Silicon Valley Titans See Which Way the Wind is Blowing …

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee – NSA shill Diane Feinstein – introduced a Trojan Horse of a bill today which pretends it reins in the NSA, but would actually legalize bulk surveillance on Americans.

But the tech giants just threw their support behind a real reform bill.  Specifically, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and AOL put their support behind the USA Freedom Act … the bill introduced by Senator Leahy and Congressman Sensenbrenner to start reining in the NSA for real.

The tech giants aren’t supporting the bill out of the goodness of their hearts, but because cooperating with the NSA has cost them tens of billions of dollars. And see this.

Israel’s Deplorable Human Rights Record

November 1st, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) conducts Universal Periodic Reviews. It calls doing so ”a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all (193) UN Member States.”

It’s an “opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations.”

It’s “designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.”

In January, Israel became the first country to opt out. It no-showed disgracefully. It calls legitimate criticism anti-Israeli bias.

It got a second chance. On October 29, it showed up in Geneva. Complicit EU allies rigged the process. Doing so gave Israel special treatment. It’s the only UN member state so afforded.

Its internal human rights record was evaluated separately from occupation harshness. Its presentation turned truth on its head. Fiction substituted for indisputable facts.

Israel denies Arab citizens fundamental rights. Activist Jews face harsh treatment. Israeli viciousness reflects official policy.

Occupied Palestinians fare worst. Militarized occupation harshness brutalizes them ruthlessly. Netanyahu exceeds Sharonian evil.

Palestine is an isolated prison. Besieged Gaza is the world’s largest open-air one. An entire population is being suffocated out of existence.

Since 1948, Palestinians endured virtually every form of indignity, degradation and crime against humanity. They face daily abuses too great to ignore.

Israeli viciousness is unrelenting. Its HRC presentation mocked reality. It made painful listening. In text form, it ran 25 pages. It includes one lie and distortion after another. It bears no relation to truth.

On September 30, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel prepared a “Report to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Israel 29 October 2013.”

Israel has no constitution. Basic Laws substitute. No Israeli law “guarantees the right to equality and/or prohibits direct or indirect racial discrimination,” said Adalah.

Israel’s 18th Knesset (2009 – 2012) was its worst ever. Racist laws passed routinely. In March 2013, the 19th Knesset convened.

In its first March – July session, 35 new discriminatory laws were introduced. Doing so exceeds the worst of the previous body. Human rights are systematically violated. Core international laws are spurned.

Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens. It does so in virtually all ways imaginable. Equality is verboten. Arabs are treated like fifth column threats.

Doing so is longstanding Israeli policy. Being Arab means being denied fundamental rights.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI):

“Arab citizens face entrenched discrimination in all fields of life. In recent years, the prevalent attitude of hostility and mistrust towards Arab citizens has become more pronounced, with large sections of the Israeli public viewing the Arab minority as both a fifth column and a demographic threat.”

“There are glaring socioeconomic differences between Jewish and Arab population groups, particularly with regard to land, urban planning, housing, infrastructure, economic development, and education.”

“Over half of the poor families in Israel are Arab families, and Arab municipalities constitute the poorest municipalities within Israel.”

ACRI struggles legally and other ways to overcome these inequities. So does Adalah and other Israeli human rights organizations.

Challenging Israeli ruthlessness takes commitment. It requires longterm struggle against injustice. It demands staying the course no matter what.

Israel’s contempt for rule of law principles and ruthless use of force make things tougher.

Zionism is the enemy of Jews and non-Jews alike. It endangers world peace. It threatens humanity. It’s corrosive, destructive, racist, extremist, undemocratic and hateful.

It claims Jewish supremacy, specialness and uniqueness as God’s “chosen people.”

It violates fundamental human and civil rights. It deplores peace. It chooses confrontation over diplomacy. It espouses violence.

It seeks dominance through militarism, intimidation and naked aggression.

In his book “Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine,” Joel Kovel said it turned Israel “into a machine for the manufacture of human rights abuses.” It rages out-of-control.

If you accept “the idea of a Jewish state,” you mix its twin notions of “particularism (and) exceptionalism (that are) the actual bane of Judaism (and give) racism an objective, enduring, institutionalized and obdurate character,” he explained.

“(T)he world would be a far better place without Zionism(‘s)” corrosive effects. Israeli state terror is called self-defense. Palestinian freedom fighters are called terrorists.

Israel is a classic rogue state. It’s all take and no give. Core international law principles don’t matter. Israel violates them unaccountably. Occupation harshness persists.

Jews alone have rights. Palestinians suffer horrifically. Israelification aims for:

  • total control of Palestine;
  • encouraging Palestinians to leave;
  • confining remaining ones to isolated cantons;
  • stealing all valued land;
  • dispossessing its Arab inhabitants;
  • exploiting its water and other resources;
  • co-opting a quisling Palestinian leadership;
  • using it to enforce Israeli diktats;
  • terrorizing ordinary Palestinians into submission; and
  • denying them all fundamental rights and privileges.

Law Professor Michael Mandel said:

“Israel’s West Bank and Gaza settlements are war crimes in Canada.”

“Under the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act 2000, c. 24, Israel’s settlements in territories taken in the June 1967 war constitute war crimes punishable in Canada.”

Mandel cited Section 8, paragraph 2 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Item viii prohibits: “The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory.”

Mandel added:

Although “Israel denies it, there is no question (it’s) an Occupying Power for the purposes of the Geneva Convention, the Rome Statute, and the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.”

Law Professor Francis Boyle said since the 1987 first Intifada erupted, “the world has seen heinous war crimes inflicted every day by Israel against the Palestinian people.”

They include “willful killing.” Israeli security forces and extremist settlers bear full responsibility. Fourth Geneva breaches persist daily.

They include “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated,” Boyle explained.

Israel policy mirrors what Nazi Germany did to Jews. Crimes against humanity “are the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention,” said Boyle.

Michael Mandel explained how America gets away with murder in his book by that title. Israel operates the same way. Palestinians suffer horrifically.

Whitewashing Israeli crimes won’t absolve them. Decades of pain and suffering persist. Don’t expect Palestinians to forgive or forget. Liberation remains a distant dream.

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

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

In an article published Wednesday on ACLU.org, titled “Where’s the Suspicion in Government’s ‘Suspicious Activity’ Reports?” Nusrat Choudhury, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) National Security Project, detailed domestic surveillance and information gathering programs headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which have systematically targeted Muslims and political activists.

As the report shows, since 2008 the US government has been assembling so-called Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), which are collected and shared between federal agencies via the FBI’s “eGuardian” program. The eGuardian program aggregates SARs from “fusion centers” across the country and shares them with other agencies.

The ACLU report mentioned two programs in addition to eGuardian, one called the Information Sharing Environment Suspicious Activity Reporting Shared Spaces (ISESARSS), and an “umbrella” program that oversees eGuardian and ISSESARSS called the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative.

Choudhury characterized the eGuardian program as granting “broad discretion to law enforcement to collect information about innocent people engaged in commonplace activities, to store data about these people in criminal intelligence files without any evidence of wrongdoing,” and charged the government with operating on “vague and expansive definitions” of “suspicious activity.”

Choudhury concluded that available evidence shows “the collection of actual Suspicious Activity Reports is based primarily on bias against racial and religious minorities and the exercise of First Amendment rights—not reasonable evidence of criminal activity.”

According to the report, normal legal activities are being cited as cause for surveillance by the FBI. As Choudhury wrote, “photography and videography are frequently reported without additional facts that render these constitutionally-protected activities inherently suspicious.”

In a letter submitted to the government, the ACLU pointed to numerous SARs created by fusion centers in California, which targeted individuals who were engaged in routine activities such as taking photographs and conversing loudly in a foreign language.

Aside from the targeting of immigrants and persons with a Middle Eastern background, the documents provided by the ACLU show that Americans who express dissident views or anti-government sentiments are being targeted for surveillance and entry into eGuardian databases.

Items listed by the ACLU included:

* “UC Davis dorm bathroom had anti-government graffiti written in black marker on the wall.”

* “Suspicious upside down American flag seen on big rig.”

* “Suspicious conversation overheard—The neighbor, one of 4 young clean cut Middle Eastern males, was speaking excitedly in a foreign language.”

* “Information regarding trending at Sunrise Mall”: “there was a substantial increase in the presence of female Muslims fully dressed in veils/burkas.”

All of this is being done in the name of the “war on terror.” As the revelations by Edward Snowden have made clear, however, the real targets of the surveillance are not terrorist groups, which in many cases receive backing from the US and its allies. The US government is aiming its massive spying operation against the people of the US and the world.

According to evidence gathered by the ACLU, the racial profiling and brazen violations of constitutional rights has even provoked disquiet inside the law enforcement agencies themselves. Officers from states including Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, Iowa and Florida have complained about the aggressive FBI surveillance.

Choudhury’s report is the second exposure of FBI-run surveillance in as many months, coming after a September report, also by the ACLU, titled “Unleashed and Unaccountable: The FBI’s Unchecked Abuse of Authority,” which described the FBI as a “secret domestic intelligence agency.”

The report concluded that the FBI has grown rapidly since 2001, saying that the bureau has been “radically transformed during the 12-year term of Director Robert S Mueller, III, into a domestic intelligence and law enforcement agency of unprecedented power and international reach.” According to the report, the FBI is “targeting immigrants, racial and religious minorities, and political dissidents for surveillance, infiltration, investigation, and ‘disruption strategies.’”

“The abuse, enabled by a roll-back of post-Watergate intelligence reforms and encouraged by long-standing Justice Department and FBI practices, has subverted internal and external oversight by squelching whistleblowers, imposing and unfrocking unnecessary secrecy, and actively misleading Congress and the American people,” the ACLU wrote.

Referring the FBI, the ACLU continued, “The excessive secrecy with which it cloaks these domestic intelligence gathering operations has crippled constitutional oversight mechanisms. Courts have been reticent to challenge government secrecy demands and, despite years of debate in Congress regarding the proper scope of domestic surveillance, it took unauthorized leaks by a whistleblower to finally reveal the governments secret interpretations of these laws and the Orwellian scope of its domestic surveillance programs.”

“Unleashed and Unaccountable” contains sections such as “Surveillance Powers, Given and Taken,” “Expanding FBI Investigative Authorities,” “FBI Profiling Based on Race, Ethnicity, Religion, and National Origin,” “Unrestrained Data Collection and Data Mining,” and “Targeting First Amendment Activity.”

Under the heading “Biased training,” the ACLU report states that FBI training material include “amateurish power point presentations that paint Muslims and Arabs as backward and inherently violent” and an essay which instructed FBI agents to determine an individual’s “potential for violence” by inquiring about their views on the Iraq war and “the political situation in Israel and Egypt”.

Other presentations cited by the report instruct agents on methods for surveillance against “Black Separatist Extremists,” “Anarchist Extremists,” and “Animal Rights/Environmental Extremists”.

Well aware of the growing anger over social inequality, war and the threat of dictatorship, the government is putting into place the framework for a political police network aimed at monitoring, controlling, and ultimately suppressing opposition to the American state and ruling elite. As the ACLU reports reveal, the ruling class has traveled far down the road in this direction.

Already mired in a diplomatic crisis in Europe over National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance operations, Washington—as well as Canberra—is facing a backlash in Asia over the latest revelations that the NSA, working in tandem with Australian agencies, intercepted phone calls and data from embassies throughout the region.

The Fairfax media yesterday reported on the involvement of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) in the NSA program, codenamed STATEROOM, which gathers electronic intelligence from covert facilities inside diplomatic missions. According to a former Australian intelligence officer, the ASD operates “from Australian embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili, and High Commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby, as well as other diplomatic posts.”

Details of the STATEROOM program are contained in an NSA document leaked by Edward Snowden and originally published by Der Spiegel in Germany. US diplomatic missions and those of other members of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence alliance, including Canada and Britain, are involved. The document noted that the highly secretive “collection sites” are small in size and “their true mission is not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff” where they are located.

Angry reactions yesterday to the Fairfax and Der Spiegel articles give a glimpse of the diplomatic storm that is brewing throughout Asia. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stated: “China is severely concerned about the reports and demands a clarification and explanation.” Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea expressed serious concerns.

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa declared that his government “strongly protests” over the spying operation, which, if confirmed, would be “not only a breach of security, but also a serious breach of diplomatic norms and ethics.” Teuku Faizaisyah, a senior adviser to the Indonesian president, branded the “illegal ways of collecting information” as “highly unacceptable.”

While Washington has exploited the “war on terror” as the pretext for its massive spying operations on rivals and allies alike, the NSA operations are clearly broad in scope. The former Australian intelligence officer explained that the “main focus” of surveillance at the Australian embassy in Jakarta was “political, diplomatic and economic intelligence.” He explained: “The huge growth of mobile phone networks has been a great boon and Jakarta’s political elite are a loquacious bunch.”

The Fairfax press reported that a classified briefing of Australian MPs several years ago had incorporated details of “a series of intelligence scoops that included a recording of an intercepted video conference call between Malaysia’s most senior military commanders.”

A top secret NSA map published by Der Spiegel on Tuesday displayed 90 surveillance facilities in US diplomatic missions worldwide, run by a joint CIA-NSA group known as the “Special Collection Service.”

* China is the major target in East Asia, with surveillance facilities in the US embassy in Beijing, as well as US consulates in Shanghai and Chengdu, and in the unofficial US diplomatic office in Taiwan.

* The US has eight listening posts in South Asia, including in US embassies in India and Pakistan.

* In South East Asia, there are listening posts in embassies in Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. The embassy in Bangkok also features a technical support team and monitors a remotely operated facility in the US consulate at Chang Mai in northern Thailand.

The latest revelations are a blow to the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—a diplomatic offensive and military build-up aimed at undermining China’s influence and strategic position throughout the region. A standard element of American propaganda has been the accusation that Beijing is engaged in large-scale cyber espionage against the US and other countries. What has now been exposed is that the NSA is engaged in illegal spying operations of unprecedented size and scope, on governments and the broader population alike, throughout Asia and the world.

The Obama administration risks alienating key allies and strategic partners that form part of its plans for the strategic encirclement of China. According to the Diplomat, news last week that the NSA was spying on world leaders prompted “some Asian nations, notably South Korea, to demand information on whether their leaders were among the 35 being monitored.” India has already announced a new policy for official emails, following revelations that it was the fifth most spied-on country by the NSA.

The latest exposures underline the central role of Australian spy agencies and bases to the NSA surveillance operations in Asia. Just as the present Coalition government, like the previous Labor government, is committed to opening Australian military bases to American forces in their build-up against China, so the ASD is completely integrated into the vast US electronic spy network.

Leaked NSA documents previously revealed that four Australian sites contribute data to an NSA program codenamed X-Keyscore, which separates data into streams of phone numbers, email addresses, log-ins and user activity for storage in massive data banks. These sites are the US-Australian Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, and three ASD facilities—the Shoal Bay Receiving Station near Darwin, the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station at Geraldton in Western Australia, and the naval communications station HMAS Harman outside Canberra.

The Sydney Morning Herald today exposed the existence of a fifth electronic surveillance facility, known locally as “the house with no windows,” on the remote Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean. According to former Australian defence officers, the ASD post is “devoted to maritime and military surveillance, especially Indonesian naval, air force and military communications.” Australia’s Cocos Islands outpost, which has been earmarked as a potential base for US drones and warplanes, is adjacent to key strategic shipping lanes to South East Asia.

Australia also hosts vital listening posts plugged into the major undersea cables that carry the vast amounts of Internet traffic between North America and Asia. Kyodo News reported a month ago that the Japanese government rejected NSA requests in 2011 to establish similar cable facilities in Japan, citing “a lack of legislative authority.” Australian governments, however, had no such qualms about integrating the ASD and other spy agencies into the NSA’s illegal activities.

In 1999, amid the Australian military intervention in East Timor, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard notoriously acknowledged to an interviewer that Australia functioned as the US “deputy sheriff” in Asia. His remark provoked outrage throughout the region. Commenting on yesterday’s revelations, Chinese professor Zhu Feng declared: “Australia follows the US without principle and unconditionally. Australia doesn’t even deserve to be called ‘deputy sheriff’—they’re more like a subordinate.”

Despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s bland denials, Australia’s intimate involvement in the America’s spying operation in Asia will only reinforce the widespread view that Canberra operates as the flunkey of US imperialism in its predatory operations, not only against rival governments, but the working class of Asia and the world.

NATO and CIA Support Al Qaeda Terrorists in Syria

November 1st, 2013 by Tony Cartalucci

A recent Daily Telegraph article reveals that armies of Al Qaeda terrorists are using NATO-member Turkey as a springboard for their invasion of neighboring Syria.

NATO is the chief executor of the so-called “War on Terror,” started in 2001 after Al Qaeda terrorists allegedly flew four passenger planes into various targets on America’s east coast, including the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Nearly 3,000 people died in a single day. The invasion of Afghanistan promptly followed based on the pretense that it was “harboring” members of Al Qaeda. The invasion and nearly decade-long occupation of Iraq followed shortly thereafter.

Yet despite all of this, Turkey, a NATO member since the early 1950′s, appears to be guilty of the very crime Afghanistan was allegedly invaded and to this day still occupied for, harboring Al Qaeda terrorists. An army of Al Qaeda is (and has been for nearly 3 years) using southern Turkey as a safe-haven and staging ground for the invasion of Syria – disingenuously portrayed by the Western media as a “civil war.”

Worst of all, these terrorists, literally carrying Al Qaeda’s banner into battle, are passing CIA outposts, US, British, and French special operations training camps, and through Western-funded refugee camps, on their way to commit a wide array of atrocities along and within Syria’s borders.

This defies all explanations except one - the “War on Terror” is a fraud, and the very terrorists thousands of Western troops have died chasing across the planet, have been armed, funded, trained, propped up, and reconstituted by the West itself as a perpetual excuse to engage in global aggression, occupation, and wars of immense profit in both terms of wealth and geopolitical power.

The Daily Telegraph, in its article, “Al-Qaeda recruits entering Syria from Turkey safehouses,” has recently reported:

Hundreds of al-Qaeda recruits are being kept in safe houses in southern Turkey, before being smuggled over the border to wage “jihad” in Syria, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The network of hideouts is enabling a steady flow of foreign fighters – including Britons – to join the country’s civil war, according to some of the volunteers involved.

These foreign jihadists have now largely eclipsed the “moderate” wing of the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is supported by the West. Al-Qaeda’s ability to use Turkish territory will raise questions about the role the Nato member is playing in Syria’s civil war.

Turkey has backed the rebels from the beginning – and its government has been assumed to share the West’s concerns about al-Qaeda. But experts say there are growing fears over whether the Turkish authorities may have lost control of the movement of new al-Qaeda recruits – or may even be turning a blind eye.

Of course, the Telegraph is plainly deceiving its readers. The use of Al Qaeda as a militant proxy against Syria is not an unpredictable and unfortunate result of the ongoing Syrian conflict, but instead a well documented Western plan exposed as early as 2007 by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Seymour Hersh in his article, “The Redirection,” which stated (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.”

Clearly, the only thing NATO, Turkey, and the Western press have “lost control” of, is the narrative used to deceive the public.

The CIA Not Only Watches Al Qaeda Pass, But is Clearly Arming Them

The New York Times in their March 2013 article titled, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With C.I.A. Aid,” admits that: 

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

The New York Times piece attempts to spin America’s role in arming militants in Syria. The Times continues by stating:  

The American government became involved, the former American official said, in part because there was a sense that other states would arm the rebels anyhow. The C.I.A. role in facilitating the shipments, he said, gave the United States a degree of influence over the process, including trying to steer weapons away from Islamist groups and persuading donors to withhold portable antiaircraft missiles that might be used in future terrorist attacks on civilian aircraft.  

Just like the Telegraph, the Times is overtly lying to its readers. So-called “Islamists” constitute the summation of armed aggression against the Syrian government specifically because the plans outlined by Hersh in 2007 are now being executed by the CIA, within NATO-member Turkey’s territory, along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Western Special Forces are Training Al Qaeda Terrorists

In addition to the CIA, Western special forces are also operating along and within Syria’s borders. A June 2013 LA Times article titled, “U.S. has secretly provided arms training to Syria rebels since 2012,” admitted:

CIA agents and special operations troops have trained the rebels in anti-tank and antiaircraft weaponry in Jordan and Turkey.

The LA Times continued:

 CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons since late last year, months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming them, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.

 The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey, along with Obama’s decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels, has raised hope among the beleaguered Syrian opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in the country’s bitter civil war.

Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra front has established itself on Syria’s battlefields allegedly because of its martial prowess, in contrast to the bumbling “moderates” allegedly trained by US special forces. How is it possible that the West, along with their regional partners, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are arming, funding, and admittedly training armies of “moderates,” and yet Al Qaeda has still managed to prevail? Who is arming, funding, and training them? The answer is simple – there were never any meaningful “moderates” despite ham-handed attempts by the Western media to insist otherwise, and the West is intentionally assisting Al Qaeda, just as was planned in 2007.

Thousands of Western troops have died, and are still dying in the so-called “War on Terror.” Many more have been maimed and/or psychologically effected. Evidence suggests that there was no lapse between US backing of Al Qaeda in the 1980′s in Afghanistan and today – and that even as US troops fought on in Iraq, the West and its partners in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel were arming and funneling terrorists into the country to fuel sectarian violence designed spec

US Led Wars Lead to the Enrichment of a Social Minority

October 31st, 2013 by Jeremy Scahill

“The only beneficiaries of any of these wars have been the elite, the rich! And in the current context: huge corporations.

They are the only people that want anything from these wars…

In America we are a bunch of sleeping people right now about this stuff.

We need to wake up. If you don’t do something about it when it’s under attack, once these laws are passed, it’s almost impossible to go back…”


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An editorial in Canada’s largest newspaper has urged that Canada not provide “safe haven for torturers,” on the eve of a visit by former US Vice President Dick Cheney to Toronto.

Four men — Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz — have submitted a 64-page indictment and thousands of pages of supporting material to Canadian authorities, which has yet to be acted upon.

Cheney is scheduled to address the 2013 Toronto Global Forum on Thursday, October 31st. The newspaper joins an international chorus of attorneys, human rights activists, and street protesters calling for the arrest of Cheney for war crimes committed during his tenure as vice president. The Toronto Star op-ed asserts that Cheney and President George W. Bush oversaw torture programs in which men were:“beaten, hung from walls or ceilings, deprived of sleep, food and water and subjected to extreme temperatures, among other acts of abuse they endured while in U.S. custody.”Unlike the United States, Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which obliges the Canadian government to investigate and prosecute known instances of torture under the Geneva Conventions.

Torture room at Abu Ghraib

Torture room at Abu Ghraib

Bush-era instances of torture remain at the forefront for legal activists calling for prosecution and justice, who say that the practice of “waterboarding” is but the tip of the iceberg in a veritable House of Horrors maintained under the Bush administrations, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and in secret “black box” locations run by the CIA around the world. A British national, Binyam Mohammed, filed a case in the UK, which was ultimately quashed at the urging of the Obama administration, in which he alleges that US torturers repeatedly sliced his genitals with a razor, even though they knew he had no information to give. In 2002, after being flown in a US government plane to Morocco, Binyam says he was held in “black box” CIA prison where, according to his diaries reported in the UK Guardian:

One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over.”

Binyam says he was in Morocco for about 18 months, and that he was tortured in this manner about once a month. His diaries state:“One time I asked a guard: “What’s the point of this? I’ve got nothing I can say to them. I’ve told them everything I possibly could.”"As far as I know, it’s just to degrade you. So when you leave here, you’ll have these scars and you’ll never forget. So you’ll always fear doing anything but what the US wants.”"The diary also alleges:“Later, when a US airplane picked me up the following January, a female MP took pictures. She was one of the few Americans who ever showed me any sympathy. When she saw the injuries I had she gasped. They treated me and took more photos when I was in Kabul. Someone told me this was “to show Washington it’s healing.”"

“Washington” can only refer to the US administration, of which Cheney was a part. In 2009, US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler found Binyam’s charges credible, writing that:“His genitals were mutilated. He was deprived of sleep and food. He was summarily transported from one foreign prison to another…The Government does not dispute this evidence”In another instance, a young Afghan farmer, who was posthumously cleared as innocent of any wrongdoing, was hung from a ceiling until his shoulders were dislocated, and his legs beaten so badly that one witness said they were “basically pulpified.”

Doctors in the investigation testified that the man, named Dilawar, would have had to have his legs amputated had he lived. US Army Spc. Willie Brand, the only soldier disciplined in the death of Dilawar, with a reduction in rank, maintains that knowledge of the torture taking place in the prison ran up the chain of command, and told Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes in 2006; “I didn’t understand how they could do this after they had trained you to do this stuff and they turn around and say you’ve been bad”

Sketch by Sgt. Thomas V. Curtis showing how Dilawar was chained to the ceiling of his cell.

wikimedia.org/
Sketch by Sgt. Thomas V. Curtis showing how Dilawar was chained to the ceiling of his cell.

Dilawar is the subject of a documentary film entitled Taxi to the Dark Side.Cheney has already canceled one trip to Toronto, in 2012, citing fear of massive protests. Four men — Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz — have submitted a 64-page indictment and thousands of pages of supporting material to Canadian authorities, which has yet to be acted upon.

The The Toronto Star writers opine that:“[The indictment] submitted by the four tortured men clearly demonstrated that an investigation – and prosecution – of Bush for torture was warranted.”

Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/article/361212#ixzz2jKUCeSKi

Dick Cheney Calls for War on Iran

October 31st, 2013 by Global Research News

Let’s go make war on Iran!” said Republican Dick Cheney in somewhat different words on one of those silly Sunday shows October 26th.

This wasn’t the first time Cheney had advocated for war on Iran. Or for torture. Or for assassination by drone. Or for any other war crime for which he is unlikely ever to be held accountable.

 But in all fairness to the former vice president, this time he really only implied that war on Iran was inevitable. Looking at the record, however, it’s hard to find any war Cheney hasn’t found “inevitable,” even if he had to lie to get it started, as he did with Iraq.

And Cheney’s fondness for “inevitable” wars relies not merely on dishonesty, but more importantly, on personal detachment. Cheney has wanted all these wars to be inevitable for other people, not for anyone in his circle. That’s the way it’s been for Cheney since he copped out on the war of his generation, getting five deferments from Viet Nam because he had “other priorities” that included cheering on the warmakers who were sending more and more of other people’s children to suffer and die in Southeast Asia.

On the other hand, Cheney didn’t call for attacking Iran with nuclear weapons the way Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson did a few days earlier at Yeshiva University. Cheney did not object to nuking Iran either. And he hasn’t publicly disagreed with the octogenarian gambling mogul, so one suspects Cheney would be happy enough to see this particular smoking gun turn into a mushroom cloud.

Is nuking the Iranian desert really a smart move?

In fairness to Adelson, who heavily backed Newt Gingrich for president, he didn’t call for nuking Tehran right off. He said the U.S. should drop a demo nuke in an Iranian desert and then say: if you don’t drop your nuclear weapons development program, then we’ll nuke Tehran. Either strike would be a war crime.

 But it’s far from certain that Iran actually has a nuclear weapons development program. Those who say it is certain are lying, for whatever political purpose they think their lies may serve. The same might be said about those who claim it’s certain that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons development program, people who have included the government of Iran and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as well as Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service (at least according to The New York Times and Ha’aretz).

The reality is that, outside of Iran, no one has any certainty what Iran’s long term intentions are, never ?mind what they might be doing about those intentions at the moment. Too many people, especially people in assorted governments, have a vested interest in not believing that, even if it’s true.

They’d rather take a chance on creating an untenable Catch-22 demand for Iran to drop a program it doesn’t have – even if it means another war.

Iran is the right’s favorite straw man, scapegoat, and imagined existential threat. And Iran, perversely, seems to delight in baiting its declared enemies with hints and innuendoes that feed their greatest fears without providing enough concrete evidence to make those fears demonstrably real. This is like déjà vu all over again, a replay of Saddam Hussein’s self-defeating posturing in defense of his own nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

A whole history matters, not just one side of it

You might think Iran had done enough for the American right by holding American hostages long enough in 1979-1980 to elect Ronald Reagan (who later made his own detente-like overtures to Tehran, though he felt the need to do so in secret). But no, Iran has been demonized for more than 30 years by people who refuse to put Iran’s actual crimes in the context of the United States’ having destroyed Iranian democracy in 1953.

What makes the Cheneys and Adelsons of this world crazier than ever these days is the possibility – the mere possibility – that the Obama administration might somehow restore the slightest normalization with an Islamic nation of 77 million people that hasn’t attacked another sovereign state in more than a hundred years under a variety of regimes.

 For Iranophobes, more than a century of nonaggression is not enough to offset the fevered dream that Iran might attack somebody, primarily Israel, despite lacking significant means or motivation to do so. Remember Senator John McCain invoking the Beach Boys during his 2008 presidential campaign – “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran?” Did he ever say why, exactly? No, he said he was joking.

Cheney isn’t joking. He’s talked about bombing Iran for years, so much so that the mystery is that he didn’t get President Bush to do it.

Cheney didn’t get his war, but at least he prevented peace

The best Cheney could do was to prevent a peaceful relationship from developing with Iran after the U.S. occupied Iraq in 2003. Iran sent a peaceful initiative that Colin Powell, then Secretary of State, wanted to explore. Cheney killed it.

In 2007, Cheney’s plan was to persuade Israel to attack Iran’s uranium enrichment plant. Then, when Iran presumably retaliated, the U.S. would bomb Iran to bits. Earlier in the year, Cheney’s plan to bomb “training camps” in Iran met opposition from the Pentagon and didn’t happen.

In 2008, Seymour Hersh reported about another war planning meeting involving Cheney earlier that year:

There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build – we in our shipyard – build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives. And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans….

“I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues,” Cheney admitted in 2009, expressing the same view Adelson holds now: “I thought that negotiations could not possibly succeed unless the Iranians really believed we were prepared to use military force. And to date, of course, they are still proceeding with their nuclear program and the matter has not yet been resolved.”

It doesn’t matter so much why you bomb, so long as you bomb

 In 2011, after an American drone went down in Iran and the Iranians had it in their possession, Cheney told CNN that the best response would have been to bomb Iran: “The right response to that would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it…. You certainly could have gone in and destroyed it on the ground with an airstrike.”

On CBS, when asked if that airstrike might not have started a war, Cheney chose not to answer the question, preferring to blame President Obama: “But the administration basically limited itself to saying, ‘Please give it back,’ and the Iranians said no.”

Cheney continues to pimp for war on Iran, most recently on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, where Cheney first called for Congress to impose more sanctions on Iran, in addition to sanctions that have been in place for years. The Obama administration opposes new sanctions now, wanting to allow recently started talks to play themselves out with as little impediment as possible.

In that context, Stephanopoulos asked Cheney: “Did you think your administration should have taken military action against Iran’s nuclear program?”

 Cheney didn’t answer the question directly, talking instead about Israel bombing a Syrian reactor in September 2007, and expressing regret that the U.S. hadn’t done the job instead:

“And if we had taken out the Syrian reactor the way the Israelis did, and they wanted us to do it, we would have sent a clear signal about proliferation. We would have given substance and meaning to our diplomacy. The Iranians would have to look at that and say, these guys are serious about it, they mean business. And we’d be much more effective today negotiating with the Iranians if we’d taken out that Syrian reactor seven years ago.”

And then the media-military-industrial complex revealed itself

Stephanopoulos immediately, leadingly, inexplicably asked an unprompted, unprincipled, softball question: “Is military action against Iran inevitable?”

“I have trouble seeing how we’re going to achieve our objective short of that. And I doubt very much that the diplomacy will be effective if there’s not the prospect that, if diplomacy fails, that we will, in fact, resort to military force,” Cheney responded.

“Let’s turn to politics,” replied Stephanopoulos, as if floating a self-fulfilling prophecy designed to encourage Congress to improve the chances of pushing the country into another war weren’t politics.

 Going to war to hold people accountable for crimes they haven’t committed – fantasy crimes – really isn’t such a good idea. It’s a lesson the past decade in Iraq should have taught us all without much ambiguity. So why do any of the mainstream media (like ABC, CBS, and CNN above) continue to give airtime to the warmongering opinions of unindicted war criminals? But that’s not a question people like Stephanopoulos and his employers even ask, is it?

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

 

 “Russell Brand, who are you to edit a political magazine?” asks BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.) interviewer Jeremy Paxman with all the arrogant irrelevance required of an establishment shill at the beginning of an eleven-minute interview on the BBC’s October 23 edition of Newsnight. Posted on the BBC Newsnight channel on Youtube, the interview had almost 6 million views in its first three days

Disappointingly, Brand does not immediately respond to the insult with something like, “Well who are you to decide who does or doesn’t get to edit anything in a country that more or less claims to have a free press?”

This segment of Newsnight isn’t exactly for serious news.  It’s also a promotional appearance by Brand, whose primary work is as a comedian and actor, currently on a world tour of his stand-up show, Messiah Complex.  It opened in June, but doesn’t get even a mention in the interview. Brand is on the program now because one of Britain’s more successful political magazines, New Statesman, has just published its October 24 issue for which Brand served as guest editor, organizing the content around the present need for global revolution. He explained his appearance in New Statesman in a 4,500-word editorial that began:

 “When I was asked to edit an issue of the New Statesman I said yes because it was a beautiful woman asking me. I chose the subject of revolution because the New Statesman is a political magazine and imagining the overthrow of the current political system is the only way I can be enthused about politics.”

  So when the over-dressed, neatly bearded Paxman challenges the under-dressed, shaggy Brand about his “credentials,” Paxman is both quietly bullying, and is committing a basic logical fallacy: basing his argument on authority, rather than facts.  Instead of pointing this out, Brand answers with a variation on the opening paragraph of his editorial, with an added joke about being “a person of crazy hair, quite a good sense of humor, don’t know much about politics – I’m ideal!”

“But is it true you don’t even vote?” Paxman immediately asks next, already knowing the answer. Brand confirms this, he’s never voted. Then, not even thirty seconds into the interview, Paxman seems to go gently for the jugular: “Well, how do you have any authority to talk about politics then?”

Can we then assume that, if you don’t vote, you don’t really exist? 

Brand takes the bait without missing a beat. He doesn’t challenge the presumptuous premise of the question – that you have to participate in a system in order to earn the right to criticize that system (a standard by which there was no authority for the Cold War). But Brand takes the question at face value and offers a perfectly coherent, brief answer about deriving his authority from looking for alternatives “that might be of service to humanity – alternate means, alternate political systems.”

Still on the attack, the BBC interviewer presses the comic for a blueprint of his alternate systems, but this time Brand ridicules the ridiculous question. He points out some of the worst abuses by the current system, noting that the world would be improved merely by stopping these abuses (such as destroying the planet, creating massive economic disparity, or ignoring the needs of the people) – “the burden of proof is on the people with the power.”

Paxman pounces on the mention of power and tries to argue that people “get power by being voted in…. in a democracy, that’s how it works.” This is just another paraphrase of the traditional establishment defense, that you have to be part of the system if you want to change the system. It’s so patently false, it’s hard to imagine Paxman actually believes it.  But it’s an argument he’s tacitly expected to make as part of his job.

But Paxman has a repitation for being good at his job.  Business Insider calls him “Britain’s toughest journalist,” adding that he’s “a journalist known for his incredibly combative style of interviewing (he once asked a government minister the same question 12 times in succession).”

So Paxman presses on with the same rutted irrelevance, in an ad hominem form: “If you can’t be asked to vote, why should we be asked to listen to your political point of view.” When Brand bats that away with more sharp criticism of the system, Paxman tries a guilt inflection, asking Brand, “Well why don’t you change it then?”

Challenging the powerless to change things is what the powerful do

When Paxman learns that Brand has never voted, he tries to make the issue completely personal, saying to Brand: “so you struck an attitude, what, before the age of eighteen.”  This is tantamount to calling Brand’s politics nothing more that an adolescent pose, rhetoric without substance.  Just over two minutes into the exchange, Paxman seems to be on top when Brand says:

“Well, I’d really been a drug addict at that point, because I come from the kind of social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that really just administrates for large corporations and ignores the population that –“

Paxman interrupts with a desperate ploy: “You’re blaming the political class for the fact that you had a drug problem?” But Brand keeps on with an articulate critique of the present moment that reduces Paxman to accusing Brand of not believing in democracy and wanting a revolution. Something is happening here, and he doesn’t seem to know what it is.

Now, in response to Brand’s articulate litany, Paxman goes in a completely different direction: “All of those things may be true –“ They are true!” says Brand. “I wouldn’t argue with you about many of them,” Paxman responds, at which point the interview appears to be edited and what follows is some nonsense about Paxman’s beard.

Paxman shifts back to the inquiry mode, asking Brand for details again about what me means by revolution and what are the specifics of the new system he wants, but his tone now is less confrontational. Even so, when Brand says voting makes no difference, Paxman responds, “It does make a difference,” without offering any evidence that it does. And he’s already agreed with Brand that in many important ways, voting hasn’t made a difference.

After six minutes, Paxman seems more hesitant, the exchange becomes more of a conversation. Having conceded most of the problems facing the world, Paxman tries yet another tack in defense of the powerful: “It’s possible that human beings are just overwhelmed by the scale of the problem.”

That seems desperate and improbable, since he’s defending people who, rather than appearing overwhelmed, are actively making the problems worse. When Brand lucidly says as much, Paxson, without looking Brand in the eye, says, “You don’t really believe that.” But he’s quiet almost to the point of inarticulateness at this point and offers no rebuttal. Brand by now is energized and needs no questions to continue his hyperactive analysis than ends with, “why pretend, why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion?”

Lacking a relevant response, he tries irrelevance, and then silence

Paxman, defender of the status quo, answers only: “Because by the time somebody comes along that you might think it worth voting for, it may be too late.” In other words, Paxman is suggesting, your analysis of the crisis is essentially correct, but the only way to fix it is to work within the system. At this point, after almost nine minutes, Paxman even looks as hopeless as he sounds, and Brands spins on.

After another minute of saying nothing, Paxman asks quietly, “Do you see any hope?”

“Yes, totally, there’s going to be revolution, it’s totally going to happen,” Brand snaps back. And then he gets personal with Paxman in a startling way. Brand says:

“I remember seeing you on that program where you look at your ancestors and you saw that your grandmother had to brass herself or else get f**ked over by the aristocrats that ran her gaff and you cried – because you knew that it was unfair, and unjust. And that, what was that, a century ago?

“That’s happening to people now. I’ve just come from a woman who’s being treated like that, I’ve just been talking to a woman, today, who’s being treated like that. So if we can engage that feeling, instead of some lachrymose sentimentality trotted out  on TV for people to pore over, emotional porn – if we can engage that feeling and change things, why wouldn’t we? Why is that naive? Why is that not my right because I’m an ‘actor’? I’ve taken the right. I don’t need the right from you. I don’t need the right from anybody. I’m taking it.”

The segment ends and Paxman hasn’t said another word.

Washington’s Answers Don’t Justify NSA Spying

October 31st, 2013 by Eric Draitser

“Dick Cheney cancels Toronto trip, says Canada is too dangerous”.

Too dangerous for what and for whom?

Lest you be confused, that was back in April of 2012, when he decided to cancel his trip to Toronto.

Cheney was indicted for war crimes by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal in a historic judgment in May 2012:

Chief Prosecutor of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission v. George Walker Bush et al

According to a March 2012 report:

Former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney has cancelled an April [2012] appearance in Toronto citing concerns Canada is too dangerous.

“He felt that in Canada the risk of violent protest was simply too high,” said Ryan Ruppert, president of promotions company Spectre Live Corp., which had booked Mr. Cheney for an April 24 appearance at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

In September [2011], Mr. Cheney was speaking at a private club in Vancouver when protesters massed outside the front door harassing ticket holders and in one instance, choking a security guard.

 The former vice-president was reportedly held inside the building for more than seven hours as Vancouver Police in riot gear dispersed the demonstrators.

 Richard Cheney, former Vice President of the United States of America is scheduled to speak in Toronto Ontario on 31 October 2013 at the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by the International Economic Forum of the Americas at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Latest news suggests that Cheney’s visit to Toronto is on. But so is the citizens’ movement to arrest him.

The malign Dick Cheney is in Toronto this week, having apparently conquered his fear of Canada and the anti-torture protests that made him cancel an April speech last year. I don’t know how another war criminal has made it across our border — Kissinger visits often — but there Cheney will be on Halloween at noon, speaking to the Toronto Forum of the International Economic Forum of the Americas in the glassy erotic climes of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

What ho! Blood will run from the taps. A sudden chill will envelop the city.

There had been worries. “God forbid there was ever a [health] emergency,” his speech booker said of the April cancellation, given that the last time Cheney was in Canada, he had had to hide inside for simply hours from Vancouver anti-torture demonstrators (Toronto Star, October 31, 2013)

Canada is still a dangerous place for former vice president Dick Cheney. Lawyers have warned in a letter to Toronto Chief of Police that Once Richard (Dick) Cheney enters Canada:

• All of the torture alleged against and admitted by Dick Cheney, is deemed to have taken place in Canada, pursuant to (s. 7(3.7) of the Criminal Code of Canada (CC);
• criminal proceedings can be commenced against him in Toronto Ontario BC (CC, s. 7(5);
• Canada must ensure that Dick Cheney is either investigated and prosecuted for the indictable offence of torture in Canada or extradited to another country willing and able to do so (Convention against Torture, Art. 7);
• Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers are duty bound to arrest and detain Dick Cheney for investigation on suspicion of torture as part of Canada’s mandatory legal obligation to prevent and punish torture globally;
• TPS officers are duty bound to arrest Dick Cheney to ensure the proper conduct of his investigation and prosecution for torture in Canada or his extradition to a country willing and able to prosecute;
• TPS officers are duty bound to arrest Dick Cheney to prevent him from escaping to the United States or some other jurisdiction where he will have ‘safe haven’ from prosecution for torture;
• the arrest of Dick Cheney can be carried out without warrant in advance of the commencement of criminal proceedings in Canada.

In their letter, Lawyers against the War duly reminded Toronto Chief of Police William (Bill) Blair and Attorney General of Ontario John Gerretsen, that “TPS officers also have a mandatory duty to prevent offences against the administration of justice such as enabling a torture suspect (in this case a person who has admitted to authorizing and failing to prevent torture) to escape prosecution.”

We remind you that neither Dick Cheney’s status as former vice president of the United States nor his status as a guest of the Toronto Global Forum or the International Economic Forum of the Americas constitutes a defense to torture or confers on him any temporary immunity from Canadian law. As you are aware, TPS officers are compelled by law to ensure that the criminal law is administered in accordance with s. 15(1) guarantee that, “[e]very individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination…”

Michel Chossudovsky is Member of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) which initiated the prosecution directed against Bush et al in May 2012

When someone with interesting things to say is granted a high-profile media platform, it is wise to listen to what is being said and ask why they have been given such a platform. Comedian and actor Russell Brand’s 10-minute interview by Jeremy Paxman on BBC’s Newsnight last week was given considerable advance publicity and generated enormous reaction on social media and in the press, just as those media gatekeepers who selected Brand to appear would have wished.

The interview was hung on the hook of Brand’s guest-editing of a special edition of New Statesman, the ‘leftwing’ weekly magazine owned by the multimillionaire Mike Danson. In a rambling 4500-word essay mixing political comment, spiritual insight, humour and trademark flowery wordplay, Brand called for a ‘total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic system.’

‘Apathy’, he said, ‘is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people’. He rightly noted that the public is, however, ‘far from impotent’, adding:

‘I take great courage from the groaning effort required to keep us down, the institutions that have to be fastidiously kept in place to maintain this duplicitous order.’

These were all good points. But one of these institutions, unmentioned even once in his long essay, is the BBC.

Last Wednesday, from the safe confines of the Newsnight studio, Jeremy Paxman introduced his Russell Brand interview in archetypal world-weary mode like some kind of venerable patrician inviting a precocious, innocent upstart to join an exalted circle, just for a few moments. Paxman began by characterising Brand’s New Statesman essay as a ‘combination of distaste for mainstream politics and overweening vanity’. A Newsnight professional then flicked a switch and the prepared interview ran, filmed in an anonymous luxury hotel room. Paxman’s line of attack was that Brand couldn’t ‘even be arsed to vote’. It continued like this:

Jeremy Paxman: ‘Well, how do you have any authority to talk about politics then?’

Russell Brand: ‘Well I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people. I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity. “Alternate” means alternative political systems.’

JP: [Sceptical look] ‘They being?’

RB: ‘Well, I’ve not invented it yet, Jeremy. I had to do a magazine last week. I had a lot on my plate. But here’s the thing it shouldn’t do. Shouldn’t destroy the planet. Shouldn’t create massive economic disparity. Shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people. The burden of proof is on the people with the power, not people doing a magazine.’

JP: ‘How do you imagine that people get power?’

RB: ‘Well, I imagine there are hierarchical systems that have been preserved through generations.’

JP: ‘They get power by being voted in. You can’t even be arsed to vote!’

RB: ‘That’s quite a narrow prescriptive parameter that change is within the…’

JP: ‘In a democracy that’s how it works.’

Of course, Paxman’s establishment-friendly remarks may be attributed to playing devil’s advocate. But it seems clear that Paxman really does believe we live in a functioning democracy. Certainly, the BBC man has an embarrassing faith in the good intentions of our leaders. In 2009 he commented of the Iraq war:

‘As far as I personally was concerned, there came a point with the presentation of the so-called evidence, with the moment when Colin Powell sat down at the UN General Assembly and unveiled what he said was cast-iron evidence of things like mobile, biological weapon facilities and the like…

‘When I saw all of that, I thought, well, “We know that Colin Powell is an intelligent, thoughtful man, and a sceptical man. If he believes all this to be the case, then, you know, he’s seen the evidence; I haven’t.”

‘Now that evidence turned out to be absolutely meaningless, but we only discover that after the event. So, you know, I’m perfectly open to the accusation that we were hoodwinked. Yes, clearly we were.’

It is indeed ironic, then, that the gullible Paxman should cast himself as a hard-bitten realist challenging a well-intentioned but naïve fantasist.

As we’ve noted before, the notion that we live in a proper democracy is a dangerous illusion maintained by a state-corporate media to which Paxman himself is a prominent contributor. Brand confronted Paxman directly about the limited choice of policies and politicians offered to the public:

‘Aren’t you bored? Aren’t you more bored than anyone? You’ve been talking year after year, listening to their lies, their nonsense – then it’s that one getting in, then it’s that one getting in. But the problem continues. Why are we going to continue to contribute to this façade?’

But that was about as far as Brand went. He had nothing to say about the insidious role of the BBC in maintaining support for the crushing economic and political system that is, as Brand stated, destroying the planet, creating massive economic disparity and ignoring the needs of the people. By agreeing to enter the lion’s den of a BBC interview, edited and packaged as a high-profile 10-minute segment on Newsnight, knowing that he would likely boost viewing figures amongst a target younger audience without drawing attention to these parameters, far less criticising them, Brand let a major component of state-corporate power off the hook. He effectively contributed to the illusion that the BBC is a level platform for reasoned, vigorous and wide-ranging debate on the most serious issues affecting people and planet.

This matters because, as we have noted before, the most effective propaganda systems provide opportunities for somedissent while the overwhelming pattern of media coverage strongly supports state-corporate aims. And the BBC, regarded by many people as the epitome of all that is good about Britain, is arguably the most powerful media institution in this equation. After all, the BBC is still the news source for the majority of the public, and thus the establishment-friendly window through which the population views domestic and world affairs. An opinion poll published in May 2013 showed that 58% of the British public regards the BBC as the most trustworthy news source, far higher than its closest rivals: ITV (14%), Sky News (6%), Channel 4 News (2%) and the Guardian (2%).

The irony is that Brand referred in the interview to the safety ‘valves’ that allow steam to be let off, keeping an unjust system in place. But he was only referring to recycling and driving ‘greener’ cars like the Prius which ‘stop us reaching the point where you think it’s enough now’. So when is it ‘enough now’ to draw attention to the destructive role played by powerful elite news media, most especially the BBC?

More than once, Brand backed off from putting Paxman and the BBC in the spotlight:

RB: ‘The planet is being destroyed. We are creating an underclass. We are exploiting poor people all over the world. And the genuine legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.’

