Recently, two cases concerning the constitutional rights of people in prison came to public light. They involve two U.S. political prisoners: Mumia Abu-Jamal who is serving a life sentence at a facility in Frackville, Pennsylvania and Jeremy Hammond, who is serving a ten year sentence at a federal prison in Manchester, Kentucky.

On Monday October 20, it was reported that Hammond, a young Chicago based computer programmer, had been held in solitary confinement for the last 10 days. In November 2013, he was sentenced after he plead guilty for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for allegedly revealing more than five million emails from the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor).

The Courage Foundation, an international organization dedicated to the protection of truth-tellers, published a statement on their site, noting the organization’s belief that Hammond’s solitary confinement is retaliatory punishment for filing complaints against the prison for withholding his mail.

The next day, another news story surfaced concerning world-renowned political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal. He had been convicted for the killing of a Philadelphia police officer in 1982 in a highly biased trial.

On Tuesday October 21, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a bill that is said to protect victims from possible mental anguish supposedly caused by any action by an inmate or former offender. Under this new law called “Revictimization Relief Act,” prisoners in the state of Pennsylvania can now be sued for speaking out from behind bars.

This legislation was apparently passed as a way to silence Abu-Jamal (photo, right), one of the state’s most famous prisoners. The measure was put forward after Abu-Jamal delivered a recorded commencement speech for his fellow alumni at Vermont’s Goddard College earlier this month. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania criticized the bill, saying it cannot “pass constitutional muster under the First Amendment.”

In a recorded phone interview with Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio, former Black Panther Abu-Jamal called the bill “a blatant, naked violation” of both the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and of the United States that grants the right of free speech to all people. In the same interview, he said, “the press ignores prisoners, as a rule. Most of what happens in prisons are never or rarely reported in the press.” This bill furthered the censorship and reduced the ability for someone like him to speak to the public at all.

Abu-Jamal and Hammond, two men with very different backgrounds share much in common. Both were placed in prolonged solitary confinement, which the UN Special Rapporteur on torture called “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and may amount to torture.”

Since his arrest in March 2012, Hammond was regularly cut off from contact with his friends and family and was more than once in solitary. Abu-Jamal has spent the last 30 years in prison, almost all of it in solitary confinement on Pennsylvania’s death row before prosecutors agreed in 2011 to reduce the sentence.

They both have always held strong commitment to social justice. Hammond revealed secret collusion of corporations and the state to engage in unconstitutional spying on human rights activists. At his sentencing hearing he stated his motivation:

The acts of civil disobedience and direct action that I am being sentenced for today are in line with the principles of community and equality that have guided my life. I hacked into dozens of high profile corporations and government institutions, understanding very clearly that what I was doing was against the law, and that my actions could land me back in federal prison. But I felt that I had an obligation to use my skills to expose and confront injustice—and to bring the truth to light.

Prior to serving his sentence, Abu-Jamal was a renowned activist and journalist and has since published several books and hundreds of articles and columns from behind bars. They are both prisoners of conscience. Their commitment to justice is not the only thing that binds them together. They both have seen hidden views inside the prison industrial complex even before they entered it and have been punished for unveiling to the public what they saw.

In the book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, journalists Joe Sacco and Chris Hedges documented their travel to forgotten corners of impoverished and extracted parts of America, which they called “sacrifice zones.” Their account started with the Western plains, where lives of Native Americans were sacrificed and their lands offered up for predatory capitalism’s promise of progress and development.

Prisons are now becoming sacrifice zones offered up for the ambition of empire. They are more and more being privatized for immoral corporate profiteering. The young, the poor and people of color have become prime targets. In his book Punishment and Inequality in America, Bruce Western explores the recent explosion of mass incarceration in the U.S. He addressesthe unequal ratio of prison population between whites and blacks. Over two million prisoners are composed of disproportionate numbers of minorities and people with little education. He documented how almost 60 percent of black male high school dropouts have spent time in prison in their early thirties.

Those behind bars are made invisible. They are often stripped of their constitutional rights and cut off from communication with the outside world. This is one of the places where our youth’s future is locked up for state sanctioned racism and sacrificed for capitalism’s bottomless greed.

From the margins where injustice shapes the landscape of everyday life, individuals like Hammond and Abu-Jamal expose the lies of the government and hypocrisy of the criminal justice system. From the darkness inside, they cast a light on what those in power don’t want us to see.

For instance, Hammond shared his personal experience as a prisoner at the Metropolitan Correctional Center during Hurricane Sandy. He described how when the storm hit, they lost power and prisoners were left behind with no hot water, heat, mail or phones. He described how the government abandoned them.

“Very frightening to consider what would happen to us prisoners – already disenfranchised, silenced, marginalized and forgotten – in the event of a more devastating natural disaster. There’s a universal consensus here – ‘they’d probably leave us to die.’”

Whatever happens behind closed doors will eventually expand as the corporate state’s addiction to power has no limit. It is this spreading hidden oppression that Abu-Jamal has been warning about from prison for decades. Months before Edward Snowden leaked the shocking news of mass surveillance of U.S. citizens, Abu-Jamal had presciently noted that the American prison experience is expanding into the outside world:

… if you look inside the bars, you’re looking at millions of men and women and juveniles… But even beyond that, I mean, how free are we today, those who claim to be non-prisoners? Your computers are being read by others in government. Your letters, your phone calls are being intercepted. We live now in a national security state, where the United States is fast becoming one of the biggest open-air prisons on earth.

Hammond and Abu-Jamal, a generation apart sit behind bars in this sacrifice zone. They represent those who are silenced for speaking truth to power. They have not only revealed insidious levels of surveillance and deep state racism, but have also highlighted the growing level of illegitimate governance that inflicts violence and perpetuates cruelty and misery.

These sacrifice zones of the corporate state are expanding. The recent shooting of an unarmed young black man in Ferguson revealed the insidious disease of white supremacy and how easily U.S. cities can turn into a military occupied police state. With unprecedented persecution of whistle-blowers, the Obama administration continues to threaten press freedom and engage in extrajudicial killing through drone attacks for anyone who is on the receiving end of U.S. imperial foreign policy.

The world is quickly becoming one big open-air prison. The NSA is inflicting mass surveillance by working hand in hand with private companies like Google and Verizon to infiltrate all forms of communication. The U.S. continues to send weapons to aid Israeli government’s assaults on Gaza against Palestine civilians. From the creation of ISIS and the crisis in Ukraine, the U.S. empire is desperately attempting to stave off the imminent end of the petrodollar monopoly game by spreading terror around the world and at home.

It is time to stop the operation of a heartless corporate industrial complex that chews up innocent lives and destroys the environment in order to maximize profits at any cost. We must resist this aggression and its blatant violation of civil liberties before it devours all that is sacred to us. What is sacred should never be sacrificed.

Dr. Nozomi Hayase is a former WL Central contributing writer who has been covering issues of freedom of speech, transparency and decentralized movement. Her work is featured in many publications. She can be reached at: [email protected].

Is it a coincidence that the vulture funds are putting increasing pressure on Argentina as it prepares to develop the world’s second largest shale gas reserves? Are the vultures instruments of foreign policy?

Paranoia or insightfulness in Buenos Aires?

Hours after the US Embassy in Buenos Aires issued a security warning to US citizens either already inside or traveling to the South American country, Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner accused the US of plotting to overthrow or kill her. Speaking during a television broadcast from the Casa de Gobierno on September 30, she explained that “if something happens to me, don’t look to the Mideast, look north” to Washington, DC. She told the Argentine people not to believe anything that the US government was saying, even going as far as dismissing the ISIL/ISIS threat as a US bogeyman.

More or less, at the United Nations she was already cautiously dismissive of the ISIL threats against her when she spoke on September 24. Now, however, President Kirchner connected the dots between the diplomatic situation with Washington and the ISIL threat towards her by stating that “when you see what has been coming out of diplomatic offices, they had better not come in here and try to sell some tall tale about ISIS trying to track me down so they can kill me.”

Instead of asking what led Fernandez de Kirchner to make such accusations against the US government, the question should be what has led to the deterioration of relations and diplomatic ties between Buenos Aires and Washington.

This deterioration has two dimensions or tracks. On the surface it is tied to Argentina’s sovereign debt, its restructuring, and hedge funds in the US. On another track it is tied to petro-politics and shale gas.

Economic and financial terrorism: Deadlier than the ISIL?

In front of the sixty-ninth session of the UN General Assembly and a meeting of the UN Security Council chaired by US President Barack Obama, Argentina argued that terrorism is not only committed by violent groups that plant bombs, but also by financial entities and organizations that destabilize national economies and make whole societies destitute through speculation and financial manipulation. In Cristina Kirchner’s words, “terrorists are not only those who set off bombs, but also those who destabilize economies, causing hunger, misery, and poverty.”


Image: Reuters / Yaser Al-Khodor

Addressing the growing mythology and international fixation concerning the ISIL in Syria and Iraq, Argentina argued that terrorism is rooted, fuelled, and nurtured through injustice and disparity in the global system. Groups like the ISIL and al-Qaeda are merely the symptoms of something much deeper and much worse. Dismissing Washington’s military methods as unproductive and illogical, Argentina held that to ebb the vicious cycle of violence the world had to address the root causes for the creation of groups like the ISIL and the conditions that make people lose hope.

Kirchner even reminded Obama and the US delegation that they were portraying the current insurgent groups that the world is condemning inside Syria as “freedom fighters.”

The crux of the Argentine thesis was simple: terrorism is also economic and financial, and this form of terrorism is much more lethal. The destruction of economies and the destitution of societies unlock the doors for a toxic mix of anger, ignorance, and blame. This is why Buenos Aires argued that the economic and financial terrorists targeting national economies needed to be identified, challenged, and stopped.

Meet the vultures

Not only was Argentina indignant on September 24, but it was defiant at the UN against the dominant structures of the global system. The Argentines were upset with the US and ten other countries that voted against the establishment of a universal legal formula for dealing with sovereign debt a few days earlier, on September 9.

President Kirchner derided the neoliberal economic policies of the Bretton Woods Institutions—the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) – and essentially the Washington Consensus. She explained how previous Argentinean governments had followed the recipes and “conditionalities” of the IMF, saying that the IMF’s economic medicine was what economically ruined Argentina in 2001.


Image: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters building is seen in Washington (AFP Photo / Yuri Gripas)

So who are the “economic and financial terrorists” that were being condemned by Argentina?

Part of the answer was mentioned above. The other part has to do with the US hedge funds NML Capital Ltd., which is based in the Cayman Islands, and Aurelius Capital Management.

Since its economic crisis in 2001, Buenos Aires renegotiated its debts, in 2005 and 2010, through new repayment schedules and a reduction of the face values of the debt(s) by 70 percent to about $13 billion with 92.4 percent of its creditors. A 7 percent minority of the bondholders, however, held out and rejected Argentina’s proposals. These holdouts are hedge funds that have been dubbed as vulture funds. Like real vultures circling and hovering around a dying carcass these bondholders strike distressed economies and take advantage of fiscal crises to make windfall profits.

These predatory hedge funds and private equity funds operate by buying debt at bargain discounts and wait for distresses and defaults. Their strategy is to profit off the defaults and to amplify their profits through maximizing the interest returns on what debtors owe them or to use litigation to sue debtors for even larger amounts that what they would have received if the debt was paid in full.

It is within the framework of the above rationale that NML Capital Ltd. and Aurelius Capital Management have refused to accept any debt swaps or any form of settlement with Buenos Aires. They have tried to derail the Argentineans and prevent them from paying off their debts. This is why they have demanded the full payment of Argentina’s debts on the basis of the face value of approximately $1.33 billion. Ultimately, this would force Argentina into default and increase its other debts by 70 percent.

Even as Kirchner was talking at the UN, Buenos Aires was locked in a legal battle in New York State with the vultures.

Using the US legal system, the vulture funds got Thomas Griesa, a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, to make an unprecedented ruling to their benefit in 2012. Griesa had ordered Argentina to pay the vultures in full for a recalculated and unrealistic sum. Argentina lost the appeal and the US Supreme Court refused to even hear Argentina’s appeal in June.


Image: Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (Reuters / Mike Segar)

Griesa not only awarded the holdouts over 1,600 percent interest on what was owed for a five-year period, but he also blocked Buenos Aires from making its debt payments to its other bondholders until it paid the vulture funds the full recalculated sum. According to the Argentines, Griesa’s “new judicial interpretation implies that a sovereign country cannot pay creditors who have accepted an exchange offer unless holdouts from the exchange offer are paid in full, effectively granting privileged conditions to holdout creditors.” So a $539 million payment was frozen by the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, which resulted in a legal appeal from other bondholders on August 15.

The US court ruling had several ramifications and outcomes.

In the first instance, Argentina could not meet such an outrageous demand to pay the vulture funds the principal sum plus 1,600 percent interest for a five-year period. Secondly, due to a “rights upon future offers” clause provided during the negotiations with its other bondholders that promised them the best terms possible, Argentina was put in a predicament by the US court ruling. Under the circumstances brought about by the vulture funds through Judge Griesa, the other bondholders have the right to demand higher payouts that are the equivalent of what the vulture funds are getting. In other words, the negotiations of 2005 and 2010 were effectively nullified by Griesa and an unworkable amount of interest added to the other debts. If the other bondholders evoke the “rights upon future offers” clause, there will be a serious economic meltdown in Argentina.

Standard & Poor’s declared Argentina in default on July 30, after Buenos Aires was prevented from making its debt payments. Not only were investors scared away and Argentina’s access to global capital markets hurt, but the threat of default at the end of October 2014 also put additional pressure on both Argentinean economy and the Argentine peso.


Image: Reuters / Brendan McDermid

Petro-Politics: Argentine shale gas and the Gazprom connection

Turning to another angle of the story, it has to be noted that Argentina has been in a state of economic recovery since 2002. This recovery has included government repurchases of national companies that had been privatized. Key to this is the renationalization of Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF) on March 3, 2012. The renationalization of YPF angered Spain, because the Argentine energy company had been purchased by the Spanish oil conglomerate Repsol.

Regaining control over YPF has been important because Argentina has the second largest recoverable shale gas reserves in the world, after the Chinese, and Buenos Aires has been planning on becoming a natural gas exporter in the global market.

The petro-politics of an energy war are part of the equation. It was not an accident that Cristina Kirchner finished her speech, during the discussion on terrorism at the UN Security Council, by turning to the US delegation and saying that her country had vast hydrocarbon reserves that could end up becoming a curse because of the problems that go along with them. Kirchner was tacitly saying that she feared Washington would meddle in Argentina, as it has done elsewhere, to control its energy resources.

It is also worth noting that Russia is Argentina’s partner in its project to become a natural gas exporter. Before Kirchner spoke at the UN, Russian President Vladimir Putin had paid a state visit to Argentina during his tour of Latin America. In Buenos Aires he announced that Argentina was one of Moscow’s strategic partners. Moscow and Buenos Aires signed important trade deals and agreements on energy, information, and military cooperation on July 12. Months later, via a teleconference, Putin and Kirchner would inaugurate the broadcasting of RT en Español (RT Spanish) or RT Actualidad in Argentina on October 9—this is clearly a move to challenge US influence and interference in Argentina.


Image: Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (R) toasts with her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (Reuters / Mikhail Klimentyev)

Days after Kirchner talked at the UN, Argentina and Russia both signed an important bilateral energy contract for Gazprom to cooperate with YPF to explore and develop Argentina’s natural gas reserves. Gazprom had already established ties with Argentina before this when it secured a contract to export Russian natural gas to Argentina in 2013.

Vulture funds as “Eagles of Empire”

The Argentinians have cried foul. They have been upset by statements made beforehand in the US about Argentina defaulting and accused the US legal system and federal government of complicity in an attempt to economically destabilize the Argentine economy.

After refusing to submit to the court rulings, Argentina tried to negotiate with the vulture funds in July 2014. The Argentines would eventually reject the court-appointed mediator, Daniel Pollack, as incompetent and biased. The deadlock in the court-mediated negotiations eventually led to a breakdown when Pollack made a statement against Argentina. The Argentine government’s attorney, Jonathan Blackman, protested that Pollack’s July 30 statement about Argentina defaulting was “harmful and prejudice to the Republic in connection with the market and in connection with other persons, such as holders of credit default swaps.” On August 1, the Argentine government said that it had lost confidence in the mediation. After this, Griesa blocked Argentina from paying its other debts and an emergency court hearing was held in Manhattan on August 8.

During all this time Buenos Aires had been asking the US government to clarify that its domestic court could not hold Argentine’s independence as a sovereign state hostage. Washington did nothing. The week prior to President Kirchner’s appearance at the UN, her government was angered when a US official said that Argentina was in default. Argentina has viewed this and the US government’s refusal to intervene as an act of complicity. On August 7, Buenos Aires even asked the International Court of Justice to hear its case against Washington for allowing the US legal system to violate its independence as a sovereign state. When the Argentine National Congress passed the Sovereign Debt Payment law on September 11 to bypass the banking system in the US and to start repaying its debts locally or in France, Judge Griesa declared it illegal. After Griesa threatened to hold Argentina in contempt of court, Argentine Ambassador Cecilia Nahon sent US Secretary of State John Kerry a letter warning Washington that it would be responsible for the consequences of the US court’s rulings on Buenos Aires.

The vulture funds are being used to blackmail Buenos Aires as an instrument of US pressure. This was hinted at by Kirchner while she spoke at the UN. No wonder that Kirchner had alluded to Washington as a supporter of economic terrorism while she spoke there.

Later Cristina Kirchner spoke more directly. “I’m not naive, this is not an isolated move by a senile judge in New York,” Kirchner has even publicly stated about the fiasco. In Kirchner’s words, these hedge funds “look a lot like the eagles of empires” that are doing Washington’s bidding.

World leaders are picking up on this economic terrorism and blackmail. This is why Bolivian President Evo Morales has referred to the US sanctions against the Russian Federation as an act of economic terrorism.

It is clear that an intricate game is being played here. Argentina’s row with the vulture funds is being used to exert pressure on Buenos Aires. One way or another the vultures are acting as the “eagles of empire.”

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a sociologist, award-winning author and geopolitical analyst.

CNN broadcast a strange announcement during yesterday’s coverage of the school shooting in Washington state, setting off theories that the shooting may have been a premeditated event.

Yesterday it was reported that a freshman student at the Marysville-Pilchuck High School entered the campus and shot multiple people, killing one, before turning the gun on himself.

During live coverage of the unfolding story (above), anchor Brooke Baldwin stated:

“I’m getting handed information, so bear with me as I just read this cold. ‘Local law enforcement under the direction of the Marysville Police Department will be holding… SWAT training…? This was actually yesterday [October 23]. This was yesterday. They held SWAT training. It happened that they held SWAT training yesterday in the, uh, in the area around the school district.”

Researchers ran Google searches and discovered a similar announcement made the previous day by the Marysville School District, which read:

“October 23, 2014: Local law enforcement under the direction of the Marysville Police Department will be holding a SWAT training in the large fenced parking…”

That update can no longer be found via Google, nor on the Marysville School District website, which has been updated to reflect yesterday’s shooting.

The City of Marysville website also does not appear to have an announcement regarding the SWAT drill.

The full announcement, beyond the words “large fenced parking,” reveals much more:

“October 23, 2014: Local law enforcement under the direction of the Marysville Police Department will be holding a SWAT training in the large fenced parking area to the east of the school district Service Center beginning at 5:00PM.”

It is important to note that the full announcement, via a Redditor’s imgur post, says that the drill was to be conducted “to the east side of the school district Service Center,” which is not the same as the Marysville-Pilchuck High School, nearly 3 miles away.

Thus, it would seem CNN inadvertently weaved a conspiracy theory through its own incautious misreporting.

Though the drill did not occur at the exact same school – as reported by CNN – the fact that a SWAT training exercise was conducted one day priorinvolving the exact same police department is still a pretty fascinating “coincidence,” especially given the fact that training drills are notoriously used as cover for real world events.

Following the Boston Marathon bombings, for example, a University of Mobile Cross Country coach also said he heard announcements saying, “Do not worry, this is just a training exercise,” just prior to the bombings.

Others also pointed to a drill that took place on October 23 at the Ferndale High School nearly 70 miles northwest of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School as additional evidence that the school shooting may have been staged.

Theories are swirling as to why authorities may have wanted to stage a shooting, but generally center around the idea that the event was intended to galvanize voters into supporting gun control measures ahead of November elections.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, before an international audience, exposed an international order capitalizing on the end of the Cold War to reshape the world according to its own interests, sidelining concepts such as basic international relations, international laws, systems of checks and balances, and even the very concept of national sovereignty itself. Amid President Putin’s speech, he would condemn the United States’ support for neo-fascists, terrorists, and its contempt for national sovereignty around the world.

The West’s Rebuttal 

Curious language accompanied the New York Times’ account of the Valdai International Club discussion in the Black Sea coastal region of Sochi, Russia in front of which President Putin spoke. In an article titled, “Putin Accuses U.S. of Backing ‘Neo-Fascists’ and ‘Islamic Radicals’,” the NYT attempts to portray President Putin’s statements about US support for neo-fascists and terrorists as merely baseless accusations.

The NYT claims, “instead of supporting democracy and sovereign states, Mr. Putin said during a three-hour appearance at the conference, the United States supports “dubious” groups ranging from “open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.”” The NYT would also report, ““Why do they support such people,” he asked the annual gathering known as the Valdai Club, which met this year in the southern resort town of Sochi. “They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals, but then burn their fingers and recoil.””

It is difficult to understand why the NYT attempts to portray this statement as particularly controversial, or as a “diatribe,” as the Times puts it, rather than a factual, timely, and necessary observation.

The NYT would also state, “Russia is often accused of provoking the crisis in Ukraine by annexing Crimea, and of prolonging the agony in Syria by helping to crush a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow’s last major Arab ally. Some analysts have suggested that Mr. Putin seeks to restore the lost power and influence of the Soviet Union, or even the Russian Empire, in a bid to prolong his own rule.”

Technically speaking, Russia is regularly accused of all of this, though the NYT fails to fill in for readers how ridiculous each and every one of these accusations are.

To begin with, the Ukrainian crisis began when neo-fascists violently overthrew the elected government of Ukraine in late 2013, early 2014 with the United States’ full backing. The political order that seized power constituted overtly fascist political parties including Svoboda and the “Fatherland Party,” and was openly backed by flagrantly Neo-Nazi armed groups such as Right Sector. It was only then that eastern Ukrainians began to flee into the arms of Russia who in turn oversaw a referendum returning Crimea to Russian sovereignty.

Likewise regarding Syria, there is no question today that the conflict Damascus is fighting is not a “popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad,” but rather a proxy war being fought against Damascus using sectarian extremists ranging from various Al Qaeda affiliates, to the newly christened “Islamic State,” all of which constitute terrorist fronts and in no way equate to a “popular uprising.”

As far as the NYT’s claims that President Putin seeks to “restore the lost power and influence of the Soviet Union, or even the Russian Empire,” readers may be left confused when considering that the Soviet Union and Russian Empire represent two diametrically opposed political orders, and still, neither aspired toward nor achieved the global hegemony Western military and economic expansion has reached.

The US is its Own Worst Enemy  

President Putin’s comments about the United States using various proxies as “instruments” toward achieving their goals, but with which they”burn their fingers and recoil” in the process could best be exemplified in the US’ arming of Al Qaeda and other militant groups in Afghanistan during the 1980’s. Al Qaeda would go on to become a global scourge the US claims it must now wage an equally global war to extinguish, of course with no apparent success.

Part of the United States’ growing problem upon the global stage, a problem where it is irredeemably losing respect and legitimacy it had once commanded, is its own mass media and its utter failure to hold accountable poor policy driven by corrupt, criminal special interests. Leaving it to Russian President Vladimir Putin to point out the sorry state of American foreign policy grants Russia the respect and legitimacy the US would have otherwise held onto were it capable of putting its own house in order. The inability of America’s media to serve public interests is in itself a symptom of America’s greater malaise.

Of course as with all nations, Russia does what is in Russia’s own best interests. Occasionally, however, these interests converge with public interests and in this case, global interests. The United States’ foreign policy has become a global menace to all, not just a menace to Russia. However, because US foreign policy is a menace to Russia as well, Russia by necessity must protest it at venues like the Valdai International Club.Because of this, President Putin’s words strike with a popular resonance.

From Afghanistan, to Iraq, to Syria, to Ukraine and now ironically back to Iraq again, the United States has left a trail of catastrophe behind all that it has done overseas. Nations so far spared such catastrophe are most likely considering what happens if they’re next. It is not the Kremlin’s ability to sway the minds of the world that has turned the tables on America causing it to slink away into irrelevancy and general disdain, but its own actions it refuses to address or reform.

When America’s Agenda Becomes the “World’s” Agenda…

President Putin would continue with comments stating, “it looks like the so-called ‘winners’ of the Cold War are determined to have it all and reshape the world into a place that could better serve their interests alone.” He would also state, “in a world dominated by one country and a group of its satellites, the process of ‘global decision-making’ often boils down to pushing through their own recipes under the guise of a universal proposal. This group has in fact become so ambitious that its solutions are now passed off as decisions made by the entire global community.”It is difficult to disagree.

With the rise of the BRICS highlighting just how “global” America’s “recipes” are not, President Putin’s “diatribe” will soon become painfully obvious facts understood widely around the world and only further hinder the West as it tries to manufacturing legitimacy and authority out of thinner and thinner air. Indeed, as President Putin suggests, there is nothing truly “international” about what is often called “international consensus.” Instead, it is a collection of “satellites” around the United States, and often even states strong-armed into lending their “consensus.” When nations a billion strong refuse to sign onto the US’ agenda, or an entire continent rejects the authority of America’s so-called “international” institutions, can they truly be called “international?”

Such tactics however, resemble those of tyrannies, in fact, the very tyrannies the United States had once been thought of as the champion against. Ironic that it has become what it had once fought, from its inception to the pinnacle of its power, influence and respect. The tides will change when President Putin’s message becomes better understood and the true global consensus develops the power and resources to have its voice heard over the manufactured “consent” the US wields upon the world’s stage. While it is possible that the US might alternatively right itself before this happens, it is unlikely. As the NYT proves, those charged with holding the United States’ special interests accountable have clearly committed themselves to doing precisely the opposite.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

As Joe Biden pointedly refused to meet with Israel’s Security Chief, Moshe Ya’alon, the Netanyahu government is now terrified of losing essential European trade and American military support as the international community condemns the massacre of civilians in Gaza during Israel’s attack in July. Any sanctions imposed by the EU would dramatically affect Israel’s economy which is dependent on the European single market for its survival.

There are now recriminations in an Israel that has, for decades, been used to punching way above its weight, secure in the knowledge that the power of its lobbyists in both the EU and the U.S. would protect against its military excesses in the Middle East.

Now, however, there has been a palpable paradigm shift as the world re-evaluates its opinion of an expansionist regime that continues to treat the international community, upon which it is dependent, with such obvious contempt.

Neither Washington nor Brussels are happy that the Israeli state, after decades of receiving economic and military support, has now become such an intractable obstacle to peace and a threat to global security. Which is why the EU is now considering trade sanctions that many feel are much overdue.

Vladimir Putin’s remarks at the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club are worth more than a link in my latest column. These are the remarks of a humanitarian political leader, the like of which the world has not seen in my lifetime.

Compare Putin to the corrupt war criminal in the White House or to his puppets in office in Germany, UK, France, Japan, Canada, Australia, and you will see the difference between a criminal clique and a leader striving for a humane and livable world in which the interests of all peoples are respected.

In a sane Western society, Putin’s statements would have been reproduced in full and discussions organized with remarks from experts such as Stephen F. Cohen. Choruses of approval would have been heard on television and read in the print media. But, of course, nothing like this is possible in a country whose rulers claim that it is the “exceptional” and “indispensable” country with an extra-legal right to hegemony over the world. As far as Washington and its prostitute media, named “presstitutes” by the trends specialist Gerald Celente, are concerned, no country counts except Washington. “You are with us or against us,” which means “you are our vassals or our enemies.” This means that Washington has declared Russia, China, India, Brazil and other parts of South America, Iran, and South Africa to be enemies.

This is a big chunk of the world for a bankrupt country, hated by its vassal populations and many of its own subjects, that has not won a war since it defeated tiny Japan in 1945 by using nuclear weapons, the only use of such terrible weapons in world history.

As an American, try to image any known American politician, or for that matter any professor at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, or Stanford capable of giving an address to an educated discussion group of the quality of Putin’s remarks. Try to find any American politician capable of responding precisely and directly to questions instead of employing evasion.

No one can read Putin’s remarks without concluding that Putin is the leader of the world.

In my opinion, Putin is such a towering figure that Washington has him marked for assassination. The CIA will use one of the Muslim terrorists that the CIA supports inside Russia. Unlike an American president, who dares not move among the people openly, Putin is not kept remote from the people. Putin is at ease with the Russian people and mingles among them. This makes him an easy target for the CIA to use a Chechnya terrorist, a Jihadist suicide bomber, or the traditional “lone nut” to assassinate Putin.

The immoral, wicked, and declining West is incapable of producing leadership of Putin’s quality. Having defamed Putin, assassinating him will cause little comment in the Western media.

Here are Putin’s remarkable remarks:

Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club
24 October 2014, Sochi

Vladimir Putin took part in the final plenary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s XI session. The meeting’s theme is The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules.

This year, 108 experts, historians and political analysts from 25 countries, including 62 foreign participants, took part in the club’s work.

The plenary meeting summed up the club’s work over the previous three days, which concentrated on analysing the factors eroding the current system of institutions and norms of international law.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the XI meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

It was mentioned already that the club has new co-organisers this year. They include Russian non-governmental organisations, expert groups and leading universities. The idea was also raised of broadening the discussions to include not just issues related to Russia itself but also global politics and the economy.

Then organisation and content will bolster the club’s influence as a leading discussion and expert forum. At the same time, I hope the ‘Valdai spirit’ will remain – this free and open atmosphere and chance to express all manner of very different and frank opinions.

Let me say in this respect that I will also not let you down and will speak directly and frankly. Some of what I say might seem a bit too harsh, but if we do not speak directly and honestly about what we really think, then there is little point in even meeting in this way. It would be better in that case just to keep to diplomatic get-togethers, where no one says anything of real sense and, recalling the words of one famous diplomat, you realise that diplomats have tongues so as not to speak the truth.

We get together for other reasons. We get together so as to talk frankly with each other. We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us.

Today’s discussion took place under the theme: New Rules or a Game without Rules. I think that this formula accurately describes the historic turning point we have reached today and the choice we all face. There is nothing new of course in the idea that the world is changing very fast. I know this is something you have spoken about at the discussions today. It is certainly hard not to notice the dramatic transformations in global politics and the economy, public life, and in industry, information and social technologies.

Let me ask you right now to forgive me if I end up repeating what some of the discussion’s participants have already said. It’s practically impossible to avoid. You have already held detailed discussions, but I will set out my point of view. It will coincide with other participants’ views on some points and differ on others.

As we analyse today’s situation, let us not forget history’s lessons. First of all, changes in the world order – and what we are seeing today are events on this scale – have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights.

The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organisations are also going through difficult times.

Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II. Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system’s ‘founding fathers’ had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.

The main thing is that this system needs to develop, and despite its various shortcomings, needs to at least be capable of keeping the world’s current problems within certain limits and regulating the intensity of the natural competition between countries.

It is my conviction that we could not take this mechanism of checks and balances that we built over the last decades, sometimes with such effort and difficulty, and simply tear it apart without building anything in its place. Otherwise we would be left with no instruments other than brute force.

What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it the new realities in the system of international relations.

But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance.

The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called ‘victors’ in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.

Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.

We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.

In a situation where you had domination by one country and its allies, or its satellites rather, the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes. This group’s ambitions grew so big that they started presenting the policies they put together in their corridors of power as the view of the entire international community. But this is not the case.

The very notion of ‘national sovereignty’ became a relative value for most countries. In essence, what was being proposed was the formula: the greater the loyalty towards the world’s sole power centre, the greater this or that ruling regime’s legitimacy.

We will have a free discussion afterwards and I will be happy to answer your questions and would also like to use my right to ask you questions. Let someone try to disprove the arguments that I just set out during the upcoming discussion.

The measures taken against those who refuse to submit are well-known and have been tried and tested many times. They include use of force, economic and propaganda pressure, meddling in domestic affairs, and appeals to a kind of ‘supra-legal’ legitimacy when they need to justify illegal intervention in this or that conflict or toppling inconvenient regimes. Of late, we have increasing evidence too that outright blackmail has been used with regard to a number of leaders. It is not for nothing that ‘big brother’ is spending billions of dollars on keeping the whole world, including its own closest allies, under surveillance.

Let’s ask ourselves, how comfortable are we with this, how safe are we, how happy living in this world, and how fair and rational has it become? Maybe, we have no real reasons to worry, argue and ask awkward questions? Maybe the United States’ exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all, and their meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy, and we should maybe just relax and enjoy it all?

Let me say that this is not the case, absolutely not the case.

A unilateral diktat and imposing one’s own models produces the opposite result. Instead of settling conflicts it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.

Why do they support such people? They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals but then burn their fingers and recoil. I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.

They once sponsored Islamic extremist movements to fight the Soviet Union. Those groups got their battle experience in Afghanistan and later gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The West if not supported, at least closed its eyes, and, I would say, gave information, political and financial support to international terrorists’ invasion of Russia (we have not forgotten this) and the Central Asian region’s countries. Only after horrific terrorist attacks were committed on US soil itself did the United States wake up to the common threat of terrorism. Let me remind you that we were the first country to support the American people back then, the first to react as friends and partners to the terrible tragedy of September 11.

During my conversations with American and European leaders, I always spoke of the need to fight terrorism together, as a challenge on a global scale. We cannot resign ourselves to and accept this threat, cannot cut it into separate pieces using double standards. Our partners expressed agreement, but a little time passed and we ended up back where we started. First there was the military operation in Iraq, then in Libya, which got pushed to the brink of falling apart. Why was Libya pushed into this situation? Today it is a country in danger of breaking apart and has become a training ground for terrorists.

Only the current Egyptian leadership’s determination and wisdom saved this key Arab country from chaos and having extremists run rampant. In Syria, as in the past, the United States and its allies started directly financing and arming rebels and allowing them to fill their ranks with mercenaries from various countries. Let me ask where do these rebels get their money, arms and military specialists? Where does all this come from? How did the notorious ISIL manage to become such a powerful group, essentially a real armed force?

As for financing sources, today, the money is coming not just from drugs, production of which has increased not just by a few percentage points but many-fold, since the international coalition forces have been present in Afghanistan. You are aware of this. The terrorists are getting money from selling oil too. Oil is produced in territory controlled by the terrorists, who sell it at dumping prices, produce it and transport it. But someone buys this oil, resells it, and makes a profit from it, not thinking about the fact that they are thus financing terrorists who could come sooner or later to their own soil and sow destruction in their own countries.

Where do they get new recruits? In Iraq, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the state’s institutions, including the army, were left in ruins. We said back then, be very, very careful. You are driving people out into the street, and what will they do there? Don’t forget (rightfully or not) that they were in the leadership of a large regional power, and what are you now turning them into?

What was the result? Tens of thousands of soldiers, officers and former Baath Party activists were turned out into the streets and today have joined the rebels’ ranks. Perhaps this is what explains why the Islamic State group has turned out so effective? In military terms, it is acting very effectively and has some very professional people. Russia warned repeatedly about the dangers of unilateral military actions, intervening in sovereign states’ affairs, and flirting with extremists and radicals. We insisted on having the groups fighting the central Syrian government, above all the Islamic State, included on the lists of terrorist organisations. But did we see any results? We appealed in vain.

We sometimes get the impression that our colleagues and friends are constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies, throw all their effort into addressing the risks they themselves have created, and pay an ever-greater price.

Colleagues, this period of unipolar domination has convincingly demonstrated that having only one power centre does not make global processes more manageable. On the contrary, this kind of unstable construction has shown its inability to fight the real threats such as regional conflicts, terrorism, drug trafficking, religious fanaticism, chauvinism and neo-Nazism. At the same time, it has opened the road wide for inflated national pride, manipulating public opinion and letting the strong bully and suppress the weak.

Essentially, the unipolar world is simply a means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries. The unipolar world turned out too uncomfortable, heavy and unmanageable a burden even for the self-proclaimed leader. Comments along this line were made here just before and I fully agree with this. This is why we see attempts at this new historic stage to recreate a semblance of a quasi-bipolar world as a convenient model for perpetuating American leadership. It does not matter who takes the place of the centre of evil in American propaganda, the USSR’s old place as the main adversary. It could be Iran, as a country seeking to acquire nuclear technology, China, as the world’s biggest economy, or Russia, as a nuclear superpower.

Today, we are seeing new efforts to fragment the world, draw new dividing lines, put together coalitions not built for something but directed against someone, anyone, create the image of an enemy as was the case during the Cold War years, and obtain the right to this leadership, or diktat if you wish. The situation was presented this way during the Cold War. We all understand this and know this. The United States always told its allies: “We have a common enemy, a terrible foe, the centre of evil, and we are defending you, our allies, from this foe, and so we have the right to order you around, force you to sacrifice your political and economic interests and pay your share of the costs for this collective defence, but we will be the ones in charge of it all of course.” In short, we see today attempts in a new and changing world to reproduce the familiar models of global management, and all this so as to guarantee their [the US’] exceptional position and reap political and economic dividends.

But these attempts are increasingly divorced from reality and are in contradiction with the world’s diversity. Steps of this kind inevitably create confrontation and countermeasures and have the opposite effect to the hoped-for goals. We see what happens when politics rashly starts meddling in the economy and the logic of rational decisions gives way to the logic of confrontation that only hurt one’s own economic positions and interests, including national business interests.

Joint economic projects and mutual investment objectively bring countries closer together and help to smooth out current problems in relations between states. But today, the global business community faces unprecedented pressure from Western governments. What business, economic expediency and pragmatism can we speak of when we hear slogans such as “the homeland is in danger”, “the free world is under threat”, and “democracy is in jeopardy”? And so everyone needs to mobilise. That is what a real mobilisation policy looks like.

Sanctions are already undermining the foundations of world trade, the WTO rules and the principle of inviolability of private property. They are dealing a blow to liberal model of globalisation based on markets, freedom and competition, which, let me note, is a model that has primarily benefited precisely the Western countries. And now they risk losing trust as the leaders of globalisation. We have to ask ourselves, why was this necessary? After all, the United States’ prosperity rests in large part on the trust of investors and foreign holders of dollars and US securities. This trust is clearly being undermined and signs of disappointment in the fruits of globalisation are visible now in many countries.

The well-known Cyprus precedent and the politically motivated sanctions have only strengthened the trend towards seeking to bolster economic and financial sovereignty and countries’ or their regional groups’ desire to find ways of protecting themselves from the risks of outside pressure. We already see that more and more countries are looking for ways to become less dependent on the dollar and are setting up alternative financial and payments systems and reserve currencies. I think that our American friends are quite simply cutting the branch they are sitting on. You cannot mix politics and the economy, but this is what is happening now. I have always thought and still think today that politically motivated sanctions were a mistake that will harm everyone, but I am sure that we will come back to this subject later.

We know how these decisions were taken and who was applying the pressure. But let me stress that Russia is not going to get all worked up, get offended or come begging at anyone’s door. Russia is a self-sufficient country. We will work within the foreign economic environment that has taken shape, develop domestic production and technology and act more decisively to carry out transformation. Pressure from outside, as has been the case on past occasions, will only consolidate our society, keep us alert and make us concentrate on our main development goals.

Of course the sanctions are a hindrance. They are trying to hurt us through these sanctions, block our development and push us into political, economic and cultural isolation, force us into backwardness in other words. But let me say yet again that the world is a very different place today. We have no intention of shutting ourselves off from anyone and choosing some kind of closed development road, trying to live in autarky. We are always open to dialogue, including on normalising our economic and political relations. We are counting here on the pragmatic approach and position of business communities in the leading countries.

Some are saying today that Russia is supposedly turning its back on Europe – such words were probably spoken already here too during the discussions – and is looking for new business partners, above all in Asia. Let me say that this is absolutely not the case. Our active policy in the Asian-Pacific region began not just yesterday and not in response to sanctions, but is a policy that we have been following for a good many years now. Like many other countries, including Western countries, we saw that Asia is playing an ever greater role in the world, in the economy and in politics, and there is simply no way we can afford to overlook these developments.

Let me say again that everyone is doing this, and we will do so to, all the more so as a large part of our country is geographically in Asia. Why should we not make use of our competitive advantages in this area? It would be extremely shortsighted not to do so.

Developing economic ties with these countries and carrying out joint integration projects also creates big incentives for our domestic development. Today’s demographic, economic and cultural trends all suggest that dependence on a sole superpower will objectively decrease. This is something that European and American experts have been talking and writing about too.

Perhaps developments in global politics will mirror the developments we are seeing in the global economy, namely, intensive competition for specific niches and frequent change of leaders in specific areas. This is entirely possible.

There is no doubt that humanitarian factors such as education, science, healthcare and culture are playing a greater role in global competition. This also has a big impact on international relations, including because this ‘soft power’ resource will depend to a great extent on real achievements in developing human capital rather than on sophisticated propaganda tricks.

At the same time, the formation of a so-called polycentric world (I would also like to draw attention to this, colleagues) in and of itself does not improve stability; in fact, it is more likely to be the opposite. The goal of reaching global equilibrium is turning into a fairly difficult puzzle, an equation with many unknowns.

So, what is in store for us if we choose not to live by the rules – even if they may be strict and inconvenient – but rather live without any rules at all? And that scenario is entirely possible; we cannot rule it out, given the tensions in the global situation. Many predictions can already be made, taking into account current trends, and unfortunately, they are not optimistic. If we do not create a clear system of mutual commitments and agreements, if we do not build the mechanisms for managing and resolving crisis situations, the symptoms of global anarchy will inevitably grow.

Today, we already see a sharp increase in the likelihood of a whole set of violent conflicts with either direct or indirect participation by the world’s major powers. And the risk factors include not just traditional multinational conflicts, but also the internal instability in separate states, especially when we talk about nations located at the intersections of major states’ geopolitical interests, or on the border of cultural, historical, and economic civilizational continents.

Ukraine, which I’m sure was discussed at length and which we will discuss some more, is one of the example of such sorts of conflicts that affect international power balance, and I think it will certainly not be the last. From here emanates the next real threat of destroying the current system of arms control agreements. And this dangerous process was launched by the United States of America when it unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, and then set about and continues today to actively pursue the creation of its global missile defence system.

Colleagues, friends, I want to point out that we did not start this. Once again, we are sliding into the times when, instead of the balance of interests and mutual guarantees, it is fear and the balance of mutual destruction that prevent nations from engaging in direct conflict. In absence of legal and political instruments, arms are once again becoming the focal point of the global agenda; they are used wherever and however, without any UN Security Council sanctions. And if the Security Council refuses to produce such decisions, then it is immediately declared to be an outdated and ineffective instrument.

Many states do not see any other ways of ensuring their sovereignty but to obtain their own bombs. This is extremely dangerous. We insist on continuing talks; we are not only in favour of talks, but insist on continuing talks to reduce nuclear arsenals. The less nuclear weapons we have in the world, the better. And we are ready for the most serious, concrete discussions on nuclear disarmament – but only serious discussions without any double standards.

What do I mean? Today, many types of high-precision weaponry are already close to mass-destruction weapons in terms of their capabilities, and in the event of full renunciation of nuclear weapons or radical reduction of nuclear potential, nations that are leaders in creating and producing high-precision systems will have a clear military advantage. Strategic parity will be disrupted, and this is likely to bring destabilization. The use of a so-called first global pre-emptive strike may become tempting. In short, the risks do not decrease, but intensify.

The next obvious threat is the further escalation of ethnic, religious, and social conflicts. Such conflicts are dangerous not only as such, but also because they create zones of anarchy, lawlessness, and chaos around them, places that are comfortable for terrorists and criminals, where piracy, human trafficking, and drug trafficking flourish.

Incidentally, at the time, our colleagues tried to somehow manage these processes, use regional conflicts and design ‘colour revolutions’ to suit their interests, but the genie escaped the bottle. It looks like the controlled chaos theory fathers themselves do not know what to do with it; there is disarray in their ranks.

We closely follow the discussions by both the ruling elite and the expert community. It is enough to look at the headlines of the Western press over the last year. The same people are called fighters for democracy, and then Islamists; first they write about revolutions and then call them riots and upheavals. The result is obvious: the further expansion of global chaos.

Colleagues, given the global situation, it is time to start agreeing on fundamental things. This is incredibly important and necessary; this is much better than going back to our own corners. The more we all face common problems, the more we find ourselves in the same boat, so to speak. And the logical way out is in cooperation between nations, societies, in finding collective answers to increasing challenges, and in joint risk management. Granted, some of our partners, for some reason, remember this only when it suits their interests.

Practical experience shows that joint answers to challenges are not always a panacea; and we need to understand this. Moreover, in most cases, they are hard to reach; it is not easy to overcome the differences in national interests, the subjectivity of different approaches, particularly when it comes to nations with different cultural and historical traditions. But nevertheless, we have examples when, having common goals and acting based on the same criteria, together we achieved real success.

Let me remind you about solving the problem of chemical weapons in Syria, and the substantive dialogue on the Iranian nuclear programme, as well as our work on North Korean issues, which also has some positive results. Why can’t we use this experience in the future to solve local and global challenges?

What could be the legal, political, and economic basis for a new world order that would allow for stability and security, while encouraging healthy competition, not allowing the formation of new monopolies that hinder development? It is unlikely that someone could provide absolutely exhaustive, ready-made solutions right now. We will need extensive work with participation by a wide range of governments, global businesses, civil society, and such expert platforms as ours.

However, it is obvious that success and real results are only possible if key participants in international affairs can agree on harmonising basic interests, on reasonable self-restraint, and set the example of positive and responsible leadership. We must clearly identify where unilateral actions end and we need to apply multilateral mechanisms, and as part of improving the effectiveness of international law, we must resolve the dilemma between the actions by international community to ensure security and human rights and the principle of national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of any state.

Those very collisions increasingly lead to arbitrary external interference in complex internal processes, and time and again, they provoke dangerous conflicts between leading global players. The issue of maintaining sovereignty becomes almost paramount in maintaining and strengthening global stability.

Clearly, discussing the criteria for the use of external force is extremely difficult; it is practically impossible to separate it from the interests of particular nations. However, it is far more dangerous when there are no agreements that are clear to everyone, when no clear conditions are set for necessary and legal interference.

I will add that international relations must be based on international law, which itself should rest on moral principles such as justice, equality and truth. Perhaps most important is respect for one’s partners and their interests. This is an obvious formula, but simply following it could radically change the global situation.

I am certain that if there is a will, we can restore the effectiveness of the international and regional institutions system. We do not even need to build anything anew, from the scratch; this is not a “greenfield,” especially since the institutions created after World War II are quite universal and can be given modern substance, adequate to manage the current situation.

This is true of improving the work of the UN, whose central role is irreplaceable, as well as the OSCE, which, over the course of 40 years, has proven to be a necessary mechanism for ensuring security and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic region. I must say that even now, in trying to resolve the crisis in southeast Ukraine, the OSCE is playing a very positive role.

In light of the fundamental changes in the international environment, the increase in uncontrollability and various threats, we need a new global consensus of responsible forces. It’s not about some local deals or a division of spheres of influence in the spirit of classic diplomacy, or somebody’s complete global domination. I think that we need a new version of interdependence. We should not be afraid of it. On the contrary, this is a good instrument for harmonising positions.

This is particularly relevant given the strengthening and growth of certain regions on the planet, which process objectively requires institutionalisation of such new poles, creating powerful regional organisations and developing rules for their interaction. Cooperation between these centres would seriously add to the stability of global security, policy and economy.  But in order to establish such a dialogue, we need to proceed from the assumption that all regional centres and integration projects forming around them need to have equal rights to development, so that they can complement each other and nobody can force them into conflict or opposition artificially. Such destructive actions would break down ties between states, and the states themselves would be subjected to extreme hardship, or perhaps even total destruction.

I would like to remind you of the last year’s events. We have told our American and European partners that hasty backstage decisions, for example, on Ukraine’s association with the EU, are fraught with serious risks to the economy. We didn’t even say anything about politics; we spoke only about the economy, saying that such steps, made without any prior arrangements, touch on the interests of many other nations, including Russia as Ukraine’s main trade partner, and that a wide discussion of the issues is necessary. Incidentally, in this regard, I will remind you that, for example, the talks on Russia’s accession to the WTO lasted 19 years. This was very difficult work, and a certain consensus was reached.

Why am I bringing this up? Because in implementing Ukraine’s association project, our partners would come to us with their goods and services through the back gate, so to speak, and we did not agree to this, nobody asked us about this. We had discussions on all topics related to Ukraine’s association with the EU, persistent discussions, but I want to stress that this was done in an entirely civilised manner, indicating possible problems, showing the obvious reasoning and arguments. Nobody wanted to listen to us and nobody wanted to talk. They simply told us: this is none of your business, point, end of discussion. Instead of a comprehensive but – I stress – civilised dialogue, it all came down to a government overthrow; they plunged the country into chaos, into economic and social collapse, into a civil war with enormous casualties.

Why? When I ask my colleagues why, they no longer have an answer; nobody says anything. That’s it. Everyone’s at a loss, saying it just turned out that way. Those actions should not have been encouraged – it wouldn’t have worked. After all (I already spoke about this), former Ukrainian President Yanukovych signed everything, agreed with everything. Why do it? What was the point? What is this, a civilised way of solving problems? Apparently, those who constantly throw together new ‘colour revolutions’ consider themselves ‘brilliant artists’ and simply cannot stop.

I am certain that the work of integrated associations, the cooperation of regional structures, should be built on a transparent, clear basis; the Eurasian Economic Union’s formation process is a good example of such transparency. The states that are parties to this project informed their partners of their plans in advance, specifying the parameters of our association, the principles of its work, which fully correspond with the World Trade Organisation rules.

I will add that we would also have welcomed the start of a concrete dialogue between the Eurasian and European Union. Incidentally, they have almost completely refused us this as well, and it is also unclear why – what is so scary about it?

And, of course, with such joint work, we would think that we need to engage in dialogue (I spoke about this many times and heard agreement from many of our western partners, at least in Europe) on the need to create a common space for economic and humanitarian cooperation stretching all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

Colleagues, Russia made its choice. Our priorities are further improving our democratic and open economy institutions, accelerated internal development, taking into account all the positive modern trends in the world, and consolidating society based on traditional values and patriotism.

We have an integration-oriented, positive, peaceful agenda; we are working actively with our colleagues in the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS and other partners. This agenda is aimed at developing ties between governments, not dissociating. We are not planning to cobble together any blocs or get involved in an exchange of blows.

The allegations and statements that Russia is trying to establish some sort of empire, encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbours, are groundless. Russia does not need any kind of special, exclusive place in the world – I want to emphasise this. While respecting the interests of others, we simply want for our own interests to be taken into account and for our position to be respected.
We are well aware that the world has entered an era of changes and global transformations, when we all need a particular degree of caution, the ability to avoid thoughtless steps. In the years after the Cold War, participants in global politics lost these qualities somewhat. Now, we need to remember them. Otherwise, hopes for a peaceful, stable development will be a dangerous illusion, while today’s turmoil will simply serve as a prelude to the collapse of world order.

Yes, of course, I have already said that building a more stable world order is a difficult task. We are talking about long and hard work. We were able to develop rules for interaction after World War II, and we were able to reach an agreement in Helsinki in the 1970s. Our common duty is to resolve this fundamental challenge at this new stage of development.

Thank you very much for your attention.

VLADIMIR PUTIN (commenting on statements by former Prime Minister of France Dominique de Villepin and former Federal Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Schuessel): I would like to begin by saying that overall I agree with what both Wolfgang and Dominique have said. I fully support everything they said. However, there are a few things I would like to clarify.

I believe Dominique referred to the Ukrainian crisis as the reason for the deterioration in international relations. Naturally, this crisis is a cause, but this is not the principal cause. The crisis in Ukraine is itself a result of a misbalance in international relations.

I have already said in my address why this is happening, and my colleagues have already mentioned it. I can add to this, if necessary. However, primarily this is the outcome of the misbalance in international relations.

As for the issues mentioned by Wolfgang, we will get back to them: we will talk about the elections, if necessary, and about the supply of energy resources to Ukraine and Europe.

However, I would like to respond to the phrase “Wolfgang is an optimist, while life is harder for pessimists.” I already mentioned the old joke we have about a pessimist and an optimist, but I cannot help telling it again. We have this very old joke about a pessimist and an optimist: a pessimist drinks his cognac and says, “It smells of bedbugs,” while an optimist catches a bedbug, crushes it, then sniffs it and says, “A slight whiff of cognac.”

I would rather be the pessimist who drinks cognac than the optimist who sniffs bedbugs. (Laughter)

Though it does seem that optimists have a better time, our common goal is to live a decent life (without overindulging in alcohol). For this purpose, we need to avoid crises, together handle all challenges and threats and build such relations on the global arena that would help us reach these goals.

Later I will be ready to respond to some of the other things mentioned here. Thank you.

BRITISH JOURNALIST SEUMAS MILNE (retranslated from Russian): I would like to ask a two-in-one question.

First, Mr President, do you believe that the actions of Russia in Ukraine and Crimea over the past months were a reaction to rules being broken and are an example of state management without rules? And the other question is: does Russia see these global violations of rules as a signal for changing its position? It has been said here lately that Russia cannot lead in the existing global situation; however, it is demonstrating the qualities of a leader. How would you respond to this?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I would like to ask you to reword the second part of your question, please. What exactly is your second question?

SEUMAS MILNE (retranslated from Russian): It has been said here that Russia cannot strive for leading positions in the world considering the outcomes of the Soviet Union’s collapse, however it can influence who the leader will be. Is it possible that Russia would alter its position, change its focus, as you mentioned, regarding the Middle East and the issues connected with Iran’s nuclear program me?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Russia has never altered its position. We are a country with a traditional focus on cooperation and search for joint solutions. This is first.
Second. We do not have any claims to world leadership. The idea that Russia is seeking some sort of exclusivity is false; I said so in my address. We are not demanding a place under the sun; we are simply proceeding from the premise that all participants in international relations should respect each other’s interests. We are ready to respect the interests of our partners, but we expect the same respect for our interests.

We did not change our attitude to the situation in the Middle East, to the Iranian nuclear programme, to the North Korean conflict, to fighting terrorism and crime in general, as well as drug trafficking. We never changed any of our priorities even under the pressure of unfriendly actions on the part of our western partners, who are lead, very obviously in this case, by the United States. We did not even change the terms of the sanctions.

However, here too everything has its limits. I proceed from the idea that it might be possible that external circumstances can force us to alter some of our positions, but so far there have not been any extreme situations of this kind and we have no intention of changing anything. That is the first point.

The second point has to do with our actions in Crimea. I have spoken about this on numerous occasions, but if necessary, I can repeat it. This is Part 2 of Article 1 of the United Nations’ Charter – the right of nations to self-determination. It has all been written down, and not simply as the right to self-determination, but as the goal of the united nations. Read the article carefully.

I do not understand why people living in Crimea do not have this right, just like the people living in, say, Kosovo. This was also mentioned here. Why is it that in one case white is white, while in another the same is called black? We will never agree with this nonsense. That is one thing.

The other very important thing is something nobody mentions, so I would like to draw attention to it. What happened in Crimea? First, there was this anti-state overthrow in Kiev. Whatever anyone may say, I find this obvious – there was an armed seizure of power.

In many parts of the world, people welcomed this, not realising what this could lead to, while in some regions people were frightened that power was seized by extremists, by nationalists and right-wingers including neo-Nazis. People feared for their future and for their families and reacted accordingly. In Crimea, people held a referendum.

I would like to draw your attention to this. It was not by chance that we in Russia stated that there was a referendum. The decision to hold the referendum was made by the legitimate authority of Crimea – its Parliament, elected a few years ago under Ukrainian law prior to all these grave events. This legitimate body of authority declared a referendum, and then based on its results, they adopted a declaration of independence, just as Kosovo did, and turned to the Russian Federation with a request to accept Crimea into the Russian state.

You know, whatever anyone may say and no matter how hard they try to dig something up, this would be very difficult, considering the language of the United Nations court ruling, which clearly states (as applied to the Kosovo precedent) that the decision on self-determination does not require the approval of the supreme authority of a country.

In this connection I always recall what the sages of the past said. You may remember the wonderful saying: Whatever Jupiter is allowed, the Ox is not.

We cannot agree with such an approach. The ox may not be allowed something, but the bear will not even bother to ask permission. Here we consider it the master of the taiga, and I know for sure that it does not intend to move to any other climatic zones – it will not be comfortable there. However, it will not let anyone have its taiga either. I believe this is clear.

