The Privatization of Nuclear War

June 25th, 2015 by James Corbett

With tensions growing in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, a new generation of nuclear weapons technology is making nuclear warfare a very real prospect. And with very little fanfare, the US is embarking on the privatization of nuclear war under a first-strike doctrine.

“On August 6, 2003, on Hiroshima Day, commemorating when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima (August 6 1945), a secret meeting was held behind closed doors at Strategic Command Headquarters at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Senior executives from the nuclear industry and the military industrial complex were in attendance. This mingling of defense contractors, scientists and policy-makers was not intended to commemorate Hiroshima. The meeting was intended to set the stage for the development of a new generation of “smaller”, “safer” and “more usable” nuclear weapons, to be used in the “in-theater nuclear wars” of the 21st Century. 

“Nuclear war has become a multibillion dollar undertaking, which fills the pockets of US defense contractors. What is at stake is the outright “privatization of nuclear war”.

 

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US-NATO weapons of mass destruction are portrayed as instruments of peace. Mini-nukes are said to be “harmless to the surrounding civilian population”. Pre-emptive nuclear war is portrayed as a “humanitarian undertaking”. 

US nuclear doctrine is intimately related to “America’s War on Terrorism” and the alleged threat of Al Qaeda, which in a bitter irony is con- sidered as an upcoming nuclear power.

Under the Obama administration, Islamic terrorists are said to be preparing to attack US cities. Proliferation is tacitly equated with “nuclear terrorism”. Obama’s nuclear doctrine puts particular emphasis on “nuclear terrorism” and on the alleged plans by Al Qaeda to develop and use nuclear weapons. 

While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality. The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.”  

(Excerpts from Michel Chossudovsky, Towards a World War III Scenario, The Dangers of Nuclear War, Global Research Montreal, 2011\

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Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War
Michel Chossudovsky

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was first published April 2, 2013.

One of the least discussed and least reported issues is the Obama administration’s effort to bring the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to the forefront, an oppressive plurilateral US-led free trade agreement currently being negotiated with several Pacific Rim countries.

Six hundred US corporate advisors have negotiated and had input into the TPP, and the proposed draft text has not been made available to the public, the press or policymakers. The level of secrecy surrounding the agreements is unparalleled – paramilitary teams scatter outside the premise of each round of discussions while helicopters loom overhead – media outlets impose a near-total blackout of reportage on the subject and US Senator Ron Wyden, the Chair of the Congressional Committee with jurisdiction over TPP, was denied access to the negotiation texts. “The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations — like Halliburton, Chevron, PhaRMA, Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America — are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement,” said Wyden, in a floor statement to Congress.

In addition to the United States, the countries participating in the negotiations include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Japan has expressed its desire to become a negotiating partner, but not yet joined negotiation, partly due to public pressure to steer-clear. The TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented rights to demand taxpayer compensation for policies they think will undermine their expected future profits straight from the treasuries of participating nations – it would push the agenda of Big PhaRMA in the developing world to impose longer monopoly controls on drugs, drastically limiting access to affordable generic medications that people depend on. The TPP would undermine food safety by limiting labeling and forcing countries like the United States to import food that fails to meet its national safety standards, in addition to banning Buy America or Buy Local preferences.

According to leaked draft texts, the TPP would also impose investor protections that incentivize offshoring jobs through special benefits for companies – the TPP stifles innovation by requiring internet service providers to police user-activity and treat small-scale individual downloads as large-scale for-profit violators. Most predictably, it would rollback regulation of finance capital predators on Wall Street by prohibiting bans on risky financial services and preventing signatory nations from exercising the ability to independently pursue monetary policy and issue capital controls – signatories must permit the free flow of derivatives, currency speculation and other manipulative financial instruments. The US-led partnership – which seeks to impose ‘Shock and Awe’ Globalization – aims to abolish the accountability of multinational corporations to the governments of countries with which they trade by making signatory governments accountable to corporations for costs imposed by national laws and regulations, including health, safety and environmental regulations.

The proposed legislation on Intellectual Property will have enormous ramifications for TPP signatories, including Internet termination for households, businesses, and organizations as an accepted penalty for copyright infringement. Signatory nations would essentially submit themselves to oppressive IP restrictions designed by Hollywood’s copyright cartels, severely limiting their ability to digitally exchange information on sites like YouTube, where streaming videos are considered copyrightable. “Broader copyright and intellectual property rights demands by the US would lock up the Internet, stifle research and increase education costs, by extending existing generous copyright from 70 years to 120 years, and even making it a criminal offense to temporarily store files on a computer without authorization. The US, as a net exporter of digital information, would be the only party to benefit from this,” said Patricia Ranald, convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network.

In the private investor-state that the TPP is attempting to establish, foreign corporations can sue national governments, submitting signatory countries to the jurisdiction of investor arbitral tribunals, staffed by private sector attorneys. International tribunals could have authority to order governments to pay unlimited cash compensation out of national treasuries to foreign corporations and investors if new or existing government policy hinders investors’ expected future profits. The domestic taxpayer in each signatory country must shoulder any compensation paid to private investors and foreign corporations, in addition to large hourly fees for tribunals and legal costs. A good example of how this agreement neuters national sovereignty comes from Malaysia, which was able to recover from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis more quickly than its neighbors by introducing a series of capital control measures on the Malaysian ringgit to prevent external speculation – the TPP’s proposed measures would restrict signatory nations from exercising capital controls to prevent and mitigate financial crises and promote financial stability.

The TPP regime ensures that foreign investors and multinational corporations retain full rights to undermine the sovereignty of participatory nations by skirting domestic regulations and limiting the abilities of national governments to issue independent economic policy. There has never been such a sweeping corporate assault on sovereignty, and that includes US sovereignty. Leaked TPP documents detail how the Obama administration intends to surrender US sovereignty to international tribunals that operate under World Bank and UN rules to settle disputes arising under the TPP, specifically designed to leave Congress out in the cold while creating a judicial authority higher than the US Supreme Court. In theory, the TPP would give international judicial entities the authority to override US laws, allowing foreign companies doing business in the United States the privilege of operating in a legal environment that would give them significant economic advantages over American companies that remain tied to US laws, placing domestic companies who do not move offshore at a competitive disadvantage.

Facing the emergence of strong developing economies like the BRICS group and other nations that seek greater access to industrial growth and development, the Obama administration realizes that it must offer Pacific nations – who would otherwise have greater incentives in deepening economic ties with China – an attractive stake in the US economy. As the Pentagon repositions its military muscle to the Asia-Pacific region, the TPP is clearly the economic arm of the ‘Asia Pivot’ policy, roping strategic economies into a legally binding corporate-governance regime, lured in by the promise of unfettered access to US markets. The Obama administration is essentially prostituting the American consumer to foreign corporations to usher in a deal that would impose one-size-fits all international rules that even limit the US government’s right to regulate foreign investment and the appropriation of natural resources, solidifying a long-discussed model of finance capital-backed global governance.

Of the 26 chapters of the proposed TPP draft text, it is reported that only two chapters cover trade issues, related to slashing tariffs and lifting quotas. The TPP would obligate the federal government to force US states to conform state laws to over a thousand pages of detailed stipulations and constraints unrelated to trade – from land use to intellectual property rights – authorizing the federal authorities to use all possible means to coax states to comply with TPP rules, even by imposing sanctions if they fail to do so. According to leaked documents, US standards for property rights protection would be swept away in favor of international property rights standards, as interpreted by TPP’s unelected international tribunals, giving investors principal control over public land and resources “that are not for the exclusive or predominant use and benefit of the government.”

Due to the unconstitutional nature of the TPP, members of Congress would likely object to many of its stipulations – naturally, the Obama administration is employing its executive muscle to restrict congressional authority by operating under “fast-track authority,” a trade provision that requires Congress to review an FTA under limited debate in an accelerated time frame subject to a yes-or-no vote so as to assure foreign partners that the FTA, once signed, will not be changed during the legislative process. No formal steps have been taken to consult Congress as the agreement continues to be negotiated, and Obama looks set to subtly ram the treaty into law. Such is the toxic nature of US policies that seek to bring in disaster-capitalism on a global scale, while keeping those whose lives will be most affected by deal completely in the dark. The message behind this unfettered corporate smash and grab is simple – bend over!

Recent statistics claim that the combined economic output of Brazil, China and India will surpass that of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States by 2020. More than 80% of the world’s middle class will live in the South by 2030, and what a different world that would be. The United States is economically ailing, and the TPP – Wall Street’s wet dream and Washington’s answer to its own dwindling economic performance – is designed to allow US big business a greater stake in the emerging Pacific region by imposing an exploitative economic model on signatory nations that exempt multinationals and private investors from any form of public accountability. The TPP’s origins go back to the second Bush administration, and it still remains in the negotiating phases under Obama’s second administration. The overwhelming lack of transparency surrounding the talks lends credence to what is known already – that the contents of this trade agreement serve the interests of those on the top of the economic food chain while the rest of us stagnate on the menu.

Nile Bowie is a blogger and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at [email protected] 

U.S. Pushes Russia Towards War

June 25th, 2015 by Margaret Kimberley

The lies that the U.S. corporate media tell can get us all killed. The United States is pushing Russia, which remains a nuclear superpower, to the brink and beyond – yet Americans are wholly ignorant of the facts and the issues at play. “In 2015 the signs are ominous that something terrible may happen because of an incident in Transnistria or Donetsk or some other locale Americans know nothing about.”

The United States has intervened in too many countries without paying a high enough price.”

This columnist recently said that “Russia Wins” in its handling of America’s attempt to eviscerate its influence and its economy. At the time those words were written Secretary of State John Kerry met with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia. The meeting appeared to be an admission that the imperial power grab was not working out as Washington hoped. Among other things, Kerry was concerned that the Ukrainian tail was starting to wag the American dog.

In a public statement he warned Ukrainian president Poroshenko, who threatened to retake Crimea and the Donbass. “We would strongly urge him to think twice not to engage in that kind of activity, that that would put Minsk [accords] in serious jeopardy. And we would be very, very concerned about what the consequences of that kind of action at this time may be.” Barack Obama promptly tossed Kerry under the bus upon his return home.

Kerry’s subordinate Victoria Nuland and the United Nations ambassador Samantha Power repeated the very words that Kerry warned against and contradicted everything he said. Power went to Kiev to sing the praises of the Ukrainians in person. She didn’t have to mention Kerry by name, her presence alone said that he and any talk of diplomacy were on the outs. Of course the meeting between Kerry and Putin had to have been approved by president Obama, but just one month later it appears to have been a figment of the world’s imagination.

Russia has every right to arm its own territory.”

In the battle to stay on top of the world and remain in control of it, Washington inevitably lurches back and forth in its policy decision making. Now they and their scribes in corporate media have settled back into comfortable territory, simultaneously vilifying the Russian government and endlessly repeating anti-Russian propaganda.

A recent New York Times editorial with the grandiose title, “The Fantasy Mr. Putin is Selling,” claimed that president Putin has a “willingness to brandish nuclear weapons.” There was no mention of America’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in 2002. Not content to tell one lie theTimes then criticized Putin for “aggressive behavior, including pouring troops and weapons into Kaliningrad, a Russian city located between NATO members Lithuania and Poland.” Of course, Russia has every right to arm its own territory. TheTimes also neglected to mention that the American military are positioning weapons and holding training exercises in Ukraine, Poland, Romania and the Baltic states that border Russia. It seems that those provocations are not deemed worthy of mention.

The New York Times and its counterparts always play this role. They cozy up to president Obama as they have with all his predecessors and support any and all of their mischief. Far from being a voice of information for the public, they do the bidding of the powerful and are accessories to their crimes.

Antagonizing Russia is riskier than paying jihadists to take over Libya.”

The Obama administration is in the process of killing the Minsk accords which were shepherded by France and Germany. This is the only process which can defang the beast, and that is why it is being sabotaged. The United States has intervened in too many countries without paying a high enough price. It is like a serial criminal who remains at large and thus thinks of himself as invincible. This county is responsible for carnage in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria and that is the list of victims only since 2001.

One has to ask where and when the straw will break the camel’s back. American military power has allowed it to run rough shod over humanity, but antagonizing Russia is riskier than paying jihadists to take over Libya.

Not only does the United States have the most and the biggest guns but it has the corporate media at its disposal, parroting every word as if they were gospel truth. Americans who think of themselves as well informed will be in for a shock if Moldova turns out to be the flash point for open warfare that was instigated by their government.

Russia will never be beholden to America.”

Everyone knows that an assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 pushed the world into war. In 2015 the signs are ominous that something terrible may happen because of an incident in Transnistria or Donetsk or some other locale Americans know nothing about.

The process of marginalizing Russia began as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed. While the Warsaw Pact disbanded, NATO grew at Russia’s expense. But Russia will never be beholden to America. There is no puppet they can place in the Kremlin. These fantasies have put the world on the brink.

Obama and his friends in NATO may not want to start a war but they may get one all the same. Of course the president is concerned about his legacy. He ought to be. If he continues as he has done since 2009, his legacy may be that he was head inmate in the asylum when the last war began.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels Wednesday and Thursday agreed to the enlargement of the organization’s Response Force to 40,000 troops from the current level of 13,000. On Tuesday, ahead of the meeting, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the positioning of hundreds of American tanks, military vehicles and heavy artillery pieces in the Baltic States as well as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

This buildup of troops and military equipment is part of a long-term reorientation of NATO directed against Russia. There is only one conclusion the Kremlin can draw from such threatening and aggressive measures: Washington and its European allies are preparing to go to war against Russia. Moscow is undoubtedly preparing accordingly.

Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak spelled out the implications of the US-NATO policy at the conclusion of NATO war games in Poland last week, declaring: “The peaceful period after the Second World War is over. We cannot defend our European way of life if we don’t do more for our defense.”

The international working class should take this statement as a dire warning. If the post-World War II period of peace is over, the build-up to World War III has begun.

At the opening of the Brussels meeting on Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg disingenuously declared that NATO was not seeking “confrontation,” adding that “we do not want a new arms race.” He claimed the expanding deployment of NATO forces in Eastern Europe was purely a defensive response to Russian “aggression” in Ukraine.

“We are carefully assessing the implications of what Russia is doing,” he said, “including its nuclear activities.”

Stoltenberg called on alliance members to meet pledges made at the NATO summit in Wales last September to increase their defense budgets to two percent of gross domestic product (GDP). NATO released figures Monday indicating that the majority of member states are falling far short of the two percent threshold. The report stated that overall defense spending by NATO will fall by 1.5 percent in 2015 to $893 billion. The United States, Poland, Estonia, Great Britain and Greece are the only countries in the alliance that will meet the two percent goal.

The expansion of the Response Force is one of numerous initiatives agreed to at the Brussels meeting. The defense ministers finalized plans to establish six new NATO command centers, to be located in Lativa, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

According to Stoltenberg, the new centers, each initially staffed by 40 people, will facilitate strategic planning, military exercises and the deployment of the newly formed 5,000-strong Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). This rapid deployment force will be tasked with mobilizing against Russia within days, once it is called upon to do so.

On Monday, US Defense Secretary Carter announced that Washington would contribute bombers, fighter jets, surveillance drones, Special Operations troops and other military resources to the VJTF.

The defense ministers also agreed to grant the supreme allied commander of NATO forces in Europe, US General Phillip Breedlove, authority to deploy troops on much shorter notice in order to facilitate the operations of the VJTF.

The Brussels meeting highlighted the mounting danger of the conflict with Russia escalating into a nuclear war. The assembled ministers held sideline discussions over NATO’s nuclear strategy in light of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recently announced plan to add 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to the country’s stockpile and US accusations that Moscow has violated the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

The Guardian quoted an anonymous official as warning that Russia’s statements had lowered “the threshold when it comes to nuclear weapons.” The official added that NATO was “closely examining it carefully as part of the overall examination of Russia’s activities in Europe and how we at least in NATO must unfortunately react.”

A meeting of NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group is expected to take place later this year. According the Guardian, among the issues to be discussed is an “enhanced role for nuclear weapons in NATO military exercises.”

US Ambassador to NATO Doug Lute told reporters, “There is a general assessment under way in Washington, and a parallel assessment here in NATO, to look at all the possible implications of what Russia says about its nuclear weapons… and what we actually see on the ground in terms of development and deployment.”

In testimony earlier this month, Robert Scher, the US assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, Defense Secretary Carter’s key nuclear policy aide, told Congress that the Pentagon was considering a variety of options for responding to alleged violations of the INF treaty, including preemptive missile strikes against Russia.

Speaking of recent statements from Moscow, Ivo Daalder, former US ambassador to NATO, said, “It should scare people. Now we are in a situation where it’s not inconceivable that there might be a military confrontation, and this kind of bluster contributes to the possibility of miscalculation.”

Lukasz Kulesa, research director for the European Leadership Network, told the Wall Street Journal that NATO should rein in its public rhetoric, but escalate behind-the-scenes maneuvers such as flying nuclear-capable B-52s over the Baltic states.

“This is a way to signal back to Russia that the United States is also capable of delivering a nuclear blow,” Kulesa said.

Last week, as part of the annual Sabre Strike military exercises, a US B-52 was flown over Latvia for the first time. It dropped dummy bombs in an air strike called in by Latvian soldiers. The strike was carried out in Adazi, less than 200 miles from the Russian border.

US paratroopers taking part in the Sabre Strike exercises practiced seizing airfields in Lithuania and Poland.

The economic recession that began with the collapse of the housing market in 2007 officially came to an end in June 2009—more than six years ago. But by most indications, American households are significantly worse off than they were at the depth of the downturn. Despite the drop in the official unemployment rate, household incomes have fallen, wages have stagnated and student loan debt has soared.

study by Harvard University’s Joint Center For Housing Studies released on Wednesday points to another sign of the widespread economic distress affecting broad sections of the US population: the persistent fall in the share of households who are able to achieve the “American Dream” of homeownership.

According to “The State of the Nation’s Housing 2015,” the share of American households who owned their own home fell to 64.5 percent last year, the lowest level in two decades, based US Census data. This was down from a homeownership rate of over 69 percent in 2004, and was unchanged from the homeownership rate in 1985, three decades ago.

The fall in homeownership was prevalent in all age groups, but younger households were among the most affected. The ownership rate for 35-44 year-olds was down 5.4 percentage points from 1993, and has hit a level not seen since the 1960s. Only slightly more than one-third of households headed by those aged 25-35 owned their own homes.

The report attributed the continuous decline in homeownership to falling incomes, persistent long-term unemployment and a significant tightening of credit.

As the report notes, “Despite steady job growth since 2010 and a drop in unemployment to less than 6 percent, the labor market recovery has yet to generate meaningful income gains. At last measure in 2013, median household income was $51,900—still 8 percent below the 2007 level in real terms and equivalent to 1995 levels.”

In fact, the “steady job growth” is largely fictional, with the official drop in unemployment due mainly to the departure of hundreds of thousands of people from the labor force. This is itself a significant factor in the persistence of low wages and the decline in household income.

Even as household incomes have been eroded, banks have severely tightened credit, particularly to those households who need it most. One survey covering the period between 2001 and 2013 found a 37 percent drop in home loans issued to borrowers with poor credit scores, compared with a 9 percent decrease among borrowers with higher scores.

Lenders’ current tight-fisted lending practices are the polar opposite of their policies in the run-up to the 2008 financial crash. Between 2000 and 2008, Wall Street banks made billions of dollars suckering families into taking on mortgages for homes they could not afford, then selling off the worthless mortgages in the form of mortgage-backed securities. When this Ponzi scheme collapsed, the federal government handed the banks hundreds of billions in bailout funds.

For working families, there was no bailout, and after more than 10 million foreclosures, about 13 percent of homes remain “underwater,” with owners paying mortgages for more than their homes are presently worth.

The growing inability of families to afford their own homes had led to soaring demand for rental properties, and a corresponding increase in prices. Last year, rents rose at twice the pace of overall inflation.

This has led to a growing share of households who expend a large portion of their monthly incomes simply on paying rent. The report noted that over the past 10 years, the share of young renters who spent one-third or more of their incomes on housing increased from 40 percent to 46 percent, while those paying more than half of their incomes on housing rose from 19 percent to 23 percent.

Growing housing costs add to the litany of other financial pressures facing younger households. The report notes, “The share of renters aged 25–34 with student loan debt jumped from 30 percent in 2004 to 41 percent in 2013, with the average amount of debt up 50 percent, to $30,700.”

“Much to their detriment, cost-burdened households are forced to cut back on food, health care, and other critical expenses,” notes the Harvard report. “Affordable housing thus means a dramatic improvement in quality of life for households able to obtain it, but federal assistance lags far behind need.”

This is, to put it mildly, a significant understatement. Even as the need for housing assistance has soared, housing assistance funding has been slashed at every level of government. Hundreds of thousands of families have lost federal housing assistance as a result of the “sequester” budget cuts that began in 2013, while cities throughout the country have cut back on housing programs.

Last month New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio—promoted as a “progressive” Democrat—announced a plan to jack up fees for low-income residents in the city’s public housing projects, while moving to sell off sections of public housing to private developers.

Meanwhile, at the top of society, there is money to burn. The Wall Street Journal noted in a report published Wednesday that CEOs at top US corporations saw their median pay increase by 13.5 percent this year, to an average of about $13.6 million. Billionaire shareholders did even better, with the values of their shares, combined with dividend payments, appreciating 16.6 percent over the past year.

Amid historically low rates of homeownership, particularly among lower-income buyers, homebuilders are adjusting to a market in which buyers are increasingly wealthy. The median size of a new single-family home has increased by 12 percent between 2009 and 2013, while the median size of multi-family homes intended for the rental market shrank.

Real estate companies are scrambling to build extravagant housing for the super-rich. In New York City, developers have been hard at work constructing “vertical mansions” in the areas surrounding Central Park.

One of these buildings, 520 Park Ave, features 31 apartments sprawling to at least 4,600 square feet and listing at $27 million or more. A penthouse in the building is currently selling for $130 million, while at nearby 220 Central Park South, one Qatari billionaire is combining several apartments into a $250 million “mega-penthouse.”

The oligarchs who inhabit these buildings, located in a section of Manhattan known as “billionaires’ row,” are each likely to own several more similarly-priced properties. As one recent report noted, “The average billionaire owns four homes, with each one worth nearly US$20 million….dotted around the globe.”

After six years of the Obama “recovery” it is clear that there has been no improvement in the living conditions of the great majority of the US population. The so-called recovery has been for the corporate and financial aristocracy, whose wealth has soared amid a surging stock market fueled by virtually unlimited free money from the US Federal Reserve.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established to prosecute culpable individuals for crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.

Its mandate calls for “end(ing) impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern.”

US and Israeli officials are guilty of the highest of high crimes. Yet none of their officials ever were held accountable – not by their own courts or the ICC.

The international body operates on the principle of complementarity. It can only prosecute when governments won’t or can’t – even against officials of non ICC-member countries like America and Israel.

On December 31, 2000, Bill Clinton signed the Rome Statute of the ICC. Over 130 other countries are members. Clinton lied saying “(t)he US has a long history of commitment to the principle of accountability…and for bringing to justice perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.”

America commits these crimes and others against one country after another, as well as persecuting its own most disadvantaged people in violation of international and constitutional laws.

It partners with the high crimes of key allies like Israel. When Bush succeeded Clinton, his Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton stripped off the mask of US accountability by unsigning the Rome Statute – an unprecedented political act.

More followed, including enactment of the American Service-Members Protection Act (the so-called Hague Invasion Act).

It prohibits providing funds to the ICC and authorized the president to use “all necessary measures (including force) to protect United States military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the United States government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not party.”

At the same time, over 100 other nations were pressured to sign Bilateral Immunity Agreements assuring they’d never surrender a US official or soldier to the ICC.

The court functions as an imperial tool. It targets officials of Western designated states like Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir, former Libya leader Muammar and his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Or special Western tribunals are established to accomplish the same thing – against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milosevic, and Liberia’s Charles Taylor among others.

The principle of universal jurisdiction (UJ) holds that certain crimes are too grave to ignore – including genocide, crimes of war and against humanity.

Under UJ, nations nations may investigate and prosecute foreign nationals when their country of residence or origin won’t, can’t or hasn’t for any reason.

Israel used it to prosecute, convict and execute Adolph Eichmann. A US court sentenced Charles Taylor’s son, Chuckie, to 97 years in prison.

Britain used a Spanish court provisional warrant to apprehend Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, hold him under house arrest for 18 months, and set a precedent, making other heads of state and top officials potentially vulnerable.

Pinochet’s bogus ill health claim sent him home – damaged, disgraced but unaccountable. No one deserve impunity for high crimes demanding accountability. Article 7 of the Charter of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal states:

“The official position of defendants, whether as Head of State or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.”

Following through is another matter entirely – never against Western or Israeli officials so don’t expect justice now.

On April 1, Palestine joined the ICC. Months earlier, a court prosecutor began a preliminary investigation of violations “in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem since June 13, 2014″ – focusing on Israel’s 2014 summer Gaza war (Operation Protective Edge).

It’s strictly procedural with no commitment for further action. Palestine intends filing crimes of war and against humanity charges against Israel at the ICC on or about June 25 - over last summer’s Gaza war and illegal settlements.

ICC investigators are working to determine if Israeli crimes were committed warranting prosecution. A court statement said:

“As part of its preliminary examination activities, the Office of the Prosecutor conducts field visits as it has done in the past with other situations under preliminary examinations.”

“From the outset, the prosecutor has consistently made clear that the situation in Palestine will not be treated any differently from the others.”

“Therefore, the office as per normal practice, is considering a visit to the region during the course of its preliminary examination. Contrary to media reports, no date has been confirmed and further planning is required.”

UN Security Council members can delay ICC action up to two years. Russia and China indicated they’ll veto efforts to do so.

The Monday released UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) report and earlier independent investigations clearly proved grave Israeli high crimes against peace during last summer’s Gaza war.

It bears repeating. The ICC is a notorious imperial tool. Expect Palestinians denied justice like always. Expect no Israeli officials convicted of high crimes they committed demanding accountability.

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

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PMCentral time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

During the meeting of the Normandy group in Paris, Russia’s Foreign Ministry noticed how the microphones were operating “strangely”, turning on and off by themselves; the blinking lights caused the diplomats to joke that the US is probably up to its usual tricks again. One however should give it a thought in light of WikiLeaks recent revelations.

“I was watching for three hours yesterday how the microphones of those taking part in the Normandy four meeting spontaneously turned either on or off,” Maria Zakharova, Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote on her page in Facebook.

“The diplomats joked that the US was up to its tricks once again, though they were meeting in Paris, not in Berlin; the US however might also have all the necessary equipment at hand in Paris.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius joined in with the laughter, Zakharova noted, as the incident took place before the whistleblower group WikiLeaks released top-secret documents claiming that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has spied on three French presidents and their administrations over the past 10 years.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also confirmed that all the microphones were going on and off on their own during the meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany as they tried Tuesday to revive high-end diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Asked to comment on the WikiLeaks revelations, the minister said he had not seen the documents but wouldn’t be surprised if they turned out to be genuine.

Zakharova, however, noted that Washington only said that the communications of French President Francois Hollande are not now subject of US surveillance and conveniently remained silent on the monitoring of his two predecessors.

“As if to say sleep well, dear friend, no one’s troubling you yet,” she wrote. “Though I wouldn’t be surprised that, right after the “closed” emergency meeting called by President Hollande, Washington will refute its content.”

Espionnage Élysée

Espionnage Élysée

 

On Tuesday, WikiLeaks revealed top-secret documents claiming that the US National Security Agency wiretapped the conversations of French high-level officials including Presidents Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac. Among others, they monitored conversations concerning the international financial crisis, the Greek debt situation as well as the future of the European Union.

National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price later commented on the revelations noting that “they are not targeting and will not target the communications of President Hollande”, saying nothing of the other presidents named.

‘US Intercepts of France Complaining About US Intercepts of France’

The leaked documents on the WikiLeaks website however suggest a vast range of NSA eavesdropping. One of the documents, entitled “US Intercepts of France Complaining About US Intercepts of France” suggests that back in March 2010 then-French President Sarkozy was frustrated over “the US desire to continue spying on France” and intended to complain about the issue to the US President “when the two leaders meet in Washington on 31 March.”

US Intercepts of France Complaining About US Intercepts of France

US Intercepts of France Complaining About US Intercepts of France

It was previously revealed that the NSA had spied on Germany and that Germany’s own BND intelligence agency had cooperated with the NSA to spy on officials and companies elsewhere in Europe.

Google is one giant data and intelligence giant data and intelligence gathering operation. This latest browser revelation (see full story below) only confirms what we already suspected. 

As a private tech start-up, Google was partly seed-funded by both the NSA and CIA, and has since been completely co-opted by US intelligence to retain what technocrats and spy chiefs in Washington DC refer to as ‘information superiority.’

Salon reported on just one of the Google-NSA covert joint ventures, “Turbine and Turmoil”:

It’s not clear what the NSA and Google built after the China hack. But a spokeswoman at the agency gave hints at the time the agreement was written. “As a general matter, as part of its information-assurance mission, NSA works with a broad range of commercial partners and research associates to ensure the availability of secure tailored solutions for Department of Defense and national security systems customers,” she said. 

According to officials who were privy to the details of Google’s arrangements with the NSA, the company agreed to provide information about traffic on its networks in exchange for intelligence from the NSA about what it knew of foreign hackers. It was a quid pro quo, information for information.

“For Turbine and Turmoil to work, the NSA needs information, particularly about the data flowing over a network. With its millions of customers around the world, Google is effectively a directory of people using the Internet. It has their e-mail addresses. It knows where they’re physically located when they log in. It knows what they search for on the web. The government could command the company to turn over that information, and it does as part of the NSA’s Prism program, which Google had been participating in for a year by the time it signed the cooperative agreement with the NSA. But that tool is used for investigating people whom the government suspects of terrorism or espionage.”

According to RT.com in an article entitled: Not OK, Google! Covert installations of ‘eavesdropping tool’ raise alarm,

Open source developers and privacy campaigners are raising concerns over the automatic installation of a shady “eavesdropping tool” designed to enable ‘OK Google’ functionality but potentially capable of snooping on any conversation near the computer.

When one installs an open source Chromium browser, as it turns out, it “downloads something” followed by a status report that says “Microphone: Yes” and “Audio Capture Allowed: Yes,” according to an article by Rick Falkvinge, Swedish Pirate Party founder, published on the website Privacy Online News.

While the Chromium, the open source basis for Google’s browser, at least shows the code and allows user to notice it and turn it off, the same installation is included by default in the most popular browser Chrome, used by over 300 million people.

The code was designed to enable the new “OK, Google” hot word detection, which lets the computer do things like search or create reminders in response to human voice. Yet, some users are worried that the service could be activated without their permission, eventually sending recorded data to Google.

The worried users describe the Chrome Hotword Shared Module as an audio-snooping “black box”, with only the corporation that provided it fully aware of what the injected pre-compiled code is capable of.

“Without consent, Google’s code had downloaded a black box of code that – according to itself – had turned on the microphone and was actively listening to your room,” wrote Falkvinge.

This important article first published by GR in August 2004 brings  to the forefront the role of Psychotronic weapons as an instrument of modern warfare.

It should be understood, that Electromagnetic and Informational Weapons are fully operational and could be used by US-NATO in their ongoing wars in the Middle East. 

In October 2000, Congressman Denis J. Kucinich introduced in the House of Representatives a bill, which would oblige the American president to engage in negotiations aimed at the ban of space based weapons.

In this bill, the definition of a weapons system included:

“any other unacknowledged or as yet undeveloped means inflicting death or injury on, or damaging or destroying, a person (or the biological life, bodily health, mental health, or physical and economic well-being of a person)… through the use of land-based, sea- based, or space-based systems using radiation, electromagnetic, psychotronic, sonic, laser, or other energies directed at individual persons or targeted populations for the purpose of information war, mood management, or mind control of such persons or populations“(15).

As in all legislative acts quoted in this article, the bill pertains to sound, light or electromagnetic stimulation of the human brain.

Psychotronic weapons belong, at least for a layman uninformed of secret military research, in the sphere of science fiction, since so far none of the published scientific experiments has been presented in a meaningful way to World public opinion.

That it is feasible to manipulate human behavior with the use of subliminal, either by sound or visual messages, is now generally known and acknowledged by the scientific community.

This is why in most countries, the use of such technologies, without the consent of the individual concerned, is in theory banned. Needless to say, the use of these technologies is undertaken covertly, without the knowledge or consent of targeted individuals.

Devices using light for the stimulation of the brain constitute another mechanism whereby light flashing under certain frequencies could be used to manipulate the human psychic.

As for the use of sound, a device transmitting a beam of sound waves, which can be heard only by persons at whom the beam of sound waves is targeted, has been reported in several news media.  In this case, the beam is formed by a combination of sound and ultrasound waves which causes the targeted person to hear the sound inside his head. Such a procedure could affect the mental balance of  the targeted individual as well as convince him that he is, so to speak, mentally ill.

This article examines the development of technologies and knowledge pertaining to the functioning of the human brain and the way new methods of manipulation of the human mind are being developed.

Electromagnetic energy

One of the main methods of manipulation is through electromagnetic energy.

In the declassified scientific literature only some 30 experiments have been published supporting this assumption (1),(2). Already in 1974, in the USSR, after successful testing within a military unit in Novosibirsk, the Radioson (Radiosleep) was registered with the Government Committee on Matters of Inventions and Discoveries of the USSR, described as a method of induction of sleep by means of radio waves (3), (4), (5).

In the scientific literature, technical feasibility of inducing sleep in a human being through the use of radio waves is confirmed in a book by an British scientist involved in research on the biological effects of electromagnetism (6). A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on nonionizing radiation published in 1991 confirms that:

“many of biological effects observed in animals exposed to ELF fields appear to be associated, either directly or indirectly, with the nervous system…” (2).

Among the published experiments, there are those where pulsed microwaveshave caused the synchronization of isolated neurons with the frequency of pulsing of microwaves. Ffor example, a neuron firing at a frequency of 0.8 Hz was forced in this way to fire the impulses at a frequency of 1 Hz. Moreover, the pulsed microwaves contributed to changing the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brain (neurotransmitters are a part of the mechanism which causes the firing of neurons in the brain) and reinforcing or attenuating the effects of drugs delivered into the brain (1).

The experiment where the main brain frequencies registered by EEG were synchronized with the frequency of microwave pulsing (1,2) might explain the function of the Russian installation Radioson. Microwaves pulsed in the sleep frequency would cause the synchronization of the brain’s activity with the sleep frequency and in this way produce sleep.

Pulsing of microwaves in frequency predominating in the brain at an awakened state could, by the same procedure, deny sleep to a human being.

A report derived from the testing program of the Microwave Research Department at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research states

“Microwave pulses appear to couple to the central nervous system and produce stimulation similar to electric stimulation unrelated to heat”.

In a many times replicated experiment, microwaves pulsed in an exact frequency caused the efflux of calcium ions from the nerve cells (1,2). Calcium plays a key role in the firing of neurons and Ross Adey, member of the first scientific team which published this experiment, publicly expressed his conviction that this effect of electromagnetic radiation would interfere with concentration on complex tasks (7).

Robert Becker, who had share in the discovery of the effect of pulsed fields at the healing of broken bones, published the excerpts from the report from Walter Reed Army Institute testing program. In the first part “prompt debilitation effects” should have been tested (8). Were not those effects based on the experiment by Ross Adey and others with calcium efflux?

British scientist John Evans, working in the same field, wrote that both Ross Adey and Robert Becker lost their positions and research grants and called them “free-thinking exiles” (6). In 1975, in the USA, a military experiment was published where pulsed microwaves produced, in the brain of a human subject, an audio perception of numbers from 1 to 10 (9). Again the possibility to convince an individual that it is mentally ill is obvious. The testing program of American Walter Read Army Institute of Research, where the experiment took place, counts with “prompt auditory stimulation by means of auditory effects” and finally aims at “behavior controlled by stimulation” (8).

Let us assume that the words delivered into the brain were transcribed into ultrasound frequencies. Would not then the subject perceive those same words as his own thoughts?

And would this not imply that that his behavior was being controlled in this way through the transmission of ultrasound frequencies? In this regard, the American Air Force 1982 “Final Report On Biotechnology Research Requirements For Aeronautical Systems Through the Year 2000″ states:

“While initial attention should be toward degradation of human performance through thermal loading and electromagnetic field effects, subsequent work should address the possibilities of directing and interrogating mental functioning, using externally applied fields…” (10).

Several scientists have warned that the latest advances in neurophysiology could be used for the manipulation of the human brain.

In June 1995, Michael Persinger, who worked on the American Navy’s project of Non-lethal electromagnetic weapons, published a scientific article where he states:

“the technical capability to influence directly the major portion of the approximately six billion brains of the human species without mediation through classical sensory modalities by generating neural information within a physical medium within which all members of the species are immersed… is now marginally feasible“ (11).

In 1998, the French National Bioethics Committee warned that  “neuroscience is being increasingly recognized as posing a potential threat to human rights“ (12). In May 1999 the neuroscientists conference, sponsored by the UN, took place in Tokyo. Its final declaration formally acknowledges that :

“Today we have intellectual, physical and financial resources to master the power of the brain itself, and to develop devices to touch the mind and even control or erase consciousness…We wish to profess our hope that such pursuit of knowledge serves peace and welfare” (13).

On the international political scene, in the last few years, the concept of remote control of the human brain has become  a matter of international and intergovernmental negotiation. In January 1999, the European Parliament passed a resolution where it called  “for an international convention introducing a global ban on all developments and deployments of weapons which might enable any form of manipulation of human beings.“ (14)

Already in 1997, nine states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) addressed the UN, OBSE and the states of the Interparliamentary Union with the proposal to place at the agenda of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the preparation and adoption of an international convention “On Prevention of Informational Wars and Limitation of Circulation of Informational Weapons” (16), (3).

Informational Weapons

The initiative was originally proposed, in the Russian State Duma, by Vladimir Lopatin (3). V. Lopatin worked, from 1990 to 1995, in sequence, in the standing committees on Security respectively of the Russian Federation, Russian State Duma and of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), specializing in informational security.(3). The concept of informational weapon or informational war is rather unknown to the world general public. In 1999, V. Lopatin, together with Russian scientist Vladimir Tsygankov, published a book „Psychotronic Weapon and the Security of Russia“ (3). There we find the explanation of this terminology:

 ”In the report on the research of the American Physical Society for the year 1993 the conclusion is presented that psychophysical weapon systems…can be used… for the construction of a strategic arm of a new type (informational weapon in informational war)…”

Among many references on this subject, we refer to Materials of the Parliament Hearings “Threats and Challenges in the Sphere of Informational Security”, Moscow, July 1996, “Informational Weapon as a Threat to the National Security of the Russian Federation” (analytical report of the Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation), Moscow, 1996 and a material “To Whom Will Belong the Conscientious Weapon in the 21st Century”, Moscow, 1997. (17).

In 2000 V. Lopatin introduced, after two other authors, the third in order bill on the subject of  “Informational and Psychological Security of the Russian Federation“. Lopotin’s findings were reviewed by the Russian newspaper Segodnya:

“…Means of informational-psychological influence are capable not only of harming the health of an individual, but, also of causing, according to Lopatin, ‘the blocking of freedom of will of human being on the subliminal level, the loss of the ability of political, cultural and social self identification, the manipulation of societal consciousness, which could lead to   the destruction of a sense of collective identify by the Russian people and nation’“ (16).

In the book “Psychotronic Weapons and the Security of Russia”, the authors propose among the basic principles of the Russian concept of defense against the remote control of the human psyche not only the acknowledgement of its existence, but also the fact that the methods of informational and psychotronic war are fully operational (“and are being used without a formal declaration of war”) (18). They also quote the record from the session of the Russian Federation’s Federal Council where V. Lopatin stated that psychotronic weapon can

“cause the blocking of the freedom of will of a human being on a subliminal level” or “instillation into the consciousness or subconsciousness of a human being of information which will trigger a faulty or erroneous perception of reality” (19).

In that regard, they proposed the preparation of national legislation as well as the establishment of legal international norms “aimed at the defense of human psyche against subliminal, destructive and informational manipulations” (20).

Moreover, they also propose the declassification of all analytical studies and research on the various technologies. They warned that, because this research has remained classified and removed from the public eye, it has allowed the arms race to proceed unabated. It has thereby contributed to increasing the possibility of psychotronic war.

Among the possible sources of remote influence on human psyche, the authors list the “generators of physical fields“ of “known as well as unknown nature” (21). In 1999 the STOA (Scientific and Technological Options Assessment), part of the Directorate General for Research of the European Parliament published the report on Crowd Control Technologies, ordered by them with the OMEGA foundation in Manchester (UK) (22,  http://www.europarl.eu.int/stoa/publi/pdf/99-14-01-a_en.pdf ).

One of four major subjects of the study pertained  to the so-called “Second Generation“ or “non lethal” technologies:

 ”This report evaluates the second generation of ‘non-lethal’ weapons which are emerging from national military and nuclear weapons laboratories in the United States as part of the Clinton Administration’s ‘non-lethal’ warfare doctrine now adopted in turn by NATO. These devices include weapons using… directed energy beam,…radio frequency, laser and acoustic mechanisms to incapacitate human targets” (23) The report states that „the most controversial ‚non-lethal‘ crowd control … technology proposed by the U.S., are so called Radio Frequency or Directed Energy Weapons that can allegedly manipulate human behavior… the greatest concern is with systems which can directly interact with the human nervous system“ (24). The report also states that „perhaps the most powerful developments remain shrouded in secrecy“ (25).

 The unavailability of official documents confirming the existence of this technology may be the reason why the OMEGA report is referencing, with respect to mind control technology, the internet publication of the author of this article (26 http://www.europarl.eu.int/stoa/publi/pdf/99-14-01-a_en.pdf ).

 Similarly, the internet publication of the director of the American Human Rights and Anti-mind Control Organization (CAHRA), Cheryl Welsh, is referenced by the joint initiative of the Quaker United Nations Office, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, and Programme for Strategic and International Security Studies, with respect to non-lethal weapons (27).

On September 25th, 2000, the Committee on Security of the Russian State Duma discussed the addendum to the article 6 of the Federal law On Weapons. In the resolution we read:

“The achievements of contemporary science… allow for creation of measured methods of secret, remote influencing on the psyches and physiology of a person or a group of people“ (28). The committee recommended that the addendum be approved. The addendum to the article 6 of the Russian Federation law “On Weapons“ was approved on July 26, 2001. It states:

“within the territory of the Russian Federation is prohibited the circulation of weapons and other objects… the effects of the operation of which are based on the use of electromagnetic, light, thermal, infra-sonic or ultra-sonic radiations…“ (29).

In this way, the Russian government made a first step to stand up to its dedication to the ban of mind control technology.

In the Doctrine of Informational Security of the Russian Federation, signed by president Putin in September 2000, among the dangers threatening the informational security of Russian Federation, is listed

“the threat to the constitutional rights and freedoms of people and citizens in the sphere of spiritual life… individual, group and societal consciousness“ and “illegal use of special means affecting individual, group and societal consciousness” (30). Among the major directions of the international cooperation toward the guaranteeing of the informational security is listed „the ban of production, dissemination and use of ‘informational weapon‘ “ (31).

The foregoing statement should be interpreted as the continuing Russian commitment to the international ban of the means of remote influencing of the activity of the human brain.

Similarly, in the above mentioned report, published by the STOA, the originally proposed version of the resolution of the European Parliament calls for:

“an international convention for a global ban on all research and development… which seeks to apply knowledge of the chemical, electrical, sound vibration or other functioning of the human brain to the development of weapons which might enable the manipulation of human beings, including a ban of any actual or possible deployment of such systems.“(32)

Here the term “actual” might easily mean that such weapons are already deployed.

Among the countries with the most advanced military technologies is the USA which did not present any international initiative demanding the ban of technologies enabling the remote control of human mind. (The original version of the bill by Denis J. Kucinich was changed.)

All the same, according to the study published by STOA, the US is the major promoter of the use of those weapons. Non lethal technology was included into NATO military doctrine due to their effort:  “At the initiative of the USA, within the framework of NATO, a special group was formed, for the perspective use of devices of non-lethal effects” states the record from the session of the Committee on Security of the Russian State Duma (28).

The report published by STOA states: “In October 1999 NATO announced a new policy on non-lethal weapons and their place in allied arsenals” (33). “In 1996 non-lethal tools identified by the U.S. Army included… directed energy systems” and “radio frequency weapons” (34) – those weapons, as was suggested in the STOA report as well, are being associated with the effects on the human nervous system.

According to the Russian government informational agency FAPSI, in the last 15 years,U.S. expenditures on the development and acquisition of the means of informational war has increased fourfold, and at present they occupy the first place among all military programs (17),(3).

Though there are possible uses of informational war, which do not imply mind control, the US Administration  has been unwilling to engage in negotiations on the ban on all forms of manipulation of the human brain. This unwillingness might indeed suggest that the US administration intends to use mind control technologies both within the US as well as internationally as an instrument of warfare.

One clear consequence of the continuation of the apparent politics of secrecy surrounding technologies enabling remote control of the human brain is that the governments, who own such technologies, could use them without having to consult public opinion. Needless to say, any meaningful democracy in today’s world could be disrupted, through secret and covert operations.  It is not inconceivable that in the future, entire population groups subjected to mind control technologies, could be living in a “fake democracy” where their own government or a foreign power could broadly shape their political opinions by means of mind control technologies.

Mojmir Babacek is the founder of the International Movement for the Ban of the Manipulation of the Human Nervous System by Technical Means,  He is the author of numerous articles on the issue of mind manipulation. 

Notes

1) Handbook of Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields, 1996, CRC Press Inc., 0-8493-0641-8/96, – pg. 117, 119, 474- 485, 542-551, 565 at the top and third and last paragraph

2) World Health Organization report on non-ionizing radiation from 1991, pg. 143 and 207-208

3) V. Lopatin, V Cygankov: „Psichotronnoje oružie i bezopasnost Rossii“, SINTEG, Russian Federation, Moscow, ISBN 5-89638-006-2-A5-2000-30, list of the publications of the publishing house you will find at the addresshttp://www.sinteg.ru/cataloghead.htm

4) G. Gurtovoj, I. Vinokurov: „Psychotronnaja vojna, ot mytov k realijam“, Russsian Federation, Moscow, „Mysteries“, 1993, ISBN 5-86422-098-1

5) With greatest likelihood as well the Russian daily TRUD, which has organized the search for the documents, Moscow, between August 1991 and end of 1992 6) John Evans: Mind, Body and Electromagnetism, the Burlington Press, Cambridge, 1992, ISBN 1874498008, str.139

7) Robert Becker: “Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life”, William Morrow and comp., New York, 1985, pg. 287

8) Robert Becker: “Cross Currents, teh Startling Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation on your Health”, 1991, Bloomsburry Publishing, London, Great Brittain, ISBN 0- 7475-0761-9, pg. 304, Robert Becker refers to Bioelectromagnetics Society Newsletter, January and February 1989

9) Don R. Justesen, 1975, Microwaves and Behavior, American Psychologist, March 1975, pg. 391 – 401

10) Dr. Nick Begich and Jeane Maning: “Angels Don’t Play This HAARP, Advances in Tesla Technology”, Earthpulse Press, 1995, ISBN 0-9648812–0-9, pg. 169

11) M. A. Persinger: „On the Possibility of Directly Lacessing Every Human Brain by Electromagnetic Induction of Fundamental Algorythms“, Perception and Motor Skills, June1995,, sv. 80, str. 791-799

12) Nature, vol.391, 22.1.1998,str.316, „Advances in Neurosciences May Threaten Human Rights“

13) Internet reference at the site of the United Nations University and Institute of Advanced Studies in Tokyo does not work any more, to verify the information it is necessary to find the document from the 1999 UN sponsored conference of neuroscientists in Tokyo, you may inquire at the address [email protected] 14)http://www.europarl.eu.int/home/default_en.htm?redirected=1 . click at Plenary sessions, scroll down to Reports by A4 number –click, choose 1999 and fill in 005 to A4 or search for Resolution on the environment, security and foreign policy from January 28, 1999

15) http://thomas.loc.gov./ and search for Space Preservation Act then click at H.R.2977

16) Russian daily Segodnya, 11. February, 2000, Andrei Soldatov: „Vsadniki psychotronitscheskovo apokalypsa” (Riders of Psychotronic Apokalypse)

17) See ref. 3), pg. 107

18) See ref. 3) pg. 97

19) See ref. 3), pg. 107

20) See ref. 3), pg. 108

21) See ref. 3) pg. 13

22) http://www.europarl.eu.int/stoa/publi/pdf/99-14-01-a_en.pdf

23) see ref. 22 pg. XIX or 25

24) see ref. 22 pg. LIII or 69

25) see ref. 22 pg. XLVII or 63, aswell pg. VII-VIII or 7-8, pg. XIX or 25, pg. XLV or 61

26) see ref. 22) pg. LIII or 69, note 354

27) http://www.unog.ch/unidir/Media%20Guide%20 CAHRA and Cheryl Welsh are listed at the page 24

28) Document sent by Moscow Committee of Ecology of Dwellings. Telephone: Russian Federation, Zelenograd, 531-6411, Emilia Tschirkova, directrice

29) Search www.rambler.ru , there “poisk” (search) and search for “gosudarstvennaja duma” (State Duma) (it is necessary to type in Russian alphabet), at the page which appears choose “informacionnyj kanal gosudarstvennoj dumy” (Informational Channel of the Russian State Duma), there “federalnyje zakony podpisanyje prezidentom RF” (Federal laws signed by president of the Russian Federation), choose year 2001 and search 26 ijulja, è. N 103-F3 (July 26, 2001, number N 103- F3) , “O vnesenii dopolnenija v statju 6 federalnogo zakona ob oružii” (addendum to the article 6 of the Federal law on weapons)

30) Search www.rambler.ru and then (type in Russian alphabet) “gosudarstvennaja duma”, next “informacionnyj kanal gosudarstvennoj dumy” (informational channel of the State Duma), next search by use of “poisk” (search) Doktrina informacionnoj bezopasnosti Rossii” “Doctrine of the Informational Security of the Russian Federation) there see pg. 3 “Vidy informacionnych ugroz bezopasnosti Rossijskkoj federacii” (Types of Threats to the Informational Security of the Russian Federation)

31) See ref. 30, pg. 19, “Mìždunarodnoje sotrudnièestvo Rossijskoj Federacii v oblasti obespeèenija informacionnoj bezopasnoti” (International Cooperation of the Russian Federation in Assuring the Informational Security”

32) See ref.22, pg. XVII or 33

33) See ref.22, pg. XLV or 61

34) See ref.22 pg. XLVI or 62

Haiti: USAID Says it Built Houses in Caracol to Earthquake Safety Standards. It Didn’t.

June 25th, 2015 by Center for Economic and Policy Research

In February, USAID suspended Thor Construction, one of two contractors responsible for designing and building 750 houses in Haiti’s north, in Caracol. In March, the second contractor, CEEPCO, was also suspended. As previous HRRW reporting revealed, the houses were found to be of poor quality, with numerous structural deficiencies including the use of substandard concrete. USAID is currently investigating and putting together a potential legal case against the contractors; however, they continue to downplay the problems and their own role in them.

HRRW has obtained an internal assessment of the Caracol-EKAM housing development, performed by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers last year. The report directly contradicts USAID’s public comments on the housing development.

On its website, USAID has a “fact sheet” on the project, explaining: “To address natural disaster concerns, the 750 houses are designed to International Building Code earthquake and hurricane safety standards, and constructed with reinforced concrete masonry.” The webpage says it was updated in February 2015, nearly a year after USAID first began investigating. There is no mention of any problems with the houses in the “fact sheet.”

Summary of Findings from US Army Corp of Engineers Technical Assessment

Turning to the Army Corp of Engineers report, it makes clear that from the very beginning, International Building Codes were ignored. The report “found no evidence that a formal internal or external review” of the housing design was conducted and further, that “the project was designed with inconsistent application of code and latest design criteria,” despite the contract mandating compliance with the International Building Code. The lack of any oversight provided at this crucial early stage is a clear indictment of USAID’s own role in the project’s failure.

USAID also maintains that the houses are built with “reinforced concrete masonry” and are built to hurricane and earthquake safety standards. Not so fast, says the Army Corp of Engineers: “The project was constructed with significant variances from the contract plans and specifications. These variances could result in major damage from a hurricane or seismic event and excessive maintenance requirements if left uncorrected.”

And as for the reinforced masonry? “Seismic design of the housing units is deficient for construction within an area with high seismic activity. The design does not provide special reinforced masonry shearwalls as required for seismic design classification,” the report found, adding: “Combined with a lack of masonry joint reinforcement, omitted by the contractor, the walls are vulnerable to shear failure and step cracking in a seismic event.” A later report also obtained by HRRW, and prepared as part of USAID’s legal case against the suspended contractors, points out that the concrete used in the masonry is far below the required strength.

Image from internal USAID document, showing sub-standard concrete used.

The U.S. responded to Haiti’s earthquake, in which poorly constructed homes contribured to hundreds of thousands of deaths, by committing to facilitate the construction of 15,000 permanent homes in Haiti for $50 million. In the end, they’ve built just over 900 and costs have doubled. But worst of all, 750 of those 900 houses aren’t even built to withstand the next earthquake. In the meantime, residents of the houses are paying monthly rent and after five years will take over ownership of the houses, but what quality of houses are they being asked to pay for? And is USAID being upfront with the community about the extent of the problems?

The Army Corp of Engineers report is available here.

Worse than any disease or even leprosy, anyone spouting Austrian economics or even “common sense” (almost extinct today) has been shoved into the outcast corner by the mass delusional majority.  Over the last few years, “theory after theory” has become fact after FACT afterFACT!  There can no longer be any question, conspiracy to delude and defraud has run rampant and is a day to day operation in the Western world.

Originally my thought was to write this piece about and around the perfect response, “but you do agree the government is bankrupt, right?“.  I say this because almost anyone (in the U.S.), no matter what age, sex, religion, race or financial status will generally agree with this.  For those who don’t agree, it is better to leave well enough alone, this is a subset living in their own delusional world.

For those who do agree “the government is broke”, they are broken down into basic subsets.  There are those who “get it” fully.  There are those who know the government is broke but don’t really understand what it means or the ramifications (they can’t connect the dots).  Another group are those who agree and know in the back of their mind this is true …but they don’t REALLY believe it because they simply cannot …”it’s too awful to comprehend”.  Then, we have another group, probably the largest of all, those who agree but think it really doesn’t matter.  They may also believe no financial crisis will ever occur because “the government will never let it happen”.  Let’s talk about this group next.

The “can’t happen here” crowd only need the dots connected for them.  I believe it is best to ask them questions in an effort to lead them to their own answer and understanding.  This is much better than lecturing or “telling” them because they will actually have to think to answer your questions.  Questions such as:

  1. if the government is broke, how will they make good on their obligations such as payrolls, Social Security, food stamps, paying the military and most importantly paying on their debt?  Forget the first four, “do you realize Treasury securities are what funds Social Security, your pension, the bank’s balance sheet which holds your money …AND what underlies the dollar itself?”!
  2. If the above doesn’t work, you might ask if the economy currently “feels good”?  Then ask, do you realize the federal government spends almost 20% of GDP (and their spending is “counted” as part of GDP).  If they are broke and have to drastically cut back on spending, will the economy not shrink by the amount the government can no longer spend?  Do you see without government spending, under any definition we would be in a depression greater than the 1930′s?

I don’t want to go through the entire exercise but please understand, “guiding” someone to their own conclusion which happens to be correct is best done with questions, MANY OF THEM.  If you can, take two, three or even more philosophical roads to help them reach the same conclusion each time …the understanding will be that much more cemented in their mind when they finally do(hopefully) arrive!

Switching gears just a bit, we have seen the “mentality” change somewhat over the last year or so.  Even the mainstream is showing some signs of a shift.  This “shift” has even become evident amongst and within the “old boys club”.  For example, who would have imagined Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Austria would ever ask for their gold back?  Or Texas building its own depository and using the words “not” and “confiscate” in the legislation for proposed repatriation?

Several very well known and at one time mainstream money managers have publicly told of the dangerous situation.  The latest is a bond manager who has gone entirely to cash, how’s this for putting a crash helmet on?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-22/tcw-braces-for-bond-market-collapse-by-piling-the-cash-up-high

Just a few weeks ago, Bloomberg put out an article asking if China could gold back the yuan.  This was significant because no news source (other than maybe Kitco) has been as bearish and slandering regarding gold than Bloomberg.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-20/chinese-gold-standard-would-need-a-rate-50-times-bullion-s-price

Going to the beginning and back to the top, who exactly was correct in 1999-2000?  Who was correct from 2005-2008 about an impending crisis?  The answer of course is the very same people screaming bloody murder today “the financial system will come apart from the seams”.  Are those who were correct before, now “crying wolf”?  Or are they saying the same things for the same reason and forecasting the same results as before?  “They” (we) were not crazy then and are not crazy now.  In fact, it is even much easier to see now than previous.  As a side note if you recall, we heard in late 2008 and 2009, “who could have seen it coming”?  Or, “no one could have seen it coming”.  This is dead wrong!  In fact, even within the mainstream press there was a concerted effort to silence the truth.  For example, Greg Hunter while at CNN tried to warn of the banking collapse.  He was told “don’t go there” and was rewarded by having his contract not renewed!

“Some” saw the dotcom bubble coming, more saw and warned of the 2008 crisis coming …and even more see this one coming.  Not only are there more and louder voices today, the numbers are growing slowly but surely and even engulfing some mainstreamers who used to laugh at “us tinfoilers”!

I know how difficult it is and has been.

The financial landscape is perverted beyond recognition and any time you open your mouth, you are proven wrong.