JP: ‘All of these things may be true…’

RB: [Interjecting] ‘They are true.’

JP: ‘… but you took – I wouldn’t argue with you about many of them.’

RB: ‘Well how come I feel so cross with you. It can’t just be because of that beard. It’s gorgeous!’

The trivial diversion to the topic of Paxman’s beard meant that Brand’s question, ‘Well how come I feel so cross with you?’ was left hanging in mid-air. This is the point where Brand could, and should, have gone on the offensive about Paxman’s privileged position as a supposed fearless interrogator of power, the BBC man’s connection with the British-American Project once described as a ‘Trojan horse for US foreign policy’, and then extending to a critique of the BBC itself. There is no shortage of examples of BBC propaganda that could have been raised.

None of that happened.

A Menagerie Of Mockers

Brand’s espousal of popular views on Newsnight was sufficiently unsettling, however, that reactionary voices from the media class were quick to mock, denigrate or patronise him. Former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook explained why this is the case:

‘What indicates to me that Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald and Russell Brand, whatever their personal or political differences, are part of an important social and ethical trend is the huge irritation they cause to the media class who have spent decades making very good livings being paid by the media corporations to limit our intellectual horizons.’

Tom Chivers, the assistant comment editor of the Daily Telegraph told his readers that Brand is an ‘unnecessary revolutionary’, and that basically the current system of capitalism works fine apart from a few ‘pockets of regression, little eddies in the forward current’.

David Aaronovitch of The Times declared via Twitter:

‘In what way was Russell Brand not an anarchist version of the maddest kind of UKIP supporter?’

and:

‘If you’re angry enough it absolves you from actually thinking anything through. That’s what I got from the Brand interview on #newsnight’

Cook provided other early responses from ‘Britain’s elite journalists in Twitterland’ which ‘illustrated the general rancour they feel towards those who threaten to expose them as the charlatans they are.’

Media commentators continued to spring up to take a pop at Brand. Robin Lustig, who until last year presented The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4, asserted that Brand is ‘not only daft but dangerous’. Lustig said dismissively of Brand:

‘The truth is that he has nothing to contribute, other than the self-satisfied smirk of a man who knows he’ll never go hungry or be without a home.’

Joan Smith exhorted Brand in the oligarch-owned Independent on Sunday:

‘Go back to your lovely home in the Hollywood Hills and leave politics to people who aren’t afraid of difficult ideas and hard work. You’re one celebrity, I’m afraid, who’s more idiot than savant.’

Just last month, Smith was bemoaning the MPs who had voted against a possible war on Syria or, as she called it, ‘intervention on humanitarian grounds’. She had written:

‘We believe in universal human rights; our laws, treaties and political leaders say so.’

To be this openly credulous, to declare a belief in something because ‘our leaders say so’, is a remarkable admission for an ostensible journalist.

Simon Kelner, editor-in-chief of the Independent newspapers, acknowledged that Brand ‘articulates a strain of thinking among a growing number of young people’.

He added:

‘there was just the sense, when Jeremy met Russell, that some of the old certainties may be shifting.’

True enough. But Kelner made sure his readers knew that Brand’s call to overthrow the system of capitalism that is killing the planet is ‘Spartist nonsense’.

In the Observer, pro-war commentator Nick Cohen even went as far as an insidious comparison between comedian Russell Brand and fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and slyly suggested that Brand was calling for a violent revolution. Not true. Somehow Cohen had mangled Brand’s peaceful call to ‘direct our love indiscriminately.’

Cohen then added:

‘artists have always made a show of being drawn towards fanaticism. Extremism is more exciting and dramatic, more artistic perhaps, than the shabby compromises and small changes of democratic societies.’

For Cohen, the ‘shabby compromises’ include neverending support for Britain’s participation in bloody wars and violent ‘interventions’ in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan…

Back To The 1980s

When the media commentariat have to resort to smears and insults you can be sure that fear of the public is playing a part. Readers may feel, then, that we are being a tad harsh on Brand. Didn’t he make many cogent points, and more than hold his own against Paxman, the BBC’s famed rottweiler? Indeed, yes. Brand rightly pointed out that politicians are not taking the necessary action on pressing issues such as climate:

‘They’re not attempting to solve these problems. They’re not. They’re attempting to placate the population. Their measures that are currently being taken around climate change are indifferent, will not solve the problem.’

Adding later:

‘What I’m saying is that within the existing paradigm, the change is not dramatic enough, not radical enough.’

But is this really any different from what environment and social justice campaigners have been saying for decades? Go back to the 1980s, and weren’t we hearing the same thing from Jonathan Porritt and the Greens, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and other campaigners? In many media alerts over the years, such as here and here, we have pointed out that the corporate media has long suppressed, marginalised and diverted any radical challenges to the status quo. Campaigners and activists, of whatever hue and driven by whatever issue, can no longer ignore this crucial issue.

Even in Brand’s 4500-word New Statesman piece, he had very little to say about the corporate media. There were two passing mentions of ‘media’, but no mentions of ‘press’, ‘journalism’ or ‘television’. Perhaps we should not be surprised that the well-intentioned Brand, a former ‘MTV journalist’, presenter of Big Brother’s Big Mouth and an actor in big-budget movies, should have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to the corporate media.

George Monbiot declared on Twitter, perhaps only with part of his tongue in cheek, that:

‘The realisation that Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) is in fact the Messiah is disorienting on so many levels.’

Others applauding Brand on social media included Alain de Botton and Jemima Khan. But few prominent supporters of Brand’s ‘revolution’, if any, have said anything that is genuinely critical of elite power; especially of the corporate media, including the BBC. We have, for example, discussed de Botton’s corporate-sponsored ‘branded conversations’ here.

It is understandable that there was much praise for Russell Brand’s Newsnight interview and New Statesman essay. To a large extent, this signifies the desperation of people to hear any challenge to the power-protecting propaganda that we are force-fed every day. But two crucial factors here are that Brand was selected to appear by media gatekeepers; and that media institutions, notably the BBC, escaped serious scrutiny. If Brand was a serious threat to the broadcaster’s projected image as a beacon of impartiality, he would not have been chosen.

Noam Chomsky has a cautionary note on high-profile exposure in the corporate media:

‘If I started getting public media exposure’, he once said, ‘I’d think I were doing something wrong. Why should any system of power offer opportunities to people who are trying to undermine it? That would be crazy.’

Given all that, how likely is it that the BBC would really provide a launchpad for a revolution?

Neocons Push Israeli-Saudi Alliance

October 31st, 2013 by Robert Parry

Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post.

Early U.S. presidents warned against the dangers of “entangling alliances,” prescient advice that the neocons want President Obama to ignore amid demands from Israel and Saudi Arabia that America tie itself up in the endless and bloody sectarian conflicts of the Middle East.

American neocons are rallying to the new Israeli-Saudi alliance by demanding that President Barack Obama engage more aggressively against the two countries’ foes in the Middle East, thus “bolstering Israeli and Saudi confidence,” as the Washington Post’s deputy editorial-page editor Jackson Diehl declared.

For years, the Washington Post has served as Official Washington’s neocon flagship, bristling in support of every hawkish demand for U.S. intervention in the Mideast, most notably assembling a flotilla of misguided consensus in support of President George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and then pounding any American skeptics who dared emerge over the horizon.

Diehl’s column on Monday represented an extension of the neocons’ knee-jerk support of Israeli interests to those of the Saudi monarchy, Israel’s new secret friend. Diehl hoisted the banner of this odd-couple alliance in excoriating President Obama for letting down these two “allies” as they maneuver to crush what’s known as the Shiite crescent extending from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon.

In sync with the regional interests of Saudi Arabia and Israel, Diehl argued that the United States should toughen up its military posture in the Middle East with the goal of “reshaping conditions on the ground,” specifically going after Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and damaging the new Iranian government of President Hassan Rouhani, or in Diehl’s words, “weakening Assad [and] degrading Iranian strength.”

Diehl added, “That work could be done without deploying U.S. troops, but it would be hard, expensive and require a lot of presidential attention.” Presumably, Diehl wants the U.S. military to launch those cruise missiles that were poised to “degrade” Assad’s regime in late August, and he hopes the U.S. diplomatic corps will rebuff Iran’s overtures for a diplomatic settlement over its nuclear program.

Like other neocons, Diehl takes Obama to task for giving peace a chance – by accepting Assad’s surrender of Syria’s chemical weapons, by seeking a negotiated settlement to the Syrian civil war (with Assad agreeing to send representatives to Geneva although the fractious Saudi-backed Syrian rebels and their jihadist allies still balk), by working with Iran on a deal that would swap tighter international controls over Iran’s nuclear program for sanctions relief, and by pressing for meaningful talks between Israel and Palestine toward a two-state solution.

Diehl deems this diplomatic offensive a series of “foreign policy fantasies,” the title of his Washington Post op-ed. By pushing diplomacy over confrontation, Obama has, in Diehl’s view, “driven a wedge between the United States and some of its closest allies [leaving] U.S. allies in the region – Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey – marooned in a scary new world where their vital interests are no longer under U.S. protection.

“Israel and Saudi Arabia worry that Obama will strike a deal with Iran that frees it from sanctions without entirely extirpating its capacity to enrich uranium — leaving it with the potential to produce nuclear weapons. But more fundamentally, they and their neighbors are dismayed that the United States appears to have opted out of the regional power struggle between Iran and its proxies and Israel and the Arab states aligned with the United States.

“It is the prospect of waging this regional version of the Cold War without significant U.S. support that has prompted Saudi leaders to hint at a rupture with Washington — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to talk more publicly than ever about Israel’s willingness to act alone.”

Fighting for Others

Diehl — like virtually all his compatriots in the mainstream U.S. news media — leaves out the detail that Israeli already possesses one of the most sophisticated though undeclared nuclear arsenals in the world, while U.S. intelligence agencies still conclude that Iran is not working on even a single nuclear bomb.

Diehl also doesn’t bother to explain exactly why the American people should continue to expend vast amounts of money, prestige and blood to take sides in these interminable and often incomprehensible conflicts in the Middle East. The neocons simply behave as if every American should understand why a Shiite-dominated regime is so much more objectionable than a Sunni one; why an absolute monarchy like Saudi Arabia is preferable to a limited democracy like Iran; and why Israel has some fundamental right to possess East Jerusalem and other Palestinian lands.

For many Americans, it’s perhaps even harder to understand why the likes of Jackson Diehl and his boss, editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt, continue to reign over the Washington Post’s editorial section more than a decade after they helped guide the American people into the disastrous war in Iraq.

Not only has there been no accountability for their journalistic errors, including reporting Saddam Hussein’s alleged possession of WMDs as “flat fact” when it was no fact at all, but also none for the ugly character assassination against war critics, such as former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson whose wife, CIA officer Valerie Plame, saw her career destroyed when the Bush administration exposed her identity on the Post’s op-ed pages and Hiatt then kept up a years-long campaign to destroy Wilson’s reputation. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Why WPost’s Hiatt Should Be Fired.”]

Beyond no accountability at the Post, there appear to have been no lessons learned. Hiatt, Diehl and the other neocons simply continue to place the policy desires of Israel, in particular, and now its new buddy, Saudi Arabia, above the foreign policy of the U.S. government and above the interests of the American people.

In the early years of the Republic, Presidents George Washington and John Adams warned against the dangers of “entangling alliances” that could draw the United States into faraway and expensive conflicts that would drain the Treasury and create unnecessary enemies. In his Farewell Address, Washington saw the risk of foreign influence coming not only from adversaries but from allies who would seek to twist American domestic opinion in their favor.

Washington warned: “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.”

Those early warnings seem particularly prescient today regarding the Middle East, given the extensive and expensive efforts by Israel and Saudi Arabia to win favor in Official Washington through lobbying, propaganda and financial favors doled out to many influential Americans.

While Israel’s skills at lobbying and propaganda are renowned, Saudi Arabia also can throw its weight around through its ownership of American debt, its ability to manipulate oil prices and its stakes in major U.S. corporations, including in the powerful Wall Street financial sector.

Now that these two longtime rivals, Israel and Saudi Arabia, have formed a behind-the-scenes alliance – joining together on key regional issues such as countering Iranian influence, subverting the Assad regime in Syria, and backing the military coup in Egypt – the Obama administration finds itself confronting an imposing phalanx of political and economic clout.

The ease with which neocons like Jackson Diehl lift up the banner of this new combination of Israeli-Saudi interests is a telling sign of the two countries’ impressive geopolitical muscle. [For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Israeli-Saudi Alliance Slips into View.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, 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.

The Data Hackers

October 31st, 2013 by Pratap Chatterjee

Big Bro is watching you. Inside your mobile phone and hidden behind your web browser are little known software products marketed by contractors to the government that can follow you around anywhere. No longer the wide-eyed fantasies of conspiracy theorists, these technologies are routinely installed in all of our data devices by companies that sell them to Washington for a profit.

That’s not how they’re marketing them to us, of course. No, the message is much more seductive: data, Silicon Valley is fond of saying, is the new oil. And the Valley’s message is clear enough: we can turn your digital information into fuel for pleasure and profits—if you just give us access to your location, your correspondence, your history, and the entertainment that you like.

Ever played Farmville? Checked into Foursquare? Listened to music on Pandora? These new social apps come with an obvious price tag: the annoying advertisements that we believe to be the fee we have to pay for our pleasure. But there’s a second, more hidden price tag—the reams of data about ourselves that we give away. Just like raw petroleum, it can be refined into many things—the high-octane jet fuel for our social media and the asphalt and tar of our past that we would rather hide or forget.

We willingly hand over all of this information to the big data companies and in return they facilitate our communications and provide us with diversions. Take Google, which offers free email, data storage, and phone calls to many of us, or Verizon, which charges for smartphones and home phones. We can withdraw from them anytime, just as we believe that we can delete our day-to-day social activities from Facebook or Twitter.

But there is a second kind of data company of which most people are unaware: high-tech outfits that simply help themselves to our information in order to allow U.S. government agencies to dig into our past and present. Some of this is legal, since most of us have signed away the rights to our own information on digital forms that few ever bother to read, but much of it is, to put the matter politely, questionable.

This second category is made up of professional surveillance companies. They generally work for or sell their products to the government—in other words, they are paid with our tax dollars—but we have no control over them. Harris Corporation provides technology to the FBI to track, via our mobile phones, where we go; Glimmerglass builds tools that the U.S. intelligence community can use to intercept overseas calls; and companies like James Bimen Associates design software to hack into our computers.

There is also a third category: data brokers like Arkansas-based Acxiom. These companies monitor our Google searches and sell the information to advertisers. They make it possible for Target to offer baby clothes to pregnant teenagers, but also can keep track of your reading habits and the questions you pose to Google on just about anything from pornography to terrorism—presumably to sell you Viagra and assault rifles.

Locating You

Edward Snowden has done the world a great service by telling us what the National Security Agency does and how it has sweet-talked and bullied the first category of companies into handing over our data. As a result, perhaps you’ve considered switching providers from AT&T to T-Mobile or Dropbox to the more secure Spider- Oak. After all, who wants some anonymous government bureaucrat listening in on or monitoring your online and phone life?

Missing from this debate, however, have been the companies that get contracts to break into our homes in broad daylight and steal all our information on the taxpayer’s dime. We’re talking about a multi-billion dollar industry whose tools are also available for those companies to sell to others or even use them for profit or vicarious pleasure. So just what do these companies do and who are they?

The simplest form of surveillance technology is an IMSI catcher. (IMSI stands for International Mobile Subscriber Identity, which is unique to every mobile phone.) These highly portable devices pose as mini-mobile phone towers and can capture all the mobile-phone signals in an area. In this way, they can effectively identify and locate all phone users in a particular place. Some are small enough to fit into a briefcase, others are no larger than a mobile phone. Once deployed, the IMSI catcher tricks phones into wirelessly sending it data.

By setting up several IMSI catchers in an area and measuring the speed of the responses or “pings” from a phone, an analyst can follow the movement of anyone with a mobile phone even when they are not in use.

One of the key players in this field is the Melbourne, Florida-based Harris Corporation, which has been awarded almost $7 million in public contracts by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) since 2001, mostly for radio communication equipment. For years, the company has also designed software for the agency’s National Crime Information Center to track missing persons, fugitives, criminals, and stolen property.

Harris was recently revealed to have designed an IMSI catcher for the FBI that the company named “Stingray.” Court testimony by FBI agents has confirmed the existence of the devices dating back to at least 2002. Other companies like James Bimen Associates of Virginia have allegedly designed custom software to help the FBI hack into people’s computers, according to research by Chris Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The FBI has not denied this. The Bureau “hires people who have hacking skill, and they purchase tools that are capable of doing these things,” a former official in the FBI’s cyber division told the Wall Street Journal recently. “When you do, it’s because you don’t have any other choice.”

The technologies these kinds of companies exploit often rely on software vulnerabilities. Hacking software can be installed from a USB drive, or delivered remotely by disguising it as an email attachment or software update. Once in place, an analyst can rifle through a target’s files, log every keystroke, and take pictures of the screen every second. For example, SS8 of Milpitas, California, sells software called Intellego that claims to allow government agencies to “see what [the targets] see, in real time” including “draft-only emails, attached files, pictures, and videos.” Such technology can also remotely turn on phone and computer microphones, as well as computer or cellphone cameras to spy on the target in real-time.

Charting You

What the FBI does, however intrusive, is small potatoes compared to what the National Security Agency dreams of doing: getting and storing the data traffic not just of an entire nation, but of an entire planet. This became a tangible reality some two decades ago as the telecommunications industry began mass adoption of fiber-optic technology. This means that data is no longer transmitted as electrical signals along wires that were prone to interference and static, but as light beams.

Enter companies like Glimmerglass, yet another northern California outfit. In September 2002, Glimmerglass started to sell a newly patented product consisting of 210 tiny gold-coated mirrors mounted on microscopic hinges etched on to a single wafer of silicon. It can help transmit data as beams of light across the undersea fiber optic cables that carry an estimated 90 percent of trans-border telecommunications data. The advantage of this technology is that it is dirt cheap and—for the purposes of the intelligence agencies—the light beams can easily be copied with almost no noticeable loss in quality.

“With Glimmerglass Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS), any signal travelling over fiber can be redirected in milliseconds, without adversely affecting customer traffic,” says the company on its public website.

Glimmerglass does not deny that its equipment can be used by intelligence agencies to capture global Internet traffic. In fact, it assumes that this is probably happening. “We believe that our 3D MEMS technology—as used by governments and various agencies—is involved in the collection of intelligence from sensors, satellites, and undersea fiber systems,” Keith May, Glimmerglass’s director of business development, told the trade magazineAviation Week in 2010. “We are deployed in several countries that are using it for lawful interception.”

In a confidential brochure, Glimmerglass has a series of graphics that, it claims, show just what its software is capable of. One displays a visual grid of the Facebook messages of a presumably fictional “John Smith.” His profile is linked to a number of other individuals (identified with images, user names, and IDs) via arrows indicating how often he connected to each of them. A second graphic shows a grid of phone calls made by a single individual that allows an operator to select and listen to audio of any of his specific conversations. Yet others display Glimmerglass software being used to monitor webmail and instant message chats.

“The challenge of managing information has become the challenge of managing the light,” says an announcer in a company video on their public website. “With Glimmerglass, customers have full control of massive flows of intelligence from the moment they access them.”

This description mirrors technology described in documents provided by Edward Snowden to the Guardian newspaper.

Predicting You

Listening to phone calls, recording locations, and breaking into computers are just one part of the tool kit that the data-mining companies offer to U.S. (and other) intelligence agencies. Think of them as the data equivalents of oil and natural gas drilling companies that are ready to extract the underground riches that have been stashed over the years in strongboxes in our basements.

What government agencies really want, however, is not just the ability to mine, but to refine those riches into the data equivalent of high-octane fuel for their investigations in very much the way we organize our own data to conduct meaningful relationships, find restaurants, or discover new music on our phones and computers.

These technologies—variously called social network analysis or semantic analysis tools—are now being packaged by the surveillance industry as ways to expose potential threats that could come from surging online communities of protesters or anti-government activists. Take Raytheon, a major U.S. military manufacturer, which makes Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, Maverick air-to- ground missiles, Patriot surface-to-air missiles, and Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missiles. Their latest product is a software package eerily named “Riot” that claims to be able to predict where individuals are likely to go next using technology that mines data from social networks like Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter.

Raytheon’s Rapid Information Overlay Technology software—yes, that’s how they got the acronym Riot—extracts location data from photos and comments posted online by individuals and analyzes this information. The result is a variety of spider diagrams that purportedly will show where that individual is most likely to go next, what she likes to do, and whom she communicates with or is most likely to communicate with in the near future.

A 2010 video demonstration of the software was recently published online by the Guardian. In it, Brian Urch of Raytheon shows how Riot can be used to track “Nick”—a company employee—in order to predict the best time and place to steal his computer or put spy software on it. “Six a.m. appears to be the most frequently visited time at the gym,” says Urch. “So if you ever did want to try to get a hold of Nick—or maybe get a hold of his laptop—you might want to visit the gym at 6:00 a.m. on Monday.”

“Riot is a big data analytics system design we are working on with industry, national labs, and commercial partners to help turn massive amounts of data into useable information to help meet our nation’s rapidly changing security needs,” Jared Adams, a spokesman for Raytheon’s intelligence and information systems department, told the Guardian. The company denies that anyone has yet bought Riot, but U.S. government agencies certainly appear more than eager to purchase such tools.

For example, in January 2012 the FBI posted a request for an app that would allow it to “provide an automated search and scrape capability of social networks including Facebook and Twitter and [i]mmediately translate foreign language tweets into English.” In January 2013, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration asked contractors to propose apps “to generate an assessment of the risk to the aviation transportation system that may be posed by a specific individual” using “specific sources of current, accurate, and complete non-governmental data.”

Privacy activists say that the Riot package is troubling indeed. “This sort of software allows the government to surveil everyone,” Ginger McCall, the director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Open Government program, told NBC News. “It scoops up a bunch of information about totally innocent people. There seems to be no legitimate reason to get this.”

Refining fuel from underground deposits has allowed us to travel vast distances by buses, trains, cars, and planes for pleasure and profit but at an unintentional cost: the gradual warming of our planet. Likewise, the refining of our data into social apps for pleasure, profit, and government surveillance is also coming at a cost: the gradual erosion of our privacy and ultimately our freedom of speech.

Ever tried yelling back at a security camera? You know that it is on. You know someone is watching the footage, but it doesn’t respond to complaint, threats, or insults. Instead, it just watches you in a forbidding manner. Today, the surveillance state is so deeply enmeshed in our data devices that we don’t even scream back because technology companies have convinced us that we need to be connected to them to be happy.

With a lot of help from the surveillance industry, Big Bro has already won the fight to watch all of us all the time—unless we decide to do something about it.

Pratap Chatterjee, a TomDispatch regular, is executive director of CorpWatch and a board member of Amnesty International USA. He is the author of Halliburton’s Army(Nation Books) and Iraq, Inc. This article first appeared on TomDispatch. com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt.

Zliten had 17 schools before the revolution. Now it has four. Because Qaddafi’s forces stockpiled munitions inside them, NATO bombed the rest. Smashed buildings have not been replaced and some classes are now being held in shipping containers.

Education in the town is in crisis.  Some children must walk seven kilometres to lessons, while academic attainment has nose-dived.

Anger at their plight brought more than a hundred pupils and teachers to the prime minister’s office today, demanding that proper schools be provided as a matter of urgency.  If the government does not act quickly, both pupils and teachers are threatening to go on strike.

“There are thirteen damaged schools because of the war against the former regime ” local headmaster Hassan Mohamed Zaboob told the Libya Herald. The principal of Rebel Martyr School added “We had several meetings with the minister of education and some representatives from the government but nothing  has happened so far”.

Zaboob said that because there were only four functioning schools, classes also had to be held in the evenings and some were taught in containers. The overcrowding was compounded by a lack of washrooms and recreational facilities. Children were hard-pressed to do their homework, he said, and academic attainment levels had plunged by 50 percent.

Voodoo Economics

October 31st, 2013 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Is Paul Krugman a Voodoo Economist? Readers ask me if Paul Krugman could be correct that deficits don’t matter and that neither does printing endless reams of money with which to purchase the Treasury’s debt instruments that finance the deficits. 

If people at home and abroad who hold dollars and dollar denominated financial instruments do not care that trillions of new dollars are being created in order to cover the large gaps between revenues and expenditures in Washington’s annual budgets and to support “banks too big to fail,” that is, if these dollar holders do not see the value of their dollars diluted by the new dollars, which are appearing in greater quantities than new goods and services, Krugman is right.

The problem for Krugman is that the likelihood of such indifference goes against supply and demand.  Economists believe, including Krugman, that if supply increases faster than demand, price drops.  So, if there is anything at all to economics, an excess supply of dollars must cause the dollar’s value to drop.

A drop in the dollar’s value can occur in one of two ways. The way most people think of is via monetary inflation.  Too many dollars chasing too few goods drives up prices, and each dollar buys less and is thus devalued.  However, in our current situation, the excess dollars are in the banks.  As the banks are not lending, the excess dollars are not getting into the money supply or prices. The banks are keeping large reserves in order to meet demands that can arise from their uncovered derivative bets, and the banks are using some of the money that the Federal Reserve is making available to them to speculate on stock market futures, thus pushing stock prices to unrealistic levels.

The other way through which the dollar can lose value is via its exchange rate to other currencies.  Foreign holders of dollars, watching five years of dollar creation in order to finance federal budget deficits and seeing no end, can come to the conclusion that their dollar holdings are being diluted.  If they make this decision, they will decide to get out of dollars or to reduce their exposure to the US dollar.

When they sell dollars in the currency market, the value of the dollar in terms of other currencies will fall.  As the US is now an import-dependent country, domestic US prices will rise as a result of dollar devaluation in the currency market. The appearance of

domestic inflation on top of the dollar’s falling exchange value would, if economics is correct, cause a greater haste on the part of dollar holders to get out of dollars.

In other words, once it begins there is a downward spiral.

Apparently, Krugman believes that the dollar is so unique and so wonderful, like America, that its value cannot be harmed by abuse.

The question whether federal budget deficits matter or don’t matter is a different question.  It depends on the cause of the deficit.  Some readers have poked fun at Krugman and at me, saying that Krugman sounds like a voodoo supply-side economist

from the Reagan era claiming that “deficits don’t matter.”  In other words, Krugman and I are peas in a pod.

These comments illustrate the power of the presstitute media to instill misunderstanding. Here we are three decades after Reagan and vast numbers of literate Americans have no idea what Reaganomics was. 

Supply-side economics is not about deficits. Its novel feature is elucidation of the impact of fiscal policy on aggregate supply. For Keynesian demand-side economists, who dominated US economic policy until the Reagan era, fiscal policy can only impact aggregate demand.  If government gives people a tax cut, they spend more money and raise aggregate demand, thus boosting employment.  If people are hit with a tax hike,  they have less money to spend, and inflation falls.

What supply-side economists said is that some kinds of fiscal policy, such as changes in marginal tax rates (the tax rates on additions to income), change incentives and, therefore, increases or decreases aggregate supply.  (In Keynesian economics, supply is a passive responder to aggregate demand.)

Marginal tax rates are the rates that apply to additions to income. In a progressive income tax system, the rates rise with income.  Marginal tax rates determine the price of leisure in terms of income foregone by not working. Marginal tax rates also determine the price of current consumption in terms of future income foregone by not saving and investing the money.  The higher the tax rate on additions to income, the cheaper are leisure and current consumption in terms of foregone present and future income.  The lower the tax rate on additions to income, the more expensive are leisure and current consumption. In other words, high tax rates discourage labor supply, the supply of savings, and the growth of GDP.

Supply-side economics was an important contribution to economics.  In the 12th edition of his famous textbook, Paul Samuelson, the doyen of economics before his death, acknowledged the correctness of the supply-side point.

Are deficits important?  As I said, it depends on their cause.  The so-called “Reagan deficits” were really Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker’s deficits, because Volcker, mired in Keynesian thinking, could not understand the supply-side policy.  The Treasury met with Volcker regularly.  We tried to help Volcker understand the new policy, but Volcker could only think of tax cuts as a stimulus to demand, which was the way his economic advisory board also thought of tax cuts.

Consequently, Volcker viewed “Reaganomics” as wildly inflationary (the inflation rate was double-digit prior to Reagan).  He thought he would be blamed by Reagan for the higher inflation that Volcker thought would result from what Volcker mistook to be a Keynesian stimulus policy.  To protect himself and the Federal Reserve from blame, Volcker dramatically reduced the growth of the money supply prior to the tax cuts going into effect. Volcker reasoned that if the growth of the money supply was reduced, monetary policy could not be blamed for the inflation that he thought would be caused by Reagan’s fiscal policy.

The reduction in money growth caused a recession. As the OMB budget projection did not anticipate the sudden collapse of inflation, nominal GNP and thus tax revenues collapsed below projection.  This was the main cause of the “Reagan deficits.”

As the Reagan deficits resulted from the unanticipated collapse of inflation and thus nominal tax base, they were not a problem.  Deficits that result from inflation’s collapse cannot cause inflation or dollar devaluation in currency markets.

In the post-war US (post WW II), most federal budget deficits or the worst ones resulted from the Federal Reserve causing a recession in order to reduce the inflation that Keynesian demand management produced.  The high tax rates of the post-war era discouraged and reduced the response of supply to the stimulated aggregate demand.

Consequently, in place of output rises, prices rose.  This was the problem that supply-side economics addressed. The problem had worsened with time and became known as worsening “Phillips curve” trade-offs between inflation and employment. In the Carter years the problem was termed “stagflation” and the “malaise” of the American economy. It gave hope to the Soviet government that the US economy was also afflicted with troubles.

It would be interesting to know what Krugman’s response was to the “Reagan deficits.”

Like Robert Parry now into his fourth decade of his war against Reagan, Krugman does not like Reagan.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Krugman wrote that the “Reagan deficits” were the end of the world.  Krugman is a Democrat, not a Republican, so are Reagan’s deficits bad, but not Obama’s?  Other economists seem to have the same problem.

Perhaps I am being unfair to Krugman.  More likely, the truth is that Krugman, being an old-fashioned liberal, saw the income distribution aspects of high marginal tax rates as more important than the relative price or incentive aspects that affected inflation, employment, and economic growth. Krugman probably saw supply-side economics as threatening the arrangement of the income distribution without realizing that stagflation–the problem that supply-side economists addressed–was far more harmful to the working class than to the rich.

Krugman has a social conscience for which I respect him. I am confident that he would agree with me that economists who lack a social conscience do more harm than good.  In my opinion, for what it is worth, Krugman does not understand or realize the way in which jobs offshoring has changed the US economy, the position of US workers and employees, and the efficacy of economic policy.

As I have often explained, when US corporations pursue higher profits at the expense of US labor by offshoring the jobs that produce the goods and services that they sell to Americans, they separate the US labor force from the incomes associated with the production of the goods and services that they consume.  Eventually, this destroys the consumer market.  According to the Census Bureau, American median family income is 9% less than a dozen years ago. This means that what once was spending power of American consumers is now the paper wealth of the mega-rich.

Keynesian stimulus policy works when the jobs from which people have been laid off still exist. By boosting aggregate demand for goods and services, the stimulus puts people back to work.  But if the jobs have been moved offshore and the factories closed, the jobs no longer exist.  No stimulus policy can put the unemployed into jobs that no longer exist.

Krugman has not come to terms with this basic fact.  Nor have the majority of economists. Economists assumed that new and better jobs would take the place of the offshored ones. However, as I am forever pointing out, there is no sign of these jobs in the employment data.

Most economists believe that jobs offshoring is free trade and that free trade is beneficial, which simply demonstrates their confusion.  Jobs offshoring is based on the pursuit of absolute advantage, the antithesis of comparative advantage that is the basis of free trade.

As I have said before, many economists are bought and paid for.  I do not think that Krugman is one of the whores. In my opinion, Krugman, whatever his contribution to economics might be, simply does not understand how First World labor has been disadvantaged by Wall Street and US transnational corporations.  The upward redistribution of real income is not solely the result of reductions in tax rates. The larger impact results from the offshore relocation of labor to low wage countries and from the deregulation of the financial sector. Labor arbitrage has converted American wages into corporate profits.

In my opinion US marginal tax rates were appropriate where Reagan left them. Their further reduction by Bush/Cheney and Obama are not necessary policy adjustments but rewards to the mega-rich who underwrite political careers and provide grants to economics departments and think tanks.

Remembering Michael Mandel

October 31st, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

On October 27, Mandel died peacefully at home. He passed from cardiac amyloidosis. It’s a rare heart disease. It causes arrhythmias, heart blockage disturbances and death.

He died in his 67th year. He went much too soon. He was too good a man to lose. He’s badly missed.

He was seriously ill for months. He was a good friend. He was a valued guest on this writer’s Progressive Radio News Hour. Since earlier this year, he was too ill to return.

He’s survived by his wife Karen, children Max, Giulia, Lucy, Tevi and Orly, and sister Sharon Fuller.

For 39 years, he was Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Ontario.

He was its longest serving full-time professor. Though ill, he taught until last spring. He was determined to finish the term. He owed it to his students, he believed.

He taught criminal law, international criminal law, the law of war, constitutional law, and legal politics. His main scholarly interests included the law of war and international criminal law.

He taught at the University of Saskatchewan, McMaster University, and the University of Toronto.

He taught and lectured at several major Italian universities. They included Torino, Trento, Padova, Napoli, Calabria, and the European University Institute in Florence.

He ran the University of Bologna’s law student exchange program.

In 1998, he was Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law Visiting Professor.

He was a Lawyers Against the War founding member. It’s a volunteer organization against war. It calls for ending ongoing illegal ones. It’s “an international group of lawyers and others who:

  • support the use of national and international law to settle disputes, prosecute offenders, and protect human rights;
  • oppose the illegal use of force between states, in particular the illegal US-led use of force against Afghanistan and Iraq; and
  • support the rule of law and adherence to international law.”

It’s affiliated with:

  • Lawyers Against the War in the United Kingdom;
  • Lawyers for Peace in the Netherlands; and
  • Swedish-based Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF).

It urges other anti-war supporters to join them.

Mandel’s published works include:

Edward Herman called it “a perfect antidote to ‘humanitarian intervention.’ ” US wars reflect “law of the jungle” justice.

The business of America is lawless, aggressive, preemptive war. Direct and proxy ones persist against nonbelligerent states. America gets away with murder and then some. It does so with impunity.

Who’ll challenge the world’s only remaining superpower? Who’ll go up against hegemonic extremism? War on humanity continues.

Rogues, thugs and criminals run America. They make policy. They govern ruthlessly. They make mafia bosses look saintly by comparison.

Herman called Mandel’s book must reading “for those who want to understand how the United States is ignoring, using and reshaping international law to serve its imperial interests.”

He discussed Justice Robert’s Jackson’s “supreme crime” Nuremberg declaration. It’s more than ever relevant today. US belligerence is out-of-control. War on humanity continues.

Jackson said:

“To initiate a war of aggression…is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from the other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

The Nuremberg Tribunal defined crimes against peace as:

“(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (and)

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).”

After WW I, Kellogg-Briand (in 1928) renounced aggressive war. It prohibited its use as “an instrument of national policy.” It did so except in self-defense.

Sixty-three nations were signatories. They included America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Soviet Russia, and Japan.

The US Senate approved the treaty 85 – 1. Like Nuremberg, it’s binding international law. It’s automatically US law under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2).

Washington’s war machine hardly slowed. WW II followed. So did numerous direct and proxy wars when it ended. They persist globally. They’re responsible for millions of lost lives. Many more die daily.

US wars show no signs of ending. They represent today’s greatest threat. Peace is verboten.

Lawless, aggressive, preemptive wars against nonbelligerent states reflect the American way. It’s a national addiction. It defines what this country stands for.

Mandel challenged US/NATO aggression responsibly. He devoted his time and energy to supporting right over wrong. He wrote his own obituary.

He wants to be remembered as an educator of lawyers, a proud father, a lifelong musician, and “radical left-wing activist” in the best sense of its meaning.

He taught at least 4,000 lawyers. “At first, a mere 26 years old, (he) found his students intimidating, but, gradually, (he) grew to love them and found real joy in teaching, a feeling most students seemed to reciprocate,” he said.

His wife Karen said “(h)e had a sense of the things that were important to him.”

Osgoode Hall Law School dean Lorne Sossin was one of his students. “He’s been an extraordinary mentor, dedicated to so many students over the years,” Sossin said.

“As a student, I remember that energy in the classroom as he would provoke students to express views, to figure out what they were about, and he (was) very honest about his (views).”

“But when it came to assessing your work, he measured it by how effective each student was, not by whether they agreed with him.”

He helped shape Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms debates. He feared they would overly politicize courts.

His later anti-war activism mattered most. He led an international legal effort against NATO leaders.

He wanted them indicted for 1999 Yugoslavia war crimes. He was vocally outspoken against post-9/11 wars. He condemned imperial lawlessness.

At a 2002 anti-Iraq war rally, he called Bush administration officials  ”a bunch of thugs in the White House.”

At a 2004 Ottawa anti-Bush rally, he called him “a homicidal maniac.”

On October 7, US forces lawlessly attacked Afghanistan. War continues without end. It’s America’s longest war. It’s longer than WW I and II combined.

On October 9, Mandel headlined ”This War is Illegal,” saying:

“A well-kept secret about the US-UK attack on Afghanistan is that it is clearly illegal.”

“It violates international law and the express words of the United Nations Charter.”

No country may attack another except in self-defense. It may only do so until the Security Council acts. It has final say.

The Council passed two resolutions condemning the 9/11, said Mandel. “Neither resolution can remotely be said to authorize the use of military force.”

“(T)he right of unilateral self-defense does not include the right to retaliate once an attack has stopped.”

It prohibits doing so against a nonbelligerent country. Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11.

“Since the United States and Britain have undertaken this attack without the explicit authorization of the Security Council, those who die from it will be victims of a crime against humanity, just like the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks,” said Mandel.

“Even the Security Council is only permitted to authorize the use of force where necessary to maintain and restore international peace and security.”

Attacking Afghanistan (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen, etc.) have nothing to with preventing terrorism. Aggressive wars provoke it.

“For all that changed since Sept. 11, one thing that has not changed is (America’s) disregard for international law,” Mandel explained.

US contempt for rule of law principles is longstanding. It’s more than ever so today. All US wars are illegal.

“We are all at risk,” said Mandel. He understood to his last breath. He called attacking Afghanistan “the beginning of a headlong plunge into a violent, lawless world.”

He dedicated himself to challenging it responsibly. He did so until illness left him bed ridden.

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of Canadian lawyers. It’s dedicated to promoting human rights and rule of law principles.

It supports endangered human rights defenders worldwide. It works cooperatively with other human rights organizations.

According to LRWC founder Gail Davidson:

“Those of us who practice law in safe environments such as Canada owe a duty to those who risk not only their freedom but also their lives in order to protect their clients’ rights.”

Davidson called Mandel “irreplaceable. (T)here’s nobody in Canada that I can think of who is of (his) stature that is always willing to speak up on behalf of peace and against war and the illegal use of force.’ ”

“(H)e mentored and inspired a lot of people in the peace movement in Canada.”

His other passion was music. He trained as an opera tenor in Italy. His father, Max, had a Toronto Yiddish radio show. He learned his father’s Yiddish songs.

He spent his last few years researching information about Yiddish radio culture. His wife Karen called it “a labor of love.” He passed it on to his children. His son Max is an accomplished violinist.

Ed Corrigan emailed this message:

“The Canadian Jewish community, Independent Jewish Voices, and Canadian Legal Community lost a great critical thinker and friend.”

In the 1980s, Corrigan worked with Mandel. He maintained contact with him. “He was a friend of mine,” he said.

“He was a great friend of the Palestinians. His idealism and critical legal thinking hopefully has been passed on to his many students.”

A Personal Note

On October 19, Michael and I last exchanged emails. Earlier he explained he was on borrowed time. He could go any time. He hung on weeks longer than expected.

It wasn’t easy. He needed lots of help from loved ones and medical providers. His family expressed gratitude for the extraordinary care they gave.

Those involved included Drs. John Janevski, James Downar, Herbert Ho Ping Kong, Rodney Falk, and Harry Rakowski, Nurse Practitioner Helen Pappas, C-Care Nurse Regine Maranion, and many others too numerous to mention.

Michael’s funeral was on October 28. He’s interred at Dawes Road Cemetery, Toronto. Judaic tradition includes shiva. It’s a week-long mourning period. It begins immediately after burial.

The ritual is called a “sitting shiva.” Family and friends pay tribute. It continues for Michael through Sunday morning, November 3.

His last email mentioned good news and bad. “I’m in decline,” he said. “I’m relying more and more on painkillers than before.”

“The good news is that I was stable enough (for) a pared-down Bar Mitzvah for my son at our house. It was today (Saturday). It was originally scheduled two years earlier.”

Michael wasn’t religious. At the same time, he “loved participating in the old Jewish traditions.”

“We worked like dogs to get it done,” he said, “and the day was a complete miracle, with my son conquering all the tasks assigned him, lots of music from my musical family, and food and drink and friends and relations.”

“My 99-year-old uncle blessed the challah. I got out of my pajamas, wires and pumps, dressed up, and had a day off from my illness.”

“Now I’m back in them, but I feel that we accomplished something. We had cancelled the whole thing, then rescheduled this version.”

“My son, indeed everybody, was very happy. They could do it with me around.”

“I don’t know where that leaves things, but, like somebody said about the French Revolution – it’s too early to assess its effects!”

“Be well!

Michael”

He was one of the best. He’s gone to his just reward. His spirit remains. He leaves a huge void to fill. Hopefully thousands of lawyers he trained and many others he inspired are up to the task.

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

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/remembering-michael-mandel/

Two Years Since the End of the US-NATO War in Libya

October 31st, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

Today, October 31, 2013, marks two years since the official end of the US-NATO war for regime change in Libya. It is highly unlikely that this second anniversary will be marked with any fanfare in Washington, the capitals of Western Europe or Libya itself.

The nearly eight-month-long war achieved its goal of toppling the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, whose murder by a mob of NATO-backed “rebels” prompted President Barack Obama to proclaim from the White House Rose Garden that this grisly event signaled the advent of “a new and democratic Libya.”

Two years later, there is no sign of any such Libya. The country bombarded by the US military and its European allies is in an advanced state of disintegration. It was reported Monday that oil production, which is responsible for virtually all of the country’s export earnings and over half of its gross domestic product, has fallen to 90,000 barrels per day, less than a tenth of the pre-war level.

Major installations have been seized by armed militias. In eastern Libya, these militias advocate the country’s partition into the three regional governorates—Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan—maintained under the colonial regime of fascist Italy.

According to best estimates, there are nearly one-quarter of a million militiamen who are armed and paid by the Libyan government but operate with complete impunity under the direction of Islamist and regional warlords. The warlords constitute the principal power in the country.

Clashes between these militias, attacks on the government, and assassinations of its officials are routine. Earlier this month, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was himself abducted by an Islamist militia that acted in protest over the October 5 abduction of alleged Al Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Liby by US Special Operations troops.

Thousands of Libyans as well as sub-Saharan African migrant workers are being held incommunicado in makeshift prisons controlled by the militias, subjected to torture and killings.

Conditions for the masses of the oil-rich nation remain abysmal, with a real unemployment rate estimated at over 30 percent. One million people, many of them supporters of the former regime, remain internally displaced.

The continuation of this chaos two years after the end of the war reflects the character of the war itself.

The US and its principal NATO allies, Britain and France, launched the war on the pretense that it was a humanitarian intervention, designed only to protect innocent lives. Based on unsubstantiated claims that a government massacre of a rebellious population in the eastern city of Benghazi was imminent without immediate intervention, the NATO powers pushed Resolution 1973 through the United Nations Security Council, authorizing them to impose a no-fly zone and “take all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

This served as the pseudo-legal fig leaf for an imperialist war of aggression that killed an estimated 50,000 Libyan civilians and wounded at least that number. This war was patently not about saving lives. Rather, it was a war of neocolonial plunder, its principal objective being to topple the Gaddafi regime and impose a more pliant puppet in its place.

Washington and its allies instigated the war in large measure as a strategic response to the outbreak of mass uprisings by the working class against Western-backed regimes in Tunisia, on Libya’s western border, and Egypt, on its eastern border. The aim was to halt the spread of revolution and reassert US and Western European hegemony in the region, while supplanting the economic and political influence of China and Russia and seizing a more direct hold on Libya’s energy reserves.

Of great significance is the fact that the attempt of the imperialist powers to mask the war’s neocolonial character was assisted by a whole layer of pseudo-left forces in both Europe and the US.

These elements, including groups such as the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) in France, the Socialist Workers Party in Britain and the International Socialist Organization in the US, cast the imperialist war against Libya as not merely a “humanitarian” intervention, but a “revolution” by the Libyans themselves.

These elements remain silent on the present-day state of Libya, and for good reason. The country’s disintegration into fiefdoms of rival militia warlords, the paralysis of its economy, and the poverty of its people are all proof that what they supported in Libya in 2011 was not a “revolution,” but an imperialist rape.

The regime that was placed in power enjoys no authority, precisely because it owes its office not to a popular revolutionary uprising, but to a sustained US-NATO bombing campaign, supplemented by the operations of Islamist militia forces, many of them connected to Al Qaeda, which served under the direction of US, British, French and Qatari special forces operatives as NATO’s ground troops.

Two years after the war in Libya, this same pseudo-left layer has continued to promote the imperialist intervention for regime-change in Syria—once again celebrating the machinations of the CIA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, together with the sectarian atrocities committed by Al Qaeda-led militias, as a “revolution.”

These groups use these wars to cement even closer connections to their own governments and ruling elites. Their politics—indistinguishable in all essentials from those of the CIA and the Obama administration—reflect the interests of a privileged upper-middle class layer that has become a new constituency for imperialism.

While the US-NATO war succeeded in toppling and murdering Gaddafi and reducing much of Libya to rubble, the imperialist aims of plundering the country’s oil wealth and turning it into a platform for US hegemony in the region are far from realized.

Reflecting deep concerns within US ruling circles and Washington’s intelligence agencies, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote last week that Libya represented “a case study of why America’s influence has receded in the Middle East.” He indicted the Obama administration for having failed to take “steps over the past two years [that] might have limited the country’s descent toward anarchy.”

Meanwhile, two years after the withdrawal of American troops, Iraq is descending into civil war, with casualties approaching the record levels reached during the US occupation. In Syria, the Obama administration found itself compelled to retreat from the direct use of US military force in the face of overwhelming popular opposition both at home and abroad, driven by the immense hostility to the previous wars waged, in the interests of the financial oligarchy, on the basis of lies.

While this crisis has interfered with Washington’s timetable for war in Syria, in the final analysis, it makes even more catastrophic conflagrations not less, but more likely. This threat must be answered through the building of a new mass antiwar movement, based on the working class and directed against the capitalist profit system, the source of war and militarism.

Dick Cheney’s Toronto Visit Prompts Calls For Torture Arrest

October 31st, 2013 by Global Research News

By Michael Bolen

In letters to Toronto Chief of Police Bill Blair, Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen and to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several cabinet ministers, Lawyers Against The War argues the former U.S. vice president should be arrested “as a person suspected on reasonable grounds of authorizing, counseling, aiding, abetting and failing to prevent torture.”

The group contends that Cheney could be arrested either under the Criminal Code of Canada or because Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

Cheney will be in Canada Thursday to speak at the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by The International Economic Forum of The Americas. The event’s theme is “Globalisation At A Crossroads” and Cheney is scheduled to speak about “Energy Security and Evolving Geopolitical Realities in the 21st Century.” Several Conservative cabinet ministers will also be speaking at the conference, including Treasury Board President Tony Clement and Minister of International Trade Ed Fast.

A protest organized by a number of anti-war groups is planned for the morning. The Facebook group for the event says several hundred people have committed to attend.

The war crimes allegations against Cheney stem from his role in the War on Terror, specifically the extraordinary rendition program and United States’ use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is spying on hundreds of millions of users of Google and Yahoo services, according to a report yesterday in the Washington Post based on internal documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The NSA has broken into the main communication links connecting Yahoo and Google data servers worldwide. In a program codenamed “MUSCULAR,” operated jointly with Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the agencies collect and monitor all communications—involving US and non-US citizens alike—between these servers.

