Venezuela: Anti-Chavista Mayhem Reminiscent of 2002 US-Backed Coup

February 19th, 2014 by Council on Hemispheric Affairs

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) views with great alarm the violence perpetrated against the democratically elected government and civilians in Venezuela that has resulted, as of February 12, 2014, in three confirmed deaths, 61 persons wounded and 69 detained. The carnage and destruction in Caracas on Wednesday comes on the heels of generally peaceful marches held on the 200th anniversary of the battle of La Victoria, a battle in which students played a critical role in a victory against royalist forces during Venezuela’s war of independence. While some groups of students marched in celebration of the Day of the Student, anti-government demonstrators used the occasion to protest episodic shortages of some basic goods, persistent crime, and to demand the release of students who had been arrested in earlier demonstrations.

The vicious street attack near the national headquarters of the prosecutor’s office in Caracas came after several days of often violent anti-government protests in the streets of Aragua, Lara, Mérida and Táchira. [1] Some of these protests included the use of rocks, guns, and Molotov cocktails, and were largely directed against government buildings, the public (pro-government) television station Venezolana de Televisión, vehicles and other property, the police, and civilians.

Among the injured were three students of the Central University of Venezuela who were reportedly wounded by gunfire as well as 17 Bolivarian National Police personnel, two of whom were attacked with Molotov Cocktails.  Among those killed in Caracas were Juan Montoya, a community activist in the pro-Chavista 23rd of January barrio and Bassil Da Costa, a marketing student. A third person was killed in the Chacao neighborhood in the Eastern part of the Venezuelan capital.

In Venezuela, the media war and the contest over how to portray the demonstrations and violence is already at full throttle. Thabata Molina, reporting for the opposition newspaper El Universal (February 13), claimed that Montoya and one other victim were shot in the head by pro-government “collectivists” who, Molina reports, without offering evidence, were shooting at student marchers. [2] The term “colectivos” is being used in this context to evoke a pejorative image of Chavistas who are associates of collectives. Molina’s version of events has been challenged by reports by a number of eye witnesses as well as reporters who suggest right wing extremists were taking advantage of the day of demonstrations to wreak violence and death. [3] Also, the generally anti-government flavor of the attacks indicates that the main culprits are more likely extreme elements of the opposition. It stretches the bounds of credibility to argue that the government would seek to destabilize itself when it has come out the winner in two important elections (presidential and municipal), has made reducing violence and crime a top priority, has recently met with opposition mayors to find ground on which to cooperate, and seeks a peaceful implementation of the government’s six year plan (Plan de la Patria).

 RENOUNCING VIOLENCE

Venezuelans who are now mobilizing in the barrios of Caracas have seen a similar set of events unfold during the prelude to the coup of 2002 against the democratically elected former President Hugo Chavez, so they are not likely to be taken in by the opposition’s skewed version of events. On the contrary, the killings have ignited calls from the Chavista base for strong government intervention to bring a halt to the violence and punish both the intellectual authors and the direct perpetrators of these crimes.  [4] A number of student leaders, both pro and anti government, have spoken out against the violence, and the more ostensibly moderate elements of the opposition that have called for peaceful marches have also condemned the violence. Former right wing MUD candidate for President and current governor of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, who participated in a pro-opposition student march, has distanced himself from the ultra-right, declaring on twitter “”We condemn the violence. Violence will never be our path. We are sure that the large majority reject and condemn this!” [5] While it is uncertain whether Capriles’s statement signals a growing breach within the opposition leadership over strategy and tactics, his statement correctly reads the aversion to violence of the large majority of Venezuelans. There is well founded skepticism about whether Capriles is committed to democratic procedures and peace. The proof is in the practice.

Photo Source: Correo del Orinoco.

Photo Source: Correo del Orinoco.

A mounting number of Chavistas in the government and among the popular sectors fault ultra-right wing leader of the Voluntad Popular party, Leopoldo López, for inciting much of the violence. The right wing figure, who played a role in the short-lived coup against former President Hugo Chavez in 2002, has been calling for more demonstrations and for the “exit” of Maduro from the government, blaming government repression by the national guard for the violence. In an interview with Reuters reporter Peter Murphy on February 11, López insisted that his intention was to lead peaceful protests, declaring, “We are proposing to have millions of people supporting the movement and to activate one of the mechanisms that is within the Constitution, including (seeking) the resignation of the president” adding that “It’s not a conspiracy, it’s not incitement to a coup … It’s the citizens’ right to assemble in the street.” [6]

Speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, accused armed right wing groups for the killings, saying, “They are fascists, murderers, and then they talk about dialogue.” [7] In an interview with TeleSUR, Foreign Minister Elías Jaua has declared that, “there are fascist groups that are defending transnational interests that seek an end to the sovereign and independent management  of the natural resources, just as they have done ever since the arrival of Commandante (Hugo) Chavez fifteen years ago.” [8] He alleged that Leopoldo López was the “intellectual author of the deaths and injuries in Caracas.” [9] On February 13, El Universal reported that a warrant had been issued by a Caracas judge for Leopoldo López’s arrest on charges that include homicide and terrorism. [10]  This press report, however, has not yet been confirmed by the Attorney General or other judicial authority.

MADURO CALLS FOR RESTRAINT AND RESOLVE

Government officials have been urging against retaliation and are seeking to avoid any escalation of violence in the streets. Maduro charged that “these are trained groups who… are prepared to overthrow the government in a violent way, and I’m not going to allow this, so I call on Venezuela to be peaceful.” [11] He has also promised to fully support the attorney general in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of the violence and murder. Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, said detainees would be presented promptly for judicial review. [12]

The practice of extreme elements of the opposition during the past week does indeed look somewhat similar to the tactics used to engineer a coup in 2002. The balance of forces, however, is not on the side of counter revolution. First, the memory of the 2002 coup has produced an alert Chavista base that is prepared to join in a civic military alliance to defend the bolivarian revolution from any threats from within or without. Second, the opposition is not of one voice, with more moderate sectors opting out of violent confrontation and seeking to shake off the stain of golpismo.  Third, the opposition strategy of turning the municipal elections of December 8, 2013 into a plebiscite on the status of the Maduro administration only magnified the Chavista victory at the polls and has generally solidified Maduro’s democratic legitimacy both at home and abroad. Fourth, Maduro has galvanized the Chavista base by launching a counter offensive in the economic war and stepping up government support for the communal organizations that express grass roots constituent power. While there are indeed some divisions within Chavismo, in this moment of crisis they have apparently closed ranks when the fate of the revolution is at stake.

THE BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION STAYS THE COURSE

The moderate response of Maduro to what he takes to be an attempted coup, should not be mistaken for a lack of resolve.  Nor should this challenge by the extreme right sabotage the attempts by Maduro to build national unity with the more moderate opposition in the fight against crime.  The current clash between revolution and counter revolution reflects an underlying dialectic between two different visions of the social and economic spheres. The Chavista counter offensive in the economic war has seriously called into question the priority of the claims of private property over the claims of human life and development for all citizens. We can expect the government counter offensive, the struggle for food sovereignty, and the building of communes to continue unabated, despite challenges, sometimes violent, from the hard liners on the right. For the formerly excluded and dispossessed, for those working towards building 21st century socialism, there is no turning back.

COHA Staff

Please accept this article as a free contribution from COHA, but if re-posting, please afford authorial and institutional attribution. Exclusive rights can be negotiated.

For additional news and analysis on Latin America, please go to: LatinNews.com and Rights Action

February 18, 2014 – Addendum: This article incorrectly defines colectivos as “a pejorative image of Chavistas who are associates of collectives.” Colectivos refers to militant grassroot groups “which view themselves as the defenders of revolutionary socialism but are denounced by opponents as thugs.” ( See: Daniel Wallis, “Venezuela violence puts focus on ‘militant’ groups,” Reuters, February 13, 2014. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/13/us-venezuela-protests-colectivos-idUSBREA1C1YW20140213 )

References

[1] Juan Francisco Alonso. “Fiscal assegai que atacantes del Ministerio Público buscaban “matar,” El Universal, February 13, 2014.             http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140213/fiscal-asegura-que-atacantes-del-ministerio-publico-buscaban-matar; Molina, Thabata. “Jornada de protesta dejó tres muertos,” El Universal, February 13, 2014.             http://www.eluniversal.com/sucesos/140213/jornada-de-protesta-dejo-tres-muertos; Pearson, Tamara and Ryan Mallet-Outtrim. “Peaceful Marches and Opposition Violence, Two Deaths Mark Day of Youth in Venezuela,” Venezuelanalysis.com,February 12, 2014.             http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10346; see also La Nacion on events in Tachira. http://www.lanacion.com.ve/regional/gobernador-del-tachira-denuncio-plan-para-incendiar-san-cristobal/ [All articles were accessed on 13 Feb. 2014].

[2] See note 1, Thabata Molina, February 13, 2014.

[3] Pearson, Tamara. “Opposition Violence Continues in Some Venezuelan  Cities, Attacks on Journalists,” Venezuelananalysis.com, February 11, 2014. http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10345 [Accessed on February 13, 2014].

[4] The Aporrea.org website has a series of videos on the anti-government violence and the Chavista response. See, for example, “A Community Response to the Killings,” and “Pueblo exige justicia contra los responsables de muertes y hechos violentos generados desde la oposición,” February 12, 2014. http://www.aporrea.org/oposicion/n245059.html [Accessed on February 13, 2014].

[5] “Condena Capriles Violencia Tras Marchas En Venezuela,” El Universal, February 12, 2014. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/el-mundo/2014/condena-capriles-violencia-tras-marchas-en-venezuela-987146.html [Accessed on February 13, 2014]

[6] Murphy, Peter. “Venezuela Protest Leader Says Seeks Maduro’s Exit, Not Coup,”Reuters, February 12, 2014 http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/12/us-venezuela-opposition-lopez-idUSBREA1B1UJ20140212 [Accessed on February 13, 2014].

[7] see note 1, Pearson, Tamara and Ryan Mallet-Outtrim. Venezuelananalysis.com, 10346.

[8] “Venezuela está enfrentando a un grupo fascista liderado por Leopoldo López,”Correo del Orinoco, February13 http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/multipolaridad/venezuela-esta-enfrentando-a-un-grupo-fascista-liderado-por-leopoldo-lopez/ (The translation into English is the author’s and is not official)[Accessed on February 13, 2014].

[9] See note 1, Pearson, Tamara and Ryan Mallet-Outtrim. Venezuelananalysis.com, 10346.

[10] Juan Francisco Alonso. El Universal, February 13, 2014. http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140213/ordenan-al-sebin-capturar-a-leopoldo-lopez [Accessed on February 13, 2014].

[11] See note 1, Pearson, Tamara and Ryan Mallet-Outtrim. Venezuelananalysis.com, 10346.

[12] See note 1.  El Universal, 104213. http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140213/fiscal-asegura-que-atacantes-del-ministerio-publico-buscaban-matar[Accessed on February 13, 2014].

Drone victims are today lodging a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing NATO member states of war crimes over their role in facilitating the US’ covert drone programme in Pakistan.

It has been revealed in recent months that the UK, Germany, Australia, and other NATO partners support US drone strikes through intelligence-sharing. Because all these countries are signatories to the Rome Statute, they fall under The ICC’s jurisdiction and can therefore be investigated for war crimes. Kareem Khan - whose civilian brother and son were killed in a 2009 drone strike – is at The Hague with his lawyers from the human rights charity Reprieve and the Foundation for Fundamental Rights who have filed the complaint on his behalf.

The CIA has launched more than 300 missiles at North Waziristan since its covert drone programme began and it is estimated that between 2004 and 2013, thousands of people have been killed, many of them civilians including children.

The US has immunised itself from legal accountability over drone strikes and the UK has closed its domestic courts to foreign drone victims. In a recent decision, the Court of Appeal in London ruled that it would not opine on the legality of British agents’ involvement in the US drone war in Pakistan, for fear of causing embarrassment to its closest ally.

Kat Craig, Reprieve’s legal director, said: “There can surely be no doubt that facilitating the deaths of thousands of civilians – as NATO allies are doing in a plethora of ways – constitutes war crimes. The International Criminal Court, established specifically to hold overwhelming state power to account, is in a unique position to offer some semblance of justice to individual drone victims with nowhere else to go. They must take this complaint seriously and investigate.”

Last week Comcast, the largest US cable television and broadband provider, announced that it would merge with Time Warner Cable, taking over the second-largest US cable company for $45 billion. The merger would create a vast monopoly that would control over one third of the cable television and broadband Internet markets in the United States.

The merger is yet another expression of the growing control of enormous corporations over ever-greater sections of media, communications, and economic life, and the effective abandonment of anti-trust regulation by the US government.

The company that would result from the proposed merger would have almost twice as many broadband Internet subscribers as its closest competitor, and would have some 32 million customers, according to figures by the Leichtman Research Group. Its two closest competitors, AT&T and Verizon, have 16 million and 9 million customers, respectively.

In 2009, a federal court struck down a law that prevented cable television companies from controlling more than 30 percent of the market. The two companies have a combined market share of 38 percent. The merger will give Comcast a dominant position in 19 out of 20 major metropolitan areas in the country.

The merger will also allow Comcast and its competitors to engage in further price gouging, under conditions in which service fees are already enormously inflated. Comcast collects nearly $160 per month from the average customer, with many paying far more. But even while charging exorbitant prices, Comcast and Time Warner have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings among cable companies, and the third and fourth lowest customer satisfaction ratings out of all US corporations.

These companies exploit technology developed primarily through government funding and research. Subordinating everything to profit, they have helped to make the United States among the most backward in terms of Internet communications of any of the developed countries. By way of comparison, Hong Kong has broadband speeds that are triple those of the US, while those in Romania are more than twice as fast.

According to Comcast, the new company formed through the merger would save $1.5 billion annually in “synergies,” largely through layoffs.

The enormous consolidation of major corporations has been the outcome of deregulation in the telecommunications, energy, and airline industries, which was launched by the Democrats in the late 70s in the name of promoting consumer choice.

Given its record on antitrust issues, there is little reason to expect any substantial opposition to the merger by the Obama Administration. Last year the White House gave the go-ahead for the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, paving the way for the creation of the world’s largest air carrier and the further monopolization of the US and international airline industry.

Both the Comcast and US Airways mergers are an example of the growing domination of the US economy by giant corporations. The portion of total business revenues received by the top 200 US corporations has grown from 21 percent in 1950 to nearly 30 percent in 2008. The profits of these companies have grown even more sharply—from 13 percent of GDP in 1950 to over 30 percent in 2005.

The proposed merger follows three years after the acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast, which in the face of substantial public protest, was given the go-ahead by the Obama Administration in 2011. The deal gave Comcast control over not only the distribution of content, but control of major TV networks, including one of the country’s most popular sources of news.

The merger represents a real threat not only to the economic well being of the US population, but to fundamental democratic rights. The response by the telecommunications companies and government to the revelations of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden has been to tighten the control of service providers over access to Internet content. These providers, it should be remembered, are key partners of the US intelligence apparatus in their ongoing illegal surveillance of the US population.

Last month, the Washington, DC Circuit Federal Court of Appeals struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 Open Internet (OI) regulations, dealing a significant blow to “Net Neutrality,” which prohibits Internet service providers from discriminating against users based on the type of content they are seeking to access.

Comcast is extraordinarily well connected to the White House and federal regulators. Comcast’s Chief executive, Bryan Roberts, who is worth more than $1 billion and received nearly $30 million in compensation in 2012, has been Obama’s golfing partner on Martha’s Vineyard.

David L. Cohen, the company’s head lobbyist, has even closer ties to the administration. As the New York Times reported, “A major Democratic fund-raiser, Mr. Cohen and his wife hosted Mr. Obama at their Philadelphia home in 2011, raising $1.2 million at an event where the president called the couple ‘great friends.’ Mr. Cohen also was a guest at the White House on Tuesday for the state dinner in honor of President François Hollande of France.”

Tom Wheeler, the current FCC chairman, was once the head of the cable industry lobby, while the current director of the Justice Department’s antitrust division served as a lawyer representing NBCUniversal during its purchase by Comcast.

The proposed merger, and the earlier acquisition of NBC by Comcast, expresses the reality of the “free press” under capitalism, in which media conglomerates have a staggering degree of control over the information that the population is allowed to receive.

It expresses the degree to which a small group of well-connected individuals who control these companies dominate the lives of millions of people and render any claim that the United States is a democratic society an absurdity.

The merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable clearly presents a danger to the economic interests and democratic rights of the great majority of the population. It is impossible to oppose the growing consolidation and power of the major corporations within the framework of the capitalist system. The government, far from opposing the growing monopolization of economic life by a small handful of corporations and individuals, is doing everything possible to facilitate it.

Major corporations such as Comcast and Time Warner must be nationalized and placed under the democratic control of the population. The only way to achieve this is through the building of a mass movement of the working class, armed with a socialist program for reorganizing society on the basis of social need, not private profit.

There is a noted similarity in the “protest movements” in Syria and Ukraine. There is evidence of armed gunmen among protesters in Kiev targeting policemen. 

1) Ukrainian prime minister: Deadly attacks attempt to seize power
2) U.S. ambassador to Ukraine: Government “responsible for everything that happens in Ukraine”
3) As with Syria, European Union and Russia clash over Ukrainian uprising
4) European Council President Rompuy threatens sanctions against Ukraine
5) European Union deliberates over sanctions against Ukrainian government, officials
6) Former Lithuanian prime minister: President Victor Yanukovych must be tried in international court
7) President of European Parliament: Ukrainian authorities “have lost all legitimacy”
8) Russian State Duma’s International Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov: Vice President Biden, U.S. government signal support to armed extremists
9) Ukrainian president: Putschists’ call to take up arms crosses the line
10) Security Service opens criminal investigations into coup plotting
11) Russian Federation Council chairperson denounces armed violence in Ukraine, accuses opposition chiefs of receiving marching orders from the West
12) Russian Foreign Ministry demands opposition forces cease deadly bloodshed
13) Two traffic police shot dead in Ukrainian capital
14) Ukrainian Defense ministry intensifies security measures around ammunition stores

Scroll down to Read reports from Russian and Ukrainian media below:

Russian Information Agency Novosti
February 19, 2014

Ukraine’s Premier Calls Protests ‘Attempt to Seize Power’

KIEV: Ukraine’s acting prime minister said Wednesday that the violent protests that have rocked the capital were an attempt to seize power by force.

“Both society and authorities strongly condemn the violence. This is not a sign of democracy. … This is the manipulation of people’s minds and an attempt to take power by force,” Serhiy Arbuzov told a Cabinet meeting.

At least 25 people, including nine police officers, were killed in bloody, day-long clashes that ran into the early hours of Wednesday morning in the Ukrainian capital. Officials said more than 70 policemen suffered gunshot wounds in the fighting.

Unrest erupted around noon Tuesday as thousands of people marched on the parliament building, where a standoff was taking place over proposed constitutional reforms that the opposition said could provide a way out of the political crisis that is paralyzing the country.

In his address to the nation Wednesday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said that opposition activists had crossed the line by calling for supporters to take up arms at mass protests intended to oust him from power.

Interfax-Ukraine
February 19, 2014

US Ambassador: Yanukovych responsible for everything that happens in Ukraine

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has said that the United States holds Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych responsible for the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, as Dzerkalo Tyzhnia weekly (ZN.UA) quotes the U.S. diplomat as saying.

The comment came after Pyatt met with Foreign Minister of Ukraine Leonid Kozhara to discuss the situation in the country.

“From this moment on, the United States holds Yanukovych responsible for everything that happens in Ukraine,” Pyatt said.

According to the diplomat, this was a first round of the negotiations, and a second will follow later.

Pyatt also reported that the United States believes that the crisis in Ukraine can still be resolved through dialogue, but is considering the introduction of sanctions against those who encourage the use of violence.

Russian Information Agency Novosti
February 19, 2014

Russia, EU Clash as World Condemns Violence in Ukraine

KIEV: Countries across the world issued condemnations Wednesday of fatal violence in Ukraine as Russia and the European Union clashed over who was to blame.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced that EU foreign ministers would hold an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss a response, with options on the table including sanctions against individuals considered responsible for the bloodshed.

At least 25 people died in a day of fighting between anti-government protesters and riot police in the center of the capital Kiev as the authorities continued their attempts to dismantle a protest camp in the city.

“It was with shock and utter dismay that we have been watching developments over the last 24 hours in Ukraine,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement.

“It is the political leadership of the country that has a responsibility to ensure the necessary protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted Wednesday that responsibility for deaths lay with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, saying: “He has blood on his hands.”

Russia joined condemnations of the violence, but accused European leaders of failing to hold Ukrainian opposition leaders responsible.

“As a result of the criminal activity of radical elements from the opposition, last night saw bloodshed in Kiev and a series of other Ukrainian cities,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“We do not see any clear response from European politicians and structures, who refuse to admit that all the responsibility for the actions of radical elements inside Ukraine lies with the opposition.”

The Kremlin views the actions of the Ukrainian opposition as an attempt to seize power by force, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Wednesday after confirming that Putin spoke by telephone to Yanukovych on Tuesday evening.

The United States called on both sides to de-escalate the crisis. Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, warned on his Twitter feed that those fuelling violence could be targeted with sanctions.

US Vice President Joseph Biden telephoned Yanukovych overnight to express his “grave concern regarding the crisis” on the streets of Kiev, the White House said in a statement.

Interfax-Ukraine
February 19, 2014

Rompuy promises to respond to events in Ukraine with sanctions

European Union leaders are alarmed by the escalation of violence in Ukraine, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said on Wednesday.

“EU will respond quickly to deterioration including via targeted sanctions,” Rompuy tweeted.

“Those responsible to be held accountable. Authorities must ensure fundamental rights,” Rompuy said.

According to Rompuy, “genuine dialogue is only sustainable democratic way out incl. constitutional reform, inclusive government & free, fair elections.”

The EU is still ready to support reforms and modernization of Ukraine as well as enhancing democracy and economic prosperity of its citizens, Rompuy said.

Interfax-Ukraine
February 19, 2014

EU countries to decide on which sanctions to impose against Ukraine – EC spokesperson

The European Commission cannot yet say exactly which sanctions will be imposed against those responsible for the violence and deaths in Ukraine, and this decision will be taken by EU member states.

European Commission spokesperson Alejandro Ulzurrun de Asanza y Munoz said this at a briefing in Brussels on Wednesday.

When asked which sanctions could be imposed against Ukraine, he said that these would be “restrictive measures.”

“The EU has basic principles that can be applied, a set of tools. A meeting of the [Political and Security] Committee is currently being held, so I cannot specify which sanctions will be imposed,” he said.

He also said that the question of which sanctions, when and against whom will be applied would be resolved by EU member states.

He also confirmed that the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement remained on the table.

UNIAN
February 19, 2014

Leader of Lithuanian opposition, ex Prime Minister Kubilius believes that Yanukovych must be tried in international court

Leader of the Lithuanian opposition, former Prime Minister of Lithuania Andrius Kubilius believes that President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych must be tried in international court.

The former head of the Lithuanian government wrote this on Twitter.

“After brutal bloodshed in EuroMaidan Yanukovych must be tried in international court”, wrote Kubilius.

UNIAN
February 19, 2014

Ukrainian authorities are about to lose all legitimacy – president of European Parliament

President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz states that in a result of the force actions against demonstrators in Kyiv with numerous victims, the authorities of Ukraine has almost lost all its legitimacy and calls to urgent cease of further bloodshed.

According to an own UNIAN correspondent in Brussels, it is said in the special statement of Schulz.

“A tragedy is unfolding in Ukraine. The failure of authorities to engage in genuine dialogue has led to renewed violence and deaths of many protesters and police. It is deeply shocking and unacceptable. It requires a strong and urgent action. The Ukrainian authorities are about to lose all legitimacy”, it is said in the statement of the President of the European Parliament.

He called to immediate cease of bloodshed at all costs.

Interfax
February 19, 2014

U.S. signals support to Ukrainian extremists – Pushkov

MOSCOW: The United States demonstrates support for extremist forces in Ukraine, State Duma’s International Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov said.

“Biden has called on Yanukovych, but not the radicals, for ‘maximum restraint’! That is how extremists once again received a signal of support from the U.S.,” Pushkov wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

It was reported that in his telephone conversation with Viktor Yanukovych U.S. Vice President Joe Biden demanded that the Ukrainian president remove riot police from the streets of the Ukrainian capital, the White House said.

The death toll from Kyiv riots has soared to 25, including nine policemen.

Interfax
February 19, 2014

Yanukovych: opposition’s call to arms crosses the line

KYIV: The opposition leaders break the law by their call to arms and must face the court, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said.

“They crossed the line when they called to arms. This is a blatant violation of law. And lawbreakers must face the court, which will decide their punishment. This is not my whim but my duty as the guarantor of the constitution to keep peace in the country, tranquility of its citizens and justice for everyone,” Yanukovych said in an address posted on his website early on Wednesday morning.

The Ukrainian president urged the opposition leaders to immediately distance themselves from radicalized forces, which had been provoking bloodshed and clashes with the police. “Or, if they do not wish to leave, admit their support to the radicals. But that would be quite another story,” the president continued.

In the opinion of Yanukovych, the opposition leaders have neglected the main principle of democracy. One may come to power only at a polling station, but not in the street or square, he said.

“I told them more than once that the election was coming. If people have trust in you, you will take the office. If not, you will not. But either way has to be legal, consistent with the Ukrainian constitution,” the president said.

National Radio Company of Ukraine
February 19, 2014

Security Service launches probe into attempted coup

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has opened criminal proceedings for illegal actions of some politicians aimed to seize power, its press office said in a statement on Wednesday.

“On February 19, the Security Service of Ukraine has started a pre-trial investigation into committing illegal actions by some politicians aimed at seizing power,” the message reads.

Interfax
February 19, 2014

Authorities should have prevented violence in Ukraine – Matviyenko

MOSCOW: Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko believes that the Ukrainian authorities share the responsibility for the ongoing events in Kyiv.

“The incumbent authorities, if they are the authorities then it is their task as the authorities to prevent such things, to act in strict compliance with Ukrainian legislation, within the framework of the Ukrainian constitution, and to take legal measures in order to avoid mass disturbances, violence and human casualties,” Matviyenko said, responding to media questions.

Human deaths were the most terrible thing, which have happened on Maidan, she remarked.

“Everything that is going on in Ukraine is a source of serious concern and every Maidan action linked to the protest has nothing to do with any political demands,” Matviyenko said.

“These are organized mass disturbances in which firearms are being used and the death of civilians, police officers and a journalist shows that the situation has become critical. Certainly, we kept saying from the very start that [the sides] should sit down at the negotiating table, hold a dialogue and find peaceful solutions to the emerging confrontation,” Matviyenko said.

She emphasized that Russia would not meddle in the affairs of a sovereign country no matter what it was seeing some Western countries doing.

“We have expressed concern about the provocative actions, about a lack of appropriate evaluations of the violence that is happening in Kyiv, which looks like a violent attempt to overthrow the legitimate authorities and which is going beyond the limits of any civilized process,” Matviyenko said.

In her opinion, Russia will soon express its opinion about the measures that the international community should take. She criticized the opposition leaders who, in her words, “were traveling to the West and meeting with the heads of Western countries.”

“If the appeal for stopping violence had coherently been made at those meetings, the Maidan appeals and actions would have been completely different,” Matviyenko concluded.

Interfax
February 19, 2014

Russia demands Ukrainian opposition leaders stop bloodshed, resume dialogue with govt

MOSCOW: The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the Ukrainian opposition leaders involved in the ongoing street riots must stop the bloodshed and immediately resume dialogue with the legitimate authorities.

“Russia demands that the leaders of Maidan stop the bloodshed in their country and immediately resume dialogue with the legitimate authorities without threats or ultimatums,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Ukraine is a state that Russia considers a friend, a brother and a strategic partner, and we will wield all our influence so that peace and accord might be restored in this country,” it said.

“Blood was shed through radical opposition forces’ criminal actions” in Kyiv and some other Ukrainian cities last night, the Foreign Ministry said. “A number of people have been killed and injured both among civilians and among law enforcement agencies, which are defending the state’s legitimate interests by ensuring law and order,” it said.

National Radio Company of Ukraine
February 19, 2014

Two traffic police officers shot dead in Kyiv

Two traffic police officers have been killed and one more has been wounded during an armed attack in Kyiv, the public liaisons department of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry has reported.

“The event took place in the Sviatoshynsky district of the capital. According to preliminary figures, traffic police officers pursued an offenders’ car. Shots were heard from there,” reads the statement. “Two traffic police officers were killed on the spot, and the third one was taken to hospital. He is in a serious condition. Police are establishing the circumstances of the attack.”

Interfax-Military
February 19, 2014

Ukrainian defense ministry steps up security around ammunition stores

KYIV: Troops have been re-deployed from a military base to others due to the increased security around stores of ammunition and other military facilities, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.

“Due to the aggravation of the sociopolitical situation in the country and to prevent pilfering of ammunition stores and any military gear, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have taken steps to increase security at military arsenals, bases, stores and other military facilities,” a spokesperson for the Defense Ministry told Interfax.

Clashes in Ukraine Signal Escalation of US-EU Intervention

February 19th, 2014 by Oliver Campbell

Violent clashes between police and protesters yesterday in Kiev mark an escalation of the campaign by the pro-Western opposition to oust Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The opposition, backed by the United States and German governments, aims to install a far-right regime committed to integrating Ukraine within the European Union and implementing its demands for austerity measures.

Bloody street-fighting erupted when opposition protesters marched on parliament, demanding it pass a planned law to decrease Yanukovych’s powers. When the vote went against them, the opposition supporters attacked the headquarters of the ruling Party of the Regions. Clashes between police and protesters erupted and spread throughout the city.

The unrest has been the bloodiest since the pro-EU protests began some three months ago. Latest reports indicate that at least 19 people have been killed, including police and protesters. Hundreds, possibly thousands, have been injured, at least 200 people seriously.

The opposition demonstrators, many of whom are affiliated with the neo-fascist Svoboda party and other extreme right-wing groups, appeared to be heavily armed. One of the fascistic organisations involved, Right Sector, called for all those with arms to take them to Independence Square and engage in combat with the authorities.

Media footage shows anti-government protesters, some wearing helmets emblazoned with fascist symbols, firing rifles and small arms at riot police, as well as throwing molotov cocktails. During the storming of the Party of Regions headquarters, they killed at least one office worker. Several interior troops were reportedly taken as “prisoners” before government forces secured control of the building.

Opposition leaders called on supporters to continue fighting. Vitali Klitschko, head of the UDAR (Punch) party, which has close ties to the German state, demagogically told demonstrators: “We will not leave here. This is an island of freedom. We will defend it.” Violent clashes continued throughout the night and early Wednesday morning, paralysing the city.

The bloody scenes in Kiev are the direct result of the campaign waged by the US and Germany to oust Yanukovych after he rejected proposals for closer EU ties and signed a deal with Russia accepting financial aid. In their efforts to prise Ukraine out of Moscow’s orbit and isolate Russia, Washington and Berlin are openly working with the extreme-right parties.

Top US State Department official Victoria Nuland has repeatedly visited opposition leaders in Ukraine, including the head of the Svoboda party, Oleh Tyahnybok. Leaked phone calls between Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, exposed the extent of Washington’s micro-management of opposition leaders as it seeks to install a new client regime. (See: “Leaked phone call on Ukraine lays bare Washington’s gangsterism”)

The protests and violence in Kiev followed a meeting in Berlin on Monday in which opposition leaders Klitschko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk called on top German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, for greater support, including to press for sanctions on the Ukrainian government.

Also on Monday, Russia agreed to purchase $2 billion in Ukrainian bonds, giving the Yanukovych regime a financial breathing space that would have been unwelcome in opposition circles as well as in Berlin and Washington.

In the wake of the clashes in Kiev, the US, Germany and the EU immediately blamed Yanukovych and ratcheted up the pressure for his removal. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier declared: “Whoever is responsible for decisions that may lead to further bloodshed in the center of Kiev and other parts of Ukraine should expect Europe to reconsider its previous reservation on imposing sanctions on individuals.”

According to a White House statement, Vice President Joe Biden contacted the Ukrainian regime to express Washington’s “grave concern” over the violence, and “made clear that the United States condemns violence by any side, but that the government bears special responsibility to de-escalate the situation.”

The US and German responses signal an intensification of the imperialist drive to install a puppet regime in Kiev and transform the Ukraine into a bastion for further provocations and intrigues aimed at dismembering Russia itself and reducing it to a dependent semi-colony. The promotion of right-wing Ukrainian nationalists is part of a broader strategy of exploiting the many ethnic, national and religious divisions within the former Soviet Union to secure dominance over the region.

The subordination of Ukraine is one of the longstanding geo-strategic ambitions of German imperialism, stretching back to World War I. Germany’s current aggressive policy toward Ukraine coincides with the revival of German militarism. At the recent Munich Security Conference, top German officials stated that the time had come when Berlin had to abandon the post-war restraints and restrictions on the use of military force.

US imperialism has pursued a relentless strategy of weakening and isolating Russia for more than two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Starting with the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Washington has encouraged and supported so-called colour revolutions in the former Soviet republics. It invaded Afghanistan to establish a base of operations into Central Asia and sought, through sanctions and military threats, to carry out regime-change in Iran and Syria, Russia’s closest allies in the Middle East.

The ability of imperialism to intervene aggressively is the direct outcome of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the restoration of capitalism and the opening up of the former Soviet republics to the plunder of global transnational corporations. In opposing the present imperialist intervention in Ukraine, no political support should be given to Yanukovych or Russian President Vladimir Putin, who represent corrupt, grasping oligarchs who have enriched themselves at the expense of the working class.

The only social force capable of opposing the imperialist intrigues, military threats and drive to war is the international working class. The starting point is a rejection of all forms of nationalism and a political fight to unify workers in Ukraine with their class brothers and sisters throughout Europe, Russia and internationally. That requires a common struggle to abolish the bankrupt profit system and establish a planned world economy to meet the pressing social needs of all.

by Adan Salazar

The Sandy Hook school shooting was a giant, elaborate hoax and no one really died; that’s the conclusion Wolfgang Halbig, a former educator, US Customs agent and Florida state trooper, has reached after ten months of investigation and multiple disputes with federal, state and school authorities.

Halbig is convinced a deluge of discrepancies prove that the whole scenario was a scripted event.

 “..I suspect, in my professional opinion as a consultant and doing this a long, long time, I think it’s a scripted event that took place. I think it was in planning for maybe two, two and a half years,” Halbig said recently in an explosive interview with American Free Press.

Halbig is not your average conspiracy theorist. In fact he’s not one at all.

Click here to listen to audio 

He’s a former educator and law enforcement officer who now contracts out as a national school safety consultant.

His job is to help schools prevent incidents like the one that unfolded in Newtown. In order to do that, he needs to know exactly what happened at Sandy Hook.

“How do I tell people how to make their school safer when we don’t even have the truth about Sandy Hook?” asked a frustrated Halbig. “See, there is a nexus, I do this for a living.”

But school, state and federal officials aren’t making his job easy, and the state’s even threatened him for meddling in their affairs.

“They were in plain clothes,” Halbig recalled, describing a visit from Lake County homicide investigators. “They introduced themselves, they showed me their identification, their badges, and they basically said, ‘We need to have a conversation,’ and I said, ‘Well come on in, sit down, make yourselves comfortable,’ and then they read off my resumé. I mean, somehow, they did a lot of homework.. Basically the next thing they said was if I don’t stop, the Connecticut state police were gonna file charges and they recommended that I hire an attorney.”

The retired school principal, however, affirmed he’s in the right. “I said there is no way in the world that I’m gonna hire an attorney, because I’m following the procedures of the Connecticut state Freedom of Information Act. I mean, if anybody ought to be arrested, I said you tell those guys they ought to be arrested for failing to comply by the law of Connecticut.”

He says they also treated him in a threatening manner, stating “if I don’t comply that bad things are going to happen to me.”

Nevertheless, Halbig says, like any homicide investigation, Sandy Hook is a giant puzzle, but one which the public hasn’t been provided all the pieces to solve.

“..[T]his crime that was committed is a puzzle and no one can show me the pieces to put together to finish this puzzle. They don’t fit no matter how hard you try.. you and your listeners will not be able to put this puzzle together,” Halbig attested to host Dave Gahary.

Unanswered Questions

National school safety consultant Wolfgang Halbig.

For Halbig, there are unanswered questions, lots of them.

For instance, why in the immediate aftermath of the shooting were no medical helicopters summoned?

 “Think about it: you have 20 children, 6 staff members who were supposed to have been shot. They’re seriously injured. Where’s the trauma helicopters? Those are the quickest and the best medical services that any child or any school staff member can receive, and no trauma helicopters were ever requested?”

Halbig also called Life Star emergency services, who confirmed they were never summoned that morning. “[T]hey said, ‘Mr. Halbig we were never requested on that morning. We were shocked and surprised, we were ready, we thought we were going to go to Sandy Hook.’ They had helicopters ready to go, but they were never asked.. Here’s my premise.. there wasn’t anybody there to be treated.”

Halbig also questions why EMT and firefighters, who were mere minutes away from the scene, were prevented from entering the school and possibly saving lives, and additionally, he wants to know how, within the first 11 minutes, America was already presented with a death toll.

 “Who declared all those 26 people dead within the first 11 minutes? Connecticut law states that only a doctor can declare them dead, legally dead.”

Moreover, Halbig says the FBI’s classification of the school shooting report is something he’s never witnessed in his entire career. “I can tell you [out of] all the shootings, never has an FBI agency ever classified an investigative report on a school shooting.”

More Unanswered Questions

There are also a whole host of peculiarities Halbig is still baffled by.

For example, why was Sandy Hook elementary torn down? Even in the Columbine tragedy, whose crime scene Halbig assisted with and in which he testified as a key witness, the school was cleaned up, but was never torn down.

According to Halbig, no one could tell him which environmental company cleaned up the bloody mess, or who installed the school’s security system, all things his job would require him to know.

He has other pressing questions, such as: Why was there a registered nurse found in the building four hours after the shooting? Why was there a sign flashing “Everyone must sign in?” Why were there port-a-potties on site within three hours? Why were children turned around by officers and sent back into rooms supposedly littered with dead bodies? How did someone with Asperger’s have the physical coordination to carry the large amount of munitions Adam Lanza supposedly carried? Why did no parents file a lawsuit against the school, when in every other school shooting suits have been filed? And ultimately, why would the state threaten Halbig?

“The things [we're] talking about.. they should never offend any parent…These are simple questions that we as homicide investigators, we need to know and we should know.”

 

Sandy Hook elementary / Image: Wikimedia Commons

Truth Seeking Won’t Stop

Altogether, from the puzzle pieces he’s collected and analyzed, Halbig concludes there is a massive cover up.

“Absolutely… It is.. when you refuse to respond to simple requests, something is not right.”

The next step legally, Halbig says, would be to hire attorneys and depose the key players of the investigation, because, “The only way you’re ever gonna get the truth is by getting them to raise their right hands..” “..[I]f you lie in a deposition and if you’re caught in that lie, there’s a lot of things that you can lose, you can go to jail and you can lose your retirement..” warns the safety consultant.

When asked if he feels his life could be in danger if the cover-up goes all the way up to the White House, Halbig answered he is not fearful because he’s led a rich life, but that for him, people showing up and knocking on his door was the final straw.

“Here’s the problem and this is what got me fired up even more, is when they start bringing people to my house.”

Halbig says next he’s traveling to Newtown, Conn. and scoping out the crime scene, and that he’s possibly planning a Sandy Hook event in Orlando, Florida sometime in the near future.

He says he won’t stop until he gets some answers.

Below, check out Infowars’ report on why so many people think the Sandy Hook school shooting was a staged event.

Copyright Infowars, 2014

 

Global Capitalism Has Written Off The Human Race

February 19th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Economic theory teaches that free price and profit movements ensure that capitalism produces the greatest welfare for the greatest number. Losses indicate economic activities where costs exceed the value of production, thus investment in these activities is curtailed. Profits indicate economic activities where the value of output exceeds its cost, thus investment increases.  Prices indicate the relative scarcity  and value of inputs and outputs, thus serving to organize production most efficiently. 

This theory doesn’t work when the US government socializes cost and privatizes profits as it has been doing with the Federal Reserve’s support of “banks too big to fail” and when a handful of financial institutions have concentrated much economic activity. Subsidized “private” banks are no different from the former publicly subsidized socialized industries of Great Britain, France, Italy, and the former communist countries. The banks have imposed the costs of their incompetence, greed, and corruption on taxpayers.  Indeed, the socialized firms in England and France were more efficiently run and never threatened the national economies, much less the entire world, with ruin as do the private US “banks too big to fail.”  The English, French, and communists never had to print $1,000 billion dollars annually to save a handful of corrupt and incompetent financial enterprises.

This only happens in “free market capitalism” where the capitalists, with the approval of the corrupt US Supreme Court can purchase the government, which represents them and not the electorate. Thus, the taxation and money creation powers of government are used to support a few financial institutions at the expense of the rest of the country.

This is what is meant by “markets are self-regulating.”

Several years ago Ralph Gomery warned me that the damage done to US labor by jobs offshoring was about to be superseded by robotics.  Gomery told me that the ownership of the technology patents is highly concentrated and that breakthroughs have made robots increasingly human in their capabilities.  Consequently, the prospect for employment of humans is dismal. 

 

Gomory’s words reverberated with me when I read RT’s February 15, 2014, report that computer and robotic experts at Harvard have constructed mobile machines programmed with the logic of termites to be self-organizing and able to complete complex tasks without central direction or oversight. http://rt.com/news/self-organizing-termite-robots-172/  

RT doesn’t understand the implications. Instead of raising a red flag, RT gushes: “The possibilities are vast. The machines can be made to build any three-dimensional structure on their own and with minimal instruction. But what is truly staggering is their ability to adapt to their work environment and to each other; to calculate losses, reorganize efforts and make adjustments. It is already clear that the development will do wonders for humanity in space, hard-to-reach places and other difficult situations.”

The way the world is organized under a few powerful and immensely greedy private interests, the technology will do nothing for humanity.  The technology means that humans will no longer be needed in the work force and that emotionless robotic armies will take the place of human armies and have no compunction about destroying the humans on whom they are unleashed. The picture that emerges is more threatening than Alex Jones’ predictions.  Faced with little demand for human labor, little wonder thinkers predict that the rich intend to annihilate the human race and live in an uncrowded environment served by their robots.  If this story has not been written as science fiction, someone should get on the job before it becomes ordinary reality. 

 The Harvard scientists are proud of their achievement, as no doubt most of the Manhattan Project participants were about their achievement in producing a nuclear weapon.  But the success of the Manhattan Project scientists was not very nice for the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the prospect of nuclear war continues to cast a dark shadow over the world.

The Harvard technology will prove to be an enemy of the human race.

This outcome does not have to be, but free market ideologues think that any planning or foresight is an interference with the market, which always knows best (thus, the current financial and economic crisis). Free market ideology stands in the way of societal control and serves the short-term interests of powerful and greedy private groups. Instead of being used for humanity, the technology will be used for the profits of a handful. 

That is the intention but what is the reality?  How can there be a consumer economy if there is no employment?  There cannot be, which is what we are gradually learning from the offshoring of American jobs by global corporations. For a limited period an economy can continue to function on the basis of part-time jobs, drawing down savings, food stamps, and extended unemployment benefits.

However, when savings are drawn down, when the heartless politicians who demonize the poor cut food stamps and unemployment benefits, the economy ceases to provide a market for the offshored goods that the corporations bring home to sell.

Here we see the total failure of Adam Smith’s invisible hand.  Each corporation in pursuit of greater managerial “performance bonuses” as determined by profits did its part in producing the destruction of the US consumer market and greater misery for all.

Adam Smithian economics applies to economies in which capitalists have some sense of commonality with other citizens of the country like Henry Ford did, some sense of belonging to a country or to a community.  Globalism destroys this sense.  Capitalism has evolved to the point where the most powerful economic interests, interests that control the government itself, have no sense of obligation to the country in which their business entities are registered. Except for nuclear weapons, international capitalism is the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.

International capitalism has raised greed to a determinant force in world history. Unregulated greed-driven capitalism is destroying the jobs prospects of First World labor and the ability of Third World countries, whose agricultures have been turned into export monocultures serving the global capitalists, to feed themselves. When the crunch comes, the capitalists will let the “other” humanity starve.

As the capitalists declare in their high level meetings, “there are too many people in the world.” 

An essay by Charles Gant, MD, PhD and Greg Lewis, PhD

Psychotropic drugs have been used for the purpose of suppressing fear and enabling murderous rage for a long time. In Dispatches, his extraordinary book about the war in Vietnam, Michael Herr passes this along about the use of drugs by American soldiers:

“Going out at night the medics gave you pills. . . . I knew one 4th Division Lurp [Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol] who took his pills by the fistful, downs from the left pocket of his tiger suit and ups from the right, one to cut the trail, the other to send him down it. He told me that they cooled things out just right for him, that he could see that old jungle at night like he was looking at it through a starlight scope.”

 Today, many of our children are prescribed the same psychotropic drugs as were given to our soldiers, in the children’s case for the treatment of such conditions as ADHD and for psychiatric disorders. In fact, the practice of psychiatry has become in many cases nothing more than a license to distribute powerfully addictive, brain-damaging drugs to our children.

 And where illegal drugs such as cocaine and “speed” are often cited for their negative effects, in fact, among the drugs that are often prescribed for ADHD, Ritalin is chemically similar to cocaine and Adderall is a mix of four powerful amphetamines. We’re addicting more than ten percent of our children — overwhelmingly boys — to these drugs because they have difficulty sitting still and paying attention in class.

 And those who aren’t prescribed the drugs can purchase them without prescriptions through online drug outlets or from friends. In fact, among many children, using psychotropic drugs has become de rigeur. When their friends are prescribed these drugs, peer pressure dictates that they themselves also be able to take the drugs, and the black market for such substances among young people is very large.

 One thing must be made very clear: psychotropic drugs of any kind, whether or not they’re stimulants, damage our brains, especially our frontal lobes. The frontal lobes are the area of the brain that enables us to make rational decisions, to avoid taking unnecessary risks, and to experience empathy for others. Recently, the term “frontal lobe syndrome” has been brought into use to describe the effects of prolonged drug use that damages this portion of the brain  and increases our propensity to act violently and with depraved indifference.

Among the consequences of physicians’ irresponsible prescribing practices is this: in every single gun massacre over the past several decades for which we have reliable information about drug use, the shooter has been taking psychotropic drugs prescribed by a physician. It may be the case that if those shooters who have committed such recent atrocities as that in Newtown had not had access to psychotropic drugs, the shootings would not have occurred. That they are occurring more frequently and are escalating in brutality — if that is possible — is due to the fact, not that we are legal gun owners, but that we are legal drug users.

As far as we are aware, every study of the effects of the long-term use of psychotropic drugs, whether illicit, “recreational” — e.g., alcohol — or prescribed, indicates that such use causes brain injury, especially to the frontal lobes, by far the least rugged area of our brains. Over time, the consequent frontal lobe syndrome renders a person increasingly incapable of inhibiting impulsive and violent behaviors while at the same time generally sparing the intellect so that such drug users can systematically plan their assaults but are unable to refrain from carrying them out.

Young people are far more vulnerable  than adults to the negative side effects of all drugs, and criminal activity by young people under the influence of drugs becomes an iatrogenic outcome in an anything-goes society that does its part by placing few restraints on its younger members’ behavior and compounds that by looking the other way as they damage their brains with prescription chemicals that magnify the youngsters’ capability to exhibit violent behavior.

How can we talk about protecting our kids from gun violence if we don’t at the same time protect their brains from iatrogenic drug violence, the real cause of such behavior? In fact, children who refrain from the use of drugs and alcohol — and this includes prescription psychotropic drugs as well as illegal drugs — are much less likely to commit violent crimes as adults than children who have used such substances.

 The area in which we need much more restrictive laws is not gun control; rather, we need tighter and more restrictive controls against allowing psychotropic chemicals to get into the brains of children 21 years of age and younger, during which time their brains are developing and very vulnerable. The war against drugs needs to begin with eliminating prescription psychotropic drug availability to and use by our children.

 Gun control laws, or the lack thereof, had nothing to do with the Newtown massacre. Adam Lanza was denied a permit to purchase a gun, but that didn’t prevent him from committing a gun crime. In the meantime, and for a long time to come, there are going to be great quantities of “legal” psychotropic drugs out there, not least because “psych meds” are still going to be prescribed to children as if they were candy.

 Until we have the will to demand an end to prescribing psychotropic substances for our children, we must call for the hiring of armed security guards at schools, as we already do in many inner-city locations, and for the upgrading of schools with bullet-proof access portals. These are things we must do based on the truth that it’s the drugs, and not the guns, that are the real danger.

 End Your Addiction Now presents Dr Gant’s groundbreaking program for reducing substance abuse and eliminating addiction naturally.

Copyright Charles Gant, MD, PhD and Greg Lewis, PhD, 2013

American Stasi Police State Staring Us In The Face

February 19th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

American taxpayers have built an entire city in Virginia so that the Pentagon,  can practice occupying American cities and putting down protests by US citizens.

This fake city is the training ground for the doctrine outlined in a leaked US Army document  that describes how soldiers are to be trained to put down domestic disturbances and process prisoners through detainment camps where prisoners will be re-educated to appreciate US policies. In situations of “extreme necessity” the training embraces deadly force: 

“Warning shot will not be fired. When a firearm is discharged it will be fired with the intent  of rendering the person(s) at whom it is discharged incapable of continuing that activity or course of behavior.” Lecturers in the training courses describe constitutionalists as “domestic extremists.”

Does this make the President of the United States, whose oath of office is to defend the US Constitution against enemies domestic and foreign, a domestic extremist?  Is the fear of arrest by Homeland Security as a domestic extremist the reason Obama refuses to defend the Constitution of the United States?

The Army is being trained for domestic police duties that are in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act that prevents the use of the military for domestic law enforcement, another indication that Washington has no respect for the country’s laws and that Obama and his “Justice” Department have no intention of enforcing the laws of the land or abiding by the Constitution. 

Where is the media outcry?  Where are the law schools?  Where is Congress? A government that disregards the laws of the land is both treasonous and tyrannical.  Yet, not a peep from “the free and the brave.”

The US government and its puppet auxiliary, the UK government, have turned with vengeance against whistleblowers and their attorneys. Bradley Manning is in prison, Julian Assange is confined to the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, and Edward Snowden is under Russian protection from a tyrannical US government. Jessellyn Radack, an attorney who represented Snowden was recently detained and questioned in an intimidating way at London’s Heathrow Airport.  Washington has taught its British puppet state how to mimic Washington’s Gestapo ways.

The latest revelations of the criminal activities of the Amerikan National Stasi Agency comes from a leaked NSA document that shows that the Stasi agency considers WikiLeaks Julian Assange to be a “malicious foreign actor” and launched “an international effort to focus the legal element of national power upon non-state actor Assange, and the human network that supports WikiLeaks.”  Clearly, the Gestapo is upon us.

RT reports:

“The NSA was not alone in its sweeping espionage on the whistle-blowing organization. It also enlisted its partners in the Five Eyes spying network (UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada) as well as other nations. In documents dating back from August 2010, the US urged 10 other countries with forces in Afghanistan to consider pressing criminal charges against Julian Assange — ‘founder of the rogue WikiLeaks internet website and responsible for the unauthorized publication of over 70,000 classified documents covering the war in Afghanistan.’”  http://rt.com/news/wikileaks-assange-calls-prosecutor-526/  

In other words, freedom of the press?  We don’t need no stinking freedom of the press. We have the presstitute press–the TV networks, the New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, and all the rest of the officially sanctioned state Ministry of Propaganda.

Julian Assange stated, correctly, “The NSA and its UK accomplices show no respect for the rule of law.”

WikiLeaks’ attorney, Judge Baltasar Garzon, the pursuer of Pinochet, had this to say:

“The paradox is that Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks organization are being treated as a threat instead of what they are: a journalist and a media organization that are exercising their fundamental right to receive and impart information in its original form, free from omission and censorship, free from partisan interests, free from economic or political pressure.”

What has happened that explains the transformation of the UK and all of its former English colonies–the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand–into Gestapo Stasi states?

These are the countries best known historically for their domestic civil liberties and rule of law, irrespective of their treatment of their indigenous populations and in the case of England her non-white colonies.

The original dispossession was of indigenous peoples. Now these governments have turned on their own.Today the governments of the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (the Five Eyes) see civil liberty and the accountability of government to law as threats to themselves, and the governments are determined to stamp out the threats. The historical lands of liberty have abandoned liberty and become Stasi states.

What has occurred in the US and UK is that the criminal and treasonous acts of both governments have become so extreme that the governments must destroy civil liberty in order to protect themselves from exposure. Whenever you hear “national security” invoked, you know that government is covering up its crimes and its lies.

The criminal character of both US and UK governments is now recognized by the rest of the world, even by the bought-and-paid-for NATO puppet states, France and Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are discussing the creation of an European communication network in order to protect Europeans’ communications from the NSA and from Google, Facebook, and other US communication companies that shamelessly cooperate with NSA’s spy network as junior members of the Stasi. Brazil and South America are facing the same challenge of protecting their communications from Washington’s National Stasi Agency.

NSA spies on foreign companies for the benefit of American ones, and it spies on US law firms representing clients against the US government. The New York Times recently reported that the corrupt Australian puppet state has been working with NSA to steal the private communications of US lawyers with their clients in the Indonesian government involved in a trade dispute with Washington.” http://on.rt.com/vw8d8v In other words, NSA spying helps the US government to prevail in economic lawsuits against it, but the spying is justified in the name of the nonexistent “terrorist threat.” The terrorist is NSA.

And you thought Washington was only spying on “terrorists” to prevent them from “killing us over here.”

It is impossible to paint a picture of a more lawless government than Washington has painted of itself.

If it is not a hoax, it took a pop singer, Lorde, to declare in her Grammy Award acceptance speech last month that the emperor has no clothes:

“Planet Earth is run by psychopaths that hide behind slick marketing, ‘freedom’ propaganda and ‘economic growth’ rhetoric, while they construct a global system of corporatized totalitarianism.

As American journalist Chris Hedges has identified, a corporate totalitarian core thrives inside a fictitious democratic shell. This core yields an ‘inverted’ totalitarian state that few recognize because it does not look like the Orwellian world of Nineteen Eighty-four.

This corporate totalitarian core is spreading outward from America. Planet Earth is being rapidly militarized by the world’s major and significant states, including their police forces. Meanwhile, state surveillance is becoming universal and torture is outsourced to gulags.”

http://snoopman.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/lordes-suppressed-grammy-award-acceptance-speech-full-transcript-26-january-2014/ 

The TV channels censored her speech and cut it off by substituting pre-recorded content.

See also

http://snoopman.wordpress.com/author/snoopman/

and http://snoopman.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/royal-pencil-in-print-lordes-suppressed-grammy-speech-makes-front-page-news-in-far-flung-new-zealand/

This is a very large production for a hoax. An amazing amount of creativity and production effort went into it. Increasingly, our reality is composed of invented news, whether from the government or the Internet.

