You Have Now Landed in Geneva, Syria

February 1st, 2016 by Pepe Escobar

The alleged Syrian peace process now enters its Geneva charade stage. This could last months; get ready for lavish doses of posturing and bluster capable of stunning even Donald Trump.

The notion that Geneva may be able to impersonate Damascus in a suit-and-tie pantomime is ludicrous to begin with. Even the UN envoy, the sartorially superb Staffan de Mistura, admits the Sisyphean task ahead – even if all relevant players were at the table.

Then we have Syrian “opposition figure” George Sabra announcing that no delegation from the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee will be at the table in Geneva. As if Syrians needed an “opposition” instrumentalized by Saudi Arabia.

U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura © Denis Balibouse

U.N. mediator for Syria Staffan de Mistura © Denis Balibouse / Reuters

So in the interest of providing context, here’s an extremely concise recap of recent, crucial facts on the Syrian ground which the “new capital” Geneva may ignore at its own peril.

Let’s start with last summer, when Iranian Quds Force superstar commander Qasem Soleimani laid down the law, in person, in Moscow, establishing without a doubt the grim situation across the Syrian theater of war.

Essentially Soleimani told the Kremlin and Russian intelligence that Aleppo might be about to fall; that Jabhat al-Nusra was at the doors of southern Damascus; that Idlib had fallen; and Latakia – home to Russia’s naval base at Tartus – would be next.

One can imagine the effect of this jolt of realpolitik on President Putin’s mind. That clinched his resolution to stop the fall of Syria, and prevent it from becoming a Libyan remix.

The Russian Air Force campaign turned out to be the ultimate game-changer. It is in the process of securing the Damascus-Homs-Latakia-Hama-Aleppo network – the urban, developed Western Syria that holds 70 percent of the country’s population. ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and/or Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, have zero chances of taking over this territory. The rest is mostly desert.

Jaysh al-Islam – a motley crew weaponized by Saudi Arabia – still holds a few positions north of Damascus. That’s containable. The country bumpkins in Daraa province, south of Damascus, could only make a push towards the capital in an impossible 1991 Desert Storm context.

“Moderate rebels” – that Beltway concoction – did try to hold Homs and Al-Qusayr, cutting off the resupply of Damascus. They were repelled. As for the gaggle of “moderate rebels” who took all of Idlib province, they are being pounded mercilessly for four months now by the Russian Air Force. Aleppo’s southern front is also being secured.

Don’t bomb “our” rebels

It’s easy to pinpoint who’s livid with all the Russian action: Saudi Arabia, Turkey and – last but not least – the ‘Empire of Chaos’, all at the table in Geneva.

Jabhat al-Nusra – remote-controlled by Ayman al-Zawahiri – is intimately linked to a gaggle of Salafi-jihadists in the Saudi-sponsored Army of Conquest, as well as tactically allied with myriad outfits nominally grouped in the nearly extinct Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The CIA, using the Saudis for plausible deniability, fully weaponized “vetted” FSA outfits, which received, among other things, TOW anti-tank missiles. Guess who “intercepted” virtually all the weapons: Jabhat al-Nusra.

The follow-up was nothing short of hilarious: Washington, Ankara and Riyadh furiously denouncing Moscow for bombing their “moderate rebels” and not ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Slowly but surely, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), parallel to the Russian offensive, retook the initiative. The “4+1” – Russia, Syria, Iran (Special Forces, many of them from Afghanistan), Iraq, plus Hezbollah – started coordinating their efforts. Latakia Province – which hosts not only Tartus but the Khmeimim Russian airbase – is now under total control by Damascus.

And that brings us to Ankara’s nightmares. Russian Air Force smashed most of Ankara’s Turkmen proxies – heavily infiltrated by Turkish fascists – in northwest Syria. That was the key reason for Sultan Erdogan’s desperate move of shooting down the Su-24.

It’s by now clear that the winners, as it stands, on the ground, are the “4+1”, and the losers are Saudi Arabia and Turkey. So no wonder the Saudis want at least some of their proxies at the negotiating table in Geneva, while Turkey tries to change the subject by barring the Syrian Kurds: these are accused of being terrorists, much more than ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

  Exit Geneva, enter Jarabulus

As if this was not messy enough, US ‘Think Tankland’ is now spinning there is an “understanding” between Washington and Ankara for what will be, for all practical purposes, a Turkish invasion of northern Syria, under the pretext of Ankara smashing ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in northern Aleppo.

This is utter nonsense. Ankara’s game is three-pronged; prop up their heavily battered Turkmen proxies; keep very much alive the corridor to Aleppo – a corridor that crucially includes the Jihadi Highway between Turkey and Syria; and most of all prevent by all means necessary that YPG Kurds bridge the gap from Afrin to Kobani and unite all three Syrian Kurd cantons near the Turkish border.

None of this has anything to do with fighting ISISL/ISIL/Daesh. And the nuttiest part is that Washington is actually assisting the Syrian Kurds with air support. Either the Pentagon supports the Syrian Kurds or Erdogan’s invasion of northern Syria; schizophrenia does not apply here.

A desperate Erdogan may be foolish enough to confront the Russian Air Force during his purported “invasion”. Putin is on the record saying response to any provocation will be immediate, and lethal. To top it off, the Russians and Americans are actually coordinating airspace action in northern Syria.

This is bound to be the next big thing, fully eclipsing the Geneva pantomime. The YPG and its allies are planning a major attack to finally seize the 100-kilometer stretch of the Syria-Turkey border still controlled by ISIS/ISIL/Daesh – thus reuniting their three cantons.

Erdogan was blunt; if the YPG pushes west of the Euphrates, it’s war. Well, looks like war then. The YPG is getting ready to attack the crucial towns of Jarabulus and Manbij. Russia most certainly will aid the YPG to reconquer Jarabulus. And that will directly pit – once again – Turkey against Russia on the ground.

Geneva? That’s for tourists; the capital of the Syrian horror show is now Jarabulus.

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he’s been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of “Globalistan” (2007), “Red Zone Blues” (2007), “Obama does Globalistan” (2009) and “Empire of Chaos” (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is “2030″, also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.

Conflicting Reports on Farcical Syrian Peace Talks

February 1st, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

Holding them is a waste of time. Abandoning them makes more sense. Negotiating with terrorists won’t succeed. Diplomacy is doomed to fail.

Instead the US/Saudi/UN-orchestrated charade continues, conflicting reports on whether opposition groups comprised of terrorists intend showing up muddy things further.

Syria’s UN envoy/chief government negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari correctly said “any political solution to the (ongoing) crisis…can’t be achieved without the presence of a serious party to the dialogue process.”

He justifiably accused opposition terrorist groups of “lack(ing) seriousness and responsibility,” intending to undermine talks before they begin.

“We have proved our good intentions and the government’s positive attitude towards any international UN effort to find a solution, but the problem has always been with the other party,” he explained.

He spoke forthrightly and honestly, what’s sorely lacking in Geneva under the best of conditions.

On January 31, two days after talks were scheduled to begin, he said “(n)o one…knows who the other party is, and there hasn’t been a final list of participants so far,” likely to change any time after talks begin.

“When the Security Council resolution (2254) states that the broadest possible spectrum of the position be brought together by the Syrians themselves, and this resolution is being violated, then it means that there are some who want to impose a fait accompli by selectivity and double standards,” assuring failure, not success.

Jaafari justifiably blamed Washington and Riyadh without naming them – because they’re “not neutral.” Spokesman for the US-Saudi-backed terrorist groups, Salem al-Mouslad, said his side is ready to start talks without preconditions, after earlier stressing the opposite – imposing demands impossible for Syria and Russia to accept.

Syrian Judas Riyad Hijab is coordinator for the Saudi-formed High Negotiations Committee (HNC), comprised entirely of anti-Assad terrorists, cutthroat killers responsible for gruesome atrocities, wanting him removed, all Shias and Alawites genocidally eliminated.

He issued a statement, saying “(i)f (Damascus insists on continuing to commit these crimes (code language for responsible self-defense against invading terrorists), then the HNC delegation’s presence in Geneva will not be justified.”

“The delegation will inform (UN envoy/anti-Syrian/pro-Western moderator Staffan) de Mistura (of) its intentions to withdraw its negotiating team if the UN and world powers” don’t enforce its demands.

It’s unclear what’s coming next. Involvement of terrorists in talks assures failure, a combination of tragedy and farce. Syria’s conflict will be resolved militarily or not at all.

Russia’s formidable air power allied with government ground forces continuing to batter ISIS and other terrorist groups is the only effective way to weaken and eliminate them to a shadow of their current strength.

Relying on Geneva talks to resolve things assures failure, endless conflict, Washington’s objective. Peace and stability defeat its agenda – what Western media never explain.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

 

Western Media Ignores Putin’s Progress in Syria

February 1st, 2016 by Mike Whitney

The UN-sponsored Syrian peace talks, which began on Friday in Geneva, will be boycotted by the main Syrian opposition group which has insisted that Russia stop bombing its positions while negotiations are conducted. To appreciate how ridiculous these demands are, one would have to imagine a similar scenario taking place in the United States. Let’s say, for example, that Ammon Bundy, the crackpot leader of the armed militia that seized the federal wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon, demanded that the FBI and all other federal agents vamoose while the UN convened negotiations between his representatives and the Obama administration for the establishment of a transitional government that would remove Obama from power after 18 months while rewriting the constitution so it better reflected the far-right political and religious convictions of Bundy and his gaggle of ne’er-do-well followers.

Does that seem like a reasonable proposition to you?

This is the context in which the current “talks” are being held. Is it any wonder why Moscow doesn’t take this charade seriously? It’s a joke.

In what other country are armed militias allowed to occupy cities, kill civilians, destroy critical infrastructure, create total mayhem and threaten to overthrow the elected government?

None. And yet, the Obama team thinks this is a perfectly acceptable way for citizens and even non citizens (most of the ‘rebels’ are foreign nationals or jihadis) to act, provided their political objectives coincide with those of Washington. Which they do. From the very beginning, Washington’s sole aim has been to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad so the oil fields and pipeline corridors could be secured by the western oil giants and protected by new US military bases sprinkled across the country. This has been the basic gameplan since Day 1, and this is why Obama and Co are so eager to slow the Russian-led offensive by any means possible even if it means engaging in meaningless negotiations that have no other purpose than to implement a ceasefire so these same US-backed terrorists can regroup and fight at some future date when they are better prepared.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sees through this ruse but–all the same–he’s dispatched diplomats to Geneva to play along and go-through-the-motions. But will he cave in and agree to a ceasefire so Obama’s “rebels” can live to fight another day? Don’t bet on it.

What Americans are not reading in the western media is that, after months of slow but steady progress, the Russian-led coalition (Syrian Arab Army, Iranian Quds Forces, and Hezbollah) has broken through the sluicegate and is advancing on all fronts while enemy positions are crumbling. Key cities and towns in Latakia province along the Turkish border that used to be jihadi strongholds have buckled under Russia’s relentless bombing raids and been liberated by the Syrian Army. Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city to the north, has been surrounded by loyalist forces that have cut off supplylines to Turkey leaving fighters from Salafi groups like Ahrar al Sham, Jabhat al Nusra, Jaish al Islam, ISIS and the other al Qaida-linked groups to either surrender or hunker down while they await the final desperate confrontation. The momentum has shifted in favor of Assad’s forces which now clearly have the upper hand. What the western media characterizes as a “quagmire” has all the makings of a stunning victory for the Russian-led coalition that is gradually reestablishing security across Syria while sending the invaders running for cover. This is from Reuters:

Three months into his military intervention in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has achieved his central goal of stabilizing the Assad government and, with the costs relatively low, could sustain military operations at this level for years, U.S. officials and military analysts say.

That assessment comes despite public assertions by President Barack Obama and top aides that Putin has embarked on an ill-conceived mission in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that it will struggle to afford and that will likely fail…

since its campaign began on Sept. 30, Russia has suffered minimal casualties and, despite domestic fiscal woes, is handily covering the operation’s cost, which analysts estimate at $1-2 billion a year. The war is being funded from Russia’s regular annual defense budget of about $54 billion, a U.S. intelligence official said…

QUAGMIRE?

An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work,” (President) Obama said on Oct. 2. On Dec. 1, he raised the prospect of Russia becoming “bogged down in an inconclusive and paralyzing civil conflict.

The senior administration official denied any contradiction between Obama’s statements and private assessments that Russia’s campaign has been relatively effective so far.

I think the president’s point has been…it’s not going to succeed in the long run,” the official said. The Russians “have become bound up in a civil war in a way that’s going to be extremely difficult to extricate themselves from.….

Vasily Kashin, a Moscow-based analyst, said the war is not financially stressing Russia.

All the available data shows us that the current level of military effort is completely insignificant for the Russian economy and Russian budget,” said Kashin, of the Center for Analyses of Strategies and Technologies. “It can be carried on at the same level year after year after year,” he said.
(U.S. sees bearable costs, key goals met for Russia in Syria so far, Reuters)

Americans are so conditioned to believe that every military intervention ends in a quagmire that they are surprised when the outcome is different. That’s understandable given the fact that the so called “best military on earth” has been unable to defeat a ragtag collection of goat-herding fundamentalists for more than 15 years. (Afghanistan) No wonder Americans expect failure. The fact is, however, that Putin has no intention of getting “bogged down” in Syria for a decade or two.. What he plans to do is to defeat the enemy and move on. Recent reports from the frontlines suggest that that is precisely what he is doing. This is from a post at Sic Semper Tyrannis:

“The Fall of Salma”

Things had started to move early last week, when the SAA (Syrian Arab Army), NDF (National Defense Force) and local militias moved into Salma, the rebel stronghold that was key to defensive positions South of the M4 highway linking Latakia to Idlib. After weeks of preparations and softening up defences, R+6 finally moved in and there was not much the various rebel groups could have done at that point to stop or reverse this trend…

… Once the strategic breaking point is reached though, the side having gained the upper hand usually pushes through, which results in the opponent’s posture crumbling under the pressure. This is what happened with Salma, a former mountain resort North-East of Latakia… When R+6 went for their final assault, Salma had already become untenable. Its loss meant that the whole defensive line South of the M4 highway was compromised and both SAA advances and “tactical” retreat by the rebels made for a very quick correction of the frontline in the area…

The inroads made by the SAA… again proved decisive against a rebel frontline that had already been destabilized by the loss of Salma and the prospect of being cut off from their LOCs with Jisr al-Shughur.” (Rebel Defences Crumbling In Latakia Province, Sic Semper Tyrannis)

Get the picture? The jihadi misfits are getting the holy hell beat out of them by a superior army that is recapturing critical cities and strategic territory along the Turkish border and across the southern and eastern parts of the country. As a result, Assad will not be removed from office nor will the country become a “Salafi-jihadi principality” governed by Islamic freaks who rule through terror.

That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of potential pitfalls ahead. There are, in fact there’s a situation developing right now that could explode into a regional conflict involving Turkey, NATO, the US and Russia. You see, Russia plans to use its Kurdish allies in the YPG to seize a stretch of land along the Syrian side of the Turkish border to reestablish Syria’s territorial sovereignty and to stop the flow of terrorists from Turkey into Syria. Turkish President Erdogan has promised that if the YPG pursues that course, Turkey will invade, in which case, Putin will come to the defense of the Kurds. There’s no telling how this powderkeg situation will play out, but there’s no doubt that the next few weeks are going to be extremely tense as the main players rattle sabers and jockey for position while edging closer to a full-blown conflagration. Will cooler heads prevail?

I can’t answer that, but I can tell you that Washington has already backed off its “Assad must go” campaign and moved on to Plan B, which is seizing territory and establishing bases in Northeastern Syria that the US plans to occupy for as long as they can. Check it out from South Front website:

As SouthFront: Analysis and Intelligence predicted month ago the NATO allies are urgently trying to implement a new plan to hold control at least of the northern oil corridor from Iraq and try to take advantage of this opportunity to involve Russia in a long expensive war. This plan includes an occupation of the crucial infrastructure including oilfields by the NATO contingent and establishing of anti-government, meaning anti-Russian and anti-Iranian, forces in parts of divided Syria.

Implementing of this plan could easily lead to a global war launched by military escalation over the Syrian crisis. The stakes of the global geopolitical standoff have been raised again. (Escalation in Syria, South Front)

So even though Washington has scrapped its plan to topple Assad (temporarily), it has deepened its commitment to creating Sunnistan, a new state comprised of eastern Syria and western Iraq controlled by US-clients who will allow western oil giants to connect the pipeline grid from Qatar to Turkey in order to replace Russia as the EU’s primary supplier of natural gas. It’s all part of the imperial strategy to “pivot” to Asia by controlling vital resources and making sure they remain denominated in US dollars. It’s an ambitious plan for global rule that is now being openly challenged by Russia, the emerging power that threatens to derail the lethal US juggernaut and put an end to the malign unipolar world order.

Historic Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners

February 1st, 2016 by Lesley Docksey

The PM is right to draw a line in the sand, to protect the freedom with which the military has to operate…

— General Lord Dannatt, ex-Chief of Staff

Prime Minister David Cameron is getting himself all wound up about the nasty slurs on ‘our brave boys’; ‘our brave servicemen and women who fought in Iraq’; ‘the people who risk their lives to keep our country safe’; the veterans of Britain’s illegal invasion of Iraq.  Of course, they must ‘act within the law’ etc…  Except they didn’t.

The said ‘brave servicemen’ are in danger of being taken to court over their abusive treatment, and in some cases murder, of Iraqi detainees during the invasion of Iraq.  Hundreds of complaints have been lodged with the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) which was investigating between 1300-1500 cases.  Many are simple complaints of ill treatment during detention, but some are far more serious:

  • Death(s) while detained by the British Army
  • Deaths outside British Army base or after contact with British Army
  • Many deaths following ‘shooting incidents’

According to Cameron, ‘Our armed forces are rightly held to the highest standards…’  One wonders what standards he’s thinking of, seeing that it has been proved more than once that the UK military has not complied with international humanitarian law.  Britain has a long and ignoble history of practicing torture, as documented by Ian Cobhain in his book Cruel Britannia.

Curiously, or perhaps not, just two days after Cameron launched his assault, IHAT announced it was dropping no less than 58 inquiries into unlawful killings by army veterans.  And while so many rushed to the defence of the soldiers accused of abuse, absolutely no one has mentioned another example of the culture of violence within the armed forces which resurfaced just a few days earlier: the ‘notorious’ Deepcut Barracks.

The two law firms pursuing the claims on behalf of Iraqis and their families, Public Interest Lawyers, and Leigh Day, have been labelled ‘ambulance chasers’ and ‘tank chasers’ by much of the loud, right-wing media.  Other insults include ‘money-grubbing or grabbing lawyers’.  Naturally, goes the refrain, they want to get as many cases into court as possible so they can make a fortune in lawyers’ fees.  It’s what you do if you’re defending humanitarian law.

One of the law firms involved, Leigh Day, is now the subject of an intended action by the government, who want to sue it for failing to supply documents to the al-Sweady inquiry, documents which ‘proved that alleged innocent victims (of abuse by UK armed forces) were actually enemy insurgents.’

But Cameron, like other occupants of Number 10, refuses to acknowledge that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was illegal.  And as UK armed forces were in Iraq illegally, any Iraqis who fought them were not ‘enemy’ insurgents, but citizens legally resisting the invaders of their country.  Thus, ‘enemy insurgents’ could be, and in this case were, also innocent victims of illegal treatment, treatment that did not comply with international law.

International law covering ‘enemy’ soldiers (in uniform) or insurgents (in any old clothing) ensures proper, humane treatment of any prisoners.  No beating, no slapping about,  no prevention of sleep by using loud noise, no withholding of food or water, no forced stress positions, no sandbags over their heads, no deliberate extremes of temperature, all techniques which British soldiers were witnessed employing.

Even worse, despite these practices having been banned more than once by Parliament, they were, as evidence at the Baha Mousa inquiry demonstrated, being taught to soldiers and encouraged to use them in Iraq by the Ministry of Defence. Only one soldier ended up with any kind of a sentence after the killing of Baha Mousa (Corporal Donald Payne, one year in prison and dismissal from the Army), but when the inquiry into Mousa’s death was held the evidence that came out was utterly damning.

General Lord Dannatt, once Chief of Staff, is one of those backing Cameron’s stance.  Appearing on the BBC’s Today programme on January 22, he defended the high standards of our wonderful army, and spoke of the greed of “lawyers with less integrity than others”.  Of course, British forces should “act within the law”, he said, but many of these claims are “spurious and cannot be substantiated”.  Not, of course, until they have been tested in court, a point that seems to have escaped the noble lord.

One lawyer with real integrity defending the legal action being taken on behalf of abused Iraqis is Lt Colonel Nick Mercer who, at the time of the invasion, was the Army’s chief legal officer in Iraq.  He was out in Basra, he saw the abuse, he complained to his superiors and he gave strong and disturbing evidence to the Baha Mousa Inquiry. As he said, “It was my job to protect British commanders and make sure they kept to the right side of the law.”  But the MoD was ‘resistant to human rights’.

The MoD’s view was that the government position prevailed over Mercer’s interpretation of international law.  In 2009 the Supreme Court ruled that the advice he had tried to give the MoD in 2003 was correct.  But it was not until 2010 that UK military intelligence interrogators were trained in international law and human rights.  Whether that has made any real difference to their standards of practice is as yet unknown.  In 2011 the MoD was hit by more claims of mistreatment, when Iraqi victims won the right to an inquiry in the Court of Appeal.

Again and again the MoD had tried to gag Mercer, threatening to report him to the Law Society, and in 2007 he was suspended for conducting a case in Cyprus in a way that disagreed with MoD views.  He has now left the Army and is an Anglican priest, his principles and defence of the law as strong as ever.  He has come out fighting in defence of Leigh Day and Public Interest Lawyers, saying it was beyond doubt that British soldiers tortured Iraqi prisoners.

He emphasises that he and others raised their concerns at the time the mistreatment of prisoners was going on; that the International Committee of the Red Cross had raised their concerns with the government; that the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights has also raised its concerns – with the International Criminal Court.  This is not just about ‘money-grabbing lawyers’ against the rest of the nation.  There are too many others who were and are concerned about the abuse that have no financial motives, says Mercer, and it was wrong to try and polarise the debate in this way.

He points to the fact that the MoD has already paid out £20 million in compensation for 326 cases.  “Anyone who has fought the MoD knows they don’t pay out for nothing, so there are 326 substantiated claims with almost no criminal proceedings to accompany that.  And you have to ask why.”

Lord Dannatt said that only 3 of all these cases have been proven – another point he seems to have missed: that the MoD paying compensation prevented the cases coming to court.  Dannatt’s version of this is that the MoD “opted on the side of generosity rather than try to fight these cases in court”.

Cameron says these allegations of abuse are ‘spurious legal claims’ that must be stopped, ‘spurious’ being a word that is now used by all those on the MoD’s side.  Cameron is a master of spurious claims.  He produces one or two almost every week in Parliament, during Prime Minister’s Questions.  A recent example, which earned him a great deal of ‘non-credibility’, came during the parliamentary debate on whether the UK should bomb Syria.

He said that there were 70,000 moderate fighters in Syria – a claim that the MoD reportedly asked to have removed from his statement.  His ministers are masters of the spurious as well, constantly being corrected for their statements that the government has done this or that, given extra funding for this or that, when, for instance, the ‘extra funding’ turns out to be less than the amount they cut a Ministry’s budget the year before.

But Britain has to face the fact that not only do we have a spurious* government, but that ‘our brave soldiers’ have consistently broken both UK and international law, have been encouraged to do so by their masters and that the government will fight tooth and nail to prevent them being taken to court.  For the sake of all of those abused, here and abroad, it is time there was a full and independent inquiry into the MoD’s non-compliance with international humanitarian law.

Today’s digital edition of The New York Times captures the essence of the cancer eating away at our democracy: a leading newspaper is endorsing a deeply tarnished candidate for the highest office in America while a major Wall Street bank that has played a key role in her conflicted candidacy runs a banner ad as if to salute the endorsement. The slogan on Citigroup’s ad, “cash back once just isn’t enough,” perfectly epitomizes the frequency with which the Clintons have gone to the Citigroup well.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, among the top five largest lifetime donors to Hillary’s campaigns, Citigroup tops the list, with three other Wall Street banks also making the cut: Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. (The monies come from employees and/or family members or PACs of the firms, not the corporation itself.)

The New York Times Endorses Hillary Clinton with a Banner Ad from Citigrorup

Hillary Clinton famously told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in 2014 that she and Bill Clinton left the White House after his second term “dead broke.” But apparently, Citigroup felt they were a good investment. According to PolitiFact, Citigroup provided a $1.995 million mortgage to allow the Clintons to buy their Washington, D.C. residence in 2000. That liability does not pop up on the Clinton disclosure documents until 2011, showing a 30-year mortgage at 5.375 percent ranging in face amount from $1 million to $5 million from CitiMortgage. The disclosure says the mortgage was taken out in 2001.

Citigroup has also committed $5.5 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, a charity run by the Clintons. It has also paid enormous speaking fees to Bill Clinton.

What has Citigroup gotten from its outsized support of the Clintons? Bill Clinton is the President who repealed the most important investor protection legislation of the past century, the Glass-Steagall Act, an outcome heavily lobbied for by Citigroup. Hillary Clinton has signaled to Wall Street that she will not push to have the Glass-Steagall Act restored while her leading opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, vows to restore it and return sanity to America’s financial system.

Just nine years after Bill Clinton signed this massive deregulation of Wall Street and gave Citigroup’s Sandy Weill a souvenir pen from the signing, the U.S. financial system collapsed in the greatest implosion since the Great Depression.  Two years before the collapse, Sandy Weill had exited Wall Street as a billionaire as a result of this deregulation, while Citigroup became a penny stock in the crash and a ward of the government in the greatest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history.

Read article

Netanyahu‘There is no excuse for terrorism’ Netanyahu tells the UN

By Anthony Bellchambers, January 27 2016

In response to world condemnation of his decision to authorise yet more illegal houses for Israelis on Palestinian land, Netanyahu strikes out against the severe criticism by the UN Secretary General.

1-Netanyahu-NaziUN Security Council to Consider defining all Israeli Settlements in Occupied Territories as Illegal

By Anthony Bellchambers, January 29 2016

Binyamin Netanyahu is the leader of Likud: the successor to the Irgun Zvai Leumi movement that consisted of political militants who carried out the first major terrorist bombing in the Middle East in which 92 innocent people were murdered.

Laurent-FabiusFrance Ready to Recognise a Palestinian State as Israel Refuses Co-Operation

By Anthony Bellchambers, January 30 2016

France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, has warned that letting the status quo continue, risks killing of a two-state solution and playing into the hands of ISIS, the Islamic State militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. © Ammar Awad / ReutersBehind Israel’s Campaign to Vilify Peace Groups

By Jonathan Cook, January 30 2016

Far-right activists spying on Israeli human rights community received hidden funds from Netanyahu government Israeli government funds have been secretly transferred to far-right organisations leading a smear campaign against groups opposed to the occupation, a series of investigations show.

Obamapressconfer-510x340Obama Joins Israel Boycott? Labels West Bank Goods

By Jordan Schachtel, January 30 2016

In a step towards joining an Israel boycott, the U.S. is now requiring goods originating from the West Bank (also known as Judea and Samaria) to be labeled separately from products from the rest of Israel, following the European Union’s crackdown on products from the disputed territories.

The chemical compound contained in expired weapons may no longer be approved, write Anna Feigenbaum and Vyvian Raoul.

Infamous street-artist Banksy made headlines again this week with his latest illicit artwork. The piece, which was painted opposite the French Embassy in London, features a crying Cosette from Les Miserables, her tears the result of a cloud of gas that engulfs her. Like his recent pieces on the edge of The Jungle camp and around Calais, it’s another comment on the refugee crisis. This piece takes a pop at the French government’s handling of the situation – and, in particular, their use of public order weaponry against the people that live in the makeshift encampment.

29.01.16-Banksy-590.jpg [Related Image]In a first for the elusive street artist, his piece featured a code. By scanning the code with a QR reader, viewers were linked to a Youtube video of , rubber bullets and concussion grenades being fired indiscriminately into the camp, which is situated on dunes on the outskirts of the Port au Calais. Despite video evidence, just last week police spokesman Steve Barbet issued a denial against such tactics: ‘It’s not in our interest to use teargas unless it’s absolutely necessary to restore public order, and it is never used in the camp itself,’ he told the Guardian.

Banksy has another link to The Jungle: when his Dismaland exhibition was dismantled after its five week summer run, the artist sent leftover materials to the camp to be turned into shelters. The materials were accompanied by Dismaland crew members, who have so far constructed 12 dwellings, a community centre and a children’s play area, in a project that has become known as ‘Dismalaid’.

When the crew visited, they found evidence everywhere of weapons being used inside the camp. An anonymous member of the of the Dismalaid crew told us: ‘It’s impossible to walk from one end of the camp to the other without stumbling upon various bits of depleted weaponry – from canisters to rubber bullet casings to spent cartridges, they’re all over the place. And everyone you speak to has stories of the Gendarmes firing them indiscriminately into the camp – seemingly with little reason, very often.’

And when crew members used Riot , a civic forensics project designed to help civilians identify riot control weapons, they found out that the weapons being used were not designed for shooting at people at close range or in confined spaces likes tents, lorries, tunnels and fenced in border zones. Impact munitions like rubber bullets have strict guidelines on distance and angles for firing. Likewise, how ‘safe’ or harmful tear gas is depends on the amount of chemicals released, how close you are to where it is discharged, as well as on how much air is moving through the area. Because refugee camps like The Jungle are overcrowded and heavily secured with fencing, razor wire and guards, when tear gas is set off, no one can escape very far.

Being trapped by tear gas can lead to serious injuries and even to death, as the killing of a 20-year-old Eritrean woman in Calais last July made clear. The young woman was hit by a car while fleeing from tear gas fired at close range by the police into the back of a lorry.

Not only are the French security forces shooting people with riot control weapons at close range, almost all the tear gas casings the Dismalaid crew found were identified as out-of-date. Like other chemical products, tear gas expires, becoming dangerous for a number of reasons. For one, the mechanism that sets off the canister or grenade can become faulty. This can lead to injury for anyone handling them. It can also make the devices more likely to cause fires – especially when lodged into enclosed spaces like tents or lorries. This dangerous police behaviour can be deadly.

In addition, the chemical compound contained in expired weapons may no longer be approved according to the most recent safety tests and certificates. But perhaps most ominously, expired riot control casings are very difficult to trace back to the point of sale – allowing both weapons manufacturers and governments to evade blame.

One can imagine the thinking behind using out-of-date, potentially illegal weaponry on people with no legal status: has someone in a police station somewhere in Calais taken the decision to use up old stock on those with no right to complain? Perhaps they gambled no one will find out and, even if they did, that no-one will care anyway. But more and more people are becoming sympathetic to the plight of the refugees perched on that small patch of land in the Port au Calais. And by using Riot , the crew in Calais were able to identify tear gas casing as products of French manufacturers AlsetexNobel Sport Securite and Verney-Carron, as well as -based Combined Tactical Systems. These companies are industry leaders that export around the world – in the Port au Calais they’re profiting from the repression of refugees.

Riot is a project from Omega Research Foundation, Bahrain Watch and Bournemouth University with Minute Works graphic design. The RiotID pocket guide is available to freely download in Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish and Turkish . Dismalaid is an impromptu anarcho-aid project run by recycled crew from Banksy’s Dismaland.

Anna Feigenbaum is a Lecturer in Media and Politics at Bournemouth University

Vyvian Raoul is a co-founder of STRIKE! Magazine and founder of Dog Section Press.

It’s no surprise. Nations routinely spy on allies and adversaries. Today’s sophisticated technology makes it easier than ever.

On Friday, Israeli and Western media reported Washington and Britain accessed Israeli military aircraft video feeds – letting them monitor IDF operations in Gaza, along with watching for potential strikes on Iran.

US and UK intelligence cracked special IDF encryption years ago. They’ve been monitoring communications between Israeli warplanes, drones and military bases.

Edward Snowden-released NSA documents and photos revealed it. Israel expressed disappointment but not surprise, over-hyping what it called “an earthquake…the worst leak in the history of (its) intelligence.”

Tracking is done from a Royal Air Force installation near Mount Olympus, the highest point on Cyprus.

An anonymous Israeli official said the breach means Washington and Britain “forcibly stripped us, and, no less important, that probably none of our encrypted systems are safe from them.”

A 2008 UK intelligence (GCHQ) report called access “indispensable for maintaining an understanding of Israeli military training and operations, and thus an insight into possible future developments in the region.”

“In times of crisis, this access is critical and one of the only avenues to provide up to the minute information and support to US and allied operations in the area.”

The White House declined to comment, only saying spying is conducted for national security reasons. It’s espionage, stealing other countries’ secrets for political, economic and military advantage.

It’s not about keeping us safe. America hasn’t had an enemy since Japan surrendered at WW II’s end.

Domestic spying has nothing to do with national security. It’s for control, transforming America into a police state, its most disadvantaged citizens victimized, thousands wrongfully imprisoned for political reasons.

Earlier released Snowden documents revealed global NSA spying, at home and abroad, including on allied world leaders. Big Brother is real, no longer fiction. Privacy no longer exists.

Unconstitutional mass surveillance is standard practice. Obama escalated what his predecessors began, secretly authorizing illegal intrusions into the lives of ordinary US citizens, monitoring their electronic and telephonic communications without judicial authorization, waging war on freedom, spying more aggressively worldwide than any previous regime in history.

Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev once said “Israel does not spy on the United States of America.”

Not according to the CIA, calling Israel America’s main regional spy threat. Numerous Israeli officials are involved – with close ties to foreign military, intelligence and criminal sources.

In 2011, former CIA counterintelligence/military intelligence officer Philip Giraldi accused Israel of stealing everything it gets its hands one, including military, political, industrial, commercial, technological, economic and financial secrets.

Annual FBI reports prominently feature Israeli spying on America. Washington’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) earlier said Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.”

The Pentagon accused Israel of “actively engag(ing) in military and industrial espionage in the United States. An Israeli citizen working in the US who has access to proprietary information is likely to be a target of such espionage.”

Despite longstanding close ties, past and current US national security officials consider Israel a frustrating ally, a genuine counterintelligence threat.

Its technical capability and human resources match some of America’s best – with direct access to top-level US political, military and intelligence sources, enlisting them to steal American secrets.

Israel gets virtually anything it wants from Washington, its intrusive spying overlooked.

Their imperial ties matter more, longstanding partners in naked aggression and other high crimes.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

In late April 2014, U.S. President Obama embarked on a four-nation trip to Asia namely Japan, South-Korea, Philippines and Malaysia. Malaysia was the only country on Obama’s itinerary that was not a treaty ally of the United States. The visit marks a new phase for Malaysia-U.S. ties with the upgrade of their bilateral relations to a “comprehensive partnership” thus signalling Washington’s pivot to Asia. This is seen as a major shift in Malaysia’s foreign policy which maintained a limited relationship during the tenure of former premier Mahathir Mohamad who openly opposed attempts of the West to create a unipolar world.

The comprehensive partnership promises greater collaboration on the economy, security, education, science, technology and other fields. However, the most significant dimension of this partnership is security cooperation, including antiterrorism efforts, military-to-military ties, facilities for U.S. forces, U.S. support for Southeast Asian claimants in the South China Sea disputes, and U.S. humanitarian aid. \In addition, an increased military-to-military relation, through complex joint military exercises, have been taking place ever since.

Malaysia has now successfully completed exercises codenamed: KERIS STRIKE, CARAT, GPOI CAPSTONE, DCAT, COPE TAUFAN, and MALUS AMPHEX, according to the Defence Minister ishammuddin Hussein. He also said that the Defence Ministry is mulling over the idea of adopting the U.S. Marines military model to further strengthen the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) maritime capacity. There are already reports that Malaysia has begun developing an amphibious force based near James Shoal and has partnered U.S. Marine Corps to build that capability.

In a report by Center for New American Security (CNAS), a Washington D.C.-based think tank, entitled Advancing U.S.-Malaysia Security Cooperation in a Changing Environment, “MAF’s capacity limitations could be addressed through expanded foreign military sales (FMS), including possibly unmanned vehicles to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance(ISR) through deepened defence industry cooperation”.

It is well timed to put into effect the proposed strategy with the establishment of THE Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZONE) in the wake of the Lahad Datu intrusion by the Sulu separatists. Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM), a joint interagency task force consisting of the MAF, Royal Malaysian Police, and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency is the main enforcement authority for ESSZONE established by the Malaysian PM Najib Razak and chaired by the Chief Minister of Sabah Musa Aman. Its purpose is to strengthen maritime security following an incursion and prevent terrorist activities in waters of Sabah. ESSCOM receives massive funding from the government of Malaysia amounting to RM1.3 billion from to 2014 – 2016 to build its infrastructure and strengthen its military assets.

It has become a highly militarized zone with its increased military assets on land, air, and most notably sea with the conversion of a cargo vessel and a decommission oil rig into military sea bases funded by Malaysian’s national petroleum company PETRONAS. These developments in ESSZONE are followed closely by the U.S. and evidenced through frequent visits by its officials and military assistance by the means of training, assets transfer and military sales.

This is all happening against the backdrop of a growing U.S. and China role in South China Sea. It is clear as daylight the U.S. is engaged in an aggressive diplomatic offensive throughout Asia seeking to pit China against South-east Asian claimants in the South China Sea dispute

While the Philippines and Vietnam fully support Washington’s aggressive stance, Malaysia has traditionally been more careful about balancing its relationships with Washington and Beijing, cooperating on military matters with the former while focusing more on economic links with the latter. China is Malaysia’s biggest trading partner and seeks to deepen their defence cooperation. In September 2015, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur carried out their first joint military exercise in the Straits of Malacca which is one of the world’s busiest waterways with a geostrategic importance. This is followed by a pledge in November 2015 to deepen bilateral defence cooperation during a meeting in Kuala Lumpur between the two defence ministers.

Obviously, Malaysia is trying to play it safe by balancing its relationships with the U.S. and China. However, the western mass media machine is trying very hard to play up instances of the Chinese Navy presence around James Shoal, an Island under land-mass expansion, to provoke confrontation between Beijing and Kuala Lumpur. Whether under pressure or influence, top officials of the MAF and Malaysian politicians can be seen echoing the same view in a subtle manner more recently. The U.S. has also been repeatedly playing up the South China Sea disputes between China and fellow claimants of Southeast Asian nations by referring to China’s nine-dashed line as expansive and its naval activities as coercive. While similar narrative in Europe is obvious with the U.S. anti-Russian rhetoric which saw nations like France, Germany and Turkey distancing and severing its relationship with Russia. Moreover, U.S. and NATO countries have been increasing their military build-up, and in the future plan to increase its troop deployment from the current 13,000 to 40,000 troops and place additional hardware, including tanks on the Russian borders under the pretext of “Russian aggression.”

As a result of U.S. provocations and strategy of isolating China, increased military build-up among the Southeast Asian nations and militarization of South China Sea have been taking place ever since. Malaysia has been dragged deeply into the fold of U.S. coalition against China since forging the comprehensive partnership with Washington.

