to flee to Russia — to be gone from Ukraine. Obama didn’t want them voting in any future Ukrainian national elections, because that would jeopardize the lasting-power of his coup-Government.] This is the town hall of Mariupol. Five months ago, Russian separatists stormed this building. … The Russian supporters were made to leave, but when they did, they torched it.”

[He’s there trying to convey the idea that “Russian supporters” had torched the town hall in Mariupol. But, actually, it wasn’t the “town hall”; it was the police station; and there’s no indication that the locals had torched it. Instead: On 9 May 2014, which is the very day that Ukraine’s civil war started throughout southeastern Ukraine (in response to the May 2nd massacre in Odessa), the local police force refused to take commands from the invading Ukrainian Government troops of western Ukraine, who were then entering Mariupol to take the city over. Anti-coup people entered the building in order to occupy it, and a battle ensued between the Kiev troops and the Mariupol locals. The locals were driven out by Ukraine’s military; and the police station was torched, but no one knows by whom.

Here is video of the police station on fire, on 9 May 2014.

Here is a detailed description and another actual video of the burning; and the description that’s given, which comes from a resident there, makes clear that the invading troops burned the building down because the local police refused to accept the authority of the newly imposed Government. But the “town hall” also had been involved in Ukraine’s invasion.

Here is a Reuters article on 7 May 2014, reporting that “Ukrainian forces seized the rebel-held city hall in the eastern port city of Mariupol overnight, driving out pro-Russian activists, then withdrew, making no attempt to hold onto the building, witnesses said. .... Witnesses said the soldiers left after smashing furniture and office equipment.” Maybe they burned it later. The vandals were the haters — the very people whom Ross Kemp so obviously admires. In any case, what Kemp is saying about the event is almost certainly false. He pretends to be a videographer, but his video presents no evidence — merely assertions by Ukrainian Government officials and soldiers.]

Here and here and here are how what Kemp fearsomely calls the “pro-Russian separatists” (or, as Reuters had referred to them, ‘activists’) in Mariupol first encountered the Obama-coup-regime’s troops, as those troops invaded Mariupol slaughtering residents on 9 May 2014. And here is what had happened at the largest southeastern city, Donetsk, just three days earlier, on May 6th. That Donetsk video refers to the Ukrainian oligarch or aristocrat Kolomoysky. He was the man who had financed the massacre on May 2nd of entirely peaceful anti-coup demonstrators in Odessa — the massacre that had actually caused the people in the other rejectionist cities to become separatists. It caused some southeastern areas to go all the way to refusing to accept the Obama-installed coup-government at Kiev, and to establish instead their own independent nation, in order to protect themselves from the (it had by then become blatantly clear) rabidly anti-Russian racist-fascists, or nazis, whom Obama had placed into power in Kiev. Obama needed the May 2nd massacre in order to terrorize the people in the southeast so as to cause them to form their own government to protect themselves from it, thus enabling the ‘legitimate’ Government (the one that Obama had just installed in his actually illegal coup) to call them ‘Terrorists’ and so to have an excuse to bomb and drive them out, so as to eliminate the residents in the pro-Yanukovych area, so that no similar

Ukrainian President would ever again be able to be elected by voters in Ukraine. This was essential in order to get Obama’s imposed illegal nazi Government to stick, to last. Kolomoysky was an ally, and an employer of the family and friends, of key people in the Obama Administration, and all of them could benefit enormously from killing and driving out lots of residents in the heavily-pro-Yanukovych southeastern portion of Ukraine.

At 31:30, Ross Kemp says: “After months of attacks, Kalinovka [he pronounced it ‘Kalikovka’] is a ghost town. All of the houses have been abandoned here.” He doesn’t even care to mention why the surviving residents had left: Ukraine’s troops had been shelling, bombing, and shooting at them, so survivors fled into the separatist-controlled area, or else into Russia.

At 33.00, he’s at the border heading into Donbass (the separatist-controlled region), and is told by the nazi troops to go back from whence he came, because press presence might draw fire from pro-Russian snipers just beyond that demarcation-line — which is just a lie, but the sucker or propagandist apparently took everything that these fascists told him as being the gospel truth, and he was basically a mere video stenographer for these nazis anyway, not a real journalist (who questions everything).

So: Ross Kemp went back to Mariupol. He didn’t even care to get the opponents’ side of this war. The nazis told him to go back to Mariupol, so he did. This is Rupert Murdoch’s ‘news’ operation: one-sided ‘news’ only. (Any intelligent person who watched the ‘documentary’ up to that point, had to recognize by now that this was really no ‘news report’ at all, but pure war-propaganda. Even if that fact hadn’t become blatant before, it now became blatant.)

At 39.00, Kemp says: “The city [Mariupol] formed its own militia because of the threat posed by Russian separatists and, the Russian Federation.” An interviewed Ukrainian official, a woman, tells him that “Russian troops … systematically destroyed” the city. She calls herself a “nationalist.” No evidence is presented — and none is asked for — to support her “Russian troops” allegation. He just accepts everything she tells him.

At 41.30, he says: “You can see why regiments like the Azov Battalion and other far-right battalions are gaining support here. Because they’re volunteers who are making the ultimate sacrifice to defend the city. And so people here are rallying to their cause.” Actually, most of the “people here” must both hate and fear the nazis. The residents know that they’ll be killed if they express any support whatsoever for the anti-coup, or anti-‘Maidan,’ side. To a ‘reporter’ like Kemp, it makes no difference what the reality of or for the residents there is.

In other words: This documentary by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky ‘News’ is just pro-nazi propaganda, which conflates “nationalism” with patriotism, and which presents nazis as being heroes, instead of as being the rabid anti-democratic bigots that they actually are.

The Obama-installed coup-government was assigned by Obama, and by the IMF, to exterminate as many of the residents in the Donbass region of southeast Ukraine as possible, because 90% of these residents had voted for the very man, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Obama’s nazis overthrew on 22 February 2014. (The dark purple region on that map, in the far east of Ukraine, is the area that had voted at least 90% for Yanukovych; and it’s the area that broke away from Ukraine in May 2014 and is being bombed by Obama’s Ukrainian forces. That area was traditionally called “Donbass,” but many of its inhabitants now call themselves “Novorossiyans,” or new Russians, because they want to be part of Russia, which their region used to be part of.) So, this Government sent these nazis in, to finish the job, for Obama and for their own oligarchs.

Do the viewers of Sky ‘News’ want to know any of that background? Apparently not — after all, they are viewers of Sky ‘News.’ They are fascists, and many of them are like Obama’s team: they are nazis — racist fascists. (Most of those viewers probably just call themselves “conservative.” Of course, they won’t acknowledge that Obama too is “conservative.”)

That video was called “Part 2” of Kemp’s propaganda-film about how heroic Ukraine’s nazis are. Here is “Episode 1” (or “Part 1,” as alternatively tagged). Most of it is actually the same video and text, except organized differently (placing the emphasis upon the failure of the post-coup Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to be sufficiently nazi to satisfy these ‘patriots’).

Here is a bit of the relevant historical background that Murdoch’s operation decided to hide from both versions:“The Nazis Even Hitler Was Afraid Of.”

And here is the current geopolitical context of Obama’s February 2014 take-over of Ukraine.

Ironically, the view that the rightist oligarch Murdoch is spreading — that Putin is the aggressor in this war and that Obama is not — is exactly the same view that the leftist oligarch George Soros is spreading about it. In fact (as can be seen from Soros’s many statements and actions there), both of those Western oligarchs are remarkably similar, and Soros could as well have hired the people who hired Ross Kemp as Murdoch did. Kemp’s ‘documentary’ is 100% in line with Soros’s many essays about the situation in Ukraine. The biggest difference between these two aristocrats is that they’re in different lines of business — different rackets. (Here is a partial list of the companies that Murdoch controls. Soros is instead an investor and a ‘philanthropist.’)

DISCUSSION

When ‘right’ and ‘left’ merge and become one, at nazi (i.e., racist-fascist), such as does occur in the top aristocratic circle (especially regarding Ukraine), then what authentic meaning remains to standard political debate? What does the public then know of ‘democracy’? How is democracy then even possible? It’s not. (And that linked-to scientific study, specifically of the U.S., proves that the U.S. is not a democracy. But this problem is far broader thanmerely the U.S.)

Perhaps wealth-inequality is getting to be so extreme as to close out even the possibility of democracy. Let’s not fool ourselves about how big the challenge is; it’s enormous:

On 9 October 2013, Credit Suisse issued their Global Wealth Report 2013, authored by Anthony Shorrocks, Jim Davies, and Rodrigo Lluberasis. It reported that the world’s richest 0.7% owned 13.67 times as much as did the world’s poorest 68.7%. That super-rich 0.7% (each with net-worths above $50,000,000) owned 41% of this planet’s private assets. The world’s richest 8.4% owned 83.3%. The world’s richest 31.3% owned 97%. So: the bottom 68.7% owned just 3%. (All of these findings are calculated from the data shown on page 22.) Overall, the share of global wealth was “barely 1% for the bottom half of all adults” worldwide (see page 4). Furthermore, economic mobility into and out of the billionaire class, during the latest ten-year period (2000-2010), was low: only 24% entered or left the class during the decade (see page 28).

According to Vilfredo Pareto, who was the father of today’s ‘welfare’ economics and also the “Karl Marx of fascism” (and also Benito Mussolini’s personal teacher), there is no rational basis for economists to consider any of this extreme wealth-inequality to be sub-“optimal.”

No wonder aristocrats favor such a ‘free market’ (and such an economic theory).

But it won’t do Ukrainians any good, and it’s slaughtering the people in Donbass. However, any of that richest 0.7% who care enough, one way or the other, about what’s happening there, are promoting the nazis, who are doing those aristocrats’ dirty-work, regardless of whether nazi bigots are aware of the fact, or even care whom they’re actually serving, or why. Any of those nazis who are in the bottom 68.7% of the world’s wealth-pyramid — the people who collectively own just 3% of the world’s private wealth — are probably driven more by their hatred than by their greed, anyway. They’re like sleepwalkers, or robots. Push their psychological buttons, and they’re on, “for the cause.” True-believers, in some Big Lie or other. And, so, they ‘volunteer’ their services far cheaper than do people who actually care. (Most of their payment comes to them in the form of the personal pride they get, for their race and nation. It doesn’t come out of any aristocrat’s hide.) In that sense, they value themselves appropriately: dirt-cheap. (Of course, they don’t understand this.) They’re a bargain for their unrecognized masters, who push true-believers’ buttons by hiring propagandists such as Ross Kemp.

But, as for the residents in Donbass: these people are total victims in all of this.

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

Corporate Media Propaganda and CIA Covert Ops

January 30th, 2015 by Robert Parry

Rupert Murdoch, the global media mogul who is now a kingmaker in American politics, was brought into those power circles by lawyer/activist Roy Cohn who arranged Murdoch’s first Oval Office meeting with President Ronald Reagan in 1983, according to documents released by Reagan’s presidential library.

“I had one interest when Tom [Bolan] and I first brought Rupert Murdoch and Governor Reagan together – and that was that at least one major publisher in this country … would become and remain pro-Reagan,” Cohn wrote in a Jan. 27, 1983 letter to senior White House aides Edwin Meese, James Baker and Michael Deaver. “Mr. Murdoch has performed to the limit up through and including today.”

The letter noted that Murdoch then owned the “New York Post – over one million, third largest and largest afternoon; New York Magazine; Village Voice; San Antonio Express; Houston Ring papers; and now the Boston Herald; and internationally influential London Times, etc.” Cohn sent the letter nine days after Murdoch met Reagan in the Oval Office along with Cohn, his legal partner Thomas Bolan, and U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick.

In a photograph of the Jan. 18, 1983 meeting, Cohn is shown standing and leaning toward Reagan who is seated next to Murdoch. Following that meeting, Murdoch became involved in a privately funded propaganda project to help sell Reagan’s hard-line Central American policies, according to other documents. That PR operation was overseen by senior CIA propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. and CIA Director William Casey, but the details of Murdoch’s role remain sketchy partly because some of the records are still classified more than three decades later.

President Reagan meets with publisher Rupert Murdoch, U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick and lawyers Roy Cohn and Thomas Bolan in the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

However, at my request, the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, released a batch of documents about Roy Cohn’s contacts with the Reagan White House. Most of the documents revealed a warm personal relationship between Cohn and Reagan, with exchanges of effusive compliments, handwritten thank-you notes and birthday greetings.

Both Cohn and Reagan got their starts in politics during the anti-communist purges in the 1950s, Cohn as Sen. Joe McCarthy’s chief counsel and Reagan as a witness against alleged communists in Hollywood. Cohn, a hardball political player, built his reputation as both an anti-communist and anti-gay crusader who aggressively interrogated witnesses during the Red Scare and the Lavender Scare, claiming that the U.S. government was infiltrated by communists and homosexuals who threatened the nation’s security.

Cohn’s high-profile role in the McCarthy hearings ultimately ended when he was forced to resign over charges that he targeted the U.S. Army for an anti-communist purge because it had refused to give preferential treatment to one of his close associates, G. David Shine. Though Cohn denied he was romantically involved with Shine – and a homosexual relationship was never proven – Cohn’s own homosexuality became publicly known after he underwent treatment for AIDS in the 1980s, leading to his death in 1986.

However, in the years before he died, Cohn gained some measure of revenge against his liberal enemies by helping to elect Ronald Reagan. Roger Stone, another Cohn associate, has asserted that – at Cohn’s initiative – he delivered an apparent bribe to a leader of New York’s Liberal Party in 1980 to arrange the endorsement of independent candidate John Anderson, who then siphoned off 7.5 percent of the vote and opened the way for Reagan to carry New York against President Jimmy Carter.

Stone described the transaction in a 2007 article by Matt Labash in The Weekly Standard, with Stone noting that he was speaking only after the statute of limitation on bribery had run. Stone described a discussion with Cohn about a $125,000 cash payment “to grease the skids” for the Liberal Party’s endorsement of Anderson and then recounted Cohn’s instructions that he deliver a suitcase to a law office two days before the Liberal Party, indeed, did endorse Anderson.

Cohn’s Murdoch Ties

Whatever Reagan’s personal knowledge of that scheme, the conservative Republican President subsequently lavished favors on Cohn, including invitations to White House events, personal thank-you notes and friendly birthday wishes. But perhaps nothing was more important to Reagan than Cohn’s ability to deliver Murdoch, then an Australian citizen, as a stalwart media ally.

According to the documents from the Reagan library, Cohn’s relationship with Murdoch apparently developed around their mutual commitment to Israel. For instance, one set of documents described Cohn’s intervention with Reagan to get the President to praise Murdoch’s 1982 receipt of an award from the American Jewish Congress as its first “Communications Man of the Year.”

Handwritten notes cite Murdoch’s “steadfast support of Israel + free + outspoken support of free press” and point to Cohn as the contact. On April 20, 1982, Reagan extended his and his wife Nancy’s congratulations to Murdoch.

Cohn, a notable socialite, further ingratiated himself to Reagan’s insiders by co-hosting a lunch on June 28, 1982, for USIA Director Wick, which also counted as guests Roger Stone and the New York Post’s Niles Lathem, according to a document.

By late 1982, the Reagan administration was gearing up for an expanded propaganda push in support of the President’s hard-line policies in Central America, including support for the Salvadoran and Guatemalan militaries – both notorious for their human rights violations – and for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels who also were gaining an unsavory reputation for acts of terrorism and brutality.

This PR campaign was spearheaded by CIA Director Casey and Raymond, one of the CIA’s top covert operation specialists who was transferred to the National Security Council staff to minimize legal concerns about the CIA violating its charter which bars influencing the American public. To further shield the CIA from possible fallout from this domestic propaganda operation, Casey and Raymond sought to arrange private financing to pay for some activities.

On Jan. 13, 1983, NSC Advisor William Clark noted in a memo to Reagan the need for non-governmental money to advance the PR project. “We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding,” Clark wrote, as cited in an unpublished draft chapter of the congressional Iran-Contra investigation. Clark then told the President that “Charlie Wick has offered to take the lead. We may have to call on you to meet with a group of potential donors.”

Five days later, on Jan. 18, 1983, Roy Cohn accompanied Rupert Murdoch into the Oval Office for a face-to-face meeting with President Reagan and USIA Director Wick.

Nine days later, in the Jan. 27, 1983 letter to Meese, Baker and Deaver – written on the letterhead of the Saxe, Bacon & Bolan law firm – Cohn hailed the success of Murdoch’s “warm meeting with the President and the goodwill created by Charlie Wick’s dinner.”

Murdoch’s Thin Skin

But Cohn also passed on Murdoch’s annoyance at “consistent slights that have been dealt to Niles Lathem, the head of the News Media (Murdoch) bureau in Washington, while the Reagan haters on TV and in the media have the run of the place.”

Cohn complained that Reagan, during a trip to Boston on Jan. 26, 1983, had ignored Murdoch’s offer

“to turn the Boston Herald over to him. … Mr. Murdoch himself placed calls to Michael Deaver and to a Mr. Michael McManus [a deputy assistant to the President], none of which were ever returned to him. One of his editors at the Boston Herald was told that the President ‘had no time for them.’”

Cohn continued:

“Mr. Murdoch has been deeply disturbed at what he regards as a failure to stand by some basics in the President’s original program, which he believes to be correct. His advice is consistently sought by Mrs. [British Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher and Prime Minister [Malcolm] Fraser of Australia, in both of which countries he owns extensive media interests. he is not the kind who is offended when his advice is not taken but he does appreciate being treated courteously and having at least the same courtesies extended to his Washington reporters as seem to be heaped upon the opposition.

“He is hurt at the way the Boston matter was handled and there is just so much that Tom [Bolan] and I can do. Because I believe that the total support and loyalty of at least one major publishing chain in this nation is of key importance to the President, and because of our admiration and affection for the President, I thought I would be less than forthright if I did not bring this situation to the attention of the three of you.

“I know how hectic things are there but if there is time for the enemy there must be just a little time for at least a thoughtful handling of a friend – unlike what happened in Boston.”

The letter got the attention of the three senior White House aides, with Reagan’s chief of staff Baker writing a note to Deaver, “why don’t we have someone draft a response from the 3 of us. Can you arrange?”

On Feb. 4, 1983, McManus, the deputy assistant to the President, offered an apology to Cohn:

“we were all sorry about the confusion surrounding a possible Presidential visit to the Boston Herald. We are all aware of the very positive nature of such a visit. Unfortunately the request came in after the visit had been planned and the President’s schedule was full. …

“I also called Mr. Murdoch as you suggested, explained the situation to him and apologized for any confusion. I am sure you are aware of our continued high regard for Mr. Murdoch personally and our appreciation of the importance of what he is doing.”

Despite the fulsome apology, Cohn continued to complain about perceived slights against Murdoch’s publications. In an April 28, 1983 letter, Cohn told Wick:

“I write you in desperation, because you have always recognized the importance to the President of Rupert Murdoch, probably the world’s most powerful publisher, whose papers played a key role in carrying close states for Ronald Reagan in 1980 … But all of our hard work to get the Murdoch papers an even break with those that opposed Reagan – some in vicious terms – comes to naught – because there are some people in the White House who don’t have the sense to know friends from enemies.”

Cohn expressed Murdoch’s dismay that Reagan, during a speech in New York, seemed to favor the New York Daily News over the New York Post, saying

“in remarks prepared for and delivered by the President not once but twice … the President asked people to follow the fight against crime by reading the Daily News. The Post people walked out. … The News supported [George H.W.] Bush over Reagan, and then barely squeaked out an endorsement over Carter as the lesser of evils. The Post and the other Murdoch papers gave their blood on a daily basis for Ronald Reagan, and I know Bill Casey, Roger Stone, Tom Bolan, etc. will confirm that without the Post, Reagan could not have carried New York. …

“To say that all the good you tried to do, and I tried to do, and the President did in his meeting with Rupert has been severely damaged by this second insult, is an understatement. As of now, tempers are so hot that I would wait for things to cool off. … I believe in Ronald Reagan – and it hurts me to see him victimized this way from within. How many of these screw-ups can he survive?”

In a May 2, 1983 addendum to the complaint, Cohn added:

“The lead News opinion column every Sunday is written by Ken Auletta, a consistent attacker of the President, and the one who just spearheaded the drive against Ken Adelman’s confirmation, carrying it to the point of personally appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to call Ken a liar. With friends like the News, the President does not need enemies.”

On the same day that Cohn fired off the complaint about Auletta, Murdoch served as an honorary chairman of a testimonial dinner in honor of Cohn sponsored by the B’nai B’rith Banking and Finance Lodge and the Banking and Finance Division of State of Israel Bonds. President Reagan sent a congratulatory telegram to Cohn.

Propaganda Campaign

Despite Cohn’s complaints about the alleged slights to Murdoch, the Australian media magnate appears to have pitched in to help the Casey-Raymond outreach program for Reagan’s Central American policies. Documents released during the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987 and later from the Reagan library indicate that Murdoch was soon viewed as a source for the private funding.

On May 20, 1983, the longtime CIA propagandist Raymond, from his perch inside the NSC, wrote that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House situation room by USIA Director Wick, with the funds divided among several organizations including the right-wing Accuracy in Media and the neoconservative Freedom House (which later denied receiving White House money, though it made little sense that Raymond would lie in an internal memo).

As the White House continued to cultivate its ties to Murdoch, Reagan held a second Oval Office meeting with Murdoch — on July 7, 1983 — who was accompanied by Charles Douglas-Home, the editor of Murdoch’s flagship UK newspaper, the London Times.

President Ronald Reagan meets with Charles Douglas-Home, editor of London Times, and its publisher Rupert Murdoch in the Oval Office on July 7, 1983. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo summing up the results of a Casey-organized meeting with five leading ad executives regarding how to “sell” Reagan’s aggressive policies in Central America, Raymond referred to Murdoch as if he were one of the benefactors helping out. In a memo to Clark, entitled “Private Sector Support for Central American Program,” Raymond criticized a more traditional White House outreach program headed by Faith Whittlesey as “preaching to the converted.”

Raymond told Clark that the new project would involve a more comprehensive approach aimed at persuading a majority of Americans to back Reagan’s Central American policies. “We must move out into the middle sector of the American public and draw them into the ‘support’ column,” Raymond wrote. “A second package of proposals deal with means to market the issue, largely considering steps utilizing public relations specialists – or similar professionals – to help transmit the message.”

To improve the project’s chances for success, Raymond wrote, “we recommended funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center. Wick, via Murdoch, may be able to draw down added funds for this effort.”

Raymond included similar information in a separate memo to Wick in which Raymond noted that “via Murdock [sic] may be able to draw down added funds” to support the initiative. (Raymond later told me that he was referring to Rupert Murdoch.)

In a March 7, 1984 memo about the “‘Private Funders’ Project,” Raymond referred to Murdoch again in discussing a request for money from longtime CIA-connected journalist Brian Crozier, who was “looking for private sector funding to work on the question of ‘anti-Americanism’ overseas.”

Raymond wrote:

“I am pursuaded [sic] it is a significant long term problem. It is also the kind of thing that Ruppert [sic] and Jimmy might respond positively to. Please look over the stack [of papers from Crozier] and lets [sic] discuss if and when there might be further discussion with our friends.”

Crozier, who died in 2012, had a long history of operating in the shadowy world of CIA propaganda. He was director of Forum World Features, which was set up in 1966 by the Congress for Cultural Freedom, which received covert funding from the CIA. Crozier also acknowledged in his memoir keeping some of his best stories for the CIA.

At least one other document related to Murdoch’s work with USIA Director Wick remains classified, according to the National Archives. Murdoch’s News Corp. has not responded to several requests for comment about the Reagan-era documents.

According to the new documents released by the Reagan library, Reagan and Cohn continued to exchange mutual praise, sometimes in handwritten messages. On March 28, 1985, Cohn sent Reagan a handwritten letter thanking the President for contributing a video tribute in support of Cohn’s receipt of the Americanism Award from the Young Republicans.

“I count many blessings, but none more meaningful than the privilege of living through the Ronald Reagan era – which represents everything I have loved since I joined the Justice Department at age 19 – our great country, and the opportunity it offers for the election of a man of your greatness to lead it.”

In his own hand, Reagan drafted the reply, writing: “I know I’m sending a thank you in answer to a thank you but in this case it’s to express to you appreciation for your generous words. You were more than kind.”

The last dated communication from Reagan to Cohn in the files was a “Get-Well message” on Nov. 22, 1985, saying: “I just learned that you are being sent home from the hospital tomorrow. Nancy and I are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. May our Lord bless you with courage and strength. Take care and know that you have our concern.”

At the time, Cohn was suffering from AIDS, though he claimed that his illness was liver cancer. He died on Aug. 2, 1986, due to complications from AIDS, the disease that was then ravaging the gay community in the United States and other countries. He was 59.

Among the ironies of his death was Cohn’s history of purging gays and Lesbians from the U.S. government as security risks, a policy put in place by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 in response to the Lavender Scare generated by Cohn and McCarthy – and not rescinded until 1995 by President Bill Clinton. Another irony was that President Reagan, when faced with the devastating AIDS epidemic, failed to respond aggressively to the crisis because many religious conservatives considered the disease God’s punishment of homosexuals.

Murdoch’s Rise

Meanwhile, with the close ties to the Reagan White House that Cohn helped nurture, Murdoch’s media empire continued to grow. To meet a regulatory requirement that U.S. TV stations must be owned by Americans, Murdoch became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1985.

Murdoch benefited from the Reagan administration’s relaxation of media ownership rules which enabled him to buy more TV stations, which he then molded into the Fox Broadcasting Company, which was founded on Oct. 9, 1986.

In 1987, the “Fairness Doctrine,” which required political balance in broadcasting, was eliminated, which let Murdoch pioneer a more aggressive conservatism on his TV network. In the mid-1990s, Murdoch expanded his political reach by founding the neoconservative Weekly Standard in 1995 and Fox News on cable in 1996. At Fox News, Murdoch hired scores of prominent politicians, mostly Republicans, putting them on his payroll as commentators.

Last decade, Murdoch continued to expand his reach into U.S. mass media, acquiring DirecTV and the financial news giant Dow Jones, including The Wall Street Journal, America’s leading business news journal.

Murdoch parlayed his extraordinary media power into the ability to make or break political leaders, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom. In December 2014, the UK’s Independent reported that Ed Richards, the retiring head of the British media regulatory agency Ofcom, accused British government representatives of showing favoritism to Murdoch’s companies.

Richards said he was “surprised” by the informality, closeness and frequency of contact between executives and ministers during the failed bid by Murdoch’s News Corp. for the satellite network BSkyB in 2011. The deal was abandoned when it was discovered that journalists at Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid had hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and others.

“What surprised everyone about it – not just me – was quite how close it was and the informality of it,” Richards said, confirming what had been widely reported regarding Murdoch’s access to powerful British politicians dating back at least to the reign of Prime Minister Thatcher in the 1980s. The Reagan documents suggest that Murdoch built similarly close ties to leading U.S. politicians in the same era.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Murdoch, now 83, was using his extraordinary media power among conservatives to block Mitt Romney from gaining the Republican presidential nomination for a second time — and instead was favoring Jeb Bush.

“In the delicate and unseen campaign underway for Mr. Murdoch’s affections in the next presidential campaign, this much is clear: Mr. Romney is out of the running, a reality that has pained and angered his allies,” the Times reported.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Poder popular, Estado y luchas sociales

January 30th, 2015 by Franck Gaudichaud

Esta entrevista es una contribución a un libro colectivo por publicarse en 2015 sobre “Movimientos sociales y poder popular en Chile. Retrospectivas y proyecciones políticas de la izquierda latinoamericana”, un trabajo realizado en conjunto entre el Grupo de Estudios Sociales y Políticos – Chile (GESP), de la Universidad de Santiago – USACH y Tiempo robado editoras.

En esta segunda parte de la entrevista, Franck Gaudichaud -uno de los artífices del portal Rebelión [1]- efectua un repaso sobre las acepciones y usos del concepto de poder popular, las distintas experiencias históricas latinoamericanas que le dieron carnadura y el carácter inescindible que asumen en los procesos emancipatorios de nuestro continente las nociones de clase/género/etnia/colonialidad. Además, el autor de El volcán latinoamericano habla de evitar en los debates de las izquierdas la dicotomía entre movimientos sin organización política ni programa, y la defensa acrítica de la razón de Estado, teniendo presente que son necesarias herramientas políticas y estrategias concretas de transición global. “América Latina y sus resistencias son el continente laboratorio de la construcción de alternativas para el siglo XXI” afirma.

22 de enero de 2015

Seguel [2]: Entendiendo que el concepto de poder popular se instala en el imaginario latinoamericano desde los sesenta en distintos contextos y que, en ese marco, se han realizado diferentes usos por parte de los movimientos sociales y las organizaciones políticas, ¿qué elementos a tu juicio son fundamentales para una aproximación al concepto de poder popular en base a las experiencias latinoamericanas? ¿Qué elementos son los centrales para entender esta idea, noción, teoría del poder popular que se ha venido levantando en América Latina hace más de cuarenta años?

Gaudichaud : Por cierto, como bien mencionaste, es una noción heterogénea que no tiene una sola definición. Su flexibilidad es su fuerza y también su debilidad, ya que hay que adaptarla a cada proceso real para entenderla de manera plena. En un libro colectivo sobre poder popular coordinado por Miguel Mazzeo, el politólogo Hernán Ouviña destaca el peligro de la “palabra murciélago” (concepto del italiano Vilfredo Pareto) en que se podría transformar la noción de poder popular: una palabra en la cual caben tanto pájaros como roedores… ¡Aunque a mí, personalmente, me gustan tanto los pájaros como los roedores, que son los de abajo y, como el “viejo topo” de Marx o lo que Bensaïd llamaría “ la sonrisa del fantasma del comunismo” , son capaces de socavar el orden dominante! Ahora bien, hablar de poder popular tiene muchas aristas y varias lecturas, desde las corrientes anarquistas, libertarias hasta las marxistas ortodoxas, pasando por las marxistas heterodoxas, etc. Por ejemplo, algunos grupos anarquistas dicen “el poder popular sigue siendo una noción estadocéntrica, entonces no nos conviene”. Para mí, la noción de poder popular se refiere a esa irrupción del movimiento obrero y popular, a las movilizaciones de los dominad@s, explotad@s y subaltern@s organizados en un contexto capitalista-patriarcal hegemónico, que desde su posición subalterna y con su fuerza de movilización disruptiva, logran comenzar a crear espacios de poder propio, autónomo y subversivo del orden social imperante. Este poder puede ser un poder local, comunal, regional, hasta lograr ser un poder territorial-dual nacional que cuestiona la legitimidad y el monopolio de la violencia del propio Estado. Pero para su concreción necesita desarrollarse desde sujetos reales y sobre todo desde espacios económicos: por esta razón, las experiencias de poder popular cobran particular fuerza revolucionaria cuando surgen desde el asalariado y los trabajadores, ya que sus resistencias amenazan directamente la reproducción y acumulación del capital. En Chile, la praxis paradigmática ha sido la de los Cordones Industriales, que lograron tomar en parte -y de manera transitoria- el control del aparato de producción en el seno de la turbulenta “vía chilena al socialismo” (1970-1973). Actualmente, en Argentina y Brasil, hay decenas de empresas recuperadas y algunas bajo control obrero. Son formas de lo que llamo poder popular constituyente clasista. Por otra parte, la importancia de nuevas luchas obreras y sindicales en varios países demuestra que el sindicalismo sigue vivo e incluso está recobrando colores: veamos las fuertes luchas de asalariados en el último período en Argentina, acompañadas de la recomposición de la izquierda anticapitalista; o en Chile, con la acción decidida de los trabajadores subcontratados del cobre, de la Unión Portuaria o los conflictos en los supermercados.

No obstante, desde los años ‘90, la forma sindical está en receso y crisis (el caso de la COB boliviana es paradigmático) en todo el continente, a la par con la flexibilización-precarización-tercerización del trabajo. Querer encontrar hoy a la gloriosa clase obrera industrial de los ‘70, es una simple ilusión romántica o dogmática. Y por esta misma razón es muy importante comprender las nuevas dinámicas de luchas y nuevas formas de organización horizontal-territorial y comunitarias, gracias -en gran medida- al impulso de los movimientos indígenas. El poder popular constituyente surge así también desde el espacio territorial o barrial, en torno a los pobres del campo y de la ciudad y a las comunidades originarias en resistencia. En el último período, ha sido muy potente esta fuerza de los territorios urbanos periféricos o comunas campesinas indígenas, donde se efectúa una (re)apropiación de los espacios de vida, generando un contrapoder colectivo frente al poder constituido de multinacionales extractivas, del Estado neocolonial, del patrón de fundo, del alcalde incluso el gobernador, etc. Este contrapoder progresivamente se transforma en apropiación social democrática, reivindicando la horizontalidad de la democracia, la lucha contra el patriarcado, el derecho a la ciudad, nuevas formas de producción agrícolas, etc. Podemos pensar en la comuna de Oaxaca (México) en 2006: para mí fue una experiencia clave si hablamos de poder popular en siglo XXI, porque ahí se afirmó un nivel de democracia desde abajo, popular-indígena y sindical excepcional, seguramente la primera Comuna de nuestro siglo, un poco como lo fue la de París a fines del siglo XIX. Interesantes son también los Consejos Comunales en Venezuela, como expresión del poder popular local que tienen mayor potencialidad cuando se ligan al movimiento sindical u obrero. En el Cauca colombiano, se desarrolla una experiencia indígena original, con rotación de mando, control de la producción, de la alimentación y agroecología: un biopoder alternativo, una potencia constitutiva hecha de autogestión, autoorganización, con capacidad de controlar sus propias vidas, alimentarse, sin depender de las instituciones de arriba… Podríamos hablar también de Chiapas y del neozapatismo, utopía concreta esencial de nuestros días o de la resistencia de Conga en Perú frente a la multinacional Yanacocha. Son muchas las experiencias y eso nos permite cierto optimismo para el futuro. No obstante, ninguna de esas experiencias puede evadir la discusión estratégica sobre cómo ese poder popular constituyente local construye también capacidad de cambiar la sociedad y proponer un proyecto-país alternativo anticapitalista.

Seguel : ¿O sea que para tí, necesariamente una noción de poder popular si se ancla solamente a una experiencia local y regional no se sostiene en el tiempo, si no se plantea una tarea de disputa de la hegemonía en el marco nacional?

Gaudichaud : O sea, a veces se sostiene durante décadas incluso. Hay varias prácticas muy ricas de poder popular comunitario que se deben valorar y creo que una de las más emblemáticas en América Latina, sigue siendo la de los zapatistas que acaban de conmemorar sus veinte años de resistencia a una escala territorial importante. Han demostrado que sí se puede terminar con formas de organización autoritarias y construir otras formas de vida, defender los bienes comunes desde la comunidad y las subjetividades indígenas, con una visión y práctica del poder más respetuosa, más democrática en el sentido real y subversivo de la democracia -como bien lo dice Jacques Rancière-. Es decir más horizontal, con rotación de mando, control de la base social sobre sus dirigentes, con “consejos de buen gobierno”, etc. Pero, no por eso la situación social y política en el resto de México ha mejorado: de hecho, se sigue degradando, la pobreza, la explotación del trabajo y la violencia aumentan. El narcoestado mexicano implica niveles de descomposición social tales que ha sido posible desaparecer 43 estudiantes en Iguala en toda impunidad y con la colaboración del alcalde del Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) (¡centro-izquierda!). Y eso es solo la parte visible del problema, cuando son decenas de miles los asesinatos y las desapariciones en los últimos 5 años: una verdadera guerra interna. Por eso, la importancia y urgencia de la discusión estratégica sobre el tema de cómo “cambiar el mundo” tomando colectivamente el poder y por dónde empezar…

Algunos, desde el marxismo piensan que es una disputa sobre los “sujetos revolucionarios” y la búsqueda de la “contradicción principal”. Por ejemplo en Chile, he escuchado debates sobre poder popular versus poder obrero, insistiendo en la centralidad insoslayable de la lucha de la clase obrera. Pienso que es necesario restaurar un pensamiento dialéctico y comprender que el concepto de poder popular abarca la noción de poder obrero, la contiene, siendo más amplio. Personalmente, asumo plenamente que en ningún caso podemos pretender disolver las contradicciones de clases y el papel central del sujeto-trabajo con la constitución de formas de poder popular: si el poder popular pretende al anticapitalismo, entonces tendrá que articularse en torno a las luchas de l@s que viven la dominación del capital. Históricamente, en Chile, el movimiento obrero industrial ha sido la cuna de algunas de las formas más avanzadas de poder popular, con el surgimiento fugaz pero esencial de los Cordones Industriales en 1972-1973. Los Cordones buscaron alianza con los pobladores, con los estudiantes y otros sectores de asalariados. Cuarenta años después, volvamos a discutir sobre las alianzas estratégicas que se tienen que articular para conformar un bloque clasista popular contrahegemónico, pero a la luz de las formaciones sociales actuales. Es decir, dejando atrás una visión heroica, un poco fantaseada de la clase obrera industrial, como si el asalariado no se hubiese transformado profundamente en décadas de shock neoliberal. Por ejemplo, hoy en Argentina, varias experiencias de autogestión nacen de los movimientos de trabajadores desocupados, fuera de la fábrica, como también a partir de una nueva generación de la clase obrera, más escolarizada como se ve en la “fábrica sin patrón” de Neuquén (FASINPAT) exZanón. Asumiendo también la existencia de la “diagonal” del conflicto social que no se resume al trabajo: conflicto de género y con el patriarcado, conflicto medioambiental y frente a la destrucción de la naturaleza, conflictos étnicos y a favor de la autodeterminación de los pueblos, etc. Como ya lo escribía el historiador chileno Luis Vitale hace 30 años, todavía los marxismos latinoamericanos deben asumir tres desafíos insuficientemente integrados: el feminismo, la colonialidad y la crisis ecológica . Y por esta razón, el pensamiento crítico debe saber interrelacionar y enlazar las diferentes opresiones de manera didáctica:

Etnia-clase-sexo-colonialismo constituyen en América Latina partes interrelacionadas de una totalidad dependiente que no puede escindirse, a riesgo de parcelar el conocimiento de la realidad y la praxis social, como si por ejemplo las luchas de la mujer por su emancipación estuvieran desligadas del movimiento ecologista, indígena, clasista y antiimperialista y viceversa (Vitale, 1983).

Seguel : Entendiendo que la referencia al poder popular en América Latina depende mucho de los contextos, sé que hay varias experiencias en las que se ha utilizado la noción de poder popular como un elemento central en la construcción de los distintos proyectos. Me refiero por ejemplo, a la utilización que hoy hacen en Venezuela y Cuba o, en otro contexto, en la organización argentina Frente Popular Darío Santillán, en el Congreso de los Pueblos en Colombia o, por último, la referencia que se hace en el campo de la cultura mirista en Chile o en la cultura militante del PRT-ERP en Argentina. ¿Qué es lo que crees que incide en que se acuñen nociones que, en torno a un mismo concepto, articulen prácticas políticas tan antagónicas, como por ejemplo en el MIR o en el PRT-ERP?


Desde una concepción centrada en una idea más clásica de dualidad de poderes, hasta una concepción de democracia participativa, que es lo que se está construyendo en el proyecto de los Consejos Comunales en Venezuela o el Estado Popular que se consolidó a finales de los setenta en Cuba ¿Qué es lo que lleva a que en torno a un mismo concepto se acuñen praxis políticas tan distintas?

Gaudichaud : Bueno, con tu pregunta tenemos confirmación que la reubicación del poder popular puede ser muy amplia y flexible, como lo puede ser la noción de democracia, de revolución, de libertad o de muchos otros elementos centrales de la política. Este concepto es potente, pero requiere de discusión y sobre todo de definición. Entiendo que la noción de poder popular en Cuba es una herencia de la revolución de 1959 pero hoy en día, ante todo, se transformó en una retórica muy institucionalizada, que se usa desde un partido-Estado único que deja poco margen a la pluralidad y a las diferencias políticas desde la revolución, si no se expresan de manera interna al partido y en forma subterránea. Es decir, es sumamente diferente a la noción de poder popular que se expresa en el Frente Popular Darío Santillán argentino, un movimiento autonomista territorial que rechaza globalmente la figura del Estado, que reivindica la autogestión desde el movimiento de trabajadores desocupados para crear un referente político mucho más libertario… y que, a diferencia del castrismo, ¡no enfrenta el bloqueo criminal de EEUU o la gestión diaria de un pequeño Estado muy pobre del Caribe!

En el caso de las experiencias históricas que citaste, es cierto que en Chile, el MIR fue la organización que más reivindicó y desarrolló teóricamente la noción de poder popular. Famoso es su grito callejero: “¡Crear, crear, poder popular!”. Durante la Unidad Popular en particular, el movimiento dirigido por Miguel Enríquez intentó colocar esta reivindicación en marcha desde los espacios donde se movía, en particular en el movimiento de pobladores y en un campamento como “Nueva La Habana”, que fue una experiencia muy interesante de poder popular local. Pero siempre hay que comparar discurso y praxis, reivindicación teórica y acción político-social. Y para el MIR, hubo siempre una tensión entre una organización que seguía siendo muy vertical, con grupos políticos-militares y los llamados a “crear poder popular”, a desarrollar los Comandos Comunales. El MIR era marxista y asumía la teoría de la dualización de poder, en términos leninistas, pero carecía de una inserción masiva en el movimiento obrero-sindical: asumiendo cierto niveles de pragmatismo inmediato, el MIR le dio la prioridad a la noción más amplia de Comando Comunal, perdiendo de vista que en ese momento, frente a las asonadas de la burguesía chilena, urgía darle prioridad al verdadero germen de poder dual o constituyente que, en ese instante de la revolución chilena, eran los Cordones Industriales. En el PRT-ERP argentino hay también rasgos que se vinculan a la noción de Guerra Popular Prolongada, es decir un aspecto político-militar central, y una mezcla de marxismo teórico a veces abstracto con fuertes rasgos de pragmatismo (como lo ha demostrado el historiador Pablo Pozzi) lo que, en períodos prerrevolucionarios, choca con los elementos de mayor participación, horizontalidad, masividad y con lo que el historiador Peter Winn denominó “revolución desde abajo”. Una de las lecciones que se pueden sacar, es la necesidad de considerar los elementos político-militares o de autodefensa como parte integrante de los procesos de autogestión y autoorganización, y a su servicio. No como un aparato militante “profesional”, exterior a la clase o al movimiento popular. Evidentemente, la dificultad es cómo organizarse de esta manera cuando el Estado tiende a reprimir enseguida todas las formas de autodefensa.