By cutting off Lorde’s speech, the media moguls are shown proving the truth of her words. Americans must not hear. The dolts might wake up.

Americans should take note that in fact the media is on guard, prepared at an instance’s notice to suppress free speech. Washington is ever so pleased to support protesters in Ukraine, who are witlessly helping Washington to subvert their country, but no protests at home thank you.

If the Lorde story is a hoax, it nevertheless captures the truth of the situation. And in more ways than one. As one reader put it, “the content of that non-speech may be truthful, but, you see, that is what ‘they’ do –  conflate truth, fiction & satire all into one ball of wax so we look like fools and no longer know what to believe.”

With the Pentagon building fake cities for soldiers to demolish while practicing the unconstitutional occupation practices that are in store for us in the homeland, Alex Jones’ predictions move out of the realm of conspiracy theory. Washington has finally noticed that the result of moving middle class jobs offshore is an American population without a future. As Gerald Celente says, when people have nothing left to lose, they lose it. The US military is gearing up for when Americans can’t take it any more.

Meanwhile Washington continues the pretense of America as the land of “freedom and democracy” and “concern for human rights,” blah-blah-blah. People all over the world, with the exception of the paid protesters in western Ukraine, are no longer listening to the bullshit flowing from Washington and its presstitute media.

Iraq: Stop the Massacre of Anbar Civilians

February 19th, 2014 by Hana Al-Bayaty

Maliki’s use of the army against the civilian population of Anbar constitutes the defeat of the policies Iraq has been following since 2003 and cements the divorce between the people of Iraq and the current sectarian government.

This new round of bombing has already produced 300,000 displaced, adding to the tragedy of the millions of Iraqi citizens already displaced by the failed and brutal US occupation.

 While states are legally obliged to refrain from assisting other states to undertake internationally criminal acts, the United States is upping its supply of arms and military advisors to Iraq, along with intelligence cooperation. A new US “Surge” is in the making and will only bring more death and destruction.

 Maliki’s government cannot wantonly kill civilians and claim a “State of Law”:

— Collective punishment is illegal under international law.
— Shelling water and electricity facilities, religious buildings, and hospitals are war crimes and crimes against humanity.
— The scale and target of the Maliki military strikes and shelling is utterly disproportionate and illegal and criminal in the face of the legitimate demands of the Anbar tribes.
— The lack of proportionality itself constitutes a war crime and crime against humanity.
— It is paramount for people everywhere to mobilise now to save Fallujah’s and Anbar’s civilians, understanding that their suffering mirrors the impact of the fascist sectarian regime that the US occupation created.

 We appeal to all individuals of conscience, to all those who support human rights, to all progressives who believe in democracy and the right to self-determination, to the UN Security Council, to the president of the UN General Assembly, to members of the UN General Assembly, to the European Commission and member states, to the European Parliament and peoples, to Islamic and Arab states and people and their organisations, and to all human rights, anti-war and civil society organisations to:

1. Order the Iraqi government to stop its use of wanton shelling, air force attacks, and heavy artillery against the civilian population in keeping with the responsibility of states to protect civilians under the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and its additional protocols.
2. Constitute an independent investigative committee to document the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Anbar and submit its findings to the International Criminal Court.

 Abdul Ilah Albayaty
Hana Al Bayaty
Ian Douglas
Eman Ahmed Khamas

 We call on all to join us, sign and spread this appeal. To endorse, email to: [email protected]

 Abdul Ilah Albayaty is an Iraqi political analyst. Hana Al Bayaty is an author and political activist. Ian Douglas is an independent political writer who has taught politics at universities in the US, UK, Egypt and Palestine.

On Monday the successor of the late Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro, ordered the expulsion of three U.S. diplomats in retaliation for working with anti-government activists in Venezuela. The expulsion order coincided with a planned rally by the opposition.

Maduro had three other diplomats expelled in September, including the charge d’affairs, Kelly Keiderling, after the government accused them of plotting with opponents.

The leader of the opposition, Leopoldo López Mendoza, has challenged the government to arrest him. Student-led protests have posed a serious challenge to Maduro’s government.

“I have ordered the foreign ministry to proceed with declaring those three consular officials persona non grata and expelling them from the country,” Maduro told the South American nation in a broadcast. “Let them go conspire in Washington!”

Recent protests by students in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and other cities have gained international attention.

“We are deeply concerned by rising tensions, by the violence surrounding this February 12 protest and by the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of the opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Saturday.

Secretary of State John Kerry also issued a statement on recent violence resulting in the death of three people. “The United States is deeply concerned by rising tensions and violence surrounding this week’s protests in Venezuela. Our condolences go to the families of those killed as a result of this tragic violence,” he said, also on Saturday.

The success of the student movement remains in question. “The challenge that the student movement will face is in finding a way to include Venezuela’s laboring class, which for the most part still supports the government, and relies on its redistributive policies,” notes Zero Hedge. “Their inability to rouse broad support across Venezuela’s social and economic classes was in part why previous student uprisings, including significant protests in 2007, failed to generate enough momentum to trigger a significant political shift.”

The Maduro government did not provide evidence of State Department complicity in the protests and violence. Past efforts to unseat Maduro’s predecessor, however, were orchestrated in part by the National Endowment for Democracy, the AFL-CIO corporate labor union, and the CIA.

“The U.S. embassy in Venezuela is very active. These days, its main strategy is subversion. This is manifested by USAID, NED, IRI, Freedom House, CIPE, etc. funding of opposition groups,” Eva Golinger told Jean-Guy Allard of Granma International in 2008. “The CIA and the State Department maintain various fronts in the country, as they always do.”

The United States relied on the assistance of dozens of German scientists to develop invasive interrogation techniques targeting the Soviet Union in the early years of the Cold War, according to a new book on the subject. The book, entitled Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America, by American journalist Annie Jacobsen, is to be published this week.

Operation PAPERCLIP was initially set up during World War II by the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Its aim was to recruit scientists that had previously been employed by the German Third Reich, with the primary goal of denying German scientific expertise to the USSR. Hundreds of former Nazi scientists were brought to the US under secret military research contracts during the second half of the 1940s. Eventually, the recruited scientists were used to augment an entire array of American government-sponsored endeavors, including the space program and several intelligence collection techniques.

Jacobsen’s book details Operation BLUEBIRD, a program run by the CIA under PAPERCLIP, which employed former Nazi biological weapons experts, chemists and medical doctors. The latter were tasked with employing lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD, in order to involuntary extort confessions from Soviet intelligence targets. In several cases, the hallucination-inducing chemical substance was dispensed on Soviet captives, who were also subjected to hypnosis and other methods of psychological manipulation.

According to the book, the techniques were developed under the primary supervision of Dr. Walter Schreiber, Germany’s Surgeon General during the Third Reich. Schreiber helped the OSS set up an experimentation facility at Camp King, a CIA site located near Frankfurt in the American sector of Allied-occupied Germany. Later, when Schreiber was transferred to the US by the CIA, Dr. Kurt Blome, the Third Reich’s former Deputy Surgeon General, who specialized in weaponizing bubonic plague, took over the program.

The book contains excerpts from a memorandum written by the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence at the time, Allen Dulles, in which he explains the need for “augmenting the usual interrogation methods” with the help of the German scientists. Dulles goes on to describe the “promising results” produced in interrogations involving the use of “light dosages of drugs coupled with hypnosis”, shock techniques, and other similar methods.

The TPP: Power to the Corporations at the Expense of the Planet

February 18th, 2014 by Global Research News

The TPP trade deal would expand a system of corporate rights and private courts that threaten progress on some of our most urgent environmental issues, writes Thomas McDonagh.

In January 15th last, Wikileaks revealed the proposed environmental chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

This massive trade deal, despite its implications for sensitive policy areas such as access to medicines and food safety across North America, Peru, Chile, Australia, Japan and beyond had, until recently, been kept far away from the public spotlight.

Negotiations take place behind closed doors and not even public representatives from the countries involved have access to the negotiating text.

Lip service to green concerns

Thanks to a series of leaks, however, the veil of secrecy surrounding the deal is slowly being lifted and what is at stake is coming much more clearly into focus. Last month’s leaked environmental chapter confirmed the worst suspicions of many green groups.

As reported by Chris Lang in The Ecologist recently, on issues from forest protection, to fisheries, to trade in endangered species, the deal falls way short of what they had proposed to negotiators.

And the lack of enforceability mechanisms makes the whole environmental chapter seem less like an attempt to implement robust international legislation and more like lip service to environmental concerns.

Investor rights are paramount

There is another chapter of the proposed TPP deal, however, that does have real teeth and that comes with strong enforceability provisions.

The investment chapter of the deal seeks to give corporations a wide range of investor rights and provide them with access to a system of international arbitration tribunals where they can have those rights enforced.

The presence of strong protections for corporations and weak protections for the environment is no coincidence either.

Unfortunately, these proposals for a parallel legal system for corporations embedded in the TPP are not just ideas floating on the horizon.

They are rather the extension of a system of corporate protections that has already been wreaking havoc for over 20 years – even though most members of the public have never heard of it.

An affront to democracy

Through the methodical construction of a web of bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements – now numbering several thousand – corporations have won concessions that would have been near impossible to win through an open democratic process.

These include the right of foreign investors to sue governments in international arbitration tribunals when public policies – like those designed to protect public health or the environment – or court decisions affect their investments.

Who has been the target of this system? Latin America, having spent two decades throwing off the yoke of the Washington Consensus and beginning to reclaim its economic sovereignty and control over its natural resources, has faced one attack after another.

Governments in the dock

In Bolivia, when the privatization of the water system in one of the major cities was rejected in the now-famous Cochabamba Water Revolt, San Francisco-based engineering conglomerate Bechtel sued the people of Bolivia for $50 million, having invested just $1 million in the country.

In El Salvador the people engaged in a democratic process to prevent a proposed gold mining project which threatened to contaminate their drinking water with toxic chemicals.

Canadian mining firm Pacific Rim, recently taken over by Oceana Gold, has hit back with a $300m arbitration case. This is equivalent to one third of El Salvador’s national education budget.

And in neighbouring Costa Rica, mining firm Infinito Gold is suing the government for over $1bn following the rejection of an open-pit mining project that threatened areas of virgin forest and fresh water sources.

Liable for potential future earnings

The current web of trade and investment agreements includes vaguely worded investor protections such as the right to “fair and equitable treatment” and the right to avoid “indirect expropriation”.

But the effect is that corporations can now sue governments for millions, sometimes billions, of dollars. And they can sue not just for what they invest in a country, but for what they had expected to earn into the future.

And it’s not only poor countries in Latin America that are in the system’s sights.

Even rich countries have cause to fear

In Germany, the decision to phase out nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster, despite being supported by the majority of the population and approved by the German Parliament, has resulted in an investment arbitration case by the Vattenfall Corporation that could be as high as $3.7bn.

In Canada, the decision of the regional government of Quebec to introduce a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) pending further investigations has resulted in a legal action for $250m by US oil and gas company Lone Pine resources.

The TPP would take this system and extend it even farther, giving corporations increased access to international arbitration tribunals to challenge environmental laws.

A poisoned well

Allowing the expansion of the arbitration system would be like continuing to draw water from a well we already know to be poisoned.

We’ve seen this before with the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a similar initiative by the George W. Bush government to create a free trade area from the southern tip of Argentina to the northern provinces of Canada.

That deal was defeated following a coordinated campaign by civil society groups and progressive governments across the region. A similar effort is now required in the face of the TPP.

The good news is that until two years ago, the number of people aware of the investment rules system and the investor-state dispute settlement tribunals was limited to a room full of lawyers and policy wonks.

Since then, however, it has begun to surface as a public issue – and not just among environmentalists and fair trade advocates, even some governments and legal experts are waking up to the threat it represents.

Opposition is growing

When the deal’s proposed investment chapter was leaked in 2012 legal experts from the countries involved wrote this open letter to negotiators. It includes this passage:

” … foreign investor protections included in some recent Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) and their enforcement through Investor-State arbitration should not be replicated in the TPP.

“We base this conclusion on concerns about how the expansion of this regime threatens to undermine the justice systems in our various countries … “

In Latin America the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela have now withdrawn from the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the most commonly used investment arbitration tribunal.

The Ecuadorian government has also begun a citizen’s audit of its trade and investment agreements with a view to reducing its exposure to the system.

Further changes are under way

Meanwhile policy changes and reviews are underway in a number of other countries. In South Africa, following an audit of its investment agreements, the government has begun to cancel its treaties with several European countries.

And in Australia, the previous Labor government had refused to accept the inclusion of the investor-state dispute settlement provisions in the TPP after tobacco giant Philip Morris attacked its public health laws on tobacco control using the system – though the position of the new right-wing government has been less clear on the issue however.

Reviews of policy are also now being undertaken in India and Argentina.

The dangers are very real

The powers granted to corporations in these trade and investment agreements constitute a straitjacket on some of our most important environmental regulations and responsibilities.

As previous campaigns have shown us, working together we have a good chance of not only preventing that straitjacket being applied more widely, but of actually loosening its current constraints.

In order to do that, environmental activists worldwide need to understand that behind the technical jargon of ‘arbitration tribunals’ and ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ lies a very real danger.

A wake up call

The leaked environmental chapter has provided a wake-up call to environmentalists regarding the dangers of the TPP.

Combine this with the ways in which corporations will be able to undermine existing environmental laws using the investment chapter, and we should be left in no doubt as to what’s at risk in the deal.

‘Unfair, Unsustainable, and Under the Radar: How Corporations use Global Investment Rules to Undermine A Sustainable Future’For more information take a look at the Democracy Center’s recent report

Thomas Mc Donagh coordinates the Network for Justice in Global Investment project for the Democracy Center in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Follow him: @TmcDIrl

 

An urban slum in Hanoi, Viet Nam. (Photo: Flickr / United Nations / Creative Commons)

The world’s 85 richest individuals possess as much wealth as the 3.5 billion souls who compose the poorer half of the world’s population, or so it was announced in a report by Oxfam International. The assertion sounds implausible to me.  I think the 85 richest individuals, who together are worth many hundreds of billions of dollars, must have far more wealth than the poorest half of our global population.

How could these two cohorts, the 85 richest and 3.5 billion poorest, have the same amount of wealth? The great majority of the 3.5 billion have no net wealth at all. Hundreds of millions of them have jobs that hardly pay enough to feed their families. Millions of them rely on supplements from private charity and public assistance when they can. Hundreds of millions are undernourished, suffer food insecurity, or go hungry each month, including many among the very poorest in the United States.

“The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. So poverty is spreading even as wealth accumulates. It is not enough to bemoan this enormous inequality, we must also explain why it is happening.”

Most of the 3.5 billion earn an average of $2.50 a day. The poorest 40 percent of the world population accounts for just 5 percent of all global income. About 80 percent of all humanity live on less than $10 a day. And the poorest 50 percent  maintain only 7.2 percent of the world’s private consumption. How exactly could they have accumulated an amount of surplus wealth comparable to the 85 filthy richest?

Hundreds of millions live in debt even in “affluent” countries like the United States. They face health care debts, credit card debts, college tuition debts, and so on. Many, probably most who own homes—and don’t live in shacks or under bridges or in old vans—are still straddled with mortgages. This means their net family wealth is negative, minus-zero. They have no  propertied wealth; they live in debt.

Millions among the poorest 50 percent in the world may have cars but most of them also have car payments. They are driving in debt.  In countries like Indonesia, for the millions without private vehicles, there are the overloaded, battered buses, poorly maintained vehicles that specialize in breakdowns and ravine plunges. Among the lowest rungs of the 50 percent are the many who pick thru garbage dumps and send their kids off to work in grim, soul-destroying sweatshops.

The 85 richest in the world probably include the four members of the Walton family (owners of Wal-Mart, among the top ten superrich in the USA) who together are worth over $100 billion. Rich families like the DuPonts have controlling interests in giant corporations like General Motors, Coca-Cola, and United Brands. They own about forty manorial estates and private museums in Delaware alone and have set up 31 tax-exempt foundations. The superrich in America and in many other countries find ways, legal and illegal, to shelter much of their wealth in secret accounts. We don’t really know how very rich the very rich really are.

Regarding the poorest portion of the world population—whom I would call the valiant, struggling “better half”—what mass configuration of wealth could we possibly be talking about? The aggregate wealth possessed by the 85 super-richest  individuals, and the aggregate wealth owned by the world’s 3.5 billion poorest, are of different dimensions and different natures. Can we really compare private jets, mansions, landed estates, super luxury vacation retreats, luxury apartments, luxury condos, and luxury cars, not to mention hundreds of billions of dollars in equities, bonds, commercial properties, art works, antiques, etc.—can we really compare all that enormous wealth against some millions of used cars, used furniture, and used television sets, many of which are ready to break down?  Of what resale value if any, are such minor durable-use commodities, especially in communities of high unemployment, dismal health and housing conditions, no running water, no decent sanitation facilities, etc? We don’t really know how poor the very poor really are.

Millions of children who number in the lower 50 percent never see the inside of a school. Instead they labor in mills, mines and on farms, under conditions of peonage.  Nearly a billion people are unable to read or write. The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. So poverty is spreading even as wealth accumulates. It is not enough to bemoan this enormous inequality, we must also explain why it is happening.

But for now, let me repeat: the world’s richest 85 individuals do not have the same amount of accumulated wealth as the world’s poorest 50 percent. They have vastly more. The multitude on the lower rungs—even taken as a totality—have next to nothing.

Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti’s recent books include: God and His Demons(Prometheus), Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (City Lights);Democracy for the Few, 9th ed. (Wadsworth); The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), and The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press). For further information, visit his website: www.michaelparenti.org.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Syria at the Edge of ‘Shock Doctrine’

February 18th, 2014 by Rob Prince

Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a leading advocate for “humanitarian” military interventions.

Disappointed that President Obama didn’t bomb Syria last year, the neocons and other war hawks are using the frustrations over initial peace talks in Geneva to ratchet up pressure for a “humanitarian” military assault now.

At a moment when the only viable path open to resolving the Syrian conflict lies in a negotiated settlement between the Assad government and the legitimate opposition, two colleagues at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies, Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel of the Center for Middle East Studies, have put forth an emotional and poorly conceived call for military intervention to resolve the escalating humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Using logic tinted with Cold War reasoning (blaming the Russians is bit out of fashion) and poor examples (Somalia — 1993?) to bolster their arguments, they put forth their ideas on the subject in a New York Times op-ed, titled “Use Force To Save Starving Syrians.” In a one-sided appeal, they place the blame for the Syrian human debacle almost entirely at the feet of the Assad government for virtually all of the violence.

 

At the same time, the role of Salafist Islamic militants (trained and funded by the Saudis, Qatar, Turkey and ultimately supported and manipulated by Washington) is minimized if not denied. Yet it is these elements who have, to a great degree, essentially hijacked a legitimate Syrian opposition movement, internationalized the struggle and continue to wreak havoc and death in their goal to establish Shariah law in Syria and beyond.

Russia is criticized for failing to restrain the Syrian government’s military actions but no similar demands — none at all – are made of the United States and the Saudis to rein in “allies” fighting in the field. Nor is any weight given to the extensive human, infrastructural and cultural damage these Islamic fundamentalist elements have done or to their utter viciousness, cruelty and politically retrograde nature.

Calling for military intervention as a way to end or at least reduce the bloodshed in Syria does pull at certain ethical heartstrings. But it is, at best, a desperate appeal, and at worst, quite frankly, a cynical move meant to give cover to not especially humane long-term geopolitical considerations.  

Indeed, perhaps the sorriest assumption of their argument is that the United States can save the day and end the humanitarian tragedy in Syria by riding in on its white heavenly horse laden with cruise missiles and drones. Are they forgetting Washington’s long record of supporting totalitarian regimes in exchange for oil in the Middle East and elsewhere, and whose involvement in the Syrian tragedy is, incidentally, far from innocent?

One must make a distinction between “humanitarian intervention” in times of war, and military intervention using humanitarian pretexts. The latter actually has a very long and sordid history going back at least several hundred years and has been used by virtually every colonial and neocolonial military intervention and massacre. It is nothing new, although lately, through the thinking of certain American intellectuals (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and others) it has been given a new intellectual gloss, “responsibility to protect.”

Pulling out the “humanitarian” pretext has become more in fashion in this post-Cold War era when the United States can no longer argue that countering the “Soviet threat” is a pretext for political and military intervention. Even during the Cold War, the United States would frequently invoke a humanitarian pretext (intermingled with anti-communism) for its Third World interventions, CIA coups, whatever. The bodies of hundreds of thousands of Chileans, Argentines, Brazilians, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, litter the fields and oceans as evidence of the results of that policy.

Of late the swan song of “saving the natives from humanitarian disaster” has been cultivated into a fine art by the French in Africa in their attempt to re-position themselves to insure their share of that continent’s strategic assets, most recently in Mali and now in the Central African Republic. [The French military intervention in Mali, ostensibly to fight radical Islamists, followed those militants spreading their influence across northern Africa as a result of the French-U.S.-led “humanitarian” intervention to oust and kill Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011.]

Washington is learning from Paris how to refine the argument. What is usually omitted or denied is the degree to which (in the case of the French in Mali or the U.S. in Syria) French or American behind-the-scene machinations contributed to the crises exploding in the first place. This is certainly the case for U.S. political activities in Syria — publicly calling for President Bashar al-Assad “to go” by ceding power to a “transitional government” while less openly training, arming and financing some of the most dastardly elements in the Middle East to bring down the Assad regime (or getting regional allies to do so).

Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine aptly applies to what the United States did in Libya (it was Washington pulling the strings even if the French took the lead in the bombing campaign) and what it has tried to do less successfully in Syria: use the pretext of humanitarian intervention to garner public support for a military-initiated regime change. Follow that up with UN Security Council support for limited military actions to give the cover of international law to the operation. Then, immediately violate the UN mandate by unilaterally extending the scope of the approved mission. Get as many “allies” on board to do the fighting to extend the weight of the “coalition of the willing.”

Once the regime change has been accomplished, the societies are restructured along neoliberal lines making for easier economic penetration and exploitation, their formerly more centralized governments fractured in one way or another. Once the fighting is over, offer World Bank and/or IMF structural adjustment aid to restructure the battered economies and infrastructure along neoliberal lines.

In calling for military intervention in Syria — something not even the U.S. military is particularly enthusiastic about — Hashemi and Postel cozy up, as they have before on Iran in 2009 and Libya in 2011, with the likes of AIPAC, along with this country’s band of intrepid and misguided neoconservatives. These are the same elements that pushed this country into invading Iraq and continue to push the Obama administration to intervene militarily in Syria.

What would be worse at the moment than a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria, which has the possibility of aggravating an already destabilized region that much more and probably drawing in other players including Iraq, Iran and possibly Russia? The military situation on the ground over the past year has shifted dramatically in favor of the Assad government and its allies reducing Washington’s hopes for regime change in Syria considerably.

The inner workings of the Obama administration’s decision not to attack Syria last September remain hazy. Perhaps someday the deeper logic of the decision to pull away from the abyss will come to light. They seem to include both regional considerations as well as Washington’s desire, not to be exaggerated, to shift American strategic attention to Asia. The concern that military operations in Syria could result in Iraq- or Afghanistan-like debacles for U.S. policy probably figured into the decision.

Along with near global opposition to a bombing campaign against Syria last September, the futility and probably negative results of such a plan may have also figured into the Obama administration’s decisionnot to initiate military action. Whatever, that decision not to pull the military trigger against Syria, followed by Washington’s negotiations with both Syria and Iran, are some of the (few) wiser decisions that President Barack Obama has made on Middle East policy since coming to office in 2009.

Regarding Syria, another hard truth, even for sincere humanitarians, is that U.S. (or U.S.-led) military intervention is not likely to improve the humanitarian tragedy unfolding there but instead could even worsen the already bleak reality. Though surely, a U.S.-led bombing campaign would kill many Syrians, including civilians, there is no certainty — none — that it would in any way resolve the conflict.

Rather than ratcheting up the dangers of the Syrian conflict, is it not the time to do just the opposite? Despite the predictably frustrations, should we not, instead, press for a negotiated political solution to a conflict that has proven it will have no military solution? Admittedly, the Geneva negotiations over Syria to date have been little more than a charade, but then are we — the world — not in a better place wrangling over how to settle the Syrian crisis politically rather than fighting over which targets U.S. drones and Cruise missiles might be targeting?

The failure of this round (Geneva II as it is called) cannot be blamed, as the authors do, on Russian machinations. To the contrary, Russia and most particularly its foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, are looking more like the peacemakers in the Syria crisis than is Washington. Global public opinion recognizes very clearly that the Russians have played a positive, if not decisive, role in moving the Syrian crisis from big power military confrontation to negotiations while the Obama administration’s approach is more confused and contradictory.

After a sharp U-turn away from military confrontation last year by agreeing to multi-party negotiations on Syria, the Obama administration seems to have gotten cold feet about pursuing the Geneva process seriously. The fact of the matter is that there is no way, none, that Washington can “resolve” the Syrian crisis independently on its own or to its liking. The Obama administration plan for “regime change” in Syria — what it has been working on now for several years — appears dead in the water.

What is the alternative vision to ending the humanitarian crisis in Syria? What can be done to stop the bleeding? The following are some steps I would recommend that might just make considerably more sense than bombing Damascus or sending U.S. troops to die in yet another Middle East war. It is a global peace offensive that is needed, not military intervention.

1. That the international community could and should call on all parties to initiate an immediate multi-sided ceasefire. Of course, pressure from outside allies would be key. If it would be expected that the Russians and Iranians would hold the Syrian government to task, it would also be expected that the United States and the Saudis would hold their allies on the ground to the same standard.

2. The recruiting, training and arming of all foreign mercenaries should end.

3. Assuming that the ceasefire could be established, then a massive humanitarian aid program, directed by the United Nations, supported by a Security Council resolution should be implemented as soon as possible.

4. The Geneva peace process has to be actively supported. Frankly, as Ibrahim Kazerooni and I have stated on our radio program, in our op-eds for the past three years, in public forums and elsewhere, there can be no military solution to the Syrian crisis. It can only be resolved politically and diplomatically (a position that President Obama has said that he shares).

5. The Geneva negotiations should center on talks between the Assad government and the legitimate Syrian opposition. By the latter is meant, those domestic opponents to the regime, whose grievances against the government are longstanding (and genuine) and whose roots in Syrian society are organic and undisputed. Such negotiations need to be pursued without preconditions beyond maintaining the ceasefire.

6. The Obama administration has to be more engaged in the multilateral Geneva peace negotiations. While Washington made an important decision by not going to war last September, it seems to be essentially paralyzed in moving the negotiating process. Once again, it is time for Obama to display the political courage he showed the world in September by pressing the United States to negotiate seriously in Geneva and not let the domestic political opponents to his Syrian policy (neo-conservatives, AIPAC, etc.) once again gain the upper hand.

Rob Prince is Teaching Professor at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. In recent years, he has written extensively on North Africa. He is also the publisher of the Colorado Progressive Jewish News.

Destabilizing Venezuela: Washington v. Chavismo

February 18th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Destabilizing Venezuela is longstanding US policy. Chavez denounced it many times. President Nicolas Maduro does now.

After his April 2013 election, he accused opposition candidate Henrique Capriles of coup plotting against him.

“Preparations are under way for an attempt to de-recognize democratic institutions,” he said.

Dark forces never quit. Washington prioritizes regime change. Venezuela is a prime target.

At the time, Maduro accused US embassy officials of plotting “acts of violence.” He expelled two Obama military attaches.

He accused another embassy employee of plotting sabotage against Venezuela’s electrical grid.

“I will use a hard hand against fascism and intolerance,” he said. “I declare it. If they want to overthrow me, come and get me.”

He asked Venezuelans to “(d)ecide who you are with…the country and peace and the people (or) fascism.”

Destabilization continues. Obama wants regime change. On Sunday, Maduro addressed thousands of supporters.

He accused fascist elements of coup plotting. He called on Venezuelans to “combat in the streets with ideas, with values, in high quality debate, with respect for people’s rights, without violence.”

Roy Chaderton is Venezuelan Organization of American States (OAS) ambassador. He sent Maduro a report listing US demands. They include:

  • dialoguing with opposition leaders;
  • releasing detainees arrested during violent protests; and
  • threatening that “the arrest of (fascist Popular Will party head) Mr. Leopoldo Lopez could cause negative consequences in their international ramifications.”

Obama demands no legal action against him. Maduro called his demands “unacceptable and insolent…I don’t accept threats from anybody,” he said.

“They will be hard to stop us,” he stressed. (W)e are willing to go to the end in defense of peace and democracy.”

On Monday, he called other Latin American presidents. He urged them to denounce US threats. He asked Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Secretary General Ali Rodriguez for support.

He told Foreign Minister Elias Jaua to declare three US embassy officials persona non grata. He ordered them expelled.

He accused them of involvement in destabilizing Venezuela. They weren’t identified by name.

A Foreign Ministry statement said Washington seeks to “promote and legitimize the attempts to destabilize the Venezuelan democracy that have sparked violent groups in last days.”

“…Venezuela strongly rejects the statements of…John Kerry…”

“…Obama lies when he…question(s) the validity of human rights and democratic guarantees in our country.”

Bolivarian institutions guarantee “the exercise of political rights to all its citizens, in a framework of broad civic freedoms enshrined constitutionally.”

“The US government is lying when it denounces the detention of (so-called) peaceful anti-government protesters.”

“Venezuela has acted and will continue to (confront) violent actions by small groups of extreme (hardliners) conspiring against the liberties (and threatening) the life of our fellow citizens…”

Both countries have no ambassadorial relations. Last September, Maduro expelled Washington’s charge d’affaires and two other embassy officials.

“…John Kerry…defends violent leader Leopoldo Lopez…(S)ufficient evidence” shows his involvement in anti-government street rioting.

“The people and the Venezuelan government…will continue imperturbably exercising all (legal) actions…necessary to…defeat” Washington’s anti-Bolivarian agenda.

“We call (on all independent) governments…and peoples of the world against this serious US intervention.”

US/Venezuelan relations have been strained since Chavez took office in February 1999. They remain so now.

Venezuela is infested with US coup plotters. CIA operatives have been involved for years.

Corporate funded right-wing think tanks want Venezuela returned to its bad old days. They go all-out to vilify Bolivarian fairness. Lies substitute for truth.

Heritage Foundation (HF) misinformation claims Venezuelan “economic and political freedom is nonexistent.” Maduro is vilified for relations with China, Cuba, Russia and Iran.

Venezuela is a model of democratic fairness. Media freedom is the hemisphere’s best. Not according to HF.

It lied claiming Maduro “persecutes political adversaries and critics.”

“Restrictions on media freedom undermine the opposition,” it added.

Doomsayers claim Venezuela’s economy is troubled. Economist Mark Weisbrot calls pre-Chavez years “economic(ally) disast(rous).”

From 1980 – 1998, per capital income fell. Chavez turned disaster into success. Predictions of economic collapse deny reality.

Venezuela isn’t Greece. Its “long awaited apocalypse” isn’t likely, said Weisbrot. Around $100 billion in oil revenue avoids balance of payments problems.

About $40 billion of reserves adds stability. Bank of America calls Venezuelan bonds a good buy. Possible hyperinflation is remote.

Despite challenging problems, Venezuela’s economy is far from troubled. Growth was positive for 13 straight quarters.

Jobs are available for most Venezuelans who want them. Chavez cut poverty from 60% to 26%. Extreme poverty decreased from over 16% to 7%.

Venezuelans have Latin America’s highest minimum wage. According to Weisbrot, “Venezuela has sufficient reserves and foreign exchange earnings to do whatever it wants to do.”

Over-dependence on oil can be overcome in time. So can other longterm structural problems.

Overcoming Washington’s regime change agenda is most challenging. Right-wing think tanks support it.

Harold Trinkunas heads Brookings’ Latin America Initiative in the Foreign Policy program.

He formerly chaired the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School.

On January 23, he headlined ”Venezuela Breaks Down in Violence.” It was a memo to Obama. It’s a thinly veiled call for regime change. He urged US intervention.

He claimed “economic mismanagement.” On the one hand, he said it “reached such a level that it risks a violent popular reaction.”

Later in his memo he called the “risk of a violent outcome low.”

“(I)t is in the US interest that Venezuela remain a reliable source of oil,” he said.

“Popular unrest in a country with multiple armed actors, including the military, the militia, organized crime and pro-government gangs, is a recipe for unwelcome chaos and risks an interruption of oil production,” he added.

He urged Obama to enlist help from Brazil. It’s interests are at risk, he claimed. He recommended efforts made “to convince (Maduro) to shift course.”

If crisis conditions erupt, he wants Maduro ousted. He couched his language as follows:

Begin “quiet conversations” with other regional countries. Plan “steps to take should Venezuela experience a violent breakdown of political order.”

Washington “would need to work with key states in the region – Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia – on a regional consensus in favor of rebuilding ‘democracy’ in Venezuela.”

The kind Trinkunas favors is none at all. He wants Obama enlisting help from regional allies. He wants Venezuela returned to its bad old days.

“(S)hould violence erupt,” he wants Obama “to prepare a concerted regional response that leads to Venezuela’s re-democratization.”

In other words, he wants regime change. He wants pro-Western puppet leadership replacing Maduro. He favors coup d’etat.

He wants a repeat of April 2002. He wants it working this time. Why he expects above named countries to help, he’ll have to explain.

Fearing Venezuela collapsing into violence doesn’t square with reality. Trouble makers are relatively few. Chavistas way outnumber them.

Venezuelan democracy is the world’s best. So is Bolivarian fairness. Not according to Trinkunas. He calls the political playing field “hardly level.”

Maduro “undermined democratic institutions” he claimed. He “centralized power in the executive branch…”

He “prevent(s) other branches of government, opposition parties or civil society from influencing policy.”

“There are no checks on the executive when it uses state resources to win elections and selectively applies the law to intimidate opponents.”

He “foreclosed peaceful options.” He’s “interventionist and increasingly authoritarian.”

He “put the armed forces on the street to enforce his economic decrees…” He fosters “popular discontent.”

His memo reads like straight State Department propaganda. Fiction substituted for facts. Misinformation drowned out truth.

He supports regime change. So does Obama. Not if Venezuelans have their say. They did before. Expect no less this time if necessary.

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

A abertura dos Jogos Olímpicos de Sochi se fez na sextra-feira, em plena campanha de propaganda da mídia americana. Entendendo as palavras de ordem da administração de Obama, e de seus aliados na Europa, a mídia americana tenta sabotar o evento olímpico para humilhar o regime do presidente Vladimir Putin.

Durante duas semanas mais de 2800 atletas concorrerão em 98 provas nessa cidade as costas do Mar Negro. Moscou vê os Jogos Olímpicos de Sochi como uma ocasião que simbolisa a renascença econômica e geopolítica da Rússia. Enquanto as tensões se exacerbam entre a Casa Branca e o Kremlin sobre o domínio da Eurásia, Washington e Bruxelas continuam tentando transformar os Jogos num fiasco diplomático e publicitário para Moscou.

Nenhum dos principais dirigentes, ou representantes dos países ocidentais, está assistindo os Jogos Olímpicos em Sochi, e a administração de Obama enviou voluntariamente para lá uma delegação de subalternos a representar os Estados Unidos. Essa delegação está constituida entre outros por um conselheiro da Casa Branca, da ex-chefe da segurança doméstica, Janet Napolitano, e do embaixador americano na Rússia, Michael McFaul, que é um virulento defensor da oposição anti-Putin, e o qual muito recentemente anunciou sua demissão do cargo de embaixador. A partida de McFaul é visto em amplos círculos como uma expressão do fim da política oficial americana de «restabelecer » relações com a Rússia, depois das controvérsias do período presidencial de George W. Bush.

A Grã-Bretanha, a França e Alemanha adoptaram a atitude dos Estados Unidos. Os políticos desses países pediram a seus representantes que boicotassem os Jogos. O vice-primeiro ministro britânico anunciou, pouco depois da abertura dos Jogos Olímpicos, que ele tinha interditado os ministros liberal-democratas de ir assisti-los em Sochi, supostamente então pela razão da lei russa anti-gay. Em dezembro o presidente alemão Joachim Gauck declarou que iria boicotar o acontecimento. O ministro italiano Enrico Letti, o único dirigente do G8, tirando-se aqui então o Japão, a participar em Sochi, esteve abaixo de muita crítica por causa dessa sua decisão.

As leis anti-gay recentemente promulgadas na Rússia que interditam a « propaganda homosexual » são usadas como uma das principais armas utilizadas contra o governo Putin. Isso enquanto os Estados Unidos, mantendo relações, as mais estreitas, com regimes como os da Arábia Saudita, onde a homosexualidade é punida pela flagelação ou a morte, atiça o frenesi da defesa da comunidade dos direitos humanos nessas questões, contra a Rússia.

Os atletas olímpicos da Alemanha na parada de abertura dos jogos apresentaram-se vestidos com uniformes representando as cores do arco-íris, o símbolo dos direitos gay. No mesmo dia Google mudou a sua página de entrada apresentando-a num semelhante logo multicolorido. Num artigo da New Republic, Julia Loffe disse que a única discoteca gay de Sochi tinha sido tomada de assalto por jornalistas estrangeiros querendo entrevistar o pessoal de serviço e seus clientes.

Um número de autores assim como de artistas renomados também participaram nesse frenesi e publicaram na semana passada uma carta aberta no diário britânico “Guardian”, o qual denunciava o governo russo por sua repressão da liberdade de expressão. Salman Rushdie, Günter Grass, EL Doctorow, Margaret Atwood e Tony Kuchner, para só nominar alguns, exigiram do Kremlin que  « reconhecessem que a Rússia tinha a obrigação, abaixo da convenção internacional sobre os direitos civís e políticos, de respeitar a liberdade de opinião, de expressão e de religião ». A carta da qual a publicação esteve claramente prevista para coincidir com a abertura dos Jogos Olímpicos faz parte de uma campanha contra a Rússia usando o slogan dos «direitos humanos » .

Ainda bem que a Rússia esteja longe de ser um modelo em termos de direitos democráticos, os assinantes dessa carta vem de países que conduzem grandes assaltos contra as liberdades cívicas. O presidente dos Estados Unidos declarou abertamente que ele tem o direito de assassinar cidadãos americanos sem proceduras razoáveis, o que também ele já o fez. Ainda mais, o seu governo dirige a maior operação de espionagem da história da humanidade, o que também já seria o maior assalto as liberdades cívicas da sua história.

Entrando na coordenada campanha de afrontas políticas e de «defesa dos direitos humanos » dirigidas contra os Jogos Olímpicos de Sochi tem-se então também as incontáveis reportagens sobre as pequenas falhas de segurança, e da infraestrutura. A propaganda da mídia americana seguindo a palavra de ordem dada por Washington vai a todo vapor.

Essa campanha esteve de partida concentrada sobre o risco de um ataque terrorista. O que silenciaram a respeito foi o fato de que o maior perigo contra os Jogos Olímpicos vem das forças islâmicas aliadas aos rebeldes, forças estas apoiadas pelos Estados Unidos, na Síria. Entretanto, a campanha se transformou agora em uma série de reportagens: a respeito dos custos astronômicos, do desgaste do meio ambiente causado pelos jogos, de histórias sensacionalistas de água ruim saindo das torneiras dos hotéis, de banheiros e de maçanetas quebradas, de cães errantes nas ruas e dos imensos montes de materiais de construção, deixados para trás.

« Tweets de jornalistas em direto de Sochi nos contam suas experiências gosadas e sujas », escreveu o Washington Post [ministério da propaganda de Washington] em 4 de fevereiro. « Sochi: a pior destinação olímpica da história? » era o título de um recente artigo na revista americana Time.

Num artigo de 7 de fevereiro denominado « As sombras por detrás do brilho de Sochi » o New York Times tenta minar todas as impressões positivas que um expectador poderia ter tido na cerimônia de abertura de sexta-feira, 7 de fevereito. « A cerimônia estava muito encantadora e tudo funcionou muito bem de maneira que seria fácil de esquecer o que mascarava o brilho e o grande espetáculo » escreveu Juliet Macur, ajuntando então: « Essa semana Sochi estava como o hóspedeiro de uma festa da qual os convidados chegam tarde demais: exatamente de quando a hospedeira já está saindo do banho, com rolos nos cabelos, sem maquillage e com a louça por lavar. »

A mídia ocidental ressaltou bem a presença dos cães errantes em Sochi. Como se estvessem esperando esse sinal os defensores dos direitos dos animais juntaram suas vozes as das condenando a Rússia. A Sociedade Humana Internacional até escreveu um documento explicando como adotar um cão errante em Sochi.

Como que para demonstrar a hipocrisia da mídia, Sally Jenkis do Washinfton Post atacou os Jogos Olímpicos de Sochi por ter dilapidado fundos públicos, de quando frente a pobreza da região, assim como os danos causados ao meio ambiente. Jenkins parece ter esquecido que ela vive num país onde os 20% mais ricos da população possuem 90% da riqueza total. Ela se queixa da qualidade dos papéis de parede dos hotéis e critica « Putin e o pequeno grupo de 110 cúmplices bilionários que teriam desviado as riquezas da Rússia ». Ela critica a grandiosidade dos Jogos Olímpicos que teria a finalidade de « fazer tremer o impotente cidadão commum frente a força do Estado Novo russo ».

Esses comentários, e os da mídia americana em sua totalidade, fazem lembrar do velho provérbio: « vê-se o cisco nos olhos do vizinho mas não a viga nos nossos próprios olhos ».

O Washington Post apoia a criação de um estado policial nos Estados Unidos, assim como operações de espionagem de massas através da NSA, que ele tenta apresentar como componentes necessários numa luta contra o terrorismo. Quando se trata dos interesses do imperialismo americano, esse diário não ressente nenhum mau causado as pessoas comuns, que tremem de impotência.

E quanto as grandes desigualdades econômicas na Rússia, no quadro dos Jogos de Sochi, os jogos olímpicos mais recentes nos Estados Unidos e na Grã-Bretanha não foram diferentes.

Os jogos olímpicos de verão de 1996 nos Estados Unidos, se deram na cidade de Atlanta, classificada no nono lugar em termos de pobreza, e no décimo em termos de crimes violentos, por habitante, Os quarteirões nas redondezas das instalações olímpicas eram profundamente pobres. A renda média seria sómente de $ 8621 dólares, [Incerto em relação a que e a quanto tempo. Entende-se todavia pelo texto que é muito pouco.]

Os jogos olímpicos de inverno em Salt Lake City em 2002, durante os quais se levantou o escândalo de “pots-de-vins” a levantar fúria, também estiveram severamente criticados pelos ecologistas por causa do dano causados aos territórios naturais da região. Alex Kelner, co-fundador do grupo ecológico de “Utah” « Salvemos nossos desfiladeiros »– canyons no original – disse ao Los Angeles Times na época: « A única coisa que é verde nesses jogos é a côr do dinheiro que circula. »

Todos os Jogos Olímpicos da época moderna foram acometidos de escândalos de “pots-de-vin” e de corrupção. Os $30 bilhões de dólares [$ 30 milliards na denominação francesa]  aparentemente inexplicáveis do governo russo nos Jogos Olímpicos, se bem que consideráveis , comparam-se bem frente aos $85 bilhões [no original $ 85 milliards]  que o governo norteamericano injeta todos os meses no sistema financeiro, dentro do quadro do programa  da « facilitação quantitativa », [ou seja a impressão de dinheiro pelo sistema federal, sistema esse que lê-se Wall Street ]. Esse eterno salvamento da indústria financeira alimentou um imenso aumento no mercado financeiro, o que também, no meio tempo, ia  transferindo a riqueza para os já super-ricos.

A cobertura midiática dos Jogos Olímpicos em Sochi reflete a subordinação total da mídia aos interesses da classe dirigente norteamericana. Para os interesses imperialistas americanos a Rússia é o segundo principal rival, vindo depois da China. Washington tenta muito agressivamente minar a influência de Moscou na Europa do Leste, apoiando por exemplo um movimento de protesto de extrema-direita anti-russo na Ukraina, o que ameaça de dividir o país e jogá-lo numa guerra civíl. A Casa Branca e o Kremlin estão atualmente em profundo desacordo sobre a política do Oriente Médio, sobre a questão da Síria, assim também como a do Irã.

A atitude de Washington, e de seus aliados europeus, aos Jogos Olímpicos de Sochi é motivada por essas tensões, e por outras divisões geopolíticas com a Rússia. Com a ajuda da mídia servil a Casa Branca tenta reduzir a estatura de um dos seus maiores rivais, de criar condições para uma mudança de regime na Rússia, e de preparar a população americana para o próximo potencial conflito militar.

Andrea Peters

Artigo original, WSWS,  de 10 de fevereiro de 2014

Mondialisation – www.mondialisation.ca

Tradução Anna Malm – http://artigospoliticos.wordpress.com

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of U.S. military veteran and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern against John Kerry, in his capacity as the Secretary of State, and against officers at George Washington University. (Click here to read the Civil Complaint: McGovern v. Kerry et al.)

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia three years to the date of Mr. McGovern’s brutal and false arrest at GWU during a speech of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After the arrest, the PCJF uncovered that then 71-year-old McGovern was put on a “Be On the Look-Out” list, and agents were instructed to stop and question him on sight. The reasons cited included his “political activism, primarily anti-war” — a clearly unconstitutional order.

Circumstances of arrest

The circumstances of McGovern’s 2011 arrest were marked by stinging irony. McGovern was brutalized and arrested after peacefully and silently standing with his back to Hillary Clinton as she gave a policy speech condemning authoritarian governments who repress dissenters and internet freedom.

As described in the Civil Complaint: “As Secretary Clinton was reading from her prepared remarks regarding Egypt’s dictatorship saying, ‘Then the government pulled the plug,’ the then-71-year-old McGovern was forcibly and falsely arrested by GWU police officers, grabbed by the head, assaulted, and as Secretary Clinton continued undisturbed stating, ‘the government … did not want the world to watch,’ Mr. McGovern was removed from public view with excessive and brutal force, taken to jail, and left bleeding with bruises and contusions.”

Political targeting

The complaint continues: “The Department of State then opened an investigation into Plaintiff McGovern, including specifically his lawful, protected political beliefs, activities, statements and associations which it kept open for nearly seven months, despite all charges having been dropped against Mr. McGovern and despite having determined that Mr. McGovern was engaged in no criminal activity.”

As the complaint states: “The Department of State issued a Be On The Lookout Alert (‘BOLO Alert’) for the then- 71-year-old McGOVERN which described his ‘considerable amount of political activism, primarily anti-war,’ displayed his picture and directed law enforcement that if Mr. McGOVERN was encountered, ‘USE CAUTION, stop’ and question him and contact the Department of State Diplomatic Security Command Center.”

PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard stated: “Mr. McGovern’s brutal arrest and his subsequent political targeting by the State Department stands in sharp contrast to the policy announcement that Secretary Clinton was delivering, which insisted that governments respect dissent and dissenters and their freedom of speech.”

Carl Messineo, Legal Director of the PCJF, explained, “Mr. McGovern is a veteran who committed no crime. Yet the State Department carried out a purely political investigation of him and put him on the BOLO list in clear violation of his Fourth and First Amendment protections.”

Mr. McGovern, 74, is a veteran Army officer who also served as an analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency for 27 years. Mr. McGovern wrote for the President’s daily brief under Presidents Nixon and Ford. From 1981 to 1985, he personally briefed this publication in the morning one-on-one to Vice President George H. W. Bush, the Secretaries of State and Defense, and other senior officials of the administration of Ronald Reagan.

Upon retirement in early 1990, Mr. McGovern was awarded the Intelligence Commendation Award for his particularly commendable service and received a laudatory farewell letter from then-President George H. W. Bush.

Thirteen years later, Mr. McGovern co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity to expose that intelligence was being falsified by the U.S. government to justify war on Iraq.

Ray McGovern injuries

Prosecution of Ray McGovern is Dropped

The charges against Ray McGovern have been dropped and the government has decided not to proceed with its prosecution. more >>

Copyright The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund 2014

A Venezuela de novo na mira dos golpistas

February 18th, 2014 by Oscar Fortin

Depois da tomada democrática do poder pelo povo venezuelano em 1998, os inimigos da democracia ainda não pararam de tentar, por todos os meios, o retornar as suas mãos o poder, que tão bem lhes tinha servido. Esses inimigos da democracia tem um nome, mas até hoje os seus diabólicos projetos, de criar por ações terroristas as condições para um golpe de estado, tem sido um fracasso.

Em abril de 2002, de quando do Golpe de Estado na Venezuela, que não durou mais que algumas dias, podendo contar-se em não muitas horas, nós pudemos ver quem é que estava por detrás das manifestações violentas. Entre essas pessoas lá estavam os patrocinadores das mesmas representando as mais altas instâncias. A Igreja Católica estava representada pelo seu cardeal. Depois também lá estavam, entre outros, inúmeros representantes do sector das comunicações, do comércio e da indústria.  A mão invisível de Washington estava sendo assunto em todas as bocas, e o presidente americano de então, George W. Bush, foi o primeiro a reconhecer o governo golpista, produto de milhões de dólares investidos para derrubar Chavez, e retornar o controle do país.

Agora um cenário semelhante está se vivendo na Venezuela. Não se trata de manifestações espontâneas, como a mídia servindo os interesses do império e das oligarquias desejam que se acredite. Trata-se aqui de um plano muito bem estruturado e organizado, cujo objetivo é a derrubada do governo e a tomada do poder pela força. Os dólares é que não faltam para que se corrompa. Aqui também não há falta de cúmplices para fazer o trabalho sujo.

Já a alguns meses os venezuelanos vem sendo submetidos a uma guerra comercial, a qual tem o objetivo de privá-los dos produtos essenciais para a sua subsistência, e a manutenção da vida quotidiana. O primeiro ponto desse plano consiste em deixar dentro dos armazéns e dos grandes recipientes, nos containers,  os produtos de primeira necessidade para a alimentação e lazer da população. Foi assim os centros de compras e especiarias ficaram sofrendo falta de muitos produtos. A isso ainda se ajuntou a especulação sobre os preços do que ainda estava disponível. O objetivo era o de virar a população contra o governo, e alimentar a avidez da mídia a respeito do fiasco desse socialismo, para que pudessem então dizer que esse socialismo criava  falta de tudo, privando dessa maneira o povo venezuelano dos produtos mais importantes e essenciais.

Que se traga então a memória que foi  exatamente esse tipo de desejado cenário que motivou a colocação do bloqueio econômico contra Cuba.

Em 1960 Lester D. Mallory, então sub-secretário assistente do Estado em Negócios interamericanos dos Estados Unidos, escreveu num memorandum que a única maneira de se derrubar Castro seria com a provocação « da fome e do desespero » entre os cubanos, a fim de que esses viessem a « derrubar o governo », o qual era apoiado pela « grande maioria dos cubanos ». Ele declarou ainda que nesse objetivo o governo americano deveria utilizar « todos os meios possíveis para minar a vida econômica de Cuba » 19.

Nós sabemos que o presidente Maduro respondeu com determinação a esse primeiro ponto do plano de destabilização. Ele pôs em dia os armazèns e containers, os grandes recipientes, completos e cheios com todas as mercadorias pondo-as em circulação nos grandes locais comerciais. Para conter a especulação sobre os preços ele fixou um preço máximo para os diversos produtos,  pondo um teto de 30% aos lucros, o qual deveria basear-se no valor básico dessas mercadorias.

Na quarta, 12 de fevereiro, nós vimos  o segundo ponto do plano. Estudantes, bem remunerados, foram mobilizados para sairem as ruas, protestar, provocar incidentes violentos, saquear repartições públicas e criar um clima de crise, o que permitiria a mídia, abaixo de controle do império e das oligarquias, de difundir pelo mundo imagens mostrando os estudantes em revolta contra o governo sendo fortemente reprimidos pelas forças policiais.

Até agora o governo e as forças policiais tem agido com contenção, tomando medidas com moderação, e não deixando nada de sobra para a mídia se não as ações dos próprios estudantes e dos paramilitares infiltrados no movimento. A mídia irá apelar a truques com suas  fotos velhas, isso para assegurar a cobertura internacional. A história dssa montagem de velhas fotos foi trazida a luz pelo governo. Tudo ficou  já muito bem demonstrado.

Trata-se aqui de um plano implicando altos dirigentes da oposição venezuelana,  infiltração de paramilitares feita através dos estudantes, representantes da mídia  particular da Venezuela, e como se poderia prever, de Washington com seus milhões de dólares, e suas agências de sabotagem como por exemplo a CIA. Quanto a Igreja Católica ela habitualmente sempre está pronta a condenar a violência e o desrespeito a constituição, mas isso então discretamente demais. Poderia-se aqui confirmar o ditado que diz que quem silencia, consente?

É importante se ressaltar aqui um personagem importante da Igreja e da América Latina. Trata-se de um cardeal hondurano, o cardeal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga. Para os que não o conhecem, esse é o cardeal de Honduras que não exitou em colaborar, em junho de 2009, com os golpistas a fim de caçar, pela força das armas, o legítimamente eleito presidente Manuel Zelaya. Esse cardeal é também um dos homens de confiança do papa Francisco. O cardeal Oscar Rodriguez trabalha  como coordenador do grupo conselheiro do papa para a reforma da cúria romana.

Esse cardeal, bem ligado a Washington e ao Vaticano, fiél aliado das oligarquias de Honduras, falou com  jornalistas em Berlin, ou melhor, discursou para eles, o que só poderia fazer que se pensasse que esse cardeal seria capaz de remover montanhas.

Depois de ter constatado que a globalização era um grande fracasso, e que a corrupção se alastrava, ele proseguiu zelosamente denunciando que o mesmo estava acontecendo ao sistema venezuelano, que também seria um grande fracasso, onde a corrupção perdurava, ainda que fosse com novas personagens.

Foi dito que  situaçäo exigia um novo sistema de governo e de democracia.

« Quando, exclamou ele, aqui chegará uma Primavera Latinoamericana?  »

Esse apelo a uma primavera latinoamericana se põe em direta relação com as primaveras árabes no Oriente Médio. Isso soa falso, e deveria levantar suspeitas. Ele finge ignorar tudo o que se passa atualmente na América Latina. Ele parece não ver o que se passa no Equador, na Bolívia, na Nicaragua, na Argentina, no Brasil e mesmo em Cuba. Ele desqualifica, sem nenhuma consideração, a Venezuela de Chavez e o socialismo do século XXI, do qual ele se guarda de mencionar. Ele parece não ver então o que se passa com a UNASUR, coma a MERCOSUR, com a ALBA e a CELAC. Ele age como se nada disso existisse. Nós poderíamos pensar que ele está em serviço, abaixo de comandado, preparando o espírito para futuras ações de sabotagem e manipulação trazendo os ares de uma nova primavera para a América Latina.