Proposed closer coordination with fellow claimants the Philippines and Vietnam suggests that Washington’s diplomatic rhetoric is intent on shifting Malaysia’s stance on the dispute with China to a more aggressive one following the likes of Manila and Hanoi. Moreover, CNAS published in its report that “Because Malaysia is likely to resist formal or regular deployments of U.S. forces to Malaysian soil due both to sovereignty concerns and pressure from Beijing, the United States must be aggressive in seeking opportunities for quiet ad-hoc cooperation.” This demonstrates a subversive attempt to coax the Malaysian officials into support for Washington’s policy against China. These attempts would certainly result in a significant impact in Malaysian foreign policy given the fact that current administration is led by controversial PM Najib Razak who would do anything to stay in power amid links to murder and corruption scandal.

In July 2015, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in its report released documents exposing Malaysian PM Najib Razak in a USD $700 million corruption scandal involving the state investment fund. WSJ also reported in October 2015 that the FBI and Justice Department are examining Goldman Sachs role as adviser to the politically connected development fund that resulted in years of lucrative business, also which brought exposure to an expanding scandal. The U.S. media and financial entities are well known for their influence on U.S. foreign policy raising questions whether financial interests and involvement in the corruption scandal intends to pressure Najib Razak into reviewing its policy against China.

While the corruption scandal is drawing world-wide attention, another controversy surrounding Najib’s administration which received much less attention surfaced. Several Malaysian newspapers reported that on September 7, 2015 the High Court in Kota Kinabalu was told that Philippine and Malaysian governments conspired in Lahad Datu armed intrusion. During a trial of 30 individuals linked to the intrusion by Sulu gunmen at Lahad Datu, a communication interception processing staff from the Malaysian police special branch, who was testifying as a ‘protected witness’, said in an intercepted telephone conversation that a suspect, Basil B. Samiul was warned by a man dubbed, ‘Lelaki Sabah’ (Sabah man) to be on alert and that “we are being used”. “I don’t know who ‘we’ and what ‘the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines conspired’ meant by ‘Lelaki Sabah’,” said the witness through a court interpreter.

Eastern Sabah has seen numerous accounts of terrorist activities including kidnappings, extortion and assassination prior to the armed intrusion in 2013. Several Islamic militant groups exist in the Southern Philippines namely Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Abu Sayyaf. Abu Sayyaf who recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) is hugely responsible for the attacks. Links between IS and Abu Sayyaf is not surprising considering the fact that several reports claimed that MNLF, MILF and Abu Sayyaf was a CIA project just like Al-Qaeda initially recruited as mujahedeens to fight the U.S. proxy war in Afghanistan against the Russians. They have been wreaking havoc in the Philippines and Malaysia ever since similar to the other CIA created terrorists that are operating in conflict areas around the globe.

If the allegations prove to be true, the successful establishment of ESSZONE under the pretext of preventing terrorist activities, terrorists created by the CIA and possibly still under CIA funding for covert operations as evidenced by its links with U.S. created IS, is clearly an attempt to militarize the eastern coasts of Sabah bordered by Philippines. This is convenient for further maritime, naval and military build-up through cooperation between these two countries, the U.S. and Malaysia, around the Sulu Sea which could serve as a deterrence strategy against China.

With the current leadership embroiled in controversies, the U.S. could exploit the situation through its media and influence to dictate Malaysian policy.

It is up to the Malaysian politicians to be wise in their decisions and to not fall prey to the internal and external pressure regarding their stance in the dispute. Malaysia’s sovereignty is at stake and given the fact that the U.S. desire to establish a base or at least deploy their troops on the eastern coasts of Sabah is now made possible with the existence of ESSZONE. We can expect to see Malaysia playing a more pivotal role in the ongoing standoff in the Indo-Pacific.

May 13, 1985 is a day that shall live in infamy, but for far more reasons than the obvious. It was the death knell of a system committing suicide. It proved that a man called John Africa spoke powerful truths when he spoke about the nature of the system as corrupt, as flawed, as poisoned. Every day past that date has only proved it even more. ” -Mumia Abu-Jamal, from a May 9  2010 radio essay

 

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The only aerial bombing by police ever carried out on US soil was on May 13, 1985, when a Philadelphia police helicopter dropped military grade explosives on the house run by a group of self-styled revolutionaries known as Move. This group, which claims to adhere to principles of non-violence was founded by John Africa in 1972, and was composed mostly, but not exclusively, of African-Americans. They rejected the norms of 20th century American society in their dress, grooming, diet and lifestyles, and had come in conflict with authorities on several occasions.[1]

The 1985 bombing claimed the lives of five children and six adults including founder John Africa. Another adult named Ramona Africa, and a child named Birdie Africa were the only survivors of the assault. More than 250 people in the predominantly black middle class neighbourhood were left homeless after more than 60 other homes were destroyed as a result of the aerial bombing, and the fires that followed.[2]

This attack followed a previous assault on August 8, 1978. A police raid on the Move house, then located in the Philadelphia neighbourhood of Powelton village, resulted in the death of police officer James Ramp. The Courts held nine Move members responsible for the death and sentenced them to 30 to 100 years behind bars. [3]

Thirty-seven years later, two of the nine have died in prison under suspicious circumstances. Supporters of the Move 9, as they are called, are appealing to the Philadelphia Parole Board to set the remaining seven members free, now that they have all served their minimum sentences. [4][5]

In this installment of the Global Research News Hour we examine the attacks on Move in the context of a history of police and state repression of the black minority population of the US.

Linn Washington is a journalist and currently serves as an Associate Professor of Journalism at Temple University. He has covered Move almost from the group’s beginnings and was present on the scene as a reporter during the 1985 police action against the group. He will put the 1985 Bombing and the events that led up to it in their proper context and establish the failures, as he sees it, of the media to hold those in authority to account.

Ramona Africa is the spokesperson for Move. She served seven years in prison on riot charges following the bombing by Philadelphia police. She and other plaintiffs eventually received a $1.5 million settlement from the city in connection with the incident. In this interview Ramona provides some background on the group and the police stand-offs in 1978 and 1985, and speaks at length about the unjust incarceration of nine Move members who she explains could not possibly have been responsible for the murder of police officer Ramp.

For more resources on Move, and how to help the Move 9, please visit the following sites:

onamove.com

www.move9parole.blogspot.ca

Readers who happen to be in the New York City area ma wish to take in the following event:

NYC Stand in Solidarity in with Parole for the Move 9 – Friday Night 2/12/16

 

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The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

The  show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CFUV 101. 9 FM in Victoria. Airing Sundays from 7-8am PT.

CHLY 101.7 FM in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario – Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the  North Shore to the US Border. It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.

 

Notes: 

1) Alan Yuhas (May 13, 2015), The Guardian, Philadelphia’s Osage Avenue police bombing, 30 years on: ‘This story is a parable’ “; http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/13/osage-avenue-bombing-philadelphia-30-years

2) Ibid

3) Emilie Lounsberry (Feb. 28, 2008), The Philadelphia Inquirer, “MOVE members due for parole hearing”; http://web.archive.org/web/20080411115748/http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/20080228_MOVE_members_due_for_parole_hearing.html

4)http://www.workers.org/ww/1998/africa0326.php

5) http://www.iacenter.org/racism/africa-phil011315//

 

 

NYC Stand in Solidarity in with Parole for the Move 9 – Friday Night 2/12/16

On Friday night, February 12th 2016 join the move organization along with all our friends and supporters in the NYC area for an evening of solidarity for parole for Move political prisoners.

The program will be taking place at the Malcolm X Doctor Betty Shabazz center located at 3940 Broadway @ 165th Street.

The main focus will be on the upcoming May 2016 parole hearings for Janet, Janine, and Debbie Africa.


We have a great line up on the main panel which will include:
Ramona Africa
Pam Africa
Mumia Abu Jamal
Amina Baraka
Caleb Maupin
Suzanne Ross
James McIntosh
Harabic Tubman
Iman al Talib Abdur Rashid
We will have updates on the parole campaigns for political prisoners:Jalil Muntaqim
Herman Bell
Robert Seth Hayes, and many othersThere will also be performances that night featuring:

Raw
Lc the poet
The new york city premiere of life
And some more surprise performances

We hope to see all of you in attendance on this historic evening!

Ona move
The Move organization

“The Money Mafia”

January 31st, 2016 by Hon. Paul Hellyer

Exposing perceived fault lines in our banking and financial systems and explaining how unemployment could be cut in half in two years and worldwide prosperity restored, this book argues the existence of exotic energy sources to replace fossil fuels and consequently recommends an immediate end to fracking and offshore drilling for oil. It further urges an immediate worldwide mobilization to replace the energy source in every car, truck, tractor, ship, airplane, and house on Earth in seven years in a desperate effort to save the planet from further overheating

The book blasts government secrecy, and more than 65 years of supposed lies and disinformation, and demands full disclosure of what they know about visitors from other realms and their technology and the extent of their collaboration, including any treaties that may have been signed by them.

With more than 65 years of participation in and observation of political and economic systems—beginning with the Great Depression, extending through World War II, the postwar era of hope for a better life, the Cold War, the subjugation of democracy by oligarchy, and the subtle but continuous militarization of America—Paul T. Hellyer analyzes what he believes has gone wrong with the world and its economy and suggests radical measures to introduce a universal culture of peace and cooperation.

You can buy Paul Hellyer’s book online via Amazon or via the author’s website

Facebook users were not instructed to do so, but may nonetheless wish to change their profile pictures in solidarity with the families and friends of victims of recent terrorist attacks.

A great many of the victims were aspiring university students, others were school teachers, children, infants, parents, and elderly. Their bodies were torn apart in the acts of violence, many unidentifiable.

Most of these innocent victims will go unnamed, their murders obfuscated, or largely unnoticed, in Western media.

Lebanese forensic police investigate the site of a twin bombing attack that rocked a busy shopping street in the area of Burj al-Barajneh, a Beirut stronghold of Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah, the day after the attack on November 13, 2015. © AFP

Lebanese forensic police investigate the site of a twin bombing attack that rocked a busy shopping street in the area of Burj al-Barajneh, a Beirut stronghold of Lebanon’s Shiite movement Hezbollah,
the day after the attack on November 13, 2015. © AFP

Consider the following cycle of carnage:

On November 12, 2015, a double suicide bomb ripped through the Bourj al-Barajneh neighbourhood of southern Beirut, killing 45 and injuring 200 more, many critically so. The terrorists attacked just before 6 pm, on a narrow and crowded residential and commercial street, ensuring maximum loss of life. More would have been murdered had not a local man, Adel Termos, tackled an approaching suicide bomber. Termos lost his life in the blast, but saved countless others with his act of courage.

Site of the December 12 terrorist car bomb explosion in al-Zahra'a, Homs. © Eva Bartlett

Site of the December 12 terrorist car bomb explosion in al-Zahra’a, Homs. © Eva Bartlett

On December 12, 2015, terrorists car-bombed, then suicide-bombed, the al-Zahra’a neighborhood of Homs, Syria, killing at least 16 civilians and injuring over 50, according to initial reports from Syrian State media (later updates noted 20 dead and over 100 injured). The deaths and destruction from the initial car-bombing—near the Ahli Hospital—was made worse since the terrorists set off their bomb next to a natural gas delivery truck. Later, a terrorist returned to the scene and detonated his explosive vest among rescuers who had come to help the injured.

This pattern repeated itself on December 28, 2015, in al-Zahra’a, where a car bomb followed by a suicide bomb, killed up to 30 civilians, and injured over 100, according to Syrian state media initial reports. Again, on January 26, terrorists car and suicide bombed al-Zahra’a, killing at least 24 and injuring over 100, many critically-so, according to Syrian state media.

The al-Zahra’a district of Homs had been terror-bombed many times prior to the December 12 attacks, as have other areas of Homs, including the Ekrama district, which suffered a school bombing on October 1, 2014. There, terrorists car and suicide-bombed next to the school, killed 45 people, mostly children and women, according to al-Masdar News. Video footage showed terrified, maimed and dead children being carried away from the school.

Zein Abudllah, 8, injured by shrapnel to his face in the December 12 terorist car bombing.  © Eva Bartlett

Zein Abudllah, 8, injured by shrapnel to his face in the December 12 terorist car bombing. © Eva Bartlett

The terror attacks are not limited to Homs. Over the past 5 years of this foreign war on Syria, Western-backed militants have committed such acts of terrorism all over Syria. On December 30, 2015, members of Da’esh (ISIS) triple-bombed Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, remote-detonating explosives in three restaurants, killing at least 16 civilians. On January 24, 2016 Da’esh again terror-bombed the city, killing at least three people.

The list of terror attacks in Syria, and neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq, is an endless and long list. Yet, while the vast majority of the victims are civilians, their deaths do not merit the same front-page coverage as similar acts do in the West; the terror attacks do not merit the same statements of condemnation and outpouring of sorrow issued by Western leaders when terrorism strikes elsewhere.

Immense Suffering in Beirut and Homs

I paid a visit to Bourj al-Barajneh and al-Zahara, in November and December 2015, respectively. I witnessed firsthand their narrow roads with their destroyed buildings and homes, which emanated an immense suffering that most Western media glossed over.

The Bourj al-Barajneh tragedy occurred one day before the November 13 attacks in Paris, yet the latter attack on the French capital would make headlines for weeks following; Facebook users changed their profile photos to images of the French flag; world leaders – who were largely silent on Beirut’s tragedy the day prior, as well as the repeated terror attacks in Syria – convened in Paris to march in solidarity with the victims.

Western media’s coverage of the Beirut attack was loaded with sectarian lexicon, essentially relegating those murdered civilians as belonging to a “Hezbollah stronghold” or a “Shia neighborhood,” which to Western readers obscures the fact that – while indeed proudly supportive of Hezbollah – these are everyday humans who have been targeted by terrorism.

The Shia/Sunni Lebanese area is also home to many Christian and Palestinian residents. Visiting in the evening, as when the November 12 attacks occurred, I saw heavy pedestrian, motorcycle and automobile traffic along the narrow streets and lanes that host a number of shops and stalls.

Homes opposite the terrorist car bombing blast in al-Zahra'a, Homs © Eva Bartlett

Homes opposite the terrorist car bombing blast in al-Zahra’a, Homs © Eva Bartlett

At the site of the second explosion, residents had erected a memorial and large poster of Adel Termos, the young man who gave his own life to prevent further loss of lives. On the school door opposite, a photo of a Rawan Awad, a young teacher who was killed in the attacks. A local woman pointed to second-story windows, telling me, “the blood reached the windows up there, flesh, too. The blast was huge.” It was said to be the biggest explosion in Beirut for years.

Along the memorial were photos of other victims of these terror attacks: elderly, children, young men and women, victims of Western-backed terror and Western hypocrisy. Their lives didn’t merit worldwide sorrow and solidarity.

Je Suis… Blind and Deaf

The sting that the Lebanese people felt when the world’s attention was focused on Paris, the day after the massacre in Beirut, is a sting that Syrians have known deeply over the past five years.

Take the example of Homs’ al-Zahra’a. Any Western media reporting that does cover the repeated terrorist bombings of the neighborhood does so in sectarian and biased lexicon.

The neighbourhood is described as: “an Alawite” area; a “government-held” area (AP).

But it is not described in terms of its reality, a district comprising a majority of Alawis, but also significant numbers of Christians, Sunnis, and Shia, many of whom are Internally Displaced Syrians who have moved to this “government held”area after fleeing the terrorists’ violence in their own home areas of Aleppo, Idlib, and elsehwere.

The depiction of al-Zahra’a merely as “an Alawite” district is in line with the NATO alliance’s sectarian project, a sectarianism which the vast majority of Syrians continue to refuse. Depicting al-Zahra’a merely as a “government held” area feeds into the Western narrative of obfuscating on the vast amount of support for the Syrian president, and further confuses readers as to the civilian suffering at each terrorist attack in al-Zahra’a.

This human suffering I saw on a December 15, 2015 visit to the neighbourhood, meeting with family members of the dead.

On the second story of what was the shell of his home, teenager Yousef Abdullah walked me through the ruins of the three story home housing two families, outside of which the car bombing had occurred just days prior. It was he who carried out the body of his 17 year old cousin, Caroline, crushed under rubble on the ground level.

The small clothing shop on ground level belonged to Anaya Abbas, a 50, killed in the bombing. Her son, Alaa al-Hamwi, had only days prior returned to see his family. One of the Syrian soldiers defending the Kuweires airbase against terrorist attacks, the al-Hamwi family suffered doubly, from worry over their long absent son, and now from the murder of Anaya Abbas.

Visiting al-Zahra’a one sees a vividly different face, a tormented face, than that which the corporate media allows. Many human stories abound, if journalists care to convey them. The sad hypocrisy is that when terrorist attacks occur on Western soil, these human stories are conveyed, ad naseum.

Commerical and residential streets in the Bourj al-Barajneh area of Beirut which was double terror bombed November 12. © Eva Bartlett

Commerical and residential streets in the Bourj al-Barajneh area of Beirut which was double terror bombed November 12. © Eva Bartlett

UN Selective on Terrorism

Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry has repeatedly issued letters to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) requesting that such acts of terrorism in Syria be officially condemned, and that action be taken against those states supporting, financing, and enabling terrorism in Syria, namely Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The letters specify that the terrorism being committed in Syria is not only by Da’esh (ISIS) but also by other terrorist groups, including “Jebhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Islam, al-Jabha al-Islamiya, Jaish al-Fateh, Ahrar al-Cham,” and the so-called “Free Syrian Army”.

These letters are routinely ignored by UNSC and the Secretary-General, although they are based on the tenants of UN resolutions pertaining to terrorism.

It its latest letters, following the January 24, 2016 terror-bombings in al-Zahra’a, the Ministry noted the significance of their timing with respect to the upcoming Geneva talks.

Following the December 12, 2015 attacks, the Syrian Ministry sent their standard letters, requesting condemnation of the terrorism. The request was supported by Russia, with their own draft statement, which was rejected at the UNSC.

In the Face of Terror… You’re on Your Own

When the majority of the above-listed terror bombings have been claimed by Da’esh (ISIS), whom the West claims to be fighting, the glaring lack of condemnation of the Homs bombings, and the once-off condemnation of the Beirut bombings, reveals again the blatant hypocrisy of Western leaders.

In his November 13, 2015 address, President Obama, unsurprisingly, made no mention of either Beirut or Syria’s suffering under western-backed terrorists. Instead he called the Paris situation “heartbreaking” and uttered: “…we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism.”

Not to be outdone, Vice President Biden offered his “deepest condolences” and called the attacks “heartbreaking” “outrageous” and “tragic” and vowed, “We will look out for one another. We will stand together. We will never bow. We will never break. …We will respond. We will overcome. We will endure.”

In his November 21, 2015 address, Biden, in his opening remarks did actually mention the name “Beirut”, and commented,“in the face of terror we stand as one.” Yet, his address focused primarily on Paris—the “simple human acts” carried out by Parisians post Paris attack—and made no other mention of Beirut, nor the “simple human acts” carried out there. Like Beirut residents rushing to donate blood, post-attacks, for example.

Rather than addressing Beirut’s humanity, or even deigning to mention terror attacks carried out on Syrians throughout Syria, Biden used the rest of his address to talk about Syrian refugees and the “rigorous screening”, “fingerprinting” and background checks refugees go through to enter the US. In other words, he used his platform to negate true suffering in Syria, and instead subtly indoctrinate his audience into equating Syrians with terrorism.

Obama issued a proclamation “Honoring the Victims of the Attack in Paris” on November 15, 2015, ordering the US flag to be flown “at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts,”… and so on.

In a search of the Whitehouse.gov website, using key terms like: “Bourj Barajneh”“Burj al-Barajneh”“Beirut”“Zahra”,“Zahraa”“Homs” + bombing, I came up with just one match, aside from the above-mentioned November 21VP Biden’s uttering of the name “Beirut” before his ode to Paris. The entry was a Statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price, on the day of the Bourj al-Barajneh attacks. Neither Obama, nor Biden, deigned to personally make this statement.

One paragraph, the statement “condemns in the strongest terms today’s horrific terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lebanon that killed dozens and wounded hundreds more. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and other loved ones of those killed and injured in this violence. The United States will stand firm with the Government of Lebanon as it works to bring those responsible for this attack to justice….”

Compare the fiery rhetoric in the Paris statements with this meek Beirut statement. Little sorrow was expressed, nor unwavering solidarity, nor “fighting against extremism.”

Such is Western hypocrisy towards those murdered by Western-supported death squads.

Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist who has lived in the Gaza Strip since late 2008. She was aboard the Dignity, one of five Free Gaza missions to successfully sail to the Strip in 2008. Eva rode in ambulances during the 2008/2009 Israeli attacks on Gaza, and documented from a central Gaza hospital during the November 2012 Israeli attacks. She has worked extensively with Gaza’s fishermen and farmers, accompanying them as they come under fire from the Israeli army. She keeps a blog In Gaza.

Monsanto, the US-based biotech and agribusiness colossus, is seeking a merger with its European competitor Syngenta. Such a transaction would create a gargantuan corporation that would control 45% of the world’s commercial seeds and 30% of the farm chemicals market. This is a time of major mergers in the ag sector. The largest of these took place last November, when two of the largest US players, Dow and Dupont, agreed to merge. The resulting spawn of both will have no less than 25% of the world commercial seed market.

The much-talked about Monsanto-Syngenta merger is likely but not inevitable. Monsanto began 2016 with its third buyout offer to the European corporation in less than a year. Syngenta’s management announced it will not decide on Monsanto’s latest bid right away because it is considering other offers. In a conference in Switzerland in mid-January, company chairman Michael Demare said it is evaluating proposals from German companies BASF and Bayer, which are also world leaders in the agricultural biotech and pesticide sectors, and from ChemChina.

Although not very well known in North America and Europe, the Chinese state-owned ChemChina is one mammoth of a corporation. With $45.6 billion in annual revenues and some 140,000 employees, it ranks 265th in the Fortune 500 index.

shutterstock_148936832

ChemChina became a pesticide powerhouse in 2011 when its subsidiary, China National Agrochemical Corporation, acquired Makhteshim Agan Industries (Israel), the world’s 7th largest pesticide manufacturer, and became ADAMA”, said the Canada-based ETC Group. “With revenues over $3 billion in 2013, ADAMA sells generic pesticide products in more than 120 countries… ADAMA’s largest market is Europe (37%), followed by Latin America (25%). (Parentheses in original)

ChemChina’s interests go way beyond agrochemicals. Last year it acquired Italy’s Pirelli, one of the world’s leading tire manufacturers, for $7.9 billion. Its other major purchases include French firms Adisseo and Rhodia, Australia’s Qenos, Norwegian silicon maker Elkem, German machinery maker Krauss Maffee, and 12% of Swiss energy trader Mercuria.

ChemChina is headed by the flamboyant Ren Jianxin, a high-ranking Communist Youth League member who took the unusual step of going into business rather than politics. “Over three decades, Ren has led the restructuring of China’s chemicals industry, organizing more than 100 firms under the ChemChina banner into six main operating divisions, producing everything from basic chemicals to fertilizers and silicones”, said Reuters. Ren recently hired Bayer director Michael Koenig to run one of ChemChina’s subsidiaries, a move that raised eyebrows since state-owned companies very rarely ever hire foreigners to executive positions.

The company is also looking to expand its presence in the domestic market. A merger with Syngenta would turn ChemChina into the country’s top pesticide company. This is no small undertaking, given that China is the world’s third largest pesticide market, after the US and Brazil. If foreign agrochemical companies were to be interested in investing in China’s vast market they would find themselves squeezed into a minor corner by a gigantic Syngenta-ChemChina combination.

ChemChina’s ambitions are part of a larger story. Chinese food and agriculture companies are moving abroad and starting to compete toe to toe with their Western counterparts and even buying them out. In 2013, China’s Shuanghui corporation bought Smithfield, the leading US pork company, for $7.1 billion, the largest ever purchase of a US company by Chinese investors.

Another Chinese company to watch is COFCO, the country’s leading food processor, which acquired a controlling stake in the Netherlands’ agricultural commodity trader Nidera. The majority stake in Nidera would give COFCO greater control over pricing and better access to Latin America and Russia, important grain-growing regions, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014.

So what happens if ChemChina beats Monsanto to the Syngenta finish line? The Missouri-based company, which has been hitting hard times in the recent months, may end up trampled and squashed, unable to compete with a Dow-Dupont and a Syngenta-ChemChina.

According to the ETC Group: “No matter which mergers/acquisitions ultimately materialize, there’s little doubt that the infamous Monsanto name will soon be history.”

SOURCES

Owen Covington. “Syngenta board reportedly supports pursuing ChemChina deal” Triad Business Journal, January 19 2016.

http://www.bizjournals.com/triad/news/2016/01/19/syngenta-board-reportedly-supports-pursuing.html

ETC Group. “Breaking Bad: Big Ag Mega-Mergers in Play” December 15 2015.

http://www.etcgroup.org/content/breaking-bad-big-ag-mega-mergers-play

http://www.feedandgrain.com/news/why-chemchina-insists-on-acquiring-syngenta

Financial Times. “ChemChina closes in on another prize purchase”

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/78d04e32-c26e-11e5-808f-8231cd71622e.html#axzz3yGS3Cp7E

Sophie Song. “China State-Owned Food Giant COFCO Corporation Spends Billions Buying Nidera” International Business Times, February 28 2014.

http://www.ibtimes.com/china-state-owned-food-giant-cofco-corporation-spends-billions-buying-nidera-nv-1558616

Carmelo Ruiz is a Puerto Rican author and journalist currently living in Ecuador. He directs the Latin America Energy and Environment Monitor, runs a bilingual blog on journalism and current affairs, and is a member of the directive commission of the Puerto Rico Socialist Front. His Twitter ID is @carmeloruiz.

Obama Joins Israel Boycott? Labels West Bank Goods

January 30th, 2016 by Jordan Schachtel

In a step towards joining an Israel boycott, the U.S. is now requiring goods originating from the West Bank (also known as Judea and Samaria) to be labeled separately from products from the rest of Israel, following the European Union’s crackdown on products from the disputed territories.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection service, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has issued new mandates requiring that West Bank products not be marked “Israel,” citing a notice from the year 1997 that offers such instructions.

The memo from DHS, titled, “West Bank Country of Origin Marking Requirements,” reads:

“The purpose of this message is to provide guidance to the trade community regarding the country of origin marking requirements for goods that are manufactured in the West Bank.”

According to the instructions,

“It is not acceptable to mark” goods from the West Bank as having been from “Israel,” “Made in Israel,” or from “Occupied Territories-Israel.”

In its statement, U.S. Customs threatens:

“Goods that are erroneously marked as products of Israel will be subject to an enforcement action carried out by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

“Goods entering the United States must conform to the U.S. marking statute and regulations promulgated thereunder,” the statement adds.

Groups advocating “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” (BDS) against Israel have demanded separate labeling of Israeli goods from the West Bank and the Golan Heights as a step toward a total boycott of Israeli products.

Israel maintains that under international law, the West Bank is “disputed,” and not “occupied,” since there was no legitimate sovereign in the territory when Israel took control of it in self-defense after Jordan attacked Israel in 1967.

Many of the products that will be affected are made within areas of the West Bank, such as the Etzion bloc, are likely to be part of Israel under any peace agreement.

The new instructions were published by DHS over the weekend, following complaints from Palestinian and fringe leftist outfits that the U.S. was not complying with a 1995 law that calls for the marking of goods from the West Bank, Israel National News reports.

In November, the European Union mandated the labeling of Israeli products from the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Critics, including presidential candidates, have argued the labeling of products only from “Israeli areas” of the West Bank, and not Palestinian-controlled territories, is a discriminatory and anti-Semitic act.

The EU now refuses to allow the label “Made in Israel” on products made anywhere outside of the pre-1967 lines.

Following the implementation of EU labeling mandates, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the actions an “exceptional and discriminatory step.”

“This will not advance peace; it will certainly not advance truth and justice,” he added.

Last week, the State Department effectively endorsed the anti-Israel labeling measures.

On Wednesday, to mark Holocaust Remembrance day, President Obama pledged to confront worldwide anti-Semitism:

“Here, tonight, we must confront the reality that around the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise. We cannot deny it,” he said from the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

News of the poisoned water crisis in Flint has reached a wide audience around the world. The basics are now known: the Republican governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the free elections in Flint, deposed the mayor and city council, then appointed his own man to run the city. To save money, they decided to unhook the people of Flint from their fresh water drinking source, Lake Huron, and instead, make the public drink from the toxic Flint River. When the governor’s office discovered just how toxic the water was, they decided to keep quiet about it and covered up the extent of the damage being done to Flint’s residents, most notably the lead affecting the children, causing irreversible and permanent brain damage. Citizen activists uncovered these actions, and the governor now faces growing cries to resign or be arrested.

Here are ten things that you probably don’t know about this crisis because the media, having come to the story so late, can only process so much. But if you live in Flint or the State of Michigan as I do, you know all to well that what the greater public has been told only scratches the surface.

  1. While the Children in Flint Were Given Poisoned Water to Drink, General Motors Was Given a Special Hookup to the Clean Water. A few months after Governor Snyder removed Flint from the clean fresh water we had been drinking for decades, the brass from General Motors went to him and complained that the Flint River water was causing their car parts to corrode when being washed on the assembly line. The Governor was appalled to hear that GM property was being damaged, so he jumped through a number of hoops and quietly spent $440,000 to hook GM back up to the Lake Huron water, while keeping the rest of Flint on the Flint River water. Which means that while the children in Flint were drinking lead-filled water, there was one — and only one — address in Flint that got clean water: the GM factory.
  2. For Just $100 a Day, This Crisis Could’ve Been Prevented. Federal law requires that water systems which are sent through lead pipes must contain an additive that seals the lead into the pipe and prevents it from leaching into the water. Someone at the beginning suggested to the Governor that they add this anti-corrosive element to the water coming out of the Flint River. “How much would that cost?” came the question. “$100 a day for three months,” was the answer. I guess that was too much, so, in order to save $9,000, the state government said f*** it — and as a result the State may now end up having to pay upwards of $1.5 billion to fix the mess.
  3. There’s More Than the Lead in Flint’s Water. In addition to exposing every child in the city of Flint to lead poisoning on a daily basis, there appears to be a number of other diseases we may be hearing about in the months ahead. The number of cases in Flint of Legionnaires Disease has increased tenfold since the switch to the river water. Eighty-seven people have come down with it, and at least ten have died. In the five years before the river water, not a single person in Flint had died of Legionnaires Disease. Doctors are now discovering that another half-dozen toxins are being found in the blood of Flint’s citizens, causing concern that there are other health catastrophes which may soon come to light.
  4. People’s Homes in Flint Are Now Worth Nothing Because They Cant Be Sold. Would you buy a house in Flint right now? Who would? So every homeowner in Flint is stuck with a house that’s now worth nothing. That’s a total home value of $2.4 billion down the economic drain. People in Flint, one of the poorest cities in the U.S., don’t have much to their name, and for many their only asset is their home. So, in addition to being poisoned, they have now a net worth of zero. (And as for employment, who is going to move jobs or start a company in Flint under these conditions? No one.) Has Flint’s future just been flushed down that river?
  5. While They Were Being Poisoned, They Were Also Being Bombed.Here’s a story which has received little or no coverage outside of Flint. During these two years of water contamination, residents in Flint have had to contend with a decision made by the Pentagon to use Flint for target practice. Literally. Actual unannounced military exercises – complete with live ammo and explosives – were conducted last year inside the city of Flint. The army decided to practice urban warfare on Flint, making use of the thousands of abandoned homes which they could drop bombs on. Streets with dilapidated homes had rocket-propelled grenades fired upon them. For weeks, an undisclosed number of army troops pretended Flint was Baghdad or Damascus and basically had at it. It sounded as if the city was under attack from an invading army or from terrorists. People were shocked this could be going on in their neighborhoods. Wait – did I say “people?” I meant, Flint people. As with the Governor, it was OK to abuse a community that held no political power or money to fight back. BOOM!
  6. The Wife of the Governor’s Chief of Staff Is a Spokeswoman for Nestle, Michigan’s Largest Owner of Private Water Reserves. As Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein: “Follow the money.” Snyder’s chief of staff throughout the two years of Flint’s poisoning, Dennis Muchmore, was intimately involved in all the decisions regarding Flint. His wife is Deb Muchmore, who just happens to be the spokesperson in Michigan for the Nestle Company – the largest owner of private water sources in the State of Michigan. Nestle has been repeatedly sued in northern Michigan for the 200 gallons of fresh water per minute it sucks from out of the ground and bottles for sale as their Ice Mountain brand of bottled spring water. The Muchmores have a personal interest in seeing to it that Nestles grabs as much of Michigan’s clean water was possible – especially when cities like Flint in the future are going to need that Ice Mountain.
  7. In Michigan, from Flint water, to Crime and Murder, to GM Ignition Switches, It’s a Culture of Death. It’s not just the water that was recklessly used to put people’s lives in jeopardy. There are many things that happen in Flint that would give one the impression that there is a low value placed on human life. Flint has one of the worst murder and crime rates in the country. Just for context, if New York City had the same murder rate as Flint, Michigan, the number of people murdered last year in New York would have been almost 4,000 people – instead of the actual 340 who were killed in NYC in 2015. But it’s not just street crime that makes one wonder about what is going on in Michigan. Last year, it was revealed that, once again, one of Detroit’s automakers had put profit ahead of people’s lives. General Motors learned that it had installed faulty ignition switches in many of its cars. Instead of simply fixing the problem, mid-management staff covered it up from the public. The auto industry has a history of weighing the costs of whether it’s cheaper to spend the money to fix the defect in millions of cars or to simply pay off a bunch of lawsuits filed by the victims surviving family members. Does a cynical, arrogant culture like this make it easy for a former corporate CEO, now Governor, turn a blind eye to the lead that is discovered in a municipality’s drinking water?
  8. Don’t Call It “Detroit Water” — It’s the Largest Source of Fresh Drinking Water in the World. The media keeps saying Flint was using “Detroit’s water.” It is only filtered and treated at the Detroit Water Plant. The water itself comes from Lake Huron, the third largest body of fresh water in the world. It is a glacial lake formed over 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age and it is still fed by pure underground springs. Flint is geographically the last place on Earth where one should be drinking poisoned water.
  9. ALL the Children Have Been Exposed, As Have All the Adults, Including Me. That’s just a fact. If you have been in Flint anytime from April 2014 to today, and you’ve drank the water, eaten food cooked with it, washed your clothes in it, taken a shower, brushed your teeth or eaten vegetables from someone’s garden, you’ve been exposed to and ingested its toxins. When the media says “9,000 children under 6 have been exposed,” that means ALL the children have been exposed because the total number of people under the age of 6 in Flint is… 9,000! The media should just say, “all.” When they say “47 children have tested positive”, that’s just those who’ve drank the water in the last week or so. Lead enters the body and does it’s damage to the brain immediately. It doesn’t stay in the blood stream for longer than a few days and you can’t detect it after a month. So when you hear “47 children”, that’s just those with an exposure in the last 48 hours. It’s really everyone.
  10. This Was Done, Like So Many Things These Days, So the Rich Could Get a Big Tax Break. When Governor Snyder took office in 2011, one of the first things he did was to get a multi-billion dollar tax break passed by the Republican legislature for the wealthy and for corporations. But with less tax revenues, that meant he had to start cutting costs. So, many things – schools, pensions, welfare, safe drinking water – were slashed. Then he invoked an executive privilege to take over cities (all of them majority black) by firing the mayors and city councils whom the local people had elected, and installing his cronies to act as “dictators” over these cities. Their mission? Cut services to save money so he could give the rich even more breaks. That’s where the idea of switching Flint to river water came from. To save $15 million! It was easy. Suspend democracy. Cut taxes for the rich. Make the poor drink toxic river water. And everybody’s happy.

Except those who were poisoned in the process. All 102,000 of them. In the richest country in the world.

Since 2011, Syria has fought desperately to hold itself together as a single, unified nation. Threatened from the beginning by the “Libya precedent,” Washington and its regional allies have openly conspired to divide up Syria as a consolatory objective upon failing to topple Damascus outright.

US policymakers, some of whom had previously played a role in laying out invasion and occupation plans for Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, have published numerous op-eds and entire policy papers regarding the planned partition of Syria.

It was hoped that the Syrian government could be pushed from Damascus and sent fleeing to Syria’s western provinces of Latakia and Tartus. From there, the US hoped to create a Saudi-Qatari-Turkish dominated central state with a Kurdish territory linked up with US-backed Kurds in northern Iraq. Forever divided against itself, Syria would never again function as a powerful ally of nearby Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah or Russia and distant China.

Russia’s intervention in Syria has all but prevented Damascus from falling. And while the Western media has attempted to claim the intervention has made little difference, so successful has it actually been that attempts by Turkey to establish its long-sought after “safe zone” in northern Syria have also all but evaporated.

Syrian troops backed by Russian airpower have moved from Latakia along Syria’s border with Turkey toward the now much reported-on A’zaz-Jarabulus corridor while another force pushes north from eastern Aleppo toward the Turkish border. Elsewhere, Syrian forces are securing Damascus, pushing Western-backed militants over their southernmost border with Jordan and pushing east toward Raqqa itself.

What is left? 

What has been left for the US and its regional allies is a possible attempt to invade and occupy Syria’s northeast. The US has already been allegedly carrying out ground operations in this region supposedly in support of “Kurdish” and “Arab” forces that make up what it calls the “Syrian Democratic Forces.”

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Friday that Russian experts had “arrived to explore” the Qamishli airport’s “readiness and to check what is needed to develop and use it” near the Turkish border. The report added that Russian warplanes were expected to use the airport in the “coming days and weeks.” Qamishli is located south of the Turkish border town of Nusaybin.

The US has even allegedly begun constructing, or rather restoring, an airstrip within Syrian territory. The BBC in its report Syria conflict: ‘US expanding air strip’ in Kurdish north claimed:

Satellite imagery appearing to show the US expanding a formerly disused air strip in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria has been seen by the BBC. 

The images, from the security analysts Stratfor, show a runway near the town of Rmeilan being extended from 700m (half a mile) to 1.3km. 

That would make it more suitable for a larger aircraft such as a Hercules. 

A spokesman for the US Department of Defence said its small team in Syria needed “occasional logistical support”.

The US inviting itself into sovereign Syrian territory and creating a military base to supply its ground forces operating there without UN Security Council approval or invitation by the Syrian government sets a dangerous and unacceptable precedent. But assuming the United States has no interest in actually upholding the very international law it attempts to justify its numerous extraterritorial adventures with, what options does Syria have to head off what is a well-documented conspiracy to strip it of its own sovereign territory and expand from there toward Damascus itself?

The answer can be found in Qamishli, Syria, teetering near the Syrian border with Turkey and only 50 miles west of the US’ alleged airstrip in Rmeilan. Qamishli is the site of what is alleged to be a growing Russian presence, including a burgeoning airbase.

The International Business Times reported in their article US Forces Setting Up Base In Northern Syria Near Russian Forces In Qamishli Airfield: Report that:

…Russian experts had “arrived to explore” the Qamishli airport’s “readiness and to check what is needed to develop and use it” near the Turkish border. The report added that Russian warplanes were expected to use the airport in the “coming days and weeks.” Qamishli is located south of the Turkish border town of Nusaybin.