Because the data culling is indiscriminate, the NSA refers to it as “full take,” “bulk access” and “high-volume.” After the communications are collected, they are searched based on undisclosed criteria, with much of it sent on to permanent locations run by the NSA.

The report shatters claims by the Obama administration and American legislators that US agencies respect privacy rights and operate under strict legal oversight. Testimony by spy agency chiefs before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, aimed at defusing the diplomatic crisis over the exposure of US spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of millions of phone and SMS communications in Europe, consisted of disinformation and lies.

A top secret NSA document shows that in the one-month period ending January 9, 2013 the MUSCULAR program sent back more than 181 million new records for storage at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. These records include both “metadata” information—such as the identity or location of the sender and receiver of messages—and the content of text, audio and video communications.

Google and Yahoo operate massive data centers around the world, backing up user information in multiple continents in order to prevent accidental data loss or system shutdowns. They also send backups of entire archives—containing years of e-mails and attachments—between various servers, which the NSA collects in bulk. NSA documents state that this allows the agency not only to intercept communications in real time, but also to take “a retrospective look at target activity.”

Google engineers speaking anonymously to the Post “exploded into profanity” when journalists showed them NSA diagrams of “Google Cloud Exploitation,” revealing how the NSA has broken Google’s encryption schemes.

“The very clear objective of the NSA is not just to collect all this, but to keep it for as long as they can,” journalist Glenn Greenwald told the Spanish daily El Mundo. “So they can at any time target a particular citizen of Spain or anywhere else and learn what they’ve been doing, in terms of who they have been communicating with.”

NSA officials contacted by the Post and by Politico refused to deny the Postreport or explain the specifics of the MUSCULAR program. An NSA spokeswoman told Politico, “NSA is a foreign intelligence agency. And we’re focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only.”

The claims of the NSA have no credibility, however. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court documents show that US spy agencies have already collected massive amounts of US citizens’ data and lied about it in court. (See: “FISA records document “daily violations” by government spy agencies”).

Google and Yahoo officials, who already hand over user data to the US government under the NSA’s PRISM program, said they were unaware of this further NSA infiltration of their data centers. Google released a statement declaring that it was “troubled by allegations of government intercepting traffic between our data centers, and we are not aware of this activity.”

This report is yet another indication of how the US military-intelligence complex has developed through criminal means the surveillance infrastructure of a global police state.

The vast scope of the operations and their targeting of European heads of state have exposed as lies the claims that these programs are designed to fight Al Qaeda as part of a “war on terror.” They target anyone seen as a potential threat to the strategic interests of the American ruling class, including not only European governments, but, above all, the populations of the United States, Europe and the world.

This activity has been carried out for years in brazen violation of US law, as even the FISA court, a secret court operating with no public accountability or oversight, has ruled. In 2011, when it discovered that similar methods were being used on a smaller scale to spy on data streams inside the US, FISA Court Judge John D. Bates ruled that the program was “inconsistent” with the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.

The US government’s attempts to reassure the public about the programs have consisted of staged disinformation sessions. Wednesday’s hearing featured a carefully worded Joint Statement for the Record issued by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander and Deputy Attorney General James Cole.

The statement insisted that media reports about intelligence collection under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were “inaccurate.” In the spying carried out under Section 215, they insisted, the spy agencies “do not collect the content of any telephone calls or any information identifying the callers, nor do we collect cell phone locational information.” The Section 702 spying, it explained “targets only non-US persons overseas.”

None of these claims refute reports that Washington is engaged in massive spying against US and overseas targets. Assuming that these statements were not bald-faced lies, they would simply mean that the spies use other pseudo-legal justifications for recording telephone calls and spying on US citizens.

In the case of the bulk seizure of Google and Yahoo data, the NSA has exploited the fact that the computer centers in question are located outside of the United States, with regulations falling not under FISA, but under an executive order. The data in question, however, is the same as that located in the companies’ US centers.

“Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States,” the Post writes, “but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner.”

Despite the obvious evasions and lies of the intelligence officials, the congressmen fawned on the spy chiefs on Wednesday. Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger said he wanted to “thank the people of the intelligence community” and added: “NSA does not target Americans in the US and does not target Americans anywhere else, without a court order.”

As the Post revelations make clear, Ruppersberger’s claims are false and the entire hearing was a sham designed to mislead the public.

You could be forgiven for thinking everyone packed up shop a while ago and forgot to inform you. There’s been barely a peep about it since the revival of talks was greeted with great fanfare back in July. The negotiations, which have been conducted in a fug of secrecy, flitted briefly back on to the radar last week when the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, met Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what the media called an “unusually long”, seven-hour meeting in Rome.

Much of the conversation was held in private, with not even officials present, but, according to reports, discussions concentrated on the revived peace process. Kerry, concerned about the lack of tangible progress, is believed to have tried to pin Netanyahu down on his vision of where the nine-month negotiations should lead. Kerry’s intervention follows weeks of mounting Palestinian frustration, culminating in rumours that the talks are on the verge of collapse. After a meeting with Kerry in Paris, an Arab League official, Nasif Hata, added to the desultory atmosphere, saying there were “no positive indications of progress”. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, on a tour of European capitals last week in search of diplomatic support, tried to scotch suggestions that the talks were at a “dead end”.

They were “difficult”, he admitted, and after nearly three months of meetings the two sides were still “at the beginning of the road”. But privately his officials have expressed exasperation at Israel’s inflexibility and the miserliness of its opening positions. Earlier this month the Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Israel had refused to discuss the key issue of borders, instead focusing exclusively on its own security concerns.None of this is surprising. At Israel’s insistence, the talks have been entirely shielded from public view. Privacy, Israel argued, would ease the pressure on the two parties and give them greater room to be forthcoming and creative.

The reality, however, is that the lack of scrutiny has allowed Israel to drag its feet and browbeat the weaker, Palestinian side. Israel’s lead negotiator, Tzipi Livni, has already warned that the talks’ timetable is likely to overrun. Similarly, US envoy Martin Indyk was supposed to be Kerry’s eyes and ears in the talks. Instead he spent the first two months locked out of the proceedings, apparently again at Israel’s instigation. Secrecy, Israel hopes, will give it the cover it expects to need when – as seems certain – the talks end inconclusively, or the Palestinians storm out. Widespread ignorance about developments can be exploited to cast the Palestinians as the treacherous party, as occurred following the collapse of the Camp David talks in 2000. But belatedly we are seeing a little of the leadership role Washington promised. Indyk is said to be now actively involved. The rate of meetings between the negotiators has been stepped up sharply in the past fortnight. And last week’s meeting in Rome suggested that the US hopes to pressure Netanyahu either into making a big concession or into beginning the face-to-face talks with Abbas that this process is supposed eventually to lead to. According to Hata, of the Arab League, the US has also promised that it will “take action” if there is no breakthrough by January, presenting “viable suggestions for ways to end the thaw”.

But whatever Netanyahu has told Kerry in private, few believe the Israeli prime minister is really ready to seek peace. Earlier this month he set out in public his vision for the talks, in a follow-up to his famous speech in 2009, when, faced with a newly installed US president, Barack Obama, he agreed to a two-state solution. This time, speaking from the same podium, he sounded in no mood for conciliation. “Unless the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and give up on the right of return there will not be peace,” he said. He denied the “occupation and settlements” were causes of the conflict, and insisted on Israel’s need for “extremely strong security arrangements”.

It is this kind of uncompromising talk that has discredited the negotiations with everyone outside the White House. Last week Yuval Diskin, a recent head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, warned that there was no realistic prospect that “the Israeli public will accept a peace agreement”. Israelis’ distrust of the negotiations is fuelled by the constant opposition of government ministers.

In a further show of dissension, they have backed a bill that would require a two-thirds parliamentary majority before Israel can even broach at the talks the key issue of dividing Jerusalem. If passed, the legislation would turn the negotiations into a dead letter. On the other side, Hamas has grown emboldened. Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister in Gaza, has called on Palestinians to renew a “popular uprising”, just as a 1.5km-long underground tunnel Hamas had built into Israel was exposed. In the West Bank, a spate of attacks and killings of Israelis over the past few weeks – after a year without the loss of a single Israeli life from the conflict in 2012 – has provoked much speculation in Israel about whether a Palestinian uprising is imminent.

A Palestinian driving a bulldozer who recently rampaged through a military base near Jerusalem only reinforced the impression. Conveniently, Netanyahu has exploited widespread Israeli opposition to the next round of Palestinian prisoner releases this week – the carrot to keep the Palestinians at the negotiating table – to justify plans for an orgy of settlement building. This time the government has committed to building 5,000 settler homes in return for the release of 25 prisoners jailed before the Oslo accords were signed two decades ago. All indications are that these talks, like their predecessors, are doomed to fail. The question is whether the Palestinians have the nerve to unmask the charade. If not, Israel will use the peace process as cover while its settlements devour yet more of the Palestinian state-in-waiting.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books).  His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi.

No one would be surprised these days to open a newspaper to read: Violence in Syria has risen dramatically since the spring of 2011, when a mostly Sunni and primarily peaceful protest movement against the Alawite-dominated government in Damascus drew a violent response from regime forces.

But would they be surprised to read the same sentence, with Shiite replacing Alawite, and Baghdad in place of Damascus?

Probably.

Yet much the same sentence appeared in the Wall Street Journal on October 24. Reporters Matt Bradley and Ali A. Nabhan wrote that, “Violence (in Iraq’s Anbar province) has risen dramatically since the spring, when a mostly Sunni and primarily peaceful protest movement against the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad drew a violent response from security forces.”

Anbar borders Syria.

The Western narrative on Syria is that a government dominated by one religious group used violence to quell a largely peaceful protest movement of another, triggering an armed rebellion. Just like Anbar.

The government’s actions, and the uprising that followed, were labelled a problem by Western news media and governments—a problem to be resolved by removing a president who is “killing his own people” (and who also, just happens, to refuse to play along with Washington’s economic and foreign policy agenda.) Not like Anbar.

Hence, while two very similar situations exit side-by-side, they have been met by completely different reactions in the West, not only on the part of governments, but also the news media, and a certain faction of leftists that mistake reaction for revolution.

The Western news media have been virtually silent on Maliki’s cracking down violently on a mostly Sunni and primarily peaceful protest movement, yet fevered and voluble in its coverage of the Syrian insurgency, and was, even in the uprising’s early days. Practically everyone knows about Syria. How many know about Anbar?

Western governments have designated Syrian president Bashar al-Assad a pariah, but haven’t demonized Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, have refused to denounce him as a brute who kills his own people, and haven’t told him he has lost his legitimacy, and must step down, as Assad has been told.

And yet as the Washington Post’s Liz Sly noted on 8 February,

The grievances [against Maliki]…are real, as was articulated last week in a Human Rights Watch report condemning the “draconian” measures used by the Maliki government to curtail its opponents. The report cited widespread allegations of abuse within the criminal justice system including torture, the rape of female prisoners and arbitrary arrests, as well as the successful suppression of an earlier attempt to organize Arab Spring-style demonstrations in Baghdad and elsewhere in 2011 (“Arab Spring-style protests take hold in Iraq”).

While some leftists in the West have embraced the Syrian insurgency as if it were a modern day October Revolution in embryo, they have not rallied to the cause of the Anbar insurgents. Probably because they’ve never heard of them, and maybe because the Western news media have yet to invent a faction of moderate (i.e., ‘good’) rebels that the kind souls of the left can embrace. The field, instead, is dominated by the same al-Qaeda-linked Islamists who lead Syria’s insurgency.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Anbar fighters “flow fluidly back and forth across the Iraq-Syria border, staging attacks on both sides…” These are the same fighters the US occupation army battled in Iraq during the surge of 2007. Of course, back then, they were called “terrorists”, and were considered “legitimate” targets in a war on terror.

Funny, “terrorists” is what the Syrian government calls them today, when they set off car bombs, execute captives, eviscerate bodies, and saw off heads, on the Syrian side of the border. All the same, this is considered illegitimate terminology by Western governments, who prefer that terrorists who work on their side be called rebels, freedom fighters, or part of a popular, democratic, uprising.

Maliki, the prime minister who wields violence to crush largely peaceful protest movements, remains Washington’s man in Baghdad. As a consequence, he need not worry about getting the Assad-treatment…for now. Just as Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi was in reality the monster Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe is made out to be by Western governments and news media, Meles escaped sanction and demonization from the West, and was lionized when he died last year, because he did the West’s bidding. Mugabe is more interested in his country’s independence from the West—hence, the sullying of his name in Western capitals and newsrooms.

It didn’t matter how many people Meles locked up, killed and tortured, he remained the model statesman in Western eyes, as Maliki may, so long as he doesn’t develop too much of an independent streak. Assad, the president who says “Syria is an independent state working for the interests of its people, rather than making the Syrian people work for the interests of the West,” is, however, quite another matter.

 Argues Spying Okay As Long As Government Doesn’t Get Caught

The chair of the House Intelligence Committee – Mike Rogers – said yesterday in an NSA spying hearing which he led that there is no right to privacy in America.

Constitutional expert Stephen I. Vladeck – Professor of Law and the Associate Dean for Scholarship at American University Washington College of Law – disagreed.

Here’s the exchange:

Rogers: I would argue the fact that we haven’t had any complaints come forward with any specificity arguing that their privacy has been violated, clearly indicates, in ten years, clearly indicates that something must be doing right. Somebody must be doing something exactly right.

Vladeck: But who would be complaining?

Rogers: Somebody who’s privacy was violated. You can’t have your privacy violated if you don’t know your privacy is violated.

Vladeck: I disagree with that. If a tree falls in the forest, it makes a noise whether you’re there to see it or not.

Rogers: Well that’s a new interesting standard in the law. We’re going to have this conversation… but we’re going to have wine, because that’s going to get a lot more interesting…

What Rogers is really saying is that the government has the right to spy on everyone so long as it doesn’t get caught doing so.

How’s that different from arguing that it’s okay for a thief to takes $100 from your bank account as long as you don’t notice that the money is missing? Or that it’s okay to rape a woman while she’s passed out so long as she doesn’t realize what happened?

That’s beyond ridiculous.

It flies in the face of more than 200 years of American law. In fact, experts say that the NSA spying program is wildly illegal, and is exactly the kind of thing which King George imposed on the American colonists … which led to the Revolutionary War.

 Figures released by the Government of Pakistan today regarding the number of civilian deaths caused by drone strikes are shown to be inaccurate by a report provided to the courts by Pakistan’s authorities earlier this year, it has emerged.

A report submitted to the Peshawar High Court in early 2013 by the Political Agents of North Waziristan – the central Government’s representative in the region – stated that 896 Pakistani civilians had been killed in drone strikes in the area in the last five years.  The court also found that a further 553 civilians were killed in South Waziristan over the same period.  However, according to the Associated Press, the Ministry of Defense today claimed that just 67 civilians have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan since 2008, and none at all in 2012 or 2013.

The claim of no civilian casualties at all in 2012 is especially problematic, as the relatives of a 67-year-old grandmother killed in an October 2012 drone strike yesterday testified before the US Congress.  Rafiq ur Rehman, a primary school teacher from North Waziristan, told members of Congress how his mother, Mammana Bibi, was killed in the strike, which also injured two of his children who testified with him at the briefing:  Zubair (13) and Nabila (9). There are several other strikes in 2012 which killed civilians and have been widely reported by independent sources: two such strikes were in July 2012, where rescue workers were targeted, killing more than 20 civilians.

These strikes were also profiled in a recent report by human rights organisation Amnesty International.

The claims of no civilian casualties resulting from drone strikes over the course of two years are also reminiscent of CIA Director (and then-counter-terrorism adviser) John Brennan’s 2011 claim that “there hasn’t been a single collateral death” due to the drone programme – a claim which a USAF Colonel with drone expertise said “does not sound to me like reality,” and which President Obama was subsequently forced to abandon.

Today, members of Senate in Pakistan rejected the figures submitted by the government and asked the minister concerned to withdraw his answer in order to verify them; after which the Opposition walked out of the Senate in protest.

Commenting, Shahzad Akbar, Fellow of human rights charity Reprieve and a lawyer for civilian victims of drone strikes including the Rehman family, said: “The latest figures from the Pakistani Government are clearly wrong and the Federal Minister is lying to Parliament.  It is absurd to suggest there has not been a single civilian casualty for two years, especially when some of those victims just yesterday gave evidence to the US Congress. They are also undermined by the far higher figures the Government provided to the Peshawar High Court earlier this year.  The Government needs to correct its mistake, and apologise to my clients, the Rehman family, for the shameful way in which they have ignored their suffering.   It is also interesting to note that a Pakistani minister is giving such a statement after the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the US, where the United States released over $ 1 billion to Pakistan.”

Notes

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 7791 755 415 / [email protected]

2. The Pakistani Government’s figures on drone strikes have been reported by the Associated Press: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/pakistan-percent-drone-deaths-civilians-20725123

3. The 2013 Peshawar High Court judgement on drones can be found here – see p4 for numbers of civilian casualties: http://www.peshawarhighcourt.gov.pk/images/wp%201551-p%2020212.pdf

4. John Brennan’s comments on civilian casualties from drones can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/12/world/asia/12drones.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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Radioactivity levels in a well near a storage tank at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan have risen immensely on Thursday, the plant’s operator has reported.

Officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said on Friday they detected 400,000 becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances – including strontium – at the site, a level 6,500 times higher than readings taken on Wednesday, NHK World reported.

The storage tank leaked over 300 tons of contaminated water in August, some of which is believed to have found its way into the sea through a ditch.

The well in question is about 10 meters from the tank and was dug to gauge leakage.

TEPCO said the findings show that radioactive substances like strontium have reached the groundwater. High levels of tritium, which transfers much easier in water than strontium, had already been detected.

Officials at TEPCO said they will remove any contaminated soil around the storage tank in an effort to monitor radioactivity levels of the water around the well.

The news comes after it has been reported a powerful typhoon which swept through Japan led to highly radioactive water near the crippled nuclear power plant being released into a nearby drainage ditch, increasing the risk of it flowing into the sea.

On Wednesday TEPCO said it had detected high levels of radiation in a ditch leading to the Pacific Ocean, and that it suspected heavy rains had lifted contaminated soil.

‘Decades-long problems being faced at Fukushima’

Robert Jacobs, a professor at Hiroshima Peace University, told RT the compounding problems at Fukushima Daiichi underscore one critical reality: no one really knows what to do.

“Nobody really knows how to solve the problems at Fukushima. There is nobody who has solutions. The problems at Fukushima are unprecedented, so even bringing in outside expertise, all that they can try to do is problem solve. There is no solution that other countries have that they can come in and fix the reactors, or rather, shut down the contamination, shut down the leaks.”

Experts believe that even a small earthquake could lead to more serious nuclear damage in the area.

“They have a thousand tanks that are held together with a plastic pipe, so if there is a moderate earthquake the plastic pipes will fail and all that material will run across the ground surface and into the ocean,” nuclear power expert Arnold Gundersen told RT.

“Facilities themselves, the four reactors that are the most damaged had a series of explosions internally, so it would not take an earthquake as big as the one they had two and a half years ago to potentially do a lot of serious damage there.”

He added that the health risks are great and continue to increase every year. “Somewhere between 100,000 to 1,000,000 [people] will over the next thirty years get cancer from this accident…1,000 additional cancers a year from eating fish from the Pacific.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s open request for advanced knowledge from overseas is a welcome step, as this will bring a higher degree of professionalism than Tepco has demonstrated since the crisis first erupted, Jacobs says. But even though, those experts will be at a loss to solve the immense problems they’ll be facing for decades at Fukushima.

Even in the one area where Japan could potentially help contain the disaster, the authorities have wavered, Konstantin Simonov from the Moscow-based Fund for Energy Security told RT.

“Fukushima should be treated just like Chernobyl – as a wreck that must be retired and put in a sarcophagus, with radioactive waste slowly and thoroughly utilized. Why does the problem persist at Fukushima? Because they can’t decide whether they want to close it or to keep it going.”

Tokyo Electric Power Company in fact seems reluctant to shut down Fukushima for good. Tepco is in fact pushing to reopen its Kashiwazaki Kariwa facility – the world’s largest nuclear power station – which itself was shut down in 2007 following reports of radioactive leaks in the wake of an earthquake.

In September, Japan announced its only operating nuclear reactor had been closed for maintenance, leaving the country with no nuclear power supply for only the second time in four decades.

Atomic power accounted for 30 percent of Japan’s energy needs prior to the Fukushima disaster, and the country was forced to increase fossil fuel imports to make up for the deficit.

As a result, Japan become the world’s largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), prompting the world’s third-largest-economy to post its first trade deficit since the second oil shock 31 years ago.

Under these circumstances, the crisis gripping Fukushima will not be the only factor in deciding the fate of the country’s nuclear industry.

The Global Economic Crisis:
The Great Depression of the XXI Century
Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors)

This important collection provides the reader with “a most comprehensive analysis of the various facets – especially the financial, social and military ramifications – from an outstanding list of world-class social thinkers.”

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

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

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

Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century
Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, Editors

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HIGHLIGHTS

We bring to the attention of our readers some of the highlights of this important collection with selected excerpts from the various chapters.

PREFACE

In all major regions of the world, the economic recession is deep-seated, resulting in mass unemployment, the collapse of state social programs and the impoverishment of millions of people. The economic crisis is accompanied by a worldwide process of militarization, a “war without borders” led by the United States of America and its NATO allies. The conduct of the Pentagon’s “long war” is intimately related to the restructuring of the global economy.

The meltdown of financial markets in 2008-2009 was the result of institutionalized fraud and financial manipulation. The “bank bailouts” were implemented on the instructions of Wall Street, leading to the largest transfer of money wealth in recorded history, while simultaneously creating an insurmountable public debt.

With the worldwide deterioration of living standards and plummeting consumer spending, the entire structure of international commodity trade is potentially in jeopardy. The payments system of money transactions is in disarray. Following the collapse of employment, the payment of wages is disrupted, which in turn triggers a downfall in expenditures on necessary consumer goods and services. This dramatic plunge in purchasing power backfires on the productive system, resulting in a string of layoffs, plant closures and bankruptcies. Exacerbated by the freeze on credit, the decline in consumer demand contributes to the demobilization of human and material resources.
-Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall

TO READ THE COMPLETE TEXT OF THE PREFACE CLICK HERE

PART I THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS

We are at the crossroads of the most serious economic crisis in world history. The economic crisis has by no means reached its climax, as some economists have predicted. The crisis is deepening, with the risk of seriously disrupting the structures of international trade and investment.

What is distinct in this particular phase of the crisis is the ability of the financial giants –through stock market manipulation as well as through their overriding control over credit – not only to create havoc in the production of goods and services, but also to undermine and destroy large and well established business corporations.

This crisis is far more serious than the Great Depression. All major sectors of the global economy are affected. Factories are closed down. Assembly lines are at a standstill. Unemployment is rampant. Wages have collapsed. Entire populations are precipitated into abysmal poverty. Livelihoods are destroyed. Public services are disrupted or privatized. The repercussions on people’s lives in North America and around the world are dramatic.
-Michel Chossudovsky, Chapter I.

   ♦

America is dying. It is self-destructing and bringing the rest of the world down with it.

It all began in the early part of the 20th century. In 1907, J.P. Morgan, a private New York banker, published a rumor that a competing unnamed large bank was about to fail. It was a false charge but customers nonetheless raced to their banks to withdraw their money, in case it was their bank. As they pulled out their funds, the banks lost their cash deposits and were forced to call in their loans. People therefore had to pay back their mortgages to fill the banks with income, going bankrupt in the process. The 1907 panic resulted in a crash that prompted the creation of the Federal Reserve, a private banking cartel with the veneer of an independent government organization. Effectively, it was a coup by elite bankers in order to control the industry.
-Tanya Cariina Hsu, Chapter II 

   ♦

Much attention has rightly been paid to the techniques whereby mortgages were packaged together and then sliced and diced and sold to institutional investors around the world. Outright fraud may also have been involved in some of the financial shenanigans. The falling home values following the bursting of the housing bubble and the inability of many sub-prime mortgage holders to continue to make their monthly payments, together with the resulting foreclosures, was certainly the straw that broke the camel’s back, leading to this catastrophic system failure.
-John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, Chapter III

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A world depression, in which upward of a quarter of the world’s labor force will be unemployed, is looming. The biggest decline in trade in recent world history defines the future. The immanent bankruptcies of the biggest manufacturing companies in the capitalist world haunt Western political leaders. The “market” as a mechanism for allocating resources and the government of the U.S. as the “leader” of the global economy have been discredited.

All the assumptions about “self-stabilizing markets” are demonstrably false and outmoded. The rejection of public intervention in the market and the advocacy of supply-side economics have been discredited even in the eyes of their practitioners.

Among almost all conventional economists, pundits, investment advisors and various and sundry experts and economic historians, there is a common faith that in the long-run, the stock market will recover, the recession will end and the government will withdraw from the economy. Fixed on notions of past cyclical patterns and historical trends, these analysts lose sight of the present realities which have no precedent: the world nature of the economic depression, the unprecedented speed of the fall, and the levels of debt incurred by governments to sustain insolvent banks and industries and the unprecedented public deficits, which will drain resources for many generations to come.
-James Petras, Chapter 4.

   ♦

Is there an alternative to plundering the earth? Is there an alternative to making war? Is there an alternative to destroying the planet? No one asks these questions because they seem absurd. Yet, no one can escape them either.

Until the onslaught of the global economic crisis, the motto of so-called “neoliberalism” was TINA: “There Is No Alternative!”No alternative to “neoliberal globalization”?  No alternative to the unfettered “free market” economy?

The notion that capitalism and democracy are one is proven a myth by neoliberalism and its “monetary totalitarianism”. The primacy of politics over economy has been lost. Politicians of all parties have abandoned it. It is the corporations that dictate politics. Where corporate interests are concerned, there is no place for democratic convention or community control. Public space disappears. The res publica turns into a res privata, or – as we could say today – a res privata transnationale (in its original Latin meaning, privare means “to deprive”). Only those in power still have rights. They give themselves the licenses they need, from the “license to plunder” to the “license to kill”.
-Claudia Von Werlhof, Chapter 5.

   ♦

The mainstream media is now – for political reasons – in a constant clamor for the economy’s elusive “rock bottom”. This is so people will be more hopeful, less agitated, and more willing to let those who destroyed the economy continue running the country un-challenged. Every time a new economic indicator comes out that wasn’t “as bad as expected”, Wall Street cheers and politicians give their “we’ve turned the corner” speeches. Reality is thus turned on its head.

The recession is creating a “fight or die” environment for corporations and governments around the world. The super rich that currently control both entities are using their influence to ensure that workers carry the brunt of this burden. It doesn’t have to be so. The fight for jobs, a living wage, progressive taxation, social security and single payer healthcare are all issues capable of uniting the vast majority of U.S. citizens.
-Shamus Cooke Chapter 6

PART II  GLOBAL POVERTY

The sugar-coated bullets of the “free market” are killing our children. The act to kill is instrumented in a detached fashion through computer program trading on the New York and Chicago mercantile exchanges, where the global prices of rice, wheat and corn are decided upon. People in different countries are being impoverished simultaneously as a result of a global market mechanism. A small number of financial institutions and global corporations have the ability to determine the prices of basic food  staples quoted on the commodity exchanges, thereby directly affecting the standard of living of millions of people around the world.

The provision of food, fuel and water is a precondition for the survival of the human species. They constitute the economic and environmental foundations for development of civilized society. In recent years, both prior and leading up to the 2008-2009 financial meltdown, the prices of grain staples, including rice, corn and wheat, gasoline and water, has increased dramatically at the global level with devastating economic and social consequences.
-Michel Chossudovsky, Chapter 7

   ♦

Globalization is accompanied by the increasing impacts of world hunger and starvation. Over 30 000 people a day (85 percent are children under the age of five) die of malnutrition, curable diseases and starvation. The numbers of unnecessary deaths has exceeded 300 million people over the past forty years.

American people cringe at the thought of starving children, often thinking that there is little they can do about it, proclaiming, I am glad I live in America. However, in a globalized economy there are no safe enclaves, poverty and starvation elsewhere can become poverty and wretchedness here as well.
-Peter Phillips, Chapter 8

PART III  WAR, NATIONAL SECURITY AND WORLD GOVERNMENT

Economic conquest is an integral part of America’s military adventure. The U.S. military and intelligence apparatus consults with Wall Street and the Texas oil giants. Conversely, the IMF and the World Bank, which have a mandate to supervise macroeconomic reform in developing countries, are in liaison with the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon.

Economic warfare supports Washington’s military roadmap. The manipulation of market forces through the imposition of strong “economic medicine” under the helm of the IMF supports U.S.-NATO strategic and geopolitical objectives. Similarly, the speculative attacks waged by powerful banking conglomerates in the currency, commodity and stock markets are acts of financial warfare. They seek to destabilize the monetary systems of nation states.

Historically, warfare has been an instrument of economic conquest. U.S. foreign policy and the Pentagon’s war plans are intimately related to the process of economic globalization.
-Michel Chossudovsky Chapter 9

   ♦

Strange as it may seem and irrational as it would be in a more logical system of world diplomacy, the “dollar glut” is what finances America’s global military build-up. It forces foreign central banks to bear the costs of America’s expanding military empire: effective “taxation without representation”.

The military overhead is much like a debt overhead, extracting revenue from the economy. In this case it is to pay the military-industrial complex, not merely Wall Street banks and other financial institutions. The domestic federal budget deficit does not stem only from “priming the pump” to give away enormous sums to create a new financial oligarchy; it contains an enormous and rapidly growing military component.

The domestic federal budget deficit does not stem only from “priming the pump” to give away enormous sums to create a new financial oligarchy; it contains an enormous and rapidly growing military component.
-Michael Hudson, Chapter 10

   ♦

The bailout measures of late 2008 may have consequences at least as grave for an open society as the response to 9/11 in 2001. Many members of Congress felt coerced at the time into voting against their inclinations, and the normal procedures for orderly consideration of a bill were dispensed with.

America escaped from the depression of the 1890s with the Spanish-American War.  It only escaped the Great Depression of the 1930s with the Second World War. There was even a recession in the late 1940s from which America only escaped with the Korean War. As we face the risk of major depression again, I believe we inevitably face the danger of major war again.
-Peter Dale Scott, Chapter 11

   ♦

As the global economic crisis deepens, ongoing efforts by the defense and security establishment to shore-up the empire’s crumbling edifice consumes an ever-greater proportion of America’s national budget

The “black” or secret portions of the budget are almost as large as the entire expenditure of defense funds by America’s allies, hardly slouches when it comes to feeding their own militarist beasts.
-Tom Burghardt, Chapter 12

   ♦

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Intelligence, Obama’s new Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, warned that the deepening world capitalist crisis posed the paramount threat to U.S. national security and warned that its continuation could trigger a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s. Clearly underlying his remarks are fears within the massive U.S. intelligence apparatus as well as among more conscious layers of the American ruling elite that a protracted economic crisis accompanied by rising unemployment and reduced social spending will trigger a global eruption of the class struggle and the threat of social revolution.
-Bill Van Auken, Chapter 13

   ♦

The world is moving towards establishing, within decades, a global government structure. Moving the utopian rhetoric of such an undertaking aside, we must analyze how such a structure is being built. Given the global economic crisis, the governments of the world are restructuring their economies, and the global economy as a whole, into a corporatist structure. Thus, this new international economic system being constructed is one representative of economic fascism.

The governments now work directly for the banks, democracy is in decline everywhere, and the militarization of domestic society into creating “Homeland Security states” is underway and accelerating.
-Andrew Gavin Marshall, Chapter 14

PART IV  THE GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM

Any notion of a “free market” must be dispelled in its true meaning, for as long as the central banking system has been dominant, central bankers have managed and controlled capitalism for the benefit of the few and at the expense of the many. Comprehending the nature of central banking is necessary in order to understand the nature of the current economic crisis.

The central banking system has been the most powerful network of institutions in the world; it reigns supreme over the capitalist world order, almost since its inception. Central banks are the perfect merger of private interests and public power. They have played key roles in every major development and drastic change in the capitalist world economy, and continue to do so.

Central bank policies caused the Great Depression and played an enormous role in creating the Global Economic Crisis of 2008 onwards. As the “solutions” to the economic crisis are being implemented, it would appear that those that created the crisis are being rewarded. The central banking system is becoming more globalized, more centralized, and more powerful.
-Andrew Gavin Marshall, Chapter 15

   ♦

Wary observers might say that this is how you pull off a private global dictatorship: (1) create a global crisis; (2) appoint an “advisory body” to retain and maintain “stability”; then (3) “formalize” the advisory body as global regulator. By the time the people wake up to what has happened, it’s too late.

If we the people of the world are to avoid abdicating the sovereignty of our respective nations to a private foreign banking elite, we need to insist on compliance with the constitutional and legal mandates on which our nations were founded.
-Ellen Brown, Chapter 16

   ♦

The very concept of a global currency and global central bank is authoritarian in its very nature, as it removes any vestiges of oversight and accountability away from the people of the world, toward a small, increasingly interconnected group of international elites. Indeed, the policy “solutions” tend to benefit those who caused the financial crisis over those who are poised to suffer the most as a result of the crisis: the disappearing middle classes, the world’s dispossessed, poor, indebted people.

It is imperative that the world’s people throw their weight against these “solutions” and usher in a new era of world order, one of the People’s World Order; with the solution lying in local governance and local economies, so that the people have greater roles in determining the future and structure of their own political-economy, and thus, their own society. With this alternative of localized political economies, in conjunction with an unprecedented global population and international democratization of communication through the internet, we have the means and possibility before us to forge the most diverse manifestation of cultures and societies that humanity has ever known.
-Andrew Gavin Marshall, Chapter 17

   ♦

Real economic democracy, defined as the unfettered opportunity for every person to achieve his productive potential and be fairly rewarded for doing so, does not exist on the earth today. The economic life of the world today is based on predatory capitalism, where the people with the most money are the ones in charge.

Instrumental in control of economics by the rich has been the debt-based monetary system, where credit is treated as the monopoly of private financial interests who in turn control governments, intelligence services and military establishments. Politicians are bought and sold, elected or removed, or even assassinated for this purpose. The global monetary system is tightly controlled and coordinated at the top by the leaders of the central banks who work for the world’s richest people.

The worldwide monetary reform movement has come into existence to secure the benefits of control of the monetary supply by the community rather than monopolistic cliques exemplified by the Western banking system. While this is only one means of attaining economic democracy, it may be the most important one, because money as an instrument of law controls all commodities.
-Richard C. Cook, Chapter 18

PART V THE SHADOW BANKING SYSTEM

When the smartest guys in the room designed their credit default swaps, they forgot to ask one thing – what if the parties on the other side of the bet don’t have the money to pay up?

If there are no rules, the players can cheat; and cheat they have, with a gambler’s addiction.

The Ponzi scheme that has been going bad is not just another misguided investment strategy. It is at the very heart of the banking business, the thing that has propped it up over the course of three centuries.

A Ponzi scheme is a form of pyramid scheme in which new investors must continually be sucked in at the bottom to support the investors at the top.
-Ellen Brown, Chapter 19

   ♦

Is it possible to make hundreds of billions of dollars in profits on securities that are backed by nothing more than cyber-entries into a loan book? It is not only possible; it has been done. And now those who cashed in on the swindle have lined up outside the Federal Reserve building to trade their garbage paper for billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded loans.

Where is the justice? Meanwhile, the credit bust has left the financial system in a shambles and driven the economy into the ground like a tent stake.

The unemployment lines are growing longer and consumers are cutting back on everything from nights-on-the-town to trips to the grocery store. And it’s all due to a Ponzi-finance scam that was concocted on Wall Street and spread through the global system like an aggressive strain of Bird Flu. This is not a normal recession; the financial system was blown up by greedy bankers who used “financial innovation” game the system and inflate the biggest speculative bubble of all time. And they did it all legally, using a little-known process called securitization.
-Mike Whitney, Chapter 20

Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century
Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, Editors

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Capital in the Arab World (AW), viewed in its dimension of consuming and allocating resources, has edged close to a mercantilist mode of accumulation whose principal characteristic is the near absence of positive intermediation between private and public wealth – literally it leaves behind the progressive side of capitalism. The merchant mode of accumulation revolves around quick private gains and does not require productive reinvestment in society; the usurpation of value by financial means is a subsidiary outcome.

The practice of merchant capital mimics that of financial capital, in the sense that money is transmuted into money without much involvement in production processes: M-M’. Rentier or rent-grab maybe too general a categorisation; it is also something of a misnomer, meant to support an ad hominem (and faux-nationalist) argument which conceals the fact that value transfers away from the working classes in the AW are conducted by national as well as by US-led international financial capital. The resurrected merchant mode of accumulation is a reincarnation of medieval mercantilism in a modern guise and, as was pointed out quite early in the industrial age, ‘wherever merchant capital still predominates we find backward conditions,’ (Marx, vol. III, p. 327).[i] The degeneration in social and political rights, including the status of women, is a vivid manifestation of the social retrogression driven by the ebbing of industrial culture in much of the AW. The broader context from which this condemnation stems is as follows:

 The independent and predominant development of capital as merchant’s capital is tantamount to the non-subjection of production to capital, and hence to capital developing on the basis of an alien social mode of production which is also independent of it. The independent development of merchant’s capital, therefore, stands in inverse proportion to the general economic development of society (Marx, Capital, Vol. III, p327).

A qualification is in order to allow for the juxtaposition. Save slavery, imperialist aggression, and colonial genocide, the evolution from the merchant mode as Venetian traders began to control and own upstream cottage-scale or small manufacturing undertakings represented progress and a turning point in the organisation of social production around wage labour (Engels, 1891).[ii]  Integrating the merchant mode with an industrial one designated a cultural step forward— culture here meaning the universal store of humanity’s knowledge. The AW has de-industrialised under the combined effects of war and neoliberalism. What has occurred in the AW is the gradual disengagement of national industrial capital from commercial capital, after which commerce bereft of industrialisation became the dominant mode. Value usurpation policies, inherently uneven development, blocking the homogenisation of labour, and value grab by imperialist conquest are some of the processes that have underpinned the resurrection of merchant capital in this instance. Here I am relying on Meszaros’ notion that capital as a social relationship regulates its metabolic rate of reproduction in relation to value destruction/grab and value creation, albeit within a context of class struggle and its associated power structure (Meszaros, 1995).[iii]

The case can be generalised in the sense that the security-exposed states of Africa and the AW fall on the “destruction/grab” side of capital as a historical process, and dividedness becomes the defining feature of the their historical subjects, that is, the class alliance of merchants with US-led capital that shape their history. Another distinction/qualification arises between a comprador class and a dominant class that commandeers merchant-capital processes. Whereas a nationalist bourgeoisie differs from a comprador class according to whether the sphere of accumulation and its money-circuit are nationally or internationally linked respectively, the merchant-capital leading class is more fully fused with international financial capital because its concrete activities are inclined to short-term investment wherein the costs of plant removal are also negligible. The merchant class wealth is mostly held in dollars, so it becomes one with US-led capital in the dollar – aptly called the universal form.

It is not just that the rate of imports is nearly at half of income in the AW; merchant capital obeys its international financial counterpart in many areas. Apart from buying abroad and selling at home, its principal endeavours at home are in the speculative areas of a FIRE economy (finance, investment and real estate). The merchant class has little to lose from forfeiting its production base in the home economy. It taps into national resources (national assets and foreign exchange earnings) by speculation, devalorisation of national assets, and the sale of imports to the national economy. This merchant class does not contribute in any significant way to the development of national working classes. These merchant-capital leading classes are either detached from the process of industry within or exhibit an ephemeral link to it.

The pressures of imperialist hegemony and the instilling of the merchant mode have together reinforced the downward (de-)development spiral. Apart from losing major wars that restructured society, there was a prevalence of geopolitical rents from the Gulf states that contributed to de-industrialising more advanced economies, such as Syria and Egypt.  The AW thus became an economy that could not for structural reasons produce jobs, and where profits without effort had gripped the ruling-class mindset. In this context, cheapening life and reducing people to commodities became part of the shift to the merchant mode and the value usurpation process. For the Arab working class, this is a process that religious alienation—imaginary projection of the causation of worldly misery onto a supernatural power—can only momentarily redeem. As working people endure harsher conditions, it appears that the Islamisation of political life offers a short-lived reprieve to the merchant ruling class. However, in the absence of a socialising alternative (land reform, protectionism and egalitarian distribution) toward which popular movements can strive, political uprisings need not imply progress.

Alongside imperialist bellicosity, the merchant mode of accumulation obstructs integrative transformation, both nationally and regionally. It supplants the basis for a social contract. Mal-distribution and the near-absence of positive intermediation between private and public wealth remove the welfare base for working class autonomy and, hence, national integration as well. Under the merchant mode, the private sphere develops a necrotrophic relationship with the social sphere.

Another qualification is in order as well because some industrial economies behave as mercantilist. Present-day exporting industrial superpowers such as Germany are dubbed ‘mercantilist’ in the sense that they often exhibit a trade surplus. But the AW is not and has never been as industrial as Germany.  German mercantilism, or Chinese for that matter, is the commerce of industry selling its products and accumulating a trade surplus consistently over time. The Arab merchant mode is principally about taking raw or semi-raw products out of the nation states and selling them abroad and or importing manufactured goods for sale at home. Alongside chattel slavery, nationalisms laced with racism, and colonial genocide, it was European mercantilists who engaged wage labour in industry and  introduced technology and a complex division of labour. In this way they initiated the wealth-making process of capitalism circa 1500 AD. Mercantilists, under the global pressure of rising trade volumes, engaged wage labour in industry to meet the demands of the world market. In the AW, however, de-industrialisation, regime stabilisation spending derived from oil or geopolitical revenues, and the rise of informal or low-productivity service activity laid the foundation for the new material basis of social relationships. The subjugation of national capital to norms of financial capital, whose activity is centred on money exchange, also accelerates and shortens the duration of the turnover of profits in the national economy. Where Arab industrial and merchant capital did remain tied to each other, that is where industry survived as the leading mode, the space for their joint activities to produce and sell at home or abroad accounted for a puny portion of total income under neoliberalism.

Arab share of high-technology exports from total manufactured exports in the Arab World is at around one to two percentage points, below the rank of sub-Saharan Africa—including South Africa, which is around 5 percent (WDI, various years). In any case, if one excludes the very small Gulf population from total Arab population, Arabs would compose 5 percent of world population earning around one percent of world income. This is not very different from the Sub-Saharan share of income. International financial capital, by hindering the homogenisation of labour (the bridging of wage gaps) and by value grab by imperialist conquest, assisted the ascent of merchant capital in the AW. Capital, to be sure, did not forfeit its absolute general law of development. When the Africa and the AW are considered as an integrated part of the planet the heights of prosperity meet the depth of dislocation.

Imperialist hegemony and the merchant mode are interrelated; they reinforce each other. However, imperialist assault is the underlying historical moment around which all other moments coalesce. The merchant mode of accumulation sets in motion anti-integrationist dynamics. It splinters. If a scale of reference serves to illustrate the point, it divides according to the magnitude of merchant capital subordination to US-led financial capital. Furthermore, the merchant mode requires little expansion in productive capacity or synchronisation of human skills with expanding technology. Merchant capital can easily foment a civil war in the nation state to further the interests of its dominant international partner.

The conventional wisdom posits that oil and geopolitical revenues in the Arab World are unearned incomes. That is a fallacious and misleading claim. These incomes are earned at tremendous social and environmental costs to the working classes; capital accumulation begins with the bombardment of the ex-colonies and human losses in war and the demobilisation of resources are incurred by society as a whole. The reified nation state confounds oppressor with oppressed. The joint loot of the Arab ruling classes and their international financial patrons is unearned income; however, the rest the Arabs—the street vendors, the unemployed, the poverty-and-war–stricken populations—have more than earned their share.

As the merchant mode governs social activity, oil and geopolitical revenues are mainly spent on increasing imports, domestic pacification, and foreign assets. These measures address US-led imperialist objectives that thrive on the pauperisation and disempowerment of Arab working classes. A disempowered working class imparts its insecurity at the national level and boosts imperialist hegemony. In the integrated web of global production, national boundaries can no longer disguise the fact that capital draws on a huge pool of global resources. The idleness of Arab resources is closely tied to the central crisis of overproduction. Deductively, wealth is humanity’s wealth and, conversely, working class de-integration in the AW is the heavy price paid for the unearned income of their ruling-class alliance. More important, the re-empowerment of Arab working classes could dent the hegemony of the US alliance over a region in which they enjoy ‘the freedom of action — notably military action — that is almost unparalleled globally’ (Levy, 2103).[iv]

Notes

[i] http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch20.htm.

[ii] Capital Volume III, Supplement, by Frederick Engels, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/wage-labour/index.htm

[iii]Mészáros, I. (1995) ‘BEYOND CAPITAL: Toward a Theory of Transition’, Monthly Review Press, viewed on 17 August 2013

[iv] Daniel Levy, Maximum Bibi, Peace in the Middle East? Not if Benjamin Netanyahu has anything to say about it. Foreign Policy,  2013.

What sorrow! Our friend and co-fighter, professor Michael Mandel, has died.

He championed, incessantly, for the rights of small nations in face of aggression from the big powers.

His book, How America gets away with murder: Illegal wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity, is a testimony to his vast knowledge and understanding of international law and his  commitment to Speak Truth to Power. In ’99 he initiated an international effort by fellow lawyers to have leaders of NATO countries — including our won — charged with war crimes for attacking Yugoslavia without any legal or moral justification.

He was a key member of our Ad Hoc Committee to Stop Canada’s Participation in the War on Yugoslavia, which David Orchard initiated, and he travelled far and wide across the country with us when we spoke against the war (which was supported by all the parties in the House of Commons, as has been the case with the bombing of Libya and ongoing attacks on Syria!)

Most recently, while quite ill, he wrote a tough critique of Lloyd Axworthy’s and Alan Rock’s proposal for a “Kosovo solution” for Syria, “UN cannot foster peace when US sidesteps it for war: On the illegitimate ‘Kosovo model’ for Military intervention”: http://www.globalresearch.ca/un-cannot-foster-peace-when-us-sidesteps-it-for-war/5347262

Michael Mandel’s recent publications on Global Research

http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/michael-mandel

Michael died on October 27th. While very ill for the last months, he was determined to stay alive until his son’s Bar Mitzwah on the 20th, and was able to participate fully in it.

Marjaleena Repo


Michael Mandel, who died Oct. 27, 2013 at the age of 65, was a member of Osgoode’s faculty for 39 years. He taught Criminal Law, International Criminal Law, The Law of War, and Legal Politics. His primary scholarly interests were in the law of war, and international criminal law. Among his many published works are The Charter of Rights and the Legalization of Politics in Canada (Thompson Education Publishers, 1989, 1994; French edition, 1996), How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity (Pluto Press, 2004, Italian and German editions, 2005) and The Unbearable Flexibility of the Statuto Albertino (CLUEB Bologna, 2006). Recent articles include “Aggressors’ Rights: The Doctrine of ‘Equality between Belligerents’ and the Legacy of Nuremberg” (2011), 24 Leiden Journal of International Law 627, and “Israel and Palestine: Three Questions for International Law” Dartmouth Law Journal (2011) 9: 101.

Professor Mandel had also taught in the Native Law Program at the University of Saskatchewan, in the Political Science Department at McMaster University, and in the Criminology Department at the University of Toronto. In addition, he taught and lectured at several of Italy’s major universities: Bologna (where he ran an exchange program for law students from 1995-2001), Torino, Trento, Padova, Napoli, Calabria, and the European University Institute in Florence where he was a Jean Monnet Fellow in 1990-91. In 1998 he was a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Professor Mandel was a founding member of Lawyers Against the War and frequently commented in the mass media on issues of war and peace.

Osgoode College

Purporting to be an episode of “Other Countries, Other Customs: Kayonga Kagame Shows Us The World,” a production of the fictitious All African Television network, Darkest Austria (“Dunkles, Rätselhaftes Österreich) is a pitch-perfect 1994 mockumentary produced for Austrian TV.

It’s an audacious comic gem, in the same league as Look Around You and one of the funniest, most original things I’ve ever seen. Really clever, a minor masterpiece even. Certainly you will have never seen anything quite like it.