Gold goes down the following day along with a new high in stocks so you look “stupid”.  You are not.

“We” cannot make price, we can only tell the truth as we see it and suggest via common sense and logic the need to prepare for the worst.  As I see it, the outcome is not in any doubt and becomes clearer each day.  My fear is we are not in 2008 anymore, the coming collapse will change the world order to one unrecognizable to today.  The U.S. is in fact “broke” as we spoke of at the beginning.  The “realization” of this not only can happen but WILL happen.  Sadly, because of how badly the U.S. has treated the world over these last years, we will be given no mercy when negotiating our bankruptcy.  It will be a real live wolf at our door!

Philadelphia - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has declared that his government would support an initiative by the Community of the Caribbean (CARICOM) to demand reparations from European countries for their role in colonial slavery.

“We have supported the proposal by the Community of the Caribbean that Europe has to compensate Africa and America,” the socialist leader affirmed on Tuesday during his weekly television program.

The ten-point CARICOM program for reparatory justice, which was first announced in 2013 after a decade of discussions, includes calls for a full unqualified apology from European nations, a repatriation program for those who wish to return to Africa, as well as debt cancellation.

The proposal has been strongly backed by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and coincides with similar initiatives by Bolivia and Peru as well as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ reopening of the reparations debate in the US.

In slamming European responsibility for the colonial wounds of slavery, Maduro also took the opportunity to denounce the European Union’s recently authorized military operation to shut down the flow of African migrants across the Mediterranean following the drowning of 800 migrants off the Italian coast in April.

“Pope Francis, raise your voice to stop this European Union military operation against the African people,” the head of state urged, decrying the plan as “savagery”.

Announced on Friday, the military operation will reportedly target the boats belonging to alleged people smugglers, but will also feature operations in Libyan territorial waters and possibly inside Libya itself.

Image: A relative surveys the ruins of Tareq Khatib’s home / Photos: Jonathan Cook

Official ‘Judaisation’ policy blamed for severe housing crisis as anger mounts over family made homeless twice in two months

The start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan has been bitter for Tareq Khatib.

The Israeli authorities razed his home for the second time in two months last week. Now under house arrest, he is confined to a friend’s home and separated from his wife and children.

His lawyer has warned that he should expect a bill from the state for hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover the costs of the demolitions and security operations.

Fingering prayer beads, the 48-year-old father of five looked disconsolate, his hopelessness compounded by fatigue from the afternoon heat and a long day without food or water.

“Where are my family and I supposed to live?” he asked. “It seems the government thinks the only place for us is out on the street, without a roof over our heads. It’s like they are waging a war against their own citizens.”

In the darkness before dawn on June 15, hundreds of Israeli police entered the Galilee town of Kafr Kana, close to Nazareth, to destroy Khatib’s almost-completed house.

It was carried out like a military operation, he told Middle East Eye. Police, some on horse-back, sealed off the roads to the area while others fired stun grenades and rubber bullets as dozens of neighbours and relatives tried to stop the demolition. Four people were arrested, including Khatib himself.

Treated like an enemy

Khatib’s long and unsuccessful battle to build his family a home legally has come to symbolise a much larger struggle by Israel’s Palestinian minority against decades of land confiscations, severe planning restrictions and an ever-escalating housing crisis.

Israel’s 1.5 million Palestinians, a fifth of the population, have citizenship but their leaders say they are treated more like an enemy population.

The formation in May of an ultra-nationalist coalition under Benjamin Netanyahu has further raised fears that the destruction of Khatib’s home will herald a wave of house demolitions in the Galilee.

Interior ministry officials are evasive about figures for unauthorised building in Israel, but experts say the number of such homes is believed to have reached around 30,000 in Israel’s Palestinian communities.

“That means one in 10 Arab homes in Israel is treated as illegal by the government and faces the threat of demolition,” said Hana Swaid, who was until recently an Arab member of the Israeli parliament.

He heads the Arab Centre for Alternative Planning, an organisation promoting fairer land and housing allocations for the Palestinian minority.

According to Swaid, the housing problems faced by Khatib and thousands of other Palestinian families in Israel derive from an official Zionist policy of “Judaisation”.

“The goal since the state’s creation has been to Judaise territory. That doesn’t mean just building communities for Jews but tightly restricting where Arab citizens can live. They are trapped with no options for the future for themselves or their children.”

The result has been rampant overcrowding in Arab communities, with a chronic lack of open spaces, proper roads, and industrial and commercial centres offering employment opportunities.

100,000 homes needed

Khatib’s troubles gained public attention in April when he, his wife and three of his children were evicted. The house he had built two years earlier in his family’s olive grove, on the edge of Kafr Kana, was destroyed.

Some 26 other homes in the town are threatened with immediate demolition. Despite repeated appeals from the local municipality, planning officials have refused to expand the town’s residential area for more than 15 years.

Arfan Khatib, a local councillor, told the Haaretz daily that parts of Kafr Kana – the place where Jesus reputedly performed his first miracle, turning water into wine – now looked more like “refugee camps”.

Tareq Khatib said: “I have been trying for years to get a permit to build on my land without success. We couldn’t keep living in a small rented apartment for ever, so I decided it was time to build.”

recent study, according to Haaretz, showed that approval of at least 100,000 additional homes was needed over the next decade to avert a deepening housing crisis among the Palestinian minority.

Based on the housing ministry’s current estimates, barely a fifth of the necessary building permits will be issued to Palestinian citizens. In recent years approval rates have actually fallen.

The demolition of Khatib’s house in April, along with five homes in three buildings in the village of Dahmash in central Israel, triggered a general strike by the country’s Palestinian minority and a protest by thousands in central Tel Aviv under the banner “Fighting for our homes”.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, the main Arab party in the Israeli parliament, told the demonstrators: “A family which loses its home, built on its own private land, is shattered.”

Simultaneous efforts to hold an emergency debate in parliament on the minority’s housing problems were blocked by opposition from the Jewish parties.

The attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, meanwhile, has warned that a failure to enforce demolitions would be “irreconcilable” with the rule of law.

House built in six days

Angered by the demolition in Kafr Kana, local residents rallied to Khatib’s side and rebuilt his house this month in just six days.

Their efforts now lie in ruins. A large mound of rubble and twisted steel wires marks the spot where his second house briefly stood.

A torn green canvas and crumpled metal frame close by are all that is left of a large tent the family had been living in while they finished the house. Friends were able to salvage only mattresses, blankets and chairs before the bulldozers set to work.

demolition2

“They chose their moment carefully,” Khatib said. “That day we were due to get the house connected to water and move in. Now nothing’s left.”

Will he try to build his house a third time? He shrugged, the mammoth task one he is apparently not yet willing to contemplate. “The system is rigged against us,” he said.

The interior ministry, which oversees building permits, was unavailable for comment. Government officials, however, regularly claim that Palestinian citizens like Khatib are refusing to abide by planning rules and prefer to build illegally.

Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), said thousands of Palestinian families in Israel were trapped in what he termed the same “matrix of control” that operates in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, where demolitions also regularly take place.

“People are surprised that Israel demolishes three times more homes inside Israel, against its Palestinian citizens, than it does in the occupied territories,” he told MEE. “The number of demolitions in Israel undermines the idea that the policy is simply a problem of the occupation.”

ICAHD, he said, had launched a new campaign called “Judaising Palestine” to emphasise that Israel’s goal was confinement and displacement of all Palestinians wherever they were living in historic Palestine.

Despite a slow-down in Jewish immigration in recent years, Judaisation is still being actively pursued.

In late 2013 the Jewish National Fund, an international Zionist charity with semi-governmental status, announced it would invest $1 billion over the next decade to encourage 250,000 Jews from the US and Europe to move to the Galilee and Negev.

Jewish-only communities

The land and housing problems faced by Israel’s Palestinian citizens, note experts, have a long history that started in the immediate wake of the 1948 war that established Israel as a Jewish state.

Israel confiscated most of its new Palestinian minority’s lands, as well as that of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians freshly made refugees. It then nationalised 93 per cent of its total territory on behalf of worldwide Jewry.

Israel built hundreds of rural, land-hungry communities for Jews, including farming collectives like the kibbutz, that exclude Palestinian citizens through admission committees, said Swaid.

The Palestinian minority has been mostly confined to some 130 separate communities occupying just 2.5 per cent of Israel’s land.

“While over 1,000 new Jewish communities have been established [since Israel’s creation], not a single Arab settlement has been authorized,” notes the website of Adalah, a legal centre for Israel’s Palestinian minority.

The Or Commission, an Israeli judicial-led inquiry, concluded in 2003 that systematic discrimination in land and housing had been a major cause of unrest in the Galilee three years earlier. Israeli police shot dead 13 unarmed Palestinian citizens and wounded hundreds more during demonstrations in Israel at the start of the second intifada.

The commission observed that waves of massive land expropriations had been viewed by the Palestinian minority as a “dispossession enterprise”. Despite a sevenfold increase in the Palestinian minority’s numbers since the state’s founding, it added, zoning for residential areas had barely increased.

Destroyed 80 times

The picture in Israel’s south, in the semi-desert Negev, is particularly extreme, Maysanna Morany, a lawyer with Adalah, told MEE.

There, several dozen Bedouin villages have been unrecognised by the state and 10,000 homes are automatically under threat of demolition.

The small village of al-Araqib, near Beersheva, has become a test case for the government, with the authorities destroying the entire village more than 80 times over the past five years.

Last month the Israeli Supreme Court also approved the demolition of another Bedouin village, Umm al-Hiran, to make way for an exclusive Jewish town on its land.

But there are severe problems too in the 120 or so recognised Arab communities in the Galilee and Triangle areas in the north and centre of the country, where 20,000 homes are ruled illegal.

In most cases it is because they are built in communities either lacking a state-approved master plan or with a long out-dated master plan that fails to take account of the Palestinian minority’s growth, said Morany.

Umm al-Fahm, the second largest Palestinian town in Israel after Nazareth, with a population of 50,000, has no master plan, making all its homes illegal.

A change in approach has been blocked because planning committees, dominated by Jewish officials, have refused to abandon the state’s Judaisation policy, said Swaid.

Recent research based on interior ministry data showed that no Palestinian citizen held a professional position on any of Israel’s planning committees, which oversee and approve community master plans. Further, none of the 74 staff of the interior ministry’s Planning Authority was Arab.

 

Anthony Freda Art - “B.S. Factory”

The Western mainstream press has long attempted to brand Syria as just one more Middle Eastern country caught in the centuries-old battle between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, a narrative that has been successfully peddled to the American public. In fact, that narrative has been so successful in American public discourse that one of the most common responses coming from even anti-war proponents is “those people have people have been fighting over there for thousands of years.”

This narrative is simple – the Middle East has always been a basket case and any attempts to bring civilization to the savages that live there are futile. The end result is that the anti-war side uses the narrative as an attempt to dissuade Americans from invasion while the pro-war side uses it to justify full invasion and even nuclear war. Both, however, buy into to a fairy tale on which they base their generic opinions.

Syria, of course, has been the most recent recipient of uneducated and obstinate opinions based on narratives provided by corporate media outlets suggesting that society is entirely divided based upon religion and that the heavy-handed Assad represents the oppression of all other members of society by a minority Alawite sect. According to the Western press, the Assad government is an Alawite dictatorship as much as Syrian society was divided by religion.

As I and many others have demonstrated time and time again, not only was Syrian society a secular one, it was also one of general peace between a wide variety of different religions.

Enter the NATO-backed terrorists.Still, the nature of the average Syrian was unchanged. However, with the injection of headhunting savages, pedophiles, and cannibals, the corporate media was able to peddle images and soundbites back to an infantile Western public to promote their narrative while Syrian society and culture was ransacked.

Yet, in regards to the nature of the Syrian government, it would be helpful to take a look at the “Alawite dictatorship” or “Alawite-dominated” structure that has been reported in the Western media.

The list below, compiled by Ziad Fadel of Syrian Perspective in his article, “Liars! Syper Pulls the Veil Off The Alawi Canard: Syria is Ruled By Sunnis and Sunnis Only!,” demonstrates that the Syrian government is not only made up of a number of different religions, it also contains a high proportion of Sunnis, the brand of Islam adhered to by ISIS, FSA, Nusra and others. It thus demonstrates that the Syrian government is not dominated by Alawites or even Shiites, but contains a sample of each religious branch. The list (not a comprehensive one) is as follows:

Dr. Bashar Al-Assad – of Alawi descent and is known to be secular

Asmaa` Al-Akras-Al-Assad, First Lady – SUNNI

Dr. Najaah Al-‘Attaar – Vice President – SUNNI

Waleed Al-Mu’allim – Foreign Minister – SUNNI

Dr. Faysal Miqdaad – Deputy Foreign Minister – SUNNI

Maj. Gen. Muhammad Ibraaheem Al-Sha’aar – Interior Minister and heads 3 security services – SUNNI

Lt. General Fahd Jaassim Al-Furayj – Defense Minister – SUNNI

Lt. General Talaal Tlaas – Deputy Defense Minister – SUNNI

Dr. Waa’il Naadir Al-Halaqi – Prime Minister – SUNNI

‘Abdullah Al-Ahmar – Deputy Secretary of the Ba’ath Party Pan Arab Command – SUNNI

Lt. General ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Ayyoob – Chief of the Syrian General Staff – ALAWI

‘Umraan Al-Zu’bi – Minister of Information – SUNNI

Dr. Bashshaar Al-Ja’afari – Syrian Permanent Delegate to the U.N. – SUNNI

Muhammad Jihaad Al-Lahhaam – Speak of the Parliament – SUNNI

Maj. General Muhammad Mahalla – Director of Military Intelligence – SUNNI

Maj. General Nazeeh Hassoon – Director of Political Security – SUNNI

Lt. Gen. Ali Mamlook – Special National Security Adviser to the President – SUNNI

Dr. Buthayna Sha’baan – Special Advisor to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Palace spokeswoman – ALAWI

This list itself should go great lengths to dispel the myth peddled by mainstream and even “independent” media organizations that the Syrian government is nothing more than an “Alawite regime.” Indeed, the truth is that the Syrian government was never based on any religion and neither was modern Syrian society. Assad entered into power as a reformer and has subsequently become the single most effective and formidable fighter against ISIS in the world today.

The corporate media knows all of this and has known since the beginning of the Syrian crisis but it refused to tell any of this information to its audiences. The corporate media knew from the beginning that the United States and NATO were responsible for arming, funding, directing, and training al-Qaeda and ISIS militants. That, too, it neglected to pass on to its readers. This was not incompetence, it was willful subversion of the intellect.

The Western corporate media has proven its worth time and time again. Of course, its worth is only to the governments that use it as their mouthpiece, international banks, and major corporations. To those players, the corporate media apparatus is invaluable because it carries with it the minds of the vast majority.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andvolume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

People rose up in protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but the corporate interests still got their way. (Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

Fast track passes. Our Congress – the supposed representatives of We the People – voted to cut themselves and us out of the process of deciding what “the rules” for doing business “in the 21st Century” will be.

How do the plutocrats and oligarchs and their giant multinational corporations get what they want when a pesky democracy is in their way? They push that pesky democracy out of their way.

Because of fast track, when the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and any other secretly negotiated “trade” agreements are completed Congress must vote in a hurry with only limited debate, cannot make any amendments no matter what is in the agreement, and they can’t be filibustered. Nothing else coming before our Congress gets that kind of skid-greasing, only corporate-written “trade” agreements – and it doesn’t matter how far the contents go beyond actual “trade.”

Fast track takes Congress out of the picture, just in case the checks arrive late and our Congress decides to act like it is supposed to. Fast track means that representatives of Wall Street and giant corporations and our plutocrats negotiate with the plutocrats and corporate interests of other countries to divide up the economic pie, and Congress agrees not to “meddle” with the result, only to rubber-stamp it.

Public Rising Up

In spite of a near-blackout of information in the major media, majorities of the public opposed fast track. Word got out anyway and “left” and “right” activists and grassroots and media were against it. Calls and letters to the offices of representatives and senators were running heavily, heavily against it. People were appealing to representatives and senators with petition after petition containing hundreds of thousands of names each. People were even showing up and protesting at the offices of representatives and senators all around the country.

Wall Street and giant, multinational corporations and the big business lobbying organizations were for it. Every single labor union and literally thousands of other organizations representing the interests of citizens were against it.

Companies that don’t make things in the U.S. were for it. Companies that still try to make things in the U.S. were against it.

It almost didn’t make it through and this was a sea change. Those opposed to this corporate takeover rallied and won battles. Each time The Money pushed back and forced it onward.

It passed.

Fast Track Vote Marks A Change

This vote marks another change in the relationship between We the People of the United States and our government and the giant corporations.

Previously our corrupt system had “our” Congress simply ignoring what the people want, and doing whatever The Money class wants. You might recall the study by Princeton’s Martin Gilens and Northwestern’s Benjamin Page showing that “business interests have substantial independent impacts” while “average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence” on our government’s policies. In other words, the Congress did what the rich and powerful want and ignores what the public wants.

We knew that.

This fast track push was different, more aggressive, less concerned with how it looked. Facing increasing awareness of the money-corrupted nature of the system and a rising populist movement The Money was much more in-your-face and blatant than the system had been. This wasn’t just the corporations slipping something past the public with no regard to what the public wants; this was about pushing it through with the public engaged in opposition. Old corrupt system: sneaking it through; new corrupt system: pushing it through.

This time it is The Money telling Congress to set aside our democratic deliberative process, to pass something that says they – the bodies that represent the people – can’t amend, can’t have extended debate. They are doing this for a secretly negotiated agreement, the result of a rigged corporate-dominated process. They are afraid of We the people so they are trying to find ways to get us out of their way.

Fast Track is The Money directing Congress to go utterly against what vast majorities of people actively say, going utterly against what movements of people are fighting for. This goes beyond the Iraq War vote because there were blocks of the public on both sides of that fight – even if the “pro” block was largely manufactured by propaganda. This goes beyond the public bailout of Wall Street (but not the rest of us) because there was no time for opposition to rally, and there was no crisis or panic to manipulate. This time they just went ahead and did it and didn’t care how it looked.

Is this how business will be done in the 21st century? Maybe, but maybe not. We the People came close to winning this time. We will come closer and closer, then we will start winning again.

Dave Johnson is a contributing blogger for the Campaign for America’s Future.

Saudi Arabia’s War on Yemen Comes Home

June 25th, 2015 by Eric Draitser

When Saudi Arabia launched its war against Yemen in March 2015, it presumed that a short, quick, and clean air war would be enough to degrade the alliance of Houthi forces and those loyal to former President Saleh, thereby giving the Saudi-backed government of former President Hadi the necessary space to regain control of the country. However, that simply has not been the case. In fact, not only has the Saudi campaign not achieved these objectives, it has instead precipitated a much more dangerous war which has now spread to Saudi Arabia itself.

Reports from Yemeni sources have confirmed that the Houthis and their allies have launched a number of rockets into Saudi Arabia’s Jizan province while also launching an assault on three military bases in various parts of the country. Of course, the attacks have sent an unmistakable message to Riyadh that there will be a price to pay for the continued bombardment of Yemen; that the Saudis cannot simply act with impunity.

War Spreads Beyond Yemen’s Borders

The fact that Houthi and Saleh forces are able to successfully attack key Saudi military installations has undoubtedly rattled a few nerves in Riyadh. While the recent assaults have not been the first, they have been perhaps the most open demonstration of the military capacity of the Yemeni forces to strike at Saudi assets.

It has been reported that the Houthi-Saleh combined forces have attacked and possibly taken control of a military base in the Southwestern province of Jizan, strategically located on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast. While of course embarrassing for the Saudi government, this development is far more than simply a public relations nightmare; it is a strategic disaster. While Yemeni forces have pounded the base in Jizan, there have been scattered reports of Yemeni attacks against other Saudi military installations, including in the East of the country, as well as in the Northwest. If these reports are to be believed, then nearly the entirety of Saudi Arabian territory is within the range and capability of Yemeni rockets.

There is clear progress from the perspective of the Ansarullah movement (aka the Houthis) and their military allies if one compares the attacks they launched back in April, and those they are carrying out today. While there were a number of high profile attempts to break through Saudi defenses on the borders and make significant gains at the time, all such attacks were either entirely repelled or were mostly unsuccessful; however today, less than two months later, Houthi offensives are becoming increasingly sophisticated and, quite predictably, increasingly effective. Although Ansarullah has fired rockets and made offensive moves towards a number of key Saudi installations throughout the country, their major breakthroughs have come in the strategic Jizan province, right near the Yemeni border.

And it remains the areas closest to the border with Yemen where the real concrete gains have been made by the anti-Saudi coalition. Whether the Houthis and their allies are able to take operational control of the Saudi bases, or merely to attack them and flee is somewhat secondary. What is of primary importance is the simple fact that essentially the entire southwestern portion of Saudi Arabia is now under direct threat from the combined Houthi-Saleh forces, in addition to newly formed militias quietly developing inside Saudi Arabia in the area near the Saudi-Yemeni border.

A Saudi Civil War?

The formation of militias committed to waging war against the House of Saud may be the single most troubling development for Riyadh. Perhaps the most significant of these is the so called ‘Ahrar al-Najran’ Movement, a coalition of regional tribes in the southwest of the country that have combined forces with anti-Riyadh Saudi political activists to create an independence movement that has taken up arms against the Saudi government.

Ahrar al-Najran presents a complex problem for the Saudis because it is comprised primarily of tribes whose lands were originally within Yemeni territory until they were occupied by Saudi forces in 1934. According to Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA):

[The] Ahrar al-Najran Movement [is] calling for independence from Saudi Arabia…Abu Bakr Abi Ahmed al-Salami, a leader of Ahrar al-Najran, says the movement which brings together different tribal groups is set to launch its first battle in parts of south Najran occupied by the Saudi army…There are four main reasons why the movement wants to declare independence from Saudi Arabia:

  1. General dissatisfaction in Saudi Arabia with the way officials in Riyadh handle day-to-day administration of affairs,
  2. Riyadh’s policy to keep the south impoverished,
  3. Aggression against Yemen and the massacre of defenseless people there by the Saudi regime,
  4. Failure of the Saudi government to view the residents of the south as first-class citizens, thus violation [sic] of their legitimate rights.

Needless to say, from the perspective of the Saudis, a nascent independence movement within their borders is just about the worst possible outcome of their decision to wage war on Yemen. And considering the already tense situation in the majority Shia province of Qatif, it seems Saudi Arabia has become a political powder keg just waiting for a spark. Undoubtedly the Ansarullah Movement understands this perfectly well, and is now preparing to make its move, matches in hand.

Indeed, while the Saudis will likely move quickly to assert control over the southwestern regions, the Shias of the east – undoubtedly with a bit of tacit and/or overt support from the Houthis – might find this an opportune moment to begin organizing themselves into more than just periodic demonstrations and upsurges of righteous indignation to be quickly met with vicious force.

It should be remembered that recent months have seen violent raids and clashes between Saudi security forces and residents throughout the Qatif province of Eastern Saudi Arabia, the most violent of which having taken place in the town of Awamiyah. In response to protests against Riyadh’s war on Yemen, the regime’s security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown that perhaps most accurately could be called violent suppression. As one activist and resident of Awamiyah told the Middle East Eye back in April, “From 4pm until 9pm the gunfire didn’t stop… Security forces shot randomly at people’s homes, and closed all but one of the roads leading in and out of the village… It is like a war here – we are under siege.” A number of videos uploaded to YouTube seem to confirm the accounts of activists, though all eyewitness accounts remain anonymous for fear of government retribution.

Such actions as those described by activists in Awamiyah, and throughout Qatif, are nothing new. Over the last few years, the province has repeatedly seen upsurges of protests against the draconian policies of the government in Riyadh. Were such protests to once again erupt, and were they to coincide with the burgeoning Sunni independence movement in the Southwest, one could then rightly characterize the unrest as a general uprising: truly a nightmare scenario for the Saudi government.

Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen has taken a tremendous toll on that impoverished country, with untold thousands of casualties, countless families displaced, infrastructure devastated, and the delivery of basic services slowed to a trickle, if not cut off altogether. The Saudis have perpetrated a flagrantly illegal aggression against the nation and people of Yemen, committing a laundry list of war crimes that the world has, by and large, completely ignored. But the Saudis may have to pay a price for this crime, a price far higher than they likely ever imagined.

The House of Saud may have control over the oil, and thereby control over the peninsula, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it does not have total control over its people. And, while no one knows whether a true general uprising in Saudi Arabia will come to pass, the war in Yemen might possibly be the spark that finally sets the oil drum ablaze.

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

“Most Americans apply a yardstick to America’s actions which is very different than the yardstick they apply to Russia’s actions. Whenever their bias in favor of their own nation gets into conflict with the truth, the odds are that the bias will prevail. As a result of this they are not capable of seeing current events in their historical perspective…In Washington, wisdom has no chance to prevail at this point…If we intend to drop bombs on Russia in case of war, and expect Russia to drop bombs on us…then our threat to drop bombs on Russia is tantamount to murder and suicide.” Leo Szilard: “Are We On The Road To War? (1961)

The US defense secretary, Ashton Carter, is the face of all that is wrong in Washington, DC. But he is “Mr. Right” for the varied capital interests and ideologies he represents:  the fusion of neoliberalism and neo-conservatism; state sponsored corporate welfare; the revolving door; opportunism and greed; the “free market”; and a science and technology that is first and foremost in the service of weapons and war.

Carter has absolutely nothing in common with the rank and file of the military (those at the tip-of-the spear) who he ostensibly is supposed to represent. He would never go out beyond-the-wire.

“Ash” is a one percent guy, representing the one or so percent that moves and shakes the classes that make up society like the puppeteer does marionettes. Carter’s primary interest is in further privatizing, and eliminating, the State’s role in national security for the purpose of providing more profit opportunities for defense contractors, weapons research laboratories and his bank account. Even his two marriages seem arranged for political/economic purposes: his ex-wife, and 1977 college graduate, is president of Bates College in Maine; and the current Mrs., a 1991 college graduate, is a partner in ABS Capital.

The honorable US defense secretary studied physics, receiving his PhD from Oxford. His specialty was quantum chromodynamics, a field of study in which two of the giants of 20th Century physics, Nobel Laureates Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann, set the pace. Perhaps figuring he’d not make the Nobel Prize cut or had reached the end of his shelf life in the physics research community, Carter opted to pursue the profitable path of science and technology in the service of weapons and war, and the individuals and organizations that design strategies and technologies that require that America remain in a perpetual state of war of some kind.

Carter, and like-minded technocrats seeking to cozy up to monstrous global capital and power, has achieved a measure of wealth and fame over the years parlaying his technical and interpersonal acumen (contacts) in halls of government and in board rooms to maximum advantage for himself and vested interests. The Project on Government Oversight’s piece on Carter titled “Taking the Revolving Door to a Whole New Level” is illuminating in this regard. Carter is certainly no Leo Szilard (founder of the Council for a Livable World and heavyweight 20th Century physicist) being more in the mold of Edward Teller, a strident supporter of missile defense systems.

…Carter’s role, like that of many other members of Washington’s defense policy establishment, went deeper. While working in the private sector, he has held plum positions on government advisory boards that called for reforms with potential ramifications for his defense industry clients and other companies that receive DoD dollars…Carter’s investment colleagues at Global Technology Partners included other former senior officials—such as former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former CIA Director John Deutch— who were serving simultaneously as advisers to DoD. Perry and Deutch also had close ties to giant defense contractors: Perry served on the boards of UTC and Boeing, while Deutch served on the board of Raytheon.

From 1997 to 2001, Carter also served as a member of the Defense Policy Board, another influential Pentagon committee that advises on ‘issues central to strategic Department of Defense (DoD) planning,” according to its charter. Unlike the Defense Science Board, the Defense Policy Board “does not publish separate reports,’ according to a database of federal advisory committees, and it’s unclear what role Carter played in the panel’s work. Nonetheless, Carter’s industry clients stood to benefit from his role as a Pentagon advisor on both panels. (Another former member of the Defense Policy Board, Richard Perle, ended up resigning after a controversy erupted over his ties to companies that had business pending before the government.)

At the time of Global Technology Partners (GTP) press release/announcement of the alliance with Rothschild, besides Perry and Deutch, GTP key staff included former Pentagon undersecretary of defense for technology John Kaminski and John White, former Pentagon deputy defense secretary. William Perry figures prominently in Andrew Cockburn’s “Kill Chain. The Rise of the High Tech Assassins”, being in the forefront of automated killing machines.

Carter, according to the document on the GTP-Rothschild alliance, was listed as having this expertise: “…a Senior Partner of Global Technology Partners, LLC.  From 1993 to 1996, Dr. Carter served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, with responsibility for formulating U.S. policy towards Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction worldwide, arms control negotiations, and oversight of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and missile defense programs.  He is also the former Chairman of the NATO High Level Group.”

Carter is well positioned, for the benefit of current and former clients—to include the next president of the United States (Republican or Democrat)–to lead the charge against Russia and China. As the Project for Government Oversight pointed out, Carter has been a champion of missile defense technology and deployment for decades. Let’s turn, in contrast to Carter, to Murray Gell-Mann, a physicist who worked on anti-ballistic missile defense systems in the 1960’s. He concluded that they would be destabilizing. “And the conclusions were very negative, that is, that it [ABM] would drastically reduce our security, and that we would be much better off if both the United States and the Soviet Union refrained from deploying significant ABM systems…” Fast forward to 2015 and the issues central to the deployment of ABM systems, or missile defense systems, remains largely unchanged: escalation to defeat the defensive system always ensues.

Gell-Mann, and Szilard, acutely recognized the fragility of the planet and the human race. They knew, having seen first-hand the destructive power at humanity’s disposal, that shortsightedness and narrowly defined interests—unchecked–will kill or alter the species beyond recognition. “…what might, what the human race might do to achieve greater sustainability in the course of the twenty-first century, which is when it really has to happen, because now is the time when we’ve reached the inflexion point in total human population and the rate of increase is beginning to decrease. It’s the time when we’ve reached the stage where human beings can make changes of order one in the whole globe, whether through unwise economic activity or through destructive war; and this is clearly the time when if a set of transitions to a more sustainable world is to occur, they must occur,” said Gell-Mann.

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer. Reach him at [email protected]

Image: Canadian Defense Minister Jason Kenney greeting Canadian soldiers in Poland June 9, 2015 (DND photo, Cpl Precious Carandang)

With the U.S. House of Representatives passing a unanimous amendment last week blocking the training of fighters from the so-called Azov Battalion, a notorious paramilitary group in Ukraine, opposition parties are urging the Canadian government to ensure that Canada won’t train them, either.

The volunteer militia uses Nazi-inspired logos and is reputed to recruit neo-Nazi elements. Foreign Policy magazine has reported it is an openly neo-Nazi, fascist group, and a battalion representative told USA Today in March that neo-Nazis comprise 10 to 20 per cent of volunteers.

It is also, however, one of the most prominent militias fighting with the Ukrainian National Guard in eastern Ukraine against separatist groups reportedly backed by Russian money and military equipment.

Ukraine’s interior minister, Arsen Avakov, who oversees its army, said at the end of March that the Azov Battalion was among units to be trained by the US in western Ukraine, according to AP.

About 200 Canadian soldiers are working in a US-led effort to train Ukrainian soldiers in a western Ukrainian town called Yavoriv. The Canadian and American ambassadors to Ukraine reportedly accompanied the Ukrainian prime minister in a visit to troops there at the beginning of June.

National Defence minister Jason Kenney declined an interview with Embassy.

His press secretary, Lauren Armstrong, said in an emailed response that “Ukrainian forces are responsible for the screening process to ensure the Canadian Armed Forces will only be training legitimate military members. The first installment of trainees will be members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (Land).”

Ms. Armstrong added, “we been assured that this group will not include members of the Azov Battalion and this battalion will not be integrated into the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

‘Right thing to do’

For opposition parties, these assurances may not be enough.

Jack Harris, defence critic for the NDP, said in an interview, “In light of what’s happened in the U.S., I think it’s appropriate for the minister to issue a clarification and we would ask that he make a strong denunciation of any role for Canada in [training that group].”

He said American congressmen can tack on legal conditions to appropriations bills, to “make it clear, send a message on the record,” he said.

“We don’t have a similar mechanism in our Parliament to do that, except to seek the assurance of the minister.” Mr. Harris said opposition parties would have an opportunity to question Mr. Kenney at the defence committee Wednesday.

Liberal defence critic Joyce Murray told Embassy the US amendment “was a cross-partisan initiative and the right thing to do.” She said she wants Mr. Kenney to “make sure that this openly neo-Nazi Azov Battalion does not receive any Canadian government equipment or aid or training.”

The minister needs to demonstrate or show that his commitment is being honoured, beyond just stating that he has assurances, she said. “I’d like the minister to tell us how he can be sure that this group will not be receiving Canadian support. What kind of accountability is there?”

“It’s a very fair question,” Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, said. “Who are we training, and do we know for sure that it doesn’t include this quite appalling neo-Nazi paramilitary group?”

Ms. May noted that bipartisan votes in the U.S. are rare. “Canada should be taking note of this,” she said. Russian aggression in Ukraine is illegal, she argued, but the fact that neo-Nazi forces are fighting to push back Russian aggression creates more risk for the region.

Comparing the situation to Libya, she said, “we should’ve learned a lesson to be aware and alert of the risks of unintended consequences.”

She said decisions about Ukraine should be debated in the House of Commons instead of coming directly from the Prime Minister’s Office. “Canada under Harper has started being extremely reckless in our foreign policy, by taking sides in conflicts when we don’t understand, really, whose side are we on here?”

Ukraine needs battalion

Republican congressman John Conyers put out a press release Thursday thanking the US House for passing his amendment to this year’s defense appropriations act “to ensure that our military does not train members of the repulsive neo-Nazi Azov Battalion.”

Dominique Arel, chair of Ukrainian studies at the University of Ottawa, told Embassy, “I can’t see Canada training that battalion if the US doesn’t…When it becomes known that the US has just passed that particular resolution, I just can’t see Canada going ahead and ignoring what the Americans are doing.”

He said Azov is one of about 70 militias operating alongside the Ukrainian army. It’s not the only one with neo-Nazi ties. But it has been a crucial force on the front line of the conflict.

“Ukraine cannot afford to let go of that force right now,” said Mr. Arel. “It’s pretty critical in the current configuration…Ukraine could live without a battalion with neo-Nazi insignia. But in reality, the situation on the ground, they can’t really afford that.”

A boldly-worded report from Global Research by University of Ottawa professor Michel Chossudovsky claims Canada is training neo-Nazis and nobody is talking about it because the rhetoric surrounding the conflict has been of the black and white, us-versus-them variety.

Mr. Chossudovsky could not be reached for comment.

For Mr. Arel, reports of neo-Nazi troops operating on the Ukrainian side of the conflict play into the Russian narrative. He says painting all Ukrainian troops with the same brush is “completely ludicrous,” but it can’t be denied that some small number of people fighting for Ukraine are of white supremacist ilk.

According to a Pew Research Centre survey released last week, 44 per cent of Canadians agree NATO should send arms to Ukraine and 75 per cent believe that Western countries should send economic aid to the country.

The above article was originally published by Embassy News, Canada, posted on NewColdWar.org

Copyright embassy News Canada, 2015

Note by New Cold War.org editors:

The Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail published articles earlier this year in support of fundraising in Canada for Ukraine’s extreme-right paramilitary battalions. So far, they are not reporting on the decision of the U.S. Congress on June 11 to deny training and equipping to the Azov Battalion.

The news service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is similarly silent on the U.S. Congress vote. No wonder. For the past 14 months, CBC has been dutifully parroting the version of events in Ukraine which posits a “Russian invasion” of eastern Ukraine and a “Russian annexation” of Crimea. For the CBC, the war by Kyiv on the east of the country and the prominent role of far-right battalions and leaders in that war is an uncomfortable truth that is best censored out of the news.

Days of Palestine, Jerusalem –Extremist Israeli Jews banned on Monday Christian prayer at holy site of Jesus’ Last Supper, calling it “pagan ceremony.”

Witnesses said that clashes erupted between the Israeli Jews and Christians –Palestinian and Israelis– when the Christians wanted to perform their prayer.

The extremist Jews said the Christian worshippers were desecrating their holy site and violating the Jews’ right to pray there, but Vatican representatives denied the claims and referred to the incident as “grave.”

According to witnesses from the area of Mount Zion, where is sacred place is located, such incident is always repeated when extremist Jews undermine Christian prayers in the area.

On Sunday last week, dozens of Jews also attempted to block Christian prayer there for the holiday of Pentecost and were forcibly removed.

“Jews come to pray at Zion, at a holy site, a very internal and intimate place,” extremist Jewish Professor Hillel Weiss told Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth on Sunday. “The priests arrive there to forcibly impose their pagan ceremony, in a place which is sacred to the Jews.”

Weiss argued: “This is an intolerable situation. So it was our full right to ward off the invaders. The Vatican is playing with fire.”

The Mount Zion compound near Jerusalem’s Old City includes, according to religious beliefs, the tomb of King David on the first floor and the room of Jesus’ Last Supper on the second floor.

Israeli newspaper said that David’s Tomb is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Holy Sites and the Last Supper site is under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry. Today Christians are allowed to visit the room, but can only pray in it on two specific days a year.

 

by Peter C Gøtzsche, Allan H Young, John Crace
We could stop almost all psychotropic drug use without deleterious effect, says Peter C Gøtzsche, questioning trial designs that underplay harms and overplay benefits. Allan H Young and John Crace disagree, arguing that evidence supports long term use.  
Psychiatric drugs are responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people aged 65 and older each year in the Western world, as I show below.1 Their benefits would need to be colossal to justify this, but they are minimal.1 23 4 5 6

Summary of Article

For Complete Article 

Overstated benefits and understated deaths

The randomised trials that have been conducted do not properly evaluate the drugs’ effects. Almost all of them are biased because they included patients already taking another psychiatric drug.1 7 8 9 10 Patients, who after a short wash-out period are randomised to placebo, go “cold turkey” and often experience withdrawal symptoms. This design exaggerates the benefits of treatment and increases the harms in the placebo group, and it has driven patients taking placebo to suicide in trials in schizophrenia.8

Under-reporting of deaths in industry funded trials is another major flaw. Based on some of the randomised trials that were included in a meta-analysis of 100 000 patients by the US Food and Drug Administration, I have estimated that there are likely to have been 15 times more suicides among people taking antidepressants than reported by the FDA—for example, there were 14 suicides in 9956 patients in trials with fluoxetine and paroxetine, whereas the FDA had only five suicides in 52 960 patients, partly because the FDA only included events up to 24 hours after patients stopped taking the drug.1

For antipsychotics, I used a meta-analysis of placebo controlled trials in patients with dementia because they would be less likely to have been receiving psychiatric drugs before randomisation. The absolute death …

Peter C Gøtzsche, professor, Nordic Cochrane Centre, Rigshospitalet, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark, Allan H Young, professor of mood disorders, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences, King’s College London, UK,  John Crace, psychiatric patient and parliamentary sketch writer, Guardian, London, UK 

Correspondence to: P C Gøtzsche [email protected], A H Young [email protected]
 Copyright Peter C Gøtzsche, Allan H Young, John Crace, BMJ, 2015

The Pentagon’s New Law of War Manual is Chilling

June 25th, 2015 by Claire Bernish

Just when it seemed the government’s policy language couldn’t get any more paradoxical, self-justifying, and replete with inconsistencies, the Pentagon issued its “Law of War Manual” earlier this month. The manual is meant to dictate legal conduct for service members from all branches during military operations. Though the enormous tome is drier than stale bread, there are plenty of alarming entries—from designating journalists as potential terrorists to allowing the use of internationally banned weapons—which more than warrant a thorough perusal.

This manual is the first comprehensive change made to Department of Defense’s laws of war policy since 1956 and has been in the making for 25 years. One change in terminology directly targets journalists, stating, “in general, journalists are civilians. However, journalists may be members of the armed forces […] or unprivileged belligerents.” Apparently, reporters have joined the ranks of al-Qaeda in this new “unprivileged belligerent” designation, which replaces the Bush-era term, “unlawful combatants.” What future repercussions this categorization could bring are left to the imagination, even though the cited reasoning—the possibility terrorists might impersonate journalists—seems legitimate. This confounding label led a civilian lawyer to say it was “an odd and provocative thing for them to write.”

On a purely surface level, a manual of laws governing the details of how a country behaves in conflict intimates that certain conduct—including that which would violate human rights—is simply unacceptable. Although this is technically, ostensibly true of the Department of Defense’s 1,180 page, single-spaced de facto user guide, its contents belie the United States’ standing as the most arrogantly bellicose government on the planet.

Use of depleted uranium by U.S. forces during the Iraq War and beyond is well-documented and categorically reprehensible—leaving thousands of Iraqi civilians to suffer the consequences well into the future. “What this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II,” admonishedAl-Jazeera journalist Dahr Jamail. He wasn’t exaggerating.

study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found cancer rates due to use of weaponized depleted uranium to be 40 times greater than before the U.S. invasion. Worldwide calls to ban such munitions have not yet been answered—though Belgium, all of Latin America, and Costa Rica have all instituted their own proscriptions in the meantime. As countless individuals reported deformities detailing babies born with missing limbs, two heads, no head, and other profoundly disturbing disfigurations, the fact that the Law of War Manual establishes depleted uranium as an acceptable tool of war puts the U.S. in a position to be rightly condemned.

It is no less than spectacularly ironic that the government touts itself as a champion of human and civil rights while simultaneously stipulating in writing that internationally-prohibited munitions are perfectly justifiable during war—as long as we’re using them, of course. And to make absolutely certain all bases are covered, the precise descriptions of the types of weapons understandably marked “Prohibited,” appear—in name—in the category immediately following: ”Lawful.”

If that weren’t egregious enough, also listed under the heading of “Lawful” are cluster munitions.

These internationally-banned bombs, however, are delineated in the manual as having “Specific Rules on Use”—notably, such weapons’ use may reflect U.S. obligations under international law” [emphasis added]. While this is technically apt, cluster bombs have been banned by the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions—which was agreed to by 116 countries around the world. The U.S. stands out in joining infamous human rights violator, Saudi Arabia, in its refusal to sign. These insidious munitions leave unexploded ordnance for months, or even decades, after the originating bomb was dropped. Children are often maimed or killed when they unwittingly mistake them for toys.

The appearance of cluster munitions at all presents a telling paradox since U.S. policy ostensibly only allows for export.Receiving countries must stipulate that the bombs “will only be used against military targets” with minimal harm to innocent civilians. After reports earlier this month that U.S.-supplied cluster bombs had been used to target Yemeni citizens, the DoD announced it would diligently investigate—and also claimed its export of the insidious weapons would cease as of 2018.

But, if we are to believe this apparent concern holds any truth whatsoever, then why list “cluster munitions” as lawful weapons for U.S. use? Yes, that is a facetiously rhetorical question.

Depleted uranium and cluster munitions are just two examples of many in the manual that actually generate a plethora of questions rather than provide the definitive answers one might expect from the Pentagon’s title. Also found among the listed “lawful” devices are mines, nuclear weapons, booby-traps, herbicides, non-blinding laser weapons, incendiary devices, and fragmentation weapons—and the weapons sections comprise a mere fraction of the voluminous, 6,169-footnoted, document.

Such deftly crafted and contrary language in the Law of War Manual would be head-scratchingly comical—were it not for the very shocking consequences for civilians around the world it ultimately justifies.

Some apologists will predictably point to the manual’s title as reason to declare that the U.S. government has admirable standards it upholds, even in times of war—but, rather fortunately, the number of people who know better grows exponentially every day.

Claire Bernish writes for theAntiMedia.org, where this article first appeared. Tune in! Anti-Media Radioairs Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific.

Psychiatric medications are not only useless, but they’re responsible for killing at least 500,000 people aged 65 years and older every single year. This is the shocking conclusion of a new meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that challenges the widely held belief that antidepressants and dementia drugs are safe and effective for treating mental health issues.

Researchers from Denmark’s Nordic Cochrane Centre broke the disturbing news after poring through loads of published data on this class of drugs and finding that virtually none of it is suggestive of either safety  or efficacy. To the contrary, nearly every placebo-controlled trial used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in justifying the legal prescription of psych meds shows minimal or no benefits.

The paper revealed that virtually every randomized trial ever conducted that involved psych meds failed to properly evaluate the drugs’ effects in users. The “control” groups in these bogus studies, it turns out, were made up of folks who were previously taking other psychiatric drugs, rendering any and all findings moot. And yet these were the very studies that U.S. regulators used to approve such drugs as “safe and effective.”

Patients, who after a short wash-out period are randomized to placebo, go ‘cold turkey’ and often experience withdrawal symptoms,” wrote the paper’s authors. “This design exaggerates the benefits of treatment and increases the harms in the placebo group, and it has driven patients taking placebo to suicide in trials in schizophrenia.

Blatant manipulation of antidepressant clinical trials led to fake results, widespread death

In other words, the companies that produce these psych meds, and who also design the clinical trials used to “test” and approve them, are using human beings as guinea pigs in blatantly corrupt experiments posing as “science.” People are dying left and right not only from these trials, but also from the use of the drugs “tested” in these trials post-approval.

Based on some of the randomised trials that were included in a meta-analysis of 100,000 patients by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, I have estimated that there are likely to have been 15 times more suicides among people taking antidepressants than reported by the FDA,” adds the paper.

[F]or example, there were 14 suicides in 9,956 patients in trials with fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil), whereas the FDA had only five suicides in 52,960 patients, partly because the FDA only included events up to 24 hours after patients stopped taking the drug.

The paper also looked at the effectiveness of antidepressants and came to similarly troubling conclusions – there are none. Based on the findings of multiple studies looking at the effectiveness of several classes of psych meds, Nordic Cochrane Centre researchers discovered that nearly every psych drug on the market showed little benefit while greatly increasing patient death rates.

Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm — by dropping all antidepressants, ADHD drugs, and dementia drugs (as the small effects are probably the result of unblinding bias) and using only a fraction of the antipsychotics and benzodiazepines we currently use,” concludes the paper.

“The would lead to healthier and more long lived populations.

Vaccine industry routinely fakes clinical trials to produce desired outcomes

Sadly, the vaccine industry does the exact same thing with vaccine trials, creating fake “control” groups where participants are given other vaccines rather than a real placebo. The results, consequently, are highly skewed in favor of what the company hopes to achieve – a perfect record of vaccine safety and effectiveness.

And why wouldn’t they do this? These are the same companies that produce dangerous and ineffective psych meds like the kind exposed in the new Nordic Cochrane Centre paper. Eli Lilly and Company, the multinational corporation that manufactures Prozac, which has been exposed as useless and extremely harmful, also manufactures thimerosal, the mercury preservative still used in multi-dose vials of flu vaccine.

And GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the first drug company to hold the patent for Paxil before the drug went generic, manufacturers all sorts of vaccines, including Boostrix (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), Cervarix (HPV), Engerix-B (hepatitis B), Fluarix and Fluarix Quadrivalent (influenza), Flulaval and Flulaval Quadrivalent (influenza), Havrix (hepatitis A), and more.

There is not one double-blind, placebo-controlled study in the history of vaccine development that has ever proven their safety, effectiveness or achievements (unless those achievements have underlined their damage to human health),” warns the International Medical Council on Vaccination.

There are also no controlled studies completed in any country which have objectively proven that vaccines have had any direct or consequential effect on the reduction of any type of disease in any part of the world. Every single study that has ever attempted to validate the safety and effectiveness of vaccines has conclusively established carcinogenic, mutagenic, neurotoxic or fertility impairments, but they won’t address those.

Be sure to check out the book Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare:
http://www.amazon.com

A free chapter from the book is available here:
http://www.radcliffehealth.com

Sources for this article include:

http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h2435

http://rt.com/uk/258133-antidepressants-unnecessary-for-many/

http://www.independent.co.uk

http://www.theguardian.com

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-man-behind-the-vaccine-mystery/

https://www.gsksource.com/pharma/content/gsk/source/us/en/brands.html

http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org

http://www.amazon.com

http://www.radcliffehealth.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/050184_vaccines_Big_Pharma_psychiatric_drugs.html#ixzz3e4oipiFo

The Greek debt is unpayable.  It is simply too large to be repaid.  The austerity that the EU and IMF have imposed on Greece has worsened the problem by driving down the Greek economy, thus making the burden of the debt even heavier.  Despite the obvious fact that the EU’s austerity policy is a failure and cannot succeed, the Greek “debt crisis” drama continues.

A solution was possible at the beginning of the “crisis” prior to the economy being driven down by austerity.  The debt should have been written down to the amount that the Greek economy could service or pay.  This traditional solution was unacceptable to creditors, to the EU, and to the European Central Bank.  As I explained in my book, The Failure of Laissez  Faire Capitalism (Clarity Press, 2013), Greece’s creditors, the EU and the European Central Bank have agendas unrelated to Greece’s ability to pay. The creditors are determined to establish the principle that they can over-lend to a country and force the country to pay by selling public assets and cutting pensions and social services of citizens. The creditor banks then profit by financing the privatization of public assets to favored customers.  The agenda of the EU and the central bank is to terminate the fiscal independence of EU member states by turning tax and budget policy over to the EU itself.

In other words, the Greek “sovereign debt crisis” is being used to create a precedent that will apply to every EU member government.  The member states will cease to exist as sovereign states.  Sovereignty will rest in the EU itself. The measures that Germany and France are supporting will in the end terminate their own sovereignty, very little of which actually remains as they do not have their own currency and their foreign policy is subservient to Washington.

Default and a turn to Russia is the only possible way out for Greece.  The entire world would benefit from this course of action as Greece’s departure from the EU and NATO would begin the unraveling of NATO, Washington’s principal mechanism for creating conflict with Russia.  In the end, all of Europe and the rest of the world would thank Greece for derailing the violence that will result from Washington’s effort to assert hegemony over Russia.

As a Greek default and a turn to the East is the only workable solution for Greece, the EU’s agents inside Greece have launched a huge campaign against a Greek turn to the East.

I fear that the Greek people are too brainwashed to be able to avail themselves of the opportunity to rescue themselves from the clutches of the One Percent, who will drive the Greek population into the ground.  The Greek voters did not have sufficient judgment to give their current government a large enough percentage of the vote for the government to have any credibility with the EU and Greece’s creditors.  What we are witnessing in Greece is the failure of democracy due to the people themselves.

It is a sad day in the fight against Monsanto, GMO labeling, and the future of the planet. The Senate has adopted a law that would give ‘fast-track’ ability for the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a highly secretive bill that could restrict GMO labeling in the United States and abroad. In fact, some legal experts believe it could make GMO labeling completely illegal.

I have been spreading the word about the TPP since I first asked my team members at Natural Society to start writing on it back in 2014. It was then that we told you the secretive truth behind the TPP, writing:

“Just in case you aren’t familiar with The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), they are huge multinational ‘trade’ deals written by corporations, which are being pushed by the White House and many of our politicians in order to support the ongoing monopoly of our food supply. They are toxic, just like the products these companies sell, but you can stop them with a twitter storm and grass-roots activism.”

Now, the TPP ‘fast-tracking’ is in full swing, thanks to the latest Senate vote. Remember, this is an initiative that has been called “The Monsanto Protection Act on Steroids!”

What’s more, the entire system of bills and ‘fast-tracking’ has become extremely confusing to anyone who isn’t following it around the clock. Let me break it down for you.

In a 60-38 vote, the Senate has moved forward with what is being called the ‘Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).’ This measure disallows Congress from making any changes in the legislation written up by the White House when it comes to things like Monsanto, the way corporations are held liable for their actions, and countless other items.

As Food Democracy Now states:

“Just as we are on the verge of winning GMO labeling in the US, these secret negotiations could eliminate the ability of countries around the world to label GMOs or impose common sense restrictions on the sale of genetically engineered seed and food in their countries if Monsanto and other biotech companies get their way. They could also make it illegal to label GMOs in the U.S., placing the decision in the hands of corporate lobbyists and Monsanto GMO stooges.”

Are you going to allow the TPP to stop you from knowing what you’re eating and feeding your families? Now is the time to spread the word about the TPP.

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More than half a century ago, Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy conducted secret negotiations aimed at normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba. Robert Kennedy Jr., nephew of the assassinated President, recounts these events and praises Obama’s policy of rapprochement, which is making his uncle’s “dream” a “reality(1)”.[1]

1. After the October 1962 missile crisis, a conflict that almost led to a nuclear disaster, and its resolution that included the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba and US missiles from Turkey, President John F. Kennedy decided to undertake a process of normalization of relations with Cuba.

2. During his trip to the Soviet Union in 1962, Fidel Castro spoke at length with Nikita Khrushchev about Kennedy. According to the former president’s nephew, “Castro returned to Cuba determined to find a path to reconciliation” with the United States.

3. In 1962, Kennedy commissioned James Donovan, a New York lawyer, and John Dolan, an advisor to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to negotiate the release of the 1500 Bay of Pigs invaders held in Cuba. During his meeting with the Washington emissaries, Fidel Castro made clear his desire to normalize relations with the United States and maintain links based on sovereign equality, reciprocity and non-interference in internal affairs. “My father Robert and JFK were intensely curious about Castro and demanded detailed, highly personal, descriptions of the Cuban leader from both Donovan and Nolan. The US press had repeatedly caricatured Fidel as drunken, filthy, mercurial, violent and undisciplined. However, Nolan told them: “Our impression would not square with the commonly accepted image. Castro was never irritable, never drunk, never dirty.” He and Donovan described the Cuban leader as worldly, witty, curious, well informed, impeccably groomed, and an engaging conversationalist.”

4. The two visitors were also impressed by the popular support the revolutionary government enjoyed: “They confirmed the CIA’s internal reports of Castro’s overwhelming popularity with the Cuban people following their many trips with Castro [throughout the country] and after witnessing the spontaneous ovations he received as he entered baseball stadiums.”

5. John F. Kennedy was aware of the Cuban people’s desire for independence and dignity and “understood the source of the widespread resentment against the United States.”

6. During his meeting with US journalist Lisa Howard, Fidel Castro expressed his “desire” to come to a friendly understanding with the United States.

7. For his part, “JFK began thinking seriously about the resumption of relations with Castro. Any initiative in this direction, however, would find him navigating in troubled waters. The mere mention of détente with Fidel would have the effect of a political bombshell during the run-up to the presidential elections of 1964.”

8. In September 1963, Kennedy charged William Attwood, former journalist and US diplomat to the United Nations with opening “secret negotiations with Castro.”

9. The same month, President Kennedy established “another secret communications channel with Castro through French journalist Jean Daniel.” Before traveling to Cuba to interview the Cuban Prime Minister, Daniel met with JFK in the White House, where he was charged with delivering a message to Castro.

10. “I think Kennedy is sincere. I also think that this expression of sincerity could have political  significance today,” Fidel Castro is said to have replied to Jean Daniel. “He still has the possibility of becoming, in the eyes of history, the United States’ greatest President, the leader who finally understood that coexistence between capitalists and socialists is possible, even on the American continent. This would make him an even greater president than Lincoln.”

11. Fidel Castro, in response to the criticisms of Kennedy who had denounced the alliance with Moscow, pointed out that the US hostility toward the island nation had begun well before Cuba’a rapprochement with the Soviet Union and “well before the appearance of the pretext and alibi of communism.”

12. Nevertheless, the CIA was resolutely opposed to any policy changes vis-à-vis Havana. “For the CIA, détente was nothing less than perfidious sedition.” Adlai Stevenson, then US ambassador to the United Nations, warned President Kennedy: “Unfortunately, the CIA is still in charge of Cuba.” In his opinion, the agency “would never allow a normalization of relations.”

13. “The CIA was aware of JFK’s secret contacts with Castro and sought to sabotage these efforts at achieving peace.”

14. Thus, in April 1963, “CIA agents secretly sprayed a deadly poison on a wetsuit that was supposed to be offered to Castro by James Donovan and John Dolan, JFK’s emissaries. In so doing they hoped to assassinate Castro and accuse JFK of the murder, thereby completely discrediting him and his peace efforts.”

15. According to William Atwood, “the attitude of the CIA was to hell with the President it was pledged to serve.”

16. “Many leaders of the Cuban exile community had expressed their disgust at the ‘betrayal’ of the White House, accusing JFK of engaging in ‘coexistence’ with Fidel Castro [...]. A small number of  hard, bitter homicidal Castro haters now directed their hatred towards JFK and there is credible evidence that these men and their CIA handlers might have been involved in plots to assassinate him.”

17. On April 18, 1963, José Miró Cardona, former Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Government, but by then leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Council, an exile organization created by the CIA, accused Kennedy of treason and warned of the consequences: “There is only one route to follow and we will follow it: violence.”

18. “Santo Trafficante, the Mafia boss and Havana casino czar who had worked closely with the CIA in various anti-Castro assassination plots, informed his Cuban associates that JFK was about to be hit.”

19. The day of  John F. Kennedy’s assassination, November 22, 1963, Fidel Castro was meeting with Jean Daniel, one of JFK’s secret channels to Castro. Upon hearing the news, the Cuban leader turned to the French journalist and said, “Well, it’s the end of your peace mission.”

20. “After the death of JFK, Castro persistently pushed Lisa Howard, Adlai Stevenson, William Attwood and others to ask Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy’s successor to resume the dialogue. Johnson ignored the requests and Castro eventually gave up.”

21. Robert Kennedy, then US Attorney General, also pressured Johnson to continue the talks with Havana, however without success.

22. The brother of assassinated president also criticized the ban on US citizens traveling to Cuba: “The present travel restrictions are inconsistent with traditional American liberties.”

23. Dean Rusk, then Secretary of State, made the decision to exclude Robert Kennedy, too favorable to an agreement with Cuba, from foreign policy discussions.

24. According to William Attwood, “if it were not for the murder, we probably would have opened negotiations and normalized relations with Cuba.”