What are the problems of the present-day world order? Let us be frank about it, we are all experts here. We talk and talk, we are like diplomats. What happened in the world? There used to be a bipolar system. The Soviet Union collapsed, the power called the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
All the rules governing international relations after World War II were designed for a bipolar world. True, the Soviet Union was referred to as ‘the Upper Volta with missiles’. Maybe so, and there were loads of missiles. Besides, we had such brilliant politicians like Nikita Khrushchev, who hammered the desk with his shoe at the UN. And the whole world, primarily the United States, and NATO thought: this Nikita is best left alone, he might just go and fire a missile, they have lots of them, we should better show some respect for them.

Now that the Soviet Union is gone, what is the situation and what are the temptations? There is no need to take into account Russia’s views, it is very dependent, it has gone through transformation during the collapse of the Soviet Union, and we can do whatever we like, disregarding all rules and regulations.

This is exactly what is happening. Dominique here mentioned Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia before that. Was this really all handled within the framework of international law? Do not tell us those fairy-tales.

This means that some can ignore everything, while we cannot protect the interests of the Russian-speaking and Russian population of Crimea. This will not happen.

I would like everyone to understand this. We need to get rid of this temptation and attempts to arrange the world to one’s liking, and to create a balanced system of interests and relations that has long been prescribed in the world, we only have to show some respect.

As I have already said, we understand that the world has changed, and we are ready to take heed of it and adjust this system accordingly, but we will never allow anyone to completely ignore our interests.

Does Russia aim for any leading role? We don’t need to be a superpower; this would only be an extra load for us. I have already mentioned the taiga: it is immense, illimitable, and just to develop our territories we need plenty of time, energy and resources.

We have no need of getting involved in things, of ordering others around, but we want others to stay out of our affairs as well and to stop pretending they rule the world. That is all. If there is an area where Russia could be a leader – it is in asserting the norms of international law.

QUESTION: The peaceful process between the Palestinians and Israelis has completely collapsed. The United States never let the quartet work properly. At the same time, the growth of illegal Israeli settlements on the occupied territories renders impossible the creation of a Palestinian state. We have recently witnessed a very severe attack on the Gaza Strip. What is Russia’s attitude to this tense situation in the Middle East? And what do you think of the developments in Syria?

One remark for Mr Villepin as well. You spoke of humiliation. What can be more humiliating than the occupation that Palestine has been experiencing all these years?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding Palestine and the Israeli conflict. It is easy for me to speak about this because, first, I have to say and I believe everyone can see that our relations with Israel have transformed seriously in the past decade. I am referring to the fact that a large number of people from the former Soviet Union live in Israel and we cannot remain indifferent to their fate. At the same time, we have traditional relations with the Arab world, specifically with Palestine. Moreover, the Soviet Union, and Russia is its legal successor, has recognised Palestinian statehood. We are not changing anything here.

Finally, regarding the settlements. We share the views of the main participants in international relations. We consider this a mistake. I have already said this to our Israeli partners. I believe this is an obstacle to normal relations and I strongly expect that the practice itself will be stopped and the entire process of a peaceful settlement will return to its legal course based on agreement.

We proceed from the fact that that Middle East conflict is one of the primary causes of destabilisation not only in the region, but also in the world at large. Humiliation of any people living in the area, or anywhere else in the world is clearly a source of destabilisation and should be done away with. Naturally, this should be done using such means and measures that would be acceptable for all the participants in the process and for all those living in the area.
This is a very complicated process, but Russia is ready to use every means it has for this settlement, including its good relations with the parties to this conflict.

DIRECTOR, KIEV CENTER FOR POLITICAL AND CONFLICT STUDIES MIKHAIL POGREBINSKY: Mr President, I have come from Ukraine. For the first time in 70 years, it is going through very hard times. My question has to do with the possibility of a settlement. In this connection, I would like to go back in history. You mentioned that there was a moment when a trilateral format was under consideration: Russia-Ukraine-Europe. Back then, Europe did not agree to it, after which a series of tragic events took place, including the loss of Crimea, the death of thousands of people and so forth.

Recently, Europe together with Ukraine and Russia agreed that this format is possible after all; moreover, a corresponding resolution was passed. At that moment, there was hope that Russia together with Europe and Ukraine would manage to reach agreement and could become the restorer of peace in Ukraine. What happened next? What happened between Moscow and Brussels, Moscow and Berlin – because now the situation seems completely insane? It is unclear what this might lead to. What do you think happened to Europe?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, what happened can be described as nothing happened. Agreements were reached, but neither side complied with them in full. However, full compliance by both sides might be impossible.

For instance, Ukrainian army units were supposed to leave certain locations where they were stationed prior to the Minsk agreements, while the militia army was supposed to leave certain settlements they were holding prior to these agreements. However, neither is the Ukrainian army withdrawing from the locations they should leave, nor is the militia army withdrawing from the settlements they have to move out of, referring, and I will be frank now – to the fact that their families remain there (I mean the militia) and they fear for their safety. Their families, their wives and children live there. This is a serious humanitarian factor.

We are ready to make every effort to ensure the implementation of the Minsk agreements. I would like to take advantage of your question to stress Russia’s position: we are in favour of complete compliance with the Minsk agreements by both sides.

What is the problem? In my view, the key problem is that we do not see the desire on the part of our partners in Kiev, primarily the authorities, to resolve the issue of relations with the country’s southeast peacefully, through negotiations. We keep seeing the same thing in various forms: suppression by force. It all began with Maidan, when they decided to suppress Yanukovych by force. They succeeded and raised this wave of nationalism and then it all transformed into some nationalistic battalions.

When people in southeast Ukraine did not like it, they tried to elect their own bodies of government and management and they were arrested and taken to prison in Kiev at night. Then, when people saw this happening and took to arms, instead of stopping and finally resorting to peaceful dialogue, they sent troops there, with tanks and aircraft.

Incidentally, the global community keeps silent, as if it does not see any of this, as if there is no such thing as ‘disproportionate use of force’. They suddenly forgot all about it. I remember all the frenzy around when we had a complicated situation in the Caucasus. I would hear one and the same thing every day. No more such words today, no more ‘disproportionate use of force’. And that’s while cluster bombs and even tactical weapons are being used.

You see, under the circumstances, it is very difficult for us in Russia to arrange work with people in southeast Ukraine in a way that would induce them to fully comply with all the agreements. They keep saying that the authorities in Kiev do not fully comply with the agreements either.
However, there is no other way. I would like to stress that we are for the full implementation of the agreements by both parties, and the most important thing I want to say – and I want everyone to hear that – if, God forbid, anyone is again tempted to use force for the final settlement of the situation in southeast Ukraine, this will bring the situation to a complete deadlock.

In my view, there is still a chance to reach agreement. Yes, Wolfgang spoke about this, I understood him. He spoke of the upcoming elections in Ukraine and in the southeast of the country. We know it and we are constantly discussing it. Just this morning I had another discussion with the Chancellor of Germany about it. The Minsk agreements do stipulate that elections in the southeast should be held in coordination with Ukrainian legislation, not under Ukrainian law, but in coordination with it.

This was done on purpose, because nobody in the southeast wants to hold elections in line with Ukrainian law. Why? How can this be done, when there is shooting every day, people get killed on both sides and they have to hold elections under Ukrainian law? The war should finally stop and the troops should be withdrawn. You see? Once this is achieved, we can start considering any kind of rapprochement or cooperation. Until this happens, it is hard to talk about anything else.

They spoke of the date of the elections in the southeast, but few know that there has been an agreement that elections in southeast Ukraine should be held by November 3. Later, the date was amended in the corresponding law, without consulting anyone, without consulting with the southeast. The elections were set for December 7, but nobody talked to them. Therefore, the people in the southeast say, “See, they cheated us again, and it will always be this way.”

You can argue over this any way you like. The most important thing is to immediately stop the war and move the troops away. If Ukraine wants to keep its territorial integrity, and this is something we want as well, they need to understand that there is no sense in holding on to some village or other – this is pointless. The idea is to stop the bloodshed and to start normal dialogue, to build relations based on this dialogue and restore at least some communication, primarily in the economy, and gradually other things will follow. I believe this is what should be achieved first and then we can move on.

PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR GOVERNANCE AND PUBLIC POLICY AT CARLETON UNIVERSITY (OTTAWA) PIOTR DUTKIEWICZ: Mr President, if I may I would like to go back to the issue of Crimea, because it is of key importance for both the East and the West. I would like to ask you to give us your picture of the events that lead to it, specifically why you made this decision. Was it possible to do things differently? How did you do it? There are important details – how Russia did it inside Crimea. Finally, how do you see the consequences of this decision for Russia, for Ukraine, for Europe and for the normative world order? I am asking this because I believe millions of people would like to hear your personal reconstruction of those events and of the way you made the decision.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not know how many times I spoke about this, but I will do it again.

On February 21, Viktor Yanukovych signed the well-known documents with the opposition. Foreign ministers of three European countries signed their names under this agreement as guarantors of its implementation.

In the evening of February 21, President Obama called me and we discussed these issues and how we would assist in the implementation of these agreements. Russia undertook certain obligations. I heard that my American colleague was also ready to undertake some obligations. This was the evening of the 21st. On the same day, President Yanukovych called me to say he signed the agreement, the situation had stabilized and he was going to a conference in Kharkov. I will not conceal the fact that I expressed my concern: how was it possible to leave the capital in this situation. He replied that he found it possible because there was the document signed with the opposition and guaranteed by foreign ministers of European countries.

I will tell you more, I told him I was not sure everything would be fine, but it was for him to decide. He was the president, he knew the situation, and he knew better what to do. “In any case, I do not think you should withdraw the law enforcement forces from Kiev,” I told him. He said he understood. Then he left and gave orders to withdraw all the law enforcement troops from Kiev. Nice move, of course.

We all know what happened in Kiev. On the following day, despite all our telephone conversations, despite the signatures of the foreign ministers, as soon as Yanukovych left Kiev his administration was taken over by force along with the government building. On the same day, they shot at the cortege of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, wounding one of his security guards.

Yanukovych called me and said he would like us to meet to talk it over. I agreed. Eventually we agreed to meet in Rostov because it was closer and he did not want to go too far. I was ready to fly to Rostov. However, it turned out he could not go even there. They were beginning to use force against him already, holding him at gunpoint. They were not quite sure where to go.

I will not conceal it; we helped him move to Crimea, where he stayed for a few days. That was when Crimea was still part of Ukraine. However, the situation in Kiev was developing very rapidly and violently, we know what happened, though the broad public may not know – people were killed, they were burned alive there. They came into the office of the Party of Regions, seized the technical workers and killed them, burned them alive in the basement. Under those circumstances, there was no way he could return to Kiev. Everybody forgot about the agreements with the opposition signed by foreign ministers and about our telephone conversations. Yes, I will tell you frankly that he asked us to help him get to Russia, which we did. That was all.

Seeing these developments, people in Crimea almost immediately took to arms and asked us for help in arranging the events they intended to hold. I will be frank; we used our Armed Forces to block Ukrainian units stationed in Crimea, but not to force anyone to take part in the elections. This is impossible, you are all grown people, and you understand it. How could we do it? Lead people to polling stations at gunpoint?

People went to vote as if it were a celebration, everybody knows this, and they all voted, even the Crimean Tatars. There were fewer Crimean Tatars, but the overall vote was high. While the turnout in Crimea in general was about 96 or 94 percent, a smaller number of Crimean Tatars showed up. However 97 percent of them voted ‘yes’. Why? Because those who did not want it did not come to the polling stations, and those who did voted ‘yes’.

I already spoke of the legal side of the matter. The Crimean Parliament met and voted in favour of the referendum. Here again, how could anyone say that several dozen people were dragged to parliament to vote? This never happened and it was impossible: if anyone did not want to vote they would get on a train or plane, or their car and be gone.

They all came and voted for the referendum, and then the people came and voted in favour of joining Russia, that is all. How will this influence international relations? We can see what is happening; however if we refrain from using so-called double standards and accept that all people have equal rights, it would have no influence at all. We have to admit the right of those people to self-determination.

The Pentagon and Big Oil: Militarism and Capital Accumulation

October 26th, 2014 by Prof. James Petras

There is no question that, in the immediate aftermath and for several years following US military conquests, wars, occupations and sanctions, US multi-national corporations lost out on profitable sites for investments. The biggest losses were in the exploitation of natural resources – in particular, gas and oil – in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and South Asia.

As a result some observers speculated that there were deep fissures and contradictory interests within the US ruling class. They argued that, on the one hand, political elites linked to pro-Israel lobbies and the military industrial power configuration, promoted a highly militarized foreign policy agenda and, on the other hand, some of the biggest and wealthiest multi-national corporations sought diplomatic solutions.

Yet this seeming ‘elite division’ did not materialize. There is no evidence for example that the multi-national oil companies sought to oppose the Iraq, Libyan, Afghan, Syrian wars. Nor did the powerful 10 largest oil companies with a net value of over $1.1 trillion dollars mobilize their lobbyists and influentials in the mass media to the cause of peaceful capital penetration and domination of the oil fields via neo-liberal political clients.

In the run-up to the Iraq war, the three major US oil companies, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, eager to exploit the third largest oil reserves in the world, did not engage in Congressional lobbying or exert pressure on the Bush or later Obama Administration for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. At no point did the Big Ten challenge the pro-war Israel lobby and its phony arguments that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction with an alternative policy.

Similar “political passivity” was evidenced in the run-up to the Libyan war. Big Oil was actually signing off on lucrative oil deals, when the militarists in Washington struck again – destroying the Libyan state and tearing asunder the entire fabric of the Libyan economy.

Big oil may have bemoaned the loss of oil and profits but there was no concerted effort, t before or after the Libyan debacle, to critically examine or evaluate the loss of a major oil producing region. In the case of economic sanctions against Iran, possessing the second largest oil reserves, the MNC again were notable by their absence from the halls of Congress and the Treasury Department where the sanctions policy was decided. Prominent Zionist policymakers, Stuart Levey and David Cohen designed and implemented sanctions which prevented US (and EU) oil companies from investing or trading with Teheran.

In fact, despite the seeming divergence of interest between a highly militarized foreign policy and the drive of MNC to pursue the global accumulation of capital, no political conflicts erupted. The basic question that this paper seeks to address is: Why did the major MNC submit to an imperial foreign policy which resulted in lost economic opportunities?

Why the MNC Fail to Oppose Imperial Militarism

There are several possible hypotheses accounting for the MNC accommodation to a highly militarized version of imperial expansion.

In the first instance, the CEO’s of the MNC may have believed that the wars, especially the Iraq war, would be short-term, and would lead to a period of stability under a client regime willing and able to privatize and de-nationalize the oil and gas sector. In other words, the petrol elites bought into the arguments of Rumsfeld, Chaney, Wolfowitz and Feith, that the invasion and conquest would “pay for itself”.

Secondly, even after the prolonged-decade long destructive war and the deepening sectarian conflict, many CEO’s believed that a lost decade would be compensated by “long term” gain. They believed that future profits would flow, once the country was stabilized. The oil majors entry after 2010; however, was immediately threatened by the ISIS offensive. The ‘time frame’ of the MNC strategic planners was understated if not totally wrong headed.

Thirdly, most CEO’s believed that the US-NATO invasion of Libya would lead to monopoly ownership and greater profits than what they received from a public-private partnership with the Gadhafi regime. The oil majors believed that they would secure total or majority control. In other words the war would allow the oil MNC to secure monopoly profits for an extended period. Instead the end of a stable partnership led to a Hobbesian world in which anarchy and chaos inhibited any large scale, long-term entry of MNC.

Fourthly, the MNC, including the big oil corporations, have invested in hundreds of sites in dozens of countries. They are not tied to a single location. They depend on the militarized imperial state to defend their global interests. Hence they probably are not willing to contest or challenge the militarists in, say Iraq, for fear that it might endanger US imperial intervention in other sites.

Fifthly, many MNC interlock across economic sectors: they invest in oil fields and refineries; banking, financing and insurance as well as extractive sectors. To the degree that MNC capital is diversified they are less dependent on a single region, sector, or source for profit. Hence destructive wars, in one or several countries, may not have as great a prejudicial effect as in the past when “Big Oil” was just ‘oil’.

Six, the agencies of the US imperial state are heavily weighted to military rather than economic activity. The international bureaucracy of the US is overwhelmingly made up of military, intelligence and counter-insurgency officials. In contrast, China, Japan, Germany and other emerging states (Brazil, Russia and India) have a large economic component in their overseas bureaucracy. The difference is significant. US MNC do not have access to economic officials and resources in the same way as China’s MNC. The Chinese overseas expansion and its MNC, is built around powerful economic support systems and agencies. US MNC have to deal with Special Forces, spooks and highly militarized ‘aid officials’. In other words the CEO’s who look for “state support” perforce have mostly ‘military’ counterparts who view the MNC as instruments of policy rather than as subjects of policy.

Seventh, the recent decade has witnessed the rise of the financial sector as the dominant recipient of State support. As a result, big banks exercise major influence on public policy. To the extent that is true, much of what is ‘oil money’ has gone over to finance and profits accrue by pillaging the Treasury. As a result, oil interests merge with the financial sector and their ‘profits’ are as much dependent on the state as on exploiting overseas sites.

Eighth, while Big Oil has vast sums of capital, its diverse locations, multiple activities and dependence on state protection (military), weaken its opposition to US wars in lucrative oil countries. As a result other powerful pro-war lobbies which have no such constraints have a free hand. For example the pro-Israel power configuration has far less ‘capital’ than any of the top ten oil companies. But it has a far greater number of lobbyists with much more influence over Congress people. Moreover, it has far more effective propaganda – media leverage- than Big Oil. Many more critics of US foreign policy, including its military and sanctions policies, are willing to criticize “Big Oil” than Zionist lobbies.

Finally the rise of domestic oil production resulting from fracking opens new sites for Big Oil to profit outside of the Middle East – even though the costs may be higher and the duration shorter. The oil industry has replaced losses in Middle East sites (due to wars) with domestic investments.

Nevertheless, there is tension and conflict between oil capital and militarism. The most recent case is between Exxon-Mobil’s plans to invest $38 billion in a joint venture in the Russian Arctic with the Russian oil grant Rosneft. Obama’s sanctions against Russia is scheduled to shut down the deal much to the dismay of the senior executives of Exxon Mobil, who have already invested $3.2 billion in an area the size of Texas.

Conclusion

The latent conflicts and overt difference between military and economic expansion may eventually find greater articulation in Washington. However, up to now, because of the global structures and orientation of the oil industry, because of their dependence on the military for ‘security’, the oil industry in particular, and the MNC in general, have sacrificed short and middle term profits for “future gains” in the hopes that the wars will end and lucrative profits will return.

All hell broke loose at a La Plata Electric Association meeting held on October 8, 2014, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Approximately 60 residents from Pagosa Springs and neighboring Durango, Colorado, gathered to discuss LPEA’s threat of an opt-out fee of $50 for its co-op members who declined the installation of AMI meters, commonly referred to as “smart meters.” The following day, October 9, 2014, a meeting was held in Durango, Colorado, attended by approximately 70 residents of both communities. Michael Dreyspring, CEO of LPEA, presided over both meetings. Very few Board members or staff were present at either meeting.

At the Pagosa meeting, Michael Dreyspring was in command for no more than two minutes and 40 seconds before the miffed residents of Pagosa Springs went volcanic and LPEA lost any semblance of control. As their pedantic power point presentation went up in flames, so did an outspoken and furious crowd.

Meeting clip #1: Justify fees?

“Where is the data justifying your opt-out fees?”Listen as typical evasion takes place. Why will they not have an open discussion?

Though the Durango meeting was slightly more subdued than the Pagosa Springs’ meeting, members there were also extremely angry and ended up walking out after about an hour of voicing their opinions because they realized that even though the purported purpose of the meeting was to gather information for LPEA staff and board members to discuss in determining a possible opt-out fee, no official recording of everyone’s comments was being made. And, as attendees at the Durango meeting attested, only cursory, sporadic notes were taken by a member of the LPEA staff. The co-op members concluded that the meeting was a sham.

Cat calls and fireworks omitted, the following issues were presented to the LPEA representatives brave enough to show up for the meetings in both towns:

  • The Energy Policy Act of 2005 in part states that utilities “shall provide each customer requesting a time-based rate with a time-based meter,” not extorting or shutting off their utilities when they refuse one.
  • There was no informed consent on the part of co-op members to allow these meters to be installed.
  • Co-op members never opted-in so why did they have to opt-out?
  • Many only realized the installation was taking place because they happened to be at home or arrived during the deployment process.
  • Some signed an opt-out form refusing the meter and LPEA installed it anyway.
  • Installers arrived in neighborhoods like a military stealth operation using personal vehicles and installing meters on members’ properties only if nobody was home.
  • If “smart meters” are the best thing since sliced bread, why did LPEA feel compelled to both sneak around and lie?
  • Members were intimidated and threatened with an exorbitant fee if they did not allow the forced installation.
  • The opt-out fee perfectly fits the criteria of the Webster’s Dictionary definition of “extortion.”
  • The opt-out fee is purely punitive without any basis in reality.
  • LPEA advertised the threatened $25-$50 opt-out fee without any support documents to justify the fee.
  • LPEA is violating the terms of the co-operative by acting autonomously, not protecting its members’ interests and placing them in danger.
  • Whether the opt-out fee is 50 cents or $50, neither are acceptable. To allow any opt-out fee to be charged concedes that LPEA has a right to penalize members for their noncompliance to a life-threatening technology and punish members for their proper exercise of rights.
  • There are many alternative options available for circumventing meter-reading fees including call-in readings, photo readings, mailed in postcard readings, etc.
  • AMI meters and pulsed radiation are a proven health threat.
  • If you Google “AMI meter dangers” you will get more than a million articles.
  • If you Google “AMI meter health dangers” you will get 325,000 hits.
  • There are 9500 peer-reviewed articles stating the results of studies done by credentialed MDs, PhDs, scientists and environmental experts exposing the health dangers that pulsed, electro-magnetic frequency (EMF) “smart meters” emit. [Ed. note: see http://justproveit.net/content/studies for several thousand studies on EMF and health effects.]
  • Pulsed radiation meters expose co-op members to life threatening and debilitating diseases including cancer, neurological illnesses, permanent genetic alterations, and microwave pulse induced heart attacks caused by interference with implanted medical devices.
  • According to a PG&E court-ordered report, AMI meters emit pulsed EMF waves at the rate of 10,000 to 190,000 times per day.
  • The Santa Cruz Department of Health study on the impact of AMI meters states, “New calculations suggest that continuous whole-body exposure to electro-magnetic radiation from so called ‘smart’ meters – which operate around the clock – may be between 50 and 160 times worse than that from cell phones.”
  • Health damage from EMF emissions are cumulative.
  • A power engineer with 25 years in the electric industry stated that electric grids are designed for 60 hertz cycles and that something was very wrong with meters that emit this level of pulsed radiation.
  • AMI meters are catching on fire everywhere.
    [Ed. note: see http://www.takebackyourpower.net/news/category/fires-damage]
  • AMI meters are not even UL rated.
  • Lloyd’s of London quietly removed underwriting for death or injury due to EMF exposure from insurance policies and will not cover damage to a home or personal property caused by “smart meters.”
  • “Smart meters” are a liability.
  • Lawsuits against the installation of “smart meters” are growing around the world.
  • Legal suit against LPEA was threatened at both meetings.
  • AMI meters impact all life forms, not only people. Plants, animals, birds, and insects are all adversely affected by EMF radiation and our ecosystem is being threatened.
  • Whether a person opts-out or not, they are being bathed in this radiation by surrounding meters.
  • Banks of “smart meters” such as seen on apartment buildings, trailer parks and homes for the elderly magnify the danger and these people have with no way of escaping the exposure.
  • “Smart meters” are shutting down solar inverters, which then need to be re-set manually, with potential disastrous consequences for an absent home owner.
  • There is no evidence that “smart meters” will reduce electric fees. Fees are instead systematically escalating after their installation.
  • The constitutionally guaranteed 4th amendment right to privacy is being violated by these meters that invade homes and surveil lives on a 24/7 schedule.
  • The installation of a “smart grid” is a global agenda and amounts to spying on everyone everywhere at all times.
  • “Smart meters” open co-op members to having their homes and their grid hacked or hijacked, as admitted by the FBI in 2010: “The FBI warns that insiders and individuals with only a moderate level of computer knowledge are likely able to compromise meters with low-cost tools and software readily available on the internet.”

To further compound all of these claimed infractions, a co-op member asked how LPEA board members could have moved forward with the deployment of AMI meters if they had not educated themselves? Michael Dreyspring responded that the staff and board had been “provided” with information that satisfied them. It was then pointed out that the information LPEA had been provided was from companies that manufactured or provided “smart meters” and/or groups that had a conflict of interest in the matter because they benefit monetarily from “smart meter” deployment. Independent peer-reviewed studies apparently were not explored.

Meeting clip #2: Double dipping

LPEA (like all utilities) are already paying for people to read meters – this is already factored into current customer billing.

At the Pagosa meeting of October 8, 2014, CEO Michael Dreyspring was questioned about the $20.50 base fee that LPEA charges its members each month. It was asked whether a portion of this fee covered meter-reading. Dreyspring admitted, “Yes.”

At the Durango meeting of October 9, 2014, a member questioned Dreyspring about AMR meters. (The majority, if not all members who have opted out of “smart meters”, have AMR meters.) She asked if these meters needed to be manually read. Dreyspring said that AMR meters have transmitting devices attached to them that allows usage data to be sent to LPEA via the power lines. LPEA refers to these AMR meters as “turtle meters.”

At the LPEA Board meeting of October 15, 2014, a member asked what portion of the base fee was designated for meter-reading costs? She was told, “$1.42.”

So, LPEA has charged members a monthly fee of $1.42 to read 41,000 meters at the approximate cost of $58,000 per month and almost $700,000 per year for who knows how long, even though the majority of members have meters that  don’t need to be manually read at all. When asked where all that money went, the room went silent.

LPEA is now poised to demand $50 additional per person per opt-out per month for meters that don’t need to be read manually. Of course the “opt-outs” will also be forced to pay the $1.42 base charge for not reading their meters as well.

If all of this had been known by members before the LPEA meetings in Pagosa Springs and Durango, Colorado, we can only guess what the consequences would have been. LPEA has certainly invited investigation.

Copyright. Take Back Your Power, 2014

The Kobani Riddle and the Islamic State (ISIL)

October 26th, 2014 by Pepe Escobar

The brave women of Kobani – where Syrian Kurds are desperately fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh – are about to be betrayed by the “international community”. These women warriors, apart from Caliph Ibrahim’s goons, are also fighting treacherous agendas by the US, Turkey and the administration of Iraqi Kurdistan. So what’s the real deal in Kobani?

Let’s start by talking about Rojava. The full meaning of Rojava – the three mostly Kurdish provinces of northern Syria – is conveyed in this editorial (in Turkish) published by jailed activist Kenan Kirkaya. He argues that Rojava is the home of a “revolutionary model” that no less than challenges “the hegemony of the capitalist, nation-state system” – way beyond its regional “meaning for Kurds, or for Syrians or Kurdistan.”

Kobani – an agricultural region – happens to be at the epicenter of this non-violent experiment in democracy, made possible by an arrangement early on during the Syrian tragedy between Damascus and Rojava (you don’t go for regime change against us, we leave you alone). Here, for instance, it’s argued that “even if only a single aspect of true socialism were able to survive there, millions of discontented people would be drawn to Kobani.”

In Rojava, decision-making is via popular assemblies – multicultural and multi-religious. The top three officers in each municipality are a Kurd, an Arab and an Assyrian or Armenian Christian; and at least one of these three must be a woman. Non-Kurd minorities have their own institutions and speak their own languages.

Among a myriad of women’s and youth councils, there is also an increasingly famous feminist army, the YJA Star militia (“Union of Free Women”, with the “star” symbolizing Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar).

The symbolism could not be more graphic; think of the forces of Ishtar (Mesopotamia) fighting the forces of ISIS (originally an Egyptian goddess), now transmogrified into an intolerant Caliphate. In the young 21st century, it’s the female barricades of Kobani that are in the forefront fighting fascism.

Inevitably there should be quite a few points of intersection between the International Brigades fighting fascism in Spain in 1936 and what is happening in Rojava, as stressed by one of the very few articles about it published in Western mainstream media.

If these components were not enough to drive crazy deeply intolerant Wahhabis and Takfiris (and their powerful Gulf petrodollar backers) then there’s the overall political set up.

The fight in Rojava is essentially led by the PYD, which is the Syrian branch of the Turkish PKK, the Marxist guerrillas at war against Ankara since the 1970s. Washington, Brussels and NATO – under relentless Turkish pressure – have always officially ranked both PYD and PKK as “terrorists”.

Careful examination of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s must-read book Democratic Confederalism reveals this terrorist/Stalinist equation as bogus (Ocalan has been confined to the island-prison of Imrali since 1999.)

What the PKK – and the PYD – are striving for is “libertarian municipalism”. In fact that’s exactly what Rojava has been attempting; self-governing communities applying direct democracy, using as pillars councils, popular assemblies, cooperatives managed by workers – and defended by popular militias. Thus the positioning of Rojava in the vanguard of a worldwide cooperative economics/democracy movement whose ultimate target would be to bypass the concept of a nation-state.

Not only this experiment is taking place politically across northern Syria; in military terms, it was the PKK and the PYD who actually managed to rescue those tens of thousands of Yazidis corralled by ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Mount Sinjar, and not American bombs, as the spin went. And now, as PYD co-president Asya Abdullah details, what’s needed is a “corridor” to break the encirclement of Kobani by Caliph Ibrahim’s goons.

Sultan Erdogan’s power play Ankara, meanwhile, seems intent to prolong a policy of “lots of problems with our neighbors.”

For Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, “the main cause of ISIS is the Syrian regime”. And Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu – who invented the now defunct “zero problems with our neighbors” doctrine in the first place – has repeatedly stressed Ankara will only intervene with boots on the ground in Kobani to defend the Kurds if Washington presents a “post-Assad plan”.

And then there’s that larger than life character; Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, aka Sultan Erdogan. Sultan Erdogan’s edicts are well known. Syrian Kurds should fight against Damascus under the command of that lousy fiction, the reconstituted (and to be trained, of all places, in Saudi Arabia) Free Syrian Army; they should forget about any sort of autonomy; they should meekly accept Turkey’s request for Washington to create a no-fly zone over Syria and also a “secured” border on Syrian territory. No wonder both the PYD and Washington have rejected these demands.

Sultan Erdogan has his eyes set on rebooting the peace process with the PKK; and he wants to lead it in a position of force. So far his only concession has been to allow Iraqi Kurd peshmergas to enter northern Syria to counter-balance the PYD-PKK militias, and thus prevent the strengthening of an anti-Turkish Kurdish axis.

At the same time Sultan Erdogan knows ISIS/ISIL/Daesh has already recruited up to 1,000 Turkish passport holders – and counting. His supplemental nightmare is that the toxic brew laying waste to “Syraq” will sooner rather than later mightily overspill inside Turkish borders.

Watch those barbarians at the gates Caliph Ibrahim’s goons have already telegraphed their intention to massacre and/or enslave the entire civilian population of Kobani. And yet Kobani, per se, has no strategic value for ISIS/ISIL/Daesh (that’s what US Secretary of State John Kerry himself said last week; but then, predictably, he reversed himself). This very persuasive PYD commander though is very much aware of the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh threat.

Kobani is not essential compared to Deir ez-Zor (which has an airport supplying the Syrian Arab Army) or Hasakah (which has oil fields controlled by Kurds helped by the Syrian Arab Army). Kobani boasts no airport and no oil fields.

On the other hand, the fall of Kobani would generate immensely positive extra PR for the already very slick Caliph enterprise – widening the perception of a winning army especially among new, potential, EU passport holder recruits, as well as establishing a solid base very close to the Turkish border.

Essentially, what Sultan Erdogan is doing is to fight both Damascus (long-term) and the Kurds (medium term) while actually giving a free pass (short-term) to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. And yet, further on down the road, Turkish journalist Fehim Tastekin is right; training non-existent “moderate” Syrian rebels in oh-so-democratic Saudi Arabia will only lead to the Pakistanization of Turkey. A remix – once again – of the scenario played out during the 1980s Afghan jihad.

As if this was not muddled enough, in a game changer – and reversing its “terrorist” dogma – Washington is now maintaining an entente cordiale with the PYD. And that poses an extra headache for Sultan Erdogan.

This give-and-take between Washington and the PYD is still up for grabs. Yet some facts on the ground spell it all out; more US bombing, more US air drops (including major fail air drops, where the freshly weaponized end up being The Caliph’s goons).

A key fact should not be overlooked. As soon as the PYD was more or less “recognized” by Washington, PYD head Saleh Muslim went to meet the wily Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani. That’s when the PYD promised a “power sharing” with Barzani’s peshmergas on running Rojava.

Syrian Kurds who were forced to abandon Kobani and exile themselves in Turkey, and who support the PYD, cannot return to Syria; but Iraqi Kurds can go back and forth. This dodgy deal was brokered by the KRG’s intel chief, Lahur Talabani. The KRG, crucially, gets along very well with Ankara.

That sheds further light on Erdogan’s game; he wants the peshmerga – who are fierce enemies of the PKK – to become the vanguard against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and thus undermine the PYD/PKK alliance. Once again, Turkey is pitting Kurds against Kurds.

Washington for its part is manipulating Kobani to completely legitimize – on a “humanitarian”, R2P vein – its crusade against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. It’s never enough to remember this whole thing started with a barrage of Washington spin about the bogus, ghostly Khorasan group preparing a new 9-11. Khorasan, predictably, entirely vanished from the news cycle.

In the long run, the American power play is a serious threat to the direct democracy experiment in Rojava, which Washington cannot but interpret as – God forbid! – a return of communism.

So Kobani is now a crucial pawn in a pitiless game manipulated by Washington, Ankara and Irbil. None of these actors want the direct democracy experiment in Kobani and Rojava to bloom, expand and start to be noticed all across the Global South. The women of Kobani are in mortal danger of being, if not enslaved, bitterly betrayed.

And it gets even more ominous when the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh play on Kobani is seen essentially for what it is; a diversionary tactic, a trap for the Obama administration. What The Caliph’s goons are really aiming at is Anbar province in Iraq – which they already largely control – and the crucial Baghdad belt. The barbarians are at the gates – not only Kobani’s but also Baghdad’s.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at [email protected].

It is not merely hyperbole when it is said the US created terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda or the so-called “Islamic State.” It is documented fact. The current conflict in the Middle East may appear to be a chaotic conflagration beyond the control of the United States and its many eager allies, but in reality it is the intentional, engineered creation of regional fronts in a war against Iran and its powerful arc of influence.

It is not Western policy that indirectly spurs the creation and perpetuation of terrorist organizations, but in fact, direct, intentional, unmistakable support.

This support would manifest itself in perhaps the most overt and bizarre declaration of allegiance to terrorism to date, US Army General Hugh Shelton on stage before terrorists of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) and their Wahabist counterparts fighting in Syria, hysterically pledging American material, political, and strategic backing. MEK was listed for years by the US State Department as a foreign terrorist organization, but has received funding, arms, and safe haven by the United States for almost as long.

General Hugh’s speech titled, “Making Iranian mullahs fear, the MEK, come true,” was most likely never meant to be seen or fully understood by Americans. In titled alone, it is clear that US foreign policy intends to use the tool of terrorism to exact concessions from Tehran. If the true nature of America’s support for terrorist organizations like MEK were more widely known, the current narrative driving US intervention in Iraq and Syria would crumble.

Image: MEK is just one of many terrorist organizations, that despite being listed by the US State Department as such, still receives weapons, training, cash, and political support from the US government. This is a pattern seen repeated in Libya and most recently in Syria – each case spun and excused with a myriad of lies wrapped in false, constantly shifting narratives.

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MEK Has Killed US Servicemen, Contractors, and Iranian Civilians For Decades

MEK has carried out decades of brutal terrorist attacks, assassinations, and espionage against the Iranian government and its people, as well as targeting Americans including the attempted kidnapping of US Ambassador Douglas MacArthur II, the attempted assassination of USAF Brigadier General Harold Price, the successful assassination of Lieutenant Colonel Louis Lee Hawkins, the double assassinations of Colonel Paul Shaffer and Lieutenant Colonel Jack Turner, and the successful ambush and killing of American Rockwell International employees William Cottrell, Donald Smith, and Robert Krongard.

Admissions to the deaths of the Rockwell International employees can be found within a report written by former US State Department and Department of Defense official Lincoln Bloomfield Jr. on behalf of the lobbying firm Akin Gump in an attempt to dismiss concerns over MEK’s violent past and how it connects to its current campaign of armed terror – a testament to the depths of depravity from which Washington and London lobbyists operate.

To this day MEK terrorists have been carrying out attacks inside of Iran killing political opponents, attacking civilian targets, as well as carrying out the US-Israeli program of targeting and assassinating Iranian scientists. MEK terrorists are also suspected of handling patsies in recent false flag operations carried out in India, Georgia, and Thailand, which have been ham-handedly blamed on the Iranian government by the United States and Israel.

MEK is described by Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Ray Takeyh as a “cult-like organization” with “totalitarian tendencies.” While Takeyh fails to expand on what he meant by “cult-like” and “totalitarian,” an interview with US State Department-run Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty reported that a MEK Camp Ashraf escapee claimed the terrorist organization bans marriage, using radios, the Internet, and holds many members against their will with the threat of death if ever they are caught attempting to escape.

US Has Been Eagerly Supporting MEK Terrorists For Years

Besides providing MEK terrorists with now two former US military bases in Iraq as safe havens, the US has conspired to arm, fund, and back MEK for years in a proxy war against Iran.

Covert support for the US-listed terrorist group Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK) has been ongoing since at least 2008 under the Bush administration, when Seymour Hersh’s 2008 New Yorker article “Preparing the Battlefield,” reported that not only had MEK been considered for their role as a possible proxy, but that the US had already begun arming and financing them to wage war inside Iran:

The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts—and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.

Image: MEK terrorists have been given safe haven by the US at Camp Ashraf
and then former US military base, Camp Liberty. 

Seymore Hersh in an NPR interview, also claims that select MEK members have already received training in the US.

More recently, the British Daily Mail published a stunning admission by “US officials” that Israel is currently funding, training, arming, and working directly with MEK. The Daily Mail article states:

U.S. officials confirmed today that Israel has been funding and training Iranian dissidents to assassinate nuclear scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear program. Washington insiders confirmed there is a close relationship between Mossad and MEK.

In 2009, an extensive conspiracy was formulated within US policy think-tank Brookings Institution’s 2009 “Which Path to Persia?” report, proposing to fully arm, train, and back MEK as it waged a campaign of armed terror against the Iranian people. In their report, they openly conspire to use what is an admitted terrorist organization as a “US proxy” (emphasis added):

“Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.

In contrast, the group’s champions contend that the movement’s long-standing opposition to the Iranian regime and record of successful attacks on and intelligence-gathering operations against the regime make it worthy of U.S. support. They also argue that the group is no longer anti-American and question the merit of earlier accusations. Raymond Tanter, one of the group’s supporters in the United States, contends that the MEK and the NCRI are allies for regime change in Tehran and also act as a useful proxy for gathering intelligence. The MEK’s greatest intelligence coup was the provision of intelligence in 2002 that led to the discovery of a secret site in Iran for enriching uranium.

Despite its defenders’ claims, the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take America hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread.

Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK’s advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership’s main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.”

Besides US Army General Hugh Shelton, other prominent US politicians to literally stand before crowds of baying MEK terrorists and their supporters include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean, Tom Ridge, John Lewis, Ed Rendell, former ambassador John Bolton, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, retired General Wesley Clark, Lee Hamilton, former US Marine Corps Commandant General James Jones, and Alan Dershowitz. US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi would also stand in front of MEK terrorists to deliver to them an Iranian New Year “greeting.”

Blind Lust for Global Hegemony is Leading America Over a Cliff 

What it says about American foreign policy, to trick US servicemen and women into dying in far off lands to “fight terrorism” when US politicians in the highest positions of power openly pledge support to terrorism – using it as a battering ram against its enemies abroad, and failing to topple them by proxy, using their own terrorist hordes as a pretext for direct military intervention to do so – is that such policy is underpinned by nothing more than blind lust for power, wealth, and influence in senseless pursuit of global hegemony. There is no guiding principles of peace, stability, democracy, freedom, or any confining principles of humanity that prohibit US foreign policy from exercising the most abhorrent practices in order to achieve its goals.

Image: In the front row of US Army General Hugh Shelton’s hysterical
pledge of support for MEK terrorists in their war of terror on Iran, sits
members of the US-backed terrorists currently operating in Syria, fighting
alongside al Nusra and the “Islamic State” itself. 

 

For America and the Western aligned nations and interests caught in its orbit, there is no future. Chasing hegemony for the sake of hegemony alone leaves no room for actual progress. When anything and everything obstructing the path to hegemony is seen as an “enemy” to be destroyed by any means necessary, that includes setting aside resources and attention to solving some of the most pressing issues of our time – health care, infrastructure, education, better jobs, peace, and prosperity. All of these are seen as obstacles toward hegemony, and the very same interests standing before MEK terrorists pledging America’s resources to their campaign of terrorism against Iran, are the same interests calling for and implementing austerity upon the American people to continuously fuel its foreign adventures.

Failure to identify these interests blindly chasing hegemony at the cost of global peace and prosperity leads not only America over a cliff into a ravine of madness, but the entire world as well. That a US general can stand before terrorists even as the US bombs two nations in the name of fighting terrorism, is but a glimpse into this madness.

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

Dazzling and supremely erudite, Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner denounced as terrorism the economic policies that have been strangling the developing world during the past century, and are continuing these criminal actions today, the legacy of Milton Friedman’s Chicago Boys’ gangster economic policies.  These policies, implemented by the infliction of “shock therapy,”  institutionalizing torture, murder and disappearances of individuals, groups, and often heads of state who defy these barbaric economic models, are policies which are more accurately described as global economic theft, sanctioned by the theory that “might makes right.”  

The IMF’s “conditionalities” were described, in sanitized language, as “structural adjustment programs,” demanding the obliteration of free national education and health care programs, causing the destitution of majorities of citizens in the developing countries, and resulting in the gross indebtedness of collaborating governments to parasitic interests of multinational corporations, banks, hedge funds, vulture funds and their ilk.  The Milton Friedman Chicago Boys policies were described by one of  Friedman’s most brilliant students, the German born economist Andre Gunder Frank, as “economic genocide.”

President Kirchner described her late husband, President Nestor Kirchner’s success in rebuilding Argentina, despite the total bankruptcy into which decades of the Chicago Boys policies had plunged a devastated Argentina.  She described the earlier chaotic situation, in which Argentina had five presidents in one week during 2001, a disaster rivaled, perhaps, only by Bolivia, which, similarly hostage of the Chicago Boys, had three revolutions in one afternoon, finally resulting Bolivia’s progressive presidency of Juan Jose Torres in 1970.  President Torres was overthrown, ten months later, by fascist General Hugo Banzer, with the blessing of Washington, and was then murdered in Argentina in 1975.

The earlier history of Argentina described by President Kirchner, a history common to almost all Latin America Southern Cone governments hostage to the Chicago Boys’ policy of economic genocide, is succinctly summed up by Professor John Dinges in his work “The Condor Years,” (Pages 154-155).

[By 1975],  “Inside the U.S. embassy Legal Attache Robert Scherrer quickly developed information that the Torres murder was part of the new security forces cooperation among the military governments…the bloody reality of mounting repression and the assassination of three prominent figures – the Uruguayan Senators Michelini, Gutierrez and Bolivian President Torres who had sought protection in Argentina… .Slowly, among those reading the most secret intelligence traffic about Latin America – in the embassies, in the CIA, in the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI and the State Department there was an awakening to a flow of hard evidence that was soon to become a flood:  that by 1975 the government of Argentina was committing human rights violations on a massive scale never before seen in Latin America, and the six military governments of the Southern Cone were cooperating to assassinate one another’s opponents.”

This was the Argentina in which Presidents Cristina and Nestor Kirchner spent their earliest years.  This was the environment in which the Chicago Boys’ murderous economic policies were forced down the throats of the majority of Argentina’s citizens, utilizing torture, murder and “disappearances” to facilitate the “privatization” of the country’s resources in the organized theft of the nation’s patrimony.  This theft was engineered by one of history’s most deadly mobs of criminals, the Chicago Boys, trained by the sociopath Milton Friedman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in a decision grossly discrediting the legitimacy of the Nobel Committee.

President Kirchner described the economic and social recovery steered by her husband, President Nestor Kirchner, a program of social and economic inclusiveness which made education widely available to Argentina’s majority, which decreased unemployment while establishing social safety nets, a program in which Argentina’s economy began to thrive, as Nestor Kirchner weaned Argentina’s economy from the IMF ‘debt trap’ (the title of the superb book by economist Cheryl Payer), and made arrangements to pay off the astronomical debts amassed during the previous period of economic domination by the Chicago Boys, (debts for which Nestor Kirchner’s government was in no way responsible). President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner spoke with legitimate pride of Argentina’s success in reducing widespread poverty, despite the financial disaster engineered by the thugs of the international financial system who are currently still attempting to hold Argentina hostage.

President Kirchner voiced the concerns of the greater part of the developing world, which voted on September 9, 2014, for the United Nations General Assembly resolution:  “Toward the Establishment of a Multilateral Legal Framework for Sovereign Debt Restructuring Process.”  Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman (whose father, the great journalist and human rights advocate, Jacobo Timerman, had been imprisoned and tortured for two years in Argentina during that same “dirty war” of 1976 described earlier) introduced that resolution, “establishing an ethical political and legal pathway to end unbridled speculation.”  The resolution was adopted, with 124 nations supporting it, eleven nations opposing it, and forty one abstentions…The scandalous profits made by parasitic “vulture funds” are funneled into campaign and lobbying to prevent change in the current viciously unjust economic architecture.  The Cuban delegate stated the appalling fact that “Developing countries had paid many times the amounts originally received as loans and that devoured resources essential for development.”  The distinguished American economist Joseph Stiglitz  has repeatedly emphasized precisely this same fact.

President Kirchner denounced U.S. Federal Judge Thomas Griesa, whose currently strangling injunctions, prohibiting Argentina’s repayment of 92.4 percent of the debt until the “vulture funds” are paid in full,  would force the return of Argentina’s economy to destitution, totally destroying the new economic and social programs which are empowering Argentina’s majority, and would quickly restore the earlier squalor of the economically colonized Argentina into which Milton Friedman’s thugs and the IMF had forced Argentina to subsist for decades of Kirchner’s earlier life.

In her masterpiece, “The Shock Doctrine,” exposing the criminal thuggery of Friedman’s Chicago Boys, Naomi Klein states:

“In the early nineties, the Argentine state sold off the riches of the country so rapidly and so completely that the project far surpassed what had taken place in Chile a decade earlier.  By 1994, 90 percent of all state enterprises had been sold to private companies, including Citibank, Bank Boston, France’s Suez and Vivendi, Spain’s Repsol and Telefonica.  Before making the sales, (former President) Menem and (former Finance Minister) Cavallo had generously performed a valuable service for the new owners:  they had fired roughly 700,000 of their workers, according to Cavallo’s own estimates; some put the number much higher.  The oil company alone lost 27,000 workers during the Menem years, An admirer of Jeffrey Sachs, Cavallo called this process “shock Therapy.”  Menem had an even more brutal phrase for it: in a country still traumatized by mass torture, he called it “major surgery without anesthetic.”*

“* In January 2006, long after Cavallo and Menem were out of office, Argentines received some surprising news.  It turned out that the Cavallo Plan wasn’t Cavallo’s at all, nor was it the IMF’s:  Argentina’s entire early-nineties shock therapy program was written in secret by JP Morgan and Citibank, two of Argentina’s largest private creditors.  In the course of a lawsuit against the Argentine government, the noted historian Alejandro Olmos Gaona uncovered a jaw-dropping 1,400 page document written by the two U.S. banks for Cavallo in which “the policies carried out by the government from ’92 on are drawn up…the privatization of utilities, the labour law reform, the privatization of the pension system.  It is all laid out with great attention to detail

….Everyone believes that the economic plan pursued since 1992 was Domingo Cavallos’s creation, but that’s not the way it is.”  In the long term, Cavallo’s program in its entirety would prove disastrous for Argentina.

…So many jobs were lost that well over half the country would eventually be pushed below the poverty line.”

As President Fernandez Kirchner charges, today it is obvious that U.S. Federal Judge Griesa’s ruling is an attempt to destabilize Argentina, using a new imperialist tactic devised by the current gangsters of international capitalism who thrive by devouring the lives and patrimony of the majority of citizens of the developing world, and, indeed, impose these tactics upon the “99%” percent of citizens within the countries of the developed world.

President Fernandez Kirchner explicitly denounced as economic terrorists the “vulture funds” which, supported by the United States’ judicial system, are attempting to destabilize and ultimately overthrow her government.  She stated:  “Not only those who place bombs are terrorists, but also those who destabilize the economy of countries, and cause hunger, misery and poverty from the sin of speculation.”

Judge Griesa is attempting, in fact, to fine Argentina $50,000 per day for not complying with his ruling, and declaring Argentina in contempt of court.”  In response to his brutal arrogance, President Kirchner cited a quote from former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who described such “creditors” as immoral, preventing countries from tackling problems of education, health and poverty.

Argentina’s president spoke fiercely of such engineered poverty and destitution as creating fertile breeding ground for terrorist leaders recruiting among those who have lost all hope of lives affording them options for fulfillment and dignity, and her voice echoed, 35 years later, the speech delivered on August 27, 1980 at the United Nations Eleventh Special Session on Economic Development:  “Toward a New International Economic Order”:  Joaquim Chissano, then Foreign Minister of Mozambique addressed the General Assembly, decades ago, and stated:

“The existing economic order is profoundly unjust.  It runs counter to the basic interests of the developing countries…we see the perpetuation of underdevelopment in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  The peoples of those continents are forced to face hunger, starvation, poverty, nakedness, disease and illiteracy increasingly.  We denounce any kind of economic prosperity or independence for part of mankind built on the dependence, domination and exploitation of the rest of mankind…the developing countries have warned the world about the need to take measures to eliminate the main obstacles to emancipation and progress of the peoples struggling for a proper standard of living which would meet the basic needs of life.

…During the colonial period we were branded as rebels and insurgents when we demanded the restitution of our status as human beings.  When we demanded independence we tried to talk peaceably with our masters, but no one would listen.  The dialogue of force was imposed upon us.  We took up arms.  Much blood was spilt.  But only in that way were we able to win.”

Twenty-nine years later, at the 64 Session of the United Nations General Assembly, on September 24, 2008, Stjepan Mesic, President of the Republic of Croatia, and the last President of Yugoslavia stated:

 “Our world is finally still dominated by an economic model which is self-evidently exhausted and has now reached a stage where it is itself generating crises, causing hardship to thousands and hundreds of thousands of people.  If one attempts to save this already obsolete model at any cost, if one stubbornly defends a system based on greed and devoid of any social note worthy of mention, the result can be only one:  social unrest harboring the potential to erupt into social insurgence on a global scale.”

Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, President of Argentina today raises her powerful voice in, once again, the noble call for economic and social justice.  Those who are guilty of perpetuating the injustices she and so many other world leaders abhor walked out of the hall as she spoke.  And those are the ones who may ultimately pay the fatal price for ignoring her warning.

Russia, the world’s second-largest producer of natural gas, has launched its first auction of natural gas on Friday at the St. Petersburg International Mercantile Exchange (SPIMEX). It will be Europe’s largest natural gas trading post.

The project is intended to create a more competitive market for natural gas prices, which at present are more-or-less tied to oil. Now, independent producers will have access to a broader range of buyers.

The exchange will facilitate up to 35 billion cubic meters of gas annually, with Gazprom, Russia’s largest producer, maintaining the right to sell a half of that, and independent producers the remaining 17.5 billion cubic meters.

During the first trading session, Gazprom and eight independent gas producers will sell 882.6 million cubic meters of gas for November volumes. The gas will be delivered to two compressing stations – Nadym (552.6 million cubic meters) and Vyngapurovskoye (270 million cubic meters), which are connected to Russia’s gas transportation system (GTS). The supplies are not eligible for re-sale.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev endorsed the launch, saying “Today, SPIMEX begins its first natural gas trading session, and I sincerely congratulate them.”

The head of the exchange, Aleksey Rybnikov, opened trading which will run until 3pm local time (11:00 GMT). Friday’s auction launched bidding for delivery in the next month, but in the future the exchange plans to evolve into weekly and daily trading.

“Our mission was to create the conditions to ensure these auctions were executed. At the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange, we plan to start organized gas trading. This is a fairly lengthy process. Before, there were preliminary algorithms associated with trading platforms that Gazprom put together. Our task now is that these are acceptable to all,” Deputy Energy Minister Kirill Molodtsov said Thursday.

SPIMEX is the largest commodity exchange in Russia.

Igor Sechin, CEO of the world’s largest listed oil company, was appointed chairman of its board of directors in May.

SPIMEX was first registered in May 2008, receiving its official license to trade the following month. In September 2008, the exchange registered its first trades in diesel and jet fuel. It now offers spot and derivatives contracts, and covers a wide variety of petroleum products.

Histories of Illusion: Another Asian Century Beckons

October 25th, 2014 by Binoy Kampmark

It is an old debate on fictions. St. Augustine, in his lengthy and at times revealing scribbles, proposed that humans were placed on this earth for a purpose. Disappointing it must be to then discover that humans have no purpose at all, the sort of accidental matter that coexist with Mother Nature’s musical furniture. They simply are.  This brute simplicity is not something that measures for the historians who see value in movement and process, the classic error in wishing to draw moisture out of sand, and sweetness out of salt.

Nonetheless, it gives soothsayers, policy makers and international relations commentators a lot of material to work with. The international system has magical ciphers that can be picked and read. There are signs. The next century must belong to some country, as if ownership is something that can be pinched in futuristic terms.

The latest talk show babble doing the heated rounds is the idea that, with a strange conjunction of newly elected leaders in the Asia Pacific, that we are facing yet another “Asian Century”.  This, it might be said, is a century that has been in the wings for sometime, gathering dust. The American century (more of that later) was stripping, fighting, and bellowing for much of the last century, and so it comes down to the question as to who else was willing to stride into view. The powers of the Asian region are certainly interested, but their resumes were shortened by an assortment of financial crisis and political squabbles.

In 2012, the Australian Government, succumbing to slogan and supposition, decided what the country would be doing in Australia in the Asian Century.[1]  The Prime Minister then, Julia Gillard, decided to read the tarot cards.  “Predicting the future is fraught with risk, but the greater risk is in failing to plan for our destiny.  As a nation, we face a choice: to drift into our future or to actively shape it.”

The White paper is revealing, showing Australia to be a keen man servant for Asian needs.  (It is worth nothing here the usual ignorance that accompanies such announcements: what is “Asia” in this?)  The point, however, is assumed: the Asian century is upon us, even if it has no form or tangible means of being grasped.  “In this century, the region in which we live will become home to most of the world’s middle class.  Our region will be the world’s largest producer of goods and services and the largest consumer of them.”

There have been three charging forces who have been selected as significant in this regard.

They are the starlets on the political scene – the two, at least functional democracies, India and Indonesia, and then the People’s Republic of China, distinctly not democratic but very keen in buying into the fashion walk of political talk. That these should all be lumped together in a conversation about a “century” should puzzle all.

The three certainly have promising leaders, though a leader’s promise remains a deep frozen contingency till something appears, or at the very least thaws, on the record.  President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, for all his regional experience, remains grinningly virginal; India’s Narendra Modi is still doing the rounds convincing people that he will not metamorphose into a Hindu nationalist fiend rounding up Muslims; and China’s Xi Jinping is busying himself with the fad of reform in Beijing while nodding vigorously to the tradition of Deng Xiaoping.

President Xi has certainly made sounds along the line of building bridges with India for “an Asian century of prosperity”.  Eyes are focused keenly on a declining West – an ailing European Union, a United States that is running out of puff.  But what tends to rupture the prospects of ordered collaboration lies in those traditional power disagreements: strong leaders do not necessarily imply wise heads.  Territorial disputes remain a flash point, with the only stimulant drawing all together trade.  (Tediously, we have Modinomics, Abenomics, and, wait for it to come, Jokonomics.)

Such optimism for centuries has precedents. Henry R. Luce of Time magazine spoke famously of The American Century, the sort of holy water that was bound to stick in the corridors of power.  He was writing in February 1941, some months before the first Japanese bombs began falling on Pearl Harbour.  The non-interventionists were still holding court over imminent US involvement in the Second World War.  “Consider the 20th Century,” he seemed to thunder.  “It is not only in the sense that we happen to live in it but ours also because it is America’s first century as a dominant power in the world.”[2]  Hence, the idea that time is a form of historical real estate you can pinch.