En Venezuela -proceso “pacífico pero armado” como bien lo decía Hugo Chávez-, actualmente tenemos una reivindicación muy presente sobre el poder popular por parte del gobierno bolivariano, de hecho, ¡todos los ministerios son “del poder popular”! En quince años de “revolución bolivariana” también se crearon espacios originales de participación democrática como los que ya mencioné, en particular los Consejos Comunales. En un país donde los movimientos sociales eran débiles, aunque muy explosivos como sucedió durante el Caracazo de 1989, se intentó institucionalizar formas de participación originales, como fueron los Círculos Bolivarianos, los Consejos de Tierra Urbana, los Consejos Comunales. He ido varias veces a Venezuela en los últimos años y pienso que la “batalla de Caracas” -como lo dice Atilio Borón- tiene una importancia clave en el ajedrez continental. Pude participar en reuniones de Consejos Comunales en barrios populares de la capital y leer varios estudios universitarios serios sobre el tema. Sin duda, son realidades complejas, pues algunos Consejos funcionan de manera fenomenal, realmente democrática, y otros son cooptados por pequeños grupos poco representativos. Por lo general, permiten efectivamente mejorar la situación concreta de la gente, empoderar a los habitantes pobres, discutir de los problemas del barrio y gestionar un presupuesto participativo público. El límite de estos organismos es que son espacios muy acotados, un poder participativo dependiente del Estado y, en particular, de la Presidencia, que otorga el presupuesto y delimita los poderes del Consejo, su territorio, sus normas. Se trata de un embrión de poder popular local, impulsado principalmente desde “arriba”, gracias a una relación estrecha entre el pueblo bolivariano y el líder carismático que fue Hugo Chávez. Es decir, de nuevo encontramos la tensión entre el “poder constituyente” y los poderes constituidos, pero no precisamente en el sentido desarrollado por Gabriel Salazar, pues el historiador chileno centra esta discusión sobre aspectos como la “construcción del Estado por el pueblo junto al mercado y a la sociedad civil”. La visión de Salazar me parece que, en primer lugar, sobrevalora lo social por sobre lo político (afirma que el movimiento social-ciudadano podría ser por sí mismo una alternativa al sistema institucional dominante, sin evaluar la problemática de la organización política) y, en segundo lugar, es engañosa, porque el Premio nacional de historia escribe sobre la necesidad de dejar de pensar en términos de lucha de clases (resumida a una lucha económica). Visto de esta manera, el poder constituyente parece cristalizarse como una praxis -desde abajo- de un conjunto de diversos sectores sociales corporativizados: pobladores, intelectuales, trabajadores, empresarios, ciudadanos, constituyendo Estado y mercado… Me parecen interesantes sus reflexiones sobre la memoria social del pueblo, su rescate de experiencias como la Asamblea Constituyente de Asalariados e Intelectuales de 1925 o sus críticas hacia el vanguardismo político y a las izquierdas parlamentarias. Pero no quita que -para mí- la esencia disruptiva de lo que denomino poder popular constituyente, no se puede resumir en tentativas de escribir nuevas constituciones o incluso construir Estado; y sobre todo, tiene como carburante y motor a las clases sociales y sus luchas, es decir, no una imaginaria y ahistórica elaboración del conjunto de asalariados, sociedad civil y empresarios, diluyendo los conflictos fundantes de la sociedad.


Seguel : A medida que me ibas contando tu análisis sobre poder popular, alcancé a puntualizar algunas tensiones. Por una parte, una tensión entre forma y fondo, que señalabas en el caso del MIR, en el que se reivindica un fondo que es democrático, pero cuya práctica política específica es contradictoria por el modo en cómo se relaciona la herramienta política, es decir el partido, con el movimiento de masas. Otra tensión, era entre lo local y lo nacional, en el sentido que experiencias concretas tienden a veces a aislarse de los contextos nacionales y se generan problemas en los campos de la representación y alcance de las mismas. Y la otra que es algo que el vicepresidente y sociólogo Álvaro García Linera señala como las “tensiones creativas de la revolución boliviana”, o sea tensión entre poderes constituyentes y poderes constituidos. ¿Crees que esos tres elementos podrían explicarnos las diferencias entre las diversas orientaciones que, hoy en día, el poder popular presenta en América Latina o le agregarías otros referentes?

Gaudichaud : Yo creo que esas tres son fundamentales, pero justamente pensando en García Linera en Bolivia y en Salazar en Chile, quiero insistir de nuevo, en que el debate sobre el poder popular se inscribe en la discusión estratégica sobre relaciones y modo de producción, modelo de acumulación y escenario anticapitalista. Si no, el riesgo es de vaciar esa capacidad de transformación que representa la reivindicación de poder popular constituyente. Es decir, ¿seguimos –o no- con la perspectiva de la transformación de las relaciones sociales de producción? ¿Queremos insertar la dinámica del poder popular en la capacidad del trabajador, del estudiante, de la mujer indígena, del campesino afrodescendiente y de todos los sectores subalternos, de tomar en sus manos el poder y ejercerlo democráticamente? Hoy, García Linera -un intelectual sin lugar a dudas brillante- por su posición actual, se sitúa más desde el poder constituido estatal que desde la construcción del poder comunal y sindical, que ha defendido como sociólogo marxista heterodoxo en el grupo Comuna (un grupo de intelectuales bolivianos muy interesante). Asistí, hace poco, a su conferencia en el ex Congreso en Santiago: era el discurso del Linera estadista, gobernante, reivindicando al Estado como arte y forma suprema de la política. De hecho, lo dijo varias veces. A diferencia de sus escritos sobre luchas sindicales e indígenas, sobre la forma sindical y la forma comuna, defendió al Estado (pluri)nacional-popular boliviano y al capitalismo ando-amazónico por sobre la noción de conflicto de clase y conquista del poscapitalismo.


Seguel : En ese sentido, si tomáramos la forma en cómo se refiere el teórico argentino, Miguel Mazzeo, al poder popular, podríamos señalar que este se constituye como una praxis política performativa, en el sentido que las formas que tenemos de nombrar al poder popular y de materializarlo, anticipan el fondo o fin de la construcción de la sociedad del mañana, en este caso anticapitalista y socialista.


Gaudichaud : 
Creo que eso es muy importante y que tal vez en la izquierda marxista o revolucionaria, lo hemos olvidado o no supimos siempre practicarlo. Hoy se puede recuperar el “principio esperanza” de Ernst Bloch y reivindicar el concepto de “utopía concreta”: necesitamos demostrar desde la praxis, no sólo anunciar, teorizar o marchar en las calles. El desafío es señalar hoy lo que podemos comenzar a construir mañana a otras escalas. Y por eso la importancia de la ocupación de fábricas, la experiencia de Zanón y muchas otras, probar que sí, los trabajadores pueden ocupar la fábrica y ejercer democráticamente la producción. Enarbolar con los zapatistas en Chiapas que podemos repeler al ejército y al mismo tiempo construir Caracoles, demostrar que podemos crear medios de comunicación alternativos y comunitarios, manifestar que como movimiento estudiantil podemos tomarnos espacios escolares y practicar educación popular, etc. Esas muestras concretas que a veces hemos menospreciado, porque no apuntaban a una experiencia inmediata de doble poder o de “toma del poder”, son fundamentales. Son “prefigurativas”: permiten que practiquemos, que erremos, que nos conozcamos, que veamos todas las dificultades que tenemos por delante, nuestras falencias, fuerzas y potencialidades colectivas. Son espacios que nos pueden servir para ir más allá, hacia luchas más globales contra el Estado, el capital, el imperialismo, el patriarcado. Por eso son muy interesantes las reflexiones de Miguel Mazzeo sobre el poder popular como fin y praxis, como camino y objetivo de la emancipación en construcción, es decir ya no desde una simple perspectiva “utilitarista” al servicio de una vanguardia de cuadros revolucionarios profesionales, ni tampoco encerrada en la impotencia relativa de micro-poderes localizados: un poder popular que se constituye desde abajo, desde la fábrica y la comunidad, la producción y el territorio, pero también que aspira a impugnar la hegemonía de los de arriba, su estado y leyes. Un pensamiento dialéctico entre lo de abajo y lo de arriba de la transformación social y de las luchas de clases es fundamental, puede parece muy básico si volvemos a leer los clásicos del marxismo y del pensamiento crítico, pero -en cierta medida- esa brújula política se ha perdido frente a las tiranías del autonomismo esencializado y a la visión gubernamentalista oficialista “progresista” que coexisten en las izquierdas latinoamericanas, como mundiales. Hay que evitar la dicotomía entre un movimiento de “indignad@s” sin organización política, ni programa versus la defensa acrítica de la razón de estado por funcionarios de ministerios y intelectuales orgánicos del social-liberalismo o progresismo “light”.

Seguel : Entonces, ¿qué relación tendrían las experiencias de poder popular con las expresiones institucionales? ¿Se plantean por fuera de la disputa de la institucionalidad, se relacionan con la institucionalidad?, ¿Son una forma de institucionalidad?, ¿Cómo relacionarías la noción de poder popular con estos elementos que veníamos señalando?

Gaudichaud : Es un debate que ha atravesado toda América Latina y horizontes europeos como el movimiento indignados o los Ocupa de Wall Street en EEUU. El debate sobre las herramientas: ¿partido o movimiento? y ¿qué tipo de movimiento? La discusión sobre el Estado también, ¡gran tema todavía! El debate sobre la violencia: ¿qué hacemos de las fuerzas armadas?, ¿cómo se ejerce la violencia de los de arriba pero también la autodefensa de los de abajo? Esto va de la mano con todo el intercambio de ideas que hubo en torno al poder y sus definiciones: una rica reflexión sobre la relación entre el “poder hacer” (potentia) y el “poder sobre” (potestas) que inauguran John Holloway, Raúl Zibechi y que también se dio en Francia, con Daniel Bensaïd, Michael Löwy, Philippe Corcuff y otros más en la revista Contretemps, como el de intelectuales que participan de la revista Herramienta bajo la dirección de Aldo Casas en Argentina, etc. [3]Son problemáticas estratégicas esenciales. Con una visión a veces fetichista de lo social y del zapatismo, Holloway afirma que hay que crear potentia y rechazar el potestas, que necesitamos crear rebeldías por fuera del Estado. En otro registro, Raúl Zibechi, basándose en la observación de luchas como las de El Alto en Bolivia o de la comuna de Oaxaca, ve más la necesidad de luchas por “los intersticios” del Estado y las “grietas” del sistema, para “disolverlo” o incluso “dispersarlo”. Este autor y militante de números colectivos populares tiene un acercamiento original y creativo sobre emancipaciones y resistencias en América Latina, rescatando la fuerza de la trilogía territorio-autogobierno-autonomía. También, en su análisis participativo de varios movimientos logra subrayar con claridad elementos e ideas-fuerzas comunes, entre los cuales: el arraigo territorial de los movimientos y el espacio en donde se crea comunidad; la autonomía como forma de organización frente a prácticas clientelares del Estado y de los partidos; el componente cultural y las identidades descolonizadoras de las luchas; el papel esencial de las mujeres y; la relación con la naturaleza y el medio ambiente. Pero, como Löwy y otros, creo que no basta pensar sólo desde las grietas del sistema o desde la posible “disolución” del Estado: toda política de emancipación debe y tiene que combinar potentia y potestas, “poder hacer” y “poder sobre”, movimientos sociales y formas de organizaciones políticas. Para controlar y poner en jaque a las fuerzas reaccionarias, hostiles al cambio, es indispensable organizarse, alcanzar niveles mínimos de institucionalización e incluso de violencia plebeya hacia los dominantes. Toda vida en sociedad tiene espacios normados o institucionalizados, un sindicato es un espacio institucionalizado, un colectivo tiene un nivel de orgánica: ¿cómo no la va a tener un movimiento de emancipación masivo que pretende “cambiar el mundo” de manera revolucionaria? Como lo señala el libro de Antoine Artous, Marx, el Estado y la política, los marxismos hoy, deben superar la “mitología” de una posible desaparición rápida del Estado y de la instauración de una democracia directa en una sociedad ideal sin conflictos. Una lectura crítica del joven Marx y de cierta subestimación del momento jurídico de la emancipación por parte del marxismo, al mismo tiempo que los desastres autoritarios del siglo XX, nos obligan a (re)pensar la democracia y la afirmación de la política (y su mediación) como momento clave específico. No se puede disolver o subsumir lo político en lo social, como tampoco podemos dejar de reflexionar sobre las futuras formas institucionalizadas de una posible democracia autogestionaria, acompañada de sus derechos democráticos fundamentales y de indispensables formas de representación popular (asambleas constituyentes y asambleas de los movimientos sociales, mecanismos de control desde abajo, formas de participación y deliberación populares, derecho de voto universal y proporcional, etc.).

Al fin y al cabo, Chiapas y el zapatismo no “disolvieron” totalmente el Estado, pero es verdad que crearon nuevas formas de institucionalidad, basadas en los bienes comunes, en la autonomía comunitaria y en una democracia radical de autogobierno, como bien lo explican los estudios del antropólogo Jerôme Baschet. Holloway tiene toda la razón en poner el acento en los avances del zapatismo y su creatividad frente a todos los dogmatismos. Entonces, de acuerdo: la emancipación es también emanciparse del Estado, pero… como lo reconoce el mismo Atilio Borón en sus duras críticas a las teorías de Holloway, lo ideal sería crear ahora ya una sociedad democrática sin Estado, lo que decía Marx hace dos siglos en sus estudios sobre la Comuna de París y la guerra civil en Francia. No obstante, frente a la urgencia global del desastre capitalista en el cual nos encontramos y, a pocos pasos de un colapso ecológico planetario, hay que pensar formas de transición, tener un programa táctico concreto y un agenda estratégica que no proclame la “disolución” del Estado burgués, sino una construcción de largo plazo y rupturas sucesivas, en “revolución permanente” diría Trotsky, hacia una democracia autogestionaria libertaria, un mundo en que quepan todos los mundos (un lema zapatista). Hay que pensar y elaborar junt@s este largo plazo de la emancipación poscapitalista, posdesarrollista y pospatriarcal. Urge así proponer vías no-burocráticas y no-autoritarias para democratizar radicalmente el Estado y -al mismo tiempo- “revolucionar” la sociedad, que tod@s tomemos y transformemos el poder. Es decir, encontrar los caminos de una democracia de comunas autogestionadas, basada efectivamente en la libertad individual y la autonomía colectiva, la autodeterminación y la participación política plena de hombres y mujeres libres, la distribución del trabajo emancipado del yugo del capital y con derecho al ocio, a la cultura, a la diversidad sexual, respetando la naturaleza, etc. Pero en esa discusión sobre como “de nada ser todo” (Manifiesto comunista), hay que cuidarse de los atajos de la antipolítica, del antipoder, de “la ilusión de lo social”: ¿cuáles son nuestras herramientas para enfrentar el imperialismo, las multinacionales, las oligarquías, el patriarcado, los golpes de Estado como en Chile en 1973? ¿Lo podemos lograr sólo con autogestión local y diversas experiencias de “poder hacer”? No. Necesitamos también herramientas políticas y estrategias concretas de transición global. En este contexto, los partidos y movimientos políticos pueden servir de “acelerador estratégico”, como bien lo apuntaba Daniel Bensaïd, en vista de favorecer el reflexionar colectivo, evitar la colección de egos individuales o de intereses particulares corporativistas, como también el fenómeno del caudillismo o del bonapartismo. Sin fetichismo de la organización o culto del líder, asumiendo y criticando el riesgo burocrático o electoralista, imponiendo medidas estrictas de control de las directivas, referéndums revocatorios, paridad de género y rotación de mandos, terminando -como primer paso- con la profesionalización de la política, el vanguardismo, el machismo y el autoritarismo.

Así como lo escribe Edgardo Lander, los retos de las transformaciones que tenemos por delante son buscar alternativas más allá del capitalismo, del desarrollismo y del Estado liberal/(pos)colonial. Y en esta búsqueda apasionante, necesitamos sacar lecciones esenciales del siglo pasado y de la traumática experiencia estalinista:

La lucha por la construcción de una sociedad poscapitalista en el siglo XXI —se denomine sociedad del Buen Vivir o Socialismo del Siglo XXI—, en particular en el contexto sudamericano, tiene que responder necesariamente a retos y exigencias que superan en mucho los imaginarios de la transformación social de los últimos dos siglos, y muy especialmente los del socialismo del siglo pasado. Una alternativa al capitalismo y a la democracia liberal en este contexto debe ser forzosamente una alternativa radical al Socialismo del Siglo XX. Esto se refiere a tres asuntos fundamentales que caracterizaron a estas sociedades: su confianza ciega en el progreso y en las fuerzas productivas del capitalismo, su carácter monocultural y sus severas limitaciones en el campo de la democracia. (…) Una sociedad poscapitalista en el siglo XXI debe ser necesariamente una sociedad que cuestione los mitos del progreso y asuma la transición en dirección de una sociedad del posdesarrollo (…) Una sociedad poscapitalista en el siglo XXI tiene que ser necesariamente más democrática que la sociedad capitalista. Se trata, en palabras de Boaventura de Sousa Santos, de la construcción democrática de una sociedad democrática . Si se plantea la idea del Socialismo del Siglo XXI como una experiencia histórica nueva, radicalmente democrática, que incorpore y celebre la diversidad de la experiencia cultural humana y tenga capacidad de armonía con el conjunto de las formas de vida existentes en el planeta, se requiere una crítica profunda de esa experiencia histórica del siglo XX. (Lander, 2013).

Un enfoque radical que, desde la Patria Grande, propongo llamar (desde una óptica mariateguista del siglo XXI) la construcción de un ecosocialismo indo-afro-latinoamericano, feminista, decolonial, del buen vivir, entendiendo el ecosocialismo como:

Una reorganización del conjunto de modos de producción y de consumo es necesaria, basada en criterios exteriores al mercado capitalista: las necesidades reales de la población y la defensa del equilibrio ecológico. Esto significa una economía de transición al socialismo ecológico, en la cual la propia población –y no las «leyes de mercado» o un Buró Político autoritario– decidan, en un proceso de planificación democrática, las prioridades y las inversiones. Esta transición conduciría no sólo a un nuevo modo de producción y a una sociedad más igualitaria, más solidaria y más democrática, sino también a un modo de vida alternativo, una nueva civilización ecosocialista más allá del reino del dinero y de la producción al infinito de mercancías inútiles. (Löwy, 2011).

Sin duda, más que nunca, para alcanzar esta “nueva civilización” tendremos que inventar, intentar, errar, experimentar, luchar, pensar y volver a soñar para crear, crear, poder popular… Pero, en un momento en que la crisis del capitalismo es global y que el “viejo mundo” europeo se hunde día a día, América Latina y sus resistencias podría ser el continente laboratorio de la construcción de alternativas para el siglo XXI.

Santiago de Chile, noviembre 2014.

Bibliografía

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J. Baschet, Adiós al capitalismo. Autonomía, sociedad del buen vivir y multiplicidad de mundos, Buenos Aires, Futuro Anterior, 2014.

D. Bensaïd, “¿La revolución sin el poder? Acerca de un libro reciente de John Holloway ”, revista Herramienta, www.herramienta.com.ar/debate-sobre-cambiar-el-mundo/la-revolucion-sin-el-poder .

D. Bensaïd, La sonrisa del fantasma, Barcelona, Sequitur, 2012.

D. Bensaïd, Clases, plebes, multitudes , Caracas, El Perro y la Rana, 2005.

F. Betto, “América Latina: Impasses de los gobiernos progresistas”, Revista América Latina en Movimiento, No.500, diciembre de 2014: http://alainet.org/publica/500.phtml .

E. Bloch, El principio esperanza, Madrid, Editorial Trotta, 2007 (reed.).

A. Borón, Aristóteles en Macondo : notas sobre democracia, poder y revolución en América Latina, Valparaíso, Construyendo América , 2013.

B. Dangl , Dancing with Dynamite : Social Movements and States in Latin America , AK Press, 2010.

P. Dávalos, La Democracia disciplinaria. El proyecto postneoliberal para América Latina, Santiago, Editorial Quimantú, 2013.

F. Fuentes, “ Cuando el árbol del “antiextractivismo” no deja ver el bosque”, Rebelión, 2014: http://rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=185659 .

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F. Gaudichaud, “Venezuela: El debate hoy es cómo frenar la violenta ofensiva de la derecha neoliberal”, Entrevista de Valeria Ianni, Revista La Llamarada, 2014: www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=181839 .

F. Gaudichaud [ed.], América Latina: Emancipaciones en construcción, Quito, IEAN, 2014.

F. Gaudichaud [coord.], El volcán latinoamericano. Izquierdas, movimientos sociales y neoliberalismo en América Latina, Concepción, Escaparate, 2012.

F. Gaudichaud, Poder popular y cordones industriales. Testimonios sobre el movimiento popular urbano (1970-1973), Santiago, LOM, 2004.

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J. Holloway, Agrietar el capitalismo. El hacer contra el trabajo , Buenos Aires, Ediciones Herramienta, 2011.

C. Katz, El porvenir del socialismo, Buenos Aires, Herramienta – Imago Mundi, 2004.

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Notas

[3] Desarrollé ese debate y sus aristas en un texto reciente que introduce un pequeño libro colectivo titulado América Latina: Emancipaciones en construcción. Ver bibliografía.

El proceso de democratización y movilización social, que se inaugura en el contexto de resistencia e impugnación de las políticas neoliberales en América del Sur desde mediados de la década de los noventa, supone un desafío político de consideración para los (nuevos) movimientos sociales, las organizaciones de izquierda (emergentes y tradicionales) y el pensamiento crítico latinoamericano. Pensar el poder popular desde estas coordenadas, geopolíticamente subalternas (en la historia de las luchas políticas de los movimientos sociales del continente) e intelectualmente periféricas (en la generación de saber de los polos de pensamiento social), implica un ejercicio de conocimiento y apropiación de los principales procesos llevados adelante, atendiendo sus límites, potencialidades y aciertos.

El objetivo de la presente conversación (primera parte) con Franck Gaudichaud es entregar antecedentes para la construcción de un marco histórico, desde donde situar las recientes experiencias de movilización social del continente y, al mismo tiempo, contribuir a proponer algunos antecedentes que contribuyan a pensar el poder popular desde nuestra propia experiencia, en ese claroscuro entre tradición y elaboración donde -como diría Marx- el peso de todas las generaciones muertas oprime como pesadilla la cabeza de los vivos [iii].

Esta entrevista es una contribución a un libro colectivo por publicarse en 2015 sobre “ Movimientos sociales y poder popular en Chile. Retrospectivas y proyecciones políticas de la izquierda latinoamericana”, un trabajo realizado en conjunto entre el Grupo de Estudios Sociales y Políticos – Chile (GESP), de la Universidad de Santiago – USACH y Tiempo robado editoras

El escenario geopolítico latinoamericano actual y la (re)emergencia de las izquierdas


- Seguel: Muchos analistas señalan que América Latina se constituye hoy, nuevamente, como un escenario para la emergencia de proyectos políticos de izquierda. ¿Qué elementos geopolíticos inciden a tu juicio en esta coyuntura favorable para la movilización de izquierda en América Latina? Con esto me refiero a elementos de la política internacional, el rol de Estados Unidos y su política hacia América Latina, o elementos tales como la implantación y la impugnación del neoliberalismo en la región o los virajes estratégicos de las izquierdas.


- Gaudichaud: 
Hay varios planos ahí que podrían desarrollarse. Partiendo de un plano continental, podemos señalar que, efectivamente, la perspectiva geopolítica es esencial para entender parte de la coyuntura actual. Se está hablando, desde hace un tiempo atrás, de una posible “nueva autonomía” o soberanía de América Latina respecto a los “gigantes” del norte, al imperialismo céntrico y de Estados Unidos en particular. El escenario regional es evidentemente fundamental para analizar el impulso o “giro” progresista -institucional electoral- de varios países, de manera sucesiva en menos de 15 años. En más de diez países, en particular en América del Sur, se vivió la elección y a menudo reelección de presidentes que se reconocen como de izquierda o centroizquierda y aparecieron gobiernos de nuevo tipo de corte “progresista” o más bien de orientación nacional-popular, más o menos radicales. No por eso se puede afirmar que la influencia de Washington haya desaparecido de la región o que el imperialismo sea algo anticuado en América Latina. Se trata todavía de un fenómeno de dominación continental esencial, pero combinado con nuevos procesos y actores que hay que integrar al análisis: desde la relación de los gobiernos latinoamericanos con los poderes fácticos cada vez más impresionantes de las transnacionales, pasando por el nuevo papel de China y de Brasil. No obstante, es cierto que podemos constatar la existencia de una nueva -aunque muy relativa- autonomía de la región y márgenes de maniobra más amplios para los estados. Insisto en lo relativo, pero también en la novedad de la coyuntura, que se traduce por ejemplo, en un curso integrador regional bolivariano creativo. Es el caso del ALBA, impulsado por el presidente Chávez, sin duda lo más novedoso del período 2006-2010. Pero también pienso en espacios diplomáticos y de coordinación internacional, como es CELAC o UNASUR, que permiten consensuar, superar conflictos interestatales o ayudar a tratar problemáticas internas sin Estados Unidos, un hecho capital después de décadas de hegemonía de la OEA. Así, por primera vez, Cuba se reintegró a la comunidad latinoamericana a pesar de la oposición férrea de los EEUU, e incluso asumió la presidencia protempore de la UNASUR, un hecho improbable diez años atrás. Entonces, representa un avance importante de autonomía, de soberanía política regional, de resurgimiento de la ideas de Simón Bolívar y de José Martí. Se trata, sin duda, de un avance parcial y con no pocas contradicciones: no es casualidad que los movimientos sociales reclamen una “diplomacia de los pueblos” en oposición a una integración interestatal al servicio del capital, de proyectos neodesarrollistas o del modelo primo-exportador extractivista, como es el caso del IIRSA ( Integración de la Infraestructura Regional Suramericana), perspectiva defendida hoy por los miembros de la UNASUR y del MERCOSUR .


- Seguel: En ese sentido, analizando el tema específico de la CELAC, no deja de ser interesante que la presidencia de ese organismo, en primera instancia haya recaído en Chile, en un gobierno neoliberal liderado por Sebastián Piñera y en segunda instancia, en Cuba. ¿Cómo lees esa tensión entre un sector dentro de América Latina que se perfilaba hacia el ALCA y que drásticamente tiene que dar un viraje en su política regional hacia estas expresiones, lo que al menos, para los gobiernos neoliberales como el chileno y el colombiano, es bastante complejo porque tampoco pueden marginarse?

-Gaudichaud: Eso demuestra una nueva relación de fuerzas geopolíticas que hace que los gobiernos más abiertamente proimperialistas no se puedan quedar al margen de espacios como UNASUR o CELAC y acepten la reintegración de Cuba, aunque al mismo tiempo, defiendan su propia agenda estratégica proestadounidense y proneoliberal, expresada hoy en la “Alianza del Pacífico” y complementada con la multiplicación de Tratados de Libre Comercio (TLC). Chile es el país que más TLCs ha suscrito en el mundo y sigue aferrado a su alianza estratégica y comercial con los poderes céntricos del sistema-mundo capitalista, con la Unión Europea, con Estados Unidos e incluso con China, hoy primer socio comercial del país. Globalmente, el panorama regional dista de ser homogéneo ya que cada nación tiene intereses nacionales propios y orientaciones disímiles. Algunos desde una visión claramente bolivariana, como Venezuela que buscó instalar una “petrodiplomacia” activa y más solidaria con la creación de Petrocaribe, del ALBA, la interesante tentativa –pero fracasada hasta el momento- del Banco del Sur (para ya no depender del Banco Mundial), etc. En el caso de Brasil, vemos afirmarse una potencia ya no sólo “emergente” sino más bien “emergida”, de corte subimperialista o como imperialismo regional, que defiende el MERCOSUR como una integración, no alternativa, proliberal y también “latina”, pues se contrapone en parte a los Estados Unidos. Por eso es que el escenario es un tanto más complejo que una visión binaria: algunos autores describen una nueva era marcada por la multipolaridad o una época de “transición hegemónica” que conduciría hacia el declive de Estados Unidos en el continente y en el mundo. Yo creo que hay que tener mucho cuidado, ya que todavía estamos lejos de este escenario, cuando todavía dominan los claroscuros y algunos resabios de la “guerra fría 2.0”. Por cierto, hay un declive parcial de la presencia dominante de Estados Unidos en lo político en América Latina, pero no así en lo militar: EEUU ha multiplicado las bases militares en la región, con siete nuevas bases en Colombia en el último período. Esto le permite generar una presión muy grande en “eslabones débiles” de la cadena de estados del continente. Estoy pensando en Honduras y en Paraguay, donde Estados Unidos se involucró, de manera directa o indirecta, para apoyar golpes de Estado calificados de “institucionales”… Pensemos también en el golpe de Estado en Venezuela de abril de 2002. Pero no sólo la presencia de Estados Unidos es hegemónica en lo militar, sino que también en lo cultural a través de sus medios de comunicación globalizados, de la difusión de patrones de hiperconsumo, alimentación y endeudamiento, de las industrias musicales, etc.… Este llamado “soft-power” está igualmente presente a través de ONGs que dicen fomentar la democracia (NED, USAID) [iv] y, en realidad, lo que buscan es la desestabilización de gobiernos considerados adversos como el boliviano, el ecuatoriano o el venezolano. En lo económico, las redes de los capitales transnacionales y de las multinacionales norteamericanas o europeas, son muy activas, captan cada vez más recursos naturales, tierra y mano de obra: por ejemplo, Wal-Mart está presente en toda la región; las maquiladoras están asentadas en varios países como México y en América Central.

Además, habría que citar la alianza estratégica con Colombia (“plan Colombia”), lo que finalmente permite que Estados Unidos tenga todavía mucho poder, mucha capacidad de maniobra y presión en la región. Poderío militar, poderío económico, capacidad de influencia diplomática: así que si hablamos de “transición poshegemónica” geopolítica es de muy largo plazo y dependerá de muchos factores de futuro. Por otra parte, si bien es cierto que se está consolidando una nueva multipolaridad de países emergentes en el mundo, con Brasil, China, India y los famosos “BRIC”, hay que evaluar bien en qué son realmente un progreso y si son capaces de proponer algunas alternativas a la gubernamentabilidad imperial mundial actual. Todo permite dudar de ello…

-Seguel: Me gustaría que pudieses referirte a dos temas en específico. Lo primero, a las características del neoliberalismo y el modo en cómo se ha ido generado su impugnación por parte de los movimientos sociales en América Latina y, lo segundo, ¿cómo esto se relaciona con el viraje de las izquierdas? Digo esto porque, con posterioridad, me gustaría ver las diferencias entre distintas izquierdas, tales como el rol del Partido de los Trabajadores en el gobierno en Brasil o el Frente Amplio en el gobierno de Uruguay. En el fondo, quiero ver si, a tu juicio, existe una relación entre el neoliberalismo implementado en los países de la región, el modo en cómo se lo ha impugnado y las orientaciones de los actuales gobiernos de izquierda.


- Gaudichaud: 
Bueno, sólo quisiera añadir algo antes, que tiene que ver de nuevo con el plano geopolítico de este inmenso escenario que es el continente latinoamericano. Quiero subrayar primero, la gran diversidad de condiciones geofísicas, demográficas e históricas, por ejemplo entre pequeños países de América Central y algunos gigantes de América del Sur. De hecho, desde principios del siglo pasado, Washington siempre ha pensado el mar Caribe como un “mar cerrado”, perteneciente “naturalmente” a los Estados Unidos, incluyendo México y América Central como zona de influencia directa y dividiendo así América en dos, quedando del otro lado una América del Sur considerada como un peligro si lograra unirse. Esta visión tradicional surge dentro de la élite política “yankee”. Últimamente, las declaraciones de John Kerry sobre la necesidad de volver a controlar “el patio trasero” (sic) de EEUU o los documentos del Departamento de Defensa sobre la indispensable proyección militar hacia el Asia-Pacífico, sin perder la hegemonía en América Latina lo demuestran (ver los documentos de Santa Fe) [v] . Esa división en dos del continente es un potente freno a la integración bolivariana. Por supuesto, un país como Honduras, si se queda aislado, no tiene la misma capacidad de resistencia geopolítica o de construcción de soberanía nacional que un país como Brasil. La gran derrota estratégica del siglo XXI de Estados Unidos en la “Patria Grande” es el fracaso del ALCA (Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas) en 2005, en la cumbre de Mar del Plata. Es una derrota con profundas consecuencias, pues echó abajo los planes neoliberales estadounidenses en el continente para la primera mitad del siglo. Por eso se multiplican ahora otras tentativas como los TLCs, la consolidación del TLCAN [vi] con México y Canadá, la voluntad de integrar la Alianza del Pacífico, etc. Y una de las lecciones de todo esto es que el fracaso del ALCA fue producto de una doble dinámica: resistencia de los pueblos y capacidad de oposición de algunos gobiernos. Esa gran derrota vino desde abajo, con la intensa campaña continental de movimientos sociales por el “No al ALCA” y fue posible gracias a la oposición de presidentes como Hugo Chávez en particular y Lula de Brasil, que veía con malos ojos esta presión de Washington en su zona de influencia privilegiada.

Lo que quiero subrayar es que entender el “giro a la izquierda” (una expresión muy engañosa en realidad) es comprender la activación de grandes luchas sociales y populares en los últimos quince años, lo que varios sociólogos definen como “emergencia plebeya”: un fenómeno variopinto pero que irrumpió en el escenario político logrando fisurar el Consenso de Washington en algunos países y, al mismo tiempo, poner en jaque la hegemonía política, económica y subjetiva del neoliberalismo. Dichas radicalidades críticas y resistencia explican, en parte, esta reorientación progresista en lo institucional-electoral. Es decir, las relaciones de fuerza políticas solo pueden verse afectadas de manera prolongada gracias a las luchas y reacomodos entre las clases sociales. Esa evidencia de toda teoría política crítica ha sido, una vez más, demostrada en América Latina desde mediados de los años ‘90. De hecho, es donde hubo irrupción más significativa de movimientos sociales, de trabajadores, indígenas y populares, donde el escenario político conoció cambios más drásticos, más profundos en lo institucional y una mayor capacidad de los gobiernos “progresistas” de proponer otro camino que podríamos llamar, por el momento y de manera transitoria, “posneoliberal”. Pero, este impulso desde abajo no fue suficiente en ningún país -hasta ahora- para encontrar derroteros poscapitalistas y en ello seguramente pesa mucho todavía, la debilidad de la organización clasista de los trabajadores y su proyección política independiente.


- Seguel: ¿A qué casos te refieres?


- Gaudichaud:
 Estoy pensando en el caso paradigmático de Bolivia, donde hubo realmente inmensas movilizaciones, conflictos de clases, grandes manifestaciones populares, en particular por parte del movimiento campesino indígena y con el apoyo, aunque restringido, de la COB (Central Obrera Boliviana). Como lo escribió el periodista anglosajón Benjamin Dangl, en Bolivia, el movimiento social era tan explosivo que parecía “bailar con dinamita”. Sólo ese nivel de movilización permitió, a la larga, la elección de Evo Morales. La “guerra” del agua y del gas, los enfrentamientos con los militares, la destitución de varios gobiernos corruptos y neoliberales, todo ese cóctel permitió la emergencia de un nuevo instrumento político: el MAS (Movimiento Al Socialismo) también considerado como “instrumento de soberanía de los pueblos”. Desde otra realidad, en Ecuador es la irrupción indígena durante los noventa y de la Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE) -incluso con algunos caminos equívocos de su brazo político, el movimiento Pachakutik que participó un tiempo en el gobierno de Gutiérrez-, lo que modificó sustancialmente el escenario político. Esos cambios abrieron el espacio para la elección de un outsider, Rafael Correa, exministro sin partido, cristiano y economista heterodoxo. Y en fin, la experiencia venezolana -tal vez mejor conocida- que surge más bien “desde arriba” y desde la figura carismática que fue Hugo Chávez y, a partir de ahí y con sucesivas victorias electorales (¡más de 19!), empodera progresivamente a la sociedad civil y al “bajo pueblo”, en un país con poca tradición de movilización obrero y social de masas.

Es interesante constatar que estos tres procesos nacionales-populares no se basan en la izquierda tradicional, ni en la izquierda revolucionaria histórica, fuerzas ausentes o marginales. Parece derrumbarse el sistema político tradicional, hay irrupción o recomposición desde abajo que no se hace según el libro clásico de la izquierda marxista revolucionaria, ni siguiendo a sus partidos. En términos de “sujetos del cambio”, tampoco se hace desde la clase obrera industrial o minera, sino más bien desde la subalternidad múltiple y popular que son los movimientos indígenas, los movimientos populares urbanos, los trabajadores desocupados, etc. Los y las que el teólogo de liberación brasilero Frei Betto nombra como el “pobretariado” de América Latina. Aunque también están presentes el movimiento sindical y los trabajadores (como la COB boliviana) o gremios más tradicionales como el de los profesores. Después de que el neoliberalismo atacó, destruyó, desplazó al movimiento obrero tradicional, desindustrializó en parte los países, han sido otros los espacios los que lograron recomponer la conflictividad -que es lucha de clases también- y permitieron agrietar el consenso hegemónico de las clases dominantes.

En otros países, se gestó un escenario más clásico e institucionalizado, con sus avances democráticos y retrocesos también. Estoy pensando en Brasil, donde un partido inicialmente muy anclado en el movimiento obrero clasista, el Partido de los Trabajadores (PT), que dio una encarnizada lucha contra la dictadura, poco a poco al institucionalizarse y participar en poderes ejecutivos locales o de estados federados, se va hacia al centro, abandonando su reivindicación anticapitalista inicial, la de la campaña de 1989. Con la distancia, podemos decir que cuando Lula logra ganar la elección presidencial del 2002, ya el PT había perdido parte de su alma revolucionaria original. Instalado en el gobierno, termina ese proceso de integración: el partido reivindica a la centro izquierda, gestiona el sistema con reformas estabilizadoras, otorgándole nuevos beneficios y campo de juego al capital nacional y extranjero, al mismo tiempo que responde a la urgencia social -y ahí reside la fuerza del “lulismo”-, a través de un sistema de subvenciones, de bonos, de programas sociales (como “hambre cero”) que saca de la pobreza extrema a más de 30 millones de familias. Una dinámica que un economista francés calificó de “neoliberalismo perfecto”, porque combina políticas favorables al capital local como al global, pero creando una muy sólida base (o clientela) electoral en las filas mismas de las principales víctimas del capitalismo. Por mi parte, he hablado de la constitución de un “social-liberalismo sui generis”. Subrayemos que la hegemonía del PT ha sido, por fin, cuestionada con las recientes movilizaciones urbanas de junio 2013 por el aumento en las tarifas del transporte público y en contra del vergonzoso despilfarro que representó la copa del mundo, movilizaciones que fundamentalmente representan el primer quiebre masivo y organizado entre el “petismo” y l@s brasileros, abriendo así un nuevo panorama político que si bien no impidió la reciente reelección de Dilma Roussef, se tradujo de manera contradictoria en el plano electoral con una fuerte tasa de abstención, el crecimiento notable del PSOL (Partido Socialismo y Libertad) y el importante auge de la candidata ecologista-neoliberal Marina Silva (que casi vence a Dilma).


- Seguel: Entendiendo que ese es el escenario heterogéneo de las izquierdas, ya sea por el modo en cómo irrumpen o cómo son oxigenadas por las movilizaciones sociales que se van generando, el historiador y politólogo cubano Roberto Regalado señala que, en ese contexto, la clásica distinción -que tenemos los marxistas para referirnos al alcance de las transformaciones- en términos de “reforma o revolución”, se agotaría, ¿en tu opinión, crees que esa consideración es adecuada?

-Gaudichaud: Todo depende de qué “izquierdas” estemos hablando. Primero, anotar que Roberto Regalado estudia esencialmente el campo progresista gubernamental, lo que deja a muchas izquierdas, colectivos y partidos extraparlamentarios, incluyendo a los más “radicales”, fuera del análisis. Si hacemos un balance distanciado, ese famoso “giro a la izquierda” permitió, principalmente, comenzar a salir de la “larga noche neoliberal”, como una vez lo dijo el presidente Correa. Como lo señala el sociólogo ecuatoriano Franklin Ramírez, lo que nace hoy en América Latina, no es la revolución, no es el reformismo socialdemócrata tradicional o el populismo clásico, no son tampoco sólo “dos izquierdas” (una moderada y otra radical): esencialmente, el progresismo actual encarna un cierto retorno y regulación del Estado, de políticas sociales que redistribuyen parte de la renta hacia los más pobres y de afirmación de una era de “neodesarrollismo”, después de décadas de neoliberalismo. Una época de mayor control estatal de los recursos estratégicos y naturales, sin romper las reglas del juego de la economía de mercado, renegociando las relaciones con las multinacionales o la búsqueda de ciertos niveles de consenso con las burguesías locales (en Bolivia hoy, entre 60% y 80% de la renta del gas se queda para el Estado y el resto para las multinacionales, antes de Evo era al revés…). En el caso de los procesos nacional-populares más radicales, como en Venezuela y en Bolivia, esta dinámica viene acompañada, o más bien se basa, en una fuerte orientación y discursos antiimperialistas y decoloniales: después de su nueva elección, en octubre pasado, Evo Morales dedicó su victoria a “los que luchan contra el imperialismo y contra el neoliberalismo”.

Este escenario, cristalizado en torno a contundentes victorias electorales, está caracterizado por la afirmación creciente de figuras presidenciales omnipresentes carismáticas (se puede hablar de hiperpresidencialismo) e importantes procesos de asambleas constituyentes (Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela), con la aparición de nuevos derechos fundamentales: derechos de la naturaleza, estados plurinacionales, referéndums revocatorios, etc. Es evidente que asistimos a dinámicas democratizadoras novedosas y a la implementación de reformas sociales profundas que permitieron disminuir a la par pobreza y desigualdad social de manera notable (la pobreza bajó más de 20 puntos en Bolivia y Venezuela). Estos gobiernos tienen que lidiar con fuerzas sociopolíticas, mediáticas y económicas internas y externas muy potentes, hostiles y capaces de manipulación de la opinión pública como de subversión militarizada: recordemos el golpe de Estado en abril de 2002 en Caracas, el golpe “institucional” en Paraguay o Honduras, la casi secesión de la regiones más ricas de la “media luna” en Bolivia, la sublevación policíaca en Ecuador contra Correa, etc. Pero, claro, no se trata de procesos revolucionarios como los vividos en el siglo XX, como en el escenario cubano en 1959 o nicaragüense en 1979. Desde Marx -por lo menos- y sus estudios sobre la Comuna de París, algunos signos fundamentales de dinámicas revolucionarias son la ruptura del aparato estatal, la transformación de las relaciones sociales de producción y la irrupción de l@s de abajo en el escenario político, donde disputan la hegemonía y desplazan a la clase dominante. No estamos exactamente en tales condiciones en la América Latina de hoy, a pesar de la retórica revolucionaria (revolución “del siglo XXI”, “ciudadana” o “comunitaria-indígena”) y de las transformaciones existentes en el plano político.

Entonces, cuando Roberto Regalado plantea que la disyuntiva “reforma o revolución” ya no es válida, yo diría que sí es válida la disyuntiva “reformismo o revolución”, en un escenario diferente al del siglo XIX o XX. Tal vez necesitemos pensar hoy, a la luz de las experiencias recientes de América Latina, en “reformas Y revolución”, “reformas en permanente revolución” o sea políticas públicas radicales en procesos abiertos destinados a revolucionar la sociedad y sus estructuras, apoyadas en el desarrollo de formas crecientes de poder popular constituyente. Tenemos que asumir que, en algunos contextos específicos, puede haber procesos interrumpidos de reformas democráticas y posneoliberales que abran camino, desde gobiernos de izquierdas, gobiernos del pueblo trabajador, como desde las luchas de clases. De hecho, basta con volver a leer textos de los mismos bolcheviques (Lenin, Trotsky, etc.) o de Rosa Luxemburgo para constatar que l@s revolucionari@s de principios del siglo pasado no cometían ese error de confundir reformas con reformismo. Y, por eso, no podemos oponer de manera a-dialéctica y dogmática reforma versus revolución, conflicto social versus disputa electoral, gobiernos populares versus luchas de clases, unidad del pueblo trabajador versus unidad de las izquierdas, etc. Siguiendo a Claudio Katz, se trata de recuperar hoy los sentidos estratégicos del “porvenir del socialismo”, sin perder la brújula de necesarias discusiones y pasos tácticos audaces, creativos, autogestionarios, de transición para lograr unificar, aglutinar a los trabajadores, indígenas y sectores populares como también en ese camino -ojalá- a las fraccionadas izquierdas anticapitalistas. Sin esa unidad de l@s de abajo, y sin independencia de clase, sólo habrá populismo desde arriba o neoliberalismo de guerra… De la misma manera, según Katz, el objetivo es concebir procesos de transformación de mediana y larga duración, con saltos cualitativos y rupturas contundentes, más allá de la caricatura del “asalto” al palacio presidencial (que en realidad nada tiene que ver con el pensamiento dialéctico de Lenin) o del “limbo” institucional en el cual se encuentran hoy la mayoría de los “progresismos”.