25. Fidel Castro paid tribute to JFK: “At the moment Kennedy was assassinated, he was changing his policy toward Cuba. To a certain extent, we were honored in having such a rival. He was an outstanding man.”

Castro Kennedy 2

25 vérités de Robert Kennedy Jr. sur les négociations secrètes entre Fidel Castro et le Président Kennedy, June 1st, 2015

Translated from the French by Larry R. Oberg.

Doctor of Iberian Studies and Latin American University of Paris IV-Sorbonne, Salim Lamrani is a senior lecturer at the University of La Réunion, and a journalist specializing in relations between Cuba and the United States.

His latest book is: Cuba, the Media, and the Challenge of Impartiality, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2015; Foreword by Eduardo Galeano, translated by Larry R. Oberg.

Contact : [email protected] ; [email protected]

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

 

 


[1] Robert Kennedy Jr., “JFK’s Secret Negotiations with Fidel”, IPS, January 2015. http://www.ipsnews.net/20155/01/opinion-jfks-secret-negotiations-with-fidel/ (Site consulted April 21, 2015); Robert Kennedy, Jr, “Sabotaging U.S.-Cuba Détente in the Kennedy Era”, IPS, January 6, 2015.  http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/01/opinion-sabotaging-u.s.-cuba-détente-in-the-kennedy-era/  (Site consulted April 21, 2015).

Introducción

El pasado 16 de junio, se procedió a una votación para designar a cuatro jueces de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, en el marco de la Asamblea General de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) reunida en Washington durante esta semana de junio del 2015. Como bien se sabe, los Estados son los que escogen mediante votación quiénes ocuparán este tipo de puestos (candidaturas de personas escogidas a título individual): hay que diferenciar este tipo de candidaturas de otro tipo  en las que lo que se postula es al Estado como tal (candidaturas/país). En el primer caso, la persona escogida una vez en sus funciones, debe mantener una total independencia con respecto al Estado que la designó; mientras que en el segundo caso, el Estado se postula como tal y, una vez escogido, designa a su representante para participar a las sesiones del órgano en el que fue electo. Sobre esta segunda categoría de candidaturas, habíamos tenido la oportunidad de referirnos a un reciente tropiezo de Costa Rica al no obtener su reelección en el seno del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de Naciones Unidas, en octubre del 2014. En aquella oportunidad nos permitimos indicar que, “… esta no reelección debiera también ser entendida como una clara señal invitando a Costa Rica a buscar la forma de recuperar paulatinamente el liderazgo que durante muchos años ostentó en materia de derechos humanos en el ámbito multilateral(Nota 1).  Pese a tratarse de una categoría distinta de candidatura, en el marco hemisférico y no en el de Naciones Unidas, esta elección en el seno de la OEA  realizada en junio del 2015 constituía una puesta a prueba para la diplomacia costarricense.

Como es sabido, el mandato de un juez en la Corte Interamericana es de seis años, prorrogable tan solo una vez. La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, con sede en la capital de Costa Rica, cuenta con siete integrantes: el Artículo 7 del  Estatuto  de la Corte precisa que. “Los jueces son elegidos por los Estados partes en la Convención, en la Asamblea General de la OEA, de una lista de candidatos propuestos por esos mismos Estados“.

Publicidad y discreción de respaldos a una candidatura

Medios de prensa habían anunciado tempranamente  que, según las autoridades de Costa Rica, la jurista Elizabeth Odio Benito, con una amplia trayectoria internacional en materia de derechos humanos (ver  hoja de vida  publicada por la OEA) sería elegida, basándose en una gran cantidad de Estados que, por escrito, habían indicado que sí votarían a su favor. Un medio de prensa indicó (ver  nota  de CRHoy) que: “el canciller Manuel González dijo que a la ex vicepresidenta le han dado su respaldo el gobierno nacional y nueve países más: Brasil, Uruguay, Chile, México, Panamá, Guatemala, Ecuador, Honduras y República Dominicana“. En otra nota de prensa se indicó que la candidatura contaba con el respaldo de 13 votos (ver  nota  de ADN radio), un voto menos que el de la cifra “mágica” para este tipo de ejercicios, según el actual canciller de Costa Rica, de 14 votos (ver  nota  de La Nación). Independientemente de lo que se considere mágico o no, sorprende el hecho que se haya hecho público por parte de las autoridades de Costa Rica la lista detallada de los Estados que mostraron su respaldo a su candidata, ya que esta información se maneja con cierta discreción en aras de evitar exponer a los Estados mencionados: en algunos casos, esta publicidad  (a nuestro modesto juicio indebida) puede incluso ser contraproducente, tal y como ocurrió con el intento de postular al ex canciller de Costa Rica Bernd Niehaus (1990-1994) a la Secretaría General de la OEA en el mismo año de 1994 (ver  nota  de El Tiempo (Colombia) de enero de 1994 y  nota de El Tiempo sobre resultado de la elección a favor de Cesar Gaviria, candidato de Colombia): tanto en el caso de la elección de jueces, comisionados o del mismo Secretario General en el seno de la OEA, las reglas imperantes establecen que se trata de una votación secreta.

Esta discreción se relaciona directamente con el intercambio de apoyos a los que frecuentemente recurren los departamentos de candidaturas de las direcciones de asuntos multilaterales o de derechos humanos de cada uno de los ministerios de relaciones exteriores. Cabe precisar que a menudo este tipo de candidaturas son negociadas por los Estados a cambio de un apoyo por otra candidatura en otra organización internacional. Estos intercambios de favores no se limitan únicamente a candidaturas de nacionales a título individual, sino que incluyen candidaturas/país: por ejemplo, en el 2005, Costa Rica apoyó a Nicaragua para ocupar una silla en el Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas, honrando un compromiso adquirido con Nicaragua al solicitarle votar en junio del 2003 en favor del costarricense Manuel Ventura Robles para ocupar el cargo de juez en la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (ver nota de La Nación): se lee en esta nota de prensa que el canciller de la época “Tovar subrayó que Costa Rica es un país que honra sus compromisos internacionales y, en este sentido, “nuestro país, desde junio de 2003, comprometió su apoyo para Nicaragua en sus aspiraciones de ocupar un puesto no permanente ante el Consejo de Seguridad por América Latina“.  Estos intercambios de votos responden a criterios de oportunidad como parte de una negociación política y debieran únicamente limitarse a intercambios de candidaturas. En el 2004, Costa Rica decidió retirar la solicitud hecha a Nicaragua de apoyar la candidatura de su Ex Presidente, Miguel Angel Rodríguez, al puesto de Secretario General de la OEA, al pedir Nicaragua a cambio una modificación en la reglamentación en materia migratoria (ver  nota  de prensa de La Nación).

En octubre del 2014, las máximas autoridades de Costa Rica debieron explicar las razones por las que Costa Rica votó a favor de Venezuela para una vacante en el seno del Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas (ver  nota  de CRHoy). Los mismos criterios de oportunidad política son los que explican que, a veces, se proceda a retirar candidaturas: recientemente, Costa Rica anunció que retiraba la candidatura de su actual Ministra de Justicia para favorecer la candidatura de un nacional de Guatemala para el cargo de la Secretaría de la Conferencia de Ministros de Justicia de los Países Iberoamericanos (COMJIB)  (ver  nota  de CRHoy). En el 2014, la candidatura de la Ministra de Comercio Exterior de Costa Rica debió ceder ante la ofensiva diplomática a favor del candidato propuesto por Brasil para el puesto de Director General de la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC).

Derechos humanos e idoneidad de candidatos

Con relación a la idoneidad de los candidatos propuestos, cada Estado decide, con base en consideraciones propias, a cuál de sus nacionales postulará. Estas consideraciones se extienden también en materia de candidaturas a cargos en materia de derechos humanos, pese a persistentes reclamos de parte de organismos de la sociedad civil. En el caso de la elección de jueces y comisionados a los órganos del sistema interamericano de derechos humanos, una ONG especializada en el litigio ante el sistema interamericano presentó en el 2005 un informe titulado “Aportes para el proceso de selección de miembros de la Comisión y la Corte Interamericanas de Derechos Humanos” (ver informe de CEJIL, disponible  aquí ). Otra ONG, en el 2013, concluía su informe  (ver  texto  integral) indicando que los principios de transparencia y participación deberían regir este tipo de postulaciones en los siguientes términos: “Sería un avance significativo que los Estados diseñaran procesos internos de evaluación y selección de candidatos y/o candidatas a la Comisión y la Corte inspirados en  aquellos principios de transparencia y participación ciudadana aplicables a la elección de altas autoridades nacionales. Además, estos procesos deben responder a las necesidades del Sistema en un momento determinado y tomar en cuenta la opinión y los puntos de vista de los usuarios del Sistema. Un proceso de búsqueda diáfano y la invitación amplia y abierta para que postulen personas con las más altas calidades personales y académicas, y con la trayectoria profesional que requieren los órganos interamericanos, redundaría en un Sistema más sólido y en una mejor y mayor protección de los derechos humanos en la región“. Estos y muchos otros reclamos de las ONG parecieran no haber encontrado eco alguno en la práctica de los Estados, y no se conoce de concurso de antecedentes público, participativo  y transparente para designar a candidatos realizado en algún Estado miembro de la OEA.

Para estas elecciones del 2015, un panel internacional auspiciado por la Open Society entrevistó a cada uno de los candidatos propuestos, tanto para la Corte como para la Comisión, y analizó su trayectoria, experiencia y sus respuestas con base en los parámetros establecidos en la normativa interamericana aplicable. Este panel de expertos compuesto por Marion Bethel (Bahamas), Belisário dos Santos Jr. (Brasil), Cecilia Medina Quiroga (Chile), Juan Méndez (Argentina), y Naomi Roht-Arriaza (Estados Unidos) publicó su informe final el 2 de junio del 2015 (documento disponible  aquí en su versión integral).

La elección de jueces a la Corte Interamericana

En el caso particular de la elección de jueces del sistema interamericano de derechos humanos, es necesario precisar que bien la OEA cuenta con 34 Estados miembros, únicamente participan en la votación para escoger a los jueces los 23 Estados que son Parte a la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos (CADH, más conocida como Pacto de San José): por ejemplo  Canadá, Estados Unidos, y, desde el 2012, Venezuela, así como Trinidad y Tobago (desde 1998) no participan a esta elección (ver  nota sobre denuncia del Pacto de San José por parte de Venezuela). El estado actual de firmas y ratificaciones, reservas y denuncias a la CADH está disponible en este  enlace oficial  de la OEA y permite apreciar cuán interamericano es el sistema de protección de los derechos humanos vigente en el hemisferio.

La última vez que Costa Rica postuló a un candidato como nuevo integrante de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos fue en junio del año 2003, con la elección de Manuel Ventura Robles, obteniendo en aquella ocasión 20 votos a favor (ver  nota  de La Nación): el juez Manuel Ventura fue reelecto en el 2009. Anterior a ello, fungió como jueza postulada por Costa Rica  Sonia Picado Sotela (1991-1994) y anterior a ella, el primer costarricense en integrar este tribunal (y el primer Presidente del mismo), el jurista Rodolfo Piza Escalante (1979-1989). Notemos que el jurista de nacionalidad norteamericana, Thomas Buergenthal, fue propuesto por Costa Rica como candidato y quedó electo en 1983 juez de la Corte Interamericana (ver artículo del mismo Thomas Buergenthal al respecto, disponible  aquí, en especial pág. 12 en la que indica que pensó inicialmente que se trataba de alguna broma de uno de sus estudiantes).

No todos los Estados han logrado obtener que sus candidatos accedan al cargo de juez en San José. En un reciente estudio sobre la independencia de los jueces de la Corte de San José, se lee que: “Los Estados que han tenido más éxito en el nombramiento de jueces han sido Costa Rica, Colombia y Venezuela (4 jueces cada uno), seguidos de México y Chile. Por contra, otros Estados nunca han conseguido un juez en la Corte, como Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, o Paraguay” (Nota 2).

En algunos casos, los jueces electos optan por postularse para ser reelegidos. El Artículo 54 de la CADH estipula que: “Los jueces de la Corte serán elegidos para un período de seis años y sólo podrán ser reelegidos una vez”.  Es el caso del norteamericano Thomas Buergenthal  (1979-1985 / 1986-1991);  del juez mexicano Héctor Fix Zamudio (1986-1991 / 1992-1997); del juez ecuatoriano Hernán Delgado Pesantes y del  juez chileno Máximo Pacheco Gómez ( ambos 1992-1997 / 1998-2003); de los  jueces de Barbados, Oliver Jackman, Alirio Abreu Burelli (Venezuela) y del juez brasileño Antônio A. Cançado Trindade  (los tres: 1995-2000 / 2001-2006); de los jueces Sergio García Ramírez (México) y Cecilia Medina Quiroga (Chile) (ambos 1998-2003 / 2004-2009); de los jueces Manuel Ventura Robles (Costa Rica) y Diego García-Sayán (Perú) (ambos 2004-2009 / 2010-2015) y del juez chileno Eduardo Vio Grossi (2010-2015, reelecto en junio del 2015).

Algunos jueces, finalizado su mandato, optan por ocupar altos cargos en sus respectivos Estados, como por ejemplo el hondureño Carlos Roberto Reina, Presidente de Honduras (1994-1998) después de haber sido juez de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (1979-1985). En otros casos, algunos  jueces con mayor trayectoria en derecho internacional migran hacia otras jurisdicciones internacionales, como por ejemplo la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ): ello ocurrió con el norteamericano Thomas Buergenthal, electo juez en La Haya en el año 2000 y con el brasileño Antônio A. Cançado Trindade , electo juez de la CIJ en el 2009.

Notemos que el juez peruano Diego García Sayán protagonizó una notoria polémica con sus colegas de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos: al postularse como candidato al cargo de Secretario General de la OEA en el 2014, optó por no renunciar a su puesto, sino que pidió una licencia para poder dedicarse de lleno a su campaña ante los Estados miembros de las OEA. Los cuestionamientos públicos hechos por sus colegas Manuel Ventura y Eduardo Vio Grossi (ver nota de El Comercio) causaron molestia al candidato peruano que finalmente renunció a ocupar el cargo de Secretario General de la OEA, en octubre del 2014. Es la primera vez en la historia de la Corte que uno de sus integrantes pretende ocupar este alto cargo de la OEA y es probable que la condescendencia exhibida por la Corte en algunas de sus sentencias durante su Presidencia (2010-2014) guarden alguna relación con esta inédita pretensión: en un artículo titulado “La Corte García Sayán” publicado en noviembre del 2013 en La Nación (ver artículo) se pudo leer por parte de un activista de derechos humanos que: “Es muy triste que la Corte García-Sayán haya tirado por la borda jurisprudencia construida con el sacrificio de muchos que se han arriesgado para limitar los abusos de las autoridades y de quienes manejan asuntos de interés público”. Más allá de la polémica que ha generado en algunos Estados y círculos especializados el tema de la libertad de expresión y de opinión y su tratamiento en el marco interamericano,  se puede afirmar, en términos generales, que un juez de la Corte no debería postularse para ningún cargo político en el que requiere del apoyo de los Estados miembros de la OEA hasta tanto no haya concluido su mandato de juez: el hacer campaña ante los mismos Estados por parte de quién debe evaluarlos de cara a sus obligaciones en materia de derechos humanos puede resultar sumamente dañino para los derechos humanos y  contribuir a minar un poco más la credibilidad del sistema como tal.
La candidatura de Elizabeth Odio Benito

Durante la cumbre de la Comunidad de Estados de América Latina y del Caribe (CELAC) celebrada en enero del 2015 en Costa Rica, se leyó que Costa Rica “cabildeó” cuatro votos más para garantizar la elección de su candidatura (ver  nota  de La Nación). Recordemos que el 13 de noviembre del 2014 fue cuando Costa Rica formalizó oficialmente la candidatura de Elizabeth Odio Benito, quien fungió como jueza de la Corte Penal Internacional (CPI) entre el 2003 y el 2012 (ver  nota  de La Nación): en aquella ocasión, fue propuesta para integrar la CPI por Panamá, al negarse el entonces Presidente de Costa Rica Abel Pacheco (2002-2006) el apoyar su candidatura en nombre de Costa Rica. Sobre este inusual episodio leemos por parte del ex canciller de Costa Rica Bruno Stagno (2006-2010) que la Misión de Costa Rica ante Naciones Unidas no fue del todo ajena a dicha elección: “El 3 de febrero 2003, Odio Benito fue electa por la AEP para integrar la primera bancada de jueces de la CPI. Por razones estrictamente personales, Odio Benito no había contado con el apoyo oficial de Costa Rica, aunque oficiosamente la Misión Permanente de Costa Rica ante Naciones Unidas tuvo un papel central en la promoción de una candidatura formalmente presentada por Panamá el 25 de octubre 2002. Dado que las intrigas internas que rodearon dicha candidatura no tuvieron relación alguna con la integridad del Estatuto de Roma, basta con resaltar que a partir de la juramentación de los jueces el 11 de marzo 2003, Costa Rica tendría presencia en uno de los tres órganos principales de la CPI. La confusa y esquizofrénica posición de la administración Pacheco de la Espriella en torno a dicha candidatura fue sin embargo premonitora de la actitud que asumiría frente al tema de la defensa del Estatuto de Roma(Nota 3). En aquella oportunidad, de 80 posibles votos para ser designado como integrante de la CPI, la candidatura de Elizabeth Odio reunió a 60 (ver  nota  de La Nación del año 2003), lo cual evidencia la gran pericia con la que la Misión de Costa Rica en la sede de las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York gestionó los apoyos necesarios.

Los resultados obtenidos por la diplomacia costarricense

La candidatura propuesta por Costa Rica para llenar una vacante en el seno de la Corte Interamericana en el 2015 se midió a las candidaturas presentadas por parte de Argentina (Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni), de Ecuador (Patricio Pazmiño Freire), de Chile (reelección solicitada del juez Eduardo Vio Grossi) y del Uruguay (reelección solicitada del juez Alberto Pérez Pérez). Notemos que el contenido de un editorial de La Nación (Costa Rica) del 11 de junio sobre la renovación de la Corte motivó al Embajador de Ecuador en San José a aclarar ante la opinión algunos aspectos relacionados con la trayectoria del candidato del Ecuador en un artículo titulado: “Respuesta al Editorial de La Nación”, (disponible aquí) , publicado el mismo día de la elección del 16 de junio.

Como es costumbre en la OEA, el apoyo de los Estados del Caribe angloparlante es indispensable y se torna en algunas ocasiones decisivo para lograr ser electo a un puesto en el seno de esta organización internacional. Cabe señalar que, además de las otras candidaturas ante citadas, Costa Rica se presentó a esta Asamblea General con una situación un tanto incómoda: lleva ya más de dos años y medio sin cumplir una sentencia firme de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos relacionada a la técnica de Fecundación in Vitro (FIV) (ver breve  nota  sobre decisión de diciembre del 2012 de la Corte Interamericana): precisamente el pasado 10 de junio la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos decidió convocar a audiencia a Costa Rica en el mes de septiembre, a petición de los representantes de las víctimas (ver  nota  de CRHoy).

Pese a estos escollos, en la tarde de este 16 de junio se dieron a conocer los resultados de la votación secreta realizada en el marco de la Asamblea General de la OEA: el candidato de Ecuador logró reunir el número más alto de apoyos, con 22 votos; la candidata de Costa Rica reunió por su parte 20 votos, y el candidato de Argentina 18 votos. Con 20 votos el actual juez chileno fue reelecto, quedando fuera de la contienda el candidato del Uruguay, con tan solo 9 votos.

En una entrevista dada por Elizabeth Odio a La Nación este fin de semana (ver entrevista del 20/06/2015), se informa que Colombia, Nicaragua y Uruguay fueron los tres Estados que no votaron por ella. En el caso de Colombia, declaraciones dadas por la costarricense sobre la incompatibilidad de las leyes de amnistía con las obligaciones emanadas del sistema interamericano parecieran, según la misma Elizabeth Odio, haber sido una posible razón. Según se lee en esta entrevista: “No sé bien. Una vez, en un foro en Colombia, me preguntaron por la posibilidad de una amnistía y yo dije que los crímenes internacionales no pueden ser amnistiados, aunque luego ya estos temas hay que matizarlos. Creo que ahí le entró al gobierno de Juan Manuel Santos algún temor de que en sus loables conversaciones de paz, yo fuera a convertirme en un obstáculo. Es la única razón que encuentro posible”.
En otra votación realizada el mismo 16 de junio, en la que participaron esta vez todos los Estados Miembros de la OEA, se escogieron a los nuevos integrantes de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos. Según el artículo 1 del  Reglamento  de la Comisión, “La Comisión se compone de siete miembros, elegidos a título personal por la Asamblea General de la Organización, quienes deberán ser personas de alta autoridad moral y reconocida versación en materia de derechos humanos“. Los candidatos propuestos por sus respectivos Estados que fueron electos son: Enrique Gil Botero (Colombia) con 26 votos, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño (Panamá) con 25 votos, Margarette May Macaulay (Jamaica) con 25 votos y Francisco Eguiguren Praeli (Perú) con 26 votos. Los candidatos Douglas Mendes (Trinidad y Tobago) y Sandra Soriano Bascopé (Bolivia) no lograron reunir los votos suficientes para integrar la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos al reunir el primero 14 votos y la segunda 17 votos.

Conclusión

Con la elección de la jurista Elizabeth Odio Benito, con una vasta experiencia internacional en materia de derechos humanos, recientemente galardonada con el premio Rodrigo Facio de la Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR)  a iniciativa de la Asociación de Estudiantes de Derecho (AED) de esta misma casa de estudios,  Costa Rica revalida ante América Latina y ante el resto del mundo su trayectoria y compromiso en materia de derechos humanos: estos iniciaron con la designación de Rodolfo Piza Escalante en 1979 como juez costarricense en esta misma jurisdicción regional. Este apego y confianza en el derecho internacional y en la justicia internacional encuentran raíces más profundas, al haber sido Costa Rica el Estado que albergó el primer tribunal internacional permanente en la historia, la Corte de Justicia Centroamericana (1907-1917). Curiosamente, durante la administración del Presidente Oscar Arias Sánchez (2006-2010), el centenario de la Corte de Justicia Centroamericana en el 2007 paso totalmente desapercibido en Costa Rica, y las celebraciones para festejar los 40 años del Pacto de San José (el 22  de noviembre del 2009) fueron objeto de similar tratamiento por parte de las autoridades de Costa Rica.

Más allá de estas extrañas lagunas vividas en años recientes, la designación de Elizabeth Odio Benito puede también contribuir a reposicionar a Costa Rica en el ámbito multilateral, e intentar, por ejemplo, obtener nuevamente la membresía  en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de Naciones Unidas, luego del tropiezo sufrido en el 2014 ante las candidaturas de Bolivia, El Salvador y Paraguay.

No obstante, la designación de esta reconocida jurista costarricense también implica para Costa Rica redoblar de esfuerzos para cumplir con las obligaciones internacionales que derivan de los instrumentos internacionales de derechos humanos y acatar sin más preludios la última sentencia de la Corte Interamericana en materia de FIV dictaminada en diciembre del 2012 contra Costa Rica. Un desafío impostergable ante el rezago acumulado desde muchos años por parte del Estado costarricense en materia de derechos humanos, y que evidencian las repetidas audiencias ante la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en las que Costa Rica compareció en los últimos años (Nota 4). Aunado a estas audiencias en la esfera interamericana, las recurrentes visitas in situ de expertos y relatores independientes de Naciones Unidas en materia de derechos humanos en Costa Rica en los últimos cinco años (Nota 5) son también un claro indicador de una peligrosa deriva que, en materia de derechos humanos, exhibe Costa Rica de cara a sus obligaciones internacionales.

Nicolas Boeglin 

Notas

Nota 1: Véase nuestro breve análisis BOEGLIN N., “Bolivia, El Salvador y Paraguay electos en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos”, Derechoaldia, 23/10/2014, disponible aquí.

Nota 2: Véase TORRES PÉREZ A., “La independencia de los Tribunales Internacionales de Derechos Humanos: El caso de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos”, pp.14-15, artículo publicado en España, disponible aquí.

Nota 3: Véase STAGNO B., “Defendiendo la integridad del Estatuto de Roma: los altos y bajos del caso de Costa Rica, 2002-2008“, Universidad para la Paz, 2012, texto disponible  aquí.

Nota 4: Sobre las últimas medidas cautelares ordenadas por la Comisión Interamericana a Costa Rica, véase BOEGLIN N., “Pueblos indígenas en Salitre: las medidas cautelares solicitadas a Costa Rica por la CIDH”, Derechoaldia, 16/05/2015, disponible aquí; de igual forma remitimos al lector a nuestro artículo publicado por la Red Internacional de Derechos Humanos (RIDH) con relación a la última audiencia ante este órgano sobre  los efectos de la producción de la piña en las comunidades de la región de Siquirres en Costa Rica.

Nota 5: Sobre la última visita de un experto independiente de Naciones Unidas a Costa Rica, véase BOEGLIN N., “Informe de Naciones Unidas sobre Ambiente y Derechos Humanos en Costa Rica”, Tribuglobal, 14/05/2014, disponible aquí.

 

Nicolas Boeglin:  Profesor de Derecho Internacional Público, Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR)

This article written 9 years ago discusses the evolution of the Middle East War. The US-NATO design involves a timeline of military interventions. The ongoing wars on Syria, Iraq and Yemen are part of a military roadmap which is ultimately directed against Iran.

In the wake of the 2006 war on Lebanon,  Israel announced plans to wage a pre-emptive “full-scale war” against Iran and Syria, implying the deployment of both air and ground force. These war plans in 2006-2007 were said to be at the top of the defense agenda as confirmed in a September 2006 Sunday Times report (highlights added): 

“Israel is preparing for a possible war with both Iran and Syria, according to Israeli political and military sources.”

(…)

“The challenge from Iran and Syria is now top of the Israeli defense agenda, higher than the Palestinian one,” said an Israeli defense source. Shortly before the war in Lebanon Major-General Eliezer Shkedi, the commander of the air force, was placed in charge of the “Iranian front”, a new position in the Israeli Defense Forces. His job will be to command any future strikes on Iran and Syria.” (…)

In the past we prepared for a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities,” said one insider, “but Iran’s growing confidence after the war in Lebanon means we have to prepare for a full-scale war, in which Syria will be an important player.” (Sunday Times, 3 September 2006)

The aerial bombing plans have been fully operational (“in an advanced state of readiness”) since June 2005. The various components of the military operation are firmly under US Command, coordinated by the Pentagon and US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska.

Today, US-NATO in liaison with Israel are waging a broader war in the Middle East while also deploying troops and military hardware in East Europe on the border with Russia.

The issue is not whether the war will inevitably take place but what are the instruments at our disposal which will enable us to shunt and ultimately disarm this global military agenda. What is required is a grass roots antiwar network, a mass movement at national and international levels, which challenges the legitimacy of the main military and political actors, as well as their corporate sponsors, and which would ultimately be instrumental in unseating those who rule in our name.

Michel Chossudovsky, June 24, 2015

*      *     *

Israel’s war on Lebanon is an integral part of a US sponsored “military roadmap”.

The war on Lebanon, which has resulted in countless atrocities including the destruction of  the nation’s economy and civilian infrastructure, is ”a stage” in a sequence of carefully planned military operations.

Lebanon constitutes a strategic corridor between Israel and North-western Syria. The underlying objective of this war was the militarization of Lebanon, including the stationing of foreign troops, as a precondition for carrying out the next phase of a broader military agenda.

Formally under a UN mandate, the foreign troops to be stationed on Lebanese soil on the immediate border with Syria, will be largely although not exclusively from NATO countries. This military force mandated by the UN Security Council is by no means neutral. It responds directly to US and Israeli interests.

Moreover, the timely withdrawal of Syrian troops, following the  February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has contributed to opening up a “new space”. The withdrawal of Syrian troops served Israeli interests.  The timely pullout was of strategic significance: it was a major factor in the timing and planning of the July 2006 IDF attacks on Lebanon.

In the aftermath of the Israeli bombings and the “ceasefire”,  UN Security Council Resolution 1701, drafted by France and the US in close consultation with the Israeli government, has paved the way for the militarization of Lebanon, under a bogus UN mandate.

The Next Phase of the Middle East War

Confirmed by official statements and military documents,  the US in close coordination with Britain (and in consultation with its NATO partners),  is planning to launch a war directed against Iran and Syria. US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton has already initiated the draft of a UN Security Council resolution with a view to imposing sanctions on Tehran for its alleged (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program. Whether this resolution is adopted is not the main issue. The US may decide to proceed in defiance of the Security Council, following a veto by Russia and/or China. The vote of France and Britain, among the permanent members has already been secured.

US military sources have confirmed that an aerial attack, pursuant to a sanctions regime on Iran, with or without UN approval, would involve a large scale deployment comparable to the US “shock and awe” bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003:

American air strikes on Iran would vastly exceed the scope of the 1981 Israeli attack on the Osiraq nuclear center in Iraq, and would more resemble the opening days of the 2003 air campaign against Iraq. Using the full force of operational B-2 stealth bombers, staging from Diego Garcia or flying direct from the United States, possibly supplemented by F-117 stealth fighters staging from al Udeid in Qatar or some other location in theater, the two-dozen suspect nuclear sites would be targeted.

Military planners could tailor their target list to reflect the preferences of the Administration by having limited air strikes that would target only the most crucial facilities … or the United States could opt for a far more comprehensive set of strikes against a comprehensive range of WMD related targets, as well as conventional and unconventional forces that might be used to counterattack against US forces in Iraq

(See Globalsecurity.org at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iran-strikes.htm

The aerial bombing plans have been fully operational (“in an advanced state of readiness”) since June 2005. The various components of the military operation are firmly under US Command, coordinated by the Pentagon and US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska.

In November 2004, US Strategic Command conducted a major exercise of a “global strike plan” entitled “Global Lightening”. The latter involved a simulated attack using both conventional and nuclear weapons against a “fictitious enemy” [Iran]. Following the “Global Lightening” exercise, US Strategic Command declared “an advanced state of readiness”.

The operational implementation of the Global Strike is called CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022. The latter is described as “an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,’

The command structure of the operation is centralized and ultimately The Pentagon will decide on the sequence; ” if and when” to launch military operations against Iran and Syria. Israeli military actions and those of other coalition partners including Turkey, would be carried out in close coordination with the Pentagon.

Ground War

While the threat of punitive aerial bombardments of Iran’s nuclear facilities have been announced repeatedly by the Bush administration, recent developments suggest that an all out ground war is also under preparation.

CONPLAN constitutes only one component of the Middle East military agenda. CONPLAN 8022 does not contemplate a ground war. It posits “no boots on the ground”, which was the initial assumption envisaged in relation to the proposed aerial attacks on Iran.

US and Israeli military planners are fully aware that the aerial “punitive bombings” will almost inevitably lead coalition forces into a ground war scenario in which they will have to confront Iranian and Syrian forces in the battlefield.

Tehran has confirmed that it will retaliate if attacked, in the form of ballistic missile strikes directed against Israel as well as against US military facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf, which would immediately lead us into a scenario of military escalation and all out war.

Iranian troops could cross the Iran-Iraq border and confront coalition forces inside Iraq. Israeli troops and/or Special Forces could enter into Syria.

The foreign troops stationed in Lebanon under UN mandate would respond to the diktats of the US led coalition and the prior commitments reached with Washington and Tel Aviv in the context of the various military alliances (NATO-Israel, Turkey-Israel, GUUAM, etc).

War Games

These military preparations have also been marked, quite recently, by the conduct of war games.

In late August, Iran was involved in the conduct of war games in major regions of the country, including border areas with Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Iran’s Defense Minister General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar has confirmed the deployment of enhanced military capabilities including weapons systems and troops on the Iranian border:  “[Iranian] forces are supervising all movements by trans-regional troops and their agents around the Iranian borders” (FARS news, 2 September 2006)

Iran War Games August 2006.

Barely acknowledged by the Western media, military exercises organized by Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan under the Collective Security Treaty Organization, (CSTO) were also launched in late August. These war games, officially tagged as part of a counter terrorism program, were conducted in response to US-Israeli  military threats in the region including the planned attacks against Iran. (See Michel Chossudovsky, August 2006). In turn, China an Kazakhstan held concurrent war games under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Azerbaijan and neighboring Georgia have close military ties to Washington. Both countries are part of GUUAM, a military alliance with the US and NATO.

Turkey is a close ally of Israel. Since 2005, Israel has deployed Special Forces in the mountainous areas of Turkey bordering Iran and Syria with the collaboration of the Ankara government:  Pakistan is also a close ally of the US and Britain. Georgia also has a military cooperation agreement with Israel.

Meanwhile, the USS Enterprise, America’s largest aircraft carrier is en route to the Persian Gulf.

Map; Copyright Eric Waddell, Global Research 2003. Click to enlarge.


US Troop Build-up

US troops in Iraq have been increased to 140,000 as confirmed by recent Pentagon statements (Reuters, 2 September 2006) These plans have been coupled with a the compulsory recall of “inactive servicemen” as well as the expansion of mercenary forces. (Mahdi Darius Namzaroaya, August 2006)

The Pentagon justifies the troop build-up as part of a “routine” process of replacement and rotation, required in its ongoing war against “terrorists” in Iraq. The speeding up of military recruitment is also occurring in the core countries of the Anglo-American coalition including Great Britain.  Australia and Canada  (see also Recruiting Canada).  Canada and Australia are aligned with the US. Australian Prime Minister John Howard as well as Canada’s Steven Harper have confirmed their commitment to the US-Israeli war and have promised an expansion of the armed forces in their respective countries.

Meanwhile British troops stationed in Iraq have been redeployed to the Iranian border in southern Iraq. This redeployment has been casually presented by Britain’s Ambassador to Iraq as part of a “crack down on smuggling and the entrance of weapons into Iraq from Iran”.

While British officials are maintaining no desire or preparations for a conflict with Iran, more British troops are being mobilized and deployed to Iraq at the same time. The Light Infantry of the 2nd Battalion, another unit with rapid deployment capabilities, is deploying to the southern Iraqi border with Iran. The 2nd Battalion is being sent to Iraq under the pretext of working in the Rear Operations Battle Group which will provide escorts for military convoys and security for British forces and bases in Basra. (See Mahdi Darius Namzaroaya, August 2006)

The Role of Israel

In the wake of the war on Lebanon. Israel’s military plans and pronouncements are increasingly explicit. Tel Aviv has announced plans to wage a pre-emptive “full-scale war” against Iran and Syria, implying the deployment of both air and ground force. These war plans are now said to at the top of the defense agenda:

“Israel is preparing for a possible war with both Iran and Syria, according to Israeli political and military sources.”

(…)

“The challenge from Iran and Syria is now top of the Israeli defense agenda, higher than the Palestinian one,” said an Israeli defense source. Shortly before the war in Lebanon Major-General Eliezer Shkedi, the commander of the air force, was placed in charge of the “Iranian front”, a new position in the Israeli Defense Forces. His job will be to command any future strikes on Iran and Syria.”

(…)

In the past we prepared for a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities,” said one insider, “but Iran’s growing confidence after the war in Lebanon means we have to prepare for a full-scale war, in which Syria will be an important player.”

(…)

As a result of the change in the defense priorities, the budget for the Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza is to be reduced.” (Sunday Times, 3 September 2006)

Media Disinformation

The Western media is beating the drums of war.

The Sunday Times views Israel’s war plans as legitimate acts of self defense, to prevent Tehran from launching an all out nuclear attack on Israel:   “Iran and Syria have ballistic missiles that can cover most of Israel, including Tel Aviv. An emergency budget has now been assigned to building modern shelters.”

The fact that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons capabilities as confirmed by the IAEA report does not seem to be an issue for debate.

Media disinformation has contributed to creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. The announcement on August 10 by the British Home Office of a foiled large scale terror attack to simultaneously blow up as many as ten airplanes, conveys the impression that it is the Western World rather than the Middle East which is under attack.

Realities are twisted upside down. The disinformation campaign has gone into full gear. The British and US media are increasingly pointing towards  “preemptive war” as an act of “self defense” against Al Qaeda and the State sponsors of terrorism, who are allegedly preparing a Second 911.

The underlying objective, through fear and intimidation, is ultimately to build public acceptance for the next stage of the Middle East “war on terrorism” which is directed against Syria and Iran.

The antiwar movement has also been weakened.

While China and Russia will oppose the US led war at the diplomatic level as well as at the UN Security Council, Washington has secured the support of France and Germany. While Russia and China have military cooperation agreements with Iran, they would most probably not intervene militarily in favor of Iran.

NATO is broadly supportive of the US led military agenda. In February 2005, NATO signed a military cooperation agreement with Israel.

Nuclear Weapons against Iran

The use of tactical nuclear weapons by the US  and Israel against Iran, is contemplated, ironically in retaliation for Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

Tactical Nuclear Weapons: B61-11 NEP Thermonuclear Bomb

The Bush administration’s new nuclear doctrine contains specific “guidelines” which allow for “preemptive” nuclear strikes against “rogue enemies” which “possess” or are “developing” weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  (2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations (DJNO)).

CONPLAN 8022, referred to above, is ‘the overall umbrella plan for sort of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.’

‘It’s specifically focused on these new types of threats — Iran, North Korea — proliferation and potentially terrorists too,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing that says that they can’t use CONPLAN 8022 in limited scenarios against Russian and Chinese targets.’(According to Hans Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project, quoted in Japanese economic News Wire, op cit)

The mission of JFCCSGS is to implement CONPLAN 8022, in other words to trigger a nuclear war with Iran.

The Commander in Chief, namely George W. Bush would instruct the Secretary of Defense, who would then instruct the Joint Chiefs of staff to activate CONPLAN 8022.

The use of nuclear weapons against Iran would be coordinated with Israel, which possesses a sophisticated nuclear arsenal.

The use of nuclear weapons by Israel or the US cannot be excluded, particularly in view of the fact that tactical nuclear weapons have now been reclassified  as a variant of the conventional bunker buster bombs and are authorized for use in conventional war theaters. (“they are harmless to civilians because the explosion is underground”).

In this regard, Israel and the US rather than Iran constitute a nuclear threat.

The World is at a Critical Crossroads

The Bush Administration has embarked upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. This is not an overstatement. If aerial bombardments were to be launched against Iran, they would trigger a ground war and the escalation of the conflict to a much broader region. Even in the case of  aerial and missile attacks using conventional warheads, the bombings would unleash a “Chernobyl type” nuclear nightmare resulting from the spread of  nuclear radiation following the destruction of Iran’s nuclear energy facilities.

Throughout history, the structure of military alliances has played a crucial role in triggering major military conflicts. In contrast to the situation prevailing prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, America’s ongoing military adventure is now firmly supported by the Franco-German alliance. Moreover, Israel is slated to play a direct role in this military operation.

NATO is firmly aligned with the Anglo-American-Israeli military axis, which also includes Australia and Canada. In 2005, NATO signed a military cooperation agreement with Israel, and Israel has a longstanding bilateral military agreement with Turkey.

Iran has observer status in The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and is slated to become a full member of SCO. China and Russia have far-reaching military cooperation agreements with Iran.

China and Russia are firmly opposed to a US-led military operation in the diplomatic arena. While the US sponsored military plan threatens Russian and Chinese interests in Central Asia and the Caspian sea basin, it is unlikely that they would intervene militarily on the side of Iran or Syria.

The planned attack on Iran must be understood in relation to the existing active war theaters in the Middle East, namely Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon-Palestine.

The conflict could easily spread from the Middle East to the Caspian sea basin. It could also involve the participation of Azerbaijan and Georgia, where US troops are stationed.

Military action against Iran and Syria would directly involve Israel’s participation, which in turn would trigger a broader war throughout the Middle East, not to mention the further implosion in the Palestinian occupied territories. Turkey is closely associated with the proposed aerial attacks.

If the US-UK-Israeli war plans were to proceed, the broader Middle East- Central Asian region would flare up, from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Afghan-Chinese border. At present, there are three distinct war theaters: Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine-Lebanon. An attack directed against Iran would serve to integrate these war theaters transforming the broader Middle East Central Asian region into an integrated war zone. (see map above)

In turn the US sponsored aerial bombardments directed against Iran could contribute to triggering  a ground war characterized by Iranian attacks directed against coalition troops in Iraq. In turn, Israeli forces would enter into Syria.

An attack on Iran would have a direct impact on the resistance movement inside Iraq. It would also put pressure on America’s overstretched military capabilities and resources in both the Iraqi and Afghan war theaters.

In other words, the shaky geopolitics of the Central Asia- Middle East region, the three existing war theaters in which America is currently, involved, the direct participation of Israel and Turkey, the structure of US sponsored military alliances, etc. raises the specter of a broader conflict.

The war against Iran is part of a longer term US military agenda which seeks to militarize the entire Caspian sea basin, eventually leading to the destabilization and conquest of the Russian Federation.

The Pentagon’s Second 911

The economic and political dislocations resulting from this military agenda are far-reaching.

If the attacks directed against Iran and Syria were to proceed, martial law and/or a state of emergency could be declared in the US and possibly Britain on the pretext that the homeland is under attack by Iran sponsored terrorists. The purpose of these measures would essentially be to curb the antiwar movement and provide legitimacy to an illegal war.

The Pentagon has intimated in this regard, in an official statement, that another [9/11] attack could create both a justification and an opportunity to retaliate against some known targets [Iran and Syria]“. In a timely statement, barely a few days following the onslaught of the bombing of Lebanon, Vice President Cheney reiterated his warning: “The enemy that struck on 9/11 is fractured and weakened, yet still lethal, still determined to hit us again” (Waterloo Courier, Iowa, 19 July 2006, italics added).

Reversing the Tide of War

The issues raised in this article do not imply that the war will take place. What the analysis of official statments and military documents confirms is that:

a) the war is part of a political agenda;

b) military plans to launch an attack on Iran and Syria are “in an advanced stage of readiness”.

War is not an inevitable process. War can be prevented through mass action.

The issue is not whether the war will inevitably take place but what are the instruments at our disposal which will enable us to shunt and ultimately disarm this global military agenda.

War criminals occupy positions of authority. The citizenry is galvanized into supporting the rulers, who are “committed to their safety and well-being”. Through media disinformation, war is given a humanitarian mandate.

The legitimacy of the war must be addressed. Antiwar sentiment alone does not disarm a military agenda. High ranking officials of the Bush administration, members of the military and the US Congress have been granted the authority to uphold an illegal war.

The corporate backers and sponsors of war and war crimes must also be targeted including the oil companies, the defense contractors, the financial institutions and the corporate media, which has become an integral part of the war propaganda machine.

There is a sense of urgency. In the weeks and months ahead, the antiwar movement must act, consistently, and address a number of key issues:

1. The role of media disinformation in sustaining the military agenda is crucial.

We will not succeed in our endeavours unless the propaganda apparatus is weakened and eventually dismantled. It is essential  to inform our fellow citizens on the causes and consequences of the US-led war, not to mention the extensive war crimes and atrocities which are routinely obfuscated by the media. This is no easy task.  It requires an  effective counter-propaganda program which refutes mainstream media assertions.

It is essential that the relevant information and analysis reaches the broader public.   The Western media is controlled by a handful of powerful business syndicates. The media conglomerates which control network TV and the printed press must be challenged through cohesive actions which reveal the lies and falsehoods.

2. There is opposition within the political establishment in the US as well as within the ranks of the Armed Forces.

While this opposition does not necessarily question to overall direction of US foreign policy, it is firmly opposed to military adventurism, including the use of nuclear weapons. These voices within the institutions of the State, the Military and the business establishment are important because they can be usefully channeled to discredit and ultimately dismantle the “war on terrorism” consensus.  The broadest possible alliance of political and social forces is, therefore, required to prevent a military adventure which in a very real sense threatens the future of humanity.

3. The structure of military alliances must be addressed. A timely shift in military alliances could potentially reverse the course of history.

Whereas France and Germany are broadly supportive of the US led war, there are strong voices in both countries as well as within the European Union, which firmly oppose the US led military agenda, both at the grassroots level as well within the political system itself.

It is essential that the commitments made by European heads of government and heads of State to Washington be cancelled or nullified, through pressure exerted at the appropriate political levels. This applies, in particular, to the unbending support of the Bush adminstration, expressed by President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The weakening of the system of alliances which commits Western Europe to supporting the Anglo-American military axis, could indeed contribute to reversing  the tide. Washington would hesitate to wage a war on Iran without the support of France and Germany.

4. The holding of large antiwar rallies is important and essential. But in will not in itself reverse the tide of war unless it is accompanied by the development of a cohesive antiwar network.

What is required is a grass roots antiwar network, a mass movement at national and international levels, which challenges the legitimacy of the main military and political actors,
as well as their corporate sponsors, and which would ultimately be instrumental in unseating those who rule in our name. The construction of this type of network will take time to develop. Initially, it should focus on developing an antiwar stance within existing citizens’ organizations (e.g. trade unions, community organizations, professional regroupings, student federations, municipal councils, etc.).

5. 9/11 plays a crucial and central role in the propaganda campaign. 

The threat of an Al Qaeda “Attack on America” is being used profusely by the Bush administration and its indefectible British ally to galvanize public opinion in support of a global military agenda.

Revealing the lies behind 911 would serve to undermine the legitimacy of the “war on terrorism”.

Without 911, the war criminals in high office do not have a leg to stand on. The entire national security construct collapses like a deck of cards.

Known and documented, the “Islamic terror network” is a creation of the US intelligence apparatus. Several of the terror alerts were based on fake intelligence as revealed in the recent foiled “liquid bomb attack”. There is evidence that the several of the terrorist “mass casualty events” which have resulted in civilian casualties were triggered by the military and/or intelligence services. (e.g Bali 2002).

The “war on terrorism” is bogus. The 911 narrative as conveyed by the 911 Commission report is fabricated. The Bush administration is involved in acts of cover-up and complicity at the highest levels of government.

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international best seller “The Globalization of Poverty “ published in eleven languages. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization. His most recent book is America’s “War on Terrorism”, Global Research, 2005.

To order Chossudovsky’s book  America’s “War on Terrorism”, click here

Note: Readers are welcome to cross-post this article with a view to spreading the word and warning people of the dangers of a broader Middle East war. Please indicate the source and copyright note.

The following texts by Michel Chossudovsky provide detailed analysis of the US war plans:

Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon  2006-08-06

The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil – 2006-07-26

Israeli Bombings could lead to Escalation of Middle East War -  2006-07-15

Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust? -  2006-02-22

The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear War – 2006-02-17

Nuclear War against Iran – 2006-01-03

Israeli Bombings could lead to Escalation of Middle East War – 2006-07-15

Iran: Next Target of US Military Aggression -  2005-05-01

Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran – 2005-05-01

Speech at the 19th St Petersburg International Economic Forum’s plenary session. Photo: TASS

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, friends,

It is a pleasure to welcome you all to this International Economic Forum in St Petersburg, a city which throughout its history has always been a symbol of Russia’s openness and desire to draw on the best of world practice, cooperate, and move forward together.

First of all, I would like to thank all of the politicians and businesspeople attending this forum for their interest and confidence in our country. Ladies and gentlemen, friends, we see in you serious long-term partners, and it is for this reason that, as is tradition, we always speak with frankness and trust at the St Petersburg Forum about our achievements and new possibilities, and also, of course, about the problems and difficulties we encounter, and the tasks we are still working on.

I saw many of you here a year ago. Over this last year, the global and Russian economies have changed, and in some areas, these changes have been very dramatic. Russia’s economy now faces restricted access to the global capital market, and then there is the drop in prices for our main export goods, and the small decrease in consumer demand, which had previously been an impetus for economic growth. True – here, I agree with the participants in the yesterday’s discussions at the forum – demand is starting to recover again now.

Looking at energy prices, on which our economy is still very dependent, unfortunately, I remind you that the average price for Urals brand oil in 2013 was $107.9 a barrel. In 2014, it dropped to $97.6 and over January-May this year, was at $56 a barrel. According to Rosstat [Russian Statistics Agency], Russia’s GDP contracted by 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, and industrial output was down by 1.5 percent over January-April 2015.

What I want to note, however, is that by the end of last year, as you know very well, people were predicting that we were in for a very deep crisis. This has not happened. We have stabilised the situation, absorbed the negative short-term fluctuations, and are now making our way forward confidently through this difficult patch. We can do this above all because our economy had already built up sufficient reserves to give it the inner solidity it needs. We still have a positive trade balance and our non-raw materials exports are increasing.

Let me give a few examples to illustrate these words. Physical volumes of non-raw materials exports increased by 17 percent over the first quarter of 2015, and exports of high value-added goods came to nearly $7 billion in the first quarter, which is up by nearly 6 percent in value terms and by 15 percent in terms of the physical volumes.

We have kept inflation under control. Yes, it did spike following the ruble’s devaluation, but this trend then slackened off. We saw prices go up quite sharply over the first three months of the year (by 3.9 percent in January, 2.2 percent in February, and 1.2 percent in March), but in April, inflation rose by only 0.5 percent. That the trend is decreasing now is clear. We can see this.

Our budget is stable. Our financial and banking systems have adapted to the new conditions and we have succeeded in stabilising the exchange rate and holding on to our reserves. Let me stress too that we did not resort to any restrictions on the free movement of capital, just as was the case in 2008 and 2009.

The federal budget deficit in January-May 2015 came to 1.48 trillion rubles, which represents 3.6 percent of our GDP. We expect that the deficit will reach 3.7 percent of GDP for the year as a whole. This is in line with the budget law currently in force.

Our gold and currency reserves, which I just mentioned, come to more than $300 billion. I was speaking with Elvira Nabiullina [Governor of the Central Bank] just before, and, according to my information, our reserves came to $361.6 billion as of June 5. They are very slightly lower now, because some money has been used.

At the same time, the Government Reserve Fund came to $76.25 billion or 5.5 percent of our GDP as at June 1, 2015. Our second reserve fund, the National Welfare Fund, had reserves of $75.86 billion, again, 5.5 percent of GDP.

We have prevented a jump in unemployment, which currently stands at 5.8 percent of the active population. I remind you that during the 2008–2009 crisis, the unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent. The imposition of sanctions forced us to considerably step up our import replacement efforts. We have made significant progress in a number of areas and have achieved some notable results. We have tremendous potential in our engineering and petrochemicals sectors, in light industry, the processing sector, pharmaceuticals, and a number of other sectors. Our agriculture sector’s results are a clear example of what we can achieve.

Of course, we still have a lot of work to do in this sector too, but our dairy production, for example, was up by 3.6 percent over January-April 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. Production of butter increased by 8.7 percent, cheese by slightly more than 29 percent, fish and fish products by 6 percent, and meat by 12–13 percent. The import replacement programme’s aim is not to close our market and isolate ourselves from the global economy. We need to learn how to produce quality, competitive goods that will be in demand not just here in Russia, but on the global markets too. Ultimately, our goal is to make fuller and more effective use of our internal resources to resolve our development tasks.

Let me repeat the point that we are responding to the restrictions imposed from outside not by closing off our economy, but by expanding freedom and making Russia more open. This is not a slogan; this is the substance of our actual policies and of the work that we are doing today to improve the business environment, find new partners, open up new markets, and take part in big integration projects. I note that more than 60 companies with foreign participation have started up practical operations in Russia over just this last year alone. Right now, while this forum is taking place, several companies are opening their doors, including here in St Petersburg. There is a pharmaceuticals company, a company producing gas turbines as a joint venture with foreign partners, and so on.

I want to thank all of our partners who, despite the current political problems, continue to work in Russia, invest their capital and technology, and establish new businesses and create new jobs here. Friends, thank you very much.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The timely measures that we took to support our economy and financial system have worked overall. Now, we are once again concentrating our focus on resolving the systemic tasks on our long-term development agenda. Our task is to ensure sustainable growth, make our economy more effective, raise labour productivity, and bring in new investment. Our priorities are to improve the business climate, train the specialists we need for the economy and public administration, and education and technology. I would like to say a few more words about each of these issues.

Let me start with improving the business climate and making Russia’s jurisdiction more competitive. Our aim is to offer the freest and most predictable and favourable conditions and opportunities for investors. We want to make it profitable to invest in Russia. We set the firm goal for the coming four years of settling tax rates that will remain stable and not increasing the tax burden on business so that companies can plan their work for the medium term.

We will stick to these decisions no matter what the external situation or the burden on our budget. You can see from the figures I cited just before that our reserves are sufficient for us to be able to carry out these policies. At the same time, we are creating new incentives for new developing companies. In this respect, let me remind you that we decided to introduce tax holidays for individual entrepreneurs, offer small and medium-sized business special tax regimes that significantly reduce their tax burdens, and give tax breaks to greenfield industrial companies.

Yesterday, I discussed with the heads of our industrial companies a number of issues that we most certainly do face. The proposal was made to offer tax breaks of this kind not just to greenfield projects, but to all new investment. We will certainly examine these proposals. Let me add, that capital and assets returning to Russia from abroad are also exempted from tax payments, and their owners are fully guaranteed from any kind of prosecution.

At the same time, we will take steps to make Russian companies and their offices abroad more transparent. We have already made the necessary amendments to our laws. Let me stress that these provisions are fully in keeping with the decisions made by the G20, FATF and other international organisations.

Furthermore, as part of our national entrepreneurial initiative, we have thoroughly updated the federal laws regulating conditions for doing business. The authorities and the regulatory and supervisory agencies are changing their approach to working with businesspeople. It is becoming more comprehensible, open and transparent. Let me note that starting in 2016, small businesses that have never had any serious violations of the rules in the past will be freed from inspections for a three-year period.

We realise, of course, that for our national jurisdiction to be competitive, we need to keep moving ahead and make constant improvements. At the same time, we also need to analyse the effectiveness of the measures we have already taken. This makes it particularly important to have effective channels for getting feedback from business. I therefore ask the Agency for Strategic Initiatives and the main business associations to analyse how the laws are enforced and study the best practice around the world, and if need be, propose new decisions.

The national regional investment climate rating also has a very big part to play. The rating is not a goal in itself of course, but will provide a working instrument for identifying and spreading best practice in the regions to the country as a whole. Incidentally, the initiative to develop this rating came from our main business associations. What distinguishes this project is that the businesspeople themselves assess the state of the business climate, the quality of public administration and so on.

More than 200,000 businesspeople throughout Russia have taken part in the surveys this year. Some of the positive examples have already been mentioned during the discussions here, but I would like to take the opportunity to name them once again. I think this is worth it. They include Kaluga Region, Tatarstan, Belgorod Region, Tambov Region, Ulyanovsk Region, Krasnodar Territory, Rostov Region, Kostroma Region, Republic of Chuvashia, and Tula Region. As I said, this rating will be a tool for helping to improve the quality of management at all levels of power. This is one of the key areas for our development today.

In this regard, the first point I want to make is that we need to develop a whole class of public administrators who know how to work flexibly, take a modern approach, and understand business’ needs when it comes to the business climate and the public administration system overall. A mechanism for ongoing improvement of public management personnel will be one of the most important steps in work in this area. We also plan to establish a centre for exchanging best practice in public administration and developing the business climate in the regions at one of our top universities. This centre will be a good platform not just for improving qualifications, but also for exchanging experience, coming up with new ideas, and developing horizontal ties between the members of different regional management teams.

Second, I think it would be a good idea to set up special headquarters – project offices, if you will – in each region. They will become a kind of managing office for development, helping to introduce the best mechanisms for creating a favourable investment climate. A comfortable business environment is one of the essential conditions for developing a mass of small and medium-sized businesses working in the non-raw materials sectors. This is a real road forward to economic diversification and job creation.

Our goal is for small and medium-sized businesses to conquer the domestic market and develop their export potential. We will therefore develop close coordination between the institutions for supporting industry and stimulating exports. They include the recently set up Industrial Development Fund, the Far East Development Fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, project financing mechanisms, and also the Russian Export Centre, where Russian companies can receive a whole range of services to support their goods on markets abroad.

Also, following a proposal from the business community, we are setting up a corporation to develop small and medium-sized business. Businesses will be able to obtain all of the necessary financial, legal and methodological support, including help in getting access to public procurement tenders and tenders by state-owned enterprises. Essentially, we are consolidating the support mechanisms for small and medium-sized business and we hope that this will bring us real results.

Friends, anyone who wants to take the lead in the world today has to put their focus on leaders in business, management, and, of course, developing technology and education. We have done a lot to strengthen our country’s scientific and technology resource base, bolster cooperation between the scientific community, the education sector, and industry, and get new developments into practical implementation in actual production.

Over the near future, we will undertake an extensive technological upgrading of our companies in the raw materials and non-raw materials sectors and in agriculture. From 2019, a new technical regulation system and strict environmental standards will encourage gradual transition to the best available technology. Essentially, companies will be required by law to modernise and carry out ongoing technological development. One of our most important tasks today is to give our companies incentives to invest in developing technology here in Russia. I ask the Government to propose additional decisions in this area.

We also need to make an inventory of the current mechanisms for supporting applied research and getting new developments into practical use. We need to look at how the incentives, including tax breaks, are working. As for the development institutions, they need to focus clearly on facilitating our technological modernisation efforts.

We are launching projects that will provide our companies with a powerful technological resource base not just for today but also for tomorrow. Our technological planning horizons are broadening substantially. Russian companies must take key positions in sectors and markets that will shape the economic future and the way of life of people in 20–30 years’ time, like the way the IT sector has dramatically changed our own lives over these last 20 years.

To achieve these goals, we have launched the national technology initiative, with the participation of prominent scientists and the high-tech business sector. This is a long-term project, of course, but within the next 2–3 years, we should already have new scientific laboratories, new companies, and educational programmes for training personnel able to handle the most modern tasks and work with the latest technology.