Por seu silêncio selectivo, e seus discursos sobre uma desejada primavera latinoamericana, a qual poderia já estar em marcha a alguns anos, ele abre as portas a “salvadores humanitários” que sabem como fazer bons trabalhos de sabotagem, assim também como massacres, como os do Iraque, da Líbia e agora os da Síria.  [aspas acrescentadas]

Realmente, isso nos faz refletir.

Esse cardeal não me inspira realmente nenhuma confiança. Com as suas palavras e propostas ele estimula, entre outras coisas, manifestações de sabotagem, as quais poderiam ser planejadas e organizadas desde Washington.

O futuro nos dirá, em breve, se a política do Vaticano irá se ajustar as exortações apostólicas do papa Francisco, se irão permanecer como estão, ou piorar.

Nesse meio tempo o povo da Venezuela, assim como a solidariedade latinoamericana, deveria estar preparado para lutar contra novos golpes de estado na América Latina. Seria melhor que o povo contasse só consigo mesmo, não esperando nada de falsos salvadores da humanidade, alimentados pela ganância e ambições de poder. Mais uma vez o povo de Chavez e por conseguinte a América Latina provavelmente terá que vencer  esses abutres.

Oscar Fortin

Québec, 14 de fevereiro de 2014-02-17

Artigo em francês :

VenezuelaLe Venezuela de nouveau dans la mire des putschistes, 14 de fevereiro de 2014

http://humanisme.blogspot.com

Tradução Anna Malm – http://artigospoliticos.wordpress.com


Ler :

http://www.legrandsoir.info/venezuela-amorce-d-un-putsch.html

Aqui eu [Oscar Fortin] apresento alguns trechos da entrevista de imprensa do cardeal com uma tradução livre.[ênfases acrescentada]

[A] – Esto lleva (fracaso de la globalización) a la tentación de otro tipo de liderazgo”, argumentó Rodríguez Madariaga y puso como ejemplo a Venezuela, un sistema que también “es un gran fracaso” ya que, a su juicio, es tan sólo “la misma corrupción con otra cara”.

[B] – Cela (l’échec de la globalisation) nous conduit à la tentation d’un autre type de direction, argumenta Rodriguez Maradiaga et il donna comme exemple le Venezuela, un système qu’est aussi un grand échec, lequel, à son jugement, comporte la même corruption avec un autre visage. »

Português: Isso leva ao (fracasso da globalização] e nos leva a tentação [de desejar] um outro tipo de liderança, disse Rodriguez Madariaga dando como exemplo a Venezuela, enquanto acrescentando que essa tinha também um sistema muito fracassado. Seria simplesmente a mesma corrupção com uma nova aparência.  [aspas não colocadas]

[A] – “¿Cuándo vendrá la Primavera Latinoamericana?”, se preguntó el cardenal hondureño haciendo un paralelismo con lo sucedido en las revoluciones que arrancaron en 2011 el mundo árabe.

[B] – Pour quand le printemps Latino-américain ? se demanda le cardinal en faisant référence avec les révolutions qui transformèrent, en 2011, le monde arabe.

Português: Quando virá a Primavera Latinoamericana? Perguntou-se o cardeal hondurenho fazendo um paralelismo com o sucedido nas revoluções que começaram no mundo árabe em 2011.

[A] – A su juicio, la solución pasa por un “cambio del modelo de desarrollo”, ya que la “globalización ha sido un fracaso” que no ha servido para mejorar la vida de los millones de personas que viven en la pobreza.

[B] -Selon lui la solution passe par un changement de modèle de développement, étant donné que la globalisation a été un échec qui n’a pas servi à améliore la vie de millions de personnes qui vivent dans la pauvreté.

Português: Na opinião do cardeal a solução seria “mudar o modelo de desenvolvimento” já que a globalização se apresentava como um fracasso, não tendo servido para melhorar a vida de milhões de pessoas vivendo na pobreza.

http://www.periodistadigital.com/religion/america/2014/01/17/maradiaga-la-globalizacion-ha-sido-un-fracaso-es-una-mascara-para-un-monopolio-escondido-religion-iglesia-latinoamerica.shtml

 

I had a heck of a time making sense of the U.S. Navy’s new motto “A Global Force for Good” until I realized that it meant “We are a global force, and wherever we go we’re never leaving.”

For three years now people in the little island nation of Bahrain have been nonviolently protesting and demanding democratic reforms.

For three years now the king of Bahrain and his royal thugs have been shooting, kidnapping, torturing, imprisoning, and terrorizing nonviolent opponents.  An opponent includes anyone speaking up for human rights or even “insulting” the king or his flag, which carries a sentence of 7 years in prison and a hefty fine.

For three years now, Saudi Arabia has been aiding the King of Bahrain in his crackdown on the people of Bahrain.  A U.S. police chief named John Timoney, with a reputation for brutality earned in Miami and Philadelphia, was hired to help the Bahraini government intimidate and brutalize its population.

For three years now, the U.S. government has been tolerating the abuses committed by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, continuing to sell weapons to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and continuing to dock the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.  In fact, the U.S. military has recently announced big and pricey plans to expand its bases in Bahrain and add more ships.

For three years now, the U.S. government has continued to dump some $150 billion (with a ‘B’) each year into the U.S. Navy, a large portion of which goes for the maintenance of the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. Withdrawing and disbanding that fleet would save that gargantuan expense. Retraining and re-employing in peaceful activities all personnel would cost a fraction of $150 billion. Providing aid to nonviolent pro-democracy activists in Bahrain would cost a tiny fraction of a fraction. Establishing a policy in the case of this one country of supporting human rights over brutal dictatorship would be, as they say, priceless. It would create a very useful model for a transformation of U.S. policy in numerous other nations as well.

Accurate and timely information about the horrors underway for the past three years in Bahrain are available online, via Western human rights groups, and via small back-page stories in U.S. newspapers.  There’s little dispute over the general facts.  Yet, there’s little outrage.  There appears to have been no polling done of the U.S. public on the topic of Bahrain whatsoever, so it’s impossible to know what people think.  But my impression is that most people have never heard of the place.

The U.S. government is not shouting about the need to bomb Bahrain to protect its people.  Senators are not insisting on sanctions, sanctions, and more sanctions.  There seems to be no crisis, no need for “intervention,” only the need to end an intervention we aren’t told about.

Which raises a tough question for people who give a damn.  We’re able to reject a war on Iran or Syria when the question is raised on our televisions. But we can’t seem to stop drone strikes nobody tells us about. How do we create a question nobody is asking, about a topic nobody has heard of, and then answer it humanely and wisely?  And how do we overcome the inevitable pretense that the Fifth Fleet serves some useful purpose, and that this purpose justifies a little teargas, a bit of torture, and some murders here and there?

The Fifth Fleet claims to be responsible for these nations: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.  None of these nations have ships in U.S. waters claiming to be responsible for it.  None of these nations’ peoples have indicated majority support for having the Fifth Fleet be responsible for them.  Afghanistan has suffered under U.S. occupation for over a decade, with chaos and tyranny to follow.  Egypt’s thugs are rising anew with steady U.S. support, money, and weaponry. Iran has threatened and attacked no other nation for centuries, has never had a nuclear weapons program, spends less than 1% what the U.S. does on its military, and moves away from democracy with every U.S. threat. Why not leave Iran alone?  Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and others of these nations, including Bahrain, suffer under the rule of U.S.-backed governments. One might reasonably add Israel and the lands it occupies to the list, even if the Navy cannot bring itself to mention them. Yemen and Pakistan suffer under the constant buzzing and missile launching of U.S. drones, which are creating far more enemies than they kill.  In fact, not a single nation falling under the past 19 years of benevolent “responsibility” of the Fifth Fleet has clearly benefitted in any way.

At a third annual conference recently held in Lebanon, Bahraini activists laid out a plan of action. It includes building international connections with people who care and are willing to help. It includes supporting the International Day to End Impunity on November 23rd.  It includes pushing Bahrain to join the ICC, although that may be of little value until the U.S. can be persuaded to do the same and until the United Nations can be democratized.  The plan includes calls for an end to weapons sales and the initiation of sanctions against the Bahraini government (not its people).

Those would certainly be good steps. The first question in my mind remains: do the people in the nation that screams most loudly about “freedom” and does the most to support its repression wherever deemed useful, care?

Zealous French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy visited the Maidan in Kiev on February 9 to deliver another fiery harangue. The next day the article Bernard-Henri Lévy: We’re all Ukrainians (Bernard-Henri Lévy: «Nous sommes tous des Ukrainiens») was published by Le Monde. In his fervor Ukrainian Lévy he called Yulia Timoshenko the Dame of Kiev (meaning Yulia Timoshenko who is behind bars at present). I can hardly imagine what Oleh Tyahnybok, another passionate Maidan supporter, or Victor Yanukovych thought having heard these bold words spoken by someone born to an Algerian Jewish family. But I’m glad to see one more proof of the fact that the French are reasonable people. The article of «new Ukrainian» was followed by many virulent comments like «We’ve been Libyans, now we are Ukrainians. Could we just be French, is it so hard?»

Yes, it is hard in the case of Bernard Henri-Lévy. He’s kind of a human brand. For Europeans he has been a patented stimulant for dozens of years. 65 years old, he has shot a few films and published around twenty books, he became famous as a leader of the «New Philosophers» (Nouveaux Philosophes) movement that reached the peak of popularity in France in the last century, but went out of fashion as any intellectual product which offers nothing but extravagance. He owes his popularity to the fact that Lévy is seen as a man of Messiah in some circles.

Bernard-Henri LeŽvy in Libya, March 2011. Source: http://www.bernard-henri-levy.com

Bernard-Henri Leévy in Libya, March 2011. Source: http://www.bernard-henri-levy.com

…Lévy saw his first hot spot in 1971 as he travelled to East Pakistan to cover the war for separation of would-be Bangladesh from Pakistan. He has seen many flash points afterwards. In 1981 he made a trip to Afghanistan to meet the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet Army. In 1999 he ardently calledfor bombing Yugoslavia.  During the Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia in 2008 he interviewed the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. In 2011 he was a fierce supporter of Libya’s destruction. Back then he started to vigorously call for toppling the «bloody regime of Bashar Assad».

After Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria the «new philosopher» picked up the issue of Ukraine. Visiting the Kiev’s Maidan he assured journalists in an interview, «I haven’t seen neo-Nazis, I haven`t heard anti-Semites.” He had good luck, the activists of Svoboda and Pravy Sector, the organizations calling for racial purity, had clear instructions not to touch this one.

The man without a face, a yesterday’s Libyan and today’s Ukrainian, told the people gathered at Maidan that he supported Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the leader of the party, led by the Dame of Kiev, who had just called for forming a «parallel government». According to him, this new Maidan–formed cabinet had more legitimacy than the puppets on the string dancing to the tune of the Kremlin ever had… He said French President François Hollande was to meet US President Obama in a few hours and perhaps he could convince him to join together in an effort to save this part of Europe still being held hostage… He noted that it was true that Maidan protests were supported by friends in Europe. It was also true that Maidan activists had friends in European diplomatic missions; he said that the friends operating in shade could say their hearts were open to Maidan protesters and they acted in their interests.

Bernard-Henri Lévy speaking to the mob gathered on Kyiv's Maidan on February 9, 2014.

Bernard-Henri Lévy speaking to the mob gathered on Kyiv’s Maidan on February 9, 2014.

Since a long time Bernard Henry-Lévy has been staying in focus of public attention thanks to playing the role of traveling salesman offering hot ideological produce: he ‘sells» international political adventures of global elite to the US and European public. He is a ubiquitous fighter against the dictatorships his bosses tell him to fight. He earns his living this way and it’s hard enough, but Lévy works with enthusiasm. During a television appearance to promote his film dedicated to the intervention into Libya, he turgidly called the plunder going on in the country the Libyan miracle. He has been repeating incantations for the third consecutive year hoping the «miracle» could take place in Syria.

Speaking at the 2012 Foreign Policy Initiative forum, the super vibrant «new philosopher» demanded that the Russian veto of Western draft resolution on Syria submitted to the United Nations Security Council be ignored. While telling Americans about their «moral obligation» to occupy Syria, Lévy told them the world is large enough without the United Nations and there are other forces able to lead Syria to democracy like NATO, for instance. The arguments about «moral obligation» exhausted, he tried to put his best foot forward demonstrating his sciolism. Lévy started to speak in broken English about Sophocles and Antigone – the struggle between god’s laws vs. man’s law. It looked more like kitsch, but Americans became silent carefully listening to incomprehensible words while the prophet got carried away and continued to pontificate.

He can hardly claim to be have anything like dominant influence back home. Pierre Emmanuel Vidal-Naquet (1930-2006), a French specialist in ancient history and a man of great learning, was stunned by intellectual pranks of Lévy. Discussing his book he said it was not about criticizing his jerry-rigged stuff, it’s beyond any criticism anyway. It’s hard to understand how come an educated philosopher with a diploma could treat his readers in such a contemptuous way and palm off all this pseudo-scientific scribble behaving like an ignorant buffoon.

Once Bernard Henry-Lévy admitted he took part in the Libyan political adventure because he was a Jew, he would not have done it if he were not. Today claiming to be a Ukrainian while delivering a speech in Kiev, Lévy shifts to another hot fight against “boss” Vladimir Putin and his “lackey” Victor Yanukovych, as he put it. He gets involved in another political adventure called «the rescue of Ukraine».

The only thing left for the people of Maidan, as Bernard Henry-Lévy called them in a grandiloquent way, is to congratulate themselves – they have a new circus in town. Victoria Nuland which regularly comes from Washington to give away cookies to police and use obscene language and an ignorant aging buffoon on tour to symbolize the European spirit.

The key to what is precisely wrong with corporate journalism is explained in this nutshell by the US commentator Michael Parenti:

‘Bias in favor of the orthodox is frequently mistaken for “objectivity”. Departures from this ideological orthodoxy are themselves dismissed as ideological.’

Examples of bias towards the orthodoxy of Western power are legion every day of the week. On January 30 this year, David Loyn reported for BBC News at Ten from Bagram airbase in Afghanistan as US troops prepared to withdraw from ablood-strewn occupation. Standing beside a large US military plane, he intoned:

‘For all of the lives lost and money spent, it could have been so much better.’

The pro-Nato perspective of that remark masquerading as impartial journalism is stark. By contrast, Patrick Cockburnsummed up the reality:

‘After 12 years, £390bn, and countless dead, we leave poverty, fraud – and the Taliban in Afghanistan…60 per cent of children are malnourished and only 27 per cent of Afghans have access to safe drinking water…Elections are now so fraudulent as to rob the winners of legitimacy.’

The damning conclusion?

‘Faced with these multiple disasters western leaders simply ignore Afghan reality and take refuge in spin that is not far from deliberate lying.’

BBC News has been a major component of this gross deception of the public.

The BBC’s ‘objective’ bias in support of power also imbues the ‘impartial’ stance of alpha-male interviewer Jeremy Paxman, who recently disparaged ’extreme’ WWI conscientious objectors as ‘cranks’.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson is another safe pair of hands. He once described his ‘objective’ role in the run-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq (when he was ITN’s political editor):

‘It was my job to report what those in power were doing or thinking . . . That is all someone in my sort of job can do.’ (Nick Robinson, ‘ “Remember the last time you shouted like that?” I asked the spin-doctor’, The Times, July 16, 2004)

We tweeted a reminder of this remarkable admission by Robinson of his stenographic role as a channeller of state propaganda:

‘The skewed way in which @bbcnickrobinson sees his role as BBC political editor can only lead to bias towards power.’

US journalist Glenn Greenwald responded pithily:

‘That’d make an excellent epitaph on the tombstone of modern establishment journalism’

After we had repeatedly challenged Robinson about his bias towards power (see this recent media alert), he finally responded via email (January 27, 2014):

‘We could have this debate forever I suspect.’

But in reality ‘this debate’ never gets an airing on the BBC. It is simply taboo.

‘It Is Easier To Stay Out Than Get Out’

Pointing out facts such as these is not to ‘attack’ individual journalists; a canard that is all too easily, and lazily, flung at Media Lens. Likewise, Canadian media critic Joe Emersberger has received unfair accusations of a ‘hectoring, self-righteous, fundamentalist and insulting tone’ when challenging journalists. Emersberger’s thoughtful response to such charges is worth repeating:

‘First, there is always a tradeoff between honesty and civility. If you honestly describe the horrific outcomes that the corporate media produces, then offending some journalists, including the ones you least care to offend, is inevitable. Nevertheless, I think describing the outcomes honestly should be the priority even if it puts off some decent journalists.’

He continues:

‘Second, I do not believe that most corporate journalists are below average in their intelligence or in their capacity to empathize with others. Top-down organizations hire and promote people who make certain assumptions about the world. Even the assumption an internal dissident might make (“I can contribute something positive by working within these constraints, and resigning will do no good at all”) is still a very necessary assumption. There are rotten people in all walks of life, but I don’t think such people are necessarily a majority within rotten institutions.’

Emersberger’s astute observations remind us that ‘good people’ working for corporations do not, and cannot, change the fundamentally destructive and psychopathic nature of corporations. (‘The Corporation’, 2003). The danger of becoming assimilated within a skewed value system that rewards obedient behaviour towards corporate priorities is immense. Barry Eisler warns aspiring journalists how the process works:

‘Probably the first compromise will take the form of a rationalization. You’ll be pressured to do something you know isn’t quite right. But you’ll be scared not to do it — if you don’t, you’ll alienate someone powerful, your career will suffer a setback, your ambitious goals will suddenly seem farther away. At this point, your lesser self, driven by fear, greed, status-seeking, and other selfish emotions, will offer up a rationalization, and your greater self will grasp at it eagerly.’

As the journalist’s career develops:

‘Do you find yourself identifying more with the public figures you’re supposed to hold to account than with the readers and viewers you’re supposed to serve?’

By this point journalists are consumed, and thus constrained, by the need to maintain ‘access’ to the centres of power as ‘reliable’ sources of news and comment, as Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky so powerfully explained in their propaganda model of the media (‘Manufacturing Consent’, 1988). The political editors and high-profile correspondents of the major news media fall into this category. Carne Ross, who was once the senior British official responsible for the genocidal sanctions regime imposed on Iraq in the 1990s, described ’how the Foreign Office manipulated a willing media’:

‘We would control access to the foreign secretary as a form of reward to journalists. If they were critical, we would not give them the goodies of trips around the world. We would feed them factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we’d freeze them out.’

Eisler sums up the whole process that engulfs, not just the unwary journalist, but the wary too:

‘when you enter an enormous, shifting system single-mindedly dedicated to beguiling you into surrendering your values and assimilating you, you have to do more than assure yourself you’ll practice good journalism. You have to take the threat seriously, consider how many people have succumbed to it before you, and armor up accordingly. If you don’t, you don’t have a chance. And if you don’t think you need to take the threat seriously, you’re even more vulnerable, and more likely doomed, than most.’

Or, as Mark Twain wrote even more succinctly, ‘It is easier to stay out than get out.’

A Flood Of Propaganda

The recent media coverage of severe floods in the UK demonstrates this assimilation and herd mentality of corporate media professionals about as well as any other topic today. No matter how extreme the weather, and how awful the hardships endured by ordinary people in the floods, the culpability of corporate-driven industrial ‘civilisation’, its inherent ecological unsustainability, and the urgent need for radical changes, must not be addressed in any meaningful way.

A careful analysis by Carbon Brief of 3,064 flood-related newspapers stories, published between the start of December and 10 February, makes this clear. Their stark conclusion is that over 93 per cent of press stories did not mention climate change (never mind the role of humans in disturbing the delicate balance of climate).

Flood stories pie chart

Media Lens does not have the resources to monitor BBC News in its entirety across television, radio and the internet and come up with similarly precise statistics. In fact, perhaps only the BBC has the resources to monitor itself in this way, a form of self-regulation that has patently failed. But in our experience, BBC News coverage has been similarly woeful.

Consider that on February 10, BBC News at Ten was introduced by newsreader Fiona Bruce:

‘Good evening.The flood waters are stretching further across the UK tonight as the River Thames has risen to record levels, with waters creeping into the London suburbs. Several villages are flooded along the Thames Valley, and hundreds of homes have had to be evacuated. The crisis is only likely to worsen as forecasters are warning more rain and strong winds are on their way.

‘We have three reports: from the Thames Valley where police have declared a major incident; thousands of homes are at risk. We report on the political row and blame game between the government and the Environment Agency. And we’ll also be hearing from Southwest England where David Cameron went to see the transport challenges for himself.’

‘We have three reports’, said Bruce, but not one of them said anything about the role of climate change in the unfolding crisis. The notion that the extreme rainfall and flooding have anything to do with human-induced climate change was buried. One online BBC story the previous day had noted that Julia Slingo, the Met Office’s chief scientist, had surmised that ‘all the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change.’ But subsequent BBC coverage of the floods proceeded almost entirely as though she had spoken into a vacuum.

The second of the three News at Ten reports on February 10 had the BBC’s David Shukman talking about the ‘blame game’ and London flood defence spending. But what about climate change? Once again, nothing. This glaring omission was especially galling from the BBC science editor. (Belatedly, Shukman did briefly address the ‘possible influence from us’ on News at Ten two days later, saying with great caution that ‘there are some signs that global warming may be involved.’)

We sent emails to Shukman and several other BBC correspondents and editors (February 11, 2014):

‘Over the past few days and weeks, I have been watching the news reports from BBC correspondents in Datchet, the Somerset Levels, Dawlish and elsewhere. While BBC News does a reasonable job of telling us what is happening in those specific locations, why are you not addressing human-induced climate change in your news programmes? In failing to do so, you are in danger of giving a false impression to the viewers that climate change is irrelevant to the flooding.

‘This careful analysis produced by the respected Carbon Brief website could equally well apply to BBC News:

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2014/02/analysis-how-climate-change-features-in-newspaper-coverage-of-the-uk’s-floods/

‘I’d be grateful to receive a reply from you, please.’

There was a near-total silence to this challenge. However, BBC News deputy director Fran Unsworth did send this identikit ‘response’, suitable for all occasions, the following day:

‘Thank you for your email. I am sure you will understand that it is not feasible for me to enter into a dialogue with individuals.

‘However, as previously explained, if you would like to make a complaint, you can do so via the webform on the BBC’s complaints website. The BBC has gone to some trouble to establish procedures that will enable us to be as responsive as possible to complaints from the public at the same time as exercising due regard to the need to use licence fee payers’ money efficiently. For this reason, we prefer complaints to be processed and logged centrally and staff, such as myself, are contacted for the responses as necessary. Unfortunately, because of the way our systems work, we cannot forward your email and must ask you to resubmit your complaint if you would like a reply.

‘To send a complaint to the BBC please submit it centrally through our complaints website at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints to be guaranteed a reply (or alternatively by post to BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Darlington DL3 0UR or by phone on 03700 100 222). Full details of our complaints service are available on our Complaints website.’

Of course, from years of experience, we had no illusions about getting a proper response from the BBC to our challenge. We replied to the deputy director of BBC News (February 11, 2014):

‘Thank you for such a prompt reply. But when even the former BBC chairman Lord Grade described his experience of complaining to the BBC as “grisly” due to a system he said was “absolutely hopeless”, what hope for the rest of us mere mortals?

‘It is entirely your personal choice whether or not it is “feasible … to enter into a dialogue with individuals”. But if you continue to sidestep serious queries by diverting the public into a “convoluted”, “overly complicated” and “absolutely hopeless” “complaints service”, the credibility of BBC News will nosedive.’

On February 13, BBC Radio 4 Today asked, ‘Is climate change a factor in the recent extreme weather?’, and once againshowed itself embarrassingly out of its depth, with the BBC still stuck in a discredited framework of climate change as a battle between ‘believers’ versus ‘sceptics’. The programme set up a falsely balanced ’debate’ between an authoritative, if rather conservative, climate scientist – Sir Brian Hoskins, one of the country’s most eminent climatologists – and a neoliberal climate denial propagandist with undisclosed sources of funding – Lord Nigel Lawson, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher. Perhaps Today would also host a ‘debate’ between the government’s principal medical officer and a paid lobbyist for the tobacco industry to discuss, ‘Is smoking a factor in cancer and heart disease?’

Some signs of climate sanity started to break through after weeks of journalistic feet being shuffled almost in embarrassment. Unlike BBC News, Channel 4 News appeared to be comfortable addressing, to some extent, the possibility of human-induced climate change being a factor in the extreme weather. Greenpeace campaigner Joss Garman even took part in one live broadcast. This live segment was also notable for the evasiveness of Adam Afriyie, the local Tory MP for Windsor, in declaring he was ‘really not comfortable’ talking about climate change. Kudos to Jon Snow for at least putting the climate change point to him, and then pointing out the ‘massive carbon emission’ overhead as a jet flew past!

Last Friday, the Guardian gave front-page coverage to important remarks by economist Nicholas Stern who noted the ‘immense’ risks of human-induced climate change, adding:

‘If we do not cut emissions, we face even more devastating consequences, as unchecked they could raise global average temperature to 4C or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century [...] The shift to such a world could cause mass migrations of hundreds of millions of people away from the worst-affected areas. That would lead to conflict and war, not peace and prosperity.’

There were also promising signs of a popular backlash against climate denialism with calls for the sacking of Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. Green MP Caroline Lucas rightly noted that:

‘It is absurd to leave someone in charge of a department whose role is to protect the country from a growing climate crisis who himself believes that “people get very emotional about this subject, and I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries”.

‘If we’re to have an integrated and credible national strategy to deal with the flooding crisis, we must start by having someone in charge who is prepared to acknowledge the reality of the growing climate threat that we face.’

Shamefully, Tory jeers drowned out Lucas during Prime Minister’s Questions when she said that any Cabinet member who did not take  ‘an evidence-based approach to the increasing reality of climate change’ should be removed from their post.

At the weekend, Labour leader Ed Miliband criticised David Cameron for ‘backtracking’ on a supposed ‘commitment to the environmental cause’ and said that:

‘climate change threatens national security because of the consequences for destabilisation of entire regions of the world, mass migration of millions of people and conflict over water or food supplies.’

Miliband added:

‘The science is clear. The public know there is a problem. But, because of political division in Westminster, we are sleepwalking into a national security crisis on climate change.’

Those are certainly sensible words. But Labour’s own abysmal record on the environment, and the party’s close ties to corporate and establishment interests, do not bode well for the radical changes that are required.

Finally, if our persistent challenging of BBC News, in particular, appears needlessly relentless, then bear in mind the stakes here. We are already in the midst of the sixth great extinction in the geological record, this time at the hands of humans. And unless drastic measures are taken to curb global warming, we will be engulfed by catastrophic climate change.

SUGGESTED ACTION

The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Please write to:

Fran Unsworth, deputy director of BBC News
Email: [email protected]

Jamie Angus, editor of the Today Programme
Email: [email protected]

Nick Robinson, BBC political editor
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @bbcnickrobinson

Please blind-copy us in on any exchanges or forward them to us later at:
[email protected]

Negotiators for Iran and the P-6 (the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany) are convening today in Vienna to begin talks on a “permanent resolution” to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

In the four weeks since a six-month interim nuclear agreement between Iran and the P-6 came into force, Washington has ratcheted up its pressure on Iran. This has included threatening Iran with military attack, stepping up support for the Islamist proxies of the US in the regime-change war against Syria’s Baathist regime (Iran’s closest governmental ally), and serving notice that i considers the concessions Tehran has made to date no more than a small down payment.

The US has also moved aggressively to uphold the punishing economic sanctions it has imposed on Iran. These sanctions— themselves tantamount to war—have halved Iran’s oil exports, crippled its trade by freezing the country out of the world banking system, and caused the deaths of thousands by denying Iran access to medicines and advanced medical equipment.

As part of the US campaign to ensure—to use the provocative words of Obama administration officials—that “Iran is not open for business,” US Secretary of State John Kerry publicly rebuked France’s most important employer association for organizing a hundred-strong delegation of corporate executives to visit Tehran in search of future sales and investment deals.

And at a joint White House press conference last week with French President Francois Hollande, Obama made a public show of admonishing those exploring business possibilities in Iran. “I can tell you,” declared the US president, “that they do so at their own peril right now. Because we will come down on them like a ton of bricks.”

A chastened Hollande reiterated the support of Washington’s European Union allies for the US-led sanctions regime. “I certainly let” the corporate executives who traveled to Iran “know the sanctions were in force and would remain in force,” said Hollande. “No commercial agreement could be signed.”

The US threats have had a chilling effect. Iran’s deputy oil minister, Abbas Sha’ri, told the Financial Times last week that although the interim agreement has lifted sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical industry, this has had no practical impact because foreign banks and insurance companies are uncertain what transactions are allowed and are terrified of US retribution. “US politicians,” explained Sha’ri, “keep saying sanctions are still in effect, which makes those who wish to work with us hesitate.”

Wendy Sherman, the lead negotiator of the US in the P-6 talks, has boasted that the sanctions “relief” the US granted in the interim agreement in return for Iran rolling back important parts of its nuclear program and freezing others is designed to deny Iran “any significant economic benefits.”

“Iran’s oil exports will still be constrained at levels that are down over 60 percent since 2011,” Sherman told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a February 4 hearing. She emphasized that Iran will continue to lose $4.5 billion per month in foregone oil exports and is allowed to repatriate just $4.2 billion over the life of the agreement. This, she noted, represents only “a modest fraction of Iran’s $100 billion in foreign exchange reserves, the vast majority of which are restricted or inaccessible.” The interim agreement’s six-month time frame, added Sherman, “will make it difficult for any long-term business to take place even in the (handful of) sectors for which we have provided relief.”

In her Senate testimony, Sherman also made clear that the US intends to force Iran to dismantle most of its civilian nuclear program and place the remainder under a highly intrusive inspections regime. Moreover, should Iran cede to these demands, the Obama administration has a long list of others—from eliminating Iran’s ballistic missile capacity to ending support to the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, Palestinian groups and opponents of Bahrain’s monarchical dictatorship.

Specific US demands at the Vienna talks are expected to include closure of the Fordo underground nuclear facility, scrapping of the uncompleted Arak heavy-water plutonium reactor, destruction of fourth-fifths of Iran’s centrifuges or uranium enrichment capacity, including all of its more advanced centrifuges, and access to Iranian military facilities. The US is also adamant that any “permanent” agreement places Iran under special international scrutiny and deny it the rights accorded other signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for twenty to twenty-five years.

These demands and the Obama administration’s bullying and threats underscore that its diplomatic turn is no more than a tactical shift in the means by which US imperialism is seeking to strengthen its hegemony over the Middle East, the world’s most important oil-exporting region.

Moreover, as Washington’s escalation of its regime-change war against Iran’s Syrian ally indicates, Washington could soon execute another abrupt turn, launching direct military action against Syria, Iran or both and plunging the entire regime and potentially the world into war.

Obama is himself on record as saying that there is no more than a “50-50” chance of the US reaching a final nuclear agreement with Iran. Kerry, for his part, declared the very week the interim agreement came into force that were the US to conclude that Iran had violated the deal, or were it to expire without a final agreement in place, “the military option of the United States is ready and prepared to do what it would have to do.”

The US threats and bullying have caused dismay and anger in Iran.

Speaking before a large crowd in Tabriz yesterday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, said he was “not optimistic about the negotiations” that begin today in Vienna. They “will not lead anywhere,” he declared.

Khamenei said the US has used the nuclear issue as “an excuse” to bully and subvert Iran. “Even if one day, against all the odds, it is solved based on the Americans’ expectations, then Americans will seek another issue to follow it. Just pay attention to the spokespersons of the US government, who have also raised the issue of human rights, missiles and arms,” said Khamenei.

The Islamic Republic’s supreme leader coupled these warnings with a reaffirmation of his support for the attempt of President Hassan Rouhani and his government to reach an accommodation with Washington. “What our foreign ministry and officials have started will continue,” said Khamenei, adding that “Iran will not violate what it has promised”—i.e., the interim nuclear agreement.

Khamenei, who plays a Bonapartist role within Iran’s political elite and state apparatus, has repeatedly voiced skepticism about a rapprochement with US imperialism, while urging support for Rouhani’s overtures to Washington and pulling strings behind the scenes in support of his government.

Behind this maneuvering lie explosive social and political contradictions. There are differences within the elite over the extent of the concessions already made to Washington in exchange for token sanctions relief. Above all, there is the fear that the mass unemployment and hyper-inflation caused by the sanctions will provoke a challenge from the working class.

In an attempt to mollify popular apprehension about Iran surrendering to US imperialism, the regime has publicly declared that no issues outside the nuclear dispute will figure in the P-6 talks.

While this may be formally true, all manner of back-channel negotiations are clearly underway. A web site close to Iran’s intelligence apparatus recently reported that Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif “are in constant contact in behind-the-scenes negotiations.”

Iran’s bourgeois-clerical regime knows full well that any resolution of the nuclear issue and eventual staggered removal of the sanctions require a deal with the US, and that such a deal will require that Tehran submit to Washington’s strategic agenda for the Middle East—at the expense of the Iranian working class and the oppressed of the entire region.

To signal Tehran’s readiness to align with US interests, Iranian officials have repeatedly pointed to the military-intelligence assistance Iran gave the US during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and its support for the installation of Hamid Karzai as the country’s puppet president at the December 2001 Bonn Conference.

Iran’s rulers have also invited the US and European oil giants back into the country, announcing that they are eager to grant them privileged access to Iran’s oil and natural gas riches. In a further indication of the Iranian bourgeoisie’s readiness to forge a new partnership with US and European imperialism against the working class, the Rouhani government recently invited an International Monetary Fund delegation to visit the country and make economic policy recommendations.

The UN report on human rights in North Korea released yesterday marks an acceleration of the US-led campaign to destabilise and ultimately remove the Pyongyang regime. The catalogue of horrors in North Korea is designed to stampede public opinion behind any US provocations directed against Pyongyang, but above all to intensify the pressure on North Korea’s ally, China.

The highly political character of the UN commission of inquiry was underlined by the comments of its chair, former Australian judge Michael Kirby, who declared that the repressive methods of the North Korean regime were “strikingly similar” to the crimes of Nazi Germany. He likened North Korean prisons to the Nazi concentration camps in which millions of Jews, gypsies and political prisoners were exterminated.

Kirby has already written to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, declaring that his commission is recommending that “the international criminal court render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for the crimes against humanity.” In his comments yesterday, Kirby declared that the purpose of the commission’s report was to “galvanize action on the part of the international community.”

Kirby’s condemnation of the North Korean regime, picked up and amplified by the US and international media, recalls the demonisation of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic as the “Serbian Hitler” prior to the 1999 NATO bombing campaign that rained death and destruction on that country’s population. Similarly, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was subjected to a campaign of vilification prior to the illegal 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that devastated the country and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

North Korea is a small, impoverished and isolated country, not an imperialist power like Germany, which, under the Nazis, launched wars of aggression that ravaged Europe. The international working class should give absolutely no political support to the Stalinist police-state regime in Pyongyang, which is certainly responsible for crimes against its people. However, the targeting of governments and individuals by the UN and its associated institutions is invariably highly selective, politically coloured and geared to the predatory interests of the imperialist powers, above all the United States.

No one is suggesting that a UN commission of inquiry be established into any of the crimes of US imperialism, such as waging wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq—the crime for which the Nazi leaders were convicted at Nuremberg. Similarly, no UN investigations are under way into the crimes and human rights abuses of US allies such as Israel or Saudi Arabia.

The lengthy report is based largely on the testimony of North Korean refugees and exiles who provided gruesome details of their treatment inside the prison camps. The commission of inquiry was barred from entering North Korea.

While some of the accounts are undoubtedly true, the North Korean exile community, particularly in South Korea, is heavily influenced by anti-communist organisations, right-wing Christian groups and the state apparatus, particularly the South Korean National Intelligence Service. The UN commission of inquiry has now given its official seal to testimony from this layer.

It is no accident that the report itself echoes the propaganda that has emanated from Washington for years. An entire section is devoted to “violations of the right to food,” which accuses the Pyongyang regime of causing widespread starvation and famine, while “large amounts of state resources… have been spent on the luxury goods and the advancement of his [the supreme leader’s] personality cult.”

Those who should be held criminally responsible for starving the North Korean people are above all the successive US administrations that maintained an economic blockade of the country following the 1953 termination of the Korean War, in which the United States killed hundreds of thousands of Korean civilians and soldiers. In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington systematically tightened the sanctions regime on North Korea in a calculated effort to bring about its collapse. Any humanitarian aid came with political strings attached. In the mid-1990s, economic sanctions compounded food shortages caused by a string of natural disasters, leading to widespread famine and deaths.

While the role of the US and its allies in systematically destabilising North Korea goes unmentioned, the UN commission report does single out China for special mention. It specifically criticises China for its return of asylum seekers to North Korea, suggesting that it is in breach of its obligations under international refugee laws.

China is not alone, however, in branding asylum seekers as so-called “economic refugees” and forcibly repatriating them to face danger and persecution. Governments in Kirby’s own country, Australia, are notorious for the “refoulement” of refugees.

The real purpose of the accusation against China is to place it in the dock alongside North Korea, potentially opening up Chinese leaders to charges of complicity in “crimes against humanity.” The UN commission report feeds directly into the Obama administration’s escalating provocations and pressure against China throughout the Indo-Pacific region, as part of its “pivot to Asia.”

The US is targeting North Korea in particular because it is China’s only formal ally and acts as a buffer for China on its northern border. A change of regime in Pyongyang to one sympathetic to Washington would further tighten the noose of US alliances, bases and strategic partnerships around China.

Not surprisingly, the US State Department welcomed the UN report, saying it “clearly and unequivocally documents the brutal reality of North Korea.” An editorial in the Wall Street Journal praised the report for “naming and shaming Pyongyang’s accomplices in Beijing.”

The editorial continued, “The report marks the first major mention of China by name in a UN assessment of North Korea,” and concluded by bluntly declaring, “The report’s findings underscore that Western policy should focus on squeezing the regime with a goal of toppling it.”

The trip to Asia by US Secretary of State John Kerry over the past week signaled that the Obama administration intends to step up the “squeeze” not only on North Korea, but China as well. North Korea topped the agenda in Kerry’s talks with Chinese leaders. He told the media that China had to use “every tool at their disposal, all of the means of persuasion that they have” to compel North Korea to denuclearise.

By extending the accusations against the North Korean regime to “crimes against humanity”, the US is effectively ruling out any compromise or deal with North Korea and setting course for a confrontation with Pyongyang and its ally in Beijing.

WikiLeaks and the Secret TPP Environment Report

February 18th, 2014 by Martin J. Frid

WikiLeaks has done it again – made available important documents that governments and corporate interests have tried to keep secret from the general public. Until this new release, we had almost no idea what was going on within the secret Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations involving an extraordinarily diverse group of 12 large and small as well as rich and poor nations of East and Southeast Asia, Australasia, and North and South America.

The twelve are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam, with the US driving the agenda. South Korea and Taiwan have also indicated that they may want to join. This time, we get a glimpse of the status of the Environment Chapter with important implications for the people and nature of the region. [WikiLeaks Press Release]1

In this cartoon accompanying the release, WikiLeaks shows Mickey Mouse crossing his fingers while promising that “Of course, the environment is in the TPP!” Note the corporate logos symbolizing Texaco and Apple, while the (usually copyrighted) Disney character is singing his merry tune to the crowd of birds and geese (or are they ducks?) representing environmental organization. Crossing fingers can mean wishing for luck but, of course, it also signifies breaking a promise. How appropriate.

We have been told by its proponents that TPP is about reducing and eliminating “trade barriers” and making the world a better place, at least for countries that sign up for this deal. Critics of TPP have responded that it will destroy small-scale agriculture, tighten the corporate grip over intellectual property rights and subvert democratic rule-making. Many people have participated in large-scale protests, including in Japan. It has been difficult, however, to discern the nature of the agreement, since documents have been kept hidden from the general public throughout the protracted negotiations.

In 2010 when the debate about TPP as another Free Trade Agreement started in earnest in Japan, long-term trade critic Yamaura Yasuaki noted: “First of all, we note the negative results that FTA has brought. Examples include environmental destruction and the effect on wildlife as tropical forests have been cut down for palm oil production, and worsening conditions for factory workers as developing countries compete to increase exports at the lowest possible price. From many regions, there are also worrying reports of how staple food production has been sacrificed to export-oriented food production. Moreover, large investments and the expansion of financing have led to deprivation and debt in developing countries. Deregulation and free trade is also the main factor behind the collapse of the industrial order here in Japan, and we consider it directly responsible for deteriorating labour conditions.” [Consumers Union of Japan]2

By early 2014 observers were wondering whether significant progress was indeed being made, and what direction TPP would eventually take. How would this trade pact influence obligations to protect the environment and health? Since this is not being negotiated in a transparent way, would the new trade regime undermine efforts to deal with climate change and loss of biological diversity? Enter WikiLeaks on January 15 with the release of a very important report from the chair of one of the many working groups, dealing with the Environment Chapter. WikiLeaks has previously released other documents, including an earlier draft of the Chapter on Intellectual Property Rights, that the US had proposed, which the other countries rejected. The IP Chapter has been seen as a being so contentious that it was holding up the entire process. Now we learn that there is just as much controversy surrounding the Environment Chapter.

International vs. domestic obligations

TPP has been billed as an ambitious, 21st-century trade agreement. To live up to this, environmental organizations including the World Wildlife Fund and the Sierra Club have insisted that any new trade rules set up a mechanism for dealing with trade in products such as timber or species of animals or plants that are considered rare and near extinction. And many international treaties and conventions have been carefully negotiated elsewhere (usually under United Nations auspices) to make the world a better place by safeguarding the environment. Would TPP overrule these other treaties and conventions? Or might it establish better, more effective environmental protection? The Wikileaks revelations provide the first clear answers to these questions.

One problem is that the United States, the driving force in the negotiations, has not ratified several of the most important recent treaties pertaining to the environment, including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or the UN Climate Change Convention (FCCC). Another problem is that TPP involves both developed and developing economies, with different priorities.

What do the WikiLeaks texts reveal?

The chair of the working group for the Environment Chapter was asked in Brunei in 2013 to come up with a consolidated text, as disagreement among the 12 negotiating countries threatened to prevent them from achieving consensus. Note that there is a lot of disagreement on other issues as well, including intellectual property rights. The report that WikiLeaks has just released was tabled at the TPP meeting in Salt Lake City in November 2013, and as the report notes, “differences remain.” Countries cannot agree “how best to determine the appropriate role for [TPP] in addressing issues that are being dealt with or negotiated in other multilateral fora.” The chair’s report recognizes “that the dispute resolution provisions have been a particularly challenging issue…” It also makes clear that countries have “red lines” which are areas on which they absolutely will not give in. The chair’s report notes that “many of the red lines for some Parties were in direct opposition to the red lines expressed by other Parties.” Hence the impasse.

[Environment Chairs Report]3

[WTO Case Study by the Asser Institute]4

The documents reveal that Japan plays a major role in obstructing the progress of the Environment Chapter. Japan is “concerned” with the language relating to equivalency in the scope of the coverage, that is, the question of how a country may deal with imported products that are identical or almost identical with domestically produced products. For example, imported timber from tropical forests would compete with “similar” wood products produced domestically, unless rules are in place to prevent this. Without international rules, it would be impossible for an importing country to compete with countries that export wood products manufactured by corporations that engage in clear-cutting. Increased trade in such timber would lead to even more destruction of rainforests, and less ability to control the corporations that engage in unsustainable logging practices. Efforts to label genetically modified organisms (GMO) and provide consumers with information about how food has been produced could also be curbed.

On the other hand, we learn that Japan has joined all other nations in opposing a proposal by the United States related to how to address other environmental agreements. This is connected to whether or not the novel dispute settlement mechanism in the TPP should be implemented. The United States, which has refused to ratify many global environmental agreements, seeks to settle trade conflicts in the TPP rather than the WTO. This could make it difficult for countries like Japan to maintain stricter domestic legislation that resulted from having ratified other environmental agreements.

WikiLeaks also reveals disagreement regarding marine capture fisheries and fish products, including a proposal about overfishing and overcapacity. The leaked text has provisions that might help deal with fisheries bycatch. As a free trade agreement, the aim is to make it more difficult for governments to control corporate interests, for example by limiting investments in ever larger fishing ships. But Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia cannot agree to the language on bycatch as it is currently drafted. Shark fins is one such product that some countries are trying to make illegal. Over-fishing of Pacific Bluefin tuna is another issue that is managed by governments through negotiations, in a complex process that should not be undermined by TPP. The language on fisheries subsidies only say that countries “shall make best efforts to refrain” from introducing new subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. If TPP can do no better than hoping that countries make “best efforts”, that is, if it fails to establish guidelines to prevent overfishing that threatens endangered species, it seems futile to hope that international trade in fish and fish products will become more sustainable.

Biological diversity is another area of contention due to the United States failure to ratify the UN Convention on Biological Diversity – due in turn to pressure from its biotech industry, which saw the Convention as a direct threat to the introduction of patented genetically modified organisms around the world. As for conservation, which includes a reference to the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the international agreement among governments to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and precious plants does not threaten their survival, Japan and all other negotiating parties remain opposed to the US proposals in the TPP.

TPP vs. WTO

The TPP does not emerge in a vacuum. 20 years ago, when the World Trade Organization (WTO) was launched some mechanisms established environmental and health protection. There is also a dispute panel system that generally works fairly, although it has been heavily criticized.

In the 21st-century, one would expect trade negotiators to try to do better than striking down an established system, even one with serious flaws, in the absence of effective protections. The TPP, if it is to be at all acceptable, should do better than the WTO on a range of issues from environmental protection to limits on corporate abuses. Critics of WTO note that it is on record as challenging domestic laws that would bar dolphin meat in tuna products, complicate protecting sea turtles from getting killed in shrimpers’ nets, and make it difficult to impose higher pollution control standards on imported gasoline. The general public, of course, if given a say, would strongly urge trade negotiators to improve such a system that came out of complex global negotiations over 20 years ago. Other controversial WTO cases have involved trade in timber logged from tropical forests and attempts to ban imports of meat from cattle treated with growth hormones. There is also one case in which a country was able to keep its domestic ban on asbestos, which an asbestos exporting country had tried to strike down. If the WTO offered at best weak environmental protection, all signs point to the TPP as watering down even these minimal restraints. [Citizen Trade - WTO & Environment]5

Miyagi farmers in 2011 demonstration in Tokyo: Protect Japanese agriculture

Joining a trade agreement like TPP has been called joining a compact. The cost of accepting international standards should be offset by the benefits of gaining access to a globally regulated market with guarantees against protectionism. The key word here is “regulated” as countries have obligations to protect the environment and public health within their borders, according to domestic laws. But countries also generally prefer to sign up to and ratify international environmental agreements, because of recognition that many issues involving pollution and resource depletion – or natural phenomena, like the ozone layer or bird migration – can only be addressed internationally.

Other quandries

From a negotiator’s standpoint, holding out on agreement on an issue in the Environment Chapter may help gain benefits in other chapters. Disagreeing or agreeing with American demands, for example, may only be a tactical step, not necessarily something that reflects a country’s core priorities. Progress, if that is the right term, can also depend on how negotiations develop, for example in the Goods and Services Market Access Chapter. At some late stage in the complex matrix of multilateral negotiations, desperate compromises could be made that ought to be subject to open public debate.

Additionally, the differences between the WTO’s dispute settlement system and the TPP’s Investor-State Dispute (ISD) resolution system suggest how far TPP negotiating countries are from reaching a deal. Briefly, the WTO system allows governments to take other governments to the WTO dispute panel; TPP instead follows the NAFTA tribunal model that allows private corporate investors to directly sue governments. [New York Times - NAFTA's Powerful Secret]6

Australia, for example, was sued by Philip Morris and other tobacco companies when it tried to regulate the warning labels on cigarette packs. Philip Morris and its lawyers took advantage of a bilateral free trade agreement between Hong Kong and Australia that included a clause for ISD resolution. This has been seen as a bellwether for worse to come, should the TPP include similar provisions.

Japan’s general position so far on ISD seems to be supportive of the NAFTA model which prioritizes the legal rights of corporations to make investments over the protective role of states. Japan has inserted such clauses in other bilateral trade agreements. But it is not known at this point what Tokyo really wishes to achieve within the TPP, and how it will respond to local protests, for example the JA’s opposition to corporations engaging in large-scale farming. In 2011, Australia rejected ISD but it remains to be seen whether its position will survive the negotiation process. Interestingly, New Zealand has indicated that Australia would not be able to opt out of this particular Chapter since “an international trade negotiation is a reciprocal process with give and take on all parts. Negotiating parties, including New Zealand, are unlikely to agree that special treatment, such as exclusion from Investor-State Dispute settlement procedures, applies to one party but not to the other parties.”

[Multiple countries rejecting dispute settlement]7

[The US Should Follow South Africa's Lead]8

[Investor-State Dispute Provisions]9

WikiLeaks has done the world a huge service by showing how far apart the 12 countries are with regard to the Environment Chapter, which could strengthen the ability of countries to protect the environment and natural resources. Those who have expressed doubts about the TPP have been proven right. These important documents reveal that there has been no progress at all on trade-related issues that we know are damaging the environment; be it climate change, biological diversity, logging or over-fishing.

Activists and journalists, as well as concerned citizens who are trying to probe deeper into the ways the TPP will shape our future, take note. At the same time, the documents make clear that there is far from consensus among the negotiating parties on the most sensitive issues, and that everything is possible, including collapse of the negotiations.

Martin J. Frid was born in Sweden and works for Consumers Union of Japan. He is the author of the food guide book Nippon no Shoku no Anzen 555 (Kodansha) published in 2009. He has participated in food safety meetings on the local, national, and international levels, including as an expert at FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission meetings, and participated at the TPP conference in Brunei in 2013 as a stakeholder. He currently resides in Saitama, Japan.

Notes

1 WikiLeaks

2 Yamaura, Y. Consumers Union of Japan

3 Roberts, C. WWF Green Groups Leaked Trans-Pacific-Partnership Environment Chapter Unacceptable

4 WikiLeaks Environmental Chair Report

5 Public Citizen Public Citizen – Environment

6 Asser Institute Asser Institute

7 The New York Times: Nafta’s Powerful Little Secret; Obscure Tribunals Settle Disputes, but Go Too Far, Critics Say

8 Eaton, J. Sierra Club Canada

9 Drake, C. AFL-CIO Politcal Action Legislation: The U.S. should follow South Africa’s Lead on Investor Rights – No ISDS in the TPP

10 New Zealand Parliament

The nuclear disaster in Fukushima which followed in the wake of the 3/11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami has given rise to one of the most significant public health crises in modern world history, with profound implications for how nuclear energy is perceived. This paper analyzes the most dire phase of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, showing how the level of risk was assessed by nuclear experts and state-level actors who worked largely out of view of public scrutiny. In addition to examining how the accident progression in the reactors was addressed and conveyed to the general public, the paper addresses how the exclusionary zones were determined by Japanese and foreign governments in Japan.

As the crisis unfolded and efforts to bring the reactors under control were initially proving ineffective, concerns increased that radiation dispersion was unmitigated, and with radiation monitoring by the U.S. military indicating levels significantly beyond TEPCO’s conservative assessments, the United States broke with Japan, recommending an 80km exclusionary zone, and initiating military assisted departures for embassy staff and Department of Defense dependents from Japan.

These actions deviated significantly from Japan’s assessments (which had established a 30km evacuation zone), creating a dynamic where the U.S. provided technical consultation for the nuclear response while striving to maintain a delicate diplomatic balance as they attempted to impose a qualitatively different crisis management response. Because this crisis had significant implications for Japan’s international relations, diplomatic considerations have helped to suppress the complex, often fractious relations between Japan and foreign governments – especially the United States – whose collective efforts eventually turned the tide from managing the nuclear meltdowns to ameliorating their long-term consequences. Based on interviews with political officials in both the Japanese government and foreign embassies in Japan, and nuclear experts and military officers who worked the crisis, the paper analyzes how technical assessments drove decision making and were translated into political policy.

Introduction

This paper analyzes institutional response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, looking at how experts and key decision-making elites in the United States assessed the crisis and set policies as representatives of their organizations. In particular, it examines two related issues: the reactor meltdowns and the dispersion of radioactive fallout, and analyzes the political consequences of the divergent interpretations which developed in the first few days of the crisis around these issues. The framing of these central issues helped construct the general perception of risk that prevailed in this phase of the crisis, and provides a reference point against which to measure subsequent views as the crisis evolved over the longer term. The paper touches on the differences in perception between various foreign governments and examines the political implications of the crisis for international alliances in Japan.

In addition to examining how the accident progression in the reactors was addressed and conveyed to the general public, the paper will discuss how the exclusionary zones and evacuations from areas in close proximity to the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) were determined by Japanese and foreign governments in Japan. As the crisis unfolded and efforts to bring the reactors under control were initially proving ineffective, concerns increased that radiation dispersion was significantly beyond what TEPCO was indicating, and as a result, the United States recommended a 80km exclusionary zone and initiated military-assisted departures for embassy staff and Department of Defense dependents from Japan. These actions deviated significantly from Japan’s assessments (which had established a 30km evacuation zone), creating a dynamicin which the U.S.providedtechnical consultation for the nuclear response whilestriving tomaintain a delicate diplomatic balance as it attempted to impose a qualitatively different crisis management response.

This analysis is based primarily on in-depth interviews with diplomats in foreign embassies, military officials, journalists, nuclear scientists, and scholars, and examines how their collective narratives evolved in interaction with public sentiment as the crisis unfolded. The scope of the analysis is focused on the reflective perceptions of actors as they attempted to make sense of the crisis retrospectively after the 3.11 disasters. Because of diplomatic sensitivities and because some of the experts whose perspectives are represented in this analysis are constrained by organizational obligations that preclude them from revealing their identity, some of the sources remain confidential. In each case in which the identity of a source has been withheld, the information has been verified by independent sources.

“Meltdown” at Fukushima Daiichi

In the fitful hours after Japan experienced its largest ever recorded earthquake on March 11, 2011, the coastline of Tohoku lay in ruins from a tsunami that swept entire towns out to sea, resulting in the death of almost 20,000 people. As the world stood transfixed by the scale of devastation wrought by the tsunami, Japan ramped up its disaster management assets to address this crisis, coordinating its efforts with foreign governments and humanitarian relief organizations. While the international community initially mobilized to offer support for tsunami relief efforts in Tohoku, attention soon turned to the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

In retrospect, the condition of the Daiichi plant in the most dire phase of the crisis seems readily transparent, as an unending litany of bad news has cast the situation in such continuing negative connotations that, like Chernobyl, Fukushima has taken on talismanic connotations to serve as a symbol of nuclear dread. But in the first few days of the crisis, with little meaningful information being provided amidst the disorienting impact of the earthquake and tsunami, and TEPCO offering assurances that were uncritically passed on by the government and a docile press, hope remained that the situation could be brought under control. This wishful thinking was soon made irrational by the explosion of the outer containment structure of reactor #1, which was so powerful (the explosion broke windows 3km from the plant) that both plant workers inside the Daiichi complex and nuclear experts watching from afar initially believed that the reactor core itself had exploded.

