Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-chair Bill Gates, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan and Independent Monitoring Board chairperson Sir Liam Donaldson. BMGF/J.Morgan (Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative)

Sierra Leone has waved the white flag in the face of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Its meager infrastructure has buckled under the onslaught of a disease which could have been curtailed. The announcement that infected patients will be treated at home because there is no longer the capacity to treat them in hospitals is a surrender which did not have to happen. Not only did Europe and the United States turn a blind eye to sick and dying Africans but they did so with the help of an unlikely perpetrator.

The World Health Organization is “the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system.” Its very name implies that it takes direction from and serves the needs of people all over the world but the truth is quite different. The largest contributor to the WHO budget is not a government. It is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which provides more funding than either the United States or the United Kingdom. WHO actions and priorities are no longer the result of the consensus of the world’s people but top down decision making from wealthy philanthropists.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation may appear to be a savior when it provides $300 million to the WHO budget, but those dollars come with strings attached. WHO director general Dr. Margaret Chan admitted as much when she said, “My budget [is] highly earmarked, so it is driven by what I call donor interests.” Instead of being on the front line when a communicable disease crisis appears, it spends its time administering what Gates and his team have determined is best.

The Ebola horror continues as it has for the last ten months in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The cruelty of the world’s lack of concern for Africa and all Africans in the diaspora was evident by the inaction of nations and organizations that are supposed to respond in times of emergencies. While African governments and aid organizations sounded the alarm the WHO did little because its donor driven process militates against it. The world of private dollars played a role in consigning thousands of people to death.

Critics of the Gates Foundation appeared long before this current Ebola outbreak. In 2008 the WHO’s malaria chief, Dr. Arata Kochi, complained about the conflicts of interest created by the foundation. In an internal memo leaked to the New York Times he complained that the world’s top malaria researchers were “locked up in a ‘cartel’ with their own research funding being linked to those of others within the group.” In other words, the standards of independent peer reviewed research were cast aside in order to please the funder.

Private philanthropy is inherently undemocratic. It is a top down driven process in which the wealthy individual tells the recipient what they will and will not do. This is a problematic system for charities of all kinds and is disastrous where the health of world’s people is concerned. Health care should be a human right, not a charity, and the world’s governments should determine how funds to protect that right are spent. One critic put it very pointedly. “…the Gates Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates, do not believe in the public sector, they do not believe in a democratic, publically owned, publically accountable system.”

There is little wonder why the Ebola outbreak caught the WHO so flat footed as they spent months making mealy mouthed statements but never coordinating an effective response. The Gates foundation is the WHO boss, not governments, and if they weren’t demanding action, then the desperate people affected by Ebola weren’t going to get any.

Privatization of public resources is a worldwide scourge. Education, pensions, water, and transportation are being taken out of the hands of the public and given to rich people and corporations. The Ebola crisis is symptomatic of so many others which go unaddressed or improperly addressed because no one wants to bite the hands that do the feeding.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged an additional $50 million to fight the current Ebola epidemic but that too is problematic, as Director General Chan describes. “When there’s an event, we have money. Then after that, the money stops coming in, then all the staff you recruited to do the response, you have to terminate their contracts.” The WHO should not be lurching from crisis to crisis, SARS, MERS, or H1N1 influenza based on the whims of philanthropy. The principles of public health should be carried out by knowledgeable medical professionals who are not dependent upon rich people for their jobs.

The Gates are not alone in using their deep pockets to confound what should be publicly held responsibilities. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was contributing $25 million to fight Ebola. His donation will go to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation. Most Americans are probably unaware that such a foundation even exists. Yet there it is, run by a mostly corporate board which will inevitably interfere with the public good. The WHO and its inability to coordinate the fight against Ebola tells us that public health is just that, public. If the CDC response to Ebola in the United States fails it may be because it falls prey to the false siren song of giving private interests control of the people’s resources and responsibilities.

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

A disrupted Ukrainian parliamentary session suggests high risks for early parliamentary elections on October 26, the country’s Central Elections Commission (CEC) chief said in an official statement.

Lawmakers were forced to abandon work on Tuesday due to disorder from radical nationalists near the parliament building. Svoboda party activists were protesting over parliament’s refusal to consider a bill declaring the nationalist Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA) WWII military organization fighting for Ukraine’s independence.

Disorder grew into riots as radicals sought to storm the parliament building. Smoke candles, stun grenades and other charges were hurled at the police. Dispersing lawmaker numbers shrunk to below the required quorum level.

Abandonment prevented debate over military action in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics and law on the parliamentary polls. Voting procedures for servicemen in those districts and repeat polls where voting was found invalid failed to make the session.

“This situation jeopardises the election commission’s ensuring and protecting suffrage for Ukrainian citizens living or staying temporarily in Donetsk and Luhansk republics,” CEC head Mikhail Okhendovsky said.

“This poses major risks for preparing and holding early polls under the country’s constitution, domestic laws and universally recognised international standards of free and fair elections,” he added, while Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov pledged to convene another extraordinary plenary meeting if called for.

Watch video here

The Top 1% Own… Half

October 15th, 2014 by Jon Queally

The top one percent of the wealthiest people on the planet own nearly fifty percent of the world’s assets while the bottom fifty percent of the global population combined own less than one percent of the world’s wealth.

“These figures give more evidence that inequality is extreme and growing, and that economic recovery following the financial crisis has been skewed in favour of the wealthiest. In poor countries, rising inequality means the difference between children getting the chance to go to school and sick people getting life saving medicines.” —Emma Seery, Oxfam International

Those are the findings of an annual report by the investment firm Credit Suisse released Tuesday—the 2014 Global Wealth Report (pdf)—which shows that global economic inequality has surged since the financial collapse of 2008.

According to the report, “global wealth has grown to a new record, rising by $20.1 trillion between mid-2013 and mid-2014, an increase of 8.3%, to reach $263 trillion – more than twice the $117 trillion recorded for the year 2000.”

Though the rate of this  wealth creation has been particularly fast over the last year—the fastest annual growth recorded since the pre-crisis year of 2007—the report notes that the benefits of this overall growth have flowed disproportionately to the already wealthy. And the report reveals that as of mid-2014, “the bottom half of the global population own less than 1% of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest decile hold 87% of the world’s wealth, and the top percentile alone account for 48.2% of global assets.”

Campaigners at Oxfam International, which earlier this put out their own report on global inequality (pdf), said the Credit Suisse report, though generally serving separate aims, confirms what they also found in terms of global inequality.

“These figures give more evidence that inequality is extreme and growing, and that economic recovery following the financial crisis has been skewed in favour of the wealthiest. In poor countries, rising inequality means the difference between children getting the chance to go to school and sick people getting life saving medicines,” Oxfam’s head of inequality Emma Seery, told the Guardian in response to the latest study.

In addition to giving an overall view of trends in global wealth, the authors of the Credit Suisse  gave special attention to the issue of inequality in this year’s report, noting the increasing level of concern surrounding the topic. “The changing distribution of wealth is now one of the most widely discussed and controversial of topics,” they write, “Not least owing to [French economist] Thomas Piketty’s recent account of long-term trends around inequality. We are confident that the depth of our data will make a valuable contribution to the inequality debate.”

According to the report:

In almost all countries, the mean wealth of the top decile (i.e. the wealthiest 10% of adults) is more than ten times median wealth. For the top percentile (i.e. the wealthiest 1% of adults), mean wealth exceeds 100 times the median wealth in many countries and can approach 1000 times the median in the most unequal nations. This has been the case throughout most of human history, with wealth ownership often equating with land holdings, and wealth more often acquired via inheritance or conquest rather than talent or hard work. However, a combination of factors caused wealth inequality to trend downwards in high income countries during much of the 20th century, suggesting that a new era had emerged. That downward trend now appears to have stalled, and possibly gone into reverse.

Update, 14 October:

The House of Commons, the lower house of the UK parliament, voted by 274-12 on Monday to approve the non-binding motion:

That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.

While the motion carried by an overwhelming majority, fewer than half of the members of the house took part in the vote.

Update, 12 October: UK vote

On Monday 13 October, members of the UK parliament are to vote on a symbolic motion that “the Government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.”

The BBC reports that the motion is likely to be further amended to add the words that this recognition should be done as “a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

This initiative may have good intentions in the minds of many, but for reasons I explain below, I believe that recognizing such a “state” is harmful to the rights of most Palestinians. So I respectfully but strongly disagree with friends who support it.

Originally published last week, I have slightly revised the post below to explain more clearly why this is the case. The logic that applies to Sweden applies precisely to the UK move as well.

Original post

The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah was ecstatic last weekend after Sweden’s new center-left Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced in his inaugural address to parliament what appeared to be a break with Western orthodoxy: his country would recognize the “State of Palestine.”

“We salute the announcement by the Swedish prime minister,” crowed Saeb Erekat, the PA “chief negotiator.”

Although dozens of countries already recognize the “State of Palestine,” including several in Europe, Israel’s staunchest backers – the US, Canada, Australia and most of the European Union states – do not.

For the PA, with no achievements – and many losses – to show for more than two decades of a “peace process,” such diplomatic recognition is a coveted prize that gives the false impression of progress.

But American objections and Israeli fury quickly pushed the Swedes to try to cool expectations.

On Friday, US State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki criticized the Swedish move as “premature.”

The Swedish ambassador in Tel Aviv was summoned to the Israeli foreign ministry for a scolding on Monday – but Sweden’s government would not reveal the content of his discussion with Israeli officials.

And the Swedish prime minister was subjected to the usual insults by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who suggested that Löfven did not understand the region.

“If what concerns the prime minister of Sweden in his inaugural address is the situation in the Middle East, he would better focus on the more urgent problems in the region, such as the daily mass murder taking place in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region,”Lieberman advised.

Publicly, the Swedes did their best to soothe Israel’s anger.

Prime Minister Löfven spoke with Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog, chair of Israel’s Labor Party, a “sister party” to Löfven’s Social Democrats.

Herzog told Haaretz that Löfven stressed that Sweden “wasn’t going to recognize a Palestinian state tomorrow morning” and “wants to speak first with all the relevant parties, including Israel, the Palestinians, the United States and other EU states.”

So much for a big, bold break.

Vague statement

Also on Sunday, Sweden’s foreign ministry tweeted out Löfven’s exact words apparently to underline Sweden’s support for the sterile “peace process” and the “two-state solution.”

And this statement was posted on the website of the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv:

The following text is a quote from the Prime Minister Stefan Löfven’s declaration on the government policy in the parliament on 3 October.

“The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be resolved through a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with the principles of international law. It must guarantee the legitimate demands of both the Palestinians and the Israelis for national self-determination and security. A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to coexist peacefully. Therefore, Sweden will recognize the State of Palestine.”

Löfven’s commitment has no specific date attached to it, leaving, at best, confusion over his government’s intentions.

Sweden’s new foreign minister Margot Wallström added to the confusion, tweeting cryptically: “Recognizing Palestine: Important step towards a two-state solution. Both sides must be respected.”

on Twitter

By “both sides,” she presumably means the occupier and colonizer on the one hand, and its victims, on the other.

Sweden’s misguided motives

Wallström elaborated on Sweden’s intentions in comments to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Sunday.

The minister said that the strong Israeli reaction was unsurprising: “This I can understand and respect even if I do not share it.”

She said she didn’t think the planned move would “have any serious impact on relations between Sweden and Israel,” stressing “We have good relations.”

She rejected criticism that the move was too early: “I would say that the risk is that it is too late.”

But why float this step at all? “It is important that we take an initiative that hopefully will inspire other countries,” Wallström said.

Wallström is right: it is too late. It is too late to revive the dead “peace process” and there is no point talking about a “two-state solution” anymore. She’s also right to suggest that things cannot go on as they are and something must be done.

But moving from quiet complicity with Israel to antagonizing it with symbolic recognition of a Palestinian state – while maintaining “good relations” – will do absolutely nothing to change the Palestinian reality, even if other states followed Sweden’s lead (if and when it comes).

“State” harms Palestinians

As I have explained in my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine and in an article forAl-Shabaka, recognition of a Palestinian “state” in a fraction of Palestine actually negates the rights of most Palestinians and conflicts with the Palestinian right of self-determination.

While recognizing the “State of Palestine” excites and pleases many who support the Palestinian cause, people should not to get carried away with the aesthetics of “statehood” in what would amount to a bantustan.

Instead, I have argued, they should focus on the negative consequences for the right of return and the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The main purpose of the so-called two-state solution is not to restore Palestinian rights, but rather to preserve and recognize Israel’s so-called “right to exist as a Jewish state.”

As I further explain in this excerpt from my book, Israel’s claimed “right to exist as a Jewish state” can only be exercised by violating in perpetuity the rights of millions of Palestinians – Palestinian citizens of Israel who will retain second-class status if not expelled outright, and Palestinian refugees who will never be allowed back home. And even the rights of Palestinians in the so-called “state” would barely be realized since Israel insists that this state have extremely curtailed sovereignty.

So from my perspective, I do not see recognition of a Palestinian “state” in the context of the so-called two-state solution as anything to celebrate. Indeed, it may well be harmful to Palestinians in the long run.

What Sweden could do

But I do applaud Sweden’s desire to show leadership, initiative and to break with a stifling consensus. So, here are some ideas for Sweden’s new government that might actually do that:

Sweden led the way among European countries in opposing apartheid in South Africa. That included rejecting the regime’s bantustans which were designed to preserve apartheid by disguising it as “independence” for Blacks.

It is also past time for Sweden and other countries to stop concealing their complicity with Israeli apartheid behind the so-called “two-state solution” and to openly support full rights and equality for all Palestinians throughout historic Palestine.

Chevron made waves in the business world when it announced its October 6 sale of 30-percent of its holdings in the Alberta-based Duvernay Shale basin to Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) for $1.5 billion.

It marked the first North American purchase for the Kuwaiti state-owned oil company and yields KUFPEC 330,000 acres of Duvernay shale gas. Company CEO and the country’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, called it an “anchor project” that could spawn Kuwait’s expansion into North America at-large.

Kuwait’s investment in the Duvernay, at face-value buying into Canada’s hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) revolution, was actually also an all-in bet on Alberta’s tar sands. As explained in an October 7 article in Platts, the Duvernay serves as a key feedstock for condensate, a petroleum product made from gas used to dilute tar sands, allowing the product to move through pipelines.

And while Kuwait — the small Gulf state sandwiched between Iraq and Saudi Arabia — has made a wager on Alberta’s shale and tar sands, Big Oil may also soon make a big bet on Kuwait’s homegrown tar sands resources.

“Kuwait has invited Britain’s BP, France’s Total, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron, to bid for a so-called enhanced technical service agreement for the northern Ratqa heavy oilfield,” explained an October 2 article in Reuters. “It is the first time KOC will develop such a big heavy oil reservoir and the plan is to produce 60,000 bpd from Ratqa, which lies close to the Iraqi border [in northern Kuwait]…and then ramp it up to 120,000 bpd by 2025.”

In the past, Kuwait has said it hopes to learn how to extract tar sands from Alberta’s petroleum engineers.

Canadian Tutelage

Back in 2007, Kuwait had much more ambitious plans for the Ratqa oil field.

Though the current goal is to suck 120,000 barrels per day of heavy oil out of the field, back in 2007 the goal was 900,000 barrels per day by 2020. And Alberta’s petroleum engineers would lend their expertise to the cause, or at least that was the plan for Kuwait Oil Company at the time.

“Unless we seek the experience of the industry here, we will not be able to reach our target,” Ali al-Shammari, at the time the deputy managing director for finance for the Kuwait Oil Company, told the Calgary Herald. “We will need [international oil companies'] help in developing the reservoirs and may also consider the options of signing enhanced technical services agreements.”

Kuwait’s entrance into Canada depicts how important Alberta’s tar sands have become for the global geopolitical landscape. And Kuwait opening its doors to the oil majors depicts the country as an emerging player in the global oil market.

Geopolitics At Play

The Islamic State — formerly known as the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL)— has established what it calls a Caliphate in both northern Iraq and large swaths of Syria.

 

Fueled by $25 to $60 per barrel oil sold on the black market, Kuwait has largely escaped from the day-to-day newscycle. But as the famous Mark Twain quip goes, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

The Ratqa oil field is the same geological formation as the Rumaila oil field, which sits in southern Iraq. Iraq and Kuwait fought a war over the field in early-1990s, in which the United States lead the call to arms against former President Saddam Hussein: Operation Desert Storm, the first Gulf War.

In 2010, Iraq and Kuwait signed an agreement — an armistice really — to share the border oilfield.

Further, Wikileaks U.S. Department of State diplomatic cables made public by whistleblower Chelsea Manning show that the U.S. government has kept a close eye on the Ratqa oil field, as well as on which U.S.-based oil companies stood to win and lose if developed.

Though almost two and a half decades have gone by since Operation Desert Storm and Saddam Hussein is no longer even alive, one thing remains constant: oil still runs the show in the Persian Gulf region. And this time around, it’s tar sands oil — the same oil running the show in Alberta.

The Disturbing Expansion of the Military-Industrial Complex

October 15th, 2014 by Mairead Maguire

How can we explain that in the 21st century we are still training millions of men and women in our armed forces and sending them to war? 

There are more choices than war or peace, there are multi-optional choices and a civilian-based non-military diplomatic-political policy has more chance of succeeding in solving a violent conflict.

In war, the cost in civilian lives is incalculable, not to mention the many military personnel whose lives are destroyed.  Then there is the cost to the environment and the cost to human potential as our scientists waste their lives planning and researching even more horrific weapons which increasingly, in modern war, kill more civilians than combatants.

For example, the United States and the United Kingdom committed genocide against the Iraqi people when, between 1990 and 2012, they killed 3.3 million people – including 750,000 children – through sanctions and wars.

We all also watched our television screens in horror in July and August this year as the Israeli military bombarded civilians in Gaza for 50 days.

But, why are we surprised at this cruelty of military when they are doing what they are trained to do – kill, at the behest of their politicians and some people?

It is shocking to listen to politicians and military boast of their military prowess when in lay persons’ terms what it means is killing of human beings.

Every day through our television and local culture, we are subjected to the glorification of militarism and bombarded with war propaganda by governments telling us we need nuclear weapons, arms manufacturers, and war to kill the killers who might kill us.

However, too many people do not have peace or the basics to help them achieve peace.

“Every day through our television and local culture, we are subjected to the glorification of militarism and bombarded with war propaganda by governments telling us we need nuclear weapons, arms manufacturers, and war to kill the killers who might kill us.”

They live their lives struggling with the roots of violence, some of which are poverty, war, militarism, occupation, racism and fascism. They have seen that they release uncontrollable forces of tribalism and nationalism. These are dangerous and murderous forms of identity which we need to transcend.

To do this, we need to acknowledge that our common humanity and human dignity are more important than our different traditions; to recognise that our lives and the lives of others are sacred and we can solve our problems without killing each other; to accept and celebrate diversity and otherness; to work to heal the ‘old’ divisions and misunderstandings; to give and accept forgiveness, and to choose listening, dialogue and diplomacy; to disarm and demilitarise as the pathway to peace.

In my own country, in Northern Ireland, when faced with a violent and prolonged ethnic/political conflict, the civil community organised to take a stand, rejected all violence and committed itself to working for peace, justice and reconciliation.

Through unconditional, all-inclusive dialogue, we reached peace and continue to work to build up trust and friendship and change in the post-conflict era. The civil community took a leading role in this journey from violence to peace.

I hope this will give an example to other countries such as Ukraine, where it is necessary for an end to the war, and a solution of the problem on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations and the Helsinki Accords.

We are also challenged to continue to build structures through which we can cooperate and which reflect our relations of interconnection and interdependence.  The vision of the founders of the European Union to link countries together economically in order to lessen the likelihood of war among nations is a worthy endeavour.

Unfortunately instead of putting more energy into providing help for E.U. citizens and others, we are witnessing the growing militarisation of Europe, its role as a driving force for armament and its dangerous path, under the leadership of the United States/NATO, towards a new ‘cold’ war and military aggression.

The European Union and many of its countries, which used to take initiatives in the United Nations for peaceful settlements of conflict, are now one of the most important war assets of the U.S./NATO front.  Many countries have also been drawn into complicity in breaking international law through U.S./U.K./NATO wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and so on.

It is for this reason that I believe NATO should be abolished and that steps be taken towards disarmament through non-violent action and civil resistance.

The means of resistance are very important. Our message that armed groups, militarism and war do not solve our problems but aggravate them challenges us to use new ways and that is why we need to teach the science of peace at every level of society.

The whole of civilisation is now facing a challenge with the growth of what President Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) warned the U.S. people against – the military/industrial complex – saying that it would destroy U.S. democracy.

We know now that a small group made up of the military/industrial/media/corporate/academic elite, whose agenda is profit, arms, war and valuable resources, now holds power worldwide and has a stronghold on elected governments.  We see this in the gun and Israeli lobbies, among others, which wield great power over U.S. politics.

We have witnessed this in ongoing wars, invasions, occupations and proxy wars, all allegedly in the name of “humanitarian intervention and democracy”. However, in reality, they are causing great suffering, especially to the poor, through their policies of arms, war, domination and control of other countries and their resources.

Unmaking this agenda of war and demanding the implementation of justice, human rights and international law is the work of the peace movement.

We can turn our current path of destruction around by spelling out a clear vision of what kind of a world we want to live in, demanding an end to the military-industrial complex, and insisting that our governments adopt policies of peace, just economics and cooperation with each other in this multi-polar world.

CIDRAP Editor’s Note: Today’s commentary was submitted to CIDRAP by the authors, who are national experts on respiratory protection and infectious disease transmission. In May they published a similar commentary on MERS-CoV. Dr Brosseau is a Professor and Dr Jones an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Healthcare workers play a very important role in the successful containment of outbreaks of infectious diseases like Ebola. The correct type and level of personal protective equipment (PPE) ensures that healthcare workers remain healthy throughout an outbreak—and with the current rapidly expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa, it’s imperative to favor more conservative measures.

The precautionary principle—that any action designed to reduce risk should not await scientific certainty—compels the use of respiratory protection for a pathogen like Ebola virus that has:

  • No proven pre- or post-exposure treatment modalities
  • A high case-fatality rate
  • Unclear modes of transmission

We believe there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles both near and at a distance from infected patients, which means that healthcare workers should be wearing respirators, not facemasks.1

The minimum level of protection in high-risk settings should be a respirator with an assigned protection factor greater than 10. A powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) with a hood or helmet offers many advantages over an N95 filtering facepiece or similar respirator, being more protective, comfortable, and cost-effective in the long run.

We strongly urge the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to seek funds for the purchase and transport of PAPRs to all healthcare workers currently fighting the battle against Ebola throughout Africa—and beyond.

There has been a lot of on-line and published controversy about whether Ebola virus can be transmitted via aerosols. Most scientific and medical personnel, along with public health organizations, have been unequivocal in their statements that Ebola can be transmitted only by direct contact with virus-laden fluids2,3 and that the only modes of transmission we should be concerned with are those termed “droplet” and “contact.”

These statements are based on two lines of reasoning. The first is that no one located at a distance from an infected individual has contracted the disease, or the converse, every person infected has had (or must have had) “direct” contact with the body fluids of an infected person.

This reflects an incorrect and outmoded understanding of infectious aerosols, which has been institutionalized in policies, language, culture, and approaches to infection control. We will address this below. Briefly, however, the important points are that virus-laden bodily fluids may be aerosolized and inhaled while a person is in proximity to an infectious person and that a wide range of particle sizes can be inhaled and deposited throughout the respiratory tract.

The second line of reasoning is that respirators or other control measures for infectious aerosols cannot be recommended in developing countries because the resources, time, and/or understanding for such measures are lacking.4

Although there are some important barriers to the use of respirators, especially PAPRs, in developing countries, healthcare workers everywhere deserve and should be afforded the same best-practice types of protection, regardless of costs and resources. Every healthcare worker is a precious commodity whose well-being ensures everyone is protected.

If we are willing to offer infected US healthcare workers expensive treatments and experimental drugs free of charge when most of the world has no access to them, we wonder why we are unwilling to find the resources to provide appropriate levels of comparatively less expensive respiratory protection to every healthcare worker around the world.

How are infectious diseases transmitted via aerosols?

Medical and infection control professionals have relied for years on a paradigm for aerosol transmission of infectious diseases based on very outmoded research and an overly simplistic interpretation of the data. In the 1940s and 50s, William F. Wells and other “aerobiologists” employed now significantly out-of-date sampling methods (eg, settling plates) and very blunt analytic approaches (eg, cell culturing) to understand the movement of bacterial aerosols in healthcare and other settings. Their work, though groundbreaking at the time, provides a very incomplete picture.

Early aerobiologists were not able to measure small particles near an infectious person and thus assumed such particles existed only far from the source. They concluded that organisms capable of aerosol transmission (termed “airborne”) can only do so at around 3 feet or more from the source. Because they thought that only larger particles would be present near the source, they believed people would be exposed only via large “droplets” on their face, eyes, or nose.

Modern research, using more sensitive instruments and analytic methods, has shown that aerosols emitted from the respiratory tract contain a wide distribution of particle sizes—including many that are small enough to be inhaled.5,6 Thus, both small and large particles will be present near an infectious person.

The chance of large droplets reaching the facial mucous membranes is quite small, as the nasal openings are small and shielded by their external and internal structure. Although close contact may permit large-droplet exposure, it also maximizes the possibility of aerosol inhalation.

As noted by early aerobiologists, liquid in a spray aerosol, such as that generated during coughing or sneezing, will quickly evaporate,7 which increases the concentration of small particles in the aerosol. Because evaporation occurs in milliseconds, many of these particles are likely to be found near the infectious person.

The current paradigm also assumes that only “small” particles (less than 5 micrometers [mcm]) can be inhaled and deposited in the respiratory tract. This is not true. Particles as large as 100 mcm (and perhaps even larger) can be inhaled into the mouth and nose. Larger particles are deposited in the nasal passages, pharynx, and upper regions of the lungs, while smaller particles are more likely to deposit in the lower, alveolar regions. And for many pathogens, infection is possible regardless of the particle size or deposition site.

It’s time to abandon the old paradigm of three mutually exclusive transmission routes for a new one that considers the full range of particle sizes both near and far from a source. In addition, we need to factor in other important features of infectivity, such as the ability of a pathogen to remain viable in air at room temperature and humidity and the likelihood that systemic disease can result from deposition of infectious particles in the respiratory system or their transfer to the gastrointestinal tract.

We recommend using “aerosol transmissible” rather than the outmoded terms “droplet” or “airborne” to describe pathogens that can transmit disease via infectious particles suspended in air.

Is Ebola an aerosol-transmissible disease?

We recently published a commentary on the CIDRAP site discussing whether Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) could be an aerosol-transmissible disease, especially in healthcare settings. We drew comparisons with a similar and more well-studied disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

For Ebola and other filoviruses, however, there is much less information and research on disease transmission and survival, especially in healthcare settings.

Being at first skeptical that Ebola virus could be an aerosol-transmissible disease, we are now persuaded by a review of experimental and epidemiologic data that this might be an important feature of disease transmission, particularly in healthcare settings.

What do we know about Ebola transmission?

No one knows for certain how Ebola virus is transmitted from one person to the next. The virus has been found in the saliva, stool, breast milk, semen, and blood of infected persons.8,9 Studies of transmission in Ebola virus outbreaks have identified activities like caring for an infected person, sharing a bed, funeral activities, and contact with blood or other body fluids to be key risk factors for transmission.10-12

On the basis of epidemiologic evidence, it has been presumed that Ebola viruses are transmitted by contaminated hands in contact with the mouth or eyes or broken skin or by splashes or sprays of body fluids into these areas. Ebola viruses appear to be capable of initiating infection in a variety of human cell types,13,14 but the primary portal or portals of entry into susceptible hosts have not been identified.

Some pathogens are limited in the cell type and location they infect. Influenza, for example, is generally restricted to respiratory epithelial cells, which explains why flu is primarily a respiratory infection and is most likely aerosol transmissible. HIV infects T-helper cells in the lymphoid tissues and is primarily a bloodborne pathogen with low probability for transmission via aerosols.

Ebola virus, on the other hand, is a broader-acting and more non-specific pathogen that can impede the proper functioning of macrophages and dendritic cells—immune response cells located throughout the epithelium.15,16 Epithelial tissues are found throughout the body, including in the respiratory tract. Ebola prevents these cells from carrying out their antiviral functions but does not interfere with the initial inflammatory response, which attracts additional cells to the infection site. The latter contribute to further dissemination of the virus and similar adverse consequences far beyond the initial infection site.

The potential for transmission via inhalation of aerosols, therefore, cannot be ruled out by the observed risk factors or our knowledge of the infection process. Many body fluids, such as vomit, diarrhea, blood, and saliva, are capable of creating inhalable aerosol particles in the immediate vicinity of an infected person. Cough was identified among some cases in a 1995 outbreak in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo,11 and coughs are known to emit viruses in respirable particles.17The act of vomiting produces an aerosol and has been implicated in airborne transmission of gastrointestinal viruses.18,19 Regarding diarrhea, even when contained by toilets, toilet flushing emits a pathogen-laden aerosol that disperses in the air.20-22

Experimental work has shown that Marburg and Ebola viruses can be isolated from sera and tissue culture medium at room temperature for up to 46 days, but at room temperature no virus was recovered from glass, metal, or plastic surfaces.23 Aerosolized (1-3 mcm) Marburg, Ebola, and Reston viruses, at 50% to 55% relative humidity and 72°F, had biological decay rates of 3.04%, 3.06%. and 1.55% per minute, respectively. These rates indicate that 99% loss in aerosol infectivity would occur in 93, 104, and 162 minutes, respectively.23

In still air, 3-mcm particles can take up to an hour to settle. With air currents, these and smaller particles can be transported considerable distances before they are deposited on a surface.

There is also some experimental evidence that Ebola and other filoviruses can be transmitted by the aerosol route. Jaax et al24 reported the unexpected death of two rhesus monkeys housed approximately 3 meters from monkeys infected with Ebola virus, concluding that respiratory or eye exposure to aerosols was the only possible explanation.

Zaire Ebola viruses have also been transmitted in the absence of direct contact among pigs25 and from pigs to non-human primates,26 which experienced lung involvement in infection. Persons with no known direct contact with Ebola virus disease patients or their bodily fluids have become infected.12

Direct injection and exposure via a skin break or mucous membranes are the most efficient ways for Ebola to transmit. It may be that inhalation is a less efficient route of transmission for Ebola and other filoviruses, as lung involvement has not been reported in all non-human primate studies of Ebola aerosol infectivity.27 However, the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems are not complete barriers to Ebola virus. Experimental studies have demonstrated that it is possible to infect non-human primates and other mammals with filovirus aerosols.25-27

Altogether, these epidemiologic and experimental data offer enough evidence to suggest that Ebola and other filoviruses may be opportunistic with respect to aerosol transmission.28 That is, other routes of entry may be more important and probable, but, given the right conditions, it is possible that transmission could also occur via aerosols.

Guidance from the CDC and WHO recommends the use of facemasks for healthcare workers providing routine care to patients with Ebola virus disease and respirators when aerosol-generating procedures are performed. (Interestingly, the 1998 WHO and CDC infection-control guidance for viral hemorrhagic fevers in Africa, still available on the CDC Web site, recommends the use of respirators.)

Facemasks, however, do not offer protection against inhalation of small infectious aerosols, because they lack adequate filters and do not fit tightly against the face.1 Therefore, a higher level of protection is necessary.

Which respirator to wear?

As described in our earlier CIDRAP commentary, we can use a Canadian control-banding approach to select the most appropriate respirator for exposures to Ebola in healthcare settings.29 (See this document for a detailed description of the Canadian control banding approach and the data used to select respirators in our examples below.)

The control banding method involves the following steps:

  1. Identify the organism’s risk group (1 to 4). Risk group reflects the toxicity of an organism, including the degree and type of disease and whether treatments are available. Ebola is in risk group 4, the most toxic organisms, because it can cause serious human or animal disease, is easily transmitted, directly or indirectly, and currently has no effective treatments or preventive measures.
  2. Identify the generation rate. The rate of aerosol generation reflects the number of particles created per time (eg, particles per second). Some processes, such as coughing, create more aerosols than others, like normal breathing. Some processes, like intubation and toilet flushing, can rapidly generate very large quantities of aerosols. The control banding approach assigns a qualitative rank ranging from low (1) to high (4) (eg, normal breathing without coughing has a rank of 1).
  3. Identify the level of control. Removing contaminated air and replacing it with clean air, as accomplished with a ventilation system, is effective for lowering the overall concentration of infectious aerosol particles in a space, although it may not be effective at lowering concentration in the immediate vicinity of a source. The number of air changes per hour (ACH) reflects the rate of air removal and replacement. This is a useful variable, because it is relatively easy to measure and, for hospitals, reflects building code requirements for different types of rooms. Again, a qualitative ranking is used to reflect low (1) versus high (4) ACH. Even if the true ventilation rate is not known, the examples can be used to select an appropriate air exchange rate.
  4. Identify the respirator assigned protection factor. Respirators are designated by their “class,” each of which has an assigned protection factor (APF) that reflects the degree of protection. The APF represents the outside, environmental concentration divided by the inside, facepiece concentration. An APF of 10 means that the outside concentration of a particular contaminant will be 10 times greater than that inside the respirator. If the concentration outside the respirator is very high, an assigned protection factor of 10 may not prevent the wearer from inhaling an infective dose of a highly toxic organism.

Practical examples

Two examples follow. These assume that infectious aerosols are generated only during vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, or similar high-energy emissions such as some medical procedures. It is possible that Ebola virus may be shed as an aerosol in other manners not considered.

Caring for a patient in the early stages of disease (no bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, etc). In this case, the generation rate is 1. For any level of control (less than 3 to more than 12 ACH), the control banding wheel indicates a respirator protection level of 1 (APF of 10), which corresponds to an air purifying (negative pressure) half-facepiece respirator such as an N95 filtering facepiece respirator. This type of respirator requires fit testing.

Caring for a patient in the later stages of disease (bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, etc).If we assume the highest generation rate (4) and a standard patient room (control level = 2, 3-6 ACH), a respirator with an APF of at least 50 is needed. In the United States, this would be equivalent to either a full-facepiece air-purifying (negative-pressure) respirator or a half-facepiece PAPR (positive pressure), but standards differ in other countries. Fit testing is required for these types of respirators.

The control level (room ventilation) can have a big effect on respirator selection. For the same patient housed in a negative-pressure airborne infection isolation room (6-12 ACH), a respirator with an assigned protection factor of 25 is required. This would correspond in the United States to a PAPR with a loose-fitting facepiece or with a helmet or hood. This type of respirator does not need fit testing.

Implications for protecting health workers in Africa

Healthcare workers have experienced very high rates of morbidity and mortality in the past and current Ebola virus outbreaks. A facemask, or surgical mask, offers no or very minimal protection from infectious aerosol particles. As our examples illustrate, for a risk group 4 organism like Ebola, the minimum level of protection should be an N95 filtering facepiece respirator.

This type of respirator, however, would only be appropriate only when the likelihood of aerosol exposure is very low. For healthcare workers caring for many patients in an epidemic situation, this type of respirator may not provide an adequate level of protection.

For a risk group 4 organism, any activity that has the potential for aerosolizing liquid body fluids, such as medical or disinfection procedures, should be avoided, if possible. Our risk assessment indicates that a PAPR with a full facepiece (APF = 50) or a hood or helmet (APF = 25) would be a better choice for patient care during epidemic conditions.

We recognize that PAPRs present some logistical and infection-control problems. Batteries require frequent charging (which requires a reliable source of electricity), and the entire ensemble requires careful handling and disinfection between uses. A PAPR is also more expensive to buy and maintain than other types of respirators.

On the other hand, a PAPR with a loose-fitting facepiece (hood or helmet) does not require fit testing. Wearing this type of respirator minimizes the need for other types of PPE, such as head coverings and goggles. And, most important, it is much more comfortable to wear than a negative-pressure respirator like an N95, especially in hot environments.

A recent report from a Medecins Sans Frontieres healthcare worker in Sierra Leone30 notes that healthcare workers cannot tolerate the required PPE for more than 40 minutes. Exiting the workplace every 40 minutes requires removal and disinfection or disposal (burning) of all PPE. A PAPR would allow much longer work periods, use less PPE, require fewer doffing episodes, generate less infectious waste, and be more protective. In the long run, we suspect this type of protection could also be less expensive.

Adequate protection is essential

To summarize, for the following reasons we believe that Ebola could be an opportunistic aerosol-transmissible disease requiring adequate respiratory protection:

  • Patients and procedures generate aerosols, and Ebola virus remains viable in aerosols for up to 90 minutes.
  • All sizes of aerosol particles are easily inhaled both near to and far from the patient.
  • Crowding, limited air exchange, and close interactions with patients all contribute to the probability that healthcare workers will be exposed to high concentrations of very toxic infectious aerosols.
  • Ebola targets immune response cells found in all epithelial tissues, including in the respiratory and gastrointestinal system.
  • Experimental data support aerosols as a mode of disease transmission in non-human primates.

Risk level and working conditions suggest that a PAPR will be more protective, cost-effective, and comfortable than an N95 filtering facepiece respirator.

Acknowledgements

We thank Kathleen Harriman, PhD, MPH, RN, Chief, Vaccine Preventable Diseases Epidemiology Section, Immunization Branch, California Department of Public Health, and Nicole Vars McCullough, PhD, CIH, Manager, Global Technical Services, Personal Safety Division, 3M Company, for their input and review.

References

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The lying is intentional, and it is systematic; but it is so on only the most important news-topics, the ones that affect the nation’s aristocracy as a whole, rather than competing interests within it. On these issues, the lying is pervasive.

What, precisely, are the most important news-topics to America’s aristocracy? The questions that aren’t being asked in a given nation’s press  are what show, in the clearest way, what the most important facts are, in order for an ordinary citizen to be able to understand the world without  the oligarchs’ systematic distortions and colorations of it.

A case-in-point is the events in Ukraine during this year:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhrUX53hQOU

And (to penetrate even deeper into the same topic) what about this cover-up, too? (Especially since there’s also this, and this, that seem to be basic to it?) Russia got slapped with international sanctions for this one — for having supposedly caused the Malaysian airliner, MH-17, to be shot down on July 17th, flying over the Ukrainian civil-war zone — but, as you can see there, the entire presentation was a frame-up, and the real perpetrators were Obama and the Ukrainian Government, both of whom lied, and were allowed (by the Western ‘news’ media) to do it and to get away with having done it. (Similarly, Bush’s stenographic press got away with spreading his lies about “Saddam’s WMD.”)

There’s no demand from Western ‘news’ media to get the evidence (such as the black-box data), much less to investigate it independently (as an authentically free press would be doing); and, when the Ukrainian and U.S. Governments refused to let it be released to the public, Western ‘news’ media simply remained silent about the cover-up, instead of making ceaseless headline news about the government’s lies, until the information becomes forced out, by pressure from the public.

These ‘news’ media, the entire Western press, don’t report certain things at all — they choose instead to participate in the Government’s lies about those matters.

The public are clearly being manipulated, not just by the government, but by ‘our free press,’ which are owned by, and financed largely by advertisements from, America’s aristocrats.

Here is a brilliant, and brilliantly researched and documented, 37-minute video on the history of how this control of the public’s perceptions of public events and of politics in our ‘democracy’ evolved, or came about. You can even see speaking there some of the people who developed it, and who carried it out for the oligarchs — the controlling aristocrats — and who thereby played key behind-the-scenes roles in shaping 20th-Century history. This video comes from the same genius, Aaron Hawkins, who researched and produced the best videos on the Ukrainian coup, and on the resulting Ukrainian civil war, and on the MH-17 shoot-down in Ukraine. Each one of these videos presents the visual and audio evidence, and places it into historical context so that it can be understood truthfully, and it coordinates that evidence with all of the written and other documentary evidence, so as to provide, in each one of these brief videos, authentic history, not myth, regarding its subject-matter. It penetrates through the lies, and gets to the truth about the matters that are being covered.

But, though these videos on the 2014 events in Ukraine were posted to the Internet quickly after the events that they are analyzing, and though each of the videos constitutes, even today, the most-credible reconstruction that’s available about how these historic events actually happened, all Western ‘news’ media ignore them; they ignore the historical evidence. In those videos, you can see and evaluate this evidence for yourself; and, to me, it’s damning against the Western press.

And furthermore, here, from (amazingly, a mainstream news source) the BBC in 1992, is a very long but stunning documentary about the history of “Operation Gladio,” the OSS-CIA operation that started in 1945 and that continues even today, to deceive and manipulate the publics in the U.S. and Europe. Again: the documentation here is of the highest quality; nobody can reasonably contest that what’s shown in this video, and the current applications of it continuing today, are real, are historical, not mythological at all. Moreover, a leading German journalist decided just recently to quit his thriving career and to go public with his having prostituted himself to America’s aristocracy in order to rise to the top in Germany’s major ‘news’ media; and this testimony sounds like a direct extension from what the BBC documentary on Operation Gladio was reporting. (He even explains there the type of “non-official cover” that is used to pay such outside or unofficial CIA agents. The CIA also operates a network of corporations to handle that.)

In a world that has no government, this is how international relations are handled: by subterfuge, deceit, and corruption. The publics just shed blood and pay taxes to fight and finance their wars, using weapons from their factories; and the ‘news’ media fool them to do it willingly — or as willingly as possible.

All that has been discussed here is important history, and (except for that BBC documentary) has been hidden instead of reported by the respected news-media.

Another example of that is this, which concerns the 9/11 attacks. (This was on C-span, which is government-financed but not government-controlled, it’s unique; and the oligarchs consider it to be insignificant, because its audience is small and politically diverse, neither large nor politically partisan nor influential. Anyone who sees this video will recognize that the standard account of 9/11 is mostly lies.)

Sometimes, what a nation’s ‘news’ media don’t cover, is more informative about that nation’s real state-of-affairs, than is what they do cover.

Sometimes, the media actually are  the message. They become the message, when they — and not  the reality that they claim to be representing — produce or generate the message, which is the regime’s lie, which is then being pumped by all of the regime’s ‘news’ media: that’s now effectively all  ’news’ media.

The ultimate lie, in such a matter, is that there is no “regime” — that it doesn’t exist; that democracy is what exists.

Are we there, yet? Have we reached that ultimate lie — the lie about whether our country is a democracy?

Have we yet reached the point where the biggest cover-up of all is the one that all of the ‘news’ media participate in: hiding the fact that, even though the media collectively offer a ‘range’ of ‘news’ and ‘diverse opinions’, they’re all really mouthpieces for the very same group: for the oligarchy that own them, and that pay money to them by advertising in them?

Or, have we perhaps been there ever since the non-existent “Saddam’s WMD,” which supposedly “caused” us to invade Iraq in 2003 (producing thousands of U.S. deaths, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, millions of Iraqis displaced, and over $3 trillion in costs to the U.S. economy), or perhaps even ever since before  that (maybe since 9/11, or even before that)?