There is another very important area I want to mention. At the recent congress held by Delovaya Rossiya, one of our biggest business associations, the idea came up of organising an effective system for foreign technology transfers. We have successful experience of foreign technology transfers in the pharmaceuticals, automotive, and consumer goods manufacturing industries. It is important to give this work a systemic basis and get the development institutions’ resources involved. I ask the Government and the business associations to draft specific additional proposals on this matter, including on establishing the optimum format for cooperation between the authorities and business in the area of technology transfers.

We realise, of course, that the quality of our education system will play a decisive part in developing our country and making it more competitive. Our colleagues from foreign investment companies, who I met with yesterday, said the same thing. Training for specialists must prepare them not only for today’s demands but also take into account the best global practice and the development prospects for new technology and markets.

Our young people, students and schoolchildren, have won the most prestigious competitions in technical and scientific fields. To give just one very recent example, students from St Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics have proven repeatedly that they are unrivalled in the world today. This year, the university’s team once again confirmed its absolute leadership and was a long way ahead of the world’s top programming schools. The university’s team is the only team in the world to have won the student programming championships six times. I want to congratulate the team once again on this success.

A lot depends, of course, on the heads of the universities. We need new leaders here, people with deep knowledge of production, people who know industry’s needs and follow the technological development trends. Our companies propose that we build up a reserve of management personnel for universities training our engineering and technical specialists. I think this is a good proposal and we should carry it out. At the same time, the business community should be more active in universities’ supervisory boards and boards of trustees and should work closely with teaching staff and take part in their training and ongoing education programmes. This is in business’ own interests.

Modernising and improving the quality of secondary vocational education and giving it stronger links to actual production are very important tasks. Many regions are already actively implementing with success a programme of dual education that combines time spent in actual companies with theoretical training. It is no coincidence that the regions that have made the greatest progress in developing their secondary vocational education systems are also the leaders in the regional rating and overall are demonstrating rapid socioeconomic growth.

The engineering professions and the trades require very high levels of skills today. This requires us to develop a modern system of professional standards. The employers and business associations are also playing a big part in this work through the Presidential National Council for Skills and Qualifications.

I think we need to summarise our experience, combine our efforts and build an integral system for training personnel, taking the best world practice into consideration. This system should cover every link, from additional education opportunities for developing children’s skills in technical fields, to secondary vocational education, higher education in engineering, and national and international competitions for the various trades.

Another important areas of our work for the coming years is developing mechanisms for accompanying and supporting talented children so as to help them develop their potential in full and achieve success here at home, in Russia. As you know, we are launching one such project. It is underway now in Sochi. This is the Sochi centre for children from throughout the country who show exceptional talent in sport, the arts, and science. This will be another important part of the Sochi Olympic legacy.

The global economic development map is changing literally before our eyes. Asia-Pacific Region nations such as China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN nations already account for one quarter of the global economy. Over the next decade, it is these markets that will become the primary source of growth in global demand for goods and services. With all the fluctuations occurring in the world – political and economic – this trend is inevitable. It makes sense that together with our Eurasian Economic Union partners, we strive to improve ties with the APR, eliminating barriers to trade and investment. This year, the Eurasian Economic Union signed its first free-trade zone agreement with Vietnam. Russian companies will be able to supply a whole range of goods duty free.

We are broadening our cooperation with the People’s Republic of China in the interest of creating a common economic space. This May, we signed a joint statement on combining the development of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt. In essence, we are talking about new approaches to cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and China, about broadening cooperation and implementing major joint infrastructure projects, about simplifying trade, and strengthening cooperation through various financial instruments.

Strengthening partnership with APR states is a highly important element of our work to develop Russia’s Far East. We are creating the most free and comfortable conditions possible for placing capital and launching production. Investors will get unique opportunities to work on the Russian market and, importantly, a good base for direct access to the broad, growing APR market. Even now, priority development areas are being created in the Far East with a whole range of tax and other benefits.

We are launching a system of state support for major investment projects. At the same time, we are prepared to offer even more flexible and advanced mechanisms. The Government has already prepared a draft law on creating a free port in Vladivostok. The draft law applies to all key ports in Primorye, from Zarubino to Nakhodka, and 13 districts that are home to about 75% of the territory’s residents.

Free port residents will receive ample benefits. These are not just tax benefits, but also a simplified visa regime, the implementation of a free customs zone, and simplified border control procedures. This September, the first Eastern Economic Forum will be held in Vladivostok, which will include a detailed presentation of our proposals to foreign investors.

I want to repeat again that we strive to cooperate with everyone – everyone who is ready to work on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and wants to implement mutually beneficial projects. I am confident that the trade and economic partnership with Latin American nations and BRICS states also holds enormous potential. The BRICS summit coming up in early July in Russia will certainly contribute to broadening our business contacts.

I want to stress that active cooperation with the new centres of global growth does not in any way mean that we intend to give less attention to the dialogue with our traditional western partners. I am confident that this cooperation will certainly continue.

Ladies and gentlemen, Russia is open to the world, to economic, scientific and humanitarian cooperation, and contacts with civil society and business representatives from around the world. I am confident that this policy, this dialogue, is in our common interest and it will help maintain the trust that serves as the foundation for our work together.

We face major challenges and we will develop, enter new markets, create modern technology, and implement large-scale projects. We will do it together with entrepreneurs, citizens and new leaders who are ready to work for Russia and for its development. That is why we are absolutely sure of our success.

Thank you for your attention.

<…>

American television talk show host and journalist Charlie Rose: We will have an in-depth discussion on a number of economic issues that were raised with our business representatives.

Mr President, I would like to begin by saying that it is a pleasure to be here in your home city, the place where you began your political career. This is also a historically important city – Russia was born here as an empire. This is a very important place.

There are some very serious issues that can be resolved only if Russia takes action, if you take part. We are talking about economic policy, foreign policy, Ukraine, the Baltic states, Europe, Syria, Iran, China, and Russia. There are very many questions, there are problems, and there are conflicts. Russia has to play its part in finding solutions to many problems. There is the issue of borders, the issue of Russia and Ukraine. Could you help us understand as you see it: where are we? How did we get there and where do we go from here?

Vladimir Putin: First, I would like to thank you for agreeing to work with us today and moderate this meeting. This forum is called the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. I would like us to focus on economic issues. However, I would agree with you that without resolving a number of acute critical situations it is hard to move along in the economic sphere.

We have discussed the developments in Ukraine on numerous occasions, and I understand that this is unavoidable. However, you know, we either keep talking about Ukraine all the time, or a few years ago we were talking about the crisis, say, in Iraq and some other countries. We keep talking about things that already happened, but we never discuss why they happened. And if you do want to talk about this and it does seem important, I would prefer to begin with precisely that.

Why did we arrive at the crisis in Ukraine? I am convinced that after the so-called bipolar system ceased to exist, after the Soviet Union was gone from the political map of the world, some of our partners in the west, including and primarily the United States, of course, were in a state of euphoria of sorts. Instead of developing good neighbourly relations and partnerships, they began to develop the new geopolitical space that they thought was unoccupied. This, for instance, is what caused the North Atlantic block, NATO, to go east, along with many other developments.

I have been thinking a lot about why this is happening and eventually came to the conclusion that some of our partners seem to have gotten the illusion that the world order that was created after World War II, with such a global centre as the Soviet Union, does not exist anymore, that a vacuum of sorts has developed that needs to be filled quickly. I think such an approach is a mistake. This is how we got Iraq, and we know that even today there are people in the United States who think that mistakes were made in Iraq. Many admit that there were mistakes in Iraq, and nevertheless they repeat it all in Libya. Now they got to Ukraine.

We did not bring about the crisis in Ukraine. There was no need to support, as I have said many times, the anti-state, anti-constitutional takeover that eventually led to a sharp resistance on the territory of Ukraine, to a civil war in fact.

Where do we go from here? I would not like to get too deep into the subject here. Today we primarily need to comply with all the agreements reached in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. I would like to reiterate that we would never have signed this document if there had been anything we were not satisfied with. Now that it happened and we signed it, we will work to achieve its full implementation.

At the same time, I would like to draw your attention and the attention of all our partners to the fact that we cannot do it unilaterally. We keep hearing the same thing, repeated like a mantra – that Russia should influence the southeast of Ukraine. We are. However, it is impossible to resolve the problem through our influence on the southeast alone. There has to be influence on the current official authorities in Kiev, which is something we cannot do. This is a road our western partners have to take – those in Europe and America. Let us work together.

Charlie Rose: What do you want from the Kiev Government, what should they do?

Vladimir Putin: We do not want anything. The people of Ukraine should want the Ukrainian government to do something, or not to do.

We believe that to resolve the situation we need to implement the Minsk agreements, as I said. The elements of a political settlement are key here. There are several.

The first one is constitutional reform, and the Minsk agreements say clearly: to provide autonomy or, as they say decentralisation of power, let it be decentralisation. This is quite clear, our European partners, France and Germany have spelt it out and we are quite satisfied with it, just as the representatives of Donbass are. This is one component.

The second thing that has to be done – the law passed earlier on the special status of these territories – Lugansk and Donetsk, the unrecognised republics, should be enacted. It was passed, but still not acted upon. This requires a resolution of the Supreme Rada – the Ukrainian Parliament, which is also covered in the Minsk agreements.

Our friends in Kiev have formally complied with this decision, but simultaneously with the passing by the Rada of the resolution to enact the law they amended the law itself – article 10, I believe, which practically renders the action null and void. This is a mere manipulation, and they have to move from manipulations to real action.

The third thing is a law on amnesty. It is impossible to have a political dialogue with people who are threatened with criminal persecution. And finally, they need to pass a law on municipal elections on these territories and to have the elections themselves. All this is spelled out in the Minsk agreements, this is something I would like to draw your attention to, and all this should be done with the agreement of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Unfortunately, we still see no direct dialogue, only some signs of it, but too much time has passed after the Minsk agreements were signed. I repeat, it is important now to have a direct dialogue between Lugansk, Donetsk and Kiev – this is missing. Finally, they have to begin the economic recovery of these territories, of course.

I would like to repeat something I have already said many times: the excuse that ‘we do not have the money’ does not work here. If the current authorities in Kiev believe that this is Ukrainian territory inhabited by Ukrainian citizens who have the right to receive, say, disability benefits or the pensions that they earned under the existing Ukrainian law, the Kiev authorities cannot refuse to pay, they simply have no right to do so. They are violating their own constitution. All this has to be done, and not in words, but in practice.

Charlie Rose: As you may know, the United States of America believe that you are arming the separatists, you encourage them, you engage the Russian Armed Forces to fuel the conflict. There is strong concern that this could lead to a new cold war.

Vladimir Putin: You know, it is not local conflicts that cause a cold war, but global decisions – like the withdrawal of the United States from the antimissile defence treaty. This is a step that pushes us all towards a new spiral in the arms race because it changes the global security system.

As for regional conflicts, the conflicting sides seem to always – and I stress, always find weapons. This is true of eastern Ukraine as well.

I would like to say that if this situation is resolved by political means, no weapons will be necessary, but it does require goodwill and a desire to enter into direct dialogue, and we will assist in this. What we cannot do and would never agree to is for someone somewhere, anywhere, to proceed from a position of force, first using the police (they call it militia there), then special services, and then the armed forces.

Before the army units and the so-called battalions – armed nationalist units – appeared on those territories, there were no weapons there; and there still would have been none had they tried to resolve the situation by peaceful means right from the start. Weapons appeared there only after they started killing people using tanks, artillery, multiple launch rocket systems and aviation. That gave rise to resistance. Once an attempt is made to resolve the issue by political means, the weapons will be gone.

Charlie Rose: What are the acceptable borders for Ukraine, for Russia? What borders do you find acceptable?

Vladimir Putin: What do you mean when you speak of borders: geographical borders, political borders?

Charlie Rose: Political borders.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding cooperation, we have always said and continue to say – there is nothing new here – that with all the current difficulties, I have always thought that Russians and Ukrainians are one people, one ethnic group, at least; each with their own peculiarities and cultural characteristics, but with a common history, a common culture and common spiritual roots. Whatever happens, in the long run Russia and Ukraine are doomed to a common future.

We have proceeded right from the start from the idea that Ukraine has the right to make its own choice – civilizational, political, economic or any other. It is no secret – we all know that Russia actually initiated the disintegration of the Soviet Union and providing sovereignty to all these countries. Nothing has changed since then. However, apart from the ties I mentioned earlier, ones that took shape over decades, very specific things in the present hold Russia and Ukraine together: we have a common engineering infrastructure, a common energy infrastructure, a common transportation infrastructure, common regulations and so on and so forth. We are held together by the ability to speak the same language. Now, this has to do with Russia and our interests.

We have always proceeded from the notion that we will resolve everything, even disputes, by means of negotiations – and it is only natural for neighbours to have disputes. However, if some third parties get involved in these negotiations, we expect them to take our interests into account as well, rather than simply offer us a choice. If you are asking what we expect in the political sense – we expect a comprehensive, trust-based and equal dialogue.

Charlie Rose: I would like to get back to Ukraine, but let us talk about Russia’s relations with a whole number of countries, including the United States and China. Characterise the relationship with the United States: what’s wrong with it? What’s right with it? What does it need?

Vladimir Putin: In other words, where we have some positive developments and where we have problems.

I will begin with the problems. The problem is that we are being forced to accept other’s standards and solutions without consideration for our understanding of our own interests. We are actually being told that the United States knows best what we need. Let us decide what our interests and needs are ourselves, proceeding from our own history and culture.

Charlie Rose: How exactly is the United States trying to decide what you need?

Vladimir Putin: By interfering in our internal political processes, including by means of funding the non-public sector, by imposing international security decisions.

For instance, I already mentioned the issue we came across first – Iraq, and this immediately cooled off our relations. Do you remember the statement ‘If you are not with us, you are against us’? Do you call this dialogue? This is an ultimatum. You should not use ultimatums when talking to us.

Now over to the things that unite us – these do exist. We are united by the desire to eventually combat common threats, including terrorism, the expansion of drug threat and a very dangerous tendency towards the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. There are also issues of humanitarian interaction, like combatting severe infections that hit entire regions of the world. There are issues dealing with the global economy, and this has to do with the sector that we have a direct significant influence on – energy. There are also other spheres where we are cooperating quite successfully and I expect that this would serve as the basis that would make it possible for us to restore our previous relations with the United States and move on.

As for the People’s Republic of China, the level, nature and confidence of our relations have probably reached an unprecedented level in their entire history. For 40 years – I would like everyone to hear this – for 40 years we have been negotiating border issues. We found compromises and solutions; we met each other halfway and closed the issue. 40 years! We have not managed to resolve these issues with all countries. Besides, we are developing economic ties, we are actively cooperating within international organisations and the United Nations Organisation.

We are creating new unions that are developing quite actively and are becoming attractive to many other countries: this is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, for instance. It was initially created to resolve border issues after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, but it then developed and now it is an organisation that other countries would like to join. Most probably at the coming summit in Ufa (our next summit is in Bashkiria) we will decide to accept India and Pakistan. We are also developing other forms of cooperation – BRICS, for instance.

In my address, I spoke of the integration of our efforts within the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Route Economic Belt. In other words, we are developing our relations in this area too. China is our major trade and economic partner. Our relations are developing very effectively.

Charlie Rose: Some say this is a natural relationship because China has the cash and Russia has natural resources, so there is a natural affinity right there.

Vladimir Putin: You should read what American analysts write. I am sure you do and are only pretending not to. American analysts, politologists and economists say the United States is also turning towards China. China is a growing economy. If anyone has any concern over a decrease in their growth rates, the First Deputy Chairman of the State Council of China said that 7 percent is the highest economic growth in the world in any case.

Not only Russia. Why? The whole world is looking at Asia, and Europe is also looking for opportunities to develop relations, while for us this does come naturally – we are neighbours and this is a natural affinity. Besides, there are certain values that we jointly uphold on the international arena quite successfully, like equal access to resolving key international issues.

Charlie Rose: Is it a more natural affinity than Europe and the United States? Is China more in the future a place that Russia feels more comfortable with than Europe or the United States? And could that lead to some anti-western alliance?

Vladimir Putin: Anti-western?

Charlie Rose: Anti-western, anti-American.

Vladimir Putin: There is no country, including China, against which we or China, as far as I understand China’s policy, would build our policy. We do not form alliances ‘against’, we build alliances in favour of things – in favour of implementing our national interests.

I would like to stress: you are expanding the North Atlantic bloc, NATO. The Soviet Union no longer exists, while the bloc was set up to counterbalance the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is gone, the Warsaw Treaty is gone, while NATO not only exists, it is expanding. You are doing it, while China and we are not creating any blocs, we do not have a bloc mentality, we are trying – and successfully, it seems – we are trying to think globally, not only sharing responsibility, but also trying to find mutually acceptable solutions and compromise. We never proceed from the position of force. We always search for solutions, solutions within the process of negotiations.

Charlie Rose: We have read much about you and your country; there are three things that I constantly see. One is a sense of warning to be respected, another is to have an equal conversation, a third is a sense, perhaps in your history, a great concern about borders and having a buffer zone for Russia. Am I accurate in that?

Vladimir Putin: You know, I hear this all the time: Russia wants to be respected. Don’t you? Who does not? Who wants to be humiliated? It is a strange question. As if this is some exclusive right – Russia demands respect. Does anyone like to be neglected? It is actually not about respect or the absence thereof – we want to ensure our interests without in any way harming our partners. However, we are counting on a constructive, direct and substantive dialogue. When we see an absence of dialogue or an absence of desire to talk to us, this naturally causes a certain response.

I will tell you an interesting story that has to do with the so-called eastern partnership that our colleagues in Western Europe are promoting. This idea, incidentally, is actively supported in the United States as well. Our first reaction to the idea of an eastern partnership was quite positive. Why? Because we proceeded from the notion that Russia and the East European countries are held together by a thousand ties, including economic ones. These are common technical regulations, as I said, common infrastructures and so on. Therefore, we proceeded from the idea that if Europe started working with them, pulling them in in some way, this would inevitably lead to some constructive interaction with Russia. And we would work together. We would argue over some things, agree on others, but we would be arriving at some common solutions that would allow us to build a new economic and, eventually, humanitarian and political space.

Unfortunately, none of this ever happened. How did the crisis in Ukraine that you began with occur: Ukraine was offered to sign the association agreement. Wonderful. However, everyone knows that Ukraine is a member of the free trade zone within the CIS (which Ukraine, actually, wanted to get established). This zone offers lots of preferences and benefits.

It took us 17 years to negotiate the terms of our accession to the WTO. Now, in one move, they decided to enter the customs territory of the Russian Federation through Ukraine. Is that the way things should be done? And when we suggested holding consultations, we were told it was none of our business. Is that the way issues should be resolved, specifically where Russia is concerned?

What has trust got to do with it? This is not about trust – it is about having our interests taken into consideration.

Charlie Rose: Let me talk about a couple of places where there is a dramatic need for cooperation between the United States and Russia. One is Iran and the nuclear negotiations and the P5+1. Do you think there will be an agreement? And what kind of agreement do you want to see?

Vladimir Putin: First, I want to stress what I see as the essential point here, namely that we have a common understanding with all participants in this process, including the United States and European countries, and Iran itself, I hope, on the fact that we all categorically oppose the spread of weapons of mass destruction. This is our position of principle and it is this that enables us to work constructively with the United States in this area.

We are very pleased to see that the Iranians have also changed their position considerably, which has made it possible to reach the agreements we have today. We most certainly support these agreements. The only thing that I think would be counterproductive would be to deliberately undermine the agreements by putting demands on Iran that it cannot fulfil and that are not relevant to the main issue – the issue of non-proliferation. I hope, though, that things will not reach this point and we will sign the agreement soon. I think that [Foreign Minister] Sergei Lavrov knows better than me when it will be signed.

Sergei Lavrov: When it is ready.

Vladimir Putin: I ask, “When can we sign it?”, and he says, “When it is ready.”

Our diplomats always talk this way. (Laughter)

I think the signing will take place soon. I met yesterday with the Director General of the IAEA, and what is most important of all here is that after the signing, the process of executing these agreements must begin, and this will take approximately six months.

Just as important though, is for your country, the United States, to take a positive attitude towards these agreements and give them your support, to secure Congress’ support. We know the discussions currently taking place in the United States, and we know that the President has the power to sign these agreements himself, meaning they do not need to be ratified. This is not our affair and we cannot decide it. There are issues we cannot decide for the authorities in Kiev, and there are matters we cannot decide for the authorities in Washington. The ball is therefore in your court. But we hope that the US President will achieve a result that will most certainly go down as one of the biggest foreign policy achievements of his presidency.

Charlie Rose: But do you believe that this agreement will go ahead, given what Mr Lavrov just said?

Vladimir Putin: I do, and we are working towards this. We think it is absolutely essential to defuse the situation. It is equally important, though, for all of the regional powers to have the assurance that they will not end up confronting a worsening situation in the region or face threats. This is the situation we absolutely have to avoid. I stress that Russia seeks to develop good-neighbourly and friendly relations with Iran and with all the countries in this region.

Charlie Rose: I have another foreign policy question before we turn to the economy and the issues a number of speakers raised.

Syria is another matter very much on our minds today. Do you see any solution to the current situation? Russia supports Bashar al-Assad’s government and has done so for many years. Iran also supports Assad’s government. It seems as though the pendulum is swinging this way and that. What possible solution do you see? How can we end this terrible civil war that has created millions of refugees? When can we find a solution?

Vladimir Putin: The sooner, the better. Let me repeat that our position on this issue is based on the fear that Syria could descend into the same kind of situation as what we see in Libya or in Iraq.

You know, after all, that before the state authorities and Saddam Hussein himself were destroyed, there were no terrorists in Iraq. Let’s not forget this. People prefer not to talk about this today, but is it really so hard to see who created the conditions for terrorism to flare up in these places? After Iraq was invaded, the old authorities were all sent fleeing or were destroyed, and Saddam was hanged. And then we ended up with the Islamic State.

Look at what is happening in Libya. It has ceased to exist as a state and is in the process of total disintegration. Even US diplomats have suffered losses there. We know the tragic events that took place there. The main issue, as we see it, is that we do not want to see Syria take this same road. This is our main motivation for supporting President Assad and his government. We think this is the right position. It would be difficult to expect us to take any other line. Moreover, I think that many would agree with our position on this issue.

I mentioned Iraq several times. We know what is going on there. The United States supports Iraq, supports, arms and trains the Iraqi army. In two or three attacks, the Islamic State captured so many weapons, more than the Iraqi army probably even has. This includes armoured vehicles and missiles, though the general public is poorly informed about all of this. This was all just recently. The Islamic State is now better armed than the Iraqi army. And this has all happened with the United States’ support.

The United States supposedly withdrew from Iraq, but our special services and the information we receive from Iraq itself indicate that thousands of US service personnel are still in Iraq. The results are deplorable and tragic.

We do not want all of this to repeat itself in Syria. We call on our partners in the United States and Europe, but above all in the United States, of course, to make greater efforts to fight this absolute evil that is fundamentalism, the Islamic State and similar groups that essentially all have their roots in the well-known global terrorist organisations that have already launched repeated attacks against the United States itself. Our call is for political settlement, which should, of course, guarantee the regime’s transformation, and we are ready to discuss this matter with President Assad too.

The UN just recently declared the importance of working together with President Assad to fight the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. We are ready to work with the [Syrian] President to ensure that the political transformation process can go ahead so that all people in Syria feel that they have access to the instruments of power, and in order to put an end to this armed confrontation. But we cannot achieve this from outside and through the use of force. This is the real issue.

Charlie Rose: All right, but are you ready to call on President Assad to step down if this would make an alternative political solution possible or would help to fight the Islamic State, say?

Vladimir Putin: Our moderator is a real American. I said, “without outside intervention”, and he asks me if we are “to call on President Assad to step down?” Only the Syrian people can do this. How can we ignore such basic things as this? As I just said, we are ready to engage in dialogue with President Assad about carrying out political reforms together with the healthy opposition forces. I think this is constructive and realistic.

CharlieRose: Mr President, let’s come back to the economy. I have many questions. Here, we have Ronny Chichung Chan of Hang Lung Properties investment company, Mahmood Hashim Al-Kooheji, general director of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, and also president of YPF Argentina, Miguel Galuccio, with whom we will talk about energy. We all heard a lot about China here today. What opportunities do you see for building more profitable cooperation between China and Russia?

President of Investment Company Hang Lung Properties Ronny Chan: As the President [Vladimir Putin] said, I think the economy is the key area for cooperation between China and Russia. As a businessman, I think that Russia and China are a match made in heaven. Russia is rich in natural resources, whereas China lacks natural resources but is growing fast. China has capital for buying natural resources. From an economic point of view, it would be hard to find two countries that complement each other better.

The only remark I want to make is that I am sure that President Putin has a strategic vision for Russia’s relations with China, but Mr President, I am not so sure about your business community. I am not so sure that your businesspeople are ready to make use of the advantages the Chinese market offers. Just take a look around. How many Chinese are there here in the audience? I feel quite alone here on the stage. How many Russians are there in China? I don’t even know. Talking to my Russian friends about all of this over the last couple of days, I came to the conclusion that people here still see Asia as a place they would like to get hold of, but they are not ready to go and commit themselves economically there.

President Putin said just now that China is one of the world’s big economic powers today. Mr President, I would like the business leaders present here today to show more readiness to engage in practical work with us. You mentioned financing, for example, which is essential for many Russian projects. Many companies are registered in Hong Kong, because the Hong Kong market is linked to the Shanghai market, and will soon be linked to the Shenzhen market too. The Shanghai stock exchange is the fifth-biggest in the world, the Hong Kong exchange is in sixth place, and Shenzhen is number eight. If we combine these three exchanges, we get the second biggest securities market in the world. Why not have Russian companies register in Hong Kong? This would help them in their work with China. I think this would be an excellent opportunity, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: I agree with my colleague that we need to give Russian-Chinese economic relations concrete substance and projects. I think too that we need to do this not just in big business, but also develop ties at the level of small and medium-sized businesses, so as to weave a natural and living fabric for working together in all different production sectors.

In terms of individual countries, though, China is our number one trading partner. Our bilateral trade comes to $85 billion. Yesterday, I spoke about this with the First Vice Premier [Zhang Gaoli], and I discuss it regularly with President Xi Jinping. I think that over the coming years, we could take our trade to a figure of $200 billion.

All of what you said just now is absolutely correct. We must proceed without haste, of course, take things carefully and ensure all the necessary conditions. This goes for both us and our Chinese partners. I said in my opening remarks that we do not place any restrictions on free movement of capital. Even during the difficult crisis of 2008 and 2009, and last year too, we did not restrict capital exports in any way. But we hope that our partners will offer the same conditions. The yuan is becoming an increasingly stronger regional currency. We all see that this is happening. But experts know that there is not enough free movement of capital. If steps in this direction go ahead, this will be major progress towards liberalising our relations.

We understand very well that our Chinese partners also have to take a cautious approach, and they are the better judges of what measures they should take. The decision to carry out payments for our trade operations in our national currencies – the yuan and the ruble – is already a big step towards deepening and expanding our relations. The first yuan-ruble trading took place just recently, and we are sure that this will continue and develop, and will create new opportunities for work in the real sector of the economy.

Overall, I agree with you. We need to keep moving in this direction and we shouldn’t focus just on agreements at the government level and just on decisions made by the sovereign funds and so on. Of course, this is all important, too, and creates a platform for broader format work. We are working on this and we will continue in this direction.

Thank you.

Charlie Rose: Thank you. Next, we have Mr Mahmood Hashim Al-Kooheji, the general director of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company. What investment opportunities do you believe exist in Russia, and what questions do you have?

General director of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company Mahmood Hashim Al-Kooheji: Please allow me to thank you, Mr President, for organising this forum and for inviting me to attend, because this gives us an opportunity to meet our partners in Russia.

Mumtalakat is Bahrain’s sovereign fund. Like other sovereign funds, we have the opportunity to invest throughout the world. We feel that it is imperative to have sustainable growth and there should be potential for investments that will give us long-term stability and interest.

We have investments in Europe, the United States and other regions. We are currently considering and analysing opportunities to invest in Russia. When you ask me about the Russian economy, I think that it is very promising and it has a very solid foundation. The reason I think this is because the Russian economy has a highly trained workforce, a highly educated workforce within the country. In addition, it has the necessary resources that support this workforce – this has been brought up extensively. So the Russian economy is a very large market, which makes it much simpler for us to find a niche. These three components allow us to feel confident that investments in Russia will be good market investments and will be long-term.

Our fund tries to find partners that will allow us to work freely in the economy. I think, Mr President, your initiative in organising the Russian Direct Investment Fund is a very good idea and it is a major step because when we came to the Russian market, we found an institution, an organisation, that knows this market and works with it professionally and transparently. This is very important when we are selecting our partners. Any investment in the Russian economy allows us to find the necessary partner. This makes the Russian economy very appealing to us in the long-term.

Charlie Rose: Thank you.

To my right is Miguel Galuccio from Argentina. As you know, Argentina and Gazprom have signed an agreement on working tougher on a gas field. What are the opportunities for joint work between the two states in the energy sector?

President of YPF Argentina Miguel Galuccio: First of all, thank you very much, Mr President, for giving me the opportunity to participate in this forum.

Energy is a very important direction for all South American nations, especially Argentina. We have extensive experience in economic growth, which our economy demonstrated over the past ten years. We are producing oil and gas – mainly gas. We have traditional natural resources, we also have natural gas and traditional energy resources. Moreover, we also have non-conventional sources of energy, which we are now beginning to develop.

Our production volume has increased by 25 percent recently. We believe non-conventional energy sources can be very efficient, and their production can be very profitable. To meet this goal, we must make major investments into this sector, and we need other nations’ and companies’ technologies and know-how. We feel there are great opportunities arising in energy.

We are engaged in strategic cooperation with Russian companies. Russia and Argentina have formed a wonderful relationship. We strive to develop the potential of our relations and work in various sectors. Our company has signed an agreement with Gazprom that will give us the opportunity to continue cooperating effectively in the future. We have signed a memorandum of mutual understanding, which is aimed towards the joint development of our country’s resource base.

Thank you.

Charlie Rose: Do you have any other comments on this issue, as far as opportunities that are becoming available for both countries are concerned? It seems to me it would be very interesting to hear the points of view from different regions.

We already talked today about the effect of sanctions. You feel the effect of the sanctions is overstated. Many people have said so. How do you view the opportunities and the need for further advancement of the Russian economy? What paths exist for this, in terms of the institutional framework, the rule of law and so on?

Vladimir Putin: With regard to what was just said by our colleagues, as far as Argentina is concerned, President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and I discussed the opportunity for cooperation in the oil and gas sector during her visit to Russia and my visit to Argentina. We agreed that our leading companies will engage in joint work. To be honest, I don’t know what happened next, but I was very glad to hear just now about the specific agreements to begin this joint work. Indeed, Argentina has enormous potential, and naturally, working together with a leading global company like Gazprom can give a very positive result.

As for sovereign wealth funds, if I am not mistaken, the Bahrain sovereign fund is not only a partner of our Russian Direct Investment Fund, but also has an agreement that, I believe, your fund has 10 percent participation in all the projects by the Russian Direct Investment Fund – is that correct? Please note what our partners have agreed toAutomatically, as soon as the Russian Direct Investment Fund implements a project, the Bahrain fund automatically joins at 10 percent. This is a very high level of trust not only towards the Russian economy, but also towards the professionalism of the colleagues at the Russian Direct Investment Fund. I would like to ask everyone to welcome our partner and express words of gratitude for this trust.

Things are not so bad as far as sanctions are concerned: there are upsides and downsides. This is a time when we are undergoing structural changes and it is genuinely possible to take steps that can have long-term positive effects.

As for the sanctions you mentioned, and how we are going to overcome today’s situation, I would describe the current state of affairs by saying that it is not any kind of catastrophe for us. We feel that we must achieve several goals; they are less ambitious than the ones we set several years ago, but I very much hope that this will be a different quality – a better quality – than we had in previous years.

Here is what we want to achieve: first of all, we want to ensure our economy’s growth in the short term, over the coming years, at the global average level, which is about 3.5 percent.

Second, it is imperative for us to achieve annual labour productivity growth of 5 percent.

And third – this is a very important indicator – we must bring inflation down to 4 percent. This is what we must strive for – absolutely, through a coordinated and balanced macroeconomic and budget policy.

All the trends we are currently seeing in our economy allow us to assert that these goals are absolutely realistic and we will reach them soon. At the same time, we would naturally prefer not to respond to the destructive actions that some of our partners are attempting to impose – and which they are imposing at a loss to themselves. There have been various calculations among our European partners; some have said that European manufacturers are losing around 40 to 50 billion; now, the most recent reports I saw and heard from Europe say that European manufacturers may suffer losses of up to 100 billion.

Our trade with Europe has dropped by nearly a quarter. Meanwhile, trade with your country, the United States, has grown by 5.6 percent. Our commodity flows from EU countries to the Russian Federation have decreased somewhat, and import has nearly halved; it used to be just under $30 billion, and now it is slightly over $15 billion.

At the same time, if we look at the trade structure, with the increase in trade with the United States, imports from the US have increased by about 11 percent. Overall, we can certainly say that this does not balance out the losses in cooperation with Europe, but I am confident, I know for certain, that nobody wants any losses at all, in the sense that Russia is experiencing a recession and many experts in Europe – not Russian experts, European ones – are talking about stagnation.

So if we want to create absolute growth in the global economy, in Europe, in Russia and in general, then we certainly need to eliminate various sanctions, especially unlawful ones imposed outside the framework of the United Nations, and work together. I have already stated how we are going to do that. We will broaden economic freedoms, this is a key element; we will ensure a competitive jurisdiction and work on our human resources and improving management systems.

Charlie Rose: On my right is Heinz Hermann Thiele, Knorr-Bremse chairman of the supervisory board. We were just talking about sanctions and import substitution. What do you think are the risks and opportunities? What could you say in this regard about Russia? How do you see the situation from a  Western point of view?

Supervisory Board Chairman of Knorr-Bremse Heinz Hermann Thiele: I  doubt I  can present the  European point of   view here, because you know, many countries on  the  continent hold different views. I  can only speak for  myself personally and I  can share my  view of the situation.

I  have always been against sanctions and  I  still believe they are wrong. I  am not the  only person in  Germany who holds this view. I support President Putin’s statement: it is time to bring the sanctions to an end.

I hope that now everyone in Europe has seen that Europe itself has suffered from the sanctions, and very significantly. If we look at the statistics from 2014–2015, the last two years, exports from Germany to Russia have dropped by 50 percent. I am not counting our subsidiaries which are working in Russia – and we have many of them – incidentally, they are working quite successfully in manufacturing and transport; we have excellent experience in cooperating with Russian partners.

Coming back to the situation in other European nations, look at Italy: Italy has lost only 10 percent of exports compared to the indicators for last year. So the situation is not as bad for them. In other words, the effects for different European nations also differ. Their interests vary as well. In this respect, I cannot say that we have common interests. Common decisions are made at the political level, but one way or another, regardless of the motivation, these are wrong decisions.

We must understand that Russia, in  implementingits policy of  turning to  the East, is taking an  absolutely logical step, because the East can offer Russia a great deal. We should not forget that we Europeans, we Germans – my company, I have a medium-sized company – we are working on the international arena, we have great relations with, for  example, the  Chinese. We have excellent joint business, and we very much like working with them. Why shouldn’t Russia do the same?

To some degree, it is tragic that we have pushed Russia in that direction through the  sanctions. We need to  leave the sanctions behind. But all nations should have the opportunity to  make independent decisions on  where it is best to  develop partnerships: in  the  West or  the  East, it does not matter. We are in  favour of  global development  – peaceful development, I  should add. Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot say that we are satisfied with the situation in either aspect.

To  be continued.

 

Big Pharma: How They Manipulate American Medical Doctors

June 24th, 2015 by Dr. Gary G. Kohls

 “The pharmaceutical companies are an amoral bunch. They’re not a benevolent association.  So they are highly unlikely to donate large amounts of money without strings attached. Once one is dancing with the devil, you don’t always get to call the steps of the dance.”—A psychiatrist, quoted in the Boston Globe, 2002.

The New England Journal of Medicine, under the editorship of Marcia Angell, MD, published a study in the May 18, 2000 issue whose principle author was the chief of Brown University’s Department of Psychiatry. The academic psychiatrist had reportedly made $500,000 in one year doing consultancy “work” for various psycho-pharmaceutical companies that marketed antidepressant drugs. In editing the article, Dr Angell discovered that there wasn’t enough room to print all the various co-author’s conflict of interest disclosures. Because of space limitations, Angell put the full list on the website rather than in the hard copy issue.

In a footnote to the article, she wrote:

Our policy requires authors of Original Articles to disclose all financial ties with companies that make the products under study… In this case, the large number of authors and their varied and extensive financial associations with relevant companies make a detailed listing here impractical. Readers should know, however, that all but one of the twelve principal authors have had financial associations with Bristol-Myers Squibb – which also sponsored the study – and, in most cases, with many other companies producing psychoactive pharmaceutical agents. The associations include consultancies, receipt of research grants and honorariums, and participation on advisory boards.

Angell then proceeded to write an editorial in the same issue. It was titled, “Is Academic Medicine for Sale?” In it she expressed her concern about the merging of commercial and academic interests.

 “Q: Is academic medicine for sale?

A: No. The current owner is very happy with it.”

In response to Angell’s editorial, a reader sent a letter to the editor asking rhetorically, “Is academic medicine for sale? No. The current owner is very happy with it.”

After two decades of exemplary work at the once prestigious NEJM, Dr Angell was shamefully and arbitrarily fired for stating the obvious. The courageous whistle-blower then proceeded to write her first book, The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive us and What to do About It (2004).

Having heard about the sinister machinations of the hundreds of multinational pharmaceutical companies (that make the chemical pharmaceuticals that cause almost as many deaths in America as heart disease or cancer), I decided to put together sort of a timeline of the process of psychiatric drug development. There are many authors that back up what is printed below, including books, articles and lectures by Angell, Dr Peter Breggin (see www.breggin.com), Robert Whitaker (see www.madinamerica.org), Dr David Healy (http://davidhealy.org/articles/) and Dr Peter Gotzsche http://www.cochrane.dk/about/profiles/pcg-profile.htm), among others.

Here is my approximation of how a new, potentially lethal brain-altering psych drug gets developed and then marketed by Big Pharma:

How the Drug Industry’s Amoral Psychopharmacology Units Create the Next Hoped-for Blockbuster Drug

  1. Assign to your organic chemists (who decided to go to work for Big Pharma rather than teach and do research at lower pay at some university) the job of exploiting an innovative, un-patented small molecule that is likely to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier into the cerebrospinal fluid. (Knowing that most such molecules have been discovered and partially developed by tax-supported public institutions, like university research/teaching hospitals, you will still later imply that your research and development unit did all the work and incurred all the expense.)
  2. Test the new chemical on hundreds or thousands of laboratory animals (mice, rats, guinea pigs, monkeys) until you find the lowest dose that kills 100% of the animals. (That will be the LD 100 [lethal dose 100]).
  3. Then experiment with the dose until you find the one that kills 50% of the animals (that is the LD 50). Do forensic evaluations on the killed and surviving animals, focusing on the organs that might be of interest later in the marketing of the drug to humans.
  4. Find the dose that doesn’t kill any animals and observe the effects of the drug in a number of experiments, comparing those results with those animals that were given a placebo. In order to save time and money, have these experiments done in the shortest possible time period. (Ex: one day, 5 days or 21 days [which is considered a “long-term” animal lab trial].)
  5. Have the lab animal observations looked at by upper management, seeking their recommendations as to what the observed effects might point to the potential usefulness in treating an as yet to be determined (or invented) human disorder (perhaps for some future new psychiatric diagnosis or possibly a substitute for one of your drugs that will soon be losing its patent protection. (For example, slowed behaviors in the treated animal might indicate the new drug might be useful for anxiety, insomnia, seizures or hypertension, whereas agitated or manic drug-related behaviors might indicate that the nw drug might be useful for somnolence, fatigue, depression or so-called ADHD.)
  6. Establish a safe dose for humans. Then make a deal with one of the hundreds of reliable (ie, in getting positive results), “independent”, for-profit contract research organizations (CROs) that are in the business of doing human trials at less cost that your corporation. Insist on complete control of the design of the clinical trial, who will author it and the publication of the results.
  7. Pay millions of dollars to dozens of groups of psychiatrists who have lots of drugged-up and therefore compliant patients who might be willing – depending on the cash incentives – to sign a release of liability form and go off their old drugs in order to start taking the new experimental one. As an extra incentive consider paying a bonus payment to the doctor if he can get more than 5 patients to sign up.
  8.  Have the CRO ignore the fact that most of the psychiatric patients will have had dozens of previous psychiatric labels, a host of unknown psych drug-induced psycho-toxicities, neuro-toxicities, psych drug addictions or withdrawal syndromes in the past or present.
  9. Be assured that it will go without saying that the CRO will throw certain patients out of the clinical study during the pre-study “wash-out” phase of the experiment. Experience has shown that previously drugged-up patients who suddenly quit their old dependency-inducing drugs will commonly have immediate, unwanted withdrawal effects (such as death) which would adversely affect the study results. (If not “washed out” before the study officially begins, those patients would mess up the anticipated favorable – and orchestrated – publishable results). Be assured also that the patients who seem to tolerate stopping the old drugs (perhaps because they were being poisoned by them?) will further favorably skew the results to convince future prescribers of the benefits of the new blockbuster.  (“I feel so much better on this new pill, doc.”)
  10. If obtaining patients from the developed world is too difficult, have an offshore multinational research company that has a presence in some impoverished third world country do the human trials, even if the results from those malnourished, chronically ill, desperate (and therefore cheaper) patients will have little or no relevance to better-nourished American patients. (Many third world countries have corrupt, easily bribed governments that will allow unethical and potentially dangerous experimentation on its unaware, desperate or easily bribed citizens.)
  11. When the human trials are complete (in the case of antidepressants, lasting only an average of 4 – 6 weeks in length, despite the fact that most patients will be taking the drug for years), bury the unfavorable trial results, and refuse to show them to anybody, unless and until a court subpoenas them for the inevitable lawsuits for corporate malfeasance or physician, clinic or hospital malpractice.
  12. Massage the numbers of the two best-looking trials so the results that go to the FDA can be claimed to be “statistically significant” (even if the results are not “clinically significant”) even though the trial was only designed to be found “better” than a placebo. (American drug trials are only done in comparison with placebos and never a rival drug!)
  13. Present the two (of many) clinical trials to one of the FDA screening committees that have been found to be made up of mainly of psychiatrists with major financial or professional conflicts of interest (usually financial entanglements with Big Pharma or professional loyalty entanglements with the American Psychiatric Association [APA]). Don’t show them the failed trials (Ex: several failed SSRI drug trials – hidden from scrutiny by Big Pharma – clearly showed how dangerous they were for children. If those trials had been published, many pediatricians would not have prescribed them to their otherwise doomed innocent patients.
  14. If you perceive that there is a good chance that the FDA will approve your new drug for a specific disorder (invented or otherwise), have your marketing department develop television “public interest” commercials  about the existence (and seriousness!) of the  disorder for which the drug is to be marketed.
  15. Simultaneously, have your Washington, DC lobbyists alert the (APA) academic psychiatrists who are the “thought leaders” (and who are somewhere on your payroll) to invent a new Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel-approved psych label that will then be promoted by that small, obscure insider committee of corporate-connected psychiatrists who vote on such things. (Ed note: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM) is the billing manual for psychiatrists, whose patient-contact code numbers must be used or else no insurance payment will be forthcoming. Incidentally, the DSM has no statistics in it!)
  16. Create cunning TV commercials that show unhappy, tired confused actors posing as patients being transformed into happy and confident humans after they take your new drug. Have the disclaimers about the serious, sometimes lethal, drug effects appear in small print or recited by a speed reader.
  17. Issue cunning video commercials disguised as a news release about the new disorder or drug to mainstream television outlets, knowing that such free videos will be welcomed by lazy TV news desks as fillers or “news releases”, thus getting cheap advertising.
  18. Bribe physicians with junkets, vacations, clinic meals, trinkets, cheap continuing education courses, extravagant meals and “consulting fees” that will reliably influence them to prescribe your drug to as many patients as possible.
  19. Have your lobbyists (more Big Pharma lobbyists are in DC than there are legislators in Congress.) bribe, with campaign “contributions” and many of the inducements in # 18 above) as many politicians as it will take to block regulatory legislation, inducements for alternatives to Big Medicine and the sobering truths about corporations such as yours.
  20. Sit back and rake in the dough while America goes broke paying for all those toxic, addictive drugs and your toxic vaccines; and when  the lawsuits roll in (at least those that your raft of shyster lawyers couldn’t derail) from the families of dead or damaged patients, humbly accept the wrist slap admonition to “don’t to that again” and use a small portion of your windfall profits to settle out of court, admitting no guilt, and demanding that the judge apply a gag order to the plaintiffs so that nobody will ever find out how much was the settlement was for or other details of the lawsuit – typical tactics for psychopaths. And then go ahead and do it again.
  21. Utilizing the propaganda methods listed above, your psycho-pharmaceutical monopoly should still be around well every aquifer and every drinking water supply will be so contaminated with your metabolically-stable, toxic and unfilterable drugs (that can’t be adequately metabolized by the liver but are excreted in the urine) that every non-patient – and not just the drugged-up patients – will be struggling to survive on this poisoned planet.

And you Big Pharma CEOs will soon be in the same boat as the rest of us because NASA apparently isn’t finding enough uncontaminated water (or oxygen) on Earth’s closest planet, as you had hoped. Perhaps you should say your Mea Culpas, tell the truth about your toxic products for a change, sell off your Big Pharma shares, stop the poisoning and join the human race.

Dr Kohls is a retired physician who practiced holistic mental health care for the last decade of his career. He writes a weekly column for the Reader Weekly, an alternative newsweekly published in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. Many of Dr Kohls’ columns are archived at http://duluthreader.com/articles/categories/200_Duty_to_Warn

 

The Delphi Declaration on the European Russian Crisis

June 24th, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The Delphi Conference on the European/Russian crisis created by Washington  issued a declaration repudiating the EU attack on the Greek nation.

(my address to the conference is here)

The Delphi Declaration asks the European peoples, especially the Germans, to do the right thing and object to the plunder of Greece by the One Percent. This appeal to good will is likely to fall on deaf ears even though the pillage of Greece will create a precedent that can then be applied to Italy, Spain, France, and even Germany.

The financial sector in the West no longer funds real investments in plant and equipment. So much of the US manufacturing economy has been moved offshore, and the lack of consumer income growth means that investment opportunities in the US are very limited. With the derivatives, leveraged financial speculation seems to have reached its limits. All of this suggests that looting countries in the name of settling their sovereign debt is the new road to riches.

The financial sector has turned to the looting of the public sector in the Western countries themselves. By destroying Western social welfare systems, as has happened in Greece, public revenues are freed that the One Percent can capture. In the US Obamacare is a mechanism that allows private insurance companies to loot the public funds assigned to health care. The examples are numerous, and privatizations will result in the demise of public goods, from health care, to education, to pensions.

The Delphi Declaration recognizes this and correctly warns the Italians, Spanish, French, and Germans that they are next on the list of countries whose public sectors will be plundered.

The leaders of Russia and China must be amused to watch Western countries consume themselves.

Paul Craig Roberts

THE DELPHI DECLARATION

On Greece and Europe

By The Conference Participants

European governments, European institutions and the IMF, acting in close alliance, if not under direct control of big international banks and other financial institutions, are now exercising a maximum of pressure, including open threats, blackmailing and a slander and terror communication campaign against the recently elected Greek government and against the Greek people.

They are asking from the elected government of Greece to continue the “bail-out” program and the supposed “reforms” imposed on this country in May 2010, in theory to “help” and “save” it.

As a result of this program, Greece has experienced by far the biggest economic, social and political catastrophe in the history of Western Europe since 1945.It has lost 27% of its GDP, more than the material losses of France or Germany during the 1st World War. The living standards have fallen sharply, the social welfare system all but destroyed, Greeks have seen social rights won during one century of struggles taken back. Whole social strata were completely destroyed, more and more Greeks are falling from their balconies to end a life of misery and desperation, every talented person who can leaves from the country. Democracy, under the rule of a “Troika”, acting as collective economic assassin, a kind of Kafka’s “Court”, has been transformed into a sheer formality in the very same country where it was born! Greeks are experiencing now the same feeling of insecurity about all basic conditions of its life, that French have experienced in 1940, Germans in 1945, Soviets in 1991. In the same time, the two problems which this program was supposed to address, the Greek sovereign debt and competitiveness of the Greek economy have, both, sharply deteriorated.

Now, European institutions and governments are refusing even the most reasonable, elementary, minor concession to the Athens government, they refuse even the slightest face-saving formula, if it could be. They want a total surrender of SYRIZA, they want its humiliation, its destruction. By denying to the Greek people any peaceful and democratic way out of its social and national tragedy, they are pushing Greece into chaos, if not civil war. By the way, even now, an undeclared social civil war of “low intensity” is waged inside this country, especially against the unprotected, the ill, the young and the very old, the weaker and the unlucky. Is this the Europe we want our children to live?

We want to express our total, unconditional solidarity with the struggle of the Greek people for its dignity, its national and social salvation, for its liberation from the unacceptable neocolonial rule “Troika” is trying to impose on a European country. We denounce the illegal and unacceptable agreements successive Greek governments have been obliged, under threat and blackmail, to sign, in violation of all European treaties, of the Charter of UN and of the Greek constitution. We ask European governments and institutions to stop now their irresponsible and/or criminal policy towards Greece. We call them to adopt immediately a generous emergency program of support to redress the Greek economic situation and face the humanitarian disaster already unfolding in this country.

We appeal also to all European peoples to realize that what is at stake in Greece it is not only Greek salaries and pensions, Greek schools and hospitals, the fate even of a historic nation, where the very notion of “Europe” was born. What is at stake in Greece are the Spanish, Italian, even the German salaries, pensions, welfare, the very fate of the European welfare state, of European democracy, of Europe as such. Stop believing your media, who tell you the facts, only to distort their meaning, check independently what your politicians and your media are saying. They try to create, and they have created an illusion of stability. You may live in Lisbon or in Paris, in Frankfurt or in Stockholm, you may think that you are living in relative security. Do not keep such illusions. You should look to Greece, to see there the future your elites are preparing for you, for all of us and for our children. It is much easier and intelligent to stop them now, than it will be later. Not only Greeks, but all of us and our children will pay an enormous price, if we permit to our governments to complete the social slaughter of a whole European nation.

We appeal in particular to the German people. We do not belong to those who are always reminding to the Germans the past, in order to keep them in an “inferior”, second-class position, or in order to use the “guilty factor” for their dubious goals. We appreciate much the organizational and technological skills of the German people, its proven democratic and especially ecological and peace sensitivities. We want and we need the German people as one of the main champions in the building of another Europe, of a prosperous, independent, democratic Europe, of a multipolar world.

Germans know better than anybody else in Europe, where blind obedience to irresponsible leaders can lead and has indeed led in the past. It is not up to us to teach them any such lesson. They know better than anybody else how easy is to begin a campaign with triumphalist rhetoric, only to end up with ruins everywhere around you. We do not invite them to follow our opinion. We demand simply from them to think thoroughly the opinion of such distinguished leaders of them like Helmut Schmitt for instance, we demand them to hear the voice of the greatest among modern German poet, of Günter Grass, the terrible prophecy he has emitted about Greece and Europe some years before his loss.

We call upon you, the German people, to stop such a “Faust” alliance between German political elites and international Finance. We call upon the German people not to permit to its government to continue doing to the Greeks, exactly what the Allies did to Germans after their victory in the 1st World War. Do not let your elites and leaders to transform all the continent, finally including Germany, into a dominion of Finance.

More than ever we are in urgent need of a radical restructuring of European debt, of serious measures to control the activities of the financial sector, of a “Marshal Plan” for the European periphery, of a courageous rethinking and re-launching of a European project which, in its present form, has proven to be unsustainable. We need to find now the courage to do this, if we want to let a better Europe to our children, not a Europe in ruins, in continuous financial or even openly military conflicts among its nations.

Image: Brian Eno speaking at the National Demonstration for Gaza, London, 26/07/14

Brian Eno’s letter to America: WHY? I just don’t get it

This article was originally published on 3 August 2014. Brian Eno is an artist, musical innovator, record producer for artists ranging from David Bowie to U2 and Coldplay. He has been a consistent supporter of Stop the War Coalition since it was first founded.

Dear All of You,

I sense I’m breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can’t keep quiet any more.

Today I saw a picture of a weeping Palestinian man holding a plastic carrier bag of meat. It was his son. He’d been shredded (the hospital’s word) by an Israeli missile attack – apparently using their fab new weapon, flechette bombs. You probably know what those are – hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans. The boy was Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra. He was 4 years old.

I suddenly found myself thinking that it could have been one of my kids in that bag, and that thought upset me more than anything has for a long time.

Then I read that the UN had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won’t sign up to it.

What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But – for Christ’s sake! – it’s not that hard to find out. Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY? I just don’t get it. I really hate to think its just the power of AIPAC… for if that’s the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don’t think that’s the reason… but I have no idea what it could be.

The America I know and like is compassionate, broadminded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me. But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war? I can’t work it out: I know you’re not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren’t heard or registered?

How come it isn’t your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word ‘America’? How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn’t and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?

I was in Israel last year with Mary. Her sister works for UNWRA in Jerusalem. Showing us round were a Palestinian – Shadi, who is her sister’s husband and a professional guide – and Oren Jacobovitch, an Israeli Jew, an ex-major from the IDF who left the service under a cloud for refusing to beat up Palestinians. Between the two of them we got to see some harrowing things – Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved onto their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down onto Palestinian farmland below; The Wall; the checkpoints… and all the endless daily humiliations. I kept thinking, “Do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?”.

As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace. While ‘the process’ is going on the settlers continue grabbing land and building their settlements… and then when the Palestinians finally erupt with their pathetic fireworks they get hammered and shredded with state-of-the-art missiles and depleted uranium shells because Israel ‘has a right to defend itself’ ( whereas Palestine clearly doesn’t). And the settler militias are always happy to lend a fist or rip up someone’s olive grove while the army looks the other way.

By the way, most of them are not ethnic Israelis – they’re ‘right of return’ Jews from Russia and Ukraine and Moravia and South Africa and Brooklyn who came to Israel recently with the notion that they had an inviolable (God-given!) right to the land, and that ‘Arab’ equates with ‘vermin’ – straightforward old-school racism delivered with the same arrogant, shameless swagger that the good ole boys of Louisiana used to affect. That is the culture our taxes are defending. It’s like sending money to the Klan.

But beyond this, what really troubles me is the bigger picture. Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, America represents ‘The West’. So it is The West  that is seen as supporting this war, despite all our high-handed talk about morality and democracy. I fear that all the civilisational achievements of The Enlightenment and Western Culture are being discredited – to the great glee of the mad Mullahs – by this flagrant hypocrisy. The war has no moral justification that I can see  - but it doesn’t even have any pragmatic value either. It doesn’t make Kissingerian ‘Realpolitik’ sense; it just makes us look bad.

I’m sorry to burden you all with this. I know you’re busy and in varying degrees allergic to politics, but this is beyond politics. It’s us squandering the civilisational capital that we’ve built over generations. None of the questions in this letter are rhetorical: I really don’t get it and I wish that I did.

In Italia la scuola dei Predatori

June 24th, 2015 by Manlio Dinucci

Una set­ti­mana fa, al Salone aero­spa­ziale di Le Bour­get a Parigi, la Dire­zione arma­menti aero­nau­tici del Mini­stero Difesa ha fir­mato un con­tratto con la cana­dese Cae per la rea­liz­za­zione ad Amen­dola (Fog­gia) della prima scuola di volo euro­pea di droni mili­tari Pre­da­tor (Pre­da­tori) della sta­tu­ni­tense Gene­ral Ato­mics. Un pre­ce­dente con­tratto pre­ve­deva la for­ni­tura di un simu­la­tore di volo solo per il modello MQ-1 Pre­da­tor, men­tre il nuovo per­mette di adde­strare i tele­pi­loti anche per il Pre­da­tor B/MQ-9 Rea­per, ambe­due in dota­zione all’aeronautica italiana.

Si avvera così il sogno di Roberta Pinotti che aveva annun­ciato il pro­getto al «Con­ve­gno sul futuro del domi­nio aero­spa­ziale nazio­nale ed euro­peo» (Firenze, 24 otto­bre 2014). Pro­getto soste­nuto dal Pen­ta­gono, nelle cui scuole si sono adde­strati finora i tele­pi­loti euro­pei dei Pre­da­tori: poi­ché deve oggi for­mare più tele­pi­loti di droni che piloti di cac­cia­bom­bar­dieri, il Pen­ta­gono ha biso­gno di altri cen­tri di adde­stra­mento in ambito Nato.

L’aeronautica ita­liana e quelle di altri paesi Ue appar­te­nenti alla Nato dispor­ranno quindi, entro il 2016, della scuola di Amendola.

Qui i tele­pi­loti euro­pei saranno adde­strati a mis­sioni sia di rico­gni­zione e indi­vi­dua­zione obiet­tivi, tipo quelle effet­tuate finora dai Pre­da­tori usati dall’aeronautica ita­liana, sia di attacco con gli MQ-9 Rea­per, tipo quelle effet­tuate dal Pen­ta­gono e dalla Cia in Afgha­ni­stan, Paki­stan, Iraq, Yemen, Soma­lia e altri paesi.