Para que me entiendas bien, insisto en que esa perspectiva de reformas en revolución permanente significa no abandonar la estrategia e intencionalidad revolucionaria (y consiguiente transformación rupturista del Estado), pues si no, el efecto inmediato es bregar por reformas democráticas que terminan siendo meramente reformistas o electoralistas, pensando el Estado como “neutro” y posible de “mejorar” desde los márgenes del capitalismo periférico: es decir, al final de cuentas, ajustes “progresistas” dentro del modelo, como lo vivido por ejemplo en Brasil, Uruguay o con el “new sandinismo” orteguista en Nicaragua. De hecho, el mismo Roberto Regalado se pregunta si las actuales izquierdas gubernamentales representan un “reciclaje” de viejos esquemas o realmente nuevos vientos de cambios. Yo diría que la clave continúa siendo la relación de estos gobiernos con las luchas sociales, l@s asalariad@s y el pueblo, sus posiciones respecto al imperialismo, a las clases dominantes, pero también con desafíos esenciales del tiempo presente: la lógica decolonial e indígena, la lógica medioambiental y del buen vivir, la lógica feminista y antipatriarcal. Desde las izquierdas, varios intelectuales (como Isabel Rauber o Marta Harnecker por ejemplo) piensan que en Bolivia, Venezuela y, en menor medida, en Ecuador existen procesos democratizadores, antiimperialistas, posneoliberales aunque en disputa. De hecho, en estos países varios sectores revolucionarios apoyan críticamente -y con más o menos autonomía- los evidentes avances que han significado estos gobiernos progresistas o nacional-populares en el plano de la soberanía nacional, integración regional, de la salud, educación, alfabetización, infraestructura, en la disminución notable de la pobreza extrema, el empoderamiento político y territorial, etc. Las experiencias de las Asambleas Constituyentes en estos tres países son una lección para toda la región (y para Chile, en particular, donde sigue vigente la Constitución de la dictadura…). Así, en Bolivia, no cabe duda de que hubo revolución de las subjetividades, transformación democrática campesino-indígena, desplazamiento de la élite gobernante oligárquica racista, pero -en rigor- no una revolución en términos de transformación radical (es decir “en la raíz”) de la relación capital-trabajo y capital-naturaleza. Es un proceso abierto posneoliberal. En Venezuela, varios grupos del chavismo popular o anticapitalista como -entre otros- Marea Socialista apoyaron a Chávez y hoy al gobierno del presidente Maduro, subrayando sus vacilaciones y las capitulaciones de las burocracias estatales, llamando a una “revolución en la revolución” y a contraatacar frente a la ofensiva subversiva de la derecha neoliberal o del imperialismo.

Por eso, es importante ver que para otros intelectuales, como los ecuatorianos Decio Machado o Pablo Dávalos por ejemplo, esta fase progresista-neodesarrollista sólo escondería las nuevas figuras de una “democracia disciplinaria” que coopta y canaliza los movimientos y clases populares, mientras tanto oxigena un capitalismo local-mundial en crisis, con inversiones públicas. Alberto Acosta, ex presidente de la Asamblea Constituyente del Ecuador o el sociólogo marxista Mario Unda piensan así que el correísmo se transformó en un “nuevo modo de dominación burguesa” y de restauración conservadora, con un discurso de cambio muy marcado que acompaña una modernización económica capitalista nacional. Esta modernización ocurre también en otros países combinando el reciclaje de viejas formas del populismo con nuevas figuras del bonapartismo latinoamericano: ¿qué pensar, por ejemplo, del kirchnerismo en Argentina y de su asombrosa capacidad de control social? ¿qué opinar de las agresiones verbales en la televisión pública, del presidente Correa hacia movimientos indígenas o militantes ecologistas (calificados de “infantiles” o de “terroristas”)? De hecho, analizando el caso ecuatoriano y el creciente autoritarismo del gobierno hacia el movimiento indígena pero también hacia los defensores del proyecto Yasuní o su rechazo contundente a toda perspectiva feminista, se ve una clara determinación del “progresismo” a rechazar las disidencias o criticas sociales y políticas “abajo y a la izquierda”: el último episodio de esa tendencia regresiva ha sido el lamentable anuncio de Rafael Correa del desalojo de su sede histórica a la Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE), con justificaciones legales falaces. O sea, eso significa intentar borrar uno de los bastiones históricos de la resistencia contra los embates de los gobiernos neoliberales por ser hoy, duros críticos de la “revolución ciudadana”… Un hecho denunciado con razón como “injusto y políticamente insensato” por Boaventura de Sousa Santos, sociólogo portugués que acompañó al gobierno en sus inicios. En este caso, como en muchos otros, el deber de solidaridad es de denunciar estos hechos, sin tapujos, ni genuflexiones ante el poder, sea quien sea quien ocupe el sillón presidencial.

Incluso, ¿cómo analizar hoy el fenómeno carismático-popular chavista? Por cierto, alguien como Ernesto Laclau, por su propia filiación peronista, explica que la “razón populista” puede ser progresiva y democratizadora como regresiva y autoritaria en América Latina, según su contenido, dirigentes e inclinaciones. Pero este problema plantea la imperiosa necesidad de un análisis crítico, abierto y clasista de estas experiencias. Asimismo, Raúl Zibechi en su libro “Progre-sismo” afirma que l os gobiernos progresistas, finalmente tienen un efecto despolitizador en la sociedad porque logran “domesticar” gran parte de los movimientos.

Desde una óptica gramsciana original, el sociólogo mexicano Masimo Modenesi lee el progresismo como una variante de “revolución pasiva” por su carácter contradictorio y sus efectos desmovilizadores. Según Modenesi, aún con saldos y sobresaltos específicos, los gobiernos progresistas lograron asentarse hegemónicamente, reproducirse en el tiempo a partir de la construcción de fuertes consensos pluriclasistas y electorales (en particular frente a las oposiciones de derecha) y llevar a cabo, en la mediana duración de 10-15 años, una combinación de procesos de transformación política, reformas sociales progresivas y de conservadurismo del orden existente y sus equilibrios en términos de relaciones sociales de producción. En resumen, un escenario complejo, pero aun abierto, para las izquierdas anticapitalistas, que hay que descifrar sin dogmas o sectarismos.

Análisis de casos: Venezuela y Bolivia en la mira


- Seguel: Me gustaría seguir analizando el caso de Venezuela, sobre todo a un año del fallecimiento de Hugo Chávez y cuando han surgido ciertas críticas al interior de las mismas filas del chavismo. ¿Dónde se inscriben esas críticas, a qué responden?

-Gaudichaud: A un año de la muerte de Hugo Chávez, la coyuntura bolivariana es muy crítica, muy tensa, con la ofensiva de la derecha insurreccional neoliberal, pero también por el estado mismo, interno, del Proyecto Bolivariano. Por supuesto, existen presiones exteriores imperiales, intervención de Washington y una campaña mediática planetaria, digna de futuros estudios, para atacar al proceso bolivariano. Es un dato esencial de la coyuntura, pero no por eso podemos caer en la visión binaria, reduccionista que dice: “o estás con el gobierno de Maduro, en bloque, de manera acrítica o si no, es que estás con el imperialismo”… Es una visión equívoca y nefasta para la solidaridad internacional. La “ternura de los pueblos” (así llamaban los sandinistas al internacionalismo) no puede basarse en tal análisis simplista, maniqueo. La oposición a Maduro y la derecha venezolana se apoyan en contradicciones y en la propia debilidad el proceso bolivariano, en sectores medios altos de la población (no sólo en las clases altas), e incluso en el hartazgo de parte del “bravo pueblo” frente a la corrupción, ineficacia administrativa, crisis económica, inseguridad urbana, etc., como lo ha demostrado el declive electoral relativo del chavismo. Por eso, necesitamos descifrar esas debilidades internas y escuchar las voces críticas dentro del espacio bolivariano y también, fuera del gobierno. Los libertarios de Caracas no son proimperialistas; Orlando Chirino (dirigente trotskista y sindical de la Unión Nacional de Trabajadores) no es neoliberal; el ex viceministro Rolando Denis no es propatronal y los compañeros de Marea Socialista o del sitio web Aporrea no son “traidores”… Hoy día en Venezuela, existen luchas obreras y sindicales que han sido reprimidas, esencialmente por sicarios patronales, pero nunca denunciados por el Estado. El mismo Ministerio del Trabajo impide la aplicación del nuevo Código laboral que representó un gran progreso para los trabajadores del país. La inflación ya ha carcomido el aumento salarial de la época de Chávez y la dimensión de la crisis económica actual, no es sólo producto del mercado negro o de la ofensiva de la burguesía, también nace de una muy mala gestión, del tipo de cambio de divisas, de la ausencia de una planificación para la diversificación económica y la industrialización. Todo eso ha sido graficado, estudiado y explicado por economistas críticos como Manuel Sutherland o Víctor Álvarez (exministro) e investigadores del Centro Internacional Miranda (CIM). El desabastecimiento ataca primero al bolsillo de las clases populares y el tema de la inseguridad es real, perjudicando primero a los pobres de la ciudad, no a los que habitan Chacao, Altamira u otros barrios pudientes. La reproducción de una “boliburguesía” parasitaria, que lucra del proceso a la sombra del Estado, es cada vez más insoportable para miles de militantes barriales, de fábricas, de cooperativas, de consejos comunales. Entonces, esos son problemas graves, candentes y, repito, no tiene sentido callarlos en nombre de la defensa legítima de las importantes conquistas sociales y democráticas del decenio chavista y de la lucha unitaria necesaria, indispensable, frente al imperialismo. Menos aún, en nombre del “socialismo del siglo XXI” o frente a las 19 elecciones democráticas victoriosas… Cuando toda una burocracia gubernamental o paraestatal del PSUV [vii] rema a contracorriente, hay espacios como Marea Socialista u otros grupos que denuncian el actual “diálogo de paz” y el pacto de no-agresión con la burguesía venezolana (como los Cisneros, los Mendoza y otras familias), los mismos que incentivaron el golpe de Estado del 2002 y que nunca fueron castigados. ¿Por qué no se dialoga más con el movimiento obrero que intenta organizarse, con los colectivos bolivarianos, con los consejos comunales? Últimamente se ha intentado iniciar “gobiernos de calle”, volver a la base: veremos si esto permite reanudar los lazos entre el ejecutivo y el pueblo chavista. Hay tensiones y la situación actual es muy crítica, a pesar de los avances en términos sociales logrados en los últimos 15 años. De hecho, según la CEPAL, es el país que más ha reducido, a la par, pobreza y desigualdades en la región. No representa un dato menor en el continente más desigual del mundo… Existe además hoy un pueblo empoderado, politizado y movilizado -herencia de Chávez- que quiere defender sus conquistas. Por esta razón, hay que pensar el bolivarismo como un proceso nacional-popular “en tensión” y una dinámica plebeya muy contradictoria, en la cual la capacidad de las luchas populares autónomas -en particular del movimiento obrero clasista- será el elemento decisivo del futuro de esta experiencia excepcional de principios de siglo


- Seguel: ¿Qué rol juega la transferencia de renta del petróleo a la llamada “boliburguesía”, en el sentido de la acentuación de estas contradicciones internas que mencionas?

-Gaudichaud: Varios estudiosos venezolanos, como Edgardo Lander o la historiadora Margarita López Maya, ya han descrito la “maldición” que representa el petróleo y la monoexportación de recursos naturales para una sociedad. Paradójicamente, estar sentado en un pozo petrolero para un proyecto de emancipación es una verdadera calamidad, porque el rentismo es todo lo contrario a una perspectiva humana emancipadora, impregna todas las clases sociales, no hay nadie que esté a salvo de este modelo de sociedad, de hiperconsumo y de una economía extravertida, una formación social dependiente que debilita toda capacidad de producción nacional y posibilidad de soberanía alimentaria (más del 80% de los alimentos de los venezolanos es importado). En este complejo contexto, la revolución bolivariana logró, por primera vez en la historia republicana de este país, y con el nuevo control gubernamental sobre PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela), utilizar la renta petrolera para y hacia las clases populares a través de las misiones de salud, educación, vivienda, infraestructura, etc., con el apoyo de Cuba. La principal reserva de petróleo del mundo ya no es sólo un recurso al servicio de la oligarquía local y de sus socios de Miami, aunque hoy todavía, una gran parte de los beneficios van a parar a las multinacionales asociadas a PDVSA asentadas en la franja del Orinoco como EXXON, CHEVRON, TOTAL, etc. y a un sector parasitario del viejo Estado. Pero, ¿cómo hacer para transformar y democratizar realmente, económicamente, este modelo rentista depredador? Es la gran pregunta de estos 15 años de proceso bolivariano. Ahí, la gran desgracia es que todas las experiencias más avanzadas de control obrero o de cogestión como en la siderúrgica Sidor en el estado de Guyana o en una empresa como Inveval y algunas otras grandes fábricas, no fueron incentivadas o apoyadas, más allá de sus problemas internos, también reales. Al contrario, son a menudo combatidas por las burocracias sindicales, municipales y/o estatales. Lo mismo pasa con los Consejos Comunales o las Misiones. Además, estos organismos se crearon por fuera del Estado, como un bypass para intentar suplir la inmensa ineficacia estatal y responder a la urgencia social. En estas condiciones, estas políticas públicas no transforman al Estado rentista y están muy poco institucionalizadas, lo que amenaza su continuidad en el tiempo. O sea, ¡de nuevo el problema del Estado!

-Seguel: Pasando a otra experiencia, hablemos un poco del caso boliviano. Llegando al término del segundo mandato del presidente Evo Morales, se notaba cierto agotamiento o más bien ciertos cuestionamientos internos, los que -se podría decir- fueron revertidos por la impresionante victoria electoral presidencial de octubre pasado. ¿El proceso boliviano se está agotando en términos de su planteamiento inicial? ¿Cómo leer el llamado de García Linera a constituir el capitalismo andino-amazónico?


- Gaudichaud: 
Como punto de partida, una pequeña precisión: el tema del agotamiento parcial del “ciclo” progresista gubernamental, yo lo vería a nivel continental, con altibajos y diferencias nacionales obviamente. Estamos a más de quince años de la apertura del ciclo y de la elección de Hugo Chávez, y la fuerza propulsiva de lo que alguna vez se llamó “giro a la izquierda” muestra sus límites y tensiones. Desde formas de social-liberalismo sui generis a la brasilera, pasando por la experiencia ecuatoriana, hasta el proceso bolivariano y sus crisis, hay -es cierto- una pérdida de fuerza, un cierto agotamiento, aunque relativo si analizamos encuestas de opinión. Volviendo a Zibechi, el periodista y sociólogo uruguayo afirma que si efectivamente los progresismos mantienen una gran fuerza electoral y gubernamental, parecen haber perdido su capacidad inicial de transformación social emancipadora, con un sesgo que se volvió cada vez más estabilizador o conservador del orden político-económico existente. Habría que recordar algo esencial, las derechas de ninguna manera desaparecieron del ajedrez político, controlan países clave como Colombia, Panamá o México y crecen electoralmente en varios de los países con gobiernos progresistas: basta con ver las últimas elecciones regionales o locales en Venezuela y Argentina. Cuando la crisis capitalista mundial impacta a la región, los límites de los procesos en su diversidad afloran con mayor fuerza y aparecen las grandes contradicciones de modelos productivos primo-exportadores, altamente basados en el crecimiento de la exportación de materias primas. El tema del “megaextractivismo” y sus formas de acumulación por desposesión y depredación es un tema central del período y un talón de Aquiles de América Latina. Los útiles trabajos de Eduardo Gudynas o Maristella Svampa sobre la problemática y los caminos emancipatorios del “posdesarrollo”, subrayan que no se ha superado esa gran dependencia, incluso se han reprimarizado las economías de algunos países: en Brasil, país “imperialista periférico” e industrializado, el sector extractivista es proporcionalmente cada vez más importante. Un economista como Pierre Salama describe bien esta nueva degradación de los términos del intercambio. En este contexto, se acumulan los conflictos y luchas entre el movimiento popular, las comunidades indígenas y los gobiernos progresistas. El neodesarrollismo extractivista es una de las piedras de tope de los progresismos, revelando los límites de los procesos actuales. Así como lo recalca Frei Betto:

La fuerza de penetración y obtención de ganancias del gran capital no se redujo con los gobiernos progresistas, a pesar de las medidas regulatorias y cobro de impuestos adoptados en algunos de esos países. Si, de un lado, se avanza en la implementación de políticas públicas favorables a los más pobres, por otro, no se reduce el poder de expansión del gran capital (…) Los gobiernos y movimientos sociales se unen, especialmente durante los períodos electorales, para frenar las violentas reacciones de la clase dominante alejada del aparato estatal. Sin embargo, es esta clase dominante la que mantiene el poder económico. Y por más que los inquilinos del poder político implementen medidas favorables para los más pobres, hay un escollo insalvable en el camino: todo modelo económico requiere de un modelo político coincidente con sus intereses. La autonomía de la esfera política en relación con la económica es siempre limitada. Esta limitación impone a los gobiernos democrático-populares un arco de alianzas políticas, a menudo espurias, y con los sectores que, dentro del país, representan al gran capital nacional e internacional, lo que erosiona los principios y objetivos de las fuerzas de izquierda en el poder. Y lo que es más grave: esa izquierda no logra reducir la hegemonía ideológica de la derecha, que ejerce un amplio control sobre los medios de comunicación y el sistema simbólico de la cultura dominante.

Por cierto, como lo subrayó Fred Fuentes, el extractivismo no puede ser “al árbol que esconde el bosque”: o sea, el modelo primo-exportador es, ante todo, producto de una estructura de dependencia económica de tipo neocolonial. Para países del sur, cuando la pobreza y las necesidades son todavía inmensas, no se trata de abandonar “a secas” toda forma de extracción de riqueza (pero sí la más depredadora y extravertida). Tampoco se pueden confundir los diferentes usos que hacen los gobiernos suramericanos de la renta o sus políticas hacia las multinacionales. En paralelo, es significativo ver que los ejecutivos en vez de buscar radicalizar sus enfoques posneoliberales e intentar apoyarse más en el pueblo trabajador movilizado, convergen cada vez más hacia el centro, en una clara “lulización” de la política latinoamericana que implica compromiso entre las clases, negociación con el capital financiero y acuerdos con la oposición parlamentaria neoliberal. Es el escenario ya existente en Nicaragua, Uruguay, Salvador, Brasil, Argentina, etc.

El caso boliviano, creo yo, con el paso del tiempo, ha mostrado ser el progresismo más potente y capaz de construir un posneoliberalismo consolidado, popular y con fuertes rasgos decolonizadores, un hecho esencial en un país como Bolivia. Tenemos un presidente sindicalista-indígena surgido de esta “emergencia plebeya” de los años 2000, de las “guerras” del gas y del agua, y que declara ser el “gobierno de los movimientos sociales”. Un autor como Pablo Stefanoni (unos de los mejores analistas del complejo proceso boliviano), explica de manera detallada este fenómeno de una experiencia nacional popular que se asienta -en un plano simbólico-subjetivo- en la reivindicación del campesino indígena y de la decolonialidad del poder (concepto acuñado por el peruano Aníbal Quijano), a la vez que promueve un modelo económico modernizador-desarrollista. La elección de Evo favoreció la reintegración de las comunidades indígenas a la nación y a la comunidad política, facilitó el desplazamiento de la vieja élite oligárquica blanca, permitiendo el surgimiento de una nueva clase media indígena. Evo y el MAS (Movimiento Al Socialismo) encarnan no obstante un indigenismo muy flexible y pragmático, un “esencialismo estratégico” adaptativo, ya que Evo Morales reivindica el indigenismo al mismo tiempo que el vicepresidente García Linera anuncia un “Modelo Nacional Productivo” modernizador. No se trata en absoluto de una política indianista, como lo reivindican Felipe Quispe y los sectores más etnoracialistas del indianismo. El MAS logró alejar los riesgos de golpe, controlar y negociar con latifundistas y burguesías de las regiones orientales de la “media luna” y constituir una base electoral popular muy solidificada: lo que acaba de confirmarse con su nueva y contundente victoria electoral de octubre de 2014. Con el gobierno del MAS, Bolivia entró en 2005 en una fase de consolidación institucional, después de décadas de caos neoliberal, represiones del movimiento popular y golpes militares: Evo es el presidente más longevo de la historia de la república de Bolivia, desde su fundación… Se conseguiría así forjar un consenso nacional en torno a esta figura campesino-indígena. En ese sentido, sí es una revolución política, una ruptura en la historia boliviana. El MAS controla el Parlamento y una nueva democracia corporativa, que pasa por los espacios sindicales campesinos e indígenas, que juegan un papel de cooptación de dirigentes y de ascensor social.

En el campo económico, varias nacionalizaciones (con indemnización) y el control del gas nacional dio forma a un esbozo de lo que el vicepresidente llamó, en los años 2005-2006, “capitalismo ando-amazónico”: construcción de un Estado regulador, capaz de orientar la expansión de la economía industrial y extractiva, al mismo tiempo que organiza la transferencia de recursos hacia sectores populares y comunitarios, a través de bonos o del aumento del salario mínimo o de la cobertura social, educacional y de salud. Pero fundamentalmente, en términos macroeconómicos, en la gestión de divisas y en el presupuesto público, este gobierno sigue aterrorizado por el espectro de la hiperinflación de los años ‘80 que derrotó toda tentativa socialdemócrata. Es muy ortodoxo en el plano económico. El sociólogo James Petras declaró que el gobierno de Evo Morales sería, en su opinión, “el más conservador de los radicales o el más radical de los conservadores”… Es el país que, en proporción a su PIB, tiene la reserva de divisas más importante del mundo, ¡más que China! El mismo FMI calificó a Bolivia como la economía más estable de América Latina y el New York Times afirmó que Evo Morales sería el mejor representante del desarrollo de la región. En ese aspecto no hubo grandes cambios. Los principales avances fueron primero, en términos simbólicos y subjetivos (lo que no hay que menospreciar después de siglos de racismo estatal); segundo, en el plano del control de los hidrocarburos y de reafirmación de una soberanía nacional antiimperialista y; tercero, los avances en el sistema de jubilación, de servicios sociales, de regulación del mercado informal. Pero queda mucho por hacer en términos de lucha contra la pobreza, la desigualdad social y de género. No obstante, la inversión en los servicios públicos se multiplicó por siete desde 2005, a medida que bajaban, como nunca antes, los niveles de pobreza y analfabetismo.

Varios sectores desde el movimiento popular, del indianismo o de la debilitada izquierda radical, reivindican una ruptura mucho más profunda y rápida, una opción que entiendo y comparto. Desde la COB, hay una tensión acumulada con el gobierno sobre salarios, pensiones y reforma laboral. Por parte de algunas corrientes del movimiento indígena también, del katarismo aymara y de figuras como Felipe Quispe o Pablo Mamani. Entonces, ese es el escenario, un escenario bastante complejo. Morales supo ocupar un espacio desde una reactivación de la antigua figura nacional-popular, surgida con fuerza en la revolución minera campesina de 1952 (ver los trabajos de René Zavaleta Mercado). Pero, a diferencia de los años ‘50, no existe hoy en Bolivia una alternativa radical revolucionaria al nacionalismo popular, con influencia de masas, enraizada en masivos sindicatos mineros, como lo era el POR (Partido Obrero Revolucionario) boliviano.

Conclusión: una derrota de Evo Morales en las últimas elecciones presidenciales hubiera representado un grave retroceso y una victoria para los neoliberales y las oligarquías…

Notas

[i] Franck Gaudichaud: Doctor en Ciencia Política (Universidad París 8) y profesor en Estudios Latinoamericanos de la Universidad de Grenoble (Francia). Miembro del colectivo editorial del portal www.rebelion.org y de la revista ContreTemps (Paris). Contacto: [email protected].

[ii] Bryan Seguel: Estudiante de historia y sociología de la Universidad de Chile. Asistente de investigación del “Núcleo Bicentenario: memoria social y poder” de la Universidad de Chile. Equipo interdisciplinario de investigación en movimientos sociales y poder popular (www.poderymovimientos.cl). Contacto : [email protected] .

[iii] La bibliografia de este texto se encuentra al final de la segunda parte de la entrevista.

[iv] NED: National Endowment for Democracy; USAID: United States Agency for International Development (N.d.E).

[v] Documentos elaborados para orientar la política imperial de EEUU hacia América Latina, iniciados en los años 80 con Reagan (Santa Fe I). A fines del 2000, bajo el presidente Bush, vieron la luz «los documentos Santa Fe IV», con una fuerte orientación antichavista.

[vi] Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (N. d. E)

[vii] PSUV. Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela.

Police in Longview, Texas released footage Wednesday of officers killing a 17-year-old girl in the lobby of a police station on January 22.

Officers Glenn Derr and Grace Bagley shot and killed 17-year-old Kristiana Coignard last Thursday, after officer Gene Duffie fired a taser at her. The three officers have been on paid leave since the shooting.

Longview Police Chief Don Dingler and spokeswoman Kristie Brian told reporters Wednesday that Coignard used the station’s phone to speak with dispatch, requesting the help of an officer.

When officer Derr arrived, police say she threatened him, indicating that she was armed with a gun. A struggle then ensued between Derr and Coignard, with officer Duffie entering the lobby during the confrontation and quickly drawing his Taser.

 Image: Kristiana Coignard

Officers claim that Coignard then charged at Derr, allegedly brandishing a knife, prompting Duffie to fire his Taser at Coignard, which police claim had no effect. Derr fired his weapon three times, and Bagley fired her weapon twice. The girl was then taken to Good Shepherd Medical Center at roughly 6:45 p.m., where she was later pronounced dead.

The video of the incident, recorded by a police station camera, contradicts aspects of the police story, while showing the brutal methods used by Derr against the teenager. It also reveals that medical attention did not arrive for nearly six minutes, during which time none of the officers attempted to perform CPR or assist Coignard in any way.

The video shows that immediately upon entering the police station, Derr reaches to his left side, presumably to have his tazer ready to fire at the teenager. A struggle ensues, and he quickly draws his weapon from the right side of his waist. During the subsequent three minutes when they are alone in the lobby, Derr appears to have his firearm drawn nearly the entire time, pressing it against the back of Coignard’s head multiple times. At one point he has her stand up, and then violently slams her to the ground face-first, seemingly unprovoked by any action on her part.

Shortly after Duffie arrives, Coignard appears to charge at Derr, to which Derr responds by shooting her with his pistol at least once. Bagley entered the lobby as this took place, and visibly fires at least one bullet. The police claim that Duffie’s tazer failed to stop her, thus prompting Derr to shoot her with his pistol, does not hold water, as Derr shot her immediately after she moved towards him.

Above all, the video plainly demonstrates that Derr had ample opportunity to defuse the situation entirely by handcuffing Coignard.

Coignard’s family has since said that she suffered from depression and bipolar disorder, and had been hospitalized twice in recent years after attempting suicide. Coignard’s aunt, Heather Robertson, told Think Progress “I think it was a cry for help. I think they could have done something. They are grown men. I think there is something they are not telling us.”

In 2014, Longview police shot and killed 15-year-old Justin Michael Aguilar and 23-year-old Regan Marshall Wagner in separate incidents. In both cases, the officers were cleared by a Gregg County grand jury.

Official story in Denver police killing of 16-year-old Jessica Hernandez contradicted by witness

A passenger in the car in which 16-year-old Jessica Hernandez was gunned down by Denver Police on Monday has disputed the police story, saying that officers began shooting before one of them was struck by the car she was driving.

Image: Jessica Hernandez

Initially, police chief Robert White told a local news station, “as [the officers] approached, the driver of the vehicle struck the original officer at which time the officers fired several shots.”

On Thursday, the witness told the Associated Press “When the cops walked up, they were on [Jessica’s] side of the car, and they shot the window and they shot her. That’s when she wrecked, and that’s when the cop got hit.”

On Thursday, in response to this and other statements made by friends of Hernandez, White retracted his earlier outline of what led to the killing, and told reporters that there were “unanswered questions” regarding the case, which he said will be answered when the ongoing district attorney’s investigation into the killing is complete. White also declared that the other teenagers present in the stolen car would not be charged with a crime.

On Wednesday night, a crowd of roughly 200 people protested outside the District 2 police station in Denver, where the two officers involved in Hernandez’ shooting are based. Smaller protests took place Thursday and Friday as well.

San Francisco public defender arrested for shielding client

Jami Tillotson, a deputy public defender in San Francisco, was arrested Tuesday for attempting to prevent a plainclothes officer, identified as police inspector Brian Stansbury, from questioning and photographing her client outside a courtroom.

Image: Public defender Jami Tillotson being arrested

A video taken by one of her colleagues in the San Francisco public defender’s office shows her calmly blocking Stansbury from taking pictures, to which he responds with threats of arrest, absurdly claiming she is resisting arrest. He tells her, “look, you can either step aside, he can be released in two minutes, or we can make this…”

Tollitson responds, “I’m pretty sure that we’re OK here. We don’t need any pictures taken, thank you,” to which Stansbury replies “No, you’re not pretty sure. If you continue with this … I’ll arrest you for resisting arrest.” Tillotson responds, “Please do,” and is promptly handcuffed and walked away.

Immediately after Tollitson is arrested, Stansbury resumes taking pictures of her clients. The Public Defender’s Office has noted that officer Stansbury was the subject of a 2013 federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a black SFPD officer alleging racial profiling.

“I was arrested for what we do as public defenders every day,” Tillotson said at a news conference Wednesday. “I asked questions. I talked to my client and explained to him his rights. At that point, I was told I was interfering and taken into custody.”

“It was very clear to me that I hadn’t been doing anything illegal,” she added. “I was challenging him, telling him that you know that I know that I did not violate the law. He moved it forward.”

“This is not Guantanamo Bay,” said Public Defender Jeff Adachi at a Wednesday news conference. “You have an absolute right to have a lawyer with you when you’re questioned. Ms. Tillotson was simply doing her job.”

By Theodoros Christoudias 1,*, Yiannis Proestos 1 and Jos Lelieveld 1,2

2
Max Planck Institute of Chemistry, Hahn-Meitner-Weg 1, Mainz 55128, Germany
External Editor: Erich Schneider

Received: 24 October 2014; in revised form: 4 December 2014 / Accepted: 5 December 2014 /
Published: 12 December 2014

Abstract

We estimate the contamination risks from the atmospheric dispersion of radionuclides released by severe nuclear power plant accidents using the ECHAM/Modular Earth Submodel System (MESSy) atmospheric chemistry (EMAC) atmospheric chemistry-general circulation model at high resolution (50 km). We present an overview of global risks and also a case study of nuclear power plants that are currently under construction, planned and proposed in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, a region prone to earthquakes. We implemented continuous emissions from each location, making the simplifying assumption that all potential accidents release the same amount of radioactivity. We simulated atmospheric transport and decay, focusing on 137Cs and 131I as proxies for particulate and gaseous radionuclides, respectively. We present risk maps for potential surface layer concentrations, deposition and doses to humans from the inhalation exposure of 131I. The estimated risks exhibit seasonal variability, with the highest surface level concentrations of gaseous radionuclides in the Northern Hemisphere during winter.

Keywords:

nuclear power plant accidents; radioactivity transport modeling; deposition and inhalation risks

1. Introduction

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) defines a nuclear accident as an event that releases radioactivity with significant consequences on a nuclear facility and the environment, including harmful doses to humans and soil contamination. Nuclear power plant accidents can have significant impacts on society and the environment, fueling the debate on the security of facilities and materials, planning and sustainability. Risk assessment for radioactivity contamination is necessary for mitigation strategy formulation and potential impact precautions by stakeholders, the development of policies by decision makers and public information at global, regional and national levels.

The radiological significance of nuclear events is categorized by the IAEA on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) with a numerical rating from one to seven. The INES categorization takes into account the impact on people and the environment and the degree of contamination by the emitted radioactivity. There have been two major accidents categorized at the most severe level of INES 7 that occurred in Chernobyl, Ukraine and the meltdown of three reactors at Fukushima, Japan, and a total of more than 20 accidents at the level of INES 4 or higher, categorized as accidents with at least local consequences.

Following previous studies [13], we have included all nuclear power plants worldwide that are currently operational (OP), under construction (UC) and planned or proposed (PL), based on the nuclear power plant (NPP) database compiled and published by the World Nuclear Association (WNA) [4]. In our simulations, we implemented constant continuous emissions from each NPP location and computed atmospheric transport and removal over a period of 20 years to warrant climatological representativeness. We used boundary conditions prescribed by a future intermediate climate change scenario in order to produce global overall and seasonal risk maps for near-surface concentrations and ground deposition of radioactivity from hypothetical nuclear power plant accidents. Furthermore, we estimated worldwide potential human doses from the inhalation of gaseous radioactivity and the exposure to deposited radionuclides transported in aerosol particles. The risk posed from nuclear power plant accidents is not limited to the national or even regional level, but can assume global dimensions. Many nations may be subjected to great exposure after severe accidents, even ones that are not pursuing nuclear energy as a means of power production [4].

The present paper both extends and complements the work of these previous studies by using higher resolution modeling and focusing on a test case in a particular region of interest, the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME), where earthquakes are recurrent, being a risk factor for nuclear facilities. No assumption is made on the type, capacity or reactor core count to assess the probability of an accident happening at each particular location or the total emission magnitude. By employing unit emission sources, we assess the comparative potential risk and provide a scale for the absolute magnitude of any accident. It should be noted that we aim to capture the risk patterns related to the ensemble of meteorological conditions over the 20-year simulation rather than individual events, i.e., taking a probabilistic approach. If an event were to happen, the absolute risks can be calculated by scaling our unit emissions by the real release of radioactivity, and by also accounting for the actual meteorological conditions during the accident, the concentrations and exposure can be calculated following a deterministic approach.

2. Methodology

The ECHAM/Modular Earth Submodel System (MESSy) atmospheric chemistry (EMAC) model is a numerical chemistry and climate simulation system that includes sub-models describing tropospheric and middle-atmosphere processes and their interaction with oceans, land and human influences [5]. It uses the second version of the Modular Earth Submodel System (MESSy2) to link multi-institutional computer codes. The core atmospheric general circulation model is the fifth generation European Centre Hamburg general circulation model, ECHAM5 [6].

For the present study, we applied EMAC (ECHAM5 version 5.3.02, MESSy version 2.42p2) at the T106L31 resolution, that is, with a spherical truncation of T106 (corresponding to a quadratic Gaussian grid of approximately 1.1 by 1.1 degrees in latitude and longitude, ~110 km at the equator) and at the T255L31 resolution, i.e., with a spherical spectral truncation of T255 (corresponding to a quadratic Gaussian grid of approximately 0.5 by 0.5 degrees in latitude and longitude, ~50 km at the equator), with 31 vertical hybrid pressure levels up to 10 hPa [7].

The surface (skin) temperatures and sea ice distribution for the AMIP II simulations [8] between the years 2003 and 2009 were used as boundary conditions for the higher resolution run (7-year simulation) and from the IPCC [9] SRESA2 emissions scenario for the period 2010–2030 for the lower resolution run (20-year simulation). The applied model setup comprises the submodels, RAD4ALLfor radiation and atmospheric heating processes, CLOUD for cloud formation and microphysical processes including precipitation and CONVECT for the vertical transport of trace species associated with shallow, mid-level and deep convection. The DRYDEP (dry deposition) [10] and SCAV (scavenging) [11,12] submodels were used to simulate aerosol dry and wet deposition processes, respectively. The SEDI (sedimentation) submodel was used to simulate particle sedimentation, of which the results will be presented below as part of the simulated dry deposition. The TREXP (tracer release experiments from point sources) submodel [5] was used to define tracers and emission sources.

The EMAC model uses a hybrid system for specifying atmospheric vertical levels. The system combines the constant pressure level system with the sigma level system based on surface pressure, such that closer to the surface of the Earth, the levels more closely resemble a pure sigma level, while higher up, the levels are close to constant pressure surfaces [13].

The model setup was evaluated using a real test case using emission estimates from the accident that occurred at the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP. Radionuclide surface layer concentrations were compared with station measurements taken by a global monitoring network of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) [14]. The modeling skill was evaluated using the radionuclide 133Xe, a noble gas that behaves as a passive tracer, showing very good agreement with station observations. The modeling skill for aerosols, using 137Cs as a proxy, was reduced, but no systematic bias was observed within the uncertainties related to the higher complexity of modeling the removal processes. For both xenon and cesium isotopes, emission source estimates derived by inverse modeling were used [15]. For 131I, there was systematic model underestimation of station observations, but within the high uncertainty introduced by the emission source estimate used [16]. Since 131I is removed from the atmosphere by radioactive decay rather than deposition processes and the test with 133Xe indicated good agreement for the transport processes, the systematic underestimate of modeled 131I was likely related to underestimated 131I sources in the model, which were based on literature data. The study confirmed the applicability of our global chemistry circulation model for simulating radionuclide transport from NPP accidents, as performed in the present study.

2.1. Emissions

All currently operational (189), under construction (16) and planned or proposed (36) nuclear reactors worldwide are included, based on the World Nuclear Association (WNA) reactor database (241 sites in total). Figure 1 shows the geographical distribution of potential emission locations. The distribution by country is listed in [4].

Figure 1. Geographical distribution of emission sites corresponding to nuclear power plants that are operational (red circles), under construction (green crossed circles) and planned or proposed (blue squares), adapted from [4]. Source: World Nuclear Association (WNA) Reactor Database. Click here to enlarge figure

Due to the limited availability of computational resources, the latter being tremendous for a high-resolution global model, it was not feasible to simulate varying emission height profiles. The graphite core material that burned in an open fire in Chernobyl, Ukraine, is meanwhile deprecated technology. Accidents that are lower on the INES scale and much more frequent in occurrence are more likely associated with radioactive leaks at the surface level. To account for different likelihoods, we use a point source at 1,000 hPa, equivalent to a mean height of approximately 100 m above the surface.

2.1.1. Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East

The Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (EMME) are made up of two dozen countries with approximately 400 million inhabitants. A number of countries in the region have planned or proposed the construction and operation of nuclear power plants.

A list of sites that are planned or proposed as locations for nuclear power plants in the EMME region is given in Table 1 and can be seen in Figure 2. We have selected the countries in the EMME region for a high resolution risk evaluation test case due to the high regional seismic risk, a potential cause of accidents. The Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program (GSHAP) [17] and, in particular, the compilation of the GSHAP regional seismic hazard for Europe, Africa and the Middle East [18] report enhanced seismic hazard along the African Rift zone and across the Alpine-Himalayan belt, where there is a general eastward increase in hazard, with peak levels in Greece, Turkey, Caucasus and Iran (Figure 2). Figure 2 also illustrates that 5 out of 6 NNPs in the EMME are planned in moderate seismic hazard locations, while 3 NPPs will be situated within a few dozen kilometers from high hazard regions.

Figure 2. Geographical distribution of emission sites corresponding to nuclear power plants that are under construction or planned in the EMME region (black circles, source: WNA Reactor Database), superposed on a map of the regional seismic hazard to peak ground acceleration (50-year 10% exceedance probability), adapted from the Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program (GSHAP) [17,18]. Blue regions indicate no data available. Click here to enlarge figure

Table Table 1. Countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (EMME) region, where nuclear power plants are under construction or being planned, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA) database.Click here to display table 

2.2. Atmospheric Dispersion

The iodine and cesium radionuclides are emitted as gases and partition into ambient aerosol particles at the relatively low temperatures in the ambient atmosphere, depending on the volatility of the gases.

The low solubility of iodine is based on publicly-available reported measurements [19]. Thus, 131I (half life: 8.025 ± 0.002 days) is treated as being purely in the gas phase in our model and is largely removed from the atmosphere via radioactive decay. This allows for the reduction of computational complexity and for the direct comparison of gaseous and aerosol components of radioisotopes and is a valid approximation, as the atmospheric gaseous to particulate fraction is estimated to be close to a factor of four by a number of relevant measurements: the RadNet station network, operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), finds 81% of the ambient 131I in the gas phase and 19% in the particulate phase [1]. The informal network of European national authorities, known as the Ring of Five (Ro5), comprising more than 150 high volume sampling systems, measures an average ratio of gaseous/total 131I of 77.2% ± 13.6% [20]. Both of these values are in agreement with the average values reported for the Chernobyl accident [21] and for the Fukushima site during the period spanning from March 22 to April 4, 2011 (ratio of 71% ± 11%) [22]. Therefore, a factor of 4 gaseous to particle phase partitioning would be appropriate. Dry deposition and particle sedimentation remove only up to 5%–10% of the emissions. We are not taking into account particle resuspension, expected to affect a negligible fraction of the deposited and sedimented quantities considered here.

The low-volatile 137Cs (half-life: 30.17 ± 0.03 years) is modeled as a water-soluble aerosol with a standard lognormal distribution of mean radius 0.25 μm, Henry’s coefficient of 1.0 mol L−1 atm−1 and a density of 1,000.0 kg m−3. The mean radius used is representative of the distribution of atmospheric aerosol in the accumulation mode size and most influenced by washout and rainout effects. It is consistent with the measurements of radioactivity after Chernobyl [23]. 137Cs is removed from the atmosphere predominantly through small-scale convective and large-scale stratiform precipitation (90%–95% combined) and through dry deposition and sedimentation (5%–10% combined). The removal of accumulation mode particles by wet and, to a much lesser extent, by dry deposition is not sensitive to the assumed mean radius, as the scavenging efficiency of the accumulation mode particles in our model is not size dependent. The radioactive decay of 137Cs is not taken into account in the simulation due to the long half-life of 137Cs compared to the atmospheric residence time [24].

3. Results and Discussion

Our study uses a constant emission rate for the simulations, so that we obtain representative concentrations for all meteorological conditions, over which we subsequently average to derive the integral risks. Our results do not realistically represent the impact of any individual NPP accident under specific meteorological conditions, which would require a deterministic approach to represent an actual accident, but rather, aim to estimate the risk associated with all possible atmospheric states.

It is noted that, for the purposes of our study, the overall concentration and deposition magnitudes are renormalized, so that in each case, the highest risk corresponds to unity (arbitrary scale), i.e., the relative geographical risk and equivalent dose are displayed. This allows for the scaling of the results to any accident severity level (defined by emission quantity) and also provides results for the subsequent application of morbidity and mortality estimation models by other research groups that could provide such expertise.

3.1. Global Risk

The global mean (for the period 2010–2030) gaseous 131I concentration relative risk from operating, under construction and planned nuclear power plants is shown in Figure 3. Presented are the mean global concentrations for the model surface layer (centered at around 30 m above the Earth’s surface). The Southern Hemisphere concentration risk is found to be much lower, attributed to the low number of NPPs and the relatively short tracer half-life in combination with the relatively slow interhemispheric exchange in the atmosphere (characteristic time scale: about one year).

Figure 3. Combined total (operating, under construction, planned or proposed) relative risk by 131I and equivalent daily effective dose to the public from inhalation over the 2010–2030 period; after [4]. Click here to enlarge figure

Figure 4 shows the global total cumulative surface deposition of 137Cs over the period 2010–2030. The peak levels of deposition and, hence, the highest risk of ground contamination and population doses are expected in the eastern and central United States, across the European continent and along the Pacific coast of China, where most of the NPPs are located. The high rates of precipitation in the moist tropics result in enhanced risk due to wet deposition processes. This explains the relatively high risks in central Africa and southeastern Asia, where no or few NPPs are located, being downwind of NPPs in the EMME and western Asia, respectively.