Why do the public not boycott all ‘news’ media that charge for their ‘news’? These media constantly misrepresent reality.  What they charge should be nothing, because deception is actually worth less  than nothing.

Why does anyone subsidize any ‘news’ medium any longer by paying a subscription to it, if all of the mainstream, and almost all of the ‘alternative,’ ‘news’ media, are really just propaganda-media — the type of media that cover-up, instead of report about, the Government’s lying (such as all that lying about Ukraine)?

If there’s something like Obama’s coup in Ukraine and subsequent ethnic-cleansing there, that’s so central to the American regime as to be effectively banned from the West’s ‘news’ media, then that must be especially  worth the public’s knowing about. When the Establishment — both its ‘left’ and its ‘right’ — is united in a lie, then that lie has to be extremely important to the individuals who collectively hold the real power in a ‘democracy.’

Is this actually  a democracy? How can people intelligently vote, if they’re constantly being lied-to about the most-important things?

Where does this con against the public actually end — or is it endless?

Do you subscribe to The New York Times, or Washington Post, or Fox News Channel, or any other propaganda-vehicle? If so: why do you subsidize them?

Here are the authentic  news-media that I have found (and though they’re not many, they are all free, and each one of them invites each reader to be skeptical and to check out and verify any factual allegation made, because they’re all online, and most of them issue news-reports that have links to their sources online, and so these news-reports are just a click or two away from being able to be verified or else disconfirmed, which means that the standard form of deceiving the readers of a printed  news-medium, which is the inaccessibility of the sources, is not present here; the website cannot so easily deceive, and deceive repeatedly, without suffering a major loss of credibility):

washingtonsblog.com,

rinf.com,

opednews.com,

smirkingchimp.com,

globalresearch.ca,

infowars.com, and

thepeoplesvoice.org.

Perfection doesn’t exist, and I am by no means endorsing the veracity of each article that’s on each one of these seven sites. I happen to disagree with some editorial positions of some of them. For example, I believe that InfoWars is more-open to news-reports from conservatives and from libertarians than they should be; that the editor at GlobalResearch bends over backwards to accept news-stories that place things out of a scientific context regarding the existence of global warming (it seems he doesn’t believe in it, though it is true); and that ThePeoplesVoice isn’t sufficiently skeptical of submitted left-slanted articles.

However, I have found all seven of those news-sources to be honest, none of them to deceive intentionally. And, furthermore, very importantly, the percentage of false assertions is far lower in each one of these sites than it is in the mainstream ‘news’ media.

Any ‘news’ site which has covered-up the Obama Administration’s having committed a bloody coup d’etat in late February of this year in Ukraine that installed nazis – racist fascists – in control there, should simply be boycotted. None of the seven sites that I list here has covered-up that (though practically all other U.S. and UK sites have). And all seven of them are free: there is no subscription-fee for any of them.

I have had my own news-submissions that deal with other  topics than the Ukrainian coup published by mainstream ‘news’ sites, but that’s not the case about the Ukrainian matter. The virtual universality of the ‘news’ blackout on this topic is amazing — far worse than even the blackout on the truth about the 2008 economic collapse. The blackout on the truth about the February 2014 coup and subsequent ethnic-cleansing in Ukraine is nearly total on all U.S. and UK ‘news’ sites, except for the seven authentic news-sites that I link to above. (Each of these 7 sites also has been honest about other things, such as the 2008 collapse, and the 9/11 attacks; however, some of the 7 also go farther into speculation about those partly unresolvable matters than a news-site should. When the government and the mainstream press so constantly lie, speculation as to why that’s happening isn’t entirely bad; it’s forgivable as an attempt to fill in the blanks when the actual evidence is incomplete. But the mainstream press is also full of speculation: only, theirs is dishonest, it is intended  to deceive.)

I have also found one honest German-language news site: deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de, “German Economic News.”

In addition, there are hundreds of specialized news-sites online that are also honest, and free, such as, for example, on the subject of economics, nakedcapitalism.com/ritholtz.com, and wallstreetonparade.com.

So: will someone please explain to me why anyone should subsidize  propagandists?

Maybe if we didn’t do that, the oligarchs would just decide to switch to the news-business, and quit the propaganda-business, because a market for truth in news-reporting might actually develop here, somehow?

But, of course, it should only be so easy, to rectify our corrupt political and economic system.

Anyway, this would be a start in the correct direction. And it’s something anyone can do. And it will save wasted money, for anyone who does it.

That’s a good deal, don’t you think?

On October 8th, Gallup issued three polls that present next month’s elections as a likely bloodbath for congressional Democrats. 

One  bannered “Voter Engagement Lower Than in 2010 and 2006 Midterms,” and reported that by a whopping 19%, Republicans felt more motivated to vote than did Democrats, and were 18% more “Enthusiastic” about voting than were Democrats.

Another headlined “More Still Say Health Law Has Hurt Instead of Helped Them,” and reported that 27% say they’ve been hurt by Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, 16% say they were helped by it, and 54% say that it “had no effect” on them.

A third poll was titled, “In U.S., Uninsured Rate Holds at 13.4%,” and reported that, whereas in 2008 there were 14.6% of respondents who said that they had no health insurance, that figure is now 13.4%.

At the time when President Obama was merely Senator Obama running to win the White House, there were 46 million healthcare uninsureds. During his Presidential campaign, he promised to eliminate 100% of that number of uninsureds: He said that he would be “making health insurance universal.”

Once he won the White House and was starting his Presidency, he was promising to cut 31 million off that number, which still would bring it down 67%. But instead, the health insurance plan that he initiated and signed into law has brought this number down only very slightly, from its original 14.6% to 13.4%, cutting 1.2% off the original 14.6%, or reducing that 14.6% by just 8% of that 14.6%, instead of by the promised 67% of it, much less by the originally promised 100% of it. Though the impact of the largely racist Republican intransigence against Obama has accounted for a portion of that failure (Republican governors trying to block it), the vast majority of this shortfall in the drop in the size of the uninsured population is due actually to Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, itself. That law just wasn’t at all designed to be “making health insurance universal.” Obama lied, repeatedly. And America’s press let him get away with doing so.

Gallup poll on April 16th of this year indicated that, whereas in states that had Republican control and where Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion was rejected by the state’s governor, the decline in uninsureds was only around 4%; the states that had Democratic control and where the governor accepted the Medicaid expansion experienced a decline in uninsureds of around 16% (which though much better was still far short of President Obama’s promised 67% nationwide decline, or of candidate Obama’s promised nationwide decline of 100% on which he had won the White House).

So, even in the states that didn’t do anything to block Obamacare, the decline in uninsureds fell far short of candidate Obama’s promised 67% decline in that number.

Moreover, though economists say that the “recession” in the United States ended in June 2009, all of the economic gains went to only the top 1%, and the bottom 99% remained flat after the Bush “recession” (no gain, no loss, overall); so, virtually all Americans also haven’t benefitted from the “end of the recession.” Obama’s economics have aided only the top 1%.

Furthermore, Gallup reported on October 3rd that whereas 20% of Americans who intend to vote next month are intending to vote in the congressional elections as a “message to support” Obama, 32% intend to vote as a “message to oppose” him. He’s a net 12% deadweight to Democratic congressional candidates. Only Bush in 2006 was in Obama’s league in that regard, he was a net 13% deadweight, and Republicans lost 6 Senate seats and 32 House seats as a result.

The mood of the country is against both Parties, but especially against Democrats (because of Obama).

On July 19th, I did an analysis of polls which argued that the only way that the last two years of Obama’s Presidency won’t turn out to be filled with his signing into law many new pieces of legislation that have passed two very conservative Republican houses of Congress (a Republican House and a Republican Senate), would be if a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives introduces a bill to impeach President Obama. Practically all Republicans in Congress would vote for it, and many Democrats in Congress also would; the net effect would benefit congressional Democrats by removing from their backs the Obama-deadweight. That conclusion seems even truer today.

If no House Democrat introduces a bill to impeach the most unpopular President since Nixon, this country will get to know how conservative Barack Obama really is (and secretly always has been).

He is a Republican in ‘Democratic’ verbal clothing, but Republicans won’t admit it, and Democrats won’t see it.

The elections on November 8th – exactly one month away — will produce the most conservative U.S. Government since before the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Obama, in his heart of hearts, will be delighted. But every Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives has the power to prevent it from happening — if the time hasn’t already gotten too late to do so.

A Lockheed Martin F-16 of the Turkish Air Force.(Reuters / Tobias Schwarz)

Turkish warplanes have bombed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets near the country’s border with Iraq. The strikes highlight rising tensions in Turkey over Ankara’s perceived unwillingness to aid besieged Kurdish fighters in the Syrian town of Kobani.

The Turkish General Staff dispatched F-16 and F-4 jets to the southeastern village of Daglica in Hakkari province on Monday, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reports.

The daily says the airstrikes caused “heavy damage” to the PKK.

The PKK’s military wing, however, said in a statement on its website that its forces had not suffered casualties during the strikes, Reuters reports.

Turkey says the bombings came in response to three days of attacks on the Daglıca military guard post with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns. PKK insurgents for their part blamed the Turkish military of violating the ceasefire.

Monday’s strikes were the first to be conducted since the Kurdish rebel group declared a ceasefire with Turkey in March 2013.

The incident underlines simmering anger among Kurds in southeastern Turkey over Ankara’s failure to intervene against so-called Islamic State (IS) militants, who launched a massive offensive on the predominately Kurdish town of Kobani – not far from Syria’s border with Turkey – on September 16.

At least 35 people were killed throughout Turkey’s Kurdish majority south-eastern provinces last week after protests against Ankara’s inaction descended into violent street clashes.

Kurdish protesters set fire to a barricade set up to block the street as they clash with riot police in Diyarbakir October 7, 2014.(Reuters / Stringer)

Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of PKK, has threatened to call off peace talks to end nearly three decades of insurgency if Ankara does not act by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a “symbolic” amount of military supplies sent from Iraqi Kurdistan to Syrian Kurds is stuck in Syria’s northeast after Turkey refused to open an aid corridor, German daily Deutsche Welle cites Syrian Kurdish official Alan Othman as saying on Tuesday.

“It is a symbolic shipment that has remained in the Jazeera canton,” Othman said, using the Kurdish name for northeastern Syria.

On Monday, Turkish officials denied a previous announcement by the Obama administration that Ankara had authorized US fighter jets to use the Incirlik Airbase as a launching point to conduct bombing campaigns against IS (Islamic State) militants.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that any military operations conducted from its territory should be done with an aim of removing Syrian president Bashar Assad from power.

Earlier this month, Erdogan said that IS and the PKK are equally worthy of contempt in the eyes of Turkey.

“It is wrong to consider them [IS and PKK] in different ways,” Erdogan said. “We need to handle them all together on a common ground.”

Vaccines: Penalizing the Unvaccinated?

October 15th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

Slate has enthusiastically supported vaccinations and in particular, establishment talking points and narratives regarding them, as well as a particular focus on dismembering mainstream anti-vaccine views. In a recent article titled, “Endangering the Herd,” Slate argues that those refusing to receive vaccines should be penalized, and the act of refusing to be vaccinated be criminalized.

The article would claim:

 Parents who don’t vaccinate their kids may have the most heartfelt reason in the world: fear for their own children’s safety. But the basis for that fear is simply unfounded, and their decisions are putting other kids directly at risk. The bottom line is that the government’s interest in protecting children from getting the measles should trump parents’ interest in making medical decisions for their kids

In an attempt to lend credibility to the article’s premise – particularly that fears of vaccinations are unfounded – it cites a fictional television show and repeated assurances from governments that there is no link between vaccines and otherwise unexplained conditions like autism.

Indeed, fictional television shows and statements peddled by verified liars among the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom who brought us decade spanning wars based on now verified lies, form the basis of Slate’s notion that those who fail to receive vaccines produced and distributed by big-pharmaceutical corporations like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), should be penalized. GSK alone, has been convicted multiple times in courtrooms around the world of multibillion dollar bribery scandals and found guilty of and otherwise engaged in other immense improprieties.

Image: GSK, one of several producers of the MMR vaccine, has been caught once again amid a massive, multibillion dollar bribery scandal, this time in China. Literally convicted criminals, why would any rational human being inject into their bodies anything produced by this corporation? 

In one instance, when Chinese authorities began investing a nationwide multibillion dollar bribery racket run by GSK top executives, GSK formed teams to disrupt, bribe, and otherwise confront law enforcement authorities in an attempt to obstruct their investigation.

Criminality, upon criminality.

GSK has been accused and convicted of doing likewise in both Europe and the United States, yet they are still in business – a business that includes producing the very vaccines Slate believes people should be penalized for refusing to take.

Why would any rational human being allow themselves to be injected by something produced by such a corporation – a corporation literally convicted of criminality, fraud, and bribery? If GSK can bribe hundreds if not thousands of doctors and healthcare workers around the world to endorse their products, how difficult would it be to bribe writers at Slate who literally write for money?

Big-Pharma, not Activists, are Responsible for the Growing Mistrust of Vaccines

The debate isn’t ultimately about the science of vaccines, but rather a lack of trust of those charged with producing, monitoring the safety of, and distributing vaccines. The false narrative of science versus conspiracy theorists is peddled by the media, the government, and the corporations that hold influence over both because a narrative focusing on the wisdom of entrusting criminals and mass murderers with our health is an open and shut case.

Such a conclusion would result in the ditching of big-pharma’s vaccines and seeking alternative solutions to immunization, vaccine production and distribution, and overall accountability for healthcare. This would in turn result in the decentralization of healthcare and pharmaceutical production, breaking up the unwarranted wealth and influence of big-pharma and those throughout the government and media that have enriched themselves protecting this monopoly. Clearly this is an outcome many in the media, government, and across the board rooms of big-pharmaceutical corporations across the Western World will fight fanatically to prevent.

For the anti-vaccine movement – it may be wiser to focus on these aspects of the debate rather than be drawn into the false paradigm the media is trying to superimpose upon the issue. It may even be wise to not use the term “anti-vaccine movement,” and instead make it an anti-big-pharma movement.

Slate – were it anything other than pages for rent – would focus more on who is responsible for the vast mistrust the public has for big-pharmaceutical corporations and the governments they have verifiably bribed, lobbied, and in some cases, directly control – rather than focus on rational people who do not trust this vast concentration of wealth, influence, and control over human health.

“It’s been over five months since the night a SWAT team broke into the house in which we were staying…We were staying with relatives and my whole family was sleeping in one room. My husband and I, our three daughters and our baby (nicknamed “Baby Bou Bou”) in his crib. Dressed like soldiers, they broke down the door. The SWAT officers tossed a flashbang grenade into the room. It landed in Baby Bou Bou’s crib, blowing a hole in his face and chest that took months to heal and covering his entire body with scars…

“Doctors tell us that my son will have to have double reconstructive surgeries twice a year, every year for the next 20 years… [I]n five short months our family has taken on nearly $900,000 in medical bills, some of which have now gone into collections… After initially offering to cover the medical expenses, the county has since refused to cover any of our medical costs, all of which would never have happened if the SWAT team hadn’t broken into the home.”—Alecia Phonesavanh

Who pays the price for the police shootings that leave unarmed citizens dead or injured, for the SWAT team raids that leave doors splintered, homes trashed, pets murdered, and family members traumatized and injured, if not dead?

I’m not just talking about the price that must be paid in hard-earned dollars, whether by taxpayers or the victims, in attempting to restore what was vandalized and broken by police. It’s also the things that can’t be so easily calculated to a decimal point: the broken bones that will never quite heal right, the children’s nightmares at night, the uneasy sleep, the broken family heirlooms, the loss of faith in a system that was supposed to serve and protect you, the grief for loved ones whose lives were cut short.

Baby Bou Bou may have survived the misdirected SWAT team raid that left him with a hole in his face and extensive scars on his body, but he will be the one to pay the price for the rest of his life for the SWAT team’s blunder in launching a flashbang grenade into his crib. And even though the SWAT team was wrong about the person they were after, even though they failed to find any drugs in the home they’d raided, and even though they may have regretted the fact that Baby Bou Bou got hurt, it will still be the Phonesavanh family who will pay and pay and pay for the endless surgeries every year to reconstruct their son’s face as he grows from toddler to boy to teenager to man. Already, they have racked up more than $900,000 in medical bills. Incredibly, government officials refused to cover the family’s medical expenses.

That is just one family’s experience, the price they must pay for living in a police state. Tally their pain, their loss and their medical bills, and add it to that of the hundreds of other families in cities and towns across the nation who are similarly reeling from the blows inflicted by the government’s standing armies, and you will find yourself reeling. For many of these individuals, there can never be any amount of reparation sufficient to make up for the lives lost or shattered.

As for those who do get “paid back,” at least in monetary terms for their heartache and loss, it’s the taxpayers who are footing the bill to the tune of millions of dollars. Incredibly, these cases hardly impact the police department’s budget. As journalist Aviva Shen points out, “individual officers are rarely held accountable for their abuses, either by the police department or in court… Internally, police departments rarely investigate complaints of misconduct, let alone punish the accused officers. Because cities insulate police officers and departments from the financial consequences for their actions, police on the street have little incentive to avoid unnecessary force, and their departments may not feel the need to crack down on repeat offenders. And so the bill for taxpayers keeps growing.”

For example, Baltimore taxpayers have paid roughly $5.7 million since 2011 over lawsuits stemming from police abuses, with an additional $5.8 million going towards legal fees. That’s money that could have been spent on a state-of-the-art recreation center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds. As the Baltimore Sun reports: “Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson… Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement.”

New York taxpayers have shelled out almost $1,130 per year per police officer (there are 34,500 officers in the NYPD) to address charges of misconduct. That translates to $38 million every year just to clean up after these so-called public servants. Over a 10-year-period, Oakland, Calif., taxpayers were made to cough up more than $57 million (curiously enough, the same amount as the city’s deficit back in 2011) in order to settle accounts with alleged victims of police abuse.

Chicago taxpayers were asked to pay out nearly $33 million on one day alone to victims of police misconduct, with one person slated to receive $22.5 million, potentially the largest single amount settled on any one victim. The City has paid more than half a billion dollars to victims over the course of a decade. The Chicago City Council actually had to borrow $100 million just to pay off lawsuits arising over police misconduct in 2013. The city’s payout for 2014 should be in the same ballpark, especially with cases pending such as the one involving the man who was reportedly sodomized by a police officer’s gun in order to force him to “cooperate.”

Over 78% of the funds paid out by Denver taxpayers over the course of a decade arose as a result of alleged abuse or excessive use of force by the Denver police and sheriff departments. Meanwhile, taxpayers in Ferguson, Missouri, are being asked to pay $40 million in compensation—more than the city’s entire budget—for police officers treating them “‘as if they were war combatants,’ using tactics like beating, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and stun grenades, while the plaintiffs were peacefully protesting, sitting in a McDonalds, and in one case walking down the street to visit relatives.”

That’s just a small sampling of the most egregious payouts, but just about every community—large and small—feels the pinch when it comes to compensating victims who have been subjected to deadly or excessive force by police. The ones who rarely ever feel the pinch are the officers accused or convicted of wrongdoing, “even if they are disciplined or terminated by their department, criminally prosecuted, or even imprisoned.”

Indeed, a study published in the NYU Law Review reveals that 99.8% of the monies paid in settlements and judgments in police misconduct cases never come out of the officers’ own pockets, even when state laws require them to be held liable. Moreover, these officers rarely ever have to pay for their own legal defense. As law professor Joanna C. Schwartz notes, police officers are more likely to be struck by lightning than be made financially liable for their actions.

Schwartz references a case in which three Denver police officers chased and then beat a 16-year-old boy, stomping “on the boy’s back while using a fence for leverage, breaking his ribs and causing him to suffer kidney damage and a lacerated liver.” The cost to Denver taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $885,000. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

Kathryn Johnston, 92 years old, was shot and killed during a SWAT team raid that went awry. Attempting to cover their backs, the officers falsely claimed Johnston’s home was the site of a cocaine sale and went so far as to plant marijuana in the house to support their claim. The cost to Atlanta taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $4.9 million. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, a police officer was convicted of raping a woman in his police car, in addition to sexually assaulting four other women and girls, physically abusing two additional women, and kidnapping or falsely imprisoning five men and boys. The cost to the Albuquerque taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $1,000,000. The amount the officer contributed: 0.

In its report on police brutality and accountability in the United States, Human Rights Watch notes that taxpayers actually pay three times for officers who repeatedly commit abuses: “once to cover their salaries while they commit abuses; next to pay settlements or civil jury awards against officers; and a third time through payments into police ‘defense’ funds provided by the cities.”

A large part of the problem can be chalked up to influential police unions and laws providing for qualified immunity, which invariably allow officers to walk away without paying a dime for their wrongdoing. Conveniently, those deciding whether a police officer should be immune from having to personally pay for misbehavior on the job all belong to the same system, all cronies with a vested interest in protecting the police and their infamous code of silence: city and county attorneys, police commissioners, city councils and judges.

In a nutshell, the U.S. Supreme Court’s reasoning when it comes to qualified immunity for government officials (not just police officers) is essentially that these officials might be too cautious in carrying out their duties if there was a risk that they might be held personally liable for wrongdoing on the job. Frankly, we’d be far better off if government officials operated under the constant fear that there would be ramifications for wrongdoing on the job. As it now stands, we’ve got way too many lawbreakers, scoundrels, cheats and thugs on the government’s payroll, (many of whom are actually elected to office).

So what’s the solution, if any, to a system so clearly rigged that it allows rogue cops who engage in excessive force to wreak havoc with no fear of financial consequences? As HRW concludes:

The excessive use of force by police officers, including unjustified shootings, severe beatings, fatal chokings, and rough treatment, persists because overwhelming barriers to accountability make it possible for officers who commit human rights violations to escape due punishment and often to repeat their offenses…. Officers with long records of abuse, policies that are overly vague, training that is substandard, and screening that is inadequate all create opportunities for abuse. Perhaps most important, and consistently lacking, is a system of oversight in which supervisors hold their charges accountable for mistreatment and are themselves reviewed and evaluated, in part, by how they deal with subordinate officers who commit human rights violations. Those who claim that each high-profile case of abuse by a “rogue” officer is an aberration are missing the point: problem officers frequently persist because the accountability systems are so seriously flawed.

Unfortunately, we’re so far gone as a nation in terms of cronyism, corruption and unequal justice that there’s little hope of reformation working from the top down. As I point out in A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, if any change is to be made, if any hope for accountability is to be realized it must begin, as always, at the local level, with local police departments and governing bodies, where the average citizen can still, with sufficient reinforcements, make his voice heard.

So the next time you hear of a police shooting in your town of an unarmed citizen, don’t just shrug helplessly and turn the page or switch the channel. Form a coalition of concerned citizens and call your prosecutor’s office, email the police department, speak out at your city council meeting, urge your local paper to cover the story from both sides, blog about it, stage a protest, demand transparency and accountability—whatever you do, make sure you send the message loud and clear that you do not want your taxpayer dollars supporting illegal and abusive behavior.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead [send him mail] is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He is the author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and The Change Manifesto (Sourcebooks).

Distinguished Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is growing evidence of the contradiction between the need for collective, cooperative efforts to provide adequate responses to challenges common to all, and the aspirations of a number of countries for domination and the revival of archaic bloc thinking based on military drill discipline and the erroneous logic of “friend or foe.”

The US-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries,acts from a completely opposite position in the international arena, rejecting the democratic principle of the sovereign equality of states enshrined in the UN Charter and tires to decide for everyone what is good or bad.

Washington has openly declared its right to the unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests. Military interference has become common, even despite the dismal outcome of the use of power that the US has carried out in recent years.

The sustainability of the international system has been severely shaken by NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, intervention in Iraq, the attack against Libya and the failure of the operation in Afghanistan. Thanks only to intensive diplomatic efforts, an aggression against Syria was averted in 2013. There is the involuntary impression that the goal of various “colour revolutions” and other goals to change unsuitable regimes is to provoke chaos and instability.

Today, Ukraine has fallen victim to such an arrogant policy. The situation there has revealed the remaining deep-rooted systemic flaws of the existing architecture in the Euro-Atlantic area. The West has embarked upon a course towards “the vertical structuring of humanity” tailored to its own hardly inoffensive standards. After they declared victory in the Cold War and the “end of history,” the US and the EU opted for expanding the geopolitical area under their control without taking into account the balance of legitimate interests of all the people of Europe. Our Western partners did not heed our numerous alerts on the unacceptability of the violation of the principles of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, and time and again avoided serious cooperative work to establish a common space of equal and indivisible security and cooperation from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Russian proposal to draft a European security treaty was rejected. We were told directly that only the members of the North Atlantic Alliance could have the legally binding guarantees of security, and NATO expansion to the East continued in spite of the promises to the contrary given previously. NATO’s change toward hostile rhetoric and to the drawdown of its cooperation with Russia even to the detriment of the West’s own interests, and the additional build-up of the military infrastructure at Russian borders made the inability of the alliance to change its genetic code embedded during the Cold War era obvious.

The US and the EU supported the coup in Ukraine and reverted to outright justification of any act by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities that used suppression by force on the part of the Ukrainian people that had rejected the attempts to impose an anti-constitutional way of life to the entire country and wanted to defend its rights to a native language, culture and history. It was precisely the aggressive assault on these rights that compelled the population of Crimea to take destiny into its own hands and make a choice in favour of self-determination. This was an absolutely free choice no matter what has been invented by those who were, in the first place, responsible for the internal conflict in Ukraine.

The attempts to distort the truth and to hide the facts behind blanket accusations have been undertaken at all stages of the Ukrainian crisis. Nothing has been done to track down and prosecute those responsible for February’s bloody events at Maidan and the massive loss of human life in Odessa, Mariupol and other regions in Ukraine. The scale of appalling humanitarian disaster provoked by the acts of the Ukrainian army in southeastern Ukraine has been deliberately underscored. Recently, new horrible facts have been brought to light as mass graves were discovered in the outskirts of Donetsk. Despite UNSC Resolution 2166 a thorough and independent investigation of the circumstances into the loss of the Malaysian airliner over the territory of Ukraine has been protracted. The culprits of all these crimes must be identified and brought to justice. Otherwise it is unrealistic to expect a national reconciliation in Ukraine.

Russia is sincerely interested in the restoration of peace in our neighbouring country and this should be well understood by all who are even slightly acquainted with the history of the deep-rooted and fraternal ties between our two peoples. The way towards political settlement is well known: last April Kiev had already taken upon itself an obligation in the Geneva Declaration of Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU to immediately initiate an all-encompassing national dialogue with the participation of every region and political force in Ukraine with a view to carrying out constitutional reform.

The implementation of this obligation would allow all Ukrainians to agree on how to live in accordance with their traditions and culture and restore Ukraine’s organic role as a binding link between the various parts of the European space, which naturally implies the preservation and respect of its neutral and non-bloc status. We are convinced that in the presence of good will and denial of support for the “party of war” in Kiev, which is trying to push the Ukrainian people into the abyss of national catastrophe, the way out of crisis is within reach.

The way to overcoming the crisis has been opened with the achievement of the cease-fire agreement in southeastern Ukraine based on initiatives by Presidents Pyotr Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin. With the participation of the representatives of Kiev, Donetsk, Lugansk, the OSCE and Russia, practical measures are being agreed upon for the successive implementation of this understanding, including the separation of the parties to the conflict, the pulling back of the Ukrainian army’s heavy weapons and militia forces, and setting up monitoring through the OSCE. Russia is ready to continue to actively promote this political settlement under the framework of the tried and tested Minsk process, as well as in other formats. However, it should be clear that we are doing this for the sake of the peace and wellbeing of the Ukrainian people rather than to cater to someone else’s ambitions. The attempts to put pressure on Russia and to compel it to abandon its values, truth and justice have no prospects whatsoever.

Let me recall the not too distant past. As a condition for establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1933 the U.S. government demanded of Moscow the guarantees of non-interference in the domestic affairs of the US and obligations not to take any actions with a view to changing political or social order in America. At that time Washington feared a revolutionary virus and the above guarantees were put on record and were based on reciprocity. Perhaps, it makes sense to return to this item and reproduce that demand of the US government on a universal scale. Shouldn’t the General Assembly adopt a declaration on the unacceptability of interference into the domestic affairs of sovereign states and non-recognition of a coup as a method for changing power? The time has come to exclude from international interaction the attempts of illegitimate pressure of some states on others. The meaningless and counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions is obvious if we review the US blockade of Cuba.

The policy of ultimatums and philosophy of supremacy and domination do not meet the requirements of the 21st century and run counter to the objective process of development for a polycentric and democratic world order.

Russia is promoting a positive and unifying agenda. We always were and will be open to discussion of the most complex issues no matter how unsolvable they would seem in the beginning. We will be prepared to search for compromises and the balancing of interests and go as far as to exchange concessions provided only that the discussion is respectful and equal.

The Minsk understandings of 5 and 19 September on the ways out of the Ukrainian crisis and the compromise on the timeline of the entry into force of the Association Agreement between Kiev and the EU are good examples to follow, the same as the finally declared willingness of Brussels to begin negotiations on establishing an FTA between the European Union and the Customs Union of Russia, Belorussia and Kazakhstan as was proposed by Vladimir Putin back in January of this year.

Russia has consistently called for the harmonisation of integration projects in Europe and Eurasia. The agreement on political benchmarks and the timelines of such a “convergence of integrations” would become a real contribution to the work of the OSCE on the topic of the “Helsinki+40.” Another crucial area of this work would be to launch a pragmatic discussion free of ideology on the politico-military architecture in the Euro-Atlantic, so that not only NATO and CSTO members but all the countries of the region including Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia can enjoy equal and indivisible security and not have to make the false choice that you’re either for us or against us.

New dividing lines in Europe should not be allowed, even more so given that under globalisation these lines can turn into a watershed between the West and the rest of the world. It should be stated honestly that no one has a monopoly on truth and that no one can tailor global and regional processes to one’s own needs. There is no alternative today to the development of consensus regarding the rules of sustainable global governance under new historical circumstances – with full respect for cultural and civilizational diversity in the world and the multiplicity of the models of development. It will be a difficult and perhaps tiresome task to achieve such a consensus on every issue. Nevertheless the recognition of the fact that democracy in every state is the “worst form of government, except for all the others” also took time to break through, until Winston Churchill passed his verdict. The time has come to realise the inevitability of this axiom including in international affairs where today there is a huge deficit of democracy. Of course someone will have to break up centuries-old stereotypes and abandon the claims to eternal uniqueness. But there is no other way. Consolidated efforts can only be built on the principles of mutual respect and by taking into account the interests of each other as is the case, for example, under the framework of BRICS and the SCO, the G20 and the UN Security Council.

The theory of the advantages of cooperative action has been supported by practice: this includes progress in the settlement of the situation around the Iranian nuclear program and the successful conclusion of the chemical demilitarisation of Syria. Also, regarding the issue of chemical weapons, we would like to obtain authentic information on the condition of the chemical arsenals in Libya. We understand that our NATO colleagues, after bombing this country in violation of a UNSC Resolution, would not like to “stir up”” the mayhem they created. However, the problem of uncontrolled Libyan chemical arsenals is too serious to turn a blind eye to. The UN Secretary General has an obligation to show his responsibility on this issue as well.

What is important today is to see the global priorities and avoid making them hostages to a unilateral agenda. There is an urgent need to refrain from double standards in the approaches to conflict settlement. Everybody largely agrees that it is a key issue to resolutely counter the terrorists who are attempting to control increasingly larger territories in Iraq,Syria, Afghanistan and the Sahara-Sahel area. If this is the case then this task should not be sacrificed to ideological schemes or a desire to retaliate. Terrorists, no matter what their slogans, should remain outside the law.

Moreover, it goes without saying that the fight against terrorism should be based solidly on international law. The unanimous adoption of a number of UNSC Resolutions including those on the issue of foreign terrorist operatives became an important stage in this fight. And conversely, the attempts to act against the Charter of our Organisation do not contribute to the success of cooperative efforts. The struggle against terrorists in Syria should be structured in cooperation with the Syrian government, which has clearly stated its willingness to join it. Damascus has already proven its ability to work with the international community by delivering on its obligations under the programme to dispose of its chemical weapons.

From the very beginning of the “Arab spring” Russia urged the involved parties not to leave it to extremists and to establish a united front to counter the growing terrorist threat. We warned against a temptation to make allies with almost anybody who proclaimed himself an enemy of Bashar al-Assad: be it A1 Qaeda, Jabhat an Nusra or other “fellow travellers” seeking a change of regime, including ISIL, which today is in the focus of our attention. As the saying goes, it is better late than never. This is not the first time that Russia will make a real contribution to the fight against both ISIL and other terrorist factions in the region. We have sent large supplies of weapons and military equipment to the governments of Iraq, Syria and other MENA countries and will continue to support their efforts to suppress terrorists.

The terrorist threat requires a comprehensive approach if we want to eradicate its root causes rather than be condemned to react to the symptoms. ISIL is just a part of the problem. We propose to launch, under the auspices of the UN Security Council, an in-depth study on the extremist and terrorist threats in all their aspects across the MENA area. This integrated approach also implies that long standing conflicts should be examined, primarily the Israeli-Arab conflict. The absence of a settlement in the Palestinian issue over several decades remains a widely recognised factor in the instability of the region that helps the extremists to recruit more and more new Jihadists.

Another pressing area for cooperation is the joining of our efforts to implement the decisions of UNGA and the UNSC on the fight against the Ebola virus. Our doctors are already working in Africa. There are plans to send additional humanitarian assistance, equipment, medical instruments, medicines and teams of experts to assist the UN programs in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The United Nations, established on the ruins of World War II, enters its seventieth anniversary. It is an obligation for all of us to celebrate in an appropriate manner the jubilee of the Great Victory and pay tribute to the memory of all those who died for freedom and the right of all people to determine their own destiny.

The lessons of that terrible war and the course of events in today’s world demand that we join our efforts and forget about unilateral interests and national electoral cycles when it comes to countering the global threats to all humanity. We should not allow national egotism to prevail over our collective responsibility.

David Ferrie: The Mysterious Participant in the JFK Murder

October 15th, 2014 by Global Research News

Judyth Vary Baker, whose book, Me & Lee, documents her intimate relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald while they both lived and worked in New Orleans on a cancer research project, will make a public appearance in New Orleans to mark the birthday of her lover and explain why she believes Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone gunman who killed President John F. Kennedy. And to answer questions and speak about her new book on her friend Dave Ferrie: David Ferrie: Mafia Pilot, Participant in Anti-Castro Bioweapon Plot, Friend of Lee Harvey Oswald and Key to the JFK Assassination.

Of the all the people surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy, few are more mysterious and enigmatic than David William Ferrie of New Orleans. Author Judyth Vary Baker knew David Ferrie personally and worked with him in a covert project in New Orleans during the summer of 1963, and this book examines his strange and puzzling behavior both before and after the assassination.

At the time of the assassination, Ferrie was a 45-year-old New Orleans resident who was acquainted with some of the most notorious names linked to the assassination: Lee Oswald, Clay Shaw, Guy Banister, Jack Ruby, and Carlos Marcello. He possessed assorted talents and eccentricities: he was at one time a senior pilot with Eastern Airlines until he was fired for homosexual activity on the job; he was also a hypnotist; a serious researcher of the origins of cancer; an amateur psychologist; and a victim of a strange disease, alopecia, which made all of his body void of hair. His odd lifestyle was embellished with an equally bizarre appearance featuring a red toupee and false eyebrows.

This is the first book focused solely on David Ferrie and his alleged involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. Ms. Baker, a girlfriend and lover of Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans during the summer of 1963, has been living in exile in Europe for almost a decade after receiving death threats and surviving several accidents since going public with her story. Her book has been out for three years and has garnered a strong following in the JFK research community, according to Publisher Kris Millegan.

Lee Harvey Oswald is the central figure Ms. Baker’s tale about an enthralling Cold War spy saga. The story documents how a 23-year-old Oswald was involved in an underground medical laboratory overseen by local Doctor Mary Sherman and employing a 20-year-old Judy to create a bio-weapon that could infect and kill humans with cancer. The injection, which was tested on an Angola prisoner, was successfully developed and to be smuggled into Cuba for use on Dictator Fidel Castro. According to Ms. Baker, Oswald’s mission to get the bio-weapon to Cuba through Mexico City failed and he then headed to Dallas.

After studying her story and interviewing Judyth several times, Jim Marrs, veteran JFK researcher and author of Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy wrote: “Will anyone in the government finally tell the public the truth about the Kennedy assassination? It is highly unlikely. But can we ever really know the truth? I say yes, by study the wide array of information now available, thinking for ourselves, and listening to the impassioned unflinching voice of Judyth Vary Baker.”

Former Governor Jesse Ventura calls Baker’s book “stunning” and ranked it among his six favorite conspiracy reads, adding that, “her book shows beyond any doubt that (Oswald) was clearly a government agent.”

The number of new Ebola cases in Africa could grow as high as 10,000 per week, ten times higher than earlier estimates, according to projections the World Health Organization (WHO) reported Tuesday.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, who heads the WHO response to the crisis, said the public health organization now estimates the mortality rate in the countries affected by the outbreak—Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea—to be around 70 percent. Even though earlier statistics had shown a survival rate of around fifty percent, the UN-affiliated organization is now recording “at best 30 percent survival,” he said.

Aylward noted that the impact of the disease in the capitals of the three worst affected countries continue to increase. “Any sense that the great effort that’s been kicked off the last couple of months is already starting to see an impact, that would be really, really premature,” he warned.

Aylward called for the implementation of a so-called 70-70-60 plan, in which 70 percent of new cases would be isolated, and 70 percent of bodies would be safely buried, within 60 days.

According to the latest figures from the WHO there have been 8,914 cases of Ebola and 4,447 deaths from the disease. But those figures may underestimate the extent of the crisis, Aylward said, because many cases are not reported.

Aylward’s statements were followed by the announcement by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that it would devote additional resources to combat the spread of the disease. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a news conference Monday that the US is creating a rapid-response team to assist hospitals “within hours” of any reported infections.

Frieden admitted the inadequacy of the federal agency’s response to the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died in Texas on October 8. He said a critical-care nurse, Nina Pham, might not have been infected if a team had been sent to Dallas immediately after Duncan was diagnosed. “I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed,” Frieden said, “but we will do that from today onward with any case in the US.”

Frieden’s acknowledgement follows the statements Monday by WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, who called the ongoing epidemic “unquestionably the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times.”

Noting that, “Ebola emerged nearly 40 years ago,” she asked rhetorically, “Why are clinicians still empty-handed, with no vaccines and no cure?” Answering her own question, she said, “A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay.”

The refusal of the pharmaceutical giants to develop a vaccine has led to the deaths of thousands in the former colonial countries of West Africa. The danger that this deadly disease could spread to the United States and other developed countries has been increased by the systematic and ongoing cuts to scientific research and public health systems, which can only be characterized as criminally negligent.

Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told the Huffington Post that the US would likely have already developed a vaccine for Ebola if budget cuts had not devastated the country’s research capacities.

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,’” Collins said.

“Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

In addition to slowing down the development of an Ebola vaccine, Collins added that budget cuts have significantly impacted the development of therapeutic treatments, which he said, “were on a slower track than would’ve been ideal, or that would have happened if we had been on a stable research support trajectory.” He added, “We would have been a year or two ahead of where we are, which would have made all the difference.”

Collins added that, despite the Ebola crisis, no additional money had been allocated to the NIH. Collins said that the NIH was forced to “take dollars that would’ve gone to something else…and redirect them to this.”

He said that an Ebola vaccine is already under development, but that the best-case scenario would be for clinical trials to start in December, and it would not be known whether the drug was effective until February or March.

He likewise said that the Ebola treatment known as ZMapp would not be available in significant doses this year because of budget cuts. “Had it not been for other shortages, we might very well by now know that it works and have a large stock of it,” he added.

As a result of the so-called sequester budget cuts implemented last year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) had their budgets slashed by 5.1 and 2 percent respectively.

Between 2010 and 2014, the NIH’s budget has been cut by $446 million, while discretionary funding for the CDC was cut by $585 million during the same period, Scientific American reported this week. Funding for the CDC’s public health preparedness and response programs has been reduced by more than $1 billion since 2002. As a result of these cuts, over 45,700 jobs have been cut from state and local health departments since 2008.

Democratic Party supporters have been quick to blame Republicans for these cuts. However, Obama’s 2015 budget proposal also calls for significant cuts to health care spending, together with major cutbacks to other social services.

The ongoing Ebola crisis stands as a scathing indictment of the system of profit-driven medicine and the destruction of public health systems in the US and other countries in the name of slashing taxes for and boosting the profits of the major corporations and the wealthy.

The United Nations Security Council is preparing to renew its military occupation of Haiti by October 15, 2014. Most people across the Americas are probably unaware of the fact that the people of Haiti live today under an occupation. They are more likely to be aware of the recent passing of the infamous dictator and president-for-life than to know about the military force imposed on Haitian soil.

Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, erstwhile dictator of Haiti, died of a heart attack on October 4, 2014. He had been ousted by a popular movement in 1986, but retained wealth and cronies until his death. News emerged from the capital Port-au-Prince on October 10 that the Duvalierist regime in Haiti would not provide a state funeral to its favoured son – in deference to popular sentiment that still runs deep.

One week after Baby Doc’s last breath, the Campaign to End the Occupation of Haiti (based in Toronto) held an informational picket to highlight the abusive role MINUSTAH – the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti charged with ensuring a compliant and neoliberal Haiti – plays on the island.

MINUSTAH was charged with keeping order in Haiti, following the coup that removed democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004. The coup had its origin in a meeting just outside of Ottawa with officials from the United States, Canada and France plotting a post-Aristide Haiti.

The abuses this international force has directed against Haitians are legion: sexual assault of minors (which resulted in, among others, 111 Sri Lankan soldiers and three officers being returned to their country of origin), political repression directed against entire neighbourhoods, and extrajudicial murders. Children were shot at and others killed during violent MINUSTAH suppression of protests in 2005, where 41 armored carriers transported personnel into a pro-Aristide neighbourhood. During this operation, these UN troops used over 22,000 rounds of ammunition.

To add base insult to the injuries, a cholera outbreak – originating in October 2010 at a MINUSTAH base – has thus far killed 9,200 people and infected over 750,000. In other words, MINUSTAH personnel evidently saw fit to dump untreated, contaminated sewage into the Artibonite River,an important source of water for domestic and agricultural purposes for Haitians.

These infuriating truths are symptoms of an underlying power imbalance between Haiti and the rest of the world. MINUSTAH personnel are governed by extraterritoriality agreements, which make it difficult to prosecute foreign troops on Haitian soil. The sense of impunity these troops must feel – carrying a gun, absent any fear of legal consequence, psychologically molded in the global crucible of anti-Black racism – creates a culture of unrestrained disrespect among UN personnel.