It would be the check to America’s latest, and perhaps final move in an overarching game the West has been sorely losing in Syria.

Check or Checkmate?

Russian forces, if they are indeed setting up in Qamishli, will establish a permanent bastion in Syria’s northeast. When inevitably Syrian forces cut off terrorists from their foreign supply routes and reestablish control over Syria’s largest cities back west, they will be able to reenter the northeast of their nation in force with Russian backing up to and including onto the doorstep of any illegal US occupation. There would be little the US could do to stop this, and no strategic or tactical means of “holding” territory already under the control of Syrian-Russian forces.

The US in this scenario is reduced to a trespasser coming up to an occupied house, unable to do anything else but leer through the window. While the US would surely be trampling the flowerbed outside the home, it would be unable to access anything of value within it.

Syria and Russia are displacing US ambitions to occupy Syria with physical forces that once in place will be difficult to remove. The US will come to the bargaining table with its “Syrian Democratic Forces” operating at the fringe of Syrian territory, with a Russian airbase standing between it and Syria’s interior. Meanwhile, the lion’s share of military victories against both Al Qaeda forces masquerading as the West’s “moderate fighters” and the “Islamic State” (IS) itself goes to Russia and Syria, not the US.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for the US and its allies to explain just what they are actually even doing in Syria besides perpetuating the war for as long as possible. It is clear that the only progress being made in Syria against the forces of extremism is being made by the long-chastised Syrian government and their Russian, Iranian, and Lebanese allies. It is also clear that remaining hurdles preventing the final restoration of peace and order in Syria is the US and its regional allies who insist on propping up armed groups opposed to the Syrian government, and direct threats and undermining by the US itself aimed at Damascus.

It should be abundantly clear that the US has lost the political war, the proxy war and now possibly checked in the “base war” as well. How much more the US wants to lose before withdrawing from yet another quagmire of its own creation depends on how much credibility the US believes it can still afford to lose as it pursues hegemony openly in front of an increasingly aware global public that has begun effectively fighting back.

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

The World Hates Trump – and the US Needs to Know

January 30th, 2016 by Salman Shaheen

Who the US elects is the world’s business, and our people and Parliament have every right to take a stand, argues Salman Shaheen

Everyone knows what Donald Trump thinks about the world. How he wants to build a wall to keep out the Mexicans, who he views largely as drug traffickers and rapists. How he wants to ban all Muslims from entering the US.

Extreme wealth, power and the platform afforded him by the US presidential race have beamed what would otherwise have remained the rantings of a backyard bigot into homes across the globe. Not surprisingly, a lot of people don’t much like what they hear. Moreover, they are terrified that they could be hearing the pronouncements of the soon-to-be most powerful person in the world.

Following Trump’s call to ban Muslims from the US a British petition to ban Trump from our shores swiftly attracted over half a million signatures, becoming the most popular government petition in British history and earning itself a debate in Parliament.

Despite the overwhelming revulsion MPs from across the political spectrum displayed towards Trump’s opinions, there was no vote. Of course, Britain was never actually going to approve a ban on a man with whom it may be forced into a special relationship next year. Nor should it. As a countryman of Trump’s once said, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Freedom of speech is vital. Trump is free to air his racist views and the world is free to call him to account for them.

Many Trump supporters expressed a range of emotions from bafflement to outright hostility when they heard another country’s parliament was debating the idea of banning their chosen rabble-rouser. In supporting last week’s debate on Russia Today, I was subjected to a number of outright racist comments from Trump’s tag-alongs. One said with a name like Salman Shaheen I couldn’t really be British — perhaps I too should release my birth certificate to silence the tin-hat birthers.

Trump himself called the campaign to ban him an “absurd waste of time.” Others said Britain has no right to comment on US internal affairs, that for MPs to pass judgement on what should be the preserve of the US democratic system was “neocolonialist paternalism.”

The debate was not a waste of time. And it is absolutely right that British politicians and people — and indeed people from all over the world — should voice their opinions on Trump. The US is the most powerful nation in the world. Who leads it and what they say and do affects us all.

We might not have a vote in November, but we will be profoundly affected nonetheless. Equally, a US president — especially one who may be prone to insulting half its population even before he’s dropped his first bomb — affects their country’s global standing.

Global opinion of the US fell sharply even among allies as George W Bush lit fires all over the Middle East. In 2000, 78 per cent of Germans held a favourable view of the US according to the Department of State. By Bush’s final year in office in 2008, this had fallen to just 33 per cent. The picture is similar in France, falling from 62 per cent to 42 per cent, and even in Britain it fell from 83 per cent to 53 per cent.

Turkey saw an even more marked decline, down from 52 per cent to 12 per cent, and at the starts of the Iraq war in 2003, only 1 per cent of Jordanians had a positive view of the US. Generally, global opinion of the US improved markedly once Barack Obama took office. It is, therefore, vital that in choosing their next president US voters consider his or her standing on the world stage.

And what is Trump’s standing? Unsurprisingly he has been universally condemned south of the border in Mexico, which, like Britain, is another key US partner. The nation’s newspapers rounded on him and its richest man, Carlos Slim, pulled the plug on a real estate project with Trump on the back of the Republican hopeful’s unflattering appraisal of Slim’s countrymen. In the aftermath, Trump pinatas experienced a surge in popularity.

North of the border, Canadians have been hanging their heads. “How could such a buffoon become the top candidate to lead the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower into the next election for US president?” wrote Marcus Gee of Canada’s Globe and Mail in August, as Trump was surging in the polls.

L Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s regional director for East Africa, describes him as “arrogant, crass and uneducated,” decrying his offensive views on immigrants and women and the support he enjoys from white supremacists.

In France he has been likened to former National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. And French Prime Minister Manuel Valls accused him of stoking hatred after his comments about banning Muslims from the US.

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s comments did little to endear him to Muslim nations. “Hate rhetoric” was how Egypt’s official religious body described Trump’s pronouncement. In Pakistan, another vital US ally, human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir accused him of bigotry and ignorance and said: “Although we are not as advanced as the US, we have never elected such people to power in Pakistan.” Even Benjamin Netanyahu — who has vigorously continued apartheid policies in Israel — condemned Trump’s remarks.

In a year’s time Trump could be the man with his finger on the nuclear button. Trump could have to negotiate an end to the Syrian civil war and a de-escalation of tensions with Russia. Trump could have to oversee the detentes with Cuba and Iran. Trump could have to work towards a lasting and equitable peace between Israel and Palestine. Trump could have to steer the global economy through the turbulent waters of China’s slowing growth. Can he be trusted to do this? At the end of the day, only US voters will decide. But they ignore the world’s opinion at their peril.

Salman Shaheen is editor-in-chief of The World Weekly. He has written for the Guardian, New Statesman and Huffington Post and is a regular commentator on current affairs on television and radio.

Behind Israel’s Campaign to Vilify Peace Groups

January 30th, 2016 by Jonathan Cook

Far-right activists spying on Israeli human rights community received hidden funds from Netanyahu government

Israeli government funds have been secretly transferred to far-right organisations leading a smear campaign against groups opposed to the occupation, a series of investigations show.

The rightwing groups have received tens of millions of dollars in state funding, either directly from the government or via Israeli local authorities representing the settlements in the West Bank.

In three known cases, publicly funded far-right organisations launched spying operations on human rights groups.

Other state money has gone towards ad campaigns claiming to expose peace activists as “moles”, planted by foreign governments to damage Israel.

Human rights activists, the campaigns claim, are betraying their country by providing information that fuels criticism overseas of Israel and helps to bolster an international boycott movement.

That message closely echoes the justifications offered by government ministers for new legislation to weaken Israeli organisations that monitor abuses of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

The United States and Europe have condemned the Israeli government’s draft bill, with the European Union describing an early version as “reminiscent of totalitarian regimes”.

“This is a campaign of intimidation and incitement, and it is being orchestrated at the highest levels of the Israeli political establishment,” said Yehuda Shaul, a former Israeli military commander and co-founder of Breaking the Silence, which collects testimonies from serving Israeli soldiers that highlight abuses of Palestinians.

Netanyahu and his ministers want to shut down all voices in Israel that oppose the occupation. They are doing what fascists always do – looking to blame an enemy within.

Activist ‘moles’

Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for B’Tselem, a prominent Israeli group monitoring human rights violations in the occupied territories, agreed.

“We are seeing a general assault by the government and right-wing groups on those parts of Israeli society that are still standing up for democratic values,” she said. “The aim is to silence us.”

Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem have been the target of intense criticism from both Netanyahu’s government and far-right groups.

One, Im Tirtzu, published a report last month accusing several anti-occupation groups of being “shtulim” – the Hebrew word for “moles” – on behalf of European governments.

An associated video shows a Palestinian stabbing with a knife and suggests that human rights groups like Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem will help him to evade justice.

Illustrated with face shots of four leading peace activists, it concludes: “While we fight terror, they fight us.”

“The government particularly fears Breaking the Silence because its testimonies show the army isn’t investigating evidence of brutality and wrongdoing by soldiers,” said Yossi Gurvitz, an Israeli analyst who has followed Im Tirtzu’s activities.

If soldiers are going unpunished, then that removes Israel’s basic defence against investigations from outside bodies like the International Criminal Court. It makes it more likely that soldiers will one day face war crimes trials.

Gurvitz added: “There is a clear pattern of Im Tirtzu being used as the government’s attack dog. It issues a report showing ‘traitors’ in our midst and then the government immediately announces a law to tackle the problem.”

Barred from schools

The release of Im Tirtzu’s video coincided with new government measures against Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem and other anti-occupation groups.

Last month the defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, described Breaking the Silence as “malicious” and barred it from access to army activities.

Shortly afterwards Naftali Bennett, the education minister and leader of the settler party Jewish Home, banned the group from schools.

“Lies and propaganda against the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] – not in our schools,” he said.

The justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, also from the Jewish Home party, has proposed a new bill, nicknamed the Transparency Law, that casts suspicion on Israel’s human rights community.

She has justified it on the grounds it would stop activists from “being used as a tool by foreign countries to implement their own policies”. Indicating that her goal is to muzzle such groups, she said the legislation would help to “limit the information that gets to foreign countries”.

Under pressure from the US and EU, Netanyahu insisted Shaked drop a provision that would have forced human rights groups to wear lobbyist badges on visits to the Israeli parliament.

However, the groups will still have to detail their funding sources in all reports and documents, and meetings with state officials, or face a fine.

Undercover filming

Collusion behind the scenes between far-right groups and the government has come to light in a series of investigations published in recent weeks.

Walla, an Israeli news website, published an investigation this month into Ad Kan, which recently issued video and audio recordings from spying operations on Breaking the Silence and Taayush, a loosely structured collective of anti-occupation activists.

Ad Kan is reported to have spent many months working undercover inside human rights organisations.

The group is funded by the Samaria Settlers’ Committee, which in turn is financed by the Samaria Regional Council, a large local authority for settlers living in the northern West Bank.

The council, much of whose budget comes from public coffers, includes some of the most extreme settlements in the occupied territories.

The same settlers’ committee made headlines last year when it produced an animated video that equated human rights activists in Israel with a “kapo”, a Jew who collaborated with guards in Nazi concentration camps.

This week it launched a new campaign urging Israeli Jews to boycott restaurants in Israel that abided last year by a one-day general strike called by the leadership of the country’s Palestinian minority.

Spying operation

A separate investigation this month by the liberal Haaretz daily revealed that Regavim, a state-funded group that tries to help settlers take over Palestinian land, had paid for a three-year spying operation, starting in 2010, against a prominent human rights lawyer.

Michael Sfard has been a legal adviser to several anti-occupation groups, including Breaking the Silence, Peace Now, which monitors settlement activity, and Yesh Din, which highlights violations of Palestinians’ rights.

According to Haaretz, a private detective hired by Regavim got hold of confidential documents from Sfard’s office, which eventually reached Im Tirtzu. They were later published in the Israeli media.

A newspaper article based on one document, from Yesh Din, claimed that the organisation was helping outside bodies to investigate Israeli soldiers for war crimes.

Gurvitz, who is also a researcher with Yesh Din, noted that many of the staff of the far-right groups were closely involved with government parties.

Regavim’s chief legal officer at the time of the spying operation was Bezalel Smotrich, now an MP for the governing Jewish Home party, which is pushing the legislation to weaken anti-occupation groups.

Undisclosed money

A separate investigation by Peace Now disclosed last month that nine far-right Israeli groups received income of nearly $150 million between 2006 and 2013. More than 93 per cent of the money was from undisclosed sources.

The donors, almost all from the US, are believed to include wealthy Jews, as well as Jewish foundations and fundamentalist Christian organisations that support the settlements.

However, Peace Now’s research also shows that the Israeli state funnelled some $25m into far-right organisations in that period, mostly through government ministries and local authorities. The sums were concealed under a category called “participations”.

Molad, an Israeli progressive think-tank, found in 2014 that the Netanyahu government had stepped up other forms of aid to far-right groups following the 2009 election.

The government transferred some $40m in special grants to the settlements but then required their local authorities to redirect most of the money to a private settler organisation, the Yesha Council, in apparent violation of Israeli law.

At the time of the decision, Naftali Bennett, now the leader of the Jewish Home party and the education minister, headed the Yesha Council.

Gag order

The rightwing ad campaigns, the spying operations and government and police responses have fuelled a climate of hostility towards peace activists.

Ad Kan’s footage of Taayush activist Ezra Nawi led to his arrest by police, as well as that of two other activists, an Israeli and a Palestinian. A draconian gag order meant no details of their cases could be reported for several days.

Nawi is recorded discussing how to foil an attempt by Jewish settlers to deceive a Palestinian landowner into selling his land.

In the film, he says he will report a Palestinian middleman working for the settlers to the Palestinian security forces. He adds that the man will be tortured and killed as a result.

The land seller appears to have been an impostor, part of a plot to entrap Nawi. No evidence has emerged so far that Nawi contacted the Palestinian authorities or that anyone was hurt.

According to his lawyers, he suspected a trap, but mistakenly thought he was being tested on whether he would help settlers to buy land. His statements were designed to prove his solidarity with Palestinians, they say.

This week Israeli courts ignored police requests for the activists’ continuing detention in jail and released the three men to house arrest.

Ad Kan’s other recording is of a private meeting organised by Breaking the Silence, to which a former senior Israeli diplomat, Alon Liel, was invited.

Liel tells the activists that Israel’s political establishment is a “lost cause” and recommends that they shift their struggle to international forums, such as the United Nations.

Ad Kan and other rightwing organisations have hailed the clip as confirmation that human rights groups are traitors, working with foreign powers to damage Israel.

Government officials have also drawn a comparison between human rights organisations and violent settler groups responsible for attacking Palestinians.

Bennett, the education minister, equated “radical leftists” like Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem to settlers accused of setting fire to a home in the Palestinian village of Duma last summer that killed three members of a family, including an 18-month-old baby.

He said both sides were “exactly the same” and “want to bring down the building around us”.

Death threats

Shaul, of Breaking the Silence, said the group’s activists were now facing sustained harassment. “We have hate mail and there have been physical threats to people’s lives.”

Gurvitz said the many Israelis supported the government’s position, but that Im Tirtzu may have gone too far with an ad campaign this week.

It accused many of Israel’s leading cultural figures, including novelists Amos Oz and David Grossman, of also being “moles”.

Faced with a public backlash and accusations of McCarthyism, Ronen Shoval, Im Tirtzu’s founder, posted comments online defending Joseph McCarthy, the notorious US Senator who led witch-hunts against those he suspected of being Communists.

Shoval said: “The historical details revealed that in most cases, he [McCarthy] was correct.”

Netanyahu quickly distanced himself from Im Tirtzu: “I object to the use of the term ‘traitor’ for those who don’t agree with me, but at the same time I oppose Breaking the Silence that slander[s] Israel abroad.”

Im Tirtzu and Regavim were unavailable for comment.

 

central-banks-economy 2Negative Interest Rates Show “Desperation” of Central Banks

By Washington’s Blog, January 30 2016

Japan has joined the EU, Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden in imposing negative interest rates.

investing economy stocksSeven Years of Monetary Quackery; Can the Federal Reserve Admit It Was Wrong?

By Mike Whitney, January 30 2016

America’s richest investors are betting trillions of dollars that the US economy will stay lousy for years to come. Who are these wealthy investors? Bondholders.

The Keynesian Revolution and the Neo-liberal Counter-revolutionThe Keynesian Revolution and the Neo-Liberal Counter-Revolution

By Eric Toussaint, January 30 2016

As a result of the depression of the 1920s and 1930s, a new wave of critics tackled the neo-classical creed on a largely pragmatic basis. This new wave was international and involved political leaders and economists from differing belonging to various currents backgrounds…

By Bill Holter, January 29 2016

Every once in a while it is a good thing to review something we already know and have known for quite a while.  What we’re talking about are derivatives and the very basics of how they work… or not.

syrizaSyriza and the Greek Debt Crisis: Austerity Unbroken

By Jannis Milios and Alp Kayserilioglu, January 29 2016

Athens-based journalist Alp Kayserilioğlu recently sat down with Milios to discuss the history of Syriza, the purpose of the eurozone, and the power of the country’s domestic bourgeoisie.

Negative Interest Rates Show “Desperation” of Central Banks

January 30th, 2016 by Washington's Blog

Japan has joined the EU, Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden in imposing negative interest rates.

Indeed, more than a fifth of the world’s GDP is now covered by a central bank with negative interest rates.

The Wall Street Journal notes:

TOKYO—Japan’s central bank stunned the markets Friday by setting the country’s first negative interest rates, in a desperate attempt to keep the economy from sliding back into the stagnation that has dogged it for much of the last two decades.

BBC writes:

The country is desperate to increase spending and investment.

***

Japan has been desperate to boost consumer spending for years. At one point it even issued shopping vouchers to stimulate demand.

 

Image: MarketWatch

The New York Times writes:

Moving to negative rates reflects a measure of desperation on the part of central banks.Their traditional tools have been largely exhausted, as most countries’ interest rates have been pushed to almost nothing.

MarketWatch’s senior markets writer, William Watts, notes:

This might not be the sort of capitulation stock-market investors were anticipating.

The Bank of Japan’s surprise decision Friday to start charging depositors for parking excess reserves at the central bank triggered a global equity rally. But several monetary policy watchers and market strategists worried that the move was an acknowledgment that the world’s central banks are running out of ammunition in the battle against deflation.

“This is an interesting move that looks a lot more like desperation or novelty than it looks like a program meant to make a real difference,” said Robert Brusca, chief economist at FAO Economics.

Kit Juckes, global macro strategist at Société Générale, underlined the moment in a note to clients:

“First of all, forget the details, feed on the symbolism. Germany, Switzerland and Japan, the three great current account powers of the post-Bretton Woods era, whose surpluses have financed the frivolity of baby boomer Anglo-Saxons, are being told in no uncertain terms to stop saving.”

Whether the strategy works or not is less important than what the decision says about global disinflationary forces, he said, which have forced the central banks to “set off on this path…following a trail of breadcrumbs as they head for the gingerbread house.”

***

But others worry that the move underlines a degree of desperation and a sense that the asset purchases at the heart of global quantitative-easing strategies are running up against some important limits.

***

Daiwa economists and others expect the Bank of Japan to remain under pressure to ease further. And when push comes to shove, the bank will be likely to push rates further into negative territory rather than ramp up asset purchases.

“Ultimately, negative interest rates from a veteran of monetary expansion such as the BOJ mark a capitulation about the effectiveness of QE alone as an inflation-targeting tool in world of lingering growth-debt imbalances and commodity price wars,” said Lena Komileva, economist at G-plus Economics, in emailed comments.

***

Banks will presumably move their deposit rates below zero in response ….

Likewise, Bloomberg previously noted of the initiation of negative rates in the EU:

Negative interest rates are a sign of desperation, a signal that traditional policy options have proved ineffective and new limits need to be explored. They punish banks that hoard cash instead of extending loans to businesses or to weaker lenders.

And negative rates will eventually come to America.

Central bankers are implementing negative interest rates to force savers to buy assets … so as to artificially stimulate the economy. Specifically:

A negative interest rate means the central bank and perhaps private banks will charge negative interest: instead of receiving money on deposits, depositors must pay regularly to keep their money with the bank. This is intended to incentivize banks to lend money more freely and businesses and individuals to invest, lend, and spend money rather than pay a fee to keep it safe.

Next up: The war on cash.

Postscript: Ironically, the Fed has gone to great lengths to DISCOURAGE banks from lending to Main Street.

Farcical Syrian “Peace Talks”: Dead on Arrival

January 30th, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

Talks are orchestrated to fail. Mainstream and much alternative media misreporting continues calling five years of US naked aggression against a nation threatening no one a “civil war.”

There’s nothing “civil” about it. Syria was invaded, Washington using ISIS and other terrorist groups, enlisting fighters from scores of countries.

Obama didn’t wage war to quit. He wants regime change, Assad and loyalists around him ousted, an Israeli rival eliminated, Iran isolated, pro-Western puppet governance installed, Syria transformed into a US-controlled vassal state, likely balkanized for easier controlled, its people ruthlessly exploited.

Obama bears full responsibility for genocidal mass slaughter, horrific destruction, cities, towns and villages turned to rubble, the severest refugee crisis since WW II from all US post-9/11 imperial wars.

How can there be peace in Syria when achieving it defeats Washington’s agenda?

How is conflict resolution possible with US/Saudi-backed terrorist groups, cutthroat killers responsible for horrific atrocities, largely representing the opposition?

It’s unclear if they intend coming or if showing up will be their tactic to make nonnegotiable, impossible to agree on, demands, not engage in serious talks.

It appears Washington, key NATO partners, Israel and Saudi-led Gulf States orchestrated a farcical scenario, fantasy talks doomed to fail, Assad wrongfully blamed.

Arab League/UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura represents them. His Friday comments weren’t reassuring, saying:

The (Saudi-backed) High Negotiations Committee (HNC terrorist groups) decided to participate in the Geneva talks after receiving American and United Nations guarantees.

What precisely he didn’t explain or if “participation” means showing up to subvert talks. Security Council Res. 2254 is the agreed on format.

It calls for opposing sides to convene in January under UN auspices – initiating a political process toward establishing “inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months by Syrians alone.

The aim is drafting a new constitution (likely not much different from the overwhelmingly approved current one in February 2012 by national referendum), as well as holding new elections in 18 months.

Mistura saying he “has good reasons to believe (the HNC is) actually considering (coming) very seriously” to enable “discussions” to begin Sunday doesn’t indicate he’s sure of anything – let alone what’ll happen going forward under conditions as they unfold.

At best, whoever shows up (if anyone) representing the HNC won’t negotiate, only talk to UN officials – insisting Russian and Syrian anti-terrorism targeting ceases, including against towns held hostage by ISIS and other terrorist groups, demands made to subvert, not facilitate discussions.

The New York Times disgracefully characterized their demands as “press(ing) their humanitarian case to the public,” calling cold-blooded killers “moderates,” ignoring their barbarism, operating as US proxies, waging terror war, committing high crimes against peace.

US/Saudi-backed HNC terrorists are headed by Syrian traitor Riad Hijab, serving as coordinator. He lied, calling talks “a Russian and Iranian” plot, “a disaster for the region.”

Washington, Turkey and Saudi Arabia conspired to prohibit Syrian PYD Kurds from participating, their fighters playing a key role against terrorist groups in northern areas.

Russia calls restoring peace and stability to Syria impossible without their involvement, Sergey Lavrov saying:

How can we talk about political reforms in Syria, ignoring the leading Kurdish party, quite a mighty power that, by the way, actively opposes terrorism on the ground, including ISIS?

“Not inviting this group (is) a most serious mistake,” a deliberate effort to subvert talks before they begin.

De Mistura represents Western and Saudi-led regional interests, not what’s best for long-suffering Syrians.

His orchestrated talks are a prescription for failure.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

 

Despite the catastrophic effects of the 2011 military intervention, momentum seems to be growing among western governments for further air strikes in Libya, this time against ISIS.

When asked by the Telegraph last month if Libya could be the next target for British military intervention, a British Government source said: “Things are moving in that direction. We are taking it one step at a time.”  Military sources subsequently briefed the media that US and British Special Forces were in Libya gathering intelligence to prepare for a possible deployment of up to 6,000 US and European troops (this despite the oft-repeated line ‘we never talk about Special Forces’).  More recently, the New York Times reported that surveillance flights over Libya were to be stepped up and US diplomats and officials have been meeting with European and North African governments to ask them to join a new coalition against ISIS in Libya.

Unity Government

These military and diplomatic moves coincide with an international push to persuade various factions within Libya to form a new unity government.  The new government is intended to replace the two governments already vying for control: the internationally recognised government, the House of Representatives, based in Tobruk in the northeast, and the General National Congress, based in Tripoli in the northwest.  It appears that once the unity government is installed, it will call for security assistance which will then give legal cover for strikes against ISIS.

NATO bombing of Sirte, Libya in 2011

NATO bombing of Sirte, Libya in 2011

The UN-brokered deal to set up a unity government, signed at Skhirat in Morocco in December, created a Presidential Council – based in Tunisia – which will form a Government of National Accord.  However, this week the House of Representatives the current recognised government has rejected the new government put forward by the Presidential Council.  This has caused huge consternation and there will now be enormous pressure brought to bear to ensure they back down and accept a new government.

Libya_map-15b

However, even if the moves to form a new unity government fail (and there is then no subsequent call for security assistance) it is likely that US would still push for military intervention.  Last week General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated the need for “decisive military action” against ISIS in Libya.  The Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, while arguing that the forming of a unity government was still the priority, signalled that even if this failed military action should take place:

If in a few months we will sombrely have to admit that the Libyans have renounced this scenario then surely an anti-Isis coalition such as the one in Iraq and Syria will have to be formed…

Drones over Derna

Although the push for military intervention in Libya against ISIS has ratcheted up since the Paris attacks, US military operations have been on-going in Libya, with US drones flying over the country since the end of the NATO intervention.  In 2013, the Libyan government reportedly came under “intense American pressure” to allow drones strikes against Al Qaeda in the east of the country.  Although permission was refused, drone surveillance flights continued and the US has recently been seeking to locate its drones nearer to Libya so they can have even more time over the country.  Last year, photographs purporting to show a crashed Predator drone in Libya circulated on social media and US military reported one of its had drones ditched in the Mediterranean after it encountered problems flying on “a mission in Africa.”

The Italian air force have also operated its Reaper drones – based in Amendola in Southern Italy –  over Libya.  Publicly at least we know about flights during the NATO intervention in 2011 and more recently during the evacuation of the Italian embassy in February 2015.  In November 2015 the US agreed to Italy’s request to arm its Reaper drones.

Other US intervention in Libya post-2011

But it’s not just drones that have been active over Libya.  In October 2013, US Special Forces entered Libya to capture Al Qaeda suspect Anas al Libi.  He was subsequently charged with terrorism offenses but died in prison before standing trial. A few months later in June 2014, the US undertook another raid and captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, wanted in connection with the attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

Last year the US launched two bombing raids in Libya to kill specific individuals.  In June, two US F-15 flew from the UK on a mission to kill Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian veteran jihadist. The F-15s dropped “multiple 500-pound bombs” on a building outside the Libyan town of Ajdabiya, reportedly killing seven men in the strike but leaving Belmokhtar alive. In November– coincidentally on the same day as the ISIS attack in Paris – a further bombing raid targeted Abu Nabil, named as the ISIS leader in Libya. In December, photographs of US Special Forces arriving at Wattiya airbase in Libya appeared. The Pentagon confirmed the deployment but stated (apparently with a straight face) that the US forces had subsequently left Libya “to avoid conflict”

Insanity

Einstein’s aphorism as to the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results undoubtedly applies to the US military interventions in Iraq and Libya. The actions to topple Saddam Hussein and Mummar Gaddafi, supposedly to enhance the safety and security of their populations and the world beyond, failed spectacularly.

Rather than accepting the failure of military intervention, it’s argued that the Iraq mission failed because western forces stayed too long, while the Libya mission failed because western forces did not stay long enough.  The denials and buck-passing by those responsible (witness the recent cross-examination of former British ministers about the 2011 Libyan intervention and its disastrous aftermath by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee) is embarrassing.

No one doubts the real threat of ISIS to the people of Iraq, Libya and beyond.  Yet no one can doubt that ISIS was in part created by the US intervention in Iraq (as even arch-military interventionist Tony Blair accepts) and had no presence in Libya before the NATO intervention of 2011.

The alternative to such military intervention is to undertake real and lasting political change that addresses the underlying problem of global political and economic inequality which feeds terrorism and insecurity. But calls for such structural changes are rejected and resisted by those who benefit from the current system, in favour of ‘bombing the bad guys’ – lidism as Professor Paul Rogers rightly describes it.  Such a strategy, as we have seen over the past 25 years does far more harm than good.  And is only likely to do so again.

France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, has warned that letting the status quo continue, risks killing of a two-state solution and playing into the hands of ISIS, the Islamic State militants.

The expansion of settlements in the Occupied Territories by Israel has already been described by U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, as “provocative acts” that highlight serious questions about Israel’s claimed commitment to a two-state solution.

Fabius has previously called for an international support group comprising the Arab League, the European Union and U.N. Security Council members that would essentially force Israel to a genuine negotiating position that would end occupation.

However, despite genuine anger in the U.S. administration over Israel’s continuing, illegal settlement policy, there is little prospect of U.S. President Barack Obama supporting any initiative that could upset the U.S. Israel lobby less than a year before a general election.

That is because it is not the White House that decides US foreign policy but AIPAC, the Zionist lobby, that has such a disproportionate in uence over Congress, that determines what action, or non-action, the President should take.

It’s called, ‘democracy American style’, whereby non-elected political activists, predominately financed by casino profits, determine what position America and the world should take regarding Israel and the Middle East.  A frightening scenario that France, for one, is determined to no longer accept.

It is to be hoped that all other 27 EU member states will follow France’s example.

(Originally published in July 2009)

As a result of the depression of the 1920s and 1930s, a new wave of critics tackled the neo-classical creed on a largely pragmatic basis. This new wave was international and involved political leaders and economists from differing belonging to various currents backgrounds: enlightened bourgeois thinkers, socialists and Marxists. In a context of mass unemployment and depression, proposals came forward for major public works, for anti-cyclical injections of public money, and even for bank expropriations. Such proposals came from a wide variety of sources: Germany’s Doctor Schacht; the Belgian socialist Deman; the founders of the Stockholm School, backed by the Swedish social democrats; Fabian socialists and J.M. Keynes in Britain; J. Tinbergen in the Netherlands; Frisch in Norway; the Groupe X-crise in France; Mexican president Lazaro Cardenas (1935-1940); adepts of Peronism in the Argentina of the 1930s; US president Roosevelt (elected in November 1932) and his New Deal.

The entire range of proposals and pragmatic policies was partially summed up in Keynes’s 1936 work General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.

The Keynesian revolution

The preparatory work carried out by Keynes (1883-1946), laying the groundwork for the General Theory, was fuelled by the need to find a solution to the spreading crisis of the capitalist system. Moreover, this solution had to be compatible with the continued survival of the system. The work was partially the result of a wide-ranging collective process wherein groups and individuals ended up in different Keynesian camps, often very much at odds with one another. Some leaned more towards Marxist positions, such as the Briton Joan Robinson and the Pole M. Kalecki, who had actually formulated the key components of the General Theory before Keynes. Others grew progressively closer to the very tenets of liberalism and neo-classical economics that Keynes decried.

In one of his works, Keynes pays homage to the English philosopher George Edward Moore, whom he credits with having freed him from the prevailing morality of the day and having ‘protected us all from that final reductio ad absurdum of Benthamism known as Marxism’[2].

Keynes had been politically active since the First World War. As an employee of the British Exchequer, he actively participated in negotiations on the Treaty of Versailles, which marked the end of the War in 1918. He resigned from the British delegation in protest against the scale of reparations imposed on Germany. Soon after, he wrote The economic consequences of the peace (Keynes, 1919).

In the 1926 pamphlet The end of laissez-faire, he writes: ‘It is in no way accurate to deduce from the principles of political economy that enlightened personal interest always works in favour of the general interest[3]‘.

In the 1920s, Keynes condemned the policies of Winston Churchill’s Tory government. He opposed the liberal (neo-classical) policies that provoked the miners’ strike, followed by the 1926 general strike.

Thereafter, he called for a policy of major public investment. He supported the Liberal Party while maintaining friendly ties with the Labour Party. In 1929, in the wake of Tory and the liberals’ defeat, the new Labour government appointed him to the McMillan Commission on the economic situation. In 1930, he became an advisor to the same government.

The economic crisis deepened following the 1929 Wall Street crash, leading Keynes to produce an analysis of employment, interest and money which strengthened his conviction that there should be increased state intervention. To compensate for the shortfall in demand, the state should increase spending in order to give a boost to the economy and employment.

Thereafter he became involved in a major debate with Hayek. Although, like Keynes, Hayek had come to reject a number of the ideas of Smith, Ricardo, Walras and Jevons, with Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) he fashioned a set of ultraliberal ideas which fiercely opposed (standing in fierce opposition to) the main tenets of the Keynesian revolution.

Whereas Keynes and his fellow economists were convinced that the Great Depression had been caused by the collapse in investment, Hayek and his supporters saw over-investment rooted in slack monetary policies as the cause. For Keynes, consumption and investment had to be sparked by strong state intervention. For Hayek, state intervention reduced the funds available for private investment. For Keynes, wages had to be increased to stimulate consumption. For Hayek, they had to be lowered to ensure renewed full employment. The debate (polemic) hit the pages of the British press in 1932 (Times, 17 and 19 October 1932).

Keynes believed that economic policy should be geared towards reducing the high unemployment rate and distributing revenues in a more egalitarian manner. If the government did not pursue the objectives of full employment and greater equality, he argued, there was a serious danger that either fascism or Bolshevik communism would win the day. Government policy had to be aimed at reducing high interest rates, which channelled vital resources into the financial sector. By lowering interest rates, the aim was to favour the destruction of the rentier class (living on unearned income), the scourge of the capitalist system. At the same time, however, Keynes states quite clearly that the consequences of his theory are ‘moderately liberal’:

‘[...] while it highlights the vital importance of establishing certain central controls in fields that today remain completely in the hands of private initiative, it also leaves a great many fields of activity in private hands [...] It does not actually call for a system of state socialism that would subject most of the community’s economic life to its control[4].

Keynes’s prescriptions were put into practice in many regions of the world right up until the 1970s. They also strongly influenced a number of economists, such as Samuelson, Galbraith, Tobin and Prebisch.

Preparing the neo-liberal counter-revolution

There was a swift reaction to the policies of state intervention aimed at boosting demand and moving towards full employment. From the beginning of the 1930s, Hayek and von Mises set out to demolish Keynes’s proposals.

‘Since 1945, in various academic and business circles, different projects have emerged simultaneously to bring together the qualified defenders of liberalism (neo-classical economics) with the aim of organising a joint response to the advocates of state intervention and socialism. Three centres where this post-War resistance was organised were: the Institut universitaire de hautes études internationales (IUHEI) in Geneva, the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of Chicago[5]‘.

At the end of the Second World War, Hayek was teaching at the LSE. In 1947, he and Von Mises founded the Société du Mont-Pèlerin. The first meeting was held in April 1947 and brought together 36 liberal luminaries at the Hôtel du Parc at Mont-Pèlerin near Vevey in Switzerland. The gathering was financed by Swiss bankers and industrialists. Three major US publications (Fortune, Newsweek and Reader’s Digest) sent delegates. In fact, Reader’s Digest had just run an abridged version of one of Hayek’s main works, The Road to Serfdom. Among other things, that book said:

‘In the past, man’s submission to the impersonal forces of the market made possible the development of a civilisation which otherwise would not have emerged. It is through submission that we participate everyday in the building of something much bigger than what we can all fully understand[6]‘.

Right-wing economists and philosophers from different ‘schools of thought’ participated in the gathering.

‘At the end of the meeting, the Société du Mont-Pèlerin was founded – a kind of neo-liberal Freemasonry, very well organised and devoted to the dissemination of the neo-liberal creed, with regular international gatherings[7]‘.

Among the organisation’s most active members were Hayek, von Mises, Maurice Allais, Karl Popper and Milton Friedman. It became a think tank for the neo-liberal counter-offensive. Many of its members went on to win the Nobel Prize in economics (Hayek in 1974, Friedman in 1976 and Allais in 1988).

Bibliography 

Adda, Jacques. 1996. La Mondialisation de l’économie, 1 et 2, La Découverte, « Repères », Paris, 2000, 125 p. et 126 p.

Anderson, Perry. 1996. « Histoire et leçons du néo-libéralisme: La construction d’une voie unique », Page Deux, octobre 1996.

Beaud, Michel et Dostaler, Gilles. 1993. La Pensée économique depuis Keynes, Seuil, Paris, 1996, 444p.

Dewey, John. 1935. « The Future of Liberalism », The Journal of Philosophy, XXII, N°9, p. 225-230.

Friedman, Milton. 1970. The Counter-Revolution in Monetary Theory, London of Economic Affairs.

Greenspan, Alan. 2007. The age of turbulence: Adventures in a new world. Penguin Books Edition, 2007.

Hayek von, Friedrich August. 1944. The Road to Serfdom, Routledge Press, UK

Keynes, John. M. 1936. The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, MacMillan, London, 1964, 403 p.

Malthus, Thomas-Robert. 1798. An essay on the principle of population , J Johnson, Paris.

Marx, Karl. 1867. Capital, Volume I, Penguin Classics, 1993.

Marx, Karl. 1869-1879. Capital, Volume II, Penguin Classics, 1993. Capital Volume III, Penguin Classics, 1993.

Prebisch, Raúl. 1981. Capitalismo periférico, Crisis y transformación, Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico, 1984, 344 p.

Ricardo, David. 1817. On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, 1950, Cambridge University Press, London

Smith, Adam. 1776. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. http://www.adamsmith.org/smith/

Tobin, J. 1978. « A Proposal for International Monetary Reform », The Eastern Economic Journal, juillet-octobre 1978.

Tobin, J. et autres. 1995a. « Two cases for sand in the wheels of internatio­nal finance », in « Policy forum: sand in the wheels of international finance », The Economic Journal, 105, janvier 1995.

Udry, Charles-André. 1996. “Los Origenes del neoliberalismo: F von Hayek : el apostol del neoliberalismo”, Desde los Cuatro Puntos, n°1, Mexico, 1997.

Zinn, Howard. 1966. New Deal Thought, Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis, 2003, 431 p.

Translated by Vicki Briault, Francesca Denley and Raghu Krishnan.

Notes

[1] The first part of this series ‘A Glance in the Rear View Mirror to Understand the Present’ was posted on the CADTM website on 12 June 2009 under the title ‘Adam Smith is closer to Karl Marx than to those who sing his praise’
http://www.cadtm.org/spip.php?article4462;
was posted on June 13th under the title: “Neo-liberal ideology is a hard nut to crack”
http://www.cadtm.org/spip.php?article4468
the third part was posted on the 19 June 2009 : ˝The 1930s to the 1970s: liberalism eclipsed”
http://www.cadtm.org/spip.php?article4495;
the fourth part was posted on the 25th June 2009: “The 1970s: Liberal ideology returned with a vengeance”
http://www.cadtm.org/spip.php?article4508

[2] Quoted in Beaud and Dostaler, 1995, p.37

[3] Quoted in Beaud and Dostaler, 1995, p.40.