Il Rea­per (Mie­ti­tore, ovvia­mente di vite umane), lungo oltre 10 m e con un’apertura alare di 20 m, può essere armato di 14 mis­sili AGM-114 Hell­fire (Fuoco dell’inferno), oltre che con due bombe a guida laser GBU-12 Paveway II o GBU-38 JDAM a guida satel­li­tare. I tele­pi­loti, seduti davanti agli schermi della con­solle a migliaia di km di distanza, una volta indi­vi­duato il «ber­sa­glio» tra­mite i sen­sori elettro-ottici e altri del drone, coman­dano con il joy­stick il lan­cio dei mis­sili e delle bombe. È il nuovo modo di fare la guerra, pre­sen­tato come «chirurgico».

I «danni col­la­te­rali» sono però fre­quenti: per col­pire un pre­sunto ter­ro­ri­sta, i droni kil­ler distrug­gono spesso una intera casa ucci­dendo donne e bam­bini, oppure il tele­pi­lota scam­bia un gruppo di per­sone a un matri­mo­nio per un peri­co­loso gruppo di armati e lan­cia il «Fuoco dell’inferno» a testata ter­mo­ba­rica o a fram­men­ta­zione, oppure lo lan­cia per­ché è sotto stress per i fati­cosi turni alla consolle.

A tutto que­sto con­tri­buirà la scuola euro­pea di droni mili­tari, la cui col­lo­ca­zione in Ita­lia non è casuale. L’Italia è stata la prima nella Ue ad acqui­stare i Pre­da­tori sta­tu­ni­tensi e a usarli nelle «mis­sioni» inter­na­zio­nali (Afgha­ni­stan, Iraq, Libia, Corno d’Africa), la prima che ha con­sen­tito ai droni mili­tari di ope­rare nello spa­zio aereo nazio­nale met­tendo a rischio i voli civili.

Da Sigo­nella ope­rano da anni i droni Glo­bal Hawk (Fal­chi glo­bali), e anche Pre­da­tori armati, della U.S. Navy.

Nella stessa base entrerà in fun­zione dal 2016 il sistema Ags della Nato che, con Glo­bal Hawk, sor­ve­glierà una vasta area, dall’Africa al Medio­riente, a sup­porto delle ope­ra­zioni Nato.

L’uso dei droni mili­tari si inten­si­fi­cherà con la mis­sione Ue «con­tro i traf­fi­canti di esseri umani nel Medi­ter­ra­neo», gri­mal­dello di un’operazione sotto regia Nato per un inter­vento mili­tare in Libia. E la mini­stra Pinotti, visi­tando Amen­dola, potrà con­gra­tu­larsi con i tele­pi­loti dei Pre­da­tori, come fece nella stessa base il pre­mier D’Alema quando, il 10 giu­gno 1999, si con­gra­tulò con i piloti ita­liani che ave­vano bom­bar­dato la Jugo­sla­via, sot­to­li­neando che la loro era stata «una grande espe­rienza umana e professionale».

Manlio Dinucci

23.06.2015

Propaganda Reigns In The West

June 24th, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The lies about Russia and Russia’s president have grown so thick, threatening the world with devastating war, that distinguished Americans have formed  the American Committee for East-West Accord.  The members of the founding board are former US senator Bill Bradley, Amb. Jack Matlock who was US ambassador to the Soviet Union during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, William J. vanden Heuvel who was US ambassador to the UN during the Carter administration,  John Pepper who is the former chairman and CEO of Proctor Gamble, Gilbert Doctorow who is a businessman with a quarter century of business experience with Russia, and professors Ellen Mickiewicz of Duke University and Stephen Cohen of Princeton University and New York University.

It is extraordinary that the cooperation between Russia and the US created over the decades by successive administrations, beginning with John F. Kennedy and culminating in the end of the Cold War with the Reagan-Gorbachev agreements, has been destroyed by a handful of American neoconservative warmongers in the past year and one-half. The achievement of a 40-year struggle wiped out overnight by a handful of insane warmongers who believe that Washington has a right to world hegemony.

The problem began with President Clinton violating the promises given to the Russians that NATO would not be taken into Eastern Europe. This breach of American promise was followed by the George W. Bush regime withdrawing from the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty and changing US war doctrine to permit pre-emptive nuclear attack by the US on other countries, principally Russia.

These provocations were followed by announcement of US missile bases on Russia’s borders.

The Obama regime added a coup in Ukraine, long a province of Russia, and the establishment of a US vassal government that threatens Russian security.

In the past such provocations would have led, if not to war, at least to counter-provocations.  However, Vladimir Putin is a cool and thoughtful character, a credit to the human race.  He politely complains of the provocations, but continues to refer to Washington and the pseudo-governments of Washington’s vassal states as Russia’s “partners,” even though he knows that they are Russia’s enemies.

Putin responds to threats, to illegal sanctions, and to incessant propaganda  with statements that governments need to respect each other’s national interests and to work together for common benefit.  No politician in the West speaks in this way. Western politicians, including non-entities such as Washington’s lapdog UK PM Cameron, issue threats to Russia in violent language that make Adolf Hitler’s threats seem mild by comparison. Russia could destroy the UK in a few minutes, and we have the spectacle of the moronic British PM issuing threats to Russia despite the fact that the UK is not capable of bringing any meaningful force whatsoever with which to confront Russia. The lapdog Cameron relies on Washington, just as the moronic Polish government relied on the “British guarantee.”

The Washington morons think that they are isolating Russia, but what the fools are doing is isolating Washington and its vassals from the world.  The large, important countries of Asia, Africa, and South America are allied with Russia, not with Washington.  The BRICS–Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa–have created their own development bank and are conducting trade among themselves in their own currencies without use of the US dollar, the failing “world reserve currency.”

Save the web address of the American Committee for East-West Accord http://eastwestaccord.com  and keep up with their work.  Do not rely on the presstitute media.  Robert Parry recently described, accurately, the New York Times as Washington’s version of Big Brother’s (Orwell, 1984) “Two Minutes of Hate.”

Putin is the image that the presstitute NYTimes flashes on the screen to evoke the inculcated hate of “the enemy.”  The hate of the enemy keeps Washington’s wars going and conditions Americans to accept their own loss of liberty as habeas corpus, due process, and right to life crumble in front of their unseeing eyes, eyes blinded by propaganda.

At the just concluded St. Petersburg International Economic Forum to which I was invited but was unable to go, which I regret as I might have been introduced to Putin, Putin gave believable assurances to a large array of foreign businesses present that Russia was committed to the rule of law and that their activities in Russia are safe.  If you believe any of the propaganda fed to you by the Western presstitutes, including Bloomberg, about the “collapsing Russian economy,” you can disabuse yourself of the lies by reading Putin’s account of the Russian economy. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/49733

Of more interest is the interview he gave to the outmatched American presstitute, Charlie Rose.  For your convenience, here is the interview:

Interview with the President of Russia and Other Parties at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum

Charlie Rose: Mr President, I would like to begin by saying that it is a pleasure to be here in your home city, the place where you began your political career. This is also a historically important city – Russia was born here as an empire. This is a very important place.

There are some very serious issues that can be resolved only if Russia takes action, if you take part. We are talking about economic policy, foreign policy, Ukraine, the Baltic states, Europe, Syria, Iran, China, and Russia. There are very many questions, there are problems, and there are conflicts. Russia has to play its part in finding solutions to many problems. There is the issue of borders, the issue of Russia and Ukraine. Could you help us understand as you see it: where are we? How did we get there and where do we go from here?

Vladimir Putin: First, I would like to thank you for agreeing to work with us today and moderate this meeting. This forum is called the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. I would like us to focus on economic issues. However, I would agree with you that without resolving a number of acute critical situations it is hard to move along in the economic sphere.

We have discussed the developments in Ukraine on numerous occasions, and I understand that this is unavoidable. However, you know, we either keep talking about Ukraine all the time, or a few years ago we were talking about the crisis, say, in Iraq and some other countries. We keep talking about things that already happened, but we never discuss why they happened. And if you do want to talk about this and it does seem important, I would prefer to begin with precisely that.

Why did we arrive at the crisis in Ukraine? I am convinced that after the so-called bipolar system ceased to exist, after the Soviet Union was gone from the political map of the world, some of our partners in the west, including and primarily the United States, of course, were in a state of euphoria of sorts. Instead of developing good neighbourly relations and partnerships, they began to develop the new geopolitical space that they thought was unoccupied. This, for instance, is what caused the North Atlantic block, NATO, to go east, along with many other developments.

I have been thinking a lot about why this is happening and eventually came to the conclusion that some of our partners seem to have gotten the illusion that the world order that was created after World War II, with such a global centre as the Soviet Union, does not exist anymore, that a vacuum of sorts has developed that needs to be filled quickly. I think such an approach is a mistake. This is how we got Iraq, and we know that even today there are people in the United States who think that mistakes were made in Iraq. Many admit that there were mistakes in Iraq, and nevertheless they repeat it all in Libya. Now they got to Ukraine.

We did not bring about the crisis in Ukraine. There was no need to support, as I have said many times, the anti-state, anti-constitutional takeover that eventually led to a sharp resistance on the territory of Ukraine, to a civil war in fact.

Where do we go from here? I would not like to get too deep into the subject here. Today we primarily need to comply with all the agreements reached in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. I would like to reiterate that we would never have signed this document if there had been anything we were not satisfied with. Now that it happened and we signed it, we will work to achieve its full implementation.

At the same time, I would like to draw your attention and the attention of all our partners to the fact that we cannot do it unilaterally. We keep hearing the same thing, repeated like a mantra – that Russia should influence the southeast of Ukraine. We are. However, it is impossible to resolve the problem through our influence on the southeast alone. There has to be influence on the current official authorities in Kiev, which is something we cannot do. This is a road our western partners have to take – those in Europe and America. Let us work together.

Charlie Rose: What do you want from the Kiev Government, what should they do?

Vladimir Putin: We do not want anything. The people of Ukraine should want the Ukrainian government to do something, or not to do.

We believe that to resolve the situation we need to implement the Minsk agreements, as I said. The elements of a political settlement are key here. There are several.

The first one is constitutional reform, and the Minsk agreements say clearly: to provide autonomy or, as they say decentralisation of power, let it be decentralisation. This is quite clear, our European partners, France and Germany have spelt it out and we are quite satisfied with it, just as the representatives of Donbass are. This is one component.

The second thing that has to be done – the law passed earlier on the special status of these territories – Lugansk and Donetsk, the unrecognised republics, should be enacted. It was passed, but still not acted upon. This requires a resolution of the Supreme Rada – the Ukrainian Parliament, which is also covered in the Minsk agreements.

Our friends in Kiev have formally complied with this decision, but simultaneously with the passing by the Rada of the resolution to enact the law they amended the law itself – article 10, I believe, which practically renders the action null and void. This is a mere manipulation, and they have to move from manipulations to real action.

The third thing is a law on amnesty. It is impossible to have a political dialogue with people who are threatened with criminal persecution. And finally, they need to pass a law on municipal elections on these territories and to have the elections themselves. All this is spelled out in the Minsk agreements, this is something I would like to draw your attention to, and all this should be done with the agreement of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Unfortunately, we still see no direct dialogue, only some signs of it, but too much time has passed after the Minsk agreements were signed. I repeat, it is important now to have a direct dialogue between Lugansk, Donetsk and Kiev – this is missing. Finally, they have to begin the economic recovery of these territories, of course.

I would like to repeat something I have already said many times: the excuse that ‘we do not have the money’ does not work here. If the current authorities in Kiev believe that this is Ukrainian territory inhabited by Ukrainian citizens who have the right to receive, say, disability benefits or the pensions that they earned under the existing Ukrainian law, the Kiev authorities cannot refuse to pay, they simply have no right to do so. They are violating their own constitution. All this has to be done, and not in words, but in practice.

Charlie Rose: As you may know, the United States of America believe that you are arming the separatists, you encourage them, you engage the Russian Armed Forces to fuel the conflict. There is strong concern that this could lead to a new cold war.

Vladimir Putin: You know, it is not local conflicts that cause a cold war, but global decisions – like the withdrawal of the United States from the antimissile defence treaty. This is a step that pushes us all towards a new spiral in the arms race because it changes the global security system.

As for regional conflicts, the conflicting sides seem to always – and I stress, always find weapons. This is true of eastern Ukraine as well.

I would like to say that if this situation is resolved by political means, no weapons will be necessary, but it does require goodwill and a desire to enter into direct dialogue, and we will assist in this. What we cannot do and would never agree to is for someone somewhere, anywhere, to proceed from a position of force, first using the police (they call it militia there), then special services, and then the armed forces.

Before the army units and the so-called battalions – armed nationalist units – appeared on those territories, there were no weapons there; and there still would have been none had they tried to resolve the situation by peaceful means right from the start. Weapons appeared there only after they started killing people using tanks, artillery, multiple launch rocket systems and aviation. That gave rise to resistance. Once an attempt is made to resolve the issue by political means, the weapons will be gone.

Charlie Rose: What are the acceptable borders for Ukraine, for Russia? What borders do you find acceptable?

Vladimir Putin: What do you mean when you speak of borders: geographical borders, political borders?

Charlie Rose: Political borders.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding cooperation, we have always said and continue to say – there is nothing new here – that with all the current difficulties, I have always thought that Russians and Ukrainians are one people, one ethnic group, at least; each with their own peculiarities and cultural characteristics, but with a common history, a common culture and common spiritual roots. Whatever happens, in the long run Russia and Ukraine are doomed to a common future.

We have proceeded right from the start from the idea that Ukraine has the right to make its own choice – civilizational, political, economic or any other. It is no secret – we all know that Russia actually initiated the disintegration of the Soviet Union and providing sovereignty to all these countries. Nothing has changed since then. However, apart from the ties I mentioned earlier, ones that took shape over decades, very specific things in the present hold Russia and Ukraine together: we have a common engineering infrastructure, a common energy infrastructure, a common transportation infrastructure, common regulations and so on and so forth. We are held together by the ability to speak the same language. Now, this has to do with Russia and our interests.

We have always proceeded from the notion that we will resolve everything, even disputes, by means of negotiations – and it is only natural for neighbours to have disputes. However, if some third parties get involved in these negotiations, we expect them to take our interests into account as well, rather than simply offer us a choice. If you are asking what we expect in the political sense – we expect a comprehensive, trust-based and equal dialogue.

Charlie Rose: I would like to get back to Ukraine, but let us talk about Russia’s relations with a whole number of countries, including the United States and China. Characterise the relationship with the United States: what’s wrong with it? What’s right with it? What does it need?

Vladimir Putin: In other words, where we have some positive developments and where we have problems.

I will begin with the problems. The problem is that we are being forced to accept other’s standards and solutions without consideration for our understanding of our own interests. We are actually being told that the United States knows best what we need. Let us decide what our interests and needs are ourselves, proceeding from our own history and culture.

Charlie Rose: How exactly is the United States trying to decide what you need?

Vladimir Putin: By interfering in our internal political processes, including by means of funding the non-public sector, by imposing international security decisions.

For instance, I already mentioned the issue we came across first – Iraq, and this immediately cooled off our relations. Do you remember the statement ‘If you are not with us, you are against us’? Do you call this dialogue? This is an ultimatum. You should not use ultimatums when talking to us.

Now over to the things that unite us – these do exist. We are united by the desire to eventually combat common threats, including terrorism, the expansion of drug threat and a very dangerous tendency towards the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. There are also issues of humanitarian interaction, like combatting severe infections that hit entire regions of the world. There are issues dealing with the global economy, and this has to do with the sector that we have a direct significant influence on – energy. There are also other spheres where we are cooperating quite successfully and I expect that this would serve as the basis that would make it possible for us to restore our previous relations with the United States and move on.

As for the People’s Republic of China, the level, nature and confidence of our relations have probably reached an unprecedented level in their entire history. For 40 years – I would like everyone to hear this – for 40 years we have been negotiating border issues. We found compromises and solutions; we met each other halfway and closed the issue. 40 years! We have not managed to resolve these issues with all countries. Besides, we are developing economic ties, we are actively cooperating within international organisations and the United Nations Organisation.

We are creating new unions that are developing quite actively and are becoming attractive to many other countries: this is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, for instance. It was initially created to resolve border issues after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, but it then developed and now it is an organisation that other countries would like to join. Most probably at the coming summit in Ufa (our next summit is in Bashkiria) we will decide to accept India and Pakistan. We are also developing other forms of cooperation – BRICS, for instance.

In my address, I spoke of the integration of our efforts within the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Route Economic Belt. In other words, we are developing our relations in this area too. China is our major trade and economic partner. Our relations are developing very effectively.

Charlie Rose: Some say this is a natural relationship because China has the cash and Russia has natural resources, so there is a natural affinity right there.

Vladimir Putin: You should read what American analysts write. I am sure you do and are only pretending not to. American analysts, politologists and economists say the United States is also turning towards China. China is a growing economy. If anyone has any concern over a decrease in their growth rates, the First Deputy Chairman of the State Council of China said that 7 percent is the highest economic growth in the world in any case.

Not only Russia. Why? The whole world is looking at Asia, and Europe is also looking for opportunities to develop relations, while for us this does come naturally – we are neighbours and this is a natural affinity. Besides, there are certain values that we jointly uphold on the international arena quite successfully, like equal access to resolving key international issues.

Charlie Rose: Is it a more natural affinity than Europe and the United States? Is China more in the future a place that Russia feels more comfortable with than Europe or the United States? And could that lead to some anti-western alliance?

Vladimir Putin: Anti-western?

Charlie Rose: Anti-western, anti-American.

Vladimir Putin: There is no country, including China, against which we or China, as far as I understand China’s policy, would build our policy. We do not form alliances ‘against’, we build alliances in favour of things – in favour of implementing our national interests.

I would like to stress: you are expanding the North Atlantic bloc, NATO. The Soviet Union no longer exists, while the bloc was set up to counterbalance the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is gone, the Warsaw Treaty is gone, while NATO not only exists, it is expanding. You are doing it, while China and we are not creating any blocs, we do not have a bloc mentality, we are trying – and successfully, it seems – we are trying to think globally, not only sharing responsibility, but also trying to find mutually acceptable solutions and compromise. We never proceed from the position of force. We always search for solutions, solutions within the process of negotiations.

Charlie Rose: We have read much about you and your country; there are three things that I constantly see. One is a sense of warning to be respected, another is to have an equal conversation, a third is a sense, perhaps in your history, a great concern about borders and having a buffer zone for Russia. Am I accurate in that?

Vladimir Putin: You know, I hear this all the time: Russia wants to be respected. Don’t you? Who does not? Who wants to be humiliated? It is a strange question. As if this is some exclusive right – Russia demands respect. Does anyone like to be neglected? It is actually not about respect or the absence thereof – we want to ensure our interests without in any way harming our partners. However, we are counting on a constructive, direct and substantive dialogue. When we see an absence of dialogue or an absence of desire to talk to us, this naturally causes a certain response.

I will tell you an interesting story that has to do with the so-called eastern partnership that our colleagues in Western Europe are promoting. This idea, incidentally, is actively supported in the United States as well. Our first reaction to the idea of an eastern partnership was quite positive. Why? Because we proceeded from the notion that Russia and the East European countries are held together by a thousand ties, including economic ones. These are common technical regulations, as I said, common infrastructures and so on. Therefore, we proceeded from the idea that if Europe started working with them, pulling them in in some way, this would inevitably lead to some constructive interaction with Russia. And we would work together. We would argue over some things, agree on others, but we would be arriving at some common solutions that would allow us to build a new economic and, eventually, humanitarian and political space.

Unfortunately, none of this ever happened. How did the crisis in Ukraine that you began with occur: Ukraine was offered to sign the association agreement. Wonderful. However, everyone knows that Ukraine is a member of the free trade zone within the CIS (which Ukraine, actually, wanted to get established). This zone offers lots of preferences and benefits.

It took us 17 years to negotiate the terms of our accession to the WTO. Now, in one move, they decided to enter the customs territory of the Russian Federation through Ukraine. Is that the way things should be done? And when we suggested holding consultations, we were told it was none of our business. Is that the way issues should be resolved, specifically where Russia is concerned?

What has trust got to do with it? This is not about trust – it is about having our interests taken into consideration.

Charlie Rose: Let me talk about a couple of places where there is a dramatic need for cooperation between the United States and Russia. One is Iran and the nuclear negotiations and the P5+1. Do you think there will be an agreement? And what kind of agreement do you want to see?

Vladimir Putin: First, I want to stress what I see as the essential point here, namely that we have a common understanding with all participants in this process, including the United States and European countries, and Iran itself, I hope, on the fact that we all categorically oppose the spread of weapons of mass destruction. This is our position of principle and it is this that enables us to work constructively with the United States in this area.

We are very pleased to see that the Iranians have also changed their position considerably, which has made it possible to reach the agreements we have today. We most certainly support these agreements. The only thing that I think would be counterproductive would be to deliberately undermine the agreements by putting demands on Iran that it cannot fulfil and that are not relevant to the main issue – the issue of non-proliferation. I hope, though, that things will not reach this point and we will sign the agreement soon. I think that [Foreign Minister] Sergei Lavrov knows better than me when it will be signed.

Sergei Lavrov: When it is ready.

Vladimir Putin: I ask, “When can we sign it?”, and he says, “When it is ready.”

Our diplomats always talk this way. (Laughter)

I think the signing will take place soon. I met yesterday with the Director General of the IAEA, and what is most important of all here is that after the signing, the process of executing these agreements must begin, and this will take approximately six months.

Just as important though, is for your country, the United States, to take a positive attitude towards these agreements and give them your support, to secure Congress’ support. We know the discussions currently taking place in the United States, and we know that the President has the power to sign these agreements himself, meaning they do not need to be ratified. This is not our affair and we cannot decide it. There are issues we cannot decide for the authorities in Kiev, and there are matters we cannot decide for the authorities in Washington. The ball is therefore in your court. But we hope that the US President will achieve a result that will most certainly go down as one of the biggest foreign policy achievements of his presidency.

Charlie Rose: But do you believe that this agreement will go ahead, given what Mr Lavrov just said?

Vladimir Putin: I do, and we are working towards this. We think it is absolutely essential to defuse the situation. It is equally important, though, for all of the regional powers to have the assurance that they will not end up confronting a worsening situation in the region or face threats. This is the situation we absolutely have to avoid. I stress that Russia seeks to develop good-neighbourly and friendly relations with Iran and with all the countries in this region.

Charlie Rose: I have another foreign policy question before we turn to the economy and the issues a number of speakers raised.

Syria is another matter very much on our minds today. Do you see any solution to the current situation? Russia supports Bashar al-Assad’s government and has done so for many years. Iran also supports Assad’s government. It seems as though the pendulum is swinging this way and that. What possible solution do you see? How can we end this terrible civil war that has created millions of refugees? When can we find a solution?

Vladimir Putin: The sooner, the better. Let me repeat that our position on this issue is based on the fear that Syria could descend into the same kind of situation as what we see in Libya or in Iraq.

You know, after all, that before the state authorities and Saddam Hussein himself were destroyed, there were no terrorists in Iraq. Let’s not forget this. People prefer not to talk about this today, but is it really so hard to see who created the conditions for terrorism to flare up in these places? After Iraq was invaded, the old authorities were all sent fleeing or were destroyed, and Saddam was hanged. And then we ended up with the Islamic State.

Look at what is happening in Libya. It has ceased to exist as a state and is in the process of total disintegration. Even US diplomats have suffered losses there. We know the tragic events that took place there. The main issue, as we see it, is that we do not want to see Syria take this same road. This is our main motivation for supporting President Assad and his government. We think this is the right position. It would be difficult to expect us to take any other line. Moreover, I think that many would agree with our position on this issue.

I mentioned Iraq several times. We know what is going on there. The United States supports Iraq, supports, arms and trains the Iraqi army. In two or three attacks, the Islamic State captured so many weapons, more than the Iraqi army probably even has. This includes armoured vehicles and missiles, though the general public is poorly informed about all of this. This was all just recently. The Islamic State is now better armed than the Iraqi army. And this has all happened with the United States’ support.

The United States supposedly withdrew from Iraq, but our special services and the information we receive from Iraq itself indicate that thousands of US service personnel are still in Iraq. The results are deplorable and tragic.

We do not want all of this to repeat itself in Syria. We call on our partners in the United States and Europe, but above all in the United States, of course, to make greater efforts to fight this absolute evil that is fundamentalism, the Islamic State and similar groups that essentially all have their roots in the well-known global terrorist organisations that have already launched repeated attacks against the United States itself. Our call is for political settlement, which should, of course, guarantee the regime’s transformation, and we are ready to discuss this matter with President Assad too.

The UN just recently declared the importance of working together with President Assad to fight the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. We are ready to work with the [Syrian] President to ensure that the political transformation process can go ahead so that all people in Syria feel that they have access to the instruments of power, and in order to put an end to this armed confrontation. But we cannot achieve this from outside and through the use of force. This is the real issue.

Charlie Rose: All right, but are you ready to call on President Assad to step down if this would make an alternative political solution possible or would help to fight the Islamic State, say?

Vladimir Putin: Our moderator is a real American. I said, “without outside intervention”, and he asks me if we are “to call on President Assad to step down?” Only the Syrian people can do this. How can we ignore such basic things as this? As I just said, we are ready to engage in dialogue with President Assad about carrying out political reforms together with the healthy opposition forces. I think this is constructive and realistic.

Charlie Rose: Mr President, let’s come back to the economy. I have many questions. Here, we have Ronny Chichung Chan of Hang Lung Properties investment company, Mahmood Hashim Al-Kooheji, general director of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, and also president of YPF Argentina, Miguel Galuccio, with whom we will talk about energy. We all heard a lot about China here today. What opportunities do you see for building more profitable cooperation between China and Russia?

President of Investment Company Hang Lung Properties Ronny Chan: As the President [Vladimir Putin] said, I think the economy is the key area for cooperation between China and Russia. As a businessman, I think that Russia and China are a match made in heaven. Russia is rich in natural resources, whereas China lacks natural resources but is growing fast. China has capital for buying natural resources. From an economic point of view, it would be hard to find two countries that complement each other better.

The only remark I want to make is that I am sure that President Putin has a strategic vision for Russia’s relations with China, but Mr President, I am not so sure about your business community. I am not so sure that your businesspeople are ready to make use of the advantages the Chinese market offers. Just take a look around. How many Chinese are there here in the audience? I feel quite alone here on the stage. How many Russians are there in China? I don’t even know. Talking to my Russian friends about all of this over the last couple of days, I came to the conclusion that people here still see Asia as a place they would like to get hold of, but they are not ready to go and commit themselves economically there.

President Putin said just now that China is one of the world’s big economic powers today. Mr President, I would like the business leaders present here today to show more readiness to engage in practical work with us. You mentioned financing, for example, which is essential for many Russian projects. Many companies are registered in Hong Kong, because the Hong Kong market is linked to the Shanghai market, and will soon be linked to the Shenzhen market too. The Shanghai stock exchange is the fifth-biggest in the world, the Hong Kong exchange is in sixth place, and Shenzhen is number eight. If we combine these three exchanges, we get the second biggest securities market in the world. Why not have Russian companies register in Hong Kong? This would help them in their work with China. I think this would be an excellent opportunity, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: I agree with my colleague that we need to give Russian-Chinese economic relations concrete substance and projects. I think too that we need to do this not just in big business, but also develop ties at the level of small and medium-sized businesses, so as to weave a natural and living fabric for working together in all different production sectors.

In terms of individual countries, though, China is our number one trading partner. Our bilateral trade comes to $85 billion. Yesterday, I spoke about this with the First Vice Premier [Zhang Gaoli], and I discuss it regularly with President Xi Jinping. I think that over the coming years, we could take our trade to a figure of $200 billion.

All of what you said just now is absolutely correct. We must proceed without haste, of course, take things carefully and ensure all the necessary conditions. This goes for both us and our Chinese partners. I said in my opening remarks that we do not place any restrictions on free movement of capital. Even during the difficult crisis of 2008 and 2009, and last year too, we did not restrict capital exports in any way. But we hope that our partners will offer the same conditions. The yuan is becoming an increasingly stronger regional currency. We all see that this is happening. But experts know that there is not enough free movement of capital. If steps in this direction go ahead, this will be major progress towards liberalising our relations.

We understand very well that our Chinese partners also have to take a cautious approach, and they are the better judges of what measures they should take. The decision to carry out payments for our trade operations in our national currencies – the yuan and the ruble – is already a big step towards deepening and expanding our relations. The first yuan-ruble trading took place just recently, and we are sure that this will continue and develop, and will create new opportunities for work in the real sector of the economy.

Overall, I agree with you. We need to keep moving in this direction and we shouldn’t focus just on agreements at the government level and just on decisions made by the sovereign funds and so on. Of course, this is all important, too, and creates a platform for broader format work. We are working on this and we will continue in this direction.

Thank you.

Charlie Rose: Thank you. Next, we have Mr Mahmood Hashim Al-Kooheji, the general director of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company. What investment opportunities do you believe exist in Russia, and what questions do you have?

General director of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company Mahmood Hashim Al-Kooheji: Please allow me to thank you, Mr President, for organising this forum and for inviting me to attend, because this gives us an opportunity to meet our partners in Russia.

Mumtalakat is Bahrain’s sovereign fund. Like other sovereign funds, we have the opportunity to invest throughout the world. We feel that it is imperative to have sustainable growth and there should be potential for investments that will give us long-term stability and interest.

We have investments in Europe, the United States and other regions. We are currently considering and analysing opportunities to invest in Russia. When you ask me about the Russian economy, I think that it is very promising and it has a very solid foundation. The reason I think this is because the Russian economy has a highly trained workforce, a highly educated workforce within the country. In addition, it has the necessary resources that support this workforce – this has been brought up extensively. So the Russian economy is a very large market, which makes it much simpler for us to find a niche. These three components allow us to feel confident that investments in Russia will be good market investments and will be long-term.

Our fund tries to find partners that will allow us to work freely in the economy. I think, Mr President, your initiative in organising the Russian Direct Investment Fund is a very good idea and it is a major step because when we came to the Russian market, we found an institution, an organisation, that knows this market and works with it professionally and transparently. This is very important when we are selecting our partners. Any investment in the Russian economy allows us to find the necessary partner. This makes the Russian economy very appealing to us in the long-term.

Charlie Rose: Thank you.

To my right is Miguel Galuccio from Argentina. As you know, Argentina and Gazprom have signed an agreement on working tougher on a gas field. What are the opportunities for joint work between the two states in the energy sector?

President of YPF Argentina Miguel Galuccio: First of all, thank you very much, Mr President, for giving me the opportunity to participate in this forum.

Energy is a very important direction for all South American nations, especially Argentina. We have extensive experience in economic growth, which our economy demonstrated over the past ten years. We are producing oil and gas – mainly gas. We have traditional natural resources, we also have natural gas and traditional energy resources. Moreover, we also have non-conventional sources of energy, which we are now beginning to develop.

Volume has increased by 25 percent recently. We believe non-conventional energy sources can be very efficient, and their production can be very profitable. To meet this goal, we must make major investments into this sector, and we need other nations’ and companies’ technologies and know-how. We feel there are great opportunities arising in energy.

We are engaged in strategic cooperation with Russian companies. Russia and Argentina have formed a wonderful relationship. We strive to develop the potential of our relations and work in various sectors. Our company has signed an agreement with Gazprom that will give us the opportunity to continue cooperating effectively in the future. We have signed a memorandum of mutual understanding, which is aimed towards the joint development of our country’s resource base.

Thank you.

Charlie Rose: Do you have any other comments on this issue, as far as opportunities that are becoming available for both countries are concerned? It seems to me it would be very interesting to hear the points of view from different regions.

We already talked today about the effect of sanctions. You feel the effect of the sanctions is overstated. Many people have said so. How do you view the opportunities and the need for further advancement of the Russian economy? What paths exist for this, in terms of the institutional framework, the rule of law and so on?

Vladimir Putin: With regard to what was just said by our colleagues, as far as Argentina is concerned, President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and I discussed the opportunity for cooperation in the oil and gas sector during her visit to Russia and my visit to Argentina. We agreed that our leading companies will engage in joint work. To be honest, I don’t know what happened next, but I was very glad to hear just now about the specific agreements to begin this joint work. Indeed, Argentina has enormous potential, and naturally, working together with a leading global company like Gazprom can give a very positive result.

As for sovereign wealth funds, if I am not mistaken, the Bahrain sovereign fund is not only a partner of our Russian Direct Investment Fund, but also has an agreement that, I believe, your fund has 10 percent participation in all the projects by the Russian Direct Investment Fund – is that correct? Please note what our partners have agreed to. Automatically, as soon as the Russian Direct Investment Fund implements a project, the Bahrain fund automatically joins at 10 percent. This is a very high level of trust not only towards the Russian economy, but also towards the professionalism of the colleagues at the Russian Direct Investment Fund. I would like to ask everyone to welcome our partner and express words of gratitude for this trust.

Things are not so bad as far as sanctions are concerned: there are upsides and downsides. This is a time when we are undergoing structural changes and it is genuinely possible to take steps that can have long-term positive effects.

As for the sanctions you mentioned, and how we are going to overcome today’s situation, I would describe the current state of affairs by saying that it is not any kind of catastrophe for us. We feel that we must achieve several goals; they are less ambitious than the ones we set several years ago, but I very much hope that this will be a different quality – a better quality – than we had in previous years.

Here is what we want to achieve: first of all, we want to ensure our economy’s growth in the short term, over the coming years, at the global average level, which is about 3.5 percent.

Second, it is imperative for us to achieve annual labour productivity growth of 5 percent.

And third – this is a very important indicator – we must bring inflation down to 4 percent. This is what we must strive for – absolutely, through a coordinated and balanced macroeconomic and budget policy.

All the trends we are currently seeing in our economy allow us to assert that these goals are absolutely realistic and we will reach them soon. At the same time, we would naturally prefer not to respond to the destructive actions that some of our partners are attempting to impose – and which they are imposing at a loss to themselves. There have been various calculations among our European partners; some have said that European manufacturers are losing around 40 to 50 billion; now, the most recent reports I saw and heard from Europe say that European manufacturers may suffer losses of up to 100 billion.

Our trade with Europe has dropped by nearly a quarter. Meanwhile, trade with your country, the United States, has grown by 5.6 percent. Our commodity flows from EU countries to the Russian Federation have decreased somewhat, and import has nearly halved; it used to be just under $30 billion, and now it is slightly over $15 billion.

At the same time, if we look at the trade structure, with the increase in trade with the United States, imports from the US have increased by about 11 percent. Overall, we can certainly say that this does not balance out the losses in cooperation with Europe, but I am confident, I know for certain, that nobody wants any losses at all, in the sense that Russia is experiencing a recession and many experts in Europe – not Russian experts, European ones – are talking about stagnation.

So if we want to create absolute growth in the global economy, in Europe, in Russia and in general, then we certainly need to eliminate various sanctions, especially unlawful ones imposed outside the framework of the United Nations, and work together. I have already stated how we are going to do that. We will broaden economic freedoms, this is a key element; we will ensure a competitive jurisdiction and work on our human resources and improving management systems.

Charlie Rose: On my right is Heinz Hermann Thiele, Knorr-Bremse chairman of the supervisory board. We were just talking about sanctions and import substitution. What do you think are the risks and opportunities? What could you say in this regard about Russia? How do you see the situation from a Western point of view?

Supervisory Board Chairman of Knorr-Bremse Heinz Hermann Thiele: I doubt I can present the European point of view here, because you know, many countries on the continent hold different views. I can only speak for myself personally and I can share my view of the situation.

I have always been against sanctions and I still believe they are wrong. I am not the only person in Germany who holds this view. I support President Putin’s statement: it is time to bring the sanctions to an end.

I hope that now everyone in Europe has seen that Europe itself has suffered from the sanctions, and very significantly. If we look at the statistics from 2014–2015, the last two years, exports from Germany to Russia have dropped by 50 percent. I am not counting our subsidiaries which are working in Russia – and we have many of them – incidentally, they are working quite successfully in manufacturing and transport; we have excellent experience in cooperating with Russian partners.

Coming back to the situation in other European nations, look at Italy: Italy has lost only 10 percent of exports compared to the indicators for last year. So the situation is not as bad for them. In other words, the effects for different European nations also differ. Their interests vary as well. In this respect, I cannot say that we have common interests. Common decisions are made at the political level, but one way or another, regardless of the motivation, these are wrong decisions.

We must understand that Russia, in implementing its policy of turning to the East, is taking an absolutely logical step, because the East can offer Russia a great deal. We should not forget that we Europeans, we Germans – my company, I have a medium-sized company – we are working on the international arena, we have great relations with, for example, the Chinese. We have excellent joint business, and we very much like working with them. Why shouldn’t Russia do the same?

To some degree, it is tragic that we have pushed Russia in that direction through the sanctions. We need to leave the sanctions behind. But all nations should have the opportunity to make independent decisions on where it is best to develop partnerships: in the West or the East, it does not matter. We are in favour of global development – peaceful development, I should add. Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot say that we are satisfied with the situation in either aspect.

To be continued.

[I assume that this means further translation of interactions with foreign business interests are forthcoming on the Russian website. If you are interested, you can go to the Russian presidential site and watch for the continued information.]

 

 

NATO-Russia Collision Ahead?

June 24th, 2015 by Patrick J. Buchanan

“U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe: A Message to Russia,” ran the headline in The New York Times.

“In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries,” said the Times. The sources cited were “American and allied officials.”

The Pentagon’s message received a reply June 16. Russian Gen. Yuri Yakubov called the U.S. move “the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War.” When Moscow detects U.S. heavy weapons moving into the Baltic, said Yakubov, Russia will “bolster its forces and resources on the western strategic theater of operations.”

Specifically, Moscow will outfit its missile brigade in Kaliningrad, bordering Lithuania and Poland, “with new Iskander tactical missile systems.” The Iskander can fire nuclear warheads.

The Pentagon and Congress apparently think Vladimir Putin is a bluffer and, faced by U.S. toughness, will back down.

For the House has passed and Sen. John McCain is moving a bill to provide Ukraine with anti-armor weapons, mortars, grenade launchers and ammunition. The administration could not spend more than half of the $300 million budgeted, unless 20 percent is earmarked for offensive weapons.

Congress is voting to give Kiev a green light and the weaponry to attempt a recapture of Donetsk and Luhansk from pro-Russian rebels, who have split off from Ukraine, and Crimea, annexed by Moscow.

If the Pentagon is indeed moving U.S. troops and heavy weapons into Poland and the Baltic States, and is about to provide arms to Kiev to attack the rebels in East Ukraine, we are headed for a U.S.-Russian confrontation unlike any seen since the Cold War.

And reconsider the outcome of those confrontations.

Lest we forget, while it was Khrushchev who backed down in the Cuban missile crisis, President Eisenhower did nothing to halt the crushing of the Hungarian rebels, Kennedy accepted the Berlin Wall, and Lyndon Johnson refused to lift a finger to save the Czechs when their “Prague Spring” was snuffed out by Warsaw Pact tank armies.

Even Reagan’s response to the crushing of Solidarity was with words not military action.

None of these presidents was an appeaser, but all respected the geostrategic reality that any military challenge to Moscow on the other side of NATO’s Red Line in Germany carried the risk of a calamitous war for causes not justifying such a risk.

Yet we are today risking a collision with Russia in the Baltic States and Ukraine, where no vital U.S.

interest has ever existed and where our adversary enjoys military superiority.As Les Gelb writes in The National Interest, “the West’s limp hand” in the Baltic and “Russia’s military superiority over NATO on its Western borders,” is “painfully evident to all.”

If NATO ups the military ante, Moscow can readily trump it. Moscow has significant advantages in conventional forces — backed by potent tactical nuclear weapons and a stated willingness to use them to sustain advantages or avoid defeat. The last thing NATO wants is to look weak or lose a confrontation.

And NATO losing any such confrontation is the likely outcome of the collision provoked by the Pentagon and John McCain.

For if Kiev moves with U.S. arms against the rebels in the east, and Moscow sends planes, tanks and artillery to annihilate them, Kiev will be routed. And what we do then?

Send carriers into the Black Sea to attack the Russian fleet at Sevastopol, and battle Russian missiles and air attacks?

Before we schedule a NATO confrontation with Russia, we had best look behind us to see who is following America’s lead.

According to a new survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, fewer than half of the respondents in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain thought NATO should fight if its Baltic allies were attacked by Russia. Germans, by a 58-38 margin, did not think military force should be used by NATO to defend Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, though that is what Article 5 of the NATO charter requires of Germany.

Americans, by 56-37, favor using force to defend the Baltic States. On military aid to Ukraine, America is divided, 46 percent in favor, 43 percent opposed. However, only 1 in 5 Germans and Italians favor arming Ukraine, and in not a single major NATO nation does the arming of Ukraine enjoy clear majority support.

In Washington, Congressional hawks are primed to show Putin who is truly tough. But in shipping weapons to Ukraine and sending U.S. troops and armor into the Baltic States, they have behind them a divided nation and a NATO alliance that wants no part of this confrontation.

Unlike the Cuban missile crisis, it is Russia that has regional military superiority here, and a leader seemingly prepared to ride the escalator up right alongside us.

Are we sure it will be the Russians who blink this time?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.” To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Actors, authors, academics and architects have today called on the UK government to push for immediate sanctions on Israel until it abides by international law and ends its occupation of Palestinian land.

They join other big names from the world of film and rock music, as well as 20,000 members of the public, who have signed a petition which will be delivered at the Houses of Parliament today.

The film directors, Ken Loach and Peter Kosminsky, actors Maxine Peake, Samuel West and Miriam Margolyes, musician Brian Eno, poet Benjamin Zephaniah and the writers and academics, Tariq Ali and Karma Nabulsi, are among those* who have put their name to the call.

Will Alsop OBE, the RIBA award winning architect, another signatory, said: “‘I have signed the petition as I object to the people in the Gaza Strip being forced to live in a prison camp.”

Miriam Margolyes OBE, who played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, said: “To my immense sadness, I feel bound to sign the petition calling for sanctions against Israel.

“Netanyahu is clearly committed to the continuation of the occupation, the settlements and the blatant flouting of UN resolutions. Only international sanctions can perhaps percolate the Israeli sensibility and persuade them to halt the wickedness they perpetrate.”

Explaining his reasons for adding his name to the petition, the film director Ken Loach said: “We should no longer accept Israel’s brazen flouting of international law, theft of Palestinian land and oppression of the Palestinian people. When political leaders tolerate such brutality, civil society must take action. That means an international campaign of boycotts, disinvestments and sanctions to show the Israeli government that it cannot act in this manner with impunity.”

The petition has been organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an organisation dedicated to campaigning for human rights and justice, in response to the hardline attitude of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his Cabinet, whose members have been vocal in voicing their opposition to a Palestinian state.**

Hugh Lanning, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “One day before he was re-elected in March, Netanyahu stood in an illegal Israeli settlement and gave a televised interview in which he made it clear there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch.

Since the election, members of his Cabinet have stated explicitly that they will not give up an inch of land to the Palestinians, and new settlement building has been announced in East Jerusalem.

It is clear that this Israeli government, like others before it, has no commitment to international law or any kind of ‘peace process’. It is now imperative that our government pushes the EU to impose immediate sanctions on Israel, including a full two-way arms embargo.

The Palestinians deserve a future free from occupation, apartheid and, in Gaza, crippling siege. The imposition of sanctions by our government and the EU will go a long way to achieving this.

Lanning will join Richard Burden MP, Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Group, Haya Al-Farra from the Palestinian Mission in the UK, and Sarah Colborne, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, to deliver the petition to the office of the Prime Minister.

The hand-in took place at 2.15pm on 23rd June, during PSC’s National Lobby of Parliament for Palestine, during which up to 168 MPs will be lobbied by constituents on the subject of Palestine.

*Signatories to the petition include: Tariq Ali (writer, journalist, filmmaker), Will Alsop (architect), Jonathan Chadwick (theatre director, writer), Selma Dabbagh (writer),Brian Eno (musician),Peter Kosminsky (writer, director, producer), Paul Laverty (lawyer, scriptwriter),Ken Loach (director), Miriam Margolyes (actor), Karma Nabulsi (writer, academic), Maxine Peake (actor), Alexei Sayle (comedian, writer, presenter), Ahdaf Soueif (writer, commentator), Samuel West (actor), Benjamin Zephaniah (poet, writer, musician).

The United States is seeking to have a “never-ending war” in the Middle East which would make the countries there unable to stand up to Israel, says former CIA contractor Steven Kelley.

“The purpose of creating this group [ISIL] is to have a never-ending war in the region that serves several purposes, obviously, it’s going to break apart the countries and disrupt the people and reduce their ability to stand up to Israel,” he told Press TV on Tuesday.

Kelley went on to say that “the other thing is providing the constant flow of orders for weapons from the military-industrial complex back home, which of course is feeding a lot of money to the senators that are pushing for these wars.”

A new report said the Pentagon is paying monthly stipends to the so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria who are being trained to fight the ISIL Takfiri terrorists.

The Pentagon is paying stipends of $250 to $400 to the rebels, said Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith.

Kelley said, “They’ve run out of credible moderate groups because what they have been arming and training now have graduated and moved on to full-fledged ISIL people.”

“The idea of feeding them money like this, that’s definitely something new and it’s a new level of pathetic” move the US is taking, he noted.

“If they do this, it’s going to be a little bit harder to pretend like they didn’t create these people when the time comes that they join the more extreme fighters,” Kelley added.

In the heart of London Docklands this September, international arms dealers will be schmoozing over cappuccinos and paninis in the bi-yearly “Defence & Security Equipment International” arms fair.

As the Middle East burns and U.K. discourse on human rights becomes increasingly threadbare, it will be business as usual for the profiteers, as the DSEI fair promotes everything from bullets to battleships. Between the 15th-18th of September, London’s ExCeL centre will morph into a big boys’ playground, witnessing deals that reinforce Western militarism and strengthen authoritarian regimes throughout the world.

According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade, Saudi Arabia is Britain’s most prolific weapons buyer, with the U.K. government licensing over £3.8 billion worth of arms to the Gulf regime since 2010.

In Yemen, it is civilians who are bearing the brunt of British-built warplanes flying overhead, with over 2,000 killed since March 2015 and 80% of the population currently requiring humanitarian assistance. Earlier this year, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond pledged that Britain would support the Saudi-led assault “in every practical way short of engaging in combat.

The London arms fair is a crucial event for those in the war business. Let’s take a look at who may be there.

Who is selling?

This year’s event boasts 1,500 exhibitors ‘‘in a list that is growing daily.” The2013 fair hosted arms companies from over 50 countries, selling everything from small arms and warships to surveillance equipment and riot control gear. Information on some of the larger companies involved is listed below:

  • BAE Systems is the world’s third largest arms producer with a portfolio that includes fighter aircraft, warships, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, missiles and small arms ammunition. Long-term customers include the repressive Saudi Arabian regime and the U.K. Ministry of Defence.
  • Heckler & Koch is one of the world’s largest small arms dealers producing pistols, rifles, machine guns, sub-machine guns and grenade launchers.
  • Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest arms producer and particularly dominant in terms of fighter aircraft. It is also the prime contractor for long-range Trident nuclear missiles deployed on the U.S.S. Ohio and U.K. Vanguard submarines.
  • Rafael is a major state-owned Israeli arms company that develops missiles, electronic warfare systems, radar, and communications systems.
  • Raytheon is most famous for missiles, including the Stinger family of surface-to-air missiles and the Tomahawk cruise missile. It is also a winner of drone contracts in the U.S.
  • Rosoboronexport has been Syria’s main weapons supplier in recent years and according to Human Rights Watch, has accounted for 78% of Syria’s imports of major conventional weapons.

Who’s buying?

Information on countries participating this year is scarce, though the list of those invited to the 2013 fair goes some way towards painting a picture of who may have been present then.

Fourteen of those invited to the last event represented authoritarian regimes, 9 were identified by the U.K. Foreign Office as having ”the most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns” and 9 on the list were actually at war when invited.

These deals are not just about the buying and selling of weaponry and military equipment. Nor are they just about fuelling conflicts, silencing dissent, and aiding those committing brutal human rights violations. This is about the purchase of silence from a government that claims to respect human rights and democracy. Not only is the U.K. government turning a blind eye, it’s actively pulling up the drawbridge when a handful of the 50 million globally displaced by conflict attempt to seek refuge in the UK.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Aiming to disrupt the event (as well as build networks of solidarity), anti-arms trade campaigners with Stop the Arms Fair coalition are holding a week of action from the 7th-12th of September of this year.

It has been an enduring question: how to monetise ideas and intellectual property, and ring them in an effort to stave off the imitators and pilferers.  In this view, ideas are not to be shared so much as loaned on interest, or transferred by fee.  The central result of this will always be the same: censorship, restriction, and limits. These moves are always framed as protective ones, whether to the consumer, or the creator of that copyrighted material.

Australia is a country very much interested in the anti-piracy push. It should hardly come as surprising to a country with a notorious love affair for censorship, at one point on par with provincial Ireland in its prudish desire to ban.

The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, the handiwork of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has passed in the Australian senate with bipartisan support. The result was 37-13.  Its stated aim is to curb online privacy of television shows and film. Its unmentioned consequence will be control and censorship.

The CAOI Act grants rights holders means to obtain orders to make Internet Service Providers take down objectionable sites. As Vanessa Hutley, General Manager of Music Rights Australia explained with satisfaction, “The new section 115A gives copyright owners the ability to apply for court orders against illegal offshore sites whose primary purpose is copyright infringement.”[1]

As with so many things in this field, censorship can be moralised on several levels.  “We thank the Government and the Opposition for supporting this important legislation and through it showing their support for the creative industries which are such an important pat of Australia’s cultural and economic life.”

The anti-piracy drive tends to be a form of political drag.  Take the dress off, and you have the face and gnarled body of a state mandated censor.  The ultimate point behind this exercise is controlling the Internet.  While the European Union, as with other political entities, has had trouble with this concept, eight of its member states could still say in a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk that regulation should only occur “where there is clear evidence to do so.”[2]

Indeed, the European Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has made reforming its approach to the Internet a vital part of job creation in what has been deemed a digital single market strategy.  This entails reducing barriers in terms of blocking online video consumption and a reform of copyright rules.

Not so in Australia, where the reverse is true.  A tendency exists to be terrified by the Internet, with all its corrupting promise. The result is an enforced immaturity and celebrated paternalism from a dowdy, frightened political class.  “There are 3.4 billion people plus in the world using the Internet,” observed a worried government Senator Nicola Marino.  “At least 1.3 billion use Facebook.  There are tens of thousands of websites, many with absolutely no encryption and no protection of any sort.”[3]

What frightening prospects, suggests the Senator.  “This is the environment people are in.  The 3.4 billion using the Internet often have no idea what they are exposing themselves to or their systems to when they engage in this space.”  Whatever can be done about restricting people’s choice to view the Internet?

If one was to consult the views of libertarian senator David Leyonhjelm, the very idea of blocking sites serves little purpose with damaging effect.  “Website blocking is a drastic remedy and a blunt tool.  The bill has the potential to be used against a range of legitimate sites and has inadequate protections for non-party interests.”

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam also feels that artists will not necessarily get paid for their work under this new regime. The bill, rather, was a Trojan horse of broader regulatory purpose.  “This poorly drafted bill may open the way for the courts to criminalise the legitimate use of VNPs, will be trivial to circumvent, wide open to scope-creep in the future and does nothing to advance genuine copyright reform.”[4]

What other politicians speaking in favour of the bill have argued for is a normalcy of self-censorship.  Eventually, the Australian example will take root in cyber soil, encouraging those providing content to gag and remove when needed.  (In truth, countries such as Russia and Turkey already have similar laws of blocking and taking down sites.)[5]  Initial court actions will, Senator David Coleman regrettably observes, take place.  There will be “court orders issued for take down notices for infringing material.”

Over time, however, “ISPs and content providers will work together in a sensible way.”  Sensibility is the pseudonym of the censor – be sensible, and the rest will hopefully wake up to their fiendish ways.   The courts will, in time, be unnecessary, as “content providers and ISPs will take down offending material” in a cooperative fashion “as it should be”.

Gazing into the looking glass, and the behaviour of the major parties towards such copyright meddling provides us a picture framed by the intentions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  The supposed free trade provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership under negotiation have little to do with free trade and much to do with placing limits on it.  Perhaps the latest bill is but a nasty taster of things to come, having little to do with quality and content, but everything to do with restraint and limitation.

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

Notes:

[1] http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/451960/everything-you-need-to-know-about-australias-new-internet-piracy-filter.htm

[2] http://www.itnews.com.au/News/405651,eight-eu-nations-urge-caution-on-internet-regulation.aspx?utm_source=feed&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=iTnews+

[3] https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/06/users-betrayed-australia-adopts-copyright-censorship-regime

[4] http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/media-releases/debate-site-blocking-regime-begins-urgent-search-opposition-underway

[5] http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/details.jsp?id=15580

You can’t create something from nothing, though the austerity economists would insist you can. The Greek economy has become a punitive theme park, one filled with measures filtered through the troika (European Commission, ECB and IMF) and then implemented by a government that won elections on an anti-austerity platform.

The coalition has so far placed the raising of taxes as central to raising €8 billion over this year and the next.  This is already problematic, given that obtaining that revenue has been Greece’s perennial nightmare.  None of these schemes address the problem of how it is collected.  The elusive catching of the fabulously wealthy revenue earner by the tax man continues.

Among the reforms is a one-off 12 percent tax on corporate profits above €500m in 2014, while raising the overall corporate tax to 29 percent from the current rate of 26. Companies happy to shirk their tax obligations may well find another haven to park their activities.

All in all, it is households set for the greatest blows.  There is the proposed re-introduction of the unpopular solidarity tax from 2010 for households with incomes of over €30,000 a year.

There are also standout proposals to increase contributions to the government pension scheme by 3.9 percent, while phasing out the early retirement provision after January next year.  While the emphasis here is on employee contributions rather than cuts in pensioner incomes, the situation is troubling in a country which has already seen pension cuts of 40 percent.[1]

Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, is still not convinced that the pension system, as it stands, is viable.  While he ponders its apparent demise, the stunning reality of having 45 percent of Greece’s 2.5 million retirees living below the EU designated poverty line remains.

Broader collective punishment is also promised over a range of value-added tax rates – 6 percent for medicines, books and theatre tickets; 13 percent on food (mostly fresh), hotel accommodation, electrical energy and food services; and a hefty 23 percent on other products and services.  The abolition of the special tax status granted to Aegean islands is also being considered.

The austerity high priests are, it seems, far from dead.  They have been resurrected, feeding their toxic convictions to Syriza.  This is rather different from what was promised by its leader Alexis Tsipras in January, who claimed that his party’s ascension to power concluded the “vicious cycle of austerity”.  “The verdict of the Greek people, your verdict, annuls today in an indisputable fashion the bailout agreements of austerity and disaster.”

The focus here is less slashing than constriction, a form of financially authorised asphyxiation.  “The cycle so far,” observes economist Sean Richards, “involves Greece implementing austerity followed by economic weakness and at times collapse which means that yet more austerity is required and then repeat.”[2]  The formula has been disastrous: the reduction of real wages by a third, the shrinking of the economy by a quarter.

Central to this is the question of sovereignty, which is denied to debtor states held hostage by the noose of default.  The Minister of State, Alexis Flambouraris, is certainly aware of that, making it clear that Greek parliamentarians are to vote, not along party lines firmed up by European diktat, but “by resorting to the people.”  A “unanimous parliamentary group” was needed to “forge ahead in difficult conditions after the agreement”.  That is hardly a statement of confidence, given the latest Syriza turn to supposed tough measures.

Everyone dealing with debt restructuring knows that write-offs are feasible, and management schemes possible to keep creditors at bay.  Notions of total re-payments, with interest, are dangerous, not merely to the health of an economy but that of society.  This is pure creditor dogmatism in action.

For that reason, Panos Kammenos of the Independent Greeks party (Anel) has made debt relief of some form from the creditors a “red line” in negotiators with the troika, and with members of his own coalition. “It is now very clear that it is Greece that is negotiating, not simply a government that is negotiating.  We hope that the course of negotiations will be positive for the Greek people.”

Not even the troika is speaking with one voice on the latest proposals.  The IMF, for instance, has expressed reluctance with the latest stance from Athens that emphasise taxes over spending cuts.  As ever, the monetary fund can only see the world through the glasses of reduction, not growth.

With that said, even an IMF Working Paper would claim in 2013 that, “We find forecasters significantly underestimated the increase in unemployment and the decline in private consumption and investment associated with fiscal consolidation.”  Such austerity measures, in other words, have their own invidious multiplier effects.  GDP, instead of growing, will again be reduced.

Any proposal that keeps Greece within the troubled Eurozone will be bitter, less a pill to swallow than a whole package of them.  Raising revue is the preferred method in the latest round of proposals, but it entails a traditional slug for the vulnerable.  Rumours are now circulating that a proposal will go to the Greek parliament by the weekend for a vote.

Greece is the problem in a minor key. The major one is European and global, a note of desperation and bombast that threatens to burst the entire, financial scheme.  Grexit will be the cacophonous sound for many countries who wish to see their terms of unity renegotiated.  It may not necessarily be the worst outcome, a cleansing measure that will enable, not merely Greece to reorder itself in the scheme of things, but Europe’s own institutions.  Syriza, however, have suggested that exit is something to avoid. Failed austerity, however dressed, remains seductive.

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

Notes:

[1] http://rt.com/news/269200-greece-pensioners-protest-austerity/

[2] https://notayesmanseconomics.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/this-new-greece-bailout-proposal-will-crash-the-economy-once-again/

 

The Medical and Scientific Assessment of Israeli War Crimes

June 24th, 2015 by Dr. Derek A Summerfield

Last July, a group of doctors and scientists wrote to the Lancet expressing dismay at the carnage in Gaza and Israel’s propaganda. Since its publication, Sir Mark Pepys, a leading light in the Jewish Medical Association has been protesting about the decision of Lancet editor Richard Horton to publish the letter and last month Pepys organised a letter of protest, under the name Concerned Academics for Editorial Ethics (sole functions, attack Horton, defend Israel), to publisher Reed Elsevier about Horton. This prompted a counter-letter and campaign, Hands off the Lancet.  http://jfjfp.com/?tag=sir-mark-pepys

Will Mark Pepys et al modify their allegations in the light of the UN report on war crimes?