Figure 4. Combined total (operating, under construction, planned or proposed) relative risk by cumulative dry and wet deposition and sedimentation of 137Cs at the surface from nuclear accidents and equivalent effective dose risk to the population from exposure-related ground contamination over the 2010–2030 period; after [4]. Click here to enlarge figure

It should be emphasized that aerosol removal processes occurring at the sub-grid scale are not explicitly simulated, but are parameterized [11,12] and, therefore, less well-resolved than processes affected by atmospheric dynamics and transport at the scale of the model resolution.

Changes in the global nuclear energy sector are decided at the national level. Results for the relative concentration, deposition and equivalent human population dose at the individual country level are provided in [4] and the accompanying supplement. The geographical distribution of the human population is also taken into account by defining a risk index as the relative risk in our model (from concentration and deposition separately) times the density of the population that can potentially be exposed for each country.

3.2. EMME Region

The regional mean gaseous 131I concentration from proposed and planned nuclear power plants in the relatively high seismic hazard EMME region is shown in Figure 5. To estimate the concentration risk, we present the surface layer concentration based on the continuous uniform release of radionuclides from each NPP. For all plants, the concentrations in more remote locations are much lower, because of the relatively short half-life of 131I (~8 days), which does not allow it to be transported over long distances and mix globally. Next, we briefly address the planning of NPPs in individual countries within the EMME region.

Figure 5. Individual and combined bottom relative surface level gaseous 131I concentration and human population dose risk from potential nuclear power plant (NPP) accidents in the EMME region stations. Click here to enlarge figure

Jordan imports most of its energy and seeks greater energy security, as well as lower electricity prices. It is aiming to have a 1,000 MWe (Megawatt electric) nuclear power unit in operation by 2021 and a second one by 2025.

Turkey has been developing plans for establishing nuclear power generation for many decades. Meanwhile, nuclear power is a key aspect of the country’s economic growth objectives. Recent developments have been supported by Russia, taking a leading role in financing and building 4,800 MWe of capacity. Applications are in progress for construction and operating licenses for the first plant at Akkuyu. A Franco-Japanese consortium is expected to build a second nuclear plant in Sinop.

Iran is currently operating a large nuclear power reactor, after many years of construction, and a second one is planned, though not formally according to the WNA database. Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities, nor its work on heavy water-related projects, as required by the UN Security Council.

Egypt has advanced plans, but commitments are pending. In April, 2013, Egypt approached Russia to renew the nuclear cooperation agreement, aiming for the construction of a nuclear power plant at El Dabaa. In November, 2013, the Russian Foreign Minister announced that Russia is prepared to finance and help construct an Egyptian nuclear plant.

Figures 3 and 4 show that the relative risk in the Mediterranean region, due to the prevailing northerly and westerly winds, is relatively large due to atmospheric transport of contaminants from Europe. This meteorological regime will also affect radioactivity emissions from Akkuyu in southern Turkey, which will predominantly affect the island of Cyprus (Figure 5). The monthly mean relative 131I surface concentration and associated dose risk from the Akkuyu NPP for the cities of Mersin, Turkey, and Nicosia, Cyprus, can be seen in Figure 6. Despite the relatively large uncertainties associated with the variable meteorological conditions at particular locations, Figure 6 illustrates that the risks are comparable in the two major cities closest to the NPP in neighboring countries. Unilateral decisions by countries to build NPPs do not do justice to the international consequences of potential reactor accidents. Figure 5 shows that the risks associated with the El Dabaa NPP (northern Egypt) are largest in Egypt and of Sinop (northern Turkey) in Turkey, while the other operational and planned NPPs in the EMME region are associated with significant trans-boundary risks.

Figure 6. Monthly mean relative 131I surface concentration and associated dose risk from a potential accident at the Akkuyu NPP for the cities of Mersin, Turkey (a), and Nicosia, Cyprus (b). Click here to enlarge figure

The model-calculated risk from the climatological mean surface level concentration of radionuclides (Figure 7) exhibits strong seasonal variability.

Figure 7. Relative seasonal risk by 131I (mean surface layer concentration) from potential NPP accidents and equivalent effective dose to the public from inhalation in the EMME region for the winter (a) and summer months (b). Click here to enlarge figure

Our model shows increased surface-level concentrations throughout the Northern Hemisphere during the boreal winter months (DJF) compared to the summer months (JJA). Not only the expected risk magnitude is higher, but the geographical extent of the high concentrations of transported radionuclides is more pronounced towards the north over parts of Europe and Russia and towards the east over Asia. Horizontal advection is more efficient in winter due to relatively stronger winds, and the concentrations are highest near the surface, because of the lower vertical development of the atmospheric planetary boundary layer. As a result, the surface level concentrations in the summer tend to be more localized in the emission region, whereas dilution by turbulent mixing and vertical transport by deep convective clouds is more efficient. This is in line with our previous work examining the global combined total seasonal variation for all stations [4], where the aerosol radionuclide deposition was also assessed. The total mass of aerosol 137Cs in the atmosphere was similarly found to be lower in winter and higher during summer, due to more efficient removal by wet deposition processes.

3.3. Uncertainty

To quantitatively assess the uncertainty of the risk estimates from the simulated temporal variability, we use the coefficient of variation (the local standard deviation σ over the mean μ) for individual NPPs in the EMME region and their combined total, shown in Figure 8. The equivalent uncertainty analysis for all NPPs globally can be found in [4].

Figure 8. Individual and combined bottom relative risk coefficient of variation (σ/μ) for NPPs in the EMME region. Click here to enlarge figure

The regional variability does not exceed 15% (typical values around 7%), with the highest values found in close proximity of the region of interest and further northeast in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as over the continent of Africa in the Southern Hemisphere, notably in the vicinity of Madagascar. This is understood as the effects of the trade winds, causing equatorward transport of radionuclides and convective overturning in the intertropical convergence zone to the south of the EMME region, followed by subsidence in the subtropical Southern Hemisphere. This effect is most pronounced for the Darkhovin NPP in Iran. Elsewhere, the coefficient of variation is well within 5%, signifying adequate coverage for our analysis sample size and appropriate representation of the temporal circulation variability effects, especially considering the associated uncertainties of the global representation of modeled processes.

4. Conclusions

The EMAC atmospheric chemistry-general circulation model was used to assess the global risks from the atmospheric dispersion of radioactivity from potential accidents at nuclear power plants (years 2010–2030, 11-km equivalent horizontal grid resolution). We also performed a particularly high model resolution case study encompassing NPPs that are under construction, planned or proposed to be operated in the EMME region (meteorology of the years 2003–2009, ~50-km equivalent resolution), a region with a relatively high seismic hazard. The model simulations were driven by boundary conditions from the AMIP II simulations for the recent past and the IPCC SRES A2 scenario for the future projections. This paper both complements and extends our previous study of the global risk from all nuclear power stations that are in operation, under construction and planned or proposed.

We have calculated the relative surface concentrations for the gaseous radionuclide 131I and surface deposition for particulate 137Cs, which correspond to equivalent risks for the human population to be exposed to radioactivity from hypothetical accidents at NPPs. Reporting the relative exposure allows scaling of the results to any individual NPP accident based on the real or estimated magnitude of radionuclide emissions, which can be used to project morbidity and mortality risks by using our findings as input to impact assessments for particular levels of radioactivity.

As can be expected, the areas in the vicinity of the individual NPPs in the EMME region are at the highest risk, while the medium- and long-range transport through the atmosphere does not exhibit uniform dispersion. Land masses to the south and east of the region show a significantly higher risk expectation, in particular from the combination of all NPPs in the region. Our results illustrate that accidents at many of the operational or planned NPPs in the region could have significant trans-boundary consequences.

The risk estimate for all planned stations in the EMME region and their combined total risk exhibit strong seasonal variability, with increased surface level concentrations of gaseous radionuclides in the Northern Hemisphere during winter and a larger geographical extent towards the north and the east for the higher-risk affected areas. This is related to the relatively shallow boundary layer in winter that confines the emitted radioactivity to the lowest part of the atmosphere close to the surface.

The coefficient of variation, defined as the simulated local temporal standard deviation relative to the mean (σ/μ), was used as a measure of the uncertainty in the risk estimates for individual NPPs and the combined total for our study. For all cases, outside the vicinity of the NPPs, the regional variability does not exceed 15% (with typical values around 7%), signifying adequate temporal coverage by the simulation period and being climatically representative.

It is the view of the authors that it is imperative to assess the risks from the atmospheric dispersion of radioactivity from potential NPP accidents, particularly for regions with high seismic, as well as other natural and human activity-related hazards in order to facilitate preparedness and emergency response planning on national and international levels.

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013)/ERCGrant Agreement No. 226144. This work was supported by the Cy-Tera Project, which is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research Promotion Foundation. The Climate Data Operators (CDO) [25], netCDF operators (NCO) [26] and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Command Language (NCL) [27] were used for data processing and visualization.

Author Contributions

Theodoros Christoudias and Yiannis Proestos: Model Development, Data Analysis, Manuscript Writing; Jos Lelieveld: Manuscript Writing, Study Overview.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Abbreviations/Nomenclature
EMME Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East
NPP nuclear power plant
IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency
INES IAEA International Nuclear Event Scale
CTBTO Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization
WNA World Nuclear Association
GSHAP Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program
SRES Special Report on Emission Scenarios
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Income Inequality Soars in Every US State

January 30th, 2015 by Andre Damon

Income inequality has grown in every state in the US in recent decades, according to a new study published this week by the Economic Policy Institute. The report, entitled The Increasingly Unequal States of America, found that, even though states home to major metropolitan financial centers such as New York, Chicago, and the Bay Area had the highest levels of income inequality, the gap between the rich and the poor has increased in every region of the country.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at Hawaii or West Virginia or New York or California, there has been a dramatic shift in income towards the top,” said Mark Price, an economist at the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and one of the study’s co-authors, in a telephone interview.

Source: Economic Policy Institute

The report noted that between 2009 and 2012, the top one percent of income earners captured 105 percent of all income gains in the United States. This was possible because during this period the average income of the bottom 99 percent shrank, while the average income of the top one percent increased by 36.8 percent.

To varying degrees, this phenomenon was expressed throughout the country. In only two states did the income of the top one percent grow by less than fifteen percent.

The enormous concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent was even further concentrated in the top .01 percent. In New York, for instance, someone had to make $506,051 per year to be counted in the top one percent, but $16 million to be in the top .10 percent. The average income within the top .01 percent in New York was a staggering $69 million.

“Most of what’s driving income growth are executives in the financial sector, as well as top managers throughout major corporations,” said Dr. Price. “Those two together are the commanding heights of income in this economy.”

Source: Economic Policy Institute

Dr. Price and his co-author, Estelle Sommeiller, based their study on the methods of Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, whose widely-cited research analyzed the growth of income inequality for the United States as a whole. Using state-by-state data from the Internal Revenue Service, much of which had to be compiled from paper archives dating back almost a century, Price and Sommeiller were able to make a state-by-state analysis of income inequality since 1917.

Nationwide, the average income of the top one percent of income earners is 29 times higher than the average income of the bottom 99 percent. But in New York and Connecticut, the average income in the top 1 percent is 51.0 and 48.4 percent higher than the average for the rest of earners, respectively.

New York City is the home of Wall Street and boasts more billionaires than any other city in the world. Connecticut is home to many of the largest hedge funds in the world. Ray Dalio, the founder of Westport, Connecticut-based hedge fund Bridgewater Associates earned $3 billion in 2011 alone.

While the average income of the bottom 99 percent of income earners in New York state was $44,049, the income of the top one percent was $2,130,743. For the United States as a whole, the top one percent earned on average $1,303,198, compared to the average income of $43,713 for the bottom 99 percent.

In California, the most populous US state, the top one percent received an average income of $1,598,161, which was 34.9 times higher than the average pay of the bottom 99 percent. In 2013, four of the highest-paid CEOs in the United States were employed by technology companies, which are disproportionately located in California. At the top of the list was Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, with a current net worth of $53.4 billion, who made $78 million in pay that year.

The study shows that the average income for the bottom 99 percent of income earners is relatively consistent across states, with no state showing an average income of more than 33 percent above or below the average for the whole country.

The average incomes of the top one percent varied widely, however: from $537,989 for West Virginia to $2.1 million in New York. According to Forbes, the wealthiest resident of West Virginia is coal magnate Jim Justice II, who, with a net worth of $1.6 billion, is the state’s only billionaire. New York City, by contrast, has four residents worth more than $20 billion, including chemical tycoon David Koch, with a net worth of $36 billion; former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with a net worth of $31 billion; and financiers Carl Icahn and George Soros, worth $20 billion apiece.

Yet despite the broad disparity in the relative concentration of the ultra-rich, every single state showed a pronounced and growing chasm between the wealthy few and the great majority of society. In Alaska, which has relatively high wages and few billionaires, the incomes of the top one percent were on average more than fifteen times higher than the bottom 99 percent.

The report noted that exploding CEO pay has set “new norms for top incomes often emulated today by college presidents (as well as college football and basketball coaches), surgeons, lawyers, entertainers, and professional athletes.”

Price added,

“As the incomes of CEOs and financiers are rising, you’re starting to see that pull, almost like a gravity starting to pull up other top incomes in the rest of the economy.

“A University president might claim, ‘I run a big institution, you expect me to raise money from some of the wealthiest people in the country, you’ve got to pay me a salary that helps me socialize with them.’”

Price said that, while inequality figures are not available nationwide on the local level, his work on income inequality in the state of Pennsylvania shows that income inequality is growing in counties throughout the state, in both rural and urban centers.

Nationwide, the income share of the top one percent fell by 13.4 percent between 1928-1979, a product of the New Deal and Great Society reforms, as well as higher taxes on top earners. These measures were the outcome of bitter and explosive class struggles. But in subsequent years, that trend has been reversed.

As a result, income inequality in New York State was even higher in 2007 than it was in 1928, during the “roaring 20s” that gave rise to the Great Depression. In the period between 1979 and 2007, every state had the income share of the top 1 percent grow by at least 25 percent.

Citing a previous study by the Economic Policy Institute, the report noted that “between 1979 and 2007, had the income of the middle fifth of households grown at the same rate as overall average household income, it would have been $18,897 higher in 2007—27.0 percent higher than it actually was.”

The enormous growth of social inequality is the result of an unrelenting, decades-long campaign against the jobs and living standards of workers. Under the Obama administration, the redistribution of wealth has escalated sharply, through a combination of bank bailouts and “quantitative easing,” which has inflated the assets of the financial elite.

These policies have been pursued by both parties and the entire political establishment which is squarely under the thumb of the corporate and financial oligarchy that dominates American society.

France is in a state of “collective hysteria,” says Sefen Guez Guez, the lawyer for a second grader questioned by police in France. (via BFMTV)

Just when it seemed that the crackdown on free speech in France could not get worse, French police today questioned a second grader on suspicion of “defending terrorism.”

BFMTV says that administrators at a primary school in Nice reported the child to police on 21 January after the boy allegedly said that he “felt he was on the side of the terrorists.”

“A police station is absolutely no place for an eight-year-old child,” the boy’s lawyer Sefen Guez Guez told BFMTV. He said that the incident showed that France was going through a state of “collective hysteria.”

Guez Guez said that on 8 January, the day after two French gunmen attacked the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, the boy, whose name has been reported as Ahmed, was in class when he was asked if he was “Charlie.”

“He answered, ‘I am on the side of the terrorists, because I am against the caricatures of the prophet,’” the lawyer said.

Since the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and the lethal attack by a third French gunman on a Jewish supermarket, French government officials and media have adopted the slogan “Je Suis Charlie” – I am Charlie – to indicate social conformity and support for official policies, all under the guise of supporting free speech.

The Collective Against Islamophobia in France, which has taken up Ahmed’s case, provided these additional details: “On 8 January, Ahmed, a second grader, was called on by his teacher who asked him if he was Charlie. Being of Muslim religion and aged only eight, he opposed Charlie Hebdo because of the caricatures of the prophet, and responded naively that he was on the side of the terrorists. Angered, the teacher sent him to the principal, who was in the class next door, and who asked him three times in front of the whole class, ‘Are you Charlie?’”

The child’s parents were called in and “played an educational role, explaining to him what terrorism really was and why one should be on the side of the Charlie Hebdo victims,” Guez Guez said.

Principal calls police

Instead of leaving the matter there, on 21 January, the school principal lodged two complaints with police, one against the child for “defending terrorism,” and another against the child’s father for trespassing.

According to the lawyer, the child had been deeply upset and isolated after what happened, so his father accompanied him to the school playground on three occasions after 8 January, before being told he was not allowed to do so.

Fabienne Lewandowski, a spokesperson for the Alpes-Maritimes regional police, confirmed to BFMTV that they received the complaints. Lewandowski revealed that the school principal claimed that the child had said “French people should be killed,” “I am on the side of the terrorists” and “the journalists deserved to die.” The child then allegedly refused to take part in a government-decreed minute of silence.

“During our interview, the child indicated that he had said some of these words, but did not really understand what they meant,” the police spokesperson said. “The purpose of this interview was to understand exactly what had happened, and what could have led him to say this.”

“We can regret that this took the form of an official police interview,” Lewandowski said, “but under the circumstances, we could have gone even further.”

According to the police spokesperson, the father “showed regret for his son’s words.”

The Collective Against Islamophobia in France said that his interview by police “was an additional trauma that illustrates the collective hysteria that has ensued since the beginning of January.”

Prosecutors in Nice have yet to decide how to proceed in the case.

Victim of bullying?

Ahmed has said that he was a victim of bullying by the school principal, according to his lawyer, BFMTV reported. On one occasion, the child was playing in a sandbox. According to the child’s account relayed by the lawyer, the principal told the boy, “stop digging in the sand, you won’t find a machine-gun in there.”

On another occasion, Ahmed, who is diabetic, alleges the principal deprived him of his insulin, saying, “Since you want us all to die, you will taste death.” The principal has denied the accusation.

Guez Guez said that Ahmed’s parents planned to lodge a complaint about the school’s behavior.

According to Le Figaro, the French education ministry confirmed that the school principal had also made a report about Ahmed to child protective services.

Government crackdown

While Ahmed’s case may seem extreme, the complaint against him is enabled by an atmosphere of intolerance and authoritarianism fostered by the French government.

Since the attacks in Paris, the government has launched an unprecedented crackdown,condemned by Amnesty International as well as French civil rights groups, in which it has jailed dozens of people for things they have said, under the vague charge of “defending terrorism.”

Previously, as The Electronic Intifada reported, one of those arrested was a sixteen-year-old high schooler, for allegedly posting a caricature mocking Charlie Hebdo.

Yesterday, French President François Hollande used an International Holocaust Memorial Day speech to confirm that his government plans to tighten its control over what people are allowed to say online and stiffen penalties for illegal speech.

The One Belt and One Road initiative is a long-term macroscopic program of strategic development for the entire State.” - Zhao Xijun, Deputy Dean of School of Finance, Renmin University, Global Times, Dec 28, 2014

The Chinese flag hangs in fraternal union with Serbia as one crosses the Zemun-Borča bridge, completed last month, and now named Pupinov most.  It was yet another infrastructure gem in what is becoming typical of Beijing’s global investment push, a policy typified by big spending and the reiteration of connectedness.  Where a country is short of cash in terms of the big projects, a Chinese loan is peeking around the corner to cover the cost.

Not that this is done out of heart warming altruism. The visionary functionaries in Beijing have been dreaming of revivals and resurrections over what has come to be known as the “one belt, one road” policy.  The language of the New Silk Road, more than a patch on the ancient Silk Road strategy of the Han Dynasty, has become something of an accelerant drive in planning, the hallmark of President Xi Jinping’s still early tenure.

Former UN under-secretary general and current Indian MP, Shashi Tharoor, dipped into his history books in examining the visions of the current Chinese leadership.  The old Silk Road had both overland and maritime routes.  Goods and ideas snaked along them, be they tea, gunpowder, paper, Buddhist scripture, and music. China itself obtained access to plants, medicines, astronomy, and the Buddhist and Islamic faiths (Project Syndicate, Oct 14, 2014).[1]

Tharoor sees in Xi a historical echo, that of the Chinese Ming Admiral and eunuch, Zheng He, who moved across the Indian Ocean over the course of seven times in the early fifteenth century.  He did so with a vast armada that would have dwarfed its European contemporaries.  Women in Kerala could thank the Admiral for his efforts – the wok became a vital cooking instrument; innovative fishing techniques were introduced – all before the Portuguese got their vessels wet.

Others, such as the retired submarine commander Gavin Menzies, see in Zheng the origins of world discovery, putting forth a theory so stretched it suggests that the intrepid eunuch was in Australasia and the Americas well ahead of either Christopher Columbus or James Cook.[2]  Chinese silk road romanticism is a vast and variable creature – and everyone is wanting to cash in on it.

Near the Sri Lankan coastal town of Galle, Zheng erected a stone tablet, translated into Tamil, Persian and Chinese with a grand aspiration: that Hindu deities bless his efforts to forge global trade and commerce, all for peace and prosperity.

In September 2013, when speaking at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, Xi spoke of the creation of a “New Silk Road Economic Belt” that would run from China through Central Asia.[3]  Zheng’s maritime business is coming home to roost.

“To forge closer economic ties, deepen cooperation and expand development in the Euro-Asia region, we should take an innovative approach and jointly build an ‘economic belt’ along the silk road.”  Xi saw this as a “great undertaking” that would benefit “all countries along the route”. Invariably, however, the context is overwhelmingly based on a development rationale: trade is good and infrastructure should be established for that end.

The economic belt, as Xi terms it, features such concrete manifestations as high-speed rail lines, highways, bridges, and Internet connectivity. These, in turn, will be complemented by port development that is already seeing a presence in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.

The second component to the strategy was put forward to the Indonesian parliament in October.   China’s economic ties on land would be met by a “Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century”, a venture that seeks to interlink Eurasia.  In doing so, China will seek greater cooperation with ASEAN countries “to make good use of the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Found set up by the Chinese government” (China Daily, Oct 4, 2013). The subtext here: placate neighbours over territorial disagreements with trade incentives and cash.

There are a few consequences in this vast push.  There is a large and looming currency angle.  China is seeking to push renminbi in its transactional value and encourage currency swap arrangements between the People’s Bank of China and other central banks. Then comes the culture side of things, a dividend that will supposedly be richer the more money is invested in the various regional economies along the belt and maritime routes.

Spearheading the drive are China’s state-owned enterprises, incarnated, modern Silk Road emissaries and vessels.  “Chinese enterprises,” explained Zhang Jianwei, deputy chairman of the Shanghai International Chamber of Commerce, “are in urgent need of financial support to help them expand in overseas markets” (Global Times, Dec 28, 2014).  Such overseas expansion is required to develop Western Chinese markets, left behind by the growing cities and economic zones that have privileged the east.

As if to demonstrate the illusion of free markets and unsupported corporate agents, Jianwei noted how overseas economic expansion required sweetening government assistance.  “The US did so in the 1950s and Japan followed suit in the 1960s and 1970s.”

The latest promise in terms of huge infrastructure visions comes in the form of a promise to fund a high speed rail line between Moscow and Beijing.  The announcement came on Weibo, and is promised to cost in the area of 1.5 trillion yuan ($242 billion).  Jon Stone, a journalist formerly working for Buzz Feed UK had a prediction: “New speed railway between Moscow and Beijing announced; it’ll be finished before HS2 (High Speed 2) gets to Birmingham.”  Could be, given that developers will first have to deal with a very much in the way and treasured 200-old pear tree that is proving more than a snare (BBC News, Jan 29).[4]

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

Notes

Now we finally come to the real agenda of the vaccine industry. After vaccines have been repeatedly documented by the Natural News Lab to contain neurotoxic chemicals such as mercury, formaldehyde and MSG; after vaccine shots have been repeatedly shown to kill people who take them; and after flu shots have been exhaustively shown to be based on no science whatsoever – with vaccine manufacturers openly admitting there are no clinical trials to show they even work – the rabid vaccine pushers are unveiling their end game: throw vaccine resistors in prison.

This is the call by USA Today columnist Alex Berezow. “Parents who do not vaccinate their children should go to jail,” he writes in this USA Today column.

And just to be clear, what Berezow means is that parents who do not vaccinated their children no matter how toxic the vaccine ingredients really are should be thrown in prison. There is no exemption being discussed or recommended that would allow parents to object to vaccines because of the neurotoxic chemicals they contain (such as the heavy metal mercury, still found in flu shots given to children in America). There is also no discussion that informed parents might reasonably object to vaccines based on the recent confession of a top CDC whistleblower who reveals how the CDC committed scientific fraud to bury scientific evidence showing a link between vaccines and autism.

But continuing with the imprisonment idea now being touted by USA Today, it begs the practical question: What exactly should happen after the parents are thrown in prison? Well, of course, the state will take custody of the children because they are now parentless.

So the suggestion that parents who seek to protect their children from toxic vaccine ingredients should be thrown in jail is simultaneously a call for the state to seize custody of all children who are not yet vaccinated with Big Pharma’s toxic vaccines.

Vaccine skepticism to be criminalized in America?

Let’s all be perfectly clear about the crux of this argument published by USA Today. Because police resources in U.S. cities are finite at any given time, Berezow is essentially arguing that law enforcement officers — who are already spread dangerously thin almost everywhere — should be diverted from stopping real criminals such as rapists, murderers and child molesters, and instead should fan out across U.S. cities, going door to door to handcuff and arrest vaccine skeptics while demanding Child Protective Services seize their children.

This argument, dutifully printed by the blindly obedient mainstream media, represents the total abandonment of scientific reasoning and the desperate invocation of the very same policies espoused by Mao, Pol Pot, Mussolini and Adolf Hitler: If the People can’t be persuaded to do what you want through reason, then force them to do so at gunpoint.

Compliance problem solved!

This is, by definition, the very essence of a medical police state. To find that such a policy is boldly called for in the pages of USA Today demonstrates just how treacherously far we have now ventured into the all-too-familiar territory of the world’s past dictatorial regimes which routinely violated human rights in the name of compliance.

And yet this column in USA Today is actually a tremendous victory for vaccine skeptics. There is no greater admission of the failure of vaccine “science” than this call for vaccines to be enforced at gunpoint. It is the wholesale abandonment of any philosophy that might respect human freedom, dignity or choice. Instead, this pronouncement equates intelligent, informed vaccine skeptics with murderers and rapists, implying they should share the same fate, if not the same prison cell.

It is an admission, ultimately, that the vaccine pushers have run out of reasonable ideas and must now resort to force as their last remaining weapon against common sense.

Medical tyranny lives in America

Berezow, like most vaccine promoters, is a medical tyrant. He openly calls for government to use the threat of violence to destroy families, ripping them apart at gunpoint and seizing their children, in order to achieve a level of vaccine compliance that Berezow claims is based on irrefutable evidence of safety and efficacy.

That evidence, of course, is entirely imagined by the vaccine industry itself — the same industry that includes printed inserts in its own vaccines which openly admit things like, “…there have been no controlled trials adequately demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with FLULAVAL.”

Here’s the photo of the vaccine insert so you can see it for yourself:

As Natural News has exhaustively documented, many vaccine inserts openly admit they don’t work. Vaccine virologists working for Merck even went public with detailed admission that Merck faked vaccine clinical trials and committed scientific fraud. Beyond that, all vaccine inserts openly admit to a shockingly long list of side effects which include seizures, skin disorders, neurological problems and more:


To make a broad claim that all vaccines are “safe and effective” is to label yourself hopelessly ignorant of medical reality and utterly unqualified to comment on vaccine safety in the first place. To say “vaccines are universally safe and effective” is as cognitively incompetent as saying, “the Earth is flat” or that mercury is also good for children when it’s installed in their teeth. (That’s the official position of the American Dental Association, by the way, a chemical-pushing industry front group still hopelessly stuck in the chemical denials of the 1950′s.)

And the yet the tremendous appeal of government coercion — from the point of view of a medical tyrant — is that it no longer requires consent. This “miracle of compliance” is of course the science method of choice in North Korea, Communist China and the old U.S.S.R. The basis of the idea of coercion is that “people should be free to make their own choices, but only as long as those choices are the ones we demand they make.”

When American media outlets begin to print opinion pieces that resemble the logic of Kim Jong-Un, you know something has gone terribly awry.

No one can threaten your safety… except US!

In his USA Today column, Berezow argues that “no person has the right to threaten the safety of his community,” yet he personally threatens millions of Americans with arrest and imprisonment in his own column. He alone has the right to make such threats, you see, because his threats of taking away your children and imprisoning you as a parent are conducted under the contrived banner of “science.”

His threats don’t count as threats in exactly the same way the Obama administration’s murder of over 3,000 civilians with drone strikes don’t count as civilian casualties, either. Or how the national debt of $18 trillion — most of it accrued under Obama alone — doesn’t count either because “the federal budget is balanced!” (Hint: it isn’t.)

Speaking of civilian casualties, in the name of “science,” Berezow obviously wants to see an armed medical Gestapo going house to house, taking children away from parents and turning them over to the state while those parents are incarcerated in a prison system that’s already bursting at the seams.

This picture imagines what a future vaccine enforcement police team might look like:


The same government that Berezow hopes would use armed police to enforce vaccine compliance has, of course, already granted absolute legal immunity to vaccine manufacturers. So children who are harmed by vaccines have no legitimate legal recourse.

The obvious catch-22 is damning to the industry: Here, take these vaccines at gunpoint, but if your child is harmed or even killed by these vaccines we’ve forced upon you, that’s your problem, not ours. Even the Associated Press recently conducted an investigation into the kangaroo vaccine court system in the United States and concluded it was a comedy of justice that denied payouts to parents for ten years or more.

This imprisonment argument by Berezow also begs the question: Does Mr. Berezow support government coercion and the threat of violence against the citizens of America solely in the arena of vaccines? Or does he also think government should arrest and imprison people who don’t comply with the government’s wishes in all other areas, too?

By Berezow’s own logic, people who refuse to purchase Obamacare health insurance should also be arrested and imprisoned. Probably even people who write about vaccine dangers should be arrested and imprisoned too, by simply legislating that pesky First Amendment out of existence. And why stop there? Why not arrest and imprison people who refuse to testify against themselves, refuse to quarter government soldiers in their private homes, refuse to submit to illegal searches and seizures or refuse to remain silent in their own defense?

Perhaps one day the government will demand that everybody eat Soylent Green. Those who refuse will not merely be arrested, but scooped up and “processed” into more Soylent Green to force-feed to the obedient, ignorant masses.


USA Today promotes a medical police state

The fact that USA Today would even run a column like this shows the late hour of the medical police state which the American people have apathetically allowed to emerge under their watch. In an era where the U.S. government now openly spies on all our phone calls, emails and phone texts — and where the Obama administration has prosecuted more truth-telling whistleblowers than any other administration in U.S. history — the systems of oppression, propaganda and control have reached a tipping point of public revolt.

The mass militarization of local police forces across the country is a screaming red alert that civil liberties are being crushed while the government itself seems to be arming for war against the American people. Local police departments now possess mine-resistant armored cars, automatic military weapons, surveillance drones and even futuristic thermal vision devices that can see through walls. If vaccine skepticism is criminalized, all these weapons of war — many transferred to police departments after returning from the front lines of battle in the Middle East — will be turned against citizens who refuse to inject their children with the toxic chemical poisons still found in vaccines.

The next simple step is to declare vaccine skeptics to be “domestic terrorists.” From that point, all varieties of government coercion, violence, torture and murder of these people is “ethically justified” according to the vaccine pushers.

Rather than removing the toxic chemicals, the vaccine industry wants to force them on you at gunpoint

Public trust in the government is at an all-time low. Public trust in the lying mainstream media continues to plummet by the day. Public trust in toxic vaccines continues to fall as well, and this trend will never be reversed until the vaccine industry decides to remove toxic heavy metals and chemicals from its vaccines (if ever).

Rather than cleaning up its own products, the vaccine industry turns to people who call for government violence against citizens in order to achieve involuntary compliance.

We’ve seen these kind of people before, of course. They are the same kind of people who shoved Obamacare down our throats, hitting us all with hefty fines if we refuse to purchase an insurance product that the government totally lied about with claims that it would be “affordable.” Remember, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor?” It’s the same kind of malicious lie uttered by vaccine poisoners who claim vaccines are “totally safe and effective.”

But in his USA Today column, Berezow ups the ante. He does not merely call for vaccine skeptics to be fined. That financial coercion tactic is apparently too mild for a man who is so sure he’s 100% correct that he’s willing to bet YOUR family on it. No, Berezow calls for vaccine skeptics to be arrested and imprisoned. If you do not get your children vaccinated, he unabashedly argues, you are an enemy of the state.

He’s sure of it. In fact, he knows far better than you what should be injected into your children. You are too stupid to know the right answer, he implies, so leave it to the pharma companies that conduct deadly drug experiments on children to tell you what to do with your own children.

Inform yourself of the facts about Big Pharma’s ongoing chemical child abuse by reading about The top ten medical conspiracies that actually happened.

I want to thank Berezow for finally removing all doubt about the true agenda of the vaccine pushers. I’m sure it won’t be long before non-vaccinated children and adults will be required by law to wear Scarlet-letter shame symbols much like the Jews in 1939, and at some point people like Berezow will no doubt call for parents who don’t vaccinate their children to be rounded up and sent to “re-education camps” where they will be subjected to PowerPoint presentations dreamed up by GlaxoSmithKline, the same company found guilty of felony bribery crimes by the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

Medical freedom was almost written into the U.S. Constitution

Berezow has done us a service in all this, however. He has made the argument for a national “medical freedom” amendment to the United States Constitution.

It is because of tyrant-minded people like Berezow that America’s founders created a First Amendment, Second Amendment, Third Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment and so on. All of these Constitutional amendments grew out of systematic government abuses of civil liberties and human freedoms.

Interestingly, a “medical freedom” amendment was also considered at the time by Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Over 230 years ago, he warned:

“Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict the art of healing to one class of Men and deny equal privileges to others; the Constitution of the Republic should make a Special privilege for medical freedoms as well as religious freedom.”

Dr. Rush, in other words, foresaw precisely the kind of medical tyranny now published by USA Today. “Medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship” is exactly what we’ve seen happen. That dictatorship, argues Berezow, should be enforced at gunpoint by the government itself. This is the definition of fascism: a corporate-government partnership to force obedience onto the population through coercion dished out under the threat of violence and incarceration.

USA Today should be ashamed that it has published a medical dictatorship propaganda piece that would have made Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels proud.

When the facts don’t support the agenda, turn to government guns instead

The call to imprison vaccine resistors is an open admission that the SCIENCE behind vaccines isn’t compelling and must therefore be replaced with GUNS.

How else will you arrest people, take their children away and imprison them unless you bring men with guns and badges to the “guilty” households, anyway? Where junk science fails, government guns are clearly the answer. And if guns alone don’t work, they always have tanks, too.

In essence, the argument being made in the USA Today column is that guns should be used to force vaccine compliance. It’s not even a leap, as guns in the hands of government goons are already being used to force children into toxic chemotherapy treatments against their will.

Click here to read the list of government-sponsored medical kidnappings taking place in America right now. This list will, of course, never be published by USA Today for the simple reason that these real medical facts are not consistent with the mainstream media’s vaccine propaganda agenda.

Why stop at vaccines? Why not threaten to arrest anyone who disagrees with a doctor on anything?

If total medical compliance — at any cost to human freedom and dignity — is the goal, then why not launch a whole new domestic army called D.M.S.; the Department of Medical Security. Declare that all who oppose Big Pharma’s medical advice are “threats to national security” and ship them all to Gitmo where the U.S. government continues to run torture operations.

Once you start down the road of medical tyranny, it doesn’t end well for humanity. Just ask the victims of the Nazi chemical conglomerate IG Farben, which was later split into chemical corporations, one of which is now known as Bayer. Under the guidance of the “science” of Nazi Germany, heinous chemical crimes were committed against countless Jews, including gassing them to death and using Jewish prisoners for medical experiments.

The former chairperson of Bayer, for the record, was convicted of Nazi war crimes at the Nuremburg tribunals and sentenced to prison. Today, pharma executives routinely commit felony crimes yet go free, even while USA Today calls for parents to be imprisoned for saying no to Big Pharma’s deadly chemicals.

No doubt the vaccine promoters of today who demand the arrest and imprisonment of American vaccine resisters would also approve of using those prisoners for their medical experiments. See the full history of U.S. medical experiments herehere and here. Most of these inhumane medical experiments were carried out against prisoners, minorities or soldiers.

It’s quite clear that the very same ethically-perverse medical system that’s right now calling for the imprisonment of vaccine skeptics would, of course, have no hesitation using those people for “important medical research in the interests of the public good.”

This is how crimes against humanity are born. You are watching it unfold right before your very eyes, right in America today, in the pages of USA Today. This is history in the making, and it is a history that will march us all right down the road of state-sponsored medical terrorism that’s openly supported by the mainstream media.

Some people learn from the mistakes of history. But Berezow is determined to repeat them.

Sources for this story include:
http://www.naturalnews.com/045418_flu_shots_…
http://www.naturalnews.com/037653_vaccine_ad…
http://www.naturalnews.com/047841_flu_vaccin…
http://www.naturalnews.com/048422_flu_shot_s…
http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/0…
http://www.naturalnews.com/046630_CDC_whistl…
http://www.naturalnews.com/048383_measles_ou…
http://www.naturalnews.com/048402_measles_va…
http://www.naturalnews.com/047702_vaccine_co…
http://www.naturalnews.com/026685_Pfizer_chi…
http://www.naturalnews.com/044385_medical_co…
http://www.naturalnews.com/036417_Glaxo_Merc…
http://www.naturalnews.com/034892_Benjamin_R…
http://www.naturalnews.com/048348_medical_ki…
http://www.naturalnews.com/045939_ig_farben_…
http://www.naturalnews.com/036484_Bayer_Nazi…
http://www.naturalnews.com/019189_human_medi…
http://www.naturalnews.com/019187_human_medi…
http://www.naturalnews.com/048032_US_governm…

The existence of nuclear weapons makes Armageddon possible. If there were no nuclear weapons on the planet the human race would have a dire threat lifted and could focus on the other, less instantaneous, threats to the survival of our species.

In certain cops and robbers films a scene arises when protagonists are lined up opposite each other, both factions pointing weapons at their opponents. Obviously this is a highly risky scenario which typically ends badly – in a bloodbath.  One of the protagonists decides he can win if he fires first; a passing waiter drops a tray of glasses and a gunman thinks the shooting has started; someone can’t stand the tension, panics, and starts the slaughter. Occasionally sanity prevails and everyone carefully puts down their weapons. Such a confrontation is the posture adopted on a nuclear scale by our leaders to make us feel safe! All the nuclear states resist an agreement to give up their nuclear weapons. In fact they are all renewing them.

On Tuesday 20th January, 2015, the UK parliament debated the renewal of its Trident nuclear ‘deterrent’. The debate was called by the Scottish and Welsh national parties and the Green Party. It took place to the great discomfort of the Conservative and Labour parties for obvious reason when we consider that the vast majority of Conservative MPs and most Labour MPs want to renew the UK’s Trident fleet of nuclear submarines. A fully armed Trident submarine has the destructive power to incinerate over 76 million human beings1, extrapolating from the number killed at Hiroshima. It is contended that preparing the ability to carry out this crime against humanity is for our security (which raises the question ‘How many people are you prepared to exterminate to keep you safe?).

Our country is not threatened by any major power. In fact the only threat is from terrorists who seek revenge for our illegal and immoral wars in the Middle East so this degree of Armageddon-scale nuclear belligerence on the part of the Tories and Labour is puzzling to many and various explanations have been attempted. An article in The Guardian suggests that if we as much as run down our nuclear arsenal ‘..Washington would not be happy’2. The reasons suggested for Labour’s position include that it would be threatening jobs and would be seen as weak on ‘security’; jobs for building mass extermination machines and security by threatening to participate in nuclear Armageddon.

The government is well aware that UK citizens do not want this threat of instant annihilation hanging over them at all times. The panic over Scottish independence made that abundantly clear (the Scottish people want the Westminster nuclear arsenal removed from their country). Further evidence is the way the Ministry of Defence (War is Peace) submitted a written statement about Trident to the House of Commons the very day its Christmas break started. The government has said it will not make a decision about Trident renewal until 2016. Yet it has already allocated more than 3 billion pounds of our money to the project for ‘long lead items’2. Moreover it has just earmarked an additional 261 million pounds for Trident. This is treating the public with contempt. Further evidence, if such is needed, that the government has already decided to renew its instruments of Arnageddon, is the exclusion of Trident costs from the Strategic Defence and Security Review planned for after the general election. This is in spite of the fact that the Trident project is predicted, by the early 2020s, to cost around 35% of the defence equipment budget2.

If the government really had the security of its citizens as its first priority it would be spending the billions of Trident pounds on making the world free of the curse of nuclear weapons. So why is the government’s agenda so at variance with the wellbeing of the UK’s citizens?

Sir Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat’s former defence minister told the House of Commons it is‘inconceivable’ that ‘any sane person could press the button’.  Can he really be unaware of the possibility of a not- sane person, or someone otherwise incapacitated, getting their finger on the nuclear button? Is he unaware that in 1995 the heavy drinking Boris Yeltsin had his finger on the nuclear button when the Russian black box was opened because their early warning system (falsely) told of an incoming nuclear strike3? Russian policy at the time was ‘launch on warning’. Global nuclear war was only avoided because one man, Boris Yeltsin, had the good sense to wait in spite of the electronic notice that a nuclear attack on Russian was under way. Does Harvey not know that since 1945 there have been a large number of other terrifying occurrences where the human race has very narrowly escaped a global nuclear war because of accidents and misunderstandings; all of which would have been impossible if the arsenals had not existed? Is he unaware that, thanks to the proliferation encouraged by the nuclear states, the repressive dictatorship in North Korea has an arsenal of nuclear weapons and that other non-nuclear states in the Middle East and elsewhere have the capability to build nuclear weapons?

In fact the government has its own agenda and it is not to do with the security of citizens. It is about prestige, power, saving face, pleasing the Americans. Mr Blair the globe-wandering multi-millionaire ex UK Prime Minister gave the game away in his memoires when he wrote, referring to Trident renewal, “the expense is huge and the utility … non-existent in terms of military use”. In the end he thought giving it up would be “too big a downgrading of our status as a nation”2 What distorted sense of values attaches ‘prestige’ to a nation by its preparing for the incineration of millions? And what kind of representatives of the people are willing to put the survival of the people at risk in order to inflate their egos and boost their ‘prestige’? Of the 193 states in the United Nations there are only 9 who have built nuclear weapons. The UK, to its shame, is one of them. The nuclear states not only put their own citizens at risk but also the citizens of the non-nuclear states. Nuclear radiation does not respect national boundaries.

The government tells the public the UK must have its ‘minimal, independent, nuclear deterrent’. It is not minimal, it is not independent and it is not a deterrent. What is minimal about destroying 76 million people? An All-party Trident Commission, set up by the British American  Security Information Council last year stated that Britain’s deterrent is ‘a hostage to American goodwill’2. What is independent about that? It is not a deterrent because it does not deter the only threat to our safety, namely that from terrorists.

In the foreword to the UK 2007 White paper, ‘The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent’, the then prime Minister Mr Blair wrote that we cannot foresee what will happen in the next 50 years, thus implying that the UK should keep its nuclear arsenal for that length of time. This was tantamount to saying the British government was not going to honour its commitment to ‘..pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its forms…’. This was the obligation, according to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, of all those governments who had signed and ratified the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. It was therefore the obligation of the UK government. And on 15 January 2007, as the Defence Select Committee began its inquiry into the government’s White Paper on Trident replacement, a new opinion poll showed that the vast majority of the British public supports a convention banning all nuclear weapons4; more evidence that the agenda of the politicians is different from that of the citizens.