[4] Keynes, 1936, Final Notes, Spanish ed p 362

[5] Udry, 1996

[6] Von Hayek, 1944

[7] Anderson, 1996

John Whitaker, executive director of Midwest Food Bank, carries a case of water that was donated to Flint residents on January 27. CREDIT: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget decided to haul water coolers into the Flint state building in January of 2015 out of concern over the city’s water quality, a year before bottled water was being made available to residents, according to documents obtained by Progress Michigan.

Flint switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River in April 2014, which is now known to have caused lead to leach into the city’s tap water. After two boil advisories were issued in August and September of 2014, the city sent residents a notice that the level of trihalomethanes (TTHMs), which can cause liver and kidney problems, had exceed federal limits, although they were told that it was still fine to use the water and no corrective actions needed to be taken.

But concerns raised over water quality were enough for officials in the state’s capitol of Lansing to decide to give state employees the option to drink bottled water from coolers, rather than from water fountains. Coolers were placed next to the fountains on each occupied floor, according to the documents, and were to be provided “as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements.”

facility notificationCREDIT: Progress Michigan

For residents, however, it took researchers uncovering elevated levels of lead in children’s bloodstreams for a lead advisory to finally be issued in September of 2015. Residents were told not to drink the water and a public health emergency was declared by the Genesee County Health Department in October, and Flint’s mayor declared a state of emergency in December. The National Guard was activated in January of this year to distribute water from five fire stations — a full year after water was brought in for state employees out of concern over water quality.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), whose administration some have said made the decision to switch to the Flint River, has claimed he didn’t know about the water problems until recently. But the plan to use that source was evaluated and rejected by the city’s emergency manager in 2012, according to a deposition. And while the purported reason for making the change in the first place was to save money while another pipeline was being built, leaked emails show that the city could have stayed with Detroit’s water and saved the same amount of money anyway.

 

‘We are the Miner’s Canary’: Indigenous Organizations Call for Clean Up of ‘Homegrown’ Radioactive Pollution Crisis.

NOTE: The final event will be a panel discussion at Georgetown University, Friday, January 29 from 6 to 8 pm at the White Gravenor Building, Room 211. This event is free and open to the public. Georgetown University is located at 37th and O Sts NW Washington, DC.

On Thursday, January 28 at 12:30 PM, representatives of Indigenous organizations from the Southwest, Northern Great Plains, and supporters called for “no nukes” in a protest addressing radioactive pollution caused by 15,000 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) posing a toxic threat in the US. The demonstration was held at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters to call for immediate clean up of these hazardous sites, protection of Indigenous sacred areas from uranium mining, and for intervention in communities where drinking water is poisoned with radioactive contamination. The groups charged that the EPA has been negligent in addressing these toxic threats that severely threaten public health, lands, and waterways.

Protest at the EPA, Jan. 28, 2016. All photos by Eli Laliberte, Konnected.tv.

Protest at the EPA, Jan. 28, 2016. All photos by Eli Laliberte, Konnected.tv.

Charmaine White Face speaks in front of the EPA.

Charmaine White Face speaks in front of the EPA.

“Native American nations of North America are the miners’ canaries for the United States trying to awaken the people of the world to the dangers of radioactive pollution”, said Charmaine White Face from the South Dakota based organization Defenders of the Black Hills.

South Dakota has 272 AUMs which are contaminating waterways such as the Cheyenne River and desecrating sacred and ceremonial sites. An estimated 169 AUMs are located within 50 miles of Mt. Rushmore where millions of tourists risk exposure to radioactive pollution each year.

Indigenous communities have been disproportionately impacted as approximately 75% of AUMs are located on federal and Tribal lands. A majority of AUMs are located in 15 western states with the potential to impact more than 50 million people.

Harold One Feather speaks at the US Forestry Service.

Harold One Feather speaks at the US Forestry Service.

Outside of the EPA headquarters the groups chanted, “Radioactive Pollution Kills!”, “No More Churchrock Spill, No More Fukushima!”, and “Clean Nuclear is a deadly lie!” in response to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan which they state promotes nuclear energy.Out of 272 AUMs in South Dakota only one, the Riley Pass Mine located on US Forest Service held lands, has been cleaned up but the process has been called inadequate and concerns were raised about the reclamation budget. “My concern is how with the balance remaining from a $179 million mine reclamation settlement, the USFS says that local affected communities will be able to use the remainder on community projects and training to replace uses of the Grand River, which flows into Missouri River. The river is destroyed through this act of radioactive genocide.” stated Harold One Feather, a member of Defenders of the Black Hills, “After discussing the $179M Tronox settlement for the Riley Pass Uranium Mine Reclamation, the US Forest Service said the affected communities can submit budgets to use up any remaining balance after mine reclamation.”

1epabanner

A massive banner stating “Radioactive Pollution Kills” with the image of a Miner’s Canary and radioactive warning symbol was dropped inside the EPA headquarters.

From January 25-28, Clean Up The MinesDefenders of the Black HillsDiné No NukesLaguna and Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment & Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, and Indigenous World Alliance, met members of congress, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, DC.

The Clean Up The Mines! campaign is focused on passing the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act that would ensure clean up of all AUMs. The act was submitted as a draft to Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D–AZ) two years ago but has yet to be introduced to Congress.

Petuuche Gilbert speaks at the US Forestry Service.

Petuuche Gilbert speaks at the US Forestry Service.

Currently, no comprehensive law, regardless of mining era, requires clean-up of all these dangerous abandoned uranium mines allowing corporations and the federal government to walk away without taking responsibility for the continuing harms they have caused.

“This is an invisible national crisis. Millions of people in the United States are being exposed as Nuclear Radiation Victims on a daily basis.” said Mrs. White Face, “Exposure to radioactive pollution has been linked to cancer, genetic defects, Navajo Neuropathy, and increases in mortality. We are protesting the EPA today because we believe that as more Americans become aware of this homegrown radioactive pollution, then something can be done to protect all peoples and the environment. In the meetings we had in DC, not only were AUMs discussed, but we also talked about radioactive pollution from coal dust, coal smoke, and in water.Currently, no comprehensive law, regardless of mining era, requires clean-up of all these dangerous abandoned uranium mines allowing corporations and the federal government to walk away without taking responsibility for the continuing harms they have caused.

These show a need for amendments to the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.” said Mrs. White Face.

Petuuche Gilbert outside the EPA.

Petuuche Gilbert outside the EPA.

The groups addressed extreme water contamination, surface strip coal mining and power plants burning coal-laced with radioactive particles, radioactive waste from oil well drilling in the Bakken Oil Range, mill tailings, waste storage, and renewed mining threats to sacred places such as Mt. Taylor in New Mexico.

“The U.S. is violating its own Executive Orders and laws intended to protect areas sacred to Native American people on public lands by applying the General Mining Act of 1872.” Petuuche Gilbert of the Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment & President of the Indigenous World Association, “The U.S is discriminating against Indigenous peoples when it permits mining on these lands. Specifically, the U.S. is violating: Executive Order 13007, Executive 13175, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Leona Morgan of Diné No Nukes.

Leona Morgan of .

“With adherence to out-dated, racist policies promoting colonialism, such as the 1872 mining law,Indigenous peoples across the country will continue to be oppressed, and we will continue to demand that our land be returned and restored to its original condition, to that of before the colonization by the United States,” stated Leona Morgan of Diné No Nukes. “The United Nuclear Corporation mill tailings spill of 1979, north of Churchrock, New Mexico left an immense amount of radioactive contamination that down-streamers, today, are currently receiving in their drinking water. A mostly-Navajo community in Sanders, Arizona has been exposed to twice the legal limit allowable for uranium through their tap–this is criminal!” said Morgan.Diné No Nukes is a collective focused on educating the general Navajo population about the issues created by US Atomic Energy Commission, as well as ongoing and new threats from the nuclear industry.

Tommy Rock of Diné No Nukes

Tommy Rock of Diné No Nukes

Tommy Rock, a member of Diné No Nukes and graduate student from the state of Arizona stated that the water crisis in Flint, Michigan was extremely similar to a crisis near the Navajo Nation in Sanders, AZ. “The regulatory agencies are responding by sending the Army National Guard to provide bottle water for the community of Flint. However, the small community of Sanders which is also predominantly an Indigenous community that is off the reservation are not receiving the same response from the state regulatory agency or the state legislatures and the media,” stated Rock who worked on a recent study that uncovered levels of uranium in the drinking water system of residents and an elementary school in Sanders that violated the drinking water standard for uranium. Rock continues, “The same can be said about two Lakota reservations. They are Pine Ridge and Rock Creek, Standing Rock Reservation that have not received any assistance from regulatory agencies. This exemplifies the inconsistency among the US EPA regions about responding to Indigenous communities compared to non-Indigenous populations which are facing the same issue regarding access to safe drinking water.”

Mr. Rock called for the community of Sanders to be included in the second Navajo Nation 5-Year Clean-Up Plan and an amendment to the Clean Water Act. “Another issue around water is the mining industry is contaminating the rivers. They are disregarding the Clean Water Act because the act does not address radionuclides. This needs to be amended so the policy can enforce that companies be accountable for their degradation to the watershed areas. This can also be beneficial to US EPA because they do not have the funds to clean every contaminated river by the mining industry and other commercial industry,” stated Mr. Rock.

“These uranium mines cause radioactive contamination, and as a result all the residents in their vicinity are becoming nuclear radiation victims,” states Petuuche Gilbert, a member of the Acoma Nation, LACSE, MASE, and IWA. “New Mexico and the federal government have provided little funding for widespread clean up and only occasionally are old mines remediated. The governments of New Mexico and the United States have a duty to clean up these radioactive mines and mills and, furthermore, to perform health studies to determine the effects of radioactive poisoning. The MASE and LACSE organizations oppose new uranium mining and demand legacy uranium mines to be cleaned up,” said Mr. Gilbert.

The delegation was supported by Piscataway Nation and DC area organizations such as Nipponzan Myohoji Temple, Popular Resistance, Movement Media, La Casa, NIRS, & the Peace House.“In 2015 the Gold King Mine spill was a wake-up call to address dangers of abandoned mines, but there are currently more than 15,000 toxic uranium mines that remain abandoned throughout the US”, said Ms. White Face. “For more than 50 years, many of these hazardous sites have been contaminating the land, air, water, and national monuments such as Mt. Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. Each one of these thousands of abandoned uranium mines is a potential Gold King mine disaster with the greater added threat of radioactive pollution. For the sake of our health, air, land, & water, we can’t let that happen.”

Washington wants Russia marginalized, weakened, destabilized, contained and isolated, transformed into another US vassal state.

On Friday, RT International quoted Russian National Anti-Terrorist Committee spokesman Andrey Przhezdomsky, saying:

“Russian special services have intelligence that certain IS groups are preparing terrorist attacks in Russia and European nations.”

“In particular, a battalion formed mainly from recruits from North Caucasus headed by Akhmed Chetayev, nicknamed One-Handed.”

Reportedly it includes dozens of Russian nationals, returning home after fighting with ISIS in Syria.

Russian border guards and special services aim to stem their flow through Turkey, aided by Erdogan’s regime – complicit with Washington and other rogue partners.

According to Przhezdomsky, hundreds of ISIS fighters were interdicted, scores arrested before they could join their ranks.

Twenty-two US-supported recruiters were caught. So far, terrorist attacks were averted. “Just recently, a group of hardcore militants arrived from Syria, planning to hit” a major Russian city, Przhezdomsky explained.

RT said “(t)he group entered Russia legally, found a safe house and purchased parts for making improvised explosive devices, unaware that they were being followed by Russian agents.”

“They were arrested and are awaiting trial,” Przhezdomsky said. He believes ISIS’ strength passed its peak, but remains a serious threat.

He explained “a well-developed system for trafficking IS recruits into Syria. The main route goes through Istanbul.”

“People fill in a form, write their bio, their identity is checked, their mobile phones hacked. If any suspicion comes out of it, the recruit is taken into solitary confinement and awaits punishment. Usually in the form of being shot to death.” 

Washington is waging war on Russia without declaring it, a lunatic scheme risking mass annihilation. 

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

America’s richest investors are betting trillions of dollars that the US economy will stay lousy for years to come.

Who are these wealthy investors?

Bondholders. And their views on the state of the economy are reflected in the yields on long-term US Treasuries. At present, the yields on long-term debt are very low which means that investors think the economy will continue to underperform while inflation remains in check.

This pessimistic outlook is not new for bondholders, in fact, yields have remained stubbornly low since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, which means that investors were never swept up in the hype about “green shoots” or an “economic recovery”. They knew it was baloney from the get-go and their opinion hasn’t changed. There’s no sign of recovery anywhere except for the fake government payroll numbers that don’t jibe with any of the other data. By any rationale measure, the economy is stuck in a long-term slump that shows no sign of relenting anytime soon. Bondholders seem to grasp that fact and have made a ton of dough betting on crappy growth and perennial stagnation, which are the logical corollaries of the Fed’s goofy monetary policies. (Stephen Roach explains low yields on 30-year USTs here.)

In any event, bond yields are a heckuva lot more helpful in forecasting the future than the cheerleading pundits on the business channel. Yields–which are the amount of return that bondholders receive for lending the government their money–reveal investors expectations of future economic activity and inflation. They are a barometer for measuring the health of the economy. If growth is strong and the future looks rosy, yields will rise as the demand for money increases and the prospects of higher inflation seem more likely. But if investors expect growth to fall-short and disappoint, then yields are going to drop reflecting lower expectations for future activity. The fact that the yields on 30-year USTs are below 3 percent at this phase of the game suggests that policymakers either don’t understand how the economy works or simply refuse to initiate the changes that will spur growth. Either way, it’s a damning indictment of the Central Bank’s role as steward of the system.

At present, (Jan 26) the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasuries is just a whisker below 2 percent at 1.98 percent. That means that investors will get 1.98 dollars annually per every $100 invested, which is nearly nothing. Think of it this way: Let’s say your buddy Ernie wants to borrow $5,000 to open a Gelato stand in Granite Falls. So you’re wondering how much you need to charge him above the price of the loan to be fairly compensated for the risk you’re taking. (since Ernie has had a few bad ideas in the past that blew up in his face.) If you decide to charge him 2 percent per year, then you’re barely making ends meet since inflation is currently running at roughly 1.5 percent. So you need to charge something above 2 percent or you won’t even break-even.

The point is, when you lend your money to the USG for a paltry 1.98 percent, you’re basically getting bupkis on your investment. The only upside to the deal is that you can be reasonably certain that the government will pay you back, unlike Ernie.

The focus on interest rates as the only means for fixing the economy should have run its course by now, but, of course, it hasn’t because the Big Money that runs the country likes things the way they are. Low rates and easy money mean bigger profits for Wall Street regardless of their impact on the real economy. What matters most to bondholders is not growth or inflation, but policy. That’s what keeps the boodle flowing into the coffers. Policy. And as long as they’re confident that the Fed’s “accommodative” policies are going to be coupled with fiscal belt-tightening (which has been adopted by both Dems and Republicans), then they can rest assured that the economy will continue to sputter while bonds “rip the cover off the ball”.

But the Fed’s loosey goosy monetary policies do come at a cost, and that cost is borne by businesses and working people alike. For example, there was an op-ed in last week’s WSJ about the knock-on effects of low rates on capital investment by Michael Spence and Kevin Warsh. The title of the article tells the whole story: “The Fed Has Hurt Business Investment.” Here’s an excerpt:

Extremely accommodative monetary policy, including the purchase of about $3 trillion in Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities during three rounds of “quantitative easing” (QE), pushed down long-term yields and boosted the value of risk-assets. Higher stock prices were supposed to drive business confidence and higher capital expenditures, which were supposed to result in higher wages and strong consumption. Would it were so.

Business investment in the real economy is weak … In 2014, S&P 500 companies spent considerably more of their operating cash flow on financially engineered buybacks than real capital expenditures for the first time since 2007 … We believe that QE has redirected capital from the real domestic economy to financial assets at home and abroad. In this environment, it is hard to criticize companies that choose “shareholder friendly” share buybacks over investment in a new factory. But public policy shouldn’t bias investments to paper assets over investments in the real economy. (The Fed Has Hurt Business Investment, Michael Spence And Kevin Warsh, Wall Street Journal)

This is a fairly typical complaint, that the Fed’s policies have lifted asset prices but hurt business in vestment which requires strong demand for their products. The fact is, businesses can’t grow unless people are employed, wages are rising, and money is exchanging hands. None of that is happening currently, in fact, according to the Atlanta Fed, the Forth Quarter (4Q) GDP is expected to come in below 1 percent. (.06 percent) which means the US economy should probably be wheeled down to the morgue ASAP so the embalming process can begin pronto. For all practical purposes, the economy is kaput.

Of course, President Obama rejects that type of negativity outright. In the State of the Union Speech in January, Obama waved his finger threateningly at the teleprompter saying: “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”

Fiction?? Not according to economist James Hamilton. Here’s what he said this week on the Oil Price website:

The global economy is slipping into recession. The evidence is showing up in all the usual ways: slowing output growth, slumping purchasing-manager indexes, widening credit spreads, declining corporate earnings, falling inflation expectations, receding capital investment and rising inventories. But this is a most unusual recession– the first one ever caused by falling oil prices. (Could Low Oil Prices Cause A Global Recession?, Oil Price)

And then there’s this from the Wall Street Journal:

Every U.S. recession since World War II has been foretold by sharp declines in industrial production, corporate profits and the stock market. Industrial production has declined in 10 of the past 12 months, and is now off nearly 2% from its peak in December 2014. Corporate profits peaked around the summer of 2014 and were off by nearly 5% as of the third quarter of last year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 7.6% so far this year…

unlike past declines in industrial production, today’s decline has been driven primarily by the collapse in the oil industry…. mining output has fallen over 10%, driven by a 62% decline in oil- and gas-well drilling…

“Manufacturing tends to lead the economic cycle and it tends to be an indicator of the swings,” said Thomas Costerg, senior economist at Standard Chartered. “Manufacturing is struggling.” (Recession Warnings May Not Come to Pass, Wall Street Journal)

The truth is that the economy is still very weak and the Fed’s monetary hanky-panky hasn’t produced the credit expansion that was expected. Adding excess reserves at the banks was supposed to boost lending which would lead to stronger growth, but it hasn’t happened mainly because households and consumers aren’t borrowing like they did before the crisis. Instead they’re setting more money aside and trying to pay down their debts. Take a look at the chart on bank loans which illustrates how lending is basically flatlining. (See here.)

No bank loans means no borrowing. No borrowing means no credit expansion. No credit expansion means no new activity, no new spending, no new hiring, no new business investment, no stronger growth. Nomura’s chief economist Richard Koo summed it up succinctly saying, “When no one is borrowing money, monetary policy is largely useless.”

Bingo. It is useless. We know that now. Neither QE nor zero rates promote growth. The ‘Grand Experiment’ has failed. Keynes was right and (Milton) Freidman was wrong. Here’s Keynes:

For my own part I am now somewhat skeptical of the success of a merely monetary policy directed towards influencing the rate of interest. I expect to see the State, which is in a position to calculate the marginal efficiency of capital-goods on long views and on the basis of the general social advantage, taking an ever greater responsibility for directly organizing investment; since it seems likely that the fluctuations in the market estimation of the marginal efficiency of different types of capital, calculated on the principles I have described above, will be too great to be offset by any practicable changes in the rate of interest. (John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, marxists.org, 2002)

Keynes is just stating the obvious, that you can’t pull the economy out of a severe slump by tinkering with interest rates or pumping up bank reserves. It doesn’t work. What’s needed is ‘good old fashion’ fiscal stimulus mainlined into the economy through ambitious federal infrastructure programs that stimulate activity, boost employment and keep the economy moving forward until private sector balance sheets are repaired and personal spending returns to normal.

The Fed has wasted the last seven years trying to reinvent the wheel when the solution was always right under its nose. Are we really going to waste another seven implementing the same failed strategy?

Attacks on US Public Workers and Unions Intensify

January 30th, 2016 by Jack Rasmus

The destruction of unions in the US has been going on for decades, steadily intensifying since the 1970s. But recent, and pending, U.S. Supreme Court decisions are now leading a new, intensive attack on unionization in the U.S.

The latest is the pending decision by the US Supreme Court in the case, “Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association,” which targets teachers and other public workers and their unions. The decision immediately affects 10.7 million teachers in the US, and potentially a further 10 million state and local public workers who are, or might be, in unions.

The Friedrichs case is but the latest in a decades-long effort to deny unions in general – both public and private sector – necessary financial resources to effectively represent members in bargaining, and especially to undermine their ability to engage in political action like lobbying or support for pro-worker political candidates.

In the Friedrichs case, which has already heard by the US Supreme Court, with a decision coming down any day now, teachers unions won’t be allowed to use union dues or now even equivalent “agency fees” for union spending on what is the primary target of Friedrichs – i.e. political action, lobbying, candidate support, and political advocacy in general.

Teachers and other public sector unions rely heavily on mobilizing politically in support of their collective bargaining demands. They spend significant financial resources to try to elect government representatives, their bargaining partners, who are sympathetic to their interests in terms of wages, jobs, and benefits; or to defeat or remove those elected politicians who are not. They also spend heavily to lobby government and politicians after elections. Should the US Supreme Court rule in favor of Friedrichs, which is reportedly highly likely, it would mean teachers and public unions could no longer spend financial resources on such activities as they had been. They will have fewer financial resources with which to do so. And fewer financial resources translates into less political mobilizing, less political influence, and therefore less effective bargaining thereafter in the longer run.

The Friedrichs case therefore represents an important shift and intensification of anti-union efforts, this time targeting teachers and other public workers and their unions. But the attacks on private sector unions in the US have been going on for decades.

Destruction of Private Sector Unions

Since the 1970s, corporate efforts to destroy US unions have primarily targeted private sector workers and their unions in manufacturing, construction, and transport – i.e. industries where once 60-70 percent or more of the workforce were once organized before 1980 but where, today, the number of workers in the private sector in the U.S. that are unionized has declined to barely 6 percent.

The 6.7 percent unionization of private sector work force that remains in the US today represents roughly 10.5 million out of a total 157 million in the labor force in the US today. Had the percentage of unionized in the US remained the same today as it was in 1980, at 22 percent, instead of today’s 6 percent, private sector unions today would have a total membership of 35 million instead of the actual 10.5 million. Union labor has thus declined by an actual and potential 25 million members as a consequence of the corporate offensive since 1980.

The destruction of unions in manufacturing, construction, and other private sector industries has been the result of a multi-sided corporate attack on a number of fronts: virtually eliminating the right to strike, government-legal support for outright union-busting, establishing more and more obstacles to union organizing, eliminating the right to have union hiring halls, free trade and corporate tax incentives to move jobs offshore, targeting and removal of militant union leaders, allowing 40 million part time, temp, and contract workers to be exempt from union representation, expanding to 25 states what is called “right to work” laws in the US, which prevent unions from requiring workers they represent to join the union or pay any union dues.

Another element of anti-union strategy targeting manufacturing, construction and other private sector unions has been to impose more and more restrictions on how unions may spend their members’ dues and financial resources on political action and mobilizing. New rules in recent decades, for example, requires unions to “refund” back to a member his or her share of what the union would have spent on political action. That means less resources for unions to spend on bargaining or political action. Up to now, the member has had to request to “opt out” of the spending to get the dues rebated. But this too may change soon, if the Friedrichs case is approved and then is extended to the private sector unions.

All of this imposing of more limits on unions spending for political action is rather ironic, given that the US Supreme Court has been approving laws like Citizens United since 2010 allowing corporations unlimited resources to spend on political action. What’s clear is that corporate interests are increasingly developing ways to inhibit and reduce unions’ ability to engage in political advocacy and action—in both public and private sectors.

Public Workers Unions Now the Target

A key element in the Friedrichs case is this question of “opt out” or “opt in.” The case reportedly will decide whether to change the practice of ‘opting out’ where now the member has to request the union not spend a portion of his dues or agency fee on political action and return that portion to him, the member. Should Friedrichs be approved, the member will automatically “opt out” and the union has to request of him to “opt back in.” Should that rule accompany the Friedrichs decision, it will mean massive loss of dues equivalent funds for the teachers union in this case. That precedent will like quickly apply to all other teacher unions, in other states and at the college level as well, and thereafter to public workers in cities and states in general.

This precedent could well even expand to private sector unions as well. With the major “right to work” offensive gaining momentum, where in 25 states so far workers can decide to pay no dues or equivalent, the “opt in” responsibility placed on the union will almost certainly result in further loss of financial resources for political action.

Public sector unions have been under attack since 2009 in other ways as well. Conservative governors have been making public workers pay for state government deficits by cutting their pensions and health care and other benefits. This has occurred even as the same states continue to cut business taxes as their deficits grow. In other states, outright limits on collective bargaining have been imposed. The Friedrich’s case is but the latest development in what will likely mean even more new initiatives to undermine public workers unions and their members’ rights and benefits.

At the same time, the attacks continue to intensify against private sector unions. More free trade and offshoring is in the works, more categories of workers legally exempted from right to unionize (for example the “gig” or “sharing” economy job trend), and the growing “right to work” corporate funded movement at the state level all represent major initiatives ongoing against private sector unions.

What it all represents is a “legal web” has thus been woven around the Labor “Gulliver” in the US, a cocoon of laws that have been spun by corporate interests and their lobbyists, a silken coffin of the law that has virtually immobilized union labor in the U.S. To break through the web, workers in the US will have to soon start over, to rebuild their unions from the ground up. That will require a different form of grass roots organization and collective action.

Jack Rasmus is the author of the just published book, ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy’, Clarity Press, January 2016.

The World Health Organization announced it will convene an Emergency Committee under International Health Regulations on Monday, February 1, concerning the Zika virus ‘explosive’ spread throughout the Americas. The virus reportedly has the potential to reach pandemic proportions — possibly around the globe. But understandingwhy this outbreak happened is vital to curbing it. As the WHO statement said:

“A causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth malformations and neurological syndromes … is strongly suspected. [These links] have rapidly changed the risk profile of Zika, from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions.

“WHO is deeply concerned about this rapidly evolving situation for 4 main reasons: the possible association of infection with birth malformations and neurological syndromes; the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector; the lack of population immunity in newly affected areas; and the absence of vaccines, specific treatments, and rapid diagnostic tests […]

“The level of concern is high, as is the level of uncertainty.”

Zika seemingly exploded out of nowhere. Though it was first discovered in 1947, cases only sporadically occurred throughout Africa and southern Asia. In 2007, the first case was reported in the Pacific. In 2013, a smattering of small outbreaks and individual cases were officially documented in Africa and the western Pacific. They also began showing up in the Americas. In May 2015, Brazil reported its first case of Zika virus — and the situation changed dramatically.

Brazil is now considered the epicenter of the Zika outbreak, which coincides with at least 4,000 reports of babies born with microcephaly just since October.

zika-microcephalyWhen examining a rapidly expanding potential pandemic, it’s necessary to leave no stone unturned so possible solutions, as well as future prevention, will be as effective as possible. In that vein, there was another significant development in 2015.

Oxitec first unveiled its large-scale, genetically-modified mosquito farm in Brazil in July 2012, with the goal of reducing “the incidence of dengue fever,” as The Disease Daily reported. Dengue fever is spread by the same Aedes mosquitoes which spread the Zika virus — and though they “cannot fly more than 400 meters,” WHO stated, “it may inadvertently be transported by humans from one place to another.” By July 2015, shortly after the GM mosquitoes were first released into the wild in Juazeiro, Brazil, Oxitec proudly announced they had “successfully controlled the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads dengue fever, chikungunya and zika virus, by reducing the target population by more than 90%.”

Though that might sound like an astounding success — and, arguably, it was — there is an alarming possibility to consider.

Nature, as one Redditor keenly pointed out, finds a way — and the effort to control dengue, zika, and other viruses, appears to have backfired dramatically.

zika

 

Juazeiro, Brazil — the location where genetically-modified mosquitoes were first released into the wild.

zika

 

Map showing the concentration of suspected Zika-related cases of microcephaly in Brazil.

The particular strain of Oxitec GM mosquitoes, OX513A, are genetically altered so the vast majority of their offspring will die before they mature — though Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher published concerns in a report in September 2010 that a known survival rate of 3-4 percent warranted further study before the release of the GM insects. Her concerns, which were echoed by several other scientists both at the time and since, appear to have been ignored — though they should not have been.

Those genetically-modified mosquitoes work to control wild, potentially disease-carrying populations in a very specific manner. Only the male modified Aedes mosquitoes are supposed to be released into the wild — as they will mate with their unaltered female counterparts. Once offspring are produced, the modified, scientific facet is supposed to ‘kick in’ and kill that larvae before it reaches breeding age — if tetracycline is not present during its development. But there is a problem.

zika-mosquito

 

Aedes aegypti mosquito. Image credit: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

According to an unclassified document from the Trade and Agriculture Directorate Committee for Agriculture dated February 2015, Brazil is the third largest in “global antimicrobial consumption in food animal production” — meaning, Brazil is third in the world for its use of tetracycline in its food animals. As a study by the American Society of Agronomy, et. al., explained, “It is estimated that approximately 75% of antibiotics are not absorbed by animals and are excreted in waste.” One of the antibiotics (or antimicrobials) specifically named in that report for its environmental persistence is tetracycline.

In fact, as a confidential internal Oxitec document divulged in 2012, that survival rate could be as high as 15% — even with low levels of tetracycline present. “Even small amounts of tetracycline can repress” the engineered lethality. Indeed, that 15% survival rate was described by Oxitec:

“After a lot of testing and comparing experimental design, it was found that [researchers] had used a cat food to feed the [OX513A] larvae and this cat food contained chicken. It is known that tetracycline is routinely used to prevent infections in chickens, especially in the cheap, mass produced, chicken used for animal food. The chicken is heat-treated before being used, but this does not remove all the tetracycline. This meant that a small amount of tetracycline was being added from the food to the larvae and repressing the [designed] lethal system.”

Even absent this tetracycline, as Steinbrecher explained, a “sub-population” of genetically-modified Aedes mosquitoes could theoretically develop and thrive, in theory, “capable of surviving and flourishing despite any further” releases of ‘pure’ GM mosquitoes which still have that gene intact. She added, “the effectiveness of the system also depends on the [genetically-designed] late onset of the lethality. If the time of onset is altered due to environmental conditions … then a 3-4% [survival rate] represents a much bigger problem…”

As the WHO stated in its press release, “conditions associated with this year’s El Nino weather pattern are expected to increase mosquito populations greatly in many areas.”

Incidentally, President Obama called for a massive research effort to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus, as one does not currently exist. Brazil has now called in 200,000 soldiers to somehow help combat the virus’ spread. Aedes mosquitoes have reportedly been spotted in the U.K. But perhaps the most ironic — or not — proposition was proffered on January 19, by the MIT Technology Review:

“An outbreak in the Western Hemisphere could give countries including the United States new reasons to try wiping out mosquitoes with genetic engineering.

“Yesterday, the Brazilian city of Piracicaba said it would expand the use of genetically modified mosquitoes …

“The GM mosquitoes were created by Oxitec, a British company recently purchased by Intrexon, a synthetic biology company based in Maryland. The company said it has released bugs in parts of Brazil and the Cayman Islands to battle dengue fever.”

Aedes aegypti mosquito. Image credit: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Two of Turkey’s leading journalists [ both pictured left] on Wednesday faced a possible life prison sentence after they were charged with plotting to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by reporting on secret arms shipments to Syria.

Turkish prosecutors demanded life sentences for two top journalists who reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government tried to ship arms to insurgents in Syria.

Prosecutors asked the Istanbul court to sentence Cumhuriyet newspaper’s editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul each to one aggravated life sentence, one ordinary life sentence and 30 years in jail, the Dogan news agency reported, quoting the indictment.

The report said that both Erdogan and his hugely powerful but low-profile ally, the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan, are named as plaintiffs in the indictment.

Dundar and Gul were both placed under arrest in late November over the report earlier in the year that claimed to show proof that a consignment of weapons seized at the border in January 2014 was bound for Takfiri (Al Qaeda) militants in Syria.

Since then, they have both been held in the Silivri jail on the outskirts of Istanbul ahead of their trial, whose date has still yet to be announced.

In the indictment, they have been formally charged with obtaining and revealing state secrets “for espionage purposes” and seeking to “violently” overthrow the Turkish government as well as aiding an “armed terrorist organization”, it said.

The penalties demanded by the prosecutors are significantly higher than had previously been expected.

The case has amplified concerns about press freedom under the rule of Erdogan, who had personally warned Dundar he would “pay a price” over the front-page story.

The Syrian government blames the United States along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the Israeli regime for backing terrorist groups inside the country.

 

 

 

This seems like a case to me where mankind’s arrogance may have backfired on us.

Here is Oxitec back in 2015 proudly announcing that their GM mosquito has decimated the local mosquito population in a field trial:

http://www.oxitec.com/press-release-oxitec-mosquito-works-to-control-aedes-aegypti-in-dengue-hotspo/

Releases of the genetically engineered Oxitec mosquito, commonly known as ‘Friendly Aedes aegypti’, reduced the dengue mosquito population in an area of Juazeiro, Brazil by 95%, well below the modelled threshold for epidemic disease transmission.

Here is a map showing where Juazeiro is located.

Here is a map showing where all the deformed babies are being born.

Zika was first confirmed in Brazil in may of 2015, but had been seen in other nations before. Question: Why didn’t it cause an epidemic of birth defects in any other countries? How exactly would you miss a tenfold increase in children born with most of their brain missing? Zika in Brazil does not seem to behave like the Zika we were familiar with before.

How could the Zika catastrophe be linked to genetically modified mosquitoes?

The OX513A strain of male mosquitoes released in Juazeiro creates larvae that normally die in the absence of antibiotics, which is supposed to help decimate wild mosquito populations when these males are released in the wild. Problem here being of course, that “life, uh, finds a way”. An estimated 3-4% of the larvae survive to adulthood in the absence of the tetracycline antibiotic. These larvae should then be free to go on and reproduce and pass on their genes. In fact, they may be the only ones that are passing on their genes in places that have their wild mosquito population decimated by these experiments.

What is the effect on these mosquitoes that grow up with a mutilated genome? It is thought that this should introduce a fitness cost, that is, they should have greater difficulty surviving. What do we know about these mosquitoes? Has adequate research ever been done on how a genetically mutilated mosquito copes with viral infections? Could the mosquito be more susceptible to certain pathogens, that it then passes on to humans?

If a pathogen like the Zika virus can thrive in the mosquito without restraint, it could evolve into something far more dangerous than its original incarnation, pulling the lever on the slot machine with every replication until it hits the genetic jackpot.

Is it too much to ask for a moratorium on these types of genetic experiments?

New reports in the US media reveal that secret cooperation between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Saudi Arabia to fund Daesh and other extreme Islamic groups in Syria was far greater than previously suspected, US scholars told Sputnik.

“The details about the Saudi funding should give very serious pause to Americans,” Middle East expert and author Helena Cobban told Sputnik.

New details revealed in a New York Times report on Tuesday indicated that the US government and its secret agencies were trying to repeat in Syria the strategy they used against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan 35 years ago, Cobban stated.

“It all looks eerily like what happened in Afghanistan in the 1980s — a semi-clandestine and very hard to control CIA ‘intervention,’ backed up with huge amounts of Saudi money, and the ever-present Saudi support for the Wahhabist global agenda,” she suggested.

However, the Islamic terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, whom the CIA supported in Afghanistan during the 1980s, eventually turned on the United States with devastating consequences and the same thing could happen now, Cobban cautioned.

“What could possibly go wrong? We might ask the widows and orphans of the September 11, 2001 attack that question,” she said.The New York Times report revealed that the scale of US military and Saudi financial assistance to the Islamists in Syria was vastly greater than anything the Obama administration had previously admitted to, US author and Middle East affairs expert Dan Lazare told Sputnik.

“In the famous talk that [US Vice President] Joe Biden gave at Harvard’s Kennedy School in October 2014… he said that the Gulf states ‘poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad’,” Lazare noted.

However, according to the New York Times report, estimates have put the total cost of the arming and training effort at several billion dollars, Lazare pointed out.

“So the Saudi contribution alone was on the order of ten times greater than what Biden had indicated. That’s huge,” Lazare emphasized.

Cobban further noted that US diplomats openly fanned the flames of rebellion and civil war in Syria.

“There were the blatantly incendiary actions of Ambassador Robert Ford during the spring of 2011, when… he gave a lot of moral and political support to very activist figures in the opposition,” Cobban recalled.

According to the New York Times report, Lazare observed, the US government was well aware how much Saudi citizens continued to support terrorist groups, but maintained their close intelligence partnership with Riyadh anyway.

These were the same forces that bombed the World Trade Center in 2001, killing nearly 3,000 Americans, he concluded.

Denmark, Decency and Decay

January 29th, 2016 by Jan Oberg

Once again Denmark appears in the international community and media for the wrong things, this time for a law package with three main, draconian anti-refugee laws. One legalises stealing – that’s what it is – valuables owned by refugees upon arrival if they exceed US$ 1450; the second cuts down on the already meagre daily benefit and the third extends the family reunion period from 1 to 3 years.

188 MPs voted yes, 108 No and 37 abstained. The main argument is that Denmark wants to “signal” that asylum seekers should go elsewhere. Otherwise marketing-conscious politicians have overlooked that there are millions upon millions out there who are not asylum seekers and they get an extremely bad impression of Denmark. Like they did when Denmark put ads in Middle Eastern newspaper some time ago to deter potential refugees.

The three laws – of which the first clearly provokes memories of what the Nazis did to the Jews – are just a peak point in a long (mal)development of Denmark’s foreign policy. It can be characterised by incremental absence of ethics, solidarity, compassion, empathy and sound human judgement – all concepts outside the domain of ‘real’ politics – combined with increased interventionism, militarism and lofty contempt for international laws.

By passing these laws, the country’s parliamentarians – with a few exceptions – have soiled the image of the country abroad even more and for a very long time ahead, one must fear.

It is not unreasonable to assume that terrorists will pay attention to this development which is de facto targetting refugees which are almost 100% Muslims.

Many Danish citizens including myself now recognise that ‘Dane’ rhymes with ‘Shame’. This trend in Danish policitics doesn’t happen in our name.

Once upon a time

Denmark used to be known and appreciated around the world as a welfare state with equality – gender and otherwise – and solidarity with the disadvantaged. Known for citizens with a diversified free education – also at people’s colleges and elsewhere where culture and good manners were taught.

Quite a lot of it was based on Danish pastor, author, poet, philosopher, historian, teacher and politician, Grundtvig – others inspired by Kierkegaard. Out there educated people associated Denmark with composer such as Carl Nielsen, painters like Asger Jorn, entertainers like Victor Borge. It didn’t go for nuclear energy but became a major producer of windmills.

Danes were proud of being democratic and peaceful – remember the poster with the policeman who stops the cars to let some ducks pass a road? Or, say, furniture design, Carlsberg, H.C. Andersen and the Little Mermaid. Piet Hein.

It was known for rescuing 7000 Jews to safety across the Oresound to Sweden in October 1943. And known for talking about problems, not killing people.