The African hopefuls, flush from post-colonial release, were such individuals as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah.  They inspired a sense that another era beckoned on the continent.  The African literature set was mandatory reading for any socialist, champagne or otherwise, for several years.  Then the project soured, and the champagne flattened.  The corpses, the ruined states, the emptied treasuries, and the torture chambers all somehow took away from the glossy optimism.  Colonial powers were brutal, but leaders educated in the manners of the colonists simply knew better. Such “decades” or “centuries” suggest far more problems than solutions. It excites the brutes.

Last year, in another act of re-invention, there were a spate of articles speculating about African growth, and whether there would be an “African century” in due course.[3] Oliver August, writing for The Economist, could even claim that he travelled 15,800 miles over Africa’s roads without once being solicited for a bribe.  But even such speculation had to come with disabusing notions of uneven growth, singular characteristics between the powers, and various regimes.  For Todd Moss, head of the Emerging Africa Project at the Centre for Global Development, Africa might be “big and important and historically different from the past”, but “the dominant trend is divergence among countries” (Foreign Policy, Mar 29, 2013).  They, it seems, will have to wait.

Certainly, the entire business of finding centuries that have yet to happen takes medieval mysticism and eschatology to another level.  Instead of having European proselytisers leading us on a child crusade, we have a deodorized public relations expert loving pie charts and graphic projections, drinking too much coffee at in a think-tank office with dubious funding links.  “The next century will have…” More pie charts, more hopeful figures that will never eventuate.  Companies, excited, up stakes and rush with capital and bank assets to a region that will, in time, become the next scented wonder of the financial world.

The failing soothsayers tend to eventually fall over, replaced by another bunch of tea leaf readers.  At the heart of such predictions is a terrible, and in some cases disturbing desire to streamline and find the catch-all idea: that economic growth can be measured like a sporting league table. Those economists have held sway for too long.  The same goes for the international relations non-experts, who presume, without cause, that difference does not produce conflict.

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

Imagine a British Prime Minister who was a Russophile, not a Russophobe, and defied US pressure to send UK troops to war. A British Prime Minister who worked for better relations with the East, visited Moscow, and was on good terms with Kremlin leaders.

Well, it might sound unlikely today, but forty years ago we had such a Prime Minister. In October 1974, Harold Wilson was puffing away merrily on his pipe celebrating his fourth election victory out of five.

Looking back at the Wilson era is instructive as it shows us how much British politics has changed for the worse since the 1970s.

Harold Wilson was a mainstream Labour Party politician of his time yet anyone espousing the sensible pro-mixed economy policies he put forward in the 1960s and 70s today would be denounced as a“Stalinist.” Ironically, at the time, the ultra-left accused Wilson- a man who extended nationalization and whose government increased the top rate of income tax to 83%- of being too right-wing!

On foreign policy too, Wilson’s diplomatic, non-hawkish approach would be denounced as being akin to“appeasement”, and he’d be compared to Neville Chamberlain. Wilson always tried to understand the Russian perspective: today anyone expressing even the slightest support/defense for the Russian position on Ukraine for instance is routinely labeled a “Putin apologist” or “Kremlin stooge”, etc by neocon/faux left gatekeepers who hate Russia and its leader with an intensity that is bordering on the pathological. In Britain, as in America, over the last thirty odd years, the neocon lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, politics in Britain was in a far healthier state than it is today, as the success of Harold Wilson shows. A wider range of views were allowed to be expressed openly in public life, and our democracy was all the better for it.

Unlike today, there was genuine freedom of speech. Obnoxious “witch-finders” weren’t hounding pundits and commentators who had the “wrong” views on foreign policy 24/7: it was an era when the reports of the great anti-war journalist John Pilger appeared on the front pages of our national newspapers.

Wilson was not the only leading politician of this period to be a Russophile. As I noted in an earlier OpEdge piece there were politicians who were sympathetic to the Moscow perspective from across the spectrum. You might have expected socialist politicians to be well-disposed towards a country called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but the flag-bearer of the true blue Conservative right, Enoch Powell, was a Russophile too. Powell became a supporter of unilateral nuclear disarmament and warned that it was US imperialism, not Russia, which posed the greatest threat to the peace of the world. Today’s Conservatives by contrast, have, by and large, become lackeys for that same US imperialism- as have leading Labour Party and Liberal Democrat figures.

Harold Wilson first went to Moscow to try and develop UK/Soviet trade when he was a minister in Clement Attlee’s Labour government which had come to power in 1945. Although no communist, he saw, correctly, the great benefits to Britain of good trade links with the Soviet Union and with other countries in the communist bloc. “The healthy development of trade between Eastern and Western Europe is an essential part of the program for European recovery. Politics do not enter into it,” Wilson said. What a contrast to our Russophobic leaders today who are enthusiastically imposing sanctions on Russia which are clearly not in Britain’s best economic interests.

Wilson, when in opposition, continued to make the case for greater east-west trade and even became a consultant to companies who were doing business in the Soviet Union.

When he became Prime Minister in 1964, and again in 1974, he consistently pursued policies of détente- and “peaceful coexistence” with the Soviet Union, as well as resisting US pressure to send British troops to the Vietnam War.

His biographer Philip Ziegler records that Wilson was “ecstatic” over the warm welcome he received on one visit to Moscow in 1975. Wilson wrote: “They laid themselves out in an unparalleled way by all the standard tests.” Soviet Prime Minister Aleksey Kosygin said that the meeting with Wilson was “truly historic and…..a major factor in the history of Anglo-Soviet relations.”

That year, 1975, saw the Helsinki Accords, which marked the high point of the era of détente. In this period in Britain, the hawks who wanted to wreck détente were treated with the contempt they deserved.

This was reflected not just in British politics, where hawks were marginalized figures, but in popular culture too.

The most popular British comedy double act of the Wilson era was Morecambe and Wise. In their 1965 film The Intelligence Men “Eric and Ernie” help military intelligence foil a plot by a sinister group called“Schlecht” whose aim is to sabotage a forthcoming visit to Britain by a Russian trade delegation. There’s a plot to assassinate the lead ballerina in Swan Lake which our heroes manage to thwart.

It’s interesting that in 1965, the baddies were an international gang of criminals trying to wreck British-Russian relations. Today, it’s members of our governing circles who are doing that.

The marginalized Russophobe fanatics of yesteryear, who wanted to provoke a disastrous confrontation with the Soviet Union, are now in positions of power and influence. They’re in government and they’re writing newspaper columns. And it’s those sensible voices who want friendly relations, and a genuinely constructive partnership with Russia as Harold Wilson did, who are marginalized.

Woe betides anyone who tries to set up a “Friends of Russia” group in Parliament. The Conservative Friends of Russia group was subject to a nasty campaign of attacks by neocons and the faux-left and was eventually disbanded. We can have Parliamentary Friends of Israel, but not it seems “Friends of Russia.” Harold Wilson, who was both a Zionist and a Russophile, would be turning in his grave.

But although the agents of “Schlecht” have taken over, there are good reasons for believing that their days are numbered.

For a start, Russophobia, as I highlighted here, has no widespread support among the British public, despite the relentless anti-Russian, anti-Putin propaganda.

People remember how President Putin and Russia opposed plans for war on a secular government in Syria last summer, and realize that if the neocon warmongers had got their way and President Assad been forcibly toppled, ISIS would probably now be in control of the entire country. The campaign of lies and misinformation designed to get people to believe that there has been a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine has also backfired, with much of the “official narrative” unraveling. In any case, there is little, or no, public appetite for a war to be fought over Ukraine, as much as that might please the Russophobic neocon fanatics who can’t seem to get enough of bloodshed- even after Iraq and Libya.

Economic factors too need to be taken into consideration. As Liam Hannigan points out in his new Spectator article sanctions on Russia have hit Western European economies hard. Not only that, there’s the looming financial collapse of Ukraine to take into account too.

“Kiev is in a deep financial hole and fast heading towards financial meltdown. Unless an extremely large bailout is delivered soon, there will be a default, sending shockwaves through the global economy. That’s a risk nobody wants to take – not least in Washington, London or Berlin,” Halligan writes. In July, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned that sanctions on Russia would hit the UK economy, saying “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

Inevitably, British businesses which are losing out due to the sanctions, will be trying, with justification, to lobby the government to change course, and the neocon Russophobes who want to extend sanctions will find they have some powerful enemies.

Also, there’s been the success of politicians and parties who have dared to take a different line on Russia, which we saw again in this year’s European elections.

Certainly moving away from the phony elite consensus on Russia and Ukraine hasn’t done Nigel Farage and his UKIP party’s electoral fortunes much harm, nor has it dented the popularity of Respect Leader George Galloway, who now has a staggering 225,000 followers on Twitter.

It’s clear that Russophobia is a complete dead end for Britain. While some obsessed media commentators may want hostilities to continue, thankfully fewer and fewer people are reading their “Why Putin is the New Hitler”/”Russia poses a threat to the world” columns and leader articles. We don’t have to read their tripe any more as we have the internet, and other sources of news and comment.

Harold Wilson showed that British Prime Ministers don’t have to follow Russophobia. If Britain didn’t have a trade war with the Soviet Union in the middle of the old “Cold War,” then why do we have sanctions on Russia today? The reason for that is that our politics have been hijacked by a group of people who are following an anti-Russian agenda that’s been set in Washington and which is not in Britain’s national interest.

It’s time for a new, genuine reset in British/Russian relations and for the Russophobic hawks to once again be treated as the fanatics and extremists they always were.

Let’s get back to the 60s and 70s, the era which Harold Wilson dominated. It’s not only the music which was much better then, but the foreign policy too.

“Frankly, we are so far off the economic rails, the locomotive is stuck in a swamp and the trailing cars are piling up around it.” Anonymous, Comments line, Naked Capitalism

Since the end of the recession in 2009, investors have borrowed a record amount of money to finance their stock acquisitions. According to the Financial Times, margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) peaked in February, 2014 at $466 billion and has only recently dipped slightly lower. That’s $85 billion more than 2007 at the peak of the bubble. (Below: Margin debt tends to trace the trajectory of the markets fairly closely, although it’s a poor indicator of a market “top”.)

NYSE-margin-debt-SPX-since-1995

NYSE Margin Debt drifts higher in August, ETF Daily News

When stocks start see-sawing like they did last week, it’s usually a sign that over-extended investors are dumping their stocks to meet margin calls. The same thing happened in the run-up to the Crash of 1929. Stocks dropped sharply in late October which forced deeply-indebted investors to unload their holdings at firesale prices. The falling prices triggered a panic that sent stocks into freefall wiping out billions of dollars, crashing the markets, and paving the way for the Great Depression. Here’s a brief summary of what happened:

“On September 3, the market dropped sharply only to rise and then drop again. It was like tremors before a big earthquake but nobody heeded the warning. The market had sagged temporarily before, but it always came back stronger. The market dipped sharply again on October 4 (and) October 21 saw an avalanche of selling as many tried to salvage something from their loss. On October 24 — Black Thursday — the panic took on a life of its own as selling orders overwhelmed the Exchange’s ability to keep up with the transactions…

Wall Street financiers tried to inspire confidence by buying as many shares as they could. It worked — temporarily. (But) on Monday the panic started again, and then came Black Tuesday — October 29. The panic on the Exchange floor changed to bedlam. According to one observer, “They hollered and screamed, they clawed at one another’s collars. It was like a bunch of crazy men. Every once in a while … you’d see some poor devil collapse and fall to the floor.” This was the Crash, although few could see it at the time… Thirty billion dollars had been lost — more than twice the national debt. The nation reeled, and slipped into the depths of the Great Depression. ” (The Wall Street Crash, 1929, Eyewitness to History)

Unsurprisingly, the banks were at the center of that fiasco too, as was their principle agent, the Federal Reserve. In fact, the International Monetary Fund just issued a scathing rebuke of the Fed’s policies saying that zero rates, which have been in effect for over 5 years, have put the financial system at risk again. Here’s more on the IMF report from the Guardian:

“Accommodative policies aimed at supporting the recovery and promoting economic risk taking have facilitated greater financial risk taking,” the IMF said. As evidence it pointed to rising asset prices, smaller premiums on riskier investments and the lack of volatility in financial markets…”

The IMF said there was a trade-off between the upside economic benefits of low interest rates and the money creation process known as quantitative easing and the downside financial stability risks… “market and liquidity risks have increased to levels that could compromise financial stability if left unaddressed.” (IMF warns period of ultra-low interest rates poses fresh financial crisis threat, Guardian)

In other words, fixing the price of money at zero for years-on-end, increases financial instability while doing nothing for the real economy. The IMF is basically admitting that the Fed has created the conditions for another meltdown.

And the excessive risk taking is not limited to margin debt either. It’s visible in financial assets across the board. Take stock buybacks, for example. Buybacks, which add nothing to a company’s productivity or real value, merely juice stock prices so shareholders and executives can cream bigger profits for themselves. What most people don’t know about buybacks is that the fatcat corporate bosses are not recycling profits into share purchases, but taking advantage of the low rates to load on more debt. Check out this eyepopping chart at Zero Hedge which shows the lethal symmetry between corporate borrowing and stock buybacks:

unnamed

(The Buyback Party Is Indeed Over: Stock Repurchases Tumble In The Second Quarter, Zero Hedge)

Why is this happening?

It’s happening because the Obama administration reduced the budget deficits thereby choking off the fiscal stimulus the economy needs to grow. That bit of belt-tightening weakened overall demand forcing corporations to look for other ways to boost profits. What many CEOs figured out was that they could increase earnings by cutting costs and shedding workers while, simultaneously, goosing stock prices by taking advantage of the low interest rates and adding more debt. This is the strategy that energized the stock buyback craze, the revenue-shrinking, worker-trimming, industry-gutting plan to enrich the few at the expense of the company, its employees and its future. Check this out from the WSJ:

“Preliminary data showed stock buybacks reached $116.2 billion in the second quarter … down 27% from $159.3 billion recorded for the first quarter of this year, the second highest on record.

For the 12 months ended June, companies raised their stock repurchases to $533 billion, an increase of nearly 27% from a year earlier. Meanwhile, combined buyback and dividend expenditures for the period reached a record of $865.9 billion, with buybacks representing 61.6% of the total.” (Companies reduced stock buybacks in 2nd quarter, Wall Street Journal)

So you want to know why stocks keep soaring higher on so-so economic data?

Buybacks, that’s why. Here’s a clip from an earlier article in the WSJ that underscores the magnitude of the flimflam:

“Last year, the corporations in the Russell 3000, a broad U.S. stock index, repurchased $567.6 billion worth of their own shares—a 21% increase over 2012, calculates Rob Leiphart, an analyst at Birinyi Associates, a research firm in Westport, Conn. That brings total buybacks since the beginning of 2005 to $4.21 trillion—or nearly one-fifth of the total value of all U.S. stocks today.” (Will Stock Buybacks Bite Back?, Wall Street Journal)

If buybacks represent 20 percent of the total value of stocks today, then what’s going to happen when conditions change, that is, when QE ends and rates rise?

Stocks are going to tumble, right?

Right. And if you want to see how destructive this buyback chicanery really is, just check out the details on IBM’s recent earnings debacle. Here’s the story from the New York Times:

“In the first six months of this year, the company spent more than $12 billion … on its own shares … But all these “shareholder friendly” maneuvers have been masking an ugly truth: IBM’s success in recent years has been tied more to financial engineering than actual performance.

That became readily apparent Monday morning when the company announced its earnings, missing analysts’ expectations by a wide margin. The stock fell more than 7 percent to $169.10 by the end of the day, below the average price Mr. Buffett paid since he started buying the stock in 2011.

The company’s revenue hasn’t grown in years. Indeed, IBM’s revenue is about the same as it was in 2008.

But all along, IBM has been buying up its own shares as if they were a hot item. Since 2000, IBM spent some $108 billion on its own shares, according to its most recent annual report. It also paid out $30 billion in dividends. To help finance this share-buying spree, IBM loaded up on debt.

While the company spent $138 billion on its shares and dividend payments, it spent just $59 billion on its own business through capital expenditures and $32 billion on acquisitions. …All of which is to say that IBM has arguably been spending its money on the wrong things: shareholders, rather than building its own business.

“IBM’s financials make it self-evident that its stock-rigging strategy is not about value creation through ‘investment,’ ” David A. Stockman, the director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan… “IBM is a buyback machine on steroids that has been a huge stock-market winner by virtue of massaging, medicating and manipulating” its earnings per share.” (The Truth Hidden by IBM’s Buybacks, Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times)

But IBM is no different than anyone else. They’re all doing the same thing; “dissipating corporate assets” and “shrinking their businesses” (Yves Smith) to enrich greedy executives and their voracious shareholders. And who can blame them, after all, these corporations are merely responding to the incentives created by the Fed’s monetary policies. Stock buybacks make perfect sense when credit is easy and the price of money is zero.

So why did stock prices plunge last week?

It’s all about expectations. Investors know that the conditions that have been favorable for stock buybacks are about to change, (The Fed plans to end QE in October.) so they are making their adjustments while prices are still high. That’s why the markets have been gyrating lately. It’s also why buybacks have dropped by 27 percent in the last quarter. Check out this graph from Zero Hedge:

unnamed-1

(The Buyback Party Is Indeed Over: Stock Repurchases Tumble In The Second Quarter, Zero Hedge)

Corporations have been willing to buy their own shares because (a) money is cheap and (b) because they knew the Fed was shrinking the supply of financial assets by buying US Treasuries. Now that the Fed is threatening to turn off the money-spigot, (which will have the same effect as raising rates) the buybacks will slow and stocks will drop. Of course, that’s not the way the analysts at Goldman Sachs see things. They think the slowdown in stock buybacks is just a temporary glitch that coincides with earnings reports. According to Business Insider:

“Goldman Sachs’ David Kostin believes a temporary pullback may explain why the S&P 500 has tumbled from its all-time high of 2,019 on Sept. 19.

“Most companies are precluded from engaging in open-market stock repurchases during the five weeks before releasing earnings,” Kostin notes. “For many firms, the beginning of the blackout period coincided with the S&P 500 peak on September 18. So the sell-off occurred during a time when the single largest source of equity demand was absent…

“We expect companies will actively repurchase shares in November and December,” he writes. “Since 2007, an average of 25% of annual buybacks has occurred during the last two months of the year.” (GOLDMAN: We’re Blaming The Stock Market Sell-Off On A Pullback In Buybacks, Business Insider)

Goldman could be right, but I don’t think so, mainly because increased volatility and ructions in the bond market suggest that market dynamics have changed. It’s a whole different ballgame now. “The VIX Volatility Index topped 30 briefly last week — often seen as an unofficial warning sign, while CNNMoney’s own Fear & Greed Index is still in “Extreme Fear” mode with the current reading is 5.” And the troubles in the bond market are even scarier. Check this out on Bloomberg:

“Corporate bond values are fluctuating the most in more than a year as Wall Street’s biggest banks opt against using their own money to absorb debt being sold by clients.

The 22 dealers that do business with the Fed reduced their net holdings of high-yield bonds by $1.7 billion in the two weeks ended Oct. 8 to a net $6.3 billion, Fed data show. They were joining the crowd in selling, with high-yield bond mutual funds receiving $7.4 billion of withdrawals since mid-September…” (Leveraged Money Spurs Selloff as Record Treasuries Trade, Bloomberg)

Here’s more from Bloomberg:

“High-yield investors are more worried that no one will bid on their bonds than they are about the risk of companies defaulting. At a time when the default rate for below investment-grade companies is holding at about half its historical average, junk-bond investors are increasingly concerned that they’ll be unable to sell when they want to…

“Clients now want to sell any bond they don’t want to hold for the long-term for fear that they will not be able to sell them later,” Bank of America Corp. analysts led by Michael Contopoulos wrote in a note today. The recent volatility “has been a wake-up call for many that dealer balance sheet constraints leads to faster price discovery and gappier price moves.”… (Lonely Bond Buyers Feel Deserted When Junk-Market Rout Heats Up, Bloomberg)

Investors are afraid that they won’t be able to get out when they want to?

Precisely, and that fear is adding to market volatility.

So what happens now?

Well, it looks like things are going to get a whole lot crazier for a while, particularly if economic data is weak, and the Fed winds down QE on schedule. Then we could see a noticeable increase in the violent swings in daily trading. One thing to keep an eye on is yields on high-yield debt which have been gradually rising signaling that investors are less eager to provide cheap credit to marginal corporate borrowers. That’s going to make it more expensive to finance stock buybacks which means that the main driver of the stock market is going to begin to stall. When buybacks drop off, the markets will drift sideways leading to a selloff in the bond market that could spark a race for the exits. Here’s how Jeff Cox sums it up over at CNBC:

“Picture this: The bond market gets spooked by a sudden interest rate scare, sending a throng of buyers streaming toward the exits, only to find a dearth of buyers on the other side. As a result, liquidity evaporates, yields soar, and the U.S. finds itself smack in the middle of another debt crisis no one saw coming…

We saw the imbalance this summer, when global unrest caused sudden outflows from high-yield corporates, and last spring, when a swift, but not unprecedented, move in rates caused a negative knee-jerk reaction in credit spreads. As one trader put it: “The Taper Tantrum was the 30-second preview to a full feature film that might yet play out.” (This is the ‘doomsday’ bond market scenario, Jeff Cox, CNBC)

We’ve already had three dress rehearsals for Cox’s “doomsday scenario” since last summer, (the most recent of which took place last Wednesday when the Dow dropped 460 pts before rebounding.) so there’s no doubt that there’s trouble ahead. Once stocks start to fall, the bond bubble will burst igniting a broader selloff and a swift plunge in prices. That will leave the balance sheets of many corporations and financial institutions deep in the red precipitating a second major financial crisis in less than 7 years.

Sound plausible?

I think so. And the problems can all be traced back to the easy money policies of the Central Bank; our friend, the Fed.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

Originally published by WhoWhatWhy

In the counterterrorism realm, “imminence” is the magic word these days. The government need only utter it to hand itself a virtual license to kill.

Understanding how language can be marshaled for controversial and even bloody purposes requires the ear of a linguist and the mind of a contracts lawyer.

But the time to go back to school is now—with “imminence” seemingly exploding everywhere.

In the past few years, the term has been invoked again and again in reference to the thousands targeted by the United States drone program. And it pops up just about every time the U.S. plans another drone attack or military commitment.

Consider the repetition of the word in the latest round of justifications for more air strikes in Iraq and Syria.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warned that the U.S. must be ready for stronger commitments to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria because it poses an “imminent threat to every interest we have.” The Khorasan group—a purported al-Qaeda “super” cell—landed on the American targeting list because it was planning an “imminent attack” against the West, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.

So in light of the continued use of the word, it may be worthwhile to take a closer look at what U.S. officials actually mean when they use it.

Imminence: What’s That?

Under international law, targeted killings may be justified if the attacking party acts in self-defense. That’s pretty understandable criteria. But disagreement abounds over what constitutes self-defense.

According to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, member states have an inherent right to self-defense if an armed attack occurs against them. But many politicians and intellectuals see this understanding of self-defense as restrictive. That’s because it only allows states to react after an attack takes place.

The newfound pre-eminence of “imminence” springs from a desire to give the notion of self-defense a more flexible, modern definition.

An imminent threat is typically understood to involve urgency. In other words, it refers to a situation in which “the necessity of that self-defense is instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation.” That standard, known as the Caroline test, has for years been the guiding definition for the international community.

But this more lenient construction wasn’t permissive enough for the U.S. The Justice Department, seeking elbow room, invoked imminence in an internal memo justifying the killing of Americans who are senior leaders of al-Qaeda or an associated group. It argued that such citizens could be killed legally because they present a threat of imminent attack.

License to Kill

Yet the definition of imminent, in the logic of that particular memorandum, is a flabby one at best. It “does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

International experts harrumph at this. That viewpoint “is deeply contested and lacks support under international law,” according to Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

So the solution is simple: flout international law, and you have a virtual license to kill. Indeed, says Alston, the U.S. viewpoint advocates for a more “robust” form of self-defense that ignores established legal frameworks and “reflects an unlawful and disturbing tendency in recent times to permit violations of (international humanitarian law).”

The new-look imminence principle owes much to the “Bush Doctrine” of preemptive strikes. The latter policy declared that the U.S. is willing to take “anticipatory action to defend” itself “even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.”

The Obama administration’s definition of “imminence” appears to be little more than an expanded continuation of the Bush-era’s indulgent interpretation of “preemption.”

Droning on About Pakistan

And it gets worse.

We have already seen how America’s very liberal interpretation of imminence has given rise to the “license to kill” that experts like Alston warned it would.

On top of that, there’s proof that the imminence doctrine has been twisted around to suit immediate political and diplomatic needs. In the process, the flimsiness of the excuses required to declare something or someone an imminent threat has been exposed.

The evidence comes from one of the lowest points in Pakistani-American relations. In 2011, an attack by U.S.-led NATO forces killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers. In the ensuing diplomatic ruckus, Pakistan demanded that the U.S. stop drone strikes on its territory. Washington tried to sooth tensions by halting the drone campaign for a few months.

But wait a minute: how could the U.S. suddenly stop an urgent campaign—then in its seventh year—to destroy the myriad national security menaces roaming the wilds of Pakistan? Did all the imminent threats just dry up overnight, even though hundreds had been found and killed since 2004?

This becomes an especially perplexing riddle when one considers this: there were more drone attacks in Pakistan in the year before the program’s hiatus than in any one before or since. If the pause in U.S. drone strikes was a political maneuver, then the imminent nature of the U.S.-described threats can and should be questioned.

Good-Will Kills

That’s not the only time the government has used the cover of imminence to suit political ends. The New York Times reported in 2013 that “American officials have at times tried to placate Pakistani officials by killing militants who pose a greater threat to Pakistan than they do the United States.” Some officials in Washington called such strikes “good-will kills.”

If that’s the case, then it means that international political and diplomatic considerations figure into the American calculus. Yet how can the U.S. justification of its targeted killing program—striking imminent threats to the United States—apply to the defense of other nations?

Many international observers predicted that the imminence doctrine would only encourage more war. They’ve been proven right. And since international law is only as strong as the weakest of the most powerful nations enforcing it, America’s respect for its letter and spirit will have an enormous global impact.

So the U.S. adoption of this bold new “imminence” may set precedent for other nations to follow. If it becomes the norm, the threshold for justifying state violence and war will be lowered significantly.

We are publishing full text of today’s address of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to the members of Vaidai International Discussion Club. This year the main topic of the event was The World Order: New Rules or No Rules?

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the XI meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

It was mentioned already that the club has new co-organisers this year. They include Russian non-governmental organisations, expert groups and leading universities. The idea was also raised of broadening the discussions to include not just issues related to Russia itself but also global politics and the economy.

I hope that these changes in organisation and content will bolster the club’s influence as a leading discussion and expert forum. At the same time, I hope the ‘Valdai spirit’ will remain – this free and open atmosphere and chance to express all manner of very different and frank opinions.

Let me say in this respect that I will also not let you down and will speak directly and frankly. Some of what I say might seem a bit too harsh, but if we do not speak directly and honestly about what we really think, then there is little point in even meeting in this way. It would be better in that case just to keep to diplomatic get-togethers, where no one says anything of real sense and, recalling the words of one famous diplomat, you realise that diplomats have tongues so as not to speak the truth.

We get together for other reasons. We get together so as to talk frankly with each other. We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us.

Today’s discussion took place under the theme: New Rules or a Game without Rules. I think that this formula accurately describes the historic turning point we have reached today and the choice we all face. There is nothing new of course in the idea that the world is changing very fast. I know this is something you have spoken about at the discussions today. It is certainly hard not to notice the dramatic transformations in global politics and the economy, public life, and in industry, information and social technologies.

Let me ask you right now to forgive me if I end up repeating what some of the discussion’s participants have already said. It’s practically impossible to avoid. You have already held detailed discussions, but I will set out my point of view. It will coincide with other participants’ views on some points and differ on others.

41d51294b81530c6c8b4As we analyse today’s situation, let us not forget history’s lessons. First of all, changes in the world order – and what we are seeing today are events on this scale – have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights.

The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organisations are also going through difficult times.

Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II. Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system’s ‘founding fathers’ had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.

The main thing is that this system needs to develop, and despite its various shortcomings, needs to at least be capable of keeping the world’s current problems within certain limits and regulating the intensity of the natural competition between countries.

It is my conviction that we could not take this mechanism of checks and balances that we built over the last decades, sometimes with such effort and difficulty, and simply tear it apart without building anything in its place. Otherwise we would be left with no instruments other than brute force.

What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it the new realities in the system of international relations.

But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance.

The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called ‘victors’ in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.

41d51293fadea744baafPardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.

We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.

In a situation where you had domination by one country and its allies, or its satellites rather, the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes. This group’s ambitions grew so big that they started presenting the policies they put together in their corridors of power as the view of the entire international community. But this is not the case.

The very notion of ‘national sovereignty’ became a relative value for most countries. In essence, what was being proposed was the formula: the greater the loyalty towards the world’s sole power centre, the greater this or that ruling regime’s legitimacy.

We will have a free discussion afterwards and I will be happy to answer your questions and would also like to use my right to ask you questions. Let someone try to disprove the arguments that I just set out during the upcoming discussion.

The measures taken against those who refuse to submit are well-known and have been tried and tested many times. They include use of force, economic and propaganda pressure, meddling in domestic affairs, and appeals to a kind of ‘supra-legal’ legitimacy when they need to justify illegal intervention in this or that conflict or toppling inconvenient regimes. Of late, we have increasing evidence too that outright blackmail has been used with regard to a number of leaders. It is not for nothing that ‘big brother’ is spending billions of dollars on keeping the whole world, including its own closest allies, under surveillance.

Let’s ask ourselves, how comfortable are we with this, how safe are we, how happy living in this world, and how fair and rational has it become? Maybe, we have no real reasons to worry, argue and ask awkward questions? Maybe the United States’ exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all, and their meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy, and we should maybe just relax and enjoy it all?

Let me say that this is not the case, absolutely not the case.

41d51293f810372eef87A unilateral diktat and imposing one’s own models produces the opposite result. Instead of settling conflicts it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.

Why do they support such people? They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals but then burn their fingers and recoil. I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.

They once sponsored Islamic extremist movements to fight the Soviet Union. Those groups got their battle experience in Afghanistan and later gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The West if not supported, at least closed its eyes, and, I would say, gave information, political and financial support to international terrorists’ invasion of Russia (we have not forgotten this) and the Central Asian region’s countries. Only after horrific terrorist attacks were committed on US soil itself did the United States wake up to the common threat of terrorism. Let me remind you that we were the first country to support the American people back then, the first to react as friends and partners to the terrible tragedy of September 11.

During my conversations with American and European leaders, I have always spoken of the need to fight terrorism together, as a challenge on a global scale. We cannot resign ourselves to and accept this threat, cannot cut it into separate pieces and use double standards. Our partners expressed agreement, but a little time passed and we ended up back where we started. First there was the military operation in Iraq, then in Libya, which got pushed to the brink of falling apart. Why was Libya pushed into this situation? Today it is a country in danger of breaking apart and has become a training ground for terrorists.

Only the current Egyptian leadership’s determination and wisdom saved this key Arab country from chaos and having extremists run rampant. In Syria, as in the past, the United States and its allies started directly financing and arming rebels and allowing them to fill their ranks with mercenaries from various countries. Let me ask where do these rebels get their money, arms and military specialists? Where does all this come from? How did the notorious ISIL manage to become such a powerful group, essentially a real armed force?

As for financing sources, today, the money is coming not just from drugs, production of which has increased not just by a few percentage points but many-fold, since the international coalition forces have been present in Afghanistan. You are aware of this. The terrorists are getting money from selling oil too. Oil is produced in territory controlled by the terrorists, who sell it at dumping prices, produce it and transport it. But someone buys this oil, resells it, and makes a profit from it, not thinking about the fact that they are thus financing terrorists who could come sooner or later to their own soil and sow destruction in their own countries.

ISIL-iraqWhere do they get new recruits? In Iraq, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the state’s institutions, including the army, were left in ruins. We said back then, be very, very careful. You are driving people out into the street, and what will they do there? Don’t forget (rightfully or not) that they were in the leadership of a large regional power, and what are you now turning them into?

What was the result? Tens of thousands of soldiers, officers and former Baath Party activists were turned out into the streets and today have joined the rebels’ ranks. Perhaps this is what explains why the Islamic State group has turned out so effective? In military terms, it is acting very effectively and has some very professional people. Russia warned repeatedly about the dangers of unilateral military actions, intervening in sovereign states’ affairs, and flirting with extremists and radicals. We insisted on having the groups fighting the central Syrian government, above all the Islamic State, included on the lists of terrorist organisations. But did we see any results? We appealed in vain.

We sometimes get the impression that our colleagues and friends are constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies, throw all their effort into addressing the risks they themselves have created, and pay an ever-greater price.

Colleagues, this period of unipolar domination has convincingly demonstrated that having only one power centre does not make global processes more manageable. On the contrary, this kind of unstable construction has shown its inability to fight the real threats such as regional conflicts, terrorism, drug trafficking, religious fanaticism, chauvinism and neo-Nazism. At the same time, it has opened the road wide for inflated national pride, manipulating public opinion and letting the strong bully and suppress the weak.

Essentially, the unipolar world is simply a means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries. The unipolar world turned out too uncomfortable, heavy and unmanageable a burden even for the self-proclaimed leader. Comments along this line were made here just before and I fully agree with this. This is why we see attempts at this new historic stage to recreate a semblance of a quasi-bipolar world as a convenient model for perpetuating American leadership. It does not matter who takes the place of the “Evil Empire” in American propaganda, the USSR’s old place as the main adversary. It could be Iran, as a country seeking to acquire nuclear technology, China, as the world’s biggest economy, or Russia, as a nuclear superpower.

Today, we are seeing new efforts to fragment the world, draw new dividing lines, put together coalitions not built for something but directed against someone, anyone, create the image of an enemy as was the case during the Cold War years, and obtain the right to this leadership, or diktat if you wish. The situation was presented this way during the Cold War. We all understand this and know this. The United States always told its allies: “We have a common enemy, a terrible foe, an Evil Empire, and we are defending you, our allies, from this foe, and so we have the right to order you around, force you to sacrifice your political and economic interests and pay your share of the costs for this collective defence, but we will be the ones in charge of it all of course.” In short, we see today attempts in a new and changing world to reproduce the familiar models of global management, and all this so as to guarantee their [the US’] exceptional position and reap political and economic dividends.

41d51293f49e4ff0c77bBut these attempts are increasingly divorced from reality and are in contradiction with the world’s diversity. Steps of this kind inevitably create confrontation and countermeasures and have the opposite effect to the hoped-for goals. We see what happens when politics rashly starts meddling in the economy and the logic of rational decisions gives way to the logic of confrontation that only hurt one’s own economic positions and interests, including national business interests.

Joint economic projects and mutual investment objectively bring countries closer together and help to smooth out current problems in relations between states. But today, the global business community faces unprecedented pressure from Western governments. What business, economic expediency and pragmatism can we speak of when we hear slogans such as “the homeland is in danger”, “the free world is under threat”, and “democracy is in jeopardy”? And so everyone needs to mobilise. That is what a real mobilisation policy looks like.

Sanctions are already undermining the foundations of world trade, the WTO rules and the principle of inviolability of private property. They are dealing a blow to liberal model of globalisation based on markets, freedom and competition, which, let me note, is a model that has primarily benefited precisely the Western countries. And now they risk losing trust as the leaders of globalisation. We have to ask ourselves, why was this necessary? After all, the United States’ prosperity rests in large part on the trust of investors and foreign holders of dollars and US securities. This trust is clearly being undermined and signs of disappointment in the fruits of globalisation are visible now in many countries.

The well-known Cyprus precedent and the politically motivated sanctions have only strengthened the trend towards seeking to bolster economic and financial sovereignty and countries’ or their regional groups’ desire to find ways of protecting themselves from the risks of outside pressure.We already see that more and more countries are looking for ways to become less dependent on the dollar and are setting up alternative financial and payments systems and reserve currencies. I think that our American friends are quite simply cutting the branch they are sitting on.You cannot mix politics and the economy, but this is what is happening now. I have always thought and still think today that politically motivated sanctions were a mistake that will harm everyone, but I am sure that we will come back to this subject later.

We know how these decisions were taken and who was applying the pressure. But let me stress that Russia is not going to get all worked up, get offended or come begging at anyone’s door. Russia is a self-sufficient country. We will work within the foreign economic environment that has taken shape, develop domestic production and technology and act more decisively to carry out transformation. Pressure from outside, as has been the case on past occasions, will only consolidate our society, keep us alert and make us concentrate on our main development goals.

Of course the sanctions are a hindrance. They are trying to hurt us through these sanctions, block our development and push us into political, economic and cultural isolation, force us into backwardness in other words. But let me say yet again that the world is a very different place today. We have no intention of shutting ourselves off from anyone and choosing some kind of closed development road, trying to live in autarky. We are always open to dialogue, including on normalising our economic and political relations. We are counting here on the pragmatic approach and position of business communities in the leading countries.

41d51293ebd0f5e81f28Some are saying today that Russia is supposedly turning its back on Europe – such words were probably spoken already here too during the discussions – and is looking for new business partners, above all in Asia. Let me say that this is absolutely not the case. Our active policy in the Asian-Pacific region began not just yesterday and not in response to sanctions, but is a policy that we have been following for a good many years now. Like many other countries, including Western countries, we saw that Asia is playing an ever greater role in the world, in the economy and in politics, and there is simply no way we can afford to overlook these developments.

Let me say again that everyone is doing this, and we will do so to, all the more so as a large part of our country is geographically in Asia. Why should we not make use of our competitive advantages in this area? It would be extremely shortsighted not to do so.

Developing economic ties with these countries and carrying out joint integration projects also creates big incentives for our domestic development. Today’s demographic, economic and cultural trends all suggest that dependence on a sole superpower will objectively decrease. This is something that European and American experts have been talking and writing about too.

Perhaps developments in global politics will mirror the developments we are seeing in the global economy, namely, intensive competition for specific niches and frequent change of leaders in specific areas. This is entirely possible.

There is no doubt that humanitarian factors such as education, science, healthcare and culture are playing a greater role in global competition. This also has a big impact on international relations, including because this ‘soft power’ resource will depend to a great extent on real achievements in developing human capital rather than on sophisticated propaganda tricks.

To be continued...

Two articles in Friday’s Washington Post reporting chemical weapons attacks in Iraq and Syria are part of a general propaganda campaign by the mainstream media to turn the operation against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) into a war to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

A front-page article headlined “Jihadist launched chemical assault” reports that ISIS forces deployed chlorine gas in an attack last month against Sunni police officers in the Iraqi city of Duluiyah, approximately 60 miles north of Baghdad. The officers reported being overcome by a cloud of yellow gas which hung low to the ground, consistent with chlorine gas. The attack reportedly sickened at least 11 officers who were taken to a nearby hospital and treated with oxygen and anti-inflammatory medication for shortness of breath.

According to the Iraq Defense Ministry, ISIS has obtained significant quantities chlorine from water treatment facilities where the chemical is used to chlorinate water to prevent the spread of water-borne disease. Improvised chlorine bombs were used previously by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of ISIS, at the height of the Sunni insurgency against the US occupation in 2006 and 2007.

There have been other reports in recent weeks of the use of chlorine gas by ISIS in Iraq. According to soldiers who managed to escape an ISIS attack last month on the Saqlawiyah military base in Anbar Province, chlorine gas was deployed as part of the brutal assault which killed approximately 370 soldiers. ISIS fighters reportedly fired chlorine gas canisters into the base.

The Al Nusra Front is suspected of being responsible for a chlorine gas attack in March of last year that killed 26 Syrians, including 16 Syrian soldiers. The Al Nusra Front seized control of the Sheikh Suleiman military base in western Aleppo as well as a chlorine factory at the end of 2012, giving them access to chemical weaponry. Sheikh Suleimna, also known as Base 111, is believed to have been an important site in Syria’s chemical weapons program.

The Post’s editorial titled “Obama gives Syria’s Assad another pass on chemical weapons,” seizes on the recent reports of use of chlorine weapons by ISIS in Iraq to press for the overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria. “The Islamic State, too, may be using chlorine,” the editorial states, but “the difference is that, while the United States has mobilized a coalition against the Islamic State, Mr. Assad is taking advantage of the fact that the U.S. strategy in Syria is to ignore him.”

The paper states quite bluntly that “the Assad regime is once again blatantly violating the ‘red line’ drawn by Mr. Obama against the use of chemical weapons—and getting away with it.” The editorial quotes Simon Limage, a State Department nonproliferation official, who said that the “evidence strongly suggests the Assad regime is the culprit.”

The editorial cites a report published this week by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington, D.C. think-tank which laid blame for 18 recent alleged chlorine gas attacks in rebel held areas on the Assad regime. The ISW was founded and is overseen by Kimberly Kagan, the sister-in-law of Robert Kagan, one of the founders of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century. Robert Kagan served as an advisor to Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus during President Barack Obama’s 2009 surge in Afghanistan.

The editorial concludes that Obama’s refusal to establish a no-fly zone or target the Syrian military has given the Assad regime “a pass.” The conclusion which the Washington Post intends for its readers draw is that a massive military campaign must be undertaken immediately to oust Assad.

Ironically this propaganda for war is published on the same day that the Post’s news reporting vindicates earlier exposures of the Western-backed “rebels’” responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria that were largely ignored by the mainstream media at the time.

UN special investigator Carla Del Ponte stated in May of last year that investigators had “strong, concrete suspicions” of the use of sarin gas “on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

Plots by Al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, and Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the Al Nusra Front, were broken up in May and June of last year. The groups were accused of planning to manufacture and deploy chemical weapons, including sarin and mustard gas.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry arrested five members of ISIS in Baghdad who were allegedly seeking to deploy chemical agents against crowds of Shia pilgrims via remote controlled planes. Turkish authorities claimed to have broken up a plot by the Al-Nusrah Front to launch a sarin gas attack either inside Syria or on the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh exposed claims by the imperialist powers that Assad was responsible for a sarin gas attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August last year as a calculated fraud. Hersh reported that Al Nusra also had the capability to deploy sarin gas in Syria but never came under suspicion from the US. This remarkable exposure of claims that had served as the principal pretext for the Obama administration’s aborted plan to launch air strikes against Syria at the time was subsequently buried by US media.

The Washington Post is seizing upon the most recent claims of chemical weapons attacks in Iraq and Syria as part of a cynical maneuver in the Obama administration’s drive to oust the Assad regime. The yellow press is churning out this propaganda in an attempt to prepare the general population for an escalation of the current military operations against ISIS into an all-out war for regime change in Syria.

The Entry of Ebola into the US Has Hallmarks of a Planned Happening

October 25th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

More information is available that suggests the the government had advance information that ebola was coming to the US and that the government expects a much larger outbreak of the disease in the US than it admits.

Keep in mind that Washington is evil and has been killing people in seven countries for thirteen years based entirely on lies. Keep in mind that Washington has a long list of countries that it has destabilized. Most recently Washington overthrew the elected government in Ukraine and is currently working on the remaining independent governments in the Middle East, Russia, and China as Tony Cartalucci’s article documents:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/turmoil-in-hong-kong-terrorism-in-xinjiang-americas-covert-war-on-china/5409079

For six case studies of how Washington overthrows governments read The Brothers.

Here is a report from Natural News:

http://www.naturalnews.com/047118_ebola_pandemic_us_government_american_cities.html

The U.S. government knew about the outbreak in advance, but didn’t warn the public

It’s now clear that the U.S. government has long known this outbreak was coming but did nothing to warn the public.

In early September, the government sought to purchase 160,000 Ebola hazmat suits from a U.S.  supplier.

http://www.naturalnews.com/046884_ebola_pandemic_hazmat_suits_biological_protection.html

Furthermore, according to this report on SHTFplan.com, “Disaster Assistance Response Teams were told to prepare to be activated in the month of October.”

http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/report-disaster-teams-were-told-months-ago-they-would-be-activated-in-october_10012014

Don’t you find it strange that while the government itself was gearing up for an October disaster, the public wasn’t told a thing about any of this?

The crackdown on peaceful protesters by police in Ferguson, Missouri violated numerous US and international laws, according to a report published Monday by Amnesty International.

The report, The streets of America: Human rights abuses in Ferguson, extensively documents systematic acts of police violence against peaceful protestors and the arrest and assault of media and international observers. It details the suppression of rights protected under the US Constitution, international law and international human rights agreements.

The report comes as police are “stocking up on riot gear,” as a report in the Associated Press put it, in preparation for renewed protests next month in the event that a grand jury fails to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown on August 9.

“What Amnesty International witnessed in Missouri on the ground this summer underscored that human rights abuses do not just happen across borders and oceans,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

Hawkins added, “Standing on W. Florissant Avenue with my colleagues, I saw a police force, armed to the teeth, with military-grade weapons. I saw a crowd that included the elderly and young children fighting the effects of tear gas.”

Police confronted protesters while “armed with semi-automatic weapons and leashed police dogs,” the report noted. “Officers moved among the protesters using armored vehicles which are more commonly seen in a conflict zone rather than the streets of a suburban town in the United States.” It added, “Some of the officers had… no names, badges, other identifying information visible.”

The report concluded, “In all, more than 170 individuals were arrested during the first 12 days of protests since Michael Brown’s death,” more than three quarters of arrests were for the ad-hoc charge of “failure to disperse.”

The report also documents the attack on free speech and the media. “Legal and human rights observers as well as members of the media have repeatedly been obstructed” by police, it noted.

“From August 13 through October 2, at least 19 journalists and members of the media were arrested by law enforcement with others subjected to tear gas and the use of rubber bullets… Reporters for CNN, Al Jazeera America and other outlets report being harassed or physically threatened.”

When Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who nominally headed the police response in the area, was asked in a press conference why members of the press were being targeted for arrest, he replied, “It is difficult to tell who is media, and who is disguising themselves as such.”

In one particularly shocking event, the report recounts how Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept and Lukas Hermsmeier of the German Bild-Zeitung were shot with rubber bullets and arrested while fleeing from a barrage of tear gas.

The report recounts,

“After coming out [from] behind a cover with their hands in the air, shouting, ‘Press!’ and ‘Journalists’ and ‘We’re media!’ [an] officer allowed them to pass. However, as Devereaux and Hermsmeier continued walking with their hands in the air, shouting ‘Press!’ the same officer shot rubber bullets at them, hitting both journalists in the back. Out of fear, they dove behind a car. The officers approached with guns pointed and arrested them.”

On another occasion Amnesty International observers were threatened by police while seeking to leave a protest scene after determining that they were in danger from tear gas and rubber bullets.

“One officer directly in front of the delegation pointed his weapon at the delegation and shouted ‘get on the ground!’ A staff member at the front of the delegation knelt on the ground and informed the officer, ‘We are human rights observers.’”

In another incident, “Amnesty International witnessed an officer with the St. Ann Police Department in Missouri point his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at a group of journalists and threaten to kill them.”

The Amnesty International report noted that the practice of pointing firearms at peaceful protestors violates US law and international rules. “Under the U.N.’s Basic Principles for the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defense or defense of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury.” In addition, “An officer pointing a gun at close range at an unarmed individual who is not presenting a threat would also be excessive use of force under U.S. law.”

The report concluded that the police attempt to “collectively punish” local residents and peaceful protestors. It noted that the imposition of a curfew “limited not only the rights of those who were demonstrating peacefully, but also the freedom of movement of the general public in Ferguson who were required to be off of the streets after midnight each night.”

The illegal and unconstitutional character of the police response was summed up by an injunction issued by a federal judge earlier this month against the so-called “five second rule,” an arbitrary directive that police used to abrogate the constitutionally protected freedom of assembly. The judge said the order allowed “police officers, if they felt like it, to order peaceful, law-abiding protesters to keep moving rather than standing still.” She concluded, “As it was applied in this case, the practice…violates the constitution.”

The Amnesty International report, together with the nationwide militarization of the police and the ongoing wave of police killings, makes a mockery of the claims by the United States military and politicians that the aims of the US’s endless series of wars and international provocations is to defend “human rights.”

Probing the Ebola Conspiracy Panic

October 25th, 2014 by Prof. James F. Tracy

In 2008 media studies scholar Jack Bratich introduced the concept of conspiracy panics to interpret powerful government and media reactions to the “collective intelligence” activities enacted by laypersons and evident within broader forms of popular culture.[1]

The idea is useful when observing how over the past several weeks mainstream media outlets have busied themselves decrying various critiques of the US government’s response to the Ebola phenomenon, the government’s potential intentions concerning the predicament, and speculations on the disease’s uncertain origins and means of diagnosis as a similarly dangerous “strain of contagion”: “the Ebola conspiracy theories.”[2]

The conspiracy theory term essentially designates inquisitive perspectives and analyses that have been generated by corporate media nor routed through salaried journalists’ Rolodexes of conventional establishment sources—in this instance experts in healthcare, academe, government, and the corporate sector itself.

Rejecting or explaining away differing perspectives on how powerful institutions operate is a foremost function of mainstream media. From this worldview alternative media outlets, many of which provide valuable insights on Ebola and a host of other events and concerns, are understood by corporate media managers as so much “noise” in society’s informational and explanatory conduits that they perceive as essentially belonging to them.

Yet unlike would-be terrorist attacks or political assassinations, the Ebola phenomenon is one that fundamentally involves an understanding of and ability to interpret scientific and medical evidence and procedure–things most journalists know little more of than the broader public they seek to serve.

Thus in the midst of such a “crisis” what passes for a good deal of journalism is in fact a propitious platform for the high-level public relations maneuvers of interested parties—in particular certain government agencies and for-profit healthcare and pharmaceutical companies which are closely intertwined via the revolving doors often linking them.

Despite the complex and uncertain terrain of such sourcing and reportage it is telling how corporate media move to condemn what essentially amounts to practical wariness and critical thinking, both of which have become increasingly essential in light of the multitude of events—from 9/11 and the so-called “war on terror” to “weapons of mass destruction” and the Boston Marathon “bombing” spectacle—where such media have at best failed in conducting due journalistic diligence and at worst have intentionally misled their audiences and readerships into accepting dubious if not largely invented narratives that pervert public discourse and impair popular memory.

Academics in particular are well aware of the tentative and thus potentially manipulative nature of what constitute “truth” and “truth claims.” In the humanities especially “truth” itself is commonly deemed to be socially and historically constructed.

Along these lines, events and issues are frequently deemed “controversial” by those seeking to frame a perceptible disagreement by parties authorized to analyze pertinent facts. Lacking such approval are those falling outside the accepted parameters of debate.

Yet such a disingenuous stance is commonly open to contradiction. In its quest to bolster the Ebola conspiracy panic and disparage unwelcome parties to the exchange, the New York Times’ Alan Feuer recently called upon cultural studies scholar and University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster. “’The truth is that we do rely on private corporations to develop and produce our pharmaceuticals,’” Fenster remarks.

“’While we may not like that fact, it’s not so hard or paranoid to imagine private companies acting in their own best interests.” According to Fenster, “The theory works … because it is ‘truthy,’ to borrow from the comedian Stephen Colbert.” In other words, “it has just enough veracity ‘that it rings true when carried to Ebola.’”[3]

Fenster’s 1999 volume, Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture, employs a cultural studies approach which at its core upholds and often celebrates “truthiness”—or the relative notion that truth is akin to that which passes for such and is overall socially and historically constructed.[4] This allows Fenster to proceed throughout the book to conveniently omit important facts concerning momentous events such as the JFK assassination, the Oklahoma City bombing, and 9/11, in order to establish and sustain an object of study that in reality is as much a component of the CIA’s prolonged psychological warfare program against the American public [5] as it is a doctrinal strategy to corrupt entire intellectual enterprises, in particular US journalism and academe.

Most of the journalistic and scholarly analyses of “conspiracy theories” that carry the implicit burden of “objectivity” are far less excusable. While they feign outrage at unorthodox (thought often accurate) ideas and commentary, they succeed as commonplace demonstrations of the bias they condemn, suggesting a recurrent balance between society’s two main ideological engines that form the bulwark of the established order. “Power,” George Orwell reminds us, “is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

Notes

[1] Jack Z. Bratich, Conspiracy Panics: Political Rationality and Popular Culture, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008.

[2] Quote from Alan Feuer, “The Ebola Conspiracy Theories,” New York Times, October 18, 2014. See also Eric Owens, “Crackpot, Taxpayer-Funded Professor in Delaware Warns US Military is Killing Liberians with Ebola,” Daily Caller, September 27, 2014; Abby Phillip, “Delaware State U Won’t Interfere With Free Speech of Professor Spreading Ebola Conspiracy Theories,” Washington Post, September 26, 2014; John Blosser, “Professor Floats Conspiracy Theory Implicating US in Ebola Spread,” Newsmax, September 26, 2014; Jessica Firger, “Ebola Fears, Conspiracies Spread Through Social Media,” CBS News, October 3, 2014; Alice Audley, “Ebola Conspiracy Theories: Separating Fact From Fiction,” UK Telegraph, October 8, 2014; Jason Millman, “The Inevitable Rise of Ebola Conspiracy Theories,” Washington Post, October 13, 2014; Ludovico Iaccino, “Ebola Cause by Red Cross and Other Conspiracy Theories,” International Business Times, October 14, 2014.

[3] Feuer, “The Ebola Conspiracy Theories.”

[4] Mark Fenster, Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture, University of Minnesota Press, 1999/2008.

[5] Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013.

On Wednesday, just two days after a “radicalized” man ran over two Canadian soldiers in a mall parking lot, a gunmen opened fire at Canada’s National War Memorial and at Parliament Hill, killing one soldier and wounding a security guard. He was later killed by an armed guard.

Within less than two days, rhetoric has risen unusually high for Canada in the wake of what have been called “terror attacks,” bringing terrorism home along with fresh demands for new police powers.

This time, the new powers would include ‘preventive arrests,’ potentially taking the country down the slippery slope of guilty-until-proven innocent authoritarian policies.

Via CBC News:

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney is giving more indications of how the government intends to strengthen Canada’s security laws in the wake of Wednesday’s attack in Ottawa on Parliament Hill.

The minister told Radio-Canada on Friday that the government is eyeing the thresholds established in Canadian law for the preventive arrests of people thought to be contemplating attacks that may be linked to terrorism. Officials are considering how to make it easier to press charges against so-called lone-wolf attackers.

“The challenges are the thresholds — the thresholds that will allow either preventive arrest, or charges that lead to sentences, or more simple operations,” Blaney said in French. “So what the prime minister has asked is for us to review in accelerated manner the different mechanisms that are offered to police to ensure everyone’s security.”

There is even talk now of ramping up Canada’s hate speech laws.

A bill was already in the works prior to the shootings to strengthen the Canadian Security Intelligence Services’ (CSIS) powers; Prime Minister Stephen Harper had already announced changes including his belief police powers needed to be increased.

“In recent weeks, I’ve been saying that our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest,” he said as MPs returned one day after a gunman killed a soldier and made his way into Centre Block on the Parliament Hill. (CBC News)

That makes this shooting very convenient for Harper’s agenda; now in the wake of this week’s shooting, Harper has stated that work will be “expedited”.

Questions already abound as to where suspect Michael Zehaf-Bibeau even got his the Winchester 30-30 rifle he used in the shooting. Due to his criminal record, Zehaf-Bibeau was already prohibited from owning a gun; in fact, Canadian courts had already issued the man a standard lifetime gun ban due to a violent conviction. Even without that ban, however, this guy couldn’t have obtained the gun in any legal way.

If anything, first and foremost it just proves that gun control doesn’t work. Regardless, in Canada there is no right by law to bear arms. “Canadians, unlike Americans, do not have a constitutional right to bear arms,” the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in 1993.

As Tony Cartalucci of Land Destroyer Report notes, the same plot had been scripted by the FBI just a month prior:

In mid-September A Rochester man, Mufid A. Elfgeeh, was accused by the FBI of attempting to provide material support to ISIS (undercover FBI agents), attempting to kill US soldiers, and possession of firearms and silencers (provided to him by the FBI). The FBI’s own official press release stated (emphasis added):

According to court records, Elfgeeh attempted to provide material support to ISIS in the form of personnel, namely three individuals, two of whom were cooperating with the FBI. Elfgeeh attempted to assist all three individuals in traveling to Syria to join and fight on behalf of ISIS. Elfgeeh also plotted to shoot and kill members of the United States military who had returned from Iraq. As part of the plan to kill soldiers, Elfgeeh purchased two handguns equipped with firearm silencers and ammunition from a confidential source. The handguns were made inoperable by the FBI before the confidential source gave them to Elfgeeh.

It was warned that only an inoperable firearm stood between Elfgeeh’s arrest and his successful execution of deadly plans hatched by him and his undercover FBI handlers. This script, written by the FBI to entrap Elfgeeh, would be followed almost to the letter in live attacks subsequently carried out in Canada resulting in the death of two Canadian soldiers.