“Anthropologist Kayonga Kagame of Kinshasa University” (Actor Frank Oladeinde)

Darkest Austria is simultaneously a satire of National Geographic documentaries—they get the reverse condescending colonial tone down perfectly—as much as it is a send-up of Austrian culture, which is pretty… uniformly white. Monolithically so. The idea—brilliantly realized by writer/director Walter Wippersberg, a celebrated author of children’s books—was to get his countrymen to see themselves, their rituals and local customs as outsiders would see them. I’m guessing this is viewed as some kind of TV classic in Austria. It must be. It would hardly be possible to make something like this anywhere else!

As the on-camera host, ethnologist Kayonga Kagame explains, doing cultural research on Anglo-Europeans for the first time has many pitfalls, notably the delusional way the white man regards himself:

“The white man’s tendency to indulge in narcissistic self-analysis makes ethnographic research in Europe very difficult.

There is not one psychological or social phenomenon that has not been examined in scores of books.

As soon as the Europeans have written up their theories they start to believe in them. If you read these works of egocentric self-justification, you risk being taken in by the elaborate style in which they’re written and by their seemingly logical arguments. It is easy to end up thinking like the white natives that a curved line is straight, nonsense makes sense and the weird is normal.

If you want to keep a clear head avoid all white self-interpretation and rely on your own common sense.”

When the All African Television documentary team wanders into the darkest regions of the Eastern Alps, they are perplexed by such “patently useless activities” as bike riding for pleasure or mountain climbing, which is viewed as complete lunacy until they conclude that it’s a cult. Oktoberfest’s gluttonous goings-on are seen as Christian rituals, with beer steins and heaping plates of chicken replacing the wine and communion wafers. Money is termed “magic paper” and bemuses the visiting ethnologists. The activity called “skiing” where the local people line up to be chair-lifted to the top of a mountain only to slide down it and then repeat this over and over again all day long is seen as a symptom of an epidemic regression to infantile behavior.

When I first saw Darkest Austria I liked how it referred to an earlier program and assumed this was just a trope that allowed for the African documentarians to be “returning” to the Alps and to make it seem more real, but in fact, the film is not a one-off, there actually was an earlier film, Das Fest des Huhnes (“Festival of the chicken”) but sadly, I wasn’t able to turn up one dubbed into English on YouTube.

Posted by Richard Metzger

“Responsibility to Protect” is a bogus doctrine designed to undermine the very foundations of international law. It is law rewritten for the powerful “The structures and laws that underlie the application of R2P exempt the Great Power enforcers from the laws and rules that they enforce on the lesser powers.”

Both the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and “Humanitarian Intervention” (HI) came into existence in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, which ended any obstruction that that contesting Great Power had placed on the ongoing power projection of the United States. In Western ideology, of course, the United States was containing the Soviets in the post-World War II years, but that was ideology. In reality the Soviet Union was always far less powerful than the United States, had weaker and less reliable allies, and was essentially on the defensive from 1945 till its demise in 1991. The United States was aggressively on the march outward from 1945, with the steady spread of military bases across the globe, numerous interventions, large and small, on all continents, engaged in building the first truly global empire. The Soviet Union was an obstruction to U.S. expansion, with sufficient military power to constitute a modest containing force, but it also served U.S. propaganda as an alleged expansionist threat. With the death of the Soviet Union new threats were needed to justify the continuing and even accelerating U.S. projection of power, and they were forthcoming, from narco-terrorism to Al Qaeda to Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction to the terrorist threat that encompassed the entire planet earth and its outer space.

There was also a global security menace alleged, based on internal ethnic struggles and human rights violations, that supposedly threatened wider conflicts, as well as presenting the global community (and its policeman) with a moral dilemma and demand for intervention in the interests of humanity and justice.  As noted, this morality surge occurred at a moment in history when the Soviet constraint was ended and the United States and its close allies were celebrating their triumph, when the socialist option had lost vitality, and when the West was thus freer to intervene. This required over-riding the several hundred year old Westphalian core principle of international relations – that national sovereignty should be respected – which if adhered to would protect smaller and weaker countries from Great Power cross-border attacks. This rule was embodied in the UN Charter, and could be said to be the fundamental feature of that document, described by international law scholar Michael Mandel as ”the world’s constitution.” Over-riding this rule and Charter fundamental would clear the ground for R2P and HI, but it would also clear the ground for classic and straightforward aggression in pursuit of geopolitical interests, for which R2P and HI might supply a useful cover.

It is obvious that only the Great Powers can cross borders in the alleged interest of R2P and HI,  a point that is recognized and taken as an entirely acceptable premise in every case in which they have been applied in recent years. The Great Powers are the only ones with the knowledge and material resources to do this ‘benevolent’ global social work. As NATO public relations official Jamie Shea explained in May 1999, when the question came up as to whether NATO personnel might be indicted for war crimes during NATO’s bombing war against Serbia, which seemed to follow from the letter of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) charter: NATO countries “organized” the ICTY and International Court of Justice, and NATO countries “fund these tribunals and  support on a daily basis their activities. We are the upholders, not the violators, of international law.” This last is a contestable assertion, but Shea’s other points are clearly valid.

It is enlightening that when a group of independent lawyers submitted an extensive dossier in 1999 showing probable NATO violations of  ICTY rules, after a long delay and following open pressure from NATO authorities, the anti-NATO claims were disallowed by the ICTY prosecutor on the ground that with only 496 documented killings of Serbs by NATO bombs “there is simply no evidence of a crime base” for indicting NATO, although the original May 1999 indictment of Milosevic involved a crime base of only 344 deaths. It is of similar interest that International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo declined to prosecute NATO officials for their attack on Iraq in 2003, despite over 249 requests for ICC action, on the ground that here also “the situation did not appear to meet the required threshold of the Statute.”

These two cases illustrate the fact that the structures and laws that underlie the application of R2P (and HI) exempt the Great Power enforcers from the laws and rules that they enforce on the lesser powers. It also exempts their friends and clients. This means that in the real world there is nobody responsible for protecting Iraqis or Afghanis from the United States or Palestinians from Israel. When U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright acknowledged on national TV in 1996 that 500,000 Iraqi children may have died as a result of UN (but really U.S.) -imposed sanctions on Iraq, declaring that U.S. officials felt these deaths were “worth it,” there was no domestic or global reaction demanding the end of these sanctions and the application of R2P or HI on behalf of the victimized Iraqi population. Similarly there was no call for any R2P intervention on behalf of the Iraqis when the United States and Britain invaded Iraq in March 2003, with direct and induced civil war killings of perhaps a million more Iraqis.

When the Canadian-sponsored International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect considered the Iraq war in relation to R2P, its authors concluded that abuses by Saddam Hussein within Iraq were not of a scope in 2003 to justify an invasion, but the coalition never even raised the question of whether the Iraqi people didn’t need protection from the invaders responsible for the death of vast numbers. They worked from the imperial premise that the Great Power enforcers, even when aggressing in violation of the UN Charter and killing hundreds of thousands, are exempt from R2P as well as the rule of law.

This works from the top of the global power structure on down; Bush, Cheney, Obama, John Kerry, Susan Rice, Samantha Power at the top, then on the way down we have Merkel, Cameron, and Hollande, then further down  Ban Ki-Moon and Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and with their power base to be found in the corporate leadership and media. Ban Ki-Moon and his predecessor Kofi Annan have been open servants of the Great NATO Powers, to whom they owe their status and authority. Kofi Annan was an enthusiastic supporter of the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, a believer in the enforcement responsibility of the NATO powers, and keen on the institutionalization of R2P; and Ban Ki-Moon works in the same mode.

This same global power structure also means that ad hoc Tribunals will be formed and used against villains of choice, as well as international courts. Thus when the United States and its allies wanted to dismantle Yugoslavia and weaken Serbia, they were able to use the Security Council in 1993 to establish a tribunal, the ICTY, precisely for this service, which the ICTY carried out effectively. When they wanted to help their client Paul Kagame consolidate his dictatorship in Rwanda, they created a similar tribunal for this service, the ICTR.  If these powers want to attack and bring about regime change in Libya, they can get the ICC to accuse Gaddaffi of war crimes speedily and  without independent investigation of any charges, and based mainly on anticipations of civilian killings. But as noted, the ICC couldn’t find any basis for action against the invaders of Iraq whose killings of civilians were large-scale and realized, not merely anticipated. There was, in fact, a major World Tribunal on Iraq organized to hear charges against the United States and its allies for their actions in Iraq, but it was privately organized and had a critical anti-war bent, so that although it held hearings in many countries and heard many prestigious witnesses, this tribunal was given negligible attention in the media. (Its final sessions and report in June 2005 were unmentioned in the major U.S, and British media.)

R2P fits snugly into this picture of service to an escalating imperial violence, with the United States and its enormous military-industrial complex engaged in a Global War on Terror and multiple wars, and its NATO arm steadily enlarging and embarked on “out of area” service, despite the ending of  its supposed role of containing the Soviet Union. It conveniently premises that the threats that the world needs to address come from within countries, not from cross-border aggression in the traditional mode that the makers of the UN Charter considered of first importance. They are wrong: William Blum lists 35 cases where the United States overthrew governments between 1945 and 2001 (thus not even counting the war-making of George W. Bush and Barak Obama;  Blum, Freeing the World to Death  [Common Courage, 2005], chaps. 11 and 15)

In the real world, while R2P has a wonderful aura of benevolence, it will be put in play only at the instigation of  the Great NATO Powers and it will therefore never be used in the interest of unworthy victims, defined as victims of the Great Powers or their clients (see Manufacturing Consent, chap 2, “Worthy and Unworthy Victims”).  For example, it was never invoked to constrain Indonesian violence in its invasion and occupation of East Timor from 1975 onward, although this invasion-occupation accounted for an estimated 200,000 deaths on a population base of 800,000, thus exceeding the proportionate deaths under Pol Pot. In this case the United States gave the invasion a green light, gave further arms to the invaders, and protected them from any UN response. This is a case where the UN Charter was being violated and East Timorese desperately needed protection, but as the United States supported the invader no international response transpired.

It is enlightening and amusing to see that Gareth Evans has been perhaps the leading spokesperson in support of R2P.as an instrument of  justice. Evans is a former Foreign Minister of Australia, author of a book on R2P, past president of the International Crisis Group, a co-founder of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, and a participant in several reports and debates on R2P. Evans was the Foreign Minister of Australia during the years of Indonesia’s genocidal occupation of East Timor, and in that role Evans honored and feted Indonesian leaders and worked with them in sharing the stolen oil rights of East Timor. (See John Pilger, “East Timor: a lesson in why the poorest threaten the powerful,” April 5, 2012, pilger.com.) So Evans was really a collaborator in a major genocide. Can you imagine the media’s response to a non-NATO human rights campaign that used as spokesperson a Chinese official who had maintained friendly relations with Pol Pot during his most deadly years?

It is enlightening to see how Gareth Evans deals with the criteria for enforcing R2P. In answering questions on this subject at a UN General Assembly session on R2P, Evans appealed to common sense: R2P “defines itself,” and the crimes, including “ethnic cleansing,” are all “inherently conscience-shocking, and by their very nature of a scale that demands a response…It is really impossible to be precise about numbers here.”  Evans notes that sometimes modest numbers will suffice: “We remember starkly  the horror of Srebrenica… [with only 8,000 deaths]. Was Racak with its 45 victims in Kosovo in ’99 sufficient to trigger the response that was triggered by the international community?” It was sufficient to trigger a response for the simple reason that it helped advance NATO’s ongoing program of dismantlement of Yugoslavia. But Evans dodges answering his own question. You may be sure that Evans does not ask or attempt to explain why there was no triggering of a response to East Timor with its 200,000 or Iraq’s 500,000 plus a million. The politicization of choices here is total, but Evans has apparently internalized the imperial perspective so completely that this huge double standard  never reaches his consciousness. But the most interesting fact is that a man with such a record and such blatant bias can be accepted as an authority and his biased perspective is treated with respect.

It is interesting, also, to see how Evans never mentions Israel and Neither Palestine, where ethnic cleansing has been in active process for decades, works openly and is deeply resented by vast numbers across the globe. do other members of the power pyramid suggest Israel-Palestine as an area where consciences are shocked and the nature and scale of abuse demands a response from the “international community.” In order to obtain her U.N. Ambassadorship, Samantha Power thought it was necessary to go before a group of pro-Israel U.S. citizens and assure them, with tears flowing, that she regretted any past suggestions that AIPAC was powerful and that its influence had to be over-ridden for developing a U.S.-interest policy toward Israel and Palestine. She pledged a devotion to Israel’s national security. The world will wait a long time for Power and her bosses to support R2P’s application to ethnic cleansing in Palestine

In sum, the international power structure in the post-Soviet world has worsened global inequality and at the same time increased Great Power interventionism and literal aggression. The increased militarism may have contributed to the growing inequality, but it is also designed and serves to facilitate pacification at home as well as abroad. In this context, R2P and HI are understandable developments, providing a moral cover for actions that would repel many people and constitute a violation of international law if viewed in a cold light.  R2P puts aggression in a benevolent light and thus serves as its useful instrument. In short, it is a cynical fraud and a constitution (UN Charter)-buster.

Edward S. Herman is a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.  He has written extensively on economics, political economy, foreign policy, and media analysis.  Among his books are The Political Economy of Human Rights (2 vols, with Noam Chomsky, South End Press, 1979); Corporate Control, Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 1981);  The “Terrorism” Industry (with Gerry O’Sullivan, Pantheon, 1990);  The Myth of the Liberal Media: An Edward Herman Reader (Peter Lang, 1999); and Manufacturing Consent (with Noam Chomsky, Pantheon, 1988 and 2002).

Detroit Will be Democracy’s Decisive Battle

October 30th, 2013 by Glen Ford

Detroit is the battleground chosen by Wall Street to crush the last vestiges of American democracy by creating “the template for direct corporate rule.” Finance capital recognizes that it can no longer coexist with democratic institutions, which are most easily destroyed by attacking Black rule in the cities.

If we don’t do something real soon, I think you’ll have to agree that we’re going to be forced either to use the ballot or the bullet. It’s one or the other in 1964. It isn’t that time is running out — time has run out!” – Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” Cleveland, Ohio, April 3, 1964.

A half-century after the man once known as Detroit Red spoke those words, the last grains of sand are trickling from the hour glass of what has passed for democracy in America. The principle of one-person, one vote – or any meaningful franchise, at all – is no longer operative for the majority of Black people in the state of Michigan, whose largely African American cities are run by emergency managers accountable to no one but Rick Snyder, the venture capitalist in the governor’s mansion. The same bell is tolling for every urban center in the land, as hegemonic finance capital creates the template for direct corporate rule through the systematic destruction of Detroiters’ citizenship rights.

The 82 percent Black metropolis has been reduced to a Bantustan in both the economic and political senses of the term. Surrounded by some of the richest counties in the nation, the impoverished city exemplifies a national racial wealth gap that is more profound than that which existed in South Africa at the height of apartheid, as detailed by Jon Jeter in this issue of BAR (See “Worse Than Apartheid: Black in Obama’s America”). The Emergency Manager law, passed by the Republican state legislature after rejection by voters in a referendum, makes the Bantustan analogy complete, with a Black corporate lawyer overseeing the dismantling of every mechanism of local democracy. Kevyn Orr’s ascension as plenipotentiary of Wall Street is also the ultimate logic of the most vulgar current of African American politics, which seeks only Black representation at the highest levels of power, no matter whose interests are served. Wall Street long ago scoped this Black weakness, and has exploited it at every political level.

Detroit’s dissolution also sounds the death knell for a generation’s dreams of authentic “Black Power” through purely electoral means in collaboration with corporate “renaissance” schemes. The Black masses have never been envisioned as part of any “renewal” of the cities under corporate auspices. Rather, investment is contingent on Black disempowerment and removal – the corporate axiom from which the Emergency Manager regime logically flows. Barack Obama, as loyal (and lawyerly) a servant of the banks as Orr, accepts the validity of the premise, which is why he raises no principled objection to Detroit’s disenfranchisement, either in its particulars or as a model for urban America.

The drama unfolds in bankruptcy court, a venue whose rules were written almost entirely by the financial capitalist class. By virtue of the Emergency Manager law, Detroit is represented in court by its nemesis, Kevyn Orr – which is like imposing Newt Gingrich as chief counsel for the NAACP. (The Detroit NAACP seeks to halt the proceedings on voting rights grounds.) Orr’s office is referred to as “the city” in both legal terms and by idiot corporate media, who confuse the public by reporting, as did Detroit PBS correspondent Christy McDonald, this week, that the issue is “whether the city can go ahead with its bankruptcy” process. In fact, hardly an elected official or candidate exists that openly supports bankruptcy, especially under Kevyn Orr’s terms (Detroit holds a meaningless mayoral and council election, next week).

Orr may be the most hated man in Detroit – a fact that would be noted by every media outlet in the nation, if the metropolis were largely white. But the Detroit model for democracy’s demolition is depicted as a white supremacist morality play, in which corruption and incompetence are the inevitable fruits of Black majority rule, which must be extirpated by any means necessary. White Americans, in general, can be distracted by the slightest hint of ghetto graffiti from seeing their own futures written on the wall.

Kevin Orr, ensconced in a $5,000 per month luxury penthouse condominium paid for by one of Governor Snyder’s private slush funds with contributions from secret corporate donors, is building the template for urban democratic dissolution from scratch. He is a crude and unimaginative man, doing Wall Street’s bidding with little finesse in the bright light of day. His arrogance is buttressed by the certainty that he is backed by the real rulers of the American State, Wall Street, and that the outcome in Judge Steven Rhodes’ federal bankruptcy court will create precedent to render all of America’s cities servile and neutered. Orr is also aware that his coloration provides perfect cover for his mission – added value for his services, well worth the luxury suite. (The judge ruled that Orr’s accommodations were irrelevant to the case.)

First-responders, revered in the post-911 United States, are crucified along with the rest of the city rabble. Orr ejected 8,000 city retirees under age 65 from their city-paid $605 per monthhealth insurance, including police and firefighters. The state constitution specifically forbidsimpairing pensions, which average only $18,000 a year, yet Orr testified that he thinks federal law allows him to override those protections. He and the governor, who was subpoenaed by unions, both claimed they didn’t start out wanting to bankrupt the city – but why would Snyder hire bankruptcy lawyer Orr unless that were the intention? The lying duo claimed they never conspired to push Detroit into the venue, and that it was the unions that refused to negotiate in good faith. Apparently, “good faith” means negotiating away rights guaranteed by law.

Orr admitted that he never even raised the subject of getting the state to help Detroit out of its fiscal difficulties. And, why would he? His mission is not to save the city, but to break it into auctionable pieces and to garnishee its remaining revenue streams for bankers. His opening fiscal reorganization plan would pay off Bank of America and UBS, who have already made millions on a 2005 derivatives scheme with the city, establishing Britain’s Barclay’s Bank as the super-priority creditor with dibs on $4 million a month in Detroit casino revenues if the city defaults.

To ensure that the city can never escape the clutches of capital, the contract would allow Barclay’s to immediately declare Detroit in default if Emergency Financial Manager rule is ended for any reason – that is, the corporate plan calls for the permanent cessation of democracy in Detroit.

That’s the plan for the whole country. Wall Street recognizes that it cannot effectively consume the public sphere as long as the public retains the electoral democratic mechanisms to stop it. In other words, concentrated capital can no longer coexist with even the thin gruel of American democracy. The Black polity is the weakest link in the U.S. democratic armor. White folks won’t protect it, and Black folks have the least resources to defend it. The generals of Wall Street have purposely chosen Detroit as the decisive battleground, where the power of massed capital will be hyper-charged by an endemic, unreconstructed racism that can reliably be expected to deny that democracy is really at stake, at all. It’s just, you know – “the Blacks.”

And even some Black folks will agree.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

Gradually, awareness that de-Zionization of the US and European foreign policy as well as the internal policies of the State of Israel has become a prerequisite for peace in the Middle East is steadily taking roots in Israeli and world public opinion and consciousness.

However this awareness has yet to wait for drying up the Zionist ideological wellsprings of the Arab – Israeli conflict and translating it into real politics by de-Zionization of Israel and disengaging western foreign policy from its ideological attachment to Zionism.
In his article published by Foreign Policy on last October 25, James Traub quoted US President Barak Obama in a speech last May, “announcing a re-formulation of the war on terror,” as saying: “We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root;” the only alternative to “perpetual war” is a sustained effort to reduce “the wellsprings of extremism.”
The “wellsprings” of “perpetual wars” and “extremism” in the Middle East during most of the past twentieth century until now could easily be detected in the unholy combination of real politics and the “radical ideology” of the secular – turned – religious Zionism.
This combination made it possible and seemingly ethical for Americans and Europeans to accept and justify the unethical displacement of the indigenous Arab people of Palestine to be replaced by a multi-national artificial gathering of Jews who suffered oppression, anti – Semitism, pogroms and holocaust in their western home countries.
US and European continued attachment to the Zionist ideology lies at the heart of their treatment of Israel, the offspring of this ideology, as one of their top “vital interests” in the Middle East, which is an attachment that in turn lies at the heart of anti-Americanism and other forms of Arab conflicts with the “west.”  
The safe haven of the “new world” in America was a timely and practical solution for Europeans to get rid of and solve their “Jewish Question;” it now absorbs more Jews than Israel does.
The communists offered their own solution; it materialized in the Jewish autonomous “Oblast” first ever republic in the Russian Birobidzhan, close to the border of the former Soviet Union with China, which was home to some three million Jews before some one third of them immigrated to Israel following the collapse of the communist empire.
The nation states basing citizenship on the rule of law is now the rule of the day in Europe , where Jews enjoy full constitutional religious, civil, political and all the other rights enjoyed by their compatriots.
There is no more a “Jewish Question” in Europe in particular or in the west in general. If such a question still persists there it is one related to the disproportionate influence of Jewish citizens on the decision makers in the political, financial and media arenas.
Nonetheless, the Zionist propaganda in Israel and abroad is still fervently inciting that Jews are an endangered species outside Israel , soliciting Jewish immigration, encouraging dual citizenship and binational loyalty among them and considering all Jews outside Israel as “refugees.”
Writing in the http://www.huffingtonpost.com on September 6 last year, Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian leader and elected parliamentarian, quoted Shlomo Hillel, a government minister and an active Zionist from Iraq , as saying, “I don’t regard the departure of Jews from Arab lands as that of refugees. They came here because they wanted to, as Zionists” and quoted Former Knesset member Ran Cohen, who immigrated from Iraq , as saying: “I have to say: I am not a refugee. I came at the behest of Zionism.”
Consequently, the “Jewish Question” moved ironically to the very Arab safe haven to which the oppressed European Jews fled with their lives to survive the culture of inquisition in Medieval Europe. The largest Jewish minority among Arabs in Morocco nowadays tells the story.
This Arab safe haven was turned by the Zionist ideology into a hell of wars, instability, ongoing conflict and home of a revived “Jewish Question” since Israel was artificially created 65 years ago in the heart of the Arab world, where Jews used previously to be a prosperous minority in every one of the capitals of the 22 Arab states except Jordan.
Zionism justifies the creation of Israel in Palestine by two basic controversial arguments: That God promised the land to Jews no matter what would happen to its Arab inhabitants who was there long before Joshua and his army crossed River Jordan to destroy Jericho and kill every man, woman, child and animal by “God’s command.”
On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary then, Lord Balfour, acted as the self – appointed messenger of God’s will to issue a modern God’s promise to Jews to have a “homeland” in Palestine .
The modern justification of the Holocaust does not care that another people, namely Arab Palestinians, pay the price for a crime they did not commit.
Ironic but informative as well is the fact that Zionism was not originally a Jewish product.
According to the author of “Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon?” (InterVarsity Press, 2004) Revd. Dr. Stephen Sizer, writing in the Middle East Monitor on last August 1, “The origins of the movement can be traced to the early 19th century when a group of eccentric British Christian leaders began to lobby for Jewish restoration to Palestine as a necessary precondition for the return of Christ… Christian Zionism therefore preceded Jewish Zionism by more than 50 years. Some of Theodore Herzl’s strongest advocates were Christian clergy.” Dr. Sizer headlined his article, “Christian Zionism: The Heresy that Undermines Middle East Peace.”
He, together with the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem: The Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad of the Syrian Orthodox, the Episcopal Church Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal and the Evangelical Lutheran Church Bishop Munib Younan issued in 2006 and signed the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism, which concluded: “We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.”
The Zionist narrative was challenged by Israel ’s “New Historians.” Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe’, Avi Shlaim, Tom Segev, Hillel Cohen, Baruch Kimmerling and others have already reconsidered and created a post – Zionists’ awareness. Pappe’ concluded that the Zionist leaders planned and executed “ethnic cleansing” to displace most of the Arab Palestinians.
Shlomo Sand’s trilogy – - “The Invention of the Jewish People,” “The Invention of the Land of Israel ” and his upcoming third volume “The Invention of the Secular Jew” – - hits hard at the very foundations of Zionism.   
The fact that the secular Zionism was not popular among the world religious Jewry in the early stages of the movement and that it is an ideology still opposed by a strong Jewish minority is a fact Zionists are keen to smokescreen.
“The UN avenue” in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was renamed “The Zionism avenue” in response to the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) of Resolution 3379 on November 10, 1975, which determined that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination;” it was revoked by the UNGA resolution 46/86 in 1991; the ongoing Israeli Zionist ideology and practices render its repeal a premature step that should be reconsidered to reinstate it.
The world community as represented by the United Nations, by adopting resolution 181 of 1947 dividing Palestine between its indigenous Arab Palestinians and the invading aliens of the Zionist settlers played in the hands of Christian and Jewish Zionism to commit an historical mistake that doomed peace in the Middle East as an elusive humanitarian hope for a long time to come.
Jews were an integral part of the region’s history and social fabric until Zionism cut this fact short. Only the prerequisite of de-Zionization of Israel and world politics will make peace a dream that would come true in the region and restore history to its normal course in it. The Crusaders’ interruption of the regional history is an informative precedent from which all those concerned could draw lessons.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. [email protected]

The U.S. spends more money than any other country in the world on scientific research and development.

But do those billions of dollars translate into breakthroughs, and what does the future hold?

Brain Trust
Source: SuperScholar.org

The U.S. spends more money than any other country in the world on scientific research and development. But do those billions of dollars translate into breakthroughs, and what does the future hold?

Who Spends What?

Here’s a look at where the R&D spending in the world happens, by region:

Americas 36.0%

Asia 36.7%

Europe 24.1%

Rest of world 3.2%

The U.S. by far outspends every other country in the world on scientific research and development at more than $400 billion. But what about when that spending is compared to our total gross domestic product?

Country Total R&D spending (U.S. dollars)

United States $436 billion

China $198.9 billion

Japan $157.6 billion

Germany $90.6 billion

South Korea $56.4 billion

France $51.1 billion

United Kingdom $42.4 billion

India $41.3 billion

Brazil $30 billion

Canada $28.6 billion

Russia $26.9 billion

Italy $24.4 billion

Taiwan $22.3 billion

Australia $21.8 billion

Spain $20.4 billion

Sweden $14.4 billion

Netherlands $13.7 billion

Switzerland $10.4 billion

Israel $10.3 billion

Austria $9.9 billion

Turkey $9.7 billion

Singapore $8.8 billion

Belgium $8.6 billion

Finland $7.7 billion

Mexico $6.8 billion

Denmark $6.6 billion

Poland $5.7 billion

South Africa $5.5 billion

Norway $5.1 billion

Czech Republic $4.3 billion

Argentina $4.2 billion

Portugal $4.1 billion

Malaysia $3.3 billion

Ireland $3.2 billion

Hungary $2.4 billion

Indonesia $2.4 billion

Romania $1.8 billion

Saudi Arabia $1.8 billion

New Zealand $1.6 billion

Greece $1.6 billion

Country R&D spending as a percentage of GDP

Israel 4.20%

Finland 3.80%

Sweden 3.62%

Japan 3.48%

South Korea 3.45%

Denmark 3.08%

Switzerland 3.00%

Germany 2.87%

United States 2.85%

Austria 2.75%

Singapore 2.65%

Taiwan 2.38%

Australia 2.28%

France 2.24%

Belgium 2.03%

Canada 2.00%

Netherlands 1.90%

Norway 1.85%

United Kingdom 1.84%

Ireland 1.75%

Portugal 1.67%

China 1.60%

Czech Republic 1.55%

Spain 1.42%

Italy 1.32%

Brazil 1.25%

New Zealand 1.22%

Hungary 1.20%

Russia 1.08%

South Africa 0.95%

Turkey 0.90%

India 0.85%

Poland 0.72%

Malaysia 0.70%

Romania 0.66%

Argentina 0.61%

Greece 0.50%

Mexico 0.39%

Saudi Arabia 0.25%

Indonesia 0.20%

Where the Money Goes

Here’s a look at the areas where most of the research is focused, by country:

U.S.

National defense

Health

Space/flight research

China

Nanotechnology

Clean energy

Stem cell research

New labs and institutes

Japan

Energy conservation/new energy sources

Housing

Robot technology

Life sciences

Germany

Environment

Health

Physics

Aerospace/ transportation.

South Korea

Nanotechnology

Space

Bioscience/biomedicine

France

Renewable energy

Cancer

Communication technology

Space

United Kingdom

Engineering

Physical sciences

Medicine

Biotechnology

India

Agriculture

Biotechnology

Nanotechnology

Climate change

Canada

Aerospace

Information/communication technologies

Oil/gas extraction

Pharmaceutical/medicine manufacturing

Russia

Life sciences

Biopharmaceuticals

Nanotechnology

The Biggest Brains?

Which countries are poised for the biggest and best breakthroughs over the next decade?

Scientific and engineering researchers per capita

  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • United States
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand

Patents per capita

  • United States
  • Japan
  • Switzerland
  • Finland
  • Israel
  • Sweden
  • Germany
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Hong Kong

Countries that will have the greatest scientific impact in 2020, according to Nature magazine readers

China 59%

United States 36%

India 29%

Germany 23%

Japan 22%

United Kingdom 19%

Brazil 16%

Australia 13%

Canada 11%

France 8%

Cause for Concern?

Budget cuts in the U.S. have led many scientists and researchers to sour on the U.S.

Nearly 1 in 5

American scientists considering pursuing their research overseas

67%

Scientists and researchers who say they’re getting less grant money than in 2010

More than 1 in 2

Researchers with colleagues who’ve lost a job or expect to soon

Bright Outlook?

While budget cuts may be hindering some research in the U.S. now, scientists around the world still consider the U.S. an attractive location to conduct their work.

To which countries would you consider relocating?

United States 56%

United Kingdom 55%

Canada 51%

Australia 46%

Germany 45%

France 37%

Japan 17%

Brazil 12%

India 9%

China 8%

Sources:

http://battelle.org
http://www.nsf.gov
http://www.npr.org
http://www.investopedia.com
http://cordis.europa.eu
http://www2.cnrs.fr
http://media.education.gouv.fr
http://oia.ncsu.edu
http://industrytoday.com
http://www.bioworld.com
http://martinprosperity.org
http://www.huffingtonpost.com
http://www.nature.com

science-thumb

How to Protect Yourself from Fukushima Radiation

October 30th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Don’t Buy Lead Underwear …

A Japanese company is literally selling anti-radiation underwear. (see below)

But there are more down-to-earth ways to protect yourself from Fukushima radiation….

Japanese company launches anti-radiation swimwear and underwear as Fukushima nuclear crisis continues.

Anti-radiation underwear

Step 1: Reduce Exposure

How do we protect ourselves from radiation?

Initially, we should reduce our exposure to radiation in the first place.  For example, world renowned physicist Michio Kaku told his Japanese family and friends months ago that they should leave if they can.

If you live in an area receiving any radiation exposure, you should also take off your shoes and leave them by the door (Asian style) and use a Hepa vacuum to get rid of excess dust.

Also, rain is the main way that radiation is spread outside of the vicinity of the nuclear accident. As a parent who doesn’t want to tell my kids they can’t play in the rain, none of this is fun to talk about … but during periods of high radiation release, people might want to keep their kids out of heavy rain.

When a lot of radiation is being released, we might want to avoid milk altogether for a couple of weeks or so.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen explains how to reduce exposure in case of a worst case scenario:

[In a worst case scenario, for example, if the fuel pool at Fukushima reactor 4 were to topple over], I would close my windows, turn the air conditioner on, replace the filters frequently, damp mop, put a HEPA filter in the house and try to avoid as much of the hot particles as possible. You are not going to walk out with a Geiger counter and be in a plume that is going to tell you the meter. The issue will be on the West Coast, hot particles. And the solution there is HEPA filters and avoiding them.

Finally, we should demand that fish caught of the West coast of the U.S. and Canada is tested for radiation. See this, this, and this.

What To Do If Exposed to Extremely High Doses of Radiation

Potassium iodide protects against damage from radioactive iodine, but should only be taken if one is directly exposed to high levels of radioactive iodine, and you should never exceed the recommended dosage.

Other specific substances have been proven to protect against poisoning from exposure to other specific types of radiation:

  • Prussian blue for cesium
  • DTPA for plutonium, americium and curium
  • Sodium bicarbonate (i.e. baking soda) for uranium

These are not candy, and can have their own side effects.  So only take if you are exposed to high levels of radiation.

Get Enough Calcium, Potassium, Iron and Magnesium

It is vital to get enough calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.

Why?

Radioactive strontium is very similar chemically to calcium. Our bodies take up strontium and deposit it into our bones, treating it as if it were calcium. If we’re not getting enough calcium, then our calcium-hungry bodies will more quickly and eagerly absorb strontium. On the other hand, if we’re getting enough calcium, our bodies won’t absorb as much strontium.

Indeed, this is the exact same reason that potassium iodide works to protect against damage from radioactive iodine … by loading up on harmless iodine, our bodies are less eager to absorb the dangerous type of iodine.

Similarly, radioactive cesium is treated like potassium by our bodies. The body absorbs it, treats it like potassium, and deposits it in our muscles, heart and other tissues. So getting enough potassium will help to prevent absorption of radioactive cesium.

Plutonium is treated like iron by our bodies. So getting enough iron will help reduce absorption of plutonium.

Magnesium has also been shown to provide some protection against radiation, and some alternate health writers sing its praises. Moreover, magnesium is essential for absorption of calcium and potassium, and helps protect your heart and other body tissues.

The dosage depends on a number of factors, depending on your age, size, health condition, and the amount of radiation you’re exposed to.  See your healthcare professional for guidance.

At the least, everyone could take a daily multivitamin to get some of these important minerals.

Low-Level Radiation

No matter what you may be told, the widely-accepted scientific consensus is that even low levels of radiation can harm health.

One of the main reasons is that low-level ionizing radiation causes our cells to produce free radicals, which in turn damage our cells.

Columbia University shows the effects of low-level ionizing radiation:

And explains the damaging effects of low-level radiation through free radical creation:

Indeed, some radiation experts argue that the creation of a lot of free radical creation is the most dangerous mechanism of low level ionizing radiation:

During exposure to low-level doses (LLD) of ionizing radiation (IR), the most of harmful effects are produced indirectly, through radiolysis of water and formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The antioxidant enzymes – superoxide dismutase (SOD): manganese SOD (MnSOD) and copper-zinc SOD (CuZnSOD), as well as glutathione (GSH), are the most important intracellular antioxidants in the metabolism of ROS. Overproduction of ROS challenges antioxidant enzymes.

Scientists from the Institute of Nuclear Science claim in the Archive of Oncology:

Chronic exposure to low-dose radiation doses could be much more harmful than high, short-term doses because of lipid peroxidation initiated by free radicals.

***

Peroxidation of cell membranes increases with decreasing dose rate (Petkau effect).

(See this for more on the Petkau effect.)

Countering free radicals is therefore one of the most important ways we can help protect ourselves from the effects of low-level radiation from Japan, from Chernobyl and elsewhere.

The good news is that antioxidants can help counter the free radicals and protect us from low-level radiation … and antioxidants can be obtained free or at a low cost:

That’s why doctors recommend eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to help protect against radiation (via CBS’ show The Doctors):

Another oil train derailment and explosion in Canada has sent nearby residents fleeing from their homes in the middle of the night. It happened at 1 a.m. on Saturday, October 19 on a CN Rail line outside the hamlet of Gainford, Alberta, 85 km west of Edmonton.

The accident coincides with new steps by the Canadian government to extend oil and other resource extraction into the Arctic.

The CN Rail derailment at Gainford, Alberta on October 19, 2013.

The CN Rail derailment at Gainford, Alberta on October 19, 2013.

A portion of a long, mixed-cargo CN Rail train traveling westbound derailed. Nine of the derailed wagons were carrying liquid petroleum gas (propane) and four contained crude oil. Three of the propane wagons exploded into flames. A fourth was breached. The accident closed the adjoining Trans-Canada Highway for days. Fortunately, no lives were lost or serious injuries sustained in the conflagration.

The 125 residents of Gainford were evacuated from their homes and a state of emergency was declared in the surrounding area. Some residents evacuated their homes with only the sleeping clothes they were wearing. A CBC News report provided home video footage of the fire burning soon after the derailment.

Local Residents

Gainford resident Denise Anderson said her family received notice to leave at 3 a.m. “Two fire and rescue guys came and banged on the door and [they] tell me I had to evacuate because there was a train derailment,” she said. “They told me to get dressed and I had to go.”

Taxidermist Jeanette Hall lives right across the highway from the derailment and she told CBC News, “I woke up to something that sounded like an airplane landing on Highway 16 and the next thing you know you hear the boom-boom-boom of the train falling apart.”

“Everything lit up. Next thing you know, the curtains melted to the window and we took off running downstairs. I thought ‘we gotta get to the basement – everything’s gonna blow up’ – and then we happened to look outside and the entire front yard is on fire.”

“We should have died in that – and we didn’t. I can’t explain how the house and everything didn’t get burned down,” she said. “It was hell. It was absolute, utter hell.”

The evacuation lasted four days because the fires consuming the three propane wagons could not be safely extinguished. Emergency officials and local firefighters, the latter equipped with little more than water hoses, decided to leave the wagons to burn. The danger of the six other propane wagons exploding was settled by a combination of venting the fuel and setting explosive charges to set them on fire.

CN managed to drag the four oil wagons away from the fire. The worst damage to nearby homes was the melting of vinyl siding.

Fossil Fuel Industry Damage Control

This accident happened on the main CN Rail line that connects western Canada to the British Columbia coast at Prince Rupert and Vancouver. It wasn’t supposed to be possible. CN says the line receives the very best inspections and preventive maintenance that it can provide, including ultrasonic examination of the rail, visual inspection of the rail bed and visual and electronic surveillance of the moving train. The train was inspected upon leaving Edmonton and was traveling at 35 km/hr.

One local resident told CBC that he and his neighbours believe the stretch of rail bed in the area is inherently unsafe because it was laid overtop of a bog.

This was the third train derailment in western Canada in as many weeks. Just two days prior, four CN rail wagons carrying anhydrous ammonia left the rails in Sexsmith, Alberta, forcing residents from their homes. In Landis, Saskatchewan, 17 CN rail wagons derailed on September 25. Three were carrying lubricating oil and one carried ethanol. Authorities rushed to evacuate a nearby primary school.

Just down the Trans-Canada highway from Gainford is the site of an infamous CN derailment in 2005 that dumped 700,000 liters of Bunker C fuel and 88,000 liters of pole-treating oil into and around Wabamun Lake. A Transportation Safety Board investigation found that the train derailed when the rail beneath it broke due to defects. CN pleaded guilty to three charges under provincial and federal environmental legislation and was fined $1.4 million.

The Gainford accident comes less than a week after a pro-fossil fuel industry working committee of the Alberta and British Columbia governments threatened to fast-track a plan for shipment of oil-by-train (tar sands bitumen) from Alberta to the BC coast. A consortium including CN Rail and the Chinese, state-owned tar sands company Nexen says it could transport the equivalent of Northern Gateway to an export terminal to be built in Prince Rupert on the northern BC coast using seven, 100-wagon trains per day. The plan was revealed last month by Greenpeace Canada researcher Keith Stewart using access to information procedure. This plan would use the very track on which the accident that occurred at Gainford.

The oil-by-train threat is prompted by the ongoing ‘wall of opposition’ in BC to the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline to Kitimat (south of Prince Rupert) that Enbridge Inc says it wants to build. The menace was reported as front page news in Vancouver on October 16. Needless to say, the more the number of train accidents grows, the harder it will be to sell such a plan. Opposition to tar sands pipelines and ocean-going tankers is so strong that the BC government has been obliged to posture as an ardent defender of strict ‘environmental safety standards’ on any pipeline movement of oil or bitumen (all the while working furiously behind the scenes, out of public scrutiny, to realize the project).

Safety and Oil-by-Rail – Like Mixing Oil and Water

The notion that the movement of oil by rail can be made safe is a steady theme of the fossil fuel-promoting efforts of the federal, Alberta and BC governments. As the black clouds from the propane fires were billowing over Gainford on October 19, federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt was telling the Globe and Mail that the rail transport system is safe. “Over 99.9 per cent of the time, the dangerous good makes it to its final destination.”

But she couldn’t avoid the shadow that looms over all present and future talk of oil train safety in North America – the July 6 oil train disaster in Lac Mégantic, Quebec that killed 47 of the town’s residents. Raitt said, “But all that being said, we still lost 47 people and it’s up to us to ensure that if there are mitigating things we can do, that we can learn from, that’s what we should be doing.” Raitt was assigned as transport minister three months ago. She is a lawyer by training.

Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Diana McQueen, told the same edition of the Globe, “This weekend is absolutely very, very unfortunate. But when we look over all at some of the statistics on rail … about 99 per cent of all dangerous goods rail shipments reach their destination safely.”

Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver, the chief shill for the federal government’s fossil fuel promotion, including its recent ‘pipeline or else rail’ theme, told the Globe on September 25 that the “overall” safety record of the railways “has been a very good one.”

The federal government says it is “taking action” for better rail safety, repeating that message in last week’s speech opening a new session of Parliament. It put on quite a show for the speech by inviting the mayor of Lac Mégantic to sit in as a special guest.

But the government is refusing a key demand of provincial and municipal governments – that they be informed in advance of the movement of dangerous rail cargo through their jurisdictions. It has failed to act upon safety recommendations by its own railway agencies in recent years. And it continued and extended the policies of previous Liberal governments of devolving the responsibility for rail safety to the companies themselves in the respective industries.

When a Toronto Star reporter asked CN for the name of the shipper of the wagons that derailed in Gainford, the answer was ‘no’, because such information is protected by “client privilege.”

Bruce Campbell, executive-director of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, has just published a study on the systematic erosion of railway safety that contributed to the tragedy at Lac-Mégantic. It’s titled, The Lac-Mégantic Disaster: Where Does the Buck Stop?.

CN is currently fighting an unjust dismissal lawsuit by a whistleblower employee from its Memphis, Tennessee yard. He says the company covered up reporting of minor derailments and falsified its performance numbers for freight delivery in order to boost executive bonuses and shareholder value.

The issue of the safety of the class of railway wagons carrying the majority of ethanol, chemicals and petroleum products in North America has come to the fore following the Lac Mégantic disaster. Known as DOT 111, they are single hulled and can be too easily breached when they are involved in a crash or derailment. According to the Railway Association of Canada, there are some 240,000 DOT 111 wagons operating in North American Railroads, of which half have received some kind of modification to improve their safety.

That appears to contradict a recent report by NBC News that has the American Railway Association saying about 32,000 DOT 111 wagons carry crude oil in the U.S. and only one quarter of those have undergone modifications. The report also says that according to the Renewable Fuels Association, 63,000 DOT 111 wagons carry ethanol in the U.S. and most have received no modifications.

Arguments are made by some, including in the environmental movement, that the vast fleet should be replaced with double-hulled wagons. Rail companies have resisted that call for many years because of the cost involved (according to some news sources, more than $1 billion). Meanwhile, the U.S. and Canadian governments have bowed to industry pressure to not legislate on the matter.

Since Lac Mégantic, the opposition New Democratic Party in Ottawa has focused its critique of oil train movement on calls for greater safety measures. MP Olivia Chow accuses the federal government of only making vague promises to improve rail safety. She says train and rail line inspections need to be increased and automatic braking systems should be required on all trains. Coincidentally, CBC News is reporting that Transportation Safety Board inspectors say a malfunctioning of an automatic brake system may have caused the Gainford crash.

NDP MP for Edmonton Strathcona Linda Duncan says, “I want this rail shipping to be slowed down until we get a real picture of how safe it is.” She reportedly owns a cabin at Wabamun Lake, near where the 2005 CN derailment occurred.

Regardless of the safety record, the profits in railway operations are impressive. CN Rail’s financial results for the third quarter of 2013 were issued on October 23 and they show record revenues of $2.7 billion and net profit of $705 million, up from $664 million in the same quarter a year ago. The other half of Canada’s railway duopoly, CP Rail, is also reporting a record share price and profits – $331 million in the same quarter, on earnings of $1.5 billion. Both railways have extensive operations in the U.S. and are cashing in on the oil-by-rail boom.

Extends Into the North

The threat of oil trains extends into Canada’s north. There is intense commercial pressure to open Arctic waters for fossil fuel extraction and transport. Meanwhile, Denver-based Omnitrax has come up with a scheme to ship oil from the Bakken field in North Dakota and Saskatchewan along the old, former CN-owned line to Churchill, Manitoba, on Hudson Bay. A new export terminal would be built, and from there the product would be transported by oil tanker through sub-Arctic waters to the Atlantic Ocean.

Omnitrax owns the 1,300 km of line that connects The Pas, Manitoba to Churchill. Much of the line is overtop of permafrost peat that is beginning to break down due to global warming. The company’s oil-by-rail proposal has met a cool reception from the NDP government of Manitoba and was hotly contested at recent town hall meetings in three locales in the province.

But this bizarre rail scheme would fit with the ‘vision’ that Canada’s Conservative government has been pushing for the Canadian north and Arctic ever since it first came to power in 2006. That is to open up the vast and fragile region to fossil fuel and mineral extraction, and to open Arctic waters for ocean transport. Fittingly, and in a dire premonition of the fate of the Arctic Ocean, the first traversing of the Northwest Passage by a cargo ship occurred last month, consisting of a load of coal mined in BC and bound for Denmark.

The government has a unique opening to advance its vision by virtue of its chairmanship for the next two years of the eight-country Arctic Council. It says it will use its two years at the helm of the organization to push for “resource” development. The Council began a three-day meeting on October 21 in Whitehorse, Yukon and its new chairperson, Environment Minister and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, says, “Our overarching theme for Canada’s chairmanship is development for the people of the North.” For her, that means “development” of natural resources, “safe shipping” through Arctic waters and “sustainable communities” whose livelihoods and social services will become dependent on resource extraction revenues.

This vision is sharply opposed by most of the Aboriginal peoples of the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Five months ago, an historic statement signed by most of the Aboriginal peoples who live there was signed in Sweden. It calls for a moratorium on oil drilling and other exploration activity in the Arctic and says any resource extraction should be conditional upon Aboriginal consent. The statement was signed by two of the six permanent members of the Arctic Council – the Arctic Athabaskan Council and the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North.

At the time, Aglukkaq expressed “disappointment” with the statement. Her government’s Aboriginal business allies in the North challenged the legitimacy of the Inuit signatories.

In a surprising and revealing development at the meeting in Whitehorse, senior U.S. official for Arctic affairs, Julia Gourley, says she is concerned that the Canadian government may be diminishing the importance of scientific research in the Arctic. “Certainly, the United States would never allow any threats to science work at the council, so we would defend it. That might be something that’s a little different between Canada and the U.S. …”

She also says her government opposes opening the Northwest Passage to commercial shipping unless and until an international agreement is reached. Canada claims sovereignty over those waters.

A representative of the Arctic Athabaskan Council at the meeting, Chief Gary Harrison of the Chickaloon Village Athabascan Nation in Alaska, is concerned about the Council’s focus on responsible resource development, reports the Globe and Mail. “Resource extraction is not development,” he said. He doesn’t want the council to evolve “from an environmental body to an extractive body.”

Member countries of the Arctic Council are Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Fossil Fuel Opponents Score Victories

The latest train derailment is Alberta is a blow to the fossil fuel agenda of the federal government and fossil fuel industry, joining with other recent setbacks they have suffered.