Perhaps a bit idyllic, too good to be true? Yes, but still! There was something one culd be proud of.

Militarist and interventionist “active” foreign policy

And what’s the image the rest of the world is getting these years?

A rogue state, a warrior country any time it’s called upon by US/NATO – five wars or occupations: Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya – and then Iraq again. And now special forces on their way to Syria.

When I was a member of the Danish government’s Commission on Security and Disarmament all through the 1980s no one even thought about Denmark as a war-fighting country far away. Defence, not offence, was the issue. International law was important. The Commission even produced a report on the Nordic areas as a nuclear-free zone – not bad for a NATO country. At the time there were elements of independent thinking about Denmark’s role in the world.

The first war participation – bombing Serbia two nights in 1999 – was decided by a government led by a social democratic prime minister, Nyrup Rasmussen and a foreign minister from a small historically anti-militarist, liberal party, Helweg Petersen.

They broke the traditional image of Denmark as adhering to peace and international law (the destruction of Yugoslavia had no UN mandate).

The doctrine of an active foreign policy was good in and of itself. Small countries have to be active and work together when the big ones play their games. But in Denmark’s case it was destructive – active meant joining wars, not being active in terms of early warning, conflict-resolution, mediation or any of the sort.

This was only the beginning of the road to rogueness.

2001 – the ‘war on terror’

The war on terror was initiatied after 9/11 – Afghanistan 10/7. Denmark went along without thinking. The idea came from Washington, so what was there to think about?

At the time about 400 people were killed in international terrorism per year; today the Global Terror Index informs us that 32.000 people are killed in terrorism. It must be the stupidest war in modern time and the majority of the victims are found in the Middle East, not in Europe and not in the US.

But we bomb – and create more terrorism. And more refugees. Politics having become anti-intellectual and devoid of ethical considerations, few connect the dots. Fewer see Denmark’s own co-responsibility for causing the problems and even fewer see the moral responsibility of taking care. No, steal their belongings.

Iraq

It was prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen of the liberal Party, Venstre (meaning left but it’s neo-liberal right) whose government made Denmark an occupying power in Iraq over four years (2003-2007). By any standards the most serious foreign policy blunder of Danish foreign policy since 1945.

Asked recently on Danish television how he felt about the tragic situation in today’s Iraq he answered that – well, we stretched out our hand to the Iraqi people but unfortunately they didn’t take it.

No remorse there, Mr. Always Right. But quite a statement when you are a non-convicted war criminal having joined a project that killed about 1 million Iraqis during war, occupation and 13 years of sanction. The Danish politicians and people are still, it seems, unable or unwilling to understand the dimensions of this blunder – which is one reason they also don’t understand today what it means to be a refugee.

Muhamed carictures

It was under his leadership – or lack if it – the Muhamed caricatures became a diplomatic disaster. He refused to meet with Muslim leaders in Denmark and also ignored a letter of concern from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the global voice of Muslims with 57 member states and 1,6 billion people.

Probably no one in the PM’s and foreign minister’s office had a clue what the OIC was.

But he did know who Khadaffi was when later, rewarded for his good deeds by the US and catapulted to S-G of NATO, he spearheaded the coalition member states’ violation of the very limited UN mandate, their destruction of that country and the killing of Khadaffi.

A social democratic prime minister re-invents rogue Denmark

Former female prime minister, Helle Thorning Schmidt – at the time leader of the social democratic party – will be remembered for bringing Denmark into Iraq for a second time, a decision to bomb taken in less than 24 hours after Washington’s call on September 24, 2014.

She will also be remembered for three other foreign policy-related blunders:

1) Supporting without any limitations the freedom of expression after Charlie Hebdo and saying that in Denmark we shall be able to speak and write and make the any drawing we want – while Danish police arrested youngsters who had used politically incorrect words on their Facebook pages.

2) She defined a socially marginalised young Muslim’s killing of two individuals in Copenhagen in early 2015 as terrorism without the slightest evidence. 

These two tragic events brought the official Denmark to the verge of hysteria with a memorial event in a park in Copenhagen – led by the royal house, the government and military plus 40.000 Danes where a song written against the German occupation (!) was sung followed, pathetically, by Lennon’s Imagine

3) Thorning Schmidt committed herself and Denmark to follow the US/Denmark to also bomb in Syria – a plan only prevented by Putin’s intervention and the chemical disarmament agreement with Syria.

The extreme populist People’s Party has been shaping and promoting these trends for decades with a manifest xenophobic profile that spoke, at least originally to the petty bourgeoisie.

Whatever there once was of a the genuine social democratic party and a liberal party, of socialism and liberalism, has been buried long ago. The extreme right has become mainstream – thus time to change party names to fit reality. However the right social democratic party is wrong.

The third re-invention of rogueness

The present liberal party prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s, first foreign policy action was to kill the already established commission for investigating how Denmark under the leadership of his party comrade, Fogh Rasmussen, got involved in the war on Iraq.

The possibility that Mr. Always Right should be proved just a little wrong was a risk not to be taken.

It characterises the decay of democratic politics that elites across the political spectrum have more in common with each other than each has with their voters and constituencies.

The decision to bomb Libya was a milestone in the Nordic countries in that it was the first time ever that all parties, left to right – with one exception – voted for the bombing of Libya. The exception was the far-right, xenophobic Swedish Democrats. The Nordic public opinion against war and for peace – and there are some – no longer has more than a handful of individuals that represent them.

In a TV interview in October 2015 prime minister Løkke Rasmussen advocated safe zones to be etablished in Syria for refugees. One must assume to keep them away from Europe. In his view these zones should be protected from the air by combat aircraft – deliberately omitting any mention of UN peacekeepers.

This is an indication as good as any that he has no knowledge about such matters and no advisers either. Such an arrangement would create more than one Srebrenica in a war environment such as Syria which is worse by any standards than Bosnia where there were at least some UN troops at the time.

The underlying racism embedded in the idea of gathering citizens of a country in camps because you think it is necessary to destroy their country and culture – a kind of warfare Bantustans – speak of the Zeitgeist of a Denmark inside a Western world that is in moral free fall. Decaying.

Mr. Løkke Rasmussen further maintained more than once that he could not imagine Danish boots on the ground. But that was October last year.

It took only to January 2016 when it was revealed that his government now intends to send special forces to Syria. And rest assured: before long Denmark will again be at war in a foreign country in full violation of international law and UN norms.

surveillanceHearings in Secret: Congress, FISA and Warrantless Surveillance

By Binoy Kampmark, January 29 2016

It should seem axiomatic to Congressional credibility that the people’s representatives should have hearings about the Republic’s affairs in the open.

Flint_snyderWhile Flint Was Being Poisoned, State Workers “Quietly” Provided Water Coolers

By Common Dreams, January 29 2016

Following release of new document and emails, Gov. Snyder told he must ‘explain to the people of Flint why his administration trucked water into a state building while allowing residents to drink unsafe water’

oasOAS to Send Special Mission to Haiti Amid Political Crisis

By Ezili Dantò, January 29 2016

OAS you’re not welcome in Haiti, Haiti does not need another OAS electoral coup detat like 2010. Haiti stands as one with this one message to the new OAS mission that has invited itself  to Haiti.

Nytimes_hqMedia Disinformation and the US Heroin Epidemic

By Dr. Meryl Nass, January 29 2016

On October 30, 2015 the NY Times published an in-depth article on the heroin epidemic, focused on New Hampshire, which saw the greatest increase in deaths from drug overdoses (74%) in the US between 2013 and 2014.

Photo by Gage SkidmoreDonald Trump Wins Fox News Debate Without Showing Up

By Stephen Lendman, January 29 2016

Trump looks unstoppable, the likely Republican presidential nominee, way outdistancing other aspirants in polls consistently.

nato_libya_1Pentagon Prepares Another War in Libya

By Bill Van Auken, January 29 2016

A little less than five years after launching a war against Libya on the “humanitarian” pretext of preventing a supposedly imminent massacre, the United States and its European allies are preparing a new military assault against the oil-rich North African country under the bloodstained banner of the “war on terrorism”.

Binyamin Netanyahu is the leader of Likud: the successor to the Irgun Zvai Leumi movement that consisted of political militants who carried out the first major terrorist bombing in the Middle East in which 92 innocent people were murdered. That was at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem which also housed the headquarters of the British military authorities during the Palestine mandate.

Now Netanyahu continues the tradition of violating international law by his authorisation for the building of yet more houses for  Israelis on Palestinian land in a further attempt to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state in accordance with the will of the United Nations.

The UN Security Council is now considering a resolution by President Abbas of the PA that will define all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories as illegal under international law and to make the Israeli state subject to sanctions.

Such a resolution is many years overdue.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have encircled the militants in Darayya, striking several neighborhoods under the control of Ajnad Al-Sham and Al-Nusra.

Meanwhile, the SAA’s Brigade 105 of the Republican Guard conducted a devastating tunnel attack on Jaish al-Islam headquarters in the town of Jobar destroying this large building located near the Tayba Mosque. The government forces have reportedly seized a number of building blocks near the 4 Seasons Hotel and are advancing West of the Masjid Bilal Al-Habshi in the Darayya Association District.

Ajnad Al-Sham and Al-Nusra are surrounded by the Syrian forces at both Darayya and Mo’adhimiyah, with no roads linking these two towns together. Thus, the militants aren’t able to maneuver and to exchange supplies and reinforcements. Meanwhile, the Syrian forces proposed to the militants of Ajnad Al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army in Mo’adhimiyah to lay down arms and surrender peacefully. The militants have 4 days left to accept the terms.

Following the firece clashes with militants, the Syrian troops were able to liberate the town of Bluzah in Aleppo province. The loyalists’ forces have been making steady gains in Northwestern parts of Syria, being able to drive the militant groups back from more territories in the region.

A coordinated assault on the Al-Rawad Hill in the Al-Baqaliyeh district of the Deir Ezzur province was launched by the militant groups on Thursday. However, the militants’ offensive actions were rebuffed due to the strategic airstrikes conducted by the Russian and Syrian air forces. During the current week, ISIS launched a series of assaults on Al-Baqaliyeh District to seize the Al-Rawad Hill from but it failed.

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Weapons of Mass Financial Destruction (WMFD)

January 29th, 2016 by Bill Holter

Every once in a while it is a good thing to review something we already know and have known for quite a while.  What we’re talking about are derivatives and the very basics of how they work… or not. 

We have seen massive volatility since the Fed raised rates last month. 

The humor (tragedy), admitted to yesterday by the Fed, the 4th quarter saw slowing economies all over the world and “Nobody Really Knows Anything Right Now” !  

I say “humor” because the Fed tightened rates just as the economy was weakening again.  Many have said the Fed raised rates at “exactly the wrong time”.  History may agree with this, I do not.  In fact, there has not been one single day since the end of 2008 the Fed “should have” raised rates simply because of the massive debt embedded in the system and those pesky weapons of mass financial destruction called DERIVATIVES!  Higher rates will only serve as a “margin call” in a system with no margin left!

First, derivatives are generally a zero sum game contract between two parties “betting” on something.  They can be looked at as a speculation, a hedge, or even “insurance”.  For this missive, let’s look at the “insurance aspect” of derivatives as literally $10′s of trillions in gains and losses have occurred just this month alone worldwide.

For example and as you know, the price of oil has collapsed.  Ignoring the gains and losses directly on oil, let’s look at companies who’s business is oil.  Whether it be production, exploration, transport or even “trading”, huge sums of money have been gained or lost depending on which way your bet was.  Many oil related companies have CDS (credit default swaps) written against their debt.  These contracts have been rising and rising in value as oil has dropped and the possibility of bankruptcies have risen.  Huge gains by owners and losses by the “writers” of CDS have accrued. 

This is just ONE AREA as derivatives are everywhere and written just as bookies would regarding almost anything.  In fact, CDS is even written on the debt of sovereign governments …including the U.S. Treasury. 

Please think this through for a moment, who, or what “company” could possibly perform and payout the “insurance” to someone who bet (and won) the U.S. Treasury would default?  Would anything even be open?  If the U.S. Treasury defaulted, would stock or bond markets be open?  How about your bank?  How about ANYTHING (including your local Walmart)!  Do you see where we are going here?

Now lets talk for a moment about “collateral” as presumably this is what needs to be used or “put up” by the issuers of CDS if their exposure begins to broaden if the contract goes against them.  I have spoken many times in the last few years about collateral and specifically the LACK of collateral. 

Whether it be QE in the U.S. or Europe soaking up too many sovereign bonds or systemically nothing left to borrow against, the lack of collateral is a direct problem for derivatives.  You see, as a contract moves one way or the other, theoretically the party who is losing needs to post more collateral.  It was this inability to post collateral in 2008 by Lehman Bros. that kicked off the problem.

From a broad perspective, everyone is running down the street naked while assuring everyone else they are “insured”.  Greece was even aided into the ECU because they claimed their derivative positions “erased” much of their debt, fat chance! 

In the end, “losers” must pay winners.  If losers lose so big as to bankrupt them, the winners will not get paid.  Both sides are losers.  When this happens on a grand scale, it will be the entire financial system and thus “us” who are the ultimate loser. 

I have a topic to finish with but want to make a statement, then ask a couple of questions first.  Someone recently said to me regarding the trek from 2008 to present, “the only thing that has changed since 2008 is that nothing has changed”.  I would pretty much agree with this, the policies in place that put us on our knees are still in place, only being implemented with more force.  I would also say the biggest change is we now have more debt, more derivatives and much more money supply. 

Please remember, the Fed took all sorts of substandard paper (mortgage backed securities) on to their balance sheet.  What has happened to all of this paper?   Much of it is non performing but sitting in a dark corner and being ignored …because it HAS TO BE!  What would happen if the Fed ever sold any of this paper for a true market value?  Banks would have to mark their portfolios down, that’s what!  One last question, if this “bad paper” amounts to more than $100 billion in losses (it does, probably by many multiples), what would it mean if the loss was greater than the Fed’s “equity” reportedly now less than $50 billion?  Just because the Fed does not ‘fess up to the losses on their books …does not mean the losses do not exist.  Going one step further in this thought process, if the Fed admitted to these losses, they would be admitting to a negative net worth!  Would you accept an IOU from someone you knew for fact had a negative net worth?  I hate to state the obvious but, you do this every single day when you accept dollars for payment!

One last topic and I’m not 100% positive what it means.  Silver flash crashed last night and the morning fix came in .84 cents below where spot was quietly trading on the LBMA  http://www.bulliondesk.com/silver-news/update-silver-market-disarray-after-benchmark-priced-far-below-spot-rate-108129/ !  My initial reaction was someone needed to “settle” a trade and the price had to be below $14 in order to not trigger something.  In fact, it is being said that this anomalous “fix” will not be reversed but will instead stand.  Why would this be?  Why, if it was a “mistake” would it not be fixed?

After a five mile afternoon ride to ponder this, I can only come up with two viable  scenarios.  Scenario A. as I just mentioned above, it is possible some bank, broker or other entity needed to “settle” some sort of contract UNDER $14.  It is possible this fishy fix enabled someone to close a short without any pain.  It may have been an “accommodative” trade so to speak.  Scenario B. this may have been “margin liquidation” meaning someone was long silver but received a margin call from another market that needed to be met and very sloppily liquidated all at once.  This is not normally how trades are done but if it was a forced sale, the action is possible.  We have had huge volatility in so many other markets, it is certainly possible this was a forced sale.  The one thing I am quite sure of since backwardation now rules the day in London, this was not a “cash” fix.  I am quite sure it was a paper contract “fix”.  Why else is China so hell bent on creating a “cash only” exchange?  Because China knows!

It is important to understand we will see things going forward we never expected or ever dreamed of.  What started to happen in 2008 where counterparties lost trust in each other is exactly where we are headed again.  Central banks stepped in to restore trust, I am not so sure they have enough credibility or goodwill left to turn a far larger credit tsunami than 2008.  The credit bubble is again unwinding like 2008 with no White Knights large enough or credible enough to restore confidence once broken.  All I can say is “gee, what rocket scientist could have figured out the greatest credit boom in the history of history would begin to unwind after an interest rate increase”? 

  Standing watch,

Donald Trump Wins Fox News Debate Without Showing Up

January 29th, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

Trump looks unstoppable, the likely Republican presidential nominee, way outdistancing other aspirants in polls consistently.

He withdrew from Thursday’s Fox News debate in Des Moines, Iowa, ahead of Monday’s state caucuses, over animus toward moderator Megyn Kelly, demanding she be replaced – accusing her and Fox of “toy(ing) with me like they toy with everybody else.”

Trump didn’t miss a beat boycotting Thursday’s debate. He won without showing up, maintaining daily publicity by holding his own solo act in Drake University’s Sheslow Auditorium.

Around 700 supporters showed up. Millions watched on cable TV. The event saluted veterans, featuring theater without substance – the standard formula for all US political “debates.” Why anyone wastes time watching them, they’ll have to explain.

Rival candidates on Fox News beat up on each other without Trump’s help. Closest rival Ted Cruz took a beating, responding to questions with evasive answers. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and others fared no better, unimpressive like earlier.

Republican and Democrat presidential aspirants look more like an FBI most wanted list than legitimate candidates.

They represent big money-controlled duopoly power, dirty business as usual. Don’t let their deceptive rhetoric and phony promises fool you. They’re all cut out of the same cloth.

The late Gore Vidal explained, saying by the time a politician “gets to be presidential material,” he or she has “been bought ten times over.”

 

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

It should seem axiomatic to Congressional credibility that the people’s representatives should have hearings about the Republic’s affairs in the open.  If they are put there by citizens to represent citizens, the all seeing eye of the sovereign public should be present to oversee their performance.

Not so, it seems, regarding certain areas of policy deliberation.  On the subject of gathering intelligence, the shroud of secrecy comes down heavily, ensuring that deliberations are away from public scrutiny and critique.

This issue is of particular interest given the hearings the House Judiciary Committee will hold next week on two of the NSA’s programs that featured in the range of disclosures by Edward Snowden in June 2013.  Their names have been assimilated into the argot of popular discussion: Upstream, and in particular, PRISM.

Keeping such hearings secret has angered a range of institutes and organisations who wish to keep an eye on how discussions will unfold.  These are critical, given that s. 702, in its legal force, lapses next year.  Will this provision be allowed to disappear into oblivion?

On Wednesday, the 26 organisations, including the heavy hitting American Civil Liberties Union and the persistently present Human Rights Watch, waded in with an angry note to Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers.

The undersigned groups were initially appreciative about the decision to hold hearings on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, believing “that robust congressional oversight of the implementation of this statute, which is used to acquire the communications of Americans and people around the world alike without a warrant, is critical.”[1]  Surprise, however, was expressed at holding the hearing “in a classified format, outside the public view.”

Holding such a hearing in secret “neither fully satisfies the promise to hold hearings nor permits the public debate that this nation deserves.  Rather, it continues the excessive secrecy that has contributed to the surveillance abuses we have seen in recent years and to their adverse effects upon our civil liberties and economic growth.”

Hearings on FISA – notably the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 – have been held in open session on no less than six occasions since its creation.  Implementing the statute has been a point of open discussion, with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board publishing an unclassified report on the subject.  Not even that has prevented the slide into an ever intrusive, and unaccountable state of surveillance.

Section 702 remains one of the most troubling sections in the intelligence armoury, largely because it is used as the legitimising basis for such programs as PRISM.  The Office of the Director of National Intelligence insists on a rather bland reading of the provision, suggesting that it facilitates “the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-US persons located outside the United States, creating a new, more streamlined procedure to collect the communications of foreign terrorists.”[2]

Such a reading seems discriminating and strategic, picking targets accurately. Targeting cannot take place without an appropriate, documented, foreign intelligence purpose, and the foreign target must reasonably be believed to be outside the United States.  The provision supposedly does not apply to US citizens.

In practice, it has given the NSA an elastic reach, prompted as much by laziness as executive greed for identifying a whole spectrum of potential threats. It has also been helped by a compliant FISA Court reluctant to interfere with the wisdom of such collecting, and the nature of technology that makes distinctions between US and non-US citizens redundant.

The court’s role is also limited to approving various “targeting” procedures and “minimization” procedures – collection in principle does not require individual judicial orders.[3] Even with these lax provisions, the court has periodically noted the problems of accidental capture of data, something which bypasses judicial scrutiny to enable searching by NSA operatives.

A glance at what the programs actually do should serve to dispel any notions about proportionality and discrimination.  Technology, in this specific sense, makes a mockery of sober legal limits.  Section 702 is a hoovering provision, gathering up millions of online messages and voice communications across a range of platforms, including Skype and Facebook.  PRISM gathers its trove from the technology giants: Yahoo, Apple and Google, while Upstream “siphons it off from major internet cables owned by the big telecom companies.”[4]

As Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., noted in a statement to The Intercept, “Reports indicate that FISA Section 702 authority has been used by the NSA to search Americans’ photographs, emails, and other communications without warrant or probable cause.”[5]

The principle outlined in the collectively signed letter – that congressional hearings “should be conducted in accordance with this country’s highest principles of transparency and openness” is sound enough.  But the practice of the republic has followed different rationales and principles, deliberating about the effects of s. 702 without actually altering it dramatically.  Transparent governance has become the rhetoric of false practice, and NSA programs such as PRISM and Upstream its scolding and repudiating children.

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

Notes:

Image: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder speaks during a news conference in Flint, Mich., in this Jan. 11, 2016, file photo. (Photo: Jake May/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP, File)

A newly obtained document and related emails released on Thursday show that while the residents of Flint, Michigan were slowly being poisoned by lead-contaminated water last year, the offices of state officials in the city were “quietly” outfitted with water coolers by Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration.

The emails—obtained by Progress Michigan and posted online here (pdf)—reveal an exchange between employees of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) and other state officials regarding in-house “concern about Flint’s WQ [water quality]” that occurred at a time in 2015 when many residents still had no idea there was a problem with the city’s public water and more than ten months before Gov. Rick Snyder ultimately declared a state of emergency over the crisis. The document at issue—dated January 7, 2015—is an administrative order showing the state had decided to provide bottled-water coolers “positioned near water fountains” in state offices so that workers could “choose which water to drink.”

Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, said the emails and document offer new evidence of the Snyder administration’s indifference towards the people of Flint.

“It appears the state wasn’t as slow as we first thought in responding the Flint Water Crisis,” said Scott in a statement.

“Sadly, the only response was to protect the Snyder administration from future liability and not to protect the children of Flint from lead poisoning. While residents were being told to relax and not worry about the water, the Snyder administration was taking steps to limit exposure in its own building.”

The governor, continued Scott, should immediately “explain to the people of Flint why his administration trucked water into a state building while allowing residents to drink unsafe water.”

In addition to adding to the enormous available evidence revealing the Snyder’s administration lackluster (if not criminal) response to the water crisis in Flint, Scott said the documents also make it plain just “ineffective” and “unequal” the state’s handling of the situation has been.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s attack on refugees in Calais and Dunkirk, France as a “bunch of migrants” during Prime Minister’s Question Time in parliament Wednesday was deliberately inflammatory.

Some 9,000 people—most fleeing wars and instability instigated and fanned by British imperialism in their home countries-are currently trapped in the French ports. Refused entry to France and Britain, many live in make-shift shanty towns, eking out an existence on “charitable” handouts, or trying to make often life-claiming attempts to cross the Channel to the UK.

In the furore that followed Cameron’s comment, many pointed to the fact that it was made on January 27, Holocaust Memorial Day, as if it were an unfortunate coincidence. It is nothing of the sort.

Just as in the 1930s, capitalism in crisis threatens to drag humanity into a new and even greater catastrophe, poisoning the atmosphere with nationalist and racist filth in order to legitimise the turn to war and dictatorship.

Cameron’s remark must be placed in the context of the demand of European governments for the sealing of borders with armed guards, and the resort to other police-state measures. Only last week, under the banner of clamping down on migration and tackling “extremism”, Cameron announced that he intended to introduce a “language test” for all migrants and said that Muslim women should be forced to remove face veils, like hijabs and niqabs, when asked by public officials.

Cameron presented this as less draconian than the blanket ban enforced in France, but this week the chief inspector of schools announced that schools could be marked as “inadequate” if they allow staff or pupils to wear veils in the classroom. This induces head teachers to implement a ban, lest their school be penalised and placed in special measures.

As for Cameron’s reference to the Calais migrants, he is known to prepare carefully with a team of advisers for Prime Minister’s Question Time every Wednesday at midday, with his responses scripted to achieve the maximum effect.

All of which makes the full content of his response politically revealing.

Cameron was answering a question from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the tax settlement reached by Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC) with Google. Seven years after HMRC began investigating its complex tax arrangements, the internet giant has agreed to pay a paltry £130 million on years of back taxes.

At the equivalent of a 3 percent tax rate, the deal has been condemned by other European governments who regard it as proof that the UK is setting itself up as a tax haven.

More fundamentally, the arrangement has caused public anger after seven years of government-mandated austerity that includes savage cuts in vital social and welfare provision. On the same day as Cameron’s questioning, a legal challenge in the High Court to the “bedroom tax”–the withdrawal of housing benefit for those deemed to have “too many” bedrooms–exposed how people face losing their homes as a consequence.

In parliament, Corbyn cited a question from “Geoff, a working man over the age of 30” who wanted to ask the prime minister if “there is a scheme that I can join that has the same rate of tax as Google?”

Criticising HMRC for failing to get a better deal, Corbyn went on, “Many people will say this: ‘Why is there one rule for big multinational companies and another for ordinary self-employed people and small businesses’?”

Refusing to answer the question, Cameron retorted instead, pointing at Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, that the

“idea that those two right honourable gentlemen would stand up to anyone in this regard is laughable. Look at their record over the last week.

“They met with the unions and gave them flying pickets. They met with the Argentineans, they gave them the Falkland Islands. They met with a bunch of migrants in Calais, they said they could all come to Britain. The only people they never stand up for are the British people and hardworking taxpayers.”

Cameron’s answer makes plain that anti-immigrant propaganda is an integral part of his government’s defence of corporate interests based on austerity and militarism. In bringing together in one attack the “hot button” issues of the far right, he underscored that these interests are inseparably bound to the mobilisation of the most reactionary social layers. And, in raising the spectre of “flying pickets”, last seen in Britain in the 1984-85 miners’ strike, he exposed the secret fear of the bourgeoisie–an insurrectionary movement of the working class.

All of which makes Labour’s mealy-mouthed protestations over the prime minister’s remarks even more pathetic.

Yvette Cooper, who leads Labour’s taskforce on refugees, complained that Cameron’s lack of “statesmanship like language” risked undermining “cross party consensus on such a sensitive issue.”

This consensus only exists because, outside of rhetoric, little separates Labour’s policy on migration from that of the Tories. The policy of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and organisations such as Save the Children, is to pressure Cameron to allow just 3,000 unaccompanied children to be admitted to the UK.

In fact, visiting the French camps at the weekend, Corbyn pointedly refused to put a figure on the number of refugees he believed should be admitted to the UK. While arguing for politicians “to be a bit more human,” he said only that Britain should do more to process the asylum claims of those with a British family connection.

Corbyn’s actual statement on “flying pickets” is also a fudge. Cameron was referring to the Labour leader’s remark that he would repeal aspects of the anti-trade union legislation first introduced under the Conservative-administration of Margaret Thatcher should Labour win office. Corbyn said that “sympathy” strike action should be allowed, while stating that a Labour government would leave “closed shop” laws—where every worker must be a union member—in place. Asked if he would support the use of flying pickets as a part of this sympathy action, Corbyn avoided answering directly, implying that the issue was irrelevant as “the number of strikes [is] actually very small.”

Pressed on whether he would support other workers in the National Health Service joining the junior doctor’s strike—currently suspended—the Labour leader again refused to be drawn.

As for the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, which Thatcher went to war over in 1982, Corbyn has merely called for “dialogue” with Argentina over their fate–suggesting a “Northern Ireland-style power-sharing deal” that would supposedly accommodate the interests of all sides.

Such pronouncements make clear the dangers posed to working people by the claim—promoted by the pseudo-left—that Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party provides a means of defending workers’ interests.

While the bourgeoisie determinedly marshals its resources, Corbyn—in the rotten time-honoured tradition of the Labour “left”—acts to demobilise workers and youth by concealing the real state of class tensions beneath soothing homilies of how everything can be resolved peacefully and to the satisfaction of all if only notions of “human decency” and wiser heads can prevail.

Pentagon Prepares Another War in Libya

January 29th, 2016 by Bill Van Auken

A little less than five years after launching a war against Libya on the “humanitarian” pretext of preventing a supposedly imminent massacre, the United States and its European allies are preparing a new military assault against the oil-rich North African country under the bloodstained banner of the “war on terrorism.”

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook confirmed Wednesday that Washington is “looking at military options” in relation to Libya and acknowledged that US special operations troops are operating on the ground there in a bid to “get a sense of who the players are, who might be worthy of US support and support from some of our partners as we go forward.”

The Pentagon spokesman’s remarks echoed earlier comments by the US military’s senior commander. “It’s fair to say that we’re looking to take decisive military action against ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] in conjunction with the political process” in Libya, Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last Friday. “The president has made clear that we have the authority to use military force.”

As for the presence of special operations troops, that story too was no secret, though largely blacked out by the corporate media. A photograph posted on the Facebook page of the Libyan air force last month showed about 20 American commandos dressed in civilian clothes and carrying automatic weapons. According to the caption that accompanied the photograph, the Libyan forces in charge of the air base “refused their intervention, disarmed them and forced them off Libyan lands.”

Pentagon officials confirmed the incident, while telling NBC News that similar US units have been “in and out of Libya” for “some time now.”

The “human rights” pretext foisted on the public in 2011 and the “terror” pretext being employed today are equally fraudulent. They are both designed to conceal the predatory objectives of military interventions carried out with the aim of imposing US semi-colonial hegemony over countries and regions sitting on top of vast energy resources—in Libya’s case the largest oil reserves on the entire African continent.

It is, however, a measure of the uninterrupted growth of American militarism and the corresponding degradation of American democracy that, while in 2011 Obama delivered a televised speech to the nation providing his phony justifications for the war and then secured a UN Security Council resolution as a legal fig leaf for naked aggression, in 2016 a Marine Corps general casually remarks that he has the authority to launch a new war whenever he sees fit.

In 2011, the story was put out that Libya’s longtime ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, was on the brink of carrying out a wholesale massacre of “peaceful political protesters” in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. Only Western intervention could save lives, Obama and his NATO allies insisted, and there was no time to waste.

These assertions were echoed and amplified by an entire coterie of pseudo-lefts. Some of them, like the French New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) embellished upon the arguments of the imperialist powers, insisting that the defense of the “Libyan revolution” was the paramount issue. In the words of the NPA’s prominent spokesman, academic Gilbert Achcar, “You can’t in the name of anti-imperialist principles oppose an action that will prevent the massacre of civilians.”

Similarly, the University of Michigan professor Juan Cole, whose “left” credentials stemmed from his rather qualified opposition to the Iraq war, declared, “To make ‘anti-imperialism’ trump all other values in a mindless way leads to frankly absurd positions.” For emphasis, he added, “If NATO needs me, I’m there.”

With such support, US imperialism and its European allies, invoking the neocolonialist doctrine of “R2P” (responsibility to protect), turned the UN’s resolution authorizing a no-fly zone to prevent the bombardment of Benghazi into a carte blanche for a war for regime change that saw massive US-NATO bombardments, the deaths of some 30,000 Libyans and the lynch mob torture and murder of Gaddafi in October 2011.

After it was all over, NGOs and human rights groups like the International Crisis Group and Amnesty International acknowledged that there were no factual grounds for claiming that Benghazi had been threatened with a “massacre.”

In the five years that have followed, however, the Libyan people have been plunged into a real and hellish humanitarian catastrophe. As many as two million Libyans, roughly a third of the prewar population, have been forced into exile in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt. Those who remain face catastrophic conditions, with hundreds of thousands internally displaced by the fighting that has raged between rival militias ever since the toppling of Gaddafi.

Human Rights Watch, which supported the US-NATO war of 2011, reported this month that the militias that rule the country have “indiscriminately shelled civilian areas, arbitrarily seized people, tortured and looted, burned, and otherwise destroyed civilian property in attacks that in some cases amounted to war crimes.” It adds that these forces “attack, abduct and disappear, and forcefully displace people from their homes,” while “[t]he domestic criminal justice system collapsed in most parts of the country, exacerbating the human rights crisis.” Thousands of Libyans, as well as foreigners, are imprisoned without charges or trials, many since 2011, in a system of militia-run jails where torture is endemic.

No one, of course, is invoking “R2P” today, under conditions that are indescribably worse than what existed in March of 2011. On the contrary, the pretext for the war now being prepared is combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has established a stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte, the former hometown of Gaddafi that was largely demolished in a protracted siege in 2011.

Those within the political establishment and the media who bother connecting the growth of ISIS in Libya to the US-NATO intervention of 2011 habitually present the matter as a sin of omission: Washington and its allies failed to follow up the bombing campaign with a “nation-building” occupation.

This is, of course, a deliberate cover-up for very real crimes that were committed. ISIS is not some accidental beneficiary of chaos in Libya. Its own growth and development were intimately bound up with the US-NATO war, in which similar Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militias were lavishly armed and funded to serve as ground troops.

After the overthrow and murder of Gaddafi, these same elements, along with vast quantities of arms looted from Libyan government stockpiles, were funneled into Syria as part of a CIA-orchestrated effort to stoke a war for regime change in that country. This operation greatly strengthened ISIS and similar outfits, while Libyans who had been sent to fight in Syria returned home, resulting in the Islamist group’s spread along Libya’s northern coastline.

Thus, the source of the supposed ISIS terrorism threat in Libya—which is the pretext for yet another war—is the endless and escalating succession of military interventions by US imperialism itself, which have plunged the entire region into bloodshed and chaos, while threatening to ignite a global conflagration.

Featured image: Riad Hijab, the coordinator of the so-called High Negotiations Committee ©AFP

The Syrian “opposition’s” High Negotiations Committee (HNC), announced from the Saudi capital Riyadh that it would not participate in the peace talks in Geneva on Friday. The announcement came as the Syrian government reasserts sovereignty over large swaps of territory previously held by various foreign-backed insurgencies. The HNC is an umbrella organization for a number of political and militant organizations, including Al-Qaeda franchises. 

It is the second time within a week that the HNC boycotts the talks in Geneva. On Monday, January 26, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced “from Laos” that the talks scheduled for Monday had been delayed. Kerry said that a new date would be announced within 24 – 48 hours.

The boycott of the talks in Geneva on January 29 sabotages the first attempt within two years to find a political settlement to the five-year-long war.

Making an announcement from the Saudi capital Riyadh, the HNC stressed that it would certainly not attend any talks before it had seen “signs of goodwill”; That is, an end to airstrikes, blockades, as well as a number of other guarantees. The HNC had among others “expected” U.N. guarantees of steps including a halt to attacks on civilian areas, a release of detainees, and a lifting of blockades.Syria_Destroyed tank_2015_NEO

These steps have been stipulated in UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2254 (2015) adopted on December 18, 2015. Late Thursday George Sabra, a member of the HNC, said:

“For certain we will not head to Geneva and there will not be a delegation from the High Negotiations Committee tomorrow in Geneva.”

Other HNC members noted that the HNC could be ready to attend talks within three or four days after its demands had been met.

Realities on the Ground make it impossible to meet HNC Demands

The realities on the ground in Syria are making it impossible to meet the HNC’s demands. The HNC demands an end to the bombing of and siege against civilian areas. Meanwhile, insurgents associated to the HNC continue launching attacks from civilian areas. This includes the shelling of residential areas of Damascus and other cities. Weapons, munitions, insurgents and other material continues to flow across the Jordanian, Turkish and Iraqi border, necessitating air strikes. Weapons, logistics and fighters also flow into Syria via the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan.

Air strikes and other operations are also necessary to stop the trafficking of Syrian oil. Stolen oil is either smuggled directly to Turkey or “laundered” via the semi-autonomous northern Iraq. It is noteworthy that the European Union’s decision on April 22, 2013, to lift the ban on the import of Syrian oil from “rebel-held territories” continues to “fuel the war”. The current conditions are making it virtually impossible for the Syrian government to implement a ceasefire without risking that Al-Qaeda and ISIL linked brigades assert control over large swaps of territory.

The HNC’s decision to boycott the talks in Geneva until all of the conditions outlined in UNSC Resolution 2254 (2015) plus additional demands have been met increase the likelihood that the war will continue and will have to end with a military solution. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) supported by National Self Defense Units, Lebanese Hezbollah units, Iranian “advisers” , Russian Air Forces and according to some well-informed local sources known to nsnbc some Russian special forces, continue regaining control over previously “opposition” held territories. Last week the SAA recaptured the strategically important cities of Rabia and Salma in Latakia, from Jabhat Al-Nusrah and Free Syrian Army units. Rabia is no more than 13 kilometers from the Syrian – Turkish border.

HNC and Jaysh Al-Islam – Foreign-backed Mercenaries in New Drag

Special U.N. Envoy De Mistura described the HNC’s boycott of the talks as “a bitter blow”. De Mistura expressed his hope that the talks could be launched within the next few days. The HNC represents political and armed groups including the Islamist Jaysh al-Islam. Jaysh al-Islam is an umbrella for, among others, the Syrian Al-Qaeda franchise Jabhat Al-Nusrah. Jaysh al-Islam also absorbed Liwa-al-Islam, which was responsible for carrying out the chemical weapons attack on Eastern Ghouta in August 2013. The HNC also represents the remnants of the largely defunct Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The majority of FSA fighters have, over the last years, either joined Jabhat Al-Nusrah, ISIL, and other Islamist brigades. Some former FSA fighters, including officers, have reconciled with the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army after it became obvious that regional and international players aimed at the long-term destabilization of the region with radical Islamist mercenaries.

Obama’s War Against the First Black Republic

January 29th, 2016 by Ezili Dantò

 The presence of UN troops in Haiti is to give the impression Haiti is violent and in constant civil strife of its own making.

It is a documented fact that Haiti is one of the least violent nations in the Western Hemisphere. I want human rights organizations and investigative journalists to dispute that statement if it is wrong. Haiti is in constant strife only when the masses, after enduring unspeakable colonially-supported dictatorship and foreign interference, push back and mostly with peaceful civil disobedience. I want human rights organizations and investigative journalists to dispute that statement if it is wrong.

It is also a documented fact that whenever Haitians peacefully, through voting or massive but unarmed protests, expose the colonial violence of the Western powers in Haiti, they come in, under the guise of impartial peacemakers, to  murder the people into silence. As a human rights lawyer I’ve spent my entire career making this case. (Read, The ABCs of Election Violence in Haiti and The October 25th US election masquerade in Haiti.)

The imperial bloodbath is escalating again. Because the Haitian people have, mostly with peaceful means, stopped the US-sponsored fake elections of August 9, Oct 25th and all its scheduled run-offs. They demand that Martelly leave office when his term is up on February 7th, if not before. Local stakeholders have set a transitional means for the people to hold free, fair and inclusive elections without foreign interference. But empire won’t back off, or withdraw its foul UN/PMSC proxies. It has started to pay for pro-imperialist (that is pro-government) counter protests demonstrators, spreading millions of dollars around to fabricate consent to occupation, dictatorship and fake elections.