Cartalucci goes on to point out another troubling detail. Like so many other heavily publicized terror attacks, Zehaf-Bibeau was already under both Canadian and U.S. government surveillance prior to the event, with the suspected shooter listed as a “high-risk traveler” who had his passport revoked prior to the shooting:

It is very likely that the recent attacks in Canada involved at least one “informant” working for the FBI. Because the FBI uses confidential informants to handle suspects, if a plot is switched “live,” the informant will be implicated as an accomplice and the FBI’s covert role will remain uncompromised…

With both suspects having been on both US and Canadian watch lists – it is very likely undercover agents were involved in either one or both cases. While many possibilities exist, Western security agencies should be among the first suspects considered as potential collaborators…

And of course —

Conveniently, both suspects are now dead and little chance remains of ascertaining the truth of who they were in contact with and how they carried out their deadly attacks.

Canada’s domestic terror threat level was quietly elevated just days before by CSIS intelligence, issuing a medium-level ‘could occur’ threat advisory for the first time since 2010. Unlike the often hyped and exaggerated public threat assessments in the U.S., this was an internal determination among the intelligence agencies, and signals likely prior knowledge.

So what did they know and when did they really know it?

Also, as in many highly publicized shootings with government ties, initially police reported multiple shooters. In the end, the story changed, naming Zehaf-Bibeau as the only shooter.

Former public safety minister Stockwell Day told CBC News, “There are always limitations, and this is what we have to realize in a free and democratic society. Any time you increase your security, you decrease your freedom somewhere.” [emphasis added]

And there you have it.

Terrorism — monitored and enabled by undercover informants — used as a catalyst to break down civil liberties and accumulate more state power.

Melissa Melton is a writer, researcher, and analyst for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared, and a co-creator of Truthstream Media with Aaron Dykes, a site that offers teleprompter-free, unscripted analysis of The Matrix we find ourselves living in. Melissa also co-founded Nutritional Anarchy with Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper, a site focused on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Wake the flock up!

The exchange occurred on Friday during a House hearing on the federal government’s response to the disease. Massie also asked Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Dr. Nicole Lurie about the transmissibility of Ebola.

Torbay said he is not a medical professional and tried to skirt the issue. Dr. Lurie said Ebola is present in perspiration but did not concede it may be spread on a bus. She also conceded that Ebola can live outside the body on inert surfaces.

Rep. Massie’s questions and the answers by Torbay, Lurie and Maj. Gen. James Lariviere indicate Ebola can be passed on in a bus or other public transport – for instance, the subway car used by a Doctors Without Borders physician hours before checking into a hospital where he was diagnosed with Ebola.

The question is, then: Is the government simply inept and incapable of handling a national health care issue, or are they hiding the truth from the American people for other, more nefarious reasons?

If Torbay and Lurie know Ebola can be passed on to others through sweat – and who in a crowded bus has not touched a pole or straphanger where sweat from an ill person may be present? – and they are hiding or avoiding telling people about the dangers, they should not only be fired, but brought up on charges of endangering public health.

October 24 at the Valdai International Discussion Club meeting in Sochi, Russia’s President Putin correctly and justifiably denounced Washington for destabilizing the world in order to serve its own narrow and selfish interest and the interests of the private interest groups that control Washington at the expense of the rest of the world.  It is about time a world leader denounced the thuggish neocon regime in Washington. Putin described Washington’s double standards with the Roman phrase: “What is allowed for God [the US] is not allowed for cattle [the rest of the world].”

RT reports on Putin’s address here:

http://rt.com/news/198924-putin-valdai-speech-president/

RIA Novotsi reports here:

http://en.ria.ru/politics/20141024/194537272/Putin-Global-Security-System-Seriously-Weakened-Deformed.html

Curiously, the Russian media has not, at this time of writing, produced an English translation of Putin’s full remarks.  Perhaps the Russian media do not realize the importance of Putin’s words. Too much of the Russian media is owned by foreign interests who use the access to Russian readers to attack and discredit the Russian government.  It is amazing that the Russian government allows Washington’s propaganda within its own ranks. Perhaps Moscow accepts Washington’s propaganda among Russians in order to protect the broadcasts in the US of RT, RIA, and Voice of Russia. But the balance is uneven. The Russian broadcasts in the West report otherwise unreported news; they do not defame America.

See also:

Putin: world leaders blackmailed:

http://en.ria.ru/world/20141024/194542305/Putin-Says-Reports-Show-World-Leaders-Could-Be-Blackmailed-With.html

Putin: US escalates worldwide conflict:

http://en.ria.ru/world/20141024/194540658/Putin-US-Dictatorship-Global-Interference-Lead-to-Escalation-of.html

German MP” sanctions without proof:

http://en.ria.ru/interview/20141014/194062719/German-MP-Germany-Has-No-Evidence-of-Who-Shot-Down-MH17.html

I did not see any reporting of Putin’s address in the US print and TV media. Clearly in the US there is an absence of public discussion of US foreign policy and foreign reaction to it. A country in which propaganda and silence rule out awareness and public discussion is not a democracy regardless of what it calls itself.

Washington long ago learned the dark art of silencing truth with defamation. Washington used defamation to overthrow Iran’s elected leader, Mossadegh in 1953, to overthrow Congo’s prime minister Patrice Lumumba in 1960, to overthrow Guatemala’s President Arbenz in 1954, to overthrow Venezuela’s President Hugo Chevez in 2002, a coup that was cancelled by the Venezuelan people and military who threw out Washington’s stooge replacement and reinstalled Chavez, to overthrow Ukraine’s elected President Yanukovych in 2013, to overthrow Honduras President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 , to overthrow  in 2013 Mohamed Morsi, president of the first democratically elected government in Egypt’s history, to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, in ongoing efforts to overthrow Assad in Syria and the government of Iran, and in failed attempts to overthrow Indonesia’s Sukarno, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, and Castro in Cuba.

Today Washington’s target is Vladimir Putin. This is the height of folly and hubris. Putin’s public support far exceeds that of any American president in history.  Currently, the level of public support for the Obama regime and the US Congress is far too low to be compatible with a functioning democracy.  If the US is actually a democracy, it is the most dysfunctional democracy in world history.  Practically no one, except the powerful private interest groups who own Washington, supports the US government. Everyone else despises Washington.

As the result of 13 years of murderous destruction of life and property in the Middle East and Africa, a dysfunctional and collapsing US economy, and a display of unrivaled arrogance, Washington has destroyed America’s soft power.  Abroad only the deluded few and those paid by US-financed NGOs still have a good opinion of the United States.

In all world polls, the US ranks as the greatest threat to world peace. Washington has made our country a despised nation, and we the people  have done nothing about it.

You would never know this from the US print or TV media or even from most of the UK and Western European media.  As I reported on October 16, Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor of one of Germany’s most important newspapers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has written a best-selling book in which he reports that the CIA owns everyone of significance in the major European media. In his own words Udo Ulfkotte says that he was “taught to lie, to betray and not to tell the truth to the public.”

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/10/16/cia-owns-everyone-significance-major-media/

As a former Wall Street Journal editor, Business Week columnist, columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service, columnist for a German magazine and French and Italian newspapers, I observed and experienced the gradual impoundment of any dissent from Washington’s line.  It became clear that the path to journalism success in the West was to lie for the Establishment in Washington, largely a private establishment along with the dark off-budget “security” agencies bolstered by the neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony.

Much of Russian media and Putin’s advisors are fully aware of Washington’s media campaign to defame President Vladimir Putin. http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/756160   The internet site Russia Insider today asked the pertinent question: “Is the CIA Running a Defamation Campaign Against Putin?”  As Russia Insider makes clear, the answer is most certainly.

http://russia-insider.com/en/politics_media_watch/2014/10/24/04-54-03pm/cia_running_defamation_campaign_against_putin

Click the URL above and view the front pages of the UK Sun, Daily Mirror, and Daily Express.  I would bet that these are front pages designed in Washington or Langley and are in fact paid ads by the CIA or National Endowment for Democracy or by one of the Republican or Democrat organizations that sponsor Washington’s  overseas propaganda.

Of course, these UK rags can be dismissed as sensational junk comparable to the US versions that are for sale at grocery store checkout counters–”movie star abducted by aliens in UFO.”  So scroll down the page of the above URL and look at the covers of Newsweek and The Economist.  Once these were respected publications.  Today I would bet that no one reads them and that they are dependent on CIA subsidies for their existance.  Nevertheless, they impact the European, Canadian, Australian, and Japanese media and no doubt the media of other countries on the borders of the US empire. These gullible fools still think that America has a free press.

Be sure to notice this section of the report from Russia Insider:

“The issue of manipulation of news by intelligence services has been in the news recently with revelations that the CIA and German Secret Service (GSS) have long-running programs to influence how media executives and top journalists convey and interpret the news, including direct cash payments.

“Here are some examples they point to:

  • Portraying him [Putin] as a scheming dictator trying to rebuild a repressive empire.
  • Claiming he personally ordered the murder of a number of journalists, and personally ordered a KGB defector to be murdered with radiation poisoning.
  • Frequently citing unsubstantiated rumors he is having an affair with a famous gymnast.
  • Allegations that he has stashed away billions for his personal benefit, without providing evidence.
  • Recent article in newsweek claiming he leads a luxurious and lazy lifestyle, sleeping late.
  • Recent article in NYT focusing on a supposed personal arrogance.
  • Hillary Clinton mentioning in speech after speech that he is a bad guy, a bully, that one must confront him forcefully.
  • Mis-quoting him on his regret about the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • Articles about a supposed super-luxury villa built for him in southern Russia.
  • The over-the top headlines in the western media (they were worst of all in Germany) portraying him personally responsible for murdering the victims of MH17.
  • And soft stuff – magazine covers making him look sinister, monstrous, etc.”

If you are not already aware, I am pleased to introduce you to The Saker, a pseudonym for a high level US military analyst who lives in Florida.  No, it is not me.  Be sure to read Saker’s interview with Russia Insider which is at the bottom of the article:

http://russia-insider.com/en/politics_media_watch/2014/10/24/04-54-03pm/cia_running_defamation_campaign_against_putin

Every day readers ask me what they as individuals can do.  Some possibly are government trolls who hope I will answer “overthrow the government” so that I can be arrested as a terrorist.  My answer to the question is that people are powerless until enough of them are informed.  If people become informed and will take a stand, then the people can force the government back under their control.  If this does not or cannot happen, democracy in America is dead, and our life as a free people protected by the Constitution and law against the power of the state is finished.

Possibly America is already finished and will now finish the rest of the world in its insane neoconservative drive to establish Washington’s hegemony over the entire world.

Russia and China are not going to submit to being Washington’s vassals and India had enough of being a colony under Great Britain. If the crazed hegemons in Washington persist, nuclear war will be the outcome.

Why Obama Rejected Peace With Iran

October 25th, 2014 by Shamus Cooke

How did Obama manage to botch U.S. foreign policy so stunningly? The promising speeches he gave in 2008 earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. But his inspiring words have since been buried in the rubble of Libya, Palestine, Iraq, and Syria. The region that once viewed Obama as a peace messiah now rejects him as a warmonger. And with every new foreign policy zigzag Obama only finds fresh “threats” while never managing to find the path to peace.

Obama would like peace in theory, but doing so requires he shake up his Middle East alliances. The U.S. stands pigeonholed in tightly-wound alliances with the most hated regimes in the world, sandwiched between the global pariah Israel and the brutal totalitarian dictatorship of Saudi Arabia. The other important U.S. ally is war-hungry expansionist Turkey, while the smaller U.S. allies are the remaining Gulf state monarchy dictatorships.

Allies like these make peace impossible. Obama recognizes that these friends restrict the ability of the U.S. to retain regional credibility. Consequently, there has been much speculation about a massive shift in U.S. alliances that hinges on peace with Iran, possibly supplemented by strengthening the alliance with Iraqi Kurds.

Americans and Iranians would celebrate a peace between nations, but this scenario now seems off the table. After “talking” peace with Iran for the first time in decades, Obama chose the warpath yet again.

This decision was finalized recently when the “ISIS deal” was struck between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, again cementing this ugly alliance. In exchange for Saudi Arabia attacking ISIS, the U.S. would commit to war against the Syrian government, which the Saudis want toppled to undermine their rival Iran. The Syrian rebels that Saudi Arabia agreed to train — with $500 million from U.S. taxpayers — will be used against the Syrian government, not to fight ISIS. The U.S. allies in the region understand the war against the Syrian government as a first step to war against Iran.  Even if a nuclear deal is struck between the U.S. and Iran the path to war will have been set.

Economics is a key reason that U.S. allies want Iran destroyed. Iran stands as a competitor for markets and investment throughout the region, and the destruction of Syria and Iran would open up new markets for the vulture-like U.S. allies. The economic oil war between Saudi Arabia and Iran has recently heated up, with Saudi Arabia selling oil at extra low prices to put political pressure on Iran. This, coupled with the ongoing “economic war” that Obama is waging, has the potential to weaken Iran via internal chaos, softening it up to possible invasion if the Syrian government falls.

Iran’s military is another reason the U.S. wants regime change. There are U.S. military bases scattered around the Middle East, though none in Iran, which has a powerful regional military force that patrols the strategic Strait of Hormuz, jointly controlled by Iran and Oman. It’s intolerable for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia that one fifth of the world’s oil production must pass through this Iranian controlled area.

Iran’s regional power is bolstered by its political and religious connections throughout the Middle East. Not only does Shia Muslim Iran exert automatic authority over Shia majority Iraq, but also over Shia Hezbollah and Shia-led Syria. This region-wide dynamic is often referred to as the “Shia Crescent.” There also exist sizable oppressed Shia populations in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, and Turkey that act as intrinsic political thorns in the sides of these Sunni sectarian governments, giving Iran a powerful political base in each case.

For example, when Saudi Arabia recently announced a death sentence for a popular Shia cleric, Iran responded that there would be “consequences” if the sentence were carried out, thus re-enforcing Iran’s self-portrayed position as “defender of the Shia.”

In Yemen there already exists a strong Shia insurgency against the pro-U.S. Sunni government that is using al-Qaeda-linked fighters against the Shia; the results of the conflict will either empower Iran or weaken it.

These regional religious tensions have been exponentially deepened by the U.S.-led coalition against the Syrian government, which has relied on systematic Sunni Islamic sectarianism to attract jihadist fighters and a flood of Sunni Gulf state donations.

The Sunni fundamentalism in Syria — loosely based on the Saudi fundamentalist version of Islam — views Shia Muslims as heretics worthy of death. The executions of Shia in Syria have reverberated throughout the Middle East, acting as an implicit threat to Shia Iran while increasing tensions in the Shia populations of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and beyond. The regional Shia backlash against the Sunni fundamentalists have strengthened Iran’s regional influence, one likely reason why Obama made the peace-killing deal with Saudi Arabia against ISIS and the Syrian government.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are adamant that the U.S. make no peace with Iran. Both sent strong messages after Obama’s 2013 last minute decision not to bomb the Syrian government, and his brief flirtation with Iran.  Saudi Arabia went as far as refusing a seat on the UN Security Council.  Israel protested the decision too, after it had lobbied heavily in the U.S. Congress through AIPAC to ensure the bombing took place.

The Kurdish Question

Turkey has long assisted the U.S. in attempting to topple the Syrian government, and has recently been insisting on a U.S. enforced “no-fly zone” in northern Syria, which would be directed against the Syrian government, since ISIS has no air force. Turkey has no good intentions in Syria, and has long wanted to grab easy oil-rich land for itself; which happens to be where the Kurdish population in Syria resides.

The call to enforce a no-fly zone to “protect the Kurds” on Turkey’s border, if achieved, will be similar to the no-fly zone in Libya — to create a “humanitarian corridor” — that was used instead to create a massive U.S.-led bombing campaign for regime change.

The Kurdish people face the same situation they’ve faced for hundreds of years: other nations have used the Kurds for their own self-interest. The Kurdish people want and deserve their own independent nation state, but they’ve been betrayed countless times in the past and the situation now seems no different. Promises are made and arms given to the “good” pro-U.S. Iraqi Kurds, while across the border in Turkey another faction of Kurds are labeled terrorists and repressed by the government.

Recently, the Kurdish Syrian town on the border of Turkey was invaded by ISIS and militarily defended by the “bad Kurds” of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who are based in Turkey. The Turkish military watched across the border as ISIS relentlessly attacked Kobani, while the Turks used military force to prevent Turkish Kurds from crossing the border into Syria to help defend the Kurdish city.

This reinforced perceptions that ISIS was, in part, a Turkish creation, since Turkey’s border has long been an uncontested point of entry for foreign jihadists to enter Syria. Turkey defended its actions by essentially equating the Kurdish PYD and PKK with ISIS, dismissing all of them as “terrorists.” In Turkey, Kurdish protests erupted against the government’s actions and inactions in Kobani, leaving 40 dead. Protests also occurred in other Kurdish regions including Iran.

Turkey ultimately proved that it fears the Kurds more than ISIS, and further proved that negotiations with its domestic Kurdish population will never result in an independent Kurdistan on any inch of Turkish territory.  Turkey will likewise be violently opposed to any creation of an independent Kurdish state in Iraq or Syria, since it would empower the Turkish Kurds while preventing Turkey from grabbing the oil-rich regions for itself.

This dynamic acts as an impossible barrier for the Obama administration to “re-balance” its Middle East alliances by using the Kurds. No nation with a sizable Kurdish population — Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria — will buy in to a possible U.S. policy of Kurdish statehood, since they would lose the oil-rich territory that the Kurds live on.

Not only would the U.S. lose regional allies by advocating Kurdish independence, but if such a state were to emerge, it would be a weak nation, since the Kurds are already divided into various factions, and thus not strong enough for the U.S. to rely on to achieve regional objectives.

Consequently, Obama feels compelled to continue down the same war-torn path as his predecessors. But Obama’s perspective is colored by his assumption that the United States must remain the regional power in an area thousands of miles from its border, and that U.S. corporations should dominate the oil, banking, weapons selling, and other markets in the region.

The U.S. is long past the point where it can claim that its Middle East goals are “peace, stability, and democracy,” especially after invading and destroying Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now the dirty war against Syria.  The oil, minerals, and other wealth that attracts the U.S. corporations that steer U.S. foreign policy prevent any real lasting peace to be achieved. The logic of corporate America is to crush the competitor by any means necessary.

Peace with Iran and Syria could be achieved if Obama told the world the truth about the above dynamics in the region, and treated Iran and Syria with the respect that an independent nation deserves, while working to curb the power of Israel and Saudi Arabia, who both depend on U.S. financial, military, and political support.

But instead Obama has dug in his heels and re-enforced alliances that demand the continuation of the Syrian war, and after that Iran. A war-shredded region remains on the bloody path to a potentially even wider war, while the billions of U.S. tax dollars funding this genocide will remain unusable for domestic projects like job creation and climate change reduction and preparedness. During this election season both Democrats and Republicans agree on continuing Middle East war.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org).  He can be reached at[email protected]

Prime Minister Steven Harper and the Canadian federal government are using the shooting rampage on Parliament Hill as a justification for imposing surveillance and detainment measures that they were already implementing and going forward with.

On October 22, 2014 a solitary gunman named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (originally Michael Joseph Hall) from the city of Laval, Quebec went on a shooting spree in downtown Ottawa, the capital of Canada.

Firstly, it was reported that there were shootings in the Rideau Centre which from the northern side of the Mackenzie King Bridge faces National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ), the nerve of Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND). This proved to be false or wrong. The gunman had killed a reservist guard in front of the National War Memorial and then made his way northward to Parliament Hill.

Secondly, it was reported that there were multiple gunmen. As a result all government employees were not allowed to enter or leave their respective buildings throughout the interprovincial National Capital Region, which includes the city of Gatineau. Although the police did the right thing in taking precautions to make sure that there were no other gunmen and declined to give explanations, the public was led to believe that there were multiple shooters. This justified the lockdown and suspension of mobility that took place for hours.

A lot of important questions also remain unanswered. NBC News reported on October 8, 2014 that US intelligence officials told it «that Canadian authorities have heard would-be terrorists discussing potential ISIS-inspired ‘knife and gun’ attacks» inside Canada. Canadian officials, however, dismissed the report. Did US intelligence know something that its Canadian counterparts did not know? Why the contradictions?

Another important question is the following: how could an armed gunman that had already started a rampage make his way into the Centre Bloc of the Canadian Parliament unchallenged? Anyone that has been to Parliament Hill knows that there is a relatively large armed presence on the whole area and, specifically, at the entranceway and doors which is comprised of Canada’s national police force (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the local municipal police (the Ottawa Police Services), and two special federal forces (the House of Commons Security Services and Senate Security).

Also, if he was indeed in touch with terrorist groups, how was he communicating with them?

Framing: Media Discourse and Government Policy Links

Complicating the picture is the case of Martin Couture-Rouleau. Couture-Rouleau is a French-Canadian who became a Muslim in 2013. He deliberately hit two Canadian soldiers with his car in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec on October 20, 2014. One of the soldiers would later die.

Couture-Rouleau would be chased by the police and then gunned down after his hit-and-run attack. Although the fatal hit-and-run murder in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu is a criminal act, it has been presented as terrorism and linked to Canada’s involvement in the fighting in the Middle East.

The two attacks respectively in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa have no connection whatsoever, but have been portrayed as part of some coordinated attack plan. The hit-and-run attacks have been added to the narrative of what happened on October 22 to construct the image of an all-out battle. This is part of what sociologists call a moral panic.

What exactly motivated the gunman in Ottawa? It appears that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was not part of some intricate plot against Canada by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). He had a criminal record and appeared to be psychologically deteriorating from increasing narcotics usage. He was troubled by hallucinations and heavy drugs, and became a Muslim relatively recently. According to information coming from people who knew him, it appears that he was upset with «the government» for not leaving him alone. This anger could be tied to the social workers and parole officers in his life and a suffocating feeling of being caught in a downward spiral.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had been staying at the Ottawa Mission, a homeless shelter, between two weeks and a month. Before he went on his rampage, he told other people at the homeless shelter to pray because the world was coming to an end. In this context, it is also important to ask: how a psychologically troubled man staying at the Ottawa Mission homeless shelter could get a weapon?

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, however, has been portrayed to varying degrees as an ISIL member, which is being used to support the narrative that Canadians are under immediate threat from the ISIL by societal actors that sociologists call «moral entrepreneurs». The goals of moral entrepreneurs is to change societal norms, values, laws, and regulations. In this case the moral entrepreneurs want to sell a security agenda.

Although the gunman that attacked Parliament Hill was a French-Canadian (with the last name of his Arab-Canadian father — who had adopted him — and his French-Canadian mother’s maiden name) that spent most of his life as a Roman Catholic  (starting off as a devout Christian and then falling out of practice over the years), he has been portrayed or framed differently. From the start there was a tacit drive to give him an Arab and Muslim persona. Even when his identity was discovered, his Arab-Canadian father who had adopted him was portrayed as his biological father. The adoption of his father’s Arabic last name was tacitly presented as a marker of his Muslim identity, even though he was a Christian when he adopted the Arabic last name alongside his mother’s maiden name for legal reasons.

Very telling was how the media initially described Zehaf-Bibeau. He was referred to as a «Canadian-born man.» This is very deceptive language and discourse that needs to be critically analyzed. When someone is called «Canadian-born» it means that they are not really Canadian, but are merely born in Canada. Referring to a Canadian citizen in these terms conceptually strips them of their Canadian identity and otherizes them as a foreigner that does not belong to the collective.

The Media Reaction

Many Canadians are proud of their media’s reaction and have contrasted it to the sensationalism of US media. Although the media in Canada was much calmer than how the US media would have reacted under similar circumstances if the same incident took place in the United States, it was still emotionally charging the atmosphere with a sense of siege on Ottawa. Headlines and news broadcasts included titles like «Ottawa under attack.» Ottawans were liberally afraid that the ISIL was attacking Canada’s shores.

Speculation about a Middle East connection kept being raised throughout the day. By the time that Prime Minister Harper spoke in the evening, it was clear that he wanted to link the events in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa to the Middle East and the terrorism panic to justify his national  security agenda. When Harper said that Canada would not be intimidated, it was hollow posturing against an enemy being constructed in the imagination of Canadians.

The media coverage, the massive lockdown in Ottawa’s downtown core, and the national measures taken by the federal government created an atmosphere of panic in Ottawa and across Canada. Under this type of atmosphere, people can act unpredictability or abnormally and they are willing to make concessions to the government that they would not normally agree with making. In other words, when societies are gripped by fear many of their members are willing to forfeit their civil liberties and let them be stripped by the authorities.

«The New Normal» and the Striping of Civil Liberties

When the Rideau Centre was stormed by three armed robbers in 2003 and half the local police force’s fleet was sent after two of them who had  escaped, the same panic did not exist nor did the media give it as much urgency or attention. Arguably the danger to safety was much greater then, even though an important national institution was not being attacked.

Legally speaking, Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau are murderers. Instead of treating them as criminals, the politicized and psychologically-charged terms of «terrorism» and «terrorist» are being applied. All the laws to deal with these criminals are in place in Canada, but new legislation is instead being made that also has the potential to be used against legitimate dissenters who oppose government policy.

Moreover, the police are being militarized under the new security paradigm of fighting terrorism. The day after the attack on Parliament Hill, on October 23, the severity of the police reaction to a homeless man crossing a yellow police line is testimony to the change in security habitus and tensions among the police in Ottawa. The measures that the Harper Government wants to normalize also include control and censorship over the internet, the unconstitutional and illegal act of taking citizenship away, and removing the mobility rights granted by the Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms. The last measure has already begun with the confiscation of passports.

All Canadians have the right to leave and enter Canada freely, unless they have committed a crime. The government wants to have the legal authority to confiscate passports on mere suspicion without evidence. In the case of Martin Couture-Rouleau, he was detained and had his passport taken away when he wanted to go to Turkey in June or July 2014. The police could not arrest him and had to let him go, because of his views. «We could not arrest someone for having radical thoughts. It’s not a crime in Canada,» RCMP Superintendent Martine Fontaine explained in an October 21, 2014 press conference.

The position of the RCMP says a lot about where the Harper Government wants to go with its new security paradigm. It wants the ability to arrest people for their views.

Revoking Citizenships?

Even more dangerous is the flirtation with the idea of revoking citizenship. Already unconstitutional precedents are being set for removing it among the so-called Western coalition of countries that consistently pay lip service to democracy and then stand shoulder to shoulder with dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, and Qatar. For example, the British Parliament took steps to remove British-born Asma Al-Assad’s British citizenship in 2012 simply on the account of the fact that she was Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s wife.

The Canadian legal system does not treat everyone equally and all people are not equal in the court system. Non-citizens are disadvantaged compared to Canadian citizens. In this context, the threat of stripping citizenship away is being viewed instrumentally as a way of circumventing the domestic laws and rights protecting citizens. Without these rights the government can indefinitely detain someone without charge, put them on trial in special security courts where they will not even be told what the evidence against them is, and be prevented from accessing a lawyer. This has been the case of some non-citizens living inside Canada that have been held on security certificates for years.

The idea of taking citizenship away is also a political issue being used to politically cater to segments of different societies in various countries that have xenophobic views and dislike certain strata in their societies for various reasons.

Ignoring the Roots of the Problem

There is an old saying that society gets all the criminals it deserves. What is meant by this is that many criminals arise out of a structural problem in society.

It is no coincidence that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau once asked to be detained to fight his cocaine and crack addiction. Both attackers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa were drug users and had psychological problems that needed to be helped. In the case of the gunman in Ottawa, he tried reaching out for help and felt a toxic feeling of hopelessness and not belonging.

Instead of looking overseas or blaming outside forces, Canada needs to look inside. The roots of the problem include the declining social services of Canada that have progressively faced government cutbacks and austerity measures. By blaming the ISIL and the internet the government is also refusing to acknowledge this failure and the marginalization of many members of Canadian society that are not getting the help they need.

The Slippery Slope and the Harper Government’s Dirty Hands

There is a call for Canadians to be vigilant against an inflated terrorist threat from the ISIL. This is why Prime Minister Steven Harper and his government are doing their best to portray the events in Canada as an extension of the front in the Middle East. Redefining criminals as terrorists is helping reinforce this perception. Canadians and the citizens of other countries, however, should be vigilant over their rights and freedoms that took centuries of struggle to obtain.

Changing the criterion for the granting of citizenship is a whole different topic, but its removal is a dangerous and slippery slope. Although the claims are that these type of measures are for the greater good or public safety, the historic record has shown that the suspension of civil liberties has been used for ulterior motives.

As a final note, the same people inflating fears of terrorism in Canada have also supported it overseas. It should never be forgotten that Prime Minister Steven Harper and his cabinet supported the «terrorists» they now claim to oppose. The Harper Government tacitly encouraged Canadians to go fight in places like Libya and Syria for the sake of assisting Washington’s foreign policy of regime change. Canada even armed the militants linked to Al-Qaeda in Libya with drones and weapons in 2011 and allowed private security firms (mercenaries) to assist them. This should not be overlooked when people question how such a state of affairs has arisen.

ADDENDUM 

Important details have emerged that strengthen the case against the Harper Government as intellectually dishonest opportunists.

(1) The Toronto Star originally reported on October 20, 2014 that multiple witnesses confirmed that Martin Couture-Rouleau’s hands were in the air in surrender when he was shot. Here is a passage from the article:

«Witnesses who spoke with the TVA network Monday afternoon said they saw a man emerge from the flipped vehicle that was lying in a ditch on the side of the road. The man had his hands in the air and was walking toward police when at least one officer opened fire on the suspect. The witnesses said they heard up to seven gunshots.»

Later the article would redact this and be re-edited.

(2) A Canadian investigative journalism webpage (FreeThePressCanada.org), noticed that before the scene was secured in Ottawa at 10:54 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) that the US news network CBS reported the following:

«The gunmen has been identified by U.S. officials to CBS News as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian national born in 1982.»

This was many hours before Canadians were even told the gunman’s identity or that he was alone. The CBS article would even be edited to remove Zehaf-Bibeau’s name or any mention that the US government was aware of it. Although security can be cited for this, it can also be looked at politically as part of a means of keeping the public in suspense and allowing a state of shock to reverberate across Canada so that the Harper Government can justify its foreign policy and security initiatives.

A terrible tragedy befell the nation’s capital yesterday, when a shooter opened fire at government sites in Ottawa. A full investigation must begin to assemble the details, as the flames of hysteria are fanned in the public consciousness. The words “terror” and “terrorism” have been tossed around so casually, that nowadays any hardened criminal would classify as a terrorist according to the Harper Government and mainstream news sources. For that matter, political activists who take issue with the government’s policies at home and abroad are referenced in the same manner.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, social media is rife with suspicion that this horrendous event may represent a false flag operation, to assist the government’s dismantling of civil liberty and human rights in the name of war, profit, political posturing and public control.

That’s not to say this wasn’t an act of terrorism. Maybe it was, but surely it’s too early to reach a conclusion when the names of suspects hadn’t been released to hypothesize a motive. Or had they?

At 10:13am EDT, The Globe and Mail‘s Josh Wingrove reported that tactical officers were pointing guns at every parliamentary journalist on site.  (Post since removed from Twitter.)

At 12:11pm EDT, The CBC’s Kady O’Malley reported her group was ordered to leave a local rooftop by police, as they continued to search for a culprit and attempted to secure the area.

By 1:14pm EDT, Ms. O’Malley reported a continuing lockdown that blanketed Ottawa. She was unclear if the event was over, as no further information was available.

While Canadian news personalities were at police gunpoint, American outlets like CBS News and the Associated Press had a full story to sell, complete with the dead shooter’s name.

Before the scene was secure at 10:54am EDT, a joint release was published to identify the culprit. It stated,

“The gunmen has been identified by U.S. officials to CBS News as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian national born in 1982.”

By 4:58pm EDT, the story was edited to remove the shooter’s name, or any mention of the U.S. government’s knowledge.

 

The only problem is no one could update the Google database quick enough with these changes, so the original information still appeared with general search results.

The story was altered again in the evening, when the Canadian government allowed the name of a shooter to be released and American media added law enforcement to their list of official sources.  They also added a middle name, Abdul, to emphasize the suspect’s Islamic ties with an accusation of terrorism.

As members of parliament begin to piece this tragedy together, they’re advised to inquire how American intelligence knew the name of a ‘possible terrorist’ as the mayhem was still unfolding. How did Americans know when Canadians didn’t, and how was this information so widespread that American media and Google had access to distribute, but domestic reporters on the scene did not.

Canadian parliamentary bureau chiefs didn’t possess the same information as their U.S. counterparts and faced the barrel of police guns as a press narrative was provided on their behalf by another country. If this is dubbed an act of terrorism that American sources had knowledge about to pre-report, then why weren’t steps taken to prevent the violence?

Many have questioned how a gunman could enter parliament with a rifle unnoticed, in spite of the massive security and busy lineups. Some are calling for greater state police control and warmed to relinquishing their Charter rights, in an effort to fight the new war on domestic terrorism. Something has to justify police militarization since the War on Drugs has been transformed into a lucrative product of capitalism.

The Liberal Party of Canada campaigned against the Harper Government’s ‘politics of fear’, but when they tasted the fear for real this time, the opponents relented and threw their support behind the Prime Minister. The party press release was carefully worded and commendable under the circumstances, but it does resort to the word “terrorize” and submits to the government’s long term agenda.

All Canadians who pay attention to the news are acutely aware of a creeping police state and the loss of privacy rights in the tradeoff. In fact, one Liberal MP, Joyce Murray, proposed Bill C-622 to gain oversight of CSIS and CSEC, so Canadian law enforcement can’t overstep its bounds to the degree that’s been revealed through Snowden leaks.

This shooting event also occurs at a time when the Mayor of Ottawa is seeking re-election, with a history of accommodating CSEC as a business partner.

The journalist who brought these Snowden leaks to light is in town to promote his new book about the overreaching powers of a surveillance state. Glenn Greenwald will be speaking just a few blocks from Parliament Hill, in the same neighbourhood that’s under lockdown. It’s purely coincidental that he wrote a scathing piece about the Canadian government and co-dependent media’s abuse of the word “terrorism” a day earlier.

Meanwhile, the NDP noticed a different terrorism anomaly regarding the violence in Quebec on the day before as well. The Prime Minister’s Office was accused of planting a foreboding comment in Question Period, that preempted police reports of a “possible terror attack against soldiers”.

Public Safety Minster Steve Blaney reported the Monday event was “clearly linked to terrorist ideology”, but the Toronto Star reported multiple witnesses saw the suspect with his hands in the air, when at least one police officer opened fire. They also say a knife was “lodged into the ground near where the incident occurred”.

Well, that’s what the original story by Allan Woods, Bruce Campion-Smith, Joanna Smith, Tonda MacCharles and Les Whittington stated. A syndicated copy had to be located at the Cambridge Times, because a newer, edited version at the Toronto Star appeared dramatically altered by Tuesday.

Forsaking journalism ethics, the Toronto Star surprised industry watchers by editing this story without providing a notice to reflect the consequential changes. Now the article claims the suspect was an Islamic radical, who emerged from the vehicle with a knife in his hands. There is no mention of any witnesses who saw his hands in the air and the knife was no longer lodged in the ground. All information from witnesses was removed without explanation, or apology for reporting incorrectly at the onset if indeed the witnesses were mistaken. The French press at TVA still values the eye witness accounts, but no English speaking media reflects these reports from the scene.

This TorStar article was more than edited and qualifies as being replaced entirely, having lost its tone, facts and spirit from the original published version. It was radically changed to support the government’s narrative and censored independent sources that previously appeared, replacing them with quotes from the Harper administration that focus on the suspect’s motive for Islamic terrorism.

If it wasn’t for smaller newspapers syndicating the Toronto Star‘s original content, there would be no proof of the first comprehensive version. Professional journalists don’t normally condone editors changing the spirit of their work without a disclaimer, especially when five reporters collaborated to produce the same entry. The history created by print newspapers also couldn’t be erased with the click of a button, before the media migrated to internet based reporting that appears to lack mechanisms of accountability.

These two examples oppose each other due to the disparity between facts and there is no footnote to reflect this glaring incongruency. The Toronto Star has been a leader in journalism ethics and wouldn’t alter published pieces to discredit their own reporting without a reason being provided. That is, until they and a bevy of established journalists who remained silent, had a taste of the politics of fear.

It remains to be seen if the New Democratic Party will throw its support behind the Harper Government, as Mulcair deliberates about a public statement that is yet to be released. NDP caucus members who were barricaded in an office describe a loss of safety and feelings of fear though.

Any reasonable person should be afraid when gunshots are flying from hostile individuals, but will the politics of fear be allowed to dictate a terrorism narrative in place of the facts? The Opposition’s privacy and ethics critic, MP Charlie Angus, also describes gunshots around 10am EDT, while American media had solved the event by 10:54am EDT and members of parliament were still being detained without access to the same information.

If the U.S government could assess a terrorist attack on Canadian soil before the Canadian government was aware, then why was it not prevented? On the same token, if the Canadian government was in the middle of mayhem, then how did Americans obtain information that wasn’t available to affected bureaucrats from their own intelligence and law enforcement agencies? What powers does America have over Canada that Canada doesn’t have itself? If a shooting on government property can be solved before it’s even finished, then why wasn’t CSIS, CSEC, DHS and the NSA capable of early intervention? After all, the Wednesday shooter was already placed on the government’s watch list.

The timing is incredible and may very well be motivated by the war against ISIS/ISIL. Canada shed its peacekeeping status for more aggressive combat that generates profits for the Canada Pension Plan and Nigel Wright, with the potential to invite ideological backlash. This is not disputed. An unbiased investigation is required, but the public should be patient for confirmed, judicial facts; bearing in mind political motives, various narratives and the race to sell fear.

On the very day terrorism was alleged in Quebec, the Harper Government passed Bill C-13 without much notice from the peanut gallery. Until Monday, Bill C-13 was one of the most controversial pieces of legislation that was presented under the guise of cyber-bullying, but even the mother of Amanda Todd spoke against the exploitation of her daughter’s death as a tool to create a warrantless surveillance state in this vein.

Due to terrorism accusations made by the Harper Government that took up most of the day, no mainstream news reported the bill’s passage later in the same day. CBC was the only major outlet to mention the bill on Monday, but they neglected to note the House of Commons vote or passage of this legislation at any point in the story. They presented the information as incremental progress while failing to report its successful, parliamentary completion.

This too presents a problem with ethical journalism, but CBC has seen its fair share of challenges since the Harper Government appointed ten Conservative donors to the board of directors, with influence over the public broadcaster’s direction.

Regardless, the only mention of Bill C-13 passing arises from a Saanich News editorial. The smaller publication urges everyone to be vigilant as this legislation completes the last step of approval (ascent) with senate, that is dominated by a Conservative majority.

Surprisingly, the senate passed a first reading of Bill C-13 the very next day. It accomplished that hurdle expediently on Tuesday, but this wasn’t reported by any source whatsoever. Senators then scheduled a second reading in two days’ time, on Thursday, October 23, 2014. The only lapse in this process was the Wednesday parliamentary shooting.

By today Bill C-13 may see the quickest passage through any bureaucracy in the democratic world, without the public or media noticing and while legislators are reeling from the ominous smell of gun smoke. Neither the parliamentary reporters who stared down the barrel of a police gun on Tuesday, nor the members of parliament who were barricaded, would be rested very well.

Plus there’s an RCMP press conference about the Wednesday shooting that will surely distract attention from the new law. In the days ahead, it’s likely they’ll tout Bill C-13 as a way to catch terrorists, also under the guise of cyberbulling and even though being watch listed with preexisting surveillance powers didn’t prevent Michael Zehaf-Bibeau from taking action.

This brings us to what’s at stake. The taboo nobody wants to evaluate. The decision senators will have to make while recovering from a psychologically traumatic breach of personal security.

We’re talking about public data surveillance, or what closely resembles stalking.

There are plenty of ambiguous words used to describe big data monitoring, but few understand what it means or how deeply it’s abused behind the sealed doors at CSEC. Warrantless internet surveillance has the potential to track a target’s GPS movements with updating by the minute. It can penetrate the entire chain of communication between an individual and their contacts, including strangers who make reference to the target by any degree of separation across the world wide web. The technology has predictive behaviour capabilities. Every citizen caught in this widespread dragnet is psychologically assessed through language semantics and assigned a persuasion, to determine if any of them presents a public relations issue, or if the original target has too much influence to garner support for their business, political and/or social beliefs.

Five Eyes governments have established media surveillance programs specifically. They surveil news topics and journalists, to monitor the reporter’s effect on public perception. When anyone posts a news link on any form of social media, all comments are collected and ranked for government and law enforcement dissemination. Canada spent $20 million and hired 3,300 staff to spy on journalists and political opponents since 2012. The European Commission and United States does the same, in this vacuum of nonexistent legislation to protect the public’s privacy in the modern age. Instead of updating constitutional rights to reflect modern technology, they’ve crafted legislation like Bill C-13 that revokes those rights entirely.

This goes beyond the confines of metadata and only the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario has taken up the cause, likely to the chagrin of political parties that have begun to use similar technology against their opponents during elections. Whatever good this intrusive spying could accomplish is outweighed by the bad. Michael Sona only possessed a list of phone numbers and intentions, let alone mapping of the entire public’s thoughts and updates on the location of political foes by the minute.

If anyone physically tailed a political candidate, volunteer or supporter every minute of the day and night, or attempted to record every one of their exchanges, it would be considered criminal harassment. If that person also tailed every contact who spoke about their target and psychologically assessed them to create charts, it would surpass Hollywood’s fascination with the complex plotting of serial offenders.

But this isn’t fiction and warrantless internet surveillance can be used to harm a civilian, based on their political beliefs. In the United States it’s already used to surveil judges in addition to journalists, adding a difficult challenge to the essence and appearance of democracy. The dialogue is strictly controlled to conceal these uses and they’re couched in the terrorist argument, to discourage the public from searching deeper.

The Harper Government was first to import these tactics to Canada. Then the Liberals and NDP followed suit, claiming they’d be at a disadvantage for electoral purposes. As the public was being shocked into the idea of domestic terrorism, Bill C-13 passed without discussion to transform Canada into a surveillance state that permits this behaviour outright.

Residents have been told if they don’t break the law there is nothing to fear. This subverts any purpose for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and replaces that document with a Trust Me clause from the government. It replaces the core legal relationship between citizens and law enforcement with unrestrained power and no need for oversight to justify its use. It imperils evidentiary laws that are designed to protect the innocent.

Perhaps lawyers have been quiet about this issue because one of the government surveillance contractors also controls their Quick Law program, as well as court and university databases. Perhaps professors have been quiet because they hire these surveillance companies to monitor their science and research fellows at a prominent Canadian university that partners with CSEC.

To hear what this technology and warrantless surveillance can do to ordinary families when abused, a comprehensive interview with an affected Canadian journalist can be heard at the season premier of The View Up Here. This clip begins at 3:15 (to avoid some technical issues) and surprising revelations develop as the process and ramifications of surveillance are explained by example. The interview further details government censorship of the press in North America, with international consequences. It’s two hours long and worth the investment if the public wishes to retain its right to have beliefs or join like-minded groups with one another.

Beyond the dry language of legislation, this is how the words of Bill C-13 can be utilized by an aggressive government, law enforcement and the Five Eyes intelligence community. Suggested reading provides the history and development of technology and related policies in Canada, the United States and Europe. It was becoming law in Canada when the airwaves were filled with terrorism accusations and the government expected no one to notice. It also relates to media surveillance that could explain a few altered stories, removed posts and political misunderstanding within the party apparatus itself.

The Washington neo-cons and their allies in the US State Department and Obama Administration are clearly furious with China, as they are with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. As both Russia and China in recent years have become more assertive about defining their national interests, and as both Eurasian powers draw into a closer cooperation on all strategic levels, Washington has decided to unleash havoc against Beijing, as it has unleashed the Ukraine dis-order against Russia and Russian links to the EU. The flurry of recent deals binding Beijing and Moscow more closely—the $400 billion gas pipeline, the BRICS infrastructure bank, trade in rubles and renminbi by-passing the US dollar—has triggered Washington’s response. It’s called the Hong Kong ‘Umbrella Revolution’ in the popular media.

In this era of industrial globalization and out-sourcing of US industry to cheap-labor countries, especially to China, it’s worth taking note of one thing the USA—or more precisely Washington DC and Langley, Virginia—are producing and exporting to China’s Hong Kong. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China has been targeted for a color revolution, one that has been dubbed in the media the Umbrella Revolution for the umbrellas that protesters use to block police tear gas.

The “umbrellas” for Hong Kong’s ongoing Umbrella Revolution are made in Washington. Proof of that lies not only in the obscenely-rapid White House open support of Occupy Central just hours after it began, following the same model they used inUkraine. The US State Department and NGOs it finances have been quietly preparing these protests for years. Consider just the tip of the Washington Hong Kong “democracy” project.

Same dirty old cast of characters…

With almost by-now-boring monotony, Washington has unleashed another of its infamous Color Revolutions. US Government-steered NGOs and US-trained operatives are running the entire Hong Kong “Occupy Central” protests, ostensibly in protest of the rules Beijing has announced for Hong Kong’s 2017 elections. The Occupy Central Hong Kong protest movement is being nominally led by a 17-year-old student, Joshua Wong, who resembles a Hong Kong version of Harry Potter, a kid who was only just born the year Britain reluctantly ended its 99-year colonial occupation, ceding the city-state back to the Peoples’ Republic. Wong is accompanied in Occupy Central by a University of Minnesota-educated hedge fund money man for the protests, Edward Chin; by a Yale University-educated sociologist, Chan Kin-man; by a Baptist minister who is a veteran of the CIAs 1989 Tiananmen Square destabilization, Chu Yiu-ming; and by a Hong Kong University law professor, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, or Benny Tai.

Behind these Hong Kong faces, the US State Department and its favorite NGO, the US Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy (NED), via its daughter, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), is running the Occupy Central operation. Let’s look behind the nice façade of peaceful non-violent protest for democracy and we find a very undemocratic covert Washington agenda.

Start with Chu Yiu-ming, the Baptist minister chosen to head Occupy Central. The most reverend Chu Yiu-ming is a founder and sits on the executive committee of a Hong Kong NGO– Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM). HKHRM as they openly admit on their website, is mainly financed by the US State Department via its neo-conservative Color Revolution NGO called National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

They state their purpose: “HKHRM briefs the press, the United Nations, local and overseas governments and legislative bodies on Hong Kong human rights issues both orally and through written reports.”  In their 2013 Annual Report, the NED reports giving Rev. Chu Yiu-ming’s HK Human Rights Monitor a grant of US$ 145,000. You can buy a boatload of umbrellas for that. Chu’s HKHRM also works with another NED-financed creation, the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA).

When Occupy Central top honchos decided to (undemocratically) name the very reverend Chu as leader of Occupy Central this past January, 2014, Chu said it was because “I have more connections with different activist groups, and experience in large-scale social campaigns.” He could have named NED as activist group and the CIA’s 1989 Tiananmen Square as a ‘large-scale social campaign,’ to be more specific. The Baptist preacher admitted that he was named de facto leader of Occupy Central by two other leading organizers of the civil disobedience movement, Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man, who wanted him “to take up” the role.

Benny Tai is also familiar with the US State Department. Tai, law professor at the University of Hong Kong and co-founder of Hong Kong Occupy Central, works with the Hong Kong University Centre for Comparative and Public Law which receives grants from the NED subsidiary, National Democratic Institute for projects like Design Democracy Hong Kong. The Centre Annual Report states, “With funding assistance from the National Democratic Institute, the Design Democracy Hong Kong website was built to promote a lawful and constructive bottom-up approach to constitutional and political reform in Hong Kong.” On its own website, NDI describes its years-long Hong Kong law project, the legal backdrop to the Occupy demands which essentially would open the door for a US-picked government in Hong Kong just as Victoria Nuland hand-picked a US-loyal coup regime in Ukraine in February 2014. The NDI boasts,

The Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL) at the University of Hong Kong, with support from NDI, is working to amplify citizens’ voices in that consultation process by creating Design Democracy Hong Kong (www.designdemocracy.hk), a unique and neutral website that gives citizens a place to discuss the future of Hong Kong’s electoral system

The Hong Kong wunderkind of the Color Revolution Washington destabilization, 17-year-old student, Joshua Wong, founded a Facebook site called Scholarism when he was 15 with support from Washington’s neo-conservative National Endowment for Democracy via its left branch, National Democratic Institute and NDI’s NDItech project. And another Occupy Central leading figure, Audrey Eu Yuet recently met with Vice President Joe Biden. Hmmmm.

Cardinal Zen and cardinal sin…

Less visible in the mainstream media but identified as one of the key organizers of Occupy Central is Hong Kong’s Catholic Church Cardinal Bishop Emeritus, Joseph Zen. Cardinal Zen according to the Hong Kong Morning Post, is playing a key role in the US-financed protests against Beijing’s authority. Cardinal Zen also happens to be the primary Vatican adviser on China policy. Is the first Jesuit Pope in history, Pope Francis, making a US-financed retry at the mission of Society of Jesus founder (and, incidentally, the Pope’s real namesake) Francis Xavier, to subvert and take over the Peoples’ Republic of China, using Hong Kong as the Achilles Heel?

Vice President Joe Biden, whose own hands are soaked with the blood of thousands of eastern Ukraine victims of the neo-nazi civil war; Cardinal Zen; Reverend Chu; Joshua Wong; Benny Tai and the neo-conservative NED and its NDI and a bevy of other State Department assets and NGO’s too numerous to name here, have ignited a full-blown Color Revolution, the Umbrella Revolution. The timing of the action, a full two years before the Hong Kong 2017 elections, suggests that some people in Washington and elsewhere in the west were getting jumpy.

The growing Eurasian economic space of China in conjunction with Putin’s Russia and their guiding role in creating a peaceful and very effective counter-pole to Washington’s New World (dis-)Order, acting through organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS, is the real target of their dis-order. That is really quite stupid of them, but then, they are fundamentally stupid people who despise intelligence.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

Russia Offers Support to Palestinian Statehood

October 24th, 2014 by Oleg Yegorov

Image: National Jordanian and Israeli flags are seen on the Naharayim bridge on the border between Israel and Jordan north-eastern Israel October 22, 2014. Source: Reuters

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations has announced that Russia will back a resolution calling for a Palestinian state, if one is presented. “Russia will support the resolution establishing the terms for Israeli withdrawal and the creation of the Palestinian state if it is presented to the UN Security Council,” Churkin said. “If the resolution is presented, we will vote for it.”

His comments come after Palestine’s delegation to the UN decided not to present a resolution on statehood to the UN Security Council on Oct. 21, as was expected. The expected resolution was believed to lay out concrete terms for the creation of a Palestinian state and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, by 2016.

Churkin’s promise to support Palestine did not come as a surprise. Russia has long supported the idea of creating an independent Palestinian state, and Russian diplomats have often expressed this position publicly. At a meeting in Cairo this month on rebuilding in the Gaza Strip, Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian President’s Special Representative for the Middle East, said: “We believe that the Palestinian cause is just, and that the Palestinian people have the right to self-determination, to create their own state.”

Russia’s support for Palestine raises questions of the country’s relationship with Israel. Russian speakers make up one-fifth of Israel’s population and Israel not only declined to support the West’s economic sanctions against Russia, but also intends to increase its supplies of agricultural products to Russia.

Russian experts agree that Russia takes little risk in supporting a resolution for Palestinian statehood because the chances of Palestinian statehood becoming a reality are slim.

“Israel understands that Russia supports Palestine. Almost the entire world supports Palestine, so what?” said Georgy Mirsky, a research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“It is all a game, because the real situation in Palestine, the one on the ground and not in the UN corridors, does not change. Israel will not permit the creation of a full-fledged Palestinian state for many reasons, among which are the problem with the status of East Jerusalem, the issue of the settlements, the problem of Israeli troops of the border with Jordan and the millions of refugees who are ready to pour into Palestinian territories.”

Churkin also believes that the resolution, should it be introduced, has little chance of being passed. “The chances of the resolution being adopted are slim, since such a resolution will most likely be vetoed by the United States,” Churkin said in an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Grigory Kosach, a professor of history at the Russian State University of the Humanities Institute, thinks that Russia’s willingness to support the Palestinian resolution is a step in the right direction, since Russia has not always been able to successfully maintain a balance in its relations with Palestine and Israel:

“Russia indeed has excellent relations with Israel and if we look at how Russia’s position on the creation of the Palestinian state has varied throughout the years, we will see that sometimes economic gains from cooperation with Israel prevailed over the political advantages in supporting Palestine. Of course it’s good that now Russia is supporting the initiative to create a Palestine state, but how realistic is this project?”

Kosach said.

In his opinion, the recent statements of support for Palestine by Russian officials are intended to irritate the U.S. “In many ways this move aims to annoy the US and also, by supporting Palestine, Russia strengthens its political standings in the Arab countries.”

Image: The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is currently deployed to the area supporting maritime security operations, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, and theater security cooperation efforts in the 5th Fleet AOR. (Photo: AFP/ HANDOUT / US NAVY / MC2 Scott Fenaroli)

The Iraqi people and their political leadership were optimistic when the United States first announced its intention to form an international military coalition to assist Iraq in its war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). At the time, everyone assumed that a solution was close and that Western jet fighters will wipe out ISIS. They all believed that the Obama administration will be Iraq’s savior from terrorism.

Since the beginning of the military campaign on August 7, the coalition’s warplanes have not launched any significant strikes on the Iraqi territories that changed the course of the war against ISIS or blocked the supply road linking militants in Syria’s Raqqa to those in Iraq’s Mosul.

According to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, the coalition costs Iraq over $6.7 million a day, but it has yet to find an opening that would enable Iraqi ground forces to recapture regions under ISIS control.

Further proving the inefficacy of the airstrikes, ISIS recently mobilized 2,000 militants in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. They boarded hundreds of cars and brandished their guns as they held military parades, even though coalition planes were carrying out daily raids on the north. The planes have seemingly missed the large crowds.

From August 8 to September 2, the sorties of coalition planes have cost the Iraqi government $260 million, representing the first payment of the total cost of the aerial campaign on Iraq and Syria so far, estimated at $424 million. The remainder is to be settled in the coming period. It is worth noting that the use of one F-16 jet for an hour costs about $24,000.

However, making these payments contradicts with the declarations of Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari who affirmed in the past that “Iraq will not pay anything to the international coalition for its military campaign in Iraq,” adding that “the participating countries will will be responsible for these costs.” This suggests that the Iraqi government was not aware of the details of the coalition’s agreement signed in New York.

Ali al-Saray, a journalist keeping track of the coalition’s strikes said

“the international air campaign only postponed ISIS’ advancement, and with time they started to realize how hard it would be to settle the matter after the militants changed their techniques and hid among civilians, then somewhat stopped their public parades.”

Speaking to Al-Akhbar, Saray indicated that

“Iraq, its allies in the region and in the world, and the parties that want to get rid of ISIS are realizing the need to consider new strategies in the fight against the group. This is why everyone has started to talk about a Sunni ‘spearhead’ fighting an organization mostly supported by Sunnis.”

“The [anti-ISIS coalition’s] air force will never be able to end the war on its own, it can never win it, and it may go on for many years,” Saray added, calling to “come up with a new strategy which would require some forces on the ground, especially a Sunni force that has to take the decision to oust ISIS.”

Political analyst Walid al-Sheikh told Al-Akhbar that “with ISIS’ expansion in different regions, the aerial aspirations of the international coalition have not risen to the expectations.”

“ISIS’ structure was not shaken despite the claims by the US military command about the importance of these airstrike” Sheikh said, further explaining that “the latter (the US command) may be using this as a strategy to mount pressure on [Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar] al-Abadi so he approves a ground incursion as a fait accompli due to the decline of the Iraqi military.”

Western media, which reported on the international coalition with great fanfare, has remained quiet about the results of the coalition’s strikes that were not even revealed by the Iraqi military forces. Meanwhile, the Obama administration and Pentagon officials only talk about the financial costs.

As a matter of fact, officials in Washington have admitted that the airstrikes have only accomplished 10 percent of the set plan, suggesting that there is a long term strategy which will take at least one year, as was previously announced by President Barack Obama. At the time, Obama’s declarations contradicted former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s assertion that ISIS will be crushed within a short period of time.

Ever since the onset of the aerial campaign, coalition aircrafts have focused on the border region between Mosul under ISIS control and Iraq’s Kurdistan in the north, raising suspicions that the West is actually worried about its own interests and is not fighting terrorism, especially since some threatening rallies have emerged near Baghdad, but the West has so far refrained from targeting them.

A source knowledgeable about the meetings held by US advisers in Baghdad revealed to Al-Akhbar that “ the coalition made some errors during airstrikes which led to the destruction of weapons and other equipment destined to the Peshmerga and union forces, costing about $5 million.”