The time has come for our ‘prestige’-obsessed politicians to abandon their attachment to their instruments of Armageddon; time for Britain’s politicians to honour the wishes of its citizens and declare the United Kingdom a nuclear free zone.

Notes

  1. During the House of Commons debate on 20.1.15 the Scottish Nationalist MP Angus Robertson informed the House that ‘at present, a UK Trident submarine remains on patrol at all times, and each submarine carries an estimated eight missiles, each of which can carry up to five warheads. In total, that makes 40 warheads, each with an explosive power of up to 100 kilotons of conventional high explosive—eight times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, killing an estimated 240,000 people from blast and radiation. See: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150120/debtext/150120-0001.htm#15012040000001
  2. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/defence-and-security-blog/2015/jan/20/trident-uk-s-nuclear-arsenal-commons-debate
  3. http://www.globalissues.org/issue/67/nuclear-weapons
  4. http://www.cnduk.org/cnd-media/press-releases/trident/item/88-new-poll-uk-public-  wants-nuclear-weapons-banned

J’accuse!: The Elephant in the Room of Anti-Semitism

January 30th, 2015 by Anthony Bellchambers

The Holocaust in Europe was the extreme distillation of the essence of evil. It was prepared, as are all genocides, by first engineering the dehumanisation of its victims. The ‘Final Solution’ of the Nazis then progressed to the wholesale killing of millions, mostly Jews, on an industrial scale, that established a terrifying precedent in the history of man’s inhumanity to man.

Seventy years on, there is tragically now a resurgence of anti-Semitism driven in large part by the policy of the Israeli government in its brutal treatment of the five million indigenous Muslim Arabs whose lands it still occupies – much of which it has expropriated in violation of international law.

To omit this causal factor in the increase of antipathy towards those who openly support current Israeli government policy, is to collude in its agenda, either deliberately or otherwise. There has been much media comment this week that has correctly condemned the rise in anti-Semitic invective but virtually no acknowledgement of that which is undoubtedly a key driver to its growth.

Until such time that the policies of the Netanyahu government, in illegally settling 500,000 of its citizens on occupied land in order to prevent self-determination for the indigenous Palestinians, are condemned outright and positive action taken by those Western governments who have diplomatic and commercial relations with Israel’s Likud coalition, then anti-Semitism will continue to increase exponentially to the danger of European society, in general.

It is self-evident that when democratic integrity is jettisoned and human rights are abused – not in legitimate defence of the state but in order to achieve economic profit and political and military advantage, then such a society is corrupted as are those who contract with it.

For those UN states who are signatories to the Geneva Conventions, to allow any maverick UN member to continuously violate international agreements by treating the law and the United Nations itself with contempt, then such tacit collusion bodes ill for future world peace and for the international community.

International law and human and civil rights must be respected today if the Western world is not to experience mass murder again, tomorrow.

Hon. Paul Hellyer

The Globalization of War is an extraordinarily important book. It tags the origin of a long series of wars and conflicts, from the end of World War II to the present, as being direct products of U.S.  Foreign Policy. Nothing happens by accident. U.S. provocateurs, usually agents of the CIA, incite one conflict after another in what Michel Chossudovsky labels America’s “Long War” against Humanity.

It comprises a war on two fronts. Those countries that can either be “bought,” or destabilized by a corrupt international financial system, are easy targets for effective conquest. In other cases insurrection, riots and wars are used to solicit American military intervention to fill the pockets of the military-industrial complex that General Eisenhower warned us about. The “End Game” is a New World Order embracing a dual economic and military dictatorship prepared to use atomic weapons and risk the future of the entire human species to achieve its ends.

Michel Chossudovsky is one of the few individuals I know who has analyzed the anatomy of the New World Order and recognized the threat to the entire human species that it is.

The Globalization of War is a must read for anyone who prefers peace and hope to perpetual war, death, dislocation and despair.

Hon. Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Minister of National Defence

Michel Chossudovsky’s Book The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity can be ordered directly from Global Research Publishers or Amazon.  Click image above to order

Bolivian President Evo Morales weighed in on the controversy over remarks made earlier this month by Andrew Lack, the new chief executive of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

The BBG is noteworthy for its connection to the CIA’s effort to control media and dispense white propaganda. The United States government agency controls the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Marti and TV Marti. CIA control of these organizations is well documented.

BBG is also associated with the United States Information Agency and the National Endowment for Democracy. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, said in 1991.

“When the media turns into the voice of the people, especially in the voice of revolutionaries, there are those people and the media, who will judge them and falsify the truth,” Morales told RT, the Russian state-funded cable and satellite television channel. “This media is the voice of the developing countries, the voice of the peoples of the world, and it deserves our admiration.”

During an interview with The New York Times, Lack said it is the job of the BBG to confront news organizations not under the control of the U.S. government.

“We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram, “ said Lack, the former president of NBC News. “But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.”

Lack’s comments were so transparently over the top, even the State Department felt obliged to distance itself from them:

Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura told RT Lack and the BBG are calling alternative media to be censored.

“There should be no Big Brother telling us what we can or cannot see,” Ventura said. “If someone desires to watch RT TV and takes the opinion they don’t like, well then they merely don’t have to put it to that station.”

Michael Krieger, the editor of Liberty Blitzkrieg, points out that RT is popular in the United States and thus a challenge because Americans are fed up with news coverage offered by the corporate media.

“RT’s success was not because the Russian state poured so much time and money into the network,”Krieger writes. “It’s success was a direct result of the U.S. mainstream media being so childish and useless. By spewing a mind-numbing amount of inane celebrity gossip, sports drama and cartoonish American propaganda, a massive audience yearning for a different perspective was already present and underserved. RT merely came along and filled that void.”

Comments made by Daniel Russel, a representative of the US State Department, condemned the current Thai government’s legal proceedings against deposed prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the nepotist proxy of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, also deposed in a military coup in 2006, and guilty of mass murder, serial corruption and abuse of power, terrorism, and backing armed insurrection in 2009 and 2010.

Russel’s comments were verbatim the talking points used for years by the Shinawatra regime to fend off attempts to check its autocratic despotism, and were again repeated by the remnants of Shinawatra’s political front in Thailand after Russel’s comments, prompting Thai authorities to summon 3 senior members of Shinawatra’ political party.

During Shinawatra’s short term in office, her political party bankrupted the country and devastated its rice industry, jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of farmers. Nearly one million farmers went unpaid for over half a year after a government subsidy scheme collapsed amid rampant corruption and theft. The rice scheme in particular led to Shinawatra’s impeachment from office, an impeachment the US maintains is “politically driven.”

Also during Yingluck Shinawatra’s tenure in office, amid growing protests against the regime she posed as head of, her brother’s political network employed heavily armed terrorists wielding M16s, AK47s, M79 grenade launchers, pistols, and hand grenades, killing nearly thirty unarmed protesters and bystanders including women and children, and maiming over 800 more.

Image: The Shinawatra regime has employed heavily armed terrorists throughout its time in power, including in 2010 (above) where militants murdered soldiers, police, protesters, and by-standers alike – caught openly brandishing war weapons. Despite the depravity of the Shinawatra regime throughout its time in power, the US State Department is still defending it, and condemning those attempting to remove its destructive influence from Thailand’s political landscape. 

 

Confirmation of Shinawatra’s role in the terrorism aimed at breaking the will of protesters and maintaining his grip on political power in Thailand, came from one of his most stalwart foreign media supporters, ex-senior Reuters editor Andrew McGregor Marshall, who fled Thailand and has worked as part of Shinawatra’s lobbying and public relations efforts since 2011. Marshall claims to have spoken directly with the killers and has confirmed that they were indeed “red,” the term used to describe members of Shinawatra’s political machine.

The US then, in addition to defending a deposed prime minister guilty of immense, overt criminality and corruption, is also defending a deposed regime that employed terrorism and mass murder against its own people. If Marshall’s story is true, Russel should perhaps be questioning why the new Thai government is only impeaching Yingluck Shinawatra, and not trying her for treason or for supporting terrorism.

If Marshall’s story is not true, perhaps networks like the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and papers like the Guardian should stop deferring to him as an “expert” on Thai politics.

Regardless, that the narrative employed by both the US State Department and Shinawatra’s political machine, echoes similar US-backed sedition seen recently in Hong Kong, and documented in other nations including Libya, Syria, and Egypt where protests led to wide scale violence and even full-scale war.

Call it one of many US dirty secrets. Washington covertly recruits, funds, arms, trains, and directs extremist Islamic State and other Takfiri terrorists.

The same ones it lies about waging war on. Uses them as proxies against its adversaries.

Notably during Obama’s tenure against Libya’s Gaddafi. Currently against Assad in Syria. Ahead against future enemies to be named later.

Iran very much in Washington’s cross hairs. Longstanding US regime change plans remain firm.

RT InternationalFars News and LiveLeak reported the same story.

Calling Yousaf Al Salafi an IS Pakistani commander.

In detention in Pakistan, he admitted getting funds from America. On January 22, he and two associates were arrested in Lahore, said AFP.

According to the English language newspaper The Express Tribune:

“During investigations, (Al Salafi) revealed that he was getting funding – routed through America – to run an organization in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria.”

The information came from its sister Urdu language Daily Express. From a source close to Pakistan’s investigation on condition of anonymity. Saying Al Salafi was arrested in December.

Admitted getting $600 per recruit. Worked with at least one accomplice. Reportedly a Pakistani imam. According to the unnamed source:

“The US has been condemning the IS activities but unfortunately has not been able to stop funding of these organizations, which is being routed through the US.”

“The US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests, and that is why it launched offensive (actions) against the organization in Iraq but not in Syria.”

Its oil facilities, infrastructure, grain silos and other non-military sites are targeted. Scores of civilians were killed.

IS fighters remain largely unscathed. New ones enter Syria through Turkey, Jordan and Israel’s Golan.

According to a Pakistani security source, recruiting IS fighters “was raised several several times (by) local media” reports.

“(E)ven in the diplomatic corridors between US and Pakistan…(M)edia reporters here suggest(ed) that hundreds of recruits have been exported from Pakistan.”

The issue was discussed with John Kerry on his recent Islamabad visit.

“The matter was also taken up with CENTCOM (US Central Command) chief, General Lloyd Austin, during his visit to Islamabad earlier this month,” an unnamed source said.

Reuters was told Al Salafi is a Pakistani-Syrian. Came to Pakistan via Turkey. Arrived five months ago. Established a Pakistani-based IS group.

Local media report growing internal IS influence. Citing incidents in Lahore and Multan. Where IS flags and graffiti are clearly visible.

Last year, Obama began bombing claimed IS sites in Iraq and Syria. Washington wants unchallenged regional control.

Fear-mongering is longstanding US practice. Obama nonsensically calls IS “unique…If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond (the) region, including to the United States,” he claims.

Washington’s objectives include controlling regional oil. Installing pro-Western puppet regimes.

Balkanizing Iraq into the Kurdish north, Baghdad center and Basra south. Controlling the country more effectively this way.

Ousting Assad. Eliminating a key Israeli rival. Replacing him with a US-friendly stooge. Isolating Iran. Its turn awaits US regime change plans.

America’s dark side threatens world peace. Obama wants congressional authority for unconstrained war. Billions of dollars in funding.

America’s longstanding business is war. Obama calls it US “leadership.” International law calls it naked aggression.

Based on Big Lies. With no just cause. No existential or other threats. No legal standing regardless of congressional action.

Security Council members alone may authorize war. Every US post-WW II one was illegal. Including ongoing direct and proxy ones. New ones planned.

War is America’s strategy of choice. Permanent ones. Dirty ones. Waged without mercy. Against nations US forces can easily roll over.

How many more countries will America ravage and destroy? How many more victims will die?

Wars won”t end when Obama leaves office. Whoever replaces him will continue them seamlessly. Wage new ones.

Expect no end to mass slaughter and destruction. Not as long as lunatics run the Washington asylum.

The only solution is nonviolent revolution. The alternative is continued death, destruction and growing homeland repression.

Tyranny by any standard. Masquerading as democracy works only for so long. America’s dark side is to ugly to hide.

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

Israeli politicians responded with outrage to Hizballah’s attack on Wednesday on an Israeli military convoy close to the Lebanese border. Anti-tank missiles killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven more.

With Israel and Hizballah at the closest point to a major confrontation since their month-long war in 2006, Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called for a “very harsh and disproportionate” response.

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, echoed him. “To those who are challenging us in the north, I suggest you look at what happened in the Gaza Strip,” he said, referring to Israel’s Operation Protective Edge last summer that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

Following the soldiers’ deaths, Israel struck southern Lebanon, killing a United Nations peacekeeper. It is unclear if or what further action Israel intends to take.

But the truth is that Hizballah’s attack was the very minimum retaliation Israel could realistically expect following an air strike earlier this month on one of Hizballah’s convoys in southern Syria.

That attack, on January 18, killed six Hizballah commanders and several members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, including a general.

Israel’s offensive could not have been timed to inflict greater humiliation on Hizballah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Two days before, he had made a speech in which he warned Israel against launching attacks into Syria and threatened that Hizballah would respond with long-range rockets.

Hizballah appears to want this episode to draw to a close. Israel’s defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, confirmed on Thursday that he had received such a message from Hizballah delivered through UN peacekeepers. Iran, however, may be planning its own retaliation.

The more pressing question is whether Israel will let the matter drop.

On Thursday, Netanyahu sought to place the blame on Iran rather than Hizballah: “It is Iran that stands behind the attack on us yesterday from Lebanon.”

Opportunistic attack

There are grounds for suspecting that Israel’s original January 18 strike had little or nothing to do with its stated aim: to prevent an imminent attack on Israel.

More likely, it was partly opportunistic – according to Israeli media reports, the Iranian general left on a cell phone, revealing his location – partly driven by Netanyahu’s personal calculations as he faces elections, and partly strategic.

As ever, Netanyahu is desperate to cast Iran in the role of bogeyman, in the hope of upsetting the talks between Tehran and the western powers on Iran’s nuclear energy programme – his own political hobby horse. Those negotiations have shown signs of progress.

Netanyahu has already mobilised much of the US Congress to his side, with US legislators threatening to impose tougher sanctions on Iran.

The emphasis Netanyahu places on subverting the negotiations can be inferred from his decision to infuriate the White House by engineering an invite to address the Congress in early March to further his cause.

Hizballah and Iran are therefore keen to avoid stepping into Netanyahu’s trap. Wednesday’s deadly attack was carefully calibrated to make it hard for him to escalate matters further.

The anti-tank missiles were fired into an area known as the Shebaa Farms, a seven-mile strip of mountainous territory between Lebanon and Syria. Sovereignty over the area is disputed.

Lebanon claims it as Lebanese, a position traditionally backed by Syria. But Israel argues it is part of the Syrian Golan Heights and was therefore illegally annexed to Israel along with the Heights back in 1981. Under much pressure from Israel and Washington, the United Nations has backed Israel’s claim.

In practice, however, the Shebaa Farms is territory no one controls. Israel Ziv, the former head of Israeli army operations, explained to Israeli journalists on Wednesday the “gentleman’s agreement” with Hizballah. “Generally, what happens in Shebaa, stays in Shebaa,” he said.

Playing it cautious

That was obviously Hizballah’s working assumption as it launched its strike on Wednesday.

Had it hit from Syria, it risked opening the door to more Israeli attacks on Syrian army positions, further weakening the regime as it struggles against opposition forces trying to topple it.

And had it launched the missiles into Israel from Lebanon, it would have justified a stiffer Israeli response against Lebanon, drawing Beirut into the Syrian war and unleashing a wave of domestic criticism of Hizballah.

The Shia militia also indicated its desire to close the matter by firing precise missiles at a military target rather than, as Nasrallah had suggested before Israel’s attack on January 18, by launching rockets at Israeli communities in the north.

Further, no effort appears to have been made to capture any of the surviving soldiers, as Hizballah did in 2006, triggering the war with Israel. Certainly a captured soldier would have raised the pressure on Netanyahu considerably to escalate hostilities.

In truth, the Israeli elections may actually stay Netanyahu’s hand. Should he seek a major escalation, Israeli military analyst Ron Ben Yishai noted, his opponents would accuse him of waging a “political war”, and one that would inevitably result in Hizballah rocket fire on Israel.

Influential columnist Ari Shavit concluded similarly: “The Israeli people will neither forgive nor forget the one who brings missiles to Ben-Gurion Airport, to the Kirya government and IDF compound, and to Tel Aviv’s skyscrapers.”

More likely, Netanyahu will seek to contain events for the time being.

Confrontation looming

Nonetheless, sooner or later Israel can be expected to push for a major confrontation with Hizballah and Iran in Syria.

Israel’s generals are concerned that the two may gain a permanent foothold in Quneitra province, the region on the other side of the ceasefire lines from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. They are – as is Israel – keen to fill the power vacuum created last summer by the Syrian army’s loss of control over the area to rebel groups.

Israel wants to maintain its freedom to operate in Syrian skies unimpeded and appears to be working closely with the rebels in the area north of the Golan Heights.

In its security-obsessed worldview, any effort by Hizballah – Israel’s most effective regional foe – to establish such a base close to the Golan will be perceived as a major strategic threat.

On Wednesday night, Netanyahu told his security cabinet: “For some time now Iran is trying, via Hizballah, to set up a terrorist front against us in the Golan Heights. We are working aggressively and responsibly against this attempt.”

Israel has been working to that end through a series of air strikes in Syria to weaken the Syrian army and its Hizballah ally, and through proxies, making opportunistic alliances with Syrian opposition forces, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. It may even secretly work with Islamic State if it believes that will damage Hizballah and the Syrian regime.

The stakes are, of course, no less serious for Hizballah and Iran. Israel’s goal of undermining the Syrian regime and army would push Syria further into the mire of feuding sects and militias.

The emerging chaos in southern Syria, fuelled in part by Israeli interventions, offers Israel a final benefit. It has consolidated the consensus in Israel against ever returning the Golan Heights to Syria and removed any international pressure to do so.

Saudi Oil and U.S. Hypocrisy

January 30th, 2015 by Sara Flounders

Few events expose the utter hypocrisy of U.S. politicians’ grand words about democracy so starkly as their praise for the recently deceased King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. For decades U.S. imperialism and all the imperialist powers have given political, military and diplomatic support to the corrupt feudal family that rules Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of oil.

Heads of state abruptly changed plans and rushed to Riyadh to greet the 79-year-old new ruler King Salman. President Obama, British Prime Minister Cameron accompanied by Prince Charles, French President Hollande, Afghanistan President Ghani, Spain’s King Felipe VI, Turkish President Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif were all anxious to be assured of the regime’s continuation.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute and brutal dictatorship. The country is named after the royal Saud family that has expropriated the country’s fabulous oil wealth, and treats it as a wholly owned family asset. Their control is maintained by massive state-organized repression. All forms of political dissent and social organization, from political parties to trade unions, are banned under pain of death.

Executions by decapitation in public squares are held on average once every four days. Capital crimes include adultery, homosexuality and political opposition to the regime. Public stonings are also a common form of execution. Other punishments include eye gouging, limb amputation, tooth extraction, surgical paralysis and public lashings.

Wealth and poverty

Government departments are treated as fiefdoms. Their enormous budgets are unaudited and at the family’s personal disposal. Personal and state funds are completely commingled. All family members are guaranteed astronomical monthly allowances from birth, the amount depending on their proximity to the king’s inner circle. The Saud family, with almost 4,000 members, extends privileges up to 30,000 others related by marriage.

The cabinet is made up of Saud family members. The key ministries — interior, foreign affairs, the military commands, National Guard and regional governorships — are held exclusively by family members.

The government does not gather data on poverty, literacy, unemployment or health coverage. However, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported in July 2012 that 60 percent of the population lived below the poverty line

A third of the country’s population of 27 million are immigrants with no rights, no status and no social benefits, who make up 80 percent of the work force.

Saudi unemployment is estimated at 10 percent by the CIA World Factbook, but 28 percent among young men aged 15 to 24, who lack needed skills. Women are not considered part of the work force.

Women enslaved

Women in Saudi Arabia have the lowest literacy in the region. More than 1.5 million migrant women work in domestic slavery. A 2012 report from the International Trade Union Confederation on workers’ rights in Saudi Arabia reported alarming levels of child labor, discrimination and forced labor.

All women, regardless of their class position, have no rights to employment, property or education. They cannot step one foot out of their homes unless covered head to toe in a long black abaya and accompanied by a male family member.

Women in powerful positions in the West ignore the reality of Saudi women. For example, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, hailed King Abdullah as “a strong advocate for women.” (Washington Post, Jan. 23) U.N. World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin praised King Abdullah: “He was a true humanitarian leader, always on the side of the world’s hungry poor.” (www.un.org, Jan 23)

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined in the imperialist outpouring of praise, expressing in the same statement his gratitude for the king’s “generous humanitarian and developmental support” throughout the Middle East.

Because Wall Street, U.S. oil corporations, military industries and banks reap such enormous profits from this gang of thieves, they have done everything possible to arm, train and reinforce the Saudi military. The role of the corporate media is to provide a veneer of respectability to this family of looters.

This narrow ruling elite relies on five U.S. military bases, Western arms and military training for its protection and survival. The U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in nearby Bahrain, defends the status quo with aircraft carriers, 20 ships, nuclear submarines, 103 strike aircraft and 20,000 sailors and marines.

In return, the Saudi royal family pays protection money to U.S. military industries like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Boeing. Billions also go to British, French and German military corporations. The Saudi military budget in 2013 was $67 billion, the fourth largest in the world, after the U.S., China and Russia.

Saudi spending on weapons comes to 9.3 percent of its gross national product,  the highest in the world. The economy is the least diversified of any oil-producing country, with more than 90 percent of its export earnings coming from oil. Virtually everything else must be imported.

Until the 1970s, four U.S. companies were the sole owners of Saudi oil —  free and clear of taxes and duties. As revolutionary upheavals in the region led many countries to demand full control of their resources, Saudi oil was carefully nationalized into a conglomerate called Aramco. Exploration, drilling, pumping, transport and the building of pipelines, ports and terminals were all structured to return maximum profits to U.S. corporations. While the Saud family can take immense wealth for themselves, the vast majority of these funds must be held in U.S. banks or be used to purchase U.S. materials.

Contras and terror militias

This opaque, unaudited economy makes Saudi Arabia a perfect conduit and funding source for U.S. wars, military adventures and secret agencies. At the same time, the U.S. State Department can claim that it knows nothing about who is funding terrorist militias — from the Nicaraguan contras in 1983 to ISIS in 2015.

When Congress denied funding for the reactionary contras in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan covertly arranged for the Saudis to send them weapons to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Saudi money was a key component in the CIA’s war against the progressive Afghan regime that began in 1979. Working with Washington, it has also funded reactionary militias in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon that have metastasized into a viciously sectarian and destabilizing force throughout the Middle East.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 2005, is considered a mastermind of the Saudi terror network. He is now director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.

Saudi wealth also keeps other military dictatorships in the region afloat. In Egypt, the Saudis provided $1 billion to help General al-Sisi’s coup against the elected Morsi government. After the coup they pledged an immediate $8 billion to stabilize the military regime and have now committed more than $20 billion to maintaining that dictatorship.

The continued rule of the House of Saud is based on a thin, corrupt layer of extreme privilege. Dependent on immigrant labor, foreign trainers and technical experts, it is hated by its own people. U.S. imperialism has staked its continued domination of the region on a detested and narrow grouping that lacks popular support or legitimacy.

Bilderberg 2015 Location Confirmed

January 30th, 2015 by Steve Watson

The location and dates of the forthcoming 2015 gathering of secretive elites under the Bilderberg Group banner has been confirmed.

Local police have verified that the conference will take place at the opulent Interalpen Hotel, in the Austrian mountains near Telfs.

In a press release, the Austrian police revealed that security for the confab will be in operation from June 9th-14th. As is usually the custom with Bilderberg, the actual meeting of delegates will take place from the Thursday to the Sunday of that week, June 11th-14th.

The police press release notes that security at the Bilderberg meeting will be part of the same operation as security for the much more public G7 meeting, which is scheduled to take place at the beginning of the same week, 7th-8th June, at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, Germany.

“The security measures at the G7 summit on 7 and 8 June 2015 in Bavaria, and the Bilderberg Conference from 9 to 14 June 2015 in Tyrol were focal points of a briefing by Federal Minister Mag Johanna Mikl-Leitner and representatives of the Ministry of Interior and State Police Tyrol on 13 January 2015 in Vienna.” the press statement reads.

“The venue of the G7 summit lies only 3.6 kilometers in a straight line from the Austrian border, both events cover similar issues and take place one after the other, the G7 summit on 7th and 8th June 2015 and the Bilderberg conference on 9th to 14th June 2015.” the statement continues.

“The job of the police at the G7 and the Bilderberg conference is the protection of state guests, eminent persons and the general public,” the Minister of the Interior is quoted as saying. “The defense and prevention of attacks is a top priority. However, the police presence also ensures the protection of peaceful demonstrators, because freedom of assembly is one of the fundamental rights of our democracy.” the Minister is said to have added.

The statement also notes that in conjunction with German police, extra special police forces will be called in to operate security during the gatherings. Known as COBRA, the forces are Austria’s primary counter-terrorism special operations tactical unit. and are not part of the Austrian Federal Police but are directly under the control of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Major General Robert Strondl, Head of the Operations Department of the Interior Ministry noted that “For months we gather all the relevant information about both events and create risk assessments that are continuously updated and are the basis for all other plans.”

The statement also notes that police are considering “significant” traffic restrictions, and even a 30 mile no-fly zone around the Bilderberg meeting, to include paragliders and hang gliders.

Rumours over the venue for this year’s Bilderberg meeting, the Interalpen Hotel, were first touted back in August when enquiries to the hotel revealed that it was already fully booked on the first two weekends of June. The uncovering of Bilderberg came earlier than ever before, perhaps reflecting the intense scrutiny that the group has come under in recent years.

Interalpen-Hotel is surrounded by forest and mountains, close to a ski resort, and not too far away from Innsbruck airport. Its ‘Meetings And Events’ brochure, states that “the hotel lies at an altitude of 1,300 metres in an exclusive setting in the Tirolean Alps and offers panoramic views of magnificent mountain peaks.”

The venue, owned by Swiss manufacturing giant The Liebherr Group, has a 400-capacity conference centre with “a magnificent Alpine backdrop”. The hotel previously hosted the Bilderbergers in 1988, 27 years ago. If the latest reports are correct, 2015 will mark the third occasion that the conference has been held in Austria.

It seems that the elites have returned to form following 2014′s relatively transparent location in Copenhagen Denmark, where reporters were able to get up close and personal with attendees as they wined and dined.

The gathering this year is sure to be reminiscent of the 2011 meeting in St. Moritz, Switzerland, when Bilderbergers retreated into the mountains, shielded by winding roads and forest cover.

While the mainstream media habitually fails to afford Bilderberg the press coverage it demands – characterizing the group as a mere “talking shop” – innumerable examples of the organization having a direct impact on global policy have been documented in recent years, leading to charges that the group is fundamentally undemocratic in nature.

In 2010, former NATO Secretary-General and Bilderberg member Willy Claes’ admitted that Bilderberg attendees are mandated to implement policy decisions that are formulated during the meeting.

Bilderberg has influenced major global events ahead of time, picking Presidents and Prime Ministers on a regular basis with total contempt for the democratic process.

In 2013, Italian lawyer Alfonso Luigi Marra requested that the Public Prosecutor of Rome investigate the clandestine organization for criminal activity, questioning whether the group’s 2011 meeting in Switzerland led to the selection of Mario Monti as Prime Minister of Italy.

In 2009, Bilderberg chairman Étienne Davignon even bragged about how the Euro single currency was a brainchild of the Bilderberg Group.

Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

Is the US Drone Fleet at ‘Breaking Point’?

January 30th, 2015 by Drone Wars UK

Media attention was aroused by the collision of a drone with a tree on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday, reportedly prompting the Secret Service to go into ‘lockdown’.

But dozens of social media sites have been focussing on the 2012-2013 story of drone pilot Brandon Bryant, rather than the more recent news about a leaked internal US defence force memo, which appeared in Australia’s number one news site, www.news.com.au, earlier this month.

It alleges that a leaked memo reveals that experienced drone operators are leaving the Air Force ‘in droves’ and fewer new recruits are entering the ranks.

US Air Combat Command (ACC) says it is facing a ‘perfect storm’ of budget cutbacks, staff turnover and heightened demand.

Air force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh is reported to state in the memo that he is “extremely concerned” at the future of the “combat viability” of the drone program. His fleet is expected to keep 65 drone combat air patrols constantly active. The general now wants this figure cut to 62.

Each robotic combat aircraft requires a team of 10 trained pilots and support staff to maintain its operations around the clock. Current staffing levels are failing to meet the designated minimum emergency staffing level of 8.5 personnel per drone.

Drone operators are said to have been treated like machines, their leave cancelled and compulsory career-critical, training sessions postponed in an effort to maintain staffing levels. Staffing levels are now so low that operators in training at military drone schools are being drafted long before they complete their programs.

In sum it says: “The United States’ fleet of robots — and their human handlers — are at ‘breaking point’ after 15 years of non-stop combat”.

Ukraine is the epicenter of possible European war. Ongoing events should scare everyone.

Kiev’s war on Donbas rages. Area freedom fighters continue routing its military. It’s desperate for more Western support.

Wanting greater numbers of US-led NATO boots on the ground than are already involved in fighting.

Three recent regime false flags didn’t achieve Kiev’s objective. Perhaps something major is planned. A Kiev 9/11.

Big enough to embroil Europe in war. Meaning East/West confrontation. America v. Russia. Possible nuclear war.

It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Today is the most perilous time in world history. Thursday Stop NATO reports are disturbing.

US Army Trains for New War in Europe,” reported editor Rick Rozoff. Exercise Allied Spirit I involves America, Britain, Canada, Hungary and the Netherlands.

Continuing through January 31. “(D)esigned to provide multinational interoperability training at brigade and battalion levels to enhance US and (NATO’s) effectiveness.”

In other words, prepare for potential war with Russia. According to US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) commander General David Perkins:

America’s military is responsible for “synchronizing and delivering national power (to) seize, retain and exploit the initiative and maintain relative advantage over all enemies.”

Prepare for an eventual US/Russia military showdown if current political and economic war fails to achieve Washington’s objective.

Namely, turning Russia into another US colony. Eliminating a major rival. Controlling its resources. Exploiting its people.

Part of America’s strategy for unchallenged global dominance. Waging permanent wars to achieve it.

Ongoing in Europe’s heartland. Kiev’s war on Donbas rages. Threatens to become much more than civil war.

NATO Backs Ukraine Client in 290-Day War: Stoltenberg,” headlined Stop NATO.

Secretary-General Stoltenberg is a convenient US-controlled front man. NATO’s number two is number one.

Its eminence grise. Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow runs things.

A former Assistant Defense Secretary for International Security Affairs.

Clinton’s National Security Council European Affairs director. A former US ambassador to Russia.

Calling Moscow “more an enemy than partner.” Intends NATO measures to counter nonexistent Russian aggression.

Including stepped up US military presence near its border. America’s dirty hands risk the unthinkable. War with Russia means all bets are off.

Supporting Kiev’s war on Donbas increases the possibility. On Thursday, Stoltenberg met with Ukraine’s illegitimate foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin.

Expressed concern about nonexistent “support of Russia to the separatists.”

Telling Klimkin “we will continue to support you, and we will work with you, with strong support to the independence and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.”

Saying NATO “support(s) all efforts (for) a peaceful solution based on the Minsk agreements.”

While systematically violating them. Arming, funding and training Kiev’s military. Participating in its war on Donbas.

Disingenuously talking peace. Waging dirty war without mercy. Showing no signs of ending. Heading for potentially much greater conflict than already.

Ukraine is effectively bankrupt. Its economy deeply in tatters. Outside aid alone keeps it from disintegrating. Whether enough remains to be seen.

At the same time, military spending increases. So-called defense is the only sector of Ukraine’s economy showing growth.

Illegitimate oligarch president Poroshenko said “(t)his year we plan to increase strength of the armed forces of Ukraine up to 250,000 people.”

In other words, preparing for greater conflict. Backed by US-dominated NATO.

Risking far greater war than already. “NATO Trains Very High Readiness Joint Task Force For War With Russia,” reported Stop NATO.

Consisting of land, air, sea and “special operations” as needed. (A)ble to deploy within a few days to respond to any challenges that may arise on NATO’s flanks.”

Code language for possible war on Russia? It remains to be seen. US-dominated NATO policy heads dangerously in this direction.

Obama wants congressional authorization for unconstrained war. On the phony pretext of combating IS. Syria, Iran, Donbas freedom fighters and Russia the real targets.

With lunatics running things in Washington, expect continued wars without end ahead.

Michel Chossudovsky new book titled “The Globalization of War: America’s ‘Long War’ against Humanity” is essential reading.

Visit Global Research.ca for special offer pre-order information. In his preface, Chossudovsky calls the “globalization of war” a “hegemonic project.”

Like nothing in human history preceding it. “Major military and covert intelligence operations are (ongoing) in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East,” Chossudovsky explains.

Combining “major theater operations (and) covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.”

US-dominated NATO partnered with Israel coordinate global conflicts “at the highest levels of (Western) military hierarchy.”

Political and economic wars accompany them. At stake is humanity’s survival. It’s very much up for grabs.

Challenging Russia irresponsibly risks crossing an unthinkable red line. Risking potential military confrontation.

On December 4, US House members barely stopped short of declaring war on Russia. Overwhelmingly passing a non-binding resolution. Signaling hostile US intentions.

Former Congressman Denis Kucinich said at the time:

“NATO encirclement, the US-backed coup in Ukraine, an attempt to use an agreement with the European Union to bring NATO into Ukraine at the Russian border, a US nuclear first-strike policy, are all policies which attempt to substitute force for diplomacy.”

Heading things dangerously toward open confrontation. The unthinkable. Possible nuclear war.

Last May, Senate members introduced S. 2277: Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014.

Its full title is “(a) bill to prevent Russian aggression toward Ukraine and other sovereign states in Europe and Eurasia, and for other purposes.”

Senator Bob Corker (R. TN) introduced it with 26 Republican co-sponsors. Senate Foreign Relations Committee members considered it.

No action was taken so far. Perhaps in the new Congress. Obama as anti-Russian as congressional hawks. Fascists making policy.

Proposed legislation provides “major non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova for purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense articles or defense services.”

Effectively incorporating these countries into NATO. Making its killing machine more formidable.

Letting Washington establish bases on Russia’s border. Challenging Moscow irresponsibly. Risking direct East/West confrontation.

Ongoing events risk the worst possible outcome. Chossudovsky is clear and unequivocal saying “America’s s global military design has been one of world conquest.”

“War and globalization are intricately related. Militarization supports powerful economic interests.”

“America’s ‘Long War’ is geared towards worldwide corporate expansion and the conquest of new economic frontiers.”

US-dominated NATO partnered with Israel and other rogue states comprise “a formidable military force, deployed in all major regions of the World.”

Targeting all independent countries for regime change. Including Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, Hezbollah in Lebanon and others.

Potential US-instigated nuclear war threatens humanity’s survival. MSM propaganda increases the possibility.

So does public indifference. Anti-war activism is absent. More than ever needed to stop America’s hegemonic madness.

Its “long war” rages. No end in sight looms. Either we find a way to end it or it’ll end us.

A Final Comment

On Thursday, EU foreign ministers met in Brussels. Extended  economic/financial sanctions on Russia through September.

Agreed to consider additional ones. To be decided when ministers meet on February 9. A statement issued lied.

Blaming Russia for “continued and growing” support for Donbas rebels. Saying Moscow shares “responsibility” for escalated conflict.

Russia and Donbas freedom fighters are consistently blamed for Kiev’s crimes. Greece’s new government expressed phony rhetorical opposition to renewed sanctions.

Its Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias approved them. Brussels unity was required to do so. “We are not the bad boy,” Kotzias maintained.

Saying one thing. Doing another shows what ordinary Greeks can expect from its new government.

A previous article called it business as usual wrapped in populist rhetoric. Betrayal after promising real change.

Moscow’s EU ambassador Vladimir Chizhov commented saying:

“By acting in such a narrow-minded way, the EU in essence is subjecting to additional tests our partnership – the partnership between Russia and the European Union, which is regrettable.”

“(B)esides selective assessments of these or those events, sweeping criticism of Russia is the dominating element.”

“As if Russia, and not the Kiev authorities with the connivance of the EU, had unfolded the bloodbath in eastern Ukraine.”

“The call for implementation of the Minsk agreements contrasts with statements heard in the past few days from the Ukrainian capital that they are no longer content with the Minsk agreements and it’s necessary to seek another format.”

“But while these conversations can be heard, shelling of residential districts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Gorlovka continue.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica “Mogherini, while summing up the meeting on Thursday, selected three components in the EU’s reaction to deterioration of the situation in eastern Ukraine. Unfortunately, all three are wrong.”

On Thursday, Putin said Russia “must overcome the pressure of external factors by means of strengthening its economic and financial sovereignty.”

“The current period is not easy,” he explained. “(B)ut nothing unexpected has happened. The crisis developments were expected.”

Russia won’t surrender its political and economic sovereignty. Putin promised new measures for “additional stability against external shocks…”

Including “diversification, the growth of non-energy, high technology, agriculture, and the national financial and banking sector.”

At the same time, he intends confronting major Western challenges diplomatically. Given America’s rage for regime change, he’ll need tough-minded policies with teeth.

The only thing US lunatics running things understand.

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

A new independent medical fact-finding mission in Gaza has detailed Israel’s deliberate killing of Palestinian civilians in its summer 2014 attack, codenamed Operation “Protective Edge.” Acts documented in the investigation include the use of human shields, close-range murder of civilians, targeting of medics, and more.

The report, based on fieldwork and research conducted by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel), in conjunction with several other human rights and medical organizations, sits at a bulky 237 pages. PHR-Israel, in its words, “recruited eight independent international medical experts, unaffiliated with Israeli or Palestinian parties involved in the conflict,” leading specialists in numerous medical, health, and human rights fields. Jennifer Leaning, the Director of the Center for Health and Human Rights Department of Global Health and Population in Harvard University’s School of Public Health, was among those chosen to oversee the report.

The investigation was also supported by a wide array of prominent international organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Science and Human Rights Program, the British Shalom-Salaam Trust, Christian Aid, the Open Society Foundation, and many more.

In its executive summary, the fact-finding mission estimates that, in Israel’s 50-day attack on Gaza,

  • over 2,100 Palestinians were killed;
  • at least 70% of those killed were civilians;
  • over 500 children were killed;
  • more than 11,000 were wounded; and
  • at least 100,000 were made homeless.

The Electronic Intifada published a summary of the investigation’s findings, drawing particular attention to an incident in the Gazan village of Khuzaa, in which the Israeli military shot into a crowd of civilians who were fleeing Israel’s siege and carrying white flags while shouting “peaceful, peaceful.”

This attack, nonetheless, pales in comparison to those disclosed in the report. PHR-Israel reported Israel did the following in its Operation Protective Edge:

  • used civilians as human shields;
  • shot civilians dead at close range;
  • left mortally wounded children on the ground to die, even after soldiers made eye contact with them;
  • conducted multiple consecutive strikes on a single location (“double taps”), killing injured survivors and those attempting to rescue them;
  • bombed medical clinics that were acting as shelters for civilians and the wounded;
  • “deliberately” attacked hospitals;
  • prevented emergency medical evacuation, even by international organizations such as Red Cross;
  • killed and injured “many” medical teams that were evacuating the injured;
  • refused to allow civilians to exit areas being attacked;
  • targeted civilian escape routes;
  • shelled ambulances;
  • attacked civilians attempting to flee areas under fire;
  • physically beat civilians;
  • denied civilians food and water;

and more.

The report additionally documented Israel’s use of unconventional and experimental weapons, resulting in injuries local doctors characterized as “strange or inexplicable.” Among those used were

  • flechette munitions (which doctors reported surgically removing from the faces of children);
  • “explosive barrel” bombs, referred to as “Tzefa Shirion” weapons, that were made to be used to clear mines, but were dropped on civilians;
  • what are suspected to be DIME weapons, leading to “unusual burns” and “unusual amputations,” with “charred” black skin that did not smell like burning flesh and black “tattooing” around cauterization-like stumps of amputees;
  • weapons that left “‘computer chips’ with Sony markings embedded as shrapnel in people’s bodies”;
  • and “a gas of unknown type,” a white-colored substance with a “sewage-like smell” that burned skin and caused respiratory problems and could be seen and smelled from 500 meters away.

The medical fact-finding mission notes that the “overwhelming majority of injuries causing death or requiring hospitalisation … were the result of explosion or crush injuries, often multiple complex injuries.” Roughly half of interviewed Gazans were attacked in their homes. Entire families were killed in the attack.

 

A graph from the report illustrating the most common locations in which Gazans were injured.

A graph from the report illustrating the most common locations in which Gazans were injured

The report states that Israel’s

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

It also indicates that “there was no guaranteed safe space in the Gaza Strip, nor were there any safe escape routes from it.” The experts accused Israel of “serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

The Aftermath

These findings are based on extensive interviews with victims, witnesses, healthcare professionals and human rights workers, local government officials, and representatives of international health organizations. Forensic, medical, and other material evidence was also collected to scientifically verify these oral testimonies.

PHR-Israel spoke with 68 hospitalized patients who were injured in the attacks, and includes transcripts of these discussions in its report. The majority of Gazans interviewed after the attacks suffered from:

  • insomnia,
  • flashbacks,
  • nightmares,
  • depression,
  • weight loss,
  • loss of appetite,
  • unstable emotional states

In the wake of the attack, the fact-finding mission reports

  • strains on and a lack of resources in Gaza hospitals;
  • problems with sending patients from Gaza hospitals to outside hospitals outside for treatment;
  • long-term displacement because of the partial or total destruction of approximately 18,000 homes;
  • long-term psychosocial and mental health damage; and
  • a dire need for rehabilitation services with insufficient resources to meet them.

Potential War Crimes

In its recommendations, PHR-Israel et al. call upon international actors, including the UN, the EU, and the US, to “ensure that the governments of Israel and Egypt permit and facilitate the entry of investigative teams into Gaza, including experts in international human rights law and arms experts,” revealing that this “has not yet been done, months after the offensive.”

Israel prevented the world’s leading human rights organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, from entering Gaza in August 2014 to investigate. This medical fact-finding mission may be the first large-scale independent investigation conducted in Gaza since the summer attacks.

PHR-Israel also encourages the international community to support investigations conducted by local Palestinian civil society groups in their “efforts to collate evidence in Gaza, in order to proceed with legal and/or other remedies as well as to seek justice and/or reparations.” It suggests that the evidence presented in the report “be used for the purposes of legal determination of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Israel of committing war crimes in its summer 2014 attack on Gaza. Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has shown that most of those killed in Israel’s approximately 70 attacks on Gaza homes were women, children, and the elderly, and says the IDF’s targeting of homes may constitute war crimes.

Palestine will join the International Criminal Court on 1 April 2014. In January 2015, the court’s prosecutor launched a preliminary probe into possible war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israel, and its US allies, often refer to the Israel Defense Forces as “the most moral army in the world,” leading some, such as esteemed Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, to criticize what they see as hypocrisy, in light of documented attacks such as these. In July 2014, in the midst of Operation “Protective Edge,” Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer insisted that the Israel Defense Forces deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for the “unimaginable restraint” they practiced in Gaza and that Israel earned “the admiration of the international community” for its purported caution. This report appears to indicate otherwise.