Pepys et al have accused the signatories of the open letter of protest about Gaza 2014, together with Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton, of knowingly publishing fabrications on the basis of a political mindset that “would have made Goebbels proud”. I wonder if Pepys would care to modify these allegations, and set the academic record right, in the light of the findings of the UN Independent Commission of Enquiry, just published.

The report concludes that “the extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come”.

Above all it concludes that the evidence points to the commission of war crimes by Israel, which puts things in the territory of the International Criminal Court. The Commission also states that Hamas in Gaza may also have committed war crimes, which is not to suggest any parity between the effects of homemade rockets on the one hand, and the massive and systematic damage wrought across Gaza on the other: 6000 airstrikes, 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired, deploying US-supplied state-of-the-art bombs which have such broad impact that their use predictably inflicts indiscriminate damage- and this on one of the world’s most heavily populated and congested urban spaces The commission found that at least 142 Gazan families lost three or more members in attacks on their homes, around 742 fatalities at least. Look at the disparity in the overall casualty figures: Palestinian deaths 2251 (mostly civilians, including 551 children); Israeli deaths 73 (almost all soldiers, no children).

I would like to ask Pepys et al why they think that Israel denied the UN Commission access to Gaza, and thus the chance to take firsthand testimony directly?

Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza as far as international law is concerned and is therefore subject to all the legal obligations of an occupying power to protect civilians.

Even Israeli newspapers like the Jerusalem Post cite the phrase “mowing the grass” as capturing the strategic thinking behind the assault on Gaza last year, as with the very similarly conducted assault in 2008- a UN Commission concluded that Israel had committed war crimes in that case too. The core intention is to unmake Palestinian society in Gaza, already imprisoned and impoverished for years by Israeli siege and blockade, to render it traumatised and impotent. Indiscriminate attack is the point of the operation, not a side-effect. The UN report refers to “Israel’s lamentable track record in holding wrong doers accountable”, but the Gaza operation was conducted as intended : the Israeli government and military high command are scarcely likely to hold themselves to account. Who will?

Competing interests: I was a signatory to the Manduca et al letter in The Lancet July 2014. 23 years experience of health and human rights-related involvement in Israel/Palestine.

The Pentagon has released a book of instructions on the “law of war,” detailing acceptable ways of killing the enemy. The manual also states that journalists can be labeled “unprivileged belligerents,” an obscure term that replaced “enemy combatant.”

The 1,176-page “Department of Defense Law of War Manual” explains that shooting, exploding, bombing, stabbing, or cutting the enemy are acceptable ways of getting the job done, but the use of poison or asphyxiating gases is not allowed.

Surprise attacks and killing retreating troops have also been given the green light.

But the lengthy manual doesn’t only talk about protocol for those on the frontline. It also has an extensive section on journalists – including the fact that they can be labeled terrorists.

“In general, journalists are civilians. However, journalists may be members of the armed forces, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces, or unprivileged belligerents,” the manual states.

The term “unprivileged belligerents” replaces the Bush-era term “unlawful enemy combatant.”

When asked what this means, professor of Journalism at Georgetown Chris Chambers told RT that he doesn’t know, “because the Geneva Convention, other tenets of international law, and even United States law – federal courts have spoken on this – doesn’t have this thing on ‘unprivileged belligerents’.”

This means that embedded journalists, who are officially sanctioned by the military and attached to a unit, will be favored by an even greater degree than before. “It gives them license to attack or even murder journalists that they don’t particularly like but aren’t on the other side,” Chambers said.

Even the Obama Administration’s definition of “enemy combatant” was vague enough, basically meaning any male of a military age who “happens to be there,” Chambers added.

The manual also deals with drones, stating that there is “no prohibition in the law of war on the use of remotely piloted aircraft (also called “unmanned aerial vehicles”).” Such weapons may offer certain advantages over the weapons systems. It states that drones can be designated as military aircraft if used by a country’s military.

The book includes a foreword from the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Stephen Preston, who states that “the law of war is part of who we are.” He goes on to say that the manual will“help us remember the hard-learned lessons from the past.”

The manual is the Pentagon’s first all-in-one legal guide for the four military branches. Previously, each sector was tasked with writing their own guidelines for engagement, which presumably did not list journalists as potential traitors.

The Pentagon did not specify the exact circumstances under which a journalist might be declared an unprivileged belligerent, but Chambers says he is sure “their legal department is going over it, as is the National Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.”

Image: The People’s Assembly in Whitehall. Photo by Lesley Docksey.

It was to be expected, and nothing more clearly illustrated the gap between the uncaring rich and the 99 per cent.

On the day when many thousands of people from across Britain poured into London (and elsewhere) to demonstrate against the Tory government’s austerity measures, high society poured out of London to attend the last day of racing at one of the main events of the summer season for the privileged -Royal Ascot.  While coaches, buses, cars and trains decanted protestors, Waterloo Station was awash with top hats and posh frocks waiting to board the Ascot train.

Up to 250,000 people came to London and no one can argue that the demonstration, organised by The People’s Assembly, wasn’t representative of the broad spectrum of people’s anger against Tory policies, policies that have seen vital budget cuts affecting so many people, with the poorest targeted more than most, and the rich not at all.  None of the cuts have affected them, their friends the foreign ‘investors’ who have bought up half of London, or the global corporations.  Many international companies pay little tax and make use of “zero hour contracts ” which allow the government to point to the rise in employment while ignoring that such jobs can make people poorer.

Instead of those who need it, tax payers’ money will still subsidise the arms trade and arms deals with dodgy regimes, nuclear power and underwrite vanity projects such as the unnecessary, unwanted and environmentally damaging high-speed-train line.

Every major and minor union was there, with many people calling for a General Strike.  Tories don’t like trade unions and want to curb their right to strike even more.  Give them enough room and they’ll outlaw that right or create so many legal hoops for unionists to jump through it will be all but impossible.

All public services were represented.  Even those which are supposed to be ‘protected’ from the cuts are suffering from knock-on effects.  Teachers’ unions large and small were there, and Christine Blower, head of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) was one of the speakers.

The National Health Service, rightly the pride of the British and envied by the poor across the world for its accessibility to immediate treatment and care, is under threat.  Struggling with debts caused by the Private Finance Initiative deals, and with Tories eager to privatise as much as they can get away with in order to ‘balance the books’ (too many Tory MPs have connections with private healthcare firms), NHS staff are struggling.  From surgeons and theatre staff marching in their scrubs to child psychotherapists, nurses, porters – all those who could be there were there.

The Fire Service has had budgets cut and fire stations closed or ‘rationalised’.  The London Fire Brigade suffered the closure of 10 Fire Stations last year with the inevitable redundancies – they came with their fire engine.

Police forces across the country are facing budget cut and officers made redundant as a result.  That could be why the many police on duty were far more friendly than at previous demonstrations – no sign of the ‘heavy brigade’, dog handlers getting their police dogs to leap at passing marchers or attempts at  kettling’.

On the other hand, Whitehall (down which the marchers went) and Downing Street (past the entrance of which the marchers walked) were in lockdown.  One policeman grinned when asked, “Is he at home – or at the Races?”  Well, of course David Cameron wouldn’t be there – if he’s nothing else, he’s gutless.

I have never seen such barricades against demonstrators, even in the days of the invasion of Iraq.  Double barriers, chained, weighted and padlocked; even the most important thing in Whitehall, the Cenotaph, memorialising the dead of British wars from WWI onwards, all boarded up because the last time anti-austerity campaigners passed this way, someone left a rude message on the Women of World War II memorial.  Boarded up and guarded by police, the words carved in the stone above them stood out – “The Glorious Dead”.  Quite.

As they poured through Trafalgar Square into Whitehall, each group roared and cheered as it saw Big Ben ahead – the end of the march from the City (the source of financial woes) to Westminster (the source of all the other woes).  The noise echoed all the way down Whitehall as wave after wave of marchers passed.

Anti-racist organisations were there.  Pro-immigrant organisations were there. European supporters were there, including Greeks with Syriza placards.  The Green Party was out in force, as were all the Socialist and Communist groups.  Labour Assembly Against Austerity were there (not all the Labour Party is cowed by the Tories – witness Jeremy Corbyn, standing in the leadership election).  No Conservatives though.

The disabled were there, on their crutches and in wheelchairs.  Many have suffered from the austerity cuts, being asked to work when they were incapable, or indeed, already dying from their disabilities.  The homeless were there, proudly holding up their placards with their very individual statements scrawled on bits of old cardboard.  Anybody and everybody came, all with their own messages, their humour, their anger and their despair:

Historians Against Going Backwards

No Ifs, No Buts, No more Fucking Cuts

We Are Not A Loan!

Economists Against Austerity

Austerity Kills

Social Justice Not Criminal Justice

Peace, freedom, and a fewer fat bastards eating all the pie!

Cameron and Osborne – privately educated thieves

They cut, we bleed

Whoever voted Tory own up – or the whole class stays behind

If there’s money to kill people, there’s money to help people

So Angry I Made This Sign

Everyone had a story to tell, personal reasons for demonstrating.  For one man it was anger over the banks that had caused the financial crisis, and the taxpayers’ money that went to bail them out, at a cost of about £55,000 per tax payer.  He was angry that George Osborne was proposing to sell off the publicly-owned part of the Royal Bank of Scotland at a huge loss to the taxpayer.  Our money, he said, ours!   He had come with his own leaflets on this and other issues (like the NHS and TTIP) to hand out as he marched.

One London woman said that although she personally had not been affected by the austerity cuts, her local school could not employ good, or indeed, any teachers because there was nowhere in London they could afford to buy or rent a home.  Another woman knew a public health worker forced to commute into London every day from the south coast because, again, she could not afford any kind of home in London.  But then, she must have been spending a major part of her salary on rail fares.

And from one disabled woman, a story to tear the heart.  She had managed to travel up from Kent to join all the other disabled protestors.  She said she was willing to say why she was there, but when I asked if she had been affected by the cuts (and remember, George Osborne has another £12 billion cuts planned for welfare spending) she started to speak, then her face crumpled and she broke down.

What could I do?  I put my arms round her and told her not to go on; I had not meant to hurt her so; I wouldn’t ask her any more questions.  But she said “No, I want to tell you this!”  And this is what she told me:

She was living on a knife-edge. Just about surviving the cuts already made to her welfare payments, she was terrified what the next tranche of cuts would do.  She didn’t know if her family would be able to offer any more help for they too were stretched.  “But I have made my plans,” she said.

Here was a woman who was intelligent, articulate and caring of other people, who had the misfortune to be confined to a life in a wheelchair.  “But I have made my plans,” she said.

She described how, as the last 5 years of cuts began to affect disabled people, and her unable to leave her home very often, she spent a lot of time on-line, talking to her fellow sufferers, persuading them to not consider suicide, telling them there was always hope, always a tomorrow.  But “I cannot talk to them anymore, I can’t tell them not to kill themselves, I can’t tell them to hope.  I can’t do it anymore.  But I have made my plans…”

The government has refused to make public the figures showing how many people have died after their welfare payments were stopped or slashed.  And taxpayers expect their taxes to pay for welfare, for nurses, firemen, ‘bobbies’ on the beat, dustmen, teachers, carers…  Most do not pay taxes simply to provide incomes for politicians who think the poor are a drag on society.

David Cameron, George Osborne, and all you other rich men who ‘lead the world’ and think money is the only reason for living – may you rot in hell for what you are doing to people like her.

 

In midst of global warming’s frightening and growing droughts, increasing shortages of water resources in Latin America are being exacerbated by World Bank (WB) million-dollar loans to unstable governments desperate to rise out of poverty by attracting global industries to exploit their irreplaceable natural resources. And most use millions of gallons of water to do it whether it’s fossil-fuel fracking requiring 2,500,000 gallons per well or gold/silver corporations dumping cyanide and other death-dealing chemicals into waterways which millions depend on for drinking, household use, irrigation, or fishing.

The WB’s hand is involved in the latest trend for corporations exhorting—and extorting—African governments such as Zimbabwe to install pre-paid water meters. As one correspondent noted recently:

Despite U.N. recognition that water is a human right, international financial institutions such as the World Bank argue that water should be allocated through market mechanisms to allow for full cost recovery from users.

As for those WB-funded multi-million dollar hydroelectric dams that constrict water supplies, they are built to provide electricity for foreign industries, not for impoverished Latino households. The WB’s hand additionally touches those households when water rates climb to astronomical 60-200% hikes because its loan conditions to governments too often mandate privatization. WB loans also are tied to military massacres of thousands in water-related protests because having given foreign corporations free reign to plunder resources, governments are then forced to protect them against their own people.

The situation has become dire because climate change is projected to adversely affect the globe’s remaining 0.007 percent of potable water, according to the most recent study by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). What little remains for the developing-country poor has been significantly diminished by such multinational corporations, indirectly supported by the WB. Their policies and practices in the last decades of the Bank’s 71-year history have betrayed its stated primary purpose:

Investment loans provide financing for a wide range of activities aimed at creating the physical and social infrastructure necessary for poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

Critics have accused the WB for years about funding gigantic projects that increase poverty and misery. Poverty is to be eradicated evidently by eradicating the poor. There’s much truth in that because such WB loans between 2004-13  have meant that 3,350,449 have lost homes, land, occupations—and access to clean water.

The U.N. has accused the WB of being an accessory to multinational corporations getting rich off the poor by inducing greedy, frantic, or meglomaniacal leaders to help them, just like colonial powers of old:

Recent history offers many examples of [global] lenders that have tempted sovereigns to commission unnecessary or even harmful projects to access the hard-currency loans on offers to finance the project[s].

In short, much of the $350,000,000,000 drawn from taxpayer monies by WB donor nations is perceived to be frittered away on boondoggles, enriching global exploiters, and governmental corruption. Corruption in developing nations, by the way, was estimated to be $6,600,000,000,000 between 2003-12, increasing annually by 9.4%. Guatemala currently is its poster child because a U.N. committee revealed millions have been drained off foreign contracts and tax revenues by government officials. The vice president, and three cabinet members just resigned (mining, energy, interior) in a historic scandal also involving four judges, a bank president, the tax chief, and law firms. It has set off weeks of huge nationwide protests demanding the president’s resignation, shutdown of mines, and cancellation of at least one WB dam project (Xalalá).

Too, the WB too often has looked the other way when military savagery stemming from its projects cause uprisings over foreign industries poisoning waterways or clearing land for dam reservoirs benefitting those corporations. It then uses ordinary banks’ detachment from loan outcome. Yet commercial banks’ chief mission is not “poverty alleviation and sustainable development. “ WB officials may deserve to squirm at the U.N.’s July summit of global lenders—attended by Pope Francis I—when it spotlights this principal issue:

Lenders financing a project in the debtor country have a responsibility to perform their own ex ante investigation into and, when applicable, post-disbursement monitoring of the likely effects of the project, including its financial, operational, civil, social, cultural, and environmental implications.

WB Loans Negatively Impact Latin America’s Water Resources

Present estimates are that less than 130,000,000Latinos are without safe drinking water. In mountainous El Salvador alone, 92% of its rivers were reported to be “dangerously contaminated.” Surface runoff and groundwater have always contained erosion’s sediment, farming’s toxic fertilizer chemicals, animal/human feces, garbage, and industrial waste. But since the 1970s, gold/silver-mine corporations and dams have significantly decreased river flow and increased polluted water.

And WB loan conditions for water/sewer systems promote privatization, never mind the “public-private partnership” label attached to such deals; nothing is public about PPPs. Privatization means rates geared to whatever the traffic will bear—even if the poor must resort to purifying mud-puddle water. No solution has been suggested to rectify this travesty—not even inexpensive household solar stills, thanks to governmental racism, inefficiency, greed—and WB silence or actions.

WB-funded hydroelectric dams have been even more destructive than mining to rivers and tributaries. Ever since the 1980s, WB decision-makers decided that a string of dams would attract foreign industries to the area. Further, they would not be asked to finance or pay for water used in what was to become the 2006 “Plan Mesoamerica.” Companies would earn millions from factories using hydroelectric power and spend a pittance for local labor and taxes. Little regard was given to impacted residents whose lives and livelihoods would be destroyed. WB planners never expected anyone to object. Such elitist attitudes are no secret, as observer Susan Fitzpatrick-Behrens noted:

…the World Bank’s projects disregard the social and environmental costs of large-scale hydroelectric dams, including the devastation of natural environments, the mass displacement of people, and the creation of large-scale public debt. Moreover, they suggest that hydroelectric dams are less about “clean energy” and more about “cheap energy” to be consumed…by the dirtiest of industries, including mining and oil extraction concessions, as well as manufacturing. Meanwhile, most of the countries that are attempting to build new dams are confronting overwhelming opposition, especially among the indigenous [mostly Mayan] people who will be affected most directly.

In fairness, Bank officials couldn’t have known global warming would create such drought that dam turbines would lack sufficient water to churn out power  and, thus, become white-elephant boondoggles after foreign corporations departed.

The Bank’s ‘Enforcer’: ICSID’s ‘Court of No Resort’

The Bank’s other device to control borrowers since the 1950s, especially poor nations, has been a supra-national court for corporations with grievances against countries: the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Its three-judge panels render binding and non-appealable decisions, enforced by blackballing defiant countries hunting for other global lenders.

One pending decision pits a Canadian-Australian gold-mining corporation (OceanaGold) against El Salvador because new pro-environmental laws bar new mining permits. Oceana is demanding $301,000,000 for lost future profits, under the “investor-rights” clause (“Investor-State Dispute Settlement” or ISDS) of international trade treaties. Because governments can’t countersue or appeal an adverse judgment, their taxpayers will foot the bill for the ruling, half of the Court’s expenses, and millions in attorney fees for the time span between filing and verdict.

Small wonder then that an open-door policy for exploiters has led to governmental fears of showing them that door even when an infuriated populace is pounding on it. Some Latino presidents have crushed those protests with military firepower. Others, concerned about worldwide opprobrium for slaughter, at least have staged plebiscites concerning mine, dam expulsion, or water privatization—usually after a secret deal starts—and then declare overwhelming opposition ballots to be “non-binding.”

In 65 recent plebiscites in Central and South America, 1,250,000 have voted (90-99%) to ban foreign exploiters even though knowing nullification would follow. Response usually has been “direct-action” demonstrations and sabotage. Thousands denied adequate water have organized and risked assaults, gassing, torture, murder, or prison rather than become homeless, jobless, starving, and disease-ridden wanderers.

Bolivia may have set the example of resistance against governments embedded with foreign exploiters by its famed 2000 Cochabamba Water Revolt. In 1995, its debt—mostly to the WB and the International Monetary fund—hovered around$5,537,000,000. Two years later, expanding populations in three major cities vastly increased water and sewage-treatment needs.

When officials sought a WB loan, it demanded a condition only the desperate could accept: a 40-year privatization of the system. Because a Bechtel consortium was the only bidder, the government also was forced to agree to its guaranteed annual16% profit. Rate hikes soon rose by 35%-50%. The poor literally were left high and dry.

Rioting broke out in Cochabamaba, Bolivia’s third largest city (pop.800,000) when rates finally reached 200%. Despite martial law and the Army opening fire on thousands (1 killed, 1000s wounded), demonstrators protested for months with general strikes, street rallies, and an Internet campaign against Bechtel. Finally in April 2000, the government canceled the contract. Bechtel sued for $50,000,000 in the WB court (loss of investment/future profits). An international firestorm against it burned so fiercely that to save face, it dropped the case and awarded Bolivia 30 cents. Even so, the taxpayers had to cover steep court costs and $1,000,000 in legal fees.

By contrast, Argentina’s No. 1 budgetary priority guaranteed citizens of affordable water above all else at the expense of other items. But by 1990, like Bolivia, the public water/sewage utility for Greater Buenos Aires (pop. 5,559,270) could no longer cover costs. Again, the Bank was quick to take advantage, and, like payday loan sharks, offered a “rollover” deal to Argentina’s $3,200,000,000 WB debt. Again, the condition was privatization. So in 1992 the government sold the system to a European consortium (Suez, 25.3%; Vivendi 8%) for 30 years, but at least paid off that loan.

By 2003, rates were up by 63% and service and maintenance was down. Then came the discovery of “high levels of nitrates” in drinking water. Linked to cancer, nitrates come from fertilizers and animal waste. That may have been the last straw for  an already enraged public. To avert a “Cochabamaba,” officials also canceled the contract in early 2006 and “remunicipalized” the system.

But Argentina then also wound up in the WB court sued by Suez/Vivendi for $1,019,200,000, once again under a treaty’s loss-of-future-profits clause. The foreigners won only $405,000,000 perhaps by a merciful panel aware of Argentina’s crushing WB debt load and 20 pending lawsuits from creditors demanding a collective $95,000,000,000 caused by its 2001 defaults.

El Salvador’s case has become famous as the victim of a greedy corporate bully. Its government was diligently making WB loan payments($11,100,000 in 1959 for a highway; $12,000,000, 1974-77, urban services) when in 2000 it began courting foreign gold/silver-mining corporations to exploit its metal-rich terrain and collect both royalties and tax revenue. One of dozens accepting the invitation was Canada’s Pacific Rim to reopen the El Dorado mine. So eager were officials for its startup, that they apparently let the corporation stall the approval process, including a vague Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

An honest and thorough EIS might have revealed operations needed 900,000 liters of water per day from the nearby Lempa River. It supplied water to 55% of Salvadorans. Nor did they apparently say that waste dumped into the river would come from the daily use of 22 tons of cyanide to strip gold from rocks and soil. Or that sulfuric acid exuded from rocks also would release heavy metals (lead, magnesium, cadmium, mercury, arsenic) which soon was found in ailing residents’ bloodstreams. At least an EIS would have described basic information of how today’s procedures destroy water resources:

In the exploration stage, the mining companies make hundreds of deep holes in the ground (up to 1,312 feet down) to verify the presence and concentration of gold. This process often affects the aquifers and water sources of the nearby communities….[That] …company dried up more than 20 historical springs in the local communities.

Residents near another gold mine saw river water turning red and orange. The well-off could afford50¢ per gallon for “clean” water, $3 per barrel for bathing and laundry. But the poor were left to suffer kidney failure, rashes, neurological ailments—and cancer.

Meanwhile, Pacific Rim announced expansion plans for El Dorado and informed residents they either could sell or lease properties. Some 90% refused, followed by the murder of at least four anti-mine activists. Fearing trouble, government revoked its permit in 2008 on grounds of tardiness in providing “steps in the approvals process, including an acceptable environmental assessment.” Pacific Rim sued in the WB court for $77,000,000 on grounds of loss-of-future profits, but lost on technicalities.

Cheering stopped, however, when Pacific Rim sold out to OceanaGold, a Canadian-Australian corporation, which refiled for $301,000,000 for future lost profits. The verdict is pending, but trial costs in 2010 to Salvadoran taxpayers were some$13,000,000. Honduras has been on the WB dole for years as an HIPC (“heavily indebted poor country”). It owes $80,000,000, of which $30,000,000 is for a non-transparent “extractive industries transparency initiative,” a ruinously expensive item just to provide data to the government. Militarized, pro-mining governments have let Canadian and U.S. gold-mining companies control 30% of its land for production—and pollute surrounding waterways with poisonous wastewater. In fact, the 1999 General Mining Law stipulated they could have “unlimited access to any water source” even if that led to significant cuts to residents’ supplies. Worse was to come.

Perhaps Honduras’ greatest acid spill was at the open-pit, heap-leach San Andrés gold mine by the Lara River, the area’s principal water resource. Each of three successive foreign owners after 1994 stalled paying residents for appropriated properties and none for poisoning the Lara. Then, in 2003 the first of two major cyanide spills poured into the river and a tributary, destroying them, bankside ecosystems, and the fishing industry (18,000 fish died).

Resentments over those property non-payments and the spill boiled into protests against Canada’s Greenstone Resources, the mine owner. Activists were vigorously supported by key Catholic clergy, especially papal contender Cardinal Oscar R. Maradiaga. In July 2004, a liberal government suspended new mining permits until 2009, the same year of another massive spill. Unfortunately, a coup ushered in a pro-mining regime so by 2013, a new law reversed most restrictions, and added one that “prioritizes industrial use of water over community needs.” A Central American court fined Greenstone only $54,000, but operations continue with five cyanide-treatment ponds still perched near the Lara.

The second example involved the American-Canadian Glamis Gold Company (aka “Goldcorp Inc.”). Even before the 2009 shutdown of its open-pit San Martin mine after five years of operations, it boasted about its “100%” reclamation effort though gold mining makes that an impossibilityFarewell gifts were deadly health problems from cyanide-laced water, altering river courses, and polluting ecosystems.

For the last two years a sizable, multi-leader opposition has hobbled construction of the Agua Zarca dam, one of 47 to be financed by foreign(chiefly Canadian, American, Chinese) and the WB. Protesters declared a four-dam complex on the Gualcarque River to be unneeded, especially because solar power has been introduced. The Gualcarque was the region’s main source of furnishing water to homes and irrigating orchards, coffee plantations and vegetable farms. Honduran community groups also knew the negligible value of mine-owner IOUs for property—and how to picket despite the recent murders of four activists.

In Peru, resistance also is rising. It’s against a WB-funded expansion of the massive Yanacocha gold mine near Cajamarca. Owned jointly by the Bank and the U.S.’s Newmont Mining Corporation, plans call for draining four lakes and adjoining lands to mine more gold. Again, local water needs have been disregarded.

And up near the Amazon River’s headwaters, Peruvian unrest grows daily over the WB’s “Plan Mesoamerica.” It involves 20 hydroelectric dams on the Marañón River to supply power to foreign industries. Among the first to be WB-financed has been the $819,000,000 Chadin 2 dam. Its reservoir will flood nearly 12 square miles, displace nearly 1,000 in 21 communities, and destroy its fruit industry. It could cause an Amazon “ecosystem collapse,” extensive flooding, and cut water for householders, farms, and fishing. Tampering with the Amazon also risks “critical changes in continental water flows” through Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia. To block hundreds of opponents from hearings, police tear-gassed one meeting and packed the hall for another.

Then, there’s Brazil. Another vox-populi lesson for government officials with tin ears and WB tin cups have been hundreds of enraged indigenous pickets. They know protesting in tribal dress is a guaranteed stunner for global Internet audiences and an embarrassment for the government. Also useful are their constant reminders about Brazil’s constitutional protections of the environment and the U.N.’s human-rights declaration. Their focus last December was construction of a dozen dams on the TapajósRiver largely benefitting mining and logging companies while destroying water resources in their widespread territories.

That tactic has been successful. When the WB was about to lend Brazil $500,000,000 in the mid-1980s to build what would be the world’s third largest dam (Belo Monte) near Altamira, the indigenous came out in force. It would have driven 20,000 from their lands, choked off a major Amazon River tributary (the Xingu), killed the fishing industry, and wrecked a world-famous ecosystem. Their

massive demonstrations had to have been a major factor in 1989 for the loan’s cancellation.

Again, celebrations were aborted when a largely foreign consortium of investors (JP MorganChase, BlackRock, et alia) picked up where the WB left off even if the eventual pricetag might be near $14,000,000,000. To circumvent Internet exposure, consortium leaders decided on a business expense of $1,500,000,000 for “indigenous outreach”—until the dam’s 2019 completion. It ended protests and transformed the community into a Gomorrah by providing monthly stipends of $10,000, houses, pickups, freezers, laptops, TV sets, a supermarket that grew Altamira’s population to 100,000.  Whether most will leave such largess at dam completion possibly may be a matter for the Brazilian Army and national police.

Leaders of water-starved Guatemala are no different than their protesting Latin American counterparts. Indirectly aided by WB’s financing for projects, a horrifying record has emerged about water stewardship as it affects poor communities— particularly Mayan. Recovery from the 1960-96 civil war obviously was cited by leaders in 1996 in wheedling a $66,000,000 WB loan for a highway through earthquake/flood-prone mountains to gold and silver lodes. New laws in the 1960s to attract foreign gold-mining firms cut environmental regulations, business taxes, and royalties (1%).

In 1967, Canada’s Inco had a 40-year lease for itsFenix mine along the 30-mile Lake Izabal and its tributaries to the Caribbean.  The government pledged Army security which meant clearing land by massacring nearly 3,000 Mayans under the pretext that even women and children probably were “guerillas.”

By 2013, 107 mines were operating in Guatemala, with 359 permits requested. Canada’s Glamis Gold’s open-pit and underground mine  (Marlin) was50 feet above the Tzala River upon whichthousands relied. It used over 1,500,000 gallons per day, paying nothing. Eventually, 40 community wellsdried up.

Water quickly became so tainted with cyanide, arsenic, nitrates, mercury, cobalt, aluminum, copper, and manganese that by 2009, health experts predicted residents would suffer for decades. And instead of fulfilling promises of everything from high-wage jobs to school funding, Glamis provided rowdy crews, alcoholism, crime, prostitution—and it hired foreigners besides.

Shutdown demands began in 2003, first to Glamis, then the government, then the WB which indirectly had made a $45,000,000 loan to the company, but “refuted all allegations.” That set off a 40-day protest, an Army/police intervention (2 killed, 16 wounded), and activists’ complaints to the U.N. about violations of its human-rights declaration.

The result forced the government to hold a plebiscite on mine closure and nullify the 90% vote. It showed little concern about the mine’s seven inside spills and a major one from a waste pool into the Tzala. In December 2010, protest leaders traveled to WB headquarters in Washington, D.C. to confront its ombudsman and then-president Paul Wolfowitz about Glamis. Both listened, but did nothing. Interestingly, however, Glamis sold the mine five months later to Canada’s Goldcorp and paid off the WB loan. Mine operations continue, but so do protests, sabotage, savage retaliations, the flow of highly toxic water, and its fatal ailments.

Goldcorp expanded, partnering with an American company for a Guatemala silver mine (El Escobal), sending its poisonous offal into the Los Esclavos River on its two-mile downhill route into the huge, volcanic Ayarza Lagoon and aquifer. Protesters have surrounded the mine since its 2004 opening, first by thousands of farmers greeted by police (1 killed, 12 wounded).  Other protests followed after the Canadian-American Tahoe Resources bought it in 2010.

Twelve area plebiscites voted for shutdown (90%) because of water and air pollution. Governmental nullification only increased violence, especially in 2013 when Tahoe’s Israeli security force opened fire on demonstrators (1 killed, 6 wounded). The President did declare a State of Siege protecting the mine with 8,500 soldiers and police and did imprison protestors. But he also put a moratorium on awarding new mining permits. Efforts to close Escobal continue despite the shooting death last April of an activist leader.

Plebiscites Favoring Shutdowns Nullified by Governments

By 2007, under the Plan Mesoamerica, the WB had lent Guatemala $13,000,000 for a set of 15 small dams, four by the Q’am’balam River. Thousands voted against the projects in a plebiscite covering closure of all extractive companies and WB dams. Nullification triggered customary consequences: a decade of protests blocked dam entrances, destroyed equipment, and “detained” workers, followed by dead or jailed activists, and mass evictions.

Another WB loan ($944,000,000) went for a concrete showpiece straddling the Chixoy River, incredibly, on its earthquake fault line. Residents with access to the plans could see the reservoir alone would require eviction of nearly 6,000. The government quelled most opposition by promising those turning in property titles would be compensated after dam completion in 1983. Not at the start when residents could have resettled elsewhere and enriched their economies. Obviously, officials were not about to lose a peso to those regarded as collateral damage. Instead, they sold the dam for far more than the loan, repaid it, and apparently pocketed the rest.

Downstream flow first was curtailed by construction, then polluted when released downstream. Unanswered complaints about water shortages and quality led to protests, intensifying after news that titles couldn’t be found. The swindled were silenced in 1982-83 by state-supported militias staging the first of those massacres. Survivors were herded into an Army-controlled concentration camp, starved, assaulted, and left to die. A WB “inspection paneldid pay a brief visit, but reported nothing amiss.

It took 32 years of constant agitation by Guatemalans and international advocates to secure the recent presidential promise for $154,500,000 in reparations. Depending on the whims of subsequent presidents, legislators, and cash on hand, the money is to be dispensed annually to survivors and heirs over the next 15 years.

These are but a few examples demonstrating how far the WB has strayed from its original philanthropic, altruistic mission to lift developing countries out of poverty. Policies have ossified into making it—and its 188 donor nations—a payday loan institution for governments building immense projects benefitting only multinational corporate extractors. It has abetted governmental corruption and been a long-time accessory to their atrocities and massacres committed over water resources. But their greatest crime is to permit usurpation and poisoning of that fast-disappearing resource—water—humans must have within five days or die.

The WB assuredly has the financial resources and ties to expertise to execute a turnabout and return to its avowed purpose of helping the impoverished. The imperative No. 1 priority in view of climate change, should be to preserve water resources for the impoverished. To use donations from its 188 members to make loans only for projects conserving supplies.

The Bank’s decision-makers must recognize it is no longer the only global lender pledging not only to help developing third-world countries rise from poverty, but to address water “security.”

The newest and fastest growing global lender is China’s Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), busily gathering billions in lending funds with anchors such as Britain, France, and Germany among its present 57 donors. Its mission statement capitalizes on WB obvious shortcomings and vows to aid “water supply and sanitation.” Considering China’s super-enterprising reach, AIIB won’t confine itself to Asian clients for long.

Indeed, so unnerved that AIIB might entice many of its contributors to depart, the WB’s current president has suggested the two institutions “co-finance individual infrastructure projects and/or work on regional integration.”

Other worries should be U.S. Congress grumbling about continuing to be the WB’s major donor ($13,500,000,000 in 2014) for projects yielding poor results. It recently blocked donating to WB efforts that “allow governments to opt out of safeguarding affected indigenous peoples’…environmental and social protections from harm caused by Bank-funded projects.”  Several object to monies going to “financial rogues” such as Argentina, indicating hearings may be ahead on what governmental officials pilfer from those WB loans. That prospect alone should make Bank officials consider funding Grameen-like credit unions where members decide which vital projects get its earnings; Grameen last year reported a 92% payback of its loans.

Moreover, what’s to stop Latin American countries from leading other victim nations to lobby the U.N. to shut down the WB’s cash cow Court? Trade litigation could be moved to the International Court at The Hague or the European Union’s court so that nations such as Argentina and Bolivia could sue rapacious extractors.

Another WB worry should be that at least 30 countries—mostly Latin American/African—have passed “right-to-water” legislation to hobble global polluters. Also, 180 cities in 35 countries, once forced to privatize water services, have returned them to public systems.

As water shortages grow more acute, other nations can be expected to follow because many presidents know one of the principal causes of the French Revolution were thousands rioting and overwhelming the military because of sudden shortages of bread triggering 88% price increases. If the masses guillotined a king, the nobility, and churchmen over lack of bread, government leaders—and WB officials—should tremble at what populaces will do without water.

In Latin America, protesters will be led perhaps bygroups such as “La Mesa,” formed in 2005 and powerful enough in Guatemala to win tough, enforceable environmental and human-rights regulations in 2011—especially access to clean water.

For the WB to survive, it must undergo a drastic housecleaning, something scarcely easy, given its ossified culture. Even a recent internal “restructuring” triggered howls from many of its 15,000 staffers when $400,000,000 was trimmed from internal-operations. Outrage centered on cuts to perks—parking, free breakfasts, flying first class—but also ending executive job duplications and hiring expensive “ big-names.” But if changes suggested below result in mass resignations of those viewed as “bloated, incompetent, and even corrupt,” new blood would be circulating for today’s needs.

Among revolutionary changes to water rights in loan policies are:

  • No loans to governments failing to do a thorough environmental-impact study as it pertains to preserving clean water resources prior to issuing permits to extractive companies.
  • No loans to governments failing to ensure extractive companies carry sufficient insurance to cover spills affecting water resources.
  • No loans to governments whose projects interfere with people’s access to clean water systems.
  • No loans to governments failing to require regular inspection, repair, and maintenance of water infrastructure.
  • No loans to governments failing to monitor water quality weekly and publicizing the results to users.
  • No loans to governments privatizing water systems or establishing public-private partnerships.
  • No loans to governments charging prohibitive water rates to impoverished households.
  • No loans to governments failing to use its military or police to actively enforce protection of clean-water resources.
  • No loans to governments failing to charge extractive industries for both water usage and wastewater discharges.
  • No loans to governments failing to force extractive industries to complete reclamation work within a year after ceasing operations.
  • No loans to governments nullifying results of water plebiscites.
  • No loans to governments permitting attacks on peaceful demonstrations or plebiscites concerning water.

Admittedly, such a lengthy qualification list for loan applicants is a departure from the WB’s present practice of almost no qualifications as it concerns outcome. That has permitted both the WB and governments to spend donor money for boondoggles, corruption and destruction of lives and irreplaceable water resources. Unless far-reaching changes are made immediately regarding that resource, someone—perhaps Pope Francis I (he’s from Argentina)—will prod the WB’s 188 donors to shut off the WB’s “water.”

Barbara G. Ellis, Ph.D., is the principal of a Portland (OR) writing/pr firm and a professional writer. A long-time journalist, she was a journalism professor at (Oregon State University/Louisiana’s McNeese State University). She’s a contributor toDissidentVoice, TruthOut, andOpEdNews, written dozens of articles for magazines, several books, and was a nominee for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history (The Moving Appeal). A 350.org member and life-long political activist, she has been involved in geography and hydrology at Portland State University.

As with everything to do with  “The New Iraq”, the death, on 5th June, of the country’s former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz, 79, was announced with a lie.

The Deputy Governor of Nasiriya, Adel Aldikhaly stated that he had died of a heart attack after “a long term incurable disease.”

Mr Aziz had been transferred from Baghdad’s Khadamiyah prison to Nasiriya’s jail three hundred kilometres south – notorious for appalling conditions at best and torture at worst – a year ago. The reason for his move is so far unknown. It might be surmised just another vicious act to isolate him – even in captivity – from Baghdad, his life’s residence, birthplace of his children, city of his home. What is known, however, is that he died from “long term” neglect, lack of medication and ill treatment.

He had long suffered from diabetes and blood pressure problems, well controlled on medication. In prison that control was sporadic or non-existent. His wife, Violet, visited him regularly travelling from her home in Jordan, helpless to alleviate his deteriorating condition. In April, now with speech and memory problems, he never the less took his wedding ring from his finger for the first time in fifty years and gave it to her for safe keeping. If anything happened to him, he told her, he was worried it would be stolen. She returned to her family devastated.

In spite of his frail, confused and ailing condition, he had been brought in to the visiting room in shackles.

In April 2003, after the illegal invasion, Tariq Aziz had agreed to give himself up to the (surely equally illegal) US “authorities” conditional on his wife and family being allowed to safely leave the country.

In context of illegality, lest it ever be forgotten, even the spineless former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, finally stated of the invasion, unequivocally, on the BBC after a disgraceful eighteen months silence on “coalition” marauding, mass murder, grand theft and mayhem: “I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN Charter. From our point of view and from the Charter point of view it was illegal.”(1)

By December 2006 Annan stated that under Saddam Hussein’s government the country had been stable and safe – unlike the invasion’s reign of terror: “They could go out, their kids could go to school and come back home without a mother or father worrying ‘Am I going to see my child again? ‘ ”

At the time a UN Report stated: “3,000 civilians are dying every month (with an) accelerating exodus of Iraqis, with some 100,000 leaving each month for the safety of Syria, Jordan, and the Gulf states.” (2)

As the invasion loomed, Tariq Aziz stated that it was not “regime change” that George W. Bush wished to bring about, but “region change.” If anyone could cut through the untruths it was he.

It was, however, the legitimate government of Iraq – whose “sovereignty and territorial integrity” was guaranteed by the UN – which was put on trial, in a US backed and created kangaroo court. When Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death he said of the Judge and Court: “You are servants of the colonisers.” Hard to dispute. (The “colonisers” are now back in force as “military advisers”, with more to follow – NB:“Operation Creep” alert.)

Saddam was executed on 30th December 2006. Tariq Aziz was sentenced to death in 2010. Charges included Saddam Hussein’s government’s retribution for an assassination attempt on Tariq Aziz’s life by members of the Dawa Party in 1980 and a subsequent assassination attempt on Saddam’s life in 1982. Dawa made another attempt on Saddam’s life in 1987 and were believed also responsible for an attempt on his son, Uday, in 1996 gravely injuring him.

After an alleged attempt on the life of President George Bush in Kuwait in 1993 the penalties were swifter, quite as brutal – and raised not a Washington eyebrow. When America was subject of a terrorist attack it declared the right to exact retribution on entire nations anywhere on earth, any time and: “You are either with us, or with the terrorists.” Hypocrisy and double standards rule, as ever.

Further, the US and UK are seemingly “with the terrorists.” The Dawa Party also bombed the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut in December 1981 and was thought to have been behind the bombing of the US and French Embassies, the airport and the main oil refinery in Kuwait in 1983. Both Iraq’s current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki have key positions in Dawa. Al-Maliki leads it, whilst al-Abadi become head of it whilst in London in the 1970s. They both only returned to Iraq with the 2003 invasion. Terrorist connections, incidentally, were no bar to al-Abadi receiving a grant from the UK Department of Trade and Industry in 1998. (3)

The all demonstrates that this is hardly a regime to adhere to human rights standards, yet alone for prisoners, especially political ones who could still be regarded, in law, as the legitimate government. Tariq Aziz never stood a chance. Appeals to leading Western politicians, Bishops, human rights organizations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Pope – current and previous – over twelve years, were met with no words or weasel ones. Integrity, courage and compassion are qualities in very short supply in high places, hypocrisy and inhumanity, however, in abundance.

On April 24th, the twelfth anniversary of Tariq Aziz’s detention, his eldest son Ziad wrote a despairing, prophetic letter: “Time is not on our side, I can’t stress enough the urgency of the situation and the need to for an immediate intervention. It has been 12 years today since the Americans took him and since I last saw my father, I don’t know if there is another year to wait. “(4)

More letters were written, approaches made, more silence or gutlessness the response, including from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. But then, he is a former oilman and his son works for Tony Blair. Surely a meeting of God and Mammon as ever there was.

Aziz was, of course, a Chaldean Christian who was welcomed in the Vatican as an honoured guest in 2003, when he appealed for intervention to halt Iraq’s destruction, guardian of so may of the Bible’s integral epiphanies. He was extended welcome and respect by Kofi Annan when UN Secretary General – google the photographs – the list of current and former world names who welcomed him, in spite of the crippling US-UK driven UN embargo, is long. All have been silent in the face of another historic shame and injustice. “History will slaughter those responsible”, as former UN Secretary General Denis Halliday said of the embargo.

Even from prison he courageously fought for Iraq charging the invaders:

“We are all victims of Britain and America. They killed out country.”(5)

What penalty was exacted for that comment, which went around the world?

His statement was endorsed by then US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta. As the US troops slunk out under cover of darkness on 15th December 2011 – following the example of the British who fled in the night in 2009. At a ceremony marking US retreat at Baghdad Airport Panetta boasted that: “We spilled a lot of blood here … to achieve … making the country sovereign and independent and able to secure itself.” Admissions of both criminality and delusion?

The “sovereignty” and “independence” to which Iraq had been reduced, had driven Aziz, a year earlier, to instruct his lawyer that in the event of his death he would be buried in Jordan for fear his grave would be desecrated or his body exhumed by the US proxy government. He requested his body be returned to the country he loved to be buried: “after Iraq is liberated.” (6)

The day before Tariq Aziz’s death, his wife managed to visit him again. His son Ziad wrote of her “horror” at his condition. He was wheelchair -bound, unable to walk, with a pulmonary infection, his entire system clearly collapsing:

“I cannot describe to you how horrified she was at his sight and how miserable he looked. I’m afraid that the worst would happen soon. We need urgent help to deliver this message … we need to secure his release immediately. At this point keeping him in prison is just torture, plain and simple. There is no reasonable justification to keep him in prison, except to watch him die slowly, which I suspect is what they want.”

Ziad was right. Before further useless appeals were made, he was dead, the family learning of their loss from news bulletins, not a courtesy call from the Iraqi authorities. His ordeal, however, and that of his family, was far from over. Torment follows even the dead in the nightmare of the “New Iraq.”

The Jordanian government responded speedily in granting the families’ request that he be buried there. Ziad Aziz expressed his gratitude, saying: “Jordan is a safe haven for the body of my father.” Having completed some bureaucratic paperwork, his remains should have been on a ‘plane in hours or no later than the following day. Instead it was subject to further assault.

With no permission requested from his family an autopsy was performed. The body was subsequently returned to Baghdad from where relatives were informed that the formalities for transfer to Jordan would take ten days. According to reliable information various government Ministers, each with their own “fiefdom”, were placing their own conditions on Tariq Aziz’s freedom, even after death.

The body was finally taken to Baghdad airport for the flight to Jordan, accompanied by his wife, on 11th June. It is believed that the process was speeded with the help of the Jordanian government.

However:

 … armed men reportedly broke into the airport cargo section in SUVs to seize the mortal remains of the man who was once Iraq’s top diplomat, minutes before the corpse was due to be loaded onto a Royal Jordanian plane for burial in Amman.

An Iraqi MP who asked not to be named said the SUVs had registration plates issued by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. The MP claimed the militants wore black uniforms similar to those of the Counter-Terrorism Agency set up by former Prime Minister Maliki years ago, whose members are thought to still be loyal to him.

Al-Araby has obtained information that indicated the four SUVs passed through no fewer than four checkpoints on the airport road without being intercepted.(7)

For some hours the whereabouts of the body was unknown, inflicting further trauma on the family. The Iraqi government eventually made an unconvincing comment about a paperwork problem, also airing a fabrication that he had requested to be buried near his birthplace outside Mosul. There were real fears that, as with countless “liberated” others, he would be disappeared for all time.

Seemingly again with help from the Jordanian government, his casket was finally flown on Royal Jordanian Airways first flight out of Baghdad to Amman early on Saturday 13th June, with his wife, greeted by family and crowds of Iraqis and Jordanians determined, as one said: “To give him special send off.”

“I last saw my father twelve years ago, now I welcome him in a box”, said Ziad Aziz, grief consuming his face. His birthday had been three days after his father’s death.

Moving services were held the same day at St Mary of Nazareth Church in Jordan’s capitol, Amman and then at the Church of the Virgin in the ancient, historic, biblical city of Madaba (8) where he was laid to rest. The services, the streets, were packed with those determined to show their respect.

However for anyone who might harbor questions regarding Tariq Aziz,

Ibrahim al-Marashi Assistant Professor at the Department of History, California State University, San Marcos and author of “Iraq’s Armed Forces: An Analytical History” writes:

Having avoided execution, the question most likely to be asked after his death is the scope of his guilt in crimes perpetuated under the Baathists. Having read thousands of captured Iraqi state documents for my doctoral thesis, his signature never appeared on any execution orders or military orders against the Kurds, the Kuwaitis, Iranians, or fellow Iraqis …(9)

Of course, as the rest of the former government, courage was unfaultable. Whatever their failings, they vowed not to abandon their country, never did, paying the ultimate price.

I have written many times before of his comment in an interview with me: “When I was ten years old, I was handing out leaflets, putting them through doors in Baghdad to stop the British stealing our oil, I am not about to give up on Iraq now.” A man of his word, he died for the country he loved.

He said in the same interview regarding the embargo: “If the United States want to impose military sanctions on Iraq, let them do it, but don’t deprive our children of milk, health, medicine.”

The small, towering, resolute figure also died deprived of “milk, health, medicine”, sharing Iraq’s plight as he vowed.

May his soul fly in the golden dawns and dusks in the country he loved and died for, with the birds who soar in their great flocks as the sun rises and falls against the shimmering, translucent, glowing brilliance of the far horizon, a human metaphor for Iraq’s ongoing nightmare.

 

Notes:

1) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/sep/16/iraq.iraq

2) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/dec/04/iraq.unitednations

3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haider_al-Abadi

4) http://www.globalresearch.ca/anglo-american-revenge-in-iraq-tariq-aziz-twelfth-anniversary-of-a-us-travesty-of-justice/5445393

5) http://www.globalresearch.ca/iraq-tariq-aziz-they-killed-our-country-we-are-all-victims-of-britain-and-america/28619

6) http://en.ammonnews.net/article.aspx?articleNO=10456#.VYQxsEtgw1h

7) http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2015/6/12/tariq-azizs-body-returned-after-being-snatched-by-militants

8) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madaba

9) http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/06/divisive-legacy-tariq-aziz-iraq-saddam-150606062928971.html

 

The Charleston Massacre and the Legacy of Denmark Vesey

June 24th, 2015 by Abayomi Azikiwe

A racist attack on the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston was a planned and premediated assault on the legacy of struggle waged by the African American people for two centuries in South Carolina.

Corporate media reports on the shooting seeks to minimize its significance featuring politicians and moderate elements within the community who express shock that such an incident would occur in a church in the state of South Carolina. The governor has said that South Carolina was a “loving community” and that the attack resulting in the assassination of a State Senator Clementa Pinckney and eight other African American church members who were workers playing a leading role in community affairs, was so somehow at variance with the social culture of the area.

Nonetheless, South Carolina has a long history of slavery, Jim Crow, racial capitalism and terrorist violence against African Americans. The former British colony and slave state reaped massive profits through the exploitation of Africans during colonial the antebellum period.

However, Africans have resisted their enslavement since the 18th century from West Africa all the way to the Carolinas in the southeast region of what become known as the United States.

According to an article published in the South Carolina Gazette on July 7, 1759:

A Sloop commanded by a brother of…Captain Ingledieu, slaving up the River Gambia, was attacked by a number of the natives, about the 27th of February last, and made a good defense; but the Captain finding himself desperately wounded, and likely to be overcome, rather than fall into the hands of merciless wretches, when about 80 Negroes had boarded vessel, discharged a pistol into his magazine and blew her up; himself and every soul on board perished.

There was much at stake for the slavocracy in South Carolina. In a posting by the South Carolina Information Highway it notes of the history of the state that “The slave traders discovered that Carolina planters had very specific ideas concerning the ethnicity of the slaves they sought. No less a merchant than Henry Laurens wrote: The Slaves from the River Gambia are preferred to all others with us [here in Carolina] save the Gold Coast…. next to Them the Windward Coast are preferred to Angola.” (http://www.sciway.net/hist/chicora/slavery18-2.html)

The site goes on saying “In other words, slaves from the region of Senegambia and present-day Ghana were preferred. At the other end of the scale were the “Calabar” or Ibo or “Bite” slaves from the Niger Delta, who Carolina planters would purchase only if no others were available. In the middle were those from the Windward Coast and Angola.”

This same source continues stressing that “Carolina planters developed a vision of the ‘ideal’ slave – tall, healthy, male, between the ages of 14 and 18, ‘free of blemishes,’ and as dark as possible. For these ideal slaves Carolina planters in the eighteenth century paid, on average, between 100 and 200 sterling – in today’s money that is between $11,630 and $23,200! Many of these slaves were almost immediately put to work in South Carolina’s rice fields. Writers of the period remarked that there was no harder, or more unhealthy work possible: [N]egroes, ankle and even mid-leg deep in water which floats in mud, and exposed all the while to a burning sun which makes the very air they breathe hotter than the human blood; these poor wretches are then in a furnace of stinking putrid effluvia: a more horrible employment can hardly be imagined.”

It is quite obvious from the web and social media posting of suspect Dylann Storm Roof that he was well aware of the long tradition of African people fighting their oppressors targeting the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) which was founded in the movement against slavery and for self-determination as early as 1818. Efforts by the federal and state officials have sought to ignore any possible links by Roof to white supremacist organizations which are in existence in South Carolina and neighboring North Carolina where he was captured.

Attacks on Emanuel AME Calculated and Ideologically Driven

The perpetrator was an ideological racist who championed the system of settler-colonialism in Southern Africa and the United States. In a posting over the web, Roof wore a jacket with the insignia of the former apartheid regime in South Africa and the overthrown settler-colony of Rhodesia, founded in the attempted genocide, forced displacement and virtual enslavement of the people of Zimbabwe during the 19th century, which won its independence in 1980.

The fact that this church with such a valiant history of resistance to slavery was targeted illustrated that this was an attempt to intimate the African American nation as a whole and its institutions. Despite the legacy of slavery and segregation, the people of South Carolina have engaged in political activity since antebellum and Reconstruction period.

History of Emanuel AME Church Rooted in Rebellion During Slavery

Emanuel grew out of the resistance to slavery during the early 19th century. A co-founder of the church was Telemaque, better known as Denmark Vesey.

His plans for a major slave revolt in Charleston in 1822 sent shockwaves throughout the antebellum South and other slaveholding areas of the U.S. Vesey and his comrades were hung after a secret trial while the church was destroyed by the slave masters. The church operated underground for decades only to resurface after the Civil War.

Vesey was first enslaved in the Danish colony of St. Thomas in the Caribbean in the late 18th century. He was reportedly taken to Haiti during the same period where a revolution against French colonialism and slavery was carried out during 1791-1803, becoming the first successful slave revolution against chattel bondage in history establishing an African republic in 1804.

He and his master re-located in South Carolina during the latter years of the 18th century. South Carolina was a profitable state for the slave system where due to the intensity of agricultural production, Africans far outnumbered whites in the 19th century.

It is reported that the Africans organized by Vesey had planned to burn down plantations and kill slave owners liberating the enslaved and taking people to Haiti to join the independent Black government there in 1822. The plot was revealed to the ruling slavocracy, resulting in the arrest of Vesey and dozens of others who were tried in secret hearings leading to the initial execution of 35 people and many others later.

The Emmanuel Church grew out of the movement for independent self-rule among Africans as represented by the Free Africa Society that created the conditions for the formal founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in Philadelphia during the period of 1787 and 1816. The founders of the Church included Richard Allen and Sara Allen along with Absalom Jones. Emanuel is reported to have been the third AME Church founded in the U.S. being the earliest of such institutions in the South during slavery and its aftermath.

This act of terrorism on June 17, just one day after the 193rd anniversary of the Denmark Vesey plot being revealed to the ruling class, represents a profound provocation to African Americans and progressive forces in general. The confederate flag which still flies on the grounds of the state capitol in Columbia must be taken down as demonstrators called for on Saturday June 20.

A ruthless campaign against racism and racist organizations must be waged by the African American people and their allies across the country. Until racism and national oppression is overthrown there can be no real transformation of U.S. society from capitalism to socialism.

 

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who holds a Ph.D. from the universities of Paris VIII and Liège. He is the Spokesman for CADTM International (www.cadtm.org) where he has been active for many years in the struggles for the abolition of the debts of the Southern countries and the illegitimate debts of the Northern countries. He was member of Ecuador’s debt audit committee (CAIC) created in 2007 by the President Rafael Correa and during the same year advised the Ecuadorian President and Minister of Finance on the creation of the Bank of the South. He also advised the UN secretariat on the same question in 2008. In the same year Fernando Lugo, President of Paraguay, called on his experience to launch an audit of his country’s public debt.

He supports and is involved in the different initiatives for popular debt audits in Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Belgium. In 2011 he was consulted by the Brazilian Parliamentary Congress Inquiry on the debt (CPI) and in 2013 by the Brazilian Senatorial economic commission. In 2012 and 2013 he participated, with Alexis Tsipras, the President of Syriza, in discussions on Greek debt. In November 2014, he was a guest of the presidential majority in the Argentine congress, eager to start the audit process provided for in the “Sovereign payments” law adopted in September 2014. Since April 2015, Eric Toussaint is the Scientific coordinator of the Truth Committee on the Greek Public Debt set up by the President of the Hellenic Parliament. Eric Toussaint is the author of several reference works on debt problems and the International Financial Institutions and has edited two popular audit manuals. His latest work in English, Bankocracy, will appear in July 2015.

According to Eric Toussaint, debt restructuring has always been the result of economic and geopolitical calculation, rarely producing a favourable long-term outcome for the debtors; unless the creditors saw a strategic advantage for themselves in it. Sovereign debt“restructuring”, as it is now called by the IMF, the Paris Club and the big banking corporations, and more recently by the left in Greece, Portugal and Spain, is not a satisfactory expression, in fact using the actual term “restructuring” is dangerous, because the creditors have loaded it with what they want it to mean. The spokesman for CADTM International recommends that progressive governments place great importance on carrying out comprehensive debt audits (with popular participation), linked where necessary to suspension of payments. This audit must lead to the abolition of the part of the debt that is illegal, illegitimate, odious and/or ubsustainable and to imposing a reduction on the amount of the remainder. This remainder may be restructured, but in no way can a restructuring be considered, by itself, sufficient.

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So what is debt “restructuring”?

According to definitions seen in official documents published by the IMF |1| and the Paris Club, a restructuring of sovereign debt supposes, in the vast majority of cases, exchanging one set of debts for a new set of debts or of liquidities in very small quantities. In general a restructuring of debt is the outcome of negotiations between debtor countries and different types of creditors.

The restructuring of a sovereign debt may take one of two principal forms: |2|

  1. a new payments schedule: by reducing interest rates in order to reduce the level of repayments and/or prolong the repayment period;
  2. restructuring may include a reduction of the amount of the debt (by renouncing sums due). Most often it is old debt obligations or old contracts that are replaced by new ones. A reduction of debt may be implemented by a repurchase of obligations with available liquidities.