Pro-government paramilitary groups also announced that coalition planes had targeted them by mistake.

The UK government’s highly unpopular ‘pilot’ badger culls have just come to the end of the second year of a four-year programme. Even without the independent oversight, monitoring and auditing by an Independent Expert Panel (IEP), discarded by the government after last year’s slating by the IEP, the culling has been as much of a failure as last year, despite the National Farmers Union (NFU) hailing it as a ‘success’.

But the NFU has been steering this policy of slaughtering our badgers for years.  Ever since the first bovine TB-infected badger was found in 1971, to the surprise of animal scientists, farmers who dislike the controls and testing of cattle that can reduce the incidence of bTB have had something other than farming practices to blame.

Strict testing and bio-security controls had almost eradicated bTB by the late 1960s, and complacency set in.  The very actions that had brought the disease under control were dropped.  Once badgers came into the picture farmers started to cull them.  To their annoyance in 1973 the badger was given some, but not enough, protected status.  Even so, in 1975 ‘strategic culling operations’ were being carried out by gassing.  This was banned in 1980 but the killing went on.  Unfortunately, so did the rise in TB.

The NFU, for commercial reasons, doesn’t like vaccination as a method of tackling serious disease in farm animals.  It blocked the vaccination against foot and mouth disease in the disastrous 2001 outbreak.  MP Eric Martlew, speaking in the parliamentary debate on FMD in April 2001, said “I believe that no matter what the Government say, they will not persuade the NFU to accept vaccination.”

Big farmers can’t successfully export vaccinated cattle.  It would have cost them over £250 million a year in lost trade.  But as a result of their veto millions of animals were slaughtered; farmers lost their herds, their livelihoods and their lives through suicide.  It cost the country billions.  Even worse, TB testing was dropped during the outbreak and afterwards farms were restocked with untested cattle.  The incidence of bovine TB rocketed.  Would that have happened if the NFU had allowed vaccination?

And of course, they blamed the badgers and the NFU lobbied for a cull.

In 2005 the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) produced a consultation report on badger culling.  In its introductory paragraph it says:

“The Government has decided further measures should be implemented now to reduce cattle to cattle spread.  But international experience indicates it is not possible to contain and eradicate bovine TB if its background presence in wildlife is left unaddressed.”

Both Defra and the NFU have been selling the ‘international’ line unremittingly.  Killing wildlife comes before any other option.  The RSPCA picked the whole of Defra’s report to pieces:

“The RSPCA is… concerned that there is a lack of balance in the document. Shortly after its publication the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) stated in an open letter to stakeholders that the paper was inaccurate in important aspects.  The advice of the Science Advisory Council (SAC) – set up by Defra to provide expert, independent and published advice on science policy and strategy – is ignored. Additionally, very selective and misleading use is made of scientific material. The end result is one that appears to be designed to advance a cause rather than a balanced document and… calls into question Defra’s commitment to evidence-based policy making.”

In addition, why had Defra chosen to ‘consult’ with so few bodies (with some emphasis on agri-business) while ignoring major environmental and wildlife organisations like itself?  For each of the questions posed by Defra, the RSPCA has negative responses.  And then the NFU raises its head again:

“The RSPCA is concerned… that a decision about a badger killing policy may be introduced because of “the need to win co-operation with farmers on introducing movement testing and compensation, and the wider objective of industry, over time, bearing a progressively greater share of the costs of bTB controls.” This could imply that badger killing might be introduced as a sort of quid pro quo in relation to the farming industry rather than on grounds of the wider issues of sustainability and scientific evidence.  This concern is reinforced by the policy decision by the NFU not to co-operate with Defra on pre-movement testing until the government announces a cull of badgers and the recent Defra announcement to delay the introduction of such testing.”(my emphasis)

Reporting to the Parliamentary Committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Professor John Bourne, head of the ISG, said:

“You ask how the scientific information has been handled by the media and by Defra and I’m bound to say I don’t think it’s been handled terribly well…I was obliged to write to Ministers complaining that the scientific information presented in the exercise was inaccurate and also stating that two of their proposed culling proposals would in fact make the situation worse.  I’m sad to say, yes, I don’t think they [Defra] have done a very good job of it and one of our comments in the final report is that Defra do seem to be unable to handle scientific data and translate that in to policy… it would be really helpful if Defra embraced the science and stimulated discussions with the NFU based on the science to develop science-based policies”.

The NFU did not get its badger cull.  In 2008 the Environment Minister Hilary Benn told Parliament:

“Having listened carefully to a wide range of views from scientists, farming, veterinary and wildlife organisations, and many others, and having considered all the evidence, I have decided that while such a cull might work, it might also not work. It could end up making the disease worse if it was not sustained over time or delivered effectively, and public opposition, including the unwillingness of some landowners to take part, would render this more difficult.

“I do not think it would be right to take this risk. Therefore – and in line with the advice I have received from the Independent Scientific Group – our policy will be not to issue any licences to farmers to cull badgers for TB control, although we remain open to the possibility of revisiting this policy under exceptional circumstances, or if new scientific evidence were to become available.”

Instead, the government put in place 6 badger vaccination schemes along with pre-movement testing and cattle control regimes.  But the NFU didn’t give up.  They threatened a judicial review and other legal actions over Benn’s ban on badger culling saying, “we remain committed to supporting a challenge to what we believe is an unlawful restriction on producers’ ability to take action to prevent the spread of TB on their farms.”

I like the word ‘producers’.  This is about big business, not small struggling farms.  And note, they also, in partnership with the pro-hunting group Countryside Alliance, made a deal with the Tories: give us the badger cull and we will give you the rural vote in the 2010 general election.

In 2009 Wales took the decision not to cull its badgers but instead to put in place annual testing for cattle and strict bio-security and movement controls – with the result that they have cut their incidence of bTB by 50%, something the Welsh branch of the NFU tries to deny.

Following the election in 2010 almost the first thing the Tory-led coalition government did was to cancel 5 of the 6 areas for badger vaccination trials and start planning to kill badgers, despite the lack of any new scientific evidence that culling was the answer.  The guns would have preferred to get out and start shooting straight away, but culls take time to organise, particularly if the public are going to object. Defra and Natural England, which would be issuing the licences, had to tread with care.

While Defra did its best to make the whole exercise look scientific, with monitoring and setting up the Independent Expert Panel to audit the results, the NFU set up a culling company for each area where the killing would take place.  There was much talk of ‘good marksmen’ etc.  Unfortunately, men with guns do not necessarily equate with fieldcraft and accurate knowledge of badger numbers.

Culling was supposed to start in 2012 but had to be postponed.  There were too many badgers, too much rain, not enough policemen and farmers couldn’t be confident of being ready in time.  There were more arguments over badger numbers the following year, ending up with the culling period being extended because the guns couldn’t kill enough, prompting the now-famous quote from the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson; “the badgers have moved the goalposts.”

And all this while, the NFU, aided by Paterson, kept repeating that all badgers in TB ‘hot spots’ had TB, all TB in cattle was down to badgers, and that the only way to halt TB in cattle was to kill the badgers.  Oh yes, and bovine TB is the greatest threat to farming, out of control and getting worse each year, this despite Defra figures showing that, little by little, TB was decreasing.  It was really not the problem it was hyped up to be.

It was not surprising that, with no other advice from the NFU and Defra, most farmers were persuaded to support the culling and hate the people protesting against it.  And while it truly is devastating for a farmer to see his herd succumb to TB, the NFU never mentions the larger-by-far number of cattle slaughtered because of lameness or mastitis.  And Defra has stopped recording those figures.  Do they not want to tackle the issue of poor husbandry?

When the culls finally started in 2013, the then NFU President Peter Kendal said:

“I am confident however that through the combined efforts of farmers, the NFU and government over the last year to illustrate the impact TB has on farms, and the scientific basis for badger control, more people than ever recognise the need to address the disease in badgers.”

But the public weren’t swayed by the ‘scientific basis’ then, and even less so now.  Almost 90% of people are against any more culling.  And they were right.  Last year’s culls failed on numbers and humaneness and also, I think, on safety.  So what does Defra do?  It lowers the number of badgers to be killed this year but gives huge margins, between 316 and 1,776 for Somerset, and between 391 to 1,292 for Gloucester, figures that were dismissed as ‘rubbish’ by many experts.  To be on the safe side Somerset’s target was 316 and Gloucester’s 615  And just to be sure of ‘success’ it gets rid of any independent oversight and auditing.

It didn’t work.  On the day the culls ended up pops Andrew Guest of the NFU with this statement:

“I think generally we are pretty pleased with how it has gone. In large parts of the area we are seeing very few badgers left on the ground now. Unfortunately there are one or two areas where we haven’t been able to be as effective as we’d like to because of the actions of protesters but largely we are very happy with it.”

In Devon, Dorset and Cornwall they had been busy planning for badger culling next year.  The NFU wants to make the culling areas bigger so that there aren’t enough anti-cull people to get in the way.  Everyone was gung-ho for more killing.

Unfortunately, the Guardian published figures leaked to Team Badger by someone working for Natural England – in Somerset they managed to kill 315 badgers and in Gloucester the total killed was 253.  Defra has neither confirmed nor denied the leaked figures. Unlike last year, no extension has been allowed ‘for political reasons’.

The word is that, with two failures in two years, the culls will not be rolled out to other areas; and the current Environment Secretary Liz Truss, who has been very silent about the culls, has reportedly been told to abandon the culls until after next year’s election.  The Labour Party has already committed to scrapping the culls if it comes into power.  Politicians have to take account of the fact that the hated badger cull is among the top 5 issues that constituents contact their MPs about.

That all went well then.  The NFU blamed the protestors.  Some of the guns had blamed really good weather with bright moonlit nights when they couldn’t use their infra-red sights.  I’m surprised they didn’t blame the badgers.  It really is time someone put the NFU out to grass.  Both farmers and wildlife deserve better.

And if you haven’t quite got the message – Defra has its headquarters in Smith Square, London.  The NFU’s London headquarters are in…  Smith Square, London.

A small private plane, a Falcon 50 en route to Paris, crashed on takeoff Tuesday night at the Vnukovo airport. Witnesses claim the pilots did not notice a snowplow on the runway. Everyone on board was killed – the two pilots, a flight attendant, and the sole passenger, Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of Total, France’s largest oil company.

Sources from the Russian Investigative Committee report that they are currently weighing four potential explanations for the accident: pilot error, dispatcher error, misconduct on the part of the snowplow driver, or weather conditions – some parts of the Moscow region were shrouded in fog that night.

The investigation released a statement claiming that the snowplow driver, Vladimir Martynenko, had been intoxicated. The plane crash at Vnukovo occurred when the wing of the private Falcon 50 jet collided with the snowplow, which, according to the media “was sitting at the intersection of two runways, in a no-access area.” Sources from various media outlets familiar with the details of the crash reported: “The captain of the aircraft decided to go ahead and try to complete his takeoff. But he did not have enough speed. The front wheel of the business jet’s chassis clipped the snowplow, which led to the catastrophe.”

But, according to information from the lawyers and the airport service bureau, the driver, Mr. Martynenko, was very experienced, with a long work history, and was completely sober. He had also passed the usual, mandatory medical inspection before he began his shift, which was documented by the doctor in his journal, and on the basis of which he received his driving log from the mechanic and then began his shift.

Soon however the Russian Investigative Committee posted a video from the scene of the crash on its website and stated, “it is obvious that what happened was not caused by a horrific, tragic confluence of events, as airport spokesmen are trying to present it, but by the criminal negligence of officials who could not properly synchronize the work of the airport employees.”

The voice and parametric flight-data recorders were removed from the Falcon, and French investigators are expected to arrive in Moscow to work alongside the Investigative Committee.

This strange tragedy on the Falcon that took the life of the president of Total oil company, Christophe de Margerie, raises too many questions that have no answers.

What was said and done by Christophe de Margerie

De Margerie was probably one of the most steadfast supporters of preserving relations with Russia, and he opposed the sanctions. In fact, he defiantly came to the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in May, claiming that refusing to attend would be anti-Russian, although many other companies stayed home.

Once sanctions were imposed against Russia, de Margerie condemned that policy. He felt that Europe should not simply emulate the actions of the United States, because the relationship between the EU and Russia is much stronger than that of Russia and the US. He publicly stated: “I believe in people’s wisdom and responsibility. In a global economy one can’t just say: I’m going to suspend operations in Russia, or Iraq, or wherever. Russia cannot be isolated, even if all ties to Europe are lost. People need to understand that an embargo doesn’t work.”

De Margerie also opposed restrictions on Russian gas shipments to Europe. One may recall that such demands were heard during the anti-Russian hysteria among EU politicians. It was argued that European technology is so advanced that they could easily significantly limit those shipments. But “if European gas supplies from Russia are halted, Europe will have to pay more for gas, buying it from more remote regions, and shipping it will become more complicated,” he said. “We will have a problem this winter if there is a cut in supplies and if it is cold – that is obvious. Can we live without Russian gas? The answer is no. Are there any reasons to live without it? I think … it is a no.”

And this summer, de Margerie made what the US considers to be his most subversive statement. He spoke out against the preeminence of the US dollar in international payments. Although the idea would be beneficial to Russia, our country has not yet carried out plans to force those who purchase our resources to pay for them in rubles, in order to strengthen our currency. “There is no reason to pay for oil in dollars,” stated de Margerie in July. “Doing without the (U.S.) dollar, that wouldn’t be realistic, but it would be good if the euro was used more. The dollar occupies too large a niche in the international oil and gas trade. The fact that oil prices are quoted in dollars per barrel does not mean that payments actually have to be made in that currency. There are no valid reasons to pay for hydrocarbons in the American national currency.” 

De Margerie sincerely believed and repeatedly stated that Ukraine and Russia are part of Europe and attempts need to be made to resolve the crisis as quickly as possible. And in recent months,Christophe de Margerie actively lobbied to have the Mistral naval assault ship sent to Russia.

And here is the last public statement (link in Russian) made by the chief executive of Total, Christophe-Gabriel-Jean-Marie Jacquin de Margerie: “Russia has a lot of friends and partners in the West. We don’t consider that Russia can be isolated from the major global economic and political process. I’m absolutely confident that the policy of openness, which helped us overcome so many obstacles together in the past, should be continued.”

So whose toes did the president of Total step on?

Never forget that classic, always reliable question – “Cui bono?” (who benefits?) That needs to be asked, not only if one assumes that what happened was merely a deadly accident – because there are just too many strange coincidences surrounding the tragedy of de Margerie’s death. They simply do not fit together and actually make it seem less likely that it was truly a chance occurrence.

Take a look at these coincidences: First of all, there are the statements and actions of the chief executive of Total, de Margerie, which are flatly at odds with the principal position adopted by the United States, both in terms of anti-Russian sanctions, as well as (most importantly!) his statement about the “alternative to using dollars to pay for oil.” Then there is the scene of the accident – Moscow, which is the capital of the “Evil Empire” located somewhere between the Ebola epidemic and Islamic terrorists. There is the “excellent” timing – the same day as de Margerie’s meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, at which the chief executive of Total stated, “Actually, if I don’t like sanctions, it is because I believe they are both unfair and unproductive … And that it is a failure of diplomacy, when the only tools left are sanctions.” What happened that day looks a bit like a symbolic hint to all other global business leaders (and leaders of more than business) who are backing Russia. A hint that you can never rest easy if you hold this view of the world – an outlook that is so at odds with the actions and principles of the “Great Power of the USA.” Of course accidents do happen. Sometimes we see an entirely coincidental confluence of events.

I make no claims that there is any direct evidence at present supporting the theory that a premeditated murder of Christophe de Margerie was committed for the benefit of the United States. And none of this even adds up to a coherent theory – it’s just a string of uncontested events and facts that fit together in a completely logical sequence that neatly eliminates the patchwork of all those supposedly random coincidences.

And how could it have been done? With its many years of experience, the American intelligence services can easily stage bigger events than the assassination of the head of a large company in a third country. And there are plenty of ways to arrange such a scenario – ranging from the bribery or blackmail of anyone involved in the events through a host of intermediaries, to interference in various types of networks and internal communication signals, including human-factor causes, as well as technical innovations – none of which the rest of the world knows anything about for now or at which it can only guess. But it seems we’re likely to never know the real answer to the question “Who killed de Margerie?”

NEVER.

Source in Russian: Author’s blog

Translated by ORIENTAL REVIEW

Serena Shim (Screenshot from youtube video by PressTV News Videos)

The suspicious death of US-born journalist Serena Shim, and the deafening silence on the story in the US, is merely the latest example of the blatant double standard employed by the Western media.

Shim, a 29 year old American journalist of Lebanese descent, had been covering the ongoing war in Syria, specifically the current battle between ISIS militants and Kurdish forces near the Syrian town of Kobani, from the Turkish-Syrian border. Shim was traveling in a rental car back to her hotel after reporting from the Turkish town of Suruc near the Syrian border, when the car was allegedly struck by a heavy vehicle, killing Shim.

While Turkish authorities quickly contended that her death was an accident, many around the world, including executives and senior staff members of Press TV – the Iranian news agency for which Shim was working – have expressed doubts about the circumstances of her death, describing it as“suspicious.” Such suspicions are clearly warranted as the alleged accident came just one day after Shim expressed fears for her own safety after receiving death threats from Turkish intelligence (MIT). In an interview with Press TV just after being accused of being a spy and receiving the threats, Shim stated:

“I’m very surprised at this accusation – I even thought of approaching Turkish intelligence because I have nothing to hide… I am a bit worried, because…Turkey has been labeled by Reporters Without Borders as the largest prison for journalists…so I am frightened about what they might use against me… We were some of the first people on the ground –if not the first people – to get that story of…militants going in through the Turkish border…I’ve got images of them in World Food Organization trucks. It was very apparent that they were militants by their beards, by the clothes they wore, and they were going in there with NGO trucks.”

This revealing interview highlights the fact that Shim, unlike many Western journalists reporting on the Syrian conflict, was actually involved in a serious investigation, including documenting the collusion between Turkish intelligence and militant extremists to smuggle fighters and weapons into Syria. While this aspect of the Syrian conflict has been documented by Reuters, the New York Times, and others, Shim was on the ground covering the story, getting documentary evidence including photos and video of the militants in NGO trucks, a blatant violation of international law. It is precisely this damning evidence of Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian war that likely sparked the death threats against her and, quite likely, led to her possible assassination.

Shim’s tragic death has sparked outrage, not to mention tremendous grief, from her family and colleagues who have called for a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of her death. Condolences and expressions of sorrow from around the world have come pouring in to both Press TV and the Shim family. However, quite conspicuously, there has been a near total media blackout in the West, especially in the United States, the country of which Shim was a citizen.

When Are Journalists’ Deaths Newsworthy?

In the wake of Shim’s death and the shameful lack of coverage it has received in the West, disturbing questions emerge as to the attitude of Western media toward the assaults, kidnappings, and killings and/or suspicious deaths of journalists. Specifically, major media outlets and their respective governments and corporate owners must explain why certain journalists’ deaths are international news stories sparking global outrage and serving as the pretexts for military engagement, while others are conveniently swept under the rug, receiving at best a passing mention.

The international outcry over the kidnapping and beheading of James Foley dominated the headlines for weeks, and served as the immediate justification for the US-led airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. Aside from glowing tributes to Foley from nearly every major media organization, and a memorial page dedicated to him and his fans established by Reporters Without Borders, even President Obama spoke of Foley, describing him as “a man who lived his work, who courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings, who was liked and loved by friends and family…We will do everything we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for.” Such high praise coming from the President himself demonstrates the political and social significance of Foley’s death for the US.

And yet, Serena Shim who, like Foley, was a US citizen receives no such coverage. There are no glowing tributes from news organizations, most of which haven’t even bothered to report on her suspicious death. There are few stories even mentioning the incident and, the few that there are, painstakingly attempt to frame the incident as an accident, validating the assertions of Turkish officials, despite there having been no investigation, and the more-than-coincidental death threats she had received just hours before. There has been no public statement as yet from Reporters Without Borders or any other press freedom organization charged with protecting and promoting freedom of the press and the universal protection of journalists. Why? What is the difference between Serena Shim and James Foley that explains the striking disparity in the media coverage and public outcry?

 

US freelance reporter James Foley (AFP Photo / Nicole Tung)US freelance reporter James Foley (AFP Photo / Nicole Tung)

It’s What You Say and Who You Work For

Serena Shim’s death illustrates quite clearly the double standard applied by Western media and policymakers; Foley’s death was a national tragedy, Shim’s death a mere footnote at best. The inescapable fact is that this disparity is due not to whom they were, but rather who they worked for. Foley was a willing participant in the US-NATO war in Libya, “embedding” himself with the so called“rebels” who, thanks to a massive NATO bombing campaign that effectively destroyed Libyan military capabilities, participated in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi and the government of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

Foley presented a picture of heroism and self-sacrifice on the part of the rebels, many of whom had direct links to al-Qaeda and global terrorist networks stretching from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia, portraying them as true patriots liberating their country of a brutal dictator. In effect, Foley was one of the chief propagandists for the NATO operation in Libya, shooting photographs that became central to the image Washington and NATO wanted to portray.

In stark contrast, Shim was working for Iran’s Press TV, a news outlet funded by the Iranian government which provides a counter-narrative to the one presented in the Western media. Press TV’s reportage has been critical of the international operation against Syria, including countless reports, debates, and analysis of the role of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Washington, Tel Aviv, and others in fomenting the war thus far.

Press TV has been deeply critical of US policy vis-à-vis Syria and Iraq, and has presented numerous reports questioning the role of international actors in those conflicts. Shim herself was killed just hours after breaking the news of militant extremists crossing the border into Syria with the assistance of Turkish intelligence, using World Food Program trucks. This bombshell story substantiated the countless other reports dating back to 2012 of Turkish intelligence’s involvement in precisely this sort of operation.

And so, it is clear that the media and government response to the death of journalists directly correlates to the kind of reporting being done. If you are journalist who works for a Western media outlet, and substantiates and propagates the Western narrative, then you are a hero and your death is a national tragedy that elicits a swift response. If, however, you are a journalist who works for a non-Western news organization, and is critical of the West and its policies and actions, then your death is simply not newsworthy and will be quickly forgotten. Such double standards, hypocrisy, and egregious immorality typify Western attitudes towards journalists and the role of the media.

Reuters / Yannis Behrakis

Sadly, Not the First or Last Time

Perhaps the most appalling aspect of this story is the fact that Shim’s death is only the latest in a long line of journalists’ deaths in recent months and years that have been almost entirely ignored by the Western media. From Ukraine to Syria and Gaza, journalists have been killed in alarming numbers while their stories are suppressed in the West.

In Eastern Ukraine, a number of Russian journalists have been assaulted, kidnapped, tortured, and/or killed by the US-backed regime’s military and paramilitary forces. In June 2014, Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin, both employed by Russia’s Rossiya TV channel, were killed near Lugansk. Despite repeated denials from the Kiev regime regarding the deliberate targeting of journalists, eyewitness accounts from the scene allege that the Russian journalists were specifically targeted by the Ukrainian forces. Viktor Denisov, the surviving member of the news crew, explained, “One hundred percent it was not accidental fire, it was an aimed action from the National Guards’ side.” Despite this eyewitness account, coupled with the shocking footage that Denisov obtained of the attack, there was almost no coverage of the incident in the international press.

Also in June 2014, Anatoly Klyan, a cameraman from Russia’s Channel One television, was killed by forces loyal to the US-backed regime in Kiev. Shot in the stomach while aboard a bus full of mothers of army conscripts that was shelled by Kiev’s military forces, Klyan died before he could make it to a hospital. While there were initial stories covering the incident in the Western media (mostly from British news outlets), there was no international outcry to protect journalists in Ukraine, no heightened scrutiny of the crimes of the Kiev military and paramilitary forces, no pressure exerted on President Poroshenko by his Western backers. One could be forgiven for thinking that the incident was quietly swept under the rug in hopes that it would be forgotten.

In August 2014, Rossiya Segodnya (formerly RIA Novosti) photojournalist Andrey Stenin was killedwhen the car he was travelling in was attacked by Ukrainian forces, along with a number of other cars carrying civilians out of the conflict zone. Stenin was reportedly missing for over a month until it was finally confirmed that he had been killed. While he was believed to have been kidnapped, there were some expressions of support and calls for his release, particularly from the Committee to Protect Journalistswhich has documented a number of crimes committed against journalists, especially Russian journalists, by Ukrainian authorities. However, beyond the professional community, there was decidedly little outcry, especially in the West where news of his disappearance and death went nearly unmentioned.

People walk past a coffin with the body of Russian photojournalist Andrey Stenin during a memorial service in Moscow, September 5, 2014 (Reuters / Sergey Karpukhin)

The deaths of these and other Russian journalists in Ukraine are, sadly, not the only attacks on non-Western journalists. Iran’s Press TV, which is now mourning the loss of Serena Shim, is all too familiar with this story. In September 2012, Press TV’s Damascus correspondent Maya Nasser was killed by a sniper while on air reporting on the attack on the Syrian army’s general staff headquarters. The fact that he was killed by a sniper, an obvious deliberate targeting of a journalist, should have made him a cause célèbre for media organizations around the world. And yet, they remained mostly silent because Nasser was not part of the Western media, and was instead reporting inconvenient facts that disputed the Western narrative of “moderate rebels” fighting against “the brutal dictator Assad.” The obvious lesson here is that journalists are legitimate targets if their reporting runs counter to the agenda of Washington and its allies.

Finally there is the tragic case of Gaza, a veritable killing field for journalists, where at least eight journalists were killed by Israeli forcesduring their war on Gaza in the summer of 2014. While the International Federation of Journalists lodged its formal protest with the United Nations against the targeting of its colleagues, and other organizations such as Al Haq conducted thorough investigations of the incidents, the issue was almost entirely ignored by Western media, especially US media which rather predictably provided a one-sided portrayal of events on the ground in Gaza. While much of the US media uncritically reported from the comfort and safety of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Amman, and other cities, Palestinian journalists were losing their lives to report the horror taking place on the ground in Gaza. The silence from Western media was deafening.

It is critical to reiterate the fact that the Western media, which is always so keen to trumpet its commitment to freedom of the press, among many others, is conspicuously silent on the deaths of colleagues who happen to work for non-Western outlets. It would seem that outrage is more a function of ideology than of genuine support for fellow journalists. In this way, the Western media makes itself complicit in the crimes. By abrogating their responsibility to objectively report the facts, not to mention stand in solidarity with fallen colleagues around the world, the Western media exposes itself as an appendage of the US-NATO imperial system.

The UN refugee agency says the crisis in Ukraine has forced more than 824,000 people from their homes as tensions continue in the country’s troubled eastern regions.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released the figure on Friday, saying around 95 percent of those displaced come from the war-torn eastern regions.

Among those who have fled, at least 430,000 were living within Ukraine as of yesterday, up 170,000 people since the start of September.

In addition, another 387,000 have fled to neighboring Russia, while 6,600 have applied for asylum in the European Union (EU) as well as 581 in Belarus.

According to the UNHCR, the ongoing fighting in the eastern regions between government troops and pro-Russian forces, “and the resulting breakdown of basic services, continue to drive more people from their homes.”

The UNHCR also warned of the looming winter, saying “it was racing to help some of the most vulnerable displaced people cope with expected harsh winter conditions.”

The UN refugee agency said the areas which are in greatest need of help were around Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Kiev as well as in the central region of Dnipropetrovsk and the southern region of Zaporizhia regions.

This comes as sporadic clashes continue on an almost daily basis despite the signing of a ceasefire pact by the two sides in September.

Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia protesters and the Ukrainian army since the government in Kiev launched military operations in mid-April in a bid to crush the protests.

According to the latest figures by the United Nations, over 3,700 people have been killed and at least 9,000 others injured in the conflict in eastern Ukraine during the past six months.

Watch video here

Joshua Blakeney has pointed out that Adrienne Arsenault of CBC reported last night that in the weeks leading up to the two so-called ‘terror’ incidents that took place this week in Quebec and Ottawa Canadian authorities had been running war games exercises depicting such attacks.

The relevant commentary starts at 1:52 of the video below:

According to Arsenault,

They [Canadian authorities] may have been surprised by the actual incidents but not by the concepts of them. Within the last month we know that the CSIS, the RCMP and the National Security Task Force … ran a scenario that’s akin to a war games exercise if you will where they actually imagined literally an attack in Quebec, followed by an attack in another city, followed by a tip that that ‘hey some foreign fighters are coming back from Syria.’ So they were imagining a worst case scenario. We’re seeing elements of that happening right now. … [Canadian authorities] may talk today in terms of being surprised but we know that this precise scenario has been keeping them up at night for awhile.

What an amazing coincidence that Canadian intelligence ran a drill envisioning an attack first in Quebec, then another city. On Monday October 20 a man identified as Martin Rouleau supposedly ran over two Candian soldiers with his car in a mall parking lot in the city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec. And yesterday, as we know, one soldier was gunned down in Ottawa followed by a siege on the parliament itself. Authorities and media are claiming that both suspects were converts to Islam who had become “radicalized.”

What are the chances that these mock terror drills are just a coincidence? In nearly every instance of a major terrorist occurrence in the West, it has been revealed that intelligence services were conducting war games exercises mimicking the very events that later come to pass. On the day of the London subway bombings in 2005 British authorities ran drills depicting the exact attack scenario that transpired later in the day. On 9/11 multiple US agencies were running drills simulating jet hijackings. And now we have confirmation that Canada’s intelligence services were doing the same thing.

It has also been revealed that both suspects in the two incidents this week were being monitored by both US and Canadian intelligence for some time prior to their alleged attacks.

Non-Aligned Media will continue following this story as more information comes out.

Blackwater, Torture and US Imperialism

October 24th, 2014 by Joseph Kishore

On Wednesday, a jury of eight women and four men in a federal district court in Washington, DC convicted four Blackwater mercenaries for their role in the 2007 Nisour Square massacre. The jurors found one of the contractors guilty of murder and another three guilty of manslaughter for firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition and grenades at Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in a brutal operation that left 17 dead and another 20 wounded.

Coming seven years after the crimes were committed, the verdict is a welcome development. The jury’s decision—which went against the expectations of the media and the political establishment—no doubt expressed the jurors’ revulsion over the barbaric actions that were described in detail in the courtroom, including through the testimony of dozens of Iraqi eyewitnesses and victims. They were allowed to see for themselves the brutal reality of a war that was largely hidden from the American public.

This verdict is a reflection of a broader popular opposition in the United States to the crimes perpetrated by the American military and the legions of private mercenaries that have been hired to reinforce its operations all over the world.

However, the claim by officials in the Obama administration’s Justice Department that the verdict represents, in the words of one of the chief prosecutors, “a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law,” is part of a political whitewash and cover-up.

In fact, the actions of Blackwater employees—Nicholas Slatten (found guilty of murder) and Evan Liberty, Paul Slough and Dustin Heard (found guilty of manslaughter and using a machine gun to carry out a violent crime)—are the product of a deeper and more fundamental crime: the launching of the war of aggression against Iraq and the continuing eruption of imperialist violence of which this war was a part.

Countless atrocities have been committed as part of these wars, some of which have come to light, while many more remain hidden: The systematic leveling of Fallujah in 2004 by US Marines, initiated in response to the killing of several Blackwater mercenaries and resulting in the deaths of well over 1,000 Iraqis; the Haditha massacre, in which a group of US Marines killed 24 unarmed Iraqis in November 2005, for which only one soldier was convicted of dereliction of duty; the incineration of a religious school in Pakistan by CIA drones in October 2006, killing at least 68 children; the massacre of 47 people attending a wedding party in Nangahar province, Afghanistan in July 2008, and a similar mass killing in Kandahar province that killed 63 only four months later…

The perpetrators of these crimes remain at large. They include top officials in the Bush administration (President Bush himself, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and many others), who planned and launched a war on the basis of outright lies. They include top military and CIA officials, who carried out a war of terror against the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan, employing torture and mass killings as an instrument of policy. They include the leaders of the Republican and Democratic Parties, who sanctioned wars that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. And they include leading personnel in the mass media, who worked to sell these wars to the American people.

Since coming into office in 2009, a central focus of the Obama administration has been to prevent any accountability for the crimes that have been committed—and continue to be committed—by the military and intelligence apparatus. The Democratic president and his key aides are among the many unindicted co-conspirators.

It is instructive to compare the jury decision on the Blackwater massacre to a hearing the day before in front of another district court judge in New York City. That case involves the ongoing attempts by the Obama administration, spanning six years, to block the release of 2,100 photos of torture carried out by the US military in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House has sought to keep the photos secret en masse on “national security” grounds—a rationale that it has also used to cover-up NSA spying, forced feeding of Guantanamo Bay inmates and other crimes. Judge Alvin Hellerstein has given the administration a December 12 deadline to provide specific reasons for withholding from public view each of the photographs.

According to a report yesterday in the WSWS, the torture photos

“are said to be more disturbing than those released in 2004 showing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib…They include soldiers pointing guns at the heads of detainees who are hooded and bound, soldiers beating detainees with their fists or objects, soldiers posing with groups of bound and restrained prisoners, soldiers posing with corpses, and, in at least one case, a female soldier pointing a broomstick at the rectum of a hooded detainee.”

The maneuvers of the Obama administration in the courtroom come at the same time as the White House continues its attempts to prevent the release of a Senate investigation into “medieval” torture, including “holding [detainees] under water until the point of death,” carried out by the CIA. Earlier this year, the CIA was caught spying on Senate staffers preparing the report, and the Obama administration has since worked with the spy agency to ensure that if anything is released, it will be heavily redacted.

According to human-rights lawyer Scott Horton, in an interview with The Intercept, “the battle plan” of CIA Director John Brennan and the Obama administration is to delay release of the CIA report until after the midterm elections in November. They hope that an anticipated victory in the Senate for the Republican Party will ensure that the report is permanently buried, without requiring the Democrats to perform this dirty deed themselves.

The reason for the White House’s determination to cover up the crimes of the Bush administration is clear enough. In the words of Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Torture, drone assassinations, massacres, extra-judicial killings—such are the methods of the American ruling class in asserting its interests all over the world. The Obama administration has continued and deepened the policies of its predecessor. It is currently escalating another war in the Middle East, while preparing new and even bloodier crimes. In Ukraine, it has worked with mercenaries embedded with right-wing and fascistic organizations as part of operations to assert US dominance in Eastern Europe. A recent document released by the US Army outlines a strategy of preventive war in every region of the world, singling out China and Russia as particular potential targets.

The Nissour Square massacre is not the exception, but the rule, not the product of a few “bad apples,” but the organic outcome of the criminality of American imperialism. Justice will not be served until those directing this policy at the highest levels of the military-state apparatus find themselves in a position similar to the convicted Blackwater mercenaries.

Canada’s Conservative government is seeking to exploit the killing of two Canadian Armed Forces’ soldiers in separate incidents this week to dramatically shift politics further to the right.

Speaking in parliament Thursday—the day after a gunman fatally shot a soldier at Ottawa’s National War Memorial, then entered the main block of the national parliament—Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to greatly strengthen Canada’s national security apparatus.

“Our law and police powers,” declared Harper, “need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest.” He continued, “I assure you that work—which is already underway—will be expedited.”

Since Monday’s hit-and-run killing of a Canadian Armed Forces’ warrant officer in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Harper and his government have gone into overdrive to promote the false narrative that Canada is under “terrorist” assault.

The government’s response to Wednesday’s events was extraordinary. It enacted the Canadian state’s National Anti-Terrorism Plan, which involves the coordinated mobilization of all sections of the national-security apparatus, including the military; placed large sections of downtown Ottawa under lockdown for ten hours; and ordered Canadian Armed Forces’ bases across the country to go on high alert.

In conjunction with Washington, the joint US-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) increased its “alert posture,” ordering additional fighter jets to be ready to take to the skies at a moment’s notice.

Yesterday, heightened security remained in effect across the country, at Parliament Hill and the provincial legislatures, other public buildings and on public transport. Politicians and representatives of the police, military and intelligence apparatus all made statements warning Canadians to get used to enhanced security measures disrupting day-to-day life .

A somber Harper went out of his way to paint Canada as under siege in a brief, nationally-televised address given Wednesday evening—that is long after it had become apparent, if it was ever in serious doubt, that there had been only a single gunman.

He repeatedly used the words “terrorist” and “terrorist attack,” claimed the two incidents constituted an attack on Canada and democracy, and sought to channel popular revulsion over them behind Canada’s leading role in the new US war in the Middle East.

The reality is that both of this week’s killings were carried out by lone, misguided and disorientated individuals. All reports indicate that they were not members of a “homegrown” anti-government group, let alone of a foreign terrorist organization.

The Ottawa shooter, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was living in a homeless shelter in the days before his shooting spree. Residents at the Ottawa shelter told reporters he had behaved extremely erratically.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson confirmed that there was no link between Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau, the “radicalized” Muslim convert who carried out Monday’s attack in St-Jean.

If the Harper government, aided and abetted by the corporate media, is framing these tragic incidents as terrorist acts, it is because such a narrative serves predetermined reactionary politically ends.

The immediate goal is to rally support for Canada’s participation in the new Mideast war and to rush through legislation giving further repressive powers to the national-security apparatus.

In doing this, the government and Canada’s ruling elite are following a now well-trodden path. Since the September 11, 2001 events, terrorist attacks and scares have been repeatedly exploited to advance an agenda of military aggression abroad and attacks on democratic rights at home. Right-wing measures that would previously have been impossible to implement due to public hostility have been pushed through in a deliberately-fostered climate of fear, hysteria and nationalist militarism.

Within weeks of 9/11, Canada’s then Liberal government, following the lead of the Bush administration, adopted a draconian anti-terrorism law. Its provisions include a catch-all definition of “terrorism” that could be used to suppress political strikes and vast new powers for the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the Canadian partner of the US National Security Agency or NSA.

Canada also took on a major role in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, deploying combat troops to that impoverished country for a decade and embarking on a rearmament drive. By 2011 Ottawa was spending more in real, inflation-adjusted terms on the military than any time since the end of the Second World War.

Harper has been among the most bellicose of western leaders, defending Israel’s war crimes against the people of Gaza and stoking NATO’s confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. Most recently, his government deployed a fleet of fighter planes and almost 700 military personnel to join the new war the US has unleashed on the Middle East, so as to shore up and extend Washington’s domination of the world’s most important oil-exporting region.

Harper and the ruling elite are acutely aware that there is widespread popular opposition to their war agenda—that is, to their plans to secure the Canadian bourgeoisie a “place at the table” in the imperialist reordering of the Middle East and Eurasia. Asked in early September why he hadn’t endorsed the US-British call for all NATO countries to spend at least two percent of GDP on the military, Harper was forced to concede that the Canadian people would not “understand” such a decision.

Harper’s gratuitous reference to the war in the Middle East in his Wednesday night speech makes clear the Conservatives intend to use this week’s events to try to silence and intimidate the war’s millions of opponents and create the political climate to expand Canada’s role. Already last week, the head of the armed forces said the deployment, currently slated for six months, will most likely have to be extended.

As Harper indicated in his remarks to parliament Thursday, the government was already planning to give the country’s national-security agencies significant new powers. Indeed, a draft bill was to have been tabled in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The government had signaled that this legislation would allow CSEC and Canada’s premier spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), to work even more closely with the NSA and the other foreign intelligence agencies, including in the tracking of Canadian “terrorist” suspects who go abroad.

The government had also said that it would amend the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act to give CSIS informants blanket immunity. This would mean not only that the identity of CSIS informants would have to be protected in all legal proceedings, but that they could not be questioned by defence lawyers and even judges.

The government has not announced a new date for the tabling of this legislation. This strongly suggests that it intends to redraft it to include still more anti-democratic measures, calculating that it can now stampede them through.

These changes will add to the broad range of capabilities already at the disposal of the intelligence services. Since 2001, CSIS and CSEC have seen their budgets explode. With the government’s full support they have arrogated new powers, such as the right to systematically spy on the metadata of Canadians’ electronic communications.

No one should be under any illusion that the opposition parties will mount any serious resistance to the government’s plans to use this week’s events to intensify its militarist foreign policy and attack on democratic rights.

The Conservative government has only widened and deepened the right-wing policies of its Liberal predecessor. The trade union-supported New Democratic Party (NDP) has supported Canada’s participation in a series of US-led wars and interventions, including the 1999 war on Yugoslavia, the Afghan war, the 2004 overthrow of Haiti’s elected president and NATO’s 2011 “regime change” war in Libya.

These parties’ opposition to the current Canadian Armed Forces’ combat mission in Iraq is an exercise in cynicism and hypocrisy that has been motivated by electoral calculations, concerns that the current war, like the 2003 Iraq war, will redound against imperialist interests, and fears it will fuel social opposition at home.

Both the Liberals and the NDP have kept an almost total and complicit silence about CSEC’s spying on Canadians and its major role in the NSA’s gargantuan global spy network.

Predictably they have responded to Wednesday’s events, by rallying round the Harper Conservative government, lending credence to its tendentious claims that Canada is under attack.

NDP leader Thomas Muclair said the Ottawa shooting had been “designed to strike at the very heart of our democracy—at the heart of who we are.” In a display of “national unity,” Mulcair embraced Harper following the prime minister’s right-wing address Thursday morning.

How a non-event becomes an “event” that ends in anti-climax

When Mumia Abu-Jamal was the pre-recorded speaker at a Goddard College commencement in Plainfield, Vermont, in 2008, almost no one outside the Goddard community paid any attention. This year, when Goddard announced that students had chosen Mumia to do a return engagement at their graduation, Philadelphia police, politicians, media, and Fox News went crazy with angry rhetoric aimed at curbing free speech.

In the end, this breakdown in civil society resulted in nothing worse than hundreds of police-instigated threats of violence to the Goddard community. For the sake of security, Goddard moved the graduation up three hours, with no public announcement, and the full-house ceremony for 24 students went forward with private security and without incident.

In the week between the announcement and the event, “Mumia Abu-Jamal” the symbol served once again as a triggering Rorschach blot exposing aspects of American character in 2014, reflecting and denying realities decades and centuries past. In a sense what Goddard students provoked with their commencement speaker choice was a weeklong confrontation between the symbolic “Mumia Abu-Jamal” and the actual Mumia Abu-Jamal, without much success in joining them in there single, complex reality.

What does “Mumia Abu-Jamal” actually mean, or should he just be?  

Understanding “Mumia Abu Jamal” in full requires more time and space that is available here. The man and the symbol and those who pillory him all have significant complexity, both real and unreal. There are at least two contexts that are fundamental to understanding the Mumia phenomenon itself and the mini-drama it produced at Goddard:

First, whatever else he is, Mumia is a political prisoner and has been a political target at least since he was 15. Mumia was born in 1954 as Wesley Cook. As he became an articulate member of the Black Panther party (until he was 16) and a representative of black resistance generally, he was targeted for his political expression by police agencies that included the FBI and its illegal COINTELPRO program. On December 9, 1981, radio reporter Mumia was moonlighting as a cab driver. He was on the scene when officer Daniel Faulkner made a traffic stop of Mumia’s younger brother, William Cook. In the next few moments, Faulkner was shot and killed and Mumia was shot and disabled. Little else about the event is reliably clear. Anyone who takes the time to look disinterestedly into the record of the investigation and subsequent trials will soon understand that Mumia’s conviction for killing officer Faulkner may or may not be a miscarriage of justice in terms of Mumia’s actual guilt, which remains unproved. Mumia denied his guilt at trial and ever since. The investigation and judicial process are so fundamentally flawed in so many ways, they offer the best evidence that Mumia’s conviction is morally and factually insupportable.

Second, and probably more important for context, is the abiding corruption of the Philadelphia legal system, both police and courts. At the time of Mumia’s arrest, he had been talking on the radio about police corruption. At the same time, there was a federal investigation going on that would lead to the conviction of 31 Philadelphia police officers. In 1981, Officer Faulkner, 26, was working undercover inside the department, gathering evidence against his fellow officers. Another wave of Philadelphia police corruption and brutality in the 1990s came to be known as the 39th District scandal. In July 2014, federal prosecutors indicted six officers in “what Philadelphia’s police commissioner described as one of the worst cases of corruption,” according to CNN. CBS Philly has a special page for Philadelphia police corruption. Currently, after some 20 years of abusing civil forfeiture laws to pad city budgets (by an average $6 million a year), Philadelphia faces a class action lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice seeking to end the abuse, which includes an inherently corrupting conflict of interest.

When you’re under fire, it’s useful to have a distracting scapegoat

One of the epicenters of reflexive Mumia-bashing is the 325,000 member Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), whose website has no prominent (if any) expressed opposition to police corruption.  The Order was instrumental in unscrupulously attacking an Obama administration nominee for U.S. Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice, who eventually withdrew his name from nomination. Attorney Debo Adegbile, 48, was fully qualified to serve, but the FOP opposed him because he had, as part of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, tangentially participated in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeals process. None of this was improper, but the FOP used inflammatory guilt-by-association in a McCarthyite campaign that effectively intimidated Democratic Senators into joining their prejudiced Republican colleagues in race-based opposition to a qualified candidate for the “sin” of representing the “wrong” client, an expectation of attorneys actually expressed in the U.S. Constitution. Given its Mumia-obsession, the FOP was quick to join the counter-constitutional attack on personal and institutional free speech at Goddard.

Founded in 1863 as a Universalist seminary in the Green Mountains, Goddard College has about 600 students, most of whom are not college-age and most whom are not on campus most of the time. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Goddard offers undergraduate degrees as well as Masters degrees in fields including Education, Health Sciences, Psychology, and Creative Writing. Mumia Abu-Jamal first came to Goddard in the 1970s, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1996 from prison. In 2008, graduating students unanimously and “proudly” chose Mumia to give a pre-recorded commencement speech at Goddard. On August 10, 2008, he gave his speech, apparently without incident and without much media or other attention. Having had that experience, Goddard made a routine announcement on a Monday, setting off a chain of events, with these highlights:

September 29, 2014.

Goddard publicized Mumia’s October 5 speech in a matter-of-fact press release with this headline:

Mumia Abu-Jamal to Give Commencement Speech at Goddard College

Inmate Journalist and Goddard Graduate to Address Newest Class of Radical Thinkers

The release noted that Mumia was convicted for the 1981 murder of officer Faulkner and was serving a sentence of life in prison without parole. The release quoted interim college president Bob Kenny saying, almost prophetically: “Choosing Mumia as their commencement speaker, to me, shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that.”

The same day the Burlington Free Press picked up the news in a brief, bland item that began: “Goddard College students have chosen a famous alumnus as their fall commencement speaker, but his remarks have been pre-recorded and he won’t be at the ceremony on Sunday.” The Free Press was apparently alone in this reporting. So far, so calm.

September 30, 2014. 

Philadelphia’s CBS local station broke the calm with a story that began: “A small Vermont college is poking a lot of people in the eye by having convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal as its commencement speaker next Sunday.” Fox News also pushed the story: “A man serving life in prison for killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981 has been selected as a commencement speaker at his Vermont alma mater.”

The spin on the story was inspired by the president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, John Nesby, who is quoted saying: “We have somebody who’s a convicted murderer, who’s in prison, and they’re allowed to be able to have special privileges. It just seems the only one being penalized here is [officer Faulkner’s widow] Maureen Faulkner and she’s fed up with it.” The CBS headline read:

Convicted Cop-Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal Selected As Commencement Speaker For College In Vermont

CBS also reported Corrections Department spokeswoman Sue McNaughton trying to distance the department from controversy, saying that: Mumia is merely making use of his phone privileges. He’s done this before in the past. He’s made other commencement addresses. They’re not live, from what I understand. They’re recorded and then played…. the department does not endorse Mumia’s speech, but he has the right to talk.

Picking up on the cue from the Philadelphia FOP, the Vermont Troopers’ Association president, Michael O’Neil, wrote a public letter to the Goddard president, “on behalf of the 280 members of the Vermont Troopers’ Association and the families of slain police officers….” O’Neil asked the college to rescind the invitation, writing in part:

“Your invitation to this convicted murderer demonstrates an absolute disregard for the family of Danny Faulkner…. While our nation is searching for solutions to gun violence in our schools and communities, we are outraged that Goddard College is hosting a man who shot and killed a police officer. A college commencement ceremony should be conducted to honor the achievements of graduates, not provide a forum for recognition of a convicted killer.”

The Troopers Association did not respond to questions submitted in writing.

October 1, 2014. 

Using some language word-for-word from the Philadelphia FOP letter, the national office of the Fraternal Order of Police issued what it titled:

STATEMENT OF NATIONAL PRESIDENT CHUCK CANTERBURY ON COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS BY COP-KILLER ABU-JAMAL

Canterbury, like McNeil, urged “that Goddard College rescind its invitation to this repugnant murderer.” Despite the police pile-on, the story gained little traction nationally. The Washington Post played it fairly neutrally, first referring to Mumia as “an infamous American prisoner.”

October 2, 2014.  

The Vermont Police Chiefs Association joined the law enforcement chorus against Goddard and Mumia. The head of the association, Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel was quoted saying:

“It is beyond belief that an educational institution would even consider such an act of disrespect to the family of slain Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and the law enforcement community of Vermont…. It obviously means nothing to the school administration and graduates that Mumia Abu-Jamal murdered Officer Faulkner in cold blood by shooting him five times.

While we support the protection of individual rights in Vermont, we find the choice of this convicted murderer as a commencement speaker offensive, and shows a lack of judgment on behalf of the college and its graduates, as well as a total disrespect for the family of the slain officer, who was sworn also to protect individual rights….”

The only member of Congress to take a public position, apparently, was Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who wrote an outraged letter to Goddard in which said, among other things:

“Is there any crime so heinous that Goddard would not reward the perpetrator with a spot as commencement speaker? I cannot fathom how anyone could think it appropriate to honor a cold-blooded murderer….”

Earlier in the year, Toomey led the effort to deny the appointment of Debo Adegbile to the Justice Dept., because Adegbile had had the temerity to give meaning to the Constitution’s promise that Mumia should have adequate counsel.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections joined the official outcry against hearing the voice of “a convicted cop killer.” A spokesperson described a proper speaker. Ironically, that description also fits Mumia: “a commencement speaker worthy of their time such as a survivor of crime to impart things like resiliency, courage and strength.”

The National Review offered a smooth, cleverly argued critique of Goddard’s choice of Mumia, beginning with the G.K. Chesterton warning against being “so open-minded that your brains fall out.” At the end, the piece sarcastically suggests:

“Perhaps Goddard’s graduating class is not so intellectually atrophied and morally adrift as to actually think that entertaining a cop-killer as its commencement speaker was a bold, revolutionary decision. Perhaps they just invited Goddard’s most distinguished graduate.”

Vermont Public Radio exaggeratedly reported that “Goddard College is facing a storm of criticism for inviting a man convicted of murdering a police officer to speak….” Vermont Public Radio did not mention that it used to broadcast Mumia’s radio programs when they were carried by National Public Radio (until another political attack drove them off the air).

As a Goddard spokesman pointed out, Mumia speaks from a unique perspective, an “an imprisoned African-American male,… an under-represented and almost invisible population.”  Goddard Community Radio, WGDR-WGDH FM, currently carries Mumia’s syndicated Prison Radio show, at 7 PM on Sunday.

“Murder is wrong. Free speech is right…. these exist together.”

Without responding formally to police demands to cancel Mumia, Goddard pushed back. Goddard communications manager Samantha Kolber sent out two tweets about an hour apart that evening:

10:28 PM – “Free people have a right to decide for themselves what they want to hear.” - @MumiaAbuJamal

11:43 PM – “Murder is wrong. Free speech is right. Sometimes these exist together. #Duality #truth #complexity

In an interview, Kolber had said that the graduating students “chose Mumia because to them, Mumia represents a struggle for freedom of the mind, body, and spirit. Those were values important to this graduating class.”

Late that same day, a North Carolina prison released an ex-police commander to a halfway house, after three and a half years behind bars. The former Chicago police officer was Jon Burge, 66, convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice relating to his participation in using torture to coerce false confessions from men in custody. Although a final count is uncertain, police commander Burge took part in torturing more than 100 black men, sometimes using electro-shock.

A Chicago police pension board has affirmed Burge’s $4000-a-month police pension. The capture and conviction of Burge, as well as settlements to victims, is estimated to have cost $120 million to Chicago taxpayers.

The police organizations attacking Goddard College have not objected to the public paying a convicted police torturer some $48,000 a year in retirement.

October 3, 2014. 

In great part because of the police protest, Goddard was receiving hundreds of threats of non-specific violence by phone and social media (https://twitter.com/hashtag/supportmumiagraduationspeech?src=hash

Twitter was busy, and there was also Mumia support). Goddard reported these to the Vermont State Police, who said through a spokesperson that they planned to investigate the source of the threats and would keep in touch with the college in case the college needed help.  According to VTDigger:

Goddard has received hundreds of phone calls, about one per minute Friday, and letting all of them go to voicemail, Goddard spokesperson Samantha Kolber said. College officials were responding to only the most urgent calls, she said. Some of the calls threatened violence and sexual assault.

To Police and Politicians: “Hands Off Goddard College!”

That was the headline of a piece in Counterpunch, an appeal by two college professors, one from the City College of New York, the other from the Princeton Theological Seminary.  They note, in support of both Goddard and Mumi that: “His death sentence was ruled unconstitutional in 2001, and finally vacated in 2011.”

They characterize Mumia as “a political prisoner, who was framed in the courts for his political beliefs and affiliations,” whose supporters include Amnesty International and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

They characterize his current attackers as guardians of “a center that quashes the right to speak of needed voices from among the marginalized and politically repressed, they cease being a center worthy of public respect.

They conclude that:

“The students occupy the moral and intellectual high ground. Let them proceed without intimidation by officials who command guns and prisons. The youth of today, those who must forge tomorrow’s freedom and real democracy, should be neither chained nor intimidated by guardians of the old center.”

October 4, 2014. 

The Fox News program FOX&friends continued attack on Goddard and Mumia. Officer Faulkner’s widow, Maureen, and Sen. Toomey were guests and the views of the guests and anchor were predictably one-sided and without nuance.

Reinforcing the dominant narrative that requires Mumia to be a one-dimensional Black Panther cop-killer, pictures of Mumia typically show him as a much younger man, with long dreds, and sometimes a threatening appearance. The very pro-Mumia website of Rachel Wolkenstein, one of his attorneys, has a picture from 2012 showing Mumia with his wife and attorney Wolkenstein.

October 5, 2014. 

The graduation ceremony went off without reported incident.

The college hired private security to supplement college staff, since relying on Vermont police who had been attacking the college all week didn’t seem rational. As it turned out, some 20 police were busy peacefully protesting the graduation. Interesting work all around with the “serve and protect” thing.

There might have been a bigger protest, but Goddard had quietly and privately changed the time of the ceremony from 4 PM to 1 PM. Mumia’s pre-recorded speech (audio only, though often reported as video) was not his best work, but adequate to the occasion. One highlight, when he spoke more personally, first of the 1970s:

“Let me say something that I’ve never said before: when I came to Goddard, I was intimidated. Although teachers and adults told me that I could do the work, I rarely believed them. I felt woefully unprepared. But guess what? Goddard gave me confidence, and I never lost that feeling….”

And then he spoke of the 1990s:

“In one of the most repressive environments on earth (Death Row), Goddard allowed me to study and research human liberation and anti-colonial struggles on two continents: Africa and Latin/Central America. I think you for that grand opportunity….”

In Philadelphia, uniformed police there held a 30-minute silent vigil at the site of a plaque commemorating Officer Faulkner, an event organized by the FOP to honor Maureen Faulkner and her husband and other fallen police officers.

In California, Maureen Faulkner issued an angry statement in which she said, in part:

“Once again, my family and I find ourselves being assaulted by the obscenity that is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

On Sunday October 5th, my husband’s killer will once again air his voice from what masquerades as a prison, and spew his thoughts and ideas at another college commencement. Mumia Abu-Jamal will be heard and honored as a victim and a hero by a pack of adolescent sycophants at Goddard College….

Shame on Goddard College and all associated with that school for choosing to honor an arrogant remorseless killer as their commencement speaker. Unfortunately, this is something that I am certain they will be proud of for the rest of their lives.”