With the explosion of the reactor #1 building there was no doubting the significance of this crisis, but calibrating the actual risk and danger that this presented to the general public was a moving target, with competing risk narratives that developed almost immediately after the initial news reports were released that the Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants in Tohoku were in trouble. In the first few days of the nuclear crisis the information made available to the public was confusing, contradictory and frustrating. Despite a massive explosion that destroyed the outer, secondary containment structure of the Daiichi reactor #1 building, soon to be followed on the next day by a similar explosion of the reactor #3 building, TEPCO insisted that the primary reactor core containment was intact and that there were no releases of radiation that posed a threat to public health. Initially, conjecture held sway, with the foreign media challenging the Japanese press corps, who did little more than pass along TEPCO’s announcements, essentially serving as a PR agency for the utility.

By this time, the Japanese and foreign media reportage characterized the situation as dire, even as the TEPCO officials and government were staging press conferences that offered platitudes of assurance while conveying facts that contradicted these statements. For the reporters who covered the crisis, the information provided by the utility was incoherent, contradictory and alarming. At the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) offices in Tokyo, senior editors debated how to characterize the crisis. When the government spokesman Edano Yukio conceded on March 13th that one of the reactors might be in “meltdown,” the WSJ editors noted that the nomenclature of “meltdown” as a label to describe the situation was culturally distinct, with different nuances of meaning between the Japanese term “炉戸溶融 (ろしんようゆう)” and the Western notion of a “meltdown,” which carried more ominous connotations than the straightforward transliteration of the word “meltdown” into Japanese.1

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term “meltdown” as including “[1] the accidental melting of the core of a nuclear reactor; [2] a rapid or disastrous decline or collapse; [3] a breakdown of self control, (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2012), and the Oxford English Dictionary explains that “a meltdown was originally a catastrophic accident in a nuclear reactor, but this literal meaning has been swamped by the figurative sense of ‘a disastrous collapse or breakdown’. The term is now used metaphorically to refer to a chaotic loss of control, which is derived from the accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, where the reactors “ran away” from operator control, releasing significant amounts of radiation as a result of their errors. These accidents are now widely regarded as being the result of institutional failure, and TEPCO’s parsing of the term may have been a way to skirt the issue of responsibility by placing the emphasis only on the melting of nuclear fuel, rather than their own loss of control of the plant.

Although the term “meltdown” is in common usage, and was invoked by the press almost immediately after the crisis began, within the scientific community this term is not recognized as a scientifically meaningful description. The term is not included in the International Atomic Energy Association’s 224 page “Safety Glossary” which enumerates terminology used in nuclear safety and radiation protection, and the term “partial core melt” is used only once to describe a Level 4 “Accident With Significant Off-site Risk,” as indicated by the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), which charts the levels of magnitude of nuclear “events”. The scale is an indication of the inherent industry bias of technical description, denuded of adjectives or critical phraseology that might be construed as danger. The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) refers to this as “a simple scale, designed for promptly communicating to the public in consistent terms the safety significance of events at nuclear facilities” (my emphasis).

On May 24, 2011 on the eve of a visit by an IAEA delegation, TEPCO officials announced that their data indicated that three of the reactors had in fact experienced meltdowns within hours of the loss of power following the tsunami. At this press conference, the issue of how this was previously characterized was revisited, with TEPCO now claiming that the meltdowns could only then be confirmed, and that they had previously suggested this possibility in reactor #1 on May 14, 2011. The media coverage of this revelation challenged TEPCO’s motives for revealing this information months after the fact, suggesting that this was in deference to international pressure, as a face-saving gesture directed toward the visiting delegation of IAEA ministers. Alternate media and independent reporters had been asserting the possibility of multiple meltdowns from the beginning, and while this possibility was presented by mainstream press as well, these stories were tempered by the acknowledgement that with no ability to see within the reactors, these scenarios were speculative at best.

For nuclear experts, the debate over whether or not meltdowns had occurred was largely a political controversy being played out in the echo chamber of the mass media, as it was taken as a given that significant meltdowns had started early in the trajectory of the reactor accident progression (TEPCO would late specify that within 8 hours after the loss of power, meltdowns had occurred). In the scientific community it has long been recognized that at high temperature the zirconium alloy cladding that holds the fuel rods melts, drawing off oxygen from the surrounding water and liberating hydrogen, a highly volatile gas. Despite the venting of radioactive gases in the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident, the most ominous threat that the accident posed was a hydrogen explosion that could have blown the reactor out, leading to a catastrophic release that would have been much more severe than what actually transpired. Through intense scrutiny it was determined that the infamous hydrogen bubble that built up inside the reactor #2 building at TMI could not explode due to a lack of oxygen, and remedial efforts were able to reduce the size of the bubble until it was no longer a threat. But in Fukushima, the powerful explosions that destroyed the buildings housing the Daiichi reactors could only have happened if a core melt was significant enough to release high levels of hydrogen gas, and the subsequent explosions were proof positive that catastrophic meltdowns had already occurred. As a result, while the media debated the relative chances of a meltdown and quibbled over the nomenclature, the nuclear experts who worked the crisis knew early on unambiguously that the Daiichi plant was in deep trouble, and mobilized their resources accordingly.

As the Daiichi plant’s condition rapidly deteriorated, it became clearly evident that the situation was beyond the control of the TEPCO administrators, which undermined their authority, lending credence to the widespread perception that they were not forthcoming with information. Government officials and TEPCO spokesmen claimed that they had been withholding this information in order to prevent panic in the early days of the crisis, but this revelation was taken as evidence that officials were deceiving the public and that TEPCO was more concerned about protecting its investments than it was in ensuring public safety.

For the foreign press, the devastation of the tsunami was the initial focus of coverage, diverting attention from the nuclear crisis, which in the first few days remained opaque, while the implications of the tsunami were clearly evident. Although major media conglomerates such as Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press had the resources to divide coverage between the two conjoined disasters, other major media organizations such as the New York Times, The Times of London, the BBC and CNN have scarce resources on the ground in Japan (most of the Asia bureaus for major media outlets have moved from Japan to China in the last decade), and the senior editors for these publications were mobilized to the coastland of Tohoku to cover the tsunami.

The media followed a pattern that played out in the foreign embassies in Japan as well, in which nuclear experts in their home countries provided consultation for assessing the situation. But while these authorities may have had considerable experience dealing with nuclear issues, they had virtually no culturally contextualized knowledge of Japan, and in the short-term had no access to more nuanced local information of what was transpiring at the Daiichi plant. Organizational elites, both in the diplomatic corps and in the foreign media, relied primarily on the Japanese mainstream media for more specific information, tempering this with the widely divergent, often random reports that were filtering out through social media, which, being less constrained by organizational vetting and mainstream considerations, tended to be more alarmist, amplifying the analysis to interpretations that often were dismissed because they were at the time unwarranted by the facts (which, after all, were not available at that time). In retrospect, many of these reports have been vindicated by information that has gradually become available as a series of revelations by disgruntled former industry officials, retired government authorities and scholars has given credence to views that had previously been seen as overwrought.

Radiation Plume Politics

At Three Mile Island, it was not until three years after the accident that plant managers were able to look into the reactors and determine that the core of reactor #2 had melted down. At Fukushima, with a station blackout and the plant in disarray as staff frantically tried to recover power, the situation in the first days of the crisis remained fluid, with little meaningful information to convey. If the actual situation was unclear to workers inside the plant, it was entirely opaque to those outside, including the diplomatic corps at embassies in Japan and nuclear authorities from abroad, who were pressing the Japanese government to provide specific information. In addition to concerns about what was developing inside the reactors, a central issue of risk assessment – and trust – was related to the spread of radiation disseminating from the plant. After a frustrating delay in venting reactor #1 that pitted Prime Minister Kan Naoto against a recalcitrant TEPCO management that was internally divided and uncooperative, evacuations from nearby the plant commenced with little government guidance and no information made available that could help guide prefectural authorities in their actions.

The Japanese government had established a computer modeling “System for Prediction of Environment Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI)” in 1980, following the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the system remained functional throughout the nuclear crisis. SPEEDI was designed to provide detailed computer modeling projections of how weather patterns dispersed radioactive fallout into the environment.

As fears about the reactors heightened and TEPCO prepared to vent reactor #1, on March 12 the government evacuated four towns located nearby the reactors, increasing the evacuation zone from 2km, as decided in the evening of the previous day, to 10km (6.2 miles, cf. Table 2). Two of the towns – Futaba and Okuma – were assisted in the evacuation, with the government providing buses to transport citizens. Despite this initial support, refugees from Namie and Tomoika, who were in evacuation areas initially only 8km (4.4 miles) from the plant, were thereafter left to fend for themselves with neither direction nor support offered by the Japanese government, and fled northwest, right into the path of the radioactive plume, just where SPEEDI, had it been implemented, would have predicted the fallout would go. This scandal firmly linked the Japanese government to TEPCO as corrupt and incompetent on fundamental issues of radiation assessment. Whereas the hapless handling of the reactors had been attributed to a lack of regulatory oversight that prefigured TEPCO’s chaotic response to the disaster, the SPEEDI scandal was seen as being the result of incompetence at the highest levels of government, betraying a lack of concern for the people most at risk from the nuclear disaster.

Despite having elaborate evacuation plans that previously had been coordinated with TEPCO, Baba Tomatsu, the mayor of Namie, initially learned of the nuclear disaster by watching it on TV and was bitterly resentful of the lack of consideration that put his village at risk:

There was no coordination with the Japanese Government. Nothing. They didn’t tell us where to evacuate. Nothing. Namie machi did everything by ourselves. And, disappointingly, because we didn’t hear anything from the government – no advisories – we used anything that we had—school buses and such—to move people out of the area. People’s cars were destroyed by the tsunami so we placed those people in those buses. At that time, the people who had ways to evacuate had already evacuated, to Miyagi, or Yamagata prefecture. So the 21,000 population were all scattered like a bee’s hive.2

Because we had no information we were unwittingly evacuating to an area where the radiation level was high so I’m very worried about the people’s health. I feel pain in my heart but also rage over the poor actions of the government… 
It’s not nice language but I still think it was an act of murder. What were they thinking when it came to the people’s dignity and lives? I doubt that they even thought about our existence.3

The New York Times helped break this story in the foreign media in a critical analysis of how officials withheld information and the subsequent influence this had on Japanese public opinion toward the government. Onishi Nori, one of the reporters who worked the story, emphasized the qualitative shift in orientation that this brought to Japanese politics:

In the first couple of months after 3.11, the public inclination was to still trust what the government was saying and what the media was describing, but that started to breakdown by May, and that was reflected in public opinion polls at that time.

The recognition of the meltdown was big. When the Japanese government finally acknowledged that there was a meltdown in mid-May, the Japanese people said, “what does this mean?” The foreign media had written about the meltdown in the first week of the disaster, and the Japanese government had criticized the foreign media for being alarmist, and here they were a few months later saying ‘oh yeah, I guess there were meltdowns.’

That was a key moment, as was the SPEEDI issue. That breakdown in trust toward the government, toward the media – you never really saw that before last year. For the first time, I had many people say to me ‘thank God for the foreign media, they are the only ones telling the truth’.4

Elements of this story had already been covered in the Japanese media, dating to April, 2011, when Kosako Toshiso, a former professor at the University of Tokyo and member of the government’s impromptu advisory group on radiation, resigned in protest over the government’s mishandling of SPEEDI, linking it to subsequent arbitrary loosening of radiation danger threshold standards. Kosako’s resignation was the first significant crack in the public façade being maintained by the government, and this story increased in significance as it was associated with government deception and collusion. By April, an Asahi Shimbun public opinion poll indicated that only 21% supported the Kan administration with 60% opposed, and in response to the question “Do you think the government’s dissemination of information about the accident in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was appropriate?” only 16% answered in the affirmative, with 73% saying that it was inappropriate.

With the SPEEDI data, it appears that social media was instrumental in making the system known outside a small circle of bureaucrats who were reluctant to act on the information, and who themselves were not initially aware of the database because this information was compartmentalized in other offices and no one was discussing it. With no one asking the right questions to the right people, the information lay dormant. The SPEEDI data was not initially conveyed to local officials in Fukushima, but was known to some Japanese government officials in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the government office under which SPEEDI is administered. Although the staff who were compiling the information for the SPEEDI computer modeling had data in-hand by the first day of the accident, they withheld the predictions, claiming a lack of certainty about its accuracy due to incomplete data (the model depended in part on data from the nuclear plant, but with the power supply down, this was not available to factor into the overall assessment).

Suzuki Kan, the Vice Minister of MEXT, the agency in charge of radiation assessment, did not know about SPEEDI and learned of it only when Hayano Ryugo, a particle physicist and Chairman of the Department of Physics at the University of Tokyo, approached him to inquire how the SPEEDI data was being utilized and to request access to the data so that he could run an analysis. Minister Suzuki thereafter made internal inquiries and confirmed on March 19th that the system was operative but not being properly utilized, but in the interim, Professor Hayano began Tweeting about SPEEDI, drawing attention to the issue.5

Yahoo Japan had recommended Hayano on their top-page as a person of note shortly after the nuclear crisis began, and thereafter, his following grew exponentially to reach a broader public audience. These Twitter posts also came to the attention of Shikata Noriyuki, who at the time of the nuclear accident was Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs and Director of Global Communications at the Prime Minister’s Office. Secretary Shikata informed Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Fukuyama Tetsuro on March 15 and information about SPEEDI was then conveyed to the U.S. Embassy and military through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. SPEEDI was not revealed officially to the general public until March 23, but by then, information about this system was spreading through social networks and into the mainstream media.

This information flow became an important feedback loop, providing information to MEXT officials about their own system. Shikata, who after being approached had started following Hayano’s tweets, and began consulting with him about technical matters to assess the accuracy of the scientific data they were attempting to convey at governmental press conferences. Shikata then asked Hayano to help him inform the foreign media because of his bilingual language proficiency and his ability to communicate about technical issues clearly and efficiently.6

It is by now a common belief that the confusion that reigned in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami and nuclear crisis was due to a lack of information. While this may have been the case for the general public who lacked access to meaningful information and were relying on media reports, TEPCO and the Japanese government had multiple sources of information that could have helped contextualize and explain the efforts they were taking to address the situation. Rather, TEPCO was initially reluctant to acknowledge the seriousness of the crisis and instead of explaining the situation, simply provided raw data without an interpretative frame that would have allowed non-specialists to make sense of the information and assess their claims. William Sposato, the Deputy Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal in Tokyo characterized the reaction of many of the foreign journalists who were working the crisis at this time:

I don’t know of an instance where they lied deliberately, but their news conferences went on forever, they were filled with useless information, and they were unwilling to distill that information. They knew more about this than anyone else, and they could have taken the body of information they had and said ‘this is what we think is the most significant information that you need to know – this is the line we think you should look at’”. Unbelievable amounts of data, and the data would keep shifting: ‘today we have becquerels per square meter 100 yards from the plant. Tomorrow, we have millisieverts per hour a mile away from the plant.’ Is it getting better or is it getting worse? Their data gathering was just all over the map.7

Ironically, while TEPCO was “drowning journalists with data” (as Christoph Neidhart, the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung Tokyo bureau chief who attended their daily press conferences put it),8 Hayano’s Twitter posts reached a large and diverse audience, and was all the more persuasive because of its brevity. Where it not for Hayano, cogently encapsulating complex technical information into 100 character tweets and talking with the appropriate officials, the information may not have come out.

The SPEEDI contretemps, as with the divergent interpretations about the condition of the reactors previously discussed, indicates the complexity of how information develops and is utilized in complex, “normal accidents”. The multiple government and embassy offices, rather than being integrated under a common chain of command as part of an integrated crisis management system, compartmentalized information in silos, not only ineffectively communicating outside their respective bureaucracies, but often not discussing important facts even among themselves. The press helped link these together, as it pushed and prodded for information, compelling officials to explain their actions and account for their policies.

While the Japanese press attempted to burrow down into the details of the organizational chaos, the foreign press continued to amplify the crisis, framing it in terms that would appeal to foreign viewers who were distracted from the tsunami because of the crisis and disinterested in the internecine politics of obscure bureaucratic officials. Taken together, these combined into a compelling narrative arch, as the Japan-based journalists revealed bureaucratic ineptitude that provided a grounding in reality to the more critical views that were gaining traction. Lacking contextual perspective, and with scarce information available in any case, the foreign press played up fears of apocalyptic doom. Lacking information about what was really transpiring at the Daiichi plant and living through the uncertainty and chaos in those early days after the earthquake, the local press looked for explanation in the actions of specific organizational elites, and found little of worth. These views aligned in the assessment of foreign authorities, who, doubting the information they were receiving, began to distrust the leaders who were providing it.

The controversy over the SPEEDI data was later compounded by the disclosure that on March 14 this data, which had been withheld from local Japanese officials and those in the path of the fallout (the Japanese public did not find out until 9 days later), had been released in hourly reports to the U.S. embassy and military who were working on relief efforts in the area. For many, this hardened views that TEPCO and the Japanese government were more concerned about vested interests and state-level political concerns than they were about the well-being of their most vulnerable citizens. It also raised questions about what was really transpiring behind the scenes while these entities ineptly attempted to manage the story and project an increasingly implausible facade of control.

Negotiating Risk: International Divergence in Radiation Assessment

In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, an unprecedented relief effort comprised of domestic and international NGOs, unaffiliated citizen volunteers, and government associated organizations from 116 countries descended on Japan to provide disaster relief in the Tohoku region. This impressively international outpouring of support demonstrated genuine humanitarian concern, and it cast the most unambiguously positive light on the 3.11 crises. While initially these tsunami relief efforts stood as a salutary example of international cooperation, as the nuclear crisis unfolded and eclipsed attention on the aftermath of the tsunami, this narrative turned toward one of confusion, suspicion and deceit, with TEPCO – and, by association, the Japanese government – being cast in a negative light, not only by Japanese citizens, who were increasingly feeling misled by government authorities, but by foreign governments, who were frustrated by the lack of information being provided by TEPCO and Japanese government officials about what was actually transpiring at Fukushima Daiichi.

Because of its long-standing strategic political alliance with Japan, buttressed by the largest array of military bases outside the continental U.S. and the only forward-deployed nuclear aircraft carrier group in the U.S. military, the United States was the most significant foreign responder in tsunami relief efforts and provided the most meaningful consultation and logistical support in the nuclear crisis. The U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), working in coordination with USAID and other federal agencies, was intimately involved in relief efforts in Tohoku from the beginning, and working closely with the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF), were significant first-responders to coastal villages that had been swamped by the tsunami. These joint operations in total involved 140 U.S. aircraft, 19,703 personnel and over 20 American naval ships, which represented a significant portion of the U.S. 7th fleet Naval Forces. U.S. troops participating in Operation Tomodachi (Friendship) worked in close coordination with the Japanese Ministry of Defense and SDF, a rare moment in the often fractious relations the U.S. military has experienced in Japan. Japanese public sentiment toward the U.S. soared as a result, with 84% of Japanese polled in the Cabinet Office’s annual report saying they had friendly feelings toward the United States, the highest tally by far since the survey began in 1978. These findings were replicated in a poll commissioned on June 9 by Japan’s Foreign Ministry (84% approval), and in a Pew Global Attitudes poll (85% approval) taken on June 1, 2011 which found similar results.

The U.S. government and military support for tsunami relief efforts through Operation Tomodachi have garnered considerable attention, but less is known about the role the U.S. military played in helping to respond to the Fukushima nuclear crisis. With the Sendai airport rendered inoperable by the tsunami, the U.S. Navy’s Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier group, parked off the coast of Fukushima, served as a fueling platform and staging area for tsunami relief, at which time military personnel were exposed to radiation emanating from the reactors. As the wind was blowing out to sea for the first couple of days after the onset of the crisis, aside from local communities near the Daiichi facility, servicemen on this nuclear powered aircraft carrier were among the first to be exposed to the radiation plume from the explosion of the Reactor 1 building on March 12. The exposure levels both on the ship and on the shoes of US servicemen who had temporarily landed on a Japanese command ship at 50 nautical miles from the plant were unexpectedly high, provoking the carrier group to back off from 60 to 180 nautical miles from the plant.

In transcribed telephone conversations between U.S. based federal government officials, nuclear authorities, U.S. embassy officials in Tokyo and military staff in the Pacific Command (PACOM) made available through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the U.S. government response to the nuclear crisis can be seen in real-time as it played out over the course of the first month of the crisis:

ADMIRAL DONALD: (…) Earlier this evening, as the USS Ronald Reagan was operating off the coast of Japan, we – the ship just arrived. We had given the ship some guidance as far as positioning was concerned to stay clear of the area of the potential plume, basically told her to stay 50 miles outside of the radius of the — 100 miles — excuse me — 50 miles radius outside of the plant and then 100 miles along the plume with a vector of 45 degrees. The ship was adhering to that requirement and detected some activity about two and a half times above normal airborne activity using on-board sensors on the aircraft carriers. So that indicated that they had found the plume and it was probably more significant than what we had originally thought. The second thing that has happened is we have had some helicopters conducting operations from the aircraft carrier and one of the helicopters came back from having stopped on board the Japanese command ship in the area, and people who had been on — were on the helicopter who had walked on the deck of the ship, were monitored and had elevated counts on their feet, 2500 counts per minute. But I wanted to get you guys on the line and my expert on the line so we can get the data and then the proper people notified.

MR. PONEMAN: Okay, I have a couple of questions. Number one, in terms of the level of radiation that you are picking up, what’s the delta between that and any information we have from the Japanese or other sources of what the level of radiation would be, given the venting and so forth that we know has occurred?

MR. MUELLER: So — this is Mueller — the sample that was taken and then what we detected, we were 100 nautical miles away and it’s — in our terms it’s — compared to just normal background it’s about 30 times what you would detect just on a normal air sample out at sea. And so we thought — we thought based on what we had heard on the reactors that we wouldn’t detect that level even at 25 miles. So it’s much greater than what we had thought. We didn’t think we would detect anything at 100 miles.

MR.. PONEMAN: You didn’t think you’d detect anything at 100 miles. Okay, and then in terms of the regulations and so forth of people operating in these kinds of areas, I forget some you know, acronym for it, PAG (Protective Action Guidelines) or something, how do the levels detected compare with what is permissible?

MR. MUELLER: If it were a member of the general public, it would take — well, it would take about 10 hours to reach a limit, a PAG limit.

MUELLER: Right. For a member of the public.

PONEMAN: Right. You mean, at the level you detected?

MR. MUELLER: Yes sir. But 10 hours, it’s a thyroid dose issue.

MR. PONEMAN: Okay, but the net of all this is that the amount of release that is detected by these two episodes whatever you would call them, is significantly higher than anything you would have expected what you have been reading from all sources?

MR. MUELLER: Yes sir. The number specific number we detected was 2.5 the times 10 to the 88 minus nine microcuries per milliliter, airborne, and that’s particulate airborne. It is — we did not take radioiodide samples so I don’t know that value, but this is particulate airborne…

MR. PONEMAN: Tell me again exactly how you picked up these two forms of samples.

MR. MUELLER: We have automatic detectors in the plant that picked up — picked up the airborne, and all of our continuous monitors alarmed at the same level, at this value. And then we took portable air samples on the flight desk and got the same value.

ADMIRAL DONALD: These are normally running continuous detectors, continuous monitors that run in the engine room all the time, monitoring our equipment.

MR. PONEMAN: These are detectors on the Reagan?

ADMIRAL DONALD: On the Ronald Reagan, correct.

MR. MUELLER: Yes sir.

MR. PONEMAN: On the Ronald Reagan. They are there because you have got equipment there that you know, it could emit stuff and while you were there, you picked up stuff that was ambient which indicated that you actually were in the plume?

MR. MUELLER: That’s correct.

MR. PONEMAN: And this was — this was 30 times higher than what you would have expected?

MR. MUELLER: Yes sir.9

With the Daiichi plant still a black box, and only spotty data to indicate the radiation dispersion, the U.S. quickly set up an independent parallel process of acquiring data, utilizing their vast array of military and governmental resources. These included the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Monitoring System (AMS), on the ground radiation measurement surveys, fixed station radiation monitors, the RQ-4 Global Hawk military drone and classified military surveillance (the Lockheed U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and the P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft) and the nuclear aircraft carriers to help with the assessment. In order to make sense of this data, the U.S. relied on Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) administrators, who coordinated with the Department of Energy and the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, analysis by Naval Reactors’ experts at their research labs (comprised of approximately 6,000 staff), and an ad hoc collection of loosely affiliated former government specialists, retired military officers (nuclear engineers), scholars and former NRC staff. In order to consolidate these resources into an integrated command structure, the U.S. embassy in Tokyo conceived a “Bilateral Assistance Coordination Cell” (BACC), which met daily and included all USG agencies.

Through diplomatic channels, with U.S. Ambassador Roos representing the State Department, the U.S. attempted to coordinate its response with the Japanese government. This had started soon after the onset of the crisis, focusing on tsunami relief efforts as the Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) and the United States Forces Japan (USFJ) developed joint operations using both U.S. and Japanese military bases as staging grounds for mounting their operations. With a keen eye on the diplomatic implications of the crisis, state-level actors took pains to highlight mutual cooperation, despite frustrations that developed backstage as the power outage at the Daiichi plant developed into a full-blown crisis. Until the U.S. nuclear authorities who were deployed to Japan were able to establish a working relation with TEPCO, they relied on information filtered through the Japanese government, which in the first few days was scarcely available: the only real-time information the U.S. had access to was a data stream on the MEXT website, and second-hand reports from NISA and other Japanese government agencies. At this time even the Japanese government did not know how bad the situation was, since TEPCO was downplaying the magnitude of the crisis even while the situation at the Daiichi plant continued to deteriorate.

Prime Minister Kan would eventually lose his job to the crisis, as confidence in the government plummeted, but in the early days of the crisis, he was notable for challenging the TEPCO officials, chastening them to be more forthcoming with information, and demanding action in the face of their intransigence. In June 2011 it was revealed that even though he had ordered them to dump seawater into the reactors, the TEPCO officials defied this order, realizing that the saltwater would render the reactors unusable, and the plant a total loss.The reactors were brought under tenuous control only when Yoshida Masao, the plant manager, ignored orders from his superiors and inundated the reactors.

The conflict between the Kan administration and the TEPCO officials reached an apex on March 15th, when TEPCO’s president Shimizu Masataka announced that TEPCO intended to withdraw from the plant due to the increasing radiation exposure to its employees. Kan’s insistence that TEPCO maintain operational control at the plant site may have prevented a much larger catastrophe. When TEPCO asked permission to withdraw from the plant, they may have been indicating that they were merely relocating to an operational center outside the plant, with a skeleton staff of workers to remain at the Daiichi Facility to monitor equipment and implement actions that could only be done on-site.10But to Kan, who had already endured TEPCO’s inordinate delay in venting reactor #1 and defiance in putting saltwater on the reactors, this alleged strategic disencampment to a facility off-site was the culmination of conflict that had started within hours of the plant blackout, and was taken as an abandonment of responsibility.

The question of whether TEPCO intended to entirely abandon the plant or only partly withdraw remains unresolved. The March 2012 “Rebuild Japan” independent report on the Fukushima crisis by a group of former government officials discusses this issue at length, and while they note that various parties indicated that they thought TEPCO was signaling total withdrawal, TEPCO officials contest this claim and after careful consideration, the report – and other subsequent governmental and independent reports -leave this matter unresolved. In retrospect, the true intentions of TEPCO remains obscure, but this dispute was important because it demonstrated that PM Kan did not trust TEPCO to fulfill their duties, and it established a dynamic of accusation and distrust between the principal players and organizations at the center of the crisis.

In subsequent reports both governmental and independent panels accused Kan of micro-managing the crisis, by intruding on the plant administrators charged with handling the situation, blurring the chain of command and unduly complicating decision-making at the worst possible time.Had the situation been under even tenuous control, such accusations might seem warranted, but there was scant indication that TEPCO had the situation in hand, and even with their active involvement, the situation continued to deteriorate and appeared to be sliding toward a catastrophic disaster that threatened the entire country.

Irrespective of the validity of these competing claims, both the Kan administration and the U.S. government experts who were monitoring the situation were convinced that TEPCO was intending to withdraw from the site, and exerted considerable pressure on TEPCO to remain, with Kan essentially requiring them to maintain sufficient staff to manage the operation. The implications for this were dire for the TEPCO staff, as the magnitude of the nuclear accident was growing more ominous, with no resolution in sight, and the remaining staff faced the prospect of lethal doses should they remain. Given the stakes involved, and as a way to provide legal cover for the implications of consigning plant workers to die on the job, the Japanese government simply raised the official threshold standards – the maximum legally allowable dose – for radiation workers at the plant. By utilizing deeply rooted sentimental notions of obligation, the “Fukushima Fifty” (actually there were seventy five workers who remained; the “Fukushima Fifty” was a snappy media created alliteration that helped sell the story) who remained were enlisted in service of a heroic trope that put a human face on TEPCO and allowed the Japanese government to claim the moral high ground (at least over TEPCO), while providing a means of addressing the crisis at the most crucial moment.

It was into this fracas that the U.S. and the other principle players involved in the crisis entered as they futilely attempted to glean information upon which they could make an assessment that would productively orient their actions. Foreign entities who were frantically trying to gather information saw a demoralizing situation: a utility who had lost control of the plant, who seemingly were incapable of taking effective remedial action and who were fighting with the Japanese government while the plant reactors fell like dominos, with no end in sight.

On the morning of March 16, a surveillance helicopter flying over the Daiichi reactors measured 4 sieverts per hour, a reading that alarmed the U.S. nuclear experts, giving further evidence that the spent fuel pool 4 was compromised and the pool was dry. A U.S. government nuclear expert who was directly involved in the U.S. government’s radiation assessment of this situation said:

At 100 meters away it (the helicopter) was reading 4 sieverts per hour. That is an astronomical number and it told me, what that number means to me, a trained person, is there is no water on the reactor cores and they are just melting down, there is nothing containing the release of radioactivity. It is an unmitigated, unshielded number. (Confidential communication, September 17, 2012).11

Within hours of this, the U.S. authorities became convinced that TEPCO was intending to leave the plant.

The prospect of TEPCO withdrawing from the plant focused everyone’s attention, as this would have truly been the nightmare scenario that alarmist pundits had been suggesting. Had TEPCO withdrawn operational staff from the Daiichi facility, all the reactors and spent fuel pools would have eventually melted down, releasing such severe levels of radiation that eventually the staff at the Daini facility (located 11.5 kilometers south of the Daiichi NPP) would also be forced to withdraw, with the result being that all the reactors and spent fuel pools at this plant would also have melted down. Given the fact that the spent fuel pools contain approximately 5 – 6 times more radionuclides than a working reactor, this would have been orders of magnitude more severe than the Chernobyl accident. It was with this in mind that the Japanese government discussed evacuating Tokyo. Alarmed at this possibility, in the U.S. embassy planning began to put thousands of Americans on the decks of the aircraft carriers to get them out immediately.

For the U.S. government, this would have jeopardized their ability to maintain the military base structure in Japan in the long term, an unthinkable prospect that would have compelled them in the short term to fully engage in the task of sorting the reactor crisis (despite the prospect of incurring lethal doses in the process), in coordination with the Japanese Ministry of Defense. Despite PM Kan’s rage at TEPCO’s defiance, from the vantage point of American radiation experts who were looking at the dramatically rising radiation levels, neither TEPCO nor the Japanese government fully appreciated the implications of TEPCO’s announced withdrawal. Although this has not yet been revealed to the public due to diplomatic sensitivities, backstage a series of contentious communications passed in short order between the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), the U.S. State Department (via U.S. Ambassador Roos), the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister’s office and TEPCO about the implications of TEPCO leaving the plant. In response to diplomatic pressure from the U.S., along with the recognition of what this might forebode for the SDF and the American military forces in Japan (and therefore the US-Japan Alliance), Kan flatly demanded that TEPCO officials remain at the plant.

This was an extremely sensitive diplomatic moment in the history of US-Japan relations. As an autonomous state, Japan could not be compelled to heed the U.S. government’s desires, even if they were scientifically grounded and pragmatically necessary. From the beginning of the crisis, the NRC, as a U.S. government federal agency whose scientific expertise is always modulated against its political influence, took pains to remain neutral and only offer advice when called upon, serving as a resource to the Japanese government. The NRC staff who arrived in Japan were directed to work through the appropriate diplomatic channels and deal cautiously with their counterparts in the Japanese nuclear industry. On March 14th, just a day before the U.S. learned TEPCO was planning on leaving the Daiichi plant, the NRC sent a missive to its staff and other U.S. nuclear experts in Japan that defined the parameters within which U.S. agencies were expected to operate in Japan:

1) This remains a Japanese response and NRC’s role will be to support the Japanese Emergency Responders in a manner that is appropriate.

2) NRC needs to be the primary contact with NISA and JNES because of our long-standing relationship

3) Public statements we make going forward will have enormous credibility, extreme caution will be necessary

We have now been asked by Japan to provide assistance to their Regulatory authorities and other emergency responders. This was undoubtedly an extremely difficult decision for the Japanese who had up to this point been among the top nuclear leaders in technical expertise, especially in seismic and tsunami matters.

The Japanese are now in their fourth day of responding to these emergencies and will remain the best informed about the current technical, legal, cultural, and regulatory issues. NRC can be of enormous assistance taking into consideration that we can help augment their already burdened staff. We must be sensitive to their needs and not interfere with their decision-making.

Recognizing that if we interfere, rather than assist, the consequences could be enormous.

It will be essential to help the Japanese maintain trust in their leaders to promote ongoing civil order in response to the nuclear crisis. Any inconsistencies or statements that undermine Japanese authority or expertise will have lasting affects as it could hamper current emergency efforts and their future ability to respond to these issues, long after international assistance recedes. Any interactions with the Japanese, other nations or public communication should take this into consideration.

It remains crucial that we build upon our long-standing cooperative relationship with the Japanese regulators. The NRC has a vast amount of expertise working with the Japanese program and personal relationships that should be used as a basis for strengthening, rather than shaking the confidence of the Japanese responders.

There should be sensitivity to not question the past actions, as there will be ample time to learn from these experiences.

Direct confrontation will also not be helpful. Multiple agency questions and interactions are an unnecessary distraction.

The NRC should remain the primary representative to communicate with NISA and JNES. Ultimately, our actions should not interfere or distract them. It also remains the best way culturally to approach the issue.12

While the U.S. diplomats and government agencies finessed the need to maintain good diplomatic relations while taking measures to protect U.S. citizens in Japan that eventually diverged from the Japanese response, the U.S. military was less concerned about political niceties than it was about defending their nuclear interests in the region. Had Kan not forced TEPCO to stay, an entirely different political dynamic would have ensued, with the U.S. government taking on a more central role in coordination with the Ministry of Defense and the SDF. Despite having some of the most sophisticated military assets in the world, the SDF is not a nuclear force: they have neither the experience nor corresponding expertise to sort such a complex nuclear disaster. The U.S. Navy, by comparison, owns approximately half of all the operational hours of nuclear reactors in history (approximately 6200 reactor years of operation), having been the first military force to deploy nuclear carriers and submarines – laden with nuclear weapons – with all the expertise that entails. And, they are there: the infrastructural footprint of U.S. military bases in Japan has been the bane of US-Japan public relations since the Pacific War, but these bases would have provided the U.S. with the necessary resources to mount the campaign, had it proved necessary. As a result, the U.S. would have undoubtedly taken technical lead in the crisis, having the SDF serve as proxy in order to protect the notion of Japanese state autonomy and in order to avoid throwing American soldiers on the nuclear pile. The Japanese Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department were well aware of these political implications and strove to avoid a public diplomatic row. By convincing TEPCO to remain, the U.S. and Japanese governments were able to have it both ways, with the U.S. providing crucial technical consultation but at an appropriately delicate diplomatic distance that allowed Japan to save face while taking the appropriate mitigating actions without the U.S. appearing to be puppet-master over a dependent client state.

In the first week of the crisis, a series of setbacks upped the ante, making it difficult for the NRC to remain in a passive, exclusively advisory role. Having just arrived in Japan a couple of days after the crisis began, and thus not being initially privy to the level of disagreement between TEPCO and the Japanese government, they engaged the situation at the worst possible moment, just as TEPCO announced its plans to leave the plant, and only shortly after TEPCO had defied orders to vent the reactors and put water into the cores to prevent the reactors from spinning entirely out of control.

The 16th of March was the longest day of the nuclear crisis. After the reactor #4 building exploded, debate centered on the condition of the spent fuel pool (SPF), which was worrisome because the spent fuel rods that had recently been cycled into storage were especially toxic. The condition of SPF 4 became a major source of contention between TEPCO and the NRC, as the Japanese authorities insisted that water remained in the pool, based on inferred technical information and on a video taken during a helicopter fly-by, which seemed to show reflection off water. The NRC experts were not persuaded: the video was scarcely one frame on a monochromatic screen that could have been a reflection off of materials that had been scattered when the building that contained the pool exploded. And in any case, this was not a firm enough basis to wager U.S. strategic regional interests and the safety of U.S. citizens living in Japan.


Table 1. Source: Briefing by NRC Chaiman Gregory B. Jaczko to U.S. Senator Jim Webb, June 17, 2011.

Weighing against this optimistic view based on a transient “shimmer” off water that could barely be seen were a number of more objective indicators that led the NRC to believe the pool had either leaked dry or that whatever water remained after the explosion had evaporated from the residual heat from the spent fuel rods. Like the explosions that destroyed the outer containment structures of reactors #1 and #3, the explosion in the reactor #4 building blew the building apart, and with the Spent Fuel Pool (SFP) positioned on the top floor, it defied logic to imagine that this pool (which is less robust than we would hope to imagine) would remain intact while much of the building was destroyed. When heavy moving equipment was brought in to clear a path to put water on the building, the radiation levels on the ground just outside the structure dropped by approximately 70%, indicating that high levels of radiation had dispersed from the pools. Thermal imagery from aerial surveillance showed hotspots – what could be fires breaking out in the building – a seeming impossibility if the pool contained water. Adding to this was the fact that steam had been seen rising from the building initially, but later stopped, suggesting that the water in the pool had evaporated, and when the infamous helicopter sorties over the reactors dropped water on the building, steam flashed out, which would be consistent with water falling on a hot, dry surface.13

By this time the TEPCO officials who were pressing the case had lost much of their credibility and despite their protestations and efforts to maintain a facade of control, operational staff – hands-on engineers – fearing reprisals from their superiors, privately conceded that they too believed the pool had run dry. At best, TEPCO was sending mixed messages to the NRC, not only about the condition of the SFP 4 but also about their willingness to share information and resources to develop a coordinated response. After inviting the NRC to join them at their Emergency Operations Center, an invitation that was acted on by the NRC, who mobilized staff to set up shop at TEPCO headquarters, senior TEPCO officials then pointedly withdrew the invitation, providing yet more evidence that TEPCO was internally divided and disorganized, calling into question their assessments.

Deploying to Japan from March 14 to March 28, THE U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s DOE/NNSA) Aerial Measuring System (AMS) conducted 100 survey flights, comprising 525 flight hours, using UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, C-12 Huron airplanes and eventually transferred special detector pods that are mounted on the airplanes to ground teams for vehicle-based ground surveys. Along with these assets, the U.S. relied on ground surveys by teams of military personnel using specially equipped radiation monitoring backpacks in “picket fences” that were mapped onto the air and ground vehicle surveys.While this drama over the condition of SFP 4 was playing out between the NRC and TEPCO (the first open disagreement between the US and Japan), the U.S. continued with their radiation surveys throughout the Tohoku region. The United States played an inordinately important role in measuring and compiling radiation data that nuclear authorities could use for assessing the Fukushima nuclear disaster. For the U.S., the organizations that initially played the most significant role in assessing the nuclear crisis were the NRC, which assigned over 200 staff stateside and sent a core team of 16 staff to Japan and Naval Reactors, which administers military platform nuclear reactors for the U.S. Navy, working in coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy.

From the beginning of the crisis, Japan-based foreign embassies and their supporting governments overseas sought to establish lines of communication with TEPCO via the Japanese government, but they were often rebuffed and even when lines of communication had been established, there was little to relate, as even the Japanese government could not attain meaningful information from TEPCO, who continued to downplay the severity of the situation. Until a working relationship was developed with TEPCO, the only source of real-time meaningful information available to external entities that would allow for radiation assessment was a live stream of data on the MEXT website from fixed monitoring posts.

The U.S. government conducted more comprehensive radiation surveys than the Japanese government at this time, and crucially, the data was coalesced into integrated databases that could be assessed by their radiation authorities in Japan and abroad. While TEPCO authorities continued to put what increasingly appeared to be an implausibly optimistic spin on events, dissembled and stalled, fought with the Japanese government, frustrated and confused journalists with technically indecipherable data, the U.S. provided data to its various governmental agencies, shared this data with allies (including the Japanese government) and with TEPCO itself. They were not on the same page.

In short proximity to the explosion of the reactor #4 building that was believed to destroy the spent fuel pool, higher than expected readings at the reactor site and TEPCO’s announcement that it was leaving, the DOE/USFJ radiation surveys measured a radiation hotspot at 38 kilometers distance from the Daiichi plant that was in excess of US Protective Action Guidelines (PAG). These PAG guidelines are utilized by the U.S. Department of Energy in coordination with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for siting commercial nuclear reactors and are the fundamental reference point for public health impact during a nuclear disaster (See Table 1)

Based on assessments of this data, which was more specific and nuanced than the information being provided by the Japanese authorities, the U.S. broke with Japan, expanding its evacuation zone out from the 20km (12 miles) threshold which it had temporarily shared until these discrepancies came to light, to 80km (50 miles). Japan had already moved the evacuation zone area several times in the first few days of the crisis, and incrementally continued to ratchet up the response, eventually stabilizing at 30km distance from the reactors, with specially designated non-concentric zones included to incorporate hotspot areas that were over the radiation threshold standard. These seemingly less conservative zones had been determined before 3.11, based on protocols established by the IAEA in 2007, which allowed discretionary zones to be established within these limits, based on the power-rating of the reactor, the nature of the accident, and other event-specific contingencies.

Table 2 see original article

In a report written in October of 2011, the NRC provided a more detailed account for why the zone was expanded:

The decision to expand evacuation of U.S. citizens out to 50 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi facility was a conservative decision that was made out of consideration of several factors including an abundance of caution resulting from limited and unverifiable information concerning event progression at several units at the Fukushima Daiichi facility. The NRC based its assessment on information available at the time regarding the condition of the units conditions at Fukushima Daiichi that included significant damage to Units 1, 2, and 3 that appeared to have been a result of hydrogen explosions. Prior to the earthquake and tsunami, Unit 4 was in a refueling outage and its entire core had been transferred to the spent fuel pool only 3 months earlier so the fuel was quite fresh. Radiation monitors showed significantly elevated readings in some areas of the plant site which would challenge plant crews attempting to stabilize the plant. Based on analysis results, there were indications from some offsite contamination sampling smears that fuel damage had occurred. There was a level of uncertainty about whether or not efforts to stabilize the plant in the very near term were going to be successful. Changing meteorological conditions resulted in the winds shifting rapidly from blowing out to sea to blowing back onto land.14

This report avoids discrepancies between what TEPCO was contending and the U.S. assessment, skirting differences between the Japanese government and the U.S. response. In the press, though, such interpretations were provided. New York Times reporter Onishi, who helped break this story in the foreign press, stated:

In the first few days, basically the crux of the disagreement was that the foreign experts who were assessing the situation had a much more severe assessment of the seriousness of the accident compared to what the Japanese were saying publically. The American government was getting information from its experts in the NRC and also the military that was sharply at odds with what the Japanese government authorities and TEPCO were saying publically, sharply at odds. What made matters worse, was that there was complete confusion inside the Kan administration, no communication with TEPCO, and barely any communication with the bureaucracy. And so the Americans were faced with a situation where the Japanese government was in complete chaos, essentially; unresponsive, not providing information.15

Although the U.S. had dramatically expanded the evacuation zone and recommended to its citizens that they stay outside this 50 mile radius, this had little meaning outside the military: there were very few civilian American citizens living in Tohoku before the 3.11 disasters and what few remained soon left the region after the nuclear crisis developed. But for the military, this had implications for their strategic assets in Tohoku, where Japanese Self Defense Force bases are arrayed and linked into the USJF as joint task forces, from which tsunami relief efforts were being staged. In recognition of the threat the nuclear fallout posed to troops in this region, the U.S. distributed Potassium Iodide (KI) to its forces, monitored their troops’ exposure to make sure they did not exceed the protective action guideline limits and limited their time within the exclusion zone. U.S. military personnel working in the region were required to submit GPS data to indicate they had not strayed into the exclusionary zone unless specifically tasked to do so.

In association with these near-term protective measures, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, working in coordination with Naval Reactors, developed a comprehensive “Tomodachi Registry,” which was designed to provide dose estimates for U.S. military personnel in Japan. In consideration of the history of open-air nuclear bomb testing that exposed military personnel to high levels of radioactive fallout, from the beginning of the nuclear crisis the U.S. Navy was concerned to develop a radiation exposure database that could be used for dose reconstructions of military personnel and their dependents in Japan. Seeking to avoid Fukushima “Downwinders” who would bring litigation against the government and to allay fears of their families, the U.S. military methodically compiled a comprehensive registry that could serve as an objective reference point for assessing radiation exposure during the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Since 3.11, two class-action lawsuits have been brought by U.S. sailors who served on the USS Ronald Reagan nuclear aircraft carrier during the crisis, but these suits have been filed against TEPCO, which may be legally vulnerable to such claims because of their international holdings.16

Through the Tomodachi Registry, the U.S. government has provided specific information on dose exposures and, irrespective of its designed application, it provides publically available radiation measurement readings at specific rates, and at specific locales. By making this information publically available, it stands in stark contrast to how Japan has (not) made radiation data available to its own citizens. Although MEXT developed a radiation registry and made it available online, after a meeting of Fukushima prefectural authorities was convened to discuss this, the Mayor of Fukushima raised concerns that it would provoke fears by an uneducated public and the registry was taken down. Months later, the IAEA, perhaps as a compensation for this (the director of the IAEA is Japanese) and as a way to establish its authority in contrast to the Japanese ministries, made a similar radiation registry available online.

In its official announcements, throughout the crisis the U.S. Embassy continued to assert that for those outside the Tohoko region, the situation was relatively safe. This position was called into question by the military’s recommendation on March 15, 2011 that personnel at Yokosuka Naval Base and Naval Air Facility Atsugi stay indoors (shelter in-place), and by the authorization on March 16 for the “voluntary military assisted departures” of government and Department of Defense dependents in specified areas. The U.S. government accounted for its advisories as “best-practices” recommendations made “out of an abundance of caution, and in order to enable U.S. government officials and the uniformed military to concentrate on the tasks at hand” (U.S. Department of State 2011). At the embassy and on the military bases, families were starting to panic after word filtered out that radiation levels were triggering alarms on the carriers, and as they heard their spouses relating backstage discussions that were fraught with tension and uncertainty about the public health implications of the crisis. At the Yokosuka naval base, a delegation of concerned mothers confronted the base officials, demanding that they be more thoroughly informed and be given support to leave, an eventuality that soon happened, but may have been accelerated by these public demands. Initially the plan to move the D.O.D. dependents was conceived as a recommendation with no direct financial support, but it quickly became evident that this would reflect class divisions and embitter those who could not afford the predatory pricing that developed as demand soared (at this time taxis were charging $2,000 for a ride from Yokosuka to Narita airport; plane tickets were going for up to $20,000).

Thus, while the official stated position maintained that radiation was near background levels in these locations and thus no danger to public health, D.O.D. dependents, including the families of embassy officials in Tokyo and at the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya were given support (the flights were free of charge) to leave Japan. Through a mission named “Operation Pacific Passage” approximately 7,800 D.O.D. dependents (including about 1,200 families) left Japan, the most significant movement of U.S. citizens in Japan since the Pacific War.

Within the social networks of expats in Japan, the “voluntary departures” were controversial. The D.O.D. dependents who took advantage of this opportunity to depart without cost were labeled “Fly-Jin” (a contraction variant of the Japanese word “Gaijin,” a derogatory slang for a foreigner) and were accused of using the crisis as an occasion to take a paid holiday while waiting out the crisis. This label had originated on Twitter feeds as a sarcastic pun, and came to be used more generally to describe foreigners who had abandoned Japan out of fear for personal safety.

For the government and military authorities who arranged these departures, the operation was a pragmatic compromise that appeased the concerns of the panicked citizens under their protection. But by taking this step, the government was unambiguously demonstrating that they did not have confidence that these citizens were safe in Japan and thus needed to be hastily removed, irrespective of the cost or diplomatic implications. This perspective had gradually developed over the first week of the crisis, based on unexpectedly high readings coming from radiation surveys, which was compounded by the experience of dealing with the Japanese authorities. At J-Village, the staging ground in Fukushima for the crisis management of the disaster, the U.S. nuclear experts were encountering a chaotic environment, were witness to a lack of coordination among agencies, and were seeing indication that neither TEPCO nor the Japanese government fully appreciated the magnitude of the crisis and had a viable plan to effectively address it. While the U.S. military was recommending that several thousand staff be tasked to work on getting water on the reactors, using heavy equipment in a coordinated response between the military and civilian workers, TEPCO was devoting less than one hundred staff to diverse tasks and were taking remedial actions in response to a cascading series of setbacks, failing to anticipate events as they developed and only begrudgingly accepting help after their efforts had proved lacking.

Well into April of 2011, the situation at the Daiichi plant continued to deteriorate. Even after water was put on the reactor cores, radiation continued to plume out of the plant: for fully three months this water continued to boil, releasing radioactive steam into the environment, while the area around the reactors was turned into a swamp, with contaminated water spilling into the ocean. On the front side of the accident TEPCO had downplayed the significance of the disaster, but even after the actions that would eventually prove effective were taken, the situation remained unstable. By the middle of May, 2011 TEPCO was able to demonstrate that despite evidence to the contrary, the water in the SFP of reactor #4 remained intact, but by their own calculations, it had continued to decrease until the end of April, coming perilously close to uncovering the fuel rods (See Table 3).

Table 3

Throughout this time the reactors continuously plumed out radiation into the environment. When seen through the refracted gaze of the media, it seemed as though the radioactive plumes that escaped the Daiichi plant were severe, but episodic and limited. In fact, the plumes that made their way into the atmosphere after the venting and hydrogen explosions were peak releases, but they were merely steps above an already elevated level that fluctuated but never stopped. One way to visualize this is to imagine the plume as a spotlight that swept back and forth, continuously pluming out radioactivity in the direction that light was shone: as the wind shifted the plume would move, but it never stopped. The plume was unrelenting (and, arguably, still is today in another mode, as contaminated water leaks into the ocean), and as this radioactivity has been released into the environment, it has incrementally distributed collective, cumulative doses whose consequences for public health were terrifying in the early days of the crisis but may well be even worse in the long-term.

We may never fully know the magnitude of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in this early phase of the crisis. For much of this time, the wind blew out to sea, diffusing the fallout into the air and the water, making it difficult to measure directly and with any certainty. In time we may infer from contaminated seafood the level of contamination, but even this is imprecise, as migratory fish and the bias of government ministries inclined to withhold or downplay bad news, and strict food standards remove contaminated foodstuff from the marketplace. Had the prevailing winds blown inland, it would have been an entirely different disaster: the plume that rendered the area Northwest of the Daiichi plant uninhabitable (where Namie and other evacuated villages are located) was only part of one afternoon on one day. The high levels of contamination in these isolated hotspots are by now well known and much measured; what is not generally recognized is what radiation monitoring was revealing to government agencies that were mapping the plume elsewhere, including at distances much farther from the plant into the Kanto plain and Tokyo: the U.S. Embassy is located in Tokyo.

With an eye on the spent fuel pool #4 and in consideration of alarming hotspot readings that were higher than expected and in excess of their Protective Action Guidelines, the U.S. government commissioned a “Supercore” analysis of a hypothetical worst-case scenario that might track to Tokyo, and South to the military bases in Yokosuka and Yokota. Using the NRC’s “Radiological Assessment System for Consequence Analysis” (RASCAL), the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC), operated by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, issued a report on March 20, 2011 concerning Plume Model Dose Projections in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. This analysis was based on a “Source Term” (the source term is the known inventory of radionuclides in a given reactor) assuming Daiichi Unit #2 reactor release to the environment, 50% of the total spent fuel pool from Reactor #3 and 100% of the total spent fuel from Reactor #4 being released into the environment. Although this analysis estimated radiation exposure levels of less than 25% of maximum allowable doses for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, the NARAC model simulations used release times of distinct 48-hour periods of time, dating from March 14 and going until March 18 (multiple confidential sources 2013).17

Taken as a snapshot of a moment in time, the numbers were reassuringly well below the maximum allowable PAG dose. What this analysis did not account for, however, was the long-term impact of a continuous release from multiple reactors. Although RASCAL – as with SPEEDI, a comparable system – is an important tool used within the U.S. nuclear industry, it has inherent limitations that cannot accommodate the multiple contingencies of shifting weather patterns disseminating fallout from multiple sources. Basically, the system is a sophisticated weather predictor, and while it is considerably more than a best guess estimate, it does not use actual measurements taken in situ where the actual depositions reside. Using source-term assumptions, the system estimates where a given release will go once it is out in the environment, but ultimately, it is a computer software program based on a number of inferential assumptions.

In the Fukushima nuclear crisis, this system was useful, but it had inherent limits that could not accommodate a multiple-day, multiple-release scenario. For a single reactor accident such as Three Mile Island, the system can more accurately model a release such as the venting of a reactor over a limited period of time, or a catastrophic release such as the hydrogen explosions that happened at the Daiichi facility. But beyond such a limited time frame, the system is overwhelmed: for the Supercore analysis, NARAC compressed longer-term releases into release times of 24 hours, and completely disregarded food ingestion pathways, which require longer-range analysis that includes agriculture areas and different isotopes. Moreover, the NARAC simulations assume only dry depositions and do not factor in precipitation, whose ethereal quality and “scrubbing effects” would befuddle any software program designed to calculate numerically precise values.

Alongside NARAC’s RASCAL runs, similar atmospheric modeling was conducted by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and by France, Canada and the United Kingdom,18 but as with the NRC’s system, these agencies all used source-term derivatives and did not conduct actual on-the-ground radiation measurement. The U.S. military and Department of Energy, however, continued to compile real-world measurements throughout the crisis, not only in the Tohoku region, but in Tokyo and at the military bases throughout Japan.

On March 21st, shortly after PACOM initiated the military assisted departures for D.O.D. dependents at the bases, a hotspot reading half-way between Fukushima and the Yokosuka military base was so high that Naval Reactors, in this context one of the primary organizations responsible for radiation assessment for the Department of Defense, recommended that military and civilian dependent personnel within a 200 mile (322km) radius be offered KI and be included in military assisted departure (essentially, the recommendation was to support KI distribution and evacuations of D.O.D. dependents up to 200 miles distance from the Daiichi Plant). This drove decision making at this crucial moment, giving reason for the distribution of Potassium Iodide (KI) and further reinforcing the rationale for the military assisted departures (Yokosuka is 163 miles from the Daiichi NPP). With only hours before the plume would hit Yokosuka, the debate focused on the immediate necessity of distributing KI to D.O.D. dependents.