In New Brunswick, the anti-natural gas fracking movement in the province has emerged strengthened following a violent assault against it by the RCMP on October 17. On that day, the federal police force attacked a weeks-long protest against exploratory drilling and seismic testing being conducted by a Houston-based company contracted by the province’s Irving Oil conglomerate.

The attack completely backfired. Within hours, large protests in solidarity with the movement erupted across Canada, in the United States and further internationally. Protests actions at the site continued in the days following, and a community-wide consultation on October 20 drew hundreds of people. The exploratory testing has been halted and pressure is now stronger than ever on the Conservative Party government of the province to declare a moratorium.

Similar problems for the industry were encountered by Enbridge Inc in Montreal and Toronto during recent hearings of the National Energy Board into the company’s proposal to begin shipping Alberta crude oil and tar sands bitumen through its existing Line 9 pipeline across southern Ontario to Montreal. The last day of the hearings in Toronto on October 19 where Enbridge was to present its concluding remarks ended abruptly when the company bolted for the doors rather than face its critics.

With questions surrounding oil transport by rail, gas fracking, Arctic development and the safety of the Enbridge Line 9 pipeline, it has been a difficult time for the fossil fuel industry. But as Canada tries to accelerate its natural resources development under Prime Minister Harper’s economic plan, more negative publicity can be expected. Public outcry is growing. Can it derail the madcap rush into expanding fossil fuel extraction fast enough to make a real difference to the looming climate dangers that scientists are warning against? •

Roger Annis is a writer in Vancouver BC and member of the recently-formed Vancouver Ecosocialist Group. He publishes a website at A Socialist in Canada and can be reached at [email protected]. This article first published in the Vancouver Observer, October 24, 2013.

 

The US is determined to strengthen the hand of the Syrian rebel forces in advance of any peace talks in order to change the alignment of forces.

The recent violence could be part of that strategy, Brian Becker, Director of Answer Coalition, told RT.

RT: From these latest developments, does it seem to you that the Syrian rebels are still confident they can win the war?

Brian Becker: Well they have the US and the most powerful military and intelligence agencies behind them but they have not been winning the battle, they’ve been losing the battle because the people in Syria don’t want them. They don’t want to live under their rule. It is a foreign funded civil war. There has been so much suffering caused by this civil war. So I do not think they will succeed but the attack in Damascus, the shutdown of Damascus, the power outage this is a terrorist act.

Right now John Kerry is very happy, Chuck Hagel is very happy, President Obama is happy – this is what their policy is, to fund, finance and coordinate through the joint special operations command and the CIA this kind of terrorist action against the people of Syria. What the people of Syria need is a settlement, a political solution, not more terrorism.

RT: Does it appear at this point, in your opinion, that the rebels will attend the Geneva 2 talks or will they continue fighting?

BB: They may do both. I think the policy of the rebels, so called moderate rebels who are the proxies of Western forces are really dictated by Washington, the CIA and the Pentagon. They are not an independent force at this point. They are dependent on money and arms from Western powers and they are taking the cue from them as well. You can see the terrorist actions that are taking place in Damascus could be part and parcel of a negotiations strategy also in Geneva wherever a peace conference or peace talks might take place. The US government is determined to strengthen the hand of the rebel forces even in advance of any peace talks because they want to be able to change the relationship of forces which right now are under the advantage of the Assad government and the Syrian government.

RT: What would need to change for these talks to eventually create a way out of this deadlock then?

BB: The real way the talks could be productive is if the Washington administration and the governments in Britain and France were to decide that they cannot militarily defeat the Assad government, that it is an impossible mission, that it was a fantasy to begin with, and that they would put additional pressure on those proxy forces who receive their arms and guns from Western powers to actually come to the negotiation’s table. That would probably be the political premise for some sort of a negotiated settlement. Clearly the Assad government, the Syrian government, the Russian government, those who oppose foreign intervention have said, and they are on the record, that they are for peace talks and some sort of transitional settlement but they are not going to be dictated to by the rebels or by Western powers and told Assad must go. They are not going to do that.

RT: Syria’s chemical weapons are in the process of being destroyed. How could this latest blackout and fighting affect these international efforts?

BB: I think they may be partly designed to carry out disruption of the weapons inspections, because the weapon inspectors have had all kind of trouble getting onto areas under rebel control where the chemical weapons munitions seemed to have been used. There has been a lot of near-misses, mortar attacks, shelling and other kinds of military disruptions of the weapons inspector’s program and I think much of it, almost all of it is coming from the rebel’s side because perhaps they have something to hide.


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Spying on Everyone: US Lacks Trust of Major World Leaders

October 30th, 2013 by Prof. James Petras

The White House is at a loss as it not only dependent on espionage in formulating its policies, but also nobody can trust its word anymore, former US Senate foreign policy analyst James Petras told RT.

The latest news on monitoring of phone calls in France, and probably German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own cellphone, brought anger from the French and German governments this week.

Top European politicians voiced a ‘lack of trust’ towards US on the summit in Brussels on Friday.

Watch the video to learn more.

Transcript:

RT: Does this come as a surprise to you that such a large number of world leaders were allegedly being monitored by the US?

James Petras: No, it doesn’t surprise me. I think the US has been doing this for quite a while and we’ve been hearing stories about it, the testimony. What I think is very revealing is the fact that the NSA got many of these phone calls, phone numbers and fax numbers and other confidential material from the White House as revealed in the memo. It was supposed to turn over the roll access, rolodex, listenings of confidential phone numbers from the Pentagon estate department and the White House.

So everybody was privy to the NSA tapping into and listening to the communications by top leaders. Moreover we have to raise the question of how did the US government act on the information they got how did they take that decisions, how did they intervene in politics at UN conferences and EU meetings.

I think the implications are enormous, the damage is accumulating and the White House is at a loss on how to control this for two reasons: one is they depended on this espionage in formulating policy and two they are now reaping the consequences in very damaged relations – nobody can trust the word of the White House now. They said they lied about the past, who gave them credibility in terms of their promises for the future. That’s the question that has been raised for the world today.

RT: What could that diplomatic fallout be after roll EU leaders meeting on Friday will be a lot of rhetoric a lot of words, but not much action so far. What could the consequences be for the US?

JP: Well I think the leaders in Europe have been working with Washington, they’ve been taking the lead from Washington for so long. Now they have to act on their own. Washington has forced the European countries to make decisions regarding their own security and they are in a quandary from past dependence to the necessity of taking initiatives now and I think the only road to take is to break with the euro security system, to break with the US communication system that requires investments, it requires political will, and it requires changing the relationship between the United States government and the European governments

RT: It is all coming from Edward Snowden, is it? What’s next?

JP: Well I think the next thing will be revealing exactly what kind of eavesdropping was taking place in regard to context and substance I think that’s really crucial. They say they listened to Angela Merkel. What did they listen to, what did they pick up, and how did it affect US policy with Germany? Did it result in US putting pressure Germany regarding the bailouts in Southern Europe, did this affect US policy influencing Germany to support the intervention in Syria? These are essential questions derived from the issue of espionage, is merely a tip of the iceberg. The deeper question is what information was secured this way and how did it change the US behavior to the countries that they were spying on.


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NSA asked Japan to tap regionwide fiber-optic cables in 2011

The U.S. National Security Agency sought the Japanese government’s cooperation in 2011 over wiretapping fiber-optic cables carrying phone and Internet data across the Asia-Pacific region, but the request was rejected, sources said Saturday.

The agency’s overture was apparently aimed at gathering information on China given that Japan is at the heart of optical cables that connect various parts of the region. But Tokyo turned down the proposal, citing legal restrictions and a shortage of personnel, the sources said.

The NSA asked Tokyo if it could intercept personal information from communication data passing through Japan via cables connecting it, China and other regional areas, including Internet activity and phone calls, they said.

Faced with China’s growing presence in the cyberworld and the need to bolster information about international terrorists, the United States may have been looking into whether Japan, its top regional ally, could offer help similar to that provided by Britain, according to the sources.

Read Complete article

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/27/world/nsa-asked-japan-to-tap-regionwide-fiber-optic-cables-in-2011/#.UnAI57m2jeT

Copyright Japan Times 2013

Back in 2008, Indian finance minister P. Chidambaram claimed that his government’s policies were pro growth and pro equity (1). He blamed an inept system of administering benefits to the poor for the low rate of ‘inclusive growth’. He also talked of the goal of alleviating poverty ‘in our lifetime’. What’s more, that the type of development being pursued was deemed to be more or less correct and adverse effects were mainly due to lax application of laws, public officials dragging their feet over changes and misplaced fear about policies causing poverty, not alleviating it.

 The minister also envisaged 85 percent of India’s population eventually living in well-planned, manageable-size cities with proper access to water, health, electricity, education, etc. Based on today’s population size, which is set to continue to rise, that would mean 600 million moving to cities and around 180 million people or their families eventually being directly dependent on agriculture for a living. He stated that urbanisation constitutes ‘natural progress’.

 While some argue that unconstitutional land takeovers, the trampling of democratic rights in order to pursue a nuclear energy agenda, increasing  and unsustainable resource usage, and air and water pollution all taking place under the guise of ‘growth’ are adding to the misery and disenfranchisement of the poor, the minister argued that, taking Orissa as an example, the poor there had been poor since the world dawned and that setting up a steel plant or mining the minerals there would only help their situation by providing employment and ultimately helping the area to develop.

After 22 years of neo-liberalism, how much weight do the arguments set out above hold?

The poverty alleviation rate is around the same as it was back in 1991 and even in pre-independence India (0.8 percent) (2), while the ratio between the top and bottom ten percents of the population has doubled during this period. According to the Organisation for Co-operation and Economic Development, this doubling of income inequality has made India one of the worst performers in the category of emerging economies (3).

There is an implicit and sometimes explicit assertion in some circles that anyone who questions the push towards urbanisation, privatisation and neo-liberalism in general, which Chidambaram’s model of development rests on, ‘lacks perspective’ or is stuck in an outdated mindset that romantics ‘tradition’ and resents ‘progress’ and the private sector.

Moreover, much mainstream thinking implies that shifting people from agriculture to what are a number of already overburdened, filthy, polluted mega-cities to work in factories, clean the floors of a shopping mall or work as a security guard improves the human condition. Or… to live in slum-like conditions and be unemployed or underemployed, given that 600 million plus are to be booted from the land to achieve Chidambaram’s 85 percent urbanisation figure. After all, there are only so many outscourced jobs to be had or mac-sector work to be done.

It is easy to fall prey to the belief that wholesale urbanisation is inevitable and should therefore be forced through by what Vandana Shiva criticises as being the biggest forced removal of people from their lands in history – and involving on the biggest illegal land grabbing since Columbus, according to a 2009 report commissioned by the rural development ministry and chaired by the then minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.

 Furthermore, if anyone understands history, it becomes apparent that urbanisation was not ‘natural’ and involved social engineering and deliberate policies and the unforeseen outcomes of conflicts and struggles between serfs, lords, peasants, landowners, the emerging bourgousie and class of industrialists, the state and the stealing and enclosing of land. The outcomes of these struggles resulted in different routes to modernity and levels of urbanisation (4,5).

 Of course, there is now a struggle taking place in India. The naxalites and Maoists in India are referred to by the dominant class as left wing extremists who are exploiting the poor. How easy it is to lump legitimate protesters together as such and create an ‘enemy within’. How easy it is to ignore the state-corporate extremism across the world that results in the central state abdicating its responsibilities by submitting to the tenets of the Wall Street-backed ‘structural adjustment’ pro-privatisation policies, free capital flows, massive profits justified on the basis of ‘investment risk’ and unaccountable cartels which aim to maximise profit by beating down labour costs and grabbing resources at the cheapest possible costs. That’s the real extremism. That’s the extremism that is regarded as anything but by the mainstream media.

The mainstream assumption is that the coal must be mined, the ore extracted, the steel produced and the rivers exploited in the name of ‘development’. But who controls this process, who benefits and just what type of development ensues?

 Tata, Essar and any number of wealthy corporations are handed over the rights to this process via secretive MoUs and the full military backing of the state is on hand to forcibly evict peoples from their land… all for their own good… all to fuel a wholly unsustainable model of development that not only forces folk from their lands, but strips the environment bare in the process and ultimately negatively impacts the climate and ecology. And the response: this is inevitable, this is progress, this is necessary because we have ‘the right’ to develop just as the West has and in their image and any social and environmental problems that ensue will be dealt with once we have ‘developed’… once it is too late.

Development, if it is to have any substance, is about the well-being of people. A number of well-being surveys indicate that happier societies invest heavily in health, welfare and education, are more equal and live within the limits imposed by the environment. Many less wealthy countries (and wealthy) do well in such surveys because cultural priority is placed on family and friends, on social capital rather than financial capital, on social equity rather than corporate power.

 The neo-liberal model of development runs counter to this.

 Due to the restructuring of agriculture in favour of Western agribusiness, over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997. And the corporate-controlled type of agriculture being imposed only leads to bad food, bad soil, bad or no water, bad health and bad or falling yields (6,7,8,9). Unconstitutional land grabs for SEZs, resource extraction, nuclear plants and other projects have additionally forced many others from the land.

 There are already 93 million urban slum dwellers in India. How many more if the 85 percent figure of people living in cities is to be achieved?

With economic growth apparently slowing from around eight to nine percent annually to estimates that vary between four and six percent, just where are the jobs going to come from to cater for India’s increasing population, never mind hundreds of millions of former agricultural workers?    

 It would be easy to conclude that farmers in India represent some kind of ‘problem’ to be removed from the land and a problem to be dealt with once removed. Since when did food producers, the genuine wealth producers, become a ‘problem’? The answer is when Western agribusiness was given the green light to take power away from farmers and uproot traditional agriculture in India and recast it in its own profiteering, corporate-controlled image. But this is who is really setting the agenda and constitutes part of the ‘progress’ and ‘natural’ move towards depopulating rural areas that Chidambaram spoke of.  

 And if it can’t be done via mass suicide and making it economically  non-viable to continue farming as a result of world trade policies, ‘free’ trade agreements and ‘structurally adjusting’ (ie plundering) traditional agricultural practices and economies to ultimately ensure petro-chemical farming (and thus oil and the US dollar (10)) remains king, let tens of thousands of militia into the tribal areas to displace hundreds of thousands, place 50,000 in camps and carry out rapes and various human rights abuses (11,12).

And if anyone perceives that this ‘natural progress’ is not based on acquiescing to foreign corporations, they should take a look at the current corporate-driven, undemocratic free trade agreement being hammered out behind closed doors between the EU and India (13,14,15).It all adds up to powerful trans-national corporations trying to by-pass legislation that was implemented to safeguard the public’s rights. Kavaljit Singh of the Madhyam research institute in India argues that we could see the Indian government being sued by multinational companies for billions of dollars in private arbitration panels outside of Indian courts if national laws, policies, court decisions or other actions are perceived to interfere with their investments; this is already a reality in many parts of the world whereby legislation is shelved due to even the threat of legal action by corporations (16). Such free trade agreements cement the corporate ability to raid taxpayers’ coffers even further via unaccountable legal tribunals, or to wholly dictate national policies and legislation.

Of course, the links between the Monsanto/Syngenta/Walmart-backed Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture and the US sanctioning and backing of the opening up of India’s nuclear sector to foreign interests (on the back of a cash for votes scandal in parliament (17)) have already shown what the models of ‘development’ being pushed onto people really entails in terms of the erosion of democracy and the powerful corporate interests that really benefit (18,19).

  Industrial developments built with public money and strategic assets, such as energy sources, ports, airports and seeds and infrastructure support for agriculture are being sold off. And how is this all justified? By reference to GDP growth – a single, narrow definition of ‘development’ – a notion of development hijacked by economists and their secular theology which masquerades as economic ‘science’.

In India, that dubious measurement in terms of India‘s GDP growth has now hit the buffers. Do people really believe India’s future lies in tying itself to a moribund system that has so patently failed in the West and can now only sustain itself by plundering other countries via war or ‘free trade’ agreements, which have little if anything to do with free trade? At best, it shows a lack of imagination. At worst, it displays complete subservience to elite interests at home and abroad.

So what might an alternative vision to forcibly removing 600 million from rural India under the current warped notion of development involve? There are many visions and strategies being pursued. But as a basic starting point, the following offers a credible option:

“… We are therefore committed to resist patents on seeds and life forms promoted by the TRIPS agreement of WTO which lead to the privatization of biodiversity and piracy of traditional knowledge… We are committed to promoting alternatives to non-sustainable agricultural technologies based on toxic chemicals and genetic engineering. We are committed to changing the rules of unfair trade force on small peasants through the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which are leading to destitution, debt and farmers suicides … Our mission is to promote organic fair trade, based on fairness to the earth and all her species, fairness to producers and fairness to consumers. We will… create another food culture, which respects diversity, local production and food quality… we are committed to creating a future of food and agriculture in which small farmers prosper and biodiversity and cultural diversity thrives… Biodiverse small organic farms increase productivity, improve rural incomes and strengthen ecological security. Large-scale industrial monocultures displace and dispossess small farmers and peasants, destroy the environment and create malnutrition and public health hazards. Our mission is to provide alternatives to a global food system, which is denying one billion people access to food and denying another 1.7 billion the right to healthy food, as they become victims of obesity and related diseases. Our mission is to provide “good food for all” through the promotion of biodiverse organic farming, food literacy and fair trade.” Navdanya Mission Statement (http://www.navdanya.org/about-us/mission)

The only way to roll back the power of corporations and their strategies outlined in the article is by being informed and actively resisting. If you live in the UK/Europe, to challenge the US-EU free trade agreement currently being negotiated, visit Coroprate Europe Observatory at:  http://corporateeurope.org/get-involved

Notes

1) http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main39.asp?filename=Ne310508cover_story.asp

2) http://ibnlive.in.com/news/india-is-prospering-indians-arent-aiyar/158081-60-120.html

3) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-16064321

4) Robert Brenner (1976), “Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-industrial Europe”.Past and Present 70

5) Barrington Moore (1993) [First published 1966]. Social origins of dictatorship and democracy: lord and peasant in the making of the modern world (with a new foreword by Edward Friedman and James C. Scott ed.). Boston: Beacon Press.

6) http://www.business-standard.com/article/markets/bt-cotton-losing-steam-productivity-at-5-yr-low-113020601016_1.html

7) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/309654/punjab-transformation-food-bowl-cancer.html

8) http://colintodhunter.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-future-is-local-future-is-organic.html

9) http://www.globalresearch.ca/india-genetically-modified-seeds-agricultural-productivity-and-political-fraud/5328227

10) http://english.pravda.ru/business/finance/17-05-2013/124594-dollar_crisis-0/

11) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salwa_Judum

12) http://www.infochangeindia.org/human-rights/no-mans-land/caught-between-the-maoists-and-the-salwa-judum.html

13) http://corporateeurope.org/coverage/india-eu-fta-talks-non-transparent

14) http://corporateeurope.org/trade/2013/05/court-ruling-over-privileged-access-business-eu-india-free-trade-talks

15) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-india-up-for-sale-to-western-corporate-capital/5332214

16) http://www.globalresearch.ca/free-trade-agreements-the-bypassing-of-democracy-to-institute-economic-plunder/5354197

17) http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main49.asp?filename=Ne020411Coverstory.asp

18) http://www.guernicamag.com/features/we-call-this-progress/

19) http://www.democracynow.org/2006/12/13/vandana_shiva_on_farmer_suicides_the


Insurance Companies Profit from Obamacare

October 30th, 2013 by James Hall

No one can reasonably deny that the major Insurance Companies were the driving force behind the writing of the Affordable Care Act legislation. “The health care industry spent nearly $500 million lobbying for health care issues in 2012, and $243 million so far in 2013.” Obamacare or Corporate-care: The Writing of the Affordable Care Act, sums up the process.

“Essentially, the ACA was designed to write the for-profit health care system into law, increase corporate profits, and to discourage people from demanding a health care system that would actually provide real health care coverage for all. The ACA wasn’t written to fix a broken system – it was written to ensure that the broken system would be kept in place. After all, from the standpoint of the health care industry, the system is working just fine for their profits.”

Obamacare-health-ins.-cc2-565x565.jpg

Since the public insurance providers are enjoying a jump in their stock values and a protected rise in premiums, the normal conclusion is that Obamacare is the big winner in the socialization of medicine. Before going any further, The Health Care Blog raises a curious issues regarding Obamacare in the article, Does Obamacare Limit Profits for Health Insurance Companies in Your State?

“The ACA imposes a minimum medical loss ratio (MLR) on all insurers. The MLR is the amount of money spent on covered person medical care divided by the total revenue received through premiums.

The ACA requires health insurers in the individual and small group market to spend 80 percent of their premiums (after subtracting taxes and regulatory fees) on medical costs. The corresponding figure for large groups is 85 percent.

Even though the MLR is a national law, it may not apply in your state. Why? Because many States are petitioning for a waiver.

Why did these States receive waivers? For a variety of reasons, but one of the reasons is due to the fact that some states have a less competitive medical market. Maine, for instance, requested a MLR of 65%. The reason was that State only has two large commercial insurers, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (with 49% of the market) and MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company (with 33% of the market).”

Now put this argument into a proper perspective. WHY should insurance companies profit at all, and WHY is it necessary for private companies to issue insurance for medical coverage to begin with?

Readers of Negotium know this series advocates free enterprise economics. However, the mandate requirements in Obamacare are nothing more than a guarantee for insurance companies to terminate current catastrophic coverage and offer highly expensive policies that include unnecessary treatment.

With this reality in mind, as the horror reports come in daily, sticker shock is forcing Middle America into untenable decisions. Add the practice of reducing employment to part time status and that train wreck is becoming more like the black plague.

The medical care alternative is not universal Medicaid for an impoverished population. However, the article Rush on Medicaid could spell trouble for ObamaCare’s health, cites “The Democrat and Chronicle newspaper reports that in New York, nearly 24,000 of the 37,000 newly enrolled residents are going into Medicaid, which millions of New Yorkers are already on. Just 13,313 chose private plans.”

Such blowback dooms the failed experiment. When your heart stops pumping, a bypass will not work. It is time to look for a transplant.

One such option outlined in the essay, Could nonprofit health insurance plans be the real reformers?, is a viable alternative would be the fostering of nonprofit health insurance CO-OPs (Consumer Oriented and Operated Plans) throughout the country.

The Affordable Care Act might even facilitate a medical graft.

“They could even hasten the day when the big investor-owned corporations cede the marketplace to nonprofits and move on to other ways of earning a profit.

The reform law provides a total of $3.4 billion in loans for local groups that meet high eligibility criteria, so several more prospective CO-OPs will be selected in the months ahead. We’re not talking about grants here. The start-up money must be repaid to the government — with interest. All of the CO-OPs will have to offer coverage through the Internet-based marketplaces (exchanges) the reform law requires states to establish by January 1, 2014.

If all goes as planned, every state will have at least one CO-OP. And there are reports that at least one plan already has negotiated a good rate with local hospitals by explaining how CO-OPs can help them reduce the amount of uncompensated care they incur every year by treating uninsured patients.”

In the real world, the lobbyists for the mega corporatists own the politicians. In spite of this influence, the uproar of the citizenry is building, by the fallout from the Obamacare weapon of mass destruction. The normal fallout shelters for the careerists “pols” will not protect them from the wrath of a sickly public, who cannot afford medical coverage.

Add to this diagnosis, Obamacare Causes Doctor to Retire.

“The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions survey of more than 600 physicians, which found “Six in 10 physicians (62 percent) said it is likely many of their colleagues will retire earlier than planned in the next one to three years.”

The prescription for a long-term solution is to promote alternative medicine that reduces a damaging dependency on pharmaceutical drugs. The side effect disclaimers need to extend to the practice of medicine itself. Excluding homoeopathy alternatives coverage from patient’s choice only perpetuates the for profit hospital model. Charity medicine, now viewed with the same disdain as bloodletting, by the medical establishment, is a prime causality of the Obamacare. The lobotomy culture never will cure the mental illness of the eugenics cult.

Insurance companies will play divine with their clout of who qualifies for payment of treatment. In an interview, The God Factor Interview, Obama states: “If there’s a senior citizen in downstate Illinois that’s struggling to pay for their medicine and having to chose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer even if it’s not my grandparent.” Well, your health insurance donors will not suffer, only the rest of us.

While the Israeli Lobby in Washington can go about their business to push for attacks on sovereign countries (the ultimate crime under international law) US authorities persecute anyone shining light on unlawful practices of the state (Kiriakou, Manning, Assange, Snowden and many more) or voicing any dissent.

The latest victim of this is 65 year old Rasmea Yousef Odeh. She faces 10 years imprisonment or deportation if convicted.

The US Palestinian Community Network writes about her:

Rasmea has dedicated her whole life to Palestine and Palestinian communities across the world, from her case management and social services work with internally displaced refugees after the 1967 Israeli occupation to her legendary status as an advocate for women’s rights and empowerment in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and now Chicago.  Her career spans close to five decades and her influence spans continents.

Early morning Tuesday, October 22nd, Rasmea was awakened at her home by a number of federal law enforcement agents, and then taken to federal court in Chicago, where she was charged with Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization for allegedly lying on immigration application questions back in 1994…..Rasmea failed to mention an arrest from over 40 years ago.  That arrest was ordered by an Israeli military court, the same system that allows almost no right to due process, and today holds hundreds of Palestinians without charge, under “administrative detention,” amongst over 7,000 political prisoners, including 179 children, in total.  That arrest was by an army in Palestinian territories that even the U.S. government says is illegal for Israel to militarily occupy.  And that arrest led to Rasmea being subjected to years of unspeakable, inhumane, and illegal torture by Israeli prison authorities.

For further information and how to support Rasmea go to

US Palestinian Community Network
www.uspcn.org + [email protected] + Twitter @USPCN

 R. Teichmann is an activist living in Ireland and editor of www.news-beacon-ireland.info 

Washington, D.C., October 29, 2013 – The CIA’s history of the U-2 spy plane, declassified this past summer, sparked enormous public attention to the U-2′s secret test site at Area 51 in Nevada, but documents posted today by the National Security Archive (www.nsarchive.org) show that Area 51 played an even more central role in the development of the U.S. Air Force’s top secret stealth programs in the 1970s and 1980s, and hosted secretly obtained Soviet MiG fighters during the Cold War.

Compiled and edited by Archive senior fellow Jeffrey T. Richelson, today’s e-book posting includes more than 60 declassified documents. Some of the documents specifically focus on Area 51 and the concern for maintaining secrecy about activities at the facility. Included is a 1961 memo (Document 1) from the CIA’s inspector general raising the issue of security, and a response (Document 2) reporting the shared concerns of the CIA Deputy Director for Plans, Richard Bissell. Security concerns led to consideration (Document 3) of photographing the area with U.S. reconnaissance assets and a debate (Document 4Document 5) over the possible release of a photograph of the facility taken by SKYLAB astronauts.

Bird of Prey. Photo credit: National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Other documents focus on the aircraft tested at the facility (and their operational use) — particularly the stealth F-117. Those documents include a variety of histories of the F-117 squadron, with details on participation in operations and exercises. In addition, there are extracts from two reports (Document 15Document 16) on accidents involving F-117 aircraft, as well as histories and assessments (Document 17Document 18,Document 23Document 36) of F-117 deployment in operations DESERT STORM and IRAQI FREEDOM. Also included are fact sheets (Document 58Document 59Document 60) concerning three programs, at least two of which were tested at Area 51 — the Bird of Prey and TACIT BLUE.

In addition to documents on F-117 operations, a number of documents focus on the development of stealth capability. One of those (Document 10), is the mathematical analysis by Russian physicist and engineer P. Ya. Ufimtsev that former Lockheed Skunk Works director Ben Rich called “the Rosetta Stone breakthrough for stealth technology.”

Also represented in the posting is another type of activity at Area 51 — the exploitation of covertly acquired Soviet MiGs. Included is a 300-page Defense Intelligence Agency report (Document 50) on the exploitation of the MiG-21, a project titled HAVE DOUGHNUT. Other documents (Document 51Document 52) concern the exploitation effort concerning two MiG-17s, efforts named HAVE DRILL and HAVE FERRY.

TACIT BLUE. Photo credit: National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Area 51 has the been the focus of enormous interest among a significant segment of the public for decades — an interest that inevitably spawned books, articles, and a variety of documentaries.1 For some enthusiasts Area 51 was a clandestine site for UFOs and extraterrestrials, but it is better understood as a U.S. government facility for the testing of a number of U.S. secret aircraft projects — including the U-2, OXCART, and the F-117. Declassified documents help demonstrate the central role that Area 51 played in the development of programs such as the F-117, and the operational employment of the aircraft. Other declassified documents reveal Area 51′s role in testing foreign radar systems and, during the Cold War, secretly obtained Soviet MiG fighters.

Area 51

On April 12, 1955 Richard Bissell and Col. Osmund Ritland flew over Nevada with Kelly Johnson in a small Beechcraft plane. Johnson was the director of the Lockheed Corporation’s Skunk Works, which, as part of a secret CIA-Air Force project, codenamed AQUATONE by the CIA and OILSTONE by the Air Force, was building a revolutionary spy plane, designated the U-2. Bissell, CIA head of the project, Ritland his Air Force deputy, Johnson, and Lockheed’s chief test pilot, were looking for a site where the plane could be tested safely and secretly.2

During the trip they discovered, near the northeast corner of the Atomic Energy Commission’s (AEC) Nevada Proving Ground, what appeared to be an airstrip near a salt flat known as Groom Lake. After examining the location from the ground, the four agreed that it “would make an ideal site for testing the U-2 and training its pilots.” Upon returning to Washington, Bissell discovered that the land was not part of the AEC’s proving ground — leading him to ask the commission’s chairman to make the Groom Lake area an AEC possession, a request which was readily granted. President Eisenhower approved the plan, and the territory, known by its map designation — Area 51 — was added to the Nevada Test Site.3 The site acquired several other designations. Kelly Johnson, in order to make the remote location seem more palatable his workers began referring to it as Paradise Ranch, which was then shortened to the Ranch. An additional unofficial name would be Watertown Strip — a consequence of the need to build a paved runway so that testing could continue when rainwater runoff from nearby mountains made it impossible to land on Groom Lake. By July 1955, the base was ready and personnel from the CIA, Air Force, and Lockheed began to arrive.4

Within a year the U-2 program would transition to an operational program, with flights initially over Eastern Europe and then the Soviet Union. Bissell and other senior officials anticipated that the U-2 would have a limited life before becoming vulnerable to Soviet air defense systems. Before the end of 1958 they had launched Project GUSTO to find a successor to the U-2, which resulted in the selection of another Lockheed-designed plane, the A-12 or OXCART— which was to fly higher than the U-2, far faster (over Mach 3), and be harder for air defense radars to detect.5

In November 1959, a little over two years before the first A-12 arrived at Area 51 in late December 1961, a radar test facility was established there — the result of contractor Edgerton, Germeshausen & Greer (EG&G) agreeing to move its Indian Springs, Nevada test facility to Area 51. Its purpose was to determine the vulnerability of an OXCART mockup to detection. Area 51 would also become the home to testing programs for two OXCART derivatives — the YF-12A KEDLOCK fighter plane and the Air Force’s Project EARNING, which ultimately produced the SR-71 (also designated SENIOR CROWN) reconnaissance aircraft — as well as the D-21 TAGBOARD drone that was expected to be launched from A-12 aircraft.6

In September 1961, a few months before the first OXCART arrived, the site was visited by CIA Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick, who conveyed his findings (Document 1) to Richard Bissell — who had become the CIA’s Deputy Director of Plans in the summer of 1958, with continued responsibility for the CIA’s secret aircraft projects through his directorate’s Development Projects Division (DPD). Kirkpatrick wrote that his “visit left reservations in my mind.” One was that the “‘Area’ appears to be extremely vulnerable in its present security provisions against unauthorized observation” — including air observation. In addition, Kirkpatrick suggested that the project had reached a stage “where top management at the ‘Area 51′ needs consolidation with clear and precisely defined authority.” Finally, he questioned “the survivability of the program’s hardware when and if employed in actual operations.”

Bissell’s off-the-cuff reactions were reported in an October 17 memo (Document 2) from Bissell’s assistant to the acting chief of the DPD. The author reported Bissell’s belief that Kirkpatrick’s points about area security were “well taken,” his lack of strong reaction to the comment about site management, and his questioning whether the inspector general’s comment about OXCART vulnerability was “appropriate” for Kirkpatrick “to get himself involved in.” With regard to the issue of security Bissell “was particularly interested in why we have not yet been able to eject the various [deleted] holding property around the Area.”

Concern about maintaining secrecy for activities at the site persisted as illustrated by an April 6, 1962 memo (Document 3) from DPD executive officer John McMahon to the division’s acting chief. He reported that he and another DPD official (John Parangosky) had earlier discussed the idea of employing a U-2 to produce images of the area and asking photographic interpreters to determine what was happening at the site. But given, the upcoming scheduled launches of CORONA reconnaissance satellites, McMahon noted that “it might be advisable” to include a pass crossing the Nevada Test Site, “to see what we ourselves could learn from satellite reconnaissance of the Area.” That and later missions could be used to assess what deductions the Soviets could make “should Sputnik 13 have a reconnaissance capability.”

A dozen years later, it was not Soviet reconnaissance that resulted in interagency discussions and memos concerning exposure of Area 51 activities via overhead imagery. Rather it was the inadvertent imaging of the area by American SKYLAB astronauts. Among the memos was one (Document 4) from Robert Singel, the National Reconnaissance Office’s deputy director, concerning the on-going internal government controversy. Another memo (Document 5) provided Director of Central Intelligence William Colby with the latest information on the internal debate and identified key questions that needed to be answered before a final decision was made.7

During the mid-1970s another issue was whether the CIA should continue Area 51; its major aerial reconnaissance programs, such as the U-2 and OXCART, no longer needed the site, but the Air Force still needed the site for radar testing, development of stealth aircraft, and exploitation of Soviet MiG aircraft that the U.S. had acquired. The National Security Council decided that the Air Force should take over the site. According to a memo (Document 6) from deputy director of central intelligence, E.H. Knoche to the Air Force’s chief of staff, David C. Jones. Knoche, the National Security Council’s Committee on Foreign Intelligence had approved the recommendation “that management of Area 51 be transferred from CIA to Air Force by FY-78.”

Eventually, the transfer would take place, and the Groom Lake facility became Detachment 3 of the Air Force Flight Test Center, whose headquarters were at Edwards Air Force Base, California.8

By the mid-1990s, the existence of Area 51 had become widely known — and the subject of threatened legal action because of environmental concerns. Seeking to prevent that from resulting in revelations about activities conducted at the site President Bill Clinton signed a presidential determination exempting the “Air Force’s operating location near Groom Lake, Nevada from any Federal, State, interstate, or local hazardous or solid waste laws that might require disclosure of classified information concerning that location to unauthorized persons” — a determination he reported to congressional leaders (Document 8) on January 30, 1996. In September 2003 President George W. Bush made a similar determination, in the form of a memorandum (Document 9) to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Stealth Fundamentals

A key element of the work done at Area 51 was testing the ability of the reconnaissance and other aircraft deployed there to evade radar detection. In some cases the work was based on measures developed after the aircraft was developed — as exemplified by the failed RAINBOW project aimed at reducing the Soviet ability to detect U-2′s during their spy flights.9 In other cases, designers gave the aircraft certain stealth (low-observable) features — in some cases, based on elaborate theoretical work.

During the mid-1970s government and contractor experts studied the problem of reducing the radar cross section of aircraft. Included was a paper (Document 11) by Lockheed’s Kelly Johnson that focused on high altitude aircraft such as the SR-71. In addition, Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical (Document 12) reported on a number of aspects of producing a low-observable vehicle. Another contractor, Boeing reviewed “features of airborne vehicle configurations that have a primary influence on the resulting radar signature.”(Document 13). Based on testing results, the Boeing expert discussed the impact of features — including engine inlets, nose shape, body shape, exhaust nozzles, control surfaces, weapons, wing location, and fuselage shape — on radar cross section.

By June 1991, Air Force work on stealth had resulted in a number of projects that it summarized in a review of the technology that it had just conducted. A briefing book (Document 14) discussed fundamentals about stealth, its value, and the four different Air Force programs — the F-117, B-2, F-22, and Advanced Cruise Missile.

The first of those programs, and the unconventional shape of the aircraft produced, had its origins in a 1962 work (Document 10) by Russian theoretical physicist (and electric engineer) Pytor Ufimtsev — which did not spur the Russian air force to either classify the work or make use of it. The paper, Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction, when translated by the Air Force Foreign Technology Division in 1971 would consist of over 200 pages of mathematical analysis. A foreword explained that Ufimtsev studied the scattering characteristics of “reflecting bodies with abrupt surface discontinuities or with sharp edges.” He took into account “the laws of geometric optics …, the additional currents arising in the vicinity of the edges or borders which have the character of edge waves and rapidly attenuate with increasing distance from the edge or border.”

Ben Rich, Kelly Johnson’s successor as head of the Lockheed Skunk Works, would report in his memoirs that one afternoon a “Skunk Works mathematician and radar specialist named Denys Overholser … presented me with the Rosetta Stone breakthrough for stealth technology.” Overholser had found the breakthrough in Ufimtsev’s paper and explained that the Ufimtsev had demonstrated “how to accurately calculate radar cross sections across the surface of the wing and at the edge of the wing and put together these two calculations for an accurate total.”10

From HAVE BLUE to the F-117

F-117. Photo credit: National Museum of the United States Air Force.

A first step in trying to convert Ufimtsev’s theoretical results into an operational stealth aircraft was an Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) project, began in the early 1970s. Designated HAVE BLUE, it resulted in two experimental aircraft, with a first flight in April 1977. The Air Force launched a program, designated SENIOR TREND, to build the F-117 in November 1978; it eventually produced 59 aircraft. A first flight, presumably at Area 51, took place in June 1981, and the Air Force declared the F-117 operational in October 1983 with Tonopah Test Range as its new home. Ten years later, in November 1988, the government confirmed the existence of the plane, revealed its designation, and released a picture of the aircraft.11 In the two years before declassification the program experienced two crashes (Document 15Document 16) that took the lives of the pilots.

Once it was declared operational, the F-117 was available for use in combat operations. The Air Force nearly used it in the 1986 attacks on Libya, ordered by President Reagan in response to Libyan involvement in the La Belle Disco bombing in West Berlin, but ultimately did not because of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s reluctance to reveal the plane’s existence. 12 First combat use would come three years later — in Operation Just Cause (Document 19Document 22) — the operation to unseat and seize Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.

But the major use of the F-117 in combat activity took place in operations targeting sites in Iraq, beginning with Operation DESERT STORM. These operations were the subject of an official chronology (Document 17), an Army War College essay (Document 18) and the official history of the 37 th Fighter Wing (Document 19). The General Accounting Office (GAO) conducted a critical examination of the stealth fighter’s effectiveness (Document 23) as part of its evaluation of the air war. The GAO found that the F-117 bomb hit range was “highly effective” — varying between 41 and 60 percent — but it did not reach the 80 percent claimed by the Defense Department.

Other histories of the F-117 wing (which had become the 49th Wing by 1996) included accounts of its participation in a variety of exercises as well as its use for coercive diplomacy. According to one history (Document 26) F-117s were deployed to Southwest Asia twice between July 1 and December 31, 1998 for Operations DESERT THUNDER and DESERT FOX. Both were ordered in response to Iraqi non-compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions, but did not result in combat operations. In 1999, F-117s did go into combat — in the Balkans — a subject that was discussed in the January – June 1999 history (Document 27) of the 49th Fighter Wing. Much of the treatment is redacted from the released version, although the declassified version reports that after the first round of strikes on March 24, 1999, General William Lake told his commanders “everyone is back safely. So far the score is F-117s 10, Yugoslav’s 0.”13

Deployments to South Korea and Southwest Asia, including use during the Iraq War, as well exercises, are covered in histories (Document 34Document 37) for 2003 and 2004. The 2003 history (Document 34) and a history — Black Sheep Over Iraq (Document 36) — focus solely on F-117 operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Black Sheep history covers orders to deploy for combat, the attempted decapitation strike intended to kill Saddam Hussein, subsequent combat missions, and an assessment of F-117 performance in the war.

The Soviets and Stealth

The Soviet military may not have initially embraced Ufimtsev’s work, but it was inevitable, because of both internal and external influences, that they would eventually explore its use for their own aerial programs and for counteracting U.S. stealth aircraft. During the 1980s, if not before, the Intelligence Community and CIA closely reviewed those issues.

In January 1983 former DPD executive officer John McMahon (Document 3), then the Deputy Director for Central Intelligence, informed the director of the Intelligence Community Staff (Document 38) that he had asked the Deputy Director of Intelligence for an assessment of Soviet stealth technology.

A little over a year later, the Directorate of Intelligence produced a study (Document 40) entitledSoviet Work on Cross Section Reduction Applicable to a Future Stealth Program. The assessment examined Soviet radar cross section technology and a variety of potential applications to submarines, reentry vehicles, aircraft, spacecraft, cruise missiles, and ground vehicles.14 Among its key judgments was that “the Soviets did not have a Stealth program in the 1970s” but that “because of the high US interest in this area, the Soviets probably began intensified research effort in the early 1980s, which may have led to a developmental program now under way.”15

The same month that the CIA produced that assessment the Agency’s continued interest in further work on Soviet stealth efforts was indicated by a memo (Document 42) from Julian C. Nail, the National Intelligence Officer for Science and Technology, to Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey. Nail observed that the topic was on the agenda for a National Foreign Intelligence Board meeting in early March 1983, memos were being prepared for Casey to send to each principal indicating the importance he attached to the subject, and that the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research was seeking to enhance its analysis of the subject, mainly by getting additional clearances so the CIA analysts could learn about U.S. research and development efforts.

How the Soviets might react to U.S. stealth programs was the subject, in August 1985, of a special national intelligence estimate (Document 43) — Soviet Reactions to Stealth. Two key sections of the estimate focused on the counter-stealth potential of current and near-term Soviet systems (including early warning radar, fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missile, antiaircraft artillery, and command, control, and communications systems) and future Soviet technical responses. Another section examined prospective Soviet stealth developments — including the process of incorporating stealth vehicles in Soviet military planning and the acquisition and use of stealth technology.

One indication that the Air Force may have limited the knowledge and the ability of U.S. intelligence analysts to use classified data on U.S. stealth research and development efforts was a figure labeled “Design Considerations for Stealth Aircraft” (p.8). Despite the figure’s Top Secret classification, it was, as acknowledged in a credit line adjacent to the figure, lifted from an issue ofAviation Week & Space Technology. Moreover, that figure was based on speculation what , at the time, the rumored stealth fighter might look like — speculation that proved to be considerably wide of the mark.

CIA Support to US Stealth Programs

In addition to assessing Soviet stealth programs, the CIA and other elements of the Intelligence Community provided U.S. stealth efforts with intelligence on Soviet forces and capabilities that was relevant to developing U.S. stealth vehicles and plans for their use. Thus, in a February 1, 1984 memo (Document 45) the director of the CIA Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (OSRW) reported that intelligence support for the U.S. stealth program included an analysis on “the Soviet threat to an Air Force Tactical Air Command Program in November 1983.”

A month later the OSWR director reported the number of new clearances (25) that were necessary to implement the stealth analytical effort (Document 47) Beyond the total clearances needed, the director indicated the offices involved and the specific topics to be examined. Thus, air defense and aircraft systems specialists at OSWR would work on stealth penetration analysis studies, specialists in the Office of Soviet Analysis would conduct strategic studies related to the implications of stealth capabilities, and other specialists in OSWR would examine Soviet weapons and technology.

MiGs at Area 51

Besides secret U.S. aircraft work, Area 51 also hosted the study of secretly acquired Soviet MiG fighters. The first effort involved a MiG-21, designated “Fishbed-E” by NATO. Israel acquired the plane in August 1966 when a captain in the Iraqi air force defected, landing the MiG at an airbase in northern Israel — an action that been arranged in advance by the Mossad, Israel’s secret intelligence service. From January 23, 1968 to April 8, 1968 the plane was loaned to the U.S. Air Force.16

The MiG, in the Air Force’s temporary possession, received a new designation — the YF-110 — and Area 51 became its new home. The exploitation effort, conducted by the specialists from the Air Force Foreign Technology Division (today known as the National Air and Space Intelligence Center) was designated HAVE DOUGHNUT. One report focused on technical characteristics of the plane, while another was a tactical evaluation. The latter (Document 50) had four primary objectives: (1) evaluating of the effectiveness of existing of existing tactical maneuvers by the Air Force and Navy combat aircraft and associated weapons against the MiG-21, (2) exploiting the tactical capabilities and limitations of the MiG-21 in air-to-air combat, (3) optimizing existing tactics and develop new tactics to defeat the MiG-21, and (4) evaluating the design, performance, and characteristics of the MiG-21. The exploitation reports spelled out the findings (includingDocument 50) with historical retrospectives about the effort prepared later (Document 48,Document 49).

Two other late 1960s exploitation efforts at Area 51 — both focused on evaluating the MiG-17 — were designated HAVE DRILL and HAVE FERRY. The HAVE DRILL MiG-17 began flying at Groom Lake on February 17, 1969 and flew 172 sorties over 55 days. The HAVE FERRY aircraft, which served as backup to the HAVE DRILL aircraft, began flying on April 9, 1969 and flew 52 sorties over 20 days.17 As with the HAVE DOUGHNUT effort it resulted in a technical report and a tactical report (April 1970). The results were also the subject of two more recent briefings by (Document 51 and Document 52) by NASIC representatives.

While the HAVE DOUGHNUT and HAVE DRILL/HAVE FERRY efforts are the ones whose details have been declassified, they were not the last of MiG exploitation efforts at Area 51. Under a program designated CONSTANT PEG, the Air Force tested other MiGs — acquired by a variety of means — to determine their capabilities and vulnerabilities. In the 1970s the effort moved to Tonopah Test Range, about 70 miles northwest of Area 51.18

Radar Tests & Other Aircraft

Other aspects of Area 51 activities included tests of covertly acquired Soviet-radar systems. In November 1970, a project designated HAVE GLIB, referred to in a 1976 memo (Document 6), began. According to one account “a complex of actual Soviet systems and replicas” grew around Slater Lake, a mile northwest of the main base. The Air Force gave the systems such names as Mary, Kay, Susan, and Kathy and arranged them to “simulate a Soviet-style air defense complex.”19

Subsequent to the declassification of the F-117 program, the Air Force managed two other aircraft programs at Area 51, but neither led to the production of operational fleet. Both have been partly declassified, with only some photos and fact sheets providing a few details about these secret programs.

One plane, developed by Northrop along with the Air Force and DARPA, was the TACIT BLUE battlefield surveillance plane (Document 56Document 58) also known as the “Whale.” Work began in 1978 and it first flew at Area 51 in February 1982, with the program concluding in 1985 — by which time it had been flown 135 times. The Air Force fact sheet (Document 58) reports that the objective was to “demonstrate that curved surfaces on an aircraft result in a low radar return signal” and states that TACIT BLUE “demonstrated that such an aircraft could operate close to the battlefield forward line without fear of being discovered by enemy radar.”20

The other, a plane built by the McDonnell-Douglas “Phantom Works” was known as the BIRD OF PREY, after its resemblance to the Klingon spacecraft from Star Trek. The Air Force declassified its existence in 2002, because, according to the fact sheet (Document 59), “its design techniques had become standard practice.” The fact sheet described the plane as a single-seat stealth technology demonstrator used to test stealth techniques and “new methods of aircraft design and construction.” The project, which ran from 1992 to 1999, with the first flight in 1996, included 38 flights altogether.21

Two additional projects that may have been connected to Area 51 were associated with the May 2, 2011 raid that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. One was the stealth helicopter that carried the Navy SEALs to the Abbottabad compound. The other was the RQ-170 stealth drone that had been used to monitor developments at the compound.22 A very brief fact sheet (Document 60) describes the RQ-170 as “a low observable unmanned aircraft system” intended to provide “reconnaissance and surveillance in support of the joint forces commander.”


THE DOCUMENTS

AREA 51

Document 1: Letter, Lyman Kirpatrick to Richard Bissell, October 13, 1961. Secret.

Source: CIA Records Search Tool (CREST), National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.