We’re back to the Andre Apaid era and more image and perception manipulations to manufacture world indifference and consent to UN-US-EU-OAS-NGO terror in Haiti. Yet, the only reason the corrupt and raunchy Michel Martelly is still in office is because of their powerful tyranny against the majority poor in Haiti. (Read, Torture to Silence Dissent in Haiti Is Paid for with US Tax Payers Money.)

Martelly’s son Olivier Martelly is indicted on drug/money laundering charges but no media publishes this. That’s like Barack Obama’s children getting indicted and held in Russian, but it’s kept secret from the American public.
My whole career, I’ve defended Haitians against the wrath of empire. I don’t want to see what the OAS, the UN and CORE group are about to do in Haiti to get their way to preserve Michel Martelly’s unilateral decrees and land giveaways to foreigners these last five years. Empire wants Haiti lands, islands, strategic position, deep water ports, rare iridium, its gold and underwater riches. They have the racist colonial narrative, billions of dollars they’ve siphon off the world’s poor they oppress and weapons to terrorize the planet. I write today to remind everyone that for five years, since 2011, Haitians peacefully demonstrated against Michel Martelly’s rule. In this last year, they’ve stopped his fake elections. Empire is livid. They won’t let go.

Haiti riches are the reasons for the white men’s rapacious and deadly greed. This is why the US-EU representatives in Haiti are desperate for fake elections in Haiti to put in another Gerald Latortue or Michel Martelly replica.
To understand the level of predatory white supremacy’s evilness, rapacious greed and reprehensible colonial stealth, recall that the Haitian revolutionaries abolished slavery in 1804 by beating the French at the Battle of Vertieres. French General Rochambeau was beaten. The white man is such a sore loser, such an absolutely neanderthal  degenerate that 200 years later, in 2004, the French troops that invaded Haiti with the US and Canada, to take down the duly elected Haiti government and usher in this occupation behind a UN front and fake elections was called the “Rochambeau mission.”

That Rochambeau mission is what Haiti faces under the leadership of Barack “General Laplume” Obama. I want journalists to make note of the heretofore peaceful revolution and empire’s bloodshed to come now that they’ve lost and can’t accept it. To recall that from 2004 to 2006, under another Martelly-like, US-citizen leadership in Haiti, the Internationals murdered-by-proxy, from 14,000 to 20,000 Haitian civilians. That US citizen was Gerald Latortue. A former career, UN employee, that George W. Bush imposed to lead Haiti after the United States, France and Canada had financed the Guy Philippe death squads, sweatshop king Andre Apaid, opposition NGOs and the Makout-GNBiste to create civil and social havoc in Haiti. They’re about to ramp it up again, unless the world stands for something decent and good. Spread the truth. Help the Haiti majority stop the US-EU ruling predators – the CORE Group – and their sycophants. You’ll easily recognize them. They’re dressed in sheep’s clothing and are the self-proclaimed friends of Haiti. The internationally acclaimed lovers of justice, fairness and democracy. The truth is the opposite. Always has been.

“The world cannot begin to heal, if those with privilege and access don’t start out from a modicum of truth.” — Èzili Dantò

Ezili Danto is a human rights lawyer, essayist, and Executive Director at Zili Dlo: Clean water, skills transfer and solar energy for Haiti

The Conservative government have blocked access to legal documents that may show the impact of a controversial ‘free trade’ agreement on the NHS.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, known as TTIP, is a US-EU trade deal currently under negotiation, and is avidly supported by the likes of David Cameron and Barack Obama.

The blocked legal documents, campaigners have cautioned, may contain the extent to which, under TTIP,  private NHS contractors could sue the government for introducing policies that negatively impact their profits.

The Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is the most controversial element of TTIP. It allows corporations to sue governments or public bodies before an arbitral tribunal, for policies that are perceived as harmful to their profits. An ‘arbitral tribunal’ is an international hearing, out of the courts and behind closed doors, which decides how much money these companies should get.

The supposed motive is to encourage foreign investment, despite there being no empirical evidence for this (there is no ISDS in any trade agreements Brazil has, or between the US and China).

ISDS is exclusive to foreign investment; US companies gain the right to these international arbitration tribunals, but EU companies must stick to national courts. Thus, ISDS can discriminate in favour of US companies.

The cost of legal proceedings is usually to the tune of millions of dollars, meaning it is only affordable for big business, despite medium to large companies amounting to only half the investors.

On the contrary, favouring American big business would disrupt free competition.

Furthermore, accrediting authority to international tribunals doesn’t fair well for democracy; should decisions about the constraints on national sovereignty take place behind closed doors? Governments have a transparency obligation to their citizens, especially when it’s private companies after public money.

To top it off, there can be a dubious selection of panel members by law firms who specialise in international arbitration. There is a possibility they would choose people who are not impartial. It’s hard to say how far multinational billion dollar US giants have disseminated their influence.

ISDS in Action:ISDS can

The El Salvadorian government is being sued for $300 million by OceanaGold for revoking permission for a gold mine, after public concern that it risked contaminating water supplies through an ISDS clause. They are being chastised for daring to put clean water before profit.

The Ecuadorian government has been ordered to pay $1.77bn for expropriating its oil reserves at a loss to American oil giant Oxy. This is after the indigenous people in the oil-rich Ecuadorian-Amazon region accused the company of exploiting the resources, with no benefit to the poor and local communities. The US group also sold a part of an oil field without proper authorisation to Canada’s Alberta Energy Corp. Shame on them for exercising sovereignty over their own resources for the good of the residents.

Argentina was sued by international utility companies for imposing a freeze on people’s energy and water bills. It was these companies’ large charges that had prompted the government to act in the first place.

Big tobacco – Phillip Morris – is  using a trade agreement between Australia and Hong Kong to sue Australia for replacing cigarette packet branding with gruesome anti-smoking images. In the UK, MPs voted in favour of bringing in standardised plain cigarette packaging for May this year. If TTIP had already been implemented, big tobacco would have been able to sue the UK taxpayer for millions, for the government putting public health before private profit.

TTIP and the removal of ‘red tape’

red tape

ISDS is just the tip of the iceberg. Currently, when updates of Cameron’s EU negotiations are broadcast on the BBC, they speak of the removal of ‘red tape’. What they are referring to is the abolition of regulations, often concerning the environment or public health. TTIP is the homogenisation of ‘non-tariff measures’ in the US and the EU, with the aim of economic growth; i.e. abolishing regulation so we adhere to American standards of ‘free-trade’.

For example, the ‘precautionary principle’: in the EU if there is a suspected risk that an action or policy can cause harm to the public or the environment, science must then say otherwise. There is no such regulation in the US.

Essentially, our governments have taken a look at the world and decided that less regulated capitalism is what we need. The idea that freedom means putting the profit of international corporations before things like public health, the environment and local business is ludicrous. Besides, transatlantic trade is already relatively free. There are not many regulations left.

Does ‘free-trade’ even correspond to economic growth? Who does this growth benefit? NAFTA is a trade deal between Mexico and the US that began in 1994. From 1994- 2014 the income per person increased only by 1% annually.

But, would it have done worse without NAFTA? From 1960-80 Mexico’s GDP per capita nearly doubled (before the neo-liberal handling of the 1980 debt crisis), if that had continued the country would have European living standards today. This is what happened in South Korea. Of course, Mexico is an entirely different scenario to the EU, but this does prove that ‘free-trade’ does not necessitate economic growth for citizens.

The NHS

ISDS could cement present NHS privatisation, making it very costly to reverse, while proceedings are closed off from public scrutiny in kangaroo courts.

nhs image

And while the ISDS clause could stall the reverse of existing NHS privatisation, the TTIP agreement itself could open it up to further privatisation.

In response to a freedom of information request made to see the legal documents, business secretary Sajid Javid said civil servants need:

space in which to seek candid advice from their lawyers. They are less likely to seek such advice if there is an expectation that it will subsequently be disclosable.

The government also stated:

Transparency in the decision making process and access to the information upon which decisions have been made can enhance accountability particularly over significant trade deals such as this.

Yet, this decision is ultimately suspicious. If it weren’t for vast campaigning TTIP would not even be known to the public.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:

If this trade deal is supposed to benefit all of us, why has it been so secretive? The documents we have seen so far have mostly come from Wikileaks or after intense pressure from campaign groups.

Like the kangaroo courts proposed under ISDS, the entirety of TTIP negotiations were supposed to occur away from the public eye.

With the government quietly proposing an inquiry into moving to a pay NHS, while also starving it of funding, it would be naive to think our public health service was safe in their hands. Given what we know of TTIP so far, surely transparency for the public trumps the needs of civil servants.

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“…Denmark is now in competition for the title to be the least attractive country for asylum seekers.” – Michala Bendixen, The Guardian, Jan 27, 2016.

On Tuesday, the Danish Parliament made its position on refugees more than crystal clear.  Had it been eased or modified?  Hardly.  European states have seemingly embarked on a competition of the worst. Instead of hunting for innovative solutions on how to deal with the refugee crisis, the unilateralists have continued to steal the argument.

The unilateralist seizure of the refugee conundrum is an ongoing one best exemplified by the Australian response to the MV Tampa in August 2001. Kept at sea for almost two weeks, and the basis for what would become the Pacific solution, keeping refugees off the Australian mainland, it was indifferent to international law.  A textbook policy has developed as a result: ignore international protocols, embrace sovereign imperatives and securitise the issue.

The new Danish law has a few ghoulish provisions worth nothing.  A seizure provision permits authorities to confiscate assets exceeding $1,450 (10,000 kroner) to cover the upkeep of a migrant’s stay in the country.  Exemptions are made for items of “sentimental value” such as wedding or engagement rings.

The application period for resettled refugees applying for family members to join them is extended from one year to three, though such restrictions have tended to be common after 2013, part of the two and fro of populist reactions.

Danish Foreign Minister, Kristian Jensen, and Immigration and Integration Minister, Inger Støjberg, made the case before the European Parliament on Monday. The bill, so went the argument, was adapted to both maintaining the Danish welfare state and toeing the line of international law.

Progressive German politician Cornelia Ernst, in saying that such a law went “in the wrong direction” failed to see how it could have been appropriately adapted.  “Refugees completely liquidate their households – if they even still have one – and take their last money and valuables with them, which you now confiscate.  How can you ensure there is proportionality there?”

Støjberg’s justification was heavily reductionist, suggesting that people who flee conflict should still be regarded as economically capable.  Put another way, the conflict is virtually irrelevant to the context, mere background noise.  Rather than being deemed exceptional for their suffering, refugees are ordinary persons to be assessed as subjects of financial means, with pocketbooks at the ready.  “When you have such a broad, universal welfare system as the Danish one, this is also based on this basic principle that if you can support yourself you have to do so.”[1]

The restrictions on reunifying family members is similarly reductionist. A ruinous conflict and the crisis it precipitates against families has been cast aside as inconsequential to the issue of reunification.  So what if asylum is granted to an applicant?  It hardly means the others should follow in tow.

Those dumping on this piece of heavy-handed legislation should also remember that the Danish Parliament has been at this before, moving the pendulum on refugee policy to the right over the last three years.  The latest law simply extends the line.

In 2015, the same body passed a regulation that reduced social benefits by up to 50 percent for new refugees, marketing it as an “integration benefit”.  Foreign nationals granted a temporary residence permit would not have the right to bring their family to Denmark within the first year.  A five year waiting period for the grant of permanent residence would be enforced, and language requirements behind obtaining such a residence would also be policed.

All these points became part of an advertising campaign on the part of the Danish government. “Denmark has decided to tighten the regulations concerning refugees in a number of areas,” went the advertisement.  Lebanese papers such as The Daily Star ran the whole complement of changes, reducing the asylum seeking issue to a matter of pure economics: do not come to Denmark, getting welfare, and your family over here, will be a tall order.[2]  Three Arabic-language newspapers also ran the advertisement, and the Immigration and Integration minister made much fanfare about it via Facebook.

The numbers seeking asylum have jumped from 2013 (7,557), doubling the following year, and moving to 21,000 in 2015.[3] These still do not compare to countries which have received greater numbers by far, be there Germany to the south, and the more popular Scandinavian neighbour, Sweden, though Denmark has a higher per capita rate.

Part of the arguments can be made along steely rational lines, though they always come down to the same thing: what we do is our business. The welfare state, funding, as it does, free education and healthcare, does so within a compact of assumptions and understandings.  Civic understanding does not necessarily extend to those not within that community.

Frozen out, non-citizens are condemned to exceptional treatment, marginalisation and distancing.  Humanitarianism is only shown on the off chance.  Nothing typifies this more than the Danish policy on relocating refugees from urban settings to camps, a point that shifts “the focus of government immigration policy to repatriation rather than integration”.[4]  Refugees are to be reminded that they are the unwanted.

The Danish reaction typifies this more than most.  Within its territorial confines, the liberal welfare state can operate at will, with the moralists happy to pontificate about a vile world. Bodies such as the Danish Refugee Council can engage in refugee activism overseas – as long as those refugees remain in other forums.  When the problem comes home, attitudes tend to change – dramatically.

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

Notes:

With ever-growing hysteria, the Establishment is begging, cajoling and warning American voters not to elect a rogue President from the Right or the Left, neither Donald Trump nor Bernie Sanders, but to accept instead one of the “sane” mainstream options. Yet, the unspoken truth is that the American Establishment has been off its rocker for decades.

It was, after all, Official Washington’s Establishment – led by the neoconservatives and their sidekicks, the liberal interventionists – that embraced President George W. Bush’s catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, as costly as that decision was in terms of blood and money and cascading chaos – now destabilizing Europe – the Wise Men and Women imposed virtually zero accountability on themselves or other chief culprits.

Indeed, many of the same neocons who architected the Iraq disaster are listed as top foreign policy advisers to the “sane” candidates, such as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. And Hillary Clinton not only voted for the Iraq War but seemed to learn no lessons from what she only grudgingly acknowledged was a “mistake.” As Secretary of State, she sided with Democratic “liberal interventionists” to engineer another “regime change” in Libya that has led to another failed state, further spreading chaos across the region.

A “sane” Establishment, one that truly cared about the interests of the American people, would have undertaken a serious self-examination after the Iraq War. Yet, there was none. Rather than cleaning house and banishing the neocons and liberal interventionists to the farthest reaches of national power, the Establishment rewarded these warmongers, ceding to them near-total control of American foreign policy thinking.

David Brooks, conservative columnist at The New York Times.

Image: David Brooks, conservative columnist at The New York Times.

If anything, the neocons and liberal hawks consolidated their power after the Iraq War. By contrast, the foreign policy “realists” and anti-war progressives who warned against the invasion were the ones cast out of any positions of influence. How crazy is that!

It was as if supporting the Iraq War was the new initiation rite to join the Establishment’s elite fraternity of worthies, a kind of upside-down application of rewards and punishments that would only make sense at the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice’s Wonderland.

In a sane world, the publishers of The New York Times and The Washington Post would have purged their lead editorial writers who had advocated for the catastrophe. Instead, the Post retained its neocon editorial page editor Fred Hiatt – and nearly all of its pro-war columnists – and the Times even promoted liberal interventionist Bill Keller to the top job of executive editorafter it became clear that he had been snookered about Iraq’s WMD.

Similar patterns were followed across the board, from The New Yorker on the Left to The Wall Street Journal on the Right. Pro-Iraq War writers and commentators continued on as if nothing untoward had happened. They remained the media big shots, rewarded with book contracts and TV appearances.

The same held true for the major think tanks. Instead of dumping neocons, the center-left Brookings Institution went off in search of neocon A-listers to sign, like Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century. The ultra-Establishment Council on Foreign Relations recruited its own neocon “stars,” Max Boot and Elliott Abrams.

And what did this year’s “sane” presidential candidates do as the deadly and dangerous consequences of neocon thinking spread from the Middle East into Europe? They pledged fealty to more neocon strategies. For instance, Establishment favorite, Sen. Marco Rubio, is advocating more “regime change” tough talk and more expansion of U.S. military power.

‘Stay Sane’

Nevertheless, when New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks urges Americans to “stay sane,” he is calling on them to support the likes of Rubio and reject the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had the sanity to vote against the Iraq War, and billionaire Donald Trump, who also questioned the wisdom of the war.

Brooks lamented that his favorite Rubio had resorted to some populist rhetoric of his own recently, but added: “Marco Rubio has had a bad month, darkening his tone and trying to sound like a cut-rate version of Trump and [Ted] Cruz. Before too long Rubio will realize his first task is to rally the voters who detest or fear those men. That means running as an optimistic American nationalist with specific proposals to reform Washington and lift the working class.”

Graphic in Sen. Marco Rubio's plans for spending more on a U.S. military build-up.

Image: Graphic in Sen. Marco Rubio’s plan for spending more on a U.S. military build-up.

Yet Rubio led the parade of dancing candidates who performed at the so-called “Adelson primary,” seeking to win the favors of gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson by vowing to fully sync U.S. policies in the Middle East with positions favored by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (whereas Trump refused to toe that line). And Rubio’s warmed-over right-wing, trickle-down economic orthodoxy is sure to do little to help working- and middle-class Americans.

Brooks offers some dubious history, too, writing

“In every recent presidential election American voters have selected the candidate with the most secure pair of hands. They’ve elected the person who would be a stable presence and companion for the next four years. I believe they’re going to do that again.”

It’s unclear how far back in time Brooks is going. Is he acknowledging that the American voters actually favored Al Gore in Election 2000 although the Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court decided to give the White House to the untested and unreliable George W. Bush? Is Brooks saying that Bill Clinton had more “secure” hands than George H.W. Bush in 1992 and that the radical right-winger Ronald Reagan was more “stable” than Jimmy Carter in 1980?

Indeed, the rapid divide of the United States into a land of haves and have-nots can be traced back, in large part, to Reagan’s economic policies of massive tax cuts primarily favoring the rich – and thus incentivizing greed – and his disparaging the role of democratic governance, which is the only force that can truly counter the power of the wealthy elites.

Since Reagan’s presidency, Republican orthodoxy has been to enact ever more generous tax cuts for the rich while freeing them from government regulation or “red tape.” Republicans along with Establishment Democrats – most notably President Bill Clinton – also favored “free trade” that led major corporations to shift their industrial jobs to Third World low-wage countries.

This combination of tax cuts for the rich, “free trade” for multinational corporations and disdain for “big government” intervention to protect average citizens – along with technological advances – has savaged the Great American Middle Class, which was largely created by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and the major infrastructure investments after World War II. Under President Dwight Eisenhower, the top marginal tax rate for the richest Americans was 90 percent, essentially enforcing an American egalitarianism.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a press conference.

Image: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a press conference.

The abandonment of those hard-earned lessons from the Great Depression — a reversal accomplished  primarily by Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush — returned U.S. income inequality to levels not seen since the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

The Trump phenomenon can only be understood by factoring in the frustration and fear of the white working class that has shifted Republican since the 1960s because of anger over the Democrats supporting equal rights for blacks and other minorities. But those working-class whites now sense that the GOP leadership is selling them out, too, by favoring the ultra-rich donor class and willing to sacrifice their sons and daughters to implement unrealistic neocon foreign-policy schemes.

So these downwardly mobile white Americans are in rebellion and have embraced billionaire Trump, who rejects politics as usual and understands something of their blue-collar mindset because of his experience on popular reality TV shows.

Democratic Populism

Something similar is happening on the Democratic side through another imperfect vessel, Bernie Sanders. Democratic progressives see the consequences of a steady retreat by mainstream liberals on economic and foreign policy issues since Reagan’s election.

Rather than fight to convince the white working class about the need for democratic governance, Bill Clinton and other neo-liberals fashioned a strategy of catering to Wall Street and other rich donors by offering “free market” financial deregulation and “free trade” deals on manufacturing.

Sanders represents the first candidate for president in recent memory who has offered a full-throated defense of government as a necessary counter-balance to the power of the rich over both the economy and the electoral process (though President Obama has paid some lip service to those principles).

By contrast, Hillary Clinton represents a continuation of the cozy relations between the so-called New Democrats and the wealthy power centers of high finance and big corporations. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Clintons’ Paid-Speech Bonanza.”]

Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN.

Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN.

She also advocates foreign military interventions in line with what the neocons have sought as they demand U.S. fealty to Israeli interests. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Hillary Clinton Seeks Neocon Shelter.”]

As a senator, Clinton voted for the Iraq War – and as Secretary of State, she sided with the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies in escalating the war in Afghanistan, in engineering a bloody “regime change” in Libya, and in pushing for a direct U.S. military intervention in the Syrian civil war (via the creation of so-called “safe zones”).

Though Sanders’s foreign policy positions can be something of a muddle, he is generally more skeptical about U.S. military adventures than Clinton.

So, who are the crazy ones here? Does it make more sense to follow Hillary Clinton’s Establishment-friendly positions on issues from Wall Street regulation to Syrian military intervention or to support Bernie Sanders’s more aggressive strategy against income inequality and less aggressive approach toward foreign conflicts?

Similarly, on the Republican side, is it nuttier to back Rubio and other Establishment favorites who would effectively let Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu set U.S. policy in the region, even if that means invading Syria and accepting permanent warfare – or Trump who suggests letting the Russians and Iranians share the burden of battling Islamic extremists?

Clearly, the Establishment would have a stronger case if it hadn’t led the United States into one catastrophe after another, while refusing to hold its own representatives accountable.

There is the old line about insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What David Brooks and other Establishment figures are demanding is that the American voters keep electing the same system-approved neocon/neolib presidents again and again and expecting something better for the nation.

Is that “staying sane” or “staying insane”?

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

Syriza and the Greek Debt Crisis: Austerity Unbroken

January 29th, 2016 by Jannis Milios

Much coverage of the Greek debt crisis has focused on the ‘troika’ of international creditors and German chancellor Angela Merkel – a striking image of parasitic foreign powers scapegoating the country for personal gain.

In some corners of the Left, this narrative has fueled the demand for ‘Grexit’ (a Greek exit from the eurozone) under the impression that such a move would create a more favorable environment for a break with austerity. This animated the Left Platform’s disagreements with Syriza’s bargaining-table approach and their later metamorphosis into Popular Unity.

Jannis Milios, once Syriza’s chief economic adviser, aligns neither with Syriza nor with Popular Unity. He views Syriza’s current program as a reversal of its original radical one. Yet his alternative to Greek president Alexis Tsipras’s approach is not Grexit, but a confrontation with Greece’s domestic capitalists. Athens-based journalist Alp Kayserilioğlu recently sat down with Milios to discuss the history of Syriza, the purpose of the eurozone, and the power of the country’s domestic bourgeoisie.*

Alp Kayserilioğlu (AK): How would you characterize Syriza, and how would you explain their swift rise the last years, which culminated in their election to government?

Jannis Milios (JM): To understand the situation of the Greek left today, you have to look back into history. There was a big split in the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in 1968. One part of the KKE, the so-called KKE Interior, more and more developed into a very pro–status quo, conservative Eurocommunist party while the other, KKE, over time turned into a post-Stalinist, pro-Moscow communist party.

A dockworker in Greece. Vagelis Poulis / Flickr.

A dockworker in Greece. Vagelis Poulis / Flickr.

But both shared similar reformist and gradualist thoughts on making Greece “less dependent” through more economic growth (of Greek capitalism, of course), which was conceived as a transition phase to an anti-monopolist democracy, before gradually the transition to socialism could be completed.

It is this very shift in their ideological and practical stance that made possible the foundation of Synapismos in 1989, which was originally an alliance of the former KKE Interior (at that time renamed to Greek Left-EA) and the KKE with other non-communist political groups or cadres.

The shift toward these type of alliances explains the decision of both communist parties to join a “caretaker” government under the leadership of Nea Demokratia, or New Democracy (ND) in 1989; that proved to be a disaster since it fully stabilized and legitimized neoliberal ideology and policies.

When the KKE left the caretaker government and Synapismos in 1990, many of its cadres remained, constituting another split in the KKE. That’s when it adopted its massively sectarian and isolationist stance, well-summarized by its old slogan of “Five parties, two policies” (i.e. KKE versus everybody else).

On the other hand, following this split in the KKE and Synapismos, Synapismos was transformed from an alliance into a political party in 1991. Synapismos was then the main driving force in founding Syriza in 2004, initially an alliance of Synapismos with several other political groups of the Left including at least four of the “revolutionary extra-parliamentarian Left.”

After 2004, with the support and strength of these new political organizations, Syriza secured somewhere around 4 to 5 per cent in parliamentary elections (half as much as KKE). They became more and more involved in the movements. The majority of its members were radicalizing, adopting the radical left’s political positions.

In 2006 they played a decisive role in the struggle of students against the privatization of the universities. In December 2008 when Alexandros Grigoropoulos was murdered [a student shot by police in Athens], Syriza was the only major party that didn’t simply condemn the violent mass uprisings that took place afterwards, but raised the question about the causes of the unrest. And Syriza was attacked for this non-condemnation, especially from the side of the KKE.

However, the major turning point was the square movements. Around 25 to 33 per cent of the population across Greece joined these movements from March 2011 to February 2012. That was the movement that tipped the balance in favor of Syriza. Immediately its electoral support rose, first capturing 16.8 per cent of the vote in May 2012, then 26.89 per cent only six weeks later, in June 2012, definitively becoming the second most powerful party.

As for the internal composition of Syriza, while Synapsismos (itself derived from the KKE tradition) constituted their main body, as it approached government in the wake of 2012, a part of its leadership began taking on a social-democratic reformist stance; on the other hand, it attracted members and groups from the alter-globalization movement and the spirit of Genoa 2001.

The latter part gave the coalition a more radical edge. Tsipras himself is a former member of the radical youth organization of Synaspismos, which was an element of the more radical part of the coalition. However, the majority of the Synapismos leadership started to push Syriza toward the center left, especially after the electoral success of 2012; this sped up after the 2014 elections for the European Parliament, and they managed to change Tsipras along the way.

Around the time of Syriza’s 2012 success, internal democratic workings of the party were becoming irrelevant and the leadership more and more took on an autonomous stance. This trend deepened after the elections for the EU parliament in 2014: in these elections, Syriza was the top party with 26.57 per cent of the votes. All the documents that were published in this time, like the programs of 2012, the political resolution of the first congress of Syriza in 2013 and so on, they were just fig leafs hiding the center-left turn of Syriza’s leadership.

AK: One can discern the change in the documents themselves. The resolution of the first congress of Syriza in 2013 expresses the party’s two souls: it talks about socialism of the twenty-first century, but also about a mixed economy, productive reconstruction, and so on.

JM: Yes, yes, exactly. A part of the Syriza leadership had already made compromises with the Greek bourgeoisie; people like [Deputy Prime Minister] Yannis Dragasakis cared about being portrayed in mass media as responsible guys who care about productive reconstruction and competitiveness of the economy (i.e. of Greek capitalism). And Syriza began flirting with center-left politicians and small center-left parties like Dimar, a former split from Syriza.

And the ideological shift that took place within Syriza is exactly how you described it: slowly the main focus shifted from wealth redistribution, taxing the rich, building up a social economy, and so on toward more supposedly neutral terms like growth, productive reconstruction, combating the humanitarian crisis, etc. that portrayed the society and the economy as something where we all share the same interests and where we aren’t divided along class lines.

All these political and ideological shifts manifested themselves in the Thessaloniki Program of September 2014, which dropped many of the original demands and slogans of Syriza and was deprived of anything that could’ve been understood as anticapitalist.

By December 2014 – before Syriza became the government – I had already decided not to participate in the elections or in the Syriza government that was going to be formed. I made my decision public on December 31, 2014, and when Tsipras called me one day after the elections in January 2015 and told me that he had good portfolios to offer me I thanked him and repeated my arguments about why I had decided not to be a minister in the new government.

I hoped that by staying out of the parliament and the government I could more effectively influence the party’s base to resist this shift from the party’s original radical program.

What I mean is that when Syriza became the government the shift had solidified. They were playing the lesser-evil game, a new memorandum with less austerity and more room to make decisions. Yanis Varoufakis accepted 70 per cent of the memoranda – whatever that means – right after becoming finance minister and signed a preliminary agreement on February 20 that inscribed a continuation of the logics of the memoranda.

Syriza then put forward its supposed red lines as a fig leaf to conceal the compromises they made: maintenance of the existing neoliberal framework as it had been shaped in the four years of austerity memoranda though without any further reductions of wages and pensions, hikes in the VAT, insisting on ending the humanitarian crisis and so on.

In the process of the negotiations and with the third memorandum in July 2015 most of those “red lines” were completely cast aside, but the rhetoric of “we fought with all our forces but were defeated by a stronger enemy” could be retained in a plausible manner.

And Tsipras was reelected in September 2015 precisely on the grounds of him being able to convince the people of the notion that he had fought hard and that he is the lesser evil, that he follows the austerity memoranda only because he was beaten by stronger foreign forces.

I actually do think that we have better chances of reorganizing again as long as people voted for Tsipras and Syriza thinking “at least we have kept the really bad outside.” Because with time, as they see that Syriza is doing exactly what every other party since the memoranda also did, they will intensify the struggle against the neoliberal austerity framework and the state, since they will see that even the lesser evil is evil enough.

AK: And what do you think is to be done now after the complete defeat of Syriza? To me there seems to prevail a spirit of resignation and surrender.

JM: What we need to do now is to start from the beginning. We are now in a situation as it was, let’s say, around 2000. We need to reconstruct an alternative from below and any idea of a progressive left government is at the moment, because of Syriza, dead. We need completely new and different slogans and different ways now to begin again. We cannot use the old concepts, methods, and slogans – they just won’t work anymore.

AK: So you don’t think that the new party, Popular Unity, is going to succeed?

JM: Yes indeed, I think that’s precisely why they haven’t succeeded so far and won’t succeed in the future. You know, my main problem with Lafazanis, Lapavitsas, and LAE is that they are way too similar to Syriza in its “original,” more radical form, with the addition of the focus on exiting the eurozone and/or the EU.

Lafazanis does the same as Tsipras did: he has this style of “vote me into government and I will solve the problems” instead of shifting the focus toward “look, you people should fight and I will assist you in your struggles.” It’s this classical étatist or governmentalist stance of the traditional Greek left.

On the other hand, Greeks, despite the crisis, have some wealth in form of deposits, cars, apartments, and the like, and they naturally fear a devaluation of a new currency if Greece would quit the eurozone. People won’t go for a straightforward exit of the eurozone, which is a very difficult venture if they don’t see why they should do so.

Our main tactics and our focus should not be on the question of the eurozone and the EU but on an anticapitalism that is based on developing methods of self-management of the people. We can only pose the question of leaving the eurozone or EU if it’s based in constructing alternative modes of self-management and economy that have an anticapitalist drive.

If we see that while engaging in our anticapitalist struggles the eurozone and the EU become a fetter, then we can pose the question of leaving both. But we shouldn’t do it the other way round as LAE does – that is, to first pose the question of exiting the eurozone (in order to supposedly promote “growth”) and then caring about the social struggles and a possible anticapitalist edge of the same.

There is this obsession with exiting the eurozone and/or EU and rescuing Greece within this part of the Left. This, however, is because of a peculiar and persistent patriotic trend within the Greek left. In the two phases of the Civil War (1944–45 and 1946–49), the Left, including the National Liberation Front (EAM) and the Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELAS), claimed to be more patriotic and authentic Greeks over their collaborationist and monarchist opponents. This was emphasized more than their communist or socialist identity.

They saw Greece as a dependent colony that is kind of colonially exploited by imperialism and has to be rescued from the fetters of imperialism and colonialism first so as to then, some day, go forward toward socialism. This kind of patriotic left identity continues to have a strong effect today.

AK: Pasok came out of former Prime Minister Papandreou’s Panhellenic Liberation Movement (PAK), a organization resisting the military dictatorship. PAK saw Greece as an “industrial and military satellite of the USA” under “neocolonial domination,” necessitating an armed anti-imperialist national liberation movement.

JM: Exactly! That’s what I’m trying to tell you. To name a characteristic example, you have Markos Vafiadis, an old ELAS chief commander, a communist, who was an MP of the old “radical” Pasok, which was stuck on this national liberation discourse that neglected domestic class antagonisms – and Greece was in a time of massive capital profitability and growth.

It is this tradition of Greek left-wing patriotism which continues today when, for example, Lafazanis keeps talking of Greece as a debt colony or of Germany alone dominating Greece and similar things. In reality the EU ascension process was a strategic choice of the dominant factions of Greek capital to upgrade and reinforce their own position domestically against labour and internationally in the international division of labour.

The institutional framework of the EU and the eurozone should be understood as a framework that enforces neoliberalism for the sake of the collective capitalists of all the countries that join these frameworks instead of as a mere colonial project of Germany or whatever.

AK: I get your point. But don’t you think that there is some kind of a material basis for an argument concerning very unequal power relations between Greece and Germany within the EU? That Greece as a minor imperialist or sub-imperialist power is dependent in ways Germany, as a major imperialist power, is not?

Greece did lose much of its agricultural and industrial basis in the EU ascension, which makes it very vulnerable. You can cope without importing solar cells from China for some time, but you can’t cope without importing food if your economy is dependent on this – which is the case with Greece. This was obviously used as leverage against the Syriza government.

JM: Well of course Greece is a small country compared to Germany, but what is the big difference between Greece and other small countries in the EU like Denmark or Finland? There was indeed a major deindustrialization process, but that happened across European countries.

Greece’s strong industrial sectors are oil processing, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and basic metals. Apart from that Greece has restructured into a capitalist service economy focusing especially on shipping, tourism, software, and lottery. Did you know that Greek ship owners possess more than 20 per cent of the world’s tanker commercial fleet? We do have big capitalists in Greece.

AK: OK. So what do you say should’ve been done under Syriza?

JM: They should’ve focused on changing social relations inside Greece. First of all start taxing the rich, make them pay for their massive profits, which they fully protect through low taxes, tax exemptions, and tax evasion. Then stop the payments to the troika and tell them: “Sorry, but we can’t pay right now. You are not giving us the tranches you owe us. So how can we pay you back? Let’s see if we can after we have managed our economy. Until then, no payments.”

Contrary to popular opinion I don’t think that this would’ve been classified as default. Standard and Poor’s, among other rating agencies, even said that they wouldn’t classify such a move by Greece as an act of default. Third, start installing capital controls before a bank run occurs, so as to stop capital from fleeing the country or any other actions that would destabilize the economy.

AK: Well don’t you think that exactly these kind of moves would’ve induced a very strong reaction by the Greek bourgeoisie and the EU at the same time? Wouldn’t being prepared to battle the EU then also be a part of fighting the Greek bourgeoisie itself? And shouldn’t a left alternative seek to reconstruct parts of Greece’s agricultural and industrial potential to reduce unequal dependence?

JM: Of course it would’ve induced a very strong reaction by the EU, and yes, that fight would also entail fighting the Greek bourgeoisie. I just say focus on the class relations within Greece.

We should have done a radical left, Jacobin-style politics: throw in anything you got, issue IOUs if necessary, terrorize the bourgeoisie with taxes, capital controls, whatever means you can mobilize. And all the while foster workers control in the workplaces, build up closed cooperatives, and so on.

And of course we need to reconstruct our agricultural and industrial potential, but with the workers and citizens initiatives playing a decisive role in it. But this again is also partly a struggle that is to be fought primarily within Greece.

For example look at the agricultural land. Banks by now possess so much agricultural land because of farmers that went bankrupt. You should go and seize those lands and give them to big cooperatives under workers control and reconstruct the agricultural potential and also the industrial potential in this manner.

And within this framework of a clearly class-based politics, changing social relations within Greece, you confront the pressure by the EU and if necessary announce a referendum on the relation with the eurozone and/or the EU. It would’ve been better to go on the offensive as I just outlined and fail and be voted out of office again than to not have even tried out your own way.

While you still operate within capitalism, you use the state as a means of doing class politics and strengthen labour in the economy and society. I do think that there are only two systems – capitalism and communism – but there is no simple hop between them. ”

That means that while you still operate within capitalism, you use the state as a means of doing class politics and strengthen labour in the economy and society. I do think that there are only two systems – capitalism and communism – but there is no simple hop between them. You have an in-between that is socialism, which is a mixture of capitalism and communism.

I mean, just look at the Soviet Union or the struggle of the Left in Latin America. If Syriza would’ve followed what I just proposed, they would’ve arrived at a compromise within, of course, the capitalist system but one which would have had a much stronger position and counter-hegemony of labour on which you could base yourself to push ever more forward. You need to go for a process of constantly revolutionizing social conditions to achieve communism – there is no single hop.

Anyway, the point with Syriza was that it followed the typical social-democratic rationale according to which workers and capital have some common interests like growth, productive reconstruction, and so on, and that’s why they didn’t go on the offensive. Which, I think, would have been possible.

Just look at the massive street participation with the referendum of July 5. And then again the vote was clearly divided along class lines: you would often have an “oxi” of around 70 to 80 per cent in working-class quarters and a “nai” around 70 to 80 per cent in the quarters of the bourgeoisie. It was clearly a class-based referendum, and you could see the mass potential for engaging in a social offensive in the inland.

AK: Don’t you also think that one of the major problems of Syriza was its conception as a classical bourgeois party? That is to say: the party represents the popular will in the parliament while the movements make a little noise on the streets to support the struggle of the parliamentary party – unlike the Bolshevik party model of a fighting party that in the first instance takes part in the forefront of all progressive social struggles to push them forward and uses the parliament only as a tribune or tool?

JM: Exactly, that’s the classical governmentalism of the Greek left. I’d add to this what I’d call the rationalist chimera. They really thought that the issue was one of epistemological mistakes; that the troika, the EU, etc. made mistakes and could be convinced by rational arguments to do the right thing.

Syriza completely misunderstood that austerity is all about strengthening capital and that there is no “right” or “wrong” in this but class interest. And from this point of view, Varoufakis clearly was a very good choice as finance minister.

On the one hand he was already a semi-neoliberal guy. You remember he said that “we agree with 70 per cent of the reforms or commitments that have already been laid out in the memorandum” once he became finance minister. But then again he had that “radical communication style” that made it look as if Syriza was putting up a really serious fight, which was their main argument when they accepted the third memorandum: “we tried our best, but they were too strong.”

AK: In one of your essays, you say that counting on Russia and China is political exotism or wishful thinking of the extreme right wing. What exactly do you mean by that? If you ask me, I’d go for closer relations with Russia and China if I were in government. Not because I find either of them sympathetic – on the contrary – but because I’d need to substitute the trade relations with other European countries, which would probably break apart due to the conflicts our radical class-based program would create with the EU.

JM: But I’d still need to import very important goods as long as I haven’t reconstructed my agriculture and industry. And I think it’s a good idea to build trade relations with capitalist countries that are hostile to the EU bloc; they’ll give you better trade conditions because they also have an interest in harming the EU bloc. I’d of course also go for closer relations with Venezuela and Cuba, for on top of the aforementioned arguments they’re also ideologically and politically much closer to my alternative.

On Venezuela, as an example among others, I’d agree. Concerning Russia, apart from it being a very conservative and imperialist power which makes any closer relations rather difficult from my point of view, I think that it has very sensitive relations with the EU and Germany and can’t risk harming them more. The EU is a very big player and nobody, not even China, would want to go into direct confrontation with it.