Yet even this haphazard structure of terror serves a political and economic purpose. Wikileaks reports that a classified cable from US ambassador to Haiti, Janet Sanderson, stated on October 1, 2008 that “a premature departure of MINUSTAH would leave the [Haitian] government…vulnerable to…resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces – reversing gains of the last two years.” In spite of a part of MINUSTAH’s mandate being “to support the constitutional and political processes; to assist in organizing, monitoring, and carrying out free and fair municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections,” Fanmi Lavalas, the most popular political and electoral organization in Haiti, has been barred from all elections since the 2004 coup. Aristide once led the party.

Haiti under Aristide was no longer content to be the world’s sweatshop, providing cheap labour to whomever would bring it capital. Haitians wanted to chart a course away from the neoliberal capitalist economic and social policy framework that would have generated mass suffering. Aristide was responsive to the needs of Fanmi Lavalas and the people because they put him in power, and he was acquainted with their condition from his pastoral work as a priest.

One aim of the Aristide government, which Sanderson’s cable refers to by innuendo, was to seek repayment of the 90 million gold francs (now worth over $22 billion) paid out to France between 1825 and 1947, as compensation for the slaveholders’ loss of property in enslaved Afrikans and land resulting from the Haitian Revolution. Aristide’s claim for compensation infuriated France. His demand that France repay the extracted independence ransom is widely seen as a factor that country’s role in engineering the 2004 coup.

And so Aristide was removed, and so MINUSTAH moved in. The UN’s façade of political neutrality here is unmasked. Duvalier is dead, but his role has been recast in the current regime of President Martelly, with his Duvalierist ministers and administrative approach.

The era of the personalist dictator, in the mould of Duvalier, has morphed into an “elected” Martelly regime and the era of international “stabilization forces.”

These may be deployed, withdrawn, and replaced: foreigners and local elite far removed from Haiti’s social realities, without internal dissension about the role they are playing on the island. Cholera, sexual abuse, and gunfire from the occupation forces and its surrogate Haitian National Police – each plays its role as a weapon against Haiti’s economic resurgence and its population’s political self-assertion.

The heirs of those whom CLR James called the “Black Jacobins” have another battle to fight. The responsibility for ending the occupation of Haiti is not only theirs, but that of politically engaged people from each country of the world – Canada among them – represented in MINUSTAH.

Lorenzo Fiorito is a student and solidarity activist, writing in Toronto.

President Barack Obama met at Andrews Air Force Base Tuesday with defense chiefs from over 20 countries that make up what he has touted as an international coalition to battle the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in a new US war in the Middle East, launched without the approval of either the United Nations or the US Congress.

White House and Pentagon officials cautioned before the meeting that no new decisions or commitments were expected from those participating. “It’s about coming together to discuss the vision, the challenges, the way ahead,” said a spokesman for Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who presided over the gathering.

Similarly, Alistair Blakely, spokesman for the US National Security Council, described the gathering as “an opportunity to take stock of coalition progress to date and continue to align and fully integrate the unique capabilities of coalition partners.”

Obama himself offered a noncommittal comment to the media after emerging from the meeting at the US air base just outside Washington. “This is going to be a long-term campaign,” he said. “There will be periods of progress and there will be setbacks.”

The latter have been the most evident in the past several days as a fairly limited number of US air strikes have failed to stop the drive by ISIS fighters in Syria to take the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani on the Turkish border, and as their cohorts in Iraq have taken virtually all of the predominantly Sunni province of Anbar, while threatening the suburbs and airport of Baghdad.

Washington could not disguise the fact that the glorified photo opportunity at Andrews Air Force Base had been upstaged in the days preceding it by the open and acrimonious disagreements between the Obama administration and a key regional ally, Turkey.

Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, announced Sunday that Ankara had agreed to US requests to use southern Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, where approximately 5,000 US military personnel are stationed, to carry out air strikes against both Iraq and Syria.

Within less than 24 hours, Turkish officials flatly denied that any such deal had been reached. They added that even a proposal that Turkey participate in the arming and training of “moderate Syrian rebels” to be turned into ground troops against ISIS and, at some point, the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, had still to be finalized. In fact, Turkey, in collaboration with a CIA station set up near the Syrian border, has been giving the so-called rebels, including elements such as ISIS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front, aid and refuge inside Turkey since the launching of the armed insurgency in Syria some three years ago.

The Obama administration announced the deal that Ankara repudiated with the apparent motive of demonstrating international backing and momentum for its imperialist intervention in the region. Instead, it has had precisely the opposite effect.

Revealed are the contradictory and conflicting interests of the various elements making up Obama’s supposed coalition, including Turkey, the monarchical Sunni Arab despots of the Gulf States, France, Germany (which has refrained from any direct military action), a few lesser European powers and Washington’s closest allies, Canada and Australia.

Both Washington and Turkey backed the war for regime change in Syria, in which ISIS emerged as the strongest armed antigovernment group among a collection of largely Sunni Islamist militias. While the Obama administration is now using the campaign against ISIS as a means of reasserting US hegemony over the region, including through regime change in Damascus, it is at odds with Turkey over the tactics and timing of this campaign.

The Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that Washington agree to establishing a no-fly zone over Syria and a buffer zone inside Syrian territory as conditions for its participation in the US-led war. These proposals are aimed, in the first instance, at crushing the autonomous region carved out along the border by Syrian Kurds, who are allied with Turkey’s Kurdish nationalist movement, the PKK, and at quickly turning the US war into a direct drive to overthrow the Assad government.

Washington has insisted that it is pursuing an “Iraq first” strategy, centering its intervention on “degrading” and “destroying” the ISIS forces inside Iraq, and has carried out its limited operations in Syria with the approval of the Assad regime, even as it insists that the government in Damascus is not “legitimate.”

Erdogan drove home the depth of the disagreements on Monday, ordering Turkish warplanes to carry out air strikes, not against ISIS in Syria, but against the PKK, whose fighters, alongside Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish militias, have been the sole ground forces to effectively challenge the advance of ISIS in either country. In Iraq, they have operated in tacit coordination with US military “advisers,” despite being on a State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Turkey claimed that the air strikes in southeastern Turkey were in retaliation for PKK attacks on Turkish military bases, which was denied by the PKK itself. The attacks, the first in nearly two years of peace negotiations between the government and the PKK, follow a week of violent clashes across Turkey that left at least 35 people dead, as Turkish Kurds, who make up close to 20 percent of the population, took to the street to protest Ankara’s blockade of the besieged city of Kobani.

The Turkish press reported this week that Turkish forces have not only blocked Kurdish fighters, arms and ammunition from reaching Kobani, but have even refused entry to wounded Kurdish fighters from the city, leaving them to bleed to death on the border.

The latest air strikes threaten to upend the peace talks between Ankara and the PKK, reigniting a civil war that claimed some 40,000 lives over the course of three decades.

Erdogan also used a speech at Marmara University in Istanbul Monday to declare that the greatest threat facing Turkey was that “new Lawrence of Arabias” were destabilizing the region. The reference was to British officer T.E. Lawrence, who helped organize an Arab insurgency against the Ottoman Turkish Empire—then aligned with Germany in World War 1.

Hitting out at the PKK, journalists and political rivals, Erdogan made no mention of ISIS. Instead, he warned that these forces were “making Sykes-Picot agreements hiding behind freedom of press, a war of independence or jihad.”

The Sykes-Picot accord, concluded in 1916, carved up the former Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire—including both Iraq and Syria, as well as Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, into colonies of British and French imperialism. The deal laid the artificial boundaries for the imperialist-imposed division of the region into separate nation states, a system that is now in an advanced state of collapse under the combined weight of its own internal contradictions and the relentless pressure of successive predatory imperialist interventions.

“Each conflict in this region has been designed a century ago,” Erdogan said. “It is our duty to stop this.”

The carve-up that Erdogan fears most is the emergence of an independent Kurdistan, which is why his regime has sought to seal off Kobani and allow ISIS to pummel its Kurdish defenders. His reactionary answer appears to be the revival of Turkish hegemony over the region, beginning with the installation of a Sunni Islamist regime in Damascus.

Denouncing this strategy last week, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian charged that the Erdogan government was pursuing a policy of “neo-Ottomanism” in the Middle East and vowed that Tehran would not allow the Syrian government, its sole Arab ally, to be overthrown by outside powers. He also said that Iran was seeking to aid the Kurds in Kobani, a possible prelude to Iranian backing for a renewed Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey itself.

While the US-led war has registered no discernible advances against ISIS in either Iraq or Syria, it is already creating sharp tensions that can erupt into a conflict that could engulf the entire region and beyond.

US Army Drafts Blueprint for World War III

October 15th, 2014 by Bill Van Auken

With US politicians and the American media engaged in an increasingly acrimonious debate over the strategy guiding the latest US war in the Middle East, the United States Army has unveiled a new document entitled the Army Operating Concept (AOC), which provides a “vision of future armed conflict” that has the most ominous implications. It is the latest in a series of documents in which the Pentagon has elaborated the underlying strategy of preventive war that was unveiled in 1992—that is, the use of war as a means of destroying potential geopolitical and economic rivals before they acquire sufficient power to block American domination of the globe.

The document was formally released at this week’s Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference, an annual event bringing together senior officers and Defense Department officials for a series of speeches and panel discussions, along with a giant trade show mounted by arms manufacturers to show off their latest weapons systems and pursue lucrative Pentagon contracts.

Much of this year’s proceedings were dominated by dire warnings about the impact of cuts to the Army’s troop strength brought about by sequestration. Gen. Raymond Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, told reporters at the AUSA conference Monday that he was “starting to worry about our end strength” and regretting having told Congress in 2012 that the Army could manage with 490,000 active-duty soldiers.

In addition to the 490,000, there are 350,000 National Guard soldiers and 205,000 reservists, for a combined force—referred to by the Pentagon as the Total Army—of well over one million American troops. The answer to why such a gargantuan armed force would seem inadequate to Gen. Odierno can be found in the new Army Operating Concept (AOC), a reckless and dangerous document laying out a strategy of total war that encompasses the entire planet, including the United States itself.

The document makes clear that in regard to the ongoing debate over “boots on the ground,” for the top brass of the US Army there is no question: there will be boots and plenty of them.

At the outset, the AOC states its “vision” for the coming wars to be fought by the US Army. In language that recalls former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s invocation of the “unknown unknowns,” the document asserts:

“The environment the Army will operate in is unknown. The enemy is unknown, the location is unknown, and the coalitions involved are unknown.”

The only logical explanation for this paranoid scenario is that the US military views every country beyond its borders as a potential enemy. Starting from the premise that the environments, the enemies, the locations and the coalitions involved in future conflicts are unknown, the US Army requires a strategy for war against all states and peoples. This strategy is derived from the unstated, underlying imperative that US imperialism exert hegemony over the entire planet, its markets and resources, and that it be prepared to militarily annihilate any rival that stands in its way.

The document states bluntly that the “character of armed conflict” will be influenced primarily by “shifts in geopolitical landscape caused by competition for power and resources.” For the Army’s top brass, such wars for imperialist domination are a certainty.

The Army’s strategic aim, according to the document, is to achieve “overmatch,” which it defines as “the application of capabilities or use of tactics in a way that renders an adversary unable to respond effectively.”

What do these words entail? In the case of a confrontation with another nuclear power, they encompass the implementation of a first-strike doctrine of mass annihilation. In regard to the subjugation and domination of other areas of the globe, they call for massive ground operations to quell popular resistance and enforce military occupation.

Significantly, after more than a decade of the so-called “global war on terror, “ when countering a supposedly ubiquitous threat from Al Qaeda was the overriding mission of the US military-intelligence apparatus, “transnational terrorist organizations” are rather low on the Army’s list of priorities.

First and foremost are “competing powers,” a category that includes China, followed by Russia. In the case of China, the document evinces serious concern over Chinese “force modernization efforts,” which it says are aimed at achieving “stability along its periphery,” something that the US military is determined to block. China’s military efforts, it states, “highlight the need for Army forces positioned forward or regionally engaged,” and for “Army forces to project power from land into the air, maritime, space and cyberspace domains.”

Based on recent events in Ukraine, the document accuses Russia of being “determined to expand its territory and assert its power on the Eurasian landmass,” precisely US imperialism’s own strategic goal. Only a powerful deployment of US ground forces, it argues, can deter Russian “adventurism” and “project national power and exert influence in political conflicts.”

From there, the paper proceeds to “regional powers,” in the first instance, Iran. It also accuses Iran of “pursuing comprehensive military modernization” and argues that “Taken collectively, Iranian activity has the potential to undermine US regional goals,” i.e., undisputed hegemony over the Middle East and its energy resources. Iran’s activities, it concludes, “highlight the need for Army forces to remain effective against the fielded forces of nation states as well as networked guerrilla or insurgent organizations.”

The document does not limit the “vision” of future military operations to war abroad, but includes the need to “respond and mitigate crises in the homeland,” which it describes as “a unique theater of operations for the Joint Force and the Army.” The Army’s mission within the US, it asserts, includes “defense support of civil authorities.”

The AOC document is stark testimony to a military run amuck. Involved in these strategic conceptions are advanced preparations for fighting a Third World War, combined with the institution within the US itself of a military dictatorship in all but name.

Gen. Odierno’s complaints about troop strength will not be satisfied by any minor congressional adjustments of the Pentagon budget. The kind of warfare that the Army is contemplating cannot be waged outside of a massive military mobilization by means of universal conscription—the return of the draft.

The founders of the United States repeatedly expressed grave distrust of a standing army. The military as it presently exists and its plan for global warfare represent a hideous modern-day realization of their nightmare scenario. The implementation of this doctrine of total war is wholly incompatible with democratic rights and constitutional government within the US. It requires the ruthless suppression of any political opposition and all social struggles mounted by the American working class.

Within the US ruling establishment and its two political parties, there exists no serious opposition to carrying the militarization of life within the so-called “homeland” to its ultimate conclusion. Civilian control of the military has been turned into a dead letter, with politicians routinely bowing to the generals on matters of policy, both foreign and domestic.

The Ukraine, as we Know it, is Gone Forever

October 15th, 2014 by Mike Whitney

The Saker is an ex-military analyst who was born in Europe to a family of Russian refugees. He now lives in Florida where he writes theVineyard of the Saker blog and is a regular contributor to Russia Insider. The international community of Saker Blogs includes, besides the original Saker blog, French, German, Russian, Oceania and Serbian members and will soon include a Latin American member. – Mike Whitney

Mike Whitney: Is the United States responsible for the troubles in Ukraine?

The SAKER: Yes, absolutely, there’s no doubt about it. While it’s true that the Ukrainian people were unhappy with the corrupt Yanukovich regime, the coup itself was definitely CIA orchestrated. The EU was also involved, especially Germany, but they didn’t play nearly as big a role as the U.S. The taped phone messages of (US Undersecretary of State) Victoria Nuland show who was really calling the shots behind the scenes.

Mike Whitney: What role did the Obama administration play in Kiev’s decision to launch a war on its own people in the east of Ukraine?

The Saker: A central role. You have to understand that there is no “Ukrainian” power in Kiev. Poroshenko is 100% US-run as are the people around him. The head of the notorious Ukrainian secret police (the SBU), Valentin Nalivaichenko, is a known CIA agent. It’s also true that the US refers to Poroshenko “our Ukraine insider”. All of his so called “decisions” are actually made by U.S. officials in Kiev. As for Poroshenko’s speech to Congress a few weeks ago, that was obviously written by an American.

Mike Whitney: The separatists in the East have been very successful in repelling the Ukrainian army and their Neo Nazi counterparts in the security services. What role has Russia played in assisting the Novorussia militias?

The Saker: Russia’s role was critical. While Russian troops were not deployed across the border, Moscow did allow volunteers and weapons to flow in. And while the assistance was not provided directly by the FSB (Russia’s Federal Security Service) or the military, it was provided by various private groups. Clearly, the Kremlin has the power to help-out when it choses to do so. In one instance, there appears to have been direct artillery support from across the Russian border (in the so-called “southern cauldron”), but most of the aid has been covert. Besides the covert assistance, Russia has also provided intelligence, logistical and political support for the Novorussians. Without Russia’s support, the Novorussians never would have been able to turn the tide in the war.

Mike Whitney: Did Putin send Russian troops to Crimea and illegally seize the area or is that a fiction that’s been propagated in the western media?

The Saker: It’s actually a technicality. Yes, Putin did send Russian troops to Crimea, but no, they never exceeded the limits allowed under current agreements between Russia and the Ukraine. Remember that the Black Sea Fleet was already headquartered in Sevastopol, so there were plenty of troops available locally. Also, there was a large group of local volunteers who perform essential operations. Some of these volunteers were so convincing that they were mistaken for Russian Special Forces. But, yes, at the critical moment, Putin did send additional special forces to Crimea.

Was the operation legal? Well, technically it didn’t violate treaty agreements in terms of numbers, but did it violate Ukraine’s sovereignty. The reason Moscow did this was because there was solid evidence that Kiev was planning to move against Crimea. (possibly involving Turkey and Crimean Tatars) If Putin had not taken the initiative, the bloodbath in Crimea could have been worse than it’s been in Novorussia. Also, by the time Putin made the decision to protect Crimea, the democratically-elected President (Yanukovich) had already been removed from office, which created a legal vacuum in Kiev. So the question is: Should Putin have abided by the laws of a country that had been taken over by a gang of armed thugs or should he have tried to keep the peace by doing what he did?

What Putin chose to do was allow the people of Crimea to decide their own future by voting freely in a referendum. Yes, the AngloZionist propaganda says that they were forced to “vote at the barrel of a gun”, but that’s nonsense. Nobody disputes the fact that an overwhelming majority of Crimeans (95%) wanted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. All the “polite armed men in green” did was make it possible for the people to exercise their right of self-determination, something that the junta in Kiev never would have permitted.

Mike Whitney: What influence does Obama have on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decision-making? Is Washington actually running the show?

The Saker: Yes, totally. Obama gives the orders and Poroshenko obeys.

Just as they do everywhere, the US uses local oligarchs to colonize a country. Take for example Russia between 1991 and 1999. It was run by oligarchs behind a drunken figurehead. (Boris Yeltsin) Everyone knew that Russia had become a American colony and that the US could do whatever it wanted. It’s the same today.

Yanukovich was no more pro-Russian than any other Ukrainian President. He’s just an oligarch who’s been replaced by another oligarch, Poroshenko. The latter is a very intelligent man who knows that his survival depends on his complete obedience to Uncle Sam.

I wouldn’t put it past the US to dump Poroshenko and install someone else if it suits their purposes. (Especially if the Right Sector takes power in Kiev.) For now, Poroshenko is Washington’s man, but that could change in the blink of an eye.

Mike Whitney: How close is the Obama administration to achieving its goal of establishing NATO bases (and, perhaps, missile sites) in Ukraine? What danger does this pose for Moscow?

The Saker: The only place where NATO bases really make sense is in Crimea, and that option is no longer available. But there’s more to this issue than meets the eye, that is, if the US continues to pursue this provocative policy of establishing NATO bases on the Russian border, then Russia will withdraw from the INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty) and deploy advanced versions of the SS-20 (Soviet Nuclear Ballistic Missile) closer to Europe. The point is, US meddling could lead to a confrontation between nuclear-armed adversaries.

Mike Whitney: The European Commission has created a number of obstacles to prevent Russia from building the Southstream pipeline which will diversify export routes for natural gas from Russia to central and southern Europe. Critics have said that the Obama administration is behind the move, and that powerful US energy giants want to either block or control the flow of energy from Russia to Europe. Is this the broader context of the troubles in Ukraine, that is, are we really seeing an energy war unfold in real time?

The Saker: This is an important part of the equation, but not the central one. The central one is the mistaken belief (put forward by Zbigniew Brzezinski) that without the Ukraine Russia cannot be a superpower, and the equally mistaken belief (put forward by Hillary Clinton) that Putin wants to re-create the Soviet Union. For the AngloZionists, the Ukraine is a zero-sum game in which the US must either control the Ukraine or destroy it, but not allow Russia to have it. The problem with this theory is that Russia doesn’t really want or need the Ukraine. What Russia wants is a stable, dependable and neutral partner with which it can do business. Even now, while the Novorussians are demanding full independence, Russia has been pushing a different plan altogether. Moscow wants a unitary Ukraine in which each region would have de-facto autonomy but still be part of the same state.

Powerbrokers in the West are so maniacally obsessed with controlling the Ukraine, they can’t imagine that Russia doesn’t want the same thing. But Russia doesn’t want the Ukraine. It has no need for a broken, dysfunctional, failed state with massive social problems, that will require billions upon billions of dollars to rebuild.

Sure, there are cultural, historical, religious and even family ties between Russia and the Ukraine, but that does not mean they want to run the place. Russia already got what it wanted, Crimea. As for the rest, Moscow’s attitude is, “You broke it, you own it.”

Mike Whitney: What’s the endgame here? Will Poroshnko succeed in keeping Ukraine together and further isolate Russia from Europe or will Ukraine splinter along political lines? Or is there another scenario that you see as more likely?

The Saker: Crimea is gone forever. So is Novorussia. But in the case of the latter, there might be a transitional phase in which Kiev retains some degree of sovereignty over areas in the east.

In the near term, there could be more fighting, but eventually there will be a deal in which Novorussia will be given something close to independence. One thing is certain, that before reaching an agreement on final status, two issues will have to be settled:

1– There must be regime change in Kiev followed by de-Nazification.

Neither Russia nor Novorussia will ever be safe as long as the Nazis are in power in Kiev. That means that these russophobic, nationalist freaks will have to be removed before final status issues can be resolved. The Russians and the Novorussians are somewhat divided on this issue. While the Novorussians want their independence and say “To hell with the Nazis in Kiev”, the Kremlin wants regime change and sees it crucial for their national security. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out in the future.

2– There will have to be a conference of donors.

The Ukraine is basically dead, it’s been reduced to rubble. It will take years to rebuild, and immense sums of money. The US, EU and Russia will all have to contribute. If the AngloZionists persist in their maximalist position and continue to support the Nazi junta in Kiev, the Russians will not pay a single kopeck. Russian aid will go exclusively to Novorussia.

Sooner or later the US and EU will realize that they need Russia’s help. And when they finally figure that out, they’ll work together to reach a comprehensive political agreement. Right now, they’re more preoccupied with punishing Putin (through economic sanctions and political isolation) to prove that no one can defy the Empire. But that kind of bullying behavior won’t change the reality on the ground. The West needs Russia’s cooperation, but Russia isn’t going to cooperate without strings attached. The US will have to meet certain conditions before Moscow agrees to a deal.

UKRAINE: “Gone forever”

Though it’s too early to tell, I think the Ukraine as we know it, is gone forever. Crimea will remain part of Russia, while Novorussia will become independent and probably end up in some kind of association status with Russia. As for the rest of the Ukraine, there’s bound to be a confrontation between the various oligarchs and Nazis, after which the pragmatists will appear and lead the way to a settlement. Eventually, there will be some kind of accommodation and a new state will emerge, but I can’t imagine how long it will take for that to happen.

If you want a more systematic analysis of the points above, please see my analysis (here: http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-russian-response-to-double.html)

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

In a courageous and brilliant speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2014, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pierced the veil of obfuscation that characterizes too many speeches at the United Nations, and delivered a scathing denunciation of Western imperialism, imperialism that can only be accurately described as global theft.  Lavrov, on behalf of the Russian Federation implicitly warned that US/NATO is risking global war in embarking on its campaign to seize and dominate huge territories, while inexorably and ruthlessly determined to conquer and subjugate Russia, having learned nothing from the historic reality that Napolean’s effort to dominate Russia led to the collapse of Napoleonic France, and Hitler’s attempt to subjugate Russia led to the obliteration of his Third Reich. 

Perhaps this third attempt to conquer and subjugate Russia may lead not only to war encompassing huge territories of the globe, but, dialectically, may be the catalyst leading to the ultimate decline of capitalism, an economic system which thrives almost entirely on imperialism, and is undergoing a possibly terminal crisis, as described by the French economist, Thomas Piketty in his best-selling work “Capital in the 21 Century.”  In desperation, dysfunctional Western capitalism is lashing out recklessly and irrationally, unwilling and unable to preclude the disastrous consequences of its myopic policies.  And one possible consequence of current US/NATO policies is thermonuclear war.

Lavrov stated:  “The U.S.-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries, acts from directly opposite positions in the international arena, rejecting the democratic principle of sovereign equality of states enshrined in the UN Charter and trying to decide for everyone what is good or evil.”

“Washington has openly declared its right to unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests.  Military interference has become a norm – even despite the dismal outcome of all power operations that the U.S. has carried out over the recent years.”

“The sustainability of the international system has been severely shaken by NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, intervention in Iraq, attack against Libya and the failure of operation in Afghanistan.  Only due to intensive diplomatic efforts the aggression against Syria was prevented in 2013.  There is an involuntary impression that the goal of various ‘color revolutions’ and other projects to change unsuitable regimes is to provoke chaos and instability.”

“Today Ukraine has fallen victim to such an arrogant policy.  The situation there has revealed the remaining deep-rooted systemic flaws of the existing architecture in the Euro-Atlantic area.  The West has embarked upon the course towards ‘vertical structuring of humanity’ tailored to its own hardly inoffensive standards.  After they declared victory in the Cold War and the ‘end of history,’ the U.S. and EU have opted for expanding the geopolitical area under their control without taking into account the balance of legitimate interests of all peoples of Europe […] NATO enlargement to the East continued in spite of the promises to the contrary given earlier.  The instant switch of NATO to hostile rhetoric and to the drawdown of its cooperation with Russia even to the detriment of the West’s own interests, and additional build up of military infrastructure at the Russian borders – made obvious the inability of the alliance to change the genetic code it embedded during the Cold War era.”

“The U.S. and EU supported the coup d’etat in Ukraine and reverted to outright justification of any acts by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities that opted for suppression by force of the part of the Ukranian people that had rejected the attempts to impose the anti-constitutional way of life to the  entire country and wanted to defend its rights to the native language, culture and history.  It is precisely the aggressive assault on these rights that compelled the population of Crimea to take the destiny in its own hands and make a choice in favor of self-determination.  This was an absolutely free choice no matter what was invented by those who are responsible in the first place for the internal conflict in Ukraine.”

“The attempts to distort the truth and to hide the facts behind blanket accusations have been undertaken at all stages of the Ukranian crisis.  Nothing has been done to track down and prosecute those responsible for February bloody events at Maidan and massive loss of human lives in Odessa, Mariupol and other regions of Ukraine.  The scale of appalling humanitarian disaster provoked by the acts of the Ukrainian army in the South-Eastern Ukraine has been deliberately understated.  Recently, new horrible facts have been brought to light when mass graves were discovered in the suburbs of Donetsk.  Despite UNSG Resolution 2166 a thorough and independent investigation of the circumstances of the loss of Malaysian airliner over the territory of Ukraine has been protracted.  The culprits of all these crimes must be identified and brought to justice.  Otherwise the national reconciliation in Ukraine can hardly be expected.”

In total contempt for truth and international law, Kiev’s escalation of the Ukranian crisis is being relentlessly prepared, in an ultimate act of deceit, as Ukranian President Poroshenko assumes military regalia, threatening Russia’s survival, and, indeed the survival of his own bankrupt country, and is now speaking of all-out war with Russia.

Last month Washington pledged and delivered 53 million dollars of US taxpayer’s money to provide military aid to the Kiev regime, which is using the ceasefire arranged by Russian President Putin and the OSCE as an opportunity to acquire more sophisticated and deadly weapons and prepare for another barbarous onslaught against civilians in east and southeastern Ukraine, where the massacre of almost 4,000 citizens of East Ukraine and the desperate plight of more than one million refugees  followed the “secret” visit to Kiev, (under a false name) of CIA Director John Brennan last April.

But perhaps the most brazen announcement of US/NATO intent to inflict further carnage upon the citizens of East Ukraine , whose rejection of the Nazi infested and Western controlled regime in Kiev has resulted in Kiev’s campaign of extermination of its dissident Ukrainian citizens, is the return to Kiev this month of the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, Victoria Nuland.  Ms. Nuland was made world famous (or world infamous) by her February declaration “Fuck the EU” while, on behalf of her neocon sponsors in Washington, she engineered the destabilization and overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovich, plunging Ukraine into the civil war that holds the potential of engulfing the world in a conflagration which will be known as World War III.

In her October 7, 2014 speech to the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev, Ms. Nuland boasted:  “Ukraine this year has received $290 million in U.S. financial support plus a billion dollar loan guarantee.  And now you have what so many of you stood on the Maidan for, you have an association agreement with Europe and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.”  That “Association Agreement” holds Ukraine virtual hostage to NATO and the IMF, whose imposition of “austerity measures” will further degrade the living standards of the already impoverished Ukranians.  Ms. Nuland brings a Trojan Horse into Ukraine, unctuously flattering gullible Ukranian students, who will ultimately provide cannon fodder for the war which US/NATO is inciting.

Further on in his September 27 address to the UN General Assembly, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov states:

“Let me recall a history of not so far ago.  As a condition for establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1933 the U.S. government demanded of Moscow the guarantees of non-interference into domestic affairs of the U.S. and obligations not to take any actions with a view to changing political or social order in America.  At that time Washington feared a revolutionary virus and the above guarantees were put on record on the basis of reciprocity.  Perhaps, it makes sense to return to this topic and reproduce that demand of the U.S. government on a universal scale.  Shouldn’t the General Assembly adopt a declaration on the inadmissibility of interference into domestic affairs of sovereign states and non-recognition of coup d’etat as a method of the change of power?  The time has come to totally exclude from the international interaction the attempts of illegitimate pressure of some states on others.  The meaningless and counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions is obvious if we took an example of the U.S. blockade of Cuba.”

“The policy of ultimatums and philosophy of supremacy and domination do not meet the requirements of the 21 century and run counter to the objective process of development of a polycentric and democratic world order.”

In a historic move, the British Parliament voted overwhelmingly tonight, 274-12, to recognize a Palestinian state.

#MPs vote 274 to 12 to approve amended motion that Govt recognise #Palestine state alongside #Israel as part of negotiated 2 state solution

The sense of the speechmaking (rush transcript here) was almost entirely in favor of the motion, with members of the House of Commons saying they were reflecting the popular will in the wake of the Gaza slaughter and the failure of the peace process. Some said they were seeking to influence the United States, which has not been an honest broker. Here is the New York Times coverage, indicating it was a symbolic vote. Many speakers said that it was not symbolic, it was historic and long past due, from the country that gave Zionists the Balfour Declaration and that recognized a Jewish state in 1950.

We’ll get up more coverage of the debate later, but I wanted to pass along Sir Richard Ottaway’s speech. A strong supporter of Israel, the Conservative M.P., 69, who represents a London district, said that the country has made him “look like a fool” with its recent settlement announcement and that he is voting for the motion because of that landgrab. “I have to say to the Government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.”

 

Image: Richard Ottaway

Here’s his speech from today’s debate:

If the rest of the debate follows the tone of the three speeches that we have heard so far, it will be a memorable debate. The next few minutes will be personally rather painful for me. It was inevitable right since the time of the Holocaust that Israel clearly had to be a state in its own right, and Attlee accepted the inevitable and relinquished the British mandate. In November 1947, the United Nations supported the partition resolution. What was on the table then was a settlement that the Arabs would die for today. In May 1948, Israel became an independent state and came under attack from all sides within hours. In truth, it has been fighting for its existence ever since.

I was a friend of Israel long before I became a Tory. My wife’s family were instrumental in the creation of the Jewish state. Indeed, some of them were with Weizmann at the Paris conference. The Holocaust had a deep impact on me as a young man growing up in the aftermath of the second world war, particularly when I paid a visit as a schoolboy to Belsen…

In the six-day war, I became personally involved. There was a major attempt to destroy Israel, and I found myself as a midshipman in the Royal Navy based on board a minesweeper in Aden, sent by Harold Wilson to sweep the straits of Tiran of mines after the Suez Canal had been blocked. In the aftermath of that war, which, clearly, the Israelis won, the Arab states refused peace, recognition or negotiation.

Six years later, in the Yom Kippur war in 1973, the same situation happened again. It was an emphatic defeat after a surprise attack. Since then, based on the boundaries that were framed after the Yom Kippur war, we have had three thwarted peace agreements, each one better than the last, and we have had two tragedies: the assassination of Rabin and the stroke suffered by Ariel Sharon.

Throughout all this, I have stood by Israel through thick and thin, through the good years and the bad. I have sat down with Ministers and senior Israeli politicians and urged peaceful negotiations and a proportionate response to prevarication, and I thought that they were listening. But I realise now, in truth, looking back over the past 20 years, that Israel has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion. The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life, mainly because it makes me look a fool, and that is something that I resent.

Turning to the substantive motion, to be a friend of Israel is not to be an enemy of Palestine. I want them to find a way through, and I am delighted by yesterday’s reconstruction package for Gaza, but with a country that is fractured with internal rivalries, that shows such naked hostility to its neighbour, that attacks Israel by firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately, that risks the lives of its citizens through its strategic placing of weapons and that uses the little building material that it is allowed to bring in to build tunnels, rather than homes, I am not yet convinced that it is fit to be a state and should be recognised only when there is a peace agreement. Under normal circumstances, I would oppose the motion tonight; but such is my anger over Israel’s behaviour in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the Government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the European Union will lose some 40 billion euros this year as a result of Russia sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.

Lavrov presented the figure on Tuesday, citing it from Brussels itself, adding that the damage for the bloc is expected to widen to 50 billion euros in 2015.

The Russian top diplomat called for a lift of sanctions against Russia, which target state-owned companies and individuals over the Ukraine crisis.

Lavrov added that if Brussels cancels the bans, Russia will then lift its one-year food ban against the 28-member bloc.

According to Lavrov, Russia never intended to play the sanctions game, however the imposed bans against Russian companies and individuals forced Moscow to apply retaliatory measures.

Lavrov added that “decisions in Brussels, in particular, to impose sanctions against Russia, were made under strong American pressure.”

The EU and the US have imposed several rounds of economic sanctions against Russia over Moscow’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.

The West accuses Russia of sending troops into eastern Ukraine and arming anti-government forces in there.

Moscow has repeatedly rejected any involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, saying the pro-Russia protests in eastern regions of the country began spontaneously against the new interim government in Kiev following the ouster of former president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February.

Following negotiations in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on September 5, Kiev and the pro-Russians inked a Russian-proposed ceasefire pact aimed at putting an end to heavy clashes in Ukraine’s eastern regions.

Everything that the alternative media has been warning about concerning the Ebola epidemic is now coming true, including that this latest disease scare would eventually be used by the U.S. government to push more drugs and vaccines on the gullible public.

The director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently spilled the beans to members of the Canadian press about a major component of the government’s agenda with this crisis: to vaccinate everyone.

This was the implication, at least, of statements made by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who in the past has pushed vaccines for things like bird flu and swine flu. In keeping with this tradition of corruption, Dr. Fauci is now claiming that it may be impossible to stop the spread of Ebola unless everyone is vaccinated.

“It is conceivable that this epidemic will not turn around even if we pour resources into it,” stated Dr. Fauci, as quoted by Modern Healthcare.

“As the epidemic gets more and more formidable and in some cases out of control it is quite conceivable, if not likely, that we may need to deploy the vaccine to the entire country to be able to shut the epidemic down. That is clearly a possibility.”

Exactly which country Dr. Fauci is referring to here remains unclear. But presumably, any nation where an outbreak has been declared is susceptible to this Orwellian prospect, which could eventually include the U.S.

CDC, NIH, Obama and others keep changing their stories to keep Ebola circulating

Dr. Fauci’s assumptions about the pouring out of resources are a bit presumptuous, though, and exceptionally misguided, as practically everything that the U.S. and the international community have done so far in response to the outbreak has only helped facilitate the spread of Ebola around the world.

Air travel between West Africa and the U.S. is still taking place, for instance, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Tom Frieden insists that stopping it will make Ebola worse. The southern border of the country also remains wide open, allowing anyone with a potential infection to enter freely.

The Obama Administration is now openly lying to the world about how Ebola is spread, which will only worsen the crisis. And all of this is while the World Health Organization (WHO) quietly admits that Ebola can go airborne.

Nothing about the way that authorities anywhere in the world seem to be handling the crisis suggests that they actually want it to stop anytime soon. Instead, the stage is being set, it seems, for drug and vaccine interests to once again use a major international crisis – and one that may have been set off on purpose – to push more drugs and vaccines on the public.

Back in the summer, Truthstream Media reported on statements made by virologist Dr. Ben Neuman that suggest the Ebola crisis is being purposely hyped, just like swine flu, bird flu and seasonal flu, to scare people into enriching the pocketbooks of the world’s drug lords.

“It’s not just one drug we need for Ebola. We need a cocktail of drugs and perhaps a nice vaccine that could be used,” stated Dr. Neuman, in rapturous anticipation of what the powers that be have in store for the world.

Lamenting about what was not the case back then, but that is now coming to pass, he added:

“These all take a lot of money and… I don’t know that there’s enough panic or enough people who are potential customers for these drugs to warrant a company … putting the money it would take to develop this.”

Sources:

http://www.modernhealthcare.com

http://www.thedailysheeple.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.foxnews.com

http://www.washingtontimes.com

http://cnsnews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://truthstreammedia.com

Can Mainstream Media Handle the Contra-Cocaine Truth?

October 14th, 2014 by Robert Parry

The mainstream news media’s reaction to the new movie, “Kill the Messenger,” has been tepid, perhaps not surprising given that the MSM comes across as the film’s most unsympathetic villain as it crushes journalist Gary Webb for digging up the Contra-cocaine scandal in the mid-1990s after the major newspapers thought they had buried it in the 1980s.

Not that the movie is without other villains, including drug traffickers and “men in black” government agents. But the drug lords show some humanity and even honesty as they describe how they smuggled drugs and shared the proceeds with the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, President Ronald Reagan’s beloved “freedom fighters.”

By contrast, the news executives for the big newspapers, such as the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, come across as soulless careerists determined to maintain their cozy relations with the CIA’s press office and set on shielding their failure to take on this shocking scandal when it was playing out in the 1980s.

So, in the 1990s, they concentrated their fire on Webb for alleged imperfections in his investigative reporting rather than on U.S. government officials who condoned and protected the Contra drug trafficking as part of Reagan’s Cold War crusade.

Webb’s cowardly editors at the San Jose Mercury News also come across badly as frightened bureaucrats, cringing before the collective misjudgment of the MSM and crucifying their own journalist for the sin of challenging the media’s wrongheaded conventional wisdom.

That the MSM’s “group think” was upside-down should no longer be in doubt. In fact, the Contra-cocaine case was conclusively established as early as 1985 when Brian Barger and I wrote the first story on the scandal for the Associated Press. Our sourcing included some two dozen knowledgeable people including Contras, Contra supporters and U.S. government sources from the Drug Enforcement Administration and even Reagan’s National Security Council staff.

Actor Jeremy Renner portraying journalist Gary Webb in the movie, "Kill the Messenger."

Image: Actor Jeremy Renner portraying journalist Gary Webb in the movie, “Kill the Messenger.”

But the Reagan administration didn’t want to acknowledge this inconvenient truth, knowing it would sink the Contra war against Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government. So, after the AP story was published, President Reagan’s skillful propagandists mounted a counteroffensive that elicited help from editors and reporters at the New York Times, the Washington Post and other major news outlets.

Thus, in the 1980s, the MSM treated the Contra-cocaine scandal as a “conspiracy theory” when it actually was a very real conspiracy. The MSM’s smug and derisive attitude continued despite a courageous investigation headed by Sen. John Kerry which, in 1989, confirmed the AP reporting and took the story even further. For his efforts, Newsweek dubbed Kerry “a randy conspiracy buff.”

This dismissive treatment of the scandal even survived the narcotics trafficking trial of Panama’s Manuel Noriega in 1991 when the U.S. government called witnesses who implicated both Noriega and the Contras in the cocaine trade.

The Power of ‘Group Think’

What we were seeing was the emerging power of the MSM’s “group think,” driven by conformity and careerism and resistant to both facts and logic. Once all the “smart people” of Official Washington reached a conclusion – no matter how misguided – that judgment would be defended at nearly all costs, since none of these influential folks wanted to admit error.

That’s what Gary Webb ran into in 1996 when he revived the Contra-cocaine scandal by focusing on the devastation that one Contra drug pipeline caused by feeding into the production of crack cocaine. However, for the big newspapers to admit they had ducked such an important story – and indeed had aided in the government’s cover-up – would be devastating to their standing.

So, the obvious play was to nitpick Webb’s reporting and to destroy him personally, which is what the big newspapers did and what “Kill the Messenger” depicts. The question today is: how will the MSM react to this second revival of the Contra-cocaine scandal?

Of the movie reviews that I read, a few were respectful, including the one in the Los Angeles Times where Kenneth Turan wrote:

“The story Webb related in a series of articles … told a still-controversial tale that many people did not want to hear: that elements in the CIA made common cause with Central American drug dealers and that money that resulted from cocaine sales in the U.S. was used to arm the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua.

“Although the CIA itself confirmed, albeit years later, that this connection did in fact exist, journalists continue to argue about whether aspects of Webb’s stories overreached.”

A normal person might wonder why – if the CIA itself admitted (as it did) that it was collaborating with drug dealers – journalists would still be debating whether Webb may have “overreached” (although in reality he actually understated the problem). Talk about missing “the lede” or the forest for the trees.

What kind of “journalist” obsesses over dissecting the work of another journalist while the U.S. government gets away with aiding and abetting drug traffickers?

Turan went on to note the same strange pattern in 1996 after Webb’s series appeared:

“what no one counted on was that the journalistic establishment — including elite newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times — would attempt to discredit Webb’s reporting. The other newspapers questioned the shakier parts of his story and proving the truth of what one of Webb’s sources tells him: ‘You get the most flak when you’re right above the target.’”

Sneering Still

However, other reviews, including those in the New York Times and the Washington Post, continued the snarky tone that pervaded the sneering treatment of Webb that hounded him out of journalism in 1997 and ultimately drove him to suicide in 2004. For instance, the headline in the Post’s weekend section was “Sticking with Webb’s Story,” as in the phrase “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

The review by Michael O’Sullivan stated:

“Inspired by the true story of Gary Webb — the San Jose Mercury News reporter known for a controversial series of articles suggesting a link between the CIA, the California crack epidemic and the Nicaraguan Contras — this slightly overheated drama begins and ends with innuendo. In between is a generous schmear of insinuation.”

You get the point. The allegations, which have now been so well-established that even the CIA admits to them, are “controversial” and amount to “innuendo” and “insinuation.”

Similarly, the New York Times review by Manohla Dargis disparaged Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series as “much-contested,” which may be technically accurate but fails to recognize that the core allegations of Contra-cocaine trafficking and U.S. government complicity were true – something an earlier article by Times’ media writer David Carr at least had the decency to acknowledge. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT’s Belated Admission on Contra-Cocaine.”]