While this debate continued, it was determined after putting the data through a peer review process and comparing this to the radiation survey data in Tohoku (extrapolating readings from near the reactors to correlate with more distant readings as in Yokosuka), that this unexpectedly high reading was an unrepresentative outlier, owing to a measurement error or a transient spike from random particulate fallout. As had been the case with the reactor venting, the hydrogen explosions and the spent fuel pool debate, this unexpectedly high reading alarmed the U.S. authorities and provoked them to action. Even though this particular reading was found to be in error, it highlighted the prospect of exposing, especially, pregnant and lactating females, infants and small children to thyroid dose rates above the established DOE Protective Action Guideline threshold.

The fundamental point pushed by the Navy to warrant its more conservative recommendations was the cumulative dose rates that were accruing over time. Even 10 days into the disaster, the situation was continuing unabated, exposing D.O.D. personnel and their dependents to incrementally accumulating dose rates that would conceivably pass the maximum PAG threshold for public health over an extended period of time. With this in mind, the U.S. government decided to distribute KI and support departures because even if the dose rates at this time were still inside the DOE guidelines, if the exposure rates continued as measured they would eventually hit and pass the PAG limit, and perhaps continue to accumulate even further thereafter. Despite the cost and inconvenience, civilian expats might find their way to Western Japan to wait out the crisis, or leave Japan altogether, but the military were parked at the bases and not going anywhere: in a long-term nuclear event they faced the prospect of continuous exposure.

As a result of these concerns, the U.S. military in Japan implemented a preconceived “Emergency Action Plan,” in the U.S. Embassy and at the military bases. This plan is invoked to protect classified documents that cannot be left behind from disclosure. At the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, industrial grade shredders were used continuously for four days, destroying classified documents dating back a decade; at the military bases burn bags were used to destroy documents and equipment such as classified servers and cryptography machines were physically destroyed.19 As ominous as this may seem, Emergency Action Plans are commonplace within the military culture: every branch employs this protocol as a means to prevent confidential and classified materials from being compromised when situations develop that compel departure from a location where military and intelligence assets are arrayed. In the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the fact that Emergency Action Plans were implemented at the military bases and the embassies at the height of the crisis emphatically demonstrates two things: that for a period of several days the U.S. government believed that departure from Japan was imminent and secondly, that the situation was so volatile that they thought it prudent to take immediate action to protect their assets.

At this same time, inside the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo a team was tasked to draw up plans to put tens of thousands of American citizens on the decks of the aircraft carriers to get them out within hours (there were not a sufficient number of available flights to get such a large number of citizens and Department of Defense dependents out quickly if it had proved necessary). The German government and other embassies in Japan have been subjected to criticism for moving their diplomatic corps and embassy operations to Western Japan while other foreign embassies held the line in Tokyo,20 but backstage and out of view of public scrutiny, the U.S. Embassy made specific plans to move to Osaka (two staff from each section were assigned to support embassy functions if this were to have proved necessary). This was not unique to the U.S. government: at the same time international cooperation was ramping up for tsunami relief, foreign embassies in Japan began to discuss evacuation of foreign nationals to escape the nuclear fallout while managing the perceptions of their staff and Japan-based constituents as the situation continued to deteriorate with no respite in sight. This was a tricky balance, and it took considerable finesse to implement procedures out of line with the Japanese official response while seeking to avoid the diplomatically troubling insinuation that these policies were an implicit critique of the Japanese government’s crisis management procedures.

In retrospect, the various protective measures taken by the U.S. Government – to distribute KI to its citizens, to pay for assisted departures of D.O.D. dependents and possibly relocate the embassy and perhaps leave Japan altogether – may seem to have been an over-reaction based on miscalculation. For critics of these decisions they may even be seen as a species of ill-advised panic mongering characteristic of anti-nuclear activists and tailor-made for the tabloid press. This was not, however, the way this was conceived by the most experienced and knowledgeable U.S nuclear authorities who were the most influential voices at the height of the crisis, and whose recommendations were translated into policy. With the clarity of hindsight, the grave concern and subsequent political contretemps that accompanied them might have been avoided if the press of events at the time did not compel immediate action. But from the vantage point of the U.S. military and government authorities, the situation at the time was so uncertain, and the stakes of inaction so high, that “getting in front” of the worst case possibility and being proactive to take these controversial actions was seen, ironically, as the most cautious response.

Conclusion

As we look to the early days of the crisis, it is tempting to place a shelf life on panic-oriented risk discourses and fix these frameworks of interpretation in time, to conclude that after a somewhat hysterical first few weeks, the crisis abated, taking with it these unreasonable claims. However, over time critical media coverage has led to a gradual amplification of risk about nuclear danger that has given credence to claims previously taken as an over-reaction and panic. These adjustments have happened incrementally as stories have broken in the media that were previously known only to insiders, and as various government agencies and independent panels have submitted reports, all of which reveal more nuanced information about particular episodes in the crisis. This information has provided ammunition to critics (and little comfort to industry supporters), as the overall picture that emerges is one of inadequate preparation, well-intentioned ineptitude, poor communication and tone-deaf politics. These evaluations, coming from various parties distributed across the political spectrum, map onto anti-government political agendas, lending credence to anti-nuclear activists, who had anticipated such a crisis.

Although the tsunami may well have resulted in greater immediate impact on Japanese society in terms of the environmental and economic effects, the meaning and significance of the nuclear crisis for Japan remains uncertain. Because this was a uniquely international event, projecting fears of radiation exposure implausibly far beyond Japan’s borders, cultural frames of reference came into play, leading to selective perception about the nature of the accident and its presumed effects. The media guided these discourses down characteristically narrow paths, filtering information to construct notions of risk, which shaped public perception and influenced the action of decision-making elites. The crisis stoked fears of nuclear energy run amok, and the media helped construct a narrative arch that amplified perceptions of risk in the most melodramatic terms.

Given the magnitude of this crisis, it seems that in the aftermath of 3.11 all roads run through Fukushima, as scholars attempt to untangle the web of associations related to this unprecedented series of events. As a means of studying Japan, the Fukushima nuclear crisis affords opportunities to examine cultural traits that are embodied in institutional structures, and find expression in public politics. Public policy is based on political discourse, and in this crisis, perception drove decision-making, creating a politics of fear, which has transformed Japan. The media helped construct this interpretative frame through its coverage of the nuclear crisis, and after a bad start, has become more critical of corporate malfeasance and political corruption.

The foreign press has been alarmist and at times histrionic about the nuclear crisis in Japan, but it has brought issues of political corruption to the forefront and helped focus the debate on politics in a way unfamiliar to the Japanese domestic press. This has influenced the Japanese media’s coverage, which has altered its tone and perhaps even changed its priorities. The “Kisha-Club” press system in Japan, whereby reporters pool information and rely on official public statements as the primary basis for their stories, is increasingly being seen as complicit in the nuclear crisis, since it disregarded critical information when it most counted and failed to hold the authorities accountable for their actions. Although the Japanese press echoed the statements made by TEPCO and the government in the days immediately after the crisis began, as more troubling information leaked out, it gradually aligned with the foreign press on a number of issues central to this experience. These include a withering indictment of the collusion between the Japanese political bureaucracy and the energy utilities, questions about the truthfulness of government and industry spokesmen, challenges to assurances about food safety, and an increasingly critical assessment of the viability of nuclear energy.

Now that enough time has transpired for watchdog agencies to make their assessments and for previously hidden information to come out (via investigative journalism and disclosure by disgruntled former employees), the Japanese media are retrospectively framing events in the more strident terms that we have associated with the panic-driven foreign press. By summer of 2011, with information in hand that the reactors had melted down, and former government officials confirming their worst fears, a consensus emerged that Japanese government authorities, and especially TEPCO, did not have control as they had asserted, and the situation was much worse than these reassurances indicated. This picture gradually started to gain focus and achieve official mainstream sanction through independent reports and interviews with government officials, but in the first few weeks of the crisis, as fears were at their peak, there was still a highly contentious debate about the magnitude of risk.

Any notion that these concerns were irrational would seem to be unfounded, based on the available evidence. Now that the situation has relatively stabilized, people in Japan remain anxious, especially in Tohoku, about important and entirely reasonable concerns related to health and well being, and those who have been displaced from their homes because of the nuclear accident may never return. It is difficult to overstate the impact this dual crisis will have on Japan in this generation. Now that the initial crisis phase has passed, the focus has turned to reconstruction and reform, but on the ground in the Tohoku region people face chronic uncertainty about the safety of food and the long-term effects of low-level radiation exposure. The government’s initial response was discouraging, and the nuclear village, when all is said and done, may remain substantially intact. But social activism is on the rise, bringing previously disengaged citizens into political movements that were previously the domain of activists, who are now being vindicated by recent events.

The author wishes to thank Maho Cavalier, Drake Crane and Millie Nishikawa for their assistance in the research that helped produce this paper.

Kyle Cleveland is Associate Professor of Sociology at Temple University’s Japan Campus in Tokyo and was the founding Director of TUJ’s Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (now Associate Director), for which he organizes a lecture series, academic conferences and symposia. As TUJ’s Study Abroad Advisor, he was involved in the university’s crisis management, serving as a liaison to U.S.-based study abroad providers, and at the height of the nuclear crisis chaperoned an emergency evacuation flight out of Japan with international students. He is writing a book on the political dimensions of radiation assessment in the Fukushima nuclear crisis, examining how foreign governments in Japan responded to the crisis.

Related articles

This article is part of 3.11 + 3: Special Issue on Japan’s Triple Disaster Three Years Onedited by Paul Jobin and David McNeill. Other articles include:

David McNeill and Paul Jobin, Introduction

Philip C. Brown, Call it A ’Wash’? Historical Perspectives on Conundrums of Technological Modernization, Flood Amelioration and Disasters in Modern Japan

Shineha Ryuma and Tanaka Mikihito, Mind the Gap: 3.11 and the Information Vulnerable

Yasuhito ABE, Safecast or the Production of Collective Intelligence on Radiation Risks after 3.11

References

Akagawa, Roy K. (2012, February 29). Interview/Yoichi Funabashi: Fukushima Nuclear Crisis Revealed Japan’s Governing Defects. The Asahi Shimbun. 

Asahi Shimbun (2011, September 7). Kan: I Couldn’t Let TEPCO Withdraw from Fukushima Disaster. Asahi Shimbun 

Bader, Jeffrey A. (2012, March 8). Inside the White House During Fukushima: Managing Multiple Crises. Foreign Affairs Magazine. Council of Foreign Affairs. 

Blustein, Paul (2013, September 26). Fukushima’s Worst-Case Scenarios: Much of What you have heard about the Nuclear Accident is Wrong. Slate Magazine. 

Defense Threat Reduction Agency (2012, December). Radiation Dose Assessments for Shore-Based Individuals in Operation Tomodachi Technical Report. Dose Assessment and Recording Working Group: Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. Defense Threat Reduction Agency: Fort Belvior, Virginia.

El-Jaby, Ali (2011, August 10). Fukushima Daiichi NPP Event and Associated Radioactive Source Term – CNSC’s Initial Response. Presented at 2011 WNU Summer Institute. Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Fackler, Martin (2012, July). Credibility Lost: The Crisis in Japanese Newspaper Journalism after Fukushima). Futaba Shinsho.

Feickert, Andrew and Emma Chanlett-Avery (2011, March 22). Japan 2011 Earthquake: U.S. Department of Defense (D.O.D.) Response. Congressional Research Service.

Funabashi, Harutoshi (2012). Why the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is a Man-made Calamity. International Journal of Sociology. No. 21. The Japan Sociological Society.

Gardner, Eric (2011, March 17). Military Dependents Voluntary Evacuation from Japan Announced. Naval Air Facility, Atsugi Japan, Press conference. Commander Fleet Activities, Okinawa. 

Grange, Arnaud de La (2011, March 21). The Japanese Surprised by the Exodus of French Expatriates. Le Figaro. 

Greenpeace International (2012, February). Lessons from Fukushima

Hayashi, Yuko (2011, August 16). How Japan Stumbled in Forecasting Fallout in One Town. The Wall Street Journal. 

International Atomic Energy Agency (2007). IAEA Safety Glossary: Terminology Used in Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection. Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency. 

Itabashi, Hiroyoshi and Hidefumi Nogami (2013, January 28). U.S. frustrated with Japan’s initial response to Fukushima. Prometheus Trap: Asahi Shimbun. 

Izumi, Tanaka (2011, May 1). 20 Millisierverts for Children and Kosako Toshiso’s Resignation. Japan Focus. 

Kelly, Tara (2011, March 15). U.S. Military Exposed to Radiation in Japan, though Officials Say Danger is Minimal. Time Inc. 

Kemeny, John G. (1979, October). Report of The President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island: The Need for Change: The Legacy of TMI. Washington, D.C.

Kingston, Jeff (2011). Ousting Kan Naoto: The Politics of Nuclear Crisis and Renewable Energy in Japan. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. 

Kurokawa, Kyoshi (2012, July). The Official Report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission. The National Diet of Japan. 

Kushida, Kenji E. (2012). Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Narrative, Analysis, and Recommendations. Shorenstein APARC Working Paper. Stanford University.

Lochbaum, David and Edwin Lyman (2014). Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster. New Press.

Lyons, C. and Colton D. (2012). Aerial Measuring System in Japan. Health Physics. Vol.102, No. 5.

Moroney, Jennifer D. P., et. al. (2013). Lessons from Department of Defense Disaster Relief Efforts in the Asia-Pacific Region. The Rand Corporation: National Security Research Division. 

Nogami, Hidefumi (2013, February 1). Prometheus Trap (3): Japanese Ambassador Felt Something Not Right Before State Department Meeting. The Asahi Shimbun. 

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2011, March 13). Freedom of Information Act document NRC-944.

Perrow, Charles (1999). Normal Accidents: Living With High-Risk Technologies. Princeton University Press.

Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (2012, March 11). Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Report. Tokyo: Discover 21.

Samuels, Richard J. (2013). 3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan. Cornell U. Press.

Sasakawa Peace Foundation (2012). The Fukushima Nuclear Accident and Crisis Management: Lessons for Japan-U.S. Alliance Cooperation. 

Shikata, Noriyuki (2011, April 17). Personal Communication.

Slavin, Erik (2011, April 11). Families Frustrated by Lack of Answers from Yokosuka Hospital. Stars and Stripes. 

Stohl, A., et. al. (2012, March 1). Xenon-133 and Caesium-137 Releases into the Atmosphere from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant: Determination of the Source Term, Atmospheric Dispersion, and Deposition. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 12.

Till, John E. (2003). A Review of the Dose Reconstruction Program of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Committee to Review the Dose Reconstruction Program of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, National Research Council. The National Academies Press.

United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2011, October). Expanded NRC Questions and Answers related to the March 11, 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami. 

Wambach, Jessica (2012). Civil-Military Lessons Learned in the Response to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Liason: A Journal of Civil-Military Humanitarian Relief Collaborations, Vol. 5. Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance (COE-DMHA).

Wang, Dean et. al. (2012, November). Study of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 4 Spent-Fuel. Nuclear Technology, Vol. 180, No. 2. American Nuclear Society.

Weightman, John (2011). Japanese earthquake and tsunami: Implications for the UK nuclear industry: Final Report. HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations September 2011. Office for Nuclear Regulation. 

Notes

1 Sposato, William (2011, October 22). Media Reporting and Risk Management After the March 11 Disaster. Japan Echo Symposium. Tokyo: Japan Echo Foundation.

2 Baba, Tomatsu (2013, July). Personal Communication. As mayor of Namie, one of the towns most affected by the radiation fallout, Baba-san remains embittered toward the national government and has threatened litigation due to the public health implications for his community. At the same time, he fields continuous demands by citizens who blame him for not providing Pottasium Iodide at the crucial moment, even though this was available for distribution. But as with the SPEEDI data, with no government directive nor timely intervention by knowledgeable authorities, he remained – like many prefectural authorities in Fukushima – without guidance or support and was left to improvise in a chaotic environment.

3 Willacy, Mark (2012, January 20). Japan ‘Betrayed Citizens’ Over Radiation Danger. Australian Broadcasting Company. 

4 Onishi, Nori (2012, February 20). Personal Communication.

5 Hayano, Ryugo (2012, March 3). Personal Communication.

6 Shikata, Noriyuki (2011, April 17). Personal Communication.

7 Sposato, William (2012, February 9). Personal Communication.

8 Neidhart, Christoph (2012, February 7). Personal Communication.

9 Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2011, March 13). Freedom of Information Act document NRC-944.

10 Suzuki, Tatsujiro (2012). Personal Communication.

11 Multiple sources in the USFJ/Pacific Command. Confidential Personal Communication.

12 Doane, Magaret (2011, March 14). OIP Analysis/Guidance No. 2. Enformable Nuclear News. 

13 Casto, Charles A. (2012, July 7). Personal Communication. As the lead person tasked with overseeing the U.S. response in Japan, Casto was uniquely suited for the Fukushima crisis. At the time of the accident, he was deputy regional administrator of the NRC’s Center of Construction Inspection, and earlier in his career had worked in five units with a General Electric Mark 1 design (there are 23 U.S. reactors with this Mark 1 design), and he was plant manager of the Browns Ferry site in Alabama, a three unit site similar in design to the Fukushima Daiichi plant. After spending 11 months in Japan working the Fukushima crisis as the chief representative of the U.S. government for the nuclear industry and the nuclear response team leader, Casto was appointed the regional administrator of the NRC’s Midwest office, responsible for regulating 16 commercial power plants in seven states. Before retiring from the NRC in 2013, he received the Presidential Distinguished and Meritorious Rank Awards from President Obama, for his contribution to the U.S. government during the nuclear crisis.

14 United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2011, October). Expanded NRC Questions and Answers related to the March 11, 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami. Washington: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

15 Onishi, Nori (2012, February 20). Personal Communication.

16 Cooper et al v. Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. et al. (2013, April 1). Case Number: 3:2013dcv00773. California Southern District Court: San Diego Office. Since the onset of the nuclear crisis, the number of U.S. Navy plaintiffs against TEPCO has grown, claiming personal injury directly related to radiation releases in the first few days of the crisis. Although the initial case was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, no finding was made on substantive merit, thus leaving open the possibility of appeal and future litigation. 

17 Although source term analyses are qualitatively different from those based specifically upon measured radiation levels, the ultimate interpretation of these various sources used by the organizational elites who made the final call and translated this into policy were a composite of all available sources of information. This meta-analysis was complicated by political concerns, organizational priorities and differences in perception among the select handful of elites who ultimately made the final determination.

18 Beddington, John (2013, February 27). Personal Communication. As the chief scientific advisor to the British government during the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Sir John Beddington’s briefings at town hall meetings quickly went viral in social media networks to reassure the expat community in Japan that the public health risk was not as ominous as the mainstream media was asserting. Alongside U.K. Ambassador to Japan, Sir David Warren, Beddington’s public statements were the model of diplomatic acumen, but they were based on source-term analyses and did not track – at least publically – with the assessments being made by the U.S. military and Department of Energy’s on-the-ground radiation surveys, which indicated a more ominous possible outcome.

19 Multiple confidential sources in the USFJ/PACOM. This decision was made as the result of consultation with nuclear authorities in Washington, D.C. (including former military officers with high-level nuclear expertise) who comprised an ad hoc group of advisors to the State Department and President Obama, with input from the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Pacific Command. The initiation of Emergency Action Plans at the bases and in the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo was a stepped procedure of ascending priority, beginning with destruction of materials handled by non-essential staff who were allowed to leave as part of Operation Pacific Passage. As a first step in the potential withdrawal of U.S. military and diplomatic staff from Japan, this would have escalated to include documents and materials utilized by essential personnel, had they eventually been required to exit Japan in a worse case scenario. It is important to note that the content and relevance of these materials specifically to the Fukushima nuclear crisis has not been established as a matter of public record, due to their inherent status as confidential and classified materials: the documents may have been comprised of historical documents, intra-office communication and other materials that are classified, but not necessarily directly (or exclusively) related to this particular crisis.

20 Stanzel, Volker (2012). Personal Communication. As German Ambassador to Japan during the crisis, Dr. Stanzel was embattled by a more strident public than most of the foreign embassies endured at this time. The German reaction to the nuclear crisis was considered an outlier among the other foreign embassies, a response that was influenced by domestic anti-nuclear sentiments back in Germany, which compelled the ruling government to accelerate recently announced plans to discontinue the use of nuclear energy. These domestic pressures contributed to the Tokyo embassy’s decision to move to Osaka, causing some resentment among the other foreign embassies, who maintained a diplomatic facade during the first few days of the crisis. Fully six months after the crisis began, the German Embassy remained understaffed due to concerns about the nuclear situation, with ten posts (about one fourth of its diplomatic staff positions) remaining unfilled, as existing staff fled to Germany and refused to return, and prospective candidates refused to come while the situation was still uncertain. To help allay concerns, the German Embassy installed a full-time radiation expert in the Tokyo embassy (rotating in several experts over the following year).

There is a Russian proverb very similar to “Pride Goeth Before a Fall.” Russians are not easily offended, as opposed to, for example, my Israeli compatriots, who are hypervigilant to conspiracies and anti-Semitism.  Russians just aren’t like that, and even the manufactured word “Russophobia” never really caught on, except within the select audiences of the blogosphere.

A Dangerous Game, or Why is the West Criticizing the Sochi Games?

It started with the campaign by same-sex activists to boycott the Olympics.  That was launched by the comedian Stephen Fry, “as a Jew and a homosexual,” in a reference to the Holocaust.  But his joke fell flat because shortly before that incident Fry had caused an outcry in the Jewish world when he stated on television that Jews had stored up more misery for mankind than any other group of people.  The topic of gay rights continues to rankle – the Americans sent a delegation to Sochi consisting entirely of supporters of same-sex relationships, hoping to “troll” Putin – but nothing has ignited, despite their efforts.  The only demonstration on this issue in Sochi was staged by some American guests who were upset about the legalization of same-sex marriage in many US states.

Then came the horror stories about “Sochi – the city of double toilets.” Despite the fact that the photos and legends were debunked as fast as they appeared – they had their effect.  An Austrian journalist photographed a bad road in Vienna and tweeted it with the hashtag SochiFails.  CNN acquired the photo and it was retweeted 477 times.  Then the journalist admitted he had pulled a fast one – but that confession was only retweeted four times, which proves that this was truly an organized campaign to discredit both Sochi and the Games.

President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych waving national flag as the Ukrainian team advanced to the stadium during Opening ceremony, Sochi, February 7, 2014.

The opening ceremony saw some surprising and deliberate incidents: although spectators in the stadium and television viewers in Russia could see the president of Ukraine,Viktor Yanukovych (see image right), in his sky box, standing with a flag as the Ukrainian athletes entered the stadium, viewers overseas saw only an empty spot.  American television viewers did not see some of the section of the presentation that depicted the Soviet period, which was most likely cut because it did not include the gulags.

And finally, in conclusion there appeared a series of detailed articles.  The “bloody slander” by Dominic Sandbrook is an excellent example.  This was a fatwa, a call for murder and war from the lips of a respected British professor from Oxford and Cambridge.  Here’s another example: “The Stench of Sochi,” in which Putin is described as a bloody dictator and the games as an act of collusion. [1]

One could debate each point of the charges listed and either agree with them or take offense.  I’ve spent the greater part of the last three years in Russia.  It’s not the most comfortable place in the world.  The weather is oppressive.  We have ice and snow on a level unimaginable to Scandinavians or Canadians.  Beelzebub himself designed Moscow’s traffic.  I assure you it’s a country where the bureaucracy exhausts new arrivals and which begets a profusion of unnecessary hardships, all of which have helped to forge the indomitable Russian spirit.  You’ll get no argument from me! But only someone who has lost all touch with reality could brand the lenient rule of the liberal-conservative Putin as the “murderous and corrupt regime” of a gangster, when he has never executed anyone, holds an electoral mandate, and has yet to break up a single legal demonstration.

The vulgar anti-Sochi propaganda campaign is hardly reaching the international audience.

This widespread campaign leaves one no choice but to believe without a shadow of a doubt that what we have here is a deliberately fabricated, orchestrated, and organized campaign to target Russia and its president.  Why is this? If athletic competitions in Israel were being written about in this manner we would conclude that the instigators of the campaign were vile anti-Semites.  We could use the formula of President George W. Bush, who suggested “they hate our freedoms” as a motive for 9/11.  But there’s an even better explanation.

The unified Western propaganda machine is able to demonize its potential victims much better than the antediluvian mechanism used by Goebbels – if for no other reason than because it penetrates every corner of the globe.  It is centered in London and New York, and its branches operate in France, Germany, and even Russia.  It is fully integrated into the social networks.  If you (justifiably) do not trust the mainstream media and turn to the Internet – there you will find the same message, copied and retweeted by thousands of obedient robots.

This machine moves in when its owners want something from their victim.  For example, Muammar Gaddafi was the best friend of Paris, London, and Washington.  But he took exception once, and that was when Goldman Sachs lost 98% of Libya’s investments.  He paid dearly for his complaints.  He was utterly demonized and then NATO bombed Libya and destroyed that flourishing country.  Fifty billion dollars went missing – Libya’s sovereign wealth funds that had been invested in Western banks.

This is why the campaign against Sochi is so troubling.  What do the owners of the international mainstream media want from Russia and Putin? For him to marry President Obama? For him to abandon the Stabilization Fund in favor of Goldman Sachs? For him to sell oil and gas to Western companies in exchange for US Treasury bonds? Or – in regard to more compelling matters – for him to hand over Ukraine to neo-Nazis and Syria to Al-Qaeda? In any event, this has nothing to do with sports.  This is a different, and far more dangerous game.

[1] (OR Note) The reason why the Western sponsored media were so anxious about Russian resources being invested into the development of the national infrastructure projects and its soft power of the global reach, is pretty transparent. Since 2010 Russia has been gradually reducing its share in the US Treasury holdings (from around USD 176 billion in October 2010 to less than USD 140 billion in November 2013) and plans for more. Exactly this tribute, routinely pumped into greedy abyss of the Wall Street deposits for years, has been eventually spent for the national development and advance in Sochi. A gloomy mixture of envy, disrespect, panic and malice motivates those who hire the likes of Dominic Sandbrook, Alex Berenson, Alexander Gentelev, Regis Gente, Michael Weiss,  etc to condemn “Putin’s Games”. The outstanding success of the ongoing Olympic Games is the powerful and compelling response to these scribblers.

Source in Russian: Free Press, Translated by Oriental Review

Israel, Anti-Semitism and US Foreign Policy

February 18th, 2014 by Kourosh Ziabari

Why is it that any criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli regime is denounced as anti-Semitism and hate speech, but all sorts of blasphemous insults against the Muslims, their holy book, prophet and other sanctities are vindicated and defended as a matter of freedom of speech?

The hypocritical approach taken by the U.S. government and its allies in Europe, along with the mainstream media and public institutions in these countries toward the concept of freedom of speech is indescribably throbbing and disconcerting.

The customary practice in the Western public sphere in the recent decades, and especially following the beginning of Second Intifada in 2000, was to protect the Israeli regime through vilifying and ostracizing its critics as anti-Semite and unofficially banning and forbidding remarks, statements or actions which could potentially undermine Israel’s flimsy and shivering security.

 Even the strongest advocates of Israel know well and confess that this regime is so feeble and frail that even a simple op-ed or commentary in a national tabloid can derail and damage its security. Israel has managed to resist international pressures, especially on the side of the Muslim world, with the assistance and patronage of the United States security apparatus and media wing that have offered their unconditional and unwavering support to Tel Aviv in the most critical junctures. This is why the discourse of “anti-Semitism” has emerged and the neo-conservative think tanks have rushed to defend Israel against criticism and prevent it from being held accountable over its war crimes.

Currently, there are several organizations and institutes in the United States which are solely tasked to hold back the criticism of Israel or portray the critics of its bloodthirsty leaders as anti-Jews and anti-Semites. For instance, the Anti-Defamation League which describes itself as an organization which “fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all” is mostly in charge of identifying the critics of Israel in the U.S. media and laying the groundwork for banishing them from the outlets they’re working with.

 The objectives of ADL are utterly racist and tend to propagate this belief that the Israeli citizens are somewhat superior and deserve more respect and veneration than other people. Part of the motto of the Anti-Defamation League is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people.” This motto is entirely hypocritical and duplicitous, firstly because in practice, ADL really doesn’t care for the rights of the Jewish people, as it claims, and is simply commissioned to impede any criticism of the leaders of the Israeli regime, and not even its citizens, and secondly because there’s no logical basis for singling out a certain group of people and saying that they need to be guarded against defamation. Of course there’s nothing which makes the Israeli people distinct and separable from other peoples and necessitates the existence of an organization to defend them against what’s perceived as “defamation.”

But regardless of these logical arguments, the state sponsors and benefactors of the Israeli regime, which are interestingly always in minority and always affluent and powerful have shrewdly abused the accusation of anti-Semitism to denigrate and disparage whoever dares to criticize this lawless, bullying occupying power.

A clear example was the 2009 controversy that first emerged in Sweden and then spread internationally after the Swedish tabloid “Aftonbladet” published an investigative report titled “Our sons are being plundered for their organs”, revealing that the Israel Defense Forces soldiers take out and harvest the body organs of the Palestinians, and especially the Palestinian children, who die in the Israeli custody. Shocked and astounded, the Israelis immediately set in motion an international campaign of crying wolf, mobilizing their forces across the world to condemn this article as anti-Semitic and a “blood lible”!

The Western hypocrisy on the idea of freedom of speech revealed itself in this case conspicuously. The Swedish ambassador to Israel Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier condemned the article as “shocking and appalling” and stated that freedom of speech “carries responsibility.” At the time, a survey was conducted among the cultural editors of the major Swedish newspapers by the Svenska Dagbladet daily which indicated that all of them would have refused to publish the article.

The controversy that erupted following the publication of the Aftonbladet’s piece by the freelance photojournalist Donald Boström and the international reactions to the article that had simply tried to shed a light on an unseen aspect of the Israeli brutality against the Palestinians was a clear indication of how the West treats the dichotomy of free speech and hate speech insincerely.

 Two U.S. Congressmen, Robert Wexler of Florida and Elton Gallegly of California wrote a letter to the Swedish Prime Minister and asked him to reject and condemn the article in the strongest terms: “Given the far-reaching implications for this article, which raises the unfortunate specter of similar blood libels and spurious charges that have been directed at Jews throughout the centuries, it is critical that your government unequivocally repudiate and reject the heinous allegations expressed in this article… It is essential that this vitriolic article not be used by anti-Semites, anti-Israel advocates, and extremists as an excuse to commit acts of violence and terrorism against the Jewish community in Sweden or internationally.”

 Interestingly, the Congressmen and other Western politicians and officials who angrily reacted to the “anti-Semitic” article paid no attention to the very truth that was divulged and disclosed by the Swedish paper, that is the body organs of the dead Palestinian boys and men were taken out and sold by the Israeli soldiers. They simply closed their eyes and chanted slogans in condemnation of the “anti-Semitism” perceived in the article. Nobody was there to condemn the Israeli soldiers for their barbaric and atrocious act of harvesting the body organs of the Palestinians.

 Such hypocrisies have appeared in the past 65 years again and again, and there have been few heroes who could firmly and audaciously stand against and resist them.

 It was in 2004 that the Iranian Sahar TV began premiering a television series called “Zahra’s Blue Eyes” which narrated the story of Israeli militiamen and civilians conspiring to steal the eyes of Palestinian children. The series received a positive feedback at home and abroad, but what was the official response to it? The French Broadcasting Authority ordered the French satellite provider Eutelsat to take the Sahar 1 channel off air because the film was considered as having anti-Semitic implications!

Much has been said about the futility and vainness of the anti-Semitism pretext. Anti-Semitist is simply a label assigned to anybody who wakes up to protest the colonial, inhumane, radical and bigoted policies of the Israeli regime. The history of the Israeli crimes against the Palestinian citizens is replete with bitter and painful memories; the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, expulsion of Palestinian citizens from their homeland and constructing illegal settlements, criminal occupation of additional Arab territories in the 1967 war, racial discrimination against the non-Jews in the Occupied Territories, the continued siege of the Gaza Strip and the organized collective punishment of 1.5 million citizens living in the densely populated coastal enclave.

 When compared to their silence and indifference toward the publication of sacrilegious cartoons and release of blasphemous movies that appear on the TV and cinema screens one after the other to pour scorn on the sacraments of the Muslims and deride their beliefs, the sensitivity of the Western politicians, mass media and think tanks about “anti-Semitism” sounds ludicrous and baseless.

 The UK-based Redress Information & Analysis website which covers the developments pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once published an article satirizing the remarks made by Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Somewhere in the article, it noted: “It’s official. If you’re an American traitor and you’re arrested, tried and convicted for treason, but you also happen to be a Jew, then it’s not treason, it’s anti-Semitism.”

 Anti-Semitism cannot be used as an excuse to demoralize and dishearten the critics of Israel anymore. The conscientious and awakened people in Europe, Africa, Asia and America have begun realizing that the Israeli state which was founded on colonial grounds and is oriented on racist principles is a state sponsor of terrorism and a rogue state which needs to be punished in order to learn a lesson from the felonies it has been perpetrating for 65 years. That’s why the worldwide BDS movement (Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions) has gained such a momentum that is turning into a serious and effective instrument for putting cultural, political and economic pressure on Israel, even on behalf of its close allies in Europe, to force it to abandon its dreadful and brutal policies.

More than 100 Foreign Spies Imprisoned in Syria

February 18th, 2014 by Global Research News

A new report shows that more than 100 foreign intelligence and military agents from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are imprisoned in Syria.

According to a report published by the Lebanon-based Al-Manar, 85 Saudi officers, mostly from Saudi intelligence service, are incarcerated in Syria for assisting and training terrorists.

At least 7 of the spy inmates are described as senior officers.

Saudi Arabia’s officials, via a mediator, have made numerous appeals to get their agents released. However, the Syrian government has turned down the pleas.

According to the report, 14 Qatari and seven Turkish intelligence officers from are also imprisoned in Syria for similar charges.

Turkish and Qatari officials have also made attempts to get their intelligence agents freed but they have not succeeded.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies, especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are supporting the insurgents operating inside Syria.

Current developments both inside and outside of Syria have shown that the primary sponsors of the extremist-dominated insurgency – namely, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Israel and Turkey – aren’t quite ready to throw in the towel.

One may be forgiven for thinking the Obama administration had decided to abandon the policy of regime change following the failed attempt to incite intervention, through the chemical weapons casus belli in August. But the harsh reality remains that the above mentioned alliance is indeed continuing its covert military support of the insurgency, in one form or another, in the full knowledge the vast majority of rebels are religious fundamentalists with a sectarian agenda, and vehemently opposed to any form of democracy or political pluralism.

 Primarily, the continued support is a product of the American Empires’ overarching strategy of Full Spectrum Dominance over resource-rich and strategically placed regions of the globe, via subversion, economic and military aggression; a policy imposed to varying degrees upon any state unwilling to accept full US subordination. This aggressive US stance is by no means exclusive to periods of heightened tension or crises; it is a permanent one, brought forward to its violent climax purely through Machiavellian opportunism. In Syria’s case, the Arab uprisings provided the United States and its allies the perfect opening to set in motion the subversive plans they had been working on since at least 2006. The possibility of removing an opposing government that refuses to abide by American/Israeli diktat was simply too good a chance to be missed. Accordingly, and from a very early stage, the US made attempts to facilitate and support the violent elements in Syria, while its media arms were busy conflating them with localised legitimate protesters.

Since the US took the typically reckless decision to support, widen and exacerbate the militant elements, the policy has been an abject failure. Clearly, from the tone espoused by Western diplomats and propagandists, and the oft-repeated slogan of “Assad’s days are numbered”, they expected swift regime change. These desires were largely based on American hubris and the hope that the Libya No Fly Zone scenario would gain traction in the UN security council.

Contrary to such desires, Russia and China’s anger regarding NATO’s destruction of Libya and Gaddafi’s assassination, meant that any similar resolutions put forward on Syria would face immediate veto. In turn this has proven to be a turning point in the modern relationship between the permanent members of the security council, the full ramifications of which are yet to materialise. Moreover, it proved to be a turning point in the Syrian crisis itself; knowing Russia and China would block any attempts to give NATO its second outing as Al Qaeda’s airforce, the US once again chose the policy of further covert militarism, drastically increasing funds and weapons deliveries to the rebels – parallel to the sectarian incitement campaigns espoused by Salafi-Wahhabi clerics across the Gulf – in the hope they could overturn the Syrian army through terrorism and a brutal sectarian war of attrition.

As a consequence of the failure to remove Assad or destroy the Syrian government and its apparatus, the Obama administration, reluctant and politically incapable of engaging in overt acts of aggression, is employing a realpolitik strategy; using primarily covert militarism to appease the desires of NeoConservative hawks in Congress, and its more zealous regional influences emanating from Riyadh and Tel Aviv, while avoiding the possibility of being dragged into another overt military intervention.

In turn, this double-edged strategy feeds the false public perception of the American Empire, which the pseudo-pragmatists and neoliberal propagandists are so eager to uphold and is so fundamental to US Empire-building; that of an inherently altruistic force, acting as global arbiter, grudgingly subverting, invading, bombing, and intervening in sovereign nations affairs for the good of all mankind. As long as this false perception is upheld, the sharp-edge to the grotesque charade of US realpolitik – that of covert militarism and state-sponsored terrorism – continues unabated. Clearly, the US Empire is in no rush to end the bloodshed in Syria, its priorities, as they have been since the start of 2011, are to remove, or at least severely disable and weaken the Syrian government and state, regardless of the consequences to the civilian population.

By using its control of state-funding, the arms flow, and therefore the strength and capabilities of the insurgency as a whole, the Obama administration has employed futile carrot and stick tactics in attempts to pressure the Syrian government during the current negotiations phase into acceding to US demands and giving up its sovereignty – with both the US-led alliance, and Syria and its international allies, primarily Russia and Iran, in the full knowledge the rebels lack both the domestic support, and manpower necessary, to oust Assad or defeat the Syrian army alone. Recent reports allude to the stick of US Democracy having its most recent outing in the form of “new”  and improved weapons supplies to the rebels, allegedly including MANPADS. This comes immediately off the back of the designed-to-fail Geneva “peace” talks and can be interpreted as a direct result of Washington’s failure to enforce their objectives: the stick is an endless supply of state-sponsored terrorism, the carrot is turning off the tap.

Whether the “new” arms shipments actually increase the rebels ability to inflict damage on the Syrian government remains to be seen, and is highly improbable at this stage as the Syrian army moves into the Qalamoun mountains to liberate the rebel-held town of Yabroud, in turn securing vital transit and logistical routes from Lebanon. The likely outcome of an increased arms flow to the rebels in the south, as evidenced at every interval of US-instigated militarization, will be a repeat of the same devastating results: more civilian displacement, adding to the already critical refugee crisis; more rebel destruction of civilian infrastructure, adding to further food and utility shortages; and many more lives lost.

“Lebanonization” a substitute for regime change?

As is proving to be the case, if the United States and its allies are incapable of removing the Syrian government via proxy forces without an increasingly unpopular Western military intervention, and Assad’s position and domestic support remain steadfast, then a Lebanonization strategy may well be the substitute “optimal scenario” the US and its allies are now working toward.

 Encouraging, exacerbating, and inciting division between Arabs has been the long-term strategy for the Zionist establishment since the colonialists first usurped Palestinian land in 1948 – with specific effort made toward fomenting conflict along sectarian lines. The strategy of division is directed toward any Arab state or government that refuses to abide by Zionist demands. Israeli strategist Oded Yinon’s now infamous “A strategy for Israel in the 1980′s” – dubbed the Yinon Plan – provides perhaps the clearest account of Israel’s intentions toward its Arab neighbours:

The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional local governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world … The dissolution of Syria, and later Iraq, into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is Israel’s main long-range objective on the Eastern front. The present military weakening of these states is the short-range objective. Syria will disintegrate into several states along the lines of its ethnic and religious structure … As a result, there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state, the district of Aleppo will be a Sunni state, and the district of Damascus another state which is hostile to the northern one. The Druze – even those of the Golan – should forma state in Hauran and in northern Jordan … the oil-rich but very divided and internally strife-ridden Iraq is certainly a candidate to fill Israel’s goals … Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation … will hasten the achievement of the supreme goal, namely breaking up Iraq into elements like Syria and Lebanon.

When viewed in this context, it can be no coincidence that US Secretary of State John Kerry is desperately pursuing a fait accompli with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Contrary to the sickening media portrayal of the US as impartial peacebroker, Kerry’s eagerness to pursue a “deal” at this moment in time is a direct result of the Syrian conflict, and the divisions within the resistance camp it has created. The US and Israel are now attempting to force through an Israeli-oriented “peace deal” with the corrupt PA that will inevitably be both a failure, and against the Palestinians interests. Staunch allies of Palestinian resistance, currently bogged down fighting Al Qaeda ideologues in Syria and defusing car-bombs bound for Dahiyeh, are in no position to support the Palestinians against Israel in their hour of need, the US and Israel fully grasp the importance of isolating genuine Palestinian resistance from the few Arab states and actors it receives support. In his latest speech, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah reminded his listeners of this very crucial issue:

“the US Administration is seeking, along with the Zionist Administration to put an end to the Palestinian cause, and it considers that this is the best time for that because the Arab and Islamic worlds are absent today, and every country is occupied with its own problems.”

In a similar fashion, the US has used the Syrian conflict as a lever against Iran in the nuclear negotiations, Washington’s longstanding attempts to pacify and subordinate an independent Iran has undoubtedly played a major role in US policy on Syria – perhaps the defining role. Consequently, both the Palestinian and Iranian conflicts with Israel and the United States are now, as they have always been intended to some extent in US calculations, inextricably linked to resolving the Syrian crisis.

True to form, Israel’s evident glee at the destruction in Syria and overt preference for the removal of Assad and the Syrian government, with the devastation that would entail, has proven at times hard for them to conceal. Furthering the point, just one of many examples of Israeli-rebel collusion came in a recent report from the National (falsely portraying the rebels Israel is “reaching out” to as ostensibly “moderate”) which relayed that hundreds of rebels have received treatment in Israeli hospitals and been sent back into Syria with up to a $1000 in cash. Israel have made further efforts to consolidate contacts with the rebels in the south, regardless of the level of fundamentalism, and cooperated with rebel factions during the Israeli bombings on Latakia and Damascus.

 In a feeble attempt to whitewash this collusion, Israeli propagandists are busily spreading the misinformation that Israel is facilitating the Druze community in the south of Syria; yet the Druze community are firmly allied with the Syrian government. In reality, Israeli attempts to cultivate relations with the communities and rebels in the south should be correctly viewed as attempts to create enforced “safe-zones” around the occupied Golan Heights, in furtherance of the Zionists land-grabbing expansionist aspirations. Accordingly, Israel’s fraudulent neutrality is completely exposed by their collusion with the rebels to meet their own interests, and overt acts of aggression against the Syrian army.

There are many other indications that allude to prominent factions of the US alliance being preferable of, and encouraging an outcome of division, most notably Israel, but simple logic determines that Saudi Arabia, Israel’s most vital strategic partner in the region, and the actor from within the US alliance that possesses the most material influence and political will to support fundamentalists and terrorism, would also approve of the disintegration of the Syrian state, primarily viewing it as a blow to “Shi’a expansion”. The Saudi and Gulf fixation on sectarian themes, to mask what are essentially politically oriented conflicts, is also intentionally built to intensify the strategy of division in multi-ethnic, religiously plural societies – as evidenced in virtually every country fundamentalist Gulf proxies have been unleashed upon, most recently in Libya.

Yet even the Saudi’s have limits to their own capabilities and decisions, ultimately they rely on the military largesse and protection of the United States, and will therefore reign in the terrorist networks if push comes to shove. Hence, the recent Saudi attempts to dissociate from Al Qaeda and the various extremists fighting in Syria can be seen as largely cosmetic and for public consumption. In reality, the Saudi leadership see Al Qaeda and its extremist confrères as malleable proxies of no real threat to themselves, while constituting a critical component of Saudi foreign policy and covert aggression.

 Of far higher importance to both Israel and Saudi Arabia’s confluent interests in the region, which in turn play a critical role in US calculations, are the very states the fundamentalist proxies are currently being sponsored to wage war upon; namely, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. The disintegration of the resistance axis is the utmost priority for the states that drive US policy in the Middle East, the supposed “threat” faced by militant fundamentalist ideologues, originally created, and intermittently sponsored by the US and its allies, is merely an afterthought.

 The US Empire, in its efforts to contain, and therefore dominate and control such a strategic and resource-rich region, is more than content to allow its reactionary and sectarian clients to incite the conflict necessary to subvert, fracture and divide the inevitable power a unified Middle East could claim: if only their progressive aspirations and unity were not repeatedly “set back” by Zionist occupation and manufactured antagonism.

Phil Greaves is a UK based writer on UK/US Foreign Policy, with a focus on the Arab World, post WWII. http://notthemsmdotcom.wordpress.com/

 The US is at the dawn of “a new era in police surveillance,” the Associated Press revealed casually last week. In a Chicago-based story about the growing use of drones and other sophisticated, unmanned aircraft for aerial surveillance, it noted that the Congressional Research Service considers their future use “bound only by human ingenuity.”The story focused on one Illinois legislator who has proposed a limit on how far law enforcement agencies can go.

But bills have been introduced in almost 40 states, and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee has two model ordinances to assist communities in the emerging movement against domestic surveillance drones. This isn’t science fiction, although the threat of an emerging Surveillance State does figure in my forthcoming novel, Dons of Time.

As I learned while researching, drones already fly pretty freely in US airspace. Law enforcement groups use them for search and rescue operations, for security along the border (mainly the one with Mexico so far), for weather research and scientific data collection. In fact, last year Congress authorized the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to open the nation’s airspace to widespread drone flights by 2015.

The FAA estimates that more than 7,000 civilian drones could be surfing the sky by 2020.

As Bill of Rights Defense Committee Executive Director Shahid Buttar explains, “Because the legal landscape governing drones is essentially barren, law enforcement agencies around the country are currently making policy to suit their interests. But we live in a constitutional Republic, meaning that We the People hold the opportunity — and responsibility — to petition our local representatives for legal protections that Congress is too timid to provide.”

In Seattle, the police department purchased two drones through a federal grant, but opted not to use them after protests in February. A bill barring Virginia law enforcement from using drones for two years passed the General Assembly months ago, but awaits a response from the governor. The National Conference of State Legislatures has heard about more than 70 bills in around 40 states that address the use of drones.

The Defense Committee’s legislative models are designed to satisfy diverse interests. One creates a drone-free zone, while another establishes strict requirements limiting their use by law enforcement agencies and other public officials. The model regulating drone use (rather than outlawing it) allows them to be used with a judicially issued warrant or for limited non-law enforcement purposes like fire detection, hazardous material response, search & rescue, and natural disasters.

Beyond constitutional concerns, proposed legislation also addresses some safety issues. According to Buttar, many of the drones currently available to law enforcement have limited flying time, can’t be flown in bad weather, must be flown in sight of an operator, and can only be used during daylight hours, “making them ill-suited to search and rescue missions and best suited for pervasive surveillance.”

On the other hand, AP points to some of the attractions driving the rush to drone use. Unmanned aircraft vary widely in size and capability. They can be as small as a bird or look like a children’s remote-controlled toy, and yet can be equipped with high-powered cameras, microphones, heat sensors, facial recognition technology or license plate readers. Similar technology has been used by the US military and CIA to track down Al-Qaida operatives abroad.

Law enforcement likes drones because they’re relatively cheap; they reportedly keep down the price by cutting fuel and maintenance costs, as well as reducing manpower. Look at it this way: A police helicopter can cost from $500,000 to $3 million, and about $400 an hour to fly. It can be “affordable” snooping for those with the means of surveillance.

Eleições em El Salvador e a China na América Central

February 18th, 2014 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

O escândalo de corrupção em El Salvador, que envolveu Francisco Flores, presidente do país de 1999 a 2004, abriu caminho para o reconhecimento da República Popular da China pelo governo que sucedeu Flores em San Salvador, que a Frente de Libertação Nacional Farabundo Marti (FMLN/FLNFM) não conseguiu consumar durante o mandato do presidente Mauricio Funes. O escândalo que envolveu Flores criou a oportunidade política adequada para que a FLNFM venha a romper formalmente os laços diplomáticos com Taiwan (conhecida formalmente como República da China), se, em março de 2014, for eleito o candidato da FLNFM. [1]

Essa questão diplomática expõe também a coordenação, por trás das cortinas, que está em andamento entre Pequim e Taipei. Vê-se aí um quadro de cordialidade, que mais provavelmente levará à unificação entre Taiwan e a China, que um quadro de rivalidades. Nem Pequim nem Taipei têm criado obstáculos, os dois lados reconhecendo que, afinal, haverá uma só China.

Francisco Flores e a oligarquia salvadorenha

Francisco Flores foi presidente de El Salvador quando a Aliança Republicana Nacionalista, conhecida pela sigla ARENA, governava o país. É homem da corrupta oligarquia salvadorenha aliada dos EUA, que reduziu El Salvador aostatus de colônia de facto dos EUA que recebia ordens de Washington, DC. Exemplo desse relacionamento, foi durante o mandato do presidente Flores que El Salvador enviou centenas de soldados para participarem, com EUA e Reino Unido, da invasão e ocupação do Iraque.

A oligarquia salvadorenha sempre operou, em todos os campos, como elite “comprador”, o que significa que serviam como representantes ou gerentes locais de empresas, governos e interesses externos ao país. Nesse caso, a oligarquia salvadorenha “comprador” serviu coletivamente às elites dos EUA as quais, elas próprias, são elites parasitárias, porque sempre extraíram grande parte da riqueza e dos recursos locais dos países aos quais conseguiram impor sua influência. Historicamente, essas elites infiltraram-se nas estruturas e hierarquias do poder em toda a América Latina, ao mesmo tempo em que iam sendo erodidas as elites parasitárias locais originais, que sempre estiveram no topo da hierarquia econômica em todo o hemisfério ocidental. Vários países latino-americanos chegaram a ter um ministro ou funcionário do governo dos EUA que supervisionava o governo local e seus negócios diários.

Durante o governo de Flores e da ARENA, El Salvador perdeu a soberania monetária. O colón, moeda nacional de El Salvador, foi extinta por ordem de Flores; e substituíram o colón pelo dólar norte-americano, que passou a ser a moeda oficial de El Salvador. Assim El Salvador passou a integrar o grupo de vários territórios – EUA, Timor Leste, Panamá e Equador – onde a moeda oficial é o dólar norte-americano.

Também durante o governo da ARENA estabeleceram-se por lei, em El Salvador, inúmeros monopólios comerciais privados. Passou a ser crime – e, de fato, praticamente impossível – comprar medicamentos em El Salvador, exceto os que eram vendidos por Alfredo Cristiani, o oligarca, membro também da ARENA e presidente de El Salvador antes de Armando Calderón Sol.

Cristiani não apenas iniciou a reestruturação econômica neoliberal de El Salvador, como também usou o monopólio que tinha para a venda e distribuição de medicamentos em todo o país para impor preços exorbitantes e, até, vender medicamentos com prazo vencido de validade, sem qualquer punição. O mesmo aconteceu com fertilizantes e outros produtos agrícolas, todos incluídos no mesmo monopólio que pertencia a Cristiani. O governo da ARENA não queria saber de concorrência. Além disso, Cristiani privatizou o sistema bancário de El Salvador, entregando à própria família a Banco Cuscatlan, que a família logo depois vendeu ao Citibank, interessado em expandir sua influência pela América Central.

Embora ainda haja corrupção em El Salvador, a base criminosa dos governos anteriores, todos da ARENA, já tem sido amplamente reconhecida até em investigações e inquéritos presididos pela própria polícia. Arquivos da inteligência da polícia comprovam que todos os presidentes, ministros da Justiça e diretores de órgãos de polícia em El Salvador sempre mantiveram ligações com o crime organizado; que isso só começou a mudar depois que o primeiro governo da FLNFM chegou ao governo em San Salvador. Além disso, Alfredo Cristiani, muito amigo do Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI) e do Banco Mundial, já foi denunciado como “pai” do crime organizado em El Salvador.

Os autores da “Opção Salvador”

Antes de a ARENA ser oficialmente constituída, os mesmos oligarcas usaram o exército e a polícia para gerar uma guerra viciosa, com alto envolvimento do governo dos EUA e do Pentágono, contra a população nativa de El Salvador, indígenas, camponeses, pobres, sindicatos, intelectuais, a Igreja Católica Romana e qualquer grupo que falasse de democracia e direitos iguais para todos. A repressão brutal e a consequente guerra civil em El Salvador foi parte dos esforços da oligarquia salvadorenha para manter o controle sobre a sociedade local.

Foi sob o comando desses oligarcas que a infame Opção Salvador cresceu, gerada por esquadrões da morte alinhados com os norte-americanos, que exterminariam vilas inteiras, com requintes de crueldade, e dos modos mais grotescos. Usaram-se furadores de gelo para furar olhos e deformar faces, arrancavam-se pernas e braços. O assassinado do arcebispo Oscar Romero, líder da Igreja Católica Romana em San Salvador e que foi assassinado quando rezava missa, é apenas um dos assassinatos daquele período. O cabeça do assassinato de Romero, major Roberto D’Aubuisson, seria, adiante, um dos fundadores da ARENA.

Mas o assassinato do arcebispo Romero, porém, foi uma das muitas atrocidades que aqueles oligarcas cometeram, com pleno conhecimento, apoio, ajuda e envolvimento de Washington. Os comandantes militares salvadorenhos eram treinados na infame “Escola das Américas” e pelo Pentágono, e muitas das técnicas de tortura e assassinato que os esquadrões da morte usaram em El Salvador foram ensinadas por instrutores militares norte-americanos. Mais que isso: incontáveis combatentes guerrilheiros salvadorenhos lembram-se de ter combatido contra soldados norte-americanos e de ouvir ordens de ataque, transmitidas por rádio, para bombardear a selva e vilarejos no interior de El Salvador, ditas tanto em inglês quanto em espanhol.

Quase toda a população indígena nativa de El Salvador seria exterminada por aqueles oligarcas. Famílias inteiras assassinadas e suas terras e casas saqueadas ou destruídas. Nem crianças nem animais domésticos foram poupados. Estupro e violação de sepulturas foram práticas sistemáticas e frequentes.

Um dos piores massacres foi cometido dia 11/12/1981. Aconteceu na vila de El Mozote, no Departamento de Morazan. 800 civis desarmados, inclusive crianças, foram torturados, humilhados, estuprados e assassinados por uma unidade de operações treinada nos EUA.