This letter from the CIA’s Inspector General to the Deputy Director for Plans reports on his visit to the Development Projects Division (responsible for the U-2 and OXCART programs) “Area” — that is, Area 51. The topics covered include security arrangements (which Kirkpatrick considered inadequate), on-site management, and the survivability of the “program’s hardware when and if employed in actual operations.”

Document 2: [Deleted], Assistant to the DD/P, Memorandum for: AC/DPD, Subject: Inspector General’s Memorandum on His Trip to the Area, October 17, 1961. Secret.

Source: CREST.

This memo reports on Bissell’s “off-the-cuff” reactions to Kirpatrick’s letter (Document 1). While he embraced Kirpatrick’s comments on security, he had no strong reaction to his comments concerning on-site management, and questioned the proprietary of an inspector general commenting on the issue of OXCART vulnerability.

Document 3: John N. McMahon, Executive Officer, DPD, Memorandum for: Acting Chief, DPD, Subject: Aerial Observation of Area 51, April 6, 1962. Secret.

Source: National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Release.

This memo from the DPD’s executive officer to its acting chief discusses the possibility of having Area 51 photographed by either a U-2 or CORONA spy satellite — as a means of estimating what the Soviet Union might learn from its own overhead images of the facility.

Document 4: Robert D. Singel, Memorandum for Chairman, COMIREX, Subject: [Deleted] SKYLAB Photograph, April 11, 1974. Top Secret.

Source: National Reconnaissance Office

This memo from the deputy director of the NRO to the chairman of the Director of Central Intelligence’s Committee on Imagery Requirements and Exploitation is the result of a photograph taken by SKYLAB astronauts of Area 51. It discusses some of the issues to be considered in deciding whether to release the photograph.

Document 5: [Deleted], Memorandum for: The Director of Central Intelligence, Subject: SKYLAB Imagery [Deleted], April 19, 1974. Confidential.

Source: CREST.

This memo to DCI William Colby, notes that the SKYLAB photograph of Area 51 was acquired inadvertently and that instructions had been issued not to photograph the facility. It also reports that the photo is the subject of an interagency review and that there was widespread opposition to its release.

Document 6: E.H. Knoche, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, to General David C. Jones, Chief of Staff, United States Air Force, August 26, 1976. Secret.

Source: National Archives and Records Administration.

This letter discusses whether the CIA should continue to be responsible for the management of Area 51 or if the Air Force should assume responsibility. It identifies HAVE GLIB — the evaluation of foreign radar and threat systems — as the largest Defense Department project at the site at that time.

Document 7: United States Air Force, Det 3 SP, n.d. Unclassified/For Official Use Only.

Source: Editor’s Collection.

This document is widely reported to be a manual for Detachment 3 of the Air Force Security Police, responsible for security at Area 51. It specifies the cover story to be employed by members of the security force to explain their activities.

Document 8: William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders on Presidential Determination 95-45, January 30, 1996. Unclassified.

Source: www.gpo.gov.

This letter from President Clinton, notes that his determination exempted the Air Force’s operating location “near Groom Lake, Nevada from any Federal, State, interstate, or local hazardous or solid waste laws that might require the disclosure of classified information concerning that operating location to unauthorized persons.”

Document 9: George W. Bush, Memorandum for the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Presidential Determination No. 2003-39, Subject: Classified Information Concerning the Air Force’s Operating Location Near Groom Lake, Nevada, September 16, 2003. Unclassified.

Source: www.whitehouse.gov

This memorandum reaffirms President Clinton’s 1995 presidential determination (Document 8).

STEALTH FUNDAMENTALS

Document 10a10b10c: P. Ya. Ufimtsev, Methods of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction, 1971. Unclassified.

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release

Ufimtsev’s 1962 work, translated by the Air Force Foreign Technology Division (today, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center), provides the fundamental theoretical/mathematical basis for the F-117.

Document 11: Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, “Reduction of Radar Cross Section of Large High Altitude Aircraft,” n.d. (but circa 1975). Classification Not Available.

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release.

Most of this paper, written by the first head of the Lockheed Skunk Works, who supervised development of the U-2 and A-12 (OXCART), consists of figures related to the brief discussion of the relationship between stealth and aircraft shape.

Document 12: R. W. Lorber, R. W. Wintersdorff, and G.R. Cota, AFAL-TR-74-320, Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical, Low-RCS Vehicle Study, January 31, 1974. Secret.

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release.

This report describes the research performed by Teledyne Ryan under an Air Force contract on low-radar cross section aerial vehicles as well as some of the results obtained.

Document 13: John D. Kelly, Boeing Aerospace Company, “Configuration Design for Low RCS,” September 1, 1975. Secret.

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release.

This paper discusses the impact on the radar cross section of aircraft of the design of different regions of the vehicle — including the nose, tail, broadside — as well as the impact of skin material. It also discusses the design a low RCS missile.

Document 14: Department of the Air Force, Air Force Stealth Technology Review, 10-14 June 1991, n.d.

Source: www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/Science_and_Technology/Other/263.pdf.

This briefing book consists of five tabs, which concern the value and evolution of stealth, the F-117, the B-2, the F-22, and the advanced cruise missile.

F-117 OPERATIONS

Document 15: Major General Peter T. Kemp, Commander, USAF Tactical Fighter Warfare Center, to TFWC/JA, Subject: Aircraft Accident – F-117, 81-0792, July 11, 1986, January 14, 1987. Secret/Special Access Required. Secret w/att: Report of Investigation (Extract).

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release.

This extract provides a statement of facts concerning the fatal crash of a F-117A aircraft on July 11, 1986. It covers, inter alia, crew qualifications, the history of the flight, the mission, the briefing and preflight, the flight, impact, rescue, and crash response.

Document 16: Lt. Col. John T. Manclark, 57 FWW/AT, Nellis AFB, N, AFR 110-14 USAFAircraft Accident Investigation Board, 14 October 1987 – Tonopah Test Range , December 8, 1987. Secret/Special Access Required.

Source: Air Force Freedom of Information Act Release.

This extract is a summary of facts concerning the October 14, 1987 crash of a F-117A that claimed the life of its pilot. As with the report of the on the July 1986 crash (Document 15), it covers —inter alia — crew qualifications, the history of the flight, the mission, the briefing and preflight, the flight, impact, rescue, and crash response.

Document 17: Harold P. Myers, Office of History, 37th Fighter Wing, Twelfth Air Force, Tactical Air Command, Nighthawks over Iraq: A Chronology of the F-117A Stealth Fighter in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, January 9, 1992. Unclassified.

Source: Editor’s Collection.

A two-page introduction is followed by a 32-page chronology of F-117A information related to operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, from August 17, 1990 to February 28, 1991. The information include concerns personnel, deployments, administrative matters, exercises, and operations (pp. 8-36).

Document 18: Arthur P. Weyermuller, Stealth Employment in the Tactical Air Force (TAF) – A Primer on Its Doctrine and Operational Use (Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: U.S. Army War College, 1992). Unclassified.

Source: www.dtic.mil

This study focuses on the history of stealth development, the roles and missions of the F-117A and its performance during Desert Storm, and an assessment of how stealth technology fits into Air Force aerospace doctrine. It also discusses next generation stealth aircraft, specifically the F-22 fighter and B-2 bomber.

Document 19: Vincent C. Breslin, 37th Fighter Wing, History of the 37th Fighter Wing, 5 October 1989 – 31 December 1991, Volume 1 – Narrative, May 22, 1992. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

In addition to a chronology of events, this history includes a discussion of the creation of the 37thFighter Wing (established to replace the covert group established to oversee development of the F-117A while it was still a classified program), the “quest for normalization,” F-117 operations in Panama (Operation Just Cause) and Iraq (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), and events from the end of Desert Storm to the end of 1991.

Document 20a20b: Vincent C. Breslin, 37th Fighter Wing, History of the 37th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 8 July 1992, Closeout, Volume 1 – Narrative, August 11, 1992. Classification Not Available.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

The 37th Fighter Wing (Document 19) at Tonopah Test Range was inactivated on July 8, 1992, with F-117A fighters being transferred to a new unit, based at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. This history contains a discussion of the inactivation, fully redacted sections on mission revision and an operational readiness exercise – as well as treatments of the the employment of the F-117A in airshows, transfer of aircraft to Holloman, and a number of other topics.

Document 21a: Office of Public Affairs, Department of the Air Force, Fact Sheet 93-11, F-117A Stealth Fighter, November 1993. Unclassified.

Document 21b: Department of the Air Force, Fact Sheet, F-117 A Nighthawk, October 2005. Unclassified.

Sources: Air Force Office of Public Affairs, www.af.mil

These fact sheets, issued twelve years apart, describe the mission, features, background, and general characteristics of the F-117A. The second fact sheet contains details of the plane’s employment in Desert Storm, the Balkans, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Document 22: Ronald H. Cole, Joint History Office, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Operation Just Cause: The Planning and Execution of Joint Operations in Panama, February 1998 – January 1990, 1995. Unclassified.

Source: www.dtic.mil.

The focus of this history is the involvement of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Joint Staff in the planning and direction of combat operations in Panama. Part of the history discusses the decision to use the F-117A as part of the operation — its first operational use — and its employment.

Document 23: General Accounting Office, GAO/NSIAD-97-134, Operation Desert Storm: Evaluation of the Air Campaign, June 1997. Unclassified.

Source: General Accounting Office.

This study focuses on the use and performance of aircraft and other munitions in Desert Storm, including the F-117, the validity of Defense Department claims about weapon systems’ performance (particularly systems using advanced technology), the relationship between weapon system cost and performance, and the extent to which Desert Storm air campaign objectives were satisfied. Among its findings was that while F-117 bomb hit range varied between 41 and 60 percent, which the report characterized as “highly effective,” the range was less than the 80-percent rate report after the war by the Defense Department.

Document 24: Gregg S. Henneman and David Libby, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49thFighter Wing, 1 July 1996 – 31 December 1997, Narrative, Volume No. 1, May 28, 1998. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

With the inactivation of the 37th Fighter Wing (Document 20) and transfer of the F-117A fleet to Holloman AFB, they were assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing. This history focuses on mission and organization, operations and training (including operations against Iraqi targets, and partcipation in the Red Flag 97-1 exercise), and aircraft upgrades.

Document 25: Gregory S. Henneman, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 30 June 1998, Narrative, Volume No. 1, October 22, 1998. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

As with the history for the preceding eighteen months (Document 24) the main focus of this history is mission and organization and operations and training. In addition to its discussion of F-117A deployment to Southwest Asia in response to developments in Iraq the history also discusses several exercises — Spirit Hawk ’98 (described as “the Air Force’s first ever low observable combat exercise”), Combat Hammer 98-04 (a weapons system evaluation program exercise) — as well as deployment in support of Fighter Weapons Instructor Course.

Document 26: Gregory S. Henneman, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 July – 31 December 1998, Narrative, Volume No. 1, May 19, 1999. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

This history discusses deployments to in support of operations in the Balkans and Southwest Asia. The two Southwest Asia deployments — Operation Desert Thunder and Operation Desert Fox — were in response to Iraqi non-compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions and did not result in combat operations.

Document 27: William P. Alexander and Gregory S. Henneman, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 30 June 1999, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

This history follows the standard format for 49th Fighter Wing histories — covering mission and organization, operations and training, and maintenance. The chapter on operations includes a discussion of the F-117A deployment to Europe and its use against Serbian targets.

Document 28: William P. Alexander and Gregory S. Henneman, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 July – 31 December 1999, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

In addition to discussing the role of F-117A aircraft in two exercises — Spirit Hawk 99 at Mountain Home Air Base, Idaho and EFX at Nellis AFB, Nevada — the history also contains a discussion of upgrades to the F-117, including an upgrade to the infrared acquisition designation system that “would allow F-117 pilots to ‘look’ through clouds, greatly increasing the aircraft’s capability.”

Document 29: William P. Alexander and Tracey S. Anderson, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 30 June 2000, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

The primary deployment discussed in this history was a deployment to Nellis Air Force Base, to take part in a “firepower demonstration” called CAPSTONE. It involved two F-117As dropping GBU-10 bombs on specified targets.

Document 30: William P. Alexander, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 July – 31 December 2000, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

The history’s discussion of operations and training includes examination of two exercises that involved F-117A participation – RED FLAG 01-01 and CAPSTONE. The first is described as “the first low observable (LO) integrated RED FLAG exercise to be flown of Nellis AFB.” The latter involved, as did the identically named exercise in the first half of the year (Document 29), F-117A’s dropping two GBU-10 bombs on specified targets.

Document 31: William P. Alexander, 49th Fighter Wing, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 30 June 2001, Narrative, Volume 1 , January 28, 2003. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

As with earlier 49th Fighter Wing histories, this one discusses mission and organization, operations and training, and miscellaneous activities (including maintenance). While there were no operational deployments, the history reports on the deployment of aircraft, equipment, and personnel to several bases around the United States as well as F-117A involvement in RED FLAG 01-02.

Document 32History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 July – 31 December 2001, n.d., Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

This history covers mission and organization and deployments of the 49th Fighter Wing.

Document 33: William P. Alexander and Terri J. Berling, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 31 December 2002, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Unclassified/For Official Use Only.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release.

Despite its classification this history is heavily redacted, but does discuss F-117A participation in a European theater exercise named Operation Coronet Nighthawk.

Document 34: William P. Alexander and Terri J. Berling, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 31 December 2003, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release

Among the topics examined in this history are F-117A deployments to the Middle East (and subsequent participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom) and South Korea as well as F-117A participation the Foal Eagle (Korea) and Red Flag (Nellis Air Force Base) exercises.

Document 35: Department of the Air Force, Air Force Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures 3 -3.18, Combat Aircraft Fundamentals, F-117, October 19, 2004. Unclassified/For Official Use Only.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release

This manual is intended to provide “aircrew the information need to make the right decisions during any phase of a tactical mission.” Its chapters cover mission preparation, formation, aircraft basics and instruments, air-to-surface elements of a mission, air refueling, low altitude operations, night and adverse weather operations, and night systems.

Document 36: Gregg Henneman, Black Sheep Over Iraq: The 8th Fighter Squadron in Operation Iraqi Freedom, November 2004. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release

This study explores the role of F-117A aircraft in the 2003 conflict with Iraq. In addition to an examination of the F-117A background, it examines the orders to deploy the F-117A for combat, the attempted decapitation strike, subsequent combat missions, maintenance, and assessment of F-117 performance, and redeployment.

Document 37: William P. Alexander and Terri J. Berling, History of the 49th Fighter Wing, 1 January – 31 December 2004, Narrative, Volume 1, n.d. Secret.

Source: Air Combat Command Freedom of Information Act Release

This history contains a chronology of 49th Fighter Wing activities, and chapters on mission and organization, operations — including an extensive discussion of F-117A deployment to South Korea and participation the Eagle Flag 2004/0B exercise — and mission capability for the F-117A and other aircraft.

THE SOVIETS AND STEALTH

Document 38: John N. McMahon, Memorandum for: Director, Intelligence Community Staff, Subject: Soviet Stealth Technology, January 10, 1983. Secret.

Source: CREST.

This brief memo from the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence notes that he had asked the Deputy Director for Intelligence (Robert Gates) to produce a paper on Soviet stealth technology.

Document 39: Lawrence K. Gershwin, Memorandum for: Director of Central Intelligence, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Subject: Briefing on Soviet Stealth Efforts, January 30, 1984. Secret.

Source: CREST.

This memo notes that the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council had asked the National Intelligence Officer for Strategic Programs, Lawrence K. Gershwin, to prepare, in conjunction with the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (OSWR), a briefing for Senator Sam Nunn on Soviet stealth technology.

Document 40: Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, SW 84-10015,Soviet Work on Radar Cross Section Reduction Applicable to a Future Stealth Program, February 1984. Secret.

Source: CREST.

This the two main sections of this assessment cover Soviet radar cross section technology (including the theoretical base, measurement capability, materials, and transfer of technology) and applications (to submarines, reentry vehicles, aircraft, spacecraft, cruise missiles, and ground vehicles). The key judgments section states that the authors “feel certain that the Soviets did not have a Stealth program in the 1970s” but that “the Soviets probably began an intensified research effort in the early 1980s which may have led to a developmental program now under way.”

Document 41: Julian C. Nail, National Intelligence Officer for Science and Technology, Note for the Director, Subject: Soviet Low Observable (Stealth) Technology, February 23, 1984. Secret.

Source: CREST.

This note to the Director of Central Intelligence summarizes efforts under throughout the Intelligence Community to produce assessments and other products concerning Soviet stealth technology.

Document 42: Julian C. Nail, Memorandum for: Director of Central Intelligence, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Subject: Distribution of SNIE on The Soviet Reactions to Stealth, July 24, 1985. Secret

Source: CREST.

This memo concerns limiting the distribution of the a special national intelligence estimate on Soviet reactions to stealth. The author suggests that rather than distributing 50 copies the estimate should be disseminated to 37 offices/individuals.

Document 43: Director of Central Intelligence, SNIE 11-7/9-85/L, Soviet Reactions to Stealth, August 1985, Top Secret .

Source: CIA Electronic Reading Room.

This estimate is described as “an effort to assess at the national level the Soviet capability and intention to respond to the US [stealth] challenge.” Topics covered in the discussion include the concept of stealth, the counter-stealth potential of current and near-term Soviet systems, future Soviet technical responses, ballistic missile defenses, other defense options, prospective Soviet stealth developments, research facilities, aerodynamic systems, ballistic missile systems, and intelligence gaps.

Document 44: Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, US Stealth Programs and Technology: Soviet Exploitation of the Western Press, August 1, 1988. Secret.

Source: CIA Historical Review Program Release.

This paper examines the intersection of Soviet examination of Western press reports on U.S. stealth efforts and indigenous Soviet work in the area.

CIA STEALTH EFFORTS

Document 45: [Deleted], Director of Scientific and Weapons Research, Memorandum for: Deputy Director for Intelligence, Subject: CIA’s Stealth Efforts [Deleted], February 1, 1984, w/att: CIA Intelligence Support to US Stealth Programs, Secret/Noforn.

Source: CREST.

The attachment to the February 1, 1984 memo notes that the CIA’s Office of Scientific and Weapons Research had been providing direct support to US stealth efforts since 1980 and provides specific examples. It also describes “several initiatives … to better support policy makers.” The February 1 memo outlines that the author believes “we have done well, what we have not done, and recommendations for future support.”

Document 46: William J. Casey, Memorandum for: Deputy Director for Intelligence, Subject: CIA’s Stealth Efforts, February 2, 1984. Secret

Source: CREST.

This memo is DCI Casey’s response to the February 1 and its attachment.

Document 47: [Deleted], Director of Scientific and Weapons Research, Memorandum for: Director of Central Intelligence, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Subject: Implementation of CIA’s Stealth Analytical Effort, March 1, 1984.

Source: CREST.

This memo reports on the number of clearances necessary for the CIA to carry out the analytical program concerning stealth suggested by the Director of the Office of Scientific and Weapons Research. It indicates the both the national intelligence and CIA entities that would be involved as well as the specific topics to be investigated.

EXPLOITATION

Document 48: Thomas R. Woodford, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, HAVE DOUGHNUT Tactical Evaluation, n.d. Unclassified.

Source: www.dreamlandresort.com/black_projects, permission of T.D. Barnes

This briefing reports on the 1968 tactical evaluation effort designated HAVE DOUGHNUT – which focused on a MiG-21 aircraft provided to the U.S. by Israel. The purpose of the effort was to evaluate the effectiveness of Air Force and Navy tactical maneuvers against the MiG-21, optimize tactics and develop new ones needed to defeat MiG-21s, and evaluate the design, performance, and operation characteristics of the MiG-21.

Document 49: Rob Young, Project HAVE DOUGHNUT – Exploitation of the MIG-21, n.d. Unclassified.

www.dreamlandresort.com/black_projects, permission of T.D. Barnes

This briefing covers, inter alia, the background of the HAVE DOUGHNUT effort (Document 48,Document 50)data on sorties flown; lessons learned; the positive features, shortcomings, and unique design features of the MiG; and Air Force and Navy responses to the findings.

Document 50: Defense Intelligence Agency, FTD-CR-20-13-69-INT, Volume II, Have Doughnut (U) Tactical, August 1, 1969.

Source: www.scribd.com

This 310-page report, produced by the Air Force Foreign Technology Division, on behalf of DIA, presents the detailed results of the tactical evaluation, the MiG-21 obtained from Israel. The report focused on evaluating the effectiveness of existing tactical maneuvers by Air Force and Navy combat aircraft and associated weapons against the MiG-21. It also was intended to exploit tactical capabilities and limitations of the MiG-21 in aerial combat and help optimize existing tactics and develop new tactics to defeat the MiG-21.

Document 51: Thomas R. Woodford, HAVE DRILL/HAVE FERRY Tactical Evaluation, n.d., Unclassified.

Source: www.dreamlandresort.com/black_projects, permission of T.D. Barnes

This briefing on the 1969 exploitation of a MiG-17 provides weapon system highlights, key statements by Air Force and Navy officials – as well as the evaluation, general conclusions, and recommendations of the Tactical Air Command and Navy.

Document 52: Rob Young, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, HAVE DRILL/HAVE FERRY – Exploitation of the Soviet MiG-17F, n.d. Unclassified.

Source: www.dreamlandresort.com/black_projects, permission of T.D. Barnes

This briefing describes the specifics of the exploitation efforts, designated HAVE DRILL and HAVE FERRY, of two versions of the Soviet MiG-17F fighter plane. It specifies the versions of the plane in the possession of the Foreign Technology Division (now the National Air and Space Intelligence Center), U.S. test equipment, the testing effort, and lessons learned.

ODDS & ENDS

Document 53: Department of Defense Instruction S-5230.19, Subject: PROJECT HAVE NAME Security Classification Guide, July 2, 1979. Secret.

Source: Department of Defense Freedom of Information Act Release.

This heavily redacted instruction from 1979 may pertain to an aircraft or radar testing program (similar to HAVE GLIB, Document 6) at Groom Lake.

Document 54: “Stealth,” August 29, 1980. Top Secret.

Source: Record Group 59, PPS Records of Anthony Lake, 1977-1981, August 1980, National Archives and Records Administration.

This memo, found in the Anthony Lake’s State Department file for the 1977-1981 years, is an attempt at stealth humor.

Document 55: Walter D. Clark, Northrop Grumman Corporation, United States Patent, No. 7,108,230 B2, Aircraft with Topside Only Spoilers,

September 19, 2006. Unclassified.

Source: www.spacepatents.com/patented_inventions/pat7108230.pdf.

This patent is for a low-observable aircraft with improved roll control characteristics.

Document 56DARPA Technology Transition (Arlington, Va.: Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, 1997), Unclassified.

Source: www.darpa.mil

These pages from this DARPA history cover the stealth fighter, TACIT BLUE (Document 53) and HAVE BLUE/F-117 programs.

Document 57: EAFB Instruction 31-17, Security Procedures for Inadvertent Tracking and Sensor Acquisition of Low Observable and Sight Sensitive Programs, November 14, 2005. Unclassified.

Source: Federation of American Scientists (www.fas.org).

This instruction from the commander of Edwards Air Force Base in California assigns agency responsibilities “during inadvertent or unauthorized tracking of sight-sensitive and low observable (LO) tests assets within the R-2508 complex located at Edwards.” It also notes that “it is strictly forbidden to train tracking sensors … on any LO or sight sensitive assets.”

Document 58: National Air Force Museum Fact Sheet, Northrop Tacit Blue, n.d. Unclassified.

Source: www.nationalmuseum.af.mil

This fact sheet provides basic details on the history of the TACIT BLUE surveillance aircraft (Document 51), that flew at Area 51, but was never put into production. It also provides data on the planes specifications and perofmance.

Document 59: U.S. Air Force, Fact Sheet, Boeing Bird of Prey, n.d. Unclassified.

Source: www.nationalmuseum.af.mil

This fact sheet provides a short history of the Bird of Prey aircraft developed by the McDonnell-Douglas Phantom Works (later acquired by Boeing). It provides information on the length of the program, its first flight, the number of flights, and the purpose of the program.

Document 60: U.S. Air Force, Fact Sheet, RQ-170 Sentinel, December 10, 2009. Unclassified.

Source: www.af.mil.

This very brief fact sheet acknowledged the existence and mission, of the RQ-170 drone – which had been spotted in use over Afghanistan and had been referred to as the “Beast of Kandahar.”


Notes

[1] Among the non-fiction books on Area 51, are David Darlington, Area 51 – The DreamlandChronicles: The Legend of America’s Most Secret Military Base (New York: Henry Holt, 1997); Phil Patton, Dreamland: Travels Inside the Secret World of Roswell and Area 51 (New York: Villard, 1998); Annie Jacobsen, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top SecretMilitary Base (Boston: Little, Brown, 2011). For a critical review of Jacobsen’s book, see Robert S. Norris and Jeffrey T. Richelson, “Dreamland Fantasies,” Washington Decoded(www.washingtondecoded.com), July 11, 2011. Also, see Peter W. Merlin, “It’s No Secret – Area 51 was Never Classified,” available at www.dreamlandresort.com/pete/no_secret.html.

[2] Gregory Pedlow and Donald E. Welzenbach, The Central Intelligence Agency and OverheadReconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954-1974 (Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 1992), p. 56. The history is available at:www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB434, posted on August 15, 2013.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., p. 57.

[5] Ibid., p. 274.

[6] Ibid., pp. 274, 284. The OXCART, KEDLOCK, TAGBOARD, and SR-71 Programs will be the subject of a future electronic briefing book.

[7] For the SKYLAB incident see, Dwayne Day, “Astronauts and Area 51: The Skylab Incident,” The Space Review (www.thespacereview.com), January 9, 2006.

[8] Trevor Paglen, Blank Spots: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World (New York: Dutton, 2009), p. 41.

[9] Pedlow and Welzenbach, The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance, p. 129-130, 259.

[10] Ben R. Rich and Leo Janos, Skunks Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed(Boston: Little, Brown, 1994), pp. 19-20. Overholser was one of three authors of a patent (5,250, 950) filed on February 13, 1979 (which they assigned to Lockheed) for a low-observable aircraft.

[11] Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Technology Transition (Arlington, Va.: DARPA, n.d., but circa 1998-2000), p. 66.

[12] Rich and Janos, Skunk Works , p. 96.

[13] Use in the Balkans resulted in the loss of one plane, which was turned over to Russia, although the pilot was recovered. See Darrell Whitcomb, “The Night They Saved Vega 31,” Air Force Magazine , December 2006, pp. 70-74.

[14] The United States investigated the employment of stealth characteristics in satellites, ships, and missiles – specifically, the MISTY imagery satellite, the SEA SHADOW surface vessel, and the advance cruise missile. See, Jeffrey T. Richelson, “Satellite in the Shadows,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 2005; “Sea Shadow,” www.lockheedmartin.com, accessed October 21, 2013;Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Technology Transition, p. 115.

[15] Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, Soviet Work on Radar CrossSection Reduction Applicable to a Future Stealth Program , February 1984, p. iii.

[16] Ian Black and Benny Morris, Israel’s Secret Wars: A History of Israel’s Intelligence Services, (New York: Grove, Weindenfeld, 1993), pp. 206-207; John Lowery, “Have Doughnut,” Air Force Magazine , June 2010, pp. 64-67; T.D. Barnes, “Exploitation of Soviet MiGs at Area 51,”http://area51specialprojects.com/migs_area51.html, accessed November 20, 2010.

[17] Barnes, “Exploitation of Soviet MiGs at Area 51.”

[18] ”Air Force declassifies elite aggressor program,” November 13, 2006, www.af.mil. For histories of the effort see: Gaillard R. Peck, Jr., America’s Secret MiG Squadron: The Red Eagles of CONSTANT PEG (Long Island, N.Y. Osprey, 2012); Steve Davies, Red Eagles:America’s Secret MiGs (Long Islands, N.Y.: Osprey, 2008).

[19] ”Slater Lake,” Roadrunners Internationale Monthly House Six News and Gossip , October 1, 2008, p. 8.

[20] For an account of the TACIT BLUE effort, see Peter Grier, “The (Tacit) Blue Whale,” Air Force Magazine , August 1996.

[21] For an account of the BIRD OF PREY program, see Bill Sweetman, “Bird of Prey,” Popular Science , January 2003, pp. 44-49.

[22] Sean D. Naylor, “Mission helo was secret stealth Black Hawk,” www.armytimes.com, May 4, 2011.

Obamacare Sticker Shock

October 30th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Obama sold smoke and mirrors. He makes used car salesmen look respectable by comparison. His Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides unaffordable coverage.

Millions of households have to pay 40% or more out-of-pocket. It’s for co-pays and deductibles. It’s on top of costly premiums.

Coverage for 50-year-olds making $46,100 is $10,585. Co-pays and deductibles add up to another $6,250.

Healthcare in America is double its cost in other developed countries. It’s increasingly less affordable. Little is done to constrain annual price hikes. It wasn’t always this way. A previous article explained.

In 1960, healthcare as a percent of GDP was 5.1%. In 2002, it was 15%. In 2011, it was 17.9%. By 2020, it’ll exceed 20%.

Between 1960 and 2009, average annual healthcare spending rose from $147 per person to $8,086. It reflected a 55-fold increase.

In inflation-adjusted 2010 dollars, it increased annually from $1,082 to $8,218 – a 7.6-fold rise.

In 1942, Christ Hospital, NJ charged $7 per day for a maternity room. Today it’s $1,360.

In 1980, a typical US hospital room cost $127. Today it’s multi-times higher.

A 2011 survey of 11 Ohio hospitals found daily hospital room prices ranged from $688 – $2,425. Cost averaged $1,393. The median price was $1,322.

ACA escalates costs higher. Doing so prices millions out of expensive care when it’s most needed. Others will get much less than they expected.

They can get whatever they want by paying for it out-of-pocket. Most households can’t do so.

Over 23% of Americans are unemployed. Rigged Department of Labor numbers claim otherwise.

Most others are underemployed. Main Street is suffering from protracted Depression level conditions.

Most working Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. They barely earn enough to get by. Many can’t do so without help. Safety net protections are being cut. Millions of working households are impoverished.

They can’t afforded anything more than bare bones healthcare. It leaves them woefully uninsured or underinsured against catastrophic illnesses.

Insurers and other predatory providers game the system for profit. Healthcare is a fundamental human right.

Obamacare commodifies it more than ever. It’s a huge provider giveaway. It shifts costs unfairly to consumers. Healthcare giants wrote the law that way.

Obama asked them to draft legislation Congress would pass. It’s one of the all-time greatest scams. It makes consumers pay for what insurers should provide. For them it’s the holy grail. For ordinary people it’s a matter of life, debt or death.

ACA rips off Americans. It’s a healthcare rationing scheme. It offers inadequate or unaffordable coverage. It scams instead of protects. It leaves millions uninsured entirely. It leaves America’s most disadvantaged in no-man’s land.

It’s part of Obama’s plan to destroy social America. He’s in lockstep with Republicans and most Democrats. They want it entirely eliminated.

They want it dismantled piece by piece. They’re turning America into a dystopian backwater. It’s no longer fit to live in.

Depriving people of healthcare when most needed is a crime against humanity. Add another to Obama”s rap sheet.

Prepare for sticker shock. America’s media noticed. On October 13, the Chicago Tribune headlined “Obamacare deductibles a dose of sticker shock.”

If “33-year old single father (Adam Weldzius) wants the same level of coverage next year he has now with the same insurer and the same network of doctors and hospitals, his monthly ($233) premium will more than double.”

“If he wants to keep his monthly payments in check, (he’s) looking at an annual deductible for himself and his 7-year-old daughter of $12,700.”

It’s triple the $3,500 he’s currently paying. Many Illinoisans face the same dilemma. They’ll pay thousands more dollars next year for coverage. Most will get less bang for the buck.

A Tribune analysis showed 21 of the 22 lowest cost Cook County Illinois exchange plans have annual individual deductibles exceeding $4,000 for individuals and $8,000 for families.

Consumers must pay these costs before insurance benefits begin. They’re much higher than what millions can afford. They’re not what they expect or deserve.

Suburban Chicago insurance broker Rich Fahn calls Obamacare a “major sticker shock for most of my clients and prospects.”

“I’m telling (them) that everything they know historically about health plans has changed.”

“They either have to pay more out-of-pocket or more premiums or both. It’s an overwhelming concern.”

It’s impossible for millions to cope. They’re priced out of vital care.

Cook County plans with cheapest monthly premiums have deductibles up to $6,250 for individuals and $12,700 for families. It’s the maximum Obamacare allows.

On October 26, the Los Angeles Times headlined “Some health insurance gets pricier as Obamacare rolls out.”

Californians “are discovering what Obamacare will cost them – and many don’t like what they see.”

Sticker shock confronts them. “(E)xperts say sharp price increases have the greatest potential to erode public support.”

Some households may forego coverage. Penalties are cheaper than having it. Defections in large enough numbers could cause rates to skyrocket more than already.

Anthem Blue Cross president Pam Kehaly got a letter from an irate policy holder. She “was all for Obamacare until (she) found out” she faces a 50% rate hike. It’s before huge deductibles and co-pays.

Obama’s “(i)f you like your plan, you can keep it” was one of his many lies. His verbatim 2009 promise was:

“So let me begin by saying this: I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage. They like their plan and they value their relationship with their doctor.”

“And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.”

“If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

He lied! Insurers are canceling millions of policies. They don’t comply with Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions. They involve much higher costs.

According to healthcare expert Bob Laszewski, about 16 million Americans will lose their current coverage because of Obamacare.

Rules are very complex. Older grandfathered plans must comply with stringent rules.

“(I)f you had an individual plan in March of 2010 when the law was passed and you only increased the deductible from $1,000 to $1,500 in the years since, your plan has lost its grandfather status and it will no longer be available (when it’s) renewed in 2014.”

“Millions of people are now receiving letters from their carriers saying they are losing their current coverage and must re-enroll in order to avoid a break in coverage and comply with the new health law’s benefit mandates – the vast majority by January 1. Most of these will be seeing some pretty big rate increases.”

Obama promised lower ones. At a February 2008 Columbus, Ohio campaign stop, he said:

“We are going to work with you to lower your premiums by $2,500.”

“We will not wait 20 years from now to do it, or 10 years from now to do it. We will do it by the end of my first term as president.”

At yearend 2012, premiums were about $3,000 higher. It’s a $5,500 differential.

Annual increases are certain. Healthcare already is unaffordable for millions. Many more will be priced out ahead.

At best, they’ll get inadequate bare bones coverage. At worst, it’ll be too little to matter when it’s most needed.

On March 23, 2010, Obama signed ACA into law. Insurers began hiking premiums accordingly.

In 2011, they rose 9.5%. Experts attributed much of the hike to Obamacare. It assures escalating higher prices. Federal mandates increase them dramatically. Consumers bear the cost.

So far, about 1.5 million Americans lost coverage. Millions more will without plans complying with Obamacare mandates.

Most Americans will be way underinsured because plans offering proper coverage are unaffordable.

Employers are substituting part-time/temp workers for full-time ones. Doing so lets them cut or eliminate healthcare coverage.

It forces employees to buy their own. Sticker shock awaits them. Serious illness may kill them. Fast food healthcare doesn’t work.

What good is insurance forcing policy holders to pay for treatments they can’t afford? Obamacare works for providers, not people.

It’s lose-lose for them. It forces them into coverage. It doesn’t work when most needed. It leaves them high and dry on their own.

It makes healthcare increasingly less affordable. Incomes have been stagnant for decades. They don’t keep pace with inflation.

It’s rising far more annually than artificially rigged low numbers. Millions more will be priced out of vitally needed care. Inability to get it assures pain, suffering and death.

A Final Comment

On August 22, 2012, Illinois State Senate candidate Barbara Bellar summed up Obamacare in one notable sentence, saying:

“We’re going to be gifted with a healthcare plan we are forced to purchase, and fined if we don’t, which purportedly covers at least 10 million more people, without adding a single new doctor, but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a congress that didn’t read it, but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a president who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, for which we will be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect, by a government which has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that’s broke.”

Note: Bellar’s comments weren’t entirely right. Social Security and Medicare aren’t bankrupt. They work as intended. They’ve done so for decades. They’re sound and secure if properly administered. They’re targeted for elimination.

Bellar was close enough on most of what she said. She made her point.

She’s a Republican. She’s a former nun. She’s a small business owner. She supports transparency, accountability and ethics reform in government.

She’s no one’s puppet, she says. She’s an attorney and family practice physician.

She has a way with words. She treats patients “from cradle to grave, from diapers to diapers, from womb to tomb.”

Her Obamacare summation went viral on YouTube. It didn’t help.

She defeated her 2012 primary challenger. She lost decisively in November’s general election.

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

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/obamacare-sticker-shock/

NATO Reform Strengthens Germany’s Role

October 30th, 2013 by Sven Heymann

Though coalition talks between the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) have only just begun, Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière has already presented a new plan for NATO.

It envisages Germany assuming a leading role in the military alliance. Only six weeks after the federal election, it is clear that the new government will have a far more aggressive foreign policy, seeking to lead the country back into the ranks of the major military powers.

The proposal of de Maizière, who is currently defense minister until a new government is formed, was accepted by a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels last week. It proposes that member states develop and finance their military capabilities collectively rather than independently, before making them available to the entire alliance. For this purpose, an undetermined number of countries will be brought together in “clusters”, each of which will be led by a responsible nation.

Along with countries like Britain, France and Italy, Germany is to assume such a leading role for the smaller member states. Under the direction of the leading states, the aim is the development of joint projects. This could include arms production or joint command centres. Plans for the joint fuelling of planes while they are airborne, or arms trading, are also reportedly under consideration. The model is the division of occupied Afghanistan into several regional military commands.

For years, German imperialism remained somewhat reluctant to engage militarily. The Afghan mission was sold in 2001 as a humanitarian operation to dig wells. The word “war” was considered taboo in official politics for years. After opposing the Iraq war in 2003, Berlin subsequently abstained when NATO attacked Libya in 2011. This is now viewed as a serious mistake, which cannot be repeated under any circumstances.

The German bourgeoisie and leading business interests now view more aggressive German participation in future military interventions as essential. In February, it was announced that major German corporations had formed an alliance for raw materials to press the German government to secure trade routes and access to raw materials.

While the parties held back during the election campaign for tactical reasons, there is not a day that goes past without commentary in the media calling for German intervention in Syria. In the weeks since the federal elections, the Left Party has also announced its support for military operations by the German army.

Besides German economic interests, the “precarious situation of the United States” also plays an important role in the NATO reform, Spiegel Onlinewrites. In the past, the virtually unlimited US defence budget secured for the US military a leading role in NATO. However, given its economic and financial crisis and the increasing number of US wars and military interventions, Washington is calling for more support and a spreading of responsibilities among the different NATO powers.

Berlin views the United States’ decline as an opportunity to assume a more prominent role in NATO and in future wars. Only in August, a bombardment of Syria by the United States and its allies seemed unavoidable. However, the unexpectedly strong opposition by the American population blocked the plans of the Obama administration. Instead the United States made an agreement with Russia, cutting across the interests of France and Saudi Arabia.

Representatives of other states praised de Maizière’s reform proposal for NATO. British Defence Minister Phillip Hammond spoke of a “good initiative.” Britain and above all the United States have repeatedly called for Germany to play a stronger military role for years, because their own military capacities have regularly been stretched to the limit by Middle East wars. NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen also thanked de Maizière’s state secretary for the German initiative.

Although at first glance the proposal appears to intensify cooperation within NATO, it will in the final analysis deepen the tensions between the major powers. As “insiders” explained on the side-lines of the defence ministers’ meeting, the new strategy could lead to competition between the arms industries of the leading states. If a particular weapons system is developed under one major power, it is likely that the other member states in that cluster would buy it.

France supported the German proposal only at the last minute. Along with its increasing rivalry with Germany, France repeatedly raised the question of whether smaller states in a German-led cluster could rely on Germany to lead responsibly. Germany had in the past been very reluctant to intervene, and the sending of troops always was dependent on a parliamentary vote, they pointed out.

There are several discussions within the German bourgeoisie over the parliamentary restriction.

The parliamentary restriction is one of the last remaining limitations which is placed on the German army. Although the army belongs to the executive branch of government in Germany, it is actually a parliamentary army, since troop deployments must be approved by a majority of the federal parliament. Like France, other allies see this as a barrier to Germany’s reliability as a state with leading responsibilities in NATO.

In an opinion piece entitled “parliamentary army and alliance capabilities” by the SWP think-tank, Ekkehard Brose, the ministerial director in the office for foreign affairs, pointed to the current dilemma for German foreign policy last month. In order to be able to play a leading role within the structures of NATO in the future, he suggested limiting the parliamentary restriction. The participation of German soldiers in reconnaissance and its responsibility to lead should be “secured by law, without regard to the specific case.”

Brose’s proposal aims to effectively guarantee of the participation of the German army in future wars. In the reform of parliamentary powers which he demands, the parliament would be stripped of all powers except that of deciding to withdraw troops from war zones.

Defence minister de Maizière made a similar suggestion during the first round of coalition talks with the SPD. CDU deputy parliamentary leader Andreas Schockenhoff stated that military operations carried out within the framework of the EU should be exempt from parliamentary authorisation, so that the government could decide on them alone.

Although the SPD responded dismissively at first, with General Secretary Andrea Nahles stating that the parliament’s power to decide would not be altered, they do not have a principled stance against the proposal. Only last year, SPD chairman Sigmar Gabriel suggested that the Social Democrats could make concessions. One had to be prepared to give up sovereignty step by step in the areas of security and defence policy, he explained at the Petersburg dialogue.

The previous defence spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Rainer Arnold, was more explicit on his party’s stance. Although he opposed a reduction of the authority of parliament, he also tried to allay doubts of Germany’s NATO allies as to its reliability. In any case, the German parliament would be ready to vote within two or three days, which would be much quicker than troops could actually be sent, he said.

De Maizière’s NATO reform plan and the debate on lifting parliamentary control over military missions are bound up with Germany’s increasingly aggressive foreign and military policy. In the face of the increasingly aggressive approach to foreign policy and the domestic attacks on the social and democratic rights of the population, the future government will come into sharp conflict with the working class. They will act just as ruthlessly towards the population at home as their soldiers do abroad as soon as the class struggle takes on a more open form.

Appearing Tuesday before the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander defended the NSA’s blanket surveillance programs, including its wiretapping of the heads of governments of US allies.

The intelligence chief’s testimony came amidst a mounting international diplomatic crisis following revelations that the NSA tapped the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel for more than ten years, part of a surveillance program that also targeted at least 34 other government leaders. Trans-Atlantic tensions were compounded by reports that the NSA recently collected telephone and text message data on 70 million Frenchmen and 60 million Spaniards in the space of one month.

The latest revelations of illegal mass spying by the United States, stemming from documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have prompted protests from US allies such as Germany, France and Spain as well as the European Union. A delegation from the European Parliament is already in Washington, meeting with American congressional and administration officials, and separate visits from German intelligence officials and EU representatives are in the offing.

The fallout from the diplomatic crisis within the American state and political establishment is spreading. The Obama administration and Democratic Party leaders have launched an effort to limit the political damage and distract the public from the essential issue in the spy program revelations—the exposure of flagrantly unconstitutional policies and the development of the apparatus of a police state in America.

The administration has told the press that Obama knew nothing of the bugging of Merkel and other government heads until last June, when an internal review of NSA programs ordered in the wake of the initial revelations by Snowden brought the practice to his attention. Obama reportedly suspended the programs at that time.

This story, which the president evidently told Merkel in a private conversation last week, has been contradicted by unnamed current and former intelligence officials, who told the Los Angeles Times that long-standing protocols required that such information be made known to the State Department as well as the White House.

Administration officials denied a statement Monday by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (Democrat of California) that White House officials had told her Obama would order a halt to intelligence collection in friendly countries. Instead, administration sources said Obama was merely considering curtailing spying on leaders of allied nations.

In a television interview Monday, the president broadly defended the NSA surveillance programs, saying, “The national security operations, generally, have one purpose and that is to make sure the American people are safe and that I’m making good decisions.” At the same time, he and other White House spokesmen have talked in vague terms of imposing restraints on the programs and making them more “transparent,” in order to win the trust and confidence of the American people.

As far as Obama and both big business parties are concerned—as well as the corporate-controlled media—the crisis does not arise from the destruction of democratic rights, but rather the exposure of the state conspiracy against those rights, and the growing anger of the population, which is deeply opposed to such police state measures.

The entire establishment is fearful of the further discrediting of the political system in the eyes of the people. The exposure of the bugging of friendly foreign leaders, in particular, makes all the more absurd the official mantra that mass spying on the populations of the US and the world is motivated by the desire to protect the American people from terrorist attack.

Tuesday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing provided a demonstration of the bipartisan support of both big business parties for the military/intelligence agencies and the blanket spying programs that have been sanctioned by the White House and Congress. The hearing was jointly staged by the Republican chairman of the committee, Mike Rogers of Michigan, and the ranking Democrat, Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, to provide a platform for Clapper and Alexander to defend their agencies and dismiss the massive evidence of their illegal activities.

Rogers set the tone in his opening statement, in which he declared: “Every nation collects foreign intelligence. That is not unique to the United States. What is unique to the United States is our level of oversight, our commitment to privacy protections, and our checks and balances on intelligence collection.”

Ruppersberger was, if anything, even more servile in his praise of the NSA. He began by saying he wanted to “thank the people of the intelligence community who work day and night to protect the security of our nation.” He continued: “With all the criticism leveled at these programs, it is important that we first not forget that these men and women are doing what we have told them to do, within the confines of the laws we’ve passed, and doing so to keep us safe.”

Simply ignoring the published evidence of NSA monitoring of the phone calls and emails of virtually every American, Ruppersberger stated, “Under FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), NSA does not target Americans in the US and does not target Americans anywhere else, without a court order.”

He went on to assert that had the NSA in 2001 had its current mandate to collect information on every telephone call made in the US, the 9/11 attacks would have been stopped.

In their opening remarks, both Clapper and Alexander likewise raised the bloody shirt of 9/11, attempting to frighten the American people into accepting pervasive government snooping by claiming the alternative was more such tragedies. Clapper once again denounced the exposures of secret surveillance programs, claiming they undermined “lawful” efforts to “keep the country safe.” He added that in his 50 years in intelligence, he had never seen such “an unending array of threats to our way of life” as at present.

Alexander similarly offered a blanket defense of NSA surveillance operations. “We have shown we can both defend our country and protect our civil liberties,” he declared. He warned Congress not to “give up a program that would result in this nation being attacked.”

Both men defended the mass collection of telephone data and Internet communications, while professing support for cosmetic “reforms” to make them more “transparent.”

Chairman Rogers began the questioning by asking Clapper about spying on the US by foreign allies, which Clapper seized on to suggest that Washington was doing nothing out of the ordinary in tapping Merkel’s cell phone.

Alexander categorically rejected reports of mass US spying on the communications of French and Spanish citizens, saying the reports were false.

Not one committee member from either party suggested that the programs were illegal or unconstitutional, that they should be halted, or that those officials responsible for them should be impeached or prosecuted. Democrats, in particular, went out of their way to declare their abiding respect for the NSA. The furthest they would go was to suggest that tapping the phones of friendly government leaders was causing damage to American diplomacy and the pursuit of US interests abroad.

Typical were the remarks of Representative Terri Sewell (Democrat of Alabama), who began by declaring her “utmost respect” for the intelligence agencies and professing a desire to “reform these programs, not dismantle them.”

No one mentioned Alexander’s statement in an interview posted by the Pentagon on YouTube last week that media reports on secret spying programs should be “stopped.” Instead, Rogers issued his own threat to the media, denouncing “very poor, inaccurate reporting” on the NSA and adding that this was “something we’re going to deal with here in the future.”

The hypocrisy of those officials who are attempting to carry out damage control is exemplified by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Feinstein. On Monday, she issued a statement complaining that she had not been “properly” informed of the surveillance of government leaders and declared her opposition to the practice.

She said her committee would launch a thorough review of all of the operations of the NSA.

Feinstein has vociferously defended all of the mass spying operations against the population. Less than two weeks ago, she published an op-ed piece inUSA Today calling for a continuation of mass collection of telephone logs by the NSA, insisting the program was “not surveillance.”