In a different world, the major newspapers would have taken the opening created by “Kill the Messenger” to make amends for their egregious behavior in the 1980s – in discrediting the scandal when the criminality could have been stopped – and for their outrageous actions in the 1990s in destroying the life and career of Gary Webb. But it appears the big papers mostly plan to hunker down and pretend they did nothing wrong.

For those interested in the hard evidence proving the reality of the Contra-cocaine scandal, I posted a Special Report on Friday detailing much of what we know and how we know it. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Sordid Contra-Cocaine Saga.”]

As for “Kill the Messenger,” I had the pleasure of watching it on Friday night with my old Associated Press colleague Brian Barger – and we both were impressed by how effectively the movie-makers explained a fairly complicated tale about drugs and politics. The personal story was told with integrity, aided immensely by Jeremy Renner’s convincing portrayal of Webb.

There were, of course, some Hollywood fictional flourishes for dramatic purposes. And it was a little weird hearing my cautionary advice to Webb – delivered when we talked before his “Dark Alliance” series was published in 1996 – being put into the mouth of a fictional Kerry staffer.

But those are minor points. What was truly remarkable about this movie was that it was made at all. Over the past three decades, many directors and screenwriters have contemplated telling the sordid story of Contra-cocaine trafficking but all have failed to get the projects “green-lighted.”

The conventional wisdom in Hollywood has been that such a movie would be torn apart by the major media just as Webb’s series (and before that the AP articles and Kerry’s report) were. But so far the MSM has largely held its fire against “Kill the Messenger,” relying on a few snide asides and knowing smirks.

Perhaps the MSM simply assumes that the old conventional wisdom will hold and that the movie will soon be forgotten. Or maybe there’s been a paradigm shift – and the MSM realizes that its credibility is shot (especially after its catastrophic performance regarding Iraq’s WMD) and it is losing its power to dictate false narratives to the American people.

[To learn how you can hear a December 1996 joint appearance at which Robert Parry and Gary Webb discuss their reporting, click here.]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon andbarnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Have Bill Gates and his eugenicist foundation’s crimes against humanity finally caught up with him? If the Supreme Court of India has anything to say about it, he will face the ramifications of poisoning millions of Indian children with vaccines.

A recent report published by Health Impact News shows that a vaccine empire built on lies can only go on for so long. The reports states:

“While fraud and corruption are revealed on almost a daily basis now in the vaccine industry, the U.S. mainstream media continues to largely ignore such storiesOutside the U.S., however, the vaccine empires are beginning to crumble, and English versions of the news in mainstream media outlets are available via the Internet.

One such country is India, where the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and their vaccine empire are under fire, including a pending lawsuit currently being investigated by the India Supreme Court.”

If you aren’t aware of the key players in the vaccine mayhem being driven into African countries, they are:

  • The World Health Organization
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, funded by the Gates’ foundation), and
  • GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, also funded by the Gates’ foundation)

All four of these organizations will now be expected to explain themselves due to a writ of petition originally submitted to the Supreme Court of India in 2012, by Kalpana Mehta, Nalini Bhanot, and Dr. Rukmini Rao, which has finally been heard by the courts.

The petitioners stated:

“BMGF, PATH and WHO were criminally negligent trialling the vaccines on a vulnerable, uneducated and under-informed population school administrators, students and their parents who were not provided informed consent or advised of potential adverse effects or required to be monitored post-vaccination.”

Furthermore, though absent from most mainstream U.S. media outlets, the Economic Times of India published their report in August 2014, stating that young tribal girls were tested with HPV vaccines. This involved not a handful of children, but 16,000 individuals in Andhra Pradesh, India, where they were given the Gardasil vaccine.

KP Narayana Kumar reported that within a month of receiving the vaccine, many of the children fell ill, and by 2010, five of them had died. Another two children were reported to have died in Vadodara, Gujarat, where another 14,000 tribal children were vaccinated with another brand of the HPV vaccine, Cervarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmitheKline (GSK), who incidentally, has been accused of dumping polio virus into a Belgium river.

Consent forms to administer the HPV vaccine were ‘illegally’ signed by wardens form youth hostels, showing that the Gates’ prey on the indigent without parents. For those who had parents, most were illiterate, and the true potential dangers of the vaccines were not explained to them.

SAMA, an organization in India which promotes women’s health discovered this insidiousness, and reported it, but only now will Gates and his cronies have to answer for their misdeeds. Approximately 120 girls reported epileptic seizures, severe stomach cramps, headaches, and mood swings, of those who did not die. Other girls receiving the Gardasil vaccine have experienced infertility.

The Economic Times further reported:

“The SAMA report also said there had been cases of early onset of menstruation following the vaccination, heavy bleeding and severe menstrual cramps among many students. The standing committee pulled up the relevant state governments for the shoddy investigation into these deaths.

It said it was disturbed to find that ‘all the seven deaths were summarily dismissed as unrelated to vaccinations without in-depth investigations …’ the speculative causes were suicides, accidental drowning in well (why not suicide?), malaria, viral infections, subarachnoid hemorrhage (without autopsy) etc.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation declared their little vaccine project a total success. I guess the Supreme Court of India will decide that now.

Healthcare experts throughout the U.S. are strongly criticizing the Centers for Disease Control for its handling of Ebola.

For example:

  • Infectious disease experts say the CDC is blaming nurses for their exposure to Ebola when the CDC has given faulty instructions on how to handle Ebola patients
  • Public health experts also criticize the CDC’s statement that any hospital in the U.S. can handle Ebola patients
  • And nurses are calling the CDC hypocrites for saying that cloth masks and goggles are sufficient … while CDC personnel wear respirators and full hazardous materials suits when visiting hospitals with Ebola patients

The annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings concluded in Washington over the weekend in the midst of a deepening economic and financial crisis, with no prospect of a recovery in the world economy.

The euro zone seems set to enter its third recession since the global financial crisis erupted in 2008, and there are fears that the policies being pursued by the world’s major central banks are creating the conditions for another crash.

The IMF and World Bank meetings were held following the release of data showing that Germany could be moving into a recession. Industrial production dropped 4 percent from July, the biggest decline since January 2009. New orders for September fell at their fastest pace since 2009, according to a survey of purchasing managers.

Output of investment goods slumped 8.8 percent in August, intermediate goods were down 1.9 percent, consumer goods fell 0.4 percent, and construction dropped by 2 percent. Only energy output increased, by 0.3 percent.

The IMF cut its forecast for German growth for 2014 from 1.9 to 1.4 percent and downgraded its 2015 prediction from 1.7 to 1.5 percent. Even these predictions are likely to be too optimistic, since Germany’s economy shrank in the second quarter of this year. Germany, which depends highly on exports, is being hit by stagnation across Europe, its largest single market, as well as recession in Brazil, another key market, and the marked slowdown in Chinese growth.

The world slump, growing uncertainties over the direction of central bank policies and increasing geo-political tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East are all combining to create volatile conditions in financial markets.

Trading on Wall Street opened this week with the S&P 500 Index experiencing its worst three-day loss since 2011, led by falls in airline shares as a result of the Ebola crisis and declines in energy stocks as the price of oil hit its lowest point in four years. Monday’s losses came after a week in which $1.5 trillion was wiped off the value of global equities.

Fears of another financial crisis prompted US and British financial officials to organise a war game yesterday in which they sought to ascertain whether lessons had been learned from the 2008 crisis. Reporting on the war game on Sunday, Larry Elliott, the Guardian economics correspondent, summed up the atmosphere at the IMF meeting.

“The Fund’s annual meeting was like a gathering of international diplomats at the League of Nations in the 1930s. Those attending were desperate to avoid another war but were unsure how to do so. They see dark forces gathering but lack the weapons or the will to tackle them effectively.”

Elliott pointed out that the IMF and central bankers are well aware that pumping money into the financial system has not boosted the real economy through expanded investment and increased production, but led only to increased financial risk-taking. At the same time, they fear that lifting interest rates to halt speculation will push their economies into recession, and so they “cross their fingers and hope for the best.” The IMF, he continued, knows something is going “badly wrong in Europe, but was powerless to do anything about it.”

Clear evidence of the gathering slump is provided by the sharp declines in commodity prices. Oil prices are reported to be in “free fall,” with benchmark Brent Crude down 24 percent since the middle of the year. The International Energy Agency says oil prices have been “weighed down by abundant supplies” and weakening demand.

The price of iron ore, a key indicator of investment because of steel’s role in construction, has dropped by 41 percent this year to its lowest level for five years. The Bloomberg industrial metals index is down 37 percent from its highest point after the financial crisis and 50 percent below the levels reached in 2007.

The price of gold is 38 percent off the high it reached in 2011. Agricultural product prices, another key indicator, are also sharply down. Corn prices are 22 percent lower than they were in June, wheat is down by 16 percent over the same period, and soybean prices have fallen 28 percent to their lowest level in four years.

The growing slump is compounded by uncertainty and confusion in financial markets. Last week, the US Federal Reserve Board released the minutes from the September meeting of its policy-making committee, revealing that “some participants expressed concern that the persistent shortfall of economic growth and inflation in the euro area could lead to a further appreciation of the dollar and have adverse effects on the US external sector.” The Fed’s vice-president, Stanley Fisher, has said that the central bank will monitor the impact of the dollar’s strength on the level of global demand for US goods and services.

The minutes raised questions over how far and how fast the Fed will seek to raise interest rates to more normal levels. The risk of turbulence results from the fact that while the Fed is ostensibly on an ill-defined path back to higher rates, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan are pushing rates down. This creates the conditions for so-called carry trades, where investors borrow at lower rates in international markets and then invest in US assets, pushing up the value of the dollar and impacting US exports.

The uncertainty over the direction of Fed policy has contributed to a sharp rise in the VIX volatility index, which tracks movements on US share markets. It has increased by 21 percent over the past week, following months of what was described as an “eerie calm.”

The problems in financial markets are exacerbated by differences in the policies of the major economic powers, which emerged into the open at a seminar organised during the IMF meeting.

Centering his fire on Germany, former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who last year warned of the prospect of “secular stagnation” for the world economy, criticised Europe’s “dismal” economic performance, comparing it to the two-decades-long stagnation in Japan and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble struck back, dismissing the suggestion that the crisis was the outcome of European policy failings. “America was the cause of the crisis, to be frank,” he said.

The US, as well as the IMF, wants the ECB to extend its asset-buying program to the purchase of government bonds in order to increase financial stimulus. But ECB President Mario Draghi has said the ECB is close to the limit of what it can do. In 2012, Draghi managed to avert a financial crisis originating in Spain, Greece, Portugal and other highly indebted euro zone countries by declaring that the ECB would do “whatever it takes.”

As six years of central bank interventions have demonstrated, however, injections of money cannot bring about increased investment and production in the real economy, which is where the crisis is now centered. The only beneficiaries are the banks, finance houses and ultra-wealthy speculators.

Moreover, there are deep divisions in the ECB itself. German representatives have already voted against the present round of asset purchases and are certain to stridently oppose any central bank move to buy up government bonds and extend quantitative easing.

The IMF discussions presented a picture of a ruling class in disarray. Divided over what to do and unable to advance a program to promote anything remotely resembling an economic recovery, the ruling elites are acutely aware they are sitting on a powder keg. They are united only by their fear that the worsening social conditions and deepening inequality produced by the breakdown of the economic order over which they preside will provoke an explosion of social struggles from below.

With US politicians and the American media engaged in an increasingly acrimonious debate over the strategy guiding the latest US war in the Middle East, the United States Army has unveiled a new document entitled the Army Operating Concept (AOC), which provides a “vision of future armed conflict” that has the most ominous implications. It is the latest in a series of documents in which the Pentagon has elaborated the underlying strategy ofpreventive war that was unveiled in 1992—that is, the use of war as a means of destroying potential geopolitical and economic rivals before they acquire sufficient power to block American domination of the globe.

The document was formally released at this week’s Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference, an annual event bringing together senior officers and Defense Department officials for a series of speeches and panel discussions, along with a giant trade show mounted by arms manufacturers to show off their latest weapons systems and pursue lucrative Pentagon contracts.

Much of this year’s proceedings were dominated by dire warnings about the impact of cuts to the Army’s troop strength brought about by sequestration. Gen. Raymond Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, told reporters at the AUSA conference Monday that he was “starting to worry about our end strength” and regretting having told Congress in 2012 that the Army could manage with 490,000 active-duty soldiers.

In addition to the 490,000, there are 350,000 National Guard soldiers and 205,000 reservists, for a combined force—referred to by the Pentagon as the Total Army—of well over one million American troops. The answer to why such a gargantuan armed force would seem inadequate to Gen. Odierno can be found in the new Army Operating Concept (AOC), a reckless and dangerous document laying out a strategy of total war that encompasses the entire planet, including the United States itself.

The document makes clear that in regard to the ongoing debate over “boots on the ground,” for the top brass of the US Army there is no question: there will be boots and plenty of them.

At the outset, the AOC states its “vision” for the coming wars to be fought by the US Army. In language that recalls former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s invocation of the “unknown unknowns,” the document asserts: “The environment the Army will operate in is unknown. The enemy is unknown, the location is unknown, and the coalitions involved are unknown.”

The only logical explanation for this paranoid scenario is that the US military views every country beyond its borders as a potential enemy. Starting from the premise that the environments, the enemies, the locations and the coalitions involved in future conflicts are unknown, the US Army requires a strategy for war against all states and peoples. This strategy is derived from the unstated, underlying imperative that US imperialism exert hegemony over the entire planet, its markets and resources, and that it be prepared to militarily annihilate any rival that stands in its way.

The document states bluntly that the “character of armed conflict” will be influenced primarily by “shifts in geopolitical landscape caused by competition for power and resources.” For the Army’s top brass, such wars for imperialist domination are a certainty.

The Army’s strategic aim, according to the document, is to achieve “overmatch,” which it defines as “the application of capabilities or use of tactics in a way that renders an adversary unable to respond effectively.”

What do these words entail? In the case of a confrontation with another nuclear power, they encompass the implementation of a first-strike doctrine of mass annihilation. In regard to the subjugation and domination of other areas of the globe, they call for massive ground operations to quell popular resistance and enforce military occupation.

Significantly, after more than a decade of the so-called “global war on terror, “ when countering a supposedly ubiquitous threat from Al Qaeda was the overriding mission of the US military-intelligence apparatus, “transnational terrorist organizations” are rather low on the Army’s list of priorities.

First and foremost are “competing powers,” a category that includes China, followed by Russia. In the case of China, the document evinces serious concern over Chinese “force modernization efforts,” which it says are aimed at achieving “stability along its periphery,” something that the US military is determined to block. China’s military efforts, it states, “highlight the need for Army forces positioned forward or regionally engaged,” and for “Army forces to project power from land into the air, maritime, space and cyberspace domains.”

Based on recent events in Ukraine, the document accuses Russia of being “determined to expand its territory and assert its power on the Eurasian landmass,” precisely US imperialism’s own strategic goal. Only a powerful deployment of US ground forces, it argues, can deter Russian “adventurism” and “project national power and exert influence in political conflicts.”

From there, the paper proceeds to “regional powers,” in the first instance, Iran. It also accuses Iran of “pursuing comprehensive military modernization” and argues that “Taken collectively, Iranian activity has the potential to undermine US regional goals,” i.e., undisputed hegemony over the Middle East and its energy resources. Iran’s activities, it concludes, “highlight the need for Army forces to remain effective against the fielded forces of nation states as well as networked guerrilla or insurgent organizations.”

The document does not limit the “vision” of future military operations to war abroad, but includes the need to “respond and mitigate crises in the homeland,” which it describes as “a unique theater of operations for the Joint Force and the Army.” The Army’s mission within the US, it asserts, includes “defense support of civil authorities.”

The AOC document is stark testimony to a military run amuck. Involved in these strategic conceptions are advanced preparations for fighting a Third World War, combined with the institution within the US itself of a military dictatorship in all but name.

Gen. Odierno’s complaints about troop strength will not be satisfied by any minor congressional adjustments of the Pentagon budget. The kind of warfare that the Army is contemplating cannot be waged outside of a massive military mobilization by means of universal conscription—the return of the draft.

The founders of the United States repeatedly expressed grave distrust of a standing army. The military as it presently exists and its plan for global warfare represent a hideous modern-day realization of their nightmare scenario. The implementation of this doctrine of total war is wholly incompatible with democratic rights and constitutional government within the US. It requires the ruthless suppression of any political opposition and all social struggles mounted by the American working class.

Within the US ruling establishment and its two political parties, there exists no serious opposition to carrying the militarization of life within the so-called “homeland” to its ultimate conclusion. Civilian control of the military has been turned into a dead letter, with politicians routinely bowing to the generals on matters of policy, both foreign and domestic.

Most people that discuss the “economic collapse” focus on what is coming in the future.  And without a doubt, we are on the verge of some incredibly hard times.  But what often gets neglected is the immense permanent damage that has been done to the U.S. economy by the long-term economic collapse that we are already experiencing.  In this article I am going to share with you 12 economic charts that show that we are in much, much worse shape than we were five or ten years ago.  The long-term problems that are eating away at the foundations of our economy like cancer have not been fixed.  In fact, many of them continue to get even worse year after year.  But because unprecedented levels of government debt and reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve have bought us a very short window of relative stability, most Americans don’t seem too concerned about our long-term problems.  They seem to have faith that our “leaders” will be able to find a way to muddle through whatever challenges are ahead.  Hopefully this article will be a wake up call.  The last major wave of the economic collapse did a colossal amount of damage to our economic foundations, and now the next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.

#1 Employment

The mainstream media is constantly telling us about the “employment recovery” that is happening in the United States, but the truth is that it is just an illusion.  As the chart below demonstrates, just prior to the last recession about 63 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  During the last wave of the economic collapse, that number dropped to below 59 percent and stayed there for a very long time.  In the past few months we have finally seen the employment-population ratio tick back up to 59 percent, but we are still far, far below where we used to be.  To call the tiny little bump at the end of this chart a “recovery” is really an insult to our intelligence…

Employment Population Ratio 2014

#2 The Labor Force Participation Rate

The percentage of Americans that are either employed or currently looking for a job started to fall during the last recession and it has not stopped falling since then.  The labor force participation rate has now fallen to a 36 year low, and this is a sign of a very, very sick economy…

Labor Force Participation Rate 2014

#3 The Inactivity Rate For Men In Their Prime Years

Some blame the decline in the labor force participation rate on the aging of our population.  But it isn’t just elderly people that are dropping out of the labor force.  In fact, the inactivity rate for men in their prime working years (25 to 54) continues to rise and is now at the highest level that has ever been recorded…

Inactivity Rate Men 2014

#4 Manufacturing Employees

Once upon a time in America, anyone that was reliable and willing to work hard could easily find a manufacturing job somewhere.  But we have stood by and allowed millions upon millions of good paying manufacturing jobs to be shipped out of the country, and now many of our formerly great manufacturing cities have been transformed into ghost towns.  Over the past few years, there has been a slight “recovery”, but we are still well below where we were at just previous to the last recession…

Manufacturing Employees 2014

#5 Our Current Account Balance

As a nation, we buy far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  In other words, we perpetually consume far more wealth than we produce.  This is a recipe for national economic suicide.  Our current account balance soared to obscene levels just prior to the last recession, and now we have almost gotten back to those levels…

Current Account Balance 2014

#6 Existing Home Sales

Our economy has never fully recovered from the housing crash of 2007-2008.  As you can see from the chart below, the number of existing home sales is still far below the level that we hit back in 2006.  At this point we are just getting back to the level we were at in 2000, but our population today is far larger than it was back then…

Existing Home Sales 2014

#7 New Home Sales

Things are even more dramatic when you look at new home sales.  This is an industry that have been absolutely emasculated.  The number of new home sales in the United States is just a little more than half of what it was back in 2000, and it isn’t even worth comparing to what we experienced during the peak of 2006.

New Home Sales 2014

#8 The Monetary Base

In a desperate attempt to get the economy going again, the Federal Reserve has been wildly printing money.  It has been so reckless that it is hard to put it into words.  When I look at this chart, the phrase “Weimar Republic” comes to mind…

Monetary Base 2014

#9 Food Inflation

Thankfully, much of the money that the Federal Reserve has been injecting into the system has not made it into the real economy.  But enough of it has gotten into the system to force food prices significantly higher.  For example, my wife went to the store today and paid just a shade under 10 bucks for just four pieces of chicken.  And as you can see from the chart below, food prices have been steadily going up in America for a very long time…

Food Inflation 2014

#10 The Velocity Of Money

One of the reasons why we have not seen even more inflation is because the velocity of money is extraordinarily low.  In general, when an economy is healthy money tends to flow through the system rapidly.  People are buying and selling and money changes hands frequently.  But when an economy is sick, money tends to stagnate.  And that is exactly what is happening in the United States right now.  In fact, at this point the velocity of the M2 money stock has dropped to the lowest level ever recorded…

Velocity Of Money 2014

#11 The National Debt

As our economic fundamentals have deteriorated, our politicians have attempted to prop up our standard of living by borrowing from the future.  The U.S. national debt is on pace to approximately double during the Obama years, and it increased by more than a trillion dollars in fiscal year 2014 alone.  Despite assurances that “the deficit is under control”, the federal government borrows about a trillion dollars a year to fund new spending in addition to borrowing about 7 trillion dollars to pay off old debt that is coming due.  What we are doing to future generations of Americans is absolutely criminal, and it is just a matter of time before this Ponzi scheme totally collapses…

National Debt 2014

#12 Total Debt

Of course it is not just the federal government that is gorging on debt.  When you add up all forms of debt in our society (government, business, consumer, etc.) it comes to a grand total of more than 57 trillion dollars.  This total has more than doubled since the year 2000…

Total Debt 2014

If you know anyone that believes that we are in good economic shape, just show them these charts.

The numbers do not lie.  Our economy is sick and it is getting sicker by the day.

And of course the next major financial crisis could strike at any time.  U.S. stocks just experienced their worst week in three years, and if cases of Ebola start popping up around the country the fear that would cause could collapse our economy all by itself.

The debt-fueled prosperity that we are enjoying today is not real.  We are living on the fumes of our past, and every single day our long-term problems get even worse.

Anyone with half a brain should be able to see what is coming.

Sadly, most Americans will continue to deny the truth until it is far too late.

On October 15, the United Nations Will Fail Haiti Once Again

October 14th, 2014 by Dr. Ajamu Nangwaya

On October 15, the United Nations Security Council will meet to “debate” the extension of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) which has acted as an occupying force in the country since the summer of 2004. MINUSTAH was created to put an end to the Multinational Interim Force (primarily made up of U.S., French, Canadian and Chilean troops) which occupied Haiti after an internationally backed coup d’état ousted the democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party from power on February 29, 2004.

During these ten years, MINUSTAH has compiled a horrific record of human rights abuses, including but not limited to extrajudicial murder, an epidemic of sexual assault against Haitian men, women and children, the repression of peaceful political protests, in addition to unleashing cholera through criminal negligence which has caused the death of over 9,000 people and infecting nearly a million more. Despite these well documented abuses, the historical record has shown that the Security Council will mostly likely renew MINUSTAH for another year without any thought to damage being done to Haiti. As evidence of how little resistance there is to the renewal of MINUSTAH’s mandate in the United Nations, on August 21, MINUSTAH’s budget was extended to June 2015 – clearly signalling that the occupation is certain to continue.

When one examines the level of instability in Haiti which is used as the justification for MINUSTAH’s continued presence in the country, the United Nations’ argument of protecting the Haitian people from themselves falls flat. Despite the mainstream media portrayal of Haiti as a lawless and dangerous country, in 2012, it had a homicide rate of 10.2 per 100,000 people, ranking it as one of the least violent countries in Latin America and the Caribbean – in contrast to Washington DC which sat at 13.71 per 100,000. Furthermore, to argue that it is the presence MINUSTAH which has acted as a stabilizing force which has kept violence down, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that between 2007 and 2012, Haiti’s homicide rate doubled from 5.1 to 10.2 per 100,000.

For the fiscal year running from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, $609.18 million was allocated to MINUSTAH. In the ten years in which MINUSTAH has been operational, their total budget is over $5.5 billion. If this same amount had been applied towards human development in the form of investments in clean water, sanitation, healthcare and education – Haiti would have the potential reclaim its sovereignty and self-determination.

We must be clear, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti is not based on any principles of humanitarianism, but rather those of an imperialist occupation which seeks to make sure that the island’s government can implement and maintain repressive policies favourable to international investors. Thus the reasons for MINUSTAH’s continued presence in Haiti were confirmed thanks to revelations by WikiLeaks. In one of the most up-front classified cables, from US Ambassador Janet Sanderson on October 1, 2008, stated that, “A premature departure of MINUSTAH would leave the [Haitian] government…vulnerable to…resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces—reversing gains of the last two years.”

The corrupt and repressive regime of President Michel Martelly has proudly boasted that “Haiti is open for business”. Indeed, this is true – however it is the people and the land that are being sold. Canadian mining companies like St. Genevive and Eurasian Minerals have taken advantage of weak laws to prospect new sites covering enormous swaths of territory (an estimated 1/3 of Northern Haiti has been granted to companies via permit), setting up the potential for substantial displacement through forced evictions and environmental destruction. Montreal based Gildan Activewear (the world’s largest manufacturer of blank T-shirts) has routinely pressured the Haitian government to block an increase in Haiti’s abysmally low daily minimum wage and have undermined unionization efforts in their plants.

MINUSTAH has carried out a series of human rights violations resulting in a loss of Haitian sovereignty, stability, dignity and life. Its record of engaging in acts of extrajudicial murder, sexual assault, suppressing peaceful political protests, undermining democracy and introducing cholera into Haiti are more than enough grounds to revoke its mandate. Yet for geopolitical and economic reasons, this does not happen.

As people of good conscience and principled internationalists, we collectively have the capacity and the resources to force an end to the military occupation of Haiti. However, we will not be able to fulfill this potential and stand in solidarity with the laboring classes in Haiti, if we don’t organize campaigns in Canada and across the world that pressure contributing states to end their provision of military and police personnel to MINUSTAH’s occupation force.

Our opposition to the military occupation of Haiti ought to take the form of grassroots-oriented campaigns that educate, mobilize, and organize membership-based organizations to add the end to the occupation to their organizational programme. It is critically necessary to reach out to the people in the spaces in which they are present, and offer specific actions that they may carry out to force the withdrawal of the occupation troops.

We have a moral and political obligation to support the struggle for self-determination by the popular classes in Haiti. The successful Haitian Revolution eliminated the enslavement of Afrikans in Haiti, and lit the fire of freedom in slaveholding states in the Americas.

The people of Haiti demonstrated their solidarity with the colonized peoples in South America by providing a place of refuge, guns, ammunition, personnel, and a printing press to Simon Bolivar’s campaign to liberate the region from Spanish colonialism. The French Revolution and the American Revolution cannot lay claim to being beacons and agents of emancipation in the Americas.

As we work to rid Haiti of MINUSTAH’s occupation forces, we ought to be motivated by the fact that we are continuing a long and proud tradition of people-to-people solidarity in support of emancipation in the Americas. Haiti is the architect and pioneer of this principled political tradition. We should remember this legacy as we call for the Security Council to pull out the occupation troops from Haiti.

Kevin Edmonds is a PhD student and member of the Toronto Haiti Action Committee and the Campaign to End the Occupation of Haiti.

Ajamu Nangwaya, Ph.D., is an educator. He is an organizer with the Campaign to End the Occupation of Haiti, and the Organization of Afrikan Struggles and International Solidarity.

Television News and Hypnotic Data: 4 Essential Features

October 14th, 2014 by Jon Rappoport

Television news needs to create a hypnotic effect. Otherwise it would fall apart and shatter into a million nonsensical pieces.

One: the presented data must be repeated, of course. This is the time-honored strategy. When the viewer sees and hears the same nugget many times, he accepts it because—“how can they say it so often if it isn’t true?”

Close on the heels of this: “everybody else must be accepting it, who am I to make an objection?”

And then, finally, there is the after-image effect. At the edge of consciousness, the viewer remembers the nugget and—“anything in my memory is automatically real.”

Two: a significant percentage of all news stories are framed as he-said, he-said. Two opposing viewpoints. No resolution. Done often enough, this produces cognitive dissonance, which in turn shuts off the rational mind and puts the viewer into a light trance, a state of suspension.

At this point, he becomes more accepting of other news items. No deliberation; no questions. He’s a channel, sucking in the information.

Three: the blend, the segue, the smooth transition from one news story to the next, as if the entire newscast is a single narrative: car accident on the highway, holiday shopping, ISIS, defective car recall, slow hurricane season, new drug for arthritis, stock market jitters, Presidential approval ratings, dancing cat YouTube video.

Consciously, the viewer can’t connect any of these bits, but the anchor is an actor who can pretend to make them all into a flowing story.

The viewer chooses to succumb—otherwise he would have to face the fact that he is looking at unbridled lunacy.

He doesn’t want that. He wants story. He’s solidly addicted. So he’ll settle for the nightly pretense of a story.

His settling deepens his trance.

Four: the invisible threat. This is always a big seller. Whether it’s al Qaeda or ISIS or some other group he’s never heard of—and will never see—he’s buying.

At some interior level, he’s hoping for an enemy that will justify his ongoing generalized fear, suspicion, and anxiety—as a point of focus. “Ah yes, there it is. Got it in my crosshairs. Now I know why I feel this way.”

The Surveillance State implies there are untold numbers of terrorists hiding in our country. The CDC hypes a new invisible germ that could sweep away lives.

Perfect.

“I don’t want to see the threat. Let it remain invisible. I just want to know it’s there. Then I can explain why I have feelings that point to no apparent target. Tell me there is a target. Then I’ll be satisfied.”

In this kind of psyop, the viewer is quite happy to sit on one side of a line in the sand, where he doesn’t have to do anything.

Occasionally, the news, with pumped-up emphasis, pulls him across the line and tells him: get vaccinated; see something, say something; vote; donate to a good cause—then you can you return to your former trance.

Or, in extreme circumstances, the news will present a quick blitz of several simultaneous stories, all of which appear to be spinning out of control and bringing chaos.

This is a prelude to later assurances that order has been restored. Of course, the order always carries with it a retraction of some piece of freedom—characterized as a humane response.

To the degree that I watch, listen to, and read mainstream news, this is why: to observe these and other allied strategies in action.

Seeing how reality is being built among ladders, pulleys, ropes, utilizing workers, deploying front men, is the kind of education that energizes the mind and torpedoes the trance.

“Coming up after the break, more mind control. Stay with us.”

Jon Rappoport is the author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALEDEXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at www.nomorefakenews.com

Most U.S. Hospitals Cannot Safely Handle Ebola Patients

October 14th, 2014 by Michael Snyder

This Ebola outbreak is being called the “most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times“, and the U.S. health care system is completely and totally unprepared for it.  The truth is that most U.S. hospitals are simply not equipped to safely handle Ebola patients, and most hospital staff members have received little or no training on Ebola.  And the fact that Barack Obama and our top public health officials are running around proclaiming that Ebola is “difficult to catch” is giving doctors and nurses a false sense of security.  There is a reason why Ebola has been classified as a biosafety-level 4 (BSL-4) pathogen.  It is an extraordinarily dangerous virus, and there are only a few facilities in the entire country that are set up to safely handle such a disease.

The Ebola patient that recently died in Dallas was the first to be cared for in a facility that did not follow biosafety-level 4 protocols.  And so it should not be a surprise that this is the facility where transmission happened

Of the six Ebola patients treated in the U.S. before the health worker’s case, Duncan was the only one not treated at one of the specialized units in several hospitals around the country set up to deal with high-risk germs.

The CDC’s director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, has said that any U.S. hospital with isolation capabilities can care for an Ebola patient. But his stance seemed to soften on Sunday, when asked at a news conference whether officials now would consider moving Ebola patients to specialized units.

“We’re going to look at all opportunities to improve the level of safety and to minimize risk, but we can’t let any hospital let its guard down,” because Ebola patients could turn up anywhere, and every hospital must be able to quickly isolate and diagnose such cases, he said.

The head of the CDC continues to underestimate the seriousness of this disease.  His opinion that just about any U.S. hospital can safely handle Ebola patients is being contradicted by a whole host of medical experts, including ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser

Besser said he does not agree with the Centers for Disease Control, which says any U.S. hospital can safely care for an Ebola patient.

To do it safely, health care workers need to train and practice using protective equipment like they have been doing at the Emory and Nebraska facilities,” he said, referring to special biocontainment units at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta — where Fort Worth physician Kent Brantly was treated for Ebola exposure; and the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where an NBC photojournalist is currently being cared for. “I would never have gone into an Ebola ward in Africa without being dressed and decontaminated by experts — health care workers here should expect no less.”

And even if our hospitals had the proper equipment and hospital staff were being given proper BSL-4 protective clothing, the reality of the matter is that most of them have not received adequate training.  Just check out the following excerpt from an NBC News article that was posted this week…

Three out of four nurses say their hospital hasn’t provided sufficient education for them on Ebola, according to a survey by the largest professional association of registered nurses in the United States.

National Nurses United has been conducting an online survey of health care workers across the U.S. as the Ebola outbreak has widened globally. After a Texas nurse who cared for the first patient diagnosed with the Ebola in the U.S. tested positive for the virus Sunday, the group released its latest survey findings.

Out of more than 1,900 nurses in 46 states and Washington D.C. who responded, 76 percent said their hospital still hadn’t communicated to them an official policy on admitting potential patients with Ebola. And a whopping 85 percent said their hospital hadn’t provided educational training sessions on Ebola in which nurses could interact and ask questions.

If this is indeed the most serious health emergency in modern times like the WHO is saying, then we need to get our health care personnel trained to face it immediately.

Sadly, if a major Ebola pandemic does break out in this country, there is no way that we are going to have the resources to be able to deal with it.

As I discussed yesterdayWND is reporting that there is only one BSL-4 care facility in the entire nation that is available to treat the general public…

Have you wondered why Ebola patients are being sent to Omaha, Nebraska?

It’s because one physician, Dr. Philip Smith, had the foresight to set up the Nebraska Biocontainment Patient Care Unit after the Sept. 11 attacks as a bulwark against bioterrorism. Empty for more than a decade, used only for drills, it was called “Maurer’s Folly,” for Harold Maurer, former chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The unit has a special air handling system to keep germs from escaping from patient rooms, and a steam sterilizer for scrubs and equipment.

It could handle at most 10 patients at a time, but one or two would be more comfortable, owing to the large volume of infectious waste.

It is the largest of only four such units in the U.S., and the only one designated for the general public.

If the outbreak in the United States is limited to just a few patients we will probably be fine.

But what if it isn’t?

Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to do next to nothing to prevent more people infected with Ebola from traveling into this country.

Obama says that there is “extensive screening” at our airports, but that simply is not true.

The following is one example of the “extensive screening” that is taking place…

The World Health Organization is sending doctors to countries where the virus is most prevalent — Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Fusion’s Jorge Ramos spoke to one of the doctors, Dr. Aileen Marty, who recently returned home to Miami after spending 31 days in Nigeria. She says she was surprised what happened when she arrived at Miami International Airport.

“I get to the kiosk…mark the fact that I’ve been in Nigeria and nobody cares, nobody stopped me,” Marty said.

“Not a single test?” Ramos asked her, surprised.

“Nothing,” Marty answered.

And the head of the CDC continues to rule out a ban on air travel for non-essential personnel to and from the countries where Ebola is raging…

Dr. Frieden strongly argued against curtailing travel to and from West Africa, in part because that could make it harder to get supplies to those countries. “That will make it harder to stop the disease,” he said. “Whatever we do, we won’t stop travel to and from these countries.

It is hard to put into words how foolish this is.

If this virus gets loose inside the United States it could easily become the worst health crisis our nation has ever seen.

The key is to keep the virus from getting into our country in the first place.

Banning air travel for non-essential personnel to and from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia would not be that big of a deal.  Many other countries have already done it.

But the CDC and the Obama administration are not even considering it.

If they have made the wrong call on this, it could end up costing large numbers of Americans their lives.

What Claim Does America Have to Global Dominance?

October 14th, 2014 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

In his address to the United Nations president Obama said of the United States of America: “We are heirs to a proud legacy of freedom, and we are prepared to do what is necessary to secure that legacy for generations to come. Join us in this common mission, for today’s children and tomorrow’s…” So, what sort of claim does America have to global domination? VoR’s Dmitry Linnik hosts a discussion.

Barack Obama used the word America 27 times in a fairly short speech. That includes only two mentions of the United States of America.

Why does president Obama think the US has a claim to leadership of the world?

“Because we hold our leaders accountable, and insist on a free press and independent judiciary.”

In other words, is there a division of powers, a system of checks and balances that makes US government a model? It seems that the US is unprepared or unwilling to apply the same principles on a global scale – it doesn’t want to see any checks or balances to its global domination…

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To discuss this VoR’s Dmitry Linnik is joined by:

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalisation, a contributor at the Strategic Culture Foundation in Moscow and an author and sociologist

Jonathan Steele, Guardian columnist and author of Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground.

James Thackara, novelist, human rights activist and author of The Book of Kings.

Anatol Lieven, visiting professor at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London and author of In America Right and Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism.

Soundbites 

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: “I think the United States has no claim to global domination. Of course, that’s not the same in practice. It’s done everything it can, everything in its power, to impose itself globally. But if we’re talking about a claim to global domination it has no legal claim, it has no moral claim, it has no claim whatsoever.

“What he [Obama] was saying is basically poetry…

“The United States does many times lose sight of the fact that when it talks, it can only talk for itself. It is not supposed to be talking for the rest of the world. And in fact, it appropriates terms like ‘international community’ and it increasingly mingles the two. It loses sight of where the international community is and where the United States is.”

James Thackara:: “I don’t feel any apology for Obama. I think everybody should be worrying about what would’ve happened if he hadn’t been in office. It was a great speech in the UN. Unfortunately, America doesn’t follow its own precepts, and part of the speech – the whole world to adopt this speech as its credo, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that they belong to an American empire, they might just do things in the American way which is something Americans hugely believe in…

“He talked about ‘might not right’ and ‘right not might’ and I thought that was gross hypocrisy. We have just been through a very ugly period in which America exerted ‘might not right’ and a lot of people died, and that’s been true of Vietnam and Korea before that. So we have a really big foreign policy problem. When one says ‘American dominance’ and ‘the American way of life’ you’re actually talking about a country that’s withdrawn from the world. The American Revolution was about withdrawing from the world. It wasn’t about dominating the world. It’s done a hell of a bad job of influencing anybody in the world…

“Putin has been able to concentrate in his hands, and create, probably as he would have liked, a personality cult and when you have that amount of power – he’s moved very deafly in Ukraine, it’s been a spectacular performance…

 “America doesn’t have anybody like Putin. We have an elected official that’s got very little power. He [Obama] came in on dreams and I’m glad you say ‘poetry’ because he certainly has a lot of poetry. I thought it was a great speech! Interestingly, I thought he agreed with Lavrov – I think if you examine the foreign policy aspect of what they are saying they were both talking as responsible people. Obama avoided foreign policy and in fact, that was a stump speech for the midterm elections…

“From the War Powers Act in 1941 the American security establishment has been building up its presence in the world. We now have 1000 bases in 120 countries. If he [Obama] had 36 years in office he could not dismember this monster. Obama is certainly not unaware that the monster is there and we should all be collaborating to get rid of it.”

Jonathan Steele: “It’s not domination. It’s an attempt to domination, maybe. I think in that speech made to the UN General Assembly, he [Obama] was speaking to the world as it were. But I think he was speaking down to the world. It was a very patronising speech to talk constantly about American leadership, and the ‘beacon on the hill’ and all that, and the hope of freedom, etc. This is the strand that has long been there in American history – this exceptionalism, that somehow, unlike any other country it [America] is not motivated by self-interest or cynicism and it’s bringing freedom and democracy and the rule of law to the rest of the world. It’s interesting that Putin picked that up in his famous op-ed piece in the New York Times some months ago criticising this ‘American exceptionalism’, saying we’ve had enough of it…

Photo: Barack Obama, Flickr

“I think Obama has unfortunately been very hypocritical because when he came in, we thought that he would respect the UN much more than Bush had done – with all of Bush’s pre-emptive wars and unilateralism. But actually, Obama’s hardly brought the UN into the mix at all. Look at this latest thing against ISIS! This is a classic case where you would want a UN Security Council Resolution and it wouldn’t have been too difficult! But instead he just announces that we’re having a ‘coalition of the willing’ and we’re going to be the leaders of it. So unfortunately he has been very much in the same mould of previous American presidents in spite of the election rhetoric when he came in, in 2008.”

Anatol Lieven: “It’s important to note though that both sides of it [America] are nationalist. The belief in America’s right and duty to lead the world towards democracy is just as nationalist in its way as that of the hard-line chauvinists who basically hate the rest of the world. It’s two faces of the same nationalism. What one certainly sees in America today compared to under George Bush is much less desire to become involved in overseas adventures on the ground. While Obama has shown that he is completely part of the US establishment and the whole of the establishment, Democrat and Republican, believe in American global leadership as they would call it, there are tactical differences. Obama, of course, came in with a much more cautious agenda than George Bush, much more realist in a way… Some people have called him an Eisenhower-Republican.

“What we are seeing is a much more cautious US president who is determined to maintain US dominance in various parts of the world and almost cannot phrase that to the American people – possibly can’t even imagine it, except in these tremendously magniloquent and ideological terms of leading democracy and leading freedom, which frankly, on the ground in the Middle East nobody believes in. It’s a separate issue whether it is or is not a good thing to fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria but this is most certainly not America leading democracy…”

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: “From my experience in Eastern Europe it is not that Eastern Europeans want to have American leadership at all. You’re talking about something that Eastern European political and financial elites are interested in, not something that the regular people in Eastern Europe are interested in. In places like Bulgaria and Romania, where they’re more concerned about bread on the table, an end to corruption; their states have been criminalised and the mafia is basically involved in government there. Those are their concerns, not being part of some ‘American Empire’.

“Being there and speaking to people in Eastern Europe, seeing things as they are, a lot of them [Eastern Europeans] are actually having second questions about what entry into the European Union, into being part of the Euro-Atlantic orbit, as some people in Brussels and in Washington like to call it, means…

“This talk about America being a beacon of freedom, helping spread democracy – this is just an ideological framework to justify American foreign policy abroad. During colonial periods, in Western Europe there was the white man’s burden, there was the mission of civilising the world and today the United States has the mission of spreading democracy, but in practice, the proof is in the pudding. You can see that the United States has been one of the biggest obstructions to democracy in the Middle East – supporting the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia, the Al Khalifa family in Bahrain which uses tanks against peaceful protesters…”

Photo: South Vietnam. Residents leaving western quarters of Saigon bombed by US warplanes, 1968 (RIA Novosti)

James Thackara: “I think you’re talking about the institution of the security apparatus we’ve got in America. I don’t think that Obama created it and I’m not saying that to defend Obama. Obama’s election mandate, I would go a little further than Anatol and say that he [Obama] was given a rather large, not so moderate one, which was basically to contain America. The people of America wanted to withdraw from the world and that is what he came in on.