She accuses Mumia of hating America, she blames Goddard for hiding behind the First Amendment, she calls that “a convenient way to dodge their responsibility to take a moral position on this situation.” Moments later, she contradicts this and describes the moral position she says they’ve already taken:

“Let’s be honest. The instructors, administrators and graduates at Goddard College embrace having this killer as their commencement speaker not despite the fact that he brutally murdered a cop, but because he brutally murdered a cop.”  [emphasis added]

If that paranoia is heartfelt and widespread in the FOP and other police associations, police might consider why anyone would believe such a thing, whether out of rage or guilt. And they might wonder what effect it has, on others and themselves, to demonize supposed cop-killers while giving killer cops a pass.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Hong Kong : un virus sotto l’ombrello

October 24th, 2014 by Ahmed Bensaada

Il 3 febbraio 2011, tra la caduta di Ben Ali e quella imminente di Mubarak, il senatore statunitense John McCain fece una dichiarazione sbalorditiva, mentre la piazza araba era in piena ebollizione:  « Questo virus si diffonde in tutto il Medio Oriente » [1]. Non parlava del virus Ebola, né di qualche altra malattia contagiosa, ma piuttosto della famosa « primavera » araba. Un simile paragone « epidemiologico » non è, a dire il vero, del tutto gratuito, da parte di questo specialista della « esportazione » della democrazia

Il virus secondo McCain

E’ noto il ruolo svolto da McCain nelle rivoluzioni colorate [2] e nella primavera araba [3]. Infatti, oltre ad essere un senatore statunitense, egli è anche il più alto responsabile dell’International Republican Institute (IRI) che, con il National Democratic Institute (NDI), è uno dei quattro organismi satelliti della National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Ricordiamo che la NED è finanziata da un budget votato dal Congresso e che i suoi fondi sono amministrati da un consiglio di amministrazione, nel quale sono rappresentati il Partito repubblicano, il Partito Democratico, la Camera di Commercio USA e il sindacato American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO). La NED, attraverso i suoi organismi (specialmente l’IRI e il NDI), forma, mette in rete, sostiene e finanzia gli attivisti per la democrazia (e soprattutto filo-occidentali) in tutto il mondo, nei paesi presi di mira dall’amministrazione statunitense. E’ stato così durante le rivoluzioni colorate (Serbia, Georgia, Ucraina e Kirghizistan), ma anche nella rivoluzione « verde » (Iran) [4] o nella « primavera » araba [5]. La connessione tra la NED e il governo statunitense è stata posta in evidenza, et questo da molto tempo, da Allen Weinstein (uno dei suoi fondatori), che ha dichiarato nel 1991 che la NED fa oggi quello che la CIA faceva in segreto 25 anni fa [6].


McCain definisce i movimenti per la democrazia in Medio oriente un “virus” (video in inglese non sottotitolato)

Ma torniamo alla nozione di «virus» nella definizione della contestazione data da McCain. Il senatore, che si era accontentato di circoscriverne la zona « endemica » al Medio Oriente, l’ha rapidamente estesa ad altri paesi di grande importanza strategica per gli Stati Uniti : la Russia e la Cina. Infatti nel novembre 2011 ha dichiarato: « Questa primavera araba è un virus che contagerà Mosca e Pechino » [7].


Secondo McCain, la promavera araba dovrà investire anche l’Iran, la Russia e la Cina (14 settembre 2011)

Qualche giorno dopo, McCain preciserà il proprio punto di vista sulla Russia, rivolgendosi direttamente a Vladimir Putin, twittando : « Caro Vlad, la primavera araba si avvicina a voi » [8]. Vero che McCain avrebbe potuto dire la stessa cosa qualche anno prima soltanto sostituendo l’espressione « primavera araba » con « rivoluzione colorata ». Non aveva infatti già tentato invano di « esportare » la democrazia nella Russia post-sovietica appoggiando il movimento « Oborona » [9]?

D’altronde è del tutto evidente che gli avvenimenti ucraini di qualche mese fa — conosciuti come Euromaïdan — s’inseriscono nel continuum di azioni che hanno come obiettivo di screditare Putin, destabilizzare la Russia e ridurre il suo campo di influenza geopolitica. Quello che non è stato possibile fare direttamente in Russia, potrebbe ottenersi usando l’Ucraina come un cavallo di Troia.

E’ per questo che McCain si è recato personalmente a Kiev per parlare direttamente ai ribelli di Maïdan il 14 dicembre 2013. « Noi siamo qui per sostenere la vostra giusta causa, il diritto sovrano dell’Ucraina a scegliere il proprio destino liberamente e in assoluta indipendenza. E il destino che desiderate si trova in Europa », ha chiarito [10]. Ricordiamo che il senatore statunitense in Ucraina si muove su un terreno conosciuto. Vi era infatti già stato nel febbraio 2005 [11] per incontrare i suoi « pupilli » della rivoluzione « arancione » che aveva ampiamente finanziato. Ma stavolta vi è stata una rimarchevole novità : non ha avuto remore a mostrarsi in pubblico con il leader di Svoboda, un partito ucraino apertamente ultra nazionalista, xenofobo e di ispirazione neonazista.


McCain sulla scena del Maidan, il 14 dicembre 2013

La seconda terra presa di mira dal « virus » primaverile di McCain è la Cina. E, come la Russia, anche questo paese ha un cavallo di Troia : Hong Kong.
Come bene spiega Xiao Chen, un giornalista cinese che lavora a Hong Kong, « Nella rivalità tra Stati Uniti e Cina, Hong Kong è una pedina importante (…) Non è facile per gli Stati Uniti provocare disordini in Cina, ma è facilissimo dare fastidio a Hong Kong… » [12].

Il virus a Hong Kong

Le manifestazioni che hanno scosso questa regione amministrativa cinese sono espressione di una campagna di disobbedienza civile molto bene orchestrata, destinata a fare pressione sul governo cinese per ottenere un vero suffragio universale alle prossime elezioni. Essa, a ben vedere, ha tutti i caratteri di un movimento di contestazione del tipo « rivoluzioni colorate ».

Sono quattro gli ingredienti necessari per mettere in movimento una « rivoluzione » di questo tipo : dei giovani attivisti motivati e mobilitati, una ideologia non violenta di opposizione al governo, un idoneo addestramento e dei finanziamenti.

Nel caso di questa ex colonia inglese, i protagonisti del movimento di protesta, inizialmente battezzato « Occupy Central with Love and Peace » (OCLP) sono per lo più giovani studenti hongkonghesi della Federazione degli studenti di Hong Kong (HKFS), insieme a un certo numero di politici dissidenti della vecchia guardia. Il nome del movimento è ispirato a quello di « Occupy Wall Street » con un tocco locale, « Central », che è il più importante quartiere degli affari di Hong Kong [13].

Logo dell’OCLP

Il modus operandi adottato nel corso delle manifestazioni corrisponde fedelmente a quello già osservato nei paesi toccati dalle rivoluzioni colorate (Serbia, Georgia, Ucraina e Kirghizistan) e dalla « primavera » araba (soprattutto Tunisia e Egitto). E’ oramai di pubblica notorietà che alcuni attivisti di questi diversi paesi sono stati formati dal Centro di azione e di strategie non violente applicate (Center for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies – CANVAS). Con sede nella capitale serba, CANVAS è un centro di formazione per attivisti in erba, diretto da Srdja Popovic, egli stesso ex leader del movimento Otpor, che ha giocato un ruolo di massima importanza nella caduta di Slobodan Milosevic nel 2000.
Il Centro è finanziato dall’IRI di McCain, ma anche da altre organizzazioni statunitensi di esportazione della democrazia, come Freedom House o l’Open Society Institute (OSI) del miliardario George Soros, illustre speculatore finanziario statunitense [14]. CANVAS effettua un lavoro di formazione secondo l’ideologia di resistenza individuale non violenta teorizzata dal filosofo e politologo statunitense Gene Sharp. Ha pubblicato un manuale dal titolo « La lotta non violenta in 50 punti » [15] nel quale vengono enumerati i metodi di azione non violenta, quali l’uso di slogan e simboli, la fraternizzazione col nemico, gli atti di preghiera e cerimonie religiose, le veglie e i canti, ecc.


Srdja Popovic mostra la edizione serba de « La lotta non violenta in 50 punti »

Tutte queste tecniche (e molte altre) sono state utilizzate dai dissidenti di vari paesi che sono stati formati da CANVAS. « La fraternizzazione col nemico » è stata certamente quella che più ha colpito. Per « nemico », si intendono le forze dell’ordine schierate contro i dissidenti. Si sono quindi visti a Kiev, Bichkek, Il Cairo o Tunisi, attivisti che distribuivano fiori o vettovaglie ai poliziotti e ai militari, fraternizzando con loro. Allo stesso modo, a Hong Kong, si sono scorti degli studenti tendere fiori e vettovaglie ai burocrati della città, fin dal primo mattino [16].

Diversi giorni prima dell’inizio della mobilitazione, gli attivisti dell’OCLP hanno pubblicato sul loro sito un « manuale della disobbedienza », dove spiegano tra l’altro la filosofia della disobbedienza civile e le regole della protesta non violenta, oltre a fornire raccomandazioni riguardo al cibo e al modo di vestirsi e a giudiziosi consigli in caso di arresto [17]. Questa lista di istruzioni per il « perfetto manifestante » è abbastanza completa ma per nulla originale. Viene in mente quello assai simile che avevano pubblicato sul loro sito gli attivisti egiziani del « Movimento del 6 aprile » (protagonisti della caduta di Mubarak). Era intitolata « Cosa fare in caso di arresto » [18]. E’ necessario ricordare che molti militanti del Movimento del 6 aprile sono stati formati da CANVAS [19]?

Cosa rara in un contesto di tal genere: Srdja Popovic in persona ha elogiato il movimento OCLP in un articolo pubblicato su Slate, definendo i suoi aderenti come i « manifestanti più educati del mondo » [20]. « Non sono giovani idealisti, sono degli operatori politici avvertiti che conoscono il segreto del successo della resistenza non violenta » ha affermato. Aggiungendo: « Con la sua fedele adesione alla non violenza « Occupy central » ha dimostrato preparazione, formazione e disciplina, una combinazione assai rara in molti movimenti ».

Possibile che Popovic sia coinvolto in questa formazione? Appare plausibile alla luce del suo incondizionato sostegno all’OCLP e dell’amplissima copertura garantita al movimento sulla sua pagina Facebook [22] e su quella di CANVAS [22]. E sembra ancora più evidente, a giudicare dalla meticolosa organizzazione delle manifestazioni e dal modus operandi. Anche il mutamento del nome del movimento da OCLP a una denominazione più « canvassiana » come « rivoluzione degli ombrelli » non è casuale.

Loghi della “rivoluzione degli ombrelli”

Il quarto e fondamentale ingrediente di questo tipo di « rivoluzioni » è sul versante finanziario. Infatti, malgrado le apparenze, queste proteste di massa non sono né spontanee, né intrinsecamente autoctone. Esse sono il frutto di una lunga e minuziosa preparazione e beneficiano di generosi finanziamenti da parte di organizzazioni specializzate nella « esportazione » della democrazia e di una ditirambica copertura mediatica di ampiezza planetaria. Nessuno potrebbe schierarsi contro la virtù, vero? Dei giovani, per la maggior parte studenti, che manifestano « pacificamente » e « amorevolmente » contro la “dittatura”, reclamando giustizia e democrazia. Cosa c’è di più nobile?

Ma, come dice il proverbio, « la virtù è come i denti : più è bianca e più è falsa ».

Il finanziamento del virus

Analizziamo dunque i finanziamenti delle varie organizzazioni che gravitano intorno alla dissidenza hongkonghese e ai loro leader.

Quando un gruppo di contestazione per la democrazia, che predica peraltro la non violenza, si scontra con un governo autoritario, inevitabilmente compare sulla scena una organizzazione « dirittidelluomista », A Hong Kong questo ruolo spetta a « Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor » (HKHRM). Diretto da Yuk-kai Law, il HKHRM è regolarmente sovvenzionato dalla NED. Infatti i rapporti annuali della NED mostrano che, tra il 2007 e il 2013, quest’organizzazione di difesa dei diritti dell’uomo ha ricevuto circa un milione di dollari in finanziamenti diretti [23].

Yuk-Kai Law

Oltre ad avere stretti rapporti con la NED, il direttore del HKHRM è in contatti con Freedom House, come dimostra il fatto che quest’ultima ha pagato tutte le spese del suo soggiorno negli Stati Uniti [24]. L’attiva presenza di Freedom House a Hong Kong è stata anche osservata da alcuni specialisti delle relazioni sino-USA [25].

I rapporti della NED di cui si è detto prima menzionano anche somme versate al NDI nel 2009 e 2012 « per favorire la sensibilizzazione nei confronti delle istituzioni politiche di Hong Kong e il processo di riforma costituzionale e sviluppare la capacità dei cittadini – soprattutto gli studenti universitari – a partecipare in modo più efficace al dibattito pubblico sulle riforme politiche […] ». Le somme totali per questi due anni superano i 700.000 $ [26].

Sul sito del NDI, si può leggere in proposito : « Tra il 1997 e il 2011, il NDI ha organizzato una serie di missioni a Hong Kong per promuovere l’elaborazione del quadro delle elezioni, lo statuto di autonomia, lo Stato di diritto e le libertà civili oltre alle prospettive e le sfide della democratizzazione » [27].

Benny Tai è co-fondatore del movimento OCLP e uno dei suoi leader. Professore aggregato di Diritto all’università di Hong Kong, è anche membro del Consiglio di gestione del « Centre for Comparative and Public Law » (CCPL) della stessa università. Secondo il rapporto di attività 2011-2013, il CCPL è un centro che ha per missione di « diffondere la conoscenza del diritto pubblico e le questioni dei diritti dell’uomo » [28]. La relazione tra questo centro e il NDI viene menzionato nello stesso rapporto : « Il CCPL ha ricevuto un finanziamento del National Democratic Institute (NDI) per ideare e realizzare un sito internet sui modelli di suffragio universale, dove il grande pubblico possa discutere e fornire commenti e idee sul metodo di suffragio universale più appropriato per Hong Kong ».

Questa informazione trova riscontro sul sito del NDI : « Il CCPL dell’Università di Hong Kong, col sostegno del NDI, lavora per dare risalto alla voce dei cittadini in questo processo di consultazione con la creazione di « Design Democracy Hong Kong » (www.designdemocracy.hk), un sito unico e neutrale che fornisce ai cittadini un luogo dove discutere del futuro elettorale di Hong Kong » (29).

Presentato come un « superdotato della rivoluzione » [30], Joshua Wong, uno studente di 17 anni, è indubbiamente la figura più mediatizzata del movimento OLCP. Il suo precoce attivismo ha riempito le pagine dei media « mainstream » che riferiscono della sua « epica » lotta contro l’adozione nelle scuole di Hong Kong di un nuovo programma scolastico mirante a sviluppare il sentimento patriottico cinese. Per opporsi a questo progetto, egli ha co-fondato un movimento studentesco chiamato « Scholarism » e mobilitato migliaia di manifestanti. Il progetto è stato alla fine ritirato nel 2012 : aveva solo 15 anni.


Il giovanissimo leader della protesta studentesca, Joshua Wong

Ma questo ritratto è stato recentemente scalfito in un articolo pubblicato da Wen Wei Po, un giornale hongkonghese definito (per screditarlo) come filo-cinese dai media occidentali. Si legge che « ambienti statunitensi hanno scelto Wong tre anni prima e hanno lavorato con lui per trasformarlo in superstar politica» [31]. Secondo l’articolo, Joshua Wong sarebbe stato in stretti rapporti col personale del consolato USA a Hong Kong e avrebbe ricevuto forti somme di denaro [32].

La notizia non è del tutto nuova. Le ambasciate statunitensi dei vari paesi toccati dalle rivoluzioni colorate o dalla « primavera » araba si sono sempre comportate così. Per prima cosa individuano gli attivisti dotati di capacità di leadership; quindi stringono stretti rapporti con loro e li finanziano: viaggi tutto pagato, formazione negli Stati Uniti o all’estero, partecipazione a conferenze o simposi, incontri con personalità USA di alto rango, ecc. E’ il caso di molti attivisti come, per esempio, il serbo Srdja Popovic [33], la yemenita (e Premio Nobel per la Pace) Tawakkol Karman [34], gli egiziani Adel Mohamed e Bassem Samir [35], i tunisini Slim Amamou e Emna Ben Jemaa [36].

L’articolo del Wen Wei Po menziona anche l’intento dell’amministrazione statunitense di infiltrare le scuole di Hong Kong. Di primo acchito, questa accusa sembra iscriversi nelle teorie del complotto. E tuttavia non si tratta di un’affermazione falsa, stando a quanto dice il dottor Shen Benqiu dell’università di Guangzhou (Cina). In un interessantissimo articolo sulle relazioni tra Stati Uniti e Hong Kong, pubblicato nel 2012 (vale a dire più di due anni e mezzo prima di OCLP), egli nota che « Gli USA attribuiscono grande importanza alla giovane generazione di Hong Kong perché sperano di trarre profitto dalla loro scarsa identificazione con la Cina continentale » [37]. Più precisamente, precisa che « due novità si sono registrate dopo il 2007. Prima di tutto le ONG statunitensi hanno ampliato i loro rapporti di collaborazione a Hong Kong includendo, oltre alle fazioni politiche, anche gli istituti di insegnamento superiore (…). La seconda novità è che gli obiettivi delle ONG statunitensi si sono progressivamente estese ai giovani, alle donne e al lavoro, ponendo l’accento sulla gioventù ». Per dimostrare la sua tesi, Shen Benqiu cita diverse attività della NDI e di altre organizzazioni satelliti della NED.

Intervistato dalla CNN, il giovane Wong ha dichiarato : « Il popolo non dovrebbe avere timore del governo. E’ il governo che dovrebbe temere il suo popolo ». Una frase ispirata dal best-seller di Gene Sharp « From Dictatorship to Democracy » (Dalla dittatura alla democrazia) e un principio insegnato da CANVAS.

Le attività di Yuk-kai Law, Benny Tai e Joshua Wong, tre figure emblematiche della dissidenza hongkonghese, illustrano in modo pedagogico l’ingerenza delle organizzazioni statunitensi di « esportazione » della democrazia. I primi due rappresentano la vecchia guardia, mentre il terzo proviene dai movimenti giovanili hongkonghesi, che, secondo il dottor Shen Benqiu, vengono prioritariamente curati dall’amministrazione USA

In un articolo estremamente dettagliato, Tony Cartalucci cita altri attivisti dell’OCLP, precisandone i rapporti con NED, il NDI o il Dipartimento di Stato USA [38]. Citiamo a titolo di esempio Martin Lee, il presidente fondatore del Partito Democratico di Hong Kong, Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, la presidente del Partito civico o il cardinale Jospeh Zen.

Piccola precisazione a proposito di Martin Lee : il 4 aprile 2014, è stato ricevuto alla Casa Bianca dal vicepresidente Joe Biden e, il giorno precedente, da Nancy Pelosi, la speaker del partito democratico alla Camera dei Rappresentanti.

Questa evidente ingerenza statunitense nel dossier di Hong Kong, attraverso le sue organizzazioni di « esportazione » della democrazia, ha fatto dire a Wang Haiyun, vicepresidente dell’Istituto cinese di ricerche sulla storia delle relazioni sino-russe, che il suo paese dovrebbe seguire l’esempio della Russia, che obbliga le ONG finanziate dall’estero a iscriversi come « agenti stranieri ». « Possiamo seguire l’esempio della Russia e varare una ‘legge sul denaro straniero’ onde bloccare l’infiltrazione di forze straniere e sventare il pericolo di una rivoluzione colorata », ha concluso nel suo articolo del luglio 2014 [39].

Secondo le attese, gli Stati uniti hanno fornito il loro sostegno ai manifestanti:
« Noi seguiamo da vicino la situazione a Hong Kong. Dovunque nel mondo, gli USA sostengono le libertà fondamentali, come quelle di pacifica manifestazione e di espressione riconosciute internazionalmente. Esortiamo le autorità di Hong Kong a dare prova di moderazione e i manifestanti ad esprimere le loro opinioni pacificamente. Gli Stati Uniti sostengono il suffragio universale a Hong Kong in conformità con la Legge fondamentale, ed appoggiamo le aspirazioni del popolo di Hong Kong » [40].

La risposta a questa dichiarazione viene da John Ross, dell’università Renmin  di Cina che ha scritto sulla sua pagina Sina Weibo: « La copertura data dai media occidentali ai fatti di Hong Kong e semplicemente troppo ipocrita. Nei 150 anni in cui i coloni inglesi hanno regnato su Hong Kong, la Gran Bretagna non ha mai permesso alla popolazione di Hong Kong di eleggere il loro governatore, e la cosa non ha mai creato alcun problema agli Stati Uniti. La Cina ha adottato un sistema di governo di Hong Kong assai più democratico di quello della Gran Bretagna, ma gli Stati Uniti hanno vivamente protestato contro il governo cinese» [41].

Il virus preparato dal senatore McCain nel suo laboratorio di « esportazione » della democrazia riuscirà a infettare il « Porto dei Profumi » [42] pe poi contaminare tutta la Cina?

Niente è meno certo. Tutto dipenderà certamente dalla virulenza del ceppo virale, ma anche dalla disponibilità di un efficace vaccino

Ahmed Bensaada

oclp_blind_umbrella

Hong Kong : un virus sous le parapluie

Italiano : http://www.ossin.org/cina/hong-kong-un-virus-sotto-l-ombrello.html

Riferimenti:

1.    Alex Seitz Wald, « McCain Calls Middle East Pro-Democracy Movement A ‘Virus’ », Think Progress, 3 febbraio 2011, http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/02/03/142130/mccain-egypt-virus/

2.    Manon Loizeau, « États-Unis à la conquête de l’Est », 2005. Un notevole documento sulle rivoluzioni colorate che può essere visto all’indirizzo : http://www.ahmedbensaada.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=120:arabesque-americaine-chapitre-1&catid=46:qprintemps-arabeq&Itemid=119

3.    Ahmed Bensaada, « Arabesque américaine : Le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes de la rue arabe », Éditions Michel Brûlé, Montréal (2011), Éditions Synergie, Alger (2012)

4.    William J. Dobson, « The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy », Random House Canada Limited, Toronto, 2012

5.    Ahmed Bensaada, « Arabesque américaine : Le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes de la rue arabe », Op. cit.

6.    F. William Engdahl, « Géopolitique et “révolutions des couleurs” contre la tyrannie », Horizons et débats, n° 33, ottobre 2005, http://www.horizonset-debats.ch/33/33_16.htm

7.    Steve Clemons, « The Arab Spring: ‘A Virus That Will Attack Moscow and Beijing’ », The Atlantic, 19 novembre 2011, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/11/the-arab-spring-a-virus-that-will-attack-moscow-and-beijing/248762/

8.    John McCain. (5 dicembre 2011). Dear Vlad, The #ArabSpring is coming to a neighborhood near you: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204770404577077711550134028.html?mod=WSJ_World_LeadStory …[Tweet]. Adresse URL: https://twitter.com/SenJohnMcCain/status/143689929975799809

9.    Manon Loizeau, « États-Unis à la conquête de l’Est », 2005. Vedi l’ultima parte del documentario. Op. cit.

10.    Richard Balmforth et Gabriela Baczynska, « Nouvelle manifestation à Kiev, l’UE suspend les négociations », Le Point, 15 dicembre 2013, http://www.lepoint.fr/fil-info-reuters/nouvelle-manifestation-a-kiev-l-ue-suspend-les-negociations-15-12-2013-1769842_240.php

11.    Archives du Gouvernement ukrainien, « Orange Revolution Democracy Emerging in Ukraine »,http://www.archives.gov.ua/Sections/Ukraineomni/ukrelection030905a.htm

12.    Laura He, « Hong Kong protests, as seen by Chinese mainlanders », Market Watch, 2 ottobre 2014,http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hong-kong-protests-as-seen-by-chinese-mainlanders-2014-10-02

13.    Peter Beinart, « The Americans Who Inspired Hong Kong’s Protesters », The Atlantic, 3 ottobre 2014, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/10/the-americans-who-inspired-hong-kongs-protesters/381095/

14.    Ahmed Bensaada, « Il ruolo degli Stati Uniti nelle rivolte arabe : il caso dell’Egitto », www.ossin.org, febbraio 2011,
 http://www.ossin.org/analisi-e-interventi/otpor-canvas-wael-ghonim-george-soros.html

15.    Ahmed Bensaada, « “Printemps” arabe : le rôle des États-Unis », in « La face cachée des révolutions arabes », Éditions Ellipses (Paris), 2012, p.359

16.    Sébastien Falletti, « À Hongkong, la “révolution des parapluies” s’accroche », Le Figaro, 6 ottobre 2014, http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2014/10/06/01003-20141006ARTFIG00302–hongkong-la-revolution-des-parapluies-s-accroche.php

17.    Occupy Central with Love and Peace, « Manual of Disobedience », http://oclp.hk/index.php?route=occupy/eng_detail&eng_id=28

18.    Mouvement de la jeunesse du 6 avril, « Que vas-tu faire si tu es arrêté? », http://shabab6april.wordpress.com/%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%86%D8%AD%D9%86-%D9%88-%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B0%D8%A7-%D9%86%D8%AD%D9%86-%D9%87%D9%86%D8%A7-%D9%88-%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%81%D8%9F%D8%9F/%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%8A%D9%87-%D9%84%D9%88-%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A8%D8%B6-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%83/

19. Ahmed Bensaada, « Arabesque américaine : Le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes de la rue arabe », Op. cit.

20.    Srdja Popovic and Tori Porell, « The World’s Politest Protesters », Slate, 1er ottobre 2014, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/10/occupy_central_s_polite_protesters_the_hong_kong_demonstrators_are_disciplined.html

21.    Srdja Popovic, « Page Facebook », https://www.facebook.com/SrdjaPopovicPage

22.    CANVAS, « Page Facebook », https://www.facebook.com/Power.to.the.People.CANVAS?fref=nf

23.    Per consultare i rapporti della NED: http://www.ned.org/publications. Quello relativo all’anno 2013 è all’indirizzo URL : http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/asia/china-hong-kong

24.    Ravina Shamdasani, « We will bad-mouth Article 23 but not HK, says Martin Lee », South China Morning Post, 30 maggio 2003, http://www.scmp.com/article/417069/we-will-bad-mouth-article-23-not-hk-says-martin-lee

25.    Shen Benqiu, « An Unwelcome Presence: U.S. Interference in Hong Kong Since 2007 », China International Studies, gennaio-febbraio 2012, p. 108, http://www.dragon-report.com/Dragon_Report/HOME/HOME_files/US%20Interference%20in%20Hong%20Kong%20Since%202007.pdf

26.    Vedi riferimento 22

27.    The National Democratic Institute, « Where we Work: Hong Kong », https://www.ndi.org/hong-kong?quicktabs_country_page_tabs=0#quicktabs-country_page_tabs

28.    Centre for Comparative and Public Law, « Annual Report: July 2011-June 2013 », Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, http://www.law.hku.hk/ccpl/Docs/Annual%20Report%202011%20-%202013.pdf

29.    The National Democratic Institute, « Designing Democracy in Hong Kong », 29 gennaio 2014,https://www.ndi.org/hong-kong-designing%20democracy

30.    Philippe Grangerau, «  Joshua Wong, le surdoué de la révolution », 1° ottobre 2014, http://www.liberation.fr/monde/2014/10/01/joshua-wong-le-surdoue-de-la-revolution_1112812

31.    Isabella Steger, « Pro-Beijing Media Accuses Hong Kong Student Leader of U.S. Government Ties », The Wall Street Journal, 25 settembre 2014, http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/09/25/pro-beijing-media-accuses-hong-kong-student-leader-of-u-s-government-ties/?mod=djemChinaRTR_h

32.    Tom Parfitt, « Russian state television says Britain and US provoked Hong Kong protests », 30 settembre 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/hongkong/11131070/Russian-state-television-says-Britain-and-US-provoked-Hong-Kong-protests.html

33.    William J. Dobson, « The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy », Op. cit.

34.    Ahmed Bensaada, « Mais qui est donc Tawakkol Karman, la première femme arabe nobélisée?». A. Bensaada, Le Quotidien d’Oran, 13 ottobre 2011, http://www.ahmedbensaada.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=141:mais-qui-est-donc-tawakkol-karman-la-premiere-femme-arabe-nobelisee&catid=46:qprintemps-arabeq&Itemid=119

35.    Ahmed Bensaada, « Arabesque américaine : Le rôle des États-Unis dans les révoltes de la rue arabe », Op. cit.

36.    Ahmed Bensaada, « Le printemps arabe : une saison aux couleurs américaine », Éditions Synergie (Alger), in via di pubblicazione.

37.    Shen Benqiu, « An Unwelcome Presence: U.S. Interference in Hong Kong since 2007 », Op. cit.

38.    Tony Cartalucci, « Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central” is US-backed Sedition », New Eastern Outlook, 1° ottobre 2014, http://journal-neo.org/2014/10/01/hong-kong-s-occupy-central-is-us-backed-sedition/

39    Wang Haiyun, « Remain on alert for dangers of Western-backed ‘color revolutions’ », Global Times, 21 luglio 2014, http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/873666.shtml

40.    Reuters, « White House Shows Support For Aspirations Of Hong Kong People », The Huffington Post, 29 settembre 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/29/white-house-hong-kong_n_5901782.html

41.    Laura He, « Hong Kong protests, as seen by Chinese mainlanders », Market watch, 2 ottobre 2014, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hong-kong-protests-as-seen-by-chinese-mainlanders-2014-10-02

42.    Traduzione letterale di « Hong Kong »

Un esercito moderno del terzo millennio si basa su un sistema integrato ricognizione-attacco, in grado di rilevare e monitorare continuamente il nemico per determinarne le debolezze e il momento ottimale per distruggerlo.

L’unica forma di assicurazione in combattimento, nota nella scienza militare, è il rilevamento in tempo reale della posizione dei combattenti nemici, lo stato del loro materiale bellico e trarne le intenzioni da movimenti e manovre nello spazio e nel tempo. A differenza di altre forme di ricognizione, la ricognizione aerospaziale ha il vantaggio di coprire l’intero teatro delle operazioni militari. Nel 2014, l’esercito russo completò la realizzazione di nuove strutture da ricognizione, basate sul complesso da ricognizione-attacco progettato per assicurare il dispiegamento immediato delle forze con la massima precisione e a distanze di diverse centinaia o migliaia di chilometri. Con queste complesse strutture, la Russia ora possiede quei sistemi di ultima generazione che solo gli statunitensi avevano. La NATO è consapevole del fatto che, a causa della nuova struttura da ricognizione, l’esercito russo ormai conosca molto bene la posizione di tutte le forze e i mezzi degli eserciti dei Paesi della NATO vicini alla Russia. Può rilevare in tempo reale ogni nuovo dispiegamento di truppe NATO nelle aree lungo i suoi confini. Va ricordato che il successo di qualsiasi operazione di terra è impensabile senza l’uso di velivoli senza equipaggio (UAV) che, con termocamere a infrarossi e vari sensori, pattugliano i cieli 24 ore su 24. Negli ultimi dieci anni, i combattimenti in aree popolate contro la guerriglia urbana sono stati efficaci proprio per l’uso simultaneo di droni, cacciabombardieri ed elicotteri d’attacco.

slide0021_image181

Gli eserciti moderni, della Federazione russa come gli Stati Uniti, utilizzano un programma complesso, su tre livelli di raccolta ed elaborazione dati, per formarsi un quadro completo della situazione nel teatro delle operazioni terrestri. Oltre alle informazioni raccolte da oltre un centinaio di satelliti militari russi, dotati di sensori di vario tipo. Il primo livello è fornito da 4-6 minivelivoli senza equipaggio (UAV) tipo Zala 421-08 (Strekoza) disponibili ad ogni battaglione delle forze di terra dell’esercito russo. Sono silenziosi, propulsi da un motore elettrico, con un raggio di 30 km e una quota di volo di 2000 m.

933736799_z4JLG-640x427Yakovlev Pchela-1T UAV

36 altri droni Jakovlev Pchela-1 T e Rubezh (simile allo statunitense RQ-7 Shadow) a corto raggio e quota di volo di 2500-3600 m, sono assegnati a brigate di fanteria, d’artiglieria e aeroportate russe. Sono dotati di dispositivi elettro-ottici agli infrarossi e sensori in grado di distinguere un bersaglio in movimento e rilevare lo spostamento di decine di centimetri dell’ombra di un uomo a una distanza di 700 m. I droni a corto raggio hanno un’autonomia di 2-4 ore, con un campo di osservazione totale ma con scarse apertura e profondità. Ecco perché le brigate carri armati russi, che hanno un alto ritmo offensivo, devono dotarsi, entro il 2015, di quattro velivoli senza pilota da ricognizione con autonomia intermedia Dozor 600, simile all’MQ-1B Predator statunitense. L’equipaggiamento di navigazione è un FLIR che include videocamera diurna e agli infrarossi, telemetro laser e un proiettore laser per dirigere le armi. Come l’MQ-1 Predator ha un sensore di movimento SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar); il Dozor è dotato di sistemi subalari cui poter appendere due missili laserguidati, due lanciarazzi o 6 bombe da 20 kg.

Dozor 600

Il secondo livello di raccolta ed elaborazione dei dati è strettamente legato a tutte le unità in campo, ed è composto dalla flotta di elicotteri russi in supporto alle forze di terra. Si tratta in particolare degli elicotteri da ricognizione e attacco Mi-24V/Mi-35, Mi-28 e Ka-52 Alligator. I sensori di navigazione FLIR, il sistema di gestione dei dati di tiro e di ricerca dell’elicottero sono montati nella speciale carenatura MMS sul muso del velivolo. L’equipaggiamento comprende una telecamera diurna e una ad impronta termica notturna, un piccolo radar a frequenze millimetriche e un telemetro laser per dirigere armi ad alta precisione. Il terzo livello di raccolta ed elaborazione dati è la ricognizione strategica, rappresentata da aerei da ricognizione a lungo raggio. La Russia possiede 17 droni furtivi Skat, simili al tipo RQ-170 Sentinel statunitense usato in Afghanistan, con una quota massima di 12000 metri e un’autonomia di 4000 chilometri.

SKAT-UAV

Ma alla base rimangono essenzialmente i velivoli da ricognizione ELINT, con a bordo equipaggi specializzati. La Russia ha 20 velivoli Il-20M1, con un’autonomia di 6500 chilometri e quota di volo di 11800 m, in grado di pattugliare i cieli per 12 ore senza rifornimento. L’Il-20M1 ha un team di otto specialisti ELINT e un radar ad alta potenza. Il radar Kvalat-2 rappresenta su schermi digitali la mappa del terreno lungo la rotta fino a una distanza di 300 km. Nella memoria del processore, una scheda viene registrata confrontando automaticamente la mappa per rilevare la comparsa di mezzi da combattimento nemici o modifiche ai dati già raccolti nella memoria. La ricognizione tramite “radiolocalizzazione” avviene con le apparecchiature Romb-4 per rilevare segretamente e visualizzazione sullo schermo la posizione di tutti i trasmettitori terrestri che operano fino ad una distanza di 500 km. Con la memoria del processore, è possibile identificare nuovi radar della difesa antiaerea, centri comando di battaglioni, brigate e corpi d’armata, o cambi delle postazioni già note. Altri specialisti a bordo del velivolo operano con sensori nello spettro visibile e a infrarossi ad alta risoluzione. Tutte le informazioni raccolte vengono trasmesse immediatamente attraverso una linea-dati video criptata a una rete automatizzata di gestione C4I dello Stato maggiore tattico. Per via delle apparecchiature di bordo, il costo dell’Il-20M1 è diverse volte superiore a quello di un aereo di quinta generazione F-22. Inoltre, l’esercito russo usa per la ricognizione ad alta quota, 42 caccia MiG-25RB appositamente modificati per la ricognizione. Volano a 3470 km/h (Mach 3,2) a una quota massima di 24400 m. La Russia utilizza anche una squadriglia di bombardieri strategici (Tu-142/Tu-95M), che volano ad una velocità di 920 km/h a una quota di 12000 m.

Il-20MLa complessa struttura ricognizione-attacco della ricognizione aerea è soggetta all’avanzato sistema automatizzato C4I dello stato maggiore tattico, che svolge le seguenti funzioni: comando, controllo, comunicazioni, computer ed informazioni relative all’interoperabilità. I sistemi C4I russi rappresentano l’ultima generazione di microprocessori e apparecchiature per comunicazioni via satellite, compresi sensori da sorveglianza e controllo. Inoltre, questi sistemi dispongono di potenti memorie e server di ultima generazione, con crittografia digitale sicura su tutto lo spettro delle frequenze, rendendo le interferenze impossibili. C4I assegna automaticamente il target individuato a sistemi d’attacco terrestri (artiglieria, missili superficie-superficie), sistemi navali a bordo di navi o sistemi aerei a bordo dei velivoli da combattimento, in funzione della loro portata. Ucraina, Polonia, Stati Baltici e Romania hanno sistemi da ricognizione rudimentali e non possono nemmeno sognarsi di avere mai un sistema da ricognizione-attacco integrante il C4I. Anche se l’Ucraina non ha una struttura da ricognizione paragonabile a quelle della Russia, il rapporto di forza tra il suo esercito e quello del Donbas (8 a 1 numericamente, qualitativamente 1 a 20), a favore dell’esercito ucraino e con supremazia aerea assoluta, non è stato ancora sfruttato nella cosiddetta operazione antiterroristica contro i separatisti nel Donbas. La vetustità degli equipaggiamenti da ricognizione aerea ucraini, risalenti agli anni ’50-’60, costringono questi aerei a volare entro la portata dei missili mobili dei combattenti della Novorossija. Questi hanno potuto abbattere quattro aerei da ricognizione ucraini, mettendo fine ai voli da ricognizione dell’esercito di Kiev. Il governo di Julija Timoshenko fece la cosa più stupida degli ultimi 23 anni, ritirando e abolendo nel 2006 l’ultimo squadrone bombardieri e ricognizione ucraino, dotato dei supersonici Tu-22M3. I 43 velivoli Tu-22M3 ereditati alla dissoluzione dell’ex Unione Sovietica potevano volare a 2000 km/h (Mach 1,88) a 14500 m di quota. Se l’Ucraina fosse stata veramente interessata ad acquisire piattaforme aeree con moderni sistemi di ricognizione, forse ci sarebbe stata un’altra situazione sul campo di battaglia.

 

Noua structură de cercetare-lovire C4I a armatei ruse

avion russe 2

Nouvelle structure de reconnaissance et de frappe C4I de l’armée russe

http://reseauinternational.net/nouvelle-structure-reconnaissance-frappe-c4i-larmee-russe/

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio – SitoAurora

 

Rage of Democracy in America

October 24th, 2014 by Eric Zuesse

On the one side are Republicans, who resent taxes and self-identify with rich people who say that government is basically a huge waste of money and only private business is efficient and productive.

On the other side are Democrats, who don’t resent anything and who say that government is good enough to be worth the taxes that are paying for it.

Neither party is “pro-government,” and both parties are “pro-private-enterprise” or pro-corporate; so, what America actually has is two conservative parties, one of which — the Republicans — is extremely conservative.
Those are the only two political parties that have a history and a donor-base that’s big enough to stand a chance of winning 99% of elections in America; so, third parties exist here only to draw off more support from voters of one of the two real parties than from the other, and thus to throw elections in close races and thereby use their voter-base of fools so as to enable them to extort something from one of the two real parties. Otherwise, they’re simply stupid, all the way from their bottom to their top.

That’s the reality of the ideological ‘debate’ in the United States increasingly during recent decades: conservatism versus extreme conservatism, the latter of which is otherwise called “fascism.”

How did this ideologically monotonous, all-conservative, America come about?

Republican donors have simply been winning. They especially won in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-Republican to 4-Democrat Citizens United decision that makes a corporation (either profit or nonprofit) a “person” with the special privilege to donate unlimited and even secret cash to any and all political campaigns.

In November 1933, the founder of today’s form of extreme conservatism or “fascism,” Benito Mussolini,” defined what fascism is, by saying (see page 426 there) that it’s “corporationsm”: he wrote that “the corporation plays on the economic terrain just as the Grand Council and the militia play on the political terrain. Corporationism is disciplined economy, and from that comes control, because one cannot imagine a discipline without a director. Corporationism is above socialism and above liberalism. A new synthesis is created.”

In other words, he said: corporations are more efficient than any government can be; so, governments should be run like corporations are — top-down by a decisive CEO — in order to get things done that government wants done, and to do it quickly and efficiently, not to waste money.

Mussolini’s teacher was Vilfredo Pareto, who defined the very concept of “efficiency” that’s used in today’s economic theory; he said that it’s simply transactions in which all participants are participating voluntarily. In other words: there is no government over them, no regulator of the economy; there are just trades, transactions, these being voluntary, like in the idealized economy. (But, he ignored what ‘voluntary’ means; he instead used a self-invented term “ophelimity” for that, in order to ward off questions to which he had no answer: all of the important questions — such as “Taxes aren’t voluntary; are they therefore automatically inefficient, bad, welfare-reducing?” And: “If someone buys or sells on the basis of misrepresentations, was the transaction ‘voluntary’?” Pareto was just a con-artist in the intellectual sphere, but a very successful one.)

Mussolini promised to “make the trains run on time”; he would be the CEO to do that, so that people could go efficiently about their private business, while he tried to minimize the role of government in the economy. To him, government was just a necessary evil, and should be run more like a corporation is run. Bureaucracy wasn’t seen as the evil; government bureaucracy was, and he wanted to reduce it to a minimum, transferring it to private corporations, which would supposedly be more “efficient.” He invented the privatization of what had been government, tax-supported, functions. In September 2009, the European University Institute issued their RSCAS_2009_46.pdf, titled “From Public to Private: Privatization in 1920’s Fascist Italy,” (subsequently retitled “The First Privatization: Selling SOEs” in the 2011 Cambridge Journal of Economics) by Germa Bel, who said in her summary:

“Privatization was an important policy in Italy in 1922-1925. The Fascist government was alone in transferring State ownership and services to private firms in the 1920s; no other country in the world would engage in such a policy until Nazi Germany did so between 1934 and 1937.” She particularly noted: “In his first speech as a member of the Italian Parliament in June 1921, Mussolini said: ‘The State must have a police, a judiciary, an army, and a foreign policy. All other things, and I do not exclude secondary education, must go back to the private activity of individuals.’”

That policy was subsequently taken up by Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Margaret Thatcher in Britain, and Ronald Reagan in the U.S., because the ideology, fascism, gradually became normalized throughout the West, via corporate-backed people such as Milton Friedman and other extremist conservatives; and liberals merely rejected it, they didn’t offer any coherent ideology to replace it.

The Cold War against the communists had given fascism a privileged position: one couldn’t talk against “the free market” without running up against Joseph R. McCarthy’s anti-communist witch-hunts or other people’s similarly far-right nationalist demagoguery, which meant that there was really no acceptable alternative to fascism, in the West.

Then, when communism fell, and when it became replaced (under the guidance of the Harvard economics department, thoroughly Paretian of course) in the 1990s, with fascisms, and massive privatizations of previously state-owned assets, there was no clear alternative anywhere to fascism. Mussolini had won WWII, after his death — first in the communist countries, then in the rest. Aristocrats were now firmly in control worldwide.

What the Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court did in their Citizens United decision was simply to carry this privatization-ideology more fully into the sphere of U.S. political campaigns. The five fascist ‘Justices’ didn’t refer to Benito Mussolini, but, if they had been honest, they would have — and they wouldn’t have referred at all to the U.S. Constitution, which, certainly in its original intent, was anti-corporate.

The author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, wrote, on 12 November 1816, to his long-time friend Dr. George Logan of Philadelphia, about the “profligacy” of England’s government, wasting resources to prop up its international corporations, which Jefferson said had brought about “the ruin of its people” in order to benefit aristocrats. He said, “This ruin [in England] will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall, on that hereditary aristocracy which has for generations been preparing the catastrophe [meaning creating the catastrophe (by corrupting the government), not meaning to prepare for the catastrophe]. I hope we shall take warning from the [English] example [e.g., the British East India Company] and crush in it’s [sic] birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

On 26 December 1827, he wrote to William B. Giles, warning that “younger recruits, who, having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of ’76, now look to a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and moneyed incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry. This will be to them a next best blessing to the monarchy of their first aim, and perhaps the surest stepping-stone to it.” He was forecasting fascism, as America’s enemy.

Benjamin Franklin was equally clear about this. In James Madison’s extensive account of the proceedings at the U.S. Constitutional Convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution, Madison recorded, on 10 August 1787, concerning a proposal that had been put forth by a certain proponent of slavery, Charles Pinckney (sometimes spelled “Pinkney”), to restrict voting only to people who had property, that (in Madison’s paraphrase of Benjamin Franklin’s speech), Franklin had asserted on this date, that:

“the possession of property increased the desire of more property — Some of the greatest rogues he was ever acquainted with, were the richest rogues. We should remember the character which the Scripture requires in Rulers, that they should be men hating covetousness — This Constitution will be much read and attended to in Europe, and if it should betray a great partiality to the rich — will not only hurt us in the esteem of the most liberal and enlightened men there, but discourage the common people from removing to this Country.” (Precursing the Statue of Liberty: it didn’t just happen — our Founders were planning for it.)

Madison immediately added there: “The Motion of Mr. Pinkney was rejected by so general a no, that the States were not called.”

Not only did Franklin’s statement sway the entire convention; it caused Madison himself, ever-afterwards, to change his mind from ambiguity to clearly favoring persons over property.

Thus, in 1821, he wrote that:

“there are various ways in which the rich may oppress the poor; in which property may oppress liberty. … It is necessary that the poor should have a defence against the danger. … Under every view of the subject, it seems indispensable that the mass of citizens should not be without a voice, in making the laws which they are to obey, & in choosing the magistrates, who are to administer them, and if the only alternative be between an equal & universal right of suffrage for each branch of the Govt. and a confinement of the entire right to a part of the citizens, it is better that those having the greater interest at stake namely that of property & persons both, should be deprived of [that] half their share in the Govt.; than, that those having the lesser interest, that of personal rights only, should be deprived of the whole.”

Alexander Hamilton was fairly quiet about this matter at the Convention, but he had already been fully on record as having written, on 23 February 1775, in his The Farmer Refuted, that:

“no Englishman who can be deemed a free agent in a political view can be bound by laws to which he has not consented, either in person or by his representative. … It is therefore evident, to a demonstration, that unless a free agent in America be permitted to enjoy the same privilege [as in England], we are entirely stripped of the benefits of the constitution, and precipitated into an abyss of slavery. For we are deprived of that immunity which is the grand pillar and support of freedom. And this cannot be done without a direct violation of the [then-existing British] constitution.”

Hamilton was saying that one of the reasons a revolution against the King was necessary is that the King was violating the British Constitution, by denying all (non-slave) colonists an equal right to vote, irrespective of how wealthy they might happen to be.

However, the fascist jurist Antonin Scalia famously said, with glee, in the 12 December 2000 Bush v. Gore case (5 Republicans beating 4 Democrats), that, “the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.” Scalia refused to mention that that’s not because the original intent of the Founders wasn’t overwhelmingly in favor of equal voting rights for all non-slaves. (But women were yet another traditionalist issue too hot to touch in that era.) Scalia’s Constitutional “originalism” rejects the original intent of the Founders, but instead is based upon the bigoted intent of the most-conservative Americans and even Britishers during that time, as constituting our Constitution’s “original intent”; and, so, Scalia is unalterably opposed to the concept of one-person-one-vote, and he does all that he can to amplify the voting-power of the wealthy, via increasing the influence of money over our ‘elections.’ This naturally tends to transform one-person-one-vote into one-dollar-one-vote (which is the fascist ideal: rule by dollars, instead of rule by voters).

The entire thrust of Republican Supreme Court ‘Justices,’ in regards to electoral disputes, has been based far more upon the attitudes and values of people such as Benito Mussolini, than reflecting people such as Benjamin Franklin. Big-money has taken over, and liberals haven’t provided any alternative to that ideology. But Franklin did. And Jefferson did. And Madison did. And Hamilton did. Many of America’s great Founders did.

This fact is being ignored, because the wealthy interests who have financed conservative scholars don’t want it to become known. And liberal aristocrats, such as George Soros, serve more to distract such debates than to finance authentically progressive scholars, such as Zephyr Teachout, the author of the brilliant “Constitutional Purpose and the Anti-Corruption Principle”. In a briefer and more down-to-earth vein than Teachout’s, is my own “Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court Are Wrong:

The Original Intent of the U.S. Constitution Was Progressive.” Such progressive writings are marginalized, because people like Soros, Gates, the Kochs, and the Waltons, are of only two basic types: some of them (the few ‘liberal’ aristocrats) ignore the ideological issue, but the others of them are strongly ideological, finance conservative scholars, and thus determine what type of thinking is ‘respectable’, and what types are not. (Truth doesn’t equate with their ‘respectability’.)

The conservatives have pre-empted a true jurisprudence of original intent, in order to block an authentic one coming from the progressives, just as the fascists have pre-empted a true “welfare”-based economics, in order to block an authentic one coming from any progressives. Thus, what we’ve got is unscientific, mythological, jurisprudential theory, and economic theory — both. Both of these conservative efforts have succeeded, because of enormous aristocratic money behind them. In scholarship, merit is starved; corruption is fed. Truthful scholarship and truthful politics are thus the two legs that are needed in order for a culture to be able to walk toward an authentic liberty, a liberty of the public (away from the aristocracy), but both legs are crippled with corruption; and, so, what prevails in both law and economics is instead the well-funded fascism. It has nothing to do with truth. Truth is what corruption blocks. Corruption is inimical to truth.

Thus, corruption wins; truth loses. That’s the problem. When there is great inequality of wealth, the truth gets drowned-out by lies. It’s been happening in America, and around the world. More and more money is going into the promulgation of lies, because that’s what any aristocracy thrives upon, quite naturally. Without those lies, the public would recognize: the aristocracy’s authority is founded on fraud.

With the killing of a Canadian soldier in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, on October 20, and the shooting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 22, the Canadian authorities and the mainstream media have already decided. Without evidence, they are blaming “Islamic extremism” for both incidents, even though we know practically nothing about the two men who acted alone.

No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but we are told that the two young men had converted to Islam and one of them, Martin Couture-Rouleau, who hit a soldier with his car in Saint-Jean, had “self-radicalized over the internet”. The Edmonton Sun said that “family and law enforcement try to find out why he followed ISIS kill commands.” Is there any evidence that he was “following ISIS Kill commands”?

We were told that both were known by the authorities who had confiscated their passports for fear that they would join terrorist organizations abroad. If the authorities went as far as confiscating their passports for fear they would commit terrorist attacks abroad, didn’t they fear that they would commit attacks here?

At this point we can only speculate about the motives of these two men. And one question that the media should ask, is whether the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had anything to do with these attacks, since it has a known history of using informants to infiltrate Muslim organizations and issue violent threats against Canadian citizens. Moreover, known and documented ISIS has been supported covertly by the US and its Persian Gulf allies since the outset of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011.

But since the first killing on October 20, rather than being suspicious of the authorities, who have been warning us of the “homegrown terrorist threat” for months, the media relies almost exclusively on security and terrorism “experts” and law enforcement officials to provide “authoritative commentary” and they all agree on the “Islamic extremist” theory and self-radicalization on the internet.

It is very disturbing to say the least that security and terrorism “experts” are unaware that the root cause of terrorism, as demonstrated by studies, is not Islamic fundamentalism or any ideology, but foreign occupation, not to mention the fact that Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists are supported covertly by Western intelligence.

Based on research from the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, and funded in part by the US Defense Department’s Threat Reduction Agency, Professor Robert A. Pape and James K. Feldman wrote a book in 2010 called “Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali summarized the book’s conclusions in 2010:

In 2000, before the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, there were 20 suicide attacks around the world, and only one (against the USS Cole) was directed against Americans. In the last 12 months, by comparison, 300 suicide attacks have occurred, and over 270 were anti-American. We simply must face the reality that, no matter how well-intentioned, the current war on terror is not serving U.S. interests.”

The authors examined more than 2,200 suicide attacks across the world from 1980 to the present. As the United States has occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, which have a combined population of about 60 million, total suicide attacks worldwide have risen dramatically — from about 300 from 1980 to 2003, to 1,800 from 2004 to 2009. Further, over 90-percent of suicide attacks worldwide are now anti-American. The vast majority of suicide terrorists hail from the local region threatened by foreign troops, which is why 90-percent of suicide attackers in Afghanistan are Afghans.

In Cutting the Fuse, the authors pointed out: “Prior to 9/11, the expert debate on the causes of suicide terrorism was divided largely between two explanations — religious fanaticism and mental illness. In the years after 9/11, new research on who becomes a suicide terrorist showed that virtually none could be diagnosed as mentally ill, while many were religious and, most striking, nearly all emerged from communities resisting foreign military occupation.” (Abdus Sattar Ghazali, The root cause of suicide terrorism is occupation: New study, OpEd News, September 29, 2010)

Back in 2007, Alexandre Popovic wrote extensively about how CSIS informants “infiltrated the Canadian Muslim community and contributed to portray Islam in a negative way and fuel the stereotypes that Muslims are essentially dangerous extremists.” (Alexandre Popovic, Les manipulations médiatiques du SCRS, September 1, 2007)

One of the informants, Youssef Muammar, became the “leader of several organizations such as the International Islamic Foundation of Canada, Petro Action, the International Institute of Islamic Research, the Communauté de la nation musulmane du Grand Montréal, the Grand Mosque, Info-Islam and the magazine Le Monde islamique.” (André Noël, «Un drôle d’espion», La Presse, December 14, 2001, p. A7, cited in Alexandre Popovic, Les manipulations médiatiques du SCRS, September 1, 2007)

In other words, through its high-profile informants, CSIS was squarely in position to shape the public perception of the Canadian Muslim community.

Both informants in question are Gilles Joseph Breault, aka “Dr. Youssef Muammar” and “Abu Jihad” from Montreal, and Mubin Shaikh from Toronto. Note that we are not dealing here with mere speculation or an umpteenth conspiracy theory. First, both individuals publicly admitted working under the orders of CSIS. On the other hand, their multiple media interventions are largely documented in the archives of print media, which have gone so far as to portray the two informants as spokespersons of the Canadian Muslim community, even as their “leaders”.

From 1989 to 1994, Youssef Muammar seems to have been involved in all the controversies, be they large or small and associated directly or indirectly with radical Islam, such as the attempted coup in Trinidad and Tobago or the spread of heinous anti-Jewish propaganda […]

After openly supporting anti-Israel terrorism and appealing to murder opponents of the Islamic Salvation Front, an Algerian Islamist party now dissolved, Muammar sent messages threatening of biochemical weapons attacks in the Montreal metro. (Ibid.)

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and CSIS have been warning Canadians about “the very real terrorist threat” for months but, say they were “caught by surprise” by the two recent attacks committed by individuals they were monitoring close enough to confiscate their passports.

We were told that in Montreal people who are working in areas with a dense Muslim and immigrant population met with police and imams and were asked to “remain vigilant” and report “any suspicious activity” because they were “expecting something to happen.”

This method of relying on civilians to “spy” on their fellow citizens is reminiscent of the East German Stasi, the Ministry of State Security. “One of its main tasks was spying on the population, mainly through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures including hidden psychological destruction of dissidents.”

Canadians need to keep in mind that the attacks are being used as a pretext for increased police state security measures and an integration of border security with the United States. The Ottawa shooter was actually identified by US sources even before the Canadian police had identified him. This raises serious questions on the extent to which the US and Canadian intelligence services are integrated. The Week reported:

Canadian police are yet to officially identify the suspect but US sources told Reuters he is Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year-old Canadian who recently converted to Islam. He was reportedly born and raised in Quebec, and later spent time in Libya and various regions of Canada as a labourer. His father is believed to be Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chair of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. (Michael Zehaf-Bibeau: the gunman behind the Ottawa shootings, The Week, October 23, 2014)

Knowing that most terrorist plots in the US are orchestrated by the FBI, as the extensive Mother Jones research showed, this integration between the two countries is far from reassuring.

We should also remember that NATO has a history of false flag terrorism. Operation Gladio, NATO’s secret army, was a clandestine operation to prevent the rise of communism in Europe and was used to commit terrorist attacks against the population, which were blamed on the Communists. The ultimate goal was to have people turn to the state for more security and reject communism. (See also Tony Cartalucci: Canadian Terror Wave: a Modern-Day Gladio)

In the past two days, in addition to calls for increased security measures, we are clearly seeing the glorification of the Canadian military, which has taken part in illegal bombings in the Middle East for many years in the name of democracy and other false humanitarian pretexts. Far from being a solution to terrorism, the Canadian Forces are part of the problem. The bombing of Libya, to cite the most recent example, helped fuel terrorism in the region.

And last but not least,  why is it so easy for extremists to use Facebook and other social media to issue death threats and apparently radicalize young fragile minds when until recently Facebook “moderators were told to ban images of breastfeeding if the nipples were exposed”?

But most importantly, the Canadian media should be questioning Canada’s foreign policy and Ottawa’s military involvement in America’s wars instead of focusing on “self-radicalized individuals”.

The Pentagon has admitted that a chunk of its cache of weapons meant for Kurdish forces battling Islamic State militants in Kobani has fallen into terrorist hands. The Turkish president has been voicing his frustration with Washington over this.