Restos do massacre de El Mozote realizado por MILICANALHAS salvadorenhos sob comando dos EUA.

Washington enviaria gente como James Steele e John Negroponte para o Iraque ocupado por ingleses e norte-americanos, para recriar lá o reinado de terror que os EUA ajudaram a criar em El Salvador. Exatamente os mesmos padrões e táticas de assassinato em massa e tortura seriam verificados no Iraque ocupado, o que indica fortemente que os EUA seriam a fonte dos esquadrões da morte ativos tanto em El Salvador como no Iraque ocupado.

Subornado por Taiwan?

Durante as investigações que a Assembleia Nacional e a Assembleia Legislativa de El Salvador conduziam no país, sobre a corrupção passada, foram encontrados 10 milhões de dólares norte-americanos, depositados na conta bancária de Francisco Flores. Interrogado sobre a origem de tanto dinheiro, Flores respondeu que recebera aquela quantia do governo de Taiwan; e disse que, de fato, recebera de Taiwan mais que aqueles 10 milhões. Foi depois que Flores tentara fugir – ou tentara fazer crer que fugira – de El Salvador (o que Flores fez depois de ser intimado a comparecer outra vez ante a Assembleia Nacional, às vésperas do primeiro turno das eleições presidenciais de 2014 em El Salvador, realizadas dia 2/2/2014).

Os fundos que Francisco Flores recebeu eram, de fato, parte de uma série de pagamentos secretos feitos anualmente por Taiwan. Taiwan sempre manteve laços estreitos com El Salvador e a América Central. Além de posicionar-se próximo dos estados da América Latina cujos governos eram patrocinados pelos EUA, o governo de Taiwan também se uniu aos EUA e a Israel para dar apoio aos oligarcas em El Salvador, contra a FLNFM, durante a Guerra Civil Salvadorenha.

Os pagamentos secretos feitos por Taiwan a Flores foram combinados originalmente para impedir que El Salvador reconhecesse o governo de Pequim como legítimo governo da China. Mas, embora os pagamentos, que originalmente eram “anti-Pequim” (uma espécie de “prêmio” dado por Taiwan por El Salvador reconhecer Taiwan, em vez de reconhecer o governo em Pequim) tenham sido mantidos, tudo sugere que passaram a acontecer em contexto que se ia transformando, com sentimentos anti-Pequim cada dia menos dominantes. Taiwan manteve os pagamentos para assegurar tratamento preferencial aos seus interesses comerciais e para obter concessões em El Salvador – inclusive um monopólio sobre o setor geotérmico salvadorenho, que é propriedade, completamente, de Taiwan.

Vale a pena observar que o governo de El Salvador e Taipei trocaram informações sobre o escândalo da corrupção nos dois países. Isso se deveu, em parte, ao fato de que Chen Shui-bian era o presidente, quando seu governo enviou dinheiro a Flores. Shui-bian e a esposa estão já presos em Taiwan, condenados por crimes de corrupção; e provavelmente há ainda um inquérito em andamento em Taipei examinando o papel de Shui-bian e seus associados em todo o processo.

A China, estrela em ascensão

A República Popular da China é ator cada vez mais importante na América Latina. Um dos importantes projetos que envolve a China na região é a construção de um mega canal que ligará o Oceano Atlântico ao Pacífico, como um segundo Canal do Panamá.

As alternativas de rotas para construção, pela China, do Canal da Nicarágua.

Esse segundo Canal do Panamá terá base na Nicarágua, e será chamado de “Grande Canal da Nicarágua”. O governo da Nicarágua já assinou um acordo, em 2012, com uma empresa recém-criada, com sede em Hong Kong – Nicaragua Canal Development Investiment Co.Ltd., controlada por um magnata chinês das comunicações, para atrair investimentos internacionais para construir o canal. O projeto deve ser iniciado em meses. [2]

Quando a Frente de Libertação Nacional Farabundo Marti (FLMN/FLNFM) conseguiu eleger Mauricio Funes à presidência, conseguiu dele também que imediatamente estabelecesse relações diplomáticas com Cuba, já no dia da posse, 1/6/2009. Antes, o governo da ARENA sempre se recusara a ter qualquer contato com Havana e colaborava com os EUA em seu bloqueio a Cuba, para opor-se a Venezuela e aos aliados da Venezuela na região. A FLNFM também estabeleceu relações diplomáticas com o Vietnã, o Camboja e a Rússia. Mas Funes, por inúmeros fatores, não reatou relações com a República Popular da China.

El Salvador não reconheceu Pequim, por oposição pessoal do próprio presidente Funes – o mesmo que, agora, está deixando a presidência de El Salvador.

Mauricio Funes, ex-empregado da rede CNN e conhecido apresentador de televisão foi apenas apoiado pela FLMFN. Funes não é membro, nem jamais foi da FLNFM, como muitos, fora de El Salvador supõem. Nos termos do acordo firmado entre Funes e a FLNFM, as pastas do gabinete do governo salvadorenho foram divididas entre a FLNFM e indivíduos “não-FLNFM” (chamados popularmente de “Amigos de Funes”), indicados pelo presidente. Sob esse acordo de divisão do poder, Funes controlaria questões estratégicas, a economia nacional e o secretariado para reformas políticas; e a FLNFM se encarregaria dos ministérios responsáveis pelo atendimento à saúde, à educação e a segurança. [3] Nesse contexto, Funes conseguiu impedir o reconhecimento da República Popular da China e manteve em marcha lenta as reformas políticas e econômicas que a FLNFM desejava.

Quando, afinal, o governo de El Salvador fez algum primeiro movimento oficial em direção a Pequim, o governo chinês manifestou frieza quanto à ideia de estabelecer laços diplomáticos. Isso, muito provavelmente, por causa da demora daquele primeiro contato, que o governo chinês pode ter interpretado como insulto à dignidade do governo de Pequim.

Embora a FLNFM, como partido político, tenha laços diretos com a República Popular da China através dos órgãos de política internacional da própria FLNFM, e tenha sido várias vezes convidada a visitar Pequim, não há dúvidas de que, chegada à presidência com candidato seu, a FLNFM cuidará de estabelecer laços diplomáticos formais com Pequim. É o que se espera que aconteça, se a FLNFM vencer o segundo turno das eleições presidenciais, que acontecerão em março de 2014. Nesse contexto, um segundo mandato presidencial da FLNFM, dessa vez com candidato à presidência, será a oportunidade para que a FLMN e o governo de El Salvador corrijam o erro e reconheçam Pequim.

O governo de El Salvador e a FLNFM deixaram claro para Taiwan que El Salvador, sim, planeja reconhecer Pequim como legítimo governo da China. Interessante observar que não houve qualquer oposição de Taiwan, a essa decisão. Nem o fim de laços diplomáticos entre San Salvador e Taipei põem fim aos laços comerciais com El Salvador. De fato, vê-se que há algum tipo de coordenação silenciosa entre Taiwan e a República Popular da China, no que tenha a ver com esse movimento, que se inscreve no contexto da unificação chinesa.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

 

Strategic Culture Foundation  (SCF)16/2/2014.
 
Traduzido pelo pessoal da Vila Vudu.
Notas dos tradutores
[1] O primeiro turno das eleições aconteceram em 2/2/2014; o segundo turno está marcado para 19/3/2014. Sobre os candidatos e a respectiva posição eleitoral, ver 2/2/2014,Agência Brasil, em: OEA observa eleições presidenciais em El Salvador
[2] Pode-se ler também sobre o Canal da Nicarágua, o porto de Mariel em Cuba e o Brasil em português.
[3] A FLNFM ocupou a vice-presidência, com Sánchez Cerén, atual candidato da FLNFM à presidência.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya é cientista social, escritor premiado, colunista e pesquisador. Suas obras são reconhecidas internacionalmente em uma ampla série de publicações e foram traduzidas para mais de vinte idiomas, incluindo alemão, árabe, italiano, russo, turco, espanhol, português, chinês, coreano, polonês, armênio, persa, holandês e romeno. Seu trabalho em ciências geopolíticas e estudos estratégicos tem sido usado por várias instituições acadêmicas e de defesa de teses em universidades e escolas preparatórias de oficiais militares. É convidado freqüente em redes internacionais de notícias como analista de geopolítica e especialista em Oriente Médio.
 
Atualmente, em viagem pela América Central, está com a Frente Sandinista de Libertação Nacional, em sua base em León, na Nicarágua. Esteve como observador internacional em El Salvador, no primeiro turno das eleições em El Salvador, onde esteve em contato com funcionários do governo salvadorenho.

US and EU Are Paying Ukrainian Rioters and Protesters

February 17th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

A number of confirmations have come in from readers that Washington is fueling the violent protests in Ukraine with our taxpayer dollars. Washington has no money for food stamps or to prevent home foreclosures, but it has plenty of money with which to subvert Ukraine.

One reader wrote:

“My wife, who is of Ukrainian nationality, has weekly contact to her parents and friends in Zhytomyr [NW Ukraine]. According to them, most protesters get an average payment of 200-300 grivna, corresponding to about 15-25 euro. As I additionally heard, one of the most active agencies and ‘payment outlets’ on EU side is the German ‘Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’, being closely connected to the CDU, i.e. Mrs. Merkel’s party.”

Johannes Loew of the Internet site elynitthria.net/ writes:

“I am just back from Ukraine (I live in Munich/Germany) and I was a lot at the Maidan. Most of those people get only 100 grivna. 300 is for Students.”

As I reported on February 12, “Washington Orchestrated Protests Are Destabilizing Ukraine,”

Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, a rabid Russophobe and neoconservative warmonger, told the National Press Club last December that the US has “invested” $5 billion in organizing a network to achieve US goals in Ukraine in order to give “Ukraine the future it deserves.” 

Nuland is the Obama regime official who was caught red-handed naming the members of the Ukrainian government Washington intends to impose on the Ukrainian people once the paid protesters have unseated the current elected and independent government.

What Nuland means by Ukraine’s future under EU overlordship is for Ukraine to be looted like Latvia and Greece and to be used by Washington as a staging ground for US missile bases against Russia.

From the responses I received to my request for confirmations of the information sent to me from Moldova,  there is enough evidence that Washington fomented the violent riots for western newspapers and TV channels to investigate. But they haven’t. As we know, the presstitutes are enablers of Washington’s crimes and duplicities. However, the US media has reported that the Ukrainian government is paying Ukrainians to rally in favor of the government.

The Ukrainian government will have a hard time matching Washington’s $5 billion.

As Karl Marx wrote, money turns everything into a commodity that is bought and sold. I wouldn’t be surprised if some protesters are working both sides of the street.

Of course, not all of the protesters are paid. There are plenty of gullible dupes in the streets who think they are protesting Ukraine government corruption. I have heard from several. There is little doubt that the Ukraine government is corrupt. What government isn’t? Government corruption is universal, but it is easy to go from the frying pan into the fire. Ukrainian protesters seem to think that they can escape corruption by joining the EU. Obviously, these gullible dupes are unfamiliar with the report on EU corruption issued February 3 by the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. The report says that a business-political nexus of corruption affects all 28 EU member countries and costs the EU economies $162.2 billion per annum.

According to the World Bank, the economic cost of EU corruption is almost as large as the size of Ukrainian GDP. http://data.worldbank.org/country/ukraine Clearly, Ukrainians will not escape corruption by joining the EU. Indeed, Ukrainians will suffer worse corruption.

I have no objection to Ukrainians protesting government corruption. Indeed, such gullible people could benefit from the lesson they would learn once their country is in the hands of corrupt Brussels and Washington. What I object to is the lack of awareness on the part of the protesters that by permitting themselves to be manipulated by Washington, they are pushing the world toward a dangerous war. I would be surprised if Russia is content to have US military and missile bases in Ukraine.

It was fools like Nuland playing the great game that gave us World War I. World War III would be the last war. Washington’s drive to exploit every opportunity to establish its hegemony over the world is driving us all to nuclear war. Like Nuland, a significant percentage of the population of western Ukraine are Russophobes.

I know the case for Ukrainian dislike of Russia, but Ukrainian emotions fueled with Washington’s money should not direct the course of history. No historians will be left to document how gullible and witless Ukrainians set the world up for destruction.

First published by Who What Why

If you’re a small town or perhaps a university security department, the US Department of Defense has got a deal for you!

Thanks to the ending of the Iraq War, and the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has 11,000 heavily armored vehicles that it has no use for.  Called MRAPs—Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected—they are designed to protect against AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and IEDs. And as pitchman Paul Richards used to say of the ’69 Pontiac Firebird, “They’re practically giving them away!”

Correction, they are giving them away.

Nashville, TN, Police BearCatNashville, TN, Police BearCat

All a local police department has to do to get itself an 18-ton MRAP—which originally cost taxpayers between $400,000-$700,000 complete with gun turret and bullet-proof windows—is send a few cops to pick it up and pay for the gas.

There are a few downsides: the things get only five miles to the gallon, can’t go over most bridges, or under them, and have a nasty habit of tipping over on rough terrain.

For departments that find them too unwieldy, the Homeland Security Department is also offering grants to communities so they can buy smaller Lenco BearCats, lighter armored military-style vehicles that run about $280,000.

Since last summer, police departments across the country have taken possession of 165 DOD surplus MRAPs, and there are another 731 requests for the 14-foot-high vehicles. Even Ohio State University police got their hands on one, saying it would provide a “police presence” at football games.  Most of the rest of the vehicles to date have gone to smaller community police forces—everywhere from Farmington, NM (pop. 45,000) to Hamburg Village, NY (pop. 9,500).

The number of BearCats purchased with Homeland Security grants isn’t readily available, but they were on conspicuous display in and around Boston last year during the metro-area-wide martial law lockdown while police and National Guard searched for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the wounded and unarmed 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Police BearCat and automatic weapons, Boston lockdown

Police BearCat and automatic weapons, Boston lockdown (left)

For the most part, Americans don’t seem to question the use of military vehicles by their local police, but some communities are starting to object. In Concord, New Hampshire, for instance, 1500 residents last fall signed a petition opposing their town’s use of a $258,000 federal Homeland Security grant to purchase a BearCat for the local police department.

The Concord Monitor reported that most of those opposing the purchase said they feared further militarization of their local police. Despite the opposition, the town government went ahead with the acquisition anyway.

Beating the MRAP

Enter State Representative J.R. Hoell, a libertarian Republican who represents Dunbarton, NH, just outside of Concord. Hoell recently introduced a bill, the Police Equipment and Community Engagement (PEACE) Act, in the state legislature.

The proposed legislation is now in committee. If it’s passed and signed into law by the governor, state and municipal agencies in New Hampshire will be barred from buying or even accepting free offers of “military style equipment” for police use, except with the approval of the assembled citizenry at a public town meeting.

That prohibition would include not just MRAPS and BearCats, but also things like fully automatic weapons or anything that is not “available in an open commercial market.” These restrictions would not apply to the National Guard.


Rep. Hoell spoke to us about his bill

QQ截图20140217085651

WhoWhatWhy:  Why did you introduce this bill?

Rep. Hoell:  I introduced the bill because the citizens of Concord were overwhelmingly opposed to their police department having MRAP vehicles and it was ordered anyway. I don’t see any reason for police to have armored vehicles, or even fully automatic weapons.

WhoWhatWhy: Why are you opposed to police having military equipment?

Rep. Hoell:  The role of the state is to make sure the citizens have the best law enforcement and not one that’s overly militarized. Whatever happened to police wearing blue? Now they are dressed in black, head to toe, and when they go to serve warrants at people’s homes, they break the door down, and they wear masks.

WhoWhatWhy:  Why the masks?

Rep. Hoell: I don’t know, maybe it’s a military thing. But it is not community policing.

WhoWhatWhy: What kind of support are you getting for this bill?

Hoell: I’m getting support from citizens of the state across the political spectrum.

WhoWhatWhy:  Why do you think police in this country are becoming increasingly militarized?

Rep. Hoell:  I can’t speculate about why this is happening, but I know that the citizens don’t want it. It needs to stop.

 

A date for national elections has been set in the Republic of South Africa for May 7. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) will mark two decades in power hoping to maintain control of the post-apartheid state.

Rallies for the ANC in various parts of the country have been met with enthusiasm from the people. An election manifesto is calling for a jobs-creation program for six million and the acceleration of land reform which has been stalled since 1994.

Nonetheless, there are attempts to build an electoral opposition to the national liberation movement turned political party. The Democratic Alliance (DA) headed by Helen Zille organized a demonstration to the national headquarters of the ANC at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.

The march almost resulted in serious violence between thousands of DA supporters and members of the ruling party who had come to Luthuli House to defend the headquarters from what they perceived as a hostile political attack. Some ANC Youth League members were reported to have carried bricks and police utilized crowd control tactics to restrain members from ruling party and the largest opposition bloc in parliament, the DA. (SABC, Feb. 12)

Zille is the former mayor of Cape Town and has sought to recruit Africans into the opposition party which is perceived as being a white-dominated alliance between former Nationalist Party members, liberals and opportunistic elements who are disgruntled with the ANC. The DA announced that former Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) activist, Dr. Mamphele Ramphele, a comrade of the martyred leader Steve Biko killed by the apartheid state in 1977, would run on the DA ticket after a merger with her own Agang party.

This short-lived political marriage of convenience ended before it started. Acrimony was expressed between Zille and Ramphele.

The Role of Workers and Youth in the Electoral Process

The ANC is seeking to appeal directly to the so-called “born frees” generation that came into existence after the first non-racial democratic elections of 1994. It is also essential that the party garners the majority of the working class vote throughout the country.

A strike in the main platinum-producing region in the world in the northwest is a major factor in the upcoming elections and the overall economic future of South Africa. 80,000 miners who are members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) have been on strike for nearly four weeks.

Platinum prices have declined in recent years although the impact in production during the strike may raise prices. Recently the owners of Anglo-American Platinum (Amplats) filed court papers against AMCU to end the strike.

A spokesperson for Amplats, which is the world’s largest producer of the strategic mineral, said that “There are increased costs to pay protection services staff overtime, damage to property, and losses occasioned by the loss of production because non-striking workers are being prevented from going to work,” Mpumi Sithole told Reuters. “There is evidence of illegal actions of violence and intimidation and breaching of the picketing rules,” she said. (Feb. 16)

An article published in the Financial Times illustrates that Amplats and other platinum owners are preparing for a protracted struggle with organized labor. These developments will test the ANC in its ability to resolve the current crisis in the industry where the bosses have threatened to lay-off up to 14,000 workers.

This Financial Times articles says that “The platinum price is still more than 35 per cent below its record high reached almost six years ago. The market has been weighed down by large above-ground stocks and failed attempts by miners such as Amplats, responsible for 40 per cent of world supply, to reduce output.” (Feb. 17)

With specific reference to the ruling party and its bid to remain politically dominant in South Africa, the same article notes

“Concerned by job losses set against a backdrop of an unemployment rate that is close to a quarter of the working population, the ruling African National Congress has kept pressure on companies to keep mines open. At the same time, Europe’s automotive industry has experienced the worst slump in sales for about two decades. However, the outlook has started to brighten, say analysts. “

AMCU is a staunch rival of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) which was previously the largest affiliate of the two million-member Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), an ally of the ruling ANC that was formed at the height of the liberation struggle in 1985. AMCU appears to be opposed to the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) and their influence within the trade union movement.

Reuters observed of the situation that

“AMCU has emerged as the dominant union on South Africa’s platinum belt over the past two years after poaching tens of thousands of members from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which is allied to the ruling African National Congress. The vicious union turf war erupted into violence in the platinum sector last year and has killed dozens of people. In August 2012, police shot dead 34 striking AMCU miners at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, South Africa’s bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994. The killings spooked investors and hit the country’s credit ratings.” (Feb. 16)

At the same time the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) secretary-general Irwin Jim said that his labor organization, which is currently the largest COSATU affiliate, would not support the ANC in the upcoming May 7 elections. It is not clear what impact the NUMSA electoral position will have on their members and supporters.

The NUMSA position on the ANC, SACP and COSATU alliance is that the interests of the working class is being subordinated to the maintenance of state power by the ruling party. NUMSA is demanding a special national congress of COSATU to address the suspension of former secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi, who has been accused of violating union rules and acting in a manner that is not above reproach.

NUMSA has nine affiliates which supports its view while other affiliates of COSATU have called for Vavi to be disciplined within the trade union federation structures. COSATU’s current leadership has severely criticized the posture of NUMSA and questioned whether it should be expelled.

These divisions within COSATU and the role of AMCU in the platinum sectors raised a number of questions in light of the upcoming elections and the future of working class politics. Will NUMSA eventually call for the formation of an independent labor party as an alternative to the ANC-SACP-COSATU alliance or is it prepared to stay within the coalition a fight for its views?

In addition, what impact will the AMCU-led strikes have on the mobilizations by the ANC for the May 7 vote? Will the working class in South Africa, which is 70 percent unorganized outside of any union, be influenced within the electoral arena by the political struggles taking place within the labor movement and the attacks on the ANC by the DA?

These debates and political struggles within the union movement are coupled with the continuing unrest in the townships over service delivery issues. The ANC is seeking to run on its record of home constructions, affirmative action within government and private industry, the building of a rapid transit train system, healthcare reforms and its influence in foreign policy areas such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), its entry into the Brazil, India, China, Brazil and now South Africa Summit (BRICS), the hosting of the World Soccer Cup in 2010, among other developments.

Nonetheless, there are still millions which remain without adequate housing, public education, utility services, living wages, land and environmentally safe communities and municipalities. The DA is attempting to utilize these realities and channel them into an electoral campaign that will weaken the ANC’s two-thirds majority within the national parliament.

Reuters conveyed in a recent article that “Zuma, whose popularity has dipped in polls ahead of general elections on May 7, also touched on a recent wave of violent protests by residents of black townships unhappy with their living conditions. In the last three months, South Africa has seen around 30 ‘service delivery’ protests a day, but Zuma put a positive spin on the unrest, saying it was a sign of government success creating higher expectations among communities.” (Feb. 13)

This same report quotes President Zuma as pointing out that

“When 95 percent of households have access to water, the 5 percent who still need to be provided for feel they cannot wait a moment longer. Success is also the breeding ground of rising expectations.”

South Africa has the largest economy and working class on the continent of Africa. The outcome of the May 7 elections will portend much for the immediate future of the class struggle in Africa.

A new identity and a precious Canadian passport for a fugitive Mossad agent. A honeypot security officer working for Canadian immigration romancing an Iranian-Canadian businessman, and letting the cat out of the bag.

Who needs John le Carre? The smitten Canadian, Trina Kennedy, a senior national security investigator at Passport Canada, revealed to tall, dark and handsome Arian Azarbar that one of the 27 Mossad agents who assassinated Palestinian Hamas member Mahmoud al-Mabouh in 2010 in Dubai had escaped to Canada, where he was living under a new name, as free as a Canada goose.

It is the perfect occasion for one of Iran’s many talented film directors to turn to the world of international espionage. Poor Iran certainly has been exposed to enough of it since its revolution in 1979, though you wouldn’t know it from reading the news or watching Hollywood movies.

The most well-known instance of Iran as the West’s cultural bête noire is “Argo”, Hollywood’s Best Picture in 2012, a tendentious retelling of the Canadian ambassador’s plot to help six American diplomats escape arrest in 1980 by issuing them with—surprise!—false Canadian passports. (The film’s inaccuracies compelled the Canadian diplomat involved, Ken Taylor, to make a documentary “Our Man in Tehran” the next year politely correcting the exaggerated role given the CIA and other egregious inaccuracies.)

What about the view that perhaps a touch of revenge by very angry Iranians against the US after decades of intrigue and subterfuge might have been in order? Intrigue that went into high gear after the Iranian revolution, as documents from the US embassy published by the Iranian government in the 1980s revealed. In defence of the angry young Iranian occupiers, the women and Afro-Americans were released immediately, and no American died or was tortured during the siege or ‘rendered’.

As relations between Iran and the US improve, it is perhaps best to let sleeping dogs lie. So a revisionist “Argo” is not likely in the near future. However, we can still fantasize a “Back to the Future”, given the latest intrigue involving Israeli, Canadian and Iranian spies, a love nest, and those false Canadian passports.

Our post-Hollywood script is a who-dunnit featuring Sam Spade, cynical private detective, willing to follow the trail of the most nefarious suspects. He notes there have been quite a few strange coincidences in Canadian-Israeli-Iranian relations since Conservative Steven Harper’s election in 2006 and the signing of a Canadian-Israeli public security cooperation “partnership” in 2008.

Sam is puzzled by the unprecedented barring of a British MP George Galloway in 2009, during his North American speaking tour to bring attention to the plight of the besieged Palestinians. At the forefront of the campaign to prevent Galloway from entering Canada was the Jewish Defence League (JDL).

Digging a bit deeper, Sam discovers that in 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli member of the JDL, opened fire on Muslims praying at the Cave of the Patriarchs mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron, killing 29 worshippers and injuring 125 before he ran out of ammunition and was himself killed. That the JDL called the incident a “preventative measure against yet another Arab attack on Jews” and noted that they “do not consider his assault to qualify under the label of terrorism”.

That the FBI nonetheless condemned the JDL in 2001 as a “violent extremist Jewish organization”, just prior to 9/11, and that JDL Canada disappeared under the radar after 9/11, but came alive again in 2006 with the arrival in Ottawa of  … Stephen Harper.

Fast forward to November 2012, when unceasing Israeli demands for an invasion of Iran reached a frenzied peak , with the breaking of diplomatic relations with Tehran by Ottawa, a few hours before “Argo” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Sam smells a rat.

The over-the-top Canadian parliamentary junket to Israel in January 2014 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Among the 208 Canadians who travelled with the PM were 77 Conservative donors, 21 rabbis, a handful of influential evangelical Christians, 32 registered lobbyists and … JDL Canada’s ‘event co-ordinator’ Julius Suraski.

‘How did a member of an organization labeled “violent extremist” by the FBI get on this junket?’ Sam ponders. Explains JDL Canada head Meir Weinstein, “Julius knows some people in the Conservative party.” Oh really?

Could JDL’s ‘event co-ordinator’ Suraski have anything to do with banning Galloway in 2009 as a “security risk”, the decision to cut diplomatic relations with Iran, or helping an accused assassin get a new Canadian identity?

Could it be that JDL Canada is the real security risk? After all, there’s that FBI ruling in 2001, and in 2011, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police launched an investigation against at least nine members of JDL Canada accused of plotting to bomb Palestine House in Mississauga.

Even the ultra-Zionist Canadian Jewish Congress is not big on ‘events’ organized by JDL Canada, such as their “support rally” in 2011 for the neofascist English Defence League at the Toronto Zionist Center. CJC leader Bernie Farber said he was “disappointed” and accused the EDL of “violence and extremism”. Hmmm. Think: FBI on the JDL.

An ‘event’ Suraski ‘co-ordinated’ last year was a Toronto speech by American Pamela Geller, founder of Stop Islamization of America, who was earlier prevented from entering the UK to address a rally of the same EDL. The British government ruled that her presence in the UK would “not be conducive to the public good”.

JDL Canada’s latest ‘event’ is to block the building of a seniors’ home for Muslims in Thornhill, a suburb of Toronto. A potential terrorist cell?

So is Suraski the bad guy here? But, surely Harper can have any friends he wants. Any advice Suraski whispers in Harper’s ear is, after all, strictly unofficial. In search of official ne’er-do-wells, our redoubtable Sam decides to look at a prominent official, Eden Attias, appointed as Canada’s first Israel military attaché in 2012.

Attias was intimately involved in both the invasion of Gaza in 2008 and the assault on the Turkish boat Mavi Marmara in 2010 in which nine Turkish citizens bringing aid to besieged Gaza were killed by Israeli troops. Attias’s actions were condemned by a group of remorseful ex-Israeli Defense Force members, and Turkish investigators charged him with murder.

When Attias arrived in Ottawa, freshly promoted, he remarked: “Israelis are starting to understand that Canada is a separate entity from the US.” Sounds good. Appeal to Canadian nationalism. But it seems what he really meant was: “The Canadian government is now a total Israeli patsy, unlike the US government, which would not countenance issuing false passports to our agents on demand. Thank you, little brother.”

Later, with his eye on Harper, Attias made this subtext clear at a public ecumenical prayer gathering in Ottawa, where he said, “On behalf of all the people of Israel, I would like to extend a sincere appreciation to you, the Evangelist community here in Canada for supporting Israel.”

Who dunnit? Who is responsible for this string of humiliating , criminal coincidences, for dragging Canada through the diplomatic mud? Banning a British MP, breaking diplomatic relations with a peaceful state, issuing a fugitive Mossad assassin a new identity on a shiny new Canadian passport? Suraski? Attias? How about Harper?

Top Six Reasons to Stop Fighting Wars

February 17th, 2014 by David Swanson

1.War is immoral.

Murder is the one crime that we’re taught to excuse if it’s done on a large enough scale. Morality demands that we not so excuse it. War is nothing other than murder on a large scale.

Over the centuries and decades, death counts in wars have grown dramatically, shifted heavily onto civilians rather than combatants, and been overtaken by injury counts as even greater numbers have been injured but medicine has allowed them to survive.arabwomenresistance300

Deaths are now due primarily to violence rather than to disease, formerly the biggest killer in wars.

Death and injury counts have also shifted very heavily toward one side in each war, rather than being evenly divided between two parties. Those traumatized, rendered homeless, and otherwise damaged far outnumber the injured and the dead.

The idea of a “good war” or a “just war” sounds obscene when one looks honestly at independent reporting on wars.

When we say that war goes back 10,000 years it’s not clear that we’re talking about a single thing, as opposed to two or more different things going by the same name. Picture a family in Yemen or Pakistan living under a constant buzz produced by a drone overhead. One day their home and everyone in it is shattered by a missile. Were they at war? Where was the battlefield? Where were their weapons? Who declared the war? What was contested in the war? How would it end?

Is it not perhaps the case that we have already ended war and now must end something else as well (a name for it might be: the hunting of humans)?

If we can change our manner of killing foreigners to render it almost unrecognizable, who’s to say we can’t eliminate the practice altogether?

Read more.

 2. War endangers us.

There are more effective tools than war for protection.

War planning leads to wars.

tank

 In arming, many factors must be considered: weapon-related accidents, malicious testing on human beings, theft, sales to allies who become enemies, and the distraction from efforts to reduce the causes of terrorism and war must all be taken into account. So, of course, must the tendency to use weapons once you have them.  And a nation’s stockpiling of weapons for war puts pressure on other nations to do the same. Even a nation that intends to fight only in defense, may understand “defense” to be the ability to retaliate against other nations. This makes it necessary to create the weaponry and strategies for aggressive war. When you put a lot of people to work planning something, when that project is in fact your largest public investment and proudest cause, it can be difficult to keep those people from finding opportunities to execute their plans. Read more.

 

War making provokes danger.

While the best defense in many sports may be a good offense, an offense in war is not defensive, not when it generates hatred, resentment, and blowback, not when the alternative is no war at all. Through the course of the so-called global war on terrorism, terrorism has been on the rise. This was predictable and predicted. The wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the abuses of prisoners during them, became major recruiting tools for anti-U.S. terrorism. In 2006, U.S. intelligence agencies produced a National Intelligence Estimate that reached just that conclusion. Read More.

War’s weapons risk intentional or accidental apocalypse.

We can either eliminate all nuclear weapons or we can watch them proliferate. There’s no middle way. We can either have no nuclear weapons states, or we can have many.
As long as some states have nuclear weapons others will desire them, and the more that have them the more easily they will spread to others still. If nuclear weapons continue to exist, there will very likely be a nuclear catastrophe, and the more the weapons have proliferated, the sooner it will come. Hundreds of incidents have nearly destroyed our world through accident, confusion, misunderstanding, and extremely irrational machismo. And possessing nuclear weapons does absolutely nothing to keep us safe, so that there is really no trade-off involved in eliminating them. They do not deter terrorist attacks by non-state actors in any way. Nor do they add an iota to a military’s ability to deter nations from attacking, given the United States’ ability to destroy anything anywhere at any time with non-nuclear weapons. The United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China have all lost wars against non-nuclear powers while possessing nukes. Read more.

3. War threatens our environment.

oiljets

A major motivation behind some wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas.

Oil can be leaked or burned off, as in the Gulf War, but primarily it is put to use in all kinds of machines polluting the earth’s atmosphere, placing us all at risk. Some associate the consumption of oil with the supposed glory and heroism of war, so that renewable energies that do not risk global catastrophe are viewed as cowardly and unpatriotic ways to fuel our machines.

The interplay of war with oil goes beyond that, however. The wars themselves, whether or not fought for oil, consume huge quantities of it. The world’s top consumer of oil, in fact, is the U.S. military. Not only do we fight wars in areas of the globe that happen to be rich in oil; we also burn more oil fighting those wars than we do in any other activity. Author Ted Rall writes:

“The U.S. Department of [War] is the world’s worst polluter, belching, dumping, and spilling more pesticides, defoliants, solvents, petroleum, lead, mercury, and depleted uranium than the five biggest American chemical corporations combined. According to Steve Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, 60 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions between 2003 and 2007 originated in U.S.-occupied Iraq, due to the enormous amount of oil and gas required to maintain hundreds of thousands of American military forces and private contractors, not to mention the toxins released by fighter jets, drone planes, and the missiles and other ordnance they fire at Iraqis.”

The U.S. military burns through about 340,000 barrels of oil each day. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank 38th out of 196 in oil consumption.

The environment as we know it will not survive nuclear war. It also may not survive “conventional” war, understood to mean the sorts of wars now waged. Intense damage has already been done by wars and by the research, testing, and production done in preparation for wars.

Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. War “rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and mortality,” according to Jennifer Leaning of Harvard Medical School.

Perhaps the most deadly weapons left behind by wars are land mines and cluster bombs. Tens of millions of them are estimated to be lying around on the earth, oblivious to any announcements that peace has been declared. Most of their victims are civilians, a large percentage of them children.

The Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan have destroyed or damaged thousands of villages and sources of water. The Taliban has illegally traded timber to Pakistan, resulting in significant deforestation. U.S. bombs and refugees in need of firewood have added to the damage. Afghanistan’s forests are almost gone. Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants.

If militaries were made green in terms of their operations, they would lose one of their main reasons for war.  (Nobody can own the sun or the wind.)  And we would still have a long list of … More reasons to end war. Read more.

4. War erodes our liberties.

police

We’re often told that wars are fought for “freedom.” But when a wealthy nation fights a war against a poor (if often resource-rich) nation halfway around the globe, among the goals is not actually to prevent that poor nation from taking over the wealthy one, after which it might restrict people’s rights and liberties. The fears used to build support for the wars don’t involve such an incredible scenario at all; rather the threat is depicted as one to safety, not liberty.

In close proportion to levels of military spending, liberties are restricted in the name of war — even while wars may simultaneously be waged in the name of liberty.  We try to resist the erosion of liberties, the warrantless surveillance, the drones in the skies, the lawless imprisonment, the torture, the assassinations, the denial of a lawyer, the denial of access to information on the government, etc.  But these are symptoms.  The disease is war and the preparation for war.

It is the idea of the enemy that allows government secrecy.

The nature of war, as fought between valued and devalued people, facilitates the erosion of liberties in another way, in addition to the fear for safety.  That is, it allows liberties to first be taken away from devalued people.  But the programs developed to accomplish that are later predictably expanded to include valued people as well.

Militarism erodes not just particular rights but the very basis of self-governance. It privatizes public goods, it corrupts public servants, it creates momentum for war by making people’s careers dependent on it.

One way in which war erodes public trust and morals is by its predictable generation of public lies.

Also eroded, of course, is the very idea of the rule of law — replaced with the practice of might-makes-right. Read more.

 5.War impoverishes us.

sad

Direct Expenses:

War has a huge direct financial cost, the vast majority of which is in funds spent on the preparation for war — or what’s thought of as ordinary, non-war military spending. Very roughly, the world spends $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. This U.S. spending also accounts for roughly half of the U.S. government’s discretionarybudget each year and is distributed through several departments and agencies. Much of the rest of world spending is by members of NATO and other allies of the United States, although China ranks second in the world.

Indirect Expenses:

Wars can cost even an aggressor nation that fights wars far from its shores twise as much in indirect expenses as in direct expenditures.

The costs to the aggressor, enormous as they are, can be small in comparison to those of the nation attacked.

War Spending Drains an Economy:

It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs — with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.

War Spending Increases Inequality:

Military spending diverts public funds into increasingly privatized industries through the least accountable public enterprise and one that is hugely profitable for the owners and directors of the corporations involved.

War Spending Is Unsustainable, As Is Exploitation it Facilitates:

While war impoverishes the war making nation, can it nonetheless enrich that nation more substantially by facilitating the exploitation of other nations? Not in a manner that can be sustained.

Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates’ wildest fantasies if the funds now invested in war were transferred there.

Read more.

 6.We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

aid

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world.  That sounds like a lot of money to you or me.  But if we had $2 trillion it wouldn’t.  And we do.

It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water.  Again, that sounds like a lot. Let’s round up to $50 billion per year to provide the world with both food and water. Who has that kind of money? We do.

Of course, we in the wealthier parts of the world don’t share the money, even among ourselves. Those in need of aid are right here as well as far away.

But imagine if one of the wealthy nations, the United States for example, were to put $500 billion into its own education (meaning “college debt” can begin the process of coming to sound as backward as “human sacrifice”), housing (meaning no more people without homes), infrastructure, and sustainable green energy and agricultural practices.  What if, instead of leading the destruction of the natural environment, this country were catching up and helping to lead in the other direction?

The potential of green energy would suddenly skyrocket with that sort of unimaginable investment, and the same investment again, year after year. But where would the money come from? $500 billion? Well, if $1 trillion fell from the sky on an annual basis, half of it would still be left. After $50 billion to provide the world with food and water, what if another $450 billion went into providing the world with green energy and infrastructure, topsoil preservation, environmental protection, schools, medicine, programs of cultural exchange, and the study of peace and of nonviolent action?

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year.  Taking it up to $100 billion — never mind $523 billion! — would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering.  It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth.  A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world.  Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, but only if one other factor were added — only if the $1 trillion came from where it really ought to come from.

Some U.S. states are setting up commissions to work on the transition from war to peace insustries.

Read more.

David Swanson’s wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org  His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.  

 

Sign up for occasional important activist alerts here http://davidswanson.org/signup

Sign up for articles or press releases here http://davidswanson.org/lists

This email may be unlawfully collected, held, and read by the NSA which violates our freedoms using the justification of immoral, illegal wars absurdly described as being somehow for freedom.

Saving Nazareth: What the struggle by Israeli Arabs for equality reveals about the State of Israel today by Jonathan Cook

Jonathan is giving two public talks in Canada in early March 2014. He will be speaking in Montreal on Saturday March 1, and in Ottawa on Monday March 3. The events have been organised by the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR).

Details of both talks are available from NCCAR.

Find the event pages on Facebook here: Montreal and Ottawa.

Tickets can be bought in advance: Montreal and Ottawa.

The poster for the two events is below.

Ott-Mont poster

See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/talks-in-ottawa-and-montreal-march-2014/#sthash.y0b9K7vd.dpuf

Montreal Event

When: March, 1 @7:30

Where: Atwater Club, 3505 Avenue Atwater, Montreal (street parking available)

*This event has limited seating, make sure to get your tickets in advance*

Tickets: $20 (regular ticket price) and $15 (special ticket price for NCCAR members). You can purchase your tickers on Eventbrite or at the door.

If you are in the Montreal downtown area you can also contact Bassam Hajj to purchase tickets by cash: 514-629-7052.

Ottawa Event

When: March 3 @ 7:30pm

Where: First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, 30 Cleary Avenue
*free parking available*

Tickets: $15 on Eventbrite$20 at the door, click here to purchase your tickets online.

Make sure to get tickets in advance, last year’s event was oversold!

For more information please contact Operations Manager, Hoda Mroue at 613-238-3795 or [email protected]

NCCAR thanks our many endorsers: Association of Palestinian Arab Canadians, Independent Jewish Voices, Palestinian Canadian Congress. Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice, Canadian Friends of Sabeel, United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel, and NOWAR/PAIX.

Event Details

Nazareth, with a population of about 100,000 is the biggest Arab city in Israel. It is the heart of the Galilee, one of the richest agricultural areas in all of today’s Israel.

The citizens of Nazareth are Israeli citizens – but they are predominantly Christian and Muslim. They are the descendants of those who avoided the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestine when Israel took over the area in 1948. But even as Israeli citizens, they have to continually struggle for equality – for good quality education, for jobs, for housing and for social services. They face considerable discrimination as non-Jews, in “the Jewish state of Israel”.

Jonathan Cook has lived in Nazareth for 11 years. He is married to a Palestinian Israeli. He knows what he is talking about. He will describe what the obstacles facing Israel’s Palestinian minority tell us about the State of Israel today.

Click here to read Jonathan Cook’s biography.

Current bilateral free trade agreement negotiations are shrouded in secrecy and are closed to proper public scrutiny (1,2). This is because they effectively constitute part of the ongoing corporate hijack of democracy and the further restructuring of economies in favour of elite interests (3,4,5).

We need look no futher than Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) between the US and EU. European Commissioner De Gucht claims that “there is nothing secret” about the ongoing talks. In December 2013 in a letter published in The Guardian, he argued that “there is nothing secret about this EU trade deal” and that “our negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are fully open to scrutiny” (6).

If that is the case, why then are notes of Commission meetings with business lobbyists released to Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) under the EU’s freedom of information law heavily censored?

It appears that the public is not allowed to know the positions held by the EU (unlike business interests) in these talks, who is being given access to whom and who is lobbying for what on whose behalf. High-minded platitudes referring to protecting the integrity of industry and the sensitive nature of negotiations are being used in an attempt to subvert democracy, prevent public scrutiny and secure the continued privileged positions and influence that big business holds in these talks. The arguments being used to justify the secrecy are thinly veiled disguises to try to hoodwink us into accepting the legitimacy of these negotiations.

Documents recently received by CEO show that De Gucht’s officials invited industry to submit wishlists for ‘regulatory barriers’ they would like removed during the negotiations. However, there is no way for the public to know how the EU has incorporated this into its negotiating position as all references have been removed.

Last month CEO received 44 documents (7) about the European Commission’s meetings with industry lobbyists as part of preparations for the EU-US trade talks. Most of the documents, released as a result of a freedom of information (FOI) request, are meeting reports prepared by Commission officials.

The documents arrived almost a full ten months (!) after the FOI request was tabled and 39 of the 44 documents are heavily censored. The documents cover only a fraction of the more than 100 meetings (8) which De Gucht’s officials had with industry lobbyists in the run-up to the launch of the TTIP negotiations. 

 CEO asks were no notes taken during closed-door meetings with corporate lobbyists from, for example, the US Chamber of Commerce, the German industry federation BDI, chemical lobby groups CEFIC and VCI, pharmaceutical industry coalition EFPIA, DigitalEurope, the Transatlantic Business Council, arms industry lobby ASD, the British Bankers Association and corporations like Lilly, Citi and BMW? It all seems like a rather cosy affair. It doesn’t take a cynic to conclude that something is seriously amiss here.

In the 39 documents which were “partially released”, large parts of text (“non releasable” or “not relevant”) have been hidden. In some cases, every single word has been removed from the document.

Not only is the text of the EU’s negotiating position secret, the public is even denied access to sentences in meeting reports that refer to the EU negotiating position. This is especially problematic as these are minutes from meetings with industry lobbyists who were clearly given information about the EU’s negotiating position in the TTIP talks, unlike the public.

CEO rightly states that sharing information about the EU’s negotiating position with industry while refusing civil society access to that same information is unacceptable discrimination.

In many cases parts of text are removed because they contain the views of industry lobby groups “on particular aspects of the EU/US trade negotiations.” “Release of that information could have a negative impact on the position of the industry”, the Commission argues. CEO argues that it is entirely unclear this means and why the views of the lobby groups should be hidden from public scrutiny.  

The Commission has also removed all names of lobbyists from the 44 documents arguing that “disclosure would undermine the protection of […] privacy and the integrity of the individual”. Again CEO argues that this is an absurd line of argument as these are professional lobbyists who are not acting in an individual capacity. There is clear public interest in transparency around who is lobbying on whose behalf and who is getting access to EU decision-makers.

Despite being heavily censored, the documents show clearly that removing differences in EU and US regulations is the key issue in the TTIP talks, with ‘regulatory barriers’ coming up in a large majority of the meetings. For example, in a meeting with the European Services Forum in February 2013, a lobby group for global service players such as Deutsche Bank, IBM and Vodafone, the Commission suggested various options for regulatory cooperation such as ‘compatibility’, ‘mutual recognition’ and ‘equivalence’.

In another meeting in February 2013, BusinessEurope (the most powerful business lobby in Brussels), stressed “its willingness to play an active role in the upcoming negotiations, in particular on the regulatory front”. The Commission noted the importance of EU industry “submitting detailed ‘Transatlantic’ proposals to tackle regulatory barriers”. In other words, a race to the bottom in setting the lowest barriers possible.

A leaked EU document (10) from the winter of 2013 shows the Commission proposing an EU-US Regulatory Cooperation Council, a permanent structure to be created as part of the TTIP deal. Existing and future EU regulation will then have to go through a series of investigations, dialogues and negotiations in this Council. This would move decisions on regulations into a technocratic sphere, away from democratic scrutiny. Is it not enough that EU member states could find domestic laws to protect the public interest quite useless under proposed investor-state dispute settlement provisions (9)?.Also, there would be compulsory impact assessments for proposed regulation, which will be checked for their potential impact on trade. What about whether they protect people’s health or are good for the environment?

This would be ideal for big business lobbies: creating a firm brake on any new progressive regulation in the very first stage of decision-making.

CEO concludes on its website:

“Ending the secrecy around the negotiations is crucial for allowing citizens to assess what is being negotiated in their name. This transparency should include the EU’s negotiating position, and also shed a clear light on the involvement of corporate lobbyists in preparing the negotiations.”

Take action, be informed: http://corporateeurope.org/get-involved

Much of the text for this article was sourced from the website of Corporate Europe Observatory, a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.

Notes

1) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-eu-transatlantic-free-trade-agreement-tafta-big-business-corporate-power-grab/5352885

2) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-corporate-driven-neocolonial-plunder/5338049

3) http://www.globalresearch.ca/free-trade-agreements-the-bypassing-of-democracy-to-institute-economic-plunder/5354197

4) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-eu-transatlantic-free-trade-agreement-tafta-big-business-corporate-power-grab/5352885

5) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-india-up-for-sale-to-western-corporate-capital/5332214

6) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/18/wrong-george-monbiot-nothing-secret-eu-trade-deal

7) http://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/dg_trade_contacts_with_industry#incoming-3841

8) http://www.corporateeurope.org/trade/2013/09/european-commission-preparing-eu-us-trade-talks-119-meetings-industry-lobbyists

9) http://www.citizen.org/documents/TAFTA-investor-state-factsheet.pdf

10) http://corporateeurope.org/trade/2013/12/regulation-none-our-business

Caracas Says that Media War Has been Launched Against Venezuela

February 17th, 2014 by Agencia Venezolana de Noticia

The Venezuelan Government is going to act through legal channels before the media manipulation against the country, on the context of rightist violent actions carried out nationwide, informed Communication and Information minister Delcy Rodriguez.

“We will not allow these kind of manipulation,” said the Minister during a press conference last Sunday evening at Miraflores Presidential Palace, Caracas.

Condemning the harassment and attacks of fascist groups against public media outlets, minister Rodriguez showed a series of manipulated pictures spread by national and international media as Spain’s ABC, Chile’s El Mercurio, Tal Cual and El Nacional.

In this connection, Rodriguez remarked that Spanish outlet ABC is “in a permanent dirty campaign against Venezuela.”

“We would like to show this manipulation to the world and the national and international campaign under way today in Venezuela.”

The Minister said that “there is enough evidence to prove the type of plan being carried out against Venezuela and its legitimate Government.”

Therefore, she called on national and international media not to agree to putschist plans undertaken by rightist groups in the country.

After its failure in coaxing the US into war on Syria, Saudi Arabia is now attempting to persuade the Arab League (AL) to issue permission for military attack against the crisis-hit country, Arab media reports said.

“The Saudi regime is now making extensive contacts with a number of Arab governments to call for an Arab League ministerial meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Syria,” sources told the Palestinian al-Manar weekly.

According to the sources, Riyadh is seeking to persuade the League to approve a resolution which would call on the UN Security Council to use Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to launch a military attack on Syria to be led by the US and France in partnership with certain regional states and Israel as well as Saudi Arabia’s financial support.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the western powers anad their regional allies – specially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

According to the United Nations, more than 120,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million of others displaced due to the violence in Syria.

Riyadh is considered as the main supporter of the terrorist Takfiri and Salafi groups fighting in Syria.

Late in December, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad said Damascus views Saudi Arabia as its number one enemy, accusing Riyadh of trying to destroy the country by arming extremists and militants fighting in Syria.

Miqdad told AFP that Saudi Arabia was providing unfettered support for “terrorist groups” in Syria, while other nations had reviewed their positions.

Tomorrow [Feb.11, 2014], California lawmakers will hold a hearing about the use of solitary confinement inside its state prison system. February marks seven months since people incarcerated throughout California embarked on the mass hunger strike that has drawn legislative attention to prison conditions.

Just under two weeks ago, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) released new proposed regulations around its gang policies, and it points to changes already made. Accounts from former hunger strikers and their allies on the outside, however, suggest that change is slow in coming.

The hunger strike that began on Monday, July 8, 2013, was originally called for by men in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. Inside Pelican Bay’s SHU, people are locked into windowless cells for at least 22 hours a day. Prison administrators place them in the SHU either for a fixed term for violating a prison rule or an indeterminate term for gang membership.

Accusations of gang membership often relied on confidential informants and circumstantial evidence. Accusations of gang association were also based on circumstantial evidence, such as possessing certain artwork or books – including Aztec or Black history – exercising with others or even signing a group petition.

Tomorrow, California lawmakers will hold a hearing about the use of solitary confinement inside its state prison system. Opponents of solitary confinement plan to pack the hearing room and gather afterwards for a rally and lobbying visits to legislators.

Hundreds of people have been confined within the SHU for over a decade. Until recently, the only way to be released from the SHU was to debrief, or provide information incriminating other prisoners, who are then placed in the SHU for an indeterminate sentence.

February marks seven months since people incarcerated throughout California embarked on the mass hunger strike that has drawn legislative attention to prison conditions.

The call to strike was taken up across California and in out-of-state prisons where California prisoners are held. Thirty thousand people responded, refusing meals the first several days.

Hunger strikers issued five core demands, including the elimination of “group punishments for individual rules violations”; changes in the criteria for being “validated” as gang members and for “debriefing” from gang status; compliance with the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement; provision of “adequate food”; and expansion of “constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU prisoners.”

The men of Pelican Bay issued 40 additional demands, such as expunging all violations issued for participation in the 2011 hunger strikes, and prohibiting retaliation for those participating in the most recent strike.

The strike ended on Sept. 5, 2013, or Day 60. California legislators Loni Hancock, chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, and Tom Ammiano, chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, issued a statement of support for the hunger strikers and promised to hold hearings around SHU placement and long-term solitary confinement. Their support pushed both the CDCR and the hunger strikers towards a resolution.

The following month, on Oct. 9, 2013, lawmakers held the first joint Public Safety Committee hearing on solitary confinement. The hearing lasted four hours and included testimony from CDCR officials, academics, former prisoners and family members.

But what changes have hunger strikers and other California prisoners seen since then?

The Step Down Program resumes

On Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, CDCR unveiled new regulations around its gang policies. Under these draft regulations, validated gang associates and members can have the designation removed from their records if they avoid gang activities for approximately six years (for associates) or 11 years (for members). In addition, both associates and members must have been released from the SHU to Step 5 or be housed in general population.

The regulations are an extension of CDCR’s Step Down Program, which was unveiled in fall 2012, one year after the first round of prisoner hunger strikes.

CDCR submitted these regulations to the Office of Administrative Law on Jan. 31. The 60-day public comment period will end April 3 with a public hearing that morning in Sacramento. Any person – including people in jails and prisons – can submit public comments in writing. Comments must be submitted to the CDCR, Regulation and Policy Management Branch, P.O. Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001; by fax at (916) 324-6075; or by email at [email protected] before April 3.

The 60-day public comment period for the new CDCR gang policy regulations will end April 3 with a public hearing that morning in Sacramento. Any person – including people in jails and prisons – can submit public comments in writing.

The Step Down Program evaluates prisoners with indefinite SHU terms for release into general population. Both prisoners and their advocates have criticized the program, noting that even those who have spent years in the SHU may still be required to spend two to three additional years in solitary confinement under this program.

The debriefing program remains in place. In addition, criteria that were formerly used to prove gang association – such as possessing certain art or literature, exercising with others or even saying hello to another prisoner – can now be used to prove gang membership.

CDCR temporarily halted its review process during the first weeks of the hunger strike but resumed evaluations before the strike ended. In December 2013, Pelican Bay prisoners reported that the review process had started for those who had been classified as gang members.

According to one prisoner, several were approved for Step Five – or release directly into general population from the SHU. One of those approved had been in the SHU for over 40 years. Since the start of the program, CDCR has reviewed 632 SHU prisoners for gang membership. Of those, 408 have been cleared for release directly to general population; 185 remain in the SHU but with more privileges.

While the possibility of being released to a less restrictive housing unit is enticing, those waiting to be evaluated are wary of the program. “The Step Down Program is still an institutional means of getting around the indeterminate SHU program and incorporating a vehicle by which one can still get stuck in the SHU indeterminately,” wrote one person, who was scheduled to be reviewed that week. “At any time, they can deny you or set you back a step or two if they feel you are not meeting certain requirements.”

In addition, SHU prisoners in both Pelican Bay and Corcoran State Prison decry the requirement that prisoners relegated to Step Two or Step Three complete a journal focusing on subjects such as “the reasons I’ve led a life of crime.” Those who refuse to complete the journal are considered as having failed to complete program requirementsand are unable to move into the next step and thus remain in the SHU.

“The Step Down Program is still an institutional means of getting around the indeterminate SHU program and incorporating a vehicle by which one can still get stuck in the SHU indeterminately,” wrote one person, who was scheduled to be reviewed that week. “At any time, they can deny you or set you back a step or two if they feel you are not meeting certain requirements.”

In Corcoran State Prison, Heshima Denham was recently reviewed for the Step Down Program. As part of the review process, he was allowed to examine the journal. He later called it “a blatant character invalidation and brainwashing tool.”

“It does not embody or address the needs of the majority of us in SHU, of what and who we are,” agreed a SHU prisoner in Pelican Bay, “nor is it indicative of what’s in our best interest.” He described several questions in the journal entitled “The Con Game”:

  • Do you have a problem when people correct you, even if they do it in a supportive way? Yes/No.
  • Give an example of how you might think and/or act in this way.
  • Do you ever play the “con game”? Yes/No.
  • Explain.