“I’ve watched many-many phases of America abroad and I’ve never heard anybody talk about American dominance, forgive me for saying that… I think American influence is the word that might be needed and that was probably what he [Obama] was trying to emphasise in that speech about ‘might for right’ and ‘right for might’…

“I don’t think America wishes to dominate the world. Since it’s never developed a foreign policy, its idea of its utopian prescription, which I agree with Mahdi has not worked very well, I mean we’ve got the largest prison population in the world […], and particularly with the Kennedy doctrine in Vietnam – these were really abhorrent, malfunctioning forms of governance and they were forms of governance! And in that sense, yes, America probably does exert a dominating influence but I don’t think its dominance is the idea of building an ‘American Empire’ because that would never work. We haven’t even been able to run our own country correctly!”

Photo: Donald Rumsfeld (L) abd Dick Cheney (R)

Anatol Lieven: “There’s obviously a very strong current in the American establishment which certainly does desire dominance and sometimes is willing to talk explicitly of ‘empire’… If you look at some of the neoconservatives and the programme of Rumsfeld [Donald Rumsfeld] and Cheney [Dick Cheney] during the last administration, I mean, this is very powerful in the US establishment. Of course America didn’t develop all these bases and all these client regimes all over the world by accident…

“This is by no means necessarily the will of the American people as a whole. It’s often necessary to whip up a completely exaggerated hysteria over international threats in order to get Americans really to want to do anything much at all – that has been the history of several episodes in US foreign policy.

“It’s true no doubt that in most parts of the world ordinary people are really just concerned with jobs and income and security and so forth, but foreign policy is shaped by foreign policy elites, or if you like, simply those parts of the population that are interested in foreign policy. And if you look at Eastern Europe – and I have to say, I have been a strong critic of US policy in Ukraine, but clearly there are a great many Ukrainians who do look to the US for help and leadership. As for partly similar reasons there are of course so many people in the Far East who look to the US for help against China because their fear of China is greater and that includes of course, the Vietnamese who suffered so terribly at America’s hands.

“And in the Middle East there a great many people who look to the US for help, also against neighbours whom they are extremely frightened of. They may not like asking or needing US help in this way but they do ask for it. That isn’t however, by any manner of means necessarily in the name of democracy – as one can see in the Far East in the Vietnamese case and as one can see in the Middle East with the Saudi case… US dominance would be going too far but certainly should we say ‘predominant influence’ in certain parts of the world is not simply imposed by imperial force, it is also desired by a good many people in these areas.”

Photo: Anti-attack on Syria demonstration, Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestinian Territories, 2013 (Rex Features)

Jonathan Steele: “I would very much actually disagree on this occasion with Anatol. I don’t think that the Middle East is the area where many people would want US protection or friendship or help. It’s the region of the world where there is most strong anti-Americanism, except obviously in the case with Israel…”

Anatol Lieven: “…The thing is that many of them [in the Middle East] are more afraid of Iran and ISIS than they are of the US presence…”

Jonathan Steele: “No, I think that’s completely exaggerated. I think the elites of the Gulf certainly want to be America’s ally and friend and that is why some of them have joined this ‘coalition of the willing’ but one of the things in the Arab Spring was precisely to get away from dictatorships which were clients of the United States. That element of the Arab Spring which was about foreign policy is often underplayed but it was clear in Tunisia where France was the colonial power more than the US, but in Egypt is was certainly the colonial power seen as a neo-colonial power and people wanted to get away from that…

“Most countries are very suspicious. After all, the US has been intervening in the Middle East for more than fifty years after it took over from the British. And it’s been a disaster for most people…”

James Thackara: “The Arab world has been trying to unify itself – the caliphate speech has been going on for quite some time, it started with Bin Laden… And there are movements like that – the pan-Arab revolution in Algeria was going on in the early 19th century; the British imposed their structures there which couldn’t be maintained by anybody really; and these experiments of trying to restore the caliphate have been hugely enhanced by America’s interference in the region – getting involved with elites, rather like the ones in Latin America… We seem to do this over and over, even in Ukraine we’ve somehow gotten into this role. What it’s actually doing is it is perfecting a laboratory in which this experiment of unifying militant Islam from Indonesia to Morocco is prospering.

Photo: Fight for Kobane between Islamic State militants and kurdish troops, Suruc (Rex Features)

“ISIS has really got the formula quite right. They’re getting much-much closer to being able to find an ideology within Islam, as brutal and ghastly as it is, which will more or less erase all our – or what I would call – American allies in that region, or what’s left of them, and I don’t think that any of the Arab governments down there want us there except to maybe get something out of us and if they do, maintain their position in power.”

Jonathan Steele: “[In Afghanistan] there was an element of provocation [by the West] but I think it was this idea that the US was going to encroach on the Soviet Union from the south – don’t forget that in 1979 the Shah, the great bastion of American power in the Middle East, collapsed and was thrown out and in came Khomeini [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini]. There was this funny feeling in Moscow that somehow Khomeini would move Iran back to the Americans and that in Afghanistan, Hafizullah Amin who was the current leader, would also move back to the Americans and they moved pre-emptively and stupidly into Kabul to try to overthrow that regime and put in a client-puppet regime [in Kabul]. But it wasn’t expansionist. Some people in the West, including Zbigniew Brzezinski said they were trying to move to the warm water ports for Pakistan and so on and to go through Afghanistan to get that, which I thought was nonsense. I think it was a kind of defensive move, if you can call an aggression defensive, to pre-empt something worse happening in Afghanistan which was falling out totally from the non-allied camp into an American camp…”

Photo: Participants of an anti-American rally outside the former U.S. Embassy building in Tehran, 2013 (RIA Novosti)

Anatol Lieven: “As Brzezinski himself has admitted there was an element of deliberate provocation on the US side even before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan…

“It was a classic attempt to prop up a client regime fearing that its fall would lead to wider and very dangerous consequences. In that of course, it’s very close to what America and previous imperial powers did in South Vietnam… That, however, doesn’t make it any less of a mistake on the Soviet part.”

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: “When we talk about American influence, we can argue about the terms, but we have to look at what someone means when they say ‘American influence’… So for example, when we hear Hillary Clinton speaking on the media front saying that the United States need to expand more on things like Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty so that American influence can increase in other places – what does that mean? That’s a question that we should keep in mind.

“In regards to this entire question of dominance, we have to remember that perception management is something that the United States is very good at. People might perceive that their lives have become better or they might perceive that China is a threat now or might perceive that Russia is a threat, but that doesn’t mean it is reality. We need to ask where the constructs for these perceptions are coming from. This goes full circle to statements like Hillary Clinton saying we should prop up our media because our enemies are winning the war… And what is this war? It’s on this perception management…

“Yes, foreign policy elites – this goes to your question about how Ukraine is like Afghanistan; I’m in Canada and in Halifax there’s something called the International Halifax Security Forum… This security forum was started by the German Marshall Fund which is based in Washington DC. It was funded by them and the Canadian government, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. This security forum started in 2009 and one of the first guests was the foreign policy advisor of Mr Yatsenyuk [Arseniy Yatsenyuk]; and this forum was about expanding NATO, one of the speakers was talking about war with Iran…

“There’s something the United States is working on – creating consensus amongst elites all around the world and in fact, they made similar security forums in Ukraine. For years they spent money in Ukraine to basically groom an elite to think that ‘your interests’ lie with the United States, not with the Russian Federation or with the Commonwealth of Independent States which is where the majority of your trade is…

“This entire situation in Kiev, it’s been manufactured by the United States.”

Photo: US Senator John McCain, center, at the Dignity Day rally held by supporters of eurointegration on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev (RIA Novosti)

James Thackara: “The fact is, and Xi [Xi Jinping], the head of the Chinese government has said it, Russian officials have said it – American exceptionalism is this idea that America is somehow the only superpower. I’m afraid that China and Russia, Russia being the largest country in the world and China, since before the first Opium War having the largest economy in the world and certainly will have it now again – these three countries are going to have to get along together.

“I think that the problem we’ve got is not with Obama and it’s not with his speech at the United Nations… It’s with this huge security operation. The Republicans are doing their very best to keep that there – they probably thought Romney would take over again and run that whole thing continuing their imperial ambitions. That has to stop, and I don’t think the American people want it, I don’t think the Chinese want it and I don’t think the Russians want it…”

Anatol Lieven: “I think America will bankrupt itself in the process and stir up so many enemies against itself that it will at best, eventually, be forced to withdraw as previous empires did and at worst, will actually stumble into a very serious conflict, possibly a catastrophic conflict in the Far East.

“Putin, the Chinese leadership and others too, including the democratic governments, have been saying that America simply has to get on with other major powers even if they do not share America’s ideology. This is something which the American establishment at heart finds very difficult to do.

“The striking thing is, and with a bipartisan consensus behind it, that to a great extent this has become the modus operandi of US policy – under the Clinton administration, the Bush administration and admittedly once again in a softer and more cautious way under the Obama administration, hence the move into Ukraine, hence the move to contain China.

“I’ve argued for many-many years about America’s need to recognise the legitimacy of other people’s interests; the need for cooperation across ideological lines against the range of threats facing humanity. I must say that over the years I have also become less optimistic. I would however like to come back once again, and if you look at India for example, they would certainly never accept American dominance but as we see from Modi’s visit to Washington – India, after all is the second largest country in the world in terms of population, and certainly the Indian policy elites while they will never accept American dominance, are very strongly supportive of an American presence in Asia against what they see as their major rival – China and major threat – Pakistan. Once again, this is not about democracy, whatever the American and Indian governments may say. It’s about national interests.”

Jonathan Steele: “There’s a big question mark in my mind, and I still haven’t found a good answer – why have the Americans revived this Cold War against Russia?

“The earlier part of Obama’s second term was the pivot to Asia and this attempt to contain China, which I think they are exaggerating anyway – this alleged threat, but nevertheless, there is this great push in East Asia. Then you’ve got the whole Islamic thing and complete turbulence in the Middle East now because of ISIS… Why do they suddenly need a third front, as it were, which they’ve developed in the last six months as a result of Ukraine, to revive the Cold War? It doesn’t seem to make any sense! Russia is not the equal of the United States in the world, it’s no longer a global power – it’s a regional power and not a challenge to them! It’s had no attempts to recreate the Soviet empire, let alone a global empire!

Photo: Rex Features

“Sometimes you feel that Obama is like a prisoner in the White House. That there’s a combination of the neocons from the Bush administration who are still there, plus these humanitarian interventionists like Samantha Powers and Susan Rice, who are there in other capacities, and that Obama is the only one who is trying to keep an even keel but is always outsmarted by his advisers.”

Anatol Lieven: “It is precisely the way in which the Wolfowitz Doctrine [unofficial name given to the initial version of the Defence Planning Guide for 1994-99, by Paul Wolfowitz], if you can call it that, has become – an American Doctrine: nobody else is to exert influence beyond their borders essentially, in any part of the world except when America sees it as completely in tune with its interests.

“This [reviving the Cold War with Russia] is in no way in the interests of the United States, let alone humanity – and the answer is that the Washington policy elites are not wholly rational; they are also influenced by very strong prejudices, emotions, affections and also, I’m sorry to say, hatred in many cases! Precisely the mixture that George Washington, the first president, warned against…”

James Thackara: “The ruling elite which is an amateur elite – these people in Washington who I’ve often seen, these are people who don’t know very much and this is what I find scary. Let’s not accuse Obama, let’s be terrified of this extraordinary ignorant and ill-tutored bunch of special interests people who will bow to all sorts of pressures…”

Photo: Zbigniew Brzezinski, Center for Strategic & International Studies, Flickr

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: “Where are these ideas coming from? Mr Brzezinski himself said that it is better if Russia was divided into several countries. It would be more democratic for the Russians if their country was split up. And who supports the separatists in Chechnya?

“I don’t think the Cold War ever ended because when the foreign elites like the ones in Washington or the ‘Washington beltway’, want to control everything in the world or ‘have influence’ if some people want to use the term ‘influence’ instead of ‘control’… Well, of course you would want everyone else weaker. Why do we consistently see countries in other parts of the world that are always opposed to the United States breaking up? Like Yugoslavia, it was neutral actually, it wasn’t even in the Soviet camp and it wasn’t in the western bloc… You see the Soviet Union breaking up and you see Arab countries, instead of becoming more unified, they become more fragmented whenever the United States intervenes.”

Anatol Lieven: “The world is ‘balkanised’ already and it didn’t take the United States to ‘balkanise’ it – if you look at the situation in East Asia and in the Middle East – yes, it was originally ‘balkanised’, if you like, by Britain and France after the First World War and the US have done nothing to ‘de-balkanise’ it. I would caution against thinking that there is some wicked detailed master plan in Washington…”

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: “Hold on, Joe Biden agreed with dividing Iraq – it’s called the Biden Plan…”

Anatol Lieven: “No, I’m sorry, the plan for the division of Iraq – yes, it was the US invasion that brought about the civil war that divided Iraq and the Biden Plan was an attempt to get out while leaving some sort of minimal order behind. The United States did not invade Iraq with the intention of dividing the place – you mustn’t work backwards from events to invent detailed plans for them. A lot of the time the United States elites, just as is the case with ISIS, are scrambling to respond to events that they were not prepared for and do not understand – as we’ve heard many of them, even the so-called foreign policy elites, are actually profoundly ignorant of the rest of the world and certainly of the details of situations. The problem is that they are programmed ideologically to respond in certain ways and the key factor in this point of view is that yes, America has the right and duty to lead and when necessary, to force other people to follow it and nobody has the right to object to that. This is very often an essentially confused response rather than a cold-blooded highly intelligent master plan…

“If you look at so many of the people in Washington, they are not super-intelligent nor actually are they cold-blooded – they are responding very emotionally…”

Photo: A rally in Kiev against Ukraine joining NATO. The Russian-language poster reads: “No to NATO!” (RIA Novosti)

Jonathan Steele: “I think there’s a been a plan to try and get Ukraine into NATO for the last 10 years and they’ve been working very hard – grooming the elites, particularly the Ukrainian elites… The National Democratic Institute or whatever it’s called – the Democratic party’s foreign policy arm and the same one for the Republicans who had offices in Kiev, constantly pushing this idea, inviting people to Washington, inviting them to Brussels, to the NATO headquarters, wining and dining them, offering them all kinds of blandishments even though every single opinion poll in Ukraine showed that the majority of Ukrainians did not want to enter NATO. But they would not give up and they’re slowly moving towards achieving their aim because now Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko are saying that they will get parliament to throw out the vote that ratified non-alignment as a strategy, and then they are going to start proceedings to join NATO…”

VoR

The corporate jargon surrounding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal is about ‘protecting’ investment’, reducing ‘unnecessary’ barriers and ‘harmonising’ regulations that supposedly deter free trade between the US and the EU.

In principle, the notion of trade that is free and fair sounds ideal. But, across the world, the dominant ideological paradigm allows little scope for neither. Markets are rigged [1], commodity prices subject to manipulation [2] and nations are coerced [3], destabilised [4] or attacked [5] in order that powerful players gain access to resources and markets.

On 11 October, over 400 groups across Europe took to the streets to demonstrate against the TTIP, which has just ended its seventh round of talks in Washington. While some groups are accused by supporters of the TTIP of being ideologically driven in their opposition, it is not ideology that drives this opposition. It is sceptism and suspicion fuelled by the prevailing pactices and actions of powerful corporations and their ideological brand of neoliberalism and rampant privatisation. The secrecy and lack of transparency surrounding the TTIP fuels this suspicion. The public has not been allowed to know who set the agenda for the negotiations or what specifically is being negotiated supposedly its our behalf?

The public is expected to put up and shut up and leave it all to those who know best: EU officials with their deep-seated conflicts of interest [6,7,8] and big business. It has been mainly through leaked documents and recourse to freedom of information legislation that the public has gained insight into the nature of the negotiations.

The origins of the TTIP and the absence of transparency

The deal was masterminded by the ‘High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth’ (HLWG), which was set up in 2011 and chaired by European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and the then US Trade Representative Ron Kirk [9]. In its final report, the Group not only recommended entering into the negotiations but went into some detail as to what should be put on the table, with the far-reaching aim of moving towards a “transatlantic marketplace.”

When questioned about the nature of the group, the European Commission (EC) said it had no identifiable members and stated that “several departments” contributed to the discussion and the reports of the (memberless) group. It even stated that there was no document containing the list of authors of the reports. A request by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) to disclose membership/report authors was met with the response: “Unfortunately we (the EC) are not in a position to provide you with the information requested.” [10]

CEO argued that the group should be subject to the transparency requirements set up in EC’s rules on ‘expert groups’, including transparency about who participated.

When asked about the ‘outside expertise’ (as the EC called it) that had influenced the reports produced by the HLWG, CEO was told that the impact assessment of the proposed EU-US trade deal contained a summary of the expert evidence gathered since its inception. CEO was also directed to the Commission’s overview page for public consultations, where it is stated that more than 65 percent of the input to the first two consultations on the proposed EU-US deal came from companies and industry associations.

European Commissioner De Gucht claimed that “there is nothing secret” about the ongoing talks. In December 2013 in a letter published in The Guardian [11], he argued that “our negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are fully open to scrutiny.”

If that was the case, why then were notes of Commission meetings with business lobbyists released to Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) under the EU’s freedom of information law heavily censored? [12]

The public is not allowed to know the positions held by the EU (unlike business interests) in these talks, who is being given access to whom and who is lobbying for what on whose behalf. High-minded platitudes referring to protecting the integrity of industry and the sensitive nature of negotiations have been used in an attempt to subvert democracy, prevent public scrutiny and secure the continued privileged positions and influence that big business has held in the talks. The arguments being used to justify the secrecy were thinly veiled disguises to try to hoodwink the public into the accepting the legitimacy of these negotiations without question.

Documents received by CEO showed that De Gucht’s officials invited industry to submit wishlists for ‘regulatory barriers’ they would like removed during the negotiations. However, there was no way for the public to know how the EU incorporated this into its negotiating position as all references had been removed.

CEO received 44 documents about the EC’s meetings with industry lobbyists as part of preparations for the EU-US trade talks. Most of the documents, released as a result of a freedom of information (FOI) request, were meeting reports prepared by Commission officials.

The documents arrived almost a full ten months (!) after the FOI request was tabled and 39 of the 44 documents were heavily censored. The documents covered only a fraction of the more than 100 meetings which De Gucht’s officials had with industry lobbyists in the run-up to the launch of the TTIP negotiations.

Were no notes taken during closed-door meetings with corporate lobbyists from, for example, the US Chamber of Commerce, the German industry federation BDI, chemical lobby groups CEFIC and VCI, pharmaceutical industry coalition EFPIA, DigitalEurope, the Transatlantic Business Council, arms industry lobby ASD, the British Bankers Association and corporations like Lilly, Citi and BMW?

In the 39 documents which were “partially released”, large parts of text (“non releasable” or “not relevant”) had been hidden. In some cases, every single word had been removed from the document.

Not only was the text of the EU’s negotiating position secret, the public was even denied access to sentences in meeting reports that referred to the EU negotiating position. These were minutes from meetings with industry lobbyists who were clearly given information about the EU’s negotiating position in the TTIP talks, unlike the public. The sharing of information about the EU’s negotiating position with industry while refusing civil society access to that same information was a case of unacceptable discrimination.

In many cases, parts of text were removed because they contained the views of industry lobby groups “on particular aspects of the EU/US trade negotiations.” “Release of that information could have a negative impact on the position of the industry”, the Commission argued. It was unclear why the views of the lobby groups should be hidden from public scrutiny.

The Commission had also removed all names of lobbyists from the 44 documents arguing that “disclosure would undermine the protection of […] privacy and the integrity of the individual”. According to CEO, this was an absurd line of argument as these were professional lobbyists who are not acting in an individual capacity. There is clear public interest in transparency around who is lobbying on whose behalf and who is getting access to EU decision-makers.

What the corporations really want

Despite being heavily censored, the documents showed clearly that removing differences in EU and US regulations is the key issue in the TTIP talks, with ‘regulatory barriers’ coming up in a large majority of the meetings. For example, in a meeting with the European Services Forum in February 2013, a lobby group for global service players such as Deutsche Bank, IBM and Vodafone, the Commission suggested various options for regulatory cooperation such as ‘compatibility’, ‘mutual recognition’ and ‘equivalence.’

In another meeting in February 2013, BusinessEurope (the most powerful business lobby in Brussels), stressed “its willingness to play an active role in the upcoming negotiations, in particular on the regulatory front”. The Commission noted the importance of EU industry “submitting detailed ‘Transatlantic’ proposals to tackle regulatory barriers”.

A leaked EU document from the winter of 2013 showed the Commission proposing an EU-US Regulatory Cooperation Council [12], a permanent structure to be created as part of the TTIP deal. Existing and future EU regulation would then have to go through a series of investigations, dialogues and negotiations in this Council. This would move decisions on regulations into a technocratic sphere, away from democratic scrutiny. Policies could be presented to the public as ‘done deals’, all worked out behind closed doors between pro-business officials and business leaders. There would also be compulsory impact assessments for proposed regulation, which will be checked for their potential impact on trade. What about whether they protect people’s health or are good for the environment?

This would be ideal for big business lobbies: creating a firm brake on any new progressive regulation in the very first stage of decision-making.

Even without access to various sources of information, some of the main players that originally supported the deal included the biotech sector, Toyota, General Motors, the pharmaceutical industry, IBM and the Chamber of Commerce of the US, one of the most powerful corporate lobby groups in the US. Business Europe, the main organization representing employers in Europe, launched its own strategy on an EU-US economic and trade partnershipin early 2012 [13]. Its suggestions were widely included in the draft EU mandate.

Over the past couple of years or so, an increasing number of politicians and citizens groups have demanded that the negotiations be conducted in an open way, not least because there are concerns that the deal will open the floodgate for GMOs (food multinationals, agri-traders and seed producers have had more contacts with the EC’s trade department than lobbyists from the pharmaceutical, chemical, financial and car industry put together [14]) and shale gas (fracking) in Europe, threaten digital and labour rights and will empower corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regulations which they dislike.

One of the key aspects of the negotiations is that both the EU and US should recognize their respective rules and regulations, which in practice could reduce regulation to the lowest common denominator: a race to the bottom. The official language talks of “mutual recognition” of standards or so-called reduction of non-tariff barriers. For the EU, that could mean accepting US standards in many areas, including food and agriculture, which are lower than the EU’s.

The US wants all so-called barriers to trade, including highly controversial regulations such as those protecting agriculture, food or data privacy, to be removed. Even the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, made it clear that any agreement must also reduce EU restrictions on genetically modified crops, chlorinated chickens and hormone-treated beef [15].

Demands include an “ambitious liberalisation of agricultural trade barriers with as few exceptions as possible”. Similarly, food lobby group Food and Drink Europe, representing the largest food companies (Unilever, Kraft, Nestlé, etc.), has welcomed the negotiations, with one of their key demands being the facilitation of the low level presence of unapproved genetically modified crops. This is a long-standing industry agenda also supported by feed and grain trading giants, including Cargill, Bunge, ADM, and the big farmers’ lobby COPA-COGECA. Meanwhile, the biotech industry on both sides of the Atlantic is offering its “support and assistance as the EU and the US government look to enhance their trade relationship.” [13]

There is also the highly contentious investor-trade dispute settlement provision. It would enable US companies investing in Europe to bypass European courts and challenge EU governments at international tribunals whenever they find that laws in the area of public health, environmental or social protection interfere with their profits. EU companies investing abroad would have the same privilege in the US.

Across the world, big business has already used such settlement provisions in trade and investment agreements to claim massive sums from sovereign states in compensation [16]. Tribunals, consisting of ad hoc three-member panels hired from a small club of private lawyers riddled with conflicts of interest, have granted billions of euros to companies, courtesy of taxpayers.

EU and US companies have already used these lawsuits across the globe to destroy any competition or threats to their profits by for example challenging green energy and medicine policies, anti-smoking legislation, bans on harmful chemicals, environmental restrictions on mining, health insurance policies and measures to improve the economic situation of minorities. Even the threat of litigation can mean governments shelving socially progressive policies.

Any form of state intervention that does not work to the advantage of big business is increasingly regarded as a ‘barrier’ to trade, a potential curb on profits.

The TTIP is therefore also designed to undermine public sector service provision. That’s right, the public sector is regarded as a ‘barrier’ too. Private corporations could gain access to the lucrative government procurement market under the banner of free trade. We could well see an irreversible privatisation fest as US private interests bid to run state services such as the UK’s public sector National Health Service: patient care rights would give way to corporate business rights [17].

A report published by the Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) revealed the true human and environmental costs of the proposed deal. ‘A Brave New Transatlantic Partnership’ [18] highlighted how the EC’s promises of up to one percent GDP growth and massive job creation as a result of the trade deal were not supported even by its own studies, which predict a growth rate of just 0.01% GDP over the next ten years and the potential loss of jobs in several economic sectors, including agriculture.

The report also explained how corporations were lobbying negotiators to use the deal to weaken food safety, labour, health and environmental standards as well as undermine digital rights. Attempts to strengthen banking regulation in the face of the financial crisis could also be jeopardised as the financial lobby uses the secretive trade negotiations to undo financial reforms, such as restrictions on the total value of financial transactions or the legal form of its operations.

When the report was released, Kim Bizzarri, the author of the report, argued:

“Big business lobbies on both sides of the Atlantic view the secretive trade negotiations as a weapon for getting rid of policies aimed at protecting European and US consumers, workers and our planet. If their corporate wish-list is implemented, it will concentrate even more economic and political power within the hands of a small elite, leaving all of us without protection from corporate wrongdoings.”

TTIP in context

Despite sections of the mainstream corporate media glibly presenting the TTIP as a well thought out recipe for free trade, job creation and economic growth, albeit with a few minor glitches, such claims do not stack up. The TTIP is a mandate for corporate plunder, the bypassing of democratic procedures and the erosion of ordinary people’s rights and national sovereignty. It represents a pro-privatisation agenda that enshrines the privileges of the world’s most powerful corporations at the expense of ordinary people.

Ordinary people want powerful corporations to be held to account. They want business practices regulated by elected representatives and public officials in order to protect the public good. However, why so many continue to blithely place such trust in certain EU institutions stretches the imagination: democracy in the EU has been sold to the highest bidder; the EC is a captive but willing servant of a corporate agenda [8]. And now the TTIP presents an ideal opportunity for corporations to force through wholly unpopular policies.

Ultimately, the TTIP could draw Europe even closer to the US and consolidate the power of Anglo-US financial-corporate interests centred in the City of London and on Wall Street. If events surrounding Ukraine tell us anything, it is that these interests have been instrumental in driving a wedge between Europe and Russia to prevent closer economic alignment between the two. By placing economic sanctions on Russia and, according to US Vice President Joe Biden, “embarrassing” the EU to force it go along with them, Europe’s trade with Russia will suffer. As a result, Europe now has added incentive to ‘embrace’ the TTIP.

The TTIP is thus part of the broader geopolitical game plan to weaken Western Europe and divide the European continent by sidelining Russia. While the TTIP may appear to have nothing to do with what is happening in Ukraine or Syria, it must be regarded as another cog in the wheel to cement US global hegemony and weaken Russia [19].

Notes
 

‘Patient Zero’ for Ebola in U.S. is Identified

October 14th, 2014 by 21st Century Wire

She is said to be the first person to contract Ebola from inside the US, and her identity was kept secret, until now.

As far as US domestic epidemiology goes, this Dallas nurse is regarded a Patient Zero, or the ‘index case’ or initial Ebola patient in the native population, or so we’re told anyway…

Huff Post confirms today:

The identity of the Dallas health care worker who contracted Ebola after treating a patient who later died of the virus has been confirmed.

The family of 26-year-old Nina Pham, a nurse at Dallas’ Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, confirmed the news to WFAA. 

The family also confirmed the news to USA Today.”

DAHBOO77 explains the progression of events…

Pham was one of the nurses treating Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who is said to have imported the virus to US shores, by contracting the virus in West Africa and was diagnosed with Ebola in September. Sadly, Duncan died last week.

Authorities insist that nurse Pham was wearing protective gear – gloves, mask, apron and shield when she treated Duncan. So how did she contract the deadly virus? No one seems to really know.

CDC officials are blaming an error in hospital procedures, claiming that it’s a “breach of protocol”, and yet, they still have no idea what that breach actually was.

If that’s the case, how do they know it was a breach to begin with?

How many other healthcare workers were also infected is still unknown.

“Unfortunately, it is possible in the coming days we will see additional cases of Ebola,” said CDC spokesman Mr. Frieden.

Ebola and the Danger of Globalization

October 14th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

Whatever the cause – conspiracy or incompetence – the recent Ebola outbreak illustrates the dangers of centralized globalization, and opens the door to possible solutions.

Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) has surfaced in West Africa in an unprecedented outbreak infecting and killing thousands according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The epicenter appears to be centered between Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia – the former being where the first case was reported, the latter being hit the hardest.  Other nations including Senegal, Nigeria, and Mali have had cases reported but were contained and the spread of the disease there appears to have stopped. Nations like Uganda who have grappled with Ebola and similar diseases have yet to be affected and are believed to have suitable measures in place to zero in and contain the virus.

Beyond countries in West Africa, Spain, the United States, Brazil, and now Germany have reported travel-associated cases of Ebola as well as infections of health workers who apparently breached protocols while handling infected patients.

Characteristics of Ebola and Current Countermeasures 

The Ebola virus itself has an incubation period of between 2-21 days. It is not believed to be infectious until symptoms begin to form, however, it can cause infections for up to seven weeks after a patient recovers. Because of its varying incubation period, those infected have between 2-21 days to travel before any form of “screening” currently being done at airports would detect a fever and therefore be able to identify, contain, and treat possible Ebola cases. This means that the infected could be traveling into foreign countries, well past ports of entry and screening points before their symptoms and ability to infect others begin to manifest themselves.

Upon contracting Ebola, patients may begin to exhibit a fever and complain of abdominal pain but otherwise exhibit few other symptoms. It is only until later stages of the infection that Ebola may cause rashes and bleeding – and some patients never develop these symptoms at all. A complete list of symptoms is available at the CDC’s website.

Because of Ebola’s incubation period, screening at airports is perhaps the least effective measure a state could put in place. Instead, and has been done throughout all of human history to contain contagious disease, nations with widespread infections should be quarantined – and travel bans placed on these nations by governments interested in preventing the spread of Ebola within their borders. Within an infected country, quarantines must be placed on areas where infections are present.

Image: For years US and other Western NGOs have meddled in Liberia’s internal affairs, claiming to be building up education and the nation’s healthcare system. The US in particular has participated in military intervention in Liberia and has poured billions in cash in alleged “aid.” Ironic then that Liberia is one of the worst hit and least prepared nations suffering from Ebola. Above is a billboard sponsored by Open Society in Liberia’s capital of Monrovia. 

Despite the success quarantine has exhibited in the past, many Western policymakers have lobbied heavily against placing travel bans on infected countries or the notion of using quarantine procedures within infected countries. Open Society, a corporate-funded foundation that sponsors subversive political programs and so-called “civil society” within targeted countries, has been among the most vocal opponents of quarantining infected communities and countries.

In an Open Society post titled, “Looking Past Quarantine to Community Health,” Open Society President Chris Stone claims:

The current focus on quarantine presents a danger not only in the short run, but in the long run as well. Quarantine forces farmers to leave their fields, freezes air travel in African cities, and slows the flow of food and labor. These interruptions can touch off longer, more complex health crises in the countries where Ebola is already weakening systems.

Instead, the coalition that includes Partners In Health is training and equipping community-based health workers, with local partners such as Last Mile Health taking the lead. Community health workers are trusted neighbors who provide care while connected to a formal health system. This kind of community-based health response not only challenges the spread of Ebola and its fatality but also enables a new economic base and public health infrastructure.

In essence, economic progress within the context of “globalization” and the continued work of Western NGOs like Open Society in building their own administrative networks and infrastructure to control all sociopolitical and economic aspects within nations like Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, takes precedence over actually stopping the spread of Ebola. While the notion of building better and more prepared healthcare infrastructure in such nations should be a priority, it is a long-term goal that will have no affect on stemming the spread of Ebola currently.

Ironically, Open Society, as well as many of its counterparts including, USAID and  Médecins Sans Frontières also known as Doctors Without Borders (MSF), have been operating in the worst infected countries for years allegedly building this infrastructure, with MSF in particular having extensive experience with Ebola outbreaks. And, all of these organizations have collectively and categorically failed to prevent this latest outbreak for a multitude of reasons. In many ways, their attempt to integrate nations into their greater “international order” has set the stage for this outbreak, not prepared them better to prevent it.

Ebola Outbreak Exhibits the Danger of Globalization 

Never has there been a time in human history where governments have had more access to “big-data” legally or illegally. As the NSA, Facebook, Google, and other data mining operations have proven, collecting and exploiting vast quantities of information regarding personal preferences and travel habits not only gives policymakers and corporations immense insight into the current state of any given population, but also grants them varying degrees of predictive insight.

Image: Never has there been a time where technology has empowered governments more to either prevent outbreaks or design the perfect outbreak.

Considering this, one can also say that never has there been a time where such tools have empowered governments more to either prevent outbreaks or design the perfect outbreak.

That Ebola has been around for decades, and previous outbreaks have been contained with far fewer tools at the world’s disposal, but that the toll of Ebola has only today reached such unprecedented proportions – even with Western NGOs located and operating within infected countries for decades on everything allegedly from education to human health, engenders immense suspicion.

Coupled with this, Western governments and their NGOs have been embroiled in a long history of criminal activity including intentionally infecting populations with pathogens, conducting experiments involuntarily on human subjects, and other forms of what can be called “medical tyranny.” Together, the suspicion and distrust this causes led many Africans to turn against Western NGOs attempting to intervene during the early stages of this most recent outbreak.

International health organizations and NGOs that are not trusted are also not effective. What should be an immense asset for nations around the world, becomes instead a liability. The corruption, inefficiency, conspiracy, greed, manipulation, and exploitation bred by the immense centralization of power within the “globalization” model is, above all else, the chief cause of today’s deadly Ebola outbreak. Through either conspiracy or incompetence, Ebola has been allowed to first exploit weak healthcare and infrastructure in West Africa, and then spread beyond the continent through slow, ineffective measures enacted by criminally negligent governments.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter how this most recent outbreak began – it could have been prevented had nations like Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia possessed functioning, competent governments not subjected to both proxy and direct Western military intervention and all of the sociopolitical instability such intervention has caused. Had these nations possessed education systems capable of teaching their populations basic knowledge including aspects of personal health and hygiene, and had they possessed a viable economy to support self-sufficient development that would have drained the swamps of ignorance, poverty, and disease from which Ebola has risen, it is likely this most recent outbreak would have already been long ago contained.

How to Stop Ebola and Prevent it in the Future 

If Ebola continues to spread, containing and treating patients – as well as quarantining areas the virus is spreading – are the only effective methods on hand to stop it. Regardless of how this latest Ebola outbreak began, governments have failed to respond appropriately – leaving it to to people to protect themselves.

Stockpiling food and water and other essential supplies will be critical in quarantining ourselves if governments fail to do so. Intense monitoring and situational awareness by individuals and groups of organized individuals may help prepare communities to decide when extra precautions and self-imposed restrictions on movement may be required. Riding it out is of course an option of last resort, reserved when governments around the world have fully demonstrated their inability or unwillingness to stem the tide of this disease.

Preventing Ebola outbreaks, and outbreaks of other infectious, deadly diseases, will not be done with vaccines meted out by big-pharmaceutical companies that have, like international health organizations, exhausted public trust. Curative therapies may or may not ever be developed. Instead, populations must strive to move away from dependence on heavily centralized, criminal, and/or incompetent systems of governance and crisis management and begin developing for themselves the tools necessary to respond to such crises.

Everything from natural disasters like hurricanes to outbreaks like the current spread of Ebola, have showcased without doubt that centralized governments are neither interested nor capable of managing a crisis better than well educated, prepared, and organized local people.

Likewise moving away from the centralized nature of today’s globalized world is an absolute necessity. Greater decentralization of all aspects of modern society, from the economy, to education, power, food, and water production, to devolving power away from centralized institutions and into the hands of local, pragmatic institutions will all play a role in making stronger, self-sufficient communities able to prepare themselves individually to monitor, identify, and protect against threats of all kinds. Instead of a virus like Ebola spreading through a singular sociopolitical economic body like the United States, or even the global “international order” it insists on implementing, it would be instead confronted by a vast network of self-sufficient communities representing a multitude of “bodies” to enter and infect – making its spread exponentially more difficult.

Image: A representation of a “full-set” local economy complete with food, water, and power production, a community lab that could augment and assist local healthcare professionals, and local manufacturing performed in microfactories and makerspaces/hackerspaces. The concept behind such localization is not isolation, but rather self-sufficiency. Physical, local self-sufficiency coupled with global awareness and collaboration hold the keys to solving some of modern civilization’s most pressing problems. In the case of the latest Ebola outbreak, such communities would easily be able to restrict their own movements, as well as monitor and treat anyone infected without outside support. Networks of such communities, like the cells in a body, provide a parallel, highly responsive, and flexible means to respond to any challenge, threat, or opportunity in ways centralized monopolies of wealth and power simply cannot. 

Such communities could easily restrict travel in and out of their boundaries, and it is likely that travel would not be as prolific as it is today, with the need of “commuting” in order to participate in centralized economic activity diminished. Self-employment and online collaboration already is an increasing prospect as technology opens the door to localization in ways never before imagined. The ability to work locally and continue being productive despite the outbreak and spread of disease, would be just one of many advantages of a decentralized, modern society.

Localization and self-sufficient communities provide solutions to a multitude of problems ranging from the sociopolitical and environmental, to economic and in the case of global outbreaks, the mitigation, prevention, and isolation of disease. Localism, not globalism, creates the sort of modern civilization needed to empower and protect the interests of the majority against the greed, conspiracies, and incompetence of centralized special interests.

As technology continues to empower individuals and communities to take on more responsibilities traditionally reserved for national and international institutions, organizations, governments, and private enterprise, matters of healthcare too will be localized. Imagine local healthcare practitioners leveraging modern manufacturing technology and open source collaboration to create clinics possessing advanced critical care units, diagnosis and other laboratory facilities, as well as the ability to create and distribute locally, pharmaceuticals and other curative or preventive therapies. It would be difficult to argue that networks of such communities would not stand an infinitely better chance of managing an outbreak than the current globalized paradigm.

And unlike centralized globalization that uses centralized NGOs to impose their global order on other nations and communities, localization done through open source online collaboration could be done in parallel around the world exponentially faster than centralized efforts.

This is a future only possible if people make the conscious decision to look locally and inward for solutions, rather than toward the top where demonstrable incompetence is now almost expected as an inevitability. That the outbreak of an otherwise containable disease has stirred such panic is not only an indictment against current leaders in government and global healthcare, but also against the heavily centralized, globalized system they preside over.

If humanity is to not only survive, but thrive, each individual must be able to reach their full potential. This will never happen when centralized special interests view the population as an ocean of potential competitors who they feel are better off left helpless, dependent, ignorant, and if necessary, prone to otherwise avoidable catastrophe if it means protecting their own position of power. The freedom and empowerment we need to break free from this current system will not be granted to us, but rather by necessity must be created by us.

If endless war and perpetual injustice have so far not spurred people into taking on this challenge, perhaps the outbreak of Ebola and its potential spread to the four corners of the globe will. The age of globalization will end one way or another. It is our choice whether it ends because it destroys us all, or because it is replaced by something far superior, truly progressive, and genuinely representative.

Mainstream Media A “No Fly Zone” For Truth

October 14th, 2014 by Brandon Turbeville

It just keeps coming. The pro-war propaganda touting the necessity of intervention and invasion of Syria and the attempt to paint President Bashar al-Assad as a villain and butcher shows no sign of letting up anytime soon, at least not until the goal of the destruction of the secular Syrian government is completed and the Anglo-American oligarchy turns its sights on Iran.

And why would it let up? Such is the nature of war propaganda. Its purpose is to goad a gullible public, made up of individuals who would, in ordinary circumstances, not desire war and, in virtually all circumstances, have nothing to gain from it, into supporting an unfounded, immoral, and costly military operation against a people who are very similar to themselves.

It is precisely because of this fact that the propaganda must be incessant and continual. With every report drumming up support for US military intervention in Syria and coloring every report of events taking place inside or surrounding the country, there is no article in any mainstream media outlet that does not make a series of unfounded claims and reinforce the propaganda narratives provided by the State Department.

Such is the case with an article posted by VOX on October 9, entitled “ Buffer Zones: the New International Plan For A Mini-Invasion Of Syria, Explained .” Although certainly not the only example of Western pro-war propaganda, it is certainly a perfect one to demonstrate how far the American people are being led astray by their supposed “fourth estate.

In its report, which is centered around the idea of buffer zones, a topic which a number of writers in the alternative media have been discussing since the very beginning of the crisis, Max Fisher writes,

The idea of a buffer zone is that some outside country or countries would occupy a little slice of Syria and turn it into a haven for displaced Syrians. The idea is being proposed in response to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)’s invasion of the Syrian town of Kobane, which is creating a refugee crisis along Turkey’s border.

Fischer continues his description of the plan for a buffer zone by writing,

The idea was to protect Syrian civilians from Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who was (and still is) slaughtering people en masse, by carving out small pieces of territory within Syria that would be safe from Assad. The idea now is fundamentally the same, except that the safe zones would be protect civilians from Assad and from ISIS.

Bullshit.

There has never been any evidence that Bashar al-Assad’s forces have ever intentionally targeted civilians. In fact, there never would have been a civilian crisis to begin with had the United States, NATO, and the GCC not funded death squads, terrorists, and mercenaries to create such a crisis in the service of attempting to overthrow Assad’s government.

The buffer zone will not turn into a haven for displaced Syrians. It will be turned into a haven for death squads and terrorists funded, armed, controlled, and directed by the United States, NATO, and the GCC.

Indeed, a “buffer zone,” in Northern Syria, has been a wish of NATO since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. With the establishment of this “buffer zone,” a new staging ground will be opened that allows terrorists such as ISIS and others the ability to conduct attacks even deeper inside Syria.

Working together with its NATO/GCC allies as well as the ever-present provocateur Israel, the United States is helping to create a buffer zone in the North and East of Syria while continuing to facilitate the opening of a “third front” on the Syrian border with Israel.

Such a strategy was discussed in 2012 by the Brookings Institution in its publication “ Assessing Options For Regime Change ,” where it stated

An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.

[...]

In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.