On Wednesday, the US defense body went against earlier government claims that American weapons always reach its intended destinations and had to concede that two bundles out of a total of 28 intended for the Kurds have indeed ended up with the terrorists.

The militants’ advances on the Syrian-Turkish border are what spurred Washington into action in the first place.

This comes as the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) posted a video showing off brand-new American hardware in boxes with English writing and a parachute splayed out just beside the windfall.

“Yesterday we announced that one resupply bundle went astray and was destroyed. We have since relooked at that and we have determined that a second bundle also went astray and probably fell into enemy hands,” Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren said.

One of the bundles was later destroyed in an airstrike.

Image: Screenshot from YouTube user A3maq News

The video itself caused quite a stir on the social media landscape with users ‘thanking’ Washington for delivering the arms into the wrong hands, something the US has in the past vowed to avoid.

The previous day saw a much more optimistic White House, when Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes insisted to CNN that the administration feels “very confident that, when we air drop support as we did into Kobani… we’ve been able to hit the target in terms of reaching the people we want to reach.”

It was Washington which earlier maintained that the air drops were of the utmost urgency for the border town of Kobani to remain intact, and that it was high time to take a more drastic approach to “degrading and destroying” the IS, which outnumbered and outgunned the Syrian-Kurdish resistance.

The fight against IS terrorists has so far cost Washington approximately $424 million since the start of the operation on August 8, according to the Pentagon spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby. He averaged the defense body’s spending to be around $7.6 million a day.

The Syria campaign has so far lasted about a month. American air strikes there have so far killed 553 people, including 32 civilians.

But the current failure to deliver lethal equipment into the right hands is not an isolated incident – merely the latest in a series of gains by IS terrorists rampaging through northern Syria and Iraq, where millions of dollars in American equipment had already been collected from abandoned military bases.

It has in some circles become common sense that the threat posed by the IS has been greatly facilitated by America, whose weapons manufacturers are now reaping the benefits of the destruction caused by the terrorists by advocating for more weapons exports.

“In terms of the companies’ interests, profit and revenue, surely war facilitates that if you’re a defense industry. The irony is that the US and the larger coalition is using these weapons oftentimes against Islamic State, which has been armed inadvertently by the US and these Sunni-coalition countries. Because we provided arms in the context of the Arab awakening to support the uprising against [Alawite (Shiite) Syrian President] Assad. And Islamic State ended up prying these weapons away from the so-called ‘moderate Syrian rebels’, as well as by scaring the Iraqi federal forces into submission. And the US had been arming to the teeth the Iraqi government,”

Max Abrahms, an expert on terrorism at Northeastern University, told RT.

Image: Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan (Reuters / Umit Bektas)

Turkish frustration

“It has emerged that what was done was wrong,” came the reaction from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, as cited by Hurriyet Daily News, when word of the delivery failure broke.

Turkey was adamantly opposed to any deliveries – military or otherwise – to Kurdish forces, which it views as ‘terrorists’. It was in fact the PYD [the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party forces] that bore the brunt of the IS onslaught on the Syrian-Turkish border town, as Istanbul’s tanks kept a watchful eye from a distance.

When asked earlier if it would intervene to help repel the terrorist group that earlier promised to“liberate Istanbul,” the Turkish government said it would, only in the event of Turkish soldiers being endangered. It referred to the troops guarding a historical landmark inside Syria the Turkish believe to be rightfully theirs.

Now Erdogan also appears frustrated that the Kurdish forces were sent any weapons at all.

“We told [US President Barack Obama] that ‘Support that you will lend to the PYD and the PKK is not acceptable to us.’” He could have been referring to a weekend conversation with the US leader, who tried to implore him to reconsider the air drops.

“Two days passed, we are in the third/fourth day, Kobani didn’t fall. Moreover, I have difficulty in understanding why Kobani is this much strategic for [the US], because there are no civilians left in Kobani anymore; 200,000 people crossed into Turkey and we are hosting them. Only around 2,000 fighters are left in Kobani and they didn’t say ‘yes’ to Peshmerga first, but now, at the last moment, they said ‘yes’. And we told [Obama] we would be ‘helpful’ about this.”

“Such an operation cannot be defined and explained. That’s to say, a healthy comment cannot be made in regards to whether a result will be obtained through this or not. To whom and to where you are lending support, everything is obvious,”

the Turkish leader claimed.

The Canadian Peace Alliance and the Collectif Échec à la guerre are calling for a weekend of protest actions, on 25-26 October, against Canadian participation in the third Iraq war.

These protests will take place on the 12th anniversary of the first mobilizations in Canada and the US – in the Fall of 2002 – to oppose the preparation of the US invasion and the war of occupation in Iraq that would last from 2003 to 2011.

We invite the people of Quebec and Canada to protest:

Against a new illegal war that contributes to dismantling the existing world order and that threatens “world peace and security” while pretending to defend them;
Against the security and humanitarian pretexts invoked by the new coalition: the protection of Iraq’s population has nothing to do with the real motives of this war, which will cause them more suffering and further deteriorate their living conditions;

Against a Canadian foreign policy centered on intensifying conflicts and war;

Against the hijacking of huge amounts of public resources to make war, promote the military industry, glorify the army and Canada’s military past, while for many years « austerity measures » have cut education, healthcare, public services, the promotion of women’s rights, the protection of the environment, international cooperation, etc.

Together, let’s take to the streets to demand:

The immediate end of Canadian participation in this new aggression coalition which has been set up for the strategic interests of the US empire and its allies;
A freeze on all major procurement projects of the Canadian military;

The organization of a broad public debate on Canadian foreign policy, the role of the army, the military industry and the arms trade;
That the Canadian government immediately cease deportation proceedings against U.S. Iraq war resisters and create, once and for all, a provision that would allow them to remain in Canada.

If you are organizing a local protest, make it known by contacting[email protected].

www.canadianpeace.org & www.echecalaguerre.org
EVENT LISTINGS

WINDSOR, ONTARIO
No to Canada’s Participation in the Bombing of Iraq and Syria!
Rally and March
Friday October 24, 4:30pm
Gather at the corner of Ouellette and Wyandotte
For information: [email protected]

MONTREAL, QUEBEC
Dimanche le 26 octobre 2014
Départ : Square Dorchester, à 13 h
http://www.echecalaguerre.org/
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1530420987197969&id=100006902477153

OTTAWA, ONTARIO
Stop the Attack on Syria and Iraq
Saturday, October 25, 1:00 p.m.
Human Rights Monument (Elgin and Lisgar)
https://www.facebook.com/events/743861325685697/

TORONTO, ONTARIO
Peace Rally: Canada Out of Iraq – Stop Bombing Syria
Saturday, October 25, 2:30pm
U.S. Consulate – 360 University Avenue (just north of Osgoode subway station)
https://www.facebook.com/events/660250657406850/

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA
Saturday, October 25, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
https://www.facebook.com/events/772468022811873/
http://www.peacealliancewinnipeg.ca/2014/10/dont-attack-iraq/

EDMONTON, ALBERTA
Don’t Attack Iraq! Don’t Attack Syria!
Saturday, October 25, 12:00pm
Location, TBA
https://www.facebook.com/events/744246455645656/

CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI
Peace Talk & Peace Walk
Saturday, October 25, 3:00pm
Murphy’s Community Centre, 200 Richmond Street
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152438221182607&set=gm.10154730873535402&type=1

VANCOUVER, BC
No to the new war in Iraq!
Saturday, October 25, 12:30 pm
Waterfront Skytrain Station (601 West Cordova Street)
https://www.facebook.com/events/1532975813607433/

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October 23rd, 2014 by Global Research

In the light of the attack  in Ottawa on October 22, 2014, we republish this article from February 5, 2013. After the attack, US President Barack Obama said “it was important for Canada and the United States to be in sync when it came to dealing with terrorist activity.”


The U.S. and Canada have made significant progress in advancing the Beyond the Border deal and continue to implement various perimeter security initiatives. Without much fanfare, they have signed an immigration agreement that would allow them to share biographic and at a later date, biometric information. As part of a North American security perimeter, both countries are further harmonizing border security and immigration measures. Canada is further taking on U.S. security priorities and this could include a bigger role in the war on terrorism.

It’s been over a year since Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama announced the Beyond the Border and the Regulatory Cooperation Council action plans. On December 14, 2012, the U.S. and Canada issued the Beyond the Border implementation report that highlights the objectives that were achieved over the past year and the work that has yet to be done. It explained that moving forward, “Key future initiatives include harmonizing our trusted trader programs, making significant infrastructure investments at our key land border crossings, fully implementing an entry/exit program at the land border, expanding preclearance operations to the land, rail, and marine domains.” The report also acknowledged challenges facing the Next-Generation pilot project which would permit teams of cross-designated officers to operate on both sides of the border. It was originally scheduled to begin last summer. While steady progress has been made, a lot more work is needed to meet the goals of the Beyond the Border action plan. Over the next several years, other aspects of the deal will be phased-in incrementally with specific deliverables due this year, in 2014 and also in 2015.

Another important facet of the economic and security perimeter agreement is the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC). A progress report to the leaders outlines accomplishments made in aligning regulations in the areas of agriculture and food, transportation, the environment, health and personal care products, workplace chemicals, as well as nanotechnology. This includes cooperation on pilot projects, scientific and technical collaborations and harmonized testing procedures. RCC working groups have developed detailed work plans for the various initiatives with objectives that will be implemented over the next couple of years. In Canada, some fear that deepening regulatory integration with the U.S. could weaken and erode any independent regulatory capacity. This could lead to a race to the bottom with respect to regulatory standards.

In December of last year, the U.S. and Canada signed the Immigration Information Sharing Treaty which is tied to the Beyond the Border deal. Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney stated that the, “agreement builds on our countries’ mutual efforts to protect our common borders and the surrounding perimeter, through improved screening of immigrants and visitors.” He went on to say, “Enhanced information sharing of foreign nationals will protect the safety and security of Canadians by helping us prevent terrorists, violent criminals, and others, who pose a risk, from entering Canada or the United States.” Under the treaty, Canada and the U.S. will share biographic information from third country nationals who apply for a visa, a travel permit or claim asylum. In 2014, it will also include the sharing of biometric information. There are privacy concerns on how far-reaching the data collected will be shared. This threatens the sovereignty of Canada with regards to retaining control over information at its own borders.

On December 28, 2012, President Obama signed into law, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act which is designed to curb Iran’s presence and activity in the region. The bill calls on the Department of Homeland Security to work with Canada and Mexico, “to address resources, technology, and infrastructure to create a secure United States border and strengthen the ability of the United States and its allies to prevent operatives from Iran, the IRGC, its Qods Force, Hezbollah, or any other terrorist organization from entering the United States.” Julie Carmichael, spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews discussed Canada’s efforts to counter any perceived hostility from Iran in the Americas. She is quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying, “We continually assess threats while co-operating with international partners, including the U.S., to address threats to our common security.” Carmichael added, “The Beyond the Border Action Plan as announced by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama provides a framework to identify threats before they reach North America.” Under the perimeter security deal, Canada is further aligning itself with U.S. foreign policy interests and could be expected to play a greater role in the global war on terror.

Through the Beyond the Border agreement, the U.S. and Canada are deepening economic and security integration which is laying the foundation for a North American security perimeter. Both countries are also engaged in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations with Mexico and other member nations. This is part of efforts to create a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific and could be used to update and expand NAFTA. Another key priority for U.S.-Canada relations is North America’s energy future. President Obama is expected to make a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline sometime this year. Meanwhile, there is growing environmental opposition to the proposed project which would carry oil from western Canada to the Texas gulf coast.

Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact: [email protected]. Visit his blog at Be Your Own Leader

In the light of the attack  in Ottawa on October 22, 2014, we republish this article from June 18, 2013. After the attack, US President Barack Obama said “it was important for Canada and the United States to be in sync when it came to dealing with terrorist activity.”

Canada’s prime minister recently addressed the CFR, a globalist think tank who have been a driving force behind the push towards deeper North American integration. The U.S. and Canada are now further advancing this agenda through the Beyond the Border agreement. Both countries are increasing bilateral border transportation and infrastructure coordination. This includes a common approach to border management, security and control. They are also integrating an information sharing system that would be used to track everyone crossing the U.S.-Canada border and entering or leaving the continent. Without much fanfare and seemingly little resistance, Canada is being assimilated into a U.S. dominated North American security perimeter.

 In May, the Conservative government highlighted the benefits of the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border action plan which was announced back in 2011. The deal, “focuses on addressing security threats at the earliest point possible and facilitating the lawful movement of people, goods, and services into Canada and the United States, and creates a long-term partnership to improve the management of our shared border.” The goal is to further increase, “security, economic competitiveness and prosperity through numerous measures, including reducing border wait times and improving infrastructure at key crossings to speed up legitimate trade and travel.” The Beyond the Border Executive Steering Committee recently met to discuss the objectives that have already been achieved and the work that still needs to be done. Another important facet of the economic and security perimeter agreement is the Regulatory Cooperation Council action plan. A stakeholder dialogue session is planned for June 20, which will review its implementation progress and will seek further input regarding the next stage of U.S.-Canada regulatory integration.

 Last month, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a joint report on the findings of Phase I of the Entry/Exit Information System. The program included collecting and exchanging biographic information at four selected land border ports of entry. In a news release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski stated that, “The results of Phase I demonstrate the capacity of the United States and Canada to increase information sharing capabilities.” He added, “This kind of cooperation epitomizes the Beyond the Border Action Plan.” The next phase of the entry/exit initiative is set to begin at the end of this month. It will involve exchanging the biographic data collected from third-country nationals and permanent residents of Canada and the U. S. at all common ports of entry. Both countries are further merging databases and are expanding surveillance and intelligence gathering operations. In 2014, they will also start sharing biometric information at the border. This will further advance the creation of a North America security perimeter where all travellers will be tracked and traced in real time.

As part of the commitment made under the Beyond the Border deal, both countries have announced the Border Infrastructure Investment Plan which was, “developed to establish a mutual understanding of recent, ongoing and potential border infrastructure investments. It outlines the approach that Canada and the United States will take to coordinate plans for physical infrastructure upgrades.” In June 2012, Canada reached an agreement with the State of Michigan to build a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. This was followed by a presidential permit issued in April of this year that officially paved the way for construction of the project. A U.S. State Department press release explained that, “Consistent with the bilateral Beyond the Border Initiative, this permit contributes to ensuring that our border infrastructure supports increased competitiveness, job creation, and broad-based prosperity in the United States and Canada.” It went on to say that the new bridge, “will help to meet future capacity requirements in a critical travel corridor, promote cross-border trade and commerce, and advance our vital bilateral relationship with Canada.”

In March, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews signed a memorandum of understanding which established a truck cargo pre-inspection pilot project. The joint undertaking is another component of the Beyond the Border agreement and would shift inspections and clearances away from the actual border crossing. The first phase, “will test the concept of conducting U.S. CBP primary cargo inspection in Canada, and will be implemented at the Pacific Highway crossing between Surrey, British Columbia and Blaine, Washington.” The second phase, “will further test how pre-inspection could enhance border efficiency and reduce wait times to facilitate legitimate trade and travel, and will be implemented at the Peace Bridge crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York.” The perimeter security deal is laying the foundation for a future U.S.-Canada binational organization that would jointly manage and control the border.

The CBSA is also testing additional technology at the Morses Line, Quebec and Piney, Manitoba ports of entry. Under the remote traveller pilot project, people entering either location after regular hours of service, “will be processed by a border services officer located at a remote processing centre through a two-way audio and one-way video kiosk. Cameras will be installed to provide the officer with the ability to see the traveller and the vehicle.” The program which could later be expanded to other areas , “is part of the Small and Remote Ports of Entry Initiative, one of the deliverables under the Beyond the Border Action Plan.” NAUNEWZ pointed out that, “Although a lot of this technology is already installed and being utilized in limited ways at most of the main Canada-U.S. border crossing points, these smaller border crossings are ideal testing grounds for their ‘no borders’/NAU agenda.”

On May 16, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper participated in question and answer session before the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The conversation centered around economic growth, foreign investment and the role of the G20 with regards to global governance. Other issues focused on Canada-U.S. relations. Harper lobbied for approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline which would carry oil from western Canada to the Texas gulf coast. He dismissed environmental issues associated with the project and argued that it would be a step towards North American energy independence. The Obama administration is expected to make a final decision on the pipeline sometime this year. Harper also acknowledged the Beyond the Border and the Regulatory Cooperation Council action plans. He blamed sovereignty concerns and the continued negativity surrounding NAFTA as the main obstacles to even deeper continental integration. Prime Minister Harper used his audition in front of the CFR as an opportunity to demonstrate to the U.S. political and corporate elite that he is committed to defending the interests of big business and further pushing plans for a North American Union (NAU).

The Beyond the Border action plan is the most significant step forward in U.S.-Canada cooperation since NAFTA. It provides the framework for future North American integration. When fully implemented, the agreement can be expanded and updated. So far, the agenda has quietly slipped under the radar. By incrementally incorporating various pilot projects and excluding Mexico from the process, it has managed to avoid the controversy of past initiatives. The perimeter security deal is being sold as vital to improving the flow of trade and travel across the border. In order to appease U.S. fears, Canada has made numerous concessions with no guarantees that it will lessen border restrictions. As part of a North American security perimeter, Canada will always be at the mercy of any new U.S. security measures, regardless of the dangers they may pose to privacy and civil liberties.

Thanks to the Federal Reserve, the middle class is slowly being suffocated by rising food prices.  Every single dollar in your wallet is constantly becoming less valuable because of the inflation the Fed systematically creates.  And if you try to build wealth by saving money and earning interest on it, you still lose because thanks to the Federal Reserve’s near zero interest rate policies banks pay next to nothing on savings accounts.  The Federal Reserve wants you to either spend your money or to put it in the giant casino that we call the stock market.  But when Americans spend their paychecks they are finding that they don’t stretch as far as they once did.  The cost of living continues to rise at a much faster pace than wages are rising, and this is especially true when it comes to the price of food.

Someone that I know wrote to me today and let me know that she had to shut down the food pantry that she had been running for the poor for so many years.  It isn’t that she didn’t want to help the poor anymore.  It was that she just couldn’t deal with the rising food prices any longer.  Now she is just doing the best that she can to survive herself.

Perhaps you have also noticed that food prices have gotten pretty crazy lately.  In particular, meat prices have become absolutely obscene.  For example, the average price of ground beef has risen to a new record high of over $4.09 a pound.  Over the past twelve months, that works out to a whopping 17 percent increase…

The average price for a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high–$4.096 per pound–in the United States in September, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In August, according to BLS, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time–hitting $4.013. In September, the average price jumped .083 cents, an increase of 2.1 percent in one month.

A year ago, in September 2013, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.502 per pound. Since then, it has climbed 59.4 cents–or about 17 percent in one year.

The “intellectuals” over at the Federal Reserve insist that “a little bit of inflation” is good for an economy, but the truth is that inflation slowly robs us of our buying power.

In a previous article, I shared a chart that showed how food inflation has risen dramatically since the year 2000.  For this article, I wanted to show how food inflation has risen since the 1970s.  As you can see, the rise in food prices has been absolutely relentless for more than 40 years…

Food Inflation 2014

If our paychecks were going up at the same rate or even faster that would be okay.

But they aren’t.

In fact, CNN is reporting that our paychecks have fallen back to 1995 levels…

Americans also don’t feel any better off. While more people may have jobs, they aren’t bringing home fatter paychecks. Wages and income have remained stagnant for years, making it tough for folks even though inflation is low. Median household income, which stood at $51,939 last year, is back to 1995 levels.

Consumers expect a median income boost of 1.1% over the next year, Curtin said. But that won’t keep up with their inflation expectations of 2.8%.

“American households, on average, are still struggling with their living standards slowly eroding,” he said.

This is one of the primary reasons why the middle class is disappearing in America.

The purchasing power of our dollars is continually diminishing.

And this could be just the beginning.  Right now, severe drought is affecting some of the most important agricultural areas around the globe.  Most people are aware of the nightmarish drought in California, but did you know that things in Brazil are even worse?  Brazil is one of the most important food exporters in the world, and so they definitely need our prayers.

In addition, a “black swan event” such as a worldwide explosion of the Ebola pandemic could quickly drive food prices into the stratosphere.

Just this week, we learned that food prices in the Ebola-stricken regions of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have already risen by an average of 24 percent

Infection rates in the food-producing zones of Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone, Lofa and Bong County in Liberia and GuDeckDedou in Guinea are among the highest in the region. Hundreds of farmers have died.

The three governments quarantined districts and restricted movements to contain the virus’ spread. But those measures also disrupted markets and led to food scarcity and panic buying, further pushing up prices, WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization have said.

“Prices have risen by an average of 24 percent,” said WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, adding an assessment of major markets showed the price of basic commodities was rising in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and in neighboring Senegal.

If you have been storing up food, I think that you will be very happy with your decision in the long run.

Without a doubt, food prices are only going to be going up from here.

But the Federal Reserve continues to insist that inflation is under control.

One of the ways that they make the “official numbers” look good is by playing accounting games.  They regularly change the way that inflation is calculated in order keep everyone calm.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  Posted below is an excerpt from an article by Mike Bryan, a vice president and senior economist in the Atlanta Fed’s research department…

The Economist retells a conversation with Stephen Roach, who in the 1970s worked for the Federal Reserve under Chairman Arthur Burns. Roach remembers that when oil prices surged around 1973, Burns asked Federal Reserve Board economists to strip those prices out of the CPI “to get a less distorted measure. When food prices then rose sharply, they stripped those out too—followed by used cars, children’s toys, jewellery, housing and so on, until around half of the CPI basket was excluded because it was supposedly ‘distorted’” by forces outside the control of the central bank. The story goes on to say that, at least in part because of these actions, the Fed failed to spot the breadth of the inflationary threat of the 1970s.

I have a similar story. I remember a morning in 1991 at a meeting of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s board of directors. I was welcomed to the lectern with, “Now it’s time to see what Mike is going to throw out of the CPI this month.” It was an uncomfortable moment for me that had a lasting influence. It was my motivation for constructing the Cleveland Fed’s median CPI.

I am a reasonably skilled reader of a monthly CPI release. And since I approached each monthly report with a pretty clear idea of what the actual rate of inflation was, it was always pretty easy for me to look across the items in the CPI market basket and identify any offending—or “distorted”—price change. Stripping these items from the price statistic revealed the truth—and confirmed that I was right all along about the actual rate of inflation.

It is all a game to them.

It is all about getting to the “right number” to release to the public.

But anyone that goes to the grocery store knows what has been happening to food prices.

The next time you get to the checkout register and you feel tempted to ask the cashier what organ you should donate to pay for your groceries, please keep in mind that it is not the fault of the cashier.

Instead, there is one entity that you should blame.

Blame the Federal Reserve – their policies are slowly pushing the middle class into oblivion.

The Obama Administration has ordered the Department of Defense to form a 30-member military medical “quick strike team” that can deploy quickly — within 72 hours — to any new outbreaks of Ebola in the U.S., reports have said.

The team will consist of five physicians, 20 nurses and five trainees, according to reports, and will be tasked with providing “direct treatment to Ebola patients inside the United States,” according to CNN.

“The concept is said to have come out of Obama’s recent White House meeting, one in which reports had him berating staff for an inadequate response to the growing crisis around Ebola,” Breitbart News reported.

CNN said Pentagon officials have confirmed the formation of the team, which will be able to quickly deploy any time over the next month.

The team was requested by the Department of Health and Human Services. CNN reported further that the Defense Department “has been working to determine what assistance it could offer the civilian health care sector” after a recent White House meeting in which the president made it clear that he wanted a more aggressive response to any new Ebola cases.

‘No violation of Posse Comitatus’

Following the meeting, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered Gen. Chuck Jacoby, head of U.S. Northern Command, or USNORTHCOM, which oversees homeland defense and security, “to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

The Pentagon spokesman added that Jacoby, a four-star Army general, has begun work on the joint team. Once it is formed, Kirby continued, the team will be sent to the Army’s medical training facilities at Fort Sam Houston, near Austin, Texas, to begin seven days of intense training in infection control and the wear of personal protective equipment.

The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases will provide the training, Kirby said. Once trained, the team will remain in a “prepare to deploy” status for one month and be able to respond anywhere in the U.S. if “deemed prudent by our public health officials,” he added.

Some have questioned whether the military’s medical response team has the authority, under law and the Constitution, to operate within the boundaries of the U.S. Some have argued that the regular military is prohibited from responding inside the country by the Posse Comitatus law, passed in the 1870s during the Reconstruction Era; the law specifically prohibits the military from any action to “execute the law.”

But Kirby, in an MSNBC interview with Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, a former GOP congressman, said that the military did have “the legal authorities” to form the team, and that its domestic operation would not violate the 1870s-era law.

Regular military vs. National Guard

“This is nothing more than potential support, and I stress ‘potential support,’ to civilian medical authorities — if and only if they ask for that,” Kirby said. “But there’s no violation of posse comitatus. The Northern Command commander has the authorities that he needs to get this team ready to go.”

USNORTHCOM was created in 2002, during the Bush Administration following the 9/11 attacks. The Army command’s primary function is defense of the homeland, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which was also a post-9/11 creation.

CNSNews.com reported that the “nature” of the assistance to be provided by the Ebola team was “not explained.” The news site went on to report that “concern about additional Ebola cases suggests the military would be used to enforce potential quarantines.”

But most likely, any substantial military assistance, via USNORTHCOM and DHS, would first come via the mobilization of National Guard units, which are commanded by state governors but which can also be called up on the President’s order into federal service.

Today’s Guard is a descendant of the country’s first “militia” units and are not regular military, which is why governors can call them up to assist state agencies and local police during times of emergency.

Sources:

http://www.breitbart.com

http://www.theblaze.com

http://www.cnn.com

http://www.cnsnews.com

http://www.northcom.mil

http://science.naturalnews.com

Ebola: Why I Will Not Submit To Medical Martial Law

October 23rd, 2014 by Brandon Smith

One of the most dangerous philosophical contentions even amongst liberty movement activists is the conundrum of government force and prevention during times of imminent pandemic. All of us at one time or another have had this debate. If a legitimate viral threat existed and threatened to infect and kill millions of Americans, is it then acceptable for the government to step in, remove civil liberties, enforce quarantines, and stop people from spreading the disease? After all, during a viral event, the decisions of each individual can truly have a positive or negative effect on the rest of society, right? One out of control (or “lone wolf”) citizen/terrorist could reignite a biological firestorm, so, should we not turn to government and forgo certain freedoms in order to achieve the greater good for the greater number?

If the government in question was a proven and honorable institution, then I would say pro-Medical Martial Law arguments might have a leg to stand on. However, this is not the case. In my view, medical martial law is absolutely unacceptable under ANY circumstances, including Ebola, in light of the fact that our current government will be the predominant cause of viral outbreak. That is to say, you DO NOT turn to the government for help when the government is the cause of the problem.

The recent rise of global Ebola is slowly bringing the issue of medical martial law to the forefront of our culture. Charles Krauthammer at The Washington Post recently argued in favor of possible restrictions on individual and Constitutional liberties in the face of a viral pandemic threat.

The CDC now argues that in the case of people who may be potential carriers, or even in the case of people who refuse to undergo screenings, it has the legal authority to dissolve all constitutional protections and essentially imprison (quarantine) an American citizen for as long as they see fit to do so.

The Obama Administration is now using militant terminology in reference to Ebola response, including the formation of “Ebola SWAT Teams” for quick reaction to potential outbreak areas.

In typical socialist fashion, the nurses union ‘National Nurses United’ has called for Barack Obama to use “executive authority” to take control of all Ebola response protocols in hospitals across the country. Yet another perpetuation of the myth that more government power is the solution.

And finally, the Department of Defense has been tasked to create a military controlled “quick-strike team” to deal with Ebola within U.S. borders. This team will be under the command of none other than Northcom, apparently trampling the Posse Comitatus Act and setting the stage for the rationalized use of military personnel against U.S. citizens under the guise of pandemic prevention.

It should be clear to anyone with half a brain that medical martial law is being quietly prepared, and that the threat of such measures is not a paranoid conspiracy, but a very real possibility. It should also be noted that such provisions are not only the products of the Obama Administration. It was George W. Bush who first created laws intersecting with the World Health Organization’s pandemic preparedness planning. These laws include the “overrule of existing legislation or (individual) human rights” in order to quell a viral outbreak, and were originally drafted around the potential of an influenza crisis.

It is this kind of executive overreach that has set precedence for states such as Connecticut toannounce a tentative state of emergency with medical martial law restrictions.

I discussed in great detail why Ebola works in favor of establishment elites in my article ‘An Ebola Outbreak Would Be Advantageous For Globalists’.

Understand that bureaucrats will come to you with promises of offering a helping hand, hoping that you are afraid enough to accept, but their intentions will not be compassionate. Rather, their intent will be to assert as much dominance over the public as possible during the chaos, and to erase any conception the people may have had in the past that they have inalienable rights.

But going beyond the hidden motives of tyrants, I think it is important to point out that the Center for Disease Control and the federal government in general has already lost all credibility in dealing with Ebola, and therefore, it has lost any authority it may have had in administrating a future response.

Ebola has been officially known to the CDC for over thirty years. Why has the CDC refused for three decades to produce proper care guidelines for hospitals? Medical staff in the U.S. didn’t even receive guidelines when the outbreak in Western Africa was obviously progressing out of control.

Why did the CDC leave Thomas Duncan, the very first U.S. Ebola case, in the hands of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, without proper procedures in place to prevent further infection, and without a CDC team present? The CDC has an annual budget of nearly $7 billion. Where is all of this money going if not to stamp out such threats as Ebola?

The argument presented by the White House, the CDC, and even the World Bank, has been that stopping direct or indirect travel from nations with an Ebola outbreak would be “impractical”, and that such travel bans would somehow “make matters worse”. They have yet to produce a logical explanation as to how this makes sense, but what if we did not need to institute a travel ban? The CDC, with it’s massive budget, could easily establish quarantine measures in infected countries. Anyone wishing to travel outside of these nations would be welcome to do so, as long as they voluntarily participate in quarantine procedures for a set number of days. No quarantine, no plane ticket. Where has the CDC response been in Western Africa?

Why not use minor and measured travel restriction in Africa today, instead of using unprecedented martial law in America tomorrow? It makes no sense, unless, of course, the plan is to allow Ebola to spread…

Why has the White House nominated Ron Klain, a man who knows absolutely NOTHING about Ebola or medical emergency strategies, as the new “Ebola Czar”?

Why has all discussion on Ebola prevention revolved around government measures rather than community measures?  Why has all talk centered on what the government will do AFTER an outbreak occurs, rather than on what can be done to prevent an outbreak in the first place?

The reality is that the federal government does not have any treatments for Ebola that are outside of the knowledge and capabilities of the average medically trained citizen. Meaning, the government and the CDC are NOT needed for a community to handle an Ebola outbreak, if that community is given proper guidelines and strategies in advance. Treatment for Ebola, at least in first world nations, consists primarily of regimented transfusions. These transfusions are a mixture of isotonic saline, electrolytes, and plasma, designed to keep the body supported until its immune system can build up a proper defense to the virus. Natural and homeopathic methods can also boost immune system functions making the body resistant to the virus before it is ever contracted. The most effective of all treatments appears to be the transfusion of blood from a recovering patient with antibodies into a newly sick patient. This is likely the reason for the quick recovery of infected doctors like Kent Brantly.

The CDC would never be able to coherently organize a large-scale program of transfusion initiatives, even if it wanted to. Most hospitals around the country have no isolation wards able to handle even a minor Ebola outbreak. The hospitals that do have facilities are limited to less than a dozen beds. According to the medical workers I have spoken with, most hospitals require a minimum of around 50 health professionals to deal with a single Ebola patient.  In the event of an outbreak larger than a few people per state, the CDC and local hospitals are simply not equipped to react to the problem.  Blood transfusions from recovering donors would be few and far between, unless organized by local citizens working under their own directives.

Ironically, it was the Bush Administration’s own report in 2006 on the possibility of bird flu pandemic that admitted the government is completely unequipped to handle an outbreak of moderate size.The report stated that “all sources of external aid may be compromised during a pandemic,” and that “local communities will have to address the medical and non-medical effects of the pandemic with available resources.” Little has changed in the federal government’s pandemic preparations since the report was written.

This leaves individual communities to either prepare for the worst, or die off while waiting for the government to save them. Self isolation and self treatment are the only practical options.

The greatest danger to American citizens is, in fact, not the Ebola virus, but government reactions to the Ebola virus. Already, several medical outfits around the world are suddenly interested in producing an Ebola vaccination when no one seemed very interested before. This might sound like good news, until you learn the terrible history of modern vaccinations.

Pharmaceutical company Merck was caught red handed faking vaccine efficacy data. Merck’s Gardisil was found to contain DNA fragments of human papillomavirus.

GlaxoSmithKline, a major vaccine producer, has been caught repeatedly attempting to bribe doctors and health professionals into promoting their products or outright lying about their effectiveness. Glaxo was caught producing rotavirus vaccinations tainted with a swine virus in 2010. Glaxo has been caught producing vaccines tainted with bacteria and endotoxins.

It is important to point out that Glaxo is also spearheading an Ebola vaccine initiative.

U.S. company Baxter produced a flu vaccination in Austria tainted with both avian flu and swine flu. The mixture just happened to be randomly tested on a group of ferrets by a lab in the Czech Republic. The test animals died. The exposure of this “mix up” was quietly swept under the rug by Baxter and the mainstream media, but reports indicate that if the vaccine had been used on the general population, a terrible pandemic would have erupted.

Beyond the fact that vaccinations have a tendency to cripple our natural immune system and infect patients with the very disease they are meant to prevent, none of these existing companies can be trusted to produce a vaccine that is safe even by traditional pharmaceutical standards (which are very low). If the CDC and the federal government trigger a medical martial law scenario, they will most likely include forced vaccination of the population to maintain “herd immunity”. The bottom line? The use of such vaccines will be a death sentence for many, a death more certain than the contraction of Ebola. In my opinion, Ebola vaccination should be avoided at all costs by the American populace.

I can think of no rationale for government involvement in the treatment of an Ebola outbreak. If it is not pure incompetence on their part that has exacerbated the threat, then even worse, it is a deliberate program of genocide. In either case, no military or CDC “strike teams” should be allowed free reign in our neighborhoods, towns, counties, or states. DHS and FEMA Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are also a no go, given FEMA’s track record of dismal disaster response. They CANNOT be allowed to take control of our communities.

The only way for Americans to survive such an event is to cut out government entirely and establish their own medical strategies, as organizations like the Oath Keepers Community Preparedness Teams (CPT) are doing.

If someone wants to voluntarily go to the CDC or FEMA for assistance, then they should be allowed to take that risk. However, medical martial law over all of us in the name of the “greater good” should not be tolerated. The government has proven beyond a doubt that it is not qualified to handle a viral crisis scenario, let alone determine what the “greater good” actually is. I can’t speak for the whole of the Liberty Movement, but as for myself, if a group of hazmat suited thugs decides to chase me down with a syringe, I am relatively certain none of them will live through the encounter.

Will I be accused of aiding the spread of Ebola because of my non-compliance? Of course. Do I care? Not so much. Each individual American will have to make their own decision on this matter in due course. Is it better to conform and risk annihilation at the hands of an ignorant and/or corrupt government, or, to fight back and be labeled a bio-terrorist? With the clear lack of tangible government preventions for outbreak in the U.S., you’ll probably get your chance to find out soon enough.

You can contact Brandon Smith at: [email protected] Alt-Market, where this first appeared, is an organization designed to help you find like-minded activists and preppers in your local area so that you can network and construct communities for mutual aid and defense. Join Alt-Market.com today and learn what it means to step away from the system and build something better.

Did you hear that the president of Israel said Israel is a “sick society”? Reuven Rivlin, a Likudnik, said this over the weekend. There’s been lots of coverage in Israel, but as Sullivan points out, the declaration hasn’t gotten much attention stateside. I should think it would be viral.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s report:

“It is time to honestly admit that Israeli society is ill – and it is our duty to treat this disease,” Rivlin told the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities on Sunday at a conference titled “From Xenophobia to Accepting the Other.”

“The tension between Jews and Arabs within the State of Israel has risen to record heights, and the relationship between all parties has reached a new low,” he said. “We have all witnessed the shocking sequence of incidents and violence taking place by both sides. The epidemic of violence is not limited to one sector or another, it permeates every area and doesn’t skip any arena. There is violence in soccer stadiums as well as in the academia. There is violence in the social media and in everyday discourse, in hospitals and in schools.”

From the Jerusalem Post:

The time has come to admit that Israel is a sick society, with an illness that demands treatment, President Reuven Rivlin said at the opening session on Sunday of a conference on From Hatred of the Stranger to Acceptance of the Other.

Rivlin wondered aloud whether Jews and Arabs had abandoned the secret of dialogue.

With regard to Jews he said: “I’m not asking if they’ve forgotten how to be Jews, but if they’ve forgotten how to be decent human beings. Have they forgotten how to converse?” In Rivlin’s eyes, the academy has a vital task to reduce violence in Israeli society by encouraging dialogue and the study of different cultures and languages with the aim of promoting mutual understanding, so that there can be civilized meetings between the sectors of society.

JTA says that Rivlin spoke of abuse he’s received on his Facebook page. Presumably from the right, not the left. This is a country where a settler extremist assassinated a prime minister who was saying he wanted to compromise with Palestinians, 19 years ago.

Rivlin is obviously referencing the teen murders of the last summer and the chants of “Death to Arabs” that resound in the streets of Jerusalem. This is the hardline rightwing society that Max Blumenthal described in his book Goliath, that Shlomo Sand has sought to resign from by stopping being a Jew, and that Nathan Thrall cites in his takedown of Ari Shavit’s usefulness to American Jews as a liberal voice when he’s anything but. And the president of the country is saying this? A Likudnik politician? As Sulllivan says, any American who said this would be instantly marginalized and smeared as an anti-Semite. Witness Blumenthal’s blacklisting by the Times, and the fact that Sand and Thrall appear in English publications. While liberal American Jews hold on to their dreamcastle Israel, with the help of Shavit and his media posse; and the New York Times gives a platform to wingnut Caroline Glick to malign Palestinian leaders. This is a very dangerous situation. Though I imagine if there’s enough controversy over the comments, The New York Times will cover them. Chris Matthews has surely seen Rivlin’s comment but won’t touch it until safe media here have picked it up.

By the way, in a radio discussion on Open Source a month ago, I said that Zionism began in 1894 with Theodor Herzl hearing the chant, Death to the Jews, in Paris, and that it has now culminated 120 years later with nationalist Jews chanting Death to the Arabs in Jerusalem. That is the alpha and omega of political Zionism, which has failed Herzl’s own test, that the stranger will be welcome in Jewish society. Bernard Avishai responded that I was offering a “caricature” of the movement. I don’t think it’s a caricature; it’s a realistic interpretation of the failure of an ideology to create a better society. Rivlin must share something of my view, despairingly. Does he have the makings of a De Klerk, the ability to state to his fellow citizens that the project has failed and must be reimagined?

“Frankly, we are so far off the economic rails, the locomotive is stuck in a swamp and the trailing cars are piling up around it.” Anonymous, Comments line, Naked Capitalism

Since the end of the recession in 2009, investors have borrowed a record amount of money to finance their stock acquisitions. According to the Financial Times, margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) peaked in February, 2014 at $466 billion and has only recently dipped slightly lower. That’s $85 billion more than 2007 at the peak of the bubble. (Below: Margin debt tends to trace the trajectory of the markets fairly closely, although it’s a poor indicator of a market “top”.)

NYSE Margin Debt drifts higher in August, ETF Daily News

When stocks start see-sawing like they did last week, it’s usually a sign that over-extended investors are dumping their stocks to meet margin calls. The same thing happened in the run-up to the Crash of 1929. Stocks dropped sharply in late October which forced deeply-indebted investors to unload their holdings at firesale prices. The falling prices triggered a panic that sent stocks into freefall wiping out billions of dollars, crashing the markets, and paving the way for the Great Depression. Here’s a brief summary of what happened:

“On September 3, the market dropped sharply only to rise and then drop again. It was like tremors before a big earthquake but nobody heeded the warning. The market had sagged temporarily before, but it always came back stronger. The market dipped sharply again on October 4 (and) October 21 saw an avalanche of selling as many tried to salvage something from their loss. On October 24 — Black Thursday — the panic took on a life of its own as selling orders overwhelmed the Exchange’s ability to keep up with the transactions…

Wall Street financiers tried to inspire confidence by buying as many shares as they could. It worked — temporarily. (But) on Monday the panic started again, and then came Black Tuesday — October 29. The panic on the Exchange floor changed to bedlam. According to one observer,

“They hollered and screamed, they clawed at one another’s collars. It was like a bunch of crazy men. Every once in a while … you’d see some poor devil collapse and fall to the floor.” This was the Crash, although few could see it at the time… Thirty billion dollars had been lost — more than twice the national debt. The nation reeled, and slipped into the depths of the Great Depression. ” (The Wall Street Crash, 1929, Eyewitness to History)

Unsurprisingly, the banks were at the center of that fiasco too, as was their principle agent, the Federal Reserve. In fact, the International Monetary Fund just issued a scathing rebuke of the Fed’s policies saying that zero rates, which have been in effect for over 5 years, have put the financial system at risk again. Here’s more on the IMF report from the Guardian:

“Accommodative policies aimed at supporting the recovery and promoting economic risk taking have facilitated greater financial risk taking,” the IMF said. As evidence it pointed to rising asset prices, smaller premiums on riskier investments and the lack of volatility in financial markets…”

The IMF said there was a trade-off between the upside economic benefits of low interest rates and the money creation process known as quantitative easing and the downside financial stability risks… “market and liquidity risks have increased to levels that could compromise financial stability if left unaddressed.” (IMF warns period of ultra-low interest rates poses fresh financial crisis threat, Guardian)

In other words, fixing the price of money at zero for years-on-end, increases financial instability while doing nothing for the real economy. The IMF is basically admitting that the Fed has created the conditions for another meltdown.

And the excessive risk taking is not limited to margin debt either. It’s visible in financial assets across the board. Take stock buybacks, for example. Buybacks, which add nothing to a company’s productivity or real value, merely juice stock prices so shareholders and executives can cream bigger profits for themselves. What most people don’t know about buybacks is that the fatcat corporate bosses are not recycling profits into share purchases, but taking advantage of the low rates to load on more debt. Check out this eyepopping chart at Zero Hedge which shows the lethal symmetry between corporate borrowing and stock buybacks:

(The Buyback Party Is Indeed Over: Stock Repurchases Tumble In The Second Quarter, Zero Hedge)

Why is this happening?

It’s happening because the Obama administration reduced the budget deficits thereby choking off the fiscal stimulus the economy needs to grow. That bit of belt-tightening weakened overall demand forcing corporations to look for other ways to boost profits. What many CEOs figured out was that they could increase earnings by cutting costs and shedding workers while, simultaneously, goosing stock prices by taking advantage of the low interest rates and adding more debt. This is the strategy that energized the stock buyback craze, the revenue-shrinking, worker-trimming, industry-gutting plan to enrich the few at the expense of the company, its employees and its future. Check this out from the WSJ:

“Preliminary data showed stock buybacks reached $116.2 billion in the second quarter … down 27% from $159.3 billion recorded for the first quarter of this year, the second highest on record.

For the 12 months ended June, companies raised their stock repurchases to $533 billion, an increase of nearly 27% from a year earlier. Meanwhile, combined buyback and dividend expenditures for the period reached a record of $865.9 billion, with buybacks representing 61.6% of the total.” (Companies reduced stock buybacks in 2nd quarter, Wall Street Journal)

So you want to know why stocks keep soaring higher on so-so economic data?

Buybacks, that’s why. Here’s a clip from an earlier article in the WSJ that underscores the magnitude of the flimflam:

“Last year, the corporations in the Russell 3000, a broad U.S. stock index, repurchased $567.6 billion worth of their own shares—a 21% increase over 2012, calculates Rob Leiphart, an analyst at Birinyi Associates, a research firm in Westport, Conn. That brings total buybacks since the beginning of 2005 to $4.21 trillion—or nearly one-fifth of the total value of all U.S. stocks today.” (Will Stock Buybacks Bite Back?, Wall Street Journal)

If buybacks represent 20 percent of the total value of stocks today, then what’s going to happen when conditions change, that is, when QE ends and rates rise?

Stocks are going to tumble, right?

Right. And if you want to see how destructive this buyback chicanery really is, just check out the details on IBM’s recent earnings debacle. Here’s the story from the New York Times:

“In the first six months of this year, the company spent more than $12 billion … on its own shares … But all these “shareholder friendly” maneuvers have been masking an ugly truth: IBM’s success in recent years has been tied more to financial engineering than actual performance.

That became readily apparent Monday morning when the company announced its earnings, missing analysts’ expectations by a wide margin. The stock fell more than 7 percent to $169.10 by the end of the day, below the average price Mr. Buffett paid since he started buying the stock in 2011.

The company’s revenue hasn’t grown in years. Indeed, IBM’s revenue is about the same as it was in 2008.

But all along, IBM has been buying up its own shares as if they were a hot item. Since 2000, IBM spent some $108 billion on its own shares, according to its most recent annual report. It also paid out $30 billion in dividends. To help finance this share-buying spree, IBM loaded up on debt.

While the company spent $138 billion on its shares and dividend payments, it spent just $59 billion on its own business through capital expenditures and $32 billion on acquisitions. …All of which is to say that IBM has arguably been spending its money on the wrong things: shareholders, rather than building its own business.

“IBM’s financials make it self-evident that its stock-rigging strategy is not about value creation through ‘investment,’ ” David A. Stockman, the director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan… “IBM is a buyback machine on steroids that has been a huge stock-market winner by virtue of massaging, medicating and manipulating” its earnings per share.” (The Truth Hidden by IBM’s Buybacks, Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times)

But IBM is no different than anyone else. They’re all doing the same thing; “dissipating corporate assets” and “shrinking their businesses” (Yves Smith) to enrich greedy executives and their voracious shareholders. And who can blame them, after all, these corporations are merely responding to the incentives created by the Fed’s monetary policies. Stock buybacks make perfect sense when credit is easy and the price of money is zero.

So why did stock prices plunge last week?

It’s all about expectations. Investors know that the conditions that have been favorable for stock buybacks are about to change, (The Fed plans to end QE in October.) so they are making their adjustments while prices are still high. That’s why the markets have been gyrating lately. It’s also why buybacks have dropped by 27 percent in the last quarter. Check out this graph from Zero Hedge:

(The Buyback Party Is Indeed Over: Stock Repurchases Tumble In The Second Quarter, Zero Hedge)

Corporations have been willing to buy their own shares because (a) money is cheap and (b) because they knew the Fed was shrinking the supply of financial assets by buying US Treasuries. Now that the Fed is threatening to turn off the money-spigot, (which will have the same effect as raising rates) the buybacks will slow and stocks will drop. Of course, that’s not the way the analysts at Goldman Sachs see things. They think the slowdown in stock buybacks is just a temporary glitch that coincides with earnings reports. According to Business Insider:

“Goldman Sachs’ David Kostin believes a temporary pullback may explain why the S&P 500 has tumbled from its all-time high of 2,019 on Sept. 19.

“Most companies are precluded from engaging in open-market stock repurchases during the five weeks before releasing earnings,” Kostin notes. “For many firms, the beginning of the blackout period coincided with the S&P 500 peak on September 18. So the sell-off occurred during a time when the single largest source of equity demand was absent…

“We expect companies will actively repurchase shares in November and December,” he writes. “Since 2007, an average of 25% of annual buybacks has occurred during the last two months of the year.” (GOLDMAN: We’re Blaming The Stock Market Sell-Off On A Pullback In Buybacks, Business Insider)

Goldman could be right, but I don’t think so, mainly because increased volatility and ructions in the bond market suggest that market dynamics have changed. It’s a whole different ballgame now. “The VIX Volatility Index topped 30 briefly last week — often seen as an unofficial warning sign, while CNNMoney’s own Fear & Greed Index is still in “Extreme Fear” mode with the current reading is 5.” And the troubles in the bond market are even scarier. Check this out on Bloomberg:

“Corporate bond values are fluctuating the most in more than a year as Wall Street’s biggest banks opt against using their own money to absorb debt being sold by clients.

The 22 dealers that do business with the Fed reduced their net holdings of high-yield bonds by $1.7 billion in the two weeks ended Oct. 8 to a net $6.3 billion, Fed data show. They were joining the crowd in selling, with high-yield bond mutual funds receiving $7.4 billion of withdrawals since mid-September…” (Leveraged Money Spurs Selloff as Record Treasuries Trade, Bloomberg)

Here’s more from Bloomberg:

“High-yield investors are more worried that no one will bid on their bonds than they are about the risk of companies defaulting. At a time when the default rate for below investment-grade companies is holding at about half its historical average, junk-bond investors are increasingly concerned that they’ll be unable to sell when they want to…

“Clients now want to sell any bond they don’t want to hold for the long-term for fear that they will not be able to sell them later,” Bank of America Corp. analysts led by Michael Contopoulos wrote in a note today. The recent volatility “has been a wake-up call for many that dealer balance sheet constraints leads to faster price discovery and gappier price moves.”… (Lonely Bond Buyers Feel Deserted When Junk-Market Rout Heats Up, Bloomberg)

Investors are afraid that they won’t be able to get out when they want to?

Precisely, and that fear is adding to market volatility.

So what happens now?

Well, it looks like things are going to get a whole lot crazier for a while, particularly if economic data is weak, and the Fed winds down QE on schedule. Then we could see a noticeable increase in the violent swings in daily trading. One thing to keep an eye on is yields on high-yield debt which have been gradually rising signaling that investors are less eager to provide cheap credit to marginal corporate borrowers. That’s going to make it more expensive to finance stock buybacks which means that the main driver of the stock market is going to begin to stall. When buybacks drop off, the markets will drift sideways leading to a selloff in the bond market that could spark a race for the exits. Here’s how Jeff Cox sums it up over at CNBC:

“Picture this: The bond market gets spooked by a sudden interest rate scare, sending a throng of buyers streaming toward the exits, only to find a dearth of buyers on the other side. As a result, liquidity evaporates, yields soar, and the U.S. finds itself smack in the middle of another debt crisis no one saw coming…

We saw the imbalance this summer, when global unrest caused sudden outflows from high-yield corporates, and last spring, when a swift, but not unprecedented, move in rates caused a negative knee-jerk reaction in credit spreads. As one trader put it: “The Taper Tantrum was the 30-second preview to a full feature film that might yet play out.” (This is the ‘doomsday’ bond market scenario, Jeff Cox, CNBC)

We’ve already had three dress rehearsals for Cox’s “doomsday scenario” since last summer, (the most recent of which took place last Wednesday when the Dow dropped 460 pts before rebounding.) so there’s no doubt that there’s trouble ahead. Once stocks start to fall, the bond bubble will burst igniting a broader selloff and a swift plunge in prices. That will leave the balance sheets of many corporations and financial institutions deep in the red precipitating a second major financial crisis in less than 7 years.

Sound plausible?

I think so. And the problems can all be traced back to the easy money policies of the Central Bank; our friend, the Fed.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

Sentencing Whistleblowers in Australia

October 23rd, 2014 by Binoy Kampmark

It evidently is not on.  Disclosing a state of affairs surrounding the Prime Minister of Australia, through revealing a secret scholarship that his daughter received is something that can land you a sentence. It shows the absurdity of understanding the quality of information, and its effect. Such material was hardly even of the order of hacked files from Department of Defence servers.  It did not involve an individual carting off the nation’s pearls on national security.

But the key was that it happened at all. It involved a young journalist from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) discussing a form of conduct on the part of Tony Abbott that would have been relevant to his role as an office holder.  Newman had accessed student records revealing that Abbott’s daughter had received a secret scholarship from the Whitehouse Institute of Design to the value of $60,000. (The scholarship was kept secret from students and senior staff.)

This brought obvious questions into play.  Was it awarded on merit? (Such merit is hard to identify when there is only one candidate.)  All it took was one meeting with college owner Leanne Whitehouse, and the bursary was in the bag.  This did cause consternation to Whitehouse Institute staff such as former employee Melletios Kyriakidis, who suggested that, “Even from her class, I could name 10 people more deserving either for merit or financial need or both.”[1]

It was all opportune – Newman, working as a part-time librarian at the Sydney-based institute, accessed the internal computer system.  Abbott’s daughter, Frances, was working at the Melbourne campus of the same institute, though she lacked any specific role.

Such papers as The Australian smelled a rat, but if they did, that rat was emitting a strange odour.  Grand claims were made of Newman’s role in a plot that was intended to sabotage the Prime Minister.  She had been part of a dirty scheme that involved “access to the files of Ms Abbott and more than 500 other students.”[2]  Chris Graham, the owner of New Matilda, and contributing editor Wendy Bacon, were seen as part of this grand scheme, with Newman keen on “talking tactics” with them on the subject of the obtained material.[3]  Such is the lot of those whose fingers find themselves in the tills of power – there is always a conspiracy afoot to find them.

In September, Newman pleaded guilty to breaching the relevant section of the NSW Crimes Act prohibiting access to restricted data held on a computer.[4]  She was due to be sentenced on October 23, but it was decide that the sentence be deferred for another month.

While the sentencing awaits, the punishment of such conduct demonstrates, yet again, the woeful state of whistleblower protection in the country.  Loopholes abound in the laws.  Exemptions and dispensations are replete through legislation dealing with national security, freedom of information and employment.  But the most notable thing about Newman’s case was that she fell into the loophole of loopholes, not being a government employee.

“If Newman had been working in a government organisation and had made an equivalent revelation from public service records,” argues the Australian human rights lawyer, Julian Burnside, “she would likely have been able to claim whistleblower protection.”[5]

Instead, critics can point to the problems that this verdict will do – create a curious, but troubling variant of political prisoner on Australian soil. This is not as extreme as it sounds.  Globally, a species of detained individual has become the norm, be it such individuals as Jeremy Hammond and Barrett Brown in the context of exposing the behaviour of Stratfor, or more conventional agents like John Kiriakou who spend time behind bars because of revealing the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The barrister representing Newman has had to resort to working within the most unsatisfactory rules, suggesting that the case was “very much at the lower end” in terms of seriousness which did involve a breach of “her employer’s trust”.  Nor did the disclosed material reveal “overtly sensitive” details, be they in the nature of bank account details or an address.  She undertook her conduct in a state of ignorance of the law, and did not gain the material “seeking personal notoriety”.

The defence from Payne seemed meek, taking a leaf out of the book of defendant cripples and the confused.  That’s usually done by rubbishing your client in the hope she gets a lesser sentence.  She was, for instance, immature, suggesting that whistleblowing is something children or less mature do.  She did not see the consequences of her action. In what must be an old fob to the good old values of exposing a public interest case, Payne did everything to suggest that Newman was somewhat crazed, sincerely believing in that distant voice called justice.  “She sincerely believed she was acting in the public interest and was unaware she was committing an offence.”

It has been left to far more robust positions to be taken in the public domain, be it from such publications as Crikey, who claimed that Newman “should be applauded for her bravery” in blowing “the whistle on a secret scholarship awarded by a private design school to Tony Abbott’s daughter”.[6]  Facebook groups and online petitions for her release have been actively gathering signatures and supporters.  The Change.org petition seeking to “Stop the pursuit of Freya Newman” calls for enshrining “freedom of the press in the Australian constitution.”

The person who has ambled off merrily into the political sunset is Prime Minister Abbott, who seems more Teflon-like the longer he ambles through office.  That a young journalist may well spend time behind bars for revealing a deal of good disgrace is suggestive of a man who holds ideas of liberty in contempt.  All this, despite claiming before the conservative Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) in August 2012 that he, and his party, “stand for the freedoms which Australians have a right to expect and which governments have a duty to uphold.”[7]  This is the raison d’être of retribution – to punish disclosures, however small, that give the game up on the lie of governance.

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

TransEvolution: The Age of Human Deconstruction

October 23rd, 2014 by Daniel Estulin

 Daniel Estulin is an award winning investigative journalist and best selling author of The True Story of the Bilderberg Group, published in 64 countries and translated into 41 languages. In August 2010 he was invited by Fidel Castro for a personal meeting in Havana after Castro read his book. In October 2010 Mr Estulin became the first journalist to give a speech to the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Venezuelan armed forces on global financial structures and the Bilderberg Group – an annual invitation-only conference of the elites in the fields of business, finance, media, military and politics.

Mr Estulin has authored 12 books, five of them international bestsellers, including The Invisible Empire, Conspiracy Octopus, Deconstructing Wikileaks, and The Lords of Shadows.

His latest book, TransEvolution: The Age of Human Deconstruction, suggests that the depth of progress and technological development is such that people in the very near future may no longer be fully human. He asks: Is humanity in danger because of this domination of science and technology?