Since 2009, the economic situation of Greece has helped expose the architecture and policy regime problems of the European Union and the eurozone. On Sunday the Greek electorate rebelled against the self-defeating austerity policies imposed upon the country by Germany and its collaborators. As the new Greek government begins to take shape an Australian connection has emerged, with Yanis Varoufakis appointed to the crucial position of finance minister.

Of course, there has long been an Australian connection with Greece – Australia has been a major destination for the Greek diaspora of the twentieth century. But Yanis Varoufakis is not really a part of that phenomenon.

Born and raised in Greece, following university studies in economics in England, including a PhD, he came as a lecturer at the University of Sydney in the late 1980s. He stayed at Sydney University for more than a decade, returning to Greece and a position at the University of Athens in the early 2000s.

Varoufakis was a gifted and popular university teacher in Sydney. I know because I taught side-by-side with him for a number of years. He was also a thoughtful and productive researcher.

His research was first focused primarily upon game theory. But he also developed an expansive intellectual reach across what may be called “political economy” in the generic sense, particularly focused on the evolution of capitalism as a global system. He became a highly active commentator, including for The Conversation, and policy advocate in relation to the euro crisis over the last half-decade.

The problems of the eurozone can be more easily understood with an analysis of global capitalism and the place of the US within it. On the one hand, the eurozone then appears as a smaller-scale version of the problem of international imbalances (deficits and surpluses) between the national economies of the global system. On the other hand, as a common currency area, the eurozone and its governance could be contrasted (unfavourably) with a successful common currency area, the United States. The operation of the latter could serve to reveal what was lacking in the architecture of the euro area.

Hesitant politician

Varoufakis has described himself as an “accidental economist”. He is perhaps even more an accidental finance minister.

There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of his earlier expressed ambivalence about entering politics and the party-political fray. It is the vacuum created by the failure of the mainstream parties of the centre-left and centre-right that calls forth this participation.

Indeed it is the moral and intellectual failure of the European political class as a whole that is the root cause of the both leftward and rightward shifts of European voters in recent times.

The media’s referring to the new Greek government as “far left” or “radical left” is just an intellectually lazy acquiescence in the language of the European political and policy establishment.

In truth, the position of Syriza is not so way out. That such a perception can have public currency is more a symptom of how far to the right the centre of politics has shifted since 1979 (Thatcher, Reagan) and 1989 (the collapse of official Communism). Syriza is merely left-wing, whereas the mainstream European parties supposedly of the centre-left are no longer left-wing at all.

A new game to play

I mentioned above that Varoufakis’s earliest academic research was concerned with game theory, albeit from a rather critical standpoint. He has already broken down the realities of one Greek election using game analogies.

Game theory as a method of research in the social sciences is first and foremost about the logic of strategic interaction between players. The situation that is being played out now, between Greece (as well as others of the “south”) and the political establishment in Europe, is without doubt a strategic situation. It is a game of high-stakes policy poker with the players on both sides, perhaps engaged in an element of bluff.

It is interesting that a game theory expert should find himself, now, at the centre of this situation. There is a great deal at stake, for the welfare of the people of Greece, the other high-debt States and Europe as a whole, as well as for the viability of the European Union and the euro.

Farmers in Nigeria’s Taraba State are being forced off lands that they have farmed for generations to make way for US company Dominion Farms to establish a 30,000 ha rice plantation. The project is backed by the Nigerian government and the G8′s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa.

Two Nigerian NGOs, Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN) and Center for Environmental Education and Development (CEED)1, visited the affected area to meet with local communities and relevant government officials. They discovered that the lands being given to Dominion Farms are part of a public irrigation scheme that thousands of families depend on for their food needs and livelihoods. The local people were not consulted about the deal with Dominion Farms and, although the company has already started to occupy the lands, they are still completely in the dark about any plans for compensation or resettlement.

The local people are united in their opposition to the Dominion Farms project. They want their lands back so that they can continue to produce food for their families and the people of Nigeria.

The global land grab comes to Taraba

Over the past three years, the Nigerian government’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Federal Ministry of Investment have sought to increase foreign direct investment in agriculture as a strategy to increase national food production. Through this policy, vast tracks of agricultural lands have been identified by the government for large scale projects by foreign companies. This increases the risk of land grabbing, a process where local communities are displaced from their land and lose their ability to grow food and their livelihoods.

Lands of Gassol community that have been allocated to Dominion Farms. The photo shows the link road constructed by UBRBDA and the use of the lands for grazing by the local community. (Photo: CEED)

Lands of Gassol community that have been allocated to Dominion Farms. The photo shows the link road constructed by UBRBDA and the use of the lands for grazing by the local community. (Photo: CEED)

One of the projects being developed is in Taraba State, on a 38,000 ha parcel of lands that were initially acquired by the state’s Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority (UBRBDA) in 1978. In 2012, the US company Dominion Farms Limited signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Taraba State government and the Nigerian government for a 30,000 ha concession on the UBRBDA lands for the creation of a large scale rice farm. The MOU was signed without public knowledge and the details of its contents remain unknown to the local community of Gassol and organisations that have been following the deal.

The Gassol Community and the UBRBDA lands are located on the North- Eastern shoreline of the Taraba River, where, for a long time, the local people have used the lands for their various daily farming and food production activities on a free-access basis. Along one side of the lands runs an 8 km long embankment that was built by UBRBDA to protect the farmlands from the river’s overflow. The lands provide major ecological and hydrological functions and are a major source of livelihoods for the farmers of Gassol and other neighboring communities. The Gassol farmers occupy a collection of individual farm lands within this area, which they inherited from their ancestors who first settled there. The community has a population of around 40,000 people.

In 2010, Dominion Farms made its appearance in Gassol seeking the allocation of lands, water resources, fishing ponds and grazing areas used by the community for the construction of a large scale rice farm. The allocation of these lands to Dominion Farms will clearly undermine the capacity of local farm communities to produce food and earn livelihoods. The project will also affect the pastoralists of the area by disrupting the spaces they use for livestock grazing and pastoralist routes. There is a great risk that these communities will be forced off their lands and will lose their livelihoods without adequate compensation and resettlement to other high quality farmlands.

Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN) and Center for Environmental Education and Development (CEED) decided to support the communities affected by the Dominion Farms project by undertaking a fact finding mission to the area to meet with them and the relevant government officials. The field trip occurred between June 8-13, 2014. One of the objectives of the research was to ascertain how the activities of local farmers are endangered by the entrance of the company and how the government is involved in the process. Our main goal, however, was to hear from the farmers of Gassol about what they think of the Dominion Farms project.

Consultations with the affected farmers in Gassol community revealed severe irregularities. The farmers interviewed indicated that only the local elites and government agents were consulted, some of whom had personally endorsed the project in their community in spite of apparent widespread opposition amongst the members of the community. It further revealed that consultations did not deal with the question of whether or not the local communities accept the project and under what terms they would do so. Some affected farmers said that promises about adequate compensation for their lands, about the building of schools, roads, hospitals and a farm training centre, and about the employment of local people had been made when Dominion Farms and government agencies initially visited the area, but none of these have been kept.

What is Dominion Farms?

Dominion Farms Limited is a company registered in Kenya, with headquarters in Oklahoma, US, that is majority owned by US-Canadian businessman Calvin Burgess as part of his “Dominion Group of Companies”. The company operates a controversial rice farm operation in the Yala Swamp area of Western Kenya that local farmers say has resulted in the loss of their lands and livelihoods, and grave social, environmental and health impacts on the affected communities.2

It has been reported that the company is operating in Nigeria through a subsidiary, Dominion Rice & Integrated Farms Limited.

Dominion’s activities in Nigeria and Taraba State are relatively new. In 2012, the company began a process to establish a large rice farm project in the Northern Nigerian state of Taraba. The company signed a MOU with the Federal Government of Nigeria represented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Taraba State Government.

The Dominion Farms project in Taraba is part of the co-operation framework agreement of the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa. Dominion Farms has signed a letter of intent between the Government of Nigeria and the G8 aid donor countries that involves a $40 million investment in “growing and processing rice on 30,000 ha of land”, a 3,000 ha “nucleus farm owned by Dominion”, a rice mill and the training of Nigerian youth at Dominion’s Kenyan operations.3 In spite of the New Alliance rhetoric on tackling food security, on the ground the Dominion Farms investment has resulted in land grabbing, reducing the ability and resilience of local farmers to feed themselves and their communities. Ultimately, it exposes the problems of the G8’s push for corporate-driven agriculture.

Corporate capture of a public irrigation scheme

Historically, Taraba is among the states created from the defunct Gongola state in the North Eastern part of Nigeria. The state was created in 1991 and its capital city is Jalingo. It has an estimated population of 2, 688,995 and a total land area of 54,473km2, making it the Nigerian state with the third largest land area. It is bordered by Plateau State and Benue State on the west and by Cameroon on the east.

The majority of people in Taraba are engaged in agriculture. They produce cash crops such as coffee, tea, groundnut, beni-seed, cotton, maize, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava and yam, and they fish and rear cattle, sheep and goats in large number. The state currently has 16 local government areas, one of which is Gassol, where the Dominion Farms project is situated.

The Gassol local government area has a total population of about 244,749 and is 5,548km2. The Taraba River runs through the area and feeds into the Benue River, which runs along the area’s northern border. Gassol is blessed with fertile agricultural land for the cultivation of rice, maize, Guinea corn, millet, yams, okra (okro) and several important local food crops

The Dominion Farms project site is located in the community of Gassol, within the Gassol local government area. The lands that the company has acquired are community lands that were ceded to the Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority (UBRBDA), an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, in 1978.

The 38,000 ha managed by the UBRBDA, stretching along and adjacent to the bank of the Taraba River, are farmed by about 10,000 local farmers every year. Information gathered from the Taraba State Bureau for Land and Survey indicates that up to 45,000 people benefit from the utilisation of these lands. Moreover, there are at least 3,000 holders of land titles within the UBRBDA area.

UBRBDA has constructed important facilities and irrigation works to facilitate the use of the lands, including a housing facility for the UBRBDA staff, a water treatment plant, access roads, an 8km protection bank for flood control, a warehouse and store facility, and a guest house.

Farmers forced off their lands

The MoU between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Taraba State Government and Dominion Farms Ltd was signed without proper consultations with the affected communities. Those consultations that did take place involved mainly government officials. The information that local people received about the project was insufficient and was presented in a partial manner in favour of the project. Local farmers were never asked if they agreed to the project or under what terms they would accept the project, and were thus kept out of a decision that has major impacts on their lives.

The agreement was also signed without a social and environmental impact assessment. The agreement did not include a resettlement plan for the affected farmers.

Pledges that were made during the process of allocating lands to Dominion Farms to improve the livelihood of the local farmers of Gassol have so far not transpired. No roads have been constructed, no hospitals, training centres or schools have been built, and locals have not been hired by the company.

Families who have been farming and living for generations on the lands acquired by Dominion Farms are upset and disillusioned. They say the project will breach their right to adequate food and livelihoods, and their right to access the lands. They consider it a forced eviction without proper consultation and compensation.

Several farmers said that Dominion Farms is putting undue pressure on them to leave the plots of land that they have been farming. Although Dominion Farms has not commenced significant production on the lands it was allotted, the company has filled in ponds and water canals that local people depend on for fishing and has stationed security agents in the area to prevent farmers from accessing their lands. People have also been forced to stop grazing their goats and cows on the lands occupied by Dominion Farms. This is having a major impact on peoples’ livelihoods.

The local population is also concerned that Dominion Farms is not providing the service and technical support to farmers that was formerly provided by UBRBDA and they worry that the facilities will erode if they are not properly maintained. They have complained to the authorities, but, as of yet, no action has been taken by either local, state or federal authorities.

Perspectives of the policy makers

On June 9, 2014, researchers from ERA and CEED met with Mr. Abdulahi, the Area Manager of the Upper Benue River Basin branch Office in Jalingo. He confirmed that the UBRBDA is aware of the project with Dominion Rice Integrated Farm Ltd. He provided a historical background of the UBRBDA in Gassol and gave an overview of the technical support and capacity building that the Authority provides farmers. He said that the UBRBDA has yet to see any tangible benefits to farmers from the Dominion Farms project.

Mr. Abdulahi explained that in his view the MOU with Dominion Farms was flawed because the Ministry of Water Resources, which oversees the UBRBDA, was not involved. He said that the land in question is part of the 38,000ha of land ceded to UBRBDA in 1978 and it has spent huge government resources to develop the lands and support the local farmers through such things as technical assistance and the construction of roads, a field office, a water treatment plant, a workshop, a warehouse, and an electricity generating plant.

ERA and CEED also visited the State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. As the Honourable Commissioner and the Permanent Secretary were not available during two attempted visits to the Ministry, ERA and CEED met instead with the Technical Officer in-charge of the Dominion Farms project, Alhaji Musa Umar, who is also a Senior Director in the Ministry.

Mr. Umar explained that the Ministry mandate is to create an atmosphere for agricultural investment in Taraba State so as to contribute to food production and to minimise the high rate of food importation. He said, “The Dominion Farms project is what the state has been yearning for years.”

Mr. Umar maintained that the project will help Taraba State reduce rice importation and enable it to export to neighbouring countries. He cited the case of Dominion Farms’ activities in Kenya, where Dominion Farms was able to produce rice for export using only 7,000ha.

Mr. Umar stated clearly that Dominion Farms has received a Certificate of Occupancy and has started operations in Gassol community. He said that the State has the potential to give out two million hectares but it only gave 30,000ha.

Mr. Umar also noted that all necessary arrangements have been made by the state to pay the host communities compensation. He says the State Bureau for Land and Survey has done the necessary evaluation and has come out with a survey plan and submitted a report to the state government for consideration. He said that the amount contained in the evaluation report is huge and the state has thus resolved to pay the compensation to the communities in instalments.

Mr. Umar also said that the state is making arrangements to construct major roads in Gassol as provided for in the MOU. Arrangements have been made for farmers to work with Dominion Farms so that they will be able to gather enough seeds to feed their families.

He said that his Ministry’s main concern was that Dominion Farms would be able to carry out its work so as to boost rice and fish production to make Taraba a rice exporting state. He maintains that the local farmers will be part of the farming process as the Dominion Farms project proceeds.

Perspectives of local farmers and communities

On June 10-11, 2014, ERA and CEED held two major meetings at Gassol community with local farmers and farmer association leaders. The Gassol community people were very happy with the visit and wanted to share information about their current predicament and the pains which they said they are facing as a result of the entrance of Dominion Farms into their community.

Below are some quotes from local farmers speaking during the meetings.

“We were happy when we heard of the coming of the Dominion Farms not knowing it was for the selfish interest of some few members of the State, Federal Government and the foreigner in charge of the Dominion Farms. Our land is very rich and good. We produce a lot of different crops here like rice, beans, Guinea corn, cassava, soya beans, millet, yam as well as fish farming and the rearing of animals like goats, sheep and cattle. But since Dominion Farms people arrived with their machine and some of their working equipment we were asked to stop our farm work and even leave our lands as the land is completely given to the Dominion Farms project. Some of the farmers owned private tractors which they used for their farm work, apart from the Upper River Basic assets, that are still in place”.

– Mallam Danladi K Jallo

“Last two years the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Taraba State Government and Dominion Farms started the whole process. Now the land has been surveyed and the whole arrangement has been certified by the Taraba State Government. The government has given Dominion Farms a Certificate of Occupancy which has automatically given the mandate of controlling the land to Dominion Farms and we have been stopped from our various farming activities on the land.”

– Alhaji Muhammed Bulama

“We are speaking in one voice against Dominion Farms because we are opposing their activities. We have fish ponds that we inherited from our forefathers on that land, but Dominion Farm has said that they will sand fill all of them to give them more space to plant their crops. When they commenced work on the land they came with security personnel whom Dominion Farms mandated to evict all farmers who were working on their lands.”

– Alhaji Mairiga Musa

“We had all the intention of writing to the state government. We were ready for peaceful demonstrations, dialogue and even to cry out to the whole world just to hear our voices, the voices of poor innocent farmers. But if none of the above mentioned strategies did not work out then we can mobilise against Dominion Farms for our land, the land of our forefathers, with our families and remain there until they answer us. We are agitating for taking legal action against Dominion Farms and the government.”

– Mallam Ismaila Gebi

“We do not subscribe to a foreign agricultural and farming system that we do not have knowledge. They came here to farm. The only story we hear is that our land is taken away and will be given out. We were not involved at any level. For the sake of the future and our children, we are requesting governmental authorities to ask Dominion Farms to stay away from our land”

– Rebecca Sule (Mama Tina)

Conclusions

The Dominion Farms project in Taraba is a clear example of how land grabbing robs people of their access to land and water and undermines their livelihoods and food security.

The farmers of the Gassol community have been placed in a very difficult position. They are being forced off their lands and cut off from the water that they depend upon for their livelihoods and to feed their families. Despite the pressure from the various levels of government and the company, the farmers ERA and CEED spoke with say they will not give up their lands to Dominion Farms. They say they will resort to legal actions and peaceful protests and demonstrations to try and stop the project from going ahead.

The needs of the community must be prioritised over the profits of Dominion Farms. The lands must remain in the hands of the local farmers who have worked the lands to supply the people of Taraba State with food for generations.

Notes

1 Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/FoEN has been working for more than twenty years against forced evictions of rural communities from their agricultural lands, pastures, forests and fishing grounds. In these two decades, ERA/FOEN and partners such as CEED have witnessed an increasing marginalisation of peasant farming and pastoralism due to international and national policies. These communities are now faced with losses of lands to an extent reminiscent of colonial times.

In an attempt to try and justify the case for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), supporters of GM technology often churn out the baseless claim that there is a consensus within the ‘scientific community’ over the human, animal and environmental safety aspects of GMOs. A statement signed by over 300 scientists and legal experts to the effect that there is “No consensus” on the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops and foods has now been published in a peer-reviewed open access journal, Environmental Sciences Europe (see here). It now belongs to the body of open peer-reviewed scientific literature and stands as a citable publication. See here for the list of signatories as of 20th January 2015.

Dr Angelika Hilbeck, one of the authors of the published statement and chair of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), says:

“As well as receiving the endorsement of the peer reviewers at the journal, the statement has also been peer-reviewed and transparently endorsed by more than 300 scientists and experts from relevant fields of inquiry, including molecular biologists and biotechnologists.” 

The statement was first published in late 2013 in response to claims from the GM industry and some scientists and commentators that there is a “scientific consensus” that GM foods and crops are safe for human and animal health and the environment. The statement calls these claims “misleading”, adding, “The claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist.”

Nicolas Defarge, also a co-author of the statement and a member of the ENSSER board, says:

“Progress in science occurs through controversial debate involving scientific arguments. Our statement, peer-reviewed and published in the open access literature, is now one of them. The debate about the health effects of the long-term consumption of GMOs and of the residues of pesticides they contain is ongoing. It can only be solved by further studies using accurate protocols enabling the investigation of long-term effects. These must be published in open access journals with the raw data being made available and not kept secret. We should bear in mind that the studies performed by industry to support the release of GMOs on the market are usually not peer-reviewed at the time the GMO is commercialized.”

A signatory of the statement, Dr Belinda Martineau, former member of the Michelmore Lab at the UC Davis Genome Center, University of California, who helped commercialize the world’s first GM whole food, the Flavr Savr tomato, states:

“I wholeheartedly support this thorough, thoughtful, and professional statement describing the lack of scientific consensus on the safety of genetically engineered crops and organisms. Society’s debate over how best to utilize the powerful technology of genetic engineering is clearly not over. For its supporters to assume it is, is little more than wishful thinking.”

Another co-author to the statement, Jack Heinemann, Professor of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, argues that: 

“Public confidence in GMOs will not increase as long as some scientists try to keep the public and other scientists from asking legitimate questions about their safety, efficacy and value. Even if all questions about existing GM plants were answered tomorrow, that would not mean that future products should be exempt from questioning and thorough testing. Instead of shouting, ‘Don’t look here, we have a consensus already’, we should address the cause of public mistrust. This is best done by embracing open discussions of GMOs informed from a variety of points of view, acknowledging and including the true diversity of scientific opinions.”

Co-author to the statement, E. Ann Clark, retired associate professor at the University of Guelph, Canada, says:

“The reality is that there is no consensus on GMO safety. Strident and incessant claims of such a consensus must not override the urgent necessity for well-reasoned and conducted research into the safety of GM crops.”

Another signatory to the statement, Elena Alvarez-Buylla, Professor of Molecular Genetics at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), states: 

“The fully referenced statement demonstrates that scientific evidence is substantiating the environmental and health risks related to the release and consumption of GM crops, rather than indicating that there is a scientific consensus on GMO safety. Some of the risks imply worrying consequences involving irreversible dynamics. For example, the spread of GMOs could cancel options for an agroecological, healthy and sustainable food production system and jeopardise centres of crop origin and diversification, thus putting at risk food security. Corporate agribusiness, with its reliance on GM crops and agrotoxic substances such as glyphosate, threaten food sovereignty and public health. There is an urgent need for a precautionary stance. We should avoid further releases of GM crops and their associated pesticides into the environment and food supply.”

The industry’s claim that there is a ‘scientific consensus’ on the safety of GMOs is about as bogus as its claim that this technology is required to ‘feed the world’. That too is a deception (see here).

A Major Turning Point in Greece for Better or Worse

January 30th, 2015 by Takis Fotopoulos

Abstract: The aim of this article is to examine the real significance of Syriza’s victory in Greece, particularly in view of allegations that it represents a historic victory for the Left, as well as the prospects for the future of Greece in terms of this major, but also ambivalent, turning point in its history.

There is no doubt that the Greek people’s vote last Sunday was a big slap in the face of the Transnational Elite (TE ― the elites based in the G7 countries), which was represented in Greece through all these years of the economic and social catastrophe imposed on the vast majority of the population by the infamous Troika (EU, IMF, ECB), as well as by its clients in the local elite. Yet, it was the same TE and its European component (the EU elite), which has destroyed the lives of the vast majority of the population in their effort to ‘save’ Greece from bankruptcy. However, the debt trap to which Greece entered since the 1980s, as I showed elsewhere,[1] was directly related to the very integration of Greece into the EU and the Eurozone. It was through this integration process that Greece lost a significant degree of self-reliance that had achieved in the post-war period, and a parasitic economic structure developed in which, apart from tourism and shipping, there were no other main sources of income to buy the growing imports that the open and liberalized markets of the EU Treaties imposed.

The inevitable outcome was the huge BP deficits which were financed by foreign lending, as well as the parallel budget deficits to finance a growing welfare state, as the local elites were not prepared to share the tax burden for its financing ― a practice which inevitably spread to society at large soon. When the elites decided to integrate Greece into the Eurozone, the country not only formally lost its economic sovereignty but also borrowing (backed now by a strong currency) continued and expanded until the entire bubble burst when foreign lending became more difficult due to the financial crisis of 2008-9. This is, in a nutshell, how Greece became a protectorate of the TE.[2]

The inevitable conclusion of such an analysis is that austerity is a symptom of the crisis, not its cause that refers to the distortion, if not dismantlement, of the production and consumption structures that the NWO of neoliberal globalization imposes as part of the process of integrating countries into it, for the benefit of the Transnational Corporations which control the entire process. So, although the result of the Greek elections, directly, was a slap against the austerity policies imposed by the TE though the Troika, indirectly, it was a slap against the TE and the EU themselves. Indirectly, because of the huge attempt to disorient the people by Syriza, which won the elections on the basis of a political platform according to which the causes of the crisis were just some bad policies imposed by bad politicians and economists, so that all that was needed was to elect some good politicians and economists to force the baddies to change policies. Yet, given that the parties which supported the continuation of the same policies (i.e. the ‘pure’ pro EU parties ― New Democracy/Pasok, the governing coalition, and Potami, a new systemic party created by the elites a year ago to promote the same line) gained about 40 percent of the votes, in an election in which the formal abstention rate was 40percent ― but the effective rate could be 25-30 percent ― this means that, at most, a third of the population is determined to stay in the EU whatever the cost. Another third of the population would be prepared to stay in the EU but not unconditionally, in case the national interest is at risk (as the present governing coalition suggests (Syriza/Independent Greeks) and the last third does not believe that any real solution is possible within the EU. Roughly, this division coincides with a corresponding social division of the population between one third who are the beneficiaries of globalization, one third that just manages to cover its basic needs and the last third, which has been completely impoverished.

Therefore, Syriza simply attempted to attract this middle third of the population ― the middle class that is being gradually being eliminated and the petty bourgeoisie in the private and public sectors. Most of the working class, the unemployed and the poor either abstained or, as statistics of how the vote was spread geographically show, voted mainly for the Communist Party (KKE) and the Golden Dawn Party (GD), which has clear sympathies towards the collaborators of the Nazis during the German Occupation and then to the Right in the ensuing Civil War and the military junta in the 1960s. Not accidentally, as Joaquin Flores, aptly points out,

“The GD, interestingly, calls both for nationalization of the gold industry, as well as other major industries, and the central bank. Those are among the real economic changes that would liberate Greece, and yet on the left, only the Communist Party (KKE) of Greece holds a similar position. That only the most radical parties have the most sensible and honest solutions to Greece’s present problem, presents a special problem for Greece. In Toynbee’s Study of History he develops the concept of civilizations going through stages of growth and later disintegration, as well as abortive and failed civilizations. It would seem that a hallmark of a disintegrating, abortive, or failed civilization is when the most sensible solutions are entirely marginalized and only held by those on the radical fringes.”[3]

In fact, the Communist party has long ago been marginalized, since it was banned for over a quarter of a century after its defeat in the Civil War and then was legalized following the fall of the military junta in 1974, on the condition that it will abandon any revolutionary tactics, while Golden Dawn is effectively banned, with most of its leadership in jail without trial and no access to the mass media ― although formally it is still legal!

Under these circumstances, Syriza’s gamble clearly succeeded, although its program did not even question Greece’s membership of the EU and the Eurozone but also did not include any radical measures to nationalize banks (including the Bank of Greece) and any key industries, as well as any real controls on the markets for commodities, capital and labor. However, the lack of such controls (not permissible under the EU Treaties) makes impossible any radical program to re-create a productive base, with the aim of self-reliance.

Yet, in one sense, even this first inadequate step that the Greek people took in ostracizing the political parties of the elites, was a victory. Not “a historic victory of the Left” in Greece (or for some more enthusiastic commentators and analysts “of the liberal Left in Europe and beyond”), but in the sense that it marked a turning point in the usual submission of the people to the dictates of the elites. A turning point which potentially, but only potentially, could lead to radical developments in the future, as long as the self-contradictory theories and policies suggested by the liberal Left are overcome. This, because the people sooner or later will realize why the policies suggested by the supposedly ‘clever’ politicians and the strange mix of neo-Keynesian/Marxist economists in fact aim to square the circle and will dismally fail in bringing about any real solutions to the critical situation created by Greece’s integration into the NWO. Clearly, the fact that all those economists and politicians have not yet realized (or at least pretend so) that Keynesianism has been dead and buried since the rise of globalization, as it was based on sovereign nation-states that today are being phased out as economic sovereignty (and therefore national sovereignty) are things of the past. So, at most, what parties like Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain can achieve, as I showed in another article,[4] is to stick some plasters on the deadly wounds created by the crisis in the form of a few billion Euros to re-appoint some of those sacked in the public sector and to cover the essential needs for food, health, energy etc. of the very poor. But, all ‘reforms’ introduced by the Troika aiming to make labor more ‘flexible,’ capital to move without any constraint and cheap commodities from abroad to crowd out domestic products, will of course remain intact.

The main developments that followed the election of Syriza are compatible with the above analysis, particularly as regards to the composition of the new government that is full of the kind of politicians and economists I just described. Yet there are also two developments which could have a double meaning, one compatible with the above analysis and another one that may imply at least the possibility of a radical change in the future.

The first is the governing coalition itself. Syriza had a choice, either to have a coalition with the party created by the elites (Potami) whose main condition was that the country’s orientation with the EU and the Eurozone will never be challenged, or with the nationalist party of independent Greeks which is fiercely anti-austerity and does not have any qualms about setting conditions to the Troika that might lead to a break. Syriza has chosen the latter and unsurprisingly has been condemned for its choice by the Transnational Elite and the Zionists (see e.g. Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s vicious attack in the Euro parliament; this is the ‘red Danny’ who is one of the main organs of the TE that supported enthusiastically all its criminal wars), as well as all the transnational mass media. Syriza’s choice could simply mean that it did not want to lose all credibility by supporting a fully systemic party but it could also mean that some forces at least within it are prepared even to clash with the EU.

The second is the public displays of disagreement within the governing coalition against the EU elites’ decision to ignore Syriza in their decision to blame the pro-Russia rebels (and indirectly Russia itself) for the attack on Mariupol and demand new stricter sanctions against Russia. In the event, Syriza keeps the same stand in the forthcoming EU meeting and rejects any new sanctions against Russia, effectively vetoing any proposal to this effect, this will be a very serious blow to the TE at a moment when its attack against Russia has sharply intensified, with the puppet regime’s parliament in Kiev demanding from the UN, NATO etc. to declare Russia an ‘aggressor state’[5] and the British establishment paper The Times promoting the view in a first page report  that Putin is “nothing more than a common criminal dressed up as a head of state”![6] Clearly such an attack, accompanied by the classifying of RT in the same league as ISIS,[7] shows an obvious TE intention to demonize Russia and its leadership, in exactly the same way as it did with Iraq and Saddam or Libya and Gadhafi, just before the launching of the brutal attacks against them. Again, this may be just a tactical move by Syriza  so that “they can leverage the threat of going along with the Russia-Turkish gas line (South stream 2.0/Nabucco Revisited) in order to get permission from the Troika (European Commission, International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank) to use more debt in order to mitigate austerity.”[8]  However, it may also indicate that some forces within Syriza are seriously pondering on the crucial issue of the new geopolitical relations needed for a break with the EU to be effective

In conclusion, there are two main options available to the new Greek Government:

a) either the road to submission to the demands of the TE and the EU, with some concessions granted by the elites in exchange, as regards the conditions of repayment of the debt (and perhaps even the haircut of part of it) that will not however affect the main structural reforms already imposed. Namely, the opening and liberalization of markets and the consequent completion of the process of depriving Greece of the capability to regain any economic sovereignty in the future: ― from controlling its own currency up to controlling its fiscal policy ― and consequently its national sovereignty. The inevitable outcome of this effective about turn by Syriza will be to simply perpetuate the present economic and social catastrophe and lead to the death of the Left in Mediterranean Europe, following the death of it in the rest of Europe. Inevitably, in this case, the gap will be filled either by the nationalist anti-EU parties or by Popular Front governments, as I showed elsewhere.[9]

b) or the road to resistance which involves the immediate unilateral exit from both the EU and the Eurozone, which will allow the introduction of strict capital controls and the re-introduction of the national currency, the nationalization of all banks including the Bank of Greece, the socialization of all key industries covering basic needs, as well as those involving the social wealth (oil, lignite, gold etc.). Needless to add that the geopolitical orientations of Greece should also change drastically, so that it will not be the subject of a new ‘coup from below,’ like the one the TE successfully instigated in Ukraine. For this purpose, the exit from the EU should be accompanied by a parallel application to join the Eurasian Union, so that in case Cyprus and Turkey also join it (as it is highly likely), all of them, as equal  sovereign states, will be able to take part in negotiations to sort out rationally and in the spirit of solidarity all geopolitical and economic problems between them, which, up to now, have been used by the West and later the TE in order to divide the peoples in this part of the Mediterranean. In this way, the foundations for a new truly democratic community of sovereign nations will be created, in place of the present criminal New World Order.

This article is being published simultaneously by Pravda.ru. It has been edited by Jonathan Rutherford.

Notes 

[1] See “The real causes of the catastrophic crisis in Greece and the ‘Left’,” Global Research (16/01/2014).

[2] See Takis Fotopoulos, Greece as a Protectorate of the Transnational Elite (Athens: Gordios, 2010)-in Greek

[3] Joaquin Flores, Meaningful Economic Reforms Could Come Through BRICS and Russia?”, Global Research (27/01/2015). 

[4] see “Left mythology and neoliberal globalization: Syriza and Podemos”, The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol. 11, Nos. 1/2 (Winter-Summer 2015). 

[5] “Ukrainian MPs call on UN, NATO & PACE to recognize Russia as ‘aggressor state’,” RT (27/01/2015).

[6] Deborah Haynes, ‘Litvinenko was to expose ‘criminal’ Putin, The Times (28/01/2015).

[7] “Head of US state media put RT on same challenge list as ISIS, Boko Haram,” RT (23/01/2015).

[8] Joaquin Flores, “Meaningful Economic Reforms Could Come Through BRICS and Russia?”

[9] “The imperative need for popular fronts of national and social liberation in the globalization era,” The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol. 10, Nos. 1/2 (Winter-Summer 2014) 

This article is a follow-up of Professor Vladimir Kozin’s comments on NATO’s Fact Sheet about relations with Russia published in December 2014. The topics to be covered in this article:

  • NATO is a threat to Russia;
  • NATO missile defence is targeted at Russia;
  • The accession of new Allies to NATO threatens Russia.

See Part IPart II

NATO is a threat to Russia

NATO’s official opinion:NATO has reached out to Russia consistently, transparently and publicly over the past 25 years.”

The Alliance has created unique cooperation bodies – the Permanent Joint Council and the NATO-Russia Council – to embody its relationship with Russia. It has invited Russia to cooperate on missile defence, an invitation extended to no other partner.

In the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, agreed with Russia in 1997 and reaffirmed at NATO-Russia summits in Rome in 2002 and in Lisbon in 2010, NATO stated that “in the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces“. The Alliance has fulfilled all such commitments.

NATO’s official policy towards Russia was most recently articulated by the heads of state and government of the Alliance at the Wales Summit in September 2014 .

They stated that “the Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia. But we cannot and will not compromise on the principles on which our Alliance and security in Europe and North America rest.” (The Wales Summit Declaration can be read here).

Thus, neither the Alliance’s policies nor its actions are a threat to Russia. 

kozinProf. Vladimir Kozin:

NATO does indeed present “a threat to Russia.”

In fact, a very serious and widespread military threat, which will continue for many years to come.

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the alliance’s attempts to establish a political relationship with Moscow have been made on only a very selective basis and to a very limited extent. Militarily, this has for the most part included arranging an exchange of military delegations and conducting small exercises in search-and-rescue operations at sea, counter-terrorism and piracy, and exchanging signals between ships, as well as narrowly defined conventional military war games.

“In recent months, the number of NATO jets in the skies over our Eastern Allies has increased five times.We have deployed more ships in the Baltic and the Black Sea.  And this year, we are conducting over 200 NATO and national exercises in Europe. A new exercise kicks off every two days. These assurance measures are just the start.   We are also setting up a rapid reaction “Spearhead Force”, admitted Jens Stoltenberg.

Yes, Washington has invited Moscow for consultations on missile defense. But only for consultations, not negotiations (international treaties are not produced during consultations).

But there were two reasons for that invitation: to provide a political cover or shield for its programs to deploy its global anti-ballistic infrastructure against Russia, and also to create a plausible rebuttal to any harsh criticism of this American program.

But after 12 years of consultations, the parties have still failed to reach any agreement on substantive issues.

An analysis of the US position outlined in these meetings, as well as American statements on missile defense and practical actions to be taken in this realm, have demonstrated that the US was never particularly motivated to actually reach mutually acceptable and practical agreements, or even generalized agreements that could be discussed during the appropriate negotiations at a later date.

The American missile-defense system deployed in Romania and Poland, as well as in the seas and oceans that border Russia, is directed against Russia and her strategic and tactical nuclear forces. America’s military and political leaders have always believed that the Pentagon’s attack weapons must intercept Russian nuclear missiles at the Russian border, not waiting until they arrive in the continental US. It is enough to read what the directors of the US Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency have reported to Congress.

Missile defense: Further NATO capabilities, due by 2018

Missile defense: Further NATO capabilities, due by 2018

The danger of deploying such weapons on the Russian perimeter, in addition to the considerations mentioned above, is that ever since the NATO summit in Chicago (May 2012), American and NATO anti-ballistic weapons can be rapidly attached to their nuclear and conventional weapons.

In addition, it will be possible to load offensive weapons into the shafts of the missile interceptors that will be stationed in Romania and Poland, as envisioned in the Prompt Global Strike program, as well as land-based cruise missiles. These last two categories of weapons are in no way defensive systems. The combination of these three types of weapons for operational purposes, classified as the “Chicago triad,” was approved once again at the NATO summit in Wales.

NATO missile defence is targeted at Russia

NATO opinion: NATO’s official policy on missile defence was set out by heads of state and government at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, where they “decided to develop a missile defence capability to protect all NATO European populations, territory and forces, and invited Russia to cooperate with us” (declaration here).

This was reiterated at the Chicago Summit in May 2012 (here) and the Wales Summit in September 2014, where leaders underlined that “NATO missile defence is not directed against Russia and will not undermine Russia’s strategic deterrence capabilities. NATO missile defence is intended to defend against potential threats emanating from outside the Euro-Atlantic area“.

NATO also proposed a transparency regime including the creation of two NATO-Russia joint missile-defence centres. Russia has declined these offers.

These Summit declarations are more than political promises: they define NATO’s policies. Rather than taking NATO up on cooperation, Russia has advanced arguments that ignore laws of physics as well as NATO’s expressed policies.

The NATO system is designed to be large enough to defend against limited attacks by states and non-state actors potentially threatening the Alliance. However, it still remains small enough not to fuel regional arms races. In terms of the types of interceptors, their numbers and locations, it is configured to defend against the principal threats to NATO’s European territory, and is not directed against Russia’s much larger and more sophisticated strategic deterrent forces.  The interceptors to be deployed in Europe, including at the planned sites in Romania and Poland, are not designed to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles.  Their capabilities are too limited and their planned numbers too few.

Independent Russian experts have publicly agreed that the US European Phased Adaptive Approach and NATO’s missile defence system, even when fully developed, will have no appreciable impact on Russia’s numerous and highly sophisticated strategic nuclear forces.  This has been documented in numerous scholarly articles by Russian generals and rocket scientists in Russian journals.

The Russian government has used missile defence as an excuse for accusations rather than an opportunity for partnership. 

Prof. Vladimir Kozin:

A ground-based missile interceptor is lowered into its missile silo at the Missile Defense Complex at Fort Greely, Alaska.

A ground-based missile interceptor is lowered into its missile silo at the Missile Defense Complex at Fort Greely, Alaska.

US and NATO missile defense (although it is not found in all NATO states) is indeed aimed at Russia and its nuclear capacity.

This is evident from the current and future regions where elements of American missile defense are stationed, their quantity, the high speed of the interceptors, the precision of their targeting, the way their system is organically linked to nuclear and conventional weapons, and also the US doctrine of “offensive nuclear deterrence” and the invitations extended to new NATO members to participate in this very inflammatory project after the US created nuclear weapons.

Washington still has not given and will not give (at least not under the current US administration) any clear, unambiguous, and legally binding promises to refrain from using American or NATO anti-ballistic missiles against Russia, even though Moscow is prepared to make those same pledges to the Americans.

The answer to the question of why Washington has put forward some ideas regarding the establishment of a “joint” missile-defense system with Russia has been given in the commentary above.

Additionally, it should be noted that the fact that the so-called Iranian missile threat is already safely neutralized by the anti-ballistic weapons currently deployed by the US and its closest allies in the Persian Gulf is evidence that the American missile-defense system is indeed directed toward Russia.

Occassionally we read publications made at the expense of various US and NATO “think tanks” about “sluggish” American missile interceptors, which supposedly are “not able to overtake Russian missiles.” Authors of these papers,  drafted in Western capitals, most likely have never read or perhaps not been able to understand them. Neatly packaged disinformation about the “weak” tactical and technical specs of the offensive weapons in the US “missile shield” has been “leaked” even by some Russian “experts”. It’s too bad that a few former high-ranking Russian military officers are among these “experts,” but the good news is that none of them will ever again have any role in making important military or political decisions in Russia.

The accession of new Allies to NATO threatens Russia

NATO opinion: Every country which joins NATO undertakes to uphold the principles and policies of the Alliance, and the commitments which NATO has already made.

This includes the commitment that NATO poses no threat to Russia, as most recently stated at the Wales Summit.

Therefore, as the number of countries which join NATO grows, so does the number of countries which agree that “the Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia.”

Prof. Vladimir Kozin:

NatoExpansionThe entry of new members into NATO, especially when this involves near neighbors, does indeed threaten Russia.

First of all, the alliance’s military machine may not be simply extended “to the edge of the front line.”

Second, take a look at the behavior of the Baltic countries before and after joining the alliance. Compare Ukraine’s behavior after she declared her willingness to renounce her non-aligned status with her conduct after she announced her intention to join NATO.

Russia is not only worried about their military ambitions and, once those countries become NATO members, the springboard they provide for a possible attack on Russia and her allies and friends.

Russia is also naturally worried about the sharp rise in anti-Russian sentiment, which the leaders of these states are deliberately cultivating. In fact, by accepting such states into its ranks, the North Atlantic union is laying a perpetual land mine under the relations between these states and Russia and creating a permanent irritant in our relationship. Many politicians in the West have already realized this could have disastrous consequences.

None of this will ever lead to the strengthening of stability and security in Europe. On the contrary, all the good that has accumulated in the postwar years after the end of “Cold War 1.0” will be destroyed. To be specific, in terms of arms control, during those years seven treaties were signed that limited and reduced stockpiles of offensive strategic weapons, as well as three treaties on trust-building, and a number of agreements on nonproliferation and the non-militarization of space.

To be continued…

NATO leaders promised at the time of German reunification that the Alliance would not expand to the East

Professor Vladimir Kozin was directly engaged in NATO-related issues during his 40-years-long professional career in the Russian Foreign Ministry. He was one of the leading negotiators from the Russian side at the most of the Russia-US diplomatic and military talks on disarmament, strategic deterrence and other issues in 1990s.

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Federation Council SpeakerValentina Matviyenko, State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov, Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov, Deputy Secretary of the Security Council Rashid Nurgaliyev and permanent member of the Security Council Boris Gryzlov.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues.

We are witnessing a dramatic deterioration of the situation in southeastern Ukraine, in Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic. In this connection I would like to inform you again that a week ago, on Thursday, I sent a letter to the President of Ukraine, a written proposal to withdraw heavy weapons – artillery and multiple rocket launchers – to such a distance from which it would be impossible to fire at populated areas.

I would like to inform you further that this proposal almost completely coincided with the requirements of the official Kiev. You know that there may be one disputed area along the line of separation between the parties to the conflict. So we suggested that weapons and heavy equipment should be withdrawn to the line that Kiev authorities themselves consider fair and corresponding to the agreements reached in Minsk on September 19, 2014.

Unfortunately, we received no clear answer to our proposal; in fact, we also saw the reverse action, namely the Kiev government has given an official order to launch large-scale combat operations along almost the entire perimeter of contact between the opposing sides.

The result: dozens of dead and wounded, and not only among servicemen on both sides, but, even more tragically, there has been loss of life among the civilian population, including children, the elderly and women. The artillery, multiple rocket launchers and aircraft are firing indiscriminately, directly at densely populated areas.

All of this is happening to the accompaniment of propaganda slogans about the quest for peace and the search for those responsible. The responsibility is borne by those who issue such criminal orders. The people who do this should know that there is no other way to solve such conflicts but through peace negotiations and political means. We often hear, including from today’s official Kiev, that this is their preferred method of addressing issues, but the reality is quite different. I hope that common sense will eventually triumph.

I would like to call for a moment of silence to honour the victims, including those who died at a bus stop in Donetsk.