It is important to remember that the U.S. airstrikes and its attempts to create a “buffer zone” inside Syria are nothing more than a farce. The death squads running amok in Syria are themselves entirely creatures of NATO and they remain under NATO’s command. The true enemy of ISIS, Khorasan, and the cannibals of the Levant has always been and continues to be Bashar al-Assad.

Nevertheless, Fischer continues his propaganda spiel by stating that the idea of a “buffer zone” was “an idea that got heavy discussion in 2012, when it was raised by a number of foreign policy thinkers, including former State Department Director of Policy Planning Anne-Marie Slaughter, as a way to ease the killing in Syria.”

Again, Fischer’s statement is grotesquely false. Slaughter’s raising the idea of a buffer zone in Syria had nothing to do with a desire to “ease the killing in Syria” but a desire to increase it. Even more dangerous to the rest of the world, Slaughter’s idea was based on the desire to attack Russia using an attack on Syria as a proxy.

Slaughter’s op-eds, of course, betray an underlying reason for her obsessive warmongering against Syria – the strategic desire to weaken Russia. In this, Slaughter reveals herself as an adherent to the Brzezinski doctrine as it is espoused in The Grand Chessboard .[1] Even if Slaughter does not openly state her affinity for such a destructive and provocative foreign policy by name, her ideology is revealed by both her actions and her work.

Indeed, in her April, 2014 op-ed for Project Syndicate, entitled “ Stopping Russia Starts In Syria ,” Slaughter is nothing if not obvious about her offensive geopolitical targeting of the Russian Federation as well as that of China and Japan . She writes that

The solution to the crisis in Ukraine lies in part in Syria. It is time for US President Barack Obama to demonstrate that he can order the offensive use of force in circumstances other than secret drone attacks or covert operations. The result will change the strategic calculus not only in Damascus, but also in Moscow, not to mention Beijing and Tokyo.

Slaughter essentially argues that Putin is much too strong to inflict damaging geopolitical costs in Ukraine. She suggests that Putin is much weaker in Syria, however, and, therefore, it is Syria where the United States must strike. Slaughter states,

Regardless of Putin’s initial motivations, he is now operating in an environment in which he is quite certain of the parameters of play. He is weighing the value of further dismemberment of Ukraine, with some pieces either joining Russia or becoming Russian vassal states, against the pain of much stronger and more comprehensive economic sanctions. Western use of force, other than to send arms to a fairly hapless Ukrainian army, is not part of the equation.

That is a problem. In the case of Syria, the US, the world’s largest and most flexible military power, has chosen to negotiate with its hands tied behind its back for more than three years. This is no less of a mistake in the case of Russia, with a leader like Putin who measures himself and his fellow leaders in terms of crude machismo.

It is time to change Putin’s calculations, and Syria is the place to do it.

After repeating the tired, disproven, and borderline idiotic propaganda of Assad’s alleged “chemical weapons attacks,” “killing his own people,” and “barrel bombs,” Slaughter attempts to cover up what is nothing more than a geopolitical strategy as a humanitarian issue.

Slaughter laments the fact that “It is impossible to strike Syria legally so long as Russia sits on the United Nations Security Council, given its ability to veto any resolution authorizing the use of force.” However, she continues her article by stating that the United States should act anyway, unilaterally or multilaterally, by striking Syria and, at the very least, destroying its “fixed wing aircraft.”

The US, together with as many countries as will cooperate, could use force to eliminate Syria’s fixed-wing aircraft as a first step toward enforcing Resolution 2139. “Aerial bombardment would still likely continue via helicopter, but such a strike would announce immediately that the game has changed. After the strike, the US, France, and Britain should ask for the Security Council’s approval of the action taken, as they did after NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999,” she states.

Slaughter continued by writing,

Equally important, shots fired by the US in Syria will echo loudly in Russia. The great irony is that Putin is now seeking to do in Ukraine exactly what Assad has done so successfully: portray a legitimate political opposition as a gang of thugs and terrorists, while relying on provocations and lies to turn non-violent protest into violent attacks that then justify an armed response.

Slaughter, of course, was angry that the incessant and nonsensical propaganda of her former office, the US State Department, and other Western governments across the world largely failed to manufacture a string of lies that would serve to effectively motivate Americans to gear up for war yet again.

By no stretch of the imagination is Fischer and VOX’s blatant propaganda piece an isolated or especially significant presentation. The article is, however, representative of the incessant propaganda fed to Americans day in and day out. It is an example of just how far astray the general public in the United States has been led. It is also an example of just how discredited mainstream media and Western media outlets actually are.

Notes:

[1] Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives. 1st Edition. Basic Books. 1998.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andvolume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 300 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

Fox News, always ahead of the curve on panicking the general public into giving up all their rights, aired programming Monday during which an analyst openly called for quarantine camps to be set up all over the country to house those with Ebola like symptoms.

Fox contributor and former actress Stacey Dash called for the federal government to establish emergency centers to hold Americans in isolation, despite the fact that there have only been two confirmed cases of the ebola virus in the US.

“I think they should set up special centers for just Ebola in each state,” Dash said. “They shouldn’t be letting people go into regular hospitals, where it could be spread.”

“I just think that for this specific disease, we should have a special facility with specially trained people,” Dash added. “In each city. That way it’s not spread, and when the person walks in, they know what they’re looking for, they know if they find it, they know how to contain it. And they know how not to infect themselves.”

The controversial proposal comes in the wake of a string of calamitous errors in the handling of the Eric Duncan case, and disturbing revelations that US hospitals are woefully unprepared to deal with potential Ebola cases.

In Duncan’s case, up to 70 staffers at Texas Presbyterian Hospital were involved in caring for him, with one nurse now becoming the first person to be infected within the US.

In the same Fox News program, Comedian Paul Mecurio, who was also on the panel for some reason, supported Dash’s call for Ebola camps, stating “There’s a really bad health protocol throughout the United States right now, it’s called going to the hospital.”

The panel then clamoured for big government to step in and save America from Ebola, suggesting creating an Ebola czar and throwing former New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani’s name into the ring.

It is not that far fetched to imagine Ebola camps being set up. Indeed, it is only a step away from the current calls by U.S. and local health officials to set up dedicated hospitals in each state for Ebola patients.

“We’d like to have at least one hospital in every state that does feel they could manage a patient from start to finish,” said Abbigail Tumpey, the CDC official in charge of the education outreach. So far, the new system is only in the discussion stage, and one issue is that there are currently only four U.S. hospitals with top-level bio-containment units.”

As Infowars has noted, The CDC has instructed funeral homes to bury Ebola victims in hermetically sealed caskets, a potentially disturbing revelation given reports that the federal agency had previously purchased thousands of air tight coffin liners which were being stored in Madison, Georgia.

In addition, former Border Patrol Agent Zach Taylor has divulged that the CDC is working with Border Patrol authorities and the Department of Homeland Security to disappear potential Ebola victims attempting to cross the border into the United States, putting them into quarantine in an unknown location.

In August, former FDA official Scott Gottlieb, M.D. wrote in Forbes that the CDC will invoke powers to “hold a healthy person against his will” in the event of an Ebola outbreak, warning that the feds may assume “too much jurisdiction to detain people involuntarily,” leading to “spooky scenarios where people could be detained for long periods, merely on a suspicion they might have been exposed to some pathogen. And forced to submit to certain medical interventions to gain their freedom.”

An executive order signed by President Obama at the end of July also allows for the “apprehension, detention, or conditional release of individuals to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of suspected communicable diseases.”

Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

From West Africa to Texas: Ebola Outbreak Impacts the World

October 14th, 2014 by Abayomi Azikiwe

With the death of Thomas Eric Duncan in the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Oct. 8, the political dynamics of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak has taken on wider dimensions.

One nurse who was providing care for Duncan, Nina Pham, has tested positive for the virus and is being treated in Dallas. Hospital officials say that she was wearing protective gear while working with the deceased victim.

Relatives of Duncan say that he was not given proper attention at the hospital where he had been turned away on Sept. 25. Three days later he was admitted in a more serious condition which deteriorated to the point of being placed on breathing and dialysis machines.

The case of the Dallas nurse represented the first known transmission of EVD in the United States. In Spain, a nurse was reported to be in critical condition after contracting the infectious disease while treating a priest who was flown back to Madrid for hospitalization but later died.

Despite the defensive posture taken by the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in response to the criticisms leveled surrounding the care provided to Duncan, the facility was forced under public pressure to release the medical records of the deceased Liberian national. Based on information provided by the Associated Press, Duncan should have never been refused admission to the hospital on Sept. 25, particularly after informing personnel that he had recently travelled from Liberia, the center of the deadliest outbreak of Ebola since it was first acknowledged in 1976.

Societal Impact of the Spreading Outbreak

According to statistics provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), over 4,000 people have died from EVD since March. Most fatalities have occurred in three West African states: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Conakry. WHO figures report that 8,400 have fallen ill with EVD over the last seven months. (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/)

Data on other cases remain unsubstantiated but are based on projections from healthcare departments and hospitals in the West Africa region. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that tens of thousands of others in this region of West Africa could be infected if the outbreak is not halted and millions more have already been impacted socially and economically.

Reduced growth rates are anticipated in all three of the most impacted states. Mining firms, tourist and transportation industries are already stating that revenue losses will be substantive.

Workers Demonstrate, Strike Demanding Safety Measures and Protocols

Labor organizations representing healthcare workers and service employees have spoken out forcefully against what they perceive to be a lack of concern for the plight of those who are on the frontlines of the fight against EVD. From the earlier strikes by nurses in Liberia to the insistence of burial workers that they be given the necessary information as well as protective gear needed to safely dispose of deceased victims of the disease, workers are demanding action from their bosses in government and private industry.

On Oct. 13, Liberian nurses threatened to strike demanding more pay for working in hazardous conditions and to be supplied with the necessary protective gear. George Williams of the Health Workers Association representing 10,000 employees, with 1,000 providing services in the Ebola wards, accused the Liberian government of intimidating workers to return to their jobs. (Associated Press, Oct. 13)

Reports on participation in the strike varied with many news agencies saying the call for the work stoppage did not enjoy wide adherence while others indicated that in some areas attendance was lower than normal. The government in Monrovia said that a strike would further hamper the healthcare system’s capacity to provide treatment for patients.

Already many people have been turned away from hospitals and clinics due to lack of beds and trained personnel. Liberia has been the hardest hit in the EVD outbreak with more than 2,300 deaths reported.

Hundreds healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, have become infected with EVD and some have died. Others have refused to come to work because of the perceived dangers associated with treating infected patients.

The impact of EVD has also been felt in the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). In an article published on Oct. 12 in the Observer, it states that nine soldiers have already died from the disease.

“Following the death of the soldiers, and for fear of the further spread of Ebola in the army, regular daily training, a core activity of the military, has been suspended indefinitely. ‘We no longer train, neither do we receive visitors, nor are we allowed visits outside of the barracks,’ a soldier lamented when the Daily Observer toured the Kesselly Barracks over the weekend.”

An Associated Press article reported that “In Guinea, a private clinic which served much of the city’s elite, including many expatriates, stopped accepting new patients this weekend after a woman there showed symptoms of Ebola. The woman never went past the lobby of the clinic, a statement from the medical center in the capital Conakry said Monday (Oct. 13), and the area she was in has been disinfected and sealed off.”

In regard to Sierra Leone, the British government’s resumption of commercial flights into the country was cancelled on Oct. 13. The decision not to fly into the former colony of London drew protests from the government in Freetown and humanitarian organizations such as Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

“It’s extremely difficult to get much-needed staff into the region and at a time that we need more people on the ground than ever, this is very unhelpful,” said a MSF spokeswoman. The freight transport company Redcoat said that its scheduled Oct. 17 flight was designed to carry four tons of humanitarian assistance including 1,000 protective gear suits that are essential for treating infected patients. (Guardian, Oct. 13)

Gambia Bird, a German-owned airline, was scheduled to also transport 60 passengers on Oct. 17 from England to Sierra Leone. The airline has appealed the decision of the British government.

A spokesman for McPhillips Travel, Ben Mortimer, which represents the interests of Gambia Bird in Britain, said the cancellation of the flight was “an overreaction. The situation was bad on 26 September. It is worse now, but not much.” (Guardian, Oct. 13)

Mortimer went on to say that “We already had protocols in place as part of the permit in which they had the names and addresses of all passengers in the event they needed to trace people. This is much better than trying to screen people who are coming into the country from Europe or Morocco on an indirect route.”

Meanwhile in the U.S., a demonstration by Delta Airlines cabin cleaners and LaGuardia airport in New York City on Oct. 9 and a press conference held by the National Nurses United (NNU) three days later, highlighted the failure of the travel and healthcare industries to provide basic safety information, training and protective gear. With specific reference to the plight of nurses, the Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Thomas Frieden, suggested that the infection of the Dallas nurse was a result of not following medical protocols issued by the healthcare establishment.

In a press conference held by the NNU on Oct. 12, their leaders took exception to such an allegation. NNU officials said that no official medical protocols have been issued to the 185,000 healthcare workers they represent. (nationalnursesunited.org)

Frieden later retracted his statement on Oct. 13 but the damage had already been done. “I apologize if people thought I was criticizing the hospital,” the CDC director said at a press conference. “And I feel awful that a health care worker became infected while helping an Ebola patient.”

Place People Before Profits

However, decisions regarding healthcare treatment, workplace safety and insurance coverage in the U.S. are made largely by private firms that profit to the tune of billions of dollars every year. The lack adequate health insurance or no coverage at all, is a direct result of the character of the capitalist economic system.

In the West Africa region where EVD has been the most devastating, the underdevelopment of these states is a direct result of the legacies of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Imperialism has demanded that human needs related to employee safety, adequate healthcare personnel and facilities be subjected to what they perceive to be the larger priorities related to political domination and economic exploitation.

Until these priorities are re-oriented there will be ongoing periodic outbreaks of infectious diseases which will impact broad segments of societies throughout the world. In order to effectively halt the spread of such crises, the needs of people must be placed before those of the corporations and international financial institutions in Africa as well as other regions of the world.

The United Nations has become an Instrument of NATO

October 14th, 2014 by Ramsey Clark

What happens in the international community is not by chance, and what happened In Libya is not by chance, what is happening in Syria and Iran is not by chance. And what is happening in Syria and Iran?

Who is behind the acts of terrorism? What is behind the assassinations and murder of intellectuals and high-ranking officials in both countries? We are building up to what, exactly? And where is the truth in the international press?

As usual, the obedient press, along with the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has managed to come up with the same goods time and time again and so long as a gullible public, obediently swayed to where it is supposed to be by swallowing the tidy controlled media package daily, it is going to work: public opinion will acquiesce to the schemes of the arms and energy and banking lobbies which control Washington, and by proxy, NATO and the USA’s allies.

What you also do not know is that the squeaky-clean media package placed before you daily in your nice crisp newspaper or your TV News is the result of a process of sinister manipulation — brainwashing. How many people were informed of Colonel Gaddafi’s positive humanitarian record – for which he was to receive an award from the UN in March 2011?

Interview with Ramsey Clark

How many people knew he was spending his time trying to reduce casualties among the terrorists attacking his country to the minimum, negotiating with them before an attack took place? Who informed the readers that NATO broke the rules, broke international law, supported terrorists on their own proscribed lists and committed acts of murder and war crimes? Now let us move on to Syria and Iran.

Where are the stories about the mass acts of murder inside both countries, taking out Generals, strategists and high-ranking politicians and scientists? Who is perpetrating these evil deeds, who are these terrorists? Why are these acts being committed? The answer is perfectly simple. Syria is the last frontier between sanity and a balanced international community, a world ruled by the forces of right and reason and good, and the Satanic desires of the evil and invisible lobbies which are currently in power in Washington, and which in turn control the foreign policy of its allies.

We are speaking here of those responsible for torture, for maintaining concentration camps such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, those who urinate on dead, commit acts of sodomy on prisoners, those responsible for torture, for maintaining concentration camps such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, who detain persons without due process, without the right to a lawyer, to an accusation or a trial, who commit rape and murder, who break international law, who breach the UN Charter and Geneva Conventions and commit war crimes. And this same evil clique is now swinging into action in the Middle East.

First objective: Lebanon and Syria; second objective: The Islamic republic of Iran; third objective: the resources of Central Asia, leading to direct confrontation with Russia and the People’s Republic of China, which passes by installing Washington-friendly regimes in all these countries so that guess who can siphon off the resources? This is why Syria is the final frontier, this is why Syria must resist the intrusion of enslaved by NATO Arab League and this is why Syria must destroy the demonic elements running amok inside the country committing acts of arson, butchery, terrorism, vandalism, murder and torture.

It is not difficult to stir up trouble, take advantage of internal divisions, divide and rule and reap the consequences from the chaos that is sown. That is exactly what the West has been doing for hundreds of years and continues to do today. It has to do not with freedom and democracy – why did NATO not allow the Libyan Jamahiriya government to hold an election? It has to do with control of resources and guaranteeing that the US dollar is used as the international currency in major deals, and that includes oil. Why is it that when a country threatens to swap the USD for another currency in its dealings, it is invaded?

As for what we can do, the bottom line is keep informed and hold the politicians responsible for their actions. Democracy does have a fatal fault for those who try to manipulate it, and that is the fact that the power lies ultimately in the hands of the people. Bring international policy onto the political agenda and don’t let them lie to you and fool you about what is really going on. If you really feel your vote makes a difference, then create the conditions for this to be the case. Let us use citizen power to avoid World War Three. After all those who push for it, will their sons be on the front line? Would anyone survive?

Comments by Stop NATO Crimes

Listen to the radio show here

Transcript:

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: Last week, a new BBC documentary titled “Rwanda: The Untold Story” upended the world’s basic beliefs about what really happened during the Rwandan war and genocide of the 1990s..

The history that the documentary challenges is not legally enforced in the United States, as it is in Rwanda, but it is ideologically central to U.S. foreign policy. The bombing of both Libya and Syria were prefaced by U.S. officials’ urgent warnings that we must – quote unquote – “stop the next Rwanda.” KPFA’s Ann Garrison filed this report.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: With “Rwanda: The Untold Story,” the BBC became the first media outlet of its size and influence to radically challenge the received history of the Rwandan Genocide, which has become such a centerpiece of US and NATO interventionist policies.

The documentary opens with the question it attempts to answer.

Image: Most of the world knows the Rwandan Genocide as the story told in the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda. The new BBC documentary tells a radically different story.

BBC Host Jane Corbin: Rwanda, a country dominated by its dark history. The senseless barbarity of the genocide still shocks us. We think we know the story., but do we?

Alan Stam: What the world believes and what actually happened are quite different.

BBC: Rwanda’s ruled by President Kagame, regarded by many as the savior of his country. But what kind of man is Paul Kagame?

Kayumba Nyamwasa: We have a dictator. We have a man who is a serial killer, who enjoys killing his citizens.  

BBC: He’s a man with powerful friends.  

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair: The President of Rwanda is someone I’ve got a lot of respect for, a lot of time for, and I think he has got a vision for the country.

Filip Reyntjens: Their closeness is a closeness with what I call the most important war criminal in office today.

BBC:: Twenty years on from the genocide, what is the truth about Rwanda?  

KPFA: University of Michigan Professor Alan Stam, who did ten years of research in Rwanda with Notre Dame Professor Christian Davenport, contradicts the most basic statistics recounted in the Wikipedia and parroted by journalists for the past 20 years.

Image: University of Michigan Professor Allan Stam on the BBC

Alan Stam: If a million people died in Rwanda, in 1994, and that’s certainly possible, there’s no way that the majority of them could be Tutsi.

BBC: How do you know that?  

Stam: Because there weren’t enough Tutsi in the country.

BBC: The academics calculated there had been 500,000 Tutsis before the conflict in Rwanda. Three hundred thousand survived. This led them to their final, controversial conclusion.

Stam: If a million Rwandans died, and 200,000 of them were Tutsi, that means 800,000 of them were Hutu.

BBC: That’s completely the opposite of what the world believes happened in the Rwandan Genocide.

Stam: What the world believes and what actually happened are quite different.

BBC: Estimates of the number of Tutsis and Hutus killed during the genocide vary greatly. The Rwandan government asserts there were far more Tutsi in the country to begin with, and that nearly all of those who died were Tutsis. When Stam and Davenport presented their findings, they were told to leave Rwanda, accused of being genocide deniers.

Stam: We have never denied that a genocide happened.. We don’t deny a genocide happened. But that’s only part of the story.

KPFA: The BBC documentary only hints at US and UK complicity in what happened, and in the cover-up, by reporting that Rwandan President Paul Kagame has very powerful friends, including Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. And by noting that the US military trained General Paul Kagame, just before he led the 1990 invasion of Rwanda from Uganda, because they noted, quote unquote “his military potential.”

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

The BBC video is available at http://vimeo.com/107867605.

Rwanda’s Untold Story Documentary from RDI-Rwanda Rwiza on Vimeo.

As a consequence of the corporate mass media’s blackout of the news about Israeli crimes against humanity; as a consequence of the International Criminal Court’s cowardly disregard of crimes committed by Israeli leaders while instead charging Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta with crimes against humanity; and as a consequence of the West’s Israeli orchestrated preoccupation with the necessity to wage war against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) — which came into being with covert encouragement and assistance from the real axis of evil of the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia — Israel’s latest barbaric assault euphemistically codenamed Operation Protective Edge but in reality intended to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people, has been quietly and quickly forgotten.

Collective corporate mass media amnesia comes as no surprise considering that in the U.S. alone 90% of what Americans read, watch and listen to is controlled by just six corporations whose combined revenue in 2010 was $275.9 billion. Furthermore, all six of those corporations like for example Rupert Murdoch’s [not the actual] News Corp (Fox News, Wall Street Journal, and New York Post) have Israeli aligned global news tentacles that distort, mislead, and even suppress the true facts. Mass media bias towards Israel is even prevalent at the supposedly dispassionate and honest taxpayer funded BBC where coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires finding “a balance” that is in actual fact strongly tilted towards Israel.

As part of its “balance” the BBC’s director of television, Danny Cohen (surprise, surprise), has announced plans to air a series of special programs next year that will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The programs are to be broadcast around Holocaust industry Memorial Day on January 27, 2015 and will range from interviews with survivors of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau camp to a new drama about the 1961 trial in Israel of Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann who was seized in Argentina by Israeli agents and smuggled back to Israel on an El Al airliner. Cohen’s announcement was welcomed with “We are delighted that the BBC will be ensuring that Holocaust Memorial Day is marked by the widest possible audience,” declared Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. The question is have fine Jewish people of status like Olivia felt the slightest twinge of conscience over the recent horrific images coming from the Gaza Strip as a result Israel’s Operation Protective Edge: an operation that had Israeli Jews chanting “tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left.”?

Such passionate racist hate can only beget hate from the victims and global condemnation form compassionate people. But are such reactions anti-Semitic or simply the consequence of Apartheid Israel’s incitement to genocide of the Palestinian people who — contrary to what Israeli Jews keep telling us — are human beings and not beasts; are a people in their own right; and do exist on their own land with an inalienable entitlement as follows:

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Israel is a signatory but from which it is apparently exempt from respecting because of the Holocaust.

Will BBC viewers be watching programs at any time in the near future that document the atrocities perpetrated against the Palestinians by an Apartheid Israeli war criminal state that fine people like Olivia Marks-Woldman unconditionally support? No doubt force-feeding “the widest possible audience” of gullible gentiles with memories of the genocide of Jews by the Nazis helps to offset current condemnation of the equally abhorrent genocide of Palestinians by Jews.

“Israelis and American Jews fully agree that the memory of the Holocaust is an indispensable weapon — one that must be used relentlessly against their common enemy … Jewish organisations and individuals thus labor continuously to remind the world of it. In America, the perpetuation of the Holocaust memory is now a $100-million-a-year enterprise, part of which is government funded.”

According to Israeli author Moshe Leshem, the expansion of Israeli power is commensurate with the expansion of the “Holocaust” propaganda.1

Last month the Russell Tribunal (comprised of international law experts) announced that Israel was guilty of “incitement to genocide,” and that Israel’s long-term collective punishment of Palestinians seemed to be designed to “inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group.” Despite that announcement of what has been obvious for decades (not short-term occupation, but long-term extermination), the International Criminal Court has maintained its usual avoidance of pursuing the big fish — like Henry Kissinger, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, Barack Obama, and many others including equally indictable Israeli leaders such as Benjamin Netanyahu — while concentrating on minnows like Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta who became the first sitting head of state to appear before the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in unleashing a wave of post-election violence during 2007-08.

Uhuru (Swahili for “freedom”) whose alleged guilt is far from being as obvious as that of Israeli leaders, is the son of Jomo Kenyatta “the founding father” who led Kenya from its independence in 1963 until his death in 1978. Independent Kenya, like most post-colonial nations, was also the beneficiary of colonialism’s main legacy of injustice and corruption of which Jomo had personal experience at his trial along five others accused of managing the Mau Mau. The accused appeared before Mr. Justice Thacker, a man who practiced his profession in the same self-serving mould as that of Tony Blair, the war criminal “Middle East Peace Envoy.” Thacker accepted a bribe of £20,000 (a small fortune in those days) from the Governor of Kenya, Evelyn Baring, 1st Baron Howick of Glendale, who wanted to ensure that Thacker would find the accused guilty. Also according to Baring, “Every possible effort has been made to offer them [the witnesses] rewards and to protect them but no one can tell what will really happen when they are confronted in court by Kenyatta’s formidable personality …” One witness did in fact subsequently recant, admit he had been bribed, and was convicted of perjury.

After finding the accused guilty at the end of the trial, “Justice” Thacker — who had also unashamedly asked for an honour from the Queen but was refused — then fled the country on the first available flight. As an aside to this tale of unbridled corruption of justice, Ngina Kenyatta — widow of Jomo and mother of Uhuru — is the fourth richest woman in Africa with a net worth of $500 million while the majority of Kenyans exist in abject poverty. For most African people the only notable difference between colonial and post-colonial rule has been the colour change of their corrupt political exploiters from white to black.

The West’s current Israeli-inspired and U.S.-led fabricated necessity for waging war against ISIS is not a recent development but part of a long-established strategy promoted by Israeli sponsored U.S. neoconservatives who ensure the constant existence of Islamic enemies so as to justify costly and never ending wars that ultimately benefit Israel through the destruction of surrounding Arab neighbour infrastructures. The creation of ISIS arose from the necessity to replace the old Islamic ogre of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda with a new one.

In March 2007, General Wesley Clark, a retired 4-star U.S. Army general and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO during the 1999 War on Yugoslavia, had the following to say in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now:

So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, ‘Are we still going to war with Iraq?’ And he said, ‘Oh, it’s worse than that.’ He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, ‘I just got this down from upstairs’ — meaning the Secretary of Defence’s office — ‘today.’ And he said, ‘This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.’ I said, ‘Is it classified?’ He said, ‘Yes, sir.’ I said, ‘Well, don’t show it to me.’ And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, ‘You remember that?’ He said, ‘Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you.’

General Clark’s allegation is amply substantiated by recent Israeli-inspired and U.S.-led conflicts in the Middle East and provides proof that plans for such conflicts were already in place long before the justification for them had even been fabricated. Such Middle East conflicts serve to benefit Israel in three ways: the first is to destabilise and fragment but preferably destroy surrounding Arab states; the second is to achieve the first by getting Western nations at their taxpayers expense to bear all the cost and do the fighting; and the third is to have such conflicts serve as a distraction from Zionist Apartheid Israel’s lying, cheating, stealing, double-crossing, and killing along with all its other barbaric violations of international law including human rights.

Concerned, decent, and responsible people everywhere must relentlessly demand honest and impartial media coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict which must not be overlooked or forgotten until Palestinians receive justice and reparations for the decades of heinous crimes perpetrated against them by Israeli Jews; they must resolutely resist the Anglo-Zionist Political Corporate Military Industrial Empire’s voracious dependency on continual military conflict that maintains the status quo of almost half the world’s wealth belonging to just one percent of the population; and they must unconditionally insist that the ICC fully fulfils its charter as described in the Rome Statute’s Preamble by charging Israeli leaders with the crimes that everybody knows they have been guilty of committing.

Israeli Jews have every right to have a “world of their own” if they want, but not on ethnically cleansed Palestinian land and at the expense of goyim taxpayers.

William Hanna is a freelance writer with a recently published book the Hiramic Brotherhood of the Third Temple. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Read other articles by William, or visit William’s website.

Notes:

1. Balaam’s Curse: How Israel Lost its Way, and How it Can find it Again, Simon & Schuster, 1989. []

The U.S. government purchased sixteen transport planes for the Afghan Air Force at the cost of $500 million; those planes have now been destroyed by Afghan military and sold for scrap parts at six cents per pound. Congressional leaders are working to determine why taxpayer money was wasted on this failed program. Instead of finding another use for them, sixteen of the airplanes were transported to a remote corner of the Kabul airport and sold by the Defense Logistics Agency for scrap at a price of six cents per pound.

The Defense Department purchased for the Afghan military 20 G222 military transport planes at a total cost of $486 million dollars. The fleet was grounded last March “after sustained, serious performance, maintenance, and spare parts problems” according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The IG wrote a letter to Secretary Hagel saying:

“It has come to my attention that the sixteen G222s at Kabul were recently towed to the far side of the airport and scrapped by the Defense Logistics Agency,”

“I was also informed that an Afghan construction company paid approximately 6 cents a pound for the scrapped planes, which came to a total of $32,000,”

“I am concerned that the officials responsible for planning and executing the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars.”

The aircraft was sitting abandoned on the tarmac at Kabul International Airport, the AAF decided to destroy sixteen of the planes and sell the scrap metal for six cents per pound. The SIGAR intended to inspect the aircraft but was caught off guard by the sudden destruction of the fleet. SIGAR is most concerned by the notion that U.S. officials did not consider any other options before destroying the planes at a high cost to the taxpayers. SIGAR has sent two letters to the Defense Department. Currently only four G222s from the program are still in existence, they are housed at Ramstein Air Base.

Nuclear War Could Be Near, According to Nobel Laureate

October 13th, 2014 by Martin Sieff

The United States and Russia are dangerously close to stumbling into a war over Ukraine that could go nuclear and kill hundreds of millions of people in a single day, a Nobel laureate who is one of the world’s leading experts on the dangers of nuclear weapons warned in Washington this week.

“It’s an incredibly dangerous situation. … If there’s a nuclear war tonight, that’s the Northern Hemisphere (of the entire world) gone, Dr. Helen Caldicott told a National Press Club Newsmakers news conference on Wednesday. She was speaking on the topic: “Ukraine: Is Nuclear Conflict Likely?”

Caldicott is an Australian physician who founded the International Physicians against Nuclear War, a group that under her leadership won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. She is the former president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute based in Washington

The expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders is “very, very dangerous,” Caldicott said.

“There is no way a war between the United States and Russia could start and not go nuclear. … The United States and Russia have enormous stockpiles of these weapons. Together they have 94 percent of all the 16,300 nuclear weapons in the world.”

“We are in a very fallible, very dangerous situation operated by mere mortals,” she warned. “The nuclear weapons, are sitting there, thousands of them. They are ready to be used.”

Image: The crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane sits near the village of Rozsypne, Ukraine. (Screenshot)

Caldicott strongly criticized Obama administration policymakers for their actions in forward positioning U.S. and NATO military units in countries of Eastern Europe in response to Russian support of breakaway separatists in the provinces of eastern Ukraine. On –, the U.S. government announced the deployment of the Ironhorse Brigade, an elite armored cavalry unit of the U.S. Army to the former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, along the historic invasion route from the West to St. Petersburg.

“Do they really want a nuclear war with Russia?” she asked “The only war that you can have with Russia is a nuclear war. … You don’t provoke paranoid countries armed with nuclear weapons.”

Caldicott said U.S. policymakers appeared oblivious to rising Russian fears as successive U.S. presidents and their administrations continued to break the security guarantees that President George Herbert walker Bush and his secretary of state James A. Baker had given to last Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at the end of the Cold War.

“The United States has broken the guarantees it gave to Gorbachev before the breakup of the Soviet Union when it promised not to expand NATO to Russia’s borders,” Caldicott said.

“Imagine if the roles were reversed and if Russia (provoked a coup in Ottawa and) took over Canada. What would the U.S. reaction be?” Caldicott asked.

“(In 1962) we nearly had a nuclear world war over Cuba and Ukraine is a lot bigger (and more important) than Cuba,” she said.

Caldicott said she disagreed with the widespread criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin over his support for Eastern Ukrainian separatists.

“Putin … I think he is being very restrained at the moment,” she said. “… Putin is trying to defend himself. He has the support of most Russians. The Russians are a proud and patriotic people.”

Image: Dr. Helen Caldicott (Wikipedia)

Caldicott also warned that another flare up of the civil war in Ukraine could threaten catastrophic meltdowns of the many nuclear power stations in the country, risking millions of lives.

“Ukraine has 15 large nuclear power plants,” she said.

“Any conventional weapon going into any one of them would set off a meltdown on the scale of Chernobyl in 1986. The most recent studies have shown that more than a million people have died from the after-effects of the Chernobyl melt-down.”

“Nuclear reactors are cancer factories and nuclear bomb factories; each reactor makes 500 pounds of plutonium a year (It’s made when a U238 (Uranium 238) atom captures a neutron) It takes only 10 pounds of plutonium to make a nuclear weapon.”

“Japan has got 40 tons of plutonium in its stockpiles. That means Japan could become a major nuclear military power in a matter of weeks if it wanted to,”

she added.

Even a limited nuclear exchange would have devastating economic and environmental consequences on the world, Caldicott warned.

“If a single thermonuclear weapon, or hydrogen bomb, is exploded into space it would knock out all electronic communications in at least six Westernized states for months,” she said.

But such a nuclear exchange, once initiated, would certainly get out of control rapidly, she added.

“The United States and Russia (between them) have 94 percent of the 16,400 nuclear weapons in the world,” she added.“Albert Einstein was right: The splitting of the atom changed everything, it changed all reality – except for the way men think,”

Caldicott said.

Caldicott was scathingly critical of the mainstream U.S. media for ignoring the real risks of a nuclear exchange.

“The mass media has a huge role to play. The media is being absolutely irresponsible,” she said. “Mr. Jefferson said a well-informed public was essential to the successful functioning of a democracy. But this democracy is thoroughly ill-informed.”

“We all practice psychic numbing. We are lemmings. We are all into manic denial,” she added.

“The real issue facing us is the continuation of life on the planet. There is a complete lack of knowledge among the general public and their leaders about this threat,” Caldicott added.

Caldicott expressed sympathy for U.S. President Barack Obama but said he had been “overwhelmed’ by the crises facing him. “We’ve got a good man, but the pressures have overwhelmed him. Obama has been overwhelmed by the pressures,” she said.

“I pity Obama, he’s got so much on his plate,” she said.

Caldicott noted that the world had just passed the centenary of the start of World War I, but the forces and problems that caused it remained the same today.

“You know how the First World War started 100 years ago: One person shot an archduke. The pride of the leaders and generals of the great nations did the rest: They went to war,” she said. “Human fallibility was a major cause then. It is just as common today. All kinds of things can cause very dangerous (developments) in the world.”

Monsters are the stuff of legend, but they rarely exist in splendid isolation.  They have reasons to be, be it by script or oral tradition.  In politics, where monsters perform a theatrical necessity – they are the wicked ones who must be defeated – origins are often neglected.  The evolution of various revolutionary and jihadi groups has its links to finance and rhetoric from all sides of the diplomatic round table; to backers and the punters in the Middle East and to the West.  The Islamic State has proven to be no exception.

Arms may have a distinct, metallic smell, but no conscience, whatever the mystics of the National Rifle Association believe. Weapons are not spiritual, and are not reposed with the magic of miraculous wonder.  They will find their way into any owner and acquirer keen to use them on targets.  The recent discussions about how the Islamic State is getting both its finance and its arms is interesting only in stating an obvious point: arms and armaments will, when required, be used.  There will be those who buy, and those who seize.

In the words of Fouad al-Ghuraibi, commander of the Kafr Owaid’s Martyr’s Brigade in Northern Syria, “When battling against the Syrian Army, ISIS chooses to fight in a specific battle on a specific front only when the investment is appealing: there will be warehouses to capture.”[1]  IS operates as much as a combat force as it does in a financial sense: pilfer at minimum cost.

This becomes ever more acute in the chess game of supplying unstable, mutable regimes – the US efforts, for example, to arm an Iraqi army it so foolishly disarmed in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion.  Having removed authoritarian regimes, only to replace them with creakily corrupt ones, the failed state syndrome has become something of a Washington sponsored pandemic through the Middle East and North Africa.  Supply such regimes at your own, and the region’s, risk.

A study by the Conflict of Armament Research (CAR) of more than 1,700 shells used by Islamic State forces in the Kurdish regions of Syria and Iraq found that 20 per cent were manufactured in the United States.[2]  There were other states as well – the former Soviet Union and China, Serbia, Sudan and North Korea.

The study provides a vulgar and unflattering glimpse of the arms industry spanning 21 countries.  The brand name WOLF, for instance, is given to the products of the US-based Sporting Supplies International, Inc., which is also in the business of marketing Russian Federation products.  In the world of armaments, there are only colleagues in purse strings and intended targets, exemplified by the fact that SSI also markets products to US civilians.  Killing, in short, is both domestic and international in business and scope, and it if crudely fitting that Syrian Kurds are being killed just as US citizens are being pulverised in their own, ill-governed backyard.

More than 300 US manufactured cartridges from the 2000s were found by the CAR study.  “IS forces appear to have acquired a large part of their current arsenal from stocks seized from, or abandoned by, Iraqi defence and security forces.  The US gifted much of this materiel to Iraq.”

Then come such countries as Iran, with manufactured ammunition between 2006 and 2013 appearing in the samples.  This has its roots, as much as anything else, in the fact that Syrian arms depots will invariably have Iranian supplied munitions.  Those keen in monitoring the arms market may point to various UN Security Council resolutions restricting such  a transfer but the old problem remains one of false logic.  While recipients might be “vetted”, arms can, on their own accord never be.  In that sense, all countries in the business are implicated.

Such vetting fictions can be found in the language of the Obama administration towards Syrian rebels, or at the very least the “right” sort of rebel Washington bureaucrats might take to tea.  That plan to supply some 5,000 Syrian rebels with weapons and training in facilities in Saudi Arabia passed 273-156 in September.[3]  It is governed by a bucket full of fallacies about shoring up one set of groups against another, while invariably adding more armaments to what has been described as a “dog’s breakfast” of a conflict.

It should also inspire little confidence that the Central Intelligence Agency, which has proven to be astonishingly inept in its deployments in the region, has been given that onerous, and ultimately impossible task, of vetting and anointing the fighters.

Other countries are also muscling in on the arms market, seeing chances to make decent returns even as the body bags rise in number.  Sudan features prominently, providing weapons to clients in Africa and, more recently, the Middle East.  Nothing grows better than a small armaments industry – cheap to make, easy to sell.

There are no morality tales to this, other than to show that the arms industry continues to be the greatest winner in the games of aspiring caliphate upstarts and moralistic democracies keen to keep revolution in check.  Even as talk of stabilising and control remain on the lips of the world’s diplomats, the only real conversation taking place is that of the bullet and the shell.

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

Notes:

Iran and Russia plan to establish a joint bank as an effort to multiply bilateral trade and bypass sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s banking sector.

Head of the Iran-Russia Joint Chamber of Commerce Asadollah Asgaroladi said that Tehran and Moscow are studying the possibilities of opening a new chapter in trade relations that could break the domination of Western currencies over bilateral exchanges.

“Since Russian banks fear the implications of working with Iran due to sanctions, we want to establish the joint Iran-Russia bank with the help of our central banks and private sectors,” Asgaroladi said.

“Such a bank would be able to exchange money between the two sides using rials and rubles and put aside dollars, euros and pounds,” he added.

Unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran’s banking sector by the US and the European Union over Tehran’s nuclear energy program and the recent Western bans against Russia over Ukraine have prompted the two countries’ trade officials to boost economic cooperation.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have held four meetings on different occasions after the Iranian president took office in 2013.

“We are responsible for our nation’s prosperity. Before the sanctions, we had 150 billion euros of deposits in the banks of West and Europe. When they sanctioned us, we transferred the money to other countries exactly where they don’t want to be,” Asgaroladi said.

Iran’s Minister of Economy Ali Tayyeb-Nia said the Islamic Republic has already traded with some of its partners through the exchange of national currencies and will welcome the plan to establish the joint bank with Russia.

“I’m glad that our country is less dependent on several currencies and this process will continue in the future,” Tayyeb-Nia said.

In September, Iran and Russia agreed to use national currencies in bilateral trade.

The West and Russia can’t seem to get over their differences, with the tensions between the Washington and Kremlin changing the stakes for the whole world. How far would this confrontation go? Is there another Cold War coming? And finally, will the world once again know the horror of a Nuclear War looming over the humanity? We ask these questions to a prominent American scholar on Russian studies, Professor at New York University and Princeton University. Stephen Cohen is on Sophie&Co today.

Censorship Alert: the Alternative Media Harassed by the NSA

October 13th, 2014 by Dr. Christof Lehmann

Google’s Safe Browsing List, which blocks websites and flags them as containing malware, is increasingly used as a mechanism for the censoring of independent media and the falsification of history. It is an alarming development that, left unchallenged, puts the survival of any independent newspaper, blog, TV or radio station at risk. Over the past months the list has apparently been used to target websites critical of U.S.’ involvement in the wars in the Middle East, U.S.’ involvement in Ukraine and independent media who are publishing material that is critical of Zionism.

Google’s Safe Browsing List translates into the blocking of websites which allegedly contain malware. Instead of showing the website one is presented with a red-colored Google page that warns that the URL in question has been blocked because it contains malware. Ultimately, being flagged on the list can also result in the removal of the flagged websites from Google’s search engine. Being flagged, blocked or removed from search engines can have devastating results for independent journalists and media who are struggling to finance investigative journalism, rather than regurgitating alternative versions of Reuters and other major news agencies. The targeting of independent media and journalists is especially noteworthy when one considers Google’s close cooperation with the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA).

Incestuous Relationships between Google, Apple, Microsoft, their Subsidiaries, and the NSA.

Google’s close cooperation with the NSA is a well-documented fact. An article from May 7, entitled ”Is Google in cahoots with the NSA? Email leak reveals close relationship”, published in Tech Times, reveals that the close cooperation between Google and the NSA was documented long before NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden told the world what most who cared to investigate already knew. The article quotes emails between NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt from 2011 and 2012. Tech Times states:

”In the mails, the Google executives sound friendly and cooperative. Alexander’s emails hint at the importance of ´Google’s participation in refinement, engineering and deployment of solutions`to cyber threats”.

The article also details the fact that the NSA chief had invited CEOs of key companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft to classified briefings. What is important about these three key corporations cooperation with the NSA is that they are economically interrelated with most other, commercial Internet providers, including web-hosting companies, firms which provide Internet security products, as well as advertising companies who sell advertising on everything from blogs over smaller independent media to major corporate newspapers. The following are recent examples, which demonstrate how this incestuous relationship translates into the targeting of independent media, censorship and the falsification of history.