In the following interview with New Dawn magazine, Mr Estulin discusses the rise of transhumanism, the ‘Age of Transition’, post-humanity, synthetic biology, cybernetic immortality, new technologies of control, and the reasons why the global elite are interested in population control.

NEW DAWN (ND):  Most New Dawn readers are acquainted with your best selling book The True Story of the Bilderberg Group, in which you expose the secretive global elite planning group that meets annually. You reported that at this year’s Bilderberg meeting they expressed grave concern about the rise of Iran, Russia and China. And of course the volatile situation in Ukraine. Before we discuss your latest book, “TransEvolution: The Coming Age of Human Deconstruction,” could you elaborate on your approach to understanding world events?

DANIEL ESTULIN (DE):  We are witnessing first hand the destruction of the world’s economy and the work of supranational forces. When one speaks of policy we often mean foreign or national executed by national governments. But we have to understand that Presidents and Prime Ministers are messengers of those who rule the world from behind the scenes. Which is why to understand what is happening in the world we have to frame issues in terms of global policy decisions. These decisions are not made at the White House or Downing Street but rather in the back rooms of the supranational elite. What is taking place in the Ukraine, the revolts in Venezuela, the utter destruction of the American economy (read Detroit), drug wars in Colombia and beyond, Kosovo, Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Syria, Colour Revolutions, etc, etc. – these are not isolated events but rather part of the continuum to change the very paradigm of modern society and take us to hell through deindustrialisation, zero growth, demand destruction, perpetual wars, etc.

ND:  Your book warns about the imminent “transhumanist” revolution which seeks to integrate human with machine. What exactly is transhumanism and how is it connected directly to the global elites you’ve written extensively on in the past?

DE:  Transhumanism is an ultra high tech dream of computer scientists, philosophers, neural scientists and many others. It seeks to use radical advances in technology to augment the human body, mind and ultimately the entire human experience. To most people this sounds like something from a science fiction film. Few are aware of constant breakthroughs in technology, which makes the transhumanist vision a very real possibility for the near future.

For example, neurochip interfaces, computer chips that connect directly to the brain, are being developed right now. The ultimate goal of a brain chip would be to increase intelligence thousands of time over – basically turning the human brain into a super computer. Lifelong emotional well-being is also a key concept within transhumanism. This can be achieved through a recalibration of the pleasure centres in the brain. Pharmaceutical mood renderers have been suggested, which will be cleaner and safer than mind-altering drugs. This is Aldous Huxley’s 21st century scientific dictatorship without tears.

Transhumanism was born out of humanism, which is yet another clever disguise of “scientism,” created specifically so that global eugenics operations could be carried out without being noticed.

ND:  At the start of TransEvolution you make a link between the 2005 Bilderberg Group meeting and the 2006 British government document ‘Strategic Trends Report 2007-2036’. Was the discovery of this link one of the reasons you wrote the book?

DE:  Exactly. At the end of the 2005 Bilderberg Conference in Germany, I was given a first draft of what later turned into a UK government report, ‘Strategic Trends Report 2007-2036’, a secret source document on the future of humanity. This 91-page report is a blueprint for the UK’s future strategic national requirements through the analysis of key risks and future shocks to the world’s financial, economic, political, demographic and technological areas and markets.

But it wasn’t the only report. In my investigation I came across two additional very important reports published over a decade ago by the British government and the US government. One is called ‘The Age of Transition’ which dealt with nanotechnologies, biology, information technology and cognitive technology. The other is ‘Russia 2045 Global Future’.

It was the hope of three conferences, ‘The Age of Transitions’, the ‘Global Future 2045 International Congress’ and the ‘NBIC’ conference, to integrate humanity with nature to save Planet Earth from mankind. Visions laid out included robotics, cybernetics, artificial intelligence, life extension, brain enhancement, brain-to-brain interaction, virtual reality, genetic engineering, teleportation, human-machine interfaces, neuromorphic engineering and enhanced human capabilities for defence purposes.

Once you break down the Orwellian speak, you realise that we, the people, are the enemy of the elite and through technological advancement and enhancement they will be able to control the future of humanity.

ND:  The controversial Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin, who has been dubbed “Putin’s brain” by the globalist CFR journal Foreign Affairs, warns in regard to the transhumanist agenda: “There will be some black magic yet, and certain things that will outright petrify. I think genetic engineering – we’re only now seeing the last people; we haven’t yet seen the first post-people, which are very soon to come. These should be mutants, clones, and they aren’t just fantasies or science fiction.” What do you think will happen?

DE:  Our children are the last truly human generation of human beings on the planet. We will have transhuman children – post human, man-machine, cyborgs who are not totally human as a result of synthetic biology.

Now, in one of the biggest breakthroughs in recent history, scientists have created a synthetic genome that can self-replicate. They have taken a cell and modified the genes of a cell by inserting DNA from another organism. And the bacteria replicated itself thus creating a second generation of the synthetic DNA. The organism will do exactly what the scientist intended: a living thing, but under the control of Man.

If the 19th century was all about the revolution of harnessing energy from fossil fuels, and the 20th century was about exploiting the power of data, this century will be about controlling biology.

What’s amazing is that the cell was assembled and sparked into life in a laboratory. This technology takes mankind across a threshold. A turning point that marked a coming of age of a new science called synthetic biology, founded on the ambition that one day it will be possible to design and manufacture a human being.

In other words, you can get DNA of anything here on Earth and create organisms that never before existed entirely from non-living materials. Scientists are creating new life forms that the human immune system and the world have never so far experienced. As such, it will revitalise perennial questions about the significance of life – what it is, why it is important and what role humans should have in its future.

ND:  Most people seem oblivious to what is just around the corner in terms of technology and its impact on human life. You say in your book that transhumanism is “steered by the elite” and that “we, the people, have not been invited.” What are some of the visible strategies being employed by the elites to dumb down the population so they sleepwalk into this so-called transhumanist “utopia”?

DE:  Media, social media in all of its manifestations, and especially Hollywood – GIJoe 2, Prototype, Transcendence, Gatacca, I am Legend, Moon, Minority Report, AVATAR. Video games like ‘Deus Ex’. These are films, but the reality is far more dangerous.

Once they see some of these same gadgets employed in real life, people think they are still watching a ‘cool’ Hollywood ‘flick’. For example, in Minority Report Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton has a radical surgery to replace his eyes so that he can get past security systems that scan his retina to identify him. As he’s lying in a tub recovering from his black-market procedure, tiny robots sneak into the room and scan his eyes in an attempt to track down the fugitive Future Crime officer. The ability to scan retinas to identify people is straight out of a sci-fi film but, outside of the use of spider-like drone bots, this is very much present and near future. In fact, soon your eyes may not even need to be in close proximity to the scanner to be identified.

Engineers at Southern Methodist University are working closely with the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a new type of eye scanner that could identify a room full of people without their knowledge. The new image sensors, called Panoptes, could locate and scan a person’s iris regardless of distance, and even if they’re not looking directly at the camera. The system, dubbed Smart-Iris, is impervious to problems like poor lighting, glare, eye-lashes, or movement. And, with the help of a new algorithm, it can function with only a partial scan.

One of the most talked about areas of research is something called the “Active Denial System,” ADS. ADS is a by-product of a larger ongoing research effort looking for technology that could delete and then replace a person’s memories via the use of electromagnetic radiation.

If you are thinking Men in Black Hollywood science fiction, you are absolutely right. Except the technology, called “Amnesia Beam,” is here, ready to be used at a moment’s notice. What’s more, a team of neuroscientists has actually developed a brain scan based on finding hints about what a subject is intending to do. This is a nightmare version of Minority Report made reality.

Scientists claim that the seeds of criminal and anti-social behaviour can be found in children as young as three. More researchers believe that violent tendencies have a biological basis, and that tests and brain imaging can pick them up in children. By predicting which children have the potential to be trouble, treatments could be introduced to keep them on the straight and narrow. If the tests are accurate enough, then a form of screening could be introduced in the same way we test for some diseases. The theories were put forward by two leading criminologists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

Please understand, these are not publicly funded projects for the betterment of humanity, but they are mostly secret experiments sanctioned in the name of defence, which when put on its head is crime prevention. Extrapolated into the future it’s tailor-made to put down any rebellion by the 99% of the world’s population destined to live in abject poverty in crime infested Mega-Cities of the future.

Let me give you another example. Last year FOX showed a TV series called Almost Human where one of the main characters is a cyborg cop interacting with humans in society. Almost Human is about neuroscience, a key element of the elite’s control. Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. With advances in chemistry, computer science, engineering, medicine and other disciplines, neuroscience now also includes the study of the molecular, cellular, developmental, structural, functional, evolutionary, computational, and medical aspects of the nervous system. From molecular and cellular studies of individual nerve cells to imaging of sensory and motor tasks in the brain, neuroscience has crossed the threshold of science and has become a key element of national security apparatus the world over.

The development of sophisticated neuro-weapons will create a perpetual state of uncertainty with the promise and peril of the development of neuro-warfare and its effects. Emotional detection systems will pervade public areas as global surveillance networks seek out terrorists and criminals.
These technologies are not being developed to stop the terrorists but rather to stop you! The laws to justify these technologies are not written on a whim. They are specifically designed to give the government carte blanche authority over the people during the chaos and confusion of the ‘Age of Transitions’. Transition to a planetary civilisation.

You see, the future Bin Ladens and Qadhafis are not the enemy. In fact, they never were. You are the enemy. Whether at airports, border crossings or on the street corner, from now on we will be mind-probed by amazing new technology developed by the Human Factors Division of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science & Technology directorate [this is an actual division of US Homeland Security].

ND:  You write that: “Transhumanism fills people’s hopes and minds with dreams of becoming superhuman, but the fact of the matter is that the true goal is the removal of that pesky, human free will itself.” Do you believe the elites are planning this coming age of machine and robots (which are very sophisticated and will replace many human jobs) as a way to eventually eliminate the excess of humanity, the “useless eaters” as they’ve been termed?

DE:  There is an effort by the mainstream press to focus on the work issue and completely miss the bigger picture. First, let’s look at the technology. Brain machine interfaces would allow the control of machinery with the brain itself. Implantable brain chips would also be able to store information and enhance cognitive function. The ultimate human machine symbiosis would be to download the actual copy of a person’s brain into a super computer.

I repeat, this would allow someone to effectively live forever in a computer-generated virtual simulation. And, of course, the military implications of convergence are quite obvious. A cybernetic enhancement of human performance is inevitable. Achieving these visions requires the decoding and understanding of complex systems. The most important complex system being the human brain. After all, it is the driving force behind human performance.

Augmentation can be a huge business for these corporations. We have been integrating ourselves with technology for decades now, replacing damaged limbs with mechanical limbs, implanting data chips into our bodies which give away huge amounts of information to governments and corporations all across the world. Has it come to the point when we will be actively encouraged to exchange our perfectly functional body parts for upgraded applications?

But it comes at a price. You will have to take the drugs for the rest of your lives to make sure the augmentation works. These drugs are both dangerous and addictive and expensive. If you don’t, your body will reject your augmentation. The elite will have their technology in you. They have the power to turn off your limbs, the potential to turn off your eyes, send messages to your brain and control your thoughts as if they have the power of God.

The technology doesn’t end there: Intel is working on implantable sensors in the brain that will be able to directly control computers and cell phones. By the year 2020 you won’t need a keyboard and mouse to control your computer. Instead, users will open documents and surf the web using nothing more than their brain waves.

The potential ‘benefits’ of such technology are almost beyond imagination. An article on the website of the Science Channel put it this way: “If you could pump data directly into your gray matter at, say, 50 mb per sec – you’d be able to read a 500-page book in just under two-tenths of a second. How would the world change if you could download a lifetime of learning directly into your brain in a matter of weeks?”

The possibilities are endless. But so is the potential for abuse. Through interaction, implantable microchips can ‘talk’ directly to the brain, bypassing sensory receptors. This would give a tyrannical government an ultimate form of control. If you could download thoughts and feelings directly into the brains of your citizens, you could achieve total control and never have to worry about them turning on you.

We haven’t even scratched the surface. Called Remote Neural Monitoring (RNM), this technology is already in use in the USA, UK, Spain, Sweden, Germany and France. It allows them to see through your eyes, hear your thoughts, and upload photos and scents into your brain as real as if you saw or smelled it in the natural environment.

Needless to say, the perpetrators can hear what you hear because you become a unit of the mainframe. They can change your behaviour, affect memory functions and emotions. This is not a plotline of a dystopian novel. This is real and it is being implemented today, every day by the governments who profess to protect us from evil.

In fact, you could potentially program these chips to make your citizens feel good all the time: The ultimate goal of Huxley’s scientific dictatorship without tears – soma personified. The future is now.

Instead of drugs like cocaine and marijuana giving you a natural high, you could have these chips produce a ‘natural high’ that never ends. Drug dependency replaced by a fully government sanctioned chip dependency. The way of the future.

Post-humanity will be a new human, genetically engineered and brain-chipped for total control. Part man and part machine, the new man will no longer have a need of the sexual reproductive function. If the elite’s plan is to reduce the world’s population, can you think of a better way to do that?

ND:  What’s the connection between elite control of the world’s food supply and the depopulation agenda?

DE:  There is no better or cheaper way to reduce population than through starvation. And in order to starve a people to death you must take control of their food production away from independent farmers and put it into the hands of giant corporations subservient to the interests of World Company Inc.

Ten to twelve pivotal companies, assisted by another three dozen, run the world’s food supply. This cartel has complete domination over world cereals and grains supplies, from wheat to corn and oats, from barley to sorghum and rye. But it also controls meat, dairy, edible oils and fats, fruits and vegetables, sugar, and all forms of spices.

While these firms maintain the legal fiction of being different corporate organisations, in reality this is one interlocking syndicate with a common purpose and multiple overlapping boards of directors.

Please understand, this interlocked self-perpetuating syndicate decides who eats and who doesn’t, who lives and who dies. It is a virtual spider web of financial, political, economic and industry interests with the Venetian ultramontane fondi model at the centre. These people own and manage the affairs of an interlocking corporate apparatus that dominates choke points within the global economy, especially finance, insurance, raw materials, transportation, and consumer goods.

But it does not end there. The control of food supplies is a matter of national security. The US Department of Agriculture is one of the key elements in a national security edifice attempting to control the world food market.

Food is power. When it is used to cull the population, it becomes a weapon of mass destruction. You may not realise it, but the elite certainly do.

ND:  In light of these alarming behind-the-scenes developments, can you elaborate on the global elite’s long-term plan?

DE:  There are currently seven billion people on Planet Earth, a small blue orb meandering through space with limited natural resources and an ever-expanding population. Food and water are becoming scarcer. The elite understand this: a larger population equals fewer natural resources and more food and water supply shortages. Therefore, from the point of view of an oligarchical elite, if they want to completely control a planet, they must reduce the population to a more ‘manageable’ number. Remember, seven billion people and growing is a lot of mouths to feed. For the elite to eat, you and I have to die. How is that for a solution?

ND:  How can aware people resist this diabolical ‘TransEvolution’?

DE:  We have to understand that all of us have a place in the universe. Immortality, the way I understand it, is assuring the survival of the human species. Human beings are the most divine element of the known Universe. Nothing compares to our divine spark of reason. Technology and progress must be used to increase Man’s power in the Universe, not to destroy humanity.

Readers are encouraged to obtain a copy of Daniel Estulin’s book TransEvolution: The Age of Human Deconstruction, in which he lays out the full evidence for the points covered in this interview (and much more). The book can be purchased from all good bookstores or www.amazon.com. Signed editions of his books are available from his online store www.danielestulin.com/store/

Accidents in Germ Labs and the Ebola Pandemic

October 23rd, 2014 by Washington's Blog

Accidents at Germ Labs Have Occurred Worldwide

Nations such as Russia, South Africa and the U.S. have long conducted research into how to make deadly germs even more deadly.

And accidents at these research facilities have caused germs to escape, killing people and animals near the facilities.

For example, the Soviet research facility at Sverdlovsk conducted anthrax research during the Cold War. They isolated the most potent strain of anthrax culture and then dried it to produce a fine powder for use as an aerosol. In 1979, an accident at the facility released anthrax, killing 100.

The U.S. has had its share of accidents.  USA Today noted in August:

More than 1,100 laboratory incidents involving bacteria, viruses and toxins that pose significant or bioterror risks to people and agriculture were reported to federal regulators during 2008 through 2012, government reports obtained by USA TODAY show.

***

In two other incidents, animals were inadvertently infected with contagious diseases that would have posed significant threats to livestock industries if they had spread. One case involved the infection of two animals with hog cholera, a dangerous virus eradicated from the USA in 1978. In another incident, a cow in a disease-free herd next to a research facility studying the bacteria that cause brucellosis, became infected ….

The issue of lab safety and security has come under increased scrutiny by Congress in recent weeks after a series of high-profile lab blunders at prestigious government labsinvolving anthrax, bird flu and smallpox virus.

***

The new lab incident data indicate mishaps occur regularly at the more than 1,000 labs operated by 324 government, university and private organizations across the country ….

“More than 200 incidents of loss or release of bioweapons agents from U.S. laboratories are reported each year. This works out to more than four per week,” said Richard Ebright, a biosafety expert at Rutgers university in New Jersey, who testified before Congress last month at a hearing about CDC’s lab mistakes.

The only thing unusual about the CDC’s recent anthrax and bird flu lab incidents, Ebright said, is that the public found out about them. “The 2014 CDC anthrax event became known to the public only because the number of persons requiring medical evaluation was too high to conceal,” he said.

CDC officials were unavailable for interviews and officials with the select agent program declined to provide additional information. The USDA said in a statement Friday that“all of the information is protected under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.”

Such secrecy is a barrier to improving lab safety ….

Gronvall notes that even with redundant systems in high-security labs, there have been lab incidents resulting in the spread of disease to people and animals outside the labs.

She said a lab accident is considered by many scientists to be the most likely source of the re-emergence in 1977 of an H1N1 flu strain that had disappearedin 1957 because the genetic makeup of the strain hadn’t changed as it should have over those decades. A 2009 article in the New England Journal of Medicine noted the 1977 strain was so similar to the one that disappeared that it suggests it had been “preserved” and that the re-emergence was “probably an accidental release from a laboratory source.”

***

In 2012, CDC staff published an article in the journal Applied Biosafety on select agent theft, loss and releases from 2004 through 2010, documenting 727 reported incidents, 11 lab-acquired infections and one loss of a specimen in transit among more than 3,400 approved shipments.

The article noted that the number of reports received by CDC likely underestimates the true number of suspected losses and releases.

Indeed, there have been many accidents involving germ research. For example, the New York Timesnoted in 2005:

In 2002, the discovery of lethal anthrax outside a high-security laboratory at the military’s premier biodefense laboratory, the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Maryland, led to sampling throughout the institute.

And the Los Angeles Times reported in 1988:

The Senate report noted that accidents have occurred in the handling of potentially deadly biological material. Vials of biological warfare agents have been misplaced or spilled, it said, employees have been exposed to deadly toxins and a fire once broke out in the high-containment laboratory of the Army’s leading germ warfare facility at Ft. Detrick, Md.

Researchers are creating some very dangerous bugs. The Frederick News Post – an excellent local newspaper for the community surrounding the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick – reported in 2010 that the facility would eventually aerosolize Ebola:

Ludwig said researchers at the facility will likely start out working on vaccines for filoviruses such as Ebola and Marburg, as well as new anthrax vaccines.

***

The facility will have the capability to produce viruses in aerosolized form that would simulate a potential biological attack on the test animals. Ludwig said aerosol is the means of exposure researchers are most concerned with given its implications to battlefield and homeland defense.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist has re-created the 1918 Spanish flu in the lab. The Guardiannoted in June:

In an article published last month, [Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health] argued that experiments like Kawaoka’s could unleash acatastrophic pandemic if a virus escaped or was intentionally released from a high-security laboratory.

***

Many of the groups that create dangerous viruses to understand their workings are funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Lord May [the former president of the Royal Society and one time chief science adviser to the UK government] said he suspected the NIH supported the work because officials there were “incompetent” and believed the justifications that scientists told them. “This is work that shouldn’t be done. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

***

The study identifies particular mutations that made the virus spread so easily. But that is not much use for surveillance, said Lipsitch, because there are scores of other mutations that could have the same effect.

***

Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said he feared that governments and funding bodies would only take the risks seriously once an accident had happened. “It’s madness, folly. It shows profound lack of respect for the collective decision-making process we’ve always shown in fighting infections. If society, the intelligent layperson, understood what was going on, they would say ‘What the F are you doing?‘”

Obama Now Claims that He’s Shutting Down Domestic Germ Program

The New York Times reported last week that President Obama is so concerned about these accidental releases that he’s clamping down on germ research:

Prompted by controversy over dangerous research and recent laboratory accidents, the White House announced Friday that it would temporarily halt all new funding for experiments that seek to study certain infectious agents by making them more dangerous.

It also encouraged scientists involved in such research on the influenza, SARS and MERS viruses to voluntarily pause their work while its risks were reassessed.

***

The announcement, which was made by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services, did not say how long the moratorium would last. It said a “deliberative process to assess the potential risks and benefits” would begin this month and stretch at least into next year.

The move appeared to be a sudden change of heart by the Obama administration, which last month issued regulations calling for more stringent federal oversight of such research and requiring scientists and universities to disclose that their work might be risky, rather than expecting federal agencies to notice.

***

The moratorium is only on research on influenza virus and the coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS.

***

The debate over the wisdom of “gain of function” research erupted in 2011 when the labs of Ron Fouchier of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, separately announced that they had succeeded in making the lethal H5N1 avian flu easily transmissible between ferrets, which are a model for human susceptibility to flu.

The debate heated up further this year when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted it had suffered laboratory accidents that exposed dozens of workers to anthrax and shipped deadly avian flu virus to another federal lab that had asked for a more benign flu strain.

***

The White House said the moratorium decision had been made “following recent biosafety incidents at federal research facilities.”

***

Many scientists were furious that such work had been permitted and even supported with American tax dollars. But others argued that it was necessary to learn which genetic mutations make viruses more dangerous. If those mutations began appearing naturally as the viruses circulated in animals and people, warnings could be issued and vaccines designed, they said.

***

Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist and bioweapons expert at Rutgers University, argued that the long history of accidental releases of infectious agents from research labs made such work extremely risky and unwise to perform in the first place.

Germs Abroad

The U.S. conducts germ research worldwide.  As the Los Angeles Times pointed out in the 1988 article:

The Army conducts or contracts for germ warfare work at 120 sites worldwide ….

The National Journal’s Global Security Newswire reported in 2011 that such sites include bioweapon germs such as Anthrax and Ebola in Africa:

The Obama administration has requested $260 million in fiscal 2012 funding to bolster protective measures at African research sites that house lethal disease agents, the Examiner reported on Sunday (see GSN, April 14).

The Defense Department funding would be used to safeguard against extremist infiltration facilities in Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere that hold potential biological-weapon agents such as anthraxEbola and Rift Valley fever.

The heads of germ research for the Russian and South African governments both say that they intentionally created more lethal forms of deadly germs such as Ebola.

Specifically, the former head of Russia’s biological weapons program told PBS:

In the 70s and beginning of 80s the Soviet Union started developing new biological weapons–Marburg infection biological weapon, Ebola infection biological weapon, Machupo infection, [or] Bolivian hemorrhagic biological weapon, and some others.

The head of South Africa’s Apartheid-era biological weapons program also worked on weaponizing Ebola. The New Yorker noted in 2011:

Dr. Wouter Basson, and the various apartheid-era clandestine weapons programs he oversaw as leader of Project Coast…

South Africans call him Dr. Death. He is regularly compared by the local press, never very persuasively, to Josef Mengele. . .

***

There were revelations of research into a race-specific bacterial weapon; a project to find ways to sterilize the country’s black population ….

***

Basson’s scientists were working with anthrax, cholera, salmonella, botulinum, thallium, E. coli, ricin, organophosphates, necrotizing fasciitis, hepatitis A, and H.I.V., as well as nerve gases (Sarin, VX) and the Ebola, Marburg, and Rift Valley hemorrhagic-fever viruses. They were producing crude toxins (and some strange delivery systems) for use by the military and police, and they were genetically engineering extremely dangerous new organisms—creating, that is, biological weapons.

And see this.

Dr. Basson alleges that the UK and U.S. helped South Africa with its biowarfare research:

The U.S. has – in the past – intentionally deployed germ warfare abroad. For example, the Senate’s Church Committee found that the CIA decided to bump off the heads of Congo and Cuba using lethal germs.  And the United States sold anthrax to Saddam Hussein in 1985, for the express purpose of using it against Iran. (CIA files also prove that the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against Iran.)

Top Bioweapons Expert Speaks Out on Ebola

Washington’s Blog spoke with one of America’s leading experts on the dangers of research into deadly germs, Dr. Francis Boyle.

Dr. Boyle wrote the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the American implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.

Dr. Boyle served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International (1988-1992), and is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: You said recently that laboratories in West Africa run by the Centers for Disease Control and Tulane University are doing bioweapons research.  What documentary evidence do you have of that?

You mentioned that a map produced by the CDC shows where the laboratories are located on the West Coast of Africa?

DR. FRANCIS BOYLE:  Yes. They’ve got one in Monrovia [the capital of Ebola-stricken Liberia] … one in Kenema, Sierra Leone [the third largest city in the Ebola-hotzone nation], which was shut down this summer because the government there believed that it was the Tulane vaccines which had set this whole thing off.

And then they have another one in Guinea, where the first case [of Ebola] was reported.

All of these are labs which do this offensive/defensive biowarfare work.

And Fort Detrick’s USAMRIID [the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases] has also been over there. So it’s clear what’s been going on there.

CDC has a long history of doing biowarfare work. I have them doing biowarfare work for the Pentagon in Sierra Leone as early 1988.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG:   And how do you know that? Have you seen official documents?

DR. FRANCIS BOYLE:  An official government document: the Biological Defense Research Program, May 1988.  I analyzed it in my book, Biowarfare and Terrorism.

It’s clear that [the U.S. bioweapons researchers] were using Liberia to try to circumvent the Biological Weapons Convention.  And CDC – for years – has been up to its eyeballs in biowarfare work.

They always try to justify the development of offensive biological weapons by claiming it’s being done for “defensive” purposes.  That’s just a lie … and it’s always been a lie.

It’s been the case on Ebola and just about every other biowarfare agent you can think of.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG:  Does that type of research violate the Biological Weapons Convention?

DR. FRANCIS BOYLE: Well, of course! It also violates the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act [which Boyle drafted], which was passed unanimously by both houses of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Bush, Senior.

That Act creates life in prison for this type of “Dr. Menegle” type work.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG:  And Obama recently said – as quoted in the New York Times article – that he’s “curtailing” this type of defensive research, or putting it on hold.

Do you believe him?

DR. FRANCIS BOYLE:  That’s the smoking gun, right there. Read that article [the New York Times article quoted above, which notes "a sudden change of heart by the Obama administration" about labs creating ever-deadlier versions of germs which are already lethal].

The reason they’ve stopped it is to cover themselves, I think, because they know that this type of work was behind the outbreak of the [Ebola] pandemic in West Africa.

But that’s an admission right there, de facto.

_ _ _

Dr. Boyle made it clear that he is not suggesting – as some others are – that Ebola was intentionally released into the African population. He says he has seen no evidence of intentional release.  He’s speaking about an accidental release of germs from a biowarfare research lab.

He’s convinced, in fact, that this Ebola epidemic in Africa started with the release from a U.S. bioweapons lab in West Africa.   One of the reasons for his conviction that the outbreak started with the release from a bioweapon lab is that this Ebola strain seems to be much worse than those previously seen in the wild.

As Dr. Boyle told us:

It seems to me that [the Ebola epidemic in West Africa] has U.S. biowarfare programs written all over it.

A “no refusal” checkpoint where drivers will be forced to stop and potentially submit to having their blood taken on the side of the road by law enforcement authorities is planned for Clark County, Ohio tomorrow.

“Every car will be checked to ensure that drivers are not impaired. If there is sufficient probable cause to believe that a driver is operating a vehicle while impaired, law enforcement will seek a blood search warrant from a “neutral and detached magistrate,” reports ABC 22.

The time and location of the checkpoint will not be released until hours before it is set to begin.

Once a search warrant is obtained, a nurse will draw blood to check for alcohol or drugs. It is not specified whether the blood draws will take place on the side of the road or at a nearby jail.

Although the practice of taking blood from motorists suspected of being under the influence has been the law in numerous states for years, many remain unaware of how those who refuse to consent to the procedure are treated.

Last year we highlighted shocking video footage out of Georgia which showed police officers forcibly strapping down citizens accused of drunk driving before putting them in a headlock and having a nurse draw blood.

As the clip shows, even compliant individuals who are showing zero resistance have their heads forcibly pushed down as the blood is taken.

“We all are American citizens and you guys have me strapped to a table like I’m in Guantanamo f***ing Bay,” complains one individual.

Another man screams “what country is this?” as officers hold him down and take his blood without consent.

“Holding down and forcing somebody to submit to this is really intrusive in terms of that level of invasive procedure into someone’s body is ridiculous for investigating a misdemeanor,” Attorney David Boyle told Fox 5 Atlanta, describing the forced blood draws as an “unreasonable search” under the 4th Amendment.

In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that it is not unconstitutional for the state to hold down Americans and forcefully withdraw blood. A January 2013 ruling affirmed that a warrant must be obtained for the process, although police could dispense with the warrant requirement in an “emergency”.

As we reported last December, citizens are also being intimidated into participating in so-called “voluntary” drug survey checkpoints, during which private firms working on behalf of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy take DNA samples from motorists by swabbing their cheek.

Evidence clearly indicates that sobriety checkpoints have little to do with saving lives or catching drunk drivers and everything to do with revenue generation. In states like California, the number of vehicles impounded as a result of license violations is seven times higher than the number of drunk driving arrests during checkpoint operations.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.

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A federal court jury convicted four former Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries on charges of murder and manslaughter Wednesday for their role in the 2007 massacre in Nisour Square in Baghdad, which left 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians dead and another 20 wounded.

Blackwater earned global notoriety for the massacre, which was one expression of a brutal US war and occupation that has left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and laid waste to an entire society. The Nisour Square massacre stands alongside similar atrocities carried out by US forces in Haditha, Fallujah, the Abu Ghraib prison facility and elsewhere.

Former Blackwater sniper Nicholas Slatten was convicted of first degree murder. Evan Liberty, Paul Slough and Dustin Heard were all found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and using a machine gun to carry out a violent crime. The convictions carry minimum sentences of 30 years in prison for Liberty, Slough and Heard and a potential life sentence for Slatten.

The decision is subject to appeal, which could take a year or more, and the verdicts could be overturned in the process.

After 28 days of deliberation following an 11-week trial, the jury in a federal district court in Washington decisively rejected the defense team’s arguments that the mercenaries had fired on the crowd in self-defense. This story had already been thoroughly debunked by an Iraqi government study and independent investigations by reporters at the New York Times and Washington Post .

On September 16, 2007, the security contractors opened up with machine guns and grenade launchers into stopped traffic, before turning their sights on crowds of civilians seeking to flee the scene. The Blackwater forces suffered virtually no damage during the incident.

Civilian vehicles were riddled with dozens of bullets. One woman was shot as she held her dead son in her arms, with the vehicle she was in then incinerated. Blackwater helicopters also fired into cars from overhead.

Jurors were reportedly overwhelmed by the gruesome details supplied in testimony by witnesses. One juror was excused after informing the judge that testimony from a father about the death of his 9-year old son caused her to suffer from bouts of insomnia.

The massacre occurred amidst the massive wave of sectarian and ethnic bloodletting, fomented in 2007 by the US as part the “surge,” which forced hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to flee their homes in a matter of months, bringing to the total number of refugees produced by the US invasion to some 3.7 million.

The Obama administration, which prosecuted the case, has sought to spin the guilty verdict as an example of the US government’s supposed democratic values.

“This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” US Attorney Ronald Machen said in an official statement. “Today’s verdict demonstrates the FBI’s dedication to investigating violations of US law no matter where they occur,” said top FBI official Andrew McCabe.

In reality, while the Blackwater mercenaries are guilty of horrendous crimes, these crimes flowed from the overarching crime: the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US government with the aim of extending its control over the oil-rich country.

For this crime, the entire political and military establishment stands guilty, and none of the principal architects have been prosecuted. This includes the top officials in the Bush administration: former president George W. Bush, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former vice president Dick Cheney and many others. The preparation and launching of the war of aggression was aided and abetted by Democrats and Republicans in the Congress, along with the mass media, which propagated the lies used to justify the war.

While shielding Bush-era war criminals from prosecution, the Obama administration has continued and extended the global program of war and violence of the US military. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were followed by the war in Libya, the stoking of civil war in Syria, and a massive program of murder through drone warfare, with the populations of Yemen, Libya and Somalia subject to regular volleys of cruise missiles and laser guided-weapons.

Now the Obama administration has launched a new war in the Middle East, with troops returning to Iraq and preparations being put in place for a direct war in Syria. At the same time, the US military is increasingly turning its attention to larger threats to the interests of the American ruling class, including China and Russia.

The Blackwater verdict gives expression to growing popular revulsion against the neocolonial war policies of the government and the prominent role of fascistic mercenary forces. While the Justice Department brought the case, the verdict was undoubtedly received with a mixture of shock and apprehension by the Obama administration and the military.

Contrary to numerous reports in the corporate media portraying the convictions as a long-standing goal of US policy, in reality the military, political establishment and court system made strenuous efforts to protect the Blackwater agents from prosecution. The State Department granted the mercenaries partial immunity, and a federal judge dismissed the case against them in 2009 before it was later reinstated. The US also blocked efforts by Iraq to try the men in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Blackwater, since renamed Xi and now Academi, remains a favored instrument of US foreign policy, with hundreds of its private gunmen serving as shock troops for the US-backed regime in Kiev in its terror war against the civilian population of east Ukraine. Supported by US intelligence, Blackwater operators have played a leadership role in the operations of neo-Nazi Right Sector militias and fascistic forces responsible for ongoing atrocities.

The Canadian state has enacted its National Anti-Terrorism Plan, which involves the coordinated mobilization of all sections of the national-security apparatus, including the military, in response to the shooting Wednesday morning of a soldier at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa and storming of the national parliament building by a gunman.

The soldier, 24 year-old Canadian Armed Forces Reservist Nathan Cirillo, succumbed to his injuries.

Soon after, security forces shot and killed a man armed with a rifle in what is being described as a wild shootout in the Hall of Honour. The hall, which is both a ceremonial hall and main corridor, accesses the rooms where the ruling Conservatives and Official Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) were holding their weekly parliamentary caucus meetings. When the shooting erupted, both Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair were at their respective party meetings.

Police-intelligence sources have identified the dead gunman as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. He was reportedly under surveillance by Canada’s national security agencies and had had his passport confiscated to prevent him from traveling to the Middle East to link up with Islamist militia groups.

In the aftermath of the Parliament Hill attack, police mounted a massive security operation, saying they believed there had been multiple attackers. The media cited unconfirmed reports of multiple shooters and shots being fired at locations other than the War Memorial and Hall of Honour.

From the parliament buildings, the police rapidly expanded a security perimeter, placing offices, shops and schools under lockdown, closing off streets to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and deploying heavily-armed SWAT teams.

The locked-down area quickly came to encompass much of downtown Ottawa, confining thousands of government workers, shoppers, tourists and Ottawa University students. Schools throughout the city were either in lockdown or semi-lockdown. The latter was described as students being confined to their classrooms with no one allowed to enter or leave.

The lockdown remained in effect throughout the afternoon and early evening, ending only at 8:30 PM. According to one news report, police were stopping vehicles leaving Ottawa in the direction of Montreal and questioning their occupants.

The emergency measures extended well beyond Ottawa. In Toronto, additional police were deployed at the Ontario legislature, City Hall, government and military facilities and on the subway. In Montreal, City Hall was closed to visitors and at the Quebec National Assembly in Quebec City, security was doubled and a helicopter circled the building.

All Canadian Armed Forces bases have been placed on high alert and NORAD, the joint US-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command, has increased its “alert posture,” placing an increased number of fighter jets on high alert.

The US has also heightened security along the Canada-US border.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest began his daily press briefing by condemning the attack. In doing so he emphasized Canada’s importance as a military-strategic partner of Washington, including in the new war in the Mideast.

Yesterday, eight Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 fighters left for Kuwait, where they will join the US bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. Canadian Special Forces are already in Iraq.

Whatever the motive for yesterday’s shooting spree, the action was utterly reactionary. It can only assist Harper’s Conservative government and the Canadian ruling elite in implementing their agenda of imperialist war abroad and sweeping attacks on working people’s democratic and social rights at home.

The Ottawa attack will no doubt be exploited by the Obama administration. When Earnest spoke, there was no evidence whatsoever that the perpetrator of the Ottawa shootings had any sympathy for Islamacism, let alone ties to ISIS. Yet the White House spokesman was quick to claim that unless the US campaign against ISIS was successful, the jihadist organization would have a safe haven in Iraq and Syria from which to strike the US homeland.

Yesterday’s events have obvious similarities to those that unfolded in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec earlier in the week. A Canadian soldier was killed and another injured Monday when they were deliberately run over by a car driven by another individual whose passport had been confiscated to prevent him going to the Mideast and who was under heavy state surveillance, Martin Couture-Rouleau. (See: Canada: Harper using “terror attack” to impose anti-democratic measures).

Even the corporate media has noted that the government’s response to Monday’s events was extraordinary, with Prime Minster Harper and his top aides moving quickly to frame it as an Islamist-inspired “terror attack” and citing it as proof of the government’s claim that the draconian 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act needed to be strengthened.

In a sharp break with Canadian norms, it was Harper and the Prime Minister’s Office, not the police and security agencies, who fed the press with information about Monday’s attack and Couture-Rouleau’s ties to “radical Islam.” This began with Harper, in response to a planted question from a Conservative backbencher, telling parliament early Monday afternoon that there had likely been a “terror attack.” This was long before the police, let alone the media, had suggested any motive for the hit-and-run in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Since September 2001, governments have repeatedly seized on terrorist attacks—many of them facilitated by gross and unexplained security lapses—to push through long-planned, sweeping and reactionary policy changes. In unguarded moments, the likes of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke about the “opportunity” represented by the 9/11terrorist attacks: the opportunity to mount aggressive wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, aimed at shoring up US imperialism’s global strategic hegemony, and push through attacks on democratic rights at home.

Harper’s response to Monday’s events in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu and the police-military mobilization in response to yesterday’s attack—one that increasingly appears to have been the work of a lone individual—demonstrate that a similar campaign to shift politics further to the right is now underway.

In a brief, somber nationally televised address Wednesday evening, Harper claimed that this week’s two fatal incidents constituted an attack on “our nation and our values.” He vowed, in Churchillian-style, “We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated.”

Harper went on to insist that “all necessary steps” would be taken to keep Canada safe. This was a clear reference to legislation, due to have been presented to parliament yesterday, that would expand the powers of Canada’s intelligence services and prohibit defence lawyers and even judges from questioning Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) informants. Harper also vowed to work with Canada’s allies “against all terrorist groups,” so as to ensure “they will have no safe haven.” This was a clear statement of the government’s intent to expand Canada’s role in the US-led war in Iraq and Syria. Currently, the government has authorized a six-month combat mission, but last week the head of Canada’s military indicated a much longer Canadian intervention will be required.

Pursuing an agenda that is inimical to the interests of the vast majority of the population, Canada’s ruling elite, like its counterparts in the US and the other imperialist democracies, is increasingly turning to authoritarian methods of rule, chauvinist and militarist appeals, and the politics of fear-mongering and provocation.

“In overthrowing me you have cut down in Saint Domingue [Haiti] only the trunk of the tree of liberty; it will spring up again from the roots, for they are many and they are deep.”  - Toussaint L’Ouverture


The people of Haiti have been living under a military occupation for over ten years by way of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). However, this military imposition has not generated sustained organizing and mobilizing of resources from anti-war, Pan-Afrikanist/nationalist, socialist, trade unions, international solidarity activists, organizations or movements located in the imperialist centres of Europe and North America.

It is critically important for Western-based progressive forces to question themselves on the reason behind their failure to challenge the military occupation as an imperialist assault on the labouring classes, and as an attempt to prevent the emergence of a non-capitalist development agenda in Haiti. Where is the required and expected solidarity from these activist groups or social movements?

The Guinea-Bissau/Cape Verde revolutionary adult educator, theoretician, military strategist, and practitioner Amilcar Cabral calls for a solidarity from the global North that is based on mutual interest and a “common enemy”:

“If, as would seem from all the evidence, imperialism exists and is trying simultaneously to dominate the working class in all the advanced countries and smother the national liberation movements in all the underdeveloped countries, then there is only one enemy against whom we are fighting. If we are fighting together, then I think the main aspect of our solidarity is extremely simple: it is to fight – I don’t think there is any need to discuss this very much. We are struggling in Guinea with guns in our hands, you must struggle in your countries as well – I don’t say with guns in your hands, I’m not going to tell you how to struggle, that’s your business; but you must find the best means and the best forms of fighting against our common enemy: this is the best form of solidarity.”

On the question of MINUSTAH’s occupation of Haiti, it would be hard for peace and global justice organizations to declare that they are using the “best means and the best forms of fighting” to end the 10-year military intervention scheme by the United States and its allies, and the United Nations. On October 14, 2014, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to extend the presence of the occupation force for another year. It was done without significant mobilization and opposition from peace, global justice and internationality solidarity activists and organizations.

The people across the world who are committed to the self-determination of oppressed peoples should work to ensure that this imperial military mission ends before October 15, 2015. Some members of the public might be puzzled by the triggering event(s) that led to the occupation.

The reformist or populist government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas were committed to pursuing economic and social policies that opposed the unfettered neoliberal capitalist agenda of Canada, the United States, and France, international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the local Haitian elite.

In spite of the hostility to the developmental agenda of Aristide by local elite and certain Western states, and the channeling of development funds and economic aid through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) instead of the Haitian state, positive developments were made in the areas of education, healthcare, economic justice, infrastructure development, women’s rights, the status of children, and official recognition of the indigenous religion Voudou. The economic and social outcomes of the administrations of Fanmi Lavalas from 1994 to 2004 are captured in the booklet We Will Not Forget: The Achievements of Lavalas in Haiti.

However, the unholy alliance of Canada, France, and the United States met in Ottawa on January 31, 2003 and February 1, 2003 and resolved to engineer a regime change in Haiti. On February 29, 2004, a coup, facilitated by the George Bush regime in Washington and his allies, was effected against the democratically elected government. President Aristide has consistently claimed that he was kidnappedand forced into exile in the Central Afrikan Republic by armed personnel of the government of the United States.

Washington and its allies imposed an occupation force the Multinational Interim Force on Haiti, which was replaced by MINUSTAH in June 2004. MINUSTAH has played an active role in forcefully suppressing the resistance of the pro-Aristide and pro-Fanmi Lavalas majority. The occupation has brought suffering to the labouring classes in Haiti. MINUSTAH serves as a cover for the agenda of economic exploitation and political subjugation of the masses, and the geo-strategic and economic interests of the United States and its partners.

People of good conscience have no other option, but to build campaigns in their cities and towns to force the withdrawal of MINUSTAH from Haiti. MINUSTAH’s documented cases of abuse and wrongdoing against the people of Haiti provide the moral and political justification for an end to this occupation.

International solidarity, peace, and global justice organizations and movements need to undertake practical steps in their communities and countries to force an end to MINUSTAH’s military occupation. Below are some concrete actions that might be used in organizing campaigns against the occupation, and support the self-determination of the working-class and rural communities in Haiti.

  • Organize a broad-based group: If the convenors of the initial organizing meetings are interested in developing a broad-based anti-occupation/MINUSTAH campaign to educate and mobilize opinion in their city or town, the call for action should be directed at a wide range of progressive individuals and organizations that are interested in international solidarity, global justice, anti-war activism, Afrikan affairs, alternative development, and anti-imperialism. By casting their outreach net widely, they will be able to reach into the multiple constituencies that are present in the community.
  • Prepare workshop and lecture presentations and public education materials: In winning extensive support within the local community and across the country for the termination of the United Nations’ occupation of Haiti, the campaign will need to methodically carry out public education and awareness activities. The anti-occupation projects could prepare PowerPoint presentations and workshop curriculums on a range of topics such as “the Haitian Revolution and its Contribution to Freedom in the Americas,” “How France, the United States and the Colonial Powers Underdeveloped Post-revolutionary Haiti,” “The 411 on the Military Occupation of Haiti by MINUSTAH,” “The Nuts and Bolts of Building the Campaign to End the Occupation of Haiti,” “Why the West Fears the Haitian People’s Struggle for Self-determination,” “Practical People-to-People Solidarity Actions with Haiti’s Grassroots,” “Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Fanmi Lavalas and Social Reform in Haiti,” and “The Strategic Value of Haiti to the United States and its Allies.”

The development of prepared presentations would make it easier to communicate a consistent message to the public. It would also make it easier to train a large pool of organizers to become workshop facilitators and public speakers on the subject of the military occupation and other relevant topics on Haiti. The campaign will need to develop public educational materials in the form of fact sheets, brochures, pamphlets, and videos.

  • Diverse pool of facilitators or animators: The task of going out into the community and across the country to educate the people about MINUSTAH and the neoliberal capitalist agenda needs a lot people. Therefore, this international solidarity project should train and develop a diverse pool of facilitators or animators, and public speakers to educate, mobilize, and organize the people against the occupation and its conservative agenda. The people who do this educational work ought to reflect the demographic characteristics in the broader society. In communities where Haitians are present, the campaign should strive to have this section of the community as active participants in all levels of the campaign.
  • Target membership-based organizations: In order to build mass support within the community and across the country, give strong attention to speaking before membership-based groups such as trade unions, professional associations, faculty associations and unions, community-based organizations, religious groups, and student unions, students in high schools, colleges and universities. The aim of this tactic is to inspire members to include the campaign to end the occupation as a part of the organization’s ongoing organizational activities. Many member-based organizations, especially dues paying ones, have human and other resources to execute international solidarity or global justice work. These membership based organizations are potential financial and in-kind donors to the campaign.
  • Engender anti-occupation student clubs: The campaign should seek to work with global justice or international solidarity student organizers to form “End the Occupation of Haiti” student clubs on high school, college, and university campuses. Students were important allies in the fight against settler-colonialism/apartheid in Azania/South Afrika as they are now in the boycott, divestment and sanctions(BDS) movement against Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Students have the time, access to financial resources, and skills and knowledge that can be used to create public awareness and opposition to the occupation of Haiti.
  • Key thrust of the message: It should be emphasized in the campaign’s messaging that the forces that are opposed to the public provision of education, healthcare, and social services, government ownership of public utilities and other commercial enterprises, and a livable minimum wage in Haiti have a similar agenda in global North countries. The agents of the neoliberal capitalist project in Canada, the United States, and Europe lobby for  reduced government spending on post-secondary education,  tighter eligibility rules for unemployment benefits, private sector provision of childcare, lower taxes on profits, wealth, and higher income, and the general retreat of government from providing adequate social welfare programmes.

Drive home the message to the public that neoliberal capitalism in Haiti and the global North is contributing to social and economic hardship to the people who sell their labour to the captains of industry and commerce in exchange for wages, or are dependent on income security programmes. The labouring classes in Haiti and the global North are fighting “one enemy” as Cabral would have it. In the words of Brian Latour, “given the rise of neoliberal globalization at the hands of the forces of international capital – global capitalism requires a global response, and international solidarity is necessary for global resistance.”

  • Use of social media outlets: Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have emerged as significant communication instruments for the sharing of information with the public. The campaign should use social media to inform and educate, but most importantly the overarching goal ought to be focused on inspiring people to join the campaign or participate in or support its public activities or actions.
  • Constantly write about Haiti: The campaign ought to undertake measures to produce a steady stream of articles on Haiti that highlights the negative impact of the occupation, and the ways in which the current neoliberal capitalist social and economic policies are affecting the lives of Haitians. The campaign should make an effort to develop an in-house stable of writers as well as pitch story ideas to sympathetic writers who cover global justice, human writers, and international solidarity issues.
  • Host film series: Many people love to learn or acquire information visually by way of films or videos. The hosting of periodic film series on Haiti over a weekend or four consecutive Fridays or Saturdays would be a way to build awareness of the occupation, the Haitian Revolution, women’s labour and the sweatshops, the 1991 and 2004 coups against Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas, and the struggle of Haitians for self-determination. The screening of a film could be coupled with a panel discussion or a guest speaker so as to direct participants’ attention to what must be done to fight the occupation and the neoliberal capitalist agenda. A film series may be used to recruit new participants into the campaign, as well as raise funds to execute its activities.
  • Build awareness of UN’s cholera deaths: The campaign ought to highlight one of the most prominent cases of the negative impact of the occupation on the lives of Haitians. The United Nations has steadfastly refused to accept legal liability for the cholera tragedy. In October 2010, MINUSTAH’s soldiers dumped untreated sewage into the Artibonite River, and it led to the introduction of cholera in Haiti. To date, there are over 9,000 deaths and over 750,000 cases of infection. This MINUSTAH disaster may be used to rally support for the class action lawsuit levied against the UN by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. The refusal of the UN to accept responsibility for the cholera outbreak could serve as an indictment of the occupation.
  • Target and recruit opinion leaders: The campaign should strive to win the support of individuals and organizations that have the capacity to influence public opinion to endorse the call for the withdrawal of the occupation force. This course of action by opinion makers and thought leaders might lead to people gaining awareness of MINUSTAH, embracing an anti-occupation outlook, or inspiring active involvement in the campaign. The value of opinion makers to a cause may be gleaned from the response to critiques by public notables and celebrities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu’s public characterization of the oppression of Palestinians as being similar to that imposed on Afrikans under apartheid in South Afrika might have positively influenced or changed minds on the Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination.
  • Develop media watch capacity: In order to maintain a vigilance on how the occupation and news out of Haiti are being framed in the mainstream media, a “Haiti Media Watch” function ought to be developed within the campaign. The committee would develop the ability to swiftly and accurately respond to stories in newspapers, on television and radio, as well as on social media outlets. It is critically important to link news coming out of Haiti to the United States and its allies’ desire to impose the neoliberal capitalist agenda on Haitians, and the demand for the withdrawal of MINUSTAH.
  • Organize speaking tours: It is necessary to organize speaking tours on the occupation and the neoliberal capitalist agenda in Haiti. The facilitators and speakers involved in the campaign would be the main people called upon to speak to organizations or do workshops. The campaign may also put together speaking tours with speakers directly from Haiti to educate and raise the awareness of the situation inside the country. Religious groups, faculty associations or unions, student organizations, and trade unions are ideal candidates to cosponsor speaking tours with international speakers from Haiti or Haitian activists who are in exile.
  • Mobilize through protest actions: The anti-occupation organizing group may use important anniversaries connected to the coups of 1991 and 2004, significant moments in Haitian history, and dates that are relevant to the occupation to organize marches, demonstrations, rallies, and teach-ins. Public protest actions are ways to demonstrate the level of community or public support for the withdrawal of MINUSTAH’s occupation force.
  • Picket officials from MINUSTAH contributing states: Officials from states that contribute military or police personnel to MINUSTAH should be picketed when they visit countries with anti-occupation campaigns. It is fundamentally necessary for these states to know that people of good conscience are demanding the withdrawal of their contingent of troops or police. It is also a way to inform or remind the public that a military occupation is in effect against a people who would love to freely and democratically elect the party of their choice.
  • Phone-in and fax-in protest: Coordinated protest action in the form of phone-in or fax-in may be used against consulates and embassies of states that are participating in the occupation. This type of protest is aimed at reinforcing the call for an end to the occupation, and disrupting the operation of the consulates and embassies. It could be done in tandem with informational leafleting or picketing at the respective locations of these official bodies of states that enable MINUSTAH’s occupation.
  • Force Haiti onto the legislative radar: Since the contributing MINUSTAH states would need to make a political decision about withdrawing from the occupation, it is essential to generate massive public pressure on the political directorate to do so. The public should be mobilized to write letters and make calls to the members of the national legislature, especially those representing their respective electoral districts, ridings or constituencies. It is better to encourage people to send personally scripted messages as opposed to signing and sending a form letter. The former will get a greater of degree of attention and response from the legislators. It would be helpful to provide talking points or fact sheets from which letter writers or people making phone calls may craft their personal messages demanding the termination of the occupation of Haiti.
  • Participate in international delegations: The organizing of fact-finding international delegations to Haiti is a way to encourage active participation of some visiting organizations or delegates to the anti-occupation campaign at home.  International delegations also demonstrate to Haitian grassroots organizations that there is support for their struggle for self-determination. Returning delegates may be empowered and motivated to hit the speaking circuit by way of speaking tours and media interviews. The returning delegates ought to be encouraged to write articles that highlight their observations, insights, learnings, and experiences of the occupation, and the state of political, social and economic events inside the country.
  • Material and moral support to Haitian organizations: The anti-occupation campaign should encourage the development of people-to-people relations between organizations and movements in Haiti and their counterparts in Canada, the United States and other countries. While the principal or primary solidarity expected from organizations in the global North is domestically fighting imperialism’s ability to imposed its will on Haiti and other countries, “secondary forms of solidarity” as articulated by Cabral, are needed.

The provision of material support to organizations representing women, youth, workers, farmers, and other groups from the popular sectors would expand their capacity and capability to fight for an alternative development agenda. When MINUSTAH is forced out of Haiti, the organizations of the people will still be faced with the task of charting a development path that will likely be opposed by the United States and its allies.

  • Create social expression products to raise money: Financial resources are needed to carry out the campaign’s public education work. Therefore, money may be raised through the development of social expression products such a T-shirts, mugs, buttons, refrigerator magnets, and stickers that would be sold to the public. Membership-based organizations could become a main outlet for moving these products. These goods would promote the message of the campaign, and they are ideal items because of their functional nature.
  • Make links with other anti-occupation campaigns: The struggle to rid Haiti of MINUSTAH should strive to become a worldwide movement. After all, the troops and police personnel are represented by states from across the world (for example, Russia, China, Spain, Jamaica, Nigeria, France, Pakistan, Cameroon, Brazil, Chile, Turkey, Egypt, Canada, and the United States). In developing ties among the global forces fighting the occupation, the campaigns would benefit from sharing information, strategy, tactics and other resources, and the coordination of their actions. In the Americas, the Haití NO Minustah is encouraging a region-wide opposition to the occupation of Haiti, and many groups across Central America, South America, and the Caribbean have signed on to the campaign.

It is not the mere words or beliefs that define an activist’s commitment to international solidarity or global justice. The anti-imperialist sentiments of a person of good conscience ought to be measured by her or his actions against oppressive condition such as MINUSTAH’s occupation of Haiti, which is preparing the fertile soil for an entrenched neoliberal capitalist development path.  Hopefully, the proposed actions above might inspire you to become a participant in a campaign to bring MINUSTAH’s occupation to an end, or contribute to the work of anti-occupation organizations.

Ajamu Nangwaya, Ph.D., is an educator. He is an organizer with the Campaign to End the Occupation of Haiti.

“Peak Gold”: Physical Gold vs. Paper Gold

October 23rd, 2014 by Lars Schall

On behalf of Matterhorn Asset Management, financial journalist Lars Schall talked with exploration geologist and mining entrepreneur Dr. Keith Barron.

Keith is a scientist and he explains in no uncertain terms what is going on in the mining industry, the false accounting relative to the cost of exploration, what happened when gold went up to 1,900, why gold versus USD simply must go to at least 5,000, why ‘gold above ground’, if anything, is overstated and why the Swiss GoldInitiative is indeed very important and not just for the Swiss People, as well as Keith Barron’s view on Silver.

This is clearly one of the best interviews on the subject of gold mining and a must listen for all Gold investors or anyone interested in gold, silver and mining

Peak gold is the term used for a date in history after which gold production will enter a period of decline, because extraction capacity is diminishing.

Keith Barron is an exploration geologist with 30 years experience in the mining sector. He has consulted on all the continents except for Antarctica, searching for such commodities as gold, silver, diamonds, uranium, copper, platinum, and industrial minerals. He holds a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Western Ontario and a BSc. (Hons) in Geology from the University of Toronto.

In 2001 he privately co-founded Ecuador gold explorer Aurelian Resources Inc., which was listed on the TSX-V in 2003 and made the colossal Fruta del Norte gold discovery in 2006. The company was bought by Kinross Gold in 2008 for $1.2 billion. He is the founder and a Director of Guyana uranium explorer U3O8 Corp. At the PDAC convention in March 2008 he was awarded the Thayer Lindsley International Discovery Award for his role in the discovery of the Fruta del Norte gold deposit and he was also jointly named the Northern Miner’s Mining Man of the Year 2008. Dr. Barron continues his activities through Aurania Resources Ltd. in the search for worldwide gold, silver and uranium mining and exploration opportunities.