She has led the way in witch-hunting whistleblowers, denouncing Snowden’s revelations last June as “an act of treason” and calling in 2010 for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be prosecuted under the US Espionage Act.

The report to be issued by her committee on the results of its “top-down” review of NSA operations, according to the Wall Street Journal, will be classified.

Out of 47 “scenarios” being practiced by first responders during Urban Shield 2013 this October 25 – 28 in the San Francisco Bay Area, at least 20 of them are “domestic” – either stated explicitly, or implied (see below in BOLD CAPS) – and possibly more.

Overall, the scenarios vary widely in scope – up to and including “odor investigation” – but the “domestic terrorists” are generally characterized as being anything from “anarchists” (Tea Partiers? Christians? Patriots?) to “homegrown” terrorists (recent American-Moslem converts duped into FBI-sting operations?)

Interesting to note that, as of this writing, the English “Urban Shield” Wikipedia entry has disappeared… but you can still get it in French. (Too bad for you if you don’t read French.)

However, there is still a brief mention of Urban Shield in the English Wikipedia entry for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ASCO).

According to Wikipedia’s ASCO entry, Urban Shield is the largest urban “SWAT” exercise in America. Always held in autumn, it provides “opportunities” for first-responder teams from all over the nation to train in what appears to be mostly “terrorist” scenarios.

(As an aside – since I scan the news feeds daily – I’ve been noticing variations of ALL these “scenarios” making the news on a regular basis, including recently locking down an entire school district in Richmond, California due to an “odor investigation”… for an odor which turned out to be from a smelly barge starting its engine several miles outside the city limits. Oh, the hysteria.)

You should also be pleased and comforted to note that among the many “public/private partners” (and corporate sponsors) taking part in this year’s Urban Shield will be the Boy Scouts, FedEx and Verizon Wireless.

And, in addition to the 18 federal agencies listed (including Louisiana State University?), there will also be 12 foreign countries keeping us safe from domestic terrorists: Israel, Brazil, Guam, Israeli Yamam, Norway, Switzerland, France, Jordan, Bahrain, Singapore, Canada and Qatar.

With all this “help” – in what is turning out to be a huge multi-billion dollar industry – it makes you wonder who is keeping us safe from the “helpers?”

Scenario #1: Fitness Assessment/Confidence Course
Scenario #2: Medical Checkpoint #1
SCENARIO #3: INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE RECONNAISSANCE
Tactical teams will be provided a scenario in which they must rescue a judge from a Homegrown Violent Extremists group. Teams will be tested on their ability to develop a plan of action.
Host: Alameda County Sheriff’s Office – Black Command
Location: Alameda County Firearms Training Facility
Sponsors: TCI Tactical Command Industries
Fulcrum Concepts LLC
ZMB Industries
Zistos Portable Video Systems
SCENARIO #4: COLLEGE CAMPUS HOSTAGE RESCUE
Tactical teams will be evaluated on their ability to transition between many different tactics based on a rapidly evolving, dynamic scenario.
Host: Livermore Police Department – Black Command
Location: Las Positas Community College
Sponsor: VieVu-Video Cameras
SCENARIO #5: SWAT & K9 INTEGRATION DURING DEPLOYMENT
Tactical teams will coordinate with K9 units to search a rural wooded area for suspected narco-terrorists who recently murdered one CHP officer and wounded another.
Host: Alameda County Sheriff’s Office – Black Command
Location: Del Valle Regional Park Property
Sponsor: None listed
SCENARIO #6: HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS ASSAULT
Tactical teams will properly respond to a terrorist attack at a school, testing their ability to operate under fire, and rescue hostages.
Host: Fremont Police Department – Gold Command
Location: Coyote Hills Shooting Range, Fremont
Sponsor: 5.11 Tactical Series
TCI Tactical Command Industries
SCENARIO #7: ANARCHIST REFINERY BOMBER
Teams are presented with a scenario testing their ability to operate in a large open area and minimize damage to critical infrastructure.
Host: Redwood City Police Department – Silver Command
Location: Port of Redwood City
Sponsor: Digital Sandbox
Scenario #8: Water Treatment Facility WMD Attack
SCENARIO #9: DOMESTIC TERRORIST WATERSHED TAKEOVER
Tactical teams will be evaluated on their ability to respond to a chemical attack while mitigating further terrorist activity and rescuing hostages.
Host: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office – Silver Command
Location: Crystal Springs Reservoir
Sponsor: Fraser Optics
Scenario #10: Medical Checkpoint #2
SCENARIO #11: HIGH RISK SEARCH WARRANT
Tactical teams will be presented with a scenario to work in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to successfully execute a buy-bust search warrant.
Host: Drug Enforcement Agency – Silver Command
Location: Simunitions Training Warehouse, South San Francisco
Sponsor: None listed
SCENARIO #12: COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER TAKEOVER
Teams are provided a scenario testing their ability to work in a confined area under duress.
Host: San Francisco Sheriff’s Department – Green Command
Location: San Bruno Jail Complex
Sponsor: Securus Technologies
ATK Force On Force
SCENARIO #13: EXTREMIST MANHUNT
Tactical teams will respond to violent terrorist(s) who have gunned down an undercover agent and taken hostages.
Host: San Francisco Sheriff’s Department – Green Command
Location: San Bruno Jail Complex
Sponsor: Securus Technologies
ATK Force On Force
Scenario #14: Terrorist Attack on Public Transit
SCENARIO #15: TRANSAMERICA PYRAMID CENTER TAKEOVER
This scenario was developed to test tactical teams response to a homegrown terrorist attack on a San Francisco high rise building.
Host: San Francisco Sheriff’s Department – Green Command
Location: Transamerica Pyramid Center
Sponsor: Digital Sandbox
Scenario #16: Human Trafficking Interdiction
Scenario #17: Medical Checkpoint #3
Scenario #18: Laboratory Takeover
Scenario #19: Parking Structure WMD Dispersal Device
Scenario #20: Critical Infrastructure Assault (SF-Oakland Bay Bridge)
Scenario #21: Commuter Train Assault
Scenario #22: Maritime Interdiction
Scenario #23: Military Installation Assault
Scenario #24: Airplane Hijacking
Scenario #25: Medical Checkpoint #4
Scenario #26: Vehicle Assault (Old Mervyn’s Headquarters)
Scenario #27: Dignitary Rescue
Scenario #28: High Rise Rappelling
Scenario #29: Chemical Sabotage
SCENARIO #30: DOMESTIC TERRORIST SCHOOL TAKEOVER
Tactical teams will be provided an active shooter scenario testing their ability to effectively engage the terrorist(s) and effect a rescue of the hostage(s).
Host: Alameda County Sheriff’s Office – Blue Command
Location: Canyon Middle School, Castro Valley
Sponsor: Black OPS Airsoft
Applanix A Trimble Company
Scenario #31: Hospital Assault
Scenario #32: Technology Showcase
EOD Scenario #1: Explosive Ordnance Disposal Response 1
EOD Scenario #2: Explosive Ordnance Disposal Response 2
EOD SCENARIO #3: EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL RESPONSE 3
Two teams work together to enter a booby trapped apartment, render safe a number of booby traps, and analyze chemicals present for their use in IEDs.
Host: Alameda County Sheriff’s Office – Black Command
Location: Alameda County EOD Bomb Range
Sponsor: HazMasterG3
FIRE SCENARIO #1: ENVIRONMENTAL TERRORIST SABOTAGE
Responding US&R task force teams will be confronted with multiple and conflicting priorities while freeing two trapped construction workers.
Host: South San Francisco Fire Department – Red Command
Location: South San Francisco Fire Department Trench Rescue Training Site
Sponsor: MES Municipal Emergency Services Inc.
FIRE SCENARIO #2: IED EXPLOSION IN A CONFINED SPACE
An IED placed in a refinery pipe maze by environmental terrorists is accidentally detonated by bomb squad personnel while attempting to render the device safe.
Host: South San Francisco Fire Department – Red Command
Location: South San Francisco Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance Facility
Sponsor: FoxFury Personal Lighting Solutions
FIRE SCENARIO #3: BUILDING COLLAPSE
A member of the Sovereign Citizen movement has driven a truck into a government building which resulted in a partial building collapse and fire.
Host: South San Francisco Fire Department – Red Command
Location: South San Francisco Fire Department Collapse Structure Training Facility
Sponsor: Parrot AR Drone
FIRE SCENARIO #4: HIGH-ANGLE RESCUE
The sniper attack on a government high-rise building by a Homegrown Violent Extremist (HVE) has left two window washers injured.
Host: South San Francisco Fire Department – Red Command
Location: Boston Properties, South San Francisco
Sponsor: None listed
FIRE SCENARIO #5 AND 11: COOPERATIVE USAR/HAZMAT RESPONSE
US&R and Hazmat task-force teams will cooperatively respond to a car bomb detonated by extremists that has resulted in a collapse of a medical research facility.
Host: South San Francisco Fire Department – Red Command
Location: Alexandria Development Building, South San Francisco
Sponsor: Western Shelter Systems
Grainger
Applanix A Trimble Company
Fire Scenario #6: Terrorist Bus Hijacking/Low-Angle Rescue
FIRE SCENARIO #7: CLANDESTINE DRUG LAB EXPLOSION
An explosion of an IED at a clandestine drug lab has resulted in members of a SWAT team and other first responders becoming contaminated with unknown chemicals.
Host: South San Francisco Fire Department – Red Command
Location: South San Francisco Vehicle and Equipment Mainenance Facility
Sponsor: None listed
Fire Scenario #8: Odor Investigation
Fire Scenario #9: Cargo Container Sabotage
FIRE SCENARIO #10: MONITORING/DETECTION DIRTY BOMB ATTACK
Members of an anarchist group have detonated a dirty bomb in the mail room of a credit card processing facility, resulting in exposure to employees.
Host: South San Francisco Fire Department – Red Command
Location: Boston Properties, South San Francisco
Sponsor: MES Municipal Emergency Services Inc.
Fire Scenario #12: Arson Fire

SOURCES:

http://www.urbanshield.org

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ blogs/ on-leadership/ wp/ 2013/ 10/ 11/ the-tea-party-is-giving-anarchism-a-bad-name/

http://www.examiner.com/article/another-terrorism-report-demonizes-christian-patriots-preppers

http://www.investigativeproject.org/1341/the-creeping-homegrown-threat

http://www.activistpost.com/2010/12/why-are-feds-cultivating-their-own.html

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_shield

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alameda_County_Sheriff%27s_Office

http://www.alamedacountysheriff.org/

http://publicintelligence.net/alameda-urban-shield-2013/

http://info.publicintelligence.net/AlamedaCountyUrbanShield2013.pdf

http://www.contracostatimes.com/west-county-times/ci_24267003/richmond-residents-report-strong-gas-odor

http://www.contracostatimes.com/west-county-times/ci_24276573/gas-smell-that-enveloped-richmond-came-from-disabled

THE YINON PLAN LIVES ON

Named after Israel’s minister of foreign affairs at the time of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and occupation of Beirut, with about 25 000 dead, this divide-and-rule geostrategy plan for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) lives on.

Already victims of this strategy since 2011 – operated by Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia – we have the divided and weakened states of Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria. Egypt and even Tunisia can also possibly be added to the list. Others can be identified as likely short-term target victim countries.

In February 1982 the foreign minister Oded Yinon wrote and published ‘A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties‘, which outlined strategies for Israel to become the major regional power in the Middle East. High up the list of his recommendations was to decapitate and dissolve surrounding Arab states into sub-nations, warring between themselves. Called the peace-in-the-feud or simply divide and rule, this was part of Yinon’s strategy for achieving the long-term Zionist goal of extending the borders of Israel, not saying where but potentially a vast region. His strategy was warmly and publicly supported by leading US policy makers with close ties to Israel, like Richard Perle, by the 1990s.

This regional balkanization plan is centred on the exploitation of ethnic, religious, tribal and national divisions within the Arab world. Yinon noted the regional landscape of the MENA was “carved up” mainly by the US, Britain and France after the defeat and collapse of the Ottoman empire in 1917. The hastily traced and arbitrary borders are not faithful to ethnic, religious, and tribal differences between the different peoples in the region – a problem exactly reproduced in Africa, when decolonization started in the 1950s and 1960s. Yinon went on to argue this makes the Arab world a house of cards ready to be pushed over and broken apart into tiny warring states or “chefferies” based on sectarian, ethnic, national, tribal or other divisions.

Central governments would be decapitated and disappear. Power would be held by the warlord chiefs in the new sub-nations or ‘mini-states’. To be sure, this would certainly remove any real opposition to Israel’s coming regional dominance. Yinon said little or nothing about economic “collateral damage”.

To be sure, US and Saudi strategy in the MENA region is claimed to be entirely different, or in the Saudi case similar concerning the means – decapitating central governments – but different concerning the Saudi goal of creating a huge new Caliphate similar to the Ottoman empire. Under the Ottomans nations did not exist, nor their national frontiers, and local governments were weak or very weak.


Al QAEDA: The new US-NATO conscript army in the MENA region, and beyond.

ISLAMIC INSURGENCY IS WELL KNOWN IN CHINA

China knows plenty about Islamic insurgency and its potential to destroy the nation state. Even in the 1980s and 1990s, some 25 years ago, China had an “Islamic insurgency” threat concentrated in its eastern resource-rich and low population Xinjiang region. Before that, since the early days of the Peoples’ Republic in the 1950s, China has addressed Islamic insurgency with mostly failed policies and strategies but more recently a double strategy of domestic or local repression, but aid and support to Islamic powers thought able to work against djihadi insurgents – outside China – has produced results.

The Chinese strategy runs completely against the drift of Western policy and favours Iran.

A report in ‘Asia Times’, 27 February 2007, said this: “Despite al-Qaeda’s efforts to support Muslim insurgents in China, Beijing has succeeded in limiting (its) popular support….. The latest evidence came when China raided a terrorist facility in the country’s Xinjiang region, near the borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kirgizstan. According to reports, 18 terrorists were killed and 17 were captured”.

Chinese reporting, even official white papers on defence against terror are notoriously imprecise or simply fabricated. The official line is there is no remaining Islamic insurgency and – if there are isolated incidents – China’s ability to kill or capture militants without social blowback demonstrates the State’s “hearts and minds” policy in Xinjiang, the hearth area for Chinese Muslims, is working.

Chinese official attitudes to Islamic insurgency are mired with veils of propaganda stretching back to the liberation war against anti-communist forces. These featured the Kuomintang which had a large Muslim contingent in its Kuomintang National Revolutionary Army. The Muslim contingent operated against Mao Zedong’s central government forces – and fought the USSR. Its military insurgency against the central government was focused on the provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia and Xinjiang and continued for as long as 9 years after Mao took power in Beijing, in 1949.

Adding complexity however, the Muslim armed forces had been especially active against the Soviet Union in the north and west – and by 1959 the Sino-Soviet split was sealed. Armed hostilities by Mao’s PLA against the Red Army of the USSR broke out in several border regions, with PLA forces aided by former Muslim insurgents in some theatres. Outside China, and especially for Arab opinion, Mao was confirmed as a revolutionary nationalist similar to non-aligned Arab leaders of the period, like Colonel Husni al-Zaim of Syria and Colonel Nasser of Egypt.

CHINA’S THREAT TO WESTERN STRATEGY IN THE MENA

Especially today, some Western observers feign “surprise” at China’s total hostility towards UN Security Council approval for “surgical war” strikes against Syria. The reasons for this overlap with Russia’s adamant refusal to go along with US, Saudi Arabian, Turkish and French demands for a UNSC rubber stamp to trigger “regime change” in Syria but are not the same. For China the concept of “regime change” with no clear idea – officially – of what comes next is anathema.

As we know, when or if al Assad falls, only chaos can ensue as the country breaks apart, but this nightmare scenario for China is brushed aside by Western politicians as a subject for “later decision”.

China’s successful efforts to keep the global jihad from spreading into its territory is surely and certainly taken as a real challenge by Saudi-backed insurgents in western China. Various reports indicate the al-Qaeda organization trains about 1 000 mostly Xinjiang-origin Uighurs and other Chinese Muslims every year. Located in camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kirgizstan and elsewhere, this terror training has continued since at least the mid-1990s, for a total of more than 15 years.

The focus on Xinjiang, formerly called Turkestan is no accident. The region’s Russian influence is still strong, reinforced by Muslim migration from Russia in the 19th century, accelerated by the Russian Civil War and 1917 revolution. During China’s warlord era preceding Mao’s rule, the USSR armed and supported the Muslim separatist East Turkestan Republic which only accepted Mao’s rule when the PRC under the Chinese communists was fully established in 1949. The longstanding East Turkestan jihadi movement (ETIM) is highly active today after being relaunched in the early 2000′s, especially since the Iraq war of 2003. It however mainly acts in “external theatres” such as Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. The Baluchi of Pakistan have long-term rebellious relations with the central government in Islamabad, and are allied with Kurd nationalists in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.

The US Council on Foreign Relations in a 29 May 2012 briefing on Xinjiang noted that since the Chinese Qing dynasty collapse of 1912, the region has experienced various types of semi-autonomy and on several occasions declared full independence from China. The Council for example notes that in 1944, factions within Xinjiang declared independence with full support from the USSR, but then cites US State Dept. documents claiming that Uighur-related terrorism has “declined considerably” since the end of the 1990s and China “overreacts to and exaggerates” Islamic insurgency in Xinjiang.

Notably, the US has declassified the ETIM Islamic movement – despite its terror attacks – as a terrorist organization. The ETIM was defined as such during the Bush administration years, but is no longer listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in the State Dept. FTO list as from January 2012.

China has fully recognized the Islamic insurgency threat, with its potential for drawing in hostile foreign powers seeking to destroy national unity and break the national government. Its concern, shared by Indian strategists and policy makers is to “stop the rot” in the MENA.

1-MENA-REGION-CHINA-SYRIA
THE CHINESE STRATEGY

Unofficially, China regards the US and Saudi strategy in the MENA and Central Asia as “devil’s work” sowing the seeds of long-term insurgency, the collapse of the nation state and with it the economy. The US link with and support to Israel is in no way ignored, notably Israel’s Yinon plan for weakening central governments and dissolving the nation state right across the MENA.

China’s main concern is that Central Asian states will be affected, or infected by radical Islamic jihadi fighters and insurgents drifting in from the West, from the Middle East and North Africa. These will back the existing Islamic insurgent and separatist movement in resource-rich Xinjiang. To keep Central Asian states from fomenting trouble in Xinjiang, China has cultivated close diplomatic ties with its neighbors, notably through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which has a secretariat concerned with counter-insurgency issues.

US analysts however conclude, very hastily, that China “instinctively supports the status quo” and therefore does not have an active international strategy to combat djihadi violence and anarchy outside China. US analysts say, without any logic, that China will respond to and obediently follow initiatives from Washington and other Western powers – as it has starkly not done in the UN Security Council when it concerns the Western powers’ long drawn out attempt to repeat, for Syria, their success in 2011 for getting UNSC approval to the NATO war in Libya!

China was enraged, and regarded it as betrayal when its support for limited action by NATO in Libya – a rare instance of China compromising on nonintervention – turned into an all-out “turkey shoot” to destroy the Gaddafi clan. Libya was handed over to djihadi militants, who subsequently declared war against central government, an accelerating process resulting in Libya, today, having no central government with any real authority. That experience certainly hardened Beijing’s responses on Syria.

Post-Mao China has restored the concept of Chinese cultural continuity, with a blend of Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist strands which had been been weakened but not completely destroyed in the years of ideologically-driven Communism. For the Communists of Mao’s era “history was bunk”, not even a mixed bag but an unqualified evil that must be smashed. The Chinese attitude to radical Islam as embodied in the ideologies of Wahabism and Salafism is the same – they are treated as a denial of world history and its varied cultures, with immediate and real dangers for China. Its counter-insurgency strategy against Islamic radicals is the logical result.

This strategy ensures closer Tehran-Beijing relations, usually described by Western analysts as a “balancing act” between ties to Washington and growing relations with Iran. China and Iran have developed a broad and deep partnership centered on China’s oil needs, to be sure, but also including significant non-energy economic ties, arms sales, defense cooperation, and Asian and MENA geostrategic balancing as a counterweight to the policies and strategies of the United States and its local allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Chinese attention now focuses the Washington-Riyadh axis and its confused and dangerous MENA region geostrategy, resulting in a de facto proliferation of Islamic djihadi insurgents and the attack on the basic concept of the nation state across the region. The Chinese view is that Iran’s version of “Peoples’ Islam” is less violent and anarchic, than the Saudi version.

OPPOSING THE WASHINGTON-RIYADH AXIS

Both Chinese and Indian strategists’ perceptions of the US-Saudi strategy in the MENA, and other Muslim-majority regions and countries is that it is dangerous and irresponsible. Why the Western democracies led by the US would support or even tolerate the Saudi geostrategy and ignore Israel’s Yinon Plan – as presently shown in Syria – is treated by them as almost incomprehensible.

China is Tehran’s largest trading partner and customer for oil exports, taking about 20% of Iran’s total oil exports, but China’s co-operation is seen as critical to the Western, Israeli and Arab Gulf State plan to force Iran to stop uranium enrichment and disable the capacity of its nuclear program to produce nuclear weapons. Repeated high-level attempts to “persuade Beijing” to go along with this plan, such as then-US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s 2012 visit to Beijing, however result each time in Chinese hosts politely but firmly saying no. This is not only motivated by oil supply issues.

Flashpoints revealing the Chinese-US divide on Iran crop up in world news, for example the US unilateral decision in January 2012 to impose sanction on Chinese refiner Zhuhai Zenrong for refining Iranian oil and supplying refined products back to Iran. This US action was described by China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman as “totally unreasonable”. He went on to say that “China (has) expressed its strong dissatisfaction and adamant opposition”.

At the same time, China’s Xinhua Agency gave prominence to the statement made by Iran’s OPEC delegate Mohamed Ali Khatibi: “If the oil producing nations of the (Arab) Gulf decide to substitute Iran’s oil, then they will be held responsible for what happens”. Chinese analysts explained that China like India was irritated that Iranian oil sanctions opened the way for further de facto dominance of Saudi Arabia in world export supplies of oil, as well as higher prices.

Iran is however only the third-largest supplier of oil to China, after Angola and Saudi Arabia, with Russia its fourth-largest supplier, using EIA data. This makes it necessary for China to run sustainable relations with the Wahabite Kingdom, which are made sustainable by actions like China’s Sinopec in 2012 part-funding the $8.5 billion 400 000 barrels-per-day refinery under construction in the Saudi Red Sea port city of Yanbu.

The Saudi news and propaganda outlet Al Arabiya repeatedly criticises China and India for their purchase of Iranian oil and refusal to fully apply US-inspired sanctions. A typical broadside of February 2013 was titled “Why is China still dealing with Iran?”, and notably cited US analysts operating in Saudi-funded or aided policy institutes, such as Washington’s Institute for Near East Policy as saying: “It’s time we wised up to this dangerous game. From Beijing’s perspective, Iran serves as an important strategic partner and point of leverage against the United States”. US analysts favourable to the Saudi strategy in the MENA – described with approval by President Eisenhower in the 1950s as able to establish a Hollywood style Saudi royal “Islamic Pope” for Muslim lands from Spain to Indonesia – say that Iran is also seen by China as a geopolitical partner able to help China countering US-Saudi and Israeli strategic action in the Middle East.

A 2012 study by US think tank RAND put it bluntly: “Isolated Iran locked in conflict with the United States provides China with a unique opportunity to expand its influence in the Middle East and could pull down the US military in the Gulf.” The RAND study noted that in the past two decades, Chinese engineers have built housing, bridges, dams, tunnels, railroads, pipelines, steelworks and power plants throughout Iran. The Tehran metro system completed between 2000 and 2006 was a major Chinese engineering project.

THE BIG PICTURE

China’s Iran policy and strategy can be called “big picture”. Iranian aid and support to mostly but not exclusively Shia political movements, and insurgents stretches from SE Asia and South Asia, to West and Central Asia, Afghanistan, the Caspian region, and SE Europe to the MENA. It is however focused on the Arabian peninsula and is inevitably opposed to Saudi geostrategy. This is a known flashpoint and is able to literally trigger a third world war. Avoiding this is the big picture – for China.

Li Weijian, the director of the Research Center of Asian and African Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies puts it so: “China’s stance on the Iranian nuclear issue is not subject to Beijing’s demand for Iranian oil imports, but based on judgment of the whole picture.” China is guided in foreign relations by two basic principles, both of them reflecting domestic priorities. First, China wants a stable international environment so it can pursue domestic economic development without external shocks. Second, China is very sensitive to international policies that ‘interfere in or hamper sovereign decisions”, ultimately tracing to its experience in the 19th and 20th centuries at the hands of Western powers, and the USSR, before and after the emergence of the PRC. It adamantly opposes foreign interference in Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang.

This includes radical Islamist or djihadi interference, backed by any foreign power. While China has on occasions suspected Tehran of stirring Islamic insurgency inside its borders it sees the US-Saudi geostrategy of employing djihadists to do their dirty work as a critical danger, and as wanton interference. Indian attitudes although not yet so firm, are evolving in the same general direction. Both are nuclear weapons powers with massive land armies and more than able to defend themselves.

Claims by Western, mostly US analysts that China views Iran as exhibiting “unpredictable behaviour” in response to US-led sanctions and that Iran is “challenging China’s relations with its regional partners” can be dismissed. In particular and concerning oil, China is well aware that Iran will need many years of oil-sector development to return to anything like pre-Islamic revolution output of more than 5 million barrels a day. Unless oil sanctions are lifted, Iran’s oil output will go on declining, further increasing the power of the Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia, and Shia-governed but insurgency threatened Iraq to dictate export prices.

China dismisses the claim that its policies have hampered US and other Western political effort to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability.

China’s distaste for toppling almost any central government, even those run by dictatorial strongmen springs from a deep sense of history – marked by insecurity about the uncertain political legitimacy of governments arising from civil war and revolution – like the PRC. At its extreme, this Chinese nightmare extends to fears that if the US-Saudi geostrategy can topple governments in the Middle East almost overnight, what will stop them from working to bring down China’s government one day? Unlike almost all MENA countries minus the oil exporters, China has scored impressive victories in the fight against poverty. Its economy although slowing creates abundant jobs and opportunity.

For China, this is the only way to progress.

HARDENING POLICIES AND POSITIONS

The emerging Chinese anti-Islamist strategy also underlines a menacing reality for the US and other Western powers. China rejects the belief there is still only one superpower in today’s world—the USA. The USA’s weakened economy and uncontrollable national debt, its confused and cowardly drone war, its slavish support to Israeli and Saudi whims do not impress China – or India.

To be sure China’s classic-conventional weapons development programs lag far behind the US. The Chinese military strategy for pushing back US dominance focuses global reach ballistic missiles, tactical nuclear weapons, drones, submarines, and military space and cyberwarfare capabilities.

With the PLA it possesses the biggest land army in the world. No US warmonger, at least saner versions would “take on China”.

China has invested heavily in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, as well as Iran. It does not want to see its investment effort destroyed by deliberately promoted Islamic anarchy. Also, its Middle Eastern presence will continue due to the fact that while US dependence on oil imports is declining, China overtook the US as the world’s largest oil importer on a daily basis, this year, several years ahead of analysts’ consensus forecasts.

The likely result is that China is now poised and almost certain to strengthen relations with Iran. The intensifying Syrian crisis as well as the dangerously out of control US-Saudi-Israeli djihadi strategy, of fomenting sectarian conflict and destroying the nation state in the MENA, will likely prompt China to soon take major initiatives.

The Xinjiang Uighur region of China has been in the news in relation to the terrorist attack on October 29, 2013 in Tienanmen, Beijing. While there is no evidence of foreign involvement in the suicide bombing in Tienanmen square, it should be noted that Washington supports the separatist movement in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region (M. Ch. GR Editor)

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is the western edge of China (Xinjiang means new frontier in Chinese).

It borders on Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia and the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. 9 million Uyghurs (Sunni Muslims) make up 45% of the total population of the Region. From time to time protests hit the streets calling for independence from China. The USA has a role to play here, it defends the separatists on the international scene. The Uygur culture or rights don’t mean anything for Washington, but the Region enjoys strategically important geographic position being situated in the heart of Eurasia which is viewed as an area of its vital interests by the United States.

For the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union the Xinjiang Uygur Region was an area where its interests conflicted with Great Britain. The region provided access to India. Today there is a conflict of interests with the United States, which finds it important strategically to deny Russia and China an access the Indian Ocean.

Establishing control over the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region means getting a springboard for US penetration into the heartland of Eurasia. For instance, the geographic position of Kazakhstan makes it kind of a buffer zone against the Islamic radicalism coming from Afghanistan. Crossing the Kazakh territory, radicals would get to Russia (Kazakhstan borders on Astrakhan, Chelyabinsk, Saratov, Volgograd, Novosibirsk, Omsk and Tyumen regions of the Russian Federation). Muslim Bashkiria and Tatarstan are in the vicinity.

While the USSR contained the spread of Islamic extremism, having tightly closed the southern border, Kazakhstan and Western Siberia remained parts of the Soviet Union. It has all changed by now. The US intervention into Afghanistan has exacerbated the situation near the southern part of Russia. In case the US gets a foothold in the Xinjiang Uygur Region, the things will exponentially worsen, there are many Uyghurs living in Central Asia (250000 in Kazakhstan, 60000 in Kyrgyzstan, 50000 in Uzbekistan etc).

The Region is rich in oil and gas, as well as rare-earth metals. There are 52 minerals extracted there. It’s an important trade and transportation hub, an economic center of western China. The Chinese commodities cross its territory to get transported to the Pakistani port of Karachi and then to South Asia. Pakistan and China are strategic allies, the destabilization of Xinjiang would hinder the flow of goods from Islamabad to Beijing. The Chinese law enforcement agencies report there are people on the wanted list in Pakistan among the dead Uyghur separatists. At that Beijing does its best to have good relations with Islamabad (1).

There is a major telecommunications project under construction – the Trans-Asia-Europe Fiber Optic Line, which is to connect Shanghai, China and Frankfurt, Germany passing through the Region (2). Oil and gas flows from the Caspian will cross it on the way to the Asia-Pacific. The Region borders on Tibet. The hue and cry raised by Washington from time to time over the human rights violations in Tibet is a trick the US propaganda machine resorts to while waging an information war against China.

Image: Head of the World Uyghur Congress, millionaire Rebiya Kadeer with George W. Bush.

The US goes to any length to support the Uygur separatists abroad, for instance the World Uyghur Congress headed by Rabiya Kadir , one of the richest Chinese in the world… She meets US congressmen and even has had a meeting with George Bush. She is a hyped symbol of Uyghur resistance. The 10 Conditions of Love movie devoted to her was shot in 2009. Despite the protests from Beijing, it was included into the Melbourne festival’s program.

The World Uyghur Congress cooperates with the so-called Tibetan government in exile and has branches in many countries, even in Australia. It should be noted that Anglo-Saxon powers (the United States of America, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia) have been including China into their agenda for a number of years, some time ago Australia became a host country to US Marine Corps unit.

Washington predominantly uses three issues to exert pressure on China: Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, where separatist protests are on the rise. That’s why the United States is well disposed towards the growth of Uyghur nationalism, using every opportunity to spur its radicalization…

Notes

1) Jacob Zenn. Insurgency in Xinjiang Complicates Chinese-Pakistani Relations.
2) V. Dergachev. Dragon against Anaconda in Xinjiang’s Quicksand.

Join us for the annual Monsanto Elementary School Science and Innovation Fair – where science is alive and well (patented)!

Monsanto controls 90% of the production of genetically modified seeds.

Monsanto Made This Video to Promote Their School Science Fair, But There’s Something Funny About It

On October 26, the NSA scandal finally triggered a protest in Washington. Activists of the left, liberal and libertarian persuasion took to the streets rallying behind pictures of Edward Snowden who our government considers a traitor but many consider a hero.

A day later, on Sunday,  in mid afternoon, a prominent black South African businessman was arrested at JFK airport because he was on a list of people banned from entering the United States.

 No reason was given for his being on the list, although he is a well- known former Minister in the South African government, a one time head of the country’s most populated province, and, yes, a former member of the underground anti-apartheid military wing of the African National Congress, Umkonto we Sizwe (The Spear of the Nation.)

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2013/10/27/business/27reuters-safrica-sexwale.html?hp

His name: Tokyo Sexwale, so named because of his martial arts prowess as a kid.  He spent years alongside Nelson Mandela behind bars in Robben Island, South Africa’s notorious political prison.

 At that time. Mandela was the founder of the ANC’s guerilla army and had been sentenced to life imprisonment for his role.

Sewale told me back in 1995, when I filmed a reunion at the prison for a documentary called Prisoners of Hope, that after he had been captured in a fire fight, he had been thrilled to be sent to the prison housing his Commander in Chief. He also told me how he and other  prisoners left their cells at night—in their imaginations—to visit places like far away New York.

Ironically, Mandela was on this very same enemies list for years after his release from prison and even his election as the country’s first black President.

In that period, he even toured the United States and returned to visit The White House. Tokyo has also visited several times, most recently as the Housing minister and a corporate executive.

 Perhaps these ridiculous rules have been tightened in the Obama years.

In Mandela’s case, he was removed from the list near the end of his Presidency on July 1, 2008 after President Bush signed into law a bill allowing then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice the authority to waive travel restrictions on Mandela and other members of the ANC.

It took a bi-partisan measure in Congress to allow the President to remove the embarrassing restriction.

On that occasion, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote, “Sometimes government officials become intoxicated by the counter-terrorism portfolio. Indeed, totally inebriated. To put it simply, they go nuts.”

Kristof ridiculed our government’s securocrats then, asking of Mandela: “what did we think he would do, strap on a suicide belt?”

Now, five years later, it looks like the guardians of our surveillance state are the ones committing suicide, by turningthe United States into a global laughing-stock through tapping the phones of millions of people including as many as 35 heads of State, many from counties we consider allies.

It is also the intelligence of our policies that are being questioned, not just the heavy-handed practices of our snoops and spies. There is clear evidence that Washington worked with and armed real terrorists of the Al Qaeda “brand” in Libya and now in Syria.

The people who run these agencies seem to be making no sense either , as the New Yorker reported in quoting the NSA’s General Keith Alexander who denied whistle-blower Snowden’s charges in these terms:

“It’s like when you were younger—well, this is for boys—you know, when you’re younger you say, “I don’t want to take a bath.” You say, “No, I’ll never to take a bath.” Why would you want to take a bath, well, you have to take a bath, clean, da da, da. You say, “But isn’t there a better way?” So we had to take baths, right. Or showers,”

Huh? Asks Amy Davidson in the New Yorker:

“So is reading e-mails the bath and metadata collection the shower? And girls are supposedly O.K. with both? More mysteriously, why is Alexander comparing people who question his agency’s work to dirty children? Alexander then went on to say that leakers might have blood on their hands, and, as Politico noted, accused newspapers of “selling” Snowden’s documents.”

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2013/10/the-indiscreet-charm-of-the-nsa.html

 Years ago, statements like his belonged to “the theater of the absurd;” now they are reported as if they are statements to be taken seriously by well-informed government officials.

 No wonder the Obama Administration is having credibility problems. The President himself recently visited Sewale’s former prison and spoke movingly of the ordeal Mandela and his comrades went though.

Now, one of the prison’s most prominent “graduates” is having an ordeal here in the United States and is back in detention.

 Imagine being in Tokyo’s exhausted shoes as he gets off a 14 hour flight only to be challenged at the “border” because of his name on a “list” that goes back to the commie-bashing days of Senators McCarthy and McCarren in the 1950’s.

‘Sorry Sir, not only can’t you come in, but you are under arrest. Your name came up on our computer as a threat to our national security.Here’s a Go Directly to Jail Card!”

 There are some in South Africa who may wish Tokyo was still the militant he once was, not a billionaire who went over to the other side in the class war. But, whatever his income and controversial recent history—fired from his post, divorced by his wife etc—he shouldn’t be jailed because ourintelligence operation so clearly lacks intelligence.

 Reuters reported, “The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.”

 What can they say?

Danny Schechter is the author of the forthcoming Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela.” He blogs at Newsdissector.net and edits mediachannel.org.Comments to [email protected]. @Danny Schechter on Twitter,

Ignored Reality Is Going To Wipe Out The Human Race

October 30th, 2013 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

To inform people is hard slugging.  Everything is lined up against the public being informed, or the policymakers for that matter. News is contaminated by its service to special interests and hidden agendas. Many scientists or their employers are dependent on federal money.

Even psychologists and anthropologists were roped into the government’s torture and occupation programs. Economists tell lies for corporations and Wall Street.  Plant and soil scientists tell lies for agribusiness and Monsanto. Truth tellers are slandered and persecuted. However, persistence can eventually win out. In the long-run, truth sometimes emerges.  But not always. And not always in time. 

I have been trying to inform the American people, economists, and policymakers for more than a decade about the adverse impacts of jobs offshoring on the US economy. 

The word has eventually gotten out. Last week I was contacted by 8th grade students competing for their school in CSPAN’s StudentCam Documentary Contest.  They want to interview me on the subject of jobs offshoring for their documentary film.

America is a strange place. Here are eighth graders far ahead of the economics profession, the President, the Congress, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, and the financial press in their understanding of one of the fundamental problems of the US economy.  Yet, people say the public schools are failing.  Obviously, not the one whose students contacted me.

 Is it too late?  I know much, but not all.  So this is not the final word.  I think it might be too late.  When skilled jobs are sent abroad, the skills disappear at home. So do the supply chains and the businesses associated with the skills. Things close down, and abilities are lost.  Why take a major in collage for a job that is offshored. A culture disappears.

But we can start them back up, right?  Perhaps not. When a First World country exports its technology and know-how abroad to a Third World country in order to benefit from lower cost labor, how does the First World country get the work back?  Living standards and the cost of living in Third World countries are much lower than in First World countries. The populations of First World countries cannot pay their mortgages, car payments, student loans, medical care, and grocery bills with the wages of Third World countries.

 When First World wages drop, mortgage, car, credit card, and student loan payments do not drop. Americans cannot live on Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian wages. Once the technology and know-how is transferred, the low wage country has the advantage in the absence of tariff protection. 

For America to revive, our economy would have to be walled off with high tariffs, and subsidies would have to be provided in order to recreate US industry and manufacturing. But many corporations now produce offshore, and America is broke. The government has been  $1 trillion dollars in the hole each year for the last 5 years.

Jobs offshoring diminished the US tax base. When a job is sent abroad, so is that job’s contribution to US GDP and tax base. When millions of jobs are sent abroad, US GDP and tax base cannot support government spending levels. To the extent that there are any replacement jobs, they are in lowly paid domestic services, such as waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks, and hospital orderlies. These jobs do not provide a tax base or consumer spending power comparable to manufacturing jobs and tradable professional services such as software engineering and information technology. 

Republicans and increasingly Democrats, as both parties are dependent on the same sources of campaign contributions, blame “entitlements.”  By entitlements they mean welfare.

In fact, entitlements consist of Social Security and Medicare.  Entitlements are funded by the payroll tax, approximately 15% of payroll.  The fact that a person pays the payroll tax all his working life is why the person is entitled to Social Security and Medicare if they live to retirement age. Welfare, such as food stamps and housing subsidies, are a small part of the federal budget and are not entitlements.

Every since President Reagan was betrayed three decades ago by Alan Greenspan and David Stockman, both of whom sold out to Wall Street and raised the Social Security payroll tax above what was needed to pay Social Security benefits in order to protect Wall Street’s stock and bond portfolios from exaggerated deficit fears, Social Security payroll tax revenues have exceeded Social Security payments.  As of today, Social Security revenues exceed payments to beneficiaries by an accumulated $2 trillion.  The money was used by the federal government to pay for its wars and other spending programs. The Social Security Trust Fund holds non-marketable IOUs from the Treasury. These IOUs can only be made good from an excess of tax revenues over expenditures or by the Treasury selling $2 trillion in bonds, notes, and bills and paying off its IOUs to the Social Security Trust Fund. This is not going to happen.

The Federal Reserve could not care less about the US population. The Fed was established for the purpose of protecting and aiding banks.  Currently, the Fed, as if America were a Banana Republic which America appears to be becoming, is printing one thousand billion dollars per year in order to support the banks and to finance the federal deficit. 

 This is bad news for Americans, as it means that their fiat money is being created at a far greater rate than the demand for the dollar.  The implication for our future is a drop in the dollar’s value.  As there are no jobs, a drop in the dollar’s value means high inflation on top of unemployment and double the misery of the Great Depression.

As bad as this is, it is minor compared to the destruction of the planet’s environment. Online information shows that the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem is in crisis after the BP spill and use of Corexit, a dispersant used to hide, not clean up, the spilled oil. http://www.opednews.com/articles/Gulf-ecosystem-in-crisis-a-by-Dahr-Jamail-Corporation-BP_Ecosystems_Gulf-Oil-Spill-Disaster_Gulf-Shrimping-Industry-131020-15.html

 The Fukushima catastrophe has hardly begun.  Yet already the radioactive water pouring into the Pacific Ocean has made fish dangerous to eat unless a person is willing to accept a higher risk of cancer.

Fukushima has the potential of making Japan uninhabitable and of polluting the air, water, and soil of the US with radioactivity.  Yet the crisis is seldom mentioned in the US media. In Japan the government just passed a law that could be used to imprison Japanese journalists who report truthfully on the dire situation.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the online information about Fukushima.. According to the presstitute media, Americans face threats from Iran and Syria and from whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden.  The real threats are simply not in the news.

If you search Fukushima, you will find information that the presstitute media hides from you. See for example, http://www.globalresearch.ca/28-signs-that-the-west-coast-is-being-absolutely-fried-with-nuclear-radiation-from-fukushima/5355280

There are a number of other threats to the environment on which our lives depend. One is the effort to extract more productivity from the soil by use of GMOs. Monsanto has altered the genes of several crops so that the crops can be sprayed with RoundUp to eliminate weeds. The results have been to deplete the soil of nutrients, to destroy the micro-biology of the soil so that new plant diseases and funguses are activated, and to produce superweeds that require heavier doses of the glyphosate in RoundUp. The heavier dose of RoundUp worsens the aforementioned problems.  US agricultural soil is losing its potency.

Now we come to chemtrails, branded another “conspiracy theory.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemtrail_conspiracy_theory   However, the US government’s efforts to geo-engineer weather as a military weapon and as a preventative of global warming appear to be real. The DARPA  and HAARP programs are well known and are discussed publicly by scientists. See, for example,

http://news.sciencemag.org/2009/03/darpa-explore-geoengineering  

Search Chemtrails, and you will find much information that is kept from you. See, for example,

http://www.globalresearch.ca/chemtrails-a-planetary-catastrophe-created-by-geo-engineering/5355299 and http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org

 Some describe chemtrails as a plot by the New World Order, the Rothchilds, the Bilderbergers, or the Masons, to wipe out the “useless eaters.”  Given the amount of evil that exists in the world, these conspiracy theories might not be as farfetched as they sound.

 However, I do not know that.  What does seem to be possibly true is that the scientific experiments to modify and control weather are having adverse real world consequences.  The claim that aluminum is being sprayed into the atmosphere and when it comes to earth is destroying the ability of soil to be productive might not be imaginary. Those concerned about chemtrails say that weather control experiments have deprived the western United States of rainfall, while sending the rain to the east where there have been hurricane level deluges and floods.

In the West, sparse rainfall and lightening storms without rain are resulting in forests drying out and burning down. Deforestation adversely affects the environment in many ways, including the process of photosynthesis by which trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The massive loss of forests means more carbon dioxide and less oxygen.

Watershed and species habitat are lost, and spreading aridity further depletes ground and surface water. If these results are the consequences of weather modification experiments, the experiments should be stopped.

In North Georgia where I spend some summers, during 2013 it rained for 60 consecutive days, not all day, but every day, and some days the rainfall was 12 inches–hurricane level–and roads were washed out. I received last summer 4 automated telephone warnings from local counties not to drive and not to attempt to drive through accumulations of water on the highways.

One consequence of the excess of water in the East is that this year there are no acorns in North Georgia. Zilch, zero, nada.  Nothing. There is no food for the deer, the turkeys, the bear, the rodents. Starving deer will strip bark from the trees. Bears will be unable to hibernate or will be able only to partially hibernate, forced to seek food from garbage.  Black bears are already invading homes in search of food.

Unusual drought in the West and unusual flood in the East could be coincidental or they could be consequences of weather modification experiments.

The US, along with most of the world, already had a water problem prior to possible disruptions of rainfall by geo-engineering. In his book, Elixir, Brian Fagan tells the story of humankind’s mostly unsuccessful struggle with water. Both groundwater and surface water are vanishing. The water needs of large cities, such as Los Angeles and Phoenix, and the irrigation farming that depends on the Ogallala aquifer are unsustainable. Fagan reminds us that “the world’s supply of freshwater is finite,” just like the rest of nature’s resources. Avoiding cataclysm requires long-range thinking, but humanity is focused on immediate needs. Long-range thinking is limited to finding another water source to deplete. Cities and agriculture have turned eyes to the Great Lakes.

Los Angeles exists because the city was able to steal water from hundreds of miles away. The city drained Owens Lake, leaving a huge salt flat in its place, drained the Owens Valley aquifer, and diverted the Owens River to LA via aqueduct.  Farming and ranching in the Owens Valley collapsed. Today LA takes water from the Colorado River, which originates in Wyoming and Colorado, and from Lake Perris 440 miles away. 

Water depletion is not just an American problem. Fagan reports that “underground aquifers in many places are shrinking so rapidly that NASA satellites are detecting changes in the earth’s gravity.”

If the government is experimenting with weather engineering, scientists are playing God when they have no idea of the consequences.  It is a tendency of scientists to become absorbed by the ability to experiment and to ignore unintended consequences.

 Readers have asked me to write about Fukushima and chemtrails because they trust me to tell them the truth. The problem is that I am not qualified to write about these matters with anything approaching the same confidence that I bring to economic, war and police state matters. 

The only advice I can give is that when you hear the presstitute media smear a concern or explanation as “conspiracy theory,”  have a closer look.  The divergence between what is happening and what you are told is so vast that it pays to be suspicious, cynical even, of what “your” government and “your” presstitute media tell you. The chances are high that it is a lie.

 Former U.S. president George W. Bush and former vice president Dick Cheney presided over policies that some say constituted war crimes.

 By: Matt Eisenbrandt and Katherine Gallagher 

On Halloween this year, Toronto will host the man who operated from the “dark side” of U.S. policy. As vice-president of the United States, Dick Cheney was a key architect of a post-9/11 response that featured waterboarding and other acts of torture, a global secret detention program where people were held for years without charge, and “extraordinary rendition,” by which innocent men such as Maher Arar were sent to countries like Syria to be tortured. His legacy of “endless war” continues today.

Canada has previously played high-paying host to Dick Cheney, as well as his former boss, George W. Bush. Even though they’ve left office, both men not only know they are safe from prosecution in the United States – where President Obama early on set out his preference for looking “forward” not back – but in Canada as well.

Dick Cheney’s $500-a-person book tour appearance in Vancouver in September 2011 resulted in protests, with demonstrators calling for Cheney to be banned or prosecuted as a war criminal. Instead of returning to Canada last year, Cheney cancelled a trip to Toronto, deeming Canada too dangerous because of the likely demonstrators that would greet him. It’s unclear why Cheney now feels safe enough to venture north to Toronto – for Halloween.

Bush was also met by hundreds of protestors seeking his arrest when he spoke at a business forum in Surrey, British Columbia in October 2011. In addition, with the support of the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), four men who were tortured at Guantánamo initiated a private prosecution for torture against Bush.

The four men – Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz – charged Bush with overseeing a torture program in locations including Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantánamo and numerous prisons and CIA “black sites” around the world. As part of this program, the men were beaten, hung from walls or ceilings, deprived of sleep, food and water and subjected to extreme temperatures, among other acts of abuse they endured while in U.S. custody.

Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Under the Torture Convention, Canada is obligated to investigate and prosecute known torturers present in its territory (or, when possible, extradite them elsewhere for prosecution). Canada has incorporated this obligation into its domestic criminal code. The 64-page indictment and thousands of pages of supporting material submitted by the four tortured men clearly demonstrated that an investigation – and prosecution – of Bush for torture was warranted.