Also I think that the central issues are not the trade relations but finance. It’s the banks that are your Achilles heel, not trade relations. But concerning trade relations, I’d say that trade with Russia and China could only help out in the short run. They won’t substitute for trade relations with EU or other advanced economies.

What is true is that, for example, the port of Piraeus is one of the best in the world, and it has a comparative advantage of five to six hours versus Italian ports in international transportation of goods to central and northern Europe.

With the planned Chinese investment this would rise to two to three days. But then again the problem with the Chinese investment into Piraeus is that it will be privatized to Chinese entrepreneurial interests, instead of being restructured on a public and cooperative basis. Again, something you wouldn’t prefer to do as a left alternative in power.

Concerning me calling a perspective on Russia and China political exotism and wishful thinking of the extreme right wing: this has something to do with political matters and conflicts in Greece. On the one hand you have the fascists of the Golden Dawn. They are connected with Russian far-right forces and thus speak in favor of Russia. Contrary to most of their European peers they, for example, are not at all supporting the Ukrainian fascists but are strongly on the side of Russia.

On the other hand you would have some people who still think that the Soviet Union continues to exist, i.e. Russia is an anti-imperialist power that by definition will support left or democratic governments or political parties in Western Europe. This I do not find a serious argument.

Alp Kayserilioğlu is a freelance communist journalist in Greece. Jannis Milios is Syriza’s former chief economic adviser.

OAS you’re not welcome in Haiti, Haiti does not need another OAS electoral coup detat like 2010

Haiti stands as one with this one message to the new OAS mission that has invited itself  to Haiti – “No. The OAS has no credibility in Haiti. The OAS is part of the problem not the solution.”

“Nou konnen byen ke Etazini kontrole OEA. Yo te deja voye John Kerry, Kenneth Merten, Peter Mulrean e Samantha Powers pou fè presyon sou pèp Ayisyen, Jude Celestin epi sa pa byen pase pou yo. Se rans. Pa okipe yo. Aba OEA, Aba LONU, Aba CORE GROUP. Viv Ayiti.”

The Organization of American States (“OAS”) with the Hillary Clinton State Department and Cheryl Mills, adjusted the votes in 2010 to place Michel Martelly into the runoff that propelled him into office. Clinton email – https://goo.gl/JwSd4S .)

This electoral fraud committed by the Hillary Clinton State Dept with the OAS caused five years of political gridlock and instability in Haiti. Martelly’s lack of legitimacy not to mention his disqualification to be president because he once held a U.S passport set Haiti democracy back decades, just as the US-supported 1991 and 2004 coup detats did.

For four years, Martelly ruled unofficially by decree and formally by decree since Jan 12, 2015. His authoritarianism and dictatorship was supported and upheld by the International community – from the CORE GROUP to the OAS. These Internationals lorded over our heads and enabled Martelly, his degenerate rule and destruction of Haiti institutions – including the Parliament and Judiciary for five years.

After an immense and peaceful struggle, the people of Haiti have ousted Michel Martelly and the clock is running out for his term to expire on February 7, 2016.

Yesterday, January 27, 2016, the OAS decided to authorize a special mission to come to Haiti, supposedly to “help the troubled nation find a way out of a simmering political crisis and set a new date for a runoff election.”

The OAS is not welcome in Haiti to come and cause another five years of hell for the people with a Martelly replica or an Opont replica. Local Haiti has an exit plan in place for after Martelly leaves to conduct free and fair elections. The G8 group has adopted the recommendations of the Electoral Evaluation Commission and set forth proposals to be discussed only among Haitian stakeholders and the Haitian people. Haiti has had enough of the CORE Group, UN, EU and OAS interference.

They’ve acted as tyrants but are good at writing boiler plate rhetoric outlining their self-proclaimed neutrality, professionalism or impartial position. Hillary Clinton’s emails reveal a different scenario. Their partner in crime, Pierre Louis Opont himself, the president of the Haitian electoral council both in 2010 and in 2015, has publicly testified that he gave the Internationals one result and returned a different one. These emperors are naked. The evidence of their perfidy, immorality, illegality, corruption and unwelcome interference in Haiti affairs is glaring.

There even a former OAS official named Ricardo Seitenfus who has detailed in articles and books how the OAS and international communities doctored the Haiti elections in 2010. Pierre Louis Opont said Cheryl Mills and the OAS adjusted the results to place Martelly in power. This OAS has no credibility in Haiti. The OAS mission is not welcome to insert itself in the new transitional government discussions that is being put together by the people of Haiti mostly to fix the mess the OAS left in Haiti in 2011 with Martelly. The OAS is not welcome to conduct another electoral coup detat in Haiti. (Pierre Louis Opont Explained How Hillary Clinton Ordered Reversal of Haiti 2010 P. E. Results. Watch the video here.)

The United States has already sent John Kerry, Kenneth Merten, Peter Mulrean and Samantha Powers to manipulate the 2015-16 electoral process for the benefit of foreign interests. Haiti said no. But they’ve been pressuring poor Haitians for months now. Haitians die to ways, slowly fighting imperialism and its minions in Haiti their whole life, or quickly from a US-paid bullet in the hands of US-trained police. Haitians reject the US-Martelly Makout mindset. So, the US is now cloaking itself in the form of the OAS to continue terrorizing the people of Haiti who have stood as one and said

“Martelly must go. Martelly does not represent the people’s will and the people did not vote for his handpicked successor, Jovenel Moise.”

Too many Haitians have suffered and died for Haiti to get this truth out. The OAS is coming NOT to mediate. It’s already in Haiti as the CORE GROUP causing havoc. The OAS is about strengthening imperialism, colonization, occupation and Martelly’s hand and keeping the people off the streets to demobilize their resistance to imperialism and fake elections. Nou pap okipe yo. Nou pap demobilize. Mateli gen 2 chwa: pran exzil avan 7 Fevriye ou prizon aprè 7 Fevriye.

Martelly and his legal bandits are called to account. The international community is called to account. Haitians refuse to be further disrespect by the CORE Group no matter what their guise.

If the OAS want to help Haitians, they should adopt the January 21, 2016 ALBA statement statement in solidarity with the Haitian people and against occupation and fake elections against fraudulent elections in Haiti. They should convene a mission to began asking the Martelly family: Where’s did one billion Petrocaribe dollars go and the Clinton family: Where did the $13 billion in earthquake funds, go?

The OAS is US-controlled and part of the Core Group in Haiti. The OAS saddled Haiti with an illegitimate president in 2011 that is the root of today’s crisis. The OAS is not neutral, professional or impartial position. It cannot appoint itself over the head of Haitian lawmakers and the G8. Tell Obama, that is not happening.

Bye bye Michel Martelly. Take all your legal bandits with you. And we’re telling that thug Guy Philippe that 2016 is not 2004. “Bye bye Swit Mimi ak tout chalatan parèy ou yo. Epi nap di awousa yo bay pou Guy Philippe la 2004 pa 2016. Al benyen.”

Èzili Dantò, HLLN Free Haiti Movement, Jan 28, 2016

Recommended Links:

Haiti’s Doctored Elections, Seen from the Inside: An Interview with Ricardo Seitenfus

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/haitis-doctored-elections-seen-from-the-inside-an-interview-with-ricardo-seitenfus

Martelly and his handlers have committed crimes against humanity: The details and Haiti Resistance” https://goo.gl/btPCsQ

Obama, Stop Supporting Martelly and a DEA-Wanted Fugitives In Haiti https://plus.google.com/113304004460540…/posts/SPisZGpTauT

Le Forum Economique du Secteur Privé exige la démission de Pierre-Louis Opont, Jan 27, 2016

http://www.scoopfmhaiti.com/6568/le-forum-economique-du-secteur-prive-exige-la-demission-de-pierre-louis-opont/

OAS to send special mission to Haiti amid political crisis By DAVID McFADDEN Jan. 27, 2016

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/32b4208d899849a78906a95f1a0d6d02/oas-send-special-mission-haiti-amid-political-crisis

This is why they are rigging the elections

The Media War on Donald Trump

January 29th, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

His super-wealth, demagogic style, outlandish views, support for wealth and power, and likely business as usual agenda if elected president aside, Trump so far masterfully outwitted, outmaneuvered, and outfoxed other presidential aspirants, besting professional politicians, beating them at their own dirty game.

He’s no flash-in-the-pan. He proved he’s a force to be reckoned with. Polls show he’s way ahead of Republican rivals, appearing unstoppable, party bosses and media scoundrels frantic to derail his campaign, their efforts futile so far.

He appeals to voters against politics they deplore, business as usual campaigning and governance, promising change, delivering betrayal, ignoring popular needs – even though don’t expect him to change things if elected.

He didn’t become super-rich by being a nice guy. People needs aren’t his concern. US policy won’t change with him in charge – notably its permanent war agenda, corporate favoritism, scorn for social justice, and intolerance of efforts to change things.

Efforts to dent his impregnability don’t quit. Media pundits relentlessly attack him. Last month, New York Times editors accused him of “br(inging) his party and its politics to the brink of fascism” – ignoring police state rule under Bush and Obama, state-sponsored ruthlessness, waging war on humanity at home and abroad.

Trump’s candidacy caused “serious damage…to the country, to its reputation overseas,” Times editors absurdly claimed.

“The time to renounce (his) views was the day he entered the race,” they added – mindless of an array of deplorable Republican and Democrat aspirants all supporting endless wars, Israeli barbarism, corporate favoritism and harsh crackdowns on nonbelievers.

In late November, Washington Post editors urged Republicans “to stand up to Trump’s (so-called) Bullying,” saying:

The growing ugliness of (his) campaign poses a challenge to us all. We have seen the likes of him before…spreading lies, appealing to fears and stoking hatred.

“Such people are dangerous.” Post editors like their Times counterparts ignored longstanding bipartisan US wars on humanity – raping one country after another, turning US streets into battleground in Black and Latino communities, serving wealth and power interests exclusively.

Trump “lack(s) the qualifications, experience or knowledge to be president,” WaPo editors blustered.

Bush I’s presidency was W’s only qualification, achieving at best a gentleman C average overall academically at Yale and Harvard, often skipping classes.

Obama was chosen solely as a front man for imperial adventurism, as well as Wall Street and other corporate interests at the expense of ordinary Americans who elected him.

His only qualification was and remains following the agenda assigned him, causing more harm to more people than his predecessors.

“Republican leaders should speak up” against Trump, WaPo editors ranted. “The only way to beat a bully is to stand up to him.”

The American way involves endless global “bully(ing)” to achieve unchallenged worldwide dominance – an agenda WaPo editors wholeheartedly endorse without admitting it.

Last November, Wall Street Journal editors violated Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment about “not speak(ing) ill of any fellow Republican.”

They quoted Trump, calling himself “a free trader,” then blasted his criticism of the nightmarish Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), calling it a “terrible (trade) deal.”

Journal editors claim he doesn’t understand what’s in it, mischaracterizing TPP as a new “standard for trade under freer Western rules.”

TPP is a hugely one-sided corporate giveaway, nightmarishly anti-consumer, anti-labor, anti-environmental sanity. The full text revealed last November showed it’s worse than most critics feared.

Trump’s opposition has nothing to do with it’s handing business interests a huge bonanza. He expressed concern over its failure to deal with alleged Chinese currency manipulation, even though he knows Beijing isn’t part of the deal.

On January 21, the right-wing National Review published an anti-Trump issue – an effort to derail his campaign, featuring almost two dozen neocons and other hardliners bashing his candidacy.

Editor Rick Lowry is a notorious right-wing extremist. Contributors to his anti-Trump diatribe included Glenn Beck, Cruz supporter Brent Bozell, hawkish columnist Mona Charen, neocon Project for the New American Century (PNAC) co-founder William Kristol, Fox News favorite Dana Loesch, hard-right Club for Growth president David McIntosh, former Reagan attorney general Edwin Meese, former GW Bush attorney general Michael Mukasey, and notorious right-wing extremist John Podhoretz, among others.

Campaign season is in full swing, the Iowa caucus scheduled for February 1, followed by New Hampshire’s primary on February 9.

Regardless of individual contest outcomes, Trump’s lead looks insurmountable. He’s proved skillful in maintaining it, despite continued media flack targeting him.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

 

Media Disinformation and the US Heroin Epidemic

January 29th, 2016 by Dr. Meryl Nass

On October 30, 2015 the NY Times published an in-depth article on the heroin epidemic, focused on New Hampshire, which saw the greatest increase in deaths from drug overdoses (74%) in the US between 2013 and 2014.  New Hampshire is a bucolic place, where villages of tidy white capes and saltboxes lie sprinkled among the mountains and pine forests. 

Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, has a population of 110,000.  In one 6 hour period on September 24, Manchester police responded to 6 separate heroin overdoses. Manchester saw over 500 overdoses and over 60 deaths between January 1 and September 24, 2015.

At presidential campaign stops throughout the state, candidates were forced to respond to the problem when New Hampshire citizens demanded answers.  Hillary has a $10 billion dollar plan for prevention and treatment of abuse.  Chris Christie prefers treatment to jail time for first offenders. Obama announced a $5 million initiative in August to combat heroin addiction and trafficking. NH has designated a drug czar. NH Senator Ayotte says “We’ve got to reduce the stigma.”  Narcan, an opiate antidote that has been made widely available, is admittedly a band-aid.  It saves lives from acute overdoses, but does absolutely nothing to stem the tide of abuse.

The solutions being touted by politicians and the media include “working together:” police, citizens, and health-care facilities–though to what end is unclear; educating; reducing the stigma of heroin use (now that users are predominantly white and middle class we can relabel addiction a disease, not a crime); adding treatment facilities; and adding more police.

I call this salutary–but almost entirely missing the mark.

Overdose deaths and heroin users are at an all time high in the United States. Between 2 and 9 of every thousand Americans (0.2-0.9% of the population) is currently using heroin. In Maine, 8% of babies are born “drug-affected”–a stratospheric rise from 178 babies in 2006 to 995 babies in fiscal 2015.

Despite what you have heard, the cause of our current heroin epidemic is not as simple as doctors overprescribing narcotics.

While nationally, heroin overdoses jumped from 1.0 per 100,000 in 2010 to 3.4 per 100,000 in 2014, the number of prescribed narcotics held steady over the same period.  A 2015 UN document noted that A recent [US government] household survey in the United States indicated that there was a significant decline in the misuse of prescription opioids from 2012 to 2013″ (page 46).

According to CDC itself, “CDC has programmatically characterized all opioid pain reliever deaths (natural and semisynthetic opioids, methadone, and other synthetic opioids) as ‘prescription’ opioid overdoses.” That means illegally produced drugs in these categories are being designated as prescription drugs, when they are not. A further confounder is that heroin metabolizes to morphine, which is a prescription drug. So if fully metabolized at the time of autopsy, a death due to heroin will be labeled as due to a prescription narcotic.

The true cause of the current heroin epidemic is massive amounts of heroin flooding into the US, exceeding what can be sold in our large cities, and now finding its way into even the tiniest hamlets.

Here’s the problem with the NY Times’ and the politicians’ solutions:  neither fifty individual states nor thousands of towns and villages can treat, educate, exhort, investigate or imprison their way out of the heroin maelstrom. There are nowhere near enough police, social workers, prisons, treatment facilities or sources of funding.  Narcan and clean needles don’t cut the mustard. There is only one possible solution, and that is stemming the supply. 

In my September 7 blog post, I showed that 96% of US heroin does not come from Mexico and Colombia, as claimed by US government sources. Mexican and Colombian production is inadequate to supply even half the US market.

At least Canada knows where its heroin comes from:

 “According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Intelligence Coordination Center, between 2009 and 2012 at least 90 per cent of the heroin seized in Canada originated in Afghanistan.” (page 46)

If one wants to get into the weeds on this issue, a 2014 RAND report titled What America’s Users Spend on Illegal Drugs: 2000-2010 is a good place to start.  The  report, performed under contract for DHHS and released by the White House, looks at multiple databases and identifies many problematic issues with estimates of heroin country-of-origin.

It shows that while Colombian opium was allegedly supplying 50% of a growing US heroin market between 2001 and 2010 (pages 82-83), Colombian production actually sank from 11 metric tons in 2001 to only 2 in 2009.

Furthermore, US government estimates for the 2000-2010 decade of Mexican production relied on a claimed 3 growing seasons per year, while in reality there were only two. RAND admits Mexican production estimates were inflated. Mexico historically produced lower quality, “black tar” heroin, used west of the Mississippi, while the influx of heroin to the US has been of higher quality white powder, and the greatest increases in use have been in the eastern US, far from the Mexican border.

Meanwhile, according to RAND:

“in recent years, there have been no [heroin] seizures or purchases from Southeast Asia [Myanmar, Laos, Thailand] by DEA’s Domestic Monitoring Program.”

Back in 1992, DEA estimated that 32% of US heroin came from Southwest Asia (mainly Afghanistan). Since then, Afghan opium production has tripled. But in the years 1994 through 2010 only 1-6% of US heroin had a southwest Asian origin, according to DEA’s Domestic Monitoring Program. Yet Afghan production accounts for 90% of the world heroin supply.

It would be great if we could point to improved US interdiction at the source, or to poppy field eradication to explain this anomaly.  But neither is the case. Seizures of heroin in Afghanistan dropped from 27 metric tons in 2010  to 8 metric tons in 2013, according to the UN, figure 41. Only 1.2% of poppy fields were eradicated in 2014, also according to the UN.

It is undeniable: there has been profound, systematic deception regarding the amount of heroin reaching the US from Mexico and Colombia by the US government, presumably to conceal and protect the actual source(s) of most US heroin.

We know where and how to look for heroin:  Afghanistan and Myanmar are the world’s #1 and #2 producers.   Historically, heroin bound for the US leaves these countries by air. There are a manageable number of flights departing Afghanistan and Myanmar.  We could put all the needed personnel in place, today, to fully inspect every flight and every airport.

The fact that we have looked the other way and pointed in the wrong direction is itself the smoking gun.

 Meryl Nass, M.D.  is  a board-certified internist and a biological warfare epidemiologist and expert in anthrax. Nass publishes Anthrax Vaccine.

How about this for a statement from Friends Of The Earth to put air traffic and its effects on the environment into perspective:

“Air travel is the world’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which cause climate change. Globally the world’s 16,000 commercial jet aircraft generate more than 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the world’s major greenhouse gas, per year. Indeed aviation generates nearly as much CO2 annually as that from all human activities in Africa.”

It appears that the enormous pollution increase generated from aircraft activity is due to rapid industry growth which has been expanding at nearly two and half times average economic growth rates since 1960.

To put a little more scale to the industry, according to the Air Transport Action Group (pro aviation) there are over 58 million people employed worldwide in aviation and related tourism. Of this, 8.7 million people work directly in the aviation industry. Over 3 billion people use air transport a year. However, as a result aviation is responsible for 2% to all human activity generated CO2 emissions and 12% from all transport sources.

If aviation were a country, it would rank 21st in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), generating $606 billion of GDP per year, considerably larger than some members of the G20 (and around the same size as Switzerland). By 2026, it is forecast that aviation will contribute $1 trillion to world GDP.

In the next ten years it is estimated that aviation activity will increase by some 40% but the number of people flying will double over the next fifteen years and aircraft emissions will be 15% of all human activity within fifty years. The impact on the global atmosphere from air travel will be concentrated over Europe and the USA where 70-80% of all flights occur.

It is no wonder then that the EU, armed with this information, decided to make aircraft emissions the cornerstone of EU climate change policy. Whether you believe in human induced climate change here is irrelevant.

The recent Corporate Observatory report published a few days ago is centred around TTIP and ‘Regulatory Cooperation’ – a policy designed in secret to bypass all sorts of domestic legislation and without doubt an attack on democratic principles; a corporate coups d’état would be a good way to describe it.

An excerpt from this sizeable reports says – In 2013, the European Union decided to demand that all airlines pay for their carbon emissions for flights into and out of EU airports. But following what almost became a trade war with key EU business partners, including China and the United States, the measure was frozen. In the US, President Obama sided with airlines and signed a law that would shield them from having to pay carbon fees.

Bowing to pressure in 2012, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard agreed “to stop the clock” in order to create a positive atmosphere for international talks on an alternative global plan to tackle airline emissions. The EU effectively agreed to start a regulatory dialogue at the international level with its major business partners and the US, following one of the key principles of transatlantic regulatory cooperation: working together to forge international standards.

But the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the de facto global aviation regulator, will not agree on a global deal to create a market-based scheme to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions before 2016. In the event that ICAO fails to implement a market system by 2020, the EU proposal appears to envision the possibility that the EU carbon market will cover carbon emissions for all airlines arriving in and departing from EU airspace.

In short, an unambitious and ineffective regulation on aviation carbon emissions has been challenged by the US and has undergone a regulatory dialogue. This dialogue led to a delay of a minimum of four and maximum eight years. All of that trouble has been for an EU regulation that cannot even be regarded an ambitious measure, as it was not strong enough to avoid temperatures rising above two degrees.

This is simply another example of how US corporations are going about the domination of TTIP negotiations. As with most decisions, these corporations, aided by their paid-for politicians use bullying, intimidation and coercion as strategy number one.

Executive Director of campaign group War on Want, said TTIP was: “An assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations.”

The sovereign powers of individual nations like Britain are being handed over by David Cameron and his team to an international corporatocracy who will end up dictating the policies of democratically elected governments. In fact, if ever you doubted your vote was a democratic one, then you were right.

The TTIP agreement is the biggest trade deal in the history of the world, responsible for some 40% of total global trade. It’s effect will be far greater than that of the EU or the common market. Yet, not only do we have no choice in the matter, the deal is being hammered out by unelected bureaucrats and corporate managers/lobbyists in secret who are not representing the wishes of millions of objectors or the European people as a whole.

Graham Vanbergen – truepublica.org.uk

  • Sign the petition against TTIP HERE and join over 3.3 million protestors at the European Initiative against TTIP
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Uncertain Financial Markets in 2016: Gloom and Doom…

January 29th, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

Sharply lower global equity markets since last August reflect years of Fed-led central banks’ money printing madness, running headlong into economic contraction and instability.

China when thriving is a key engine of world economic growth, a depressant when declining. Official numbers conceal how much, at best a small fraction of its earlier annual double-digit increases.

Its plunging equity markets are flashing red on near-and-perhaps longer-term growth prospects.

Noted Gloom, Boom & Doom editor Marc Faber sees grim prospects ahead, saying “I can’t see another bull market in my lifetime.” He’s 69-years-old.

Former PIMCO CEO, current Allianz Capital Partners chief economic advisor Mohanmed El-Arian believes markets are in full-scale contagion, central banks out of ammunition to revive things.

Noted hedge fund investor Ray Dalio says the debt super-cycle of the last 50 -75 years is ending – along with the short-term one usually lasting 8 – 10 years.

In Davos at the World Economic Forum, George Soros said “China has a major adjustment problem. I would say it amounts to a crisis.”

“When I look at the financial markets, there is a serious challenge which reminds of the crisis we had in 2008.”

Low oil prices reflect weak demand and oversupply. On Thursday, crude prices surged, following a rumor about OPEC considering a possible 5% production cut.

Some member states aren’t aware of a meeting to discuss it. Saudi Arabia has been hardline on maintaining current levels.

Mixed reports about Russia surfaced. Tass reported its Energy Minister Alexander Novak’s readiness to cooperate with OPEC in discussing a possible production cut, saying:

Currently the OPEC member-states are trying to convene a meeting with participation of other OPEC (member-states) and non-(member-states) in February.

Certain countries have come forward with this initiative. Currently the issue is being worked out with the countries. On our part, we’ve confirmed our potential participation in such a meeting.

There’s been an invitation to meet at the ministerial level. In fact, there is no final agreement yet.

It will be held at the ministerial level if all ministers confirm (their participation), and in case they don’t, (the meeting will be held) at the level of experts.

When last discussed, discussion focused on all oil-producing countries cutting output by 5%. The idea was rejected.

An unnamed senior Russian official said “(t)here are not any measures on possibly cutting production being discussed now.”

A second unnamed senior Russian source said it’s “impossible to coordinate the process and stop production in Russia.”

Moscow holds regular discussions with other oil-producing countries. On Wednesday, a Kremlin source said no plans for coordinated cuts exist as of now.

Last week at the Davos World Economic Forum, Saudi state-owned Aramco chairman Khalid al-Falih said plans are to maintain current productions levels. He expects higher prices later this year.

OPEC members and non-members are divided. Some want production cut. Others fear losing market share.

Most need all the revenue they can get by continuing output at current levels – because of low prices and economic weakness.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

 

The Department of Defense “is moving forward with the development of its insider threat and personnel security reform efforts,” wrote Michael G. Vickers, then-Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence) in an April 2015 report to Congress that was released last month under the Freedom of Information Act. “The Department recognizes the magnitude and complexity of these challenges, the need for multi-agency solutions, and is marshalling needed resources,” he wrote.

An insider threat is defined as someone who uses his or her authorized access to damage the national security of the United States, whether through espionage, terrorism, unauthorized disclosures of classified information, or other harmful actions.

The Department of Defense “is directing multiple pilots and concept demonstrations using both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ capabilities to conduct CE [continuous evaluation] on approximately 100,000 military, civilian and contractor personnel” in an effort to identify potential insider threats, the April 2015 DoD report to Congress said.

The overall, government-wide insider threat program is advancing rather slowly, judging by the program’s latest Quarterly Report (for the 4th quarter of FY 2015) that was just published. Several anticipated program milestones have been missed or deferred, the Report indicates.

The most effective way to limit the insider threat may be to reduce the number of “insiders.” If so, substantial progress has been made in that direction, with the elimination of 800,000 security clearances at the Department of Defense between FY2013 and the 3rd quarter of FY 2015, according to the Report. (The very latest security clearance totals have not yet been published.)

The 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by Congress last month included a provision requiring expanded reinvestigations of security clearance holders, Federal News Radio reported last week (“Agencies directed to use social media in security clearance reviews” by Nicole Ogrysko, December 28).

“The enhanced personnel security program of an agency shall integrate relevant and appropriate information from various sources, including government, publicly available and commercial data sources, consumer reporting agencies, social media and such other sources as determined by the Director of National Intelligence,” the legislation instructed.

Numerous advocacy and whistleblower defense organizations this week wrote to the Intelligence Community Inspector General urging him to investigate whether the insider threat program “has been improperly used to target or identify whistleblowers. Additionally, we ask that you lead the initiative to properly distinguish between whistleblowing and insider threats.”

The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change and Resistance

January 29th, 2016 by Prof. Tim Anderson

Image left: Professor Tim Anderson, distinguished author and senior lecturer of political economy at the University of Sydney, Australia

Global Research Publishers is launching Professor Tim Anderson’s timely and important book on Syria

The E-book is available for purchase from Global Research 

Tim Anderson  has written the best systematic critique of western fabrications justifying the war against the Assad government. 

No other text brings together all the major accusations and their effective refutation.

This text is essential reading for all peace and justice activists.  -James Petras, Author and Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Tim Anderson’s important new book, titled “The Dirty War on Syria” discusses US naked aggression – “rely(ing) on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory,” he explains.

ISIS is the pretext for endless war without mercy, Assad the target, regime change the objective, wanting pro-Western puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.

There’s nothing civil about war in Syria, raped by US imperialism, partnered with rogue allies. Anderson’s book is essential reading to understand what’s going on. -Stephen Lendman, Distinguished Author and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Host of the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

Professor Anderson demonstrates unequivocally through carefully documented research that America’s “Moderate Opposition” are bona fide Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists created and protected by the US and its allies, recruited  and trained by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, in liaison with Washington and Brussels.

Through careful analysis, professor Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth”: the “war on terrorism” is fake, the United States is a “State sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of Ottawa.

Click here to purchase Tim Anderson’s Book (pdf) 

Excerpts from the Preface of Professor Anderson’s book

Although every war makes ample use of lies and deception, the dirty war on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. The British-Australian journalist Philip Knightley pointed out that war propaganda typically involves ‘a depressingly predictable pattern’ of demonising the enemy leader, then demonising the enemy people through atrocity stories, real or imagined (Knightley 2001). Accordingly, a mild-mannered eye doctor called Bashar al Assad became the “new evil” in the world and, according to consistent western media reports, the Syrian Army did nothing but kill civilians for more than four years. To this day, many imagine the Syrian conflict is a ‘civil war’, a ‘popular revolt’ or some sort of internal sectarian conflict. These myths are, in many respects, a substantial achievement for the big powers which have driven a series of ‘regime change’ operations in the Middle East region, all on false pretexts, over the past fifteen years.

Click image to purchase Tim Anderson’s Book (pdf) 

This book is a careful academic work, but also a strong defence of the right of the Syrian people to determine their own society and political system. That position is consistent with international law and human rights principles, but may irritate western sensibilities, accustomed as we are to an assumed prerogative to intervene. At times I have to be blunt, to cut through the double-speak. In Syria the big powers have sought to hide their hand, using proxy armies while demonising the Syrian Government and Army, accusing them of constant atrocities; then pretending to rescue the Syrian people from their own government. Far fewer western people opposed the war on Syria than opposed the invasion of Iraq, because they were deceived about its true nature.

In 2011 I had only a basic understanding of Syria and its history. However, I was deeply suspicious when reading of the violence that erupted in the southern border town of Daraa. I knew that such violence (sniping at police and civilians, the use of semi-automatic weapons) does not spring spontaneously from street demonstrations. And I was deeply suspicious of the big powers. All my life I had been told lies about the pretexts for war. I decided to research the Syrian conflict, reading hundreds of books and articles, watching many videos and speaking to as many Syrians as I could. I wrote dozens of articles and visited Syria twice, during the conflict. This book is a result of that research.

I would go so far as to say that, in waging the Dirty War on Syria, western culture in general abandoned its better traditions: of reason, the maintenance of ethical principle and the search for independent evidence at times of conflict; in favour of its worst traditions: the ‘imperial prerogative’ for intervention, backed by deep racial prejudice and poor reflection on the histories of their own cultures. That weakness was reinforced by a ferocious campaign of war propaganda. After the demonisation of Syrian leader Bashar al Assad began, a virtual information blockade was constructed against anything which might undermine the wartime storyline. Very few sensible western perspectives on Syria emerged after 2011, as critical voices were effectively blacklisted.

In that context I came to write this book. It is a defence of Syria. This is a resource book and a contribution to the history of the Syrian conflict. The western stories have become self-indulgent and I believe it is wasteful to indulge them too much. Best, I think, to speak of current events as they are, then address the smokescreens later. I do not ignore the western myths, in fact this book documents many of them. But I lead with the reality of the war.

Click here to purchase Tim Andersons’s Book (pdf) 

Chapter Overview:

Chapter 1, ‘Syria and Washington’s ‘New Middle East’’ puts Syria in context of the US plans for a ‘New Middle East’, the latest chapter in a longer history of US attempts to dominate the region.

Chapter 2, ‘Barrel Bombs, Partisan Sources and War Propaganda’ addresses the problem of reporting and reading the Syrian crisis. Media channels have shown a hyperreliance on partisan sources, committed to the war and denigrating the Syrian Army. This is the key barrier to understanding the controversies around chemical weapons, civilian massacres and the levels of support for or opposition to President Assad.

Chapter 3, ‘Daraa 2011: Another Islamist Insurrection’ reconstructs, from a range of sources, the Saudi-backed Islamist insurrection in Daraa in March 2011. Those armed attacks were quite distinct from the political reform rallies, which the Islamists soon drove off the streets.

Chapter 4, ‘Bashar al Assad and Political Reform’ explains the political reform movement from the time Bashar assumed the presidency in the year 2000 to the beginning of the crisis in 2011. From this we can see that most opposition groups were committed to reform within a Syrian context, with virtually all opposing attacks on the Syrian state. The chapter then reviews the role of Bashar as a reformer, and the evidence on his popularity.

Chapter 5, ‘The Empire’s Jihadis’ looks at the collaboration between Salafist political Islam and the imperial powers in the Middle East. Distinct from the anti-imperial Islamic currents in Iran and south Lebanon, Salafist political Islam has become a sectarian force competing with Arab nationalism across Egypt, Palestine and Syria, and drawing on long standing collaborative relations with the big powers. This history provides important background to the character of Syria’s Islamist ‘revolution’, and its various slogans.

Chapter 6, ‘Embedded Media, Embedded Watchdogs’ identifies the propaganda techniques of media channels and the network of ‘human rights’ bodies (Human Rights Watch, Avaaz, etc) which function as megaphones and ‘moderators’ for the Washington agenda. Many have become fierce advocates for ‘humanitarian war’. A number of newer western NGOs (e.g. The Syria Campaign, The White Helmets) have been created by Wall Street agencies specifically for the dirty war on Syria. A number of their fabrications are documented here.

Chapter 7, ‘The Houla Massacre Revisited’ considers in detail the evidence from the first major massacre designed (following success of the technique over Libya) to influence UN Security Council consideration of military intervention. While the first UN inquiry group, actually in Syria, found contradictory evidence on this massacre, a second UN group outside Syria and co-chaired by a US diplomat, tried to blame the Syrian Government. Yet more than a dozen witnesses blamed Farouq FSA Islamists, who killed pro-government villagers and took over the area, holding it for some months. Several other ‘false flag’ massacres are noted.

Chapter 8, ‘Chemical Fabrications: the East Ghouta Incident’ details the second major ‘false flag’ incident of international significance. This incident in August 2013, which nearly sparked a major escalation involving US missile attacks on Syria, was used to accuse the Syrian Government of killing hundreds of civilians, including children, with chemical weapons. Within a fairly short time multiple sources of independent evidence (including North American evidence) disproved these accusations. Nevertheless, Syria’s opponents have repeated the false accusations, to this day, as though they were fact.

Chapter 9 , ‘A Responsibility to Protect and the Double Game’ addresses a recent political doctrine, a subset of ‘humanitarian intervention’ popularised to add to the imperial toolkit. The application of this doctrine in Libya was disastrous for that little country. Fortunately the attempts to use it in Syria failed.

Al Kindi hospital (Aleppo) as it was being demolished by two truck bombs, December 2013. The operation was carried out by Jabhat al Nusra (see logo top right) and its FSA partners. Afterwards the Islamist-linked ‘Physicians for Human Rights’ tried to blame the Syrian Government for this destruction. Photo: Jabhat al Nusra

Chapter 10, ‘Health and Sanctions’ documents the NATO-backed Islamist attacks on Syria’s health system, linked to the impact of western economic sanctions. These twin currents have caused great damage to Syrian public health. Such attacks carry no plausible motive of seeking local popular support, so we must interpret them as part of an overall strategy to degrade the Syrian state, rendering it more vulnerable to outside intervention.

Chapter 11 ‘Washington, Terrorism and ISIS: the evidence’, documents the links between the big powers and the latest peak terrorist group they claim to be fighting. Only evidence can help develop informed opinion on this contentious matter, but the evidence is overwhelming. There is little ideological difference between the various Salafi-Islamist groups, and Washington and its allies have financed and armed every one of them.

Chapter 12, ‘Western Intervention and the Colonial Mind’ discusses the western cultural mindset that underlies persistent violations of the rights of other peoples.

Chapter 13 ‘Towards an Independent Middle East’, considers the end-game in the Syrian crisis, and its implications for the Middle East region. At tremendous cost the Syrian Arab Republic, its army and its people, have successfully resisted aggression from a variety of powerful enemies. Syria’s survival is due to its resilience and internal unity, bolstered by support from some strong allies. The introduction of Russian air power in late September 2015 was important. So too were the coordinated ground forces from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, in support of an independent Syria.

When the attacks on Syria abate the Middle East seems set to be transformed, with greater political will and military preparedness on the part of an expanded Axis of Resistance. That will signal the beginning of the end for Washington’s 15 year spree of bloodshed and ‘regime change’ across the entire region.

Click here to purchase Tim Anderson’s Book PDF

Below is the interview of Andrew Korybko to the Macedonian NetPress agency, published in English by Oriental Review.

Andrew Korybko reveals the most likely scenario to be implemented by the US to  destabilize the Balkan state of Macedonia and bring their puppet, Zoran Zaev, to power in Skopje.

According to Korybko, these plans are doomed for failure…

***

Q: After the failed Colored revolution attempt in Macedonia, via wiretappings and destabilization attempts (terrorist attack and violent opposition protests), all of which was prevented thanks to the patriotism of the Macedonians and the appropriate reaction of the authorities, the latest opinion polls continue to show that the ruling party of VMRO-DPMNE has a double lead over the Western-sponsored opposition led by SDSM.

It seems that all this effort and the millions of dollars that were poured into the pro-Western mercenaries in Macedonia didn`t work in achieving their results, and now, understandably, they don`t want to go to the upcoming early elections in April, on which upon they have agreed earlier. In our last interview we talked about the upcoming second round of the Colored revolution attempt and it’s incredible how you predicted the situation back then, when you said that most probably they will organize protests trying to push the country over the edge of destabilization and it seems that the opposition has already started threating with the so called “street democracy”.

The premeditated violence that they had planned for didn’t break out last time, so what do you think will happen in the upcoming protests?

First off, it’s essential to point out just how weak the “opposition” currently is. They had over half a year to expand their social infrastructure and promote their regime change agenda, yet all the polls indicate that VMRO is twice as popular as they are. Clearly, they failed to gain new adherents to their cause, and it looks like some previously misguided voters discovered the error of their ways and have defected to the ruling party.

What we can gather from this is that patriotic Macedonian activists and their related media have been very successful in educating the public about the Hybrid War threat facing their country, including the contracting of certain internal “opposition” elements to this cause. As a result, Macedonians are more patriotic than ever before, firmly standing behind their government because they understand the enormity of what’s at risk if they don’t. Regardless of one’s political disposition, nobody wants to see a foreign-supported “opposition” leader come to power in their country, and this is why there’s barely any support for SDSM when compared to VMRO. It doesn’t matter what country it is, what parties are involved, nor what the leaders’ names are – no patriotic citizen wants a foreign puppet controlling their country on behalf of some unseen forces, it’s as simple as that.

Macedonia opposition leader Zoran Zaev

Macedonia opposition leader Zoran Zaev

Confronted with barely any public support and guaranteed to lose the upcoming elections, Zaev and his cohorts sought to compensate for this pathetic state of affairs by courting as much international backing as possible. Being a “democrat” in name only and an asset of foreign governments, Zaev personally doesn’t care whether the people support him or not. All that matters to him is accomplishing his mission and seizing power by one way or another. Instead of the support of the Macedonian people, he’d rather have the support of the US government, convinced that it’s the decisive factor that he needs in order to retain relevancy and have a chance at gaining power. The childish drama that unfolded with the SDSM saying they’ll boycott the early elections that they themselves had previously agreed to is part of this scheme, but it’s such an obvious ploy that nobody is falling for their gimmicks.

The idea is for Zaev and his followers to not participate in the elections so that when VMRO wins, as everybody expects and all the polls indicate, then they can say that it was an “unfair” and “unfree” election because the main ‘opposition’ party didn’t’ take part. Never mind that the only reason for this would have been Zaev’s immature antics, but the point here is that this false rhetoric would be enough to attract the US’ attention (as planned) and have it voice “concerns” over the vote. Basically, Zaev is cooperating with American strategists in coordinating his actions so that they create the ‘plausible’ conditions that are necessary for the US to deepen its formal diplomatic interference in Macedonia’s affairs and formally speak out against the government.