A repurchase of debt is rare. About 600 restructurings took place between 1950 and 2010 but only 26 involved repurchases with liquidities. This is a very small minority of restructurings which for the most part were tied to HIPC agreements in which a part of a country’s creditors were reimbursed by the other creditors. |3|

Sovereign debts are restructured in times of crisis, often following a repayment default, or in a situation of real danger of default (total or partial suspension of payments). When the IMF, the Paris Club or the Troika step in to organise a debt restructuring their prime consideration is to recreate a solvable debt situation in a country by easing the burden of repayments. Very often, in return for the restructuring they impose conditions that run against the interest of the indebted country and its people. |4| Also, the creditor’s geopolitical strategies play a decisive role in choosing which countries may qualify for restructuring of their debt and the conditions that are imposed in return.

Has there ever been debt restructuring by creditors that has been beneficial, in the long term, for debtors?

Yes, there is the particular case of Germany. |5| At a conference held in London in 1953, West Germany’s creditors, US, UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, |6| agreed to an important reduction of Germany’s outstanding debt. Amounts borrowed between the wars and immediately afterwards were reduced by 62.5%. A moratorium of five years was also granted and claims for war debt and damages, caused by the Nazi invasion and occupation, were postponed sine die. It is estimated that the total debt reclaimed by the Allied powers from Germany was reduced by 90%. |7| What is more, the repayment terms for the remainder were restructured to allow Germany to rapidly reconstruct itself and its economy.

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Hermann Josef Abs ratify the London Agreement of  February 27, 1953

What were these favourable terms?

  1. Germany was able to repay most of its debt in its own currency, even though the Deutschmark had very little value. As a defeated and destroyed country, Germany’s money was considered to be without great interest on the exchange markets. The Deutschmark was neither a safe currency nor a strong one. This possibility was largely beneficial. It must be pointed out that it is very rare that creditors accept that a country repay in its own currency if that is a weak currency. |8| Usually hard currency (Euro, Dollar, Yen Pound, etc.) is demanded.
  2. the creditor countries promised to buy German goods in order to create an export market that would in turn produce commercial income, foreign exchange reserves and a healthybalance of payments.
  3. the creditors accepted that, in case of litigation with Germany, the German courts would be competent.
  4. it was decided that Germany would not use more than five percent of its export revenues to repay debt.
  5. interest rates would not be higher than five percent and in some cases could be renegotiated and reviewed downwards.

These conditions allowed Germany to quickly rise out of its ashes. We must be aware that the London agreements only concerned what was, at the time, West Germany. The country was divided into East Germany (German Democratic Republic – GDR) which was aligned with the Soviet bloc, and West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany – FRG) aligned with the West. If West Germany’s creditors made such concessions it was because, in the context of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, they needed a stable Germany. They feared that if big social movements arose in a shaky Germany it would be a menace to their interests. Also, they did not want to make the same mistake as was made in the Versailles Treaty in 1919 that imposed unsustainable conditions on Germany. |9| Finally, it must not be forgotten that since the end of the 19th century Germany had become the strongest economic and military force in Europe.

To summarise, not only was the burden of debt very much alleviated and much economic help given to Germany (the equivalent of $10 billion 2014 US dollars was channelled to West Germany through the Marshall Plan between 1948 and 1952 |10|), but especially, the country was allowed to deploy an economic policy that favoured its growth. The big industrial corporations were consolidated, including the very ones that had played key roles in the First World War military adventure and had supported the Nazis and the genocide of Jews and gypsies, the plundering of the occupied and annexed countries and the enormous military production and logistic effort of the Second World War. Germany was able to build impressive public infrastructures; the country supported its industries to satisfy interior demand and win foreign markets.

The conditions in which the debt of West Germany was abolished are clearly difficult to imagine today. It will be very difficult for countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal to obtain, through a debt restructuring process, similar conditions to those granted to Germany in the 1950s. It would seem impossible because of the composition and policies of European authorities, the governments of the strongest European countries, IMF policies and the current context.

What examples are there, other than West Germany, of debt restructuring favourable to debtors?

Another case of favourable debt restructuring is that of Poland in 1991. The country was granted a big reduction, of about 50%, of its bilateral debt to Paris Club creditors. They wanted to help the pro-western government of Lech Walesa [pronounced – Vawensa] that had just quit the Warsaw Pact, the military alliance between Soviet bloc countries. This debt reduction was certainly less significant than that granted to West Germany in 1953, but the context was somewhat similar. Poland was one of the most important countries to defect to the West, adopting the appropriate neoliberal economic measures and privatisation policies, which led to Poland joining the EU a few years later.

It was during the same G7 summit in London in 1991 that Egypt was granted a 50% reduction of its bilateral debt with Paris Club members. The US and its allies were seeking support for their first Gulf War from the Egyptian President Mubarak.

It may be recalled that Iraq, too, benefited from a debt reduction in 2004, |11| after the US and its allies invaded the country on 20 March 2003. A few days later the US Secretary of the Treasury invited his G7 opposite numbers to a meeting in Washington, in which he declared the debt incurred by Saddam Hussein to be odious. He pressed Iraq’s creditors to concede a very large debt reduction, so that the new authorities appointed by the occupiers, could quickly rebuild the country. The principal bilateral creditors of Iraq reduced their demands by 80%, the other creditors (private, World Bank and IMF) followed up.

What are the similarities and differences between the above cases?

What these examples have in common is that they all happened in a situation of armed conflict or extreme tension between blocs. This brought the dominant power, in this case the US, to get its partners to agree to a significant debt reduction, thus serving its strategic interests. Nevertheless, the 1953 agreement in favour of Germany is an exceptional case: the conditions that were put into place really aimed at making the country a World power once again. While the other countries were thanked for their allegiance, the aim was not to create real economic powerhouses. The gestures that were made towards these other countries are comparable to the treatment that Medieval overlords might have reserved for their faithful vassal States.

Have there been cases where the State that has its debt restructured does not continue to show allegiance?

I know of only one case that did not turn out as the creditors had planned. This was the case of Bolivia which, in 2005, benefited from a reduction of its multilateral debt within the framework of the MDRI (Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative) created by the G8, the World Bank, the IMF and other multilateral lenders, as a prolongation of the HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) initiative. Here too, the lenders thought they were dealing with the authorities of a docile country. Bolivia had been exposed to “shock strategy” in 1985, in the form of a massive privatisation programme hatched with the active collaboration of the IMF, World Bank, Paris Club and the US. After twelve years of structural adjustment policies Bolivia’s economy was on its knees. So it gained entry to the HIPC initiative. Bolivia agreed to continue the structural adjustment programme and in return was granted debt relief. |12| However, Evo Morales, who was not part of the docile elite, was elected as the MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo – movement for Socialism) party candidate. When this happened the debt relief had already been granted and it was too late for the creditors to back out.

This restructuring was, in this case, beneficial to the country and its population. At the same time as the debt write-off happened, the government turned its economic policy around and refused the measures imposed by the creditors. This is important, because many countries that have obtained comparable debt relief have continued 5 or 10 years more of structural adjustment policies and the economies and the populations have not benefited. Note that whenever creditors granted significant debt relief it was in their strategic interests to do so.

And Argentina? After the biggest suspension of payments in history, in 2001 the Argentine government renegotiated its sovereign debt. What were the conditions?

Yes! In 2005 and in 2010 Argentina’s debt was restructured through an exchange of bonds: old bonds were exchanged against new ones. This was the situation: in December 2001, the Argentine authorities, under the interim President Adolfo Rodríguez Saá, unilaterally suspended debt repayments amounting to $80 billion to private creditors and the Paris Club ($6.5 billion). Notice that they did not suspend payments to multilateral organisms such as the World Bank, the IMF and others. This action came about in a situation of economic crisis and popular revolt against the policies that had been followed for years by successive neoliberal governments, of which Fernando de la Ruas was the most recent. It was thus under pressure from the street at a time when the treasury was empty that the Argentine authorities suspended debt repayments.

Argentina’s suspension of payments of sovereign debt bonds lasted from December 2001 to March 2005. This was beneficial for the Argentine economy and population. Between 2003 and 2009, Argentina’s economic growth was between 7% and 9%. Some economists claim that this growth was due to the rise in the prices of Argentina’s raw materials exports, but it is clear that if Argentina had continued paying off its debt, the increased exports income (in other words, the taxes levied on the exporting companies) would have been used for the debt repayments.

Between 2002 and 2005 the Argentine authorities negotiated with their creditors to convince a majority of them to agree to exchange the bonds they held for new ones, written down by 60%, but with a stronger guarantee and a favourable interest-rate indexed on Argentine GDP growth. This was debt restructuring by exchange of bonds: by March 2005, 76% of outstanding bonds had been exchanged, a majority that was considered sufficient protection against the 24% who refused the exchange. The authorities announced, at the time, that those who refused the exchange would have no further occasion to negotiate.

So why did Argentina restructure its debt again, in 2010?

Indeed, in contradiction with previous declarations and despite the protests of Roberto Lavagna, the minister of economic affairs who had taken part in the 2005 negotiations, the government of Argentina did open a new round of negotiations with the remaining 24% of the creditors. A new agreement was reached with 67% of that 24% in 2010. In all, 8% of all the bonds whose payment had been suspended since 2001 “held out” against both agreements. Both agreements contained clauses stipulating that in case of litigation involving the new issues, US courts would be the competent jurisdiction. |13|

In the end, can this restructuring be considered a success? Can other governments follow the Argentine strategy?

The Argentine authorities claim success because of the 50% to 60% reduction of debt stock. But, in return, big concessions were made: high interest rates; indexation to Argentina’s GDP growth, which means that the country actually agreed to hand over a share of its growth profits to the creditors; renouncing sovereignty in case of litigation

In fact, Argentina’s example is not the one to follow, but it is a source of inspiration. It shows the interest of suspending payments and the limits of a negotiated deal that makes big concessions to the creditors. The current situation is evidence enough Firstly, the amounts in fact reimbursed to creditors are considerable; Argentina itself acknowledges that it has reimbursed $190 billion since 2003; Secondly, although Argentina’s debt was certainly lower between 2005 and 2010, today the amount of Argentine debt is higher than it was in 2001. Thirdly, Argentina is under heavy and unwarranted pressure to reimburse the Vulture funds that refused to accept the exchange offers, after not only a New York judge but the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Vulture funds. |14|

Was Ecuador’s public debt not reduced in 2009 after the audit of 2007-2008? Can this be called “restructuring”?

No, in the case of Ecuador, this is not a genuine restructuring. |15| There was no exchange of bonds, especially since there was no negotiation with creditors. This was a very good thing. Old bonds were not replaced by new ones. Ecuador unilaterally suspended repayment of its public debt and told private creditors holding the bonds, called bonos Global 2012-2030, |16| that it would repurchase them with a 65% haircut and a fixed term. These bonds no longer exist. Ecuador did not restructure its debt: it never negotiated interest rates or rescheduling of repayment on new bonds with its creditors.

Ecuador combined this with an integral audit of its public debt, which preceded its suspension of repayment. In July 2007 a Commission for an integral audit was created in which I took part. It worked until September 2008, i.e. for 14 months, during which there was constant dialogue between the government and the commission members. They submitted their recommendations to the government and to the President. On this basis Ecuador’s executive power decided to suspend repayment of part of its debt, as explained above. Only later in 2009 did it force creditors to accept a significant haircut.

Some figures: Ecuador’s Public Treasury bought bonds that were worth $3.2 billion for less than $1 billion. It could thus save about $2.2 billion on the principal of its debt, to which should be added $300 million in yearly interest for 2008-2030. All in all, Ecuador saved over $7 billion. This released new financial resources for the government to increase its social expenditure in the fields of health care, education, social assistance and in the development of communications infrastructures.

Can we say that this approach is more beneficial that the one chosen by Argentina?

Clearly it is. One might also wonder whether Ecuador’s determined position prevented the country from getting renewed access to the financial markets. The answer is no. While in 2009 Ecuador forced its creditors to accept the reduction I’ve just mentioned, only 5 years later, the country floated new bonds on the financial markets, at an interest rate of some 7%, which was below the rate paid by Argentina or Venezuela (Venezuela has regularly repaid its debts since 1990 at rates that vary between 12 and 15%). This goes to show that radical positions do not necessarily foreclose traditional financial sources.

So in the case of Ecuador, we can say there was a unilateral sovereign act suspending repayment and repurchasing debt without negotiation, combined with a debt audit that was most beneficial for the population.

What about Iceland after the banking system collapsed in 2008?

In the case of Iceland, there was no restructuring either. What happened? Iceland’s private banking system collapsed in October 2008, because of its fraudulent financial ventures. On paper the value of Icelandic banks amounted to over ten times Iceland’s annual production of wealth! Banks had grown out of all proportion, as in Ireland or indeed Belgium at the same time. After the banking system’s collapse, Iceland’s government defaulted on what was owed to those private banking institutions and refused to pay the €3.5 billion that the governments of the UK and the Netherlands demanded to offset compensation they had paid out to their nationals who had money in those banks. It must be emphasized that this measure was taken under popular pressure: social mobilisation was very powerful and succeeded in countering the intentions of the country’s government on several occasions. Two referendums were organised, also due to popular pressure. In the first one, over 90% voted against compensating the UK and the Netherlands. |17| Negotiations resulted in a new compensation plan, which was again turned down by about two thirds of voters in a second referendum. This refusal to compensate was combined with another strong measure taken by the government, namely a strict control on capital flows. |18| Indeed, as a response to a situation of crisis in which the country was threatened with massive capital evasion by national and foreign large corporations, Iceland’s government prohibited capital transfer. It is noteworthy that the IMF in this case turned away from its usual position and even supported these measures!

These various measures were beneficial for Iceland, whose economy recovered much quicker than in European countries that took another approach, such as Ireland or Greece that bailed out their private banking sector, accepted loans from the Troika as well as a restructuring of their debts, and paid their creditors.

It is interesting to add that in the case of Iceland in January 2013, the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association States (more commonly known as the EFTA Court), which also includes Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, dismissed the UK and the Netherlands’ request that Iceland be ordered to pay the compensation they demanded. The Court of Justice considered that there was no element that could compel a government to take over the duties of private institutions. This conclusion is worth bearing in mind as it could provide jurisprudence to settle other disputes. |19|

In the case of Iceland, there was no debt restructuring either but, again, a unilateral sovereign decision not to pay the compensation demanded by two much stronger economic powers.

In 2012, the Troika did a restructuring of the Greek debt: what went wrong?

The context was as follows: from early 2010 Greece was subjected to speculative attacks by the financial markets that demanded excessively high interest rates for roll-over loans. Greece was close to defaulting because it could not refinance its debt at reasonable rates. The Troika interfered with a structural adjustment Memorandum’. It would grant new loans for Greece to repay its creditors, i.e. essentially European private banks. |20| Those new loans were accompanied by austerity measures that had a brutal, even disastrous, impact on the people’s living conditions and on economic activity.

In 2012 the Troika restructured the Greek debt owed to private creditors only, namely the private banks, of EU member states, that had already largely withdrawn though they still held some Greek debts, and other private creditors such as Greek worker’s pension funds. This restructuring involved cutting Greek debts to private creditors by 50 to 60%. The Troika, which has been lending money to Greece since 2010, restructured the Greek debt itself but refused to reduce the amount to be paid. The operation was presented as a success by mainstream media, Western governments, the Greek government as well as the IMF and the European Commission. They attempted to fool international public opinion and the Greek population into believing that private creditors had gone to considerable lengths to ease Greece’s dramatic situation. Actually the operation was not at all beneficial for the country in general, and even less for its population. After a temporary slackening in 2012 and early 2013, the Greek debt has been steadily rising again and is now beyond the highest point attained in 2010-2011. The conditions enforced by the Troika have resulted in a dramatic fall in the country’s economic activity: the GDP went down by over 25% between 2010 and early 2014. The living conditions of the population have dramatically deteriorated: violation of economic and social rights and of collective rights, regression of the retirement system, sharp reduction of public health and public education services, massive layoffs, drop in purchasing power… Moreover, one of the conditions for any debt relief was a change in the applicable law and the relevant jurisdiction in case of dispute with creditors. All in all this debt restructuring goes against the interest of the Greek population and of Greece as a country.

How does this restructuring of the Greek debt compare with the Brady Plan that was implemented in countries of the South as a consequence of the 1982 debt crisis?

The Brady Plan |21| was implemented in some twenty indebted countries towards the end of the 1980s. It was a way of restructuring debts through an exchange with US-guaranteed securities on condition that creditor banks reduce the amount of what is owed to them and that they use the money in the economy. In some cases the debt was reduced by 30%, and the Brady bonds guaranteed a fixed interest rate of about 6%, which is most favourable for bankers. The problem was thus solved for the banks and merely postponed for indebted countries.

We find the same components in the debt restructuring imposed on Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus as in the Brady Plan.

  1. In the Brady Plan, just as in the Memoranda imposed on the countries on the ‘periphery’ of the EU, governments of the major powers and international institutions step in instead of private banks as main creditors. All those plans thus aim to make it possible for private banks to withdraw as main creditors of the countries concerned without significant loss since they are replaced by governments and multilateral institutions such as the IMF. This was what happened with the Brady Plan. In Europe, the European Commission, the European Stability Mechanism [ESM], the ECB and the IMF have gradually replaced private banks and private financial institutions as creditors.
  2. All those operations are obviously accompanied by conditionalities that enforce the implementation of austerity measures and neoliberal policies.
  3.  The other common point lies in the ultimate failure of such restructuring for indebted countries. Even neoliberal economists such as Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart |22| acknowledge that the Brady plan was not beneficial for the countries concerned: debt reduction was much more limited than had been announced and in the long term the amount of debt actually increased and the amounts paid are very high. We can now say the same about Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and Ireland.

If restructuring the debt is not a solution, what should be done to help those countries solve the debt issue?

Those countries ought to unilaterally: 1) set up an integral debt audit – with citizens’ active participation; 2) suspend debt repayment; 3) refuse to pay the illegal or illegitimate part of it; and 4) demand a reduction of the remainder. The reduction of what is left after cancellation of the illegitimate and/or illegal part can be seen as a form of restructuring but it cannot be isolated as a sufficient response.

What happens if a government starts negotiating with creditors without suspending repayment?

If there is no suspension of repayment or public auditing, creditors are in a dominant position. We mustn’t underestimate their manipulative skills that can lead governments to unacceptable compromises. Suspending debt repayment as a unilateral sovereign decision creates a new power relationship with creditors. Besides, with a suspension, creditors have to crawl out of the woodwork. Indeed if you deal with securities holders without suspension of payments they remain anonymous since securities are not nominal. Only if they topple this power relationship can governments create the necessary conditions for them to enforce measures that legitimize their action in domestic and international law. In the cases of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus the troika is the major creditor and would be obliged to go to the negotiation table.

In this case could governments initiate negotiations to show public opinion that creditors have an unacceptable position and that they have no choice but to turn to unilateral actions?

Yes, but such an approach has its pitfalls. Creditors may create confusion in the people’s minds claiming that the governments are unyielding and delay negotiations. Whereas the countries need urgent solutions and cannot afford to use their tax revenues to repay their debts.

The adequate moment to suspend debt repayment must be defined according to each country’s specific conditions: the people’s degree of consciousness, urgency, creditors’ blackmail, the general economic situation of the country… In some circumstances auditing can occur before; in others, the two must occur simultaneously.

Translated by CADTM

Notes:

|1| The IMF has produced a large quantity of memoranda, working papers and propositions concerning debt restructuring. See the IMF website: https://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/fre/sdrmf.ht, IMF working paper WP/12/203, August 2012.ps://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/… Debt Restructurings 1950–2010: Literature Survey, Data, and Stylized Facts Particularly: U.Das, M.Papaioannou and C.Trebesch

|2| Re-echeloning” must be differentiated from; “restructuring” which is a debt reduction including a written-off amount. This limited definition is not the one that is used here.

|3| A typical restructuring was done to prepare the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 2002, for the HIPC initiative. The financial situation was regularised and the conditions created that allowed repayments to be made. After 32 years of the Mobutu dictatorship (1965-1997) DRC had accumulated important arrears. The debt the Mobutu regime left behind, after it fell, should have been wiped clean, it was an odious debt. The creditors that had financed Mobutu for so long agreed to restructuring. In the first phase, four countries (Belgium, France, South Africa and Sweden) advanced loans that allowed the Congo to repay its old outstanding arrears to the IMF. This was a consolidating arrangement that replaced the old debts with new ones at the “concessional” interest rate of 0.5%. Then the IMF loaned the $522 million to the Congolese government so that it could payback the four countries. At the same time the World Bank loaned $330 million to the Congo so that the Congo could repay arrears owed to the World Bank. In the second phase the debt of the Congo due to the fourteen Paris club countries was restructured: a part of the debt was written-off and the remainder spread over a longer period. In the end the two phases together added up to a 60% restructuring of the Congolese debt. This restructuring was announced as a success but the end result was an exchange of old unpayable debts for new, more modest, debts that were payable, repayments were resumed. Instead of being wiped out, the congolese debt was consolidated. It was reborn in a new structure that is not called “odious”.
See: Éric Toussaint, Arnaud Zacharie, “La République démocratique du Congo”, 2002,http://cadtm.org/La-Republique-democratique-du ; Arnaud Zacharie, “La restructuration de la dette congolaise”, 2002, http://cadtm.org/La-restructuration-de-la-dette.

|4| This was the case of the Greek debt restructuring of 2012 (see below) and of hundreds of others managed by the IMF and/or the Paris Club.

|5| See Éric Toussaint: http://cadtm.org/The-cancellation-of-German-debt-in August 2014

|6| In all, 21 creditor countries. See http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2013/02/TSIPRAS/48724 (French)

|7| West Germany, before the 1990 reunification and after, the reunified Germany, were hardly obliged to pay war damages and debts (after WWII) in proportion to the human and economic ill that was done. Most of the little that was paid went to Israel because of the persecution of the Jews. In March 2014, The Greek government claimed compensation for war damages caused by the Third Reich in Greece during WWII. Of course, the German government refused. See Le Monde, “La Grèce exige des réparations de guerre de l’Allemagne”, 6 March 2014, http://www.lemonde.fr/europeennes-2014/article/2014/03/06/la-grece-exige-des-reparations-de-guerre-de-l-allemagne_4378951_4350146.html.

|8| This is permitted by France to developing countries in the “C2D” framework. Le Contrat de Désendettement et de Développement (debt and development contract) is a particular kind of restructuring through which France operates a grant restructuring system. In the case of the Cameroon contract, for example,France directly returns the amounts of repaid debt to the poor debtor country to finance , so called, development programmes, so pretending to assist the development of the country. The truth is quite different: on the one hand the French Development Agency (AFD) decides the use that is made of the resource, so, the choices are in the clear interest of the ex colonial power. Also, the AFD watches the ongoing projects and can veto decisions taken by the Cameroon government by emitting a “no objection memorandum” . In this way France maintains a flagrant economic and political domination over Cameroon’s national sovereignty.
See: Owen Chartier, Jean-Marc Bikoko, “Pourquoi faut-il réaliser un audit citoyen de la dette du Cameroun?”, August 2014, http://cadtm.org/Pourquoi-faut-il-realiser-un-audit (French)

|9| In The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) John Maynard Keynes denounced the conditions that were imposed on Germany at the end of WWI; he had previously resigned from the British negotiation delegation in protest. Later, in 1920, there was a major debate between him and another economist, Bertil Ohlin, about the economic consequences of the war compensations demanded by the Allies from Germany. Keynes claimed that in order to pay the demanded amount Germany would have to export more and import less, which would inevitably lead a deterioration of its trade balance and add to the burden of the debt. Ohlin replied that paying compensation would result in a boost in demand in other countries, which would turn at least partly toward German products. This would limit the deterioration of Germany’s trade balance. Ohlin argued for supporting this mechanism through an international trade agreement allowing Germany to raise its tariffs while lowering them in receiving countries. The result would have been a German trade surplus. (See http://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/denis.delgay-troise/CI/Cours/REI223.pdf (French)

|10| See Éric Toussaint, “Why the Marshall Plan?”, August 2014, http://cadtm.org/Why-the-Marshall-Plan

|11| Concerning Iraq see: Éric Toussaint, « Irak : la dette odieuse », in La finance contre les peuples, pp. 435-451, éditions Syllepse/CETIM/CADTM, 2004.updated version 2006 : « La dette odieuse de l’Irak », May 2006http://cadtm.org/La-dette-odieuse-de-l-Irak. (All sources in French)

|12| Debt relief came in stages: the first, in the HIPC framework in 1998 and in 2001 ; en 2005, The final debt relief was in the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) framework, the extension ot the HIPC for the most docile countries (see Frédéric Lévêque, “La dette de la Bolivie” , June 2006, http://cadtm.org/La-dette-de-la-Bolivie#nh6

|13| This renouncement of sovereignty started with the military dictatorship from 1976.

|14| About Argentine and Vulture funds, see: Renaud Vivien, “Un vautour peut en cacher d’autres”, carte blanche, Le Soir, 23 June 2014 ; Jérôme Duval, Fatima Fafatale, “The vulture funds that corner Argentina also comes for you”, July b2014, http://cadtm.org/The-vulture-funds-that-corner; Éric Toussaint, “How to resist vulture funds and financial imperialism?”, September 2014, http://cadtm.org/How-to-resist-vulture-funds-and; Julia Goldenberg , Éric Toussaint, “Vulture funds are the vanguard”, October 2014,http://cadtm.org/Vulture-funds-are-the-vanguard

|15| On Ecuador, see Éric Toussaint, « Les leçons de l’Équateur pour l’annulation de la dette illégitime », 29 May 2013, http://cadtm.org/Les-lecons-de-l-Equateur-pour-l(in French only), also U. Das, M. Papaioannou and C. Trebesch, Sovereign Debt Restructurings 1950–2010: Literature Survey, Data, and Stylized Facts, FMI working paper WP/12/203 http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2012/wp12203.pdfp. 25 et 78
See press release in French ‘Islande : le CADTM salue le Non massif au référendum sur la loi Icesave’, 8 March 2010, http://cadtm.org/Islande-le-CADTM-salue-le-Non

|16| The bonos Global are the result of restructuring of Ecuador’s external commercial debt that had occurred in 2000 in the context of a bailout operation after the 1999 financial crisis. Brady bonds were exchanged for new bonds (bonos Global A et B) at conditions that were most advantageous for creditors (notably at high interest rates of 10 to 12%). Brady bonds themselves had been the result of of a 1995 exchange of bank debts that had become impossible to pay with a new debt in the form of bonds guaranteed by the US Treasury (on the Brady Plan see the answer to another later question). Those two successive restructuring moves had been presented as successful by both creditors and government. In fact they were marred by irregularities and illegal acts that the audit commission (CAIC) could identify. See pp. 46-47 of the Final Report http://cadtm.org/IMG/pdf/Informe_Deuda_Externa.pdf

|17| See : CADTM, “Islande : le CADTM salue le Non massif au référendum sur la loi Icesave (Iceland! The CADTM welcomes the massive non in Iceland ’s “Icesave” referendum)”», Press release 8 March 2010, http://cadtm.org/Islande-le-CADTM-s…(French)

|18The IMF has also condoned the strict capital movement controls introduced in Cyprus in March 2013. If one EU country can do this, why not the others?

|19| See press release ‘EFTA court dismisses ’Icesave’ claims against Iceland and its people’ 28 January 2013, http://cadtm.org/EFTA-court-dismisses-Icesave

|20| French, German, Italian and Belgian banks mainly.

|21| The plan was named after Nicholas Brady who was the US Treasury Secretary. between 1988 and 1993, http://www.treasury.gov/about/history/pages/nfbrady.aspx

|22| Kenneth Rogoff was chief economist with the IMF and Carmen Reinhart, university professor, is advisor with the IMF and the World Bank.

Resistance in Honduras Alive and Jumping

June 24th, 2015 by David Swanson

June 28 will mark 6 years since the U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras took the people’s government away from them. Thousands of people are still in the streets every week demanding that the wrongful president step down.

“Whoever’s not jumping supports the coup!” is the shout as a sea of people leaps repeatedly into the air. The makers of an amazing new film called Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley, will be allowing anyone to view it online for free for two weeks. I recommend you do so.

Honduras has not simply turned into the worst home of violent crime. And the people have not simply fled to the U.S. border (much compassion they’d receive there!) — No, thousands and thousands of people in this little nation have taken back their land, occupied it, created communities, and built a future, with or without the coup.

President Manuel Zelaya had said he would help. Oligarchs had seized land, or bought land and then devalued the currency. Miguel Facussé took over palm oil plantations, evicted people from their land, got richer than rich, and allowed cocaine flights from Colombia to land on his plantations with U.S. knowledge.

The U.S. for years had been funding, training, and arming soldiers for the oligarchs of Honduras. The leaders of the 2009 coup that overthrew Zelaya had all trained at the School of the Americas in the United States. The U.S. assisted in the coup and in recognition of the coup government. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were part of and are part of this ongoing crime, and U.S. military supply shipments to Honduras are at record levels now as the military has merged with the police and turned its weaponry against the people.

The coup was followed by phony elections. The people knew to look elsewhere for answers. They looked to themselves. In the Aguan Valley in the north, thousands of families took over thousands of hectares by squatting, building, and farming. And they created communities of such camaraderie that they found themselves saying thanks for the coup.

They faced, and still face, regular attacks by killers on motorcycles, but they have nowhere else to go, and they have made the most of it, creating self-sustaining centers of life in the countryside, replacing palm oil monoculture with farming that cares for the land. The dead in the film are of such a different type from the dead in Hollywood movies, that I wonder if people can really see these dead. I hope so. There is never any police investigation, never any charges brought. The people have lost a lawyer and a journalist as well as numerous of their own; the oligarchs have lost a few guards.

The people have also organized local and national assemblies. The men have learned to include women in positions of power. This popular resistance movement always backed the return of Zelaya, who finally negotiated his return to Honduras in 2011. He returned to a people demanding more democratic participation. He joined their movement and encouraged them to participate in the 2013 elections that they had determined to boycott.

During the meeting in the city at which the decision to participate in the election was made, the police in Aguan burned and bulldozed 90 houses, plus churches, and schools. The tears and the eloquence of the people affected must be watched; I cannot tell them to you.

You should watch the scenes of the people meeting with their ousted president, Zelaya, the rightful president of Honduras, and then watch the scene of President Obama meeting with his usurper in the White House. As Facussé threatens to evict everyone from their land, we see a U.S. State Department official meet with some of the campesinos. They tell him that they are offered land at 14% interest, while the World Bank offers it to the big corporations for 1%. He replies that his only area of work is human rights. So they tell him they have been gassed, imprisoned, tortured, and shot. He replies that he just wants to talk about peace. Or maybe he said “piece” of the action, I don’t know.

The people see the United States as working on behalf of Dole, formerly the Standard Fruit Company, the same people for whom the U.S. military has been overthrowing governments since that of Hawaii in 1893. Is there any good reason anyone should ever buy Dole products?

The struggle, and the movie, goes on — filmed over a period of years. Leaders are forced into exile after murder attempts. The burned and bulldozed buildings are rebuilt. And the November 2013 elections arrive, and are blatantly stolen. Zelaya’s wife runs on the people’s platform against the “law and order” candidate of the military. Observers from the EU and the OAS declare the election legitimate, but individual members of those commissions denounce that conclusion as corrupt and fraudulent. Students lead the protests, and the protests continue to grow.

And the people in the country go right on taking back more of their land and reclaiming it as a source of life rather than death. These people need no aid. They need simply to be allowed to live. All immigrants should be welcomed everywhere by everyone, with no hesitation. Obama should immediately cease deporting children back to a nation he’s helped to ruin. But I think most people would be shocked by how little immigration there would be in the world if the corporations and the killers stopped migrating, and people were allowed to live peacefully and equally in the place they love: their land.

The UN Charter still designates Italy, Germany and Japan as enemy states to the United Nations. In legal terms this means that any U.N. Member State can launch a “preemptive” military aggression against these nations without a declaration of war. Seldom discussed, this enemy State status is today, arguably, one of the greatest obstacles for a lasting peace in Asia and in Europe.

Since the end of WW II none of the G-4, that is China, UK, USA, and the USSR / Russia have taken steps to abolish the Enemy State Clause from the Charter of the United Nations. The UN Charter still designates Italy, Japan and Germany as enemy States to the United Nations. This fact is generally omitted from the public political discourse; that is, both in the G-4 nations as well as in Italy, Japan and Germany.

The implications and the lack of the sovereignty (e.g. the jus ad bellum) are, arguably, one of the greatest obstacles with regard to achieving a lasting Asian and European peace. A few examples should amply demonstrate why.

Italy – Germany and Gladio

Both the Italian Brigate Rosse and the German Rote Arme Fraktion (RAF) were in part infiltrated by respectively Italian and West-German intelligence services before they were even formally established. In Germany the internal intelligence service of Berlin (Landesamt für Verfassungsschutz Berlin LfV Berlin) as well as the Federal Internal Intelligence Service (Bundesamt für Verfassungschutz – BfV) had infiltrated the later to be militarized left from the onset of the leftist student protest in the mid-60s.

To mention but one example; a LfV-Berlin agent, Peter Urbach, was one of the first to provide weapons and explosives to what later would develop into the militant 2. Juni and RAF. The situation with regard to Italy’s Brigate Rosse was similar. When German leftists went to Italy to help procuring weapons for the left in Greece that was prepared to take on the Greek military dictatorship, it became obvious that Italy’s police and Intelligence Services with ties to Italy’s Gladio network were well-informed and involved. (Statements by former members of Germany’s 2. Juni and RAF).

Some critics of the armed resistance would construe this fact as if the militant left was working on behalf of the intelligence services all along. Not true. What is true, however, is that the militant left was infiltrated from day one, and that some attacks were incited, other were allowed to happen, with intelligence services obstructing police investigations. Other attacks like the assassinations of von Herrenhausen and Rohwedder have, arguably, been carried out by NATO intelligence, while accusing the RAF or as in the case of von Herrenhausen the RAF as well as parts of the Lebanese Hezbollah which is known to be heavily infiltrated by the Israeli Mossad.

There exist today, serious and justified doubts whether Gladio networks were involved in the assassination of Deutsche Bank Director Alfred von Herrenhausen and Treuhand President Rohwedder. Von Herrenhausen lobbied for a more benign policy toward so-called third world nations and a partial debt moratorium. Rohwedder was, after the German reunification (shotgun wedding), actively inquiring into the mafia-style takeover of East German corporations by foreign entities.

So much to the information that slowly becomes part of the public discourse. What is being omitted, however, is that the domestic and foreign intelligence services of Italy and Germany, at top-levels and in part in the form of “factions with these services” still are heavily controlled by Washington and London.

The CIA and MI6 are playing a role, although the main thrust comes from the Pentagon, the JSOC-CIA interface and the JSOC / NATO interface. In Italy the 1978 kidnapping and assassination of Aldo Moroby an infiltrated Brigate Rosse cell prevented the formation of an Italian Cabinet with participation of Italy’s Communist Party. So much to Italian “sovereignty”.

One may ask whether an Italian or German government could act sovereign and so to speak “clean up” within their respective intelligence services. The answer is an unequivocal no; not as long as both States remain designated as enemy States to the UN.

The situation of German governments is further complicated by the fact that Germany still has no peace treaty and that Washington and London do all that is in their power to maintain that status quo. No post WW II government in Germany has dared to touch upon this “hot potato”, Red – Green coalitions included. Even The Left (Die Linke) avoids the issue as much as possible.

German governments have, generally speaking, used two strategies. 1) To push for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council to force the hands of the G-4. 2) To assert German power within the European Union; at considerable expense for the German economy in form of bail outs etc.

Relevance today?

Considering the situation in Ukraine and tensions between Russia and NATO / EU one cannot underestimate the fact that neither an Italian or German government could maintain a sovereign foreign policy. About 50% of Germans do not perceive Germany as solidly or permanently anchored within NATO and about 50% would like to see Germany maintain a neutral position as bridge between the east and the west, at equal distance and with equally good relations to respectively Moscow and Washington. No German government would be able to reflect this public opinion in its policy.

Japanese – US / Russian / Chinese Relations

Being designated as enemy State to the UN, Japan has to “dance on hot coals” too. There is a growing public consensus against US bases in Japan but no Japanese government could reflect this trend in tangible policies without risking serious implications. Any Japanese top-politician that would touch upon this issue would literally commit political hara kiri.

But it is not only the USA that keeps Japan in the legal limbo of being designated as enemy State. Japanese – Chinese relations with regard to the disputed Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands are strongly biased by Japan’s attempt to assert its sovereignty, even if it, at times reluctantly, has to play geopolitics and use the US against China.

The enemy State clause also has an impact on Japanese – Russian relations. The disputed South Kuril Islands (as Russian would call them) is one issue that is biased by the Japanese legal status as UN enemy State and the lack of a Japanese – Russian peace treaty. Japanese governments, at times reluctantly, have to play the US card against Russia. Russian – Japanese relations could, arguably, become far more positive if Russia took the initiative to level the playing field by signing a peace treaty.

Considering the developing Chinese – Russian relations and considering long-term geopolitical strategies in the Asia – Pacific region, a Russian and Chinese show of confidence in Japan as a partner would free the hands of Japan with regards to US – Japanese relations and be a wise move that would have positive repercussions throughout the region, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea and Vietnam.

Taking the initiative to remove the enemy State clause and global leverage

Taking into account the complexity of today’s global markets; taking into account the complexity of today’s military alliances and interdependencies across so-called enemy lines, one can argue that any G-4 nation that takes the initiative to genuinely lobby for abolishing the enemy State clause from the UN Charter will gain a considerable political and geopolitical advantage.

With regard to both Russia and China such a step could, using tentative policies, also result in foiling the Anglo-American Axis’ hegemony in Europe and Washington’s Asia Pivot.

A joint Chinese – Russian initiative would also create far greater trust in countries like Vietnam and South as well as North Korea. A Russian initiative would create a more genuine discourse about the situation in Ukraine, NATO’s role with regard to Ukraine and the fact that Germany, and by implication the EU, are forced to “follow suit” and adhere to Washington’s dictates.

The Russian administration of President Vladimir Putin prides itself of being a proponent of a global community of interdependent but sovereign nation States. Taking the initiative with regard to the abolishment of the enemy State clause and a peace treaty with Japan could, arguably, be the most wise long-term investment that would secure that this vision can bear fruit and show that Russia’s position is genuine.

Ultimately, one must ask the question why non of the G-4 has yet taken the initiative

Is it a function of mistrust between cold-war and new-cold-war alliances? Or is it a conscious perpetuation of Yalta where the G-4 carved up the world into hegemonies, divided by Iron, Bamboo and Banana curtains?

If so, the invariable outcome will be that an increasing number of those States who have been subjugated and forced into these hegemonies, sooner rather than later, will rise against the G-4. Others, like Egypt, will note that the UN failed as much as the League of Nations, in protecting smaller nations from the conflicts that were unleashed during and after WW I & WW II. The trend to reform the UN or to abolish it all together is becoming increasingly prevalent.

Another invariable outcome of a continuation of Yalta in new drag will be that the seemingly endless string of low-intensity conflicts that is being fueled by the aftershocks of Yalta will continue while the G-4 position themselves and their power base, using people from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as cannon fodder and hostages.

Dr. Christof Lehmann an independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and the founder and editor in chief of nsnbc, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

It is now commonly known within the researching community that the presence of a military, law enforcement, or other related “drill” occurring at the same time as a high profile event is often an indicator that the event was of the false flag variety.

After, the Charleston shooting, there have been numerous questionable aspects of the tragic murder of nine people in the Charleston AME church that many researches have pointed out in articles, videos, and radio shows. For instance, the question over whether or not photos of Dylann Roof had been altered, the amazing ability of the Southern Poverty Law Center to have been one of the first organizations to release photos of Roof as well as troves of intel before any other media outlet, the psychological state of Roof after the rampage, the timing of the event, the subsequent agenda that was rolled out all stand as evidence that the event may have been a staged provocation and that Roof may himself be yet another mentally damaged patsy.

While it is difficult to determine the true nature of the event, evidence is continuing to emerge that may help in that determination.

If Andrew Pontbriand’s recent article is accurate, there may indeed be much greater reason to question the official story of the event – i.e. that Dylann Roof was a drug addicted white supremacist who decided to go berserk in Charleston. This is because Pontbriand has reported the presence of Active Shooter drills ongoing from a few days before the shooting and concluding after the murders had taken place.

In his article, “SMOKING GUN: Active Shooter Drills Charleston SC Day Of Shooting,” Pontrbriand indeed claims that he has found a “smoking gun” demonstrating that the shooting was a false flag event.

According to Pontbriand, who provides screenshots of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center’s website and schedule, an Active Shooter Threat Instructor Training Program exercise was scheduled from 6/15/2015 – 6/19/2015 in Charleston, South Carolina.

Image Source

The Active Shooter Threat Instructor Training Program, according to the FLET website is:

designed to provide a field training agent or officer with high quality training and instill the analytical knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for the highest proficiency in this specialized field. The course takes Active Shooter Threat Tactics Training to the next level by emphasizing leadership, teach backs, and adult learning as well as the traditional technical skills needed by field training officers and special agents. This course is an intensive training program that covers a variety of tactical subject matters to include: individual and team movement and operational formation. In addition, this program focuses on the role of the field trainer and emphasizes evaluation skills and documentation requirements.

The training is more than just classroom work as is evidenced by the fact that participants are required to bring:

  • Camelback or other means of hydration
  • Appropriate wear (BDU, agency t-shirt (long sleeve or short sleeve), boots, etc.)
  • Bug spray

If Pontbriand’s information is accurate, the revelation that drills were ongoing amid the days before, during, and after the shootings is concerning to say the least and may point to another Sandy Hook style staged provocation.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andvolume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

“China is reaching deep within the world island in an attempt to thoroughly reshape the geopolitical fundamentals of global power…… Its two-step plan is designed to build a transcontinental infrastructure for the economic integration of the world island from within, while mobilizing military forces to surgically slice through Washington’s encircling containment…….If China succeeds in linking its rising industries to the vast natural resources of the Eurasian heartland, then quite possibly…. “the empire of the world would be in sight.” — Alfred McCoy, The Geopolitics of American Global DeclineThe Unz Review

“The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.” — Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,  “America’s Pacific Century”,  Foreign Policy magazine.

China’s meteoric rise has Washington worried, not because China is a threat to its neighbors or to US national security, but because China’s influence is expanding across the region. It’s creating the institutions it needs to finance its own development (AIIB and New BRICS Bank),  it’s building the infrastructure needed to connect the continents with state-of-the-art high-speed rail (New Silk Road), and its attracting allies and trading partners who want to participate in its plan for growth and prosperity. This is why Washington is worried; it’s because China has transformed itself into an economic powerhouse that doesn’t conform to the neoliberal model of punitive austerity, pernicious privatization,  and madcap asset inflation.  China has slipped out of the empire’s orbit and charted its own course, which is why Washington wants to provoke Beijing over its negligible land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. Washington thinks it can succeed militarily where it has failed economically and politically. Case in point; check this out from Bloomberg News:

“The U.S. and Japan are conducting separate military drills with the Philippines near the disputed South China Sea,…The annual CARAT Philippines joint exercise started Monday off the east coast of Palawan island and will run until June 26, according to U.S. Navy spokesman Arlo Abrahamson. The Philippine and Japanese navies are holding drills around the same island through June 27, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force said last week.

The U.S. has backed Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines as tensions escalate with China over territorial claims in the South China Sea, while Japan is providing patrol vessels to the Philippine coast guard….The drill includes a sea phase with the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth, diving and salvage ship USNS Safeguard and a P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft and at least one Philippine frigate, according to the U.S. Navy….

Japan’s exercises with the Philippines will take place adjacent to the Spratly Islands, where China has created more than 2,000 acres of land in waters also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia. Japan will send a P-3C anti-submarine, maritime surveillance aircraft and 20 personnel.”  (“U.S., Japan Join Philippines in Navy Drills Near South China Sea”, Bloomberg)

The “show of force” drills are designed to harass and intimidate China. They have no other purpose.  The US wants to force China to succumb to its diktats, to abandon its commitment to new institutions, to open its markets to US corporations and Wall Street, and to allow the US a free-hand in writing trade rules.   That’s what Washington really wants and that’s why the moderate Chuck Hagel was dumped for the combative Ashton Carter as Secretary of Defense. US powerbrokers wanted a scrappy taskmaster who’d bloody China’s nose and show them who’s boss. Carter fit the bill to a “T”, an icy bureaucratic leg-breaker who fancies himself the “smartest guy in the room”.  Peter Lee provides an interesting insight on Carter in a recent blog-post at China Matters. He says:

“…assertive Ash Carter is not playing bad cop to Obama/Kerry’s good cop; he’s the whole show, which will delight fans of military control of foreign policy everywhere.”

We’re glad that others are beginning to see that the Pentagon has taken over US foreign policy. Carter is clearly calling the shots in Asia and Europe.

Lee seems to believe that Carter will outlast Obama’s time in office if Madame Clinton is elected president. Which is not surprising, since it was Clinton who first introduced “pivot” to the strategic lexicon in a speech she gave in 2010 titled  “America’s Pacific Century”.  Clinton’s presentation laid out the basic themes that would later become America’s “top priority”, the rebalancing of US power to the Asia Pacific. Here’s an excerpt from the speech that appeared in Foreign Policymagazine:

 “As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region…

Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…

The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.” (“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)

Repeat: “Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests…. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia.”

There it is in a nutshell. Having reduced the great American middle class to a lifeless, rotting corpse incapable of sustaining even meager demand or growth, US elites are packing the boats and heading for China, the shining corporate Valhalla on the hill. Clinton seems to think it should be pretty easy to penetrate these bustling Asian markets provided we back up our crackbrain aspirations with a strong dose of gunboat diplomacy–which is where Boss-man Carter comes in.

It’s worth noting that Clinton did not conjure up the pivot on her own, but was briefed on the theory by pivot mastermind Kurt M. Campbell. Campbell is Co-Founder and former CEO of the Center for a New American Security.  According to the Center for a New American Security website: “From 2009 to 2013, he served as the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, where he is widely credited as being a key architect of the “pivot to Asia.” In this capacity, Dr. Campbell advanced a comprehensive U.S. strategy that took him to every corner of the Asia-Pacific region where he was a tireless advocate for American interests, particularly the promotion of trade and investment.”

In a recent video interview with neocon Robert Kagan,  Campbell regurgitates the same rhetoric that appears in Clinton’s speech. He opines: “Most of the history of the 21 century is going to be in the Asia Pacific region….It is in our best national interest to show that we are going to play a central role in that drama just as we have in the 20th century….(There is  bipartisan)… recognition that our military presence is our ticket to the big game in the Asia Pacific.”  (See entire interviewhere.)

There seems to be a growing consensus that the US military is the right tool for persuading China to cave in, but is it?

The last thing the Obama administration wants is a shooting war with China, mainly because China has the ability to strike back, and not just militarily either.  Let me explain: According to political scientist Pang Zhongying, “The current relationship between China and the US is one that has never existed in the history of international relations…..The level of interdependence between China and the US is unprecedented in history. Before the 1970s, no one could possibly imagine or predict that these two countries would be interdependent to the extent of today. At that time, interdependence existed only between the US and Europe, or among the G7 at the most. The level of interdependence today did not exist between the US and China.”

In other words, the two countries need each other and are bound together in a complex web of economic and financial ties, including China’s massive holding of US debt which amounts to an eyewatering $1.3 trillion.  This interdependence means that the US cannot abuse China in the same way it has Russia without putting itself at risk.   So, while the US still maintains the dominant position economically and militarily, it can’t simply throw caution to the wind by imposing sanctions or escalating hostilities beyond a certain point without jeopardizing its own security. China knows this, which is why it will continue to pursue its own agenda aggressively while deflecting US belligerence and hostility as best as it can.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is still committed to “peaceful development”. US antagonism is just one of the many hurtles that China will have to overcome to actualize its plan for integrating the Eurasian landmass into the world’s largest and most prosperous trading bloc. Check out this excerpt from Alfred McCoy’s seminal piece “The Geopolitics of American Global Decline”:

“China’s leadership began collaborating with surrounding states on a massive project to integrate the country’s national rail network into a transcontinental grid. Starting in 2008, the Germans and Russians joined with the Chinese in launching the “Eurasian Land Bridge.” Two east-west routes, the old Trans-Siberian in the north and a new southern route along the ancient Silk Road through Kazakhstan are meant to bind all of Eurasia together….

In April, President Xi Jinping announced construction of that massive road-rail-pipeline corridor direct from western China to its new port at Gwadar, Pakistan, creating the logistics for future naval deployments in the energy-rich Arabian Sea….. By building the infrastructure for military bases in the South China and Arabian seas, Beijing is forging the future capacity to surgically and strategically impair U.S. military containment. …

In a decade or two….China will be ready to surgically slice through Washington’s continental encirclement at a few strategic points without having to confront the full global might of the U.S. military, potentially rendering the vast American armada of carriers, cruisers, drones, fighters, and submarines redundant….. If China succeeds in linking its rising industries to the vast natural resources of the Eurasian heartland, then quite possibly…. “the empire of the world would be in sight.” (“The Geopolitics of American Global Decline”, Alfred McCoy, The Unz Review)

There it is, eh? The end of one empire and the beginning of another.

China’s leaders aren’t going to blow their big chance by getting sucked into a costly and pointless war with the United States.  That’s ridiculous. They’re going to keep plugging away until the Silk Road becomes a reality.

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].

“We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, Environmental Working Group. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)

The World Health Organization revealed on Tuesday that 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic, a key ingredient of a widely-used herbicide produced by Dow, is “possibly carcinogenic” to humans—a classification that public health and environmental advocates say is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overall dangers the chemical poses.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer—a Lyon, France-based wing of the WHO—published the findings Tuesday in The Lancet Oncology and also disclosed them in a public statement (pdf).

The agency said there is “strong evidence that 2,4-D induces oxidative stress that can operate in humans and moderate evidence that 2,4-D causes immunosuppression, based on in-vivo and in-vitro studies.”

The classification of “possibly carcinogenic” puts 2,4-D two levels above “probably not carcinogenic” but one below “probably carcinogenic.”This development did not come as a shock to public health and environmental advocates.

“We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, senior policy analyst for the Environmental Working Group, in a press statement.

However, advocacy groups say that the agency’s findings come at a particularly critical time.

“Now that farmers are planting 2,4-D-tolerant GMO crops, this herbicide is slated to explode in use much the way glyphosate did with the first generation of GMO crops,” said Kustin. “And we know from experience—and basic biology—that weeds will soon grow resistant to these herbicides, making GMO crop growers only more dependent on the next chemical fix.”

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network, said that this dependency underscores the importance of immediate action: “We must heed the warning: we cannot continue down the path of dousing our fields with ever more toxic chemicals as a temporary solution to today’s epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds—a problem greatly exacerbated in recent years by dependence on glyphosate, now classified as a probable carcinogen.”

Troublingly, 2,4-D is just one key ingredient in Dow’s Enlist Duo herbicide that was approved in April for use in 15 states by the Environmental Protection Agency. The other key ingredient is glyphosate, which the WHO said in March is a “probable carcinogen” for humans.

What’s unknown, and perhaps even more alarming, is the fact that “when the EPA approved Enlist Duo for use on GMO crops, the agency did not consider the effects the two harmful defoliants may have on human health when mixed together,” EWG warned Tuesday.

A formal complaint has been filed against Uber, the car ride company, by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-profit advocacy group. The NGO says Uber plans to use their smart phone app to access user’s locations at all times, and to send advertisements to user’s contact lists.

Uber, a San Francisco-based company, has become worth over $40 billion in the five years since it launched its app that allows anyone to pay for rides from nearby drivers in 300 cities in 57 countries. Along the way, it has also gained a bad reputation for exploiting its employees and even some customers.

Last September, users were horrified to discover that Uber was not only tracking them but boasting about this ability at private parties. The tracking system that the company used to follow the physical location of individuals was dubbed the “God View” by executives.

“I’ve given up on being able to trust the company, and am no longer using the service,” wrote Peter Sims, a technology writer whose moment-by-moment location in a New York city car was shown live to a party in Chicago. “(Uber) risks a massive downfall if consumers lose trust due to less than ethical tactics.”

Politicians also took a dim view after examining the company’s terms of service. “Your privacy policy suggests that customers’ personal information and usage information, including geotechnical data is maintained indefinitely – indeed even after an account is terminated” Senator Al Franken, the chairman of the subcommittee on privacy, technology, and the law, wrote in a letter to the company last December. “Why?”

In order to defuse the public relations crisis, Uber decided to update its terms of service to explain what kind of data that the company was using.

“We care deeply about the privacy of our riders and drivers,” wrote Katherine Tassi, Uber’s managing counsel of data privacy, in a post on the company website last month. “So today we’re publishing new privacy statements for both riders and drivers. These are half as long as before, with much less legal jargon.”

It was quickly clear that not much had changed. “We receive IP addresses as part of the traffic data that all apps receive,” an Uber spokesperson told Fortune magazine. “We have always disclosed our collection of location information – it is core to our product (we are a location-based service).”

When EPIC activists took a closer look at the new terms of service, they were horrified to discover that Uber was considering an even more invasive approach that would allow it to know the location of users at all times even when they are not looking for rides.

“A company that has a bad reputation for misusing personal information should not be allowed to change its policy so it can gather more data,” Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of EPIC, told the New York Times.”

Uber has not entirely denied EPIC’s charges. “We do not currently collect background location data. We may want to start doing that in order to provide new useful features, such as providing faster loading time when the user opens the app,” Uber spokeswoman Molly Spaeth told Ars Technica, a technology industry website. “If we move forward with this, users will be in control and can choose whether they want to share the data with Uber.”

Rotenberg has a list of suggestions for what Uber should be allowed to do. “First, Uber would be limited in the type of personal information it can collect. Payment information is obvious, as is travel information,” he wrote on the Huffington Post. “Second, Uber would be required to delete passenger information after it was no longer needed. Third, users should be able to access at any time a complete record of all of the information Uber has about them.”

Meanwhile the company continues to face regular charges of exploitation, both by drivers and of drivers.

In India as well as in the United States, Uber drivers have occasionally been accused of assaulting clients, although several cases have been dismissed.

The company has also been accused of under paying drivers. Last week the California labor commissioner’s office ruled that the company should pay a driver for expenses incurred just like it would have to do for employees.

The day after 21-year-old Dylann Roof allegedly gunned down nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., the coverage of the coverage was already piling up, much of it lamenting the apparent pass the media was giving Roof.

Despite the fact that the attack meets the textbook definition of terrorism, critics noted that the press was, by and large, not identifying Roof as a terrorist:

  • “Listen to major outlets, and you won’t hear the word ‘terrorism’ used in coverage of Wednesday’s shooting” (Anthea Butler in the Washington Post);
  • “When US citizens … appear to be ‘normal,’ that is white and/or Christian, terroristic violence is rarely labeled as such, even when the political roots of the killing are clear” (Robert Jensen, quoted in the International Business Times);
  • “#CharlestonShooting terrorist wore an Apartheid flag on his jacket. If a Muslim man wore an ISIS flag, he wouldn’t get past mall security” (Samuel Sinyangwe on Twitter, quoted in the New York Times);
  • “Few media sources use the term [terrorism] for violent actors motivated by, for example, white supremacy or anti-government rage” (Brian Phillips interviewed by the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog);
  • “It leaves us with the question of whether or not there is a disconnect between how black and white people view violence against black bodies” (Terrell Jermaine Starr in AlterNet);
  • “Don’t call this the act of a madman. It is an insult to those battling mental illness and it is also a degree of deference you never saw given to men like Osama Bin Laden” (Shaun King republished in Daily Kos).

Items in this vein have continued to crop up over the ensuing days.

Sahara Reporters‘ clear-eyed first account of the Charleston massacre (6/18/15)

Yet there was at least one news item that ran the day after the shooting that was not afraid to refer to it as a terrorist attack: US State Senator Killed by Terrorist With White Supremacist Sympathies, 8 Others Dead,reads the headline of a news item that appeared on Sahara Reporters, a New York City-based news website that primarily covers government corruption in Africa, with a particular focus on Nigeria.

The Sahara Reporters piece uses the word “terrorist” six times to describe Roof and his alleged action, including in the headline, the subhead and a photo caption. The words “mental illness,” “troubled” and “loner” do not appear — in fact, no speculation whatsoever is made regarding Roof’s mental state or stability. Instead, South Carolina’s “known hate groups” are mentioned to provide context for Roof’s alleged actions, and Roof’s white supremacist activities and the historic allusions made by the patches on his jacket are front and center in the piece. And the massacre is clearly contextualized as occurring at “a time where the persecution of black ethnic minorities in the United States has been making world headlines.”

The piece’s distinctiveness from typical US reports on the attack doesn’t end there. The story’s lead prominently identifies Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and one of the shooting victims, as a South Carolina state senator. While it seems clear at this point that Roof targeted Emanuel AME in part because of its history as a center of black resistance to white supremacy, it is not apparent that Roof was targeting Pinckney personally or because of his office. But one might expect the highly unusual fact of an elected official being killed in a terrorist attack to feature prominently in coverage–as it likely would have, had a white politician been killed by a person of color.

The straighforwardness of the reporting in the Sahara Reporters piece makes it easy to identify what many observers have asserted is missing from the US media’s coverage. Perhaps it’s not surprising to see an outlet that frequently covers Nigeria–which, after all, has some experience with ethnically motivated violence–get it right. Sahara Reporters earned wide notice in 2009 for publishing the first photo of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “underwear bomber” of Northwest Flight 253, and again in 2011 for breaking newsreactions and photos of the car-bombing of a United Nations outpost in Abuja, Nigeria.

Journalists covering stories like Charleston, Ferguson and Baltimore–and other racial flashpoints that will undoubtedly continue to explode–would do well to take notes.

Shane Smith (Twitter@JShaneSmith) is a freelance writer based in Jersey City,  N.J.

WikiLeaks released the first batch of the so-called “Saudi cables” on June 19, 2015. By June 22, a total of 61,214 of the documents were released online. More than half a million of these cables are in the hands of WikiLeaks.