“One can’t help but believe if one does not respond in the affirmative to the questions, that the reviewers and evaluators would deem one a program failure, not suited for advancement within said program because the overseers of this Step Down Program view us all as flawed in character with no social or moral compass,” he noted.

In addition, both he and Denham have stated that the journal dismisses socio-economic factors as a “myth” of the con game. In separate letters, both point to the same example:

“Myth: Criminals are the victims of society. They are products of dysfunctional families, abusive childhoods, bad neighborhoods, poor schools and an unfair economic system. ‘My criminal behavior isn’t my fault. I just learned to survive the best way I knew how.’ Truth: Each person is responsible for his or her own thinking and behavior. Many people grow up in difficult circumstances and lead responsible, crime-free lives. Task: Explain how you have practiced this myth in the past.”

However, SHU prisoner Todd Ashker recalled that, during his September 2013 meetings with hunger strike representatives, Michael Stainer, director of CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions, told them: “There are no right or wrong answers to the journal questions. You maintain possession of them. All that’s required is that you show it to the committee. They look at it on the spot, see it’s done and give it back to you and you can tear it up and trash it.”

Given Stainer’s assurances, Ashker urges, “If this isn’t how it works, people should challenge and document any and all problems.”

In the meantime, prisoners, family members and the general public have 60 days to comment in writing about CDCR’s new draft regulations. A public hearing will be held on April 3, 2014, in Sacramento.

Small changes come to the SHU, along with reports of retaliation

People in Pelican Bay’s SHU have reported some changes since the hunger strike. Lorenzo Benton reported that several items, such as sweats, thermals, T-shirts, shorts and several foods, have recently been approved for their use. Mutope Duguma reported that SHU prisoners have now been offered the opportunity to take free correspondence courses from Feather River College Tsunami Adult School’s Voluntary Education Program. Duguma has signed up and is waiting to learn what courses he is eligible to take.

However, SHU prisoners have also reported that staff have taken retaliatory actions towards hunger strike participants. “Since the hunger strike, I been dealing with retaliation in the form of two separate serious CDC-115 write-ups,” wrote Paul Redd. He was found not guilty on the charges of inciting a mass disturbance and work stoppage but was found guilty of what he called a “noncharge – refusing to eat.”

In addition, institutional gang investigators searched his property and issued him a write-up for a 10-year-old greeting card. The card depicted a Black man holding a child. On his arm were the words “Weusi Agosti” or “Black August” in Swahili. Redd was found guilty of promoting gang activity, thus drastically decreasing his chances of release from the SHU when he is reviewed for the Step Down Program.

Mutope Duguma has also reported retaliation. He states that staff have tampered with food. He describes the Thanksgiving meal as “three small diced sweet potatoes, 1×1 size cheesecake, two very small hot dogs, green beans (about 10), and a salad that was all bad.”

“If they wanted to provoke prisoners, they almost got exactly what they wanted because people were furious,” he recounted. When Duguma complained to the warden’s office, he was told, “The problem with the Thanksgiving meal was identified by correctional staff and is being dealt with.” A letter from another hunger strike participant, dated Jan. 15, 2014, confirms that the food portions remain small.

In addition, Duguma, who was sent to the medical facility at Folsom during the hunger strike, returned to find several of his certificates – including one for his GED – missing. For Duguma, the missing certificate may prevent him from enrolling in the newly-offered college courses.

Isaac Ontiveros, a member of the Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition, stated that the coalition has received letters from numerous people inside California’s SHUs detailing similar acts of retaliation. Every hunger striker received CDC-115 write-ups for their participation. He also noted that Black people appear to be bearing the brunt of additional retribution. Both Redd and Duguma are Black.

Preparing for another hearing

Legislators have scheduled a hearing focusing on CDCR’s new Gang Management Policy for Feb. 11, 2014. According to Ontiveros, at that hearing, legislators will press CDCR to provide a more detailed explanation of the Step Down Program. Family members and supporters are organizing caravans to attend the hearing in Sacramento. However, those most impacted by the new policy – people in the SHU – have not been invited to speak.

Ontiveros notes that, in addition to testifying about conditions and the effects of long-term isolation, SHU prisoners can also speak about steps that can be taken to reduce CDCR’s overreliance on solitary confinement. “The prisoners have been doing research,” he pointed out. “They’ve been looking at what’s happening in Mississippi and how prison management can be changed. They’ve also been reading about the Norwegian prison system. The CDCR has cited security concerns [against having a SHU prisoner testify before the legislature in Sacramento], but what about having them use Skype to speak at the hearing?”

Opponents of solitary confinement plan to pack the hearing room and gather afterwards for a rally and lobbying visits to legislators. With more than 10,000 souls in isolation on any given day – 3,881 people in SHU cells and 6,734 in Administrative Segregation Unitsas of Sept. 30, 2013 – California is the nation’s leading practitioner of solitary confinement.

California is the nation’s leading practitioner of solitary confinement.

With strong movements on both the inside and outside and a few apparently sympathetic ears in the legislature, reformers have sown the seed for change – but only time will tell when they come to fruition in the kind of sweeping reforms the state’s prison system demands.

Victoria Law is a writer, photographer, and mother. After a brief stint as a teenage armed robber, she became involved in prisoner support. She is the author of “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women” (PM Press 2009), the editor of the zine Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison and a co-founder of Books Through Bars – NYC. She can be reached by mail at Victoria Law, P.O. Box 20388, Tompkins Square Station, New York, NY 10009, or by email at [email protected].

For most drivers, a car is not optional, it’s essential to work. Ontario’s 9 million drivers pay the highest auto insurance rates in the country, while receiving the poorest coverage and benefits. That’s the reality of “no fault” insurance which the Liberal government introduced in 2010 when rates last sky‑rocketed.   No fault reduced rates minimally, while reducing coverage and benefits catastrophically. Many policy holders injured in serious accidents are now tied up in the courts, suing insurance companies for the benefits they thought they had.

Canada’s biggest insurance companies are laughing all the way to bank, with a $4.4 billion profit in 2012 – up 25% over 2011.

Taxi drivers face even higher rates, so their take home pay is often far below the minimum wage after insurance, gas, licensing, and other fees. Most are forced to work 70 to 80 hours a week just to make ends meet. In response to complaints about the exorbitant fleet rates for taxis, the companies refused to write insurance in some Ontario cities, forcing drivers to either accept the diktat or starve.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says rates in Ontario are the highest in Canada because of massive fraud by drivers in Brampton, near Pearson International Airport. But there is another, far more believable explanation: Brampton is home to one of the largest South Asian populations in the country, with many new Canadians and residents settling there. A vulnerable population for greedy corporations to exploit, as the super‑profitable insurance companies know so well. These are the real fraudsters, whom successive Ontario governments have allowed to write their own cheques with a built in 12% rate of profit on every policy.

While the companies hold the public hostage, the best the NDP can do is press the Liberals for a 15% rate reduction, which the government now says will be “complicated”. The real complication is that the Liberals, Tories and NDP have all received financial contributions from the companies and/or the Insurance Bureau. None are willing to take on the companies, though it’s a simmering election issue.

Ontario Communists have been campaigning since October for public auto insurance which would cut rates in half for most drivers, with full benefits and coverage. Public auto insurance already exists in BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where it was introduced more than 40 years ago, and in Quebec in the 1990s.

Public auto insurance cuts out private profit, and the profit motive. Public insurance agencies like ICBC just have to remain solvent, bringing in a bit more in premiums than they pay out in claims. The “bit more” pays for administration. Who benefits? The public.

Public auto insurance is part of a transportation policy that includes public ownership and development of mass urban rapid transit systems, urgent expansion of inter‑city rapid transit using publicly owned and operated rail services like GO Transit, and developing a Canadian car that’s small, fuel efficient, environmentally sustainable and affordable for domestic and export sale.

This would create good jobs and pay cheques in Ontario, and should be paid for from substantially increased corporate taxes – not from the farebox. A Canadian car should be developed as a Crown corporation, generating profits for the public treasury which could then also be used for public transit.

Public response to the CPC (Ontario)’s campaign has been very positive. There is a lot of anger at the insurance companies and right‑wing governments that many people feel are robbing them blind. Many voters also connect public auto insurance with the NDP, and the Rae government that campaigned for this policy in 1990 and then abandoned it two years later after the companies held a demonstration on the front lawn of Queen’s Park.

The CPC (Ontario) has demonstrated at the offices of Liberal Transportation Minister Glenn Murray in Toronto, and Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey in Brampton, among others. The Party has sent an Open Letter and campaign leaflet to Members of the Legislature, indicating that the coming budget must include a transportation policy based on people’s needs, not corporate greed.

Campaign stops still ahead include Ottawa on Jan. 30, Brampton on Feb. 2, and Guelph‑Kitchener on Feb. 11 (including a public meeting at 5:30 pm, Room 441, University Centre, University ofGuelph). Stops in Hamilton, Sudbury and Windsor are scheduled for mid‑February.

If you’d like to get involved, or find out more about the campaign stops in your area, call the CPC (Ontario) at 416‑469‑2446, or check out the website at publicautoinsurance.ca.

Lo scandalo sulla corruzione salvadoregna che coinvolge Francisco Flores, presidente di El Salvador dal 1999 al 2004, apre la porta al riconoscimento diplomatico della Repubblica popolare cinese da parte del prossimo governo di San Salvador che l’FMLN non poté stabilire con la presidenza di Mauricio Funes. Lo scandalo che coinvolge Flores ha creato l’opportunità politica adatta per il Fronte di Liberazione Nazionale Farabundo Marti di El Salvador (FMLN) di rompere formalmente le relazioni diplomatiche con Taiwan (formalmente conosciuta come Repubblica di Cina), se un presidente del FMLN sarà eletto nel marzo 2014.

Tale questione diplomatica espone inoltre il retroscena del coordinamento fra Pechino e Taipei. Ciò dipinge il quadro di un percorso cordiale verso l’unificazione cinese tra Taiwan e la Cina e non una rivalità. Né Pechino né Taipei hanno frapposto reciprocamente dei grandi ostacoli, riconoscendo che alla fine ci sarà una Cina.

Francisco Flores e l’oligarchia salvadoregna

Francisco Flores è stato presidente di El Salvador quando l’Alleanza Repubblicana Nazionalista, comunemente chiamata con l’acronimo ARENA, governava la repubblica centroamericana. E’ membro della corrotta dell’oligarchia salvadoregna allineata agli USA che ha ridotto El Salvador a colonia degli Stati Uniti, seguendo gli ordini di Washington, DC. Esemplificando questa relazione, sotto il mandato presidenziale di Flores El Salvador inviò centinaia di soldati per supportare Stati Uniti e Regno Unito durante l’occupazione illegale dell’Iraq.

L’oligarchia salvadoregna è a tutti gli effetti una classe compradora, il che significa che in ultima analisi, sono i rappresentanti locali o i gestori di società, governi e interessi stranieri. In questo caso l’oligarchia salvadoregna ha agito collettivamente come classe compradora al servizio delle élite degli Stati Uniti, che a loro volta sono più precisamente delle élite parassitarie per aver dirottato la maggior parte delle ricchezze e  risorse locali dei Paesi che hanno sovvertito con la loro influenza. Storicamente, queste élite statunitensi penetrarono le strutture di potere e le gerarchie dell’America Latina quando l’influenza delle originarie élite parassitarie spagnole, al vertice della gerarchia economica dell’emisfero occidentale, fu erosa. Molti Paesi latino-americani avevano anche un funzionario o ministro statunitense che vigilava sui loro governi e affari correnti.

Con Flores e l’ARENA, El Salvador perse la sovranità monetaria. Il colon, moneta nazionale di El Salvador, fu rimosso per ordine di Flores e del suo governo ARENA, sostituito con il dollaro USA quale valuta ufficiale. Così, El Salvador ingrossò le fila dei vari territori come Timor Est, Panama ed Ecuador in cui il dollaro degli Stati Uniti è la moneta ufficiale.

Con il governo ARENA numerosi monopoli privati abusivi furono creati per legge dai membri e sostenitori dell’ARENA. Era illegale e quasi impossibile acquistare farmaci da chiunque tranne Alfredo Cristiani, l’oligarca di ARENA presidente di El Salvador dopo Armando Calderón Sol e prima di Funes.Cristiani avviò non solo la ristrutturazione neoliberista economica di El Salvador, ma usò anche il suo monopolio privato sui farmaci per venderli impunemente a prezzo maggiorato ed anche scaduti. Fu lo stesso con i fertilizzanti e altri prodotti agricoli, sottoposti al regime di monopolio privato di Cristiani. Il governo ARENA non consentiva alcuna concorrenza. Inoltre, Cristiani privatizzò il sistema bancario salvadoregno lasciandolo alla Cuscatlan Bank, proprietà di Citibank, espandendone l’influenza in tutta l’America Centrale.

Anche se la corruzione politica è ancora presente in El Salvador, la base criminale dei governi ARENA è esplicitamente riconosciuta dai documenti della polizia stessa. Documenti dell’intelligence della polizia testimoniano che ogni presidente, ministro della giustizia e direttore della polizia erano legati alla criminalità organizzata fin quando il FMLN andò al governo di San Salvador. Inoltre, Alfredo Cristiani, il fidanzatino del Fondo monetario internazionale (FMI) e della Banca Mondiale, è notoriamente il boss della criminalità organizzata in El Salvador.

Gli ideatori dell’opzione salvadoregna

Prima che l’ARENA venisse ufficialmente costituita, gli oligarchi usarono i militari e la polizia salvadoregni in una guerra feroce, con il coinvolgimento del governo statunitense e del Pentagono, contro il popolo, gli indigeni, contadini, poveri, intellettuali, sindacati, la Chiesa cattolica romana di El Salvador, e chiunque chiedesse democrazia ed equità. La brutale repressione e la conseguente guerra civile in El Salvador faceva parte degli sforzi dell’oligarchia salvadoregna per mantenere il controllo sulla società salvadoregna.

Fu sotto il dominio di tali oligarchi che l’infame Opzione Salvador venne ideata dagli squadroni della morte filo-USA sterminando interi villaggi in modo lento, crudele e grottesco. Piccozze furono usate per cavare gli occhi e sfigurare, mentre  smembravano sistematicamente usando cavalli o autoveicoli. L’assassinio di monsignor Oscar Romero, capo della Chiesa cattolica romana di San Salvador, ucciso durante la messa, è uno dei loro atti più noti. Il mandante dell’assassinio di Romero, il maggiore Roberto D’Aubuisson, fu il fondatore di ARENA.

L’assassinio di monsignor Romero, però, fu solo una delle tante atrocità che tali oligarchi commisero con piena consapevolezza, supporto e coinvolgimento di Washington. I capi militari salvadoregni furono addestrati dalla famigerata Scuola delle Americhe e dal Pentagono, e molte tecniche per torture ed omicidio che gli squadroni della morte usarono, gli furono insegnate dai militari degli Stati Uniti. Inoltre, innumerevoli guerriglieri salvadoregni ricordano di aver combattuto truppe USA e udito alla radio gli ordini in inglese o spagnolo degli statunitensi di bombardare la giungla e i villaggi di El Salvador.

Quasi tutta la popolazione indigena di El Salvador fu sterminata da tali oligarchi. Intere famiglie furono uccise mentre le loro proprietà venivano saccheggiate o distrutte. Nemmeno i bambini e gli animali vennero risparmiati. Stupro e  profanazione di tombe furono pratiche sistematiche e comuni. Uno dei peggiori massacri avvenne l’11 dicembre 1981, nel villaggio di El Mozote nel dipartimento di Morazan. Ottocento civili inermi, tra cui bambini, furono torturati, umiliati, violentati e uccisi da un’unità delle operazioni speciali addestrata dagli USA.

Washington inviò individui come James Steele e John Negroponte nell’Iraq occupato dagli anglo-statunitensi per ricrearvi il regno del terrore che gli Stati Uniti imposero in El Salvador. Stessi modelli e tattiche di omicidio e tortura ricomparvero nell’Iraq occupato, indicando che gli Stati Uniti erano all’origine degli squadroni della morte sia in El Salvador che nell’Iraq occupato dagli anglo-statunitensi.

Corruzione taiwanese?

Mentre l’Assemblea Nazionale o dell’Assemblea Legislativa di El Salvador conduceva un’inchiesta sulla corruzione si scoprì che 10 milioni dollari finirono sul conto bancario personale di Francisco Flores. Quando Flores fu interrogato dall’Assemblea Nazionale su tale sua grande quantità di denaro, rispose che il denaro proveniva dal governo di Taiwan e che aveva effettivamente avuto più di 10 milioni di dollari. Dopo di ciò Flores cercò di fuggire da El Salvador o tentò di far sembrare che fosse fuggito. Flores lo fece dopo che gli fu ordinato di riapparire davanti l’Assemblea Nazionale, alla vigilia del primo turno delle elezioni presidenziali salvadoregne del 2014.

I fondi che Francisco Flores ricevette erano in realtà parte di una serie di pagamenti segreti compiuti da Taiwan ogni anno. Taiwan ha legami molto stretti con El Salvador e l’America Centrale. A parte gli Stati dell’America Latina sponsorizzati dagli Stati Uniti, il governo taiwanese si unì a Stati Uniti e Israele nel sostenere gli oligarchi di El Salvador contro l’FMLN, durante la guerra civile salvadoregna.

I pagamenti segreti di Taiwan a Flores originariamente servirono ad impedire che El Salvador  riconoscesse il governo di Pechino quale legittimo governo della Cina. Sebbene i pagamenti fossero inizialmente contro Pechino e un premio taiwanese per il riconoscimento di Taiwan invece che del governo della Cina, sembra che poi abbiano sempre meno sostenuto i sentimenti anti-Pechino. I continui versamenti taiwanesi furono mantenuti per avere un trattamento di favore per gli interessi delle imprese taiwanesi e ottenere concessioni economiche in El Salvador, tra cui il monopolio sul settore geotermico salvadoregno, completamente di proprietà di Taiwan.

E’ anche interessante notare che il governo salvadoregno e Taipei si scambiarono informazioni sullo scandalo della corruzione. Ciò in parte era dovuto al fatto che Chen Shui-bian fosse il presidente taiwanese il cui governo finanziava Flores. Shui-bian e sua moglie sono ora in carcere per corruzione e vi è probabilmente un’indagine parallela a Taipei sul ruolo di Shui-bian e dei suoi collaboratori.

La Stella in ascesa della Cina

La Repubblica popolare di Cina è un attore sempre più importante in America Latina. Un progetto importante che coinvolge la Cina è la creazione di un megacanale che colleghi l’Oceano Atlantico all’Oceano Pacifico, un secondo Canale di Panama. Questo secondo canale di Panama, però, sarà in Nicaragua e sarà chiamato Grande Canale del Nicaragua… Il governo nicaraguense ha anche firmato un accordo nel 2012 con una società di Hong Kong appena formata, la Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company Limited, creata da un uomo d’affari delle telecomunicazioni cinesi per attrarre investimenti internazionali per la costruzione del canale. Il progetto dovrebbe iniziare nel giro di pochi mesi.

Quando il FLMN elesse Mauricio Funes presidente, voleva stabilire immediatamente le relazioni diplomatiche con Cuba, quando prese l’incarico l’1 giugno 2009. Il governo ARENA aveva rifiutato di avere rapporti con L’Avana e sosteneva il blocco degli Stati Uniti su Cuba e si opponeva al Venezuela e ai suoi alleati regionali. Il FLMN inoltre stabilì relazioni diplomatiche con Vietnam, Cambogia e Russia. Ma tuttavia non ci riuscì con la Repubblica popolare di Cina per via di molteplici fattori.

Il mancato riconoscimento di Pechino fu dovuto all’opposizione del presidente Funes, il presidente uscente di El Salvador. Mauricio Funes, un ex-dipendente della CNN e di una popolare emittente televisiva locale, fu solo approvato dal FLMN  ma non n’è membro, come si crede fuori da El Salvador. In base all’accordo che Funes ebbe con il FMLN, i portafogli del gabinetto salvadoregno furono divisi tra il FMLN e personaggi esterni (popolarmente chiamati “Amici di Funes”), scelti da Funes. Secondo tale accordo per la condivisione del potere, Funes controllerebbe le questioni strategiche, l’economia nazionale e la segreteria per le riforme politiche, mentre il FMLN avrebbe i portafogli di assistenza sanitaria, istruzione e sicurezza. In tale quadro Funes bloccò il riconoscimento della Repubblica popolare cinese e ostacolò le riforme economiche e politiche che l’FMLN voleva.

Mentre il governo salvadoregno contattava i funzionari di Pechino, il governo cinese era freddo all’idea di stabilire relazioni diplomatiche. Ciò probabilmente a causa del ritardo che il governo cinese avrebbe visto come un insulto alla dignità di Pechino. Anche se l’FMLN, come partito politico, ha collegamenti diretti con la Repubblica popolare cinese attraverso il suo ufficio affari internazionali ed abbia inviato delegazioni a Pechino, il FMLN esaminerà i modi per stabilire relazioni diplomatiche formali con Pechino quando vincerà le elezioni presidenziali del 2014, nel secondo turno del voto a marzo. In questo contesto, un secondo mandato presidenziale al FMLN gli offre l’opportunità di rettificare l’errore e riconoscere subito Pechino con un nuovo governo, quando il vicepresidente del Salvador Sanchez sarà il nuovo presidente di El Salvador.

Il governo salvadoregno e il FMLN hanno chiarito a Taiwan che El Salvador intende riconoscere Pechino quale legittimo governo della Cina. Ciò che è interessante notare è che non c’è stata alcuna opposizione da Taiwan, né rottura delle relazioni diplomatiche o commerciali tra San Salvador e Taipei. C’è anche un certo coordinamento tacito tra Taiwan e la Repubblica popolare cinese, in relazione al percorso nel quadro dell’unificazione cinese.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya attualmente viaggia in America Centrale. Attualmente è in Nicaragua, presso la roccaforte di León del Fronte Sandinista di Liberazione Nazionale (FSLN). Osservatore  internazionale in El Salvador durante il primo turno delle elezioni presidenziali nel febbraio 2014 e ha discusso con i funzionari salvadoregni dell’economia e della politica estera salvadoregne.

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio.

La ripubblicazione è gradita in riferimento al giornale on-line della Strategic Culture Foundation.

Kerry’s Asian Trip and the Build-Up to War with China

February 17th, 2014 by Peter Symonds

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Beijing last Friday was the latest move in the Obama administration’s provocative “pivot to Asia,” the purpose of which is to undermine Chinese influence and build up US military forces and alliances in preparation for war. Having deliberately inflamed dangerous flashpoints in Asia over the past four years, the US is seeking to press home its advantage, regardless of the consequences.

In Beijing, Kerry sought to lay down the law to the Chinese leadership across a range of sensitive issues. On the volatile Korean Peninsula, he insisted that China use “every tool at its disposal”—including crippling economic sanctions—to force its ally North Korea to bend to US demands on denuclearisation. In relation to the fraught situation in the East China and South China Seas, he called on Beijing to adopt “a calmer, more rule-of law based, less confrontational regime”—implicitly blaming China for the tensions that the US has deliberately stirred up.

For good measure, Kerry also pressed the Chinese leaders to support the US-led regime-change operation in Syria and toe the US line on Iran in the UN, and expressed concerns about “human rights” in China—“especially with respect to the Tibetan and the Uighur areas.” This last reference was calculated to play on justifiable Chinese fears that the US will exploit separatist movements in these areas of China to fracture the country.

Kerry dressed up Washington’s provocative demands in the language of “peace”, “democracy” and “security.” The US intervention in longstanding maritime disputes between China and its neighbours takes place under the banner of “freedom of navigation.” The standard US refrain is that Beijing must abide by the present rules-based global order—that is, one dominated by US imperialism, where the “rules” are set in Washington. All of this is put into circulation by an utterly submissive media without a word of criticism.

The US, however, operates around the world with complete lawlessness and reckless disregard for the rules it lectures others on. President Obama, following on from President Bush, has arrogated to the US the right to wage “pre-emptive” wars—that is, wars of aggression to further Washington’s global interests and ambitions. The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was followed by the wars in Iraq and Libya as well as countless provocations, sanctions and military threats against a string of countries, including Iran and North Korea. Waging a war of aggression is a fundamental breach of international law and was the criminal charge underpinning the Nuremburg trials of Nazi leaders after World War II.

The criminals in the White House treat “human rights”, along with international norms and laws, with complete contempt. Under the bogus “war on terror”, the US pursues a program of murder and assassination by drone strikes without restriction, including against American citizens. Rendition, torture and indefinite detention without trial continue. Within the United States, basic constitutional rights are flouted. Whistleblower Edward Snowden has exposed the National Security Agency’s vast spying operations on the entire American population and people around the world, as well as US cyber warfare and hacking programs against nominal friends and foes alike.

What would the US response be to similar actions by China or any other country? What would happen if foreign warships routinely patrolled waters just off the US coast under the guise of “freedom of navigation”, or a rival established a military base—let alone a string of bases and alliances—anywhere in Latin America, or criticised US abuses of “human rights”, or supported Cuban claims to Guantanamo Bay? To ask the question is to answer it. Any one of these acts would elicit a belligerent response, including the threat of war.

The Obama administration’s actions over the past four years have transformed the whole Indo-Pacific region into a highly unstable powder keg.

* By encouraging Japan and the Philippines, in particular, to press their claims, the US has transformed long-running and largely low-key maritime disputes in the East China and South China Seas into major international flash points. The US signalled its intention, just prior to Kerry’s trip, to wind up tensions in the South China Sea even further by throwing off its pose of “neutrality” in the territorial issues and lining up openly against China.

* On the Korean Peninsula, the Obama administration has refused to take part in any international talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs unless Pyongyang meets all US demands. The US has recklessly courted disaster on more than one occasion by reacting to any incident with a massive show of force. Last March/April, in response to North Korea’s bellicose but empty rhetoric, the Pentagon sent nuclear-capable B-52 and B-2 bombers, as well as warships, to South Korea, and announced a major upgrade of its anti-missile systems in North East Asia.

* The Obama administration has upgraded the US military posture throughout the region, with plans to shift 60 percent of all naval and air assets to the Indo-Pacific by 2020. The US has strengthened alliances, particularly with Japan and Australia, is restructuring or establishing basing arrangements in Japan, South Korea, Australia, Singapore and the Philippines, and is boosting strategic ties with virtually every country in the region. US think tanks closely connected to the military establishment publicly discuss plans, preparations and strategies for war with China.

Far from being a force for “peace” and “security”, US imperialism is the most destabilising factor in world politics today. Five years after the 2008–09 global financial meltdown, the US is seeking to overcome its continuing economic crisis by foisting new burdens onto the working class at home and its rivals abroad. The Obama administration is exploiting American military superiority to ensure continued US hegemony in Asia, which has become the globe’s chief cheap-labour hub, with China at the centre. Its “rules-based” global order seeks to reduce China to the status of a subservient semi-colony.

In opposing the US drive to war against China, no support can be given to the Chinese leadership, which is deeply hostile to the working class and seeks above all to strike a deal with Washington. The Chinese Communist Party has greatly weakened any ability to resist US aggression through the dismantling of nationalised property relations and the integration of China in global capitalism as a vast cheap labour platform over the past three decades. The CCP is above all organically hostile to any independent mobilisation of the Chinese and international working class, the only social force capable of ending the danger of a catastrophic war through the abolition of its root cause—the bankrupt profit system and its outmoded nation-state system.

El escándalo de corrupción en El Salvador que implica a Francisco Flores, quien fuera presidente de El Salvador desde 1999 hasta el 2004, ha abierto la puerta para el reconocimiento diplomático de la República Popular de China por el próximo gobierno en San Salvador, que el FMLN no pudo lograr durante el tiempo del presidente Mauricio Funes. El tejemaneje que implica a Flores ha creado la oportunidad política apropiada para el Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional de El Salvador (FMLN) para romper formalmente las relaciones diplomáticas con Taiwán (conocido formalmente como la República de China), si un presidente del FMLN es elegido en marzo de 2014.

Esta cuestión diplomática, expone además, la coordinación tras bambalinas que se está produciendo entre Pekín y Taipéi. Esto pinta un cuadro de un camino cordial y no de rivalidad hacia la unificación china, entre Taiwán y China continental. Ni Pekín ni Taipéi han puesto grandes obstáculos en el camino del otro, reconociendo que en última instancia, habrá una sola China.

Francisco Flores y la oligarquía salvadoreña

Francisco Flores fue presidente de El Salvador, cuando la Alianza Republicana Nacionalista, comúnmente llamada ARENA, por sus siglas en español, gobernaba la República Centroamericana. Él es miembro de la corrupta oligarquía salvadoreña alineada con los Estados Unidos que abarató El Salvador, reduciéndolo a la condición de una colonia de facto de los EE.UU, siguiendo las órdenes de Washington, DC. Como ejemplo de esta relación, fue bajo el mandato presidencial de Flores que El Salvador envió cientos de soldados para ayudar a los Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido durante su ocupación ilegal de Irak.

La oligarquía salvadoreña ha operado para todos los efectos como una clase de la élite compradora, lo que significa que han servido en última instancia, como los representantes locales o gerentes de las empresas extranjeras, de sus gobiernos y de sus intereses. En este caso la oligarquía salvadoreña ha actuado en conjunto como una clase de la élite compradora que sirve a las élites de los Estados Unidos, que a su vez son más precisamente descritos como élites parasitarias, debido al hecho de que han sifonado la mayor parte de la riqueza y los recursos locales de los países que han colocado bajo su influencia. Históricamente, estas elites estadounidenses penetraron las estructuras de poder y las jerarquías de América Latina, una vez erosionada, la influencia de las élites parasitarias españolas originales, en la parte superior de la jerarquía económica en el Hemisferio Occidental. Muchos países de América Latina, incluso tenían un funcionario de EE.UU o ministro que supervisaba su gobierno y asuntos cotidianos.

Bajo el gobierno de Flores y ARENA, El Salvador perdió su soberanía monetaria. El Colón, la moneda nacional de El Salvador, fue removido por orden de Flores y su gobierno de ARENA. Ellos sustituyeron el colón por el dólar de EE.UU como moneda oficial de El Salvador. De esta forma, El Salvador se unió a las filas de los diversos territorios de los EE.UU, Timor Oriental, Panamá y Ecuador como un lugar donde el dólar de EE.UU es la moneda oficial.

Bajo el gobierno de ARENA numerosos monopolios comerciales privados injustos fueron establecidos por medio de la ley, por los miembros de ARENA y sus simpatizantes. Era ilegal y casi imposible de comprarle medicamentos a alguien, excepto a Alfredo Cristiani, el oligarca que fue el presidente de El Salvador de ARENA antes de Armando Calderón Sol y más tarde Funes. Cristiani, no sólo inició la reestructuración económica neoliberal de El Salvador, sino también utilizó su monopolio privado de las medicinas para cobrar siempre de más a los usuarios e incluso vender medicamentos vencidos con impunidad. También sucedió lo mismo con el fertilizante y otros productos agrícolas, que se colocaron bajo el monopolio privado de Cristiani. El gobierno de ARENA no permitía competencia alguna. Por otra parte, Cristiani privatizó el sistema bancario salvadoreño dejando que su familia utilizara el Banco Cuscatlán, que ahora es propiedad de Citibank, para expandir su influencia a través de América Central.

Aunque la corrupción política aún persiste en El Salvador, la base criminal de los gobiernos anteriores de ARENA es reconocida explícitamente en los informes y archivos de sus propias administraciones policiales. Los archivos de inteligencia de la Policía atestiguan que cada presidente, el ministro de Justicia, y el director de la policía estaba vinculado con el crimen organizado hasta que el FMLN asumió el gobierno en San Salvador. Por otra parte, Alfredo Cristiani, el cariñito del Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) y del Banco Mundial, es ampliamente reconocido como el padre del crimen organizado en El Salvador.

Los autores de la opción salvadoreña

Antes de que ARENA se formara oficialmente, estos oligarcas usaron a los militares y la policía salvadoreña para librar una cruel guerra, con la participación directa del gobierno de EE.UU y el Pentágono, en contra de la gente indígena de El Salvador, campesinos, pobres, intelectuales, sindicatos, la Iglesia Católica Romana, y cualquier persona que exigiera democracia e igualdad de derechos. La brutal represión y la consiguiente guerra civil en El Salvador era parte de los esfuerzos de la oligarquía salvadoreña para mantener el control sobre la sociedad salvadoreña.

Fue bajo el gobierno de estos oligarcas que la infame Opción Salvador fue engendrada por escuadrones de la muerte alineados con los Estados Unidos que exterminarían a poblados enteros de manera lenta, cruel y grotesca. Se utilizaban picahielos para sacar los ojos y deformar los rostros, mientras las extremidades eran arrancadas sistemáticamente por caballos o vehículos. El asesinato del Arzobispo Oscar Romero, el jefe de la Iglesia Católica Romana en San Salvador, asesinado mientras oficiaba una misa, es uno de sus actos más conocidos. El hombre detrás del asesinato de Romero, el mayor Roberto D’Aubuisson, se convertiría en el fundador de ARENA.

El asesinato del Arzobispo Romero, sin embargo, no fue más que una de las muchas atrocidades que estos oligarcas cometieron con el pleno conocimiento, el apoyo y la participación de Washington. Los líderes militares salvadoreños fueron entrenados por la infame Escuela de las Américas y por el Pentágono, y muchas de las técnicas de torturas y de asesinatos que los escuadrones de la muerte utilizaron les fueron enseñadas por los militares de EE.UU. Por otra parte, un sinnúmero de guerrilleros salvadoreños recuerdan que en los combates contra las tropas estadounidenses, escuchaban en los radio transmisores las órdenes, en inglés o español, de EE.UU de bombardear la selva y las aldeas de El Salvador.

Casi la totalidad de la población indígena de El Salvador sería exterminada por estos oligarcas. Familias enteras serían asesinadas, mientras que sus propiedades eran saqueadas o destruidas. Ni siquiera los niños y los animales se salvaron. Tanto la violación como la profanación de tumbas se convirtieron en prácticas sistemáticas y comunes.

Una de las peores masacres se cometió el 11 de diciembre de 1981. Esta masacre tuvo lugar en la aldea de El Mozote, en el departamento de Morazán. Ochocientos civiles desarmados, incluyendo niños, fueron torturados sistemáticamente, humillados, violados y asesinados por una unidad de operaciones especiales entrenada por Estados Unidos.

Washington enviaría a gente como James Steele y John Negroponte a Irak, ocupado por tropas anglo-estadounidenses para recrear el reino del terror que los EE.UU ayudó a crear en El Salvador. Los mismos patrones y tácticas exactas del asesinato y tortura emergerían en el Iraq ocupado, dejando al descubierto a los EE.UU como la fuente detrás de los escuadrones de la muerte en El Salvador y en el anglo-estadounidense ocupado Irak.

¿Soborno taiwanés?

Mientras la Asamblea Nacional o Asamblea Legislativa de El Salvador estaba llevando a cabo una investigación sobre la corrupción pasada, descubrió que 10 millones de dólares habían ido a parar a la cuenta bancaria de Francisco Flores. Cuando Flores fue interrogado por la Asamblea Nacional acerca de la gran cantidad de dinero, él respondido diciendo que el dinero provenía del gobierno de Taiwán y que él había tomado en realidad más de 10 millones de dólares de Taiwán. Fue después de esto que Flores intentó huir de El Salvador o trató de hacerlo parecer como que había huido. Flores hizo esto después de que se le ordenó volver a aparecer frente a la Asamblea Nacional una vez más, en la víspera de la primera ronda de las elecciones presidenciales salvadoreñas del 2014.

Los fondos que Francisco Flores había tomado eran en realidad parte de un conjunto de pagos secretos realizados anualmente por Taiwán. Taiwán tiene vínculos muy estrechos con El Salvador y Centroamérica. Aparte de los estados patrocinados por Estados Unidos en América Latina, el gobierno de Taiwán también se unió a los EE.UU e Israel para apoyar a los oligarcas en El Salvador contra el FMLN durante la guerra civil salvadoreña.

Los pagos secretos realizados por Taiwán a Flores fueron originalmente establecidos para evitar que El Salvador reconociera al gobierno de Beijing como el gobierno legítimo de China. Mientras que los pagos pueden haber sido originalmente anti-Beijing o un premio taiwanés para el reconocimiento de Taiwán en lugar del gobierno de la China continental, estos parecen haberse mantenido con sentimientos cada vez menos anti-Beijing. Los continuos pagos de Taiwán se mantuvieron para apuntalar el tratamiento ventajoso de los intereses comerciales de Taiwán y para obtener concesiones económicas en El Salvador, incluyendo el monopolio sobre el sector de la energía geotérmica salvadoreña que es completamente propiedad de Taiwán.

También vale la pena señalar que el gobierno de El Salvador y el de Taipéi han estado intercambiando información sobre el escándalo de corrupción. Esto se debe en parte al hecho de que Chen Shui-bian, fue el presidente de Taiwán, cuyo gobierno envió los fondos a Flores. Shui-bian y su esposa están ahora en la cárcel debido a las condenas por corrupción en Taiwán y es probable que haya una investigación paralela en Taipéi para examinar el papel de Shui-bian y sus asociados.

La estrella ascendente de China

La República Popular de China es un actor cada vez más importante en América Latina. Un importante proyecto que involucra a China, es la creación de un mega canal que conectara el Océano Atlántico con el Océano Pacífico, como un segundo canal de Panamá. Este segundo canal de Panamá, sin embargo, tendrá su sede en Nicaragua y será llamado el Gran Canal de Nicaragua. El gobierno de Nicaragua incluso firmó un acuerdo en 2012 con una empresa recién formada con sede en Hong Kong, llamada Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company Limited, dirigida por un hombre de negocios de telecomunicaciones china que funcionara como imán para la atracción de inversiones internacionales para la construcción del canal. El proyecto está previsto para que comience en cuestión de meses.

Cuando el FMLN logró que Mauricio Funes fuera elegido como presidente, inmediatamente hicieron que estableciera relaciones diplomáticas con Cuba, cuando fue inaugurado el 1 de junio de 2009. El anterior gobierno de ARENA se negó a tener relaciones con La Habana y estaba colaborando con los EE.UU en el bloqueo a Cuba y en oponerse a Venezuela y sus aliados regionales. Adicionalmente el FMLN, estableció relaciones diplomáticas con Vietnam, Camboya y Rusia. Sin embargo, y por múltiples razones ellos no establecieron relaciones con la República Popular de China.

La falta en reconocer a Beijing fue debido a la oposición del presidente Funes, quien ahora es el presidente saliente de El Salvador. Mauricio Funes, un ex empleado de CNN y locutor local muy popular, fue meramente respaldado por el FMLN. Funes no es un miembro del FMLN como algunos fuera de El Salvador asumen. Según el acuerdo al que Funes llegó con el FMLN, las carteras del gabinete salvadoreño se dividieron entre el FMLN y los individuos no pertenecientes al FMLN (popularmente llamados los “Amigos de Funes”) seleccionados por el Presidente Funes. En virtud de este acuerdo de reparto de poder, Funes controlaría las cuestiones estratégicas, la economía nacional, y la secretaría para las reformas políticas, mientras que el FMLN manejaría las carteras responsables de la asistencia sanitaria, la educación y la seguridad. Fue en este marco que Funes fue capaz de detener el reconocimiento de la República Popular de China y de obstaculizar las reformas económicas y políticas que el FMLN quería.

Para cuando el gobierno de El Salvador trató de contactar a las autoridades de Beijing, el gobierno chino se mostró indiferente a la idea de establecer relaciones diplomáticas. Esto fue probablemente debido a la demora, que el gobierno chino podría haber visto como un insulto a la dignidad de Beijing. Aunque el FMLN como partido político tiene enlaces directos a la República Popular de China a través de la oficina de asuntos internacionales del FMLN y sus delegaciones han sido invitadas a Beijing, el FMLN buscará la manera de establecer relaciones diplomáticas formales con Beijing, cuando el FMLN en la segunda ronda de votaciones de marzo, gane las elecciones presidenciales de 2014. En este contexto, un segundo mandato presidencial del FMLN ofrece la oportunidad para que el FMLN rectifique el error y reconozca rápidamente a Beijing bajo un nuevo capítulo cuando el vicepresidente Salvador Sánchez se convierta en el próximo presidente de El Salvador.

El gobierno salvadoreño y el FMLN le han dejado en claro a Taiwán que El Salvador, en última instancia, tiene la intención de reconocer la Beijing como el legítimo gobierno de China. Lo interesante a destacar aquí es, que no ha habido oposición de Taiwán en contra de esta decisión. Tampoco la ruptura de las relaciones diplomáticas entre San Salvador y Taipéi terminaría los lazos comerciales entre Taiwán y El Salvador. Hay incluso algún tipo de coordinación en silencio entre Taiwán y la República Popular de China en lo que respecta a esta trayectoria que cae en el marco de la unificación de China.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya actualmente está viajando por Centroamérica. En la actualidad se encuentra en León, el bastión del Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) en Nicaragua. Él se desempeñó como observador internacional en El Salvador durante la primera vuelta de las elecciones presidenciales en febrero de 2014 y mantuvo conversaciones con funcionarios salvadoreños sobre la economía salvadoreña y la política exterior.

 
Traducido del inglés por Marvin Najarro
Texto original en inglés – Strategic Culture Foundation - 16 febrero 2014.

US Escalates Syrian Intervention

February 17th, 2014 by Bill Van Auken

Having failed to advance regime-change in Syria through two rounds of talks in Geneva, the Obama administration is stepping up its funding and arming of Islamist and mercenary militias fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. And once again, Washington is turning toward direct military intervention.

In what marks a sharp escalation of the US-backed war for regime-change, the Saudi monarchy is shipping more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, to the so-called “rebels,” while the US itself is paying salaries to an entire “rebel” front in southern Syria near the Jordanian border.

The offer of the new weapons came at a January 30 meeting in Amman, Jordan between “rebels” and agents of both US and Saudi intelligence, theWall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing unnamed diplomats and “opposition figures.”

“At the meeting, US and Gulf officials said they were disappointed with the Syrian government’s refusal to discuss Mr. Assad’s ouster at the talks and suggested a military push was needed to force a political solution to the three-year war,” the Journal reported.

The aim is apparently to arm and organize an offensive to seize control of the southern suburbs of Damascus in order to subject the capital to military attack and force the ouster of Assad.

Previously, Washington voiced opposition to the provision of anti-aircraft missiles to the Islamist-dominated armed opposition in Syria out of concern that these weapons would end up in the hands of Al Qaeda-affiliated forces who could use them to attack US and other Western civilian passenger planes.

An unnamed US official told the Journal, “There hasn’t been a change on our view” regarding the missiles. Such declarations provide the Obama administration with rather less than plausible deniability, given that, according the Journal’s account, the promise to provide the Chinese-made portable missiles, known as Manpads, as well as anti-tank missiles, was made at the meeting between US and Saudi intelligence operatives and “rebel” leaders.

The same meeting was used to transfer US funds to pay salaries to what are effectively Western-controlled mercenaries fighting to bring down the Syrian regime. At least $3 million was paid out at the January 30 meeting and at another meeting held at the end of last year.

Jordan has been turned into a permanent base for this intervention. TheJournal report describes a “military operations room” in Amman that is staffed by “officials from the 11 countries that form the Friends of Syria group, including the US, Saudi Arabia, France and the UK.”

Obama flew to California Friday for confidential discussions with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at Sunnylands, the former Annenberg Estate. He promised the Hashemite monarch $1 billion in loan guarantees as well as the renewal of a memorandum of understanding that provides the kingdom with $600 million in US financial and military aid. In return, Washington wants a free hand in using Jordanian soil as a launching pad for aggression against Syria.

US officials have acknowledged that the Obama administration has initiated intense discussions on a shift in its policy toward Syria. Last Friday, speaking in Beijing, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Obama had “asked all of us to think about various options that may or may not exist.”

On the same day, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the Defense Department had drawn up a range of plans for military intervention. “There’s an interest in coming up with other options in Syria moving forward,” he said, while declining to spell out what actions were under discussion.

After coming to the brink of a direct military assault on the country five months ago, invoking false claims that the Assad regime had carried out chemical weapons attacks on the civilian population, Obama backed down in the face of overwhelming popular opposition and the failure to win support from either the US Congress or Washington’s closest ally, Britain. It accepted Russia’s proposal of a negotiated chemical disarmament of the Syrian regime, parallel to a deal on Iran’s nuclear program and the organization of the Geneva talks between the US-backed Syrian opposition and Damascus.

The failure to advance the goal of regime-change via the Geneva negotiationswhich broke down Saturday with no date set for their resumptiontogether with a noticeable deterioration in relations between Washington and Moscow, have led to a shift back toward an escalation of the US intervention in the war-torn country.

The administration and its supporters are advancing a series of mutually contradictory pretexts for this escalation. On the one hand, it has been ratcheting up a public campaign for intervention on the bogus grounds that US militarism is a force for “humanitarianism.” The hunger, homelessness, death and destruction wrought by nearly three years of a war instigated by Washington and its allies are now invoked as justification for more of the same.

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, who made her reputation as an advocate of “humanitarian” imperialism before joining the administration, has been the point person for this propaganda ploy. Speaking at the UN last week, she invoked “images of emaciated and tortured Syrians, of dead and dying children, and of so much more” to argue for a Security Council resolution that would have “meaningful consequences on the ground,” meaning a text that could be used to justify the use of military force under the guise of providing aid to the civilian population.

This pretext is based on the lie that only the Syrian government is fighting in the civil war, and that the massacres, sieges and other atrocities carried out by the US-backed forces simply have not occurred.

The particular utility of this pretext is its attraction for a pseudo-left layer that has been won to the cause of “humanitarian” imperialism over the past two decades, from the US-NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia to the US-NATO war in Libya and the current intervention in Syria. Speaking for this layer, Danny Postel, an academic and regular contributor to pseudo-left journals such as the Nation and In These Times, penned a New York Timesop-ed piece together with Nader Hashemi entitled “Use Force to Save Starving Syrians.”

Then there are the increasingly insistent claims that Washington must intervene because Syria is becoming a haven for Al Qaeda elements that could launch terror attacks on the US and other Western countries. The US provision of arms is being justified on the grounds that elements of the “rebels” have fought the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in an internecine conflict in the north of the country. The reality is that this conflict has pitted ISIS (which was expelled by Al Qaeda) against the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front and other Islamists. While Washington talks incessantly about arming “moderate” and “secular” forces, it can never provide the name or identity of any such force.

This case was made by former US national security advisor Samuel Berger, who argued in a Washington Post column: “The United States will not be able to defeat Al Qaeda in Syria by itself. To counter it, we must strengthen the relatively moderate elements among the opposition.” In the same breath, he acknowledged that the military aid he is advocating “may be diverted to bad actors.”

The third pretext was indicated by Obama himself, who suggested that stepped-up military operations against Syria were needed to promote peace. “There will,” he said, “be some intermediate steps that we can take to exercise more pressure on the Assad government… to try to move forward on a diplomatic solution.” This is patent nonsense. Washington ensured that the Geneva talks were never more than a charade, with its hand-picked “opposition,” representing nothing more than the intelligence agencies that pay them, demanding that the Assad regime hand over the reins of power.

Behind all of these pretexts lies the drive by US imperialism to assert its hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East and weaken its rivalsIran, Russia and China—by employing militarist threats and actions that pose the danger of a regional and even global conflagration.

The polarized politics of Venezuela are again in the news as demonstrations by pro- (see the first photograph below) and anti-government forces are taking place, with, at this point, four deaths: a government supporter; an opposition demonstrator; a police officer; and one of uncertain provenance.

But the foreign press is portraying these as evidence of bloody government repression.

Not to go over old ground, at least too much, but this manufactured crisis is a re-run. Anyone remember the massive demo/counter-demo at the Miraflores palace in 2002, the lead-up to a short-lived coup against Hugo Chávez?

[T]here were 19 fatalities that day. Seven of the dead had participated in the pro-Chávez demonstration, seven in the anti-Chávez demonstration, and five were non-partisan bystanders. Also, there were a total of 69 wounded that day. 38 in the pro-Chávez demonstration, 17 in the opposition demonstration, and 14 were reporters or unaffiliated passers-by.

That was all blamed on Chávez at the time, by the opposition and by much of the international press. Supposedly he ordered the military, and unidentified pro-Chávez thugs, to fire into the crowds of opposition demonstrators. As with the current unrest, it seems that the government side had remarkably poor aim.

There is no flabby pretense of “objectivity” on the part of the international media when it comes to Venezuela. That country poses a stark threat to the hegemonic order, characterized these days by tame Latin American states, emerging from US-backed military dictatorships, now gamely accepting neoliberal economic policies like good little boys and girls. Having enough oil wealth to say No to all that, Venezuela created its own counter-hegemonic partnership, ALBA-TCP. And domestically, while all we hear about is toilet-paper shortages and inflation, there has been substantial progress on a number of fronts for years now—a sharp reduction of dire poverty, major advances in education, reduced child mortality, and rapid steps taken towards gender equality, maternal health, and environmental protection.

You won’t read much about that in the mainstream foreign media.

Instead, we’ll hear about opposition grievances of all kinds, and we’ll get photographs, too, circulated on Twitter and sometimes picked up by big news outlets like CNN. Here are some brutal cops, with nice woolly caps and fur collars to guard against the 24°C Caracas weather, I assume.

And visiting police officers from Bulgaria:

And a casualty:

 

But the victim here was a pro-Chavez demonstrator: and the picture was taken last year.

Here’s a re-purposed photo actually taken in Argentina:

And here’s a photo from Chile:

Here’s an unfortunate fellow, shot in April and then again in the exact-same way during the current protests:

 This one is so iconic! But CNN had to admit that the graphic photo was actually taken in Singapore:

 Here’s one from Greece:

 And here’s an absolutely shameless steal from Egypt: this photo became known world-wide during the Arab Spring:

 Here’s a heart-wrenching picture of babies in laundry-baskets, with the question, What kind of revolution is this? The photo is from Honduras:

Here’s my personal fave: a religious procession, reincarnated as an anti-government protest:

The social media that make this stuff go viral, and even attract mainstream media like CNN, are also the means by which fakers are quickly unmasked. Readers are invited to contribute more links to this international cavalcade of anti-government protest and government brutality in the make-believe land called “Venezuela.”

RT is the best English language news source available to Americans. On January 29, RT published a photo of 5 presidential appointees lying through their teeth to Congress.

All five of these Gestapo wannabes are in violation of their oath of office to protect the Constitution of the United States. They have relentlessly violated the Constitution, which makes these five, who are in charge of US intelligence and black operations, traitors to the United States.  Yet, they have not been arrested and put on trial.  Congress is content to sit there and listen to their ongoing lies time after time after time, despite the fact that these 5 have committed more and worse crimes against our country than the “terrorists” that serve as an excuse for the crimes committed by the intelligence agencies. 
(L-R) National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen, FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn testify during a hearing before Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee January 29, 2014 (Alex Wong / Getty Images / AFP)

(L-R) National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen, FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn testify during a hearing before Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee January 29, 2014 (Alex Wong / Getty Images / AFP)

 Remember, dear readers, it is a crime for you to lie to any federal agent even if you are not under oath or before Congress. How much more evidence do you need that you are not a citizen of the United States but a mere serf of the federal government?  Will you ever wake up?

James Clapper, who has the grand title of Director Of National Intelligence, is an admitted liar to the US Congress but nevertheless remains in office.  That Clapper is still in office is a good measure of the decline both in the integrity of the US government and in the integrity that Congress, media, and the public expect from the government.  President Nixon was driven from office for a very small thing:  Nixon lied about when he learned about a burglary with which he had nothing to do.  Clapper brazenly lied to the US Congress, denying that he was spying on members of the US Congress. 

Clapper is not only in violation of the Constitution, he has committed a felony, especially under the stretched interpretation of laws that is the norm for Department of Justice prosecutions. Huge numbers of Americans are in prison for offenses that are molehills compared to Clapper’s, or for that matter, any of the other five sitting there lying to Congress.

The Five Criminals told Congress that Edward Snowden, who is under the protection of the Russian government, must be made to give back the evidence of NSA spying on the entire world before some US troops or diplomats are killed by terrorists in some future war started by Washington, which routinely dismisses the victims of its war crimes as “collateral damage.” 

None of the Five Criminals were able to specify how Congress could make the Russian government hand over Snowden. Rabid Republican warmongers have falsely and propagandistically accused Snowden of being “a Russian spy.”  What utter dishonesty! The only reason Snowden is in Russia is that the US, in violation of international law, refuses to allow an airplane to fly from Russia with Snowden to any of the South American countries that have granted Snowden asylum.  The fact that Snowden is in Russia is entirely the fault of Washington.

As I have written and said on many occasions, facts mean nothing to Washington, to the presstitute media, and to most of the American population, who prefer comforting lies to reality.

No one in the American media or most Internet sites will dare tell you that the reason the Five Criminals are again lying to Congress is to deflect Congress and an insouciant public and media from the fact that they have violated the law and their oath of office, and that the only purpose of invoking “national security” is to protect the criminal actions of the security agencies from being discovered. “National Security” is the blanket under which the crimes of government are hidden. 

All that “national security” means is that “we are not going to let anyone find out that we are nothing but a gang of criminal thugs, and we are going to use the cover of national security to demonize Snowden who told on us.”

The so-called “security agencies” and their media whores have created a wartime atmosphere of fear as if the “world’s only superpower” was about to be destroyed by a handful of lightly armed fighters thousands of miles away who resist Washington’s invasions of their countries in corners of the earth that most Americans cannot find on a map. What kind of superpower is so terrified by peoples that the superpower choses to invade and murder?  If the wronged people are so threatening, the superpower should stay at home and leave them alone.

Listen to this bullshit from Clapper:  As a consequence of Snowden, “the nation is less safe and its people less secure.” The truth is the opposite of what Clapper states.  Snowden alerted us to the fact that Clapper was shredding the US Constitution that is our greatest protection. Clapper, who should be in the dock for treason, has stolen our rights and our shield against harm and abuse from arbitrary government power. Clapper is an enemy of every American.

Listen to this b**t  from Lt. Gen, Michael Flynn, director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, who stupidly asserts that Snowden’s revelations of illegal mass spying on the US citizens and the world caused “grave damage” to “national security.”

What the general means is that it caused damage to his reputation and brought him some cause for anxiety by revealing that he was engaged in criminal activity.  But the general knew how to invoke the sympathy and support of the right-wing superpatriots.  He declared that the greatest cost of Snowden’s revelations is “the cost of human lives on tomorrow’s battlefield or in some place where we will put our military forces when we ask them to go into harm’s way.”  He is, of course, talking about the next time that Washington criminally attacks another country in total violation of the Nuremberg standard.

Senator Barbara Mikulski listening to this b**t [BS] said that what was needed was a Supreme Court ruling “to determine the constitutionality of these programs.”  Was this sincere or a cop-out? Why is Mikulski passing the buck? The current Republican Supreme Court is corrupt and will not defend the Constitution. One of the leading Republican lights, as dimly lit as he is, Justice Antonin Scalia, truthfully said that concentration camps are a likely future reality for Americans and that the Supreme Court would not do anything about the tyranny should the executive branch think it necessary.