(Moment of silence.)

Thank you.

Ukraine’s Government Is Losing Its War. Here Is Why!

January 30th, 2015 by Eric Zuesse

On January 27th, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense headlined “Militants Continue to Suffer Losses,” and reported that four helicopters, and other weapons of the “militants,” were destroyed in battle, but no evidence was given to support the assertion.

Just two days prior, the (also pro-Government) Kiev Post had, in fact, bannered “Ukraine Hides Devastating Losses as Russia-Backed Fighters Surge Forward,” and reported “Ukraine’s worst-kept secret — that the Ukrainian army is drastically understating its casualties.” After detailing, there, what seems to be outrageous unconcern by the Government, for the welfare of troops it’s sending into battle (even by jamming battlefield-injured soldiers into regular civilian hospitals, which aren’t equipped to handle their injuries), this report ends with a doctor saying, “It’s bad everywhere. Yes, the soldiers are still standing at their positions ready to fight. But we don’t see any help coming for them.”

The Ukrainian news agency RIAN headlined on January 26th,“Mobilization in Dnipropetrovsk Almost Drowned,” and reported, “In Dnipropetrovsk region [which is run by the U.S. White House’s friend, the Ukrainian-Swiss-Israeli billionaire Ihor Kolomoysky, whose longstanding personal mercenary army has, alone, more than 5,000 fighters], thousands of men are hiding from the draft. Enforcement officers recognize that accomplishing their task will be very difficult.” More than 2,000 people there who were drafted “did not show up, they evaporated.”

Consequently, the Government is dragooning-in, or “ambushing” (as the article says), virtually anyone who seeks help from the Government, “mobilizing the unemployed” and other “desperate” people. “Military enlistment offices complain” that some draftees are too sick to be able to fight at all.

bilecki-azov

“The Trojan,” deputy commander of the Ukraine’s ultranationalist Azov Battalion.

Also on January 26th, the Fort Russ blog bannered, “Azov Commander Freaks Out, Calls the War ‘Lost’. Blames Everybody,” and reported that, “Ukrainian politicians and generals ‘already lost the war,’ and ‘the West did not help.’ That’s the core of the statement by Azov punitive [meaning: to ‘punish’ the residents in the anti-Government region, for their not supporting the Government] battalion commander’s, and currently also Rada [Parliament] Deputy’s, Andrey Biletsky, in his ‘Address to the Nation.’” According to Biletsky, after the fictitious “thousands of supposedly killed enemies and burned out tanks, the wake-up can be very painful,” because of disappointment felt from the Government’s lies.

RIAN news headlined on January 27th,“The Situation at the Front and Riots Against the Mobilization,” and Andrew Vajra, of the news-site “Alternative,” quoted Biletsky there, as saying, “We were not prepared for the current confrontation.”

Whereas Ukrainian conscript soldiers are not eager to risk their lives in order to impose the current Ukrainian Government (which had resulted from Obama’s coup in Ukraine in February 2014), upon the residents in Ukraine’s Donbass region, which had voted 90% for the man whom Obama overthrew, the residents who still survive there are very eager not to allow this new regime to kill them; and, so, the motivation on the part of the people whom Obama’s forces are trying to kill, is vastly higher than is the motivation on the part of conscript troops, from the rest of Ukraine, to kill them. The only troops who are that eager to kill them are supporters of Ukraine’s two nazi (or racist-fascist) parties, the “Freedom” (renamed by the CIA from their former “Social Nationalist”) and the Right Sector, Parties. Those parties have always gotten only a small percentage of the popular vote in Ukraine, though Obama’s people have placed them into power. Once in power, they passed laws to lock-in that power.

The Ukrainian Government’s problem is that there just aren’t enough nazis, and there’s also not enough money, to do the amounts of killing that need to be done in order to enable Obama’s Ukrainian regime to retain the land in Donbass while eliminating the people there. The 90% of those people who had voted for the man (Viktor Yanukovych) whom Obama overthrew are far more numerous, and far more motivated, than are the vast majority of Ukraine’s soldiers.

America’s and Ukraine’s oligarchs cannot come up with the money to finish the job, but Obama’s big financial backer George Soros is now globetrotting in order to convince taxpayers throughout the West to provide the money to finish it, and the amount he’s coming up with as being necessary for the job is between twenty and fifty billion dollars. His entreaties appear to be falling upon deaf ears.

And that’s the real reason why Obama’s war in Ukraine is failing: there’s just not enough blood-lust for the task, either in Ukraine, or in “the West.”

There aren’t enough nazis, in either area. Obama had over-reached, when he overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014. Either he’ll have to yield-up the land in Donbass, or else he’ll have to yield-up the anti-Russian Government that he has imposed upon Ukraine. It’s one or the other, and he’ll have to choose which.

Either outcome will be embarrassing for him. But perhaps it won’t be quite as embarrassing for him as was his predecessor’s embarrassment regarding the Iraq War. (Of course, Republicans would be in their glory then, by saying “Obama lost Ukraine,” even though it was actually Obama who had seized Ukraine, to begin with — and Republicans would never criticize a President for doing a thing like that: it’s the sort of thing that Republicans are expected to do.)

On the other hand, it might turn out to be even more embarrassing than that for Obama, if he should happen to decide to go all the way here, and to push on for a nuclear war against Russia.

As regards the Ukrainian Government itself, they were placed into power by Obama’s action of coup, followed by this Ukrainian Government’s actions removing the Donbass residents from their electorate; and, so, the current members of the Rada, and of the Ukrainian Administration, cannot blame Obama; they are instead blaming Vladimir Putin and Russia — the country that Obama (like George Soros and so many other American aristocrats) hates, and that not merely the people whom Obama placed into power in Ukraine hate. Thus, on Wednesday, January 28th, RIAN news headlined, “Full Text of the Appeal for Recognition of Russia as Aggressor,” and they reported:

“The Verkhovna Rada made public the full text of Resolution number 1854 on appeal to the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, GUAM Parliamentary Assembly, and the national parliaments of the countries in the world, to recognize the Russian Federation as the aggressor state.”

20141115_FNC240Furthermore, German Economic News reported that this action by the Rada had been passed by “271 of 289 deputies present,” and that it could “have international legal consequences.” GEN’s report also said that Ukraine’s leaders claim they now “urgently need new loans” from the EU, because, otherwise, Ukraine’s existing loans will go into default. The reader-comments to that news-report at GEN’s website seem to be negative on that request, and to be far more inclined to view Ukraine’s Government as nazi than as Ukraine’s being the victim of Russia or any other country, and least of all as being a victim of the EU’s own taxpayers, who have already given plenty to the Ukrainian Government, and who would become the people bearing the burden of those new ‘loans,’ which would be going to the very back of Ukraine’s long line of creditors, if Ukraine goes bankrupt, as is widely expected soon to happen. In other words: there would seem to be little public support in Germany, for giving Ukraine yet more money. If the EU’s leaders do decide to comply with Ukraine’s urgent request, then the EU will have even less public support in Germany than it currently does. The EU is therefore likely to turn down the request, so as not to place even further into jeopardy the EU’s own continued existence.

And, obviously, unless Ukraine gets the further ‘loans’ to prosecute its war against the residents in Donbass, Ukraine won’t even possibly be able to win this war.

So, that’s the Ukrainian Government’s predicament, regarding this war.

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

Weren’t the valiant, courageous actions of civil rights advocates a triumph for social justice? Did it not lead to further advances in that struggle? And if you are referring to the movie, is it not a triumph as well, getting a film that portrays one of the signal struggles of the Movement during the 60s with such searing honesty, no holds barred in dealing with the “Which side are you on?” question, applied to this event? Well, yes, the Selma March was a triumph for the civil rights movement. It played a very important role in getting Lyndon Johnson to support what became the Voting Rights Act. It did lead to further advances in that struggle. The movie is a triumph as well, a brilliantly staged and acted docudrama which, among other things, uses the real Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, as the setting for the real march that took place across it in 1865.

Ironically enough, the bridge is named for a Confederate Brigadier General, who later, operating out of his law office, became the leader of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan in Selma and went on to become a U.S. Senator from Alabama. This is particularly ironic in the context of the Voting Rights Act and the struggle to enact it. The Ku Klux Klan was founded very shortly after the end of the civil war by an association of ex-Confederate generals, planters, certain Democratic politicians, and other white leadership who wanted to return the civil society in the South as much as possible to what it had been before the Civil War, with the exception of not having the institution of chattel slavery in place.

One of the principal objectives of the Klan, from the earliest days of its founding, was to prevent the newly freed slaves from the exercising the right to vote that had been granted to them by the 14th (1868) and 15th (1870) Amendments to the Constitution. The language of the latter is particularly instructive: “1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” But with the power first of the Klan, with the ever-spreading denial of the vote to African-Americans, and then with the institution over a period of some years of what was called the “Jim Crow” laws by the Democratic Party in the South, African-Americans were indeed systematically denied the right that had being guaranteed to them by the 15th amendment.

The reality that casts a shadow over Selma is that it did not end the struggle for civil and voting rights for people of color in the United States. As I pointed out in recent column, except for the literal abolition of chattel slavery, in terms of its central goals, the South essentially won the Civil War. It is a tragedy that one of the two major U.S. political parties still runs in part on racism, just as the old Southern Democratic Party did. The story of how Nixon took the “Southern Strategy” that had been originally invented, but not in a formal way, by Barry Goldwater, and broadly implemented it for the GOP, and how Ronald Reagan cemented it in place need not be re-told here.

Indeed it is a tragedy that the Voting Rights Act for which so many whites and African-Americans had fought so hard for so many years has been recently been gutted by the Republican Supreme Court. (That is the same Republican Court that may be on its way to gutting the Fair Housing Act as well.) It is a tragedy that indeed Martin Luther King’s words 50 years ago, about segregation and discrimination, about racism, about the lack of economic justice for non-whites (and now, of course, increasingly for many whites as well) still, as the Southern Poverty Law Center points out, cry our for justice to this day. Dr. King’s vision of a civil rights-labor alliance, which has never been achieved, echo down to us today as well.

It is a tragedy that voter suppression, aimed at African-Americans and other population groups who tend to vote for Democrats, has become an official policy of the Republican Party, under the guise of “battling voter fraud” (which happens to be virtually non-existent, and even if it weren’t could easily be dealt with by offering free, easy-to-obtainvoter ID cards). It is a tragedy that lynching, a major tool of black-suppression in the Jim Crow South, which was dying out by the time of “Selma,” has returned to this country in the form of white police officers killing black young men at an astounding rate.

Now let us turn briefly to “Selma,” the movie. First, of course is the fact that when it came to Academy Award nominations (not the awards themselves), while the movie itself did receive one for Best Picture, the Director, Ava DuVernay, and the lead actor, David Oyelowo, who had received awards and nominations elsewhere were complete shut out. That is itself a legacy of racism, given the excellence of the film.

The bottom line, which really has been lost, is that the South did win the Civil War and one of our two major political parties runs on racism (as well as religious authoritarianism and the demonization of various “others”). These are two of the major issues facing this country just as they were back at the time of Selma. That is the bitter historical aftertaste of watching the triumph depicted in the movie.

The reality that casts a shadow over Selma is that it did not end the struggle for civil and voting rights for people of color in the United States.  As I pointed out in recent column, except for the literal abolition of chattel slavery, in terms of its central goals, the South essentially won the Civil War [http://www.greanvillepost.com/2014/12/07/ferguson-worked-as-intended-for-the-maintenance-of-the-doctrine-of-white-supremacy-in-the-us/].  It is a tragedy that one of the two major U.S. political parties still runs in part on racism, just as the old Southern Democratic Party did.  The story of how Nixon took the “Southern Strategy” that had been originally invented, but not in a formal way, by Barry Goldwater, and broadly implemented it for the GOP, and how Ronald Reagan cemented it in place need not be re-told here.

Indeed it is a tragedy that the Voting Rights Act for which so many whites and African-Americans had fought so hard for so many years has been recently been gutted by the Republican Supreme Court.  (That is the same Republican Court that may be on its way to gutting the Fair Housing Act as well.)  It is a tragedy that indeed Martin Luther King’s words 50 years ago, about segregation and discrimination, about racism, about the lack of economic justice for non-whites (and now, of course, increasingly for many whites as well) still, as the Southern Poverty Law Center points out [http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/mlk-s-words-just-as-relevant-today], cry our for justice to this day.  Dr. King’s vision of a civil rights-labor alliance, which has never been achieved, echo down to us today as well [http://theragblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/harry-targ-dr-king-and-civil-rights.html].

It is a tragedy that voter suppression, aimed at African-Americans and other population groups who tend to vote for Democrats, has become an official policy of the Republican Party, under the guise of “battling voter fraud” (which happens to be virtually non-existent, and even if it weren’t could easily be dealt with by offering free, easy-to-obtain voter ID cards) [http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/the-gop-s-grand-plan-centering-on-voter-suppression-and-gerrymandering].   It is a tragedy that lynching, a major tool of black-suppression in the Jim Crow South, which was dying out by the time of “Selma,” has returned to this country in the form of white police officers killing black young men at an astounding rate[http://www.greanvillepost.com/2014/12/07/ferguson-worked-as-intended-for-the-maintenance-of-the-doctrine-of-white-supremacy-in-the-us/].

Now let us turn briefly to “Selma,” the movie.  First, of course is the fact that when it came to Academy Award nominations (not the awards themselves), while the movie itself did receive one for Best Picture, the Director, Ava DuVernay, and the lead actor, David Oyelowo, who had received awards and nominations elsewhere were complete shut out. That is itself a legacy of racism, given the excellence of the film.

The bottom line, which really has been lost, is that the South did win the Civil War and one of our two major political parties runs on racism (as well as religious authoritarianism and the demonization of various “others”).  These are two of the major issues facing this country just as they were back at the time of Selma. That is the bitter historical aftertaste of watching the triumph depicted in the movie.

The ‘Empire of Chaos’ in the House of Saud

January 30th, 2015 by Pepe Escobar

No one in Western corporate media will tell you why US President Barack Obama is hitting Riyadh with a high-powered delegation to “pay his respects” to the new House of Saud potentate, King Salman.

Talk about a who’s who – including CIA head John Brennan; General Lloyd Austin, head of US Centcom; Secretary of State John Kerry; leading House Democrat Nancy Pelosi; and even senile Senator John “Bomb Iran” McCain.

It must have been heart wrenching for most in this crowd to skip a visit to the Taj Mahal in India so they would be part of the last-minute, “unscheduled” stop in Riyadh.

This is how the astonishing mediocrity that doubles as US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, spun it; “Principally, I think this is to mark this transition in leadership and to pay respects to the family and to the people of Saudi Arabia, but I’m sure that while we’re there they’ll touch on some of the leading issues where we cooperate very closely with Saudi Arabia.”

The White House and the Pentagon did not bother to “pay their respects” in person to the people of France after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The House of Saud – “our” top bastards in the Persian Gulf – is of course much more valuable.

And yet, Air Force One, we got a problem. High-level US financial sources assure this correspondent the trip is all about Obama shoring up the new King’s support for their financial/economic war on Russia as the House of Saud is starting to have second thoughts. The Saudi role in this war has been to come up with the oil price shock – which is hurting not only Russia but also Iran and Venezuela, among others. Besides, the US puppet theoretically in charge in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has just visited Saudi Arabia.

Russia is not Iran – with all due respect to Iran. If the House of Saud really believes they are talking to the head of a superpower rather than a ventriloquist’s puppet – which is Obama’s role – they are effectively doomed. Nothing Obama says means a thing. The real ‘Masters of the Universe’ who run the ‘Empire of Chaos’ want the House of Saud to do most of their dirty work against Russia; and in a later stage they will take care of the “towel heads” - as the saying goes in Washington – over their development of nuclear missiles with Pakistan. And especially because the Saudi-launched oil price war is bound to destroy the US oil industry – against US national interests.

The House of Saud has absolutely nothing to gain from this undeclared financial/economic war on Russia. The Saudis have already “lost” Yemen and Iraq. Bahrain is held by mercenary troops containing the alienation of the Shia majority. They are freaking out with the possibility of ultimate “enemy” Iran reaching a nuclear deal with His Master’s Voice. They are desperate that “Assad won’t go”. They want every Muslim Brotherhood in sight – or the vicinity – jailed or beheaded. They fear any Arab Spring-style stirrings as worse than the plague. And then there’s the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh threatening to go all the way to Mecca and Medina. The House of Saud is effectively surrounded.

U.S. President Barack Obama receives members of the Saudi Royal family, government officials and guests as first lady Michelle Obama and Saudi Arabia's King Salman (R) look on at Erga Palace in Riyadh, January 27, 2015 (Reuters / Jim Bourg)U.S. President Barack Obama receives members of the Saudi Royal family, government officials and guests as first lady Michelle Obama and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman (R) look on at Erga Palace in Riyadh, January 27, 2015 (Reuters / Jim Bourg)

The suicide roadmap

Meanwhile, as the tempest approaches, all is smiles – amid a silent family bloodbath. The powerful Sudairi clan has exacted their “revenge” as King Abdullah’s corpse was still warm. King Salman, almost 80, and with Alzheimer’s about to turn him into mush, took no time to appoint his nephew Mohammed bin Naif as deputy crown prince. And just in case nepotism was not evident enough, he also appointed his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman as defense minister. Mohammed bin Naif is a Pentagon/CIA darling; the House of Saud’s head of counterterrorism.

So yes, this is a desert version of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s classic The Leopard; Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga com’è bisogna che tutto cambi (“things must change, in order that they can stay the same”.) But the juicier bit is that this seems to apply much more to the House of Saud nowadays than to the ‘Empire of Chaos’.

Apparently, the game of thrones at “our” bastard’s abode leads to everything staying the same; they remain “our” privileged bastard. The Pentagon even came up with the lovely idea of having the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sponsor an essay competition to honor late King Abdullah.

So shell out your essays lavishing the King for the no holds barred repression of the Shia minority in oil-rich eastern Saudi Arabia. Praise him for the sentencing of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr – a popular Shia cleric and outspoken political dissident; he should be beheaded, Daesh-style, just because he led a non-violent movement committed to promoting Shia rights, women’s rights, and democratic reform in Saudi Arabia (even Human Rights Watch has admitted that Saudi Arabian Shias “face systematic discrimination in religion, education, justice, and employment.”)

Honor the late King for the thousands of political prisoners; “terrorism” charges against women who dare to drive; the 25 percent of the population living under the poverty line; and last but not least, for facilitating the expansion of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who turned into ISIS. The Pentagon will love you for that.

All that desert storm of Saudi cash spent on global Wahhabi proselytizing and indoctrinating – and I’ve seen this from the Maghreb to Java – has been such a powerful legacy; a medieval, toxic “religion”(nothing to do with legitimate Islam) that will keep destroying lives and communities and breeding fanatics till Kingdom Come. Hail the King for that – on behalf of the Pentagon. And forget about reading any of this on Arab corporate media – which is totally controlled by the House of Saud.

The House of Saud “reforming”? Away from that nefarious, barbarian Salafi religious establishment? That’s the joke of the millennium. Everything will stay the same.

But playing the ‘Empire of Chaos’ game – financial/economic war on Russia – is a game-changer, as in playing with fire. US/EU sanctions, attacks on the oil price and the ruble by giant derivative players as agents, are something way above the Saudi pay grade. The House of Saud swore that they didn’t change their production quota during 2014. But there was an excess supply – and it was brought into the market to help cause the oil price crash, alongside the manipulation by derivatives speculators.

Scores of oil analysts still can’t figure out why the House of Saud went after Russia; all reasons are political, not economical (Russian support for Syria and Iran, the Americans agreeing with the strategy, etc.). The fact is Moscow did perceive it as a declaration of economic war by Saudi Arabia. Petroleum Intelligence Weekly, cautiously, has already hinted it may get much worse, as in “potential for disruption in Mideast Gulf monarchies.”

Beware of an Emperor bearing gifts – or mourning a late King. The ‘Empire of Chaos’ is essentially asking the House of Saud to keep going kamikaze all the way against Russia. Sooner or later someone in Riyadh will realize this is the roadmap to House suicide.

Pepe Escobar’s latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook.

He’s a thug, and a crook, and a liar, and a pseudo-intellectual and a murderer. Ok? Those things are factually verifiable. – From the late Christopher Hitchens’ outstanding interview: Christopher Hitchens’ Polemic Against Henry Kissinger

John McCain is at it again. Nothing gets this guy more riled up than American plebs questioning status quo war criminals. I suspect much of this anger is rooted in his own legitimate fear about how history will remember his own legacy of remarkable stupidity.

Truly remarkable to see a Senator become so easily unhinged when protesters show up to condemn Henry Kissinger. See for yourself:

For a related post on Crazy John McCain, see:

Incredible Tweets from John McCain on Libya and Syria from 2009 and 2011

Two months ago, hundreds of thousands of Chileans somberly marked the 40th anniversary of their nation’s September 11th terrorist event. It was on that date in 1973 that the Chilean military, armed with a generous supply of funds and weapons from the United States, and assisted by the CIA and other operatives, overthrew the democratically-elected government of the moderate socialist Salvador Allende. Sixteen years of repression, torture and death followed under the fascist Augusto Pinochet, while the flow of hefty profits to US multinationals – IT&T, Anaconda Copper and the like – resumed. Profits, along with concern that people in other nations might get ideas about independence, were the very reason for the coup and even the partial moves toward nationalization instituted by Allende could not be tolerated by the US business class.

             Henry Kissinger was national security advisor and one of the principle architects – perhaps the principle architect – of the coup in Chile. US-instigated coups were nothing new in 1973, certainly not in Latin America, and Kissinger and his boss Richard Nixon were carrying on a violent tradition that spanned the breadth of the 20th century and continues in the 21st – see, for example, Venezuela in 2002 (failed) and Honduras in 2009 (successful). Where possible, such as in Guatemala in 1954 and Brazil in 1964, coups were the preferred method for dealing with popular insurgencies. In other instances, direct invasion by US forces such as happened on numerous occasions in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and many other places, was the fallback option.   

             The coup in Santiago occurred as US aggression in Indochina was finally winding down after more than a decade. From 1969 through 1973, it was Kissinger again, along with Nixon, who oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. It is impossible to know with precision how many were killed during those four years; all the victims were considered enemies, including the vast majority who were non-combatants, and the US has never been much interested in calculating the deaths of enemies. Estimates of Indochinese killed by the US for the war as a whole start at four million and are likely more, perhaps far more. It can thus be  reasonably extrapolated that probably more than a million, and certainly hundreds of thousands, were killed while Kissinger and Nixon were in power.    

             In addition, countless thousands of Indochinese have died in the years since from the affects of the massive doses of Agent Orange and other Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction unleashed by the US. Many of us here know (or, sadly, knew) soldiers who suffered from exposure to such chemicals; multiply their numbers by 1,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 – again, it’s impossible to know with accuracy – and we can begin to understand the impact on those who live in and on the land that was so thoroughly poisoned as a matter of US policy.       

            Studies by a variety of organizations including the United Nations also indicate that at least 25,000 people have died in Indochina since war’s end from unexploded US bombs that pocket the countryside, with an equivalent number maimed. As with Agent Orange, deaths and ruined lives from such explosions continue to this day. So 40 years on, the war quite literally goes on for the people of Indochina, and it is likely it will go on for decades more.

            Near the end of his time in office, Kissinger and his new boss Gerald Ford pre-approved the Indonesian dictator Suharto’s invasion of East Timor in 1975, an illegal act of aggression again carried out with weapons made in and furnished by the US. Suharto had a long history as a bagman for US business interests; he ascended to power in a 1965 coup, also with decisive support and weapons from Washington, and undertook a year-long reign of terror in which security forces and the army killed more than a million people (Amnesty International, which rarely has much to say about the crimes of US imperialism, put the number at 1.5 million).         

            In addition to providing the essential on-the-ground support, Kissinger and Ford blocked efforts by the global community to stop the bloodshed when the terrible scale of Indonesian violence became known, something UN ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan openly bragged about. Again, the guiding principle of empire, one that Kissinger and his kind accept as naturally as breathing, is that independence cannot be allowed. That’s true even in a country as small as East Timor where investment opportunities are slight, for independence is contagious and can spread to places where far more is at stake, like resource-rich Indonesia. By the time the Indonesian occupation finally ended in 1999, 200,000 Timorese – 30 percent of the population – had been wiped out. Such is Kissinger’s legacy and it is a legacy well understood by residents of the global South no matter the denial, ignorance or obfuscation of the intelligentsia here.             

If the United States is ever to become a democratic society, and if we are ever to enter the international community as a responsible party willing to wage peace instead of war, to foster cooperation and mutual aid rather than domination, we will have to account for the crimes of those who claim to act in our names like Kissinger. Our outrage at the crimes of murderous thugs who are official enemies like Pol Pot is not enough. A cabal of American mis-leaders from Kennedy on caused for far more Indochinese deaths than the Khmer Rouge, after all, and those responsible should be judged and treated accordingly.

             The urgency of the task is underscored as US aggression proliferates at an alarming rate. Millions of people around the world, most notably in an invigorated Latin America, are working to end the “might makes right” ethos the US has lived by since its inception. The 99 percent of us here who have no vested interest in empire would do well to join them. 

             There are recent encouraging signs along those lines, with the successful prevention of a US attack on Syria particularly noteworthy. In addition, individuals from various levels of empire have had their lives disrupted to varying degrees. David Petraeus, for example, has been hounded by demonstrators since being hired by CUNY earlier this year to teach an honors course; in 2010, Dick Cheney had to cancel a planned trip to Canada because the clamor for his arrest had grown quite loud; long after his reign ended, Pinochet was arrested by order of a Spanish magistrate for human right violations and held in England for 18 months before being released because of health problems; and earlier this year, Efrain Rios Montt, one of Washington’s past henchmen in Guatemala, was convicted of genocide, though accomplices of his still in power have since intervened on his behalf to obstruct justice.

More pressure is needed, and allies of the US engaged in war crimes like Paul Kagame should be dealt with as Pinochet was. More important perhaps for those of in the US is that we hound Rumsfeld, both Clintons, Rice, Albright and Powell, to name a few, for their crimes against humanity every time they show themselves in public just as Petraeus has been. That holds especially for our two most recent War-Criminals-in-Chief, Barack Bush and George W. Obama.

Andy Piascik is a long-time activist and award-winning author who writes for Z, Counterpunch  and many other publications and websites. He can be reached at [email protected]

The UN is calling the attack on Mariupol a War Crime. Now that the evidence is pointing to Kiev will the UN show enough conscience to pursue it?

Motive, method, and opportunity are the key facts needed to establish guilt in any criminal trial.

In a shooting murder when you add in ballistics that locates the weapon to the shooter, its called a slam dunk, case closed. When known criminals with heavy weapons are willing to brag publicly on prime-time news that they are about to murder someone, and after the fact go on record about how much joy this event brought them- its time to call SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics group).

The attack in Mariupol came after Ukraine failed twice in one week to get a UN and Western government declaration that DNR(Donetsk People’s Republic) and LNR(Lugansk People’s Republic) are terrorist entities. Is the third time the charm? Ukraine thinks so.

Before delving into the evidence, look at who doesn’t benefit. Benefit is a key factor in determining motive.
The militia near Mariupol is comprised of local city residents. Like soldiers in Donetsk and Lugansk, the city is their home town. Its where there family and friends live. Its where they grew up, went to school, and work. Their own children go to school there. Is there a benefit to firing rockets at your own neighbors and family?

Opportunity

The base problem with using Grad rockets to provoke outrage is that locating the source of the attack isn’t rocket science. Unguided rockets have a straight flight path. The rocket is a contact explosive which means it explodes when it lands. The crater points in the direction of the origin usually with a part of the nose cone left from the rocket itself inside inside the crater.

The OSCE gave their direction of origin north-north-east based on the sampling of rocket impacts they inspected.

Evidence also shows rockets striking from the north-west.

 

Evidence

 

When the direction is ascertained by looking at multiple strike locations and looking at the origin like in this video the flight path takes them over the town of Sartana. Shown in the video also is the strike at 161 Olympic avenue from an almost due north firing point. This also establishes the flight path over Sartana.

Witnesses

Local residents from Mariupol have specifically stated independently from each other from different impact sites that the flight path came from the north toward Sartana and from the west-north-west toward Starri Crim.

Residents are stating that utilities including gas, electric, and water were cut off ½ hour before the attack occurred.

Unguided rockets follow a straight trajectory. By taking two of the northern route impacts and establishing their location and direction on a map trajectory again takes us back toward Sartana.

Even though the video is Russian language it details both location of and direction very well. Put on a map the direction of impact and trajectory show the origin once again is north of Sartana.

Kiev’s New Evidence Debunked
The government in Ukraine announced yesterday that it caught DNR spotters that picked the targets. The first one they showed is code named “Terrorist” and the second one nicknamed just as colorfully is “Ash.” The evidence they have presented shows the origin of the attacks as south-east from the town of Vineygrad (Grape). No launches originated from that direction.
Mariupol City Government sent out an official statement about the attack that specifically DOES NOT name the DNR or Russia as the aggressors.
The wording of the document was voted on by 52 city councilmen and passed unanimously.

Azov Neo-Nazi Battalion Weighs In (see SS style logo)

In the following video made right after the Mariupol rocket attack Azov commander Sergei Korotky gloats that the rockets struck only areas where the Ukrainian military including Azov Battalion never had a presence.
The impact locations are squarely in ethnic Russian areas that support the local militia and where their families are located.

The Ukrainian Nationalist Motive for the Attacks

 In an interview that was never aired on Ukraine’s Channel 5 (Poroshenko’s TV station) Nazar Mosiychuk, a long time Patriot Ukraine member (since 2007[ possible relative Igor Mosiychuk- Azov 2nd in command, head of Ukrainian police]) states what newly appointed Rada MP Andrei Biletsky’s (lobbied US Congress for funding) real opinion about people in Mariupol is.
Azov is based in Mariupol.

“My name is Nazar Mosiychuk, I was born in the Ternopil region. I am a real Ukrainian. I was named in honour of my great-granddad, who in the time of WWII was in the ranks of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army [Hitler’s collaborators] and liberated our native land from the Muscovite scum. He was a real example of a patriot for me..

 .Lady host: – I got you. Nazar, you are saying you should cut their throats, especially cut the throats of the Muscovites. Do you have Russian relatives?

Ukrainian trooper: 

– I am ashamed, but I do have an uncle once removed, a Muscovite louse. And I even lived at his place when I was in Russia as a guest worker. If I knew the truth then, I would have killed him then, in order for him not to shame the Ukrainian nation. He phoned me recently and invited to come over so that no fascists would send me to war. Hush, Slavik! And I told him that he was a dumb Russian, and we are a strong and powerful nation.

You wait, we will come to Moscow and I will personally shoot him. There is no other way, as they are all zombies there, hyped by TV. I forgot to tell you that we need our own church, the Union Church, and not the Muscovite Patriarchate…

Lady host:– What can you say about the local population? Who remains there in the territories under terrorists’ control? What should be done with them?

Ukrainian trooper:

– They are all traitors. All those who wanted to fight for Unitary Ukraine have been with us for some time now. Only the supporters of terrorists and Muscovites are still here, and they have no right to call themselves Ukrainians. I am telling you openly: we will exterminate everyone, I stress – everyone, including women, children and the elderly, who plotted with the enemy and betrayed his native country.”

Circumstantial Evidence Showing Pattern of Ukraine’s Rogue Government Behavior and Direct Involvement
Gorlovka- Civilian Targeting by Kiev
The city of Gorlovka has been the scene of intense bombing and shelling since before the war became hot again. Kiev has used the shelling of civilian targets to provoke a reaction and force the DNR and LNR to break the peace. On January 28th near the village of Ozerianka, which overlooks Gorlovka the DNR army destroyed a Ukrainian artillery position in a surprise attack. The fleeing Ukrainian army left tanks, artillery, as well as battle plans and maps in their rush to retreat.
The DNR army commander “Astop” shown in the video points out that the city of Gorlovka is in plain view through binoculars from that position. There is no denying the Ukrainian military could see their targets clearly and knew they were killing and targeting civilians.
This news which is just breaking show’s the specific targeting of stores, restaurants, and civil targets marked on maps and orders issued by Kiev. In the video at 1:06 Gorlovka is in plain view.
Kiev Orders Ukrainian Soldiers Retreating from Devaltseve Destroyed
A hacked document released by CyberBerkut dated January 25th, 2015 shows the Ukrainian government giving orders signed by Lt. General Sergei Popko to stop conscripts from retreating from the Devaltseve boiler, as it has been dubbed. DNR and LNR forces are rapidly encircling approximately 9000 Ukrainian troops.
The order states- ”In order to avoid mass defections soldiers from the battlefield near Debaltseve command to form the so-called barrage detachments of volunteers,…” The volunteers are the punisher battalions like Aidar, Azov, and Donbass battalions. According to a few of the survivors that were caught by DNR forces, Kiev’s volunteers have already destroyed dozens of Ukrainian conscripts as they tried to retreat. Right now Ukraine is facing a mass exodus of conscript age men to surrounding countries hoping to avoid shedding more blood in what was only 1 year ago a united Ukraine.

The Only Important Voices of the War In Donbass

These are the most important and least listened to voices in the war. They are the most affected and the longest suffering. Take the time to listen to them. The English subtitles make it easy. Ask yourself, can a US Congress get behind this moral atrocity? History remembers both its monsters and those that help create them.

The lesson lost at the UN and in the US Congress may be that history never forgets gutless leaders like Neville Chamberlain who strengthened the hand of Hitler; not because of agreement in ideology, or hate, but fear. National and international leaders that say OK to war crimes or mass murder must never be forgotten by their societies.

 

Is Democracy Dead In The West? Greece and its EU Creditors

January 29th, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

We will find out the answer to the question posed in the title in the outcome of the contest between the new Greek government, formed by the political party Syriza, and the ECB and the private banks, with whose interests the EU and Washington align against Greece.

The Spartans, whose red cloaks and military prowess struck fear into the hearts of both foreign invaders and Greek opponents in the city-states, are no more. Athens itself is a ruin of its historical self. The Greeks, who were once to be contended with, who were able with 300 Spartans, supplemented with a few thousand Corinthians, Thebans, and other warriors, to stop a one hundred thousand man Persian army at Thermopylae, with the final outcome being the defeat of the Persian fleet in the Battle of Salamis and the defeat of the Persian army in the Battle of Plataea, are no more.

The Greeks of history have become a people of legend. Not even the Romans were able to conquer Persia, but little more than a handful of Greeks stopped the attempted Persian conquest of Greece.

But the Greeks, despite their glorious history, could not stop their conquest by the EU and a handful of German and Dutch banks. If the Greece of history still existed, the EU and the private banks would be cowering in fear, because the EU and the private banks have ruthlessly exploited the Greek people and represent the same threat to Greek sovereignty as Persia did.

Greece, stripped of its independence by its EU membership and acceptance of the euro as its currency, has lost is sovereignty. Without control over its own money, Greece cannot finance itself. Greece must rely on private banks from other countries. In the 21st century European private banks are not allowed to lose money simply because they are incompetent and over-lent to EU member countries. This is not considered to be the fault of the banks, but of the borrower governments and populations.

According to reports, the American bankster firm, Goldman Sachs, sometimes known as Gold Sacks, hid Greek debt from view in order that banks would extent more credit to Greece, thus setting the Greek people up for looting.

The EU’s disingenuous argument is that this bankster trickery benefitted the Greek people. The people enjoyed the resources from these loans. Therefore, the Greek people must pay back the loans through reductions in old age pensions, through unemployment, through lower wages, and through the sale of Greek national assets.

This is the austerity that has been imposed on ordinary Greek people by the EU and Greece’s creditors.

Greece is prostrate. Greeks are actually committing suicide, because Greeks cannot provide for themselves in the depressed conditions that the EU and the private banks have created for them for no other reason than that the private banks must not have to write down the loans.

So, one result from “democracy” in Greece is suicide. With enough democracy, we can control world population and halt the destruction of nature’s capital. All we have to do is to enable the banksters to loot the entire world.

What can Syriza do?

Without Spartans, very little.

The party’s intentions and that of its leaders are honest and deserve our respect. Syriza is a people’s party, and that is what marks it for doom. The voice of the people is no longer permitted to affect politics in the Western world. The powerful rich interest groups that rule the West could not care less about the people over whom they rule.

No sooner was Syriza in office than Bloomberg, a business news service, conveyed to the new Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, that Syriza needs to play by the creditors’ rules.http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-28/tsipras-plans-to-avert-catastrophe-as-greek-markets-sink-further

Tsipras stated that the new Greek government does not intend a “catastrophic clash” with its creditors, only an acceptable amelioration of the unreasonable conditions imposed on Greece, in order that Greece can give some satisfaction to its private bank creditors and also avoid social, political and economic instability in Greece.

Against this reasonable statement, Bloomberg reports that the new Greek cabinet contains communists who favor closer ties with Russia. To remind the newly elected Greek government of the whip that is held over Greek financial markets, Greek bond and stock prices were assaulted and driven down.

The warning from the EU and Wall Street is clear: Defy us and we will destroy you.

The punishment of the new Greek government was instant. This from Bloomberg:

“Greek stocks and bonds slumped for a third day, after new ministers said they will cease the sale of some state assets and increase the minimum wage. Yields on three-year bonds rose 2.66 percentage points to 16.69 percent. The benchmark Athens General Index decreased 9.2 percent to its lowest level since 2012, led by a collapse in the value of banks.”

Does Tsipras understand that Greek financial institutions will continue to be punished if they stand behind his government? Bloomberg makes it clear: “Germany warned the Mediterranean nation against abandoning prior agreements on aid, after analysts said that setting Greece on a collision course with its European peers might lead to its exit from the euro region.”

Statements of newly appointed ministers “imply confrontation and tense negotiations in the near future,” Vangelis Karanikas, head of research at Athens-based Euroxx Securities, wrote in a note to clients.”

What is Syriza’s “collusion course”? The new government wants to moderate the agreements made by previous Greek governments that sold out the Greek people. The new government wants to stop giving away at bargain prices Greek public assets to clients of its creditors, and the new Greek government wants to raise the Greek minimum wage so that the Greek people have enough bread and water on which to live.

However, for the private bank creditors, for Merkel’s Germany that stands behind the banks, for Washington which could care less about the Greeks, for the Greek elites who see themselves as “part of Europe,” Syriza is something to be rid of.

And so the Greek bonds are attacked, the Greek stocks are attacked, threats are issued that arouse fear in that part of the Greek population that is propagandized into the belief that Greece must be part of the euro and the EU or be bypassed by history.

What it boils down to is that the Greek people, like the Americans, are insouciant. Only about 37% of the voters voted for Syriza. That is far more votes than any rival party received, but it is not enough to show Washington, the EU and creditors that Greeks stand behind their government.

Instead it shows that the new party had to form a government with another party that money, perhaps, can buy off. It shows that Syriza can be demonized in the Western media and presented to the Greek public as a threat to Greece.

The new government is aware of its weakness. The new prime minister says that he does not want confrontation, but that the new government cannot continue the kowtowing of previous Greek governments. A reasonable accommodation must be reached.

Accommodation is unlikely to occur, because a reasonable accommodation is not the desire of Washington, the EU, or of Greece’s creditors.

A purpose of the “Greek financial crisis” is to establish that EU members are not sovereign countries and that banks that lend to these non-sovereign entities are not responsible for any losses with regard to the loans. The population of the indebted countries are the responsible parties. And these populations must accept the reduction of their living standards in order to ensure that the banks do not lose any money.

This is the “New Democracy.” It is a resurrection of the old feudal order. A few super-rich aristocrats and everyone else serfs obliged to support the ruling order. The looting that began in Greece has spread into Ukraine, and who knows who is next?

With only 37% of the vote, does Syriza have the clout to stand up for Greece against the looters?

Can Greece escape from a situation comparable to the European Dark Ages when populations were ravaged by marauding raiders? Perhaps if Greece realigns with Russia and gains financing from BRICS.

Throughout this conflict every once in a while Ukrainian government officials have come clean about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

To the chagrin of the Obama Administration and NATO Russia has not invaded. This latest admission came twice today. Once by inference and the other a direct admission from Ukrainian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Victor Muzhenko.

During a briefing with General Muzenko he announced that

“To date, we have only the involvement of some members of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Russian citizens [volunteers] that are part of illegal armed groups [Donbass militia] involved in the fighting. We are not fighting with the regular Russian Army. We have enough forces and means in order to inflict a final defeat even with illegal armed formation present. “-

If that wasn’t embarrassing enough for the Poroshenko regime which has consistently stated Russia had invaded and that Ukraine is fighting the Russian Army, it was Petro Poroshenko’s own TV station Channel 5 news that broke the story!

Earlier in the day Ukrainian Military spokesman Lusenko said he was worried if a provocation happened Russia would justify bringing in the Russian army.

This was perfectly in line with General Muzenko’s statements which fully destroy western propaganda and agree the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a hoax.

What about the 37 Russian Invasions Last Year?

November 6th In an interview with Gromadske.TV, Markian Lubkivsky, the adviser to the head of the SBU (the Ukrainian version of the CIA) stated there are NO RUSSIAN TROOPS ON UKRANIAN SOIL! This unexpected announcement came as he fumbled with reporters’ questions on the subject. According to his statement, he said the SBU counted about 5000 Russian nationals, but not Russian soldiers in Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics.

He further clarified that there were no organized Russian units in Donbass. The SBU thinks there are representatives of the Russian FSB (Russian CIA) and mentors who provide training and organization that grew the Novorussia army quickly in its fight with Ukraine.

He went on further to state that the SBU estimates the armies of Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics are about 20-25 thousand strong.

Markian Lubkivsky’s official statement regarding a Russian invasion of Ukraine was made to the strongest nationalist reporter in Ukraine, Natasha Stanko.

Both LifeNews and RT are wondering openly how Petro Poroshenko’s Channel 5 News became the most refreshing Putinesque Propaganda outlet on the planet, if only for a few moments.

A few moments later Channel 5′s talking heads were suffering once again from Putin envy, and denied it ever happened.

Jen Psaki, aka Baghdad Betty has made no comment to Matt Cutts yet about the developing situation.

Stay tuned.

Blowback Against Israeli State Terror

January 29th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Israel claims a divine right to attack any nation, group or individual it chooses with impunity. Considers naked aggression self-defense.

Justifiable self-defense is called terrorism. On January 18, Israeli helicopter gunship fire killed Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughniyeh in Syria’s Quneitra province.

Located in Golan’s demilitarized zone. The site of heavy clashes between Syrian forces and Takfiri terrorists.

Mughniyeh and five other Hezbollah fighters were killed. Plus six Iranians. Including General Mohammed Allahdaddi.

A Lebanese security source said two Syrian soldiers died. Hezbollah and Iran warned of retaliation at their discretion.

On January 28, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Lt. Commander Brig. General Hossein Salami warned of an Iranian response at an unexpected time and place.

“We will take revenge from the Israelis for these martyrs’ blood at a time and place that they don’t expect,” he said.

He called Israel’s Golan attack “the reflection of numerous defeats that both Americans and Israelis have suffered in their current strategies.”

On Wednesday, Hezbollah said it “targeted an Israeli (nine vehicle) military convoy in the Shebaa Farms…which was transporting several Zionist soldiers and officers.”

“There were several casualties in the enemy’s ranks.” Israel claimed two soldiers killed. Seven others wounded when five anti-tank missiles hit their convoy.

Lebanese satellite channel al-Mayadeen quoted unnamed sources claiming 15 Israeli soldiers killed.

Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported an Israeli soldier captured. A Spanish UNIFIL peacekeeper was killed. More on this below.

Washington hypocritically calls every preemptive Israeli act of aggression its right of self-defense. Justifiable retaliatory strikes are called terrorism.