October 6, nsnbc received an e-mail from the Internet security provider SiteLock, warning that there was a serious malware issue pertaining to some articles published on nsnbc. SiteLock stressed that the issue had to be resolved within 72 hours if nsnbc international wanted to avoid being added to Google’s Safe Browsing List and have the site withdrawn from nsnbc’s web-host, which among many other web hosts is a business partner of Site Lock.

So what was the alleged threat  and what is the real threat – to the USA?

A full security scan conducted by nsnbc with the newspaper’s own security software revealed that several articles had been flagged as containing malware. Among them were six articles which had been published on the renown independent on-line newspaper Voltairenet. All of the articles which had been flagged as containing malware dealt with illegal U.S. Involvement in the Syria war and illegal U.S. Involvement in Ukraine.

Another article that was flagged as containing malware was the article ”Palestine Israel History and Theirstory”. The article was originally published in nsnbc and it has been republished in numerous other independent media, including the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), Sabbah Report, and about 100 independent blogs. The reason why this particular article was flagged as containing malware was that it contained a link to the publication ”Der Ewige Jude”, a racist, supremacist propaganda book published by the German Nazi Party during WWII.. The article documents the systematic dehumanization of Arabs by Zionists and Hollywood, and compares the dehumanization with that which the Nazis practiced against Jews and Slavic people.

Our scan further revealed that an article by the Bangkok based, independent analyst, editor of Land Destroyer Report, and contributor to New Eastern Outlook, nsnbc and others, Tony Cartalucci, also was on the list of flagged articles. The article is entitled ”America’s Nazis in Kiev: ”Russians are Subhuman”. The article was published in New Eastern Outlook, and was republished in LandDestroyer and nsnbc international. Tony Cartalucci demonstrates the Nazi ideology of post-coup Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatzenyuk by quoting Yatzenyuk, and referring to the Nazi pamphlet ”Der Untermensch”, so one could understand that Yatzenyuk’s quote directly reflects the racist and supremacist ideology that was spread in ”Der Untermensch”, which translates into ”The Subhuman”. Also here, nsnbc had to remove the URL to the pamphlet and any media that continues carrying the URL risks, knowingly or not, to be added to Google’s ”Safe Browsing List” to have the newspaper’s, journal’s or blogs website flagged as containing malware, and to be removed or at the very least significantly down-graded in Google’s search engine.

The real threat is, in other words, the threat that direct U.S. Collaboration with terrorists in Syria and Nazis in Ukraine is disclosed to a growing number of readers who have become suspicious about the accuracy of mainstream, corporate, state and foundation funded media. nsnbc did not respond to the initial SiteLock email but received a second email from SiteLock, late at night on October 8. In the mail SiteLock’s Website Security Consultant Hubert Robinson wrote:

”My name is Hugh with SiteLock I recently left you a message regarding the status of your web domain, nsnbc.me During a recent SiteLock security scan of your website, malware was detected that could jeopardize the safety of your website and your data. I wanted to reach out before Google blacklist the site or before your Hosting provider pulls the site down for being infected. …. Please contact me immediately at 602-753-3929, so that I can help you secure your website as soon as possible”.

We conducted an additional security scan with nsnbc’s own software and didn’t identify additional ”threats”, other than those articles by Voltairenet, nsnbc, Land Destroyer Report and New Eastern Outlook which documented U.S.’ collaboration with wanted Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria and Iraq, the article that documented that Zionist and Nazi ideology in large parts are identical, and the article which disclosed the Nazi ideology of Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatzenyuk whom the U.S.’ administration attempts to pass off as ”house trained”.

After nsnbc had de-activated the links to the URLs which allegedly contain malware, nsnbc wrote three mails to SiteLock’s Website Security Consultant Huge Grant, asking, among others, whether they could be more specific about which malware the flagged sites allegedly contained. We also asked whether SiteLock has a direct or indirect corporate partnership with Google, and for the name and contact details of SiteLock’s CEO. SiteLock failed to respond. SiteLock also failed to inform nsnbc whether the deactivation of the flagged URL’s was ”sufficient” or whether they perceived other ”threats” to our ”security”.

Infecting Independent Media with Malware via Add Companies.

In February 2014, nsnbc was suddenly taken off-line and flagged as containing malware by Google’s Safe Browsing List. The incident occurred about 20 minutes after nsnbc published an article entitled ”US’ Victoria Nuland about Ukraine ´Fuck the EU`. The article contained a covertly recorded and leaked phone conversation between the U.S. State Department’s Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. The conversation revealed that the U.S.’ was directly involved in the micro-management of the coup d’état in Ukraine.

nsnbc immediately investigated the reason for the closure of the newspaper’s website. The result of the investigation was that nsnbc’s at that time advertising partner, MadAdsMedia, which is heavily economically dependent on cooperation with Google and Google’s AdSense, had inserted an add that contained a Java Script with malware”. Contacting MadAdsMedia resulted in their consultant explaining that they were ”terribly sorry for the incident and any inconvenience it had caused us, assured that they were removing the add that contained malware and advised us how to contact Google to have the newspaper removed from Google’s Safe Browsing List”.

nsnbc contacted MadAdsMedia and politely asked whether they would be so kind to send us detailed information about which add it was that had contained the malware, and documentation for who it was that had placed the malware, and on which websites. MadAdsMedia failed to respond to at least three polite reminders by email and several phone calls. What MadAdsMedia did, however, was to inform nsnbc that it had decided not to serve any adds to nsnbc any longer and that they had moved us to another company whom we could contact if we wanted. In practical terms, the incident translates into this:

A minor advertising company that is heavily dependent on serving adds via a partnership with Google denies to answer justified questions and responds to the audacity to continue asking them by withdrawing an independent newspaper’s only source of income, from one day to the other, without prior notice.

Facebook’s ”soft” censorship?

On September 5, New Eastern Outlook contributor and editor of Land Destroyer, Tony Cartalucci, published an article entitled ”Beware: Facebook’s ´Soft Censorship`”. Cartalucci stressed that Land Destroyer Report had maintained a Facebook page under the name Anthony Cartalucci since 2009. Many of the readers of Land Destroyer Report used Facebook as a means of accessing the LD Report’s articles. Tony Cartalucci wrote:

”Today, Facebook, without prior warning or opportunity to appeal, decided that the Facebook account must be changed over to a page. By doing so, all those following my account no longer would receive updates, because of Facebook’s ´news feeds`filter”.

Note that one of Tony Cartalucci’s articles also was among those flagged by SiteLock as containing malware. Moreover, Tony Cartalucci’s experience with Facebook’s ”soft censorship” as he described it, is not unprecedented. Two of nsnbc editor Christof Lehmann’s Facebook accounts were closed or blocked by Facebook within a period of less than twelve months. The accounts were not only used personally, but as a basis for a nsnbc Facebook page – one of that type Facebook demanded that Tony Cartalucci should open.

Facebook’s way of blocking these two accounts were simple. Facebook demanded that a large number of ”friend’s” profile photos were matched with the correct names of these ”friends”. Now, consider 1,000 ”friends or followers”, and many of them using anything but their own portrait as profile photo. It is needless to say that solving that ”quiz” is impossible.

A concerted U.S.’ effort to censor, target independent media economically, withdraw their reader base, and falsify history.

Let us sum up some of the main issues. The incestuous relationship between the NSA and major corporations like Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft is a well-documented fact. Many of the smaller companies, including web-hosting companies, Internet security providers, and advertising companies are either in part owned by one of these major corporations ore they are heavily dependent on cooperation and partnerships with them for their economic survival. nsnbc has already experienced being closed down and have its only source of income withdrawn from one day to the other. Others, including Voltairenet have regularly been flagged as containing malware. Media like New Eastern Outlook, IMEMC, and others risk being targeted in similar manner. Others whom Google and a U.S. Senate Hearing falsely accused of containing malware are The Drudge Report and Infowars. One can only guess how many of the smaller blogs, who are too small to raise alarm bells have been targeted. The conclusion is that the United States is engaged in an aggressive campaign that targets independent media and falsifies history. The question is, whether independent media have the political will to stand united in addressing the problem and in using the fact that they serve a growing part of , for example, the advertising market as leverage.

Dr. Christof Lehmann an independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and the founder and editor in chief of nsnbc, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

“There are two thousand political prisoners. We spoke to people in Yalta who said you can’t even go on facebook and make a friend of somebody who is suspected…SUSPECTED, not accused or proven, of being a supporter of the resistance without being jailed. I met somebody who’s girlfriend had been jailed for twelve years for facebook-friending somebody who was a member of the resistance. That’s not a democracy. So, the way that the story is being told, just again and again, doesn’t have a relation to what’s going on on the ground.” -Alan Freeman, Economist who participated in the July 2014 anti-war conference in Yalta

 ”In the Western media discourse, Russia is the Indians, the bad guys who must be kept separate and apart. Indeed, at this stage Marvel Comics are more nuanced in their superhero stories than much of the EU and US press and that’s saying a lot. United Artists, and later MGM’s, representation of Bond movie Russian villains had nothing on this.” -Bryan MacDonald, journalist

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Ever since the Maidan protests of nearly a year ago, the Western media depiction of events in Ukraine appears to have been subjected to intense distortion and conspicuous omissions.

As detailed on this website, the popular uprisings that ultimately served to overthrow the government of Viktor Yanukovych got substantial assistance from the US and NGOs like the National Endowment for Democracy.

There has furthermore been a downplaying of the involvement of Neo-Nazi elements within the protests and in the government which replaced Yanukovych.

There is also the complete censorship by the Canadian press of the Odessa Massacre and evidence that pro-Ukraine protesters brutally murdered people in the city’s Trade Union Hall.

In the first half of this week’s Global Research News Hour, we examine the demonstrable deceptions proliferating through Western media of events in Ukraine and why this continues to happen. The guests are Konstantin Goulich, a University of Manitoba student originally from Russia, and Alan Freeman, visiting professor at the London Metropolitan University now living in Winnipeg, who recently attended an anti-war conference in Yalta. Both are working on an on-line media platform aiming to bring accurate information from the war-torn region.

Roger Annis is a Vancouver-based writer and anti-war activist who attended the Yalta conference. He appears in the second half of the show. He elaborates on the Cold War propaganda dominating the discussion around the Ukraine situation and its resemblances to the propganda of thirty years ago. He addresses the legitimacy of the Crimean referendum. Annis also details the state of the anti-war movement in Ukraine currently, and the involvement of some elements of the Euromaidan movement which are particpating in that movement.

Roger Annis’s website is www.rogerannis.com 

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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:

CHLY 101.7fm 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 –1  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.

CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario. Tune in Wednesdays from 12am to 1am.

L’ambiguità della NATO

October 13th, 2014 by Valentin Vasilescu

Una volta superata la propaganda delirante che invase i media romeni dopo il vertice NATO in Galles, i romeni iniziano a capire che Basescu ha sempre bluffato. Il comando tattico proposto e ottenuto dalla Romania non ha alcun significato militare. In realtà è un raduno di 25-30 ufficiali della NATO che scarabocchiano e giocano con le carte di piani operativi inutili. Questo comando tattico senza truppe (come quelli che saranno attuati in Polonia e Paesi baltici), è subordinato a un altro comando operativo della NATO in Italia. La decisione di finanziare, costruire ed usare equipaggiamenti militari, munizioni e soldati in tali presunte basi militari della NATO in Europa deve rispettare gli interessi statunitensi sotto l’egida dell’USEUCOM-Europa, responsabile delle operazioni militari dell’US Army nel teatro europeo. Ciò è stato affrontato in questo articolo.

La decisione annunciata da Rasmussen, al vertice della NATO, non corrisponde affatto all’ultima affermazione del generale Philip Breedlove, comandante della NATO in Europa, secondo cui: “La Russia potrebbe condurre incursioni militari nella Repubblica di Moldavia e nella regione separatista moldava di Transnistria“. Ma tale sottigliezza non è stata notata in un Paese come la Romania, ancora considerato “alleato strategico”, semplicemente perché non ha idea delle decisioni del Congresso sulla ristrutturazione del Pentagono, con una riduzione significativa della spesa militare annuale nel 2012-2020. La decisione promulgata dal presidente degli Stati Uniti per salvare 487 miliardi di dollari ha già avuto effetti dal 2012 ad oggi. Le forze di terra statunitensi sono già state ridotte da 45000 soldati e marines a circa 10000 soldati. Ciò, per il Pentagono, consiste nel graduale ritiro di circa 7000 soldati statunitensi dall’Europa entro il 2020. Così, l’esercito statunitense in Germania è stato ridotto di tre brigate corazzate e una di fanteria Stryker, dotata del LAV-25 Stryker, derivato dal Piranha III.

L’esercito in Italia si riassume nella 173.ma brigata aeroportata della forza di reazione rapida. Il tenente-generale Donald Campbell, ex-comandante del III Corpo d’Armata, l’unità più potente dello schieramento statunitense, nel 2013 divenuto comandante dell’esercito in Europa (US Army Europe), ha chiaramente spiegato alla stampa la missione affidatagli: mantenere solo 7 grandi basi militari in Europa delle 12 esistenti nel 2010. Il piano di ristrutturazione porta alla chiusura imminente della caserma di Heidelberg, in Germania. Secondo lo stesso piano di ristrutturazione, la guarnigione statunitense di Mannheim e le basi di Schweinfurt e Bamberga saranno chiuse e rimosse nel 2015. L’USEUCOM non supererà l’attuale livello massimo di 32000 truppe di stanza sul continente europeo. Piuttosto, il loro numero dovrebbe essere ridotto di 2000 uomini entro il 2017. Campbell ha anche ricordato che il Pentagono ha abbandonato i piani per costruire basi militari in Romania e Bulgaria, oltre alla base Deveselu per lo scudo ABM.

L’United States Air Forces in Europa è stata ridotta a sei squadroni compositi (aerei multiruolo, da trasporto, da rifornimento, sorveglianza ed elicotteri): uno in Germania, due in Italia e tre nel Regno Unito). Come risultato di tali tagli di bilancio, i restanti 20 aerei da attacco al suolo A-10 Thunderbolt dell’81.mo squadrone della Spangdahlem Air Base in Germania, sono stati rimpatriati negli USA a fine 2013. Secondo il piano del Pentagono, nel 2014-2017 più di 500 aerei saranno ritirati, tra cui 8 velivoli da trasporto pesante C-5 Galaxy, 16 C-17 Globemaster III, 30 C-130 Hercules e 16 aerei-cisterna KC-135 Stratotanker, riducendo notevolmente la possibilità di schierare una forza di reazione rapida degli Stati Uniti.

L’analisi della natura politica del proposte di Anders Fogh Rasmussen al vertice in Galles non potrebbe essere più evidente. Soprattutto che la NATO non è solo un’alleanza politico-militare creata dagli Stati Uniti. Avevo già scritto che nel Pacifico occidentale gli Stati Uniti avviano il trattato ANZUS e vari altri trattati militari con gli Stati vicini la Cina, divenuti per gli statunitensi più importanti della NATO. Ecco perché gli Stati Uniti valutano la creazione di uno schieramento aeronavale e terrestre del comando militare del Pacifico (USPACOM) nella regione occidentale del Pacifico, dispiegando come truppe supplementari 200000 soldati statunitensi. Parte di tali soldati apparteneva poco prima all’USEUCOM. Nelle conclusioni del mio articolo dicevo, “dunque, le dichiarazioni ufficiali dei leader della NATO, soprattutto statunitensi, sulla creazione di cinque nuove basi NATO in Europa sono semplici favole. Chi non capisce dove va il mondo, affidandosi alla NATO e quindi non creando un esercito moderno appositamente dedito alla difesa del territorio, avrà presto brutte sorprese“.

A differenza dei rumeni, Aleksandr Grusko, ambasciatore russo presso la NATO sa tutto ciò. In una dichiarazione in cui era evidente l’enorme sforzo per non ridere, Grusko ha detto, “una base militare attualmente in costruzione in Romania è una seria sfida alla sicurezza della Russia e Mosca è molto preoccupata per le attività della NATO nel Mar Nero“. Come ho già scritto il 28 agosto 2014 il sottomarino diesel-elettrico Novorossijsk, classe Varshavjanka (Projekt 636.3/877), è stato consegnato alla flotta russa del Mar Nero. Un mese o due più tardi sarà affiancato dal gemello Rostov-na-Donu e seguito da altri quattro sottomarini della stessa classe, per la flotta russa del Mar Nero. Soprannominati “buchi neri” dalla NATO perché non possono essere rilevati, questi sottomarini hanno la capacità di monitorare segretamente tutte le navi, francesi, statunitensi o canadesi inviate nel Mar Nero. Le ultime esercitazioni navali dalla NATO nel nord-ovest del Mar Nero, “Sea Breeze 2014“, raccolsero 12 navi da guerra di Ucraina e NATO. I marinai della fregata canadese Toronto poterono verificare l’affidabilità delle componenti di 35-40 anni dei missili lanciati dal caccia-sottomarini Ternopol, ammiraglia della flotta ucraina.

Tra le navi della NATO parteciparono all’esercitazione c’era una delle due fregate Type 22 romene, denominate “Pattuglia di Pace”, 10 anni fa acquistate dai rottamatori inglesi; sono sempre attive.

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Otan militaires

Le double langage de l’OTAN aux alliés européens

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio – SitoAurora

NATO and Turkey do not have legal grounds to overtly make a declaration of war on Syria, which would have very considerable additional legal implications.

Instead they continue to duck and dive all over the place to try and find some sort of legal cover to hide behind, in their continuing efforts to try and illegally overthrow the Syrian government.

It is abundantly apparent that the entire US/EU ‘news’ media are helping the US/EU governments try to duck and dive from the rule of law.

Image: Fars News Agency: Kurdish Community stage protest against ISIL, Turkey, on Westminster Bridge, in London.

NATO and Turkey quite properly are utterly exposed as not caring at all about human life, every single day they not only refuse to work with the legitimate Syrian government, but continue trying to illegally overthrow the legitimate Syrian government.

363 Israeli public figures have signed a letter to the Members of the British Parliament, calling upon them to vote in favor of British recognition of a Palestinian State, to be created side-by-side with Israel.  

The letter was handed on Sunday noon to representatives of the British MP’s supporting the motion, due to be voted tomorrow (Monday). The Israeli letter was initiated by Dr. Alon Liel, former Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry; Prof. Amiram Goldblum, a founder of the Peace Now movement; and Yehuda Shaul of “Breaking the Silence”.

The letter reads:

“We, Israelis who worry and care for the well-being of the state of Israel, believe that the long-term existence and security of Israel depends on the long-term existence and security of a Palestinian state. For this reason we, the undersigned, urge members of the UK Parliament to vote in favor of the motion to be debated on Monday 13th October 2014, calling on the British Government to recognize the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel “.

Signatories include:

Nobel Prize Laureate (Economics) Daniel Kahneman
Six Laureates of the Israel Prize – Professors Alice Levy, David Har’el, Shimon Sandbank, Yehoshua Kolodny, Yona Rosenfeld and Yoram Bilu;
Two former ministers – Ran Cohen and Yossi Sarid, as well as four former Knesset Members – Uri Avnery, Yael Dayan, Mossi Raz and Naomi Chazan;
Former Ambassador and Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Dr. Alon Liel, as well as former Ambassador Ilan Baruch;
Gen. (ret.) Emanuel Shaked, former of the Paratooper Corps;
Former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair;
Four writers – Yehoshua Sobol, Yehudit Kafri, Savyon Liebrecht and Amos Mokadi;
Professor Rafi Walden, Deputy Ditector of the Shiba Hospital and Chair of “Physicians for Human Rights”
Yuval Rahamim, Co-Chair of “Bereaved Families for Palestinian-Israeli Peace” and the grouop’s founder Yitzhak Frankenthal;

As well as many residents of Gaza border communities and other peace and social rights activists.

As the world pays close attention to the war on terror with ISIS in the Middle East, the ongoing civil war in the Ukraine and the spread of Ebola that began in West Africa, another war has been silently extended for another year with hardly any media coverage especially in the U.S. It is not a war on a new terrorist organization called ‘Khorasan’ or any other group; it is Washington’s long economic war on Cuba which has been an ongoing policy of every administration that has occupied the Whitehouse since 1960. But the New York Times is quick to point out that “a rising tide of Cubans in rickety, cobbled-together boats is fleeing the island and showing up in the waters off Florida.” Adding what Ted Henke, A Cuba Scholar at Baruch College at the City University of New York had said blaming the Cuban government’s economic policies “Washington should be worried about the increase in migration, because it demonstrates that Cuba’s recent economic reforms have failed to help the majority of Cubans, making the nation vulnerable to a catastrophic event.”Completely ignoring the US embargo’s effects it has on the economy.

Just like his predecessors before him, U.S. President Barack H. Obama extended the US embargo or as they call it in Cuba “El Bloqueo” for another year as reported by Venezuela’s Telesur news network last month. Cuba responded by denouncing Obama’s actions at the United Nations. The report titled ‘Cuba denounces extension of US blockade’ stated what Cuban officials had said about the extension of the embargo:

Diplomats from the Caribbean island said the main goal of the U.S. embargo is to inflict pain and suffering upon the Cuban people. Cuba denounced this Wednesday at the United Nations President Barack Obama’s decision to extend the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed on the island for another year, claiming it is in the “national interest of the United States

It’s amazing how Obama can flip-flop on specific issues with a straight face. According to the Washington Post, in 2004, when Obama was an Illinois State Senator, he did say that “I think it’s time for us to end the embargo in Cuba.” Of course Obama’s was trying to score political points among potential voters when he was running for a seat in the U.S. Senate when he called for an end to the US embargo against Cuba. He went on to say in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Southern Illinois University why he opposed the embargo and that US interests should focus on fighting terrorism and economic growth. As Obama continued his rhetoric

“and I think that we have to end it because if you think about what’s happening internationally our planet is shrinking, and our biggest foreign policy challenge — and it fits directly into the battle on terrorism and it fits into issues of trade and our economy — is how we make sure that other countries, in developing nations, are providing sustenance for their people, human rights for their people, a basic structure of government for their people that it’s stable and secure so that they can be part in a brighter future for the entire planet.”

Obama said that US foreign policy towards Cuba was a failure because it did not remove Fidel Castro from power nor did it help the Cuban people in any meaningful way which is obvious. “And the Cuban embargo has failed to provide the source of raising standards of living and it has squeezed the innocents in Cuba,” Obama continued “and utterly failed in the effort to overthrow Castro, who’s now have been there since I was born. So, it’s time for us to acknowledge that that particular policy has failed.” The Washington Post also reported that Obama was Speaking to a Cuban American audience in Miami, Florida in 2007 as a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party and said that he would not “take off the embargo” as president because it is “an important inducement for change.” Why not? He had to win the hearts and minds of the right-wing Cubans in Florida who have traditionally voted for the Republican Party since President John F. Kennedy failed to overthrow Castro during the ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion. Many Cubans of the younger generation have been shifting their votes to the Democratic Party in recent years. However, Malaysia’s national news agency, Bernama reported how the Obama administration strengthened the sanctions with harsher penalties against institutions that do business with Cuba. The article ‘US Blockade of Cuba Intensified under Pres Obama’ explains:

The US blockade against Cuba was intensified during President Barack Obama’s administration with the increased persecution of financial institutions which have business relations with the island. Andres Zaldivar, a researcher of the Center for the Study of Global Economy said in a video conference on the topic that the measures were part of the implementation of Obama’s “smart power” policy.

From 2010 to 2014, out of the 130 extraterritorial actions carried out against the island, 81 were in the financial sector and 38 institutions were fined with the astronomical amount of more than US$11.4 billion, he added. He stressed that sanctions are imposed even to US allies, like the recent US$8.9 billion fine to the French bank BNP Paribas

The online website www.havanatimes.org published statements made by the Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno in 2013 who introduced Cuba’s annual report on the impact of the embargo when he said “Despite Obama’s promise of a new beginning with Cuba, nothing has changed and intensified in the persecution of all who make financial transactions.” Democracy Now also reported Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez’s response to the Obama Administration’s actions:

The State Department has again included Cuba in its unilateral and arbitrary list of states that sponsor international terrorism. Its true purpose is to increase the persecution of our international financial transactions in the whole world and justify the blockade policy. Under the present administration, there has been an unprecedented tightening of extraterritorial character of the blockade, with a remarkable and unheard-of emphasis on financial transactions through the imposition of multi-million fines on banking institutions of third countries

The idea of imposing an embargo was to isolate Cuba’s diplomatic and economic relationships with governments around the world whom many allied with the United States. Then the embargo would have direct consequences on the Cuban people allowing them to develop an animosity against their government. This would then enable them to overthrow the government because of their dire economic situation which was caused by Washington’s policies in the first place. Washington’s goal was to destroy the Cuban economy to produce a new government similar to Fidel Castro’s predecessor, Dictator Fulgencio Batista.

This past April, The Associated Press (AP) reported that Washington plotted to destabilize the Cuban government through a ‘Cuban Twitter’ feed through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID is an agency that was created through an executive order under President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The twitter program was called ‘ZunZuneo’, developed by USAID in 2010 to promote a counter-revolution against the Cuban government. This should be no surprise considering Washington’s appetite for destabilizing nations in the Middle East and in Latin America. The Associated Press also reported a story titled ‘US sent Latin youth undercover in anti-Cuba ploy’ which describes how USAID attempted to create a revolution against the Cuban government:

Over at least two years, the U.S. Agency for International Development — best known for overseeing billions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid — sent nearly a dozen neophytes from Venezuela, Costa Rica and Peru to gin up opposition in Cuba

The report also described one of the Latin Americans named Fernando Murillo who was involved in the US plot as he was “deployed by a U.S. agency to work undercover in Cuba. He had little training in the dangers of clandestine operations — or how to evade one of the world’s most sophisticated counter-intelligence services.” According to the report, USAID re-hired a Washington-based company called Creative Associates International who was the creator of ‘ZunZuneo’ to form the clandestine program. It was “The same company was central to the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” — a messaging network revealed in April by the Associated Press, designed to reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans.” USAID recruited “young operatives” to pose as tourists with low pay so that they themselves can possibly recruit Cuban students to turn on their government:

According to internal documents obtained by the AP and interviews in six countries, USAID’s young operatives posed as tourists, visited college campuses and used a ruse that could undermine USAID’s credibility in critical health work around the world: An HIV-prevention workshop one called the “perfect excuse” to recruit political activists, according to a report by Murillo’s group. For all the risks, some travelers were paid as little as $5.41 an hour

USAID split the groups for various missions:

While Murillo and the Costa Rican travelers focused on the HIV workshop and other programs, teams of Venezuelans and Peruvians were deployed to Cuba’s college campuses. Their mission, documents and interviews show, was to recruit university students with the long-term goal of turning them against their government

Since the ‘ZunZuneo’ project failed, the Obama administration decided to extend the embargo for another year. According to the Telesur report

“In an official statement the Cuban mission to the U.N. said that the main goal of the blockade, which is in force since the early 1960s, is to cause pain and suffering of the people of Cuba, besides causing losses to the country of about US$115 billion.”

The Costa Rican News also reported in a story titled ‘Despite Appeals Obama Extends Cuba’s Trade Embargo for Another Year’ that

“The renewal of the Act on Trading with the Enemy, which prohibits American companies to do business with the island, has a routine nature and Obama’s predecessors have also extended it annually. The law against Trading with the Enemy, which dates from 1917 and was approved in light of American entry into World War I, forbids American companies from trading with hostile countries.”

There were more than 600 failed assassination attempts according to Cuban intelligence reports on Fidel Castro, including the ‘Bay of Pigs’ Invasion orchestrated by Washington and anti-Castro groups, many of whom were the elite’s of the Batista Era. Many Cubans settled in Florida and New Jersey after Fidel Castro and his supporters overthrew Batista. Terrorists’ attacks on Cuba were frequent including the bombing of the Cubana de Aviacion airliner back in 1976 that killed 78 people by CIA-linked anti-Castro Cuban exiles such as Orlando Bosch (died in 2011 while in exile in Miami) and Posada Carriles (also still resides in Miami) with the Venezuelan secret police known as the DISIP (Bolivarian Secret Police). Cuba accused the US government for the attack. In 2005 CIA documents released indicated that the agency “had concrete advance intelligence, as early as June 1976, on plans by Cuban exile terrorist groups to bomb a Cubana airliner.” Posada Carriles who by the way is a former CIA operative stated in his book ‘Caminos del Guerrero’ (Way of the Warrior) the details of the incident. So Cuba is the Hostile country?

The Costa Rican News noted how Washington had imposed harsher sanctions on Cuba since the 1990’s as a way to influence the Cuban population to revolt against the Castro government. It stated that “This was the law that was used to enforce the economic embargo against Cuba, but has been expanded and enhanced with other American laws, like Torricelli in 1992, preventing the shipment of food to Cuba with the exception of humanitarian aid or the Helms Burton in 1996.”

In 1992, when the Cuban Democracy Act which began under (R-TX) George H.W. Bush and ending up signed into law under Bill Clinton banning all food and medicine in route to Cuba allowing only for humanitarian aid. Since 1992, the United and Israel and a handful of other countries has voted not to end the blockade of Cuba. The Cuban Democracy Act or the “Torricelli Law” named after former Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli who introduced the act was passed in 1992 which prohibited U.S. companies from trading with Cuba. It also prohibited travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens and prevented family remittances to Cuba. It was described as “a bill to promote a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba through the application of sanctions directed at the Castro government and support for the Cuban people.” By 1996, the Cuban Liberty and Democracy Solidarity Act also known as the Helms-Burton Act penalized foreign companies that conducted business transactions in Cuba were prevented from doing any form of business on U.S. territory. The European Union did not agree with the Helms-Burton act because it allowed Washington to dictate to the world who can trade with Cuba. American farmers and agricultural companies were also not in favor of the act because it affected trade. It added pressure on Washington to ease the harsh sanctions. By October 2000, Washington had eased the embargo through the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act with congressional approval which was later signed by President Bill Clinton as it allowed the sale of agricultural goods and medicine to Cuba for humanitarian purposes.

Washington Long History of Economic Embargos against Cuba

Originally, the U.S. imposed an arms embargo in March 1958 due to Cuba’s civil war between the Cuban Rebels led by Fidel Castro and the Batista regime. In July 1960, after the Castro government seized U.S. properties, Washington decided to reduce Cuba’s sugar imports under the Sugar Act of 1948. It was the beginning of the embargo, or one can call it a new economic war on Cuba. The former Soviet Union stepped in at the time and purchased Cuban sugar as the Castro government continued to nationalize American businesses and properties. Washington’s arms embargo ignited an economic war, one that followed up with more embargos that harmed Cuba’s economy. ‘U.S. Economic sanctions against Cuba: objectives of an imperialist policy’ by Salim Lamrani author and lecturer at La Sorbonne University in Paris wrote:

The Cold War context, used for thirty years as a pretext legitimizing U.S. animosity towards Cuba, was actually a fraud since there are no facts to support this theory. If there had been any foundations to this thesis, the United States would have normalized its relations with Cuba after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Instead of that, Washington launched a new and more serious wave of economic sanctions with the Torricelli Act in 1992 and the Helms-Burton Act in 1996. As the ancient paradigm departed this life in 1991, a new one was created. Now it is no more about containing communism but about “re-establishing democracy” in Cuba, a “democracy” devoted to the interests of Washington. No matter if it is ruled by a clone of Gerardo Machado or Fulgencio Batista: what’s important is that it should make of its subordination to the United States its main virtue.

Lamrani also summarized the history of countries that were either for or against Washington’s economic sanctions since the start of the Cuban Democracy Act in 1992:

Number of countries opposing the blockade Number of countries against the end of the blockade Countries voting against the end of the blockade

1992 59 3 United States, Israel, Romania

1993 88 4 United States, Israel, Albania, Paraguay

1994 101 2 United States, Israel

1995 117 3 United States, Israel, Uzbekistan

1996 137 2 United States, Israel

1997 147 3 United States, Israel, Uzbekistan

1998 157 3 United States, Israel, Marshall Islands

1999 155 2 United States, Israel

2000 167 3 United States, Israel, Marshall Islands

2001 167 3 United States, Israel, Marshall Islands

2002 173 3 United States, Israel, Marshall Islands

2003 179 3 United States, Israel, Marshall Islands

The United States and Israel consistently voted in favor of the U.S. embargo since the Torricelli Act was passed. A handful of states who also voted in favor were either allies or governments that were bribed, blackmailed or forced to vote yes to enforce the embargo on Cuba. Washington’s strategy was not just based on economics, it was also based on violent actions that included assassination attempts and US sponsored invasions that all failed. It did force Castro to take drastic security measures at home. The embargo only created an atmosphere of security concerns for Cuba after the Castro-led revolution against former Dictator Fulgencio Bastista. The US government has been actively targeting the Cuban government with a 54 year embargo. It has not changed any political outcome according to Washington’s strategy. It has been a failure not only to Washington and its allies, but to the Cuban people who have been suffering through needed medicines and imports Cuba does not have. The achievements of Cuba’s healthcare system and its food security have been successful under Castro despite the U.S. embargo that has banned everything except of course non-subsidized sales of food staples and medicine.

The Cuban government faces continues threats by Washington. Acts of subversion against groups are paid for by US sponsored non-government organizations (NGO’s). Washington strategy has been covertly used against the Castro government. Castro did not allow Cuba to be governed democratically since Cuba was at war with the United States so he decided with the support of the majority of Cuban people not to hold elections, allow dissent or any opposition against the state of Cuba. The London-based Amnesty International reported the Cuban government’s crackdown on dissent in the past although it maintains the argument that “Foreign Agents” threatens its national security. The revelations of USAID’s ‘ZunZuneo’ program to destabilize Cuba, who can argue with the Cuban governments concerns? Other violations made by Amnesty International accuses the Cuban government of arresting dissidents, holding unfair trials and capital punishment in cases that involve armed hijackings although the Cuban government had placed a moratorium on the death penalty back in 2001. It is fair to say that Amnesty International report on Cuba’s human rights issues may be true in some cases, it’s is important to note that the U.S. embargo made only matters worse for the Cuban government as Washington’s attempt to topple its government continued under numerous threats of invasions, bombings and economic sabotage. Amnesty International’s report concerning Cuba’s human rights record admitted that “The economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba has served as an ongoing justification for Cuban state repression and has contributed to a climate in which human rights violations occur.” An important element Amnesty international did not include on their report concerning Cuba’s human rights is the fact that the United States government has been working relentlessly to destabilize Cuba since the 1959 revolution. The US and Human Rights Watch among others has criticized Cuba’s human rights record. It is important to understand that Cubans do enjoy their rights many Americans in the U.S. don’t have and that is the right to food security, housing, medical care, and education. The media remains under state control and general elections are only held for municipal, provincial and national candidates. Saul Landau, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies wrote an article called ‘Cuba: Human Rights Again?’ and said:

Washington’s real issue relates to Cuban disobedience of its policies — not human rights. In fact, Cubans enjoy substantive rights American citizens don’t: food, housing, medical care, and education. Cuba falls short on procedural rights regarding press and political parties

If Washington really cared about human rights as in the case of Saudi Arabia (who won’t even allow women to apply for driver’s licenses) and other Gulf States would have been sanctioned long ago.

Interestingly, Raul Castro and his administration are starting to change direction economically where it is looking to develop a new form of economy at a subtle pace. Lifting an inhumane trade embargo would allow Cuba to open for business and opportunity for the people. Would they open for business worldwide including the West? Yes. Castro’s brand of Communism was the unintended consequence of US foreign policy that has tried to destabilize the Castro government by an economic blockade. Cuba can establish a new economic model that respects human dignity. US economic control over the Caribbean continues to weaken as its own economy continues to decline. Puerto Rico has been under Washington’s Democratic and economic policies since the Spanish-American war (known as the Spanish-Cuban-American War in Cuba). Recently, the Padilla government announced that they would consider legalizing marijuana and prostitution. I could understand creating a marijuana industry especial for its health benefits, but legalizing prostitution for more tax revenue will literally turn the Puerto Rican government into “tax pimps”. Ironically speaking, that is funny. But that was what Castro was concerned about, a fascist-capitalist model under Fulgencio Batista and his mafia friends with Washington’s approval exploit the Cuban people. Reuters reported in 2001 on specific comments Castro made concerning prostitution in Cuba:

Once known as “the brothel of the Caribbean” due to its reputation as a haven for rich Americans looking for sex, gambling and a swinging nightlife, Cuba drastically cleaned up society after Castro’s 1959 revolution. But the problem came back at the start of the 1990s against a backdrop of increased economic hardship for locals, and an opening to tourism which brought foreigners flooding back.

“The situation was very tough,” Castro said, in what was only his second reference to prostitution in public following a January 1998, speech where he declared war on various growing vices, including prostitution, drugs and violent crime. “Some people were coming here with ideas of sexual tourism … There were cases of what we call ‘jineterismo’,” he said, using a Cuban slang word for street-hustling and prostitution. ‘Perfecting our methods’ “We began taking adequate measures to combat these outbreaks. And we are still perfecting our methods … We understand this problem, and our methods are human,” Castro added, saying “advances” were expected.

Castro gave no figures this time, whereas he had laced his 1998 speech with statistics like the fact that more than 6,700 prostitutes and around 190 pimps were rounded up in Havana in the first 11 months of that year

Ending the embargo is the only solution to Cuba’s economic woes. Change must come from within, not outside forces. The twitter incident of ‘ZunZuneo’ only reinforces the belief that the United States is still trying to undermine the Cuban government. Change comes from within. It has to be dynamic in a sense. A foreign country imposing change with their form of democracy only leads to resentment and anger. Cuba’s political outcome was predictable. Cuba will find its own way. Cuba’s history and culture is dynamic and that will never change no matter what Washington tries to do. Cuba is a sovereign nation, not a colony as several of its neighbors throughout the Caribbean including Puerto Rico. Washington’s endless crusade to overthrow the Castro government will not change anytime soon. So in a sense, Cuba is still stuck between a rock and a hard place. US-Cuba relations will not change either at least until the embargo has ended, until then; expect more political tension in the years to come.

Fidel Castro is a legend and history will “absolve” him, no question about that. He will live in the Cuban people’s hearts and minds as a revolutionary leader who defied an empire over his nation’s sovereignty. In fact, his legacy will endure all over the world. But times are changing, and so is the Cuban government. The Cuban government and its people are clearly moving in a different direction economically; especially after President Raul Castro economic reforms according to the Associated Press “About 455,000 islanders are currently running or working for private small businesses as a result of the reforms, and about 450 new non-agricultural cooperatives are operating autonomously.” Cuba wants its sovereignty respected as any other nation. They also understand that the world’s economy will experience a pivot into a different direction. What path Cuba would have chosen? What if Washington had not imposed economic sanctions on Cuba? What type of society would Cuba have become? It would have been sure interesting. But we would never know. What we do know is that Washington’s relentless crusade against Cuban Independence had prevented any progress of Cuba’s political situation. Fidel Castro saw what Washington and the Fascist Dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and his Mob friends did to the Cuban people. He grew up to despise the elite. How could the Cuban government liberalize its political process under an aggressive foreign power that would love turn the country into a US corporate dominated –gambling casino filled with drugs (perhaps freshly imported heroin from Afghanistan, courtesy of the US military as Geraldo Rivera of Fox news reported) and prostitutes? That was where Cuba was headed to. Fidel and Raul Castro share a concern that was and still is legitimate. Cuba wants to sustain itself for its future generations. The US and Israel are the main forces that are preventing any political progress that affects the Cuban people. Salim Lamrani sums up what Washington’s intentions are, and that is to take control of Cuba. He wrote:

The roots of the blockade date back not to 1959 but to the beginning of the 19th century since U.S. imperialists have always wanted to take hold of Cuba. In 1902, a U.S. bookstore distributed a map of Cuba under the title: “Our New Colony: Cuba” . The United States will do whatever is in its power to go back to that pre-revolutionary situation, to make Cuba become another Puerto Rico, Haiti or Dominican Republic, places in which the wealth of a minority stands out in sharp contrast with the poverty of the majority and where U.S. multinationals make staggering profits. It will also unflaggingly cling to the same voluble and outdated arguments that its representatives keep on repeating

The only country in the Caribbean that is not under Washington’s dictate is Cuba. Cuba will continue to resist the empire despite the U.S. embargo. Even the affluent Cuban-American Community in Florida has been increasingly calling for an end to the blockade, because it has not produced any positive results. This past June, A Florida International University Poll found that “Seventy-one percent said the embargo is not working at all or not very well.” With a 54 year embargo and the aggressive empire to its north, the Cuban economy will continue to feel the consequences imposed by Washington’s ruthless behavior. Cuba may be independent and not under Washington’s thumb, but it is been held hostage, 54 years and counting.

Palestinians Torn over Contact with Israelis

October 13th, 2014 by Jonathan Cook

A Palestinian university’s decision to bar from its campus an Israeli journalist and outspoken critic of the occupation has exposed a growing rift among Palestinian activists about the merits of contact with Jewish Israelis.

Staff at Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah in the West Bank, ordered Amira Hass, a reporter for the Israeli daily Haaretz newspaper, to leave a public conference late last month. She was told it was for her own “safety” in case students protested against her presence.

Hass, who has lived among Palestinians in the occupied territories for many years, is a rare critical voice against the occupation in the Israeli media. Her articles translated in Haaretz’s English edition are widely read outside Israel.

Bir Zeit’s decision has provoked a heated debate among Palestinian intellectuals, students and activists about how far refusal to cooperate with Israelis should extend.

Observers say hostility towards Israeli Jews of all political stripes has become more pronounced among some Palestinian youth over the past few years. The trend is especially strong in Ramallah, where many Bir Zeit students live.

However, a petition circulated on social media against Hass’ exclusion quickly attracted signatures from hundreds of Palestinian scholars, who noted that she was a “courageous human rights defender”. In a column in Al-Ayyam newspaper, Ghassan Zaqtan, a prominent poet, called Hass’ treatment “shameful”.

Meanwhile, Israeli political activists have been left wondering whether, if the next generation of Palestinians rejects all joint endeavours, they have a place either in the struggle against the occupation or in a solution to the conflict.

South Africa or Algeria?

“The question is whether Palestinians want a South African model of an inclusive solution that offers a shared future for Palestinians and Israelis, or an Algerian model of exclusion,” said Jeff Halper, the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, an Israeli group that campaigns against the demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories.

Referring to the expulsion of French colonists from Algeria in the early 1960s, he said: “Increasingly, it sounds like the Palestinian view is that this is another Algeria. If Israelis are simply colonial settlers, then we have no right to remain here.”

In a report for her newspaper, Hass wrote that other notable Israeli dissidents, such as Ilan Pappe, an historian who characterises the dispossession of Palestinians in 1948 as ethnic cleansing, had in the past been forced to hold talks off campus.