The documents are believed to have been hacked from the Saudi Foreign Ministry in May 2015 by a group calling itself the Yemen Cyber Army as retaliation to the House of Saud’s war against Yemen. The Yemen Cyber Army probably is not Yemeni and almost certainly is an outward show for another actor wishing to either penalize Riyadh or even possibly manipulate it.

In the Arab World there is great interest about the documents. The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akbar has also partnered itself with WikiLeaks to release the so-called Saudi cables, as it has with previous leaks. The Saudi cables, however, do not tell the world and Wikileaks readers anything new about Saudi Arabia.

 

The Buying Influence of Riyadh’s Petro-Dollar

The House of Saud has characteristically tried to buy influence. It wrongly believes that loyalty can be bought. Call them subsidies, grants, bursaries, or business contracts: they are all forms of bribery.

The documents released by WikiLeaks confirm that the House of Saud has used bribery as a major foreign policy tool by financing political figures in other countries—such as the pro-Israeli warlord Samir Geagea in Lebanon—and buying off individuals and organizations to secure its interests. This bribery includes co-opting and recruiting both Arabic and non-Arabic media outlets.

Additionally, the cables confirm that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been spying on its citizens abroad, closely following Saudi university students to see if they want changes in Saudi Arabia, watching dissidents, trying its hardest to handicap Iranian interests, destabilizing Iraq, helping the dictators of Bahrain, and using Saudi-financed media to sanitize its image and deceive Arab audiences. Again, none of this tells us anything new that we did not know about the Kingdom and its decadent rulers.

The House of Saud’s Information War

The documents depict the House of Saud as waging a perpetual and systematic campaign to influence and manage the media as part of a vulgar perception management strategy.  Not only are Saudi-owned media outlets like Al Arabiya and Asharq Al-Awsat part of this, the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information has been central to this policy of “buying influence” using the revenues from Saudi Arabia’s oil sales.

The Saudi cables show that Riyadh’s rulers have used a gradient strategy. The House of Saud’s media strategy starts with co-optation through bribery by what we can call “agents of influence.” Agents of influence can include diplomats, public relations firms, and lawyers. The House of Saud has teams of lawyers, consultants, and public relations firms constantly working for it and monitoring the media and the House of Saud’s public image at all times.

It is the task of the agents of influence to find and contact the media outlets reporting negatively about the House of Saud. In some cases the agents of influence find them and in others Saudi officials in Riyadh order the agents of influence to contact the third parties. The preliminary task of the agents of influence is to “neutralize” the negative reporting about the House of Saud. This is primarily done through bribery. Riyadh has paid for massive subscriptions of Arab newspapers in countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, and Mauritania as a means of inducing the publications to self-censor themselves or to provide positive coverage about the House of Saud.

If bribery does not work then a strategy of “containment” involving slander is applied followed by a strategy of “confrontation” that involves litigation and sabotage.  Both the containment and confrontation strategies of the House of Saud involve falsely planting stories under what is generally categorized as black propaganda. Aside from promoting the image of the House of Saud, co-opted media outlets are important for the strategies of containment and confrontation because they launch attacks on those targeted by the House of Saud. Targets have included Arab activists, Iran, Russia, Hezbollah, the newspaper Al-Akbar, and Syria.

The Obvious versus the Unmentioned

Again, it has to be noted that it widely known that bribery has been an important and central policy tool for the morally bankrupt Saudi princes. It also has to be emphasized that the information about the Saudi media strategy released by WikiLeaks is not a new revelation. These Saudi activities have widely been recognized.

Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia has reacted to the release of the cables by WikiLeaks by warning its citizens to refrain from reading the documents. Riyadh has emphasized that ignoring the documents is a matter of national security.  It has also declared that the documents being released by Wikileaks are doctored fabrications without even providing one example.

What is missing from the Saudi cables that WikiLeaks released heretofore are any documents about the House of Saud’s support for Al-Qaeda and the other armed gangs that are wreaking havoc inside Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. This is important and noteworthy.

The Timing of the Release: Targeting Rapprochement between Moscow and Riyadh?

There are some very important questions to be asked and thought over about the Saudi cables. Are the release of the Saudi cables retaliation for Saudi aggression in Yemen or punishment for efforts by the House of Saud to exert itself independently from Washington? Why is the crisis in Syria and Saudi support for the foreign fighters ravaging Syria largely left out of the leaks? If Saudi involvement in the fighting in Syria was seriously mentioned in the cables released by WikiLeaks it could incriminate other countries, such as the US, Britain, France, and Turkey.

The release of the Saudi cables may hurt Saudi Arabia economically and weaken its media strategy, which will lead to both economic and political instability for the Kingdom as it increasingly fails to control more information about the House of Saud’s actions. Furthermore, the Saudi cables have been released on the eve of important talks and negotiations between Saudi and Russian officials that follow agreements and earlier talks between the Russian Federation and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The bilateral talks are set to consolidate a series of agreements made on cooperation and trade between the Kingdom and the Russian Federation that will help boost the besieged Russian economy that Washington is trying to crash. This is why it is important to think over the origins and motives of the Yemen Cyber Army and ask who is pulling its strings? Is a genuine Saudi adversary behind the Yemen Cyber Army or an unhappy ally that wants to prevent any rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Russia?

One of the documents that is getting increasing focus is an agreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia to vote for one another to join the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Is it a mere coincidence that UN Watch decided to focus on this agreement to criticize Russia and even refers to it as a dictatorship in an article published by Hillel Neuer on June 21,2015? Conversely, UN Watch has remained silent about the multitude of similar agreements made by the US with the House of Saud and other dictatorships. What has UN Watch said about Bahrain or Gaza? Why does it oppose the Venezuelan government? In reality, the goal of UN Watch has been to use the United Nations Human Rights Council to further the interests of the US and Israel while it undermines the body for criticizing Israeli human rights violations. UN Watch even helped legitimize the war on Libya by NATO in 2011 and has pushed for a war with Syria. Now it is targeting Russia.

Although Riyadh could be manipulating Moscow for Washington, joint funds, space cooperation, nuclear agreements, investments, and arms deals all seem  to be in the works. The last time Saudi Arabia made major deals with the Kremlin nothing came out of them, either because the House of Saud was toying with the Russians or due to orders being sent from the US to Riyadh.

The Ridiculous Nature of Saudi Intelligence 

Another point that is worth mentioning is the unprofessional nature of the Saudi intelligence structure. This is not new information either, but it still worth mentioning. Reading the leaked documents it becomes very clear that the Saudi intelligence structure is sloppy, unsophisticated, and badly trained. The analyses made in the Saudi intelligence reports are ridiculous and even rely on both tabloids and unverified internet research from open sources.

A case in point is the Saudi intelligence report that mentions this author. As one of the subjects inside the initial batch of Saudi cables that WikiLeaks released, I took particular interest in looking over the Saudi intelligence memorandum that I was wrongly mentioned in as “Mahdi Nazemroaya Darius.” This particular Saudi intelligence memo relies on internet research to look at the background of myself and several colleagues who have pointed out how Saudi Arabia has supported terrorism and worked with the US and Israel in a destabilization campaign in the Middle East and North Africa.

Probably based on an assumption that I am of Iranian origin based on the name Darius, the memo ambiguously and wrongly speculates that I could “be working for Iran” without giving any context to what that could mean. The description of others are also all vulgar caricatures that  simply refer to them as “anti-American” or “anti-Western.”

Deficit of Critical Thinking in the Information Age 

The type of misanalysis that is exemplified by Saudi intelligence analysts is increasingly endemic of intelligence services and the consultative firms that governments around the world, including in the United States, are increasingly relying on. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that this is actually the second time that I found myself mentioned in a document released by WikiLeaks; the first time was in 2013 when WikiLeaks released a hacked email about the possible whereabouts of Muammar Qaddafi from the Texas-based intelligence consultation company Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor). Stratfor was also off. The Texas-based company mistakenly listed me as an employee of the Associated Press inside Libya during NATO’s bombing campaign while it was discussing the situation in the Rixos Al-Nasr and making arguments based on association fallacies.

In regards to the Saudi intelligence memo, it is clear that no real efforts were made to do proper background checks outside of the internet. It makes one cynically ask if Saudi Arabia’s intelligence structure does much more than police the Kingdom’s local population and if it is the intelligence bodies of the US and other countries, including Britain and Israel, that are doing most the important intelligence work for Riyadh.

Looking over the documents released by WikiLeaks it becomes clear that they confirm what is already known about the House of Saud and that there is a serious problem of analysis in the organizational structures of Saudi Arabia. A lack of critical thinking is not a problem that money and bribery can solve either. With this type of mentality and lack of analytical thinking about the world, it is of little wonder that Riyadh got itself in a quagmire in Yemen. There, however, remain important questions about the motives for the release of the Saudi cables and about the background of the Yemen Cyber Army.

First published by GR in July 2011, this article documents Obama’s Police State Agenda.

During spring’s run-up [2011] to the reauthorization of three expiring provisions of the USA Patriot Act, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) charged that the administration and the FBI was relying on a “secret” interpretation of law to vacuum-up exabytes of data, including cell phone location records and internet data mining that target Americans.

In March [2011], a written statement to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security by Justice Department official Todd Hinnen confirmed that the administration had used Section 215, the so-called “business records” section of the Act “to obtain driver’s license records, hotel records, car rental records, apartment leasing records, credit card records, and the like.”

Further confirmation of Wyden’s charges came from an unlikely source: a White House nominee for a top counterterrorism position.

Last week Wired reported that Matthew Olsen, the administration’s pick to head the National Counterterrorism Center ”acknowledged that ‘some of the pleadings and opinions related to the Patriot Act’ to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that approves snooping warrants ‘are classified’.”

If confirmed, Olsen will replace Michael E. Leiter, the Bushist embed who told the Senate last year during hearings into 2009′s aborted plot to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day: “I will tell you, that when people come to the country and they are on the watch list, it is because we have generally made the choice that we want them here in the country for some reason or another.”

What those reasons are for wanting a terrorist to board a packed airliner were not spelled out to Senate nor were they explored by corporate media. This raises an inevitable question: what else is the administration concealing from the American people?

 White House Stonewall

Back in May, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department “demanding the release of a secret legal memo used to justify FBI access to Americans’ telephone records without any legal process or oversight.”

So far, the administration has refused to release the memos.

According to the civil liberties’ watchdogs, a report last year by the DOJ’s own Inspector General “revealed how the FBI, in defending its past violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), had come up with a new legal argument to justify secret, unchecked access to private telephone records.”

“The Obama administration,” The Washington Post reports, has continued “to resist the efforts of two Democratic senators to learn more about the government’s interpretation of domestic surveillance law, stating that ‘it is not reasonably possible’ to identify the number of Americans whose communications may have been monitored under the statute.”

In a letter to Wyden and Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Kathleen Turner, the director of legislative affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), claimed that a “joint oversight team” has not uncovered evidence “of any intentional or willful attempts to violate or circumvent the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA, which was amended in 2008.”

Turner went on to say that “with respect to FAA” [FISA Amendments Act of 2008, the statute that "legalized" Bushist surveillance programs and handed retroactive immunity to spying telecoms like AT&T], “you [Wyden] asked whether any significant interpretations of the FAA are currently classified. As you are aware, opinions of the FISA Court usually contain extensive discussions of particularly sources, methods and operations and are therefore classified.”

Throwing the onus back on political grifters in the House and Senate, Turner wrote: “Even though not publicly available, by law any opinion containing a significant legal interpretation is provided to the congressional intelligence committees.”

With circular logic Turner claims that because “FISA Court opinions are so closely tied to the facts of the application under review that they cannot be made public in any meaningful form without compromising the sensitive sources and methods at issue.”

At best, her statement is disingenuous. After all, it is precisely that secret interpretation of the law made by the White House Office of Legal Counsel that Wyden and others, including EFF, the Electronic Privacy Information Network (EPIC) and journalists are demanding the administration clarify.

Justice Department Shields NSA’s Private Partners

The FBI isn’t the only agency shielded by the Justice Department under cover of bogus “state secrets” assertions by the Obama administration.

On July 13, EPIC reported that a U.S. District Court Judge issued an opinion in their lawsuit (EPIC v. NSA), “and accepted the NSA’s claim” that it can “neither confirm nor deny” that the agency “had entered into a relationship with Google following the China hacking incident in January 2010.”

The privacy watchdogs sought documents under FOIA “because such an agreement could reveal that the NSA is developing technical standards that would enable greater surveillance of Internet users.”

According to EPIC, the administration’s “Glomar response” to “neither confirm nor deny” a covert relationship amongst giant media corporations such as Google and secret state agencies “is a controversial legal doctrine that allows agencies to conceal the existence of records that might otherwise be subject to public disclosure.”

This issue is hardly irrelevant to internet users. CNET News reported last week that “Google’s Street View cars collected the locations of millions of laptops, cell phones, and other Wi-Fi devices around the world, a practice that raises novel privacy concerns.”

And given the government’s penchant to vacuum-up so-called “transactional data” without benefit of a warrant, would media giants such as Google, high-tech behemoths such as Apple or Microsoft, beholden to the federal government for regulatory perks, resist efforts by the feds demanding they cough-up users’ locational data?

Investigative journalist Declan McCullagh found that the cars “were supposed to collect the locations of Wi-Fi access points. But Google also recorded the street addresses and unique identifiers of computers and other devices using those wireless networks and then made the data publicly available through Google.com until a few weeks ago.”

According to CNET, “the French data protection authority, known as the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) recently contacted CNET and said its investigation confirmed that Street View cars collected these unique hardware IDs. In March, CNIL’s probe resulted in a fine of 100,000 euros, about $143,000.”

On Friday, CNET reported that Microsoft too, is in on the geolocation spy game.

Declan McCullagh wrote that “Microsoft has collected the locations of millions of laptops, cell phones, and other Wi-Fi devices around the world and makes them available on the Web.”

A security researcher confirmed that the “vast database available through Live.com publishes the precise geographical location, which can point to a street address and sometimes even a corner of a building, of Android phones, Apple devices, and other Wi-Fi enabled gadgets.”

Such information in the hands of government snoops would prove invaluable when it comes to waging War On Terror 2.0, the so-called “cyber war.” Which is why the administration is fighting tooth and nail to keep this information from the public.

On the cyber front, EPIC is suing the White House to obtain the top secret National Security Presidential Directive that sets out the “NSA’s cyber security authority,” and is seeking clarification from the agency about so-called internet vulnerability assessments, “the Director’s classified views on how the NSA’s practices impact Internet privacy, and the NSA’s ‘Perfect Citizen’ program.”

As Antifascist Calling previously reported, “Perfect Citizen” is a $100 million privacy-killing program under development by the agency and defense giant Raytheon. Published reports informed us that the program will rely on a suite of sensors deployed in computer networks and that proprietary software will persistently monitor whichever system they are plugged into.

While little has been revealed about how Perfect Citizen will work, it was called by a corporate insider the cyber equivalent of “Big Brother,” according to an email obtained last year by The Wall Street Journal.

 New Report Highlights “Transparency” Fraud

The refusal by the White House to divulge information that impact Americans’ civil liberties and privacy rights, along with their expansion of repressive national security and surveillance programs launched by the Bush regime, underscores the fraudulent nature of Obama’s so-called “transparency administration.”

A new report published by the American Civil Liberties Union, Drastic Measures Required: Congress needs to Overhaul U.S. Secrecy Laws and Increase Oversight of the Secret Security Establishment, documents how “out-of-control secrecy is a serious disease that is hurting American democracy.”

Authors Jay Stanley and former FBI undercover agent turned whistleblower, Michael German, write that “we are now living in an age of government secrecy run amok.”

According to the report, “reality has not always lived up to the rhetoric” of the Obama regime. Since the administration took office, the White House:

• Embraced the Bush administration’s tactic of using overbroad “state secrets” claims to block lawsuits challenging government misconduct.

• Fought a court order to release photos depicting the abuse of detainees held in U.S. custody and supported legislation to exempt these photos from FOIA retroactively. Worse, the legislation gave the Secretary of Defense sweeping authority to withhold any visual images depicting the government’s “treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained” by U.S. forces, no matter how egregious the conduct depicted or how compelling the public’s interest in disclosure.

• Threatened to veto legislation designed to reform congressional notification procedures for covert actions.

• Aggressively pursued whistleblowers who reported waste, fraud and abuse in national security programs with criminal prosecutions to a greater degree than any previous presidential administration.

• Refused to declassify information about how the government uses its authority under section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect information about Americans not relevant to terrorism or espionage investigations. (Mike German and John Stanley, Drastic Measures Required, Washington, D.C., The American Civil Liberties Union, July 2011, pp. 7-8)

Amongst other findings in the report we learn that more than 2.4 million personnel, “official” denizens of the secret state which include the 16 agencies of the so-called “Intelligence Community” and outsourced private contractors hold top secret and above security clearances.

Although the Government Accountability Office (GAO) disclosed that the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2010 “required required the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to calculate and report the aggregate number of security clearances for all government employees and contractors to Congress by February 2011,” as of this writing “the DNI has so far failed to produce this data.”

Last year, The Washington Post’s “Top Secret America” series revealed that “some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States,” and that “the privatization of national security” has been made possible by a “nine-year ‘gusher’ of money.”

The Post’s reporting on America’s security outsourcing mania echoed critical investigations by other journalists, including those by Tim Shorrock, who has reported extensively on intelligence privatization in his essential book Spies For Hire and by James Bamford in The Shadow Factory, which explored how NSA was turned loose on the American people.

In a follow-up piece last December, investigative journalists Dana Priest and William M. Arkin described how “the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.”

“The government’s goal,” Priest and Arkin wrote, “is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States.”

As the Post reported, “technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America.”

This is a pernicious development. As I reported three years ago, one such program were efforts by the Department of Homeland Security, partnering-up with the Pentagon, to train America’s fleet of top secret surveillance satellites on the American people.

That program, since killed by DHS, the National Applications Office, would have provided state and local authorities access to geospatial intelligence gleaned from military spy satellites and would have done so with no congressional oversight or privacy controls in place and would have handed over this sensitive data to selected law enforcement partners.

Local Police Control Ceded to the FBI

Along with intrusive techniques and highly-classified programs, Priest and Arkin wrote that the FBI has built “a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously.”

What constitutes “suspicious behavior” of course, is in the eye of the beholder, and can constitute anything from taking photographs on a public street to organizing and participating in protests against America’s endless wars.

Just recently, the San Francisco Bay Guardian revealed that local cops “assigned to the FBI’s terrorism task force can ignore local police orders and California privacy laws to spy on people without any evidence of a crime.”

Investigative journalist Sarah Phelan discovered that even after a “carefully crafted” set of rules on intelligence gathering had been in place “since police spying scandals of the 1990s,” were “bypassed without the knowledge or consent of the S.F. Police Commission.”

John Crew, a police practices expert with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California told the Bay Guardian that the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding by S.F. cops and the FBI means that “Police Commission policies do not apply” and that it “allows San Francisco police to circumvent local intelligence-gathering policies and follow more permissive federal rules.”

Despite serious concerns over the Bureau’s long-standing practice of spying on political dissidents and its “War On Terror” racial profiling policies, in a follow-up piece the Bay Guardian reported that Police Commission President Thomas Mazzucco, a former federal prosecutor, seemed “more concerned about defending federal practices and officials … than worrying about the role and authority of the civilian oversight body he now represents.”

The ACLU’s Crew noted that when the FBI came to the SFPD with a new MOU, “there was no review by the City Attorney, and no notice to the police commission.”

“Now, we didn’t know about that MOU because it was kept secret at the insistence of the FBI for four years,” Crew told Sarah Phelan. Crew also noted that “when ACLU and ALC [Asian Law Caucus] met with the SFPD in 2010, they were suddenly told that the police department couldn’t talk about these issues without FBI permission.

“That set off a warning sign,” Crew observed, “noting that in early April, when the ACLU and ALC finally got the MOU released, their worst suspicions were confirmed.”

“There was no public discussion of transforming the SFPD into a national intelligence gathering association,” ALC attorney Veena Dubal told the Bay Guardian. “The problem is that the FBI changed the deal, and the SFPD signed it, without telling anyone.”

Neither the Bay Guardian nor the ACLU of Northern California have released the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding. However, the secrecy-shredding web site Public Intelligence has posted a sample MOU that makes for interesting reading indeed.

According to the document, local police agencies who participate in JTTFs will adhere to loose rules covered by the “Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations.” As Antifascist Calling reported last month, those rules will soon be loosened even further by “constitutional scholar” Barack Obama’s Justice Department.

But here’s the kicker; local police participating in JTTFs will be subject to rules crafted in Washington. State and municipal policies which sought to limit out-of-control spying on local activists by notorious police “Red Squads,” are annulled in favor of “guidance on investigative matters handled by the JTTF” that “will be issued by the Attorney General and the FBI.”

Such “guidance” we’re told governs everything from “the Use of Confidential Informants” to “Guidelines Regarding Disclosure to the Director of Central Intelligence and Homeland Security Officials of Foreign Intelligence Acquired in the Course of a Criminal Investigation.”

In other words, police participating in JTTFs become the CIA’s eyes on the ground!

We are informed that “in order to comply with Presidential Directives, the policy and program management of the JTTFs is the responsibility of FBI Headquarters (FBIHQ).” As readers are well aware, more often than not those “Presidential Directives” arrive with built-in poison pills in the form of top secret annexes concealed from the public.

Such questions are not academic exercises.

More than three years ago, author and researcher Peter Dale Scott wrote in CounterPunch that “Congressman Peter DeFazio, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told the House that he and the rest of his Committee had been barred from reviewing parts of National Security Presidential Directive 51, the White House supersecret plans to implement so-called ‘Continuity of Government’ in the event of a mass terror attack or natural disaster.”

“The story,” Scott wrote, “ignored by the mainstream press, involved more than the usual tussle between the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government. What was at stake was a contest between Congress’s constitutional powers of oversight, and a set of policy plans that could be used to suspend or modify the constitution.”

Should something go wrong, the onus for civil or criminal penalties resulting from lawsuits for illegal acts by JTTF officers rests solely with local taxpayers who may have to foot the bill. This is clearly spelled out: “The Participating Agency acknowledges that financial and civil liability, if any and in accordance with applicable law, for the acts and omissions of each employee detailed to the JTTF remains vested with his or her employing agency.”

Got that? You violate someone’s rights and then get caught, well, tough luck chumps.

 Intelligence Spending, No End in Sight

While the administration and their troglodytic Republican allies in Congress are planning massive cuts in social spending as a result of a manufactured “deficit crisis,” the President’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposes a five-year freeze for “all discretionary spending outside of security.”

Indeed, according to the Associated Press, the Defense Department will reap a windfall some $727.4 billion and DHS $44.3 billion. But these numbers only tell part of the story.

Back in March, Secrecy News disclosed that figures provided by ODNI and the Secretary of Defense “document the steady rise of the total U.S. intelligence budget from $63.5 billion in FY2007 up to last year’s total of $80.1 billion.”

Americans are told they face “hard choices” when it comes to America’s fiscal house of cards and that they–and they alone–not the capitalist thieves who destroyed the economy, must shoulder the burden.

But as economist Michael Hudson warned last week in a Global Research article, the American people are “being led to economic slaughter.”

Hudson writes that “whenever one finds government officials and the media repeating an economic error as an incessant mantra, there always is a special interest at work. The financial sector in particular seeks to wrong-foot voters into believing that the economy will be plunged into crisis if Wall Street does not get its way–usually by freeing it from taxes and deregulating it.”

However, when it comes to the secret state and the corporate interests they serve, regulators, in the form of congressional oversight or the public, seeking answers about illegal government programs, need not apply.

After all, as ODNI securocrat Kathleen Turner told the Senate, “the questions you pose … are difficult to answer in an unclassified letter.”

And so it goes…

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Montreal, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano’s Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

Originally published by GR in May 2014

In the dozen plus years since 9/11, the US government has rapidly moved from democracy to fascism. When government acts on behalf of a corporate oligarchy as declared by the Princeton-Northwestern study last month, state fascism is the result. And First Amendment rights in America have been obliterated in this morphing process. 

Obama has declared war on whistleblowers, those individuals who recognize corporate or governmental wrongdoing and are ethical and courageous enough to tell the truth in order to try and stop it. Nobel Peace Prize nominee Chelsea Manning as Private Bradley Manning witnessed US military occupiers committing heinous war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and went public with it on Wikileaks and last year was sentenced to 37 years in prison. Last June Edward Snowden revealed the massive violation and invasion of our privacy rights perpetrated by invisible NSA occupiers in our homes and he was promptly charged with violating the espionage act and forced as a fugitive to live his life in exiled peril.

News journalists daring to accurately show the Obama administration in an unfavorable light are customarily harassed and threatened with litigation. In reality those who are standing up to evil are public heroes yet the government is bent on destroying their lives. The bold young journalist Michael Hastings who wrote unflattering Rolling Stone articles on powerful Generals McChrystal and Petraeus and was gathering evidence of wrongdoing by the FBI, CIA and NSA was more than likely assassinated by remote hacking of his crashed vehicle last June. Clearly just in this last year alone, the US government’s war against truth has been stepped up in sinister reckless abandon.

Under this growing tyranny and oppression comes the loss of American liberty and freedom. Citizens’ right to peacefully assemble and make their views known in public protest have been under systematic and insidious attack by those in power in both Canada and the United States. The Occupy Wall Street movement protesting the mounting inequality and injustice between the 1% haves and the 99% have not’s who were further burdened with bailing out the unscrupulous and corrupt corporate criminals of Wall Street was brutally squashed with police clubs and tear gas. The orders in cities across the nation to brutally suppress the movement from spreading and growing any larger were clearly orchestrated and issued from Washington DC. Obama and corporate America had had enough of the mounting civil unrest and so the militarized police state moved into violent, unlawful action beating, abusing and arresting thousands of peaceful activists attempting to legally express both their rights as well as their increasing disgust with corporatized America.

As if government betrayal, hostility and harassment were not enough travesty of justice, Obama went for overkill ordering his justice department to aggressively pursue hundreds of federal lawsuits filed against protesters for assault and resisting arrest while in actuality they were merely reacting to the police aggressors brutally attacking them.

Of the 2,644 people arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City, Cecily McMillan may be the only demonstrator tried in a court of law and found guilty of felony assault two weeks ago for elbowing a police officer on March 17, 2012. From Rikers Island Prison where she has since been awaiting her sentence, she stated last week, “My lawyer has told me to expect two years.” Today Judge Ronald Zweibel that told the courtroom that “she must take responsibility for her conduct,” announcing that the 25-year old graduate student is sentenced to three months prison time, plus community service and five years probation. Cecily had maintained throughout her ordeal that the policeman grabbed her breast from behind and in a knee jerk reflex, she inadvertently elbowed the officer in the eye.

Though McMillan could have been sentenced to seven years imprisonment, the judge was barraged by media pressure that included a recent visit and show of support from two members of popular Russian girls rock band Pussy Riot that gained worldwide attention serving several months in prison for protesting against Putin’s Russia. An online petition was circulated and submitted as well. But perhaps the letter written by nine of twelve jurors asking that the judge not send Cecily to prison was taken most into consideration.

After the nine jurors found Cecily McMillan guilty of assaulting a police officer over two years ago based primarily on their viewing a grainy youtube video, they felt so remorseful over their verdict and McMillan’s potentially going to prison for seven year that they wrote the judge strongly recommending that Ms. McMillan be placed only on probation. Actual evidence proving Cecily had suffered injury due to police assaulting her was never even permitted inside the courtroom.

The injustice in this case was hardly some isolated fluke. Many firmly believe it is simply a grossly unjust, over-the-top policy and strategy implemented by the Obama regime to set a high profile example demonstrating to the rest of America what happens to citizens brave and principled enough to risk assembling in peaceful protest to assert their no longer recognized rights in police state America. This apparent reality is what our nation has degenerated into under Obama in the face of his and Bush’s systematic assault on all of all US constitutional liberties.

The exact same aggressive federal tactics are recently being utilized for the first time to criminalize protests by environmentalists, charging demonstrators with acts of domestic terrorism. Five months ago in Oklahoma City two college students placed a banner objecting to the local company Devon Energy’s participation in the Keystone XL pipeline project inside its Devon Towers building. In an attempt to raise awareness of the severe detrimental effects to human health that fracking causes on the environment, the two protestors were jailed and charged with a terrorism hoax, an apparent state law felony subject to ten years imprisonment.

Activists Stefan Warner and Moriah Stephenson had used black glitter on their unfurled banner and apparently some of it was falling from their banner draped from the second floor. Falling glitter then became the basis by which the dispatched police accused them of unleashing a toxin used in their “biochemical assault.” Twisted irony would have the polluter-for-profit oil company that has no qualms about poisoning the environment and killing humans conveniently using trumped up, grossly exaggerated false charges that two harmless young protestors acting in the public’s best interest would be using toxins to potentially poison the oil company polluters.

The arrested protesters’ attorney, Doug Parr, who has been practicing law since the 1970’s, stated that he saw this kind of reactionary oppression coming. In his words:

“Based upon the historical work I’ve been involved in, I know that when popular movements that confront the power structure start gaining traction, the government ups the tactics they employ in order to disrupt and take down those movements…” not unlike the Occupy Wall Street movement earlier.

The two activists were working in conjunction with two other protesters also arrested at the site who are members of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance organization. Its website states:
“These industries poison countless communities, often deceive and coerce folks into signing contracts, and when that doesn’t work, they use eminent domain to steal the land. Texas and Oklahoma have long been considered sacrifice zones for the oil and gas industry, and people have for the most part learned to roll over and accept the sicknesses and health issues that come with the temporary and unsustainable boost in employment.”

Last year the environmental group Bold Nebraska obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act indicating that the huge and powerful tar sands giant TransCanada methodically trained the FBI, numerous US police forces and prosecutors on how to effectively charge environmentalist protesters with terrorism.

Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center and legal coordinator for the environmental group the Tar Sands Blockade, explained:

“These documents expose the truth that the government is giving the nod to unlawful corporate spying. By slinging false allegations against peaceful activists in this presentation, TransCanada puts them at risk of unwarranted prosecution.”

This overwhelming evidence proves collusion between the privately owned foreign Canadian corporation and US law enforcement, pushing their agenda to ruin innocent American lives merely standing up against malevolent forces bent on destroying the planet by peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. Once again the real criminals acting as corporatized fascists are systematically demonizing civic-minded individuals and groups acting for the greater good of humanity by declaring war on their dissent and peaceful protest.

Clearly the real environmental terrorists are the North American coal, oil and gas polluters that have been systematically poisoning and killing off life on earth for over a century. But when the governments and corporations merge to become one and the same entity as they clearly have in both Canada and America, it is the agents operating on behalf of corporate governments who are the fascist criminals turning on their own decent law abiding citizens in order to eliminate them and all opposition and resistance to their global theft and destruction.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing.

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Spying on Americans: 64 Drone Bases on US Soil

June 23rd, 2015 by Global Research

Already in 2012,  the Pentagon had established plans for the spread of an unmanned fleet of drones, pointing indelibly to the militarization of law enforcement and the derogation of the Posse Comitatus Act. 

Article first published by GR in September 2012

by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai

We like to think of the drone war as something far away, fought in the deserts of Yemen or the mountains of Afghanistan. But we now know it’s closer than we thought. There are 64 drone bases on American soil. That includes 12 locations housing Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, which can be armed.

Public Intelligence, a non-profit that advocates for free access to information, released a map of military UAV activities in the United States on Tuesday. Assembled from military sources — especially this little-known June 2011 Air Force presentation (.pdf) – it is arguably the most comprehensive map so far of the spread of the Pentagon’s unmanned fleet. What exact missions are performed at those locations, however, is not clear. Some bases might be used as remote cockpits to control the robotic aircraft overseas, some for drone pilot training. Others may also serve as imagery analysis depots.

The medium-size Shadow is used in 22 bases, the smaller Raven in 20 and the miniature Wasp in 11. California and Texas lead the pack, with 10 and six sites, respectively, and there are also 22 planned locations for future bases. ”It is very likely that there are more domestic drone activities not included in the map, but it is designed to provide an approximate overview of the widespread nature of Department of Defense activities throughout the US,” Michael Haynes from Public Intelligence tells Danger Room.

The possibility of military drones (as well as those controlled by police departments and universities) flying over American skies have raised concerns among privacy activists. As the American Civil Liberties Union explained in its December 2011 report, the machines potentially could be used to spy on American citizens. The drones’ presence in our skies “threatens to eradicate existing practical limits on aerial monitoring and allow for pervasive surveillance, police fishing expeditions, and abusive use of these tools in a way that could eventually eliminate the privacy Americans have traditionally enjoyed in their movements and activities.”

As Danger Room reported last month, even military drones, which are prohibited from spying on Americans, may “accidentally” conduct such surveillance — and keep the data for months afterwards while they figure out what to do with it. The material they collect without a warrant, as scholar Steven Aftergood revealed, could then be used to open an investigation.

The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the U.S. military from operating on American soil, and there’s no evidence that drones have violated it so far.

This new map comes almost two months after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) revealed another one, this time of public agencies – including police departments and universities – that have a permit issued by the Federal Aviation Agency to use UAVs in American airspace.

“It goes to show you how entrenched drones already are,” said Trevor Timm, an EFF activist, when asked about the new map. “It’s clear that the drone industry is expanding rapidly and this map is just another example of that. And if people are worried about military technology coming back and being sold in the US, this is just another example how drone technology is probably going to proliferate in the US very soon.”

Domestic proliferation isn’t the same as domestic spying, however. Most — if not all — of these military bases would make poor surveillance centers. Many of the locations are isolated, far from civilian populations. Almost half of the bases on the map work only with the relatively small Raven and Shadow drones; their limited range and endurance make them imperfect spying tools, at best. It’s safe to assume that most of the bases are just used for military training.

Privacy concerns aside, the biggest issue might be safety, as we were been reminded on Monday when a giant Navy drone crashed in Maryland.

Bt corn was originally created, or so Monsanto claims, to eradicate a farming nuisance known as rootworm. But as evidence from a GMO corn lab comes in, we are learning how the pests are living the lives in fields planted with GM Bt corn seed.

In 2011, a cornfield planted in Iowa with Bt corn was found to be completely decimated by rootworm. A study, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes the western corn rootworm’s rapid evolution after dining on the engineered crop.

The study’s lead author, Aaron Gassmann, states that:

“The widespread planting of crops genetically engineered to produce insecticidal toxins derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) places intense selective pressure on pest populations to evolve resistance.

Western corn rootworm is a key pest of maize, and in continuous maize fields it is often managed through planting of Bt maize. During 2009 and 2010, fields were identified in Iowa in which western corn rootworm imposed severe injury to maize producing Bt toxin Cry3Bb1. Subsequent bioassays revealed Cry3Bb1 resistance in these populations.

Here, we report that, during 2011, injury to Bt maize in the field expanded to include mCry3A maize in addition to Cry3Bb1 maize and that laboratory analysis of western corn rootworm from these fields found resistance to Cry3Bb1 and mCry3A and cross-resistance between these toxins.

Resistance to Bt maize has persisted in Iowa, with both the number of Bt fields identified with severe root injury and the ability western corn rootworm populations to survive on Cry3Bb1 maize increasing between 2009 and 2011.”

The authors also found that not only did the rootworm thrive in Bt corn fields, but the pest had the potential to “develop resistance rapidly” when Bt crops don’t produce a high enough level of Bt toxin, and therefore would require farmers to use more pesticides to eradicate the pest.

In short, Bt corn didn’t eradicate the pest it was meant to destroy; it only made it stronger, thereby causing even more pesticide use. Sounds like a perfect biotech creation made in cahoots with companies that sell chemicals for a living – and yet we trust them to make our food?

Additional Sources:

Photo by Joseph Spencer, INHS

News.Illinois.edu

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A “Secular ISIL” Rises In Southeast Asia

June 23rd, 2015 by Andrew Korybko

(Please read Part I before this article)

Clash Of Interests

A triad of Great Power interests intersects in the confined area of the India-Myanmar border, and each actor has differing objectives, motivations, and apprehensions. When one includes Myanmar itself into the foray, a ‘quarrelling quartet’ of contradictory trajectories emerges:

Myanmar:

Internal Balancing

Beginning with the country most adversely affected by domestic and foreign militancy (as well as the subject of the three Great Powers’ intrigues), Naypyidaw is in the midst of a very dangerous internal and external balancing act. On the home front, it’s struggling to manage an extraordinarily sensitive truce between the myriad rebel groups fighting against it. General elections are planned for early November, and Myanmar’s new Western partners will be observantly watching to make sure that it goes according to their subjectively determined expectations, and any internal turmoil prior to the vote could ‘discredit’ it or result in its delay. Both of these scenarios would see the West serve harsh rebukes and thinly veiled economic and political threats to Myanmar, which the country’s authorities are keen to avoid at this moment, thus bringing one to the topic of the international tightrope that it’s currently walking.

External Balancing

Myanmar used to be closely aligned with China during its ‘pariah period’ from 1989-2011, during which the West sanctioned the military-led government for its supposedly ‘undemocratic’ nature and sought to isolate it in all possible ways. This inevitably drove it closer to China, which never harbors any reservations about its potential partners’ domestic policies, and led to the development of extremely fruitful relations between the two. However, Myanmar may have moved too close to China in the sense that it entered into a visibly unbalanced material relationship with it that began to draw the locals’ ire. Citizens in the far-flung and rebel-influenced (and at times, rebel-held) territories became enraged that their material wealth was being exported in exchange for scarcely any compensation, thus generating a simmering social conflict that threatened to erupt into larger, perhaps militant, manifestations.

Especially offensive to many were Beijing’s plans for the Mysitone Dam, which would have flooded an area the size of Singapore in order to send electricity to China. The ‘transitioning government’, which had embarked on the symbolic road to an on-the-surface civilian administration in early 2011(following elections in late-2010), saw the project as a severe vulnerable to stability during a rocky political period, hence it decided to halt it in September 2011. It was around this time that Myanmar also began making overtures to the US, which ultimately resulted in the West easing the sanctions regime that was put into place against the country. Obama made an historic visit in November 2012 that seemed to confirm the mutual acceptance of Myanmar’s pro-Western pivot, but it hasn’t been without its strategic risks, most notably the threat perception that China has experienced as a result of these sudden shifts along its southern border (to say nothing of the internal vulnerabilities, such ashyper-nationalist Buddhist thugs, that became exposed to increased Western manipulation).

myanmarmapwithcitiesIn Limbo

Myanmar is currently in a state of limbo, both internally and externally, and this makes the country particularly unstable. Domestically speaking, the slightest provocation could relight the fuse of civil war, which might quickly spark a larger, all-out conflict. In the midst of its domestic political transition (if even in name only, although it has lifted the citizens’ bar of expectation for their government), Naypyidaw wants everything to proceed smoothly, and tumult in the regions could rapidly ricochet destabilization right back into the center, thereby undermining the situation throughout the entire country. On top of that, Myanmar has positioned itself between both the West and China, with a foot in each camp, and it’s unknown how long it can continue this uneasy balance. On the one hand, it’s sought to lessen its dependency on China, but it still fulfills a critical role for Beijing in providing a non-Malacca route for the latter’soil and gas pipelines. As per the West, investment and de-facto ‘recognition’ have flooded into the country since 2011, but Myanmar’s new ‘partners’ haven’t fully removed their sanctions and are still making domestic demands against the country (notably concerning Aung San Suu Kyi and theRohingyas). If something ‘goes wrong’ in the country’s publicized pro-Western pivot, then the sanctions could realistically be reimposed and the US could actively push for the Myanmar’s dissolution into a plethora of semi-functioning nation states.

The country’s presently precarious position and the colossal consequences at stake make one think that Myanmar may have inadvertently gotten into a situation where it’s no longer fully in control of its future, and that a wide range of state and non-state actors hold the real power instead.

India:

Military Imperatives

The most important strategic task for India is to seek a middle ground between securing the Northeast and managing relations with Myanmar, but this is entirely easier said than done. Part I explored the security threats wracking Northeast India at the moment, and the conglomeration of terrorist groups via the UNFLW umbrella and their sanctuary status in Myanmar has infinitely complicated the situation. New Delhi is faced with the intractable conundrum of figuring how out to achieve its strategic task, and it looks as though it’s found itself in a classic dilemma. Engaging in cross-border military strikes against Myanmar-based terrorists could theoretically eliminate that present threat (if carried out to its fullest extent), but it would initiate a new one by disturbing the delicate equilibrium between the other rebels and the government there, or motivating reprisal attacks within Northeast India itself. At the same time, doing nothing might only embolden the terrorists into striking again, and they could also metamorphasize into a deadlier force if left uninterrupted in Myanmar (just as ISIL grew by exploiting its border safe havens in the Mideast).

Diplomatic Dilemma

Another prime consideration for India is how to preserve positive relations with Myanmar amidst all of this political and military dynamism. Even in the far-off event that the UNLWF and Myanmar’s rebels could both be neutralized and stability somehow restored to the mutual frontier, all of this would be for naught if Naypyidaw is no longer on good terms with New Delhi. For example, uncoordinated strikes on Myanmar’s territory during a protracted anti-militant campaign (whether unilateral or conducted jointly) could create a frightening security dilemma where Naypyidaw loses complete trust in New Delhi’s intentions and re-pivots towards Beijing in response. It’s not entirely unlikely, either, since if Myanmar’s military begins to perceive of India as an aggressive force behaving unilaterally (through go-it-alone strikes) or a destabilizing force that doesn’t respect its limits (engaging in overzealous, uncoordinated military activity that disintegrates Myanmar’s tenuous truce), then it would promptly pivot to China out of self-preservation, feeling that its sovereignty (and just as importantly, the rule of the military government) is critically endangered.

Without Myanmar’s full complicity, the ASEAN highway is doomed, however, there’s the slight possibility (however remote) than the myriad of nation-states that could emerge from the country’s dissolution might cooperate with New Delhi’s designs. But even if that’s their stated intent, the security situation might preclude its construction, and plus, the fact that the road would then have to transit a patchwork of states instead of just one makes it untenable and more easily subject to geopolitical blackmail.

China:

Regional Trade And Strategic Security

BIMSTEC_countries_106449_445More than anything, China endeavors to see Northeast India and Myanmar stable so as to facilitate the South Asian Silk Road via the BCIM trade corridor. Although these states also share in the same goal of regional stability, they may not necessarily be as enthusiastic about the BCIM as they’ve publicly let on. India could just be paying lip service to the idea in order to preserve a diplomatic face of cooperation towards China, while intending to leave Beijing out of the BIM framework. In fact, India is the leader of an alternative, competitive structure called the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Trade and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), which it can energize through the ASEAN highway in order to promote its non-Chinese economic vision in the region. India can’t ever entirely remove Chinese economic influence in Bangladesh, Myanmar, or Thailand, but what it can do is create the conditions for heightened competition with it that could potentially result in relative market setbacks vis-à-vis Indian inroads. India also shares much deeper civilizational bonds with these three states (and even Malaysia and Indonesia) than China does, meaning that it could potentially up the ante in its rivalry to asymmetrical, soft power levels in order to gain an advantage over its chief competitor in the region.

China can never replace the civilizational ties between India and ASEAN, but it can arguably best it on the economic front. In order to preempt India from becoming too strong of an economic rival, China needs to see to it that regional trading trends remain to its advantage, and that the disruptive threat posed by the ASEAN highway is neutralized one way or another. Should that come to be, and India must resultantly rely mostly on its emerging maritime trade network with the region, then China can rest assured that it will remain the most pivotal partner for mainland ASEAN for the indefinite future. As has been demonstrated over the past three decades, China can then transform the trading relationship it has with its partners into an intensified political one, which could tangentially be used to rebuff Indian influence along Beijing’s exposed southern flank and guarantee its strategic security. Thus, the most important Chinese objective vis-à-vis India’s Southeast Asian shift is to see to it that the ASEAN highway is never built.

Legitimate Buffers

Any discussion about China’s strategic security in ASEAN requires a complementary one about its need for legitimate buffers. While these could be asymmetrical in terms of trading arrangements (ergo China’s opposition to the TTIP) or political such as hosting ‘opposition’ leaders (like Aung San Suu Kyi’s big visit to China), this section of the article will only touch upon its geopolitical aspects. In general, China previously viewed Myanmar as constituting the critical component of its mainland ASEAN policy. The country was seen as a friendly neighbor, safe from the reach of Western influence, that could function as a strategic outlet to the open seas. A logical economic corridor could divert material and resource trade away from the potentially American-blockaded Malacca chokehold and therefore ensure a deeper level of Chinese strategic security. However, things didn’t pan out exactly as Beijing had anticipated, and due to the combination of Chinese overreach and Western wooing, Myanmar made the decision to decisively pivot away from its dominating neighbor while still retaining some forms of strategic collaboration with it.

Naypyidaw’s monumental move came as a shock to China, which in no way saw it coming (be it out of miscalculation or hubris), and Beijing has since then struggled to replace the international buffer that it has lost. Understanding that Myanmar’s choice is irreversible for the time being (provided India doesn’t commit a major strategic screw-up), China has come to terms with the fact that the Southeast Asian buffer which formerly blocked conventional Indian influence into ASEAN is long gone. Instead, Beijing has had to reconceptualize its idea of buffers from the state to sub-state level, whereby it now views certain areas within India and Myanmar as potentially fulfilling this role. It’s not to say that China is directly interfering in the domestic affairs of its two neighbors (as it has been accused of havingpreviously done), but that it does have a strategic interest in seeing simmering tension prevent their full rapprochement (which would lead to the construction of the ASEAN highway and all of its negative economic consequences for China). Beijing’s ideal buffer thus extends from all of Northeast India down into the rebel provinces of Myanmar, thus forming a contiguous belt of eclectic ethnicities and religions.

Even with its reconceived buffers, however, China is cognizant of the unprecedented chaos that would erupt if this ‘Balkanized belt’ devolved into full-fledged violence, hence why it has no stake in exacerbating tensions between these entities and their central governments past the point of no return. China doesn’t want to see a chain reaction of actual secessionism along its borders that could endanger its own domestic security, as its only wish is to see low-intensity conflict impede the establishment of the ASEAN highway and strategic partnerships between India and its transit states. As such, China only shows implicit favor for legitimate buffers, meaning those which are not terrorist groups or have any real potential in actualizing their secessionist demands, but it must be noted that India’s definition of a terrorist group may not be shared by China, meaning that covert or diplomatic engagement with certain secessionist organizations in India’s Northeast might not necessarily be off limits for Beijing. In spite of this, China is expected to be against any organization such as the UNLFW that unites separatist-oriented groups, since this strategic convergence increases the chances of their success, and likewise, the probability of uncontrollable chaos along China’s borders (which Beijing in no way wants to see).

US:

burma-aung-suu-kyi-and-obamaWashington has completely schizophrenic interests in this area, since it stands to win if either of the two main scenarios materializes. On the one hand, it intensely wants to see India ‘Act East’ along the ASEAN highway and fortify its BIMSTECS project against China, but on the other, it receives a Brzezinski-esque benefit from any potential ethno-political meltdown in Northeast India and Myanmar. To elaborate, it could weaponize the dissolution process in either of these two areas in order to threaten China and/or punish India (or keep it in unipolar check). Right now, it’s understood that the US is standing on the sidelines and monitoring the situation, intending to covertly intervene as necessary to tilt the course of events along its desired scenario, if need be.

Because it has no solid interests and can fluidly adapt to either circumstance with near-equal strategic benefit, the US is the most dangerous actor in this situation and the one whose reaction must be monitored most closely. In a sense, it holds the controlling influence over how events play out. It could support or discriminate between India and Myanmar’s respective (or even joint) efforts to combat terrorism and separatism, or it could actively encourage separatism in one or both of them. Another possibility is that the US stands idle and lets events develop ‘naturally’ for as long as possible. Either way, the US is the only one of the four actors that has the capability of redirecting events in near-limitless ways while remaining as insulated from their consequences as possible, thereby making it the most important (if geographically indirect) player in this unfolding conflict.

The Play Book

The UNLFW is the ‘perfect spark’ for setting off a larger conflagration, and with India have already attacked its positions in Myanmar (in what may or may not have been an unauthorized strike), it’s worthwhile to forecast the course of events that have been set into motion and analyze their influencing factors. Here’s what needs to be considered:

Variables:

Unilateral Or Complicit Strike?

Did India attack inside Myanmar without informing Naypyidaw in advance (or at all) or did it do so with the full complicity of its authorities, no matter how plausibly they try to deny it? This is the key initial condition that dramatically sets the stage for everything else that follows.

Independent Or Joint Follow-Up Strike?

Will India follow through with its strike or was the earlier operation a ‘one-off’ instance? If it continues pursuing its military objectives, will it do so independently or in conjunction with Myanmar, and how far will it go? And in if India carries out operations on its own, will Myanmar be complicit in them or unaware?

Terrorist/Rebel Response?

How do the Indian terrorists and Myanmar rebels react to the first strike, and perhaps, any more that follow? Will UNLFW activate its Indian-based terrorist network to order more attacks, and could the Myanmar rebels fight back against any Indian and/or Myanmar government incursions in their territory? What impact would it have on the ceasefire?

3 Stages, 3 Scenarios:

Events along the Indian-Myanmar border are expected to follow a step-by-step progression in building up to the next scenario, although of course, any of the three steps/scenarios could potentially occur out of order:

Tremors

India’s strike was an inevitable reaction to bubbling terrorist violence in the Northeast, but due to the latest attack having been the worst such ambush in 20 years, its security establishment felt compelled to do something significantly symbolic. The terrorists and/or Myanmar rebels aren’t baited into an emotional reaction, but instead bide their time and thoroughly plot their response. Tremors are felt, but no one knows when or where the next rumbling will occur (and whether it’ll be initiated by India or the terrorists). A nervous trepidation takes hold of all actors, although the Indian security establishment might have haughtily convinced itself that no prompt response by its adversaries indicates that it has won, in which case its guard will be lowered and the next terrorist attack will once more catch it unaware.

Rumblings

Some type of follow-up strike is commenced, be it by India and/or Myanmar or by the UNLFW and/or the rebels. The regional balance is threatened and a critical situation quickly develops. Global attention and apprehension is shifted to this relatively unknown corner of the world, with many voices raising fear that the violence can spread if it’s not immediately contained. A full-on earthquake has yet to occur, but the earlier trembling has now developed into a loud rumble, and everyone is waiting for what they believe to be an inevitable escalation. All active participants (e.g. India and UNLFW) brace themselves for conflict, while their immediate ‘dependencies’ (e.g. Myanmar and the rebels), if they haven’t already traded a follow-up blow with one another (as the other two opposing sides have done to get to this step/scenario), then they’re certainly preparing to in the event that they get sucked into a wider, forthcoming war.

Earthquake

India and/or Myanmar go on a substantial offensive against the UNLFW and/or rebels (or vice-versa), which opens up a Pandora’s Box of pandemonium. At this point, definitive forecasting is difficult to engage in, although for all intents and purposes, it can be assumed that Myanmar’s unity (already a geopolitical oxymoron of sorts) will be shattered, and that the consequent renewal of large-scale civil warfare in the country would create urgent security challenges for each of its neighbors. India may enter into an unsustainable military operation (much as the Saudis have done in Yemen) in which the only choices are between a bad conclusion and the worst conclusion (per its strategic perspectives). If India finds its mainland path to ASEAN stonewalled, then it’ll likely invest more in maritime capabilities in buffeting the ‘Cotton Route’, which could then enhance its medium-term capability in projecting sizeable influence in the South China Sea (alongside the US, Japan, and Australia). As such, the inadvertent facilitation of this formidable containment threat to China would herald in its own geopolitical earthquake, the aftershocks of which would be immensely destabilizing.

Concluding Thoughts

The Northeast Indian and Myanmar destabilizations have long become interlinked and transnationalized, but it was the creation of the UNLFW, ‘the secular ISIL’, and India’s cross-border attack against them that really brought the unstable nature of this region to the global spotlight. India was compelled to respond to the UNFLW in some form or another after falling victim to the largest ambush in two decades. . India needs the region to be stabilized in order to ‘Act East’ and counter China in ASEAN, but the irony is that it may have unwittingly set into motion uncontrollable chaotic forces in Myanmar that could result in the broader area’s intensified destabilization.

It’s not expected that the conflict potential between all actors will dissipate anytime in the near future – on the contrary, things seem to be just heating up. China has important security interests that are endangered by any violent escalations, but it’s realistically powerless to affect the flow of events and seems primed in being relegated to (proactively) responding to them as they develop. The US, on the other hand, is in the most powerful position vis-à-vis all the other actors, in that it profit from whichever course the conflict takes, be it an Indian-Myanmar success in squashing the terrorists/rebels (and the catapulting of India’s long-term, anti-China influence in ASEAN), or an all-out ‘Eurasian Balkans’ scenario that can chaotically suck in each of its neighbors. It’s unclear at the moment which of the two end-game scenarios is most likely, but it’s evident that New Delhi’s decision to intervene in Myanmar was a monumental one that marks a milestone in the region’s conflict dynamics, no matter how the situation ultimately turns out.

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

BBC Propaganda and War Criminal Tony Blair

June 23rd, 2015 by Dr. David Halpin

The propaganda tricks used by the BBC are legion and powerful.  It starts with its motto – ‘Nation Shall Speak Truth unto Nation’.  One conduit is ‘News Review’ on BBC Radio 4 at 5.30am.  Quick fire propaganda starts with a ”news” round-up, followed by ‘On this Date’, ending with a ‘review of the papers’ – the trash that fills some mind bins in this formerly thoughtful country.  The Sun, shining out of Murdoch’s fundament, is read by over 5 million thinkers.  On This Date (OTD) can be powerful prop.  Imagine a database of many hundreds of events and how they can be selected to stigmatise the Muslim say.

This was heard via OTD last Sunday.  The BBC, or ZBC as many call it, has been promoting Blair for years.  In fact it did so, to order, from early in his ascendancy after the sudden death of John Smith.

The outgoing Labour Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair chaired his final cabinet meeting on the 21st of June 2007.  He received a standing ovation from some of his colleagues, a number of whom paid tribute to his record.

Patricia Hewitt, Mr Blair’s Health Secretary, summed up the mood.  (Her recorded voice came on.)  ‘It was a very emotional occasion, certainly for most of us.  The PM does not do sentimentality at all, so there was quite a lot of humour, there was a lot of humour, a great deal of warmth and a real sense that we we’ve been working as part of a team from Tony Blair and John Prescott all the way through the cabinet and the government.’ ”

Sounds like the school staff room hearing gentle tributes to a much loved teacher of the classics.  His warm wife of 40 years is there to take the flowers, and he the illuminated book in honour of the life long inspiration given to those many youngsters.  But no, the centre for these incestuous tributes from around the long table were for a paramount psychopath and war criminal. (2)  The sickly ‘standing ovation’ and all the rest was par.

A cabal of psychopaths behaves exactly like this, massaging the ego of the capo di tutti capi, submerging the many crimes in alcohol and perpetual lies.  ‘Buff’ Hoon was probably in the room.  He had threatened the use of nuclear weapons on Iraq if a disarmed Saddam had used WMD on the invaders.  As it was, none remained, and British soldiers quickly discarded their chemical weapon suits to save themselves from heat stroke.  My Lord Falconer was there.  He had successfully stifled a proper inquiry into the likely assassination of Dr David Kelly, our leading biological and chemical weapons expert.  So was ‘Jack’ Straw.  He was central in firing the starting gun for the annihilation of Iraq and its people as per Oded Yinon.  The political thug, John Reid, was probably ensuring the ovation was of the standing type.

Blair went on to use his ‘smile’, his slippery gibberish and his most devious personality as envoy to the Quartet, ostensibly searching for peace in Palestine and more widely.  He had good lodgings at the American Colony Hotel in what remains of Palestinian East Jerusalem.  He had several Israelis at senior positions in his office.  Many Palestinians were killed, maimed, imprisoned and tortured under his useless, partisan watch.  Here is one of thousands from the last ‘mowing of the lawn’, Operation Protective Edge (3), that took place some 50 miles from Mt Zion.  And he found other cover such as the Faith Foundation whilst he gathered £60 million pounds it is said.

A dark has fallen over the world.  The most evil creatures from the dark side of a dark planet seized power in many capitals many decades ago.  The belief that ‘no mother and child should be in the least harmed anywhere in our still beautiful world’ is not within one cell of them.

‘Ovation, humour!,warmth, part of a team’.  Just wait Anthony Charles Lynton Blair and the many hundred psychopaths you led into the bombardment and invasion of smaller nations, against laws the UK had been party to.  The world’s people are rising up at last.  The UN will cease being an apologist for the US/UK/Israel axis and law will be enforced.  After indictment and trial, followed by certain guilty verdicts, we have a place where humour and warmth will be more than sparse.  A cold concrete prison has been built in Tierra Del Fuego.  Loudspeakers in the ceilings will relay a continuous recording of weeping, wounded children.  And you will be up sharp at 5am for services held in the Judaeo-Christian traditions but dominated by ‘Christian’ Zionists.  You know them Tony.

Anti-Muslim and often inciting war from behind, whilst ‘O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that ..’ does the bidding.

We are sorry.  No ovations will be allowed.  We know this pool of sharks will not get on and only the strongest and wiliest will survive unto natural death.

Footnote.  The following and last item on OTD was the birth of Prince William at St Mary’s Hospital on the 21st of June 1982 to Princess Diana.  This is another little trick.  Add something warm that pulls the heart strings in order to soften, or change the complexion, of a preceding item.  The snag here is that it would have reminded the alert listener of the likely murder of William’s mother.

Notes:

1) http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/7-articles/political/46-the-blair-broadcasting-corporation

2) http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/7-articles/political/63-the-paramount-war-criminal-tony-blair