Senator Ron Wyden told the Five Criminals, “I don’t think this culture of misinformation [that the Five Criminals represent] is going to be easily fixed.”

Nothing will be fixed until the Five Criminals are arrested and put on trial for treason and until Congress defunds the illegal wars and states firmly, backed up with the threat of impeachment, that there is no such thing as “the unitary executive” who is above law, Constitution, Congress, and the federal courts. The Supreme Court will not protect us.  Congress must put the executive branch on notice that it is not above the law and the Constitution.

Americans have lost the rule of law.  Unless Congress quickly restores it, the country is lost.

By Dr. Richard Cordero

1. The U.S. Constitution provides in Article II, Section 4, thus: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”.

2. The Constitution does not state what constitutes “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”. Nor can the Federal Judiciary do so since there is no right to appeal an impeachment to any of its courts. An impeachment is a political, not a judicial, decision, and so is the definition of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”. At stake is not the impeached officer’s property, liberty, or life. Rather, We the People, the source of all political power, take back through our representatives in Congress the office that we gave the officer. Thus, whether the President commits an impeachable ‘High Crime or Misdemeanor’ when he lies to the People is a matter for the latter and their representatives to decide.

3. Had the Constitution provided for impeachment only for “High Crimes”, the conduct underlying the impeachment would have to attain a particularly conspicuous level of unacceptability to become a ‘High Crime’. But also “Misdemeanors” support an impeachment. Hence, the level of unacceptability of a certain conduct does not determine whether it is impeachable. Nor does it affect the punishment, for impeachment always leads to the officer being “removed from Office”.

4. An impeachment is in the nature of a recall, that is, the procedure under the federal Constitution for effectuating the principle, “the People giveth, and the People taketh away”. They are the masters in government of, by, and for them. Officers are public servants and as such are answerable to their masters, the People, who can impeach them.

 5. Therefore, the impeachability of an officer who lies must be determined in light of:

a. the circumstances evidencing that he knew that his statement was counterfactual so that his making it anyway was deceptive, a lie, and as a result, a betrayal of public trust on which his forfeiture of public office can be predicated;

b.    the motive for lying, and

c. the consequences of the lie, even if unintended, for an officer who due to incompetence cannot foresee the consequences of his lie is also impeachable.

  A.      The circumstances evidencing knowledge of a counterfactual statement

 6. Let’s make such determination concerning President Obama’s vouching to the American public for the honesty of his first nominee to the Supreme Court, Then-Judge Sotomayor(*>http://Judicial-Discipline-Reform.org/OL/DrRCordero-Honest_Jud_Advocates.pdf >jur:65§1). The circumstances evidencing his knowledge that his statement was counterfactual are these:

a. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico[107a] had suspected her of concealing assets. Concealment of assets is a crime[ol:5fn10]committed to evade taxes or launder money of its illegal source and bring it back with the appearance of being lawful so as to invest it openly without the risk of self-incrimination attached to investing dirty, unlawfully obtained money.

b.    The FBI must have investigated such suspicion of concealment of asset, for it could have derailed J. Sotomayor’s confirmation. Using its subpoena and search and seizure power, it must have compelled production of, and obtained, documents that even those three major news entities could not obtain employing only the means of lawful investigative journalism. Had the FBI found a satisfactory explanation that dispelled the suspicion, it would have given it to the President, who would have made it public to put the issue to rest and spare himself a major embarrassment, much worse than that experienced by P. Bush when Harriet Miers withdrew her name under criticism that she lacked the qualifications needed to be a justice.

No such explanation was ever publicized. Far from it, these news entities dropped the issue inexplicably and simultaneously. Yet, each could have reasonably expected to win a Pulitzer Prize had it found the concealed assets of J. Sotomayor or led her or the President to withdraw her name, or even caused her to resign as a circuit judge, never mind be indicted for concealing assets. Was there a quid pro quo between the President and those entities?(jur:xlviii)

c. J. Sotomayor filed “complete” financial statements with the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in response to its two judicial nomination questionnaires and questions in letters. The Committee posted them on its website[107b]. To avoid embarrassing surprise(cf. jur:93¶211), the FBI must have done its due diligence by checking them against the statements that she had submitted to the President while he was considering candidates for his nomination. It would have been cause for grave concern if she had submitted inconsistent statements. After tabulating the figures in the statements filed with the Senate, they lead to this conclusion:

Judge Sotomayor earned $3,773,824 since 1988 + received $381,775 in loans = $4,155,599 + her 1976-1987 earnings, yet disclosed assets worth only $543,903 thus leaving unaccounted for in her answers to the Senate Judiciary Committee $3,611,696 – taxes and the cost of her reportedly modest living[107c.i]

7. President Obama’s lie can be established or dispelled by circumstantial evidence, and also objectively, e.g., by his agreeing to release unredacted all the FBI vetting reports on J. Sotomayor.

  B.      The motive for lying

8.   The motive of the President to lie about J. Sotomayor’s honesty was to curry favor with those who were petitioning him to replace Retiring Justice Souter with a woman and the first Latina, and from whom he expected in return their support to pass through Congress the Obamacare bill. That was the central piece of his legislative agenda, the one in which he had a personal interest because its continued validity by the Supreme Court upholding its constitutionality would make him go down in history as the president who managed to pass universal health care while many others had failed trying to do so.

  C.      The consequences of lying

9.   The consequences of the President’s lying by vouching for J. Sotomayor’s honesty are substantially harmful and lasting. With respect to those who supported her confirmation for the Supreme Court, it constituted fraud in the inducement, for he told them a lie to induce them to support the confirmation of a person whom on his word they took for honest.

10. With respect to those petitioning for another women and the first Latina, it constituted fraud in the performance, for they could reasonably expect that out of a population of over 300 million people and the pool drawn from it of women and Latinas qualified to be justices, he would choose one who was also honest and would not disappoint and embarrass them by being exposed later on as dishonest.

11. The president heads the Executive Branch. His duty is to execute the bills of Congress enacted into law. His execution of Congress’s acts through his enforcement of the law is his function; it is not optional with him. His office carries neither discretionary power to enforce the law nor the power to exempt at will anybody from its enforcement. The president must enforce the law on everybody equally, as provided by law, including tax, financial, and criminal laws.

12. By failing to enforce those laws on J. Sotomayor, President Obama committed dereliction of duty. By so failing, he also compounded the crime because he knew of her concealment of assets, and should have known if instead of looking with willful blindness at NYT, WP, and Politico’s suspicion that she had concealed assets, and looking away with willful ignorance(jur:90§§b-c), he had diligently performed his duty to vet her properly.

13. Since Obamacare had not been passed by Congress yet, the President could not possibly have nominated J. Sotomayor for a justiceship because she happened to agree with its provisions, for nobody knew what the bill would look like in its final form, that is, if it were ever passed. Moreover, the Democrats have been criticized for having rushed Obamacare through Congress with almost no debate so that the members had barely any opportunity to read it. The fact that the bill ran well in excess of 1,000 pages made it all the more difficult for anybody to read it in its entirety Thus, it is reasonable to assume that she had not read it either.

14. By the President not enforcing the law on J. Sotomayor upon an explicit or implicit agreement that in exchange for nominating her to the Supreme Court she would support the constitutionality of Obamacare when, as expected, it came before the Court for review, he committed bribery. In that unlawful swap of benefits, the President abused his power of nomination to turn his nomination of her into the benefit that he gave. In exchange, he obtained the benefit of an agreement to prejudge Obamacare to be constitutional, whereby he intended to deprive the challenging party of its right to its day in court before a fair and impartial judge; and intended to obstruct justice. Since J. Sotomayor was a public officer, the President committed an act of corruption of a public officer.

 15. To vouch for J. Sotomayor’s honesty, President Obama covered up her concealment of assets. Since that is a crime, id. he became an accessory after the fact for the crime already committed. He also became an accessory before the fact for the crime that he knew she would continue to commit, for J. Sotomayor could not thereafter declare her concealed assets without her sudden and unexplainable possession of such assets incriminating her. Therefore, relative to her continuing crime of keeping assets concealed, the President incurs continuing accessorial liability.

 16. Assets are concealed to evade taxes and launder money of their unlawful origin. When the President lied to cover up J. Sotomayor’s concealment of assets, he abetted and continues to abet her evasion of taxes, which are collected for the common good. So he inflicted a financial injury in fact on the people and still inflicts a continuing financial injury in fact. By allowing her to engage in money laundering, he facilitated and continues to facilitate financial corruption.

17.A judge who breaks the law shows contempt for it and those whose interests it intends to protect. She cannot reasonably be expected to respect the law enough to apply it fairly and impartially. In fact, due to practical considerations, she cannot because a yet to be exposed law-breaking judge is impaired by a conflict of interests: She has a duty to apply the law, but her application of it can lead to investigations and the incrimination of third parties. They can expose her law-breaking and cause those parties to enter into a plea bargain whereby in exchange for leniency they provide information or testimony exposing the judge’s law-breaking.

 18. The risk of exposure undermines her resolve to apply the law and renders her vulnerable to, and extortionable by, third parties. She owes a debt of survival to those who did not, or have agreed explicitly or implicitly not to, expose her. Her mutually dependent survival, assured through coordination(88§a) becomes her first concern; doing justice is downgraded to only a request of litigants. Her unfitness to discharge the duties of her office is foreseeable. Such foreseeability makes applicable the principle that a person is deemed to intend the reasonable consequences of his acts.

 19. By the President nominating for a justiceship J. Sotomayor, whom he knew to be breaking the law by concealing assets, and by causing senators to shepherd her confirmation through Congress(78§6), he exercised power irresponsibly since he exercised power irresponsibly since he intentionally caused a person known to him to be unfit for office to be vested with it. He also intentionally and knowingly undermined the institutional integrity of the Supreme Court, the Federal Judiciary, and the process of judicial confirmation.

20. By so doing, the President has intentionally and knowingly inflicted on the American people the dishonest service of J. Sotomayor. For her next 30 years or so on the Supreme Court, just as she helps shape the law of the land that she will hold others to obey, she will continue to break it and harm others so as to resolve her conflict of interests in favor of her survival(jur:xxxv), her peers(jur:71§4), and those who can expose a source(jur:66§§2-3) of assets to conceal and the whereabouts of her concealed assets.

    D.      Action that the readers, journalists, and We the People can take

 21. The readers of this article may share it with journalists and the rest of the national public. Informed of its considerations at the start of the mid-term election campaign, the public may demand that all candidates and politicians ask the President to release unredacted all the FBI vetting reports on Justice Sotomayor. If they raise concerns about her asset-concealing or other law-breaking, then he had at least circumstantial evidence requiring that he not vouch for her honesty because to do so was counterfactual and knowingly deceptive: a lie. Given his motive for, and the consequences of, lying, We the People and our current and would-be representatives can determine whether his lie constitutes an impeachable ‘High Crime or Misdemeanor’.

 22. Journalists can pursue an investigation(ol:66) guided by a proven devastating query(jur:4¶¶10-14) that can dominate the campaign: What did the President know[23b] about J. Sotomayor’s concealment of assets and when did he know it?(ol:54)

Dare trigger history!(dcc:11)…and you may enter it.

NOTE:

All (parenthetical) and [bracketed] blue text is references to supporting passages and footnotes, respectively, found in the study, Exposing Judges’ Unaccountability and Consequent Riskless Wrongdoing: Pioneering the news and publishing field of judicial unaccountability reporting. That study is in the file downloadable through the external link http://Judicial-Discipline-Reform.org/OL/DrRCordero-Honest_Jud_Advocates.pdf. In the study and everything else in the file, the blue text represents active cross-referential internal links that facilitate jumping to supporting passages and footnotes to check them.

Dr. Richard Cordero, Esq.; and its link accompanies it: http://Judicial-Discipline-Reform.org/OL/DrRCordero-Honest_Jud_Advocates.pdf >ol:70-72.
[email protected]

Copyright Dr. Richard Cordero 2014

Thousands of government supporters gathered yesterday in Caracas to call for “peace” after violent clashes left three dead on Wednesday. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles today called supporters to gather for a national march “against paramilitaries and violence”.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro held the mass rally to reject the violent incidents at some opposition protests in recent weeks. The worst of the violence occurred in Caracas on Wednesday, when clashes left three dead and several dozen wounded. There are conflicting accounts as to exactly what happened.

Maduro used yesterday’s gathering to attack what he called a “coup plot” by the far right opposition, and to promote his “national pacification plan” to reduce crime and tackle political violence. He told supporters that to construct peace in Venezuela, political differences should be settled through a battle of ideas, not arms.

“We call on all Venezuela to combat in the streets with ideas, with values, in high quality debate, with respect for people’s rights, without violence,” Maduro declared.

The Venezuelan president also warned extremist groups within Chavismo that violent acts would not be tolerated. The opposition has accused such groups of involvement in Wednesday’s deadly clashes.

“I want to say clearly: someone puts on a red t-shirt with Chavez’s face and takes out a pistol to attack, isn’t a Chavista or a revolutionary. I don’t accept violent groups within the camp of Chavismo and the Bolivarian revolution,” Maduro stated.

“If you want to have arms to fight…get out of Chavismo,” the president warned, stating that security forces are the only organisations that should possess guns in Venezuela.

Maduro also said that violent opposition members had perpetrated attacks on the Attorney General’s office on Wednesday, and said those responsible for the day’s violent acts would be brought to justice.

“The people want justice, justice against fascism and violence. There’s going to be justice…fascism is fought with the law, justice and severe punishment,” he said.

Venezuela’s Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Diaz, has said that investigations into Wednesday’s violence and murders are underway, and that “no one can be accused until the results of the investigation are obtained”.

Authorities are still searching for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who they want to charge for his alleged involvement in Wednesday’s violence. Lopez had been leading a campaign called “the exit” to force President Maduro’s resignation, and is reportedly still in the country.

Protests continue

Student-led opposition protests continue in Venezuela, although with reduced numbers and intensity compared to Wednesday. Opposition supporters complain about issues such as crime, inflation and shortages, and many have demanded the president’s resignation.

Violent sectors of the opposition have also committed a variety of violent acts at some protests in recent weeks. In the city of Mérida, a focal point of recent protests, Venezuelanalysis.com observed them setting up burning barricades, throwing stones, and threatening civilians at gunpoint.

Peaceful opposition protests took place in several Venezuelan cities yesterday, including Mérida, San Cristobal, Maturin and Puerto Ordaz. However, a protest in the Chacao area of Caracas last night turned violent, with some 500 stone-throwing rioters causing damages to a state-owned bank, a government bus and a Supreme Court office. The opposition leader of the municipality, Ramon Muchacho, condemned the “violence and vandalism” of those involved.

According to local press reports the National Guard used tear gas and pellets to contain the rioters, leaving a toll of 17 wounded and 2 arrested.

Venezuela’s internal affairs minister, Miguel Rodriguez, said in a statement today that of 120 people arrested during recent protests, only 14 remain in custody, to be charged with specific acts of vandalism and violence.

“We have always acted in respect of human rights…when protests have been peaceful and within the law, the PNB (National Bolivarian Police) have protected the safety of these youths,” the minister’s statement read.

Rodriguez also accused Henrique Capriles, the opposition governor of Miranda state, of “passing the buck” and not acting to control violent street actions in his jurisdiction, leaving the task to the national government instead.

Capriles calls national march

In a press conference today, Henrique Capriles distanced himself from the actions of violent opposition groups, referring to them as “infiltrators”. “Let’s isolate the infiltrators…we reject violence wherever it comes from,” he said.

“Legitimate peaceful protest must be orientated. It must be given a focus,” the former presidential candidate added. Capriles then called for a national opposition march “against paramilitaries and violence”, saying he would announce the time and location soon. He added that he was in “solidarity” with Leopoldo Lopez, despite the differences they had about opposition strategy.

Finally, Capriles attacked what he called government “censorship” of recent protests, referring to the blocking of Colombian channel NTN24 from transmitting on Venezuelan cable services. Maduro said NTN24 was trying to promote “anxiety” in the population to promote a state coup “like April 2002”.

The Venezuelan opposition has also accused the government of blocking twitter users from seeing online images following Wednesday’s violence. Bloomberg reported yesterday that a twitter spokesperson had confirmed the claim.

However the government’s telecommunications company CANTV “emphatically and categorically” denied the accusation. It said the servers responsible for twitter are located outside of Venezuela, and a similar problem with loading online images on Wednesday had occurred in several countries.

A check by Venezuelanalysis.com of twitter within Venezuela encountered a problem loading accounts on Thursday evening, however it was not clear if this was an isolated incident or not. Checks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday have found twitter working as normal, with the accounts of far-right opposition figures active and images posted to those accounts loading without a problem.

Today information minister Delcy Rodriguez hit out at opposition social media activists for misusing and manipulating images which are then picked up by foreign media to mislead the public on events within Venezuela.

Examples given in her presentation included ABC’s use of a photo showing police attacking a protestor in Egypt, and claiming it was example of a protest in Venezuela. In another case, opposition social media activists used a photo of police dragging a student away during a protest in Chile, and claimed it was from Venezuela’s current protests.

Rodriguez also presented footage which showed attacks against the headquarters of state channel VTV by radical opposition activists for the previous four nights. The video showed people setting up burning barricades outside the station and throwing Molotov cocktails at the building.

Ukraine Amnesty Law Declared for pro-EU Protesters

February 17th, 2014 by Ria Novosti

An amnesty law to drop criminal cases against hundreds of pro-EU protesters in Ukraine will enter into force on Monday, authorities said Sunday.

Charges will be dropped against demonstrators who were detained or charged with crimes during mass anti-government rallies in Ukraine between December 27 and February 2, a statement on the general prosecutor’s website said.

The statement did not specify how many protesters would be amnestied. Ukraine’s chief prosecutor said in early February that a total of 259 demonstrators would receive clemency under the agreement.

The announcement appears to signal that the Ukrainian opposition has satisfied government demands to unblock streets and release City Hall in Kiev, which has been occupied by protesters for over two months, as a condition of the amnesty.

Demonstrators withdrew from the building on Sunday afternoon, but threatened to take it back if authorities did not immediately make good on promises to drop charges against political activists.

Protesters also left Gruskevsky Street in Kiev, the scene of the most violent clashes that injured over 200 people on both sides and left three protesters dead last month, as part of the deal to relieve tensions in the capital.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, welcomed the evacuation of City Hall on Sunday as a de-escalation of the standoff between the government and opposition that has seized the country since November.

Protests erupted across Ukraine after President Viktor Yanukovych rejected an association agreement with the European Union to sign a $15 billion aid package with Russia instead.

The demonstrations initially vented anger at the abandoned trade deal, but quickly turned into a broad anti-government protest movement.

Remember that flurry of news reports in December 2013 about a middle school with a zero tolerance weapons policy suspending two fifth grade boys, one for pretending to use a book as a “gun” and the other for responding with a wholly imaginary bow and arrow? It really happened. And now the school district has acted to remedy a mistake that it has not admitted, and for which none of the school authorities apparently face any accountability.

The initial incident lasted a few seconds in mid-October, in the South Eastern School District of York, Pennsylvania, where the schools’ motto is “Providing Progressive Education to Strengthen the Global Community.” The two boys’ by-play created no “disruption” that the teacher noticed, but when a girl in the class told the teacher what the boys had done, the teacher decided to take action. She took both boys into the hall to lecture them about the disruption that she hadn’t witnessed. Had the incident ended there, it would have amounted to little more than the sort of trivial classroom injustice most students experience or witness, and there would have been no news coverage. 

But the teacher carried on. She reported the boys to the principal and she emailed their parents. In her email to Beverly Jones, the mother of the child who used an imaginary bow and arrow, the teacher said she was alerting her to the seriousness of the violation because the children were using “firearms” in their horseplay. Beverly Jones was not amused. She knew her son Johnny to be a good student with no behavior problems.

When Principal Jon Horton called her to say he was suspending the boys for a day, but was doing them a favor by making it an in-school suspension in his office, Beverly Jones took issue with the school’s response. She wanted to know how her son could violate a weapons policy when he had no weapon, and when no one had even accused him of having a weapon.

 When the Principal Horton and District Superintendent Rona Kaufmann effectively stonewalled Beverly Jones, she went for legal help to the Rutherford Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, which bills itself as “dedicated to the defense of civil liberties and human rights” and provides pro bono legal services to people like the Joneses. Founding attorney John Whitehead acted on the Jones’s behalf on December 4, writing a letter to school authorities and issuing a press release about the case with the letter attached.

 Nothing like a lawyer to get bureaucrats’ attention  

 With the story of a ten year old punished for an imaginary weapon getting local news coverage and play on the Internet – almost all of it making the school look ridiculous – school attorneys were soon in touch with Whitehead looking for a settlement.

On January 16, the Rutherford Institute issued another press release with the headline: ”VICTORY: School Officials to Lift Suspension from 10-Year-Old Who Shot Imaginary Arrow at Pennsylvania Elementary School” over a story that reported in part:

“School officials at South Eastern School District agreed to remove the suspension of Johnny Jones, a fifth grader at South Eastern Middle School, after a face-to-face meeting with his mother arranged by attorneys on both sides. In coming to Jones’ defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys asked that the District immediately rescind the suspension from Jones’ permanent school record, asserting that the disciplinary action was unsupported by district policy and was a wholly unreasonable and disproportionate response to the action of the child.” 

 As victories go, it was pretty limited, with no payment to the wronged child, no admission of fault by the school, in fact with no written agreement whatsoever between the parties. In response to an inquiry, the Institute explained briefly:

“Nothing in writing, but they have assured Beverly Jones that the record is clean and she is satisfied.”

 Superintendent Kauffmann did not respond to inquiries.

It remains unclear what this means for the other boy, since his parents never registered an objection to the school’s draconian decision-making process, which lacked anything like reasonable due process of justice.

There is no indication that the school has any plans to make any amends to the two boys who served wrongful suspensions.

Nor is there any indication that the school will be taking any steps to change either its no tolerance policy on weapons or its irrational application of that policy in practice. According to one report, “the district says it has no zero-tolerance policies.” While the policy itself does not use the phrase “zero tolerance,” and while it is not a model of clarity, it says nothing to lead the reader to believe that the policy promotes any tolerance.

Victory? The school has no reason not to behave mindlessly again

“The Rutherford Institute has been called on to intervene in hundreds of cases like this involving young people who were suspended, expelled, and even arrested for conduct, no matter how minor or non-threatening the so-called infraction may have been. We are gratified that the District recognized that allowing the suspension to remain on this student’s record was a senseless targeting of imaginary horseplay,” the press release quoted Whitehead as saying.

As president of The Rutherford Institute, Whitehead said the organization handles “anything dealing with freedom issues,” such as free speech, illegal police searches, or protestor cases, among others. In 2013, Whitehead published his book, “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State” in which he argues that “we in the emerging American police state find ourselves reliving the same set of circumstances over and over again—egregious surveillance, strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, government spying, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, etc.” against which he calls for a second American revolution.

And yet Whitehead in the Johnny Jones case hasn’t required the authorities to put anything in writing, or even to admit fault. Instead he has settled for the mother’s acceptance of the school’s oral reassurance that Johnny Jones’s suspension record has been expunged and will remain expunged, even though Whitehead himself has doubts that any digital expungement can be made without leaving a trace.

 This is a strange ending to a case about which Whitehead wrote in December that:

“the zero tolerance/censorship regime which dominates American public education can easily translate into a disaster for civil society at large in the coming years. We’ve chosen to terminate natural childhood development in favor of strict adherence to authority and muting unique, interesting, and valid viewpoints in favor of maintaining the status quo. Worse than this, however, is the fact that we’re setting ourselves up for the complete destruction of our democratic society and our democratic institutions in favor of an authoritarian bureaucratic apparatus…. What it will eventually amount to is the termination of freedom in the United States.”  

Johnny Jones was the victim of an authoritarian bureaucratic apparatus and it’s anyone’s guess what he’s learned from experience. But it could be that even outspoken critics have a hard time holding anyone in that bureaucratic apparatus personally accountable for anything. No self-respecting police state would tolerate that.

Why Occupy Bangkok is Working and Occupy Wall Street Didn’t

February 17th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

Occupy Wall Street, ideologically speaking, could not have been any more universally appealing. It was the 99% against the 1% (or more accurately – the 99.9% vs. the 0.1%), with the realization that big money had taken over politics and society to the detriment of all, regardless of political affiliation.

With such a broadly appealing message, how come the movement fizzled?

Conversely, on the other side of the planet, “Occupy Bangkok” seeks to overthrow a regime propped up by Wall Street – that of billionaire despot Thaksin Shinawatra who for over a decade has served Western interests at great cost to the Southeast Asian nation of Thailand. Unlike Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Bangkok has been greatly successful. It has united unions, students, farmers, workers, business owners both big and small, against the corrosive influence of Thaksin Shinawatra and his Western backers.

 

Image: Occupy Bangkok has exposed and hobbled the Wall Street-backed regime of Thaksin Shinawatra. It has succeeded where Occupy Wall Street hasn’t because it is backed by numerous, influential institutions with wide and varied operational capacities. Tactically, economically, and politically, cornering, undermining or otherwise ending the protests have proved impossible for the regime.

Recent elections overseen by the regime unraveled in humiliation with less than half of the nation even choosing to vote. Of those that did, many defaced their ballots or checked “no vote” in protest. The protests which have been ongoing for months, have effectively hobbled the regime. Its collapse is now inevitable.

They have done so because they have institutions standing behind them, from media, to military, to courts, and large, influential political parties, as well as genuine, indigenous NGOs – all combining and coordinating against the regime and its foreign backers to equal or best every move they make.

The regime has been unable to move police against them in fear of provoking the military. They have been unable to financially cripple the protesters because of the large and diverse interests backing them through creative and ever shifting means. They have been unable to drown out the voice of the protesters because the protesters possess themselves large media platforms within Thailand, and alternative voices beyond, that are able to tell their side of the story.

None of this was present at Occupy Wall Street. The Western media was easily able to first turn it into a “left/right” wedge issue, then turn the “right” against the “left,” before labeling the protesters as “fringe left,” just before police swept protesters from the streets in swift, coordinated, and utterly unopposed operations across the country. The little political and institutional backing the movement did receive was merely superficial opportunism and theater to perpetuate America’s false “left/right” political paradigm – some backing from establishment institutions like George Soros’ Open Society, was designed in fact to undermine, not support the movement. .

Institutions Make the World Go Round 

Power stems from organized institutions. Empires were not built by mere armies and navies – they also included financial, economic, and institutional power projected beyond their borders into their colonies and subjects of conquest.

Today, individuals, or groups of individuals with no operational capacity are merely mobs in the streets – like barbarian raiders of ancient times – with no real plan, manifesto, or potential. They may be able to temporarily seize territory from their opponents but have absolutely no means to fortify it, let alone project power beyond it.

Imagine an Occupy Wall Street that before taking to the streets, had local and regional institutions organized for producing media, handling local infrastructure and social services, security, finance, and even organizing economic activity. When protesters took over parts of their cities, they could have turned them into microcosms of what they planned to do with the country once they succeeded in their overall goals of putting Wall Street back in its place. A well organized movement able to expose the deficiencies of the ruling corporate-financier regime in America by example would have continuously expanded its success until it reached its goals.

A well organized movement with enumerated goals and operational capacity across a wide range of fields would also be very difficult to marginalize or undermine.

And although Occupy Wall Street was an overall failure, there was one bright point that illustrates that operational institutions are the foundation upon which a successful protest must be based – that bright point was “Occupy Sandy.” Hurricane Sandy wrought destruction across New York City, and as expected, the local and federal government’s response was one of apathy and incompetence.

The organizers of Occupy Wall Street turned their political machinery into pragmatic networks that filled in the gaps left by the poor government response. In a single stroke, the movement was able to make the point that not only was the government incompetent, but that their movement was fully capable of doing better without it.

The lesson to be learned is that instead of taking a political movement and turning it pragmatic in response to desperation in a crisis – activists must build pragmatic networks able to displace the corporate-financier elites’ networks, and from this newly taken territory, project power through protests backed by functional, local and regional institutions of, by, and for the people.

Some examples that come to mind are unions, cooperatives, hackerspaces/makerspaces, community agriculture projects like Growing Power, alternative media networks, charity organizations, local educators, and even shooting clubs and volunteer emergency responders. All of these organizations may or may not see eye-to-eye politically, but pragmatically, they all seek to improve their local communities through hands-on pragmatic activism. While they may not be able to come together on wedge issues – the Occupy Wall Street movement with its universal appeal would have been a golden opportunity for them to come together and make an impact.

Thailand’s Occupy Bangkok campaign proves that the real power of protests are to take territory from an unjust regime – but that territory must then be filled by the institutions backing the protests. If, like Occupy Wall Street, there are no such institutions, it is inevitable that the protests will eventually collapse. Occupy Wall Street, then, is not a failure, but a lesson to be learned from and built upon. The next time Americans take to the streets, hopefully they do so with their own indigenous institutions backing them.

The Failed U.S. Boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics

February 17th, 2014 by Global Research News

by William Bigelow 

As the Sochi, Russia, Olympics entered the field of news, the story of the failed Olympic boycott in 1980 instigated by Jimmy Carter was told in detail by Politico Sunday.

As Politico writes, Carter was eager to boycott the Moscow Summer Olympics in response to the Soviet Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Carter went so far as to enlist Muhammad Ali as an emissary to African nations to elicit their support for a boycott. U.S. State Department officials were sent to India to convince Ali to take the job.

The night before Ali left for Tanzania, he met with the Soviet ambassador to India, Yuli Vorontsov. Vorontsov tried to dissuade Ali from the effort, but Ali refused him, and went ahead to Tanzania, even though he was not prepared with the proper information. Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere was insulted an athlete was sent instead of a diplomat, and Ali, disenchanted because he was accused of being Carter’s puppet, started to think of cutting himself loose from the job. Sports columnist Shirley Povich of the Washington Post was blunt, saying, “The whole fiasco was not all Ali’s fault. Much of the blunder can be traced to the White House.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s national security adviser and a hater of communism, said after the Afghan invasion, “Afghanistan is the seventh state since 1975 in which communist parties have come to power with Soviet guns and tanks, with Soviet military power and assistance.” Rolf Pauls, the West German ambassador to NATO, suggested that the world boycott the Moscow Olympics. Lloyd Cutler, the White House counsel, argued to the National Security Council that the United States should boycott the Olympics only if other strong moves were made.

However, Vice-President Walter Mondale loved the idea, saying a boycott “could capture the imagination of the American people.” Cutler came around; he realized that by simply seizing passports of the athletes the objective could be achieved.

Some within the media loved the idea. The Washington Post’s Robert G. Kaiser, a former correspondent in Moscow, wrote, “There should be no underestimating the significance the Soviets themselves put on their selection. They have been treating this Olympiad as one of the great events of their modern history.” He added that a boycott “would be a tremendous blow to Soviet prestige; but perhaps more significant, the collapse of this Olympiad would send a genuine shock through Soviet society.”

CIA Director Adm. Stansfield Turner was not so happy; he said, “The Soviets would also be able to play the role of an aggrieved party before a partially sympathetic international audience and to utilize international disagreements over the boycott to exacerbate tensions between the U.S. and non-boycotting (or reluctantly boycotting) states, probably including some close U.S. allies.”

Although 55% of Americans favored a boycott, Olympians hated it. Julian Roosevelt, an American member of the International Olympic Committee, asserted, “Any boycott isn’t going to change the Soviets’ mind and isn’t going to get troops out of Afghanistan. I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but the patriotic thing to do is for us to send a team over there and whip their ass.” Al Oerter, a four-time Olympic gold medal winner with one more shot at age 42, echoed, “The only way to compete against Moscow is to stuff it down their throats in their own backyard.”

Meeting with his foreign policy team, Carter said, “It’s the toughest question of all for me… I don’t want the onus for the failure of the Olympics to fall exclusively on the United States… It must be seen as a legitimate worldwide political reaction to what the Russians are doing in Afghanistan.”

Carter announced the boycott on Jan. 20, on Meet the Press, asserting, “Unless the Soviets withdraw their troops within a month from Afghanistan,” Carter would insist “that the Olympic games be moved from Moscow to an alternative site, or multiple sites, or postponed, or cancelled.”

Announcing the one-month deadline was a mistake; it left Carter with no wiggle room. Yet Carter was adamant, saying, “Regardless of what other nations might do, I would not favor the sending of an American Olympic team to Moscow while the Soviet invasion troops are in Afghanistan.”

International Olympic Committee President Lord Killanin scoffed at Carter: “There is no alternative besides Moscow anymore. It’s Moscow or nothing.” Carter’s Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti felt that the only way to make the boycott work was to convince the United States Olympic Committee, or force Congress to do his dirty work for him and prohibit American participation by some means. In his State of the Union speech soon after the boycott announcement, Carter declared, “Neither the American people nor I will support sending an Olympic team to Moscow.”

Anatoly Dobrynin, the Soviet Union’s ambassador to Washington, was stunned by Carter’s stance, writing later, “For all my experience of anti-Soviet campaigns in the United States, I had never encountered anything like the intensity and scale of this one. What particularly caught my attention was the president’s personal obsession with Afghanistan.”

Olympians were not only worried that they could not compete, but also at the chance Carter’s boycott could wreck the Olympic movement. Bob Mathias, the legendary gold medalist who later was a four-term congressman from California and served as the director of the Olympic Training Center at the time of Carter’s action, said, “We’re going to fight to the end. We’re fighting for the life of the Olympic Games. It’s almost too late. I’m afraid it might be.”

In early February, Carter sent Lloyd Cutler to demand that the Olympics be postponed or canceled from Lord Killanin. Killanin later wrote, “I was, as it turned out, to get a great shock. I discovered that Cutler had not flown in from Washington to discuss, but rather instruct. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Afghanistan affair, the judgment of one man, already scrambling for his political life in the American presidential election campaign… had turned the Olympic arena into what was to be its own battleground.”

Then came the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Just before they started, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance spoke at an event opening the Games. He said, “Let me make my government’s position clear. We will oppose the participation of an American team in any Olympic Games in the capital of an invading nation.”

Phil Wolff, the chief of staff of the Lake Placid games, was shocked. He said later:

That night was the only time in my life I’ve been embarrassed to be an American. I spent three years fighting in World War II. Nobody has a deeper love of this country than I do, but that was not right to be so derogatory and political when we’re supposed to be welcoming all our guests from around the world.

Cutler wrote legislation giving Carter legal authority to prevent the U.S. Olympic Committee from being a part of the games (USOC) and banning U.S. media from covering the Summer Games. The Department of Justice protested, arguing that Congress did not even give the president the power to control the media even if there were a war.

Meanwhile, at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, the U.S. hockey team defeated the heavily favored Soviets, firing up American enthusiasm. A White House aide informed Brzezinski, “The Olympic situation seems to be disintegrating. If we are not careful, our magnificent hockey win may fuel domestic sentiment against the boycott.” Brzezinski decided to give in, and was joined by Nelson Ledsky, head of the State Department task force on the boycott, who echoed to Vance in early March, “The starch seems to be slowly going out of our boycott effort.”

British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher said she would not seize the passports of British athletes, or any similar action to support the boycott. In mid-March, U.S. invitations to 25 countries to organize alternative games only convinced twelve countries to attend the meeting.

The last-ditch effort meant Carter needed the USOC. In late March, there was a meeting in the East Room of the White House. When Carter entered, none of the athletes stood or applauded. Carter said to them,

“I can’t say at this moment what other nations will not go to the Summer Olympics in Moscow. Ours will not go. I say that not with any equivocation; the decision has been made. It’s not a pleasant time for me. You occupy a special place in American life.”

On March 22, France, Spain, and Italy agreed to attend the Moscow games; Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, also said it would go. Carter finally did convince the USOC to support the boycott, although many were unhappy; one delegate said, “I feel I have no choice but to support the president or be perceived as supporting the Russians,” a delegate remarked. “I resent that.”

Eighty countries attended the Moscow games in 1980; 36 world records were set.

Carter was gone by the end of the year.

Copyright William Bigelow, 2014

Canada Welcomes Mossad Assassin, Offers Him New Identity

February 17th, 2014 by Richard Silverstein

Canadian media offers a shocking new development in the intelligence wars.  This involves a honeypot security officer working for Canadian immigration.  Her assignment was to romance an alleged Iranian spy.  Sometime during their year-long romance, one night after having a few drinks too many, she told him an amazing story: that one of the 27 Mossad agents who assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabouh escaped from Dubai to Canada:

Passport Canada secretly supplied a new identity and passport to a Mossad agent living in Canada after the Israeli spy participated in the 2010 plot to kill a leader of terrorist group Hamas in a Dubai hotel…

I’ve confirmed that the story is accurate through my own Israeli source.  When asked, he said it would be fruitless even to try to deny it since the story came straight from the horse’s mouth (Canadian intelligence).  There are many astonishing aspects of this story.  First, in light of Israel cloning passports of dual citizens of nations like France, Ireland, Australia and the UK, it didn’t even have to take the trouble with Canada.  That nation perpetrated the identity fraud on Israel’s behalf.

canadian passport

Canada’s government dutifully created false identity passport for Mossad assassin (right)

Can you imagine a country creating a fake identity for an intelligence agent of a foreign country?  It beggars belief.  Second, this means that Canada doesn’t tolerate the presence of Mossad agents on its soil, it welcomes them.  A country like the U.S. begrudgingly accepts that Israel is the third most intensive intelligence presence inside the U.S..  But not Canada.  It’s motto is the old Monty Hall shout-out to the TV prize winner: “come on down!”

You’d think Canadians might have a few things to say about farming out their intelligence operations to a foreign country and allowing that country to become an unofficial arm of Canadian intelligence.  Not to mention, the fact that it will arouse ire against Canadians of Muslims none too keen on Israel’s policy of erasing Arabs it finds objectionable or inconvenient.

Apparently, this far-right Canadian government believes becoming an appurtenance of the State of Israel is the way to win elections.  Why else would a Harper minister have signed an extraordinary public security agreement with Israeli public security minister, Avi Dichter in 2008:

“The Declaration of Intent is an opportunity for Canada and Israel to strengthen their commitment to safeguarding their citizens and respective national interests from common threats,” said Minister Dichter.”

…Public Safety Canada [the signatory of the agreement] works closely with several government agencies including the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)…and The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Officials from these agencies have no doubt been consulted regarding the terms of reference of the Israel-Canada declaration. 

The terms of reference of the Canada-Israel Declaration are extremely broad. They include issues of immigration and ethnic profiling, the management of borders, intelligence and the exchange of information, emergency preparedness, correctional services, prisons, law enforcement  and counter-terrorism.

…The agreement requires the two countries to “[b]uild on their shared commitment to facilitate and enhance cooperation to protect their respective countries’ population, assets and interests from common threats”.

…The issue of “counter-terrorism” is not mentioned explicitly in the Declaration of Intent. The terms of reference, however, suggest that the “war on terrorism” is an integral part of the agreement.

Who’d have thought that one of the ways in which this agreement would be implemented on the ground would be in abetting an act of Israeli state terrorism?

The appointment of Israel’s first military attaché to Canada was also likely part of this “thickening” of the intelligence/military relationship with Israel.  In 2012, Brig. Gen. Eden Attias, one of those named as  part of the Mavi Marmara 200 potential war criminals (he commanded the Nevatim air base used during the helicopter assault on the ship), was named to fill this position.  Here were some of his words of welcome on arriving in Canada:

“Due to the flourishing relationship between Canada and Israel, one of the recent discussions between our defence ministries involved looking for ways to get more people on the ground in each country. We have a lot of things we’re sharing,” he said.

Indeed.  Let’s add that as military attaché he serves as a conduit to and from the IDF’s military intelligence unit, Aman.  Attias added to his remarks:

“Israelis are starting to understand that Canada is a separate entity from the U.S.,” Attias said.

But not so separate from Israel, apparently.  Attias pandered to Canada’s Christian evangelicals when he blessed their pro-Israel prayer breakfast:

He [Attias], more than most, has experienced the intensity of Israel’s enemies’ hatred firsthand. At the prayer gathering he said, “On behalf of…all the people of Israel, I would like to extend a sincere appreciation to you, the Evangelist community here in Canada for supporting Israel.

This is yet another example of Canada’s government jumping into bed with Israeli spies and generals with blood on their hands.

Just as you have the official basis for Canada hopping into bed with the Mossad, similarly the NSA signed an agreement with IDF Unit 8200 which dumped massive amounts of raw data, including personal information about U.S. citizens, into Israel’s lap.  None of it was screened beforehand to remove references to Americans.  After all, the NSA is only prevented from monitoring American citizens for its own purposes.  I suppose this means it’s perfectly legal to transfer such data to foreign intelligence services.

That’s also in effect what Australian intelligence did in Indonesia.  It bugged government offices there and monitored the Indonesia government’s discussions with a U.S. law firm that was aiding it in international trade negotiations with the U.S. government.  In effect, Aussie intelligence was telling us what position the Indonesians would take in the talks, not to mention invading the attorney-client privilege of the U.S. firm.

In the old days it used to be that spies jealously guarded their secrets from foreign spies.  Nowadays, the only people spies guard their secrets from are the victims on whom they’re spying.  They share their trove of information with just about any allied intelligence agency that has a use for it.

This story comes on the heels of Stephen Harper’s recent pilgrimage to Israel in which he fawned over Bibi Netanyahu and even serenaded him with a musical concert.  They used to call Tony Blair, Bush’s poodle in the British press.  Now, Harper has become Bibi’s poodle.

A mídia americana mostrou uma remarcável falta de interesse pela gravação da chamada telefônica entre Victoria Nyland, a responsável de alto nível da Secretaria do Estado dos Estados Unidos encarregada dos assuntos europeus e da eurásia e o embaixador americano na Ukraina, e Geoffrey Pyatt, a qual foi colocada no YouTube levantando, desde a quinta-feira passada,uma grande polêmica internacional.

A cobertura midiática do assunto foi feita  essencialmente por causa do uso da expressão muito pouco diplomática de « Fuck the EU » [ a UE que se foda] no que dizia  respeito então a  atitude de Washington, quanto ao papel dos seus parceiros europeus na crise da Ukraina já a mais de três mêses. A outra apresentação que a mídia esteve desenvolvendo foi a de loialmente apresentar a tentativa do Departamento do Estado de minimizar a controvérsia. A mídia então entendeu por qualificar a divulgação pública de uma conversa particular como sendo um « novo recorde de baixeza atingido pelos russos. »

O governo russo negou peremptóriamente as acusações americanas de acordo com as quais Moscou seria o responsável pela divulgação. Essa acusação seria em todo caso muito impertinente em vindo de um governo que foi desmascarado por espionar as conversas telefônicas de centenas de milhões de pessoas, nos Estados Unidos assim como por todo o mundo.

O significado político real da conversa telefônica entre Nyland e Pyatt se deixou em grande parte as escuras ou sem ser sequer mencionado. Isso não seria por acaso, uma vez que essa conversa telefônica revelava de maneira devastante o carácter criminoso e imperialista da política americana praticada na Ukraina a qual fez cair por terra todas as pretenções « democráticas » do governo de Obama.

No seu discurso do Estado da União, no mês passado, Obama declarou que : « Na Ukraina nós mantemos o princípio de que qualquer um tem o direito de se exprimir livre e pacificamente assim como o de ter o que dizer quanto ao futuro do seu país.»

Entretanto, o que a gravação mostrou claramente é que Washington usa métodos de banditismo, e isso internacionalmente, o que inclui então também a violência, nesse político golpe de estado na Ukraina, tendo em vista o colocar no lugar do constituido e eleito, um regime que seja totalmente subordinado aos interesses geoestratégicos dos Estados Unidos. Essa operação está ttão  longe da democracia como estiveram os golpes de estado orquestrados pelos Estados Unidos no Chile e na Argentina, há já quarenta anos.

O objetivo dos esforços dos Estados Unidos é o de fazer passar o poder político para as mãos de uns quantos oligarcas ucranianos, alinhados com o ocidente. Esses oligarcas  foram enriquecidos graças a apropriação privada, ou seja, ao roubo dos bens públicos de quando do cenário da dissolução da União Soviética em 1991, pela burocracia estalinista. Isso os Estados Unidos, e seu séquito, o fazem tendo em mente o transformar a Ukraina em uma frente de ataque, mesmo na fronteira com a Rússia. Eles querem também dividir o território da Ukraina em pequenas entidades então reduzidas a uma condição neocolonial. Isso faz parte integrante da determinação de estabelecer uma dominância americana, sobre todo o estratégico continente da Eurásia.

A conversa entre Nyland e Pyatt se faz a volta dos detalhes práticos desse projeto. Isso consistiria então em atiçar os sentimentos anti-russos do nacionalismo ucraniano, e de ajudar as forças políticas de direita, que servem de impedimento e barreira contra o governo de Victor Ianukovitch. O desenvolvimento do presidente ucraniano, Ianukovitch, em favor de um acordo com a Rússia em vez de uma integração com a União Européia foi a estubina que pôs em fogo a atual campanha que tem em vista uma mudança de regime, ou seja um golpe de estado.

Nyland deu as provas de que, nas culissas, Washington está a caminho de ditar quais dos dirigentes da oposição – apresentados como « os tres maiores  » – que deverão entrar na constituição de um almejado novo governo. Um novo governo então que se alinhasse atrás de Washington. Nyland especificou então os papéis.  Arseny Iatseniuk, do partido Pátria, o qual foi Ministro da Economia e dos Negócios Estrangeiros, no governo tristemente célebre por ter sido levado ao poder pela chamada Revolução Orange, ou seja cor-de-laranja, orquestrada por Washington em 2004, foi caracterizada pela assistente Nyland como « o homem que tem experiência dos negócios de economia, assim também como experiência de governo.»

Nyland propôs que os dois outros dirigentes da direita deveriam influenciar os protestos contra Ianukovitch. O ex-boxeador Vitali Klitschko, chefe da Aliança ukraniana democrática para a reforma, UDAR, o que significa « golpe, ou murro, e Oleg Tyagnibok, chefe do partido neofascista Svoboda, significando liberdade, deveriam ficar « em contacto» assim como continuando a atiçar as multidões. Iatseniuk, ela completou, « terá de lhes falar quatro vezes por semana. »

O embaixador e ela falam dessas duas pessoas chamando-os de « Yats e Klitsch », realmente dois tipos de nomes que normalmente se reservam para pudels.

Durante sua última visita a Kiev, na Ukaina, que coincidiu com a divulgação da conversa telefônica, Nyland se reencontrou e esteve publicamente em cartaz com os três dirigentes da oposição, mencionados na conversação registrada – « Yats, Klitsch » e o homem que está a caminho de fazer o papel principal na organização das manifestações violentas da Praça Maidan, o líder da Svoboda, liberdade, o líder Tyagnibok.

Tyagnibok foi objecto de uma interdição de entrada nos Estados Unidos no ano passado por causa de um seu virulento discurso antisemita onde esse felicitava os seus partidários por terem intimidado a « máfia judeo-moscovita que dirigia a Ukraina » cantando louvores aos fascistas ucranianos da Segunda Guerra mundial, por terem lutado contra os « youpins » russos e alemães « e outros bandos ». Entretanto, isso como se vê não teria dado a Nyland motivos para contenção.

Em dezembro de 2013, durante sua precedente visita na Ukraina, Nyland que é neta de imigrantes judeos na América, o que fizeram para escapar as perseguições, pogroms da Rússia tzarista, deu um espetáculo excepcionalmente revoltante em oferecendo, na Praça Maidan, biscoitos e bolachas aos robustos e enérgicos da Svoboda, que ainda veneram as mortes em massa causadas pela SS de Hitler.

Nyland esteve na política exterior americana  desde os crimes comitidos pela administração de Bush até a intensificação desses crimes por Obama. Ela ocupou as funções de conselheira principal da política exterior de Dick Cheney, logo de quando o então vice presidente Cheney começou com suas lançadas da política de guerras agressivas, da reinstituição da tortura praticada no estrangeiro, assim também como na introdução de um estado-policial, na política doméstica dos Estados Unidos.

O seu marido, Robert Cagan, especializado na política exterior de direita foi o presidente fundador do Projeto para o Novo Século Americano (Projeto for a New American Century), o grupo de reflexão neoconservativo de Washington, que fez o papel chave na preparação política e ideológica das guerras contra o Iraque e Afeganistão.

Hoje em dia ela promete uma política similar, mesmo já  nas fronteiras da Rússia, a qual tem armas nucleares. As tensões que essa engendrou se refletem no remarque « Fuck the EU. » Nos esforços desenvolvidos para o alcance de seus interesses geopolíticos, Washington manifesta uma crescente impaciência com a recusa da Alemanha, vindo a meses, de entrar numa confrontaçäo frontal com Moscou.

Essa é a política agressiva do imperialismo americano que é apoiada por elementos de pseudo-esquerda, que engolem totalmente os gritos de guerra dos slogans democráticos e humanitários que o charlatão postmodernista Slavoj Zizek da ISO – a Organização Socialista Internacional – l´International Socialist Organization, o qual conseguiu publicar um longo relatório sobre os acontecimentos na Ukraina sem mencionar, uma única vez, as maquinações de Washington.

Essa política incendiária de Washington constitui uma ameaça de guerra civil na Ukraina assim como aumenta o perigo de uma conflagração mundial. A classe trabalhadora ucraniana é incapaz de conseguir se desembaraçar por si mesma dessa crise, ficando na tutela ou de Janukovitch ou dos seus adversários de direita os quais representam facções oligárquicas rivais, mas que estão de acordo em abaixar, e de muito, o nível de vida assim como os direitos adquiridos dos trabalhadores. Os trabalhadores não encontrarão nenhum caminho para ir adiante que não seja o de eles mesmos construirem seu próprio independente movimento de massas e socialista, implacavelmente oposto ao imperialismo, determinados a unir suas lutas com as dos trabalhadores da Rússia, da Europa e do resto do mundo.

Bill Van Auken

 

Artigo original, , WSWS, de 10 de fevereiro de 2014

Tradução Anna Malm –  http://artigospoliticos.wordpress.com

Cómo financia Europa la ocupación de Palestina

February 16th, 2014 by David Cronin

¿Ha confesado finalmente la Unión Europea que paga la factura de la ocupación de Palestina?

Puede que uno de sus enviados lo haya hecho de manera indirecta. Lars Faaborg-Andersen, embajador de la UE en Tel Aviv advirtió recientemente acerca de las consecuencias de la decisión de la UE de cortar su ayuda a la Autoridad Palestina (AP) en caso de que las actuales negociaciones de “paz” resultaran estériles.

“Creo que en Israel se es consciente de que este dinero es clave para la estabilidad de Cisjordania y Gaza”, afirmó Dane. “Si nosotros no proporcionamos el dinero, es muy probable que Israel tenga que proporcionar mucho más”.

Las palabras elegidas por Faaborg-Andersen son elocuentes. Parece que cree que la UE hace un favor a Israel al proporcionar “estabilidad” a los territorios ocupados en 1967.

Por lo que sé, no llevó sus comentarios más allá. Si lo hubiera hecho, podría haber explicado que el derecho internacional obliga a una potencia ocupante a satisfacer las necesidades básicas de un pueblo ocupado. La UE descarga a Israel de sus responsabilidades legales al soltar unos 460 millones de euros (622 millones de dólares) cada año a Palestina.

Justificación

La justificación que se suele dar para esta ayuda es que mejora las condiciones de vida de los palestinos. Las declaraciones y “hojas informativas” producidas en cantidades industriales por los burócratas de Bruselas no explican que parte de esta ayuda financia directamente la infraestructura de la ocupación.

Por ejemplo, en 2012 la UE se jactó de haber dado 13 millones de euros (17.5 millones de dólares) para mejorar los equipamientos, como los aparatos de rayos X y tecnología informática, utilizados en Karem Abu Salem, el paso fronterizo para mercancías entre Gaza y el actual Israel.

En el anuncio de este generoso “regalo” hubo una omisión fundamental. Karem Abu Salem (conocido en hebreo como Kerem Shalom) está controlado por Israel, que ha establecido unas fortísimas restricciones a la entrada de artículos a Gaza. Al tender la mano a Israel la UE estaba facilitando el bloquo ilegal de Gaza. No era la primera vez que la UE facilitaba tal ilegalidad.

No nos engañen

Si usted entiende francés, le insto a que lea Palestine, la trahison européenne (Palestina, la traición europea). Escrito por la europarlamentaria Véronique De Keyser y el difunto campeón de los derechos humanos Stéphane Hessel, el libro documenta cómo la ayuda que ostensiblemente se destina a los palestinos beneficia en realidad a Israel. Después de que Hamas ganara unas elecciones democráticas en 2006, la UE se negó a canalizar la ayuda a través de un gobierno encabezado por este partido. En marzo de 2006 Benita Ferrer-Waldner, entonces comisaria de Exteriores de la UE, decidió que se pagarían directamente a Israel 40 millones de euros (54 millones de dólares) para que empresas israelíes suministraran carburante a Gaza.

Nunca he afirmado que la UE deba dejar de entregar dinero a Palestina. Hacerlo privaría a muchas personas de educación, atención sanitaria y energía. Lo que he pedido en vez de ello es honestidad y responsabilidad.

No se debería engañar a los contribuyentes de la UE haciéndoles pensar que nuestro dinero siempre se gasta de manera benigna. Se nos debería decir claramente que ayuda a la ocupación. Si Israel se niega a aceptar sus obligaciones legales, corresponde a la UE le enviar sus facturas a Israel e insistir en que le devuelva el dinero. Y cuando Israel destruye proyectos financiados por la UE (como ha hecho muchas veces), la UE debería llevar a Israel ante los tribunales. Para su vergüenza, los representantes de la UE siempre han sido demasiado cobardes para demandar a Israel ante los tribunales.

Siniestro

Unos datos recientes de un informe oficial de la UE sobre comercio de armas revelan algo aún más siniestro. Indican que el valor de las licencias de exportación de armas emitidas por los gobiernos de la UE ascendieron un 290% entre 2011 y 2012: de 157 millones de euros (212 millones de dólares) a 630 millones de euros (851.5 millones de dólares).

Probablemente estas estadísticas no ofrecen un cuadro completo de la cooperación que implica. Gran Bretaña (miembro veterano de la UE) publicó el año pasado unas cifras que indicaban que la venta de artículos militares a se podía cuantificar en miles de millones más que en millones. Con todo, indican que la UE ignora alegremente su propia legislación sobre el comercio de armas, que prohíbe la exportación de armas si es probable que estas se utilicen para reprimir o exacerbar tensiones regionales.

Por supuesto, es algo conocido: se trata a Israel como si estuviera por encima de la ley.

Fuente original: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/david-cronin/how-europe-funds-occupation-palestine

Traducido del inglés por Beatris Morales Bastos, rebelión.org.

 

Al-Qaeda militants kill 24 civilians near Ras al-Ain

Convicted Criminals Serve as “Freedom Fighters” in Syria: Saudi, Pakistani and Iraqi Prison Inmates Replenish Al Qaeda RanksProf Michel Chossudovsky, February 16, 2014