On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki’s statement didn’t surprise. Saying in part:

“The United States strongly condemns Hezbollah’s attack today from Lebanon on Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in blatant violation of the cease fire between Lebanon and Israel and UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks.”

“We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense.”

“Hezbollah continues to incite violence and instability inside Lebanon by attacking Israel and by its presence and fighting inside Syria, which violates Lebanese leaders’ agreed policy of dissociating Lebanon from foreign conflicts.”

America and Israel partner in each other’s high crimes against peace. Both countries support IS terrorists in Syria they claim to be fighting.

Neither side wants protracted conflict. Hezbollah is heavily involved in Syria. Israeli general elections are weeks away.

Eurasia Group analysts Ayham Kamel and Riccardo Fabiani said “Netanyahu most likely realizes that a prolonged military engagement  in Lebanon could cost him the election.”

“Instead, Israel will pursue limited actions targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon, but the low-scale, tit-for-tat exchanges will not broaden into a wider war.”

Netanyahu saying “(t)hose behind the attack…will pay the full price” suggests a limited Israeli response.

Saying Israel is “prepared to act powerfully on all fronts” excludes full-scale war. At the same time, current poll numbers show he lacks enough support to remain prime minister.

According to one observer, when running scared, he doesn’t run smart. Whether he intends greater escalation than most think likely remains to be seen.

His policies made increasing numbers of US Jews anti-Zionists. Another war may turn them all against Israel.

Hezbollah called Wednesday’s strike “statement number one.” Suggesting more to come.

On Friday, Hassan Nasrallah is expected to comment publicly on Israel’s January 18 attack and Hezbollah’s response.

Haaretz reported both sides sent messages through UNIFIL. Indicating no desire to escalate conflict.

“The Israeli side is still holding consultations,” said Haaretz. “(A)t this stage, it appears Israel does not wish further escalation.”

At the same time, Netanyahu said “Iran is trying, via Hezbollah, to set up a terrorist front against us in the Golan Heights.”

“We are working aggressively and responsibly against this attempt…Our mission is to defend the State of Israel.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon added:

“Iran and Hezbollah are trying, and will continue to try, to hurt Israel in every way, from the Golan Heights and certainly from Lebanon, with ruthless terrorist infrastructures aimed at military and civilian targets.”

“Israel will continue acting against “the terrorists and those who send them.”

Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On warned against “impulsive” Israeli actions. Urged efforts to “calm the situation with immediate diplomatic steps.”

“We have bitter experience with military escalation on the eve of elections. The Israeli government must not act impulsively as it has in the past.”

Gal-On criticized Netanyahu warning “anyone who would challenge us on the northern border to look at what happened in Gaza.”

“This statement must set off a warning light for everyone,” said Gal-On. “We’ve already experienced too much bloodshed and grief in the past year.”

“Getting dragged into an unnecessary war in Lebanon is the last thing Israel needs now. It is no one’s interest to fight a Third Lebanon War.”

Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies research fellow Benedetta Berti called what’s ongoing “a very delicate game, because both sides want to respond hard enough that they’re not perceived as weak, but not too hard to start a war.”

“It’s a very, very thin line. There’s plenty of room for miscalculations.”

“If this is where it ends, we’re moving on to the next chapter, with the awareness that every single time this starts again, we get closer to…war.”

Lebanese political analyst Kamel Wazne called Israeli violence “a major breach” of 1974 ceasefire agreement terms.

Hezbollah sees Israel changing the “rules of the game. (It) crossed a red line, and if Hezbollah did not react, (it) won’t stop.”

Hezbollah’s Wednesday attack “shows (its) confrontation is with Israel, so it can get back its respected position in the Arab world.”

By focusing where “it was supposed to be the whole time.” Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center international affairs analyst Jonathan Spyer called pre-election military action “a double-edged sword.”

“The Israeli public doesn’t object to military operations if they’re quick and clean, but the last thing you want to do is go into elections in the middle of a bloody war like the summer of 2006,” he explained.

IDF artillery shelled southern Lebanon after Hezbollah’s attack. Lebanese media reported at least 25 shells landing in its territory.

A Spanish UNIFIL peacekeeper was killed. At a closed-door Wednesday Security Council meeting, Spain’s UN envoy Roman Oyarzun Marchesi blamed Israel.

Saying “(i)t was because of the escalation of violence, and it came from the Israeli side.”

Syria’s Quneitra province was attacked. In response to what appeared to be errant anti-Assad rocket fire causing no damage in an open field. According to an Israeli military spokesperson:

“The IDF holds the Syrian Government accountable for all attacks emanating from its land, and will operate by any means necessary to defend Israeli civilians.”

“Such blatant breaches of Israeli sovereignty will not be tolerated.” Numerous previous Israeli attacks since 2013 perhaps aimed to provoke Syria to respond.

Doing so would give Israel and Washington a pretext to launch full-scale war. Assad wisely held back.

Mossad-connected DEBKAfile said “Israel’s armed forces will now be obliged to pull out the stops to recover respect for its deterrent capacity.”

“There is little choice but to inflict a serious military blow against Hizballah and the Iranian intelligence officers based in Syria.”

It remains to be seen what Netanyahu has in mind. Or perhaps a new prime minister post mid-March elections.

The Jerusalem Post cited an Israeli military investigation saying its vehicles travelled on a civilian Ghajar village road two km from Lebanon’s border.

Hezbollah “attackers were four to five kilometers away from the vehicles. A military D-max vehicle was” first struck.

Soldiers in a jeep “evacuate(d) it before it too was hit with missiles. The subsequent injuries came from military vehicles nearby.”

Israeli media reported quiet along border areas overnight. Ya’alon warned about possible additional IDF attacks.

Saying “(o)ur long arm knows how to reach wherever is necessary. Anyone to tries to attack us is signing their on death warrant.”

An unnamed IDF source called Hezbollah’s attack “a pinpoint tactical response.” Short of full-scale confrontation.

IDF spokesman Brig. General Moti Almoz said he “notif(ied) the residents of the north that they can go back to their daily routine.”

Hezbollah issued similar comments to southern Lebanese residents. IDF and Hezbollah border area forces remain on high alert.

Haaretz editors said “Israelis are paying the price of a showcase operation. (They) should ask themselves whether the Syria strike justified the lost of the soldiers killed…”

Calling it “an operational and a strategic error. (Raising) questions about the judgment of the decision-makers – the prime minister, the defense minister and the chief of staff.”

“No Israeli should avoid asking (if Israel’s attack) contributed to the security of its population…risking regional escalation.”

Haaretz editors called Netanyahu’s government a “regime of fear and war.”

Whether change is possible post-election remains to be seen. Given Israel’s disturbing history, don’t bet on it.

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

On Monday, polls closed in Greece and a new government was sworn into power. Syriza, the populist left-wing party who vehemently opposes the EU austerity measures imposed from Brussels, emerged victorious, forming a coalition with the conservative Independent Greeks party. Thousands in Athens turned out in droves, young and old, to cheer and revel in the victory of Syriza and Alexis Tsipras, the new Prime Minister. Syriza’s commitment towards restructuring EU bank loans and its “Hope is Coming” campaign resonated with voters, who had grown tired of previous Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his New Democracy Party for negative job growth, stagnant wages, and cooperating with EU and IMF loan schemes.

Syriza was forced into an unlikely partnership with the Independent Greeks party, known for their anti-immigration rhetoric. Tsipras, a skilled speaker with a magnetic personality, now has serious heavy lifting to accomplish. Unemployment stands at 25%; youth unemployment is nearly 50%; and EU loans that must be renewed by February 28th. Not to mention high poverty rates, pensions slashed by the troika, and the criminally insane Golden Dawn party. (1)

Syriza, typically defined as “far-left” by mainstream news sources, is anything but. Tsipras and company are simply trying to create a new social justice movement, by combating inequality using community outreach programs.  As reporter Jon Henley explains in The Guardian, health clinics, markets for fresh produce, educational classes and more are popping up in Greece to help poor families stay afloat. (2) By cutting out middlemen, farmers can sell food and receive a larger profit, while folks in need purchase them for a lower price than at a supermarket. Lawyers give free advice to prevent evictions and foreclosures. The Peristeri health clinic, a network of volunteering doctors using donated equipment, treats over 30,000 patients a month, many without insurance.  As a movement organizer explains:

“Greece’s solidarity movement was fostering ‘almost a different sense of what politics should be – a politics from the bottom up, that starts with real people’s needs. It’s a practical critique of the empty, top-down, representational politics our traditional parties practise. It’s kind of a whole new model, actually. And it’s working.’”

This quote says it all. If Syriza is called a far-left party by the establishment, this subtle name-calling only reveals the projected fear of “the powers that be”. If they are called dreamers and utopians, it is only because the nay-sayers who praise neoliberalism cannot see outside their own bubble of propaganda. If they are called naïve, it is only because the media puppets of the ruling class do not have the faith and determination needed to imagine a better society.

Yes, Tsipras has used populist rhetoric to argue for a restructuring and/or non-payment of EU loans. He has also softened his tone recently, as his party realizes that conflict or a complete split with the EU would not be beneficial either. While unabashedly Euroskeptic, Syriza does not approve of the nationalist tone heard in other parties such as UKIP or France’s National Front.

Syriza and Podemos, Spain’s leading leftist party in recent polls, offer a new alternative to mainstream political parties and the faceless technocrats who lord over the EU from Brussels. They offer direct democracy to citizens suffering under unfair austerity measures in a crushing spiral of debt, poverty, and uncertainty. They offer a chance for ordinary people to work together, to foster a sense of community, dignity, solidarity. As a Greek cooperative grocer explains in Henley’s piece:

“All these projects, it’s very important to me, are not just helping people who need it, but they represent almost the start of a new kind of society,” Katerini said. “They are run as direct democracies, with no hierarchy. They are about people taking responsibility for their lives, putting their skills to use, becoming productive again.”

A new kind of society indeed. One not ruled by oligarchs, not coerced into failed policies, not overseen by financial bureaucrats. A society where helping the needy is encouraged, where poverty is being fought at its root sources, unlike the richer Western nations (the US, UK, France, and Germany), where politicians routinely speak to the “middle class” as if the less fortunate no longer exist. And it’s not just happening in southern Europe. In northern Syria, the autonomous Kurdish cantons collectively named Rojava is emerging, where democratic self-government and protection of women’s rights are the pillars of its agenda. (3)

These community organizations, political parties, and social programs in Greece, Spain, legitimately represent the rebirth of grassroots democracy, a movement that ebbed along with the environmental movement in the early 1970s. They represent the spirit of community triumphing over corporations; health and wellness over the postmodern malaise of consumerism; egalitarianism and friendship over the cold hostility of international relations.  While still in their infancy, they are models that the modern West can learn from and adopt. And while we may not yet see drastic changes in our own societies right now, we can take heart in Syriza’s inspired message: Hope is coming.

William Hawes is an independent author specializing in environmental issues and politics.

Notes:

1) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/18/greece-murder-golden-dawn   

2) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/23/greece-solidarity-movement-cooperatives-syriza

3) http://www.gatescambridge.org/news/detail.asp?ItemID=14270

I’m not accustomed to paying much attention to anyone’s national holidays, except perhaps France’s, but only because it at least commemorates what for a brief time was a real revolution. Since I pass a certain consulate almost every day, I do wonder every time I notice that the flag has not been hoisted.

Little did I realise that on the last such occasion, actor-director Clint Eastwood would be watching his latest film release reap in the nation’s box offices. Not only does the harvest mean a monetary yield for the war propaganda industry, one can safely presume that the otherwise hypocritically anti-alcoholic film consumers will be drunk on vintage grapes of wrath American Sniper has stored. Is it accidental that a film about a white assassin hits the box offices on the weekend of Martin Luther King Day?

The film has apparently garnered rave reviews among those media whose job it is to validate the Hollywood product, either for commercial or political reasons. Two critical reviews describe Mr Eastwood’s latest film as sentimental delusion and crass propaganda—not to mention a mediocre piece of work.[1] Today I am unsure whether one ought to admire the diligence or the gastrointestinal fortitude that led them to watch the entire film. When I heard about the film, I watched the trailer—about 2 minutes long. That was more than enough.

Clint Eastwood is supposed to have said that this is an anti-war film. This should surprise anyone familiar with film in the US, esp. Hollywood productions. US anti-war films are rarer than wild Beluga sturgeon. Ironically Clint Eastwood began his film career in the so-called spaghetti Western “Dollar” trilogy, directed by someone whose films, especially Once upon a time in the West, actually criticised the US colonial mythology, Sergio Leone. What Mr Eastwood means, and that is certainly another reason why the film could be such a box-office success, is American Sniper is a “wrong war” film. While no nation likes to admit that it has lost or loses wars, the US response to a war it cannot win—despite unparalleled belligerence and ferocity—is always that it was the “wrong” one. Invading Korea—where Mr Eastwood’s military experience began—was a wrong war. Almost all can now agree that the slaughter of some three million Vietnamese, uncounted Laotians and Cambodians, was again the wrong war. Ignoring the proxy invasion of Nicaragua, the invasions of Grenada and Panama, and sundry terror campaigns throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America, one ought probably assume that these were “right wars” (since the US won them). Fast forward from Korea to Iraq: American Sniper is an anti-war film for sure: it is namely a film that demonstrates how resisting the American war machine is hazardous, indeed lethal.

The “wrong war” thesis is elemental to what Carroll Quigley called “liberal imperialism” in his history of the Anglo-American establishment.[2] Liberal imperialists, to which the faux gauche (the descendants of Fabianism) also belong, do not oppose empire. They simply want it to be more aesthetically appealing, and lost wars are most un-aesthetic. So what is the liberal imperialist’s answer to unappetizing military defeats? It is cosmetic surgery. Counter-terror and counter-insurgency were not beatified by American conservatives but by liberals. The infamous US Army special warfare center at Fort Bragg, NC is named after the patron saint of liberal imperialism, John F. Kennedy. The suggestion that the Christian Right drives the crusades of Green Berets and Navy SEALs is a convenient liberal myth. Both were established as elements of what Philip Agee called “Capitalism’s Invisible Army”. The central deception of American Sniper is not its sentimentality or its overt racism, but concealing that Navy SEAL CPO Chris Kyle is not actually a soldier at all. He was a trained assassin. His assignment to the US Navy is an organisational convenience. As a member of the US Special Operations Command, to which the SEALs belong, Chris Kyle (born in 1974) was what might be called a third generation Phoenix operative. Had he been born a generation earlier he would have been murdering Vietnamese civilians under the guidance of people like William Colby or Richard Holbrooke.[3]

Why then would Clint Eastwood—who ostensibly opposed the Vietnam War—make a film celebrating someone who would have been a joyful participant in the daily war crimes committed by US Forces (overt and covert) in that “wrong war”? I think the answer lies in the role that probably did more than anything to make Mr Eastwood a household name: Harry Callahan, the vigilante police officer of the Dirty Harry series. The first Dirty Harry film was released in 1971.

In 1971, the US invaded Laos (with RVN troops); Lt. William Calley was sentenced to life for his role in My Lai (which Colin Powell tried to help conceal); Richard Nixon declared the “war on drugs” (actually part of domestic counter-insurgency programmes); Riots erupt in Camden, NJ and New York’s Attica Prison (directly caused by racist police and prison guard behaviour); the Knapp Commission begins hearings on police corruption (an exercise in futility). In short, there was enough powder burning and frustration among “whites” to make vigilante police films a welcome dramatic relief. Even John Wayne after trying to defend the Vietnam War in his notorious Green Berets, ended his career with a couple of “police hero” films.

Ever since D W Griffith’s 1915 film Birth of a Nation, there has been a special place in the hearts of US Americans for vigilante films. Griffith’s vigilantes are the Ku Klux Klan. Mr Eastwood’s vigilante is the individual police officer. However, just like in American Sniper, the individual vigilante is a myth. Worse than that it is a lie. Dirty Harry Callahan could not murder at will without the institutional protection granted by the armies of metropolitan police.  Chris Kyle could not confirm his assassination of 160-odd people without the Phoenix-type apparatus maintained under the cover of “special operations”.[4] There are no lone vigilantes in any empire.

American Sniper is certainly vile propaganda but not because of the sentimentality and racism or even the obvious disregard for the US invasion of Iraq as a crime per se. American Sniper is noxious because of what it does not say and no critic has apparently mentioned. Like many films before it—especially those in which Mr Eastwood himself played—the covert role of the police and elements assigned to the military or the military itself is deliberately concealed and obscured. These are not films intended to deny the realities of US wars—“right” or “wrong”. They are not appeals to some equally insipid family values. These are films designed to conceal the massive scope of Phoenix that has survived and thrived since Vietnam. They also serve as a kind of aesthetic for left/ liberal imperialism. The assassin or vigilante is supposedly far less “messy” than the deployment of entire airborne infantry divisions. On one hand the filmgoer can enjoy vicariously the illusion that a tidy sniper can turn a “wrong” war into a “right” one (that the US wins). On the other he can be consoled that it is only a matter of having better soldiers (oh, if all the troops could shoot like him!). The viewer gets to say to himself with every trigger pull, “make my day”. He too becomes part of the invisible cult of terror.

Notes 

[1] http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/01/why-do-critics-love-american-sniper/

[2] Carroll Quigley (1981) The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden.

[3] William E. Colby was the CIA officer—later Director—who supervised the ripening of the Phoenix Program in Vietnam. A generally overlooked biographical detail of Richard Holbrooke’s career was that he began as a foreign service officer assigned to rural pacification in Vietnam, a contemporary of John Negroponte who also began his career there. Rural pacification was one of the key elements of what became the CIA’s Phoenix Program activity.

[4] Douglas Valentine, (2000) The Phoenix Program (2014, Forbidden Bookshelf series e-book)

One of the weirdest features of contemporary culture is the way even the best corporate journalists write as though under enemy occupation.

Journalists admit, even in public, but particularly in private, that there is much they just cannot say. As Noam Chomsky has noted, the best investigative reporters ‘regard the media as a sham’ trying to ‘play it like a violin: If they see a little opening they’ll try to squeeze something in that ordinarily wouldn’t make it through’.

Of course, the truth of the sham is one of the ‘tunes’ that doesn’t get played. While not typically subject to Big Brother-style threats, journalists are keenly aware that they can be swiftly ‘disappeared’ by the grey, profit-oriented suits draped in hierarchical chains above them.

To his credit, George Monbiot is one of the better journalists who seriously wrestles with his conscience on these issues. The crisis apparent in his writing and in his reaction to criticism – Media Lens ‘drives me bananas’, he says - is characteristic of someone trying, and failing, to overcome the limits on free speech.

Writing in the Guardian, Monbiot rails against ‘the rotten state of journalism’ and confesses: ‘I hadn’t understood just how quickly standards are falling’.

It is a classic moment of semi-quixotic, Monbiotic dissent. The ‘rotten state of journalism’ could be a reference to the inherent contradictions of a corporate ‘free press’, the Guardian included. On the other hand, the article has been carefully titled, ‘Our “impartial” broadcasters have become mouthpieces of the elite.’ (Our emphasis)

And who is the target when Monbiot notes that ‘those who are supposed to scrutinise the financial and political elite are embedded within it. Many belong to a service-sector aristocracy, wedded metaphorically (sometimes literally) to finance. Often unwittingly, they amplify the voices of the elite, while muffling those raised against it’?

These criticisms could also implicate the ‘quality’ liberal press. But Monbiot quickly scurries down to lower moral ground by supplying specific examples from, who else?, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and everyone’s favourite media punch bag, the BBC. The Beeb, of course, is sufficiently different from the Guardian to spare the latter’s blushes.

As Monbiot says, the BBC ‘grovels to business leaders’, supplying ‘”a Conservative, Eurosceptic, pro-business version of the world”‘. And this, he notes archly, ‘is where people turn when they don’t trust the corporate press’. Again, this widens the target for a brief moment before Monbiot concludes:

‘Those entrusted to challenge power are the loyalists of power. They rage against social media and people such as Russell Brand, without seeing that the popularity of alternatives is a response to their own failures’.

But he points away from his own employer:

‘If even the public sector broadcasters parrot the talking points of the elite, what hope is there for informed democratic choice?’

The concluding comments are ironic indeed, for while the Guardian does host Brand’s output, it has also led the ferocious liberal assault on his reputation, as we noted here. And it has performed the same role in attacking Julian AssangeHugo ChavezNoam Chomsky and many other dissidents.

On the face of it, Monbiot would appear to be rationally and ethically obliged to remind his readers that the paper hosting his condemnation of broadcast media is itself a prime example of the problem he is describing. We tweeted him:

‘”Those entrusted to challenge power are the loyalists of power.” Isn’t that also true of Guardian/Independent journalists?’

And:

‘Also true of journos who write, “Our broadcasters have become mouthpieces of the elite”, without mentioning their own media?’

Monbiot did not respond. A fellow tweeter, however, chirruped back:

‘undoubtedly true, but even GM [Monbiot] can’t stop sea levels rise. Besides, no job no platform. He’s an ally, even if works for Graun.’

And:

‘GM written an article I am sure you agree with? Unrealistic to expect direct criticism of his employer. Be happy!’

This is pretty much what we receive every time we challenge a ‘mainstream’ dissident: they are doing their best within the constraints of the system; we should support rather than criticise them.

From this perspective, rational questions, even polite challenges, are viewed as a betrayal of ‘solidarity’. This might be arguable if the world was making steady, positive progress rather than hurtling to hell in a climate-denying handcart. But anyway, as Glenn Greenwald writes:

‘Few things are more dangerous than having someone with influence or power hear only praise or agreement.’

A Feral Roar From The New York Times

In the same week, in a piece published in the New York Times, Monbiot writes:

‘Live free or die: This is the maxim of our age. But the freedoms we celebrate are particular and limited.’

True enough. And ironic indeed, given the limited freedoms celebrated by Monbiot in the Guardian that very week. He continues:

‘Even the freedoms we do possess we tend not to exercise… It’s no wonder, when we possess and use it so little, that we make a fetish out of freedom.’

Monbiot seems to supply an example of frustrated freedom fetishism in describing his own peak experience:

‘I felt it most keenly when I stumbled across the fresh corpse of a deer in a wood. I hoisted it onto my shoulders. As soon as I felt its warmth on my back, my skin flushed, my hair stood on end and I wanted to roar. Civilization slid off like a bathrobe… These experiences ignited in me a smoldering longing for a richer and rawer life than the one I lead.’

How readers smoulder and long for a feral ‘roar’ of honesty from Monbiot on the role of the Guardian, Independent, New York Times and other liberal media in creating the catastrophe that is corporate, no-choice ‘democracy’, ‘responsibility to protect’ foreign policy and climate-killing corporate terrorism. But, like most people, we do understand the silence because the price paid would likely be high.

In truth, the brightest and best of corporate journalism, Monbiot included, have played a key role in persuading readers to continue perceiving advert- and corporate entertainment-drenched newspapers as ‘normal’. They have kept us buying into this ‘safe’, toxic, deeply disempowering state-corporate version of journalism, reality and dissent.

Monbiot calls for ‘a partial rewilding’ of our lives, one that ‘allows us to step into a world that is not controlled and regulated’ to ‘recover some measure of the freedom that has been denied to us’.

Absolutely, and domesticated journalism should lead the way.

So what would a ‘rewilding’ of journalism look like? Where could a genuinely ‘feral’ Monbiotic keyboard roar loudest?

Rewilding Journalism

The freely-given support we receive – often expressed in the form of spontaneous, unsolicited donations every time we send a media alert or cogitation – tells us that the public is desperate for an alternative to the crass demeritocracy of corporate journalism. With no profile and very little outreach, we are able to work full-time and rarely send direct appeals for support.

It seems to us that the public is sick to the back teeth of corporate media pretending to supply the truth and nothing but, while miraculously satisfying the fanatical demands of media moguls, corporate advertisers, parent companies, supportive state news sources and other business allies. What a pitiful lie this is!

Many readers are aware, on some level, that the profit motive distorts and cheapens every last thing offered by a ‘mainstream’ media system that in fact represents the extreme viewpoint of 0.1% of the population.

Any given journalist might not give a damn about antagonising the White House, BP, or the Royal Family, but he or she knows that the host media does and must care. So all corporate media output marinades in an environment of ‘caution’, ‘respectability’ and self-preservational second-guessing. ‘Je suis Charlie Hebdo’ aside, write or say anything construed as ‘offensive’ or ‘outrageous’ by the wrong people, and a vast state-corporate, reputational wrecking ball can be mobilised. Anyone can be made a pariah, and journalists and corporate media entities cannot afford the consequences.

To reiterate, we know from our own experience that the public is not indifferent to this – people are very keen to support something positive to change this disastrous status quo. But how to do it? Political parties, corporate media, human rights organisations, and of course organised religions, are almost all fatally compromised. What the public really wants is an inspirational, uncompromised cause that will genuinely challenge state-corporate power and propaganda.

It may sound like wild fantasy, but we can imagine a collective of high-profile writers and journalists willing to detach themselves from corporate and state media, and to place themselves entirely at the mercy of the public.

Two points would be absolutely key for the success of such an initiative: journalistic output should be completely free of charge to the public, a gift; and it should be openly presented as a declaration of intellectual war on the corporate media. Not in any vindictive way – the intention would be to offer an example of honest journalism based on selfless generosity as a contrast to the compromised, greed-based corporate media.

Imagine if George Monbiot, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, David Peterson, Jonathan Cook, Mark Curtis, Glenn Greenwald, Nafeez Ahmed, Robert Fisk, Naomi Klein, Russell Brand, Michael Moore, Julian Assange, Chris Hedges, Sharon Beder, Seumas Milne and others rejected the media moguls, billionaires, parent companies and advertisers, and offered their work completely free of charge from a single media outlet. Would the global public be willing to support such a group, such a cause, through donations? The answer, we think, is blindingly obvious.

As the world continues to slide into the climate change abyss, is it not at least worth the attempt to suck as much dissident talent and reflected credibility as possible out of the corporate media and use it instead to expose these media with unleashed insider knowledge?

Please understand that this strategy has never been attempted – even the very best dissidents have tempered their criticism in a conscious attempt to gain access to a wider audience through corporate media. Even at this late stage of the human crisis, no-holds-barred criticism of the ‘quality’ corporate media has simply never been attempted in an organised, high-profile form.

We believe the internet makes the global outreach and required level of donations achievable. The support would be vast, if the journalism was free, and if it offered a genuine, uncompromising challenge to the corporate stranglehold.

DE

Cuba, los disidentes y el derecho de manifestación

January 29th, 2015 by Salim Lamrani

Los medios informativos occidentales se hicieron el eco de la prohibición de una manifestación de la oposición, sin recordar que lo mismo ocurre a diario en las democracias occidentales.

La prohibición de la manifestación que organizó la artista plástica cubana Tania Bruguera, que reside en Estados Unidos, prevista el 30 de diciembre de 2014 en plaza de la Revolución, lugar emblemático de La Habana donde se desarrollan la mayoría de los acontecimientos políticos oficiales, suscitó muchas polémicas y controversias. La prensa occidental señaló con el dedo al Gobierno cubano, acusándolo de restringir la libertad de expresión y de atentar contra los derechos fundamentales.[1]

La convocatoria, bajo cobertura de expresión artística denominada “el susurro de Tatlin #6″, era en realidad una plataforma política abierta a los sectores de la oposición, incluso a los ligados a la Sección de Intereses Norteamericanos que reciben financiamiento por parte de Washington para sus actividades. Varias iniciativas similares estaban previstas el mismo día en Nueva York y Miami. Las autoridades de la capital decidieron no otorgar un permiso oficial para esta iniciativa.[2]

El Consejo Nacional de Artes Plásticas (CNAP) de Cuba no se solidarizó con Tania Bruguera, acusándola de instrumentalizar su pertenencia a la institución para organizar una manifestación no artística sino política. Por su parte, la Asociación de Artistas Plásticos de la Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba denunció “una provocación política” cuyo objetivo es “situarse en contra de las negociaciones [entre Raúl Castro y Barack Obama] que dan esperanza a muchos seres humanos, en primer lugar a los once millones de cubanos”.[3]

Haciendo caso omiso de la decisión de las autoridades gubernamentales, Tania Bruguera decidió mantener su convocatoria, lo que ocasionó su detención durante unas horas por parte de la policía por violar la decisión oficial, por resistencia y desorden. La policía también impidió que otras figuras de la oposición, como Yoani Sánchez y su marido Reinaldo Escobar, participaran en el acontecimiento.[4]

Estados Unidos expresó su preocupación y condenó los arrestos de una decena de personas. El Departamento de Estado publicó un virulento comunicado contra el Gobierno de La Habana : “Condenamos enérgicamente el acoso continuo por parte del Gobierno cubano y el recurso reiterado a la detención arbitraria, a veces con violencia, para silenciar a los críticos, perturbar las reuniones pacíficas y la libertad de expresión, e intimidar a los ciudadanos”.[5]

No obstante, lo que la prensa occidental y Washington omiten es que Tanía Bruguera habría sido arrestada en cualquier democracia occidental. Conseguir una autorización de las autoridades para manifestarse es un requisito indispensable. En Francia por ejemplo, donde se rechazan cientos de peticiones de manifestaciones todas las semanas, está terminantemente prohibido organizar una agrupación sin el acuerdo escrito de la Prefectura de Policía. La petición tiene que hacerse “al menos un mes antes de la fecha de la manifestación” y “este plazo será de tres meses como mínimo si el evento proyectado agrupará a mucha gente”.[6]

Por otra parte, “cada petición debe llevar toda la información útil sobre el organizador (persona física o jurídica) y sobre la manifestación (naturaleza, fecha, lugar, horario, número de participantes…)”. En Francia, los organizadores de manifestaciones son penalmente responsables de todos los daños que pueda causar el evento. La Prefectura de Policía insiste en este punto: “El organizador debe asumir la tarea de la seguridad general en el sitio dedicado a la manifestación. En caso de daños por imprudencia o negligencia, la responsabilidad civil, incluso penal, del organizador puede evocarse sobre la base de los artículos 1382 y siguientes del Código Civil y de los artículos121-1, 121-2, 223-1 y 223-2 del Código Penal”.[7]

Así, durante el verano 2014, Francia fue el único país del mundo que prohibió las manifestaciones de solidaridad con Palestina tras la mortífera agresión de Israel contra Gaza. La policía dispersó violentamente a los manifestantes y procedió a decenas de detenciones. La justicia sancionó severamente a varias personas por violar la prohibición.[8]

La negativa de las autoridades cubanas a dar la autorización es fácilmente comprensible. La plaza de la Revolución agrupa las sedes del Gobierno, del Comité Central del Partido Comunista y de las Fuerzas Armadas. En Francia, sería impensable una manifestación frente al Palacio del Eliseo, donde reside el presidente de la República.

Otra vez, un acontecimiento banal –una manifestación no autorizada y la detención de los protagonistas que no respetaron la decisión de las autoridades–, que pasaría desapercibido en cualquier otro país del mundo, es primera plana de la prensa internacional cuando se trata de Cuba. Esto es bastante ilustrativo del nivel de imparcialidad de los medios informativos en las democracias occidentales.

Salim Lamrani

Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de La Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula Cuba, the Media, and theChallenge of Impartiality, New York, MonthlyReviewPress, 2014, con un prólogo de Eduardo Galeano.


[1]Nora Gámez Torres, « La artista Tania Bruguera está detenida en Cuba », El Nuevo Herald, 31 de diciembre de 2014.

[2]Ibid.

[3]UNEAC, « Declaración de la Presidencia de la Asociación de Artistas Plásticos de la UNEAC », 30 de diciembre de 2014.

[4]EFE, “Tania Bruguera está detenida por resistencia y desorden, según Policía cubana”, 31 de diciembre de 2014.

[5]Jeff Rathke, « Detention of Activists », U.S. Department of State, 30 de diciembre de 2014.http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/12/235550.htm (sitio consultado el 31 de diciembre de 2014).

[6] Préfecture de Police de Paris, « Manifestation sur la voie publique ou sur tout espace ouvert au public », Ministére de l’Intérieurhttp://www.prefecturedepolice.interieur.gouv.fr/Demarches/Professionnel/Securite-et-accessibilite-des-batiments/Manifestation-sur-la-voie-publique-ou-tout-espace-ouvert-au-public(sitio consultado el 28 de abril de 2014).

[7]Ibid.

[8] Charlotte Oberti, « Manifestation en soutien de Gaza interdite á Paris : des dizaines d’interpellations », France 24, 19 de julio de 2014. http://www.france24.com/fr/20140719-live-direct-paris-manifestations-pro-palestiniens-gaza-interdiction-israel/ (sitio consultado el 1ro de enero de 2015).

Lake Malawi. Photo: bathyporeia. Used under Creative Commons license.

Paladin Energy, an Australian mining company, has been accused of discharging uranium-contaminated sludge into Lake Malawi, which supports 1.7 million people in three countries – Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The company began uranium mining operations in Malawi in 2009 although it suspended operations last year after ore prices fell.

“It is rumored that Paladin secretly have started discharging the so called purified water. Reports from the Beach Village Chairman indicates that this started in late November,” wrote Rafiq Hajat of Malawi’s Institute for Policy Interaction on Facebook. “[At] a radius of 35 km from the Boma, you will be shocked to see fish of different species dead with some communities along the lakeshore collecting [the fish].”

Malawi is the world’s thirteenth poorest country in the world with a life expectancy of 55 years and the government has been keen to figure out ways to increase the national income. When Paladin submitted a proposal to explore for uranium in Kayelekera, northern Malawi, in 2007, Henry Chimunthu-Banda, then Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources, told parliament that the mine could potentially boost the country’s gross domestic product by 10 percent.

Controversy has dogged the Kayelekera mine ever since. “Uranium is radioactive and that with open-pit mining, like the one to be conducted at Kayelekera, the soil drains into rivers and contaminates the water,” Titus Mvalo, a lawyer representing several civil society organizations in Malawi, told Inter Press Service in 2007. “When humans drink the water, it damages kidneys and causes cancer.

At the time, the activist groups warned that the mine would pose a threat to Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest freshwater lake, which is a major source of drinking water and fish for the country. Christopher Mwambene, the executive director of Coordination Union for Rehabilitation of the Environment (CURE), a Blantyre-based environmental NGO, estimated that catch from the lake provides 20 percent of the protein requirement for Malawi’s population.

Perhaps even more damning was the assertion that Paladin was planning to use lower standards to build the Kayelekera mine. “Paladin are certainly not meeting Australian standards and they would not get approval in Australia if they were to present the same EIS here.” Dr. Gavin Mudd, an environmental engineering professor at Monash University in Melbourne, told ABC television news in 2007.

Mudd says that uranium tailings (waste) are typically stored under the water table in Australia and Canada, to reduce the risk of contamination. In Malawi, however, Paladin chose to store the tailings above ground behind a specially contructed dam.

“What Paladin is proposing for Kayelekera is it will depend on what happens with the rainfall and climate, but every few years or so allowing the excess build-up of water to be discharged into the local river system and local water resources,” Mudd added.

“This dam is in a catchment area of the stream,” Reinford Mwangonde, the executive director of Citizens for Justice, an NGO in Malawi, told ABC at the time. “The stream runs into Lake Malawi. A number of people in the community depend on that river for domestic water purposes.

Mudd’s predictions appear to have come true. On January 5, a heavy storm caused the liner in a Kayelekera run-off tank to rupture, releasing up to 500 cubic meters of waste.

The company denied that the rupture had polluted the lake. “Following discovery of the damaged tank, the company immediately commenced protection and remediation procedures and the site remains secure,” Paladin said in an official statement. “A sampling program to analyze water from within the local stream system was initiated to confirm no contamination occurred.”

In a statement issued to the Australian Stock Exchange, Paladin insisted that the company’s water filtration standards met the World Health Organization guidelines and had been approved by the government of Malawi. The company claimed that the activist allegations “contain numerous blatant falsehoods and misleading statements,” and that local non-government organizations were “openly hostile to the company”.

Government officials in Malawi are upset about the situation. “I am very shocked with the situation I have seen after monitoring the mine here and all my questions to the Paladin boss have not been answered satisfactory,” Alex Major, the deputy chairperson of the Parliamentary Natural Resources and Climate Change Committee told a local town hall meeting on January 10.

Meanwhile international experts are starting to question the benefits of the Kayelekera mine. After visiting the country last July, Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, came out against the project. “The criticism is the deals could have been much more equitable, and could have allowed Malawi to use its resources better for the benefit of the population,” he told ABC television news in Australia.

In any case, today Malawi is no longer benefiting financially from Paladin’s operations. In March 2011, after a tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, many countries suspended nuclear operations and the global uranium price started to fall. Three years later, when the price had dropped to less than half of the pre-Fukushima levels, Paladin suspended operations.

Experts says that the ultimate costs of the Kayelekera mine could be very high. “Uranium mining is associated with high environmental impacts and human health risks’” Fleur Scheele, then researcher at the World Information Service on Energy (WISE), an Amsterdam-based anti-nuclear organization, and author of a report on uranium mining in Africa published in 2011. “The costs of rehabilitation of the mining area are often many times higher than the total revenues derived during the mine’s entire lifetime.

Cuba, os dissidentes e o direito de manifestação

January 29th, 2015 by Salim Lamrani

Os meios de comunicação ocidentais foram o eco da proibição de uma manifestação da oposição, sem lembrar que o mesmo acontece diariamente nas democracias ocidentais

A proibição da manifestação organizada pela artista plástica cubana Tania Bruguera, que mora nos Estados Unidos, prevista para o dia 30 de dezembro de 2014, na Praça da Revolução, lugar emblemático de Havana onde acontece a maioria dos eventos políticos oficiais, levantou muitas polêmicas e controvérsias. A imprensa ocidental apontou o dedo para o governo cubano, acusando-o de restringir a liberdade de expressão e de atentar contra os direitos fundamentais.[1]

A convocatória, sob cobertura da expressão artística denominada “o sussurro de Tatlin #6”, era, na verdade, uma plataforma política aberta aos setores da oposição, inclusive aos ligados à Seção de Interesses norte-americanos, que recebem financiamento de Washington para suas atividades. Várias iniciativas similares estavam previstas para o mesmo dia em Nova York e Miami. As autoridades da capital decidiram não outorgar uma permissão oficial a essa iniciativa.[2]

Agência Efe

Manifestação diante da Praça da Revolução em 30 de dezembro

O Conselho Nacional de Artes Plásticas (CNAP) de Cuba não se solidarizou com Tania Bruguera, acusando-a de instrumentalizar sua ligação com a instituição para organizar uma manifestação que não era artística, mas política. Por sua vez, a Associação de Artistas Plásticos da União de Escritores e Artistas de Cuba denunciou “uma provocação política” cujo objetivo é “se situar contra as negociações [entre Raúl Castro e Barack Obama] que dão esperança a muitos seres humanos, em primeiro lugar aos onze milhões de cubanos”.[3]

Leia mais: Cuba mantém recorde e registra uma das menores taxas de mortalidade infantil do mundo

Ignorando a decisão das autoridades governamentais, Tania Bruguera decidiu manter sua convocatória, o que fez que a polícia a detivesse durante algumas horas por violar a decisão oficial, por resistência e desordem. A polícia também impediu que outras figuras da oposição, como Yoani Sánchez e seu marido, Reinaldo Escobar, participassem do acontecimento.[4]

Os Estados Unidos expressaram sua preocupação e condenaram a prisão de uma dezena de pessoas. O Departamento de Estado publicou um virulento comunicado contra o governo de Havana: “Condenamos energicamente o acosso contínuo por parte do governo cubano e o recurso reiterado à detenção arbitrária, às vezes com violência, para silenciar os críticos, perturbar as reuniões pacíficas e a liberdade de expressão e intimidar os cidadãos”.[5]

Análise de Breno Altman: Com acordo, Cuba vence queda de braço com Estados Unidos

Entretanto, o que a imprensa ocidental e Washington omitem é que Tania Bruguera teria sido presa em qualquer democracia ocidental. Conseguir uma autorização das autoridades para se manifestar é um requisito indispensável. Na França, por exemplo, onde se rejeitam centenas de petições de manifestação todas as semanas, está terminantemente proibido organizar uma agrupação sem o acordo escrito do departamento de polícia. A petição tem de ser feita “pelo menos um mês antes da data da manifestação” e “este prazo será de três meses como mínimo, se o evento projetado for agrupar muita gente”.[6]

Agência Efe

Sem autorização para acontecer, ‘manifestação artística’ terminou com várias pessoas detidas

Por outro lado, “cada petição deve conter toda a informação útil sobre o organizador (pessoa física ou jurídica) e sobre a manifestação (natureza, data, lugar, horário, número de participantes…)”. Na França, os organizadores de manifestações são penalmente responsáveis por todos os danos que o evento possa causar. O departamento de polícia insiste nesse ponto: “o organizador deve assumir a tarefa da segurança geral no local dedicado à manifestação. No caso de danos por imprudência ou negligência, a responsabilidade civil, inclusive penal, do organizador pode ser invocada tendo por base o artigo 1382 e os seguintes do Código Civil e os artigos 121-1, 121-2, 223-1 e 223-2 do Código Penal”.[7]

Assim, durante o verão de 2014, a França foi o único país do mundo que proibiu as manifestações de solidariedade à Palestina depois da mortífera agressão de Israel contra Gaza. A polícia dispersou violentamente os manifestantes e realizou dezenas de detenções. A justiça sancionou severamente várias pessoas por violar a proibição.[8]

A negativa das autoridades cubanas em dar a autorização é facilmente compreensível. A Praça da Revolução agrupa as sedes do governo, do Comitê Central do Partido Comunista e das Forças Armadas. Na França, seria impensável uma manifestação em frente ao Palácio do Eliseu, onde mora o presidente da República.

Outra vez, um acontecimento banal — uma manifestação não autorizada e a detenção dos protagonistas que não respeitaram a decisão das autoridades — que passaria despercebida em qualquer outro país do mundo, é o primeiro plano da imprensa internacional quando se trata de Cuba. Isso é bastante ilustrativo do nível de imparcialidade dos meios de comunicação nas democracias ocidentais.

Salim Lamrani

Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos da Universidade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV,  Salim Lamrani é professor-titular da Universidade de la Reunión e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro se chama Cuba, the Media, and the Challenge of Impartiality, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2014, com prólogo de Eduardo Galeano.

Contato: [email protected] ; [email protected]

Página no Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel



[1]Nora Gámez Torres, « La artista Tania Bruguera está detenida en Cuba », El Nuevo Herald, 31 de dezembro de 2014.

[2]Ibid.

[3]UNEAC, « Declaración de la Presidencia de la Asociación de Artistas Plásticos de la UNEAC », 30 de dezembro de 2014.

[4]EFE, “Tania Bruguera está detenida por resistencia y desorden, según Policía cubana”, 31 de deembro de 2014.

[5] Jeff Rathke, « Detention of Activists », U.S. Department of State, 30 de dezembro de 2014. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/12/235550.htm (site consultado em 31 de dezembro de 2014).

[6] Préfecture de Police de Paris, « Manifestation sur la voie publique ou sur tout espace ouvert au public », Ministère de l’Intérieurhttp://www.prefecturedepolice.interieur.gouv.fr/Demarches/Professionnel/Securite-et-accessibilite-des-batiments/Manifestation-sur-la-voie-publique-ou-tout-espace-ouvert-au-public (site consultado em 28 de abril de 2014).

[7]Ibid.

[8] Charlotte Oberti, « Manifestation en soutien de Gaza interdite à Paris : des dizaines d’interpellations », France 24, 19 de julho de 2014. http://www.france24.com/fr/20140719-live-direct-paris-manifestations-pro-palestiniens-gaza-interdiction-israel/ (site consultado em 1 de janeiro de 2015).