Earlier, it was thought that his refusal to take part in the elections would engineer a scenario that Prime Minister Gruevski remains in office until a new election date is set, which then would have given the US ‘probable cause’ to label him a ‘power-hungry dictator’ and start publicly working against him, which is what they’ve been wanting to do for over a year now anyhow. VMRO didn’t fall for this trap, and that’s why they decided to go forward with the political transition and hold early elections as planned.

The only thing that Zaev can do now is resort to anti-democratic tactics to take power, since there’s no way that SDSM will win the early elections even if they decide to take part at the last minute. Because there’s declining support for the regime change movement that he leads and most people are aware of the foreign plot that he’s supporting, he can’t count on tricking as many people as he did last time and in having them be his ‘human shields’ in a forthcoming Color Revolution demonstration. There will still be some who take part, make no doubt about it, but nowhere near the number that did so last May (which even then wasn’t all that large anyhow). The ‘opposition’ can thus proceed along one of the following two scenario routes: boycott the elections and stage demonstrations right before, during, and/or afterwards; or partake in the elections, lose as expected, and protest afterwards against imaginary “irregularities”. No matter which path they take, their on-the-ground actions will be the same.

They’ll bring sympathetic foreign media such as CNN so that they can film everything from a misleading angle that conveys the false perception that their movement is a lot larger than it actually is. At the same time, they’ll likely engage in provocative and aggressive behavior, hoping that they can goad some of the patriotic elements of society into a brawl that can then be broadcast by CNN and others as “pro-government street aggression”. They may also conceivable target security personnel in order to create a similar provocation. Their goal, then, isn’t to “democratically demonstrate”, but to provoke violence that can then be purposefully misreported as “dictatorship violence against pro-democratic protesters”. It’s of the utmost importance that patriotic citizens exercise restraint and refrain from being provoked into any kind of fight, and a constructive suggestion in avoiding any tempting response to their antics is to video record every public thing that they do and establish concrete evidence of their aggressive actions. Exposing them for the violent provocateurs that they are can help to shift international sympathy among broad segments of the domestic and international populations that are made aware of this information.

Moving on, as I explained above, Zaev and his patrons know that they can’t reach the pinnacles of power through the democratic process, hence why they must resort to illegal methods and the support of key Western actors. In line with these scenarios, the US would then denounce the legitimate Macedonian authorities and work towards implementing a sanctions regime against them, pressuring the compliant and “refugee”-blackmailed EU to follow suit. It’s highly probable that the Greek leadership, completed indebted to the EU and desperate to do anything for a handful of Euros, will take on a leading role in some capacity or another in dealing with what the Western mainstream media would then label as the “Macedonian Crisis”, finding one way or another to invent ‘reasons’ for why it’s all ‘Russia’s fault’.

Additionally, it can’t be discounted that a repeat of the Kumanovo terrorist incident won’t happen again either during this time. Remember, the Albanian-affiliated terrorists there had planned to launch their attacks concurrent with the “opposition’s” Color Revolution destabilization, suggesting a very high degree of strategic coordination between the two regime change forces. Thankfully, the security services were able to stop this plot before any civilians were killed, but tragically a few heroes lost their lives that day in order to keep the rest of the Republic safe. Unlike what the US and some of its allies had planned, ethnic Albanians did not take the ‘bait’ and use the incident as a signal to rise up against the government and carry out copy-cat terrorist attacks, this despite the fact that American and other affiliated media had intentionally and inaccurately framed the event as “ethnic clashes” and as “state-sponsored violence” against the Albanian minority.

This time around, however, Albania is facing a heightened domestic crisis, one which began as a severe economic one but is now taking on a political form. The riotous opposition protests in Tirana in early December sent a strong message to the Albanian establishment that public discontent is reaching a dangerous breaking point and must be dealt with in some way or another. Historically, the Albanian elite have redirected the masses’ anti-government hostility towards furthering the dream of militant Albanian irredentism and repeating the fascist-era annexations of neighboring territories. It’s no coincidence that Albania’s 1997 unrest was followed by a strong and concerted campaign backing the Albanian terrorists in the Serbian Province of Kosovo, culminating in the dramatic 1999 NATO War on Yugoslavia. Similarly, nowadays just like at the end of last century, Albania is on the cusp of a serious domestic crisis, and its elite might feel pressured to once more summon the demon of “Greater Albania” in a bid to save their own careers and redirect the public’s seething rage against a foreign so-called “enemy”, all with the full backing of the US.

A Wahhbi element might even be involved too, whether the Albanian authorities plan it this way or the US ‘surprisingly’ inserts this variable on its own (which is more likely), especially when one considers that some ethnic Albanians are fighting side-by-side with ISIL right now and the terrorists’ strong recruiting network in that country and the NATO-occupied Serbian Province of Kosovo. One can’t also forget that ISIL terrorists already infiltrated France via the Balkan route by posing as “refugees”, and there’s no quantifiable way to tell how many more of these individuals passed through the region and might have burrowed their sleeper cells into the country. If “refugee”-disguised terrorists link up with their Albanian affiliates in Macedonia and decide to cooperate in unleashing havoc, then they might find a way to lure as many genuine refugees into their demonstration as possible in order to hide behind a group of ‘human shields’. Any reaction by the security forces to violent provocations from the actual refugees and their imposter controllers would instantaneously be broadcast worldwide by CNN and other Soros-affiliated media networks as a “right-wing dictatorship killing Muslim refugees”, even though that certainly wouldn’t be the case in any manner at all. However, this sneaky information warfare ploy would engender near-universal condemnation against the Macedonian government by its American and European counterparts and be used as an excuse for escalating international involvement in the country’s Western-orchestrated Hybrid War crisis.

Macedonia_MapIf there’s an outbreak of Albanian- or ISIL-affiliated terrorism around the same time as the early elections and predicted “opposition” protests, then the country might risk being thrown into turmoil. The US understands this very well and could facilitate this grand scenario for a variety of reasons, but chiefly to obstruct the Balkan Silk Road and Balkan Stream projects. In the event that the “opposition” and/or terrorists carry out some sort of provocation or violent act, it’s highly advisable that the patriotic citizens follow the guidance of their government and avoid being led into any sort of retributive trap. Attacking “opposition” members or ethnic Albanians in response to whatever might happen would only feed into the cycle of violence that the US would want to prompt, whereas allowing the authorities to handle it, as they so adroitly did last year, is the best way to mitigate the US’ chaos-driven plans. However, with or without any sort of disruption around the elections, there’s nothing bad about having large-scale patriotic demonstrations like the ones that took place last May. This would be a very effective way to show the rest of the world, and specifically the audiences that the American and Western media try to mislead, that there is widespread public support for going forth with the elections as scheduled and that the people are eager to end the “opposition’s” political games and return their country’s situation to normalcy.

Q: It’s now clear that victory for the opposition is mission impossible, but let`s stop for a bit to analyze how it would have been if the opposition leader Zoran Zaev was the new Prime Minister. What perverse and dark scenarios for Macedonia were being directed by the Western factor, with the opposition as their statists and marionettes?

The first thing that Zaev and his handlers want is for Macedonia to relinquish its identity and settle for a “compromise” name in order to immediately be accepted into NATO and the EU. Interestingly enough, even if this were to happen, neither organization might be keen in formally expanding right away, dictating instead that Macedonia must first join the anti-Russian sanctions regime and perhaps apply behind-the-scenes pressure for it to cut ties with China’s Balkan Silk Road project. Zaev would do all of these things immediately – change the country’s name, sanction Russia, and pull out of China’s regional high-speed rail plans –and the Macedonian people wouldn’t receive a single positive benefit from any of this. That isn’t to say that there won’t be any ‘rewards’ for such submissive behavior, but that they’ll only go into the laps of Zaev and his buddies (even a dog needs a treat once in a while). Whatever criticisms some might level at the present government would absolutely pale in comparison to the corruption and nepotism of a Western-imposed Zaev regime, and all economic, social, and geopolitical advances from the past decade will be completely reversed.

The only relevant comparison that can be made is how Yeltsin and his cronies totally undermined Russia with their buffoonery, corruption, and absolute incompetence. The West applauded him and his henchmen every time they did something against Russia’s interests, cheering with orgasmic glee that they finally had a clique in power that would do their bidding. Oligarchism was the law of the land and inequality skyrocketed as most social benefits were severely curtailed or outright abolished. The same thing would happen to Macedonia if Zaev and his people came to power, and just like with Yeltsin and his crew, the West would pat them on the back and reassure them that they’re behaving like “good democrats” and “freedom-lovers” with every new round of damage that they inflict on their country. There’s a modified scenario of this that might have happened as well, which would be Zaev obsessively trying to consolidate absolute power and becoming a second iteration of Milo Djukanovic. We all know how notoriously corrupt the Montenegrin ruler is, but the tiny seaside country had comparatively less wealth to steal than Macedonia does with its factories, farms, and robust service industry. Zaev would probably beat Djukanovic as the most corrupt politician in the Balkans in less than a year or so, but the pro-Western media would self-interestedly label him as a “reforming democrat” that’s “opening the economy” to Macedonia’s “fellow NATO and EU allies”.

The last national nightmare that Zaev could unleash in his capacity as the Western-imposed leader of Macedonia is to totally reformat the country’s domestic political system, perhaps as ‘payback’ to any Albanian terrorists that support his violent battle for power. The Ohrid Agreement is alive and well in Macedonia and has already been implemented, but regular “opposition” and Soros-supported rhetoric is to allege that a lot of work still has yet to be completed. This is nothing more than a euphemism for not only courting Albanian support and condescendingly doing it in as demeaning of a way as possible, but in hinting that the Republic needs to become a federation in order to “fully resolve” the issue. This line of thinking is attractive to the expansionists in Tirana that are eager to deflect rising public resentment against their rule, and it’s also a coded means for Zaev and the Soros-affiliated networks to reach out to the general Albanian community in the region.

Thankfully, the Albanian community in Macedonia is well aware that a strong, stable, and unified Republic of Macedonia is the only way to achieve win-win benefits for every citizen, both Macedonian and Albanian, and that a fracturing of the state along ethnic lines would weaken the central government and undo the leadership cohesiveness that is attributable to the country’s success in the past decade. Still, the idea of a “shadow Kosovo” inside Macedonia is intriguing to some Albanians, especially gullible and easily misled youth, who mistakenly believe that they can somehow succeed where “Kosovo” failed. That’s an absolute fallacy because any artificial Western-created geopolitical entity in the Balkans, including a “federative Macedonia”, will by its very nature remain a fractured and weakened force incapable of asserting any semblance of sovereignty aside from its own flag, anthem, and Western international ‘recognition’.

Zaev knows this quite well, and it’s his goal to bring Macedonia to its knees and make it as divided as possible so as to facilitate his envisioned decades-long Djukanovic-like rule. The two most traitorous actions that he could do would be to change the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia and freakishly metamorphasize the country into an ethno-religious ‘federation’. By pitting Macedonians against one another over their country’s name and agitating ethno-religious tensions between Orthodox Macedonians and Muslim Albanians, Zaev would be fulfilling the two most dramatic things that he could do to divide the country and turn fellow citizens against one another.

As they fight amongst themselves, Zaev could then request ‘emergency’ US and NATO assistance (likely in the form of intimidating ‘peacekeepers’, which in reality would be occupiers) in militarily centralizing his power and defeating all forces opposed to his rule. In a Zaev-controlled Macedonia, the only hope for a positive future would be for the patriotic citizenry to resist him in every single way possible. There is no future for the Republic of Macedonia otherwise, because by the time he’s done destroying the country, the entity that remains will probably have a Greece- and Albanian-“compromised” name as ridiculous as the “Federation Of Vardar Albania” but approved with wild applause by its NATO and EU ‘partners’.

To be continued…

Selected Articles: Update on the Situation in the Middle East

January 28th, 2016 by Global Research News

blackwaterYemen: Around 400 Blackwater Mercenaries Fighting for Saudi-Led Coalition

By Sputnik, January 24 2016

Yemeni army spokesman Brig. Gen. Sharaf Ghalib Luqman said that the Saudi-led coalition hire people from around the world to fight in Yemen, among contractors there are 400 persons from US private security firm Blackwater.

US soldiers in AfghanistanUS Planning to Keep Military Forces in Afghanistan for “Decades”

By Thomas Gaist, January 27 2016

The US military plans to maintain a presence of thousands of US forces in Afghanistan for “decades,” unnamed senior US military officials told theWashington Post Tuesday.

US IranIran: Lifting Sanctions and Coming Betrayal

By Tony Cartalucci, January 27 2016

US policymakers have long conspired to broker what would be meant to appear as a historic deal with the political order in Tehran.

531px-Syrian_Arab_Army_Flag.svg“Fierce Clashes” Between Syrian Arab Army and “Moderate Terrorists”, Retreat of ISIS

By South Front, January 28 2016

On Jan. 27 the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies captured hilltops of Tal Hamad and Tal Koum in the Sheikh Miskeen countryside expanding a security zone around this city.

moshe ya'alonIsrael, US and Turkey Profit from Stolen ISIS Stolen Oil

By Stephen Lendman, January 28 2016

Israel is complicit with Washington’s war on Syria, directly aiding ISIS and likeminded terrorist groups, profiting hugely from Daesh smuggled oil. More on this below.

Cour_Penale_IntleAbove the Law: UK Government Drops investigations into Iraq War Crimes

By Michael Gray, January 28 2016

UK soldiers facing charges of unlawful killing during Iraq War operations will not face further investigation after the internal military process was abandoned.

“Doomsday Seed Vault” in the Arctic

January 28th, 2016 by F. William Engdahl

This article was first published in December 2007.

One thing Microsoft founder Bill Gates can’t be accused of is sloth. He was already programming at 14, founded Microsoft at age 20 while still a student at Harvard. By 1995 he had been listed by Forbes as the world’s richest man from being the largest shareholder in his Microsoft, a company which his relentless drive built into a de facto monopoly in software systems for personal computers.

In 2006 when most people in such a situation might think of retiring to a quiet Pacific island, Bill Gates decided to devote his energies to his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest ‘transparent’ private foundation as it says, with a whopping $34.6 billion endowment and a legal necessity to spend $1.5 billion a year on charitable projects around the world to maintain its tax free charitable status. A gift from friend and business associate, mega-investor Warren Buffett in 2006, of some $30 billion worth of shares in Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway put the Gates’ foundation into the league where it spends almost the amount of the entire annual budget of the United Nations’ World Health Organization.

So when Bill Gates decides through the Gates Foundation to invest some $30 million of their hard earned money in a project, it is worth looking at.

No project is more interesting at the moment than a curious project in one of the world’s most remote spots, Svalbard. Bill Gates is investing millions in a seed bank on the Barents Sea near the Arctic Ocean, some 1,100 kilometers from the North Pole. Svalbard is a barren piece of rock claimed by Norway and ceded in 1925 by international treaty (see map).

On this God-forsaken island Bill Gates is investing tens of his millions along with the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto Corporation, Syngenta Foundation and the Government of Norway, among others, in what is called the ‘doomsday seed bank.’ Officially the project is named the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard island group.

The seed bank is being built inside a mountain on Spitsbergen Island near the small village of Longyearbyen. It’s almost ready for ‘business’ according to their releases. The bank will have dual blast-proof doors with motion sensors, two airlocks, and walls of steel-reinforced concrete one meter thick. It will contain up to three million different varieties of seeds from the entire world, ‘so that crop diversity can be conserved for the future,’ according to the Norwegian government. Seeds will be specially wrapped to exclude moisture. There will be no full-time staff, but the vault’s relative inaccessibility will facilitate monitoring any possible human activity.

Did we miss something here? Their press release stated, ‘so that crop diversity can be conserved for the future.’ What future do the seed bank’s sponsors foresee, that would threaten the global availability of current seeds, almost all of which are already well protected in designated seed banks around the world?

Anytime Bill Gates, the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto and Syngenta get together on a common project, it’s worth digging a bit deeper behind the rocks on Spitsbergen. When we do we find some fascinating things.

The first notable point is who is sponsoring the doomsday seed vault. Here joining the Norwegians are, as noted, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the US agribusiness giant DuPont/Pioneer Hi-Bred, one of the world’s largest owners of patented genetically-modified (GMO) plant seeds and related agrichemicals; Syngenta, the Swiss-based major GMO seed and agrichemicals company through its Syngenta Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation, the private group who created the “gene revolution with over $100 million of seed money since the 1970’s; CGIAR, the global network created by the Rockefeller Foundation to promote its ideal of genetic purity through agriculture change.

CGIAR and ‘The Project’

As I detailled in the book, Seeds of Destruction1, in 1960 the Rockefeller Foundation, John D. Rockefeller III’s Agriculture Development Council and the Ford Foundation joined forces to create the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, the Philippines. By 1971, the Rockefeller Foundation’s IRRI, along with their Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center and two other Rockefeller and Ford Foundation-created international research centers, the IITA for tropical agriculture, Nigeria, and IRRI for rice, Philippines, combined to form a global Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR).

CGIAR was shaped at a series of private conferences held at the Rockefeller Foundation’s conference center in Bellagio, Italy. Key participants at the Bellagio talks were the Rockefeller Foundation’s George Harrar, Ford Foundation’s Forrest Hill, Robert McNamara of the World Bank and Maurice Strong, the Rockefeller family’s international environmental organizer, who, as a Rockefeller Foundation Trustee, organized the UN Earth Summit in Stockholm in 1972. It was part of the foundation’s decades long focus to turn science to the service of eugenics, a hideous version of racial purity, what has been called The Project.

To ensure maximum impact, CGIAR drew in the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Development Program and the World Bank. Thus, through a carefully-planned leverage of its initial funds, the Rockefeller Foundation by the beginning of the 1970’s was in a position to shape global agriculture policy. And shape it did.

Financed by generous Rockefeller and Ford Foundation study grants, CGIAR saw to it that leading Third World agriculture scientists and agronomists were brought to the US to ‘master’ the concepts of modern agribusiness production, in order to carry it back to their homeland. In the process they created an invaluable network of influence for US agribusiness promotion in those countries, most especially promotion of the GMO ‘Gene Revolution’ in developing countries, all in the name of science and efficient, free market agriculture.

Genetically engineering a master race?

Now the Svalbard Seed Bank begins to become interesting. But it gets better. ‘The Project’ I referred to is the project of the Rockefeller Foundation and powerful financial interests since the 1920’s to use eugenics, later renamed genetics, to justify creation of a genetically-engineered Master Race. Hitler and the Nazis called it the Ayran Master Race.

The eugenics of Hitler were financed to a major extent by the same Rockefeller Foundation which today is building a doomsday seed vault to preserve samples of every seed on our planet. Now this is getting really intriguing. The same Rockefeller Foundation created the pseudo-science discipline of molecular biology in their relentless pursuit of reducing human life down to the ‘defining gene sequence’ which, they hoped, could then be modified in order to change human traits at will. Hitler’s eugenics scientists, many of whom were quietly brought to the United States after the War to continue their biological eugenics research, laid much of the groundwork of genetic engineering of various life forms, much of it supported openly until well into the Third Reich by Rockefeller Foundation generous grants.2

The same Rockefeller Foundation created the so-called Green Revolution, out of a trip to Mexico in 1946 by Nelson Rockefeller and former New Deal Secretary of Agriculture and founder of the Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed Company, Henry Wallace.

The Green Revolution purported to solve the world hunger problem to a major degree in Mexico, India and other select countries where Rockefeller worked. Rockefeller Foundation agronomist, Norman Borlaug, won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work, hardly something to boast about with the likes of Henry Kissinger sharing the same.

In reality, as it years later emerged, the Green Revolution was a brilliant Rockefeller family scheme to develop a globalized agribusiness which they then could monopolize just as they had done in the world oil industry beginning a half century before. As Henry Kissinger declared in the 1970’s, ‘If you control the oil you control the country; if you control food, you control the population.’

Agribusiness and the Rockefeller Green Revolution went hand-in-hand. They were part of a grand strategy which included Rockefeller Foundation financing of research for the development of genetic engineering of plants and animals a few years later.

John H. Davis had been Assistant Agriculture Secretary under President Dwight Eisenhower in the early 1950’s. He left Washington in 1955 and went to the Harvard Graduate School of Business, an unusual place for an agriculture expert in those days. He had a clear strategy. In 1956, Davis wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review in which he declared that “the only way to solve the so-called farm problem once and for all, and avoid cumbersome government programs, is to progress from agriculture to agribusiness.” He knew precisely what he had in mind, though few others had a clue back then— a revolution in agriculture production that would concentrate control of the food chain in corporate multinational hands, away from the traditional family farmer. 3

A crucial aspect driving the interest of the Rockefeller Foundation and US agribusiness companies was the fact that the Green Revolution was based on proliferation of new hybrid seeds in developing markets. One vital aspect of hybrid seeds was their lack of reproductive capacity. Hybrids had a built in protection against multiplication. Unlike normal open pollinated species whose seed gave yields similar to its parents, the yield of the seed borne by hybrid plants was significantly lower than that of the first generation.

That declining yield characteristic of hybrids meant farmers must normally buy seed every year in order to obtain high yields. Moreover, the lower yield of the second generation eliminated the trade in seed that was often done by seed producers without the breeder’s authorization. It prevented the redistribution of the commercial crop seed by middlemen. If the large multinational seed

companies were able to control the parental seed lines in house, no competitor or farmer would be able to produce the hybrid. The global concentration of hybrid seed patents into a handful of giant seed companies, led by DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto’s Dekalb laid the ground for the later GMO seed revolution. 4

In effect, the introduction of modern American agricultural technology, chemical fertilizers and commercial hybrid seeds all made local farmers in developing countries, particularly the larger more established ones, dependent on foreign, mostly US agribusiness and petro-chemical company inputs. It was a first step in what was to be a decades-long, carefully planned process.

Under the Green Revolution Agribusiness was making major inroads into markets which were previously of limited access to US exporters. The trend was later dubbed “market-oriented agriculture.” In reality it was agribusiness-controlled agriculture.

Through the Green Revolution, the Rockefeller Foundation and later Ford Foundation worked hand-in-hand shaping and supporting the foreign policy goals of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and of the CIA.

One major effect of the Green Revolution was to depopulate the countryside of peasants who were forced to flee into shantytown slums around the cities in desperate search for work. That was no accident; it was part of the plan to create cheap labor pools for forthcoming US multinational manufactures, the ‘globalization’ of recent years.

When the self-promotion around the Green Revolution died down, the results were quite different from what had been promised. Problems had arisen from indiscriminate use of the new chemical pesticides, often with serious health consequences. The mono-culture cultivation of new hybrid seed varieties decreased soil fertility and yields over time. The first results were impressive: double or even triple yields for some crops such as wheat and later corn in Mexico. That soon faded.

The Green Revolution was typically accompanied by large irrigation projects which often included World Bank loans to construct huge new dams, and flood previously settled areas and fertile farmland in the process. Also, super-wheat produced greater yields by saturating the soil with huge amounts of fertilizer per acre, the fertilizer being the product of nitrates and petroleum, commodities controlled by the Rockefeller-dominated Seven Sisters major oil companies.

Huge quantities of herbicides and pesticides were also used, creating additional markets for the oil and chemical giants. As one analyst put it, in effect, the Green Revolution was merely a chemical revolution. At no point could developing nations pay for the huge amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They would get the credit courtesy of the World Bank and special loans by Chase Bank and other large New York banks, backed by US Government guarantees.

Applied in a large number of developing countries, those loans went mostly to the large landowners. For the smaller peasants the situation worked differently. Small peasant farmers could not afford the chemical and other modern inputs and had to borrow money.

Initially various government programs tried to provide some loans to farmers so that they could purchase seeds and fertilizers. Farmers who could not participate in this kind of program had to borrow from the private sector. Because of the exorbitant interest rates for informal loans, many small farmers did not even get the benefits of the initial higher yields. After harvest, they had to sell most if not all of their produce to pay off loans and interest. They became dependent on money-lenders and traders and often lost their land. Even with soft loans from government agencies, growing subsistence crops gave way to the production of cash crops.5

Since decades the same interests including the Rockefeller Foundation which backed the initial Green Revolution, have worked to promote a second ‘Gene Revolution’ as Rockefeller Foundation President Gordon Conway termed it several years ago, the spread of industrial agriculture and commercial inputs including GMO patented seeds.

Gates, Rockefeller and a Green Revolution in Africa
With the true background of the 1950’s Rockefeller Foundation Green Revolution clear in mind, it becomes especially curious that the same Rockefeller Foundation along with the Gates Foundation which are now investing millions of dollars in preserving every seed against a possible “doomsday” scenario are also investing millions in a project called The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

AGRA, as it calls itself, is an alliance again with the same Rockefeller Foundation which created the “Gene Revolution.” A look at the AGRA Board of Directors confirms this.

It includes none other than former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as chairman. In his acceptance speech in a World Economic Forum event in Cape Town South Africa in June 2007, Kofi Annan stated, ‘I accept this challenge with gratitude to the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and all others who support our African campaign.’

In addition the AGRA board numbers a South African, Strive Masiyiwa who is a Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation. It includes Sylvia M. Mathews of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Mamphela Ramphele, former Managing Director of the World Bank (2000 – 2006); Rajiv J. Shah of the Gates Foundation; Nadya K. Shmavonian of the Rockefeller Foundation; Roy Steiner of the Gates Foundation. In addition, an Alliance for AGRA includes Gary Toenniessen the Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation and Akinwumi Adesina, Associate Director, Rockefeller Foundation.

To fill out the lineup, the Programmes for AGRA includes Peter Matlon, Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation; Joseph De Vries, Director of the Programme for Africa’s Seed Systems and Associate Director, Rockefeller foundation; Akinwumi Adesina, Associate Director, Rockefeller Foundation. Like the old failed Green Revolution in India and Mexico, the new Africa Green Revolution is clearly a high priority of the Rockefeller Foundation.

While to date they are keeping a low profile, Monsanto and the major GMO agribusiness giants are believed at the heart of using Kofi Annan’s AGRA to spread their patented GMO seeds across Africa under the deceptive label, ‘bio-technology,’ the new euphemism for genetically engineered patented seeds. To date South Africa is the only African country permitting legal planting of GMO crops. In 2003 Burkina Faso authorized GMO trials. In 2005 Kofi Annan’s Ghana drafted bio-safety legislation and key officials expressed their intentions to pursue research into GMO crops.

Africa is the next target in the US-government campaign to spread GMO worldwide. Its rich soils make it an ideal candidate. Not surprisingly many African governments suspect the worst from the GMO sponsors as a multitude of genetic engineering and biosafety projects have been initiated in Africa, with the aim of introducing GMOs into Africa’s agricultural systems. These include sponsorships offered by the US government to train African scientists in genetic engineering in the US, biosafety projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank; GMO research involving African indigenous food crops.

The Rockefeller Foundation has been working for years to promote, largely without success, projects to introduce GMOs into the fields of Africa. They have backed research that supports the applicability of GMO cotton in the Makhathini Flats in South Africa.

Monsanto, who has a strong foothold in South Africa’s seed industry, both GMO and hybrid, has conceived of an ingenious smallholders’ programme known as the ‘Seeds of Hope’ Campaign, which is introducing a green revolution package to small scale poor farmers, followed, of course, by Monsanto’s patented GMO seeds. 6

Syngenta AG of Switzerland, one of the ‘Four Horsemen of the GMO Apocalypse’ is pouring millions of dollars into a new greenhouse facility in Nairobi, to develop GMO insect resistant maize. Syngenta is a part of CGIAR as well.7

Move on to Svalbard

Now is it simply philosophical sloppiness? What leads the Gates and Rockefeller foundations to at one and the same time to back proliferation of patented and soon-to-be Terminator patented seeds across Africa, a process which, as it has in every other place on earth, destroys the plant seed varieties as monoculture industrialized agribusiness is introduced? At the same time they invest tens of millions of dollars to preserve every seed variety known in a bomb-proof doomsday vault near the remote Arctic Circle ‘so that crop diversity can be conserved for the future’ to restate their official release?

It is no accident that the Rockefeller and Gates foundations are teaming up to push a GMO-style Green Revolution in Africa at the same time they are quietly financing the ‘doomsday seed vault’ on Svalbard. The GMO agribusiness giants are up to their ears in the Svalbard project.

Indeed, the entire Svalbard enterprise and the people involved call up the worst catastrophe images of the Michael Crichton bestseller, Andromeda Strain, a sci-fi thriller where a deadly disease of extraterrestrial origin causes rapid, fatal clotting of the blood threatening the entire human species. In Svalbard, the future world’s most secure seed repository will be guarded by the policemen of the GMO Green Revolution–the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations, Syngenta, DuPont and CGIAR.

The Svalbard project will be run by an organization called the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT). Who are they to hold such an awesome trust over the planet’s entire seed varieties? The GCDT was founded by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Bioversity International (formerly the International Plant Genetic Research Institute), an offshoot of the CGIAR.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust is based in Rome. Its Board is chaired by Margaret Catley-Carlson a Canadian also on the advisory board of Group Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, one of the world’s largest private water companies. Catley-Carlson was also president until 1998 of the New York-based Population Council, John D. Rockefeller’s population reduction organization, set up in 1952 to advance the Rockefeller family’s eugenics program under the cover of promoting “family planning,” birth control devices, sterilization and “population control” in developing countries.

Other GCDT board members include former Bank of America executive presently head of the Hollywood DreamWorks Animation, Lewis Coleman. Coleman is also the lead Board Director of Northrup Grumman Corporation, one of America’s largest military industry Pentagon contractors.

Jorio Dauster (Brazil) is also Board Chairman of Brasil Ecodiesel. He is a former Ambassador of Brazil to the European Union, and Chief Negotiator of Brazil’s foreign debt for the Ministry of Finance. Dauster has also served as President of the Brazilian Coffee Institute and as Coordinator of the Project for the Modernization of Brazil’s Patent System, which involves legalizing patents on seeds which are genetically modified, something until recently forbidden by Brazil’s laws.

Cary Fowler is the Trust’s Executive Director. Fowler was Professor and Director of Research in the Department for International Environment & Development Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. He was also a Senior Advisor to the Director General of Bioversity International. There he represented the Future Harvest Centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in negotiations on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. In the 1990s, he headed the International Program on Plant Genetic Resources at the FAO. He drafted and supervised negotiations of FAO’s Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources, adopted by 150 countries in 1996. He is a past-member of the National Plant Genetic Resources Board of the US and the Board of Trustees of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico, another Rockefeller Foundation and CGIAR project.

GCDT board member Dr. Mangala Rai of India is the Secretary of India’s Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), and Director General of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). He is also a Board Member of the Rockefeller Foundation’s International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which promoted the world’s first major GMO experiment, the much-hyped ‘Golden Rice’ which proved a failure. Rai has served as Board Member for CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center), and a Member of the Executive Council of the CGIAR.

Global Crop Diversity Trust Donors or financial angels include as well, in the words of the Humphrey Bogart Casablanca classic, ‘all the usual suspects.’ As well as the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations, the Donors include GMO giants DuPont-Pioneer Hi-Bred, Syngenta of Basle Switzerland, CGIAR and the State Department’s energetically pro-GMO agency for development aid, USAID. Indeed it seems we have the GMO and population reduction foxes guarding the hen-house of mankind, the global seed diversity store in Svalbard. 8

Why now Svalbard?

We can legitimately ask why Bill Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation along with the major genetic engineering agribusiness giants such as DuPont and Syngenta, along with CGIAR are building the Doomsday Seed Vault in the Arctic.

Who uses such a seed bank in the first place? Plant breeders and researchers are the major users of gene banks. Today’s largest plant breeders are Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and Dow Chemical, the global plant-patenting GMO giants. Since early in 2007 Monsanto holds world patent rights together with the United States Government for plant so-called ‘Terminator’ or Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT). Terminator is an ominous technology by which a patented commercial seed commits ‘suicide’ after one harvest. Control by private seed companies is total. Such control and power over the food chain has never before in the history of mankind existed.

This clever genetically engineered terminator trait forces farmers to return every year to Monsanto or other GMO seed suppliers to get new seeds for rice, soybeans, corn, wheat whatever major crops they need to feed their population. If broadly introduced around the world, it could within perhaps a decade or so make the world’s majority of food producers new feudal serfs in bondage to three or four giant seed companies such as Monsanto or DuPont or Dow Chemical.

That, of course, could also open the door to have those private companies, perhaps under orders from their host government, Washington, deny seeds to one or another developing country whose politics happened to go against Washington’s. Those who say ‘It can’t happen here’ should look more closely at current global events. The mere existence of that concentration of power in three or four private US-based agribusiness giants is grounds for legally banning all GMO crops even were their harvest gains real, which they manifestly are not.

These private companies, Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical hardly have an unsullied record in terms of stewardship of human life. They developed and proliferated such innovations as dioxin, PCBs, Agent Orange. They covered up for decades clear evidence of carcinogenic and other severe human health consequences of use of the toxic chemicals. They have buried serious scientific reports that the world’s most widespread herbicide, glyphosate, the essential ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide that is tied to purchase of most Monsanto genetically engineered seeds, is toxic when it seeps into drinking water.9 Denmark banned glyphosate in 2003 when it confirmed it has contaminated the country’s groundwater.10

The diversity stored in seed gene banks is the raw material for plant breeding and for a great deal of basic biological research. Several hundred thousand samples are distributed annually for such purposes. The UN’s FAO lists some 1400 seed banks around the world, the largest being held by the United States Government. Other large banks are held by China, Russia, Japan, India, South Korea, Germany and Canada in descending order of size. In addition, CGIAR operates a chain of seed banks in select centers around the world.

CGIAR, set up in 1972 by the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation to spread their Green Revolution agribusiness model, controls most of the private seed banks from the Philippines to Syria to Kenya. In all these present seed banks hold more than six and a half million seed varieties, almost two million of which are ‘distinct.’ Svalbard’s Doomsday Vault will have a capacity to house four and a half million different seeds.

GMO as a weapon of biowarfare?

Now we come to the heart of the danger and the potential for misuse inherent in the Svalbard project of Bill Gates and the Rockefeller foundation. Can the development of patented seeds for most of the world’s major sustenance crops such as rice, corn, wheat, and feed grains such as soybeans ultimately be used in a horrible form of biological warfare?

The explicit aim of the eugenics lobby funded by wealthy elite families such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harriman and others since the 1920’s, has embodied what they termed ‘negative eugenics,’ the systematic killing off of undesired bloodlines. Margaret Sanger, a rapid eugenicist, the founder of Planned Parenthood International and an intimate of the Rockefeller family, created something called The Negro Project in 1939, based in Harlem, which as she confided in a letter to a friend, was all about the fact that, as she put it, ‘we want to exterminate the Negro population.’ 11

A small California biotech company, Epicyte, in 2001 announced the development of genetically engineered corn which contained a spermicide which made the semen of men who ate it sterile. At the time Epicyte had a joint venture agreement to spread its technology with DuPont and Syngenta, two of the sponsors of the Svalbard Doomsday Seed Vault. Epicyte was since acquired by a North Carolina biotech company. Astonishing to learn was that Epicyte had developed its spermicidal GMO corn with research funds from the US Department of Agriculture, the same USDA which, despite worldwide opposition, continued to finance the development of Terminator technology, now held by Monsanto.

In the 1990’s the UN’s World Health Organization launched a campaign to vaccinate millions of women in Nicaragua, Mexico and the Philippines between the ages of 15 and 45, allegedly against Tentanus, a sickness arising from such things as stepping on a rusty nail. The vaccine was not given to men or boys, despite the fact they are presumably equally liable to step on rusty nails as women.

Because of that curious anomaly, Comite Pro Vida de Mexico, a Roman Catholic lay organization became suspicious and had vaccine samples tested. The tests revealed that the Tetanus vaccine being spread by the WHO only to women of child-bearing age contained human Chorionic Gonadotrophin or hCG, a natural hormone which when combined with a tetanus toxoid carrier stimulated antibodies rendering a woman incapable of maintaining a pregnancy. None of the women vaccinated were told.

It later came out that the Rockefeller Foundation along with the Rockefeller’s Population Council, the World Bank (home to CGIAR), and the United States’ National Institutes of Health had been involved in a 20-year-long project begun in 1972 to develop the concealed abortion vaccine with a tetanus carrier for WHO. In addition, the Government of Norway, the host to the Svalbard Doomsday Seed Vault, donated $41 million to develop the special abortive Tetanus vaccine. 12

Is it a coincidence that these same organizations, from Norway to the Rockefeller Foundation to the World Bank are also involved in the Svalbard seed bank project? According to Prof. Francis Boyle who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 enacted by the US Congress, the Pentagon is ‘now gearing up to fight and win biological warfare’ as part of two Bush national strategy directives adopted, he notes, ‘without public knowledge and review’ in 2002. Boyle adds that in 2001-2004 alone the US Federal Government spent $14.5 billion for civilian bio-warfare-related work, a staggering sum.

Rutgers University biologist Richard Ebright estimates that over 300 scientific institutions and some 12,000 individuals in the USA today have access to pathogens suitable for biowarfare. Alone there are 497 US Government NIH grants for research into infectious diseases with biowarfare potential. Of course this is being justified under the rubric of defending against possible terror attack as so much is today.

Many of the US Government dollars spent on biowarfare research involve genetic engineering. MIT biology professor Jonathan King says that the ‘growing bio-terror programs represent a significant emerging danger to our own population.’ King adds, ‘while such programs are always called defensive, with biological weapons, defensive and offensive programs overlap almost completely.’ 13

Time will tell whether, God Forbid, the Svalbard Doomsday Seed Bank of Bill Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation is part of another Final Solution, this involving the extinction of the Late, Great Planet Earth.

Notes

1 F. William Engdahl, Seeds of Destruction, Montreal, (Global Research, 2007).
2 Ibid, pp.72-90.
3 John H. Davis, Harvard Business Review, 1956, cited in Geoffrey Lawrence, Agribusiness, Capitalism and the Countryside, Pluto Press, Sydney, 1987. See also Harvard Business School, The Evolution of an Industry and a Seminar: Agribusiness Seminar, http://www.exed.hbs.edu/programs/agb/seminar.html.
4 Engdahl, op cit., p. 130.
5 Ibid. P. 123-30.
6 Myriam Mayet, The New Green Revolution in Africa: Trojan Horse for GMOs?, May, 2007, African Centre for Biosafety, www.biosafetyafrica.net.
7 ETC Group, Green Revolution 2.0 for Africa?, Communique Issue #94, March/April 2007.
8 Global Crop Diversity Trust website, in http://www.croptrust.org/main/donors.php.
9 Engdahl, op. cit., pp.227-236.
10 Anders Legarth Smith, Denmark Bans Glyphosates, the Active Ingredient in Roundup, Politiken, September 15, 2003, in organic.com.au/news/2003.09.15.
11 Tanya L. Green, The Negro Project: Margaret Sanger’s Genocide Project for Black American’s, in www.blackgenocide.org/negro.html.
12 Engdahl, op. cit., pp. 273-275; J.A. Miller, Are New Vaccines Laced With Birth-Control Drugs?, HLI Reports, Human Life International, Gaithersburg, Maryland; June/July 1995, Volume 13, Number 8.
13 Sherwood Ross, Bush Developing Illegal Bioterror Weapons for Offensive Use,’ December 20, 2006, in www.truthout.org.