She said university staff had told her they were enforcing a regulation from the mid-1990s intended to create a “safe space” for students.

For decades, the Israeli army has targeted Bir Zeit, the most prestigious place of learning in the West Bank and a hotbed of political activism, harassing and arresting students and staff.

According to the Israeli media, more than 1,000 Palestinian students have been arrested by Israel since 2000, with most of them from Bir Zeit. That number includes three former heads of the student council. In 2009 alone, 83 students from the university were arrested or jailed.

Matthew Kalman, a reporter specialising in education issues, wrote in Haaretz: “Just about every Palestinian university in the West Bank has stories of nighttime IDF [Israel Defense Forces] raids, campus teargas attacks and random arrests and intimidation.”

Arrests and torture

Omar Barghouti, a prominent activist in the boycott movement in Ramallah, said he opposed exclusion of individuals but understood why there was increasing opposition to cooperation with Israelis from some young activists.

“Most students’ only experience of ‘meeting’ Israelis is being arrested by soldiers and tortured by the Shin Bet [Israel’s intelligence service]. Without a doubt, it colours their view.”

The row about Hass prompted the university to hastily issue a statement in which it seemed to reverse policy. Staff and students would be told that the university opposed all “discrimination based on identity”. The statement added that Israelis “on the side of justice and humanity”, such as Hass, would always be welcomed on campus.

But many students appeared unhappy with the administration’s more conciliatory tone.

Shortly after the statement was issued, Bir Zeit’s student council demanded it be withdrawn. “We say that any Israeli Zionist is not welcome in Bir Zeit University,” Mustafa Mustafa, the student council’s leader, told the Associated Press news agency. “If Amira really supports the Palestinian struggle against the occupation, she needs to leave the country.”

The controversy was pounced on by commentators in Israel and abroad. In Commentary, a conservative US magazine, Evelyn Gordon asked: “How is peace possible when Birzeit [sic] is educating these future Palestinian leaders to believe all Israeli Jews should be shunned simply because they are Israeli Jews?”

No peace camp

Ghassan Khatib, a senior official at the university, told Middle East Eye that things had changed significantly since his time studying at Bir Zeit in the 1970s.

“At that time we would make huge efforts to find Israelis to meet or debate us. There were Israeli Jews who came to show solidarity when we were attacked by the occupation forces, including during the first intifada [in the late 1980s].”

The situation for today’s generation is very different, he said. “The [Israeli] peace camp has collapsed, and there is no visible debate in Israeli society about ending the occupation or even criticism of what happened in Gaza this summer. In that climate, young people cannot see a reason for any interaction and dialogue with Israelis.”

The debate about dealings with Israelis should be understood in the context of a wider policy across the Arab world opposing what is termed “normalisation”. According to this view, there should be no normal relations with Israel until the occupation ends.

Bir Zeit’s policy was formulated in the mid-1990s, at the time when the Palestinian leadership returned to the occupied territories from exile in Tunisia under the terms of the Oslo accords.

But while the Arab world has rarely needed to test the intricacies of its anti-normalisation approach, given its lack of public contacts with Israel, Palestinians in the occupied territories have found the policy more complicated to implement.

With the Palestinian economy almost completely dependent on Israel, casual labourers need permits to work in Israel or the settlements, business leaders require Israel’s assistance with exports and imports, and the Palestinian Authority has to cooperate closely with Israel on many matters, including security.

At the same time, Khatib observed, Israel’s policy of separation – culminating in the building of a wall across the West Bank and the “disengagement” from Gaza a decade ago – severely limited the possibility of contacts between Israelis and Palestinians. That was especially true, he said, in the Palestinian cities, which were designated by Israeli military regulations as off-limits to Israelis.

Barred from Ramallah

Sam Bahour, a businessman and political activist in Ramallah, said: “What makes no sense to me is that young people are vehemently protesting against any contact with Israeli Jews, even those who are on their side, and yet publicly they barely say a word against Palestinian security cooperation with Israel.”

He contrasted their position with that held in Palestinian rural areas close to the Green Line, which formally demarcates the boundary between Israel and the occupied territories. “There every week Israeli activists are coming to help Palestinian villagers struggle against the Israeli army’s confiscation of their lands.

“The irony is that farmers are fostering cooperation while Palestinian intellectuals and academics are opposed.”

Bahour cited his own bitter experiences two years ago when he tried to bring to Ramallah an Israeli group, Zochrot, that supports the right of return to Israel of Palestinian refugees expelled in the 1948 war, as well as their descendants. The right of return is possibly the biggest taboo in Israeli society.

The meeting, which was to have discussed strategies for effecting a return of the refugees, had to be cancelled after young Palestinian activists mounted a Facebook campaign threatening to disrupt the meeting.

In one post, an opponent called the meeting an “act of immoral normalisation”. Another protested at the Palestinians’ continuing dispossession by Israel: “When they drop their ‘Israeli citizenship’, I can look [at] them as partners, but since they [are] still living in my grandfather’s house in Akka, Yaffa, Safad, they [are] occupiers.”

“Such reactions show no understanding of the need to create political alliances and to break down barriers if we want to make progress on finding a solution to the conflict,” said Bahour.

“Israelis are no longer seen as an address. The view in the PA is that we can leapfrog over Israel to talk to Washington, while the activists behave as though we can leapfrog over Israelis to get help from solidarity groups in Europe.”

Big picture forgotten

Bahour blamed the lack of effective political leadership for encouraging sloganeering rather than organised and coherent action from Palestinian activists.

“The PA is talking about getting statehood at the UN but there is no debate about how we envision relations with Israelis post-occupation.”

Halper concurred. “It’s like Palestinians have given up on the occupation ever ending. No one talks about where Israelis fit in, no one is sure of the policy. That’s why Amira Hass gets caught up in this incident at Bir Zeit.”

Sami Kilani, a professor at An-Najah university in Nablus who signed the petition in support of Hass, said that, in expelling her, Bir Zeit had “forgotten the bigger picture”.

“It’s a self-defeating approach,” he told Middle East Eye. “An-Najah invites Israelis to come to meetings and conferences so that we can hear and learn from each other. But given Israel’s military restrictions, they usually either can’t or won’t come.”

Bahour and Kilani are among those hoping that Hass’ exclusion will force a more critical re-appraisal of popular notions of anti-normalisation.

Bahour said Bir Zeit’s policy was inconsistent with the more precise guidelines introduced since 2005 by the Palestinian movement calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, modelled on a similar campaign against apartheid South Africa.

Precarious situation

Barghouti, one of the founders of the BDS movement, said the guidelines for boycott did not apply to individuals, only to institutions and projects that failed to follow the principle of what he called “co-resistance”.

BDS’ three official goals are: an end to the occupation, a right of return for Palestinian refugees, and equal rights for Palestinian citizens in Israel.

Barghouti added that the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) had never requested that Palestinian universities endorse BDS, aware of their precarious situation under occupation.

Some commentators, however, have suggested that the action against Hass was in accordance with BDS.

They have observed that Hass was expelled from the meeting after she had registered herself as a representative of the Haaretz newspaper, an institution that would be covered by the call for boycott.

Hass noted in her report that she had been on the campus many times before without incident. But she also pointed out that she had been personally barred from attending an Arabic course at the university in 1998.

The Myth of “America”

October 13th, 2014 by Dahr Jamail

Happy Columbus Day

    Columbus sailed the ocean blue in Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two …

    May the spirit of adventure and discovery always be with you.

    Wishing you a great Columbus Day - Columbus Day greeting card

 

To mark Columbus Day In 2004, the Medieval and Renaissance Center in UCLA published the final volume of a compendium of Columbus-era documents. Its general editor, Geoffrey Symcox, leaves little room for ambivalence when he says, “This is not your grandfather’s Columbus…. While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing – not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting biblical scripture – to advance his ambitions…. Many of the unflattering documents have been known for the last century or more, but nobody paid much attention to them until recently. The fact that Columbus brought slavery, enormous exploitation or devastating diseases to the Americas used to be seen as a minor detail – if it was recognized at all – in light of his role as the great bringer of white man’s civilization to the benighted idolatrous American continent. But to historians today this information is very important. It changes our whole view of the enterprise.”

But does it?

“They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells,” Christopher Columbus wrote in his logbook in 1495. “They willingly traded everything they owned…. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane…. They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”

Catholic priest Bartolome de las Casas, in the multi-volume “History of the Indies” published in 1875, wrote, “… Slaves were the primary source of income for the Admiral (Columbus) with that income he intended to repay the money the Kings were spending in support of Spaniards on the Island. They provide profit and income to the Kings. (The Spaniards were driven by) insatiable greed … killing, terrorizing, afflicting, and torturing the native peoples … with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty.”

This systematic violence was aimed at preventing “Indians from daring to think of themselves as human beings. (The Spaniards) thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades…. My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write.”

Father Fray Antonio de Montesino, a Dominican preacher, in December 1511 said this in a sermon that implicated Christopher Columbus and the colonists in the genocide of the native peoples:

“Tell me by what right of justice do you hold these Indians in such a cruel and horrible servitude? On what authority have you waged such detestable wars against these people who dealt quietly and peacefully on their own lands? Wars in which you have destroyed such an infinite number of them by homicides and slaughters never heard of before …”

In 1892, the National Council of Churches, the largest ecumenical body in the United States, is known to have exhorted Christians to refrain from celebrating the Columbus quincentennial, saying, “What represented newness of freedom, hope, and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation and genocide for others.”

Yet America continues to celebrate “Columbus Day.”

That Americans do so in the face of all evidence that there is little in the Columbian legacy that merits applause makes it easier for them to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions, or the actions of their government. Perhaps there is good reason.

In “Columbus Day: A Clash of Myth and History,” journalist and media critic Norman Solomon discusses how historians who deal with recorded evidence are frequently depicted as “politically correct” revisionists while the general populace is manipulated into holding onto myths that brazenly applaud inconceivable acts of violence of men against fellow humans.

For those of us who are willing to ask how it becomes possible to manipulate the population of a country into accepting atrocity, the answer is not hard to find. It requires normalizing the inconceivable and drumming it in via the socio-cultural environment until it is internalized and embedded in the individual and collective consciousness. The combined or singular deployment of the media, the entertainment industry, mainstream education or any other agency, can achieve the desired result of convincing people that wars can be just, and strikes can be surgical, as long as it is the US that is doing it.

Never has this process been as blatant and overt as in recent years when the time has come for America to legitimize the idea of global domination. A Department of Defense report titled Joint Vision 2020 calls for the US military to be capable of “full spectrum dominance” of the entire planet. That means total domination and control of all land, sea, air, space and information.

That’s a lot of control.

How might this become accepted as “Policy” and remain unquestioned by almost an entire population?

The one word key to that is: Myths. The explanation is that the myths the United States is built upon have paved the way for the perpetuation of all manner of violations.

Among the first of these is that of Christopher Columbus. In school we were taught of his bravery, courage and perseverance. In a speech in 1989, George H.W. Bush proclaimed: “Christopher Columbus not only opened the door to a New World, but also set an example for us all by showing what monumental feats can be accomplished through perseverance and faith.”

Never mind that the monumental feats mainly comprised part butchery, part exploitation and the largest part betrayal of host populations of the “New World.”

On their second arrival in Hispaniola, Haiti, Columbus’s crew took captive roughly two thousand local villagers who had arrived to greet them. Miguel Cuneo, a literate crew member, wrote, “When our caravels … were to leave for Spain, we gathered … one thousand six hundred male and female persons of those Indians, and these we embarked in our caravels on February 17, 1495…. For those who remained, we let it be known (to the Spaniards who manned the island’s fort) in the vicinity that anyone who wanted to take some of them could do so, to the amount desired, which was done.”

In 1500, Columbus wrote to a friend, “A hundred castellanoes (a Spanish coin) are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten (years old) are now in demand.”

Such original “monumental feats” as were accomplished by our nation’s heroes and role models were somewhat primitive. Local inhabitants who resisted Columbus and his crew had their ears or nose cut off, were attacked by dogs, skewered with pikes and shot. Reprisals were so severe that many of the natives committed mass suicide and women began practicing abortions in order not to leave children enslaved. The population of Haiti at the time of Columbus’s arrival was between 1.5 million and 3 million. Sixty years later, every single native had been murdered.

Today, “perseverance and faith” allow us to accomplish much more and with far greater impunity. The US continues to liberate Iraq and Afghanistan with 2,000-pound bombs in civilian areas and purge Pakistan via drone attacks on weddings.

Neither case is of isolated whimsy. It was and remains policy.

In “A People’s History of the United States,” celebrated historian Howard Zinn describes how Arawak men and women emerged from their villages to greet their guests with food, water and gifts when Columbus landed at the Bahamas. But Columbus wanted something else. “Gold is most excellent; gold constitutes treasure; and he who has it does all he wants in the world, and can even lift souls up to Paradise,” he wrote to the king and queen of Spain in 1503.

Rather than gold, however, Columbus only found slaves when he arrived on his second visit with seventeen ships and over 1,200 men. Ravaging various Caribbean islands, Columbus took natives as captives as he sailed. Of these he picked 500 of the best specimens and shipped them back to Spain. Two hundred of these died en route, while the survivors were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town where they landed.

Columbus needed more than mere slaves to sell, and Zinn’s account informs us, “… desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, (he) had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

“The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.”

As a younger priest, the aforementioned De las Casas had participated in the conquest of Cuba and owned a plantation where natives worked as slaves before he found his conscience and gave it up. His first-person accounts reveal that the Spaniards “thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades. They forced their way into native settlements, slaughtering everyone they found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, and even women who had just given birth. They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were sheep herded into a pen. They even laid wagers on whether they could manage to slice a man in two at a stroke, or cut an individual’s head from his body, or disembowel him with a single blow of their axes. They grabbed suckling infants by the feet and, ripping them from their mothers’ breasts, dashed them headlong against the rocks. Others, laughing and joking all the while, threw them over their shoulders into a river, shouting: ‘Wriggle, you litle perisher.’ They slaughtered anyone on their path …”

Full Spectrum Dominance

In a letter to the Spanish court dated February 15, 1492, Columbus presented his version of full spectrum dominance: “to conquer the world, spread the Christian faith and regain the Holy Land and the Temple Mount.”

With this radical ideology, Las Casas records, “They spared no one, erecting especially wide gibbets on which they could string their victims up with their feet just off the ground and then burned them alive thirteen at a time, in honour of our Saviour and the twelve Apostles.”

About incorporating these accounts in his book, Zinn explained to Truthout, “My point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners. Those tears, that anger, cast into the past, deplete our moral energy for the present … but I do remember a statement I once read: The cry of the poor is not always just, but if you don’t listen to it, you will never know what justice is.”

Author journalist Chris Hedges believes that glorification of (the atrocities of) Columbus is one of several myths that sustain the illusions that justify the imperial visions of the United States.

In conversation with Truthout, he said, “It’s really easy to build a holocaust museum that condemns Germans. It’s another issue to build a museum that confronts our own genocide, the genocide that was perpetrated by our own ancestors towards Native Americans or towards African-Americans. I am all for documenting and remembering the [World War II] Holocaust, but the disparity between the reality of the [World War II] Holocaust or the reality of the genocide as illustrated in the [World War II] Holocaust museum and the utter historical amnesia in the Native American museum in Washington is really frightening and shows a complete inability in a public arena for us to examine who we are and what we’ve done.”

Noam Chomsky holds a similar view. “We have [World War II] Holocaust museums all over the place about what the Germans did,” Chomsky told Truthout. “Do we have one about what we did? I mean about slavery, about the Native American population? It’s not that the people involved didn’t know about it. John Quincy Adams, a great grand strategist, who had a major role in these atrocities, in his later years when he reflected on them, referred to that hapless race of North Americans, which we are exterminating with such insidious cruelty. They knew exactly what they were doing. But it doesn’t matter. It’s us.”

Explaining how the mythology of a country becomes its historic reality, Chomsky stated, “If you are well-educated, you can internalize that and it. That’s part of what a good education is about, enabling people to live with those contradictions. And you see it very consistently. In the case of, say, the Iraq war, try to find somebody who had a principled objection. Actually you can, occasionally, but it’s suppressed.”

Historical revisionism and amnesia are critical for nation-building, opines Paul Woodward, the writer and author of the blog “War In Context“. He elaborates, “Every nation is subject to its own particular form of historical amnesia. Likewise, imperial powers have their own grandiose revisionist tendencies. Yet there is another form of historical denial particular to recently invented nations whose myth-making efforts are inextricably bound together with the process of the nation’s birth …

“Whereas older nations are by and large populated by people whose ancestral roots penetrated that land well before it took on the clear definition of a nation state, the majority of the people in an invented nation – such as the United States or Israel – have ancestry that inevitably leads elsewhere. This exposes the ephemeral link between the peoples’ history and the nation’s history. Add to that the fact that such nations came into being through grotesque acts of dispossession and it is clear that a psychological drive to hold aloft an atemporal exceptionalism becomes an existential necessity. National security requires that the past be erased.”

Robert Jensen is an author and teaches media law, ethics and politics at the University of Texas. In an essay where he justifies his decision to not celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday, he says, “Imagine that Germany won World War II and that a Nazi regime endured for some decades, eventually giving way to a more liberal state with a softer version of German-supremacist ideology. Imagine that a century later Germans celebrated a holiday offering a whitewashed version of German/Jewish history that ignored that holocaust and the deep anti-Semitism of the culture. Imagine that the holiday provided a welcomed time for families and friends to gather and enjoy food and conversation. Imagine that businesses, schools and government offices closed on this day. What would we say about such a holiday? Would we not question the distortions woven into such a celebration? Would we not demand a more accurate historical account? Would we not, in fact, denounce such a holiday as grotesque?”

Of course we would.

But our story is different, and once again this year, on October 12, we will once again “Hail Columbus.”

Bhaswati Sengupta contributed to this report.

Columbus or Native American Day?

October 13th, 2014 by Eric Walberg

The writing is on the wall for Columbus Day. In the latest move to rid the calendar of its day of infamy, in April, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. Many American Indians have long resisted the observance of a day to honor Christopher Columbus.

Since 1970, the holiday has been fixed to the second Monday in October, coincidentally the same day as Thanksgiving in Canada—another holiday of dubious origins from the native point of view. Most states celebrate Columbus Day as an official state holiday, though already many states are uncomfortable with the reality of Columbus, and mark it as a “Day of Observance” or “Recognition”.

Alaska and Oregon do not recognize Columbus Day at all. Hawaii calls it Discoverers’ Day, which commemorates the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii, though not as a legal holiday.

The first governor with the smarts to foresee the political astuteness of at least balancing the holiday scales was ironically California’s Ronald Reagan. He proposed adding a holiday in September called American Indian Day. Interestingly, Reagan played the ill-fated General Custer in the 1940 blockbuster Santa Fe Trail. Another Hollywood icon, Marlon Brando, gave the movement to reassess colonial chauvinism prominence with his 1973 refusal of the Oscar for Best Actor in The Godfather in protest to treatment of Native Americans in movies.

In 1989, South Dakota decided to change its name for the October holiday “Native American Day”, and keep it as a non-work day devoted to educating citizens about Native American heritage. The South Dakotans also declared 1990 as a “Year of Reconciliation”. Berkley California adopted the name Native American Day in 1992, California and Washington state joined them in 1998, and other municipalities have kept up the momentum over the past decade.

Despite the later dominance of Spain and Britain as the colonizing powers, Italians were the earliest explorers. Apart from Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci explored the east coast of South America, and his name was adapted to the entire hemisphere.

In 1792, New York City and other US cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of Columbus’s landing in the ‘New World’, and the flood of Italian immigrants led New York Italians to celebrate the day in a big way in 1866. Ironically, the first opposition to the day was by WASP Americans anxious to eradicate Columbus Day celebrations because of their association with these (Catholic) immigrants and their ‘Knights of Columbus’.

It did not occur to Americans fresh from decimating the indigenous peoples and stealing their land that celebrating their own good fortune was unseemly, so the day became a holiday in many states, and finally a federally recognized holiday in 1937. It was used by teachers, preachers, poets and politicians to teach ideals of patriotism, especially support for war, US citizenship, its ever-expanding national boundaries, and social progress.

Columbus’s navigational feats have traditionally been celebrated throughout the Americas. In Haiti and Santo Domingo (Hispaniola) December 5 is Discovery Day. In Brazil, Discovery Day (in April) commemorates the day when Pedro Alvares Cabral became the first European to land in Brazil in 1500.

The Dia de la Raza (“Day of the Race”), like Columbus Day on or near October 12, originally celebrated the Spanish ‘race’, both in the colonies and the motherland, though by 1918, Mexican philosopher Antonio Caso took it as an opportunity to praise the “Mexican mestizo race”. In 1928, the Dia de la Raza was declared an official national holiday in Mexico, and other Latin American countries followed suit.

Despite the notoriety of the Spanish conquerors, they were in fact less awful than the French and British. “Spain was constantly debating with itself: ‘Am I right, am I wrong? What is it I’m doing with these peoples?’” notes Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes in The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World (1992).

In 1552 Dominican Bishop Bartolomé de Las Casas published “A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies”. Bernal Díaz, a soldier in Cortés’ army wrote a history of the conquest of Mexico. “We came here to serve God, and also to get rich.” University of California (Berkeley) prof Woodrow Borah points out that, “The Spanish made a place for the Indians—as part of the lowest order, but at least they had a place”, whereas, “North Americans in many cases simply exterminated the Indians.”

Instead of Day of the Race, Argentina has a Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity. Spain renamed Race Day as National Day in 1987. In 1994, Costa Rica changed the official holiday from Dia de la Raza to Dia de las Culturas (Day of the Cultures) to recognize the mix of European, American, African and Asian cultures. Bahamas changed its Discovery Day to National Heroes Day in 2001.

Venezuela changed Race Day to Day of Indigenous Resistance in 2002. In 2004 activists toppled the statue of Christopher Columbus in Caracas and wrote: “Just like the statue of Saddam in Baghdad, that of Columbus the tyrant also fell this October 12 in Caracas.

The momentum to cancel Columbus Day went global in 1990, when 350 Native Americans met in Ecuador and launched the campaign. The American Indian Movement declared October 12, 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s landing, “International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People”. The National Council of Churches called on Christians to refrain from celebrating the Columbus quincentennial, saying, “What represented newness of freedom, hope, and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation and genocide for others.”

In a 2000 press release, the American Indian Movement called Columbus “the beginning of the American holocaust, ethnic cleansing characterized by murder, torture, raping, pillaging, robbery, slavery, kidnapping, and forced removals of Indian people from their homelands.”

In Canada, there was never a Columbus Day (it was too cold for him). The closest is Discovery Day in Newfoundland and Labrador in June, commemorating John Cabot’s ‘discovery’ of Newfoundland in 1497. National Aboriginal Day (June 21) was established in 1996 though not as a legal holiday, as part of the “Celebrate Canada” series, followed by St-Jean Baptiste Day on June 24, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27, and concluding with Canada Day on July 1.

Nova Scotians have Treaty Day October 1, honoring the Treaty of 1752 and the date on which the Mi’kmaw people would receive gifts from the Crown to “renew their friendship and submissions.” But the only Canadians to honor native bloodlines with a statutory holiday are Manitobans, with Louis Riel Day in February (when other Canadians have Family Day) in honor of the Métis leader regarded as the Father of Manitoba.

However, we must ask ‘What’s in a name?’ There has been little sign of genuine reconciliation to date between conquerors and the conquered—with the possible exception of the South Dakotans, who have the third highest proportion of indigenous peoples and seven large reservations.

Reagan’s astute move in 1968 was more a precognition of the growing wave of political correctness and identity politics that became the hallmark of the post-communist New World Order which Reagan’s vice president, Bush Senior, was soon to declare.

In 2005, the UN recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorates the Nazi killing of Jews, Roma and homosexuals on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, by Soviet troops. It’s time to take the campaign to recognize the much worse genocide against Native Americans (not to mention the plight of African slaves) to the UN and follow it up with real measures to promote “reconciliation”. WWII is only the tip of the imperialist iceberg.

A version of this appeared at PressTV

I have come to the conclusion that the West is a vast lie machine for the secret agendas of vested interests. Consider, for example, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Transpacific Trade and Investment Partnership.

These so-called “partnerships” are in fact vehicles by which US corporations make themselves immune to the sovereign laws of foreign countries in which they do business. A sovereign country that attempts to enforce its laws against an American corporation can be sued by the corporation for “restraint of trade.” For example, if Monsanto wants to sell GMO seeds in France or US corporations wish to sell genetically-modified foods in France, and France enforces its laws against GMOs, the Transatlantic Trade Partnership allows France to be sued in jurisdictions outside the courts of France for “restraint of trade.” In other words, preventing the entry into France of a prohibited product constitutes restraint of trade.

This is the reason that the US has insisted that the Transatlantic and Transpacific Partnerships be totally secretive and negotiated outside the democratic process. Not even the US Congress has been permitted knowledge of the negotiations.

Obviously, the Europeans and Asians who are agreeing with the terms of these “partnerships” are the bought-and-paid-for agents of the US corporations. If the partnerships go through, the only law in Europe and Asia will be US law. The European and Asian government officials who agree to the hegemony of US corporations over the laws of their countries will be so handsomely paid that they could enter the realm of the One Percent.

It is interesting to compare the BBC’s coverage (October 10) with that of RT (October 11). The BBC reports that the aim of the Transatlantic Partnership is to remove “barriers to bilateral commerce” and to stimulate more trade and investment, economic growth and employment. The BBC does not report that the removal of barriers includes barriers against GMO products.

Everyone knows that the European Commission is corrupt. Who would be surprised if its members hope to be enriched by the American corporations? Little wonder the European Commission declared that concerns that the Transatlantic partnership would impact the sovereignty of countries is misplaced.  http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29572475

RT, which is restrained in reporting truth because it operates inside the US, still manages to come to the point in its headline: “No TTIP: Mass protests slam US-EU trade deal as ‘Corporate power grab’.”

All over Europe people are in the streets in mass rallies against secret agreements by their corrupt governments for Washington to take over their lives and businesses. RT reports that “social networks have been mobilized for a mass campaign that has been calling on Europeans and Americans to take action against ‘the biggest corporate power grab in a decade’.”

RT quotes a leader of the demonstration in Berlin who says the secret agreements “give corporations more rights they’ve ever had in history.” As we all know, corporations already have too many rights.

“Protests are planned in 22 countries across Europe–marches, rallies and other public events–in over 1,000 locations in UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Poland, The Czech Republic and Scandinavian countries.”

Did you hear about this latest American corporate power grab from Fox “News,” CNN, New York Times, London Times, ABC? Of course not. Did you hear about the massive protests against it? Of course not. You only hear what the interest groups permit you to hear.

RT reports that the main aim of the international protests is “to reclaim democracy” and to put an end to the secret deals that are destroying life for everyone but the American corporations, organizations now regarded worldwide as the epitome of evil.
http://rt.com/news/195144-europe-protests-stop-ttip/

These phony “trade agreements” are advocated as “free trade removal of tariffs,” but what they remove are the sovereignties of countries. America is already ruled by corporations. If these faux “trade agreements” go through, Europe and Asia will also be ruled by American corporations.

American politicians are fond of telling their audiences that the United States is the greatest country in the world.  Is there any evidence for this claim?

Well, yes.  When it comes to violence and preparations for violence, the United States is, indeed, No. 1.  In 2013, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the U.S. government accounted for 37 percent of world military expenditures, putting it far ahead of all other nations.  (The two closest competitors, China and Russia, accounted for 11 percent and 5 percent respectively.)  From 2004 to 2013, the United States was also the No. 1 weapons exporter in the world.  Moreover, given the U.S. government’s almost continuous series of wars and acts of military intervention since 1941, it seems likely that it surpasses all rivals when it comes to international violence.

This record is paralleled on the domestic front, where the United States has more guns and gun-related deaths than any other country.  A study released in late 2013 reported that the United States had 88 guns for every 100 people, and 40 gun-related deaths for every 400,000 people―the most of any of the 27 economically developed countries surveyed.  By contrast, in Britain there were 6 guns per 100 people and 1 gun-related death per 400,000 people.

Yet, in a great many other areas, the United States is not No. 1 at all.

Take education.  In late 2013, the Program for International Student Assessment released a report on how 15-year old students from 65 nations performed on its tests.  The report showed that U.S. students ranked 17th in reading and 21st in math.  An international survey a bit earlier that year by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the ranking was slightly worse for American adults.  In 2014, Pearson, a multinational educational services company, placed the United States 20th in the world in “educational attainment”―well behind Poland and the Slovak Republic.

American healthcare and health fare even worse.  In a 2014 study of healthcare (including infant mortality, healthy life expectancy, and mortality from preventable conditions) in 11 advanced industrial countries, the Commonwealth Fund concluded that the United States ranked last among them.  According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. healthcare system ranks 30th in the world.  Other studies reach somewhat different conclusions, but all are very unflattering to the United States, as are studies of American health.  The United States, for example, has one of the world’s worst cancer rates (the seventh highest), and life expectancy is declining compared to other nations.  An article in the Washington Post in late 2013 reported that the United States ranked 26th among nations in life expectancy, and that the average American lifespan had fallen a year behind the international average.

What about the environment?  Specialists at Yale University have developed a highly sophisticated Environmental Performance Index to examine the behavior of nations.  In the area of protection of human health from environmental harm, their 2014 index placed the United States 35th in health impacts, 36th in water and sanitation, and 38th in air quality.  In the other area studied―protection of ecosystems―the United States ranked 32nd in water resources, 49th in climate and energy, 86th in biodiversity and habitat, 96th in fisheries, 107th in forests, and 109th in agriculture.

These and other areas of interest are dealt with by the Social Progress Index, which was developed by Michael Porter, an eminent professor of business (and a Republican) at Harvard.  According to Porter and his team, in 2014 the United States ranked 23rd in access to information and communications, 24th in nutrition and basic medical care, 31st in personal safety, 34th in water and sanitation, 39th in access to basic knowledge, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, and 70th in health and wellness.

The widespread extent of poverty, especially among children, remains a disgrace in one of the world’s wealthiest nations.  A 2013 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund noted that, of the 35 economically advanced countries that had been studied, only Rumania had a higher percentage of children living in poverty than did the United States.

Of course, the United States is not locked into these dismal rankings and the sad situation they reveal about the health, education, and welfare of its citizens.  It could do much better if its vast wealth, resources, and technology were employed differently than they are at present.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of priorities.  When most U.S. government discretionary spending goes for war and preparations for war, it should come as no surprise that the United States emerges No. 1 among nations in its capacity for violence and falls far behind other nations in providing for the well-being of its people.

Americans might want to keep this in mind as their nation embarks upon yet another costly military crusade.

Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany.  His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, What’s Going On at UAardvark?

The Syrian Lie: What Happens When Liberals Go to War

October 13th, 2014 by 21st Century Wire

The facade of the new US-led campaign to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS/ISIL in Syria is quickly shaping-up as a bad joke.

For nearly three years now, 21WIRE has been reporting on how Washington and London, along with the GCC feudal kings, have been busy plotting, planning, funding and doing destabilization in Syria (view our Syria Archives here). Instead, what the public have is a steady stream of tired lies regarding the real US-UK-Turkey-GCC axis motivations in Syria.

If you truly want to know how ISIS came to infest Syria (or Iraq for that matter) just ask Hillary Clinton about her little project called, ‘Friends of Syria’ which ran from 2011-2013. Funny how she jumped ship from her Secretary of State position just months before the West nearly declared war against Damascus in September 2013. Under Hillary’s nurturing care, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra and ISIS – were somehow funded, manned, armed and encouraged to run wild through Syria because the Great and the Good thought they’d help to displace the regime of Syria’s maligned leaderBashar al-Assad.

Few in mainstream media or politics cared to listen – until now. Finally, they are beginning to catch up on the harsh reality of the global imperium’s latest Middle East Mongolian Barbecue.

Granted, both Right and Left will bomb away – no matter what the public think. But each wing of the Establishment has its own unique style of chaos. Sadly, they are still clinging to tired old 20th century political mythologies…

When Neoconservatives go to war, it’s “bomb now, ask questions later”. Fine, take it or leave it. It’s easy to follow, and does what it says on the can. But when liberals get the itch to bomb, things quickly get super-complicated with doublespeak and newspeak, because a liberal, or left-wing Administration in the US just can’t be perceived as drifting to the right (which Democrats have done). That ‘warmonger’ parking space in Washington is traditionally reserved for Republicans and the right-wing.

It’s the kind, gentler, ‘more thoughtful war’. Call it beating around the bush, or just being sneaky, but that’s what happens when Liberals Go to War.

To preserve the Right-Left polarity in the US, the US media normally go to unusual lengths to obscure any obvious geopolitical play, disguising it as a ‘humanitarian’ effort, as the Washington invokes the ‘Right to Protect’ (RTP) moral clause as political cover, which is nothing more thanManifest Destiny in drag. The reason for this is elementary: in America, a Democratic White House cannot risk awakening their Occupy or Code Pink street mobs as to the true nature of their warmongering. That’s why the left needs to twist it.

So, at great pains, President Obama, the man who claims to have slain Osama bin Laden, made an awkward ‘right turn’ by declaring the ISIS Campaign as a grandiose ‘anti-terror operation’ and not a liberal-style humanitarian intervention. “The only language killers like this understand, is the language of force”, said Obama at the UN. For his legal out, Obama could not go so far as to qualify it as a war. On top of all that, Washington is still sticking by their pledge to “arm and train the moderate rebels in Syria”, while most experts are now admitting there are no ‘moderate rebels’. They will also tell you that building a new desert army will not accomplish anything other than lead to emergence of a another new Islamic terror gang sprouting out of the West’s latest paramilitary death squad. No surprise then that the White House and its Sorority State State Department are now tripping over their shoe laces over their non-committal commitment to “stop ISIS in Syria”.

You know the levies of lies are breaking when traditionally left-leaning outlets like Counter Punch start publishing insightful and truthful pieces like this article (As ISIS Slaughters Kurds in Kobani, the U.S. Bombs Syrian Grain Silos) – a damning indictment of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain’s bloodbath in Syria. The political fragmentation in the US is serious – even Vice President Joe Biden is distancing himself from his colleagues’ ugly ISIS mess.

The short-sighted failure of Washington agents of change is now laid bare for the whole world to see…


YOU TALKING TO ME? Syrian President Bashar al-Assad being blanked by a failing US Coalition fighting ISIS (Photo: Skeptical Libertarian)

Concerns are growing that we are heading for another banking crisis, one that could be far worse than in 2008.  But this time, there will be no government bailouts. Instead, per the Dodd-Frank Act, bankrupt banks will be confiscating (or “bailing in”) their customers’ deposits.

That includes local government deposits. The fact that public funds are secured with collateral may not protect them, as explained earlier here. Derivative claims now get paid first in a bank bankruptcy; and derivative losses could be huge, wiping out the collateral for other claims.

In a September 24th article titled “5 U.S. Banks Each Have More Than 40 Trillion Dollars In Exposure To Derivatives, Michael Snyder warns:

Trading in derivatives is basically just a form of legalized gambling, and the “too big to fail” banks have transformed Wall Street into the largest casino in the history of the planet. When this derivatives bubble bursts (and as surely as I am writing this it will), the pain that it will cause the global economy will be greater than words can describe.

The too-big-to-fail banks have collectively grown 37% larger since 2008. Five banks now account for 42% of all US loans, and six banks control 67% of all banking assets.

Besides their reckless derivatives gambling, these monster-sized banks have earned our distrust by being caught in a litany of frauds. In an article in Forbes titled “Big Banks and Derivatives: Why Another Financial Crisis Is Inevitable,” Steve Denning lists rigging municipal bond interest rates, LIBOR price-fixing, foreclosure abuses, money laundering, tax evasion, and misleading clients with worthless securities.

Particularly harmful to local governments have been interest rate swaps misrepresented as protecting government agencies from higher rates.

Yet as Michael Snyder observes:

At this point our economic system is so completely dependent on these banks that there is no way that it can function without them. . . . We are steamrolling toward the greatest financial disaster in world history, and nobody is doing much of anything to stop it.

Sidestepping the Steamroller

California Governor Jerry Brown sees it coming. Rather than rebuilding the state’s crumbling infrastructure, rehiring teachers and other public employees, and taking other steps to restore the Golden State to its former prosperity, he has proposed a constitutional amendment requiring all excess state revenues to go into a rainy day fund to prepare for the next crisis.

But there is a better way forward.

In North Dakota – the only state to post a budget surplus every year since 2001 – the state owns its own bank. When the state last went over-budget in 2001 due to the Dot.com crisis, it merely issued itself an extra dividend through the Bank of North Dakota – the only state-owned depository bank in the country – and the next year it was back on track.

Other local governments would do well to follow suit, not just for the promising profit potential, but as protection against a “bail in” of public deposits.

Forming their own banks can also protect local governments from a looming and  unaffordable rise in municipal bond interest rates. State treasurers fear that the Fed’s September 2014 exclusion of municipal bonds from the category of “high quality liquid assets” that big banks must hold will drive up bond rates, as it shrinks the market for those bonds and drives up the interest required to attract buyers.

There is also the big money local governments lose to Wall Street just in fees. A 2013 study found that the city of Los Angeles spends over $200 million annually on big bank fees and management – more than its budget to maintain its extensive streets and highways.

In a recent press conference, Mayor Javier Gonzalez of Santa Fe raised provocative questions facing all elected officials today. He said:

Right now our bank is Wells Fargo.  They serve the City according to our contract.  But they also take city revenues, taxpayer dollars, and they use those taxpayer dollars as part of their loan portfolio that goes to places outside of Santa Fe and certainly outside of New Mexico.  And when you think of that most basic concept of taxpayer money being used to earn revenues for national banks that have reduced their small business lending by 53%, you have to pause and wonder – is this the best structure for our community?

Addressing these concerns, Mayor Gonzalez has launched a formal process to study the feasibility of a city-owned bank of Santa Fe. Public banking efforts are also underway in other cities and states.

How to Start a Bank Overnight

Forming a state or municipal public bank need not be slow or expensive. An online bank could be run out of the Treasurer’s office and operational in a few months. And the bank could be turning a profit immediately – without spending the local government’s own revenues.

How? The way Wall Street does it with our public deposits and investments: by leveraging. We could reclaim those funds and put them to work for our local economies.

The bank could be capitalized with a bond issue (borrowing from the public), and this capital could be leveraged into a loan portfolio that is about eight times the capital base. The bond issue could be financed with 1/8th of the interest accruing from this portfolio. The remaining 7/8th could be pocketed as profit.

This profit could be earned immediately and without risk, by buying municipal bonds rather than issuing loans. That move could also help municipalities, by guaranteeing that their bond rates remain low in the face of threatened interest rate rises on the private market.

How to Start a Bank at Virtually No Cost or Risk

To demonstrate the safety and viability of the model, the bank can start small and build from there. For startup capital, a new bank needs anywhere from a few million to $20 million nationwide. (The amount varies from state to state.) To be cautious and conservative, however, let’s say $40 million.

Many cities have this money available in “rainy day” or reserve funds. Many others have substantial investments, often underperforming, that could be more responsibly invested as an equity position in a bank. In California, for example, a whopping $55 billion is languishing in the Treasurer’s Pooled Money Investment Account, earning a mere 0.23% interest.

Moving a portion of those funds into the state’s own bank would just be good portfolio management. State pension funds are another investment option.

If surplus funds are not available, capital can be raised with a bond issue. (That is how the Bank of North Dakota got its start in 1919.) Assume the interest due on these bonds is 3%. The local government’s cost of funds will be $1.2 million annually.

At a 10% capital requirement, $40 million is sufficient to capitalize $400 million in loans. But again assume the bank is started conservatively at a 20% capitalization, for a loan portfolio of $200 million.

To make those loans, the bank will need deposits. These can be acquired without advertising or other costs, by moving $200 million out of the local government’s existing deposit account at JPMorgan Chase or another Wall Street bank. (In North Dakota, all of the state’s revenues are deposited by law in its state-owned bank.) Assume the new bank pays 0.3% interest on these deposits, or $0.6 million annually as its cost of funds.

To satisfy the 10% reserve requirement for deposits (something different from the capital requirement), $20 million of this deposit pool would be held in reserve. The remaining $180 million are counted as “excess reserves,” which can be used to make an equivalent sum in loans or bond purchases.

Assume the excess reserves are used to buy local municipal bonds paying 3% annually. The return to the bank will be $5.4 million less $0.6 million in interest on the deposits, for a total of  $4.8 million annually.

To recoup the cost of the bond issue, $1.2 million can be paid from these profits as a dividend to the local government. The bank will then have a net profit of $3.6 million annually; and this profit will have accrued to the local government as the bank’s owner, without needing to advance any money from its own budget.

What if the state needs its deposits for its budget?

That is the beauty of being a bank rather than a revolving fund: banks do not actually lend their deposits, as the Bank of England recently acknowledged. Rather, they createdeposits when they make loans. If the state or local government needs more cash for its operating expenses than the bank has kept in reserve, the bank can do what all banks do: it can borrow. And if it has grown to be a large bank, it can borrow quickly and cheaply – from other banks through the Fed funds market at 0.25%, or from the money market at 0.15%.

A smaller public bank might want to keep a larger cushion of deposits in reserve for liquidity purposes. If it keeps 30% in reserve, in the above example $140 million would be left to invest in bonds, generating $4.2 million annually in interest. Deducting $1.8 million as the cost of servicing deposits and capital, the bank would still generate $2.4 million in profit, while providing a safe place to park public revenues.

What of the bank’s operating costs? These can be kept quite low. The Bank of North Dakota operates without branches, tellers, ATMs, retail services, mega-salaries or mega-bonuses. All those saved costs fall to the bank’s bottom line.

Ballpark operating expenses for a small but growing public bank with a President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Lending Officer, Chief Credit Risk Management Officer, Compliance Officer, and the systems required to support a banking function are estimated at under $1 million per year. A start-up focused on municipal bonds could be operated for even less. This expense could come out of the initial $40 million in capitalization, again without impairing the local government’s own operating budget.

Manifesting the Bank’s Full Potential

Once a charter has been obtained and sound banking practices have been demonstrated, the capital ratio can be dropped toward 10%. When the bank has built up a sufficient capital cushion, it can begin to work with community banks and other financial institutions for the broad range of commercial lending that creates jobs and prosperity and generates profits as non-tax revenue for the municipality, following the Bank of North Dakota model.

The public bank can also invest in infrastructure loans to the state or local government itself. Interest now composes about half of capital outlays for public projects. Since the local government will own the bank, it will get this interest back, cutting infrastructure costs in half.

These are just a few of the possibilities for a publicly-owned bank, which can provide security from risk while generating a far greater return on the local government’s money than it is getting now on its Wall Street deposit accounts. As we peer into the jaws of another economic meltdown, moving our public funds into our own banks is an investment we can hardly afford not to make.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 200+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.