Instead of prosecuting Bush, Canada rolled out the RCMP to facilitate his visit – and more disturbingly, watched the Attorney General for British Columbia immediately shut down the prosecution against him.

Canada should have investigated these crimes.

Canada’s violation of its Torture Convention obligations became an issue in 2012 when it appeared before the United Nations Committee Against Torture, which admonished Canada to “take all necessary measures with a view to ensuring the exercise of the universal jurisdiction over persons responsible for acts of torture, including foreign perpetrators who are temporarily present in Canada.”

The following November, the four men filed a complaint with the committee against Canada for its failure to investigate and prosecute Bush. After getting an extension, Canada finally submitted its response on October 29. Canada did not argue that Bush enjoyed any immunity under law as a former head of state or that the allegations of torture against him were frivolous or politically motivated. Canada’s defence was that practically, it could not pursue an investigation or prosecution because the authorities wouldn’t get the necessary assistance from their close partner, the United States. Canada argued that any evidence “of torture by the U.S. government resides, for the most part, within the very centre of the U.S. administration and with present and former U.S. officials residing in the United States.” That Bush enjoys safe harbour in the U.S. under the Obama administration cannot be sufficient reason for Canada to abdicate its own responsibility under the convention to prevent impunity.

In the weeks leading up to Cheney’s visit, human rights groups have been calling on Canada to uphold its international obligations and investigate Cheney for torture and war crimes. The thousands of people around the globe who have suffered under the Bush administration’s torture and detention policies deserve no less.

With Dick Cheney’s Halloween visit, Canada has another opportunity to show torture survivors, and the world, that it will not serve as a safe haven for torturers.

Matt Eisenbrandt is legal coordinator for the Canadian Centre for International Justice and Katherine Gallagher is senior staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Copyright Matt Eisenbrandt and Katherine Gallagher, Toronto Star, 2013

This essay is an excerpt from  Big Lies: How Our Corporate Overlords, Politicians and Media Establishment Warp Reality and Undermine Democracy. Greg Guma’s latest book, Dons of Time, is a sci-fi look at the control of history as power.

Despite 24-hour news and talk about transparency, there’s a lot we don’t know about our past, much less current events. What’s worse, some of what we think we know isn’t true.

The point is that it’s no accident.

Consider, for example, the circumstances that led to open war in Vietnam. According to official history, two US destroyers patrolling in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam were victims of unprovoked attacks in August 1964, leading to a congressional resolution giving President Johnson the power “to take all necessary measures.”

In fact, the destroyers were spy ships, part of a National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping program operating near the coast as a way to provoke the North Vietnamese into turning on their radar and other communications channels. The more provocative the maneuvers, the more signals that could be captured. Meanwhile, US raiding parties were shelling mainland targets. Documents revealed later indicated that the August 4 attack on the USS Maddox – the pretext for passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution – may not even have taken place.

But even if it did, the incident was still stage managed to build up congressional and public support for the war. Evidence suggests that the plan was based on Operation Northwoods, a scheme developed in 1962 to justify an invasion of Cuba. Among the tactics the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered then were blowing up a ship in Guantanamo Bay, a phony “communist Cuba terror campaign” in Florida and Washington, DC, and an elaborate plan to convince people that Cuba had shot down a civilian airliner filled with students. That operation wasn’t implemented, but two years later, desperate for a war, the administration’s military brass found a way to create the necessary conditions in Vietnam.

NSA and Echelon

For more than half a century, the eyes and ears of US power to monitor and manipulate information (and with it, mass perceptions) has been the NSA, initially designed to assist the CIA. Its original task was to collect raw information about threats to US security, cracking codes and using the latest technology to provide accurate intelligence on the intentions and activities of enemies. Emerging after World War II, its early focus was the Soviet Union. But it never did crack a high-level Soviet cipher system. On the other hand, it used every available means to eavesdrop on not only enemies but also allies and, sometimes, US citizens.

In Body of Secrets, James Bamford described a bureaucratic and secretive behemoth, based in an Orwellian Maryland complex known as Crypto City. From there, supercomputers linked it to spy satellites, subs, aircraft, and equally covert, strategically placed listening posts worldwide. As of 2000, it had a $7 billion annual budget and directly employed at least 38,000 people, more than the CIA and FBI. It was also the leader of an international intelligence club, UKUSA, which includes Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Together, they monitored and recorded billions of encrypted communications, telephone calls, radio messages, faxes, and e-mails around the world.

  Over the years, however, the line between enemies and friends blurred, and the intelligence gatherers often converted their control of information into unilateral power, influencing the course of history in ways that may never be known. No doubt the agency has had a hand in countless covert operations; yet, attempts to pull away the veil of secrecy have been largely unsuccessful.

  In the mid-1970s, for example, just as Congress was attempting to reign in the CIA, the NSA was quietly creating a virtual state, a massive international computer network named Platform. Doing away with formal borders, it developed a software package that turned worldwide Sigint (short for “signal intelligence”: communication intelligence, eavesdropping, and electronic intelligence) into a unified whole. The software package was code named Echelon, a name that has since become a synonym for eavesdropping on commercial communication.

 Of course, the NSA and its British sister, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), refused to admit Echelon existed, even though declassified documents appeared on the Internet and Congress conducted an initial investigation. But a European Parliament report also confirmed Echelon’s activities, and encouraged Internet users and governments to adopt stronger privacy measures in response.

 In March 2001, several ranking British politicians discussed Echelon’s potential impacts on civil liberties, and a European Parliament committee considered its legal, human rights, and privacy implications. The Dutch held similar hearings, and a French National Assembly inquiry urged the European Union to embrace new privacy enhancing technologies to protect against Echelon’s eavesdropping. France launched a formal investigation into possible abuses for industrial espionage.

When Allies Compete

A prime reason for Europe’s discontent was the growing suspicion that the NSA had used intercepted conversations to help US companies win contracts heading for European firms. The alleged losers included Airbus, a consortium including interests in France, Germany, Spain, and Britain, and Thomson CSF, a French electronics company. The French claimed they had lost a $1.4 billion deal to supply Brazil with a radar system because the NSA shared details of the negotiations with Raytheon. Airbus may have lost a contract worth $2 billion to Boeing and McDonnell Douglas because of information intercepted and passed on by the agency.

According to former NSA agent Wayne Madsen, the US used information gathered from its bases in Australia to win a half share in a significant Indonesian trade contract for AT&T. Communication intercepts showed the contract was initially going to a Japanese firm. A bit later a lawsuit against the US and Britain was launched in France, judicial and parliamentary investigations began in Italy, and German parliamentarians demanded an inquiry.

 The rationale for turning the NSA loose on commercial activities, even those involving allies, was provided in the mid-90s by Sen. Frank DeConcini, then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I don’t think we should have a policy where we’re going to invade the Airbus inner sanctum and find out their secrets for the purpose of turning it over to Boeing or McDonnell Douglas,” he opined. “But if we find something, not to share it with our people seems to me to be not smart.”

  President Bill Clinton and other US officials buttressed this view by charging that European countries were unfairly subsidizing Airbus. In other words, competition with significant US interests can be a matter of national security, and private capitalism must be protected from state-run enterprises.

  The US-Europe row about Airbus subsidies was also used as a “test case” for scientists developing new intelligence tools. At US Defense Department conferences on “text retrieval,” competitions were staged to find the best methods. A standard test featured extracting protected data about “Airbus subsidies.”

Manipulating Democracy

In the end, influencing the outcome of commercial transactions is but the tip of this iceberg. The NSA’s ability to intercept to virtually any transmitted communication has enhanced the power of unelected officials and private interests to set covert foreign policy in motion. In some cases, the objective is clear and arguably defensible: taking effective action against terrorism, for example. But in others, the grand plans of the intelligence community have led it to undermine democracies.

  The 1975 removal of Australian Prime Minister Edward Whitlam is an instructive case. At the time of Whitlam’s election in 1972, Australian intelligence was working with the CIA against the Allende government in Chile. The new PM didn’t simply order a halt to Australia’s involvement, explained William Blum in Killing Hope, a masterful study of US interventions since World War II. Whitlam seized intelligence information withheld from him by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and disclosed the existence of a joint CIA-ASIO directorate that monitored radio traffic in Asia. He also openly disapproved of US plans to build up the Indian Ocean Island of Diego Garcia as a military-intelligence-nuclear outpost.

  Both the CIA and NSA became concerned about the security and future of crucial intelligence facilities in and near Australia. The country was already key member of UKUSA. After launching its first space-based listening post-a microwave receiver with an antenna pointed at earth-NSA had picked an isolated desert area in central Australia as a ground station. Once completed, the base at Alice Springs was named Pine Gap, the first of many listening posts to be installed around the world. For the NSA and CIA, Whitlam posed a threat to the secrecy and security of such operations.

  An early step was covert funding for the political opposition, in hopes of defeating Whitlam’s Labor Party in 1974. When that failed, meetings were held with the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, a figurehead representing the Queen of England who had worked for CIA front organizations since the 50s. Defense officials warned that intelligence links would be cut off unless someone stopped Whitlam. On November 11, 1975, Kerr responded, dismissing the prime minister, dissolving both houses of Parliament, and appointing an interim government until new elections were held.

  According to Christopher Boyce (subject of The Falcon and the Snowman, a fictionalized account), who watched the process while working for TRW in a CIA-linked cryptographic communications center, the spooks also infiltrated Australian labor unions and contrived to suppress transportation strikes that were holding up deliveries to US intelligence installations. Not coincidentally, some unions were leading the opposition to development of those same facilities.

     How often, and to what effect, such covert ops have succeeded is another of the mysteries that comprise an unwritten history of the last half century. Beyond that, systems like Echelon violate the human right to individual privacy, and give those who control the information the ability to act with impunity, sometimes destroying lives and negating the popular will in the process.

Hiding the Agenda in Peru

In May 1960, when a U-2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet territory, President Dwight Eisenhower took great pains to deny direct knowledge or authorization of the provocative mission. In reality, he personally oversaw every U-2 mission, and had even riskier and more provocative bomber overflights in mind.

It’s a basic rule of thumb for covert ops: When exposed, keep denying and deflect the blame. More important, never, never let on that the mission itself may be a pretext, or a diversion from some other, larger agenda.

Considering that, the April 20, 2001, shoot down of a plane carrying missionaries across the Brazilian border into Peru becomes highly suspicious. At first, the official story fed to the press was that Peruvian authorities ordered the attack on their own, over the pleas of the CIA “contract pilots” who initially spotted the plane. But Peruvian pilots involved in that program, supposedly designed to intercept drug flights, insist that nothing was shot down without US approval.

Innocent planes were sometimes attacked, but most were small, low flying aircraft that didn’t file flight plans and had no radios. This plane maintained regular contact and did file a plan. Still, even after it crash-landed, the Peruvians continued to strafe it, perhaps in an attempt to ignite the plane’s fuel and eliminate the evidence.

 ”I think it has to do with Plan Colombia and the coming war,” said Celerino Castillo, who had previously worked in Peru for Drug Enforcement Agency. “The CIA was sending a clear message to all non-combatants to clear out of the area, and to get favorable press.” The flight was heading to Iquitos, which “is at the heart of everything the CIA is doing right now,” he added. “They don’t want any witnesses.”

Timing also may have played a part. The shoot down occurred on the opening day of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Uruguay’s President Jorge Ibanez, who had proposed the worldwide legalization of drugs just weeks before, was expected to make a high-profile speech on his proposal at the gathering. The downing of a drug smuggling plane at this moment, near territory held by Colombia’s FARC rebels, would help to defuse Uruguay’s message and reinforce the image of the insurgents as drug smugglers.

If you doubt that the US would condone such an operation or cover it up, consider this: In 1967, Israel torpedoed the USS Liberty, a large floating listening post, as it was eavesdropping on the Arab-Israeli war off the Sinai Peninsula. Hundreds of US sailors were wounded and killed, probably because Israel feared that its massacre of Egyptian prisoners at El Arish might be overheard. How did the Pentagon respond? By imposing a total news ban, and covering up the facts for decades.

Will we ever find out what really happened in Peru, specifically why a missionary and her daughter were killed? Not likely, since it involves a private military contractor that is basically beyond the reach of congressional accountability.

In 2009, when the Peru shoot down became one of five cases of intelligence operation cover up being investigated by the US House Intelligence Committee, the CIA inspector general concluded that the CIA had improperly concealed information about the incident. Intelligence Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky, who led the investigation, didn’t rule out referrals to the Justice Department for criminal prosecutions if evidence surfaced that intelligence officials broke the law. But she couldn’t guarantee that the facts would ever come to light, since the Committee’s report of its investigation would be classified.

The most crucial wrinkle in the Peruvian incident is the involvement of DynCorp, which was active in Colombia and Bolivia under large contracts with various US agencies. The day after the incident, ABC news reported that, according to “senior administration officials,” the crew of the surveillance plane that first identified the doomed aircraft “was hired by the CIA from DynCorp.” Within two days, however, all references to DynCorp were scrubbed from ABC’s Website. A week later, the New York Post claimed the crew actually worked for Aviation Development Corp., allegedly a CIA proprietary company.

Whatever the truth, State Department officials refused to talk on the record about DynCorp’s activities in South America. Yet, according to DynCorp’s State Department contract, the firm had received at least $600 million over the previous few years for training, drug interdiction, search and rescue (which included combat), air transport of equipment and people, and reconnaissance in the region. And that was only what they put on paper. It also operated government aircraft and provided all manner of personnel, particularly for Plan Colombia.

Outsourcing Defense

DynCorp began in 1946 as the employee-owned air cargo business California Eastern Airways, flying in supplies for the Korean War. This and later government work led to charges that it was a CIA front company. Whatever the truth, it ultimately became a leading PMC, hiring former soldiers and police officers to implement US foreign policy without having to report to Congress.

 The push to privatize war gained traction during the first Bush administration. After the first Gulf War, the Pentagon, then headed by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, paid a Halliburton subsidiary nearly $9 million to study how PMCs could support US soldiers in combat zones, according to a Mother Jones investigation. Cheney subsequently became CEO of Halliburton, and Brown & Root, later known as Halliburton KBR, won billions to construct and run military bases, some in secret locations.

One of DynCorp’s earliest “police” contracts involved the protection of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and, after he was ousted, providing the “technical advice” that brought military officers involved in that coup into Haiti’s National Police. Despite this dodgy record, in 2002 it won the contract to protect another new president, Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai. By then, it was a top IT federal contractor specializing in computer systems development, and also providing the government with aviation services, general military management, and security expertise.

Like other private military outfits, the main danger it has faced is the risk of public exposure. Under one contract, for example, DynCorp sprayed vast quantities of herbicides over Colombia to kill the cocaine crop. In September 2001, Ecuadorian Indians filed a class action lawsuit, charging that DynCorp recklessly sprayed their homes and farms, causing illnesses and deaths and destroying crops. In Bosnia, private police provided by DynCorp for the UN were accused of buying and selling prostitutes, including a 12-year-old girl. Others were charged with videotaping a rape.

In the first years of the 21st century, DynCorp’s day-to-day operations in South America were overseen by State Department officials, including the Narcotic Affairs Section and the Air Wing, the latter a clique of unreformed cold warriors and leftovers from 80s operations in Central America. It was essentially the State Department’s private air force in the Andes, with access to satellite-based recording and mapping systems.

In the 1960s, a similar role was played by the Vinnell Corp., which the CIA called “our own private mercenary army in Vietnam.” Vinnell later became a subsidiary of TRW, a major NSA contractor, and employed US Special Forces vets to train Saudi Arabia’s National Guard. In the late 1990s, TRW hired former NSA director William Studeman to help with its intelligence program.

DynCorp avoided the kind of public scandal that surrounded the activities of Blackwater. In Ecuador, where it developed military logistics centers and coordinated “anti-terror” police training, the exposure of a secret covenant signed with the Aeronautics Industries Directorate of the Ecuadorian Air Force briefly threatened to make waves. According to a November 2003 exposé in Quito’s El Comercio, the arrangement, hidden from the National Defense Council, made DynCorp’s people part of the US diplomatic mission.

In Colombia, DynCorp’s coca eradication and search-and-rescue missions led to controversial pitched battles with rebels. US contract pilots flew Black Hawk helicopters carrying Colombian police officers who raked the countryside with machine gun fire to protect the missions against attacks. According to investigative reporter Jason Vest, DynCorp employees were also implicated in narcotics trafficking. But such stories didn’t get far, and, in any case, DynCorp’s “trainers” simply ignored congressional rules, including those that restrict the US from aiding military units linked to human rights abuses.

In 2003, DynCorp won a multimillion-dollar contract to build a private police force in post-Saddam Iraq, with some of the funding diverted from an anti-drug program for Afghanistan. In 2004, the State Department further expanded DynCorp’s role as a global US surrogate with a $1.75 billion, five year contract to provide law enforcement personnel for civilian policing operations in “post-conflict areas” around the world. That March, the company also got an Army contract to support helicopters sold to foreign countries. The work, described as “turnkey” services, includes program management, logistics support, maintenance and aircrew training, aircraft maintenance and refurbishment, repair and overhaul of aircraft components and engines, airframe and engine upgrades, and the production of technical publications.

In short, DynCorp was a trusted partner in the military-intelligence-industrial complex. “Are we outsourcing order to avoid public scrutiny, controversy or embarrassment?” asked Rep. Schakowsky upon submitting legislation to prohibit US funding for private military firms in the Andean region. “If there is a potential for a privatized Gulf of Tonkin incident, then the American people deserve to have a full and open debate before this policy goes any further.”

If and when that ever happens, the discussion will have to cover a lot of ground. Private firms, working in concert with various intelligence agencies, constitute a vast foreign policy apparatus that is largely invisible, rarely covered by the corporate press, and not currently subject to congressional oversight. The Freedom of Information Act simply doesn’t apply. Any information on whom they arm or how they operate is private, proprietary information.

 The US government downplays its use of mercenaries, a state of affairs that could undermine any efforts to find out about CIA activities that are concealed from Congress. Yet private contractors perform almost every function essential to military operations, a situation that has been called the “creeping privatization of the business of war.” By 2004, the Pentagon was employing more than 700,000 private contractors.

The companies are staffed by former generals, admirals, and highly trained officers. Name a hot spot and some PMC has people there. DynCorp has worked on the Defense Message System Transition Hub and done long-range planning for the Air Force. MPRI had a similar contract with the Army, and for a time coordinated the Pentagon’s military and leadership training in at least seven African nations.

How did this outsourcing of defense evolve? In 1969, the US Army had about 1.5 million active duty soldiers. By 1992, the figure had been cut by half. Since the mid-1990s, however, the US has mobilized militarily to intervene in several significant conflicts, and a corporate “foreign legion” has filled the gap between foreign policy imperatives and what a downsized, increasingly over-stretched military can provide.

Use of high technology equipment feeds the process. Private companies have technical capabilities that the military needs, but doesn’t always possess. Contractors have maintained stealth bombers and Predator unmanned drones used in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some military equipment is specifically designed to be operated and maintained by private companies.

     In Britain, the debate over military privatization has been public, since the activities of the UK company Sandline in Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea embarrassed the government in the late 1990s. But no country has clear policies to regulate PMCs, and the limited oversight that does exist rarely works. In the US, they have largely escaped notice, except when US contract workers in conflict zones are killed or go way over the line, as in the case of Blackwater.

     According to Guy Copeland, who began developing public-private IT policy in the Reagan years, “The private sector must play an integral role in improving our national cybersecurity.” After all, he has noted, private interests own and operate 85 percent of the nation’s critical IT infrastructure. He should know. After all, Copeland drafted much of the language in the Bush Administration’s 2002 National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace as co-chair of the Information Security Committee of the Information Technology Association of America.

 Nevertheless, when the federal government becomes dependent on unaccountable, private companies like DynCorp and Blackwater (later renamed Xe Services) for so many key security services, as well as for military logistics, management, strategy, expertise and “training,” fundamental elements of US defense have been outsourced. And the details of that relationship are matters that the intelligence community will fight long and hard to keep out of public view.

Corporate Connections and “Soft Landings”

Although the various departments and private contractors within the military-intelligence-industrial complex occasionally have turf battles and don’t always share information or coordinate strategy as effectively as they might, close and ongoing contact has long been considered essential. And it has expanded as a result of the information revolution. The entire intelligence community has its own secret Intranet, which pulls together FBI reports, NSA intercepts, analysis from the DIA and CIA, and other deeply covert sources.

Private firms are connected to this information web through staff, location, shared technology, and assorted contracts. Working primarily for the Pentagon, for example, L-3 Communications, a spinoff from major defense contractor Lockheed Martin, has manufactured hardware like control systems for satellites and flight recorders. MPRI, which was bought by L-3, provided services like its operations in Macedonia. L-3 also built the NSA’s Secure Terminal Equipment, which instantly encrypts phone conversations.

Another private contractor active in the Balkans was Science Applications, staffed by former NSA and CIA personnel, and specializing in police training. When Janice Stromsem, a Justice Department employee, complained that its program gave the CIA unfettered access to recruiting agents in foreign police forces, she was relieved of her duties. Her concern was that the sovereignty of nations receiving aid from the US was being compromised.

  In 1999, faced with personnel cuts, the NSA offered over 4000 employees “soft landing” buy outs to help them secure jobs with defense firms that have major NSA contracts. NSA offered to pay the first year’s salary, in hopes the contractor would then pick up the tab. Sometimes the employee didn’t even have to move away from Crypto City. Companies taking part in the program included TRW and MPRI’s parent company, Lockheed Martin.

  Lockheed was also a winner in the long-term effort to privatize government services. In 2000, it won a $43.8 million contract to run the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System, one of the largest human resources systems in the world. As a result, a major defense contractor took charge of consolidating all Department of Defense personnel systems, covering hiring and firing for about 750,000 civilian employees. This put the contractor at the cutting edge of Defense Department planning, and made it a key gatekeeper at the revolving door between the US military and private interests.

Invisible Threats

Shortly after his appointment as NSA director in 1999, Michael Hayden went to see the film Enemy of the State, in which Will Smith is pursued by an all-seeing, all hearing NSA and former operative Gene Hackman decries the agency’s dangerous power. In Body of Secrets, author Bamford says Hayden found the film entertaining, yet offensive and highly inaccurate. Still, the NSA chief was comforted by “a society that makes its bogeymen secrecy and power. That’s really what the movie’s about.”

  Unlike Hayden, most people don’t know where the fiction ends and NSA reality begins. Supposedly, the agency rarely “spies” on US citizens at home. On the other hand, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows a secret federal court to waive that limitation. The rest of the world doesn’t have that protection. Designating thousands of keywords, names, phrases, and phone numbers, NSA computers can pick them out of millions of messages, passing anything of interest on to analysts. One can only speculate about what happens next.

  After 9/11 the plan was to go further with a project code named Tempest. The goal was to capture computer signals such as keystrokes or monitor images through walls or from other buildings, even if the computers weren’t linked to a network. One NSA document, “Compromising Emanations Laboratory Test Requirements, Electromagnetics,” described procedures for capturing the radiation emitted from a computer-through radio waves and the telephone, serial, network, or power cables attached to it.

  Other NSA programs have included Oasis, designed to reduce audiovisual images into machine-readable text for easier filtering, and Fluent, which expanded Echelon’s multilingual capabilities. And let’s not forget the government’s Carnivore Internet surveillance program, which can collect all communications over any segment of the network being watched.

  Put such elements together, combine them with business imperatives and covert foreign policy objectives, then throw PMCS into the mix, and you get a glimpse of the extent to which information can be translated into raw power and secretly used to shape events. Although most pieces of the puzzle remain obscure, enough is visible to justify suspicion, outrage, and a campaign to pull away the curtain on this Wizard of Oz. But fighting a force that is largely invisible and unaccountable – and able to eavesdrop on the most private exchanges, that is a daunting task, perhaps even more difficult than confronting the mechanisms of corporate globalization that it protects and promotes.

La comunicazione è strategica

October 29th, 2013 by Manlio Dinucci

Chi l’avrebbe detto che il prof. Mario Mauro, laureato in let-tere e filosofia all’Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore e con l’esperienza militare di caporalmaggiore di leva, sarebbe di-venuto un esperto di strategia? Nominato ministro della dife-sa, ha emanato una «Direttiva sulla comunicazione strategi-ca».

Il presidente Napolitano – si spiega nella premessa – ha dichiarato che occorre reagire a disinformazioni e polemiche che colpiscono lo strumento militare, posto nello spirito della Costituzione a presidio della partecipazione italiana alle mis-sioni di stabilizzazione e di pace. Informare su cosa la Difesa sta facendo per assolvere i compiti istituzionali, non è quindi solo un dovere, ma una necessità per contrastare la diffusione di informazioni scorrette. Come quella – precisiamo – che noi del Manifesto diffondemmo nel 2011, denunciando la guerra di Libia e le sue vere ragioni, mentre il presidente Napolitano garantiva che «non siamo entrati in guerra, siamo impegnati in un’azione autorizzata dal Consiglio di sicurezza».

L’opinione pubblica e i mass media, sottolinea la Direttiva, devono essere messi in condizione di comprendere e apprez-zare la necessità di avere uno strumento militare capace, fles-sibile e proiettabile. Le nuove minacce alla sicurezza impon-gono di estendere l’impegno della Difesa lontano dai confini nazionali, per anticiparle e prevenirle. Una mancata risposta alla Comunità Internazionale (leggi la Nato sotto comando Usa) non danneggerebbe soltanto l’immagine del Paese, ma metterebbe a rischio anche i suoi interessi strategici ed eco-nomici. Occorre di conseguenza aumentare nel pubblico la consapevolezza che le operazioni militari contribuiscono alla crescita del Paese e che l’Italia vi deve assumere ruoli di sempre maggiore responsabilità.

Come quello, confermato da Mauro alla recente riunione Nato dei ministri della difesa, di partecipare al contingente di oltre 20mila uomini che resterà in Afghanistan dopo il 2014 e alla spesa di 4 miliardi di dol-lari annui da elargire al governo afghano (uno dei più corrotti al mondo).

Nelle operazioni militari, spiega la Direttiva, la comunicazione strategica deve essere considerata alla stregua delle altre funzioni operative. In altre parole, mentre si impe-gnano forze militari nelle guerre, occorre convincere i citta-dini sulla necessità di farlo. La stessa opera di convinzione, specifica la Direttiva, va fatta nei confronti delle comunità che vivono presso installazioni militari (convincendo ad esempio la popolazione di Niscemi a accettare il Muos) e dei cittadini restii ad accettare i programmi militari di investi-mento (convincendoli che è bene spendere 15 miliardi di euro per i caccia F-35).

La comunicazione strategica è diretta in generale ai media, al mondo della scuola, alle università, alle associazioni culturali. Deve allo stesso tempo puntare sugli «attori culturali» (giornalisti, conduttori di programmi televi-sivi, blogger e altri, perché convincano l’opinione pubblica a sostenere le forze armate e le loro operazioni) e sui «decisori politici» (ossia sui parlamentari perché votino leggi che raf-forzino il settore militare). Non si tratta solo di informare i destinatari delle scelte della Difesa, chiarisce la Direttiva, ma anche che questi siano coinvolti nel buon esito delle decisioni assunte.

In altre parole: quella pianificata dal ministero della difesa non è solo una colossale campagna di disinformazione, condotta da personale scelto e appositamente formato, ma un vero e proprio piano di militarizzazione delle menti.

Manlio Dinucci

Although the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, loudly praised himself for the vote on Resolution 2118 concerning chemical weapons in Syria, this text marks both the victory of Russia and that of President Bashar al -Assad. The vote carries within itself two consequences that permanently ruin the Franco-British claims on the country.

Once past the amazement of the U.S. spin out in Syria, a new political situation is emerging corresponding point by point to plans developed jointly by Russia and Syria in June 2012, that is to say, before the Geneva 1 Conference.

At the time, the Kremlin looked forward to negotiating an agreement with Washington to both solve the Syrian crisis and allow Obama to get out of his stifling huddle with Israel. But the plan, which would have become a project of shared governance in the Middle East, assumed the presence of Russian troops in Syria.

General Hassan Tourekmani had proposed at the time that troops inter-positioned and mandated by the United Nations be deployed by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (“Russian NATO”), since there already was a United Nations Force on Syrian soil charged with observing disengagement in the Golan.

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CSTO troops stand ready to deploy in Syria if the Security Council so requests.

The idea of this deployment has made headway. The CSTO signed a Protocol with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations in September of 2012, which allows it, as with NATO, to subcontract actions of the Security Council.

Over the past year, the CSTO prepared 50,000 men who can be projected in less than two weeks. But Moscow was afraid of falling into a trap: it was in order to destroy the Red Army that the CIA created, in 1979, with Saudi Arabia, the international jihadist movement today called Al- Qaeda. Would Syria be the new Afghanistan of the Russian army?Given U.S. hesitation, the project was stalled, but not abandoned. However, the solution to the chemical weapons crisis opens new possibilities.First, Resolution 2118 does not just support the Russian plan to destroy the remains of the Syrian chemical program of the 80’s, it implicitly requires the maintenance of President Bashar al -Assad in power for at least one year so that he can supervise this destruction. So, not only do the major Western powers no longer demand his departure, but they now favour an extension of his mandate and a postponement of the upcoming presidential election.

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The meeting of heads of state of the CSTO was preceded by a meeting of foreign ministers. Russian Sergey Lavrov explained the international situation regarding Syria. He stressed that if the jihadists present there were not neutralized on site, they would soon be transferred to other countries, notably in Central Asia.Second, Syria’s transmission of the list of its chemical weapons stockpiles to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) makes them vulnerable, since this list is sure to reach “the opposition army.”

Despite its efforts, the Syrian Arab Army cannot simultaneously fight international jihadists across the territory and defend its arsenals.

Anticipating this situation, the heads of state of the CSTO, gathered around Vladimir Putin in Sochi on September 23 –four days before the vote on Resolution 2118 in the Security Council–  gave the order to be ready to secure the destruction of chemical weapons, should the Security Council so request.

Armenian, Belarus , Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan , Russian and Tajikistan troops would not be deployed to intervene between the two camps as envisaged a year and a half ago, but to defend the arsenals of the state. Their task would be much simpler and more effective.

In this perspective, the 2500 forces of the CSTO who participate in maneuvers in Kazakhstan from October 7 to 11, will perform a simulation of this military confrontation.

Translation
Roger Lagassé

We Have Very Sophisticated Big Brothers in the World Now

October 29th, 2013 by Jeremy Scahill

Barrick Gold is thumbing its nose at a recommendation by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calling for an independent review of Barrick’s handling of victims of rape by security guards at Barrick’s Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Rather, Barrick’s remedial programme is reportedly processing rape victims this month and requiring legal waivers in exchange for benefits packages.

In August, MiningWatch Canada received a thirteen-page ‘opinion’ from the UN High Commissioner in response to letters MiningWatch had written to alert her to the fact that Barrick’s handling of rape victims at its mine in PNG is further undermining their rights. Barrick is making indigenous rape victims sign away their rights to sue the company in return for benefits packages. The compensation packages themselves are not proportional to the magnitude of the injuries the women have suffered.

Following a field visit in March, 2013, MiningWatch and other human rights experts concluded that Barrick’s remediation programme does not meet international human rights criteria and that the packages Barrick is offering the women are not ‘rights-compatible’. In particular, MiningWatch discovered that the rape victims themselves had not been consulted as to the remedy they might receive from Barrick. The women told MiningWatch that the items they had been offered, such as baby chicks to raise or second hand clothes to sell, did not meet their expectations or needs.

“Women told me that a culturally appropriate remedy would be mature pigs and cash with values considerably higher than those of the items being offered by Barrick,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada. “Some women also sought remedies that would address the consequences of their rapes, such as loss of housing due to being ostracized.”

The UN High Commissioner is sufficiently concerned to have called for an independent review of Barrick’s remediation programme by a party that is considered credible by “key stakeholders.” MiningWatch Canada supports this call and has offered to participate in such a review. “Barrick should not process rape victims before submitting the programme to an independent review,” says Coumans.

Two children who were injured in a CIA drone strike in Pakistan which killed their grandmother are today visiting the US Congress, along with their school-teacher father, to give evidence on their ordeal.

Rafiq ur Rehman – a primary (elementary) teacher in North Waziristan – and his children Zubair (13) and Nabila (9) are the first victims of the covert drone programme to give evidence in person to members of Congress.  The children’s grandmother – Mr Rehman’s mother – Mammana Bibi (67) was killed in a CIA strike in October 2012.

They are clients of human rights charity Reprieve, and will be joined by their legal representative Jennifer Gibson.  Their Islamabad-based lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, a Fellow of Reprieve, had intended to join them, but was denied a visa by the US authorities – a recurring problem since he began representing civilian victims of drone strikes in 2011.

In testimony to be delivered to members of Congress today, Zubair will say: “My grandmother was nobody’s enemy. She was kind and caring. She used to help the mothers in my village deliver their babies.  In the evening, she would tell all of the children to gather around and she would tell us stories. Stories of her life, of our family, of our community. She had so many stories that I can’t pick a favourite. I miss all of them.” His testimony will also describe the strike which killed his grandmother, and how he was nearby when it happened, and injured in the leg by shrapnel.

Mr Rehman will tell Congress: “In urdu we have a saying: aik lari main pro kay rakhna. Literally translated, it means the string that holds the pearls together. That is what my mother was. She was the string that held our family together. Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost. We also feel scared. My family no longer gathers together like it did when my mother was alive. I hardly see my brothers and sisters and my children rarely see their cousins. Their cousins tell them that they are afraid to visit because the drone might then kill them, too.”

Reprieve Staff Attorney Jennifer Gibson will say: “The onus is now on President Obama and his Administration to bring this war out of the shadows and to give answers. That is how a democracy works. Democracies demand transparency. They cannot operate in shadows. Until we do that, every child who loses life or limb persuades dozens more in tribal Pakistan that the United States does not distinguish friend from foe. Children who are not hit themselves, like Nabila and Zubair, continue to live in terror that the hovering drone may attack them next. Silence in the face of this only fuels resentment – not just against the United States, but against the government of Pakistan for its complicity in these killings. Too often this debate has been a quibble about statistics and not about the human cost – and political consequence – of the drone wars. I hope today’s testimony offers a much-needed antidote to this.”

Obama Encourages Spying on World Leaders

October 29th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

He lied claiming otherwise. He’s a serial liar. He’s a moral coward. He’s a war criminal multiple times over. He did what supporters thought impossible.

He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He plans lots more ways to prove it through 2016. Humanity may not survive the ordeal.

On October 27, Deutche Welle (DW) headlined “Media reports suggest Obama knew NSA spied on Merkel.”

Der Spiegel said NSA’s Special Collection Service (SCS) monitored her cell phone conversations since 2002. Obama lied telling Merkel he knew nothing about it.

He encourages global spying. He wants world leaders monitored. He wants stepped up surveillance doing it.

According to DW, “a report in Bild am Sonntag published Sunday cites an unnamed NSA official who said (Obama) ordered the program be escalated.”

NSA chief Keith Alexander told Obama about monitoring Merkel’s phone calls. It hacked into her “supposedly secure phone”

“Only a special, secure landline phone in her office was reportedly not accessible to electronic tapping.”

Hacked information was reported directly to the White House. Evidence suggests monitoring Merkel continued at least through the “immediate past.”

Despite official disclaimers, most likely it continues. A previous article discussing spying on 35 world leaders. They weren’t named. It’s not hard imagining likely targets.

Perhaps lots more than 35 are monitored. NSA may add others to its list. Global spying is official US policy. No one’s safe from intrusion.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), “it’s very, very difficult to defend yourself.” At most, you can make it tougher, more time consuming and expensive to do it. More on that below.

On October 27, Der Spiegel headlined “Embassy Espionage: The NSA’s Secret Spy Hub in Berlin,” saying:

Its research shows “United States intelligence agencies have not only targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, but they have also used the American Embassy in Berlin as a listening station.”

“The revelations now pose a serious threat to German-American relations.”

“It’s a prime site, a diplomat’s dream. Is there any better location for an embassy than Berlin’s Pariser Platz?”

It’s close to the Reichstag. “When the American ambassador steps out the door, he looks directly onto the Brandenburg Gate.”

It’s in Germany’s “political heart.” It’s an “ideal location for diplomats – and for spies.”

It’s an espionage nest. From its roof, NSA and CIA monitor official German government communications.

Doing so threatens “the trans-Atlantic partnership. Hardly anything is as sensitive (to) Merkel as the surveillance of her cellphone.”

She’s on it constantly. It’s “her instrument of power.” She relies on it for much government business.

She, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff as well as other European and Latin American leaders want UN resolution action.

They want privacy intrusions stopped. They want spy-proof space. The world body can’t provide it. Technological innovation alone has a chance.

Der Postillion is a satirical web site. It calls itself  ”honest news, independent, fast, since 1845.”

It inspired America’s The Onion. It combines entertainment with satirical international, national and local news articles.

Steffen Seibert is Merkel’s spokesman. Last week, Der Postillon posted a satirical version of his comment, saying:

“The chancellor considers it a slap in the face that she has most likely been monitored over the years just like some mangy resident of Germany.”

It’s her choice on how much she’s willing to tolerate. Maybe she spies on Obama in return.

Why not? Allies routinely spy on friends and foes. It’s longstanding practice. It’s not about to end now. It’s much more sophisticated and widespread then earlier.

Merkel and likeminded world leaders apparently want a red line drawn not to be crossed. They want their private space kept that way.

UN resolutions won’t help. NSA is easily able to circumvent them. Its Special Collection Service operations (SCS) are highly classified.

They’re involved in spying in hard to reach places. They include foreign embassies, communication centers, and other government facilities.

SCS was established in the late 1970s. It’s been called America’s “mission impossible force.”

It’s responsible for “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering.” It’s jointly staffed by NSA and CIA operatives.

They work out of US embassies and consulates. Their mission is all embracing. Get it all describes it.

SCS combines NSA’s electronic spying expertise with CIA’s covert action capabilities.

Together they target foreign government officials. They’re not likely to stop. They use all sorts of sophisticated listening devices.

They bug foreign embassies, communications centers, computer facilities, fiber-optic networks, and other government facilities. Virtually any space is penetrable.

Nothing ongoing is officially acknowledged.  Operations are top secret. According to Der Spiegel, SCS maintains two German bases – one in Berlin (Germany’s seat of government), the other in Frankfort (its business hub).

They’re “equipped at the highest level and staffed with active personnel.”

Teams work undercover. They’re in “shielded areas.” They’re “officially accredited as diplomats.” They enjoy “special privileges.”

They can “look and listen unhindered. They just can’t get caught.” Their operations are illegal. They’re ongoing.

Sophisticated listening devices monitor virtually all forms of communications. They include online ones, cell signals, wireless networks and satellites.

Equipment is installed on upper floors or rooftops. It’s protected from prying eyes.

Window-like indentations atop Washington’s US German embassy aren’t glazed. They’re veneered with “dielectric” material.

They blend into surrounding masonry. Equipment is installed behind radio-transparent screens.

NSA expert James Bamford visited Der Spiegel’s Berlin bureau. It’s located diagonally opposite Washington’s embassy.

“To me, it looks like NSA eavesdropping equipment is hidden behind there,” he said.

“The covering seems to be made of the same material that the agency uses to shield larger systems.”

SCS apparently uses the same technology worldwide. It goes to great pains to conceal it.

According to top secret internal guidelines, if it’s discovered, it “would cause serious harm to relations between the United States and a foreign government.”

NSA targeted Merkel for over a decade. It began when she was Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party head.

It continued when she became chancellor. Despite Washington’s disclaimer, it likely remains ongoing. Der Spiegel asked:

“Were all of her conversations recorded or just connection data? Were her movements also being recorded?”

It bears repeating. NSA’s mission is get it all. The White House and US spy agencies jointly pick high-profile targets.

A matrix of global surveillance is developed.  It’s called the “National Intelligence Priorities Framework.” It’s “presidentially approved.”

One category is called “Leadership Intentions.” It targets foreign leaders’ goals and objectives.

According to former NSA official Thomas Drake:

Post-9/11, “Germany became intelligence target number one in Europe.” At issue is a level of mistrust.

“It has always been the NSA’s (mission) to conduct as much surveillance as possible,” Drake added.

Der Spiegel told German security about NSA monitoring Merkel’s cell phone communications. Perhaps it already knew. Its own due diligence confirmed it.

If knowledge about America monitoring Merkel was revealed, “it would be a political bomb,” said Der Spiegel.

Obama visited Germany last summer. He lied saying Washington wasn’t spying on its ally.

Merkel called Obama last week. He lied again claiming he knew nothing about monitoring her cell phone communications.

According to Der Spiegel, “(a)re the German security agencies too trusting of the Americans?”

Counterintelligence mostly focuses on China and Russia. Consideration earlier was given to looking harder at “what American agents were up to in the country.”

It was considered too politically sensitive. The idea was dropped. At issue mainly was to what extent allies should be monitored. Are heads of state off limits? Is anything goes OK?

It sure is for Washington. European capitals no doubt are reevaluating their own policies.

German agencies want their capabilities enhanced, said Der Spiegel. Scrambling across Europe and elsewhere seems likely.

Merkel considers Obama “overrated.” He “talks a lot but does little” He’s “unreliable to boot.”

He says one thing. He does another. He’s an inveterate liar. He’s not about to change.

Merkel is a creature of habit. She relies heavily on cell phone communications. She uses it to send text messages.

“Only for the very delicate conversations (does) she switch to a secure line,” said Der Spiegel.

Maybe close associates will make her take greater precautions. At the same time, maybe nothing is safe from NSA’s prying eye.

Arranging a “no-spying” deal with Washington isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

An earlier “Five Eyes” deal allegedly excludes spying on English speaking countries. They include Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

NSA spies globally. Agreements are made to be broken. Doing so is kept secret. Israel operates the same way. Perhaps Germany, France and other European states do.

Spying is an ugly business. The expression about no honor among thieves holds manyfold for intelligence agencies.

They operate unaccountably. They do whatever they want. They’re unapologetic. They’re not about to change longstanding tactics. They’re upgraded as technology advances.

A Final Comment

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) listed 10 protections against online surveillance:

(1) “Use end-to-end encryption.” It’s “your friend,” says computer security expert Bruce Schneier.

(2) Encrypt as many communications as possible. The more the better.

(3) “Encrypt your hard drive.” Without doing so, anyone can access your computer, tablet or smartphone. Contents can be copied with no password.

(4) Long strong passwords are best.

(5) “Use Tor. Free software permits online anonymity. Tor makes it hard to track Internet activity.

(6) Use two-factor or two-step authentication. Google, Twitter and Dropbox have it.

Google calls two-step protection for “your account with both your password and your phone.” It helps “keep bad guys out, even if they have your password.”

(7) “Don’t click on attachments.” Request information sent in text form.

(8) Update software. Use anti-virus software.

(9) “Keep extra secret information extra secret.” Encrypt and conceal what’s most private. TrueCrypt can encrypt a USB flash drive.

(10) “Be an ally.” To challenge today’s surveillance state, teach others what you learned. Explain why it’s important. Get involved in anti-mass-spying campaigns.

“They need to stop watching us; and we need to start making it much harder for them to get away with it,” said EFF.

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

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/obama-encourages-spying-world-leaders/

 

New revelations on the National Security Agency’s activities and the consequences of its bugging of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone dominated German media at the start of the week.

Under the headline “The Sinister Friend,” the German weekly Der Spiegel warned Monday of the threat of an “ice age” in German-American relations. It reported that a likely centre of the US spying operation was the massive, recently built US embassy at Brandenburg Gate, just a stone’s throw from the Chancellery and the main German government buildings. Der Spiegel suggested that a listening post had been established in the embassy, which has a forest of antennae on its roof.

Infrared images indicate that enormous amounts of energy are being consumed inside the building, indicating surveillance activities.

Systematic monitoring of leading German politicians and officials began in 2002, when the Social Democratic (SPD)-Green Party government headed by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) spoke out against German participation in the impending Iraq war. Over the ensuing years, the monitoring of the German government was systematically extended. In addition to the German chancellor, the NSA has monitored at least 34 other international leaders.

The NSA surveillance operations are not limited to politicians, but target masses of people throughout Europe. It was reported at the weekend that the US secret services had monitored 60 million phone calls in Spain in December alone. According to Spanish news reports, the NSA had gathered information on phone numbers, the origin and duration of calls, and their content.

On Monday, the Spanish Foreign Ministry officially summoned the US ambassador to inform him of the displeasure of the Spanish government and demand an explanation.

Commenting on the Der Spiegel report, columnist Jakob Augstein wrote: “The bitter truth is that digital omnipotence has turned the heads of the Americans. Is the country in its current condition even capable of maintaining an alliance?”

Augstein went on to say that the United States “regards its right to security to be absolute and all-embracing—and has thereby become somewhat self-destructive.” There was no conceivable benefit that could outweigh the damage already done by the recently exposed espionage, he concluded.

The conservative newspaper Die Welt declared that the Obama administration was enmeshed “in its most dangerous crisis,” while the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported that German anger over US spying was intense. The “Obama-mania” that prevailed in layers of the European population before his 2008 election had disappeared.

High-ranking representatives of the German government and parliament from all parties declared their indignation in press releases and statements. At the end of last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel scolded the US administration. “Spying on friends is unacceptable,” she declared prior to the EU summit in Brussels, adding, “We need trust between allies and partners, and such trust must now be restored.”

Despite the criticisms and demands for an explanation or apology directed at Washington, the German government is trying to limit the damage.

On Monday afternoon, it was announced that the federal parliament (Bundestag) would hold a special session to discuss the bugging activities of the NSA. The meeting is planned, however, for three weeks’ time—on November 18. A speaker for the conservative “union” parties (Christian Democratic Union—CDU and Christian Social Union—CSU) confirmed that “union” fraction leader Volker Kauder (CDU) and his counterpart from the SPD, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, had agreed on the meeting.

The Green Party and Left Party both welcomed the decision, renewing their call for a parliamentary investigation into the espionage allegations. This proposal could be put to a vote at the November meeting.

On Sunday evening, Kauder told the ZDF television channel that the CDU-CSU would not oppose such a parliamentary investigation. “If the two small opposition parties (i.e., the Greens and the Left Party) want the committee, we will allow it,” he said. The previous day he had categorically rejected the demand for such an investigation.

The CDU/CSU and the SPD, which are currently involved in negotiations for a new coalition government, have apparently concluded that the political crisis is so deep and has such far-reaching consequences that cooperation between all parties is vital.

The three weeks until the planned parliamentary session are to be used to defuse the crisis as much as possible. The chancellor has taken every opportunity to signal to the Obama administration that she is very concerned about the “jolt to the transatlantic relationship” and is committed to the continuation and strengthening of that relationship.

While repeatedly expressing anger over the NSA wiretap, Merkel has rejected calls for concrete measures against the US, most notably a halt to current negotiations for a free trade pact between Europe and the US.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert declared that German interest in a free trade agreement remained intact. He was responding to demands by sections of the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party, and also some voices within the CSU, to suspend negotiations until the allegations against US intelligence are answered.

Nevertheless, Merkel’s attempts at conciliation cannot hide the fact that a profound rupture in international relations has taken place, with far-reaching consequences that are only gradually coming to the surface.

For decades, the German intelligence services have worked closely with their American counterparts. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic are intent on building up their police state apparatuses in order to suppress their respective populations. This is behind the hostility of both Washington and Berlin to the revelations made by Edward Snowden.

The exposure of the criminal nature of the activities of the US secret services comes as an embarrassment to US intelligence agencies’ German partners. A discussion has already commenced in the press and political circles regarding the need to beef up the German intelligence services to permit them to carry out spying operations domestically and internationally with greater independence from the US.

Writing at the end of last week in the Financial Times, the editor of Die Zeit, Josef Joffe, a fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a close ally of the US, called upon governments in Berlin and throughout Europe to “stop whining.” It is better, Joffe wrote, “to remember the rules: good counter-intelligence is more effective than sulky pouting; the best defence is offence—if you, my good friend, spy on me, I spy on you; and most important—do not get caught.”

Joffe complained about the backwardness of the German government’s communications systems and went so far as to evoke the notorious secret services of the Nazis as a model. “Berlin has a long way to go in emulating its fabled Second World War Abwehr,” he concluded.